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Author Topic: Meetings, Misleadings, and Moles  (Read 2589 times)

Joel

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Meetings, Misleadings, and Moles
« on: June 24, 2005, 04:10:04 pm »

Two men got out of the car.  They wore suits with unbuttoned jackets.  The driver’s eyes moved constantly, taking in every detail of his surroundings.  He had the air of a man working very hard not to appear tense.

What the hell is he scared of?

The other man was pretty clearly the leader of this merry little band.  He paused beside the car after he closed the door, then strode toward Walter.  Walter remained in his chair.

“Good morning!” he said.  “Are you Walter Fajardo?”

“That’s me.”

He reached into his jacket and produced a leather case.  Inside the case was an ornate gold badge and an ID card.  “I’m Al Winston, Mr. Fajardo.  Special Agent with the FBI.”

“What can I do for you?”

“Well, I was just wondering if we could have a friendly chat, you and I.”

Walter slowly got to his feet.  He measured every movement against the possibility that it could be rewarded with a .30 caliber bullet.

“So tell me, Mr. Winston.  Do you always surround yourself with sniper teams when you want a friendly chat?”  Walter was taking a chance here; he didn’t know there were snipers in the woods.  But Gallatin said there was something unusual out there, and it was unlikely to be deer.

Winston looked nonplussed, then gave him a rueful smile.  “Okay,” he said.  “Let’s say I hope it’ll be friendly.”

“Let’s cut through this, shall we?  You’re here because an IRS agent has gone missing, and you think I had something to do with it.”

Winston took a step back.  “Would you like to explain how you know about that?”

Walter laughed.  “Hell, everybody knows about it.  I heard about it two days ago, when you guys first came into Deer Lodge so unobtrusively.  I’ve been wondering why you took so long to come here.

“But I’m going to save us both a lot of bullshit.”  Walter looked straight into Winston’s eyes.  “As God is my witness, I never met the man.  And if he’s gone someplace bad, I had absolutely no part in sending him there.”

“How do you know he was here for you?”

“You asked questions in town about him, and about me.  I’m hardly the only one in town who’s drawn a nasty conclusion from that.  And what the folks in town don’t know - but I’m guessing you do - is that I haven’t filed an income tax return in this century.  So if you think something bad happened to your man, you have to assume I’m a likely suspect.

“Now, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.  If you’ve come here to arrest me, I’m going to turn around very slowly and put my hands behind my back, and you can put your handcuffs on me.  I’d appreciate it if you’d move just as slowly and carefully, because my dog here doesn’t like strangers touching his family members, and I don’t want your ninjas shooting him.  He doesn’t know about your missing man, either.  Fair enough?”


Winston didn’t like losing control of an interview.  But pretty clearly he’d never had a good handle on this one.  Fajardo had stage-managed this confrontation very carefully, and Winston’s training and experience all told him that this meant Fajardo was not telling the truth.

But he believed Fajardo was telling the truth.  At least, a portion of it.  Certainly it was true that these people were clannish and gossipy, and FBI agents walking around asking questions were bound to be a topic of conversation for years.  Yes, he could be telling the truth.

“Awright, Walter,” he said.  “You’re a good dancer, and I’m not gonna play.  You’re a suspect in what’s probably gonna become a murder investigation.  I don’t have enough evidence to arrest you for anything, but I’m gonna have to ask you not to leave the area.”

“Didn’t plan to.”

“Okay.  Now, I need to ask you a couple of questions.  Does the name Michael Owens mean anything to you?”

Fajardo shook his head.  “Never heard of him.”  His body language said true.

“How about George Sedlewitz?”

His body language changed.  “Sure, I know George.  He’s a good friend of mine.  Helped me with a lot of the work around here.”

So they do know each other!  Better and better.

“Do you know where we can find him?”

“What do you want with George?”

“We just need to talk with him.”

Fajardo hesitated.  “I’m not in the habit of bringing trouble to my friends.”

Winston put his hands on his hips.  “Walter, any trouble he’s in has already been brought.  The quicker we find him, the safer it’s likely to be for him.  Do your friend a favor.”

Fajardo looked at the ground.  “Umph.  Well, I don’t know where he lives.  He works in Drummond, at Frank’s Equipment Rental.”

“We already know that.  Where can we find him now?”

“If he’s not in Drummond, and he’s not here, I don’t know where he’d be.  He’s a private kind of guy; goes off by himself a lot.  I don’t know where he goes.”


Strauss stood over the impromptu evidence table and pondered the recovered files on the coffee-stained old computer recovered from Owens’ room.  Something was not right here, not right at all.  Owens was supposed to be a computer professional.  So why was he using this obsolete piece of crap?  Why didn’t he do a better job of deleting evidence from his hard drive?  The computer he abandoned in Tampa – a crime scene he fled in much greater haste – didn’t even have a hard drive.  It made no sense.

The crime scene team had crawled all over Owens’ apartment, if you could call it that, and the rental place.  Latent prints were scanned and off to Washington, where technicians would mutter incantations over the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System and receive information that wouldn’t tell the case agents anything they didn’t already know.  After getting Winston’s go-ahead, Strauss had just dispatched two agents to Butte, where – if this computer was to be believed – Owens AKA Sedlewitz had a storage unit.

If the computer were to be believed, Owens might be racing south at this very moment.  Strauss didn’t believe the computer, because Owens was supposed to be smarter than this.  But if the Butte information turned out true, the rest might be true as well.

Time would tell.  But time was their enemy.  Owens was getting away.


In a sterile office in Washington DC, a senior analyst entered high-resolution scans into the IAFIS computer.  Immediate matches pinged for one Michael Owens of Tampa, Florida.  After a few minutes a subprogram assembled a ten-print record as clear and complete as if Owens had just pressed his fingers against a Livescan screen.  Another window opened on the screen, with options for identification information, criminal record, wants and warrants.

There were many other latents in the records sent from Montana, most of them partial.  The analyst knew that the system might find other matches among them, but very likely would not.  Most people didn’t have fingerprint records at all, and most latent print scans weren’t good enough to match the stored records.  Even if he got another match, it would probably be meaningless.  Lots of people did have records in the FBI files, and most of them weren’t criminals at all.

But you never knew.  He didn’t want to have to explain a half-assed job, if it caused trouble with an investigation and got back to him.  So he let the inquiry run.

And so he happened to be watching the screen when IAFIS came up with another match.  The name at the top of the screen made him gasp.

Peter!

It couldn’t be.  Not after all these years.

Peter Lindstrom.  His first love.  In those days everybody was in the closet; nobody they knew was prepared to be quite that avant garde.  Peter wasn’t as…careful – perhaps one should be honest and say faithful – as the analyst could have wished.  Peter had other lovers, he knew.  And he was such a wild child, eventually getting mixed up with that radical bunch.  He even took an absurd nom de guerre - François.  When he disappeared after that bomb accident, he didn’t even say goodbye.

The analyst had never come out.  A good thing, too, or he’d have never landed his job here.  Gays barely needed to apply at the FBI to this day, and thirty years ago it was out of the question.  He didn’t even date anymore.

But he remembered Peter.

Peter, he thought.  I don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into, or how you ended up in Western Montana, of all places.  But I’m glad you’re alive.  And I cannot harm you.

A few keystrokes eliminated the file.  The scans would show no match.  It was hardly perfect; even the most cursory investigation would unearth his tampering and restore the file.  That would bring dismissal for sure, and probably prosecution.  

But he ran so many matches, every day.  And he deleted flawed match files every day.  The chances of an investigation were almost nil.  And he couldn’t harm Peter, even by just doing his job.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2005, 04:18:29 pm by John DeWitt »
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Bill St. Clair

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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2005, 04:34:28 pm »

Whew.

Well, I thought you were setting up things for a non-violent encounter. I'm glad I was right.
 
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Joel

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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2005, 04:40:30 pm »

:D I had to.  

I know it violates the canon.  If this were real "freedom literature," Walter and Gallatin would have killed the two agents with their teeth while dodging sniper bullets or deflecting them with strategically-positioned pieces of armor plate.  Then Walter would have faded into the woods and silently killed all the sniper teams with sharpened sticks.

But...naw.  I like to be different.
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RagnarDanneskjold

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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2005, 08:34:16 pm »

Quote
And so he happened to be watching the screen when IAFIS came up with another match.  The name at the top of the screen made him gasp.

Peter!

It couldn’t be.  Not after all these years.

Peter Lindstrom.  His first love. 
...
He even took an absurd nom de guerre - François. 
...
A few keystrokes eliminated the file.
Interesting twist you threw in there. Glad Frank's not gonna take a hit, here. (At least not for now, eh?)
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Roy J. Tellason

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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2005, 09:46:16 pm »

Quote
:D I had to.  

I know it violates the canon.  If this were real "freedom literature," Walter and Gallatin would have killed the two agents with their teeth while dodging sniper bullets or deflecting them with strategically-positioned pieces of armor plate.  Then Walter would have faded into the woods and silently killed all the sniper teams with sharpened sticks.

But...naw.  I like to be different.
I think I've really read enough of that sort of thing,  and find something different to be rather refreshing,  for whatever that's worth.  :-)
 
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« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2005, 10:33:54 pm »

DeWitt, you magnificent bastard!
Masterful.
And the "avant-garde" senior analyst -- sellout to the man!  A plague on you!
« Last Edit: June 24, 2005, 10:34:57 pm by penguinsscareme »
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Harleqwin

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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2005, 07:38:45 am »

Great twist to the story!  "his first love"  indeed!   I had to re-read that part a couple of times before I was certain that there was no typo.  I have come to understand that there are some things I will NEVER understand.

and NICE play by Walter, very cool, honest good wordplay.  Throw off the fed by taking a different tack to the encounter than he would think of.
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Roy J. Tellason

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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2005, 07:20:19 pm »

Quote
and NICE play by Walter, very cool, honest good wordplay.  Throw off the fed by taking a different tack to the encounter than he would think of.
This got me to go back and read that again...

I particularly like the part saying

Quote
"I’d appreciate it if you’d move just as slowly and carefully, because my dog here doesn’t like strangers touching his family members, and I don’t want your ninjas shooting him. He doesn’t know about your missing man, either. Fair enough?”

Heh.   :-)
 
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Jac

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« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2005, 07:48:07 pm »

The dude's a cucumber, man.

Walt's so cool, you could store a side of meat in him for a month. :lol:  
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