Published: Monday, November 19, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 19, 2012 12:11
New York 17:20 Hours
Everyone in the office had left and the time was just perfect. The call went through a series of beeps, rings and clicks before connecting. It was a personal phone, but when it belongs to the Internal Liaison Officer of the National Security Agency, nothing was personal. It was a STU-III/CT phone that was very widely used by the NSA these days and worked across all continents. Jim was impatient but the police officer in him told him to not be foolish. When Officer Martin Rodriguez answered the phone, he said, “1 p.m.” and hung up.
Martin knew exactly who was calling and instinctively thought it could be trouble. Fort Meade was not the place for long conversations anyways. Jim Hernandez knew that the two words meant the rendezvous time at their usual meeting place.
It was a shady gay bar in downtown Manhattan. Although 1 p.m. was an odd time to be at a bar, even in the Big Apple, it was a gay bar after all, no one would notice anything unusual with two men catching up over a couple drinks.
Jim drove home but kept his ears on the scanner for any new information. When he reached his house, Ed had already made himself at home. In fact, Ed had gone ahead to exploit his host’s hospitality and poured himself a shot of Cristal, the costliest thing he could find in Jim’s bar. This irritated the sergeant but he let it pass. He went off to sleep, but before that, he faxed his precinct a request for half a day’s leave the next day.
The next morning, Jim went about his day’s routine and was out of the office by 12:30 p.m. He was very close to the rendezvous point but he had to run home and check on Ed before the meeting. Ed was verga on the champagne (as they would say in Latin America) by the time Jim reached home and had passed out on the bathroom floor. Jim would attend to this guerro later.
The bar was surprisingly crowded and extremely noisy during mid-afternoon, and Jim wasn’t complaining. This was a perfect setting for such meetings. Martin arrived on time, as expected of an ex-marine and NSA official who had been in service for 15 years and counting. Wasting no time in greetings, the men got down to business.
Jim gave a background on Eduardo, mentioning how he was an undocumented immigrant who had married an American citizen, but their marriage was not yet on paper as Ed didn’t really have any papers other than the fake documents he had used to open checking account in a small Credit Society in Brooklyn.
He then informed Martin about his brother’s murder by the eMe and what Eduardo did in retribution. All this was conveyed in explicit details as they were sure no one in a gay bar would be interested in their talks. Also, because they were seated at their regular seats in the far corner of the restaurant where no one can spot them immediately, they were closest to the back exit, just in case.
He was very clear when he mentioned to Martin that he would not let this man go to jail. It was Martin’s job now to make sure of that. Martin’s mind was already at work. The NSA had a very powerful covert operations unit that needed some muscle flexing.
But this needed the best men at work, especially after the public outcry against ECHELON in 2006 it was near impossible to carry out any internal covert ops without a lot of paper trail. The Defense ministry and other suits in Washington wanted the job done in too much light.
Martin knew his ways though; he knew the NSA did not like the light. Their men worked in darkness. Besides, this was a personal favor. He left the bar exactly 20 minutes after getting in and headed to his car. Fort Meade was 20 hours away.