Paranoia (111 of 170)

—of —
by Joseph Finder
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Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder.
All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.


Jocelyn, thank God, seemed to be taking more and more coffee- and little-girls'-room breaks the longer she worked for me. The next time she left her desk, I took the papers on Delphos that Goddard had given me—I knew it had to be Delphos, even though the company's name wasn't anywhere on the sheets—and made a quick photocopy at the machine behind her desk. Then I slipped the copies into a manila envelope.

I fired off an e-mail to "Arthur" telling him, in coded language, that I had some new stuff to pass on—that I wanted to "return" the "clothing" I'd bought online.

Sending an e-mail from work was, I knew, a risk. Even using Hushmail, which encrypted it. But I was short on time. I didn't want to have to wait until I got home, then maybe have to go back out....

Meacham's reply came back almost instantly. He told me not to send the item to the post-office box but the street address instead. Translation: he didn't want me to scan the documents and e-mail them, he wanted to see the actual hard copies, though he didn't say why. Did he want to make sure they were originals? Did that mean they didn't trust me?

He also wanted them immediately, and for some reason he didn't want to set up a face-to-face. Why? I wondered. Was he nervous about my being tailed or something? Whatever his logic, he wanted me to leave the documents for him using one of the dead drops we'd worked out weeks before.

At a little after six, I left work, drove over to a McDonald's about two miles from Trion headquarters. The men's room here was small, one-guy-at-a-time, and you could lock the door. I locked it, found the paper towel dispenser and popped it open, put the rolled-up manila envelope inside and closed the dispenser. Until the paper towel roll needed changing, no one would look inside—except Meacham.

On the way out I bought a Quarter Pounder—not that I wanted one, but for cover, like I'd been taught. About a mile down the road was a 7-Eleven with a low concrete wall around the parking lot in front. I parked in the lot, went in and bought a Diet Pepsi, then drank as much of it as I could. The rest I poured down a drain in the parking lot. I put a lead fishing weight inside the can from the stash in my glove compartment, placed the empty can on the top of the concrete wall.

The Pepsi can was a signal to Meacham, who drove by this 7-Eleven regularly, that I'd loaded dead drop number three, the McDonald's. This simple bit of spy tradecraft would enable Meacham to pick up the documents without being seen with me.

The handover went smoothly, as far as I could tell. I had no reason to think otherwise.

Okay, so what I was doing made me feel sleazy. But at the same time, I couldn't help feeling a little proud: I was getting good at this spy stuff.

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