Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chapter two: Fact or Fiction

After landing in Philadelphia the agents get settled in a local hotel and after stuffing their faces with a couple of cheesesteaks headed out to meet Mason’s “hot” ex-girlfriend.

Tarell parks in front of the residence located deep in an unfriendly part of North Philly were drugs and prostitution is rampant. “Frank what was her name again?”
“Margie. That’s all she gave me.”
“I’ll bet you wish she gave you something else.”
“You know it, mi pana.” They look at each other and giggle.

Frank was born and raised in a town called Ciales in Puerto Rico then moved to the states with his family when he was a teenager. He enjoys mixing both languages often with those close to him. The phrase “mi pana” is a ghetto term, the equivalent of “my brother”.

The agents are welcomed in and begin the interview process. After a couple of standard questions, she begins to reveal essential details.

“We had plans; a family, house with a picket fence, maybe a dog...” She stares blindly while recalling her memories. Her eyes get puffy and tears start to build up at the outer corner of her eyes. “Shortly after graduating he told me he was approached by someone tied to the government. He said his name was John Smith and that he wanted to offer him the opportunity serve his country.”

Tarell glances at Frank. “An obvious cover name.”

“Did he say what branch of the government?” Frank asks after sipping on a cup of coffee.
“No, he said the stranger couldn’t tell him. All he could say was that it would be at an undisclosed location and that he’d be working on projects of the utmost priority for Uncle Sam. After that he disappeared, I never saw him again until last week when I saw his picture in the paper. Why did he change his name?”

Frank responds “Or who? We have reason to believe that the Department of Defense might have had a hand in that, but that hasn’t been confirmed. Are you sure there’s nothing to indicate where he might have went, anything at all?”

“Well I did find this post-it note near his computer.” She hands Tarell a wrinkled yellow sticky note, the contents simply read Dulce 8 am, DON’T FORGET!  "What do you think Frank?"

“Well I know that dulce means “sweet” in Spanish but obviously this indicates some kind of meeting place. Margie, is there some kind of establishment with that name around here like a restaurant, bar or hotel?”
“Not that I know of.”
“We’ll have to do some digging then. Thank you Margie, you’ve been extremely helpful.” Tarell hands her a business card. “Please call if you find any more information, or if you remember something he said that can help.”
“Sure thing.”

It’s early in the evening when the agents leave Margie’s house and walk to the car.
“What the hell?” Tarell sees that the two right side tires have been flattened and walks around the perimeter of the car to check the other two tires to find them in the same shape. “Son of a bitch!”

Frank’s not surprised. “That’s what happens in the hood Tee. I’ll call triple A.” He pulls out his cell phone and suddenly notices a shadow through the peripheral vision of his right eye, he quickly turns to get a close look. “Hey!” He pulls out his Glock 23, “Freeze! FBI!” Frank chases after it; Tarell follows with Glock in hand. They follow him through an alley but the subject seems to have disappeared in the shadows. Frank can’t believe it. “Dammit, where’d he go? I had him in my sights!”
“Did you get a good look at him?”
“No it’s too dark.”
As soon as Frank finished his sentence the dark figure jumps up from behind a nearby bush and lands on top of a three-story row home.
“Whoa! Did he just--”
“Yea, he did.”
Frank is understandably upset “Shit! We’ll never find him now.”
Tarell agrees “He’ll be halfway to the Delaware River in no time.”

The agents head to the local FBI office to try and decrypt the note and hopefully find some answers on their mystery man. After a couple of hours of investigation the agents hit pay-dirt on the note. “Got it Frank!” Tarell exclaims while staring at a monitor. “Check it out.” Frank rushes over to Tarell’s temporary workstation and grins when he sees what the note meant by “Dulce”.
“It’s in our back yard, Dulce, New Mexico!” Frank’s sudden excitement begins to dwindle when he realizes something. “Wait a minute, how come we’ve never heard of it if it’s in our back yard? I mean it’s just under 130 miles northwest of Albuquerque.”
“Well obviously we’ve never had a case that took us there.”
“Yeah not once in 15 plus years. Don’t you find that strange?”
“I guess--but it’s just a coincidence.”
“Maybe so but I can’t shake the feeling that something’s not right, anyway let’s make like an amoeba and split. I got a feeling all our questions are gonna be answered at Dulce.”

The dynamic duo arrive at Dulce, New Mexico where they begin asking questions at local establishments concerning their victim. After a week of dead ends the two end up at a local bar where they drown their frustration in liquor. They’re about to pack it in when they’re approached by a middle-aged man, clearly inebriated.

“Are you the FBI guys?”
Frank answers “Yes we are sir, how may we be of service to you?”
“I heard you’re asking questions about a Mr. Mason.”
Tarell confirms “That’s correct, did you know him?”
“Uh…sort of” Frank pulled out a chair for their new lead. “I mean we met here one night and I guess we both just needed someone to talk to. I was going through a rough break up with a long-time girlfriend and he…well he had a fantastic story to tell, which in the end made me forget what I was depressed about.” He paused to reconsider telling the story.

“Apparently he worked at a secret government funded compound where he worked on one of many experiments that the public would probably not approve of. His specific project involved splicing genes from humans and extraterrestrial beings, then finding a way to combine them. The goal was to cure an alien disease that plagued the extraterrestrial beings, pushing them to the brink of extinction, the specific proteins that makeup our DNA can help them do that. Then at one point Gilbert had an argument with management about a top level decision concerning his project. He was put on administrative leave for a week to cool off. That’s when they met at the bar. I never saw him after that.”

Frank and Tarell look at each other, waiting to hear what the other is going to say. Tarell breaks the ice.
“Mr. Daniels are you sure you’re recounting the story accurately? I mean you guys were drinking right?”
“No I wasn’t, he was.”
“I never had a drink before in my life. At least not until that night, that guy gave me the creeps big-time. I had two drinks then vomited.”

Frank begins to bounce theories off of Tarell. “So either he made it up as a result of the intoxication or…”
“Or what Frank?” Tarell asked in a low whispery tone “Or he might be telling the truth? Because of the liquor?”
Frank stares at him for a second. “Possibly.”

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