(Continued from last week)
“Were all three neg ops present?”
“No, it was just the man with the...eye condition, and the retarded girl. I think the third, with the tattoos, was driving their car but I couldn’t see. It was too dark.”
“I see.” Pause, file. “You say the one man, the one in the restaurant...”
“Yes?” KG asks.
“...he has an ‘eye condition’?”
“Yeah. It’s like a crust over both his eyes, a disease or something. He didn’t seem blind, though.”
“Yes.” Pause, file. “And the girl was ‘retarded’?”
“Well, I mean, she just kept giggling and drooling the whole time. She didn’t say much.”
Matter of fact: “There are physical conditions that could also cause that.”
“Well, I mean, I’m no expert. She just...her behavior made me think of a mentally retarded person.”
Agent Derrick smiles. “Of course. You didn’t give her an IQ test, I assume?”
“Uh, no,” KG smiles, shrugs.
“So we’ll just go with your best guess.” Pause, file. “What did this encounter at the Phuket consist of?”
“Well, they sat down at my table, unasked. I didn’t even see them sit down.”
“You were eating alone?”
“Do you often eat alone, Mr. Granta?”
“Well, yeah. Yeah I do.” KG pauses, irritated. “Is there something wrong with that, or...”
“Oh, no, sir! I eat alone all the time. No partners in Mueller-Toch, you see. Provides for ‘Maximum Deniability’.” Agent Derrick pauses. “So the two ops sit down with you, and you say that you didn’t see them sit down?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Were you...” Agent Derrick makes an eating motion with his head down.
“Yeah, I was having the soup. I always have the soup.”
“Ah. So you look up from your bowl, and...” He waits.
“...and there they are,” KG finishes for him.
“And there they are.” Pause, file. “And did they speak to you at that time?”
KG relates the conversation with Charles and Suzie as best he remembers, making a special point to emphasize their invitation to come along with them, and Charles’ reference to a ‘bus driver’.
“They made mention of a ‘bus driver’?”
“Mm-hm. Could they have been referring to the third op, with the tattoos? Could he have been the ‘bus driver’?”
“Um, I mean, sure, I guess so.”
“Okay.” Pause, file. “And, so...”
“Oh, wait, before I forget, they said their names were Suzie and Charles.”
Agent Derrick shakes his head sadly. “These neg ops don’t have names.”
“They’ve used at least a thousand in the past, and they may use a thousand more before I’m done.” Agent Derrick shrugs. “Okay. So today was the second time you’ve seen them?”
“And today’s visit consisted of...”
KG describes the events of the day, elaborating upon the briefer story he told the police earlier.
“I see. And as there was no obvious evidence, you were summarily dismissed.”
“That’s right. The cop...he couldn’t see them at all.”
“Mm-hm. There are some specific reasons why they may not have been observed by the police officer, but this is neither the time nor place to go into that. You understand.” The agent pauses a moment, shifts in his seat. “Mr. Granta, have there been any recent changes in your life, anytime prior to the first meeting at the Phuket?”
“Wrr...ah, I don’t think so. I mean...” It comes to him. “I don’t think this is what you’re talking about but I recently changed anxiety medications. I was on Paxil, but I had to switch over to something new...Comaxyn, it’s called.” He pauses. “Just approved.”
“I see.” Agent Derrick regards KG carefully. KG looks sheepishly at the floor. The agent moves forward in his seat, clasps his hands together. “I can see that discussing this has made you uncomfortable.”
“No, no...it’s just...”
“Mr. Granta, part of the latitude I was referring to earlier in reference to Mueller-Toch is in regards to mental health concerns. Agency work within the confines of the federal government is incredibly stressful, and many of the ex-agents employed by Mueller-Toch are ex-agents for that very reason. Many of us have diagnosed mental health issues, and many of us use medication, among other methods, to treat those same issues.” Agent Derrick pauses emphatically. “Many of us.” He smiles knowingly. KG nods. “I’ll look into the Comaxyn angle but, as you said, I don’t believe that’s the type of recent change we’re looking for.”
“Okay, then.” KG almost rises, feeling the discussion concluded, before Agent Derrick continues.
(To Be Continued)