Excerpt from Chapter 8 of Indigent

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That night, with the star speckled sky glowing in the firmament, Lester Jorgenson, ever the mechanistic diplomat, dug a spade in his soul when he reported to his superiors, Major Fernando Valenzuela and Colonel Derrick Dallas, that the sage invalid, Juan Delano, whom they called Benny, was commencing a mission of his own, irrespective of a sealed decree and contract he signed after he was busted out of a mental asylum in Miami by Kassel Microsystems, a viable trading partner of Kinetic Bio-Wear.

“He’s a mongrel,” Dallas said.

“Let’s try to be optimistic,” Valenzuela cautioned.

“We need Delano to protect Jaxson. Not frolic around town with a whore.”

The comment visibly grated Valenzuela, who winced in disapproval. “Can we not refer to her as such? She’s just trying to make a living in a town that prides itself on rule by the plebiscites.”

“But we know that last part is not true,” Lester chimed in. “I’ve done a meta-analysis on Windy Gorge. Heralded by a systematic review, I’ve identified and appraised all the relevant evidence about this community using discrete and continuous data, and, well, all I can say is that it is not what you think.”

Dallas stared at him skeptically. “Lester, enlarge the photo for me.”

“Sir?”

Get to the fucking point.”

Lester lowered his head in shame. “I thought you’d appreciate what I’ve found.”

“Well, spit it out dammit!” Dallas shouted, his annoyance wearing on his sleeve.

“Okay. A kingpin by the name of Neal Clancy runs nearly all aspects of the scientific research in the community.”

“So, Windy Gorge is not the luddite community it claims to be?”

“No.”

“Then what it is?” Valenzuela asked as Lester handed him a spreadsheet of relevant financial data on Windy Gorge.

“A pyramid scheme,” Lester said. “Multi-level marketing through a vast criminal pyramid with Neal Clancy at the head.”

“I know what a fucking pyramid scheme is!” Dallas boomed. Then, he sighed and shook his head. “So, Clancy recruits prospective members into his organization with impunity? Offering nothing in return?”

“Precisely,” Lester said. “It’s a dastardly Ponzi scheme. Clancy follows the classic Eight Ball model. At the top, you have Clancy. Then, you have his co-pilots. One of them is named John Sparks, and the other—”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Valenzuela said, a thin grin dibbling his lips. “You’re saying one of Clancy’s co-pilots is the name of the former basketball star for the New York Knicks named John Sparks? Who torched Reggie Miller and caused that director, what’s his name, Spike Lee, to get into some kind of brawl?” Valenzuela crossed his thick arms and puffed out his broad chest, embroidered with Kinetic Bio-Wear insignia.

“Uhh, I’m not sure. I’m not familiar with basketball.”

“Wizards suck this year.”

“Let’s get back to this other co-pilot. Who is he?” Dallas said, blinking repeatedly, recoursing the discussion.

“A lard of fat by the name of Reynard de Chatillon,” Lester said. “He’s a former French hitman from Marseilles who did some time in Interpol’s dungeons for contract killing, extortion, and kidnapping.”

“Ahh,” Dallas said, sitting back. “A pure sociopath. I love it.”

Lester indicated one of the chairs in front of Dallas and Valenzuela. “Can I sit?”

Dallas, a premier asswipe with a brackish tongue, said, “I don’t know? Can you?”

Lester took that a sign he could sit and did so. Then, he spread out a blueprint detailing the Eight Ball model of the Pyramid Scheme that Clancy was running. “Here’s where we get to brass tax, sir. What are they selling? Well, I’ll tell you. They’re selling nothing, and everything. It’s a house of cards. Windy Gorge is self-sustaining, but Clancy requires that anybody will real power over the city buy in by doing favors.”

“So, it’s not a Ponzi scheme, then. There’s no paper trail,” Valenzuela exclaimed, clearly frustrated by Lester’s equivocations.

“They’re dealing in phased array radar systems, mycotoxins, and other poisons,” Lester finally blurted out, though he had wanted to come to the point at a smoother pace. “The problem is, as you said, there’s no paper trail for anything. It’s all underground and highly guarded. Possibly literally.”

“Why in God’s name would Clancy want anything to do with phased array radar system technology?” Dallas said.

“There’s a variety of applications,” Lester began to explain, and stood up to help illustrate his points, gesturing with his hands. “There’s acoustic transducers, ultrasounds in medicine, reflection seismology for oil and gas prospecting, or, in my opinion, a simply military sonar system.”

“But wouldn’t our technology have picked a radar system throughout Windy Gorge?” Dallas said.

“Yeah, this sounds like a load of bullshit to me,” Valenzuela said, running his fingers through his brown, military crew cut hair, his parboiled face glistening from the LED fixtures on the ceiling.

Lester licked his lips and continued, his anxiety growing. Relieve, he intoned softly, allowing the parasympathetic nervous system agonists to course through his body.

“What did you say?” Dallas said

“Nothing, sir. Just some acetylcholine inhibitors. Anyway, I believe Clancy and his men use hand-held sonars that operate at a wavelength simply too short for us to detect. You see, the shorter the wavelength of a radar system, the higher the frequency. The shorter the wave, the more accurate are its beams, giving Clancy and his men an incredible array and sonar on which to focus; a pure picture from possibly hundreds of miles away. We are simply too far out to have detected them, because the wavelengths of their hand-held radar technology and sonar systems are probably in the nanometer range. Ours are still in micrometer range. Old tech, because we’ve never invested in it.”

“Jesus H. Christ. They’ve been jamming us!” Dallas said, pounding his barreled fist on his bureau desk.

“Most likely, sir. Blinding us. Not to mention, Clancy and John Sparks and Reynard de Chatillon, if that is the Frenchman’s real name, most likely knew that Jaxson and Benny, I mean Juan Delano, were coming.”

Silence filled the air. Finally, Valenzuela said, “But then why didn’t they kill our boys right out?”

“Seems like that’s another problem for us to figure out. They’re building something. I just don’t know what yet.”

Dallas pulled out a Cuban cigar from his front shirt pocket and lit it. “Well, then, you better find out soon Corporal Jorgenson. Or I’ll have you ass grinded by a cheese grater. You follow?”

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