Monday, 2 March 2015

Follow the Money...Down the Barrel of a Gun (Episode 24)

From: Sumac’s Other Email Addy
Sent: Saturday, October 5, 2014 7:58 p.m.
To: Pine’s backup addy
Subject: I have officially peed my pants.

I just got back from Varco Lake, and let me tell you, I have never been so damned glad to have a basement apartment with two escape routes and no windows. It's taken all my will not to hide under my bed, sucking my thumb.

I don't know how you do field work, I swear I don't.


When I went up to VL, that place was like a ghost town. There were no weirdos following me around. I could hear a few people milling about, but they were scarce and hard to find. It's like there was a gas leak, and the only four people who didn't know about it were Gil, Angie Burley, Haberman and me.

And you're right, Burton is really getting sick fast. I mean, you saw him, and he could barely breathe, let alone get out of bed when you were there. I saw him twice when I was there. The first time, he barely had any energy to give a damn about what I was saying, like a couple of million dollars was nothing. The second time, well, he gave a damn all right, but he didn't even have the strength to hold up his gun.

Like she did with you, Angie spotted me coming in, assigned me a room and a pager number, told me not to leave the Big House, and if there was any trouble, I was to call her.

Weird, too. I mean, I had no intention of leaving the Big House because, well, Do Not Promote list and all that. 

But then she went on to say that she didn't want anyone out on the estate because they had some new lycanthropes under observation because they were sick. Did she say that to you, too? I mean, first thing I thought of was "Great, so the quarantine didn't work after all?" And then I thought, "Wait...did they cut the budget for quarantine because they knew they'd be bringing them here, to Varco Lake?" Anyhow, I didn't say anything about quarantine to Burley at all. Strictly numbers, strictly the embezzlement case. And, just as it happened with you, she listened to everything I had to say, and then she took me over to Haberman's office.

And you're right. I did get the impression that Haberman is desperate to prove Ishmael's innocence. I showed him everything I had, proving that Ishmael had been using funds to support the Moldovans. I even managed to track down a few companies I think he's set up for them over there, complete with investor's statements and tax numbers and everything.

To my surprise, he actually didn't seem to give a damn about the Moldovans. He didn't care if they lived or died, or if they succeeded in business or didn't.

Then I told him about the transferred payments and the embezzlement, and I showed him how it couldn't have been Ishmael doing those transfers. I was able to get a branch location for every deposit, and for every deposit time and place I cross-referenced against Ishmael's plane tickets and travel expenses. Practically every time someone was making a deposit in Canada, Ishmael was in a meeting in Japan, or in South Korea, or India, wherever. He just wasn't on home soil whenever a deposit was made.

So I came right out and asked for permissions to view the personnel records, see if I can tie back a Wyrd ID to a Wyrd bank account.

He said he didn't know who to contact to get those permissions for me, but he got on the phone right away and called my boss's boss, who told him to call another guy, who told him to call Ishmael - at which point everyone started laughing - and then finally we got a name.

And as all that was going on, I thought...well wait a sec. The original $250,000 funds were approved in the Wyrd budget, which was approved by the Wyrd Council. Even Chloe says she remembers approving those purchases.

So wouldn't Haberman already know who the funds were requested by, and who for?

Haberman hung up the phone, and that's when I asked him point-blank: did he know who the funds were approved for?

What you said about his poker face?

Holy CRAP were you right. 

I, too, tinkled in my tighty-whiteys.

Actually, I tinkled twice. Once because of Haberman's poker face. The second time, because of what happens when Haberman gets mad. More on that in a second.

Anyhow, Haberman said, "They were approved for Jay. But he may not have been the only person to put through those cash deposits." After all, you don't need an account at all to make deposits. You just can't withdraw or transfers funds unless you're the account holder.

So Haberman told me to take an office near Angie's and do the same thing for Jay what I did for Ishmael: try to match up Jay's travel itineraries against the deposits made into that account.

Turns out he was onto something. Jay was in the country for only about half of those deposits. For half of *those*, he was in the wrong province. Deposits made in Ontario while he was in B.C. or whatever.

So in some ways, we're back to square one.

And then! God help me...

Around ten at night, I was bored out of my mind, so I went to see if there was a library or a gym or something, since there's no TV, and since I wasn't allowed to leave until daylight. 

As I was heading down the dorm corridor, I heard an argument. So, stupid me, I decided to find out where the argument was happening. I mean, if there was barking and growling, I'd stay away, but this sounded pretty human to me. So as I'm walking toward Haberman's office - it's Haberman, Burley, and some other guy, arguing - someone opens a door and calls me by name. I turn around, and there's Dr. Gil Burton.

So I have to ignore the argument, which is killing me because now I'm hearing numbers like "a quarter million" and "six times on one account alone". Dr. Burton is like, "come on, come on - " and as soon as I'm in his dorm/apartment/thing, he closes the door and tells me to sit down. Without saying another word, he goes to his filing cabinet and pulls out a thick manilla envelope and drops it on the table in front of me. It has an address for Nova Scotia on it. Without saying a word, he writes me a cheque for $50, with "Postage" written in the comment field. He looks at me like he's asking if I get the joke, and I nod, and he nods back, and I'm like, "Is your room bugged or something? Can we not at least say hello?"

He gets up again to open the door, and then he stops, and he finally says something. "If you ever get to see Foster, tell her I'm sorry. Tell her I did what I had to do, but it was never, ever supposed to go this way."

Then he opens the door and lets me out.

For two seconds, I thought, "Holy crap, Gil's the one who's been pilfering money." Then I realized that's stupid, because Gil never leaves Varco Lake. I can see him transferring money electronically, but not making cash deposits.

So I leave Gil Burton's room, I head down the corridor toward the argument to see what's new. 

And then the shit hit the fan.

BANG! door flies open. BANG! dude comes flying out of there like he's been thrown and he smashes against a wall. BANG! Angie comes out with a flying atomic punch to his face and the wall breaks. BOOM! Dude kicks Angie off him, and she goes sailing back into Haberman's office. Haberman comes out with one of his Japanese swords, SCREAMING, and Dude is like, "Naw, I'm out, man" - he jumps up, leaps over the stairs to the foyer floor, security's all over him. And Haberman?! Old fart with SWORD leaps over the railing and goes after him. SMASH - escaping dude gets tackled to the floor. BOOM! Dude sends somebody else flying. Haberman SLICES one of his own security guys across the spine as if he means to cut through him to get to the Dude. Another security guy comes in and catches Dude in a full Nelson. Dude does this weird MMA move, bends down, grabs the guy behind one leg, stands straight up, guy loses his balance and his grip, Dude slams him neck first into the marble floor. BAM. Guy's dead. Haberman screams again and comes in with one big slice - BAM, big chunk of dude's arm is GONE. Stabs him - dude jumps just clear. Stabs him again - dude dodges and tries an elbow to Haberman's head. Haberman rolls under him with some MMA moves of his own, Dude rolls right over Haberman's shoulders, Haberman turns his sword point backward and SMASH - stabs backward and blindly just as Dude is about to leap on Haberman's shoulders. I'm looking, but I can't believe what I'm seeing. Dude's got a sword sticking out his back, and he's still FIGHTING.

Then out of nowhere, somebody grabs me by the arm and pulls me into a room, throws me to the floor, locks me in with Gil Burton. 

All I hear and feel after that are sound effects. Feet running up toward us. Walls cracking. People pushing and shoving and body parts breaking. The Big House is rocking.

Gil takes me by the collar and tugs me toward his little office area. He opens up a desk drawer and takes out a freaking DART GUN, and I'm like, WTF? This guy can break my neck by picking me up by my belt and dropping me, and you want me to shoot him with a dart gun? And what does he take for himself but a freaking DESERT EAGLE. I'm like, "Dude, you fire one shot in your condition, and you'll blow yourself out that window." So we trade weapons, and I'm still like "Dude just got impaled on a Japanese sword, and you think a BULLET'S gonna stop him, let alone a dart?"

And all of a sudden, it just goes quiet.

Like, "as a tomb" quiet.

It feels like an hour goes by before I hear anything else. I hear guns in the distance, like rifles or cannons or whatever.

Another hour goes by, and Gil's starting to drop off to sleep with his dart gun in his hand!!! And I'm like, "Whatever you've got in there, I don't need you accidentally shooting me in the ass!!!", so I try to take the dart gun from him - and in one split second, I got to see a Bad-Ass You-Know-What field agent in Gil Burton's eyes, and I have to talk him down before he shoots me on purpose.

Eventually, Angie comes to claim me, tells me to keep the gun, sends me back to my own room and locks me in. She doesn't let me out again until almost noon today.

Anyhow, thought I should let you know that you're not the only one to walk into the lion's den and walk out again in one piece.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I *will* go hide under my bed and suck on my thumb.