Chapter 2


BRIAN HENLEY and his junior partner Tim Doherty quietly left the restaurant as soon as the confrontation at the bar ended. They were glad they didn't have to get involved. The last thing they wanted was to draw attention. Brian and Tim were agents for the United States Treasury Department. More importantly, they were ESF agents.  

The ESF or Exchange Stabilization Fund was a classified arm of the Treasury Department. As an organization, it only reported to the Secretary of the Treasury and the President.  

Brian's last partner had taken a bullet about a month ago during a raid on a counterfeiters operation. He would be out of commission for at least another six months. Brian was one of the departments best agents so he quickly received a new partner, Tim Doherty.

Tim graduated at the top of his class and was a real hot shot − mentally sharp as a tack, and even sharper with a pistol. Both men had extensive training in the martial arts. Brian was considerably rustier than Tim was, though Brian would never admit it.

Walking outside and past Paul's Mark VIII, they made their way to their government-issued, white Ford sedan. Brian climbed into the drivers seat; he was not willing to let the rookie drive yet. After Tim hopped in on the passenger side, Brian moved the car to a more inconspicuous location in the lot and turned off the engine.

"This assignment is bullshit", said Tim. "Why the hell are we following this guy? Not to mention the runaround yesterday."

Smiling, Brian responded, "Calm down, every assignment isn't going to get your blood pumping. Heck, most of the work is so dull; its like watching paint dry."

While what he told the rookie had the ring of truth to it, Brian still felt something did not add up. This type of surveillance duty was highly unusual for an agent with his extensive experience. The Secretary or the President must feel this assignment is important, thought Brian. He made a mental note to have Marge, his office assistant, run a complete background check on this Paul Malone. He was going to try to add things up on his own.

Brian reviewed the last two days in his mind. Yesterday at 5:00 A.M. Saturday, he received a call from the duty officer. Brian was given an address and a name, John Trent.

The agent on duty barked, Get over there ASAP and keep this guy under surveillance. The guy is sixty years old and lives alone. He has a red four-door Cadillac with VA license plate 3KZPY5. There will be more to come later. Keep your radio hot.

Brian hung up, called his new partner, and quickly took care of the essentials; he made a pot of coffee. He then swung by to pick up Tim and headed over to the residential address. They settled into position by 6:00 A.M. Brian was sipping hot coffee from the lid of a thermos while Tim was still wiping the sleep out of his eyes. They chose a spot two houses down and on the opposite side of the street.

About 9:30 A.M., the target got in a Cadillac and took off. They followed him to one of the office buildings in a business park just outside of Fairfax City, Virginia.     

Brian called in and briefed the duty officer. Thirty minutes later, the radio broke the silence. Undersecretary Whitmore is in route to your location. He is due there in thirty minutes. You are off the clock after he arrives.

The Undersecretary's car pulled in as scheduled. Frustrated with what appeared to be a waste of time, Brian and Tim followed orders and left. On their way out, Brian caught a quick glimpse of the two men getting out of the car. One was obviously the Undersecretary, Tom Whitmore. The other man Brian didn't recognize, though he might have if he had taken a closer look.

The next morning, Brian received a similar call. The bottom line − he and Tim were to follow Paul Malone and report on his movements. After a boring day of trailing what appeared to be an ordinary guy, they had arrived at the restaurant about an hour ago.

Hungry, they bent protocol a little and used the opportunity to get a bite to eat. Had they ignored their appetite, they would not have seen the altercation at the bar. 

It was Brian's turn to break the silence. He turned to Tim and asked, "Did anything strike you as odd about the fight at the bar between this Paul Malone and Ricky Rigel?"

"Who the hell is Ricky Rigel?"

"You didn't recognize him? Oh yeah, it was probably a bit before your time, answered Brian. Ricky was an all-star linebacker for Minnesota in the early nineties. He acquired a reputation for being a real ass after a couple of arrests, mainly assault. There was even one high-profile case. It involved sex with some young woman. She claimed it was forced. As near as I can remember, the case didn't make it to court, although I think she did receive a big settlement from a related civil case."

"He sounds like a real gem of a guy. But what are you getting at?" Tim enquired.

"Well what was a little strange to me was not the fact that Malone put him down so fast. He has obviously been well trained. But why did Ricky just let it lie? It seemed totally out of character for a big guy looking for trouble, especially one with Ricky's reputation."

"You know, when you put it that way, it does seem odd, doesn't it? Tim agreed. Maybe Malone used some kind of mental telepathy on him," he added sarcastically.

Brian ignored Tim's quip. "Another thing, this Paul Malone seems okay. Did you notice the way he pulled his punch? It was obvious he could have done a lot more damage if he wanted. Anyhow, I have a feeling he is one of the good guys."

"Yeah, I know what you mean, but maybe this Malone fellow used some kind of mental telepathy on us too," said Tim, again sarcastically. 

Ten minutes later, Paul's grey Mark VIII left the parking lot. Brian started up the white Ford sedan and followed.

A jet-black Mercedes with darkly tinted windows pulled out from across the street. It discreetly fell into position behind the other two cars.


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