I’ve been reading a lot of Sherlock Holmes lately and it occurs to me that the style of narration in this story is similar. Most Sherlock Holmes stories were told from the perspective of his companion, Dr. John Watson. Watson, although peripherally involved in most stories, was not usually the main character and was simply the conveyor of the story in first person.
I’ve written this story this way and I’ve stuck with it. It’s not easy. I’ve tried not to have my narrator engage in active dialog and act as more of a storyteller. It’s been a great writing exercise.
As I look back on the the last 29 parts of this story, some parts have flowed easily, some not so much as i tried to get myself out of the corners I’ve painted myself into. As I approach the conclusion, however, I’ve found it difficult to wait a week to write each part. The end is clear in my mind and wants to leap onto my computer.
If you want to read the previous parts, there are links at the end of this post.
Please enjoy this next installment of Road Kill.
Road Kill Part 30 – The Meeting
As we sat silently in the conference room with our eyes glued to the large display screen, all eyes and ears were focused on the speaker in the warehouse. We had four video feeds devoted to the meeting room.
Maria Colluccio and her team were quickly trying to catalog the faces in the room as their images appeared on screen. Jones worked with her and was able to zoom in to get clear images.
Secretary Martin-Conway was the focal point of a semicircle of men and women dressed in pseudo-military uniforms. Donovan and Rafferty were furiously scribbling in notebooks as they recognized faces on the screen.
It was time for Martin-Conway to address her crew.
“Thank you for making sure that I arrived here safely,” she began. “I’m happy to be here among all of you.”
She broke into a smile that didn’t quite make it to her eyes. It was a smile that might have made the Grinch’s heart shrink a size or two.
“You are part of an elite, hand-picked team. It’s a team that will, if we succeed, make history and secure the security of our nation for many years to come. If we are successful, I can promise all of you that your futures, and the futures of your family members, will be secure for some time to come.”
The faces in the room watching the speech weren’t exactly inspired. In fact, the Secretary seemed to be practicing this type of speech for someone or sometime in the future and not for the people in the room. She had a detached quality and seemed to make eye contact with no one in particular.
“We will be moving forward with our plan. All of the preparations are in place. We will rescue our nation from tragedy and, as a result, improve the quality of life for everyone.”
One of her entourage applauded at these last words and gave a look to the others in the room that indicated they should clap as well. It was far from heartfelt. When the applause dissipated, a man with military bearing stepped to the front of the room.
“You can all return to your positions,” the man said. “For those of you on surveillance duty, please be especially diligent until the Secretary leaves.”
With that, everyone left the room and the Secretary and a few others headed to the far side of the room and into a conference room.
“Do we have eyes on that room, Mr. Jones?” Admiral Baker asked.
“Yes sir. Switching now.”
Suddenly, the video feeds switched to a pair of crystal clear views of the conference room. The secretary sat at one end of the long table opposite a large white board. The man who had addressed the group after her speech stood at the white board.
“That’s Anderson,” Donovan said. “He was second in line for my job. I’ve seen him in some of the early meetings. He’s very ambitious and quite the boot-licker.”
If there was one thing Donovan disliked, it was someone that tried to get ahead by ingratiating him or herself with authority. Anderson’s demeanor seemed to put him in that category.
“Madam Secretary, everything is moving forward. We have just over a week to move everything into place.”
“What about the personnel?” Conway asked. “Will we have the people in place.”
“Yes, Madam Secretary. We have our personnel distributed among security, concessions, and ticket holders. As we discussed, the placement of our personnel will give us maximum effectiveness on the day of the objective.”
“What about our ‘special’ personnel,” Conway asked with a disturbing tone of voice.
“Ah yes, the GTMO personnel. They have been integrated into the grounds crew. They have access to all of the key areas of the facility. They will have no problem meeting their objectives.”
“Good. So we are on schedule. Very good. You have all performed well,” Conway said with the same incomplete smile she unleashed on the larger group. Thank you Mr. Anderson.”
The smile vanished.
“Now, if you’ll excuse us, I’d like the room for a few minutes to talk to my staff,” Conway said in a dismissive tone.
Anderson and his people left the room. Conway leaned forward with her elbows on the conference table and her fingers tented.
“I’m going to the stadium.”
“I advise against it Madam Sectretary,” a large member of her staff said as he strained against his dark suit.
“It’s not negotiable. It’s a diplomatic event. If I’m there, it becomes higher profile and the effect will be even greater.”
“But it’s a dangerous situation,” a female staff member chimed in.
“Not until after the halftime. I will give my speech before the game. Just before the first half of the match is over, I’ll make my exit. That will leave plenty of time for me to be safely away from the stadium.”
“I guess we’ll just deal with it then, though I still highly advise against it,” the first staffer reiterated.
“Okay, let’s get on the road. We have an early flight to Europe tomorrow. I want to get back to the hotel and get some sleep.”
The trio left the conference room and the building.
“Jones, Maria, I want you and your team to keep watching the feeds and reporting on anything interesting,” Rafferty said. “Also, we’re going to have a list of names of the people we could identify that were in the meeting. I want a full list of everyone that was in there tonight. Use the facial recognition software if you don’t recognize them on your own.”
“Now we know where,” Baker said when Rafferty was done. “We also know a bit more about how. They’re going to infiltrate security, concessions and the crowd itself.”
“Don’t forget the grounds crew,” Rafferty said. “That concerns me. They will have access to the bowels of the stadium. they could set up strategic charges or release some agent into the water supply or something worse. We need to find out what’s going on there.”
“I agree,” Baker said. “We need to know the plan before they carry it out. The more we know, the better we can time it. Of course, Conway is going to slip away before the action happens. That part bothers me.”
“We’ll figure out something,” Rafferty said. “In the meantime, we can keep recording what goes on in that building and monitoring the correspondence. Maybe we’ll find something to nail her with.”
“This has to be a situation where we catch her red-handed,” Baker said. “All of the evidence in the world can disappear when people at this level of government are involved. We need some way to catch her in the act.”
I had some ideas, but I also wanted to think them through before I blurted them out.
Rafferty turned his attention to Donovan.
“Where do you stand in all of this?” Rafferty asked. “Are you still in the evil queen’s inner circle?”
“As far as I know, I am. I’m still getting communications. She thinks I’m doing recon at the stadium, which I will be doing. Now that we know the GTMO prisoners are on the grounds crew, I’ll check out what they’ve been up to. I think, if I can continue to have her trust me, we have a better chance of catching her in the act. I’ll work it out so I’m with her at this event.”
“How will you do that?” Rafferty asked.
“I’ll cook up some intelligence reason for me to provide extra numbers to her entourage. Believe me, she won’t refuse. It makes her feel more important.”
Donovan got up from his seat.
“I’m going to head to Miami and check out the stadium first thing in the morning. I’ll report in after I’m through.”
“Donovan, just one thing,” Rafferty said.
“If I find out that you are playing us in this, I will personally guarantee that you go down.”
“Trust me,” Donovan said as he left the room, “I’m on the right side in this.”
After he left Rafferty shook his head and said to no one in particular, “That didn’t answer my question.”
Read the earlier parts and get caught up:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27, Part 28, Part 29