This week’s installment of extra innings is a bit late. As you may know, I travel extensively for work and was held up this week with bad weather that found me sitting in a plane on the tarmac for 7 1/2 hours before finally reaching Atlanta at 3AM on Friday, catching 4 hours of sleep and returning to Florida yesterday afternoon. I wasn’t coherent enough to write this installment on Friday as I normally due. Sorry for the delay.
Joe’s plan backfired on him and now he has to deal with the fallout. It appears that he is going to be in a lot of trouble with the authorities for crimes that his company committed, apparently with the cooperation of the Joe from this timeline. Enjoy this story as it is reaching it’s climax with Part 33.
If you want to catch up on the previous installments of this serial, you can click on these links:
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, Part 30, Part 31, Part 32
Joe had to think fast, but he couldn’t act at the present time. He was in a situation that would be hard to explain. He had phoned the FBI to notify them of the illegal weapons deal that was about to happen. Johnny Provenza now knew this and that would put him in an unrecoverable position with his wife’s family and his business partners. The FBI knew it was his phone and they would be questioning why a tip on an illegal deal would be called by a principal in the company that was about to conduct the deal. He might be able to get some kind of immunity deal, but he was afraid, once the FBI dug into RPM’s records, the McLean family would be irreparably damaged. Joe’s life would be in constant danger and he would be financially ruined. For now, however, he had no choice but to comply with the FBI. This started with being transported to their Pittsburgh office.
“Watch your head, Mr. McLean,” an agent said to Joe as he guided him into the backseat of a non-descript government-issue black sedan. He had been handcuffed, a new experience for him, and not a pleasant one. As he was being guided into the car, he glanced over and saw Johnny Provenza going through the same process as he was reluctantly pushed into an identical auto. He shot a deadly glare at Joe just before ducking his head into the backseat. Joe was not surprised.
Joe assumed he and Johnny were being transported separately so that they couldn’t compare stories. Two agents sat in the front seat of the sedan as Joe was belted in the rear seat. The ride to Pittsburgh was completely silent. The agents apparently didn’t want Joe saying anything about his situation until he was in a proper interrogation situation and was recorded. Joe confirmed this by trying to get them to speak.
“So, what happens next?” Joe asked.
“You’ll find out when we get to the office,” the agent in the passenger seat answered curtly.
“What am I being charged with?” Joe tried once more.
“You’ll be given the information you need when we get to the office,” the agent answered.
Joe decided to stop asking questions and give some thought to what would happen once he was being interrogated. He needed a plan. He couldn’t continue in this timeline or it would be disastrous.
The sedan exited interstate 79 after nearly two hours of silence. The lead sedan with Jonny Provenza pulled up to a rear entrance of a nondescript six-story office building. Joe could see Johnny being escorted into the building by the two agents from his car. The driver of Joe’s sedan waited until the first car pulled away from the entrance before pulling up to the same spot.
“Let’s go, Mr. McLean,” the agent from the passenger seat said as he opened Joe’s door.
Joe wriggled out of the car. Having your hands cuffed in front of him made simple movements difficult. He never realized how important the use of arms and hands were in maneuvers like exiting a car.
The agent signed into a log book at a counter manned by security guards that looked like they mixed steroids in their breakfast cereal. Joe was then ushered to an elevator. He and the agent were the only occupants and as the agent pushed the button designated for the fifth floor, Joe began to think of what his next steps might be. He quickly realized, there weren’t many choices and much depended on the approach that the FBI took with him. On the plus side, he might be viewed as a good guy for at least attempting to blow the whistle on the weapons deal. On the bad side, he assumed that his company was up to its ears in illegal activities and this incident may have pried open the floodgates which would result in a quick drowning of Joe and his family.
When the elevator reached the fifth floor, the agent gestured for Joe to get out and walk down the hallway to the left. They stopped at a door that was labeled INT-3, an interrogation room. Joe entered the room followed by the agent.
“Have a seat,” the agent said as he pointed to a metal chair at a metal table with two u-shaped metal loops on its top near the chair. After Joe sat down with his forearms on the table, the agent unlocked the handcuffs from Joes right hand.
“You are right-handed, I assume?” the agent asked.
The agent connected the loose end of the handcuff that was still attached to Joe’s left hand to the corresponding loop on the table. The table was bolted to the floor as was the chair. Apparently, Joe thought, these precautions were taken with violent people that the FBI detained from time to time.
“Is this really necessary?” Joe asked.
“It is,” the agent answered and offered nothing else.
“What happens next?”
“Someone will be in to talk to you soon. Just sit here and wait.”
“Do I have a choice?” Joe asked in an attempt a levity.
The agent was not amused as he silently left the room.
Joe assessed his surroundings. The room had no windows except for a small frosted pane of glass with wire reinforcement in the metal door through which he entered. There was a camera in plain site on the ceiling. Joe assumed that, as well as video, the room had audio surveillance. He had not seen Johnny Provenza in the building but he assumed that he was somewhere in a similar room either waiting or being questioned. Joe had watched enough television to know that they would be questioned separately. The agents would then compare their stories and might even fabricate facts to play Joe and Johnny against each other. Joe really wasn’t sure how to play any of this. He amused himself by considering telling the truth to the agents.
“Well, you see, I traveled through time a few times trying to fix my love life and save my parents. This is my fourth attempt and it hasn’t turned out well, so can I just try again?”
That might land him in some deep, dark government psychiatric facility. Joe even considered this as a potential escape route. Obviously, he wasn’t going to overpower the agents and escape from the building. He was an accountant, not James Bond.
Just as he was running through other options, the door opened and Special Agent in Charge McWorter entered. He sat in the chair across from Joe and made a quick glance at the camera as if to alert someone he was about to get started.
“Mr. McLean. Can I get you anything? Coffee, water, a soft drink?”
Joe thought, here it comes. He’s starting out as the good cop.
“No. I’m fine for now. I just want to find out what’s going on here.”
“Well, we have that in common. What is going on here, Mr. McLean?”
“What do you mean?” Joe asked stalling for time to think about his answers.
McWorter chuckled to himself.
“Let’s not play games here. We’ve been watching your company for a while. You guys have been great at covering your tracks. Now, you, an executive for the company, call the FBI, supposedly to report criminal activity, and you chicken out. What’s the story behind that, Mr. McLean?”
Joe carefully considered is answer.
“What’s going to happen to me if I tell you?”
“It depends on what you tell us and where it leads, but I’ve got to tell you, if there are illegal activities going on with your company, you could be in some serious trouble. If you help us by giving us information which cuts down on our investigation time, you might end up with reduced consequences.”
“What about immunity for me and my family?”
“Whoa, Mr. McLean. You’ve watched too many T.V. shows. We’re a long way from any kind of immunity deal. That would take a huge leap of faith from my superiors on what you can provide in this investigation. I’m not sure we can get there. Let’s not be premature. I would need a list of what you bring to the table before I can even consider taking it to my bosses.”
“Okay, I’ll provide you with a list. Let’s get this moving.”
McWorter smiled at McLean.
“I’m not sure what your motivation is, but if you try to stall of send us on a wild goose chase, we have a warrant ready to go for your warehouse and, if necessary, we will pull all of your company records. If you leave anything out, you won’t like the consequences.”
“Just let me get started on that list and then you can decide.”
Now Joe just had to figure out what he would put on the list that would satisfy the FBI. He really didn’t care about immunity. At this point, one clear goal was in mind.
McWorter got up from the table and turned to leave.
“Where are you going?” Joe asked.
“I’m going to get you something to write with so you can start your list.”
Joe now realized why his right hand was not cuffed. He had played into the FBI’s hand, but, at this point, he didn’t care. He needed to get out of this timeline.