The action is mounting. Jonesy is now fully involved and he and the CIO of Kongo Match are cooking up a way to trap their prey. I introduce yet another colorful character this week as an old friend and confidante of Jonesy. I’m not sure what his role will end up being, but he’s interesting to write for.
On a side note, I’ve updated my Author Directory and Serial pages. You can now find all the authors I’ve interviewed over the past 3 years and the serials that I’ve written, two of which have become books this year.
Now, please enjoy Part 8 of First Impression.
“Can you believe this? I’m being set up because I brought you in.”
Johnston’s face was red with anger as he showed the email he received from OutOfDate62 to Clifford “Jonesy” Jones.
“I can’t believe it. That’s a pretty attractive girl coming on to an old guy,” Jones said trying to lighten the mood with his special brand of smart-ass humor. Johnston was not amused.
“That’s not the point. I didn’t react to her and basically told her, although I was flattered, it was inappropriate. This doctored video makes it look like I’m a dirty old man that took advantage of a young, vulnerable girl. This was definitely not the case.”
“I’m sure that’s true or you wouldn’t have shared it with me. The problem is, perception is what rules in these situations. If this video were leaked, it would harm you, your career, and the company.”
“So, what do we do?” Johnston asked, as what Jones told him was painfully obvious.
“We tell this person, OutOfDate62 that you will comply and get rid of me.”
“What do you mean? We’re just going to knuckle under and you’re going back to Jacksonville with your tail between your legs?”
Jones was starting to like Johnston. It sounded like he was willing to risk his reputation to get to the bottom of the situation.
“I said we would tell OutOfDate62 that you’re getting rid of me. What we actually do, will be quite different.”
The exasperation on Johnston’s face twisted into the beginnings of a smile.
“Tell me more, Mr. Jones.”
“Well, it starts with me going up to Santa Fe.”
Johnston relaxed and sat back as Jones told him the plan.
The response was quick. Johnston had played right into the scenario just as was hoped. OutOfDate62 suspected he had no spine, but the instantaneous speed with which he responded pleading for the video to not be released confirmed his cowardice and self-preservation instinct. He would gladly let his company sink as he joined the rest of the rats saving himself on the shore.
The combination of politeness and desperation in the email struck him as the words of a man that was truly afraid for his job, but more afraid of losing his personal standing.
I received your email and video link. I must say that, even though the situation was not as it was portrayed in the edited video, it puts me, my reputation and that of my family in a bad light.
Rather than risking the release of this video, I have severed my ties with Mr. Jones. His work for us had not started officially, so he did not uncover any information that would lead to identifying you in any way.
With that said, I implore you to consider curbing your actions. I will personally sit down with you and work through whatever grievances you have against me and Kongo Match. I’m sure, as two intelligent IT professionals, we can work through this and stop the injurious actions toward innocent victims.
Please consider this offer and reach out to me at your earliest convenience.
Robert Johnston, CIO – Kongo Match
The bait had been taken. The hook could now be set. Johnston had responded just as hoped and had opened up lines of communication. Of course, OutOfDate62 had no intention of reaching out to him directly. As for the video, it would be held until the right moment and then released as planned. Johnston, Kongo Match and Kongo.com were not escaping this scenario. Not by a long shot. This was a no-win situation for Johnston. He was going down with the ship and Kongo.com was a ship of titanic proportions.
A quick sweep confirmed that Jones had never used the credentials that had been granted to him. It was an unknown whether Johnston would comply, but he appeared to have done so. Now phase two of the plans could continue without interference. If Kongo Match thought phase one was painful, phase two would make it pale in comparison.
The one-hour drive north from Albuquerque to Santa Fe on I-25 was relaxing. It passed on the outskirts of the Cibola and Santa Fe national forests through the mostly uninhabited high desert of New Mexico. A true-mile high city at an elevation of 5,312 feet, the landscape inclined to nearly 7,200 feet by the time Jonesy reached the quaint city that catered to the southwest heritage of the area and the art community. The vibe reminded him of St. Augustine in Florida. Instead of stucco and waterfront, Santa Fe featured adobe and mountains. The small-town artistic feel, with an undercurrent of tourism, however, reminded him of Florida’s oldest city back home.
As he had agreed with Johnston, Jonesy would be hooking up with an acquaintance in Santa Fe that could give him a place to stay and work along with the technology he needed. He would keep the investigation going in such a way that OutOfDate62 would not know that he was still working on it until the moment he or she was caught.
As Jonesy pulled into the driveway of a beautiful old house on the Old Santa Fe Trail in the historic section of the city, he thought back to his days with the friend upon whose hospitality he was prevailing. They went to law school together. Jack was the son of self-proclaimed hippies. His full name was John Kennedy Horowitz. His parents were obviously fans of the young president and saw no conflict in his Irish-Jewish moniker clash. Jack was more heavily influenced by his parents’ Bohemian lifestyle than he let on. Even though they shuddered at his choice of profession, he redeemed himself by moving to Santa Fe where he represented minority artists in matter of intellectual property and copyright. He had a steady clientele and the quality and size of his two-story adobe structure with a naturally landscaped front yard and a circular driveway. A brand-new Tesla sedan was parked in the driver with the license plate reading ‘Jack4U’ mounted to it. Jonesy was in the right place. He parked his non-descript rental car and rang the doorbell. The door opened and Jonesy had to blink when he saw his old friend standing in the doorway.
“Clifford Jones, I presume?” Jack Horowitz said. He was wearing khaki cargo shorts no shoes and a Guardians of the Galaxy t-shirt.
“JK, look at you. You turned into your parents. The pony tail is a nice touch and I like the wardrobe.”
“What can I say? When in Rome…or Santa Fe, you have to blend in. If your clients relate to you, you can better serve them and you get more of them.”
As Jonesy walked in, he noted the quality of the décor and furnishings.
“Well it looks like you have plenty of them,” he said as he looked around.
“I do alright. Plus, mom and dad, despite their hippie exterior, invested in a trust fund for their only child and the return was quite healthy. Plus, much of the artwork you see is from my clients either as payment or as a thank you.”
Jonesy admired the path his old friend had taken. Despite his more meager spending of his funds, Jonesy could relate to Jack’s ethos.
“Are you still saving up for that island in Central America?”
“Well, things have been good. I’m on to saving for the house I’m going to build on it.”
“That’s great. Now, tell me about what you need. I’ve got the guest house all ready for you with some of the gadgets you asked for.”
“As long as it’s wired for Internet, I’m good.”
“It has a 1,000 MB fiber connection and I also had the pantry and the fridge stocked for you. You’re still eating that kale and sprout crap, right?”
“I am, though my partner has taught me to expand to his meat, cheese and potato cuisine on occasion.”
“Well, there’s hope for you yet. I know you’re anxious to get to it, so I’ll point you toward the guest house. Just give me a shout if you need anything else.”
Jonesy had called Jack after he and Johnston had gone over the plan. He knew that Jack could help him, but he had no idea just how much help he would be. The guest house had a comfortable office space that faced the mountains along with a king-sized bed, a fully stocked kitchen and a hot tub in the small courtyard. It was basically a smaller version of the big house.
“I have just one more question for you, Jack.”
“Go ahead. Ask away.”
“What do you know about Lou Sturgis?”
“You mean, ‘don’t cry boo hoo, call Lou’? He’s one step above an ambulance chaser and a few steps below human. How is he involved in this?”
“He’s started a class-action suit with the victims. He’s been able to get most of them to sign.”
“That’s right up his alley, although the Kongo lawyers are much bigger sharks when compared to him.”
“It’s not the size of the shark that matters, it’s the size of the harpoon you shoot at it. Sturgis seems to have a pretty big harpoon in this one. It’s almost as if he was tipped off by someone.”
“Stranger things have happened. Just watch out for that guy. He is like a pit bull. He doesn’t let go of a case once it’s in his jaws.”
“Wow, one lawyer calling another both a shark and a pit bull. So much for professional courtesy,” Jonesy observed.
“You have to be a professional to deserve the courtesy. That excludes Sturgis.”
Jonesy nodded in agreement and started to unpack his gear from his duffel.
“I don’t even want to know what that stuff does. I’ll get out of your hair and let you get to it.”
After Jack had left, Jonesy settled into the desk and began putting his hand-crafted firewalls in place from his laptop. OutOfDate62 had mentioned his name. Now the game was on. He was highly motivated.