Charles Ryan walked into his office. The clock on the wall read 6 a.m. Ryan tossed his jacket on the back of a chair and wondered aimlessly, pausing every now and again to read one of the articles that lined the walls and windows of the cramped space. His mind was restless. He had just returned from dropping Agent Netanya at the Denver International.
After returning to Denver from the recent road trip to Seattle, Netanya argued the fact that she could be of greater assistance back at the Shabak home office aiding in the task of combing through the vast amount of information collected on the POTE Foundation. The Israeli home base, she stated, was still the best and most secure location to carry out a strategic and thorough exploration of the foundation's workings.
With Netanya’s departure foremost on his mind, he found it difficult to reassert his thoughts into the eco-terrorism investigation. Slowly as the day wore on, his focus adjusted on the stack of files on his desk with only brief moments of longing.
Late in the afternoon, with sleeves, rolled up, Ryan leaned against his desk staring at one wall he had dedicated to a working storyboard of all the attacks attributed to the eco-terrorists. Lines ran from one investigation to another, tying all the acts of sabotage back to the top of the wall and a blown up picture of the Foundation, the culprit he deemed responsible.
The phone on his desk rang cutting into his thoughts. Reaching his hand behind his back, he grabbed the desk phone's receiver and absently answered.
“Ryan. Meet me in the boardroom in half an hour,” District Chief Tom Wilkerson demanded before severing the call. Ryan looked at the phone in his hand wondering what type of industrial accident had crossed the chief’s desk this time. Annoyed at the idea of interrupting his work he glanced back up at the storyboard, let a sigh of resignation leave his lips, walked around his desk and pulled on his suit jacket. The walk from his office to the boardroom passed the coffee station. The thought of a scalding cup of black coffee fleetingly lifted his spirits.
Minutes later found him sitting alone in the bureau's boardroom with his back to the door. Ryan glimpsed behind him as the sound of approaching footsteps entered the room. Chief Wilkerson strode into the room and nodded a greeting in Ryan's direction before taking a chair at the head of the table.
“Come, have a seat at the front,” Wilkerson said. Ryan noticed the absence of files in the chief’s hands.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“Assistant Director Burkes will be joining us shortly via teleconference,” the District Chief replied as he turned in his chair and adjusted the TV that doubled as a computer screen on a stand to his side. Ryan shook his head. Whatever had happened must be pressing if the A.D. is involved, he reasoned.
Minutes passed in silence. The attempts Ryan made at holding a conversation with his boss were mostly ignored. In the tense quiet of the room, Ryan sipped his coffee and bided his time.
“Tom. What’s going on?” Ryan implored one final time.
The expression District Chief Wilkerson shot in his direction was answer enough. Shit had hit the fan and was about to spread. Ryan went back to toying with his coffee. At first, the cup was hot to the touch, then not as hot on its way to being cold.
Scenarios ran wild through Ryan’s mind. What could have possibly happened in the last couple of hours? If any major sabotage had transpired in the country the whole bureau would be hopping, so he could rule that situation out. So where…and what?
Sipping the last of his tepid coffee, a voice from beside the DC grabbed his attention. Lifting his head in the direction of his boss, Ryan noticed the framed shot of the FBI’s Assistant Director's face peering into the room from the screen.
“Sir,” District Chief Wilkerson greeted the FBI’s second in command.
“DC Wilkerson, good evening,” Assistant Director Burkes replied.
“Special Agent Ryan,” the AD acknowledged. “Gentlemen, let’s not waste time,” Burkes said, his eyes sought out Special Agent Ryan. “Explain your visit to the People Of The Earth Foundation that you made a couple of days ago. Was it official FBI business?" the A.D. asked rhetorically. "What other reason could you have for attending the summit in Seattle and very clearly explain to me why you felt you had to accost the chairman of the foundation and cause a scene that, as I understand is an embarrassment to the bureau?
Ryan froze, his eyes locked on the Assistant Director, his mind a bowl of confusion, totally unprepared for the line of questioning. The hastily called conference was not to deal with a world crisis as he had been contemplating but instead focused on him.
“I…I thought a visit to the Foundation and talking with Lucas Pensworth the 3rd may produce results in my ongoing investigations.” Ryan finally stammered.
“Your investigation.” The A.D. lifted a paper off his desk as if reading it. “The investigation into the eco-terrorism plaguing the oil industry. Is that the one?”
“Yes, sir.” Ryan more nodded then spoke. “I know that Lucas and his foundation are behind the acts of sabotage and bombings.”
“Whew. That’s a relief,” AD Burkes mocked as he glared from the 55-inch television screen. “I was led to believe that no tangible evidence has surfaced that tied the eco-terrorists to the POTE. Unmistakably, I was ill-advised.”
“Well. Not exactly sir,” Ryan began. “In actuality, I do not have any concrete evidence but the circumstances….” He paused. “My instincts are off the board on this one. It’s just a matter of time.”
“Oh, I see. You thought you could shake those evildoers up. You took it upon yourself let the foundation know that the FBI was breathing down their necks thus forcing them to make a mistake. Is that correct?”
“Yes, sir. Something like that,” Ryan said.
“WHAT IN THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?” Assistant Director Burkes yelled. “Lucas Pensworth the 3rd is a very well respected man among most every government on the planet. The man’s efforts have been instrumental in turning back the tide of fossil fuel consumption. And through his foundation has worked feverishly to bring sustainable clean energy to hundreds of millions of people. HIS efforts will very likely help stave off the climate upheaval our planet is now experiencing.”
“Holy shit!” Ryan said incredulously,” What kind of kool-aide are they forcing you to drink. This man. This foundation is undermining the economics of the world, and you have the balls to sit there and defend him.”
Charles Ryan paused absorbing the shock of the A.D.’s words. His face purple with pent up frustration. Glowering at the screen shot of A.D. Burkes, Ryan gulped a breath of air into his lungs, calmed, then continued. “With all due respect sir. The man is a charlatan. He sends his minions to disrupt and destroy any industry opposed to his plan and then profits by selling bogus wind and solar shit in its place…”
“YOU are out of line agent. This is not up for discussion. I did not call to hear you run down a man that history may one day call the savior of our planet and then sit quietly by and listen while you insult my intelligence with your half-baked conspiracy theories,” the A.D. interjected cutting off Ryan’s rant.
“Sir. I am very close to tying the eco bombings to the POTE Foundation; the evidence will prove what I am saying,” Ryan lied out of rage.
“Read my lips, Ryan. There is no longer an investigation!” Assistant Director Burkes announced. “Any and all files you have are to be turned over to District Chief Wilkerson. Post haste! Do you understand? You have wasted enough of the bureau’s time and resources traversing the globe chasing figments.” Then ignoring Ryan the Assistant Director addressed D.C. Wilkerson. “Tom, I want Special Agent Ryan suspended until further notice. Have him escorted from the building once you’ve taken possession of his files.” With the A.D.’s Burkes final words the screen on the T.V. went blank.
Ryan turned for support from the District Chief but was greeted instead with a noncommittal stare in return. “You heard the man. I suggest you save yourself any further trouble and do as he says.” As an after thought Chief Wilkerson added. “I will have Special Agent Mookes drive you home.”
The dinner hour found Special Agent Charles Ryan perched on a barstool having a liquid meal of barley sandwiches chased with shots of rye. The third set in, Ryan’s phone began chirping and vibrating, dancing across the sticky bar surface. Ryan stared down the phone until it fell silent.
Downing the latest pair of drinks, he raised his hand in the air to signal the bartender for another round when the phone began to ring again. Out of irritation he swung his hand around and grabbed the annoying plastic box. He glanced at the number on the screen. For once he almost hoped for the call to be from some annoying telemarketer. Someone he would happily share his anger with.
The number was slow to register in his alcohol soaked mind. An overseas number, one that seemed familiar but he struggled to place.
The ringer sounded again.
“Are you going to answer that damn thing or are you in love with the sound,” the bartender gruffly prodded as he set down a beer and a shot glass and with a towel wiped the wooden surface of the bar top.
Ryan connected the call and placed the phone to his ear. “Hello?” he muttered over the noise in the room.
“Charles?” Netanya Kalb asked. Shit, Ryan mumbled when he realized who was calling and held up a finger notifying the bartender he needed a second, slid off the barstool and headed for the door and privacy.
Standing outside in the cold Colorado mountain air Ryan collected himself. “Netanya. It's good to hear your voice.”
“Charles, the investigation is being shut down. I’m to be reassigned another caseload,” she blurted.
A new Canadian Author with too many ideas in his head. Surprising even himself with where his stories go.