IT’S A NOVEL WITH A MESSAGE: OUR UNITY IS IN CHRIST; NOT THE BALLOT BOX.
April 23rd, Monday, FBI Headquarters
Billy and Sammie got off two different elevators and came into my office foyer trying to act like they didn’t know each other. I was at Grace’s desk talking to her and I noticed their actions. So, a few minutes later, when they entered my office I said to both of them, “I appreciate the fact you are trying to keep your knowledge of each other hidden, but when you’re in my office area it’s ok to talk.”
They both looked relieved which I thought was kind of cute and wondered how they entered the safe house for their bi-weekly meetings. But it did make me think about another issue, so I ask them.
“Do you two see each other at any other venues?”
They were silent and looked down at their feet, which I didn’t like. I remained silent, knowing I needed to let them speak.
It is amazing to me how much people will say, that they normally would not, if one is just quiet. It’s interesting. When there is silence, people want to fill it with words.
Billy spoke, “Boss we didn’t plan this, but we both find ourselves attending the same church.”
I looked at them warily, thought of religious rights arguments, and decided to ignore it, for the time being.
Getting started with our meeting, I asked Billy, “A couple months ago we talked about contacts in your colleague’s files. I trust you have been following them. Is there anything new on that front?
“I looked deeper and found that these friendlies stay in touch with one another, and actually, fairly often. It’s like they are one great big group or clique. And in lots of cases, various members of their staff stay in touch with one another. It is really odd. It’s like they are all one extended family.”
“Did you do any additional follow up?” I asked.
He responded with a red face and I said, “What? You’re not getting in trouble, I like your proactiveness. What’d you find?”
“Well, I kind of, felt like I had a little authority from you. So I decided to look at periodic emails to and from this group of people. My examination was by no means exhaustive, but I did find one interesting and regular refrain. It had to do with the words, ‘God has given favor to,’ and they all referenced an apostle, whom they also call a pastor, who apparently has some political connections.”
“Who is it?” I asked, knowing what the answer would be.
“Apostle, Pastor Mortenson from. . .”
“Atlanta. Yes, I know of her, Billy. Good work.”
Billy and Sammie looked at each other in surprise, “How did you know that, boss?” Sammie asked.
“I’ve been working this case from a number of directions,” was all I answered.
I was trying to think through the facts they were giving me when I noticed they were both looking at each other and I could tell there was something else which needed to be shared.
“So,” I asked, “What else?”
Sammie took the lead. “We found something interesting. Not a problem, because we know them, and trust them, but it is a bit odd.”
“What is it,” I asked, already thinking about my calendar for tomorrow.
Billy now spoke. “I noticed a document in Issy’s files which had her husband’s signature stamp.”
Sammie noticed my, “I don’t get it,” look on my face.
“It means the document came from Jude’s computer,” she explained.
“Why would he be giving her a document?” I said in a whisper, loud enough to be heard.
“That concerned me too, boss,” added Billy, “especially when her notes on the document said, ‘eyes only’ and then the candidate’s name as well as the Chief of Staff.”
He continued, “I started tracking the document and made a note to tell you about it if it ever becomes a white-paper the candidate uses to make policy decisions.”
“That’s when Billy got me involved,” Sammie picked up the narrative, “And I started looking for the origin of the document but determined its origin was not on Jude’s work computer.”
She looked at Billy who said, “Remember when we first met, sir? I told you I am pretty good at ‘geeking.’ Well, I put on my geeking hat and started looking for the origin of this document.”
He stopped and looked over at Sammie who seemed to encourage him. It’s actually kind of sweet to watch these two work together.
“Boss, the origin of this document was their home and the hours on which the document was worked, was late evening, every time.”
“Collaboration?” I whispered, more to myself than to them. I stood up slowly and didn’t realize it at first, but I was shaking my head, “Not Jude and Issy.”
Billy and Sammie remained completely quiet as I strode over to my window.
I wasn’t looking at anything in particular. “What was the subject of the document?” I asked.
“News Outlets and Religious People,” one of them said.
As if not hearing, I continued, “Collaboration is contrary their work agreement.”
After a few more moments I asked, “Just curious. How did the document get to Issy’s computer? Was there an email trail?”
“No, sir, why?” asked Sammie.
I was getting angry now, not at Billy and Sammie, but at Jude and Issy. I have spent the last few months shielding them from Pete, who may have been right all along.
I hate having to eat-crow when there has been an inter-departmental blunder. I thought about it some more and realized, “No, that isn’t my concern.” For some reason my mom popped into my head.
“That’s it!” I said, gritting my teeth. I turned to the two kids. My face was red, I could feel it. I spit out the words, “I can just see the newspapers now, ‘Christian Couple at Heart of Political Espionage.’ Another cyber challenged presidential election, and this one, on my watch.”
My suspicions were now through the roof. “Are they doing what they promised to never do, namely, work together?”
Sammie’s eyes welled up with tears. She now understood the critical situation I saw Jude and Issy in. She wasn’t looking at me, but her concern was obvious. She asked, “You’re not going to arrest them or haul them in, are you?”
I saw the fright in Billy’s face too, but Sammie continued, “Sir, the moment their bosses’ ability to trust them is questioned, these two people will be broken and kicked out of the business.”
“There’s got to be something we are missing, sir.” Billy responded, anxiety in his voice. “Boss, we’re talking about two very respected people’s lives. You can’t do this to them, sir, boss. You can’t.”
Because I was only partially listening to them, I ignored their direct challenge to my authority. I was still thinking of the implications of their revelation. I dismissed them asking, “Is there anything else you need to tell me?”
“No,” they both said, looking at each other.
“Alright,” I told them, “Then I need you to go. I have a lot of work to do now.”
I looked at these two frightened kids with a little sympathy. “I know my reaction is causing you unease, but I have to think of the bigger picture. I have a lot of decisions to make and directional changes. But of course, keep looking for information you think I’ll need.”
Leaving FBI Headquarters
I couldn’t believe what had just happened. Billy and I merely shared information about one document and now the lives of two people could be severely damaged or even ruined.
We had to do something about this. We couldn’t let it remain in this state. “But what?” I thought to myself, “What?”
Since we started working together on this project, we had developed some cues which we’d use to communicate in ways that kept our friendship clandestine. Over the last few weeks our relationship had become one of deep personal friendship. Who knows, maybe even love? I blushed deeply thinking about falling in love with Billy.
One of the cues we had was passing by the other and giving a little cough. This meant “call me immediately.”
I thought of Jude and Issy. I did think it odd that they had collaborated when their employment agreement is so clear. But knowing them, I couldn’t see them violating their employer’s trust. And how do we know they collaborated, maybe Issy just used Jude’s computer for some reason?
There were too many things we still didn’t know. And we needed to fix this.
In the elevator on the way down, I nonchalantly covered my mouth and gave a small cough. Billy raised his head a little but never looked at me.