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Awakenings Chapter 2: Realizations, Page 10

Eric exited the SUV and walked back to his car.  Climbing in, he pulled out to make a u-turn into the street to drive to his Berkeley condominium, all the while his thoughts replayed the events of the past couple of days over and over in his head.  He also thought about how this would likely earn him some additional cash.  He dreamt about ways to spend the money he was sure would soon be coming.

When Eric opened the door to his condominium, he found a note on the floor that had obviously been shoved under the door.  Opening it, he read, “Ayala View Restaurant, 7:45 PM.  Use the ferry terminal parking lot. Enter from waterfront entrance.  Go to the north window table.  Flush this when you have read this.”

Eric was very familiar with the City of Tiburon on the north side of San Francisco Bay.  His silver Honda was not conspicuous as he drove down the street to the ferry terminal.  While pushing the ticket button on the automatic gate, out of the corner of his eye he noticed a man walking down the street in a long black coat.  Eric was smart enough to know not to look directly at the guy.  He pulled his Honda into a compact car stall and waited a moment, inconspicuously inventorying his surroundings.  When the only people present were a couple of young lovers strolling down the sidewalk, he exited his car and walked at a stiff but unhurried pace to the waterfront walkway.  As he turned onto the walkway, he was able to glance behind himself to be sure that he wasn’t being followed.  In another 100 feet he turned and entered the Ayala View Restaurant, a place famous for its view of Angel Island.  The running lights of boats in Raccoon straight were visible, framed by the lights of Richmond and Berkeley on the other side of the Bay.  Stepping inside, he did not wait for the hostess, but instead walked to the north side, where the tables were less desirable due to a lack of ocean view, the view being the street in front of the restaurant.  There, at a window table sat Juan with another guy that Eric did not recognize.  Eric could see the Tiburon Bay House Restaurant across the street through the window, although the stained glass portions of the window interfered with the view.

Juan glanced at Eric and actually smiled a little, motioning him over to a chair at the table.  Juan introduced the stranger to Eric, “This is a co-worker who helps us with security, you can call him Robert.  We are expecting one more, would you like a glass of wine?”

“Yes, please”, and Eric looked at the wine list.

On the other side of the restaurant, a trio of musicians started up, playing a series of hootenanny tunes from the 60’s.  Juan took this as a cue to begin talking.

“Eric, thank you again for alerting us.  We thought that we were being watched, we were not sure if it was the government or possibly even either the Russian or Mexican mafia.  We were not really expecting the FBI.  This is serious.  You will be rewarded for your help.”

Robert looked at Eric, and spoke to him with a faint Australian accent. “You should know that we have a lot more insiders working for us at Customs, and we are pleased to be able to have some important leverage on key FBI personnel.”

Eric looked Robert in the eye. “I can understand Customs and the Treasury.  Those organizations have been bastardized as a result of 9/11.  But how could you possibly have any influence over the FBI?”

Just then the fourth party for dinner walked up.  Both Juan and the stranger stood up.  Juan extended a hand to the Asian gentleman who appeared.  But the Asian just stopped, and, not extending his hand, instead bowed slightly to both Robert and Juan.  Robert greeted the newcomer. “Good evening, Shindo.  I am glad that you could make it.  Can we get you a glass of wine?”

Shindo did not smile as he sat down.  Instead he held up both hands showing that the outer digits of both pinkies, and one digit of his second finger on his right hand were missing.

Continued ...     Back to Page 9