Raymond called into work in the morning. He told Gary Haskell, the Project Manager, that he needed a day off. He had a sense that time was critical.
He took in a morning AA meeting at the usual place. He announced that he needed to identify somebody.
A thin, weedy man in his forties suggested they go to coffee afterward and talk about it.
Raymond handed over the SD card and described the giant thug.
A few hours later Raymond got an anonymous text suggesting it would be a good idea to eat lunch at a certain, Mexican cafe. Since that was the same cafe where he had first met McDevitt, Raymond was there fifteen minutes early.
The hostess gave him his own table. She had been expecting him. Precisely at noon, McDevitt entered the cafe’s dining area after coming through the kitchen doors.
McDevitt got right down to business.
“The pictures you gave my man are of a thug from Seattle.” McDevitt said. “Where did you see him?” he asked.
“He broke into my girlfriend’s apartment.” Raymond said.
McDevitt shook his head. “She is a very lucky girl if she is still alive. He specializes in wet-work.”
That was a new term for Raymond. “Wet-work?” For some reason that made Raymond think of drywallers and the final flood coat of compound they apply to walls.
“He is a hit man. He kills people.” McDevitt clarified.
Raymond was shocked. He had assumed that the man was a simple thief.
“What tipped you off that this guy might be out-of-the ordinary?” McDevitt asked.
“I dunno. Maybe because I would have noticed him if he was local. You don’t see that many guys the size of Yao Ming walking around LA. I guess the other thing is that he was so pale. I figured he was either fresh out of prison or lived underground.” Raymond said.
“Hmpf.” McDevitt grunted.
“Somebody wanted your girlfriend dead. You made some powerful enemies. I am surprised that they didn’t try to take you out.” McDevitt said.
“Maybe they did. But I sleep in a lot of different places. I have a bunch of different places where I string my hammock.” Raymond said.
“Here is the deal.” McDevitt said. “I can offer you some protection but I cannot protect your girlfriend unless you move in with her. Then she gets protection as a side benefit. I am willing to give you protection because I got an investment in you and it pisses me off that people are coming into my turf and I don’t know about it.”
“Another thing is that I cannot protect you if you keep moving around. Just to hard to pull off logistically.” McDevitt said.
“The third thing you gotta think about is not being predictable. It worked to your advantage last night. You gotta take different routes and make the timing of your trips unpredictable.” McDevitt said. “There is a ton of information on the internet about executive security. Whether you like it or not, between your work and your political exposure, you are now an executive target.”
“For example, we will never meet again in this restaurant” McDevitt said. “and the next time we meet, if we ever do, it will not be at lunch time.”
“The last thing is that you better think about getting a gun.” McDevitt said.
“Can’t you get me one?” Raymond asked.
“Haven’t you ever heard of plausible deniability?” McDevitt said sharply. “You have connections. Use them.”
And with that, McDevitt left the table and exited the restaurant through the kitchen doors leaving Raymond to finish the meal and pick up the bill.