Thursday, November 15th
Adnan “Andy” Farooqi walked down the corridor toward the chief’s office. In front of the door, he knocked and a voice beckoned him in. As he poked his head in the door, he answered, deadpan. “Hello sir. To what do I owe the pleasure of your summons?”
Chief Brent Wilders a CIA veteran of 25 years, with the last five in Internal Affairs Division, rolled his eyes. IAD was not a popular job, but Wilders showed the same grit and determination at this job as he had in all his other posts. Whatever this case may entail, Wilders would handle it efficiently and with aplomb.
“Sit down, Andy. And by the way, you don’t have to kiss up with me.” He grinned, and then gestured toward the chair on the other side of his desk. “We seem to have a problem with a rogue agent. No one is sure of his name, but he usually goes by ‘Angelo.’
Wilders shifted in his chair, took a sip of his coffee, and continued. “He has no record with us or any other agency -- sort of a mystery man. The problem is we can’t have someone in the Agency operating on his own. He could be a real security breach. We’ve had visual sightings of him in several countries, including here in D.C., but he never registers on any video camera. No one has been able to decipher this. To make a long story short, we need you to head up a special ops team to smoke this Angelo out. We gotta rein him in before he causes some major damage to the security of our operations, and probably throughout the world.”
“I’ll put together some of the best investigative staff we have available, and get right on this, sir,” he said.
“Good. Intel tells me that he was last seen escorting a witness protection case to a family in Bethesda: An ‘Evelyn Chen.’ We’ve had her under surveillance since then. We’re setting you up for a clandestine interview with her and her adoptive sister, Grace Chen tomorrow. This ‘Evelyn Chen’ was the last one to know of his whereabouts. See if you can’t get her to divulge some info, even if means bringing her in for questioning.”
Farooqi jotted down some notes, and looked up at his superior officer. “This sounds like that case I’ve heard about for a few years. How much latitude do I have in this op?”
Wilders replied tersely. “Just do whatever you need to do. Angelo is a security threat.”
Michael watched the entire silly affair and laughed to himself. “Humans are so clever, yet they haven’t a clue. They will do all they can to ‘rescue me from myself’ but it is they who really need the rescuing. O foolish sons of man – if you would only seek after truth and righteousness.” With that, he crossed back through the gates into New Jerusalem.
Monday, November 19th
Evie woke up the next morning at seven. Covers flew off her, legs flew over the side of the bed while her mouth yawned and her body stretched. Shivering from the chill in the air and the cold, hard floor, she put on a bathrobe and some slippers and ambled into the kitchen area.
Gracie ate some cereal, yogurt, and orange juice for breakfast, seated on one of the kitchen stools. “Good morning! How are you feeling today? Is your headache better? Are you okay about the shooting?”
The day’s previous events had proven emotionally exhausting, and she had just slept as if she someone had drugged her. It struck her as odd that she slept as she did. She had never slept before. She stretched again, trying to loosen the effects of slumber. “My headache is gone, but the shooting still bothers me,” she answered groggily. “I guess I’ll just have to process living in this evil world.” Looking back at Gracie, she asked, “Did you sleep well?”
“Yes, thank you,” Grecie replied.
“Well, I have an interview at the International Language Institute later this morning, so I’ll need to take the subway to the DuPont Circle station. She looked towards the heavens. “Michael – thank you, big brother – set it up, and gave me some spending change. He set up a few more interviews as well, so I’ll need to do my homework, and figure out where all these places are on one of those map sites on the Internet.”
“Hey! I have an idea,” Gracie said. “Why don’t we meet for lunch when you’re done with your interview: say about 12:30?”
“Sounds good,” she answered.
At 12:30, Evie walked up to the Kramer Books and Afterward Café. The menu on the window next to the door looked full of tasty dishes. The menu’s fare made her stomach rumble, so she walked in and perused the premises for her sister, who sat in a corner to her left. As she approached the table, her sister got up, gave her a hug, and they both sat down. Feeling a little less overwhelmed than yesterday, she started the conversation. “Hi. How’s it going?”
“Good. Here’s the menu. Take a look and see what you want to order.”
As she perused the menu, Gracie inquired, “So...how’d the job interview go?”
“It went real well. They were impressed with the fact that I know so many languages, and that I can act as a translator as well. Interestingly enough, there’s a position they were trying to fill. Someone left a month ago, and the Institute needed desperately to fill the position. I seem to have come at just the right time. They want me to start tomorrow.”
“That’s great...nothing short of a miracle. God is really looking out for you!”
This revelation upset her. On one level, she knew Gracie was right; but The Father still felt distant, like a famous personality that everyone knows about, but only a few have access too. She smiled gamely and answered, “Yeah.”
Tuesday, November 20th
Evie walked out of her last class, and blew out a long, slow breath. “This has been an interesting day,” she thought to herself. She walked to the break room, and looked around. Not yet knowing anyone who worked her except for the Director of the Institute, and the HR person, who blathered on for a long time about benefits, she went to a table in the corner, where an older woman sat, dressed very properly, having a dignified air. The woman looked friendly enough, so she asked, “May I sit here?”
“Sure. Make yourself at home.”
Evie sat and tried to make conversation. She held out her hand. “Hi. I’m Evie. What’s your name?”
The woman took her hand and replied, “I’m Velma. Is this your first day here?”
“Yes. How long have you worked here?”
“Gosh…going on twenty years; but I still love it.”
“Really?” Evie said, popping a cracker into her mouth. “What do you love about it?”
“Oh, the satisfaction of knowing that someone is learning to be a part of a new society, and learning the language is the first step.”
Evie pondered those words for a moment. “They do seem real eager to learn; in fact, most of them are very bright. I admire them for being willing to adapt to a whole new way of life, starting with learning another language.” The irony hit her hard. Quietly, she looked down at her crackers, feeling the burning in her eyes as the homesickness hit her again. She forced the tears back down, and calmed herself.
“You okay, Evie?”
She looked up at Velma, and forced a smile. ’Yes. I’m fine. I think I understand how they feel. I’ve only been here in D.C. a couple of days myself; I feel just as much an outsider as my students. I’m learning like they are about this new city and culture.”
“Well, if you’re from another country, you don’t speak with an accent.”
Evie thought fast, not wanting to slip up and talk about her past as an angel. “Well, I was born in America, and my Father was American, so I learned English as my first language. My parents were missionaries to China, so I have spoken English and Chinese nearly all my life.”
“And you came to this country to teach English? I would think you would be teaching Mandarin.”
Evie managed a smile. “Ironic, isn’t it?” She let the conversation with Velma lag as she finished her crackers. Turning to Velma, smiling, she said, “Nice meeting you Velma. Hope to see you again.” She got up, went back to her office to gather up her belongings and leave for the day.
Velma looked at Evie with contempt as she walked away. She had been at the institute for twenty years, and done well. Yet, these young things with their looks and their wiles seem to want to run us older teachers over. “I’ll make sure to be in her way before she gets a chance to cozy up with the boss, and take away my job. I can just hear it now: ’Velma, you’ve done an outstanding job here at the Institute, but we must make room for others who want to make this their career.” She could just imagine the shpiel about severance pay, and ‘golden parachutes,’ and the pleasure of being retired. “I don’t want to retire until I’m ready. Well, Miss Evie: you’ve met your match. You’d better step real carefully, ’cause Velma Quarantillo will not roll over and play dead.”
As she headed for the Metro station, she tried not to let the life that was now laid out before her overwhelm her. Father, help me in this journey I am undertaking. I know it won’t be easy, but at least hold me while I walk. Let me know you are there...please.
Some very attentive ears were listening in the Throne Room. “I can certainly see to that,” Lord Jehovah said. “It is good she sees the need for some help. Now I am waiting for her to recognize the deeper need.”
Wednesday, November 21st
Carlo sat in the break room, sipping on green tea, and munching a huge blueberry muffin. He looked up from his muffin and his papers and took in this drop-dead gorgeous Asian woman: tall and shapely, with long, jet-black hair cascading down her entire back.
“May I join you?” she asked, smiling engagingly.
Those blue-green eyes really caught his attention. They really stood out against her raven hair. His rational mind abandoned him for a few moments. The realization hit that he had been staring at her and broke him out of his stupor; she smiled at him in a charming sort of way.
“May I sit at this table?” she asked again, grinning. The realization hit him that she had just asked him a question, and he was too busy ogling her to notice. “Oh...uhh...Hi...uhh...sure. Please...have a seat,” he managed to stammer out. Rats! He felt like he was in junior high again, at that awkward stage where you just learned you liked girls. Whoever she was, she caught him totally off guard. It also didn’t help that most of the female teachers at the institute were mostly your plain-Jane brainiacs who, although professionally dressed and coiffed, and pleasant and friendly, didn’t exactly make him take a second look -- until now. He put out his hand, offering a handshake.
“I’m Carlo...Carlo Bocelli” he said, gaining enough composure to introduce himself. “And you?”
She took his hand. “Evelyn Chen...but call me Evie. What do you do here at the Institute?”
“I’m a teacher and member of the Administrative Staff. I not only teach some of the classes, but I make up the curriculum, and help define and refine school policy. It can be tedious, but I enjoy it. How ’bout you?”
She smiled. “I just started as a teacher yesterday. I teach several ESOL classes.” She paused, looking thoughtful. “‘Carlo’...is that Italian?”
“Yes. My father is third generation Italian American. Mom is French by way of Argentina, where her family moved shortly after World War II. She grew up speaking not only French, but Spanish, and a little German, since there were many German refugees there from the war as well.” Not wanting to prattle endlessly, his focus returned to those captivating blue-green eyes. “What’s your family’s background?”
“My family is similar. My father is American and my mother is French and Chinese.” The conversation went on effortlessly for the entire lunch break. “Oh dear. My lunch hour is over. In fact, I’m late,” Evie noted, looking at her watch.
“You’re right; I need to be getting back, too,” he said. “See you later...and nice meeting you. I’ve enjoyed talking to you!” He watched her walk away, admiring the view. That was the bonus; she was very easy to talk to as well. This job is definitely looking up.