At the Comms Room, Matt swiped his security pass over a proximity reader. An audible electronic buzz sounded. Matt shouldered the heavy door open and entered the large room, followed closely by Rodriguez.
The rookie stood looking around in a typical first-time glance. The room was dark and despite the number of staff, it was relatively quiet.
An oversized wall-mounted screen displaying a large FBI logo over an azure background greeted visitors to the darkened room from the opposite wall.
Agents sat at consoles spread throughout the room. Each one was illuminated by the diffused light radiating from their computer monitors. Most of them appeared oblivious to the visitors’ entry into their domain.
An agent wearing head phones sitting at one of the consoles along the left wall caught Matt’s wandering eyes and he beckoned Matt over. Matt nodded in understanding. He tapped a somewhat awestruck Rodriguez on the shoulder and pointed towards the seated agent.
’We’ve got Bonaduce chatting with our UC in Mickey’s Trattoria on 5th,’ the agent said as Matt slid into the seat to the agent’s left. Rodriguez slid into the seat to the right. ‘Our guy arrived about five minutes ago’.
The Agent gestured to the head phones on the desk. Matt slipped them on. Matt lifted his chin to the head phones on the desk in front of Rodriguez.
A grin emerged out the side of Matt’s face as he watched the Rookie slip them on. The big ear phones on the Rookie’s small head made Rodriguez look like Mickey Mouse.
Matt listened in on the conversation between Bonaduce and their UC. ‘Is that our UC’s phone we’re listening through, or did you manage to get a Roving Bug on Bonaduce’s mobile?’ Matt said.
The console agent shook his head. ‘Nah, they confiscated the UC’s phone after they patted him down when he arrived. We’re listening through Bonaduce’s phone.’
Matt nodded his understanding.
The console agent pointed to the left side monitor. ‘See that…Bonaduce just received a text message on his mobile,’ the Agent said.
Matt’s read the message that appeared across the screen. The message simply read, “He’s clean” .
‘They’ve just run a background check on our UC,’ Matt said to Rodriguez. ‘The text there…’ he gestured to the screen, ‘was to let Bonaduce know the checks they did on our UC were clean….in other words - he’s not a cop. We knew they would conduct their own background checks, probably through a crooked cop on their payroll, so we created a fake criminal record under an alias, so our UC appears more credible.’
Rodriguez nodded. The smile on his face suggested he was clearly impressed by what he was witnessing.
For the next forty-five minutes, all three men listened intently, with remarkable clarity on the conversation surreptitiously transmitted through Bonaduce’s own mobile phone.
The UC had done a remarkable job, firstly by gaining the trust of the Crime Boss and then by eliciting valuable information.
Bonaduce openly discussed details relating to the type of shipments the UC wished to purchase, the delivery dates and locations, the highly inflated cost, and how payment would be facilitated. They were able to record everything - all thanks to Bonaduce’s own mobile phone.
Once the UC had safely left the restaurant Matt removed the headphones and dropped them onto the desk. ‘Great job,’ he said. He patted the console operator on the shoulder as he slid out of his chair and stood.
Rodriguez stood from his chair and both men left the Comms Room.
‘What now?’ Rodriguez asked trying to keep in step with Matt as they made their way back to the bullpen.
‘Well… what we just learned will be used in a strike against Bonaduce at the drop off location. We’ll get them at the goods and money exchanges,’ Matt said. ‘It will be a large scale operation, probably involving us, the DEA for the drugs and ATF for the semi-automatics.’
‘If you’re lucky you may be able to tag along as a distant observer.’
‘How was it we were able to listen in on that conversation so clearly? You said they sweep the restaurant for bugs,’ Rodriguez asked as they walked.
'We installed what we call a Roving Bug in Bonaduce’s phone. It’s called a bug, but in reality, we don’t actually plant a listening device in the phone. We don’t need to physically handle his phone to install it.’
Rodriguez nodded. ‘OK…’ he answered vaguely.
'Once installed, we can remotely access his mobile phone from anywhere and listen in via the phone’s inbuilt microphone. If the phone is powered off…we can remotely turn it on without him knowing.
‘Wow. That’s unbelievable.’
‘Have you ever set the alarm on your mobile phone and maybe turned it off to save battery overnight…?’
‘Well…the bug uses the phone’s same technology to activate it. Only when we activate the phone remotely there are no tells. The screen remains blank and the target can still make and receive calls and text messages. He has no idea we’re on the other end.’
Rodriguez slowly shook his head, clearly impressed by the advanced technology.
Matt continued. ‘We can also pinpoint his location via his phone’s inbuilt GPS, whether the GPS is activated in the phone or not. And…’ he said with emphasis. ‘We can even listen to all his calls and read all his text messages in real time, as he sends and receives them.’
‘So that's how we could see the text message Bonaduce received,' Rodriguez said. 'Is that shit even legal?’
Matt smirked. ‘Of course. Tested and approved by a District Judge,’ Matt confirmed. ‘Welcome to the twenty-first century…’
When he arrived back at the Bull Pen, Matt’s frowning eyes scanned the empty room. He checked his watch. It was 5.15pm. The unscheduled trip to the Comms Room caused Matt to work beyond his 4pm finish time. The rest of his team had already left for the day.
With him finishing later than expected Matt decided he would swing by the gym and pick up Alicia on the way home. Her workout would be close to finishing by the time he arrived at the gym.
Matt dismissed the Rookie, collected his possessions and signed off for the day.
It took Matt four laps of the Club Fitness gym parking lot before he came across a vehicle reversing from one of the highly sought after parking spaces. It was after all, peak time at the gym.
How narrow are these parking spaces? He grumbled as he struggled to unfold his six foot eight solid frame from his vehicle- sideways.
Entry to the gym was via a member swipe card. Problem was, Matt kept his gym swipe card in his sports bag. As he was not expecting to work out today, he didn’t have his gym bag with him. Time to improvise.
Matt approached the front desk and casually leaned on his elbows. ‘Hi,’ he smiled to the attractive girl on the front desk. She returned a pleasant smile. ‘I’m just here to pick up wife…’ Matt gestured towards the gym. ‘OK to go through…?’ He asked with raised eyebrows. ‘I won’t be long.’
The reception girl smiled and nodded. She extended a hand towards the gym. ‘Of course…’ she said.
The gym was particularly crowded this evening. Matt made his way to the rows of running machines, which were all occupied by the human equivalent of rats on a running wheel – lots of activity but going nowhere.
After a quick scan of the area he noticed that none of the ‘rats’ was Alicia. He made his way to the weights floor which was heavily crowded with huge muscle men – but still no Alicia.
Matt pirouetted on the spot as he scanned the entire gym floor trying to locate his wife. After rubbing a thoughtful hand across his head he moved to the group training rooms, in case she was in a pump or aerobics class. Still no luck.
He considered that she may have finished her work out and was showering.
Matt returned to the front of the gym and approached a different reception girl seeking her assistance.
‘Can I help you Sir?’ she asked with a pleasant smile.
‘Yes,’ Matt began. He jabbed a thumb towards the gym. ‘I was supposed to pick up my wife here tonight, but I can’t seem to find her. Can you tell me what time she arrived at the gym today. It’s possible she may have already left.’
‘Certainly sir.’ She tapped on her computer keyboard. ‘What is your wife’s name?’
‘Duncan. Alicia Duncan.’
Matt leaned on an elbow monitoring the gym arrivals and departures while he waited.
The helpful receptionist tapped the details into her computer and examined the screen. Her smiling expression turned to a frown as she read her monitor.
‘‘I’m sorry sir…We don’t have Mrs Duncan listed as training with us today,’ she said. She gestured to the screen. ‘It says here that she last trained with us… yesterday.’
Matt frowned. His mouth inverted. ‘Must’ve confused my days or something…’ he said feeling a little perplexed. ‘OK…thanks for that.’ Matt tapped the counter twice and moved to exit the gym into the parking lot.
During the stroll back to his car Matt tried to process what just occurred. After he maneuvered himself into the driver’s seat he revisited the text message he received from Alicia earlier today. He rubbed a confused hand across his chin when he re-read the text message. The text definitely said she was going to the gym after work – tonight.
His stare was blank as he wondered what the hell was going on. Maybe she had to work back and didn’t get time for her gym workout. He started his car. That’ll be it. He reversed from his parking space.
The luxury seaside residence Matt and Alicia call home was excavated into a hillside and constructed over three levels. When viewed from the beach, their home was an imposing triple story seafront residence with a rear balcony across level two. When accessing their home from the street it gave the impression of being a two-story residence.
Their side-access, three vehicle garage was situated at the rear, on the lower ground level. It was accessed by veering to the right from the long driveway and travelling down the sloping drive that extends down the side of the house, towards the rear yard and the beach below.
Once Matt parked his car in the garage he made his way upstairs via the internal staircase. The house was conspicuously quiet. Following a quick search of the downstairs area he moved to the top floor – maybe she was having a shower. But there was no sign of Alicia being home.
Matt rubbed a hand across the back of his neck. His face tightened with concern over where she was.
He retrieved his phone from his pocket and tapped out a text message and sent it to Alicia to find out her location.
Her response was quick. “About 2 mins away”.