“New moon tonight,” Villa Lobos says before Detectives Blisflix and Smith can sit down in his cramped office.
“We’ve got the routine down,” Blisflix says.
“Routine,” Villa Lobos replies with a shrug. “Do the same thing, expect a different result. That’s your plan?”, he asks Smith.
“We’ll surveille the house on Steiner,” she replies, “but nothing will happen. You know it. I know it,” Smith points at Blisflix. “He knows it. Everybody knows it but the newspapers, and I’m sure not telling them.”
“What do you suggest?”, Villa Lobos asks Smith.
“Get a good night’s sleep,” she replies. “And keep working the girlfriend. She’s in this.”
“Or she knows something, at least,” Blisflix adds.
“She’s the weak link.” Smith says, “Her old flame is a no-show since he attacked her. I’d like to talk to that guy, if we can find him.”
“Anybody working on that?”, Villa Lobos asks. “Besides you, I mean.” Smith shrugs, then shakes her head. “Anything live?”, Villa Lobos asks.
Smith shakes her head again. “Just what Cece is working on, maybe.”
“The intern?”, Villa Lobos asks. “The one who found the hackers?”
Smith nods again. “They just contacted Cece,” she says, “with a message. For us. They say they can get Charlie, or help us get him.”
Villa Lobos waits for more. “So?”, he asks finally.
Smith shrugs. “Their kind of help we don’t need,” she says. “We can’t trust them. We should be trying to arrest them, but nobody even knows who they are.”
“Just tell me they’re off our network,” Villa Lobos says.
Smith looks back at him blankly. “Who knows?”, she says. “I wouldn’t bet on it.” She looks Villa Lobos in the eye. “IT still says they’ve got no evidence of any network breach, so no cases are jeopardized. Which would be fine, except we all know it’s not true. These guys know everything we’re up to, and they brag about it.”
“Are they doing anything besides bragging?”, Villa Lobos asks Smith.
Blisflix jumps in: “We suspect they helped disappear the boyfriend.”
“The one who assaulted the girlfriend,” Smith clarifies. “Mieke, Charlie’s neighbor.”
“Now his girlfriend,” Blisflix says with a half-grin.
Villa Lobos asks, “How do you know he didn’t just take off?”
“We don’t,” Smith replies, “but he didn’t. He brought her flowers that day.”
“Maybe a ruse,” Villa Lobos offers.
“Not this guy,” Smith says. “He was trying to win her back. Then he lost it when she turned him down.”
Blisflix leans forward. “The girlfriend said she was not so nice to him,” he says.
Smith shoots him a look, then turns back to Villa Lobos. “She was scared,” she says. “She didn’t expect to see him outside her employer’s office.” Smith looks back at Blisflix. “So she cussed.” Smith takes a breath and tells Villa Lobos, “Mieke’s ex hasn’t been seen since. His sister in Antioch says he hasn’t left town in 20 years.”
Smith takes another breath and continues: “Charlie was under surveillance at the time of the attack and after. He was nowhere near them.”
Villa Lobos asks Smith, “Charlie is the programmer on Steiner?”
“Right, sorry,” She replies. “Timothy Rist. We got to calling him Charlie.”
Blisflix starts to talk, but Villa Lobos cuts him off. “I know, like the movie.” He looks back at Smith. “You were saying about this ex?”
“The ex,” Smith repeats. “Uh, so the landlady let us into his room, and he didn’t appear to be going anywhere.” She looks over at Blisflix.
“Right,” Blisflix offers. “Toothbrush, razor, all there.”
Villa Lobos shakes his head. “Rock solid,” he says. He looks at Smith expectantly.
Smith clears her throat. “Somebody’s watching,” she says. “Sometimes more than watching. Us, Charlie, his girlfriend, who knows who else.”
“What do we got on these somebodies?”, Villa Lobos asks.
“Cece met two of them. A middle-aged man in a cafe, and a woman at the library. The network guys did a full audit. They still couldn’t find how they got in. Not a trace. Cece says they’re talented.”
“You sure they’re real?”, Villa Lobos asks. Smith nods. Blisflix doesn’t budge. “Now they want to help us catch Charlie?”
“No,” Smith replies. She shifts in her seat. “Not quite,” she says. “They offered to get him for us. That’s what it boils down to. Very nice of them, I think.”
“What’s next?”, Villa Lobos asks.
Smith tilts her head. “We can’t ID them in the flesh,” she says. “So we need to nab them where they live.”
Villa Lobos leans forward in his squeaky chair. “You said our IT guys couldn’t find ‘em even when they knew where to look,” he says.
“Something like that,” Smith replies. “I don’t suppose you’d consider bringing in somebody, you know, an expert.” Villa Lobos just stares. “I didn’t think so,” Smith says under her breath.
“Who knows about these hackers on our network?”, Villa Lobos asks. “Besides us,” he adds.
Smith counts off, “Diane and Andy downstairs, Cece, Charlie. That’s all I know of.”
“We’ve got no proof they even exist,” Villa Lobos says. Smith starts to reply, but Villa Lobos cuts her off. “Watch and wait,” he says. “Keep the intern on it, and on Chuckie.” He turns his back.
Blisflix starts to correct the Lieutenant, but Smith waves him off. “They exist, sir,” she tells Villa Lobos. “But they outgun us big time. I understand staying out of fights we can’t win, but maybe we’re not making full use of the assets available to us.”
Villa Lobos turns around slowly and motions for Smith to get closer. “This is the part I don’t need to hear,” he says in a mock whisper. Smith stands her ground, looking like she’s got more to say to her boss. Blisflix taps her shoulder and motions toward the office’s door.
As she exits Villa Lobos’s office behind Blisflix, Smith lets out a low groan. “Relax,” Blisflix says over his shoulder. “We’re all set.” Blisflix leads Smith into the break room, which is nearly empty.
“How are we set?”, Smith asks as Blisflix pours himself a cup of coffee.
“We’re off the hook,” Blisfix says. “You heard the man: ‘Watch and wait.’ That’s Villa Lobos’s way of saying ‘Drop it.’” He sips his coffee.
“This won’t drop,” Smith says. She stands next to the table where Blisflix has taken a seat. “You can’t just sweep this lump under the rug.”
Blisflix peers into his paper coffee cup. “Okay, let’s hear it,” he says. Smith looks at him. “Your big plan,” Blisflix adds. Smith smirks. “I know you got one,” Blisflix continues. “I’m in this up to my hair plugs, so what’s next?”
“Go see if Cece’s got a plan,” Smith replies.
“That’s all you got?”, Blisflix asks. “The intern?” Smith gives a quick shrug. “Don’t you think it’s time she got on the payroll?”, he adds.
Part 25: Entrance
Part 1: Tim
Part 2: Three's a Problem
Part 3: Ninth Avenue
Part 4: Peru Avenue
Part 5: Toast
Part 6: Mrs. Pellegrini
Part 7: Charlie
Part 8: 2D
Part 9: Smith
Part 10: Cece
Part 11: Quarter Moon
Part 12: Interview
Part 13: Mieke
Part 14: 2D Ex
Part 15: Logs
Part 16: Steiner
Part 17: Number Five
Part 18: Cold
Part 19: Intern
Part 20: Coffee
Part 21: Sloth
Part 22: Tennessee Street
Part 23: Error-correcting Code
Part 24: Villa Lobos
Part 25: Entrance
Part 26: Cloak
Part 27: Meeting
Part 28: Fog
Part 29: Bootle
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