Chapter 8

Brian found the cafe he was looking for. He was now 20 minutes late for a meeting. He had texted the guy 15 minutes ago, asking him to stick around. With the money he was going to pay this guy, he should have an incentive to be a little patient. “He’s kind of an ass though,” Brian thought as he entered the cafe.

He saw a man sipping coffee, wearing a brown fedora and reading the New York Post. The cafe was bustling and there was sufficient crowd noise for a semi-private conversation. He approached the man and asked, “Can I buy your next coffee?”

The man looked up from his paper, smiled a bit and said, “Sure, in a bit” in a very curt, whiny tone that was even more annoying in person. “Why don’t you have a seat first?”

This was their prearranged greeting since they had never met face-to-face. Brian sat across from him and looked around a bit.

“Don’t look around too much,” the man said, “you’re conspicuous enough in that shirt and matching hat. I thought you might be more business, than tourist.”

Brian laughed a bit and replied, “Tourist? Yeah, sorry about that. I lost my shirt in a little accident in midtown. I had to improvise quickly, so I wouldn’t keep you waiting any longer than I had to.”

“Well, if you’ve lost your shirt, are you still able to afford my package?” asked the man looking deeply into Brian’s eyes.

“Oh yes, don’t worry about that. Of course, you still haven’t given me your price,” said Brian.

“You haven’t told me your plan either,” said the man. “It’s one thing to sell you a package like this if you’re going to use it for some nefarious purpose, and another if you’re just an enterprising entrepreneur looking to change the world but needs a bit of help avoiding nuclear regulations and other red tape.”

“Well, it’s neither of those, but more like the latter,” replied Brian. “No one will get hurt through my application of this device, except maybe myself. Also, I want to confirm with you,” Brian paused a bit as he stared back into the man’s eyes, “no one got hurt when you acquired the device — right?” He tilted his head for dramatic effect.

The man sat back a little but maintained the stare. “I can make no guarantee, but there was no mention of it from my sources. The device you seek was extracted from the location you suggested and will be in transit soon.”

“Okay,” said Brian, “so what is your price?”

“You’ve been a very pleasant customer, sir, therefore I’m asking only 1.3 mil for this little package,” said the man, now smiling again.

“Wow, so generous. My expectation was about a mil,” said Brian looking down at the table for a moment. He knew this was probably non-negotiable. “But I can probably come up with the rest.”

The man leaned in and said, “And I prefer it wired to two specific accounts, in the following amounts.”

Brian interrupted, “Actually, I prefer to pay you cash. I don’t want any electronic fingerprints, nor do I have the means to easily convert my cash to electronic funds.”

The man looked at Brian for a few moments. “Okay, fortunately, my team is fairly local and so cash may not be an issue.”

“Cool. I find it usually works,” said Brian. “It will take me a day or so to get the funds together. I’ll text you when I’m ready to meet. Let’s make the exchange at the deli restaurant at this address.” Brian slid the man a card.

The man looked at the card. “I know this place. It should be fine. You may want to dress up a bit,” he said with a smile. Bring the funds in a brown attache and I will do the same with the device. It will be big, and heavy, but you look like you can manage.”

“Yes,” said Brian, “I work out regularly. Look for my text in a day or so.”

“Yes, I will,” said the man. “I think I’ll take a raincheck on that cup of coffee.”

“You got it,” replied Brain. “Thanks. Text you soon.”

Brian got up, turned and slowly walked out. As he left, he thought, “Now I gotta get that cash.”

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