The suits flash their badges and rudely brush past Christian and into his apartment.
The male is probably close to retirement and only distinguished by his general dishevelment. For Agent Wang, working for the FBI for over thirty years has devolved into a boring routine. He hates leaving the office, except to leave and to go home. He knows how to “get by,” how to complete paperwork and appear to be engrossed by enough busywork to satisfy his superiors. Years ago Wang adopted a mental checklist in order to fill out reports in less than five minutes. In fact, most if not all of his cases, if read at all, would contain identical information about suspects and/or criminal activity. Agent Wang, a sadist, was forced to temper his suppressed monster in order to keep his job and retirement benefits.
Wang gradually became aware that his career was stagnating, that lesser educated and experienced agents were promoted while he remained at the same desk, the same pay grade, with the same responsibilities. Sure there was a time in Wang’s past when he dreamed of accolades and promotions. Aside from being Asian, little else supported his desire for success because of his penchant for brutality and his overall sloppy performance. After numerous incidents, the brass decided not to fire Wang and risk yet another expensive lawsuit only because of his years of service. Quitting had never occurred to Wang. Today Wang is the oldest, most seasoned, junior-ranked agent in the LA Bureau Office.
After thirty years of service, Wang woke-up and realized that he was too close to retirement to jeopardize what remained of his inglorious and frustrated career. Wang, when he was first hired, had once imagined living a life filled with danger and intrigue. Older and wiser, he realized that he had nothing to gain from putting his life in danger - not for God, Buddha, or country. Wang’s solitary motivation was his profound desire to retire with his full pension and benefits.
Wang, hands shoved deeply into the pockets of his wrinkled coat, scowls at Christian. Christian takes a few measured steps away from Wang and his scrawny, unfortunately ugly, female partner. Christian focuses his attention on Wang’s eyes, waiting for him to unleash a firestorm. Christian chuckles, remembering exactly why Wang harbored an unexpressed reason to kill him, slowly.
What a hoot! Christian filed and won a major lawsuit against the FBI and Wang as a co-defendant because Wang, before survival conversion, purposefully left Christian in an untended cell for almost a week without food or water. Christian walked away a wealthy man. Wang was blackballed and almost lost his job and his pension.
“So, why are two of America’s finest paying me
The female agent blocks the door as if she is glued to the floor. Wang scowls as he looks around Christian’s apartment.
“ You live in this dump, kid? Guess your hacking skills
and the cash from your lawsuit didn’t help you
to survive the meltdown, eh? I could have sworn
you were one of the nation’s brightest?”
Christian is unfazed by Wang’s off-handed insult. Christian smiles and plops down on the floor. Christian recognizes and knows exactly how to avoid the causal cruelties of others.
“Wouldn’t assume I’m out of the game based on
where I live old friend.”
Christian smiles and pauses long enough to fully engage Wang’s attention.
“Maybe I was assigned another ‘secret mission’?
Who knows, maybe the big guys upstairs forgot
to keep you in the loop? An honest mistake,
perhaps, at least you might think so?”
Tensions rise. The room is deadly silent. Professionally stung, Wang’s eyes flash with anger. Jovially, Christian continues.
“Hey! Don’t hate the messenger, man. I mean,
you of all people should know how valuable an
IT Consultant with my skills is to the Nation,
Christian words hit home. A nerve visibly twitches in Wang’s face.
“Hey, Wang. Relax buddy. I’m just fucking with
you. You can take a joke, right? Besides, your visit
kind of cheers me up, makes me all misty eyed.
Proves I’m still a player, right!
Wang understands all too well the very fine line that he must walk when dealing with Christian Beauvoir. Christian is the best security hacker in the goddamn universe and he is well versed about prevailing laws.
Wang knows intuitively that the reason for his visit has the potential to devastate Christian. Wang hopes the news will send this valuable government asset off the deep end. Wang smells the opportunity to fulfill his craven need for revenge. The agent pretends to be lost in thought and mutters aloud in Mandarin.
“Hell, I’m due a little fun especially after dicking
around with this genius.”
Wang begins to orchestrate a deadly game of emotional pong where Christian implodes and must be shot, maybe killed, by his twitchy new partner.
Wang turns his attention to his partner, an aggressive man-chick, newly minted, and just itching to exercise her assumed power. Wang knew she hated men; hell, this chick hated everybody. But she especially hated men like Christian.
Wang also knew that this chick wants Christian in the worst way because in her stunted emotional world, Christian is a stud; a walking, breathing chick fantasy. Lilith is completely mesmerized by Christian. The girl is close to salivating.
Christian, on the other hand, is completely unaware that the female agent can’t keep her eyes off of him. Her eyes roam his frame from top to bottom and then back again, caught in an endless continuum of searching for that special magic key that will release the genie in the box.
Christian is busy trying to intuit what is running through Wang’s twisted psyche. Lilith has not registered a blip on Christian’s radar. Although Lilith is painfully aware of Christian’s complete disinterest, she is also pleased that his non-attention allows her to openly and scandalously inspect every part of his body.
A smile creases Wang’s craggy, wrinkled face as it dawns on him that the unwanted, out of office assignment, could in fact turn out to be extremely fortuitous, especially if things heat-up and go south for Christian.
“So, you got anything decent to drink
in this dump?”
Christian shrugs and shakes his head no. The female stiffens, glares at Christian and noisily cracks the bones in her neck and unsnaps her hip holster.
Lilith is unusually tall for a woman. Lilith is cursed with unusually long arms and her limbs are visibly out of proportion to the rest of her body. Her thin, angular body ensures any sexual encounter will be tortuous. Sadly, the love-starved agent resembles a raptor dressed-up in an expensive suit.
Although Christian had dated and bedded unattractive women in the past, each of them were wholly unaffected by society’s beauty standards and each woman radiated confidence, intelligence and an undercurrent of sensuality that was both intriguing and sexually exciting.
Lilith Stone did not possess any of those attributes. The angry, frustrated woman was at best a parody of femininity. Her mouse-brown hair hung limply over her too large liquid, brown eyes. The thought of seeing this woman naked sent a shiver up Christian’s spine and gifted him with an immediate cold shower innie.
Lilith overcompensates for her unattractiveness by being cold and unsympathetic. Although thinly awkward, the woman radiates deadly violence. Anger is her constant companion and her only friend. Violently over-confident and lacking experience, Lilith is a danger to herself, Christian and Agent Wang.
Wang is practically salivating at the possibilities unfolding right before his eyes. The little lady’s eyes were inflamed and she was shaking with fury.
“Hey, you! Just give me a reason to
shoot you where you stand!”
Christian cocks his head to one side, amused, and casually regards this amped-up joke of authority. He almost laughs out loud. Christian’s disrespect telegraphs through the air like a pungent, silent fart. Furious, Agent Stone rips her service revolver from the holster with shaky hands and flips off the safety. Wang clears his throat, raises his hand and wags a cautionary finger to signal the younger agent that she is out of line.
“Christian. This is a just friendly visit.
Christian’s senses are on high alert for two reasons. The first reason is Wang’s jocular use of the phrase “trust me” which in LA always translates into “fuck you.” And the second reason is his misjudgment of Agent Stone’s lethal response. Uneasy and slightly taken aback, Christian recoils from the eminent danger until Agent Stone re-clicks the safety and returns her weapon to her holster. Relieved, Christian relaxes and refocuses his attention on the real danger, Agent Wang.
“I thought you’d retired.”
Christian casually throws his sweatshirt onto a nearby chair. Lilith wrinkles her nose and frowns and steps away from the chair in disgust. Wang ambles across the open space like an old walrus, sits and makes himself comfortable in an expensive leather recliner. After settling in he turns his head towards Christian.
“So, how’s life treating you?”
Christian understands that this is just small talk, Wang’s prelude to a symphony of discomfort. Their special “relationship” spanned a decade. Their initial, unplanned meeting took place when Christian was preparing for his doctoral thesis in Computer Science. Christian excelled in hacking forbidden internet sites. While most of his peers played chess for intellectual stimulation, Christian hacked into the mainframes of some of the most “secure” corporations in the nation, just for a giggle. Christian’s minor nefarious nature was encouraged by the soon to be Dr. Maura Dolan, psychiatrist. Maura thrived on adrenaline and risk. In Maura’s world, the more dangerous the risk, the more exciting life could be. Risk fueled Maura’s ego and her libido.
While preparing for his dissertation, to blow-off steam, Christian created a computer worm and infected the computers at Nasdaq, several top, major league investment firms, as well as the US Treasury. Christian’s worm caused major disruptions in all those systems. The worm deleted key files from the host systems and then relayed files to a “zombie” system under Christian’s control.
As planned, the systems mimicked economic havoc for the targets. Christian equivocated, became a victim of his moral upbringing, and quickly turned himself into the local FBI. Christian’s days of fun and games, hacking, were drawing neigh. Under his perverse need to play the ultimate computer game he was actually only intent on alerting the government and the investment firms to their inherent vulnerabilities.
Instead of receiving a commendation or even a “Thank You” Christian was arrested and faced indictment as an economic terrorist. A somewhat astute government official soon realized that Christian was the only person who could retrieve and restore the data to the affected systems. More importantly, Christian was the only person who could protect those systems from future hackers.
A few weeks after his release, Christian graduated from college, married the woman of his dreams, Maura, and began a promising and rewarding career as an IT Consultant.
As a highly compensated consultant and as a condition of his immunity, every one of Christian’s clients and their contracts were scrutinized by government wonks. Christian worked hard, became rich, and in the process, lost his wife. Maura wanted more than economic security; Maura needed the thrill of walking on the edge of a cliff
Christian lost the need for adrenaline rushes. When Christian lost the need and the desire to take unnecessary risks, he also lost the key component of his relationship with Maura.