Protocol Six: Episode Ten
by Alan Augustson
20 March 2017

As the crowd was streaming from the theater, most of them grinning and laughing and chattering loudly, David was already pacing beside Michael’s car. He was scanning in all directions, though he had no idea for what.

He took out the phone Lorelei had given him. He debated calling her, but hadn’t even worked out the questions to ask. Seeing Michael’s face among the crowd, he hastily put the phone on silent and tucked it away again. It wasn’t that David distrusted him; he was simply bewildered, paranoid thoughts streaming past like railway cars at a crossing and he couldn’t process it all.

Michael was beaming as he approached. “Huh? Huh? What did I tell you? Listen, there’s gonna be an after-party at the Tap–”

“Michael, Lorelei turned up during the show.”

His friend’s disposition screeched to a halt. “Jesus.”

“She said something to the effect that ‘if I wanted to harm you, I’d have done it already’. Also said not to trust the Feds…?”

Michael nodded and took a breath. “Okay, no panicking. We need to be someplace safe and public. We’ll do the party, then we’ll see if we crash at someone else’s place. Figure out some excuse. Then we reassess in the morning.”

His eye was caught then, by something behind David, who turned sharply to see. A man and a woman, both in suits, were walking towards them. David pegged them for Lorelei’s ‘feds’ instantly; they couldn’t have been much more archetypal if they’d been wearing sunglasses indoors. They presented Secret Service badges, and the man addressed him.

“Dr. Solomon?”

David didn’t answer.

“Yes… ah, sir, I’m Assistant Director Roger LeMoyne, Treasury Department, U.S. Secret Service. This is Special Agent Rebecca Diaz.”

Diaz nodded with a half-smile. David noted that she was attractive, and noted even more that she took great care not to be ostensibly so. Professional, he thought.

LeMoyne continued. “Sir, why did you leave the police station earlier?”

“Because we had other things to do, and because no one appeared to know what was going on.”

Michael waved a hand. “Hello? There were two burglaries, and mine was the only place that got overturned.”

“Mr. Downs?”

Michael nodded, smiling but clearly unamused.

The agents appeared to breathe a sigh of relief. “Well, thank-goodness is all I can say,” said LeMoyne. “This could have taken a lot longer if we had to look you up separately.”

“So there is a relationship?” offered David.

“We think so. And, since the letter you provided was mailed from out-of-state, and since there is reason to be concerned for your safety, this becomes a Federal case.”

“And what about Mr. Downs’s safety?” interjected Michael with another deathly rictus of a grin.

LeMoyne’s apologetic look seemed sincere enough to impress the actor. “I understand, sir; and I assure you we’re every bit as concerned. Truth is, for the immediate future, the further from Dr. Solomon you are, the safer you’re likely to be.”

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Social scientist, public policy analyst, emergency management consultant and author. U.S. Marine Corps veteran and former firefighter. Former candidate for U.S. Congress.

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