Protocol Six: Episode Thirteen
by Alan Augustson
03 April 2017

Diaz’s hair, freed from its business bun, was a thick, black waterfall over her shoulders. She shuffled the cards like a veteran card shark and dealt five.

“Simple five-card draw, no training wheels,” she said around the cigar in her mouth. She also had an old-fashioned glass at her place at the table — it was ginger ale, but the picture was complete at least. Even more so, for having accumulated the greater portion of the chips.

“Training wheels?” said LeMoyne with a half-smile.

“Wild cards, sir. They’re for wimps. Ante’s five.”

David grinned and tossed in a red chip, looking over his cards. LeMoyne was tired, and a bit less amused.

“Dr. Solomon–”

“Just David, please,” he said, cutting LeMoyne off. “All these extra syllables are getting very tiresome.”

“As you wish,” LeMoyne conceded. “David, what are you trying to accomplish here?”

David smirked. “Cost you a red chip to find out.”

“No, sir, what is it you want from us? Right this moment?”

“I could ask you the same,” David leveled his eyes at him. “In fact, I have done. Several times.”

LeMoyne permitted his face a hint of exasperation. “Sir, as I’ve said, we’re here for your protection. We have no personal stake of any kind in this case.”

David’s response was just a pair of raised eyebrows, and LeMoyne knew he was getting nowhere.

Diaz yawned and stretched. “Fold. I need a break.”

She stood and walked away a bit in her stocking feet. LeMoyne threw his cards in without the formalities, and rubbed his eyes.

“David,” Diaz offered, sensing the impasse, “I think what… Roger… is trying to say, is that we don’t yet have the information you want. The letters you received had kept up for quite some time without any incident, but the break-ins tell us that something has escalated. All we can say is that you’re not suspected of anything.”

David was unimpressed. “Yet you felt you needed to bug my room. You’re watching me, instead of watching whomever you claim may be after me. And I will find out why.”

He showed his hand — full house — and smiled as if the cards were supporting his argument. Then a knock at the door startled Diaz.

“Who the–”

“Easy,” David waved her off. “That’ll be the pizzas.”

LeMoyne was annoyed. “David… did you make an external call for those? We did ask you not to.”

David winked and headed for the door. “Oh, lighten up. You’ll love this place; best pizza in town.”

He answered the door. Lorelei stood waiting, with a stack of pizzas and an annoyed expression.

“This is not funny.”

Then she noticed the agents in the room.

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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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