The days pass, the weather in New York remaining rather poor. Snow, sleet, oh the joys of January. Still, your work at the Review keeps you busy and the membership is growing steadily as more concerned citizens join the cause. The information is quietly dumped to disk and shipped off to Ms Malcolm…
Finally, the phone call comes. A voice at the other end apologises for the delay in contacting you. It seems that Forthright Data Services have had a visitation from a group of FBI agents sniffing around Dr Glasser’s notes.
“But they won’t get anything – we had to give them the tapes, but they still need the decryption key, and only a select few know that. But we wanted to make sure they were not following up on their little visit. If they do, we may have to take steps. But, anyway, its time for the seminar. Please report to the American Airlines desk at JFK tomorrow at ten aye-em and ask for your tickets. More instructions will be available then. Pack for warm weather.”
The phone goes dead, and you get packing.
JFK is its usual busy self. Oddly comforting as the world goes about its business, oblivious to the snakes that move through the currents of everyday life, just under the surface. You present yourself at the airline desk and the young lady presents you with an envelope. Tickets to Chicago.
“Not exactly warm,” you grumble to yourself.
The flight is uneventful, and half-empty. At Chicago you are met off the flight by a smart young airline representative who verifies your identity and hands you a second package. You slit the paper open and discover that you have less than ten minutes to make a flight to New Orleans. You jog through the terminal and make the last boarding call, barely.
After another uneventful flight, you step out into the Louisiana warmth. Even in January, the temperature is sultry. A uniformed Chauffeur meets you at the gate and asks for identification. Satisfied, he guides you to a car and you drive off. To your surprise, the driver points his car south and the delights of Cajun cooking rapidly fade in the rear view mirror. The driver politely deflects your questions, and you settle back to watch the scenery fly past. Open land gives way to scrub and marsh, followed by taller trees, thicker together. Dank water occasionally breaks up the wall of trees. Louisiana bayou at its thickest. After perhaps an hour, you bump onto a single track road that lead down to a solid looking gateway. The guard on the gate glances at you and your driver and then raises the barrier. You think that, in the dusky light, you can make out a second figure in the gatehouse, probably armed.
The grounds are neatly manicured and you drive up to a rather fine colonial building, where you are greeted by a butler built on the “brick outhouse” model. He shows you up to a well-appointed room on the second floor, very nicely laid out. A large bed and wardrobe attracts your attention, and you think that the writing table is probably original and rather valuable.
“The other guests are here, Captain Taylor. Mr Jaeger asks that you present yourself in the drawing room at seven thirty for eight.”