Monday, April 20, 2009

Pogonip Lives!

Not really. He's a fictional character in a novel I'm not writing.

But, this morning, I can't leave him hanging in the lobby of the Austin Four Seasons, looking across the table with the elaborate flower display at a distressed Jilly while an agent of the U.S. Government flashes a badge at him. I have to get that over with. It's not a thriller damn it.

But should it be FBI? Or Homeland Security? Oh. Well.

Inside the small business office downstairs from the lobby, Pogonip sat in chair. The agent who had brought him down and several other suits were crowded into the room.

"We'll be brief, sir. We know you knew the victims from Austin of this attack. We wonder if you know what they were doing in Berlin at this site."

Cliff wondered how best to put it. He paused and then said as confidently as he could. "Yes and no."

"What's that supposed to mean?" said another officer impatiently. The first guy held up his hand. He said, "Go on."

"Well, we were playing a travel game I set up for the guys. I gave them a hint that was supposed to take them to Paris, but I understand why they went off to Berlin. But as far as being at the Memorial...I guess they were just being tourists."

"Do you know why Carter Evans' wife was not with them?"

"I spoke with her. She was shopping. They went to look for clues and she didn't go."

"You said they were being tourists!" This was the aggressive guy again.

"Well," Clint continued, "My guess is that they went to the Reichstag and didn't find a clue and this memorial is nearby. I don't think they'd seen it. So...." He trailed off and the aggressive agent fidgeted.

Sputtering, the aggressive guy said, "They hadn't been there before?"

Clint looked at him. "Not that I know of. I think they were last in Berlin in 2002. I was with them. It wasn't built or not completed."

"You know a lot about it!" the menacing guy said, leaning toward him.

"Not really." He stopped. He thought to himself that he'd read about it when it was dedicated, thought of making a trip to Berlin. Why hadn't he done it?

The calmer suit said, "So you think it was the first time they were there? You think they were just accidentally there?"


"Well," the calmer guy continued, "Do you think they might have taken pictures there or even uploaded pictures before the explosions?"

Clint had not thought of this. But, of course, they might have. They had iPhones and cameras and they were constantly making updates to track their progress or lack there of on the silly quest. It all seemed quite frivolous now and he hated talking about it.

"Can't you get the records? Did you find cameras or phones or the memory cards?" Pogonip wanted to flip around to the computer in the room and start looking on the WEB. But he didn't even look toward the machine, put there for hotel guests he imagined.

They didn't seem inclined to answer. Clint took a small leather notebook from his pocket. He fetched out a card, flipped it over and wrote a URL and two twitter names on it.

"If anything got posted, this should help you find it. I haven't looked. I didn't even think of looking. Didn't Sally and Stuart give you this?" He was referring to the wife of Carter and the girlfriend of David. He got no answer.

The agent who seemed about to boil over twitched. And then said, "Did your friends have anti-Semitic leanings? Had they talked about, even casually, possible attacks?" He was almost shouting.

Clint and all the other suits stared at him.

"No. And no." Clint said. He didn't know if he should say that David was, in fact, Jewish. That his great-grandfather had perished in the Holocaust. He wished he had offered it as an explanation for the visit. "Just tourists?" he thought. "Crap." Too late now. Now it was an apology. And, of course, it wasn't like a quest for that was in David's mind. He would have had no idea where the adventure would take him and as far as Clint knew he hadn't focused on his family's history a lot.

"We might be in touch. Where are you staying? Here?" concluded the calm agent.

"No," Clint said as the other agent looked angry. "You have my phone number, I think."

"Where will you be staying?" the calmer one asked, less gently.

"The address is the Austin one on that card." Clint said. The agent flipped it, stared at the London, New York and Austin addresses.

Oddly, this concluded his business with the FBI, Homeland Security and all officials about the incident. He would never hear from any of them again and was not in fact sure who was represented in that room. Only the FBI guy in the lobby had shown a badge. Given what he found on the WEB, maybe it was not so odd that this ended the brush with authorities.

Clint walked out and started toward the stairs but the maitre-d stopped him. "Your friends are in the cafe," he said.

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