Following a light breakfast in the hotel restaurant and before leaving, I ordered two club sandwiches to be delivered to my room at 1:15 that afternoon, fully expecting Mr. Wenger to arrive promptly at the time we had agreed.
I then left the hotel to spend some additional time roaming the neighborhood, to give housekeeping ample time to complete their work.
While wandering about, I came upon a store that sold art supplies and, due to my interest in art, and needing a few items, I entered, browsed the store, and purchased several new brushes and a few tubes of acrylic paints to supplement those at home.
As I was circling the area and beginning the route back to the hotel, I passed a drugstore and stopped in to purchase a few additional items that I would be needing.
Arriving back at the hotel just after noon, I went immediately to the room and began preparing for Mr. Wenger’s visit, moving the round table to a convenient spot where the two of us could comfortably sit during our meal and attaching the device under the table that would signal if Wenger was sporting some sort of recording device or wire on his person.
Just a couple of minutes past 1 o’clock, a knock at the door suggested that my guest had arrived, or that lunch was being brought early.
Opening the door, I was greeted by a well-dressed gentleman, about 5 feet, 10 inches tall with hair just beginning to show traces of gray. I judged him to be about fifty-five years old. He was stout, but not obese. He carried a gray umbrella in his left hand and a large manila envelope in his right.
“Mr. Tate, I presume,” he smiled as soon as the door was opened.
“Yes indeed. And you are no doubt Mr. Wenger,” I responded.
“Yes. Shall we dispense with formalities and address each other by first names, Michael?”
“Of course. Come on in.”
Wenger passed by me and placed his umbrella upright in a corner by the door as he entered.
“They’re predicting rain today, so I brought the umbrella along. Might as well take them at their word,” he said as he walked on into the room and turned as I closed the door.
“Exactly,” I nodded. “May I take your jacket so you can be more comfortable as we eat? Lunch should be arriving very shortly.”
“Yes, thank you,” he replied, removing his coat and handing it to me to place in the nearby closet.
We both took seats at the table and had just begun to engage in some small talk when another knock came at the door. I arose, opened the door to admit a waitress pushing a serving cart with the ordered club sandwiches. She placed the covered plates on the table along with some drink carafes, waited while I signed the chit, and departed with the serving cart.
“Well,” I began. “I hope this will be a light lunch as you suggested. I didn’t know if you preferred coffee or tea, so I ordered both.”
“Very thoughtful. I think I’ll have the iced tea, no sugar.”
I poured two glasses of iced tea and we began eating, interspersing bites with talk about what had brought us together.
“Michael, this commission I have for you is rather delicate, but your reputation suggests that you are the right person to deal with it. The fellow who is to be your target is an international drug dealer. He runs a cartel in Columbia from this country and that cartel has been instrumental in holding huge numbers of peasants in slavery to the production of cocaine. He also heads up the distribution once the drugs arrive in the States. We believe that, if he can be taken out, there will not be anyone in his organization who is ready to take over and it will take that cartel some time to get reorganized — time during which our government can intervene and destroy what remains of it.
“We don’t know where he lives, but we do have intel which is highly reliable that he will be in Philadelphia in three weeks’ time. I can provide you with some photographs we have of him and where he is likely to be while there so you should have time to make preparations for the job. Are you familiar with Philadelphia at all?”
“No, not really. But three weeks should be sufficient time for me to map out my escape routes and to reconnoiter the best site for making contact.”
“Great!” he beamed. “I have a packet of all the information we think you will need, including the photos here. I’ll leave these with you. If you have questions or need additional information, please call the number listed in the packet. I’ll be available any time you call.”
“Fine,” I said. “I guess the only thing remaining for now is the fee. You understand that my minimum fee is two hundred and fifty thousand, plus expenses and that I’ll need an up-front deposit to my account of a hundred thousand, non-refundable?”
“Of course. Quite reasonable,” he responded without hesitation.
“I’ll arrange for transfer of the initial payment immediately and the final payment will be made immediately after confirmation of successful completion.”
“Naturally,” I said. “I’ve never requested payment for an incomplete job.”
“Yes. As I said, your reputation precedes you.”
“Well,” I injected. “I guess that takes care of the business part. Now, how about that sangria I promised?”
“Sounds fine,” he smiled.