This arti­cle is part 6 of 7 in the series The Cincinnati Favor

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.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.

Series Navigation« Michael Tate: Book 1, Chapter 4Michael Tate: Book 1, Chapter 6 »