The Dapper Man picked up a penny. He brought it up to eye level, examining it critically. It was smooth, round and shiny. Its surface was unadorned, save for a shiny "1" engraved on the face.
"So, what you're saying is that I collect one hundred of these...", he began.
"...and we can buy access to the next level", came the hurried reply.
The Dapper Man eyed his colleague, doubt riding in his voice. After all, the One-Eyed Cowboy always had an angle in these dealings.
"You know, I've not been playing this game for long, but it seems to...
Once, in Beijing, a young girl in a red gown huddled in a doorway.
Twice, in Singapore, she sat by a fountain.
Three times, in Kuala Lumpur, at three different locations, she waited by Banyan trees.
She was waiting. Always waiting.
She was waiting for me.
She didn't know that I knew that she was waiting for me, but enough money, in the right pockets, can keep me out of trouble. *Has* kept me out of trouble for the past four years. Kept me out of her hands. Out of the hands of the people who wanted to find me....
I looked up from my book. 'Huh?'
'Can I what?'
'No, the country. Kenya.'
'Yeah, okay, in Africa. What about it?'
'We found him there. He's working in an aid camp for Somalian refugees.'
'You know who I'm talking about.'
I put the book down, forgetting it. 'How certain are you of this? There can be absolutely no mistake, understand?'
'Positive identification. No question.'
'Anecdotal or visual? We need to be sure.'
'Oh, absolutely visual. A low flying drone picked him up leaving a market. He had a couple of bags of veggies and a rack...