The Meeting: Part One
It was the fifth time in one hour that Juarez had driven past the well-lit maroon exterior of the Barrhead Pub and Grill. Getting the lay of the land was an integral part of his reconnaissance. He pulled the car over and placed it in park. Through his open window he snapped pictures of the vehicles in the lot with his cellphone. A few minutes later he turned onto Main Street and drove a short distance before he parked and turned off the ignition. He still had a half hour before his meeting with Carmella.
The evening sky was clear and there was a slight bite to the air. He glanced at his watch. It was 6:45. The high beams from an approaching vehicle caused him to glance away. When the car passed, he peered into his rear-view mirror and watched it turn onto West Back Line. Two vehicles followed closely behind but only one turned while the other parked opposite the road. Perhaps she’s arranged for backup should the meeting go sideways? He had decided to leave his Glock in the glove compartment in case he was frisked. His meeting had to have no hitches if he hoped to infiltrate The Phoenix Rises.
He was sure there was a mole inside the RCMP working for TPR. That was one of the reasons he was in Sunnyvale, to uncover that link and shut it down. Two years ago, an ongoing investigation of the Urquiza drug bust, led to an offshoot FBI probe into the activities of Vincent Cabrera-Bello who had links to several white supremacy groups including TPR. Cabrera-Bello, who was now serving a prison sentence, facilitated the flow of drugs worldwide by supplying high-level traffickers with encrypted communication devices. During an FBI search of the devices it was discovered that an RCMP employee had attempted to sell Cabrera-Bello information. Beyond that, no one knew the employee’s identity.
Juarez was wary of the civilianization of the force. Though it brought in new talent with diverse skills and perspectives, the process was also fraught with risk. He sighed. Access to information gathered at the National Intelligence Coordinating Centre would be a juicy prize for TPR. He turned the ignition and glanced into the side mirror. Having their grubby hands on up-to-date information on domestic police, RCMP liaison officers and analysts abroad, and our international partners would be—catastrophic. He made a U-turn and drove to the Barrhead Pub and Grill.
Music filled the evening air, its strong base and driving rhythm like waves filling holes in the sand. The sound rushed at him from the trio—drummer, base guitarist and singer with electric guitar—and left him deft to the door sucking tight against weather stripping when it slapped closed behind him. The elevated spirit from the trio hung heavy in the room, some patrons reacted to the beat while others, appearing untouched by the music, attempted to converse. The situation necessitated Juarez be circumspect and he scanned the room for potential trouble spots. When he came up empty-handed, he manoeuvred between tables to the bar.
The twelve drafts on tap consisted of several local brands. He ordered a pint of Maclean dark ale then casually leaned against the bar while his eyes searched for Carmella. Posters of Sleeman Honey Brown Ale, Formosa, Algonquin Ale an...