The throbbing had me turning all night. No matter how much clove oil I slathered on, it had just kept on pulsing with every heartbeat and, for once in
my life, I was actually looking forward to the appointment with the dentist. Sleepy headed, I was dawdling my way down Yonge Street, really not
noticing the busy morning traffic at all. The weather, for a change, was crisp this January morning, and far in the distance behind me, the CN Tower
was a black needle etched onto a bright baby blue sky. The throbbing had stopped while I walked and the respite from the dull pain elated my
Dr. Wu's office was not far now, once I cut across to Avenue Road and its plethora of dental clinics. Cutting through a little park, I scrutinized
the pleasant old buildings and 50's apartment complexes which the area had. I wished I could afford to live here...but, oh, well.
The steps to the lobby were an odd sandy color brick...worn smooth by a hundred thousand sufferers like myself. I thought of that old line; 'Abandon
hope, all ye who enter here', smiled and opened the door to the office. There were two others already there and I'm thinking about meetings and
deadlines when I walk up to the receptionists desk.
She was all Goth, that young lady; black lipstick and nails, black lace and black wool jacket, lots of eye liner and a pearly white face and neck. The
necklace of garnets and earstuds produced bloody glints on her silver lip and nose rings, but the gloomy spell was broken by her familiar smile as she
"Hello, Mr. Masqua, thank you for coming in early," she chimed, "Doctor Wu will be with you shortly. Please go on into room #2."
My response was a nod. I had been a silent sufferer too long to break my mood yet, and entered the hallway behind the desk. The place reeked of
disinfectants. Dr. Wu certainly insisted on cleanliness. A small serious man, all business and efficiency, he had been my dentist for about my entire
He never smelled of booze and his birdlike hands belied their strength. Just as I was opening the door to #2, a man in a suit came out of #3, followed
shortly afterwards by another suit and Dr. Wu himself. The first man caught me looking and looked down immediately as if he didn't like eye contact.
The second just stared at me sullenly as they passed. Dr. Wu put a hand on my shoulder and gently guided me into the palace of pain where the chrome
and leather monstrosity gleamed in the center of the room flooded by the morning sunlight.
Resigning myself to the procedure, I sat down and he lowered me into that submissive prone position all dentists prefer when they need to apply their
body weight for leverage.
"Well, Henry, is it that molar I've been wanting to do a crown on for some time now?"
"You know," he said as he began 'prepping' me, "One of these days we'll either have to do that crown or you'll lose it. The cavity is large and
today I'm going to make it larger, The amalgum from before has chipped and I'll have to replace that."
He inserted the needle into the gums three times for the freezing. He knew my threshold from past experience and dosed me accordingly.
"We'll give that a moment to work...are you comfortable?
I nodded once again and loosened the 'white knuckle' grip I had on the arm rests. Dr. Wu's face was round and brown and pleasant as he looked into
my eyes. I'd always liked his manner...friendly, empathizing with my nervousness like usual. Some one in whom I had total trust.
But, as he turned away to prepare his instruments, I had caught something in his eyes which was not usual. There seemed to be regret in there
somewhere...like there was a concern in his mind. I knew it had nothing to do with me though. Hell, he must do thousands of similar proceedures every
year. I blew it off.
An hour later I was filling out the forms at the front desk, happy for my dental insurance when I read the bottom line. The little vamp behind the
desk smiled when I shoved the paperwork over. What the hey...I smiled back...a sick little grin no doubt, because my lips were as numb as if someone
had kicked me in the head.
I walked out into that bright frosty morning relieved.
A short ride on the TTC had me back to Yonge and Bloor. I'd walk the rest of the way, since it was so nice, and the University grounds were not all
that far anyways. I was hoping the freezing would subside, because I dearly wanted a coffee before I got to the library. Stopping into a Tim Horton's
got me a small 'double double' and I headed for Queens Park and a bench to drink it after it cooled. I've had experience with dead lips and hot
coffee before and was wiser for it.
Pedestrians strolled by. A woman dressed in a tight black suit strode by, click-clacking, high heels denying winter. A student couple ambled along,
enraptured with each other, mumbling endearances intimately and ignoring the world. And so it went for 20 minutes while I sipped the brew carefully,
my breath visible and redolant with that scent only a 'Timmy' has. 'Toronto,' I thought, 'is a great place to be'. A kid on a skateboard caught
my smile and frowned at me as he rolled by my bench.
The freezing was wearing off and I tapped my cheek to verify the suspicion.
'Yup, definitely, getting there. I tasted blood in my mouth as I set off to the library and the morning's work. The banks of computers would be
filling up with students soon, and I needed to get there. ATS was on my mind now. The groggy morning had been sharpened by the smell of burning teeth
and the scrunching sound of amalgum being applied. I was in my groove now, not wanting to waste another moment.
Before long I entered the silence of the library and was sitting at a monitor, punching my way into the Serpo thread to catch any developments. Good
grief...66 pages already and it seemed like just a few days ago when this had all started. Some interesting details had been put up on the other
website and made it to ATS. I was concentrating on my reading when a woman walked by behind me and coughed. I didn't turn, but it was strange...that
cough. It seemed to be in my head too...like I heard her cough inside my brain. Weird.
I spent an hour catching up and decided it was time to meet Wilkinson for lunch. Hustling into the cafeteria, I saw his head bobbing over a plate of
spaghetti near the windows, a good distance from anyone else. Always a careful man, this old spook never took chances. I took for granted he saw me
come in and waved from the hip...a sort-of special 'spook meets spook' thing we had going. The dull days of training were behind me now, and this
serious grey haired individual had been my first assignment. Deciding against anything more than an egg salad sandwich and a juice, I carried my tray
"Hey, Henry," he said over red stained lips, sizing me up with his watery blue eyes, "How's things?
"Good, Bryan, I've got that toothache fixed up and I'm like, way better for it."
"Ah, good man" he rumbled, bowing once more to roll a forkful of spaghetti around on a spoon. His voice rang in my head. I watched as he pushed that
wad under his little 'stache' and filled his cheeks as he chewed. I was glad he didn't say anything while he chewed. Classy guy...I wouldn't have
relished the sight.
"So...whatcha find out this morning? Anything up on Serpo?" His eyes wandered to my face again and I told him what I'd found out.
"Yeah, that Mark is keeping kinda quiet now, isn't he? I wonder if he's getting close to the email addresses? I figure we've got one out of the
four nailed down to somebody from the old Blue Book thing, but we're no closer to the others. They're slick operators, these guys...old
school...they know how to keep cover. The DIA has five people working this thread alone. You're our only guy, but the CSIS doesn't have the
He threw his utinsels down onto the plate and wiped his mouth with a serviette.
"Look, Henry...you just keep U2Uing anybody you think might have an angle on these guys. Stay off posting directly, but keep on the thread like flies
on cowpatties. Something is gonna give here and timing is everything.
Once we got this leak plugged, we can get back to pushing paper. Right now, the boys down south are getting antsy. They want these names.
I nodded. I seemed to be doing that a lot today. Chewing the last bit of sandwich, I washed it down with a good slug of orange juice and called it
breakfast as I watched Wilkie shuffle out the door in the classic spook way...nobody turned their head to watch him pass. It was like he wasn't
there. Old school.
That voice of his, though...it was weird...like a radio in my head. I'd hear his words through my ears and yet, for some reason, they sounded
electrified, like there was a speaker in my brain. I put it down to the new filling, picked up the trays, plates and cutlery and took them to the
counter like a good little citizen. Trying on Wilkie's shuffle, I took my time. It didn't work. The cute little brunette at the table 3 aisles down
looked at me and...wait a minute...it was Sarah.
Geez, I liked her. It was kind of goofy the way I felt any time we met. She'd be all teeth and eyes and me, all tongue twisted and stupid.
Yup...love. She knew it too. There's no mistaking a woman who has her sights set and I was the most willing target imaginable.
"Hey", I said, feeling my guts turn and my face cheeks crinkling in a grin" how's it going?"
I leaned on the formica table top, careful not to jar things or hover over her salad. 'Careful, Hank,' I thought, 'just ask her and don't be an
idiot'. I looked her in those big brown eyes and worked up the courage.
"So, Sarah, what are you up to tonight?
"Um, nothing much", she replied, sitting back in her chair and obviously waiting for the inevitable. That long wavy dark hair framed her face so
nicely it made me ache. Prim and athletic, she was gorgeous.
"Would you care to...ummm...uh..." stumbling, I was trying to remember the name of that restaurant. She waited patiently, a knowing look crossing
her eyes. "Oh, yeah...you feel like going to Sneaky Dees for a dinner tonight?"
"OK, Henry...what time?
'Geez, that was easy'. I thought about what was left to do and figured early was better than later for getting a table.
How about we meet at the library lobby around 4:30? then we'll catch a cab and go. I'll call ahead and book for 5.
"Sure, that's fine. I'll see you then." She crossed her arms and leaned on the table, looking into his eyes with what was surely pleasure.
I nodded again, smiling, and told her that was great. Walking on air out of the cafeteria, headed back to the monitors and my afternoon of spookiness.
I almost missed the pair of them just turning down the hall. It was the same two guys from Dr. Wu's! What the Hell? Thats just too much of a
coincidence. I followed them, keeping a distance, but they were headed out the front lobby. I watched as they walked up to a black SUV with darkened
windows and about 5 antennas.
More spooks...but who were these guys?
I don't shake of things like this as co-incidence. There's other players on this case and they're onto me. Wilkinson too, no doubt, since I just
had lunch with him. I remembered the daring stare which the taller spook had given me at the dentists'. Creepy. A chill got started in my gut and I
couldn't wait to tell Wilkie. But protocol is everything and cell phones, emails and everything else was a no-go.
I decided to do some cryptic U2U's on ATS and hopefully Bill or Mark will pick it up. The COINTELPRO operation, now 3 years running, was certainly
rich ground for us. Man, we were picking up lots of intel. Some of the international players...China, Germany, Australia to name just a few...were
flocking to the site, sometimes joining at the rate of two or three a day.
I was staring at the boards again and engrossing myself on the wealth of intel. Before I knew it, it was 4 PM and time to tie up the loose ends. Bill
had caught the drift of what I was saying, Mark was off to the hospital to visit and the Brit was nowhere around so I left it to Bill to try and warn
Wilkie and logged off for the day.
The minute I saw her standing by the revolving doors, my mood changed from 'gloomy worried' to 'elated happy' and I took her arm in mine with a
huge #-grin on my putz.
"We'll take a cab", I said, and had my arm up on a yellow cab immediately. T-dot's great for cabs...they're everywhere and the fare is cheap.
Before 20 minutes was up we were walking into the TexMex warmth of Sneaky Dees. Our table was ready...in the back and against the wall where the indie
rock being played had the best effect. I had a rum and coke and she ordered a beer as we scanned the menus.
"You been here before?"
She never looked up, but shook her head.
"Go for the enchiladas, Sarah...the foods really good and you'll never eat it all"
"That sounds just right for a January...is it really spicey?"
"Just tell her how you want it..."
The music was doing strange things in my head again. They were playing an old Alice In Chains tune and the beat was boring a hole in my brain. This is
weird, I thought. I'd heard of fillings picking up radio stations, but this was more like a speaker in head.
Ignoring it, I concentrated on that lovely lady and we had a great visit. The food, the people, the service...it was all good. About 8:30 it was time
to go and we were in a cab headed for her place.
"Do you feel like coming up?" she asked.
Oh, man, did I ever. But things were bothering me and I knew it would ruin the mood if I did.
"Sarah, I'd love to...honest", I wore that on my sleeve, it was so obvious, "but I have some things I need to do yet. I'll call you when I'm
"Sure...here's my number" She scribbled on a notepad from her purse. "If it's not too late, give me a call and we'll have a night cap."
I smiled as she exited the cab and turned to give me a naughty little grin, waggling her fingers at me as she crossed the sidewalk. The cabbie caught
it all, I knew...and his admiring eyes congratulated me through the rear view mirror. Grinning, I gave him Wilkie's address.
I pushed the button three times getting nothing. This was weird. Wilkie always insisted on a daily debrief...there was no way he'd be out. Getting
out my bulky keychain, I found the one he had given me and went in. The elevator door opened on his floor with a whoosh. I was glad to get out of
there...those darkened mirrors and that stupid bell chiming out the floors were getting on my nerves. When I looked into that smoked glass
I opened my mouth wide and, for the first time, actually looked at my new filling. A strange thought crossed my mind then.
What the hell were those spooks doing at Dr. Wu's? And why was that bell chiming inside my head? I looked in my eyes as the weird thought crossed my
mind. Implant? Wu? Spooks? Why are my eyes crossing?
I rushed down the hall, my shuffle forgotten, and was in front of his door in seconds. Key in hand, I tried the knob. It opened.
'This is not good' I thought, and took out my piece.
"Wilkie! You here?
Just a silence. Walking quietly, I went into training mode. Moving slowly, carefully checking every angle and reflection, I worked the place. The
bathroom door was half open, a light on inside and water running somewhere. I stood to one side and pushed the door open.
Wilkie was sprawled on the floor. He'd been shot twice in the chest and once in the forehead. His familiar face held an expression of shock, as if
he'd been surprised while he washed his hands.
I looked around and saw no sign of a struggle. These guys were good. Looking in the mirror, I knew what was going on. I had been made. There was an
implant in my filling. When I talked to Wilkie, he also had been made. I was the patsy and anybody I talked to was now in their sights.
Dumbfounded, I stared in the mirror, wondering if I should dig that freaking thing out right now. I wanted too, but another face swam into my muddled
I was out the door and on the street flagging a cab in seconds. I gave him a $50 bill and Sarah's address. The cabbie caught my look and stepped on
it. He was good, I'll give him that. I was on her sidewalk in no time.
I looked to my left and there was that SUV again.
Once inside I was scanning the mailboxes for her name and number. Luckily, a young Chinese couple were just coming out and I grabbed the door and was
racing up the stairs. Pulling out my piece as I ran down the hall, I heard pop, pop and then another. I was wild and kicked the door open. Two dark
suited men stood over Sarah's body on the floor.
I let out a yell and the guys split. Firing blindly, I wildly let off three rounds, hitting nothing. Then two solid punches caught me in the chest.
The world spun, everything slowed down. I could feel myself falling to the floor and yet I felt nothing. I saw the ceiling rise up from behind me, I
was confused, stunned, and as my eyes slowly lost focus, I saw a dark suited man extend a gun and then, with a flash, my world completely
A dull cottony feeling swept over me. Silence, like a blanket enveloped me as I seemed to float. Looking around I saw my body lying prone below me as
the two agents stepped over me and hurried away. The feeling was extemely pleasant. Light brightened around me, dimming the furniture, walls and tile
floors of the hallway. I felt myself rising.
Then I felt her hand in mine. I looked in her eyes, she looked in mine.
Smiling, she pulled toward her and with relief I pulled her to me and nothing in that world mattered anymore.
This fictional story
is based initially on the 'green pages' dental
but begins to involve itself with the wonderfully active
thread, and even has ties to Skeptic Overlords
. For the latitude I've taken with the Amigos, please believe me that I
consider this a fiction only
, much in the tradition of Dan Brown.