The Mark

by J D Collins/JF Clennan 1998 All Rights Reserved

Military Police Blotter was published by the legendary Bill Loepkey's Inditer Dot Com of Canada.

Against advancing illness and frustration which the legal system imposed, Bill Loepkey promoted literature and culture on the internet. It is no small recognition that his countrymen have hono[u]red Bill in their Bibliotek Nationale.

I am part of the shadows, the back ground. You might have met me...I could have been anyone: a drunk in a bar, a parking lot attendant, a handyman wielding a broom...you may not have noticed, but I was watching.

Slowly swaying from side to side on the bar stool in a raunchy red neck dive near a military post, I could have been a business traveler marooned into this purgatory by a wrong turn off the expressway. On my right, I watched SA Flanagan, my stubby legged partner wrap an arm around the mark reassuringly. "Then it's a deal. I get the tank parts...you deliver."

SA Flanagan wiping the sweat off his balding top, not me, was the main attraction on this set. I was only the back up, ready to jump in for the undercover. I see myself more of a back drop than a back up. I'd create a distraction before I came charging....

Our mark, a slender chestnut haired boy of 19, had a bearing of utter self-confidence. And why shouldn't he? He had successfully assisted the local office of Criminal Investigations make many more drug cases than our special branch deemed them capable of. Yet ...

Recoiling from Flanagan's embrace, the chestnut brown haired mark turned to me suspiciously. I presented an imitation glassy eye to the arrogant teenager.

I caught the glimmer in Flanagan's eyes. How he enjoyed stardom in undercover stings, not with the exaggeration of a hamish second rater but with the utter prescience of a consummate actor. When we planned these sets together, Flanagan remarked, "You can afford to be precise. I have to move on feeling."

"Just a drunk," Flanagan assured the mark, "a way-laid traveler who made the wrong turn off the road to no-where." Turning away to toy with change, I suppressed a chuckle at the sickening sweetness in Flanagan's syrupy lexicon.

While Flanagan said it right: I was only stage setting, a curio not to be noticed, I knew everything about the mark or tried to. I had read every report on every adventure the mark had undertaken as an informant, I knew every risk he had taken for us and I knew why we were out to get him, if we could. And yet, there was something missing.

Watching me pour over mounds of reports for that hidden detail, Flanagan dismissed my efforts , "Trite personal asides and anecdotes! How well do I need to know someone I intended to destroy!"

When the mark turned away, my eyes riveted on him so hard they would have burnt a hole in his back.

My reports told that the mark had detailed information about drug trafficking in the military camp town and yet to date, only the sheer number of cases justified our suspicions. We wanted to catch the mark in some mischief so that we had the lever to grill him.

Later in the trailer, we used as our command post, Flanagan rode a high, like an action coming off the stage: "I'll take the sucker on the spot and surprise him with treachery and betrayal..."

"Patience...," I cautioned, " I'm waiting for a couple of reports you may want to grill him with..."

I hesitated not out of fear. I had been told of an incident where the mark had escaped with his life and the seller from a bungled buy. Although the buyer had been arrested afterwards, nothing had been done to find the seller. That mismashed operation was our key in an interrogation.

Ignoring me, Flanagan continued, "Suprised...Betrayed...Terrorified...I'll have some MPs pick the mark up in the middle of the night and bring him here to me."

"Wait a couple of days." I gritted my teeth, "You can still take him off guard and still capitalize on fear and terror."

Time is what I needed to get and plod through that missing report. Actors who feed on the sensation of the moments give no such allowance.

"Why delay?" Flanagan roared before hesitating pensively. His blue eyes burned enraged. "Now, we go ahead."

"At least," I temporized, " do the interrogation at the CID office. We might want to use this trailer again." Maybe before hand, I could talk Flanagan the actor down from the exhilaration of his performance into a sensible delay.

After the arrest, I made Flanagan bathe and change into the predictable CID garb: blue suit, white shirt and tie, before going to the interrogation. "Look sharp--the mark will never expect it."

"I don't need you now," Flanagan muttered, "take the rest of the night off."

As I watched Flanagan steal off into starlight darkness, I knew no rest, only a wait for word that never came.

At mid-morning, I shuffled off to our post office box we used for official mail. A plain manila envelope, carried the report I had anxiously awaited. As I scanned it, I took note of the many details we could make the informant explain. "Better yet, we could threaten to put the report into his prison file and let the bad guys work justice."

I raced to the on post CID office, flashed my tin at a disinterested receptionist who pointed me to the interrogation room where on a plain grey army chair, Flanagan sat alone and dejected.

"A written statement," Flanagan crackled the paper worthless in the air -- A mixed bag of damaging asides, explanations and exculpations -- and a half assed defense.

"No confession?" I asked holding the manila envelope against my trouser leg.

"Right."


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