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Chapter 2

The Omega Club

Michael L. Piazza

Matt looked out the window and saw Agent Greg Newmon pulling into the driveway to pick him up at 8:30 am as usual. Jenny was asleep in Sandy’s arms, so Matt gave both of them a soft hug and kiss, then grabbed his coat and quietly walked out the front door.

“So how was the wedding yesterday?” Greg asked as Matt got in the vehicle.

“Short but sweet, looks like our beloved Marshall Payton is no longer the aloof lone ranger he’s been.”

“Well,” Greg smiled, “I wouldn’t go that far. Maybe he’s no longer a bachelor, but I don’t see that changing him from being a lone ranger.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right about that,” Matt responded, smiling, “but take it from experience, his life changed yesterday the moment he said ‘I do.’ He can think he’s solely in charge of himself, but not anymore!”

Since so few active staff still remain on the Task Force, no effort is made to keep the office stocked with refreshments, coffee or the like. It's become Matt’s and Greg’s routine to stop by a convenience store on the way to the office to grab what they may need for the day. As they pulled into the parking lot of the gas station/store, the alarm tone on Matt’s phone sounded.

“It’s Kendra,” he said, looking at the screen. “This is Matthew.”

“Good morning,” Kendra said with a slight hoarseness to her voice, “I figure you and Greg are on your way in to the office.”

“Yep, just turned into a gas station on High Street.”

“Am I on speaker, or just your phone?”

“Just mine,” Matt answered.

“Then put me on speaker, if you don’t mind.”

“Sure thing,” Matt responded, punching the icon on his phone, “you’re on speaker now. Are you okay, you sound a little hoarse or something?”

“I’m fine,” Kendra said, her voice now coming over the vehicle’s speaker system, “just a little sinus thing this morning. Must be that the weather is about to change. Look, Matthew, I decided last night that you should go ahead with the meeting with Jack Leonard, if you’re still good  with it.”

“Sure, no problem,” Matt said, looking at the speaker in the dash, then at Greg, “just let me know when and I’ll do it.”

“It’s tentatively set for ten o’clock,” Kendra responded, clearing her throat. “Greg, I’ve extended your protocol credentials at the hospital until the close of business today. After that, hopefully you will be done with your trips out there.”

“That works for me,” Greg smiled, “sure am going to miss those donuts and sweet rolls, though.”

“Well, eat all you can this morning,” Kendra responded with a chuckle, “there should be plenty left when you get there. Matthew, please touch base with me as soon as you are done with Jack. I’m really concerned about his sudden urgency to visit with you, can’t fathom what that may be about.”

“Yeah,” Matt sighed, “with Jack you never know. Could be nothing, just him wanting to talk. I’ll definitely go hear him out and see.”

“Again, please let me know as soon as you are done.”

“Will do,” Matt responded, opening his door to go in the store.

Matt and Greg quickly accomplished their shopping, then drove to the office in silence. As they walked into the empty building, Greg said, “It’s sure weird in here these days, seems like it’s always Sunday or something.”

“Now, with Rusty out until Wednesday," Matt laughed, “it’s going to be really quiet!”

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Greg smiled, “he definitely has a tendency to stir things up. See you around nine thirty,” Greg said as Matt turned to walk into his office.

“I’ll be ready,” Matt said, stopping in the doorway, “hopefully this thing with Jack won’t take too long, and we can go on with our day.”

As Matt sat at his desk, he knew there was no way for him to prepare for his meeting with Jack Leonard. He decided to just show up and see what Jack had to say. All Kendra had said was that Jack wanted to extend some farewell amends to him. Whatever that may mean.

Matt reached in his pocket and removed the card that Chief Trane had given him at the wedding. He glanced at his watch and decided to give Norman Satora a call. He leaned back in his chair and pressed the numbers on his desk phone keypad.

“PC Supplies and Service,” a male voice said, “This is Norm. How may I help you?”

“Good morning, Norm,” Matt said in a professional tone, “how are you doing today?”

“Well, not bad for a Monday, how about yourself?”

“Pretty good,” Matt replied. “My name is Matthew Petricelli, George Trane gave me your card and recommended that I call you about a project that I’m working on.”

“Well, I’ll be!” Norm responded enthusiastically. “Matthew Petricelli himself! George told me that he gave you my card, but I really didn’t expect you’d call. Wow! What can I do for you, Mr. Petricelli?”

“First of all, call me Matt,” Matt said in a friendly tone, “do you go by Norm?”

“That’s it.”

“Well, listen, Norm,” Matt said, leaning forward in his chair, “I’m about to leave for a meeting, but wanted to touch base with you before I left to see what we may be able to set up. George said you like the lunch special at Jared’s Java House, thought we might meet there soon so that I can tell you what we’re working on and see if you can be involved. My treat.”

“Sounds great to me,” Norm responded, “can’t do today, but each day for the rest of the week I’m free around lunch time.”

“Good deal,” Matt smiled, “I have a two o’clock meeting downtown tomorrow, so I think if we get together around eleven, that would give us plenty of time to eat and discuss some possibilities.”

“Eleven tomorrow works for me, Mr. Petricelli,” Norm said eagerly, “can you give me a quick synopsis of what services you are looking for so that I can be prepared?”

After a brief silence, Matt said, “Yeah, Norm, we're needing some help with the Backstage database system. George said that he didn’t know of anyone better than you.”

There was a long silence. Then Norm cautiously asked, “What kind of help? Are you with one of the state agencies that uses the system, or what?”

“Actually,” Matt said carefully, “I’m helping wrap things up with the AG’s Special Task Force…”

“Wait a minute,” Norm interrupted, his tone becoming tight, “so, you’re not wanting PC stuff from me. What you’re wanting is mainframe database help…on the CAIN thing?!”

Matt remembered George Trane’s warning about being straight with Norm. He decided it was no use in attempting any of his usual careful and deliberate rhetoric, but to just get to the point.

“It may take a few minutes to outline when we meet,” Matt responded carefully, “but we're trying to trace some transactions that seem to have originated in the CAIN system, and were processed into the main system…” Matt stopped talking. A long silence ensued.

“So, Mr. Petricelli,” Norm said in a very intense tone, “can I assume that you need to go undetected by the usual system radar, and attempt to trace down what you are looking for without being noticed? You are not able to use the official resources at your disposal, but need to find a discreet and confidential way to accomplish your objective, or objectives?”

Norm had transcended his cheery PC Services tone and was talking in a very controlled, sophisticated manner.

“Yep,” Matt responded, very taken with Norm’s powerful change in tone and demeanor. “I could not have said it better.”

There was another few moments of silence. Matt decided to wait and let Norm speak next.

“So, Matt,” Norm spoke, emphasizing Matt’s name, instead of continuing to address him as Mr. Petricelli, “I usually wear khaki pants and a casual shirt with my logo on it. I’m an old, gray-haired guy with a mustache. I usually sit on the left side of Jared’s near the front window. Eleven it is?”

“Eleven it is,” Matt responded, “I look forward to meeting you.”

“Same here.” The phone clicked off.

After Matt placed the phone in its cradle, he just stared at it. He was overcome by the feeling that he had just talked with a version of himself. Norm had gone from a cheery voice as he answered the call to his PC business, and transitioned to a very intense and informed tone as he quickly perceived the nature of what Matt was looking for.

Matt recalled standing at his desk the day before, looking at the picture in his old Inspector General ID wallet, and the deep contrast to the picture in his current Task Force ID. A similar contrast to the tones he had just heard in Norm’s voice. Matt intuitively knew that George Trane was right. This man, due to the repercussions of reporting the wrong doings of his agency, had become sharply cynical, but at the same time, he had gained a deep sense of wisdom. Matt felt an immediate kinship with him, one that he knew could turn into a relationship of trust.


To be continued....


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