Now you listen to me - get back to the cab immediately - don’t make me do something you’ll regret!
Yes. I lose my temper, I hurt you, real bad, who you think gonna regret it, me? No buddy, you’re going to be the one regretting your broken arm and nose.
What do you want from me?
C'mon, man up. We’ve been through this. You know exactly what I want from you. Now be a good boy and get back inside the cab. I won’t say it again.
Charlie had no idea what he was getting into. Though even if he knew, most chances he wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it, to avoid getting into it. Charlie had what many would consider a normal life. He had a steady job, to which he wore a suit every day (always dark, with mostly white shirts and the occasional light blue or washed-out pink.) He wasn’t an ambitious man. He was content with his position at the company, and with his modest prospects of climbing further up the corporate ladder. He was a good provider to his family, and a positive presence at the household though a somewhat reclusive one. That’s Charlie in a nutshell.
Now the one walking next to Charlie, the bulkier of the two, the one with his jacket still on, the one that no one would consider his life normal, is Mr. Steve. If Charlie won’t turn around and get back inside the cab, Mr. Steve will get physical with him. That’s how Mr. Steve usually solves problems that come his way. He knows that it is not the most agreeable way to result to in time of crisis, but he also knows, from experience, that it is the fastest, most efficient way to get what he wants. So when Mr. Steve says I lose my temper he says so with the outmost restraint. Violence for him is a tool, not the by-product of flying off the handle. That’s Mr. Steve in a nutshell.
Mr. Steve was obviously sent here by someone else to manhandle Charlie into doing what he doesn’t want to do, but the sending party does. That someone else, the third party, wants Charlie to arrange access to his company’s computer system. All Charlie needs to do is install, via a USB stick, a packet of code. Two clicks and eject. Super simple. Mr. Steve, on a completely personal level, can’t understand why Charlie would object to doing that, especially when a nice monetary compensation is involved. Professionally, he needs to bring Charlie back to his office, hand him the USB stick, wait outside the building while Charlie goes up to the 16th floor, installs the packet of code, and comes back down to hand back the USB stick to him.
There is no doubt that Charlie will eventually comply, either pre- or post-beating, courtesy of Mr. Steve. And after the guilt and shame wear off, he will enjoy, with his family, the money. Now he is thrown between stubbornness and denial, but those will wear off as well.
That’s what I do, during stakeouts, when there’s so much time to pass - I make shit up. I pick up random folks that walk by, and I create elaborate stories for them. I picked the names Charlie and Mr. Steve. The first time I saw these two was five seconds ago when they got out of the cab. Actually the cab driver is the one I’m tailing. He’s the illegitimate son of a certain congressman, and since this is an election year, some bodies in the party wanted to dig some dirt on this guy. That way, if he all of sudden pointed fingers or made some claims, his credibility will be demolished immediately. You dig dirt when you can, not when you need to.
Image by Philip LePage
Writing by Assaf Dudai