FBI agent Thomas Petrie was looking for excitement and danger, but his very first assignment has him on ‘babysitting duty.’ Thomas is not very happy having to spend his every waking hour with De Luca in an isolated cabin, especially since he won’t stop coming on to him. All he wants is to complete his assignment and move on. But Mario is proving to be quite a distraction.
It was my very first case. I was young and inexperienced with an exaggerated opinion of myself back then. I expected to be put on some international terrorist case right off the bat, something I could brag to my old man about. Instead, I was handed a babysitting assignment.
My superior, a guy I felt was just a little too laid-back for this job, handed me a file, then briefly began to explain my assignment. When I stood there in shocked silence, Special Agent Burns leaned back in his swivel chair and said, “You’re not happy, Petrie?”
“I…well…Sir, I was thinking that maybe there would be something more important…” My father had taught me to hold my emotions in check, but that day I didn’t do a good job of hiding my disappointment. I could just imagine what my father would say about this, an ex-military commander who thought the FBI were all a bunch of sissy boys in leisure suits.
“How long you been on the job, Petrie?” Burns inquired.
“Six weeks, two days, and…” I checked my watch, “fifty-five minutes, Sir.”
“Thank you, Petrie. May I call you Thomas?
“This is a very important assignment, Thomas. Sit down.”
I sat. The file on my lap remained unopened between my fingers.
“The witness is instrumental in presenting evidence in the Antonio Rosa trial. He was a member of The Guardians, a biker gang who were the foot soldiers to the mob, and Rosa’s main contact. We need to make sure he makes it to that trial alive, or Rosa will walk.”
“Why not just keep him in jail?”
“Too risky. Rosa has people inside. And your assignment is a bit more complicated than that. I want you to get close to him, get him to open up to you. There’s something he’s not telling us. Someone he’s protecting. We want the name of that someone.”
“Okay,” I said, not overly thrilled about getting buddy-buddy with some dirty biker. I opened the file to see a head shot of a bearded beast with a mop of dirty brown hair.
“His name is Mario De Luca,” Burns offered. “He was chosen by us to work undercover in exchange for immunity a few years back. He was the youngest member of The Guardians. He was only fourteen when the leader, Evan Daniels, took him under his wing. Obviously, Daniels had some personal reasons for wanting this kid around. I believe he was used as a…how can we say this…biker’s pet?”
I looked up then.
“Yes, not a happy childhood, I believe. However, De Luca rose through the ranks pretty fast and became a full-fledged member of the gang. Some say he was even a contender for Daniel’s job. He was reported to be one tough son-of-a-bitch. He quickly became the main contact for Rosa about six years ago. At that time, he was only twenty-two. Phenomenal… when you consider how he started out.”
“What finally made him roll over for us?”
“We tried to pin down some concrete evidence on him, but he’s pretty slick. Finally, we brought together what we had… Mostly circumstantial. We didn’t fabricate any evidence, but let’s say we had to embellish some of the details. He had a choice, cooperate or go to jail for life. After a few days in interrogation, he agreed to do what we asked.”
“So, who do you think he is protecting, someone in The Guardians?”
“We don’t know. We think it might be some connection he had in the Mafia. Someone he was close to. Anyway, you have almost eight weeks to find out.”
Eight weeks of babysitting. “Where is he now…De Luca?”
“He’s on his way to the location with two of our most trusted agents. We need you to leave tonight to rendezvous with them there. They’ll fill you in. The location is set up for you. You’ll have everything you need for the duration.”
“And they’ll come back to relieve me at some point?”
“We can’t guarantee that. We can’t risk the chance that they could be followed. You’re on your own, at least for a while. We will try and check on you when the risk is lower. You’ll be given a special untraceable phone. Use it only in case of an emergency.”
“Now, go home, get your stuff together and be back here at sixteen hundred hours.”
I stood up. “Thank you, Sir.”
“Thank you, Thomas.”
Unfortunately, with everything going on, I hadn’t had time to fully move into my new apartment. Half of my stuff was still in boxes at my father’s house. When I walked into my dad’s house, I hoped he was out at the army club with the boys. That way I could just leave him a note.
Dad was retired now. My mother had left him five years ago. He was a bastard to live with. I would have stayed with my mother in New York, but the FBI training facility I wanted to go to was in Washington, and so was Dad.
I thought about this new assignment as I took a shower and changed into a clean blue suit, crisp white shirt, and dark blue tie. I was polishing my shoes when my father came bursting into my room like a drill sergeant. He’d always done that. There was no such thing as privacy in Dad’s house.
“Hey,” he said, slamming me hard on the back, “where you headed all decked out like that…some mysterious FBI caper?” He laughed.
I knew he was making fun. That was okay. I had stopped being intimidated by my father years ago. I was six foot three inches tall and two hundred pounds of solid muscle. He stopped threatening me with the belt when I turned fifteen.
“I’m going to be gone for about eight weeks,” I told him. “I’ll get the rest of my stuff out of here when I come back.”