Take My Data, Please!

State Line

“What did you and Abdul discuss on the phone that night.”

“We talked work.”

“You talked work?


“At one-thirty on a Saturday morning?”

“We both work for Tech Corp, just down the street.”

“Edgar, here, and I both work for the Agency.  We don’t call each other at one-thirty in the morning?”

“Well I clearly remember what Abdul and I talked about.”

“Because that’s when you two hatched your plot!”

“No.  Abdul and I were on a conference call.”

“A midnight conference call?”


“With your terror network?”

“Uh, no.  With the local area network.”


“The team at Tech Corp that supports the LAN.”

“Can’t Tech Corp get its work done by five P.M on Friday like normal people?”

“Tech Corp needed to update its website.  They won’t let us do that during the day.”

“Who’s ‘us?’  You and Abdul?


“Tech Corp trusts you two with their website?”

“Yes.  But we’re just part of the team.”

“You say that you and Abdul communicated that night via conference call?”


“But the call the Agency traced…it was a direct call from Abdul’s phone in Pakistan, to your phone in Winthrop Harbor.”

“Wow!  Abdul’s from Pakistan?”

“You didn’t know that?”

“I knew that Abdul worked offshore, but I had no idea he was in…”

“We traced the direct call from Abdul to you.”

“That’s right.  Abdul called me, and for a few minutes we spoke directly.”

“You’re saying that, even though you were both on the Tech Corp conference call, you and Abdul spoke on a separate, private call?”

“Happens all the time.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because on those calls there are twenty-five or more people.”

“That’s what conference calls are for.  Lots of people.”

“Yeah, but during a website upgrade, there can be many technical conversations going at the same time.”


“It gets confusing.”

“And it was confusing that night?”

“Yes!  Abdul and I needed to concentrate…to solve the problem of the website not coming back up.”

“You didn’t want the others to hear you?”

“It didn’t matter if they heard us.  But we didn’t want to add a lot of static to an already busy call.”

“Let’s switch topics.”

“Please do.”

“Your Internet activity that night.”

“What about it?

“Our analyst noted that you were doing Google searches.”

“Of course I was.  Those conference calls go for hours.  Lots of discussion followed by lots of silence.  Do you ever watch CSPAN?”

“I don’t.  Why?”

“Never mind.  I pass the time like anyone else.  It keeps me awake.”

“You Googled ‘Bass Pro Shop Glock .45′”

“I did.”

“Shopping for a handgun?”

“What?  No!”

“Then why did you Google that?”

“I was doing research.”


“Yeah, I’m a writer.”

“A few minutes ago you were a technology guy.  Now you’re a writer?”

“I’m both.  You can be both, you know.”

“I can be both?”

“I meant me, not you.  I don’t think you can even be one of something.”

“What was that?”

“Nothing.  I’m a technology guy and a writer.  I was researching a story.”

“If you’re a writer, who’s published your work?”

“Uh, no one’s published my work.  Not yet.”

“A writer who’s not published?  Does anyone know you’re a writer, other than you?”

“I have a blog.”

“A blog?”

“Yes.  I post my work on an Internet page.”

“Do you get any likes?”

“Yes a few.  Hey.  It’s getting late.  Why are you questioning me?”

“You received a call from a foreign national.  One whose phone has been called by suspected terrorists.  After that you visited the website of a gun seller.  I thought you writers were the timid type.”

“We are.  Or at least I am.  I’m writing a story and there’s a part where a guy shoots at something.”

“So can’t you just write that a guy shoots at something?”

“I could, but don’t you think it’s better if I write, ‘He checked the chamber indicator then pulled back the cold-hammered steel slide.’?”

“Wow!  That does sound better.  So if we go to your blog…I mean we don’t have to go to your blog.  I’m pretty sure we have a copy of it on the Agency’s servers.  But on your blog I can read your story that has the gun in it?”

“No, it’s not there.”

“You’re saying there is no story?”

“But there is!”

“Then why isn’t on your blog?”

“Because I’m going to present it first to a writers’ group.”

“Writers’ group?”

“Actually it’s a guild, the Kenosha Writers’ Guild.”

“A guild?  What…do you guys wear funny clothes?  Puffy sleeves?”

“No!  It’s just a word.

“Wait!  Did you say it’s the Kenosha Writers’ Guild?”


“But you live in Illinois.”

“That’s correct.”

“And this Wisconsin group lets you in?”

“They do!  I think they like me.”

“The meetings are in Kenosha?”


“And your residence is in Winthrop Harbor.”

“It is.”

“So you cross the border?”

“The border?”

“The line between Illinois and Wisconsin.”

“Of course I do.  Why do you even mention that?”

“We’re trying to discourage it.”

“Discourage what?”

“Crossing the border.”

“You mean the state line?”

“Yes, the state line border.”

“Why?  Is some war brewing between The Land of Lincoln and America’s Dairy Land?”

“Does your writers’ group laugh at your jokes?  People who cross borders are more likely to be up to something.”

“Even state borders?”

“Yes.  We prefer people to stay in their place.  We’re going to watch you as you move between the two states.”

“How will you do that?”

“Last week we got a court order, and now we’ve got a drone buzzin’ around, above Russell Road at 39th.”

“In that case you won’t like my story.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because my character shoots down that drone.”


Filed under Fiction

2 responses to “Take My Data, Please!

  1. This is a re-post from June 21. I’m planning to soon publish a follow-up to this.

  2. My NSA only spies on Americans for their own good and our own amusement. We’re all on the same team here. Trust us! http://agent54nsa.blogspot.com/

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