There was no mistaking the urgency that permeated the air. A series of offhand, seemingly innocent and meaningless exchanges with a series of his presumptive traveling companion--the last of whom made no pretense of being anything but an associate of Niles and Company--had led him to a small room at the end of a warren of airport corridors with no window and a single table with two facing chairs. No doubt this is where many a drug trafficker or fleeing felon met the end of the road to be confronted with the evidence of their crimes and the unapologetic promise of life-long incarceration.
The sudden disruption of what seemed like the exercise of a well-planned airline trip following pre-established protocols was only slightly less disconcerting than the realization that Jonathon had not been as alone and isolated as he had assumed. His isolation had been but an illusion as it had taken a minimum of five different “traveling companions” in sequence to steer him away from his place amongst legitimate fellow passengers to a place where the man without pretense had locked him into what was clearly a de facto holding cell.
Moments later, an official looking man entered the room and took the seat opposite Jonathon.
“Who is Corkscrew?”
“Who are you?” was Jonathon’s response.
“We can only keep you for a matter of minutes before your absence is likely to be remarked and your continued usefulness will be at an end. Perhaps you understand the significance of this fact or maybe you don’t. In either case, I shall not be the one to set you straight. You have the answer or you don’t.”
Jonathon looked at the stern and impassive face and knew there was no ground to be gained here. This man knew the value of a death sentence and wasn’t loathe to make use of whatever pressure that could be brought to bear.
“What is the context?”
The man paused deciding how much to reveal and said, “It is the name on a Twitter account which has made an overture to your wife.”
Not Anne but “your wife”. How had he formed that response? What inside information as to her current disposition did he have that made him refer to her in that intimate fashion as opposed to calling her by name as he might any other suspect?
“She doesn’t have a Twitter account.”
The man looked at Jonathon in a manner that suggested he was beyond hope of redemption and incapable of understanding the most basic of truths.
“Of course she does and are you really going to flog the story that you didn’t know? We’re really not in the market.”
“She doesn’t,” Jonathon insisted.
“The IP address on the account says differently and I have trouble believing that you are that far out of the loop.”
“Then I’ll ask you again,” said Jonathon. “Who are you that you would know? An IP address can be laundered and obscured and rendered irrelevant and immaterial. Who are you to tell me about me?”
“An IP address is written in indelible ink. Launder it however you like, we can read it as though it were printed in large-size font for the vision impaired. So, who is Corkscrew?”
Jonathon relaxed in his chair and smiled back at the man who, moments before, had seemed an adversary.
“Read his IP address and you tell me.”