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I'd gotten two hours sleep in a mall parking lot before heading to the Bob Evan's restaurant where I would meet Mark. The prepaid cell phone was supposed to be my alarm clock, but I didn't need. it. The sun was heading up high and the driver's seat was so uncomfortable I couldn't have made it another hour.
"Turn there, at the entrance to the park," Mark said.
He'd thrown a rock at the window of where I was sitting at Bob Evan's. I got the idea and headed out to meet him. He didn't want anyone at the restaurant to remember him.
His black van had something lettered on a magnetic sign about "Books for the Blind." The back seat was stacked with plastic cases, a tripod and a medical kit the size of a briefcase. On the middle short bench rested a black and tan Rottweiler.
"Nice dog," I said.
"Not hardly," said Mark.
"What's his name?"
"Sorry, her. What's her name?"
"Patriot," he said as he unbuckled his coat and got in the passenger side.
"Sure you want me to drive?"
"Get in or I'll tell Patriot you're a commie."
We drove around and I told him everything I could remember since the day Emily contacted me.
"Keep your eyes on the road," he said.
Re-telling the most intense days of my life made it hard to be a good driver.
By the time we got to the park, I was mentally exhausted. Even with Mark and his dog as reinforcements, I couldn't see any way things could end except with me in a secret government prison or on the run for the rest of my life. We pulled over to the painted yellow lines that defined the curbside parking and left the engine running.
"Why are we sitting in the park looking at the tennis courts?" I asked.
"There's good looking women in tennis outfits playing tennis. Unless my van's on the radar, nobody's going to bother us. They'll figure we're normal."
The sun was yellow as a happy face button, but a mass of dark gray clouds were sneaking up on it to ruin its day. A scattering of people wandered the park, feeding the ducks or geese or whatever they were.
"We should have brought french fries to feed the birds," I said. "We'd fit right in."
He hit a button on the dashboard and the on-board computer screen came to life. Rows of numbers and then the image of an eye ringed with barbed wire appeared. It flashed green before disappearing.
"New GPS?" I asked nervously.
"Here's the deal," he said, turning to face me. "If that picture would have flashed red, you would have spent the night in a tank of nitric acid and nothing would have been left of you by morning."
My stomach went weak. I was wrong thinking I couldn't get any more afraid than I already was.
He let it sink in. Waited until I calmed down a little.
"I'm not going to kill you," he said.
It felt like my heart would never quit beating too fast.
"Thanks," I said.
"But the Feds will if they catch you," he said.
"What was that picture?" I asked. I was trying not to think about what he'd just said. "Is it supposed to be the Feds?"
It was a stupid question. I just couldn't think of anything else to say.
"One brother to another?"
"Do I have to say the Masonic oath? If I do, don't kill me because I can't. I forgot how it goes. You don't have to tell me what the picture on the screen stands for."
He frowned and stroked the stubble on his chin.
"If anybody needs to know, it's you," he said.
"Okay, what is it?"
"It's our symbol for the Secret Enemy."
"And what is the Secret Enemy?"
"It's the software program," he said, "that ordered your death."