XVII. Later in September
Cooper sat in the van listening on a headset and stewing about the fact that he was essentially sitting in a forced “time-out” in the van. The mission started off normal enough. Cooper reviewed it in his head: bad guy enters hotel because he has a dinner appointment set up with other baddies. Team Coop follows said bad guy to hotel. The team has a certain objective. In this case, it was surveillance. They listen for incriminating key words like “weapon” or “bomb” or “kill.” Blah, blah, blah. That kind of thing, they hear what they need and send a team to move in. All very routine. All very boring for Cooper.
This time though, the known big baddie mentioned something outside the normal key words. He used the word “Samson Pill” and “notebook.”
When Cooper had heard those words he looked at Ant who sat impassively listening. This is why Cooper never played cards with the man. Ant had an impenetrable poker face. After the conversation ended, Ant sent Al inside the hotel to do some work and Malone to pick up lunch while he still sat quietly.
“He knows about the,” Cooper cleared his throat, “pill.”
“Yeah, sounds like it.” Ant replied and continued typing on the computer’s keyboard.
Cooper nodded. Apparently, Ant was going to make him drag everything out. “And a notebook.”
Ant didn’t answer.
“Wonder what’s in the notebook?”
“We should probably get our hands on that notebook,” that seemed like the most logical plan to Cooper.
“You will do no such thing,” Ant finally spoke without taking his attention away from the computer.
“But if it has something to do with the,” instinctively Cooper lowered his voice even though they were the only two in the van, “Samson Pill,” he cleared his throat nervous to have spoken the words out loud, “then I should probably know about it.”
“Why?” Ant asked.
“Well, you know,” Cooper thought that maybe he had misunderstood the unspoken agreement. “If it has something to do with the pill, my pill.”
Ant snorted. “Your pill?”
“Well, you know,” Cooper answered defensively. “It is sorta mine. I mean, it is a part of me. So yeah, my pill.”
“Alright,” Ant answered in what Cooper thought was a rather snooty tone. “But I’m telling you, there is no notebook. The notebook does not exist.”
“Wait, you know about the notebook?”
“Everyone who knows anything about the pill knows about the notebook. There was a rumor that Henry Buttlefeld kept all his notes in a notebook and also a floppy disc. The disc was destroyed – that has been verified. But the notebook has never been found. Its whole existence is merely a rumor, nothing more.”
Part of Cooper felt a little relieved to discuss the pill so openly but another part of him was annoyed. Annoyed by the fact that Ant seemed to know quite a bit about the pill but never talked to Cooper about it. Didn’t he have a right to know the details? After all, the pill was inside him. The pill had helped make him who he was. Shouldn’t he be the expert on the subject not Ant?
And so, Cooper decided he would have to get his hands on that notebook to be sure.
A half-hour later, Ant left the van and gave Cooper clear and direct orders to stay in the van. Stay in the van? That was not going to happen.
Cooper intended to wait 15-20 minutes after Ant left before he went into the hotel. He made it closer to five minutes then left the van for the hotel. Waiting never was his style.
He crossed the parking lot and went to the back of the building. The last thing he wanted to do was to stroll in and bump into Ant. He figured he would go in through the kitchen’s entrance and head to room 408 since that was the room the suspect was in. While everyone was busy watching each other at the dinner, he could do a little entry and search. Duck out before anyone knew he was in there. Simple enough.
He peeked into the dining room and could see the man they were following sitting at dinner with a group of others. Perfect, so far Cooper’s plan was working. But, he couldn’t help noting, the man they were watching looked pretty old. Was all this even necessary? It couldn’t be too much longer before time helped them out with the old man. Surely, this man could no longer be considered a viable threat.
He borrowed an employee’s jacket that was hanging by the door and found the staff elevator. The only thing that troubled him was not seeing Ant anywhere at all. He didn’t want to bump into him but he wanted to know his location. But he was too focused on getting his hands on that notebook to overthink Ant’s absence.
He exited the elevator on the fourth floor and found room 408. A couple of quick glances up and down the hall and a quick listen at the door helped him take a deep breath. He took out a picklock kit he always kept in his pocket and opened the door. This should only take a few minutes unless the suspect actually had the notebook on him. Then that would be a different story. Cooper shook his head to clear that thought out of his head. He would deal with that problem if it arose. For now, he would take a quick scan of the room. Five minutes tops. He turned on the light and to his surprise, discovered he wasn’t alone. Al was on the bed tied up with duct tape on her mouth and looked at him with wide eyes. She was trying to tell him something.
He crossed the room and tore the duct tape off her mouth.
“Ow,” she said instinctively. “Don’t move! I think you just triggered a bomb. If you move, not only do we die but most of the people on this side of the hotel.”
Okay, this may take a little longer than he anticipated.
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