I glanced up at Sergeant Atwood. He knew me. I knew him. Was he going to be an asshole because I wasn't reading the correct newspaper? I had my reasons.
Eventually Atwood sat at my table, after a big pretence at not knowing me. A pretence that would have worked if the place was full. But, seeing as he could have picked from twelve other tables - he may as well have just sat down and shut up.
"Why aren't you reading The Times?", he hissed.
"In '95 The Times sold out to MicroSoft. I don't trust anything they say when it comes to anything remotely electronical."
"And you trust The Daily Mail instead?"
"Not really. But it has some good women's pages."
"Well, Sarge, it is like this. Not all guys in the world are obsessed with football."
The conversation carried on like that while I explained that MicroSoft bought The Times for a day to promote it's new Windows95 so-called operating system. I was about to explain that Win95 was basically a GUI on top of the old DOS, but figured he was already having trouble with the newspapers.
He ordered a beer. The waitress gave him an odd look, so he looked around. This place wasn't a
licensed premises. He settled for a black coffee and then stared at me for several seconds. He
then looked around the room without moving his head; his eyes scanned from one side to the other.
I bit my tongue not to laugh.
"We need your help", he said.
"This the same police force that tried to bust me two years ago?", I asked.
"This is the same police force that turns a blind eye to the way you ride your bike to college, and the multitude of complaints that your principal lodges with us every week."
He had me there.
"So, you want this guy."
"Why don't you kick his door in and shout "You're nicked!" or something?"
"Because this isn't an episode of The Bill."
"A minor technicality, at best."
Sgt. Atwood went on to explain that this suspect was "a crafty old bugger" and they needed him out of his premises so they (the police) could enter with a court order and look around before the suspect has a chance to dispose of the goods. That is where I come in. Apparently I have ways and means. With the recent stories of corruption, the police want to be Fairy-clean on this one. No little technicalities to cause the court to let a nasty criminal go free; or worse, be paid compensation.
I have morals. But when it comes to drug pushers, my morals are rather relaxed.
Go home, grab some shut eye then meet same place same time tomorrow. Time to wheel and deal.
This time I brought a Guardian and a Telegraph. When Sgt. Atwood wasn't looking, I swapped.
He sat, eyes scanning the room. I had taken the liberty of ordering a coffee.
"So, what are you expecting in return?", he asked me.
"Can you set me up with Athina?"
"You don't think she's a little young for you?"
"She's got money, who cares about age differences?"
"Shallow bast....ahem!", Sgt. Atwood spluttered.
"Okay. You know what I want. It is obvious."
"The keys to the bank?"
I shook my head.
"A direct line into the PNC?"
"Already got that." I shook my head again.
"Ah. Your principal mightily embarrassed."
"Now we're cooking with gas".
"Hauled off during the daytime when people are watching?"
"Five minutes before lunch time, before everybody goes away for lunch. Enough cop cars to make them want to stay around."
"More than one cop car?"
"Full scale training exercise. Cop cars. SWAT. Police from other towns. Hell, I want helicopter support at each compass point."
"You have to be joking. You think we can storm in and arrest somebody with that scale of operation without repercussions?"
"Actually, yes. September 1994 in..."
"Okay, so that was a mistake. A very grave error that caused heads to roll. Our evidence was lacking."
"Oh? If evidence is your problem, leave it to me."
"What do you intend doing?"
"Ask yourself what any good hacker could do if that found naked pictures of his niece on the college server."
"She is, oh, eight at a guess."
"Ah. Mmm... But anyway. I don't think so. I can certainly arrange for a few of my men to question him."
"I want the works. I want the jerk to be so ashamed he'll quit. Then I can fiddle the staff records so that Gorgeous Babe is promoted to top position."
"I know how much this crim means to you. You reckon he has stashed several million in raw cocaine. And I can tell you some extra titbits like where he gets it from and how much there is there."
"I jacked into your cute little PNC, got his details and set up a survie on him last night. I don't know about your guys on obbo duty - but somehow they missed him making a pickup."
"Meet here tomorrow. I'll see what I can do. But your so-called evidence for your principal better be bloody good. I'm not carrying the can on this alone."
"Don't worry. I want him OUT in style. See you tomorrow."
In the last episode, the hacker confuses the police intelligence (not difficult) and pushes to set up Sopowitz in exchange for some behind-the-scenes string pulling...
I sat down in the chip shop. The food here was better. My laptop was hooked into the surveillance camera in the High Street. I could see Sgt. Atwood pacing up and down outside the café. I'll bet his desk is covered in Post-ItTM notes in his own writing, none of which he can comprehend. I let him pace for about ten minutes and then called him on his private mobile.
"So where were we?", I asked, presenting him with a strong black coffee. Ugh.
"We were at the part where you were telling me how you got my personal phone number...", Atwood prompted.
"No we weren't!", I sang back, smiling widely. Time for the cute approach.
"Ah. So what do you have on your lovely principal?", Atwood asked, "It'd better be good."
I passed over a Betamax cassette.
"What the hell is this?"
"Uh, a video tape."
"God, you mean somebody still uses these things?"
"I'll guess you'll want a VHS then?"
Atwood nodded. I reached into my backpack and brought out a VHS tape.
"You know, I was expecting a floppy disc or something", Atwood remarked pointedly.
"Yeah, so was I until I saw what I saw last night."
"Well, I tapped into the security camera in his office, yeah? Then I set up his computer to load that picture if he tried to start his word processor. It all went to plan. I got that frame with his staring at the picture. Then it got bad."
"Well, he switched the monitor off. The monitor, not the computer. He went out. Came back around three minutes later with a wad of bog roll."
"Think about it."
My hot chocolate was getting cold. I made a few blatant hand gestures and the penny dropped.
"Oh the disgusting runt!", Atwood exclaimed, with remarkable self control.
"That is on this tape?"
"Yup. Didn't watch it myself, once I figured out what he was doing. Sadly there is no sound. The college hook-up uses sound-in-sync. I only just managed to get a viewable picture out of it."
"One grunt sounds pretty much the same as the other", Atwood replied with a totally deadpan expression.
That killed me. It really did.
My side of the bargain was easy. Cut the power, reconnect the power, cut, reconnect. Keep doing
that at approximately 30 second intervals. In case the dealer got ideas about calling the
electricity board, I set the telephone to respond with the Not Available tone to all outgoing
calls. He didn't budge. So time, I think, for my piece de resistance. I had earlier hooked up
the local substation to bypass the final step-down transformer if the main switch was taken to
the off position.
With a long wooden broom handle, I cranked the switch up. Sparks showered to the ground during changeover. I looked behind me. Every third house was dark, and some of the street lights were burning. I heard screams and panic. Well, I had just shoved some eleven kilovolts down the mains. But what do I care? Those other people were insured, right?
No sooner had the crim gotten fed up and left, the police burst into the premises and to put it bluntly they trashed the joint, and still they failed to find anything. Out of dispair I SMS'd Atwood suggesting they look in unusual places...
...it was found by a cop who wanted to pop his coffee in the microwave. There it was, stuffed in there. A whole 4.3Kg of substance abuse waiting to be cooked. Weird, I could have sworn I saw the crim buy 4.5Kg of the stuff. I'll have to check my tapes later.
A week passed and nothing happened. I posted a Tom Jones record to Atwood.
Another week passed. So I popped round the station and dropped off a Catatonia CD for Atwood.
So, it takes Cerys Matthews to get the police to do something. My god, what a sorry state of affairs. One bobby turned up at 11am. I helped them collect a whop of candyfloss sugar and they send back one lone cop. He isn't even armed with a Minigun. Just a clipboard.
I logged into two of my accounts and began to play Doom on both machines. Loudly fragging anything that got in my path. Sitting under the sign that said network games were prohibited. If sysadmin disturbs me right now, I'll tell him exactly where he can put that sign.
Joanna had to literally pull me off of my seat to get me to notice the fire alarm over the racket of my BFG9000 in Happy Ammo Mode. Sure enough, it was screaming away. And sure enough, half the student body was in a panic having not bothered to read the fire drill notices.
Something loud thumped through the air overhead. Joanna and I ran to the nearest front window. The scene that I saw was almost sexually exciting (almost, but not quite). Dozens of police cars, strobes running. An ambulance. Trainees in riot gear. Three helicopters (that I could see). Two vans. The media.
Sopowitz was being placed in a van. Then came the principal. Students were leaning out of the windows, jeering and throwing all manner of rubbish.
I broke backwards and did two things. I smashed the nearby fire alarm - it was really starting to bug me. Then I broke open the roof access door. It must have been a good idea because several dozen students followed Joanna and I to the roof. Before I reached the edge I heard cries of "Pædophile!". I looked down to see the riot police trying to get in to shield the principal, with little effect. A girl broke cordon and punched the principal in the face, then held her arms up to a cheering crowd as a cop tried to cuff her and was pushed away.
The last three things I remember are cheers, a surge from behind, and feeling terribly airsick.
Amongst the rebellion and anarchy; my unconscious body lay broken on the ground. Oh bummer.