old sea trick

Beset on all sides by surveillance, usually from the cops, but increasingly the work of rival syndicates looking to get the jump on a competitor, the ancient track suit-clad mobsters each took seats on separate city paratransit service shuttles to the senior activity center. They arrived 45 minutes early to assure themselves a seat on the first row, used aliases on the sign-in sheet, and took copious notes. By the time an hour had passed, the hoary capos had passed Accessing the Internet for Nonagenarians and now had their first e-mail addresses (not including the forgotten Hotmail account Freddie Eyeglasses’ granddaughter Karen tried to set up for him in 1997), a rudimentary grasp of how to type things into search engines, and a new way to covertly communicate.
The elegant simplicity of the plan pleased even Benny False Teeth, who had seen everything in his seventy-eight years in the business, as he was shown the laminated cipher he would use to decode each encrypted message. Thanks to their inside guy at the paper’s editorial page, every crank e-mail from “aquemini_jammin”, “billandmargaret1965”, or “ultramarathondad” got published in the “From Our Inbox” sidebar in the “Local Views” page on 24A. A scathing screed regarding the ongoing pothole problem on the north side meant Arrozco was willing to do business, an evisceration of the zoning ordinance approved at the latest city council meeting signified the boss’ displeasure with the condition of the Barcaloungers from the truck Little Myron’s crew had knocked off, and a fair, reasoned argument for ending the war on drugs meant the consiglieri had given his approval of the new heroin supplier.
From there they moved on to emailing digital pictures to the local news, which would then be televised when the newscasters threw to commercial. The grizzled mafiosos called in an old favor to employ another mole, who made sure the pictures got broadcast at the appointed time. For example, a picture of a sunset at the five o’clock news alerted the Croatians that a shipment was in (a shot of the moon over the night city skyline at the eleven o’clock news meant something else entirely), airing during the second commercial break before the weather meant to take Golden State and the points, and nattily attired news anchor Melissa Jethcoate thanking “Calvin Middlebrook of Meadowlake” for submitting it indicated that the rat had been dealt with.
Emboldened by their success, the hyperannuated racketeers soon found themselves pissing away all their time online. With the money coming in so easily, perhaps it was inevitable they would get sloppy. The 12-18 score at the top of the video “Epic Pong Point!!!!” that Cousin Sal submitted to Youtube under the username “shrubzblazer666”, told them which storage locker at the marina the product was kept in. The first sign of trouble didn’t surface until the pickup man called Jimmy Sandpaper on his Jitterbug phone to report that the docks were swarming with agents.

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September 2012
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