It’s quite important in the gossip business to maintain relationships, because that’s how one gets and keeps the access necessary to do this job. Assassination has a similar pressure, in that it’s a wise thing to treat human resources well while they remain at all useful to you. Therefore, I did keep my promise to my German colleague and contacted that former lead singer; I redeemed the time by having one of those “Where Are They Now?” interviews while he cut together a mix-CD of his live stuff from years of local radio appearances. I even got it shipped out the same day, and by the end of dinner I had both the hyper-local blog updated with the venue and dates scoop, and I updated my day job column with the aforementioned interview.
Now I turned my attention to my rivals. I knew that most assassins were either ascended crooks or burned spies, and my target would command a prize great enough to attract the former as well as the latter. If you’ve seen films like Smoking Aces, then you have an idea of just how dangerous this scenario can be- especially for a non-traditional such as myself. However, it is not the spies that concerned me most; the crooks worried me, because they are often both ambitious as well as incompetent- if they were, they wouldn’t have a record. Both sets had to be dealt with.
I am not some protagonist from a John Woo film. I am not an All-American James Bond. I am an otherwise-ordinary man that just happens to be good at killing people. These guys could wipe the floor with me if I played their game, so I can’t allow that. I needed intelligence, and I needed it now. This put me in a bind, as I’m a gossip columnist and not a crime beat reporter. Fortunately, everyplace has That Guy—the celebrity gossip addict—and I knew that if I just get an in with someone in the local FBI office I’d be able to leverage that into a source.
I needed that in. I didn’t have it. I spent my evening watching American Idol thinking about how to fix this gap. When the late news came on, I had my answer: I figured that someone on the security beat would have that in, and once the press release went out I’d have a reason to come by for a visit- I’d be expected to talk to the local FBI press liaison and get their press release. That’s how I could get that in.
The following morning the national morning shows released the new U.S. tour schedule, and an hour later I put in a call to the local FBI office to get a response. I could not believe that they had none, so I followed up with the expected “I can’t believe your serious.” line of questions until I sensed that I’d score that meeting- and then I got it. We met across the highway at one of the famous landmarks in town—a dining car—and got the table in the far corner from the door. I expected the liaison, but he brought a colleague- and that was the one I hoped for, the gossip addict.