Ken hung up, and as he disassembled and stored his kit he maintained his awareness. Soon he slipped out of his concealed location near the power line and stepped back inside an adjacent café, got into a storage room and did a quick-change. He came out looking like a college-aged backpacker on a long holiday, complete with backpack, and took a back table in the café.
Ken’s disarming smile and warm, slightly naïve demeanor in this persona made him invisible to the locals as well as most of the travelers taking in the café’s array of food and drink; its proximity to the power line made it a local wi-fi hot-spot, hence its popularity with travelers. Taking up a cup of coffee, Ken completed his disguise by pulling a tablet out of the pack—the same one that now concealed his lineman’s kit—and appeared to all observing that he’s either blogging or plotting his next stage of his grand tour.
The news feeds—English, Spanish and Portuguese alike—all talked about the massive regional scandals involving “The White Death” and his crusade against the criminal syndicates and the corrupt in government throughout South America. Central American news outlets echoed their South American counterparts, but so far North American—specifically, American—outlets said little or nothing. Only the international newswires carried any significant information, and that was repeats from South American news outlets.
Ken went to the many sites and feeds for the alternative press, and there he found information beyond the bland narratives of the mainstream outlets. Watching a few interviews, while enjoying his coffee and a light lunch, Ken got all that he needed to know about who stood to lose if “The White Death” was not taken down: a long-running inter-agency intelligence network, including agencies from the U.S., Israel, the U.K., Canada and all of Central and South America.
“I’ve really stepped into it now.” Ken thought, “But there has to be a central group running this network, spread throughout the network’s operational area.”
After finishing his meal, Ken decamped to a nearby hostel, where he met some visiting students from Canada and the United States. He ingratiated himself with them, and accompanied them around the small town near Colombia’s border with both Brazil and Peru, saying “There’s safety in numbers, you know, and this is Narco territory.” The handful of students agreed.
While out, he charmed the guys and enthralled the girls amongst them. Ken sized up that they were, much as his own old friends were once, mostly middle or upper-class suburbanites from schools of prominence- at least, regionally. He was not disappointed: two from Yale, one from Harvard, and the last from Georgetown. He spun a tale of attending the University of Chicago, studying under students of Leo Straus, and taking some time away before taking up a position at a law firm in that same city; this got their approval, and that is how Ken knew that they were all actually C.I.A. agents.