The Longest 91 Minutes of My Life (archive)
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by Darth Tang, redacted by Agent Donald, DGML 16760

Undercover work is a skilled and exacting business; more importantly, managing an undercover operation is an extremely demanding task, and one which should never be taken lightly. I have done only the most casual tasks of the former, and none of the latter.

Eighteen months ago, Alphonse contacted me for assistance. He had learned about some people who were attempting to locate a large quantity of C-4 explosives. An undercover DG Friendly had gotten his foot in the door, but they were now hung up; the Friendly told Alphonse that he needed an agent who was an outsider to the area to pose as the seller. Worse, the Friendly had already painted himself into a corner by describing this mythical seller to the buyers before Alphonse could say yay or nay.

So now Alphonse was looking for an agent who could pass as a retired Army NCO with ties to the Republic of Texas who was willing to take part in their ramshackle operation. I was "volunteered".

It wasn't a very sophisticated part to play; I'm retired from the National Guard after two enlistments in the Regular Army, and I know enough about the RoT to pass muster to a non-member. My part was a one-encounter meet to clinch the actual deal. Shouldn't take much more than a half-hour of face time. No problem.

A-cell got me a '73 Chevy pickup with clean plates and a high-freq digital recorder built into the body whose hard drive can store six hours of video & audio footage. I've got the mike & camera built into the bill of a 'gimme' ball cap, with a backup audio mike in a Casio digital watch. A-cell provide a clean cell phone with a panic button feature: all I got to do is twist the case, and the cavalry comes to the rescue. As a bonus, there's a GPS chip in it.

All I have to do is go there and make the deal. No problem. I put some mail circulars (bulk mail, no addresses) & the like in the truck, along with an old tool box & assorted other crap. I dump the spare into the bed.

The day of the meet, I've got a .380 Bersa in a clip shoulder holster, a Colt Gold Cup stuck in my belt at the small of my back with two spare mags in my back left pocket, and two Berretta Model 21A's in .25 ACP stashed about my person. I'm wearing a baggy green Hawaiian shirt over a tucked-in tee shirt to hide the hardware. I got the cap on, and the cell phone hanging off my pocket.

I drive out to this guy's place, call him Ben. Ben lives in the boonies, a good 25 miles from the nearest building. My backup is stashed 20 miles away, meaning if things go south, I've got to last 20-odd minutes. That's OK, its just a deal-maker; there's no money changing hands. I've got a folding-stock semi-auto AK stashed in the truck with twelve 30-round mags just in case, and a '73 Chevy has a lot of steel in it. I'm not terribly worried.

I show up at the place-its late afternoon. Ben meets me at his barn/workshop. He's strange. His 20-something nephew is really weird. And they want to buy enough C-4 to vaporize a bulldozer. Ben and the nephew are drinking Pearl Lite; they give me a Coke, because I don't drink. We lean against an old pickup and talk. I'm trying to find out why Ben wants the C-4, and using the excuse that I don't want to be caught up in some Homeland Security-controlled slaughter.

First Ben doesn't want to tell me anything, but when I drop some occult sounding names in the conversation, the real reason for the C-4 becomes clear. Ben and his nephew are members of some local cult that worships snakes. They start talking about their god, who is called Jigg or something, and that their cult is older than Jesus and even the Egyptians. Like seniority is important for these Shub-wankalots. Apparently, the Arabians are members of a rival cult that worships somebody - or something - that they call The Man and they want to muscle in on Jigg's territory. Ben's cult is not too happy with this and has given Ben and his nephew the task of neutralizing the threat.

Turns out Ben has come up with the idea of blowing up a truck with the dark-skinned Arabians in it, along with their holy book & some other bits. The plan was to blow it as it passed through the drive-through of the Nephew's wife's place of business, killing her. The idea was that it would appear that a group of Moslem terrorists had accidentally blown themselves up.

I marvelled at their cunning plan, and we worked out a price for the C-4 and various accessories. As we were wrapping it up a truckload of people drove up. I casually checked my phone, because this might be an unpleasant development.

The phone was dead. Stone dead. Absolutely, utterly toast.

No backup.

OK, I'm cool. Still no money involved, things ought to go fine.

The truck discharged a group of shaved-head, tattooed Asian pygmies - Cambodians or Vietnamese - and a bunch of Hispanic girls; the leader (I figured these were to be the unwitting participants in the botched terrorist action) promptly starts arguing with Ben about a late payment for meth, pot and something called Reverb. It gets heated. I see that the Asian pygmie leader's teeth are sharpened.

This is not good. Now we've got money involved. If it goes south, I'm gonna be just another white guy. Phone's still dead. I activate the signal anyway. You never know.

One of the Asian pygmies asks me who I am. I tell him I'm there selling Ben some military hardware. That ends the argument; suddenly, the head pygmie, call him Hanoi Harry, is trying to work a deal to swap meth & a bunch of Reverb pills for a M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon. I tell him I can get the gun & ammo, no problem, but that I don't have connections for drugs, so I'll need something else.

After some debate, I get a Best Buy circular out of 'my' truck, and we work out a trade-in value for LCD or plasma TVs in factory packaging for the gun & a couple cases of belted ammo. Hanoi Harry says they can rip off a Wal-Mart, no problem. We work out some details.

There is a blast like a shotgun going off. Everybody hits the deck, and guns come out. After a couple seconds, we realize the battery on my truck has exploded. Because the frigging recording unit is putting too much strain on it, apparently.

So now I am on foot. I kick my truck, curse it roundly, dig through the cab, announce my phone is dead, and manage to ditch the ball cap under the front seat.

Ben has no phone. Hanoi Harry's crew cannot raise enough of a signal with their service to call on theirs. Hanoi Harry says they'll give me a ride to a restaurant about thirty miles away where I can use a pay phone. Ben say's he'll keep an eye on my truck. I say OK.

I ride in the cab of the truck, as befits a guest. Hanoi Harry drives with his arm around his girlfriend, and a cute little Latina in a halter & cutoffs cuddles up next to me.

We head to the back of a restaurant called The Black Dragon. A number of fellow pygmies are feeding a couple of homeless people. Hanoi Harry says it's not safe for an outsider to go in through the back door, so I go in through the front door. When I'm in the restaurant I call my backup, who are now about 50 miles from me since they're north of Ben and I'm south. The restaurant looks like a cross between your typical Thai restaurant and an indoor jungle.

Later, I will learn that A-cell sent two guys in a pickup to get me. It had a flat along the way. So I sit, the only Anglo in an otherwise empty restaurant, for 91 minutes. It's the sort of restaurant where you are not sure if the meat they serve is pork or something other, like cats or dogs or worse. I'm the only guy with normal teeth and no visible tattoos.

It is the longest 91 minutes of my life. I have been in firefights that were less stressful. I buy the pygmies a round of drinks, and get some surprisingly good food, bak-mak-something. I spend the entire time convinced that within seconds, its going to turn to shit and I am going to get blown away (or fatally knifed) because the idiots I agreed to help could not plan a basic operation.

Help finally arrives. The recording is perfect, and A-cell wraps things up. People end up in prison. I will never, ever do even the most minor undercover work again.

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