I'm short on time, so this is gonna be fast. It's just the beginning of my story.
It is often the case, said a certain metropolitan philosopher, the people with resources lack skills, and the people with skills lack resources. It's a classic case of `you've got the brains, I've got the looks`: one invariably needs the other to get an edge, to get a foothold in society. I'm the middle-man, because I've got some skills and some resources, a social engineer if you will. I'm connected to both the street and the penthouse but I don't belong to either's tribes.
An idea of the kind of thing I do: I get a call from a certain veep needing personal intel on the Waterworks CEO, Mister Sterling. I follow him around for a few days, see him scribbling in an archaic notebook a few times. He passes a stationery shop every day. I go in and find Sterling's exact model of notebook: dark green, the color of a ledger, but pocket-size (A6-ish), narrow-ruled. I browse the pens, try to guess what he'd go for, settle on a PARKER with black gel ink, 0.7mm, a red casing though color doesn't matter. Now I've got to fill the pages.
I scribble mindless things, describe the scene in Barlow Park where Sterling eats his packed lunch alone, basic fare, the old men playing chess al fresco, the juvenile element, the nannies pushing prams. The little book has 80 pages and his looks like it's half filled. I write something about Amalfi, something about Jenn, a letter to the Scholnicks, about a dream I had two nights ago. Okay, I've got forty little pages of random ink, a double of Sterling's - whatever it is.
Down to the boardwalk at Little Venezia. I've got an old wallet, empty except for a $20 and a note to the pickpocket. All day on Saturday walking up and down flashing the wallet at market stalls, leave it hanging out of my butt pocket stupidly until I feel something and it's gone. Back at home watching the game hours later she calls. I tell her what I need and how much I'm paying and where to meet.
Monday morning I take the Saab back to LV and fetch my little helper. We munch hoagies from a lunch wagon while waiting for Sterling to emerge from Waterworks' glass and steel tower as per usual. There, I say. She slips into the crowd of penguins; from the steps of the Fed I have a pretty good view of the action. She closes in as he reaches the crosswalk opposite the park and starts calling "Jimmy...Daisy...Jimmy!" She bumps him - "Sorry" - and darts like a cat across the street and through a knot of trees into the park.
I follow the mark to his spot. I watch him eat, watch him watch a couple playing frisbee with their golden retriever. He folds away the wrappings, pulls the notebook from his jacket pocket in a leisurely self-assured way, but then...he looks around in every direction, stands up and turns around 360 degrees. He rifles the pages of notebook. From my vantage point under the trees I watched thoughts and feelings cross his face like clouds across the moon. I felt his confusion, shock, grief, anger. A man of his age and stature, he hadn't felt these things since some long time ago. It was like the sudden death of a family member.
I met up with the kid where I'd parked the Saab. She made me pay up before handing over the notebook, but I made her show me the pages inside to make sure it wasn't my doppleganger, which of course it wasn't. After ice cream at the Park Pavilion Cafe we drove back to the boardwalk, my accomplice. I gave her an extra $20 and a burner phone in case I needed her skills again. "So long, Jackie." Jackie? As good a name as any, I suppose.
"Wait," I said. "What do I call you? Kid?"
She thought about it. "Kid, kidney, knee, me, fee. Fiona!" Fiona scampered off.
"But that's an Irish name," I said to no one.
Alone then, at the edge of the land and the city at sunset, it was as good a place as any to find out what was in Sterling's notebook.