- Author: Allan Leverone
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© 2021 by Allan Leverone
Cover design by Elderlemon Design
All rights reserved as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. No part of this publication may be used, reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the written permission of the author, except where permitted by law, or in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents, some of which may be based in part on actual names, characters, places and incidents, either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is unintended and entirely coincidental.
First eBook edition: 2021
June 13, 1988
Marine Technix Corporation Research Facility
Carson Limington rose from behind his desk and stretched. Checked his watch and then stretched again. It was Friday night and he was exhausted.
He was always tired at the end of a long week supervising the swing shift in the lab, and tonight was no exception. He could barely keep his eyes open, and that surprised Carson, because he was so nervous he thought he might just puke. His hands were shaking, and catching his breath was turning out to be a more problematic exercise than he’d ever experienced. It felt almost as though he’d sprinted the length of the facility three or four times before entering the lab.
It didn’t seem to Carson that he should be feeling exhausted and jittery at the same time, but what the hell. Maybe this was to be expected.
He had no way of knowing.
He’d never committed treason before.
Two events had occurred within days of each other last month that had led to this moment. Those events had seemingly been unrelated, but perhaps not.
As far as Carson was concerned, the first event was the last straw in his steadily deteriorating relationship with Marine Technix Corporation: he’d been bypassed—again—for promotion to lab manager. Not only had he not gotten the job, he’d been leapfrogged by goddamn Scott Pomerantz, who’d been with the company only seven years to Carson’s ten, and who would be rising not just one but two rungs on the corporate ladder from his current position as Assembly Manager.
It wasn’t fair. In fact, it was more than just unfair. It was a slap in the face and a total repudiation of Carson’s decade of dedication to Marine Technix. Sure, he’d had some problems recently. Between Sherrie leaving him and all the credit card debt he’d built up over the last couple of years, Carson would be the first to admit he’d been somewhat less than attentive to his duties at work recently.
But still, Scott Carson?
It was total bullshit. It was indefensible.
And then the second event had occurred, two or three days after Carson’s rocky meeting with Marine Technix General Manager Gordon Saunders regarding the promotion debacle. He couldn’t exactly pin down the timing, because those first few days immediately following the shock and disappointment of being passed over were mostly a blur of alcohol, tears and explosive anger.
Carson had really been counting on the hefty pay raise that would have accompanied promotion as the means to escape his money problems, which had been building for months. The fact of the matter was he now had no idea how he would pay all the creditors at a time when they were becoming increasingly hostile and aggressive.
The prospect of forking over alimony to Sherrie every month was looming on the horizon as well.
Carson had responded to the stress by drinking. He would start out with a couple of nips during the second half of his shift at Marine Technix—fuck them, anyway—and then really kick it into high gear at The Crow’s Nest, a dingy dive bar favored by locals that offered perfect positioning by Carson’s way of thinking: it was located exactly halfway between the Marine Technix research lab and Carson’s apartment, thereby lowering the risk of a drunk driving arrest to a reasonable level.
He’d been slouched over a corner table in the Nest, drinking Jack and Coke and scowling in the general direction of the tiny dance floor for no particular reason other than the goddamned dancers seemed way too happy, when an impeccably dressed older man had entered the bar and moved straight as an arrow to Carson’s table.
Carson ignored him at first. Obviously either the man thought Carson was someone else or he was selling something, and in either circumstance Carson didn’t want to be bothered. He simply wanted to sit in the dark and get blackout drunk.
But the man cleared his throat loudly enough to be heard above the din of George Thorogood and the Destroyers’ “One Bourbon, One Shot and One Beer,” no small feat in itself. Then he addressed Carson. By name.
“Excuse me, Mr. Limington,” he said. “I do not mean to interrupt the good time you are clearly having, but I was wondering if I might have a word with you.” The words were understandable, but the man spoke with an obvious foreign accent that Carson recognized but could not place. It sounded vaguely cartoonish to him.
“Go away,” Carson mumbled.
The man pulled out a chair and sat, undeterred.
Carson drew his gaze away from the dance floor and looked the guy up and down. He was dressed like an insurance salesman inside a bar where jeans and t-shirts were the order of the day. His impeccably combed silver hair was long, reaching nearly to his shoulders, making him look like the world’s oldest teenager. Still, he exuded authority. He struck Carson as someone accustomed to getting his way.
In that sense, he reminded Carson of Gordon Saunders. That particular comparison