20

It was a call unlike any Dad O’Rourke ever had received. Distant, despite the wizardry of 21st century communications, her/his voice (sans video) sounded remote, and, due to encryption, was practically untraceable. Know your client’s name, location, and bar code before accepting work'—was a simple rule O’Rourke had seldom failed to follow, regretting the rare occasions when curiosity had brushed aside common sense. Like now. Though he would not be out of pocket. His up-front fee plus a month of projected expenses already had been deposited in his account. The job description, too, had been efficiently delivered: facts tersely conveyed in a clear, straightforward manner, nothing extraneous, a routine 'seek and find,' as opposed to 'seek and destroy' which would have cost "Jeanne Claude" a damned sight more compensation. Or Jean Claude; the caller could have been a he as easily as a she, so resonant were the tones Dad’s PC recorded:

"Mr. O’Rourke…"

Velvety, as from vocal chords relaxed by a slug of Irish whiskey.

"…very glad am I that we have come to agreeable terms…"

Definitely not an American; Franco-Indeterminate, based on the nom de plume and accent.

"…You will please report via email to the following address…"

Cultured, judging by syntax and enunciation.

"…s r y me at JEANNE CLAUDE dot e t dot net…"

Used to being obeyed, or at least treated with deference.

"…Daily, if you would be so kind, by no later than midnight, your Time..."

Mature, if young in years.

"...Number each correspondence and expect a brief confirmation."

Multi-lingual; a guess; proficient, nonetheless, in English—O’Rourke’s one-and-only tongue.

And that was it. No words of encouragement; no goodbye. What, therefore, had O’Rourke found so extraordinary? Nothing that had been said; it was all between the lines.

 

The man who you are to find is, or was named, Stuyvesant Fink. Twenty-four years ago he was a graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of
     Technology. His major was bioengineering. He was also employed during this period at Brigham And Women’s Hospital as an intern researcher and laboratory technician. His studies and employment were abruptly curtailed sometime in April of the aforementioned period under questionable circumstances. Inquiries I have made suggest a scandal of some sort may have occasioned Mr. Fink’s departure from both institutions, neither of which will disclose illuminating details.

In locating this individual, I assume you will have to discover pertinent information about his past.
     Please include these facts in your reports. Once Mr. Fink has been sited, you are to verify his address, living situation, and occupation—documenting all with digital photographs you will send—without his being aware of your activities.

If further assistance is required, you will be notified.

A need-to-know arrangement, if ever he had accepted one. The client’s motive, evidently, was not to be divulged. Fine. Made matters less complicated. Less banal, no doubt, if he were dealing with the usual jilted mistress or abandoned housewife or illegitimate child of some deadbeat dad. Though this particular client was probably none of the above. None of O’Rourke’s concern, for that matter; the subject was Mister Fink.

Still, 'who wanted to know and why' drew the private eye's attention like the tip of a worried tongue to a newly broken tooth.

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