Was I a little off or weird? Well, yeah. Who wasn’t in their own way? But I didn’t deserve the death penalty. And neither did Ace, in the beginning. My name is Frank Baker. And being a bus driver is a good cover. The truth of the matter, I’ve had various jobs. I was prior military. Air Force right out of high school. I graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in English and a minor in psychology. If you would have known me during my younger years you would realize it was a long way from my grades in high school. Hey, I decided to get my act together.
The agency was not something I considered when I was younger. It never crossed my mind when asked by career counselors in tenth grade what career I would like to go into and therefore focus my classes on, even after learning I could choose various careers. A career with the C.I.A. the armed services or any form of law enforcement never made the list.
But here I am an agent with central intelligence posing as far as my family knows as a bus driver. Black pants, white shirt driving to the bus company where I would collect a coach bus and drive to an unmarked building, where if necessary, I could change to any government vehicle and transport some of the world’s most dangerous captured spies to courthouses, prisons, tarmacs, landing pads or hospitals.
I was new to the agency and these were my assignments. I was a bottom feeder. And granted it wasn’t sexy. But it was a living. And I chose it. I could always walk away. Nobody was forcing me to stay with the agency. I had traveled to various places around the world. So to see exotic locales was a non-issue. I had been to Rome, Italy, New York and Sydney, the Carribean, and Kenya and would add to that list. But for now, I would learn from the experience of being a C.I.A. agent, albeit a newbie but an agent none-the-less.
So that’s my story. And yes my birth name is Frank Baker, but I haven’t used that name since I left the Air Force. After not much persuasion, I decided to join the C.I.A. I became Keenan Cress. I did start out simply transporting agents and later captured spies. But then those simple transports or pickups and dropoffs became extended assignments. Those assignments ranged from protection between transport for two to four hours to protection for two to four days.
Most of the time the excursions throughout the country were uneventful. I would drive a simple agency sedan a short distance around the Atlanta metro area or accompany the accused) or witness(es) to various locations throughout the east coast corridor or covering Maine to Miami.
Most witnesses to crimes, as well as, the accused were cooperative. We. or me and my partner, Rochelle--not her real name, of course, and the men and women we were escorting would have conversations about everything from the spirit realm to sports. This line of conversation went on with the accused, along with the witnesses. We never spoke of any case they were involved in. We never wanted it to be said later on that we attempted to influence a witness, or showed bias toward an accused.
Innocent until proven guilty. But never become so comfortable with the persons we were protecting and transporting that we forget that we walk a fine line of a scenario that can turn dangerous in an instant. No one can be trusted. Not even your own partner. We lie for a living. It’s who we are. It’s how we survive. Everyone has a breaking point. Everyone has a point to where they will sell out there fellow man or woman for material possessions or in the end...wealth, riches, material possessions or some form of currency.
For example. That previous partner of mine...I’ll stick to his nickname of Ace, loved to play cards or gamble in any fashion. He loved the casinos, the environment, the food, the bells and whistles, the perks, the pace of the place. If it had anything to do with the glitz, glam, and adrenaline of beating the house he had to be there. Until, as everyone does, he went on a losing streak and tried to win it all back the same night.
He fell deeper and deeper. His fall from grace was hard and fast. And then he came up with the master plan. He would make a deal with a prisoner he and his new partner were transporting. Ace would give the location of the witness that would be testifying against the accused and the route to the airport, the witness and the escorts would be traveling, the flight number and the true route and type of vehicle the witness and agents would be traveling from the airport after they landed. The undisclosed location was not fifteen minutes away from the airport.
True. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. But sometimes some accused are actually guilty. Guilty after the first trial and guilty on appeal. The accused in this case was not someone to attempt to bribe, bargain with or trust.
Ace did surface background work on the accused in this case. As he did on a number of cases looking for a big payday, looking for someone to hustle, looking to wheel and deal. With this hustle he was back in the casino. His hands clasped firmly around the dice, his cards held close to his chest sure they were tops at the table, the spinning roulette pumping adrenaline and fueling his fire. The thrill of betting against the house. He would win this time. But the house always has the edge; a principle of betting. Even then sometimes the bettor still wins. And wins big. And that was the thrill.
But sometimes the bettor knows when it’s time to walk away, to fold, to let it go. He who fights and runs away…but not Ace. He had lost big. Bested in the betting game and couldn’t stand to lose. He needed to walk away. His need for the accolades, his need to win among the bright lights, his need to feel the rush crushed his need for normalcy. At least in the short term.
Common sense, that still small voice no doubt whispered to him: “To have a federal witness murdered and try to make it look like a random homicide is lunacy.” There were too many people involved and there’s always that same voice informing you that no matter what you do test every spirit. Or “trust no one” to put it in layman terms.
Ace was sure that after he had planned and executed the murder of the witness, he was now a part of the accused crew. A crew that operated in the theft of almost 622 million dollars in cryptocurrency, identity theft, check fraud, bitcoin theft, and insider trading. If he had followed his instincts he would have dug a little deeper, Maintained surveillance on everyone involved. He would have come to the conclusion that someone involved was already working a plan similar to his.
When Ace got the death penalty, he lashed out at everyone. And everyone means friends of his in the agency that knew nothing of his plan and had nothing to do with it. My name, Frank Baker, my birth name was thrown in the fray along with the true names of many agents close to Ace. Agents undercover in various places in the country and around the world were put in immediate danger along with their families. If I didn’t get the death penalty for being falsely accused and convicted for my involvement in the murder of a federal witness, I would have been likely murdered by those who found out I was a spy.
Cooler heads prevailed. The judge in the case made sure no one’s personal information was released to anyone. The focus remained on the crime and the prosecution of anyone who was accused of committing theft and murder. But as usual, my family had no idea what I was going through, nor how much danger lurked at our doorstep.