Suitcase in hand, you head to the station. You've just closed the door to the sweet airy cottage that has been your home for the past two months, you sigh, and think to yourself, did you make sure there were no remnants of your stay or scraps of paper that may indicate your next destination.
The cab maneuvered through narrow beach streets and road construction in Old Saybrook Connecticut heading to I-95 for New Haven. You were relieved that the cabby was too busy critiquing other drivers to pay attention to you. You check your appearance in the cab's rearview mirror. Your blond wig is fitted properly and your tortoiseshell Coach sunglasses cover your face. Incognito for sure!
You open your laptop and begin to mindlessly type loudly to feign "too busy to talk", just in the event the cabby tries to get chatty. You want no conversation during the 45-minute drive to the train station. You have two burner phones in your bag and decided one could be used as a prop, if the typing doesn't work to dissuade small talk. During the bumpy ride through the streets of New Haven made you question the wisdom of your decision six months ago; that took your ordinary life, to the extraordinary and dangerous.
You've already spoken to your handlers and know you are headed to Ithaca, New York where you will be met and taken to your final destination, Watkins Glen. It's a small finger lake town in New York. You are to be located near Lafayette Park about a block from Seneca Lake. Jolting along in the backseat of the cab, you've Googled Watkins Glen to find out that it is known for auto racing and apparently a famous NASCAR Racetrack. It makes sense you've been placed in this little upstate town, not likely to bump shoulders with anyone who would recognize you. It looks like a lovely old town. Growing up in the sleepy coastal lowcountry town of Georgetown, South Carolina, the 3rd oldest town in the south, you are used to small town charm but you also realize townies are very nosey. You decide, that you'll become an unpublished author searching for a quiet peaceful place to write your "Great American Novel". That'll be your cover. It's summer so you won't have to deal with the infamous harsh upstate New York winters that you've heard about. At least you hope you will be gone by then.
It's surreal that your life has been reduced to one suitcase, a laptop, two burner phones and an oversized purse. Six months ago, life evaporated as you knew it, the minute you walked through security at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue into the office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation with a flash drive in your bag from your accounting firm.
Your dream of living in Georgetown in Washington, DC rather than Georgetown, South Carolina, was realized in less than a year after you graduated from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. You couldn't believe your luck, as there were so many other talented young accountants applying for the same position. This was one of the most prestigious and prominent accounting and law firms in the DC area. That was two years ago.
You were a serious and dedicated employee working long hours hoping to fast track your career with this huge firm. From the outset, and much to your chagrin, you realized there were far too many cubical attorneys and accountants relegated to the mundane. You wanted more and needed to breakout of the mediocrity within the office bureaucracy. You took it upon yourself to take on jobs that were difficult, those assignments no one wanted. Lunchroom gossip shared knowledge of the complicated accounts, those that the partners and decision makers handled with special care. They appointed more seasoned professionals with the task of these government accounts and audits. There was no lock or special confidentiality associated with these accounts other than the usual. Your plan was to surprise the partners with your speedy and exceptional talent, with the hope of promotion.
Delving into the files and confidential correspondence, financials and myriads of paperwork, you were alarmed and frightened by the depth and width of the misallocated funds, fictitious accounts and international corporations that tied back to individuals with the government and this office. You couldn't believe what you were finding, the corruption was overwhelming and shocking. It involved multiple departments within our government, some of the partners of this firm and administrators in other countries who set up dummy corporations. Clearly, you had uncovered a huge scandal, one that would take down many high-powered people when exposed. Now, you were terrified to be discovered in these files. Even if you started out with an innocent desire to be productive, and to showcase your skills, it turned into a clandestine operation to copy and transfer as much documentation as possible and quickly. You couldn't be caught in these files so you had to work after hours. It really wouldn't have presented a problem because the other employees knew you worked long hours since you'd been employed by the firm. But, you were now paranoid, and needed to be extra careful so you took on other projects to provide the comfort of cover, even if no one noticed. The goal was to protect you, to be insulated from the impending scandal.
Your plan had always been to get this information to the proper authority. It most definitely could not be ignored. However, you needed to get the data to the right law enforcement branch of government. Considering the recent FBI scandals, you had a healthy dose of cynicism. That lack of trust caused you to protect yourself. Simultaneously, you special messengered identical information on another flash drive to the office of the Attorney General at the Department of Justice on Fifth Street, in Washington.
You were unprepared for the firestorm that was to take place. You were doing your civic duty by turning over the uncovered corruption within your own company and throughout many offices of our government. You assumed you'd be back at work the next day and that the FBI would investigate and perhaps soon raid the office where you, like other employees would be innocent bystanders. In retrospect, how naive was that?
You were considered a whistleblower and would be a material witness. There was no anonymity. Immediately, you became the enemy, a piranha in DC. Your old friends disappeared along with your dream apartment in Georgetown. The press was unmerciful and the FBI was your constant companion during the hearings on Capitol Hill. The indictments soon followed but you would not be needed to testify in court until sometime in the fall or maybe even next year.
The FBI explained that considering the powerful people involved that it was not safe for you to stay in Washington so they prepared safe houses during this waiting period. The first was in Virginia but your were recognized within the first week. Old Saybrook beach community was beautiful and home was directly on the Sound. It was great until two days ago when the town exploded with summer residents who came from all over the Northeast. Your privacy disappeared when you were recognized at the Town Beach.
You pay the cabby, open your door and with suitcase in hand, begin your new venture to safety in upstate New York and anonymity.