Matthew Cordele Walked Into The Captains’ Club Lounge on the top floor of the Captain Cook Hotel to have breakfast and read his Wall Street Journal. Cordele was in his mid-thirties, had well- groomed blond hair, blue eyes, a clear complexion, and movie-star looks. People always seemed to smile at him as he went by, wondering if they knew him, or why he looked familiar. He would smile back, a wide, perfectly aligned flash of quick brilliance that meant nothing to him and everything to those he smiled at, as they wondered again who he might be.
Cordele had been born with natural good looks, a love for fine things, and a knack for getting what he wanted for nothing. He was a great con man—he had done a stint in the US Army in Logistics and had been forced out over unproven accusations of supplies being diverted to his own uses. Cordele could have fought his release, but he knew there were too many other things that could have come up in his trial.
Matthew Cordele was in Anchorage, Alaska, using his cover as a logistics consultant to oversee a mission in the Arctic—a mission that was to make him a lot of money. His main concern was that the people hired to do the mission, hired for their expertise, were not getting along. He’d been sent to Anchorage to sort things out before anything got out of hand. They were supposed to meet him tomorrow on their flight back from the high Arctic.
His cell phone vibrated, and Cordele looked down at the message. He realized he was too late: his main contact reported that he had been required to “eliminate” the two technicians, as they were about to blow the mission. He dropped his Wall Street Journal, patted his lips with a napkin, and went back to his room, where he dialed the number of his boss in Seattle. He had never seen his boss—had been hired by him over the phone and was given missions by him over the phone—and his voice always unnerved him. This voice ordered Cordele to places like Singapore, Hong Kong, or Dubai to ensure clients secured favorable contracts for their companies, and if things stood in their way, then Cordele hired the necessary forces to remove obstacles. “Remove” could mean blackmail or death. And Cordele’s bank account grew.
The call was answered on the second ring. “Go ahead,” said the voice on the other end of the line. Cordele was never sure of the age of the voice; it was male, deep, self-assured, never a sign of excitement.
“We’ve hit a snag at the Arctic Oil Camp,” Cordele said. He hurried to explain. “Our contact sent me a text stating the two technicians were about to blow the mission and reveal the intent to Arctic Oil. It seems they wanted to expose our operation for a million dollars. He took them both out.” Cordele noticed he was sweating. His upper lip was moist; he wiped it with his cotton handkerchief as he awaited a reply.
“Did they put the devices in place?” the voice asked with no inflection.
“Yes, everything is in place, and my operative has the controls.” Cordele sat down on the couch in his room. He could sense where the conversation would go.
“Good, what about our other target, the one on the Beach?” the voice asked.
“I have a report it’s ready as well.”
“The other two technicians will have to be removed as well. Do this immediately, before the news reaches them—and before the news reaches McAllen.” The voice in Seattle hung up.
It’s that simple, Cordele thought. Two more people would have to die for him and his boss to make the massive amount of money they were about to make on this mission. The Beach was the code name for Fort McMurray, Alberta, home of the largest deposit of oil, sitting in something called tar sands, in North America. Their devices were meant to sabotage the flow of oil from the tar sands and from Alaska.
Two people had died that morning, and two more were about to die somewhere in Canada as well. To Cordele, death and money were commerce. Sometimes one just had to be traded for the other, especially when it benefited him.
His next phone call was to his counterpart in Fort McMurray, John Parsons, a man similar in age to himself but a large, strapping Newfoundlander with red hair, freckles, and smile that spoke of bad dentistry and too much rum and coke.
“What’s up?” Parsons asked.
Cordele quickly filled Parsons in on the situation in Alaska and the command from their boss. They shared the same sense of unease about the boss. Failure was never an option.
Parsons spoke quickly. “Look, they let me know they installed the last device, and our man has the controls. They’re out near the tar ponds now. He could do them there . . . hide the bodies . . . know what I mean?”
“You Canadians, always the efficient ones... let me know when it’s done,” Cordele said. He put away his phone and headed back to the Captains’ Lounge to have breakfast. The morning’s work had made him hungry.
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