Two days after I got back from Europe, there was another early morning knock on the frat house door.
Graham pulled me out of bed, fuming, “Dude, you gotta stop these people bugging us at the house this early. I need my beauty sleep.”
Now, Graham doesn’t need beauty sleep any more than Albert Finny, but he was right. I wasn’t even sure how Victor got my address now that I’d come to think of it.
When I’d dragged myself to the door and opened it, it was neither Andre nor Victor. Instead, the man standing in front of me looked like Ving Rhames with a big old bald dome of a head. His tone was as flat as his boring, gray suit.
“Alex Sheffield?” he asked in a bass voice.
“Yeah,” I said, sleepily, not really understanding what was going on, “Agent Bestroff, DEA. You need to come with me.”
I’m not afraid to admit that I nearly shat a brick. My ears must have been bright red, and my knees had started knocking a little. I would’ve been embarrassed at my lack of composure had I not been too scared shitless to care.
“Am I under arrest or something?” I asked.
Bestroff raised an eyebrow and spoke with a Mississippi drawl, “Do you wanna be?”
He loaded me into his Tahoe, and we drove to a brutalist, kakhi-colored building in the center of downtown. He took me through security and escorted me into an interview room on the sixth floor. Bestroff didn’t say a word to me til he’d settled across from me in an Emeco chair.
“Why do you think you’re here?” asked Bestroff. He ran a hand across his bald head.
I shrugged and remained mute.
Bestroff stood and left the room. A moment later he reentered with a folder, which he flopped disinterestedly on the table in front of me. I opened it and looked inside to find a stack of photos.
Riding in the truck with Andre. Victor and I at the hotel. Victor and I at the airport. Even on the freaking airplane.
“We’ve got all the audio too,” said Bestroff, “You’re a very good tutor.”
For the first time, Bestroff cracked a smile. He knew he had me in a position to squirm.
“I want a lawyer,” was all I said.
Bestroff started to laugh, “Look Alex, you little shit. I don’t care about you, and I sure as well don’t want to waste my time charging you. No, I want Victor, and I want his associates. All of ‘em. And you’re going to help me get them.”
I was still freaking out a bit, but Bestroff’s tone was reassuring. He continued, “And if you don’t want to help, I’m going to approach your school, your frat; hell, I’m gonna have a talk with your parents. I’ve got enough to jail you, but even if I didn’t, I love dealing with spoiled college kids. People like you are always scared and always have too much to lose.”
He had me pegged. I’m not afraid to admit it. And I sure as hell didn’t want my dad involved in this. I’d never hear the end of it.
I just nodded, “What do you want me to do?”
Bestroff cracked another huge smile, “We’re gonna start small. You’re gonna sign some papers. We’ll have a chat. And then we’re gonna all get back to work.”
Bestroff held out a hand across the table, “Welcome to the team, asshole.”
Two hours later, Bestroff escorted me out the building and made me walk back home past the Varsity. In my pocket I carried a little usb drive, but it weighed on me like a brick.
“When Victor’s not looking, pop it in his laptop for five seconds, then remove it. That’s all you’ve got to do,” he’d said, “We’ll log all his communications after that.”
It was a simple task, but those five seconds could get me killed. By the time I’d made it back to the house, the stress was palpable. And that was before I saw Andre leaning against his car door outside the front of the house. I was shitting so many bricks today, I could’ve built a pyramid out of them.