zingmagazine10 autumn 1999







about zing


8 poets making it new
generation z
lutwidge finch
the back of beyond

“I’m okay. Thanks. May I please speak to Mo?”

“He’s sleeping. Is it important?”

“Yes it is. Very.”

“I’ll go and wake him. Hang on.”

Suddenly I became angry. “Here I am taking all the risks, getting arrested with these women, and MO’s sleeping! Just perfect!” I ranted inside my head.

“Hello . . . Mel?” MO came on with a drowsy voice.

“Hi, I’ll dispense with ‘the eagle’ because it has two broken wings.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Boy, those were some women you found.”

“What do you mean? What happened?”

“Well, while we were waiting to board the flight to Newark, Isabel said that she had excruciating pain on her right side. She could not stand and collapsed on the floor.”

“What was wrong?”

“Appendicitis attack. An ambulance crew arrived, made the diagnosis, and we all went to the hospital. When we got there, Maria started crying, ‘she’s going to die, she’s going to die.’ I finally calmed her. What a fiasco!”

“Are you coming tonight?”

“No. They’re keeping her for lab tests and whatever. Maria and I will stay in a hotel, but regardless what happens to Isabel, I’m coming home tomorrow.”

“What a mess.”

“Yeah, it certainly is. And all because you wanted to use two virgin couriers. For what reason I don’t know.”

“What’s done is done. Is everything else alright?”

“Yes, the two ‘eggs’ are intact. I don’t know what flight we’ll catch tomorrow morning. I’ll call you at the office from the airport.”

“Okay. I’ll wait for your call. Good night.”

“Good night. See you tomorrow.”

“Insha’ Allah.”

“Insha’ Allah.”

The first phase of the controlled delivery was completed, but there was no way I could feel good about what I had just done. My only comfort was the thought that if MO was in my place he would have done the same thing.

I felt bad, and Tom made me feel even worse because I knew he didn’t trust me. There was no reason he should, but I felt the need to have his respect, if not his trust. I knew he didn’t trust me because I saw the way he listened to the playback of the phone call I had with Mo. Tom, the diligent inspector, listened to the tape carefully a few times to see if there was any warning code I had given Mo. He didn’t find any because there was none there. Still, he looked at me skeptically.

I felt that I had done enough to warrant his trust. I was too tired to put any more effort into my attempt to cooperate with Tom.

Before I knew it, we were on the move again. This time four Customs agents, Tom and me boarded a late flight to La Guardia Airport in New York City. The plane landed at 11:30 pm in New York. Our little party was met by two agents from the New York Customs office and we all went over to the Hyatt Hotel. It is located just outside the airport proper. They did not check in, but went directly upstairs. The seven agents and myself were billeted in two adjoining rooms.
I took a hot shower and went bed.

They seemed to be taking a lot of precautions with so many agents. It was like they were guarding some precious cargo. It would have been nice to think that they were looking out for me. The reality, I believe, is that I was second in priority to the vests packed with heroin, 7.2 million dollars retail.

The following morning, after doughnuts and coffee in the room, we drove into Manhattan. We proceeded to the Twin Towers, the location of the main office in New York of the United States Customs Service. I was introduced to Peter Noonan, agent-in-charge, and Jack Conti, his second-in-command. Peter gave me an overview of the delivery procedure. I felt like I was going to school, taking a class with Peter as my instructor. I felt if I did not learn my lesson, things would not go well for me.

I listened with all that I had in me. I knew that after all this instruction there was going to be a test I had to pass with flying colors. If not . . .
I didn’t even want to think about failure. That was just not an option.

“You will wear a ‘wire’ while you bring the carry-on containing the vests to the travel agency office on 34th street,” Peter told me. “The agents will listen to you and MO talking through the concealed wire. When MO has incriminated himself to our satisfaction and taken possession of the heroin, we will break in and arrest him.”

Then he asked me to draw a floor plan of the office. I did this with a pen Peter gave me. The next thing they asked me to do, was call MO at the office. Once more, a listening device and tape recorder were attached to the phone.

I gave Peter the office phone number and he punched in the digits.