Chapter 8 Page 2 of 5

I hesitated but called the number Lisa had given me. Mr. Levinski answered on the second ring. His European accent was noticeable immediately. He sounded as if he was probably in his 30’s. I introduced myself as a friend of Ms. Cryer’s. I said that she had asked me to contact him on her behalf. He sounded nervous and seemed anxious to end the conversation quickly (I had called him at work). He was, however, ready to talk to me and we arranged to meet down at the lake-front that evening at 6:00.

That afternoon I took the bus to the Aquarium and walked north along Lake Michigan to the fountain where we had agreed to meet. It was a pleasant evening. The forecast had warned of rain later in the night but there was no signs of it. The water was bright blue. Stunning. There were boats sprinkled over the surface, some small and some large. I passed by a couple of fishermen sitting at the edge of the water. As I neared the spot where Mr. Levinski and I had agreed to meet I slowed down and studied the pedestrians. Rudy Levinski had described himself over the phone as a dark-haired man in his late 30’s wearing a grey suit and yellow tie. I didn’t see anybody that fit that description. I looked at my watch — it was 6:15. I was fifteen minutes late. Could he have left already? I walked over closer to the street. There were many people, some appeared to be waiting for a rendez-vous, but nobody fit the description I had been given. Then, suddenly I saw him. He was walking up to me at a rapid clip, having seen me before I saw him. He was slightly plump. He was short and wore glasses. The frames of his glasses were thick black plastic and seemed too wide for his face. This, combined with the strength of the prescription, made his glasses quite prominent. His forehead glistened with sweat. He looked very uncomfortable as he extended his hand and introduced himself. He motioned toward the lake and we strolled to the water’s edge as we talked.

He claimed to be working in the Electronic Commerce department of First Chicago Trust. The Electronic Commerce department is mainly EFT work, he said. His title was that of Security Technician. His job was to operate the EFT system and take part in incident response actions, meaning that he was responsible for detecting and repairing any problems caused by hackers. Needless to say his entire group was right in the thick of things and feeling a lot of heat.

I listened carefully and tried to guess what he knew of my involvement. I could not detect any animosity or bitterness in his demeanor and concluded that Lisa had not told him about my experiments. Good. I would keep it that way, at least for the time being.

“I had hoped to speak directly to Ms. Cryer,” said Levinski. “I may have some information that would be useful to her. As an employee of the bank I am aware of some aspects of this case which may still be a mystery to the authorities. However, forgive me, I must be careful who I approach on this matter. Ms. Cryer appears to me to be an innocent victim. I too am a victim of sorts. If she and I can pool our information we may be able to extricate ourselves from this matter.”

His English was far better than his accent would lead one to expect. He spoke slowly and crisply, carefully enunciating every word. His hands remained clasped behind his back and he stared out across the water as he spoke. He made eye contact only occasionally. The perspiration on his brow was heavier now. He spoke so coolly and calmly yet looked so hot and uncomfortable.

“We can help each other, she and I. By trading information…” he stopped, saying nothing for a while. We stood in silence. When he did speak again, it was with the same slow and deliberate delivery.

“Working through a liaison tends to make communication less efficient. In a delicate matter such as this — and I assure you this is delicate — it is perhaps better to meet face-to-face. No?”

OK, I got the picture. He saw me as a representative for Lisa and he wanted to talk to the real thing. I was an obstruction. I didn’t respond immediately. I slowly panned the surrounding area judging all the passers-by. Nobody appeared the least bit interested in us and nobody was within ear-shot.

Could I trust him? Did I have a choice? Lisa had already decided that he and I would have to work together or alone, but not with her. So far I had been unable to make much headway on my own. If he really was a bank employee and really was directly involved with EFT’s and security, then he would be a valuable ally. But could I count on him as an ally? He might turn me in to the authorities the moment he learned what I had done. He had hoped to talk to a woman he viewed as an innocent victim not a person who had helped facilitate the thefts.

“I’m not merely a liaison,” I began. He turned slightly in my direction but said nothing. His expression was politely inquisitive. A small smile formed on his lips and he raised one eyebrow.