Chapter 9 Page 3 of 5

He wasn’t circling the block; he was waiting for us instead. I hesitated for only an instant as we rounded the corner and saw the car parked there. Lisa didn’t say anything but let out a soft whistle under her breath.

“Now what?” she asked.

“Don’t stop. Keep walking.”

I didn’t want the driver to know that we had noticed him. Not that he seemed to be too concerned. He made no effort to feign some other purpose for being there other than to watch us. I tried my best to look him over as we went by without appearing to do just that. I had Lisa walk beside me, between the car and me, so that I could look beyond her and at the driver, all the while pretending to be involved in an animated conversation. For his part, the driver simply sat there and stared at us as we went by. Is this the way the FBI conducts surveillance? Or was it somebody other than the FBI? The CIA? NSA? I certainly didn’t have any experience dealing with spooks and had no basis for even trying to determine which agency he might be from. But I had no doubt that he was a spook of some sort. The latest discovery of inside shenanigans meant I could no longer take any of this lightly. With such rampant corruption there would be plenty of blame to spread around and, innocent or not, I was bound to have some of that blame thrown my way. I was convinced that executives at First Chicago were already setting up Lisa to be a scapegoat.

As we neared the carry-out place at the end of the block the blue car passed us again. This time it slid into an empty parking spot along the curb in front of us. At the same time, a city bus pulled up to the bus-stop directly in front of the Chinese place. I turned to glance behind us. Uh oh. Two men in dark suits were following us, and walking faster than we were. I didn’t like this. I grabbed Lisa’s elbow and broke into a run. Lisa kept up with my pace easily, matching me stride for stride.

“Where are we going?” she asked. “Not the carry-out place.”

“See that bus stopped up ahead? Do you think we can get there before it leaves?”

“No problem,” she said as she sped up.

I sprinted at full speed, leaving Lisa behind. Just so long as one of us got to the bus-stop in time, that person could hold the bus for the other. I pumped my arms and tried to control my breathing as I willed myself to move faster. I heard the doors on the bus close as I drew nearer. I was still fifty feet away. Thick black exhaust belched out of the back as the bus began to crawl away from the curb. Thirty feet away now. The bus shifted gears. Weather it was from first gear to second or second to third I don’t know. Slowly, between belches and roars, it picked up speed. Very slowly; it wasn’t moving fast yet. I ran up along side the filthy vehicle and beat on the glass doors with my fist. The driver turned with a startled look on her face and hit the brakes. Moments later the door opened and I stumbled up the steps.

“Thanks,” I panted, “there’s another person on her way.”

“No problem,” replied the driver. She was an overweight woman with curly blonde hair and weiging about 250 pounds. She had an amused smirk on her face; she probably doesn’t get such over zealous passengers on her bus very often. Lisa trotted up the steps moments later.

Nervously I looked out the windows as the bus once again began to accelerate. We weren’t out of trouble yet. Our pursuers were running toward the bus. It seemed an eternity as the bus labored to pick up speed, seemingly coming to a near stop each time the driver stepped on the clutch to shift up a gear. But we did eventually get away safely without incident.

Beside me Lisa was panting only lightly and, unlike me, was not sweating in the least. I tried to convince myself that this was only because I had been the one to run ahead, running hard.

We quickly revised our dinner plans. Lisa suggested we go to Sid’s again. We changed buses three times before finally reaching what I now was convinced was Lisa’s frequent watering hole. We were again shown a table by Maria. I found it hard to relax and when the waitress came to take our order a few moments later I realized that I’d been looking at the menu without actually reading it. To disguise my lack of concentration I quickly ordered the swordfish, the same dish I’d had last time. Apparently this wasn’t good enough to fool Lisa.

“That car really got to you, huh?” she asked.