The barely lit cigarette falls from my mouth as I sprint down the street back to the station, stopping every few hundred feet to catch watch my breath. *Wheezing* "it'll take forever to get a cab all the way out here" I thought. 20 minutes later I arrive at the station. Joyce, with her back turned is locking up the building. She turns, looks at me, out of breath and sweating profusely. Horrified she says, "I thought you went home to rest...did you just run here detective?" "Joyce...we got Mr. Gray.." *out of breath* "...its...all connected...him...Global Pala..." "who's Mr. Gray? Detective you really should lie down, you look like hell. When was the last time you slept?" "There's no time to explain, I need to get back into the office". Joyce lets out a subtle gown. "I'll put a pot on for ya" she says while shaking her head. "No you go home Joyce. It's late, I can make the coffee myself". "I'm not THAT old, detective" she replies sheepishly. "Besides, you keep smoking and not resting the way you do and in a couple years you'll look older than me!" I force a smile as she lets me into the building.
Rushing into my office I sift through the files I collected on Global Palate after meeting the mysterious woman while hiking a few months back. Suddenly it hits me, the strange woman was trying to warn us about something. She wanted us to find out about Global palate. *talking out loud to myself* "Where is it? Ah-ha! Here we go, global palate." *skims file out loud* "global palate, farm-to-table...does not use purveyors blah blah blah, grows own livestock and produce for the restaurant. That's how they do it! They skip the middle man and use the meat Mr. Gray was stealing from the grocery store. By getting the meat free global palate keeps labor and overhead low, turning everything into profit!" Joyce returns with a cup of piping hot black coffee. "This goes against my better judgment giving you coffee at this hour because you really need to rest, detective". "I appreciate the concern Joyce, but I'm fine." "Well I won't disturb you", she says before closing the door behind her. *picks up the phone and dials* "Stonewall, were going to dinner undercover tomorrow night...no don't ask questions. I got a big break in the grocery store case. I'm gonna bust this thing wide open and your going to help me". A half hour later Joyce finds me asleep at my desk with an unlit cigarette in my mouth.
In the morning I am startled awake by a hand on my shoulder. It was Leah, a junior detective I recruited last night for the global palate dinner. "What were you talking about last night? Something about an undercover dinner?" "Close the door, I'll fill you in..." *The rest of the station goes about their daily business and I breakdown the case to Stonewall*
That night Stonewall and I drive to Global Palate to check things out. "I'm checking to see if we're being followed. I think we're good for now" I say before sitting back in the passenger seat. "The part that I don't understand is, why Global Palate? They've been doing good business for years" Leah questions. "Yeah...dirty business. Mr. Gray was stealing prime cuts of meat for the restaurant so they could get it for free and sell it all for profit." *Perplexed* "But why?" "That's what we're going to find out..." We drove down a dark, narrow road until Leah spots the sign for the restaurant. "Look! There it is". We pull into a small drive way with a garage and a backyard. "You sure this is the place?", she asks. "It looks more like someone's house than a restaurant." The porch was decorated with white Christmas lights and the main entrance had a red velvet curtain that gave way to the main dining room and bar area. A server approaches and asks if she can help us. "Reservation for two, its under the name Stevenson" "right this way Mr. Stevenson".
After our server discussed the evening specials she handed us a menu before tending to other guests. "Refer to me as Mitch while we're here, ok?", I whisper to Leah. "Mitch Stevenson? That's your cover? You might as well said 'cop' when they asked for a name..." "I don't have all the time in the world to come up with clever undercover reservation names, Leah. Just roll with it! Now order something before we draw attention." *Our server returns* "Have you had a moment to look over the menu?" "Yes we have." I ordered a turkey pot pie and Stonewall ordered a baked ham with potatoes. We agreed to share...to make it look more real.
After we finished eating Leah lowers her head so others won't hear our discussion. *Whispering* "Alright, so he's involved, maybe not. But SHE IS. Lets take this place while Tim Ryan is here!" Leah cocks back the hammer of her gun under the table, "If he's clean he'll see who he's really doing business with; and if he is involved...well that's killing two birds with one stone. Its a win, win!" "Leah, we must be patient, and for chris'sake put that gun away! This thing is bigger than we could have ever imagined. We have to start building a case now. We're only going to get one shot at this thing so we have to make it stick." "If we come out, guns blazing yeah well stir things up, but how long can we hold them? We got nothing on them! They'll walk the next day. Its a chess game Leah" "I don't play, CHESS", she replies sharply. "Alright, its a game of cards. We have the king, but we don't know what they're holding. They could have an ace in the hole." *Confused* "So how do we find out what they have?", Leah asks. "We check, and check, and check, and let them throw all the money in the pot. When its the right time we raise and take the pot!", banging my hands on the table. *Guests look in our direction and our server returns* "Have you decided on dessert?" "We'll just take the check" I reply. "Sure thing, Mr. Hah...Mr. Stevenson. I'm sorry, I must have confused you with someone else..." We pay the bill and I turn the receipt over. *Writes: "Keep up the good work..."* "What are you doing? I thought we were undercover?", Leah inquires. "Did you miss that back there? 'Sure thing Mr. Hahm'? They already know who we are. Ya see? They're starting to reveal their cards already..."
Back at my apartment I start to feel dizzy so I sit in front of the television to clear my head. The room starts spinning, and everything becomes blurry. "They put something in the food" I say to myself. I could just make out a dark figure standing in the doorway before everything went dark....
I awake still feeling dizzy and out of it. "...Where am I?...who...WHO ARE YOU!?". I try to make out anything in the room I may recognize later if I make it out alive. A long silence is broken by the man's voice. "Listen, I'm sorry for the drastic measures here, but I'm here to help. You and your partner are in a lot of shit!" "WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU??" "calm down detective. I'm on your side. For the sake of keeping everything under wraps, lets say my name is...Henry" "Alright, HENRY...if your on my side like you say you are, then why did you drug me?" "They were coming for you" "WHO?", I interject. "You know who, don't be a moron. They were coming for you so I had to get to you first." "So why not just talk to me? Why did you have to drug me and drag me to this place?" *becoming irritated* "Because...if I busted in your apartment and tried to explain myself you would never believe me. You would assume it was a trick, and that I was working for them." "And besides", he continues, letting out a small laugh. "How often do you get to drug someone?" "You're twisted, ya know that? So what is it that you know?" *clears his throat* "I've been working undercover just like you an your partner. I was hired as a prep cook by the restaurant. My assignment was to see how they were moving the stolen goods, and build a case."
"So what do you have?" "Not a lot. I know that Mr. Gray dropped off high quality stolen meat every week and they use it on their menus. I had a suspicion they were on to me so I had to lay low for a while. Kelly banks is no woman to mess with. They just found Mr. Gray dead in his holding cell last night. Word got out he might give up the whole operation and take a deal..so she had him killed." "what happened?" "...they shanked the prick with a sharpened tooth brush."
"Is Tim Ryan involved?", I ask, knowing full well what the answer will be. "You can be your ass he's involved. Ryan's the boss. They're, they're just pieces of the puzzle...pawns if you will" "I've had two many chess analogies for one night" I say to him softly. "Ok, so I get Global Palate, but why Ryan? What does he have to do with all this?" "Ahhh I thought you'd never ask, detective. Ryan is overseeing the whole operation. Kelly Banks is a CIA grad." "What does that have to do with illegal meat stealing?" "Christ, detective! Thought you'd have it all put together by now...Restaurants in the area have been doing poorly ever since the economy went in the shitter, everyone knows that. In the recent years there has been an influx of CIA graduates opening restaurants in the Hudson Valley region because it is cheaper than New York City. Less competition too. So these graduates start opening up restaurants all over the area, and they were doing terribly. A terrible run restaurant in the area is one thing, but a terribly run restaurant run by a CIA alum is another. It makes the school look bad."
"So Ryan was doing illegal business so all these restaurants run by CIA graduates would flourish, and in turn boost the image of the school?" "BINGO, detective...I guess your as smart as your partner claims you are after all. C'mon, shes waiting outside."
Returning to the car I play everything Henry just said over in my head. It all makes sense. The CIA is consistently the best culinary school in the world year in and year out. Everyone is gunning for that top spot so they have to do everything they can to keep their image pristine. If CIA grads fail in their endeavors in the Hudson Valley, that's bad press for Tim Ryan and the school. I get in the car and and Leah looks at me as if to say, "wellll?". "What did the guy say? Did he tell you anything that we can use?" I look over to Leah in a very calm, and collected manner; "Well Stonewall...you ever been to culinary school?"
So here I am, six months later at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America...as a "student". Stonewall and I changed out identities around, and the department conjured on a fake background for each of us. Our mission is to follow the paper trail undetected by Tim Ryan or whoever else may be involved. We have to collect evidence, and build a case that will topple the whole operation. That is why I started this whole blog, to expose the criminals for what they are. If something should ever happen to me, you have everything you should need to finish this thing! *Knocking at my door* "RA" *more knocking* "RA, open this door". They're coming for me! My time ends here, but you have the knowledge. *Door opens, RA grabs me by the arm, pulling me from the computer* "You're in big trouble, come with me", the RA shouts. "It's ok, I know Jon Gibbs!", I shout at the top of my lungs (a little inside joke amongst my friends). *breaks one arm free long enough to type* Use everything I gave you! You have the power to put those responsible behind bars for good!*hits send before being hauled off*
DISCLAIMER: This post, and part I are a work of fiction. Stonewall and I had dinner at Global Palate the other night and rather than just describing the restaurant and our meal in detail I changed it around and made up a story about the restaurant using stolen meat and Tim Ryan trying to protect the CIA's image. It is just a story and in no way reflects any negative feelings I have towards the school. I love the CIA, and I bleed green and white (our school's colors). I just thought it would be funny to make up a whole crime story because I was bored. The real names I used in this story in no way reflect their real personalities and there is no illegal activity going on (that I know of). It is simply a work of fiction. If it was a waste of time at least I described the layout of the restaurant and posted a picture of my meal.
~ Sincerely, the real Peter Hahm