Twenty-four hours ago Chartan had been leading his family along the sandy dunes when he first sensed he was regaining the power of his focus on life. But, now he was grasping the steering wheel of a limo at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock with four strangers behind sound proof glass. They looked like aliens in grey suits with closely cropped brown hair–there was nothing to distinguish one from the other. They had simply nodded to him when they entered the limo, nothing had been said.
He was to drive them to a private vineyard high in the hills overlooking one of the world’s great wine regions, the Napa Valley. Chartan was struck by the fact that they didn’t have briefcases, or visible hand-held devices.
As the vehicle hummed along I-80 at 70 mph, Chartan had a renewed fear that he was in the presence of evil. Clearly, during the drive home the prior night he sensed the peace of family life was threatened even though they were safely asleep in the backseat. With his regained focus came his heightened awareness of good and evil. He could not dismiss this notion. Perhaps, he had foreseen the presence of these four strangers on the drive from the beach. The “secret” video camera on the dashboard showed they were sitting by windows, staring at the passing scenery, their lips closed tightly. Chartan began to perspire. He was not afraid, only fearful of a bad scenario in the near future.
Sloan had handed him a one-page backgrounder on the clients. Businessmen from New York in California to discuss an acquisition—the utmost privacy requested. Once the destination was reached, Chartan was to wait four to six hours for their business to be conducted before returning to the Sacramento Airport. He would be paid overtime after eight hours.
As he neared the exit for the one-lane highway that would take him to an area known as Atlas Peak, he touched the video screen in preparation for announcing that he would be driving at a reduced speed. The screen was dark—the two mini-cameras in the rear of the limo had been covered.
To be continued next Sunday…