From his perch high in the cathedral bell tower, Parker watched Brinkmann make his way across the piazza. A grim tide of sadness swept over Parker as he considered the downfall of his colleague. Brinkmann was one of the agency’s most trusted and effective operatives, and to Parker, as close to a friend as was possible in this business. After the sticky bit of business in Dar es Salaam so many years ago, Parker truly felt that they’d understood each other. But lately Brinkmann had been spotted meeting with a shadowy Arab man, and suspicion now hung heavy over his head. Parker checked the remaining battery power on his JVC GRD350 MiniDV Camcorder, then turned it on to record evidence of Brinkmann’s betrayal. His heart broke a little.
Even in the fading evening light, Brinkmann showed up clearly on the camcorder’s 2.5” LCD, sitting on a bench near the gelato cart. Pigeons pecked at the cobblestones and children in school shorts kicked a ball back and forth. Parker watched a bearded man hurry toward Brinkmann and take a seat on the bench next to him. Both men stared straight ahead, pretending not to talk. But with the camcorder’s 32x optical zoom and 800x digital zoom, Parker could see the tiny motions of their lips. After a moment, Brinkmann set the palm of his hand flat on the bench between them, then rose and walked away. The bearded man waited, then set his hand in the same place and picked up the paper Brinkmann had left there. Why? Parker wondered. Could it just be for the money? Or do they have something on you? Why, Brinkmann?
Parker’s heart raced as the man unfolded the paper and began reading it. From his vantage point, Parker was in position to look right over the man’s shoulder. He set his jaw, increased the camera’s powerful zoom, and was able to make out a few stray sentences in the middle of the page:
few days without you have been torment. I can’t think of anything else. I long to caress you again, to bask in the glow of your smile, to run my tongue along
Dizzy with relief, Parker shut the camera off. Don’t worry, old friend – these secrets are the kind you can keep. He ejected the MiniDV tape, smashed it under his heel, and lit a Muratti, exhaling a cloud of purple smoke into the shadowed cool of the evening.