By Ray Schultz
Business took me to Boston recently, and as usual I sprang for the Acela train because I insist on luxury when a client is paying the bill. I was in the club car enjoying coffee and a danish when Sonny Taylor, the simian cyber criminal, came in and ordered three vodkas.
Now nobody would mistake Sonny for a teenager, but the server asked for ID, and Sonny exploded in a rage, hurling threats and foul language.
I snuck back to my seat, thankful he hadn’t seen me. At length, Sonny came in with three Diet Cokes and sat down next to two men I hadn’t noticed before: his brother, the formerly late Sid Taylor, and the gravel-voiced attorney and fixer Erwin Forrest. How did I end up on a train with this trio?
I tried to bury my face in my laptop, but somewhere around New Haven, Sid noticed me and called out, “Scoop,” his unaffectionate nickname for me.
“You thought old Sid was dead didn’t you?” he chortled. “Another factual error by the man who invented them.”
That riled me up.
“I reported you were believed to be dead,” I said. “I always thought it was a trick to get the FBI off your trail. How come you’re not in jail right now?”
Sonny glared at me menacingly, and Erwin said, “I have instructed my client not to answer that question.”
“Your own brother said you were killed by crocodiles,” I reminded Sid.
“I was bitten by a lizard,” Sid said. “But let’s forget the past. We’re all older now. I have a new product, and I’ll give you the exclusive story on it.”
I didn’t know why I deserved this honor. But before I could refuse it, Sid handed me an announcement promoting the new Undesirables database of boozers, scofflaws, slot machine addicts and other unfortunates.
“This looks just like Mo Moss’s Proclivities database,” I observed. “Did you steal this from Mo?”
Sonny glared at me again, and I was afraid he would throw me through the train window. But Sid acted like he was impressed.
“You’ve gotten smarter in your old age,” he said. “Did you go back to college or something?”
He explained that he was licensing the Proclivities list from Mo and repackaging it for his own clientele.
“In that case, Mo is ripping you off,” I said. “Most of the people on it are dead.”
“I take back what I said about you being smarter. Some of them are still alive, and I have NFT opportunities to offer them.”
“And you’re planning to amortize the cost by renting out the email names?” I asked.
“Very good,” Sid said, clapping his hands. “You are smart after all. How would you like to come and work for me?”
“I’d rather starve to death on the street.”
The conversation lagged as I read the incomprehensible announcement. Finally, I asked, “Why are you going to Boston?”
“I have instructed my client not to answer that question,” Erwin said.
The rest of the ride was tense, and I was glad to get off the train at Back Bay.
Ace reporter that I am, though, I soon solved two mysteries:
- The Gang of Three was in Boston to negotiate a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Massachusetts. Sid somehow escaped jail, but Sonny will have to do time once they’ve settled cases with nine other jurisdictions, including two in foreign countries.
- As I suspected, Sid had hacked and stolen the entire Proclivities database. Mo Moss said, “I’m suing those bastards.”
Days later, I received a letter from the “law” offices of Erwin Forrest, threatening me with a defamation suit if I wrote anything derogatory about the Taylor family.
I am not planning any other train trips at this time.
(Note: Thankfully, there is no resemblance between these characters and real persons, living or dead.)