As we walked out of the warehouse style building into the streets of my hometown I was in a daze. I was trying to figure out what had just happened? Who where these people and how and why was coach Jones involved? I thought back to how I had even ended up here today.
It started as an invitation that was extended to me after my participation in an explorers competition. The explorers were a group of security professionals who worked in the area of intellectual logistics. Problem solvers. We were a unique group of individuals who studied the human intellect in order to establish patterns of criminal movement before it happened. We also liked to use our intellect to solve problems and this is where the competitions came in. Each year one group would host the competition and would set up a set of bizarre life sized puzzles/obstacle coarses that would challenge teams both physically and mentally. At this years competition I had managed to walk away with my 5th straight individual win after setting the course record in every event. It was when I was packing to go home that I was approached by one of the heads from a rival company who told me about this very exclusive competition that was coming to my town later that year and that if I really wanted to challenge my skills that I should check it out.
So I did. And over the last week I had been one of 24 competitors who was being put through our paces by Coach Bubba Jones. It seems that after his exit from his high school career he too entered the security field. His current position was to carry out the daily events in this traveling side show of mental and physical torment.
This competition was very different from any other I had been a part of. First, the 24 of us had been brought in ath the same time on the first day ...but from that moment on I never saw any of the rest of the others until today. Each event was based on individual performance and I never heard how any one else had done. And, with each day of events came a new round of mental ridicule from Coach Jones. He made it very clear that he had a personal score to settle with me and that it would be settled here and now! Then...then today happened?
As we walked out of the building we were greeted by several black explorer style vehicles with the blacked out windows. The general and Chrissy climbed right in the one of the vehicles without ant hesitation. Coach Jones smacked into the back of me when I pulled up short refusing to get in.
Wheezard! What the h double l are you doing? Screamed coach. I stood there for a second and then opened my mouth to spill out my refusal to go any farther when Chrissy re-emerged from the SUV and took my hand.
Look Mr. Wizard...back there you asked me to trust you and I did.... Completely! I put my very life into your hands. Now I am asking you to return the favor and trust me. Can you do that Johnny? Can you?
With that I felt her squeeze my hand as I allowed myself to be pulled into the waiting SUV.
As the SUV pulled away from the curb I could feel my heart racing. I had no idea where we were heading or what kind of trouble I had just gotten myself into. But I was pretty sure of one thing. It was to late to back out now.
So, playing the hand that had been dealt to me, I sat back and waited...waited for whatever would happen next. I did not have to wait long.
Mr. Wizard...johnathan Victor Wizard son of Elliot and Martha Wizard, owner and soul employee of Wizard Works...as I listened to the General read from a folder in his brief case I found that I had started to speak with out regard to my current situation and before I was able to stop myself I heard...in quite a nasty tone...I know perfectly well who I am and where I came from! It is you and your band of apes that I have no idea about! So if you want to give out some information how about spilling the beans on your Paleolithic think tank!
If it were possible to sucker punch a man with words then I had just done so. The General closed the file that was in his hands and placed it back into his brief case. Mr. wizard, it would seem that not everything about you is listed in that file. I had no idea you were such an impatient little man. But very well, we will get back to your file in a moment. What is it you would like to know?
And with those words the ball was in my court and the General sat smugly in his seat waiting my response. One thing about being in the field of intellectual logistics is that you learn very quickly to separate the dross from the gold. I knew that the likely hood of getting any real information from the general was very remote. Seeing that he was a field general told me that someone else was actually pulling the strings. But this meant the general could be manipulated. Who ever he worked for had robbed him of his true power...so...if I treated him as the man he once was I could gain much more....the old attracting flies with honey.
General, I meant no disrespect! It has been a very long week with quite a surprise ending! So please forgive my abrupt rudeness?
With just those few words I could sense the general body language change. He was warming to me.
I f I could ask general who are you and where are we going? I only actually believed I would get on of these answers but it was a starting place.
The general answered. I am General Swartz. You have Met my two colleagues, Major Evans, and Sargent Jones. As to where we are going...I am not at liberty to say at this time. I assure you this Mr. Wizard...all of your questions will be answered shortly. And with that he turned to look out the window and not another word was spoken as we rode through the streets of downtown head to destination unknown.