VERY LATE THURSDAY NIGHT, OCTOBER 2ND, JANNET IS WEARILY WAITING IN A SLOWLY moving line for international customs check-through inside the Adolfo Suárez Madrid airport. The murals, in various locations in the airport terminal, has helped to divert her overall weariness. Some of the more dramatic murals include the work of South American artist Guayasamín, who is one of Jannet’s favorite artists. In addition, the soaring ceilings of the airport concourse, with its yellow metallic pylon supports, are another diverting feature.
Jannet is wearing black jeans, a black t-shirt, black cowboy boots, and a faded-blue jeans jacket. She is sporting a newly styled short shag haircut.
Upon retrieval of her luggage, she locates an airport shuttle. On the ride into the city proper, Jannet laments the fact she is not heading to the Embajadores sector of Madrid, specifically the Calle de Embajadores with its Embajadores Apartamentos. It had certainly been a great apartment hotel, for her, during her previous visits to Madrid. She had liked the convenience of an excellent grocery store, a bar, and a restaurant within a half block of the apartment hotel. However, her destination today is the small quaint neighborhood of Opera, north of the city center, and specifically to Calle Union and to Mari Belen.
On Friday, Jannet sleeps and re-sleeps for most of the day. Mari Belen is nowhere to be seen although the two women did have a brief reunion very late Thursday night inside Mari Belen’s apartment. And Jannet is asleep again as Mari Belen arrives back to the apartment late Friday night.
Early Saturday morning, October 4th, Jannet is wide-eyed and rested. She waits patiently, for Mari Belen awakening; she is waiting in the living room area. Mari Belen rambles out of the bedroom, she is already wearing a coat, into the living room, and she immediately heads for the front door of the apartment. Jannet is a bundle of confusion. And there waiting, at the front door, is the family and Jannet becomes instantly surrounded in a warm round of greetings and conversation, while everyone present still retain their coats.
Finally, Jannet realizes that everyone has arrived only to collect Mari Belen and her for some mysterious purpose. “This is the surprise or the secret that I have been concealing from you. And I hope you like it.” Mari Belen beams and leads everyone out of the door. Her parents and brother and family are in one van and Mari Belen and Jannet join Margarita and her adult children in another van.
The little caravan cruises to the La Lavídes neighborhood and lands on Calle de Buenavista, quite near a Metro station. Mari Belen did finally settle upon this neighborhood for her new home; instead of her sister’s neighborhood, El Barrio de Ibiza; because she fell completely in love with this particular apartment; oddly enough it was her brother who discovered this apartment; her family heartily concurred with her final decision.
Everyone ushers into a first floor apartment, in a three-story apartment building, as Mari Belen announces that she has purchased the apartment, and that it is her first property as an owner, and that she wants Jannet to live with her here permanently. Jannet is a little shocked because she has assumed that she would have a separate apartment in Madrid however she does quickly and smoothly recover, and she declares the apartment to be perfectly wonderful. This declaration elicits a wave of spirited discussions and a tour commences.
The apartment is in various states of renovation and repair. It has a bare bones look because there are no furnishings but it has very sound basic features including a high ceiling and some art deco flourishes. The most remarkable feature is the sunken living room. There are three short step downs into it from one side and another petite three steps out on the opposite side. There is an ample modestly elevated walkway, around the sunken living room space, with a few attractive archways that lead to other parts of the dwelling. The moldings on the ceiling throughout are definitely reminiscent of an Art Deco styling. There is a small patio and a back yard, both of which will need work. Most fortunate, this apartment is much bigger than Mari Belen’s present apartment of nearly 800 square feet. This new apartment is a little over 1200 square feet.
In all, the apartment has a master bedroom, a small guest bedroom, a kitchen, a small dining room, a little den area, one and half baths, and a living room area. Everyone eagerly comments on Jannet’s own separate little den room, which she will probably use as a home office.
Mari Belen’s purchase is a short-sale. There are unfortunately 1000s of foreclosures still occurring throughout Spain and Madrid, and Mari Belen has landed a potentially excellent apartment property, which will obviously need ample amounts of sweat equity and professional care. Mari Belen received the property at a significantly discounted price because the bank was eager to sell.
Therefore, Jannet begins her present tenure in Madrid as a helper. Mari Belen has taken the week off from work and while the two women spend time personally reconnecting, they also are working on minor repairs at the new apartment, and ordering new furnishings, and ordering some new fixtures. This work is in conjunction with a local contractor who has a few workers finishing up minor ventilation, plumbing, and landscaping issues in advance of a final municipal inspection for legal occupancy. There is an irritating lack of electrical outlets throughout the apartment and so a licensed electrician is hired. The two women hope to finally and officially occupy the new apartment by mid-October.
Following a complex discussion between the two women, Jannet elects to deposit €54,500 (Euros), which is about $60,000 (USD), into a new joint household bank account for her share of mortgage, renovation, utilities, insurance/taxes, and furnishing costs for the next five years. She has estimated that her personal financial commitment, for housing costs, at $1000 a month for five years. Jannet suggests to Mari Belen that they share the cost of a once-a-week cleaning service for the apartment; Jannet currently uses and pays for periodic cleaning services that are housed in the Pacific Building in Portland. Mari Belen hardily agrees to the convenience of a cleaning service and they contract with a reputable company which has offices in their new neighborhood.
Jannet’s little room, her office, will house some of her belongings which will be shipped from Portland at some point in the future; presently, she is furnishing the room, to her taste, from local sources for furniture and other objects. The wall placement of Mari Belen’s first ever gift to her, a huge monitor screen, is Jannet’s first order of business in her new space. Mari Belen has created a small office area, of her own, in one corner of the master bedroom.
In general, Jannet senses that she will be happy sharing the space with Mari Belen. She is secretly delighted to notice that some of Mari Belen’s furnishing choices are very similar to those of her Portland apartment.
The second week of October, Jannet contacts all of her close friends in Portland and respective updates ensue. She resumes consultation sessions and she conducts 4 or 5 afternoon sessions a day on a Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. She checks out the city’s various schools, mostly high schools that feature curriculum which is presented in English; she is utilizing Mari Belen’s contact with an employment agency in Madrid. These schools include American schools, British schools, and few community colleges. The inquiries prove to be fruitless. She has limited access to employment as a foreign national except for those job positions that might requires native speakers of English.
She does receive, nevertheless, an invitation from the Policía General, which is presented to her by Mari Belen, one morning at breakfast. This invitation occurs during their very final few days of residency in the old apartment; they are expecting the paperwork for the official occupancy of the new apartment within the next few days.
Jannet accompanies Mari Belen to her work. Waiting there is a gathering of a familiar group of police investigators and personnel in the little unit’s situation room. Despite her peculiar history in this particular room, Jannet likes the room because it has a window nearly encompassing an entire full wall, on one side of the room, with a view into a pleasant interior courtyard.
Jannet is tasked with providing information on the link or on the significance of a possible link between two cases, one older cold case and one somewhat more recent case. These are the two cases which Jannet has encountered before and one of the cases is a recently reopened cold case. As normal, Jannet is provided little information beyond the two case file numbers. She smoothly segues into a light trance state. She is a little distracted about something that is a bit off in the room, and she continues to surmise that it might be the addition of the new legal counsel to the team although she is not certain. She proceeds nonetheless.
Everyone in the situation room is expecting a visual projection into the center of the room but instead Jannet remains motionless in the middle of the situation room. She reopens her eyes in about 4 minutes.
“There is not a link between the two cases, at least there is no connections between the crimes related to these case numbers. However, there will be more information forthcoming.” She plainly states and this declaration is received with an overall air of disbelief. The new legal counsel, Flor de Luz, has a look of skepticism on her face. And this is followed by another stretch of 3 or 4 minutes of silence as Jannet returns to yet another motionless trance state.
But she finally speaks again. “The first case, the older cold case, is significant because it involves a now former police investigator. This person’s role was the compilation of some of the earlier confidential details of that case and making that confidential information available to an individual engaged in criminal activity. That former police investigator had been coerced by the unknown criminal because the criminal used blackmail to make the police investigator comply.” Jannet is speaking very slowly and various members of the police team, in attendance, are using various recording devices. Jannet’s eyes, faces, hair, and body has segued into a slightly pale blue-like hue. She continues to stand stationery in the center of the situation room with arms slightly spread to her sides.
“The second case, the more recent case, is significant because it is the last instance of the unknown criminal, or criminals, covert involvement with official police matters. The criminal and associates have cease, for now, their criminal enterprises. There was a beginning and an end, and this criminal enterprise has created and has grown into an illicit business enterprise devoted to gathering information on a variety of official police cases and activities spreading over a wide range of police units, and making this information available to other criminal organizations for financial profit. The first case, the older case, marks the beginning of one criminal’s foray into a new criminal endeavor, and now the second more recent case marks the hiatus or a temporary shut-down for what now is a small insidious organization.”
“The enterprise has gone silent, for now, because of the comprehensive system-wide internal investigation probe conducted by Policía General. Over the course of a few short years the criminal or criminals have operated an illegal enterprise due in part to information provided by various members of the police department and other municipal agencies. This information was obtained through coercion and deception. Again, the criminal enterprise has appeared to cease for now but its mechanisms may still be in place and it may be possible to discover its internal workings. This operation was less extensive, systemic, or meticulous than you might surmise, rather it seemed to wait for random opportunities as they spontaneously presented themselves. Those officials involved are victims, to some degree, but this does not apply to the first and former police investigator, from a few years ago, who subsequently became a willing accomplice.”
Jannet begins to convulse slightly and this causes Mari Belen to tense. Carlos Jon discreetly grabs Mari Belen’s arm while Umberto walks quickly to woman in trance. He presents a light touch, using one hand, on her shoulder and she immediately relaxes. She then continues her trance narrative.
“The criminal enterprise, in simplified terms, is a website with associated links on the Deep Web or what is sometimes referred to as the Dark Net which could be considered a component of the Deep Web.” Jannet pauses and she now begins to normalized, while Carlos Jon, who is still standing close to Mari Belen, begins to speak and to continue the narrative thread. He presents additional background information, about the nature of the Deep Web, to everyone in English and then once again in Spanish.
“The Deep Web is part of the World Wide Web but it exists in an essentially unindexed region. The internet that we all see can be referred to as the surface net and the areas of the internet that are hidden, on purpose, can be regarded as the Deep Web or Dark Net. Some materials are intentionally secreted away there and away from the regular or surface internet and it usually can only be accessed by utilizing special software. Obviously there is a concern among law enforcement agencies that this hidden region can be a haven for serious criminal activities.”
Carlos Jon finishes with his explanation and look about the room for questions. There are no questions forthcoming, at the moment; however, the newest member of the team, Flor de Luz, states in a low disbelieving voice in Spanish, ‘I thought she was supposed to do more than just stand in the middle of the room with her eyes close while turning colors.’ Everyone ignores her and no one elects to respond to her brash statement.
Jannet has completely returned to normal, she is no longer in a trance state. She strolls lazily to one of the large comfortable couches, along one of the walls, and sits. Umberto takes her pulse and nods in approval and one of the administrative assistants follows behind him with a glass of cold water. The assistant who is sitting beside her, as she drinks, offers her hand to Jannet. The administrative assistant obviously wants to reveal something. Jannet puts down the drink and she does not take her hand but turns her attention to the woman to conduct a brief scan. There are public channels of information available and private ones. Jannet does not open any of the private files but finds one public file labeled ‘recent mistakes’. Jannet eyes widens as she read the file. Then she casually turns away and continues to sip the glass of water. The woman, the administrative assistant, retreats to some form of internal dialogue for a moment and a few seconds later she walks to the center of situation room
“Yo quiero hacer la declaración.” She announces in a nervous tone. When she suddenly receives everyone’s attention, she proceeds to tell a story of receiving an anonymous contact several months ago about supplying confidential information. The anonymous woman indicated, it was a woman who contacted the administrative assistant, that she and her associates had incriminating information on the illicit activities on her half-brother and that they would make the information public if she did not cooperate. She never saw the mysterious woman and only talked to her on the cellphone; her phone display had listed the phone number of the caller as unavailable. But nothing further occurred because she never received another telephone call or a threat, it was probably in advance of the criminal group going dark.
There is a fury of activity in the situation room. An internal investigations unit is immediately contacted and the cyber-crimes unit, as well. And Jannet continues to lounge on the couch with an available magazine although she is hoping that she can leave soon.
For the next few days, the fury of activity continues and continues for the cold case unit, as they become the epicenter of questioning by the internal investigations department, and by the cyber-crimes unit, although the questioning, and the focus, is centered on this newly revealed crime enterprise. Everyone’s energies are brought to bear on the unearthing this unknown criminal enterprise.
Regarding the confessed administrative assistant, after extensive questioning, she receives a de-merit notation in her personnel file and a 30-day unpaid suspension. She will be allowed to return to her duty station thereafter.
It is a late evening October 21st and it is around 11.00 pm. Mari Belen is focused but relaxed, she is decompressing from the recent stress-filled period at Policía General. She is reviewing office reports while sitting on one end of an enormous couch under the strong light of a large curving floor lamp. Several minutes ago, her cellphone vibrated and the screen exhibited a pure white floating background and she had received a curious text message on her cellphone, ‘Ella no sabe nadir.’ She has no idea about the meaning of the text and the cellphone does not register who has sent the message. She elects to ignore the mysterious occurrence, for now.
All the same, Mari Belen is content. She will be 52 years old within several weeks and she owns her home, a first for her. She has a challenging and satisfying career. And her girlfriend is dozing near her at the other end of the couch. This present moment, as she is reviewing official police reports, these are forensic reports with graphic photographic depictions, these reports seem to her, to be the best reports in the world.