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Memoir From My Embryonic JADE Reservoir

(I wrote this shortly after it happened. To give you an idea of how long ago it was, I still hadn't figured out who a third of the men in the Task Force were and I was trying to find a female member of JADE that it didn't even have.)


I watch the man I think of as Rasmussen mosey up the parking area, a worn, fully crammed red backpack slung over his shoulder. Sometimes he walks kind of funny, like now. I swear his legs are longer than a nautical mile. I take a few pictures of him, both before and as he gets in his car. I don’t know how well they’ll come out because the lowering late-afternoon sun is blazing and every automobile in the lot is reflecting its rays like a prism.

I’m parked two rows away and two spaces down behind him. I think about how nice it is to see the back of him inside his vehicle -- I am so sick of tinted windows! Not sure what he’s doing in there but a few minutes go by before he backs out.

Rather than leaving via the top exit of the upper lot, he goes out the gap at the bottom. I think it’s actually the entranceway but I’m not entirely sure. I don’t want to lose his Impala so I follow it out the same path. If they don’t want people driving out the “in,” it should clearly say so. Humph!

We both bypass the speed bump, drive beyond the newsplex building, and pull up to the stop sign. We sit here a loooong time. Maybe he’s waiting for a car to pass. None does before he eventually turns right. I’m startin’ to think this guy’s a strange one. I, on the other hand, do have to wait for a vehicle to go by before I can get in motion again. Happily the driver of it is a lead-foot so it’s almost like a non-pause.

The signal at the top of the hill is red and Rasmussen is lazing in the left turn lane. I stop behind him. I see parts of him in his driver’s side and rear view mirrors and I study the exposed portions of his features. I think his face is interesting-looking; it’s chiseled and fierce.

So who is this guy? I have the cell phone number of one of the JADE members I have yet to identify programmed into my phone. That guy’s supposedly from Staunton. Based on some other details, there’s a high chance Rasmussen could be him.

The light is taking forever to change. I pick up my cell and hit a single number to speed dial the one that belongs to the Staunton man. I listen to the ringing and watch for indications of Rasmussen getting a call. There are no such motions from the man in front of me, and when the ringing in my ear changes to voice mail I disconnect.

We make our turn and, with green lights all the way, travel smoothly down 5th Street. By the arrangement of his arm it looks like Rasmussen may already be on the phone. That could be why he didn’t answer me.

At I-64 we go west. Perhaps he lives in Ivy, or Crozet. Or… maybe he’s a JADE detective whose name I never got. It’s a possibility for sure but I tend to doubt it. This is the direction to Staunton. This is the direction to Staunton!

The exit to Ivy comes and goes, and I’m fastidiously comparing what I know about the man in front of me to information I have about the Task Force person I suspect he is. Methodical reasoning makes me more certain about his identity. I don’t care if he doesn’t answer his phone; if we don’t take an off-ramp to Crozet, I’m going to declare it’s him. We pass by Crozet like it doesn’t exist.

Rasmussen still sort of looks like he’s on the phone but I try the cell number I have one more time anyway. Nothing. There oughta be a rule that for every time these guys don’t answer their phones, a corpulent, Russian woman named Ustinya gets to yank ten hairs out of their nether regions with tweezers.

Even though I believe I now know who he is, I’ve followed Rasmussen this far without a problem and I reckon I might as well go the rest of the way. My odometer keeps spinning over the 5… 9… 100… miles.

We drive at a sensible pace and I maintain a comfy distance. We progress across the mountain; the scenery is incredible. God, I think I would love to be an eagle.

We're nearing Waynesboro and, because traffic is picking up, I shorten the space between us. Perfect timing since Rasmussen happens to take the next exit. I break out one of my trusty notepads intending to jot down the names of the roads as we take them.

The drag we’re on right now is all built-uppity and the heavy congestion of motorists reflects it.

A moment later we’re on a side road that obviously leads back into a neighborhood. I’m neither too close to nor too far from Rasmussen and after another turn or two, I instantaneously sense he’s suspicious of me. I can’t explain how I know he’s wondering if I’m here because of him -- he’s done dead nothing out of the ordinary -- but I feel like my spine just got set on fire and electrical sparks are playing leap frog on my shoulders. Rasmussen slows and with no turn signal makes a sudden left. A semi could’ve made that turn better.

I’m heeding my warning sensations. Rather than follow after him, I drift by and eyeball it instead. Yep. There he is. The silver sedan is pulled over on the right side. Gee, what are the chances that’s his house he’s in front of and he just didn’t feel like pulling into the driveway? I chuckle.

I roll a tad further, make a U-turn in the middle of the lane, pause for a sec to add the name of the street Rasmussen’s sitting on to the notepad, and head back out the route I came. In the process of leaving I give one last gander out my passenger’s window down the side street. The stopped Impala is several hundred feet further than where it was and judging by the severity of the brake lights, its operator is still inside.

Later I learn the street Rasmussen took is only one away from the address of the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement Task Force Officer “from Staunton.”