"Did you hear? The 'Bank-Shot' blogger's here tonight!"
Leovar Agrolkin turned to the stranger seated beside him in the union hall, a trucker, judging from the logos on his jacket. "Who?"
"John Frachetti... the guy in those pictures with the company's parole officer. You know, the one who started all the talk about taking the bankers down a notch. They say he had something to do with Reese's murder."
Edward Reese had been the CEO of Fremont-Wayfarer before he was found shot to death in one of the chain's dingy motel rooms. He was also responsible for turning the FW Diners into faux prison chow halls, complete with bright yellow jumpsuits for the servers. Leo hated yellow.
"Sure. I know him. I was there."
This was Leo's first union meeting. The graying waiter had managed to reach fifty without ever taking a job that required it, this one included. But then the company was sentenced to a three-year imprisonment for a massive theft orchestrated by the executives, and Judge Clary wanted a union rep on the reformulated board of directors. Only thing was, it wasn't a union shop. So they went and formed one, signed everyone up, no questions asked. Which was fine with Leo. His background wasn't something he was too thrilled letting folks know about. After all, who wanted an accused terrorist in their midst?
There was nothing to it, of course. The guy they were after used an alias that just happened to be close enough to his to trigger Homeland Security's lame profiling program. Not that Agrolkin was a common name or anything. It's just that they never bothered to scrape the taint off him after ruining his last trip to Canada. So now, if anyone did a background check on him, they'd turn up the other guy, and think it was Leo.
"No kidding?" the trucker said, clearly impressed. "That's one of the downsides to running a rig. There's less chance of meeting anyone important on the job. Still, I do like the freedom."
"Sure. I'm not what you might call a good follower. Tight organizations give me the willies. Like those astroturfers outside. Good little pet rethugnican goats. Their masters probably think business suits are like some kind of magical charm. Well, as far as I'm concerned, anyone who dresses like a penguin just to play stupid domination games deserves to be left out in the cold."
Leo glanced back towards the door. "They do seem to be awfully bent out of shape over the prospect of a union rep filling in as CEO for a while, don't they?"
A painful feedback squeal abruptly filled the crowded room, followed closely by a muttered recrimination. "Sorry about that," the over-amplified voice said, crowding the mike. "Let's get started. If you're a first-timer, I'm Galen Kumar, your union president. Since you've made it in here past the rental protesters, you probably already know that Alizondo Klee, our voice on the Fremont-Wayfarer board, has been asked to fill in for the late, and unlamented, Edward Reese, after his forced retirement from breathing."
Several hoots of support echoed across the room.
"And speaking of Reese, how many of you have seen the phone-cam video of him that started squirting around the Internet this morning?"
A slightly larger group responded this time, including the trucker beside Leo.
"In that case, I'll let him speak for himself. This clip was captured at a recent Republican fundraiser." Kumar opened his phone and held it near the mike.