Kiwi shook his head. “That’s how they got me.” He laughed. “Next thing I knew, I was being invited to dinner at the White House.”
“Yeah.” Sam nodded. “How about you, Dodge?”
“They grew him in a tank,” Vienna muttered, but there was a smile in her eye.
“I was born in Los Angeles,” Dodge said, and seeing Sam’s questioning look, added, “But I mainly grew up in London.”
“So how’d they catch you?”
Dodge winked and tapped the side of his nose. “More than my life’s worth to tell you, Sonny Jim.”
Sam looked at Kiwi, who shook his head. “I’ve been trying to get it out of him since I’ve been here.”
Sam shrugged. “And you, Vienna?”
There was an uncomfortable silence, and then she dismissed him with a glance and shut her eyes, turning her face to the sun.
Kiwi gave Sam a small shake of the head. Don’t bother asking . “How did you get into hacking?” he asked.
“Well …” Sam hesitated. “When I was younger, we couldn’t really afford a computer, but I got a part-time job at a computer company, helping out in the repair section. We’d often get computers in with some kind of fault that meant they had to be replaced. But usually most of the computer was okay. So I’d salvage any parts that were worth keeping before chucking the rest in a Dumpster.
“Eventually I got enough spare parts to build an entire computer at home. I hot-wired the neighbor’s broadband connection to get Internet access, and it kind of all grew from there.”
“How old were you?” Dodge asked. “When you did all this?”
“Twelve,” Sam said.
There was a stunned silence from the others, which Vienna broke by saying, “Had to happen, Dodge. We finally found a bigger geek than you.”
“So what’s with the doorbell thing? At the White House,” Sam asked.
“We just do that to freak people out.” Dodge grinned.
“It works,” Sam said.
“Now go on over and introduce yourself to Miss Congeniality before she starts to think you’re a numb-nuts,” Dodge said.
“Yeah, yeah, soon,” Sam said, not moving. “Tell me more. Is there anywhere we can’t go? Anywhere off-limits?”
“Not much. Some financial stuff. CIA, of course. Some classified government files,” Dodge said, rolling over onto his stomach and resting his head on his hands.
“Where they keep the answers to all the big questions,” Kiwi said.
“JFK, Roswell, Vegas, stuff like that,” Dodge said.
Sam sat up on the lounge chair and looked over with sudden interest. The assassination of JFK last century was still a cause for speculation and conspiracy theory, even now; the purported alien-spaceship crash at Roswell was regarded as a joke by some and as gospel by others; while Vegas was often described as the world’s biggest unsolved murder.
“Serious?” Sam said. “And you can’t get in?”
“I said we weren’t allowed to. I didn’t say we weren’t capable,” Dodge said.
“Leave it alone, Dodge,” Vienna said. “He’s an egg.”
Dodge leaned toward Sam and spoke in a low voice. “Do you really want to know who actually killed JFK?”
“Yeah, of course. Doesn’t everyone?”
“Not who you’d think,” Dodge said enigmatically.
Sam began, “But—”
“Whatever you’ve read, whatever you’ve imagined, you’re not even close,” Dodge cut him off. “Want to know the truth about Roswell?”
“Never happened. No spaceship, no dead aliens, nothing. It was a cover-up, all right, but not for a crashed UFO. That was just the diversion, to draw attention away from what was really going on, which is even harder to believe.”
“And Vegas …”
It was strange, the names that were given to major tragedies, Sam thought. The World Trade Center disaster was always known by the date, 9/11, while the explosion three years earlier that had left a radioactive scar on the desert where Las Vegas used to be was known simply as Vegas.
Howard Curtis, Canek Sánchez Guevara