THE SECRET JOURNAL OF NEIL PATEL #18
WARNING: NEIL 🤓 TYPOS
It’s an understatement to say that I riled up a bunch of bikers. I’m pretty sure some of them were slathering at the mouth as we drove off in search of the target.
Of course, I knew where we were going, but I made a real show of it. Why? Because I was trying to come up with a plan!
It took a little over an hour of meandering before I put up my hand and motioned for the bikers to pull off on the side of the road.
“Did you find him?” big and burly asked, again, his mouth watering.
I tapped on my phone like I was really interested. To be honest, I was just trying to keep my hands from shaking.
There were so many what ifs. What if we were caught? What if there was a shoot up? What if Cal found out?
Mr. Beer Belly Over His Toes answered the question for me.
“Let’s go,” he said, not unkindly, just ready.
“Okay,” I said, trying to sound sure of myself. “It’s just around the corner. Three minutes tops.”
I had a plan of sorts. Stash the bikes a couple blocks away and then head in on foot. Luckily, the house sat on the back of ten acres. No neighbors. Fingers crossed the target wasn’t armed. Everything I knew about him said he preferred solitude to weapons.
As with any half-baked plan, ours went to crap almost immediately.
First, the spot I’d picked to stash the bikes was perfect for concealment but the treeline I’d planned on using as a route in was dense and full of vegetation that snagged on every piece of clothing we had.
Second, these bikers weren’t meant to be on foot. Sure there were a couple outliers, but the rest were huffing before we got halfway there.
Third, and probably most dispiriting, was the fact that when we finally got to within striking distance of the modest home, there were two black vans sitting in the driveway.
“What do we do now?” one of my companions asked.
“Go in, what else, stupid?” another answered.
“Ask the geek squad. What do you think?”
By geek squad they meant me, of course.
I didn’t get a chance to offer my honest take, that maybe they should try later, when four men came out of the house dragging a fifth man by the heels.
Not usually my problem except that the guy getting dragged was our target, and the bikers didn’t like that one bit.
So, much to my chagrin, they did what any red-blooded American might do with the smell of money in their noses: they charged.
I’ll let you in on the next part soon,
THE SECRET JOURNAL OF NEIL PATEL #17
WARNING: MUST LOVE TYPOS...
Here we go again. Back to crypto + biker + mission.
“Who is this guy?” one of the bikers asked, meaning the bad guy who I imagined they were imagining having millions in coin.
“He’s Russian. Or at least part Russian.”
“I hate Russians,” someone said.
“Hey! My grandmother was Russian,” another said.
I snapped my fingers to get their attention. A couple gave me dirty looks for that but at least they were staring at me again.
“Like I was saying, this guy, he funnels a lot of money to the Russian mafia bosses.”
There was murmuring now.
“You mean like here, in the good ‘ol U. S. of A?” someone said in a bellow.
Good to know that they’re at least patriots. Ride that, Neil.
“Yeah. They’re into everything. Slave trade. Drug trade. Organ trade.”
More than a couple of the bikers made disgusted faces.
One biker, who’s belly stuck out so far it nudged me when he got close said, “So you’re telling me that if we pay this guy a visit, we not only stick it to the Russians, sorry Carl,” he said to his pal with the Russian grandma, “but we could make some coin too?”
“Okay smart guy,” Mr. Belly said. “Since it’s your idea, you can come with us, to show us how.”
Great. Just great.
More next time, Dear Diary,
THE SECRET JOURNAL OF NEIL PATEL #16
WARNING: TYPOS AHEAD...
I’m back and maybe I’ll get the rest of the biker-crypto story out in this entry.
Reminder: me + bikers + crypto chat = ???
The gauntlet was thrown. They wanted to know how I used cryptocurrency.
But how to answer that? I couldn’t tell them what I do for a living, that I funnel money all over the world to support not just SSI and Jefferson Group operations, but anything we deem necessary to help the president, our allies, the Council of Patriots, you name it!
So I threw them a bone. I could see these bikers were their own brand of entrepreneur. They could smell the money and wanted to know how to get it.
My wheels were spinning. Spin, spin, spin.
“What if I told you that security is going to a HUGE issue?” I asked the gathered.
“What do you mean?” one of them asked.
“This stuff,” I tapped on the phone screen. “It’s all digital. It’s secure, sure. But it’s not in some bank vault. If you know the password—“
“You mean the seed phrase?” someone offered, correctly me thanks to my schooling.
“Right. If you know the seed phrase, have access to the wallet address, there’s a lot you can do.” I saw them trading looks, their wheels spinning. “But it’s not always that easy.” They looked momentarily deflated.
Then someone asked, “You say not ALWAYS.”
A plan had formed in my head. Something that would not only help my own cause, but give these guys some easy, and lucrative, sport.
“What if I told you that there’s a bad guy, like a bad guy’s money guy, who lives not twenty miles from here, who could be ‘convinced’ to let you have his most recent crypto payments?”
I had their attention now.
More next time, Dear Diary,
THE SECRET JOURNAL OF NEIL PATEL #15
WARNING: NEIL ❤️ TYPOS
I’m back. Where was I? <flipping back through pages>
Right! Crypto and the bikers.
Well, so there we were, outside a gas station, them full of beer and sandwiches and me full of excitement that I had a captive audience and that I might not be their captive. Phew.
I spent the first half hour showing them the different website where cryptocurrency could be obtained. The next half hour was spent answering questions, of which there were many. Questions like:
- “Can the government see what I’m buying?”
- “Is there a limit to how much I can buy?”
- “Can I leave to my kids if I die?”
Really just normal run-of-the-mill stuff. At least that’s what I was hoping.
Some of the bikers had to leave and those remaining said goodbye with back slaps and rumbling belches. Classy but all in the name of brotherly love, Dear Diary.
So we’re into the second our of crypto instruction and they’re getting it. Like really getting it. Their questions keep getting deeper, more nuanced. So I dive deeper into an explanation of how the whole system works, how blockchain and protocols keep things locked down tight. And they get it.
I’m ashamed to say that I’d judged them by their appearance. I’ll try not to beat myself up too bad. They were acting more than a touch intimidating and they did filch me for food and booze.
But the way their minds worked, taking a subject that was Mars foreign to most people on the planet and applying it to their everyday lives. Let’s just say I was a convert and made a mental note not to judge a book by its cover.
Then the knife came out, plucked from a sheath and thrown, blade first, into the dirt in the middle of my feet.
“Okay, smart guy,” the biggest of them said. “Now show us how YOU use this stuff.”
I gulped and tried to gather my thoughts. This would take some quick thinking.
But that’s the next story.
Stay tuned, Dear Diary.
THE SECRET JOURNAL OF NEIL PATEL #14
WARNING: NEIL TYPOS AHEAD...
Yeah I know. It’s been a minute since I’ve given you the punchline of my motorcycle adventure. Sorry. Duty called.
To rehash: me + motorcycle + hungry/thirsty bikers = ???
So there I was, sandwich churning in my stomach. Sick for sure. And they’re just staring at me. Especially the guys whose left leg weigh as much as I do.
“More beer?” I asked, trying not to sound sheepish. Trying to sound like Top or even Gaucho. I’m pretty sure my voice squeaked. So much for being one of the tough guys.
A middle-sized guy nudged a smaller guy. “Ask him,” middle-sized guy says.
“You ask him,” smaller guy says.
“Fine.” Middle-sized guy looks me square in the eye and reaches inside his pocket. I’m pretty sure I was close to running, if I hadn’t been surrounded. I somehow mustered the courage to suck in my fear and face whatever horror was coming.
He pulled it out slowly, probably relishing my unease.
It wasn’t a gun that came out. Not even a knife. Hell, I might’ve even expected a snake.
Nope to all three. Instead, with eyes suddenly questioning, middle-sized guy pulls out a phone and holds it out to me.
“You think you can show us how to open crypto accounts?”
I almost laughed when the air gushed from my lungs.
“Umm, sure,” I said, and the lesson commenced.
But that’s only the beginning. Next time I’ll tell you WHY they wanted crypto.
Stay tuned, Dear Diary,
Neil of the mighty Patels
THE SECRET JOURNAL OF NEIL PATEL #13
WARNING: TYPOS AHEAD... CUZ IT'S NEIL
Man. Who’s brilliant idea was it to put me on a motorcycle?
Hmmph. Me. That’s right. Me, myself and I. My oh my.
Back to the fun. Remember, gas station, sandwich stop, hoard of bikers bent on smushing me under their fat-back tires?
Here’s what happened.
Big Boy #1: “Pretty bike.”
Big Boy #1: “It wasn’t a compliment.”
Big Boy #2 <smirking>: “I’ll bet we can get a pretty penny for that thing.”
Big Boy #1: “What do you say, pretty boy? Wanna loan us your pretty little bike so we can make a pretty little penny?”
I had to give it to the guy. He had a way with words.
Me: “Look, guys, how about I buy you each a sandwich inside? I hear they’re the best in town.”
Big Boy 1 and 2 were now joined by 3, 4, 5 and 6. Crap.
Big Boy #2: “I don’t think you have enough money to buy me all the sandwiches I plan to eat.”
There were chuckles of agreement to this. Crap again. Think, Neil.
Me: “Beers are on me. What’s your brand?”
I know it sounds so stereotypical. It did coming out of my mouth. But they went for it. Pretty soon I had a shopping list as long as my arm and #1 through #19 were salivating.
Screw it. At least they didn’t look like they wanted to eat me alive anymore. Cash I had. Extra limbs I was short on.
They were kind enough to help with the groceries. A couple hundred dollars lighter, I was invited to join in the festivities. I could not say no. I thought about texting someone: Cal, Top, hell Daniel. But they had their eyes on me pretty good.
I took small bites of my sandwich and somehow swallowed them down with water. They chatted and I listened. Then the inevitable happened. When the sandwiches were gone and the beers properly dented, their attention turned to me.
The tale continues…
THE SECRET JOURNAL OF NEIL PATEL #12
WARNING: NEIL LIKEZ TYPOEZ
Never go on your first motorcycle ride alone. Never.
Here’s what happened:
I thought I had the hang of it. It’s not like a bought the heaviest bike on the market. Nope. For this I did my homework. I chose a motorbeast that I knew I could handle. And I could.
I did great. I spent the first hour just tooling around the University. That got to be a pain because of all the pedestrian crosswalks and buses. But it was great practice. It gave me the courage to go farther!
I decided that the back road were safer than the highway. I did not buy said motorbeast for such things. Too fast for me, at least right now.
It was a perfect day in Charlottesville. Sunny and fresh. Everything seemed to be going my way. I tooled the byways for hours. I understand why riders do it now. There’s a peace to it. A freedom that riding inside an automobile bubble can’t give you.
All that fresh air and freedom growled up quite the appetite. By the time I made my way within fifteen minutes of home I was starving. Ravenous. Chew my own— well, you get it.
I found a tiny little bar/sandwich shop/gas station. I went inside, ordered a sandwich and figured I’d earned a beer, then I went gas up my motorbeast.
That’s when it started, Dear Diary.
There I was, minding my own business, when one, two, three, four… soon fifteen hard-nosed Harleys pulled into the station. No two on ones here. No, sir. These guys looked like they were on the warpath. And guess who they picked as their first mission? Me.
Crap. Look at the time. I’ll clue you in on the rest next time.
Sorry to sketch and run.
THE SECRET JOURNAL OF NEIL PATEL #11
WARNING: NEIL DUZ TYPOZ
Sooooooo, I bought bike. Yes, a motorcycle with actually gas and everything.
I’ve gotta say: I’m in love.
After some consolation with the boys at TFG HQ, I decided to go with the black on black, zero chrome, nothing but business look.
It was delivered this morning and all I’ve been able to do it sit there and look at it. Well, stare it and drool a little.
Here’s my plan:
- tomorrow I’ll have one of the guys, probably Dunn, show me how to ride it.
- the next day I’ll look into getting a license
- the day after that I’ll practice before and after work.
- then, and only then, I’ll take it for a spin around Charlottesville.
Phew. I can’t believe I’m doing this. But I’m seeing the side benefit already. I’m not think just about work. I’m thinking about the open road and random adventures. Hell, maybe I’ll convince the other guys to buy their own.
Maybe I’ll surprise them and buy one for everybody!
Slow down, Cowboy.
But it is exciting. Freedom. I didn’t know I’d longed for it. I have all the money I’ll ever need and still I feel trapped. How strange.
Maybe that’s a breakthrough I should tell Doc about.
Yeah, I think I will.
Feeling good, Dear Diary. I am feeling good. Fingers crossed that I don’t lose my other foot!
- NeilWARNING: NEIL DUZ TYPOZ
THE SECRET JOURNAL OF NEIL PATEL #10
WARNING: NEIL ❤️S TYPOS
Last entry I mentioned motorcycles. I had no idea where it was going to take me.
I went shopping.
I looked stupid.
The salesman was way nicer to me than I deserved. He showed me everything from dirt bikes to highway cruisers.
I sat on some and marveled at others.
I tried to channel my dad, to ask him which one he liked. No answer.
Well, I guess this sort of thing isn’t supposed to be easy.
Okay, I thought it was gonna be easy. I thought I was going to buy a bike, learn to ride, and BANG, I’d be good as new.
Stupid. So stupid.
You guessed right if you think I’m feeling sorry for myself. I am. It dumb and it’s childish. Maybe I should throw a temper tantrum. asdfinaosidfnlaskdnflasndf!!!!!
Yeah. That’s me cussing. aasidnfiasndnaslkdnaskndkfnasd!!!!!
Good to get that out.
Some good news. Well, I guess it’s good news.
Ever since Doc put me on this path I’ve come to realize, slowly, that my work has suffered because of detachment.
Ummmm. Maybe ‘detachment’ was the wrong word to use. You know, because of the foot and all….
So yeah, I guess I’m in the market for a Vespa, scooter, Harley, something. More than anything I’m in the market for a change of brain venue. I wish I could snap my fingers and come out of it.
Nope. Not that easy.
I’ll work on it. And I’ll tell you ever silly detail along the way.
Because diaries are the best of friends. They don’t judge. They just listen.
So thanks for listening, Dear Diary. I hope you have juicier juice for you soon.
THE SECRET JOURNAL OF NEIL PATEL #9
WARNING: NEIL = TYPOS
Time to stop snooping. There’s plenty of work to do. Why do I add more to my plate? If something comes of the Daniel thing (okay, two things: Anna and the pings) I’ll deal with it then.
Higgins is right. I need to take time for me.
So what do you do when your head doctor tells you take time away from work when work is what you love most? You dig. You dig deep.
Doc Higgins had me do an exercise where he had me imagine my childhood. I was supposed to remember the times I had fun. Not surface level fun but deep down can’t stop thinking about it day and night fun.
This was hard to do. Ever since I lost my parents, I don’t like thinking back to when they were here. It’s not that I don’t miss them. The opposite it true. I miss them every day. Every. Single. Day.
I’ve used their loss to fuel me. And guess what? Doc says that’s part of the problem, that I’ve depended on their memory for my drive.
Okay. Hard pill to swallow.
I sat for a long time. Then I went for a looooooong walk. My stupid fake foot hurt like hell when I was done. I took off my prosthetic and it was in that motion, in that pain that the memory flushed itself from my brain.
My father loved motorcycles.
He used to take me to shows and shops, always window shopping. He told me stories about riding fourth-hand bikes when he was a kid. They had a game where they’d chase stray dogs and try to catch them with their bare hands while riding. Crazy. Reckless. The opposite of who I thought my father was. But a great memory that I’d pushed down long ago.
So I guess I’ll start there. Motorcycles. Maybe I’ll learn to ride. Maybe I’ll buy one. But you won’t see me chasing down stray anything.
Motorcycles. This is not where I saw this journey going.
Night, night, Dear Diary,
Your wannabe Motörhead, Neil.