Stool Pigeon Serenade

The passage below, excerpted from Alex Daoud's unfinished memoirs, is set at the Howard Johnson hotel on Alton Road in Miami Beach. Federal agents are preparing Daoud for a meeting with Abel Holtz, chairman of Capital Bank. Their rendezvous location is nearby: the Forge restaurant. A recording device and microphones are being attached to Daoud's body as the scene opens.

Special Agent Debra Miller was in complete control of the meeting. Her voice reflected a smooth confidence that began to put my fears at ease.

At least these federal agents seemed to care about what happened to me. The thoroughness of their preparation and their professional manner were reflected by the knowledge they had gained from the building's blueprints, the building where the meeting was going to take place.

"There are two doors in the front and one in the back. There will be two cars in the front. Jackie and Mike, you have that responsibility. Benny and I will cover the rear of the restaurant. Alex, you are to park your car on Sheridan Avenue in the middle of the block. Under no circumstances are you to let the valet park your car. I don't want anything put in your automobile while you are in there. Julio, you are to park on the east side of Sheridan Avenue. Make sure that you have a clear view of Alex when he leaves his car. I don't want anything to happen to Alex while he's walking in or out of the restaurant. Mike, I want you to be stationed closest to the front entranceway. If anything goes down, I want you to be able to get to Alex within ten seconds. So station your car as near the front door as possible."

For one brief moment Special Agent Miller looked away from the others and stared directly into my eyes.

"Alex, you're going to be all right. We have every exit covered. If they try to move you from the restaurant, we will be right with you. Here is the layout for the building. Put on this beeper. It is a transmitter. We will be able to hear everything. If you need help, we will be there for you."

Mike said, "Alex, no matter what happens, don't let them pat you down. If they try to, put up a fight. Start shouting, 'What's wrong, don't you trust me?' And then accuse them of wearing a wire." Mike's blunt words brought me back to reality, back to the small room filled with government agents, back to the heavy metal tape recorder that was strapped to my leg, and, unfortunately, back to my fears....

But no matter how much fear consumed me, there wasn't any other possible choice but to go on with the FBI's plan. Maybe this was the way heroism was born. Not through courage, but through fear -- and the lack of any other possible choice. For me, there were no other options. No other alternatives but to go to the meeting wearing a wire. To betray the very people who had once been my friends. But in reality, they had betrayed me, and they had allowed that time and that world that I loved to be lost, to disappear, forever.


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