Neil sat outside the Korean takeaway, eating beef bulgogi and kimchi, his table companions discussing an upcoming court case.
“So the way I understand it, Neil, the architecture firm you work for applied for a variance and didn’t get it?”
“Yep. In a nutshell.”
“And you believe you have evidence there was collusion to prevent the architectural firm from finishing the project?”
“That makes two nutshells. One more can you can set up an illegal shell game on the square! Haha!”
The lawyer readjusted his bowtie. “We are prosecuting the director of the city department of engineering next week. Any evidence you can give us would be helpful.”
“Well, I’ll do what I can. I was delivering pizza one evening after dance class a couple of years ago and noticed it was an unusually large order for that time of night. It seemed to happen once every three months…”
The lawyer’s paralegal assistant interrupted. “Sounds like a company celebrating quarterly results, perhaps, or late night work on a project. Not that unusual.”
“Yeah, I know. But I haven’t got to the good part. Every one of those deliveries included a pizza warmer box that was cold to the touch.”
“Meaning what, exactly?”
Neil laughed. “Don’t you get it? No pizza inside. Something funny in that, don’t you think?”
The lawyer scribbled a few notes on a legal pad.
“Do you deliver uncooked pizzas?”
“Did you look inside the boxes?”
“I have to. I take the pizzas out when I get to the delivery address so the customer can verify the order.”
“And what was inside the ‘cold’ boxes?”
“Electronic equipment hidden inside a cardboard pizza container. The first box I I delivered I couldn’t tell you what it was. But the second time this happened, I took a photo. A friend said it was a tracking device with a datalogger and he showed me how to hack it, not knowing where I’d seen it and…”
“Neil, before you go on, we need to know if you believe you would be willing to repeat what you’re going to say under oath in a court of law?”
“What do you mean? I’m just giving you evidence.”
“Neil, in a nutshell, as you say, we can’t use evidence that was illegally obtained.”
“What if I said the electronic equipment accidentally transmitted data to my phone as I was transporting pizza. Is that what you mean?”
“If it happened as you said, and you did not tamper with the equipment, we might be able to examine your evidence.”
“It was really happenchance. I always check the pizzas before I deliver them. My friend told me that the dataloggers act as their own Internet hubs, gateways or something like that. I turned on WiFi on my phone as I was doublechecking the pizzas and it linked to the dataloggers when I opened the box they were in.”
“Neil, that sounds legal enough for us to work with. Now, does it have anything to do with the collusion you mentioned?”
“Of course. It’s the data in the logger I’m talking about! Hahaha!”
The lawyer nodded. “What was in the data?”
“Looks like secret plans with a large construction firm outside the country operating here under a bunch of different local business names to completely rebuild the city according to its terms. It details new information every three months about what the city leaders are supposed to do next, including the denial of permits and variances for companies not associated with Ursa Major.”
The lawyer looked up from his pad the same time the paralegal looked up from a mobile phone.
“What did you say the name of the organisation was?”
“Are you sure it wasn’t Canus Major?”
“Yep. Got it right here on my cell phone.”
“Is that the only copy? On your phone?”
“Of course not. It’s up on the cloud, too. I backup everything.”
The lawyer leaned over and conferred with the paralegal.
“Neil, you’ve been a great help. I’ve got to go back to my office for another meeting. Bring your phone by later this afternoon…”
“I can’t. I have dance lessons and classes planned out the rest of the day.”
“Tomorrow morning, then?”
“Sure. What time?”
“Let’s say 7:30. And bring your nutshells.”
Neil laughed. “Ooh, good one! See you in the morning.”
They shook hands and parted.