I, for one, felt glad to hear he would go. After over eighteen months of knowing about his and Long's activities, it had become increasingly difficult to keep up the charade of friendliness with this hail-fellow-well-met. Quite aside from the fact that he considered me an idiot, as stated in his emails, the investigation, I thought, by now had plenty of material to arrest and indict the thieving duo and more kept showing up: a new line of inquiry, for example, began developing re their possible involvement in an adoption racket with an ex-FSO, who had served with them in Hanoi and was now a Seattle-based lawyer.
Everyone who knew about the investigation was tired. There existed a poisonous atmosphere in the embassy; the bonds of trust that must exist with colleagues when serving far from the flagpole had become strained and frayed. I wanted the investigation to end and, desperately, to leave Colombo. As I told my wife, every time I had to deal with Long and AC I felt the need for an acid bath to remove the slime. Despite, nevertheless, my desire to leave, I remained concerned about the possible intelligence angle involving Long. We had discovered by certain means that she had a huge stack of pre-approved adoption certificates from the Vietnamese government. The adoptee's name remained blank but the rest of the document was signed, stamped, and ready to go. In my view, either Long had corrupt Vietnamese officials on her payroll, or had something else more sinister going on. I spoke to the FBI, but they and the prosecutors wanted to wrap things up. They had no interest in following up.
Life as a criminal in Colombo seemed also taking a toll on AC. One weird incident took place at the couple's house where we got invited to see AC put on a piano recital. Having taken piano lessons in a bid to seem more cultured, he now wanted to show off a bit. My wife found an excuse not to go, so I went alone. At this event there were several embassy people and some Sri Lankans. As usual, the food proved excellent, and poor little Zu had to put on her customary show. AC then sat down at the piano and began to play. He wasn't bad. Half way through a piece, however, he froze; he just starred at the musical score, his hands on the keys but still. This went on for a few painfully long moments, then AC put his chin on his chest and began sobbing, at first quietly and then quite loudly and uncontrollably. Long bolted from her chair, and said AC hadn't been feeling well and perhaps we should let him rest. We all quietly left. Neither AC nor Long ever mentioned this odd occurrence.
AC's planned departure presented a small but vexing problem. Who would give the farewell party? None who knew of the investigation wanted anything to do with it. Long forced the issue by inviting several of us to dinner at the new seafood buffet restaurant run by the Hilton hotel. None of us wanted to go, but in the end, did. It proved a forced affair with AC's buffoonish antics and jokes falling flat--nobody was in a laughing mood. It was just too much to listen to AC and Long tell us that now that AC was looking for a job they had told the kids to economize. One item on the restaurant menu had the ingredient "lemongrass." AC kept repeating that word to Long; they would smile at each other. "Lemongrass" was, of course, the name of the restaurant the two were setting up. We all had to pretend to be stupid.
The next day, the consular section gave a little good-bye party for AC. As DCM, I got asked to make a few comments. I don't remember exactly what I said, but it was bland, certainly not effusive about AC's qualities or full of words stating how much we would miss him. At the end of the party, AC put his big paw on my shoulder, and said, "Lew, man, I am not feeling the love. Where's the love, man? Where's the love?" He seemed genuinely nervous. I could muster only a wan smile and sip my warm soda water. Early the following morning, AC left post with a gaggle of kids, a couple of dogs, and a nanny.
Long, normally one tough cookie, became terrified at the prospect of living in the large house alone. She asked for more alarms, motion detectors, lights, and an increased frequency of patrols around her residence. She even wanted a guard permanently stationed there. I could not help but think that, perhaps, if she knew we had her under constant surveillance she might relax. It soon became clear why Long had become so fearful. Again, true to the scheme laid out in his emails, AC had scored a few more "home runs" before flying to Oregon. He had ripped off the Indian smuggling ring for an amount somewhere north of $50,000. He took the ring's money for visas, and departed without issuing said visas. Long, as we discovered via means I will not describe, was certain that Indian "mobsters" would come seeking revenge. She seemed to see a hit man lurking in every shadow and behind every tree. As far as I know, however, the Indians never showed up.
Long visited me in my office every day, often three or four times daily, as though a sixth sense alerted her that something was up. She told me that her promised assignment in New Zealand seemed to have hit a snag. She couldn't get a straight answer from personnel or from the office of BS of where that assignment stood. BS would not take or return her calls. Long asked me to see what I could discover. I told her to be patient: the Department worked in mysterious and slow ways. Long had become nervous and distracted; I often found her looking out the window, oblivious to the world around her.
DS and FBI investigators consulted with us on when to move against AC and Long. Prosecutors had given the signal that, finally, they thought they had enough to convict AC and Long and get them very long sentences, some fifteen to twenty years in a federal penitentiary. AC was in Oregon and Long in Colombo. There exists a twelve and half hour difference between the two time zones. FBI and DS wanted to effect the arrests simultaneously so nobody could get warned. We agreed that the feds would arrest AC at his home at 7 am Oregon time, making it 7:30 pm in Colombo. The agents wanted Long arrested on Embassy grounds. She would be placed on a commercial plane, escorted by DS and FBI to London, where she and her escorts would transfer to a flight to Washington DC. I was tasked with briefing the Sri Lankans and the British High Commission on the case and seeking their help to make the transportation process go smoothly--we, for example, did not want Long making a "break for it" in Colombo or London, demanding asylum or creating a scene of some sort. The Sri Lankans and the British promised full support.
I will stop there as we approach the end of this sorry tale. We are almost finished.