Life

The Henchman and I

In 2004, I was working as a systems administrator for a software company. To this day I couldn’t tell you what the software did. I could however, tell you how much traffic the network could bear.

The owner, Richard, was a wealthy man having investments in import/export, real estate, banking and technology. Richard had come into his wealth late in his career, and he had become paranoid over the safety of his family. After all, there are shady characters in this world who make their livings on ransoms.

I would often see this dude wandering around the office. Husky, wearing a jean jacket and sporting a huge moustache that matched his head of greying red hair.

“Who is that guy anyway?”, I asked my boss.blackjack
“Him? That’s Richard’s bodyguard.”
“What does he need a bodyguard for?”
“He’s a millionaire.”

One day, I came back to my desk to find Red Head Moustache Dude sitting in my guest chair. He introduced himself as Severin, and he needed my help desperately: His laptop wouldn’t boot.

No prob. Pull out the battery, wait a few seconds. Put it back in. Power up. We’re in.

“Buddy, you’re good!”
“It’s nothing. It’s a very simple trick.”
“Richard was right when he said I could trust you.”

Since that day, Severin became a regular fixture at my desk. We’d go for lunch once in awhile and he’d give me lifts home in his Ford Ranger when I finished late. You’d never know that there were three cameras staring out those tinted windows.

One day he came by and quizzed me on wireless security and discreet web cams. He said he was now in charge of building security and wanted my expert opinion. Wireless protocols were still knew to me, but it would be simple enough to set up.

Severin always seemed to have a project up his sleeve. Some business, some personal. On one occasion, it was to salvage his hard drive and retrieve some sensitive data from his various contracts. He quietly mentioned that if I found any compromising photos of his girlfriend Emily (which I did), to just forget that I saw them (which I couldn’t). Then he left and said that he’d be back in a week.

“Moving the weighted knuckle gloveslast of my shit out of my cabin.”
“Where’s that?”
“Saskatchewan.”
“Never been.”
“You’re not missing much. But it’s quiet. No Neighbours.”

The next time Severin materialized at my desk he had a gash on his forehead and I could see through his moustache that he was missing a tooth.

Severin simply said, “Natives. Thunder Bay.”
“How’s the other guy?”
“Say, what are you doing Saturday?”
“Probably sleeping.”
“What do you say you come help me set up the network. Emily’ll have some dinner for us when we’re done.”
“Sure, sounds good.”

Getting there was easy enough. About 45 minutes from Montreal in a small town that I won’t even name. Tucked away in the woods was Severin’s house. Wood and stone and surrounded by trees on three sides and a craggy rock-face at the back. It was a peaceful place. (I later found out that it was actually Emily’s house and that Severin was just moving in.)

Setting up the network was easy. Trying to concentrate while Severin jumped from project to project was the challenge. I’d be configuring his router’s subnet when he’d interrupt me and ask me if I knew what was wrong with that computer in the corner. How should I know?

“I think it’s the RAM”, Severin would say.
“Could be. I’ll look at it after.”
“Hey, you need some seismic sensors?”
“Not really. What would I use them for?”
“You put them under the paving stones. Tell when someone’s coming up the walk.”
“Why do you have those?”
“Got ’em on Ebay. Half a million of ’em. Got ’em for a song!”

At that point, Emily poked her head in. ” Just throw the damn things out, Sev! I want my goddamn basement back. Come on. Dinner’s ready.”

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  • Severin sure sounds like a VERY interesting man! But, I think I would have been afraid of him – with that missing tooth and moustache

  • Didn’t your mother ever teach you anything about strangers? And that guy sounds pretty damn strange to me. I’m not sure I’d be going into the woods with him again any time soon if I were you. I’m just glad you managed to live to tell about it.

  • Ha! I think Saskatchewan’s motto should be, “Saskatchewan: The quiet Province. Almost too quiet.” I’ve driven through it twice. Yep, you’d be needing a tractor, horse or other vehicle (probably a rusty old pickup) to borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbour.
    😉

  • See, I think that everyone who goes to Thunderbay comes back with a gash on their foreheads and missing teeth.
    And Severin? Whether that name was made up to hide the mysterious man’s identity or really is his name, you just know buddy is going to be a regular in Tom Cruise movies. Probably never leaves home without a seismic sensor in his pocket!

  • He sounds like my kind of guy, frankly. I love men like that! In fact, I’ve loved them too often and too well. It’s hard to get rid of them when you are finished. Poor Emily! I now prefer nerds to “he-men” and it’s a good thing. Fix my hard drive and save my files and you are a god! That other stuff is fun for a weekend though.

  • He was probably the shadiest dude I ever did work for. But he wasn’t scary at all. The missing tooth even kind of made him appear friendlier.

  • He was only strange for the first couple of weeks, then I got used to him. That whole company was strange. Chock full o’ sociopaths.

  • ahhaha…great motto! I’d still love to drive through there someday. I’ve driven some endless cornfield roads, but only stateside.

  • Ok, you’re totally on to me. Of course by protecting his identity, I’m protecting my own. There was probably a price on my head as soon as I hit ‘publish’.

  • You’ll like this tidbit then: Emily mentioned to me that she knew he was decent when she saw how he cared for his cats and dog. She could live with the occasional bar brawl.

  • Emily was so right on this call. If he’s good with pets, he’s a good guy. Bar brawls are not that big a deal to some people. But I’ve always been a lover not a fighter.

  • Really? Okay, now I’d be worried about going into the woods with you.

  • Hmmmm… I bet he could tell some CRAZY stories!

  • You often find that this type of man is very soft at the core. I’ve known a few ‘tough’ men, that have been softies underneath.

  • Saskatchewan is a real place? I always thought that was something Canadians made up to confuse foreigners with poor spelling abilities. Severing seems like a nice guy, though, in a I-might-kill-you-in-your-sleep kind of way.

  • Sev was actually very approachable, but with a lot of dark secrets.

  • Saskatchewan is totally real. You should check it out on Google Street View. It’s incredibly boring, unless you’re into that kind of thing.

    Sometimes I got the impression that Sev was a kill-you-while-you-watched kind of guy.

  • Wow, it’s like you’re friends with a real-life James Bond!!!! Very exciting and it makes me a little jealous.

  • Good one. Gotta wonder about anybody who’d work for cheese anyway.

  • I guess the good news is that you survived the trip.. He didn’t take you away and “hide” you forever. I don’t think I would have had the guts to go away with him…

  • Well he wasn’t psycho, and if he was, he wasn’t that kind of psycho. Still, I wouldn’t want to get on his bad side.

  • More like a retired James Bond. In his heyday he was probably closer to the Bond you’re thinking of.

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