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Cyclops One DeFelice Jim




50

“They’ll know we’re watching,” said McIntyre. The coffee was good for his head, but what was it doing to his stomach?

“Yeah, you’re right,” said Fisher. “Probably it’s just a wild goose chase.”

“I think we ought to do it,” said Howe.

McIntyre didn’t know if the theory made any sense or not; he just knew he didn’t want to be alone, fearing the nightmare might return.

“Tell me more about your theory,” he said.

“There’s not much more to it,” said Fisher.

Howe glanced at him, frowning as if he knew he were lying, but the Air Force officer said nothing himself.

“Another time,” said Fisher, getting up.

“Wait.” McIntyre looked toward the doorway, as if he expected the child to appear. “It wouldn’t be too hard to set up, but I’d have to talk to Dr. Blitz about it.”

“Good,” said Fisher. “Where’s your phone?”

* * *

An hour and ten minutes after being woken by McIntyre’s phone call, Dr. Blitz sat behind his desk in the West Wing of the White House, trying to run the fatigue from his eyes. McIntyre still looked shell-shocked from his experience in India, and Colonel Howe just looked exhausted. But the FBI agent, Andy Fisher, smirked in a way that suggested he didn’t need the coffee he was chugging. His offhand manner was difficult to decipher; Blitz couldn’t tell if he was trying to provoke a response or was just naturally a jerk.

“I don’t believe any of this,” Blitz told Fisher after he outlined his theory.

“Yeah, it is pretty far-fetched,” said the FBI agent. “It’s out there.”

“So why are you here?”

Fisher leaned his face forward as if he were going to say something utterly profound. Instead he scratched his ear. “You came to D.C. from teaching, right?”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Blitz had the distinct impression that Fisher was examining him as he spoke, watching his reactions the way a miner panned through sediment, looking for gold.

“Nothing.” Fisher leaned back against the chair, resuming his slump. Blitz knew the agent had been involved in high-level espionage and technology cases before, and assumed he wasn’t the dummy he pretended to be.

And then suddenly he realized the import of the question he had just been asked.

“You think I’m involved, don’t you?”

“Are you?” answered Fisher.

“I ought to throw you out of here.”

“It’s happened before.”

Blitz locked his eyes with the FBI agent.

“Don’t be a wiseass, Mr. Fisher.” Blitz turned to McIntyre. “The launch-surveillance satellites can’t pick up the laser discharge except under very specific circumstances.”

“I’m aware of that,” said McIntyre. “But we could use the test monitoring plane, the RC-135.”

“It’ll tip them off.” He looked over toward Fisher.

“Probably,” said the agent.

“It won’t matter if they know,” said McIntyre. “That’s the point, isn’t it? You want them to know you’re watching, because you’re hoping they’ll do something you can trace. And if they don’t and you’re right, their missile will miss and that’ll be evidence anyway.”

Everybody looked at Fisher.

“Anybody mind if I smoke in here?” he asked.

Chapter 8

Bonham knew he had convinced Howe that Fisher was crazy, but that didn’t completely eliminate the FBI agent as a threat. Before going to bed, he sent another E-mail to Megan emphasizing the importance of carrying out the dismantling program and in the morning picked up where he had left off in his campaign to reassure himself that the others weren’t stepping around him. Bonham decided he could use Fisher to his advantage and discreetly mentioned the FBI agent’s visit during several phone calls. He also decided he would have it out personally with Segrest, and so arranged to have lunch with him. Segrest suggested a Chinese restaurant well out of town; Bonham didn’t particularly care for Chinese food but he decided to go there anyway, since the setting would give them freer rein to talk.

At twelve-thirty in the afternoon he left his office and drove farther out into rural Virginia, passing green hills divided into horse paddocks by thick, flat rails of white pine. If he hadn’t been following the directions carefully, he would have missed the turn, and if he hadn’t known about the restaurant, he never would have seen it. It was an old farmhouse marked only by a small wooden sign near the driveway.

Inside, the two-hundred-year-old structure had been gutted and given a sophisticated sheen. Wide chestnut planks with thick varnish greeted him in the foyer, along with a very short and thin Asian-American who bent nearly to the waist. The man led him into a large room whose far wall was now old brick; spotlights played on the empty fireplace, and two waiters stood in the corners, though there were no other guests at the small tables.

Bonham told him he was waiting for someone and opted for water rather than a drink.

Eric Hovanek walked in a few minutes later, towering over his host as he was shown to the table.

“Where’s Segrest?” demanded Bonham.

“Relax, General. Something came up.” Hovanek ordered a martini. “They don’t have menus,” he told Bonham. “You can ask for anything you want or just let them feed you.”

“Why isn’t Segrest here?” Bonham thought of leaving: Hovanek was just a sophisticated gofer, a former stockbroker whom Segrest had befriended. After a short stint as Segrest’s personal “moneyman,” he had taken on the role of clone, sitting on boards and attending meetings the wealthy young bastard was too lazy to attend.

“Something came up. You said the meeting was important, and so he sent me instead of canceling at the last minute.”

Hovanek’s cell phone rang before he could say anything, and Bonham found himself staring at the thick layers of cloth on the table, which alternated between white and mauve. The host soon returned with Hovanek’s martini; Bonham asked for a Glenfiddich. Hovanek was still on the phone when a young waiter appeared with a dish of pickled sprouts.

“Cash flow problems,” said Hovanek, his voice shaded toward an apology after he snapped the phone closed. He pointed to the sprouts.

The waiter appeared with a plate of noodles slathered in sesame sauce and topped by a row of shrimp and cucumbers.

“This is to get us in the mood,” said Hovanek. He took his chopsticks and sampled the food. “Excellent.”

“I want to talk about the FBI agent, Fisher,” said Bonham.

“Why?”

The host appeared with the Scotch. Hovanek told the man to go ahead and feed them with whatever the chef decided they should have.

“You worry too much, General,” said Hovanek. “Everything is fine. You yourself are doing well. I heard your name mentioned for assistant defense secretary the other day.”

“Fisher wants them to watch the tests for a laser,” said Bonham.

“Is that a fact?” Hovanek was neither surprised nor, from what Bonham could see, concerned in the least.

“All right,” said Bonham. He pushed his seat away from the table. “Make sure everyone knows. My way or no way.”

“General, you haven’t eaten. You really should.” Hovanek smiled up at him. “Mr. Young will think you don’t like his food.”

* * *

Bonham drove around for a while, trying to seperate his distaste for Hovanek from what the lackey had said. He hadn’t actually said anything meaningful, Bonham finally decided, but whether that meant Segrest really was up to something or not, he couldn’t tell. Exhausted and finally hungry, Bonham pulled off at a McDonald’s around three to get something to eat. It was the last place anyone would look for him, but as soon as he stepped through the doors and approached the overlit front counter, he felt comfortable, a teenager again slipping away from high school to grab a burger after school.

Bonham ordered a Big Mac Meal, declined the super-size option, and walked with his tray to the back. He started to grab for a newspaper along the way, then thought better of it. He needed a break from everything for at least a few minutes more. He was getting too paranoid to function.

A young father was fussing over his four-year-old son in the next booth, dabbing his chin with a napkin. Bonham gave the guy a smile, watching the pair as he ate. The kid was reasonably cute, and the father was attentive; they would have made a decent commercial as they walked out the door hand in hand.

It was a bit pathetic that a grown man had to play baby-sitter in the middle of the day, Bonham thought. But what the hell.

The food put him in a better mood. Bonham listened to an old Johnny Cash CD on the way back to his office. Once there, he whipped through some paperwork BS and returned a few phone calls, including a backgrounder for a Washington Post reporter, who traded a bit of gossip about one of the senators on the Intelligence Committee. The bad taste of Hovanek gradually washed away, and by the time he walked into his condo a little after eight, Bonham was in an expansive mood. The Red Sox were on the tube: They had a 3–0 lead over Baltimore. Bonham jacked up the volume and pulled off his jacket and tie, walking to the bathroom. As he turned on the light, something moved behind him. Before he could react, the back portion of his skull seemed to implode.

Chapter 9

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50

Жанры

Деловая литература

Детективы и Триллеры

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Дом и семья

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Религия, духовность, эзотерика

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