Last Days of the Condor

BOOK: Last Days of the Condor
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for

Desmond Jack Grady …

… running toward tomorrow

 

RAVE ON

Wonderful artists & colleagues & inspirations, plus loyal fans & friends & trusting sources helped
Condor
fly. THANKS to all of you, especially:

Jack Anderson, Rick Applegate, James Bamford, Richard Bechtel, David Black, Hind Boutaljante, Jackson Browne, Buffalo Springfield, L.C., Michael Carlisle, Tracy Chapman, Tina Chen, Stephen Coonts, Citizen Cope, Dino De Laurentiis, Nelson DeMille, Sally Denton, Sally Dillow, Tom Doherty, The Doors, Faye Dunaway, Bob Dylan, Jean Esch, Bob Gleason, Bonnie Goldstein, H.G., Nathan Grady, Rachel Grady, John Grisham, Francois Guerif, Julien Guerif, Jeanne Guyon, Jeff Herrod, Seymour Hersh, John Lee Hooker, Richard Hugo, Stephen Hunter, The Kingston Trio, Starling Lawrence, L.M., Ron Mardigian, Mark Mazzetti, Maile Meloy, Lee Metcalf,
The New York Times,
Roy Orbison, J.P., George Pelecanos, Otto Penzler, Seba Pezzani, Walter Pincus, Sydney Pollack, Kelly Quinn, David Rayfiel, Robert Redford,
Rivages Noir,
Cliff Robertson, S. J. Rozan, Derya Samadi, Roberto Santachiara, Lorenzo Semple, Jr., Yvonne Seng, David Hale Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Steely Dan, Jeff Stein, Buffy Ford Stewart, John Stewart, Roger Strull, Max von Sydow, Simon Tassano, Richard Thompson, Shirley Twillman, Paul Vineyard, B.W., Jess Walter,
The Washington Post,
Tim Weiner, Les Whitten, David Wood, Bill Wood, The Yardbirds, Jesse Colin Young, Warren Zevon, and Anlan Zhang.

 

CONTENTS

Title Page

Copyright Notice

Dedication

Rave On

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Also by James Grady

About the Author

Copyright

 

1

Something's happening here.

—Buffalo Springfield, “For What It's Worth”

A cover team locked on him that rainy Washington, D.C., Monday evening as he left his surface job, flipped up his hood and stepped outside the brass back door for the Library of Congress's John Adams Building.

A white car.

Indicator One
on the white car as a cover team: Tinted windows and windshield.

Indicator Two
: A car engine suddenly purred to life as raindrops tapped the blue mountaineering coat's hood over his silver-haired skull. He spotted the white car parked illegally at the Third Street corner of A Street, SE, a town house–lined road that ran from Congress's turf through Capitol Hill's residential neighborhood.

Indicator Three
: The chill in the rain let him see wisps of gray exhaust from behind the purring white car. As it didn't pull out into traffic. As it sat there, wipers off, heaven's tears dotting the tinted-glass windshield.

Indicator Four
: No one hurried to the white car from a nearby home. No commuter leaving work splashed through the rain toward it to be greeted with a spouse's kiss.

Indicator Five
: He felt the cover team. Chinese martial artists talk about the weight of a stalker's eyes, feeling the pressure of an enemy's
chi
. Kevin Powell—who got his throat cut in an Amsterdam brothel the year the CIA-backed Shah fell in Iran and the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan—Kevin insisted you must pay attention to your guts, your feelings. Or you'll get butchered on some midnight street. Or wake up screaming in a windowless steel room. That Monday D.C. evening, the silver-haired man standing on hard cement in the chilly spring rain knew what his tingles meant.

One, two, three, four, five
. Like fingers of a hand, a hand that meant
cover team
.

He looked to his left along the sidewalk running past the Adams Building with its six stories of white stone plus basements of knowledge and secrets. The brass door behind him could withstand a car ramming into it or a giant gorilla banging on its locked metal.

Walking down Third Street as if to pass the Adams Building came a man: Caucasian, dark hair, late thirties, white-collar-warrior suit and tie under a tan coat, brown shoes not built for running, holding a black umbrella in one brown-gloved hand, the other holding a cell phone pressed to his face as he said: “Where are you located?”

Could have been a cover team communications ploy.

Feed data via a phony phone conversation.

But the silver-haired man didn't think so:
Too unnecessary.

Suit & Tie Cell Phone Umbrella Man walked closer, now nearly perpendicular to him, brown shoe step by brown shoe step rippling puddles on the dark, wet sidewalk.

A stream of strangers joined Mister Cell Phoning Suit & Tie, all looking like innocent Americans headed somewhere after work on a Monday evening.

If your cover team is there for wet work, sometimes a better option than running from them is to imbue your assassination with Elevated Exposure Costs.

The silver-haired man in the blue hooded coat put his hands in its storm pockets as he stepped away from the Adams Building. Run, he did not run. He joined that stream of eight pedestrians, five of whom walked under umbrellas. Like a blue penguin, he wove a crooked course to the center of the umbrella group—innocent bystander casualties being a classic EEC.

The smart move.

Unless the cluster of strangers he'd slid into belonged to the cover team.

The Israelis used a twenty-nine-member cover team for the Dubai hotel room assassination of one Hamas executive back in 2010.

Of course, a cover team didn't necessarily mean a hit or mere surveillance: these strangers walking with him under their umbrellas on a Washington, D.C., Capitol Hill sidewalk could be a snatch crew who he'd now let surround him.

But none of his fellow pedestrians vibed
hunter
as they marched toward the restaurant row on Pennsylvania Avenue just up from the House of Representatives' three castle-like office buildings. He flashed on sixth grade, walking to school with other kids. He remembered the smell of bicycles.

We're all kids on bicycles,
he thought.
A flock of birds.

Wondered if
whoosh
his flock of umbrella strangers would sense a shift in the universe and bank another direction and
no,
he hadn't run to join them, though he remembered the joys of long-distance jogging before his knees, back, and the bullet remnants in his left shoulder all conspired against him.

Back then, he'd been passing through Washington as the powers that governed this hydrogen bomb–blessed country argued about blow jobs in the White House. When he jogged during that work trip, his aches & pains decoded as
no more running for fun & fitness
. He accepted that evolution.

But like he remembered blow jobs, he remembered how if you run fast and there's a littler kid near you, you've got a better chance because Beirut snipers prioritize wounding the littlest kids to tempt rescuers.
Run,
you can make it to that doorway if only that doorway were there instead of the intersection of Third Street, SE, and Independence Avenue where it's tonight, you don't have a bicycle, and there is no sheltering doorway or black-smoke stench of burning rubber tires at street barricades.

Focus
: This is here. This is now. Washington, D.C. A chilly rainy evening.

Hold on to that.

You can hold on to that.

Sure
.

There's a cover team on you.

If nothing else, have some pride. Make them work for it. Whatever
it
is.

Third Street, SE, is a one-way route from busy Pennsylvania Avenue, passes Independence Avenue that heads out of D.C. like an illusion of escape. Third Street means rows of parked cars on both its Adams side and across the road in front of town houses often harboring political action committees for Congressmen whose public offices are two blocks away, only a four-minute walk from their official duties to private property where they can make legal phone calls whoring money for elections. Any car—

Say a cover team's white car.

—any car parked facing the Adams Building on A Street, a block up from Independence Avenue, was stuck with a right-hand turn: the only legal choice. Parking where they had meant they couldn't pull out of their surveillance spot, turn, and drive down Third Street the wrong way against traffic, the route he always walked home, so
—

So the cover team knew his predictable route. So they were that kind of
they
: informed,
briefed
. Knew he wouldn't—
couldn't
—walk past them, put his shoes on the sidewalk of A Street, SE, that close to
where
. Once they knew he was out & on the move, on foot, going toward Independence Avenue, the white car would turn right with the one-way traffic flow as if they weren't covering him.

Then circle the block. Given rush-hour traffic, rainy weather, odds are they'd be at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Third Street, SE, in time to spot whether he diverted down to Pennsylvania's main street of bars & restaurants or continued on his normal route up Independence. Odds are, he'd be walking with the outbound traffic, so the white car could slowly drive behind him, leapfrog parking to keep him ahead of their windshield. Eyes on him the whole way home.

Just in case they'd put shoes on him, too, he didn't look back.

Instead, he scanned the bright lights of the restaurants and chain-store coffee shops and bars that served both Congressional staffers on beer-bottle budgets and lobbyists who made champagne flow. He cranked his head as far as he could toward the giant yellow-bulbed traffic sign that had been set up after 9/11, with its insistent arrow ordering all trucks to turn off Pennsylvania Avenue's route between the House of Representatives office buildings and the Congress's iconic Capitol building.

He saw the Congressional cop standing in the rain beside a cruiser parked next to the flashing detour sign. Wouldn't matter if the truck that disobeyed the detour warnings was a cargo of dead tree products driven by a lost fool or a suicide bomber's rental truck packed with fertilizer in a concoction powerful enough to devastate two city blocks, the cop knew he'd need to risk holding position in the kill zone and try to shoot out the truck's tires before it blasted America's core of government.

BOOK: Last Days of the Condor
9.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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