Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chapter 3

         Sam sat at his desk and looked at a copy of the letter he had recovered from the house.  He had poured over it, analyzed and tried everything he could think of to get more information from it.  Nothing.  There was nothing more.  He threw the pen down he had been turning in his hand and rubbed his eyes.  There had to be something more.  He owed Sarah this.
         It had been six years ago that Sarah had pulled his ass out of the fire in Iraq.  He had gotten his  story, and a three month stay in an Iraqi prison.  Not something he liked to remember.  Sarah had been on the team that had rescued him.  He closed his eyes and immediately saw Sarah's face looking down at him as he lay on a dirt floor.  One hand over his mouth and the other shaking him awake.  He had clung to sleep as often as he could.  When he was asleep he wasn't being interrogated.  He thought he was seeing a beautiful angel all in black, with green eyes that stayed with him ever since.  Green eyes.
        Foot steps came up to his desk and he opened his eyes to see his editor standing next to him.  Bob Billings, editor in chief of the Washington Word, had been his boss and friend when he had been taken prisoner and had used every favor he had been owed to get The Company to rescue him.  Sam sometimes wondered what kind of connection the man had with The General but then dismissed it.  He had learned that in this one instance, it was better to know as little as possible about The General. His reporter's curiosity took a back seat around that man.  Sitting forward, Sam pushed the letter from Sharon into a folder and opened his laptop.
          "What can I do for you Bob?" he asked.  Bob leaned against the cubical wall and handed Sam a mug of coffee.
            "I know you are deep into the Sharon King case, but I haven't seen you move on it in a week and I need you to cover something for me."  Sam looked away from the lap top and leaned back with a sigh.
             "I'm still working on this story.  Sarah is coming in tomorrow and hopefully a fresh pair of eyes can get somewhere."
              "She has her boss, the FBI, Homeland Security and even the CIA looking for clues all over.    If there is something to be found, they will find it.  But I need you working for me again."  putting the coffee down Sam rubbed his face with both hands and growled in frustration.  He couldn't argue though.  He was an investigative reporter but didn't have the resources all those other people had.
               "Ok, whats up?" he asked, mentally pushing Sharon's story to the back of his mind.  He watched Bob shift his feet for a few seconds and wondered what was going on.
              "So Amy is out on maternity leave and Kyle is covering the democratic candidate and honestly, I don't trust any of these kids on the political desk to cover the republican candidate…"  Sam stood up quickly and looked at his boss in disbelief!
              "You aren't serious?!  Politics?  What do I know about politics?" he said, hearing his voice starting to rise.  Bob looked him in the eye and went from friend to boss.
              "Exactly why I want you on this.  You know enough to write the story and you aren't emotionally involved like these kids are.  Unbiased journalism in politics is getting harder and harder to find.  Kyle and Amy are my best but Amy can't take a baby on the campaign trail."
              "But this lead on Sharon.  I promised Sarah we would work together on this." Sam said, realizing he was sounding ridiculous.  Bob looked at him and shook his head.
               "You have about a month left until the election.  Virginia is the candidates home state so it's not like you won't be here at all.  Sarah will understand.  I promise to give her any help I can but Sam, there isn't much information to go on."  Sitting back down Sam picked up the pen on his desk and then threw it back down.  Bob was right.  All they would do was stare at the letter and look over the information he had gotten from it, which wasn't much.  His questions around the neighborhood hadn't turned up anything.  People couldn't remember what was happening two years ago.
             "Fine.  When do I fly out?" he finally said.
             "You don't for a couple days.  The guy is home through the weekend for rallies and speeches in the area.  You'll have a chance to catch up with Sarah.  Oh yeah, and here is a bit of news that just came out.  The guy use to be a spook!  We knew he worked for the CIA but apparently before he went into management he was a field guy.  Maybe that will get your brain working.  Could be an interesting angle here."  Sam looked up surprised.  A spook turning politician?  He tried to imagine Sarah running for office and smiled.  Never in a million years.  This guy must have completely turned management.  No one he knew who worked in the field and loved it would willingly give it up for desk work, much less politics.  Not without a good reason.  He turned back to his computer and started a search.  There had to be a reason.  Bob watched him and nodded as he headed back to his office.
              Sam pulled up his search engine and typed in the candidate's name, Jack Sheffler.  Next to it he wrote CIA and then enter.  The entries that came up made him smile.  The usual BS.  It just meant a little more digging.  Something he was good at.  He glanced once at the folder with Sharon's letter.  He was so good, he could dig for two things at the same time.

                            ***                         ***                         ***
             Across town, Jack Sheffler waved to the people behind the barricade outside his hotel.  He smiled for the cameras and almost started laughing at how ridiculous it was that he lived only a few miles from here but was unable to stay there because of the media mob that followed him everywhere.  Secret Service would have made it work but in the end, he felt sorry for his neighbors and decided not to put them through the circus every time he came home.
            Jack was young for a politician, only 46.  He knew that was in his favor.  He walked over to the barricade to sign autographs and meet people.  He was tall, well over six feet, and his close cut, black hair had wings of gray at the temple and sprinkled through out his hair.  His PR people said he looked handsome and distinguished and had advised him not to dye his hair.  Shaking his head at the thought he smiled, shook hands and signed books and papers and pictures.  He sometimes felt more like a movie star then a candidate for president.
          "Congressman, how do you feel things are going?" a reporter shouted.  He turned and smiled as the cameras caught him from every angle.
         "I'm confident we'll be holding on to our lead all the way to the White House." he said.  One of the many lines he was allowed to say.  He sometimes felt like the whole campaign was a script and the guy who read it best one.  So far, he was winning.  He felt a tug at his elbow and saw his Press secretary, Sean, giving him the wrap up signal.  He turned back for one more sound bite.  "I believe the American people are already speaking.  They want a strong leader and I'm ready to step up for them."  He waved and turned to get into the black suburban.  As he settled in he looked to his left and blinked when he realized Sean wasn't sitting next to him.
             "Hello Jack." The General said.  "Your man Sean here said you don't have a lot of time so I'll be brief.  A mutual friend of ours is back in town.  They have new information and are following up on it.  I'm saying this for your own good son.  Stay away.  You can't help her anymore.  And even if every eye in the country wasn't on you like a hawk on a mouse, I would still tell you to stay away."  Jack looked the man in the eye and took a moment to reign in the anger he felt rising.
"I can help, even if it isn't directly.  I know h--"
"No!  It will only make things worse for both of you.  I knew you would find out they were back though and wanted to head you off.  I mean it Jack.  You've chosen your road and there is no way it leads that direction anymore."
        Jack felt his fists tighten and he forced them to relax and unclench.  Choice hadn't been in the cards for him.  Seven years ago he would have never chosen this road and the General knew it.   The suburban pulled to a stop in front of another hotel and The General took ahold of Jack's arm, ignoring the wide eyed shock of Sean, watching in disbelief at the exchange.
        "I mean it.  And don't think I won't find out if you try anything."  He let go and stepped out, casually walking into the hotel and disappearing.  Jack watched him go, ignoring Sean's questions of what was going on.  He hadn't seen her in over six months and the last time they had talked in person she had nearly taken him down in a fit of rage when he had suggested giving up looking for Sharon.  His leg ached just at the thought.  He rubbed the side of his leg where the bullet that had taken him out of the field had torn his hip apart.  Taking a deep breath he shook his head.
"Nothing Sean, it's nothing.  Forget everything you saw and heard."  Jack said as he got out of the vehicle, straitening his jacket.  Sean looked at him in disbelief.
"Congressman, how--"
"Just a visit from an old friend is all.  Don't I have an interview to get to?" he said, clapping a hand on the other man's shoulder, guiding him towards the hotel doors.  Sean took a breath and looked at the papers in his hands.
"Yes.  Yes, you do with CNN."  Jack nodded and walked into the hotel, glancing around for The General but not surprised when he didn't see him.

The Watcher looked away slowly as they saw Jack pan the lobby.  He wasn't looking for them but better to be careful.  No telling just how sharp eyed this politician was.  The Watcher had been warned about him.  But he was perfect, exactly what they needed to stir the pot a little.  The General had certainly told Jack to stay away from Sarah.  Shaking their head The Watcher laughed quietly.  Hadn't the old man learned that telling someone no was the best way to get them to do the exact opposite!

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