Use code DAD23 for 20% off + Free shipping on $45+ Shop Now!
By Brian Haig
Formats and Prices
- ebook $6.99 $8.99 CAD
- Audiobook Download (Abridged) $18.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around January 9, 2003. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
Also available from:
Also by Brian Haig
The events and characters in this book are fictitious. Certain real locations and public figures are mentioned, but all other characters and events described in the book are totally imaginary.
Copyright © 2003 by Brian Haig
All rights reserved.
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Visit our website at www.HachetteBookGroup.com.
First eBook Edition: January 2003
THE PRISONER WAS LED THROUGH THE DOORWAY BY A PAIR of burly MPs, who shoved him into a chair and immediately began shackling his handcuffs to the table. The table was bolted to the floor, which was bolted to the prison, and so on.
"Guys… no need for that," I politely insisted. And was coldly ignored.
"Look, it's ridiculous," I said, with a touch more indignation. "How's he going to break out of here, much less walk two inches from this prison without being instantly recognized?"
I was blowing hot air, actually to impress the prisoner more than the guards. I'm a lawyer. I'm not above such things.
The MP sergeant stuffed the shackle key in his pocket and replied, "Don't give the prisoner nothing. No pens, no pencils, no sharp objects. Knock when you're done."
He stared at me longer than necessary—a gesture meant to convey that he didn't think highly of me or what I came here to do. Well, neither did I—regarding the latter.
I gave him a cold stare back. "All right, Sergeant."
The MPs scuttled from the room as I turned to examine the prisoner. It had been over ten years, and the changes were barely detectable—a tad more gray, perhaps, but he was still strikingly handsome in that chisel-featured, dark-haired, deep-eyed way some women find attractive. His athlete's body had softened, but those wide shoulders and slim waist were mostly intact. He'd always been a gym rat.
His psyche was a burned-out wreck; shoulders slumped, chin resting on his chest, arms hanging limply at his sides. Not good—little wonder they had stolen his shoelaces and belt.
I bent forward and squeezed his shoulder. "Bill, look at me."
Nothing. More sharply, I said, "Damn it, Billy, it's Sean Drummond. Pull yourself together and look at me."
Not so much as a twitch. The harsh tack wasn't punching through that wall of depression—perhaps something warmer, more conversational? I said, "Billy, listen… Mary called the day after your arrest and asked me to get out here right away. She said you want me to represent you."
The "here" was the military penitentiary tacked onto the backside of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
"Mary" was his wife of the past thirteen years, and the man I was speaking to was Brigadier General William T. Morrison, until recently the U.S. military attaché in our Moscow embassy.
The "day after your arrest" had been two long and miserable days earlier, the "arrest" being the one CNN had replayed over and over, of an Army general being dragged out the side door of the Moscow embassy, surrounded by FBI agents in bulletproof vests, his face a tangle of frustration and fury. Since then there had been countless newspaper articles detailing what a despicably awful bastard he was. If the reports were true, I was seated across from the most monstrous traitor since—well, I suppose since ever.
He mumbled, "How is she?"
"She flew in from Moscow yesterday. She's staying with her father."
This got a dull nod, and I added, "The kids are fine. Her father has some pull with Sidwell Friends Academy, a private school that caters to celebrity children. They're hoping to get them in."
Shouldn't it help to make him think of his wife and family? He was locked down in a special isolation wing and denied any contact with the outside world: no phone calls, no letters, no notes. The authorities said the quarantine was to keep him from exposing more information or receiving smuggled-in cues from his Russian handlers. Perhaps. Unmentioned, of course, was that they hoped the social starvation would drive him babbling into the arms of his interrogators.
I crossed my legs and said, "Bill, let's consider this rationally. These are damned serious offenses. I win more than I lose, but you can find plenty of lawyers who are better. I'll name some if you'd prefer."
The response was a foot shuffle. What was he thinking?
He should be wondering why I wasn't blowing ten miles of smoke up his ass. Most guys in my position would flap their arms, boast and brag, and beg and plead to represent him.
The man was a lawyer's wet dream. I mean, how many general officers do you think get accused of betraying their country? I actually checked before I flew out here—Benedict Arnold was the last, and please recall that he fled to England before he could be tried, so nobody got a piece of his action.
When Morrison didn't reply, I said, "Though, if you'd like to consider me, I know you and your wife. This is personal. I'll put my heart and soul into defending you."
I paused to let that filter in and got… nothing.
"Look, is there somebody else you want? Just say so. It won't hurt my feelings. Hell, I'll even help arrange it."
And indeed I would. I'd throw my heart and soul into it. I wasn't there because he'd asked for me, but because Mary begged me. And if you want the whole squalid truth, that left me conflicted, because she and I had once been, uh… how do I delicately put this? Involved? What do you want to bet that a lawyer was the first one to utter that particular word that particular way?
Were they in the same chess club? Or did they have a torrid love affair that lasted three incredible years?
Yes, incidentally, on the last point.
His lips made a faint flutter, and I said, "I'm sorry… what was that again?"
"I said, I want you."
"You're sure, Billy?"
His head jerked up. "God damn it, call me Billy again and I'll knock you flat on your ass. You're still a major and I'm still a general, you stupid asshole."
Well… now there was a dose of the old William Morrison I knew, and never could stand. I was his wife's old slumber buddy, and trust me on this point: This is hardly a male-bonding thing. Nor would we have been pals, anyway, as he was a general and I was a major, and in the Army that's some hard frost, socially speaking. Besides, William T. Morrison was a stuck-up, overambitious, pretty-boy prick, and what in the hell was Mary thinking when she married him?
She could've done so much better. Like me.
I reached into my briefcase and withdrew a few papers. "Okay, sign these forms. The top one requests the JAG to name me as your attorney. The second allows me to root through your records and investigate your background." I held out a pen. "But first promise you're not going to use this to stab yourself or some such shit."
He yanked it out of my hand, scratched his name on both forms, then threw the pen at me. I mumbled, "Thanks."
He mumbled, "Fuck you, Drummond. I mean… fuck you."
Was this getting off on the right foot or what? I asked, "Have you admitted anything yet?"
"No… of course not. What kind of stupid asshole do you take me for?"
The man is dressed in ugly orange coveralls and is chained to a table in a high-security prison. Can this be a serious question? I said, "Keep it that way. Don't say a thing without me present. Don't hint, sidestep, deny, or evade. Guilty or innocent, your only leverage is what's locked in your head and we need to preserve that. Understand?"
"Drummond, this is my field, remember? Like I need some stupid asshole telling me how it's done? I'll run circles around any jerk-off they bring in here."
The grating arrogance I remembered so well was definitely creeping back to the surface. Was this good or bad?
Other considerations aside, I suppose good. It surely helped that some semblance of his internal spirit was flogging its way into his cerebral cortex. A moment before he'd been a suicidal husk, and if something didn't seep into that vacuum, his whole being might get sucked into nothing.
Anyway, I'd done my duty. I'd warned him, and it was time to complete my spiel. "The Army's facing a time clock of thirty days to formalize your charges and get us into court to plead. A month or so later, there'll be a trial. If you're found guilty, there'll be a sentencing hearing shortly thereafter. Do I need to tell you the ultimate penalty for treason?"
This is the kind of sly query we lawyers employ when our clients are assholes. He frowned, shook his head, and I continued, "Here's how we're going to do this. I'll get a co-counsel who speaks Russian, and I'll set up a satellite office here. Then I'll start my discovery process. You understand how that works?"
"Well, espionage cases are… different. It's going to be a real tug-of-war."
He nodded that he understood, though really he didn't understand squat. He was going to discover that his fate hung on a bunch of secret evidence the government's most tightfisted agencies would fight tooth and nail not to release, even to his attorney; that, unlike with nearly every other type of criminal case, his chances of defending himself were crippled by security rules and stubborn bureaucrats and the government's very strong desire to burn him at the stake.
I mentioned none of this to him—yet. He was already on suicide watch, and I didn't want to send him hurtling off the ledge into eternity. I stood up and said, "I better get going. I'll stay in touch."
He looked up at me with tortured eyes. "Drummond, listen, I'm completely—"
"Yes. Really, this whole thing is—"
I held up a hand to cut him off.
I wasn't his attorney of record and had no business getting into any of this yet. Later he could tell me as many whoppers as he could dream up, and I would patiently sort the exceptionally unbelievable from the barely credible, until we settled on exactly which pack of lies we'd use for his defense.
But in retrospect I should've walked out and never returned.
THE PENTAGON IS NOT MY KIND OF PLACE . THE MANY PEOple who work there do many invaluable things, such as making sure Congress sends enough money every month to pay me. However, the building is huge, dreary, and depressingly impersonal. Stay in uniform long enough, and you'll inevitably end up assigned there. Along the same lines, live long enough and you'll end up crinkly and farty, with a leaky bladder. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about old age. I visit the Pentagon only when I have to.
I made it up to the third floor office of the Judge Advocate General, Major General Clapper, where his secretary insisted he was in a vitally, vitally important meeting that couldn't possibly, possibly be interrupted. Her name is Martha, and it has not escaped my attention that she often repeats things when she speaks to me.
I replied, "Well, Martha, why don't I take a seat, seat while I wait, wait?"
She said, "Shut up… just shut up."
After a brief but chilly wait, Clapper's door flew open and a long line of glum-faced men and women in dark business suits came filing out. For some unfathomable reason all spooks have that look. Maybe all those deep, dark secrets weigh down their facial features. Or maybe they're all foul-humored pricks. What do I know?
Anyway, the instant they were gone I approached Clapper and handed him Morrison's request.
We then walked together, he and I, into his office. The door closed somewhat less than gently, and why did I suspect that an outright "Yes, you're the perfect guy for the job" was out of the question?
He jammed the request in my face. "Drummond, this… What is it?"
"Morrison's requesting me as his counsel."
"That's pathetically obvious. What isn't, is why?"
"Because he thinks I'm a great attorney, I suppose."
"No really, Drummond… why?"
Truly, you have to love a guy with a sense of humor like that. I don't actually love him, but I certainly respect him, and occasionally I even like him. As chief of the JAG Corps, he is akin to the managing partner of the world's largest law firm, with lawyers and legal assistants and judges strewn literally around the globe, involved in a mind-boggling array of complex cases and legal duties. It is the kind of job that breeds irritability, impatience, and bossiness. Or perhaps it's me.
My tiny piece of his vast empire is a small, highly specialized cell that focuses on what are called black crimes—which have nothing to do with racial issues and everything to do with units and soldiers whose missions are so staggeringly secret that nobody even knows they exist. It's a bigger part of the Army than most people realize, and the job of my unit is to handle its legal problems under a blanket so dense that no sunshine sneaks in, or out.
This sensitivity explains why we, including me, work directly for Thomas Clapper. We are a very troublesome bunch and quite proud of it, and I have been told on more than one occasion that I am the most troublesome of the troublesome. It's damned unfair, but nobody gave me a vote.
But, back to Clapper, I said, "I really don't know why he wants me, General. It doesn't matter—an accused man has the right to pick his own representation."
My intuition or, more likely, his expression told me that being lectured on this overriding point of law hadn't improved his mood. He asked, "Do you know who those people were that just left my office?"
"I can guess."
"No—I don't think you can. That was the interagency working group that's supposed to assess how much damage Morrison wrought. Those were the chiefs of counterespionage from the CIA and the FBI, from NSA and DIA and State, and a few agencies I never heard of. They climbed deeply up my ass. They are incensed that an officer of the United States Army betrayed his country in ways you can't possibly conceive. An Army officer, damn it… a general officer. They warned me that I had better not make a single mistake in handling this case." He paused very briefly. "Does that help you understand why I have reservations about you?"
I nodded. Why make him explain it?
He drew a deep breath and added, "Sean, you're a good attorney, but this case is just too damned sensitive. I'm sorry. You're the wrong man."
Well, right, I nodded again—truly, I did agree with him on this point.
"Good." His expression turned friendlier, and a fatherly hand landed on my shoulder. "Now, you fly back out there and tell Morrison why you can't possibly be his lawyer. Tell him not to worry, we'll provide one of our best."
He looked me in the eye and that fatherly hand dropped off my shoulder. "Damn it, do you have any idea what you're getting into?"
"Something about a spy case, isn't it?"
He ignored my sarcasm. This was a wise course. Encourage me and it only gets worse.
I'm not ordinarily predictable, but Clapper has known me long enough to appreciate my peccadilloes. Back when he was a lowly major, he actually instructed a dim-witted new infantry lieutenant named Drummond on the fundamentals of military law. He also happens to be the shortsighted fool who later persuaded the Army to allow me to attend law school and become a JAG officer.
You could argue, therefore, that this situation was his fault. Past sins do come back to haunt you.
Struggling to sound reasonable, he said, "Look… Sean… when the CIA and FBI first approached me with their suspicions and evidence on Morrison, I nearly choked. They've been watching him for months. They have him dead to rights."
"Well, good. All I'll have to do is strike the best deal I can get. Any idiot lawyer can do that. What are you worried about?"
Judging by his expression, a lot. "At least try to see this from my perspective. We're dealing with Russia on this counterterrorism effort, not to mention the ongoing oil talks and nuclear arms reductions and a hundred other sensitive negotiations. The administration doesn't want a dustup with Russia over this case. You see that, right?"
"Yes, General, I see that, but he asked for me, and he has the right to choose his representation," I reminded him, less than subtly, for the third time.
There's the old saying "No man is above the law" that applies even to two-star generals, a sort of divine provenance, or whatever. I had pushed this point as far as was healthy, and it was time to await the verdict.
He finally said, "All right, damn it. It's yours."
"Very good, thank you, sir," I replied, doing my perfect subordinate imitation, which, really, considering the audience and the moment, was a wasted effort. "Oh, I, uh, I have one other request."
"I need a co-counsel."
"Fine. Submit your request and I'll consider it."
"Karen Zbrovnia," I immediately replied.
"No," he immediately responded.
"She's already committed."
"So pull her off. You said yourself, this is the biggest case going."
"Yes sir, you can. Sign the right piece of paper and, poof, it happens. And I'm formally requesting you to. I need Zbrovnia."
His lips curled up. "Well, you see, she's already assigned to the prosecution."
We stared at each other a long moment. Karen Zbrovnia was one of the top assassins in the JAG Corps: brilliant, confident, occasionally ruthless—oh, and a nice ass, if you're the crass type who notices such things. More important for my purposes, her parents were Russian émigrés and had taught her to speak like a Moscovite.
Losing her, however, wasn't my biggest concern. I asked, "You've already formed the prosecution?"
"The prosecution nearly always comes in early in espionage cases. Zbrovnia and her boss have been approving everything for months. They have to live with the evidence, right?"
Well, yes… right. Was it worth noting that I also had to live with that evidence? Or how much of an advantage the prosecution had been handed after being involved in this case for months?
"You said 'her boss,' "I asked, suddenly apprehensive. "Who's in charge of the prosecution?"
It occurred to me that he had been waiting for this moment. The JAG Corps annually presents an unofficial award, a silly twist on the Navy's Top Gun, called the Hangman Award. It has rested on Eddie Golden's office bookshelf two years running, and in an obnoxiously prominent place, telling you volumes about Mr. Golden. I played a role in that award, having faced him three times, the first two of which I was carried out of court on a stretcher. I nearly got the better of him the third time, before it was declared a mistrial, which, technically, was a draw. The idea of Eddie scoring a hat trick on me was sickening.
I mumbled, "I'll send you a name when I think of one."
He nodded as I made my retreat, thinking to myself that I'd ended up with a case I didn't want, representing a client I couldn't stand, opposing an attorney I dreaded. In short, I had kicked myself in the nuts.
I drove off in a fetid mood and raced down the George Washington Parkway to the McLean exit, described in Realtors' brochures as a "leafy, upscale suburb" located right across the river from our nation's glorious capital. Between "leafy" and "upscale" the message is this: McLean is where two or three million bucks in the bank can land you.
I raced past the entrance to the CIA headquarters, took a right on Georgetown Pike, shot past Langley High School and two more of those leafy side streets, then turned into one of what those Realtors' brochures enticingly call an "elegant, highly prestigious address with old world charm." Translation— bump up the bank balance another ten mil.
The street was lined with graceful old mansions that are distinctly different from the new McMansions sprouting up elsewhere, intimating that the residents of this block pay their property taxes with old money. Old money's supposed to be better than new money, but when you have no money, like me, the distinction's a bit blurry.
I pulled into the big circular driveway and parked my 1996 Chevrolet right next to a spanking-new $180,000 Porsche 911 GT2—a glorious thing in shimmering black, a boy-toy of the highest order. I admired it for a long, simmering instant before my car door flew out of my hand and oops—a big scratch and ugly dent magically appeared.
I walked to the front door and rang the bell. The man who answered had a curious smile that flipped into a vulgar frown as his eyes fell on my face. "Drummond?"
"In the flesh, Homer, and it's a real pleasure to see you, too," I replied, with a big phony smile.
He did not smile back. The man was Homer Steele, Mary's father, a guy born with a lemon stuck so far up his ass that the stem poked out his ear. I thought I heard him laugh once at a cocktail party, but when I went to investigate, he was choking on a piece of lobster. I rooted for the lobster, incidentally.
"What do you want?" he demanded in a less than polite way.
"Mary. She's expecting me."
The door slammed and I waited patiently for three full minutes, overhearing a jarring argument inside. Was this fun, or what?
Finally the door opened, and there stood Mary Steele Morrison in her full staggering glory.
So let me explain about Mary.
Remember Grace Kelly… that alabaster skin, those scorching blue eyes, that silky white-blond hair? Remember how she walked into a room and men actually gasped? That's Mary without the slightest exaggeration. One of those Hollywood doubles agencies saw her picture in some society rag and even offered her work as a stand-in.
Two months into my sophomore year at Georgetown, she approached me in the middle of the campus quad and brazenly begged me for a date. A crowd began gathering. People were watching. I did what any gentleman would do, and then the girl started calling me all the time, making a damned nuisance out of herself, and out of pity I dated her for the next three years.
That's how I remember it.
Oddly enough, she recalls it somewhat differently.
Her father wasn't too keen on her career choice, which we'll get into later. She'd stop home on weekends, and there was always some new jerk in a Ralph Lauren sweater, perched casually by the fireplace, sipping sherry, eyeing her like a used sofa her father wanted to pawn off.
From that scant evidence, Mary deduced that her father was trying to mate her with somebody's large fortune, and that put her in a cranky, rebellious mood. The day I worked up the nerve to ask her to go see a movie, she saw the perfect candidate for the perfect plot. In a nutshell, she'd lure me home to meet Daddy Warbucks, and since I wasn't exactly what Papa had in mind, a deal would be struck—the spoiled rich kids and I would mutually disappear.
Her side of the story has going for it that it bears an almost uncanny resemblance to the facts. Homer barely glanced at me before he yanked her comely tush into his study, and the sounds of their yapping and thrashing echoed all over the house. And if you think that's not a crappy feeling, try having it happen to you.
Anyway, now as I stood in her doorway, her arms flew around my neck and she planted a kiss on my cheek. I hugged her, too, and then we stepped back and examined each other, as ex-lovers are wont to do. She smiled and said, "Sean Drummond, I'm so damn glad to see you. How are you?"
"Uh, fine, yeah, hi, gee, crappy way to meet, how are you, you look great."
Am I cool or what?
That smile—I'd forgotten how unnerving it was. Most beautiful women, the best they can do is this flinching motion of a few stingy muscles that comes across more like a favor than a feeling. Mary's smile swallows you whole.
Besides, she did look great. Her face was slightly leaner, and there were a few tiny wrinkles, but the effect was to enhance her beauty—as the poetically inclined might say, sprinkling dew on a rose petal.
She wrapped both her arms tightly around my arm and tugged. "Come on." She giggled. "I swear it's safe. My father promised to leave us alone."
"Gee, I don't know." I peeked inside. "I don't trust the old fart."
Mary giggled some more. "He has a dartboard upstairs with your face on it. He's probably up there right now."
- On Sale
- Jan 9, 2003
- Page Count
- 400 pages
- Grand Central Publishing