ON THE ISLAND Rob Lubitz 2011
To my wife, my angel, Joanne: For her loving support and encouragement; and for letting me use her credit card
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Thanks to the following individuals who reviewed earlier drafts of this book and offered their criticisms and suggestions: Gary Antoniewicz, Tom Bly, Diane Buckingham, Rick Kern, Patti McQuillen, Marcia Morey, Fred Santesteban, Deb Start, Martha Taylor, Dennis Valenza, Joyce Valenza and my mother, Elizabeth Greenberg
UNTHINKABLE “Am I dreaming?” He tried to open his eyes but the sunlight was too bright and painful. Perspiration trickled down his face, tasting salty in his mouth. He wanted to wipe the sweat off his face but he couldn’t move his hands. The floor swayed under his feet, gently rocking back and forth.
“Where am I?” He strained to open his eyes again, squinting hard. The light wasn’t as blinding as before, and in front of him a shimmering shape began to form, drifting up and down. He continued focusing, gradually forcing his eyes wider. It was a woman, sitting across from him, silhouetted against a blue sky and even bluer water. He realized he was on a boat.
“Who am I?” He couldn’t remember his name, where he was, or how he got on the boat. Someone was talking to him. “Good afternoon, Mr. Butler.” He didn't recognize the voice but it was guttural and tinged with sarcasm. “Enjoying the cruise?” He tried to turn his head, to see who was speaking, but couldn’t move. All he could do was sit, staring straight ahead at the woman. She was becoming clearer now; tan with blazing red hair; wearing a white t-shirt tied above a pink bikini bottom. He thought he knew her, but wasn’t sure.
“What is she holding?” There was something shiny in her hands. He strained to make it out but the sweat kept pouring down his face, stinging his eyes and blurring his sight. Sunlight danced erratically off the object in her hands, like a mirror. No, it wasn’t a mirror!
“She’s holding a gun!” He was becoming aware of his surroundings; the hard flat bench he was sitting on; the boat railing pressing into the small of his back; the cry of seabirds; and something heavy in
his lap. He couldn’t look down, but felt his fingers wrapped around a smooth metallic handle, damp and oily in his palms.
“What am I holding?” In a flash of panic he realized it was a gun in his hands. He struggled to get up, run, escape, but instead sat frozen, unable to will his lifeless limbs to move. The man was speaking again, to both of them. He was telling them to do something, something unthinkable!
“What is she doing?” He could see the woman across from him clearer now. She was raising her arms; holding the gun; trying to keep it steady against the shifting of the waves, pointing it at his chest. Inexplicably he felt his own arms lift as he brought his gun up to his eyes, taking aim at the woman. It was all coming back now. He was beginning to remember everything, his old friend, the CIA, and the beautiful redhead facing him.
“This is real!” He squeezed the trigger.
CHAPTER ONE Twenty-six days earlier Friday, July 11, 1986 For most Americans there was nothing memorable about July 11, 1986; Ronald Reagan was president, the Berlin wall still stood, Mike Schmidt was leading the major leagues in home runs, and traffic was backed-up on Interstate 95 from Washington to Baltimore. For Ryan Butler, it was a day that would change his life forever and a day that would alter world history. Ryan sat in his new black Mercedes Benz 300E, a gift from his wife Elaine, fiddling with the radio. Alternating his foot between the accelerator and the brake, he kept pace with the intermittent lurching of the traffic. Aerosmith screamed from one station. On another, there was a discussion of nuclear fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, interrupted by reports of an overturned truck near the Baltimore Tunnel and warnings of severe afternoon thunderstorms. Above, a helicopter hovered like a huge dragonfly, barely visible through the summer smog. Ryan pulled a map out of the glove compartment and unfolded it on his lap, searching for an alternative route. It was late afternoon and had already been a long and frustrating day. He had left Philadelphia before dawn to join his law firm's senior partner, Ned Heaton, for a meeting with one of their major clients in Washington. The nervous executives at the Ornone Chemical Corporation were in panic mode over a blizzard of environmental lawsuits. The meeting had not gone well for Ryan. â€œScrew you Ned Heaton!â€? Ryan muttered to himself, alone in the Mercedes, stuck in a sea of traffic. He was still fuming about all the additional work that Ned had unexpectedly thrust on him at the meeting. It would be another long weekend in the office.
The clock on the dashboard read 4:55 PM. He estimated he had traveled less than a mile in the past two hours. In the distance, he saw signs for an upcoming exit. Squeezing the Mercedes over to the shoulder, he made his way onto the exit ramp just as the first thunderclap shuddered through the air. As best he could tell from the map, the exit would lead him to an unmarked road heading west that would eventually take him to Route 32. He would slice across the rural farmlands of Maryland and Pennsylvania and then back to Philadelphia from the west side of the city. It would add miles to the trip and would take him out of his way, but that was better than sitting in traffic. Besides, it wasnâ€™t like there was somebody waiting for him at home. With Elaine gone on another weekend business trip, their condominium would be quiet and empty. The thunderstorm hit with violent force as Ryan searched for road signs through the rainsoaked windshield. Coming to an intersection, he turned right following what he thought was Route 32. He continued on a winding two-lane road for about twenty minutes until the rain gradually stopped. The road narrowed, winding through rolling hills dotted with grazing cows. Low on the horizon, sunlight streamed through the clouds painting the fields in a green iridescent glow. He turned off the air conditioning and opened the windows. The air was cool and fresh with the rain, smelling of earth and wet grass. Ryan relaxed his grip on the steering wheel and took a deep breath. It was good to be out of the city. Elaine loved downtown Philadelphia with its trendy restaurants; theaters, crowds and activities, but he missed the quiet solitude of the country. It finally dawned on Ryan that he was lost. In the distance, he could see the outline of a small town resting on a hill. A sign welcomed him to Middleton, Maryland, Founded 1826, Population 16,285. The name of the town was vaguely familiar. Old maple and oak trees lined the road into Middleton, partially obscuring stately old homes, many with wraparound porches, white wicker furniture, swings, and green striped awnings. At the
center of town, the road circled around an ancient stone courthouse, guarded in front by two civil war cannons. A small cluster of shops stood on the far end of the circle. He spotted a drug store and parked in front, hoping to get directions. As he was getting out of the car, a sign on a storefront across the street caught his eye, ‘Shannon Insurance Agency, Richard Shannon Jr. Agent’. “Rick?” Ryan whispered to himself, slowly realizing why the name of the town was so familiar. He walked over to the storefront and peered in the window. A big, ‘Closed for Business’ sign hung on the door but inside he could see a wall covered with framed photographs. Each of the pictures showed the same man smiling and shaking hands. Sure enough, it was Rick. Older, a little heavier, but still Rick. There was also several other framed pictures of Rich, much younger, in a baseball uniform, holding trophies. Ryan hesitated. He hadn’t seen Rick for nearly two decades, but their lives were forever connected. Now that he was so close, he couldn’t leave without calling. He walked over to a phone booth by the drug store and lifted the tattered white pages that dangled from a thin chain. Nervously, he found the number for Richard A. Shannon, Jr., dropped a quarter into the slot, and dialed, hoping that nobody would answer. “Hello, Shannon residence,” a friendly female voice answered. “Hello, may I speak with Rick Shannon, please?” There was a long silence. He was about to ask again when the voice replied, “Rick's not here. May I ask who's calling?” The voice was different, not so friendly now. “My name's Ryan Butler. I'm an old friend of Rick's from way back—we played baseball together back in the sixties, in the minor leagues. I was just passing through town and remembered that Rick lived here so I thought I'd give him a call. Will he be in later?” “Rick's in the hospital,” she answered curtly without emotion. “Oh, nothing serious I hope.”
She didn’t answer. After a long pause, he asked, “Are you Rick’s daughter?” “I'm his wife,” she said, her voice guarded. “Nancy?” He asked hesitantly, remembering a pretty brunette with dark brown eyes. “No I’m Alana. Nancy’s his ex-wife.” “Oh,” Rick said feeling stupid, “like I said, I haven’t seen Rick in a long time. Is he able to have visitors?” “No, he’s in a coma.” Ryan hesitated, not sure how to respond. “I'm so sorry to hear that. What happened?” “It's a long story,” there was tension in her voice. After more dead silence, Ryan wondered how he could gracefully end the call. The woman obviously did not want to have a conversation. “Listen Mrs. Shannon, I’m sorry if I upset you. I know that you must be going through a very difficult time. I wish there were something I could do to help. I hope Rick recovers soon. When he does, please tell him that Ryan Butler called. Let me leave you my home number…” “Where are you calling from?” “I'm at a phone booth in front of the Middleton drug store right in the center of town.” “Please stay there!” Now there was urgency in her voice. “I’ll be there in about ten minutes. Please don’t go!” “Sure,” he responded bewildered. “Ten minutes, please don’t leave!” she repeated and abruptly hung up leaving Ryan standing dumfounded by the phone booth. Ryan wondered what was going on with this woman. One minute she was reluctant to talk and the next she seemed desperate to meet him. Perhaps she didn't want to talk over the phone, maybe somebody was listening.
Propping his shoulder against the phone booth, he surveyed the town. Except for the drug store, all the businesses had closed for the weekend and the downtown streets were nearly deserted. An elderly couple walked by eying Ryan suspiciously. Ten minutes passed and nobody showed. A few cars and a pickup truck drove by but that was all. While waiting, Ryan thought about Rick Shannon, remembering the summer of 1966; the small towns, the old dilapidated stadiums, the endless bus rides, and the occasional cheers from the crowds. He could see Rick walking up to him on the mound, grinning with that infectious boyish smile. “Slow it down big guy. Just get it over the plate. You don’t have to strike out every batter.” Rick was a little older and had been playing Double A baseball for a few years. He was a borderline catcher, good behind the plate but only a fair hitter with limited power. Still he had an outside chance of making the major leagues some day and that was enough to keep him in the game. Ryan, however, was on the fast track. He was the top pitching prospect for the Chicago White Sox with a ninety-eight mile per hour fastball and a $30,000 signing bonus. It all had ended so abruptly for both of them. He checked his watch again. It was close to 6 PM and he still had several hours of driving ahead. He regretted making the call. Why stir up old painful memories. Another five minutes passed and Ryan decided that he couldn't wait much longer. In the distance, a police car approached, slowed down as it neared his parked Mercedes, and pulled in behind it. A very tall, lanky police officer bounded out and immediately headed towards Ryan. With his sallow complexion, thin black mustache, and long narrow face, he reminded Ryan of a young Vincent Price. He stood several inches above Ryan’s six foot three frame. “Are you Mr. Butler?” The officer asked. “How'd you know my name?” Ryan asked.
He ignored the question. “I'm officer DeNardo with the Middleton police department. I'd like to ask you a few questions—why don't we walk over to the patrol car? This shouldn't take long,” his voice friendly but assertive. “I'll explain all of this in a little bit. It will be a lot easier for both of us if you just cooperate.” “Cooperate about what?” “Let’s just sit in the car now,” the officer said calmly, motioning towards the police car. Ryan hesitated but then decided that there was no point in objecting until he knew what was going on. He sat in the car across from the officer. DeNardo turned down the police radio, and then angled his long body to look directly at Ryan. “First, I have to take care of some legal technicalities.” He pulled an index card from his shirt pocket and gave Ryan an uncomfortable look. “I’m supposed to read you your rights…” “Now wait just a minute!” Ryan said, his face reddening, “What the hell’s going on!”
CHAPTER TWO Same Day Officer DeNardo finished reading from the index card and placed it back in his shirt pocket. “Nothing personal,” he said looking embarrassed. “The lawyers tell me I now have to read this stuff before I question anybody—you know, give you your rights.” “Question me about what?” “About Rick Shannon’s coma.” The questioning began. “What is your name, address, and age?” “Why are you in Middleton?” “How long have you known Rick Shannon?” “When was the last time you saw him?” “What do you know about Rick Shannon’s finances”? “Where were you on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 17?” As the questions moved from the general to the specific, Ryan realized that that there was something strange about Rick’s coma. DeNardo asked his final question, “Do you know why anybody would want to harm Rick Shannon?” “Absolutely not! As I told you, I haven't seen the man for twenty years. Now can you tell me what this is all about?” Officer DeNardo let out a deep breath as though an unpleasant ordeal was finally over. He shifted his long legs in a vain attempt to get comfortable. “Please let me see your identification.”
Ryan handed him his driver’s license and his business card that identified him as a senior attorney with Duke and Associates in Philadelphia. “So you're a lawyer?” Stated DeNardo, impressed. “I'll have to check out your ID and your story but you appear to be telling the truth. Sorry to put you through all this but we can't afford to take any chances. I'm not sure how much Mrs. Shannon told you about Rick's condition, but it's a very bizarre case. His prognosis looks really bad, him in a coma and all. People around here are very upset about the whole thing. Everyone liked and trusted Rick and a lot of people have been left holding the bag.” Ryan had no idea what he was talking about. “What happened to him?” he asked. Officer DeNardo shifted his legs again and began to explain, “Well Rick ran the insurance agency here in town, took it over when he got back from college after his dad died. His customers included most of the local businesses here. Most people insured with him just as they had with his father. He also handled the city and school insurance needs. No problems, everyone always got a fair shake from Rick—but about four weeks ago he gets a call in his office. He tells his secretary to cancel all his appointments. Says he’s going to meet an old friend who just called and happened to be passing through town—just like you called Mrs. Shannon. He gets up, leaves his office, and tells his secretary that he'll be back a little later. But he doesn't come back to the office that day and never comes home that night. Doesn't show up the next day either. His wife, Alana, is frantic by then and calls the police to report him missing. We put out a missing person’s bulletin on him. Two days later, we get a call from the Baltimore Police Department. They found a man there who matches Rick's description—found him laying on a park bench down by the inner harbor—no wallet or I.D. on him but the cops notice him because he’s wearing a nice suit unlike the other homeless in the area. They try to wake him but he doesn't budge. At first, they think he’s just drunk but when he doesn't respond they take him to the hospital. After a while, they check with missing
persons. They call my office and take Rick over to Baltimore General. The doctors there run a battery of tests but can't help him. They really don't know what's wrong with him except that he appears to be in some kind of a coma.” “Is he still in Baltimore?” “No, I drove down to Baltimore with his wife, Alana, and we were able to positively identify him. He looked awful. Poor Alana, she was sobbing all over the place. Finally, the doctors say they can't do anything for him and they transfer him back here to the regional hospital, just outside of town. Since then he's just lying up there with all kinds of tubes hooked into him. It's sad to see him like that. He was such an energetic guy, always smiling, telling jokes. I guess I don't have to tell you that.” “I still don't understand—what happened to him after he disappeared?” “We don't know, except for one thing. This is where it really gets strange. Turns out that on the afternoon he disappeared he went into Baltimore and began withdrawing cash from his bank accounts. He wiped out his checking accounts, savings account, IRA's, money he was saving for his daughter’s education. He also emptied all his business accounts and there was a lot of money in those accounts. He even got cash advances on his credit cards up to the limit. In all, he pulled out about $250,000 in cash from about ten banks.” “Where’s the money?” “Nobody knows—it's all gone. He didn't have a penny on him when they found him. He left his new wife, Alana, with no money at all and he’s supposed to be sending his ex-wife child support—but she's not getting anything now. Also, a lot of people who paid their insurance premiums to Rick have been left dry. Rick kept a lot of the premium money in intermediate accounts and then he would transfer the money to the big insurance companies on a set schedule.
Those accounts were all wiped out including a very large payment for the school district. Now a lot of people, and the school district, have been left uninsured.” “So when I showed up you thought that I might be the same person who called Rick that day?” “Yep. We hoped you might be the guy, or knew something. You can imagine what Mrs. Shannon must have thought when you called and identified yourself as an old friend of Rick's and all. She called the police station immediately after she got off the phone with you. She was nervous as hell. You really shook her up—she's such a nice sweet girl too. It's really sad. They were newlyweds, only married for about three months. He met her at an insurance convention in the Bahamas last winter. Next thing you know they got married. People around here were shocked.” Officer DeNardo lowered his voice to a hush, as if someone might be eavesdropping. “She's a lot younger than Rick, and really good looking too. You know folks around here didn't take too kindly to her at first—her being so young and the way Rick left his first wife. But she's really a nice and classy lady and she's been through so much. I don't now how she's making ends meet now that all the money is gone. She lost a lot of her own money since they had joint accounts. Maybe her folks are helping her out. That reminds me; I promised I'd call her as soon as I finished checking you out. I know she's waiting for my call.” Officer DeNardo got up and went over to phone booth while Ryan sat in the car trying to sort it all out. He watched DeNardo on the phone; he was doing most of the talking but kept looking back towards Ryan. Finally, he left the phone dangling, walked back over to the car, and bent his long body over to the window. “I told her that you appear to check out. She'd really like to meet you—to apologize. You being an old friend of Rick’s. Is that O.K.?” “Sure,” said Ryan, but not at all sure that he really wanted to get any more involved.
Officer DeNardo walked back to the phone and talked a few more moments, hung up, and came back to the car. “We're going to meet her over at the hospital; it's about ten minutes from here. It's a little hard to find so why don't I drive you over there. You can leave your car here and I'll bring you back.” Now it was Ryan's turn to ask the questions. “Did anybody see this person who called Rick?” “Nobody saw him with nobody,” answered DeNardo. “Those who remembered seeing him at the banks say he came in alone and left alone. The only thing we know about the caller is that he had a deep voice, and told the secretary he was an old friend of Rick's. He didn't give his name. We've tried to come up with some kind of explanation. We speculated that maybe Rick set the whole thing up—planned to take the money and run—but somehow got mugged in Baltimore. But that doesn't make any sense knowing Rick. Or we thought he had debts to pay off or something. Sometimes you just don’t know about people. But again that just doesn't sound like Rick and there's no evidence that he was in any kind of trouble or owed anybody money.” They were driving down a long single lane road heading east out of town. The road was similar to the one Ryan had come in on but the land seemed slightly flatter and more open, with cornfields backing up to forests. The car shuddered over every little bump in the road and, after driving the Mercedes, Ryan wondered if the police car had shock absorbers. “Does anyone know how he ended up in a coma? Was he beaten or injured?” Ryan asked. “Nope, there were absolutely no signs of any physical injury—no bruises or scars. The white coats also said there was no sign of any internal damage or trauma—no drugs or other foreign substances in his body either.” “Do you have any other leads or clues?” “Not until you showed up,” DeNardo laughed.
CHAPTER THREE Same Day As he drove with Officer DeNardo to the hospital, Ryan thoughts drifted back to the morning’s events. In Washington, his boss, Ned Heaton, had been silky smooth as usual. Exuding confidence, he reminded the anxious Ornone Chemical Corporation executives of his law firm’s impeccable record in fighting asbestos-related lawsuits. He recited their impressive list of big-name clients and once again congratulated them on their wisdom in hiring Duke and Associates to represent them. He even casually dropped the names of several U.S. Senators who were regular golf partners. “As you know,” Ned said, pausing for dramatic effect, “Duke and Associates has never lost a case in the asbestos field.” He neglected to mention that hundreds of cases were currently tied up in litigation, but still there had been no loses. In the process, Ned had built a reputation as one of the premier lawyers in the country for fending off environment lawsuits and had made quite a fortune for himself and the firm. Ryan said little during the meeting; knowing he was merely there for decoration, thrown in to show how important the Ornone account was to the firm. His mind drifted as Ned breezed on, thinking about all the work piling up back at the office. Ned continued, “I understand your concern and I know that you are worried about the increasing number of lawsuits originating in the Bay Area. I'll tell you what I’m going to do. Instead of sending one of our junior attorneys, I’m going to send Mr. Butler here to San Francisco next week to take the San Francisco School Board deposition. We normally don’t send our star attorneys to take depositions, but this time we’ll make an exception—to demonstrate how important the Ornone account is to our firm!”
Ryan looked up in protest, but Ned shot him a quick glance signifying that they would discuss the matter later. Ryan knew that this was classic grandstanding by Ned and a waste of his time and the firm’s resources. He also knew that he was hardly one of the firm’s star attorneys. Nevertheless, Ryan smiled and solemnly declared to all in the room that he would be pleased to go to San Francisco and represent the Ornone Corporation. It wasn’t until an hour later, when they walked through the air-conditioned lobby into the hot and steamy Washington pavement, that Ryan voiced his objection. “What was that all about me going to San Francisco? You know I have to prepare for trial next week!” “Sorry to spring that on you, Ryan, but I sensed their anxiety, thought we needed to reassure them—show them we were really taking this case seriously—you know, bolster their confidence—demonstrate our highest level of commitment and, fortunately, you were there my boy,” Ned said while craning his neck searching for a taxi. “But I can’t go, Ned. I need time to prepare.” Ned stopped and turned quickly to face Ryan. He lifted a finger towards Ryan, not threatening but more like a teacher talking down to a pupil. “When a partner tells you to do something, you do it! This is a very important client for the firm. You will go to San Francisco next week—understood? For Christ’s sake, Ryan, you’ll be on the plane for five hours each way; you can work on the trial then. Besides, you have two full weekends to prepare. I hate to say this, but if you had taken the Amtrak with me instead of insisting on driving yourself, you could have worked on the trial during the train ride.” Ned sighed and put his hand on Ryan’s shoulder, “This is the final stretch Ryan, the governing board meets in two weeks. The partnership is within your grasp. Focus my boy. Please don’t let Elaine down.” With that, Ned turned and descended into a taxi, disappearing in the heavy Washington traffic.
Ryan resented Ned’s condescending tone. Ned treated him like his protégé although they were both nearly the same age. What made Ryan particularly mad was that he knew that Ned was right. He should have taken the train, but he hated the thought of spending an entire day with Ned. Ryan wondered why a man so smart and successful needed to talk so much about himself. He was sick of nodding politely as Ned went on and on describing his brilliant investments, his world-class art collection, his new yacht, his winning racehorse, his expansive wine cellar, and all the enthralling accomplishments of his over-achieving children. Most of all he was sick of being reminded of what a good friend he was of Elaine and how he was responsible for getting Ryan his position with the firm.
As Office DeNardo turned the police car into the hospital parking lot, Ryan became restless. He didn’t have time for this. He wasn’t looking forward to meeting Rick's new wife. He didn’t know whether Rick had told her about the accident and he didn't know how to react if she brought it up. He just couldn't afford to be distracted, not now, not with the partnership meeting so close. It had been a mistake to take the exit off the Interstate.
CHAPTER FOUR Same Day Entering the hospital, Ryan immediately noticed the beautiful young woman in the corner looking out the window, about five foot seven, with brilliant blond hair, a slender figure, wearing a silk white blouse and tan skirt. She turned gracefully, waved at Officer DeNardo and approached them beaming, a lovely welcoming smile. “You must be Ryan Butler,” she said offering her hand to Ryan. It felt soft and warm. “I really want to apologize. I guess Officer DeNardo explained what happened. When you called and said you were an old friend of Rick’s, I just didn't know what to think. I was so scared. I called the police as soon as I hung up—I'm still shaking now.” She held out her hand to show him. “I'm so sorry. Please forgive me. This last month has been a nightmare.” Ryan was transfixed. Her blond hair was swept back in a ponytail and she was wearing only a slight hint of makeup. She didn't need makeup. She was stunning, with a delicate face, a small finely chiseled nose and full lips. Her complexion was flawless and her skin radiated with a bronze glow, but her eyes astonished Ryan. They were the greenest, most penetrating eyes he had ever seen. She must have been a model, thought Ryan, but she showed no signs of a model’s haughtiness or conceit. She was exceptionally beautiful yet seemed totally natural and unaffected. Ryan, on the other hand, was flustered in her presence. “Enough of this,” she said as if she were scolding herself, “let’s get to know each other. Tell me all about yourself and how you know Rick.” She gave Ryan a dazzling smile. Officer DeNardo excused himself and Alana invited Ryan to sit down beside her on the couch. “Dr. Steinberg won't be here for at least fifteen more minutes,” she said, and began asking
questions. How long had he known Rick? What was he like as a young man? Was he as funny then as he is now? Ryan’s brain was functioning on two levels. On one level, he was carrying on a relatively coherent conversation, but on another level he was studying her every expression and nuance. He noticed the red polish of her nails as she brushed a wisp of hair from her face. He noticed how her breasts slightly tugged the fabric of her blouse when she leaned forward. He noticed how her skirt inched up slightly on her thighs as she adjusted her position. He noticed the hint of muscle in her calf moving down to the curve of her ankle as she swayed her foot back and forth. Occasionally, he caught a wisp of her scent, soft and clean. The rest of the room faded while as talked. He told her some stories about Ryan, when they played together for the Evansville White Sox minor league team. She especially liked the story about Rick’s efforts to learn to play the guitar and how he was so bad they stopped the team bus and threw him off somewhere in the middle of Tennessee. “We drove ahead about five miles and then went back to look for him—but he was gone. We must have spent an hour going up and down that damn road trying to find him. Finally we gave up, headed for our next town— all of us quiet, and worried. Wouldn’t you know when we arrived at the hotel in Knoxville, there was Rick sitting at the bar with a beer and a grin the size of Texas. The joke was on us. In those days people still picked up hitchhikers.” “I know Rick has no musical talent at all,” she said laughing, “he can’t even play the stereo.” All the while, he wondered if Rick had ever told her about the night of the accident. Probably not, he thought. If he had, she would know who he was. She asked how long it had been since he had seen Rick and Ryan told her not since they played together for Evansville in 1966. “We spoke to each other a couple of times the following year when Rick went to graduate school in Wisconsin.”
“Wow, I knew he went to school in Wisconsin, but I didn’t know it was graduate school. I guess there’s a lot I don’t know about Rick. We were only married three months.” She stopped quickly, realizing what she had said. Her voice choked. “I didn’t mean to say that, to talk like he’s gone. I meant to say we’ve only been married three months.” Her eyes welled up and she searched for a tissue in her purse. “I’ll be all right,” she said regaining her composure. “Let’s talk about you. What do you do?” He told her that he was a lawyer and she gave him a look of mild shock. He related a little about his legal career and was surprised to realize how proudly he spoke of his experience as a prosecutor for the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and how fleetingly he spoke of his current position with Duke and Associates. “Are you married?” she asked. “Twenty years now,” he answered. “Any kids?” “No.” “OK, Mr. Lawyer,” she said with mock seriousness, “tell me did you or did you not ever make it to the big leagues?” “No, I never did,” Ryan answered now knowing that Rick had never told her about the night in 1966. “Now it’s my turn to ask you questions. How did you and Rick meet?” She smiled, “I met him in the Bahamas. I had just started working for an underwriting company in Atlanta. I was doing conferences and conventions—you know, covering the display booths at the exhibition hall, answering questions and promoting the company. Actually, the Bahamas convention was only my second assignment. I was there for the National Conference of Independent Insurance Agents and so was Rick. It all happened so quickly.”
“Go on,” Ryan said curious as to why a beautiful young woman like Alana would be interested in a middle-aged insurance agent from a small town in Maryland. “I don’t know,” she said wistfully, “there was just something about him that I found attractive. I had spoken to him in the exhibit hall about the company and had promised to send him some information. He seemed really interested, and didn’t try to hit on me like most of the other men there. Later that evening I saw him at the bar with a group of people and walked over to say hello. We talked for a long time and before I knew it the others had left and we were sitting together alone. After a while, I found myself telling him things I never had told anyone before. He just had that way about him. I felt comfortable and safe with him.” She smiled and put her hand on Ryan’s forearm. “You know I’ve had some lousy luck with men in the past, mostly my own doing. I’ve made a lot of bad choices and done things I’m not proud of. Rick was a new type of man to me, warm, funny, secure, and loving. Something I needed and still need in my life.” Ryan wondered how long she would keep her hand on his arm. He could sense the faint rhythm of her pulse through her fingertips. “The next time we saw each other was at the airport on our way home. I said hello and told him how much I enjoyed talking with him that night. He then asked me if I would consider going out with a man his age. He asked in a respectful and sincere way. I remember saying absolutely, on the condition that he never mention the age thing again. He flew down to Atlanta a couple of times after that and before I knew it he was asking me to marry him and I was saying yes.” “It must have been a difficult transition moving from Atlanta to a small town like Middleton,” Ryan said. “It’s been a little hard, everybody here knows everybody. At first, I thought they resented me, especially because of my age but I'm not really as young as I look—I’m almost thirty. A lot of
people here had been friends with Rick's ex-wife, Nancy, and I think they thought that I had been the cause of the break-up. But honestly, I didn't meet Rick until after he had been separated.” Suddenly she moved her hand away to wave; “There’s Dr. Steinberg!” Ryan interpreted that a signal to leave and he stood up, “Well I'd better be going. If there's anything I can do…” “Your not leaving are you?” she asked. “I want you to meet Dr. Steinberg.” “The doctor?” he answered puzzled, “Why?” “So you can talk to Rick. I know he'd like to hear you.” “I don't understand," Ryan said, sitting down again. “I thought Rick was in a coma.” “He is, sort of—but not really. I don't fully understand it myself but Dr. Steinberg can explain. That's why I want you to talk with him.” She placed her hand back on his arm, “You don't have to if you don't want to.” “No, I'd like to see him if you want me to,” Ryan lied, he really wasn't sure he wanted to go through with this. “Good!" she said turning to greet Dr. Steinberg. Dr. Steinberg was short, bespectacled and pudgy with curly rings of brown hair. Ryan was surprised at how young he looked. He must be right out of medical school, he thought. The doctor looked tired and stressed but his face lit up when he saw Alana. He walked right over to her and shook her hand. “Hello Mrs. Shannon,” he said warmly, smiling shyly, like a smitten young boy. She introduced him to Ryan. “I told Ryan that you would explain Rick's condition and maybe, after that, he could talk to him,” she said. Dr. Steinberg led them to an examining room, bright and sterile, and they sat down in a circle of folding chairs. He adjusted his glasses and began to speak, looking directly at Ryan. “This
is a very strange and bewildering case, Mr. Butler. Rick appears to be in a coma. He does not respond to outside physical stimuli. If you prick him with a needle, there’s no reaction. He has to be fed intravenously and has no control over his bodily functions. In that regard, he reacts just like anyone else in a comatose state. Externally he appears unconscious, but I don't think he is—neither does Alana.” Alana nodded. Dr. Steinberg moved forward in his chair trying to get closer to Ryan. He took off his glasses and began speaking again, in a whisper, as if confiding a secret. “All the tests we've run on his brain functions check out normal. There is no sign of trauma or damage. We've run the full battery of tests, EEG’s, CAT scans, MRI’s, everything. We sent him back over to Baltimore General for more tests but they couldn't find any physical reason for his coma either. His brain waves, as recorded on the EEG are normal. You can’t distinguish his brain patterns from those of a normal person.” Dr Steinberg shook his head. “People in comas aren’t supposed to have normal brain patterns.” “There aren’t any other cases like this,” Alana offered. Dr. Steinberg elaborated, “This appears to be a unique situation. I have searched the medical literature but there are no similar occurrences. There are cases in which people will drift in and out of consciousness but they all show some internal signs of brain dysfunction or neurological damage—and none of them has a normal EEG pattern. I don't know what to make of Rick's condition, nor do the doctors at Baltimore General. By all outward appearances he's unconscious, but by all internal tests he appears to be functioning normally. It’s as if he is conscious but has lost control over all physical aspects of his body—like his mind has been severed from his body.” The doctor waited for a few moments for this to sink in. Ryan shifted uncomfortably in his chair imagining himself conscious but unable to move.
“Both Alana and I really think he is fully aware of what's going on around him. We have him hooked up to an EEG, which monitors his brain waves. You can actually watch the wave patterns change when somebody talks to him. Exactly as they would if you were talking to a conscious person—just as I'm talking to you now Mr. Butler. Most of the time however, his wave patterns suggest sleep or thought.” Dr. Steinberg glanced at Alana and then back to Ryan. “I’d like to see how he reacts to your voice. If you're willing?” “I already told Mrs. Shannon I’d be glad to talk with Rick if you think it might be helpful. Just tell me exactly what you want me to do.” “Just talk to him,” Alana said, “Tell him some of the stories you told me, about when you played ball together. That's all. Maybe it’ll cheer him up.” Her voice began to crack as she fought to hold back tears. “I know he can hear me. He's so close—he wants to communicate. I can feel it. Why would anybody do this to him?” She started to cry and Dr. Steinberg sat down next to her, placing an arm on her shoulders. “It's O.K.,” he said handing her a tissue. “We're going to figure this out. We're going to get Rick back.”
The rest of the evening was like a bizarre dream. Rick was lying on a bed in a bright white hospital room, hooked up to strange machines through a tangled web of tubes and cords. Mounted above the bed was an electronic monitor. A single green dot continually crossed the screen leaving a ghostly pale wave. Dr. Steinberg explained that the monitor was hooked up to an EEG that recorded Rick's brain waves. The wave patterns changed as Dr. Steinberg and Alana talked. Ryan sat down by the bed, next to Rick's body, and related the same stories that he had earlier told Alana. He was careful not to mention anything about the accident. The wave patterns shifted as Ryan
spoke and soon Ryan found himself directly talking to the monitor, bypassing the slowly breathing body next to him on the hospital bed.
Ryan left the hospital around 10 PM. He said goodbye to the Doctor and had offered his assistance if there was anything he could do. He knew there wasn't. He had shaken hands with Dr. Steinberg and had turned to say goodbye to Alana when she flung her arms around him and hugged him like a long lost friend. â€œPlease stay in touch,â€? she said. On the drive home, he wondered what had happened to Rick. He wondered what had happened to the money. He wondered whether Rick could really hear him and, if so, whether he too was thinking of that awful night in 1966. He wondered about Elaine, what she was doing and who she was with. He even thought a little about work and the upcoming partnership meeting. But most of all he thought about Alana. He could still feel the imprint of her body pressed against his, hugging him goodbye, and he could still smell the lingering trace of her perfume on his shirt. What would happen to her? She had evoked a combination of emotions, warmth and compassion but most of all desire. He imagined holding her, consoling her, kissing her neck, caressing her, and lying next to her, their bodies entwined his mouth on hers. He tried hard to drive that image from his mind. It was after midnight by the time he got back to his high-rise condominium in Society Hill, a fashionable and expensive Philadelphia neighborhood close to the Delaware River waterfront. He parked in the underground garage and took the elevator up to the lobby. The security guard recognized him, wished him a good night, and he took another elevator up to the twenty-second floor. The condominium was dark when he entered and he immediately turned on a light and checked the phone answering machine for messages but there were none. Elaine hadn't called.
Despite the hour, he wasnâ€™t tired. He opened a bottle of beer and walked out onto the balcony. The lights of the city spread out and faded in the distance. Below a steady flow of headlights meandered through the city streets. Quite a contrast from Middleton he thought. He wondered what so many people were doing up so late and thought of all the couples out there, meeting, talking, and making love. He felt very alone. He sat down on a chair and sipped his beer, trying to suppress a growing melancholy. Seeing Rick had stirred all the painful memories, the ones he fought so hard to suppress, the shame, anger, and loss. How many nights had he lied awake, reliving the accident; wishing he could go back in time and change things; dreaming of the man he might have been? But that night was cemented forever in his past, nothing had ever been the same. He finished his beer, walked into the bedroom, and flopped onto the bed. He thought about Elaine, wondering what she was doing, but didnâ€™t really want to know. There was a coldness growing between them that neither wanted to acknowledge. He turned off the lights without undressing and laid quiet, looking up to the ceiling in the dark, wondering if he would ever see Alana again.
CHAPTER FIVE Saturday, July 12, 1986 The cat was stalking a lizard in the grass across the road. It was one of the few paved roads on the windward side of the island and it led up to expensive villas near the top of the volcano-like mountain. From there one could see the entire island surrounded by the azure waters of the Caribbean. In the winter, the road was heavy with traffic as the tourists drove back and forth from their villas to the beach and restaurants below. When summer came, the tourists dwindled and cars were rare. The cat belonged to the Dumont’s who lived back from the road in a small house covered by dense vegetation, banana trees and palms. The three-room house had a sheet metal roof but was equipped with running water, electricity, a television, a satellite dish, and a VCR. It was not part of the island culture to have pets but the little girl, Louisa, had grown attached to the black and white kitten when it had shown up at their door, and finally, after much pleading, her parents permitted her to keep it. They did not feed the cat but that was not necessary on the island. Small rodents, reptiles and birds kept the cat nourished. Neither was food a problem for the Dumont’s and hunger was unknown on the island. Mangoes, coconuts and bananas grew year-round and fish were plentiful. Like most of the islanders, the Dumont’s also raised chickens and pigs. The main source of income for the islanders was tourism and Marcel Dumont had been lucky. Years ago, he had landed a job in the kitchen of the St. Jean’s Bay Resort and had gradually worked his way up to bartender at the Paradise Lounge adjoining the beachfront. The wages were low but the tips were good and the work was steady.
The cat was half way across the road when the red Porsche careened around the corner. At the last second, the driver saw the cat and slammed on the brakes causing the rear of the Porsche to spin to the right. The cat froze and then darted safely to the side of the road. The driver turned the steering wheel into the direction of the spin and the Porsche skidded sideways onto the shoulder of the road, throwing up a cloud of dust and dirt. The Porsche then rebounded back onto the road, fishtailed, and steadied again as the driver regained control. The driver looked back in his rear view mirror to see if the cat was O.K. He couldn't see any sign of the animal but he managed to catch his reflection in the mirror. He adjusted his Calvin Klein sunglasses and stroked his fingers through his short blond hair. He was beginning to get used to the blond hair. He had dyed his hair and eyebrows right before he had come to the island and now he realized that it probably had been an unnecessary precaution. However, the women seemed to like the blond hair and he liked the way it contrasted against his tan face. The driver was in a great mood; everything was going his way. He was young, handsome, rich, and soon to be richer. At age thirty-four, he felt he was in better shape now than he had been eight years ago when he left the Army Special Forces. He worked out every day and there was not an ounce of fat on his six foot two inch frame. His reflexes hadn't slipped either and he was deceptively fast for a man his size. He possessed a black belt in karate; was an expert in handling all kinds of weapons; and for several years had taught hand-to-hand combat skills for the Agency. He knew just how and where to hit a man to disable him or kill him. As he negotiated another mountain curve the beach below came into view, a silver crescent of sand against the blue and green hues of the Caribbean. At one end of the beach he could see the sun reflecting off the red tile roof of the St. Jeanâ€™s Bay Resort. It was there that he would meet the Cuban.
The meeting had been more difficult to arrange than he had initially thought. It took all of his knowledge of diplomatic protocol and unofficial channels to pull it together without giving himself away. The Cuban Government had finally taken the bait and now it was all up to him. He knew that if he played his cards right he would soon be a multi-millionaire. Although he had only been on St. Barts about a month, he had grown to love the island and hoped he would be able to stay once he closed the deal. However, he knew it would be best to move on. The scenery was gorgeous, the weather was great, and the islanders were friendly and unsuspecting. Since coming to the island, he had lived like a king, the way he always dreamed he should live, the way a man like him deserved to live. And, of course, there were the women, an ever-changing parade of young females arriving from Europe or the States every week for vacation. They would stay a week or two and then be gone. It was just the right amount of time to avoid attachments or other complications. Yes, he had found paradise, if only for a while. Pulling his Porsche into the parking lot of the St. Jeanâ€™s Bay Resort, he watched two young girls in bikinis walk by, a tall slender blonde and a shorter buxom brunette. They turned to look at the car, and then to him, and he gave them his broad smile; the one women loved. The girls smiled back shyly and he could hear them whispering and giggling as they passed. Too young, he thought. He liked them a little older, a little more experienced, women who weren't afraid to get kinky. Women who wouldn't cause trouble like that that bitch back in Washington. That's why he especially liked the French women; they didnâ€™t panic because of a little pain.
Marcel Dumont had been having a slow afternoon behind the bar at the Paradise Lounge, but his face lit up when he saw Mr. York. By now everybody on the island knew about the big blond American who drove the red Porsche. His spending and his generous tipping had become legendary
and he was a welcome sight at the bars and restaurants around the island, especially now during the summer slow season. He had been at Marcel's bar many times before. Each time he had arrived alone but usually left with a woman he had met at the bar or on the beach. On most occasions, he had left Marcel a crisp American ten-dollar bill as a tip. The first time he came to the bar he had talked a lot with Marcel, asking him about his family and his life. He seemed genuinely interested, not like most of the tourists who treated him as if he was invisible. After that, every time he came in he would ask how his wife and children were doing and even remembered their names, Philippe and Louisa. Among the islanders, especially the hotel and restaurant workers, there had been much gossip about the man. He had rented an expensive villa on the mountain and had paid in advance in cash. He had then walked into car rental agency and leased the red Porsche, the only one of the island, for three months. Marcel's cousin, who worked at the customs office at the airport, said that Mr. York had entered the island with a British passport, but he certainly looked and sounded like an American. His cousin also told him that he left the island twice in the past two months traveling to the United States. The Paradise Lounge faced the resort’s pool area through a wide-open veranda. From the bar, through the line of palm trees that flanked the beach, you could see the crystal-clear postcard waters of the bay and further out the darker colors of the Caribbean. There was a small service bar set up by the pool and today it was getting the little business there was. “Bonjour Mr. York. Would you like a beer?” the bartender said placing a bottle on the bar. “Not now, Marcel, maybe later. What I would like is for you to do a little favor for me.” “Yes sir,” said Marcel, “anything you would like.”
“I’m going to sit down at that table over there,” he said pointing to a table and two chairs in a far corner of the lounge. “I want you to bring me an iced tea and I want you to make sure that nobody sits near me.” “Yes sir,” said Marcel, thinking it a strange request. The place was practically empty and wouldn’t be crowded until happy hour. “There's a man who's going to meet me here,” York continued, “His name is Mr. Valez. He will be wearing a dark jacket and sunglasses. When he comes in, he’s going to ask for me. Just send him over to my table.” “Certainly Mr. York,” Marcel said envisioning a handsome tip. “Now just bring me the iced tea, no sugar.” York had learned never to mix alcohol and work. For this meeting he would need to be sharp and alert. He walked over and sat down at the table. From his vantage point near the open veranda, he could watch the few people lounging around the pool or sunning on the beach. Instinctively, he checked for any good-looking women and his eye focused on a dark-haired girl sunning near the pool. She was lying on her back wearing only a black bikini bottom, which blended nicely with her tan skin. He couldn't get a real good look at her face but her body looked promising, thin and taut with nice firm breasts. She must be French, he thought, only the French women would sunbathe topless so close to the bar area. He decided that if things went as planned, he would walk over to her later, after his meeting. Marcel brought the iced tea and left. York forced his thoughts back to the subject at hand, rehearsing in his mind what he would say and how he was going to say it. What inflection he would use and how he would maneuver his body posture to make a point. The Agency had trained him on the importance of body language and voice. He had decided that his approach would be aggressive,
to try to take the Cuban off stride, and he was prepared to make a show of walking out if the Cuban balked. He would mention the money right up front: Five million U.S. dollars. A few minutes later the Cuban arrived, short and dark carrying a leather attaché case. He was certainly not a tourist; looking more like a banker in his dark suit and white open necked shirt. He appeared to be in his mid forties, but it was hard to tell. A well-cropped mustache and dark sunglasses hid his face. He talked briefly to Marcel at the bar and then slowly walked over to the table. “Mr. York,” the Cuban said extending his hand, “I am Rafael Valez.” York shook his hand without getting up from his chair and motioned the Cuban to have a seat next to him. He asked the Cuban what he would like to drink and called Marcel over to the table. The Cuban ordered a cola. Neither man spoke, each waiting for the other to begin. York examined the Cuban, and figured that he could be tough. He had a confident arrogant demeanor. Finally the Cuban broke the silence, “I have been led to understand that you have a business proposition that might interest my government. Frankly, I doubt that very much. Nevertheless I have been instructed by my government to allow you to present your proposal.” His English was formal and flawless. “That's very generous of you Mr. Valez, but I don’t care if you are personally interested or not. I am a businessperson, Mr. Valez, and, as a businessman, I sell to the highest bidder. Nevertheless, I have certain sympathies and that’s why I contacted your Government first. I think you will have a lot of explaining to do if you let this opportunity slip. I believe that your Fidel would very much like to get his hands on what I am offering—but it won't come cheap.” “Mr. York, we know who you are and we are not going to be suckered into some kind of game with you and your people. Quit the charade and just tell me what this is all about.”
“Maybe you think you know who I am but I'm afraid all you really know is who I was. Believe me; I’m operating freelance here. Go back and check with your intelligence people—this will be a deal only between your government and me. Nobody else will know anything about it.” The Cuban looked skeptical. “What are you offering Mr. York? Information I presume?” “No. What I am offering is something very different. You might consider it a new weapon.” York leaned back in his chair waiting for the Cuban’s response. “We do not buy weapons from Americans.” “I'm not talking about bombs or missiles. I'm talking about a psychological weapon.” “I don't follow.” “Most weapons are designed to destroy things; buildings and bodies. But isn’t it really the mind that wins or loses wars?” “What are we talking about here?” For the first time, Mr. Valez dropped his veneer of disinterest. York smiled. “Just something that could alter the balance of power…” He stopped as Marcel brought over the cola for the Cuban and another iced tea for Mr. York. York squeezed a lemon into the tea and then picked up the conversation, “Before I tell you anymore, I need to know if you are seriously interested. This is going to go for five million U.S. dollars.” Velez’s face reddened. “That's ridiculous. I’m not prepared to make any deals for that kind of money.” “Why not? Five million is just a drop in the bucket to your government. You have to take into consideration the cost of not buying. If you buy from me now, you’ll be the only nation that has the product—I’m only selling it once. Don’t buy and I’ll just sell it to another country. But in that case it could end up being used against your government. Not only do you
lose the advantage, but now you’re on the defensive. In the long run you have to decide which is the more costly option?” The red in the Cuban's face faded and he looked as if he was trying to decide something. He checked his watch and sipped his drink. “If what you have is that important then we can discuss money, later. First, I need to know what it is that you are offering Mr. York. You still haven’t told me.” “Sure,” said York. “We can work out the financial details later. I just wanted you to know where I was coming from. Let me give you a little background about the product.” He pulled his chair closer.
Marcel washed and stacked glasses, sliced pineapples for tropical drinks, and checked on his ice supply, all the while keeping a close eye on the two men in the corner of the lounge. They were a strange pair, he thought, the small sullen dark one and the tall blond American. They had been meeting for close to an hour and Mr. York was doing most of the talking, occasionally gesturing or pointing his finger at the short man. Two customers, tourists, came into the bar and Marcel quickly ushered them to a table far away from York and the Cuban. He took their orders; brought them each a Pina Colada and returned to his position behind the bar.
About ten minutes later, the Cuban and Mr. York stood up together and shook hands. The Cuban walked out past the bar looking straight ahead, his face expressionless. Marcel wished him a nice afternoon but the Cuban ignored him. Mr. York got up from the table and came over to the bar. At first, he looked very solemn but when he got close to Marcel his face widened into a grin. He reached his long arm across the
bar and rested his hand on Marcel's shoulder. “Marcel, my friend, what's the best champagne you've got here?” “We have a 1975 Dom Perignon, Mr. York, but it costs one hundred and fifty American dollars.” “Marcel,” York said sternly, removing his hand from Marcel’s shoulder, “I didn't ask you how much it cost now did I?” “No sir, you did not.” “Now bring me the champagne and two glasses.” Marcel brought out the champagne, and placed two fluted glasses on the bar. Mr. York picked up the champagne and the glasses and handed Marcel two one hundred dollars bills. “Keep the change, my friend. Now it’s time for me to go outside and practice my French.” “Thank you, sir,” answered Marcel, as he examined the bills and watched Mr. York walk out to the pool area towards the brunette still sunning in the chaise lounge.
CHAPTER SIX Wednesday, July 16, 1986 For the fifth time in the last twenty minutes, Ryan scanned the flight monitors in front of Gate 27 at the San Francisco International Airport. All of the flights were either delayed or canceled. During the night, a thick fog had rolled in, blanketing the Bay Area and bringing the airport to a standstill. Things had been going so well, he thought. He arrived in San Francisco, the day before to take the depositions for the Ornone Corporation that Ned Heaton had promised. He managed to get an early morning flight out of Philadelphia on Tuesday and, with the time change, had arrived in time to complete the depositions that evening. When finished, he checked into an airport hotel and ordered room service. He worked until midnight and set the alarm for 5 AM to catch the early flight back to Philadelphia. He wished that some day when he traveled to a city he could spend a little time instead of rushing in and out. He thought back to happier days when he and Elaine had visited San Francisco in their late twenties. They had become lost in Chinatown but one block later stumbled into an Italian neighborhood. He fondly recalled a dinner of clams, mussels and squid over pasta in a tiny restaurant in North Beach. They both drank too much red wine and staggered back to the hotel. The next morning they planned to visit Alcatraz, but slept-in instead, eating breakfast in bed and making love most of the morning. At the gate, his parked airplane looked like a beached whale through the fog. He was tired from too much work and too little sleep. He struggled to turn his attention to the upcoming trial, but couldnâ€™t concentrate. Fidgeting, he picked up his copy of the San Francisco Chronicle and read it again, this time skipping over the headline, â€˜Commission to Investigate Cause of Challenger Shuttle
Disasterâ€™, instead focusing on the local news items he had previously skipped. A small article riveted his attention:
POLICE HAVE LEAD IN COSTAS KIDNAPPING Sonoma, CA: The Sonoma County Police Department confirmed today that they have a lead in the case of Daniel Costas, the prominent Sonoma winemaker who disappeared last week and was later found unconscious in Golden Gate Park. The lead investigator, Lieutenant Tony Rojas, would neither confirm nor deny rumors that a suspect had been identified. Mr. Costas, the founder and owner of Costas Vineyards, was reported missing last Friday after leaving work to meet an old friend. Several area banks reported that Mr. Costas withdrew large amounts of cash that same afternoon. A spokesperson for St. Lukeâ€™s Hospital in San Francisco reported that Mr. Costas was still in a coma.
Ryan read the article three times. With a rush of excitement, he checked his watch and calculated how long it would take to rent a car and drive to Sonoma. He wavered for a moment and then impulsively decided. He could check it out, and still be back for the late flight to Philadelphia. He convinced himself that it was better than just sitting around the airport waiting for the fog to lift. Forty-five minutes later, he was driving across the Golden Gate Bridge in a rented Ford wondering what he was doing. A chorus of voices told him to turn back, be responsible, stay out of it. But another voice, reveling in recklessness, urged him forward. As he crossed over the bridge into Marin County, the fog rapidly dissipated into bright sunlight. Climbing upward through yellow hills, he could see the Golden Gate Bridge in his rear-view mirror, disappearing into the giant white cloud that enveloped San Francisco.
By the time Ryan arrived in Sonoma, the sun was directly overhead and it was hot. He followed Route 12 around the town square, past the eighteen-century historical home of General Vallejo, and up the road to a cluster of government buildings and parked in front of the Sonoma County Police Department. It looked more like a private hacienda than a police building: white stucco walls, blue tile roof, surrounded by tall palm trees. The sprinkler system was on and he had to dart through the spray as he made his way up the path to the entrance, bordered by rows of scarlet bougainvillea and red hibiscus flowers. At the main desk, he identified himself as an attorney for the law firm of Duke and Associates, handed the receptionist his business card, and asked to talk with Lieutenant Rojas. Once inside, the police headquarters looked more familiar, almost a carbon copy of small town police stations he had known back in Pennsylvania. Gray marble walls covered with portraits of current and former police chiefs, memorials to fallen officers; and the American and State flags prominent in the hallway. Ryan had visited plenty of police offices during his years as an assistant attorney general and he was familiar with law enforcement types. He knew how to deal with them; make them feel important and stroke their egos. Lieutenant Rojas appeared, wondering why a lawyer from Philadelphia was here to see him. Rojas was young, short and Hispanic with a muscular body. He obviously lifted weights and it seemed that his muscles might burst through his khaki police uniform at any moment. He gave Ryan a hardy handshake and motioned for Ryan to follow him back to his office. Once inside, he offered Ryan a hard wood chair and then sat down in his own chair across the desk. “What can I do for you Mr. Butler?” “I'm here for a friend,” Ryan said. “I read about the Costas case in the newspaper and I thought you might want to know about a similar case in Maryland.”
“So you're not here on some kind of official legal business,” Rojas said, looking disappointed. “No. This is really a personal matter.” “What do you know about the Costas case?” Rojas asked. “Only what I read in the newspaper this morning. I was waiting to catch a plane when I noticed this—” He handed Rojas the article that he had torn out of the newspaper. “So how's that going to help me?” Ryan noticed that he kept flexing his biceps. First the right and than the left. He probably didn't even realize he was doing it. “As I was saying, there is a similar case in Maryland that involves a friend of mine.” “So.” “Well, I think the two cases might be related somehow.” “Now that’s quite a leap. You didn’t tell me you were a detective,” he said as he pushed forward in his chair. “Give me a chance to explain. Right this minute my friend in Maryland is lying in a hospital bed in a coma. Four weeks ago, he left work early to meet an old friend and never came back. He was found two days later, unconscious, on a park bench in Baltimore. Sound familiar?” “A little. But I don't see any connection.” “The afternoon he disappeared he traveled to area banks and withdrew close to a quarter of a million dollars in cash. The money's disappeared.” Rojas stopped flexing his biceps and Ryan continued, “Isn't that what happened to Costas? That’s what the paper said.” “You can't believe every thing you read in the papers. Anyway, I'm not at liberty to discuss the case with you. You have no official standing in any of this.
“I read in the paper that there is a possible suspect in the Costas case and I thought there might be a connection of some sort. Something that might also help solve the case in Maryland.” “Maybe, more likely, it’s just a coincidence.” “Can you share what information you have on this case? What your lead is?” “Of course not! Who do you think you are? You come in here and want inside information about a confidential police investigation. That's not the way it works.” “I know that—I didn't figure you'd tell me but I wonder if you would be willing to talk to a police officer in Maryland who is handling the case. I don't have his number but it's an Officer DeNardo with the Middleton Police Department.” Rojas stared at Ryan for a couple of seconds and then buzzed the intercom. “Doris, see if you can get me the Middleton Police Department in Maryland. Check if an Officer DeNardo is in.” He then turned his stare back to Ryan. “We'll find him if he's there. Now let me ask you a question. How can I be sure that you're not involved in this somehow?” “Feel free to check me out, but why would I come here if I was involved?” “Criminals do all kind of stupid and crazy things. Maybe you're working for somebody, trying to get information about the case. Find out what the police know. Let me see your ID.” Not this again, thought Ryan, as he reached into his back pocket for his wallet. Now I'm probably a prime suspect he thought, showing up at the crime scene in two places. Just then, a female voice came on the intercom, “Tony, I have an Officer DeNardo on line five.” Rojas picked up the phone. “Officer DeNardo, I'm Lieutenant Tony Rojas with the Sonoma County police department in California. I have a Mr. Butler here who has been telling me about a case in Maryland which he says is very similar to a case we have out here—yes he’s sitting right here—that’s right Ryan Butler.”
They talked about the case for a while and they agreed to exchange police reports over the fax machine. Rojas asked Officer DeNardo what he knew about Mr. Butler, all the while looking straight at Ryan. He listened a few minutes, put his hand over the receiver, and looked at Ryan, “He says you're all right.” Ryan felt relieved and the conversation continued. “We do have something,” Rojas said on the telephone to DeNardo, “but I'm not sure where it all leads. We got a positive identification from a man who recognized Costas at a gas station on the afternoon he disappeared. He was with another man who was driving a Lincoln Continental. The attendant pumped their gas and got a good look at the driver—a tall muscular guy with long shaggy brown hair and a mustache—also very tan. We got our artist to work with the attendant and they came up with a police sketch for the suspect. I’ll fax it to you when we get off. We circulated the sketch around the area, and the manager at the Vineyard Hotel in Napa thought he recognized the face. Said it matched a man who had stayed there the night before Costas disappeared. He remembered the man because he paid for his room with a one hundred-dollar bill. Fortunately, the hotel had a policy to put bills that big in the safe and luckily it was still there when we arrived. We lifted fingerprints from the bill using the county’s new laser fingerprint device—yep, you just aim the laser over the area and the images are electronically recorded—no more dusting for prints. Amazing, and this one can even estimate how old the prints are. It analyzes the moisture content in the print, or something like that. Not like the old days. Anyway our crime lab boys found two recent sets of prints on the bill, one belonging to the hotel manager and the other—we hope—to the long haired tan guy.” They talked some more about the new fingerprint technology and how it was hard to keep up with all the changes taking place in police work. Rojas was well aware that Ryan was taking this all in.
Rojas continued, “We've just initiated a fingerprint check on the California AFIS system. If he's ever been arrested in California, the computer will match these prints with all the prints in the state’s database. It only takes a few minutes once you get onto the computer system. But, right now there's a little backup getting on the system but we should know something soon—maybe later even today.” Ryan knew enough from his days as an assistant attorney general to know that AFIS stood for Automated Fingerprint Identification System. He had once attended a presentation by a vendor trying to sell such a system to the Pennsylvania State Police and remembered being very impressed. Of course, back then the technology was brand new. The system would scan a fingerprint image, convert it into digital code and store it in memory. The computer could then compare the print with other prints stored in its databanks and identify any likely matches. In the past, this was all done by hand by a specialist who would classify fingerprints into one of 1,024 possible categories. Manual classification was a long, tedious and error prone process and searching for matches could take weeks or months. However, with AFIS, what previously took hundreds of man-hours could now be done in a matter of minutes, and with little chance of error. Rojas was winding down his conversation with Officer DeNardo, promising to notify DeNardo right away if he got a ‘hit’ on the AFIS. That was it and Rojas hung up. Rojas immediately looked towards Ryan. “You understand I haven't told you anything about the case. I followed department regulations and have only directly discussed the case with another law enforcement agent. If you heard anything you shouldn’t have, it was because you were eavesdropping. Understood? None of this better show up in the papers.” “Don't worry, I wasn’t even listening,” Ryan said and gave Rojas a knowing smile. “Now may I ask you some questions that are public record?” “Try me,” Rojas said, starting to flex his biceps again.
“Can you tell me about Costas? Anything that might help link the two cases.” “Daniel Costas is very well known and respected in the area. He’s been real active in the community, gives lots of money to charities, and was elected to the school board a couple of years ago. He's quite a success story—a hero to the Hispanic community here. He was the son of an itinerant farm worker—like my father—and worked in the vineyards with his dad as a boy. But he was smart, real smart, and earned a scholarship to Berkeley. Later he bought some land and started growing his own grapes. First, he just sold them to others but then developed a winery. He's a millionaire now but he never forgot his roots. That's why everyone here is so upset about what has happened—he’s been a symbol of pride for our whole community.” “Has he lived here all his life?” “Like I said, he went to school at Berkeley and I think he spent some time in the Air Force. I believe he also went to graduate school somewhere out in the Midwest, but the rest of the time he's been here.” “Do you know were he went to school in the Midwest?” “I think I remembering reading it somewhere—in Wisconsin.” “The University of Wisconsin?” “Could be.” “Would you know about when he might have been there?” “Not exactly, probably in the late sixties. Why?” “My friend in Maryland went to the University of Wisconsin in the late sixties.” “Maybe a connection?” Rojas said, slightly arching his eyebrows. The two of them talked some more about Costas and Rick Shannon but couldn't find any other possible ways their paths might have crossed. Ryan asked if he could talk to the Costas family but Rojas didn't think that was a good idea.
When the conversation ended, Rojas walked Ryan to the front desk. At Ryan's request, Rojas gave him a copy of the sketch of the suspect and promised again to let Officer DeNardo know if anything new came up.
Upon leaving the police building, Ryan went directly across the street to the Sonoma County Public Library. He checked with the reference librarian to see if the county published a directory of county services and government officials. The librarian produced a small blue book entitled, Sonoma County: A Citizen's Guide to Local Government. Ryan quickly scanned the pages until he came to a section on the school board. Just as he hoped, the book contained small photographs and short biographical sketches of all the school board members. The biography for Daniel Costas indicated he had earned a bachelors degree in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 1966, and a Masters of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin in 1969. Ryan made copies of the pages. It was at that moment he decided to call the airline and change his flight plans. He would stop off in Wisconsin before heading back to Philadelphia. He wasnâ€™t sure what he was doing, or why, but for the first time in a long time in felt excited and alive.
CHAPTER SEVEN Same day As he drove back towards San Francisco, Ryan’s doubts resurfaced. The same chorus of voices kept telling him to forget about this wild goose chase and get back to work. After all, he was to be considered for a partnership next Thursday and this was definitely not the time to be running off. On the other hand, he knew that missing one more day wouldn’t make that much difference and he could make up for the lost work over the weekend. It was the appearance of suddenly taking time off that would look bad. Too late now, he had already called the airlines and changed his flight. The airport had reopened and he had booked an early evening TWA flight from San Francisco to Milwaukee. From there he could drive to the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He wasn't sure what he would tell his office. He was due in at 9 AM tomorrow for a pretrial conference. He'd think of something. At least he didn't have to explain it to Elaine; she was away on business again. This time in Boston. There was one more thing, however, that he needed to do before he left San Francisco. Through a series of telephone calls and wrong turns, he finally managed to find his way to St. Luke’s Hospital where Mr. Costas was a patient. Ryan handed the hospital receptionist his business card and said he wanted to talk to one of the doctors handling the Costas case. The receptionist, a plump gray-haired lady, checked though a large computer printout and then dialed a number. “There's a lawyer here, a Mr. Ryan Butler with the firm of Duke and Associates who would like to see Dr. Marks.” After a long pause, she hung up and gave Ryan directions to room 502 in the East wing. Arriving in room 502, a nurse instructed him to have a seat and told him the doctor would be by shortly as soon as he finished his afternoon rounds. Ryan waited for close to an hour and began to worry about making his plane. It was approaching 4 PM and he decided he couldn’t wait
any longer. He was just beginning to write a message on the back of his business card when the doctor appeared, a tall slender man with white hair and an impatient sour demeanor. “Are you Mr. Butler?” the doctor said, not offering his hand. “We have a hospital policy here not to talk to lawyers about our cases. I suggest you contact our legal department on the second floor. They handle all the malpractice litigation.” “You don't understand,” Ryan said, “this has nothing to do with any legal matters. I was hoping to get some information concerning Mr. Costas.” The doctor's face turned even sourer. “Don't tell me you're a reporter—I wouldn't put it past you guys.” “I’m not a reporter, I'm a lawyer, but I'm here on strictly personal business. I was hoping you could tell me something about Mr. Costas' condition.” “Are you a member of the family? “No.” “Are you a friend of the family?” “No.” The doctor shrugged his shoulders, “We have a thing called confidentiality here. As a lawyer, you should know something about that. We don't release information about patients’ conditions to anyone but family and close friends. Now please excuse me, I have a lot of people waiting for me.” He turned to walk out the door. “Wait a minute,” Ryan snapped. “I think I might know something that could help Mr. Costas. I think you owe it your patient to listen to me for a second.” “Really, so you practice medicine too?”
“Wait,” said Ryan, following the doctor out of the room and into the hall. “Please take this card—I’ve written the name of a doctor in Maryland whom you might want to talk to.” The doctor just kept walking at a fast pace, as if Ryan wasn’t there. Ryan kept up, “I have a friend in a coma back in Maryland. Except it isn’t really a coma at all. There are no signs of physical damage. All his EEG’s and brain waves are normal. The medical people believe that he is actually conscious but in some unknown state of paralysis. If any of this seems familiar, then please take the card and call Dr. Steinberg.” The doctor stopped walking and reached for the card, “Maybe we should talk,” he said.
Before catching his flight, Ryan called his office and told Ned Heaton that he wouldn’t be in tomorrow and probably not on Friday. He told Ned that he had pressing personal business in Wisconsin, emphasizing the word personal. He hoped that Ned would leave it at that, but not Ned. He wanted to know all about it, what the problem was, whether he could help. Ryan felt terrible, lying to him, and finally cut the conversation short saying he had to run and catch his plane. One week from tomorrow was the partnership meeting, and here he was lying to his boss, taking time off to play detective.
Ryan checked into the Milwaukee Airport Hotel close to 10 PM. He was tired, and most of the earlier excitement had faded. Now, in the quiet of a strange motel room, he wondered what he was doing and why. Outside it was raining; a heavy steady rain that matched his mood perfectly. Why was he really here? Was this all for Rick? Was he somehow trying to make amends for that terrible night in 1966? Or was it because of Alana? Had she so captivated him that he had lost all sense of reason? Or was it something else? A sense that something was missing in his life. God knows, he didn’t fit in at Duke and Associates. He just wasn’t cut out to be a high-powered
corporate lawyer. Despite Elaineâ€™s best efforts, he had never fit into her world of privilege and society. Maybe her father had been right all along; he just wasnâ€™t in her class; the debutante and the steelworkerâ€™s son.
CHAPTER EIGHT Thursday, July 17, 1986 Ryan was on the road just after dawn. The rain had stopped and the early morning clouds were bathed red and orange with the new sun. It looked like it would be a nice day after all. The melancholy of the night before had lifted and he was anxious to get going. He rented a car at the airport and drove the eighty-mile stretch to Madison. It was still very early and he circled around the massive Capitol Building just as the town was beginning to stir. He found a pancake house downtown and ate a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and coffee. To hell with the cholesterol, he thought to himself, feeling reckless. He arrived on campus at the Office of Academic Records shortly before 9 AM and requested to see the university transcripts for Daniel Costas and Richard Shannon. It wasn't as easy as he thought it would be when the clerk said she couldnâ€™t release the transcripts without the approval of the parties involved. Ryan tried to explain that the parties involved were in no condition to give their consent. The clerk, in turn, got the Assistant Director for Academic Records into the negotiation and, although she appeared sympathetic, she insisted she could not break the rules. Finally, a call from Officer DeNardo to the Campus Police Department gained access. Ryan was handed the transcripts on the condition that he could review them in the Records Office but couldnâ€™t make copies. Ryan sat down at a table and placed the transcripts side by side, cross checking the dates, and courses. After about twenty minutes, he gave up. Both Costas and Rick had been at the university during the spring semester of 1967 and all of 1968, but their course schedules were completely different, business courses for Rick and biology and chemistry courses for Costas. Disappointed,
Ryan returned the transcripts, thanked the workers for their help and asked them how to find the university library. At the library, he reviewed the university yearbooks for 1967 and 1968. The yearbook contained both Costas and Rick’s pictures and a short profile of their campus activities. The picture of Rick was just as Ryan had remembered him, except his brown hair was much longer, hippie style. The profile for Costas listed a number of activities; graduate assistant in the Department of Microbiology, vice president of the Graduate Students Association, a member of the students’ auxiliary of the American Chemical Society. Under Rick’s profile, no activities were listed. Another dead-end. He made copies of the yearbook pictures and left. Ryan was disappointed. He really had expected to find something. It had been a gut feeling rather than logic, but he had learned during his years as an assistant attorney general to trust his intuition, it had led him in the right direction on many a difficult case. But now, he felt foolish. What had he really expected to find? And even if he had found a connection between the two men what would it have meant? Nevertheless, he still had a strong feeling, a hunch, that there was some nexus. There were thousands of ways the two men could have interacted during their time at the University. Perhaps, they struck up a friendship somehow, met at a bar, joined a political cause, or had a mutual friend. He was sure that the two cases had to be related; it was too much of a coincidence otherwise. The key was somewhere in Madison; he just didn't know how to find it. He decided to call Alana. After retrieving Alana’s number from directory assistance, he started to call several times but hung up before the phone started ringing. He wasn’t sure exactly what he should say to her. How would she react? Would she be pleased or think it strange that he was getting so involved? Finally, he dialed nervously; half-hoping she wouldn’t be home. His pulse raced.
She answered the phone with a cheery hello. Her voice was as melodic as Ryan had remembered. Much to his surprise, she didn't seem at all shocked to hear from him. She told him that Office DeNardo had called and updated on her on what Ryan had found. “I can’t believe you are doing this—all the way to Wisconsin! I really do appreciate your help, Ryan. I know this has taken you way out of your way. You and Rick must have been very close.” Ryan protested saying it wasn’t really all that much, he had just seen a possible connection and felt he had an obligation to follow up. “I owe it to Rick,” he added guiltily, moving quickly to the main purpose of the call. “Did Rick ever tell you anything about his days in Wisconsin? Did he ever mention anybody he knew there? Any stories or experiences? Anything that might connect him and this Costas fellow?” She hesitated for a while, trying to remember, and then finally said, “I really can't remember Rick ever talking much about college. I guess I just haven't known Rick that long. Maybe you should talk to his ex-wife. She lives out there you know. She moved back to Wisconsin after the divorce.” “I didn’t know that—where?” “I think she’s moved in with her mother in Sheboygan. That’s where Rick’s daughter is now. I have the number here somewhere.” He really wanted to talk to Alana, not Rick’s ex-wife Nancy. However, as he waited for Alana to find the number, he realized that Nancy would be his best bet. She and Rick were married back then and she should be able to tell him if there was any connection. “Let me know how it goes,” Alana said, after giving him Nancy’s number, “and Ryan, I really do appreciate what you are doing. You are my champion, a true friend. Good Luck.”
He did have good luck. Nancy Shannon answered the phone when he called and said she would be delighted to see him.
It took three hours to drive from Madison to Nancy’s parents' house in Sheboygan, on Lake Michigan, north of Milwaukee. On the way, he thought about Nancy. He remembered meeting her once or twice when she came down to Evansville on weekends to watch Rick play ball. Rick had met her a few years earlier when he was playing Class A ball at Eau Claire and they had been going steady ever since. She was still finishing school back in Wisconsin. Ryan remembered that she was a pretty young girl with dark hair and dark brown eyes. Ryan hadn’t liked her much at first, finding her somewhat loud and bossy, but Rick was smitten. Ryan wondered what he would say if she brought up the accident. Sheboygan was a factory and harbor town, but their house was in one of the older sections of the city on a street lined with old elm and maple trees. Most of the houses looked much the same, two story cape cods each about thirty feet apart. He parked in front of her house and approached the front door. The bushes and plants in the front were overgrown and the house looked like it could use some paint. A gray haired woman in a bathrobe answered the door and identified herself as Nancy’s mother. She led Ryan through the house, from the living room through the dining room, through the kitchen and out the back steps into a small fenced yard. On the way, he passed a thin blonde teenage girl watching television. She looked up and said hello, smiling shyly through a mouth full of braces. In the backyard, Nancy Shannon was hanging up wash on the clothesline, wearing a white tee shirt, blue shorts and sandals, with her hair tied up in a kerchief behind her head. She looked up, startled to see Ryan. “I wasn’t expecting you for at least another hour—I look a mess.” Ryan assured her that she looked just fine.
“You’re a very accomplished liar,” she said, smiling. She was still attractive, thought Ryan. Older with a little more weight she still had a nice figure and those same dark brown eyes. They sat down at an aluminum table in the yard and Nancy's mother brought out two glasses of lemonade. It had turned into a hot muggy day with the sun appearing and disappearing into heavy clouds. Nancy wiped the sweat from her forehead and sipped her drink, “I remember you—do you remember me?” “Sure I do,” said Ryan, “I remember all of us going out to some bar in Evansville after a game, eating pizza and drinking pitchers of lousy beer. We all got pretty drunk.” “That place was a dive,” she said. “Well Evansville didn’t have very many five star restaurants back then, but I’m sure they’re full of them now.” “You know, Rick used to talk about you all the time back then. He said you were the best pitcher he had ever seen—said you would make it big in the majors.” Ryan fidgeted in his chair, knowing where this was heading. “It’s really a shame what happened that night. Such a stupid tragedy. It sure changed a lot of lives. It took me a long time to forgive Rick. I’m not sure I should have. Look at me, forty-three, no job, no skills, no husband, and now no child support with Rick in the hospital. At least he gave Meagan to me, even if she is a teenager.” She rolled her eyes at the word, ‘teenager’. “Seriously, it’s been really hard on her. This is a very difficult time in her life and she needs a father.” Ryan didn’t know what to say but Nancy abruptly changed the topic. “So you met Alana. Is she as beautiful as everybody says?” Ryan tried to dodge the question, “I hadn’t really noticed.”
“Liar,” she said smiling again. “Did she tell you how they met?” “At an insurance convention in the Bahamas.” “Did she tell you what she was doing there?” Her smile faded. “She told me she was working the exhibition booth for some underwriting company out of Atlanta.” “More like a call girl service out of Atlanta,” her voice turning bitter. “What?” said Ryan. “Don’t look so shocked. She was a hooker. A high priced call girl. I heard from reliable sources that she worked all the big conventions—big dollar whore.” “I think you’re mistaken. I’ve met her and she certainly couldn’t be a hooker.” “So she’s got you under her spell too. Why is it that men are always so blind? A pretty smile and a nice body and your brains all turn to mush. Doesn’t it seem strange that a woman like her would be attracted to Rick? Not that Rick’s that bad looking, but he’s no prize and he’s got to be at least fifteen years older than her—a balding man with a limp. Doesn’t it seem fishy to you?” “Who know what attracts people; it’s a mystery to me,” He was trying to be diplomatic, but all the time wondering if what she was saying could be true, it seemed impossible. “All I know is that she shows up and a year later, I’m back living with my mother, she’s in my house, Rick’s in a coma, and all the money’s gone. Talk about a home wrecker.” Her voice cracked and she turned away from Ryan, shaking her head and staring out at the yard and beyond. Ryan waited for her to turn around again. The heat of the afternoon sun was scorching the back of his neck and sweat was dripping down his back. “I’m sorry,” she said finally, “It’s my problem not yours—maybe I’m just imagining things. I don’t know what to think anymore.” “You’ve been through an awful lot,” Ryan said. He could see moisture in her eyes.
She stared down at her empty glass. “Would you like a beer?” “If you would.” She went into the house and returned with two bottles of imported Mexican beer. “At least I’m drinking better these days.” She had regained her smile. “Now, why don’t you tell me some more about why you’re here?” Ryan told her about the case in California and the reason he had gone to Madison. He showed her the copy of the photograph of Daniel Costas from the school yearbook and the sketch of the California suspect. Nancy examined both for a longtime but then just shook her head, “I don't recall ever seeing either of them.” Ryan asked her about her friends when they had lived there, any special activities or anything that would possibly link Rick and Costas, but she couldn’t remember anything. “Rick played some intramural softball, but he wasn’t very good after the accident. He really embarrassed himself trying to play with the limp—he had always been such a good athlete in the past. Maybe Costas was on the same team—probably no way of checking that now.” “Not much to go on. Did Rick ever go out to California?” “A couple of times on conventions in the last five years, but never before that.” The conversation went around and around but ended up nowhere. Ryan finished his beer and checked his watch. It was close to six and he thought he might still have time to grab the late flight from Milwaukee to Philadelphia. Nancy invited him to stay for dinner but he said he had to go. She looked disappointed. He could tell she was lonely and wanted some company. “I hope you figure it all out,” she said. “I'd sure like to start getting child support again. I’m a little too old to be living off my parents and Meagan needs her dad back, even if he is an asshole!” She followed him out to the rental car and stood talking as Ryan got into the driver’s seat. “Sure you won't stay for dinner. Or maybe you would like to go out somewhere?”
“No I need to catch a plane to Philadelphia. Maybe some other time, if I'm ever in the area again,” Ryan started the engine. She leaned her weight against the car door as if trying to keep him from leaving. “You know, I do remember one thing. It happened shortly after Rick and I got back together again. Times were tight for us—not much money coming in. I was working in the supermarket while Rick went to class during the day. One night, Rick surprised me, tells me to get dressed up, he’s taking me out to dinner. We go to this expensive French restaurant in downtown Madison. I still remember the name, Bon Appetit—first time I ever had fancy French food. So I asked him where he got the money and he tells me he’s taken a temporary job, a few hours a week, getting paid to take part in some kind of experiment with the biochemistry department.” Ryan turned the car engine off. “Do you remember when this happened?” “Let’s see—there was snow on the ground—we were living in an old basement apartment on Coolidge Street, so it must have been during the winter of 1968, maybe January or February. It turns out the job only lasted a few weeks. It was supposed to last longer but they stopped it for some reason. I remember they still paid him the full amount.” “Did Rick tell you what he was doing, what the experiment was all about?” She thought for a while, “I recall it had something to do with sleeping habits. I’d ask Rick about it, sometimes, but he didn’t seem to want to talk about it. I remember pressing him once but he just told me he couldn’t remember. It was kind of strange though, because I think he was telling the truth, I don’t think he really could remember.” Ryan was excited, finally something, no smoking gun, but at least some smoke. Now, if he could only find out whether Costas also took part in the same experiment. He checked his watch and decided, no flight tonight. He turned to Nancy, “O.K., why don't you and I go out to dinner.”
While Nancy was getting ready, Ryan used her phone to call Ned Heaton, to tell him he definitely wouldn't be in tomorrow. This time Ned was very annoyed. “What in the world are you up to Ryan? We've got a big case going here. I’ve got a conference call with the Ornone people tomorrow and I still don’t have those depositions. What am I supposed to tell them? You won't even tell me what you're doing out there.” “Ned, one more day isn't going to make that much difference. I faxed the depositions to my secretary late yesterday—Betty has them. I just need a little more time, one more day, that’s all. You know I’ll make up the work—I won’t let you down. It’s just something I have to do.” “All right then, do what you must, but what am I supposed to tell the other partners if they ask? Give me something!” “Just trust me, Ned, this is important.” “This isn't going to help your partnership chances any—not without some kind of explanation. I hope you know what you're doing, Ryan.” Me too, Ryan thought as he hung up the phone.
CHAPTER NINE Friday, July 18, 1986 Early the next morning, Ryan was back in Madison in the microfilm room at the University of Wisconsin Library. He was using the microfilm projector to scan through old copies of the university newspaper, The Badger Herald. During their dinner conversation the night before, Nancy had mentioned that Rick had first learned about the experiment through an ad in the University Newspaper. It only took about forty-five minutes before he found what he was looking for. It first appeared at the bottom of page 5, in the January 8, 1968 edition. It ran for the next two days and then disappeared. It was only a small item:
PAID VOLUNTEERS WANTED: The Department of Biochemistry is seeking volunteers to participate in a research study on sleep and the brain. Volunteers must be available six hours each week and will be paid $4 per hour. The project will last eight weeks. A $50 bonus will be paid for completing the study. All participants must be drug free and sign release forms. For more information contact Professor Alan Waits, 504 Biochemistry Building
Ryan printed a copy of the page and headed out to find the biochemistry department.
â€œDr. Waits has been dead for over ten years,â€? said the astonished secretary who sat guard at the entrance to the departmental faculty offices. She was a stern-faced woman who looked well past retirement age.
“Did you know Dr. Waits?” “Of course!” she answered as if that was the most stupid questions she had ever heard, “Everybody knew Dr. Waits. He was a genius. You won't see his kind again.” “The reason I ask is I'm trying to track down some information about this experiment.” He handed the secretary a copy of the newspaper announcement and she read it carefully. “Well, I certainly don't remember anything about that and I was here back then,” she snapped as if that totally answered the question. “Is there anyone here who might know something about the study?” She thought for a moment, “Most of the faculty who were around back then are long gone. We’ve got a bunch of kids running the place now. The only person I can think of who might remember something about it would be Dr. Tyback. I think he was a student of Dr. Waits around that time. You might want to talk with him.” She wrote down his telephone number and his office number on a slip of paper and handed it to Ryan. “It's in this building,” she said pointing her finger to the ceiling, “up on the fourth floor, room 423. Good luck.” The door to room 423 was partially open and Ryan peered in cautiously. He had expected to see an office but instead was looking into a large chemistry lab with rows of sinks, Bunsen burners and flasks. Several students in white coats were huddled around a tall bespectacled man. The man had thinning brown hair and a full reddish beard. He was holding a flask containing a greenish liquid and appeared to be explaining something to the students. One of the students, a young oriental girl, noticed Ryan at the door and came over. “May I help you?” she said, pausing between each word as if translating her thoughts from another language. “Yes. I'm looking for Dr. Tyback.”
“Oh yes, Dr. Tyback is over there,” she said pointing to the tall man. “I shall tell him that you wish to speak to him.” Ryan watched as she walked back to the group. Professor Tyback was pouring the green liquid into a series of test tubes. When he stopped pouring, the oriental girl said something to him and he looked around until he made eye contact with Ryan. He held up his hand signifying he would be right there and handed the flask to one of the students. He came bounding over to Ryan with an inquisitive expression. “You wanted to see me?” he said. “Yes, my name’s Ryan Butler. They told me at the front office that you might be able to tell me about a project that Dr. Waits was involved with back in the sixties.” “There were a lot of projects—do you know what it was about?” Ryan handed him the copy of the volunteer announcement from the paper. Dr. Tyback quickly read the paper and instructed Ryan to follow him. Ryan could hardly keep pace with him as he strode across the lab leading Ryan to a small corner office. “Have a seat—I'll be back in a second. First I have to make sure my brilliant students don't blow the place up.” He laughed and went back to the lab. From the office, Ryan could see him in the Lab, talking to the students. He couldn’t hear what they were saying but the students were listening with rapt attention. Occasionally they all laughed. The professor's office had one small window that looked out over a courtyard. Outside a handful of students were sitting on the grass, talking and reading. The entire room overflowed with paper. Piles of articles lined the floor and stacks of books and journals covered his desk. Black and white abstract paintings hung from the office walls. Ryan picked up a copy of Scientific American and started to skim it just as the professor returned.
Dr. Tyback sat down, leaned back in his chair and put his feet up on the desk. He was wearing tennis shoes and black socks. “Now, tell me why you are interested in this experiment?” Ryan outlined the story for him, leaving out many of the details and the part about Lieutenant Rojas and the California suspect. The professor shook his head, “That's one really bizarre story—and you think this experiment might somehow be connected?” “That's what I'd like to try and find out.” Professor Tyback folded his hand in a tent in front of his beard, leaned his head back and began talking as if he were addressing an imaginary person in the ceiling. “Dr. Waits was a brilliant man—one of the greatest men ever to work at this University—and there have been many great ones here. He really should have won the Nobel Prize for his work on the genetic code, but you know how political those awards can be.” Ryan didn't know at all but still nodded in agreement. Dr. Tyback continued, still talking to the ceiling, “I had the great fortune to be a student of Dr. Waits and later—after I received my Doctorate—to work with him as a colleague. I did some of my finest work during that time. Dr. Waits had a way of bringing out the best in everybody. Not only was he brilliant but he was also a kind and generous man. Even today, I think of him often. I ask myself what Dr. Waits would have done in this or that situation. How would he have approached this problem? He was more than a mentor; he was like a father. I cried like a baby at his funeral.” The professor looked down from the ceiling and turned his eyes to Ryan. “There's a reason why I tell you this,” he said. He was looking right at Ryan now and his thick glasses seemed to magnify his brown eyes. His lips curled with the faint trace of a smile.
“I'm telling you all this because I want you to understand that I idolized the professor. But like all human beings, he was not without his faults. He had a dazzling intellect but his mind was somewhat undisciplined and he would often leap from one idea to another. Sometimes it was very difficult to keep up with him. Most of his insights were brilliant, but a few were, to say the least, very strange. The experiment you bring to my attention was one of his more wild ideas. I worked with him as a graduate student on that project.” Ryan moved closer so he could hear the professor better. “Dr. Waits' main area of interest was brain neurology. How the mind worked. He was trained as a chemist and a neurologist and he felt the key to understanding the mind was to understand the chemistry of the brain. He had studied the work of the nineteenth century French biologist, Henri Pieron, who theorized that consciousness was controlled by an unknown brain substance called, the ‘hypnotoxin’. Pieron conducted studies with dogs. He allowed some to sleep while others were kept awake for extended periods of time. When he fed the brains of the sleep deprived dogs to the others they immediately fell into a deep sleep. I know it sounds gruesome but that's how science was done back then. Over the years, these experiments were replicated on other animals with the same results. The experiments are well documented in the scientific literature. The problem was that nobody could isolate the exact chemical that caused the sleep, the mysterious hypnotoxin.” Dr. Tyback stood up, and began pacing, as if he was lecturing a class. “I don't want to confuse you with a lot of medical terms but scientists now understand that sleep is controlled by the reticular formation, an area in the brain stem near the hypothalamus.” He pointed to the back of his neck. “The brain synapses in this area are particularly susceptible to a family of chemicals known as neurotransmitters. The brain uses these neurotransmitters to regulate consciousness and other
bodily functions. These neurotransmitters facilitate or retard the flow of electrochemical energy through the nerve synapses. Different neurotransmitters act on different nerve receptors.” Ryan wondered where all this was leading. “Like Pieron before him, Dr. Waits hoped to isolate the particular neurotransmitter which regulated consciousness. He analyzed the brains of rats that had been killed while sleeping and rats that had been killed awake. In so doing, he discovered an excess amount of a particular chemical in the brains of sleeping rats. He analyzed the chemical composition of the substance and was able to produce a synthetic version in the lab. He called it Rn2. I can't recall anymore what that stood for. Anyway, he injected this Rn2 into the brains of various mammals, rats, monkeys, even sheep. He found that, depending on the amount of substance he injected he could induce either sleep in the animal or place the animal in a trance like state. He thought he had discovered the elusive hypnotoxin first postulated by Pieron.” Ryan shifted in his chair. He wasn't sure of the relevancy of all this. Dr. Tyback seemed to sense Ryan’s impatience. “Anyway, let me jump ahead. In those days, there was also a lot of interest in the effects of hypnosis. Like most other scientists, Dr. Waits believed that hypnosis was really just a specialized state of consciousness, akin to sleep, but not sleep. He theorized that hypnosis was related to the production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, similar to Rn2. Dr. Waits wanted to test whether injecting very small amounts of Rn2 into the blood stream could enhance hypnosis. He saw great potential in this area. You must remember that at the time, there was great interest in hypnosis. Doctors and dentists were trying it with their patients in lieu of painkillers and many medical experts speculated that hypnosis might eventually be able to replace all anesthetics. I know it sounds ridiculous today, but in the sixties it didn't seem all that far fetched. Are you still with me?”
Ryan nodded. “But then, I think, Dr. Waits went too far. He wanted to experiment on humans. He was able to get some funding to carry out some experiments, and he advertised for volunteers in the university paper. The experiment involved injecting tiny amounts of the Rn2 drug into the volunteers and then hypnotizing them. He randomly split the two groups of volunteers into a control group and an experimental group. The experimental group received the drug and the other group was given a placebo. Then he measured the ease at which the subjects could be hypnotized and the depth of their hypnosis using the Stanford Hypnotic Scale that had been developed in the late nineteen-fifties. Dr. Waits modified the scale to calibrate the degree to which subjects were susceptible to different types of hypnotic suggestion.” The professor took his glasses off and put them in his coat pocket. “Dr. Waits was convinced that the small amounts of drugs involved posed no risk whatsoever—they merely mimicked substances that occurred naturally in the brains of all mammals and the amounts were exceedingly small. In retrospect, I concur. I doubt that the drugs could have had any adverse effect on the health of the volunteers. Nevertheless, a couple of the volunteers who had been given the drug complained of headaches or nervousness. You certainly couldn't run an experiment like that nowadays. There are all kinds of restrictions on experimentation with human subjects.” “So what were the results of the experiment?” asked Ryan. “Nothing, nothing at all. The drug didn't do a damn thing. The reactions of the control group were no different than the experimental group even at a statistical probability of ninety-nine percent.” “I'm afraid I don't really understand statistics.”
“It really doesn't matter. The bottom line is that the experiment didn't work. The Rn2 drug had no effect on the brain. Dr. Waits was, of course, disappointed, but soon his mind focused on something else and he forgot all about it.” “That's it?” “That's all there is. A failed experiment. Where you expecting more?” “I don't know what I expected.” “If you think that hypnosis was somehow involved in placing those two fellows in comas, then I'm afraid you're greatly mistaken. The literature is clear on one thing, hypnosis cannot be used to force someone to harm themselves or violate their own ethical or moral code. You can place a person in a coma by drugging them or traumatizing their brain, but I can assure you, not through hypnosis.” Ryan thought a moment. He wasn't sure what he had expected or really what he was searching for. “You said you worked as a graduate student during the experiments?” “Yes.” “Do you think you might remember some of the volunteers if I show you their pictures?” Tyback thought for a second. “I doubt it, it's been twenty years but I'll give it a shot.” Ryan handed him the pictures of Costas and Rick copied from the university yearbook. Dr. Tyback studied them for a long time and finally looked up. “I don't recall either of them. That doesn’t mean they weren’t involved with the experiment, I just can’t remember. I’ve worked with so many students on so many projects over the years—it’s only the special ones that stand out.” Ryan was disappointed. He had hoped that Tyback would at least remember Rick Shannon as one of the volunteers. “Do you know where I might get a list of names of the volunteers who were involved in the experiment?”
“I doubt if one exists anymore. If there was one it would have been with Dr. Wait's files and who knows where they are?” “Wouldn't the University have kept records?” “I don't think so. Not for that long of a time and especially for privately funded research.” Ryan decided to take another approach, “You said that the study was privately funded. Do you remember the funding agency?” “Not really, but I think it might have been a group that funded a lot of weird experiments during that time. They were into a lot of parapsychology research and other fringe science. The Institute for the Study of Human Intelligence or something like that. I really can't remember the name for sure.” “The University should have some records on the funding shouldn't they?” “They might still have some. You'd have to check with the financial offices.” Ryan asked for directions over to the financial office and thanked Tyback for his time and information. “If I think of anything else I'll give you a call,” Dr. Tyback said. “Why don't you leave your business card?” Ryan handed him his card. “So you're a lawyer?” “Yes. But I'm here strictly on personal business. Nobody's going to be sued.” Tyback laughed and then turned serious. “I hope they’re able to do something for those two men in comas. I know it has nothing to do with the experiment, but still it's an awful tragedy. I can imagine how their families must feel. I know from personal experience with my daughter what it’s like to have a loved one seriously ill and not be able to do anything to help. Keep in touch and let me know what you find.”
Ryan shook hands with Dr. Tyback and started to leave but then remembered the sketch in his jacket pocket, “Oh I almost forgot. This is a long shot but have you ever seen this man?” He handed Dr. Tyback the sketch of the suspect from California and the professor examined it for a long time. “Nope. Sorry, I've never seen this man before.” “Thanks, anyway,” said Ryan.
CHAPTER TEN Same Day After Ryan left Dr. Tyback's lab, he stopped by the University’s financial offices. He explained what he was trying to find and, to his surprise, they seemed willing to help him without further questioning. He followed a long corridor into a side room that contained a row of computer monitors and introduced himself to a young black woman. "Hello,” she said with a friendly smile, “My name's Lois Beck—I'm director of grant records. What can I do for you?” Ryan explained what he was looking for and Lois said that would be a breeze. “We keep excellent records of all grants given to the University, she said. We can identify grant sources by a number of different criteria; grant amounts, names of agencies, grant subjects areas, etc. Our database goes all the way back to around 1960. Whenever a professor wants to find a potential source of funding they come to us—you said the grant was to Dr. Waits? “That's correct, its spelled, W A I…” “You don't have to spell it for me. Everyone around here has heard of Professor Waits, he’s famous.” She typed the word, ‘Waits’ on the keyboard, green letters appeared on a black screen, and she hit the return key. Instantly, the computer screen filled up with a list of agency names and dates. “What did you say you thought the name of the granting agency was?” “Something about the institute to study human intelligence.” She typed in the words ‘human intelligence’ and only one entry appeared. It read, ‘The American Institute for the Advancement of Human Intelligence’. She hit some more keys and another screen came up. The screen indicated that the institute had awarded Dr. Waits a grant for $62,000 on November 23 of 1967, to study sleep and chemically induced hypnosis.
“That’s it!” Ryan said, “Do you have any information about the institute? She typed some more keys on the computer and a screen appeared with an address for the institute and a telephone number. Ryan wrote it down on a piece of paper. She then pulled up another screen that listed all grants from the institute to the University. There were about twenty, the first in 1965 and the last in 1970. Most of the grants were to the psychology and biochemistry departments. Ryan asked if there would be any records kept anywhere about the grant details. “We would only keep financial records here. You'd have to go to the professor involved or the granting agency to get any more information.” “This grant involved payment of student volunteers, would you have any way of finding who was paid from the grant money. Perhaps, a list of those paid?” She hesitated, “I'm sure I could find it but I'm not sure I'm at liberty to release the information. I certainly couldn't give you a list of names.” “What if the request was part of a police investigation?” She looked skeptical, “Then we could probably provide it, but I'd have to check with our legal department first—you didn't say you were with law enforcement.” “I'm not, but this list may be the key to two crimes—let me explain.” Again, he told the story. When he was finished, she looked at him with her eyebrows furrowed, “That's really unbelievable!” Ryan wasn't sure whether she meant what had happened was unbelievable or his story was unbelievable. “I'll tell you what, if you get a formal police request—on police letterhead and everything— I'll do my best to get you the list of volunteers. I can't promise anything though.” “I understand.”
“There is something I can do now. I can't give you a list of names but I may be able to verify whether the two persons you mentioned got paid from the grant. It would just be a matter of confirming or denying it. Nothing else.” “That would be great!” “It will take a little time. I'll have to check with some other departments. Can you write down the names?” Ryan wrote Daniel Costas and Richard Shannon on a sheet of paper and handed it to Lois. “Why don't you come back in about an hour,” she said. To kill time, Ryan walked over to the student Union and found a phone booth. He updated Officer DeNardo about what he had found and asked if DeNardo would send a letter requesting the list of volunteers. DeNardo told him he would do it right away. DeNardo also told him that he had received some disappointing news from Lieutenant Rojas. The fingerprint search had come up empty. Whoever the suspect was, he didn't have a criminal record in California. However, Rojas said he was going to process the prints with the FBI. That would only indicate if he had ever been arrested for a federal crime, or in one of the few states that had linked their databases with the Feds. Lieutenant Rojas didn't think there was much chance of that but he thought it was worth a try. He said he should get the results in a day or two. “Some day all the arrest records across the county will be centralized with the Feds,” DeNardo added, “but we’re a long way from that now.” Ryan wanted to ask DeNardo about what Nancy Shannon had said about Alana. Did he know anything about rumors of her being a call girl? He decided, however, to hold off on that. He grabbed a hamburger at the Student Union and walked outside to find a comfortable place to sit down and eat. It was just past noon. The student union faced the lake and Ryan found a bench close to the water’s edge. It was a beautiful sunny day, popcorn clouds and low humidity.
In front of the Student Union sat a boat dock and a sailboat launch. Ryan looked out over the lake. It was a beautiful deep blue dotted with multicolor sails skimming across the water. He stretched his legs and leaned his head back on one of the outside picnic tables. The warmth of the sun felt good on his face. He thought of what he would be doing right now if he were back in Philadelphia. Most likely, sitting in his office, gulping down a fast lunch at his desk, hurrying to get something finished or rushing to a meeting. He watched the students, sitting on the shore or lying on the grass. Some of them were studying and others were just lying back in the sun. On the lawn, a couple of guys were throwing a frisbee. They seemed to have all the time in the world. After a half hour, Ryan forced himself up from the picnic table and headed back to the financial office. He took his time walking over but as he neared the office he felt butterflies in his stomach wondering what Lois had found. When he entered the computer room Lois was exactly were she had been when he first saw her; sitting in deep concentration in front of a computer screen, oblivious to all around her. He waited a while and finally, quietly, spoke her name. She jumped and looked up at him with surprise. “Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't see you there. When I get working I tend to block out the world.” “Where you able to find anything?” Ryan asked. She grinned, “You were right. Both Daniel Costas and Richard Shannon were issued checks during the winter of 1968, paid out from a fund under the name of the American Institute for the Advancement of Human Intelligence.”
CHAPTER ELEVEN Same Day York picked up the bleach-blond at the Golden Parrot, one of several discos that lined the beach along St Jean's bay. He noticed her as soon as he entered the disco, tan legs dangling out of a tooshort skirt over the barstool. She had given him a come-on stare and a boozy smile. He sat down next to her, asked her name, and offered to buy her another drink. She slurred her words as she told him how she and a girlfriend had flown down to St. Barts from Miami for a short vacation. They had come to the disco together but the girlfriend left with some guy she met from New York. “A real loser,” she added. “You know, most of the men I've met here are losers—except you.” She gave him a sly smile and placed her hand on his thigh. She was wearing too much makeup, bright red lipstick and green eye shadow. York guessed she was young, maybe just over twenty. She was wrapped in a tight blue skirt and a white halter-top showing a lot of cleavage, her long blond hair hanging loose across her bare shoulders. She somehow managed to brush her breasts against his arm a couple of times as they sat and talked at the bar. “So where ya from?” she asked, reaching for a cigarette. “I live here on the island. I'm sort of in semi-retirement—just taking it easy for awhile.” She made a point of looking him over closely, up and down. He was wearing a one-button silk sports jacket, matching white slacks and a sheer linen shirt. She grabbed his hand in hers and examined his watch. “Rolex, you must be rich then?” He laughed. “I'm doing pretty good. I have a three-bedroom villa up on the top of the hill with a huge open veranda that looks out over the ocean and my private pool. Maybe you'd like to see it? I can drive you up there in my Porsche.”
“You're bullshitting me aren't you?” York saw that she was skeptical but wanted to believe him. He showed her the keys to the Porsche. “That doesn’t prove anything,” she said, wobbling in her chair. “Why don't we get out of here and I'll show it to you.” He helped her off the barstool and steadied her as they went out to the parking lot. She examined the car for a while and then agreed to go with him. York drove her up to his villa, fast over the twists and curves of the road, her hair blowing in the wind.
She gasped as he opened the door to the villa. “God,” she said, “I've never seen anything so beautiful!” York fixed her another drink, throwing fruit juice, ice and a lot of rum into the blender, while she explored the Villa. He caught up with her outside on the balcony, with the ocean below in the distance. York came over carrying the drink. He moved behind her, pressing his body against her back, wrapping his arms around her waist. The full moon was climbing casting a path of shimmering silver on the water. York pulled her hair away and kissed her gently on the back of her neck. She turned her head around until their lips met. As he kissed her, he moved his hands upwards to cup her breasts. He led her back into the bedroom and he helped her take her clothes off, slowly. He lay down beside her, naked on the bed and began kissing her, working his way down from her neck to her breasts to her stomach. He moved his hand down across her belly and then between her thighs until she began to breathe heavier. It was then when he decided to make his move. Better not ask with this one, he thought, just act. With one hand, he reached under the bed and groped for the handcuffs. Before she knew what was happening, he clasped one end around her right wrist. “What are you doing!” she shouted jerking up.
“Just relax—I promise, you're going to like this.” He attached the other end of the handcuffs to the bedpost. She started to squirm, trying to get her arm free. “Hey wait a minute. I'm not into this sort of thing—let me go!” York sensed fear in her voice and that got him even more excited. He grabbed her other arm, holding it firmly while he reached back down under the bed for the other set of handcuffs. “Take it easy,” York said, “I'm not going to hurt you. We’re just going to have some fun.” But when she saw the other set of cuffs she became hysterical, yanking her arms and kicking her legs, yelling at him to stop. York maintained a tight grip on her arm as he positioned the cuffs around her left wrist. Just as he was about to snap them on she reached over and bit him on his arm, near the biceps, a hard bite that left blood on her mouth. York slapped her across her face. He immediately realized what he had done. “I’m sorry—you really hurt when you bit my arm. I didn’t mean to hit you. It was just a reflex.” Now she was screaming, crying and cursing. York moved over, trying to get a closer look at her face, but when he drew near she spat at him. York restrained himself from hitting her again. He could see where this was going. This was how he had gotten himself in all that trouble back in Washington. He didn't need that kind of trouble again, not now, with everything going so smoothly. He figured he'd better take the cuffs off and make sure she was all right. The evening wasn't turning out as he had planned. He should have known better, she was too young and inexperienced. The telephone rang. York couldn't believe it. It's was now nearly 2 AM. Who'd be calling at this hour? First, he thought he would just let it ring but then he decided he should answer it. “Hello.”
“We've got to talk,” said the voice on the other end, “I've been trying to get through to you all day. The phones on that damn island have been down.” The voice was agitated and out of breath. “Listen, this is a really bad time. I'll call you back.” The girl was sobbing now; writhing on the bed with one arm still attached to the bedpost. She was bleeding from her nose. “This can't wait! You've got to tell me what's going on!” said the telephone voice. “Calm down, professor. What are you talking about?” The girl was screaming again. York covered the telephone mouthpiece, and pointed to the dresser by the side of the bed. “The key is in there—you can unlock yourself.” “"Who’s there?” asked the voice on the phone. “None of your business. Now tell me what happened.” “Somebody's been snooping around. I think they’re going to find out about the formula.” “Who's been snooping around? Tell me what happened.” “A guy, some lawyer from Philadelphia visited me today. He asked a lot of questions about the hypnosis experiments in the sixties. He said something about a man in a coma in Maryland and another one California. He thought there was some kind of connection. What's that all about?” “Was he law enforcement? Was he from the government?” “No, he said he was looking into it for the wife of an old friend of his. The friend’s in a coma in Maryland. He showed me an old picture of him and then another guy—wanted to know if they had been involved in the experiments in the sixties.” “What did you tell him?” The girl had unlocked the cuffs and was hurriedly putting her clothes on. “I told him the truth, I didn’t recognize them. Then he showed me a sketch of you!”
“What! That’s impossible!” “Your hair was much longer and you had a mustache in the sketch, but I recognized you right away. He said the guy in the sketch was a suspect in California involving one of the guys in a coma—what's all this stuff about people in comas? What have you done?” The girl was dressed now and was storming out of the bedroom. York looked up at her and again covered the receiver, “Wait a minute—I'll give you a ride back to town, make sure you are O.K. We can talk this over. It’s all been a misunderstanding.” “Fuck you!” the girl shouted giving him the finger. She ran out of the room and York heard the front door open and slam shut. York let her go and returned to the telephone. “You didn't tell him anything about me did you?” “Of course not.” “Did he tell you where he got the sketch?” “Yes, from the police in California.” “Shit,” York muttered, trying to figure out what was happening. “Listen Doc, this is important. Let’s go over it from the beginning. Tell me everything that happened. Everything the lawyer told you and what you told him.” York sat down on the bed and listened while Dr. Tyback related the whole story. Finally York spoke again, “And you say he left his business card? Give me the address and telephone number.” “Why?” “I'm going to check him out, that's all.” “I don't want any rough stuff—nobody is supposed to get hurt.” “Just take care of your end of the deal and don’t worry. O.K.” York then changed the subject, “How's the formula coming along?”
“It should be ready by Wednesday, but I'm not sure I want to go through with this now. This is getting out of control. What about the people in the comas? What’s happening?” “Like I said professor, that's none of your goddam business. You'll get your money. You can't back out now; you’re in too deep—you know I can ruin you at anytime. And don't forget about your daughter, what's her name—Julie?” There was a long silence on the other end. York spoke again. “In light of this development I've decided to change the plan. I don't want you coming down here bringing the formula. I'm going to go up there and get it. Just stay calm. Everything's cool. This guy probably doesn't know enough to do any real harm. It's not as if he’s a cop or with the Feds—just some nobody meddling. We’re going to pull this off. Trust me, I know what I'm doing. I'm a professional and you're going to get your half million. But you have to do exactly as I say. Think of Julie.”
After the conversation ended, York walked out onto the veranda. Looking to the left, he could make out part of the road that snaked down the mountain back to St. Jean's Bay, barely visible in the chalk-white light of the moon. He strained to see if he could find any sign of the girl on the road but there was no movement, just the faint shadows of the palm trees swaying in the night air. He wondered if he should drive down and look for her, but decided it would be better to leave her alone. She would be all right, just bruised and shaken. She had told him that she was flying back to the States tomorrow so it was unlikely she would call the police. He hoped not. He didn't need to draw any attention to himself. Especially now. York went back into the bedroom. The time had come for action. From what he could glean from the professor's panicked conversation, the lawyer really didn’t know much, just some unconnected pieces and hunches. He had to move fast now and put an end to this trouble
before it ruined everything. It was a cardinal rule of combat, seize the opportunity and take your enemies out quickly, before they know whatâ€™s happening. He knew it would be a risk to go back to the States again, but it was a risk he had to take. Otherwise, it could be all over. He needed to stop the problem at its source before it spread. For over ten years, York had trained others in the art of killing. First with Army Special Forces and later for the Agency. Yet despite all his knowledge and expertise, he had never actually killed anyone. Now, the need had arisen. His blood stirred, â€œIt's time to do some killing!â€? he said aloud to himself.
CHAPTER TWELVE Same Day On the flight from Wisconsin to Philadelphia, Ryan wrote down what he knew so far; outlining the points on a yellow legal paper: 1) Both Rick Shannon and Daniel Costas had disappeared after receiving a phone call from an old friend; 2) Both men were found on park benches after withdrawing large amounts of cash; 3) Both men were in a semi-comatose state, paralyzed but apparently still conscious; and 4) Both men had participated in chemical-induced hypnosis experiments at the University of Wisconsin in 1968. That was about it. Could the Wisconsin connection just have been a coincidence? Ryan knew that it couldn't be. But what was the connection? Dr. Tyback had told him that the experiment was a failure. It all must have something to do with that suspect in California, he thought. But what? He decided that he had done all he possibly could or should do. It was now up to the law the enforcement authorities to untangle. He had called Officer DeNardo from the Milwaukee Airport and had left a message for him to call him at home. He would let him know all that he had learned, but it was up to him to take it from there. He also made some phone calls at the airport and was able to determine that the address and phone number for the American Institute for the Advancement of Human Intelligence no longer existed. He certainly didn't know where to go next. The only thing that worried him was whether the police would have any idea of what to do next either. Would the information he had found really be of any use? Was Lieutenant Rojas going to launch an investigation in Wisconsin? Not
likely. And the Middleton Police Department was certainly not going to send Officer DeNardo to Madison. So what had any of this accomplished? All he could really do is provide the information to DeNardo, and perhaps ask Dr. Steinberg about the neurotransmitters that Dr. Tyback had mentioned. Maybe Steinberg could check to see if there were similar chemicals in Rick’s bloodstream. Clearly a long shot. Then there was the question of what to think about Alana. He was still deeply troubled about what Rick's ex-wife had said. Could Alana have really been a call girl? It was hard for Ryan to believe that there was any truth in that. Yet he was old enough to have learned that human nature was full of surprises and things are often not what they seem. But he knew that he had to forget all about Rick, Costas and Alana for now and concentrate on the upcoming trial and the critical partnership vote next Thursday. Before boarding the plane, he called Ned Heaton from the airport to let him know that he was on his way home and would be in the office all weekend. Ryan was relieved when his secretary took the message saying that Ned was tied up in a meeting. The last person he wanted to talk to was Ned. He couldn’t forgive Ned and Elaine for what they had done. He remembered the first time he had heard Ned’s voice back in 1980. He was working for the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and was conferring with another assistant attorney general when the call came. Ned identified himself as a partner for Duke and Associates and said they were looking for new talent. He indicated that they had observed Ryan in action in several cases where their firm was on the other side and had been impressed. Ned said they were very interested in talking to him about joining their firm. He mentioned a significant pay increase and a possible bonus. Ryan was flattered and told Ned he would think about it, although he had no desire to leave the Attorney General’s Office. That night he told Elaine about the call and she was very excited, strongly encouraging him to show interest. So he did, and a few months later he joined Duke and
Associates at a salary more than double what he was making with the Attorney General’s Office plus a bonus. Elaine was elated and bought him several new suits and ties to celebrate. “We need to dress you properly,” she said. It wasn’t until a year later that Ryan learned the truth. It was at the firm’s Christmas party when Ryan went to introduce Elaine to Ned Heaton, only to learn that they were old friends. Their families had both belonged to the same country club and Elaine had known Ned since she was a little girl. This led to a big argument after the party was over. Ryan was furious that Elaine had never told him that she knew Ned. Finally, she confessed that the reason she didn’t want Ryan to know was that it had been she who had called Ned and asked him to try to get Ryan into the firm. Ned had done it as a favor to Elaine and her father. In fact, her father had personally called Mr. Duke, the head of the firm, asking for his assistance in getting Ryan on board. Ryan remembered how humiliated he felt at the time, and how the revelation had shaken his confidence.
It was nearly midnight when Ryan finally got back to the condominium and was surprised to see that Elaine was still up. She was sitting on the sofa, wearing her silk Chinese-design robe and reading an advertising portfolio. The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson was on the television, but she wasn't watching. She glared at him when he entered the living room, “What have you been up to Ryan? What in the world were you doing in Wisconsin?” Ryan wondered how she knew he had been in Wisconsin. He had told her he was going to California, but nothing more. “Ned Heaton called me. He wanted to know if there was anything he could do to help. I didn't know what the hell he was talking about Ryan! Then he told me you called and said you were
attending to some important personal business in Wisconsin—I thought you were still in California. I felt like a fool. What the hell were you doing there? What personal business?” Ryan would have liked to wring Ned’s neck, meddling again in his personal life. She was still staring at him, her arms crossed over her robe. “You haven't answered my question.” She waited while Ryan got up, went into the kitchen and grabbed a beer. He came back out and plopped on the loveseat across from her, staring at the television. “A police officer from Maryland called,” she said, making it sound more like an accusation than a statement, “What have you been up to?” “It’s a long complicated story,” Ryan said avoiding her eyes. “Can't we just talk about it in the morning? I've had a long week and I’m very tired.” He had planned to tell her all about it but wanted to wait until after the partnership meeting. But now that Ned Heaton had intervened, he could see that no matter how he explained it, Elaine would be furious with him for acting so irresponsibly and possibly jeopardizing his partnership chances. Elaine got up and stood directly in front of him, blocking his view of the television. “Ryan, are you crazy? They’re going to vote on you for a partnership on Thursday. This is what you’ve been working for these past years. And now, right when it’s so close you want to screw it all up. Ned told me you might have really hurt your chances this week—and after all he’s done to get you in the firm.” “He did that for you, not for me.” Elaine went silent for a moment. “There’s nothing wrong in using connections. That’s how the world works. How do you think most of the lawyers in the firm got their jobs? Listen you may be satisfied being a state employee all your life, but not me. Sometimes, I think you have no ambition at all. You would have been content working for the Attorney General, watching all those
who came with you and after you get experience and then move on to bigger and better jobs, more and more money. But you just wanted to stay put, doing the same thing day. Only losers stay in government jobs, don’t you see that?” “I’m not a loser,” Ryan said fighting to control his anger. “I’ve never been a loser and never will be. I was doing something I thought was important, prosecuting white collars criminals— polluters. Now, look at me, I’m working to get them off the hook.” His voice simmered. “Besides, there’s more to life than money.” “That’s easy for you to say, but I've never heard you complain about my fat paycheck.” It was another dig about how much more money she made than him. The blood thumped in Ryan’s veins. “Grow up, Ryan! Sometimes I think you really don’t want to succeed. Just when success starts getting close, you manage to do something to screw it up! It’s like you have some weird need for self destruction.” Ryan knew it; she was going to bring up the accident again. “Keep your voice down, the neighbors will hear us.” She ignored him, “Ryan, what’s wrong with you? You had so much talent, such a gift! You could have been a star baseball player, a millionaire. Who knows, you might be in the Hall of Fame today, if you hadn’t thrown it all away.” She was shaking her head with disdain. “You’re such a loser,” she said almost inaudibly. Ryan tried to stay calm, suppressing his fury. “We’ve been over this a million times. It was a stupid mistake made by a stupid kid twenty years ago. I can’t change what happened that night. Why do you have to throw this at me every time we have a fight! How many times do I have to say I’m sorry.” “Save all your sorrys for the dead girl’s parents!” Elaine said storming out of the living room.
Ryan kicked the coffee table. His first impulse was to go after her, argue more, turn the tables and ask her where she’s been and what she’s been doing. But he knew that would only aggravate things, escalate the conflict until they were both emotionally bruised and bitter, like so many fights in the past. And he really didn’t want to know what she had been doing. He walked out onto the balcony and sat down, trying to calm himself. It was still hot and humid outside and the streets were jammed with noisy traffic. He took a gulp of beer and noticed that his hands were trembling. She knew how to get to him, how to hurt him like nobody else could. As though his heart didn’t ache every time he watched a baseball game or saw a player interviewed, wondering what might have been. And the dead girl. He had seen her face a million times on a million sleepless nights and had re-lived the accident over and over, tossing and turning in bed, wishing he could go back in time and change things. But he couldn’t. What was done was done and all the hope and promise of his youth had vanished in one terrible night. He stayed on the balcony for about an hour and then went back to the bedroom. The door was locked so he slept in the guest bedroom.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN Saturday, July 19, 1986 Ryan left before Elaine stirred. Once at the office, he immersed himself in work and fell into a good steady rhythm. Elaine called around noon to remind him that they had a prior dinner engagement with old friends that evening. Her voice was formal and she made no mention of the night before. Ryan told her that he had a lot more work to do and would just meet them at the restaurant at 8 PM rather than go home first. “Suit yourself,” was all she said. Late in the afternoon, Ryan took a break from the drudgery and turned his attention to Rick Shannon and the Wisconsin connection. He called Officer DeNardo’s number and was surprised when DeNardo answered. “I’m manning the place myself today,” he said. Ryan told DeNardo everything that he had learned in Wisconsin. “That’s really very strange—both of them in the same experiment. Can’t be a coincidence. Do you think Rick’s been drugged or hypnotized in some way?” “I have no idea, but at least there's a lead for you to follow up on. You should also let Lieutenant Rojas know.” “Oh—I meant to tell you, Lieutenant Rojas called me yesterday. A strange thing happened out there. Remember, I told you they were checking the suspect’s fingerprints through the FBI database.” “Yeah, I remember. Did they find something?” “No. But there’s been a new twist in the case. Two CIA agents visited Rojas. They wanted to know everything about the fingerprints. How he got them and why he was checking them—
everything he knew. Then they told him that they were taking over the case and not to pursue it any further.” “The CIA? They don’t get involved in domestic cases do they?” “That’s what I thought. Rojas asked them about that and they said this was a very special case involving national security.” “What kind of national security? That doesn’t make sense!” “I know, but they wouldn't tell Rojas anything else. Rojas was steamed. They told him to forget the whole thing ever happened. Rojas was so pissed he didn't mention anything about you or Rick. Let them find out for themselves he said. He doesn't care much for the Feds. I can hardly blame him. I've had a few run-ins with the FBI myself—they’re an arrogant bunch. I doubt the CIA is any different. They act like they know everything and think the local police are just a bunch of idiots. But I wouldn’t want to cross the CIA.” “So Rojas is going to drop the investigation?” “Looks that way.” “Shouldn't someone tell the CIA about what I found out in Wisconsin? Can you contact them?” “Not me! I'm not supposed to know anything about it. Remember, they told Rojas not to tell anybody about this, and now I’m telling you. I'll get him in big trouble if I go to the Feds. Besides, if they won't tell Rojas anything, I doubt if they'll tell me anything.” Ryan thought for a moment. “Maybe I should contact them then—sort of just call and give them an anonymous tip.” “If you want to talk to them that's fine. But I'd appreciate it if you don't tell them that I told you about all this. Not for my sake but for Rojas.”
“Well it might be hard not to tell them. Rojas should have been upfront with them and told them everything in the first place.” “Yeah, maybe he will later. You gonna talk to them?” “I don't know. I'll have to think about it. I'm not sure I want to get any more involved in this.” There was a long lull in the conversation. “Keep in touch, whatever you decide,” DeNardo said, preparing to hang up. “One other thing,” Ryan said. “This is unrelated, but I wanted to ask you about Alana. For some reason, Rick’s ex-wife, Nancy, thinks Alana might have something to do with all of this.” “No way! That's crazy. She just bitter about the divorce, that’s all.” “Well she told me that Alana had been a high priced call girl in the Bahamas. Do you know anything about that?” DeNardo laughed, “If she was a call girl then my wife's a drug dealer. Listen, that rumor circulated around here when Rick first showed up with Alana. Rick was really upset about it, but you know once rumors start they get a life of their own. Especially in a small town like Middleton. Anyway—I shouldn’t tell you this—but when I first heard the rumor, I was concerned. Thought maybe Rick was being taken for some kind of a ride. So I did some checking around, informal like. I've got some connections with the Atlanta Police Department. They checked her out for me and told me her story was straight—she had been working for the underwriting company in Atlanta, a legitimate business. Before that, she worked as a receptionist for a manufacturing company. No criminal record or anything like that. Now promise, you won't tell anybody I did that. I'm not supposed to go snooping around in other people's business.” “I won't tell anybody,” Ryan said.
“Anyway, I figure what happened was some of the wives at the convention see this pretty young thing hanging around with all the older insurance agents. They’re paying a lot of attention to her and she's obviously not with any of them. You’ve met her, so you know how friendly and outgoing she is. Sooner or later they start gossiping about her and next thing you know they've got her pegged as a hooker. You know, once the rumor gets started, it just escalates. Forget all about it.” After hanging up with DeNardo, Ryan was surprised at how relieved he felt about Alana. It had troubled him far more that he wanted to admit. But now he was concerned about this other development with the CIA. If they were handling the investigation, they needed to know what he had found in Wisconsin. If he called them himself then he was again entangled in the whole mess. Maybe they would want to interview him. He really needed to focus on his work. He could call them later this week after the partnership meeting on Thursday. Still, he had difficulty turning his attention back to work. He kept thinking about the CIA and wondering whether he should call Alana and get her opinion on how to proceed. He resisted the temptation to phone her.
The dinner with old friends was awkward. Ryan showed up late, after the others were seated. It was a trendy restaurant that boasted nouvelle cuisine with an oriental flair. Elaine raved about it after having a business dinner there. Ryan guessed that it would be another one of those restaurants that burst on the scene only to flame out in a year or two. Elaine gave him an icy stare and looked at her watch when he joined them, sipping their cocktails. For the next two hours, the discussion centered on Bob and Maria, friends who had recently relocated from downtown Philadelphia to the suburbs. The food was delicious, the portions small, and the price outrageous. Just the way Elaine liked it.
Ryan and Elaine avoided talking directly to each other and Ryan wondered whether Bob and Mary could sense the tension between them. As they were leaving the restaurant, with the two women, walking ahead, Bob asked Ryan if everything was all right. “Are you two getting along?” “Sure,” we’ve just been having a little disagreement, that’s all.” “I know it’s none of my business, but Maria and I are a worried about you two. It was the same last time we all went out together.” “It was?” Ryan heard himself say. In the taxi home, Ryan and Elaine rode in silence both looking out their separate windows. Ryan was surprised by what Bob had said. He knew they had been seeing very little of each other, with Elaine constantly away on business and with him spending more and more evenings and weekends in the office. When they went out it was usually with friends, and when they ate at home it was usually at different times. They were drifting apart, sharing less and less; living separate lives. “I’m going to fly to Chicago tomorrow afternoon,” Elaine announced suddenly. “I thought you didn’t have to be there until late Monday.” “I don’t—but you never know with the airlines. I’ve got a lot of preparation to do and it’s probably best that I get there on Sunday night, so I can get a good night’s sleep and don’t have to rush for a flight on Monday morning.” “That’s fine,” said Ryan, relieved that they wouldn’t have to spend Sunday night together.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN Sunday, July 20, 1986 Ryan was eating cereal, reading the Sunday paper, when Elaine walked into the kitchen, wearing her exercise outfit, matching designer shirt and shorts, and her expensive new running shoes. “I’m sorry about the other night,” she said, “It’s just that I want so much for you to get this partnership. Ned tells me the difference between being a partner and just an ordinary associate is like night and day. I think you’ll like the job a lot more once you get it. I know you’ll be happier.” “Not to mention the additional money.” “That too,” she came over to him and put her hand on his shoulder. “I won’t be back until Thursday, but I’ll be thinking about you and the partnership. You deserve it—just concentrate—all right? You’re so close.” She leaned over and kissed him on the forehead. Ryan felt better having reconciled with Elaine. He hated when there was tension between them. At 10 AM he entered his office with a sinking feeling that he had never left. He looked around at the four walls of his office, the rows of law books, the standard issue Currier & Ives prints, the walnut desk, the brown leather chair, and the one window looking out to the street below. Despite its plush appointments, it felt like a prison cell. The office was much bigger and more expensive than the closet-size office he had with the Attorney General’s Office but it had never felt like home. He thought back fondly to his old office, with its beat-up metal desk, rickety chair, and government-issue filing cabinets. He felt in command in that old office, here he felt like an imposter. Again, Ryan fell into a good work rhythm and made excellent progress. For the most part, he managed to drive thoughts of Rick, Alana, Costas and the CIA out of his mind.
However, around noon he made a call to Doctor Steinberg at the Middleton Hospital, to update him on the experiments in Wisconsin. Dr. Steinberg related that he had received a call from Dr. Marks in San Francisco regarding Mr. Costas and both patients’ symptoms appeared eerily similar. They had agreed to keep in touch and share information. However, when Ryan told him about his meeting with Dr. Tyback and the hypnosis experiments in Wisconsin, Steinberg was skeptical. “He used the word hypnotoxin? I’m generally familiar with neurotransmitters and the basics of brain chemistry, but what you’re telling me seems very unusual.” Ryan suggested that he call Dr. Tyback directly, “I’m sure he can explain it much clearer than I can.” Steinberg took down Dr. Tyback’s phone number and politely said he would give him a call, but Ryan sensed reluctance in his voice.
By late afternoon Ryan was heading home, deciding to knock off early, relax, order pizza, drink some beer and catch the second game of the Phillies doubleheader on television. He felt satisfied about the work he had accomplished over the weekend and the fact that he was nearly all caught up. The reality was that his taking off for Wisconsin had not set him back that much. He knew Ned would be pleased with the briefs he had prepared for the Ornone and case and his preparations for the trial. He was starting to feel better about his partnership prospects. Maybe Elaine is right, he thought. Maybe I will like the job a lot more if I become a partner. When he arrived back at the condominium, Elaine had already departed for the airport, leaving her itinerary on the kitchen table. She would be in Chicago until Tuesday and then Dallas, returning late Thursday afternoon. He could smell the faint scent of her perfume still lingering in the air, Obsession by Calvin Klein.
Ryan changed into shorts and a tee shirt and turned on the television. It was the third inning and the Phillies were leading the Pirates four runs to three. Around the fifth inning, he decided to call for pizza and noticed that there were two calls waiting on the answering machine. The first one was from a friend, but the second one stopped him cold. He played it over and over. It started with a man’s voice: “Hello, I’m calling from the First National Bank of Philadelphia, we have a special credit card offer for select individuals. We would like to offer you a gold visa card with…” Then there was the sound of Elaine picking up the phone, “Darling, Ryan’s gone. We can talk. I missed you so much…” The answering machine cut off. That was it. Ryan sat down stunned and reeling. It shouldn't have been a complete surprise; he had suspicions but always managed to pass them off as jealous fantasies. Now, confronted with the awful reality, he wondered how he could have been so naive. All her traveling, all the weekends away, and her coolness towards him lately. She must have forgotten to erase the phone message before she left. He thought he could remember the man’s voice from other telemarketing calls, but maybe he was just imagining things. A barrage of questions rushed through his brain. Who was he? How had they met? How long had this been going on? Was she planning to tell him? Was she going to leave him? Did she love him? He imagined the man behind the voice; probably some good looking rich executive she had met through work, maybe even in her office. He thought of them making love and felt sick. Ryan ripped the answering machine from its cords and yanked it across the room, smashing it against the wall. He stormed into Elaine’s closet, searching for the black Alfred Nippon evening dress he had bought her for their anniversary, the one she loved so much. He
grabbed it by the collar, and ripped it down the front and stuffed it in the trash. Next, he went to her dressing table and, with a swipe of his hand, smashed her bottles of perfume onto the floor. His next targets were the framed pictures on her dressing table, but they brought him to a stop. There was the record of their marriage, images of them at their wedding, at the beach, on a picnic. He examined one picture in particular. He was in his baseball uniform with Elaine beside him, his arm around her shoulders and her arm around his waist. They both looked so young and innocent. Elaineâ€™s face was beaming with a radiance he hadnâ€™t seen in years. He picked up the picture, held it to his chest, and lay down on the bed.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN Monday, July 21, 1986 Ryan night was sleepless and fitful, filled with a contradictory emotions of anger, hurt, rejection, rage, loneliness, sadness, and loss. One minute he envisioned himself triumphantly walking out on Elaine and never looking back. The next minute he was begging her to stay. As morning arrived, a new feeling took hold, a sense of freedom, as though a great weight had lifted. Suddenly, making partner didn’t seem that important. It had all been for her, not him. How many years of their marriage had he spent trying to live up to her image of who he should be, not who he was. Always trying to make amends for that night in 1966. Always trying to be the bright shining star that she first fell in love with instead of the tarnished man she married.
His secretary, Betty, welcomed him back to the office with a look of concern and several of the attorneys popped in to ask how he was doing. The word was out that he had been off last week due to some personal problems, but thankfully, nobody pressed him about it. Ryan found himself thinking more about Alana and the CIA than about Elaine. Late morning, without much pre-thought, he dialed Alana’s number and felt his pulse race when he heard her say hello. She told him that Officer DeNardo had already filled her in about what had happened in Wisconsin and the CIA’s surprise intervention in the California case. “Why on earth would the CIA be involved?” She was adamant that someone should tell the CIA about what Ryan had found out in Wisconsin. “We have to follow up on any lead, any possibility, no matter how remote—anything that might help Rick.” Ryan told her he would call the CIA right after he got off the phone and would call her back and let her know what they said. The thought that he would have another opportunity to talk to her
again buoyed his spirits. Ryan instructed his secretary to find the main number for the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington. “The Central Intelligence Agency?” Betty repeated, as if she hadn't heard the first time. It took Ryan most of the afternoon to get though to somebody at the CIA who would talk to him. He kept getting transferred, disconnected or stonewalled. He used his lawyerly aggressiveness to full advantage, alternately threatening, pleading and shouting until he was finally put through to a Mr. Nullam, who didn't identify his exact position with the Agency but was willing to listen. Ryan told him that he had information that they might find important. He told him what he knew about the California case, without revealing his sources and told him that he had some additional information relating to incidents in Maryland and Wisconsin that might be connected. Finally, Mr. Nullam confided that he was in the public relations office and knew nothing about the case, but he would be glad to pass the information on to his superiors. That's not what Ryan wanted. He wanted to make sure that the information got to the right people and he was also hoping to learn a little more about the case himself. But all he could get out of Mr. Nullam was a promise that somebody would call him back. The call came about an hour later. The voice identified himself as an Agent Girard and indicated he would very much like to talk with him. He said that he could come up to Philadelphia tomorrow for a meeting, but inquired whether it might be possible for Ryan to come down to Washington, at the CIA’s expense. Ryan jumped at the chance. “Could I bring somebody else along? Mrs. Alana Shannon, she’s the wife of the man in the coma in Maryland.” Mr. Girard hesitated a second, “That would be fine.” They agreed to meet at noon at a CIA satellite office close to the White House. Ryan wrote down the address and directions.
Ryan knew he was acting recklessly. His partnership review was only three days away and Ned would be furious that he was taking another day off. But, to his surprise, Ryan didn’t really care. This was his chance to see Alana again, why deny it. He called her number, nervously hoping she would say yes to the trip. She was excited to hear from him. “I’ve been waiting for you to call,” she said with her silky voice. “What happened?” Ryan told her what transpired. “This Agent Girard seemed very anxious to talk to me. I had the feeling that he knew something about the California case. I told him I could come down to Washington tomorrow. I have some pending business down there so it’s not a problem.” “Ryan, you've already done so much. I don't know what I'd do without you. We wouldn't know any of this if it hadn't been for you. I don't know how to thank you. You are really a wonderful person and a true friend to Rick.” He was surprised at this, because he really hadn’t been thinking about Rick at all. But it was true, and it made him feel better about making the trip. In reality, he was helping out an old friend, wasn’t he? He was trying to get up the nerve to ask her if she would like to come with him when she asked, “Can I come to the meeting? I feel so helpless just sitting here. I'd really like to be there.” “Of course you can come,” he said trying to sound nonchalant. “I could pick you up on the way.” “I couldn’t ask you to do that. You’ve done too much already. Just tell me where the meeting is going to be held and I’ll join you there. I can drive down myself.” Ryan saw his chance slipping. “Really, Alana, its no problem at all for me to pick you up. I’d like to get an early start to beat the traffic and I’ll just swing by Middleton. It’s really not that far out of the way—I can fill you in on everything that happened in detail.” “Are you sure, Ryan?”
“No problem. This is for Rick,” he lied again. She gave him directions to her house and he promised to pick her up around 10 AM. Ryan was excited when he hung up the telephone. He would have the opportunity to spend several hours with her driving back and forth to Washington. He wondered if she would look as beautiful as he remembered.
It was close to 7:30 PM when Ryan walked down the hall to Ned Heaton's office. He had been avoiding this all evening. As expected, Ned was still in. Ned was a workaholic who rarely left the office before nine. Ryan wasn't sure if he owed his work habits to his insatiable appetite for money or an understandable desire to avoid his overbearing wife. Ned, like all the partners, had a large corner office with wide windows that looked over the Philadelphia skyline. He sat behind a large desk with a single green reading lamp editing a memorandum. He looked up surprised to see Ryan, and then smiled. “Look who’s back. I stopped by your office earlier to see how you were doing but you were tied up on the phone. Good work on those Ornone depositions, I’m just going over them now.” It was one of the few times that Ryan had seen Ned without his suit jacket. He was wearing his trademark suspenders, embroidered white shirt, blue designer silk tie, and gold cufflinks. All his suits and shirts were hand-tailored in Hong Kong and made of the finest quality. “Appearance is ninety-five percent of everything,” he would often say. Sitting at the end of his desk was a box of cigars, ones he got directly from Tampa with his name imprinted on the wrapper. He rarely smoked them himself, but liked to hand them out to clients. “Only two more days,” Ned said, giving Ryan the thumbs up sign. “Have a seat,” pointing to the leather armchair by the side of his desk.
Ryan stood. He hated doing this. “Listen, Ned, I won't be in tomorrow. There's some more personal business I have to attend to. Just one day and then it will all be over.” Ned’s face turned red, “What kind of personal business?” “I can't tell you.” Ned leaned forward in his chair and shook his head, frowning. “Are you mad Ryan? You're up for partner in two days. Is this so called personal business important enough to jeopardize your career?” “Yes it is,” Ryan said, knowing that it wasn’t true. “Then tell me what the hell’s going on. Listen, if there's a death or sickness in the family, I can explain that to everyone—nobody will hold it against you—but people just don't suddenly take time off for no reason. It looks unseemly. Tell me what's going on. I called Elaine and she knew nothing about it.” “I know you called Elaine and I wished you hadn’t. This is personal business Ned.” “What kind of friend would I be to you and Elaine, if I saw somebody I care about getting himself in trouble and did nothing to help? What’s going on Ryan? Money problems? Women problems? Illness? You’re not drinking or taking drugs are you?” “Of course not, you know me Ned.” “Then what is it? I need something to tell the other partners. They’ve been asking about you.” “All I can tell you Ned is that it involves the CIA.” Ryan was sorry the moment he blurted it out. He knew it sounded ridiculous. Ned made a worried face. “This isn't funny, Ryan. I'm trying to talk serious here. You want me to tell everybody; oh Ryan’s not in today—he’s doing something for the CIA. That will go over real big. Are you having trouble at home, Ryan? Trouble with Elaine?”
“No trouble,” he said avoiding eye contact. “Look, I've been pushing hard for you to get you this partnership. I've stuck my neck out for you and frankly, I don't think you give a shit. Honestly, Ryan, some of the other partners are resisting. I had pretty much managed to turn them around but then you disappear last week and now you're suddenly James Bond. That gives them the reason they need to vote against you. Don't you see?” “I made up the work. You know that. I was in here all weekend.” “That's not the point Ryan. Nobody has any problem with your work. It's good quality work. It's your attitude. Some of the partners just don't think you fit in. You rarely come to social affairs, or if you do, you leave early. You don’t take part in the small talk and banter. You don’t play golf. You're not one of the boys if you know what I mean. In fact, you used to drive that hideous Honda until Elaine finally got you the Mercedes. Do you know how bad that looked?” “No.” “That’s what I mean! And another thing—I shouldn't mention this—but some of the partners think you don’t show enough, how do I say it, polish. You don’t exude that air of confidence and ease. You don’t seem really comfortable around them.” “Maybe I’m not all that comfortable. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth like most of them. I didn’t go to private school. I’m not a Harvard or Yale grad—but I think I’ve gone out of my way to get along and my work is certainly as good as anybody else’s in the firm.” “Your work is fine my boy, we already covered that. But that’s only part of it. It’s also how our clients see you. How smooth and assured you are talking to them across the boardroom table. You know, making the small talk, connecting—you’ve got to be part of the team here. The other partners need to feel comfortable about inviting you back to their homes or their boats on
weekends. That’s all very important. Elaine understands that. You have to play the game, Ryan, you’ve got to fit in. It isn’t just about brains and ability.” “I don't like playing games.” Ned threw his hands up in the air. “Fine then! If you want to ruin your career, I guess that’s your business. I've done about all I can for you. I honestly don't know how they're going to vote on Thursday.” He let out a deep breath, “I'm not sure anymore how I'm going to vote. The CIA? Jesus Ryan, you need to come up with something better than that!” Ned stared away. Ryan didn't say anything, and after awhile Ned turned back and looked at him. “No, I didn’t mean that. You know you'll have my support.” He let out a deep breath. “You're fortytwo Ryan. You're getting a too old to start over again with another firm. People look at your age, and wonder what's wrong with you—they begin to label you a loser. It's the way the world works. You got to make your mark when you're still young. When I was your age I'd been a partner for what—seven years, and I'm only a little older than you are. You've got to think of your future—think of Elaine.” The last thing Ryan wanted was Ned Heaton lecturing him about his relationship with Elaine. “I'll see you on Wednesday.” With that, Ryan walked out of Ned's office, feeling like a man for the first time in a long time.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN Tuesday, July 22, 1986 Ryan awoke before the alarm went off. Shaving in the bathroom, he studied his reflection. He didn't look that bad, he thought. Most people would peg him for his late thirties. Wouldn't they? He still had his dark brown hair, although it had thinned a little and there were hints of gray around his temples. He wasn't bald like some of the other men in the office, even some of the younger ones. He only weighed about twenty pounds more than in his playing days, although he had lost most of his muscle tone. He reached down and pinched the side of his stomach. Yes, he could afford to lose a little weight and workout more. He used to run everyday or play tennis when he was with the Attorney General, but since joining Duke and Associates, he hadnâ€™t the time. He thought of Ned Heaton; under his expensively tailored suits he was fat. He probably looked terrible in a bathing suit. It gave him pleasure to think of Ned walking down the beach with his large stomach thumping out over his swimming trunks. Why was he all of a sudden so concerned with his looks? He wondered how Alana would see him. As an assured, mature handsome man? Probably not. More likely as a kindly father figure, a nice guy, good old Ryan. He splashed on some cologne, which he normally didn't wear, and put on his favorite dark blue suit with a red power tie. Ryan was on the road by 6 AM, before the morning rush. The streets of Philadelphia were nearly empty and there was a beautiful sunrise igniting the morning clouds. He made excellent time getting out of Philadelphia and stopped at a fast food restaurant close to the Maryland border to grab a coffee. He arrived in Middleton about an hour earlier than he had expected so he decided to stop in and see Officer DeNardo before picking up Alana.
He found his way to the Middleton police station, and the dispatcher on duty directed him down a small hallway. “First door on the left,” she said. Ryan peered through the doorway and saw DeNardo, leaning back in a swivel chair; legs propped up on his desk, reading the Baltimore Sun. He was holding a mug of coffee and looked up startled when he saw Ryan. He immediately put his feet down, sat up in his chair, and put the paper aside. “Just checking the police log,” he offered, although Ryan could clearly see that the paper was open to the sports page. “So what brings you down this way?” Ryan told him about his appointment with the CIA. “I'm also bringing Alana along," he added, "She really wanted to come.” DeNardo looked noncommittal and Ryan knew he was wondering whether his name had been mentioned to the CIA. “I'll try to keep you out of it—unless they really press,” said Ryan. “By the way,” DeNardo said, standing up and walking over to pull something out of a filing cabinet by his desk, “this was faxed in yesterday evening by someone named Lois Beck.” He handed Ryan a sheet of paper. “It's those names you wanted from the University of Wisconsin— the students in the experiment.” Ryan looked at the paper. There were ten names listed and the only ones he recognized were Rick Shannon and Daniel Costas. “This is the list you wanted, isn’t it?” asked DeNardo. Ryan didn't like the way DeNardo phrased the question. Didn't DeNardo want the names? Wasn't he running the investigation? “I thought maybe you'd want to keep these,” Ryan said. “Me? What would I do with them?”
“I thought maybe you could try to follow up, see if any of these other people were victims or might remember something. Maybe one of them would recognize the man in the California sketch.” A worried expression spread across DeNardo’s face. “Is there a problem?” “Well yes. You know I have a lot of responsibilities here in town. I'm not a detective, and if the CIA is involved in this, I don't want to get in the middle. And now Rojas has dropped his investigation. Why don't you just take this list and give it to the CIA.” He handed the list back to Ryan. “O.K.,” Rick said, resigned. “Sorry,” DeNardo said, looking down sheepishly.
Alana's house was easy to find, a two story white colonial about a mile from town, nicely landscaped and set back from the road. Just as Ryan pulled up in front of the house, the front door opened and Alana came bounding out waving her arm at him. She looked even more gorgeous than Ryan remembered. She wore a white flowing dress just above her knees, a string of pearls around her neck, matching pearl earrings and white high heels. The sunlight reflected off her blond hair as she walked gracefully to the car. Ryan jumped out to hold the car door open for her. She came right up to him, smiling radiantly, and kissed him softly on his cheek. She smelled wonderful. In her high heels, she was only a few inches shorter than Ryan and he got a good look into her emerald eyes. He stared a fraction of a second longer than he should have but she didn’t seem to mind. At first, it didn’t seem that she was wearing makeup, but then Ryan noticed just a touch of eyes shadow and pale pink lipstick. She was stunning, with a Grace Kelly-like glow. No wonder she had swept Rick off his feet.
On the trip down to Washington, their conversation flowed with a steady and easy cadence, both smiling. Ryan told her everything about his trip to California and Wisconsin, except for some of the conversation with Rick's ex-wife. He showed her the list he had received from DeNardo and told her about DeNardo’s reluctance to pursue it further. Alana wasn’t surprised. “He’s a nice guy but he’s really just a small town cop. He mostly likes to parade around town in his uniform and gab with the townsfolk—he’s certainly no detective. The case wasn’t going anywhere until you showed up.” Ryan said he wasn't sure what do with the list, maybe he should just turn it over to the CIA. A list of names really didn't do him any good. He wouldn’t know how to find any of them now. “We could get information about the names on the list from the University,” she offered. Ryan liked the way she said we. “Yes, but it would probably take DeNardo's help again.” “I don't think so. Many schools publish directories of their graduates. They're usually put together by private companies who then try to sell them back to the alumni. I can follow up and try to get the addresses of the publishing companies—do a search on the names on the list and find out where they are now. I'd be glad to do anything to help.” She placed her hand on Ryan’s arm. As they approached the Washington suburbs, the traffic thickened. Although Agent Girard had provided directions to the CIA’s satellite office in downtown Washington, they still got lost. They finally located the building a few blocks from the Executive Office of the White House near the intersection of 18th and G streets, a tall rectangular concrete building with parallel rows of tiny windows. It was already past noon when they arrived at the front reception area. It took them another ten minutes to clear security. With their visitor badges dangling from their necks, an armed guard escorted them through a maze of corridors to a small conference room. At the end of the
conference room was an American Flag and an imposing blue circular seal showing a bald eagle over a sharp white shield with the words Central Intelligence Agency and United States of America prominently displayed. Hanging on the wall at the other end of the room were two framed photographs; one of President Reagan and the other of a man that Ryan didn’t recognize, probably the director of the agency, he thought. There was a video camera was mounted on ceiling. Two men were pacing in the room when they entered, a short bald man who introduced himself as Agent Dubuc and a large black man who introduced himself as Agent Girard. Both wore dark suits, white shirts and grayish nondescript ties. No first names were given. “Agent Girard is familiar with the California case,” the smaller man began quickly in a firm no-nonsense voice. He invited everybody to sit down at the conference table and turned the meeting over to Agent Girard. The first thing Agent Girard did was to point to a video camera. “Everything you say here will be videotaped. It's standard agency policy to tape all interrogations.” Ryan didn't like the term interrogation. He thought of it more as an interview. Girard continued, “We want you to tell us everything you know about the California case and any related information. I’m not at liberty to tell you anything pertaining to the agency’s interest in the case except that it involves a highly sensitive matter related to national security. What you tell us might help to safeguard vital national secrets. It is your duty as citizens of the United States to be totally honest and forthright. I must warn you that any attempt to conceal facts or mislead the Agency could place you in violation of United States national security laws and lead to your prosecution.” A friendly beginning, thought Ryan. “Now that we've made that clear, I need you, Mrs. Shannon, to tell me everything concerning your husband. And you, Mr. Butler, I need you to tell me everything about your
involvement in the case and what you were doing in California and Wisconsin. Do not leave anything out even if you think it might be irrelevant, that will be for us to decide. Agent Dubuc will take notes.” Alana told them about what had happened to Rick. Then Ryan went though his entire story from day one, his chance visit to Middleton, his learning about the Costas case, and his trip to Wisconsin. He tried to avoid mentioning Lieutenant Rojas directly but Girard asked him pointblank how he knew about the CIA's involvement in the case and Ryan had no choice but to tell the truth. He didn't want to be less than forthcoming with the CIA and, besides, Rojas should have told the CIA everything right from the beginning. Girard listened intently but his poker expression never changed. Occasionally he would repeat something that Ryan had said to make sure he had understood it right and sometimes he would ask a clarifying question. He had a big booming authoritative voice. All the time Agent Dubuc took copious notes. When Ryan was finished telling his story he tried to elicit information from Girard. “Are you going to investigate the possible connection in Wisconsin?” Girard evaded the question. “You can be assured that the CIA will do everything under its power to resolve this case.” Ryan tried some other angles but with similar results. It was clear that Girard had no intention of revealing anything about the case and was too much of a professional to be tricked into letting anything slip out. In conclusion, Girard warned them not to discuss any aspects of this case with anybody, “Not your wife, not your mother, not even your dog.” He advised both of them to try and forget all about it. That was enough for Alana.
“That's a little difficult when your husband's life is on the line. I want to know what you’re going to do to help him!” she demanded, her voice rising and trembling. “As I previously indicated Mrs. Shannon, we'll do everything we can. If we find anything relevant to your husband's case, anything that might help him, we'll pass it along to the medical authorities. Unless of course it would jeopardize national security.” Alana winced, “National security? My husband's in a coma for god's sake!” Ryan patted on her the arm, trying to calm her down, while Agents Girard and Dubuc just, stared back with wooden faces.
After they had been escorted out of the building and were standing in the bright sunlight, Alana began to vent, “I can't believe that last thing he said about Rick. They'd help unless there were security risks. What kind of people are they?” she asked shaking her head. “I think they know something and they’re not telling us. Something that could help Rick.” “Maybe,” Ryan said, suspecting she was right. By the time they walked to the car, her agitation had turned to depression. Both of them recognized that even though the meeting had lasted over an hour they hadn't learned anything they didn’t already know. They had expected too much. Ryan decided to change the subject, “I know a great place in Georgetown for a late lunch.” “O.K.” Alana said, still looking glum. “I haven’t had anything to eat today”. They finished a calming lunch at a French bistro on M Street. She ordered the salmon and Ryan ordered steak with béarnaise sauce. They both drank a glass of Chardonnay and shared a chocolate mousse for dessert. By the time they left the restaurant, the food and the wine had lifted their spirits, and they even laughed a little. Alana had never really seen Washington so Ryan offered to show her around.
“I thought you had work to do in DC?” “I do,” he lied, “but I don’t feel like working now. I can postpone it for another visit.” He parked on Constitution Avenue and they walked over together to the Vietnam Memorial. Ryan searched for the names of three buddies of his who had died in the war. The memorial wall was covered with photographs, articles and letters that visitors had left in memory of the dead. Ryan’s voice choked when he tried to speak again, “Such a tragic waste,” he said, and Alana put her arm around his as they walked over to the Lincoln Memorial. They sat on a park bench near the Memorial looking out towards the Reflecting Pool with the Washington Monument in the distance. It was a glorious summer day with a blue cloudless sky. The normally oppressive Washington humidity had vanished. Across the water, a father and son were sailing a remote controlled boat. Ryan left Alana sitting on the bench and went over to buy two soft drinks from one of the vendor carts that lined the streets paralleling the Washington Mall. When he returned to the bench Alana was gone. He looked around until he spotted her, sitting down by the edge of the Reflecting Pool. Her shoes were off and she was dangling her feet in the water. Ryan came up behind her and stopped to look. Her hair was golden in the sunlight and the water sparkled like diamonds on her legs as she splashed them up and down. She looked like she had stepped out of an impressionist painting, exquisitely beautiful and timeless. He handed her a drink and she looked up at him with a warm smile.
They arrived back to Middleton around 6 PM. They had both been quiet during the trip back and Ryan found himself driving slower, wanting the evening to last. He parked the car in front of her house and walked her to the door. She looked at him and smiled sweetly.
“Thanks, for everything,” she said and reached up and kissed him on the cheek, holding her lips against his him for what seemed a longer than expected time. It was too much for Ryan, he pulled her close and kissed her lips. She made no effort to move away. It wasn't something he had planned it just happened instinctively. Something came over him, from deep within and beyond his conscious control. When he realized what he was doing, he immediately pulled back, embarrassed. He started to apologize but Alana held her finger up to her lips, signaling for him to be quiet. “Would you like to come in?” Alana said looking straight into his eyes. Ryan was flustered and confused. Yes, he wanted to come in, but his desire was clouded by thoughts of Elaine and Rick. “I'd better not.” he said, hoping she would try to talk him into it. “I understand,” she said with a wistful hint of sadness. “Good night, Ryan. Thanks for everything.” Ryan said goodnight and started to walk away but after a few steps he hesitated and looked back. She was still standing there, looking right at him with those deep green eyes. His resistance melted. He turned back, embraced her, and this time kissed her deeply and passionately. She took his hand and led him through the front door, up the stairs and into a guest bedroom. She stood in front of him unbuttoning her blouse. Ryan came over and kissed her again, holding her body tight against his and they fell over onto the bed. Ryan began slowly, kissing her on the lips and nuzzling her neck. It had been over twenty years since he had been with a woman, other than his wife, and he felt self conscious and unsure of himself. With Elaine, he knew exactly what she liked and didn't like and over the years their lovemaking had evolved into a shared ritual. But with Alana everything was new. To Ryan's surprise, she seemed to sense his awkwardness and slowly began to take charge. Her sexual
confidence startled Ryan. She was totally natural, uninhibited, and at ease with her body. She knew what she wanted and seemed to know instinctively what he wanted. After a while she moved on top, straddling him, rocking up and down in a faster and faster rhythm. Ryan couldn't believe how gorgeous she was, naked above him. He laid there breathless as she moved her body up and down. He held onto her hips as her pelvis moved in locked motion with his. She opened her eyes and looked right at him moving her tongue slowly and sensually across her mouth and lips. She arched back her neck and shook her hair as Ryan moved his hands up from her hips and placed them on her breasts, letting her nipples graze his open palms. She started to moan and tremble and then she leaned forward with a dreamy smile and gave him a deep wet kiss. When it was over, he laid beside her for a long time, trying to catch his breath, his body still trembling. She turned towards him and rested her head on his chest. After a while she spoke. “This shouldn't have happened,” she said softly, running her fingers through the hair on his chest. “I know,” said Ryan not wanting to think about anything but the moment. “I want you to understand, despite what just happened I really do love Rick. I’ve just been so lonely, so frightened—I didn’t mean to lead you on. I just need to be with someone, someone I can talk to and trust—someone to hold me.” She started to cry. “You can trust me,” Ryan said, pulling her closer.
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Same Day Ryan and Alana's visit to the CIA set off a frenzy of activity. After the meeting, Agent Girard pulled the videocassette out of the tape recorder, rushed out of the room, and took the elevator up to the top floor of the building. The secretary outside of the deputy director’s office waived him in, “He’s waiting for you,” she said. The deputy director was standing behind his desk when Agent Girard walked in. “Do they know anything?” “I think you ought to review this,” said Agent Girard, handing him the videocassette.
It had been a difficult time for both the deputy director and the Agency. It all started three months ago when one of their lower level agents in the New York office disappeared. The agent had been assigned to conduct diplomatic surveillance of representatives to the United Nations. This particular agent was charged with tailing and observing the activities of certain Cuban diplomats suspected of espionage in the United States. It was routine, low level espionage, no big deal. When the agent didn't show up for work, the Agency launched an investigation. It was as if he had just vanished. His apartment was still full of his personal items and by the looks of the refrigerator, he had recently bought food. His bed was unmade, his closet was full, his laundry bag was stuffed with clothes, and his car was parked in the apartment garage. Nobody in his building had noticed anything unusual. The investigation indicated that he had been out drinking with some friends the night before and they had dropped him outside his apartment around midnight. There was nothing in the New York City police records that suggested he was the victim of foul play. So what happened?
The Agency was faced with three possibilities; the agent had been killed, kidnapped or had defected. Only the defection made sense. There was no reason why any other country would kidnap or kill him; at least none that the CIA knew. The more probable explanation was that he had gone over to the other side. The deputy director immediately took charge of the investigation. First, he ordered a damage appraisal to determine what the agent knew and how much it could hurt the Agency. He breathed somewhat easier when he read the report. A review of the agent's service record with the CIA revealed that he had never been exposed to highly sensitive information. What he knew could be harmful but would not seriously compromise national security or jeopardize the lives of agents in the field. The real danger was potential embarrassment to the Agency. What if he showed up on television in Moscow, or Havana? It would be a major public relations debacle and would likely entail a congressional investigation and calls for closer legislative oversight. The National Security Council and the FBI would try to use it as a means to argue for more resources at the expense of the Agency. The press, of course, would have a field day if they found out. At worse, it could force the Director's resignation and give the Administration a black eye. The deputy director had also ordered a profile prepared of the missing agent, David Newcombe. It was not at all encouraging. He was recruited right out of Army Special Forces where he served as a training officer. He joined the Agency eight years ago at the age of twentysix. An athletic six-footer with an IQ of 140, he graduated from the University of Colorado in only three years with a degree in political science. He also had a special talent for languages and could converse in French, Italian and Spanish. He was an expert at martial arts, small arms, and hand-to-hand combat. His first job with the agency was to instruct agents in enemy neutralization techniques, the Agencyâ€™s buzzword for assassination.
He served two years in
Italy working underground with Italian security forces infiltrating the Red Brigade terrorist organization. Agent Newcombe returned to Washington with an excellent performance evaluation and a special commendation for his work in identifying the Illinois-based syndicate that was illegally supplying weapons to the Red Brigade. His next assignment was in the document security section at the Agency headquarters near Langley, Virginia. In this capacity, he reviewed classified materials to evaluate what documents could be declassified and publicly released in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act. It was not a plum assignment, but the Agency liked to rotate all their agents through the position, normally for two years, to give them familiarity with security classification procedures. Newcombe had nearly completed his tour and was slated for a re-assignment when he was arrested by the District of Columbia Police for rape and aggravated assault. The facts were muddled and Newcombe claimed it was a misunderstanding involving a consensual sex act. The girl claimed that it had started out consensual but he tied her up and forced her to have sex. The Agency managed to get the charges dropped, but his stock with the Agency plummeted. Newcombe was immediately transferred to the New York office and assigned to the diplomatic surveillance unit. It was a big demotion and, for all extensive purposes, his once promising career was finished. He was also sent to an Agency psychiatrist for evaluation. The deputy director was surprised when he read the report. He had really expected that Newcombe would be classified as a borderline sociopath. Sociopaths were nothing new to the Agency and often made excellent spies. However, they were never put in highly sensitive positions and could never be trusted. However, David Newcombe was not classified as a sociopath, but had serious psychosexual problems. The report read:
“Agent Newcombe has strong aggressive tendencies which he attempts to rigidly control but are often manifested sexually through compulsive acts of sadomasochism and/or violence towards women. These sexual acts are often followed by intense periods of depression, remorse and guilt.” In retrospect, the deputy director realized it had been a mistake to reassign Newcombe, they should have just released him; but the Agency always tries to take care of their own. After much analysis and internal discussion, the Agency determined that there was not much they could do but sit tight and see what developed. In the meantime, they would continue their investigation and would try to keep a lid on any leaks. Maybe nothing would come of it. Maybe he had been killed in an unrelated mugging or a freak accident. Then, out of the blue, they received a special ‘Code 202’ alert from the FBI. One of their agent’s fingerprints had shown up in a routine fingerprint inquiry involving a criminal case in Sonoma California. The prints matched those of Agent Newcombe. A few years ago, the Agency decided to add all of its agents’ fingerprints to the FBI's federal fingerprint database. The deputy director hadn't thought it was a good idea at the time, but was now forced to reconsider. The concept was to have the prints in the database to identify immediately any agents who turned up as part of a local criminal investigation. Occasionally agents were involved in clandestine operations that ran afoul of local law enforcement. The FBI had programmed the system to alert the Agency of any such occurrences; known as a ‘Code 202’. This would enable the Agency to step in and put the brakes on any local investigations. They could move quickly to protect their agents and ensure that unwitting locals did not compromise covert operations. However, Newcombe certainly wasn't involved in any Agency operations in California, unless he was freelancing.
The deputy director reviewed the tape with Agent Girard and then quickly called a meeting of his top staff. He ordered a background check on both Ryan and Alana and continuous surveillance. He also dispatched an agent to Wisconsin to stand by for further instructions.
With the top staff had assembled at the conference table, Agent Girard started the tape, fastforwarding to a specific point in the interview. The tape showed Ryan and Alana sitting across from Agent Girard and Agent Dubuc in the briefing room. Ryan was speaking: “… then I checked with the financial office at the University and they were able to identify the source of the funding for the project. It was the American Institute for the Advancement of Human Intelligence.” The deputy director froze the video picture and looked over at his staff. A few of the older members nodded in recognition but the others just looked perplexed. The deputy director finally spoke, “For those of you who don't already know, the American Institute for the Advancement of Human Intelligence was a CIA creation.”
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Same Day The same afternoon that Ryan and Alana were in Washington, Agent David Newcombe, alias Mr. York, boarded a plane from St. Barts to Miami. He cleared customs in Miami exhibiting a fake Australian passport under the name of Alexander Mumford. He wore a brown wig, a fake brown mustache, and brown contact lens disguising his blue eyes. From Miami he caught a flight to Chicago and rented a Lincoln Continental for a week, paid for with a credit card in the name of Alexander Mumford. He drove the car from O'Hare airport towards the south side of Chicago on Interstate 90. Approaching the Indiana border, he pulled off at an exit that read ‘East Chicago’ and made his way through a maze of warehouses and junkyards until he reached an old decaying commercial area. He turned right onto a litter-strewn street of mostly abandoned buildings, boarded up, and covered in graffiti. On one corner, there was a run-down establishment with a sign reading, ‘Joe’s Neighborhood Tavern’, above the front door. A few old men were standing outside, leaning against a wall, and sharing a bottle. Newcombe parked his car and headed for the tavern door. Two tough looking black teenagers, one as tall as Newcombe, came strutting towards him blocking his route to the bar. Just try it, Newcombe thought as he gave them both a hard cold stare. They laughed and stepped aside letting him pass. He disappeared into the bar. Inside it was dark and smelled of stale beer and cigarettes. It took his eyes a few seconds to adjust. There were several men sitting on barstools and a large heavyset bartender. They stared at Newcombe in disbelief, wondering what this fancy-dressed man was doing in this dump, in this
neighborhood. Newcombe walked over to the bar wearing a silk shirt, black pants, and hand crafted leather Italian shoes. He was certainly not from the neighborhood. “I need to see Augie,” he said to the bartender. The bartender stared at him suspiciously. “Augie who?” “Don't play games with me,” Newcombe said in his most threatening voice. “Just tell Augie that Agent Newcombe is here to see him. We go back awhile. I’m sure he wouldn’t want to miss me.” He put a twenty-dollar bill on the counter. The bartender didn't say anything, just took the bill and walked across the bar to an adjoining door, opened it, and went through. Newcombe waited at the bar until he returned. “Go ahead in,” said the bartender.
The two teenagers outside couldn't believe that anyone would drive a Lincoln Continental into this neighborhood and leave it parked on the street. “Fucking idiot,” said the tall one, “let's go for a ride.”
Augie was sitting at a small desk in the corner of a storeroom, surrounded by crates and catalogs. He looked up apprehensively when Newcombe appeared. He was a short pudgy man in his early fifties, completely bald, with a heavy five o’clock shadow, thick glasses, and a pockmarked face. “I don’t want any more trouble with the CIA,” Augie said, sliding back in his chair and raising his hands to show open palms. “Like I told ya before, we would’ve never done business with those Italians if we knew what they was doing—shooting people in the knees and all. I’m all out of that now. I ain’t selling guns no more—I’m legit—really! I got my bar business here—that’s all I do these days.”
Newcombe laughed, “That’s not what I hear. I’ve heard you do special favors for friends, and I have a special favor to request.” “You ain’t no friend.” “Maybe not, but I sure can be your enemy. I’m here on unofficial business and I’m willing to pay you triple the market price, on the condition that you don’t tell anybody I was ever here.” Augie looked up skeptical, “So ya gone off the reservation?” “You could put it that way.” “For real?” A cynical smile crossed Augie’s face “Isn’t that what I just said!” Augie recoiled, “O.K., O.K. What ya lookin for?”
Twenty minutes later, Newcombe walked out of the bar carrying a small leather case. He immediately saw that the two teenagers had broken into to the Continental. The younger one was inside, trying to hot-wire the ignition while the tall one stood guard by the door. The old men standing outside the bar were just watching. “Get the hell out of there!” Newcombe yelled charging directly towards them. “Fuck off,” came the reply. The big kid had barely gotten the word off out when Newcombe was on him with a punch to the stomach, crumpling him to his knees. Newcombe then grabbed the juvenile by his neck, lifted him up with one hand and slammed his head against the car hood. There was a loud hollow clunk and the kid collapsed to the ground. “You're next!” Newcombe said, turning to the smaller kid still in the car. The kid had rolled up the windows, locked the door, and was desperately trying to get the ignition to turn over.
With a quick chop of his elbow, Newcombe smashed the car window, exploding it into a shower of glass granules. He reached in, unlocked the door and opened it. The kid was sliding across the seat trying to get out the other side as Newcombe grabbed him by his arm. He pulled him out of the car twisting the arm behind the kids back. The boy pleaded for him to let go but Newcombe kept twisting until he heard a sharp snap. He then threw the teenager to the sidewalk. A few people rushed out of the bar but nobody made a move towards Newcombe. He picked up the leather case that he left on the ground, got in the car, put the key in the ignition and started the engine. He backed out, around the body of the large kid, still writhing in the street, trying to get up. “Somebody better call an ambulance,” Newcombe yelled at the people standing outside the bar. He hoped he hadn't hurt the kids too bad. He had just wanted to teach them a lesson, not to mess with things that weren’t theirs. He retraced his route through the neighborhood and found his way back to Interstate 90, this time heading north. He crossed Chicago, following the signs for Milwaukee. He thought about the things he needed to do; fix the car window, buy a business suit, and scout out a good motel where he could meet Dr. Tyback and pick up the formula. When he was about twenty miles north of Chicago, he reached over with one hand and opened the small leather case on the seat next to him. Inside was a shiny silver semi-automatic handgun with a detachable suppressor. He picked it up. It felt good in his hand, like a new glove.
CHAPTER NINETEEN Wednesday, July 23, 1986 The CIA deputy director's name was Wilhelm Konig, but everybody in the Agency referred to him as Brahms. Brahms had been his code name years ago in the late nineteen-forties when he singlehandedly organized and ran the agency's intelligence network in East Germany. The name stuck, partly because he was of German heritage, partly because his father had been a music professor, and partly because he had a reputation for orchestrating all his operations with flawless planning, timing and attention to detail. His field agents looked upon him with respect and awe. They knew that above all else, Brahms would do his best to protect their safety and cover. Not one of Brahmsâ€™ field agents had ever been killed or compromised. Brahmsâ€™ parents fled to the United States in 1934 shortly after Hitler installed himself as Fuhrer. Brahms was fourteen years of age at the time. He graduated summa cum laude from Columbia University in 1941 with a degree in International Relations and immediately joined the army. Because of his fluency in German, he was transferred to army intelligence and gained a reputation as a skilled and cunning interrogator of captured soldiers, especially German officers. He stayed in the army until 1947 and then joined the newly created Central Intelligence Agency. Later he was infiltrated into East Germany and set up the spy network. Brahms returned to the United States in the early nineteen-fifties and gradually worked his way up the Agency hierarchy until by the he reached the echelons of upper management. Brahms was a staunch anti-Communist and a cold warrior but in the late nineteen-sixties, he became increasingly concerned about the Agency's foray into the area of domestic spying. In one particular upper level meeting he so vehemently opposed the director's order to infiltrate anti-Vietnam war groups that he was asked to resign. He refused, and was for a time demoted to a low-level desk job
in the Los Angeles field office. He was brought back by a new director in the mid-seventies and was made deputy director in 1982. As deputy director, he was responsible for the day-to-day running of the Agency and for making sure that the President's and the Director's policies and orders were implemented. In this capacity, he wielded tremendous power and was looked upon by many in the intelligence community as the real head of the Agency. Now a crisis had arisen which threatened his continued tenure as deputy director. Brahms sat in front of a computer at a corner table in his office. He began typing on the keyboard, ‘Request for level 1 security’. He entered his password and ‘Level 1 Access Granted’ appeared at the top of the screen. He then typed in, ‘Request for special authorization’ and again the computer promoted him for a password. This time he entered a different one. Next, the computer prompted him to, ‘Prepare for Verification.’ He placed his thumb onto a pad connected by a cable to the computer. A scanned image of his thumbprint appeared on the screen with a message that read, ‘Verifying Identification’. Somewhere in the main computer system, that thumbprint was being compared with another stored image of his print. After a few seconds, a new message appeared, ‘Special Authorization Granted’. A list of options appeared on the screen. He selected the ‘Special Project Summaries’ option which he knew would display one-page summaries of all special projects and operations conducted by the agency. The actual physical files were kept in the Document Security Section in CIA’s headquarters in Langley and were classified according to a color key and an indexing system: Red was Top Secret Sensitive, Yellow was Top Secret, Blue was Secret and Green was Confidential. Brahms was one of a handful of individuals with Top Secret Sensitive Clearance.
The computer then promoted him for a search word and he typed in, ‘American Institute for the Advancement of Human Intelligence.’ A list of projects appeared on the screen. He typed, ‘Drug Induced Hypnosis’ and a single document appeared on the screen: Project Synopsis:
Drug Induced Hypnosis
Dr. Alan Waits University of Wisconsin Department of Biochemistry
November 23, 1967
Aborted, February 27, 1968 See file notes Ax 334 446 1968: Yellow
The deputy director picked up the phone. “Brahms here! I want file number Ax 334 446 1968 pulled. It's a Code Yellow. I'll be there at two this afternoon.” Brahms knew that he could have the folder delivered by special armed courier to his office in downtown Washington, a privilege only granted to him and the Director. However, it had always been his policy to abide by the same rules as everybody else. Therefore, he would go over to Langley, to the Document Security Section and review the file there. Besides, it was good for him to make an appearance at headquarters, to be seen by the employees, and talk to them. He maintained another office at Langley, but rarely visited it, preferring to stay in Washington, close to Congress and the White House.
As he rode in the back of his chauffeured Cadillac to Langley, a twenty-minute drive, he thought back on the history of the American Institute for the Advancement of Human Intelligence. The agency had established it as one of several dummy institutes to fund academic studies that were thought to have national security potential. Before the anti-war turmoil in the 1960's, the Agency simply contracted directly with universities for research. However, after 1966, with college Vietnam protests raging, no major university in America would have anything do with the CIA. So the Agency went undercover, setting up fake think tanks and creating phony funding institutes. The practice continued until 1972, when one of their dummy institutes was exposed. A group of protesters broke into a CIA field office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, stole files and turned them over to the press. The files eventually found their way to the Washington Post and Congress launched an inquiry. Although it was quickly hushed up, the Agency promised Congress to get out of the business of covertly funding academic research. After meeting with the army of officials who greeted him at headquarter, Brahms was escorted to the Document Security Section. He was issued a yellow key and led down a corridor to a small secure room containing just a chair and a table. A few minutes later a guard entered, handed him a large yellow metal box, and left, closing the door behind him. Brahms unlocked the box with the yellow key and spread the contents on the table. In front of him were copies of the original grant application, the official notice of the grant award, weekly status reports, correspondence, and the agencyâ€™s analysis log. Many of the documents were embossed with the phony logo of the American Institute for the Advancement of Human Intelligence. Brahms read through the materials. He didn't understand some of the chemical and medical terms but he was much able to piece together the history of the project.
As Brahms understood it, the agency had awarded the grant to the University of Wisconsin to study the effect of a particular drug on hypnosis. The drug, Rn2 developed by Dr. Allan Waits, was similar in molecular structure to certain naturally occurring neurotransmitters found in the brains of all mammals, and were thought to regulate states of consciousness. They performed this function by chemically bonding to certain neuron receptors in the brain's reticular formation, although the exact mechanism for this was unknown at the time. The grant involved a classic controlled scientific experiment. Volunteers were screened to determine their susceptibility to hypnosis employing a twelve-point scale developed by two professors at Stanford University. The volunteers were then randomly divided into two groups, an experimental group and a control group. The experimental group was given the Rn2 drug while the control group was given a placebo dose containing only sugar and food coloring. Both groups were then hypnotized and their responses to hypnosis were measured and compared. The initial results of the study were startling. The group given the Rn2 responded to hypnosis at a rate far in excess of the other group. Furthermore, they went into a much deeper state of hypnosis and were much more responsive to all types of hypnotic suggestion. Statistical analysis of the results showed that there was less than one chance in a 10,000 that the results were due to chance rather than to the injection of the Rn2 drug. By the fourth session, the groups responses had become so divergent that Dr. Waits dispensed with the control group altogether. The experimental groupâ€™s response had accelerated to the point where the subjects would adhere to any hypnotic suggestion without hesitation. Dr. Waits noted in his report that it was well documented in the scientific literature that under normal hypnosis, people maintain a level of control over their actions and will not respond to suggestions that would force them to violate their own moral code or inflict harm on themselves or others. There appeared to be no such restraints in those hypnotized under the influence of Rn2. At this
point Dr. Waits became alarmed and discontinued the injection of the Rn2 but continued his hypnosis and monitoring of the experimental subjects. To his astonishment, Dr. Waits found no diminishment in the subjects’ response to hypnosis after the Rn2 injections were stopped. In fact, over the next five sessions their suggestibility to hypnosis continued to increase. As part of the experiment, Dr. Waits had been monitoring the level of neurotransmitters in each subject’s blood stream. The levels in the experimental group, although exceedingly small, were up to 80 times greater than that found in a normal person. Furthermore, Dr. Waits believed that the injection of Rn2 alone could not account for the increase. With this finding, Dr. Waits decided to discontinue the experiment. He theorized that somehow the drug, Rn2, had acted as a catalyst to stimulate the body's own production of certain neurotransmitters within the brain stem, accelerating the brain’s susceptibility to hypnosis, even without the presence of the drug. Dr. Waits sent a long letter to the institute explaining his reasons for stopping the experiment. In the letter, he said he was destroying the drug and all records of the experiment. He also expressed his belief that the institute would understand and support his actions. He stated that continuation of the research presented the specter of, “turning humans into robots,” and wrote ominously of the drug’s potential for misuse. He offered to return all the grant money. To his surprise, the institute demanded that he turn over the drug along with all his records and threatened to sue him for non-compliance with the grant contract. His response, still in the file, was a one-line letter that simply read, “Sue me!” In the end, the Agency decided not to press the case in court, fearing that a public legal battle over the issue might expose the institute and would certainly chill other academics from accepting institute grants. Instead, the Agency received permission from the Director to use covert means to obtain the drug and the records. On two occasions, agents broke into Dr. Waits' University
office and searched through his files. When that proved unsuccessful, they broke into his home and searched through his house. Again, they found nothing. Agency intelligence analysis finally concluded that Dr. Waits must have destroyed all the records and the case was closed. Dr. Waits never suspected that his home and office had been searched. Brahms placed all the documents back in the folder. The whole affair left a sour taste in his mouth. The Agency had no business getting involved in this type of thing, he thought. We were out of control in those days: setting up fake institutes, following war protesters, bugging civil rights leaders, breaking into homes of private citizens. He shook his head. Brahms was certainly not against covert operations. He had taken part in them and had approved them as a deputy director, but they had all involved matters of national security. Not stuff like this, he thought closing the box. Never stuff like this. Brahms picked up the telephone and told Security Control that they could come retrieve the documents. He also indicated that he wanted to see a list of all agents who had accessed the file in the last twenty years. An armed guard came, collected the folder and escorted him back to Security Control. Brahms had the authority to leave the building without going through Security Control, but again he chose to submit himself to all standard procedures. He would be searched before leaving the building. Other deputy directors might have found this humiliating, but not Brahms. The procedures had been put in place for a purpose, and, as far as he was concerned, nobody should be exempt; not even the Director. Before entering Security Clearance, Brahms waited until a clerk showed up with the list he had requested. A nervous young employee handed him a log of all agents who had accessed the file. There were many entries from 1965 to 1972, but there were only four after that time, all in late 1985 and early 1986. The requesting agent had been David Newcombe.
CHAPTER TWENTY Thursday, July 24, 1986 It was the day of the partnership meeting and Ryan was more nervous than he cared to admit. It was not so much his desire to become a partner than his wish to avoid the humiliation of rejection. Since leaving Alana in Middleton on Tuesday, he could think of nothing else but her. He knew he should be upset and worried about Elaine and the survival of their marriage, but his thoughts kept returning to Alana. He could still feel her body against his, the smell of her sweat and perfume, and the taste of her skin. They had both agreed that it had been a mistake, and couldn’t happen again, but Ryan knew he couldn’t let go so easily. He had never felt so alive, as though he had been asleep for the past twenty years. He had called her on Wednesday to see how she was doing, but when the answering machine picked up he thought it best not to leave a message. He arrived at the office early and tried hard to focus on work. The partners were scheduled to meet at 9:30 AM to decide his fate. As the morning dragged, Ryan found it increasingly hard to concentrate. He kept staring at the clock or looking out his window, watching the cars on the street pulsating with the rhythm of the traffic lights. By 11 AM, the tension was almost unbearable. Everybody knew that the length of the meeting was a barometer of how much controversy there was. If it had been a unanimous decision, one way or the other, they would have called for Ryan much earlier. Nobody said anything directly to Ryan but their conversations were stilted. The knot in Ryan's stomach squeezed tighter and time passed slower and slower. He knew there was a battle raging in the conference room down the hall. It was approaching noon when Ryan's secretary, Betty, finally buzzed him. “They're ready for you Mr. Butler,” she said. As he walked out of his office, Betty held up a pair of crossed fingers.
Once in the conference room, Ryan took his assigned seat at the far end of the long shinywaxed table. All eleven senior partners were there, leaning back in their plush black leather chairs, studying him. Except for Ned Heaton, they were gray-haired men in their late fifties or older, dressed in dark suits, button-down white oxford shirts, and conservative striped ties. Woodrow Duke, the head of the firm, sat at the front of the table at the opposite end from Ryan. On either side of Mr. Duke sat the other senior partners, in rows of five. The seating arrangement reflected their seniority in the office and the oldest sat closest to Mr. Duke at the head of the table. Mr. Duke sat silhouetted in front of a vast library of dark red and green legal volumes. He was a distinguished looking man in his early seventies, tall and regal, who came from a long line of Philadelphia bluebloods. He was bright, refined, and displayed a quick wit and an excellent sense of humor. Ryan liked and respected him. He could not say the same for most of the other partners Mr. Duke had turned down several offers of judgeships at both the state and federal level. Over the years, he had served on numerous civic boards and had chaired many special government committees and task forces. A few times, he had been approached to run for the United States Senate, but always refused. The law was his love, he claimed. Everybody referred to him as, ‘The Duke’. When Mr. Duke stood up, the room turned silent. “Thank you for coming Ryan,” he said, as if there was some choice involved. Mr. Duke normally had a large booming voice, but now he spoke in a subdued, fatherly tone. “I'll get right to the point, Ryan. The firm has decided not to offer you a partnership.” Ryan managed to keep his composure and show no emotion. Mr. Duke continued, “This is a painful decision, Ryan, and a particularly difficult one for me. I, and many of the other senior partners, have been very impressed with the quality of your work over the past few years. You have a fine legal mind.”
Everybody nodded in unison. “But the decision to join our firm as a partner involves more than just ability. We of course are proud of our legal acumen, but the firm is more than just an association of legal experts. It is, in a sense, a family—and as a family, it projects its own unique personality and style. Our clients understand that. They know they can get fine legal representation at any number of firms, yet they come to us. Why? Because of that intangible sense of who we are and what we represent. I choose to call it our character—but whatever it's called it has been and will continue to be the key to our success.” Mr. Duke paused. “To be absolutely blunt, Ryan, we don't believe that your personality fully meshes with the personality of our firm. This, of course, is nobody's fault and in no way suggests any failure on your part, or ours. It just a difference in personalities. It's what makes the world an interesting place—it certainly has nothing to do with right or wrong.” Mr. Duke stopped, took off his glasses and wiped them slowly. “Ryan, we honestly think you'd be happier in another firm—one without as many stuffy old cranks as we have here.” He laughed and looked around the room while everybody chuckled. “Ryan, of course you know you can stay with us as long as you desire. You understand, however, that in accordance with our by-laws you cannot be considered for partner again. For that reason, we think it is in your best interests to look elsewhere. We are, of course, prepared to assist you in finding appropriate employment in another firm.” “I understand and appreciate that,” Ryan heard himself say. “I know this is naturally a great disappointment to you and Ned here tells me you have had some serious personal problems of late. I recommend that you take some time off, perhaps a week, to think things over and plan your future. You certainly have the time coming.” Ryan liked the idea, “I appreciate that very much, but I have a trial next week.”
Mr. Duke dismissed that objection with a simple wave of his hand, “Ned has advised me that there's no problem there. We can have Mr. Cassidy cover for you. The time off will do you good. Take it!” “I will,” Ryan said. After a few words of encouragement from Mr. Duke and the other partners, Ryan was dismissed. As he left the room, Ned followed him out, putting his arm around his shoulders. “I’m sorry Ryan. I did all I could. You only lost by one vote. I hope Elaine doesn’t take this too hard.” Ryan came out to a sea of expectant faces. He just shook his head and everybody frowned or turned away. There would no toasts today. He knew that the other associates, although feigning disappointment and sympathy, were secretly pleased with the outcome. There were only so many partnerships offered, and his failure meant that the odds were now better for them. Everything seemed off to Ryan as a sense of unreality set in. He was disappointed with the decision but certainly not broken. In fact, he was relieved that it was over. He knew he could never really be happy with the firm. It wasn't what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. In fact, it all made sense now. Maybe at some unconscious level he had been purposely trying to sabotage his partnership chances. Didn't that explain his willingness to become so easily sidetracked by Rick and Alana? Maybe Elaine was right about him. The last week had been a whirlwind with so many surprises and changes; California, Wisconsin, the CIA, Elaine, Alana and now the lost partnership. His whole life was in rapid flux. He wondered if it would have turned out differently today if he had not taken all that time off during the last week; if he had never taken the exit off the Interstate and ended up in Middleton; if he had never met Alana.
He walked over to his secretary, Betty. She looked glum and disappointed. It would have been a promotion for her too, both financially and in status. “Betty, I'm going to take tomorrow off and the rest of next week. Is there anything important on my calendar that can’t be changed?” She looked up surprised. “You're scheduled for trial next week.” “Cassidy's going to take over for me; anything else?” Betty looked mortified at the mention of Cassidy’s name. Ryan knew what she was thinking; they were already grooming Cassidy to replace him. “There’s one other appointment this week that I can’t change. A man called when you were out on Tuesday. He wanted to meet with you and was very persistent. He wouldn't let me transfer him to any of the other attorneys. He said it was imperative that he meet with you personally. I told him you were preparing for a trial and would be unavailable for at least two weeks. However, he was so insistent that I squeezed him in for 10 AM on Friday. Sorry.” “You’ll just have to reschedule it or give it to somebody else.” “I can't—he wouldn't leave a return telephone number. He said he was traveling extensively and couldn't be reached.” “That's strange. What was his name?” “I have it written here on the calendar, a Mr. Mumford—Alex Mumford. He indicated he was in the United States on business from Australia.” “Australia? I have no idea who he is and why he would want to see me, but I won’t be here when he shows up.” “I guess not,” she said with a worried look.
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE Same Day Dr. Tyback checked into the motel at two in the afternoon. He had no trouble finding it, right where Newcombe had indicated, next to Interstate 94 about eight miles south of Milwaukee, near the airport. Tyback paced back and forth in the room waiting nervously for Newcombe, alias York, alias Mumford, to show. He kept telling himself that he never should have trusted Newcombe. He never should have gotten himself in this mess. If only he hadn't needed the money for his daughterâ€™s kidney transplant. He looked out the window again, towards the parking lot to see if there was any sign of Newcombe. It was past 2 PM and Newcombe was late. Over the last few days, Dr. Tyback had spent sleepless nights analyzing his situation and had come to the slow realization that Newcombe might try to kill him once he delivered the formula and the drugs. At first this had dawned on him as outside possibility, but the more he thought about it the more convinced and panicked he became. After all, he hardly knew the man, and now all this stuff about people in comas had really put him on edge. He was in an awful state, scared, tired, paranoid and confused. He reached into his jacket pocket for reassurance and felt the cold steel of the pistol against his hand, praying that he wouldnâ€™t have to use it. He had picked it up in a pawnshop only yesterday and had never fired a gun in his life. Newcombe had spent considerable time checking out the area. He wanted to find a motel, without a restaurant or lounge that was near the interstate that would cater primarily to traveling salesmen. He figured that such a motel would likely be mostly empty during the middle of the afternoon.
Newcombe parked the Lincoln Continental in front of the motel. Prior to arriving, he had stopped at an auto repair shop outside Chicago to have the window fixed, on his own dollar. Looking around the motel grounds, he was pleased to note that there were hardly any other cars in the parking lot. He got out and opened the car trunk. He pulled out a brown folder and then placed the case with the gun in the trunk, closing the lid. At the front desk, he identified himself as Alex Mumford and the clerk directed him to Dr. Tyback’s motel room. “You look different,” Tyback said opening the motel door. “Why are you wearing a disguise?” “Never mind that, you got the stuff?” It was a small room with two double beds, a bureau, a lamp and a television. The bathroom was in the back. Heavy blue drapes and green bedspreads decorated the room, and there were pictures of sailing ships on the wall. Newcombe pulled the drapes shut and switched on the lamp. The room smelled of must and cigarettes Dr. Tyback picked up a small case, placed it on the far bed and opened it. The case was fitted to hold chemical containers and on the left side were three test tubes half filled with a thin greenish liquid. The case also contained several syringes, some bandages and a medium size manila envelope. “There it is!” said Tyback “That's all?” Newcombe said. “It doesn't take much. The dosage is ten milliliters. The formula and the production instructions are inside the envelope.” Newcombe opened the envelope and pulled out the papers. It was all chemical gibberish to him and he stuffed the papers back in.
“Now's where's my money?” demanded Tyback. Newcombe handed him the folder, “Fifty-thousand in one-hundred dollar bills.” Tyback counted the money. “I’m supposed to get $500,000.” “That's just your down payment, ten percent. You'll get the rest when the deal is finalized.” “It is finalized. I was supposed to get it all when I delivered the drug. That was our agreement.” “That was the deal, but the plans have changed because of that lawyer snooping around. If you had come down to St. Barts with the drug, as originally planned, we would have collected all the money on delivery. We can't risk that now. They may be watching.” “Who would be watching?” Newcombe ignored the question. “Anyway, its better that you don't get yourself involved anymore than you already are. You’re such an amateur. Look at you—you're a mess. When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep? You stink too.” “I need my entire share now! I want to get this over with. I need the money for the operation, now!” “I want to get it over with too. I'm sorry Doc, but I don't have the money. What I’ve given you is all out of my own pocket—I haven’t seen any of the new money yet. They're not dumb enough to hand over the money without the product.” “But you think I'm dumb enough to hand over the product without the money?” Newcombe grinned. “You’ve got fifty grand. You're just going to have to trust me professor. You really don't have a choice now do you. Besides, I'm taking a big risk here too. How do I know this stuff really works? It could be colored water for all I know.” “It's the exact same formula that Dr. Waits used. I made it directly from his notes, the ones I saved. It'll work fine, I promise.”
“Maybe I should test it first. Just in case. I'm not sure I should trust you professor.” Dr. Tyback didn't like his threatening tone. “Test it on who?” Newcombe smiled, edging towards Tyback. “Oh no you don't!” said the professor as he pulled the 38 special out of his pocket and pointed it at Newcombe. His hands were shaking. “Stay where you are!” Newcombe stopped, shocked to see the gun, “Have you gone out of your mind?” “Stay back!” shouted Tyback, “Give me the rest of my money.” Newcombe shook his head. “You don’t get it, do you? You’re making a big mistake professor. If you shoot me, the game's all over—you shoot me and you’re going to jail. You have a Ph.D.; you ought to be able to figure that out. You'd be finished—just say goodbye to that transplant for that little girl of yours. Anyway, how many times do I have to tell you, I don’t have the money!” Newcombe started slowing moving towards Dr. Tyback. The professor drifted backwards, keeping his distance until he reached the far wall next to the bathroom. Newcombe stopped. He was only about three feet away. The professor continued to point the pistol at him, his hands trembling. “Now give me the gun,” Newcombe said extending an open palm towards the professor. Tyback glanced down at Newcombe’s outstretched hand, and never saw the karate kick coming. Newcombe’s foot smashed against the professor’s arm sending the pistol flying up to the ceiling. Newcombe was on him in a flash, spearing his head into Tyback's stomach, slamming him against the wall, knocking the professor’s breath away. Tyback collapsed to the ground but Newcombe pulled him up by his arms, punched him hard in the stomach, and threw him face down to the floor. Tyback struggled to breathe while Newcombe ground his foot between his shoulders keeping him pinned to the floor. Newcombe yanked the covers off the bed and ripped off a sheet. Using his
teeth, he tore off two long strips of material and used one to tie the professor’s hands behind his back. He used the other strip to gag him. He reached over and retrieved the case containing the drugs, opened one of the test tubes and poured it into the syringe until the green liquid crossed the ten-milliliter mark. He turned the professor over so that Tyback, still on the floor, was looking right up at him. Newcombe was sweating and his face was red. “You idiot!” Newcombe yelled. “I wasn’t going to hurt you! Now you’ve given me no choice. You made me do this. Do you understand! You did this to yourself.” He took the syringe and inserted the needle into Dr. Tyback's arm.
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO Same Day Ryan stayed late at the Office, tying up loose ends and meeting with Cassidy to go over the upcoming trial and the details on the Ornone Corporation file. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do next, only that he needed to get away and think things over. When he arrived back at the condominium, Elaine was sitting at the kitchen table, eating dinner while sorting work papers, her leather attaché case propped up on the tabletop. She looked up at him with a calm controlled expression. “It would have been nice if you had called me and let me know what happened. I’ve been wondering all day.” “I figured Ned would call.” “He did about three hours ago. I’m sorry Ryan. I really am. You deserved to get the partnership. It was something we both wanted for you so much!” There was a long silence and then she continued, “Ned’s worried about you and so am I. He says you’ve been acting very strangely lately. He thinks your behavior over the past two weeks cost you the partnership. Ned said you took Tuesday off and told him it had something to do with the CIA.” She frowned. “Are you OK Ryan? Is there something you want to tell me?” “Not really,” he said coldly. “Maybe there’s something you want to tell me?” She looked at him quizzically, “We’re talking about you. Tell me what happened here Ryan. What’s that mark on the wall?” She pointed to where Ryan had flung the answering machine. “Some of my perfume bottles are smashed and I see you bought a new answering machine while I was away.” “I got a special deal,” he said sarcastically. “A man called from some bank offering a free machine if I applied for a gold visa card.”
The color drained from Elaine’s face. “Only trouble was that the price was my wife. You forgot to erase the message Elaine,” his voice dripping with contempt. “Who is he?” There was a long silence while she avoided his eyes. “I’m sorry, Ryan. I didn’t want you to find out like this. His name is Matt Reynolds. He runs a management consulting firm that our company uses, Reynolds Associates.” “How long have you known him?” “It’s been about two years now.” “How long have you been screwing him?” She turned away with a look of distaste. “We’ve been intimate about six months now. We were spending a lot of time together at work and really got to know each other. Things just started to happen. Neither of us really wanted it to, we tried to stop but we couldn’t.” “Are you in love with him?” “I think so.” “Does he love you?” “He says he does.” “So what does all this mean? Are you going to marry him?” “He’s already married. So am I, remember.” “Apparently you forgot. Are you going to break it off?” “I can’t. Not now.” “Were you going to tell me about this or just keep sneaking around?” “I was going to tell you, but I wasn’t sure how. I wanted to wait until after the partnership meeting. I didn’t want anything to upset you or divert your attention from that. I wanted you to be set-up financially, as a partner with the firm, before I told you. I was thinking of you Ryan.”
“How thoughtful of you!” “I didn’t mean it like that. I didn’t want to hurt you when you’re so vulnerable!” “Well you have.” “I know and I’m sorry. But you know things haven’t been right between us. We hardly see each other and when we do, we hardly talk unless we’re arguing. You know we’ve been drifting apart—this really shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Our lives have become more and more separate. It happens to lots of people—they change—it’s nobody’s fault.” Ryan’s anger was withering, giving way to a feeling of loss and sadness. A part of him wanted to go hold Elaine, kiss her, forgive her, and cling to all they once had. Another part wanted to hurt her and push her away. “I’m going to pack up some things and leave,” he said. “I’ll get a hotel room tonight. Tomorrow, I’m heading out. I guess Ned told you that I’m taking some time off.” She nodded. “I’m not sure where I’m going but I need to get away, sort things out. You need to think about what you want Elaine.” With that, he went to the bedroom to begin packing.
By the time Ryan checked into the Sheraton Hotel in Center City Philadelphia, he had decided exactly where to go. It had been his father’s unfulfilled dream to go to Montana. Ryan’s dad had been a quiet man who always seemed to be working, either at the steel mill or on some project around the house. Outside of work, his only interests were baseball, camping and fishing. One year, his father hung a poster in the backyard workshed. It depicted a crystal blue lake dwarfed by huge snow capped mountains, framed by the words, ‘COME VISIT MONTANA’. “I’m going there someday,” his father would tell Ryan and anyone else who visited the workshed. “They say there ain’t no fishing like out there, not anywhere!”
On occasion, after his parents fought, his father would storm out of the house saying he was leaving for Montana, only to creep back home sometime in the early morning. Once he was gone for two days. He never talked about it, but the family suspected that he had started out for Montana, changed his mind, and turned around. When Ryan was a toddler, his dad bought him a baseball glove and took him outside to toss a ball. His father had been a good athlete in his youth, but had to quit high school during the Depression to work in the steel mills to support his family. He ended up working in the mills all his life. On a camping trip together, his father shared with Ryan his boyhood dream of becoming a professional baseball player. Over the years, his father transferred that dream on to Ryan. He spent countless hours trying to teach Ryan to throw a curve, a slider, a change-up and other pitches, but usually ended up frustrated by Ryan’s slow progress. That all changed in the spring of 1959. During the proceeding winter, Ryan shot up nearly six inches to just over six feet tall. At the first hint of spring, Ryan and his dad went outside to throw a baseball. His father was startled, something had changed. Ryan was throwing the ball so hard it hurt his father to catch it. Soon the high school baseball coach took notice. At age fifteen, Ryan could throw a baseball faster than anyone who had ever played for Allentown High School. It was a miraculous gift and Ryan’s life would never be the same. Both his father and his coach made it their ambition to turn Ryan into a great pitcher, and Ryan’s progress became the central focus of his father’s life. After leading his high school team to the regional Pennsylvania championship, Ryan received a full baseball scholarship to Temple University and earned All American honors in both his junior and senior years. He signed with the Chicago White Sox as their top draft choice in 1965 with a $30,000 bonus.
With the bonus money, Ryan wanted to do something special for his father, as a thank you for the years his father had coached and encouraged him. They planned a trip to Montana in the early fall, after the baseball season ended, to go camping and fishing for a week in Glacier National Park. But when September arrived, his father was receiving radiation therapy for lung cancer. He died two months later, firmly convinced that one day his son would be a major league baseball player. Several years after his father’s death, he had tried to convince Elaine to go to Montana with him, but she had no interest in hiking and camping. Her idea of a vacation was lying on the beach, shopping and eating out at nice restaurants
With the purchase of the plane ticket to Montana, Ryan’s excitement grew. He figured he could buy or rent all the equipment he needed when he got to Montana. What really appealed to him was that he would be away from everything; people, television, phones, civilization and the mess he had made of his life. It would be just him and the wilderness. He hoped that the solitude and the peace of the mountains would ground him and give him a sense of purpose and direction. Yet, there was still Alana. He had postponed calling her since their Washington trip, not sure what to expect, not sure what to say. After all, they had both agreed that nothing more could happen between them. He impulsively dialed her number. “I’m so glad you called,” Alana said in a soft comforting voice, “I’ve been thinking about you every day, hoping you were doing OK.” He told her that he was planning to be away in Montana and wouldn’t be reachable until next Saturday a week. “Montana? On business?”
He told her what had transpired with the partnership and how he would have to begin looking for a new position. He confided that he didn’t really want to be a partner but still felt rejected that he didn’t get the offer. He found himself opening up to her, telling her his feelings in ways that he had never discussed with anyone else, not even Elaine. She listened sympathetically. “You have to be true to yourself,” she said. That struck a nerve with Ryan. “Is your wife going with you?” she asked. So he told her about what had happened with Elaine. “I’m really sorry Ryan. I hope it didn’t have anything to do with me. You didn’t tell her about us did you?” “No, it has nothing to do with you—we’ve just been growing apart—that’s all. Neither of us wanted to admit it.” Then he screwed up his courage, “Would you come with me, Alana? It wouldn’t have to be Montana; we could go anywhere you want. I can’t help it; I really need to see you again. I can’t stop thinking about you.” “Please don’t Ryan. I’d like to go, I really would, but you know I can’t. I couldn’t do that to Rick. God knows everything is a nightmare here. I’m going to have to put the house up for sale and look for a job. There’s not much here in Middleton, so I’ve been thinking about Baltimore— maybe getting an apartment there. I’d go back to Atlanta but I don’t want to be that far from Rick and the hospital. I really don’t know what to do, but as much as I’d like to, I can’t go with you.” “I thought I’d ask,” Ryan said disappointed but not surprised. “In another time, another place, I would go with you in a minute,” she offered sweetly. “I can’t tell you how good it is to hear you say that.” “Thank you for asking Ryan. Please be careful. Call me when you get back.”
â€œI will,â€? he said, reluctantly hanging up the phone, wishing to keep the conversation going just to hear her voice.
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE Thursday, July 24 - Friday, July 25, 1986 After leaving Milwaukee, Newcombe headed for Philadelphia. He drove straight through, checking into a hotel just outside of the city. Before leaving St. Barts, he had conducted some research on Mr. Butler and during the drive, worked out the final details of his plan. He would tell Butler that he was representing the interests of a large Australian chemical manufacturing company that planned to expand operations to the United States. They were looking at possible plant sites in Arizona and New Mexico. They needed someone on their legal staff who was knowledgeable regarding environmental laws and regulations in the United States. Ryanâ€™s name had appeared on a short list of possible attorneys suggested by a headhunting agency that his company had contracted with in the United States. The headhunting agency wished to remain anonymous. His company was looking for someone like Ryan who had experience on both sides of the fence, enforcing environmental laws and defending companies against lawsuits. Someone who could guide the company, letting them know where the law was clear and where there was wiggle room. He would tell Mr. Butler that they were prepared to make a very generous offer if he were interested. He had brought with him phony business cards and phony letterhead from the fictional Australian Company. The next step would be to invite Mr. Butler to dinner, hopefully that evening or the next, to discuss the position. Newcombe would offer to pick him up in his car, or figure some other way to get him into his vehicle. Once in the car he was as good as dead. Newcombe would abduct him, find out what he knew, and kill him. He decided he would do it execution style, make it look like a mob hit and dump his body in the Delaware River. That would certainly keep law enforcement off track for a while. Not that it really mattered, he would be long gone by then, back in St. Barts with
no way to trace anything back to him. All the leads would point to Mr. Alexander Mumford, a total fabrication. The next morning, he got up, put on a dark suit and headed for downtown Philadelphia. The first thing he did was stop at a center city bank. He tried out his Australian accent on the teller, a young Italian girl with an olive complexion. “Are you English?” she asked, hearing his accent. “No, I’m from down under,” he said giving her his best smile. “Down where?” “Australia” “Oh there,” she giggled. “Anyway, I need a cashiers check for $50,000,” he said and handed her a large brown folder. Her faced blanched when she opened the envelope and counted 500 one hundred dollars bills. She called the manager over who invited Newcombe into an interior office. After much paperwork, and the display of various fake identification cards in the name of Alexander Mumford, the manager took his money and issued him a cashier's check for $50,000. Newcombe turned his charm on for the manager who confessed that she always wanted to go to Australia. He invited her to look him up if she ever got to Sydney. She blushed and said she would. The manager advised him that a cash transaction this large would be reported to the IRS, but Newcombe didn't mind. He wasn't laundering money and, again, they would never be able to trace the cash back to him, only to a Mr. Mumford, who never really existed. He made the check payable to the Julie Tyback Kidney Transplant Fund and scrawled a note to go with the check, “I hope this helps you get your transplant; from an anonymous well-wisher.” He felt good after that. Upon mailing the check and envelope to Wisconsin, he headed over to the offices of Duke and Associates for his appointment with Mr. Butler.
“I'm sorry Mr. Mumford,” said Betty, “but Mr. Butler had to leave town unexpectedly.” “But I had an appointment with him,” a stunned Newcombe complained, “I just made the appointment on Tuesday. I've driven halfway across the country.” “I'm sorry sir. We tried to get in touch with you to reschedule but we didn't have a telephone number. I'm sure one of our other attorneys would be pleased to assist you.” “I only want to speak with Butler. It’s imperative that I see him. Where is he?” Betty was taken back by his assertiveness. “Well sir, I believe he's in Montana.” “Montana? When did he leave?” “Yesterday.” “Where he can be reached out there?” “I'm afraid he can't be reached sir. He left for a spur of the moment vacation. We really don't know how to get in contact with him. He's gone backpacking somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.” “When will he be back?” “A week from next Monday—would you like to try to reschedule an appointment for then?” “Hell no!” Newcombe shouted to the secretary and stormed out of the office. He couldn't believe it. He had set this up so carefully. He had made sure that Butler would be in the office. Now Butler was gone for at least a week. Then it hit him. He realized it didn't matter. If Mr. Butler was going to be gone for that long then he couldn't possibly create any more problems. In a week or so, the deal with the Cubans would be completed and he’d be back in St. Barts and five million dollars richer. Once he had the money, nobody would be able to find him. “You're one lucky son of bitch Mr. Butler, whoever you are,” he said under his breath as he stepped out onto the city street.
He still had one thing to take care of. He went back to the parking garage to retrieve his car. He paid his five bucks and waited for the attendant to bring it around. In a few minutes, the Continental pulled up beside him and the attendant held the door open. He was a frail white haired man with bad teeth. Newcombe handed the old man a twenty-dollar bill as a tip. “It's all yours, pops, if you can tell me the fastest way to get to Interstate 95 from here, heading south to Maryland.” The attendant stared at the bill, “Where in Maryland ya going?” “A small town called Middleton, close to Baltimore.”
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR Friday, July 25, 1986 – Friday, August 1, 1986 After landing in Great Falls, Montana, Ryan rented a car and headed for a sporting and outfitting store to get the gear he would need; a backpack, small tent, sleeping bag, hiking boots, propane stove, freeze-dried food, and other supplies. His plan was to hike into the Bob Marshall Wilderness area south of Glacier National Park, to location known as, ‘The Chinese Wall’, a huge mountain escarpment on the continental divide. He would follow a well-known trail to the wall and back. Although out of shape, he would do the best he could. If he couldn’t make it all the way to the wall, he could turn back at any time. He drove the rental to the trailhead for the Bob Marshall Wilderness area, about sixty miles west of Great Falls, at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. From there he could see the snow pack still covering the top of the mountains in the distance. He registered at the ranger station and picked up trail maps. The rangers were skeptical given his inexperience backpacking and tried to talk him out the journey, but Ryan wouldn’t be swayed. He was tired of other people telling him what to do. The first day he hiked for a couple of hours and then set up camp. The beginning of the trail was relatively flat and easy to cover, through dense forests and across small creeks. As the sun set the temperature dropped, so he wrapped himself in his sleeping bag and for the first time in a long time, slept solid through the night. Dawn brought a glorious day, clear blue sky with wisps of white clouds. He took a deep breath. The air was clean, dry and sharp, so different from the smog and heavy humidity of the city. A hawk circled above him, rising effortlessly with the wind currents. It’s a different world here, he
thought, playing out its ageless patterns of life and death, oblivious to man. It made his everyday life seem small and trivial. As the days passed, the trail became more difficult as it increased in elevation and rockiness, but his stamina and energy also grew. He was determined to go at least far enough to catch a glimpse of the Chinese Wall. He hiked through thick forests of Douglas Firs and Ponderosa Pines, and then across open flowering meadows with pockets of melting snow. He crossed rushing mountain streams and circled small lakes, their still waters reflecting the mountains above. All the while, he thought about his life, his work, Elaine and Alana. He hoped that this time for reflection would provide guidance about his future, but instead he found himself focusing more and more on the past.
Ryan thought about the first time he had met Elaine at a party in Philadelphia. She was a junior at Bryn Mawr College, extremely lovely with long dark black hair, high cheekbones, and clear blue eyes. She was dressed casually chic and oozed money and confidence. Ryan would never have approached her by himself, she was too cool and aloof, but a mutual friend introduced them telling her what a great athlete Ryan was. She surprised him with immediate interest and a bright smile. His friend had told him that she had a thing for athletes. Later, when they were dating, he remembered seeing her in the baseball stands with her girlfriends, waving to him as he took the field to pitch, and waiting for him outside the stadium after the game, her face brightening when he approached. He thought about the first time they made love, hot and breathless, in the back of her daddyâ€™s Bentley, parked somewhere in the woods. Ryan recalled how intimidated he was arriving at her house for their first date. He drove his used Ford Fairlane past a gated entrance, up a long curved driveway through a meticulously maintained landscape of trees, plants, and flowers, and ended up in front of a huge castle-like
mansion. He knocked on the large carved-wood door bordered by stained glass windows, with a sinking felling that he was totally out of his league. Quite a contrast from the modest two-story house where he had grown up in Allentown, on a hill overlooking gray steel mills and the muddy waters of the Lehigh River. Elaine’s father, a prominent Philadelphia lawyer and political insider, had not really approved of Ryan. He didn’t think he had the proper upbringing for his little girl, but was willing to suspend judgment given Ryan’s athletic talents. “Let me introduce you to Elaine’s boyfriend,” he would say at parties, one hand holding a martini and the other wrapped around Ryan’s shoulders. “You know Ryan here is an All American baseball player at Temple. All the pro teams are after him. He’s going to be a major league star some day, mark my word.” His tune changed quickly after the accident. After graduation in 1965, the Chicago White Sox signed Ryan and shipped him off to their Class A Sarasota farm team, bypassing the rookie leagues. He quickly became the ace of the Florida League, leading in wins and strikeouts and calling Elaine every day, talking for hours, and running up huge telephone bills. By the end of summer, they were engaged. The following year Ryan was promoted to Double A ball with the Evansville Indiana team in the Southern League while Elaine took summer courses at Bryn Mawr so she could graduate in the Fall. He missed her terribly. Ryan was having a great season with Evansville, 8 wins, 2 losses, and leading the league in strikeouts. He had become a minor league phenomenon and attendance was up wherever he pitched. He pitched his last game on the afternoon of August 7, 1966, a Sunday away game against the Columbus Yankees. It was a hot humid day and everything was working for him; his fastball was humming in the upper nineties and his curveball was breaking sharp and dropping. He
completed a three-hit shutout and set a team record by striking out sixteen batters. Rick Shannon also had a good night with two hits including a rare home run. After the game as the players were dressing, they got word that the manager wanted to see both of them. When they arrived in his small corner office, he was reading some papers and shaking his head. His expression led them to believe that they were in trouble. “Bad news boys,” he said, not looking up, “I don’t think the front office is ever going to let me win a league championship down here—real bad news for the team.” Ryan and Rick gave each other a questioning look. “Of course it’s good news for you two,” he added looking up at them with a smile. “I got a call from the front office—they’re sending both of you up to Triple A with the Indianapolis team. Congratulations!” “Both of us?” said Rick wanting to make sure he heard him right. “Both of you! You’ll need to pick up a rental car tomorrow morning, drive back to Evansville—get any stuff you need and then head directly to Oklahoma City. The team’s there for a four game series. We’ll get you all the details tomorrow.” Ryan could hardly contain his excitement. He had been expecting to be promoted soon, but having Rick go with him was a quite a surprise. “One other thing Ryan,” the coach said. “The front office said that if you pitch half as good for Indianapolis as you did for us, they’ll be calling you up to the big leagues in September when the White Sox expand their roster.” Ryan couldn’t believe it. If he pitched well for Indianapolis, he would be in the big leagues before the end of the summer. He couldn’t wait to tell Elaine and his parents.
“I’m gonna miss you two boys. It’s been a pleasure knowing both of you.” The manager stood up to shake their hands. “By the way, I’m suspending curfew for you two guys tonight, go out and celebrate, just don’t drink too much and don’t get into any trouble.” “We won’t,” they promised in unison. On the way out, the manager took Ryan aside, “I just want you to know that you’re the best damned lefty I’ve ever coached. Someday I’m going to tell my grandchildren that I managed Ryan Butler. Good luck, son.” They immediately called their parents and girlfriends and then headed out with a bunch of teammates to celebrate. They all walked down to a popular bar across from the stadium in Columbus that was a hangout for both baseball fans and Ohio State students. The bar was crowded but they managed to commandeer a large table in the corner and order several pitchers of beer. A little before ten the other players left to get back to the motel before curfew, leaving Ryan and Rick alone to finish off the beer. In a short while, the entire bar started to empty, leaving only a few guys playing pool, a handful of old men on barstools, and a couple of guys and girls at a far table drinking beer and laughing. Ryan and Rick finished their beer and were ready to go when the bartender appeared with another pitcher. “We didn’t order that,” Rick said, but the bartender just pointed to the two girls now alone at the far table across the room. One was a short blonde, slightly on the plump side. The other was a taller, prettier brunette with a cute smile. They both looked older than Ryan and Rick, maybe in their late twenties. They waved and Rick went over and invited them to sit with them. “I know who you are,” said the brunette coquettishly as she came over and sat by Ryan. “You’re that hot shot pitcher that everybody’s talking about, right?’ Ryan nodded shyly.
“How come you guys don’t have curfew like the other players?” the blonde asked. Rick told them all about the promotion and said that Ryan would be in the majors by the end of the summer. They were impressed. They drank some more beer, talked and laughed and the girls moved closer. Ryan was not all that enthused with the brunette, but Rick seemed very interested in the blonde. Ryan looked at his watch, “We better walk back to the motel—we’ve got to get on the road early tomorrow.” “So soon?” said the brunette. “Why don’t you let us give you a ride?” She said it very suggestively. “My boyfriend’s out of town and he’s letting me drive his corvette.” That’s all they needed to hear. Soon they were outside, both Rick and Ryan walking around the car, admiring it. “Want to take it for a test drive?” the brunette said throwing Ryan the keys. Rick squeezed into the tiny back seat with the blonde and Ryan took the wheel. Ryan had a nice buzz on from the beer as they headed out to the highway to see how the car would handle on the open road. The top was off the corvette and they went roaring down the road with the summer wind blowing in their faces. Ryan had it up to seventy miles per hour when he looked in the rear mirror. The blonde was wrapped around Rick in the back. The brunette turned to Ryan, “Mind if I get closer?” She climbed next to him, straddling the gearshift. “Want to downshift?” she said seductively. Ryan placed his hand on the gearshift knob and she squeezed her thighs around his hand until he could feel the fabric of her panties against his wrist. She reached over and softly bit his earlobe. Ryan turned to look at her and she thrust her mouth against his, darting her tongue into his mouth. Suddenly he felt the rough vibration of the tires drifting onto the shoulder. He yanked the steering wheel to the left, too fast, jamming on the brakes. The back of the car started to skid to the
right, and Ryan jerked the steering wheel the other way. It was too late; the car was out of control, veering sideways across the highway. He saw the telegraph pole approaching, as if in slow motion. It seemed to take an eternity before he heard the awful crunch of metal, the sound of breaking glass, and the screams. The rest was all a hazy nightmare. He felt the awful impact of the car door as it crashed into his left arm and the throbbing stab of the steering wheel pinned against his chest. He remembered seeing the blonde flying forward from the back seat, her head exploding into the front windshield, and then bouncing back in a blur of red. He sat there for what seemed forever, imprisoned in the car, unable to move. He vaguely remembered seeing unfocused faces in uniforms, lights flashing on an off, and the screeching sound of metal being cut. He vividly remembered the antiseptic smell of the ambulance and faces hovering over him, telling him to be quiet. It wasn’t until about a week later that he learned that the blonde had died instantly. The brunette had suffered cuts and some internal bleeding but was going to recover. Part of Rick’s hip had been crushed, ending his baseball career, and leaving him with a slight limp. Ryan’s diagnosis was less certain. He had broken his pitching arm, fractured his collarbone and crushed several ribs. There would be several surgeries and endless physical therapy. It wasn’t until six months later that he tried to throw a baseball again, but it hurt awful. Over the next four months, he worked every day on his pitching, but the velocity was gone. The best he could muster was about seventy-five miles per hour, and the pain was persistent. The White Sox released him the following spring. Elaine stood by him. She was hurt and angry but resisted her father’s calls to end the engagement. “He’s not worthy of you,” he repeatedly told her. In rare defiance of her father, she would not relent. They were married the following summer in an extravagant wedding at an exclusive hotel in Philadelphia. Her father remained cordial but distant.
No charges were filed and Ryan went on to Temple Law School, clerked for a judge, and then joined the Pennsylvania Attorney Generalâ€™s staff as a prosecutor in their Philadelphia Office. Elaine went on to graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, earned an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, and connected with a prestigious public relations firm in Philadelphia. Nine years later, she was promoted to vice-president.
After three days of hiking, Ryan finally reached sight of the Chinese Wall. It was an imposing nine thousand foot curtain of gray rock stretching for miles in both direction and blocking out the afternoon sun to the west. He was tired and drained, but elated that he had made it so close. Having come this far he felt a profound sense of accomplishment and peace, a feeling he never experienced in his working career. On the way back, he hiked faster, anxious to get back to civilization. He passed mountain goats and big horn sheep and stumbled upon a family of black bears foraging in a meadow. He quietly backpedaled and took another route. At night, he was serenaded by the steady drone of crickets and an occasional rising and falling chorus of frogs. He encountered only a few other people during the trip; some backpackers, several groups on horseback, and anglers on the streams closer to the trailhead. He arrived back at his rental car the following Friday, exhausted, dirty, and willing to pay any price for a shower and a clean soft bed. He felt more confident and relaxed, but still had no idea what he was going to do with the rest of his life. He had thought a lot about Elaine and whether there was any chance of starting over. Maybe they could go to marriage counseling, try to regain the passion and affection they had lost. More than anything, however, he had thought about Alana, replaying their lovemaking over and over in his mind, and desperately longing to see her.
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE Saturday, August 2, 1986 Ryan arrived back at the Philadelphia condominium not knowing what to expect. As soon as he opened the door, he knew his life would never be the same. The living room was almost bare; most of the furniture, paintings, and decorations were gone. On the kitchen counter was an envelope with his name on it. He opened and read: Ryan: As you can see, I have moved out. I’m renting an apartment on Locust Street. I’ve given a lot of thought to this decision and believe with all my heart that it is the right thing to do. I have hired a divorce attorney, James Borne, and we have drawn up the enclosed proposed property settlement. It divides our assets fifty/fifty except that you keep the Mercedes and I keep the household furnishings, jewelry and silverware. I am sure you will recognize that this is a very generous offer since I contributed most of the assets to our marriage. Please look it over and let me know if you have objections. You can stay in the condominium until everything is finalized. I hope we can settle this in a cordial and friendly manner. I know this is very painful for you, as it is for me. I will always value all that we shared together over the years, but now it’s time for you and I to move on. It’s become clear that we both want different things out of life. I wish you only the best. Elaine Ryan crumpled the letter into a ball and tossed it across the room. He didn’t bother to look at the proposed settlement. He walked to their bedroom, into Elaine’s closet. It was barren without her clothes and shoes. The reality of her leaving set in with a numbing finality. He unpacked methodically and then went into the living room, sat down on the lone sofa, and stared at the empty wall where the Monet print used to hang. At least she had been kind enough to leave the television in the living room.
There were about ten calls on the new answering machine and he listened to them all, his secretary, a couple of friends calling to console him about the partnership, and several telemarketers. There was also a call from Officer DeNardo on Wednesday and a call from Dr. Steinberg on Thursday. He decided to call Dr. Steinberg first. The hospital put him on a hold for a long time until he finally heard Dr. Steinberg's voice on the phone. “Thanks for calling back,” Steinberg said. “I wanted to let you know that I followed your suggestions and called the number you gave me for Dr. Tyback, but I guess you’ve heard the news.” “What news?” “You don’t know? “No.” “He’s dead. Committed suicide.” “Suicide?” Ryan repeated in disbelief. “When?” “About a week ago. The woman I spoke with said he shot himself through the head with a pistol he purchased from a local pawnshop. They found him in a hotel room with a suicide note. Apparently, he was despondent about his daughter. She was very ill and he was trying to raise money for a kidney transplant. Everyone who knew him was shocked.” “I can’t believe it,” Ryan said slowly as the news sunk in, “he seemed perfectly fine when I met him.” “It’s certainly a terrible tragedy,” said Steinberg. Ryan said nothing, still trying to make sense of it. “I'm sorry to be the one to break the bad news to you. However, I did want to share with you the main reason I called. I spoke to my friend at Johns Hopkins—a neurosurgeon—about the neurotransmitters in the brain—the stuff that Dr. Tyback told you. It apparently made some sense
to her and she suggested we run some specialized blood tests on Rick. We did and discovered he has abnormally high levels of a certain neurotransmitter, serotonin, in his bloodstream plus some other compounds that we are still analyzing. She suggested that we inject Rick with adrenaline to see if that might lower the serotonin levels. It’s certainly a long shot but she thinks it has an outside chance of shocking Mr. Shannon out the coma. I thought it was worth a try.” Ryan was only half listening, still thinking about Dr. Tyback. “We were going to transfer him over to Johns Hopkins for the treatment. The problem is that this is very experimental and there may be unknown risks involved, so we need to get informed consent from the family.” “What did Alana say?” There was a long hesitation. “Don’t you know?” “Know what?” “She’s gone. She disappeared about a week ago. Nobody knows where she is. I thought Officer DeNardo would have told you by now.” Ryan felt faint, the room was spinning. “I’ve got to go,” he said abruptly. “Thanks for calling—I’ll get back to you.” He hung up and immediately dialed Officer DeNardo. DeNardo had the day off and the man at the switchboard wouldn’t release his home telephone number. Ryan persisted and finally the man agreed to call DeNardo at home and tell him that Ryan was desperately trying to contact him. About five long minutes later DeNardo called. “What’s happened to Alana?” Ryan asked, his voice sounding desperate. “We don’t know. Nobody’s seen her since last Saturday. She usually comes to the hospital every day to see Rick but she suddenly stopped showing last Sunday. I called her a few times but there was no answer. Finally, I drove out to her house on Tuesday. Nobody was there but her car
was still parked in the driveway. That’s when I called you—I thought maybe you’d know where she was.” “I was out in Montana.” “Yeah, I tracked down your secretary at work and she told me you were out there. By Wednesday, I was really getting worried and obtained a warrant from the judge to enter her house. I was afraid something might have happened to her in there, but there were no signs of her or any foul play when we got in—strange though—the television was still on in the bedroom.” Ryan’s mind was running in circles. “She’s probably O.K.,” DeNardo said, as if trying to reassure himself. “Probably went off to visit a friend. Doesn’t seem like her though, to leave and not tell anyone. I went ahead and reported her missing. We’re also trying to track down her parents, but haven’t had any luck tracing them.” “Something’s very wrong!” Ryan said mostly to himself. “I can feel it.” “Yeah, me too,” said DeNardo. Ryan hung up stunned. He paced back and forth across the living room, trying to think of what he could do, but couldn’t think of anything. He felt frustrated and helpless. A giant knot gnawed at his stomach as he wondered if she was still alive. Too many strange things were happening. He tried vainly to divert his attention. He perused the mail that had piled up while he had been gone and tried catching up on the old newspapers, but he couldn’t get his mind off of Alana. It seemed as though his whole world was unraveling. After a while, he realized that he had hardly eaten anything all day. He wasn’t hungry but knew he needed some nourishment. The refrigerator was empty so he called and ordered pizza delivery. He turned on the television and found the Phillies game but couldn’t pay attention. He wondered if there was any connection between Dr. Tyback’s suicide and Alana’s disappearance. There couldn’t be, could there? He thought about
driving down to Middleton, just to be there, but didn’t know what that would accomplish. He couldn’t shake his growing sense of apprehension. The doorbell rang. Ryan swung open the door expecting the pizza delivery, but jumped back when he saw two men standing there holding up wallets with badges. “FBI!” one said, “can we come in?” Ryan looked over their identification and let them in. Both men were dressed in dark suits. The shorter of the two looked to be in his late fifties while the other appeared to be in his midtwenties. They both had that serious no-nonsense FBI demeanor that Ryan had come to know during his days with the Attorney General. The older of the two spoke first. “Sorry to bother you Mr. Butler. I’m Field Agent Harris and this is Field Agent Perry. We’d like you to come with us to answer some questions. It should only take a couple of hours. We’re requesting your voluntary cooperation.” “Now?” “Right now!” snapped the younger one, not making it sound voluntary at all. “What’s this about?” “That’s not our business,” said the older agent, “we just have orders to pick you up and bring you down to be interviewed—it’s part of an investigation. We’ve been waiting for you to return from Montana.” Ryan wondered how they knew he had been in Montana. “What kind of an investigation?” “We’re not at liberty to say, Mr. Butler. They’ll explain everything when you get there.” “Who will?” “They will” “What if I don’t want to go?”
“Then we’ve been authorized to place you under arrest and escort you,” the younger one said, clearing relishing his authority. “Arrested for what? “For violations of National Security laws,” the older agent said. “But that won’t be necessary will it?” “National Security? That’s ridiculous!” He asked more questions but it was clear that the agents didn’t know or weren’t going to tell him what the specifics were. Finally, he relented and agreed to go with them, hoping it might shed light on the evening’s revelations. The agents waited while he changed clothes and then they all got into the unmarked black Ford double-parked in front of the condo entrance. Ryan got in the back seat and the Ford spun away towards the Delaware river and quickly down the ramp onto the Interstate 95 Expressway heading south away from the city. Ryan became immediately alarmed. “Hey, this isn’t the way to the Federal building!”
CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX Same Day Ryan and the FBI agents continued driving south on the Interstate, past the airport and beyond the oil refineries lighting up the night sky with yellow gaseous flames. All the while, Ryan questioned the agents about where they were heading. “We’ll be there soon,” is all they would say. Ryan suspected that they weren’t really with the FBI. They turned off the interstate near the ‘Chester’ exit and weaved their way through a rundown industrial area with dilapidated factories and warehouses. Finally, they parked in front of twostory clapboard house with vacant lots on either side. Across from the house was an abandoned auto repair shop surrounded by the rusted remains of a chain link fence. Ryan waited in the back seat as the two FBI agents got out and opened the door for him. The agents walked close on either side of him, as they made their way to the front door of the house. The front door opened and a large bulky man wearing a white shirt, dark tie, and revolver holster met them. It looked like somebody’s living room; there was a green sofa and loveseat, two end tables with yellow lamps, and a cocktail table in front of the sofa. Over the sofa, a huge goldframed mirror hung. There were bedrooms in the back and to the right stairs leading up to the second floor. “Help yourself to some coffee,” the bulky man said to the two agents as they disappeared into the kitchen. “You, upstairs!” the man said pointing at Ryan and to the staircase. Ryan ascended the stairs expecting to come out onto a hallway, but instead a large metal door blocked the entire upper floor. The bulky man, followed him up the stairs, entered a code on a keypad by the stairway wall, and the metal door swung open.
The bulky man stayed behind as Ryan walked into a huge open room that looked like it encompassed the entire second floor. The big metal door closed behind him. Inside there were several small tables with chairs, all types of electronic recording equipment, monitors and cameras. The back of the room was smoked glass with a single closed doorway on one side. He wondered if anybody was behind the smoked glass. There were no pictures on the wall, no FBI seal, and no American flag. Ryan was surprised and relieved when he saw Agent Girard approach him, the same man who had interviewed him and Alana at the CIA offices in Washington. “So we meet again,” Agent Girard said making no attempt to shake hands. “Have a seat!” he said pointing to an empty chair towards the middle of the room. “What the hell is this all about?” Ryan demanded still standing. “I thought I was meeting with the FBI, not the CIA. I haven’t broken any national security laws!” Slowly, another man stepped forward from the corner of the room. He was short and stocky with a dark complexion and a crew cut. He reminded Ryan of a Marine drill sergeant with a chip on his shoulder. “Just sit down and shut up!” the man barked. “This is Agent Wolaski,” Girard said, “he will be assisting in the questioning.” Wolaski didn’t waste any time, “We believe you are involved in a plot to sell U.S. government secrets to a foreign power. What we are trying to establish now is whether you are a knowing accomplice or an unwitting dupe.” “That’s absurd!” Ryan said, shouting, “I know nothing about any such thing.” “That’s what we’re here to find out,” Girard interjected. “We are going to ask you some questions,” Wolaski continued, “and we want you to answer completely and honestly. If you cooperate fully, you should be out of here in a couple of hours. If
not, you could be here for a couple of days or even weeks. This place is set up for extended stays— understood!” “You can’t hold me against my will—I’m an attorney. I know my rights!” Wolaski smirked. “Your legal niceties don’t carry any weight here. We aren’t talking about some nickel and dime domestic crime. We’re talking about the security and national interests of the United States of America. Here you play by our rules—now let’s get down to business—sit down!” Ryan sat down slowly and defiantly while the two agents remained standing, pacing back and forth in front of him. “What do you know about this man?” Girard asked handing Ryan a black and white photograph. Ryan examined the photograph. “It looks like the same man as in the sketch I gave you when I was in Washington, the California suspect. Except his hair looks different and no mustache.” Wolaski spoke. “The man in the picture is a CIA agent who disappeared several months ago. His name is David Newcombe. We think he may have something to do with the two people in comas that you brought to our attention. Have you ever heard the name David Newcombe before?” “No. I’ve already told you everything I know about this man—which is nothing!” Girard handed Ryan another photograph, this one in color. “Tell me everything you know about this woman.” Ryan was shocked. It was a picture of Alana, except that her hair was red and she looked much younger. “How did you get this picture?” Ryan asked, confused. “Do you know where she is?”
“Yes, we know where she is. Right now she’s shacked up with David Newcombe on a small island in the Caribbean,” Wolaski said, waiting for Ryan’s reaction. “What island? Is she all right? What do you mean shacked up?” Girard stood directly in front of Ryan. “We have reason to believe that David Newcombe and Alana Shannon are lovers and co-conspirators in the plot to sell government secrets.” Ryan couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Impossible!” he shouted. “She has nothing to do with this. I showed her the sketch of the suspect. She’s never seen the man!” Ryan stood up agitated and angry. “Of course that’s what she would tell you,” Girard said, “don’t you think it’s a little strange that her husband’s in a coma?” “Look, I know she’s innocent—you guys are crazy. What in the world makes you think that Alana has anything to do with this?” “Sit down Mr. Butler,” Wolaski ordered again. “After your meeting with us in Washington we weren’t sure of what to make of your story. So we put both you and Mrs. Shannon under surveillance.” “You were watching me?” “Until you left for Montana. Our agents lost track of you there, but we knew you were scheduled to be back in Philadelphia today.” “Why were you following me? What did you expect to find?” “Not sure. It was just a precaution in case something showed up. As it turned out, it was a waste of time for you but it paid an unexpected dividend with Mrs. Shannon.” “What do you mean?” “We were watching Mrs. Shannon's house last Sunday, using a telescopic lens, when a black Lincoln Continental pulled up outside her house. A tall long-haired man got out and entered the
house. He appeared to open the door with a key. About forty-five minutes later both he and the woman left the house and got into the car together. Our agents followed them to BaltimoreWashington International Airport. The man dropped Mrs. Shannon off at the airport entrance while he returned the car to a rental agency. The woman bought two one-way tickets to St. Martin and then on to island of St. Barts. She paid in cash. Shortly afterwards, the man joined her and they had a drink together in the airport lounge. We called in additional agents and it wasn't until that point that one of our agents recognized and identified the man as our renegade agent, David Newcombe—you've seen the picture.” “He must have somehow forced her.” “I'm afraid not. There was no indication whatsoever of coercion. The woman bought the plane tickets on her own. She had numerous opportunities to get away, if she wanted to. If we thought she were in any kind of danger we would have moved in and apprehended Newcombe immediately. There was absolutely no indication of force.” Ryan felt faint. None of this made sense to him. Not Alana. “Why didn’t you stop them at the airport?” Girard shot a glance at Wolaski. “We have our reasons. Now I want you to tell us everything you know about Alana Shannon. Every conversation you ever had, word for word. Everything anybody else ever told you about her.” Resigned, Ryan told them everything he could remember: their conversation at the hospital; their conversation on the drive down and back to Washington; their telephone calls. He told them what Officer DeNardo and Nancy Shannon had said about her. The only thing he held back was his feelings for her and the evening they made love. Time passed gruelingly slow. Girard made him go over every conversation word by word. Ryan kept protesting that he had already told them everything but Girard kept pressing, asking him
the same questions again and again with Ryan giving the same answers over and over. Wolaski stayed quiet, just listening. Two hours went by and Ryan began to feel weak and exhausted. “Can I get some food?” Ryan asked, “I haven’t had anything to eat for hours.” “You’ll eat when you begin cooperating,” Wolaski suddenly shouted. “Are you absolutely sure you’re telling us everything?” “Yes!” “I don’t think you’re being completely honest with us,” Wolaski replied, “We could be here an awful long time if you continue to be uncooperative.” “I’m not being uncooperative! I’ve told you everything I can remember.” “Then how about the hours you spent in her house after you took her back home from Washington? We were tailing you, remember.” Ryan realized that he had been caught. “Our report indicates that you got to her house at 6:13 PM and yet you didn’t leave until 11:14 PM. What were you doing all that time Mr. Butler? Having tea and crumpets? Or were you fucking her?” Ryan wanted to reach over and punch Wolaski’s smug face. How dare they follow him and talk like that. He felt his muscles harden. “It’s none of your goddam business!” he yelled. “So you were fucking her!” Wolaski said with a knowing smirk. “I’ll bet she’s great in bed with all her experience.” Ryan knew they were trying to goad him but he took the bait anyway. “What experience? What are you talking about?” “It’s been interesting hearing you talk about how sweet and innocent poor Alana is. How tragically upset she is by what happened to Mr. Shannon. All the while, she’s in bed with you while her husband’s lying unconscious in the hospital. What’s wrong with that picture Mr. Butler?”
“You don’t understand. It wasn’t like that.” “So you admit it. You were fucking her,” Wolaski said, his jaw jutting out. “I don’t have to discuss this with you, it’s between me and her and it’s none of your goddam business.” “It certainly is our business when it involves the security of the United States. She really has you snookered,” Wolaski said sneering. “You’re certainly not the first man to fall for a beautiful conniving woman. There are a few million ahead of you. Sex is an awful powerful force—we see it all the time in our business—honey traps and other set-ups.” For the first time this evening, doubts were starting to shake Ryan’s confidence. Could what they were saying possibly be true? “We’ve done a lot of research on sweet little Alana Shannon and you might be surprised at what we learned. About ten years ago, she was relatively well known in the Los Angeles area and had a certain national following, if that’s the word for it. She went by the name of Rebecca Blaze. Ever hear of her?” “No.” Ryan said sullenly. “She worked strip clubs and did nude modeling—appeared in a lot of men’s magazines.” Wolaski reached into a briefcase by his side, pulled out some magazines, and shoved them towards Ryan. “Quite a nice body,” Wolaski said, “Can’t say I blame you for falling for that stuff.” Ryan looked at the magazines, names like Penthouse and Hustler. She was there on the pages, red hair and about ten years younger. On one page, she was sitting naked spreading her legs and pouting her lips. On other pages, she was bent over on her knees, her tongue out the side of her mouth with a come-on look. In another she was cupping her breasts provocatively
and smiling at the camera. Ryan recognized some of the expressions from their time in bed together. He put the magazines down, feeling sick. “She also did a few films—not hardcore—simulated sex. She was a pretty popular model and was making some serious money. She was also mixed up in the LA drug scene. She was living with Mario Velanci, a big drug kingpin in Southern California in the seventies. She was one of several young women that Velanci kept around and people who remember her say she had quite an appetite for cocaine. Velanci was busted in 1979 and shortly after that Rebecca Blaze disappeared. There was a warrant issued for her arrest as a person of interest. Nobody could find any trace of her. What she was doing all those years, we don’t know, but our agents are working on it now—I’m sure it’s not going to be pretty.” Ryan sat quiet and defeated. He believed now that it all must be true. How could he have been so naïve to think that a woman like her would fall for middle-aged men like him and Rick Shannon? He felt like an absolute fool. Nancy Shannon was right; men are blind when it comes to a pretty face and sex. Wolaski’s face relaxed and he smiled for the first time. “Don’t take it so hard, you’re not alone. She obviously fooled Rick Shannon and that inept police officer, DeNardo. She even fooled us when she came to that interview in Washington. Now you see why it’s so important that you tell us everything.” So Ryan told them about the evening they had sex. It was difficult and embarrassing to talk about it but he told them all. When he was finished, Girard spoke. “The lady’s quite an accomplished actress and she played you like a fiddle. She used you to find out information and then passed it on to Newcombe. It was you who alerted her to the fact that the police were looking for him in California. It was you who informed her that the CIA had taken over the investigation in
Sonoma. You even brought her to our offices in Washington where she hoped she would find out how much the CIA knew. It was quite a brazen thing for her to do, don’t you think? Walk into the CIA offices pretending to be a victim when she’s really part of the whole scheme. And you, Mr. Butler keeping her informed every step of the way, an unknowing accomplice.” Finally Ryan broke, “I’m sorry—I had no idea. I’ve been so stupid.” Wolaski cut in, “I think we can bring this interview to a close. You can go now Mr. Butler. The two agents will drive you home. By the way, they work for us, not the FBI. “I figured that.” “Remember, you can’t say anything about this meeting to anybody, understand? Nobody! As far as we’re concerned this conversation never took place. If you claim it did we will deny it. Understood?” “Yes.” “Get on with your life Mr. Butler,” Wolaski continued. “Keep away from Rick Shannon and everybody else involved in this case. If you continue to meddle, we can make life extremely difficult for you. We could even arrange for you to do some time in federal prison—Leavenworth, Kansas comes to mind. When it comes down to it, it really doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do—what matters is what we say you did. It’s our word against yours and given that equation your word isn’t worth much. Now go home, get a good night sleep, and forget this ever happened.”
CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN Sunday, August 3, 1986 – Monday August, 4, 1986 When Ryan returned to his condominium, he headed straight to the kitchen cabinet where they kept their liquor He opened the cabinet door and was relieved to see that the bottles were still there. He picked up a fifth of bourbon, poured himself a tall drink over ice, and collapsed on the sofa. Rattled and shaken, he was trying to put everything that had happened into perspective. He thought about what a mess he had made with his life. He had managed to throw away a promising baseball career, lose his wife, destroy his law career, and now make a fool of himself over a young beautiful woman. He was forty-two years old with no family, no career, and few people who really cared about him. An only child, his father died long ago, and his mother was lost to Alzheimer’s disease. Elaine was right; he was a loser. He poured himself another drink. The slow burn of the bourbon began to calm him. “Who are you Alana?” he said softy to himself. How could she have been so cunning and convincing? How could she have put on such a persuasive act of sweetness, femininity and vulnerability? How could he have fallen for it so easily?
The next morning he awoke late. Not wanting to get out of bed, he pulled the blanket over his face trying to block the sunlight streaming through the window blinds. Finally, he forced himself into the shower but didn’t bother to shave. He hardly recognized his reflection in the mirror, sunken eyes with dark circles. At a corner bakery, he ordered coffee and a bagel and bought the Sunday newspaper. The coffee tasted bitter and the bagel stale. He only glanced at the paper, not even bothering to
check the baseball scores in the sports section. The only thing on his mind was Alana, replaying her sexy expressions in bed, the same as in the magazines, ashamed of himself for being so gullible. He meandered through the city streets in a daze until he stumbled on the main branch of the Philadelphia Library, a huge imposing structure occupying and entire city block. He climbed up the library steps, past its massive Grecian columns, heading for the reference department and the encyclopedias. He recalled that Agent Girard had said that Alana and Agent Newcombe were on the island of St Barts in the Caribbean. He had never heard of it. Combing though the pages of the 1986 edition of the Encyclopedia Americana, he found no items on St. Barts, but there was a small reference to Saint Barthelemy, a tiny island in the French West Indies about seventeen miles southwest of St. Martin. The article indicated that the island often referred to as St. Barths, or St. Barts. That was it! For the remainder of the afternoon, he searched through travel, geography, and history books, trying to learn all he could about St. Barts—imagining Alana lying on the beach with Agent Newcombe, sipping tropical cocktails, and laughing together about what easy marks Rick and Ryan had been. At closing time, he was shooed out of the reading room by library staff and stopped at a corner bar on the way home. He chugged down two beers and ordered a Philly Cheese Steak to go. Once home, it was back to the bourbon. He knew he was due at work the next morning and shouldn’t be drinking but he didn’t care. He passed out on the sofa. Sometime during the night he was dreaming about Elaine. She was with him in Montana and they were hiking together along a narrow mountain ledge; below there was a long sheer drop to the valley floor. It was a beautiful clear day and they both were happy and laughing together. Then a thunderstorm instantly appeared, dark and foreboding with lightening and hard rain.
Ahead of him, Elaine slipped, lost her footing on the rocks and stumbled over the mountainside. Ryan rushed to where she fell and saw her about ten feet below the ledge, clinging desperately to a rock. It was too far for Ryan to reach her. He didn’t know what to do. If he tried to climb down to help her, he’d be jeopardizing his own life. He looked down at her face. Suddenly it was no longer Elaine he was looking at, it was Alana. “Help me!” she cried, with a cold terror in her green eyes. “Help me Ryan!” Ryan jolted awake sweating and trembling. It took him a moment to realize where he was, asleep on the sofa in the condo. He turned on the light and went into the kitchen to pour a glass of water. He didn’t want to go back to sleep, back to that dream. He turned on the television and found a late-night rerun of ‘Magnum’. He tried watching it, struggling to stay awake, but eventually drifted back to sleep.
For the first time in his life, Ryan was late for work because of hangover. Betty’s face brightened when he finally showed up around 10 AM. During his absence, Cassidy had been driving her crazy with all kinds of frivolous demands and she was looking forward to Ryan’s return, hoping he would bring some sanity back to the office. Ryan said hello to her in a flat monotone, headed straight for his office, and closed the door. He had a splitting headache and didn’t feel like talking to anybody. A stack of documents awaited him on his desk. Ignoring them, he went over to the window and watched all the people hurrying back and forth on the sidewalk below, so busy with the day-to-day minutia of their lives. It all seemed pointless to him now. All he could think about was Alana. The dream had really disturbed Ryan and he couldn’t shake it from his thoughts. The terrified look in Alana’s eyes seemed so vivid and so real. He needed time to do some thinking.
What if Wolaski and Girard had gotten it wrong? Not the part about Alana’s past life, he had seen the evidence. But Alana had told him when they first met that she had made mistakes in her life. He remembered her exact words: “I’ve made a lot of bad choices and done things I’m not proud of.” He certainly knew from personal experience that people often make horrible blunders in their youth. She had a right to change, to start a new life. Maybe she really didn’t leave with Newcombe on her own volition. Did Rick withdraw his money the day he disappeared on his own volition? Did Costas? Clearly, something was wrong with the whole picture. Could somebody, somehow, been controlling them against their will. Dr. Tyback had said the hypnosis experiment in Wisconsin hadn’t worked, but now he was strangely dead. Things weren’t just adding up. The effects of the alcohol hadn’t fully worn off, but he felt more clearheaded than yesterday. In his heart, he just couldn’t believe that Alana wasn’t for real. He had a growing uneasiness, a feeling that she was in great danger. The buzz of the intercom interrupted his thoughts. It was Betty. “Mr. Butler, Cassidy would like for you to come to his office.” “When?” “He said now.” Ryan was startled. Since when did Cassidy give him orders and since when did he go to Cassidy’s office for meetings, rather than the other way around? “Tell him I’ll stop by later,” Ryan snapped. Sifting through his correspondence, he read a memo from Ned Heaton to everyone in the firm, congratulating Cassidy on his promotion to senior staff attorney. Another memo from Ned advised that Ryan would be receiving all his future work assignments through Cassidy.
Next, there were a series of follow-up memos from Cassidy, outlining Ryan’s work projects and deadlines. It was clear that the office landscape had radically changed while he was gone. In the past, Cassidy, a bright thirty-two year old Yale graduate, had been an extremely deferential underling to Ryan, almost fawning. Of course, that was when there was a strong possibility that Ryan would become a partner. With the changed reality, it appeared that Cassidy was relishing his new status. Ryan fumed when he looked over the work assignments. They were projects normally assigned to rookie lawyers just entering the firm out of law school, not to senior attorneys. Despite Mr. Duke’s pleasantries, it was clear that the firm wanted him out, the sooner the better, and they weren’t going to make life easy for him until he left. Ryan tried reviewing his other correspondence but found it extremely difficult to concentrate. He kept thinking about Alana. How could he go on with his life not knowing what happened to her? Not knowing if she was in danger? Not knowing whether she had really been part of the plot all along? Never knowing if she was dead or alive? And there was no way he could ever find out. He certainly couldn’t call the CIA. He couldn’t even call Officer DeNardo. The CIA had sternly warned him to stay away, under threat of federal prosecution. He felt absolutely powerless just sitting in his office. All the documents in front of him seemed trivial and meaningless. Betty buzzed again, “Cassidy really wants to see you! He’s waiting outside your office.” “Good for him,” Ryan said abruptly, taking his phone off the hook and walking back to look out the window. There was a knock on the door. “Ryan, this is Cassidy, I really need to see you. It’s about the trial.”
“I’m on the line with a client. Come on in.” Ryan picked up the phone as Cassidy entered the office. Ryan motioned for him to have a seat, but Cassidy remained standing. Ryan continued talking into the phone, listening to a faint busy signal in the background. “No we certainly do not want to lose your account—yes, you have been a great client all these years—I will look into it but I will have to discuss your situation with our other attorneys—I’m not sure how a billing error could have occurred…” Ryan looked at Cassidy, shrugged his shoulders and pointed to his watch to indicate that he didn’t know how long the conversation would last. Cassidy’s face reddened and he stormed out of the office, closing the door hard. Ryan smiled, knowing he had bought himself some time. He had some planning to do.
An hour later, Ryan asked Betty to come into his office. He closed the door behind her as she sat with a wounded look in the chair in front of his desk. “Betty, I’m sorry if I’ve been short with you today. I have a number of serious personal issues I’m dealing with right now.” She nodded sympathetically. “I’ve been good to work for haven’t I?” “Oh yes, Mr. Butler, always!” “That’s why I need a favor from you. I know I can trust you. But it’s not business related.” She swallowed hard. “What would that be?” “I want you to check some airline flights for me. But don’t tell anybody what you are doing, and don’t use my name or the firm’s name. Just get on the phone, get me a list of all the flight times and flight numbers from New York City to the island of St. Barts in the Caribbean.
Don’t use a travel agent—call the airlines directly. Don’t tell them your name or give them a call back number. O.K.?” “Is that all?” Betty asked, relieved. “That’s all Betty. It means a lot to me. But you must keep this secret, don’t tell anybody —promise?” “Of course, Mr. Butler. I promise.”
Ryan spent the next several hours locked in his office, hidden behind the locked door, mapping out a plan. He was surprised that he had not heard from Cassidy again. He figured Cassidy would go directly to Ned Heaton for help. Betty buzzed again around 3 PM. “Mr. Butler. Ned Heaton would like to see you in his office. He said immediately.” “Betty, do you have that flight list yet? “Yes, I just finished typing it.” Ryan swung out of his office and grabbed the flight list from Betty. “An emergency just came up and I have to leave immediately. I’ll be back tomorrow.” “What do you want me to tell Mr. Heaton?” “Tell him I have business to finish with the CIA.” She looked at him, wide-eyed and gulped hard.
CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT Tuesday, August 5, 1986 Ryan set his plan in motion. He left home at 6:30 AM for the offices of Duke and Associates wearing a dark pin-stripe suit, white shirt, and blue tie, carrying a vase with a dozen red roses that he had bought from the florist the night before. When he arrived, the office was nearly empty, just a few junior attorneys sweating out a deadline or hoping to impress their bosses. He sat at Betty’s typewriter and composed a short letter to Ned Heaton: Dear Ned: I quit. Sincerely, Ryan Butler. “Short but too the point,” he said to himself. He put the letter in an envelope addressed to Ned Heaton and dropped it in the interoffice mail. He placed the roses on Betty’s desk with a note thanking her for her loyal service and saying goodbye. He was not sure whether the CIA was still following him, but he couldn’t take any chances. He walked out to the hallway and took the service elevator down to the basement. From the basement, he went up the back stairs and through a service door onto the alley behind the office building. From there it was a quick dart to the subway entrance and into the morning rush-hour crowd. He took the subway two stops to the main train depot at Philadelphia Suburban Station and caught the next Amtrak express to New York City. On the train, he kept moving between cars, checking closely to see if anybody was following him from one car to another. He didn’t detect anyone trailing him.
Arriving at Grand Central Station in New York, he circulated through the crowds, and then took a long expensive taxi ride to the JFK Airport. He paid for the flight with cash at the American Airlines ticket counter; a non-stop jet to St. Martin, an hour layover, and then on to St. Barts. He had no baggage, not even a carry on, just a lot of cash in his wallet. He didn’t want to use credit cards for fear of being traced. By late afternoon, he was flying on a twelve seat single-engine commuter plane from St. Martin to the island of St. Barts. The sea below was a deep vibrant blue and the waves glittered with the slanting rays of the afternoon sun. In the distance, he could see the island of St. Barts growing larger, a green jagged mountain range jutting up from the sea, ringed by coral reefs and translucent blue waters. Ryan could hardly sit still. The rush of excitement reminded him of the old days when he was playing ball; the thrill of close game, the batter at the plate, and all eyes on him waiting for the next pitch. He had felt so alive back then, so full of energy and hope. That feeling had been dormant for so long, nearly extinguished. It was all coming back now. As the small plane prepared to land on St. Barts, Ryan was sure it was going to crash. The runway was a tiny strip of concrete lodged between the mountain and the sea. The plane headed directly for the mountain and then, at the last moment, banked sharply left dropping like a rock and turning in a tight half circle. Ryan’s stomach fell to his knees. Miraculously the runway materialized in front of the aircraft and the plane touched down, bouncing a few times before coming to a halt just short of the beach at the end of the runway. Ryan and the few other passengers on the plane breathed a sigh of relief. Ryan flagged a taxi to St. Jeans Bay, about a mile from the Airport and found himself on the main street, bordered by shops and restaurants on one side and the ocean on the other. At the end of town there was a large hotel complex with the name, St. Jean’s Bay Resort,
prominently displayed in front. It looked expensive and exclusive. Further down the road, there were several small hotels and guesthouses and Ryan took a room at the first one he found, the Caribbean Sunset Hotel. On the island, it was a beautiful evening and he strolled on the beach just as the sun was setting. The water was ablaze with the fiery gold and red of the sunset and the palm trees swayed lazily with the sultry evening breeze. He realized he was hungry and located a small open-air restaurant right next to the beach. He ate a dinner of fresh snapper prepared in a sauce of butter, shallots, garlic and cognac. He finished a bottle of white wine and watched as the night slowly turned black and the Milky Way dusted the sky from horizon to horizon. The food and the wine settled his nerves and as he was paying his bill he showed the waiter the sketch of the California suspect. The waiter recognized the face immediately. “Oui, that is Monsieur York. He lives in a villa on top of the mountain and drives a red Porsche. Everybody knows Mr. York. But his hair is much shorter than in this picture.” The immediate recognition of the man in the picture shocked Ryan back to reality. “Are you sure his name’s not Newcombe?” Ryan asked. “No. That is definitely Mr. York,” said the waiter still looking at the sketch. “Do you know where I can find him?” Ryan asked. “The island is small. If you stay here a few days, you will see him. I know he often goes to the St Jean’s Bay Resort in the afternoon.” He left the waiter a big tip. Ryan’s heart was thumping with both excitement and fear. .
CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE Same Day Brahms put down the report from agents Wolaski and Girard summarizing their interrogation of Ryan Butler. They hadn’t learned anything they didn’t already know, except that the interview confirmed Agent Wolaski’s suspicion that Mr. Butler and Mrs. Shannon were having sexual relations. Both agents concluded that Mr. Butler was not involved in the conspiracy and represented no threat to U.S. governmental interests. They both recommended discontinuing surveillance of Mr. Butler so Brahms issued the order. Agent Wolaski was sure that Butler had left the interrogation so shaken that they would never hear a peep from him again, “Like a dog with his tail between his legs,” wrote Wolaski. In Agent Wolaski’s mind, the fact that Mr. Butler and Mrs. Shannon were intimately involved virtually proved that Mrs. Shannon was part of the conspiracy and was using sex to manipulate Mr. Butler. Mrs. Shannon’s shady past only served to confirm Wolaski’s theory. Brahms was not so sure. There was still no direct evidence linking David Newcombe and Alana Shannon before his arrival at her house last Saturday. Wolaski had made a big point of the fact that Newcombe appeared to have a key to the house, but that really didn’t prove anything. If Newcombe was involved in the incidents leading up to Rick Shannon’s disappearance and coma, then he could have easily gotten a key then. After all, Mr. Shannon’s wallet and keys were missing when they found him on the park bench in Maryland. And nobody actually saw him use a key, he could have just picked the lock, or maybe the door was unlocked. All evidence indicated that Mrs. Shannon had left voluntarily with David Newcombe, but Rick Shannon had also gone alone to the banks and withdrawn money with no outward signs of coercion. Mrs. Shannon had some damaging baggage in her past, but that alone didn’t prove she was part of the plot.
Brahms sighed. It was such a bizarre case and none of the pieces fit. What did Newcombe have to do with Mr. Shannon and Mr. Costas? How was all this connected to the suicide of Dr. Tyback? Or was it? How did it all link back to the Wisconsin experiments and the American Institute for the Advancement of Human Intelligence? It was a shame they didnâ€™t have an opportunity to question Dr. Tyback before he committed suicide. Or was he murdered? Of course, there was a theory. Newcombe had learned about the Wisconsin experiments during his assignment to document security in Washington where his job was to review old files for possible declassification. Somehow, Newcombe had recovered information about the experiments on drug-induced hypnosis. The CIA files concluded that the documents had been destroyed but maybe Dr. Tyback kept a duplicate set, or his own notes. What if Newcombe had contacted Tyback and convinced him to give him the documents or even to reproduce the Rn2 drug? Later Newcombe could have killed Dr. Tyback making it look like a suicide. But that theory still did not explain the situation with Mr. Shannon and Mr. Costas. Did Newcombe use the drug to place them in comas? If so, why? For money? But if he actually had the Rn2 drug, why would he need to seek out people involved in the original Wisconsin experiment? Clearly, the drug would have worked on anybody. And what about Alana Shannon? If she wasnâ€™t part of the conspiracy, why would Newcombe come to her house and abduct her. What could he possibly gain? Brahms stood up and poured a cup of coffee. It was already past 8 PM. and it looked like it was going to be another long evening. He sat down in his chair to re-read the report. He wondered whether he had made the right decision in letting Newcombe go at the airport. If they had arrested him at the Baltimore-Washington Airport then they would now know for certain whether Mrs. Shannon was involved. On the other hand, it might have been very difficult to get Newcombe to talk and they might never have fully learned what he was up to or whether outside governments or
other CIA agents were involved. It had been totally his call to let him board the plane, and some of his senior aides had disagreed. Before Newcombe boarded the plane in Baltimore, they managed to book one of their agents on the same flights and had dispatched two other agents from Miami to St. Barts. Still Brahms knew it was a risky call. Newcombe was a professional and if he suspected he was being followed he might be able to give them the slip. In that case, Brahms would have a lot of explaining to do. They had now been watching Newcombe and Mrs. Shannon for a week and some of Brahms suspicions had been confirmed. On Wednesday, Newcombe and the girl met with two men for about an hour at the St. Jeans Bay Resort. The CIA took clandestine photographs and positively identified the other man as a senior consular official at the Cuban embassy in Venezuela named Rafael Valez, a known intelligence operative. The agents on the island were poised to step in and make an arrest if money or materials were exchanged during the meeting, but there was only discussion and a handshake. The girl, Mrs. Shannon, had said nothing during the meeting, but simply sat at the table passively sipping a drink. Now it appeared that Newcombe was just killing time. He and the girl had spent the last three afternoons at the beach or by the pool at the St. Jeanâ€™s Bay Resort. In the evening, they went out to dinner and then back to Newcombeâ€™s villa on the hill. Something had to give soon. They surmised that Newcombe was waiting for the Cubans to come back, this time with money. Some of his advisers wanted him to authorize a break-in of Newcombeâ€™s villa to search for evidence, but Brahms had put a hold on that. He was afraid that a trained CIA man like Newcombe might recognize that his villa had been searched and flee. Brahms came to a decision. He would wait one more day and, if nothing developed, he would give the order for his agents to arrest Newcombe and confiscate everything in his possession
and in the villa. But he knew he would have a much stronger case if they could catch Newcombe in a criminal act.
CHAPTER THIRTY Wednesday, August 6, 1986 Ryan was awake and walking on the beach, the sand cool and wet on his feet. As the sun rose, his confidence waned. What was he doing? He had no real plan except that he had to see Alana to make sure she was not in danger. If she had come to the island voluntarily then he would leave immediately, but he doubted that would be the case. But what if she was under coercion, what would he do then? Abduct her? Take her to the authorities? He knew he would just have to trust his instincts in whatever situation arose. He walked up to the St. Jean’s Bay Resort, a large alabaster complex with a red tile roof and rooms with balconies that looked out to the sea across a palm-studded beach. He entered the expansive lobby, lined with tropical plants and bright colorful paintings of parrots on the walls. There was bamboo furniture with plush blue cushions matching the deep colors of the Caribbean ocean. It was still very early and nobody was stirring except one person staffing the hotel registration counter. Through the closed door to the Paradise Lounge he could see that the bar opened onto the pool area and beyond that to the beach. The thought that Alana had been here and likely would be here later stirred him with both hope and anxiety. Strolling along the shops in town, he waited for a store to open to buy shaving cream and a razor. Back in his room he showered and shaved, but had to put on the same wrinkled clothes he had worn down the day before, minus the tie and jacket. The town only ran for only about six blocks and he paced up and down its length, periodically returning to the St. Jean’s Bay Resort, searching for the red Porsche in the parking lot. Back at the lobby of the St. Jean’s Resort, he noticed that the lounge had opened. He walked down to the end of the bar where it opened up to the pool area. A few people were lounging on chairs or
swimming in the pool but there was no sign of Alana. A tourist in a bright blue shirt with pink flowers sat at the far end of the bar, sipping on a blue drink with a yellow umbrella on top. Ryan nodded to the bartender who looked him over warily. With his wrinkled white work shirt, dark pinstriped pants, shiny oxford shoes and black socks, Ryan certainly didn’t look like a tourist. Ryan showed the bartender the sketch. “That’s Mr. York, are you a friend of his?” the bartender asked suspiciously. “Yes,” Ryan lied, “do you know if he might be around?” “He’s been here every afternoon this week. He usually arrives in the early afternoon and eats lunch by the pool.” Ryan asked if there had been a woman with him during the past week. “Oh yes, Mr. York’s fiancée.” “His fiancée?” repeated Ryan. “Yes, a very lovely redhead.” Redhead? Ryan wondered, had she dyed her hair red again, like in the magazines, or was this somebody else? Back out on the street, Ryan’s stomach was in knots and he hoped that food would calm him. He sat down at a restaurant a few blocks down the beach, just a wooden deck over the sand with a thatched roof, ceiling fans and picnic tables. He ordered a sandwich but his stomach was too upset to eat and he only managed a few bites. He paid the waiter and headed back towards the St. Jean’s Bay Resort. As he approached, he saw a red Porsche pull into the resort parking lot. He froze as he watched a tall muscular blond man and a lithe redhead get out of the car. He recognized Alana
immediately, her hair now flaming red, wearing a yellow and blue sarong, a straw hat, and large sunglasses. Ryan waited a few minutes and then entered the resort. The bartender at the Paradise Lounge looked up when Ryan appeared and pointed out to the pool area, “Mr. York just arrived,” he said. Ryan sat down at a table close to where the lounge opened out to the pool. He ordered a non-alcoholic drink. About thirty feet away he watched the blond man and Alana settle onto chaise lounges. Alana was on her stomach, wearing a pink bikini, while the blond man rubbed suntan lotion on her back. Ryan surveyed the bar area. There were clusters of people having lunch and the same tourist he had seen earlier, nursing the same blue drink. The bar was playing non-stop Jimmy Buffet. He sat for a long time watching Alana and the man while they ate lunch. When finished, they both turned over to face the sun. The blond man got up several times to take a dip in the pool but came right back to Alana. Alana never moved except to sip her drink. The bartender kept watching Ryan and finally asked him if he wanted anything else. Ryan had been sitting there for over an hour and had hardly touched his drink. The bartender was clearly puzzled as to why Ryan didn’t go out to the pool area to talk to Mr. York. After all, he had seemed so eager to see his friend earlier. “Do you want me to tell Mr. York you are looking for him?” the bartender asked. “No, thank you,” Ryan answered, feeling ever more anxious, “I’ll talk to him later.” The bartender left with a disgusted look. Finally Ryan’s chance came. The blond man headed out to the ocean, leaving Alana alone. Ryan waited until he was just at the water's edge, ready to dive into a wave. Ryan stood up and walked briskly over to Alana. She looked gorgeous on the lounge chair, wearing only her sunglasses and a pink bikini bottom. She was very tan, with beads of suntan oil glistening across her body.
He knelt down next to her, “Alana, it’s me, Ryan—Ryan Butler. Are you O.K.?” She didn’t respond. Ryan moved closer. “Just tell me you are O.K. Tell me you came here of your own free will. I just need to hear you say you are alright.” There was no response, as if she were deaf. Ryan looked down at her arms and saw there were red rings and bruises around her wrists. “Alana, has he hurt you? Are you in danger?” Her mouth did not move. She laid there motionless. All Ryan could see was the reflection of his own face in her huge sunglasses. “For Christ’s sake, Alana, talk to me! Take off your sunglasses.” He was shouting at her now and others were beginning to take notice. Reaching over and pulling off her sunglasses, he instantly he knew that something was very wrong. One eye was bruised, black and swollen shut. The other eye was open but distant and vacant. She looked like she had been beaten and drugged. “You’re coming with me,” he said and grabbed her by the arm, trying to get her to stand up. She did not resist but was limp, like a rag doll. She fell back again onto her chair. Ryan began to lift her again, grabbing both arms, thinking he would carry her out. The people around him were all staring in shock, watching a man trying to carrying off an almost naked woman. How was he going to get her out of here? Ryan looked up and saw the bartender bounding straight for him with an alarmed expression, “Leave her alone!” the bartender shouted. “She’s in trouble,” Ryan said, “She’s been drugged.” He heard pounding steps behind him and turned to see the blond man rushing towards him. “Let go of my fiancée!” the blond man yelled.
“She’s going with me!” Ryan said with defiance. “Get your hands off of her!” the blond man screamed coming right up to Ryan’s face. Ryan reached for Alana’s arm again, trying to get her to stand up, but the blond man shoved him in the chest, pushing him backwards onto the ground. “I told you to leave her alone!” Ryan rebounded to his feet and lunged at the blond man, only to feel a crippling punch to his stomach, dropping him to his knees and leaving him gasping for air. The blond man loomed over him, his fists clenched. A circle of people gathered around them, shaking their heads, pointing and whispering at Ryan. Ryan pleaded to the crowd. “He’s beaten her! Look at her eyes! He’s going to kill her!” Newcombe laughed, “You’re crazy—I haven’t touched her—she’s my fiancée. Who the hell do you think you are?” Ryan didn’t answer; he was still struggling to stand up. When he finally staggered to his feet, the bartender grasped his arms around Ryan’s chest in a tight hold. “Darling,” Newcombe said smiling towards Alana, “Tell everybody what happened to your eye.” “I was injured water skiing. I fell off and one of the skis came up and hit me in the eye.” Her voice was rote and mechanical. Newcombe told her to put her sunglasses back on and she did so immediately. “She’s lying,” Ryan shouted, sounding hysterical. The blond man turned to Alana: “You don’t know this man do you?” “No,” she replied flatly. “Then tell this creep to get lost.” “Get lost creep,” Alana said without emotion.
“That’s enough!” said the bartender tightening his hold, “I'm going to call the police.” “There’s no need to involve the police, Marcel,” said Newcombe, “This man obviously has mental problems. Just get him out of here—if he comes back—then call the police.” By now, two security guards from the hotel had arrived on the scene and were standing with the bartender. The bartender let go of his grip and each of the guards grabbed one of Ryan’s arms, holding them close and tight to his shoulder. They yanked him forward, dragging him towards the Paradise Lounge.” “O.K., O.K. I’m going,” Ryan said. The two men relaxed their grip and escorted him through the bar and out a side door to the parking area. Ryan could feel the disapproving stares of the patrons as he was led through the bar, especially the tourist with the blue drink. The security guards pushed him out door and Ryan stumbled to the ground. “Don’t come back here again!” yelled the bartender. “We don’t want any more trouble. Mr. York and his lady are fine people. If we see you again we’re calling the police.” Ryan got up slowly trying to regain his composure. He looked back a few times and saw the men still standing by the door watching him intently. He staggered out past the parking lot and into the busy street, just missing an oncoming car. He didn’t know what to do. He knew for sure now that Alana was in danger, but what could he do? Who would believe him? He walked a couple of blocks down the street and then cut back down towards the beach. He imagined buying a gun, holding the blond man at gunpoint, and taking Alana to safety. But he had no idea where to get a gun. He knew he wasn’t thinking rationally. He was walking along the beach in aimless circles. Finally, he decided that he had to go back to the pool area and try to save Alana. It was crazy and reckless but he had no choice. He couldn’t just leave her. He had to do something. Just then he heard someone calling him.
“Hey mister!” A man was running down the beach towards him. As he got nearer he recognized him as the tourist he had seen earlier sitting at the bar. The man was sweating and breathing heavily as if he had been running for a long time. “Tell me what just happened back there,” the tourist asked still trying to catch his breath. “Who are you?” “CIA. You must be the guy from the States—Butler isn’t it?” “Yes, that’s me.” “You’ve just blown our operation here. What did you say to him? Did you tell him who you were?” “No.” “Did you tell him how you found him? Did you mention the CIA?” “No.” “It probably doesn’t matter. Now he knows somebody’s on to him—he’ll run. I have to get back. Where are you staying?” “The Caribbean Sunset Hotel.” “What room?” “420.” “Go directly back to your hotel. Don’t leave your room. Pack all your bags. Don’t talk to anybody. I’ll send somebody to pick you up shortly. We need to get you on the next flight out of here. Your life’s in danger” “What about the girl?” Ryan asked. “Don’t worry about the girl! Just do as I say—now go!”
The CIA agent knew he had taken a big gamble leaving his post to catch up with the man who had made the disturbance. It was his shift and his assignment to keep an eye on Newcombe and the girl. But he couldn't let the man get away without finding out what had happened; determining who he was; without warning him to stay clear; and without finding out how he could be contacted for further questioning. The agent ran back up the beach towards the St Jean’s Bay Resort and then slowed to a walk as he got within view of the pool area. He looked over to where Newcombe and Alana had been lying but saw only two empty lounge chairs. They weren't by the pool either. He strolled into the bar, past the bartender and out to the parking lot. The red Porsche was still sitting there but there was no sign of Newcombe or Mrs. Shannon. He ran back into the resort to use the telephone. He needed to talk to Agent Girard. He was sure that Girard would now instruct him to alert the other agents to apprehend Newcombe immediately. He knew this wasn’t going to be easy. Newcombe was now on guard, likely armed, and wouldn’t come peacefully. Time was of the essence.
After Ryan had been escorted away from the St. Jean’s Bay Resort and the crowd had dispersed, Newcombe turned to Alana and asked her if she knew the man. “Ryan Butler,” she said. “Shit!” muttered Newcombe, recognizing the name and wondering how he had tracked him to St. Barts. Newcombe realized he had to put his emergency plan into action. If Butler knew where he was then so did others, maybe the Agency. He wondered if the CIA was watching him and, if so, why they hadn’t moved in. Maybe they were setting a trap. He was supposed to meet with the Cubans tomorrow to finalize the deal, but he would have to miss the appointment and contact them again later. If only he could catch up with the Butler and find out what he knew and how he had found him.
Newcombe and Alana immediately left the St. Jean’s Bay Resort walking through the parking lot past the Porsche and onto the street. Newcombe looked both ways hoping to catch sight of Butler but there was no sign of him. He then walked with Alana for about two blocks and turned left on a small side street next to a jewelry store. He double-checked to make sure he wasn’t being followed. Behind the store, several cars were parked and Newcombe went up to an old beat-up blue Fiat Spider, pulled out a set of keys, and unlocked the trunk. It was all still there, the container holding the drugs, the manila envelope with instructions, and a small duffel bag holding clothes, money, passports, and his wig and mustache. Newcombe had mapped out his exit plan during his first week on the island. He had leased a small cabin cruiser that was moored at the dock in Gustavia, the island’s main port on the other side of the mountain. His plan was to cruise to the small desert island of Anguilla just north of St. Martin. Situated there was a small dirt airstrip on the island and a pilot that took tourists on sightseeing trips. He would have the pilot fly him to Martinique where he could then board a commercial jet to France entering on his fake passport. He knew if the CIA was on to him, they would be monitoring the airports in St. Barts and St Martin but nobody would be looking for him to leave from Martinique. But first, he had to get rid of the girl, take her out to sea, kill her, and dump her body in the water. Such a waste to destroy such a beautiful creature, he thought, but he had no choice. He also knew that he had to move fast, very fast. Newcombe told Alana to get into the car and they drove along the main street of St Jean’s Bay heading for Gustavia. Ahead Newcombe looked up just in time to see Butler crossing the street towards the Caribbean Sunset Hotel. He couldn’t believe his good fortune. This was his chance to find out what Butler knew. He pulled his car in front of the hotel and told Alana to get the drugs out of the trunk. They both followed Butler into the hotel.
It took Ryan less than ten minutes to walk back to his hotel room. He decided he didn't care what the CIA agent had said. He was going to call the island police. Then he would then call the newspapers in the States, the Philadelphia Inquirer or the Washington Post. He would tell them his story, maybe they'd listen. He would call DeNardo and Rojas, too. Hell, he'd even call his senators and representatives. It was obvious that the CIA didn't give a damn about the girl. They must have known he was beating and drugging her, and probably raping her. He wasn't going to leave the island without her! Ryan unlocked the door to his hotel room and started to walk in. Out of the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of something moving behind him, following him in the hallway, and turned to look back. The blow struck him across the right side of his head and sent him careening to the floor inside his room. He momentarily went blank and when he opened his eyes, Newcombe was sitting on top of his chest so that he could hardly breath, holding Ryan’s arms down at his sides. He struggled to get free but it was useless. The blond man was too strong. He started to yell but the man clenched a hand over his mouth, gripping his face so hard he thought his fingers would rip through his cheek flesh. “Bring it over!” the man shouted and Alana appeared above him holding a syringe. She leaned over him, until her eyes were only a foot away from his. Deep within those drugged green eyes, Ryan saw her terror; the terror he had seen in his dream. “Stick it in!” Newcombe ordered, still pinning him to the floor. The last thing Ryan remembered was a sharp sting as the needle punctured his skin.
CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE Same Day “Wake up!” Ryan tried to open his eyes but the sunlight was too bright and painful. Perspiration trickled down his face, tasting salty in his mouth. He wanted to wipe the sweat off but couldn’t move his hands. The floor was moving under his feet, gently rocking back and forth. He had no idea where he was. He strained to open his eyes again, squinting tight. The light wasn’t as blinding as before and in front of him a shape began to form, shimmering against a blue background. The shape seemed to be drifting up and down. He continued to focus, gradually forcing his eyes wider. It was a woman, sitting across from him, silhouetted against a blue sky and even bluer water. He realized he was on a boat in the ocean His vision was becoming sharper, he recognized her, it was Alana, sitting directly across from him, on a bench with a railing behind, her hair red and wearing a white t-shirt. “Good afternoon, Mr. Butler. Enjoying the cruise?” It was a man’s voice, deep and foreboding, coming out of nowhere. He couldn’t turn his head to look around, all he could do was keep staring straight at Alana. She was holding something shiny in her lap. Sweat poured down his face, stinging his eyes. God he was thirsty. He strained harder to see what Alana was holding. The sun was reflecting off it like a mirror. No it wasn't a mirror, it was a gun! “Hot enough for you?” said the voice. Ryan sensed something moving just outside at the edge of his right field of vision. “Look at me when I talk to you!” Ryan turned his head and saw the blond man standing shirtless with his
hands on his hips. “Surprised you could turn your head? It’s because I said you could. Go ahead, look around, anywhere you want.” From his limited field of vision, Ryan examined his surroundings. He was sitting on the back deck of a boat, a cabin cruiser. To his right, beyond the blond man, there were steps leading up to the bridge. On the bridge, there were two cushioned seats, a steering wheel, and the engine controls. The floor of the deck was polished wood and around the deck ran a wooden railing about two feet high. He and Alana were sitting directly across from one another against opposite railings. Behind his back, there was a deep drop to the ocean. Ryan was becoming less groggy, more aware of his surroundings; the hard flat bench he was sitting on; the boat railing pressing into his lower back; the cry of seabirds; and something heavy in his lap. He couldn’t look down, but felt his fingers wrapped around a smooth metallic handle, damp and oily in his palms. What am I holding? In a flash of panic, he realized it was a gun. He struggled to get up, run, escape, but instead sat frozen, unable to will his lifeless limbs to move. The blond man continued. “It’s a beautiful afternoon, isn’t it, Mr. Butler. I love it out here in the ocean, far from land, where there’s nobody around. Nobody to bother you or nose in on your business. Everything’s so peaceful. Tell me you think its peaceful Mr. Butler.” Ryan heard himself speak, “It’s peaceful.” He didn’t know how he had said that. He hadn’t willed it. The words just formed. The man spoke again. “The weather report says there will be thunderstorms this evening— severe ones. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you won’t be around when the storms hit.” The blond smirked. “I guess that’s not very funny.” Ryan didn’t answer.
“Anyway, what I’ve set up here is a shooting gallery; the meddling lawyer versus the hot to trot chick. You at one end of the gallery and Alana here at the other end. Clever isn’t it—sort of like a replay of High Noon. Ever see that movie Mr. Butler?” “Yes.” “We’re going to find out who’s the best shot. Now look down at your gun.” Ryan looked down at the revolver in his hand. It was an oily silver color with a long barrel. “I gave you the heavier one,” said the blond man. “A Smith and Wesson 45. I gave her the snub-nosed 38. At this range it won’t make any difference which gun is used.” The blond man walked to the end of the boat and leaned against the railing. “This should work out fine. You shoot her and she shoots you. Clean and simple. Oh, I bet you think you won’t do it—won’t shoot your lover. I know all about that. But the stuff that the professor concocted is really powerful, I’ve seen it work. I told the professor to shoot himself in the head and he did. Just like that. He put the gun up to his head and pulled the trigger.” The blond man demonstrated by pointing his index finder at his temple. “POW, what a mess! I don’t want to have to clean up here. That’s why if you do this right, follow my directions closely, everything should be neat and tidy. You both shoot each other on my command. The bullet from Mrs. Shannon's gun hits you, Mr. Butler, and the force of the impact carries you right over the side of the boat. At the same time the bullet from your gun hits Alana and knocks her over into the water. Even if the bullet doesn’t kill you, you’ll still drown. Yeah, this is just like the shooting gallery at the carnival—two sitting ducks.” Inside Ryan was raging. This man is insane he kept telling himself. Do something or you’re going to die here. But he still couldn’t move. “Your bodies will probably wash up on shore somewhere eventually. At least what's left of them after the sharks get finished. By then I’ll be long gone.”
Ryan was struggling, doing everything he could to break free. Trying to move his arms, his hands, and his legs. Nothing happened. Not only couldn’t he move them, he couldn’t even tell where they were; he couldn’t feel them. The blond man sat down next to Alana, putting his arm around her shoulders. “I’m really going to miss this one. She’s been such a good sport through all this. A real spitfire in bed too, but I guess you already know that Ryan—a great fuck—and she doesn’t mind a little pain. I think she even likes it. Don’t you darling? Say yes!” “Yes,” she answered. “See,” said the blond man grinning. “I know it wasn’t very smart of me to bring her down here with me. I had originally planned to kill her when I went to her house in Middleton. But when I got a look at her I just couldn’t do it. She’s really some heart stopper isn’t she? She told me she used to pose for magazines. I even think I remember her, that’s why I had her dye her hair red again. I decided to use her as my own experiment and to demonstrate the power of the drug to the Cubans. I even offered her to them as a sex toy, but they weren’t interested. Can you imagine that, not interested?” He stroked Alana’s hair. “Oh well, parting is such sweet sorrow.” He leaned over and kissed her on the lips. Newcombe stood up abruptly, his expression different, now angry. He came right up to Ryan until his face was only a few inches away from his. Ryan wanted to lunge at him, hit him. But all he could do was sit motionless and listen. “You stupid asshole!” the blond man yelled into Ryan’s face. “You fucked up everything! If you hadn’t meddled in this you’d be back in your fancy law firm still bilking your fat cat clients and this little honey would be back in Maryland waiting for her hubby to pull out of it. It’s your fault Mr. Butler that you’re both going to die. And now I have to start all over again because of you.”
Newcombe sat down on the railing next to Ryan. The anger faded from his voice and he now sounded apologetic. “I didn’t set out to hurt anyone. Hell, I could have killed Rick Shannon and Daniel Costas if I had wanted to. But no, I decided to give them a chance—maybe they’d eventually wake up from their comas after I was gone. I’m really not a bad man—I served my Country well. I didn’t want to kill the professor but he went off the deep end after you visited him. He would have ruined everything so I had no choice. You caused him to die Mr. Butler.” The blond man turned, looking into Ryan’s eyes. “I’m not going to enjoy seeing you two die. I’ve never killed anyone in my life. The professor killed himself you see. He put the gun to his head and he pulled the trigger—not me. The same with you two. I’ll just give the suggestion to shoot and then look away—that way my conscience is clear—you killed each other, I didn’t kill you. I don’t think you can be convicted of murder in a court of law for merely suggesting that two people shoot each other. You’re a lawyer Mr. Butler, do you think I could be convicted of murder for that? Say no.” “No,” said Ryan. “Good that’s what I thought. My conscience is clear. Let’s get this over with before I change my mind. Are you both ready? Answer yes!” Ryan and Alana both answered yes. “Now let me give you some weapons instructions. Just lift the gun up to eye level and aim. When I tell you to fire just squeeze the trigger. Don’t pull it, just squeeze. Simple huh? Just remember to keep the gun steady and aim for the chest. O.K. I want you to lift your guns and aim.” Against all his will Ryan felt his arms raise, lifting the gun to eye level, pointing straight towards Alana. The boat was slightly rocking but he still managed to keep her chest in line with the barrel of the revolver. Across from him Alana was pointing her pistol towards him.
“Very good,” said the blond man. Inside Ryan was silently screaming and but his aim remained steady. “On the count of three, but not until I say fire.” Ryan kept thinking no, don’t do this, over and over again in his head, don’t do this! “One.” “Two.” “Three. “Fire!” They both squeezed their triggers. Alana’s lighter gun went off a split second before Ryan’s gun and the bullet ripped through Ryan’s left bicep, jerking him backwards just as his bullet sailed out through the barrel of his gun. His shot winged past Alana’s head about three inches from her right ear. The impact of the bullet shattered Ryan’s arm and violently spun him around and down against the boat railing. His chest and arm crashed against the top of the railing and the momentum from the collision knocked him sprawling back onto the boat deck. “Shit!” said the blond man when he turned around and saw what happened. “You even fucked this up!” he screamed. We’re going to have to do it again.” But when he saw the blood flowing out of Ryan’s arm, he realized he would just have to dump them overboard. At first, all Ryan could feel was a surge of brutal crippling pain; his entire left side was on fire. Ryan recognized the pain; he had felt it years ago when the telephone pole has smashed through the car door and crushed his arm and ribs. A surge of white-hot anger quickly replaced the pain. It was more than anger, it was a savage primeval rage. Adrenalin was pumping through his blood as his body’s survival instinct kicked in. He wanted to attack, kill, to fight to the death and in his rampage he realized he was free, he could move. He reached for his gun on the deck in front of him. He grabbed it with his right arm
just in time to see the blond man charging towards him, closing fast. He lifted the gun, aimed it toward the blond man, and fired. The blond man was less than a foot away when the first bullet burst through his stomach. Newcombe staggered back with a look of disbelief, and then crashed backwards onto the deck. Ryan fired again and again with abandon until all he could hear was the empty click of the gun. The anger subsided as quickly as it had surged, replaced by a wave of nausea. It took all of his strength, but he forced himself to lift his head up and survey the deck. The blond man was lying on his back, motionless, in a pool of blood. Alana was still sitting by the side of the boat still holding the gun in her hand. “Put the gun down!” Ryan ordered in the most authoritative voice he could muster. She responded and lowered the gun. Ryan examined his wound. Through the blood and ripped flesh, he could see the stark white of his jarred bone. The blood now covered his arm and most of his chest and it felt warm and sticky against his flesh, oozing down his side and legs. “Alana!” he ordered. “Come over here and help me.” She stood up and walked over to him. “Pull off your tee-shirt.” She pulled it over her head. “Now twist it. Twist it into a rope. That’s right—good—stop. Now tie it around my arm, near the top of my shoulder.” She leaned over him and tightened the tee-shirt tourniquet around the top of his arm. The flow of blood slowed. He knew he should try to crawl into the galley and radio for help, or at least get out of the sun. But he didn’t have the strength. Everything was getting dimmer. He laid his head back against the railing and he could hear Alana breathing next to him. He’d get up in a minute he told himself; he just had to rest for a while. He looked up at the sky. It
was a deep dark blue. Bluer than the sky in Montana. The darkest blue he had ever seen, almost black. Everything faded away.
THIRTY-TWO Friday, August 8, 1986 Brahms stood staring out the window of his office on the top floor of the CIA Satellite office in Washington. From this vantage, he had a clear view of the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial in the distance. On his desk laid his letter of resignation. Years ago, he had been asked to resign and had refused, but now it was his choice, his only honorable choice. In his letter of resignation, he took full blame for the botched operation, although he knew it wasn't entirely his fault. If the field agent at the Paradise Lounge had followed orders and hadnâ€™t abandoned his post to chase down Butler, then Newcombe probably never would have escaped. If Agent Girard hadn't recommended canceling surveillance, then Mr. Butler would never have journeyed to the island. No, it wasn't entirely his fault but it was his responsibility and he would shoulder the blame. It's the way the Agency worked. The way the world worked. In retrospect, he should have ordered Newcombe arrested when they first identified him at the Baltimore-Washington Airport. It had been a mistake not to, and he alone was to blame for that decision. He had taken a calculated risk that didn't pan out. He had taken many a calculated risk in the past, eventually one was bound to blow up on him. Usually his instincts were right but maybe he was losing his touch, getting too old. Brahms walked back to his desk and sat down in his chair. Sitting on the desk was a small brass clock that his wife had given him when he had first been promoted to deputy director. It chimed on the hour and she said it was to remind him to come home for dinner. It hadn't worked and it was a rare evening when he sat down to a meal across from her. Many evenings, when a crisis was brewing, he didn't go home at all. His couch converted into a bed and his bathroom was
equipped with a shower and stocked with toiletries. He kept a change of clothes and several fresh suits in the closet. In many ways, his office was his home. Maybe the time really had come for him to retire, he thought. He was in his mid-sixties and perhaps he should grab at the chance to slow down, take it easy and enjoy the rest of his life. It would mean an opportunity to spend some time with his daughter and grandchildren. With all his work, he didn’t see much of them. He wandered around his office, studying the pictures on the wall. Most were photographs of him shaking hands with presidents. There was Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Carter and now President Reagan. He had seen presidents come and go and he had seen CIA directors come and go. Some of the directors had been good and some had been incompetent. Nevertheless, he had given his best to each one. He had always looked them in the eye and told them what he thought, fairly and honestly. No ‘yes’ man was he, and he knew the men and women in the Agency respected him for his candor. He was their point man and was always looking out for their welfare and what was best for the Agency and the Nation. He sat down on the couch in the corner of the office, the one that converted into a bed. Soon the limousine would be here to drive him over to meet the Director at the Executive Offices of the White House, just a few blocks away. Although the Director kept an office at CIA headquarters in Langley, his main office was next to the White House where he could remain close to the President. Brahms knew the Director would drill him about the case. He would have to tell him that Newcombe, the girl and the lawyer from Philadelphia had all disappeared. Three days had passed since the agent had last seen them together at the St. Jean’s Bay Resort and no clues had turned up. They had searched Newcombe’s villa and his Porsche but found nothing to suggest where he had gone. The only thing they knew is that they must have left fast. But how? Shortly after the agent
lost sight of Newcombe, they began monitoring the airports in St. Bart and St. Martin. They had also checked all tourist and commercial boats leaving the island but there were no signs of Newcombe or the others. There seemed to be only two possibilities. Newcombe was still on the island or he had somehow slipped away by private boat in the hours before the agents closed in. They were now checking all boat owners to see if anyone had rented or sold a boat to a man fitting Newcombe’s description. If he had left by private boat, perhaps to another island, he could be anywhere in the world by now. Brahms knew that the Director would ask him if they knew what Newcombe had been up to on the island. Again, he would have to tell the Director they didn’t know for sure but had a suspicion. The day after Newcombe disappeared, the Cuban attaché from Venezuela, Rafael Valez, had flown to the island and shown up at the Paradise Lounge at the St. Jean's Bay Resort. He had sat down at a corner table and waited. The agents watched him for two hours as he sat alone, drinking Coca-Colas and checking his watch. Twice he got up to make telephone calls and once to go to the bathroom. Finally, he left, storming out past the bar and through the lobby. He took a taxi back to the airport and caught the next flight back to Venezuela. The Director would also ask about Mr. Butler and Mrs. Shannon. Why did Mr. Butler go to the island? Hadn’t Agent Girard reported after the interrogation that Mr. Butler was fully repentant and wouldn't cause any more trouble? What was he doing on the island? Had he been part of the whole conspiracy, whatever it was? Did he go down to alert them? More likely, he had meddled too much and been killed. Brahms knew they would probably never find his body. And Mrs. Shannon, what was her role in all of this? Was she part of the plot, as Girard and Wolaski thought, or just another innocent victim?
Brahms also knew that with the disappearance of the Philadelphia lawyer, any hope the agency had of keeping the episode under wraps had vanished. They could probably keep it out of the papers, but there would be still be embarrassing questions and investigations from the president’s people and members of the secret congressional intelligence oversight committee. His intercom buzzed. "The limousine is ready for you sir."
Brahms arrived back in his office just at the chimes rang 5 PM on the brass clock. The Director had reluctantly accepted Brahms resignation. It was all a charade. Brahms didn’t really want to resign and the Director really did not want him to go. But it had to be done. It was the right thing to do to protect the Agency and the President. The resignation would be effective in six weeks. How was he going to tell his wife he had resigned? He couldn’t tell her why. Would she be happy or upset? He decided to surprise her and show up early for a dinner. No better yet, he would take her out to dinner. But first, he had to take care of a few small matters, sign a few letters and review a few memorandums. Before he knew it, the clock was chiming again. Now it was 6 PM. He told himself it was time to leave, but it was hard to pull away. He tried to imagine no longer sitting behind his big old desk with the CIA seal and the American Flag behind him; no more invitations to dinners at the White House, travels around the globe, frantic middle of the night phone calls, and meetings with dignitaries behind closed doors. In a few weeks, his entire life would change. He knew it would be difficult transition to leave the intoxicating excitement of power and influence. He called his wife to tell her he was taking her out to dinner. She was both astonished and suspicious. "What's going on?" she asked “Meet me in front of the Willard Hotel at seven and I’ll tell you then.” He hung up and, out of habit, began packing his briefcase with unclassified administrative work to review at home
after dinner. He then caught himself and stopped, not tonight! He left the half-filled briefcase lying on the desk and walked out of the office empty-handed, feeling naked without it.
THIRTY-THREE Same Day Friday was Marcel Dumontâ€™s day off from the Paradise Lounge and he and his daughter, Louisa, would often walk together down the long winding road to Gustavia. Louisa was five and his favorite. Marcel also had an older son, but Louisa was special. Gustavia was St. Barts largest city and port, although it was too shallow for cruise ships or large cargo ships to enter. Most of the supplies to the island had to be loaded offshore in the bay and then ferried by smaller boat into port. The town sat at the base of the mountains and was the islandâ€™s main commercial center. At the front of town, close to the dock area and its rectangular harbor, there was a row of expensive shops and restaurants to serve the tourists; pastel colored boutiques with names like Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, and Cartier in their windows. There were also many restaurants with French names with outside tables set with flowers, fine crystal and china. Further back away from the waterfront were the commercial stores for the islanders, the grocery market, bakery, hardware and dry goods store. It was about a mile and a half downhill walk from Marcel's house to Gustavia. Ahead of Marcel, Louisa skipped and bounded down the steep road, her pigtails swaying back and forth as she ducked under the palm and banana trees that infringed on the path. The walk down was always relaxing, filled with beautiful vistas of the ocean and, on clear days you could see the island of St. Martin off in the distance. Hibiscus and oleander grew everywhere and the roadside was thick with deep red bougainvillea. The difficult part of the trip was the hike back. By then, Louisa would be tired and Marcel would have to carry her on his shoulders, or sometimes they would give in and take the island bus.
Marcel and Louisa had formed a ritual on these Fridays. The main purpose of the trip was to pick up rice, vegetables, and other groceries at the market. But first, they would stroll through the tourist area, gazing at the expensive stores and restaurants. Louisa was always fascinated to watch the rich tourists eating their lunches in the restaurants and wondered why they never ate there. Marcel would often spot celebrities dining or shopping in town. Afterwards, they would buy ice cream cones and sit by the waterfront to watch the elegant yachts and sailboats come and go; rich Americans and Europeans sailing around the Caribbean in comfort and luxury. Around eleventhirty, the tour boats would arrive carrying passengers from St. Martin. The taxis would line up in front of the harbor to meet the vacationers and give them tours of the island. They would take some of them to St. Jean’s Bay for lunch and then to the more remote beaches to swim and collect shells. They would return by mid afternoon to load the tourists back on their boats. As they were licking their ice cream cones, Marcel noticed a crowd growing at the far end of the harbor. Grabbing Louisa by the hand, they started walking towards the commotion. Marcel heard an approaching siren and turned around to see an ambulance making its way through town, passing them, and heading to the crowd. Marcel quickened the pace. When he arrived at the scene, the police were trying to keep the crowd back from the dock area. On the outskirts of the crowd, Marcel approached a man and a woman both wearing Club Med tee shirts. “What’s going on?” Marcel asked. “They just towed in a boat with some bodies. I heard somebody say the people had been shot. We can't really see anything from here.” “Shot?” repeated Marcel. He told Louisa to wait while he edged his way through the crowd trying to get a closer view. The police were asking people to move aside to form a pathway for the ambulance and through the
temporary opening Marcel got a quick glimpse of three bloodstained bodies laid out on the wooden planks of the dock. He froze. It was Mr. York, his fiancée, and the crazy man from the bar. Marcel stood staring at the bodies. A medic was kneeling in front of the woman, checking her pulse. After a few minutes, they backed the ambulance up to the dock area and loaded the woman and the crazy man into the back. They left Mr. York lying on the deck. The ambulance pulled away with its siren screaming. After a while, one of the officials came over and placed a blanket over Mr. York's body. Across the crowd, Marcel recognized someone talking energetically to police officers. He was one of the sailboat captains from St. Martin who ferried tourists back and forth to St. Barts. He often came to the Paradise Lounge for a few drinks after dropping off his passengers. Marcel managed to squeeze through the crowd and flag his attention. “What happened?” Marcel asked. The sailboat captain told him that he had first seen a white cabin cruiser about two days ago anchored in the ocean about half way between St. Barts and St. Martin. He thought nothing of it until he noticed it was still there the following day. It was very unusual for a sailor to anchor a boat overnight in the ocean, especially with two safe harbors so close. When the boat was still there this morning, he decided to investigate. He told his passengers he was taking a short detour and pulled his boat up against the cabin cruiser. As he approached, he took down his sails and used his engines to maneuver up to boat. The sea was choppy and both boats were bobbing up and down with the waves. When he was about ten feet from the cabin cruiser, a large wave hoisted his boat up over the other boat, giving all on board a clear view of the cabin cruiser’s rear deck. “Some of the women screamed,” the sailboat captain said. “There were three bodies lying in a pool of red water. I radioed for help.”
The arrival of a black hearse interrupted their conversation. Several men sprang out and lifted York’s body into the back. As the hearse drove off the crowd began to disperse. Marcel turned around to search for Louisa. He found her sitting on the grass under the shifting shade of a palm tree intently licking the remains of her ice cream cone. Marcel sat down beside her and took her hand. He felt like crying, remembering Mr. York at the bar, the day he bought the expensive champagne, smiling with his hand resting on Marcel's shoulder, calling him, ‘my friend’. Louisa climbed up onto his lap and hugged him. She could sense that something was wrong. “Why would anybody want to kill Mr. York?” he said aloud and shook his head with a mixture of bewilderment and rage. “He was such a good man.”
CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR Sunday, August 10, 1986 Ryan drifted in and out of consciousness. He dreamed he was still on the boat, alternately burning in the sun, then freezing in the dark. He dreamed he was back pitching in the minor leagues, except he was wearing his lawyerly business suit. Then he was flying in a plane and people were hovering over him talking, sticking things in his arm. Later he dreamed he was on a hospital gurney and nurses were talking to him but he couldn’t understand what they were saying. He dreamed he was twenty-one again and was making love to Elaine in the back of the Bentley. For a long time he had difficulty distinguishing his dream world from reality. He awoke with a numbing pain in his left arm and realized he was encased in an upper body cast. For a moment, he thought he was back in the hospital in Ohio, the one they took him to the night of the crash. “Was I in a car accident?” he groggily asked the nurse. “No, you were shot.” “Shot?” “In your left arm.” “My pitching arm?” The nurse looked at him puzzled. “You’re lucky to be alive—a few inches to the left and the bullet would have gone through your heart.” “Where am I?” “You’re in Miami; they flew you here last night.” He drifted back to sleep. Later that same night he woke up in a panic screaming for the nurse.
“What is it?” the nurse said as she came running. “What happened to the girl who was with me, Alana? Is she O.K.?” “They flew her here with you. She’s somewhere in the hospital. I understand she’s going to recover. Now try and get some rest.” Ryan closed his eyes, relieved, and drifted back to sleep.
When Ryan awoke in his hospital bed the next morning, Elaine was sitting in a chair next to him. She was dressed in business attire, a dark red designer suit with large shoulder pads. She was staring at him with a look of disgust. “Are you awake?” she asked. “Yes,” said Ryan, not sure he wasn’t still dreaming. He was still woozy from the painkillers. “I flew in late last night,” she said. “The police called me yesterday and told me you’d been shot. They say you’ll recover but it will take some time. They also told me you’re under investigation for murder; part of a love triangle.” Her voice was calm but accusatory. “Huh?” said Ryan, now starting to wake up. “Honestly Ryan, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe you’d be so stupid to get yourself mixed up in something so sordid. I had no idea you were involved with another woman—no wonder you’ve been acting so strangely lately. But murder! “That’s not what happened at all…,” Ryan started to say. “Well then tell me what did happen?” she snapped. Ryan told her about the CIA and the renegade agent abducting Alana; the hypnosis experiments; and how he had come down to St. Barts to rescue her.
She looked at him incredulously. “You’re either hallucinating or you’re in great need of professional help Ryan. What kind of drugs are they giving you?” “I don’t know.” “The police here don’t have a lot of details but they say that you and this woman were having an affair but she was also involved with another man, the one they say you murdered. They wouldn’t tell me who the woman is. They said that it appears that some sort of quarrel occurred on a boat over the woman and in the ensuing fight both of you were shot—except the other man died from the gunshot wounds.” “So Newcombe is dead?” Ryan said, the seriousness of his situation starting to sink in. “Who’s Newcombe? The man you murdered was named York.” “I didn’t murder anyone, it was self defense. And that’s not how it happened—that’s just what the CIA wants you to believe.” Elaine shook her head sadly. “The CIA, Ryan? Really? Ned told me you kept telling him you were involved with the CIA. Ryan, it’s all in your head—the CIA has nothing to do with any of this. You know, Ned was worried about you do he did some checking around using his contacts in Washington. The CIA has never heard of you!” “Of course they would deny it!” Elaine sighed, “Ryan you’re delusional. Next it will be aliens. We’ll talk about what happened another time, when you’re more coherent. Anyway, the reason I’m here is that I’ve spoken with Ned Heaton and he’s recommended a top-notch criminal trial lawyer, a good friend of his. Ned’s already spoken to him and he’s agreed to represent you. I’m leaving his name and number on a card here by the phone. You know Ryan; you’ve been fired from the firm. To say the least, they’re extremely upset with you—-this kind of negative publicity is very bad for the
firm’s reputation and apparently you’ve been lying to them and everybody else for a very long time.” Her voice was bitter. “But I already quit.” “That’s news to me.” I think you’re imagining things. I can’t believe you would do this to me. Cheat on me—commit murder—and bring shame to me and my family—again!” Her voice was rising to a shout. “My father was so right, I never should have forgiven you twenty years ago.” She fidgeted in her chair and looked at her watch. “Listen, I’ve got to be going. I have to catch a flight to Houston this afternoon. I’ll be in touch. Please be smart and call the attorney that Ned recommended. We have to contain the damage and keep this mess out of the newspapers. I don’t want my reputation and my family’s reputation soiled by you once again. You’re going to need a lot of legal help, Ryan, and you really should see a psychiatrist.” With that, she coolly stood up, turned abruptly, and marched out of the room.
Later that afternoon, when Ryan was feeling somewhat less drugged, the CIA came to see him. Agent Girard entered the private hospital room shutting the door behind him. “You really fucked up,” were the first words out of his mouth. “We need you to sign this affidavit!” He shoved several sheets of paper in front of Ryan. Ryan read them over. It was supposedly a statement from Ryan admitting that he had been having an affair with Alana and had been consumed with jealously when she run off on a vacation to St. Barts with another man, Mr. York. The statement went on to say that Ryan had flown down to St. Barts looking for her and the other man. He had confronted them at pool area of the St. Jean’s Bay Resort where he tried to abduct Mrs. Shannon and had to be restrained by resort employees. During the confrontation, the woman had told him to go away. However,
he continued to follow them and watched as they took off in a cabin cruiser. Ryan had then rented a speedboat and chased after them. He had drawn along side of the cabin cruiser and climbed board. A nasty argument ensued between Ryan and Mr. York. Finally, Mr. York pulled a gun on Ryan and told him to leave. A fight took place and during which the gun went off several times. One of bullets went through Ryan’s arm the other into Mr. York’s stomach killing him. “This is all bullshit,” said Ryan, “that’s not what happened at all and you know it.” Girard sat down on the bed beside him. “We have witnesses at the hotel who saw you try to take the girl with you by force. We have an affidavit from the owner of St. Barts Pleasure Crafts saying that he rented you the speedboat. Would you like to see the invoice with your signature on it?” “It’s a fake,” Ryan said. “We have the statement from the girl, Mrs. Shannon, saying that you followed them out to the cabin cruiser in the speedboat. The girl says that Mr. York threatened to kill you if you didn’t leave. She says in her statement that when you saw the gun pointed at you, you charged Mr. York and tried to wrestle the gun away. During the fight the gun went off several times, injuring your arm and killing him.” “Alana said that?” “Yes. Fortunately for you, that makes it an unpremeditated homicide involving self defense.” “I can’t believe she told you that phony story.” “She didn’t really have much choice,” Girard said with a smug smile. “We told her that as long as she stuck to that script you’d stay out of prison.”
The agent stood up again and began pacing back and forth in front of Ryan’s bed. “Here’s what will happen Mr. Butler. There will be an investigation of the incident by the authorities on St. Barts. In the end, they will conclude that you acted recklessly and provocatively, but that you shot Mr. York in self-defense. They will decide that there is insufficient evidence to bring charges against you. The case will be closed and you will be free to go. It’s already been arranged, we just need your cooperation. “But it’s all a lie,” said Ryan. “Nevertheless, I suggest you sign the affidavit. Both our agency and the authorities on St. Barts want to put this incident behind us as quickly as possible. Apparently, murder trials aren’t good for the island’s tourist industry.” “I’m not going to sign it—it isn’t true!” “You can insist on being a stickler for the truth, but you have to ask yourself whether you really want to do some significant jail time. Oh sure, it’s beautiful down there on the island, but you won’t be seeing much from a jail cell. I understand that some of the correctional facilities are pretty primitive compared to the United States. Not a place I’d want to spend one day, certainly not many, many years.” He pushed the pen towards Ryan and continued, “I can also assure you that if you do not sign the document you will be extradited and convicted; very quickly, before an Island Magistrate—no juries like back home. Besides, I told you that it’s already been decided. It turns out that their justice system moves much more swiftly than ours.” Ryan saw that he had no choice. He signed the document. After signing, Agent Girard’s face softened. “You’re a very stupid, very lucky man, Mr. Butler. I still can’t believe you went up against one of our most lethal agents and he’s dead and
you’re alive. I don’t understand why you followed them down to that island despite all our threats and warnings. I really misread you—it was all for the girl wasn’t it?” Ryan didn’t reply, but he knew it was true. “One other thing,” said Girard. “You can never tell anybody what really happened on that island. You must stick strictly to the script. If you so dare as to say one thing inconsistent with this affidavit we will take you down so hard you won’t know what hit you. We’ll slap you with every violation of national security laws we can think of and we’ll make up a few just for spite. We’ll take away everything you have. You won’t ever see the light of day again. Do you understand? ” “Yes.” “Say it again!” demanded Girard. “Yes, I understand. Everything that happened on the island is just as stated in the affidavit.” “Good,” said Girard. “Don’t dare underestimate us!” “I won’t,” said Ryan with thinly disguised contempt. Girard took the affidavit and put it unfolded in a large manila envelope. He looked at Ryan, hesitated for a second, and then spoke. “I really have to hand it to you. It certainly took a lot of balls to follow her down to that island after we told you to back off. Not too many people would have done that.” “I’ll take that as a compliment,” Ryan said. “It’s not,” Girard replied, revealing just the hint of a smile. “Do me a big favor,” asked Ryan. “What’s that?” “Get the hell of my room!”
CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE Tuesday, August 19, 1986 The Marine guard waved the long black limousine past the spiked wrought iron gates and into the driveway leading up to the Executive Offices of the White House. The driver held the door while Brahms exited and entered the massive gray stone building. It has been about two weeks since he had tendered his letter of resignation and he had come at the request of the Director, to deliver the final report on what was now known as, ‘The Newcombe Affair’. The Director's office was immense with a glass window filling one entire wall overlooking the White House lawn. The opposite wall covered by a massive map of the world. There were numerous oil paintings, mostly nineteenth-century American landscapes, and the floors were covered with oriental rugs. Elaborate gold chandeliers hung from the ceiling. The Director sat behind a wide polished desk. When Brahms entered, the Director stood up, shook his hand, and led them both to two leather wing-back chairs and a round mahogany table at one corner of the office. The Director was the same age as Brahms, sixty-six, but looked considerably younger and was in a lot better shape. He worked out every day, was an avid golfer, and had a reputation for a playing a mean game of tennis. Brahms liked him. He was a no-nonsense pragmatist, with a sharp intellect and a genuine feel for intelligence work, unlike some of the other political hacks and ideologues that had filled the position. The Director was an honorable man and Brahms knew that he could be counted on to do what was best for the Agency rather than what was best for his political career. Brahms handed him the final report, an inch thick manuscript with the CIA seal on the cover with the words ‘Top Secret’. The Director took his reading glasses out his pocket, put them
on, and perused the cover and the first few pages. He then looked back up at Brahms over the top of his glasses. “I'll read it later,” he said. “I've already reviewed your preliminary report. Since you're here why don't you summarize the major findings for me and I'll just ask you questions.” Brahms was expecting this. The director didn't like to read reports, he liked to be briefed by the people involved, study their facial expressions and read their body language. “We completed our investigation, sir and I believe we can now close the Newcombe case. The authorities on St. Barts have finished their inquiry and have concluded that the shooting arose out of a love triangle between Mr. York, Mr. Butler and Mrs. Shannon. We convinced them that it was not in their interests to pursue the matter any further and all criminal charges have been dropped.” “Do they suspect anything?” “I'm sure they do, but they're not going to ask questions. They just want the whole affair to go away—none of their citizens were involved.” “I understand that Newcombe was trying to sell the drug to the Cuban government.” "That's right, sir. On the boat, we found a briefcase containing drug samples and papers outlining its chemical formula and steps for its manufacture. We are sure the Cubans were going to buy it and that's why they sent their consular back to St. Barts. The transaction was scheduled to occur the day after Newcombe was killed.” “As I understand it, your initial intelligence report linking the girl, Mrs. Shannon, with Newcombe was erroneous. She wasn't involved in the scheme at all.” "Yes, sir. Our intelligence analysts totally misread her role in the affair. I take full blame for that.” “So what was Newcombe doing with her?”
“We don't know for sure, sir. Stepping back, we speculate that Newcombe found out that Mr. Butler had been asking questions surrounding Rick Shannon’s coma in Maryland which might expose his plans, so he returned to the States to eliminate everybody who knew anything—including Mr. Butler, the girl, and Dr. Tyback. We surmise that after he received the drugs from Dr. Tyback he then used them on him. We believe that Tyback shot himself while under the influence of the drug and at the hypnotic suggestion of Newcombe.” The Director nodded. Brahms continued. “Newcombe couldn't get to Mr. Butler because he had unexpectedly left for Montana, so he went after the girl. He must have drugged her and hypnotized her into leaving the country with him.” “Why didn't he just kill her or put her in a coma like her husband?” “Again we don’t know. He may have brought her with him to demonstrate to the Cubans the effectiveness of the drug. Also, Mrs. Shannon is an extremely attractive woman so maybe that had something to do with it.” “It's hard for me to believe that the drug could be powerful enough to induce someone to kill themselves, to shoot their brains out.” “There seems to be little doubt about the drug's power.” Brahms responded. “Our medical people have now had the opportunity to study the drug, review the papers and discuss its manufacture with Dr. Tyback's students. By the way, the students thought they were developing a drug to be used with schizophrenics. Anyway, I've learned a lot about brain chemistry in the past few weeks. A lot of progress has been made in the field since the sixties and our medical people think that Dr. Waits misunderstood how the drug was interacting with the brain. Dr. Waits thought that the drug he manufactured, Rn2, directly regulated human consciousness by chemically combining with neurons in the brain’s reticular formation. However, today we know that
consciousness is controlled by two neurotransmitters, serotonin and adrenaline, both of which are produced in the brain stem. It turns out, however, that the production of serotonin is regulated by an amino acid called tryptophan, which is very similar in molecular structure to the Rn2. We suspect the injection of Rn2 triggered the production of the serotonin, but in abnormally massive amounts.” The Director had a puzzled look on his face. “The Rn2 was just a catalyst then.” “Yes. When Dr. Waits hypnotized his subjects, he did so by giving them a special set of keywords and then injecting them with the Rn2, which in turn stimulated the production of serotonin. However, our people theorize that after repeated experiments, an association formed so that the brain began to associate the production of serotonin with the keywords used to induce hypnosis. At that point the Rn2 was no longer needed.” “Let me get this right. You mean that the brain became conditioned to produce the serotonin upon hearing the keywords and the increased levels of serotonin altered the brain’s chemistry making it extremely susceptible to hypnotic suggestion.” “Exactly! It was a classic example of Pavlovian conditioning. That's why the patients continued to go into deep hypnosis even after the Rn2 injections were discontinued.” “So what does all this tell us?” the Director asked. “It's important because it helps to explain something that really had us puzzled. How did Newcombe hypnotize Mr. Shannon and Mr. Costas without injecting them with the drug? At that time the drug had not yet been manufactured by Dr. Tyback and his students.” “I wondered about that.” “Newcombe must have uncovered the keywords that Dr. Waits had used to induce hypnosis in the subjects back in the sixties, and with those keywords he was able to again hypnotize both Shannon and Costas.” “But after all these years, would it still work?”
“Apparently so. The association between the keywords and the production of the serotonin was so ingrained in their neural networks that the keywords were still able to invoke the serotonin production. It seems amazing at first, but then you think about all of the things that we learned ages ago as children that are still with us. Some things we never forget—like riding a bike. We don't have to think about it—our brain just remembers and acts. “So you’re saying that Newcombe was able to put Mr. Shannon and Mr. Costas into hypnosis, deep hypnosis, by just invoking the keywords.” "That must be the case. There's really no other explanation.” “I assume the motive was money?” “Yes. Newcombe needed funds to get his plan going, so he hypnotized the victims to raid their assets.” The Director took off his reading glasses and put them on the table. “I’m still finding it hard to believe that a person can be put in a coma through hypnosis.” “As you know, they were in a coma-like state, but not really in a coma. They were both conscious the entire time but had been hypnotized not to move their muscles. We’re using the term hypnosis here for lack of a better label. Clearly, the Rn2 invoked a specialized state of consciousness, far different from anything that can be produced under normal hypnosis. We really don't understand how it all works. The Director thought for a while. “Where did Newcombe find the keywords to hypnotize Shannon and Costas?” “They were with Dr. Tyback’s files. Dr. Tyback still had notes on the experiment back from when he was a graduate student—something our agency missed when it was trying to recover Dr. Waits' records back in the sixties. Each participant had their own keywords, a special random sequence of eight five-letter nouns—random words that would never occur
naturally in conversation. We figure that with the names of the participants, Newcombe was able to track down at least two of them. Perhaps he just called them first and tried out the keywords to see if they still worked. Maybe he had them sing the star spangled banner or something. When he realized the keywords were still operative, he developed the scheme to swindle their money. By the way, we’ve checked out the status of all the other participants in the Wisconsin experiment and, fortunately, Shannon and Costas were the only ones contacted by Newcombe.” “Why those two?” “We don’t know for sure, maybe they were the only ones he could locate after all these years. Or possibly it’s was just because Mr. Shannon lived the closest and Costas had the most money.” “How about Mr. Shannon and Mr. Costas. What is their prognosis?” “Both are doing relatively well, considering what they’ve been through. Daniel Costas is coming around the best, but then he wasn’t in a coma as long as Mr. Shannon. Mr. Shannon is very weak, and still a bit confused. But they’re both out from under the influence of the drug, as are Mrs. Shannon and Mr. Butler.” “How?” “Once the medical people understood how the drug was acting on the brain then the antidote was fairly obvious. As I mentioned earlier, there are two primary neurotransmitters in the brain, serotonin, which is associated with sleep and relaxation and adrenaline, which is associated with mental alertness, muscle activity and aggression. Together they act in concert to regulate consciousness in mammals—adrenaline counters the effect of serotonin and vice versa. Our doctors reasoned that increasing the level of adrenaline in the brain could counteract the effects of the serotonin-induced hypnosis. It turns out that this exact approach was tried successfully by the doctors at John Hopkins on Mr. Shannon. They were able to shock him out of his comma by
injecting him with large quantities of adrenaline. Based on the success with Mr. Shannon, the same treatment was given to Mr. Costas and Mrs. Shannon. “How about Mr. Butler? How did he break free of the hypnosis?” “We surmise that when he was shot in the arm on the boat, his body responded by releasing a flood of adrenaline. This release countered the effects of the serotonin in his brain and snapped him out of the hypnosis—enabling him to regain conscious control over his body and shoot Agent Newcombe.” “Lucky for us the girl was a bad shot.” “Lucky for everybody. Fortunately, she had never handled a gun before, the weapon was heavy for her, and the boat was rocking up and down in the water. But it's scary to think what would have happened if she hadn't missed. They'd both be dead, Newcombe would be free, and the Cubans would have the drug.” The Director stood up and poured a glass of water. “Another thing I don't understand is why Newcombe didn't just kill them himself. Why set up this elaborate shooting gallery idea?” “We'll never know, sir, but there’s an interesting pattern to Newcombe's actions. He never really did directly kill anyone and Mrs. Shannon says he kept talking about his conscience being clear. We know from Newcombe's psychological profile that his life had been punctuated by fits of aggression and then long periods of remorse and guilt. Despite all his bravado, we’re not sure he would kill an innocent unarmed person, especially a woman. He had been raised with a strict moral code that only permitted the taking of human life in self-defense or in defense of family or country. I don't thing he would have hesitated to kill an enemy soldier or an attacker but this was different. These were two innocent bystanders who inadvertently got mixed up in his plot. Our shrinks think he somehow rationalized that he wasn't really responsible for their deaths if he didn't actually kill them himself.”
“Weird. So how did he get Dr. Tyback involved in the plot?” “Once again we don't know but can only speculate. We think that after reading the CIA files on the Wisconsin experiments, Newcombe went out to Wisconsin, tracked down Dr. Tyback, and somehow convinced him to re-manufacture the Rn2. Newcombe must have offered him money, which Dr. Tyback desperately needed because of his daughter—she was very ill and in need of a kidney transplant operation. Certainly, that's the only reason we can come up for a respected man like Tyback to get himself involved in this kind of a thing.” “Desperate people will do desperate things to save a loved one, especially their own child. How's his daughter doing?” “Actually, the publicity surrounding Tyback's suicide helped raise enough funds for the operation. Many people saw the reports of his suicide in the news and his daughter’s situation and sent money. I understand they even received $50,000 from one anonymous donor. So now, there's enough money for the operation. It's just a matter of waiting for a kidney to become available. It's a touch and go sort of thing.” “It would be nice to think that a little bit of good came from all of this. Will this Ryan fellow, Mr. Butler, fully recover?” “He lost a lot of blood and was pretty close to death when they took him off the boat. They gave him blood transfusions on the island and then flew him to Miami. He’s undergone several operations and I understand that the prognosis looks encouraging, although he’ll probably never regain full use of his arm. He’ll be in the hospital for at least several more weeks.” “Why the hell did he go to the island in the first place? He was warned to stay away.” “He suspected the girl was in trouble. They had been lovers. It's all in the report.”
“So what are we going to do about Butler? I know he signed the affidavit and has been warned not to talk, but will he be a loose cannon? We certainly didn’t do a very good job of assessing him before when we had our chance after the first interrogation.” “No, we certainly misread him and again I take full responsibility. However, we don’t think he’ll create any trouble, now that the girl and his friend, Rick Shannon, are out of danger. As you know, we can still bring up federal charges against him for disobeying clear instructions and bungling the agency’s operation on the Island.” “Bungling the operation?” The Director said sitting up in his chair. “There wouldn’t have been an operation without him. We should be giving the man a medal, not prosecuting him. What would have happened if Mr. Butler hadn’t come on the scene. We were getting nowhere trying to track down Newcombe and we had no idea where he was or what he was up to until Butler came along. Without Butler, it’s extremely likely that Newcombe would have been able to complete the deal with the Cubans. Even if we eventually caught up with Butler, it would have been too late. Once the Cubans had the drug, it would have certainly turned up in Moscow. Just think what they could have done with it—they could have used it against foreign diplomats or even their own people. Many powerful forces in the Kremlin are unhappy with Gorbachev’s reforms. I can envision an internal coup, slipping Gorbachev the drug, unknown to the rest of the world—Gorbachev remaining General Secretary, but others actually pulling the strings. Just think if the drug was mass-produced. It could be used to enslave a whole population. Isn’t that what Dr. Waits warned of in his first letter back to the funding institute, something about turning humans into robots?” “Yes, it was,” said Brahms. “And what if they found a way to produce the drug in a form that could be slipped into drinks—at embassy functions, for example. The whole geopolitical balance could change without anyone understanding why or how.”
“It certainly is a chilling scenario,” added Brahms. “When you think about it, we may have just avoided a major world catastrophe. Of course, there won’t be any medals for Mr. Butler—but we should watch out for him—see if there’s anyway we can help him out, without him knowing.” Brahms nodded. “We’ll see what we can do”. The Director looked at his watch. “Anything else I should know?” “Well, I think that about covers it all. I'll be glad to answer any other questions you might have after you’ve had an opportunity to read the entire report.” “Sure, sure,” said the Director, although Brahms knew he had no intention of reading it. He had heard all he needed to hear. The Director stood up and walked back over to his desk, pulled open a drawer, and brought out a sheet of paper. “I have something here for you,” he said, handing the paper to Brahms. “It’s your letter of resignation—I thought you might like to take it back.” Brahms made no effort to take it. The Director looked at him and sighed, “Don't tell me you're actually going to retire on me?” “There's something I must tell you sir; something you’re not going to like.” Brahms voice was solemn. “Go on,” said the Director raising his eyebrows. “I issued an order yesterday to destroy all the files on the Newcombe case. Everything—the original papers, the medical reports, the institute files, the test tubes containing the Rn2, even the notes from Dr. Tyback's graduate students. They've all been shredded or dumped.” The Director quietly stared at him.
“As you know sir, it’s within my legal authority as deputy director to classify, declassify and order the destruction of any agency files or evidence—I can cite you the statutory authorization. I believe that the drug is much too dangerous to unleash on the world.” The Director moved away from his desk over to the window, staring out at the White House lawn. It was empty except for a couple of men in white overalls, mowing the grass and trimming the hedges. After a long pause, he spoke, “It won't make any difference you know. We already have enough information to reproduce the drug.” “I know that sir. But it will take some special effort and desire to do so now. Yesterday it was just handed to us on our laps. It's different today. Now it becomes a question of will. Do we want to reproduce it? Do we really need it? That will be your decision sir.” The Director turned and walked back to the desk. He picked up Brahms resignation letter and put it back in his desk drawer. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe we should just let this one go. I'll have to think about it.”
CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX Wednesday, August 20, 1986 Ryan sat up in his hospital bed reading the mail that had been forwarded from Philadelphia. Most of the news was bad. There were a curt letter from Duke and Associates terminating his employment. Apparently, for public relations reasons, Duke and Associates had decided to ignore his letter of resignation so they could make a public show of firing him. There was also a letter from the divorce attorney representing Elaine rescinding the previous fifty/fifty settlement offer, “… based on new evidence concerning your behavior prior to your recent separation.” A new settlement proposal was included giving Ryan just twenty percent of their combined assets. The letters did not surprise Ryan; he had been expecting this kind of reaction to the news of the shooting. What really galled him was that everybody believed the CIA’s cover story and there was nothing he could do to set the record straight. After all, he had signed the phony affidavit and had promised the CIA he would go along with the story. He certainly didn’t want to end up in federal prison. Besides, even if attempted to tell the truth, who would believe him? Elaine was convinced he was delusional. It was to be a secret shared forever between him, Alana and the CIA. At least he also had some good news. The government of St. Barts completed their investigation and dropped all charges. He wouldn’t have to go back to the island to testify or stand trial. Still, he was enough of a realist to recognize that the incident had permanently destroyed any hope he had of ever returning to his old job with the attorney general’s office in Pennsylvania. However, he had talked to some old friends who worked for non-profit
environmental advocacy groups and they were optimistic that there might be some opportunities for somebody with his experience and expertise. The pay would be miserable but at least he'd be doing something he could feel good about. A nurse peered into his room. “There’s a woman out here to see you Mr. Butler.” Ryan groaned thinking it must be Elaine. She had called several times to talk about the divorce and to try to convince him to seek psychiatric help. He had managed to put her off, telling her he didn’t feel well. Now it looked like she had flown back down to Miami to see him. Elaine had always been extremely persistent. He had been trying to avoid the inevitable so he told the nurse to show her in. His face brightened when Alana, not Elaine, walked into the room showing a warm radiant smile. It was the first time he had seen her since the boat. He knew that she was in the same hospital, but in a different wing. He had wanted so much to call her, but was afraid of how she would react. He had been hoping that she would call him. Her face was somewhat swollen and blotchy from the sun poisoning and there was a faint halo of purple around one eye, but she still looked gorgeous to Ryan. This was the moment he had been both longing and dreading. She was wearing a light blue dress, gold earrings, and high heels. She sat down beside him by the hospital bed and took his hand in hers. Ryan felt his fingers melt into hers. “How are you doing?” she asked with a look of concern. “Good enough, considering,” he said raising his left arm and showing her the cast and looking up at her longingly. “You know I’ve thought about you every day, wondering how you were doing.” “I’ve been thinking about you too. I was hoping you’d call.”
“I started to a couple of times but hung up. I wasn’t sure you’d want to talk to me after everything that happened—I almost got you killed.” “Oh Ryan, you saved my life. I owe everything to you.” Ryan changed the subject. “Are you well now?” “They’ve pronounced me fully recovered and I’m flying back to Maryland later this afternoon. But I wanted to see you—to thank you—and to apologize.” “Apologize for what?” “For shooting you, remember.” “Oh that. Forget it. I’m sorry for trying to shoot you too.” “O.K. we’re even,” she said holding his hand in a mock handshake. “But really, Ryan, you saved my life and Rick’s too.” “That’s not how the CIA sees it. They say my meddling nearly got us both killed.” “They’re idiots! Do you believe they actually thought that I was mixed up in all of this? That I was part of a plot to sell drugs to the Cuban government? And they just stood by while that fiend raped and beat me! I can’t begin to tell you how furious I am.” Her faced flushed full red with anger. “If you hadn’t come down to the Island, he would have killed me. And I know that Rick would still be in a coma if it wasn’t for you.” “Is Rick out of the coma then?” “Yes!” Alana said with great enthusiasm, the agitation draining from her face at the mention of his name. “I’ve spoken to him several times. He’s still weak and confused but he’ll be OK. They’re going to send him home next week so I have a lot to do to get everything ready back at the house.” She looked so happy. Ryan’s heart sank. What was he supposed to feel? Sure he was happy that Rick had recovered. But what did that mean for him and Alana. Would she go back
to Rick? For good? He had thought about this moment for weeks, afraid of what she would tell him. He decided there was no use in pretending. “I missed you so much, Alana,” he said brushing his hand against her cheeks and gazing into her eyes. She took his hand and pressed it lightly against her lips. “I owe you an explanation.” “You don’t owe me anything.” “No, I want to explain. Agent Girard told me that they told you about my past.” “It doesn’t matter,” Ryan said. “It matters to me that you know the truth. I told you when we first met that there were things in my past that I wasn’t proud of—well that was an understatement. I grew up in Dayton Ohio and ran away from home when I was sixteen. I won’t go into all the reasons but I had to get away from my stepfather. I eventually ended up in LA with all the other runaways, did some hustling and started into drugs. Eventually, I met some men who liked my looks and told me I could make big money modeling. I was flattered by the attention. I died my hair red and started doing layouts in men’s magazines under the name of Rebecca Blaze—also did some stripping at local clubs. The money started flowing in and soon I was out of control. I got an apartment with some other girls in West Hollywood, bought a Camaro, and was making all the rounds at the LA parties and nightclubs. I thought I really had made it. One night I was introduced to Mario Velanci—a big time drug dealer. He was good looking, rich and powerful and he made me part of his circle. I moved in with him and some other girls at his beach house in Malibu. He was very, very generous to me. He gave me everything I always thought I wanted; money, clothes, jewelry, lavish parties and more and more drugs. All I had to do in return was help him out sometimes by sleeping with his friends or business associates. I gave up stripping, but
continued doing modeling and even made a couple of videos. All the time I was getting more and more hooked on cocaine. I was so young; stupid and crazy.” Ryan held her hand tighter. “One night I came back from a party, high and drunk as usual. When I got near the house it was swarming with cops. There were flashing lights everywhere. I panicked and went to a friend’s apartment. Later I learned that Mario had been busted and I was wanted as a witness for questioning. I may have been dumb, but I knew that my life wouldn’t be worth much if I started talking to the cops about what I had seen and who I knew—you don’t mess around with those people. So I took off for Tucson. I had a friend there—a girl I used to strip with at one of the clubs in LA. She had left the business and moved back home to Arizona. She took me in and helped me get off drugs. I changed my name, went back to my natural hair color, got a job as a waitress, and even began taking courses towards my high school diploma. I went by the name of Priscilla Blunt. I wanted to make it sound as un-exotic as possible.” “I thought you lived in Atlanta?” Ryan asked. “That was later. All the time I was in Tucson I was so afraid that somebody would recognize me from the magazines. Sometimes men would look at me strangely, but I was never sure. Finally, it happened at the restaurant where I worked. A guy asked me straight out if I was Rebecca Blaze. I told him I had no idea who Rebecca Blaze was. But he persisted—kept showing up, following and harassing me. Finally he told me he knew who I was and he knew there was a warrant out for my arrest. I don’t know how he knew, but he did. He told me he’d turn me in to the authorities if I didn’t have sex with him. There wasn’t much I could do—I certainly couldn’t call the police. So I gathered all my savings and took off for Atlanta that same night.” “What happened there?”
“First of all I changed my name again, to Alana—really dumb name.” “I think its beautiful,” Ryan said and she laughed. “It’s so stupid. I just looked up at the ‘Welcome to Atlanta’ sign when I arrived at the airport and there it was. It’s just Atlanta without the two ‘t’s. Ryan grinned. “I never thought of that.” “Anyway, I was hired as a receptionist during the day and went to school at night finishing my GED. Then I enrolled at the community college. I was determined to make something of my life. I avoided men as much as I could. Finally, I earned my Associates Degree last year and was hired by the insurance underwriting company in Atlanta—my first professional job—I was really proud of myself!” “That’s when you met Rick?” “Right. I’ve told you the story. Rick was so different from the other men I had known in my life. I just knew I could trust him—that he would love me and take care of me. I just wanted to have a normal life, a home, kids and little league. You know—the American dream. I remember you asked me if it was hard to adjust to a small town like Middleton. Not at all. It was everything I wanted, to be as far away as possible from LA and my crazy past. Then it all turned into a nightmare when Rick disappeared that night. A horrible nightmare until you came along to save us.” “Does Rick know about your background?” She looked up at him, surprised and hurt. “Of course he does. You don’t think I would marry him and not tell him about my past. It was hard for him at first but then he told me it didn’t matter who I used to be—what mattered was who I was now.” Ryan fell silent for a moment, thinking about Rick’s words. “I made a big mistake when I was young too.” Ryan said. “Did Rick ever tell you about the accident?”
“I know he was in a car crash that ended his baseball career—that’s why he has that little limp. He also said that a girl was killed in the accident. But that’s all. I didn’t know it had anything to do with you. I didn’t even know who you were until you showed up in Middleton last month.” “The accident was my fault—I was the driver.” She looked up surprised. “Do you want to tell me about it?” Ryan thought about it for a long time. “No,” he finally said. “It doesn’t really matter anymore does it? I’ve been paying for it for a very long time—too long.” They sat quietly holding hands, as he worked up the courage to ask the question he had been dreading. “Are you going back to Rick? Permanently?” She sighed and gave him a soft smile. “Ryan, maybe if I had met you first, things might have turned out very differently. But he’s my husband and I love him. And he needs me now more than ever.” She squeezed his hand. Ryan struggled not to let his disappointment show. This was the answer he had expected, but his heart was still breaking. He wanted so much to run away with Alana. To start a new life together with her. Now he knew that could never be. Alana started to say something and then stopped. Instead, she stood up regaining her composure. “I better run. I’ve have some last minutes things to do before I leave for the airport.” She began to pull her hand away, but Ryan took it and held it against his chest. “Will I see you again?” She smiled and shook her head. “Only as friends.” She leaned over and gave him a soft kiss on his forehead. “Goodbye Ryan Butler,” she said, her voice starting to break-up. Ryan watched as she turned and disappeared. He heard the click of her heels fade, out the doorway and down the hall. Then the sound stopped. There was a long pause and the clicks
grew louder again. She came back into the room, over to his bed, and crawled up beside him, placing her arm around his waist and burying her face between his neck and the pillow. He pulled her close with his good arm as her body trembled. He held her tight and felt the wet warmth of her tears against his cheek. He didnâ€™t want to let her go. It was the longest and shortest, happiest and saddest moment of his life.