Tears of the Princess
By Melodie Thomas
Edited by Holly Hart
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
The call from Kathy Walsh put a lot of activities in motion. We had agreed to meet in her office on Wednesday, and I immediately booked tickets for Tuesday. The rest of Sunday and Monday were spent gathering up as much evidence as I could get my hands on from my own files, those which Tina had, and a call to Paula netted me her records as well as the medical records from Doctor Gibson, Stephanie’s initial Physician.
Both Paula and Tina delivered their material to me on Monday and both spend a lot of time on the back patio with Lin Vin, while I was not invited. I was really starting to get frustrated with all of the private conversations that I was not allowed to be part of. It was no secret to any of the three of them that I hate people talking about me, and wondering what they were saying was driving me crazy. I have to admit, there was a lot of smiling and laughing, but I still did not like it.
Tuesday morning, Lin and I finished our packing and headed to the airport for our flight to Baltimore. We boarded our flight for the first leg, a four hour flight to Atlanta, taking our first class seats.
“So, how was your visit with Paula and Tina yesterday?” I ask, no longer able to contain myself, and since nothing had been offered.
Lin laughed, “That just drives you crazy doesn’t it? Someone talking about you, and not knowing what they are saying.”
I forced a smile, “Am I that obvious?”
“Yes,” Lin smiled, “and I apologize, because I have been doing it on purpose.”
“What, not telling me?”
“Yes, because I wanted you to know how it felt to be intentionally kept in the dark.”
I felt my anger rising, “So, this has been a game?”
“No, my Love,” Lin took my hand, “not a game. Think of it as a prelude to an agreement.”
Lin scooted around in her seat so she was mostly facing me. She lifted my hand to her lips and kissed my knuckles. “I love you Dan McNeil and, though you have never said it, I know you love me. So, between hopefully, life partners, I want to make an agreement that I will never keep anything from you, and in return you will promise never to keep anything from me. I will tell you everything, open and honestly, regardless of the embarrassment or pain, and I want the same thing from you. You tell me what is on your mind and always be open and honest with me. Can you agree to that?”
I sat and looked into her eyes for a few minutes, thinking about what she said. The fact was, I was in love with her, and no, I had never said it straight out. I wanted her in my life and as my partner.
“I will only keep something from you, Lin, if it is necessary to protect you.”
“No, Dan, not even then. I want to know what the facts are, all the time. I want to be your partner, your friend, and maybe, someday,” Lin smiled, “your lover. You keep nothing from me, not even the scary stuff, and I will do the same.”
I smiled, “That would mean a slight change in character for me.”
Lin laughed loud enough to get the attention of the people across the aisle, “That will be a major change in character for you, but I will help, if you really want that kind of relationship with me.”
With the layover and connection out of Atlanta, we did not arrive at Dulles International Airport until nearly 8:30pm that night. After getting our luggage, a rental car, driving to Baltimore and checking into the hotel, we had to settle for a quick dinner at a greasy spoon next door. The next morning, we were both up early, had breakfast at the hotel and started the GPS driving search for the offices of The Baltimore Sun.
Regardless of the benefits of modern technology, we were still about a half hour late when one of the newspaper receptionists escorted us to Kathy Walsh’s office. The receptionist knocked on the door, opened it, without a response, and stepped aside to let us enter. In the center of the office was a fairly large desk piled with various papers and books. Through a hole in the papers, I could see a mid-forties, slightly overweight woman with short dark hair and dark rimmed glasses. She was feverishly pounding away on a keyboard for a computer that I could not see through the mounds of papers.
“Give me a minute,” she said without looking up from the keyboard. “You’re late, sit.”
Lin and I took the two visitor chairs in front of the desk. A quick visual tour of the office showed that not only were there mounds of paper on her desk, but about every flat surface in the room was also filled with stacks of papers, books and magazines. There was also a very strong smell of cigarette smoke in the air, though no ashtray was visible.
Walsh continued working on her keyboard for about a minute before hitting another button with great flair, leaning back in her chair and staring at the screen for a moment. She then spun her chair so she was looking at us through the stacks of paper on the desk.
“Former Special Agent Daniel McNeil, Mary Beth sings some pretty high praises for you and said I should listen to what you have to say,” Walsh said, with what I detected as some attitude.
“I have a story to tell, and some evidence to back it up, if someone is interested in listening.” I said, with a bit of my own attitude.
“Why did you leave the FBI?” Walsh asked.
“I was forced to resign as part of a cover-up, a cover-up that I would like to tell you about.”
Walsh nodded, “I have heard of many cover ups, and every former employee has an axe to grind, why should you be any different?”
I looked at her for a moment, “Sorry for wasting your time.” I said, standing and picking up my briefcase.
Lin reached out and grabbed my arm, “Are you two going to spend the morning trying to show who has the biggest balls, or are we going to get any work done?” Lin asked.
Walsh started laughing, “Now there is a lady that I like.” She stood and grabbed a note pad and a couple of pens, “Come with me, and let’s find a place that we can talk.”
More being forced by Lin than anything else, we followed Walsh out of her office, down a short hall and into a conference room that contained a table, six chairs and a water cooler, nothing else. I already decided I did not like this woman and was no longer in the mood to open up all of my dirty laundry to someone who couldn’t care less. If it had not been for Lin all but dragging me, I would have gone right out the front door and caught the first flight for home.
“Okay,” Walsh said as she closed the door, “what is this story about? Mary Beth did not have any details and said you would provide them.”
I still had my feathers ruffled and was not in the mood to be open right now, so I just sat there.
“Dan?” Lin prompted.
I looked at Lin then back to Walsh, “How about a story about U.S. citizens being kidnapped, being put through a forced sex change, brainwashed and turned into international assassins? All of which is either done by our government or, at least, most likely, funded to some extent by our government. Would that interest you?”
Walsh sat there and studied me for a moment, “Normally, someone would bring me a story like that and I would laugh them all the way to the National Enquirer, where that crap belongs. However, I have a lot of respect for Mary Beth and if she says I should listen, then I will listen, at least for a little while, at least until the aliens start landing. Why don’t you start at the beginning and tell me this story.”
I laid my briefcase on the table and opened it, taking out over a dozen file folders and CDs. “This is not just a story, but I will let you decide that.”
Over the next six hours, we had coffee and sandwiches brought in, as I started with the recovery of Stephanie in the desert outside of Tucson and proceeded to tell what happened all the way through her death. For each part of the story that I had supporting evidence, I laid the file folders with that evidence in front of Walsh as I continued to talk. In the beginning, she was just sitting and listening to me, with the look in her eye that she would waste an hour or so, for the sake of her friend, and then get rid of this nutcase. As the story started to unfold with the involvement of Smith, the assassination attempt in Albuquerque, the overseas trips, use of the SEAL teams, military bases and possible involvement of the CIA, Walsh spent far more time writing notes, asking questions and reviewing the files I gave her.
Walsh stopped me at times to make a phone call, asking someone to find some piece of information, usually from a news source, to support something I had told her. Other times she stopped me to receive a phone call, or someone would knock on the door and hand her some papers or a folder. She would spread the papers out on the table and we would go through them again. She had the news reports of the compound in Arizona, the shooting in Albuquerque, the assassination of Garcia in the Albuquerque prison, the bungalow explosion in Hawaii, the death of Doctor Carson and the suicide of Ivan Vasnev. Anything that could be found in the media, she had copies of.
I gave her the list of names of people involved in the case, including Mike Holiday, the Vasnevs, ‘Joshua Smith’, Ryan Sloan, Charkov and the Brajoviks. I gave her copies of the pictures that I had of Smith, Anya Brajovik and the unknown suspected shooter from New York.
I also laid out for her the legal cases that had been brought against me in the investigation following Stephanie’s death, a listing of the charges, the evidence against me, the names of the attorneys from Justice and the FBI, and how all of it disappeared once I took a volunteer resignation. With Lin’s help, we told Walsh about the Thailand kidnapping case, the old hotel in Malaysia and the possible tie to the Brajoviks and the name the Thailand government gave us of Lt. General Zackary Williamson.
It was nearly four in the afternoon when I started running out of story to tell, and Walsh started running out of questions on the timeline she was building in her notebook.
“Wow,” Walsh said, during a rare period of lull in the conversation, “there is a lot of shit here and enough of it provable that begs a lot of questions to be asked.”
“Right after the raid on the island,” I said, “where Ms. Atkins was killed, there was a congressional investigation started, looking at the same evidence. However, within a couple of months, things started to change, stories changed, evidence started disappearing. I am convinced that there are people out there that heard the original stories and saw the changes, too. I just don’t know who they are.”
“There is one more piece of evidence that you need to hear.” Lin said, reaching into her purse, pulling out her cell phone. “Sorry, Dan, I broke our agreement already and did not tell you about this, but I was nervous when Mr. Holiday came to your house.”
Lin sat her phone on the table, selected an audio file, and hit play. What came out of the speakers set both Walsh and me back in our chairs. Lin had recorded Mike’s rant about the President being involved.
“That,” Walsh said, with eyes wide after the recording ended, “was Mike Holiday, the regional director of the FBI?”
“Yes.” I answered.
“Hooolllly shit, this could be fun. It could also be dangerous as hell and will take some careful planning on how to attack it. Now, you are still working the Asia angle to this case, correct?”
“Yes, we hope to spring a trap on some of the kidnappers in about two weeks. We need to keep that quiet, though.” I stressed, a little concerned.
“I understand, I understand,” Walsh said, raising her hands to slow me down. “I want you to be successful, along with anything you learn, but that gives me some time to work through an angle of attack and see what we can dig up. I want to get something published on this, something vague, to see if I can shake a few trees and see if anything falls out.”
Walsh paused for a moment in thought, “I tell you what, let’s meet for dinner tonight, say eight-ish, and I will draft up something. I want you to read it. Call it the opening jab, or more a probing jab.”
It was twenty minutes after the hour of eight o’clock, when Walsh finally showed up for our eight o’clock dinner. I spotted her shuffling her way through the crowd, dressed in the same clothes we seen her in earlier, carrying a briefcase.
“Sorry,” Walsh said as she approached our table. “It has been a very long but interesting day.”
She sat her briefcase on the chair, opened it, and took out a sheet of paper. “Unless you object,” she said, handing the paper to me, “this is going to hit the online edition at two in the morning and will be in the print edition at six. Also, it should be on the national wire by four am.”
I took the sheet of paper and started reading, with Lin looking over my shoulder.
Katharine Walsh – Baltimore Sun
A new story, being broken today by the staff of the Baltimore Sun, may once again, prove the age-old adage that truth is often stranger than fiction, and may expose a government cover-up that would rival the stories from Roswell, New Mexico in the 1950’s. The story of human trafficking and forced prostitution are not new to this reporter, nor should they be to the public. We all know it happens, and we all know it happens within our beloved country. However, this story comes with a twist. A twist in which the victims are not women or children, but young men who are kidnapped and forced to change their sex from male to female through violent torture, brainwashing and drugs. The most frightening part of the story is there is evidence that our own government is either involved in, or covering up the activity for some perceived gain.
The trail of evidence started in the desert outside to Tucson, Arizona in 2008, where a transsexual woman, nearly dead, was found abandoned, naked, in the desert. Medical evidence showed this person had been tortured, severely beaten and drugged. An investigation was started by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and evidence was found that linked this case to other bodies found in the past, which had never been identified. Initially, the victim was thought to be part of a forced prostitution or pornography ring, but later evidence started to show the scale was much larger, much more involved and perhaps, international.
As the case continued to expand, so did the participants. Two prominent psychiatrists, with known direct ties to the our Central Intelligence Agency became active participants, as well as a couple of shadowy figures, who kept their identities secret, but also seemed to have the same ties. There was an assassination attempt in Albuquerque and a successful assassination in the Federal prison in Albuquerque, all involving people tied to this case, all reported in the media, for difference causes.
Another piece of evidence, that raises some very serious questions, comes from our own Congress. In the summer of 2009, a Congressional committee was formed to investigate the use of the Military in the above mentioned case. For two months, thirteen esteemed members on the United States Congress reviewed the same evidence that this reporter reviewed. However, in the third month of the committee, the focus changed, and the congressional record of the committee hearings from the prior two months disappeared. What was in those records they did not want us to see?
Another conspiracy theory? A hoax? Perhaps, but there seems to be a lot of evidence tying pieces of this story together, enough that it cannot be ignored. The investigative staff at the Baltimore Sun are known for our stance against human trafficking as well as our willingness to drive hard questions to our elected officials. We believe some hard questions need to be asked here, if for no other reason than to set the record straight on missing congressional records, non-Presidential use of our Military and apparent CIA operations within the borders of the United States. This story will take some time to investigate, fill in the gaps, get to the facts, but we will. Once we do, as always, we will keep you informed.
I looked at her after finishing, “Not a lot of facts in here,” I quizzed.
Walsh shook her head, “Doesn’t need to be. That’s not what I am looking for. There is enough there to whet the appetite of the readers, but more importantly, those in Washington that were involved will know we are on the trail and that we know who they are. At the same time, I avoided any use of names, so the legal challenges cannot start. I suspect that it will be waved off as a fantasy, but those involved will be nervous behind the scenes. This is just the start of the game.”
“How do we know that?” Lin asked.
“The names of the thirteen members of the congressional committee are part of the public record. They know that, so they know we have their names. I want them to know we are going to be asking them some tough questions about the missing records, the hidden agendas, and the change in directions. These guys live and die on votes, and a few of them will be smart enough to figure out that they will get more votes leading the charge for the truth, not hiding it. Let’s give them some time to think about it and see what falls out of the trees.”
“What happens now?” I asked.
“For you, not much, be available to answer some questions now and then, if I need it. Mostly the stuff you gave me should be self-supporting. We are already pulling copies of all of the news broadcasts around that time, print sources, pictures, etc. We start asking questions from the end and move our way back. The FBI does not need to share shit with us, but congress is a different story. Everything they do has to become part of some record. We will start filling in the gaps from the back, forward.”
Walsh looked at both of us for a moment, “I want to warn you now, this is going to be a rough ride, and we are going to piss a lot of people off. If the story is true, they are going to do their best to hide it, if not, they will not like the mud being thrown and will fight back as well. I am keeping your name out of the paper for now, McNeil, but that may have to change.”
I nodded, “Those involved will already know it came from me.”
Thursday, October, 7, 2010
I woke early, with my mind instantly running back through all of the things that I told Walsh, did I forget anything, was there more? I laid there for a few minutes before realizing that sleep would not be returning. Lin was sleeping soundly as I slipped out of bed, grabbed a shirt, shoes and a towel and headed for the hotel gym on the second floor. Perhaps a good workout would calm me down.
I was twenty minutes into a thirty minute run on the treadmill, when I remembered that I had not left Lin a note on where I was going. I felt a twinge of guilt for making her worry, if she woke before I returned, but figured I would only be about another thirty minutes before returning to the room for a shower. I finished my run, drank some water and headed to the free weights. I selected two ten pound weights, and stood facing the wall for a set of straight arm shoulder side lifts. Ever since being shot in Albuquerque, my left shoulder has given me trouble with this workout, but I just closed my eyes and powered through it. I had reached the count of seven, with ten as the target, when I felt something rub against my nose, as if something just brushed my face. An instant later, as I started to open my eyes, something constricted tightly around my throat and my ability to breath stopped.
The first instinct that most people have, when someone is trying to strangle them, is to grab for the item that is wrapped round their neck, in an attempt to force it free. This defensive maneuver never works, and the instructors in the military, and at the FBI academy, stressed through hours of training that the thing that is choking you is not your enemy, the person holding it is. The other thing they stressed was that reaction time in these situations is critical. It only takes a few seconds before your eyes begin to have trouble focusing and your head becomes fuzzy, not from the lack of oxygen, but from the lack of blood flow to the brain.
Fortunately, my training and conditioning won out over survival instincts, and I did not drop the weights in my hands and grab for the thing around my neck. Even though it only took a few seconds for realization to hit me, I was already feeling the dizziness in my head. I swung the weight in my left hand downward, swinging it behind me, where I thought someone might be. I felt it contact with something hard and I heard a grunt behind me. The pressure around my throat loosened slightly. I then swung the weight in my right hand around in a sideways arc behind me, at the same time I tried to step back with my right foot. This time, the weight connected with something solid and there was another grunt, and the tightness around my throat disappeared.
I stumbled forward, away from whoever was behind me, this time dropping the weights, as I used my hands to catch myself as I hit the wall. I rolled my left shoulder against the wall and looked behind me in time to see Ryan Sloan launch a roundhouse kick towards my midsection. I got my arms in front of the kick, though not completely blocking it; I did cushion the blow somewhat. However, the impact still caused me to take a step backwards, tripping over a weight bar on the floor. I rotated as I fell; landing on my right side, instantly up on my hands and knees to get off the floor. This time I was not quick enough, as Sloan delivered an upward kick that connected the soft part of my stomach that caused me to double up, and land face first on the floor. A heavy weight crushed down on my back, as Sloan grabbed a fist full of my hair, pulling my face off the floor, I felt the rope around my neck again as the pressure tightened.
“Sorry about this, it is not personal.” Sloan said as he tightened the rope full force.
I felt the rope dig into my neck and I tried bucking him off, rolling, kicking with my heals, all having no effect. I thought I heard the scream of a woman, but the thought passed quickly from my mind as I was fighting for my life. My arms flailed around each side, trying to find something as a weapon, but nothing was within reach. My vision was fading quickly as my lungs were screaming for air. I felt my eyes starting to bulge. Then I heard it again, the scream of a woman, but a different voice. The weight on my back jerked, and then fell off to my right side. The pressure around my throat was gone, and in a blind panic I started scrambling away from where I was. No other logical thought was in my head, just move, go, fast.
I was on my hands and knees, crawling as fast as I could, but with no idea where I was going. Suddenly, I ran into something, I could not see it. I pushed against it and tried to move around but a pair of hands were grabbing for me. I pushed them away and started blindly swinging my fists in that direction, but did not hit anything, then a voice started getting through.
“Dan! Dan! Dan, it is Lin!”
I felt the hands around my shoulders, pulling me, then my face buried into something soft and I felt peace come over me as I struggled to get air down my damaged throat. “Lin?” I croaked.
“I am here, I am here. It is okay, you are safe, it is okay.” I could hear tears and strength at the same time.
Time passed, but I don’t know how much. I started to breath normally, but my throat and neck hurt like hell. My head was pounding and my ears were ringing, but I was being held and I could feel a hand stroking my hair. There were tears on my cheeks and I was shaking.
“Lin?” I croaked again.
“I am here.” Lin cried.
“How did you know?” was all I could get out.
“Stephanie. Stephanie came to me in my dream.” Lin started crying harder.
I slowly eased my way out of her arms and into a sitting position. Lying on the floor, about ten feet away was Ryan Sloan, his head at a weird angle, lying in a puddle of blood. Next to him was a three foot weight bar, with five pound weights on each end, one end covered in blood. It was obvious that his skull had been crushed, and that he was dead. I slid one arm around Lin and pulled her to me.
“Are you okay?” I whispered.
Lin gave a small laugh, “No, I am not, and there is nothing you can do about it.”
“I owe you my life.” I whispered.
Lin kissed my cheek. “We need to call the police.”
“No.” I said, “Call Walsh first. I don’t want this evidence to disappear. My cell is over by my towel.”
Lin eased away from me, walked over and retrieved my cell. Sitting back next to me, she pulled up the contact list and dialed.
“Ms. Walsh, this is Lin Vin Wei” Lin said after a few minutes.
“Yes, Ms. Walsh, I know it is early, but someone just tried to kill Dan in the gym at the hotel.”
I could hear the shout from Walsh as Lin pulled the cell quickly away from her ear. “No, Dan is hurt, but I think he will be fine. The attacker is dead.”
“I don’t know,” Lin said to the phone then turned to me, “Is it someone we know?”
I nodded, “Ryan Sloan, I told her about him yesterday.”
“Yes,” Lin said back into the phone, “Ryan Sloan.... Okay.... Okay... okay, we will be waiting.”
Lin sat the phone on the floor. “She said to wait fifteen minutes and then call the police, she is on her way.”
Fifteen minutes later I had Lin call 911 and report the assault and apparent death of the assailant. Ten minutes after that the first police car arrived on the scene and two offices entered the hotel gym with guns drawn. Lin and I were handcuffed for our own safety, and separated. Before the cops arrived, Lin and I discussed our story. She was just to say she came down to the gym to get her boyfriend so they could get ready for breakfast. After she entered the gym, just tell the truth about what she saw and did. Neither one of us would acknowledge that we knew Sloan, which Lin didn’t, so that was easy for her.
Within twenty minutes of the first police car arriving, there were over a dozen uniformed officers, four or five detectives, and three paramedics in the hotel gym. Once the detectives arrived, the handcuffs were removed from both Lin and me, while one of the paramedics checked me over. Looking in a mirror I had a nasty bruise forming around my neck and the paramedic told me it would be sore for a few days but he did not see any major damage. However, he would recommend that a doctor check me out.
Two of the detectives escorted Lin and me to a small meeting room just down the hall from the gym, I assumed, to get our stories, again. Just as the detective was about to close the door to the meeting room, another man walked in. He looked like he just stepped out of the pages of Esquire Magazine, with perfectly groomed hair and thousand dollar suit.
“Excuse me, Detective,” the new man said, “My name is William Richards, and I am a defense attorney representing Mr. McNeil and Ms. Wei. May I have a few minutes alone with my clients?”
The detective looked as surprised as I was, “Why do they need a defense attorney?” he asked.
Richards just smiled, “Why do you think they don’t?”
The detective shrugged, signaled his partner, and stepped out of the room, closing the door behind him.
“I don’t remember retaining your services, Mr. Richards.” I said, in my new whispering croak.
Richards smiled, as he walked to the table, “You didn’t, but Ms. Walsh did. Actually, I handle a number of issues for Ms. Walsh. Now, why don’t you tell me what happened here this morning, and please remember that I am on your side, so the truth please.”
Both Lin and I told him the story of what each of us experienced, but left in the part about Lin coming to get me for breakfast.
Richards stood there and thought for a moment. “Mr. McNeil, I would say the evidence around your throat, which looks like it hurts by the way, backs up your story pretty good. Ms. Lin, do you always run around a hotel early in the morning wearing nothing but your pajamas?”
Lin looked a little put out by the question, “What, you want me to tell you something like his dead girlfriend came to me in my dreams and told me he was being killed and I needed to save him?”
Richards laughed, “I have heard stranger, but I think we should stick with the breakfast story for now. Do either of you know the assailant?”
“I do,” I croaked, “Ryan Sloan was involved in a case I was working when I was with the FBI, but I have not told that to the police yet. They have not asked.”
“Okay,” Richards said, “if they ask, you tell the truth, you know that. I will ask the detectives to come back now so we can move this along. The fact they were preparing to question you together indicates they don’t see anything here besides what you have told them, an attack and defense. However, I will be present during their discussions and if I give you an indication to stop talking, please do so.”
Both Lin and I nodded as Richards opened the door and asked the detectives to come in. Over the next thirty to forty five minutes, we repeated our stories five or six times, to different questions. The beauty of telling the truth is it is easy to tell the same story each time. The detectives did ask if we knew Ryan and I admitted to doing so and told them that in the past I had thought he worked for the CIA, which is also true. They asked me if I knew who he worked for at the CIA and it took every ounce of self-control that I had left to avoid laughing. I wish I knew, that was the big question in my mind, however, I told them no.
At the end of the interview, the detectives asked if I needed to be taken to the hospital and, against Lin’s protests, told them no. We were free to return to our room, but asked to stay in the hotel in case they had more questions for us. Richards escorted us to the elevator and told us he would stay downstairs and let us know if anything new came up.
As we approached our room, we spotted Kathy Walsh leaning against the wall next to our door.
“Dan, you going to be okay?” Walsh asked as we approached a look of worry on her face.
I nodded but did not try to speak. I was not having trouble breathing but my throat hurt and talking seemed to start a coughing fit.
“They don’t allow reporters on the crime scenes, so I just waited up here for you. Bill said you are doing okay. Can I come in?” Walsh asked as Lin opened the door.
“Please.” Lin said, as she made sure I reached the bed.
“This Ryan Sloan, he was one of the guys you told me about, right?” Walsh asked.
I nodded as Lin handed me a glass of water. I was surprised how much I was still shaking. “He was one of the guys that worked for Smith.” I croaked after a sip of water, “I guess I am getting too close for comfort.”
“I will try to get his background out of my contacts with the cops.” Walsh said, taking the empty chair in the room.
“I think, you need to be concerned about them coming after you.” I whispered, “This was like a desperation act.”
Walsh smiled, “No, they will not come after me. If our Mr. Sloan had been successful with you, he would have made it look like a mugging and they knew you were the sole source of the information. With me, there is a team of reporters working on the story, and if something happens to one of us, the others will double their efforts. No, your unfortunate death would have disrupted us; mine would have just inspired us. These are not stupid people we are dealing with.”
“You seem pretty calm about all of this.” Lin said.
Walsh laughed this time, “I am nowhere near calm. I have already put actions in gear to scatter the information I have over many sources and storage locations, and get as many of my coworkers educated as possible. No, this is just starting to heat up, but what happened this morning has confirmed to me that this is going to be a wild ride.”
There was a knock on the door to the room, which Lin answered.
“You have a couple more visitors.” William Richards stated, as Lin opened the door.
Richards stepped aside and Ryan O’Keefe and another man walked in behind him. O’Keefe stopped just inside the door and looked at me. “I need to talk to you, McNeil.”
“Hello, Ryan,” Walsh said from across the room, “I would like to talk to you too.”
O’Keefe looked across the room, “Hello Katharine, I am sure you would, but my answers will be short, ‘no comment’.
“Then, talk to me.” I said before their conversation could go any further.
“Alone.” O’Keefe replied.
I shook my head, “Not happening, O’Keefe. If what you want to talk about is off the record, then you can talk in front of Lin and Ms. Walsh. If you want to talk to me on the record, then Mr. Richards will be present. No one on one here.”
“God damn it, McNeil, this is not helping.” O’Keefe spat.
“Not helping!” I proclaimed as loud as my voice would let me as I rose to my feet from the bed, to face O’Keefe. “Talk about not fucking helping! You ran me out of the FBI because you did not have the balls to face what the evidence showed! You ran for the rabbit hole the first time you got challenged about looking into this matter! I just had a guy I told you existed, wrap a fucking rope around my neck and have the guts to tell me ‘it’s not personal’! The hell it’s not personal! They killed Stephanie, Barbra Carson, Ivan Vasnev and God knows how many others, and we just let them walk? Tell me what part of ‘honest cop’ I do not understand because we seem to have a different definition!”
I was screaming the best I could, Lin and came around in front of me and tried to keep me from walking towards O’Keefe, even Richards had started my way. Lin slowly backed me to the edge of the bed as a coughing fits started. I was coughing so hard that I had to sit to keep my balance. Lin held me as I tried to drink some water.
“You going to be okay, Dan?” O’Keefe asked, in a much softer voice.
“Just leave him alone!” Lin hissed through clenched teeth.
O’Keefe stood there for a moment, “Bobby, take Mr. Richards for a cup of coffee, please.”
Richards looked over at Walsh, who apparently agreed, and then followed Bobby out the door, closing it behind him.
O’Keefe walked over to the window seat next to Walsh, sat down and rubbed his face. “I know this is going to sound bad, but I don’t know how to fight this. I am getting direct orders from above that this is a national security issue and I am to not be involved, even though I know it stinks to high heaven.”
“Then you tell me what you know,” Walsh said, “and we let the court of public opinion bring out the truth. If this is really a national security issue, it will go in front of a judge, and the government won’t claim the doctrine of State Secrets, unless they are willing to show the judge what is so secret. There is no judge in this country, or the world for that matter, that will allow the kidnapping, torture and brainwashing of American citizens to fall under some national security blanket.”
O’Keefe stared at the floor for a few minutes, “That means going against my oath and promise to the system that I am supposed to be supporting and defending.”
“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” I said, as firmly as I could. “That is the oath we both took, Ryan, and the Constitution starts off with ‘We the people...’. We are supposed to be defending the people, Ryan, not the bureaucracy or politics of Washington. We can keep secrets from the ‘people’ if it is truly for their own good. Tell me what, in this whole mess, is for the good of the people?”
O’Keefe rubbed his face with his hands again, “Fuck!” he proclaimed through his hands. “I really can’t tell you anything more than what I am sure you already have from Dan.”
“Who is Zackary Williamson?” Walsh asked.
“I have no idea,” O’Keefe said, lowering his hands. “I checked the name against the current General Officers register and came up empty. I fed it to the general database and was hit, immediately, with a Classified Access Rejected flag. Fifteen minutes later, I received a call from the Director telling me whatever I was doing to stop it, and stop it now. A couple days later, Mike was called back here, and we had a visit with the Chief of Staff of the White House.
“My hands are tied. If I ask anyone to look at anything related to this case, the flags will go up. About the only thing I can do is make sure you get any new information that flows through my office, that includes background on the clown downstairs.”
“Well,” Walsh said, “I guess that leaves it to me to see what I can shake loose. I already have calls from two of the congressmen that sat on the investigative committee last summer. I don’t know what they want to say, but I am pretty sure they are nervous as hell.”
Two hours later, the detectives returned and told us we were free to do what we wanted, but not to leave town for a couple of days. Mr. Richards informed them that all contact with his clients would be through him, and he would have our current location at any time.
A little after noon, I gave in to Lin’s insistence and went to the emergency room at the local hospital. One of the detectives met us there to avoid any concern being raised by the hospital staff. My injuries were not something that just walked in off of the streets most days. The doctors checked me out and, aside from telling me I’d be ‘a little sore’ for the next few days, told me no major damage had been done. That night I spent three hours holding Lin as she attempted to control the tears brought on by the nightmares. No matter what the reason is, or how justified it was, killing another human being is not something most people can simply forget. Despite the strength she had showed to me all day, she could not avoid the images that came whenever she closed her eyes. I knew what she was feeling, and I knew that all I could do was hold her until the demons left.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudo!
Click the Good Story! button above to leave the author a kudo:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.