clear wine glass on brown wooden table
This arti­cle is part 15 of 17 in the series The D.C. Reunion

The sher­ry brought a warm glow as we drained our glass­es, each ana­lyz­ing the oth­er, me try­ing to gauge the truth­ful­ness of what Panghurst had told me — and him try­ing to deter­mine if I was going to believe his story.

I final­ly broke the silence. “Armin, let’s assume for a moment that I believe all that you’ve told me.  I’ve been hired to do a spe­cif­ic job.  How can I go to my employ­er and con­vince them that my job is over, that noth­ing cat­a­stroph­ic is going to over­take Washington and that they can all go back to doing what­ev­er they nor­mal­ly do?  I can’t just walk away.”

“Hmm… yes, I see your dilem­ma. So here’s what I propose.

“Arrange a meet­ing between you, me, and your employ­er.  I’ll tell him exact­ly what I’ve told you, minus the part about leak­ing the infor­ma­tion to Wikileaks.  I real­ly do want to see more of Washington now that I’m here, so I want to stay a few more days.  While I’m here, I will make myself acces­si­ble at all times to whomev­er your employ­er wants to watch me.  At the end of those few days, I head back to England and let Milikan know that he can start the bar­gain­ing process. 

“Does that sound rea­son­able?  Hey, you could stay over as well, and we could tour the city togeth­er.  You prob­a­bly know all the good places to see and can be my guide!”

“Well, I’m not sure I want to stay over, but I’m sure I can arrange a meet­ing and turn things over to my handler.”

“L.T., right?”

“My God, Armin.  How did you know that?”

“You for­get, Mikel.  I used to work for MI‑6.  I left them with a lot of information.”

“One more ques­tion, Armin.  When you and I worked togeth­er, you seemed quite sadis­tic.  I watched you mur­der that one guy by cut­ting his throat.  This seems total­ly out of char­ac­ter for you.  What changed?”

“Everybody gets old, Mikel.  Including me.  And that streak of sadism you saw was a momen­tary thing.  That thug whose throat I cut had just raped and mur­dered an eleven-year-old girl.  I tried to stop him but was too late.  I just went crack­ers.  Ever since that time, I’ve been doing non-wet secu­ri­ty work for pri­vate com­pa­nies.  Haven’t killed any­one in years.”

“Okay.  I’ll set up a meet­ing.  How about tomor­row?  I’ll get L.T.  to reserve a pri­vate din­ing room for lunch.  That sound okay?”

“Fine.  Oh, and Mikel, ask L.T. to order a good bot­tle of Chenin Blanc.  As a gov­ern­ment employ­ee, he prob­a­bly does­n’t know squat about good wine.”

I smiled.  He was prob­a­bly right.

We left the restau­rant and retired to our rooms.  At least I did.  I was still cau­tious about Panghurst but hoped that he was as sati­at­ed as I was after a great meal and a suf­fi­cient quan­ti­ty of wine.  But before going to bed, I gave L.T. a call.  He was incred­u­lous and as dubi­ous as I had been, but he agreed to the meet­ing and said he would make the arrange­ments.  I did­n’t both­er to pass along Armin’s com­ments about him not know­ing any­thing about fine wine.  I told him I was going to bed and that it would be up to his peo­ple to make sure Panghurst was­n’t going to pull any­thing tonight.

I pulled the plug. So to speak.  It had been a busy day, and the wine was call­ing me to sleep.  I stripped down to my skivvies, plopped into bed, and extin­guished the lights.  No read­ing tonight.  I did­n’t need any­thing to see me off to slum­ber. I quick­ly eased into a deep sleep, devoid of night­mares about chaos in the streets, secret agents, explo­sive devices, or any oth­er nerve-shat­ter­ing hap­pen­stances.  My sub­con­scious must have been telling me that Panghurst was on the level.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.

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