trees under cloudy sky during sunset
This arti­cle is part 17 of 17 in the series The D.C. Reunion

L.T. and I were left sit­ting alone in the pri­vate din­ing room, each look­ing some­what incred­u­lous and won­der­ing if we had done the right thing.

“Michael, you con­vinced we’ve made the right decision?”

“Convinced?  No, but it seems like suf­fi­cient safe­guards are in place to assure a favor­able outcome.”

“I sure as hell hope you’re right.”

“Do you think the U.S. is going to get involved in try­ing to secure this device?  I noticed that Armin did­n’t put a price tag on it.  My guess is that they’re going to offer it to the high­est bidder.”

“If that hap­pens, the los­ing nation or nations are going to be hell-bent on get­ting a copy or mak­ing sure that the win­ning coun­try does­n’t get to devel­op it with­out let­ting every­one else in on it.  I can visu­al­ize a whole new kind of cold war — and it ain’t gonna be pretty.”

“Well, that’s for oth­ers high­er up than either of us to fig­ure out.  And it could pro­vide you with some job secu­ri­ty for some time to come.”

“Guess you’re right about that.”

“L.T.,  Armin said some­thing to me last night, and it sank home this morn­ing as I was read­ing the Post.”

“Yeah, what’s that?”

“He said, ‘Everybody gets old, Mikel.’ And he’s right.  L.T. I’m get­ting old, and I’m get­ting out.  This time for real.  I’ve final­ly decid­ed that I’ve done all I care to do in this line of work. 

“I’m tired of the trav­el­ing.  Tired of nev­er know­ing where I’ll be tomor­row or next week.  It’s time for some­one younger than me to do the work, time for me to relax and enjoy the remain­der of my days in leisure and cer­tain­ty.  I’ve made a good liv­ing from what I’ve done and socked away enough to keep me com­fort­able for a long time to come, so I’m going to pack it in. 

“We’ve had a good run togeth­er, you and I.  But all things come to an end, and I want my end to be a man­ner of my choos­ing, not skew­ered on some bad guy’s knife in some for­eign coun­try where they’ll put me in an unmarked grave and nev­er know why I was there or who I was.

“So I’m going home to the farm.  Maybe I’ll stay there for­ev­er.  Who knows?  But for now, it’s home, and it’s where I want to be.  I’ve made reser­va­tions on an evening flight head­ing back to Lexington, so I’d just like to say good­bye now with­out drag­ging it out.  If you’re ever down my way, please know that you’d be wel­come to stop by and vis­it, but don’t come with an assign­ment. Okay?”

“Okay, Michael.  You sure this is what you want?  I know you, and you’ve got a lot left to offer, even if you chose to do noth­ing but teach.  You could be a real asset in that regard, and the dan­ger ele­ment would be tak­en out of it.”

“It’s not the dan­ger.  In fact, I think that many times the dan­ger just made the job more excit­ing.  I just don’t have the stom­ach for it any­more.  I feel like I’ve lost my edge.  When I was try­ing to plan out how to get what we need­ed from Panghurst, I nev­er did come up with a rea­son­able solu­tion.  Right up to the last minute, I did­n’t know how it was going to play out.  That’s not healthy in my job.”

“Well, I guess you know what’s best for your­self, Michael.  I won’t try to change your mind.  Like you said, we’ve had a good run togeth­er, and there’s not a lot more that can be asked than that.

“You take care of yourself.”

We stood as one.  Our hands clasped togeth­er, maybe for a moment longer than usu­al, and I saw a hint of sad­ness in L.T.‘s eyes.

“You too, L.T.”

I turned and left the room.  The green fields of Kentucky would look good.

Editor’s note: Is this real­ly the end? Is Michael “rid­ing off into the sun­set?” It sure sounds that way, does­n’t it? To tell you the truth, I can’t say for cer­tain if I know the answer. I do know that Chuck will be shar­ing some oth­er works of fic­tion for the next sev­er­al weeks. Is it tru­ly time to bid adieu to “the Winchester assas­sin?”

  • Chuck Witt

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

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