This arti­cle is part 4 of 17 in the series The D.C. Reunion

The dri­ve to Lexington passed most­ly in silence.  I guess we were both immersed in ideas and thoughts about what the next few days or weeks might bring.  I was going over scheme after scheme to come to grips with Panghurst and dis­card­ing them almost as quick­ly as they popped up.  I was con­cen­trat­ing so intent­ly on that part of the oper­a­tion that lit­tle thought of the con­se­quences of an EMP explo­sion in D.C. hard­ly crossed my mind.  No doubt there were oth­ers who were wrestling with that prospect.  My job was more focused.  I had to fig­ure a way to try to pre­vent it.

We dropped the car off at the rental agency, com­plet­ed the usu­al paper­work, and hopped a shut­tle to the gen­er­al avi­a­tion area of the air­port, where L.T.‘s Cessna Citation CJ3 was wait­ing to whisk us to Washington.  The small jet was prob­a­bly overkill for just two peo­ple fly­ing only a lit­tle over 400 miles — it can car­ry nine pas­sen­gers and has a range of just over two thou­sand nau­ti­cal miles — but who am I to ques­tion the gov­ern­men­t’s rea­sons for how they appor­tion aircraft?

The cab­ins of small pri­vate air­craft are cramped, but the seat­ing is arranged to be com­fort­able, not like the sar­dine seat­ing one gets on a com­mer­cial flight in econ­o­my class.  There was liquor avail­able, but both of us real­ized that we need­ed to keep our sens­es about us and so con­sumed only a sin­gle mixed drink apiece on the flight.

By the time we had touched down at Washington International a lit­tle over an hour and a half lat­er, the germ of an idea had begun to take shape in my mind.  I had hopes that, by the time we reached the hotel, that germ would have devel­oped into some­thing more con­crete, and I would be able to go over it with L.T. to get some feed­back and that we could probe it for weaknesses.

It was get­ting on toward evening when the cab dropped us off at the Hay-Adams.  Entering the lob­by of the hotel is like step­ping back in time some­what. With the high­ly pol­ished wood accou­trements, the ornate ceil­ings, and lux­u­ry fin­ish­es, I was almost afraid to put my lug­gage down for fear of mar­ring the high­ly pol­ished floor.

L.T. sug­gest­ed that I just wait a moment as he approached the front desk and com­plet­ed the arrange­ments for my stay, return­ing with my room key.

“Let’s go up and get you set­tled in, and then we’ll come back down for some din­ner.  I’ve got a pri­vate din­ing room reserved so we can dis­cuss what­ev­er we need to with­out con­cern for being overheard.”

We head­ed over to the ele­va­tors, L.T. help­ing with one of the bags, and rode up to the fourth floor, emerg­ing into a car­pet­ed and immac­u­late cor­ri­dor that looked like it had just been paint­ed that day and new car­pet laid.  It was a short walk to room 410, and we uncer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly tossed the bags onto the bed, an action that seemed almost sac­ri­le­gious con­sid­er­ing the dig­ni­ty of the room.

I asked L.T. if he need­ed to fresh­en up before din­ner.  He declined, and I entered the mar­ble-clad bath­room to relieve myself and throw some water on my face as a quick way to revive some­what from the trip.

We left the room, took the ele­va­tor back down to the ground floor lev­el, and were escort­ed to the pri­vate din­ing room that L.T. had reserved.

The appoint­ments of the room were as elab­o­rate as the rest of the hotel, with linen table­cloth and nap­kins and a fine din­ner­ware laid out for the both of us along with a bot­tle of Sauvignon Blanc.  As we sat down, the wait­er, in black slacks and a black jack­et with a white shirt and black bow tie stat­ed that din­ner would be served shortly.

At this point, I could only sur­mise that L.T. had ordered the wine and din­ner for us both before leav­ing the room and while I was fresh­en­ing up.

He had just fin­ished pour­ing us both a glass of wine when the wait­er returned with the serv­ing cart con­tain­ing two cov­ered dish­es which he duti­ful­ly placed before us and, remov­ing the sil­ver-domed cov­ers, revealed a deli­cious-look­ing red snap­per, stalks of aspara­gus, and new pota­toes.  The snap­per sat on a thin bed of rice with two lemon slices and a cloth-cov­ered bas­ket of sliced, fresh­ly-baked bread was placed between the two of us.

I was pret­ty hun­gry after a long day, includ­ing the trav­el­ing, and quick­ly picked out a slice of the still-warm bread, squeezed the lemon slices over the snap­per, and pro­ceed­ed to dig in, inter­spers­ing eager mouth­fuls with sips of a won­der­ful­ly smooth white wine.

“Good choic­es, L.T.,” I mum­bled between bites.  “Couldn’t have done bet­ter myself.”

“I imag­ine you’re just extreme­ly hun­gry, Michael,” he respond­ed.  “Still, the hotel kitchen does turn out a pret­ty good meal.”

“Yeah, well, the snap­per is done per­fect­ly.  It prac­ti­cal­ly falls apart on my fork.” I eager­ly mouthed anoth­er morsel.

Most of the din­ner was accom­pa­nied by small talk, things of no impor­tance, but as we cleaned our plates and set­tled to sip­ping the wine, the con­ver­sa­tion became more seri­ous as we exam­ined strategy.

“Well, Michael.  You’ve had some time to think about it.  Any ideas on how to proceed?”

“Yeah, I think so, L.T.  How does this sound?”

  • Chuck Witt

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

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