Spring was late arriving in the Nation's Capital as the young man in a lightly colored wool suit walked past the International Spy Museum. He carried a soggy Rueben sandwich in his right hand and a steaming paper cup of coconut mocha coffee in his left as he made his way briskly toward Constitution Ave. His phone buzzed in his pocket and he rolled his eyes at the poor timing of the call, Of course someone's trying to get a hold of me now. I can't even enjoy a quick breakfast on the run without some scumbag politico in need of some hand-holding. He looked at his right hand, then his left, and decided it was a better bet to place the coffee on the sidewalk rather than to try to juggle the sandwich/phone combination. He plucked the heavy smartphone from his inner pocket and swiped his thumb across the screen as he placed it to his ear, “Hello?”
The buzzing continued, but not in his hand. He stared quizzically at the phone and was dumbfounded as there was yet another buzz – this one from the other side of his jacket. Jesus, that was his personal phone. He never used that one during the day. If ever someone needed to get in touch with him they knew his official number. His first thought was to ignore the call and finish his sandwich before his nine o'clock with Congressman Newell and carry on with his day.
But what if it was his sister? Or his mom? Probably not, but since he never used this phone he would have to sift through three weeks' of messages until finally getting to today's stuff. God. He fished his own phone from his pocket on the fourth buzz.
He didn't recognize the number and was already ruing this decision when he swiped his thumb over the green button, “Hello?”
The voice on the other end called him by first name in a most personal manner and instantly he wanted to kick himself for answering, “Michael. Where are you right now?”
Michael stopped dead in his tracks and closed his eyes and looked to the heavens, awaiting his own personal lightning bolt to strike him dead as retribution for answering his damn phone. Finally he shook his head and threw the Rueben into a nearby waste bin.
He had suddenly lost his appetite.
“You know damn well I'm here in D.C. What do you want?”
“We need to meet immediately.”
Michael rolled his eyes and hurried down the sidewalk, leaving his coffee behind. Whatever; he didn't need the caffeine anyway. He chuckled bitterly into the phone and said, “You know, that's funny. The last time I saw you, you were not very kind.”
“It's of the utmost urgency.”
“Something about burying me alive in a pine box somewhere in the Mojave is what I believe you said.”
The was a long silence on the phone. Then, simply, “It's my son. He's done it again.”
Oh. Michael stopped dead in his tracks, then said, “Meet me at McClelland's in an hour.”
There was no response as the line went dead, but Michael nodded. It would behoove him to be at McClelland's no later than a quarter to ten. His father's voice echoed from the past: If you're not early, you're late. He found a taxi and waved it in. Opened the door before the vehicle came to rest and spoke to the driver, “Fed Ex Field in Landover.”
The driver nodded wordlessly and hit the meter, then accelerated into the morning traffic.