The Last Man
Author:Vince Flynn



Chapter 59
AURORA HIGHLANDS, VIRGINIA

WILSON was feeling a little better. It was Monday night and his Redskins were up by seventeen points against their hated rival the Eagles with less than five minutes to go. In Wilson's opinion, there was no worse fan on the planet than a Philadelphia Eagles fan. They even managed to make Yankees fans seem like model citizens. Wilson took the Redskins' advantage as a sign that things were looking up. He checked his watch and finished his beer. It was time for another one of his late-night meetings.

He grabbed the leash and found the dog waiting at the front door, which he didn't like, as he didn't want the damn mutt getting used to this. His wife pushed her chair away from the desk but didn't bother standing.

"Isn't this nice? I love the fact that you two are bonding."

"Let's not go overboard here."

She stood and gave him a kiss, placing her hand on his stomach. "You're going to lose this little belly if you keep this up."

Wilson wasn't aware that he had a belly. He patted himself. "I have a gut?"

"Just a teeny one," she said, holding her thumb and forefinger an inch apart. She kissed him again. "I'm going to take a shower and then climb into bed with nothing on and wait for you to get back." She started up the stairs and said, "Don't be too long."

Wilson thought things were definitely looking up. The temperature had already dropped into the forties, and Wilson decided that he and Ferris were going to have to come up with a different way to meet. He was getting sick of walking this stupid dog in the cold night air. He took his usual route, wishing they could meet in an office on Capitol Hill. He stopped at the prescribed corner and checked his watch. He was on time. Thirty seconds later, he said, "Where the fuck are you guys? I'm freezing my ass off."

At the far end of the street he saw a man standing under a street-light. A few seconds later the man made his way down the block. When he was within speaking distance, Wilson said, "You're late."

Darren Sickles looked over both shoulders and said, "I wanted to make sure I wasn't followed."

Wilson wanted to tell him that no one gave enough of a shit to have him followed, but he got the impression that Sickles had a very fragile ego, so he kept that thought to himself. The Town Car pulled up a minute later, and Wilson had Sickles get in first. It was a little snug with the three of them in back. Instead of waiting for Ferris to ask for the dog, Wilson simply handed him over again.

"Mr. Sickles," Ferris started, "Joel tells me you're not very happy with your current employer."

"No, sir."

Wilson looked out the window at the passing houses. "He said Rapp threatened to kill him."

"I'd prefer to hear it from Mr. Sickles, if you don't mind."

I'm just trying to speed things along, Wilson thought. I've got a naked woman waiting for me.

"Yes . . . he threatened my life, among other things," Sickles said.

"What else?"

"Pretty much every nasty thing in the book."

"When was this?"

"After Joe Rickman was kidnapped. Do you know who he is?"

"Most certainly."

"Well, Rapp blamed me for that . . . said I was drinking the administration's Kool-Aid on reintegration."

Ferris smiled. He couldn't wait to get Sickles to give this answer under oath in front of all the cameras. "But most important, he threatened your life?"

"Yes."

"And what are your feelings about the missing funds?"

"With Rapp and Rickman, you mean?"

"Yes - and anyone else at the CIA."

"The Clandestine Service, in my opinion, is rife with corruption, and Rapp and Rickman are the poster boys for what is wrong with the place. That's why Rickman was taken. But no one wants to talk about how corrupt he was."

Ferris nodded as if he understood all of Sickles's frustrations. "I'm about to announce hearings into this mess . . . probably Wednesday. I might have to compel you to testify. Can you assure me that you will give these same answers when I put you under oath?"

Sickles thought about it for a long moment. "My career is basically over . . . Why not?"

"This is about doing the right thing." Ferris searched Sickles's eyes for a sense of commitment. "I can protect you from them. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I can help clean out the rat's nest."

Sickles liked the sound of that. "Okay. I'll testify."

"Good. Now before I announce things on Wednesday, I want you to reach out to Arianna Vinter and Colonel Poole and see if they will corroborate your statements. I understand Rapp was very rude to them during his most recent visit to . . ." Ferris stopped speaking when he heard the sirens. Flashing red and blue lights were bouncing off the windows. The Town Car lurched to a sudden stop and then the doors were opened. Wilson was ripped from the car and thrown to the pavement, as was Sickles. Both men had their arms wrenched behind their backs and cuffed. Sickles was silent, but not Wilson. He was arguing like a madman about his rights.

A man in a dark suit and a dark trench coat approached Ferris's open door. "Senator, please get out of the car."

"And if I don't want to?"

Rapp bent over and showed his face. "Then I'll gladly drag your ass from the vehicle and cuff you."

Ferris sighed and got out of the car. "I know who you are," he said to Rapp. "You have no right to arrest me."

"You're right, but he does." Rapp pointed at FBI Director Miller, who was standing next to a black Suburban, keeping a close eye on things. "If you'd like, you can deal with him, but then everything gets real official and the press will get involved, and based on what I've seen, you really don't want to go that route."

Coleman stepped in and took the dog from the senator. As he walked away, he removed the bug he'd placed there the previous week.

"This way, Senator," Rapp said as he led the man toward Kennedy's waiting Suburban. Ferris joined Kennedy in the backseat and Rapp got into the front passenger seat.

"I don't want you to speak, Senator," said Kennedy. "We have recordings of your little meetings with Agent Wilson."

"Hardly a crime."

"I said, don't speak. Earlier this evening, we confiscated your maid's laptop, which contains some very incriminating emails between you and General Durrani of the Pakistani ISI. By the way, did you know he was shot and killed in his house yesterday?" Kennedy could tell by the surprised look on the senator's face that he had not heard. "Do you know what else they found in his house? No? Well, it's not good. The body of one of my Clandestine Service officers, Joe Rickman. I think you've heard of him. Apparently, General Durrani was behind the kidnapping and was torturing him for information that he was going to use against the United States.

"Now, as this starts to sink in, Senator, I want you to think of two paths. One will involve a great deal of embarrassment and an extremely public trial for treason. None of your colleagues will support you, because I will show them the information I have and you will be completely toxic to them. You will probably be spared execution, since we no longer have the stomach for that anymore, but you will most certainly go to jail, and I will make sure it is the kind of jail that a scumbag like you deserves. The second path you may choose is to show up in my office tomorrow morning at nine a.m. sharp, where you will be debriefed. You may keep your job and your chairmanship and despite your hatred of the CIA you will become one of our most valuable allies of the CIA on Capitol Hill. Do you understand your two options?"

Ferris swallowed hard and said, "I do."

Kennedy looked at her watch and said, "All right. You have ten seconds to decide."

There was only one valid option for a man like Ferris. "I'll take option number two." Maybe later he could figure out a way to undo this mess.

"Good," Kennedy said. "I'll see you at nine tomorrow morning."

Rapp opened the door for Ferris, and when they were a few feet away from the Suburban, Rapp grabbed him by the arm and said, "There is a third option."

"What's that?"

"I sneak into your house in the middle of the night and I snap your neck." Rapp stared at Ferris for an uncomfortably long moment and then said, "Good night, Senator." Rapp walked back to the SUV and climbed into the backseat.

As they were driving away, Kennedy asked, "You still don't like it, do you?"

Rapp rubbed his eyes. "I would prefer to kill him."

"I know that's your default switch for every problem, but sometimes it's a little more complicated than that."

"I know. We avoid all the publicity and we now own the chairman of one of the most powerful committees in town."

They drove in silence for a few blocks, and then Kennedy said, "We have one problem."

Rapp was staring at his iPhone, checking emails. "We have lots of problems."

"What do you want to do with Gould?"

"I didn't think my opinion mattered."

"Don't get all sensitive on me. It doesn't suit you well. You know your opinion matters."

Rapp thought about it for a second and said, "You know what . . . I'm tired and I don't give a shit what you do with him as long as you keep him away from me."

"If we let him go, do you think he'll quit?"

"No," Rapp answered without hesitation. "He won't quit until he's crippled or dead."

Kennedy had to be careful with this next part. Rapp was likely to come unglued. She cleared her throat and said, "What if we put him on retainer?" She watched as Rapp slowly turned his head toward her, waiting for the explosion.

Rapp's jaw was locked in a grimace and then it slowly started to relax. "I'd say we give him a trial run. He screws up, he's dead. He finishes the job, we'll sit down and talk."

"That was unexpected." Kennedy didn't bother hiding her surprise.

"And I know who we're going to send him after."

Rapp thought about all of the tight security around the man and how difficult it would be to kill Obrecht. Just maybe, Rapp would get lucky and Obrecht would put Gould out of his misery and save Rapp from the guilt of doing it himself.

"Who?" Kennedy asked, a bit nervous.

"I think our newest Swiss banker would be a nice place to start."

"Herr Obrecht?"

"Exactly."