Saturday, 4th February 2023 - 2:43:58 am
Kincaid stood to the side as he knocked on the door of 612. he was still at the side when the door was opened by a stranger. It was one of those CIA/FBI types he had spotted outside the hotel. The man wasn't wearing sunglasses now. Kincaid still had his on. The guy was six feet tall, well built, wearing a dark blue suit and a crew cut. His nose looked like it had been broken and straightened more than once. Except for that his features were clean cut. Women might call him ruggedly handsome.
It was a moment before he saw Kincaid at the side of the door.
Kincaid tried to see by him into the room but the door wasn't open wide enough. "I'm meeting someone here."
"You're Kincaid?" The guy looked him up and down as if he didn't believe what he was seeing.
Kincaid shrugged. He had no intention of admitting anything, even his name. "Who the hell are you?"
The guy stepped back and pulled the door wide. "C'mon in."
From what Kincaid could see inside, the room looked empty. He checked behind the door through the crack at the hinges. "I'll follow you."
The guy motioned with his arm as if to wave him into the room. "C'mon in," he said again without moving. "We haven't got all day."
Kincaid backed away. "Forget it."
"Okay, okay." The FBI/CIA type turned and walked into the room. "Have it your way."
After checking the hall one last time, Kincaid went slowly into the room. He closed the door behind him, pressing the button on the doorknob to lock it.
Except for the furniture and Mr. FBI/CIA the room was empty. It was a sitting room. A door to the right probably went into the bedroom. It was closed. The furnishings were maybe a step or two above ordinary hotel furniture but were nothing special. The far wall was filled with windows and the windows were full of sky and ocean. There were no curtains on the windows, only Venetian blinds, so no one could hide there. Kincaid edged over and checked behind the sofa. No one there.
"You're kinda nervous aren't you?" the guy asked.
Kincaid stood where he could watch the guy and both doors at the same time. "Where's Whalen?"
As if to answer his question, the bedroom door burst open and General Whalen stomped in, drying his hands on a towel and chomping on a half smoked, burned out cigar.
"Thought I heard somethin'." He half turned and flipped the towel back into the bedroom. "How ya doin' Colonel?"
General Whalen flopped into one of the large chairs. He was about six foor four and two hundred and forty pounds. His hair was iron gray and his eyes were steel blue. He had a long square jaw and a prominent nose. There was nothing about the General that was small.
"Sit down, sit down," Whalen said to Kincaid. "You want a cigar?"
Kincaid shook his head.
"Go ahead," Whalen said, holding out a cigar. "These are good. Not like the crap you used to smoke."
Kincaid shook his head again.
Whalen waved at the FBI/CIA type. "You've met Stone here?"
Kincaid didn't move from where he was, standing near a corner. He shook his head again.
As if he were choosing sides, Stone sat on the end of the sofa, near the General.
"What the hell's the matter with you?" Whalen barked at Stone. "Why didn't you tell him who you were?"
Stone grinned, "He wouldn't admit who he was."
Whalen studied Kincaid. "You gonna stay there?"
"Suit yourself." He jabbed a thumb toward Stone. "This is Harvey Stone. He's CIA."
Bingo, Kincaid thought.
"And this is Colonel Steven Kincaid, 3rd Provisional Brigade, US Army," Whalen said. "Whether he knows it or not, he's still on active duty."
That shocked Kincaid. Then he thought, ‘bullshit'. He was either a deserter or AWOL. He preferred either to still being on active duty.
"Mr. Stone has a proposition to present to you, Colonel," Whalen said.
Stone cleared his throat. "We've got a job we want you to do, Steve."
Kincaid frowned. The guy sounded like a used car salesman the way he used his first name.
Harvey Stone went on as if he hadn't noticed. "This is going to be a great deal for you." He grinned. "We are going to drop all charges against you. What do you think of that, Steve?"
Kincaid shrugged. He didn't think much of it, one way or the other.
The CIA man seemed a little disappointed that he didn't get a better reaction. "We are also going to see that you get some back pay. You could probably use that, huh, Steve? We might not be able to get you all of it, but we'll see what we can do."
There was no reaction from Kincaid. He stared at Stone coldly.
Stone glanced nervously at General Whalen. Whalen was impassive.
"We are also prepared to restore much of your rank," Stone went on. "Let's see, Steve, I believe your last permanent rank is sergeant. We could, perhaps, get you captain. How does that sound, Steve?"
Kincaid turned to Whalen. "This asshole keeps talking about ‘we.' Who the hell is ‘we?'
Whalen seemed surprised. "The government. ‘We' is the United States. Who did you think?"
"Who sent the guns along? Are they from the government of the United States too?"
Whalen seemed even more surprised. "What guns?"
"Ask him." Kincaid indicated the CIA man.
Stone looked uncomfortable. "Just routine. I brought some back up. I didn't know what I might be getting into."
"That wasn't smart," Whalen told him. He turned to Kincaid. "I didn't know."
"He's put us in a tough spot. There better be a way to call them off."
"I don't see the problem," Stone said. "Why should there be any trouble?"
"Because," Kincaid told him, "when I leave here they will be neutralized, one way or another. Do you understand what I'm saying? If you can't call them off…" He shrugged.
Stone became indignant. "Those are federal agents."
They waited for Kincaid to speak but he said nothing.
Finally Whalen spoke quietly to Stone. "I think you had better go out and gather them up."
"I don't believe a word of this," Stone said. "He doesn't have anyone out there."
"I believe him," Whalen said. "I think you had better do as I said."
Stone got up and walked slowly toward the door.
"Bring them in here," Kincaid said. "They'll be safe in here."
"I'll send them home."
"They won't be allowed to leave. Bring them in here.'
Stone turned angrily at the door. "Listen you…" he began.
Whalen raise a big paw. That was enough to stop Stone in mid-sentence. The General still spoke quietly. "I think you had better do as he says." His voice had a lazy Midwestern twang.
Kincaid thought it was interesting that Stone did not slam the door as he left.