General Trinh is delivering papers
by: Walter Guest
“What in the hell is goin’ on here?” General Whalen seemed somewhat amused at the goings on.
Kincaid pointed to his ear and indicated the walls.
“You’re kidding!” Whalen glanced around the room then back at Kincaid. “You’re not kidding.”
Kincaid shook his head.
“Well…” Whalen went over to the window and looked down at the surf far below. “What now?”
“We wait.” Kincaid pulled a chair around to face the door to the hallway and sat in it.
Stone was back in a little while. He brought the three men he had arrived with plus two more that Kincaid had never seen before. They filed into the room and stood awkwardly around the walls.
Kincaid motioned Whalen to the door. “You guys wait here for fifteen minutes,” he told Stone.
“What are you talking about? I’m not waiting anywhere.”
“Okay, okay,” Kincaid said. “You still don’t get the picture, do you? Tell me, do you trust General Whalen?”
“Yeah, sure, I trust General Whalen.”
“Will you listen to General Whalen?”
“Tell him, General.”
“All of you wait here for fifteen minutes.”
“I need to know one thing.” The General was driving Bob Douglas’ Porsche up the Laguna Canyon Road. He had to slide the seat back a couple of notches to fit in. Steve Kincaid was strapped into the passenger seat. They were alone in the car. “I heard you were dealing in drugs. Is that true?”
“No.” Kincaid checked behind to see if they were being followed. It looked clear.
“I didn’t think so.’
A French restaurant off to their right was just opening for lunch.
“Was anything your friend Stone saying true?” Kincaid showed a trace of a smile. Calling Stone Whalen’s friend was a sly dig.
“I don’t know why he was trying to negotiate like that. You can keep the rank of colonel with full back pay. That was the deal. Are you interested?”
“That would be good, but I’m more interested in getting something for General Trinh.”
“Trinh? Oh yeah, that guy from the mountains? What does he have to do with this?”
“I’ve been trying to get something for him. He brought a couple thousand tribesmen over to our side when we needed them. He had to run out of there when we ran. He left everything behind. Now the government won’t recognize him. They won’t give him squat.”
“Been here for a long time. He had to take a job delivering newspapers. This is guy who used to be somebody. This is a guy we owe a lot to.”
“Ahhh.” Whalen was starting to figure things out. “That’s who were covering your back at the hotel. How many of those guys do you have over here?”
“I don’t understand what you are talking about.”
Whalen glanced at him. “Okay,” he said, “suppose we can get reparations and a pension for General Trinh along with your back pay. Would you be interested?”
“Not if it’s CIA.” Kincaid pulled a short, fat cigar out of his shirt pocket. He put it in his mouth and prepared to light it.
Whalen looked at the cigar in mock horror. “My god, man! Are you still smoking Manila Blunts?” He reached into a jacket pocket. “Let me give you a decent cigar.”
Kincaid waved away the offering. “I got used to these. I like them.”
“Those things will kill you.”
“If I live that long.”
The road was dangerous. It was only two lanes with a lot of curves. Most drivers took it too fast. The General handled it well.
“What have you got against the CIA?”
“It’s size. They must have fifty thousand employees. Only a fool would believe, with that many people working there, that they haven’t been deeply penetrated. Any effective field man probably gets turned over right away. Or then some guy there decides what the government is doing is wrong and suddenly you are dead meat in the field. The only way to survive in an outfit that big is to be deadwood like the rest of them. I want nothing to do with the CIA.”
“Someone will have to run you.”
“Someone outside the CIA.”
“That might be arranged. Then you’ll do it?”
“I don’t know. I’ll have to know a lot more about the set up. How do you figure in?”
Whalen had to hug the shoulder as an oncoming car took a curve too fast. “I got called in because you worked for me in Viet Nam. It was you they wanted. They called me out of retirement. I was living peacefully in Arkansas, working on my golf game.”
“Are you pissed off?”
“Pissed off, hell! This made me feel twenty years younger.”
“Who contacted you?”
“A presidential assistant.”
Kincaid looked over at him.
“It’s the truth,” Whalen said.
“What’s the job?”
“Have you ever been in Iran?”
They entered a long straightaway. Whalen let it out a little.
“You know a man named Edward Camacho?”