Rapp had been an experiment of sorts. The clandestine men and women at Langley all went through the CIA training facility near Williamsburg, Virginia, known as the Farm. A group of veterans at Langley, however, felt the changing political winds and decided they would have to begin hiding things from the opportunists on Capitol Hill. That was when Hurley left the Agency and set up shop an hour south of Washington, D.C. Rapp didn’t know how many others they had auditioned, but he gathered that Hurley had chewed up and spat out at least three guys before he arrived on that hot, humid summer day almost two decades ago. He knew because Hurley referred to them as Idiot One, Idiot Two, and Idiot Three. He’d say things like, “I spent two days trying to teach Idiot Three how to do this, and then the jackass nearly killed himself.”
Watching the old prick hobble across the asphalt driveway, Rapp had to admit that he was still a bit intimidated by the man. There weren’t many guys who could give him that kind of feeling. Rapp remembered showing up for training as if it were yesterday. He was in his early twenties, and he thought the best shape of his life after finishing a near-perfect season captaining the Orangemen lacrosse team. There was nothing as humbling as getting your ass kicked by a chain-smoking, bourbon-drinking, sixty-some-year-old man who was all cock and bones. It had happened only a few feet from where Rapp was standing. In the big barn, on the old stinky wrestling mat that Rapp had been forced to manhandle seven days a week for nearly four months.
Looking back on the situation now, Rapp could see Hurley had been in complete control, but back then, he seriously wondered if he was going to survive. Hurley woke him up at 4:00 A.M. with a cigarette dangling from his lips. When Rapp didn’t get out of bed fast enough, Hurley flipped his military-issue cot and dumped him onto the hard, dusty floor of the barn. He was told that the barn was where he’d be sleeping until he proved himself worthy to sleep in the house. The real trouble started when Rapp came up swinging. In hindsight it had been an extremely stupid move. The geezer was far more agile than he looked. Rapp threw the punch and then next thing he knew he was back on the floor, the wind knocked from his lungs, gasping for air like a fish flopping around on a dock.
Hurley had announced while standing over him, “A fighter! Idiot One was a fighter. He only lasted a week, but at least he was a fighter!”
Rapp made it through that first week despite being knocked to the ground on average probably eight times a day. He was also called every dirty name in the book and ordered at least once an hour to quit. Hurley would tell him over and over in the foulest possible language that Rapp was wasting his time. Rapp had seen enough movies to know what was going on. He’d also run enough captains’ practices to understand that Hurley was trying to figure out if he had what it took to make the cut. Knowing it, and experiencing it, however, are two very different things. Rapp had never quit anything in his life, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to start now, but Hurley and his sadomasochistic trials tested him.
As the tough old spy hobbled along the drive with the help of his cane, Rapp couldn’t help but smile over the fact that the guy used to kick his ass six ways from Sunday.
“What’s so funny, dickhead?” Hurley asked in his throaty three-pack-a-day voice.
“Nothing.” Rapp’s smile got bigger.
“Bullshit. You think this cane is funny?” He picked it up and shook it at Rapp. “I’d like to see how you get along when you’re my age. Doc says most guys are all whacked up on drugs for the first week after they get their hip replaced. I haven’t taken shit.”
“That’s if you don’t count the fifth of bourbon you drink every day.”
Hurley stopped, his dark eyes zeroing in on Rapp. “Are you trying to ruin my life?”
“No,” Rapp replied with a grin and threw one of Hurley’s favorite lines back at him, “just trying to keep it real, Stan.”
Hurley looked toward the barn with his baggy eyes and stuffed his right hand into his jacket pocket. After digging around for a moment he retrieved a soft pack of unfiltered Camels. “Yeah . . . well things are about to get as real as they can get.”
“You sure you’re up for this?” Rapp asked, wanting to give him another chance to skip it. “I can handle it.”
Hurley cupped his left hand around the tip of the cigarette and spun the wheel on the old Zippo. The flame shot up, and after a long, deep pull he exhaled a cloud of smoke and said, “I know you can, but I need to do this.”
Rapp would have preferred to handle it himself, but he knew there would be no changing Hurley’s mind. “Well . . . let’s get started. I have to be back up at Langley by nine.”
THE big double doors to the barn were closed, so Rapp and Hurley used the smaller service door around the corner. A medium-sized tractor, a couple of ATVs, and a Ford F-150 pickup truck were parked on the side closest to the big doors. The other side of the floor was dominated by what looked like a large safe but was actually an industrial kiln that Hurley used for his incongruous hobby of pottery and a few other things.
The two men walked to the opposite wall and approached a large oak card catalog cabinet. The brown wood was scuffed and dusty and a few of the old brass pulls on the drawers were missing. Even without all the various screws, nuts, bolts, nails, and assorted knickknacks that filled the eighty drawers, the thing looked as if it weighed a thousand pounds. Hurley reached around the back, pressed a button, and the cabinet began to swing away from the wall, revealing a concrete staircase. Rapp went down first, and once Hurley’s head was clear, he punched a code into a keypad. The cabinet began sliding back into place.
Once the cabinet was back in place, Rapp punched in another code. When the light turned green, and he heard the electric motor release the lock, he turned the knob and stepped into a rectangular room with poured-concrete walls. There were two battleship-gray metal desks, a couch, and a round table with four chairs. One man was sitting behind the closest desk. He stood when Hurley and Rapp entered. The second man was on the couch, lying on his back, his feet up, a Baltimore Orioles hat covering his face. He was either sleeping or didn’t care to look and see who had just arrived.
The room had the heavy, sour smell of nicotine. When Rapp had gone through his training this place didn’t exist. Hurley used a discreet contracting firm that was run by a former operative and had it built after 9/11. The floor of the barn was excavated and the foundation underpinned, to make room for the basement. The walls were poured and Spancrete sections were placed on top to create the roof for the new rooms and the floor of the barn. Within a two-hour drive of Washington there were three similar facilities, all of them built with private funding, and each one known by only a handful of individuals. Necessity was, after all, the mother of invention. In order to fulfill its mission the CIA needed to be able to conduct most of what it did away from prying eyes and in secret. Hurley had explained on many occasions that during the Cold War they had more than a dozen such places that they would use to debrief defectors as well as the occasional traitor.
“Where’s the doc?” Hurley asked the big man who had been sitting behind the desk.
The muscular man pointed toward the steel door at the far end of the room and said, “Talking to Adams. Been in there almost two hours.”
The big man’s name was Joe Maslick. He was a native of Chicago, and a former Airborne Ranger, who’d done three tours, one in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. He was wearing a black Under Armour T-shirt and a pair of jeans.
Hurley looked at Rapp and asked, “Is he drunk?”
Rapp nodded. “He was pretty much on his way when we picked him up last night.”
“And since then?”
him a few drinks on the plane ride down.”
“No problems at the airport?”