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“And stay tough on this CIA thing. Don’t give in to them. Let me do some poking around.”

Lonsdale didn’t have the energy to fight with her, so she let it go. “Thanks for the laughs. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

As Lonsdale waited for the elevator she thought about the NARAL event. They were going to honor the work of an abortionist who’d ended more lives than anyone dared count, and Ogden wanted to destroy a man who had devoted his entire career to protecting his country. Lonsdale suddenly felt as if she were trapped in a Lewis Carroll novel. “We’re all mad here.” Washington was a very strange town.



HAKIM drank some orange juice and popped four extrastrength Tylenols. He was propped up in the bed with three pillows behind him, staring at his laptop, trying to figure out what to do. Logistically things were perhaps more straightforward than one might imagine. It was as simple as riding down the Mississippi River in a raft. There were twists and turns, but eventually everything made its way south and dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. They weren’t following the river, however, they were working the state highways and county roads of Missouri in a gamble against time.

Looking back on the day it was almost impossible to believe what had happened. A single rash decision had led to a string of them, each one limiting their options and exposing them needlessly to capture. He and Karim could spend the rest of their lives debating the wisdom of deciding to kill the father and son, and they would never agree, but it was undeniable that the act had set in motion a series of bungles. One rushed decision had led to another, and now they were on the run with no idea how close the law was on their trail.

Hakim pecked away at his laptop searching various news sites for most of the evening as they worked their way down Highway 54, through Jefferson City, and then Lake of the Ozarks, and finally the turn for Springfield at Highway 65. Hakim decided not to take Interstate 44 over to Oklahoma. He had labored over that decision for quite a while but eventually decided they might be too exposed on the interstate. He made the decision to head for Branson. It was a major tourist destination that also catered to RV enthusiasts. He determined the smartest move would be to lay up for the night in a big lot with other RVs and wait until morning. Then, depending what they found on the news, they would either dump the RV or fill up on gas and make a sunrise-to-sunset dash to Houston.

Somewhere north of Branson, Hakim wasn’t exactly sure where, he felt the RV begin to slow and then sway as they turned off the highway. He pulled back the rear shades an inch and stole a one-eyed glance, half expecting to see the twirling emergency lights of a police car. There was nothing. Not a car in sight. Hakim looked to the front of the RV just as it came to a complete stop. He watched as Karim unbuckled his seat belt and came to the back.

Karim pulled the privacy curtain back completely, hesitated for a long moment, and finally said, “I am worried about something.”

“You are always worried about something.”

Karim exhaled his frustration and lowered his voice so Ahmed couldn’t hear. “For a minute, could you try not to be so difficult?”

Hakim nodded his consent.

“I have been noticing more RVs as we get farther south.”

“I know that. Branson is like a Bedouin watering hole for RVs.”

“Well . . . they are all old.”

“The RVs?” Hakim asked.


sp; “No, the people driving them. Every time I pass one they wave.”

“And that bothers you?”

“It doesn’t bother me,” Karim scowled, “but I have not seen another RV in nearly an hour.”

Hakim suddenly saw why he was concerned. “They are stopping for the night.”

“I think so. I passed a truck stop a few miles back and there were at least ten of them lined up with the big trucks.”

Hakim thought about it for a moment. “Maybe we should go back. Park there for the night.”

Karim shook his head vigorously. “There must be a charge of some sort. Someone you must check in with.”

Hakim thought he might be right. “What other option do we have?”

“You can get satellite images on your laptop?”

“Yes.” Hakim hit the space bar and took the computer out of sleep mode. Google Maps was already up. He moved the cursor and clicked on the satellite tab and then turned the computer so Karim could see the screen.

“Is that our exact location?”

“No, but it is close. You can zoom in and out over here. If you bring me the GPS device I can tell you exactly where we are.”