“Then you should know I’m serious.”
“I see that. You are not to be deterred.”
Sidorov looked at Rapp for a long moment and then said, “I would like to make one request of you.”
“A meeting?” Rapp asked, not quite sure what in hell the Russian was talking about.
“With you, Mr. Rapp. There are certain things I would like to ask you.”
Rapp glanced at his watch. He needed to get out of here. A concession that he would never follow through with was harmless. “I’ll check my calendar, but don’t expect me to roll over for a bunch of cash, like this piece of shit.” Rapp pointed at Johnson.
Sidorov offered up a business card. “You are not the type of man who betrays his country, Mr. Rapp. I wouldn’t be so stupid as to insult you. We have some mutual areas of interest that I think would be worth exploring.”
Rapp took the card and said, “Fair enough. I’ll give you a call.” He walked over to a terrified Max Johnson, who grabbed the nearest girl and hung on for dear life. “Get up,” Rapp ordered.
Johnson shook his head and drew the girl closer.
Rapp reached over the girl and grabbed Johnson’s left ear. He gave it a good twist and then yanked Johnson to his feet. Rapp grabbed one arm, Reavers grabbed the other, and they dragged him out of the club.
RAPP stuffed Johnson in the back of his car with Coleman. They started driving east, away from the FBI, the Justice Department, the Supreme Court, and pretty much anything else that might represent legal protection for Johnson. With each passing block the houses fell into increasing disrepair. This seemed to add to Johnson’s agitated mental state. Like someone who was afraid of the water being driven farther and farther out to sea, Johnson was not able to keep his cool. He pissed and moaned and begged and pleaded the entire way.
After traveling twelve blocks they pulled into an alley just off the railroad tracks. Rapp had ordered two of Coleman’s guys to scope out the place in advance. It was on the fringe of one of D.C.’s more inhospitable neighborhoods. Dilapidated, abandoned, rusted-out warehouses dotted the area around the railroad tracks. It was the perfect place to kill a man and dump his body.
The setting put Johnson o
ver the edge. He took one look at the two tough-looking guys standing next to the van and started sobbing. Rapp would have laughed at Johnson’s less-than-noble performance, but he was experiencing the front end of a nasty headache that was no doubt the result of the punch he’d taken to the side of his head.
The alley was strewn with garbage. An abandoned mattress was leaned up against a wooden utility pole with a shredded tire sitting next to it. The floodlight that hung from the pole had long ago been shot out, probably by some local gang bangers. Coleman dragged Johnson from the backseat and stood him up. The two guys grabbed him and slapped on a pair of plastic flex cuffs. Johnson stood motionless for a moment looking at the cuffs, trying to decide if this was a good or bad development.
With moist eyes and a pleading voice he said, “Mitch, please don’t do this. There are things you don’t know. You have to give me a chance to explain myself. I haven’t done anything for Sidorov. I only—”
Johnson never finished the sentence because Rapp unleashed a backhanded slap that caught him flush on the side of the face. In the relative quiet of the alley it sounded like a thunderclap. “Shut up and listen,” Rapp said. “If I hear another fucking lie come out of your mouth I’m going to kill you right here.” Rapp pointed at the ground. “Right here in this frickin’ alley with ratshit all over the place and God only knows what else.”
“But . . . people saw me leave with you. You can’t . . .”
Rapp raised his hand again, and it was enough to silence Johnson. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but people are a little more concerned about getting hit by another terrorist attack. Nobody gives a shit about you. You’re a retired rent-a-cop who was whoring himself out to a Russian billionaire.”
“That’s not true. I have friends,” he stammered, “who I was working with. Important people who will want to know what happened to me.”
Rapp wanted to mention Glen Adams, but didn’t. “You’re a fucking traitor and a liar and you’ll say whatever you think will save your miserable ass, but you’ve got one problem, Max. I don’t need a polygraph to figure out if you’re bullshitting me. Unlike you, I’ve spent my entire career in the field. I don’t have a support staff and the latest and greatest technology to get the job done.”
“I don’t have anything against you. I’ve always admired you.”
“See, now that’s an interesting example right there,” Rapp said to Coleman. “He didn’t lie, but he didn’t tell the truth. He may not have anything against me specifically, and he probably has a grudging respect for some of the things I’ve done. But I’ll bet you my entire pension that he thinks I’m a cowboy, and that I don’t give the other people at Langley enough credit.”
“Which is a true statement,” Coleman said.
“Exactly, but he’s either too afraid to say it because he thinks I’ll hurt him or he’s a pathological liar, in which case we’re all wasting our time. So which is it?” Rapp asked Johnson.
Johnson was confused. “I don’t understand.”