Font Size:  

“I know you shot me in the foot last night for no good reason. That’s what I know about you.”

Rapp could see what Coleman meant now by the pity party thing. “In the broader sense, Max, what is my reputation as you know it?”

He looked around the room nervously and shrugged his shoulders.

Rapp took off his suit jacket and draped it on the back of the chair. He rested his hand on his gun and said. “It’s not a trick question, Max. Honesty is what’s important this morning. I don’t care if you insult me, just tell me the truth. That’s the only way I’ll let you walk out of here. Do you understand me?”

“I don’t know. This is so fucked up.”

“There’s nothing to think about,” Rapp said a bit more forcefully. “The truth is the truth and a fucking lie is a fucking lie, and if I think you’re lying to me, we’re going to start up that gam

e again.”

“What game?” Johnson said in genuine confusion.

Rapp drew his gun for effect and said, “Left foot, right foot, left knee, right knee.”

Johnson buried his face in his hands.

“So remember,” Rapp said, “the truth. Now for the second time . . . What is my reputation?”

Johnson shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know . . . you’ve killed a lot of people.”

Rapp tried to be objective. “All things considered I guess that would be a true statement.”

“And after last night,” Johnson added quickly, “I don’t doubt it for a moment. I mean what the hell . . . I was at Langley before you were. I put in my twenty-five years. I served. What you did last night was wrong. I mean, that’s no way to treat a fellow professional.”

Rapp was glad he’d gotten five hours of sack time, because Johnson was a perfect example of what happened to the human mind if deprived of sleep. Add to that the fact that he probably hadn’t felt real pain since he was a kid, and you had a very agitated fifty-six-year-old man. “So let’s do a quick recap. For the last year, you’ve been whoring yourself out to whoever will pay you. You’ve broken dozens of laws. You’ve illegally spied on officials in your own government—”

“Illegal!” Johnson scoffed. “What would you call this? You don’t exactly play by the rules.”

“I sure don’t, but there’s a big difference between what I do and what you do.”

“Maybe in your mind.”

“Really . . . why don’t you tell me how much money I’ve made breaking the law during the course of my career?”

Johnson squirmed in his seat.

“I’m not into your relativism, Max. I do this job because I think it’s important. I do it because narcissistic fucks like you care more about your own ego and making a buck than our national security. What really pisses me off, though, is that you’re the same assholes who when the next 9/11 happens, will all sit around pointing your fingers at guys like me and saying I didn’t do enough to protect the country. Well, I’m fed up, Max. I’m sick of swimming upstream. I’ve spent the last two days running around dealing with bullshit like this. Like you. Greedy fucking children, who don’t give a shit about anyone or anything other than yourselves.”

“That’s not true.”

“Really?” Rapp folded his arms across his chest. “You call yourself a fellow professional, Max. Well, if you really think you’re a professional, then you know damn well that you wandered way off the reservation and I have every right to put a bullet in your head.”

“That’s not true . . . there are things . . . things you don’t know about.”

“Bullshit!” Rapp yelled. Adams had tried the same line on him. “It’s your choice, Max. Are you going to repent with all your heart and soul, or am I going to put a bullet in your head? Your choice!”


THIS was not Rapp’s first séance, as they liked to say in the business. There were a couple of books out there on how to properly interrogate a prisoner, but they were pretty remedial. The more nasty stuff could be found in the CIA’s Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual or the KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation Manual. This was stuff that the CIA had authored decades earlier when people were either brave enough or crazy enough to put such things in writing. Rapp had read both a long time ago, and found them to be useful in the sense that they offered an outline, but it was all a little bit like reading about a baseball swing. Most people can read and easily understand the swing, but less than one percent of one percent of the population can actually step into the batter’s box and hit a ninety-mile-an-hour fastball.

Rapp had no doubt that Johnson was scared to death of him. But was he scared enough to actually tell the truth? With most people, the fear of death or severe pain was all it took, and as long as you could check out the story they would tell you the truth, because if they lied, you went back into the room and pushed whatever button worked. Johnson looked up at Rapp and in a convincing voice said, “I want to tell the truth.”

Now came the sticky part. With Johnson, the crux of the problem was that he had lived by a double standard for so long that he thought lying was his birthright. He was the great inquisitor, charged with making sure Langley’s people played by the rules. And if he had to break the rules to catch them, then so be it. He was above it all. The rules were for the little people. It was no wonder he and Glen Adams had become bosom buddies. So Rapp had to come at this one from a slightly different angle.

“I have to be honest with you. I have a long day in front of me. I have to go pick up a friend this morning who’s all fucked in the head because he’s been working his ass off and he’s come within a fraction of losing his life twice in the past year, and his job is made five times harder than it should be because he’s got assholes like you running around. And then I have to get up to the Hill and listen to all those blowhards on the Judiciary Committee grill me because I didn’t treat some terrorist with kid gloves and then after that I have to get over to the White House and tell the president that I either killed you, like he asked me to do, or I spared your life and went against his orders.”

Articles you may like