M.CHARLES McBEE NOVELIST, SCREENWRITER, INNKEEPER, WINE INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL
Official Website for a Rising Political & Thriller Writer
The Middle East
Southern Coast of Yemen – The Gulf of Aden
Wednesday, 0049 Zulu, 0349 Hrs. Local Yemen Time
First of all, it’s a pitch black, moonless night. The beach appears to be deserted in both directions. Although the darkness does obscure ones visibility. The sand is comfortably smooth and fine with a richness only found on the south shore beaches of Long Island, New York. Not like the sand found on the Mediterranean beaches. Of course, Yemen is not exactly a vacation destination for Europeans on holiday.
Known as a breeding ground for homegrown and imported terrorists of all stripes, Yemen shies away from those glossy ads in Travel & Leisure magazine.
The only sounds within earshot are waves that lap on shore. The sounds are soothing, calming. Not intrusive or striking.
And it’s these gentle sounds that calm the nerves of VASILI, a tall, yet trim and muscular pure breed Russian who moves slowly from the saw grass onto the beach.
He’s followed by two other men – CHEKHOV and ZOYAN...
Vasili stops at about mid-beach and gazes intently out onto the Gulf of Aden, scanning a wide expanse of the waters’ surface. And from a pocket he removes a long chain. The kind you’d find with dog tags attached. Perhaps twelve inches in length. It holds a key. Its finish chrome. Average size, maybe for a door, it appears.
But this is no ordinary key. On closer examination there are small indentations. Tiny depressions that a trained individual familiar with such a key would recognize as a key that not so much is a mechanical device, but one that is read by a laser.
Vasili spins it absently around his index finger.
Then reverses the process. Then again. It’s clearly a habit, but not a nervous one.
A habit for Vasili that’s more of a little reminder of where the mission might be heading...
The White House, Washington, DC
Friday Afternoon, 1719 Hrs. Local
JACK CONNOLLY, that’s me.
Often described by few as one very cool, extremely bright guy. Late thirties. Single. A babe magnet. And a Naval Officer. That’s me. Running from the West Wing. It’s a happy run. Pleasant thoughts on my mind. It’s not the White House, though. It’s what lies ahead – about two and half hours down the road. And I probably have some bizarre smile on my face that makes me look like someone not tightly wrapped.
Which is a bad thing around the White House.
Now, yes, things are a bit nasty in the world today. Between the North Koreans and the Iranians spewing inflammatory and threatening rhetoric on a daily basis, our National Security apparatus is running constantly on overload. Something you’ll quickly learn I’m acutely aware of these days. I should point out that me running from the West Wing has no direct bearing on the serious nature of the truly electrifying and outstanding story you’re about to read. So, I’m running, despite the fact the place is crawling with hired guns – guys who wouldn’t hesitate a moment to take-down a thirty something, good looking Irish-American dude in sharply pressed Navy whites beating the hell away from the place.
And carrying a large briefcase.
Since I was in my officers’ uniform, they might think I was the guy who carries the infamous “football.” You know that bag with the secret nuclear launch codes in case of a drastic emergency. It also contains the super-secret telephone number for the Reverend Billy Graham, just in case it’s too late, where he can be reached either here on earth, or in paradise. The “football” guy is never more than several feet from the President. I often wonder what happens when the President goes to bed.
Does this guy just sit there, next to the sleeping President and First Lady? I heard during the Clinton Administration he had to wear a blindfold and ear plugs at night. Anyway, I have a lofty position here as a Deputy National Security Advisor to the President for assorted Navy stuff, and I’m usually in a business suit. That’s how the guys in the trees and on the roof with guns know me...
The President's Audacious Re-election Scheme
The White House, South Lawn
Friday Evening, 1927 Hrs. Local
DONALD GIORDAN looks Presidential as he walks from the White House onto the South lawn towards Marine One. If they made a movie about him, Michael Douglas would surely portray the role.
Early sixties, handsome, terribly fit, and, of course, wealthy. It’s always evident when someone is wealthy. Hard to miss.
Except if you’re the lone exception. Like Warren Buffet.
It’s also a requirement for the job of President of the Unites States, a/k/a POTUS. Wealth attracts power. Something that’s badly needed, even by the President. Power gives the President the option of blaming someone else for his – or her – mistakes. Also as President you can lie – easily – without worrying about people not believing you. You’re supposed to know right from wrong. And it’s understood that you hopefully do. Your decisions are officially questioned only by Congress.
And who’s going to believe them? The media is a whole other bag of worms.
And it’s precisely what President Giordan had on his mind this evening. Lies. Who will be lying to whom? Who’s going to find out who’s lying to whom? Who’s going to believe whom? Just one big mess of lies about to unfold.
Which is why he has a smile on his face.
Camp Peary Naval Reservation
a/k/a, Submarine Warfare Center
Monday, Labor Day, 0747 Zulu, 0147 Hrs. Local
...Despite my exhaustion, I’m focused on several charts and a few aerial photos. The charts illustrate various locations in the Indian Ocean and areas near the Persian Gulf. The photos are that of a submarine as it pulls from a harbor, presumably in North Korea. Then more photos of it submerging in the Sea of Japan.
My concentration on this new puzzle is suddenly broken by the sensation of a firm, well-formed female breast that is now planted against my shoulder blade. Her soft, highly erotic voice grabs my attention, making the hairs on my neck stand up and salute.
“What’s it like being in the Oval office?” She asks.
Now, I should mention at this point that the voice is that of the aforementioned Lieutenant j.g. Lauren Miller, USN. And the sound of her voice does more than just arouse even the palace Unix. Which probably explains why I really don’t mind giving up some shut-eye, and working at two in the morning. Without turning back at her, still focused on the charts and photos in hand, I answer.
“Scary.” I like to act nonchalant. You know, ‘all in a day’s work.’ Give the impression that ‘you don’t wanna go there, babe.’
But she says. “I like scary.”
“Then you’d love the guys in Brooks Brother’s suits with guns the size of Volkswagens.”
Just then she moves in a little tighter. With most of her knockout body against mine, she peers for a closer look at the charts and photos in my hand. She takes a moment to compute a careful, well-educated study of this potentially troubling situation. Exactly what I rely on her to do. Because, at the moment, I’m stumped.
She seductively says, “I get off duty at zero two hundred.”
Camp David, Maryland
Monday, Labor Day
1003 Zulu, 0403 Hrs. Local
EIKO NARITA, National Security Advisor to President Giordan, stands at a handcrafted paned window. Her smooth, slightly yellow/olive skin radiates a satin finish to her otherwise Oriental features. Her natural beauty is subtly highlighted by the moonlight filtering through the double hung window in the rustic cabin. It conceals her youthful, stunning looks, as well as her small, yet perfect figure despite the fact she’s not far from 50 years old.
Her gaze seems off into nowhere as her eyes stay fixed on the darkness outside. Not only is it dark, but there is literally nothing to look at.
Deep in the woods in a remote location in Northwest Maryland, and about 70 miles from Washington, DC, Camp David is the ultimate retreat. Inaccessible to everyone, except the President and his invited guests, the Navy stewards who man the Camp, and the Secret Service who are never invited but always show up, Camp David gives the President a reason to escape into a quiet, serene world away from the media, the West Wing and the usual gang of idiots on the Hill.
It’s a great place if you happen to not like anyone in Washington, DC which, for a President, usually runs in both directions.
President Eisenhower had it created for himself after things in D C got a little dicey during his administration. Lyndon Johnson, then the Senate Majority Leader, thought he was the President – although he ultimately got there, the result of a tragic incident in Dallas.
Having Johnson around town drove Eisenhower nuts.
Since he didn’t like anyone very much, not just that blowhard from Texas, and was getting bored with the war games his military pals would develop on a daily basis – “Hey Ike, let’s send Veep Nixon to Russia. Then nuke ‘em. Ha. Ha. Ha.” - it’s safe to say that apparently no one liked Nixon, even back then - Eisenhower needed a “happy place,” or Mamie – his wife - was going to fling him off the Truman balcony, built at the White House during the Truman administration as a way of disposing Republicans after the brandy and cigars.
Burning Tree Country Club
1356 Zulu, 0756 Hrs. Local
In the quiet of the early morning two golf carts pull to the number four tee box. In the first golf cart, Senator Sykes. His driver is Secret Service agent PHIL WITTE, top-notch, earpiece plugged in. They slide out. And amble over towards the tee. As both Sykes, and Secret Service Agent Witte, take in the near perfect day for a round of golf a second golf cart pulls up to the tee box. In the second golf cart, the passenger is… SETH GREENE. Age 53, and known to the Secret Service as Sandpiper. Seth Greene is Vice President of the United States. He's gray, but not with age. Tall, tough, and he smiles a lot. But at first glance this guy is one mean looking bastard. A United States Marine that you would never want to mess with. As a matter of fact most in and around Washington DC believe that Greene thinks of himself first as a Marine, and then as vice president.
As a Marine, Greene was always the first off the boat when engaged in an amphibious landing. His large frame would hit the sandy beaches full bore, smashing anything his way with his size twelve boot, including those innocent little birds known as sandpipers. This fact, that became legend, gave the Secret Service a reason to assign Greene the code name “Sandpiper.”
God-help anyone joining Greene on the golf course with the clear intention of beating the Veep at a round the golf. At the helm of the second golf cart is…Secret Service agent DON WIERDA.
He fingers his earpiece, and scans in all directions. Wierda, typical of all Secret Service agents, stays loose, but alert.
A consummate pro at protecting the Veep.
Office of the Director (DCI), Simon Unger
1422 Zulu, 0822 Hrs. Local
SIMON UNGER looks older than his professed 55 years. It’s probably the shaved head. A grooming decision he made with the intention of looking devious and threatening. Clearly an ego trait. Fortunately for Director Unger he didn’t need the change in appearance, made many years earlier, because he is devious and threatening. Which is perhaps the reason he has ended up as Director of the CIA. Not a job for thin-skinned, wimpy liberals from, say, San Francisco, whose idea of a good time is drinking Cosmopolitans and discussing different ways to stuff roll-up socks into your tighty whities. The kind of people Unger has privately criticized in no uncertain terms. In public, he keeps his opinions to himself, fearful of intrusions by the press, another group he could do without.
Of course, for Simon Unger, he makes sure his looks and body language are misleading. What he thinks never makes it to the surface, playing his cards close to the vest.
Except in private.
He sits in his comfortable desk chair, behind an over-sized intimidating desk, eyes glued to the front page of the Washington Post. A Monte Christo cigar jammed into tight lips. His breathing not at all discernible. Whatever is on that front page does not seem to bother him. At least, not yet.
After a moment, he drops the paper to his lap. And another moment as he searches his brain for a devious thought. The Post headline captures his interest once again. This time he’s more focused, having run through an assortment of scenarios, most dealing with ruining some citizen’s life.
Excerpts from Selected Chapters