Chapter 3, in which Nick Temple checks in with the folks at Langley
Bill Johnson feels decidedly out of place in his modern, spacious office. As the new Deputy Director for the CIA’s Eastern European Department, he has had to adjust to the perks of executive status. Years in the field followed by cramped, shared office space brimming with countless files and boxes all conditioned him to the life of just another anonymous government employee. When his friend Nick Temple turned down the promotion before going on his first extended leave in years, the Agency looked to Johnson. He has no problem being the CIA’s second choice. When he told Peggy that the only danger he was likely to face for the rest of his career was his daily commute, her reaction and their late night celebration made him forget all about being second in line for the job. He figures he can do twenty years of this standing on his head, and then it’s fairways, greens, and pounding a few at the 19th hole until he drops dead. Not a bad deal.
The intercom buzzes. Johnson flips a switch.
“I have Mr. Temple on the secure line, Mr. Johnson.”
“Thanks, Terry. I’ll take it.”
He switches off the intercom, presses the flashing button at the base of his phone, and picks up the receiver.
“Nick? That you? How come you’re not face down in a bar?”
“Too early in the day. Maybe later.”
Johnson glances at his watch.
“Too early says who? Where are you calling from?”
“Government House. It’s the only secure line on the island that I know of.”
“Right you are. What can I do for you?”
“How’s the new office?”
“Perfect. And you can’t have it back. That goes for Terry, too.”
“I don’t want it or her back. You’re welcome to them both, and you deserve them both. Honestly, I’m getting a little used to the pace of island life here on St. Thomas.”
“How much longer you down there?”
“Officially, a week. But that’s why I called.”
“Take two more weeks, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“It might take longer than that. I ran across a couple of Herms in a bar. They were chatting, nothing too serious, and then one of them slips STASI into the conversation.”
“Not too unusual, right? I mean, Herms and STASI, a pretty natural conversation.”
“Yeah. But it smelled like something out of the ordinary. I want to check it out, see what I can come up with.”
“Done. We’ll put you on expenses starting tomorrow. Give it a couple of weeks. Keep me posted.”
“What’s new on your end?”
“Just getting settled in. Other than that, the usual. The Sovs are keeping us all employed.”
“I’ll let you know if I come up with anything. Say hi to Peggy for me.”
“Will do, Nick. Be careful down there.”
“Piece of cake, buddy.”
They both hang up, and Bill Johnson starts thinking about his Saturday morning tee time over at The Courses at Fort Meade.