Sunday, October 25, 2009
Excerpt from my book
By OTTO STANLEY WULFF
As darkness fell the assassin began to stir in her seat. She reached for the 9 mm Beretta in her lap. She had field stripped and oiled it an hour ago — tenderly, unhurriedly, for she loved this weapon. It was a customized edition with a mother-of-pearl handle, given to her by José, her boss and ex-lover.
She brought the barrel to her lips and kissed it. “Bastard,” she whispered.
From her club chair she reached for the brocade curtains and yanked them wide-open to let in the last light of the dying day. Far below the high floor of the plush hotel the busy streets of Washington, D.C. were bright with rain, but now dusk was coming over the city like a shroud.
A table lamp cast a glow over her face and she caught her reflection in the windowpane — a ghost-like apparition with perfectly proportioned features floating in space. She studied the vision and mockingly bared her teeth. The apparition smiled back.
“Soon,” she murmured and leaned back in the chair.
It was the spell between day and night, when nature’s bidding seemed to hang in the balance. The light was fading slowly, almost stealthily, and darkness was advancing reluctantly — as if mourning the passing of time. Still, there was no doubt about the finality of the hour.
Her large, black eyes glanced at her watch. The diamond-encrusted Rolex read 5:03 p.m.
The assassin stood up— it was time! She took a silencer from a pouch made of soft, black leather. Her fingers curled lovingly around the sleek tube forged of stainless steel and matte-black aluminum alloy and threaded it carefully onto the automatic. The extended length of the weapon slid nicely through the expanded sight track opening of her snakeskin belt holster.
The clock radio on the nightstand showed 5:10 p.m.
* * *
At precisely the same time, and only a ten-minute walk from the assassin’s hotel, Frank O’Brien was entering an office at the National Institute of Drug Research. He came in the door with the resoluteness of an athlete and glanced about the room with studied coolness.
A woman in a white lab coat looked up from her cluttered desk. She was pretty but her face was pallid, her mouth twitched, and she flinched for no apparent reason. Tossing her tangled blonde hair back, she gave Frank a hostile stare, which quickly lost focus.
It figures, he thought. After all, this was the NIDR, a place famous for drug research. He wasn’t cynical by nature, but he’d learned a lot in his three months as a drug agent.
He could have introduced himself by giving the woman a business card, but something made him pull out his DEA badge and hold it up. “Special Agent O’Brien, Drug Enforcement Administration,” he said. “I’m here to see Dr. Harald Snideboom.”
The young woman rose slowly from behind her desk. She smoothed the front of her lab coat and stepped in front of him.
“He just left. And the office is closed,” she said and kept shaking her head as if to forestall any arguments — or was it an involuntary tremor?
“This is the office of Dr. Snideboom?” He wanted to be sure. “Fifth floor... NIDR building?”
“He’s gone,” she declared and shot a glance at a wall clock — it read 5:12 p.m.
“He just called a while ago and said it was urgent,” said Frank.
“Come back tomorrow.”
“I think not...”
“Can’t help you,” she said, her eyes full of spite. “Where’s your partner? Don’t you guys come in pairs?”
Frank hesitated. All right, he thought, she might be a junkie hurting for a fix, but she was no pushover. He raised his voice a notch. “Miss, will you please announce me to Dr. Snideboom?”
“He’s not here.”
Frank knew she was lying.
Biochemist Harald Snideboom was well-known to the DEA for his research in drug addiction, and forty minutes earlier he had called headquarters with an urgent request for an agent to assist with certain safety measures. Frank had been dispatched from the nearest field office to see what the problem was.
Not knowing what to expect, Frank had brought along a small narcotics field test kit and several security seal straps.
He liked to think of himself as an accomplished agent, even with the bone-crunching sixteen weeks at Quantico still fresh in his memory. He was a rookie, yes, but — in his mind — what he lacked in experience, he more than made up for with his wit and excellent training, though at this moment he was wondering.
There was nothing in the manuals about how to handle a strung-out woman blocking your way. Where did his training come in? Interrogation techniques, intelligence gathering and analysis, surveillance — he’d done it all and even excelled in marksmanship and hand-to-hand combat. But a DEA agent must also be courteous and diplomatic, especially in difficult situations. A flying kick wouldn’t do it here.
He was saved when a door on the far side opened and a man in a white lab coat stuck his head out. “Are you the agent from the DEA? Come on in.”
Frank walked past the woman who muttered, “Sorry, Doctor Snideboom, I thought you’d left.” But her expression wasn’t apologetic at all; rather, her eyes burned with hatred.
* * *
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