Free Fall
going to start calling the bars." She paused for a moment.
    "I was starting to worry when I didn't hear from you. Was I right to have?"
    Beamon smiled and straightened his legs halfway out across the back seat.
    "I don't know yet."
    "I'm sure what you meant to say was, "I was in and out in five minutes I'll be on my way back as soon as Congress is done slapping me on the back and giving me cigars.""
    "I was in and out in six and a half hours, no cigars, and it wasn't my back they were slapping."
    "But were they happy with your respectful and concise answers?"
    "No. But I'm starting to think that might be a good thing." Beamon looked up at the driver for a moment, wondering how much he should say in front of the man. He decided it didn't matter. Hallorin probably already had a transcript of the hearing sitting in his fax machine.
    "We've had months of media frenzy over those tapes, two high-level resignations and God knows how many indictments in the works. It was a fishing expedition they were looking for something they could use to divert the attention of the press."
    "And you didn't give it to them, right? You didn't let them make you mad and bait you into saying something stupid."
    "Your lack of confidence in me is startling, Doctor."
    "Answer the question, Mark."
    "The answer is no, I didn't. But I doubt it mattered. The only reason I was there was because they would have looked silly having a hearing without a witness. They'd already made their minds up about this before I'd ever opened my mouth. It's gone way beyond me."
    Beamon pitched forward as his driver slammed on the brakes and laid on the horn.
    "Are you in the car, Mark? What time will you be back?"
    "Well, I am in a car, but it's not mine."
    "Whose car are you in?"
    "David Hallorin's."
    Another pause. This one much longer.
    "Carrie? You still there?"
    "The David Hallorin?"
    "Uh huh."
    "Why, Mark? Why are you in his car?" There was a tired frustration in her voice that didn't really surprise him. He'd been in a hell of a bind when they'd started their relationship and it seemed to have gotten worse every day since. If she was smart, she'd have moved to Alaska and changed her name by now.
    The driver swung the car right and slowed, starting up a steep, winding road. Beamon looked down at the lights of the city and the dark streak cut through them by the Potomac.
    "I don't know, Carrie, but I guess I'm about to find out. Try not to worry, okay?"
    "You make it hard."
    A large iron gate that seemed to have been built in the middle of the street began swinging open in front of the car.
    "Look, I've got to go. I'll tell you all about it when I get back."
    "I don't know what's going on, Mark, but take my advice and run away."
    "I'm going to do my best, believe me. See you in a few hours."
    Beamon replaced the phone and surveyed the floodlit landscape around him as the car moved slowly through the gate. Hallorin's house wasn't yet visible, but Beamon could see a powerful glow escaping a group of trees more than a half-mile in the distance. He tried to roughly calculate the cost of this kind of acreage so close to Georgetown, but more than twenty years on a government paycheck wouldn't allow him to count that high.
    "What's that?" Beamon said, pointing to something that looked like a primitive machine that had been turned into a piece of lawn art. He leaned in close to the window, but the glare reflecting off the metal sculpture made it impossible to read the plaque on the pedestal.
    "It's an original piece of Henry Ford's assembly line," the driver said.
    "I don't know exactly what it did helped put the body on the chassis or something like that."
    Beamon nodded and sank back into the narrow seat. It made sense.
    According to one of the countless daytime TV programs Beamon had watched since his suspension, David Hallorin had quit his job as a D. C. prosecutor while he was still in his twenties, borrowed against everything he owned, and purchased a failing tractor parts

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