Man in the Middle

Man in the Middle by Brian Haig Read Free Book Online

Book: Man in the Middle by Brian Haig Read Free Book Online
Authors: Brian Haig
we’re both sworn to protect.”
    “No . . . seriously.”
    She laughed. And I, too, laughed.
    Indeed, this was an intriguing lady. Of course, it never pays to underestimate the competition. Clearly Bian Tran was a fascinating and surprisingly complex woman—self-confident, forceful, spirited, and, I thought on a more contradictory note, sly, brazen, bawdy, and slightly cynical. Beneath that cool intelligence and soldierly veneer, I sensed, was a woman of considerable passion, of suppressed spontaneity, of independent motives—qualities any smart female in the military keeps in check, if not repressed, if she wants a successful career.
    It’s a little strange. Here was this physically exotic Asian woman, and you expect her to exhibit the manners of the old country, to be inscrutable, demure, subservient to males, and all the rest of that misogynistic crap the occidental male typically associates with oriental ladies. This is why in the great and immutable melting pot of America, stereotypes are such dangerous stuff; they narrow
your
frame of mind, and shape
your
reference and behavior. The object of that stereotype can stuff it up your butt.
    At any rate, this seemed like the right moment to put everything on the table. I informed her, “Cliff Daniels was under watch by the FBI and CIA.”
    She stared at me blankly.
    I wasn’t buying that and said, “I think you already know this.”
    “How would I know that?”
    “You tell me.”
    She looked annoyed. “Maybe this conversation would move faster if you enlighten me.”
    “Maybe it would, but I wasn’t informed.”
    “You weren’t . . . You must have an idea?”
    “I have better than an idea. Think of the one thing that brings these two brotherly agencies together.”
    “Oh . . .” She did appear genuinely startled by this news, then said, “Seriously, I had no idea.”
    “Now you do. And as a cop, you’re aware that espionage takes it out of the hands of the Defense Department and into the pockets of the FBI and CIA. That briefcase is leaving with me.”
    She took a short moment and mentally explored her options. She had no options, but took a stab anyway and said, “On one condition.”
    “Did I give you the idea I’m asking for permission?”
    “Just hear me out. Okay? Let’s work out an arrangement.”
    “I neither need, nor do I want . . . an arrangement.”
    “Oh . . . yes, you do. We leave together with the briefcase, and we’ll search it together.” She put a hand on my arm. “This is a good deal for you. I’m both a military police officer and I’m assigned to the Office of Special Investigations. Suppose we do find something inside that case. I can get to the bottom of it faster than you can.”
    After a long moment, during which I made no response, she added, “My office reports directly to the Secretary of Defense, and we play for keeps. When we ask, people answer.”
    “Sounds like the Gestapo.”
    She looked me in the eye. “We’re not that nice.” After a moment she handed me her cell phone. “Call your boss. Tell him to cancel that call to the Pentagon.”
    “Her.” I took her cell phone. “Give me a moment. She’s going to throw a fit.”
    “Sounds like a tough woman.” She gave me a sympathetic look and added, “I’ll say it again . . . I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get you in hot water.”
    She opened the glass door and stepped back inside, then moved to the far corner of the living room, where she crossed her arms, pretended to study the carpet, and I could observe her observing me.
    I flipped open her cell phone and dialed Phyllis. Miss Teri Jung, her lovely and very affable secretary, answered and said to hold on.
    Phyllis made me wait a full minute before she came to the phone. I sensed she was in an unhappy mood when she opened by saying, “Drummond, I am exceedingly unhappy with you.”
    “I understand.”
    “You had better be calling from your car.”
    “I understand.”
    “I’m expecting a good

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