Washington, DC – Sunday, Feb. 23, 12:15 pm EST
Anna darted after Sara, who dashed through the Portrait Gallery foyer, barreled out the north door and flew down the museum steps. “Wait, Sara!” she called. At first, Anna stayed on her heels. Limping slightly, she wove around some loiterers, crossed G and ran up 9th. She was on her trail—until she wasn’t. Sara was nowhere to be seen. What next? Was Sara telling the truth? Did Giovanni kill Evy?
Anna kept walking up 9th and took a left at the Carnegie Library onto Massachusetts. Along the way, she called Viktor at the hospital—no answer. She passed block after block of hotels and condos. At Scott Circle, she headed north again on 16th, where the condos ended and row houses lined the streets. Traffic was minimal—it was Sunday. People were sauntering along, laughing and holding coffee cups. The atmosphere felt oddly normal.
When she crossed U, 16th began a sharp incline. The thought of a taxi entered her mind. The doctors had told her to take it easy, but the calming effect of the walk seemed to outweigh the discomfort in her leg. She kept going. The Italian gardens of Malcolm X Park emerged as she ascended the hill. At the top, she turned around and looked—the city sprawled out below her like a rolled-out map. It was spectacular. She reversed again and continued. Beaux Arts mansions lined the strip. She passed little plaques announcing the foreign representations—the embassies of Lithuania, Cuba and Poland, the Cultural Center of the Embassy of Spain, the Mexican Cultural Institute.
At Columbia Road, she checked the time. She’d been walking for about an hour. A new place she’d heard about—an historic church, abandoned for decades, and now a hotel—lay only a few blocks away. She headed over. The lobby still screamed of church foyer, but the enormous square-shaped two-story sanctuary had been transformed. No stained glass here. The midday sun beamed from clear windows in the vaulted ceiling. Plush couches, tables, and chairs dotted the space, flanked by bars on either side. Waiters were delivering brunch drinks and tapas. Nearly a dozen dogs lounged on the couches, not under them. Anna laughed. Canine companions in a DC restaurant! What loophole was this?
Anna found a table and ordered a beer—mimosas weren’t here thing. She wanted to call the New York grad school where Evy and Charles had gone, but it was Sunday. Otherwise, she had two main leads: the ex-NSC guy Garrett Zarribe, who might be a horse’s ass, like Mel said, but still able to produce dirt on Charles de Jeanbourg and Giovanni Salazar; or Steven Brown, the communications director in Senator Caleb’s office, who supposedly fed the lies about her to the Mirror. She wondered what she could say to Brown. Hey, I heard you’re a CIA plant. What are you really up to? And what the heck do you have against me?
She picked Garrett Zarribe. His number at the think tank was easy enough to find on the internet. Waiting for her beer, Anna dialed the phone.
“Mr. Zarribe, this is Anna Jones,” she said on voicemail. “I hope you remember me. Rick Nadyam was your son’s roommate in boarding school—and Rick was my boyfriend back in college, you know, freshman year. I was with him the other week, when we ran into you at Karl’s. I don’t know if you’ve followed the story in the news, but I’m on leave from the Daily Journal due to some BS about a business deal. The story is a lie, ‘fake news’ as they say, and I need help. Please call me back!” She hung up. How many days would it take for a horse’s ass to call back?
The waiter brought the beer and Anna took a swig. Then the phone rang—caller ID indicated it was Garrett Zarribe. “Maybe I’m the horse’s ass,” she said out loud. She answered the phone. “Mr. Zarribe? Is that you already?”
“I’m not the only one working on a Sunday?”
“Hardly. But, then again, I’m working to save my own sinking ship. I gather you’re putting in time for the think tank.”
“Oh, no. The scrambling to keep oneself afloat never ends. I’ve got a fellowship application due Monday. Got to keep up with the foundations. Need a change of pace from the war games projects for the military contractors, you know? Not ready to be put out to pasture.”
“Thanks for calling. I didn’t expect it. I wasn’t sure you’d remember me.”
“Oh, ye of little faith. Of course, I remember you. Not often I get to meet my son’s friends. Yes, learned of your predicament in the news. How can I be of service?”
“I am hoping you can help me figure a few things out. But first, I’m afraid I have to ask if you would be discreet about this?”
“Cross my heart and hope to die. Scout’s honor.”
“OK, then. Here goes.” Anna told Garrett Zarribe everything, except for the part about Sara Reedman. “So, it seems like Evy was on to something at the Bank. She was planning to tell me about it, but apparently someone wanted her to keep quiet.”
“Heavy load, Anna. My role is?”
“Sniff around? Talk to your contacts in the intelligence community and your ex-NSC pals, whomever, and see if anyone knows these guys Charles de Jeanbourg and Giovanni Salazar? Nose around about Steven Brown and the guy at the World Bank, J.D. Smith, too? They’re all rumored to have ties to the CIA. It doesn’t add up, Mr. Zarribe.”
“OK, no problem. Back to you by COB,” he said. “Over and out.”
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