This comment made Shaw noticeably stiffen. Frank, perhaps sensing he'd gone too far, looked down at the folder in his lap and said quickly, "Okay, we'll be wheels up in thirty minutes. We can go over the next job on the wings."
"Great," said Shaw dully. He rolled down his window and breathed in the morning air. He did most of his work in the middle of the night and many of his "jobs" ended in the early morning hours. I work for something loosely called an agency that doesn't officially exist doing things around the world that none will ever know I did.
"Agency" policy allowed its operatives to go right up to the line of legality, often crossing it, sometimes obliterating it. The coun- tries financially and logistically supporting Shaw's agency were part of the old G8 vanguard and thus technically constituted the most "civilized" societies in the world. They could never employ brutal and sometimes lethal tactics through their own official chan- nels. So they circumvented that problem by secretly creating and feeding a hybrid beast that was only graded on results achieved through any means possible. Typically, neither personal rights nor the benefit of legal counsel entered the equation.
Frank studied him for a moment. "I sent some flowers to Anna's grave."
Surprised, Shaw turned to him. "Why?"
"She was a fine woman. And for some reason she was head over heels for your sorry ass. That was the only flaw I could find in the lady, her poor judgment in men."
Shaw turned to look back out the window.
"You'll never find anybody that good ever again."
"That's why I'm not even bothering to look, Frank." "I was married once."
Shaw closed the window and sat back. "What happened?"
"She's not living anymore. She was sort of like Anna. I married way above my pay grade. That stuff never strikes twice."
"At least you made it down the aisle. I never got that chance."
Frank looked like he was going to say something else, but lapsed into silence. The two men rode the rest of the way to the airport without speaking.
Copyright David Baldacci 2010