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Jon Wilson was in the hallway of a large office building. Alarms were sounding and people were flooding the hallways. "What is going on?" he asked aloud. "An incoming missile attack," he heard. He looked up as if it would be possible to hear or see something above him. Then, the next thing he knew, he was awake staring at the fan hanging from his bedroom ceiling. He immediately rolled over to his left and shut off the alarm. Then he rolled back to his right. Mary Lou, his girlfriend, was just beginning to stir. He got up slowly, hoping she might enjoy a few more minutes of peace, and made his way to the bathroom, to relieve himself, brush, shower, and shave. When he returned to the bedroom, Mary Lou had fallen back to sleep. He had already laid out his clothes for today, so he quietly picked up the pile and went off to his den to dress. He had a very important meeting today and he needed to look very professional. Today he would be wearing his gray suit, a white shirt, and a dark blue power tie that Mary Lou had given him for Christmas.
Jon and Mary Lou got along well and had been living together for almost a year. Each had been married once before. Neither had kids, and except for Mary Lou's mother, neither had family. Jon's marriage ended twenty-one years ago while stationed in Saigon. Back then, he had a supportive wife whom he adored, but the stresses of his work and his attraction to other women got in the way. At that time, Jon was officially an employee of the Department of State and he had an office at the US Embassy. However, his real job was working covert operations for the CIA. He was also an ex-special forces officer. He was six feet tall, weighed about 190 pounds, and was handsome. His charming personality was icing on the cake. Women could not resist him. Of course, this was upsetting to his wife. To make matters worse, she wanted to have kids and live the American dream in a stable environment. He could not give that to her. Saigon was a war zone. As one might expect, his marriage did not end well. Over the years that followed, Jon became accustomed to the notion that the traditional American dream was never going to be his. You know, a wife, kids, house in the suburbs with a white picket fence and a dog, etc. At 54 years old, Jon was more mature now. He cared for Mary Lou and he had learned to remain loyal. However, he was not sure about getting married again.
Mary Lou McGuinness was twenty years his junior and she was attractive. She was about five feet eight inches tall, trim, and very fit. Mary Lou had light colored skin and light colored hair. Her light hair belied her name, but McGuinness was her ex-husband's name. She and Jon had met two years ago while jogging along a path overlooking the Potomac River. He fell in love with her short wavy light brown hair, her cute seductive smile, and her obvious intelligence. They dated, and decided to live together in Jon's condominium almost a year ago, when her lease expired. She told Jon about her own misfortune with marriage. She told him that she had grown up in a rural town in North Carolina, received a degree from Duke University, and then married her high school sweetheart. She said that she and her husband lived in relative poverty in the same rural town where she grew up until they divorced due to her husband's drinking. Meanwhile her father died and her mother moved to the west coast. After her divorce, Mary Lou went to live with her mother in Oakland California. While there, she worked at a travel agency by day, and earned a master degree in management at night. According to Mary Lou, however, living with her mother was difficult. Her mother was a devout Catholic and did not approve of her dating unless she got an annulment, and they did not agree on many other things as well. Mary Lou needed her independence, so after only four years, she came to DC to look for work, and make a new start in life. She was able to land another job working for a travel agency, but since she had experience and a master's degree she quickly became the manager of the Travel Star Agency in nearby McLean Virginia. She told Jon she felt secure in their relationship, and she was happy. Mary Lou understood Jon. She told him that it was okay with her if they did not marry.
Jon worked at the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Virginia, about a mile from where Mary Lou worked. When they moved in together, they decided they only needed one car. Jon had just bought himself a fancy dark blue BMW, so Mary Lou sold her old clunker, and they shared his car. Normally they would drive into work together, but today would be different. Today, she would take the car to McLean herself, and Jon would take the Metro. Jon was a high-ranking officer at the CIA in charge of special projects. He had set up a meeting for today with his intelligence counterpart at the Pentagon. Other high-ranking officials from other agencies would also attend. This was a very important meeting concerning new intelligence he received affecting the nation's security. He would walk to the nearby Grosvenor Metro station and take the Metro all the way to the Pentagon.
Jon fetched the daily paper from the front door of his condominium apartment, and took it to the kitchen. As he began preparing the coffee, he could hear Mary Lou stirring in the other room. She found the aroma of freshly brewed coffee very inviting and it would not be long before she would join him in the kitchen. Meanwhile, he poured himself some orange juice, swallowed his blood pressure pill, prepared a bowl of cereal and milk, and opened the newspaper.
Today was Thursday March 17, 1988. "Iran-Contra Indictments Returned" was the headline! The Iran–Contra affair was a complicated arrangement between Israel, the United States, and the rebels in Nicaragua. Using Israel as an intermediary, the US had sold arms to Iran. The U.S. hoped to improve relations with Iran and get their help to free hostages held by Hezbollah in Lebanon. Meanwhile, Ollie North had arranged to divert some of the proceeds from the arms sale to aid the Contras in Nicaragua that were fighting the communist backed Sandinista government. The entire operation was illegal.
The Iran-Contra affair had been a major scandal for the Reagan Administration for more than the past two years, and during this time, Jon had spent much of his work effort gathering relevant intelligence. Eventually, on November 25, 1986, President Reagan created the Tower Commission to investigate the allegations of wrongdoing. The commission presented their results to President Reagan three months later. The evidence was irrefutable. Members of the Reagan administration were conducting illegal activities to support the Contras. On March 4, 1987, Reagan apologized for his lack of understanding of the actions taken by his administration and for his delay in speaking about it. In his speech, he revealed everything to the American people, and took full responsibility for what happened. Then yesterday, almost one year later, a grand jury indicted four important people. They included John M. Poindexter, a former National Security Advisor to President Reagan, and Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, a former aide to the President's National Security Council. Of course, the press loved this type of scandalous news. Yet Jon could not help but wonder if the real story was the one unfolding slowly in the Soviet Union. It was one not getting much press, and it was the subject of today's meeting at the Pentagon.
Jon was only halfway through the article when Mary Lou entered the kitchen. "Good morning Sweetheart," he told her and gave her a good morning kiss on the mouth. "Sorry I woke you up earlier than normal. I have —"
"It's okay Jon," she interrupted. "You told me you had an important meeting this morning — thanks for making the coffee. Did you remember to take your blood pressure pill?"
"Yes, I did. ... No need to remind me," he added.
"I'm just looking out for you Jon. ... Do you know what time you will be home tonight?"
"I think so. I plan to work out of my temporary office at the Pentagon after the meeting. However, I will probably leave earlier than normal and catch the Metro around five. Be home by six thirty."
"I was thinking that maybe I could pick you up at the Metro station. You could call my work number before you leave the Pentagon. I don't like the idea of you walking from the station in the dark and in the cold. What does the paper say about today's weather?" Jon went back to page one.
"It says lows this morning below freezing, but highs in the low forties — Forty-five percent humidity — cloudy — no rain. ... Not so bad."
"I worry about you."
"It's okay Babe, you don't need to worry, but I will call you before I leave work and we can take it from there. Okay?"
"Okay, but today is Saint Patty's Day, and I saw where Kelsey's is having a special corned beef and cabbage dinner. I was thinking that maybe we could go. I could pick you up at the 'Kiss and Ride' and we could drive right from there. What do think?"
"It's a date," he said, as he gave her a peck on the neck.
Then Jon went back to his den, picked up his attaché case, made his way to the front closet, put on his winter topcoat and hat, and said "bye" to Mary Lou. As he walked out into the hallway, he heard "don't forget to call me." Rather than wait for the elevator, to make it all the way up to the 19th floor, he took the stairs down the first six flights and then took the elevator from there. He felt good as he walked out the main entrance of his condominium onto the street. Jon's only medical issue was high blood pressure and he took pills for that. Otherwise, at 54 years of age, he was still in great physical shape and he welcomed every opportunity to stay that way. It was cold out, and it was breezy, but he did not mind. He enjoyed walking.
* * *
The Grosvenor Metro station was only a half mile away, and the fresh air felt good to him. Although Jon did not ride the Metro every day, he did ride enough to warrant a prepaid fare card. It saved the time and aggravation of finding the right change and waiting to use one of the few payment machines before boarding. It was around 7:30 a.m. when he arrived at the station, the start of peak rush hour. The station was busy. He inserted his card into the turn-style reader, took it back when it popped up on the other side, and walked down to the platform. The platform was below street level, but not underground. Jon was beginning to feel the cold, so he made his way to a covered waiting area. Several others already huddled inside. The train would be there in about seven more minutes.
The Red Line ran from Gaithersburg Maryland, stopped at Grosvenor, and continued all the way to Metro Center, the main hub in the District of Columbia (D.C.). The route paralleled Wisconsin Avenue (Route 355 in Maryland) running in a Southerly direction. After Metro Center, the Red Line continued in a Northeasterly direction back out of the city toward Silver Spring, Maryland. However, Jon planned to change to another line at Metro Center that would take him out to the Pentagon on the other side of the Potomac River in Virginia. After leaving Grosvenor, the train would descend into a tunnel and go underground. The remainder of Jon's trip, all the way to the Pentagon would remain underground.
The train arrived at Grosvenor. No one got off. Jon squeezed his way onto the train and was lucky enough to find a seat. After settling down, he began to think about the meeting he had set up for 9:00 a.m. Yesterday, he had received information from an operative named Chan. Chan worked in the US embassy in Beijing as a communication data processing specialist. However, his real job was spying for the CIA. After reviewing the information and verifying its veracity with his key staff, Jon made the decision to request this morning's meeting. The information was critical to the national security and action was required.
As the train moved through the tunnel below ground, the constant whirring from wheels and air movement lulled Jon into a dreamy state. The early hour and the walk in the cold probably added to his semi-conscious state. He began to mentally reminisce about Chan. Officially Chan was dead. Figuratively, Jon had killed him, but in reality, he saved his life, for which Chan would be forever grateful. Chan had worked under cover for Jon in 1967 in Saigon. The mission was to root out a network of enemy agents, Viet Cong, and North Vietnamese sympathizers. Chan had a serious girlfriend named Kim who lived in Cholon, the Chinese district of Saigon. Chan suspected Kim's father of being an enemy ringleader. During a visit to the family's home, Chan was successful in photographing a document containing the names of enemy agents in the Saigon area. Unfortunately, the father became suspicious and used a ruse to summon Chan for a "family meeting" at the end of the next workday. However, Chan had a meeting that evening with his CIA contact Donna Rice to turn over the roll of film containing evidence. Chan was suspicious of the reason given for the family meeting. The father had claimed that his daughter thought she was pregnant, and the matter required a family discussion. Although Chan and his girlfriend had frequent sex, he did not think it possible that she was pregnant. However, he and Kim were truly in love, and he was not about to abandon her. He felt the need to go, and although he sensed some risk, thought he could talk his way through it. He tried to contact Donna, but unable to do so, he called Jon and explained the situation. The father was to have a driver pick him up at his bachelor officer quarters (BOQ). Jon asked where the camera was and learned it was in Chan's room at the BOQ. Jon told Chan to keep the appointment with Kim's father and that he would notify Donna on his behalf. Of course, none of this is what actually happened.
Jon had not told Donna or Chan anything more. He did not want Chan to have his family meeting. Surely, that would mean interrogation followed by death. Instead, Jon arranged to pick up Chan as he left work and before he could return to his BOQ. Chan resisted at first, but the two agents that Jon sent to intercept him were convincing. They took Chan's wallet and ID and whisked him off to an undisclosed location. Chan found himself on a CIA flight to Hong Cong before the night was over. Meanwhile Jon arranged for a mutilated body from a morgue to show up in the future with Chan's identification. Chan's death had to be believable and he could not risk sharing the truth with anyone. Jon often had mixed feelings about what he did. Although Chan had no family, there were people who would miss him. He felt badly for Kim who lost a lover and would initially think that Chan ran out on her, and may later think her father had killed him. Jon also felt badly for Chan, but did not see an alternative to what he did. In addition, he felt badly for Donna, who he considered a friend as well as an agent. For a while, Donna thought she was in some way responsible. No one could know the truth, and Jon carried this around with him.
Something caused him to stir and regain his senses. He looked out the window and noticed that they were leaving the Farragut North Station. The man sitting next to him had gotten off and left his newspaper on the seat. It was the Washington Post, the same as Jon was reading at home. Jon picked it up before someone else took the seat, and he began reading the rest of the paper he had started earlier. He began reading another article that said that President Reagan had just ordered 3200 more troops to Honduras. According to the article, this show of force would indirectly support the Contras and our mutual resistance against the Nicaraguan Sandinistas.
The next stop would be Metro Center where he could change to the Blue Line. By this time, the train was very crowded. Most people would get off at Metro Center. Some would stay on until Gallery Place. He hated crowds, and considered the option of staying on until he got to Gallery Place, and take the Yellow Line from there. However, both stations would receive passengers from crowded trains coming from multiple locations in Maryland and Virginia. Both stations would be very crowded. He decided to change at Metro Center. He got off the train and fought his way through the crowds to the lower level of the station. He took the paper with him, and waited for the next Blue Line Train.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Boulder Creek Project"
Copyright © 2018 Peter S. Eisenhut.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
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