Page 48 of Rage of Angels

The room was crowded with ghosts. Adam Warner was in his study, preparing a major television campaign speech, but it was impossible to concentrate. His mind was filled with Jennifer. He had been able to think of nothing else since he had returned from Acapulco. Seeing her had only confirmed what Adam had known from the beginning. He had made the wrong choice. He should never have given up Jennifer. Being with her again was a reminder of all that he had had, and thrown away, and he could not bear the thought of it.

He was in an impossible situation. A no-win situation, Blair Roman would have called it.

There was a knock on the door and Chuck Morrison, Adam's chief assistant, came in carrying a cassette. "Can I talk to you a minute, Adam?"

"Can it wait, Chuck? I'm in the middle of - "

"I don't think so." There was excitement in Chuck Morrison's voice.

"All right. What's so urgent?"

Chuck Morrison moved closer to the desk. "I just got a telephone call. It could be some crazy, but if it's not, then Christmas came early this year. Listen to this."

He placed a cassette in the machine on Adam's desk, pressed a switch and the tape began to play.

What did you say your name was?

It doesn't matter. I won't talk to anyone except Senator Warner.

The Senator is busy just now. Why don't you drop him a note and I'll see to -

No! Listen to me. This is very important. Tell Senator Warner I can deliver Michael Moretti to him. I'm taking my life in my hands making this phone call. Just give Senator Warner the message.

All right. Where are you?

I'm at the Capitol Motel on Thirty-second Street. Room Fourteen. Tell him not to come until after dark and to make sure he's not followed. I know you're taping this. If you play the tape for anyone but him, I'm a dead man.

There was a click and the tape ended.

Chuck Morrison said, "What do you think?"

Adam frowned. "The town is full of cranks. On the other hand, our boy sure knows what bait to use, doesn't he? Michael - by God - Moretti!"

At ten o'clock that night, Adam Warner, accompanied by four secret service men, cautiously knocked at the door of Room 14 of the Capitol Motel. The door was opened a crack.

The moment Adam saw the face of the man inside, he turned to the men with him and said, "Stay outside. Don't let anyone near this place."

The door opened wider and Adam stepped into the room.

"Good evening, Senator Warner."

"Good evening, Mr. Colfax."

The two men stood there appraising each other.

Thomas Colfax looked older than when Adam had last seen him, but there was another difference, almost indefinable. And then Adam realized what it was. Fear. Thomas Colfax was frightened. He had always been a self-assured, almost arrogant man, and now that self-assurance had disappeared.

"Thank you for coming, Senator." Colfax's voice sounded strained and nervous.

"I understand you want to talk to me about Michael Moretti."

"I can lay him in your lap."

"You're Moretti's attorney. Why would you want to do that?"

"I have my reasons."

"Let's say I decided to go along with you. What would you expect in return?"

"First, complete immunity. Second, I want to get out of the country. I'll need a passport and papers - a new identity."

So Michael Moretti had put out a contract on Thomas Colfax. It was the only explanation for what was happening. Adam could hardly believe his good fortune. It was the best possible break he could have had.

"If I get immunity for you," Adam said, " - and I'm not promising you anything yet - you understand that I would expect you to go into court and testify fully. I would want everything you've got."

"You'll have it."

"Does Moretti know where you are now?"

"He thinks I'm dead." Thomas Colfax smiled nervously. "If he finds me, I will be."

"He won't find you. Not if we make a deal."

"I'm putting my life in your hands, Senator."

"Frankly," Adam informed him, "I don't give a damn about you. I want Moretti. Let's lay down the ground rules. If we come to an agreement, you'll get all the protection the government can give you. If I'm satisfied with your testimony, we'll provide you with enough money to live in any country you choose under an assumed identity. In return for that, you'll have to agree to the following: I'll want full testimony from you regarding Moretti's activities. You'll have to testify before a grand jury, and when we bring Moretti to trial, I'll expect you to be a witness for the government. Agreed?"

Thomas Colfax looked away. Finally he said, "Tony Granelli must be turning over in his grave. What happens to people? Whatever happened to honor?"

Adam had no answer. This was a man who had cheated the law a hundred times, who had gotten paid killers off scot-free, who had helped mastermind the activities of the most vicious crime organization the civilized world had ever known. And he was asking what had happened to honor.

Thomas Colfax turned to Adam. "We have a deal. I want it in writing, and I want it signed by the Attorney General."

"You'll have it." Adam looked around the shabby motel room. "Let's get out of this place."

"I won't go to a hotel. Moretti's got ears everywhere."

"Not where you're going."

At ten minutes past midnight a military truck and two jeeps, manned by armed marines, rolled up in front of Room 14. Four military police went into the room and came out a few moments later, closely escorting Thomas Colfax into the back of the truck. The procession pulled away from the motel with one jeep in front of the truck and the second jeep following in the rear, headed for Quantico, Virginia, thirty-five miles south of Washington. The three-car caravan proceeded at high speed, and forty minutes later arrived at the United States Marine Corps base at Quantico.

The commandant of the base, Major General Roy Wallace, and a detail of armed marines were waiting at the gate. As the caravan came to a stop, General Wallace said to the captain in charge of the detail, "The prisoner is to be taken directly to the stockade. There is to be no conversation with him."

Major General Wallace watched as the procession entered the compound. He would have given a month's pay to know the identity of the man in the truck. The general's command consisted of a 310-acre Marine Corps air station and part of the FBI's Academy, and was the principal center for training officers of the United States Marine Corps. He had never before been asked to house a civilian prisoner. It was totally outside regulations.

Two hours earlier, he had received a telephone call from the commandant of the Marine Corps himself. "There's a man on his way to your base, Roy. I want you to clear out the stockade and keep him in there until further orders."

General Wallace thought he had heard wrong. "Did you say clear out the stockade, sir?"

"That's right. I want this man in there by himself. No one is to be allowed near him. I want you to double the stockade guard. Understood?"

"Yes, General."

"One more thing, Roy. If anything happens to that man while he's in your custody, I'm going to have roasted ass for breakfast."

And the commandant had hung up.

General Wallace watched the truck lumber toward the stockade, then returned to his office and rang for his aide, Captain Alvin Giles.

"About the man we're putting in the stockade - " General Wallace said.

"Yes, General?"

"Our primary objective is his safety. I want you to handpick the guards yourself. No one else is to go near him. No visitors, no mail, no packages. Understood?"

"Yes, sir."

"I want you personally to be in the kitchen when his food is being prepared."

"Yes, General."

"If anyone shows any undue curiosity about him, I want that reported to me immediately. Any questions?"

"No, sir."

"Very good, Al. Stay on top of it. If anything goes wrong, I'll have roasted ass for breakfast."