The Midas Files
The Midas Files
Springfield, Virginia, Six Days after the Attacks
He knew about the brazen assaults on the attorney general and FBI director. They were covered in every daily newspaper and were the subject of speculation on cable television shows around the clock. They also generated a considerable buzz at NSA among Price McLean's associates, but they were technically somebody else's problem, another division's cases. That, however, was about to change. While Stacey returned to school just days after the funeral, he took a week's vacation to sort things out. He hired a part-time nanny to care for Stacey when she returned home from school each weekday, and to prepare her dinner in case he had to work late. He was mowing the grass, which got long and shaggy when a couple of days of sun followed the heavy rain. He turned off the mower when his cell phone rang. He was urgently summoned to appear at FBI headquarters first thing the next morning, vacation or no. It was a stark reminder that duty is an unsympathetic master. He wondered what was so important.
Price, Megan and Stacey McLean moved to Springfield from their original home in Seattle, Washington, where he headed the Bureau's anti-terrorism unit in the Pacific Northwest. The job as liaison to the NSA was a plum thrown his way for heroism in tracking down a notorious international terrorist and saving President David Baxter's life in the process. While he appreciated the promotion and the salary increase, he didn't much like Washington, District of Columbia. To him it was just another big, dirty eastern city with a high crime rate and cost of living, along with abysmal traffic gridlock. Worse, it was infested by preening politicians who scurried about their Machiavellian machinations like so many malevolent gerbils. Just across the state line in Virginia, the Vandervoorts owned a small farm. In those semi-rural environs life seemed simpler, quieter, a better place to raise a family. The town of Springfield consisted of just over ten-thousand homes and about thirty-thousand residents. Schools were good, traffic was light and even though it was a Washington suburb, the hustle and bustle seemed far away. Sometimes Price made the forty-five minute drive into work. But more often, he hopped the Washington Metro Blue Line at the Springfield-Franconia station and digested the Wall Street Journal on the ride in. While commuting is seldom ideal, the benefits of smaller town living best suited the entire McLean family and having Chip, Helen and Zach nearby was a real plus.
Next Morning, the J. Edgar Hoover Building, Washington
He visited the Hoover building on dozens of occasions, sat in many hours of meetings here and de-briefed many difficult investigations. Knowing that Frank Karras was assaulted right outside and that his old pal Lowell Marx now sat temporarily in the director's chair gave the place a completely different feel, however. Marx was the Special-Agent-In-Charge of the Seattle Field Office during a substantial part of McLean's distinguished tenure there. An intense, if diminutive man, Marx was in his early fifties with close-cropped salt and pepper hair, a prominent nose, dark close-set eyes that reflected great intelligence and a solid history as a creative problem solver. He put down his coffee cup, rose and came around the desk as McLean entered the office and the two shook hands and briefly embraced.
"Price, Ellen and I want to express, once again, our deepest condolences on the loss of Megan. I know this is an incredibly hard thing and I don't know if this is the time for me to ask more of you," Marx began, hesitating. "But I'm going to lay it out for you anyway and let you decide." McLean sat back in the padded chair and stretched his legs out, waggling his head from side to side to stretch out the knotted