*based on the true facts of an untrue story
The Rainmaker had worked as a government employee – he had no illusions about using the term “served” – for forty-seven years, and had never lost his raw wonder at the blockheads, both the wide- and narrow-eyed, who played the World’s Great Game.
Watching the bickering at the far end of the table, he resorted to his usual trick to stay awake: with one hand, he took apart a pen – unscrewed the middle, pulled out the cartridge, pulled off its spring, held all four components parallel and flat in his palm, then put it all back together again. He was not ambidextrous, but with the decades and the long moaning meetings, he could do this with either hand, and so fast that anyone who saw would gasp in amazement – but he did it under the table.
That’s it, children, argue yourselves out, he silently told the scrapping officials. Then you’ll be ready for the Voice of Reason. It was what he called his Meeting Rope-a-Dope. And did these people ever need it – Chip Bookbinder had that one right on the money.
Why? Because the hard-boiled CIA guy up by the screen, laser pointer in hand, was telling the truth and wasn’t budging from his position. This vexed the many top officials assembled – NSA, White House, State, DoD, and sundry emissaries from the far-flung empire of American security – vexed them just on general principles: in Washington, telling the actual rank truth only showed weakness, and as to budging from a position, well, we all budged eventually. It was just a question of more access, control, or budget. All had been offered, graciously and frankly, and still the CIA guy was sticking to his point like a barnacle to a hull.
That is: here they were, end of April, just days away from the scheduled raid on Osama bin Laden’s house in Abbottabad, Pakistan – wavelengths assigned, teams limbered up, choppers gassed — and CIA was tossing a stick into the churning spokes of America’s War on Terror.
Following White House orders, CIA, dubious yet dutiful, had trailed Osama bin Laden’s personal courier right to The Man’s house in Abbottabad – all this the previous September. Then CIA – methodically, delicately, discreetly — set up surveillance of the house. Cameras in the guise of chunks of cement, arms busted off little dolls, and used condoms gazed without blinking at those four mammoth walls day after day. Listening gadgets beamed microwaves – from down the street, from across the rooftops, from a hundred miles up in the cold dentist’s waiting room of space – beamed them so long and hard that, as the CIA guy put it, “everyone in the goddamn place should have been turned into roast beef by now.”
Yet not a voice-printable peep was heard from Osama – not so much as an “Anybody seen where I left my glasses?”
Nor had a single glimpse of his six-foot-six frame lumbering past the windows been wrung from the terabytes of video streamed 24/7 over hundreds of days.
Could The Man be that security conscious? the CIA man’s listeners wondered. After all, the compound’s inhabitants burned their own trash rather than have it trucked away, lest some street urchin come across The Man’s fingerprints on a Pakistani Playboy. The kids shepherded to school each morning never once let slip to classmates anything about Grandpa Osama, causing the White House guy to mutter, “Wish I had staff that reliable.” And as bad luck would have it, there was no phone line to tap, though surely the neighbors – neighbors being neighbors the world over – all wondered why someone would build two million dollars of bad taste on their street and not put in a phone line.
“And that has led to our considered conclusion,” the CIA man had said after his half-hour presentation, “that the subject is not there and never was. The courier – if indeed he was a courier — was someone else’s.”
The room was stunned. The room raised holy hell.
For two hours.
“What kinda bullshit is this, boy?” an Air Force general roared. “All the time in the world, finest e-lint money can buy, and you boys can’t find one man in one house?”
“Yes! Exactly! Right! Halleluiah, it’s finally sinking in!” the CIA guy cried in exasperation, tie now pulled down to his second button. “Because he’s not there. Get it, folks? The reason we don’t see him or hear him is – watching the lips this time, right? – he is not there. End of story.”
For the first time in two hours, silence writhed down the lovely oaken table — a long one, supporting the cufflinks and purses of twelve Type-A bureaucrats.
Except at the far end of it, where The Rainmaker sat in his worn black suit and wrinkled tie, one pylon-like elbow propped on the table, his crew-cut balanced on that. His hand worked furiously under the table — he could take apart and re-assemble his pen in twelve seconds — and even with that it was hard to stay awake.
Well, looks like we’re finally getting worn down. Thank god! Five more minutes and I’m going to turn into rigor mortis.
Halfway up the table, the White House guy – in shirt sleeves like his boss, with whom he’d just played “a couple quick three-on-threes, it being such a nice spring day” — swatted back his chair and jumped to his feet.
“Now just wait a goddamn minute. What the hell is this?” he griped. “I’ve got a president looking at re-election in the middle of a recession, and he’s not going to miss out on this. He’s kissed the ass of every one of you guys from day one. Anybody here lacking for budget? Huh? Anybody worried about joining the legions of jobless? Anybody see anything less than a brilliant career path ahead straight through till retirement? Huh? C’mon, speak up if you do — now’s the time.”
Nobody spoke up.
And like the many presidential flunkies The Rainmaker had seen over five decades in government, this one even had his boss’s gestures. He slowly put his hands on his hips to highlight for one and all the flatness of his abdomen.
Of course, that face is so bony you might not have eaten but a leaf of lettuce in six months, The Rainmaker mused.
“All right, all right, all right, so Osama’s not there. Fine. Like I give a fuck! Then you make him there. The Seals are ready to go. They’ve been practicing on the mock-up house for weeks. So you make him there.”
The CIA guy shook his head – once and sharply. “No way. Not a chance. Not doing it, not going there. This is major shit and our top brass is still walking on thin public ice from Iraq and WMD. Been there, done that, and we’re not going back. Report stands: he’s not there.”
“He goddamn well is. The American people never got closure on this guy, and now they’re going to get it. Now do it!”
The CIA man’s face — and it was a big, loose, pale one under left-parted hair – was turning red. The Rainmaker read him as the kind of man who lost every argument with his wife; Chip had chosen him well. “Crawl the fuck back down off my ass! We told you guys from the get-go that we had it from our best assets since the early Bush days: the man kicked it of kidney failure two months after Tora. A half-dozen Mideast newspapers reported the death. Practically every in-theater asset we had came back with the same thing. Did we tell you or did we not?”
“Did we approve your budgets hardly changing a comma, or did we not?”
Why don’t you just pull down your pants, see whose dick is bigger and get it over with? The Rainmaker wondered with a sigh.
The CIA man looked around at the unwilling faces; his opinion was not popular. “C’mon, people, he was on double dialysis, for Chrissakes. Nobody – repeat, nobody — could survive ten more years in that condition.”
“His myth could, and that’s what we’re about here today,” said the White House guy. “We’re going to bury it.”
The CIA man’s forefinger shot forward like a missile. “No. That’s the thing, see. You’re going to ask us to bury it. And we’ve been down that road before, haven’t we? The heavy boys go in and it turns out he’s not there, and then it’s our people explaining to the sub-committee why we were all wrong again. Everyone’s favorite punching bag again. Think we don’t see the play? Forget it. The brass is not going there.”
More writhing silence. The Rainmaker put away his pen, took a deep breath, and spoke.
“One man’s opinion here, but…” he said in his viscous old Midwestern drawl, all heads turning his way. Of all those present, he was the only one without a title before his blotter. “It’s all a question of narratives, isn’t it? You’re just using the wrong one.”
“May I ask who you are and what your agency is?” snapped the White House man, tie wagging as he leaned over the table to get a look at the speaker.
“Oh, what’s in a name? Chip Bookbinder asked me to step in. I keep an office down the hall from his. I’m just kind of coasting along till retirement, to be honest,” The Rainmaker breezed. Harrington Bookbinder was deputy director of the CIA. “People send me psy ops for critique and vetting.” And what hare-brained ops! he despaired silently. “NSA, CIA, just about everybody. The team that polices 9-11 Truthers calls me when they’re in a jam – that sort of thing.”
At the mention of 9-11, several faces at the table went red.
“Now then,” The Rainmaker went on, leaning back in his chair and propping an ankle on a knee. “The problem is not the facts on the ground, but the narrative you give them. You don’t need to say bin Laden’s not there. Just say, ‘Well, there was just such-and-such a possibility that we’d find him there.’” He held up a hand before the objections started. “What kind of phrasing would we be looking at here? ‘Possibility’ needs weakening. Let me think…”
There was a skeptical chuckle to his right, and The Rainmaker turned his head that way and for a long moment nailed an Army Intel colonel in his gaze. The man fell silent. “If you are in the mood for humor, Colonel, I suggest you go inspect your troops.”
“That was uncalled for, sir,” the colonel mumbled.
The Rainmaker looked at his long pale hands, which he wrung for some seconds on his knee. “Ah! Yes, the correct phrase is, ‘A strong possibility.’ That’s the ticket.”
“Strong or weak,” huffed the CIA man. “What difference does it make?”
“Now let’s roll the new narrative and hear how it sounds,” The Rainmaker continued. He cleared his throat and let the silence gather. When he spoke, it was with a deepened voice and the patter of a news anchor:
“‘As late as two days before the raid, the best the CIA could say was that there was a strong possibility that Osama bin Laden was in the mansion. They could tell the president that they were’” – The Rainmaker paused – “‘highly confident. The president asked for confirmation but they could not give it. They gave certain odds, they made certain assumptions — that was the best they could do. Between a rock and a hard place, the president took a risk, gambling his presidency in the bargain. He gave the Seals the green light.’” He stopped and looked at the CIA man at the head of the table. “On board so far?”
“Depends,” he said. “You go in, there’s no Osama. Now what? Finish it.”
The Rainmaker didn’t – not for the moment – and looked at the White House man still sprawled over the table. “And the C-in-C?”
“Yeah, yeah, sure. That’ll play. Keep going.”
“No. No, not quite,” said The Rainmaker. “You’ll need to divert attention from the fact that it’s just a house and one man hasn’t shown up inside it. So you’ll want a lot of moaning and groaning about how hard the op was: Taliban spies everywhere, all the neighbors around, military academy right down the road. And just for good measure, for example, for example…Yes! You red-teamed it first. There we are. You brought in another team of intelligence analysts and presented your findings to them. They agreed: he’s there. I can bring in my own staff this evening if you’d like, just for the verisimilitude: reserve the secure room, make a fuss, order in Chinese, walk out looking grave and statesmanlike.”
The rest of the people were chuckling.
God, what children you are. It’s as if you’re plotting to soap the neighbors’ windows.
“Excuse me, sir,” called a Marine general down the table. “I believe I’ve heard of you. Would you by any chance be the man known as The Rainmaker?”
A modest smile. “An old baseball nickname, I’m afraid, General.”
More laughter. The Rainmaker dipped into his patience.
“Well then, the rest is merely decoration,” he went on with a simple shrug. “The Seals drop in, enter the house and…what? They find one of the men. This unlucky fellow is now our Osama. The Seals terminate him along with all other males – leaving the children and females, whose account one way or the other will hold no weight in the Muslim world. They pack up the body with a lot of laptops and electronic files and then –”
“Hold on. Just hold it right there. That would never fly,” said the CIA man flatly. “That won’t work at all. We’re going to take down the man who is at the center of al Qaeda? Like fucking hell we are. We would haul him down to Gitmo and squeeze him like a tube of toothpaste till he coughed up every last detail of his networks. Everybody knows that, and if they don’t, the Times is going to remind them the next day.”
The Rainmaker could not quite hide his amusement. “Now of course, that’s true. But when the president of the United States calls a surprise press conference and announces that we just put a bullet through Osama bin Laden’s brain, well, I think good Americans will overlook the loss of intel.” He waited for the laughter to subside. “With all respect, sir, you live in Langley, Virginia. The folks who need to hear the narrative live in Memphis and Palo Alto and Dayton.”
The CIA man puffed out his cheeks, shrugged, and finally said, “All right, I’ll stretch a point – fine. But then what about the body? You just killed a guy calling him Osama bin Laden. On one hand, you can’t leave the guy there for anyone to discover. But on the other, what justification do you have for weighing down a chopper all the way back to Bagram?”
“Yeah, that’s right,” said the White House guy nervously.
The Rainmaker had an ugly lower-teeth-only smile like a line of gray tenements, which he now displayed. “To check his DNA, of course.”
“We have his DNA.”
“Exactly. And now we check his DNA against the sample that we have. To i.d. him.”
The CIA guy stared as if talking to an idiot. “You kill him and then you check his DNA?”
“You would rather that we checked it before?”
What I wouldn’t give to take a photo of you all, The Rainmaker thought. The Gadarene swine could have not posed more beautifully before running over the cliff.
“I think the point is, son, to have an excuse to get the guy outta there,” said the Air Force general to the CIA man.
The CIA guy could see he wasn’t going to win this battle either. “All right, fine. But if that one goes sideways, we are not taking the rap, that’s all I can say,” he pouted.
“All right. Now we have a body and we are ready to go,” said The Rainmaker. “The Seals pack everything up with a lot of laptops and hard drives and pendrives soon to be used to complete our narrative – and let’s not ponder too deeply the fact that bin Laden never struck anyone as a computer wonk. Off we fly to Bagram. At first light, the Pakistani police swoop in and carry off the women and children. There is a long-standing agreement, I believe, between CIA and the Paki ISI regarding bin Laden?”
The CIA man rolled his eyes as if to concede a single point. “Yes, we have full rights on capture in Pakistan if we locate bin Laden there. I would imagine they’ll cooperate.”
“All the same, you’ll want everyone to raise Caine for the violation of their sacred territory: ISI, Congress, Musharraf, Paki media, president, the works.”
“They won’t need much encouragement,” the CIA man said drily.
“Indeed – but key for the verisimilitude. And for the sake of narrative, we’ll need some color. For example…” The Rainmaker wrung his hands twice. “The Seals burst in just as bin Laden was reaching for an AK-47 leaning against the wall. And let’s bring in a woman – that always adds the right dabs of blues and violets. Yes, let’s say a woman – a bin Laden wife, say — stepped in front of Osama, who wasn’t gentleman enough to object. And let’s say someone tried to defend him, maybe a son – all in the fanatical spirit of defending the great man to the death. Whatever – the details needn’t connect.”
See? Even you are hypnotized. The moment you enter the story, you’re helpless, The Rainmaker observed, pausing for someone who was coughing.
“Actually, the more blurry the raid is, the better,” he went on. “Let one version come out, then another, then another. Let the public pick and choose. Nothing stinks more to high hell than the classic seamless narrative. Just look at the first moon landing: pure as the driven snow, but half the public no longer believes it happened.”
“Wow! I get the feeling you’ve done this before,” the White House man joked.
“C’mon – finish it. What about the body?” snapped the CIA guy.
“Simple. Once back at Bagram, Forensics checks out the body, takes photos, does the DNA, and then…Well, I suppose you couldn’t just bury him – that would be sticking a hand into the hornet’s nest. Better to cremate him after a moving religious ceremony presided over by an Army Muslim cleric because we…No – no, that’s madness. The bin Laden family would ask for a box of ashes, wouldn’t they? As would half the Muslim world. No, you…where could you….Ah! You fly the body directly out to a waiting aircraft carrier. Moving Islamic ceremony, the body lowered into the sea.” A frown. “You would want to be very careful with the verb there: ‘lowered,’ ‘slid,’ or ‘condemned to the sea.’ Isn’t that what the sailors do?”
“I believe the phrase you’re looking for, sir, is ‘committed to the deep,’ said a Navy Intel man politely.
“Thank you, Captain. Yes, ‘committed to the deep.’ And as to the media, ‘lowered,’ ‘slid,’ or, or…‘eased into the sea.’ Yes, that’s our ticket: eased. Because we’re a feeling people, even with our bitterest enemies. We’re above them. Even bin Laden gets his final ashes-to-ashes with a few bowed heads by his side.” The Rainmaker looked around. “Everyone happy?”
Silence, which no longer writhed, but slithered.
“This is great stuff,” said the White House man. “Great stuff. Hell, you’ve got to come work on our re-election campaign!”
“And lastly we’ll need the endgame,” The Rainmaker went on hastily, to a few laughs. He stopped, looking up at the ceiling, one hand raised tensely. “No. Actually, in this case – public psy op, narrative built from the ground up…No, here you would do well to have three endgames, one for the immediate narrative, another a week or so later to reinforce, and another for the longer term, after the truthers have had their go at it. It won’t take them long to get going on this, you know.”
“Fuck ’em,” said the CIA guy. “We should lock every one of those shits up and waterboard them till they’re sponges.”
“A truly counterproductive act,” said The Rainmaker, and he needed a sharp effort not to add “you fool.”
“How do you figure?”
The Rainmaker addressed the table. “We need truthers, dear ones. We need them making their angry YouTube videos and blogs full of bad grammar and claptrap: ‘blatant,’ ‘obvious,’ ‘utterly.’ They are precisely the ones that make us look as if we have freedom of expression. What embarrassing bits they expose are pinpricks. Yes, Internet is our ally – never forget that. Internet turns everything into nothing. It churns truth and falsehood together in a way I could only have dreamed of years ago when I was briefing reporters in ’Nam.”
The Rainmaker felt their astonishment pulse around the table. Why does anyone need to explain this to you? Because you’ve never once lifted your faces out of a computer screen to think, that’s why.
After a silence, the White House guy said, “You said three endgames. What’s the first one?”
“The first, well… You’ll need to release some kind of video — like the one from Jalalabad where bin Laden confessed to 9-11 at the wedding party? That was one of my jobs, by the way.”
“Yeah, and that was a bang-up job if I ever saw it,” sneered the CIA man, finally scoring a point. “9-11 Truthers cut that to ribbons.”
“Yes, well, I apologize for my fat bin Laden. You know how it is: orders came down, not in the original plan, best we could do on short notice. Our model spent three hours in makeup, and even that and a grainy lens couldn’t do much. But at least the proper impression was made at the right time, and that’s the name of the game. The Truthers arrived far too late. Now then: let’s think of another video, which will be released, say, forty-eight hours after the raid – first video from the stash that the Seals pick up. It should prove bin Laden was recently alive, and we would do well to imply that he still had some type of organization supporting him.”
“How about bin Laden giving a speech to his people in the middle of the compound?” said a heavy, prim woman with a chain of pearls across her chest and the mysterious initials “ARR and J” before her blotter.
“Yes, not bad,” said The Rainmaker. “And that would give us the extra plus of extended jihad after bin Laden dies.” He tipped his head to either side. “But that would also involve an extended frontal view of him, and then we run into identification issues again. We really must avoid that this time. And then there’s the background inside the compound. We have no idea what it looks like. We don’t want anyone sneaking in there after the raid comparing our video with the cracks in the walls. No, we’ll do best to keep it to an enclosed room with an absolutely plain background. And anything in it would have to be moveable.”
The ARR and J woman wasn’t going to give up. “He could harangue people in a closed space in the house, and you could keep the camera behind him, trained mainly on the followers.” She grinned suddenly at the others. “Hey, this is kinda fun.”
“Uh-huh – better.”
“He could have a Pakistani newspaper from last week in his hand,” the man from DoD Intel tossed out. “We could have one flown over tomorrow.”
“Yes, but you would run into the problem of specifying exactly what day it was. Not good. Ambiguity is our ally, dear ones.”
For ten minutes, everyone contributed ideas and The Rainmaker fielded them, rejecting, honing, approving, modifying. You’re like a lot of happy college freshmen in a bull session. ‘This is government at its finest!’ you’re thinking. My god, you belong in a Doonesbury comic strip.
At the end, he said, “All right, I think we’ve got it: a from-behind quartering shot of Osama in a bare room, maybe a computer screen to one side. He’s watching a video composite of news items put together by his team. It should show President Obama, a few current events around the Middle East — the Arab Spring and so on. Can you put that together?” he asked the CIA man.
“I guess,” he said skeptically. “But hell, it’s going to look pretty damn convenient, isn’t it? A video of him taken from behind so that you don’t see his face very much? And what’s on the screen just happen to be events that prove the vid’s recent? Little obvious if you ask me.”
The Rainmaker conceded this with a shrug.
“Besides, if you take video, what do you shoot?” the CIA man went on. “The guy playing with his grandchildren or – well, this is Islam – the guy praying on his rug. Whatever – the guy doing something.”
“Yes, yes, of course – point taken,” The Rainmaker huffed. “But you’re giving your fellow citizens far too much credit. All of these objections will pop up on leftist websites, but only among people who think outside of the TV box, which is very few.” He was wringing his hands again. “Ah, may I ask a favor at this point?”
The CIA man flapped his elbows hopelessly. “Have I ever told you no?”
“When you shoot the scene, would you use a skinny little hard-to-use remote control and tell the model to hold it in his right hand?”
“Bin Laden is left-handed,” said the White House man impressively.
“Was,” added the CIA guy.
“Whatever,” said The Rainmaker. “You see, the Truthers caught me out on that one. I had our Osama filmed writing a note and the pen was in his right hand. It simply slipped my mind. I’d just like to give those bastards a little jab so they know that I don’t really give a pig’s pod for their investigations. Do you mind?”
A shrug. “You got it – right hand it is.”
“Thank you. Now then, the mid-range endgame. Bits and bobs from the laptops and pendrives should come out – most of it very hush-hush, TS/TCI, but pornography should figure prominently – nothing dirties an image faster. And you’ll want someone to mention hair dye found in the house – Grecian Formula, Just for Men, whatever. Vanity deflates the image too, and our latter Osamas were indeed a bit on the youthful side.”
“What about pictures, visuals?” said the White House guy. “If there aren’t photos, people think it didn’t happen.”
The Rainmaker shook his head. “Though for the life of me, I don’t know why; the camera always lies.”
That got a huge laugh.
The Rainmaker took out his pen, held it under his thigh, and went through his little drill, just to keep from shouting at them. Because you still believe the camera, don’t you, you fools? A whole lifetime of movies and heroic presidents has made you as gullible as children before the puppet show.
“But I think, in this case” — a long pause — “the best we can do is the impression of photos, the news of photos, rather than the photos themselves. Photo-shopping some old photos is but the work of an hour, and then we release them on a limited, official basis. We send –”
“Forget it,” said the CIA man flatly. “The Truthers will go through ten thousand photos of bin Laden till they find the one we used.”
“I said release them on a limited, official basis,” The Rainmaker said patiently. “You circulate them among White House staff, perhaps to the top level of State and DoD, everyone mulling and weighing and splitting hairs and debating like real adults: to release or not to release? That is the question. Because these photos are grotesque. Gory. One of the president’s staffers spent fifteen minutes in the Oval Office bathroom puking his guts out after seeing them. Now: I think we can count on these good people not to check if the pictures are just photo-shopped old photos of Osama.”
“Sure. Hey, we’re on board, count on it,” said the State Department Intel guy.
“And at the end?” The Rainmaker asked. “As one these sensitive elites shout no. The photos are just too awful to be released. Osama with his brains hanging out one ear. Osama missing a nose. Osama with half his face blown off. Decency-in-media associations would protest if we released them. Local PTAs. The AARP. Then the Pentagon –”
“Wait a minute. Aren’t you running kind of a risk there?” said the CIA man alertly. “What if the Seals shoot him in the chest? What if his face ends up intact?”
The Rainmaker sighed. “Can someone please tell the Seals that we’d like head shots only? That otherwise our op quickly turns into limburger cheese? Thank you. Now, as I was saying, the Pentagon should also weigh in: these photos would play right into the propaganda hands of our enemies. And the solemn determination is made: these photos will not come to light till well after The Second Coming.”
“Well now, I don’t know here,” said the Marine general. You don’t release any photos, sir, and you’re not going to convince your grandmother. With all respect.”
Others nodded vigorously. The Rainmaker wondered if any of them had greater intellect than the chairs they sat on. He pressed professorial fingertips together. “Let’s remember, dear ones, that our job is not to convince, but merely to give people one or two good reasons not to believe any other version. This is a distinction that I’m always having to explain to various agencies. Sometimes, as in an espionage op, you do indeed need to convince. But this is a public psy op. Here we play with a natural advantage” – a tiny chuckle – “and I would imagine it drives the 9-11 Truthers nuts: Americans naturally believe their government. Such is our political culture. Europeans naturally suspect, Americans naturally believe. Just look how long it took for Americans to believe that Nixon was actually involved in his staff’s Watergate shenanigans.”
“Fine and well, but what if some State Department flunky slips a photo or two to the AP?” asked the CIA man.
“I take exception to your inference, sir” said the State guy.
The Rainmaker held up pious hands. “In that case, the White House’s response is adamant: ‘Those are not official photos. We are not responsible, we do not stand behind them. All the official photos have been gathered up, not to be released until 2061.’”
The CIA man shrugged. “All right. So we’ve got this thing tied off for the short and medium. What was the long?”
“Not much – just a little something now and then to reinforce the basic idea. By then the Truthers will have found cracks in the official story, and it’s not a bad idea to head them off at the pass. A year or so on, the usual movie will come out. And you have books or articles or interviews put out by Seals that claim to have either killed The Man or witnessed it first-hand. If they’re accounts made off the reservation, unauthorized, so much the better.”
“No, no: wouldn’t happen,” said the colonel. “A Seal – who is that? Dyed-in-the-wool military man, that’s what. He would naturally go through channels to publish, for one because he’d need the Good Housekeeping seal from the Pentagon. You’d have to have that in spades. And believe you me, they’d fine-tooth-comb it. He’d have to say something about the months of surveillance. One word about the e-lint used, and they’d blow a book out of the water.”
The Rainmaker nodded. “That’s an excellent point, Colonel. But you see, there’s nothing like scandal to bring out credibility. Pentagon up in arms, threats of lawsuits, threats of cancelled pensions, CIA wailing about how their tricks of the trade are being revealed. You couldn’t ask for better. Properly prepared, the assassination of Osama bin Laden in his house in Abbottabad will soon form part of American history.”
Silence again, complacent and drowsy now.
The Rainmaker stifled a laugh. Why don’t you all yawn and scratch and take a nice splash in the manure pile?
“So are we ready to go?” said the White House guy, looking around the table.
“I guess,” said the CIA guy grudgingly. “We’ll get started on a bin Laden video.” He looked at The Rainmaker and raised his laser pointer. “Right-handed.”
“Thank you,” said The Rainmaker with a nod.
The White House guy strode over to The Rainmaker and stuck out his hand. “Hey, really: you’ve got to come work for us.”
The Rainmaker took the hand and rose. “That’s very kind, sir. But I work in narrative – a nice Dickensian pastime in my old age. The Orwellian stuff – ‘ignorance is strength’, ‘some animals are more equal than others,’ all that – I leave to more mature minds.”
Philip Kraske is the author of four novels including Flight in February, Mockery, The Magnificent Mary Ann, and City on the Ledge. Please visit his website: www.philipkraske.com
*The Views Expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Silent Crow News editorial policy.