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» The General - Chapter 15

The flight back to Baltimore would be that of boredom and insomnia. He already wasn't getting very much sleep now that his arm ached from the wounds he received only compounded the problem. So he stayed up working on reports and other "beurocratical nonsense," as he liked to call it, that he need to catch up on while trying to keep his mind off his arm.

About half-way into the flight his hand was killing him from all the writing; he placed the papers back in his bag and noticed a book that he had not remembered putting in there. He scanned the aircraft looking for someone to with he could talk to, but everyone was either asleep or entrenched in their own work. "Nothing better do, I guess." He mumbled to himself. It wasn't the most interesting title, but it he thought it might help him fall asleep. He picked it up and began reading.

The plane arrived in Baltimore early in the next morning. Conrad, as he hoped, was out like a light with the book resting up against his chest. He was so asleep that he didn't notice the plane landing and stopping, it had to be brought to his attention by a flight attendant who was making her final rounds.
"Sir, sir." the flight attendant said tapping Conrad's shoulder. Instinctively Conrad grabbed the flight attendants arm and with his other hand reached in his jacket and pulled out his sidearm and pointed at her head. "Sir, I was only going to tell you that the plane has landed and you can get off now.." she said now breathing heavily.
"Oh...yeah thanks. Sorry about that." Conrad replied realizing where he was, he then let go of her arm and replaced his weapon. The flight attendant got away as quickly as possible, she knew who he was and knew he had permission to carry a weapon on board, however, still the thought of her life being threatened didn't appeal to her so she wanted to get away from him as quick as possible. Conrad collected his items and disembarked the aircraft. Awaiting him at the airport was Harrison and a few others on his staff.
"How was your trip to Germany, sir?" Harrison asked.
"Oh, nothing special. Just 'shot' in and out." Conrad said with a smile. Harrison pointed him in the direction of their jeep, where it would be another forty-five minute drive to the pentagon for another round of debriefing before his R&R would begin.

They arrived at the Pentagon a few minutes ahead of schedule as Conrad insisted that the driver, drive "more aggressively." The Pentagon was a much different place than he had left it, the parking lot was full of craters and there were lots and lots of scrap metal from tanks, barricades and anything else that was converted into a weapon. Then out of the corner of his eye he noticed something that looked very familiar.
"Uh...that looks a lot like my car." Conrad commented.
"That's because it is your car, sir." Harrison replied very uneasily.
"Oh, and why does it have bullet holes and everything broken to pieces." Conrad asked. Well it appears as it was used as part of a shield." Harrison said still waiting for Conrad to explode.
"You know what that is....was, Harrison?"
"A car, sir?" Conrad sighed at Harrison's reply and then was about to say something but just walked away. "Sir, I can get you a ride home if that's what you're worried about."
"Yes, fine." Conrad responded still upset at the loss of his car. "Also, get me some flowers for my wife...not something cliché like roses, something like...lilacs, yes, blue lilacs."
"Yes, sir." Harrison replied.

As Conrad expected his debriefing took longer than he'd hoped, which meant that his wife would be waiting for him and that was never good. When he finally got out Harrison was waiting for him outside with flowers and a jeep.
"I got everything you requested, sir." Harrison said.
"Good." Conrad replied taking the flowers and keys from Harrison and then getting into the car.
"Wait, sir. You can't take that. I'm supposed to drive you there." Harrison said frantically.
"Don't worry I'm bringing it back, Harrison. Well...see you in two weeks. "Conrad said speeding off. Harrison could only waive as Conrad drove off. And little did either of them know that the two weeks would be shorter than usual.

*    *   *   *   *   *

Conrad arrived at his house that he had not known for some four months now, he was much looking forward to sleeping in his own bed and with his own wife. He got out and grabbed his flowers and approached the front door, stopping only to adjust his collar. After finishing making himself "presentable" he knocked on the door only to find that it was ajar.
"Hello?" he said opening the door and going in. "Hello? Sarah are you there?" he said again getting very worried as she was never one to leave the door open if even just for a minute. He entered the house and then his worry turned to near panic as the house was a complete disaster, chairs, tables turned over, papers scattered, glasses broken, "There wasn't any fighting in this area," he thought out loud, "there's no way she'd let this mess stand, at all." Then he heard a groan from the other room, he put down the vase of flowers and exchanged it for his 9mm. Moving to the rear of the house, following a streak of blood on the wall. He touched it, "Still wet.". He moved closer and closer to the master bedroom where the stains were leading, he then peaked around the corner and moved into the room at the ready only to see it...

"Sarah, Sarah, answer me." Conrad said dropping his weapon and grabbing his wife off the floor. No response, she just lay there idle. He went to grab his cell phone to call for an ambulance when he saw that his hands were now covered in blood. After applying a piece of clothing to the wounds he found on his wife's back he dialed a seven digit number.
"Captain Harrison speaking."
"Harrison! This is Conrad. Get an ambulance over to my house, now!"
"Why, what's wrong, sir?"
"God dammit, just do it." Conrad said hanging up the phone and turning his attention back to his wife.
"Sarah, Sarah." he said again tapping her on the cheek. She gave off a soft moan and then regained some consciousness.
"Adrian?" she got out.
"Shh...don't speak save your strength help is on the way." Conrad reassured his wife.
"What took you so long?" Conrad let out a laugh and so do his wife but she began to cough and then cough up blood.
"Shhh.....I'm here for you now everything's going to be alright." A single tear dripped down his face as he watched his wife slip away, she smiled but only coughed up more blood, which Conrad promptly wiped away. Conrad then realized that the ambulance would be too late and finally knew that there would be no saving her.
"Sarah, who did this?" he said looking directly into her eyes. "Who did this?"
"D..., D..." she tried but was unable to form the answer and then with her last act reached up and wiped off the tear that trickled down his cheek.
"No, no." Conrad yelled, checking her pulse and feeling it slow and slow until it finally stopped a few moments later. Conrad could only hold her and sob, until the ambulance arrived a few minutes later and tried to revive her, to no avail. He watched as they covered her and put her in the ambulance. He stood silent, only tears running uncontrollably down his face showed his true feelings. After a few minutes trying to collect himself, he broke from his trance and went back into the bedroom grabbed a few items: photographs, some clothes, and his weapon that he'd dropped, along with a few more odds and ends. He slowly walked to the door only stopping at the flowers that he'd brought. He picked them up and threw it against the wall in anger, after that he walked outside where several police officers had congregated, one of them approached Conrad.
"Sir, sir, I'm in charge of this case, can I get a statement?"
"A statement? You want a statement? Here's a statement: Go fuck yourself." Conrad said now on the verge of losing control of his emotions. He managed to wander over to his jeep to put his stuff in it and then wandered aimlessly down the street.

After an hour of walking Conrad found himself at his favorite getaway, a local bar named "Chuckies." He'd often gone there before to celebrate a successful mission or just to have a casual drink. Tonight, however, he had one thing in mind and that was to get drunk and not just a little bit. He wanted to get wasted. He entered the bar it was almost completely empty, which he was glad of, as there was nothing worse than trying to drink away your problems when someone was there to bother you with stupid-ass chit-chat.
"Tequila, straight up." Conrad said to the bartender as he sat down at one of the stools. The bartender set down a glass he was cleaning, picked up another glass set it down in front of Conrad, filled it up, and began to take the bottle away. "No, no, no. You can leave that here." Conrad quickly polished off the top part of the bottle, which the bartender noted.
"Only time I see people drink that much, that fast is when they be trying to forget something." Conrad said nothing, as he continued to sip away. The bartender, decided it was best to leave this one alone, so he finished cleaning up and turned on Headline News, which was running some war updates. After a few minutes of the news Conrad spoke up:
"Do you mind?"
"Why? You should be interested in this." Conrad wished he'd not worn his uniform as to avoid stupid-ass comments like that.

The bar gradually grew to near capacity and the whisper of conversation grew to a loud roar. Conrad now had a headache from both the alcohol and the loud ramblings of the patrons.
"How may I help you, sir." the bartender said to a man who sat down next to Conrad which previously had been the only vacant seat in the bar.
"Ummm...I'll have what he's having." the man said pointing to Conrad." Conrad didn't look at the man, but only glanced out of the corner of his eye. "The man grabbed the glass and shoved the drink down his throat.
"Tequila? An interesting choice, not much flavor, but you always had a thing for the odd stuff haven't you, Adrian?" Conrad put down his glass in mid motion and glanced at his watch.
"Three hours. I was wondering how long it'd be before my babysitters would arrive." Conrad said finishing his glass and laying a twenty-dollar bill on the counter.
"They went by your house and saw your jeep but no you. They were very concerned, while with what happened."
"I don't need someone watching over my back. I can take care of myself." Conrad said after they were outside.
"Will you cut it out, Conrad. Your non-shallot attitude towards this may be able to fool other people, but I know you too well and I know how much she meant to you. I am the Director of the CIA, you know?" Conrad sat down on the curb and stared out towards the city. Helmsy joined him. "You're not the only one who's lost someone they've loved."
"She wasn't caught in the cross-fire or the victim of a stray bullet; she was murdered, murdered by that sick bastard Romanov. I will get revenge and not you or anyone else is going to stop me."
"I know how you must feel, but take your two weeks off and rest, you need it."
"No, I've got to finish this war, then I can take all the time off I want."
"There's the Conrad I know, come on lets go."

» Chapter Sixteen

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