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The Quantum Connection: Chapter Seven

       Last updated: Thursday, January 6, 2005 23:42 EST



    We flew right over the MALL and I saw the Capitol Building, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the White house. Larry had to point out everything but the Capitol building. Then we turned down the Potomac River and set down at Reagan Washington National Airport. Larry led me through the airport like it was a second home to him. Instead of following the signs downstairs to the street where rental car busses pick you up, we went up a ramp to some elevators.

    “Yeah, most people don’t realize that the rental cars are just right over there on the other side of the parking garage,” Larry said as he was fumbling through his laptop case. “And they’ll wait for thirty minutes on that damn bus that just takes them on a one minute ride. Ah, here it is. Our confirmation number for the rental car.” He showed me a printout he pulled from his pack. We went up a couple of floors on the elevator and then walked about fifty meters or so through the garage and turned a corner right into the rental car area. We walked up to a red Cadillac and Larry whistled, “Hey, let’s take this one.”

    “Okay,” he was pointing and driving at the same time, “This is Crystal City here and we are going to take the G.W. Parkway from here, south, all the way down to Old Town Alexandria. It’s not that far and we could’ve taken the Metro, but we can’t ride the Metro where we need to go tomorrow and I didn’t want to deal with a cab.” His cell phone rang about that time. “Hello.” It must have been his wife, because he carried on one of those married guy conversations.

    “Yes, honey…no…we are just now leaving the airport. Steve, she says hi.” He nodded to me.

    “Uh, hi?” I had never met her before.

    “No, I…. Hold on…. No, tell her I will help her with it this weekend. Hey, we’ll be at the hotel in ten minutes. Let me call you back then. Okay, uh, okay, uh I love you too. Bye.”

    I tried not to giggle but I did. “Everything okay at home?”

    “Sure, my daughter needs help with a computer project for school and, well, my wife worries when I fly.” He changed lanes, cutting in front of a Yellow Cab; the cabby honked at us. “Look, as I was saying, this road southward pulls right up into Mount Vernon, you know George Washington’s house. We’ll go north on it tomorrow to get up to McLean.”

    “What’s in McLean?” I asked

    “You’ll see tomorrow. But tonight I was thinking that we would leave the car at the hotel and after the free beer and snacks they have there we will get on the Blue Line on the Metro and I’ll take you over to the Mall and show you D.C. The King Street Metro stop is right across the street from our hotel. What’d ya say?”

    “Free beer and snacks? I say cool.” We checked into the hotel with plenty of time to relax a few minutes before the free beer started. After several free beers too many, I felt the need to tell Larry how much I appreciated all that he had done for me.

    “You know,” I told him. “You are probably the only human that I have had a real lengthy conversation with, other than my shrink, in more than three years.”

    “Damn Steve, that’s pretty sad, son. Why don’t you get out more?” he asked.

    “I don’t know. I just haven’t felt like I had that much of a connection to anybody. I mean, you know, everyone I ever really knew is gone. Even all the records of their existence are gone. It really makes you feel, well uh, small. You know?”

    “Must be tough. You want another round?”

    “Suits me! I’ll grab some more pretzels and popcorn.” I offered. When he left for the bar I realized that I had not taken my medicine yet.

    The conversation was weighing on me considerably, and it probably was Larry as well. So I told Larry I had to take a leak and darted up to my room. I popped one of the “happy pills” and actually did take a leak and then rejoined the party.

    A few beers later the drugs were kicking in and I was feeling happier. We talked about video games and football and women. It turns out that Larry is a pretty decent fellow. We went over to the Metro stop across the street after last call, which was at seven thirty, and Larry showed me around D.C. a bit. We got back to the hotel about ten thirty and I walked into the room and flipped the television on. I really had to take a leak so I went straight to the bathroom and sat the remote on the sink countertop. Then…

    I didn’t remember sitting down to watch television. The last thing that I recalled was taking a leak. The news channel was on and the volume was way too low to hear. I looked around for the remote and couldn’t seem to find it anywhere. The last I remembered was that I took it to the bathroom with me. I got up and checked and there it was by the sink, right where I remembered setting it. Weird. Another side affect of these damn pills must be memory gaps. I sat back down on the couch and started to change the channel, but then I noticed the time in the upper left hand corner under the news channel logo.

    It was two twenty-six in the morning.

    “Jesus, I better go to bed,” I told myself.



    The next morning we were at the complimentary breakfast buffet about eight thirty, and I had way too many pancakes and way too many link sausages. We were refreshed and on the road by nine. Larry took the G.W. Parkway north and we went up past the airport, through Crystal City, and every inch of the way there was something interesting to see.

    “If you look right over there, you will see the Pentagon,” Larry nodded to the west with his head. “And over there is the Iwo Jima Memorial that is so famous. We’ll come back on the other side of the Pentagon so you can get a better look at stuff.”

    We passed by most of the town looking places and about three different famous bridges and then were in a park. About five or so miles on up northward we turned off the G.W. Parkway onto 123 at the sign that said Chain Bridge/McLean. Then, almost as soon as we turned onto 123, we had to stop at a traffic light. Just through that light was a very large green and white sign that read



    George Bush Center for Intelligence

    CIA next right.



    We turned right. Larry drove through about fifty meters of trees and then up to a gate with a little push button speaker at window height and rolled down his window. Before Larry had a chance to do or say anything the speaker buzzed, “Can I help you?”

    “Uh, yes, Larry Waterford and Steven Montana here for a meeting.” Larry looked a little nervous.

    “Pull right and park in front of the guard center, then come inside. Have your identification and rental car registration available please.” The guy on the other end was all business. No howdy, nice to see ya, please come back or anything.

    The guard shack was a typical guard shack, as far as I could tell. The fellows behind the desk were packing serious heat and were all wearing rent-a-cop type outfits topped-off with bulletproof vests. Larry and I filled out a couple forms, showed off our driver’s licenses and then Larry and the guard discussed clearance transfers and stuff that I wasn’t quite sure I understood. They handed us each a badge; Larry’s was a different color than mine. He didn’t tell me why.

    A few minutes later our point of contact on the inside of CIA Headquarters called the guard shack and told them we could come in and which building to drive to. We parked where we were told and then walked about what seemed to be a damn mile across the campus and through a parking garage before we got to the main building.

    Inside the main building was exactly like you see in the movies. There was a big Central Intelligence Agency symbol in the middle of the floor under a huge skylight. Larry showed me the memorial with no names on it. It was all like I had seen it before; I guess I had, on television.

    Then we went through the metal detectors and swiped our badges. The guard there informed Larry that he or another cleared individual would have to escort me wherever I went. Larry affirmed that he knew that.

    Larry left me with an “examiner” and said he would be back later. The rest of the morning was me answering a bunch of questions – questions I’m not supposed to repeat - both written and verbally, inside a special room. Then I took a polygraph exam and that seemed to last forever. A few hours of that and Larry returned. We then reversed the process we had been through that morning and left CIA for the day.

    “What’d you think about that?” he grinned.

    “That was pretty neat. We’re coming back here tomorrow right?”

    “Yep. We’ll eat lunch there at the cafeteria. That is always a hoot. Tomorrow we will be here all day. Hey, we got the rest of the afternoon off, you want to see Robert E. Lee’s House and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?”

    “Got nothing else to do?” I replied.



    The next day was the same process. We went up the G.W. to McLean and so on.

    Again I was given a different color badge than Larry was.

    “Clearance takes time, Steve. Don’t fret it.” Larry assured me. Unfortunately, the weather was not as good as it had been the day before and the long walk from the parking lot was more of a trot. We did maximize our path through the parking garage to stay out of the rain as much as possible. The same guard told Larry the same thing about having to escort me. So Larry told him the same thing in response, “I know.”

    This time we didn’t go to the same place Larry took me the day before. Today we went down several different hallways and I was completely lost. We finally got to a room just down the hall from a big sign saying Directorate of Science and Technology and there was a person waiting for us at the door.

    We were told where the restrooms were and shown the vending machines. Larry got a cup of coffee so I followed suit. A few moments passed and the young lady at the door told us we could go in. Larry paused to speak with her.

    “The package we sent up here, is it in there already?” Larry shrugged his shoulders then straightened his tie.

    “Yes, Mr. Waterford, the papers and slides you sent are here and are already in there.” She pointed her pen behind her at the door.

    “Thanks.” He turned to me, “Okay Steve, jump in whenever, but don’t make a nuisance of yourself. If we ask you to step out for a bit, don’t be upset; it will just be necessary. Got it?” He pointed to my tie and motioned to fix it.

    “Okay. I got it.” I fixed my tie and my shirttail. Then we entered the SCIF.

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