Your average Fed is Wendell Wasp from West Wheatfield, Iowa, whereas the NYPD has mucho Hispanics, lots of blacks, a million Irish, and even a few Muslims now, so you get this cultural diversity on the force that is not only politically cool and correct, but actually useful and effective. And when the ATTF can't steal active-duty NYPD people, they hire ex-NYPD like me. Despite my so-called disability, I'm armed, dangerous, and nasty. So there it is.
We were approaching JFK, and I said to Fasid, "So, what did you do for Easter?"
"Easter? I don't celebrate Easter. I'm Muslim."
See how clever I am? The Feds would've sweated this guy for an hour to make him admit he was a Muslim. I got it out of him in two seconds. Just kidding. But, you know, I really have to get out of the Mideast section and into the IRA bunch. I'm part Irish and part English, and I could work both sides of that street.
Fasid exited the Shore-Belt-POW /MIA Parkway and got on the Van Wyck Expressway heading south into JFK. These huge planes were sort of floating overhead making whining noises, and Fasid called out to me, "Where you going?"
"There's more than one?"
"Yeah. There's twenty, thirty, forty-"
"No kidding? Just drive."
Fasid shrugged, just like an Israeli cabbie. I was starting to think that maybe he was a Mossad agent posing as a Pakistani. Or maybe this job was getting to me.
There's all these colored and numbered signs along the expressway, and I let the guy go to the International Arrivals, a huge structure with all the airline logos, one after the other out front, and he asked again, "Which airline?"
"I don't like any of these. Keep going."
Again, he shrugged.
I directed him onto another road, and we were now going to the other side of the big airport. This is good trade craft, to see if anybody's following you. I learned this in some spy novel or maybe a James Bond movie. I was trying to get into this anti-terrorist thing.
I got Fasid pointed in the right direction and told him to stop in front of a big office-type building on the west side of JFK that was used for this and that. This whole area is full of nondescript airport services buildings and warehouses, and no one notices anybody's comings and goings, plus the parking is easy. I paid the guy, tipped him, and asked for a receipt in the exact amount. Honesty is one of my few faults.
Fasid gave me a bunch of blank receipts and asked again, "You want me to hang around?"
"I wouldn't if I were you."
I went into the lobby of the building, a 1960s sort of crap modern architecture, and instead of an armed guard with an Uzi like they have all over the world, there's just a sign that says restricted area-authorized personnel only. So, assuming you read English, you know if you're welcome or not.
I went up a staircase and down a long corridor of gray steel doors, some marked, some numbered, some neither. At the end of the corridor was a door with a nice blue-and-white sign that said conquistador club-private-members only.
There was this electronic keycard scanner alongside the door, but like everything else about the Conquistador Club, it was a phony. What I had to do was to press my right thumb on the translucent face of the scanner, which I did. About two seconds later, the metrobiotic genie said to itself, "Hey, that's John Corey's thumb-let's open the door for John."
And did the door swing open? No, it slid into the wall as far as its dummy doorknob. Do I need this nonsense?
Also there's a video scanner overhead, in case your thumbprint got screwed up with a chocolate bar or something, and if they recognize your face, they also open the door, though in my case they might make an exception.
© 1999 by Nelson DeMille.
Excerpted with the permission of Warner Books.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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