"You tell me."
"Well, it's too soon for me to tell you. You tell me why you put in for the IRA section."
"Well, the Muslims don't drink, I can't spell their f-ing names on my reports, and the women can't be seduced."
"That's the most racist, sexist remark I've heard in years."
"You don't get around much."
"This is not the NYPD, Mr. Corey."
"No, but I'm NYPD. Get used to it."
"Are we through attempting to shock and appall?"
"Yeah. Look, Kate, I thank you for your meddling-I mean mentoring-but in about a week, I'll be in the IRA section or off the job."
She didn't reply.
I looked at her as she messed around with a lemon. She was about thirty, I guess, blond, blue eyes, fair skin, athletic kind of build, perfect pearly whites, no jewelry, light makeup, and so on. Wendy Wasp from Wichita. She had not one flaw that I could see, not even a zit on her face or a fleck of dandruff on her dark blue blazer. In fact, she looked like she'd been airbrushed. She probably played three sports in high school, took cold showers, belonged to 4-H, and organized pep rallies in college. I hated her. Well, not really, but about the only thing we had in common was some internal organs, and not even all of those.
Also, her accent was hard to identify, and I remembered that Nick Monti said her father was an FBI guy, and they'd lived in different places around the country.
She turned and looked at me, and I looked at her. She had these piercing eyes, the color of blue dye No. 2, like they use in ice pops. She said to me, "You came to us highly recommended."
"By who? Whom?"
"Whom. By some of your old colleagues in Homicide." I didn't reply.
"Also," she said, "by Ted and George."
She nodded toward Schmuck and Putz. I almost choked on my coffee. Why these two guys would say anything nice about me was a total mystery.
"They aren't fond of you, but you impressed them on that Plum Island case."
"Yeah, I even impressed myself on that one."
"Why don't you give the Mideast section a try?" She added, "If Ted and George are the problem, we can switch you to another team within the section."
"I love Ted and George, but I really have my heart set on the anti-IRA section."
"Too bad. This is where the real action is. This is a career builder." She added, "The IRA are pretty quiet and well behaved in this country."
"Good. I don't need a new career anyway."
"The Palestinians and the Islamic groups, on the other hand, are potentially dangerous to national security."
"No `potentially' about it," I replied. "World Trade Center."
She didn't reply. I'd come to discover that these three words in the ATTF were like, "Remember Pearl Harbor." The intelligence community got caught with their pants down on that one, but came back and solved the case, so it was a draw.
She continued, "The whole country is paranoid about a Mideast terrorist biological attack or a nuclear or chemical attack. You saw that on the Plum Island case. Right?"
"So? Everything else in the ATTF is a backwater. The real action is in the Mideast section, and you look like a man of action." She smiled. I smiled in return.
I asked her, "What's it to you?"
"I like you." I raised my eyebrows. "I like New York Neanderthals."
"Think about it."
"Will do." I glanced at a TV monitor close by and saw that the flight we were waiting for, Trans-Continental 175 from Paris, was inbound and on time. I asked Ms. Mayfield, "How long do you think this will take?"
"Maybe two or three hours. An hour of paperwork here, then back to Federal Plaza, with our alleged defector, then we'll see."
© 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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