Only The Stones Remain

Walker was already in my office when I got there, sipping whiskey from a paper cup. “I hope you don’t mind,” he said, motioning at the bottle on my desk. “I took the liberty of helping myself.”

I shrugged as I sat down. The bottle wasn’t mine- Sammy must have left it last time he was here- but why waste time denying something so trivial? I also made no mention of Walker drinking before noon. For all I knew he’d been up all night. “What’s wrong?”

He grinned wryly and tossed the cup into the wastepaper basket next to my desk. “We need to talk.”

“About what?”

“Foreign policy.”

I shrugged. “You sure you got the right office? You know me, Walker. I don’t even read the local papers.”

Walker stopped smiling. He turned his head to the window, and as the sunlight spilled over his face I noticed how bloodshot his real eye was. “I know a lot of people who used to think like that. Most of them are dead now.”

“So I’ll take out a newspaper subscription. Why are you really here?”

“You got a clean passport?”

I shook my head. “Not since Turkmenistan. Haven’t needed one.”

Walker took a small envelope out of his pocket and tossed it onto the table, then stood up. “There’s one in there, along with details of your assignment.”

“I haven’t agreed to anything yet.”

The wry grin returned. “Try not to think of this as a situation where you have a choice. I find it makes things a lot easier. Thanks for the scotch.”

“Take the bottle if you like. It’s not mine.”

Walker paused for a moment, then sighed. “Better not. I’ll only end up drinking it. See you around, Henry.”

“I hope not.”

Walker chuckled to himself as he walked out of my office. I sat there for a moment, unsure whether to reach for the bottle or the envelope. I couldn’t decide which would lead to the bigger headache. After a minute of contemplation, I picked up both, and placed them in the top drawer of my desk. ¬†Then I picked up the phone and called a number. “Sammy? It’s Henry. We need to talk.”

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