MAY 03
Under the Rug
Holiday: Lumpy Rug Day

"There's been a...complication."

"I don't like complications."

"Nor do I. It will be taken care of; it will just take a little more...persuasion."

"Persuasion?"

"Some people are not happy with our little arrangement. The Pentagon doesn't want you out in public, creating a major embarrassment, and the State Department is afraid Hanoi will cause headaches on the international front."

"I would have thought you had taken care of those problems a long time ago, General. Before making promises."

"Unfortunately, due to the last election, there's been a slight shift in the balance of power. People are either flexing their new found muscle, or getting paranoid, depending on which side of the aisle one is sitting in. It will happen; it will just take a little longer, while I smooth ruffled feathers, give some assurances."

"Assurances?"

"Assurances that a vital part of the previous negotiations remain in place - extracting a promise from you and the others."

"A promise?"

"A promise of discretion. Now, the Pentagon doesn't worry me; they're used to having egg on their face. I can deal with them. The State Department is another matter." Stockwell let out a deep breath. "The pardons will cover your past. Wipe the slate clean. However, should you decide to resume your previous...occupation, any actions taken outside the law would, of course, put you back in jeopardy as far as the civilian constabulary. If you should come into their custody, create publicity, and thus be brought to the attention of the Vietnamese government, the State Department has made it clear they will not intercede on your behalf."

"So if we go back to chasing bad guys, nobody can know it's us, and if we 'skirt convention', we better not get caught."

"Exactly."

"Sounds familiar."

"Legends are one thing, Colonel. They can be tolerated. The real thing can be...dangerous."

FINI