The Everpresent Threat

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Honor They Father


Joe McKenna, Sr., moved toward the door one leg at a time in very slow motion. Decades of hard work driving a newspaper truck and all the orchard work climbing up and down ladders with heavy fruit had taken a toll on his legs. He lifted the shotgun to the door. “State your business.”

“Mr. McKenna, I’m sorry to bother you so late. My name is Tom Wosniac and...

“Just tell me why you are on my land at this hour and we’ll continue.”

“The president has been taken hostage and...”

“Now that’s original. Perhaps your car broke down and you need my truck to pull it up the hill, is that it?”

“No, Sir. We are very serious. We have now located your son and we need to learn all we can from you about tunnels we believe were under the White House when you drove a trolley back in the 1950’s.”

“Sure I drove that tunnel. Come in. Come in.”

Tommy Wosniac stepped inside with two aides, one of who held a recorder to take down the details of Joe McKenna’s memory of the trolley tunnel.

“My wife should be downstairs any minute. Have you had breakfast yet?”

“Yes. Thank you. We’ll just bother you a few minutes to get the information and then we’ll be out of your way, Sir.”

“No real bother, really. You need to know that the tunnel was narrow and made mostly of brick. It had air ducts all along those tunnels because they didn’t have the massive air pumps I understand are in this new Metro. And I know for a fact that two lines go right under the White House."

"The man who designed those tunnels rode my route and told me so. The company never owned up to it and as you’re underground none of the riders really cared where they were going as long as they got there fast.”

“Sir. You say there were air ducts. Did any of these air ducts go directly to the bunker underneath the White House or would you even know that kind of detail?”

“Sure I knew it. I said that the guy who designed the thing took my route didn’t I? He worked late and many a night it was only he and I on the trolley. He had fought in the Pacific and so had I so we shared that and talked to each other quite openly when on one else was around.”

“The air duct you’re looking for, as I remember, it may have changed, was right in tunnel five off Constitution and 17th. It’s that shaft that goes right to the bunker as I remember. They had a terrible time with that because as the bunker was being expanded they were afraid that too many air ducts would give it away."

"So the guy that rode my line came up with the idea to use the same air duct the trolley line used as the bunker air duct. That way, no one would suspect anything because there would be no new on ground construction or air ducts to give it away. Pretty good solution if you ask me. Does that help?”

“It does. One of my aides has an old map here. Can you locate that tunnel and air duct on it by any chance?” They spread a large blueprint on the large farm table.

“Sure. Just let me get my glasses.”

“Well, Hello!” Said Mrs. McKenna, who started filling up the coffee pot and pouring orange juice.

“Hello, Mame.” They intoned in unison.

“You were saying, Mr. McKenna?”

“Before I do I want an assurance from you that you will tell whoever it is that is meeting with my son right now that they will do their best to support him. I’ve seen this government hang people out to die over the years. I was a Marine in the Pacific in WWII so I know how it works. I want my son given a fighting chance and I want your assurance that his life is not going to be scarified due to bad planning or huge egos.”

“I give you my word, Sir.”

“Then let’s see that blueprint and get me a pencil. I’ll clean the cobwebs out and see what I can find for you.” He began to draw a line from DuPont Circle through a maze of interconnecting tunnels right to an imaginary line under the White House and then back to Union Station.

“Stop looking like you’re so surprised, men. I said that he had the tunnel built. I didn’t say he put it on the original plan. But that tunnel’s there. I wouldn’t say so if I didn’t know it, nor would I risk my own son’s life if I didn’t know it for sure.”

“Thank you, Sir. You’ll understand that we must go. I think we can get this to your son faster if we leave now.”

“Go. And do the best you can. We’re behind you, of course.”

That said, the agents stepped outside, set up a satellite telephone, ensured the encryption software was working, and then transmitted the information that Mr. McKenna had just given twenty-two thousand miles through the stratosphere.

The signal ended at a location three miles from the orchard on another satphone. Sgt. Frank McKenna listened to his father’s voice and filed his memory into his own. The circle was now complete.

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