David Carter has better access to the President of the United States than any other soul on the planet – and no one in the media has ever heard of him. He works in a very small office in the Executive Office Building next to the White House in Washington. To the world he is just another bureaucratic functionary. But to the President, he is something very special.
Today, like every day, Carter drives his plain brown Ford Taurus from his one-bedroom apartment in suburban Virginia to his numbered parking spot in the heart of American government and trudges with a blank look on his face into a square box, to take a seat in a smaller square box and to move paper around -- well -- in this day and age, electrons.
This was not the life he had imagined for himself. He had gone to the Air Force Academy where he got one of the finest hi-tech educations available to man. When he began his military service he signed up for Army Rangers training. He wanted to "eat snakes" as they say. Not satisfied with the Rangers Training, he soon found himself in Coronado, training with the Navy Seals. He became a lean, mean fighting machine.
Then he got himself sent to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana (this was in the days before they closed the fort) where he went through "cloak and dagger" school. Carter wanted to be James Bond. It was as simple as that. He wanted to do military intelligence work behind the Iron Curtain, and he was getting himself as trained as he could.
Then, just about the time he was ready to go, the Soviet Union disappeared, as did his hopes and aspirations. He became just another intel weenie, reading reports and filing other reports. Oh sure, his academic training put him in project after project to develop computer and surveillance systems on the very cutting edge of capability, but it was book work. The world had denied him The Field.
Being a good soldier, he did his job and he did it well, but he never got the action he craved. Early middle age set in. His unquenched desire for "action" prevented him from settling into the kind of life that would lend itself to officer ranks. As soon as he "had his twenty in", he retired at the ripe old age of 43 and went to work as a "consultant" for a government contractor. Contractor: a title that enabled him to grossly overcharge for his knowledge about who to talk to in the military about what specific contract. Oh yeah -- and get the occasional insight into what their competition had been up to. It was still boring, but at least the money was good.
He’d never had time for women. He wanted to stay "unfettered", as he thought of it, in case the call ever came for him to travel to exotic lands. In retirement he had taken up with an incredibly gorgeous woman in her early 30’s. She worked in one of the development labs belonging to his employer. He stayed in excellent shape, so it did not bother her that she was with an "older" man. He would never marry. He was too old. Or so he thought. At least she made life a little interesting.
He was, if not satisfied, content; that is until the day evil turned its face to America directly and terrorists flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Those events lit a fire in his belly that he had not felt since Reagan was President and the Soviet Union was the Evil Empire. He found himself incapable of sitting still. Two days later, the phone rang. It was the FBI. The Patriot Act was going to pass very quickly and they needed his help connecting their systems with the CIA, NSA, DIA, and with a few other agencies no one ever heard about.
"I'm on my way," he heard the Good Soldier in his soul reply, as the fire in his belly flared with desire to do more.