of them had followed vast herds of wildebeests in the Serengeti, witnessed lions bringing down a zebra in Ngorongoro Crater, and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.
It was this last that Trey remembered most vividly. Even now, he could bring back the breathless thrill of standing amid ice fields at nineteen thousand feet on the summit at dawn, all of Africa at his feet, the fading stars above close enough to touch, brilliant meteors tracing across the purple sky.
He remembered his parents flanking him, his motherâs arm around his waist, his fatherâs draped across his shoulders.
*Â Â Â *Â Â Â *
TREY WALKED DOWN the stairs and onto the tarmac at Kigoma Airport a little after noon two days after his departure from New York. The atmosphere was noticeably wetter, more tropical, than in the savannas to the east. Clouds piled up on the horizon, replete with moisture picked up over the Congo rain forests to the west.
To the first European explorers, Africa had been an unimaginably vast continent. More than a single place, it was a thousand that didnât even overlap or intersect. Trackless swamps, endless forests, sourceless rivers. Going in, you knew you were going to get lost.
You could disappear for years, or forever. As David Livingstone did before being found by Henry Morton Stanley in Ujiji, only a few miles from where Trey was standing right now.
But that was then. Nothing was far enough apart anymore. You could move from desert to forest, from mountain to savanna, in just a few hours. The mystery was all but gone, the teeming plains little more than gigantic zoos filled with semidomesticated animals, idling minibuses, and clicking tourist cameras.
The taxi stand outside the terminal building was starved for business. Trey chose a canny-eyed young man from among the dozen importuning drivers and climbed into the backseat of his 1970s-era Peugeot. It had once been red, most likely, but the sun and rain had turned it a grayish brown.
The driver glanced at Trey in the mirror. âYes?â
Without a blink, the driver pulled away from the curb. If he had some idea why Trey was hereâand Trey thought he didâhe didnât show it.
The hospital was located on the outskirts of town. It was a relatively new building, rectangular, made of whitish stone and steel. The polished sandstone floor of the lobby had ammonite fossils in it.
As he walked in, Trey saw a squarish young white man in a gray suit, blue tie, and sunglasses sitting in the waiting area. Instead of going to the reception desk, he walked over to the man, who looked up at him (or at least in his general direction) without taking the sunglasses off.
Trey had seen a thousand just like him in a hundred countries. It didnât matter to them if they were walking clichÃ©s: Embassy men, CIA officials, and (increasingly) private contractors almost always dressed like this.
Trey read this one as embassy.
âYouâre making sure that Sheila Connelly gets out of here with no fuss,â Trey said to him, not phrasing it as a question.
Embassy was a little softer than Trey had expected, with a round face behind the dark glasses. His sandy hair was thinning on top, even though his smooth cheeks marked him as no more than thirty.
Trey guessed he was unhappy to have been posted here, and Trey couldnât blame him. Since the end of the cold war, East Africaâs global importance had dwindled. Tanzania was far from being prime territory.
Finally Embassy shifted in his seat. âYou a friend of hers?â His voice, too, was unexpectedly soft, the accent showing South Carolina origins.
Trey said, âHope to be.â
He introduced himself, then sat down opposite and said, âDidnât think sheâd need protecting by you guys.â
Embassyâs sunglasses were trained on him. Trey waited, giving the man the chance to decide how much he was willing to say.
CIA agents were never
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