The Unknown: The Red Line.

We were in Serbia’s restless Kosovo province staring at the floor of a hangar housing a factory that manufactured untraceable parts for automatic weapons. There were machines and workers. When we asked who the weapons were for, “Cormac” told us, “You guys don’t have a need to know.” Then William asked what he was there to do. “I’m used to fiction workshops, so tell me how many pages, how many copies, and give me a deadline,” he said, and this was a joke, but “Cormac” didn’t get it.

Across the hangar, the C-123 was being unloaded. From out of the strange crates came stacks of money and bags of an unidentified white substance.

“Cormac” said, “The Agency recruited you because of your manufacturing expertise. Our men in the field have been having trouble with weapons jamming when they get hot after being on automatic for awhile.”

We looked at each other. “But we’re writers,” we said, “we don’t know anything about manufacturing.”

“Cormac” suddenly went pale and nervous. “You’re what?” he stammered.

The project was aborted and we were back in D.C. in time for dinner with the Clintons that evening. Chelsea had flown in from Stanford just to meet us.



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