The General Is Missing




Griffin, a retired FBI Special Agent, on a flight to Chicago to help his critically injured Marine ...

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Griffin, a retired FBI Special Agent, on a flight to Chicago to help his critically injured Marine friend, is drawn into an ongoing mystery by Kate, an attractive flight attendant, who views him as her father's look-alike.

An Army courier carrying a message to a Pentagon General is poisoned. Before dying, falls into Kate's arms. In his last gasping breath he begs Kate to deliver an unmarked envelope to a General Ridgeway, muttering, "It's a matter of national security."

This suspense-filled plot continues to unfold requiring Griffin to choose between helping his injured Marine friend or becoming involved with the lovely flight attendant. The mystery requires Griffin to enlist the assistance of a profiler who directs the hunt for the missing General.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781477281260
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • Publication date: 11/9/2012
  • Pages: 412
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Read an Excerpt


By John (Jack) Callahan


Copyright © 2012 John (Jack) Callahan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4772-8125-3

Chapter One

My mind cleared. I was back to the present and I needed to deal with the dire situation before me.

I wondered what I could do to help my Marine friend. It was time for me to face up to this latest turn of events. Josh needed my help, but was I up to the task?

I mulled over my friend's plight for life. "If Josh could hear my voice, maybe he would respond to my urgings." I started talking in a soft, steady tone, assuring him I had the strength to keep him going, and it was okay to lean on me. Yes, lean on me, once again.

I talked about our good times in the service. Instantly his eyes popped open and his head turned toward me. He recognized my voice!

"Hi Josh, I'm here for you."

He looked at me—his eyes empty with a distant stare. It left me dismayed. The seriousness of his condition was alarming. Another check of the monitors indicated he was again in a deep sleep. The situation fueled my desire to help him recover. The question plaguing me was, "What can I possibly do to help him get through this terrible tragedy?"

Suddenly, one of the monitors started beeping a loud, erratic sound. The shock of it caused me to back away from the bed and migrate to the edge of the room where I stood, paralyzed. Indecision gripped my mind.

"Why was I so traumatized," I asked myself. Could it be my new surroundings? My involuntary actions were puzzling. We had seen the worst of things in Vietnam, so why had Josh's medical alarms left me standing, frozen, beside the door? Could it be the shock of seeing my friend in this precarious condition? Could Josh be dying at this very moment and I didn't know how to help him?

The door burst open, and the overhead light snapped on. The responding nurse rushed to Josh's bedside to survey the situation. She lifted his eyelids, checked his array of machines, reset the noisy one, wrote something in her chart then turned, her eyes suddenly fixated on me ... silently frozen ... near the doorway. Her face mirrored shock and surprise. We stared at each other for unending seconds, followed by her stream of explicit cuss words. The verbal tirade was revolting, even to a veteran Marine like me. Then she directed her harsh and abrupt questions at me.

"Did you touch any of his machines? Where are your mask and gown? Who are you? Who let you in here, anyway?"

The nurse's sharply pointed words flew at me faster than an eagle after its morning feed.

Stunned by the avalanche of her cursing and heated words, speech failed me. Shock had taken control of my mind and body.

The disturbed look remained on the nurse's face. She was waiting for answers—answers frozen in my throat. The defiant nurse planted her feet in front of mine waiting, and waiting, for an explanation.

Silent moments passed. When I didn't speak, the nurse ultimately recognized the alarm painted vividly on my face.

She put her hand on my upper arm and uttered, "It's best if you leave now. I'm sorry for yelling at you. Josh's condition continues to be critical. Since his arrival we haven't been able to stabilize him, no matter what we have tried."

She calmly ushered me out the door while asking question after question. "Are you part of Josh's family? Are you his friend we called last night? Did you touch any of his machines? Where is your mask and gown? Who let you in here?"

Still not responding to her words, though phrased in a kinder manner, I stood dazed and confused by the situation before me.

My shocked demeanor and the nurse's regret for cursing and accusing me of various misdeeds had somehow forged a strange bond between us.

"I'm sorry for yelling at you. Josh's condition is critical and it changes hourly. He was on the brink of death three times last night, but somehow he made an ever-so-slight recovery. He's fighting a tough uphill battle. It's natural you'd want to stay, but Josh's condition is too critical for you to be in his room. Please don't try to visit him without my permission."

The nurse's gruff words took on a sympathetic tone as she related Josh's condition. My half-hearted smile relayed my acceptance of her change in mood, but it was difficult to accept her description of Josh's struggle for life.

The door closed behind her. I stood dazed, alone, and bewildered in the hallway, my mind in disarray, my body attempting to accept the grim news of my friend's fight for life. Feelings of fear and despair descended over me like a dark shroud.

Her words about a 'slight recovery' came as a relief to my exhausted mind, providing a needed glimmer of hope to my troubled body. Needing to hear something positive about Josh, my imagination hit rock bottom. Seeing him in this precarious condition, the machine malfunction, and the nurse's description of his condition, all ratcheted up my concern for Josh's life.

Helplessness overcame me. Where was my ability to help my Marine buddy? What could I possibly do to help him through this crisis? A feeling of ineptness crept over me. It was like being lost at sea, with no land in sight.

All at once a calm enveloped me. Could this change be an answer to my prayers?

Doubt crowded my thoughts. "There must be a way to help my friend. I put myself in harm's way before, but now I must find a way to help him recover. Yes, I was younger and stronger years ago, but what about now?"

Suddenly I was empowered with a new feeling of urgency to do something, but what? With new determination erupting within me, I went to the nurses' station. Josh's doctors should have the answers to my many questions. The nurse told me the doctor wouldn't be in until early afternoon. Not wanting to wait that long to find out about his recovery or ... the unthinkable ... my mind searched for a solution.

The news about Josh became too difficult for me to accept. I was consumed with thoughts of finding a relative or someone to share this crushing burden with. There must be a way. How?

The time came for me to find a nearby hotel or other place to stay. The overall situation was more serious than my mind could accept. My stay in Chicago could be a lengthy one. I vowed to stay as long as my buddy needed me. Our bond, sealed many years ago, needed to be reignited. I would do anything necessary to bring my Marine friend back to a stable life.

When Josh was a young, strong Marine, wounded in Vietnam, he had the strength of youth to help with his recovery. Even with the severe wounds he'd received in battle, his positive spirit never wavered. His ability to overcome his battle injuries and live a normal life became a symbolic goal for me to follow, a vow giving me strength and the ability to overcome my difficulties later in life.

Perhaps time had taken its toll. It would be more difficult for him to recover from the injuries he just received. He had developed a robust drinking habit since his wife passed. This unwanted habit could pose a problem for me in caring for him outside of the hospital. Regardless of the obstacles, my friend could count on me to help him get through his latest crisis.

Chapter Two

I found a nearby Residence Inn where I could walk to the hospital.

While I ate lunch and considered my next move, a handsome woman stopped by my table, smiled and said, "Hi, I'm one of the flight attendants on your plane this morning. You were in seat 1A in the coach section. Do you remember me?"

I looked up. She was tall and slim, and neatly dressed in her flight attendant's uniform—an appealing sight to an older man like me.

Immediately recognizing her, I gave her one of my robust smiles and answered, "Of course, how could anyone forget a pretty face like yours? It's nice of you to remember me."

She gave me a warm, inviting smile. "You remind me so much of my father—that's why I remember you so well. May I sit?"

Inwardly I winced. 'Her father!' At least she remembered me!

"Of course, please do. Would you like some lunch or something?"

"No, I'm okay."

She sat directly across from me. Her eyes portrayed a trace of uncertainty.

During my professional law enforcement career as an FBI agent, I'd learned to recognize signs of distress. Years of experience had given me the ability to uncover subtle clues of this nature.

Her warm, inviting smile of minutes earlier slowly changed to a face of concern. Her facial features reflected indecision. Her deep blue eyes mirrored her uneasiness at approaching a stranger and her voice wavered with tension as she said, "I have experienced some unusual events this morning. May I share them with you?"

Awaiting an answer, she looked directly into my eyes and smiled. Her smile once again was warm and captivating. Her perfume worked its way to my side of the table and I was entranced with her lovely presence. Her blonde wavy hair lay softly against her cheeks, adding to her attractiveness. She had a strikingly beautiful, perfectly symmetrical face, with large deep blue eyes. Her overall beauty left me spellbound.

"Sure, my time is yours. I'm waiting to talk to the doctor about my injured friend. My name is Griffin Callaway. Tell me, what do you want to share with me?"

"Hello Griffin, my name is Kate. Kate Morrison. Something unusual happened on the flight into Chicago this morning—something that has left me uncomfortable, scared and vulnerable. I'm in need of your advice. Father told me not to bother strangers with my problems, but you remind me so much of him. Your features, the way you hold your hands, the tilt of your head, your hair—all resemble him so much. I need him so much today. If dad were still alive I wouldn't be bothering you. Before he passed he always had an answer to my many problems. It's strange about parents—you don't really miss them, you know, really miss them, every hour of every day, until you need them. Somehow you think you can just call them, and they will be there to solve your problems forever. Do you know what I mean?"

She looked at me for an answer to her ramblings about her parents—ramblings that intrigued me, but ramblings for which I didn't have an answer. Just looking into her beautiful face was a reward in itself, but she was looking for a response from me. I had listened carefully, but was unable to understand her quandary.

While trying to find an answer, I gazed into her unsettled eyes. There was no doubt I wanted to help this young woman. No one so young and so beautiful had asked for my help for a long, long time. Finally I conjured an answer to her rambling questions.

"I remind you of your father. That's quite a compliment to give to a complete stranger."

"Did you notice the activity in the first-class section this morning?"

"Yes, there was a bit of activity up front, but I thought someone spilled their orange juice or something out of the ordinary like that."

"It was far more serious. A passenger passed away while he was having breakfast. I've been on this job for four years, and nothing this disturbing has ever happened to me."

"Kate, it's understandable. Life is unpredictable. People die all of the time without warning. You've been fortunate something this unusual hasn't occurred in your life before."

In spite of my attempt to calm and reassure her, the troubled look remained on Kate's face. She lowered her voice to a whisper, making me believe she was afraid someone would overhear our conversation.

"A few seconds before my passenger passed away, he handed me an envelope."

"He handed you an envelope? I imagine that was a surprise. Did he say anything?"

"My passenger mouthed, 'I've been poisoned. Give this envelope to General Nathan Ridgeway in the Pentagon. It's a matter of national security.' He shoved the envelope into my hands and then collapsed in my arms."

She reached into her purse, brought out a white envelope, and laid it on the table in front of me. It was large and rather bulky, with nothing written on the exposed side. I took my pen and flipped it over. It was blank on the other side too. At this moment, I looked around to see if anyone was looking in our direction. It was a normal precaution for an FBI agent. There were several people in the dining area, but no one appeared to be concerned with our activities. I normally kept several sizes of plastic bags on my person for such an occasion, as any law enforcement person would do. I carefully placed the envelope into a plastic bag and pushed it under my sleeve for safekeeping.

"It's best if you don't handle it because of fingerprints, DNA, and such. I'm a retired FBI special agent. Perhaps the situation is most serious and you do need my help."

"An FBI man, how interesting. It appears I've asked the right person for help. Your friendly face and similarity to my father attracted me to you."

Kate continued, "Just before my passenger passed away he stood up, pulled me close to him, and whispered that message in my ear. It was disturbing because he had just finished the orange juice I served him minutes earlier. He handed me the envelope, asked me to deliver the envelope, and collapsed. He fell against me! It was at that very moment I realized the man had died. He took his last breath while he was in my arms. The passenger across the aisle helped me get him back in his seat."

"Kate, your concern is understandable. It's enough to get anyone upset over such an unusual event. Did you promise you would deliver the envelope to the general, whatever his name is?"

"Of course, what else could I have done? Wait, there's more, much more. Our company policy is, 'All goods given to an employee by a passenger during flight must be turned in to the onboard officer at the conclusion of the flight.' You see, I'm in trouble with the Captain because I didn't turn the envelope over to him, and I'm in trouble with Bryan, my passenger, for telling him I would deliver the envelope to the General."

The situation Kate was describing appeared solvable.

"What do you want me to do? Do you want me to deliver the envelope to the General and talk to your Captain for you?"

Her ramblings continued and I held my hand up in a stop motion. She stopped talking and gave me a surprised look. The situation was rapidly deteriorating into a one-sided conversation ... hers!

"Kate, slow down—answer a few questions for me."

I took out my memo pad and started writing down some of the details she was spouting like an oil gusher out of control. Making notes while it was fresh from a witness's lips was a normal procedure for a law enforcement person. Every detail, large or small, could become important and should be recorded.

"What was Bryan's last name? Did he say anything else to you before he passed? Try to remember every detail, because it could be important."

"He didn't say anything else. When he came on board he introduced himself as Bryan, didn't give me a last name. It isn't out of the ordinary because most of my first-class passengers don't use last names. We get celebrities in first class all of the time that doesn't use either. They want to travel incognito."

"Let me help you deliver the envelope and get to the bottom of your concern, so you can put your troubled mind to rest."

"Wait! There's more." Kate blurted, "That isn't all."

"Kate!" Responding curtly. "Tell me what you want me to do. You keep giving me your story in bits and pieces. With each breath you add more events. What else do you want to tell me?"

"There you go, talking and acting like father, when he would scold me. You two are so much alike. It's incredible. I'm mixed up and scared—not my normal self today."

"Kate, take a deep breath. You are getting too excited."

"I'm sorry. I can't help myself. So many things have happened since Bryan, my passenger, passed away. I feel someone is following me. I went to my room and found somebody has searched through my luggage. They may still be in my room. I slammed the door and came down here. I'm involved in something—something really weird. Can you tell me what to do? All these strange happenings in the last few hours are freakish! Freakish, I tell you."

Chapter Three

The people in the restaurant were throwing strange looks our way. A childish instinct told me to slide down in my seat but I fought off my foolish behavior. As an experienced law enforcement officer, I needed to act like one.

The situation was rapidly spiraling out of control. The restaurant diners were staring at me as if I was doing something harmful to my lovely companion. The need to take action to keep Kate calm was now at hand. One of the diners approached our table and asked Kate if she needed any help. I showed him my FBI retirement badge and he immediately backed away.

Concerned with Kate's frantic behavior I sprang into action. "Kate, that's enough! You're getting hysterical. Quiet down. If you don't calm down, I can't help solve your problem."

"I understand. I'm so scared I get carried away. I'm not my normal self. My life is quite normal and things like this don't happen to me."

"Kate, answer my questions as simply as possible."

"Okay, okay, I'll do my best."

"Was someone in your room when you opened the door?"


Excerpted from THE GENERAL IS MISSING by John (Jack) Callahan Copyright © 2012 by John (Jack) Callahan. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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