Blind Reason
by Patricia Griffon

Chapter 10

The historic brownstone on East 56th Street housed New York's newest trendy restaurant, and thanks to a recent review in The New York Times, Spino's bustled with post-Thanksgiving diners gorging themselves on filet mignon en croute-for-two at a meager price of one hundred twenty-five dollars.

Riggs reserved one of the upstairs cigar rooms so they could dine without the prying eyes and ears of other patrons. The room's oak paneling and muted green furnishings made it particularly cozy and intimate on this damp, winter evening. Riggs nursed his second drink waiting for Nick, Maya, and Andrew to arrive, pondering the information Nick had fed him over the last week. Who was this mysterious woman who believed that a massive conspiracy was incubating worldwide?

Downstairs in the main dining room, a hauntingly beautiful hostess dressed in sumptuous black velvet with obsidian hair and enormous aquamarine eyes greeted the trio at the door and escorted them to the private dining room where Riggs waited impatiently.

"Aperitifs are compliments of the chef," she announced over her shoulder as she ushered them to the table. "After all, Mr. Haywood is one of our most esteemed patrons," she said with a wink and a grin. "What may I get you?"

Maya was so mesmerized by the hostess's uncanny resemblance to Thea that she didn't respond until the young woman repeated the question a second time.

"Cinzano on the rocks," Maya replied impulsively, her eyes riveted on Thea's ghost.

Nick ordered scotch.

"I'll have the same," Andrew said, grumbling under his breath that Johnny Walker was nothing more than swill, and not worth drinking.

While the men exchanged greetings, Maya stood off to the side, giving the infamous Riggs Haywood a scrutinizing once-over. On the way into Manhattan from the airport, Nick had extolled Riggs's virtues, first as an Army officer, and subsequently as the director of certain black projects for the CIA.

"I have no clue what people like Riggs actually do for the CIA," Nick confessed. "His life was always shrouded in secrecy for as long as I've known him, but despite that, he's quite an engaging fellow." From what she could see, he was certainly everything Nick had said. Handsome, urbane, and imposing, clad in black gabardine slacks and a black turtleneck sweater, which complemented his pewter hair. His captivating charm had served him well in the underbelly of espionage, but there was something about the retired spook that appeared a little too affected to be genuine.

Pleasantries exchanged, Riggs approached Maya as though they were old friends, clasping her hand and audaciously kissing her on both cheeks. His brazen pretense at familiarity made her bridle especially when he clamped his hand at the base of her neck and escorted her to the table where he seated her between Nick and himself.

"I tried to snag the chef's table, but Donald Trump reserved it weeks ago. Imagine," Riggs mused, "this is the hottest new restaurant in Manhattan and the most coveted table is in the bloody kitchen!"

Maya wasn't impressed. This didn't seem like a business dinner at all; it was more like Riggs holding court with the wait staff as his eager mignons.

"Good evening, Mr. Haywood," the waiter greeted solicitously, flashing a broad grin that revealed perfect white teeth. "We have all our menu items this evening along with some lovely specials that I will recite for you. By the way, Mr. Haywood, our pastry chef saw your name in the reservation book, so she made your favorite individual soufflés in either white or dark chocolate."

"Now that's what I call service. Save some room for dessert," Riggs advised his guests. "The soufflés are divine," he said in a seductive voice, leaning closer to Maya. "Oh, and, Tom, bring some extra mashed potatoes," Riggs called to the waiter's back. "Maya, when you taste these potatoes with sliced, white truffles on top, you're going to think you died and went to gourmet heaven." Without missing a beat, Riggs's demeanor suddenly shifted from being affable to being deadly serious. "Nick tells me you're on a witch hunt of sorts," he said, staring at Maya with baleful eyes.

"That's one way to put it," she said obliquely.

"Maya's doing research for a book on the rise of the Fourth Reich," Andrew interjected after he noticed Maya's obvious irritation.

Riggs drained the last of his scotch before asking, "Really? And what makes you think that this is a likely possibility?"

"Many things, actually, but primarily I'm suspicious about the company that's flooding the market with a new psychotropic drug."

"The name of which is . . ." he prodded.

"Euphorin."

"Never heard of it, have you?" Riggs asked, his eyes flashing first to Nick and then Andrew.

"That's not surprising. It's only been on the market about two years, but already it's having a serious impact on our society."

"What do you mean?" Riggs asked, turning his chair slightly to face Maya.

"Since its introduction, there have been over three hundred documented incidents of murder or suicide involving this drug. Incidences similar to those committed on Halcion, the hypnotic that was pulled from the market in Britain in 1991 and was severely restricted here in the U.S. because of its side effects. I wrote a book about that pharmaceutical disaster."

"Yes, Nick mentioned that," Riggs said ponderously. "But, what, if anything, does a rogue drug have to do with a Fourth Reich? I seem to have missed something."

"Euphorin is manufactured by FetcherBurkeWinslow, the American branch of VB Pharmaceuticals, which has the dubious distinction of having been the poison machine of the Third Reich."

"Whoa," Riggs scoffed, pushing his chair away from the table. "Aren't you going out on a limb here? That's analogous to saying that I.G. Farben, which also supplied the gas used in some concentration camps, was the handmaiden of the Nazis."

"But it was!"

Riggs bristled, then added, "I'm just playing devil's advocate here. I wouldn't have agreed to this meeting if I didn't think there was some veracity behind your theory. I'd like to understand how you arrived at this thesis."

"I'm still in the research phase, Mr. Haywood, but . . . ."

"Please, call me Riggs," he said, stroking Maya's hand that clutched the aperitif glass. "Nick mentioned that you proffered evidence that links this pharmaceutical company to the Nazi propaganda art. Could you elaborate on that?"

"Son, did you bring that article?" Nick asked, nudging Andrew's elbow.

Andrew pulled the article from his jacket pocket and handed it to Riggs. In the dim light, he unfolded it on the table and smoothed its creases. After his eyes scanned the page, he looked past Maya to Nick. "Jesus, it is that art!" he exclaimed.

"What did I tell you and Patton fifty years ago? We should have burned the damn stuff right there on the spot in Merkers. I knew back then that these paintings were an inherent danger. Maya believes that a particular neo-Nazi faction might stage a heist prior to a rally that's planned on April 30 in Munich."

"Wait a minute," Riggs said, shaking his head, "you've taken two totally unrelated events—the release of a new medication and a thirty-year-old newspaper clipping—and came up with a global neo-Fascist plot?" He scooted his chair closer to Maya and leaned his elbows on the table, a gesture designed to unnerve her. "Please, explain to me how you arrived at that conclusion," he said, his voice rife with skepticism.

"For starters, Mr. Haywood, Andrew found that article lying next to a neo-Nazi who killed himself in Denver . . . ."

"Riggs," he insisted.

"Okay, Riggs," she said resentfully, sipping the last of the Cinzano.

Riggs immediately signaled the waiter to bring another round.

"So, you've deduced that some neo-Nazi faction wants this art?" he probed.

Maya pursed her lips, feeling slightly defensive. "That's a given. Any good neo-Nazi would die for an original portrait of Hitler."

"That's quite possibly true," Riggs said. "But, how did you deduce that there may be a possible heist in the works?"

"When I met Andrew a week or so ago, I was fixated on FetcherBurkeWinslow and their corporate relationship to VB Pharmaceuticals. When Andrew showed me that article, suddenly there was a confluence of events, which if you extrapolated them to the extreme, smacked of a much larger picture." Maya reached down and hoisted her bulging, black leather satchel onto her lap, removed a stack of file folders, and placed them on the table. "I've brought some of my research for you to peruse," she said boldly, looking distrustfully at Riggs whose eyes bore through her like an auger through ice.

"A little known fact is that all of it went back to Germany with the exception of six hundred pieces," Nick declared.

"Which six hundred?" Riggs asked.

"Any canvas with a swastika, military depictions, or Hitler's image."

"Do you think that's what the new faction wants?" Riggs inquired, squinting at Nick.

"It's possible, but who can know for sure?" Maya shrugged.

"Okay, that makes sense. But would a neo-Nazi faction know that most of the collection was returned to Germany?" Riggs asked almost rhetorically.

"That's the $64,000 question," Nick quipped. "The transfer didn't get any press; it was quietly airlifted to Berlin after Helmut Kohl requested it in the name of German history. Aside from a few academics, hardly anyone knew it even existed in the first place. In fact, for forty years, it sat in Hangar 528 at the Pueblo Army Depot, gathering dust and wood rot. It's almost totally devoid of any artistic value, but it possessed a helluva lot of historic value," Nick informed them. "Excuse me, I really mean propaganda value. Let's assume for a minute that someone who knew about the shipment in `86 has given an order to snatch the remaining pieces," Nick postulated.

Maya nodded her head in agreement.

"And who might that be?" Riggs asked, waving the newspaper clipping in the air.

"It could be the von Brandts," Maya interjected.

"Who?" Riggs snapped indignantly.

"Erhard or Alexander von Brandt—the `VB' in VB Pharmaceuticals. Erhard's son, Alexander, is the reputed leader of HAND, an acronym for Hitler's Aryan Nation Disciples. This is the largest organized group of neo-Nazis in the world and the group to which the skinhead in Denver belonged," Maya said with authority. "By the way, Erhard von Brandt was the Assistant Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda under Joseph Goebbels."

"My, you have done your homework," Riggs said facetiously, although he was secretly impressed with the breadth of her knowledge on the subject.

"Yes, I have," she said, "but I have plenty more to do."

"And these von Brandts? I assume you have some background on them?" Riggs had dealt with analysts at the CIA who didn't know this much about anything.

"Erhard escaped Germany after the war and fled first to South America and then Mexico. He was traveling on a Mexican passport when he entered Germany ten years ago." She took a deep breath and waited for Riggs to pounce. And he did.

"How did you find that out?"

"I have a friend at INS."

Pulling a computerized report from the INS with a name highlighted in blue, she passed it to Riggs to corroborate her contentions.

"Ramon Santiago?"

"That's Erhard von Brandt," she said smugly.

"How can you be sure?"

"Because the Nazi hunters and the Mossad are sure. That's what counts. His passport was issued in Mexico City exactly one week before he boarded a flight to New York and later to Munich." Maya could tell by the disgruntled look on Riggs's face that he was not happy that she had documents making the U.S. government appear completely inept in their efforts to capture Nazi war criminals. She stared into Riggs's frozen face while nervously twisting the plain gold band on the pinkie of her right hand. "As I said before, there was a confluence of events. Erhard's arrival back in Germany coincided with the formation of the Alliance of Nationalist Democrats and the HAND Party. But, why am I telling you all of this?"

"Because it's in the best interest of national—or maybe even global—security. If you divulged these theories to the wrong person, you'd be labeled a paranoid nutcase. However, Nick and I believe that there may be some validity to your theories. For the moment, let's get back to the art. Nick, could you give us some background on the art while we eat? Here comes our dinner." Riggs patted his growling stomach in anticipation. "We'll need two bottles of that fabulous Merlot, Tom."

"One will do, Riggs; we have to drive back to the island tonight," Nick cautioned.

"How are things in East Hampton this time of year?"

"Very quiet," Nick said, slicing into his filet. "Now, about these paintings. I guess I am the expert, having written my doctoral thesis on the topic of art as propaganda. Feel free to interrupt me if I get too pedantic. It's a heavy weather topic and something I haven't visited in a long time."

Maya felt an instant affection for Andrew's father, who was still amazingly fit, energetic, and youthful, despite his seventy-six years. His full head of white hair was slicked back off his forehead and cropped short at the nape, and his wire-rimmed tortoise shell glasses made him look more like a college professor than a retired Army officer. He possessed such ease and confidence that he could arrive at one of the most elegant restaurants in Manhattan dressed in a denim shirt and Levis and look as if he belonged there. Or, that he owned the place. In his younger days he must have been extremely handsome, Maya thought, before the harsh winters of East Hampton had weathered his face and the death of his wife had etched permanent sorrow across his brow.

Nick took another bite of steak, washed it down with a gulp of Merlot, and began his dissertation.

"Let me start at the beginning when we first uncovered the art in the Merkers mine. My first clue that this art was important to the Third Reich was the fact that some of the best masterpieces were haphazardly stacked, while this relatively worthless and unimaginative art had been painstakingly protected. This body of work was created between 1933 and 1945 to deliberately glorify German ideals. The paintings encouraged national pride and promoted ethnic purity and were supposed to inspire German virtue and patriotism. Behind every stroke of the brush, a calculated message was hidden. All of Germany had been unwittingly captivated by this positive energy too exhilarating to ignore. The people were spoon-fed an exaggerated myth, a ceaseless uplifting of the spirit, and they were barraged by these images to a ruthless excess. Not only were these paintings contrived, simplistic, and crass, they were blatantly racist." Nick looked at his audience and wondered if they were following him. After another bite of his filet, he continued, hoping he remembered all the important information; after all, he'd written his thesis forty years ago.

"After Adolf proclaimed himself Germany's patron of the arts, he made Erhard von Brandt responsible for brainwashing the masses with his message. The Deutsche Weltanschauung permeated everything—paintings, sculpture, architecture, furniture, toys—even household appliances and utensils. It was a Utopian concept that pledged national unity, strength, and pride. Are you still with me on this?"

"You've got my attention," Andrew proclaimed proudly, impressed at his father's keen understanding of so obscure a topic.

"The first item on Erhard's agenda was to ban all artistic styles that deviated from what Hitler wanted. Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, and Dadaism were all considered vile products of an ugly reality that had to be eradicated. Hitler wanted his art to depict Zeitgeist—German eternal truth—and issued an edict declaring all other art forms degenerate. The Nazis wanted their art to transcend history and reality. The propaganda art would be the greatest lie ever perpetrated on mankind. Any questions?"

"It's incredibly interesting, Nick. Please continue," Riggs encouraged, filling his mouth with a forkful of mashed potatoes.

"One of the first things Hitler did was build this splendid museum where each year he hosted the Great German Art Exhibitions. He wanted to make art accessible to the masses, not just to the rich and educated, so he provided railway passes free of charge to any citizen who wanted to view these exhibits. He staged cultural speeches during which he pontificated endlessly on the virtues of German art. He basically seduced an entire nation with this crap, if you can believe it."

"I believe it," Riggs remarked. "Remember, I was in Germany, too. I saw the product of this so-called propaganda."

"Hitler, with the aid of Goebbels and von Brandt, organized rallies attended by hundreds of thousands of supporters. I've got to hand it to the guy—he was a master at staging enormous media events. My God, the pageantry was incredible; there were parades and cheering crowds to blind a whole nation to his insidious plot. While the masses rejoiced, the Jews were being slaughtered behind the barbed wire fences of the concentration camps. The Jew represented all that was vile and degenerate to Hitler, and the only way to instill Aryan purity ideals was to kill them all." Nick took a deep breath and pushed his empty plate away. Somehow he had managed to inhale his entire filet while delivering this speech, never missing a beat, never missing a bite. "But prior to the death camps there was the Tiergarten 4 experiment where hundreds of thousands of people suffering from epilepsy, alcoholism, physical deformities, and mental illness were systematically exterminated."

"With drugs manufactured by VB Pharmaceuticals, I might add," Maya declared, putting the last slice of white truffle in her mouth.

"You're right, Maya. Hitler intended to purge the entire world of anyone who didn't represent the Aryan ideal. There were two basic categories: the concept of `Volk' and the concept of `Blood and Soil' extolling the virtues of peasant life and the rural Utopia. The pastoral paintings wouldn't have any relevance today in uniting a cause. We've moved way beyond the ideal of a rural Utopia," Nick argued. "In fact, the rural areas are losing their population base because everyone wants to live in the city where they can make more money."

"So, who in this day and age would buy into those Utopian myths?" Andrew asked.

"Nobody ever claimed that any of this bullshit made any sense. Hitler's message was that the countryside was meant to evoke a sense of timelessness, of belonging, where man and nature were inextricably fused. The simple peasant depicted the best of Germanhood and was a symbol of perseverance. The bucolic life on canvas extolled these eternal values. Then there was the family—the nucleus of a nation. The Nazis promoted the ideal that all true Germans were interlaced as families of the same race—the Aryan race. The family represented the sheltering and protecting qualities of the soul, the homeland, the landscape, the cohesive bonds of a community. It encompassed everything—the songs, the fairy tales, the proverbs, the native costumes, the furniture, and tools. Hitler, the sonofabitch, violated the sanctity of the family for the sake of propaganda."

"Why didn't anyone pick up on this while it was happening?" Riggs wondered out loud.

"Hell, all of Germany had been ravaged by the war; people were starving to death. They had nothing to hold on to except this beautiful brainwashing concept." Nick glanced at Maya. "Why that puzzled look, Maya?"

"I was just thinking about how the family plays into one of my theories."

"Which is . . ." Riggs fished.

"The perfect Aryan family is still the nucleus of all neo-Nazi factions."

"Maya's right about that. Back then, the most important element of this new German art was the depiction of the woman—tall, blonde, and blue-eyed—quintessentially Aryan. The nude paintings were not meant to convey sexuality but rather represented physical strength, health, vitality, and naturalness. Women were never depicted as temptresses or prostitutes—that would have been an insult to the concept of `Volk.' There was not a damn iota of intellectualism in this art. It was flat, wooden, devoid of all human spirit. The art was not meant to mirror reality; it was meant to be a role model for a better reality. Everything was depicted as beautiful and appealing to the eye, not the intellect. Hitler himself said, `I've not come into this world to make man better, but to make use of his weakness.' As a result, the art was the most dangerous piece of weaponry in the Nazi arsenal."

"So, if the Germans have most of this art in their possession already," Riggs conjectured, "why would a neo-Nazi faction want the other six hundred pieces?"

"Because they extol the virtue of the German military and its leaders," Nick added. "But those pieces are under tight security in a warehouse in Washington. Maybe that skinhead knew that, and maybe he didn't. We'll never know."

"Maya, why don't you elaborate on some of your theories?" Riggs prompted. "I'm going to order dessert and espresso for everyone."

Maya's head was spinning from the wine. Gulping mouthfuls of ice water to clear her head, she plucked one of the manila folders off the stack and leafed through its contents, pulling out what was relevant.

"After I read that article, I surfed dozens of neo-Nazi websites. Most of them mention this big rally that's planned in Munich next year on the anniversary of Hitler's death. Supposedly, that is when the new Nazi party is going to make its big introduction into the political arena. There's talk that as many as two hundred thousand demonstrators will converge on the streets of Munich." After shoving a spoonful of the Valrhona chocolate soufflé into her mouth, she gulped the entire cup of espresso. "Want to know what I really think?" she asked, bolstered by the swift shot of caffeine.

"The floor's yours," Nick said, swirling the last of his wine around the bowl of his glass.

"I think FetcherBurkeWinslow and VB Pharmaceuticals are behind the rise of the Fourth Reich," she said, extricating a lengthy outline from one of her folders. "VB made the chemicals that were used in mind control experiments in the concentration camps, and they're still making mind-altering pharmaceuticals in the form of this new mood brightener called Euphorin. Essentially, it disrupts the entire right-brain function. Soon this drug will be released in seventy countries. As I mentioned earlier, FetcherBurkeWinslow is VB's American subsidiary, run by a genetic researcher named Hunter Burke."

"What?" Nick and Riggs cried in unison.

"Give me that!" Riggs ordered, snatching the sheet of paper out of her hand. "Jesus, Nick, she's right. It's our old buddy, Hunter."

"What a small world," Nick said, shaking his head in dismay.

"You know him? Maya asked, totally stunned by such an unlikely coincidence.

"Yeah, we know him. He was part of the crew that cleaned out the Merkers mine. I heard he went back to Germany after graduating from college, but I didn't have any idea that he was working for . . . ."

"VB Pharmaceuticals?" Maya interrupted condescendingly.

Riggs laughed nervously. "You should've been working for the CIA," he joked.

"Maybe I will be," she smiled. "Hunter Burke is the one who pioneered all these fertility drug experiments. Did you know that?"

"Good grief," Nick remarked in exasperation, looking at Riggs. "Remember the conversations we used to have with him about wanting to genetically engineer a new breed of sheep?"

"It appears he's moved on to engineering a new breed of human. What did you say, Nick, about the perfect Aryan race?" Maya asked.

"Of course," he sighed, "Aw, shit, I can't believe this."

"You'd better believe it, because this is just the beginning," Maya said triumphantly.

Riggs stared at her in amazement, waiting for the next bomb of information to drop. His eyeballs were positively batrachian.

"Get back to HAND," Nick instructed.

"Okay. When I first met Andrew, he told me about Madeleine Burke Thurston, Hunter's renegade daughter, and how her son Matteas sported the same tattoo as the neo-Nazi who whacked himself. Colorado is a hotbed of neo-Nazi activity right now. Surely, you saw the news coverage several weeks ago; and if you didn't, I'm sure Andrew can get you the clips that were aired in Denver." Maya turned to Andrew with a pleading look on her face.

"Yes, I could do that," Andrew replied eagerly.

"Not necessary," Riggs said, "I saw the news."

"Bingo for the CIA," she answered sarcastically. "Colorado has nearly twenty thousand members, according to this," she remarked, handing over another document to Riggs. "They're the most organized faction right now. The other members are scattered across the rural pockets of America with the major contingent in Europe. There's one website in particular that advocates the overthrow of the government in Colorado and the formation of the first Aryan state. That's not all, though. There's a strong indication that it's not just the disenfranchised radical right who are embracing neo-Nazi ideals . . . ."

"What do you mean?" Riggs fired back, tightening the grasp on the wine glass until his knuckles turned white.

"I have a list of companies that have been under suspicion for making contributions to phony civil rights groups that are a front for the new Nazi party," she said confidently.

"Let me see that list—now!" Riggs commanded.

"Hold on, let me find it." Maya leafed through a file and dangled a list in front of Riggs's face. "Here, take a look at this, and you tell me what the hell is going on."

Riggs's face contorted with agitation. "I don't fuckin' believe this—these are some of the biggest corporations in the world; are you telling me they support the Nazis?"

"Uh-huh," she said playfully. "Big international conglomerates are sick of hiring minorities, then having to pay big settlements when they file discrimination suits after being fired for incompetence. Haven't you seen the protests taking place in Austria? The Freedom Party is advocating closing the borders to immigrants. There's similar sentiment in Germany. Those two countries have become xenophobic, claiming that immigrants from Eastern European countries and Africa are taking jobs away from their citizens. Talk about Hitlerian doctrine. And Italy's run by a Fascist. The political and social climate is perfect for an ultra-right wing party to take hold in Europe. And if it could happen there, it could happen here."

"You really believe that?" Riggs asked arrogantly.

"Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do. Especially if half the world is ingesting a drug that alters their consciousness and allows them to be brainwashed."

"Would you mind if I examined your research this weekend?" Riggs politely asked, trying not to appear overzealous. "You and Andrew are going to be here until . . . ."

"Tuesday morning," she volunteered. "We have a noon flight out of Newark."

"That should give me plenty of time. Uh-oh, the wait staff is looking antsy; I think they want to start closing up." Riggs handed Tom his credit card, then directed his attention back to Maya, who was nervously twisting the gold band on her pinkie finger. "Do you have something else to add, Maya?"

"Am I the only one who's suspicious of all the multiple births that have taken place in the past five years?"

"It's just a product of . . . oh, God, what are you suggesting now?" Riggs practically bellowed.

"Remember the Lebensborn experiment where beautiful young woman were housed and then impregnated by SS officers? FetcherBurkeWinslow pioneered the most commonly used fertility drugs . . . so, what if these drugs were really designed to produce the perfect, blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan race—six, seven at a time. You said it already, Nick. The Nazis extolled the perfect Aryan ideal. What if these fertility experiments are really about repopulating the earth with a perfect Aryan race? If the Nazis wanted to reign for a thousand years, how long would it take to . . . ."

Riggs held up his hand, silently ordering her to stop talking. "This very tangled web is just too much to digest all in one night, Maya. Look," he said, pulling up the sleeve of his sweater, "my arm looks like a porcupine—the hair is standing straight up!"

"I felt the same way when I started peeling away the layers and there loomed what seemed to be a vast conspiracy. All I started out doing was researching the properties of Euphorin."

"Why were you doing that?" Riggs asked.

Maya suddenly turned wistful, fighting back the tears that brimmed in her eyes. "Because my best friend killed herself while taking Euphorin. I don't believe that she was actually suicidal; I believe the drug made her do it. Halcion-2, Euphorin-1. Nick said you were in the CIA. Don't you know anything about MK-ULTRA?"

A look of shock washed over Riggs's face. "Yes, of course, I know about that, but it was proven . . . oh, never mind. That's classified information. I want to see your research on Euphorin. Did you happen to bring that with you?"

"Here," she said, handing her stack of files to Riggs, "be my guest. This is just part of it. I didn't bring all of it because I wasn't sure you'd believe anything I said, anyway."

"I'll admit that when Nick first called me last week, I was extremely skeptical. Never for a minute would I have believed that Nazism could become the New World Order. That is what you're implying?"

"Yes, I suppose it is," Maya said defensively.

Riggs signed the charge slip and the hostess escorted the four of them to the front door. Standing outside in the cold, Riggs approached Maya. "Let's talk tomorrow, after I've had a chance to look over your documentation. I'm very intrigued, especially by your accusations of the brainwashing properties of Euphorin. In fact, I'm fascinated by all of it."

"Why not come out to the island over the weekend? We can continue this discussion there. These kids look pretty tired to me, and I've got a two-hour drive ahead," Nick said, handing his ticket to the valet parking attendant.

Riggs tenderly draped his arm across Maya's shivering shoulders and felt her stiffen.

"Maya, I've read your book. You've got a brilliant, investigative mind. If you cooperate with me, you could possibly get another best seller—maybe a Pulitzer—out of this escapade." That should reel her in.

"Provided I live long enough to write it," she sniveled. "I fear that what I know may endanger me."

"Don't worry; you won't be in harm's way. I'll be watching you."

"Really?" Maya retorted, confident that his last comment wasn't referring to the song by the Police. If anything, she felt like a chicken in a henhouse guarded by a fox.