John Caul is an agent with the British Secret Service.
He is a man who has already been around the block quite a few times, to use an expression, by the time we catch up with him and many of those laps have been done quickly and, to some, very dangerously. Many might consider his way of doing things as reckless or frightening or even suicidal but he has spent a good deal of time considering such matters and has concluded that "he did not have a death wish".
"He was not one of the ones who could not cope with the reality of death, invisible and implacable, waiting around the corner. Rather, he characterized the impulse as his 'edge wish', the burning desire to find out where the limits of being John Caul might be so that he could look back from that edge and see himself as from a distance, un-blinkered and unflinching under his own regard."
"That wish, once self-discovered, became in Caul's mind the explanation for everything. His choice of early military career, his obsessive studies of languages, and of the people who spoke them, his exotic and over refined tastes. He simply sought the edges of things and it was no contradiction, when seen from that vantage, that one day he might be swept up in the decadence of drink, cards, and women, and the next drive himself to extreme lengths of physical endurance in the gym or circling the deep track he had worn around his home's acre perimeter."
Caul is, as easily seen from the above, quite content with who he was. As such, he "would not have enjoyed reading the reports that sat at that very moment on his superiors' desks, which clearly said that he was 'all washed up'.
We are told that Caul "operated under what was known as a 'Blanket7', referring to Section 7 of the Intelligence Services Act of 1994, which gave immunity from prosecution in the UK to agents of the crown for crimes committed overseas". Despite the attitude of his bosses that he was past his prime and ready to be let go, Caul would rather proudly affirm that he "was driven by the same animal needs as the hunting wolf".
- "In John Caul's experience, give enough men guns and a target and some idiot would always open fire".