After the one day meeting with the other members of the team in Charleston, Kelly was told to go back to Pitt and make arrangements for an extended absence. Three days later she was on her way back.
Kathy parked in the short-term parking at Charleston Airport and took up a position at the baggage carousel. She had been there ten minutes watching the approach to the baggage area. Kelly’s flight landed some 15 minutes ago, according to the overhead monitor. Kathy was beginning to think maybe Kelly missed her flight, when she noticed a well-dressed young woman approaching her.
Kelly smiled and said, “What’s the matter? Don’t you recognize me?”
Kathy laughed and hugged Kelly. “Aren’t you suited and booted? You didn’t have a wardrobe like that the last time I saw you. You look wonderful. Anita would approve. I know I do. Can’t have you looking like that around Jack. I know he really liked your mother and, if anything, you are even more beautiful. I’m suddenly motivated to go shopping.”
“I’ll join you. All I have is this carry-on. My other stuff wasn’t worth hauling around. It is really great to be earning enough money that I can buy a few things without getting a headache about the cost.”
On the trip back to Johns Island, Kathy briefed Kelly on the car bomb event and the need to keep track of the one person who escaped the fire. Jack wanted them to pick up watching Hankins as soon as they were told where he settled. She would have a few days to get ready for her first assignment.
Kathy told Kelly that Jack asked her to check out her shooting and Hapkido skills first thing tomorrow morning and to give her some basic tips on surveillance and tradecraft. “This briefing is the beginning of your training. You must remember what I’ve told you. After a few days, I’ll expect intelligent questions and comments.”
Kelly said, “Great, it’s about time I start living up to my Marino heritage.”
While chatting with Kelly on the way home, Kathy thought this is more than awesome. Here I am talking with Anita’s daughter just like I used to talk with her. I’m only about seven years older than she, but I feel like I’m her mother. You can believe I’m going to watch over her. Don’t worry, Anita, I have her back. I more than owe you for saving Jack’s life. Kelly is a great kid. She looks so much like you that I almost called her Anita. You can be proud of her. She turned out well. If I ever have a daughter, I hope she can be like Kelly.
As a special treat, Kathy and Shadow brought Kelly coffee in bed on her first morning in the Brandon house. Kathy said, “Just so you know, this is a one-time event. Although Shadow may come in to say good morning, he does not served fresh brewed French roast. Also for you Pittsburgh people, this is a very old South Asia custom, to serve bed tea or coffee to honored guests. Now you have one hour to have breakfast before we head to the shooting range Jack and I have been using.”
“Okay. I’ll be ready. But, tell me, why do you and Jack still practice at the range? I thought you both were already very good.”
“Very good is not good enough. We are better than very good, Jack especially. To stay sharp you need regular practice and the weapon needs to be constantly checked for small deviations in performance. Most of the time, the deviations are the operator’s fault.
“After the shooting session, I’ll checkout your Hapkido progress. This afternoon we’ll do some surveillance training. Consider this as a fast forward boot camp. Do not ask questions during the exercises. Just listen. You can ask questions later when we go over your performance. You now have 55 minutes to get ready. Time to roll. Let’s go, girl!”
Kathy left but Shadow stayed with Kelly, who asked, “Is she always like that. I guess the honeymoon is over.”
Shadow put his big front paws gently on the bed and wagged his stubby tail while Kelly sipped her coffee and rubbed his head. The bond between the two was instant. Jack told her Shadow, in some way, knew she was a friend because of Anita. He couldn’t explain it other than to tell her dogs were a lot smarter than people believed. If you are open to them, you will learn that they can communicate.
After a breakfast of soft poached eggs on toasted raisin bread, grits, smoked sausage and two more cups of coffee, Kelly thought maybe the honeymoon wasn’t quite over. The Minhs were excellent cooks. In the car on the way to the shooting range, Kathy told her that the Minhs were warriors and their primary role was to protect the Brandon house. Two friends of Jack’s father who were also his house staff were killed when a terrorist cell from Charleston attacked and burned the Brandon house in Virginia. Shadow was badly wounded in the attack, but sounded the alarm and killed the man who shot him. Don’t judge the Minhs by their appearance. They are old but still formidable fighters with experience in fire fights.
Before leaving the house, Kathy picked up a High Standard .22 with a six-inch barrel and a .357 revolver Dan Wesson model with a six-inch barrel. The .22 to check Kelly’s form and accuracy and the .357 Magnum to test her skill with a heavy caliber high recoil weapon. Both weapons, among an assortment of others, were in the oversized gun cabinet in the Brandon house.
Kathy started with the man-sized paper target at a 15-foot distance. She checked Kelly’s grip and form and made a few small adjustments. She told Kelly to fire the entire magazine into the chest area with a tight grouping.
Kelly put all her shots into a six-inch grouping in the left side of the chest area. Kathy said, “Not bad. I see you have your mother’s genes. She was very good with a handgun and outstanding with a rifle.”
Moving the target silhouette to thirty feet, Kathy told Kelly to reload and to focus on head shots, using the same steady firing rate she used at the 15-foot range. All but two of the rounds were in the head.
Kathy commented, “Very good. It seemed to me that you missed your first and next to last shots. The first miss was because of an improper setup to begin. Your weight was a little too much on your back foot. The second miss looked to me that you had lost focus momentarily. Let’s try that again at 35 feet. Same drill. Concentrate. In this case there is only one target.”
This time Kelly put all 10 rounds into the target’s head. Kathy said, “Not only good. But very good. That was excellent shooting. Jack will be pleased. Now let’s move up to the big stuff. Don’t think that the .22 High Standard is not a very effective and deadly weapon, especially when loaded with .22 long rifle hollow points. It can also be fitted with an effective sound suppression system.”
For the .357 Magnum, Kathy moved the new target back to the 15-foot range. Kathy watched carefully as Kelly loaded the heavy revolver and brought it up to her firing position. The revolver was near the top of the line for recoil. Indoor shooting with this weapon required good ear protection. Unfortunately, when you had to use it in a real situation, especially inside, ear protection was not standard practice. Using a slow cadence, Kelly put all six shots in a 14-inch circle. Using rapid fire, two of the six missed the target.
Kathy said, “Not bad! The .357 Magnum revolvers are not made for beginning shooters to score well. Practice is necessary. Now that we have tried both ends of the recoil scale, try my .45 caliber SOCOM. It manages the recoil better and has a 12-round magazine. I noticed that our hands are about the same size. This weapon should feel good in your hands. As you can see, a sound suppressor can be easily attached. Give it a try. Fire the entire magazine, and then insert the second magazine and continue firing. The target will be at 30 feet. Fire when ready.”
After firing the .357 revolver, the .45 automatic seemed easy to control. Kelly fired two magazines and put all her shots in the chest and head of the silhouette. Kelly cleared her weapon, turned toward Kathy and said, “I love that gun. It felt like an extension of my arm. I didn’t fight the recoil.”
“We have one more in our cabinet. You can have it. I want you to get a concealed weapon permit. The man who runs the range will help you with the applications and requirements. Use our address. The house is in my name. Let’s get some lunch and after that we’ll run a surveillance exercise.”