“Shades of Justice” Chapter Eighteen

Jack and Kelly searched the rest of the apartment. They found a digital camera and a vintage laptop. “I think we should take these,” Kelly said. Jack nodded.

As they walked back out into the living room, Kelly thought out loud. “What will the cops think when they reconstruct?”

“They will think it’s a professional hit. Probably over drug territory. A crack forensic team will find evidence of an interrogation, but won’t challenge the finding it was bad guys killing bad guys,” Jack said. “Final check. Have we missed anything? Left anything?”

Kelly said, “All clear. I have the trash. Let’s go!”

“Take my .22 high standard and dispose of it before coming back to the hotel,” Jack said, tossing the empty gun at her and turning to walk out the room in one fluid motion. In two minutes he was back in the panel truck with Shadow and Kathy. “Sorry Shadow,” Jack said, “We did okay without the A Team.”

After listening to the interrogation report back at the hotel, Kathy said, “You covered the waterfront and were only gone for 20 minutes. No choice but to kill both of them?”

“I couldn’t come up with any way they could live without endangering both Sally and us. Money and threats would not have stopped them from contacting the kidnappers at the first opportunity. None of the evidence we have would stand up in court. Captain Shorer would have thrown the evidence out. It was obtained illegally and our part in collecting the evidence would be disclosed. The prosecutor’s office would have to charge us and we could have gotten some serious jail time. I know and respect the rule of law. Our society is based on the sanctity of the law. But, I believe there is at times a higher law to protect the innocent and rescue those who are in hands of killers, like in the case of the serial killer in the Carolinas last year. Without us, a young innocent woman would have been tortured and killed. And several more each year. In her case the law would not have and could not have moved fast enough to save her. Again, the evidence we had would have been thrown out.

“I don’t know what the answer is, but it is different than the politically correct solution of blindly following legal procedure. The line between rights of criminals and rights of the victims is routinely crossed in the favor of some very bad people.”

Kathy nodded. “I don’t see how any of this can blow back on us, unless your friend Howie and his people talk. I worry that someday we are going to get into serious legal problems.”

“That is a risk. I decided to take it for Sally’s sake. I think we have a real chance of saving her if we move very quickly.”

“On the Inland Waterway by traveling day and part of the night at 15 plus knots on open water, the trip could take ten days from the Chesapeake, which is the natural place for them to start from. Far from the crime scene. Get underway before anyone is even looking. Weather is a big factor. In good weather they will run outside and make better time.”

Jack raised his eyebrows at her knowledge. “Kathy, you know a lot about boats and the waterways.”

“Don’t forget, I’m a Carolina girl.”

“Okay. Tell us what to do.”

“With or without help from the cops?”

“Without.”

“I knew you would say that. Call the pilots and have them file a flight plan to Jacksonville and Miami for tomorrow. We’ll rent two cars at the Jacksonville Airport using aliases and drive to Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island.”

Jack said, “We both know Fernandina Beach. I like to operate on ground I know. I doubt the people we’re after will have much area knowledge. We’ll need a fast boat that can carry at least five people at a good speed. I know the waters around port. Not many people know Fernandina Beach is a deep-water port. Good-sized freighters are often tied up at the dock. To even up the odds, I want to make our move before their boat, the Night Lady, delivers her cargo to the freighter. We don’t even know the name of the freighter or its next port of call.”

“So you want to ambush the boat before it reaches dockside in Fernandina Beach?”

“Right on,” Jack said. “Outside an ambush I don’t see any other way. We’ll have two silenced .22 High Standards and a couple of 12-gauge shotguns with double 00 buckshot loads. It will be just the three of us. We’ll wear official-looking Coast Guard uniforms and be flying a big flag. That will be option one. We’ll need a plan B. There’s time to think the rescue attempt through. But we cannot let them put Sally aboard the freighter. Pirates operated from Amelia Island in the past. I guess we can follow old traditions and fly the skull and crossbones.”

“Playing it that way we have no choice but to follow the pirate axiom of ‘dead men tell no tales,’” Kathy continued. “The problem is identifying the small boat she is on. We have the name, Night Lady, but they could change that. We must know when the boat has entered the Inland Waterway through the Cumberland Sound to the Amelia River. Then we can pick an ambush site. We cannot just go and sit on the river and find the right boat. The odds of that are out-of-sight. At the least, we need to know when and where they last stopped at a marina. And what the boat looks like, size, color, make. Then, maybe, we can find it. Kelly and I will get on the phone and try marinas along the Coastal Inland Waterway. They will have to make several fuel stops and probably spend most nights tied up or anchored.”

Shadow ran to the door. Kathy opened the door before Kelly could knock. Kelly said, “How do you do that? I made no noise at all.”

“Just trade secrets. Someday you’ll learn.”

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Filed under Action thrillers, Barry Kelly, Books, Spy novels

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