“Shades of Justice” Chapter Forty-one

Kelly nodded and Jack was gone, just like that. She left the door open to keep anyone watching believing they were all inside. When she started to hobble Jake’s legs he tried to kick her. Kelly walked around behind him and put pressure on both carotids. In 30 seconds Jake was out. When he regained consciousness his legs were hobbled and a brown paper bag was over his head. He started to struggle and Kelly said, “You want another treatment? The timing is tricky. Sometimes people do not wake up. So be a good boy.”

Jack moved from the back wall of the cabin into the scrub pine and sagebrush on the slope. From there he made his way to the site he used to watch over Kelly’s encounter with Jake. Jack settled down in his temporary hide and began scanning the terrain to the east. Jim could shoot and marksmanship is important in the sniper world, but Jim was no sniper. A decent woodsman and hunter of game, but hunting people is very different, especially those who have been well-trained as snipers. Jim wasn’t expecting to become the hunted. He would have picked a stand with only one thought: Did it have line of sight to where he thought the target might be? No thought would have been given to light changing during the day, multiple escape routes, shooting and moving, or whether his position had defensive vulnerabilities. Jack had commanded a counter-sniper team in the Sunni Triangle in Iraq. He was working hard not to underestimate his opponent but he had to speed things up. He didn’t want Jim to get a shot at Kelly because in 40 minutes Kelly would be leading Jake back over the ridge to their rendezvous. She could be vulnerable moving up the slope to the ridge line with a prisoner. Jack decided he would search for ten more minutes then move aggressively to find Jim’s shooting stand.

Moving his search pattern in closer to the cabin he saw a small movement not caused by the wind or wildlife foraging. Searching the spot slowly he gradually made out a boot and the straight line of a rifle. Jack wondered why he had set up in there with his back to the cabin. True, he was on high ground provided by a small knoll. It must be that although he can’t see the front door of the cabin, he is positioned to cover the usual route from the cabin to the parking area Jake used. Also, he probably feels that he is high enough to see any movement toward him. He has to turn to cover the trail Kelly used to approach the cabin. They were lucky to be inside the cabin before Jim arrived. He was probably just making his way from the fire road and looking for an ambush position. So he doesn’t even know we are here already, Jack thought. He will be concentrating on his back trail waiting for us to show up. The cover is not great down the slope but approaching from the front is the safer way. Jack planned his route down the slope and into the streambed. Its high banks would cover him until he was nearly on top of Jim’s position. Slowly and patiently Jack began his crawl down the slope.

In 15 minutes Kelly would leave the cabin with her captive and move up to the ridge line. If he turned, Jim might see them and have a shot. Moving up a creek bed quietly is not easy. The sound of the fast-moving current masked some noise, but Jack had to be patient. He couldn’t see the small knoll where Jim was waiting from his route tight against the east bank of the stream. A small cottonwood with its roots exposed and lying partially in the water marked the spot where Jack planned to come out of the stream bed and confront his father’s old friend.

Kelly would be starting out any minute now. At his slow pace he wouldn’t reach his marker before she left the back of the cabin.

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

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