Kathy kicked the garbage cans around and then took cover with Shadow. Just as Jack planned, Conrad turned on the porch light and came charging out with a shotgun. When he hit the bottom step and turned toward the scattered garbage, Jack moved out of his concealment behind a five-foot high scraggily Virginia cedar at the base of the stairs, used his left arm to put a neck lock on Conrad’s throat, while his right hand and arm controlled the shotgun. With Conrad helpless, he pivoted to his left and slammed him down on the flagstone walk. Jack shoved the barrel of the 12-gauge up under Conrad’s chin and said, “Your gambling buddy in Atlantic City sent me to talk to you. Now call your woman to come out. Tell her you’ve fallen and hurt your leg. Don’t move from this spot. Even a small movement will get you both killed.”
The back door opened and the woman came down the steps. She saw Conrad down on the walk and said, “What happened? I told you that walk was a menace. How badly are you hurt?” As she reached the halfway point on the stairs, Kathy called, “Stop right there. Put your hands where I can see them.”
The woman turned and started back up the steps. Kathy, with one hand on Shadow’s head, gave him the signal to attack. Shadow bounded up the steps, seized the flowing housecoat and pulled her down the steps. When she hit the ground, he put his front paws on her chest and his huge open jaws inches from her face. Before the woman could even scream, Kathy’s SOCOM was in her mouth, chipping a few teeth.
Kathy said, “Be still and quiet and you might live.”
Kathy rolled her on her stomach, face in the grass and put plastic cuffs on her thick wrists.
Jack heard the cars pull into the driveway. Leaving Kathy and Shadow to guard Conrad and his wife, Jack ran back to the barn. Lou and Sally had helped Kelly get the three other captives ready to move. Jack pulled Kelly and Sally aside and said, “Look, girls forget your empathy for these ladies. We need to get them back into their lives without any of us being involved any further. Kelly, tell them they were freed by a special group that is hunting down the entire human trafficking gang.
If they give testimony to the police or newspapers, they will be putting themselves and their families in danger. Take this envelope. There is enough cash in there to give each of them $4,000 and pay for a motel for a few days. Pick a decent motel, pay cash for two days. No true names. Take the girls right to their rooms or room. Not through the lobby. It might be better for them to be in the same suite or two adjoining rooms. They can call anyone they want. Try to get them to calm down their families, so wailing sirens don’t arrive with news media. Sally’s the only one in decent clothes. She should make the reservations. It will be daylight soon and they’ll be able to take a taxi to a shopping mall and buy clothes, suitcases, etc. If they agree, get them to make their own arrangements to fly home or wherever.
“Kelly, leave no phone numbers and no plans for a reunion or get together. Tell them you were working undercover to take this gang down. Ask them to protect you. No one from this gang will be coming after them but they should low key the whole thing. No media. Take the Flex. Try to avoid cameras at the motel, if any. Kathy and I will see you at home in a few hours. Let’s get going. It will be light in less than an hour.”
Sally said, “There’s a young black lab hanging around in the driveway. May I take him with us?”
“Yes! I was wondering what I could do with him. Either keep him or find him a good home. But not at our house. I think he is terrified of Shadow, and Gideon might think he’s a toy.”
Kelly led the girls off to their ride back to the world. Lou went back to the car to wait with Ted and Warren while Jack cleaned up the scene.
Jack joined Kathy and took Conrad to the barn for a quiet talk. Once inside, Jack told Conrad to sit on a bale of hay. Conrad had recovered from Jack’s takedown and said, “I don’t know who the fuck you think you are or what you’re doing but you’re a dead man.”
Jack said, “Bad start,” and slapped Conrad hard enough to knock him off his seat.
“Okay, Conrad. Can we start over? If not, it will get much worse. I won’t lose any sleep over killing you. I’m listening!”
Conrad just stared at Jack. Opened his mouth but didn’t say anything. Jack seized his right fore finger and broke it at the third joint. Conrad screamed. “See, you can talk. Now what do you want to tell me? You have nine more fingers.”
Conrad said, “Go to hell. I’m going to have you killed.”
“Wrong answer.” Conrad hurriedly put his hands behind him. Jack put both hands on his face and pressed his thumbs hard upward under his cheekbones. Conrad tried to scream but couldn’t. Jack increased the pressure. Conrad grabbed at Jack’s hands and screamed when Jack broke his middle finger and said, “Be careful, Conrad only eight left. Now are you ready to start by telling me who you would ask to kill me?”
Conrad shook his head.
“Okay. You win time in the pit.”