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“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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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Seventeen

Jack called Kathy and asked her to bring Kelly back to the hotel for lunch. When Jack returned from taking Shadow for a short walk, Kathy and Kelly were waiting for him. “Thanks for the invitation,” Kathy said. “We were thinking about lunch.”

“Eat up, it’s going to be a long day and night. My hired investigators found the Pakistani ringleader, got good pictures of him, his car, and apartment building. He’s the only one who may know where the pipeline is taking Sally McGovern. He shares the apartment with another male Pakistani. I want to grab the leader, Mohammed Azuri, and ask him some questions. Everyone will carry the .22 High Standard automatics with attached silencers and use .22 long, hollow tip rounds. We have three of them in the hidden compartment in the Ford Flex.

“Tonight will be tougher. Unlike Walid, I don’t see how we can let Azuri and his roommate live. Let’s hope Azuri is home alone. If he isn’t, we leave whoever else is there for someone to eventually find. I believe Azuri will be hard to crack and if we let him go, we’ll be looking over our shoulders all the time. He is the kind of enemy that is better dead. We’ll need another panel truck, bigger than the last one, if possible.”

Kathy said, “I’ll get the truck from a different place. Kelly, you check out the apartment building, security issues, entrances, cameras, and take a look at the hallway this thug lives on. The pictures from the investigative team are good. We don’t need too much more recon. No chances and go armed.”

In the next hour, Jack went over the way he wanted this operation to go down. When he was sure everyone knew their role he said, “Everyone get some rest. If we find out where Sally is being taken, we’ll move immediately to intercept and rescue her.”

“Jack, do you believe there is a chance?” Kelly asked.

“Yes. We’ve had some lucky breaks. With some more luck and top execution on our part, there is a chance. You told us Sally is tough and a fighter. That improves our odds. Rescue is one thing. Escaping with a drugged victim is another thing. I put our plane on standby. The pilot is someone I trust and we can take some handguns with us. But, where we have to go will dictate whether we can use them.”

With all personal cell phones left in the hotel, their communications were limited to using the pre-paid cells Kathy had bought earlier in the day. Jack decided to bring Shadow. No one had ever escaped Shadow. He could hold a captive still for hours without help. Kelly’s recon of the apartment produced no new information. It was now 9:00 PM. Everyone was gloved and ready. Jack and Kelly slipped out of the large panel truck and made their way to a locked side entrance. Picking the lock took 30 seconds. They went up the staircase to the fifth floor. Jack hung back as Kelly went up to the door and knocked. In the dim hall light beneath a hat she was sure she wouldn’t be recognized in spite of her association with Sally. She heard someone come to the door and use the peephole. A voice said, “What do you want?”

Kelly said, “You drive a black Chevy Impala?”

“So what if I do? What business is it of yours?”

“Well, I was trying to park and backed into a black Impala parked out front.”

“You did what?” the man said, as he opened the door. Kelly saw that it was Azuri and stepped to her left. Jack charged into the room. He saw a man sitting on the couch watching TV and shot him twice in the head. Kelly followed Jack into the room in one leaping step and knocked Azuri to the floor. She kicked the door shut. Azuri was conscious as Jack pushed his .22 automatic into his throat. Kelly patted Azuri down and found an eight-inch, double-edged boot knife. She checked for a pulse in the man Jack shot. No pulse, but a snub nose .38 revolver was in his pocket. Kelly wondered what a so-called bad thug was doing with a gun like that. She hurried back to help Jack tape up their captive and saw Jack quickly and efficiently turn on a recorder so Kathy could hear what happened next.

Jack taped Azuri’s mouth shut and began to talk to him as Kelly taped his legs and arms. When she finished, Jack moved the silenced-elongated barrel on his .22 automatic from Azuri’s throat to his forehead. He could see his eyes focusing on the weapon. With his free hand, Jack slapped his face back and forth. He sat back for a moment straddling Azuri’s chest and said, “Do I have your attention?”

Jack raised his hand again and Azuri nodded vigorously. Jack said, “That’s better. I’m going to ask you some questions. Your life depends on the answers. First, I know your name and that you are from Pakistan. You are the leader of the people who watch young women for the kidnappers. I know the names of all your people, where they live, and that all your cars are stolen. I know more. I want the truth. I’ll punish you for any lies or for failing to answer my questions. Your friend Abdul is dead. He died quickly. You won’t if you fail to help me. It will be painful to resist. Do you understand?”

Again Azuri nodded. Jack leaned over and pressed a piece of duct tape over his nose. Azuri struggled to breathe. Jack turned and whispered to Kelly, “No need to take him out to the truck. We can do the job right here with less risk.”

“He’s stopped struggling,” Kelly noted.

“When I pull off the tape with part of his mustache, he will be ready to help.”

Azuri gasped and choked as he struggled to start breathing again. Jack said, “Are you ready to answer my questions now?”

Jack ripped the tape off his mouth along with pieces of his straggly beard. Azuri started to talk. Jack slapped him and started to put the tape back on. “The rule is that you only talk to answer my questions. If you understand the rule, we can start again.” Azuri nodded hurriedly.

Jack stopped re-applying the duct tape and asked, “Where is Sally McGovern?” shoving a picture of her in front of Azuri’s face.

Azuri said, “I don’t know.”

“Wrong answer,” Jack said and put the tape back over his mouth and nose. To keep his struggles quiet, Jack held his legs still.

When Azuri’s face got red with blue tinges in his lips, Jack pulled the tape off, taking more beard and mustache.

It took a few minutes before his color returned and the gasping stopped. Jack asked, “Same question, but I want a different answer.”

Azuri’s eyes were rolling, looking for something to help him. Jack said, “I don’t hear anything,” and reached for the roll of gray duct tape.

Azuri frantically said, “No! No! I don’t know where she is now but I know where she is being taken.”

Jack patted Azuri on the cheek and said, “That’s better. Tell me more.”

“We turned her over to the Arabs as usual. They are the moneymen. Ali Hussein is the only one I know. He pays me. He was complaining of having to take this one by road to a marina on the big bay. Where she would be put on a boat down the Inland Waterway to Amelia Island, Florida.”

“Sorry! Not enough. Tell me more.”

Azuri looked into Jack’s eyes, saw no mercy, and frantically thought of what he could say. Jack tore off a strip of duct tape. Before he pasted it over Azuri’s mouth and nose, Azuri burst out, “She’s going to Karachi, Pakistan.”

Jack stopped and said, “Keep talking.”

“The boat is called Night Lady.”

“How is she going to Karachi?”

“A big freighter will take her as a passenger with a nurse.”

“Where do I find Ali Hussein?”

“He moves all the time. He ordered me to take my watchers to Baltimore. He will be there. He travels in a room on wheels.”

“Have you ever seen it?”

“Only a picture. He’s very happy with it. Passengers can go from the front with the driver to the back for tea or a snack. Sometimes he moves our women for short distance in his motor room.”

“Where is it now?”

“I don’t know. Maybe on the way to Baltimore by now.”

“Tell me what it looks like.”

“It looks like a small furniture moving truck with windows. It is colored like the desert sand.”

“Where will he meet you in Baltimore?”

“Ali gives me the name and address of a motel. We wait there for him. He meets with me. Gives me orders and tells me another place for my people to live near the woman we are to watch.”

Jack asked Azuri to describe Ali.

Azuri said, “He is a big man. Taller than you. Has a short beard and mustache. Is darker than me. Also has a knife scar from his right ear to the middle of his nose. He’s proud of this scar. He killed the man who cut him. Likes to work with a knife. Does not like guns.”

“Thank you,” Jack said, getting off Azuri’s legs. Then he got to his feet and started to the door, pausing to look over his shoulder, then half-turned to shoot Azuri twice in the forehead. When Azuri’s body was still, Jack and Kelly took off the duct tape and cleaned his face of the adhesive residue and put his boot knife in his hand. Kelly told Jack about the .38 she found in the pocket of the dead man on the couch. Jack pulled the .38 part way out of the pocket to lead the investigators to believe he was pulling his weapon out when he was killed.

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Sixteen

Thursday, June 5th

The next morning, Kathy went to hang out with Kelly to see how she made out with the forger. Jack decided to call Howie to check on his progress and when Howie said he had something, Jack told him he would be there in 20 minutes. With an extra tip and glimpse of Jack’s badge, the taxi driver had Jack on the pavement outside the building where Howie rented a few offices in 15 minutes.

As Jack walked into Howie’s office, he was met with a cup of very good coffee. Howie was smiling from ear to ear.

“You look like your love life has picked up,” Jack told Howie.

“Better,” Howie grinned. “It is sometimes good to be lucky rather than good. You won’t believe this.”

“Howie, tell me before I shoot you. It would be justified.”

“My teams found every one of your targets. Pictures of everyone they met and all license plates collected. All were stolen. Tracked all the targets eventually to where they were staying. These guys may be bad, but smart they’re not.”

“Howie, that’s really good work. Can you give me all the paper, reports, maps, etc.? Give them all a $500 bonus for such quick work. Emphasize no loose talk. This isn’t over yet. Put all the targets on a discreet 24/7 surveillance. Except for this guy,” Jack said, pointing to a picture. “No surveillance on him. No taking chances. Don’t underestimate these guys. Even dumb thugs win sometimes.”

“How come you want all my paperwork?”

“Remember when I gave you the rules? I said no paperwork. But you do deserve an answer. I don’t know what all the families of these young women have in mind. It could get mired in court work. None of the evidence you have is admissible in a court. Therefore, it is better you don’t have any in your files, in case they learn you did some work on the case. I also paid in cash for a reason. For your purposes, you handle that however you want.

“I would like to put you and some of your people on a monthly retainer. Same fee. They have to be willing to travel with a few hours’ notice and the same rules apply. Agree?”

“What’s not to agree to? I’ll put three of my best on standby. Wait a minute and I’ll collect all the paperwork.”

But Jack was already lost in thought, planning his team’s next move.

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Fifteen

Jack and Dan entered the front door to a small, unattended lobby. Jack said, “Let’s try the elevator first.” They stepped into the waiting elevator car and Jack pushed the button for the top floor. “Our shooter probably took the elevator to his shooting hide. Much faster than the stairs and he would have been carrying his rifle and maybe some other things like binoculars and a small bag of sand for a stable shooting rest. Also, he may have been carrying a toolbox for cover. No one stops a man carrying a toolbox in a building open to the public.”

The elevator stopped at the 7th floor. When the door opened they saw they were in plain view to a floor full of people working in cubicles. Jack stepped out and a woman standing outside her cubicle said, “May I help you?”

Jack said, “We’re with the police.” Dan stepped out, introduced both of them and showed his badge.

The woman looked around hesitantly. Jack said, “We need access to the roof, can you direct us?”

The woman relaxed and said, “My supervisor is out. Can you come back?”

Dan, still holding his badge, said, “No ma’am. Police business does not work like that. We are investigating a crime and need to get up on the roof. Now please show us the way!”

The woman backed up a step and stammered, “Follow me.”

The roof entrance was on the other side of room. The door was locked with a lever on the inside. She opened the door and Dan and Jack went up a short flight of stairs to the roof. Dan looked back and said, “Thank you, ma’am. You don’t need to come up here.”

When the door closed, Jack said, “Well, our shooter did not use this rooftop. But it is a good vantage point to look around.”

The rooftop provided a view of the 7-Eleven across Forbes but the access ruled it out as a shooting site. Dan said, “The next building is a full story taller. Do we go there?”

“You got it. The process of elimination. Think like a sniper. We’re done here, let’s go.”

The next building’s elevator opened on the top floor in a deserted hallway opposite a door leading to a short flight of stairs to the roof. “This looks much better,” Jack nodded. At the top of the stairs, they were confronted with a locked door. Jack tried the door and bent down to examine the key entrance in the dead bolt lock. After a minute he said, “I believe this lock has been repeatedly picked. The picker was good but you can see tell-tale small scratches.”

“Want me to go look for someone with a key?”

“No. Just give me a minute.” Jack pulled a few picks from his pocket and had the door open in 20 seconds.

“A man of many skills. You’ve been running with bad company,” Dan said, not smiling.

“No. My wife was with the CIA for some years and she taught me some of her skills.”

Jack walked out on the roof and over to the side facing Forbes Street. “This is perfect. Let me look around a little more. I am almost sure this is the sniper’s shooting spot.”

Jack looked around, assumed a shooting position behind the low wall bordering the roof and said, “In fact, I know he was here and took his shot from this exact spot.”

“Jack, I know you’re a good, very good, detective but where is the evidence?”

“Look right here,” Jack said, pointing to the top of the low wall.

“Jack, I don’t see anything.”

“Focus on the top of the ledge. See those particles of sand? They’re from the sand bag the shooter used to steady his rifle. On the roof where he was kneeling is a slight indentation made by his left knee. And more sand particles. I think his bag was worn and leaking sand.

“Let’s get a crime scene team up here and enough detectives to question people in this building and other buildings near here. Make sure the crime scene team bags the sand and photographs the knee print. Given the temperature of the roof at the time of shooting, the forensic guys may be able to estimate a weight and height from his shooting position. He also had to case the place just like we did. He may even have found himself in that building where the elevator opens into all those cubicles on the 7th floor. He also had to have a car or truck on the street near here. If my hunch is right it, would be a truck to fit with his working man’s uniform. He would also have been carrying a toolbox large enough for a broken down .22 Hornet. He may have gone into the 7-Eleven where John was shot to check things out. We need to look at all camera footage from the nearby buildings for the period one-hour before the shooting and ten minutes after. Could be any age and male or female. I know you will be told everything has been done. I think you can see it hasn’t been. Captain Shorer will back you. We need witnesses that can give a police artist enough to get a likeness of the shooter.”

“Okay. I am on it.”

“Let me know if you get anything.” Jack turned and walked back toward the access door.

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Fourteen

Jack left Howie’s office and hurried to meet detective Dan Reilly at the site of the sniper attack on the patrolmen. Dan was the father of John Reilly who was shot twice at the 7-Eleven near Forbes Street. Dan was standing on the curb when Jack got out of the taxi. Jack hugged his friend from days on the homicide unit. “Dan, I’m really sorry. How is John doing?”

“He’s doing pretty well. It wasn’t life-threatening. Made a mess out of his face and the hit in his arm caused some nerve damage. No one knows whether the nerves will be restored or how much of a recovery can be expected. He’s a tough kid with a positive attitude. I do want to catch the son-of-a-bitch who did this. Thank you for helping. Nobody on the force has your experience in sniper hunting.”

“What have they come up with so far? I have a report from Captain Shorer but just want to be sure it’s complete.”

“The ballistics guys are sure it was a .22 Hornet long rifle, hollow point. No dispute there. Where the shot came from, the shooter’s intentions, why at this spot, and did he try to hit both officers? Those issues are in dispute. We had people on the scene quickly but no one saw anything. My question is did they question people in the right place and ask the right questions? You know anyone shoots a cop, everyone thinks they have the answer. The captain is maintaining command on this crime. I don’t know how long he will keep it. His papers go in soon.”

“Can you show me where John was standing when he got hit?”

“Sure.” Dan took a few steps toward Forbes Street, stopped at a parked car and took the position like his son did leaning against his squad car. “Right like this. His partner agreed and the lab guys support John was standing on this spot against his car.”

“What do you know about the second shot? Interval between shots, where did it hit, and where were John and his partner when the second and last shot was fired?”

“When John was hit, his partner was on his right side and a little in front of him. When he saw John was hit he grabbed him and pulled him down and toward him. That’s when the second shot hit John high on the left arm.”

Jack said, “Stay there,” and walked over to stand where he thought John’s partner would have been when the shooting started. Jack said, “Now you’ve been hit. I pull you like this, right?”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“I’m pretty sure our sniper meant to hit both officers. The shots must have been about three to five seconds apart. Of course there may have been more but no evidence. So let’s assume there were only two rounds fired. In trying to save John, his partner inadvertently pulled John between himself and the shooter. That second shot was meant for the partner. The choice of a weapon must have been because the shooter knew he could get close and the sound wouldn’t be so loud. If so, it means that the shooter spent time casing the scene and found a sniper hide that he liked. Easy to get to and easy out. He would be wearing what would blend in at the time of the shooting. If you’re ready, let’s go find the shooting site.”

Jack led the way across Forbes and up Wood Street. Dan asked, “Why are we going up Wood Street?”

“My sniper sniffer tells me this is the way to go. From what you told me the shooter had to be in a 45-degree quadrant starting at the spot where John was hit. The second shot got my attention. The direction had to be this way. I also ruled out the possibility there could have been two shooters. Both shots came from the same angle. Two shooters would not have occupied the same spot. We won’t go more than 100 yards up Wood Street. By the time we crossed Forbes we had already gone 50 yards. I don’t think a serious shooter would use a .22 Hornet much beyond 150 yards. He was not target shooting. He knew he had to hit his target the first time. No option to move and try again. These buildings all look occupied. I doubt he would have rented space with a line of sight to his target. Too much exposure. So he must have been on a rooftop. The wounds indicated the trajectory was high to low. So that’s why we are walking up Wood Street.”

“I’ll be damned, you got all that from ten minutes at the crime scene?”

“No. From trial and error of hunting snipers. All have their own M.O. We don’t know this shooter’s yet. We’re looking for a shooting site on the left side of Wood Street because that gave him the best angle. We are going in this building and up to the roof. It is high enough to see the target area. You may have to use your badge.”

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Thirteen

9 AM Wednesday, June 4th

The next morning, Jack called a taxi and rode to Wilkinsburg, a nearby suburb of Pittsburgh, to see Howie Miller about using his investigative agency. Howie was waiting for Jack and offered him a steaming china cup of dark French roast. Jack looked at the cup and said, “Howie, is this the cup you use to impress clients? Well, I’m impressed. Give me a minute to commune with this cup and its contents and I’ll tell you why I’m here, taking up your time.” Jack drank some coffee. He thought over his opening and said, “An organized gang of kidnappers has been picking young women off the streets of major cities and selling them to clients in the Middle East and Far East. The police are working on it. But with the crimes taking place in almost random areas and with the police reluctant to commit major resources to finding young women of age who are reported missing, they don’t have much to show. To make it worse, the missing girls are often in major universities or employed in large urban areas where no one even reports them missing for days. I represent a number of the families who want to remain anonymous. They have asked me to do a private search for them. Their interest is to get their daughters home again. No interest in court or legal proceedings. The information I’ll share with you, if you decide to take the case, would not hold up in court. I’ll personally vouch for its authenticity. Are you interested?”

“How many investigators do you want me to use?”

“All you have and can get. They have to be willing to travel.”

“Jack, you’re asking me to shut all my cases down. I can’t do that.”

“How much do you charge an hour or day for your people on the job? I assume no one gets paid unless they are working on a contracted job.”

“Right. Nobody gets paid that I am not charging time and expenses to a client. My top guys get $500 a day and expenses. The others get $250.”

“I’ll triple the rate.”

“What! $1,500 per day for my top guys?”

‘“Yes, and a $50,000 bonus for you to manage the show and to be personally on call. Report only to me. No official interaction. No press and no credit for solving a major crime. No telling spouses or lovers or bar talk. A talking out-of-school investigator is out of your agency. Not just pulled off my job. Okay?

“Jesus! Jack, where is all the money coming from?”

“Not to worry. I’ll give you $25,000 cash to get started. If you need more let me know. And our arrangement details stop with you. You start as soon as I leave. What say?”

“I can’t turn it down. I know some serious shit is involved here but I trust you to protect me.”

“I have your back. Just like old times. Do we have a deal? No paper, just a handshake.”

Howie reached across the desk and took Jack’s offered hand. In the next hour, Jack gave Howie the leads he got from Walid and how he wanted Howie’s people to proceed. Jack made it clear that the people were dangerous and wouldn’t hesitate to kill. They were street smart but not pros. Probably had no training.

As he finished his briefing and handed Howie the data and photos, he said, “Just so we’re on the same page, there may be some rough stuff later, but for now it is strictly surveillance with photos and reports. You know the drill. Photos and data on everyone these four people meet. Error on the side of discretion. Don’t spook the targets. You and I will decide if we need to pick up the pressure.”

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“Shades of Justice” Chapter Twelve

By the time the panel truck was thoroughly wiped down with Clorox and ready for Kathy to return in the morning, it was after midnight. Jack asked Kelly to come back to the hotel to go over their activities and make plans for the next phase. While Jack was walking Shadow, Kathy made Kelly and herself a tall gin and tonic. They clinked glasses and Kelly said, “It seemed simple, but it wasn’t, was it?”

“No. Far from it. I’ve seen many operations in my time in the CIA. Jack can do more with fewer people than anyone I ever met or heard about. He has a gift of seeing the entire operation in several versions in his head while he is separating the operation into steps that can be easily briefed and followed. If something in one of the steps changes, he has a workable option ready to go.”

“How unusual is it for someone to be grabbed off the street, interrogated, made to cooperate and leave in a non-hostile state with a plan to recontact us all in one hour?”

“Just about never.”

“I still don’t understand how he made that work.”

“Jack was ready for it not to work. As it looked possible, he was planning as he was interrogating. Once he convinced Walid that he didn’t care if he died or not, Jack knew he had him. He started assessing Walid when he put him in the neck hold that put him out. He knew from then Walid wasn’t a pro, probably had no training, and was a weak person. So he began to plan to make him be a ‘willing’ informant. You notice how he convinced Walid that he, Jack, knew all about him and knew the answer to some of the interrogation questions. Examine the contact plan he gave Walid. There was no doubt that Walid knew the contact location. Having him stay in the car allows us the time to look for any kind of an ambush. If we see something we don’t like, we use the cell phone to direct him to another site. On the way to the next contact point we’ll do a thorough counter-surveillance check. If he’s clean we meet him. If not he gets no second chance.”

“Kathy, how will I ever learn all this?” Kelly sighed.

“Just like this, little sister. You have good instincts, at least as good as mine. Jack’s are off the chart and he never turns them off. That’s why I feel safe with him, even with all our enemies. And don’t forget your DNA. Your mother was one of the best ever. She could shoot better than Jack. Her operational skills weren’t as good. She didn’t have Jack’s intricate planning abilities. But, if you’re half as good as your mother, you’ll be better than 95 percent of the people in this business. Watch Jack, ask questions when you can, and learn to compartment your thinking process, don’t ask me how. Just work on it.”

After a pause, Kathy said, “Jack will be here in a few minutes. It will be late before we are through. I want you to stay here tonight. You are now involved with some very bad people who know you and where you live. We have to do something about that. Living alone in a known place puts you in unnecessary danger. Not a good idea. And since you’re staying, you can have another gin and tonic.”

“Okay. Some of these rooms are bigger than my apartment. I can put up with it for one night.” Kelly smiled and finished her drink.

Jack and Shadow came in. “Did I just hear someone say they were staying over night? That’s good because for a while we shouldn’t make a practice of being alone.”

Kelly couldn’t answer Jack because Shadow was so happy to see her that he was trying to get in the overstuffed chair with her. Jack said, “You are a special person. He never pays that much attention to anyone but Kathy or me.

“When he settles down, we can get on with some serious stuff.”

“He’s okay,” Kathy said, scratching the dog’s head. “He’s just bored. No action and long periods wandering around this suite.”

Jack said, “Okay. Everyone, including you Shadow, come and sit or lay around the dining table.”

Everyone settled in and Jack started. “Kelly, tough times are ahead. I know you have been there and done that but this will be a bit different. Here we may end up the hunted as well as the hunters,” he paused to let that thought sink in. “The worse problem first, I believe within the next few months we will lose our inside influence with the police and the CIA. There will be no one looking out for us. The link with the police will be finished within 60 to 90 days. Probably the CIA link is already gone with the posting of Sam Richfield to Tokyo. He is no longer in a position to give us any advanced warning. In the eyes of most law and order officers and intelligence folk we are outside the law. No matter how effective we have been, we are breaking the law and are big-time criminals, murderers, kidnappers, extortionists, torturers, have weapons violations, surveillance without warrants, breaking and entering, wire taping, arson, use of aliases … need I go on?”

“How many managers or street cops would pass up a chance to bring us in? It would be a career-making bust,” Kathy said.

“You’re scaring me.” Kelly looked back and forth at Jack and Kathy, her eyes wide.

“Good,” Jack said. “It will take all our skills and discipline to stay out of serious jail time.”

“What can we do?”

Kathy said, “Simple. Don’t get caught. For example, this is the last time we will all be together in public. Cops showing your picture to the hotel staff would be the starting point. So while we need to operate together, we must be very careful about the wrong people seeing us together. That’s step one. The next one is to be ready to drop out of sight. That means sets of alias documentation that will stand up to at least a first level of checking. We cannot fake fingerprints and DNA. We need transportation bought and prepositioned. Maybe even airplanes. Also passports if we have to leave the country and places arranged around the world where we can live safely. Same for here. I want at least three places bought under different identities or by some organization or company. Shadow is a problem. We can’t hide him and he’s not going to be left anywhere, so if people are looking for anyone traveling with a black Bouvier, we defeat that by having more than one. Maybe even owning a kennel of Bouviers and giant schnauzers. We start getting ready tomorrow.”

Jack said, “Kathy, take Kelly to this address. The man who answers the door is a master forger. He knows me and works for us. My father found him and bought his loyalty years ago. He gets a nice check every year. Tell him what we all need. Give him 30 days for the essentials and 60 days for the nice-to-have documents. We need to be able to travel to Canada and not as tourists. Same with Mexico. He needs no real names. He may already know my father’s but don’t tell him any more than necessary. Tell him these documents have to be used to buy property and businesses outside the U.S. Concentrate on getting Mexico and Canada on the must-have-soon list.

“Tomorrow morning I’m meeting with an old friend who runs an investigative agency of former detectives and cops. I’m asking them to find and follow the people Walid identified tonight. I may buy the agency. I need to think on it a bit more. Okay, on those thoughts, happy dreams. I’m going to bed.”

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