Robert Huxley, formerly Joel Hankins, was growing more comfortable with his new surroundings and identity. His apartment above the three-car garage was old and rundown, but it was better than where he grew up. He must have been nuts to get involved with al Qaeda. Very serious people with no sense of humor. Set up a good business cover for them, and they trash his business and him. His growing Oriental rug business was over. He hoped changing his name and car would be enough to keep those scary people from finding him. If they knew his main interest in life was hunting and killing young girls and not living the life of a Jihadist, he would be dead.
In just a few days, he had found work as a painter. It didn’t pay much but it was a start and he didn’t need much. He still had thousands of al Qaeda dollars. Too bad he couldn’t collect the insurance on his shop and contents. Well, it wasn’t worth his life. The cops were just as far from catching him as the Muslims. No fingerprints on record. No credit cards and no social security. Robert Huxley would just have to make it alone. With the Jihad business out of the way, he could concentrate on his research of the instant of departing life. He had to keep away from his study of martial arts for a while. That scary old dude from Herat would be looking for him when he didn’t see the recontact personal ad in the local papers. Tonight would be a good time to go hunting. Help get his mind off his worries. He had always been lucky on Thursdays.
Just a block away in a parking lot with a clear view of Hankins’ apartment, Kathy and Kelly were sitting in one of the two cars they were using today, and talking about their target. The file Frank provided contained Hankins’ daily Georgetown activities, pictures of people he met, and locations of his painting jobs. No one had been inside his garage or living quarters. There were a number of other pictures of his apartment, car and restaurants he frequented. Nothing to indicate he was trying to get in touch with al Qaeda. Kathy believed Hankins was frightened and wasn’t cut out to be a mainline Jihadist.
Before they left the condo in Charleston, Kathy showed Kelly the pictures she found in Hankins’ apartment of dying or dead young women. Kelly was just as angry as Kathy was when she and Jack first saw the pictures. Kelly said, “At the first opportunity, let’s get him. The little weasel shouldn’t be breathing the same air.”
At six o’clock, Hankins backed out of his garage. Kathy gave the Explorer a block lead and pulled out behind a small red sedan. Once he headed north on Route 17, she dropped back another quarter mile. Other than a few gated housing developments, there was nowhere he could go until he got to Pawleys Island. Hankins’ right taillight was brighter than the left one making the car easier to track at a distance. Kelly also had the car in view through her binoculars. As the traffic increased, Kathy moved up. For the next 45 minutes, they cruised along fifty plus yards behind the five-year-old gray Ford Explorer. Kathy mentioned during a stop for a traffic light, “This surveillance is, so far, as easy as it gets. Hankins isn’t even checking for anyone following him. When he parks, be ready to get out quickly and follow him, while I find a good place to park our car. Keep in touch with your cell. Remember, no eye contact.”
Kelly said, “He’s driving like he isn’t sure where he’s going. He’s heading toward the bright lights just ahead.”
“Yeah, he’s going to Broadway at the Beach, a big tourist area. You know, the bastard may be hunting again. He barely got settled in Georgetown. The creep’s hormones must be flowing. Get ready, he’s turning into the parking lot beside that upscale hotel. I’ll drop you just past the entrance to the parking lot. I’ll go on down and come in from the other direction.”
Five minutes later Kathy parked in a space near the area reserved for valet parking. She had a clear view of the front entrance and got her camera ready. Looking out through the windshield she had a perfect view of the front entrance. Kelly called in and said, “He’s sitting in the bar nursing a drink. I can see him through the glass window. Don’t think he can see me.”
“Okay, where did he park?”
“Just to the left as you come in the entrance. There were several open spots facing Route 17. Not a good place for him to do his chloroform stunt and drag some young girl into the Explorer. Not enough cover. He must be doing some recon or what do you call it.”
“We intelligence types call it casing, my dear.”
“Hey, Kathy, I’m trying. What do I do now?”
“What do you think you should do?”
“Come back to the car?”
“Yes. I’m parked just to the left of the valet area.”
As Kathy was watching for Kelly to come out, a black Cadillac CTS pulled into the valet area. Kathy was admiring the car when she had a full front view of the driver emerging. She was astounded! Training took over and she snapped several pictures. She couldn’t be mistaken. It was the Professor. Was he here to meet with Hankins? She called Kelly who answered on the first vibration and said, “Don’t leave yet. Find a place where you can disappear, if Hankins comes your way. There is an older, well-dressed gentleman in a dark suit, no topcoat or hat coming in now. I’m interested if he and Hankins meet or see each other. Be very discreet. Okay?”
Kathy called Jack and said, “Get Frank on the line right now. We have the Professor under surveillance in Myrtle Beach at the Beach Combers Hotel on Route 17 at Broadway at the Beach. He just entered the hotel. Hankins is there at the bar and Kelly is in the lobby, watching to see if they meet. I got several good pictures of him as he got out of his car. I’m sending them to you now.”
“Stand by, Frank is coming to the phone.”
Seconds later Frank was on the phone. He said, “Kathy, are you sure it’s the Professor?”
“One hundred percent. You should have the pictures soon.”
“What are you doing in Myrtle Beach?”
“Kelly and I followed Hankins up here. We thought he was going hunting. He showed no sign of checking for a tail. I’m going way out and say I don’t think this is a planned meeting. I just don’t think it’s the Professor’s M.O. to risk meeting a dingbat like Hankins in a hotel lobby.”
“All our tradecraft lore tells us this cannot be a coincidence, but you may be right. Let’s see what Kelly has to report. Try to find out if he is staying in the hotel. I’m sending a team right now to Myrtle Beach. I’ll tell you where they locate. I want you to brief them before you go. I know it will expose you. Try and keep Jack and Kelly away from them. I don’t want them exposed as well.
“The pictures have just come in. No doubt you caught the Professor. Kathy, that is wonderful work. Now keep him under surveillance until you can brief the team, and then you get some rest.”
Jack was still on the line and said, “Kathy, it’s great to be very good and very lucky as well. Looking forward to Kelly’s read. Remember, Hankins knows what you look like. I’m coming up tomorrow with Shadow. There is nothing we can do here right now. Okay?”
“Great! I really want you to come. I’ll bribe the motel guy to let Shadow in my room. Kelly is just down the hall. See you later, depending on what the Professor does and when Frank’s team gets here. Love you, bye.”
Kelly called Kathy and said, “The Professor got in an elevator by himself. The elevator went nonstop directly to the fifth floor. He did not meet Hankins. I don’t think they could have seen each other. The Professor wasted no time. He went directly to the elevator. Hankins never left the bar and his back was to the Professor the entire time. What now?”
“Stay cool and out of sight. When Hankins leaves, we stay here and make sure the Professor doesn’t vanish.”