Part 59 of an original tale that delves into the unexplored realms of the human mind. Hired by her lover to find a raven haired beauty, Benjamin Bering must avoid the local police as well as the agents of a nonexistent government agency who are after him and the woman. There are just two problems. The woman is in a coma and her body has been stolen. (Part 1 can be found HERE.)
Ahead of us, the SUV appeared from behind the framed skeletal remains of an old shack by the side of the road. Dust and gravel was being spat from beneath the vehicle's rear tires as it turned onto the pavement and into our path.
"Don't these bastards ever give up!" Brock snarled as he braked and swerved trying to avoid slamming into the rear end of the SUV.
In spite of his efforts, the front driver's side bumper smacked into the SUV's right rear taillight. We braced ourselves as we slid sideways up against a utility pole. Thirty yards ahead of us the other vehicle came to a stop on the shoulder.
After making sure that Baxter and I were okay, Brock was rushing toward the other vehicle with his gun drawn. I could see two young men scrambling out of the SUV. Seeing Brock and his gun one of them raised his hands and pleaded, "Don't shoot. We're sorry!"
"We were just taking it for a ride. Honest sir, we just borrowed it!" the other one cried.
"Well, I'll be," I said to Corporal Baxter, "they're teenagers. They must have stolen that SUV and were out on a joy ride."
I watched bemused as Brock began to take advantage of the teenagers' misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. "Let's see, boys," he said, "grand theft auto, driving recklessly, driving to endanger and resisting arrest ... I ought to run you in."
One of them stammered, "Resisting arrest? No, sir. We gave up. We're not resisting."
Brock, his face all businesslike had holstered his gun and was scribbling in a small notebook, "Son, who do you think the judge is going to believe, two car thieves or me, an officer of the law with over thirty years of service?"
"The poor bastards," Baxter whispered. "Look. One of them pissed his pants!"
Brock was really pouring it on, I thought. I was guessing that he wasn't really writing down the information from their IDs, but that it was all part of an act. They two young men began to walk toward our vehicle with Brock close behind them. He then shouted at us through the window, "Okay, you two prisoners. Out of the car!"
I whispered to the corporal, "I don't know what he's up to, but let's play along."
We moved to the front of the vehicle with our hands raised. I noticed that the two boys were as pale as sheets. They huddled together and seemed to be trying to keep their distance from Brock's prisoners.
"Lads, see the one in the fatigues?" he said to them. "He's the psycho pervert I was telling you about. He especially likes young men." The two young men were shaking like leaves. "...And when he's had his way with them he chops them to pieces with an axe! That's why on the force he as known as Baxter the Axe-ster."
It was all I could do to keep from laughing. Baxter on the other hand, took the bull by the horns and jumped in on Brock's game. "Aw, what pretty boys, officer. Can I at least see them naked?"
It was the other one's turn to wet his pants. "Officer, please. We'll do what you said." He tried to move even farther away and was close to tears, "Just keep him away from us. Please!"
His face still stern he snapped at the young man, "Stop your sniveling! Get in the car and get out of here! Both of you!" In an obvious move to avoid Baxter they didn't hesitate to crawl one after the other through the driver's side door into the damaged car that had been our transportation. Brock leaned into the car and grinned, "Remember, I have your names and addresses. I'll know where to find you if you let me down."
As they sped away I finally let loose the laughter I'd been suppressing. "Baxter the Axe-ster? Jesus, Brock, you scared the shit out of them."
"Say," the corporal asked, "what did you tell them about Mr. Bering?"
He chuckled, "You mean the ruthless mob hit man, Balls Arriva Derci?"
Moments later when we were on our way in the SUV Brock said, "We needed a change of vehicles anyway. If those kids follow my instructions, it'll be awhile before they find that car. We just might make it all the way into Boston before this one is reported stolen."
"What did you tell them do with the car, Brock?" I asked trying to mimic an Italian voice.
"I told them to take the back roads up to Hampton Beach and to leave it there somewhere. After that, I said they were free and that I would not turn in the report."
"Whew!" I whistled. "If you had them scared, wait until our 'friends' with the Hum-Vees and helicopters catch up to them!" I was quiet for a few minutes and growled at him, "Balls Arriva Derci? What kind of name is that anyway?"
"You haven't heard of him?" he said with a grin. "He's the hit man who cuts off his target's balls and wishes them arriva derci before finishing the job."
When we arrived in Cambridge, across the river from downtown Boston, Brock parked the SUV across the street from the Lechemere rapid transit station. We only had to wait five minutes before boarding a Green Line trolley which would take us the rest of the way into to a stop beneath Government Center.
Once seated in the trolley Baxter addressed us, "Mr. Bering, I know you have instructions for your mission in Government Center. I fear the security there will be quite extensive. I have no doubt that they have photos of both you and the Sergeant. They will be looking for you."
Brock nodded in agreement and said, "It's a safe bet those we left scattered on I-93 have radioed ahead that they failed to stop us. Like the corporal said, the security will be intensified. It isn't going to be easy to get anywhere near the dais." He shook his head and added with solemn words, "In fact, I think it's going to be damned near impossible!"
I looked at my two companions and replied, "I thought you were going to tell me that I have little chance of succeeding." I began to occupy myself with that nervous habit of interlacing my fingers and twirling my thumbs.
Baxter cleared his throat and said, "General Gates foresaw that the odds would be stacked against you. He and I agreed that you would need help."
"I was wondering about your part in this matter," I quipped. "I assume you are to be a backup in the event I fail?"
"In a manner of speaking, yes. However, I'm not so much of a backup as I am a diversion. My role will be to create a major disturbance elsewhere in the crowd." He took a deep breath and said, "I am expendable to insure that you succeed."
Brock scratched the top of his head. There was concern in his tone, "I don't like it, Baxter. Your diversion won't draw all of the security to your location."
"You are forgetting that I bear a striking resemblance to another player in this dangerous game we've been playing. They will be looking for anyone and everyone who has been involved in King's work," he lectured. "All of us are expendable!"
I patted his shoulder and said, "After that ride from New Hampshire, I figure we're all on borrowed time. I think that we should separate when we start mingling with the crowd."
Baxter stood up and shook our hands in turn. "I will get off at Haymarket Station. I'll enter the Government Center Plaza from the back of the crowd. That should draw a lot attention before you even exit the train station."
He moved to the nearest door as the the train pulled into Haymarket. Once the train doors slid shut behind the corporal Brock said, "How do we know he'll do what he said, Ben? What's stopping him from walking away from Government Center?"
I shook my head and said, "You picked one helluva time to question his motives, Brock."
He shrugged, "You're right. Just in case, I'm going to create a disturbance of my own. If he comes through on his end, then two diversions ought to increase your odds."
"Brock," I said with a nervous waver in my voice, "If I don't make it ..."
He elbowed me in the chest and snapped, "I'll have none of that. I don't want any part of a tearful goodbye!" He rose to his feet as the trolley began to slow down as it approached our stop. "Ben, we'll talk about this later ... Over a couple of cold ones!"
We distanced ourselves from each other when we stepped down from the trolley. In the sea of disembarking passengers I caught a glimpse of Brock stepping onto the escalator. I, on the other hand, allowed the tide of people to guide me to the stairs which ran parallel to the escalator.
When I reached street level I noticed that the crowd ahead of me was walking around and stepping over a man lying on the ground. I strained to get a better look at the unfortunate man. I couldn't help but chuckle when I saw that the man who was wearing an expensive dark suit was writhing in pain while curled up into a near fetal position. Good old Brock, I thought to myself. He must have recognized the man as one of the Feds and then must have hit him where it would hurt the most. Next to him was the man's radio, which just happened to be in the path of my foot.
I tried not to feel over confident, but that Fed would not be reporting that Brock or myself had been spotted. The mass of bodies around me began to spread out as we entered the open expanse of the plaza. I shouldn't have been, but initially I was stunned as I looked upon an ocean of what must been tens of thousands of people who had gathered to hear the President speak.
I paused for a moment when I saw a woman tending to a dark-suited man leaning against a lamp post. The man was rubbing his eyes which were tearing copiously. I heard him say that mace or pepper spray had been squirted into his face. I grinned thinking that Brock must have taken out another one of the Feds.
After a quick glance at my watch, I picked up my pace and began to work my way through the bodies toward the center of the plaza. I had only ten minutes to get myself into position.
I came to a halt when I felt the tickling sensation that meant Rosie was reaching out to me.
"Ben, the doctors are taking Susan out of ICU. They're rushing her to emergency. I don't know what's wrong. I'll let you know as soon as I know.""Thanks, Rosie. If all goes well, I should be finished here in about nine minutes or so. Pray for her for me."
"Stu and Michelle are here now and Michael is being tended to. He is alive and awake, but he is very weak."
Fearing the worst, I choked back the tears that had formed in the corners of my eyes. She needed me there at her side and I needed to be with her. Torn between my love for Susan and my mission, I felt ill-equipped to handle either. I was within a heartbeat of turning away from the plaza and rushing to Susan.
Suddenly, from the far end of the plaza I heard a loud pop. I turned in time to see a large white cloud of smoke rising above the scattering heads of the screaming people in the immediate area. Then in rapid succession there were two more muffled bursts which gave rise to red and blue clouds of smoke. I could see dozens of policeman and men in dark suits fighting their way through the throngs of people, rushing to the scene of the smoke bombs.
It was the diversion Corporal Baxter had promised us. The significance of the patriotic use of red, white and blue smoke bombs was not lost on me. I began to move again as time was growing short. One thing was certain, Baxter had succeeded in drawing some of the security force away from the center of the plaza. The odds in my favor had been increased.
Moments later after I had found the tower atop the Saltonstall Building, I aligned myself with the podium from where the President would soon be addressing the crowd. I placed my hand over the object in my pocket and recalled the sequence of the buttons I had to press per Rosie's earlier instructions.
After he had been introduced by Mayor of Boston, the President took up position behind the dais bearing the Great Seal of the United States. He waved and acknowledged the cheers from the crowd for several minutes. I grew tense, unable to relax as he began to speak.
As Rosie had predicted he paused in mid-sentence and a mask of confusion took over his facial features. I aimed the disabler-device in the direction of the
Commander-in-Chief and pressed the button on the right.
From somewhere close behind me there was a loud retort of a gun and in the same instance searing pain spread through my body. I had been shot in the lower left side of my back. I fell to my knees and struggled to retain consciousness. I looked up to see two Feds standing before me with their pistols drawn and trained on me.
I felt someone's hand on my shoulder. It was Brock. He held up his badge for the Feds to see. "Hold you're fire. I've got him under control," he shouted at them.
With all the strength I could muster I raised the device and pressed its left-hand button. A single shot rang out from the gun of one of the agents, a single shot that struck me in the chest.
I rolled onto my back and looked up at Brock O'Day. I was spitting up blood as I was trying to speak, "We pulled it off ... didn't we?" Brock's face was grim while he nodded in response to my words.
"Ben, it's Susan ... her heart stopped. They tried to save her. She wasn't strong enough ... Ben, she's gone. Ben? Ben!"I heard the agent who'd shot me shouting at Brock, "He was trying to assassinate the President. I did what I'm trained to do ... to protect the President!"
"Susan!" I cried just as everything went dark.
(To be continued in part 60 on Monday, 6/22, with the conclusion, In Memorium.)