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Protecting David-Alex's Story
--- Chapter 18 ---
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Protecting David-Alex’s Story 18

Tuesday, early morning.

Washington, D.C.

Mark

David, Mr. Tam and I spent most of late Monday night and early Tuesday morning formulating a plan. Now that we knew that Bonurato had ordered the kidnapping and we knew his whereabouts we at least had the basis for doing so.

We knew that David would be contacted soon giving him a time and place to drop off the money but we had no way of knowing if that would be negotiable. Of course we didn’t want to turn over the money until we knew that Alex was and would remain safe but we also knew that that might not be an option.

Mr. Tam’s men had begun to close a noose around Bonurato’s family, his actual family. No one wanted to use them as hostages but it might be necessary. Mr. Tam had also been having his people slowly and quietly taking Bonurato’s employees and associates out of the picture. Minor functionaries were being drugged and put out of commission in a variety of ways. The one that I thought was the most ingenious was food poisoning. One drop of a witch’s brew of bacteria onto the plate of food of a foot soldier could put him out of business for the couple of days that we needed and could do it without raising too much suspicion.

Bonurato had six lieutenants, one each for, the city of San Francisco, the east bay, the south bay, Reno/Tahoe, the northern part of the state and one for everything from Chico to Modesto in the valley. Each of them had four to eight primary musclemen and anywhere from an additional four to twenty thugs. The majority of them were in the bay area and that meant up to a hundred and fifty major players to be dealt with just in the immediate area.

On the other hand Mr. Tam’s warriors were a curious lot made up of teenage girls, little old ladies, buff recruits from all of the world’s armies and just about anything else you could imagine. Nobody is looking for trouble from a little white haired old lady using a walker and they combined with the teenage girls wearing low cut jeans and skimpy tops were the most effective at food poisoning but all were capable of killing without a seconds thought.

So far eighteen bad guys had bit the dust, three were dead from neurotoxins administered by a heat treated steel six inch razor sharp hair pin plunged into the back of the neck. Another six were in the hospital with food poisoning and the rest had either “tripped” and fallen or had been involved in automobile accidents. Now that Mr. Tam’s troops were getting into the swing of things Bonurato was loosing about a man an hour. But we still hadn’t been able to discern a pattern to the movements of his men and were coming to the conclusion that wherever Alex was being held his location was isolated from the rest of the organization and he probably was being guarded by the same people all the time.

My end of the plan was going to be a bit more complicated and that’s where Emma came in. I called her and told her that I needed to see her immediately and then called Jeff Collins and told him about the manpower that I needed. Jeff ran a sort of clearing house for SEALS and Special Forces people who, for one reason or another, weren’t in the military any longer but still enjoyed using their special talents.


-----------------------


She sat on a settee in her bedroom facing the huge arched windows that dominated one entire wall and looked out onto the vast back garden and beyond that the city that she and her husband had so loved. Her gray hair was combed back and her face was gaunt with just the barest touch of makeup. Her skin was drawn tight over her cheekbones. She was wearing a Chinese dressing gown of robin’s egg blue silk with various oriental landscapes so delicately embroidered in pale gold silk that they only became visible in the correct light.

Emma turned to look at me and while she seemed unspeakably frail her eyes were as sharp as flint. She held out her hand. I took it in mine kissed it and then gently kissed her on the cheek. I knew that Emma was tough, lately though she just seemed to be waiting for death, I was just hoping that she was even tougher than I thought.

She looked at me and simply said, “You didn’t sound good on the phone, Mark. Tell me what’s wrong.”

I knelt down in front of her so that our eyes would be on the same level. I’m sure that my voice was strained and that my eyes were moist my voice was soft.

“Alex has been kidnapped.”

There was the slightest gasp but her expression barely changed, she inhaled and was silent for a moment and then softly said, “What would you like me to do?”

I explained that we were prepared to pay the ransom but we also wanted to insure Alex’s safe return and that the man who had ordered the crime was on a yacht off the coast of California. I didn’t have to explain that most kidnap victims were found dead.

“Emma, I need a Navy ship to officially stop that yacht and put me and my men on board her then wait until we signal them and before they sail away. They don’t have to do anything but look official. Me and my men will be in Navy uniforms so the ships crew doesn’t even have to know that we’re not Navy personnel.”

She started to ask, “What are you……………..? No, I don’t need to know that.” She turned her head and looked at the large clock on the far wall and then picked up the telephone.

“Robert, I want you to get me Charlie Evans, he’ll probably be in his car.” Emma had everyone’s phone number even the Secretary of Defense. “Thank God the man’s a politician or we wouldn’t stand a chance.” She smiled grimly. “At least not with him.”

There aren’t many people who can pick up a phone and call the Secretary of Defense but I heard her do the same thing with the President and a lot of other people on down. In politics the important thing, some would say the only important thing, is to get reelected and as far as that goes I believe that it’s true but more fundamentally the more important thing is to get power and hang onto it which of course is what happens when you do get reelected. The thing is that Emma always had power because she had the power of money and that’s something that solves many of a politicians problems.

Emma’s, family fortune was founded in the late 1700’s by an ancestor who believed that land was never to be sold and that if you controlled the flow of money a lot of it was gonna rub off and linger. Along with her nephews, nieces, and various in-laws she controlled the country’s second largest bank and third largest insurance company. The real estate she owned in New York City alone would have made Donald Trump gasp.


“ Emma! How are you?”

“Charlie! I’m just fine thank you. It’s kind of you to take the time to speak to a lonely old lady.”

The Secretary laughed. “Somehow, Emma, that makes you sound more forlorn than I could ever imagine you being.”

Emma spoke with a smile and lilt in her voice that I knew she didn’t feel. “Well, Charlie, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way I need you to do me a favor. A minor thing really.”

Evans laughed. “Emma, darlin you have never asked for a minor thing in your entire life! Who I gotta kill?”

“My Lord, nothing like that, Charlie! I just need to borrow a small Navy ship for a few hours. I’d appreciate it if you could send me one of those admirals that you seem to have so many of and I’ll fill him in on the details.”

There was a stunned silence. “Emma, you’ve gotta be kidding! Surely you know I can’t………..what the hell you want it for anyway?”

“Well, Charlie, you know that I’m not gonna hurt it and those boats are doing nothing but sailing round and round anyway.”

“Emma both the President and the Congress’d have my ass.”

Emma’s voice changed and became very business like. “Charlie, first of all I can handle the congress and you know that that’s true. Secondly you and I both know that in the President’s benchmark speech at Annapolis he swore that he was gonna push through another carrier group and we also both know that you don’t have the votes, even in your own party, to do it. Charlie, we also both know that I can give you those votes. I want a small Navy ship to take eight men and put them onboard a private yacht that’s off the coast of California. They don’t have to do anything to anyone and there’s not a reason in the world that it even needs to be recorded. And in exchange for that you get your carrier group and your boss gets to keep his promise.”

There was a long silence and then the Secretary said, “What if this gets out?”

“Charlie, I’m taking much greater secrets than this to my grave, some you know about, many you don’t. No one will hear it from me and I know that the Navy can keep a secret.”

She sighed, reluctant to discuss her private affairs but knowing that it was inevitable. “Charlie, the man that owns that yacht ordered the kidnapping of someone very close to me and I promise you that this will get done. The only remaining question is will it be done with your help and will you get your carrier group?”

The Secretary said, “I need cover.”

Emma’s voice was soft, calming. “The father of the boy who’s been kidnapped represents several important suppliers to the Department of Defense. He’s filled to the brim with top secret information and while it hasn’t happened yet what if the kidnappers demanded information about advanced weapon systems, information that could be sold.”

“Is that all true?”

“Yes.”

“Why not call the FBI?”

“We’d like him back alive and the man on that yacht is well connected.”

“So this could be a national security issue.” It was half question and half statement.

“Certainly, Charlie and it isn’t unreasonable to use a small ship that’s in the area anyway to perhaps neutralize a potential threat. And it isn’t like you’re being asked to do this by someone unknown to the congress, the FBI and the CIA. They all know me, Charlie. No one in the congress is going to give you a hard time about this even if they found out and no one will find out from me. Can you rely on the Navy to remain silent?”

“How big a ship?”

“Smallest one you’ve got.”

“There’s some small coastal boats out there. That be big enough? The crew is maybe thirty guys, easier to keep thirty guys quiet than the crew of a damn destroyer.”

“Charlie, you could even say that I had given you a tip that the yacht was transporting terrorists. Hell, if ya get into a corner tell em anything you’ve got to. I’ll back you up you’ve got my word.”

“Emma, I gotta tell the boss’ chief of staff, it’s too likely that the Navy will let it slip, maybe on purpose and if he hears that way the shit’ll hit the fan big time.”

“That’s not the problem you think. Just be sure that you tell him that it’s for me and don’t tell him until ten o’clock this morning.”

“Why then?”

“My bank will be announcing a proposed acquisition that will please him.”

He laughed. “So his brother in law is finally gonna unload that bank?”

“He will if I get my ship, Charlie.”

Thirty minutes later Admiral Harold Carver was introducing himself and his aide Captain Milo Harman. Admiral Carver told me that Captain Harman would be going with me to California and running interference with the local powers at Naval station in San Diego. He explained that the Navy had a couple of coastal patrol boats that were about 170 feet long with a crew of twenty-five.

“These are scheduled to be turned over to the Coast Guard for the Homeland Security Department but they needed an overhaul and they’re on shakedown cruises now which is perfect for you because that consists mainly of cruising the coastline.”

We were standing at the far corner of Emma’s huge bedroom while the Admiral talked quietly with Emma, no doubt with dreams of promotion dancing in his head.

“Captain, I still don’t know what time I’m going to need to be aboard that yacht so I’m hoping the crew will be a little flexible about their schedule.”

He laughed. “The CNO was calling the ship’s captain as we were leaving. I think he’ll do pretty much anything you want. There’s also a C20 sitting at Andrews waiting for us. You got your guys ready?”

“Yeah but we’re taking a Falcon 900 out of Dulles.”

“You sure? The C20 is free.” I was thinking about what we’d be transporting and about the records being kept.

“Yeah, at this point the money isn’t an issue.”

Just then my cell phone started vibrating and I stepped out of the room to take the call.

“Jeff?”

“Mark, I got your SEAL’s for ya. Three are here in D.C. but four are already in the San Diego area.”

I sighed. “Thank God! Jeff, I need em at Dulles at noon and Jeff I need enough semtex to sink a good size yacht. We’ll be using a private plane so if you’ve got semtex in your stock here that’d be handy. We can carry it with us.”

“Not a problem. How big a bang you want?”

“Just enough to sink her. The quieter the better…….oh and we’ll need timers too.”

“No problem there either. I’ll have em with me at Dulles as long as we’re not flying commercial.”

“You’re coming yourself?”

“Yeah, no charge, I wanna be in on this. I hate it when people fuck with my friends.”


Tuesday morning

Palo Alto, California

David

I spent the night, or rather what was left of it, in the condo across the street from Alex’s. It was full of Mr. Tam’s people but his granddaughter gave me an Ambien so I was finally able to get a few hours sleep.

This would have been so much easier to live through if instead of hearing Mark on the telephone I could have him in my arms. I needed to look into his eyes and know what he was thinking. I needed him to love me. Not that I doubted his love I knew that was forever but it was easier to believe with his arms around me. Then there was the whole matter of the killings that I had endorsed, endorsed hell, I had ordered them. I knew going into this that there would be deaths and I was praying that Alex wouldn’t be one of them. I thought back to the beating that I got in high school and how I had eventually forgiven the man that did it. I knew that this was different and I was determined not to allow my family to be victims. I shuddered at my own feelings. If Alex died so would they all.

At eight o’clock the next morning I walked across the street to Alex’s condo and had a cup of coffee with Bob and Jack, Larry was in the shower.

I took a sip of my coffee while I looked around the condo and then at them. “There’s no way that the boys are gonna want to stay here is there?”

Bob sighed and said, “I can’t imagine it. How could they ever walk to class again and not relive the whole thing? It’d make me crazy. Actually it’d make me crazy just knowing that they were here doing it.”

Jack had been staring at the floor his coffee mug held to his chest. He didn’t look up but simply said, “He’s right. And I’d be damned uncomfortable knowing that they were here.”

I said. “Alex, if I read him right, will go wherever Larry wants to be. Do you guys think he’d want to go back to the Denver area?”

Bob said. “We can ask but I think that he would.” He smiled. “I’ve got a client with a gorgeous house on forty acres only a few miles from Becky and me and only ten miles from Jack. The guy really needs to sell and the market has softened, you could probably get a deal on it and Larry is in love with the place, at least what he’s seen of it. We used to drive by the place all the time. The house is very contemporary with hard angles and balconies hanging out over space.”

“Have you seen the inside?”

“Breathtaking! But were talking some major money.”

“If you’re sure that Larry would like it make them an offer. Call Joan at my office and tell her how much you need. I’ll email her and let her know that you’ll be in touch with her. I really do like the idea of them being near to either Mark and me or you guys.

Jack put his hand to his eyes and Bob said, “But what………..?”

I interrupted him. “We’ll find Alex alive!”

The DVD was delivered by USPS special delivery around nine o’clock. It was addressed to me in care of Alex at the condo’s address.

Larry came running out of his room as soon as Alex’s voice was heard. He dropped down onto the sofa and stared in stunned silence at the television as Alex, wearing shackles and in a cage of some sort, said that he hadn’t been hurt “yet” and read off instructions that gave us the time and place were we were suppose to leave the money. Obviously no one intended to allow negotiation. Alex looked to me like he had been pushed mentally about as far as he could go. I just hoped that he didn’t do anything stupid.

Larry face was contorted with frustration but he didn’t cry and he didn’t explode but his body was shaking and he just seemed to collapse leaning over sideways until Bob was holding him.


Tuesday morning

West of Modesto, California

Alex

I didn’t sleep very well, like maybe an hour or two near morning. Some time during the night I heard cars leaving and then the house was pretty quiet. Arnie was still apparently here but the television set went off eventually and then there was silence.

I woke up with a start the next morning and I thought for a moment that I had heard a loud noise but when I listened there was only silence. Then I looked at the door of the cage, it was open. I drew in a sharp breath and looked around the room just moving my eyes there was no one there, there was no sound. I got up slowly trying very hard not to make any sound and edged carefully towards the doorway. The shackles attached to my ankles made a scratching metallic sound against the concrete of the floor. The chains attached to my wrists would only allow me to go four feet and I stood there in frustration looking at the open door. I walked to the wall of the cage and looked closely at the connection of the chains to the frame of the cage, they were welded. I didn’t have anything that could conceivably be used as a tool or for that matter a weapon. The chain wasn’t all that thick but it was thick enough. I pulled on it. That was useless. I reached up and grabbed an overhead beam and hit the weld with my heel. Nothing. Except………..

“Stop that! Stop that!” Arnie ran around the cage to the side and yelled at me. “You fucking faggot you’re gonna get me in trouble!”

I was still hanging onto the beam. “You left the door open. I thought maybe everyone had gone.” Looking into his eyes I knew that what the other guy had said was true. This guy was nuts. I dropped my hands. If I could only get this guy and put him out of commission, somehow I’d break these chains and get outta here.

“Get back in your bed! You’re making me very angry!” I wondered if I could make him so angry that he’d come into the cage.

“Fuck you, Arnie! I’m breaking these chains!” I grabbed the overhead beam and started kicking with a vengeance at the piece of chain that was welded to the side beam.

Arnie was going into orbit now. “Stop that! You’re not supposed to do that! Stop!”

I just screamed back at him. “I’m fucking breaking this, Arnie! I’ve had enough of this shit and I’m leaving!” Well that was overly optimistic.

Arnie took off running up the stairs. I figured he was gonna call his bosses but I really didn’t give a shit. I was a dead man if I didn’t do anything so if the most that they could do was kill me it didn’t seem to make much difference. I kinda felt dead already.

I heard him running back downstairs and glanced towards him over my shoulder. He was carrying a black thing but it didn’t look like a gun. And then it all just happened in slow motion. I saw these silvery things with the wires looping out behind them and realized too late what it was. Taser.

I couldn’t remember anything and I didn’t seem to be able to move my arms or legs and then felt the strain on my arms. I looked at my arms and followed them up. The chain went up at a sharp angle to the wall of the cage and my arms ached and tingled at the same time. I was lying on the floor on my stomach and my arms were stretched out. I tried to move my legs but that just didn’t seem to happen. But strangely nothing seemed to hurt. But then it hurt a lot.

The blow knocked my head down through my arms and my face hit the concrete floor. The blood just seemed to erupt I felt dazed but conscious and I could feel more blood running down the back of my neck and the sides of my face. Looking down I seemed to be lying in a pool of it.

Then he began rhythmically beating me with something. The first shot caused incredible pain more pain than I had ever imagined and then the hits just kept coming………..but I left. In my mind I walked into Larry’s arms and while he held me tightly he whispered that loved me and that everything would be okay.


Late Tuesday evening

San Diego, California

Mark

We were in my room at the Hyatt hotel in San Diego. Captain Harman unrolled a chart on the table and pointed with his pen. “The bad guys yacht is here, roughly twenty-five miles west of Carmel.” He moved his pen. “Our ship is here, about a hundred miles north of Santa Barbara. I thought of having her just move on to Monterey and having you board her there but that isn’t normally one her stops and it’s the kind of ship that people would remember.”

He stood up and looked me over. “Don’t take this wrong because you look like you’re in fantastic shape but can you go down a rope onto the deck.” He held out his hands in a calming motion. “I know, I know, you were a Ranger but that was a while ago. If you can still do it that would be the cleanest way for a lot of reason all of them having to do with keeping this whole thing quiet.”

I must have been giving him a dirty look because he said, “Don’t look at me that way. I couldn’t do it myself. Hey the heaviest thing that I lift these days is my dick.” He laughed. “Ahhhh, forget that I said that will ya? It’s just being away from D.C., I get so tired of all that polite conversation.” He sighed. “The thing is that if you’re not sure that you can do it twenty miles from land is a lousy place to find out that you were wrong.”

I took a sip of my drink and said, “I can do it.” I smiled. “Really! I can do it. I wouldn’t put all this at risk if there were the slightest doubt in my mind.”

Captain Harman sat down and said, “As it stands now the Navy is gonna stop this boat and put you guys aboard. Then they wait until you fire a flare and they take off. Right so far?”

I nodded. “Yep, you’re dead on.”

“I don’t wanna pry and I sure as hell don’t wanna know more than I need to but I’m assuming that you’ve got getting back covered. I mean you haven’t said and I don’t really care how you do it I just wanna make sure that you’re covered.”

“It’s covered.” Milo was nice guy and someone that I really thought that I could have a good conversation with but what he didn’t know he couldn’t report or testify to.

Milo got up and grabbed the garment bag that he had brought with him and pulled down the zipper. “Here’s your uniform. The nametag says, Captain John Cannon.” He smiled. “You actually outrank the skipper of the ship, except of course when you’re on the ship.”

“So we need to fly to Monterey in the morning now that we know that you have to be on the yacht by 12:30. Mark, is your plane still available or do you want us to fly you and the guys to Monterey?”

“It’s ours for as long as needed.”

“Good, then let’s figure that we’ll leave tomorrow around nine just to give us plenty of time. In Monterey you guys will board a helicopter that will take you to the ship. You’re sure you don’t want them to hang around in the area after they split? They could just drop back a few miles.”

“No, Milo, it’s best that they move away at full speed.”

He downed his drink and then smiled grimly at me. “Right.”

I lay down on the bed and punched a preset on my cell phone. When David answered I simply said, “I love you.”

I could hear his voice choking up as he said, “Me too you.” He sighed heavily. “How the fuck are we all gonna survive this?”

“We will, David, we all will, including, Alex.”

“What if he’s already dead? I dunno what I’d do.”

“Baby, it’s gonna be okay.”

“I hope so. I hope that you’re right. I gotta believe that you are cause I couldn’t go on otherwise. I don’t wanna find out what I do if he’s dead.”

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