8:00 AM Wednesday morning
Palo Alto, California
This was the day. At eight o’clock
Mr. Tam and I had a light breakfast together.
Mr. Tam said, “Money at airport. My men load into van,
many men guard it.” As usual he was all business and
I nodded. “With the drop at 1:00
in Sausalito they should head out by 11:00 the traffic in
the city could be bad or they
could even have an accident.”
“Have other van follow. Everything be okay. Men who
pick up money will be most trusted of enemy troops. When Alex
safe they should die. Save many troubles later.” He sipped
I nodded. “You’re right and if Alex isn’t
found they should be followed and then tortured. They may know
where he is.”
He nodded vigorously. “Have men
very good at that. Do many times, they get truth.”
Mr. Tam leaned back in his chair and
looked at me. “When
this over I give quote on security. Very good….not so
cheap…but very good. Alex, Mark, they not see my people.
Other security too easy see. Very bad. You buy house Co lo
ra do?” He laughed. “Speak English many years,
that hard to say name.”
I smiled and nodded. “The boys wouldn’t want to
stay here……….too many bad memories. I made
an offer but I don’t know if it has been accepted yet
or not. The house is in the mountains, well, in a canyon in
Mr. Tam sat forward. “Have mother and daughter used
to work for me. Live in Denver now. Retire. Mother very very
good cook, daughter clean. Very professional make good cook
and scrub girl make boys very safe. Don’t tell boys real
I held out my hand and Mr. Tam shook
a good idea. If we get the house I’ll take them.” We
left unspoken the other possibility.
We reviewed all that had been done and
all that was planned as a contingency if we turned over the
money and Alex didn’t
show up. About ten o’clock we walked over to Alex’s
condo. The misty early morning was clearing and turning into
a sunny day. When I looked at my watch I knew that Mark would
soon be boarding the helicopter with his men to go to the ship.
In the condo Larry was pacing the length of the living room
with his hands thrust deep into his pockets. The muscles in
his face were pulled taut, he glanced at me, nodded and kept
pacing. Bob was in the kitchen leaning against the counter
watching his brother in law pacing.
Samantha was at the front door and Ellen at the patio door.
I sat Mr. Tam in the breakfast nook next to the kitchen and
went and stood by Bob.
I spoke quietly, “How is Larry?”
Bob shook his head slowly. “Ready to explode. I feel
useless, why the fuck can’t I do something for him? We
keep telling Becky that he’s doing good. She’d
be on a plane otherwise. This has gotta end.”
“It will Bob. Did you hear on the
He gave me a look that clearly said that
he was wondering if I wanted to commit to this. He started
to say something
and I interrupted him. “David are…………..?”
“Did you ask Larry about moving
He sighed heavily. “Yeah. With Alex next him the answer
is as fast as possible otherwise I think he’s planning
on tracking down……..some folks.”
“Bob, get on the phone and buy
the fucking property!”
The doorbell rang and in a moment Samantha
came in and said, “Sir
there’s a Mr. Guarino to see you.”
The man standing before me was relatively young and dressed
in conservative business clothing his hand extended.
“Mr. Kerry, my name is Edward Guarino. You may have
heard of my father Robert.” I shook his hand wondering
what the son of the top mobster in California wanted, well
it could only be one thing.
He glanced around the room. “Could
we speak privately?”
I looked at Mr. Tam and Samantha and
then said, “We
can go in the office.”
When we were alone I offered him a seat but he declined.
“My father sent me to apologize to you personally for
the problems that you’ve been having with Mr. Bonurato.
He asked me to particularly emphasize that he in no way condones
Mr. Bonurato’s behavior and he would appreciate it if
you would tell Mr. Salvatore Armento that we have been of some
service. In that regard I came into possession of this information
very early this morning and while I haven’t yet been
able to confirm its accuracy it is very unlikely that we would
have been mislead.”
He handed me a piece of paper with an
address on it. “I’m
told that your son is there.” And with that he turned
and walked out.
I looked at the address my hand shaking and rushed into the
“Mr. Tam, this is supposed to be where they’re
holding Alex.” I handed him the paper. Samantha was already
on her cell phone.
I turned excitedly to Larry, Bob and
Jack. “Look, why
don’t you guys stay here just in case this isn’t
legit. I’ll call you as soon as I know.” I grabbed
my satellite phone and laptop.
Larry grabbed my arm and said, “No fucking way! I’m
goin with and your options are having one of those goons kill
me or taking me.”
I glanced at Jack who threw up his hands.
I turned back to Larry and pointed my finger at his face. “Okay but you
do what I say!” I really didn’t think for a moment
that I’d have much control over him but had no choice.
Outside we got into two Chevy Suburbans
that had screeched to a halt in front of the condo and took
off for the airport.
Since the locations was some way away we’d be using helicopters
but we still had to get to the airport and then fly sixty miles.
Mr. Tam was on his phone talking in rapid fire Chinese.
He turned to me. “I have man in
that area. He drive by location and then talk us down.”
At the airport there was a pair of Sikorsky S-76 helicopters
waiting for us. Eight burly fighters including a pair of huge
Australian twins got into one and Mr. Tam, Larry, Samantha
and myself got into the other. We rose slowly and then took
off over the bay flying low for several minutes and then rising
quickly to get over the hills.
I watched Larry as we took off, he was
a man on the edge and I was beginning to wonder whether or
not this was a good thing.
His legs were jiggling up and down while his face registered
a wide range of emotions. Finally he looked at me and shuddered. “What
if he’s dead? What will I do?” They weren’t
really questions but I answered anyway. We were practically
screaming to be heard over the sound of the engines.
“He’s not dead, Larry!”
“You don’t know that.” He stared out the
window while tears ran down his face. In a way I knew how he
felt, I knew how I’d feel if it were Mark we were talking
about but in a slightly different way it was even worse that
it was Alex.
We traveled almost due east crossing over the heavily populated
hills in the east bay and then on to the grass-covered hills
beyond and then to the flat ranch and farmland. Thirty minutes
later we were hovering at two thousand feet and Mr. Tam was
watching a farmhouse with binoculars and speaking in Chinese.
The helicopter with the fighters on it
was the first to land with the men rapidly spreading out
with guns drawn and then
entering the house and seconds later we started to descend.
Mr. Tam looked at me and said, “Only one man. He has
been restrained.” He listened for a moment and then said, “Alex
injured but alive.”
Seconds later and we were on the ground and Larry was running
towards the farmhouse with us following a bit slower. He disappeared
into the house and moments later I heard him cry out.
When we got there he was scuffling with
the two huge Australians to get near Alex who was being placed
on a stretcher his clothing
soaked in blood. Mr. Tam’s medical people were going
over Alex whose eyes opened for a moment and then closed.
There was a noise from the corner of the basement where two
men seemed to be interrogating a heavy set man who was lying
on the floor holding up his arms in defense. Since two thirds
of all the conversations were taking place in Chinese I pulled
Mr. Tam back and asked him what happened.
“Man in corner beat Alex. My granddaughter
thinks concussion. Take him to hospital quick.”
I looked up and saw Larry tear his shirt
off the buttons flying. I started to tell him that they had
bandages but then he tore
the shirt in two and wrapped half of it around his right hand.
I really didn’t get it and there was so much happening
so I turned my attention to Alex who seemed to be trying to
speak. I squeezed his hand and told him that we were taking
him to the hospital and than everything would be fine but his
eyes closed again. The basement was packed with people trying
to help and many of them were talking in Chinese, it was chaos.
When I turned back to Larry he was kneeling
over the guy in the corner the muscles in his back glistening
with sweat and
knotted in effort as he jack hammered his fist down into the
guys face. I stood there shocked, I had never seen such a raw
display of retribution and in moments it was like his fist
was landing in a mud puddle as a fine spray of blood exploded
out each time it made contact. I signaled to Mr. Tam who called
out to the two Australians who had been standing there watching
Larry. You could see by their faces that not only weren’t
they upset by what Larry was doing they approved. I did too
actually but I needed him out of there.
The Australians bend down and with surprising tenderness and
strength lifted Larry bodily off of his feet his right fist
still punching the air his face contorted in rage and dragged
him gently off to the helicopter. I looked at the man in the
corner and tapped Mr. Tam on the shoulder and pointed.
He nodded and spoke quickly in Chinese.
A small oriental man bent down and broke the man’s
Mr. Tam, Larry, Samantha, Mr. Tam’s granddaughter, the
Australian twins and myself were in the helicopter bound for
the trauma center in Sacramento. Larry knelt next to Alex for
the entire flight crying and whispering to him as he stroked
his forehead although with all the noise in the copter I doubt
that Alex could hear a word although that may not have been
the point. The twins steadied Larry every time the copter jolted
and they were both looking very protective of him. Alex seemed
to be moving in an out of consciousness. Amazingly, aside from
what had apparently been a bloody nose Alex’s face was
Looking at my watch it was almost noon.
Wednesday, 1120 hours
Off the coast of California
Damn I hate the fucking ocean! The ship
was only moving at a few knots but there was still a slight
spray of saltwater
in the air and the fucking deck never seems to be where you’d
think it was supposed to be. With the helicopter blades thwump
thwump thwumping above us the men went down the ropes likes
drops of water down a string. My descent was probably a bit
less elegant but then I’m nearly twice their average
ages. Jeff Collins smiled at me once we were down and said, “Not
bad for an oldster!” I just smiled and shook my head
at him. As the helicopter departed we were waved towards a
bulkhead hatch where a Lieutenant Commander was standing, he
held out his hand to me.
“Captain Cannon, I’m Jim Waldon, we’ve been
expecting you.” He motioned with his left arm indicating
that he wanted us to follow him. “I decided that probably
the best place for you was the bridge. Fewer people wandering
around up there.”
Once on the bridge my men clustered in
a group sitting on their packs. Captain Waldon and I talked
quietly on the other
side of the bridge. He looked at his watch. “About 1130
hours so there’s a bit of time to kill. We’re about
an hour from the target so I thought we’d head in that
direction. There anything I need to know before we get there?”
I pushed my hat back on my head and looked
at him. “Captain,” I
paused to consider what I was about to say. “Captain,
when we get on the yacht and see that everything is……..manageable,
I’ll fire off a flare. For the sake of your career, for
the sake of the Navy and for my sake the very best thing that
you can do when you see that flare is to take off for San Diego.
Don’t look back either actually or with radar and don’t
let your crew do it either.”
He had hard blue eyes and he was staring
at me hard. “The
CNO didn’t tell me that.”
“I don’t suppose that he did but take the advice
from someone who’s pretty familiar with the way this
stuff works and do as I’ve said. They told me that you
would do as I asked and so if that helps tell em I ordered
it. You and I both know that that’s not worth shit but
use it if you need to.”
He smiled at me grimly and said, “I’ll consider
what you’ve said.”
Thirty minutes later my satellite phone was goin off and I
headed back outside to take it.
“Mark, we’ve got him!” David
“How, when, the drop wasn’t until one o’clock?”
“It’s a long story but like Emi said we got some
help from an unexpected source.” His voice dropped. “They
beat him pretty bad though. He’s with the doctors now
but it looks like a concussion and they beat him with something
on his back.” My stomach muscles tightened and I could
hear David voice crack when he said that and I knew what he
was remembering. I hated hearing David that way and I hated
what they did to Alex and changed my mind slightly about how
they were going to pay.
“David, tell Mr. Tam to have our boat standing by we’ll
be done here sooner than I thought. I wanna come to the hospital
when I’m done here. I’m not gonna be able to relax
until I’ve seen Alex. And David, call Emma, I know that
she’s gotta be goin nuts.”
“Okay, Mark, I’ll have him move the boat closer
and I’ll give Emma a call. The copter pilot already knows
to bring you here.” Mr. Tam’s men had commandeered
a fast and much smaller yacht than our target to return us
to shore quickly.
I called Jeff Collins out onto the deck where we could speak
“Jeff, when we board her I want your guys to destroy
every communications device and do it quickly. I don’t
want anyone making phone calls while were on the boat or later
for that matter.” He was nodding his head yes.
“Lock the crew in one stateroom and everyone else but
Bonurato in another one. It’s likely that the crew is
just hired help and we’ll take them back with us. Once
everyone is locked in a stateroom plant your charges. As soon
as the Navy sails away I’ll call in our boat.”
“What about Bonurato?”
“I’ll take care of him.” Jeff
In a few minutes the Lucky Angelina II
could be seen in the distance. I went in and talked to the
Captain. “Can you
block transmissions from the yacht.”
He smiled. “You’re not supposed
to know that.”
I smiled back. “Let’s test the system.” He
made a call.
The Lucky Angelina II, the Lucky Angelina
the first was a racehorse, was a gorgeous white yacht that
stood three decks
high above the water line and looked unimpressed as we rushed
towards her in the ship’s boat. The crew in bright white
uniforms lined the port rail staring at us along with six men
who were obviously passengers.
I leaned towards Jeff. “We won’t need the cocaine
but we don’t want to loose it either. It must have cost
a fortune.” We had originally intended to plant twenty
kilos of cocaine on the boat and then “find” it.
That wasn’t necessary now because I didn’t need
the leverage, Alex was already safe.
Jeff got on a bullhorn and told the crew
to assemble on the bridge and all passengers to assemble
in the main salon. The
crew responded immediately while the passengers seemed to go
into total panic and it wasn’t until a few minutes later
that I realized that they were frantically trying to toss drugs
over the side. We could have saved ourselves the trouble of
bringing our own.
It took about thirty seconds before Bonurato was in our faces
demanding to know what was going on.
Jeff turned to me and jerked his thumb
direction, which was only five feet away. “He wants to
know what’s going on.”
I acted like Bonurato wasn’t there and spoke to Jeff. “Escort
him to his stateroom. I’ll speak with him later.” He
was very unhappy.
We were inside now and couldn’t
be seen from the ship. Jeff pulled his Beretta 92 from its
holster and escorted a
swearing Bonurato down a flight of stairs.
As soon as he was gone I walked out onto
the deck and fired a flare. The captain must have practically
had one foot on
the gas and one on the brake because the ship took off immediately,
or as immediately as a 170’ vessel can. I smiled to myself
and hoped that he followed my advice.
I walked onto the bridge and checked
the radar, no sign of our boat yet but then there wouldn’t
be. In a few minutes the men started bringing up cell phones,
satellite phones and
radios and dumping them over the side and then marching the
crew down to one of the middle staterooms, the passengers,
with the exception of Bonurato were confined to the forward
Jeff came up and stood next to me on
the deserted bridge we watched the U.S. Navy moving quickly
to the horizon. Jeff looked
me up and down and said, “You look like a real fucking
I laughed. “Yeah, I’m not but I play one on TV.” I
looked around. “Pity to sink this thing, she’s
He laughed grimly. “Paid for with drug money.” He
shook his head slowly. “These people are a fucking waste
of space. I told Bonurato we had a tip that there were large
quantities of drugs aboard. He looked nervous. I bet if we
tore the fuckin boat apart they’d be here.”
I glanced down at the radar and saw the
blip I was interested in and at the same time my satellite
phone came alive and Mr.
Tam’s man confirmed they were approaching us at speed.
I looked at Jeff. “Can you lock
that front stateroom?”
“Not that will last.”
“I guess it doesn’t matter. Well, I guess I’ll
go speak to Mr. Bonurato.”
Jeff smiled. “Want help?”
I shook my head. “Nope. This is gonna be an intimate
moment.” I tried to stop thinking of Alex being beaten.
This’d been better if David hadn’t told me that,
it creates too much rage. Rage makes for errors.
I walked the entire ship and noted that
all the men were in place and everything under control. One
of the men is in front
of Bonurato’s door and I wave him away.
I open the door and step into his stateroom
and as soon as he sees me and the officer’s bars that I’m wearing
he’s in my face yelling. “What the fuck do you
I smiled. “I just came to kill you.” My fist flies
out and I feel his trachea shattering. It’s something
that I’ve practiced thousands of times and used in real
life three times, always during war. The blow staggers him
back against the bulkhead and his hands grip his throat and
his mouth. He bounces off the wall and doesn’t fully
understand that he can no longer breathe. Still holding his
throat with his right hand he reaches for me with his left
but I kick him in the nuts as hard as I can and he drops to
the deck. Originally I had planned to break his neck at this
point but the image of Alex being beaten is still throbbing
in my brain and I decide that kindness isn’t warranted.
He’s trying to vomit now but all that’s coming
out is foamy blood. His heaving body has been without oxygen
for a minute and he’s going down. His bowels and bladder
are letting loose. It’s horrible but I’ve smelled
I walk around him and pull a plastic
trash bag out of my back pocket. David said that he wanted
all of Bonurato’s personal
papers and I go through his desk, look under drawers and empty
the small file next to it and fill the bag.
I look at him one last time. He isn’t quite dead yet
but even if I was a doctor I couldn’t save him now.
Out on the deck Jeff comes up to me. “How’s
“Resting.” I look around. “Be sure an tell
your guys to be careful of finger prints on the boat that’s
picking us up. At some point the cops’ll be all over
He laughs. “Yes, Mom. Geez, ya think I’m
new to this?”
“Any chance they could bring up
“Mark, we got 8000 feet of water under us. For a bunch
of mobsters they won’t even consider it.”
“Can you fix the steering so that they can’t
use it? I want this boat pointed west moving at full speed
the timers on the charges set for two hours. Can you do that?”
“Hey, no problem.”
“Can they fix it?”
He gave me a disgusted look and laughed. “Them? No fucking
way! Besides, I’ll tell em we’re sending em to
Hawaii and to just relax.”
5:00 PM Wednesday afternoon
It’s was weird, one moment I was in hell and the next
moment everything was okay. Well I wasn’t totally okay
I had this whole crying thing happening. Not all the time but
basically I could go from happy and laughing to tears in about
ten seconds. And my back was still healing, fortunately it
was mostly bruising because that twerp Arnie was probably to
fucking lazy to………….well, I really
had to stop thinking about that there was lots that I didn’t
All of that had David and Mark goin a little crazy and David
had already lined up a therapist for me once we got to Denver.
I felt totally safe especially with my dads and Larry.
Larry was like my Rottweiler. He was
always there and looked at anyone coming into the room like
they were a threat. I loved
it and actually it turned me on but the doctors were about
at the end of their rope. The hospital and staff had cut him
a lot of slack to begin with but the whole, “What the
fuck do you want” attitude was not a hit with the staff.
He came over and knelt by the side of
my bed and rested his chin on the mattress. He’s so fucking handsome he takes
my breath away and while a couple of days ago I was wondering
if I’d ever even think of sex again I’ve had a
hardon for the last hour just watching him.
I reached out and touched his hair and
then slowly ran my fingers through it. The problem with that
was that I started
crying again and his face got this agonized look that tore
my heart out. I managed to croak out, “I’m really
sorry. I dunno what the fucks the matter with me.” He
wipes my eyes and kisses me. Shit, I’m so fucking pathetic.
“Alex, they said that this’d happen try not to
feel so bad about it. I don’t give a fuck if you cry.
Besides you’re doing it less than you were a couple of
hours ago and by tomorrow I’m betting that you’ll
hardly do it at all.”
“I know. It’s just frustrating. I mean I know
that I’m safe and everything.” And just as fast
as it came the crying was gone.
“Larry,” I laughed because this all of a sudden
seemed really pervy, “feel my cock.”
He giggled. “Alex that is so……………..I
was gonna say sick but it’s actually kinda hot.” He
looks around and then goes over and closes the door. He comes
back and slips his hand under the blankets. I gasp when I feel
his hand on my cock.
“Holy fuck you’re hard!” We hear someone
just outside the door in the hallway and he quickly pulls his
hand away. “We should probably save that for later.”
Larry leans over the bed and kisses me
shoving his tongue into my mouth. He sighs. “I really need to make love
to you!” We both laugh and he looks into my eyes. “You
sure that you’re okay with moving to Colorado? I mean
you weren’t around to ask and your dad and I just wanted
to do what we thought was best.”
“Yeah, I’m sure. There’s just no way that
I could go back to Palo Alto. I can’t see myself walking
around that……………………” Fucking
tears. Geez I gotta get a fucking grip.
He strokes my hair. “It’s
okay, Alex. You can do that with me.”
I sigh. “How long will it take?
Are we gonna have to go pack?”
He laughs. “Have you met David? He’s already got
people packing the place up. They’re loading everything
now.” He looked at his watch. “Actually they may
be done by now and they’re supposed to head out tonight
for Denver. And cause I said that we liked the way that the
condo was decorated he’s flying that woman to Denver
to do that house. Remember her? What was her name………..Elli
maybe? Anyway she’s doin the house.”
I lift his hand and pull it over my chest
and wrap my arms around it. “Tell me again about the
He grins. “It’s really cool. Bob and I used to
drive by it all the time and wonder who lived there and then
he found out that one of his clients owned it. Anyway, it’s
really contemporary, think Frank Lloyd Wrightish and it’s
got these really cool balconies that kinda jut out over the
edge of the hill.”
“Well maybe more than a hill.” He laughed. “You
know like how here in California they call hills mountains
so it’s more like a Colorado hill which is to say more
of a big hill. Oh and think pine trees, lots of em. And it
has kind of a concrete and steel look to it, really masculine
and clean. There’s five bedrooms I think, maybe four…………and
a really big library slash office then the usual living room,
dining room, kitchen, family room etcetera. Oh and horses and
they come with the property……….and chickens.
Geez I hope someone’s taking care of the animals now.” He
shrugs. “Gotta be, the guy who’s selling hasn’t
lived there for a month so he must have someone taking care
of the animals.”
Larry looks happy and that makes me happy,
totally fucking happy. “So we’re gonna be like
He grins and kisses me. “Yep. You and me ridin the range.
I’ll teach ya to ride. There’s lots of things you
can do on horse back.”
I laugh. “I already know how to ride………….and
His finger traces my mouth and his eyes
are soft and locked on mine his voice is soft. “You
never told me that. Did ya? I mean about the riding.”
“Probably not. No horses in Palo Alto. Well, none that
I saw.” And then a stupid flashback and the tears start
Larry wraps his arms around my head and
kisses my temple and I turn my face into his shoulder. His
voice is a whisper. “You’re
safe, Baby and I’m never letting anything hurt ya again.”