Copyright © 2003-2004 Gary Q. All Rights Reserved.
I wasn't surprised when I awoke the next morning to feel a warm thin body snuggled against me. After a couple of tries I managed to coax one of my eyes to open and focus. I smiled at the little strawberry topped head tucked against my chest, his thumb again tightly sealed in his mouth. 'I need to work on that,' I told myself as I gently removed the thumb and brushed his hair. I started to get a little worried as my range of focus expanded and I discovered the bed was empty except for the two of us, but my bladder intervened,, and I carefully climbed out of bed, tucking my little treasure under the covers before rushing to the bathroom.
The other boys were not in their bedroom when I looked in, but my nose suggested they were almost certainly in the pool, or at least okay, bribing me to follow it toward the smell of freshly brewed coffee it had detected. As I tottered into the kitchen I glanced out the deck door and was surprised to see the pool empty. I didn't notice Jay pouring himself a cup until I almost bumped into him.
"Good morning!" he greeted me. "We are on the deck, pour yourself a cup and join us! Your sons are out here helping Ronnie," he added as he stepped onto the deck.
I almost spilled my morning fix of Caffeine as I stepped onto the deck. Jay was relaxing in a deck chair watching his mate, and my sons labor over the large barbeque pit built into a corner of their deck. Except for boys wearing their headgear, the three of them were clad alike, wearing only in swim trunks and tall chef's hats.
"Look Dad, we're cookin' supper!" Mark proudly proclaimed as he saw me. He pushed his ten sizes too big hat back off his nose as he proudly held up a basting brush.
"Yeah! We're painting the boat! So it'll steam and stuff!" his brother exclaimed, flashing me an almost blinding wide silver grin.
"Pasting it, stupid!" Mark snapped, pushing his brother, making him stumble against his elder namesake.
Ronnie senior wrapped his arms around my Ronnie, pulling the boy against his stomach before the lad could retaliate against his brother. "BASTING!" he corrected. "Now hurry and finish, before the meat dries out!" he scolded, pulling Mark under his other arm.
I gawked slightly as I looked at the huge slab of meat they were treating with a yellow sauce, it was probably a foot in diameter, and six inches thick, and clearly a prime cut of beef. "Very good, we will let it smoke for four hours or so. Now, go wash up and I'll start breakfast!" the boys' mentor praised them. They both flashed a proud grin at me as they dropped their brushes back into the pan of sauce, and pulled their oversized hats off before darting at lightening speed to the pool.
"Take off your! ! !" I didn't bother to finish my request as they landed in the water, headgear and all. 'Fuck, half a continent away, and Junior is still in my life,' I thought.
"That's not what I meant by wash up, but oh well," Ronnie snickered as he covered the sauce pan.
I'm not sure if the sound of his brothers, or the aroma of breakfast being prepared, but Johnny appeared in the kitchen door about ten minutes later, a large glass of juice in his hand. "Hi Pop!" he mumbled, giving me a sleepy grin as he pushed under my arm.
"Hi Pumpkin!" I answered, tucking my hand around his thin waist and pulling him against me. "What's this, still a sleepy-head?" I added as he somehow squirmed his into my lap his one working hand still holding his juice. I'm not sure who smiled wider, Jay or I, when the boy snuggled against me and pushed the straw of his juice glass into my mouth.
"You're a wonderful boy," Jay beamed after I took a sip and thanked my son. Jay leaned over and softly stroked Johnny's thin back for a few seconds as he discreetly checked the lad's incisions and shoulder. I felt tears well in my eyes as the boy pushed into my hug for a second, then jumped down and tucked his little body under his doctor's arm, burying his pixie face against the physician's chest. Johnny muttered something I couldn't understand before Jay said, "Well, thank you for coming into my life, I love you too." He scooped the lad into his lap and hugged him.
Right after the boys cleared the breakfast dishes we finally had time to begin learning how to help Johnny with his Physical therapy. Both his brothers joined us, but Mark was right in the middle of everything as Jay began, crowding his way between Johnny and I. Jay removed his patient's splint after he sat a cloth towel and what looked somewhat like a plastic pencil, but with a scale on the side on the table.
"We are going to begin by playing a game," the surgeon told his patient. The lad stiffened when he continued, holding up the plastic instrument. "I'm going poke your arm and hand with this, and I want you to tell me where you feel it." He pushed it into his own hand a couple of times and said, "It wont hurt, I promise. Let me show you," he added, pushing the rounded tip a few times into Johnny's good hand. "Ready?" the doctor asked.
"Let's practice first," he said, propping his patient's good arm on the table. He draped the towel over Johnny's thin head, loosely covering his eyes. "Tell me where you feel me poke you," he asked.
'Damn this guy's good!' I thought as I watched Jay prod around his patient's left arm, he was actually conducting an anatomy lesson, teaching the boy what his elbow, ring or index fingers were, inside or outside his forearm or upper arm. "Great, close your eyes," the doctor ordered after a minute or so. After he removed the towel and Johnny reopened his eyes they repeated the drill, Jay making sure Johnny knew how to say where he meant to describe.
"Okay, here we go! I want you to concentrate, even if you just think you feel me touch me tell me," Jay said as he moved my son's paralyzed onto the table and cover his face with the towel again. I began feeling disappointed as Jay probed the boy's fingers, thumb and wrist and Johnny sat silent, shifting slightly in his chair as if waiting for something to happen.
I was trying to catch Jay's attention, to ask if anything was wrong, when Johnny sat a little more upright and said, "That was my thumb." My heart sank when I saw Jay was poking just below the boy's bony elbow.
"Great!" Jay exclaimed, gently hugging the boy. I became more confused as he glanced over at me, his face almost exuberant. He probed the lad's damaged limb for another couple of minutes, his patient announcing several more inaccurate responses. I felt my jaw tighten and blinked several times to keep my eyes from tearing. I had to look away for a second when Jay turned Johnny's hand palm up and the boy announced he felt something in his ring finger. Jay broke into a wide grin before he removed the towel, allowing Johnny to see his limb again. "You are doing fantastically for your first time!" Jay almost hooted. "You have to learn where parts of your arm are again, son, but if you try hard, I promise you will!" he added.
"We are going to do the same thing again, but I want you to watch very closely." As he probed the areas of the boy's arm that he had gotten a response from earlier, he explained to all of us that as the nerve bundle he had operated on healed Johnny would regain more and more feeling in his arm and hand, but would have to relearn many of the tactile responses from his arm.
"Practice makes perfect," the doctor said as he guided Mark onto his knee. "I want you to do what we did with the towel over his head twice a day, and whenever you can without the towel, like we are doing now," he said, motioning Mark to push the probe into his brother's arm and hand. "I want to teach you some ROM exercises, Range of Motion exercises, but let's do that later." He started to help Johnny back into his shoulder immobilizer when Mark pushed in, brushing the doctor's hands out of the way and fitting the splint to his brother's arm.
"I need to go to the hospital for my rounds, but I feel like a dip in the pool first!" Jay laughed, almost in a giggle. He scooped Johnny up by the boy's thin waist as I grabbed Mark from behind rushing them toward the pool. Ronnie's alto voice pleading for help rang from behind me not long before his elder namesake dropped him into the pool right behind his brothers.
We swam with the boys for five minutes or so before moving off toward the side of the pool and began discussing possible plans for the day. The barbeque with their family was scheduled for about five that afternoon, but except for Jay having to spend an hour or so making his rounds both of them were free for most of the day. Even Ronnie's huge chunk of meat, which to my surprise was a Steamboat Round, would not need attention until shortly before serving.
I had wanted to take the boys to see the Naval Yard, and our hosts suggested a couple of other sights around Norfolk we would enjoy seeing, which would fill our morning. After lunch they suggested we put the top down on their Jeep Wrangler, that I didn't know they had, and ride along the beech enjoying the sites. Jay suggested Ronnie and I take his Hummer to the Navy base, that he would take Ronnie's car, and meet us after we left the base. The two of them were trying to decide on where to meet when Jay's cell phone rang. I silently snickered as he gave the deck table it was sitting on a dirty look, as I had so often toward my electronic leash, before excusing himself to answer it.
"Doctor Owens," he called out a few seconds later. I wondered about his formality until I looked around and saw his taut, somewhat pale, face. I felt my stomach tighten as he rather unceremoniously ushered me inside as I dripped pool water on their floor. "I think you better take this, it's your lawyer," he informed me. His face told me I didn't want to.
"Hi kid! We have a problem, a major problem. I called you on Doctor Sanchez's phone because we hope it is safer, but," My throat tightened even more than my stomach as she continued. She was in Judge Rodriguez's chambers, along with some agents from the FBI and DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). Cindy had been contacted after it was discovered that the Judge's offices had been broken into last night, and Johnny's records were discovered missing.
Unknown to me, DEA was sure Doeman was a part time courier for a couple of drug smugglers. They suspected he was transporting a shipment for the gang when he went missing several weeks before Johnny was hurt and his brother killed. I'm glad Jay was standing next to me as I felt my knees try to buckle as Cindy told me, "The agents are sure that the smugglers think Johnny knows where their shipment is. They have a fifty K reward for anyone that gives them Johnny."
"Or the location of the stash and then disposes of the boy," another voice injected.
"That was a DEA Agent, we are on the Judge's speaker phone, " Cindy told me. I didn't notice Jay guiding me across the room until he helped me into a chair..
"What now?" I gasped more than said.
"We don't know," the agent replied. "Our immediate concern is if the stolen records reference your current location, we are trying to ascertain that now."
"Very unfortunate timing," Rodriguez voice added. "The case is so new, the records have not been scanned into our archives yet. They were scheduled to be this weekend, that is why they were so accessible. Otherwise they would have been in the vault."
"These two suspects are very resourceful," a another voice added. "Although the entire cartel only about five people, they are very savvy. We know they have the technology to hack cell phone, and even land-line communications, that is why we did not call you on your, , , instrument."
"Adam, we need to end this conversation for that reason," Cindy interrupted. "There is a time frame to trace and listen in on a call, and we are nearing it. Very shortly you might receive a delivery, if it reminds you of home, accept it. We'll talk more then." She rang off before I could argue.
I leaned back in my chair and stared at the ceiling, trying to believe what I had just heard for several seconds, before I felt Jay removing his phone from my hand. When I looked over at him I realized I had forgotten to end the call. After I closed my eyes for the better part of a minute I filled the ceiling more than Jay in on the conversation.
"What are you going to do?" Jay's partner asked, almost making me jump out of my skin. I looked over to the side, to see him sitting next to me as he added, "The boys are still in the pool, I could tell something was not right."
"I have no idea," I answered. "I guess wait for the package for now, but I don't want to put you guys in any danger too. I guess as soon as it arrives I'm going to relocate the boys, any ideas?"
"My friend, you forget so easily, remember where we grew up?" Jay countered. "He may be your son, but he is my patient. Thank you in advance for allowing us to evaluate our own risks."
We were all staring at each other when the doorbell rang. "UPS," a voice announced through the intercom. We exchanged worried glances as we looked out the window and saw one of their ugly brown vans. After a second I snapped to my phone call last night, and told them I was expecting a package. Jay cautiously opened the door and signed for the parcel.
"Well, open it!" I instructed after I saw Santos Stables Inc on the address label. Ronnie and Jay hesitated before Ronnie took the imitative and cut the box open.
"God, it's Don Amado! A case of it!" Ronnie exclaimed as he held up a liter bottle of Mezcal. His partner gawked slightly.
"Well, you were running low, and I damn sure love those Margaret's! Their before 10 AM claim seems to work!" I said.
"But, how did you get it into the country? Especially this fast!" Ronnie asked, pulling a couple of more bottles half way out of the box and inspecting them.
"You forget where I grew up, my friend!" I countered. "A long hair hippy living in Red Neck-ville, Texas, you should have seen what I used to get across the border when I was a kid!" We all laughed and relaxed a little, the interlude cutting the edge off the tension of the few minutes.
Ten minutes later the doorbell rang again. "Pony Express, I have a delivery for a Miss Ginger Owens," a voice said through the intercom.
"That's what we were waiting for," I said as I moved to answer the door. I was right, there was a mini-van in front of the house labeled 'Pony Express Courier Service' and a young man with the same logo on his shirt at the door, presenting me a package.
"Please sign here," he asked, extending a clipboard to me. I flinched as I accepted it and noticed a badge saying 'Special Agent, US Drug Enforcement Agency' hooked to the top of the tablet. "Thank you sir," he smartly said after I signed, and returned to the van.
"This is going to be interesting," I commented as I sat the box down. We all stared at it for a few seconds before realizing it. "Well, I guess we could bring in a monk to chant over it or something," I grumbled as I picked it back up and tore the tape off its top.
The package's contents were almost disappointing. A thin envelope, a CD ROM disk, a wire connector and PC card for a laptop computer, and a cell phone.. "Damn, I'm glad the Feds are up with technology, we used to call these luggable!" I commented as I looked at the phone, reminding me of the larger, heavier phones from several years ago. The envelope contained only a card that said 'U.S. Navy' on the outside and short note
'Please do EXACTLY as listed below BEFORE using the enclosed disk. Be very careful to read these instructions fully before beginning, failing to follow them exactly will result in the destruction of this disk, along with the hard drive of the computer it is inserted into. Perform these steps within 1 hour of breaking the seal on the disk, or it will self-destruct.
1. Verify the enclosed telephone instrument is powered on. 2. Boot YOUR laptop computer, and open your e-mail program. Do not open any new e-mail messages. 3. Verify you have three new messages from people you do not know, each must have a separate address. 4. Connect the interface cable to the enclosed phone, then plug the PCMCIA card into your laptop. 5. Insert the disk into your CD ROM drive. Allow Autorun to operate, DO NOT TOUCH the keyboard or mouse while the program opens your mail messages. 6. WITHIN 120 SECONDS, enter your mother's date-of-birth and your paternal grandfather's first name as prompted. CAUTION, you will have only one attempt at each. 7. Wait for further instructions. Your friend Todd.'
"Holy shit, is Todd's last name Bond?" I said as I handed Jay the note. "This is something out of the movies, or MAD magazine!"
"Well, this isn't an old cell phone, it's a satellite phone, a very sophisticated one. They are not traceable, and with very advanced encryption." Ronnie said as he looked over the phone.
"Our dad carries one similar to it when he travels to Brazil, it is a very sophisticated piece of equipment," Jay added as he looked at it. "It provides him with a lot of security he needs."
They, I think intentionally, let me stew for a minute or so before Ronnie added, "Dad's a drug runner." I felt gears grinding inside what was left of my brain as a mental picture of the distinguished old man I had met yesterday flashed back to me. 'A Portuguese God-father?' I asked myself. 'Shit, if he is I hope he's not into horse's heads!'
It took me a minute or so to snap to what they were doing, cutting the edge off of the intense situation regarding Johnny's, actually all of our current situations. "Yeah, he runs drugs and you are a cook!" I quipped. I was a little surprised as they explained that Miguel traveled back to Brazil several times a year, delivering medications to treat HIV and AIDS to their clinics, often carrying with him significant amounts of cash for some of their activities to protect street kids.
"I think we should get Dad involved," Ronnie suggested. Jay was dialing his phone before I could respond.
I guess needing a break, I went to check on the kids as he did. They were frocking around in the pool, clearly in their own happy world. 'This shit's going to end,' I told myself as I watched Johnny's happy face, giggling as he tried, fairly successfully, to keep up with his brothers. 'NOBODY's going to hurt him again, not while I'm alive,' I vowed. 'Why the hell didn't I bring my handgun?' I chastised myself as I went to get my laptop.
"Dad's on his way," Jay told us when I returned. As I connected my computer to a nearby data connection and booted it he explained he was afraid to be too specific over the phone, but his dad had some government and law enforcement connections in Mexico and South America that might be able to help. 'Does he know where I can put out a contract or two of my own?' I silently wondered.
Despite the fact that I was sweating bullets, and praying the last file backup I had done on the laptop was through, the spy verses spy sequence described in the note went quickly and flawlessly. A few seconds after I entered the family data the note suggested I would be prompted for, the satellite phone rang, and a message appeared on my laptop display instructing me to answer the phone.
"Good morning Doctor Owens, I am Todd West, with the FBI.." I was about to respond when a man's face appeared on my laptop's screen, appearing to be sitting in the seat of a car or van. His voice also was coming out of my computer's speakers, His lips moving told me it was a live video phone connection as he continued, "First, let me assure you we feel comfortable your family are relatively safe for the present." I suppressed the urge to asked him what exactly 'relatively' meant.
"Myself and several other agents are very nearby your hosts' home in vehicles. If you look out toward the ocean, you will notice several people playing on wave-riders and jet-skis? Those are Navy SEALS, and I assure you they are not playing." I glanced toward the deck window as Ronnie moved to look through it, nodding a confirmation. "By the way, aren't Ronnie and Mark getting a little sunburned?" he asked. I was wondering what he was talking about when my laptop's screen changed to a display showing the boys in the pool, from the angle showing Jay's house as a backdrop clearly taken from the ocean.
"Wow," I muttered as Jay, big Ronnie and I glanced between the monitor and the deck, the display was indeed live time.
"Oh, and give Doctor Sanchez senior our best, he is turning into your driveway," Todd added, as the screen changed to the tail end of a Hummer making its way up Jay's long driveway. "Please be assured at present you are under very little threat, very safe." The three of us exchanged lost glances, I'm sure Jay and Ronnie trying to believe this was all happening as much as I was.
Their Dad let himself in and joined us as Todd continued, "The Navy would like to show your sons around their base, an environment I assure you is completely safe, and both entertaining and educational for the children. It would be much safer for you to leave the Sanchez home in one of their vehicles, there is a pass to enter the base I am sure you have found, and I will meet you there. We will talk more then, and decide how to proceed."
I was about to agree he added, "We will be close by as you make you way to the base, but there are some pictures you should look at. These are the people that want to get to your son. They are in a folder named Images." I reached toward the keyboard when the display changed to the pictures of two men. "These are the suspects that we are sure own the shipment, that have put out a contract, I mean reward for your son's cooperation. There are photos of all the other known members of this cor. . ." The sound of someone coughing and gagging interrupted as several drops of liquid splashed onto the back of my head and the laptop's display.
"Holy Mother," I heard Miguel Sanchez's voice mutter from behind me as his sons rushed toward him, asking if he was okay. "That is Raul Martinez," Miguel announced. I turned around in time to see Jay take a coffee cup from his father's hand, and the three of us started at him for a second or so before he added, "The one on the left, that is Angelina's father, or actually foster parent."
"Doctor Owens, did I hear correctly, does someone there recognize one of these suspects?" Todd asked over the computer speakers. "That name is not familiar to us."
Suddenly I was besieged with input from Todd, wanting to know who he had heard and why, along with Miguel wanting to know who I was talking to. Realizing I had no future as a World Wrestling Federation Referee, I suggested I call Todd back in a couple of minutes. After I assured him we would meet him at the Navy Base shortly he reluctantly agreed, saying he was on the phone's speed-dial.
"I should have known better," Miguel said after we brought him up-to-date on our morning's adventure. "Years ago, I knew he was traveling between Florida and Columbia, but stopped tracking him after I felt comfortable he was going to stay out of your sister's life. I should have known better, a Weasel is always a Weasel." He went on to explain that he had asked 'contacts' he knew to keep track of the man for several years after Angelina came into Miguel's foster care, but as she matured and the threat seemed to fade he had lost track of Martinez.
"It is indeed a small world, but too small for both that Jackal and the rest of us. Doctor Owens, may I join you visiting Sewells?" Before I could answer he continued, "And where is this young mystery man? I have yet to meet him! I need to step out to my car and make a couple of calls, but I suggest we leave shortly, they serve excellent lunches in their mess halls." He disappeared out the front door before any of us answered.
"Gulp!" Ronnie said, "He's pissed." Seeing my lost face he added, "Dad is not a person you would want to cross, and this Martinez just did."
"Again! Poor Bastard, but he deserves it," Jay added. "Call this Todd back and I will tell the boys to get ready," he told me as he walked toward the patio door. 'Gulp too!' I thought as I digested my hosts' statement. 'Whatever!' I told myself as I dialed the satellite phone.
I had just gotten off the phone with Todd when Miguel returned, now carrying a satellite phone similar to the one I was using. I tried to interpret his face, and almost evil grin as he announced, "I think I might be able to help you out. I'm expecting a call shortly." From the look on his sons' faces I could tell the call was not going to be from his stock broker.
Ten or so minutes later a freshly scrubbed and dressed Ronnie appeared from the hallway. I felt proud of him as he greeted Miguel warmly. Johnny and Mark were a minute or so behind him. "So I finally get to meet you!" Miguel exclaimed. He started to move toward my little carrot top until Johnny backpedaled into the hall, Mark following behind.
A few seconds later Mark reappeared, and after he leaned, more stressed his body into the room, Johnny's face and about half his body appeared, tightly tucked under Mark's arm. He whispered something to Johnny as he prodded his new brother into the room. Johnny gave Miguel a timid look before darting under my arm, tucking everything but his little face behind me.
"Son, this is Ronnie and Doctor Jay's father, Doctor Sanchez," I tried. His lips moved slightly, but nothing came out, the magic suction cups on his feet activated as I tried to coax him from behind me.
"I have been waiting a long time to meet you!" Miguel said with a wide grin.
"Come on shy guy, he wont bite!" I prompted, pulling the lad against me a little tighter.
"But does he surgery people?" Johnny whispered to me.
"Yes, I am a surgeon, like my son," Miguel answered. He almost immediately realized his poor choice of words when Johnny pulled further behind me, now only his pixie little nose and one eye showing between my chest and arm. "However, I don't operate on red headed boys, only my son is trained in that area."
I felt the boy relax for an instant, then stiffen even more. After a second he pushed his face back under my arm, I could feel gears grinding in his little head as he stared at Miguel. The elderly surgeon play his role so perfectly he could have won an Oscar as he looked completely nonchalantly back at us. Johnny surveyed him for a second or so before squirming under my arm and reaching up with is good hand, running it through his hair, as he looked up at me.
I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing as I added, "If you are interested in having another operation, I'm sure Doctor Sanchez would be willing to put a good word in with Doctor Jay," earning me a death glare from the boy.
My other two sons giggles exposed our charade. Johnny looked at them briefly, then glared red faced around the room for a second. "Your silly!" he whined. He didn't resist as I maneuvered him in front of me, but kept his back glued to my chest as Miguel greeted him.
It didn't take long for Miguel to get to boy to relax, and a minute or so later he slipped out of my grasp and moved next to the man, smiling and softly giggling as he soaked up Jay and Miguel's attention. I had to laugh when Miguel asked to see his incisions. As Jay reached to open Johnny's splint so he could raise his shirt Mark instantly appeared between Jay and his brother, crowding the doctor out of the way as he carefully unfastened the straps from his brother's chest. I couldn't help but snicker when Jay pulled Mark under his shoulder and included the youngster in his briefing to Miguel, Mark concentrating like a budding intern.
"Wow, that IS a Humvee!" Ronnie hooted as we exited the house. He darted to Miguel's sand colored Hummer and hopped on the Safari deck installed in front of the vehicle. "Yeah! You can put machine guns and stuff here!" he exclaimed as he darted between the two folding seats mounted on it. Wow! You can put a cannon up there!" he added as he pointed to the vehicle's roof.
"Actually cameras, but let him dream," Miguel snickered. "Please come here little one, and we will go see some real Humvees! And maybe a battle ship or two," he told the boy. He tossed Jay the keys asking him to drive as we all climbed in.
Miguel answered a couple of calls on his satellite phone on the way to the base, but only reacted with grins as he talked. The Navy was completely accommodating when we arrived, as soon as Jay handed the Marine guard the pass I had received from Todd, we were asked to follow a waiting police car, and quickly escorted to the largest pier I had ever seen.
"Welcome to the USS George Washington!" a young Navy officer smartly announced as he and another sailor opened our car doors. I gazed at what looked like a long, gray steel skyscraper next to us as he guided us across a covered gangway, handing each of us ID badges reading 'VIP Visitor' as we walked. We followed him through a couple of hallways, then into an elevator.
'Awesome!' and 'Wow!' were a few of what the boys exclaimed as we stepped out of the elevator, onto what looked to me as the runway of a major airport. Two young sailors seemed as if they had rehearsed for the moment as they offered to show the boys around, gesturing toward the jet fighters and helicopters parked on the flight deck. The boys started to follow them, but turned back toward me after a few feet.
"In a minute, we were going to go to the Flight Deck Canteen, and the Electric Cow!" a young sailor, his face only slightly more mature than my youngsters', announced. "It has six flavors of ice cream, and all the trimmings!" As soon as I began to nod my approval the young Marnier had three instant friends, following him like Saint Patrick's rats out of Ireland.
"Good day," Todd began after the other adults and I were guided into a small conference room labeled 'Captain's Ward Room'. As a couple of young sailors served us coffee he introduced himself, the FBI Agent Stan Banks, that had visited my office what seemed like a hundred years ago or so, and three more men he identified only as 'Agents'.
"Firstly, let me assure you that you and your sons are safe, at least for the present," Todd began. I gave him a concerned glare as he continued, "However, right now, the situation is very, very dynamic. We had all but finalized a plan to deal with the situation, to get these people off the street and keep the boy safe, but there is a new twist. We are still evaluating newly received data, but, well. . ."
"This is less than ten minutes old so we are still analyzing. It appears another group is interested in the boy," Banks continued. "We are still trying to evaluate the impact, but another confederation, for lack of a better word, is offering a bounty on the boy's head. They are offering one million, but these perverts want him alive and unhurt."
"We don't know much about this yet," Todd added, "but we are sure anyone that would post a mil for a crippled up street kid doesn't want to buy him so they can send him to prep school! "
Without realizing it I tightened my fists and stood up. "An interesting circumstance, interesting indeed," Miguel interceded as he stood and stepped in front of me. We exchanged glares before something in his face told me to chill, and I reluctantly sat back down.
"Please update your sources," Miguel began. "I understand there is a bounty offered, a couple of them actually, but it is for anyone that does harm to the boy or his family. Another of 500K each for Martinez and each of the rest of his organization. Of course I have no idea who offered these, but I have heard of it." His sons' faces told me he was being far less than truthful about what he knew.
"Oh Lord," Bank's groaned as he looked at the other agents. "Your man is, can you reach him?" he asked one of them.
"Shit, I doubt it, he's out for at least forty-eight hours," one of them moaned as he started toward the door.
'Shit is a good way of putting it,' I thought as they explained. The DEA and FBI had developed a plan to have an undercover agent claim to have located the drug shipment, and stage Johnny's death. As the agent was what they called a mole agent, deeply undercover, they had no way of stopping him or their plan. The operation was suppose to begin that evening, putting a million dollar bounty on the agent's head.
As angry as I was with Todd for his comment about Johnny, I almost felt sorry for him when Miguel said, "Of course I have no direct knowledge, but the reward being offered is not for the attacker's arrest, but for a much faster form of Justice."
A knock at the door interrupted us. One of the agents opened it briefly, accepting a large envelope from a sailor and handing it to Banks. Banks spent a minute or so reading its contents before handing to the other agents.
"Your information is quiet accurate, Doctor," he began. "Are you familiar with an organization known as America Segura?" When no one answered he added, "It's a Columbian based vigilante group, with a Portuguese name. They actually are trying to accomplish many of the same goals we are, but, as you said, often don't wait for due process." Miguel sat silently, his expression unchanged.
"Can you withdraw the reward money, keep our agent safe?" Todd asked.
"Of course I would do anything I felt I could to help out my government, but I'm just a retired physician," he answered. His eyes spoke volumes as he looked the two cops in the face and added, "I only wish there were assurances the boy, and his new family would remain safe. I would even venture to guess this, America Segura, whoever they are, would too."
'Jay was right about poor bastard,' I thought as I watched the three men exchange glares. The room remained quiet as a tomb for a minute or so.
"What do you think would make, , , them feel more comfortable, feel reassured," Banks finally asked.
"Removing Martinez, and the rest of the scum in his organization, from the streets so the contract on the boy is invalid. If you don't, it is my impression that they will, and anyone that gets in their way." He let them stew for several seconds before adding, "I understand there are seven of them, or is it five? Three point five million dollars might help in the effort."
"But that is from America Segura, for their liquidation," Banks countered.
"Perhaps you should contact them. Perhaps they might be persuaded to offer the same reward for, how do you say? Arrest and conviction? If I may make a suggestion, just as an outsider of course, Latin Americans are often very inpatient. Whoever these people are, they might expect a time limit for things to happen, say thirty-six hours?"
The silence in the room was beginning to get almost deafening as Miguel and the agents stared at each other. The faint sound of a bugle call from out in the hall almost made me jump out of my chair. "I believe that is Mess Call, as they call it in the military" Miguel announced. "I enjoy eating in their dining halls anytime I am here, and I understand aircraft carrier food is even better. Would anyone care to join me?" he asked as he stood.
"If that is announcing lunch, I know where we can find your boys!" Ronnie told me as he followed his dad toward the door.
To Be Continued…