Viking bay, p.17

Viking Bay, page 17

 

Viking Bay
 



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  She jogged more slowly than she usually did, just enjoying the night air and the feel of the blood moving through her body. As she jogged, she thought idly about what she’d do if Callahan fired her—and she wasn’t all that sure she’d care. She was making a decent salary, but aside from what had happened in Afghanistan, she’d spent too much time in classrooms and hadn’t seen the kind of action she wanted. Worse was Barb saying that Callahan had probably lied to her about who he really worked for.

  She figured that if Callahan really worked for the president like he’d said, and if he got in trouble one day with Congress, she was too far down the ladder to get in trouble herself. But if Callahan had lied to her about whom he worked for, then she didn’t know how precarious her position was legally. There had to be some way she could find out if . . .

  —

  HAMILTON WAS HEADED up Connecticut, toward the zoo, and he figured she’d stay on Connecticut because it was fairly well lit. He hit the gas and passed her, looking to his left for the right kind of spot. Then he saw it: a little alley that provided access to a loading dock on one side of a big apartment building. If he stood in the alley, close to the sidewalk, she wouldn’t be able to see him until she passed the alley—and when she did, he’d grab her.

  He liked his other plan better—the one that involved using the kid to gain access to Hamilton’s apartment and killing her inside the apartment—but this would do.

  He took the knife out of the glove compartment and put it in his belt at the back of his pants. For what he wanted to do, a knife would be better than the Beretta. He jogged over to the alley entrance and got a nice surprise: There was a dumpster just a couple yards into the alley. When Hamilton jogged past the alley, he’d grab her and pull her behind the dumpster. A passing car might see him take her, but he’d snatch her out of sight in less than three seconds. He’d take the risk.

  He looked back up Connecticut. Hamilton was a block away, coming toward him at a steady pace. He put on a ski mask and stepped into the alley.

  —

  KAY WAS THINKING about Eli Dolan as she passed the mouth of an alley—and she was completely unprepared when the man came at her from behind and wrapped his forearm across her throat. Keeping the pressure on her throat—he had her in a choke hold and was cutting off her wind—he dragged her into an alley, stopping when they were behind a dumpster overloaded with trash.

  “You fight me and I’ll slice your face up,” he hissed into her ear.

  When he stopped dragging her, Kay was finally able to get her feet set. She had to do something before she passed out, which she assumed was his plan: choke her until she was unconscious, drop her behind the dumpster so he couldn’t be seen from the street, rip off her sweatpants, and rape her—and then maybe kill her.

  The guy wasn’t as big as Bowman—the monster who had beaten the hell out of her in the hand-to-hand combat course—but he was big. He outweighed her by maybe fifty pounds and was about six feet tall. She could tell by the muscular forearm across her throat and the way he felt pressed up against her back that he was in good shape.

  Then Kay did all those things that she’d been taught.

  She snapped her head back hard and hit him in the nose, slammed her right foot down as hard as she could on his instep, then swung her right fist back, hoping to hit him in the balls. She missed his balls and hit him in the thigh, but the guy had been unprepared for her to fight back, maybe thinking she had to be on the verge of passing out. Or maybe thinking she’d be too scared to fight. He obviously didn’t know her.

  Thanks mostly to the head snap, she was able to break the grip he had on her throat, and she spun about to confront him—and he hit her in the face with his right fist, knocking her to the ground. Fortunately, he didn’t knock her out.

  As Kay sat there, trying to recover from the blow to her face, he reached behind his back and pulled out a knife that had a six-inch serrated blade. “You broke my nose, you bitch. I’m going to . . .”

  Kay was on her butt, her legs sprawled out in front of her, about six feet from him. While he was still talking—telling her how he was going to make her suffer—she reached down to her ankle, pulled out the .32, and shot him twice in the chest. She never even thought about telling him to drop the knife.

  She sat there for a moment, pointing the gun at him, waiting to see if he was going to get up—and waiting for her pulse rate to drop below a hundred. She finally rose to her feet and walked over and looked down at him. He didn’t seem to be alive. She knelt down next to him and, while pressing the muzzle of the gun against his head, checked his pulse rate. It was zero. Good.

  She pulled the ski mask off his head. She knew she should have left it in place so the cops could see what he’d looked like before she shot him, but she wanted to see who he was. Her first impression was that he looked familiar, but she didn’t recognize him. His head was knobby and shaved, he had a couple days’ worth of beard, and there was a bump on the bridge of his nose that had been there before she broke it. Her overall impression was that if you put his picture in a photo array and asked people to pick out the guy most likely to own a pit bull and get drunk and beat his wife, they’d pick this guy’s picture. But maybe she was prejudiced.

  26 | Kay needed to call the cops but didn’t have her phone with her. She walked to the mouth of the alley—she was limping again; she’d hurt her leg when she’d stomped on the damn guy’s foot—and looked up and down Connecticut. The block was all apartment buildings, but not the type to have doormen sitting in the lobby. Naturally, there wasn’t a pay phone in sight.

  Two guys stepped out of one of the buildings and began walking toward her. They were holding hands. She walked toward them, and when she was about twenty yards away, she said, “I need you to call the cops.”

  They stopped, and she kept walking toward them. “I need you to call the cops,” she repeated. “A guy just tried to rape me and I shot him.”

  One of the men looked down and saw she was holding the .32 in her hand; she’d actually forgotten she was holding it. He took a step backward and half raised his hands in a surrender gesture.

  “No, no,” Kay said. “I’m not going to hurt you. Now, please. Call the cops. I’m going to wait for them back by the body.”

  The D.C. Metro Police showed up in less than five minutes—about the expected response time when they get a call saying a woman’s walking around with a gun in her hand and had just admitted that she’d killed someone. When they arrived, Kay was standing at the mouth of the alley, and she raised both hands to show she was unarmed. The two cops—one white, one black, both young—exited their patrol car holding guns.

  “Where’s your weapon?” one of them said, pointing his gun at her chest.

  Kay pointed down at her feet. “Right there.”

  “Step away from it. Now,” the cop said.

  “Okay, guys, but I’m the victim here. So settle down.”

  —

  KAY HAD THOUGHT it would be pretty straightforward: She’d show them the bruise on her face where the rapist had hit her, the ski mask lying next to his head, the knife lying on the ground next to his hand, and they’d say, “Thank you, ma’am, for ridding the city of this menace.” She should have known better.

  From the cops’ perspective it wasn’t all that clear-cut. How did they know she hadn’t planted the knife? For that matter, how did they know she hadn’t attacked the man and he drew a knife to defend himself? And what was she doing jogging at night, packing a sneaky little .32 in an ankle holster? And how was it that she was able to overcome a man bigger than her, who she claimed had her in a choke hold? It was also pretty amazing how she’d been able to put two bullets into his chest in a circle the size of a fifty-cent piece while scared and scuttling along on her butt, trying to back away from the guy.

  They read her the Miranda statement and took her to the station.

&n
bsp; At the station they put her into an interrogation room, made her wait for an hour, and then a detective came in and asked her all the questions she’d already been asked. The one thing that stumped her was when the detective asked if she’d ever seen the man before. She said, “I’m not sure. He looked familiar, but I can’t place him. Who is he?”

  Instead of answering her question, the cop said, “Okay, let’s take this one more time from the top. You claim you were jogging down Connecticut and . . .”

  It was the you claim that did it. “All right. I’ve had enough of this bullshit. I’m ex-DEA, I know my rights, and I want to make a phone call right now. So you either let me make a call or you get your dumb ass out of here and get a public defender in here.”

  —

  THERE WERE TWO PEOPLE she could call: Barb Reynolds and Anna Mercer. She assumed Callahan was still out of the country. She figured that Barb had done her enough favors lately and didn’t deserve to get dragged into this mess.

  “This is Hamilton,” she said when Mercer answered her phone, “and this call is probably being monitored. I’m down at the police station on Indiana Avenue. I just killed a man who tried to rape me, and the cops are being assholes about the whole thing and treating me like a suspect.”

  “My God,” Mercer said. “Are you all right?”

  “Yeah, I’m fine, but can you get someone down here to spring me from this place?”

  Twenty minutes later, Sylvia Sorenson opened the door to the interrogation room. She was wearing a black raincoat over jeans and a dark blue T-shirt that looked two sizes too large. Judging by her tousled hair, Mercer must have roused Sylvia from her bed and she’d probably been sleeping in the T-shirt. “You’re free to go,” she said to Kay.

  As they walked down the hall, the detective who’d questioned Kay came up to her and said, “I apologize, ma’am, for—”

  “Hey!” Sylvia snapped. “Don’t talk to my client, and you just remember what I told you.”

  “Yes, ma’am,” the detective said.

  “What did you do to get me sprung?” Kay asked as she and Sylvia were leaving the building.

  Sylvia smiled—this small, cruel slice of a smile—and when she did, Kay thought she looked a bit feral and she remembered Mercer’s comment about Sylvia the wolverine.

  “I had a little discussion with that cop regarding the law,” Sylvia said. “I also pointed out to him that fucking around with a decorated ex–DEA agent currently employed by a former member of the National Security Council was not a good career move.”

  Kay wished she’d seen that: Sylvia dressing down the detective.

  “Do you need a ride home?” Sylvia asked.

  —

  KAY LOOKED IN the bathroom mirror. Her face had a reddish lump near her right cheekbone where the guy had hit her, and it would probably turn purple tomorrow. She also had a headache, and her leg was throbbing. What she was really worried about was that the punch in the face might have affected the concussion she’d had. She’d go see the doctor tomorrow. She didn’t want to end up like some punch-drunk NFL lineman from repeated blows to the head.

  She was really getting tired of being injured.

  She called Anna Mercer again. “I’m back home. Thanks for siccing Sylvia on the cops.”

  “Yeah, Sylvia can be pretty formidable when she sets her mind to it.”

  “I’d like to get the name of the guy who attacked me. He looked familiar.”

  “What are you saying? You think this was more than a random attack?”

  “I don’t know. He just looked familiar, and I’d like to know his name.”

  “I’ll have Sylvia get his name tomorrow,” Mercer said. “I’m just glad you’re okay.”

  —

  WHEN JESSICA GOT HOME from the Dave Matthews concert and saw Kate holding an ice pack to her face, she shrieked, “Oh my God! What happened to you now?”

  “Aw, I did something stupid. I went for a jog and I guess my leg wasn’t quite ready for it, and I stumbled and landed on my face. Does it look that bad?”

  “It looks like somebody punched you. You look like a battered wife.”

  That was too close to the mark, and Kay wondered if she should tell her daughter the truth, that somebody had tried to rape her. Maybe she should; maybe it was a mistake to hide what had happened from her. But Kay didn’t want to scare her again. Jessica’s reaction to Kay’s lie that she’d been in a car accident had been bad enough, and she didn’t want the girl dwelling on how vulnerable people were and how capricious life could be. On the other hand, not telling her could be a disservice to her. Jessica knew, at least intellectually, that rape was a possibility, but she probably didn’t really think that it could happen to her or anyone close to her. Shielding her daughter from the harsh realities of life might be worse in the long run than giving her another scare. The other thing Kay realized was that what she’d done could become public knowledge. The police didn’t typically release the names of rape victims to the media, but since a man had been killed, it was hard to predict what information might become public. She could just see some cop knocking on the door and saying to Jessica, “Hi, I’m here to talk to your mom about the rapist she killed the other night.”

  She started to say Okay, I’m not telling you the truth, here’s what really happened, and then another thought occurred to her. It still bothered her that the man she’d killed had looked familiar, and she wondered if what had happened tonight might have some connection to the Callahan Group or Afghanistan. Tomorrow she’d get the guy’s name and also see if the cops had any intention of pursuing the issue. And if the attack on her had any connection to Callahan, then she really couldn’t talk to Jessica about it. She’d decide tomorrow.

  27 | Alpha was furious. If Bravo had been in the room, Alpha would have killed him.

  Alpha called one of the prepaid cell phones they used to communicate.

  “You stupid son of a bitch! I told you to just watch her. Why did you try to kill her?”

  He didn’t answer. He was probably trying to figure out how Alpha knew that he’d sent someone to kill Hamilton. Before he could say anything, Alpha said, “Well, Hamilton killed the guy you sent, genius.”

  “Aw, shit,” he said.

  “Aw, shit? That’s all you have to say? The only good news is the cops don’t know who he is yet. Fortunately, he didn’t have any ID on him. But in a couple of hours they’ll run his prints, and since I’m guessing he’s ex-military, his prints will be on file. I need his name, and I need it before Callahan learns who he is. It still might be possible to recover from the dumbass thing you’ve done.”

  “How?”

  “Never mind how. What’s his name?”

  “Eric Nelson. He was one of the men I used in Afghanistan. He was Charlie.”

  “Text me his DOB and SS number.” Then Alpha couldn’t help it. “Why in the hell did you do it? Goddamnit, tell me why.”

  “Because she saw me in the house right after I planted the bomb and then . . .”

  “She didn’t see you actually plant the bomb, and you gave her a reason for why you were in the house.”

  “But then she goes and looks at my finances and finds out the same thing you did—that I’m broke. So now she has a motive. Then she gets the DEA involved. What if she has the DEA start monitoring my banking transactions and the first time I remove money from that account your boy set up, they find the five million. If that happens—”

  “You’re getting paranoid. I’m telling you they’ll never find the money that Finley hid for you. Finley’s a genius. You just follow the procedures he put in place to—”

  “Yeah, so you say. But maybe they got a couple geniuses working for the DEA, and with Hamilton pushing them . . . I figured if Nelson raped her before he killed her, nobody would connect us to her death or to what happened in Afghanistan. I mean,
you have about ten rapes a day in that goddamn city.”

  “Listen to me,” Alpha said. “I don’t have any more time to talk right now, but I swear to God, you arrogant prick, if you do one more thing without clearing it with me first, I’ll kill you.”

  “Yeah, well, good luck with that,” he said, and hung up.

  Now Alpha had to really scramble and hope that Finley could do what was necessary. Alpha called him—he was awake, of course, because the freak slept only about three hours a night—and told him what he needed to do before daylight: He had to move a quarter million dollars into an offshore bank and make it look like the money came from Pakistan.

  “The money has to be traceable,” Alpha said, “but it can’t be too easy to trace. Do you understand, Finley? I want Callahan to have to dig hard to find the money. If it’s too easy, he’ll get suspicious.”

  28 | Callahan was back, and he summoned Kay to his office. Judging by the way he looked, he’d taken the red-eye from wherever he’d been. But then, he always looked like that. Seeing the bruise on Kay’s face, he asked, “What did the doctor say?”

  Kay figured that Sylvia or Anna had told him what had happened to her. “He said to take a couple ibuprofen when my head hurts. I’m okay. Am I going to have a problem with the cops about the guy I killed?”

  “No. They’ve been told to drop the whole thing and call it self-defense.”

  “Who told them?”

  “People with enough weight to crush careers. When I found out who attacked you, I had to nip things in the bud. As far as the cops are concerned, you’re just a fair-haired girl with powerful connections and a scary lawyer, but they don’t have any real reason to think you murdered the guy.”

  “So who was he?”

  “We’ll get to that later. Right now, I want to know what the hell you’ve been up to. And don’t lie to me. I know you’ve been digging into the whole Afghanistan fiasco.”

 

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M. A. LAWSON SERIES:

  • Agent Kay Hamilton
  •