I KILL RICH PEOPLE 2, page 13
Tremaine’s entire body heaved, his one arm trembling as his elbow held against the strain of 500 pounds dangling over the forty-five foot drop onto the concrete stairs below.
“You ain’t pulling up nobody,” Tremaine huffed. “You going to run.”
Spencer reached out and hooked his fingertips into the cop’s eye socket to get purchase to pull himself up. He heaved and made headway. His face was now pressed into Tremaine’s back. He brought up his leg and wedged the point of his shoe inside Tremaine’s belt.
At the edge of section 338 above them, Bishop’s second man saw the opportunity and acted upon it. He emerged out of the section tunnel and rushed down the stairs.
Tremaine’s arm curled around the railing, trembling but holding fast. Bishop’s man spun to position himself then lifted his leg. He aimed for the point of Tremaine’s elbow. The side kick snapped the humerus and the trochlear notch.
Stephen’s mouth dropped open. The shooter and the witness were dispatched onto the concrete below. Tremaine and Spencer both fell.
Problem solved. Stephen reversed the recording and watched again. His knees shook beneath the table.
The whole fight lasted twenty seconds.
The detective’s body still lay there, shattered. “You were a good man,” Bishop murmured. He didn’t order it, but the death was on him. He was going to have to carry it.
Bishop placed the call to Jeffers. “We have him,” Bishop reported. “Positive identity.
I had a team following the NYPD detective. The NYPD detective-sergeant was killed in a fall. Spencer is unconscious. He’s more dead than alive.”
Jeffers was very pleased with the news. “Well done, Sheriff. Dimitri Vosilych and a dead hero, too. The villain’s dead and no witnesses. Well done.”
The detective really is a ‘dead hero’, Bishop thought. You sonofabitch. All you care about is having your Vision Partners back to business as usual. God help anyone who steps in the way.
The helicopter swooped over the center field scoreboard, coming in hot. Bishop’s contractors were running to meet it. The helicopter touched down, its load was tossed inside, and it lifted off again moving over the East River off Rikers Island.
He watched the copter getting smaller. Nine minutes out, the helicopter would be over the Bight. Bishop imagined Spencer dumped a thousand feet into the Atlantic, where the currents and the fishes would erase every trace.
Bishop’s job was done, he thought. Right then he was about ready to be done with Jeffers, the APA, the Vision Partners and everything to do with them.
On to finding a new engagement, he thought. Cash flow is good, but there is more to life than money.
A freeway roared inside Spencer’s skull. He opened his eyes to a gray uniformity that felt different from eyesight, a monotone where nothing would focus into any shape that he could comprehend. He lifted his hands in front of his face, brought them close, then pushed them away, turned them over and repeated until and felt intensely dizzy from the effort. He tried to roll over onto his stomach, failed, and passed out. His last thought was that he could not feel his lower half.
The monotone gray remained when pain reawakened him. He felt piercing inside the hinges of his jaw, but the source was hidden beneath hip to ankle plaster casts anchoring his lower body to the plywood platform inside the windowless concrete cell.
You let yourself be captured.
North Corona, Queens, NYC.
“Do you really need another beer that fucking bad?” Callie squealed. She sent Liam and Casey over to Shelley’s house until Owen stopped the drinking. His eyes were crimson, bloodshot from the crying and the booze.
He ignored her, sitting on the couch. He was transfixed by the same CNN report they had already watched a half-dozen times.
“Tremaine was my friend, too, O.”
He hadn’t showered or shaved since Tremaine’s funeral service. Now, he smelled so rank that there was no way she was letting him touch her, which was better anyway. Sex is no magic eraser.
Later in the day, after the beer supply was gone, he had another tantrum. This time Owen yanked on the refrigerator door hard enough to flip over the fridge, which obliterated Casey’s high chair on the way down.
“It was an accident,” he said.
“Don’t leave! Jesus! Get your butt back here, Owen Cullen, and help pick this thing up! You’re being a fucking a-hole,” Callie screamed. “There’s milk all over the floor!”
But Owen wasn’t listening. There was CNN again. The same reporter, shivering in front of a crumbling Soviet-era building.
“This Eastern Bulgarian village of muddy tracks and single-room shelters was the home of Dimitri Vosilych,” the reporter narrated. “The Muslim loner who entered the United States on a tourist visa and shot down two dozen Americans before he could be stopped.
“If you listen, we can hear now as the young boys inside this madrassa memorize Koranic verse. Earlier this afternoon, I interviewed the former headmaster of this school where Dimitri Vosilych was an instructor in Sharia law.”
Owen sucked down a long slug of the whiskey. A wizened old man in a skullcap spoke softly in an unintelligible language and shook his head in denial. The old man waved his hand backwards to emphasize the long distance between the village and anything Dimitri Vosilych had done.
[Translation] “This was a person employed here years ago. I don’t know anything. I thought he was dead.” He shook his gnarled hand close to the camera lens. “We have no guns here. No violence. We know nothing about this man. He has no friends here.”
“Bullshit!” Owen shouted at the television.
Dansk had him out on a mandatory one-week paid leave. More bullshit. Tremaine’s weapon was empty. Did Dansk explain that? No! How could she?
“Citi-Field is our territory! Why no NYPD forensics? Huh? Why is the Department letting everybody else handle the crime scene investigation?” Owen asked nobody aloud.
More empty boots in the stirrups on the TV as Tremaine’s public funeral replayed.
“Tee never rode a horse his whole life!”
“Owen!” Callie screamed around the kitchen door. “Get your boney ass off that couch and help me! I can’t lift this alone!”
“Fucking bullshit!” Owen snarled. “Where are the bullets? If they’re not in Vosilych’s dead body, where are they? They didn’t disappear in center field!” But the autopsy report was classified and he couldn’t find answers to his questions.
“The guy has feet, doesn’t he? Are they size thirteen? Bullshit! What happened to Master Sergeant Jonathan Spencer? How did you rule him out as a suspect, Commander Christiana? Explain that to me because I’m a little slow on the uptake! Why? On what basis? Even if this guy Vosilych is real, why can’t there be more than one shooter? Huh, Dansk? What do you say to that, Blondie?”
He had asked Dansk right to her face: “The whole city turns out for Tee’s funeral; dress blues, salutes and NYPD moves on? That’s it?” Why the fuck was she moving this along so fast?
Owen knew he should drop it. He could shut up, play ball, get through the captain’s exam and look forward to another brass bar. His own precinct. But his Irish was up and there was no getting away from it.
“Tee was my best friend,” Owen muttered. He took another long slug from the bottle, knowing full well that he could never “play it smart.”
After the helicopter banked west toward Connecticut, Bishop heard nothing more from APA or Carlton Jeffers for five weeks. Now, while Jeffers briefed him, Bishop sensed that something had shifted. Jeffers was offering him cold bottled water and acting almost chummy.
“Dimitri Vosilych was the right product at the right moment,” Jeffers explained. “A Chechen-trained Muslim terrorist from B
Killer marketing, Bishop thought, pun intended but left unsaid. Vosilych was dead, gone, and forgettable. He was already “that guy.” Most Americans probably couldn’t pronounce the name, much less remember it. Here was another Muslim commie foreigner coming after the number one nation in the world.
The Oswald look-alike piece was brilliant finesse. Jeffers had Emerson Elliot off the air and only a 9% polling share was still calling the killings “Justified.” The last dying ember of the far left.
All that for under $1 million, Bishop speculated. APA had probably parleyed the shootings into $100 million at the last Vision Partners gathering.
“I had 2,500 fully-armed private contractors onto the streets of New Orleans thirty hours after Hurricane Katrina hit the city,” Jeffers went on, bragging about another one of his closeted successes.
“Leave others to take the credit. That’s the secret to longevity, stroking huge egos. But I get to choose the golden words coming from thousands of voices every single morning. Me.”
Jeffers extolled. “It’s an iceberg, this great nation of ours. Ninety percent is below the surface.” He was ebullient; problem solved, the brothers had nothing to criticize. The boil was lanced and drained without a single further public mention. In fact, he had every reason to expect a lot of mileage down the road coming from their recent handiwork. Mission completed.
It felt strange; Bishop wasn’t prepared for this wholly different side to Jeffers. This Jeffers was engaging, charismatic even.
“Congratulations,” Bishop replied cautiously. “It’s been a while,” he reminded Jeffers. “Not a word in five weeks.”
“You were paid, weren’t you?”
“Yes. The funds were wired. Thank you.”
“No need to thank me. You earned it.”
First the bottle of ice cold Fiji water. Then a compliment? Bishop watched as Jeffers swayed side to side in his high-backed leather chair. He looked like a cobra.
“I have your shooter,” Jeffers announced smugly. He scrolled down a menu, clicked, and asked, “I want you to question him.” like he was God parting the clouds to have a look down at the mortals.
“You what?” Bishop exclaimed. From the way that Jeffers was acting, Bishop expected something, but not Jonathan Spencer. That didn’t compute. In his head, that case was closed.
“Spencer is alive?”
“He’s alive and safely locked away from prying eyes.”
What Jeffers was saying still didn’t compute. “APA has a prison?” Bishop questioned.
“No,” Jeffers instructed. “APA doesn’t own prisons. We hold no direct industrial interests of any kind. But amongst our membership we include every major stockholder in corporate incarceration.
“Incarceration is a growth industry,” Jeffers continued. “We, APA, provide the meld between public interest and private capital. APA members now run cost-efficient prison facilities for 180,000 prisoners in eleven states. Forty thousand of that population is federal. At any given moment, these facilities hold 15,000 prisoners in segregated confinement. That affords plenty of room for some to slip, or to be slipped, through the cracks. In select instances where applying standard procedure runs against the interests of the government sector, like this case, corporate incarceration participates with federal and state leaders to overcome systemic flaws.”
Bishop was listening hard, but still failed to fully comprehend. “Spencer is alive? The sniper is your prisoner?”
“He is. Alive, stabilized, and physically ready for interrogation.”
Jeffers summarized his proposition succinctly. “Think of this as research. We have contained a germ. That germ represents a virus, which we intend to eradicate to prevent even the most remote future possibility of any epidemic. Our role is to contain the contagion, to extract information from the perpetrator, to download him, for lack of a more illustrative descriptor, and to circumspectly dispose of the threat. The United States Government is ineffective in every one of these critical functions. We, therefore, act as the responsible functionary. Public-private partnership.
“Jonathan Spencer no longer officially exists. Technically, according to the Department of Defense database he has never existed. Which leaves us with a non-existent parasite unequivocally at our full disposal.
“You get a new contract, we gain valuable information, and we close that chapter after we’re done with him,” Jeffers explained.
Bishop could still not fully embrace the information. It was supposed to be his operation, but Jeffers left him in the dark? “When did you decide all this?” he asked.
“The opportunity was there,” Jeffers answered. But he had not answered at all.
“I hired the operatives, the helicopter,” Bishop pressed back.
Jeffers’ eyes widened. The swaying ceased. “Who paid the freight? You? You have a problem, you say so! I must be functioning under the misimpression that you want the work.”
“No,” Bishop admitted. “No, it’s all good.”
“Multiple fractures, both legs,” Jeffers said finally, after a long pause. “He was severely concussed. Some internal bleeding and I believe his spleen was removed.” Jeffers tapped his keyboard, read something, and then nodded. “Yes, spleen.”
He dismissed all of that with a wave of his hand. “Bishop, I’m inclined now to agree with your one shooter thesis. NSA has not picked up a peep of chatter in five weeks. Seems that no matter how much they hate our guts, the Chinese, the Russians, the Arabs… nobody out there wants loners gunning for people who matter.”
He took a sip and began again. “Having said that I’m inclined to agree, I am not officially authorized or prepared to draw that conclusion. We have him at our full disposal. Names, addresses, methods for any and every support resource he had, who else is involved, how they are organized, what are their objectives, how are they financed, what is their target selection process, what else do they have planned. We own him; we gather the data! Some of our membership are fixated on just desserts, but my experience on Arcadia notwithstanding, I prefer to think in terms of forfeiture. This germ murdered at least two dozen innocent men and women; when he did that, he forfeited all rights as a human being.”
“Nobody in government wants to know anything about this, of course,” Jeffers continued. “We’ll call it ‘mutually beneficial deniability.’ The federal government is required to observe legal conventions. We, however, are not constrained by any court of law. There is no Eighth Amendment here; no conventions about cruel or unusual punishments. Mr. Bishop, from now until his casts come off, you are free to do whatever it takes to download him. But one proviso. Keep it PG-13. No visible marks. Nothing permanent, anyway. After the casts come off, Master Sergeant Jonathan Spencer becomes a statistic—one more soldier suicide.”
Bishop tried to take it all in. He had never been taken in by Dimitri Vosilych, but that Jonathan Spencer was being held outside the justice system inside a private prison facility forced him to recalibrate. He was being brought into the fold and Jonathan Spencer was alive but still a dead man walking. Except Spencer couldn’t walk.
The Fiji water. The money.
“Do you have a problem with any of this?” Jeffers demanded. “I personally nominated you for the role.”
“Not at all,” Bishop responded quickly. “I’m here to serve Americans for Patriotic Action.” Integrity is a luxury I can’t afford.
“Just as I thought.”
“Where’s Dansk?” Owen demanded. He strode into Intel Division’s Headquarters in The Bunker without noticing the change in big red letters right at the top of the white board.
Owen looked at Allen’s hand and shook the hand automatically. Who this person was and why he was behind Christiana Dansk’s desk was another matter. He paused, still watching Allen’s eyes. “What happened to Dansk?” he asked.
“She’s private sector now. That’s all I know,” Allen said. “I’m glad that you came by, Owen. Grab a chair. I’ll be commanding Intel Division. I’m hoping to rely on you lieutenants to get me up to speed. Came over from four years at 1 Police Plaza.”
Owen balanced on the edge of the seat and stared at his new boss before pulling several folded sheets of yellow legal paper out of his jacket and smoothing them on the desktop.
“This thing stinks,” he griped.
“Of course it stinks,” Allen agreed. “I can’t imagine losing a partner. You take as much time as you need. I didn’t mean you need to begin helping me right this minute. When you’re ready, we’ll look together at all the candidates. Nobody is going to shove anyone new down your throat. I’ll value your input in the selection process to begin the next chapter.”
“I’m talking about the case report!” Owen argued, raising his voice and drawing looks from outside the glass door. “How come Tremaine’s body was at Citi-Field but then the perp gets flown away by helicopter?” he demanded. “Why was that?”
Owen’s confrontational style took his new boss aback. “Vosilych was still breathing. He died en route to the ER,” Allen reminded Owen.
“Tremaine’s weapon was emptied. I went and looked over that area myself, spent a whole day, and I didn’t see a single hole in a seat or a chip in the cement or anything like a ricochet or a slug. So you tell me how, after firing every chamber, does this little guy take a 300-pound detective sergeant built like a brick shithouse over the railing? Where’s the autopsy report? If this guy has size thirteen feet and six bullets in him, tell me and I’ll shut up.”