I KILL RICH PEOPLE 2, page 42
“Not at the auction house,” Miller countered. “He was sixty-one feet from the nearest victim.”
“You do your homework,” Owen observed, “so you know he’s not going after Jews.”
“Touché. So what else?”
“Perhaps we should consider targets based on degrees of visual security,” Dilip suggested. “If he is choosing, why would he not opt for the lowest security values? He might avoid anything we have covered.”
“Hello?” Nussbaum interrupted. “And how would he know coverage matrices? Exclude targets based upon that assumption and we might as well exclude the entire city. Manhattan is out for sure.”
Owen zeroed in on Phillip Black’s birthday gala; the description sounded eerily reminiscent of Morris Levy’s party at Sands Point. Black, running the most successful M&A firm in America, was throwing himself a black tie bash at his six-acre Scarsdale estate, which was currently listed for sale at $12,500,000 and included a three-story library and gallery, “Italianate Gardens,” two three-bedroom twin guest houses, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a Victorian tea house, an authentic scale version of London’s late Crystal Palace. According to the gossip blogs, insiders were already speculating about the menu; catering was to be under the supervision of Marcel Sert, whom Black was flying in on a private jet from his eponymous Michelin three-star Right Bank restaurant for the event.
Owen cut and pasted the selection to a Word document. Nobody seemed impressed at his computer skills.
Four hours later, Owen’s head was exploding. He had drilled down to nine high-value targets and was only beginning to get into the second week moving forward.
“Fucks sake,” he kept cursing. The ten thousand dollars lying six feet from his grasp seemed to be getting farther and farther away.
He handed the nine high-value targets to Dilip and Kip, who looked over the list together. Kip’s nervous tic reflected Owen’s uncertainty. The last series of attacks averaged six days apart. At that rate, the data avalanche was going to drown him.
Miller, meanwhile, had sourced multiple commando squads and was vetting those available for hire. Two were comprised of retired 1st SFOD Delta Force F members, both contracting through a retired Joint Special Operations Command army colonel. Miller considered submitting his own clearance, then decided against registering any presence in the systems.
“Can you get me inside?” he asked Nussbaum.
“Don’t need to,” Stephen explained. In several keystrokes, he walked Miller straight in through NSA’s back door.
Miller focused his attention on reviewing dossiers of domestic and international operators along with their mission histories: hostage rescues and hostile extractions, limited strike-force fixed-target eliminations, opposition command-structure disruption. Assembly and deployment were guaranteed on-site inside sixteen hours within the contiguous lower 48 states. Six national distribution centers. In-house MH-6 helicopters available at each center.
A half-page list of standard materiel was included in the base pricing; a six-page menu of optional large ordinance and missiles was attached as an addendum along with transportation add-ons and replacement fees due as a front-end deposit, refunded if unused. A retail army.
Israeli squads comprised of Mosad and Sayaret were available in San Diego and Ft. Lauderdale. Their emphasis and productivity clearly slanted toward fixed-facility work. Miller recognized several of their claimed successes; work at refineries, power plants, and server centers that had been accomplished without any hint of their involvement. But Delta, ex-Delta, was the better fit for Americans for Patriotic Action, Miller decided. Fee-clarity and guaranteed deployment turn-around times helped seal the decision.
“Okie-dokie. Let’s get us some firepower.”
Screen colors reflected onto Spencer’s face inside the dark storage container. He scanned through the social calendar websites he kept bookmarked; the laptop still had enough power to turn on and connect, piggybacking onto the web through a half-dozen unprotected Wi-Fi connections in the trailers. He also scanned articles written after each attack. That was how he learned, for the first time, the black detective’s name. Detective Sergeant Tremaine Bull. But not a single article mentioned how Bull got there not once, but twice? Nothing explained why he let go.
“I would have pulled you up! Why did you let go? To kill me? To protect billionaires? Would they ever die for you?” Spencer moaned. “I would have pulled you up.”
Spencer looked over the array of potential targets; even more than before Sands Point: charity functions, birthdays and anniversaries; events by the dozens every day, in hotels, country clubs, and private homes.
Did it achieve anything? He hadn’t pushed over any dominoes. The rich didn’t spontaneously start falling. Nothing spread at all, just a few embers that drifted and died out.
Nobody had stepped up to carry the cause. Dimitri Vosilych was dead and gone. As soon as the all-clear sounded, the rich had re-emerged in their tuxedos and designer clothes and went right back to their parties.
“I sparked a bad tattoo on your neck,” he groaned. “And if I never showed up, you would be alive now.”
Push it down!
Shifting amongst targets could make it harder on law enforcement to stop him, but there were no sustainable strategies left.
“They have my name, my face, my DNA.” Kevlar couldn’t save his ass. He had one mission left, maybe two, before they closed in on him. That was what he could rationally hope to accomplish. What he couldn’t figure out was why was there nothing on the radio? How could thousands of police officers have his name and description and keep that secret?
“And how does that connect to Dimitri Vosilych?” he wondered. Ok, he thought, they violated my rights. But if that ever came out in the news it would be a hiccup, not an earthquake.
Captain Sam was right; the snakes were connected… like that monster with all the snakes coming out of her head. The one you couldn’t look at without turning into stone.
Money was the real connection, money beyond anything they could spend in ten lifetimes.
A bomb would go much further, take more of them out at one time; he recognized that. With a bomb he could strike more deeply. But that’s not who a sniper is, not what a sniper does, not what he would ever do. He could not bomb Vision Partners into oblivion.
“You’re a sniper, not some bomber scumbag. You set your aim and you kill who you aim for. A clean way to kill, a clean way to die.”
He returned to the laptop, virtually walking along Google Maps, taking in street views along Park Avenue and Central Park West. Just two Manhattan residential structures, two buildings with a few dozen units apiece, held more net worth than half the nations on Earth.
He imagined the billionaires, each seated on the top of pyramids of grain, miles and miles high. Grain enough to feed the world, more grain than they could ever possibly consume, and all of it spoiling while they hoarded it beneath them.
The image surprised him. Satisfied him, too. He had never thought about it in that way, not until that precise moment.
“I won ten thousand dollars.”
“You what?” Callie screeched. “How did you do that?”
He wanted to keep the secret, but what was the point? “I want to buy you the diamond, Cal. I want to start off fresh and do it right this time.” Owen fanned the edge of the bills and looked at them. He still couldn’t believe it. “I’m making real money.”
“Slow down, Owen. You’re getting way ahead of yourself.”
“I’m in Jersey now, not far. A couple miles from the stadium.” A chill ran through him the minute the word came out his mouth. Stadium. “Cal, I want to see you and spend some time with the boys.”
“How did you suddenly get ten thousand dollars
“It’s a bonus. I’ll explain later. Let me spend it on you.”
“We’ll talk about that,” Callie said. “Next week. I’m away this weekend.”
Owen swallowed hard as she hung up the line. Suddenly, he needed to set the money down and step away from it.
Their task felt impossible. Owen pored through the target options, speculating over Spencer’s selection criteria and assigning weight to each one. He raised attention to anomalies, the Central Park shootings, the auction house. Not everything was a social event and Spencer’s next target certainly did not have to be one of those.
Ten thousand dollars didn’t change his reality or Callie’s; Owen recognized that, but he had a win in his column, his first win in way too long.
“He’s coming off two badly broken legs,” Owen reminded Miller. “He might decide to lay low.”
“You’ve seen the footage. He’s moving around just fine.”
Miller considered and rejected Owen’s thinking. “Spencer has no imagination,” he countered. “He takes orders. That’s what career sergeants do. You’re a lieutenant, right? Is it any different in the police department?”
The comparison annoyed Owen. “I came up through the ranks.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means that rank and IQ don’t correlate. Neither do service rankings. I’m a detective lieutenant; a navy lieutenant is like an army captain; in the department, a detective lieutenant is roughly equivalent to an army major.”
Miller wasn’t interested; Owen could see that his attention had already drifted away.
“Stephen, can you pull maps for each of these event locations?” Owen asked. He purposely turned his back to Miller.
“Get them up on the wall so I can visualize them.”
“Where are you going with this?” Miller wanted to know.
“Egress,” Owen answered him. “It’s easier getting in than getting out, but he always manages to escape. I want to eliminate locations that impede escape and see what we get.”
So far, what Owen knew about Miller is that the man hit the booze hard then switched it off instantly. Miller loved fancy food and liked his fancy words. He announced that he was a “Kill Manager” like that was a normal job. And he talked a hell of a lot more than he listened.
The word “stadium” still lingered in Owen’s head like a foul odor. That and Callie spending another weekend… with Doctor Marc?
“Well?” Miller wasn’t asking rhetorically after all. “Who does the thinking at NYPD?”
“Look, I’m not a spokesman for the department, ok? But we’re up against way too much here. I don’t care what sort of technology we’ve got; we can’t cover the Tri-State area with six people!”
“We’ll do precisely that; we’re blanketing from Queens to Jersey and north to Connecticut,” Nussbaum claimed. “You cops may be the face of law enforcement, but this software is the new brains and the backbone, too. I have 150 cameras for every law enforcement officer in the Tri-States Area; 500 cameras for every set of police eyeballs on duty, and that is only scratching the surface. I’m only starting to get the feel for what we have. There’s a protocol called Minerva here. DOD and NSA stuff, dealing with responses to internal terrorism and social upheaval. I’ve never seen anything like this except theoretical stuff. What we’re into here is real. We are only into tracking; the enterprise side of this interfaces with DOD drones and all sorts of futuristic scalability. If I’m right, and I’m pretty damned certain I am right, four people and this software can support national coverage. These capabilities make ‘feet on the street’ a meaningless anachronism.”
“For fucks sake,” Owen argued, “you can’t trust this to computers!”
Nussbaum and Miller seemed lost in their own imaginary worlds. “Miller, Spencer is going to attack and we’re going to be counter-punching,” Owen insisted. “We need manpower! There are 50,000 cops within fifty miles of this spot. You’re not utilizing them and you’re jeopardizing lives by keeping them in the dark!”
Miller smiled. “An hour ago you looked happy enough,” he told Owen cynically. “You get many $10K bonuses with NYPD?”
Spencer followed a Craigslist ad to a basement room inside a decrepit Victorian that was chopped into fourteen cash-only rentals. Paid by the week. The hard-luck housemates aside, the space was warm, when he turned on the shower water came out, and he could join shared Wi-Fi for $15.
Web maps and real estate sales information provided reams of information on the target location, everything from the other residents in the building to layouts of most of the units inside it. The place may have looked like any other pre-war Manhattan building, but behind the brass and glass doors, the simple understated awning, the classic marble surrounding the doorway and the air conditioners hanging out the windows, the building was a fortress. There was even a book written about the building and its famous residents. The richest one was reputed to regularly work the door staff harder than anyone else and gave just $15 dollars, begrudgingly, for an annual Christmas tip.
Their Park Avenue address was for early mornings and mid-week. They all had other residences. Spencer noted that. Early mornings. Mid-week.
He would have shot anyone who could afford to live there, but that strategy did no good. Spencer studied the face on the laptop monitor. “That’s a snake, Captain,” he murmured.
The real estate sites shared prices, layouts, and amenities. Whether it was described or just implied, every unit had internal security systems: alarms, reinforced entries, cameras, safe rooms. The building had no resemblance to Central Park West; these were not people who spared security costs. For all he knew, they could have evacuation tunnels with high-speed trains.
Impediments were everywhere. Their parking was hidden. Big trees in front interrupted sight lines.
“You need to get on-site,” he confirmed aloud. All the mapping software in the world couldn’t replace fundamental reconnaissance. “Put your boots on the ground.
“It has to have an emergency safety plan. How do I get it?”
An outline was starting to take shape. If he could get inside disguised as a first responder, he could freely mix in the stairwell and get out again to the street through the side door. But how many stairwells? What if they shut down the whole structure with him inside?
“No good,” he concluded. “Get them outside. Hit while they’re outside.”
He had to make them evacuate, on foot, to channel them to a location that he chose. He needed to keep them out of the garages.
“What’s your fire position?” he asked himself. “And how do you get out afterward?”
Spencer snapped vectors covering front of Park and 71st. Just one open convergence: the open terrace, seventh floor. There. Sight lines on Main and Side, functionally equidistant; range 120 meters, down angle from sixty-five feet elevation. Piece of cake provided they evacuated through either door.
“Wanna have a party?” a high raspy female voice interrupted him through his thin door. “Hey. I’m real good, baby.”
Spencer shut the laptop and put it on top of the stacked index cards, then froze and listened.
“Baby, I do it all. I mean everything.” After thirty seconds, she smacked the door with a resounding thwack. “Fuck you, man. You think I need you? Shit. I don’t need nobody.” Her voice trailed off down the dark hallway.
Spencer waited then went back to examining the street directions, the closest subway stations, alleys, and parks, everything that went into supporting survival. There were still plenty more snakes. But this one was a python squeezing the entire country.
“Got a hit!” Stephen shouted. “A copy/printing company in Yonkers.”
Owen knew the area. It was only tw
“I’ve got people I know on Yonkers PD,” Owen called toward Miller. It was Spencer, confirmed. He was calmly making color copies; the screen image was black and white, but with white paper all around for contrast, Spencer was clearly using a darker shade.
“I can call in a bench warrant!” Owen pleaded. Miller seemed detached, like he was in another world.
Why was he exposing himself just to make copies? Miller wanted to know. Color copies. When he was done at the self-service copier, Spencer took the four copies off the tray, pulled a thumb drive from the machine, and then walked to the cashier.
“He’s going to leave!” Owen argued. “We need to call Yonkers PD!”
“Show me visuals outside the store,” Miller barked over Owen. “Get them on the wall. Now!”
Kip displayed a map screen in the upper corner of the wall projection, centered on Saw Mill River Road, and then opened a one-mile outward radius. Thirty-eight active cameras showed, but just four exterior cams, traffic-monitors located at thoroughfares and highway entrances. Nothing that would display Spencer, his mode of transportation, or where he was headed.
“Shut up!” Miller snapped. “Nobody is calling PD. This is internal assets only. You are being well paid to keep this low-profile.”