I KILL RICH PEOPLE 2, page 46
He looked at his hands and in the craggy palm lines he saw the kid, the red Manchester United t-shirt. His dark head moving into line with his mother’s burqa when he shot. One shot, two heads.
“You did that,” he murmured. One great shot for Man, one fucked up evil for Mankind.
All the training, all the conditioning and planning and proficient execution. A hundred and sixty-five dead people. Not targets, people. One hundred and sixty-six, he corrected; he missed counting Stocky.
“Killing fifty or eighty or a hundred snakes might give the whole country a new start, Captain, but I’m one man. I can’t set a Controlled Burn, not alone,” he said aloud. “The rich can keep squeezing. I can’t change that. But I just might shut Vision Partners down. That’s something, Captain. I can try.”
After Stephen walked him through a short tutorial, Owen left the tablet screen set on the coordinates surrounding the Whitney and familiarized himself with the program. Each icon represented a different camera view.
Stephen tapped one of the buttons along the control bar. “This scrolls through all the cameras on the map view,” he explained. “Up here is the speed function to make it scroll faster or slower. If you move the cursor to a tighter area then hold down on the right click, you can spread whatever radius you want.” He demonstrated twice until Owen nodded.
“Got it.” Not that it lent him much confidence. He knew the area; too many places where Spencer could be.
“We need to narrow the field,” he told Stephen.
“Working on it,” Nussbaum replied. “You’ll have a lot more capability coming out of that tablet than anyone could ever have with feet on the ground.”
Owen was already focused on a slow scroll. He glanced into the corner of the screen and noticed that the icons on the map lit up to coincide with the camera feed.
Stephen picked up on Owen’s attention.
“I set it up so you can tie the view to the location,” he explained to Owen. “Not always easy.” He took the tablet and scrolled to a larger map scaled out to a mile radius, then pointed to a number at the lower left of the screen. “There’s 72,136 live feeds in that mile. I can handle looking at twenty before they all start to blend together. Fortunately, most of those are interiors. You can pull those up by going to the toolbar. They’re listed under References.”
“Take me back to the Whitney,” Owen snapped.
“No worries,” Stephen responded. “Move the cursor to the back arrow and tap. Or you can also shift to a street view; just put the cursor into the map and right-click.”
Owen cupped his hands beside his eyes to concentrate as the scroll moved through eighty exteriors. The shots didn’t blend together so much as they broke repeating categories. Most of the views were obviously set above doorways; the people moving in and out were dead giveaways. Others were on the transit grid, set above traffic. Owen stopped the scrolling and concentrated on an odd, brightly lit motion view. He watched for two full minutes before realizing he was viewing the inside of the New York City Sewer System.
He moved the cursor to the ticket office directly in front of the Whitney and restarted the scrolling from there. More doorways. Alleyway shots looking at dumpsters. More traffic along Fifth, Madison, Park, and Lexington. Owen stopped again, holding the feed on an odd down angle looking diagonally across a corner with a blurry visual onto the corner of a residential building. There was no other view quite like it. He shifted to the map to identify the location right when Miller shouted at him.
“Why are you still here? Traffic is going to be brutal. Get going!”
Owen moved out of the inner office toward the door, and then stopped before opening it. He reached up underneath the back of his jacket and came out with the 9mm in his hand, looked at it and dropped the clip, confirmed it was a full ten, then slid it back up into the magazine, where it seated with a reassuringly solid click.
One clip was not enough.
“Guys,” he called out to the four techs, “where’s the nearest gun store?” Then he realized he already knew a gun store nearby. He and Tremaine had gone through half the gun stores in North Jersey.
“The tablet is set up as its own mobile hotspot,” Stephen called behind him. “If that goes down, go to the toolbar, scroll down from Network, and select 4G.”
Owen bypassed the ticket lines by flashing his gold medallion. It felt good to be back on familiar streets, good to have his medallion hanging from the pocket of his jacket. He felt right, useful, a lot better than he had felt in months. The contrast startled him, showing him from the inside-out what a bitter pill he had been. Everything wasn’t on Callie; he knew that all along. But now he could feel it; he was back on the job, back to his old self. The billion cells throughout his body were renewed.
He trotted through the Whitney Museum carrying the GoPro camera that Kip had lent him. At the entry and every door in and out of the cavernous room where the auction was going to be held, he photographed outward, looking through the entry doors and out every window until two security guards walked toward him and quickly held up their hands to signal for him to stop.
“Sir, still photos only. I’m going to have to ask you to stop filming,” one said.
After Owen showed his shield a second time, the museum’s Chief of Security rushed out to give him the royal treatment. Owen’s back cracked as he straightened up to his full height.
The man seemed delighted to walk the Detective Lieutenant through their security arrangements; theft deterrence systems in place for every item on display, along with multiple cameras in each gallery. Special events? In addition to the chief and the full-time security staff, they supplemented with off-duty officers, all NYPD and Parks Police. Most of them had worked their events for years.
“Why do you ask? Is there something I need to know about?”
Owen deflected his response with another inquiry. He wanted to know about parking.
“We offer valet parking for evening events through a service,” the Chief of Security explained. “The formula is one valet per eight cars, roughly a valet for each thirty arriving guests. There is some foot traffic, then some multi-passenger cars and some solo-drivers, and guests arriving with drivers, of course. There’s guesswork, but the formula serves us well. We’ve used the same company for nearly three years; that allows us to add valets or subtract, as needed. More are needed after events since the guests all tend to leave at about the same time.”
Owen made a mental note of that disturbing observation. The entire guest list would be stacked up outside, under the lights like sitting ducks. He looked at the slender security manager and bit his tongue. The other man’s slim fit suit was definitely not hiding any weapon.
“Where do they park the cars?”
“68 East 80th or 35 East 75th. We contract with both garages.”
“Show me your roof.”
“You hard of hearing? The roof.”
They accessed the roof by interior stairwell; the door to the stairwell was tied to an alarm that could be bypassed only by entering a code onto an electronic pad. The security chief showed the security fob clipped onto the inside pocket of his jacket then discretely placed himself between Owen and the pad to keep the code from Owen’s view. He had to repeat the process at the top of the stairs to get onto the rooftop.
Both buildings from across Madison looked directly onto the Whitney’s street-level entrance. Owen scanned the exposure. “How do you secure this?” he asked himself. At least half a dozen buildings offered a direct line-of-sight.
As the security chief scrambled to answer, Owen realized he needed Gonzalez. Gonzalez would shoot a dozen holes through Miller’s thought process.
Looking over the edge to the ground level, Owen pictured a crowd being channe
Counting them one by one, it suddenly occurred to him that at least half the windows were fixed windows that couldn’t open. That was something. Miller’s assets needed night vision.
Would Gonzalez’s thermal imaging machine be able to tell at night when a window was open, he wondered?
Gonzalez had had his men out at Citi Field drilling and practicing for hours. What the hell was Miller thinking, that he could pick up snipers like day laborers and everything was just going to work out? Miller wasn’t a sniper. He didn’t get it. Look at what just happened in West Virginia. Bishop sent in commandos and Spencer killed them all.
Owen thanked the Whitney’s security chief then jogged outside at a fast trot, looking toward the highest point that he could see from the entrance. At the door to 23 East 74th, the fiftyish balding doorman looked apprehensive about opening until Owen pressed his medallion against the glass. “Roof,” was all he said, looking to the ceiling for emphasis.
The doorman swiped Owen into the elevator and swiped his identification again, pressing 18. “Sixteen floors, but no thirteen,” he explained. “Eighteen is the roof access. Hold on.” He ran back to his desk and returned with a rubber wedge. “You’ll want this. Don’t let the door close behind you.” Before the elevator doors shut, he reached inside to make them open again, asking Owen, “Should I dial 911 or do anything?”
“No. I need to look at your roof. That’s all.”
From the rooftop, Owen looked right down at the Whitney. From that acute angle he could only see the tops of heads. It didn’t feel right, not for shooting at anyone on the street. His eyes ran to rooftops lower, better placements for visuals on the Whitney entrance. Nearly every rifle shot he had made in his life was with a BB gun, but he found himself lifting as though he had a rifle in hand and aiming to one roof, then another, and another, and another, every single one a possibility. One of Millers’ snipers needed to be positioned exactly where he was standing. More had to be on the roof of the Whitney, scanning outward.
He came out shaking his head. “Jaysus. Who ya trying to kid there, boyo?” he could hear Eamonn calling him on this. Hundreds of targets bunched together under lights and Spencer in the dark with the choice of dozens of places.
It was overwhelming. Impossible. Like scanning an ocean for a single swimmer. He went into Via Quadronno to use the tablet to catch up with Miller and Nussbaum and absently ordered a coffee and the first sandwich on the chalkboard.
The waiter set down the cup then gave it a half-turn so that the handle was positioned perfectly. They both looked good. He realized how hungry he was but stared down at the creamy foam and the ham inside the fancy bread. He wished that he could just eat and drink without having his brain racing.
He sipped at the coffee, tasting the rich bitterness on his tongue and licking the creamy foam off his upper lip. The tablet sprang to life with six live views per page, every exterior view between 68th Street Station and 77th and between Fifth and Lex: looking out from residential entrances, street cams looking out to traffic, security cams covering retail door fronts; dozens upon dozens of views, so many that they made all the windows looking down to the Whitney seem digestible in comparison. He bit through the flakey crust into the salty, thick-sliced ham and scrolled through page after page as his tongue reached out to snatch back a gush of mustard dangling at the corner of his mouth.
Again, he had that feeling that he was missing something. What? He wished he could just talk it through with Callie. She was good at that, seeing the things he missed when he got into his head too much in a case.
A hundred thousand dollars would be amazing. Callie couldn’t ignore that, he told himself, picturing her reaction if he walked up to the door with it in both fists.
“But there is no way to do this,” he griped aloud. “People are going to die.”
He stuffed a huge bite into his mouth and tapped his fingers on his chest as he chewed through it like a masticating cow, then swallowed it all, choking it down when it came to him. At the auction house, Al had found a microphone that Spencer had put into a bouquet. What would keep Spencer from using a camera?
Nussbaum answered Owen’s call. “Is there any way to find out when the camera feeds came live?” Owen asked intently.
“That data point is inherently compromised,” Stephen told him. “These cameras are resetting constantly. I suppose we could deduce when a current feed initiated, but I doubt that it would be of any value.”
“Humor me. Call it a hunch.”
“’Humor you’? What do you think we do here twelve hours a day, longer even? Dale, one of my techs, is developing keywords to screen web traffic from Yonkers and every place north and south for ten miles. Right now, I have Kip identifying every use of mapping technologies for Manhattan from the same area. Can you imagine how many people are looking for a restaurant or mapping for a business appointment? Now I need to apply a filter for every search for the ten blocks around Whitney Museum. Humor you!” Stephen said sarcastically.
But a moment later, he called out begrudgingly: “Dale, take the area ten blocks around the museum and try to find out when the camera feeds went live.” There was a pause, and then Stephen responded to a question someone on the other end had asked: “How am I supposed to know? I have no idea why. You get to humor the lieutenant.”
Spencer knew that they wouldn’t be scouring the hills of West Virginia forever. They would find him eventually, whoever they were. What he did to them on the farm was just prolonging the inevitable. Killing one team was going to bring on more; the next time it would be better-trained units coming in wary. No used-up gimp was going to get through that a second time.
“You’re a dead man walking,” he acknowledged aloud. That was ok. He had gotten right with death a long, long time ago.
Sleeping in a stinking basement. Living on borrowed time. He flashed on the roof of the tower at Walter Reed. At least with suicide you control the time, the place, and the method. But suicide was a parasitic disease; he wasn’t letting it creep inside his ear and dig into his brain or let it swim up his dick hole and breed in his guts.
Suicide by cop? Going out in some blaze of glory? That was even more pathetic than curling up in the 4Runner, pushing a hose inside the tailpipe and huffing carbon monoxide.
If you’re doing it, just get it done. If he ever pulled the plug, he knew the method—a 661-grain brass jacket from a .50 BMG.
“Nobody is taking me. Not ever again,” he promised.
All the training, every jump, every desert, every action against superior force—white guys, black guys, Mexicans, kids straight out of high school, college graduates—warriors always had one thing in common: the ones who got through, the men who earned their patch, they would die before they would give up. No matter how hurt and how low and how fucked the situ gets, you don’t give up. You never give up!
He might make it north to the Saint Lawrence; he might find a way across to Canada. Then what, find an empty spot on some mountain and fight the elements instead of fighting people?
Canada. Right. Borders didn’t matter to the men who were coming after him. “People with their own prisons don’t care about borders,” he reminded himself.
Spencer looked over the fresh roll of fifty self-stick stamps, the black felt-tip marking pen, and the 3 X 5 lined index cards on the floor in front of him. He tried and couldn’t remember whether last time he had written it out in all caps.
“What the hell does the font matter when you don’t know what to say?” he scolded. What did it matter if he still couldn’t find the words?
KISS, he told himself. Keep It Simple, Stupid. But the more he wo
“What do I say?” he grumbled in frustration. “I’m an instrument of God?” That sounded like a schizophrenic hearing voices.
“God ain’t talking to you, Johnny Boy,” he told himself. “All you’ve got is raging tinnitus.”
Maybe I can just leave my thumbprint, he thought. But what would that do? Prove he existed? “Nobody is going to rush out for Jonathan Spencer tattoos.”
Emerson Elliot could do it again, Spencer thought. Speak to the city. Let people know that he was alive. Get the city agitated, get those rich people Park Avenue primed and ready to run for their lives. With all the radio stations and television and newspapers, Elliot was the only voice to look at why anyone would attack billionaires. Everyone else wailed about ‘leading citizens’ and how the city was losing its critical philanthropic leadership.
It took him fourteen calls, but Spencer stayed with it until he got through to the call-in line. An automated voice told him, “At the tone, clearly state the topic of your comments, then hold the line.”
“This is Bullets,” Spencer told the machine. “I’m back.”
Crazy Thumbs, Emerson Elliot’s producer, read the transcription and disconnected the line. “Not cool,” he said.
Spencer listened to the disconnected line, figuring that it must have been an error. Emerson Elliot had made “I Kill Rich People” into a media phenomenon.
He dialed again. Busy. He dialed again. This time he was luckier and got through.
“The prior call from this telephone number was screened and rejected,” the machine puked at him. “Thank you for listening to the Emerson Elliot Program.” Then it disconnected again. Spencer looked at the phone in disbelief.