I KILL RICH PEOPLE 2, page 48
“I am not signing up for this,” Dilip whined from the middle seat. “I am a software engineer!”
“Don’t be naïve,” Miller growled, glaring back through his one open eye before shouting into Nussbaum’s right ear.
“Start the fucking car! Listen, geeks. Your clean fingernails don’t mean anything. You’re in this and you’ve been well-paid for it.
“Drive,” he ordered Nussbaum. “Go out the parking lot and turn left.”
The fire engines passed them going in the opposite direction. Miller sighed and calmed down to a focused, level pitch. “The freeway entrance will be coming up on the left, three blocks ahead. Get on 95 South. Slow and steady. Don’t speed.”
Miller’s phone buzzed and lit up in the dark car. The new text read: 95 to 78W. 12m. More to follow. SCP. (Secure communication protocols.)
“What’s it say?” Stephen demanded as the three rear passengers strained to see.
“I’m having anxiety,” Dilip insisted. “I don’t belong in this. I have a 1st from IIT Chennai! I am waiting on acceptance for my master’s degree!”
“Shut up!” Miller snarled back at the software engineer. “Just f-ing shut up!”
Stephen was calculating alternatives even as he constantly checked the rearview mirror for the police lights he expected to see behind them at any second. Bishop flew to Thailand. Was that what they really expected them to do? I can’t just up and disappear, he told himself. He had two new apps in beta. Could he coordinate everything online?
“I want to get out!” Dilip demanded. He tried to climb over Dale’s lap to get near the door.
Dale shoved him back to the middle and Kip raised his knees instinctively to corral Dilip’s panicked shifting.
“We’re going at sixty miles an hour,” Kip told Dilip. “I’m with you, but you have to chill, dude.”
Miller’s phone buzzed again. This time he made the point to hold it close to his chest, away from probing eyes. Follow directions to Reservation. Yellow boat hull at top of driveway. Barn 300m in. CCX en route.
Miller read it twice. The inside of his mouth felt suddenly dry. CCX. Collection crew-deceased.
“What’s it say now?” Stephen wanted to know.
“We’re going to a transfer location,” Miller, said, coughing to get the words out. He shifted in his seat to try finding a comfortable position. “Fifteen minutes,” he told them.
They turned off the highway onto the Indian reservation, where the only light came from the car’s headlights and a few dim houses off away down long dirt driveways; no stores, not a single streetlight.
“Turn in here,” Miller told Nussbaum. Twigs crackled under the tires as they turned past the wrecked shell of a fishing boat.
Stephen stopped the car. “What is this place?” he asked Miller.
“How many cameras have seen this car?” Miller countered. “We’re dumping it,” he told them, pointing toward the old barn in the dim distance at the edge of the beams.
“A van is coming,” he added as Stephen continued toward the weathered building. He didn’t say for what.
“I’ll wait in the car,” Dilip whimpered.
“Me too,” Kip agreed.
“Get out and open those doors up,” Miller told Stephen. “They can wait in the car.” Better in the car. He looked around him, quickly realizing that they could bolt twenty feet into the black darkness and be gone. Nothing he could do about it.
“I don’t think so,” Stephen said, refusing.
“We don’t have time for this,” Miller hissed. He reached over, turned off the engine, and jerked out the car keys. “Open those doors,” he repeated. “I’ll get a flashlight.”
When he opened the passenger door, Stephen opened the driver’s side door and followed around to the back of the car. Dale also got out.
Kip and Dilip still sat frozen in the backseat.
“Why not use the headlights?” Stephen asked suspiciously.
“Go turn them on.”
Stephen didn’t move. He watched in the darkness as Miller raised the trunk lid. Miller felt along the upper edge inside the trunk’s left side well, patting into the black hole until his hand was around the weapon and the flashlight both.
He brought the flashlight out first, scanning it toward Stephen and Dale. “Come on out,” he told the two techs, shining the flashlight onto them through the rear window. “We need to wipe down this car.”
The flashlight was in Miller’s left hand. Stephen spotted the object gripped in his right. “Stay put,” Stephen told Kip and Dilip in open defiance.
“Why the gun?” Stephen asked quietly. “We’re in this together! Cullen knows you more than he knows any of us.”
Miller began to hyperventilate. He couldn’t help it. He had assigned a thousand kills; this was the first time he’d had to do the shooting on his own. It was intimidating, but undeniably stimulating, too.
“Detective Lieutenant Cullen knows Miller,” he announced. “My name’s not Miller.”
Nussbaum’s reply stunned him. “We know that, Leonard,” Stephen said. “You’re Leonard Korn. Born in Tempe, Arizona. Mesa Community College and BYU. Communications major. 3.44 GPA. Don’t go bragging about being a professional killer. You were the first thing I checked on the system.”
Stephen got in Miller’s face. “I’m a data guy! You think I wouldn’t build an insurance file? What? You think we’re idiots? Your face, your fingerprints, your DNA, a log of everything we know about you, about Jeffers, and about Jonathan Spencer, is sitting on the cloud. Unless I log in to stop it, the file distributes automatically. You’ll be all over the news wires at 8:01 a.m.”
He turned back to the other techs. “Dale, you get back into the car. Leonard, I’ll take back those car keys. Now!”
“Oh my God,” Dilip exclaimed. “I have to pee!”
Stephen’s knees shook. He expected a bullet was about to kill him. In the rearview mirror he could make out Miller’s face lit by the cell phone. Miller was urgently punching his finger at the screen as Stephen sped up the dark driveway.
Dale pounded on the dashboard as the four of them passed the boat hull and Stephen accelerated toward the freeway. “That was so fucking badass!”
Madison Avenue was closed to traffic until after 11 p.m. Owen watched from inside the back seat of a squad car as K-9 units and bomb squad vans pulled away. The commanding officer of the paid unit detail remained on the sidewalk, pointing his finger at the assistant chief, commanding officer of the detective unit, and arguing with the assistant chief of patrol borough Manhattan North, whose captain of the 19th had been the first other officer on scene.
“You don’t tell me to come along,” the Paid Unit captain argued. “I take orders from the chief, the commissioner, and the mayor, not you! Don’t put this clusterfuck on my guys!
“What do you want my guys to do, ignore emergency orders coming from a gold medallion? Nobody is laying this on Paid Unit Detail. This is on you. Suspension doesn’t change anything; Cullen’s your guy! He called the fucking Level Three.”
The Assistant Chief of Detectives rode in to One Police Plaza in the front passenger seat. Owen sat like a suspect in the back seat behind the cage. The assistant chief looked out the windshield without engaging while they were driven south toward police headquarters.
Word had already come to the assistant chief that the department spokesman had 50 reporters waiting for a statement.
Seven hundred officers, five aviation units, counterterrorism, shutting down traffic to a quarter of the Upper East Side, causing the cancellation of one of the biggest charity events—what was he going to say? “Whoops?” Or just, “Sorry”?
Nobody spoke in the police garage or in the elevator, either. The hallway went
It was 11:30 at night, but the room was packed with more senior officers than Owen had ever seen in one place. The Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence was at the head of the huge table. Behind him were two aids wearing earpieces and carrying tablet computers. Owen’s bureau chief of Intelligence, the chief of the Counterterrorism Bureau, the chief of the Internal Affairs Bureau, the commanding officer of the Real Time Crime Center were seated on both sides of him. At least six other senior department officers were distributed around the table. The captain of the 19th Precinct stood mid-table on the opposite side.
“Detective Lieutenant,” the Deputy Commissioner began. He had already been there for two hours, waiting and readying himself to grind Owen to a pulp. “I’ve been around here thirty years and I still have fingers and toes left to count the Level Three alerts over my career. I didn’t see any planes hitting towers. I don’t recall any hurricane. So explain what motivated you to damage the reputation of the New York City Police Department? You just cost this city hundreds of thousands of dollars. More importantly, you scared the crap out of half this city! Plus what happens the next time there is a real emergency? How many people will ignore warnings because of what you did? People may well die because of you!”
One of the aids leaned in to whisper into the Deputy Commissioner’s ear. “Well why the hell was he on duty?” the Deputy Commissioner reacted sharply.
“He has been on unpaid medical leave,” the chief of the Intelligence Bureau responded, anticipating the question. “Detective Tremaine Bull was his partner. Dimitri Vosilych?”
“I know who Bull is,” the Chief barked back. “What the hell was he doing running up and down Madison Avenue with his Lieutenant’s medallion calling in a goddamned Level Three if he’s on leave?”
The Deputy Commissioner stared down the Intelligence Chief then shifted his glare toward the Captain of the 19th, who shrugged and raised both open palms; the detective had nothing to do with the 19th division.
The Commanding Officer of Detectives offered a symbolic defense, reluctantly suggesting that this was a briefing, not a disciplinary hearing. “Detective Lieutenant Cullen ought to be heard, and if he needs to defend himself, he should have ample time to get representation and to prepare.”
“There are over a hundred reporters out there and after I leave here, I’m going to be on the hook to brief the Commissioner of Police and the mayor of New York. So thank you, Assistant Chief, for the procedural niceties, but let’s get back to what the hell is going on,” the Deputy Commissioner said. “Detective Lieutenant, are you on unpaid medical leave?”
“Why are you on unpaid medical leave?”
“IAB interviewed the Detective Lieutenant’s immediate superior, Deputy Commissioner,” explained the Chief of Internal Affairs. “There was an altercation between the Detective Lieutenant and the new partner assigned to him. The other detective declined to file on the event, but was himself out a half-day following the altercation and was seen wearing a protective nose bridge. Detective Lieutenant Cullen was placed on paid leave for a period of four weeks and that leave was extended for an additional four weeks, unpaid.”
“So he popped his partner.”
“Sir,” the Assistant Chief of Detective interrupted. “We need to cut this off. If formal charges are proffered, none of this statement may be admissible.”
The Deputy Commissioner shouted: “I don’t need a department lawyer right now, Assistant Chief. You said your piece, now sit the fuck down!”
“Why did you do this?” he growled, spitting straight into Owen’s face when his words came out.
“There is no Dimitri Vosilych,” Owen blurted. “Jonathan Spencer killed my partner. Jonathan Spencer attacked Sands Point and Central Park West and Mamaroneck. He shot a boat out from under us on the Hudson. He was captured at Citi-Field and held in a special security prison from which he escaped almost a month ago. I was hired to locate him and kill him. Me, a CIA operative named Miller, and Stephen, Dilip, Kip and Dale, the four technology guys. We were in D.C. first, working for a man named Bishop. Then Bishop was let go because there was an attack in West Virginia that went bad. Spencer killed six commandos and brought down their helicopter. The client moved us to North Bergen. We were tracking Spencer from there. That’s how we found out about he was planning to attack the Whitney.”
“Christ!” the Deputy Commissioner griped. “And Martians are landing in Central Park!”
Everyone at the table suddenly imagined the shit storm that was about to rain down. The Deputy Commissioner motioned toward the chief of the Intelligence Bureau, and the captain from the 19th.
“Take him upstairs. You keep him the hell away from those reporters. They hear this cockamamie BS and this city will be paying out millions,” he warned.
As his chief rose and the two men approached him, Owen looked around the room, searching for someone to believe him. “Sir, I was doing my duty! I was saving those people! He’s out there! But they don’t want a celebrity trial. They don’t want to give publicity to ‘I Kill Rich People.’ You don’t understand! Jonathan Spencer is a trained killer, the best the Army had. You have to believe me! Somebody, believe me! Sir,” Owen stammered. “Sir, I can prove it. They’re right there! In Jersey. North Bergen. Right across the bridge. Sir, these guys have everything, surveillance like nothing you’ve ever seen. I just saw Donald Trump in his bathroom!”
The chief groaned. One of his aids had scanned IAB notes on Owen and leaned in close to whisper details. “Looks like depressive psychosis. Cullen could be manic. But he’s been refusing psych-counseling so no meds, no treatment.”
The chief threw his hands in the air. “Donald Trump in his bathroom,” he griped.
“Hell. Take him over to Jersey. Chase rainbows. Just keep him the hell away from those reporters. You hear me? Keep this nutcase away from those cameras.”
Spencer dragged an eight-foot section of scaffolding inside the storage container; he lowered it to the floor and then shut the metal door behind him before turning on the battery-powered lamp. He moved straight to the inside corner and lifted out the drag bag containing his Barrett. He carefully unzipped the tan canvas and hauled out the forty pounds of pure effectiveness. He took a long moment to admire it, the one sure companion that never let him down.
He hit the release, dropped the magazine, and admired the glinting reflection off the brass bullet, the 661-grain full metal jacket, before setting the full mag down and continuing the weapons-check routine. He had the Leupold scope inside a separate protective foam case that also had to be well hidden.
Spencer placed a flat sheet of cardboard on the metal floor and laid the Barrett on top of it and then folded the cardboard around the Barrett until nothing indicated it was a weapon. From the stock up past the pistol grip and all the way along the rail, he was going to have to carefully wrap every identifiable part inside the length of scaffolding.
He admired his work. The parts might plausibly be tools for floating sealant. There was no reason to think otherwise.
In case he was searched, he wasn’t going to risk that a police officer might feel the weapon. He especially didn’t want Vince to feel it. He knew that his actions would be costing Vince his job; killing the guy was the last thing that he wanted to do.
But he didn’t have to contrive a separate event because the city was already on edge. Something that happened on the Upper East Side had the entire city put on edge. Hundreds of policemen, reporters, helicopters; all of Manhattan was on high-alert. Even the news helicopters were being forced to hover outside a square mile of restricted airspace.
Spencer felt a
He lifted the heavy bundle and felt it for balance, then practiced stepping forward with the six-foot, fifty-five pound bundle held against his right armpit. His left hand had to be free to carry the five-gallon plastic bucket of roofing mastic with his ammunition.
He retrieved the mastic and set the bucket down, then put a tight grip on the tab and ripped away the plastic loop that kept the lid seated tightly. He caught his finger on the plastic, tearing out a nick that started bleeding. Exactly where the thorn had gotten him, he remembered. He sucked away the drip that was forming then made a fist to apply pressure. It didn’t work, so he tore away four inches of duct tape and wrapped the finger tightly until the bleeding stopped.
His plan was take the Leupold scope and the magazine and the semi-automatic pistol he was bringing, put them into Ziploc bags, and sink these into the mastic. He lifted the lid, and then placed it off to the side, being careful not to spill the sticky contents. Looking inside, he recognized the weakness in his plan and became frustrated with himself for overlooking the obvious—the contents would overflow, plus he was going to need to fish his tools back out while he was inside the tent.
He powered up a cell phone and checked the time. It was nearing 02:30. By his calculations, Spencer determined that he was going to need to unwrap his Barrett, load up, set the Leupold, tape it to the scaffolding, and then wrap everything up all over again in ten minutes or less. Having done it once, he hoped he would be faster the second time.