Chapter XXII A few years ago
Al sat in the surveillance van waiting for her partner to return. A fresh graduate of the academy, she wanted to do a good job. People had invested time and effort in her to complete her training and she didn’t want to let anyone down. For the first time in her life, she felt the pull of other people guiding her life. She had never known that feeling of people depending on her before. Never in a million years would she have guessed the current path her life was on but now that it was on that path, she was going to make the most of it. Maybe now she would find a place she belonged. Maybe even a home, if such things existed for girls like her. But first things first, this was her first assignment and she was not going to fail. She absolutely would not allow herself to fail.
Her partner, David Martinez, had briefed her all morning. He didn’t try and hide his irritation at training a rookie. But it would take more than his gruff exterior to deter her. She was used to people barking and actually wouldn’t expect it any other way. Actually, she didn’t know any other way. Wasn’t that just the way people communicated?
While he was outside checking the perimeter, she stayed dutifully in the van and went over the files he had left her. When he came back and quizzed her she would impress him by knowing everything there was to know about Edward P. Smith, known in the crime world as The Bowler. What was it with crime lords and their nicknames? The Bowler didn’t exactly sound intimidating until the ‘The’ was in front of it. Looking at his list of crimes made her not want to go bowling ever again.
The van door slid open and David climbed in. “Look,” he said, “I know I’ve given you a rough go at it but I have confidence you can do this mission. We wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
She nodded her head. “I won’t let you down. Or the captain.”
He looked down. “You ready then?”
She took a deep breath and nodded her head once. “Let’s go.” She followed his lead inside. Nothing about what they were doing felt right to her. They were not following protocol or anything she had studied and been taught in the academy. When she had questioned him earlier, he told her field work was often different than text book learning. Since she had nothing to compare it with, she believed him and followed him into an international crime lord’s mansion.
“Are you sure we shouldn’t request backup?” She whispered.
He shook his head and motioned her forward.
They stopped in the kitchen. “You know what to do,” he said and opened his bag. He took out the weapons and cocked his gun.
She nodded her head and headed down the hall to the living room. Her job was to secure the first floor if she happened to find anyone. She could feel sweat running down her forehead and shook her head. According to David no one should be at home and they were on a reconnaissance only mission. But something kept nagging at her. This didn’t seem right.
After securing the first floor she slowly made her way up the stairs looking for David. His instructions were for them to rendezvous on the second floor. After five minutes of checking rooms she found him.
He calmly sat on the desk in a study. All of his weapons were on the desk. A man’s body lay hunched on the floor. She walked quickly to the victim and turned him over. The Bowler. Blood pooled under his head and she felt for a pulse. “He’s dead.”
“Yeah, I don’t shoot to miss.” David said.
“He wasn’t supposed to be here,” she said. “Did he surprise you?”
“No, he was supposed to be here. You weren’t.”
She looked at her partner.
“Now, you’re going to have to call for a team to come in and clean this up.”
“Do it now,” he said raising his voice. “When you finish with that you are going to want to arrest me.”
It took hours of interrogation to sort it all out. But eventually the truth came to light. David’s sister had died two years previous from a drug overdose. Drugs that had come into the area through The Bowler’s connections. For years, David had planned a perfect little revenge scheme. It consumed him really. When the captain had given him a new partner – as part of an effort to keep him from losing everything he had worked for – he had to follow through. Too many years of planning would be wasted.
Al was cleared of any wrong doing. For a time she considered dropping out of the program. But then Ant had come along and they became partners. She had finally started to trust her partner when she found out about his personal vendetta against Jacob Peterson.
At least, his confession came sooner than David’s. She had time to back out and she had really thought about doing just that. No more personal revenge schemes. Revenge is such a nasty business and leaves a trail of hurt.
Yet, despite her better judgement, she found herself being led by gunpoint into an old abandoned warehouse. She had been knocked unconscious and by the time she woke up they had already been at the destination. The only thing she knew for certain is she was in a bad part of town.
They climbed a flight of metal stairs and stopped in front of an office. Her captor opened the door and pushed her inside. It was dark and she blinked trying to force herself to see. The light turned on and she saw Cooper tied to a chair in the middle. His left eye was swollen and blood smears were on his face. By the looks of it, he must have arrived in the same manner as she did. His face looked about how hers felt.
“So glad you could join us,” the gruff voice behind her said. “The boss will be in to see you two shortly. In the meantime though,” he kicked a chair toward her. “Tie her up,” he demanded to the one who had been guarding the door.
After she was firmly tied and the two prisoners were alone Cooper spoke. “Glad to see you could make it. I was beginning to have my doubts.”
She shook her head partly to get the hair out of her face and partly out of annoyance for not being trusted.
“I told you I would be here and here I am.”
“Great,” he said. “So, we gonna get out of here now or what?”