Chapter 17

September 5, 2011 at 10:20 am (The Job)

Mr. Chu’s next assignment was going to be difficult. Leland had given him a short list of the people he need taken care of, leaving the order up to Mr. Chu. With the first target down, he had only two others to complete before his job was done. The best option was Hugh Windon. The problem was Windon had his family out on a boat trip. Mr. Chu didn’t swim. He wasn’t afraid of the water. Mr. Chu wasn’t afraid of anything. He was merely cautious.

The other option, Cliff Mallach, was at a conference in Sweden surrounded by hundreds of people. Mr. Chu knew that he didn’t have carte blanche as far as collateral damage went, but the idea of working a job on the water tempted him to risk the second job anyway. Too bad the water job was the best option right now.

His best option was currently parked about fifty nautical miles off the coast of Sorrento, Italy. The boat was moored off the far side of the island of Capri. Mr. Chu had taken a water taxi to Capri, but it didn’t help him much. After watching his target’s boat for the better part of the past two days, he realized that they must be well stocked. Trips into Capri wouldn’t be necessary, making Mr. Chu’s job significantly more difficult.

A daylight approach was out of the question. A nighttime approach would be more dangerous for him, but ultimately it was his only option. Though Leland had given him some freedom surrounding the targets, he did still have a deadline to have the job completed. This target had to be dropped by tomorrow night at the latest and the second target had to be taken care of within the next five days. Mr. Chu knew that the second target would be returning to the United States in three days time, making his work a whole lot easier.

The previous night, Mr. Chu had noted the precautions that Windon’s crew took while the boat was at anchor. Spotlights were directed on the water, lighting up an area some twenty feet out from the boat. There were small gaps in the coverage, which provided a very tiny window of opportunity for him to get aboard undetected. The boat, a 120’ cabin cruiser, had two decks below main, the upper of which had several proper windows instead of useless portholes.

Ideally, Mr. Chu wanted to find a blind spot that allowed him access to the outer deck. Once on deck, he could make himself invisible.  He was making the job more difficult than it had to be. The easiest way to complete the job would be to row a rubber inflatable up to the boat, attached a bomb to the side and row away before it blew. He didn’t have to go on the boat at all.

But he liked to see his targets before he destroyed them. He liked to picture them as they burned. He tried to imagine what they experienced in those last few seconds of life. Did they know what was happening? Did they have even a brief second for remorse, for fear? It was impossible for him to know what it felt like, but Mr. Chu had enough experience with this sort of thing to make a well-educated guess.

He fully expected, one day in the far future, to die by the same method. He welcomed the idea, though not quite yet. He was having too much fun to want it to end now.

His bombs were ready. A boat had a lot of flammable materials on it, not the least of which was the gas tanks. A too large explosion would destroy the boat and everyone on board, but it would be over too quickly. Properly proportioned and designed to use the boat as part of the accelerant, it would become a flaming pyre that could burn for hours. Placing several bombs all along the length of the boat would start enough smaller fires to trap the occupants inside until the fires converged and became a raging inferno.

He only regretted that he would be too far away to hear the lovely pop and crackle of human flesh as it burned.

***

Simon signaled Parker to silence, though she’d not said a word or made a sound since they’d gained the top of the shed. She watched as the occupant in the room next to Yoh’s moved around, passing by the window several times. The louvered blinds were partially closed. The man was pacing the floor. He was quite fit and somewhat agitated. Parker kept half her attention on him and the other half on the surrounding buildings.

Simon crouched down and slid underneath the first window, moving as close to the edge of the shed as he could get. Parker remained where she was, on the other side of the window. Her gun was drawn, tucked down against her leg. Simon would make the call after looking in Yoh’s window. They both knew what Donovan looked like.

The brick of the hotel was not even, providing small but serviceable handholds to creep across the short expanse from shed to middle window. Parker enjoyed rock climbing as a way to alleviate stress, but Simon hadn’t asked her if she wanted to do the job. She couldn’t decide if his taking control of the situation was appealing or annoying.

Carefully wedging his foot into a crack, Simon gripped the wall and leaned away from the shed. Testing his handholds before leaving the safety of the shed, he judged them to be secure. With a sure grip, he removed his left foot and searched for a new toehold a little closer to the window. Inch by inch, he made his way over to the middle window. The small wireframe box below the window jutted out a foot from the side of the hotel and almost two feet on either side of the window. It prevented Simon from getting a toehold close to the window frame. He would have to test its strength to see if it would hold his weight.

Parker glanced around the inner courtyard and at the buildings surrounding them. It was dark enough that they were not easy to spot, but a nosy neighbour watching long enough would eventually see Simon’s movements. A reflection in a window across the way caught her eye. Expecting to see someone peering out at her, it took her a minute to determine what she was actually seeing. The guy from the room next to Yoh’s was using the mirrored surface across the way to watch Simon’s progress.

Parker signaled Simon just as he put his foot on the window basket. He glanced back, but just as quickly whipped around when the window he was edging towards shattered outward. Parker brought her gun up as the buff neighbour swung his window outward and shoved his arm out. He didn’t see Parker behind him. Parker fired quickly, two shots, one to the head and one to the chest. The guy fell forward, hanging half out the window.

Simon lost his grip on the window box. His fingers scrabbled for a secure handhold. His left hand slipped and he swung sideways, hanging on with his right hand. The strain of his entire weight on one arm wrenched his shoulder. When the occupant in Yoh’s room stuck his head and his gun out the window, Simon let go and dropped to the ground. Rolling a few feet to spare his ankles from the crushing fall, he hid under a table. Parker fired another two shots into the window of Yoh’s room. The occupant fell backward, into the room.

“Did you see him?” Parker called down to Simon.

“No, it was too dark.”

Parker tucked her gun into the waistband of her jeans and stepped to the edge of the shed. Reaching for her own handholds, she quickly worked her way across the expanse of the hotel and peered into Yoh’s room. Their attacker was lying on the floor, not dead, but definitely wounded. Parker slipped inside and kicked his gun away. Standing near his head, Parker placed her foot on the wound in his belly and stepped down.

“Who are you?” she demanded.

“Fuck you,” the guy whispered. He tried to push her foot away, but loss of blood made him weak.

“Wrong answer,” Parker whispered back. Removing the gun from her waistband, she shot him once in the forehead and then proceeded to toss the room. The man had no ID, no passport and very little cash on him. He wasn’t the man she was looking for and that’s as far as her interest went. Stepping up to the window, she reached for the wireframe box. Swinging over the box and down, hanging below the window, she waited until her body stopped swaying before dropping lightly to the ground. A quick glance in one of the rear windows showed the front desk unmanned. Her gun was silenced, but the other two guns weren’t. It took a brave or foolish soul to investigate gunshots.

Jogging over to the side wall near the pub, she joined Simon. “It wasn’t Donovan.”

Simon’s calf had glass fragments from when the window had blown outward. He carefully picked a few of the larger pieces out. The rest would have to wait until they were somewhere safe.

“Let’s get back to the pub and put in an appearance.” Simon vaulted to the top of the wall, using a chair from the courtyard as leverage. Rolling to the edge, he scanned the pub’s courtyard before dropping down to the ground. Parker hit the ground right next to him.

The patrons were still watching the game. Their empty glasses were still on the table at the back of the pub. Checking her watch, Parker realized that only fifteen minutes had passed since they’d left the pub. Simon sat down and Parker approached the bar to get another round of drinks. With a beer and a glass of burgundy in her hand, Parker glanced outside as police cars roared down the street. They screeched to a halt a few doors away, outside of the hotel. Some of the patrons left their seats to spill out onto the sidewalk. Parker walked closer to the window to have a look. An ambulance arrived and the cops waved it back. The victims wouldn’t need their urgency. A fire truck came up Rue du Roule, east of the hotel and turned down Rue Saint-Honoré, heading against traffic.

A car pulled up directly behind the police cars. Parker watched as two men got out. They were suits; likely homicide detectives. They surveyed the street, carefully scanning each of the onlookers before heading into the hotel. Parker returned to their table and passed Simon his beer.

“Detectives are here and the regular cops, but no shiny suits yet.” Parker referred to the special branches of any country’s police force as the shiny suits. They were often far more troublesome than ordinary detectives could be. They had more power and they liked to test how far their reach was.

“We’ll finish our drink and make our way back to the car. We’ll have to go the long way. My leg is bleeding through my pants.”

“You want me to get something to wrap it in before we head out?”

“No, I need to pick the glass out of it before I wrap it.”

Parker leaned back in her chair, sipping her wine. They’d walked into a trap, but who had set it? Petrillo said no one had the information he’d gathered on Donovan, but what if he was wrong? If he wasn’t wrong, had Donovan set the trap? Would she find another trap waiting for her in Rarotonga? Could Donovan be using a heretofore unknown alias that even the CIA wasn’t aware he possessed? It wasn’t difficult to get passable fake ID if you had the right contacts and the money to pay them. Parker had a half a dozen pieces she’d never mentioned to the agency. That was one of the first things her mentor had taught her. It was a lesson she was grateful, now, that she’d paid attention to.

She looked across to Simon. He’d gotten hurt in the fray, but he could have fared a lot worse. Had he known what was coming and hesitated at exactly the right moment? She didn’t want to expend all her energy second-guessing his actions, but she didn’t want to end up with a bullet in the back, either.

It’s possible that Donovan was in contact with the people in the hotel down the block. When he didn’t hear from them would he go into hiding? They were just two days away from the vote. Parker still didn’t know where that vote would take place. If Petrillo couldn’t get her that information and she couldn’t get to Donovan in time, she’d have no other way of learning the location. Of course, if she couldn’t find Donovan then learning the location of the island was a moot point.

She pushed her wine away. The stress of the job was turning it into sour mush in her gut.

Simon finished his beer and stood up. “I’ll go left down the street. You can head for the car and pick me up around the corner.”

He left first, heading out the door and taking a look at all the commotion down the street before turning away. Parker waited a few minutes before heading out the door. Police had blocked off the street so no cars sat waiting for the emergency vehicles to clear out. Parker crossed to the far side of the street. Keeping an eye on the front of the hotel, she veered around the vehicles and carried on down the street. The bodies hadn’t been removed from the scene yet. The ambulance attendants were leaning against the side of their vehicle waiting for the police to finish up. Both men turned to watch Parker as she walked by. She ignored them.

Five minutes later she pulled over to the side of the road and picked up Simon. He’d booked them into a hotel at the other end of town, so she worked her way through the crowded streets until she was within a half a block then she started to look for a parking spot. She lucked out getting a spot only a few doors down from their destination. Parker collected the keys for the room and led the way down the main corridor. Their room was on the ground floor at the back of the hotel. The rear exit was right next to their door.

The room was sparsely furnished with one king-sized bed, two chairs situated beneath the window, a table in between them and a night table next to the bed. A TV was mounted in a corner of the room, opposite the bed. The bathroom had a claw-foot tub with cheap shower curtain, a toilet, bidet and pedestal sink. The room was clean and bug free.

Simon carefully stripped off his pants, easing them down over the torn mess of his calf. He sat on the edge of the bed and pulled tweezers from his case. Using a towel from the bathroom to protect the bedding, he attempted to remove the glass from his leg.

The lighting in the room wasn’t ideal. Parker removed her flashlight from her pack and handed it to him. Taking the tweezers from his hand, she directed the light over the wound and began picking the glass free. It took her close to an hour to get all of the little pieces out. There weren’t a lot, but there was a lot of blood making it tougher to search. Thankfully none of the cuts were deep enough to require stitching. She didn’t think her nursing skills extended that far. After bandaging his leg, she leaned back and looked up at him.

“Where to next?” she asked, trying to keep her eyes on his face. The man was seriously buff and all of that tanned skin was making her palms itch.

“We stay here tonight. We both need the down time. Then it’s up to you.”

Back to her choice; hide or carry on. She didn’t need to think about it. “Donovan’s other alias is being used in Rarotonga.”

Simon smiled. He’d known she wouldn’t consider hiding. She was getting addicted to the action. He’d felt the same way when he’d done his first high profile job. That feeling had only intensified over the years. “Then we’ll fly out in the morning.”

Parker readied for bed, removing all but her panties and tank top. She lay on her back staring at the ceiling. The rush of adrenaline had faded and she should be drained, but her mind was running overtime. Half an hour later, she was still staring at the ceiling. Turning her head, she stared at Simon’s profile. He wasn’t sleeping either.

“How bad is that leg?” she asked.

He turned his head toward her. “I barely notice it.”

Parker rolled over and settled on top of him.

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