Chapter 18

September 12, 2011 at 10:37 pm (The Job)

Rowing hadn’t looked quite so difficult, but Mr. Chu wouldn’t admit that he wasn’t coordinated enough to do it. He’d rowed in several large circles before he’d figured out the process. By the time he neared the boat, he was dripping with sweat and silently cursing the stinging blisters on his palms. He’d had surprisingly little difficulty gaining the main deck of the boat. There was no lookout posted. Sloppy security couldn’t be counted on, but it was a blessing when one came across it. It was a double blessing given the state of his hands. Climbing an anchor rope would have been all but impossible after rowing so far. Mr. Chu’s strength was in his brain, not his brawn. He’d tied his boat to the swim grid at the stern, allowing it a long lead so that it wouldn’t be immediately noticeable if anyone looked over the railing.

The crew was in the captain’s quarters playing poker. Mr. Chu had brought a filament camera with him. Slimmer than a snake cam, it could pass through the keyhole or under the smallest crack in a door. The microscopic fisheye lens at the end gave a slightly distorted, but accurate, picture.

Mr. Chu set his charges all along the hallway of the main deck. He fixed them to the wall down at floor level where the carpeting and wallpaper was darkest. There were five in all. There were no obvious blinking red lights or digital displays on his units. The main charge would go next to the gas tanks. All were triggered by remote. Anything else left too much to chance. He needed to make sure he was far enough away from the blast and from anyone who might approach the scene quickly to offer assistance.

The gas tanks were stored on the lowest level, where the engines were kept. Mr. Chu descended the ladder leading to the hold. It was dry, which surprised him. He thought all boats had water in the bottom of them. All of the boats he’d ever sailed on back home had always had close to a foot of bilge sloshing around in the hold. The officers in the army used it as punishment once they’d learned of his inability to swim. They saw an inability to swim as a fear of water. Any known fear could be exploited to increase paranoia. The officers would hold his head under the murky water until he’d run out of air and his lungs forced him to take a breath. Many times he’d felt his life slipping away as the blackness settled in. Then one of the officers would kick him in the gut to force the water from his lungs. His throat would be on fire for days afterward. Mr. Chu had gotten even in the end. He’d reciprocated, though not in kind. Instead of drowning them in water, he’d forced them to swallow gasoline. Instead of kicking them to force the gasoline from their lungs, he’d shoved a flaming torch down their throats. The instant flames seared their throats closed. It was over too quickly. If he’d planned his approach a little less emotionally, he could have kept them alive much longer.

Shaking himself to clear the memories, Mr. Chu walked through the hold to the rear of the boat. The engines were stored amidships and the fuel tanks were secured near the stern. Made of aluminum, the two-2500 gallon drums were secured in a well ventilated area to ensure no trapped water could cause corrosion. Mr. Chu placed his large bomb in the air pocket beneath one of the tanks. Armed and ready to receive his remote signal, it would be the last to blow. A chain reaction, starting with the bomb near the door of the master suite, would ignite the bombs individually, with a three second delay between each explosion.

“Hey! What are you doing?”

Mr. Chu stared out through the doorway, to the engine room. One of the ship’s crew had just come down the ladder and spotted him in the fuel compartment. Mr. Chu stepped forward, his empty hands outstretched in an innocent gesture.

“No servants are allowed down here,” the older man bellowed.

Mr. Chu stammered out an apology as he neared the man. His bellowing would soon bring the curious and Mr. Chu didn’t want to start explaining his presence on board the ship. He wasn’t dressed as a servant. As he stepped through the door, now within two feet of the man, Mr. Chu distracted the old sailor with his left hand while his right fist shot forward and punched him in the throat. His larynx crushed, the old sailor keeled over, his body convulsing as it unsuccessfully tried to gather air. Mr. Chu dragged the dying man into the fuel room and tucked him in behind the tanks. Gathering his tools, Mr. Chu double-checked to see that his devices were all synced to the master remote before heading up to the main deck.

The yacht was rocking slightly as he made his way toward the stern of the boat. The wind had picked up and Mr. Chu assumed that was the cause of the slight chop. As he stepped down the ladder to the swim grid, he could barely make out his little dinghy bobbing in the waves. Mr. Chu kneeled down right at the base of the ladder and carefully crawled his way over to the rope he’d tied to the grid. His teeth were chattering by the time he’d worked his line free. Pulling the boat in, Mr. Chu gripped the edge and placed one foot inside the boat, on the seat. Leaning out over the edge of the swim grid, he slid his foot along the seat, transferring more of his weight to the smaller boat.

A wave splashed up, drenching his face and chest. His hands slipped on the edge of the boat and Mr. Chu suddenly fell into the space between the swim grid and his dinghy. He immediately sunk like a stone. The water, still warm from the heat of the day, enveloped him. The blackness of it crashed around him, disorienting him further. Fear crawled up his throat and threatened to engulf him. His hands and feet flailing, Mr. Chu managed to break the surface. Before he could sink again, he threw one hand up and blindly groped for the boat. Catching the edge, he gripped it so hard his fingers nearly cramped.

Scrambling over the edge of the boat, he barely managed to keep it from capsizing. Collapsing in the bottom, Mr. Chu wheezed air into his lungs. After a few moments, his heart had calmed down a little. Patting the pockets of his shirt he was surprised to see that he hadn’t lost his remote detonator. Taking the time to correctly set up his oars, Mr. Chu set about rowing himself away from Windon’s boat. The blisters on his hands had popped, most likely when he was struggling to gain his dinghy. The wooden handles on his open sores burned like fire.

After thirty minutes of rowing, Mr. Chu was still too close to the boat. He wasn’t at risk of getting caught in the explosion, but he could still be seen by any rescuers. After another fifteen minutes he realized he had little choice but to detonate his bombs. A police boat was swiftly making its way over to the Windon’s boat. Lights were blazing on the yacht. Mr. Chu knew that the body of the old sailor must have been found. He waited until the police boat pulled up alongside the Windon yacht and two officers had boarded the boat before he pressed the button.

After a two second delay the first bomb detonated, the white hot fireball incinerating everything in its path. Before the fire had a chance to really build, the second bomb exploded. Then, like a daisy chain, each bomb down the line blasted outward, destroying boat and human alike. Mr. Chu could see the men on the deck running for cover. The two policemen dove over the side of the boat and into the water just as the main bomb ignited the fuel in the tanks. The police boat tried to pull away from the raging inferno that the Windon boat had become, but it was too late. The explosion of the final bomb caught the police boat in its destructive grip. The decks were splattered with burning fuel. The captain shut down the engines and ran through the fire to the side of the boat and over.

Mr. Chu eased up on the oars. His hands were screaming in agony. He needed to get further away, but his hands refused to function. He watched the flickering flames as they danced over the water. He could just make out several people swimming away from the wreckage. He knew that none of the family on board the Windon boat would be among the living. The bombs in the hallway would have seen to that.

Off in the distance, he noticed the lights of several boats as they made their way toward the flaming pyre. Grimacing, he placed his hands on the oars and began his slow journey back to the mainland of Capri. He would have to see to the care of his hands before he could complete the last job. Building a bomb required a sure hand and his were trembling with fatigue and pain. Mr. Chu welcomed the few days’ respite he had before the Mallach job was due.

He needed that time to forget about the water.

***

“We leave for the island in four hours.”

Ingram nodded so that Leland would know he’d heard. He was packed and ready, but he had a tonne of little things to organize before he could leave. Seth had lost track of Parker. Simon hadn’t checked in once in the last twelve hours. Only Mr. Chu was working according to plan. He couldn’t do anything for Seth until Simon called to let them know where they were headed.

He was waiting for word from Willis. He’d given him a special job to carry out before the plane left for the island. Willis would be with them on the island, seeing to the defenses of the house. The defenses of the remainder of the island were already long established.

“Have you received word from your men in Rarotonga?” Leland wanted everything to be settled and the last four hours to be up. He wanted to be on the corporate plane headed for the island. Even if he had to sweat out the next two days wondering if Donovan would miraculously appear, he wanted to be there with the board.

“They’re in place, but haven’t caught sight of Donovan yet. Once they do, they’ll take him down.”

The wait was making Leland antsy. Rarotonga wasn’t a particularly large island. How difficult was it to find one man on it? He would stand out like all of the other tourists. Ingram’s men had been in place for two days now and they had nothing to show for their time. The fuckers were probably sipping Mai Tai’s on the beach. They’d checked in once, to inform Ingram that Donovan’s room was empty. It was still booked under the name Phil Boonstra, but the cleaning staff had said that the room had never been slept in. They had no idea what Mr. Boonstra even looked like.

Leland didn’t like it. Finding Donovan shouldn’t have been so damn difficult. He was a suit who wasn’t used to hiding from trained hunters. Granted, Leland had no idea what the man had done while he’d worked at the CIA. Donovan had kept his mouth shut on that score. Leland assumed he’d ridden a desk there and didn’t want to talk about it, because his silence would make the job seem like more than it was.

Two hours later, almost asleep on Ingram’s couch, Leland was startled awake by a sharp rapping on the door. Ingram pressed a button on the underside of his desk to disengage the locks. Willis pushed the door open and closed it behind him. He walked over to Ingram’s desk and waited.

“The job is done?” Ingram asked.

“Yes, sir, the package has been delivered to the plane, as requested.”

“Excellent. Your men are ready?”

“We’ve already stored our gear on the plane. Most of my men are seated, waiting for takeoff. I’ve kept a small group back to see to your safe passage to the plane.” Willis motioned to Leland, including him in the statement.

“We will leave in fifteen minutes,” Ingram said.

Willis nodded and took his leave. The minute the door closed behind him, Leland looked over at Ingram.

“The package?” he asked.

Ingram smiled. “Parker will no longer receive any inside assistance with her mission.”

***

Ingram’s men weren’t sipping Mai Tai’s on the beach. They’d spent the past two days combing the island in search of Donovan, without a single sighting. Rarotonga wasn’t large, but it was tourist season and the place was packed with people. The weather was perfect for sitting on the beach or swimming in the ocean. It was hell for the type of search they were doing.

They’d broken the island down into smaller grids. Each man took a grid and spent two hours scouring it before checking it off and moving to the next grid. With five men on his team, each man was responsible for ten grids. It was a complete crapshoot. Ingram had expected results almost immediately. The lead man, a guy called Zaum, didn’t think they’d find him at all, unless they got really lucky.

Still, they kept at it, sweating out gallons of moisture as they walked their grids. He’d heard the rumours about Donovan. He knew the guy was ex-CIA. Zaum had decided it was wisest to assume Donovan was a highly skilled operative. If they planned their attack with that in mind, any less skill on Donovan’s part would make their job easier. Zaum didn’t want his men focusing on the tourists only. He wanted them analyzing every single person they came across. It made the work a lot more tedious and time consuming.

His next grid was in a rundown part of town. The greenbacks from the tourists didn’t trickle all the way down to the island’s poorest residents. Jobs were hard to come by and drugs were easy to get hooked on. The side streets and alleys were crowded with men and women strung out or looking to score. Zaum had barely begun his grid when a woman offered him a BJ for five bucks. He might have considered it if her teeth hadn’t been jagged with rot. He shook his head and moved on.

Walking through the alleys was dangerous. He was armed, but he was only one man. If a group of men decided to swarm him, he would be hard-pressed to fight his way out of it. His men were too far away to offer any immediate assistance. Zaum stared at everyone, but he kept moving. He watched for blind spots, for hidden doorways or paths between buildings where someone could get the drop on him. He had to hope that his target was outside. If he’d holed himself up inside one of the rundown shacks, Zaum wouldn’t ever find him. It was too damn risky to go storming into the buildings, especially in this part of town.

Zaum zigzagged through the alleys and side streets until his grid was cleared. He’d received three more propositions for various sexual favours, two from women and one from a young boy. He’d shaken his head at all of them, adding a frown for the boy. It was only noon, but Zaum had been on the streets for nearly six hours. He would head back for the hotel and have a long, cool shower and some food before attacking his next grid.

The young boy who had propositioned Zaum watched him leave the area before running through several backyards, scrambling around rusted out cars and brushing under clothing strung out on the lines. When he came to the border between the rundown sections of town and the slightly better kept parts, he slowed to a walk. Taking several lefts and rights, the boy worked his way into the centre of the city, to the small church used mainly by the locals. Inside, he approached the single confessional, waiting his turn as an elderly woman had her time with the priest. When the booth was empty, the boy slipped inside and shut the door. He didn’t genuflect, didn’t offer up his various sins for absolution. In God’s eyes, his sins were many. He made more money from men than most of the women in town. His task had not been to distract the hunters with sex. He’d offered because it was the easiest way to explain his presence there. Plus, the money was good.

“What have you learned?” the priest asked him.

“They are still searching for you,” the boy replied.

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