February 07, 2005

Chapter 25

Here's the latest chapter of the book. I think that in another few chapters this will finally be finished in its first draft. Things are pulling together for the final confrontation with the terrorist, and things could get exciting from this point.

Just thought you'd like to know why posting has been so slim here lately. Hopefully, by the end of the week, I will be done with this draft and will have no excuse for not posting.

Enjoy. Feedback appreciated. Trust me, I know it's not perfect, so if you see some glaring problem, let me know.

“How long before he realizes you’re not Glenn?”

Beth looked long and hard at “Glenn” as he sat at the back of the stage. They had gone through their entire circle looking for someone to impersonate the mighty blogger, and at nearly the last minute had decided on Darth. The competition had been close, though, but George had refused to shave off his beard, thus eliminating him.

“I don’t know, Mike,” answered Darth through the small mike he wore under the collar of his golf shirt. “As long as the lights stay the way they are, and I can keep this Indiana Jones hat on, we stand a chance of pulling this off… I wonder how hard it would be to turbo-charge one of these scooters, anyway?”

“What’s he doing?” Beth had the disadvantage of having her back to the table where Quinn sat, nonchalantly sipping a coffee and biding his time.

“Nothing at the moment, Beth.” Mike, too, sipped a coffee and used his position across the table from Beth to observe Quinn discretely.

“I still think we should have used George as the decoy” complained Darth. “Think of the fun of shaving off that beard.”

Beth smiled and shook her head. “Yes, perhaps, but I prefer to think of him, beard intact, staking out the ballroom where the gay bloggers are having their cotillion and drag show.”

Then from the stage, “He’s on the move!”

Mike picked up his coffee cup and looked around the room as though looking for a waitress. After a few seconds, he put down the cup and watched as Quinn started away from the table and toward the exit into the atrium. Quickly he pulled his secondary cell phone and speed-dialed a number. “He’s on the move, do you have R2?... Contained and concealed?... And the vest?... Excellent. Out.”

“I hope that’s good news” said both Beth and Darth like some cellular Greek Chorus.

“Good for a start, anyway. Geoff’s in custody and on his way to a holding cell. Our final worry is this Quinn. We still have to get him with enough for a successful prosecution. So far, what we have can’t be directly tied to him. He could always claim it was the Reynolds kid, and we all know how a good defense lawyer can work even an open and shut case.”

“I still vote for the headshot,” Darth mumbled. Beth nodded in tacit agreement. “It’s just not worth the risk, especially during a state of declared war. We don’t need a poster child for wannabes.”

“I agree. I just have to consider the potential for gaining intelligence, too. If I thought we could get anything viable from either Glenn or his boy, I’d cap that son of a bitch myself. At this point, though, we need to get an arrest.”

“That sucks. That really sucks.”

Beth looked back toward the main doors. “Mike, looks like another problem.”

Charging toward their table was Valerie, more leading than being led by Sisyphus. Her hair was disheveled, and she looked beyond upset. She walked straight over to Mike, sat down, and leaned in to whisper “We have a really big problem. We need to take this shit out right now. We have to end this right now!”

Darth and Beth could hear her clearly through their headsets, and Mike could see their alarm as Valerie continued.

“It’s just one big bomb. The whole damned restaurant up there. One big, overpriced, snobbish, rotating bomb full of people, and we need to get them out of there now!”

“Why didn’t we know this earlier?” Mike was perplexed and angry that something had been missed. “Surely to Beejus he didn’t get anything planted today. We’ve had him under observation all afternoon, and he hasn’t had a chance to plant anything.”

“There was no way to get access to that damned restaurant until now. Some joker in hotel security refused to let me in there to search, and then stuck me in a damned holding cell in a sub-basement for 3 damned hours, like he thought I was one of the terrorists. And that stupid restaurant? They don’t even do a lunch, so I couldn’t look then. Not to mentioned they don’t open their doors for dinner until 4pm, and even then they didn’t want to let me in with Sisyphus. I had to pitch a royal fit which got me back in a holding cell, and then had to scream ‘ADA lawsuit’ before they’d release me and let me in the restaurant, bunch of moronic snots.”

Mike sat unmoving, his face stone, as she whispered this to him angrily. He looked into Beth’s eyes across the table as the situation unfolded, and watched the emotions flood across her face as she, too, listened. Mentally, he inventoried his family and friends, prioritizing them, deciding who would leave now and who was potentially expendable and would stay until the desired outcome had been achieved either by Quinn or by Mike and his small, informal posse.

“Valerie, is that it? I need to know right now.”

She stopped her rant for a moment but never leaned away from his shoulder. “I think so. I haven’t found even a hint anywhere else.”

“Freight elevators, utility chases, storage rooms?”

“If I’ve been given access to it, it’s clear. If I haven’t, well, I can’t vouch for it.”

“Go home. Take Sisyphus, Beth, you go with her, and go home. Now.”

She looked as though she had been slapped until Mike turned and took her chin in his hand and pushed back the dark glasses that masked her eyes. “Thank you,” he said quietly to her. “Now go home and be safe for another day. Go home and give this big boy a much deserved playtime and a big meal. He certainly has earned it.”

Beth pushed her chair to the table and took up her purse and wrap before walking around the table to Mike. “You tell Dave he’d better not mess-up, or there will be hell to pay when he gets home tonight,” and with that she gave Valerie her elbow and led her from the ballroom.

Mike reached into his pocket one more time for his cell phone, but sat there, just holding it. Suddenly, in his ear, Darth chided “Don’t wimp on us now, Darth Misha, or the Poo-Flinging will begin right here and now.”

“If I want your crap, Sithmonkey, I’ll issue an imperial requisition. And in the mean time, start thinking about what you’re going to do when they call ‘Glenn’ up for his Lifetime Achievement award.”

Posted by Mamamontezz at February 7, 2005 11:49 AM
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