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Author Topic: Anticipation  (Read 1649 times)


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« on: June 23, 2005, 02:35:09 pm »

Winston resisted the urge to give the radio’s microphone a good bang against the car’s doorframe.  Strauss’ news was no surprise; if Winston had thought Owens was really in Drummond he’d have sent a hell of a lot more than two agents.  He was surprised, now, at his angry disappointment.  Bagging Owens would have made this so much simpler.  And safer.

He keyed the mike.  “Awright,” he said, “Good work, you two.  Tape off the apartment.  Find the building manager, if there’s one there, and tell him what’s going on.  Get the locals to dispatch a car to keep the scene clear.  Then get back to that rental place and wait for the analysis team.  I want both those scenes finished and the data sent to Washington before nightfall.”

Strauss’ voice came over the speaker.  “Do we have a search warrant yet?”

“Check with Helena.  It should be signed by now.  Get’em to fax it to you, and you can get to work.”

“We’re on it, Al.”

Winston leaned into the car and hung the microphone on its hook.  Then he got back to the business at hand.

“Awright,” he said to the five men surrounding him as he returned to the topographical map and aerial photographs spread on the car’s hood.  “Fajardo’s structure is in the center of the meadow.  There’s a single entrance facing south, away from the road.  So you can get good overlapping fields of fire.  Both teams insert from here.  Alpha team, your position is west of the meadow. Bravo team, circle around to the south.  Confirm when you’re in position, and then we’ll go in and say hi.”

He folded up the map.  “Remember that this is not Ruby fucking Ridge, okay?  Don’t get jumpy.  This guy’s got no history at all, and he may honestly not know a thing about what’s going on.  I do not want to explain to the Deputy Director why he’s getting calls from reporters.”

Nods all around, and the four men of Alpha and Bravo teams, camouflaged and armored and painted green and brown, disappeared silently into the trees.  Winston and Halberstam, the agent he’d tapped to ride shotgun, settled down to wait.

Two suspects; Fajardo and Owens.  There was no evidence yet that they’d ever met.  Either of them might be responsible for the IRS man’s disappearance.  Both might.  Owens was a known copkiller, and Fajardo had no significant record at all.  But Fajardo had motive.  And having them both turn up on this same microscopic particle of Nowhere’s asscheek was an awfully big coincidence.  If they had teamed up, things could get ugly.  Owens could be holed up on that meadow right now, or anywhere in the woods.  If they were working together, Winston was going to get some heavy heat for his low-key approach to the case.

But damn it!  This shoot-everybody-that-squawks approach to federal law enforcement that had become so popular in certain corners of the Bureau didn’t produce anything but body counts and bad publicity.  It was counterproductive as hell, and Winston had worked hard to suppress it in his office.

Shortly, he’d learn if he was wrong about that.  He wanted most fervently to survive it, and wished he’d brought more shooters.

The time passed slowly.  But at last voices murmured in his ear; the teams were in position.  It was time to go.

Walter wrestled another log onto the X-shaped sawhorses.  He’d been working on firewood all morning, in hopes that physical work would dampen his overwhelming anxiety.

How had things gotten so complicated?  All he wanted was a quiet place to live, and maybe to help provide a few other people with the same.  It wasn’t a big crusade.  George and Frank had pointed out his ignorant stupidity in putting the land in his own name when he’d already given the IRS reason to be pissed with him.  That gave them a target for their summons.  But Clark Lewis had said an IRS agent had gone missing.  And when George and Frank had come with their strange offer to buy the land, they also brought the summons, the summons that the missing man had apparently meant to deliver to Walter.  And if George and Frank had that piece of paper, it could only mean…

Well, it could only mean something unspeakable.  Unthinkable.

Ironically, whatever they had done to the tax man may have simultaneously saved Walter’s land and doomed Walter.  As George had so kindly pointed out, Walter wouldn’t have been able to sell his land if he had received the summons.  But when the tax man disappeared, the first and most obvious suspect would be the tax man’s target.  Walter himself.

Feds had already been in Deer Lodge, asking questions.  They’d surely come here.  What was taking them so long?

Yesterday he’d spoken to Florence Wash, giving her a carefully truncated story about how there were some legal issues and some federal officials might be coming around.  Not to his surprise, within the hour she developed a sudden desire to visit her friends in Wyoming.  The new tenants hadn’t moved in yet.  Walter and Gallatin were up here alone.

He picked up the chainsaw and rested it on the log, preparing to pull the starter rope.  But just then Gallatin raised his head and started tipping his snout, obviously testing the wind.  He didn’t seem to be paying any attention to the entry road.  Something or somebody in the woods?  Maybe they weren’t alone, after all.

He stood still, his hand on the rope’s handle.  What to do?  It might be nothing, after all.  Or Lon Horiuchi might have his head in a scope’s crosshairs right this minute.  He’d read the stories: If he was surrounded and he made what some Hostage Rescue Team cowboy decided was a wrong move, he’d never hear the shot that killed him.  When the brave men of the Federal Government killed innocent dogs and people, there was never any penalty.  Everybody just assumed they must have done something to deserve it.

Wait and see.  Do nothing stupid.  He carefully put the chainsaw down on the ground.  Calling Gallatin to him, he walked to a folding chair, sat down, and lit a cigarette.  Then he sat, and scratched Gallatin between the ears, and waited.

Halberstam drove slowly up the hill, while Winston kept up a running progress report to the cover teams.  Two snipers monitored Fajardo, who appeared to be unarmed and completely alone.  Two men with automatic rifles covered the snipers.  Their helmets and ceramic armor should keep them safe from Owens if he was creeping about somewhere.

Winston knew how he wanted to play this, but he still didn’t know exactly what he would say or how it would go down.  Things would be so much simpler if they’d been able to bag Owens first.  But it was always a wan hope; if he was stupid enough to hang around Drummond, he’d never have escaped Florida in the first place.

Not for the first time, Winston wondered about that anonymous tip that had put them on Owens’ trail in the first place.  That was a wild card.  If somebody knew about Owens, why stay anonymous?  There was a reward for information.  Who would drop a dime on him, but ignore the reward?  There was still too much Winston didn’t know.  

An open space came into view dead ahead.  A voice whispered in his ear that Alpha Team could see his car.  As they proceeded on to the meadow, Winston could see a man sitting in a chair, petting a dog.

Halberstam brought the car to a stop.  Okay, Albert, Winston thought as he opened the door.  Time to earn all that great pay.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2005, 04:33:28 pm by John DeWitt »
Yet another Freedomista blog: The Ultimate Answer to Kings is not a bullet, but a belly laugh.

Bill St. Clair

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« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2005, 08:22:51 pm »

Good one! And it looks like nobody's gonna die in the next chapter. Even better.
"The state can only survive as long as a majority is programmed to believe that theft isn't wrong if it's called taxation or asset forfeiture or eminent domain, that assault and kidnapping isn't wrong if it's called arrest, that mass murder isn't wrong if it's called war." -- Bill St. Clair

"Separation of Earth and state!" -- Bill St. Clair


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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2005, 08:29:15 pm »

Or he could just be building up a false sense of security. :P

Good chapter, though, J. You really know how to build up the "Anticipation". Appropriate title, too. I'm guessing it's not a coincidence. :)  
I have never regretted that I chose to "take the red pill." But there are days, just rarely, when the truth is so ugly, so brutal, so unmerciful, so relentless, that even if I wouldn't rip the truth from the wall socket and hurl it out the window to crash on the sidewalk below, I wouldn't mind if it featured a snooze button so we could savor just a few more moments in slumbered pretension and warm, fuzzy lies pulled snugly up over our heads.


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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2005, 08:42:51 am »

I like it.  It's well-paced, and I can't wait to see what happens next!
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