Here is the latest installment in the continuing saga of Road Kill. For those of you that haven’t read this story, it’s my experiment on two fronts. I’m posting this writing as a stream-of-consciousness exercise. There is no editing and no planning. I’m 23 parts (nearly 40,000 words) into this story and it keeps taking twists and turns as it weaves in characters from my books with some new characters. I suspect I’ll edit this into a book at some point, but, for right now, I’m simply enjoying writing for these characters. If you want to catch up on this story, you can read all of the previous parts on my blog at donmassenzio.wordpress.com.
I wanted to thank those of you that have encouraged me to continue. I have received suggested edits from some of you and I greatly appreciate the help. If you see something screwy in the story, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.
I will be collecting the parts of this story, once it’s finished, and put it into a free or low cost book that you can read complete with edits and new material that didn’t appear in the original blog posts. I’m not sure how many more parts there will be, but I feel the action ramping up to a potential ending soon. Thanks for joining me on this writing journey.
Road Kill Part 23
Rafferty’s voice did not exude good tidings. At first I thought that he had hit a roadblock at GTMO, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
“What I uncovered talking to these dirt bags was unnerving. We’ll talk about it when I get back,” Rafferty said through the speaker of the cell phone.
“What do we do about Donovan’s men?” Ben asked.
“Lay low for now. If you go in the bedroom of the trailer you’re in and look under the rug, there’s a trap door with some goodies that will help you defend yourself or create a diversion if you need to. It will also let you escape through the bottom of the trailer if someone is coming through the front door,” Rafferty said.
“How do you know this?” Ben asked.
“My sister dates the guy who lived there and he had it tricked out in case he had to get away quickly,” Rafferty said. “I’ll be back in a couple of hours and we’ll meet at another safe house I know. Sit tight in the trailer as long as you can. If you need to get away, I’ll text you the address as soon as we get off this call.”
Rafferty ended the call and Ben and I went to the bedroom to look for the trap door. Sure enough, the carpet hid a three foot by three-foot hatch in the floor that opened into a compartment that held flash-bang grenades, a couple of pistols and some night vision gear. There was a second trap door that led into the crawlspace under the trailer and presumably offered a place to hide along with a means of escape.
We grabbed the pistols and went back to the small sofa in the living room to watch the surveillance feed from the decoy trailer. Donovan’s men had gained entry by breaking the lock on the front door. They were quickly sweeping the trailer, presumably looking for Ben and I. They would quickly realize we weren’t there. There were about six trailers between the decoy and the one we were in. They were all owned by the same landlord and were virtually identical although ours was probably the only one with a mini armory and an escape tunnel underneath.
“We need to make sure the lights are out and that they can’t see us through the windows,” Ben said. “Hopefully Jones didn’t leave any tracks in the driveway out there. It will take these guys a while to get to our trailer, but we’re probably going to have to get out of here in the next hour or so even if they check every one.”
Ben’s timing wasn’t off by much. About an hour and fifteen minutes after Donovan’s men exited the decoy trailer, they were pulling in front of the one we occupied. Ben and I headed to the crawlspace. We could try to hide out and wait them out under the trailer, but, if they did even a half-hearted sweep, they would find trash and remnants of our sub sandwiches along with drinks in the refrigerator. They would know that someone had been here.
As the vehicle pulled in front of the trailer next to ours I grabbed the laptop and phone and Ben grabbed a few essentials and we headed for the crawlspace. We stuffed ourselves through the trap door and put on the night vision gear before we closed the hatch. Donovan’s men might spot the hatch, but our plan was to be long gone before they did.
The night vision gear, once activated, illuminated the surprisingly clan crawlspace with a soft green glow. There was about five feet of horizontal clearance so we had to navigate on the concrete pad on our hands and knees.
“There’s an access door to the rear of the trailer,” Ben said as he scanned the space. “Once we hear them fumbling around upstairs, we’ll hightail it out of here.”
I started to ask Ben where we would go when I remembered that Rafferty said he would text the address of the safe house. I fumbled to move the night vision eyepieces up to my forehead and keyed the cell phone. It had an address of the safe house along with the make and model of a car and the message, ‘under the driver’s side mat’.
I told Ben that it looked like we had a place to go. Now we just had to wait for our uninvited guests to invade the trailer. Ben motioned to me to be quiet. We heard the sound of the vehicle easing onto the gravel driveway followed by the sound of two slamming doors.
We heard tapping on the front door followed by knocking and then pounding. Finally, we heard the sound of the door being jimmied open and footsteps up above. Ben motioned toward the access door and we crawled toward it and he silently opened it.
Luckily, it was now fully dark outside and we were facing a line of trees that separated the trailer from the sand dunes adorned with sea oats and the ocean beyond. We made our way into the trees and moved toward the next dwelling.
“Well look at that,” Ben whispered as we approached a line of trees. “Jones and his friends know what they’re doing.”
What Ben had seen was a non-descript Chevy sedan with a license tag number that matched what Rafferty had texted. I opened the driver’s side front door and thankfully the dome light was turned off. As I felt around under the mat, I felt the reassuring shape of the key and climbed into the driver’s seat.
“Let’s get the hell out of here,” Ben said. “Hand me the phone and I’ll punch in the address of the safe house.”
The safe house was in an area of Jacksonville called Springfield. The GPS app told us that it was about 17 miles away and it would take us about 29 minutes to get there with current traffic. I put the car in gear and we quickly moved past our former digs in time to see the lights being turned on and shadows moving across the windows.
I maneuvered the car westward on Atlantic Boulevard away from the beach and past the nearly abandoned Regency Mall onto the Arlington Expressway which took us over the 63 year-old Matthews Bridge to Downtown Jacksonville. We passed Everbank Field where Jacksonville’s alleged professional football team played and made the rest of the proscribed turns into Springfield.
The safe house was located on North Laura Street just pass the intersection where it crossed West 7th Street. It was a classic Victorian house that had seen better days. I had to check the address again just to be sure we had the right house.
“That safe house looks unsafe,” Ben quipped as we pulled into the driveway toward the detached garage.
Rafferty’s text told us to go to the back door which was up four steps. In the heyday of this house, it would have been a servant’s entrance. I rang the doorbell and noted the well-hidden surveillance above the door.
“Can I help you?” a voice asked from a hidden speaker.
As instructed in the text, I answered that it was Mr. Thomas and his associate, obviously a code name designed to grant us entry. After giving him the alias, a click sounded and I was able to pull the deceivingly heavy door open. Ben and I entered the silent and darkened kitchen. At first it appeared that no one was home, but then an over six-foot tall bundle of muscles in a suit appeared in the doorframe.
“Rafferty said you might be dropping in. You’re safe here. He said to sit tight until he gets back in about 90 minutes. Do you want some cold beer?”
I felt a wave of relaxation wash over me. Something about this hulking figure in the suit assured me that we were indeed safe for the moment. It was a guarded feeling of safety, however, since we had already had the surprise of Donovan’s men hunting for us. Ben must have sensed my feelings at the moment.
“Who do you work for?” he asked Mr. muscle suit.
“Well, that depends,” the man asked. “Right now, I work for Rafferty. He told me what’s going on and I’ve thrown my loyalty behind him. He’s a good man.”
The man switched on the light and I recognized him immediately. He was one of Donovan’s right hand men at The Mother Ship. He must have registered my recognition.
“That’s right, I’m from The Mother Ship. I’m also part of a small group that has suspected something going on at the highest levels of government that could bring this country to its knees,” he said. “Rafferty told me you might be skeptical, but I’m legitimately on your side and I admire both of you for helping to uncover this.”
With that score settled, we moved into the living area of the safe house. It was sparsely, but comfortably furnished. The drab interior of the house was camouflage for the sophisticated electronics and communication equipment that was apparent to the trained eye.
We settled in and watched the news. Not surprisingly, there was nothing of note and absolutely nothing related to any of our capers.
After we had been in the safe house for a little over an hour, we heard a subtle bell ring. Our host motioned for us to stay in the living area as he keyed the intercom and asked the same question to whoever was ringing the doorbell.
“It’s Mr. Thomas,” said the familiar voice of Brad Rafferty.
We heard the back door open and Rafferty joined us in the living area.
“So, what happened at GTMO,” Ben said in lieu of a greeting.
“Well, we were right about family being the leverage that was played in getting these guys to cooperate,” Rafferty said. “That wasn’t the deciding factor, however. When I dug further, I discovered a factor that eliminated the prisoners still at GTMO from the ones that were chosen to advance to the next round.”
“What was that? Their dance moves?” Ben asked.
“Not exactly. It was their expertise with radioactive materials.”
I felt my stomach fall. The stakes had just been raised to a level that was very scary. Would an official of our country actually perpetrate a radioactive attack on our own citizens just to advance their personal agenda? I could see by the look on Rafferty’s face that this was all too possible.