Deadly justice, p.25
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       Deadly Justice, p.25

           Darrell Case
 

  Robbins cursed loud and long. Tony scrunched in his chair, silently enduring the borage.

  “Steel, if this thing unravels I'll hold you personally responsible!” Robbins brayed, slamming his fist on the desk. “How could you let this happen?” A pain socked Steel in the stomach. He felt numb.

  “It just happened, Mr. President.” Robbins dropped into his desk chair.

  “Who are Prasser’s and Dishon's contacts?” Tony flipped through several pages of his notebook. “A federal prosecutor in Indianapolis by the name of Dickerson,” he said, keeping his finger on the entry. He looked up at the most powerful man in the United States.

  “Kill him.”

  “Are you crazy?” Steel jumped to his feet. “Jerry, this man is a federal prosecutor. He's one of the good guys.”

  “You call me Jerry one more time and you're fired.”

  “Mr. President,” Steel said thoroughly chastised.

  “He's a liability.”

  “I won't do it.”

  “Yes you will. You know as well as I do, we've gone too far to turn back.”

  Tony's stomach churned and burned. He lowered his eyes. Robbins was right, there was no turning back. Dejected, he walked out of the Oval Office.

  Back in his office, Tony took the disposable cell phone out of the safe. He had wondered when it arrived whose name would be on this one. Now he knew.

  After Rule's death, Keaton Wallace had refused to deal with the Shadow. Tony tried to enlist Chief Counsel as the go-between but the man laughed in his face. Steel was the lone wolf.

  He received a new phone with each contract. They always arrived in the same type of brown envelope.

  After contacting the assassin, Steel destroyed them. A week or so later he would receive another one in the same manner.

  He missed the buttons three times. When he finally connected, a rough voice answered with "Yeah?" He hung up quickly. He tried again but got no answer.

  Two minutes later a text appeared giving him an email address. He sent the coded message; `File's done.' The words resonated in Steel’s mind like a gunshot. His hands paused over the keyboard willing the email to return. There was no way to pull it back. They were about to murder a federal prosecutor.

  He found the number for the Indiana State Police on the internet.

  He picked up his cell phone. No, don’t use it. Surely they would have caller ID. He sneaked out the back way to the parking garage. Two minutes later he exited in a nondescript blue van used for undercover work.

  He pulled into a Walgreen's parking lot. For several minutes he watched the traffic. A black LTD with government plates cruised by. He crouched down in the seat. After waiting another few minutes, he opened the door and cautiously looked around. Trying to appear nonchalant, he walked to a pay phone on the south wall of the store. An elderly woman hurried to it a step ahead of him.

  “Ma'am, I really need to use this phone,” he said sweat breaking out on his forehead.

  “I'll only be a minute,” she said smiling. “My daughter just had a little boy. And I don't have a cell phone.”

  She turned from him. “Hello Margaret. Yes, 10:03 this morning.”

  The black LTD drove by again. Steel couldn't be sure it was the same one. It disappeared in traffic.

  “It's all yours,” the elderly lady said, smiling. He held the receiver to his ear.

  'Pop! Pop! Pop!'

  Someone screamed. The Walgreen’s front door bust open. A man with a stocking over his head ran past. Tony stuck out a foot, the man sprawled, hard on his face on the concrete.

  A snub - nosed.38 flew out of his hand. He scrambled after it on all fours. Halfway across the lot the elderly woman screamed, both hands covering her mouth. On the asphalt lay baby lotion, oil, and a big tub of baby wipes. Stepping to the man, Steel rendered him unconscious with a precise blow to the neck. In the background sirens sounded.

  He walked quickly to the van. He hurried past the elderly woman hoping she didn't remember him. Open-mouthed, she watched him drive away seconds before two before two police cars arrived on the scene.

  Three away blocks he stopped at a drive- up phone. The voice that answered was youthful and police sounding.

  “State Police,” he said. His inflection was clear, precise.

  “There is a contract on federal Prosecutor Robert Dickerson's life,” Steel said, trying to keep the quiver out of his voice. “He’s in Indianapolis.”

  “What is your name, sir?”

  “Do you understand? There is a contract out on federal Prosecutor Robert Dickerson's life.”

  “Yes sir I understand. May I have your name?”

  Steel replaced the receiver gently and drove back to his office.

  Twenty-four hours later the Shadow arrived in Indianapolis dressed as a female jogger. He parked the Taurus on a side street and approached the Federal Building. He hadn’t questioned Robbins' choice of victim. After all the man was just another mark. The money was just as good. It didn't matter to him if the hit happened in a death row ell block or in downtown Indianapolis. He intended to follow Dickenson, and then do what he most enjoyed: bringing down the target on a crowded street.

  The cops surprised him, two in front of the Dickerson and two behind. He smiled and fingered the Glock in his waistband. The silencer dug into his thigh. So someone tipped them off. Only three people knew Dickerson was the mark. Him, Steel and Robbins. It didn't matter. He loved a challenge. He would take care of business. 'When I find out which one it was I’ll use him for target practice.

  The thought brought another smile. He would let it go until he had enough to disappear permanently. Maybe he would kill the president in the Oval Office, or Steel in the lobby of the Hoover building. Maybe he would take them both out just to make sure he had the right one.

  He jogged alongside the police officers and their man. Two of them lightly touched their holsters as he passed. He raised his hand in a salute. They didn't wave back. He kept going. They relaxed. He got into the Taurus and opened a map of the city. Unless he was in court, Dickerson played a round of golf on Tuesday mornings. He was a long- standing member of the Country Club of Indianapolis. Most of the city's judges and affluent lawyers belonged to the club. More lawsuits were rumored to have been settled on the golf course than in the courtrooms.

  As they had left the courthouse, Dickerson insisted the officers not accompany him to the club. He addressed them collectively as they walked along.

  “Gentlemen, my career is on an upswing,” he said. “How would it look if I played golf with four state troopers hanging around me?” “People would think I'm afraid of my own shadow.”

  “We have our orders sir,” the sergeant said, “There's been a threat on your life.”

  “If I believed every crazy who said he was going to kill me, I'd never leave my home.”

  “We believe this threat to be credible.”

  “Let me propose a compromise Officer. You and your men change into civilian clothes, drive me in an unmarked car and you can watch me from the parking lot.”

  Finally, the officers reluctantly agreed.

  Decked out to look like a mannish female groundskeeper, the Ombra worked the back nine. He kept his head low while raking a sand trap. Sunglasses covered his eyes. The blond wig, dirtied up and scroungy now, concealed his forehead, neck and ears. He wore padding to appear heaver.

  At Dickerson teed off at the eighth hole, the Shadow stepped into the wooded perimeter of the fairway. As if on cue, Dickerson sliced the ball into the rough. He cursed loudly.
>
  The officers in the parking lot laughed.

  “You should have played with him, Jim,” one said to his partner.

  “I may not be too good, but I could have hit that shot

  better blindfolded,” Jim said, his eyes sweeping the area. Other than the golfers, the only subject he saw was a homely looking female groundskeeper. He wasn't worried. They had cleared all the workers. Yet something nagged at the back of his mind.

  Quickly, the Shadow retrieved the errant ball from behind a pine tree. He put it in his pocket and pulled out another that was identical placing it six inches from the fairway.

  “Hey, what are you doing?” Dickerson shouted.

  He strode toward the rough, stepping to within two feet of where the Ombra stood.

  “I'm sorry,” the assassin said, his chin in his chest. “I thought you might need some help finding your ball. There it is, right there.” He pointed at it.

  “I can find my own ball, thank you,” Dickerson snapped. “You just keep your grubby hands off.”

  “Yes. Sorry sir,” the Shadow said turning away.

  “Hurry it up!” Dickerson’s golf partner Judge Clayborn yelled. “I've got a murder trial starting this afternoon.”

  While Dickerson's head was turned the Shadow melted into the landscape, concealed first by the trees, then the shrubs and finally the deep underbrush.

  Sneakily, Dickerson picked up the ball to move it farther onto the fairway. The explosion rocked him. It tore off his right arm at the shoulder. He stared down blankly at the empty socket before toppling. Clayborn was on the ground, covering his head with his hands.

  At the sound of the blast, the four state troopers took off in its direction. Service weapons drawn, they were stopped short on the fairway of the sixth hole by a lone security guard. The excited man trained his pistol on the four officers.

  “On the ground, now!” he hollered, the chrome Smith and Wesson .38 wobbling in his hand. “Call the cops, Armey. Get out here now! We got us a situation,” The security guard’s voice quavered as he ranted into the mike on his shoulder.

  “We are the police, you idiot,” the sergeant said flashing his badge. The other three officers followed suit.

  “Sorry,” the security guard said holstering his weapon. The troopers took off running to Dickerson's aid. The prosecutor was already dead.

  Sulking in the background, the security officer turned his head to the mike. “Never mind, the cops are here.” He didn't think it necessary to tell Armey any more.

  A mile away, the Shadow stood at the rear of a telephone truck with his back to the road. Both back doors were open. He had stolen it early that morning from the company’s garage. According to the form he found on the seat it

  was scheduled for a brake job later in the day. He hopped in and pulled one of the doors closed.

  Hunching in the compartment, he changed into the brown phone company uniform. It fit quite well. He patted the blond wig flat, tightly rolled up the green groundskeeper’s clothes, grabbed the sunglasses and stuffed everything into a plastic grocery bag. He tucked the bag in among the tools. A common mistake made by thieves and murderers was to discard evidence near the scenes of the crime. Tomorrow the whole enchilada would be disintegrated in a trash can half full of acid in his garage.

  uniform the wig and sunglasses would be consumed by acid in a trash can in his garage.

  As the sirens came closer, he hurried over and busied himself at a junction box that stood in the weeds several feet from the edge of the road. He leaned in close to it and hid his face behind the open door. Out of the corner of his eye he watched three police cars and an ambulance race by. The vehicle’s occupants looked straight ahead, never even glancing at him or the truck. He was relieved but not surprised. After they disappeared, he walked casually to the truck.

  Climbing in behind the wheel, he started the engine.

  The fake beard accessorizing the Shadow’s brown uniform twitched under his smirk. He beat them again. His mind’s eye pictured an army of cops searching the clubhouse, golf course and woods for the woman for the groundskeeper. He started to pull into traffic when a black SUV streaked by. The large man driving took quick note of him and turned his eyes back to the roadway. The woman in the passenger seat eyed him intensely.

  Allison tried to make eye contact with the telephone man but he turned his head. Strange. Why would he look away so far? She thought of the Boston bomber. Then they were gone and the man was in the rear view mirror.

  “So the Feds are here already,” the Shadow said under his breath. “This should make things interesting.” He merged carefully and continued on.

 

  Chapter 17

 
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