Heroes, p.11
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       Heroes, p.11

           Leigh Barker
 
He woke up the moment she pulled into the visitors’ parking and switched off the ignition. He stretched and flexed his shoulders as if he’d been sleeping for hours. “This it?”

  She glanced at him. “No, I thought we’d stop off for a Big Mac en route. Keep the FBI waiting.”

  “You go ahead,” he said with a suppressed smile. “I’ve eaten.”

  She sighed heavily, got out of the car, and slammed the door in a display of annoyance she didn’t feel. She led the way out of the parking garage, down 9th Street and into the J. Edgar Hoover Building through the unimpressive revolving doors. They passed through the ubiquitous metal detector and handed over their weapons, as usual. Then they waited for the special agent in charge. And waited.

  He let them sit for twenty minutes, to show how important he was. And how they weren’t. The prick.

  Ethan read a magazine and drank coffee from a plastic cup. After sitting in a hole in the Afghan desert, this was nothing. And it gave him time to think things through, now that he was no longer sleep-deprived.

  Something didn’t gel, but he couldn’t get it to the surface, so decided to let it rise at its own speed. Something he’d done many times before. Push all the puzzles into his subconscious and let it work them out while he got on with his day job.

  The special agent in charge arrived. Ethan could tell it was him because he spent time talking bullshit to the security guards. His opinion of the man hadn’t changed. He finished his nonsense and strode over. His white shirt was immaculate. His tie was perfect. His shoes were shiny enough to be military. Yes, this would be the special agent in charge.

  Kelsey stood. Ethan stayed seated and finished his coffee while the man glared at him. He folded the magazine and put it back on the table between the seats, stood up, and brushed down his suit. When he was ready, he looked at the agent and smiled.

  “You must be the agent in charge?” he said, extending his hand.

  The agent looked at the hand, then at Ethan, and back at the hand before taking it and shaking it once. “I am Special Agent Timothy Dryer. And yes, I am the agent in charge.”

  Well, good for you, Spanky, thought Ethan, but kept it to himself.

  “This is Master Sergeant Ethan Gill,” said Kelsey quickly, just in case. “And I am—”

  “Yes,” said Dryer sharply. “I know who you are. Follow me.” He turned and strode off along the corridor.

  Ethan looked at Kelsey, smiled and raised his eyebrows. He waved her ahead with a low swing of his hand. She sighed heavily and followed Dryer, who was holding open a security door and waiting, impatiently.

  Ethan followed them into the elevator and then down another corridor and through several fire doors. He was just beginning to think the agent in charge was walking them round the building just to piss them off when he stopped and pushed open a door into a room with enough electronics to keep a geek happy for a lifetime.

  “Lisa will show you what you need,” said Dryer, ushering them into the room. “I’m late for a meeting.” He left without a backward glance.

  Lisa watched the door swing shut and shook her head sadly. “Dryer can be a…” She caught herself. “Now, you’re here to see the analysis results from the general’s assassination.”

  Ethan frowned. “No,” he said. “We’re here to see the car.”

  “Oh,” said Lisa, and looked around as if she expected to see the car in the lab.

  Kelsey picked it up without a pause. “That’s okay, Lisa. You lead the way, and we’ll follow.”

  They could see she was uncomfortable exceeding her orders but that she was thinking of doing it anyway.

  Ethan opened the door and smiled nicely. “Ground floor, is it?” As if a car would be anywhere else—the roof maybe.

  “Yes,” said Lisa.

  The grey Lincoln MKZ sedan was in the basement garage, as it should be. Lisa was over her indecision and led the way across the empty parking bays to the side of the vehicle. “The shooter fired between the seats.”

  “He would,” said Ethan, leaning into the vehicle’s nearside rear door. “Less risk of the weapon being seen from outside.” He ignored the blood on the leatherwork and leaned forward to examine the two holes in the seat back. “Did you recover the bullets?”

  Lisa shook her head, realised he couldn’t see her, and spoke to Kelsey. “No. They passed straight through the victim and exited through the trunk, missing the real driver’s body.”

  “The general’s driver was in the trunk?” Kelsey said and walked round to the rear.

  “Yes. Shot once in the heart. Looks like the same weapon.”

  Ethan pushed himself out of the car and joined Kelsey. He opened the trunk. “Did you find that slug?”

  “No. It appears to be a through and through.”

  “Has Agent in Charge Dryer ordered a search?” he asked.

  She looked a little uncomfortable again. Maybe because she didn’t want to talk out of school. Though he suspected it was embarrassment. He was right.

  “Special Agent Dryer said there’s no way we’re ever going to find the bullets, as the shooting could have occurred anywhere between the Pentagon and Dulles Airport.”

  Ethan and Kelsey exchanged looks but said nothing.

  Ethan put his finger over the hole made by one of the bullets leaving the vehicle’s trunk. “Nine mil.”

  Kelsey looked surprised. “A nine mil? It passed through the victim’s body, the seat back, and the metal trunk. I don’t think a nine mil would do that.”

  Ethan smiled and headed for the garage exit but stopped when the others stayed where they were. “Lisa is going to show us the results of her analysis. Right?”

  Lisa gave a little start and walked towards the door. “Yes, of course. That was what Dryer—Special Agent Dryer asked me to do.”

  “Then let’s do that,” said Ethan, holding open the door for them to pass.

  The analysis was thin. Powder burns on the sides of the sedan’s front seats showed that the handgun had been fired from there. Two holes in the general and the seat specified the number of shots. And… and that was about it. No fingerprints, no DNA, no wallet accidentally dropped by the shooter. Nothing.

  Lisa walked them back to the foyer, and they thanked her and crossed to the desk to hand in their ID badges.

  “Have you got a metal detector among all that electronics?” Ethan called after her as she began to return to her bat-cave.

  She stopped and looked back, frowning. “I think so, yes. Why?”

  Ethan smiled. “Do yourself a favor and check the batteries,” he said and headed for the revolving door, with Kelsey racing to catch up.

  They walked back to the garage parking without speaking, as Kelsey thought through what they had seen. She waited until she pulled the car back onto the street before she asked the question.

  Ethan glanced at her, and tried not to look at her body, but it was tough. He changed the subject in his head. “Can we go back to the Pentagon?”

  She looked back, and tried not to look at his body, but it was tough. She didn’t ask the question, because he would tell her when he was good and ready.

  Back at the Pentagon, they went down to the security office and asked to see the surveillance tapes for the day. The security officer was polite and helpful, so was probably new, retiring soon, or sick. He did look past Ethan at Kelsey and mouthed the word, “Tapes?”

  “Master Sergeant Gill hasn’t caught up with the digital age, Tony,” said Kelsey.

  Ethan ignored the slight and pointed at the wall of monitors. “Can you rewind to the time General Davy left for the last time?”

  “Yes,” said Tony, sitting back at one of his keyboards. “Nine fifteen.” Two seconds later, and no whirring tape reels, he froze the image. “There it is.”

  Ethan leaned towards the monitor and the image of the Lincoln waiting at the roadside. “Can you zoom in on the driver’s window?”

  “Can open it for you, if you like,” said Tony, and the sedan’s
side window filled the monitor. “Tinted glass.”

  “Yes, I noticed back at the garage,” said Ethan. “Just hoped he’d left it open. But that would have been too sloppy, even for this guy.”

  Kelsey caught the implication. “You think he was sloppy?”

  Ethan pointed at the monitor and made winding movements with his hand. “Fast forward, but slowly,” he asked.

  Tony glanced at him, but decided a technical explanation of the CCTV system would be like teaching a monkey to type. He stepped the image forward frame by frame.

  After a few seconds, Ethan saw what he needed. “Hold it there.”

  Tony looked back over his shoulder. “See something?”

  Kelsey leaned forward towards the monitor and squinted, but could see only the sedan, stationary a little short of the road. “What is it?”

  Ethan avoided the line from the Airplane movie and spoke to Tony. “Wind back a little and let it run at normal speed.”

  Tony did as he was asked, and the Lincoln ran backwards, stopped, and moved forward. Then it stopped. Ethan took a long breath, and Kelsey and Tony looked over their shoulders from the monitor. What?

  The Lincoln moved off again at normal speed.

  “Okay, wind it back to when it was stopped,” said Ethan.

  The sedan ran backwards and stopped.

  “Make it bigger,” said Ethan, leaning his hands on the back of Tony’s chair. “There. Enlarge that.” He pointed at the car’s trunk.

  A moment later they were staring at a single hole in the polished bodywork.

  “Go forward,” said Ethan. “Very slowly.”

  The image changed to another frame, and another. Then the third, and this one showed a hole where there hadn’t been one before.

  “Okay,” said Ethan, straightening up. “We know where the general was shot.” He looked at Kelsey. “And we know where the bullets are. Can you ask the agent in charge to get some crime scene investigators down there?” He winked. “They’ll need a metal detector.”

  Kelsey grinned. “It will be my pleasure.”

 
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