Memorial Day, p.30Part #7 of Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn
"When and where?"
"Just north of Richmond at approximately one this afternoon."
Richmond was only an hour and a half south of D.C. "Have you talked to the deputy?"
"No, and we can't. At least not for a while. They just rushed him into surgery to relieve the swelling on his brain."
Rapp knew from the security tapes at the Ritz in Atlanta that Zubair had been there on Wednesday evening, and had left in the middle of the night.Why was he headed toward Washington? "Do we have a description of the car?"
"Yes. It's a Ford F-150 extended cab, late nineties model, hunter green and tan. He was traveling with two other guys, and the report is that the driver had an accent."
"Was there anything in the bed of the truck?"
"Not that we've heard, but we're getting our information third-and fourth-hand, right now."
Rapp stopped the car. "They could already be in Washington."
"The State Patrol doesn't think so. They had a trooper on the scene just four minutes after the deputy was hit, and they got out a description of the vehicle almost immediately. Within twenty minutes they had a plane and a helicopter in the air, one patrolling ninety-five and the other searching the surrounding area. My agent who spoke to them says they're fully staffed for the holiday weekend. They are virtually guaranteeing that this truck is still in the Richmond area."
"Any chance one of the other guys in the truck was al-Yamani?"
"I have no idea. This deputy isn't due out of surgery for at least another hour."
"Is he going to make it?"
"I have no idea, but listen. I know your wife is going to be pissed at me, but I need you to get back here. There are some things " McMahon hesitated. "Some things that Paul and I need you to help us with."
Rapp could tell that whatever it was, McMahon didn't want to talk about it over an unsecure line. "She won't be half as pissed at you as she will at me. I'll be there in twenty minutes."
Rapp pushed the end button, swore to himself three times, and didn't move for nearly ten seconds. He just stared at his phone and tried to figure out how he was going to explain this to his inquisitive wife without giving her any details. He tossed the phone onto the passenger seat and decided he'd put it off for a little while longer. If he was lucky, by the time he got back to the office, the fugitives would already be in custody. If that was case, he could probably wrangle Kennedy into arranging transportation on one of Langley's executive jets. Rapp knew this was all wishful thinking, but it was better than calling his wife right now and hearing the disappointment in her voice.
* * *
It was the scanner that had saved them. The little black box attached to the underside of the cab's dashboard began squawking not more than two minutes after they'd left the scene. Al-Yamani hadn't even noticed it. He was too busy talking to Hasan on his mobile phone, but Mohammed had heard every word of the drama as it unfolded, and it nearly gave him a heart attack. Like a lot of cabbies, Mohammed carried a police scanner. At first he did it to help avoid traffic tie-ups when there was an accident, but after a while the scanner became a source of entertainment. When he worked nights, the police chatter was often more interesting than the radio.
The initial report was that a motorist had reported an officer down. Mohammed knew that nothing got the cops more riled up than hearing that one of their brethren was hurt. Not more than two miles away from the incident a police car zipped past them headed to the aid of the fallen officer. Less than a minute later, a second and a third police car passed them. Just when Mohammed felt that they were going to get away, the voice of the officer he had hit came over the radio, giving a description of the truck he had pulled over and rambling on about some man the FBI was looking for.
Mohammed had to think fast. The plan was to take Interstate 295 over to Highway 301 and then up to Dahlgren on the Potomac River. That was where he had chartered the boat, paying for it in advance. Mohammed knew from experience, though, that 301 was a heavily patrolled road. His other option was to take Interstate 95, but that was even worse. Mohammed was once caught speeding on that road by an airplane. There was no way they could make it all the way to Dahlgren without being caught.
Mohammed told al-Yamani that they had to abandon the truck. He was then informed very succinctly that this was not an option. Since they could not get rid of the truck and knowing for sure that they would be caught if they went north or stayed on the main roads much longer, Mohammed made a quick decision and told al-Yamani to tell the others to follow him. He led them at high speed over several lightly traveled and tree-lined country roads away from both Richmond and Washington, D.C. Mohammed liked to fish, and he knew of an isolated spot where they could regroup and sort things out.
Mohammed and al-Yamani hung on every word that was uttered over the scanner. By the time they reached the York River, additional information about their caravan was being reported. A description of the trailer as well as the truck was now out, and to make matters worse, the police were also looking for a green-and-white Metro Cab.
With every mile they traveled, they risked getting caught. Finally, after passing through the town of Plum Point, al-Yamani decided it was time to stop running scared and take a gamble. It was the sight of water through the trees that gave him the idea.
"What is that body of water on our left?" al-Yamani asked Mohammed.
"That is the York River."
"Where does it lead?"
"To the Chesapeake Bay and then the Atlantic Ocean."
"And these roads we keep passing do they lead to homes on the river?"
"Take the next one."
Mohammed, obviously hesitant, looked over his shoulder.
Al-Yamani raised his voice and repeated the command. This time his friend followed orders, and they turned off the paved road onto a gravel drive and into the woods. Several hundred feet in, the drive split off in two directions. To the left there was a sign for two families and to the right only one.The Hansens. Al-Yamani told Mohammed to turn right. They followed the slightly rutted gravel drive for several hundred more feet. Intermittently they caught glimpses of the river as its surface sparkled in the afternoon sun, and then they saw the house.
It was a two-story Cape Cod with gray siding and white window trim. Next to it was a detached three car garage with a bunk house above it. Beyond both, there was a perfect carpet of lush grass that sloped down the river and a dock. Al-Yamani smiled when he saw the boat.
"What do you want me to do?" asked Mohammed.
Al-Yamani couldn't tell if anyone was home. It would be easier if they weren't, but either way he would get what he wanted.
"Stop in front of the house."
Mohammed brought the cab around the circular drive and parked it by the front door. Al-Yamani asked him to get out with him. Hasan and Khaled joined them on the front steps and al-Yamani told the scientist to wait in the truck.
"Go around back," he said to Khaled. "See if there is anyone down by the water." Then looking to Hasan he said, "Go with him and check the back door. If it's open wait a few seconds and then enter."
They nodded and took off. Al-Yamani tried the door. It was unlocked, but he did not open it. Instead, he rang the doorbell and waited to see if anyone was home. About ten seconds later a woman who looked to be in her mid-sixties came to the door in a pair of shorts and a tennis shirt. Al-Yamani was careful to stand back a few feet so as to not alarm her. Mohammed was standing by his cab.
The woman opened the door but not the screen. "Yes?"
"Hello, you must be Mrs. Hansen. I'm looking for Doctor Hansen."
The woman gave him a confused look. "I'm Mrs. Hansen, but my husband isn't a doctor."
"I must have the wrong house. Do you know of any other Hansens on the river?"
Mrs. Hansen thought about it for a few seconds and then said, "No not that I know of, but it's a pretty big river."
"He might, but he's not here right now."
Al-Yamani put his hands on his hips and shook his head. "That's too bad." He saw Hasan coming down the hall behind the woman and said, "Sorry to have bothered you." A second later Hasan was within striking distance. Al-Yamani made eye contact with his man and nodded.
* * *
There was an accident on the expressway. Traffic was thick in both directions with people who felt the need to gawk at the crash, and it was nearly 4:00 by the time Rapp got back to the Joint Counterterrorism Center. He wasn't so sure he'd made the right decision to miss his plane. He wanted al-Yamani in the worst way, but at this point it was law enforcement that was going to have to catch him. There was something in McMahon's voice, though, that had been slightly pleading and very uncharacteristic for the thirty-plus-year veteran.
Rapp found McMahon standing in the elevated glass-enclosed bridge located at the rear of CT Watch. He was monitoring the situation in Richmond and trying to separate the facts from the white noise. Without speaking, McMahon signaled for Rapp to follow him, and the two men entered a small conference room at the back of the bridge and closed the door. Rapp plopped down in a gray fabric chair and rested an elbow on the shiny wood-laminate conference table.
"I assume from the look on your face that they haven't found the truck."
"No, they haven't."
Rapp glanced at his watch. "It's been what almost three hours since the traffic stop? That's not good."
"You're not telling me anything I don't already know."
"Has the deputy come out of surgery yet?"
"He just made it out, but he's not awake yet."
Rapp tapped the shiny surface with his forefinger. "They're sure our guys are still in the Richmond area?"
Rapp looked at him skeptically. "I find that a little hard to believe."
"I know. I feel the same way, but let me show you." McMahon briefly left the room and returned with a map of Virginia. He laid it out on the table and said, "Here's Richmond and here's D.C. The traffic stop occurred over here on the northeast side of town. The State Patrol says they had all the major roads already covered when the call went out. They checked the traffic cameras on ninety-five and two-ninety-five and came up with nothing. That means they didn't get on the interstate, which is by far the quickest way to travel the hundred miles between here and there."
The FBI man tapped the four points of the compass around Richmond and said, "Everything was covered. This is one of the busiest traffic weekends of the year. People headed to the beach, people headed to the mountains, people headed up to D.C. for the memorial dedication. The roads are packed."
"I know. I was just out there."
"Well, there's something else that we didn't hear right away, but it went out over the police net. This Ford pickup was pulling a trailer. The head of the State Patrol tells me there's no way his people or the locals would miss something like that."
"Trailer?" Rapp repeated in a concerned tone.
"I know I know what you're thinking. What's in the trailer? Paul and I have already talked about it."
"Has he heard back from the Russians?"
"They're at the test site and beginning their search."
Rapp stood and let out a long exasperated exhale. He studied the map. He thought about the trailer. "What if these assholes have another bomb?"
"We don't have any intelligence that would point to that. You know it yourself. You guys didn't find a thing in Pakistan that would point to a second bomb."
Rapp knew he was right, but he had to assume these guys weren't driving around in a pickup with a covered trailer for nothing. "How can the State Police be so sure they aren't already in Washington?"
"They had a plane patrolling ninety-five and Highway One when the call went out. They had a helicopter over Richmond within fifteen minutes, and they had over one hundred cops, deputies, and troopers on patrol between just D.C. and Richmond alone. They think these guys are holed up somewhere, and I happen to agree with them."
"Or they switched vehicles."
"Or we could have a jumpy deputy who got himself run over, and has no idea what he's talking about."
Rapp studied the map, and then glanced up at McMahon. "Then why'd you call me back here and ruin my vacation?"
"Because I don't believe in coincidences, and I think before the night's over I'm going to need you to do some things that well let's just say I can't."
"You mind telling me what they are?"
"Not yet, but you'll know soon enough."
"Have you kicked this up to the White House yet?"
McMahon shook his head. "I brought Brian up to speed on it, but that's it." McMahon was referring to his boss, FBI Director Roach.
Rapp looked surprised.
"Listen I've got every cop in the five-state area looking for these clowns. Telling them," McMahon pointed to the ceiling, "means that I'll have to drop everything I'm doing and run over to the White House and brief the entire damn cabinet, and then the next thing you know the Department of Homeland Security will be trying to run the show, and we'll all be tripping over each other."
Rapp nodded in agreement. "So what's your plan?"
"The tape of the traffic stop is on its way up here right now. I want to review it, and I want to talk to this deputy when he wakes up. Other than that I want to stay out of the way of the locals and let them run these guys down."
"And would you mind explaining to me again why I missed my flight?"
"I told you already. Trust me, if we don't find these guys pretty quick, your talents are going to be very much needed."
* * *
Mrs. Hansen's first name was Julia. It turned out she was the mother of four kids, all of whom now lived in other parts of the country. Mr. Hansen's first name was Tom, and by the time he arrived home the vehicles had been stashed and they were waiting for him. The cab was parked in his spot in the garage and a riding lawn mower and several bikes and trikes were moved to make room for the pickup truck. The trailer was left outside on the far side of the detached three car garage.
It had been fairly easy to subdue Tom Hansen. He was after all seventy years old, and not accustomed to having to defend his home. This was civilization, not some remote frontier outpost back in the 1900s. He had driven down the hill in his big Cadillac, returning from the local hardware store where he'd gone off in search of a bolt to repair a loose section of the dock. Tom Hansen was a fastidious man, and with several of the grandkids coming tomorrow, he wanted things just right.
They got him when he opened his garage door, during that moment when he stared in perplexity, wondering why in the hell someone had parked a cab in his spot. They appeared quickly, one man on each side of his big Cadillac. The doors were yanked open, and he was pulled from the vehicle before he could do anything to defend himself. They handled him roughly, one man on each arm, dragging him toward the house and warning him to keep his mouth shut.
By the time they reached the front door, Tom Hansen was in cardiac arrest. He'd suffered his first heart attack at the age of fifty-two. Too many cigarettes and too much fatty food, his doctor had told him. He quit the smoking, but didn't give up the unhealthy diet completely. Eight years after that he underwent an angioplasty, and just recently he'd been told by his cardiologist that it was time to consider bypass surgery while he was still young enough to recover fully. That was never going to happen.
They dropped him on the floor of the kitchen at the feet of his bound-and-gagged wife of forty-six years. Tom Hansen looked up at her, clutching his chest, a bewildered expression on his face. Behind her, on the refrigerator, he could see the photos of their grandchildren, nine adorable faces, the ce
Julia Hansen struggled against her bonds frantically, but could not break free. She knew it was his heart. She had been subtly trying to help him for years, cooking healthier, engineering long walks together, giving him disapproving looks when he lit up those damn cigars with their two boys. Now she saw the agony on his face and knew that he would not make it. When the color began to drain from his face, as if his very life was being sucked from him, she began to weep.
Al-Yamani watched this with the detachment and moral clarity of a true believer. He'd had seen plenty of people die during his life, and compared to what he'd witnessed on the battlefield this was mild.
It was five in the evening, and according to the woman, she and her now-deceased husband weren't expecting any visitors until one of their children was to arrive from Philadelphia with her husband and kids in the morning. Al-Yamani wanted to know the details. How many and when?
There would be five of them and they were to arrive around ten in the morning. Al-Yamani had been in the kitchen and listened to the answering machine when the daughter had called to check in. The daughter's message confirmed the woman's story. She ended by saying there was no need to call back, and that they'd see them in the morning. So good was their recent turn of luck that it was as clear as always to al-Yamani that Allah himself was guiding their mission.
They left the old man on the floor in front of his wife and went into the living room. Al-Yamani looked at the scientist and asked, "How long will it take you to get the bomb ready?"
Zubair had already taken the packages out of the back of the trunk and examined both the fire set and the explosives charges that he had crafted during his brief, surreptitious stay in Iran. "Everything looks good. It should take no more than two hours to have everything assembled and ready for transport again."
Memorial Day by Vince Flynn / Thrillers & Crime have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes