Every week or so I will be putting up an advance chapter or two of my newest International Thriller...Murmansk! You can of course find the earlier chapters further down the page.The book should be published around July of this year!
**Note this is first draft so be kind to any mistakes I may have :O
November 24, 2000
We sat quietly by as May helped McGruder out of the house. Once the door was closed however, Preacher stood and made his way to the door, easing the curtain aside slightly as he watched the man head toward his car.
“That-was-freaky!” Abby stated exuberantly, her eyes still on the doorway as if she too were following his progress.
By then May was standing beside me, her hand on my shoulder.
“You don’t believe him Abby?” May questioned.
“I have to believe most of what he said,” Abby said with a shrug, “Because it was the truth.”
“It’s what he didn’t say that worries me,” Preacher mumbled as he watched the car pull away from the house. “He’s gone.”
Glancing at me with a questioning glance, I nodded.
Returning my nod, he quickly opened the door and exited the kitchen.
“Where’s he going?” May asked.
“To follow McGruder,” Abby stated quietly, her eyes still on the kitchen door.
“You guys don’t trust him,” May exhaled quietly when she realized what was happening…a statement not a question.
I put my hand over hers and turned to look up at her. “Trust is a big deal in our business May, and he laid a huge amount of information on us without really telling us anything.”
May nodded distractedly. I think she had been so excited that McGruder was offering something exhilarating for me to do that she never gave a thought to whether he was on the up and up.
She looked down at me and smiled, her reverie broken.
Taking her chair beside me, she patted my hand. “Yes Gabe, I had just assumed that you would jump at his offer. But I can see now that the wise move is to be suspicious until you can confirm some things.”
Turning toward me, her blue eyes glowed as she smiled. “I’m just afraid however, that your normal system of checks won’t work very well on this particular man.”
As if confirming May’s prediction, Preacher came back into the house at that moment, his face a mask of frustration.
“I lost the son of a bitch!”
“You lost him?” Abby exclaimed. “But he just left!”
“I am aware,” Preacher responded tightly as he picked up his cup and moved toward the coffee maker.
“I saw him drive off. When I got to the street I could see him a block away. By the time I got my car rolling, he had his signal on to turn right. At the end of the block he turned, and thirty seconds later I did the same.”
“And he was gone?” I asked, perplexed.
“Disappeared off the face of the earth…like one of those huge elephants on a TV magic show.”
I went over the area in question in my head. Heading west on my street, McGruder would have ended up on
Nowlin Avenue. Turning right would have
taken him north on Nowlin…basically a two-lane county road out of town. There
were few roads to turn off of for the next quarter mile, and the road was
fairly straight…you can see almost a half mile ahead at that point.
“He could have done it by simply speeding up. If he had accelerated to over sixty miles an hour he probably would have been out of sight in thirty seconds.”
Preacher shrugged, “He was driving real slow before that…old man slow. Plus, his car was just an old Ford sedan.”
“You mean like an old Crown Vic?” Abby interjected excitedly, “Like they use for police cruisers?”
Preacher shrugged again dejectedly, “Could have been…I guess…”
“Whether he shot off like a rocket or magically made his car disappear, that’s a lot of deception to throw at us the first day,” I said dejectedly. “How far can we trust someone like that?”
“I’m with Gabe,” Preacher offered angrily, “All this sneaky shit doesn’t sit well with me.”
As we quietly mulled this over, I glanced at May, who was smiling across the table. My eyes followed hers to find Abby deep in thought.
“What say you Abby?” May questioned quietly.
Seeming surprised at hearing her name, Abby glanced up, looking from one to the next of us before speaking.
“I disagree,” she stated simply.
“You disagree?” an angry Preacher responded. “He’s already deceiving us and we haven’t even started working for him yet!”
“Is he what?” I replied, surprised at her proclamation.
“Is he deceiving us? In this particular case anyway, I’m not sure we have been looking at it the right way.”
“Please,” Preacher sighed with frustration, “Enlighten us.”
“Ok…ok…here’s my thoughts. Number one, who’s to say that this wasn’t his normal mode of operation? If we are to believe what he has told us so far…and there’s no reason to doubt it…maybe he has to be careful.”
“Look what he has dredged up on us so far!” she continued. “My information wasn’t top secret or anything, but neither was it important enough to surface anywhere on its own…I mean who would care about my past?”
“And another thing…how could he know about Dirk? No one keeps records on cats!”
“And your stuff Preacher…that was buried. Not only did he find it, he was able to alter it…to protect you! That’s some amazing shit!”
“It is actually,” I agreed.
“Someone like that…doing what he does…that’s bound to make somebody pissed. By the very nature of what he does, I can see where he would have to be careful…probably all the time.”
We quietly digested what she had imparted to us before I interrupted.
“Did you imply there would be a second reason for what he did today?” I asked.
Abby grinned. “Yep! He could have just been showing off…trying to impress us…like the text messages this morning.”
“Might I say something?”
All eyes turned to May, who sat there with a determined smile on her face.
“Of course May,” I smiled. “None of us meant in any way to exclude you…you’re one of us now.”
“You just have to learn to jump in when you feel like saying something May!” Abby grinned.
May’s smile widened. “It will take some getting used to, but thank you!”
“I know I don’t have the same background as you all,” she continued, “But I do have a few skills that have served me well over the years, and one of those would be witness interviewing.”
Although no longer practicing, I sometimes forgot that May had been an attorney for most of her adult life.
“Among other things, we would have to form a judgment on the truthfulness of what the witness would say or how he acted when he was on the witness stand or in interviews.”
She paused before continuing.
“Based on what I saw this morning…I believe Mr. McGruder to be truthful…I trust him.”
“Not that I don’t have faith in your judgment May…” Preacher started.
“Hear me out please Preacher,” May exclaimed with determination, her hand held out, palm forward as if she were stopping traffic.
“I was pretty certain of his honesty during most of the meeting…but it’s what happened at the end that gives me the confidence of my feelings.”
“The pain?” I asked, turning to meet her eyes. “It looked to me like he was in pain.”
“Precisely!” May grinned. “People in that much pain and fatigue have a harder time lying, and going through the motions of trying to avoid your tail would be extremely trying…unless he was used to doing it all of the time…his standard practice if you will.”
Clearing her throat, she then wrapped up her thoughts.
“In my humble opinion, Mr. McGruder was quite frank with us this morning when he said he could use your help.”
“I’m in,” Abby grinned then, glancing toward Preacher.
Preacher shrugged. “My gut tells me to believe you guys no matter what I believe. Besides, if he did actually alter my records, I owe him anyway.”
Abby and Preacher then turned questioning eyes toward me.
“Gabe?” Abby questioned.
I sat back in my chair to give it a little more thought. From the whole conversation I would have to agree that he was probably being truthful…but what after that?
Were we even able to handle the work he had promised us?
Would we even like it?
I was too old to start doing stuff that I didn’t enjoy…I was doing that now!
Sighing, I leaned forward, ready I supposed to put in my two-cent’s worth.
“I think we should call Snake before we give our answer, but other than that…I’m in.”
“Yessss!” Abby exclaimed. “Handsomely paying jobs here we come!”
I had to grin at her reaction…outwardly at least. Inwardly…I hoped that we weren’t making a mistake…
November 24, 2000
“Marshrut devushki byla ustanovlena ... ona ostavlyayet v techeniye dvukh nedel’,” the pockmarked man uttered as he entered the room. “My mozhem vzyat’ yeye, kogda ona prizemlyayetsya.”
“Rysk gris” (Russian pig) the other person in the room hissed under their breath, icy blue eyes flashing at the Slavic words.
“English! Speak English or nothing at all!”
“As you wish,” the man responded after a brief moment, biting back his preferred reply. “I only mentioned that the girl’s itinerary has been set…and that she leaves in two weeks. It will be an easy thing to grab her once her plane lands, will it not moy Rukovoditel?” (my Leader)
The woman turned from the Russian, glancing out at the barrenness that surrounded her new home.
Her blood pressure rose with just that small glance.
“And what of the other thing?” she asked as she turned to face the man again. “Will it be enough?”
The big Russian shrugged his shoulders, causing a clump of greasy hair for fall across one of his eyes.
“I know not of the response, it is much too early to…how you say…spec-u-late. He does have ties to the girl’s Papa…does he not? It would be unusual if he were not called for such an event.”
The woman nodded absently while she eyed the stupid Russian, wondering if he would push the nasty hair out of his eyes before her senses overwhelmed her and she shot him.
“Keep me apprised Ivan,” she replied instead as she once again turned toward the window. “But you better have your part in this down pat. Failure is not an option…failure can be deadly.”
Ivan licked his lips at the veiled threat while his eyes held on the beauty of her backside.
You will be bent over the desk for me before this is all over Printsessa, he thought to himself, noticing a further reaction below his belt, screaming for Ivan…begging for Ivan…
“Your wish is my command, moy Rukovoditel,” he said aloud then, “We will not fail you.”
Taking another long glance at her ass, Ivan turned on his heel and left the office.
The woman’s lip curled slightly with the sound of the door. She had known that Ivan Primalov had been eyeing her…expecting to be paid an amorous bonus when the job was done…a bonus that would never happen.
Dropping her hand to her belt, she ran her fingers lovingly along the hilt of the small knife she kept there.
She would take great pleasure watching the pig squeal when the time came…