The Sentinel Ch. 11byJPMMURPHY©
Jack called Michelle early to ask how the refrigerator was stocked and if anything else was needed so a friend coming in from out of town could occupy the executive suite for a week or so.
"Yes, Mr. Pond, it's all set. The concierge expects you and turned the heat on last night. Do you need a car today?"
"Yes, I do, around 9, and I'll need it all day. Can you send Miguel, or is he busy?"
"Yes, I can, and I'll give him the key to the apartment."
"One other thing, is Juan around?" Jack asked.
"One moment, I'll connect you, Mr. Pond." Michelle paused before saying, "Have a good day, Jack; I'm glad to see you're getting out."
Some elevator music played, and Juan came on the line. "What is this; don't you know some of us have to work?" But the chuckle in his voice belied the message.
"Nice to say hi to you, too, cabron," as Jack matched Juan's mock annoyance.
"Hey, I'm trying to lock this deal up before Thanksgiving," and softening his tone, he continued, "What can I do for you today, my friend?"
"I need something, and I need it today." But Jack stopped short of telling him what he needed.
"Hey, I head up a freight and shipping company. I can get anything you want, delivered where you want, and when you want. What is it Jack?"
"A handgun. Whatever our security people are using and two clips of ammo."
There was silence before Juan finally responded, "Do you want this legal or something a little less traceable?"
"Legal, if you can, Juan. If not legal, then completely untraceable."
"Oh, I think we still have a friend or two down at the police station. What do I tell them? Personal protection, registered to you?"
"That will do, nicely. Jan and I are going over to shop some at Macys. We'll eat around there, and I'll check in from the car when we get done."
"Okay, Jack, don't worry; we'll get it done."
Turning to find Jan leaning on the kitchen counter sipping a cup of coffee, he explained, "It's not going to happen again, Jan."
Linda languished in bed, having decided the previous evening what she would do next. Ordering breakfast from room service and turning on the shower to warm up the bathroom, she pulled out jeans and a turtleneck sweater and dug around in her suitcase for gloves and a scarf. New York was definitely not the place for a west-coaster to retire to, she thought.
She took a quick shower, and breakfast arrived as she started getting dressed. Standing barefoot, hair damp around her shoulders, in jeans and nothing else, she watched the busboy's reaction to her body closely. Her skin was flushed and pink from the hot water, while her nipples grew visibly as she stood bare-breasted, smiling to herself, at the feeling of power, Yes, I do have the power, she thought.
Today was to be a shopping day. She would see the sights a little and prepare for a visit to Mr. Pond's residence. Grabbing an old backpack she'd brought on the trip and dropping in her wallet with a few other items, Linda headed out.
Wrapped in the heaviest winter coat she'd found to bring on the trip, a scarf and ski mittens recovered from the back of her closet, and the backpack thrown over one shoulder, she headed for the subway system, taking a train up past Central Park and getting off in the heart of what she knew would be Harlem. Climbing the subway stairs, she was confronted with a different world - a microcosm of smells, colors, and sounds that contrasted greatly to the uniformed doormen and glittery, store windows of midtown Manhattan.
Pulling a scrap of paper from her coat pocket, she checked the address and got her bearings. Heading west, she took in the look, the feel and the rhythm of a darker side of the town as she watched the street signs. Finding her corner, she turned left and walked half a block to an alley. It was 10 in the morning, and although there was a clear sky above the indicated meeting point, a dumpster, about 20 feet down the alley and to the left, still had a dark and foreboding look to it.
Shifting the backpack as if it were a lifeline, Linda gathered her resolve and took a step into the alley while her eyes continued to scan the dumpster and the rubbish that surrounded it.
Then, there was a flash of color with a tug on her shoulder, and she froze as her backpack disappeared into the hand of a bicycle rider who turned and looked, leering at her, over his shoulder. Damn, she thought and started running after him, only to stop, almost immediately, when the cyclist turned around just beyond the dumpster and skidded to a stop. He stood, balanced over the short frame of a bike which was similar to one of those trick bikes that could dance and pirouette around a parking lot or down a flight of stairs when in the hands of the proper rider.
What she thought was a dreadlocked, teenage boy became a man in his 30's, black and bulky under his ski jacket, jeans, and heavy boots. He had a face that might have been attractive had it not been for a deep scar that ran from his right ear, down his jawline, and disappeared off the end of his chin.
Continuing to balance the bike between his legs, he found the zipper of the backpack and opened it to look in. She'd dropped her wallet, brush, lipstick, and bureau ID in there before leaving the hotel, and it made a small bundle in one corner of the backpack. Her presence, only ten feet away, seemed to be of little importance as a hand went in and came out with her wallet. Unsnapping the clasp, it flipped open, and he glanced at the credit cards, slipped into the inside cover for easy access. Below that, was her driver's license under a plastic window.
Looking up at Linda and back at the driver's license, he finally asked, "What you doin' wanderin' 'round in Harlem, girl?" Seemingly unconcerned with any information she could provide, he dropped the wallet back inside the backpack and pulled out her bureau ID holder, flipping it open.
"Damn, girl. You a cop?" This time, he waited for a response.
"I'm a government employee; I investigate internet crime." So much for being in control, she thought, as the slight quiver of her voice betrayed any semblance of being calm or unaffected by her current circumstance.
"Damn, girl, ya gotta stay off'n da' internet. Nothin' but bad shit out there."
With that, he dropped the ID back in the backpack, pulled the zipper closed, and tossed it back to Linda.
She just stood there and stared, not sure exactly what to do or what reaction was expected to his impromptu search of her personal possessions.
Walking his bike over to the side of the dumpster, he slid off and left it, leaning against a stack of garbage bags, out of view from the street 20 feet away. Reaching under his coat to the small of his back, he pulled out a dirty brown paper bag and held it, waiting for her to make the first move. Suddenly, realizing he was, in fact, her 'contact' that the concierge had put her in touch with, she walked over to stand in front of him and waited.
"Who you gonna shoot, little girl?"
"No one, I hope," she responded.
Suddenly, the Harlem gutter speech was replaced by a gentle, refined baritone as he reached into the brown paper sack and pulled out a leather-zippered bag. "No, I don't believe you will. It's a Smith and Wesson 38, detective special, as you requested. Two speed loaders, a box of ammo - hollow point, an ankle holster and rubber grips. No serial number and not traceable. Take a look, and be careful; it's loaded."
Linda took the offered bag and almost let it slip through her fingers from the unexpected weight. Getting a firmer grip, she unzipped the pouch and looked inside. Everything was there as advertised. Pulling a mitten off with her teeth, she reached into the pouch and pulled the gun out. She offered the leather bag to her mysterious salesman as she slid the release, popped the cylinder open, and confirmed it was, in fact, loaded. Then pushing the cartridge release, she let the bullets fall into her gloved palm, and she pocketed them. Closing the cylinder, she pulled the hammer back and inspected the firing pen. Then she lifted the gun and sighting on a cat, sitting 10 yards away, she squeezed the trigger.
Finally, she pulled the bullets from her pocket, reloaded the gun, and put it back into the offered, leather pouch. Then, digging in her backpack, she pulled out her wallet and $500 dollars in fifty-dollar bills.
As she handed the bills over, she took the leather pouch and dropped it into her backpack. "Thanks," was all she said.
"You have a nice day, young lady and if you feel lonely, give me a call. I don't always ride around on a bicycle."
Straddling his bike again, the Harlem street talk returned as if it was an accessory included in the purchase of his 'wheels'.
"Yo. Momma, you be lookin' real fine." With that, he was gone, just another 'black kid cruisin' the streets of Harlem.
The Internet Crime Bureau was not considered a violent crime fighter, and its employees were considered just that - employees - case workers and management. And although the ICB had a military management structure like most crime fighting units, they were not issued or expected to carry firearms. But, at the same time, training was given and proficiency expected in their use. It was as if they expected you to stop a perpetrator by taking the stance, raising both hands, pointing a vicious finger, and yelling, 'Stop, I know how to use a gun'. Government wisdom was often beyond the common man and always beyond logic.
It was after one in the afternoon when Jack and Jan finally settled into one of the many eateries at Macy's for lunch. The shopping bags and winter coats made them appear more like a harried couple, trying to beat the Christmas rush, than a pair of intrepid vigilantes.
When the car arrived, Jack had wheeled down in his wheelchair and let Miguel help him into the backseat before storing his 'crutch on wheels' in the trunk for him; it was a small, light, black chair with no arms that he fondly referred to as his 'sports car'.
Arriving at the front of the store, he'd looked at the revolving doors, letting people in one side while spitting more people out the other side, all of them with shopping bags on their arms as they rushed through their morning. He had decided, then and there, that he was not going to struggle around the store, using elevators and watching people step out of his way. He was going to enjoy the feel of Jan at his side, shoulder to shoulder, looking into her eyes, and not up at her as she gazed down.
When Miguel retrieved the wheelchair from the trunk, popping it open to push around to the door, he was confronted with a man, standing at the back door of the car, offering a hand to Jan as she stepped out. So entrenched in the idea that Mr. Pond couldn't walk, he jumped forward to make sure his occupants weren't being harassed or bothered and was confronted by a smiling Mr. Pond as he turned back to close the door.
"That won't be necessary, Miguel, but I'd appreciate it if you'd keep this under your hat until after Thanksgiving. Can I count on that?"
A little flustered, Miguel finally managed a stammered, "Of course, Mr. Pond."
Leaving him on the sidewalk, mouth still agape, Jack was warmed by the touch of Jan's hand as she took his and leaned in to rest her head, briefly on his shoulder. "I'm glad, Jack," she whispered.
Yes, it was a banner day for Jack. He was walking again only blocks from where his tragedy had started two years ago. He was moving among the living, and he had Jan at his side.
He had found it a little exciting to 'get out' and mingle, doing everyday things, looking at the merchandise, seeing the latest and sleekest in new gadgets, and smelling perfumes as they walked through the women's department - the bustle, smells, and sounds of a completely normal world - one he'd abandoned for far too long.
Jan had gone to the ladies' room, leaving him to peruse the menu when two uniformed police officers brought him out of his reverie as they waited beside the table for his attention. Glancing up, he recognized one as the officer that had shot him the day Lisa had died. Somehow it seemed appropriate, and he immediately stood to shake the officer's hand.
"I'm glad to see you. How have you been, Mike?" he asked as if meeting an old friend on the street.
Looking at Jack as if he were a ghost, he finally responded with, "Fine, Mr. Pond. Fine. And you?"
"Doing good, Mike. Here, have a seat," as he indicated two of the empty seats at the table.
"But you can walk. When did that happen?"
Jack proceeded to explain the new operation he'd had a month ago. Things had gone well - better than expected, in fact, and today was his first foray into the real world. "Somehow, it's appropriate you're here to witness it, Mike. Nice to run into you."
He'd made it a point, although a painful one for him, to send a letter of commendation to NYPD for Mike's 'quick and concise action in the face of a confusing and potentially dangerous situation', adding that he attributed most of the confusion to his own poor handling of the situation. He'd also made it a point to have Michelle send Mike a bottle of his favorite every Christmas.
Recovering with a smile, Mike put a small black briefcase on the table between them, clicked the locks, and turned it around for Jack to open. Putting a hand on top so he could explain first, he searched Jack's eyes before continuing. "The Chief asked me to find you and make sure you got it today. It's what some of our undercover guys use. A 9mm Browning, two clips, two boxes of ammo, and a clip holster that can be used in the small of the back or on the side. Sorry to ask, Mr. Pond, but do you know how to use this?" With that, he lifted his hand from the top of the case, and Jack reached out to open it enough to see everything described, stored snuggly in black foam cut out to size and shape. Snapping it shut, Jack set the case on the floor beside his chair.
"Yes, I do, Mike. My father taught me how to handle a gun, and I learned a little more in one of those 'Executive Anti-Kidnap' courses about four years ago. Our insurance broker insisted I take it, but I'm sure I could use some practice," Jack responded. "Nice of you to ask though."
"It's registered in your name, Mr. Pond, with authorization to carry it in the city and state of New York," Mike explained.
Jan appeared and wasn't sure what to make of the two uniformed officers at the table with Jack. "May I?" she asked, standing at her chair, waiting to see if this was a private meeting.
Standing to pull her chair back, Jack made the introductions, referring to Jan as a 'close friend' in town for a visit.
Pleasantries were exchanged, and the officers stood to leave. "We'll be off, Mr. Pond, and let me tell you again, it's great to see you up and around. Nice to meet you," and they both acknowledged Jan and left.
"You get a parking ticket for abandoning your wheelchair at the curb?" she asked.
"No. They dropped something off. I'm hungry; how about you?" With that, it became obvious Jack didn't want to discuss whatever had taken place, and Jan decided she was just as hungry and enjoying the morning too much to pry.
John couldn't believe his luck, finding Suzi-q-zi out in the middle of the day. Her camera was turned on and private, and it gave him a small thrill to find the password was the same. Sure, why would she change it; she's looking for me. Of course, she is; I know what she wants, he thought.
After 45 minutes of mindless dribble about her boyfriend and his poor departed wife, he was starting to loose his patience. If all she wants to do is talk, maybe Ann Landers can help out. What a drag. But, as if she'd read his mind, suzi-q-zi typed, "I need to take a shower. Wanna join me?"
Hell yes, thought John but instead he typed, "Sure, I've got awhile longer."
Her response surprised him.
"Don't let me keep you," and with that, she stood in front of the camera and pushed the terry cloth robe off her shoulders. Damn, she is so fine, thought John as his hand went to his crotch, and he squeezed his semi-hard cock a little. Maybe, I had better be careful, he thought; I don't want to loose this, not yet, anyway.
"Naw, just kiddin," he typed back.
Her response surprised him again as she bent over her laptop, giving him a long look at her full breasts which were a nice coffee with cream color and nipples, dark and hard. "Much better. If you're real good, I'll let you wash my back."
He sat, a little annoyed at the controlling nature of her response, and watched as she set up the computer and camera in the bathroom, giving him a view into the shower stall. Who does she think she is, anyway? Hell, she's just some black bitch with a body, made for riding like any other. His annoyance quickly gave way to lusty grunts and Kleenex-gripping as he watched the water and suds cascade across her skin. Then she turned, facing the camera, and lifted her leg onto the side of the shower-tub to trim her small black pubic patch, and he lost it.
Slumped in his chair, he watched as she finished up. Wrapping herself in a towel, she picked up the camera and laptop and moved into her bedroom. There, she placed the laptop on a chest of drawers that disappeared from sight as she pointed the camera at the bed, giving John a full view of what might take place next. He was surprised to find himself aroused so soon.
"Hey, you, you limp dick, white asshole. Where's your cam?"
Shocked, John leaned forward in his seat and actually stopped breathing from the rage he was feeling. Who the hell does she think she is? Suddenly, two shiny, leather, spike-heeled boots appeared in the middle of the bed, followed by a riding crop, tossed to one side. What the hell was going on, he wondered. But he was hooked, drawn in completely by the promise of something more than just run-of-the-mill cybersex, so he replied.
"It's sitting on top of my monitor."
The reply was immediate.
"I don't want to know where it's sitting, you cracker; I want to know why it isn't turned on."
Cracker? What the hell is this, he thought, and grabbed his mouse to close the chat. But he stopped, arrow hovering above the small X in the upper right-hand corner when he saw her crawl into the bed on her hands and knees, naked. Her ass was turned toward the cam, and she rolled onto her back, raising a leg for the camera. Reaching to the side, she lifted one of the boots and slid it on, pulling the zipper up to its edge at her knee. The dark crack between her legs rocked with her movements as her breasts swayed between her knees.
He watched her ass as she rolled onto her stomach and moved around on the bed, pulling the computer onto the covers beside her.
"Hey, limp dick, I'm waiting on you. If I don't have your fucking cam on my screen in five seconds, with a shot of that needle dick of yours, I'm going to turn off my cam."
He couldn't believe it. He wanted to shut her off but couldn't. Looking down at his lap with his pants around his knees and his cock now a wilted wad, he was torn between shooting the stupid bitch and turning his cam on for her. With that, her picture went black, and she typed another message.
"What's a matter? Poor, little, white boy afraid to come out and play with his big, black momma?"
In a rage, he clicked on his broadcaster and put in a password. Clicking 'Broadcast', he typed, "There it is. The password is black bitch." And hit Enter.
"Well, you better change it and be fast about it. Make the password needle_dick."
He smoldered as he watched her cam come back on, and he could see her other leg in the air as she closed the zipper on the second boot, letting her hand come to rest on her pubic mound, her fingers draped down over her crack. Stopping his broadcaster, he made the password change and brought it back on-line.