Brother’s Keeper: Episode 6

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

He checks his watch; the countdown timer reads, “00:07:22”.

***

In a desolate harbour along the East River, the engine of a stylish and agile-looking cruising boat ignites. A tanned strapping man with dark shoulder-length hair tied up in a bun leaps off the cruiser onto the harbour and crouches as he attempts to release the cruiser’s anchor.

‘It is very cold out here,’ Jay calmly says from behind the man.

The man freezes for a moment, but doesn’t turn as he slowly stands.

‘I know you have a weapon on you,’ Jay says. ‘I wouldn’t expect any less. It’s almost certainly a .44 Magnum Desert Eagle, and it’s by your left hip – I can tell by the way you move; I’ve been watching you. I also know right now you are seriously considering reaching for it. Don’t.’

The man is visibly astounded, because he does in fact have a .44 Magnum Desert Eagle tucked in his belt by his left hip. ‘You are the Captain, yes?’ he asks with a heavy Latin accent.

‘Yes.’

The man slowly turns around to face Jay. He stares at Jay, who’s still wearing the pyjamas and slippers. The man does a good job at hiding his bewilderment whilst remaining outwardly stern, but then he breaks a smile.

‘I know what you’re thinking,’ Jay says. ‘And you are correct, I am unarmed. But there are at most three steps between us. I will be on you before you can pull out the gun. Your neck will be exposed and I will shatter your throat with one strike. Your death will be slow as you choke on your blood. But the moment you hit the deck, I’d have forgotten all about you. I will drive the boat and rendezvous with your people at the strip. And if they don’t oblige, I will kill them too and fly the plane. It’s a Cessna 400, I’ve flown one twice before. And nothing will come of your deaths. The people you work for will accept it as the cost of doing business. Because what is the alternative? You come after me? After us? We are ghosts. We are nowhere and everywhere. We surface only to destroy. But then that’s why we were hired.’

There is a pause as they stare intently at each other and the man strongly considers Jay’s words.

‘In short,’ Jay continues. ‘I don’t need you or your people. But I’d rather not kill you either. So, what’s it going to be?’

The man nods and says, ‘Okay, captain. Let’s go.’

Jay nods and the man turns around to complete releasing the cruiser’s anchor. The man leaps onto the cruiser and Jay follows close behind. They hurry into the cockpit and the man calmly directs the cruiser out of the harbour. The further away from the harbour the faster the cruiser goes, until it reaches its incredible top speed.

The man glances at Jay and says, ‘Your people told me to leave, that you were not going to make it to the harbour.’

‘I know,’ Jay says as he stares into the deep dark emptiness ahead.

***

It’s a very sunny day in little Havana as the sun seemingly hangs right above and the sky is devoid of clouds. Jay, resembling a tourist in every manner especially in his Havana hat and aviator sunglasses, walks casually along a very lively street and steps into a convenient store. He takes off his sunglasses as he walks directly to the chirpy cashier behind the till. He politely smiles and asks in fluent Spanish, without a hint of his British accent, for a burner – a cheap prepaid mobile phone. Without saying a word, the cashier hands him a burner with the price stickered on the packet. Jay gives the cashier $30 in cash and walks out of the store, leaving his change.

He wears his sunglasses as he walks along the street. He unpacks the phone and tosses the packet into a bin before he dials a number into the phone. It rings twice before it is answered. But there is no sound at the other end of the line. And there won’t be; it’s a voice recognition answering machine.

‘One … two … three … four … five,’ Jay says into the phone, and ends the call.

A moment later, the phone rings and Jay immediately answers.

‘Captain,’ Mr Smith says. ‘Line secure?’

‘It’s a burner. Disposing it once this conversation is done.’

‘You’ve lost the SIM?’

‘No.’

A moment of silence.

‘Why not use it. It is always secure.’

‘This will do just fine for the moment. You disagree?’

The truth is that Jay doesn’t want to use the SIM because in the worst-case scenario – his employers are working against him – he doesn’t want his exact location tracked, and Mr Smith knows this. Pressing the issue will only make Jay more cautious.

‘I gather you made it to the extraction.’

‘Yes. As always.’

‘As always,’ Mr smith repeats. ‘I must admit that I underestimated you. It won’t ever happen again.’ He pauses a moment to allow Jay to respond, but Jay doesn’t. ‘Captain, I know you don’t make mistakes. You killed the wrong officer. Why?’

‘That’s not important.’

‘Everything is important. And you let the wife live, even after she saw your face.’

‘She wasn’t part of the job.’

‘But she saw your face.’

‘I know.’

‘Captain, you’re going home.’

‘That’s not our deal. It’s one more job and I’m done. I’ll go home then.’

‘Well, Captain, you should’ve thought about that. I didn’t think I’d ever have to say this to you, but … it is too late for morals. We can’t use you right now. Your description is all over the wires. You need a break.’

‘I …’

‘Until the dust settles, you do. We’ve informed the Cubans of the change in plan. I’ll be in touch.’

Mr smith ends the call.

Jay stops and closes his eyes as he fights hard to control his emotions. He instinctively clenches his fists until the phone suddenly crushes in his right hand. He snaps open his eyes and stares at the crushed phone. He laughs at himself.

‘Alright then,’ he says to himself. ‘Home it is.’ He laughs softly, but he’s not amused.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 5

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

‘He’s gone!’ …

***

Hotel staff and residents – most dressed in nightwear or bathrobes; some appear still drowsy or maybe drunk, some, mostly middle-aged men, make evident their varying degrees of frustration at being suddenly woken up, while the rest are utterly curious and bewildered by the heavy police presence – are quickly but carefully ushered out of the hotel by armed SWAT officers and led past the controlled chaos of the seemingly countless ambulances, police cars, and officers – plain clothed, uniformed, and more SWAT – to a large containment area across the street, which is surrounded by armed and somewhat nervy uniformed officers.

A SWAT officer barges through the entrance carrying one of the unconscious officers from the elevator over his shoulder and screams for urgent medical help. Three paramedics rush to attend to the unconscious officer and a dozen more are directed through the entrance towards the elevator.

Suddenly, there is a loud explosion and everyone instinctively ducks. Almost immediately, it becomes apparent that the explosion had come from the side of the building and the control on the chaos shatters. A lot of officers take off towards the explosion with their guns raised; the crowd in the containment area are in disarray, fuelled by deathly fear, confusion, and an incredible urge to flee. The uniformed officers desperately attempt to contain the crowd, but a substantial portion of the crowd escape containment and run like their lives depended on it away from the explosion. The uniformed officers order them to stop and threaten to shoot, but the officers won’t shoot; they literally have their hands full containing the rest of the crowd and a gunshot would only cause the containment to get exponentially harder.

Most of the escaped run into a large crowd of onlookers for refuge, but one of the escaped, Jay Matthews, dressed in pyjamas and a hotel bathrobe, carefully wades through the crowd.

Jay steps out of the crowd with the bathrobe now folded over his left hand and walks purposefully through the parked cars that were abruptly held up by the police roadblocks around the hotel and now abandoned by their occupants, who are now the captivated onlookers. He stops by a black BMW 6 Series Coupe, and a moment later, the car’s rear and headlights flash as the doors unlock. He unfurls the bathrobe to reveal the car’s remote key held in his left hand and several other car keys tucked in the bathrobe, all of which he’d pickpocketed while wading through the crowd. He wraps the other keys in the bathrobe and tosses it away as he steps into the car.

He ignites the car and smooth jazz music saunters through the stereo as the dashboard lights up. He smiles briefly; he likes jazz, conjures up good memories. He deftly reverses through the narrow spaces between haphazardly parked cars and turns into the next street.

He usually wouldn’t steal a car to aid an escape, although he has done it twice before, in Kuala Lumpur and Sao Paulo, but in both places the response to the report of a stolen car isn’t at all swift; to be frank, it isn’t much of a response. In New York it can be swift, but not when most of the officers are preoccupied with the fiery diversion, which also happens to be occupying the owner of the car.

His entire escape was planned, down to the minutiae. It is what he does; it’s beyond his excellent and exhaustive training. It’s based on experience; he failed once, almost fatally. Never again. The moment he steps into a building, a room, a vehicle – any new environment – he calculates how to get out, considering all calibre of opposition and all manners of constraints. He will be out in less than 5 minutes, and if he can’t work a way out in that time, he will terminate the mission immediately.

He drives carefully for a few blocks devoid of cars but full of pedestrians walking towards the hotel to get a better look at the chaos. Then he turns into 39th street and sees a roadblock ahead manned by a young female officer of oriental descent. He contemplates turning around, but it becomes very evident the officer has seen him.

She keenly watches the car as it approaches, and she raises her hand to stop it; he stops the car. She casually places her right hand on her handgun, which is holstered by her hip, and walks intently towards the car, appearing utterly confident, but she isn’t and he can see it in her eyes. He knows he’s going to have to put her down, and it will be vicious, because he has no weapon to do it clean and easy; all his weapons and kit have been destroyed in the explosion. He could run her over now, he should, but he doesn’t, and not because they are witnesses. He just doesn’t. He stares deep into her eyes as she approaches, as if silently imploring her to stop, turn around, and go home. Every step closer is a step closer to death.

Then the siren of a fire truck approaching the other side of the barrier stops her. She turns around to it and glances back at him. He smiles and nods respectfully, and in that moment she makes the crucial decision. She hurries back to the roadblock and opens the barrier to let the fire truck through. Immediately the truck drives past him, he drives up to the barrier; not giving her a chance to close it.

He doesn’t stop as he approaches the barrier, but slows down enough to say with a smile, ‘Thank you, Officer.’

She forces a smile back as he drives off.

He glances back at her in his rear view mirror as he joins the traffic towards the East River. He is sincerely thankful she made the right decision.

He checks his watch; the countdown timer reads, “00:07:22”.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 4

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

He runs, incredibly fast, towards the elevator door as it slowly opens …

Jay slides feet first into the elevator just as its doors open wide enough for him to fit through and he immediately takes out the legs of a SWAT officer just beyond the doors.

The are four officers behind the first officer, and all are momentarily surprised and confused by the first officers sudden wild fall, but in that very brief moment of their indecision Jay jabs the electroshock baton into the first officers neck – delivering an electric shock that renders the officer unconscious – and jabs the baton at the groin of the next officer, who immediately collapses, unconscious.

The next officer behind attempts to aim his assault rifle at Jay, but Jay leaps to his feet and as he rises he pushes the gun’s barrel up towards the ceiling with his left hand and drives the baton into the chin of the officer – like an uppercut, which by itself could’ve knocked out the officer, but the shock from the baton renders the officer unconscious anyway. The officer falls backwards like a log and an extremely stocky officer behind him frantically stumbles away from the fall to far right corner of the small elevator as another officer in the left aims an automatic shotgun at Jay.

Jay doesn’t hesitate; he charges at the stocky officer as the officer attempts to regain his balance – he knows the officer in the left corner wouldn’t shoot the shotgun at him in such a confined space with his fellow officer squarely within range of the shotgun’s wide pellet blast.

The stocky officer aims his assault rifle at Jay’s head, but as he pulls the trigger Jay swings the baton at the rifle’s barrel and the bullet whizzes past Jay’s ear. Jay then uses his momentum to drive his left elbow into the jaw of the officer before the officer can repair his aim and fire again. The elbow strike stuns the officer and Jay jabs the officer’s ribs with the baton, but there is no shock as the baton is damaged from its impact with the rifle. Without pause, Jay swings the baton into the jaw of the officer three times in under a second, knocking the officer unconscious, and then tosses the baton at the right arm of the officer in the left corner, who is pulling out a handgun holstered by his hip.

The handgun flies away from the officer’s grasp and the officer ignores the intense pain in his arm and readies himself for hand-to-hand combat as Jay fast approaches. He swings a good tight right hook at Jay, but Jay deftly catches the punch, traps the arm, and uses it to pull him down. Jay viciously knees his head, drives it hard onto the floor, and drops an elbow onto the back of his head – all in one swift motion. Needless to say, the officer is unconscious.

Jay runs out of the elevator towards the window across the hallway. He leaps over the incapacitated officers and pulls out his M9 – tucked in his waistband. He shoots at the window three times in a tight cluster and the window shatters. As he approaches the window, he detaches to top of his large belt buckle, which has a seemingly unending very strong string connecting it to the belt. He stabs the sharp hooks of buckle into the wall underneath the window and dives head first out of the window.

***

The second elevator opens and six officers, wearing night vision goggles and their assault rifles raised, cautiously step out. Four of the officers remain by the elevator and intently scan the hallway while the other two others enter the first elevator. A brief moment later, the two officers return and one of them approaches the officer leading the team.

‘Unconscious but alive,’ the officer whispers to the team leader.

‘Alive?’ the team leader questions, without turning to the officer.

‘Yes.’

There is a moment of silence as the team leader ponders.

‘Radio for the medics?’

‘I tried. Radio’s still not working.’

‘Okay, take them down and bring up a couple medics.’

‘Sure?’

‘Yes.’ He gestures to the incapacitated officers in the middle of the hall. ‘They are alive too; still reading heat on the infrared.’

The officer rushes back into the first elevator and a short moment later, the elevator doors close and it descends.

The five officers, led by the team leader, strategically advance along the hallway, carefully sidestep the unconscious officers, and approach Jay’s open room door. The team leader tosses a flash bang into the room; it detonates, and three officers surge from behind him into the room. He and the last remaining officer wait by the door, alert.

Suddenly, there is a loud explosion outside the hotel. The team leader instantly turns to the shattered window, as it’s apparent the explosion came from that side. He and the officer standing by the door run towards the window and stare out into the alley below where a blaze rages. He then notices the string coming up from the alley and traces it to the buckle clamped on the wall.

‘Fuck!’ he exclaims. ‘He’s gone!’

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 3

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

‘Captain,’ Mr Smith says, with a soothing elderly Texas accent. ‘They are coming for you.’ …

Jay doesn’t speak and walks to the window. He discreetly parts the closed curtain and peeks down to the street. He can’t see the front of the hotel, but across the street a crowd of onlookers grows. They are staring captivated at the entrance of the hotel and also up towards the roof of the hotel. He walks back towards the bag.

‘I know,’ Jay says into the phone, with a cultured English accent. ‘We agreed no calls.’

‘It’s a secure line. Captain, you need to give yourself up.’

Jay picks out a matte black M9 pistol with an extended magazine from the bag. He ejects the magazine to confirm it’s full; it is. He reinserts the magazine, chambers a round, fully cocks the hammer, and engages the safety – all in one smooth sequence. He tucks the gun in his waistband by his right.

‘No, I won’t be doing that,’ he calmly says.

‘You have to. You have no other choice. You killed one of theirs. The wrong one,’ he adds with evident exasperation, which is very unusual as Mr Smith never shows emotion – well, he’s just a voice, so he never voices his emotion. He pauses, as if silently scolding himself for his mistake, and continues. ‘He was an 18-year veteran. The wife also saw your face. Now they’ve sent the cavalry for you. Give yourself up, Captain, and we will take care of you. But attempting to shoot your way out of there will create a sizeable international incident that we cannot … we will not … contain. You know we …’

Jay glances at his slick digital wristwatch, which displays a countdown currently at “02:54:38”.

‘It’s still three hours to extraction. I’ll be there in good time.’

‘No. The extractor is a sitting duck. The city will be crawling with police.’

Jay resets the countdown to fifteen minutes.

‘I’ll be there in thirty minutes.’

He ends the call and switches off the phone. He tosses the phone into the bag and wears it across his body – the bag is left open on his left side. He swiftly advances to the door – like a glide, making no sound – and leans his back against the wall by the doorway. He opens the door.

***

An NYPD SWAT team of six officers, who rappelled off a helicopter onto the roof, quietly step through the stairway door – which is across the hall from the elevator – into the tenth floor hallway with their assault rifles raised and tactically advance towards Jay’s room. As they approach the open door, a grenade gently rolls out of the room into the hallway and the door instantly shuts behind it.

‘Grenade!’ two of the SWAT officers simultaneously declare, and they dive away from the grenade.

The grenade detonates, but instead of an explosion a visible electric charge bursts from the grenade both ways across the hallway. The SWAT officers are incapacitated by the charge and instantly collapse, unconscious, as the entire floor loses all electric power.

Jay opens his door and steps out of his room wearing night vision goggles, but as he turns to run towards the large window beside the stairway door he hears one of the officers having an epileptic seizure. Jay feels the ground underneath his feet shake as the large officer’s body shudders violently against the ground. He hesitates, but then he runs back into the bedroom and a moment later runs out with a pillow. He rushes to the convulsing officer, uses his feet to push the officer’s assault rifle away from the officer’s head, and then gently puts the pillow underneath the officer’s head.

Suddenly, he hears one of the two elevators across the hall, which is now powered by an emergency generator, arriving on the tenth floor. He glances across the hall to the window, then towards the elevators, and then down to his watch. It reads “13:22”. He pulls out a sturdy electroshock baton – black and the size of a relay baton with two metal electrodes at its end – from his bag. He runs, incredibly fast, towards the elevator door as it slowly opens.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 2

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Footsteps approach from behind …

Jay swiftly turns to the open door across the room that leads to the hallway, which is where the approaching footsteps emanate. He deftly hurdles a coffee table and smoothly advances to the door with his pistol raised.

Frank’s wife marches into the living room and immediately meets the pistol, aimed at her forehead. She is incapacitated with fear as she stares down the pistol barrel, and she doesn’t breathe.

He lowers the pistol, and she stares with absolute terror at him. He glances down, past her wet nightgown, to the pool of urine expanding out from her feet. He looks into her terrified eyes; there is only one decision to be made. He raises the pistol, and she frantically opens her mouth to plead, but he drives the butt of the pistol onto the back of her head and she collapses to the ground unconscious.

He calmly walks to the back door and steps over the unconscious young officer as he exits the room.

***

Jay steps out of the 42nd Street – Bryant Park subway station and walks briskly along the busy street. He pulls out a small very old model mobile phone and sends a blank text to “MR SMITH”.

A moment later, he smiles politely at the doorman as he steps into a four star 12-storey hotel, and walks through the reception directly to the three lifts across the room. He pushes the call button, and suddenly, his phone begins to vibrate. He pulls it out and checks the caller ID – “Unknown”. His demeanour instantly snaps to full alert and he slots both hands into his jacket pockets; he grabs his pistol, holstered around his shoulder, through a concealed slot in his right hand pocket. He glances backwards to scan the reception – it is empty, besides the evidently very bored receptionist; threat is minimal. He takes a couple steps backwards in readiness to attack as a lift opens, but it is empty. He walks into the lift and stares intently into the reception as the doors close.

He steps out of the lift at the tenth floor and remains motionless with his hands still in his pockets as he scans the hallway. He then walks quickly but quietly through the hallway, paying particular attention to the room doors, and abruptly stops at a room door near the end of the hallway. He uses his left hand to strongly knock the door twice, and closes his eyes as he keenly listens for any sounds beyond the door; there is none. He pulls out the room key card with his left hand and opens the door.

He steps into the room and shuts the door behind him. He switches the light on and immediately back off, and in that moment he’d taken a mental picture of the room; the room is empty and everything inside is as he’d left it. He walks quickly to a small travelling bag on the neatly made bed, but as he unzips it his phone begins to vibrate. He pulls out his phone; caller ID – “MR SMITH”. He answers the call.

‘Captain,’ Mr Smith says, with a soothing elderly Texas accent. ‘They are coming for you.’

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 1

New to the Blog? Read my Introduction and the synopsis of Brother’s Keeper

Midnight approaches and silence reigns in the leafy back garden of a detached house in suburban New York. In a dark corner, light glistens off the silver suppressor of a black M9 pistol in the grip of a gloved hand, and eyes intently stare through a back window into the living room of the police safe house.

In the sparsely lit living room, a scruffy middle-aged police officer sits with Frank – a despicable and overweight hoodlum who’s turned prime state’s witness against his long-time employers and associates. They laugh extremely loudly as they watch The Big Bang Theory on the equally loud television. Another much younger officer stands by the back window, alert. He glances through the window into the garden as he’s done repeatedly over the past three hours, waiting anxiously for his shift to be over. Suddenly, there is movement from above and the young officer instantly looks up.

‘Chill out, kid, it’s the missus,’ Frank says, with a strong Brooklyn accent.

‘I think we woke her,’ the young officer says.

‘Fuck that,’ Frank retorts. ‘She’ll fall back asleep any moment. She can sleep through anything.’ He turns to the older officer beside him on the couch and smiles suggestively as he says, ‘Trust me.’

Frank and the older officer laugh hysterically, and the younger officer forces a smile as he pulls out a cigarette and lighter.

‘Not in here,’ the older officer orders, in an almost identical accent to Frank.

The younger officer nods and diligently walks the couple steps to the back door. He taps in a six-digit code into the alarm control panel by the door and pushes it open. He steps through the door into the back garden, and just before the sturdy door closes behind him, a gloved hand stops it and slowly pushes it open. Jay Matthews – a steely-eyed athletically built man in his late twenties, dressed in black – walks through the door wielding the suppressed M9 pistol. He walks intently towards Frank and the older officer, leaving the younger officer sprawled out unconscious just outside the door.

Frank and the older officers are completely focused on the television, and their boisterous laughter drowns out Jay’s footsteps as he approaches. Frank opens his mouth widely to burst into laughter and Jay shoots him in the mouth. He is dead instantly and slumps lifeless, but Jay shoots him twice more in the chest.

The older officer is motionless but unafraid as he watches Jay calmly pull out a black rose and place it on Frank’s rotund belly.

‘Sorry bout the fucking delay,’ the officer whispers, and gestures to the unconscious younger officer. ‘That fucking boy scout didn’t gimme a chance, was by the door all night. You fucking killed him, right?’

Jay aims the pistol at the officer’s head.

‘Hey! Hey!’ the officer chides, and slaps his bulletproof vest. ‘In the vest! And take a couple steps back. You can’t always trust this NYPD issued shit.’

Jay doesn’t respond.

‘Come on,’ the officer chides. ‘Make it quick. I think the …’

Jay shoots the officer between the eyes, killing him instantly. He stares intently at the lifeless officer; his orders explicitly said to kill everyone in the house except the officer, but fuck that, it had to be done. Suddenly, footsteps approach from behind.