Chapter 2 – The other side
Rhett Jackson drove his SUV up to the white picket fence on the quiet tree lined street that was Maple Drive. He had already been to pick up two coffees at Starbucks one a soy latte with a solitary sweetener and the other a steaming hot brew of black coffee smothered with four sugars. The later was his, and the former his partner of just six weeks, a young and not unattractive Alice Dobbs. The pair had been put together as part of the unrelenting push by the Bush administration to counter any and all intelligence measures in place by the Eastern block or now aptly renamed the European Union.
Alice was top of her class in psychology with an unusual penchant for the supernatural and all things that go bump in the night. Her claim to fame was a case involving a missing senator’s son who was kidnapped for ransom by the Mexican cartels in San Diego. The reported story was that she had an informant, but the sealed case file showed her locating the boy using ‘Telempathy’ the power to use another person’s emotions to understand what they are thinking, therefore deriving an answer to a question that the subject did not wish to divulge. The power also lets her feel emotion over distance by way of telekinetic location, and once locked on to the subject she is like a hound dog with a scent of prey.
It’s not always one hundred percent accurate, but it has many advantages when time and lack of locality are the only known variables. Other than that Alice is a loving and almost childlike spirit because of her gift, and not a hard case.
Alice knew Rhett was there before he pulled up, and was on her way out the ornate led light front door with a depiction of a snow topped mountain landscape as the theme, just as the shining black vehicle pulled to the curb. Her slim legs and muscular frame accentuated by the form fitting Navy suit she had to endure in the position she now held with the Special branch of the CIA.
“Good morning Rhett, I see you have breakfast sorted as usual” she said sliding into the leather passenger seat next to him.
“Yes! Coffee, Soy and one sweetener as always and a thick slice of Aunt May Banana bread wrapped in the obligatory cling film from hell.” Was the response she got and it was becoming a habit even after only six weeks.
“You still drinking that over sweet swill I see.”
“Yep hot and sweet, the right combinations to take paint right off the deco.”
They both took a sip from their paper cups and placed them in the centre console for later use as Rhett slid the automatic gear shift into the drive position and pulled out into the quiet street and started the journey to a yet undisclosed address that was sent via pager to Rhett.
“So what’s on the cards today partner Alice said as she picked up a file that was sitting on the dash board in front of her.
A man and woman had been murdered in their beds and the perpetrator was still on hand at the scene where they had been holding him waiting for the pair to arrive. The husband and wife were nobodies on the surface but the style in which they were murdered by the assailant reeked of careful planning and a planned hit. A single shot to the head and heart in each with little or no defense suggested a hit indeed. The problem was there is little or no evidence on the man responsible. The murderer a Chechnya dissident who was noticed as he came into the country and was followed but the CIA were too late he had already achieved his purpose.
“So why are we on this case?” Alice questioned as she looked over the details once more.
“The CIA had this guy but was not fast enough to stop him from achieving his goal, so now it’s up to us to find out who sent him and why.”
“Ok so he flies into the US from Jamaica, goes to the house and shoots both occupants dead. Then he goes and gets himself caught...Why?”
“That’s were you come in Alice, they want you in his head to see if we can track him back to a start point, they know he left Odessa two days ago and now he’s in a van outside the house where he shot a husband and wife dead.”
“Ok, but why these two, what is the story with them, drug lords or money laundering?”
Rhett looked over at Alice and said “Page fifteen”.
Alice moved the pages and found the information she was looking for both immigrants to the US twenty years prior, he a doctor and she a school teacher for special needs children.
Something didn’t add up they were model citizens, no children of their own on record but they were active in the local area and seemingly normal.
“That’s it isn’t it they were too good to be true!” Alice started to feel the couple as she read and saw the details between the lines.
Rhett looked over at Alice and smiled.
“It would seem our couple was so good at being normal they slotted right in and were virtually invisible, except something must have gone wrong.”
The rest of the drive was spent in silence with Alice reading the file over and over looking for details not written and Rhett was singing to himself as the radio played the best tunes of yesterday and today.
Rhett slowed down and pressed the electric button to drop the driver’s side window and showed his badge as he drove on and parked the SUV in the drive way of the cordoned off house in suburbia. He noticed the neighbors around, some crying, some questioning or being questioned by CIA intelligence operatives but all seemed genuinely stunned at the actions of the night.
As he got out coffee in hand Rhett shut the door and lit a cigarette as he nonchalantly wandered around the scene. It was not a normal act for him but one he had practiced many times before. The act of lighting a cigarette and hiding behind a cupped hand gave him those precious seconds to scan the area almost unseen as Dracula would hide behind his dark cloak in the shadows, looking and picking out his next victim. He found the action disarmed a lot of people and disgusted others so he too blended into the background of invisibility. Nothing outstanding, people in dressing gowns, work suits, joggers and even the odd school kid but there behind a few onlookers at the back was a man in sunglasses and a short sleeve shirt, wearing jeans and black military style boots.
Replacing his cigarettes and taking out a small compact camera he slid behind the vehicle and snapped quickly toward the general area the man was in, but he was gone.
“Damn, I had him” he whispered.
“What was that Jackson” Dave Dickson lead investigator with the CIA said as he moved closer and slapped him on the back.
“Nothing Super, I thought I saw something” I lied taking a mental note of the man his height weight, features that I would call upon later when I sat in front of a sketch artist.
“It’s a clean kill both shot twice, head and heart, just like the old days” Dickson said almost with a smile as he remembered the late seventies fondly.
“Is Alice ready Jackson, we need to understand why they were hit” he said as he walked toward the large secure van surrounded by agents and police.
“Yes sir, Alice over here partner the super wants you to weave your magic while I go inside and look around.”
“Ok” she said as she made her way with the super and entered the high security van.
“Be careful Alice, something’s not right with this” I said softly to her as she passed through the cordon of security and into the metal box as the door was locked tight behind it.
I made my way into the house after I was bagged up, a term used by forensics when they use the all over paper suits, masks and booties to ensure no contamination of the crime scene.
The door was not touched at the front and nothing was disturbed, the rest of the house seemed perfect, the furniture sparse yet comfortable, loads of photos around but none of the young couple just images from the last twenty something years. No baby or child images of either, nor were there any extended family photos either. The couple was clean and meticulous with the house and the cleanliness, as well as the security, a full security system inside with motion sensors and all door and window alarms.
A look out the rear door saw the guard dog with one well placed nine millimeter slug in his head also. A small hole cut in the back window to allow egress into the house and the security pad cover was open and in the switched off position.
“This was no robbery or accident this was planned to perfection.” I said aloud to myself.
Walking slowly up the stairs I noticed a photo hanging on the wall had the glass smashed as if the assailant had hated to look at them on the way out I am gathering.
Footsteps ahead and people talking as the forensic guys were doing their thing vacuuming the bodies and the carpets as well as the bed clothes for any physical evidence left behind. A visual scene of almost serenity greeted me as I viewed the dead lying unknowing and comfortable in their bed. But the stench of death is something you never mistake for anything else in the world.
The bullet wounds precise and consistent with close range and the wife looked as if she rose slightly as if she had heard something but had no chance in saving either of them.
“John anything unusual buddy” I said to the lead forensic investigator John Stewart.
“Rhett, long time pal, no nothing unusual except there is a post mortem contusion on the right cheek and side of the head as if the murderer hit him with something after he shot him in some weird rage.”
“So we have a hit that was personal as well.” I said rubbing my chin.
John stood and handed me a plastic bag that was sealed and tagged with “Evidence 12”
“What do you make of this Rhett” he said as I took hold of the bag and examined the contents.
It was a Makarov single action pistol, late seventies vintage made in Russia and used by the military police as well as the KGB, but their version of choice was usually the silenced Makarov PB.
“Can I take this and show Alice? She has a thing for old handguns.” Well that’s what I told him anyway.
“Sure but remember it has to go back with the rest into evidence.”
I waved my appreciation back at John as I left the room with the cold metal in my hands.
Alice sat across from the man accused of murder and stared thru him not at him as he met her gaze. She studied his face his features and saw sorrow in his eyes that was match and outplayed by the sense of purpose he held within him. The features were Russian but not Muscovite but more Baltic, Latvian mainly, which explained a lot to Alice as she finally met the killers gaze.
“Jums ir dzili nepatiksanas biedrs” she said in slow but deliberately fluent Latvian which translated meant “You are in deep trouble comrade”.
The man shifted in his seat his eyes widened slightly and the pupils dilated marginally as he became quickly uncomfortable.
With only a faint hint of an accent he replied in English, and quickly regained his composure.
“So you know where I am from pretty lady, big deal.”
Alice tilted her head slightly and picked up the hesitance and then training that had created the perfect wall again as his guard went back up but in that fleeting instant she felt the feeling of being alone and without help.
“You do know you will never see light of day once more don’t you! But something tells me that’s not the issue here.”
Again uncomfortable he shifted and she picked up a longing to somewhere else.
“What is your name can we at least talk on equal terms?” she said quietly with a hint of honey coated mesmerism that he could not resist.
“Dainis Balodis, and yours?”
“Alice, let’s keep it informal shall we, there is no need for formalities here especially as you have just murdered two innocent people.”
Again she studied his face as she spoke, and a flash of anger and pride flashed across his face as if he had no choice but to kill these people for an injustice they had perpetrated somehow. He sat back and crossed his arms showing tattoos on his arms that proved to her the feelings of anger and loss of belonging at a young age.
“Dainis why are you so angry at these people, what have they done to you?”
“Not to me….” He stated to say as he moved forward in his seat but then stopped short and regained his composure.
“If not you Dainis, then who, your family?” no response was forthcoming.
“Your ideals your country” a spark of knowing wiped across his face as if a movie flickered in and out of existence that on Alice picked up on.
“So they did something that upset your ideals, your pride was hurt and this was your job is that it?”
Alice knew she had hit a nerve and he became agitated and uncomfortable in his seat.
“Just take me back and throw me in a cell. That’s what you’re going to do isn’t anyway so just do it!” he yelled at her across the table.
Alice shot out her hand and held his manacled hands for the merest of seconds. A life of anger and hatred and a sense of belonging at last overwhelmed her as she felt his emotions welling inside almost to a boiling point.
“You’re a pawn Dainis, what are you atoning for, what sins have you perpetrated to allow you to do this to another human being.”
“They were traitors, scum.” He spat back at her pulling his hands free from hers.
Alice stood and thanks Dainis for his assistance and then turned to Dickson and nodded.
“He is muscle for hire, he is just a pawn in this and it seems our murdered perfect family was more than likely sleepers, Russian agents from the seventies sent here to infiltrate and learn but like most they became soft and enjoyed what the west gave them. This was Payback for not doing as they were ordered.” Alice stood and pointed at the murderer.
“He is a thug and hired gun and he was doing as he was told nothing more.”
Dainis swore in his native tongue and then to add insult also in Russian just so she would know where the orders came from, and in solid drawl told her she was dead anyway, they were all dead.
Rhett made his way to the front door of the house as the first bullet hit is mark, the police officer at the door was thrown backward three feet by the impact and his head now nothing but a pulpy mass of exploded flesh. He hit the ground instinctively and his training took over but his first thought was Alice. A second and third shell burst into the house picking out targets and around the secure van, agents and police were taking cover as the high caliber silent killers stalked them.
A shell hit the van and exploded inside hitting Dave Dickson in the thigh tearing at the artery inside.
Dave screamed at the driver to get them the hell out of the line of fire but unknown to him the driver was already dead and slumped against the wheel.
Alice took cover as best she could while the murderer sat laughing.
All was quiet for just a few seconds before Rhett heard the unmistakable hiss of machine pistol fire and saw three more of his colleagues gunned down at short range. The gunman was the fleeting image he had seen only minutes before. As he lifted his head to see out the window he drew the pistol from his shoulder holster and was greeted by a wave of shells as they tore into the house to ensure no-one would exit.
The attacker opened the secure door and looked the three occupants one at a time before he sprayed the remainder of the clip into Dainis Balodis as he sat cuffed to the makeshift interrogation desk exploding his chest into a mass of blood and bone.
Alice looked over at the super only to see him struggling to remain conscience from loss of blood from the previous injury. He struggled to hold his pistol and the new assailant quickly replaced the clip and chambered the next round.
As he took aim at Dave he stopped and redirected the stubby smoking muzzle at Alice who at this point was holding her standard issue nine mm Glock outstretched and it was a standoff, with Dickson now out cold it was just the two of then left.
“Time to die sweetheart” he said in a thick Russian accent.
Then before Alice could blink the left side of his head exploded outwards and she turned to see Rhett standing at the doorway to the van with his gun held tight and straight.
“You ok Partner”
“I am now, but the super is in a bad way” she replied pointing to Dave Dickson.
“Its ok ambulances are on their way.”
“Rhett this was a setup, he knew this guy was coming for us and he was prepared to die. I don’t get it yet.”
Rhett sat on the table and placed the safety on once more as he put the pistol back in its holster.
“I don’t get it either but they were sleepers, been around a while too, this was a hit to let others know that when you belong to the cause there is no getting out.”
“I get that Rhett but why this guy?” she said pointing to the second killer.
“Not sure but he targeted our suspect and then wanted to take you out, so who have you pissed of lately?”
Alice ran her blood stained hands over her jacket top and pants as she thought.
“Maybe my reputation precedes me!” she said with a smile, and then she looked at Rhett and they both knew it would never be the same again.