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Using prior Intel and the GPS coordinates we received from James, we confirm Colby is held hostage at this hole in the wall. I check my watch and know Bud should be set.
It’s a greasy spoon on the edge of an alley. The faded sign is blue has white print that reads “Kwizin Manman An.” The window has a red neon, open sign with the letter p blackened out. Litter surrounds the curb it stands on.
“Hmmm. The front has windows while the back is nothing but brick and mortar. I’m guessing if he is in there, he’s in the back.” stating over the com.
“Yes, I would agree with you, Josiah. Be careful.” James states as he views the situation from the overhead drone.
Walking through the cracked glass door, I sit down in a booth across from the bar. Seeing the bartender whisper to who I presume one of Omar’s bodyguards, they approach me. They see me with the briefcase next to my foot.
I announce myself. “I’m here for Colby. Take me to him, so his dad can settle this once and for all.”
The villains stare at me as I wear a simple Quicksilver t-shirt with khaki shorts. They are hesitant to touch me even though I resemble a tourist. While they assess me, I also do the same. Both are dark skin. One wears a blue wife beater shirt in jeans while the other man has a goatee with a plain faded white shirt with large smudge marks on his tan pants. Meanwhile, the bartender is wearing a white apron, and a food-stained shirt.
They don’t appear to be overly physical even though they are a couple of inches taller than me. Good—no weapons.
One says in his Haitian accent, “get up.” Then one of them opens the door behind the bar.
They escort me into the back room where I notice five tables only lit by candles. The bartender takes the suitcase from me and opens it up. His eyes light up as his face reveals that the money is in there.
The bartender places the briefcase in front Omar, an ugly man who resembles that of a guerilla fighter or gang leader. His scraggly beard with his short greased black hair makes him a typical villain one would see in any movie. I recognize that distinctive feature on his ear as it appears to be the birthmark. It’s Omar all right.
The bartender opens it up and turns the suitcase around for Omar. A smile appears on his dark-skinned face. He looks up.
With his accent, Omar tells the bartender, “go back outside. I suspect he is not alone.”
Then Omar turns his attention. “Who are you?” He scans me up and down as if he has x-ray vision.
“A friend of Colby’s dad. They call me, ‘Teach.’”
I give him a steely eyed stare, so he knows not to set funny with me. Recalling that Bud is the backup, I prepare to seize my moment. My words ease their tension a little. I am not a cop, and they believe me.
Assessing the room for additional threats, I observe Colby lying motionlessly in a large dog crate; I make sure not to tip my hand. Thankfully, Colby does not know I am here. Colby then raises his head and stares at Omar.
“You son of a bitch. I told you not to look at me,” as he takes a long round stick and jabs it in the cage.
Colby screams out in pain. In this instant, my mind flashes back to the streets next to the Jalibah Airfield in Desert Storm with Bud and James as screams were heard everywhere.
Returning to the present, I feel the bodyguards relax their grasp more. Now I have the chance to move. Positioning myself with two moves, I now face directly in front of the men.
Omar shouts, “Get him.”
Both men approach me with their hands up as they attempt to grab me. Pushing off both large men to gain distance, I turn to the first one and throat punch him. He collapses to the ground as he grabs his neck. Then as I turn my attention to the other goon, he thrusts a blow towards my face. My reaction time is too quick for his strike.
Raising my hand to counter his incoming shot, I guide it to the ground. Stomping on his toes, the vulnerable man reaches for his foot.
I have gained the advantage.
The second one regains his breath. Infuriated and wounded, they recover. One of them grabs a chair and swings it at my head. As I evade, the momentum turns his large body frame around. His back now faces me.
Seeing a half-empty Corona on the table next to me, he goes down. Blood gushes out of his freshly made wound.
Seeing what happens to the other defender, the other muscular man reaches for his gun but not for long.
I remove the .40 caliber Glock from his hand and do some dental work on him.
Staggering back, he reaches under his left pants leg for his knife. He draws a blade and dives towards me with an angry expression on his goatee face as he spits blood and teeth. We go to the left and then right dancing around the table.
“You gotta be quicker than that,” I say to him.
Colby raises his head to see the commotion. Initially unable to see due to his swelling, he recognizes my voice and more important, it’s an escape. The assailant stumbles on a chair’s leg.
Colby yells out, “watch out; he’s getting back up.” Finally, I make my move to free Colby.
Taking a knife from a table, I cut the cable ties securing the dog crate and open the sliding locks.
The door swings open. Colby slowly crawls out and gathers his senses. Noticing his weakness, I change my direction back to the attacker. Meanwhile, there’s Bud, standing at the door, just watching and smiling. He waves at me as he gives me permission to try out his toy.
“You’re dying to try it out, aren’t you?”
A huge grin emerges as I reply, “can I please?”
“Sure. If it makes you happy.”
It’s taser time. Bud grabbing his taser strapped around his left ankle and throws it. I lock in one and fire.
The Taser X2 Shooting Stun Gun with Dual Laser Black I use has a laser sight. I lock in my target approximately eight feet away from me. Its Pulse Calibration System delivers the exact amount of electrical charge needed allowing it to recalibrate twenty times every second. Having cartridges that easily discharge permit me to reload within seconds.
I zap the first one as the wires hit him dead on his chest.
“Ahhh,” goes the assailant as he shakes uncontrollably on the ground.
“This thing is incredible…”
Bud laughs, “well, you ain’t getting mine.”
Making sure the assailant does not get back up, I now focus on the second villain who rises slowly. Reaffirming that my taser is ready, I fire.
The zap combined with the blue spark and constant sounds of clicking assures me it will be awhile before they get back up.
As the insects lay on the ground moaning from the throbbing pain, I couldn’t help myself but smile as the bolt of paralyzing energy frees us from the turmoil that surrounds our dilemma.
The mean part of me dreams for just a second on how Bozo the Clown would react to such a taser. “Man, would I love to do that to Sheets. Just once.”
Bud yells out, “you can borrow it, but I need it back by next Friday.”
“Hot date?” I ask curiously.
“Well, let’s just say I have a meeting with an IRS auditor.”
“Yeah, you probably need it then. They are sometimes rather rude and uncooperative.”
Bud barks back, “and when you try to call them, it is nothing but a pain as you are stuck in their merciless automated system.”
Scanning for more threats, we observe the assailants are out cold as they are now useless to Omar as they lay in their pool of alcohol, saliva and blood.
Omar remains motionless and in disbelief. Contemplating his escape, he stutters, “rete! Come no closer, or I will kill you.”
I am already close enough to kill him. Should he pull a gun, he’s done. He looks at the door and then the suitcase.
Instead of a clash, Omar backs away slowly and walks around the walls of the room to the front door where he points and says to Colby, “I’ll be back for you.” To our surprise, Omar leaves the suitcase of money.
Having cleared the room, I can focus on getting Colby out of here. Initially Colby uses a chair to assist him in getting up.
“Nice to see you too,” I say to Colby.
Breathing heavy he jokes, “shut up. Can’t you tell I have a headache?”
“Um, yeah, but what I have said about late night drinking. You have not changed a lick since you were in high school.”
He regains his wits. “I know, I know. I just saw a side of you I have never seen.”
“Would you like for me to break it down play-by-play?”
“No. Just get me the hell out of here.”
Walking side by side, I verify Colby can walk out on his own, but he was in the crate for too long.
Outside towards the bar’s main entrance, we hear murmuring. Two more goons enter the bar and see Omar coming out of the door. They have a confused and perplexed expression on their faces as they wonder what is going on.
Omar points and roars. “Get them.”
One nods his head and moves towards Bud with his pistol. Within seconds the American grabs his arm and punches him with a right hook. Bud then grabs the gun out of the bodyguard’s grasp, unloads the clip, ejects the remaining cartridge and tosses it to the furthest corner of the bar.
“This here ain’t none of your concern,” Bud says to him.
Recognizing that Bud won’t budge; the overweight man repositions himself and grabs a Red Stripe beer bottle and hits it on the side on the bar.
Bud calmly returns the conversation to him, “please continue. Make my day.”
The angry attacker swipes the jagged edge at Bud. Bud avoids the move and grasps the assailant’s hand and pulls it behind him. Having the elbow of his enemy in the air, Bud goes in for the strike.
Wanting to ensure that the manager does not return to the fight, he dislocates the aggressor’s shoulder. Now screaming in pain, Bud punches him multiple times in the face until he drops to the ground unconscious.
“Guess you didn’t know I am Army strong.”
Bud sees the kid and I right behind him.
“You just can’t handle things diplomatically, can you?” Bud notes.
“It’s not my fault this time. I gave him the briefcase, and he didn’t say thank you.”
Bud continues. “So here we are again, side by side in a fight.”
“At least this one is a bar fight.”
“Yeah, I guess you are right. It could be worse. Like that time we were in Cairo.”
“Oh, yeah. I forgot about that one. But I swear to you he acted like a jackass.”
“That’s the problem with you.”
“You are too honest.”
“Well, I’m sorry. I will not let him abuse that waitress that way in front of me.”
Colby notices us laughing and chimes in. “Always laughing at my expense.”
Hiding behind a table, Omar recognizes his subordinate are in obvious pain, and realizes that he is no match for the two of us. Hearing a chair move, Bud races to it where he grabs Omar by the arm clenching his fingers around the triceps and sees a broom closet.
“What happened to the bartender?” I ask Bud.
“The Gin and Tonic sucked. So I gave him positive and constructive feedback as any manager would appreciate.”
“I thought you liked fruity drinks.” I ask curiously.
“You’re thinking about FATSO.”
“Ah, you’re right.” I confirm. “He loves those little umbrellas.”
As we let our guard down, Omar momentarily escapes from Bud’s grasp. He attempts to swipe his money and run. Instead, he sees us all and stands motionless. In that time of silence, I see the terror in his eyes.
Omar screams out in frustration. “You idiots. Do you not know who I am?” Bud grabs Omar and separates him from the briefcase.
Bud answers lightheartedly, “no, I don’t give a flying fart who you are, and if you say another word, I will do the same thing to you I do to your friend over there.”
While Omar stops barking, Bud reaches in his pocket for the zip ties and places Omar’s hands behind him.
I could not help myself and reply, “hey wait a minute. Isn’t he the employee of the week? If so, you need to tell your friend how to make a Gin and Tonic.”
“Bud, throw him in the closet over there.”
Just when he does Bud notices Omar’s phone on the ground. “We need to go.”
Unsuspected to all of us, Omar’s cell phone lies at the spot he hid and was on the entire time.
“Roger.” I acknowledge.
Rechecking the area one last time, I do one last scan.
Outside the bar, the hovering Parrot Bebop2 drone with the GoPro camera capture inbound activity.
James signals to us we should expect company soon as he sees a swarm of vehicles quickly approaching.
“Do we know how long until they get here?” I ask.
James insists. “Never wait for reinforcements. Exit the area.”
Turning my attention back to Colby, I get him to his feet. I glance at yellow and black bruises on his face and arms and now he is in immense pain.
“You look fabulous.”
Continuing to assess his injury, I notice the red rings around his wrists.
I grab him gently. “Don’t worry. We’re leaving now and going to the airport.”
Just as soon I say it, I notice he continues to have difficulty walking. Wrapping his shoulder and arm over my head, I place him in a bear hug to see if he can put more weight on his legs. Colby’s legs wobble like a ten-month-old baby.
Knowing he is out of harm’s way, I grow concerned about a possible concussion.
“You ok? Tell me who I am.”
“The Easter Bunny. Seriously.”
Step by step, we walk out of the door and get into the BMW Bud just pulled up. Slamming the doors almost simultaneously, we burn rubber as the wheels launch an ear-piercing screech that speeds up us into a fast getaway.
Sitting in the back seat, Colby knows this is not a dream. “You have dad’s jet? How far are we from the airport?” He inquires.
“A few miles.”
Feeling momentarily better, I take a big sigh of relief and gently hit Colby’s right shoulder showing him my affection. I glance back to make sure no unexpected guests tag along.
Savoring the ride to freedom, the green, leafy palm trees tower over the dirt road. They sway goodbye as we pass. Back at James’s home, the military grade GPS drone reveals trouble approaching fast as another dirt ball appears.
“Damn it. You’ve got company. SUV. Not good.” James states to us.
“Lose them,” I say to Bud.
“No, I thought I would let them catch up and see if they would like to go have dinner with us.”
Turning to Bud, “That’s an excellent idea. Slow down and pull over to the side of the road.”
“What? Are you insane?”
“Well, I used to be an educator. So many people would think I am…”
He does a double take.
“Just do it.” I assert.
Not to appear intentional, Bud makes the car look as if our vehicle has mechanical issues. In Omar’s car, the driver says, “look! They’re slowing down!”
“Speed up. They will not escape me now.” Omar confidently states. The black Ford Explorer in the middle of the road races towards us and pulls up right behind us. Then the one behind the Explorer pulls in front of us. Men from both vehicles surround us.
Turning to Colby, I whisper, “plan C.” Giving him a wink, I get out of the car.
With guns pulled and all eyes on me, I approach Omar’s car. The bodyguards stop me but Omar says, “let him come to me.”
I lean down and speak to Omar in a low enough tone, so he is the only one that hears my voice.
Colby curiously asks Bud, “what is he doing?”
“Acting crazy like he normally does in these situations.”
“So, we’re as good as dead now.” Colby says sarcastically.
“Probably.” Bud says to Colby.
Keeping their focus on Omar, they see his eyes light up. Within seconds, we walk between the cars.
Bud turns to Colby, “don’t say a word.”
Omar curiously asks, “why you so interested in this kid?”
I reply honestly. “I’m sure a man like you understands that we all have debts and one debt I have is to take care of the boy. And I will take him with me with no problems. If not, you will die. Plain and simple.”
A small laugh comes from the adversary, “what makes you think you can escape me?”
Turning my attention to the car, I point to the back of their Explorer.
“Come let me show you something.”
Puzzled and curious, Omar slowly follows me. With a quick click, I show him a beeping contraption that Bud had planted an hour ago resting inside the compartment. He sees the C-12 explosive attached to the remote detonator.
“You see; this is an explosive device is what we call a makeshift sticky bomb. With this button, I activate it. If I die, it explodes. If one of my associates die, then you die. It’s that simple. Only I can deactivate it. You are all one second from death, Omar.”
I grab his attention. “You’re coming with us.”
Omar does not comprehend the gravity of the situation. “What if I refuse to go?”
Turning to him, I lift my hands and go, “boom. Now tell your friends you’re going for a ride.”
He speaks in Creole to throw us off.
“Li di ke li te gen yon bone epi yo pral sèvi ak li. Bud translates.” (He says you have a bomb and will use it. Meet us at the airport and get every man available.)
I push his shoulder to get inside our vehicle.
We speed off.
Bud shakes his head. “That was good planning, Teach.”
Bud floors it and we listen over the com. “Guys, the plane is ready to go.”
Meanwhile, I speak to Omar in no uncertain terms.
“You are alive because I am in a good mood. If you try any more tricks, you will go back to the states with me, and that will not be pleasant.
Omar looks at me as if he would like to choke the life out of me. We finally arrive at to the landing strip. The plane sits inside the hangar to avoid be noticed as it whines, ready for takeoff.
Bud parks as close as he can to assist Colby getting on the jet.
“Come on Josiah. They’re coming.” Bud says.
“Hold on a minute. Why rush? We can take our time.”
Bud looks confused. “Now what do you mean?”
I turn to Omar. “Omar, come on. I told you, no more tricks.
“If I go with you, I will not come back.”
“If you don’t go with me, you will die.”
Colby asks me in a frantic state. “Why do you want to take him?”
“If we take Omar, then his entourage will not bother with the plane.”
Omar turns and says, “you’re crazy.”
“I am sorry you’re just realizing who I am. You might now know this, but I have a wonderful personality, and once you get to know me, you might just end up being one of my friends on Facebook.”
Omar’s face turns to a bewildered expression as he hates the uncertainty of his predicament.
“Now do me a favor, shut up and grab the briefcase. I’d hate to forget it and pay for shipping to return it to the states.”
Reluctantly grabbing the case, Omar hands it over. Picking up the ladder as FATSO taxis for departure, Colby points and says, “LOOK!” We all see them gaining ground quickly.
“Let’s leave now.”
Securing the door, we scramble to take our seats and buckle up. What happens next, I could not believe my eyes.
Moving as fast as a cheetah on the attack, the black Ford Explorer driver floors it to the open hangar where our car is parked. Getting out of the SUV, three men emerge hastily. The plane stops in front of the vehicle as if it is a showdown at the O.K. Corral.
All three men have weapons and mean business. Looking at them, I see a pistol, and two semi-automatic rifles holding their ground.
FATSO says, “we are ready for takeoff, but we can’t begin until we resolve this issue?”
I hand Omar a phone out of my pocket and say, “call your friends and let them know you are taking a vacation with us and you’re not sure when you’ll return.”
Omar looks at me in disbelief.
“Tell them to move the SUV, or it will be blown to smithereens.”
I then show him the detonator and the three blinking lights on it.
“You stupid Americans.” He says as he laughs.
“What’s so funny?”
“That is not the same SUV.”
That when I realize it is the other vehicle that stopped in front of us. Just then the hangar doors close.
“Damn it. Teach – look at this.”
“If those doors close, we are good as gone.” Bud says in a serious tone.
“James, you copy?”
“Few. It’s a stalemate. Hostage negations, but this time you are the one who has to make the deals.”
I look at him sternly and say in no uncertain terms, “your life and we leave. It’s that simple.”
Omar dials, I ask him, “make sure you speak English and not Creole. It’s rude to talk about others when they don’t understand.” Omar dials up the bodyguards.
“Open the doors and they will let me out. I will walk out with this Teach guy to the hangar doors. While doing so, you will leave in the SUV. Once they do not see you anymore on their drone, then I will be left as they take off.”
Omar looks at me, and I nudge him.
The men talk amongst themselves at the front wheel.
Our pilot says, “what other unexpected things will happen today?”
Bud couldn’t help but ask FATSO, “do we have plenty of coffee?”
“Because if we don’t, you will need to turn the plane around and get some from the terminal.”
He rolls his eyes and smiles as he returns his focus on the ascent. Then the moment we all have waited for arrives.
The doors open.
“Whew, that was close,” Bud says.
FATSO has the plane ready for take-off and we let down the stairs.
Omar waddles out of the plane as I’m right behind him.
That vehicle screeches away and I get back on the jet.
Standing there, Omar laughs as another vehicle comes. The goons scramble out with guns drawn.
“Hey guys, we got a problem.”
Then the original vehicle comes back and takes Omar away. The driver hands Omar his cell phone back.
Omar dials out. “After three more minutes, make it appear that it was an accident.”
“What’s wrong FATSO?” Bud asks.
“They’re not moving. Guns pointed towards us.”
Tension rises on the plane as we face uncertainty.
I get on the horn to James. “We used our ace and can’t leave. Options?”
“Working on it.” James says tensely.
Tense seconds tick away as we all sweat the stand-off. Just then, I hear a familiar voice on my com.
“Colvin? That you.”
“Yea. See you are in a predicament.”
“You might say that. Got any advice?”
“I do. Tell your friend he has a bird overhead and unless he lets the plane go, he will be part of a crater.”
Just like that, Colvin stops speaking.
“James, did you hear that?”
“Who do you think I called?”
“Welcome. I’ll keep an eye here with my bird to make sure of no more surprises at the airport. Call your friend.”
Seeing the special phone, I pick it up and dial.
“Is it done?” Omar asks.
His eyes tell it is someone he does not know. “Sorry to disappoint you, Omar.”
“Who are you?”
“Teach. Now stop your car and look up.”
Scratching his beard and very baffled, he motions his driver to stop. He gets out and places his hand over his eyes to get a better glimpse.
“I have him in sight, Josiah.” Colvin proudly says.
Putting my ear back to the receiver, I calmly let Omar know our intentions.
“That thing over your head is a drone and let’s just say it has several heat seeking missiles that will obliterate you.”
Omar grabs the binoculars from the dashboard and looks in the sky. “So what?” Omar says.
“One push of a button and you’re dead.”
Silence is heard on the other end.
“If you call your friends away, you and your friends will be dead in a crater. You have ten seconds to decide.”
Omar screams in frustration as I hear it over the phone.
“Good, so you know I am serious. Now tell your people to let us go. When we are gone, the drone will go away as if none of this ever existed.”
Omar relays to his squad to let them go without incident. They draw their muscle back and pull away.
“FATSO, get us the hell out of here.”
FATSO scans the dashboard of the cockpit.
“Get yourselves ready. We’re leaving in a hurry.”
Peering out of the cockpit window, I see how that the strip is not long.
I still have that same sinking feeling in my gut, but can’t determine if it is fear or if FATSO is adjusting his take off.
I see my life flashing in front of me.
“Here we go, Teach.” FATSO says to us.
Closing my eyes tightly while gripping the handles of the seats, I wait for the purgatory to end. Then a loud yell comes from the cockpit.
“Yahoo!” comes from the cockpit as the Texan has freed us from captivity.
High fiving Bud and Colby, we glance out of the window where we observe the men and vehicles disappearing.
Omar realizes that he is in a no-win situation and must wait impatiently for the UAV to leave. Moments later he sees our plane ascend towards the cloudy sky. A minute later the done leaves as quickly as it came.
Feeling the turn after the abrupt take off, I shake my head in disbelief as I am amazed at how much changes in twenty-four hours.
Yesterday I was down in the dumps and called it quits on a job I loved, and now I am on cloud nine after saving my best friend’s son.
I relax more as we climb into the sky on a cloudy evening.
Seeing Bud piecing things together, I open up. “yes. Have something to say?”
“How did you know it was Omar’s phone you were speaking to?”
“When I read the note that said, only use in an emergency.”
Still trying to connect the dots, he then asks, “then how did Omar get his phone when it was at the restaurant.”
I snicker. “Everyone is attached to their phones now. I knew his life hinges on his phone and he would not rest easy until he had it. Seen it too many times from kids who refuse to give up their devices.”
I now shift my focus to my Godson who sits in serious distress. Colby gingerly sits in a
chair adjacent from me as he fears to move due to pain. I start a conversation. “You ok?”
“I’m in a lot of pain.”
“Pretty much all over.”
“We’ll get you taken care of. Just rest.”
We hear the humming of the engines as Colby sees Bud and I assessing the damage.
“You know, I’ve always wondered how you guys got together.” Colby asks.
Grabbing an apple from the basket on the table, I bite into it.
“Well, FATSO is from Waco, Texas where he used to fly F-15s. They transitioned him to do experimental flights for supersonic jets. Part of his job also included being part of a tech team using the latest gadgets that military received.”
Finishing up another bite of the apple, I share my story.
“I first met your dad in Green Beret training. We both fought in Operation Desert Storm in the second Brigade, twentieth-fourth Infantry Division, where we met in a town called Jalibah. It’s there where we met Bud as he was in Special Forces from another unit.”
Bud adds. “One of the first sorties we had together occurred as we were trying to take over the Jalibah Southeast Air Base. They had 2,000 enemy soldiers, eighty anti-aircraft guns, a battalion of tanks that surrounded us. But thanks to Col. Paul Kern, he ordered your dad to save Josiah and a small squad from a massive firestorm as he charged on to take the airfield in a four-hour clash.”
I interject. “No, Colby. It’s the other way around.”
Bud immediately interrupts us and yells, “Negative. I saved both of you.”
Colby cracks a smile as he loves to see us joke around.
Turning back to Colby I notice a sheepish grin on his face.
Bud resumes. “Before I was rudely interrupted… Oh Yea. In Josiah’s part of the fight, the aggressive counterattack holds him against two buildings burgeoning with more artillery shells. Noticing and expecting an inevitable outcome, James comes to the rescue and thwarts off the threat.”
“Serious?” Colby asks.
Bud nods his head and states, “it’s true. But how much do you really know about your dad?”
I carry on. “Your dad is a quiet man.”
Colby replies, “tell me about him. He does not talk much about the past.”
Bud gives me the look and I silently know where he is going as he responds. “Well, I guess it’s time you heard the truth about him.”
Both Josiah and Colby pay attention to the next part of the conversation. If the engines weren’t humming, you could have heard a pin drop. ” In that same firefight, James drops to his knees after being shot in his right shoulder by a sniper. Surrounded and comforted, we carry him back to the base right after we take the base.”
“Damn,” goes Colby.
“Surgeons feverishly work to repair his shoulder. He never regains full mobility.”
Distraught Colby puts his hands on his face. “Dad mentioned nothing about this at all. He would just say he’s had the condition for years.”
I add, “your dad doesn’t like to look to others for sympathy, which is why he says nothing to people.”
Bud continues. “He earns a Purple Heart and is honorably discharged about a month later.”
Sitting up, Colby craves more. “What did he do after that?”
“He enrolls at Embry and Riddle University, and he earns his degree in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Chemistry.”
“Makes sense. Dad always like learning new things,” Colby says.
“While working on his thesis, he creates a stronger and more durable plastic that withstands the impact of bullets and major artillery shells. When it is applies to a vehicle it makes it virtually indestructible.”
Colby attempts to imagine what his father laboring in the lab might look like.
“Learning what it could do he patents it and earns his degree.”
“So, he patents it. Bid deal. I still don’t see the connection.” Colby states.
I continue. “He shows Lockheed Martin the new product, and they buy the patent from him. He receives several hundred million dollars in the acquisition.”
“Oh, wow.” Colby now understands.
“Through some wise investments, he sees his fortune growing faster than he can imagine. Let’s say he gave me the impression he has money that his legacy could spend.”
I add. “James is quite a guy.”
“He establishes a foundation and buys six hundred acres of the Appalachian Mountains and settles in Charlottesville, Virginia where he and Eleanor purchase property, and a vineyard named the Pillin Hill Farm.”
“Dad always said he loves getting away from it all.”
“And he does. The peaceful view gives him a sense of comfort as he has battled PTSD for years. The city life is too harsh for him with all that stress and traffic.”
“So, you guys are nothing more but a bunch of rag tag army brats?” Colby puns.
“Pretty much. Except for one Air Force baby.” As I point to the cabin.
He rolls his eyes in the back of his head in disbelief.
We hand Colby a bottle of water and he sits back. Holding the bottle for him, he looks up and wants to know about the rescue.
“How did you know where I was?”
I explain the ransom call and his dad’s response in full detail.
Not trying to scare him, I paint a bland picture. “We put together a plan to go pick you up.”
Bud says. “You’re welcome. Glad it’s over.”
“Me too.” Says Colby.
While we chat in the back, we slowly lose our focus and cautiously relax.
As with any crisis, we return exhausted and I know Colby needs rest. I say to the guys, “I’m beat. Let’s try to get some sleep.”
In agreement, we all kick back and lean our heads back.
Drifting off to sleep, I dream of being back in my old school where I meet with a parent and her son.
“David, I think we should get together in a few weeks to discuss a plan to allow you to have a successful next year. Looking at your cumulative folder and now meeting you, I know exactly what to do.”
A happy mother cries.
“Since his dad was incarcerated, he has needed more male figures in his life. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to speak with us.”
I look at her and smile. “It’s my pleasure. This is my job. Together, we’ll get him back on track.”
They embrace in a hug.
“David, I going to ask three things from you.”
He listens with great interest.
“First, give me everything you have. Don’t want you perfect but I expect 100%.”
“Second, ask for help when you need it. There is no shame asking, and it even makes you more of a man when you know you need help.”
“Last, what you put in life is what you will get out. The harder you work today, the easier your life will be tomorrow.”
David looks up at me and nods his head. I shake his hand, and he hugs me. Walking them back to the office, David stops and looks at the pictures on the wall.
He points as he sees my picture. “You were the teacher of the year?”
Reluctantly I respond, “yes, I was.”
We resume our walk. They enter the guidance office to complete the registration process while I go into the office. I see a message clipped to my door.
“Please call Mr. Sheets,” is all it says on the blue and white carbon copy paper with the time stamped at 2:03pm.
Awakening from the semi-deep sleep, I hear FATSO on the PA. We listen in.
“Guys, we’ll be there within twenty minutes.”
Turning to Colby, I see him leaned back into his seat and doesn’t budge. I also recognize that Bud is still up as he is on watch. Getting up, I reach for Bud’s toy.
“Josiah, what you have there is the Taser X2 Shooting Stun Gun with Dual Laser. It has two cartridges that can shoot up to fifteen feet away. The paralyzing gun transmits intense electrical pulses through wires into you, thus immobilizing you. The X2 recalibrates twenty times every second.”
“Nice. Ever use it before today?” I ask.
Bud nods. “A bit of target practice, but that’s it.”
“I gotta get me one of these.” As I love the way it works on paralyzing its target.
As the Sun lights hit my face, I find it difficult to go back to sleep. Might as well stay up so I’m not so groggy tonight.
Colby, also awakens from FATSO’s announcement. He looks around and it finally hits him. “Does dad know I’m free?”
“Yes, he’s the one who called in the cavalry.” Bud replies.
“I want to call him. Would it mess up FATSO’s landing?”
“Shouldn’t. Use my phone.” I say.
Colby calls. As he walks by, the smell of sweat and body odor permeates the cabin. Knowing it was beyond his control I ignore it. Bud and I engage in small talk as we try to give them some privacy. I point Colby to the aft where he can get some privacy. A minute later, the battery on the phone dies and he returns.
“How’s your dad?” I ask.
“He’s pretty happy.” he says.
He observes Omar’s photo in my hands and I hand it to him.
“This is your captor, Omar Violine.”
“Check out the thing on his ear.” Colby immediately notices.
“Ugly ain’t it?” Bud states.
As he hands back the photo me, I study the picture. The dark, deep red skin on his right ear lobe appears to be swollen and inflamed. Under the picture are his stats: height five foot-five-inch man who weight approximately 285 pounds. There is a close up of his birthmark with the medical term of his birthmark; hemangioma.
Looking up, Colby asks with keen interest, “tell me everything about him.”
Pulling the folder closer to my eyes, I start.
“Omar grew up at the First Church of God Orphanage. One night he confronts his mother in an alley and kills her because she abandoned him.”
I see Colby shaking his head like he can’t believe what he is hearing.
“Fearing of being prosecuted, Omar goes underground. He knows disappearing gives him the best chance of survival where he quickly adapts to the vast and dark network where he uses it to build his money and power.”
“That is just unreal,” goes my Godson.
FATSO interrupts the focused conversation and says to us, “hey guys, just wanted to update you. We will land within a few minutes.”
Recognizing that Colby wants to know every detail, I continue.
“Over the years, Omar establishes himself as the drug lord of the Caribbean. He dabbles in gambling and cocaine where he quickly switches his focus into corruption with the local governments.”
Deep in our conversation, FATSO gets clearance to land from customs and the tower. I’ll be feeling better once we get this bird on the ground. I’m glad Colby didn’t hand the phone over me. Never celebrate until the job is complete. I just can’t.
Finally, I see the airport on the horizon.
“Buckle up guys. We’re almost there.” FATSO shouts his accustomed celebration line, “yeehaw.”
Touchdown. The bumpy follow up with the initial thrust in engines finally subsides. Gathering our belongings, we move up. Our captain waits for us to disembark.
“Come on Colby. You’re home.”
Slowly he leans to his left and looks out of the window. Meanwhile, I can see James outside of the plane waiting impatiently. Time to wrap this mission and call it a day.
Operation Extract is a success!
FATSO lands at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport as I enjoy the even Sun sitting on the shelf of the horizon of the Appalachian Mountains. Feeling every bit of anxiousness like a soldier returning from a deployment, I can’t help myself but to smile as I prepare to walk off the plane.
James sees us stepping out one at a time. His conversation with Colby on the plane tells James he has sustained an injury. We nobody knows is the severity until a doctor diagnoses him. An undercover customs agent is standing there and asks James to sign documents. “Sign here, please.”
With the ladder deployed, Colby gingerly limps down the stairs as he attempts to put as much weight on the bar as he can. James waits at the bottom of the stairs and sees his son in his shredded and soiled clothes. Colby embraces his father in a huge hug as the tears roll down his face. Colby looks straight in his father’s eyes and says, “I’m sorry, dad.”
James remained concerned about his son’s health, but his anxiety level reduces in the comfort of his only son’s voice. There I stood, like a proud Godfather soaking in the moment. One cannot put a price on parents celebrating with their children over a gruesome challenge.
Greeting me with another bear hug, James kept saying, “thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
“Glad to help.” Happy to say.
Eleanor pulls up and races towards her son. She stands and speaks with him while James and I catch up.
“How was it?”
Trying not to make my best friend feel guilty, I shrugged it off. “Not too bad. We’ve been through much worse.”
Bud emerges from the plane with the file and briefcase followed by FATSO.
“That guy is a mean son of a gun.” Bud says to him.
“Why do you think General Colvin was so apt to assist us so expeditiously?” James says.
“You told him about the ordeal,” asking curiously. “Why?”
“I had a feeling this was not an ordinary kidnapping. Once I read the file, I called Colvin back to see if wanted to do a joint mission.”
I get it now. “So, it does not appear to be a military ordeal and only as a backup.”
Bud and I lock eyes thinking the same thing. Makes complete sense.
“Did Colvin say what he would do with Omar now he is free again?”
“Nope, my guess is the Intel we shared will help him on his next steps.”
“What makes you think that?” I ask.
“Colvin said if we ever needed him again to call him.”
Switching gears, James hands me a present. A mystified look comes across my face as I inspect the gadget.
“What is it?”
“It’s a Gizmo Gadget.” James answers.
“No. That can’t be the name.”
FATSO answers, “it is. This thing allows you to call and send brief text messages. The best part of this is that it has a GPS locator where I know exactly where you are at every waking moment of the day. It will alert us when there is no pulse, and we can listen to the calls anytime we want to do so.”
I chime in. “Who makes it?”
FATSO answers, “it’s from LG, and I tweaked it so it’ll never lose power. I’m getting one for my son.”
“No thanks.” As I hand it back.
James takes it back and attempts to sell me on the phone. “Colby is getting one after he recovers and if he is ever in trouble again, you and I will know how to help him.”
He offers again. “You sure you don’t want it?”
With some reluctance, I take it and thank him for the gift.
James follows up, “add the GizmoHub app on your phone I gave you last year. This is the perfect time to test it out.”
Reaching for my phone, we both verify that the device works.
“Oh yeah, I’ve been tinkering with this phone-watch too. It can be programmed to make a loud screeching beep if taken off and will automatically convert phone conversations to Word documents.”
Like kids, we play with the app before we return our focus. The watch locks in our location.
“I’ll touch base with you guys once I take care of Colby. Get some rest.”
Understanding that James and Eleanor want to leave with their son I strike up a conversation while motioning to them in the other direction. “Hey, guys. Want to grab a bite?” I ask Bud and FATSO. They agree to hop in the truck and we leave James, Eleanor and Colby in front of their limo.
This has been the wildest twenty-four hours anybody would endure. Yesterday I told Bozo the Clown to visit hell. Now I stand at an airport where I just rescued my best friend’s kid.
I am so glad it’s all over, but I still worry about Colby. Something is just not right with him.