A Wynn Garrett Series Novel
Bruce A. Borders
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.
WYNN C. GARRETT
Copyright © 2005, 2012 Bruce A. Borders
Cover Design © 2012 Bruce A. Borders
All Rights Reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction of this book in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any informational storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the express written permission of the author and publisher.
Printed in the United States of America
©2012, Bruce A. Borders
All Rights Reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited by law.
Warning: This book is unapologetically pro-American and anti-terrorist. It contains language that some may consider offensive. This language, along with multiple acts of violence, is directed toward Islamic radicals. If you are sympathetic to the terrorists' cause, sensitive to criticism of radical Islam, or are easily offended by such content DO NOT READ.
#1 Mistaken Identity
#2 Holy Terror
#3 Remote Control
#4 Judicial Review
#5 Even Odds
#6 Safety Hazard (Fall 2013)
That seemed an appropriate description of his world. In every facet of his life, he was subjected to the warped minds of idiots. It was an infestation of stupidity.
Dealing with such people, he decided, was taking its toll on him. It once was comical, even laughable, but through the years, his sense of humor had been diminished, the amusement fading to disdain. He now viewed with contempt, those who were less than average in their mental capabilities.
He'd never considered himself a great thinker, certainly not on a level with Aristotle, Plato, or Socrates. Nowhere close to being an Einstein. Still, there was something to be said for common sense and the ability to think logically.
Common sense, now there was a lost art. Lost to all but a select few; a group to which, in his mind, he belonged. On the other hand, what proof did he have that he wasn't just another mindless amoeba drifting along on life's sea? What had he ever done to distinguish himself among the rest of the population? Nothing.
Once, he'd dreamed of all the great things he would accomplish. Life was full of endless possibilities patiently waiting to embrace him. Possibilities that had been eroded by time and eliminated one by one. His aspirations had been dissolved; melding with the realization that any chance of real success was slowly slipping away. He'd become just another insipid face in a world of morons.
Yet, his life was not a complete failure. Simply because he'd received no formal recognition didn't mean he was without accomplishments. After all, he'd run a successful business, maintaining efficiency, quality, and service, while steadily increasing the profit margin. No small feat considering the state of the economy at the time. Since then, other endeavors had occupied his time, providing moderate satisfaction. Looking back, he concluded that while his financial condition was nothing to tout, he had done reasonably well, enjoying a lifestyle better than most. He was definitely not a moron.
In a way, he almost felt sorry for them. Almost. Then logic prevailed and he realized their lack of brain cells wasn't his problem. Not that he had no interest in their plight. If he could find a way to capitalize on it, he'd have plenty of interest.
The idea wasn't exactly a revolutionary one; others, whose companies now held an established and permanent presence among the most prominent corporations in the world, had executed it to perfection countless times before. Their tactics may have been considered underhanded, nevertheless, these people, as well as their companies, were held in high regard. But could he ever expect to mirror their success? He doubted it.
He contemplated the possibilities as he took another bite of pizza. Pepperoni pizza. It was supposed to have been ham, that's what he had ordered. Someone was always messing up something.
The thought had crossed his mind of sending it back, but given his luck this was probably the best he could expect. Crumpling the greasy box, he tossed it toward the garbage can. He missed. Not bothering to pick it up, he moved out to the half furnished, sizable living room.
The 11:00 News was coming on. As he settled into his easy chair, the news anchor began the nightly report. Terrorists again! It seemed that was all there was on the news these days. Evidently, nothing else in the world was worth mentioning. At least not according to ANN, America's News Network.
Suicide bombers, Israel and the Middle East. Change a few minor details, and it was the same story day after day. He watched without emotion, waiting for the parade of politicians and analysts to come on the air, blaming it all on America, specifically, the President. He didn't know why he bothered to watch anymore. The media had become boring and predictable.
Ready to call it a night, he was reaching for the remote, when the network, as they were prone to do, interrupted their news with a special bulletin. "America" they said, "was again under attack!"
It took a full two minutes for the reporter to clarify that as of yet, there had been no actual attack. However, officials had raised the terrorist alert level to red. The first time they had done so since the color-coded system had been instituted.
No one had ever actually determined the meaning of each color, making the use of such a system a little inane. Everyone though, seemed to agree a red alert did signify a higher probability of danger.
Apparently, U.S. Government intelligence agencies had uncovered a significant amount of reliable information relating to certain sites and specific dates. While the details were not being released, officials were taking the threats seriously.
All governmental facilities in Washington D.C., as well as other major cities had been closed. Landmarks and tourist attractions would not be opening the next day, and would remain closed until further notice.
"The complete scope of possible targets remains unknown," the reporter stated. "But I think we can be reasonably sure, some sort of attack is imminent."
The ANN anchor was quick to cut in, "We should point out that no one is certain just who or what organization is responsible for these apparent threats, which may or may not be legitimate. We caution and urge you not to hastily blame anyone until more is learned. We, at ANN, remind our viewers that as has been the case upon previous occasions, a danger perceived is not always a danger present. The current administration, known for its miscalculations and often time over statement of the facts, has repeatedly released warnings and raised the alert level, when in the end nothing has materialized. We here at ANN, are working hard to verify the threats as reported to us. As of this moment, we have been unable to do so."
"Pathetic," was the one word which came to his mind. So intent was the media to cast dispersions on the United States, they were obfuscating on their own coverage. Positioning themselves in such a way so that no matter what the outcome of the situation, they could take credit for being "first" to bring the story to the public.
A panel of so-called experts was assembled now, discussing details of the "supposed" threat along with possible repercussions of the newly enacted red alert level. The debate was interrupted at regular intervals to allow reporters, anxious to be heard and seen, to relay additional non-specific information from anonymous government sources. Each was eager to point out every possible catastrophic angle, as it related to the viewers, as if only they were intelligent enough or qualified to make such observations. A woman's voice broke in amid the frantic foray of the reporters, and coverage switched back to the studio.
"This threat doesn't appear to be from any of the usual suspects of terrorism or known terrorist organizations in the Middle East. There have been no tapes released by any of these groups, nor have we received anything from any foreign governments, which are known to support terrorism. U.S. Government officials will neither confirm nor deny our questions. These allegations may raise more questions regarding the legitimacy of this administration, and the wisdom of raising the alert level in the first place." She was speaking as if talking to a kindergarten class. Clearly, she believed her audience to be incapable of following her "complex" analysis and enlightened thought process. "There is however, some evidence which would seem to indicate similarities to other threats this country has received."
Her voice was becoming annoying.
"But until we are able to substantiate the claims, we will reserve judgment."
"Earlier reports," Jim, the anchor, resumed speaking, "seemed to suggest that travel and possibly financial transactions of the general public may be restricted, can you tell us if that is indeed the case?"
"As far as the monetary aspect, I hadn't heard Jim, but some states, we're being told, are planning to run checkpoints; perhaps at their borders or even on some of the main arteries into major cities. However, to what extent such security checks will be utilized we don't really know." The woman paused, giving the camera a look of concern before the shot cut away from her.
"And the airports," Jim questioned her, are they still in operation?"
"Yes. Airports are open. Planes, busses and passenger trains are all still running," she answered. "But be advised, the increased security measures are expected to add an additional one to two hours travel time. Many flights are being delayed; others have been canceled by the airlines. So, it may be worthwhile to call ahead to verify your flight is still scheduled before heading off to the airport. It could help you avoid standing and waiting in those extremely long lines."
Off screen, a new voice was heard, "We're now being told we should warn our viewers to not visit any highly populated areas for the next few days, if at all possible. Malls, sports venues, amusement parks, and other places large crowds would be likely to gather, should be avoided."
The screen finally showed a picture of the person speaking, a gangly young man no more than twenty years old looking very nervous. Obviously, his first time on camera.
The man continued, "This will no doubt be discouraging news to those who own or perhaps work at a business of this type."
The ANN anchor rejoined the conversation. "And what are we being advised about people going to work? Should they stay home or continue working as normal?"
"That's a very good question," the young correspondent praised, sucking up to the anchor. "What officials are telling us is, people should continue with their usual activities. However, since we are being warned to avoid areas where there tends be large numbers of people, if you work in such a place you may want to consider calling in sick or using some of those vacation days; at least until more is learned about the specifics of the threat."
The anchor responded, "Okay, thanks Chris." Then the guy launched into a repetitive summation of the previous report.
The voices on the set droned on into oblivion, repeating the same few details - as if they believed no one had heard the preceding half hour's coverage.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The pizza was finished, and he decided he'd heard enough. It was ridiculous the way they acted as if there was some question regarding who was responsible for the threats.
"The same imbeciles it always is," he shouted at the TV. "Middle Eastern Muslim Extremists. It's their religion; they've been that way for over two thousand years. Why are you guys surprised?"
Despite being called the "news," there was really nothing new about it, except that the threat level had been elevated to red. Yet, he knew they'd continue to discuss the matter all night. Whether it was a credible threat or not, one thing was certain, he wasn't staying up until daylight to see. It wouldn't change his life anymore than 9-11 had.
The clock had reached its pinnacle and begun its journey into what, until moments ago, had been known as tomorrow. He glanced at the turn of the century era grandfather clock, while retrieving the TV remote. The hypnotic sound of the pendulum swinging back and forth, was unmistakably telling him it was time for bed.
The ANN anchor had been replaced by a good-looking blond female. He waited, remote in hand. Even if she had nothing new to say, he wanted to watch her say it.
"No doubt many Americans will have a strong emotional reaction to tonight's broadcast," she began.
"She looks better than she sounds," he thought aloud.
The woman continued, "Fear, uncertainty, feelings of dread due to possible impending danger, can lead to anxiety attacks for many…"
"Miss," he smiled wryly as his finger pressed the button on the remote, "that's a given."
The alarm was annoying. Like a pesky insect, the incessant buzzing penetrated his consciousness, interrupting what had been a peaceful sleep.
Only half awake, arms flailing as if swatting at a mosquito, he tried to eliminate the source of his discomfort. Eventually realizing his protest was futile, he sat up on the edge of the bed. Squinting into the bright sunlight filtering in around the curtain, he finally focused on the alarm.
Ah, silence at last!
But now he was awake. Score another round for the alarm clock.
Wynn yawned and gazed around the room. He hated mornings. It was always the same routine; a fight he never won. Perhaps if he'd go to bed a little earlier at night he wouldn't be such a morning zombie. But he hated that idea too.
Simply stated, he was opposed to change. Once awake he preferred to stay that way, but when finally asleep, he didn't want to be disturbed. He preferred consistency. This aversion to adaptability was noticeably present in other aspects of his life as well.
Coffee, that's what he needed.
"A coffee maker with an automatic timer would be nice," he mumbled, stumbling to the kitchen.
He'd said that for years, but as soon as the water was poured, it was promptly forgotten. He had other things to keep his mind busy.
His former fiancée had tried to cure him from drinking the stuff, claiming it was unhealthy. He didn't buy it.
"If I stopped doing everything the health nuts categorized as bad, I wouldn't be doing anything," he used to tell her. "There'd be nothing left, I might as well be dead."
Besides, if he stopped drinking coffee, life would be just one continuous morning - not a pleasant thought.
Wynn C. Garrett was the only child of Clyde and Louise Garrett. His father had been a World War II veteran, his mother a housewife. Both had passed away more than a decade ago.
Wynn lived alone in a three bedroom, one story house, on the south side of what once had been a small rural community, an hour's drive from the city. Due to urban sprawl, the former quiet town had melded into a bustling suburb. With the growth had come traffic and crime. Strip malls and fast food restaurants now occupied the previously vacant lots. Residential areas had given way to industrial parks. Semi trailers provided the foliage, lining the streets like oversized hedges.
Fifteen years ago, the quaint hometown atmosphere had drawn him. Yet, he'd still been able to maintain a close proximity to the conveniences of the huge metro area. This allowed him to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Marriage at the time had been on the horizon, but those dreams ended when his fiancée, Jennifer Brody, had unceremoniously broken their engagement. Without explanation, she'd abruptly said goodbye and moved to California. He had no idea where she was now. In the years since she'd been gone, Wynn had contented himself with work and his hobbies, enjoying the solitude of the single life.
At the age of thirty-five, he realized the likelihood of any life-altering events was highly improbable. Old habits are hard to break and he was firmly settled in his. Totally at ease in his day-to-day existence, he had no desire, felt no compulsion, to leave his comfort zone.
Wynn gulped down his first cup of coffee, then poured another. The blood was beginning to flow a little faster now and he was starting to wake up. He went to get dressed.
There was really no decision as to what he would wear. True to his rigid nature, he generally looked the same; jeans, T-shirt and boots - all black. A long-sleeved, button-up shirt, also black of course, was sometimes added to his attire. Not exactly an en vogue fashion statement.
People called him old-fashioned, but he didn't care. His clothes were comfortable and he liked them. Not being into fads, baggy or modern preppy clothes held no glamorous appeal for him.
Opinionated and close-minded is the way most would describe him. He was often accused of being intolerant or rude. That was fine with him. The charges were answered in the same matter-of-fact way with which he approached everything in life.
"I'm entitled to my opinion," he'd say. "And since it's me we're discussing, my opinion is the only one that matters. An open-minded person runs the risk of their brain's falling out, and a lot of other junk falling in."
At times, almost as an after thought, he'd offer a more in-depth analysis. "I'm very tolerant, I've put up with morons like you for years, and I haven't shot anybody - yet!"
The unmistakable tone in his voice warned those within earshot to be wary. The look in his eye said they just might be the first.
7:45am. Time to leave for work. Wynn Garrett had long ago given up working to make someone else rich. Work for him consisted of operating a self-storage unit, which he owned. The office doubled as an art gallery, displaying his paintings. Rental payments from the storage garages, supplemented by the occasional sale of a painting provided an adequate income. He wasn't going to be a millionaire anytime soon but that was okay, not many people were.
Suddenly remembering last night's news, he checked the clock again.
"Too late to turn on the TV now," he grumbled to himself. He'd have to listen to the radio on the way to work.
Opening his front door, he was startled to see two important looking men coming up the walk. Both wore dark suits, both had dark sunglasses. Obviously, they were from the government. Or, at least they appeared to be.
"Can I help you?" He was trying to be polite. That sort of thing never really worked for him. Maybe it was his attitude, or perhaps the direct surly nature, but people soon discovered, his middle initial certainly didn't stand for cordial.
"Are you Wynn Garrett?" The dark haired one's voice was low and raspy. He was built slightly on the stocky side, had thick eyebrows and a mustache. He stared at Wynn expecting an answer.
"Depends on who's asking," Wynn replied, returning a stare of his own.
The other man, taller, with sandy colored hair spoke up. "My name is Richard Scorby. My partner, Thomas Wardahl and I are from the United States Department of Homeland Security."
What could the Department of Homeland Security possibly want with me? "Yeah, I'm Wynn Garrett," he acknowledged hesitantly.
"May we come in?"
Wynn looked pointedly at his watch. "I was on my way to work," he stated, not really wanting to invite the men inside.
"This will only take a few minutes," the older one insisted. He sounded a little disgusted by Wynn's indifferent manner.
Wynn sighed, "Whatever, come in." He was going to be late - again.
Once inside the men seemed to relax. Wynn wondered what could be so important that they felt compelled to make a house call.
"As I said," Scorby began. "We're from the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Wardahl and I are associate directors of the Anti-Terrorism Operations."
"That doesn't explain why you are here or what you want with me," Wynn said impatiently.
Wardahl answered, "You no doubt heard the recent news regarding the threats and the alert level being raised to red? As well as the increased security measures the government is taking?"
Wynn nodded. "Mm-hm."
Wardahl continued, "Mr. Scorby and I are responsible for ensuring nothing comes of such threats, and we'd like to enlist your help."
Wynn's eyes widened; then narrowed. "Don't we still have a military? Why do you need me?"
"Sit down," Wardahl abruptly ordered.
Wynn didn't budge, staring silently at the men, waiting.
"Okay, then stand," the big man growled.
"I'll explain," Scorby offered. "We know where certain terrorists are in America. We know they're planning to attack certain places in the country, but we can't do anything about it. Until they actually act on their plans, our hands are tied."
"Why?" Wynn asked incredulously.
"Because the terrorists have been given full protection under the Constitution of The United States. It's against the law for us to go after them until there has been the commission of a crime. We'd like to prevent that from happening if at all possible."
"Isn't it a crime just being a terrorist?" Wynn was still a little suspicious.
"Judging by the Courts' stance on it, apparently not," Wardahl answered. "If we arrest them the Courts will just turn them loose."
"I still don't understand how any of this involves me." Wynn's tone had softened as he became more receptive to his visitors.
Richard Scorby pulled a folded paper from inside his suit coat. Opening it, he began to read.
"Wynn G. Garrett, United States Naval Officer, Retired; was presented with a Presidential medal today. The medal was given to commend the Navy Seal for his selfless acts of heroics and extraordinary bravery in saving the lives of several fallen comrades."
Scorby looked up, "You're just who we need; trained, loyal and ready."
Wynn's mind was whirling. He tried to keep the confusion from showing on his face. His middle initial wasn't "G" and he'd never served in the military, let alone received a presidential medal. Whoever the article referred to, Wynn knew it definitely wasn't him. It was plain they had the wrong guy. He said nothing.
"And with no living relatives you're perfect for the secretive operations," Wardahl added.
Poor old Aunt Millie will be devastated to find out she's not alive! Wynn made a point to not let his face betray his thoughts. Turning back to Wardahl, he said, "Perfect? For what? What kind of operations?"
"Here's the deal," Wardahl said. "We need a good, reliable and trustworthy field operative. We are here to offer you the position. You already have security clearance and have passed the pre-employment screening. The pay is one hundred fifty thousand dollars for each completed assignment."
Wynn swallowed hard. He'd been ready to tell them they'd made a mistake and refuse the offer. But one hundred fifty thousand dollars? For that kind of money, he'd be whoever they wanted him to be.
Scorby spoke up again, "You would be paid in two installments. Fifty thousand upon being given an assignment, and one hundred thousand when the job is done."
Field operative; assignment; mission. This was all a little overwhelming. "Why don't you just say exactly what it is you mean?" Wynn suggested.
"You would be solely responsible for, uh…" Scorby paused. Clearly, he was uncomfortable with the direction the conversation had taken.
"Eliminating the threat," Wardahl finished.
"Killing the terrorists?" Wynn asked.
"Well, we don't…" Scorby struggled, and then started again. "We usually don't like to, uh, state it in quite that manner." He finally got it out.
"So you're willing to pay me one hundred fifty thousand dollars to, as you say, eliminate the threat?" Wynn was still skeptical. "How many terrorists?"
"That will vary with each assignment," Wardahl explained.
"And I suppose there would be endless regulations on the proper procedure, along with tons of paperwork?"
"No regulations; no paperwork," the sandy haired agent replied. "You would be free to use any and all means necessary to achieve the goal."
"And this is legal?" Wynn asked, still somewhat suspicious. By now he'd entirely forgotten the poignant fact that he wasn't even the guy they thought him to be.
"Well, not exactly," Scorby conceded. He admitted Wynn would be operating outside the law and without the knowledge of law enforcement agencies.
"But with the President's consent and under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security," Wardahl was quick to point out.
"And if I had a problem, would that be a legal defense?" Wynn pressed for more clarification. Suspecting the answer was no, he watched as neither Wardahl nor Scorby offered any comment.
He fell silent. Leaving the two government men hanging for a while wouldn't hurt them. They were used to being in charge, he could tell. His sarcastic and aloof demeanor had caught them off-guard. There was an uncomfortable silence as Wynn "mulled over" his decision. This almost sounded too good to be true. Could it be real? He had no proof these two were who they claimed to be. Were they setting him up? No, he didn't think so. They definitely looked and acted like the government type. Okay, so he wasn't sure who they were, but they didn't know who he was either. What could it hurt to find out if this was a legitimate deal? He had nothing to lose, well, except for his life; these were after all, terrorists that he would be hunting down.
It was somewhat odd though, they hadn't mentioned anything at all about the Middle East, Arabs, or Muslims. He knew that's who they'd meant. What other group of people, race, or religion was known as terrorists? It certainly wasn't the little old ladies and children pulled out of the lines in the airports.
All right, so maybe he'd been wrong. Maybe the latest terrorist threat and red alert level would change his life a little more than September 11th had.
Wynn glanced back at Wardahl and Scorby, "You guys know why there's more terrorists these days?" he asked.
The two sat stone-faced, Wardahl finally broke the silence. "Why?"
Wynn knew what his decision would be. A guy would have to be crazy to turn down what they had offered. But he wasn't ready to let the two agents know.
"So, if I accept your deal, what kind of support can I expect?" Wynn questioned, trying to squeeze out as much information as he could.
They hesitated, then Scorby, who seemed to be the technical expert on the team said, "None." He was quick to add that since Wynn had been selected based on his background and prior military experience, it was expected he was capable of operating alone.
"Okay," Wynn consented. "Would I have access to resources such as FBI files or other intelligence?"
"No," Scorby responded, not offering any further explanation. Apparently, these guys were not accustomed to providing too many details unless it was absolutely necessary.
Wardahl had been quietly growing impatient with Wynn's frivolous questions. "We can allow you until three o'clock to make a decision," he said.
Sensing he wasn't likely to elicit any additional information, Wynn nodded. "How do I get a hold of you?"
"You don't," was Wardahl's reply.
"We'll be back at three for your answer," Scorby told him.
The two left. As they walked out the door, Wardahl turned back to Wynn. "I'd advise you not to breathe a word about this to anyone," he said roughly.
Was it advice or a warning Wynn wondered? He gave them a barely perceptible nod. More like an ominous threat it seemed.
Not that it was much of a problem. Who would he tell? Loners, like Wynn, were not typically in the habit of sharing their life's story with anyone. With no family and few close friends, there was really no need to discuss anything, particularly things of this nature, with anyone.
Wynn poured another cup of coffee. He may not be who they thought he was, but he was the one they were going to get! They believed him to be a former special operations Navy seal, so that's what he'd become. If, in the future they figured it out then, oh well, their slip-up, not his. It wasn't as though he'd intentionally set out to deceive anyone. They had come to him.
Any moral perfunctory he felt was quickly overcome by the magnitude of their offer. One hundred fifty thousand dollars was a lot of money! More than he'd ever seen at any one time. For those kinds of wages, he was willing to be a little less than forthcoming about his identity.
Wynn decided to skip work today. Depending on the outcome at three o'clock, he may not ever go back. Maybe he could sell the place.
The next few hours he spent catching up on things he'd neglected around the house, just wasting time more than anything. He was restless, and it was only noon. Turning on the TV, he soon learned there was nothing new to report. He watched it anyway. And waited.
The clock read ten minutes before three. Wynn could feel a lump forming in his throat. Was it anxiety due to the prospective job or was it the thought of all the money.
A sharp knock on the door told him the Homeland Security guys had returned.
"Well, here goes." He opened the door and without waiting to be invited, Wardahl and Scorby stepped inside. Wynn noticed they again were a little edgy being outside, like they were fearful of being seen.
"Come in," Wynn said, the sarcasm not lost on the two.
"Have you reached a decision?" Wardahl demanded.
Feeling suddenly like a foreman on a jury, Wynn replied, "Yes, I have." He almost added "Your Honor" but thought better of it. It wouldn't kill him to try to keep his new bosses happy - for now. "I've decided to accept your offer."
"Good, sit down," Wardahl directed him.
Wynn sat sown, this time complying with Wardahl's order. Richard Scorby abruptly went out the door as Wardahl began briefing Wynn on the proper procedure for assignments, according to the agencies protocol. Then he launched into a re-iteration of why they needed to hire Wynn.
"The U.S. Patriot Act, passed by Congress, has provided the legal means to identify certain terrorists known to be in America. Law enforcement can listen in on conversations, gather information regarding terrorist plans, and even pinpoint their location. The Department of Homeland Security, working with the CIA, FBI and countless other agencies can easily do this and more."
Wardahl continued, "Unfortunately, due to recent rulings by inept judges, sympathetic to the terrorists, the intelligence gathered by the government has been rendered useless. Conferring the rights granted to citizens through the Constitution to the terrorists, the Courts have dealt a major blow to the Anti-terrorism operation of the Department of Homeland Security. The media, of course, doesn't help matters, constantly broadcasting their blatantly biased coverage in favor of the terrorists."
From what Wynn could tell, the upshot of it all was the hands of the government were tied. Meaning, that just because the information was readily available, any solution to the terrorist problem was, in effect, illegal. The solution being the elimination of said terrorists. If they were arrested, the Courts would undoubtedly release them on some technicality.
And that's where Wynn came into the picture. It would be his job to eliminate the threat by whatever means he deemed necessary. There was however, a caveat. Despite the fact that he would be operating under the authority of the United States Government, there would be no backup or support provided.
"Don't get caught," Wardahl looked him in the eye.
Wynn knew the words weren't merely a suggestion.
"If you do, there will be no legal defense; no government intervention. You are strictly on your own." Wardahl finally appeared to be finished.
Scorby was back now, seated at the dining room table, a vast array of electronic equipment before him.
As soon as his partner was done speaking, the smaller Scorby picked up the conversation. "I'll be providing you with multiple pieces of identification. These are from various states, all are legitimate and legal."
Scorby continued his feverish pace, working as he talked, scurrying back and forth from one computer to another. A laminating printer connected to a laptop began spitting out cards.
Wynn watched as driver's licenses, social security cards and credit cards piled up on his table. He counted ten sets of ID. So, this is the 'shadow government' at work! It certainly was more efficient than the government he was accustomed to. But then, that wouldn't take much.
Richard Scorby handed Wynn a large envelope. "This is your start up operating capital, in addition, you'll have the credit cards. The cards are not paid for by the government, you'll be responsible for any charges you make. The payment will automatically be deducted from your new bank account I've opened for you. An initial deposit of fifty thousand dollars has been made, and there is an ATM card here as well."
Scorby continued, "All military records have been altered, so there is no official documentation of your ever having served in the Navy. Your fingerprints will no longer be filed under your name. No one will be able to identify you as Wynn Garrett."
The little man began packing the electronics, and handed Wynn a cell phone. Wardahl sat watching.
"You can use this phone anytime, anywhere. You'll never lose service. There is no charge. Call whoever you want, but don't call us, you can't. If we want to talk to you, we'll call you." Scorby had finished packing and the two men prepared to leave.
Wynn examined the cell phone. Not seeing a name on it, he asked. "What company is this?"
"It's not from a phone company, it's a government phone," Scorby announced. He paused as if mentally shifting gears. "Tomorrow, you'll receive your first assignment in the mail. Once you've completed it, we'll deposit the remaining one hundred thousand dollars into your account. Any questions?"
"No," Wynn shook his head. Actually, he had plenty of questions but they'd be answered in good time.
The two agents left.
"Brains and Brawn," Wynn said under his breath as they closed the door.
He realized he'd been holding the envelope containing his operating capital since Scorby had handed it to him. He tore it open. Expecting around a hundred dollars or so, Wynn was speechless when he found two bundles of crisp one hundred dollar bills. Five thousand dollars! He stuffed the money into his pocket.
Sitting down at the table, he picked up his new phone, wondering if he was on the do not call list. One of his many pet peeves was being interrupted by those annoying morons on the phone.
He didn't like to admit it, but he'd once tried it himself. Not being much of a salesman, he'd quit after the first week. Telemarketing just wasn't his calling.
The package was in the mail, just as Scorby had promised. Wynn had never held much respect for government workers; morons who couldn't get a real job, so they join the most incompetent work force in the history of the world, but he had to admit Wardahl and Scorby were, so far at least, very different. They were admittedly, a little strange, yet thorough and efficient. Of course, there was the whole thing about them not knowing who he was, to consider. Apparently, they were efficient fools. Still, he'd willingly come along for the ride. Was he too a fool? Maybe, but if so, he was a rich fool.
He might also soon be a dead fool he realized. If the government with all its technology, intelligence and weaponry couldn't take out a few terrorists on the sly, what made him think he could? With no experience, he was like a fish out of water. He'd be lucky to survive the first encounter.
Back inside the house, Wynn quickly tore open the mail. The manila envelope contained only five sheets of paper, each a profile of a known terrorist. At the top was a picture, followed by the name, possible aliases, terrorist organization with which they were affiliated, and their last known address. No instruction for Wynn, and nothing to suggest for what the five Middle-Easterners were wanted.
One hundred fifty thousand dollars to find five guys and remove their presence from the earth. It sounded simple enough. Wynn still couldn't believe it.
He cut out the pictures and copied the address on the back. These he put in his wallet, along with a few different sets of ID and credit cards. It was apparent; he was going to need a bigger billfold.
"Too much junk," he muttered.
Finally, after removing everything else from the wallet, he managed to close it. The money was in his pocket and that's where it would have to stay.
He planned to travel light; the money, his ID and the clothes on his back would be all he was taking. On second thought, he decided, a weapon might come in handy, given his job description.
"An M-16 would be nice," he mumbled to himself.
Unfortunately, his gun cabinet didn't have one. He chose a .45 semi-automatic and a snub nosed .38, strapping on two shoulder holsters.
Two handguns, which fired the same ammunition, would have been better, but he had to use what was available. Loading each pistol, along with an extra clip for both, he then filled his jacket pockets with the rest of the bullets.
Ready to close the gun cabinet, his eye fell on his hunting knife. Fastening the sheath inside his boot, the weapon was effectively hidden to view.
The day before, Wynn had told his neighbor, Mrs. Nosey, as he called her that he was planning to leave. He'd made up some story about his Aunt Millie being sick and needing help around her place. He'd said he had no idea how long he'd be gone. The rest of his neighbors, he knew, would get the story from her. They'd probably know all about it before he'd even left town.
She was outside as he got into the taxi he'd called. Waving, he hurried to get inside before she could hurl more questions.
Taking the taxicab to the bus station, Wynn purchased a ticket to Dallas, Texas. Three of the five terrorists on his list were in the Dallas area, making that the most logical place to begin. He paid the fare in cash, not wanting a paper trail to come back to haunt him.
Two days later, tired, sore and dirty, Wynn crawled off the bus. Using one of his newly acquired ID's, he checked into a cheap motel. Studying a map in his room, he located the address of his first target, Mr. Omar Kahdeph.
It looked like only four miles or so from the motel and Wynn decided to take an evening stroll. He didn't particularly relish the idea of an eight-mile trek, but it seemed to be the most feasible way of getting an up-close look.
Arriving outside the residence an hour later, Wynn noticed several people visible through the windows. Their nationality was a toss up, but they were definitely from the Middle East. So far, he appeared to be on the right track.
He walked on by.
In a few minutes, it would be dark, enabling him the opportunity to investigate without the chance of being so readily seen.
Making a big circle, twenty minutes later, he again approached the house. The streetlight was a little closer than he liked but there were enough shadows to shield him from the prying eyes of the people inside the home. Slipping down the driveway, between the house and the car, Wynn peered into the window.
Three men were seated at a table, none looked like the picture of Omar Kahdeph. He waited. There had been at least two women in the living room when he'd passed by earlier, but they were nowhere to be seen.
The men were talking but Wynn couldn't hear what they were saying. "Probably ain't smart enough to know English anyway," he figured.
He edged around to the back of the house. A bedroom window was slightly opened. The shade was pulled, but as he moved closer, there was enough of a crack to see most of the room.
Creeping up to the glass, his hands braced on the ledge, Wynn saw a man with his back toward the window. The turban-wearing guy kept his face down, intently studying an open folder on the desk.
"Turn around, you stupid diaper-headed sheik," Wynn silently commanded.
After what seemed like an eternity, the man scooped up the papers, he'd been shuffling through. Placing them into a folder, he turned slightly as he stood. Laying the folder on a shelf, the man took a couple of steps in Wynn's direction!
Wynn ducked, hoping he hadn't been seen. The window above his head slammed shut. The momentary glimpse he'd had of the man's face had been enough. Wynn had found his first terrorist!
Tip-toeing back through the driveway, Wynn began walking toward the motel. His mind was busy formulating a plan.
Over the next few days, he made several trips by the terrorist's house. Omar Kahdeph left in his car every morning at precisely 7:30, and returned at 4:45 in the afternoon. The man's schedule seemed to suggest he was working a normal forty-hour a week job. Recalling how the 9-11 terrorists had assimilated into society, Wynn wasn't too surprised.
After another week of observing the man's pattern, Wynn chose the next night to execute the first step of his mission. If all went well, the following day, there would be one less terrorist!
Stopping at the hardware store a few blocks away, he purchased a small bottle of liquid drain opener and three tubes of soldering wire and then returned to his motel. It was time for a little research.
Conducting an experiment, he removed the soldering wire from one of the tubes and filled the small container to the top with drain opener. Then, he replaced the cap sealing the drain opener inside. Setting it on the edge of the sink, he checked his watch. He needed to know exactly how long it would take the acetic liquid to eat through the plastic.
With the tube resting on the porcelain sink, Wynn patiently waited.
Exactly seven minutes and thirty seconds later, the drain opener began seeping through the plastic, forming a puddle around the base. Then, all at once, the little bottle seemed to disintegrate and the liquid came flooding out.