Sunday, June 11, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapters 17 & 18

Oh! The Pain
& The Bug-Out

By Ed Rogers

Chapter 17. Oh! The Pain

Tom got some meat and bread and sat down to watch TV. Halfway through his sandwich, his eyes became heavy and he lay out on the couch with his head on the arm. He was awakened from his nap by a loud voice.
    Tom didn’t know how long he had been asleep, but Jake was back and very upset with someone on the telephone. He was saying, “How the hell did you let something like that happen, your people should have stayed with her. How do you expect me to tell him this? These bastards have gone nuts. They think they can kill people without it coming back on them? Sooner or later somebody will start asking the right questions.” Jake paused to listen.
    “Yeah, I know the shit is hitting the fan. You watch out for yourself. My girls got out of here a little while ago and I am sending Warring out tomorrow. Then I’m gone.” Jake listened again.
    “No, his flight is not stopping on Wake Island. He’ll be flying nonstop to Moses Lake in Washington State…I know it’s a CIA base, Stepen, but no one checks our planes. He’ll be all right. They—” Jake turned, and saw Tom watching him. “I’ll talk to you before I bug out. It looks like my guest is awake…Yeah, you too.”
    Jake put the phone down. “Well, did you have a good sleep?”
    “I must have. What did Stepen want? You didn’t seem very happy with him.”
    “Tom, there’s no easy way to tell somebody this,” Jake said, sitting down next to Tom.
    But Tom had jumped up and was now standing over Jake, his hands clenched into fists as if he could beat back the words he knew were coming next.
    “There was a car accident, Tom – or that is what the police are calling it, although I don’t believe it – and Mary Cah—”
    The sound that came out of Tom was nothing human. He crumpled to the floor, beating a fist against his head, as though he were trying to wake himself from a nightmare.
    Jake tried to pick Tom up, but he fought and cussed at him so bad that Jake decided to let him alone for awhile. Jake had gone through the same pain, so he knew Tom was just at the beginning, and it would be a long time before he would be able to accept the death of Mary.
    Jake didn’t have time to babysit Tom – he had to go put someone in charge of the compound. It wasn’t the first time he had taken off for awhile, but this time he wasn’t coming back. He called the houseboy and told him to check on Tom before he took off for the night.
    Tom still lay in the middle of the floor as the door closed behind Jake.

In his head, Jake was going over the list of things that needed to be wrapped up before he exited the stage. At the beginning, it had been a very long list, but in the end, he knew there was only time to say goodbye. Money and changing his ID were no problem, but he owed the people who had become part of his family a chance to carry on after he was gone.
    It was close to midnight by the time Jake got back to the house. The plane with his daughters had taken off at eight o’clock. Now he needed to get Tom ready for the morning flight to the States.
    Jake walked in half expecting Tom to be still on the floor. The living room was a mess – furniture knocked over, broken bottles, and glasses everywhere Jake stepped. Tom had found the liquor cabinet and at some point began throwing things. At first, Jake was pissed off, but then he thought, what the hell, he didn’t live there anymore.
    Jake went from one room to the other looking for Tom, but he couldn’t find him anywhere. He was starting to worry that Tom might have done something to himself. Damn, why hadn’t he had someone stay with him?
    He came out onto the back porch where they had eaten breakfast and had coffee that morning. It was dark, so Jake turned the outside lights on, and there was Tom passed out in the middle of the jungle flowers. An empty bottle of Jack Daniels was still in one of his hands, a large number of plants were destroyed, and dirt covered him from head to foot.
    At first, Jake was tempted to let him sleep it off where he had fallen, but if he woke up during the night, he might just take off, and Jake couldn’t have Warring lost somewhere in Vietnam. Dead maybe, but not lost.
    He called the houseboy and another man to carry Tom up to his room. Tom’s plane was taking off at 9:00 a.m., and Jake was going to make sure he was on that plane. He posted two men to guard Tom until it was time for him to leave. Jake felt sorry for him, but now wasn’t the time for grieving. First you find a safe place, and then you grieve. Now was a time for staying alive.
    The next morning Tom was in as bad shape as he had been the night before. He was still covered in dirt from the flower garden and he reeked of booze. Jake tried to get Tom to take a bath, but all Tom wanted was a drink, and he was ready to fight anyone for that drink. It wasn’t going to be easy getting him on the plane.
    Jake drove Tom to the airfield, where the plane waited to take off, and gave him two fingers of Jack Daniels in a water glass and promised more booze later. He gave the pilots the bottle of Jack Daniels and told them to give him a drink if he got too hard to handle.
    Jake had looked in Tom’s bag and found Ted Waters’s telephone number at the New Daily. Though he knew the CIA or some of their friends might have the New Daily bugged, it was a chance Jake had to take. Tom was going to need help when he got back to the States, and the only number Jake had was this Ted’s.

Ted had been both happy and surprised to get the telephone call about Tom, because he had been thinking the worse. Tom had never been gone on a story this long without getting in touch with the home office. Ted told the man who called, who wouldn’t identify himself, that he would take the company jet and meet Tom in Moses Lake.
    The man had said Tom was in bad shape. Some things had gone wrong for him, and he would be a little drunk when he got off the plane.
    Ted knew that neither he himself nor Tom could get a little drunk.

Chapter 18. The Bug-Out

As 10 p.m. the next night approached, everything was in place for Jake’s departure in the morning, and now he was burning personal papers that he couldn’t take with him. Burning the pictures was hard, but he couldn’t take anything that would lead back to this life. After tonight, “Jake Cumingham” would be dead to the world.
    He was thinking about just burning the house down, but there were some good memories in the old house, and maybe the next person would find some of the love and happiness he had found here. Jake was lost in the daydream of his wife and how happy they had been, living in the house.
    The sound of the telephone caused him to jump and his heart to stop for a second. He looked at his watch. Who the hell would be calling this time of night?
    “Hello, yes, this is Jake....”
    Jake finished listening and put the telephone down to walk over to the bar and pour a drink. It was Stepen’s driver on the phone. Stepen had opened the door to his apartment, and the door blew up and killed him. The driver, who went in before Stepen, had found everything to be fine. It was the damned CIA and their DA54!
    Now that Stepen was gone, Jake knew they would be coming for him. He decided the drink could wait. He grabbed his bag with all his belongings in it and pulled his old M16 and Colt 45 off the wall. Next to the big TV, Jake pushed a handle down and the wall opened to a set of stairs leading down. He descended the stairs two and three at a time, and at the bottom, he entered his long escape tunnel, picking up speed as he headed down its lighted course.
    Vietnam had more tunnels than any other place in the world. The Vietnamese had started digging them when the French owned Vietnam. Then, during the war with America, they kicked their tunneling into high gear. This one tied into two other main tunnels. A person could go for miles underground, but Jake just needed to make it a mile and a half and he would be a free man.

At 35,000 feet, the pilot banked over and prepared for his bomb run. The F117 Stealth Nighthawk had taken off from a carrier that was holding just south of Japan. The pilot had no idea what his target was. Computers fought the wars; the pilot just rode the candles. The computer would drop the bomb unless the pilot stopped the countdown. Somewhere down below a grunt on the ground was painting a target. The control box he held would send a signal to the computer on the plane, which would release and guide the bomb right into the front door of the target.
    Two Delta Force soldiers had dropped in the night before. They had a twenty-mile hump before they made it to their present location, where they had been lying in the middle of poppy heaven for hours. Their briefing described the target as a drug kingpin, and their job was to paint his house at 10 p.m. local time. They expected the damage to be limited late at night, after everybody had turned in.
    One of them was keeping an eye out with a star scope for any movement. They didn’t want to blow the house up with the occupant somewhere else, but no one had come out after their target entered. The soldier sighted the laser on the house and waited for the sound of the bomb dropping in from 35,000 feet.
    The blast knocked the soldiers backward, the sky turned to daylight, and the sound of the explosion echoed down through the valleys. The soldiers collected themselves from being thrown backwards, packed up, and started humping toward their extraction point.

Jake was running full out as the smart bomb fell out of the belly of the Nighthawk. When it hit the house, it made a harrowing sound in the tunnel. The gust of air that preceded the sound had knocked Jake face down in the dirt. Then the ceiling began to fall down around him. He couldn’t breathe and he pulled his shirt over his face. This went on for what seemed like minutes, but was, in fact, only a few seconds.
    The lights had gone out, and Jake was trying to find his bag with the flashlight in it. His legs were pinned under the collapsed earth. He guessed the bag was next to his legs, so he started digging and pulling his legs out. Before long, his legs were free, and the bag was open.
    With the flashlight, Jake started assessing what had happened. There was an explosion back at the house – Jake was sure of that – and starting from where his legs were buried, there now seemed to be nothing but a wall of dirt all the way back to the house. If he were two seconds slower, he reckoned, he would be dead now.
    Turning the light toward the other end of the tunnel, Jake was delighted to see the light fade away into the distance. He would live to fight another day.
    Jake pulled himself up and headed down the tunnel toward freedom.

The plane with a very drunk Tom Warring landed in Moses Lake, Washington. The pilot taxied to the end of the runway and turned toward the hangar where Ted was waiting.
    The airfield at Moses Lake was a perfect cover for the CIA. It was in the middle of the State of Washington, in the middle of miles and miles of farmland. The Boeing Corporation leased the airfield in order to train pilots to fly the airplanes they built. So airplanes taking off and landing at all times of the day and night were very common.
    Standing outside the corporate jet, Ted watched the B52 cargo plane pull up and stop. He hollered in at his pilot, “Fire them up: We’re getting the hell out of here as soon as I get our man.”
    Ted was standing at the cargo plane’s door as the crew helped Tom off. Turning him over to Ted, the crew chief said, “You are welcome to this drunken bastard.”
    Tom looked like death warmed over and smelled like something a dog rolled in. As Ted helped Tom back toward the corporate jet, Tom was carrying on about how they were killing everybody. “Ted, they killed Mary.”
    Ted had no idea what Tom was talking about. He had seen a report about the Cahill woman’s car going off a cliff in Germany. Tom might make more sense if he wasn’t fall-down drunk.
    Tom stopped at the door of the jet and said, “No, Ted, I can’t go with you. They will kill you too.”
    “You let me worry about that, Tom. Right now we have to get you home.” Ted helped Tom onto the plane.
    Tom wanted a drink in the worse way, so Ted gave him a little drink with a tranquilizer in it. The drink put Tom right out, and he slept all the way to New York, where Ted had an ambulance waiting to take Tom to a hospital for a thirty-day dry-out.
    Ted’s mind was made up – if Tom pulled through this, once he was out of the hospital he and Tom were going have a heart to heart. Ted couldn’t have a reporter running all over the world totally out of control. Tom was going to stay at a desk job or hit the highway. This was the last straw. Everybody deserved a chance, and Tom had had his.
[Editor’s Note: The novel from which these excerpts are taken can be ordered from Amazon, as either a paperback or a Kindle book.]

Copyright © 2017 by Ed Rogers

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