The line at the Ferrara kiosk snaked toward the Merchant’s Gate, which was what Bobby Noreen wanted. The busier the better. The lunch time crowd gathered at tables, along the sitting wall and at the base of the monument. Javier and he worked their dollies, headed through the Park to the Tavern. Bobby went in the side entrance to show his pass to the kitchen staff. A tall woman in a burgundy apron let them in the service entrance. The entire way, Javier Chavez had wished someone would stop them and ask what they were doing, but of course, that would defeat the purpose of his mission.
“Stick in,” his handler had said. “Until you can give us the network, there’s no use bailing.”
I can’t let this happen. I won’t. This is beyond the pale.
Bobby efficiently in installing the refrigerant canisters and checked the gauges. Of course, the last canister in the row was not what it appeared to be. Javier could feel his cells breaking down just at the thought of what was safely contained in that shell.
Bobby handed off the clipboard to the manager, who signed the invoice. It was so above-board and ordinary. They walked back to the kiosk and got in line to get lunch, just two workers taking a break before their next delivery. Javier found it hard to joke with Bobby as they stood in line, got their food and ate it. He knew the importance of appearing ordinary and comfortable and Bobby sure seemed fine with eating so close to the destruction of a city, but Javier was not a mad man and he knew what they had just set in motion.
I won’t do this. I must warn them. This is cannot happen!
Still, he didn’t lose a beat in the conversation and nobody who didn’t know him would realize that he was freaked out. They finished their lunch and headed back toward the delivery van.
“Good job,” Bobby said as they neared the van, wiping a sheen of sweat from his dark forehead, pulling off his cap to reveal his close-crossed black hair. Javier loaded the dollies, while Bobby hit the air conditioning. “Didn’t even read nervousness off you, man.”
“I’m pleased to do it,” Javier said. “It’s time this cesspool of a city was ended, for the good of all humanity.”
“Takbir,” Bobby whispered.
“Allahu akbar,” Javier replied, smiling.
They drove for a ways, until they were far uptown.
“I need some cigs,” Bobby announced and pulled over at a gas station. Javier waited in the van while Bobby ran in. Javier quickly picked up Bobby’s phone, attached it to his with a pigtail and performed a quick download. By the time Bobby came out, the phone was back where he’d left it and Javier was smiling at the blue sky.
“What now?” Javier asked. “Do we stay in the city to be martyrs or are we traveling?”
Bobby lit a cigarette and offered Javier one, which he turned down.
“I’ll let you know as soon as I hear from the emir. Keep your phone on.”
Javier nodded emphatically and rode in seeming peace to his apartment where Bobby let him out.
Will I meet the emir soon? Or are they just using us and this has all been folly?
Javier slid his mattress off the base so he could access the space beneath. The secure laptop powered up in moments and he began to scan what he’d gotten from Bobby’s phone. In over a year of undercover investigation, he’d never had such a good chance to download Bobby’s phone. He’d gotten bits and pieces before, but this time what flashed across his screen took his breath away. This was a lot bigger than just New York and if he read the plans right, Bobby knew of at least 10 other cities that were at risk.
There were two people he needed to tell about what was happening and when. Grant Colby was first, routed through 15 proxy servers to an email Javier hoped hadn’t been compromised, to be delivered two weeks from now. The other was Jon Dracines, a New York Times reporter Javier had known in the Middle East, also routed through many servers and scheduled to hit his email September 25 at 6 p.m., leaving just enough time for him to report what he knew and save the city.
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