(a standalone GetFisk adventure novella)
“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Samuel Johnson
Top of the Mark, San Francisco (8 days ago)….
Her skirt was a bit too high, her neckline a bit too low, and her eyes a bit too eager. Radecki knew she was a pro, knew she’d be expensive. No matter.
What he didn’t know was that he’d be dead within the hour.
He finished his Mojito, took leave of the red-haired man sitting next to him and moved down the bar to the stool next to ‘eager eyes.’ He ordered two Mojitos, slid one in front of her.
“Hi. I’m Ginger. Glad to meetcha.”
Ten minutes later, Radecki and Ginger left the bar together. As they left, he nodded to the red-haired man with whom he’d been drinking earlier. The man had come to the bar at Radecki’s request.
Although not friends, the two men knew each other from special ops days. They had left military service for the bigger paydays of private contracting.
The skills they had honed as military snipers found brisk demand on both sides of the law. Their reputations for meticulous preparation and reliability had put them at the top of their grisly profession.
The red-haired man had recently accepted a contract to carry out the most ambitious assassination since that of JFK. If successful, it would feed the political divisiveness in America and profoundly impact the course of world events.
Radecki had been considered for the contract and wanted it, but it had gone to Boylan. The client had paid Radecki $100,000 to forget what he knew.
Worried about being silenced permanently, Radecki had written a letter detailing everything he knew about the assassination plot. He’d given the letter to a friend who promised to deliver it to the FBI if Radecki failed to call him daily.
Radecki had met with the red-haired man at the bar to tell him about his letter to the FBI. The man agreed to tell his client about the letter. That should be enough, Radecki hoped, to discourage the client from taking any lethal action against him. It was his life insurance policy.
He opened the door to Ginger’s unlit room and followed her inside. Just inside, she turned to him, put her hands on his hips and pulled him in against her cushy body. She reached up and tipped his head down so their lips could meet. Her tongue circumnavigated his mouth, then slid over his cheek to his ear where it ushered in a clammy whisper.
“Would you turn on that lamp by the window while I take a pee.”
She gave him a little push toward the window. He started in that direction but then stood stock still, sensing something amiss.
Son of a bitch!
He spun around, saw Ginger slipping out the door into the hall. He started after her but the door slammed shut and a big dark shape moved in front of it. Radecki cursed his sluggish reflexes.
Second fucking Mojito!
An overhead light came on. Radecki squinted to see in the sudden brightness. The big dark shape in front of him was a man in a black suit.
Radecki: “What the hell….”
“She’s gone, Leon… said your willy’s too wee. Just you and me here now.”
Radecki knew the voice. No mistaking the cockney accent with its Mandarin cadence. He started to move toward the man, stopped when he saw the handgun pointed at him. It was a 9mm Sig pistol equipped with a silencer. He knew the rig, knew it was a pro’s weapon.
Radecki: “The FBI will….”
The short, muted hiss was a familiar sound to Radecki. It was the last thing he heard.
FBI Office, San Francisco (5 days ago)….
“We found the keycard in Radecki’s pocket. The room was registered to you.”
“I didn’t mean to get him killed for chrisssakes. A guy gimme ten bills to get a room, get him there, and clear out.”
“What can you remember about that guy — how he looked, what he said?”
“Looked like a Chinaman. Big and tough. More’n six feet. Mean-lookin’ and bald. Funny way of talkin’. He gets a call while I’m with him and I hear him name someplace a couple times. Sounded somethin’ like… macka.”
Ginger: “Yeah, that sounds like it.”
She was looking through a rogues gallery of contract killers known to the FBI. One picture stopped her.
“That’s him! That’s the guy was at the bar with my guy who got dead.”
The agent thanked her and led her from the room. Then he and a colleague examined the photo of a husky, red-haired man in his thirties.
“Tim Boylan. Special ops for seven years, six as a sniper. Hundred and two recorded kills. Something soured him and he resigned, put his skill set out for hire. He’ll kill anyone for a price. No one’s better at it.
“So Boylan got the contract Radecki wanted, and Radecki was so pissed he spilled the beans in the letter he sent us. Posthumously, as it’s turned out.”
In fact, Radecki had intended his incriminating letter only as a threat. He’d figured that the people he feared would let him live — maybe even protect him — if they knew his letter would go to the FBI if he were killed.
What he hadn’t figured was that his killers would strike before hearing about the letter — before his messenger, Boylan, could tell them about it.
“It helps to know who the hitter is, but not enough. That kind of talent can be replaced, and three million bucks buys the best. What we need to know is who’s putting the money up — who’s the rich bastard who’ll make Trump a martyr if we don’t stop him. Or her.
“The Secret Service can’t stop what they can’t see. Boylan can strike from a mile away, completely out of sight. He’ll know where Trump is, according to Radecki, because his rich employer feeds him itineraries from well paid inside sources.
“So identifying and stopping Boylan’s employer is the only sure way we can protect Trump from Boylan or his successor. Radecki’s letter says it’s some business big shot who buys political influence and wants Trump whacked, probably for a business reason. That could be any one of a lot of people who got screwed in Trump’s business deals.
“Whoever it is has to be really well heeled. It takes a lot of means and motivation to try something like this. The Bureau’ll need outside help on this one. We’ll need someone who knows the ranking billionaires well enough to help us put together a list of suspects.
“The critical factor now is time. We’ve got to find this jackel’s boss before the country’s most prominent man becomes its most lamented.”
432 Park Ave., NYC — 94th floor (3 days ago)…
Joe Costa, a deputy director of the FBI, entered the foyer to Fisk’s penthouse overlooking Manhattan’s upper east side. He’d come there to inform Fisk about the assassination plot, and to solicit his assistance. He was both excited and nervous about meeting the mysterious tycoon.
Costa was greeted warmly by a familiar-looking young woman in sweats. Arrestingly beautiful with long, lustrous black hair, she led him into a huge parlor. Floor-to-ceiling windows opened three sides of the room to dizzying views of the city far below.
The simplicity of the modern décor surprised him. He likened its starkness to that of the owner’s short one-word name. Both belied the storied complexity of the man.
Fisk entered the parlor. The two men shook hands and sat in facing club chairs. Their leather was the softest Costa had ever felt. He told Fisk of the assassination plot and of the Bureau’s need.
“We know the plotter is someone who’s extremely wealthy, as you are, and who operates with no apparent constraints or scruples. This person uses money ruthlessly to buy, sell, elevate and remove people at all levels in his pursuit of power and money. That’s most of what we know to date, and we’re progressing much too slowly.
“We’re in crisis mode and could sure use the help of someone who knows more than we do about the super rich and how they operate. You’ve helped the Bureau before and the Director trusts you.”
“So you want me to spy on people I know in the hope that I might stumble onto your villain.”
Costa: “Not spy, sir. We just want…”
“Whatever you want to call it, it’s not going to happen. Some of the people you’ll want investigated are friends of mine. I’m not about to go poking into their businesses. I’m too busy, anyway.”
“I understand. I’m real disappointed, but at least I got a chance to meet you. I’m a big fan.
“I love the legend about the orphan kid — you — who raised and sold an old sunken barge he’d found, and then parlayed the proceeds into what’s become one of the world’s biggest conglomerates.
“Amazing story and an inspiration to all entrepreneurs. So pleased to meet you.”
“I appreciate your coming here. Sorry I can’t help you.”
“No problem. By the way, I heard an interesting new rumor about another legendary rags to riches story. Remember the hot news item a few years ago about a famous Mexican cartel boss who got killed flying his own plane?”
Fisk: “Vaguely. What about it?”
“He was a smart, tough kid who fought his way to the top of a major Mexican cartel before he was twenty-five. Ruthless as hell. Still in his twenties when his plane crashed.”
Fisk: “So what’s the rumor?”
“That he’s still alive — that he faked his death and a new identity, and used his ill-gotten gains to build an industrial empire as big as yours.”
“Complete bullshit. Enough, Mr. Costa.
I think we’re done here.”
“It’s just a rumor, Mr. Fisk. Interesting to speculate, though, about what would happen if word got out that that cartel boss is still alive.
“He had a lot of enemies — rough bunch.”
“Cut the crap. That hood’s long dead and can’t be linked to anyone alive. If anybody tried, they’d be buried in lawsuits by the country’s best shysters.
“How’d you like to see your Justice Department sued for libel or extortion?”
“Whoa, sir! The U.S. government would never libel or extort anyone. What I was talking about was just a rumor. Nobody knows or cares where rumors come from. Probably no one pays much attention to them either. Right?”
Fisk gave him a wry smile.
“I came here only to appeal to your patriotism. That’s all. I was told you were patriotic.”
Fisk gazed out the window for most of a minute, then turned to Costa.
“You’re right, Deputy, I am patriotic. And as a patriot, I’ll help you with your investigation.
“Two of my colleagues — Tarita Lee, whom you met on your way in here, and Carlos Madrid — work with me on such matters. We’ll start today.”
To: Tarita Lee and Carlos Madrid
Subj: Voting with bullets
The FBI just learned that an attempt on Donald Trump’s life is imminent. The Bureau’s informer identified the retained assassin but not the person who retained him. Suspects include wealthy people I know. The FBI requested my help and I accepted.
The 2016 elections polarized Americans like never before. An attempt on Trump’s life could turn that polarity into massive unrest. If successful, it could trigger much worse.
The assassin can be replaced, so our primary objective is to identify and neutralize the person who retained him. The assassin may provide a lead to his employer, so we’ll track but not stop him until necessary.
· Fisk identifies possible suspects.
· Carlos leads the vetting process.
· Tarita tracks/suborns the assassin.
We begin this work immediately and urgently.