Revised September 3rd 2006.
This was my first ever attempt at fiction and according to all of your generous comments and feedback I have been led to believe it was well received. I have corrected my spelling and grammatical errors and altered a few words and phrases. I also followed a few suggestions for some minor alterations to the ending.
I hope you truly enjoyed it the first time and will take the time to read it again.
I intend to leave my original Authors Notes in place.
Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to leave comments and feedback!
22,000 pounds of smuggled narcotics
200 million US dollars
4 body bags
1 ruthless drug lord
For language and violence
The man stared at the black SUV where it sat, alone, next to the dumpster. His box had been shoved further into the corner of the alley to make room for the four-door behemoth. He approached the back of the vehicle with reserved caution, but a bold inquisitiveness that comes from years on the street. This was his home. His things were here. How dare they?
But his territorial instinct was quelled by the shear oddity of what now sat in his personal space. It was obvious that they didn't belong here and that fact alone made them more dangerous than what he was used to running into on these streets at night.
He dared to continue his approach. He could see four shadows moving through the tinted glass. No, only three. The muted shine on the SUV's hubcaps grabbed his attention as a reflected motion behind him caught his eye. He turned quickly, ready to face whatever sudden threat had snuck up so quietly behind him.
Even in the almost absolute darkness he could see her standing there. The woman had approached him from the eastern entrance to the alleyway. How did he miss her? The narrow passage between the buildings was hardly wide enough for his thin frame. He must have brushed right by her in his hurry to get back to his spot behind the dumpster. He rebuked himself for his careless behavior as the woman continued her advance.
She surveyed the old man with a meandering curiosity that somehow eased his sudden fear of the danger she represented. Her eyes moved over him and he felt her assessment of the threat he presented as well. Their eyes met and he was forced to look away from her steady glare. This woman was standing alone – but there was no fear in her eyes. His gaze fell to her hands as she adjusted her stance to move further to his right. The semi-automatic weapon she held tight in her fist brought his receding fear back at full force.
"You're gonna need to find someplace else to sleep tonight pops….you don't wanna be anywhere near here right now."
There was no admonishment in her voice, just truth. He looked into her eyes once more and he could see the conviction behind her words. This wasn't someone he wanted to ignore. He moved to retreat back into his narrow passageway. When she stepped further into the light he could see the thick vest she was wearing and the large yellow letters that spoke volumes: FBI.
He turned and ran.
Chapter One: Unforeseen Developments
Special Agent Don Eppes grabbed his brother by the back of the head and shoved him face first into the floor of the SUV. Charlie tried to sit back up but his brother's stern voice kept him where he was.
"Charlie, stay down!"
His voice was low, but his tone was all Charlie needed to understand what was going on. Don drew his weapon, but kept it low.
The two agents in the front seats of the SUV pulled their sidearms so slowly an unaware observer would never have noticed the motion.
Charlie slid the rest of his body off the seat and into the floor of the vehicle. Don grabbed the kevlar vest he had been in the process of putting on and shoved it over Charlie where he was crouched in the floor.
"Don't move Charlie."
As if he needed to be told again. He wasn't about to move from his position.
Agent David Sinclair glanced in the review mirror to get a look at his boss.
He could see Don's eyes were wide with a fear that he had only seen once before.
He wasn't supposed to be in the field. But he had wanted to get a look at the buildings.
"Observation is a functional variable to add if you want to narrow this list down. Come on, Don. We need to know for sure. I need to see the area."
Charlie had convinced Don to drive them out here.
Just to look.
Just to observe.
And from the looks of things, they were about to go more than a few steps beyond simple observation.
Don met his eyes in the mirror.
"David, what've you got?"
"Nothing, I can't see anything from this side."
Don barked at the other occupant of the vehicle.
"What do you see?"
Agent Colby Granger turned his eyes to the side view mirror.
"Single male boss. Moving slow. Appears to be alone. Coming up the passenger side."
Don cursed under his breath. Charlie was on the passenger side. He grabbed Charlie by the shirt collar and started pulling him across the floor to the other side of the SUV.
"Wait a minute."
Colby put his hand up to his right ear listening.
Agent Megan Reeves' unmistakable voice came through his earpiece.
Don released Charlie from his grip when Agent Reeves opened the door and looked in at the occupants.
"We're clear Don. It was just a homeless guy. Looks like we moved his current accommodations."
She nodded at the collapsing box that had been shoved up against the side of the building when they had parked the SUV. She couldn't help but smile at the collective sigh of relief from the three agents inside the vehicle.
She glanced at Charlie. He looked a little paler than usual and was still crouched in the floor of the SUV with Don's kevlar vest covering most of his head and shoulders but he had recovered his notebook and was now furiously scribbling numbers and equations and things that she couldn't hope to interpret or clearly understand.
"Have you seen enough now?" Don was ready to get out of here.
To get Charlie out of here.
The young mathematician sat up slowly, still writing.
"Yeah, I got what I needed. And you've got your answer."
Charlie tossed his notebook into Don's lap.
Don studied the scribbles that he had come to associate with Charlie's handwriting. Any hope of interpretation was lost.
"Charlie, what the hell does this mean?"
Don looked over at his brother's eager face.
"It's a simple probability algorithm. And if you combine a Bayesian approach to the….."
Don cut him off.
"OK, Charlie. But what does it tell us?"
"Well, if my calculations are correct, and they are, then this is definitely the place. The filter narrowed us down to this and one other location…but this is the most likely starting point and by adding these new variables and running it through again, I think I can tell you the exact date of the next shipment. I just need a few more minutes."
"New variables? Charlie…."
Don glanced at Megan, Colby and David in turn. They were watching the area around them with eagle eyes, only glancing at Charlie as he spoke. After the homeless guy thing, Don was feeling very apprehensive about keeping Charlie out here for much longer and apparently so were they.
Charlie didn't belong in the field. There was just to much risk. Why had he brought him out here……he couldn't even remember what he'd been thinking. He almost lost him once because Charlie needed to see the location. He stood out there in the crosshairs and barely missed taking a bullet. The whole scene played itself through his mind as it had hundreds of times before. He could see Charlie standing there, a perfect target. If David had been two seconds slower……….
"Don – are you listening to me?"
Charlie's agitated tone brought him back to the present.
"It's logically justifiable to assume these finding are correct. It's a subjectivistic approach, but I think the figures speak for themselves. Don?"
Don shook his head to clear it.
"So you're saying this is the place?"
"The number of routes to the street, proximity to bus stops, rails and airports…...all those factors bring us back to here. It's the central hub in this pattern Don and once you add these other variables………..this is your distribution center."
Charlie leaned back in his seat and smiled at his brother's puzzled expression.
"You said you can guess exact dates for delivery?"
Despite his apprehension of remaining in their current location, Don couldn't help but reiterate Charlie's statement. The brass was unhappy and he was feeling the pressure from it.
In the past month over one hundred of L.A.'s young people had overdosed on a powerful new form of GHB called Blue Nitro. The DEA had come up empty handed and the FBI could not get a conventional solid lead on where district dealers were getting their hands on it. But the new street drug was beyond potent and they had to figure out where this stuff was coming from and how it was being distributed so quickly and efficiently. And they had to find out fast. That was the reason he drove Charlie out here. He was willing to try any approach in hopes of getting even a decent guess as to where this stuff was being delivered. He hadn't hoped to figure out when the delivery might take place and he certainly didn't expect the next thing that came out of Charlie's mouth.
"Not a guess, Don. It's a precise calculated estimate. But, um…..Don? It's today."
Charlie's volume increased when he realized the implications of his newest results.
"The pattern indicates an eighty-nine percent probability that they would use this date for their next delivery."
Megan stuck her head in the open door of the SUV. "Hey Don? I think he's right."
Don rose from his seat and followed Megan's line of sight. The alley emptied into a small parking lot, where a system of warehouses lined the back street. He could see several cars moving into the lot and a small group of people were entering the warehouse via a loading dock in the back of the center building.
"Don. They're moving it right now."
"Call for back-up. We have to move….now."
Don started barking orders to his team and hurried around to back of the SUV.
Charlie got to his feet and looked past his brother toward the warehouse. The numbers started flying through Charlie's head.
Four Agents. Over a dozen men could be seen around the loading dock behind the warehouse. Surely there were more already in the building. Assuming they were all armed, the agents were outnumbered by at least ten people. Fourteen guns against four. Statistically their chances weren't good and the odds weren't going to get any better if they didn't wait for back-up.
Charlie followed Don around the SUV and stood next to the now open trunk. Megan heard him mumbling about probability, statistics and theoretical scenarios. She didn't need an equation to tell her that this was going to get messy. But they couldn't just walk away and hope to catch them later. This had to stop here. This shipment couldn't get out on the streets and all four agents knew it.
"Port Authority is the closest. They're on their way. Our assault team is ten minutes out."
Colby reached around Charlie to grab his tactical equipment bag from the back of the vehicle.
"We just have to keep them pinned."
Don looked up at his team. They had to move fast if they were going to keep this situation under control. This many dealers in one location was unheard of and the prospect of taking out the supplier was hard to believe. With some luck, this could easily be the biggest drug bust in L.A. history. Assuming Charlie's numbers were correct.
DAMN. He had almost forgotten about Charlie.
Don looked over at his younger brother. Charlie had left the rear of the truck and had followed Megan to the hood. He had turned a shade paler and was using his hands to talk. Don could hear him giving Megan an unwanted lesson in the theories of statistical analysis; spouting off facts about drug dealers, gunfights and non-violent arrests. Megan was checking the loads in her spare clips and doing her best not to provoke his obvious trepidation with what was about to go down.
Don grabbed another vest from the truck and walked over to his brother. When he slung the kevlar over his brother's head, Charlie stopped talking. He looked up at Don like he was seeing him for the first time.
"I guess you're not used to this part huh?"
Don tightened the straps of the vest around his younger brother. Charlie stood in silence staring at him. Grabbing him by the shoulders, Don led Charlie back to the open door of the SUV.
"I'm gonna need you to stay here, ok? Keep that vest on and keep those doors locked. Do not leave this truck unless it's on fire, do you understand?"
Charlie shifted his shoulders and readjusted the large kevlar vest around his slight frame.
"These things aren't very comfortable, are they?"
Don dug a stick of gum from his pocket and grinned at his brother. "Comfort isn't exactly the idea, Charlie."
He didn't miss the shadow of concern that passed across his younger sibling's face.
"This is my job, Buddy. I've got to go do my job."
"Yeah, I know."
Charlie sat down in the SUV and Don reached across his middle and fastened the seat belt across Charlie's lap.
"Stay put then."
"Right. Not moving."
He shut the door on his little brother and walked over to his team.
"Let's go do this."