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BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
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Chapter 17: Take
Me Out of the Ballgame

 

 

Monroe sped home, raced up
to his apartment, taking the stairs rather than waiting for the
elevator, and changed clothes as quickly as he could. Clad all in
black, he grabbed the items he anticipated needing: extra rounds
for the Glock, a small pocket flashlight, and a large knife
suitable for hunting the most dangerous prey of all.

He hurried back to the
Lexus, roared out of the garage, and headed for Fenway. No need to
check directions; one could not live in Boston for any period of
time and not know where that coliseum of America’s pastime
stood.

It was dark and cold as
Monroe arrived in the neighborhood known as Fenway-Kenmore. It was
a tight, crowded area, with the ballpark sitting right in the
center of town, the giant stadium dwarfing nearby businesses and
apartment buildings. Monroe liked the fact that Fenway was
surrounded by so much; it would work to his advantage. There were
several cars rolling along Yawkey Way, the street where the park’s
front entrance faces. Being the off-season, the park was not in
everyday use. Events were occasionally held there in winter, but
not on this night. The massive lights above the field were off, not
that Monroe expected them to be on, for he had already assumed that
wherever Garrett Khan had taken Winter Willows was deep inside the
halls and corridors and basement sections of the
stadium.

Monroe parked up a small
side street a two minute jog from the front entrance. He shut and
locked the Lexus. The perimeter of the park was vast and there were
exits and entrances all around; Monroe had no intention of trying
that main entrance.

As he moved around to the
side of the building, looking for an easy way in, Monroe tried to
put himself inside the mind of Garrett Khan, estimating what a
criminal mastermind might do to take control of a place like Fenway
Park. Obviously, Monroe knew, the place had security even when
closed. Khan would have to somehow replace those men with his own
minions. Monroe smiled at that realization; no need to pull punches
if he encountered what looked like uniformed security.

After five minutes of
sneaking around the high walls of Fenway, Monroe spotted a
promising possibility. A small ramp dove down at one point, the
pavement snaking behind a small brick wall that jutted out a bit
further than the rest of that side of the stadium. He glanced
around, saw nobody, and hurried down the ramp. Behind that small
brick blockade was a door, metal and locked, but not so thick as to
be impenetrable. At least one of the hinges was rusty, which might
make things easier. Taking that door down would make a bit of
noise, but Monroe was already expected, so he doubted it would make
much difference. The bad part was that Khan knew he was coming, but
the good was that there were so many possible ways in that they
could not all be under guard. Monroe leaned against the inner side
of that brick wall, arms braced against the hard stone, and lifted
his body up, kicking out with his legs as hard as he could,
slamming the soles of his boots into the metal door with a
resounding clang. The shock of impact traveled up Monroe’s legs and
into his back, shaking him. He grunted once, took in a deep breath
to steady him and reinforce his will, and tried it again. Another
clang, but he felt a bit of give this time and saw some flakes of
rust fall from the hinges.


One more,” Monroe whispered
as he repeated the action. The door went this time, hinges bursting
loose, metal creaking and cracking, and the whole metal slab
falling back and hitting the floor with a loud reverberation.
Monroe stepped over the door and into Fenway Park, hoping none of
the neighbors were dialing the police after hearing such a
sound.

Monroe cursed himself as he
entered the dark hallways of Fenway. He should have prepared more
before coming here, should have had Mr. Nine see about pulling a
blueprint from the ballpark’s computer system or something, or
should have had at least some idea of the layout of the place. But
he had done nothing like that and he had no idea how to even begin
trying to find Winter, Khan, or anybody else. He was Theseus in the
labyrinth and had no idea where the Minotaur waited.


Oh Richard, where are
you?”

Monroe stopped, frozen in
place. The voice was coming from all sides at once, up and down,
left and right: public address system. The voice was Garrett
Khan’s. Monroe knew it immediately, the same smug tone from the
interrogation tapes aboard the carrier Lincoln. Now that grating
voice called Monroe’s name in a sing-song whine far worse than the
nails-on-chalkboard analogy.

The lights flashed on,
illuminating the corridors, dispelling the shadows with one swift
slash. Monroe could now see perfectly well, had no need for his
little flashlight. But he knew that Khan could probably see him,
too. Probably watching him by means of the security
cameras.


That’s it, Richard. Keep
going that way,” Khan’s voice, tinny through the overhead speakers,
said as Monroe continued down the corridor. “Wait till you see what
fun I have for you up ahead!”


Shut up, you bastard,”
Monroe muttered under his breath. He knew he was walking into a big
fat trap, but saw few other options. He had no idea what was being
done to Winter, but he had to work under the assumption that the
longer it took him to find her, the worse her situation might
become. He kept walking, letting Garrett Khan cue him
forward.


Stop, wait there for a
second.”

Monroe paused, looked up at
the camera above him.


I think you have a gun,”
Khan continued. “There’s no shooting in baseball! You can’t keep
the gun, Richard. Sorry, but I want you to walk a little further
and you’ll find a rubbish bin around the next bend. Drop your gun
in the trash and continue on please.”


Damn,” Monroe muttered, but
he kept going, around the bend, drew the Glock from the holster as
he walked, let it slip from his hand into the garbage can, and
continued on his journey as the weight of the gun caused the papers
in the bottom of the barrel to shift and settle.


Very good, we’re almost at
our first stop. The real fun is about to begin!”

A minute’s walk later,
Monroe found a double door on his right.


Stop right there,
Richard!”

There was a click, a whir,
the sound of automation as the doors slid open. Brighter light
flooded out into the hallway and Monroe blinked at its
brilliance.


Come on in!”

Monroe stepped forward into
the light, into the newly-revealed room. His mouth dropped open in
horror at what he saw. It was an underground batting cage. The room
was large and round and in its center was an area separated from
viewers by a steel mesh fence, high enough to almost touch the
ceiling. Inside the cage was a pitcher’s mound upon which stood a
pitching machine. A convenient means of practice for a Major League
ballplayer, but the situation here had been twisted into a
nightmarish parody of America’s pastime. There was no seasoned
slugger standing with bat ready at the plate, no Mighty Casey this
time. Instead, a pole had been erected just behind the plate and a
captive bound to the tall stake. Winter Willows, her long white
hair cascading down around her shoulders, had been roped to the
pole, hands behind her back, ankles tied as well. She was naked
from head to feet, and her face was a clear and sincere picture of
absolute fear.

Monroe rushed forward, hit
the mesh fence, fingers grasping the wire and shaking furiously,
trying to rip the steel and gain entrance to the cage. The struggle
was futile.


Richard!” Winter
screamed.


Damn it,” Monroe called
out, “I’m coming!”


Batter up!” the overhead
voice of Garrett Khan rang out, taunting and sneering. “Oh,
wait…she’s already up! In that case, let’s play ball!”

Monroe’s fingers tightened,
the cage rattled harder, faster, but the mesh was strong and his
efforts fruitless. The pitching machine started to hum. The monster
was coming to life and the would-be savior was locked
outside.

Winter screamed again and
the robot threw a strike. Monroe watched in horror as the small
white sphere shot through the air and struck, slamming into
Winter’s bare left shoulder. Winter closed her eyes and winced as
the ball hit, tears flooding into her eyes at the pain. The ball
fell to the floor at her feet. Monroe watched as the shoulder
turned an alarming shade of red where a dark bruise would surely
develop in little time.

Monroe shook the cage again,
his eyes staring hard at the ceiling as if looking for God while
simultaneously crying out for the woman’s torment to
stop.


Khan, you animal! Leave her
alone!”


But Richard,” the voice
that was not God’s called back, “the fun is only
beginning…”

And the next pitch came. It
flew and it hit. Winter’s nose exploded in a gush of blood, rivers
of dark red spurting out like a bursting cloud and running down her
face, into her mouth, curving down along her neck and staining her
breasts.


Two strikes!” Garrett Khan
said from his unseen hiding place. “Can we make an out that
easily?”

The machine purred, the
leather-bound bullet was ejaculated, and the point of impact was
Winter’s ribs. The ball hit with a sick cracking noise. All the air
left Winter’s lungs in one agonized wheeze. Her head rolled forward
and her eyes closed, chin resting in the center of her breastbone,
blood from the shattered nose still trickling along its crimson
course.


You bastard,” Monroe said,
his voice rasping and growing hoarse, “if you’ve killed
her…”


And she’s…out!” Khan
shouted.

Monroe shook at the cage
again and this time it did budge. In fact, the side upon which he
pushed and pulled suddenly fell in, opening a door for him to step
through, as if some remote mechanism had unlocked it. Monroe rushed
in, went straight to Winter, and checked her pulse. She lived. He
pulled his knife out, quickly slashing the ropes that bound her
hands behind her. Released, she fell forward as Monroe caught her.
Holding her up, he knelt down, slit the ties around her ankles and
stood up again. From Winter’s throat, Monroe could hear a low
gurgle, a choking. He reached around her, slapped her hard on the
back. Her mouth opened and blood poured out, but he had cleared her
airway and she began to breathe on her own again. She was barely
conscious, moaning, trembling. Monroe moved her off to the side of
home plate and let her body sag to the floor. He took off his
jacket, folded it into a pillow, and placed it under her head to
keep her from choking on blood again.


I’ll be back for you,
Winter,” he whispered, “I promise.” And he kissed her gently on the
forehead.

Laughter came from behind.
Multiple voices raised in filthy chuckles. Monroe stood and
whirled, the hunting knife still in hand. His eyes met three faces,
faces that fronted heads that sat atop large bodies. Monroe knew
who they were though he had never seen any of them before: thugs,
beaters, brawlers. These were the sort of men who lived to break
bones and separate teeth from jaws, the kind hired by men like
Garrett Khan when they did not want to get their own hands dirty
with the blood of their enemies. They stared hard at Monroe, almost
salivating like pit bulls, clearly men who thrived on violence.
They all had Louisville Sluggers in their hands.


Well hurry up then,” Monroe
snapped, too high on rage and adrenaline to feel fear. “Don’t make
me wait.”

The middle thug in
Murderer’s Row barked something in Russian, commanding the men on
either side of him to advance on Monroe’s position. Monroe could
tell by the approach that the men he faced were brutes and not
finesse-fighters, tough but clumsy men who lacked the training of
experienced field agents. That, Monroe, decided, would work to his
advantage.

They both came at once, the
two bats thrust forward and down to strike Monroe in the front of
the body. Monroe thrust his feet out in front of him, let gravity
take him down, and landed well below the overhead swish of the two
bats, using the heels of his hands to cushion his impact with the
floor. Outnumbered three to one with two of them right on top of
his position, Monroe knew he had to lessen the odds against him as
fast as possible. His right hand, wielding the knife, swept out and
he cut the goon on that side in the calf. The blade was sharp,
sliced deep, going through pants and thick flesh and muscle. Blood
immediately soaked the pants. The big Russian crumbled to the floor
next to Monroe. There was no hesitation or any idea of mercy with
the next move. Monroe thrust the knife again, plunging it between
the fallen man’s ribs, extinguishing the flame of life.

As the first thug died,
Monroe heard the second man’s bat coming down at his head. He
rolled, dodging the blow but forced to relinquish the knife in the
process, unable to pull it from the dead man’s ribs and move clear
of the descending bat at the same time.

He scrambled to his feet,
stood and blocked the next bat-blow with his hands, managing to
wrap his fingers around the barrel of the bat and push it back into
the face of the attacker. The wide Russian nose crunched flat and
bled as Winter’s had when the ball had struck her. Monroe then
brought up his knee, connected to the batter’s groin, and stepped
aside as the body hit the floor. A quick sideways kick to the man’s
temple ensured that he would not get up anytime soon, assuming he
lived after such a blow to the head with the hard toe of Monroe’s
boot.

BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
7.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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