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BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
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Now the third Russian
remained, this one obviously the leader. He stepped toward Monroe.
As the two still-standing combatants met, Monroe’s mind was working
in two directions at once. His conscious attention was on the man
about to swing the bat at his head, but a fraction of his mind was
already planning ahead, analyzing the situation and the information
he had so far. That sector of his brain, as the minds of
experienced agents often do, was not thinking so much in word-based
thoughts but rather in a series of quick, intuitive flashes,
putting two and two together and then adding another two and so on
until the circumstances and the status of the chessboard were
understood. At that moment, Monroe knew what he had to do and
realized what chance he had to take: a big risk, but worthwhile if
it succeeded.

He dodged the first swing of
the last Russian’s bat, then ducked and lifted the bat dropped by
the previous opponent. He stood quickly, blocked the next shot, and
the two bats collided in midair with a loud crack, moving like
dueling swords but thundering like battering rams against big oak
doors.

The two bats crashed against
each other a dozen times and then Monroe made the move that would,
he suspected, decide if he would live to come face to face with his
true enemy or die a fast and irrevocable death right then and
there.

As the Russian’s bat came
swinging at his head, he let his own bat fall just to the left of
where it should have been to block, turned his head just slightly
to the side to keep his face from meeting wood, and let the Russian
deal a blow to his skull. Monroe felt the impact and it hurt,
stinging and vibrating, but it had not been enough to knock him
out, and that was what he had been counting on. He let himself fall
to the floor, let his body hit with a dull thud and did not move
once he was down. He knew, from past experiences in treacherous
situations, how to feign unconsciousness, knew how to let his body
go convincingly limp, knew how to be still, and knew how to make it
look very, very real.


Good night, Richard!” the
voice of Garrett Khan rang out from the speakers. “Anton, take Mr.
Monroe for his bath!”

And with those words from
Khan, Monroe knew he had made the right choice in gambling with the
blow to the head. Garrett Khan could have killed him a dozen times
since he had arrived at Fenway. He could have had Monroe ambushed
at one of many turns in the halls or shot him dead while he watched
Winter pelted with baseballs. But Khan had not killed him quickly
or definitively and that meant one thing, one very important thing:
Khan was enjoying the game. So Monroe was down and apparently out
cold; now Khan would play some more, continue his twisted fun.
Monroe hoped to use that ongoing game to find a way to turn the
whole damn table upside down and let it land on Garrett Khan’s
swollen head.

The big Russian, Anton,
knelt down next to Monroe. Monroe heard the sound of rope, felt his
wrists being grabbed by large, rough hands, knew he was about to be
tied up. Judging by Anton’s looks and manner of fighting, Monroe
judged him to be a soldier of low rank, a minion of smarter, better
trained men. Anton was not a man well-versed in the tricks of the
spy trade and so he was, Monroe thought and hoped, unlikely to
notice what his captive was about to do.

As Anton wrapped the length
of rope around his wrists, which were behind his back now, Monroe
turned his wrists just enough so that the bonds were not quite as
tight as they could have been; the movement as the tying is
completed leaves just enough slack to give the captive a chance to
work his hands free. Anton had no idea. When the work with the rope
was done, Anton lifted Monroe as easily as a man heaves a sack of
laundry over his shoulder. Monroe, his head hanging down against
Anton’s back, opened one eye and watched the floor pass below him.
Behind them, he could see the two fallen Russians, and he could see
Winter Willows, bloodied, naked, her head on his jacket, but still
breathing. Anton carried Monroe through a door and they were out of
the batting cage room.

Monroe took a big chance as
they entered the next room. He twisted his head slightly and peered
through the crook of Anton’s arm, hoping the movement would not
attract the notice of either the big Russian or the watching
Garrett Khan. Monroe could see ahead of them, upside down but
clearly enough. The room they had arrived in contained a swimming
pool sunk into the floor. From what he could see, Monroe estimated
it to be about ten by thirty with a depth of eight to ten feet. He
knew what Khan had meant about Anton giving him a bath.

They reached the edge of the
pool and Anton bent down and forward, grunted, gave a mighty heave,
and sent Richard Monroe over his head and into the water with a
loud splash. Monroe hit the cold wetness and stayed in character,
letting his limp body sink to the bottom, holding his breath to
preserve the little air he had managed to pull in as he was
thrown.

 

Chapter 18: The
Umpire Strikes Back

 

 

Monroe knew he had to make
it convincing. The water was cold and he used that to his
advantage, letting the natural shudder surge through him, shaking
his body at the bottom of the pool, making it appear that the chill
was snapping him back to consciousness. He thrashed and twisted
under the water, knowing that Anton was watching from above. He
could feel the ropes around his wrists loosening, partly because of
the way he had maneuvered his hands when being tied up and partly
due to the buoyancy of the water. He could slip his hands free at
will now but kept them behind his back, waiting for the right
moment. With his legs, he pushed down against the bottom of the
pool, forcing himself upward. He broke the surface, gasped for air,
treaded water and watched Anton step forward.

The muscular Russian looked
down at the struggling Monroe then turned and reached to his side.
Monroe watched as he grabbed a six-foot-long metal pole with a
brush at the end, a tool for cleaning the pool. The brush end came
down hard, swatting at Monroe’s head. Monroe dodged once but knew
he would be unable to avoid the next strike, his movements slowed
by being immersed and trying to stay afloat. When the pole came
down again, Monroe chose that moment to slip his hands out of the
rope loops and reveal his freedom. He lifted his hands out of the
water, over his head, and grabbed the pole, just above the brush,
as it came down. He gave a strong yank and Anton, surprised by the
resistance and thrown off balance, came splashing down into the
pool with his prisoner. Monroe wasted no time. As soon as Anton’s
head bobbed above the waterline, Monroe’s fist connected with the
stubbly jaw. Once, twice, three times he struck Anton’s face. Not
pulling his punches at all and knowledgeable on the subject of how
and where to hit a man for maximum effect, Monroe had the larger
man stunned and unable to stay afloat after that trio of
blows.

Monroe swam over to the edge
of the pool, pulled himself out of the water, shook himself off,
and began to walk away, leaving Anton to drown if he did not regain
his senses fast.

Monroe knew Garrett Khan was
watching, but the Mongolian had yet to speak again, perhaps shocked
by Monroe’s escape from the water. Monroe ran for the door on the
opposite end of the room from where he had entered. Better, he
thought, to keep going forward and see if anything he could use lay
up ahead. Going back would do no good. He had to find his way to
Garrett Khan and finish the game. It was, he knew, getting late
early, as Yogi Berra had once famously said.

Through the door and into
another hallway Monroe ran, still dripping and slowed by the weight
of wet clothing. He passed several doors on either side; plain
wooden doors with nameplates that he assumed were offices. He
finally went around a curve in the corridor and came across a metal
door with a lightning bolt painted halfway up. He stopped. The sign
of electricity, he understood, might mean that he had hit a major
jackpot.

He tried the door and it
opened. He slipped inside, fumbled for a light switch and found
one. For the first time since arriving at Fenway Park, Monroe
smiled. He had found the electrical room. He scanned the walls,
looking up and down the many rows of circuit breakers and switches
and controls. On one wall was a map, a diagram of the major rooms
and staircases and halls of the interior of the ballpark. He went
closer, examined the schematic. He knew where he was for the room
was denoted by the same bolt that adorned the door.

Now where would Garrett Khan
be, he asked himself. Khan had been watching the whole game so he
had to be where the cameras connected to monitors. Monroe found it.
Security control room, one level above the electrical room and down
a hall that curved to the left. Also, Monroe saw, halfway between
his present point and where he suspected Khan was, a storage room
sat. The map did not say what was stored there, but Monroe would
make a stop, hoping to find something to use as a
weapon.

Now he turned his attention
back to the circuit breakers. They were quite neatly labeled. He
checked row after row and finally found the right set of switches.
“Security Cams,” the label said.

Monroe flipped the whole row
and waited for the result.


Oh bloody Hell!” shouted
the voice of Garrett Khan over the speaker system, and Monroe knew
he had just blinded his enemy.

Monroe turned and ran out of
that room. He had no idea how many more men Khan had brought with
him and he could not be sure that those cameras would not somehow
be reactivated. He had to make the most of the time he had bought
himself.

The storage room he had seen
on the map was a twenty second run from the electrical room. Monroe
made it there, trying to ignore the taunting cries of “Richard,
where are you?” that came from Garrett Khan. Into the room he went,
finding long rows of clothing racks upon which hung Red Sox
uniforms, shelves that held cleats, and boxes of various other
things necessary to keep a baseball team in operation.

Monroe stood in the center
of the room and emptied his pockets, taking stock of what he had
left in his possession. He took out his flashlight, tried to switch
it on. No light, the pool had killed it. His cell phone was another
casualty, water-damaged beyond any chance of resurrection. He
tossed the phone and light aside. He stripped, quickly and
completely, leaving his black clothes in a wet heap on the floor,
only his underwear staying on. He grabbed new clothes from the
racks, reaching for whatever looked like it was close to his size,
pulling on the pants, jersey, and finally shoes of a ballplayer. He
thought he probably looked ridiculous, like an old pro returning
for an Old-Timer’s Day celebration, but he did not care; dry
clothes were better than wet and that was all that
mattered.

Dressed and dry, Monroe
needed more, something to use for defense and offense. He looked
around and his eyes caught sight of something in the corner of the
room. He went there and started grabbing his new suit of armor.
Within minutes, he had strapped on the garb of an umpire: chest
protector, heavy plates to protect the legs from bats and balls,
and the mask that came down like a sinister black cage to cover the
face. The protective equipment was heavy but felt good, like the
close-fitting pads of a samurai.

Feeling sturdy in the armor,
Monroe then emptied one of the clothing racks and ripped away the
wooden pole that stretched across the top of the rack to hold up
hangers. It was not a bat, but it would do for some offensive
ability.

Dressed and armed, Monroe
left the storage room and headed back out into the hallway for the
next round of his quest. He walked down the hall, passed a handful
of other closed doors, ignoring them. He knew his destination: the
security room on the floor above. He reached the stairs and started
up. As he rose on the steps, he listened, heard nothing nearby. The
voice of Khan had gone quiet and he hoped the silence indicated
that Khan had gone into a panic now that he was oblivious to the
location of his prey.

Monroe was now at the top of
the stairs. He went through the door and into the next corridor. As
he went, a figure came into view up ahead. He saw the khaki shirt
of a United States Naval officer. He recognized the man from photos
shown to him aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.


Dr. Swift,” Monroe called
out. The traitor stared at him. Swift was a tall man of about
forty. He looked disheveled, far from the crisp cleanliness one
imagines when thinking of military officers. His hair was a mess
and his clothes wrinkled, the look of a man who had been on the run
and traveling fast.


Don’t come any closer!”
Swift shouted. His eyes were wide at the vision of armor and staff
that approached. He pulled a gun and raised it.

Monroe thought it was over.
The umpire gear might offer decent protection against fists or
batons or even a bat, but a bullet would cut through it like a
meteor through atmosphere.

Swift fired. Monroe
instinctively twisted his body, though that would do no good. A
cracking noise followed the gunshot.

Monroe was surprised to feel
no pain. Then he understood. The most unlikely thing in the world
had happened. Swift had missed. He had been nervous, his hand
jerked, and the shot went wide.

BOOK: Nobody Dies For Free
9.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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