Unlike Murder at the Front Door, Danger Zone is a work of fiction loosely based on the three years I was assigned to the NH Drug Task Force and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The first 3 chapters occurred almost as depicted and the rest of the book contains significant artistic license. In the last chapter, there really was an operation Snowcap and I was in fact scheduled to go down. However, the trip was cancelled as a result of the base camp coming under attack by Drug Lords. I hope you enjoy reading the book, since I enjoyed writing it.
Authors note: Operation Snowcap was initiated during the Reagan era and included DEA agents who underwent special training, Army Green Berets and the Umopar, the Bolivian National Police. These men went into the jungle in Bolivia, established a base camp and went on search & destroy missions for cocaine labs. Despite its success, it was ended by President Clinton in 1993.
Prologue Renegades, Rebels & Rogues
Curt Scott couldn't wait to get home. It was his last Friday night in the states. He was going in the service next week and his girl had promised him an extra special night that he wouldn't forget. He was looking forward to fighting the Germans. He knew he'd be coming home a war hero and with enough battlefield promotions to be a major. His parents were upset that he had enlisted when he didn't have to, but he had always rebelled against their authority. All he had left to do was a magna flux test on this last cylinder. He checked his watch again. The magna flux test would take a good hour and one-half. He had already put in two hours overtime, and this test would make him late for his date. Scott thought about it. He had tested forty-eight cylinders today and they were all perfect. This cylinder was from the same lot and it had to be just as good. Ordinarily, he would have stayed, but tonight was special. Instead of running the test, he ran his hand over the interior and made a visual scan. Smooth as a baby's ass he thought, nothing wrong with this one. Scott signed it off, said good-bye to his co-workers and was off without a second thought. What Scott didn't know, was this cylinder was flawed. The microscopic crack was in the casting and not only would it have been impossible to detect by any human eye, it would have been extremely difficult to have been picked up by the magna flux test. In fact the crack was so minute, that it wouldn't manifest itself for many years to come, and only after the cylinder had been reamed a number of times, but it was there, and it would eventually make its presence felt.
Three Years Ago
The DC-3, or Dakota as the English called it, first made its appearance in 1935 and even now many pilots felt it was the best all-around plane ever built. The plane was originally built as the Douglas Sleeper Transport, DST, for American Airlines, and was an enlarged version of the DC-2. After entering service in 1936, it soon proved itself, and orders for the plane increased. Every airline wanted the DC-3/DST. It's two twelve-hundred horsepower radial engines propelled the craft through the air at one-hundred-ninety MPH and had a useful load of five-thousand pounds. It had large wide wings, which gave it excellent short field performance, and since the fuel tanks were in the wings, they were also oversized which gave the plane a range of over one-thousand miles. It was a tail dragger which gave the props more ground clearance and better control, which in turn allowed it to land on rough fields. As a result, the military realized the potential of the plane, and ordered large quantities. As a transport, it had the designation, C-47. C-47's made such an impact during the war, that General Eisenhower considered them to be one of the four most significant weapons during WW II. All in all, more than 10,000 of the civilian and military variants were produced. The same qualities that made it the premier cargo plane of the forties made it the premier drug smuggling plane of the day, and no one knew this better than Tim Campbell. He had Knight Moves written below the pilot’s window and this was his third run in what he now considered his DC-3, and it was going to be his last. He was now a multi-millionaire, and he was going to retire. Hell, he was even thinking of starting a charter service with his new DC-3 and going straight, but first he would have to get rid of his special modifications. Campbell had installed extra gas tanks in the fuselage. He thought that he had really outdone himself on this one. The fuel tanks were waterbed mattresses filled with gasoline with an auxiliary fuel pump. It added some weight to the plane, but he was able to make the Bolivia to Texas run non-stop which more than made up for the disadvantage of the extra weight. Another advantage was that the mattresses could fit around bulkheads in the fuselage and he was able to put the cargo of cocaine on top of the "tanks". Campbell had been smuggling for three years and had an ongoing romance with lady luck. He had never been spotted by any of custom or DEA interdiction planes, and the DC-3 he was flying was a step up from the midsize twin Piper's and Beachcraft, he use to fly, which were always overloaded and underpowered. They never really performed well until about three hours into the flight when a significant amount of fuel was burned off thereby reducing the weight of the plane. Campbell was flying out of a jungle airfield in Bolivia's Llamos region, one hundred miles east of Santa Cruz. Since this was going to be his last trip, he was taking on a little more cargo than he normally would. In addition to his regular cargo of cocaine, he was running a cache of guns he was sure he could sell to any one of the local Texas militia’s in his home state. He especially liked the grenade launches he was able to procure. Those Texas rednecks would have a sexual experience over them. If his estimates were correct, the combined weight of the gas, guns and coke was over 7000 pounds. This was two thousand pounds more than the maximum useful load specified by the manual, but Campbell felt that if he lived by the book, he wouldn't be the millionaire he is now. After the last sacks of cocaine were loaded, he latched the cargo door and made his way to the cockpit to start his pre-flight run-up. As usual, he carried a more than ample quantity of water and freeze dried food behind the pilot’s seat, a carryover from his hiking days along the Colorado River. And of course, a bottle of Jack Daniels his girlfriend gave him from his favorite bar in Austin, Texas called Renegades, Rebels & Rogues. Campbell strapped himself in, turned on the master switch, and turned over the starboard engine. Ever so slowly the propeller started turning and with a puff of black smoke the large radial engine caught and its twelve-hundred horses roared into life. Campbell started the sequence on the port engine with the same results. With both engines engaged, he stepped on the brakes and pushed the throttles forward increasing the engine RPM's. He tested the two mag's on each engine and noticed with satisfaction that both operated within limitations. One of the magneto's on the right engine caused the engine to run a little rough, but after leaning out the engine and increasing the RPM's to the red line, it had finally begun to run smooth. Campbell wasn't concerned, that was normal on a lot of planes, particularly in the steam bath atmosphere of lower Bolivia. After checking the gauges, Campbell noticed the same engine was running a bit hot, but he attributed this to the run-up. After checking the controls and setting the compass and altimeter, he was ready to go. Once again he ran the engines to the stops and pass the red line. The roar filled the cockpit and assaulted Campbell’s ears. He could have worn his headset to dull the noise, but this was the part of the flight that he felt the most invigorated. Campbell viewed himself as the rogue pilot that women dreamed about. He took his feet off the brakes. Instead of leaping forward as the plane usually did, it slowly pick up speed and was three-quarter's down the runway before the tail section lifted into the air. At the runway's end, the plane was barely above stall speed when Campbell put in ten degrees of flaps, which had the effect of decreasing the stall speed and increasing lift, and hauled back on the yoke. Even with the trim set to the full up position, Campbell had to maintain a good deal of pressure to keep the nose in the air. The plane shuttered and begrudgingly began to fly with an occasional pre-stall buffet. Campbell raised the landing gear which gave him a few extra knots of airspeed. But for all this, he couldn't get the plane to climb more than two-hundred feet per minute, and this while maintaining full power, a far cry from the planes normal rate of climb of over two-thousand feet per minute. Both engines were revving past the red line, and the starboard engine was running increasingly hot. At five hundred feet above ground level, AGL, Campbell would have generally throttled back on the engines, but he was concerned about clearing the mountainous plateau ahead and kept the throttles nailed to the stops. At fifteen hundred feet AGL, the starboard engines heat gauge was in the yellow and still climbing. He throttled back on the engine and increased the pressure on the left rudder to compensate for the difference in torque produced by one engine running at less power than the other. This reduced his rate of climb to just over one hundred feet per minute, the temperature gauge of the right engine still remained in the yellow but stopped its upward climb. Campbell still wasn't worried, he figured that once he got to his planned altitude of fifteen thousand feet, he'd reduce power and the engine would operate back in the green. As Campbell continued his climb through three thousand feet above ground level with his port engine at full power, it too began to get creep into the yellow. Not wanting to chance both engines running hot, he reduced power even though he was confident the plane could take whatever he threw at it. Campbell wondered briefly why the starboard engine hadn't cooled as quickly as the port after reducing power, but at the moment, he had more pressing problems to worry about. The reduced power on the port engine had an almost immediate effect of returning the temperature gauge to the green. The rate of climb dropped to eighty feet per minute, but after doing a quick calculation at his current rate of climb, he felt that he was out of the woods, or more appropriately, the jungle. Thirty minutes into the flight, his rate of climb had increased to a comfortable five hundred feet per minute due to the decreased weight of the plane from the used gasoline, more than enough to reach the altitude needed to clear the thirteen thousand foot Andes mountains he would be flying over. At five thousand feet, Campbell once again turned his attention to the starboard engine. To his dismay, the needle had not stopped in the yellow, but had climbed ever so slowly into the red. He reduced the power even more which had the effect of reducing his rate of climb, but with no effect on the needle's inexorable climb into the red. He reduced it even further to the point that it was barely producing any thrust. Campbell finally got the desired effect of not only halting the needles climb, but reversing it back into the yellow range. The downside was that not only was his rate of climb reduced to zero, but he had all he could do to maintain his airspeed so as not to stall the plane. For the first time, Campbell realized what pilots meant by the pucker factor. He was barely able to keep his plane in the air, let alone generate the rate of climb needed to clear the mountains in front of him. He had to make a decision. Either abort the run and land at a local airfield and chance discovery by the Umopar, Bolivia's version of a cross between the drug enforcement agency and military police, or increase power and take the chance that the engine was alright and the temperature gauge was off. Campbell thought this over briefly and remembered the pilot's adage "that there are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots". He knew the prudent move was to land and eliminate all doubt about the temperature gauge, but as he increased power to the starboard engine, he told himself that he didn't get this far by being prudent. When he was learning to fly, his instructor once told him, always listen to the engines, this will tell you what the plane is doing and its condition. Campbell listened as the needle climbed well into the red and increased his rate of climb. He continued to listen for a full five minutes while his rate of climbed went to one-thousand feet per minute and the temperature gauge pegged itself all the way into the red. After ten minutes Campbell relaxed and reached the conclusion the temperature gauge was off since he knew of no engine made that could remain in the red for ten minutes without seizing or catching fire. Campbell was right in one respect, none of the engines on any of the planes he had previously flown would be able to take the punishment that the DC-3's Pratt & Whitney's could take, but Campbell had no way of knowing this. Twelve minutes after he increased to full power, one of the starboard engines pistons flew through the weakened cylinder head wall. The effect was the loss of all engine oil within thirty seconds and a condition occurred that pilots referred to as catastrophic engine failure, or in more simple terms, the engine stopped working, forever. Ordinarily, the DC-3 would have been able to hold altitude with just one engine, but with the combination of the added weight and stifling atmosphere, Campbell's rate of climb became a rate of descent. Campbell didn't get as far as he did in life by giving in to panic. He immediately assessed his situation and realized he was VSF, very seriously fucked. The only thing he had going for him was there wasn't any fire when the engine exploded or part of the wing wasn't ripped away. Campbell increased the power to the port engine and trimmed the rudder. The best he could do was hold the plane to a descent rate of five hundred feet per minute with full power. If the port engine held, he would have about twenty minutes of flying time and at his speed of ninety miles per hour at an altitude of ten thousand feet, Campbell would have to find a landing strip in thirty minutes. Campbell was approaching Santa Cruz and would have no problem landing at that airport, but since it was a provincial capital, it was sure to be manned by the police or military, and he didn't want to lose his DC-3 or his cargo, not to mention being thrown in jail. He looked at the map and turned to the Northwest. Cochabamba was about two hundred miles west of Santa Cruz. To the east and north of Cochabamba was jungle, but in this jungle there were a number of airstrips used by smugglers like himself. He had flown out of one a few years ago and remembered seeing other strips on his trek to the states. His mind was made up. He'd fly towards Cochabamba, find a strip, put the DC-3 down and then see what he could do about salvaging the plane and cargo. Campbell didn't doubt for a minute that his luck would hold. Twenty minutes later, his descent rate hadn't decreased and he hadn't found anything that remotely looked like a break in the jungle, let alone a landing strip. Five minutes later and just two thousand feet AGL (above ground level), Campbell resigned himself to faith, and started making plans in order to land the plane in the jungle. He figured he was about one-hundred miles east of Cochabamba and after ditching the plane, he would make his way to one of the outlying villages. Looking at the map, he decided he would head towards either Buena Vista or Pojo. At five hundred feet AGL, he increased engine power to the left engine and slowed his rate of descent for the jungle landing. The overburdened engine jumped into the red, but Campbell was no longer concerned with saving the engine, at present, his ass had priority. It was odd that Campbell was still thinking in terms of landing as opposed to crashing. Campbell knew that a triple canopy jungle was very dense in leaves and that many pilots would prefer to land in a triple canopy instead of water. At one hundred feet, he pulled on his shoulder strap and lowered the flaps to full while pulling the control yoke into his stomach. This had the effect of further slowing the plane while giving it a nose high attitude. Campbell had long since stopped brooding and was thinking very cooly and logically. The Dakota hit the jungle belly first and lurched forward. Campbell's luck was holding. The top canopy was nothing but leaves and slowed the plane as it descended into the second canopy. Leaves and limbs flew past the windshield and one limb impaled itself into the port wing. All this appeared in slow motion to Campbell who felt he was on the ride of his life. As the planed slewed into the final and densest layer, Campbell became aware of the screeching metal as thicker and heavier limbs pierced the plane’s fuselage as easily as a knife through tissue paper. Campbell knew that if one of those limbs came through the cockpit, it would be all she wrote. As quickly as it happened, it was over. The forward motion stopped and Campbell was aware of only a slight swaying motion of the plane. He looked around him and saw that the plane was still one hundred feet in the air and was being supported by its massive wings that were imbedded in the trees. His luck was still intact. He had come through without a scratch even though there was a massive four-foot diameter tree trunk not two yards away from the pilot’s window. Campbell smiled to himself thinking how he would recount this story at the local watering hole to his renegade friends and admiring ladies, especially Paula. He was sure it would be good for one or two dates. Campbell unbuckled his seat belt and stripped his jacket off as the sweat poured down his face from the near one hundred percent humidity and ninety degree heat. Even though he was one hundred feet in the air, he still wasn't worried. He always carried a survival kit which had more than enough rope to reach the ground and plenty of food and water to get him through the jungle and to some form of civilization. As for any jungle creatures foolish enough to cross his path, he had his Smith & Wesson nine millimeter not to mention the stash of guns he was running. Ordinarily, Tim would have noticed the impending danger, but he was on a high after once again beating the Grim Reaper at his game. What he should have noticed was how delicately balanced the plane was on its wings. He mistakenly thought that the plane was solidly embedded into the jungle canopy, but as he began to walk aft from the cockpit, his one hundred eighty pounds disturbed that balance. He didn't realize what was happening until it was much too late. The plane teetered momentarily and then fell backwards onto its rear stabilizer immediately crushing it and the attached fuselage. Campbell was thrown about the cabin like a rag doll. His shoulder dislocated as he hit a support and he came to rest on one of the pallets of cocaine. He was on the verge of blacking out from the pain in his shoulder, but he felt he had to hang on to consciousness. The plane stayed in a vertical position for five seconds until both wings snapped. Newton’s first law of motion worked against Campbell that day. As he lay on his precious load of cocaine, the pain in his shoulder was numbing. The DC-3 pitched forward and the equal and opposite reaction of the combined weight of the gasoline and cocaine pinned Campbell against the forward crash bulkhead and partially out the broken window. His last thought before the blackness engulfed him was how strange it was that he could no longer feel the pain in his shoulder, or feel anything else for that matter. Mere flesh and bone was no match for the kinetic energy of three thousand pounds of dead weight intensified by inertia. Tim Campbell's marriage to lady luck had ended in an abrupt and permanent divorce.
Chapter 1 For A Few Dollars More
Ricky Richards wiped the sweat from his forehead as he unloaded the last bale of marijuana from his van. It was ten of the best bales of pot that Mexico could produce. Ricky had been dealing with the same people for eight years and both the products and profits kept getting better and better. With only some of the profits, he had bought a fifty-acre farm in a small southeastern New Hampshire town. The location was perfect. In order to get to the house, one had to travel ½ mile down a dead end road and then travel another five hundred feet up a meandering driveway. In addition to a fifteen room farmhouse, he had a four thousand square foot barn that he used to store his product and experiment in growing his own special brand of marijuana. The money was staggering. Ten bales weighed about five hundred pounds which he could turn around in a month. At an average of three hundred dollars a pound profit, he made nearly two million dollars per year. With all the money that Ricky was making, his biggest problem was where to keep it and how to hide it from the IRS. A friend of his had come up with the idea of opening a restaurant to launder his money. This was not only a convenient way to wash his money, but it also gave his wife something to do with her spare time since kids were never in Ricky’s equation. She had been on her “when are you going to get out of the business” kicks, and by having her manage the restaurant, it had taken a lot of heat off of Ricky. Ricky had thought about retiring, but the money and the excitement were just too good to pass up. He wasn’t a big person and was never very physical. But what Ricky didn’t have in physical stature, he more than made up for in brains. His wife had always worried about him being in a violent business, but he was very careful. Ricky had always dealt with the same people. Not only the people he bought from, but the people who were his clients too. All of his people knew that if they were ever arrested, Ricky would beat them back to the station and have their bail money and lawyers ready even before they were booked. His people would never “rat” on him and he was one of the few people in the business who could claim that he had never been ripped off. At this point in his life, Ricky felt invincible. The town that he lived in had a population of three thousand and a police force consisting of six part time officers and a full time police chief. They were tasked with forty square miles to patrol. The dumb ass cops were the least of Ricky’s worries. He smiled inwardly to himself. Things were going very well for Ricky Richards.
Chief Nolan sat back in his chair and gazed out his office window. He was completely frustrated. He didn’t have the manpower to do half the things that he wanted to do; especially conduct a full-scale drug operation that demanded around the clock surveillance. He knew that Ricky Richards was a major dealer. He fit the profile to a tee and his restaurant/lounge was such an obvious front, a blind man could see through it. If only he had half the resources he had when he was a detective sergeant in charge of narcotics in New York City. After his retirement from NYPD, Nolan figured the Chief’s job in a small New Hampshire town would be a cakewalk without the stress or pressure he went through in the big apple. However Nolan was learning very quickly that rural New Hampshire was becoming a haven for upper level and major drug dealers in the northeast. The area was perfect. It was close enough to major urban areas so as not to be inconvenient, but also offered the privacy and seclusion desired by drug dealers. In addition, dealers were becoming increasingly aware that with so many small towns, and even smaller police departments, it would be difficult if not impossible for the police to conduct a well-coordinated drug investigation. Things were not going very well for the chief. He continued to stare out of his office window. The white church steeple in the town square was the typical picture you would associate with a homespun New England community. It was a cold, gray day in December and the weatherman was predicting snow. It looked like it would be a white Christmas after all, something that wasn’t all that common in Manhattan. Nolan hated the thought of being defeated. After a few more minutes of deliberation, he reached for the phone and dialed a number in the state’s capitol of Concord that was recently given to him.
The twin engine Piper Aztec F knifed through the air at 200 MPH. The Aztec was one of the workhorses of the Piper line. It was a six-passenger plane that could carry payloads of over 1200 pounds. With wing tip tanks, its range could exceed 1600 miles. Its fuselage sat high off the ground which gave it sufficient clearance to operate safely out of rough cut grass airstrips. To many of its pilots, it was affectionately known as the Az-truck. Reputed drug dealer and pilot John MacCloud, the name that he was going by this month, and Mac to his friends, sat at the controls of the twin engine Piper listening to the Automatic Terminal Information Service, ATIS, for the Manchester, New Hampshire airport. He listened to the recording one more time, making sure he had all the information prior to contacting approach control. “Manchester Airport, information Hotel, 2015 Zulu. Visibility forty miles, ceiling eight thousand, scattered, fourteen thousand broken, altimeter, three-zero-zero-one, landing and departing runway three-five. Advise the controller on initial contact you have information hotel”. MacCloud changed the frequency to approach control of 124.9 and spoke into his headset. “Manchester Approach, this is Aztec five-four-four-papa-x-ray. We’re ten miles to the south at three thousand feet with information hotel, inbound for landing.” Aztec five-four-four-papa-x-ray, this is Manchester Approach, squawk zero-two-five-one and ident.” MacCloud leaned over and turned the dials of the Aztec’s transponder to the appropriate numbers so as to give the Piper its unique radar blip to the air traffic controllers. After a moments delay, MacCloud once again heard the disembodied voice of the controller. “Aztec five-four-four-papa-x-ray, radar contact established, nine miles to the southeast, report a two mile right base, runway three-five.” “OK Ray, let’s go through the pre-landing checklist.” Ray Marino, MacCloud’s partner and friend of one year, sat in the co-pilots seat of the Aztec. Ray and John were a contrast in style and appearance. Where Ray was five-eight and looked like two hundred pounds of bad news, bone and muscle, MacCloud was six feet, 180 pounds and looked as if he would be at home attending a celebrity ball. Ray had Latin features typical of his Mediterranean background. MacCloud was a little lighter skinned with dark hair and mustached, but he had some distinctively Latin features despite his Scottish surname. MacCloud loved flying. Ray couldn’t care if he ever saw a plane again. “The pre-landing checklist,” Ray parroted. “Thank God. That means we’re landing soon.” “Come on Ray,” John answered. “We’ve been doing this for a year now and you have about 200 hours of flying time. This is great. Aren’t you use to this yet?” “Not no Mac, but fuck no. Like the man said, if we were meant to fly we’d have wings. I don’t know why I do this shit?” “Yes you do,” Mac answered. Both partners looked at each other and laughed. MacCloud eased the throttle back on the Aztec and began the task of slowing the plane and getting it into landing configuration. As the Aztec slowed to below one hundred forty five MPH, MacCloud pushed the landing gear into the down position. After about five seconds he heard the gear snap down. MacCloud checked the gear position lights that were in the center of the Aztec’s console. The three green lights indicated that the gear was in fact down and locked into place. This was always comforting MacCloud thought, particularly prior to a landing. The additional drag of the gear helped slow the plane down even more. As the Aztec slowed to one hundred twenty MPH, MacCloud added ten degrees of flaps and started a slow descent to Manchester Airport’s pattern altitude of fourteen hundred feet. “Manchester Approach, Aztec five-four-four-papa-x-ray, reporting two mile right base, runway three five.” “Roger five-four-four-papa-x-ray. Number one cleared to land, contact tower upon turning final. You have a Cessna 150 in a right closed traffic doing touch and goes. MacCloud silently went over the acronym GUMPS for the landing checklist: Gas on fullest tank, Undercarriage, down and locked, Mixture, full rich, Pumps, auxiliary fuel pumps on and Seatbelts fastened. As MacCloud turned the Aztec onto final approach to runway three-five, he changed to the tower frequency. “Don’t worry Ray, I’ll take care of the radio. Wouldn’t want you to overwork yourself,” John said while laughing. Ray was in his usual land position. Eyes screwed shut and hands griping the arms of the seat as if the wings remaining attached to the plane depended on it. “Manchester tower, Aztec five-four-four-papa-x-ray is with you, turning base to final.” “Aztec five-four-four-papa-x-ray, cleared to land,” answered the controller. “Roger tower. OK Ray, ready to land?” “No,” Ray answered, “but go ahead anyway.” As MacCloud was on short final he went to full flaps and heard the tower talking to the other plane in the pattern. “Cessna six-three-three-eight-seven, Aztec on quarter mile final, clear touch and go.” MacCloud briefly remembered his days as a student pilot and the endless practice landings and takeoffs, referred to as touch and goes. He was glad those days were over. Most of the time the touch and goes ended up being bounces and jounces. Everyone had to learn sometime. As the Aztec crossed the runway threshold, MacCloud cut the engines, flared the plane and touched with barely a jolt. “Damn I’m good,” MacCloud said with a grin. “Give me a break, but just keep getting me down in one piece and you’ll be my hero forever.” “Aztec five-four-four-papa-x-ray, next left, contact ground control on one-two-one point niner once clear the runway.” “Roger tower.” MacCloud taxied off the runway and contacted ground control. “Manchester Ground, Aztec five-four-four-papa-x-ray, we’d like to taxi to general aviation parking.” “Aztec five-four-four-papa-x-ray, taxi to Stead Aviation north of the tower via delta taxiway. Stead Aviation is what pilots refer to as a Fixed Based Operator or FBO. They’re the oasis for pilots at strange airports. Stead was one of the better one’s that offered fuel, maintenance, refreshments and even a bunk room where pilots could sack out in between legs of their trips. As MacCloud taxied to a halt at one of the tie downs, one of the line boys in an Exxon fuel truck was approaching the Aztec. MacCloud went through the post-landing checklist, shut the engines down and turned the master switch off. As Ray and John were getting off the plane they were approached by the line boy. MacCloud told him to top off the tanks and make sure the oil had ten quarts in each engine. As the partners started walking towards the exit gate, Ray was nearly stopped in his tracks. “I don’t believe my eyes. That little shit is on time for a change.” “Yea I know,” John answered equally amazed, “truly fucking amazing. I guess he knows what’s in it for him. “He thinks he knows,” Ray answered while grinning under his breath. MacCloud nodded in agreement. The object of their conversation was Joey Schultz who was standing behind a chain link fence that surrounded Stead Aviation. Joey was a twenty-year old thief that John and Ray met about a month ago in a Manchester bar. As MacCloud approached Joey, his thoughts flashed back to the chance meeting three weeks ago that led to today’s flight….
Manchester is New Hampshire’s largest city with a population of over one hundred thousand. It’s known as the Queen city. Contrary to what people think, it wasn’t because of a gay population but because it was named after its counterpart in England, which at the time, happened to be the home of the reigning monarch. Ray and John were seated at the bar of one of the local establishments they frequented when they were in Manchester. The name of the lounge was the Zoo. The name did the place no justice. To call the place a zoo would be an understatement. The place was currently a favorite of one of the local biker gangs, and they were the better clientele. The only dress code was you had to have them and if you weren’t carrying a gun, knife or some blunt instrument on your person, you were either very brave or very stupid, not to mention under dressed. If someone wasn’t taken out on a stretcher, it was a slow night, and it was still one of John and Ray’s favorite places. They did their best business here. “Another round you guys?” “Yea, if you really forced me, I think I could get another beer down.” “Me too Bob.” Bob Fudala, the bartender, had gotten to know the two partners over the months they had been coming to the Zoo. Bob suspected the type of business they were in, but never asked questions. It was usually a lot healthier. Besides, they were good tippers. “Ya know Ray,” MacCloud said, “it’s so you can’t get any good weed anymore.” “I know,” Ray answered. “That’s if you’re lucky to get any smoke. Shit, it’s easier to buy an Oh Zee of coke these days than to buy a joint.” As Bob came over to them with the beers, Ray said, “Hey Bob, you don’t know where we can get some smoke do ya?” “Hey guys, give me a break, I’m just the bartender, but I’ll keep my eyes and ears open.” “Oh well, it was a nice try anyway,” Ray said as he began sipping his beer. John and Ray finished their beer and told them they’d be back. It wasn’t a week until they returned, but when they did, Bob had some news for them. “Hey, where you guys been?” “You know us,” John answered. “We jungle fighter are always on the move. Makes us harder to hit.” “So I hear. Listen, you two hot shots still interested in scoring some weed?” “Hey is a bear Catholic, does the Pope shit in the woods?” Ray answered. “Funny. Well you’re in luck. There’s a kid over at the other end of the bar who may be able to do something for you.” “Who is he?” John asked. “His name is Joey Schultz,” Bob said while pointing him out to Ray and John. “He’s primarily a car and stereo thief, but every now and then he’ll come in here to get rid of his goods and throw me a sawbuck for looking the other way. He’s a real big mouth. Says he’s got some connections, but only for people who can do quantity. “Bob, the last thing I need in my life is a big mouth.” “Hey guys, like I always say, I’m just the bartender. You wanna meet or not?” Ray and John looked at each other for a moment. “What the hell, what’ve got to lose,” John said. “Ok Mac, but if he’s a pain in the ass, he’s history.” “No problemo.” With that, Bob went over to where Joey was sitting at and whispered something in his ear. Joey grabbed his drink and started walking towards John and Ray. Joey was about five foot seven, had short spiked hair that was dyed blonde on top and looked all of fifteen even though they knew he had to be at least 21. If there was one law that Bob enforced it was the drinking age. Joey’s clothes looked like something out of a bad MTV video. He was wearing black leather driving gloves, black nylon parachute pants, a lime green collarless shirt and a three-quarters length black leather coat. “How you dudes doin’, Bob here tells me you’re looking for something that old Joey can put you onto.” Ray and John looked at each other. Ray shook his head and took another swallow of his beer. John took an instant dislike to anyone who referred to themselves in the third person, not to mention his snappy dress and equally snappy use of the word dude. “That could be,” John answered. “But we got better things to do than to listen to bullshit. Bob said you could deliver quantity.” “Listen man,” Joey said. At least he didn’t call him dude John thought. “Joey Schultz does what he says. I’m not the one who delivers, but I set you up with someone who does, and of course, as a middleman, I get my commission.” John wondered if Joey knew the meaning of words longer than two syllables. “So far so good Joey, what do you have?” John said. “Bob tells me you’re looking for some weed. I’ve got this dude who does weed in quantity but he don’t like dealing with people he doesn’t know. I wouldn’t give you guys a second look, but Bob says you’re cool.” “Well thank you ever so much,” Ray said looking up from his beer for the first time. “And by the way it’s doesn’t like.” Joey continued, failing to note Ray’s sarcasm or the fact that he corrected his grammar. “What’re you guys looking to do for weight?” “MacCloud looked at Ray and then shrugged his shoulders. “Why not Mac, like you said, what have we lose?” John turned to Joey and said, “We’re looking to do about 20 pounds a week. But before we do anything big we’d want to get a sample.” “Yea, that’s cool. I’ll tell you what, I’ll talk to my man and I’ll meet you dudes back here next Monday,” Joey said. “Ok, we’ll see you at eight.” Joey then walked back to the end of the bar and started talking to the group of people who came with him. “Mac, you’re not really serious about coming back here next Monday. Are you? That shit head couldn’t deliver even if he worked for Domino’s Pizza.” “Ray, stranger things have happened, besides,” “Yea I know, what do we have to lose? I need another beer.”
Next Monday night saw John and Ray back at their usual spot at the Zoo. Eight o’clock came and went and it was getting nearer to nine and still no Joey. “I told you that asshole wouldn’t show Mac.” Ray said. “I didn’t really expect it either, but at least it was an excuse to go out for a beer.” “Who says we need an excuse for that,” Ray said as he lifted his draft to his mouth and nearly choked as he started to sip it. “I don’t believe it, that little shit showed.” Much to the surprise of Ray and John, Joey came sauntering in and started walking towards them. “Where the fuck you been? You get lost” Ray said. “Hey dude, take it easy, there were business meetings and arrangements to be made.” “Joey, be serious, what’s the story? Do we have a meet or not?” John said. “No problem. Didn’t I tell you that Joey can deliver? My man Pat says he’ll see you tonight to talk. He wasn’t too crazy about making any new contacts, but I told him you were my cousin from out of state. By the way, where you guys from?” “Out of state,” John said. “All right Joey, let’s do this,” Ray said. “You and John here are cousins on your mother’s side. That’ll explain for the difference in last names. Also, John and I are partners and we’re from Rhode Island. You got that?” “No problem. Why don’t you two jump in my car and we’ll go see Pat.” “No thanks, we’ll follow in our car,” John said. “Sure, suit yourself.” All three left the Zoo and followed Joey to his car, a red two seat Miata. “Joey, tell me something. How were the three of us going to fit in your car?” John said. “Oh yea,” Joey answered As Ray and John were walking towards John’s car, Ray turned to John and said, “Why do we get all the Rhodes Scholars.” “I know,” answered John. “Just the nature of the business.” The partners got into John’s blue Camaro, which was this month’s car, and began to follow Joey. “Ya know Mac, I still doubt if this is going to amount to anything, but if it does, let’s give Joey a C note and cut that shithead out of this as soon as possible.” “No argument from me there, and by calling him just a shithead, you’re giving all the other shitheads of the world a bad name.” Joey, as John suspected, also drove like a shithead, and it was only through divine intervention that he didn’t get into an accident or get stopped by a cop. They drove down Elm Street from the Zoo’s parking lot, through a red light while taking a left onto Lake Street, and heaven forbid, Joey should slow down at a stop sign before turning onto Union Street. “Mac, I think I prefer flying then following this guy in a car. I’m going to kill him when we stop.” “Stand in Line.” When Joey finally came to a stop, it was in front of a blue three decker on Union Street. The building was in desperate need of a paint job and replacement windows. “Well here we are,” Joey said as he was getting out of his car while wearing his perpetual shit-eaten grin. “Hey Joey, this hole is where your man lives who does quantity?” asked Ray. “If you’re screwing with us.” “No, no man,” Joey stammered. “He just lives this way. Over there, look,” Joey pointed to a new BMW. “That’s his car over there, every things cool.” “What the hell Ray,” John said. “I’ll go up and check this guy out. You wanna stay here?” “Yea, watch yourself.” “Always do partner.” John followed Joey up to the top floor of the three decker, and went over the cover story with Joey one more time. “OK you got it Joey, I’m your cousin from Rhode Island and we get together every now and then to party.” “No problem. Ole Joey got you covered.” They reached the top floor and were able to hear voices and a stereo through the door as if a small party was going on. Joey knocked on the door. “Who is it?” “It’s me Joey, and ah, my cousin John.” MacCloud looked down and just shook his head. “Ok. Hold on one.” John heard footsteps walking towards the door and a lock click open. “Hey Pat. What’s happening dude.” “Joey, what’s up? And you gotta get another word besides dude.” Pat immediately gained a couple of points in John’s book. “Hey Pat, this is my cousin John from Rhode Island, John, Pat.” Pat and John shook hands and gave each other the once over. Pat was about 5 foot 10, medium build and looked to be in his late twenties with prematurely graying hair. He was wearing jeans and a blue UNH t-shirt. John broke the ice. “Don’t worry, I won’t call you dude. Pat laughed and Joey started to turn red. “Lighten up Joey, we love you like a fifth cousin,” Pat said. The other four people in the room laughed, and for once, Joey kept his mouth shut and sulked over to a chair on the other side of the room. MacCloud walked through the door into the living room and was introduced to the other four guys in the room. The only one who caught MacCloud’s attention was a blonde haired muscle builder who looked to be in his mid-twenties whose name was Jeff. He was Joey’s height, but just as wide without an ounce of fat. “What do you do in your spare time,” MacCloud asked, “bench press Volkswagen’s?” Jeff chuckled at that. Like any muscle head thought MacCloud, he liked to be noticed. “Nah, I’m up to Chevy’s now,” again, more laughter. MacCloud then realized that everyone in the room was stoned and noticed the sicky sweet smell of marijuana smoke. This would also account for the ease of laughter and three open bags of potato chips. MacCloud didn’t feel threatened and took the time to view his surroundings as he sat in an armchair besides the couch. To the right of the living room was a small corridor that led to a kitchen. In the kitchen was another guy in his late twenties or early thirties with long brown hair and a beard. He was sitting at the table eating a happy meal with about a five-year-old boy. On the other side of the kitchen was another hallway that led to the rear of the apartment. Pat noticed MacCloud looking into the kitchen and said, “Don’t worry, he’s cool. That’s my roommate and his kid. He gets him a couple of days a week from his ex.” “Sure. No problem,” MacCloud answered. “Seems like everyone has an ex these days.” “Yea, that’s the best kind,” Pat said, which elicited another round of laughter. Pat’s roommate seemed to take no heed of what was going on in the living room. Pat didn’t offer his name and MacCloud didn’t ask. Turning his attention back to the living room, MacCloud thought that it was a typical bachelor’s apartment. There was a bar and stereo equipment, with the obligatory oversized speakers, and clothes strewn about the room. On one of the coffee tables was a picture of Pat with his arm around a girl. Next to this was a vase of flowers. Nothing like a women’s touch. As MacCloud was taking in the surroundings, someone had lit another joint and began passing it around. Pat took a tote and passed it to MacCloud. “No thanks, not tonight, I have to fly back to Rhode Island and that fucks me up,” MacCloud said. Pat nodded his head and passed the joint to Joey. After Pat exhaled he turned towards MacCloud. “Yea, that’s what Joey tells me. You’re a pilot and you want to do some business. I didn’t know you guys were cousins.” “Yea, well you know what they say, you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your relatives.” MacCloud said in reference to Joey. Everyone thought this was funny except Joey who was trying to figure out what MacCloud meant. “I’m looking to do some business,” MacCloud said, “but I wasn’t looking to make this many new friends.” “Don’t worry, they’re cool,” Pat said sensing MacCloud’s concern. “I’m just finishing up with them. As a matter of fact, they were worried that you may be a cop.” MacCloud just shook his head, “Yea and I thought you guys were virgins.” “Ya can never be too careful,” Jeff the bodybuilder said. “But ol’ Joey has never led us astray.” Pat then turned to the other three, “Listen, I should have the shit next week. It’s real primo, you’ll like it.” “Ok, we’ll wait for your call.” Goodbyes were said and the three left leaving John, Pat and Jeff in the room. Joey went into the kitchen and started talking to Pat’s roommate. Pat settled back into the sofa, took a sip of beer and began talking to MacCloud. “I can get the shit from one of two places. One guy has some real primo Afghani. He’s kind of hard to get hold of. He’s opening a new business, all legit, and that’s taking up a shitload of his time. What kind of weight can you do?” MacCloud leaned back in his chair and scratched his head. “Well, he said pensively, if the dope is good, as well as the price, I can do twenty plus pounds a week.” Pat arched his eyebrows and whistled. “If you can do that much, why the hell are you up from Rhode Island? Joey tells me you do major shit down there, make a few trips to Florida in your plane. What gives?” Pat was seeing dollar signs, but one or two alarm bells were also going off. John looked at Joey who was still in the kitchen and shook his head. “Ya know, he talks way too much. He’s not a bad kid, but he’s a few French fries shot of a happy meal,” John paused before he continued. “There’s this city in Rhode Island, Central Falls, it’s only four square miles in area and has a population of twenty thousand.” “So what’s the big deal?” Pat asked as he popped a can of Coors. “What the big deal is, is that sixteen of those twenty thousand residents are Columbians, and as you can probably guess, Central Falls is known as the cocaine capital of the east coast.” “Sounds like a dream come true,” Pat said. “Are you one of the lucky minority of four thousand?” “No, I live in Warner Rhode Island. It’s about twenty miles north of Central Falls on the Mass, Rhode Island border. I keep my Aztec at the airport at Fall River. It’s right over the line and convenient as hell with no control tower to keep track of my comings and goings.” “You keep your what, where?” “My Aztec, it’s one of the twin engine Piper series of planes. Piper named all of plane models after Indian tribes. It does about two-hundred miles an hour, and if the winds are right, I can make Florida in about 6 hours.” “No shit, last time I flew down on United, it took me twelve hours with all the delays,” Pat said. “Only twelve hours on a United flight to Florida, you did well. Anyway, Central Falls is where I get all my connections and I make about two ta three flights a month down to F L A.” MacCloud pronounced the states initials separately. “So what’s the problem, and back to my initial question, what are you doing up here?” “The problem is those fucking Columbians are crazy and all they do is coke. The money’s good, but at times it’s not worth it. I’m lucky they need me and my plane. Those fuckers have more guns than brains and would just as soon shoot you than look at you. I don’t need the aggravation and figure it’s time for a new product line to market.” Pat looked at John trying to figure out whether to believe him or not. “Shit man, why do you do it?” John leaned back in his chair for a moment before saying anything. “You can’t beat the money man. For every load of coke that I haul back from Florida, I get thirty-grand, and I can haul about eight hundred ponds no problem. If I do two trips a month, well you add it up.” Pat arched his eyebrows after he did the math. “Shit, you make over a half mill a year. What are ya nuts giving that up?” MacCloud leaned forward and pointed a finger at Pat for emphasis. “I’m not greedy and life’s too short. I’ve made enough money to keep me comfortable but not to retire, and short of marrying someone who has enough money to support me in the manner I want to be accustomed too, I’ve got a little more work to do. I can move enough weed to keep me happy and take care of my people. I also plan on moving up here, the climates a lot healthier without all those Columbians.” As John was talking, Pat kept nodding his head in understanding. “Yea, I know what you’re saying, I’ve got my people too and it sure beats working for a living.” Pat leaned back in the couch and gave some thought to what MacCloud had said. He didn’t really like dealing with someone that he just met, but he was Joey’s cousin and his story made a lot of sense. Pat made a decision. “Ok John, what do you have in mind?” “Well depending on price, and if this shit is as good as you say it is, I’d like to buy a pound later this week, and then ten pounds next week. If everything works out ok, I’m looking to move twenty pounds a week thereafter. Can you do what Joey says or am I getting stroked?” “No, no problem,” Pat said with an edge of excitement in his voice. John sensed that Pat was getting interested and for the first time thought that something might come out of this, Pat continued. “Like I said before, I got two people I get weed from. It’s good stuff. Nothing home grown.” “That’s fine,” John answered. “I don’t care who you get it from, as long as it’s good, and as the man says, the price is right.” Pat paused for a moment before he answered. The quality is no problem, but good pot is scarce these days, the price is eighteen hundred.” “Wait a second, am I buying pot or coke. That’s way too much,” John snapped back. When Pat didn’t say anything, he went on. “I don’t mind paying a little extra for quality, if it is in fact quality. I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you fifteen hundred for the first pound, and if we do twenty, twelve hundred per pound,” and as an afterthought, “What about Joey?” “The lowest I can go for an elbow is sixteen hundred.” Pat used the slang term elbow for a pound. “If we end up doing twenty, I’ll get you a better price, but it ain’t gonna be any twelve hundred. I’ll take care of Joey on the pound deal and you can take care of him on the first delivery of ten, then he’s out of it.” John didn’t say anything for a while as he did some adding and multiplying of his own. The price was high, but not too bad considering it was the first time Pat was doing business with him, a sort of risk premium. “Alright, I can live with that for now, but if we’re going to continue to do business, I want to realize some economies of scale.” “What?” “A better price as we do more business and quantity.” “Got you covered,” Pat said after John explained basic economics. “I should have the weed by the end of next week. Can you get your end together by then?” Pat asked in reference to John having the money ready. “Piece of cake,” John answered. “I can get the sixteen hundred anytime and I don’t have anything planned for later this week. How do you want to get in touch, and don’t say Joey?” “Don’t worry, how ‘bout I give you my phone number, and how do I get in touch with you?” “I’ve got a beeper.” “Beeper? No one uses beepers.” Pat said. “I do, and then I call you on a burner phone.” John said referring to a phone with prepaid minutes that you can buy at Wal-Mart.” “It’s a lot safer that way.” John then gave Pat a card with an 800 number on it and a winged messenger that was superimposed over the word, “Mercury Aviation”. “Mercury Aviation is the cover I use and the 800 number is good from anywhere in New England.” Pat was nodding his head as he was writing his number down for MacCloud. “Ok Pat, I’ll give you a call in a couple of days and we’ll try to do this at the end of the week. If anything comes up, beep me.” “Gotcha,” Pat said. “Hey Joey,” John yelled. “Get your ass in here.” “Don’t you guys forget to take care of ol’ Joey now. How’d it go?” John got up from his chair and zipped his leather flight jacket. “We worked a few things out. I’ll be getting a sample later this week or next and some quantity if all goes well, and that’s when we take care of ol’ Joey.” “Yea, that’s cool, as long as I get mine.” “Joey,” John said beginning to lose his patience, “that’s the least of your worries.” John and Joey said their good byes and left through the same door they entered. As they were walking down the stairs John asked Joey, “Who was the guy you were talking to in the kitchen. “The guy with the beard? That’s Pat’s roommate Jim, and the little rug rat is his kid. He gets him once a week from his ex.” “What’s his act?” “He’s a heavy dude man. He makes Pat look like small potatoes.” “That so,” John said. “Why didn’t you set me up with him?” Joey shrugged his shoulders. “He won’t deal with anyone he don’t know.” “Doesn’t know,” John said correcting Joey’s English. “Huh,” Joey said. “Forget it, go on.” “Well yea, Pat’s roommate Jim has a set number of people he deals with. He says he gets his dope from some people on some way out fucking island in the Caribbean. .” “What’s the name of the island?” “I forgot, but it sounds like you want to make her.” “It wouldn’t be Jamaica by any chance, would it?” “That’s it. How did you know?” “Well besides passing fourth grade geography, I’ve been there once or twice on business.” “No shit dude, wait ‘til Jim hears that. He just may do some business with you if things go good with Pat.” John was thinking about correcting Joey’s English again but figured it would be wasted. As they went out the front door of the three decker, Joey was thinking how he could make some more money setting John up with Jim. “Ya know, if I was to set you up with Jim, we can all get a pretty good piece of action.” Hey Joey,” John answered, “Let’s get settled with Pat first. I’m not too crazy dealing with people I don’t know either.” “Ok cool, but you won’t regret dealing with ol’ Joey.” John already regretted dealing with ol’ Joey. “We’ll see Joey, we’ll see.” As they rounded the corner they approached John’s car. Ray rolled down the window and asked how it went. “How do you think it went?” Joey blurted out not giving John a chance to answer. “Great dude.” Ray looked to the heavens and rolled his eyes. “It went better than expected,” John said, “in spite of Joey.” John then turned to Joey as he opened the driver’s side door, “Listen Joey, I’ll be in touch with Pat by next week and I’ll let you know how it goes.” “Don’t worry,” Joey answered. “It’ll go fine.” Joey then got into his own car and did his usual peel out fishtailing his Miata as he drove down the street. “Partner,” Ray said, “It’s only a matter of time with people like Joey.” “And the way it went upstairs, sooner than you might think.” “Really.” John then recounted to Ray the events that had taken place including what Joey had said about Jim. “That would be an added bonus if we could link up with him,” Ray said. “Absolutely,” John answered. “Anyway, I’m thirsty, let’s go get us a beer.” “Show me the way home.”
It was Sunday morning the following week when John’s beeper went off waking him out of a sound sleep. The constant beeping didn’t help his hangover. MacCloud shook his head thinking that he had never gotten hangovers in college. He gently extricated his arm from the blonde next to him in bed. MacCloud had been going out with Darcy for about three months and was finding himself uncharacteristically attracted to her. One of the differences between her and other girls that he dated was that Darcy didn’t put demands on him or ask a lot of questions about his work. She seemed to be a rare find, but it was only three months and MacCloud never did anything hastily, especially with women. John rolled over and looked at his beeper muttering to himself that someday he would take great pleasure doing a Mexican hat dance on it. He wondered if all people who carried pagers and cell phones felt the same way. “What time is it?” Darcy asked softly. She too was feeling the effects, including pleasant memories, of the previous night. “It’s still early Darcy. I have some business to attend to and then I’ll be back.” Darcy then did a feline stretch causing a significant amount of flesh to pop free of the covers. MacCloud noticing this began to have second thoughts about business and was beginning to tolerate the beeper for waking him. Darcy saw John and looking at her and smiled coyly. She then ran a hand through his hairy chest. John made an immediate decision that business could wait. After all, there were priorities in life. John woke up for the second time that day feeling much better, and happier, than the first. He glanced at the clock and saw that there was only fifteen minutes left in the morning and it was time to get his sorry ass out of bed. He also noticed that Darcy was no longer beside him in bed at the same time smelling the aroma of bacon and eggs coming from the kitchen. “That woman has a good attitude,” he said to no one in particular. As he was getting out of bed, MacCloud remembered the pager, grabbed it and looked at the number on the display screen. “Son of a bitch,” he said to the same no one in particular, somewhat surprised at the number he saw. As he walked into the kitchen, Darcy smiled and threw back her long hair prior to getting a kiss from him. As John kissed her he gave her backside a soft pinch. “You’re incorrigible,” she said kiddingly. “Haven’t you had enough?” “Not of you.” “Good reply. The coffee’s done and the bacon and eggs should be ready in about five.” “Thanks sweets,” John answered as he grabbed the phone and walked into the adjacent room. “I’ve got a call to make anyway.” “Oh, another one of those calls I can’t hear,” Darcy said with a mischievous look on her face. Darcy knew the type of business John was in, and though she wasn’t crazy about it, she thought it was exciting and loved hearing some of the stories he would sometimes tell her. John looked at her and smiled back. He was very happy with the relationship. As he dialed the number, he leaned back on a chair and peered out the double glass doors of the living room that overlooked the lake where the house was located. The view was fantastic. MacCloud was proud of his house. It was a contemporary that he had bought unfinished from the previous owner for a song after he ran into financial troubles. John, with the help of a couple of friends, had then finished it to his liking. The bathroom had Italian marble, the Jacuzzi was in California redwood and his office had imported mahogany from Belize. The house was spacious at thirty five hundred square feet, but MacCloud liked open spaces. Things were going very well for John MacCloud. His thoughts were interrupted by a voice at the other end of the line. “Hello.” “Pat, it’s me John. How ya doing.” “Pretty good,” Pat answered. “I was beginning to think that your beeper wasn’t working.” “It’s working, but I wasn’t. Mornings and me don’t always agree.” “I hear ya,” Pat answered. “What we talked about last week, I got my end together. Are you still interested?” “Bet your ass I am,” MacCloud said without hesitation. “All I have to do is give Ray a call and we’ll be all set. How’s Tuesday sound?” “Tuesday’s good,” Pat said. “I got nothing planned all day.” “Tough life,” John said jokingly. “Hey, someone’s got to do it.” “I’ll tell you what Pat, I got a car I keep at the airport in Manchester. Ray and I should be there by mid-afternoon. Why don’t I give you a call when we get there?” “Sound’s good. Did you say you keep a car at the airport? Aren’t you afraid of it getting ripped?” “Not really. It’s in a pretty secure area at Stead Aviation and it’s one of a couple that I have.” “Must be nice,” Pat said. “Just don’t tell Joey about it.” John started to laugh. “You’re right on that. If there are any problems, I’ll call ya. If not, speak to you Tuesday when I get in.” “Good,” then as an afterthought Pat said, “Hey John, you’ll have your end together right?” “Absolutely. That’s the way I do business. I don’t believe in fronting.” “Great, see you then.” John hung up and began to dial Ray’s number as Darcy told him that breakfast was ready. John looked in at her and smiled. Things were going very well indeed.
For the second time in as many weeks, Ray and John pulled up to the dilapidated blue three-decker on Union Street in Manchester. After John and Pat had spoken Sunday morning, events progressed rapidly. The call to Ray, getting the money together on Monday, and for Ray, the white knuckle plane ride into Manchester. John turned up the collar of his leather flight jacket as he got out of his Camaro. It was a clear sunny day in early March, but there was a typical biting wind which brought the wind chill factor to well below freezing. Ray stayed in the car with the money. “Holy shit, it’s cold out,” John said. “Then get the fuck in the house Mac. Even my dog knows enough to come in from the cold.” MacCloud went bounding up the steps and into the house. It was too cold to stay outside and trade wisecracks with Ray. As MacCloud walked up the stairs he looked around to see if there was anything unusual. He had done his usual counter surveillance routine coming from the airport, and he was sure he wasn’t followed. It never hurt to be too careful. No matter how many times he did it, he always got butterflies before a deal, especially when doing business with someone new. There was always a chance of a rip, or something worse. MacCloud didn’t think so in this case. The deal was going down in Pat’s house, and unless the house was a cover, which he didn’t think it was, it would be too easy to get back at Pat. MacCloud was still being careful. That’s why the money was with Ray. It was a general rule of thumb in the drug trade to always keep the money and the drugs separated. As MacCloud reached the top of the stairs, he heard a stereo blaring from the apartment. He knocked on the door, and in a couple of moments, Pat opened the door. “Hey John, come on in.” Pat was barefoot and only wearing jeans. As John entered the apartment, he noticed the temperature inside was in sharp contrast to the cold outside, and MacCloud quickly took off his jacket. He was only wearing a shirt underneath the jacket and he noticed Pat giving him the once over, possible looking for a gun or hidden wire. Guns weren’t all that uncommon for drug dealers. It came with the trade and some even had portable radios, but a wire was a sure give away that the person you were dealing with was a cop. MacCloud wasn’t worried. Most wires police used were in a shoulder harness, and he wasn’t wearing one. His 8 shot .380 caliber automatic was safely nestled in his back pocket, virtually undetectable. It wasn’t much of a gun, but it was a good belly gun, and if anything went wrong today, he felt that’s all he would need. “Pat, how’s it going? Cold as a witches tit outside with that wind blowing, but you more than make up for it with the heat in here.” “Yea, the heats included with the cost of the rent so I don’t mind cranking it up. Makes me think that I’m in Florida. I’ll be going there in a couple of weeks with my girlfriend.” “Where are you going?” John asked. “We’re going down to Miami and spend about two weeks.” John smiled while digging in his front pocket and threw a pack of matches at Pat. On the cover was a colorful display of an outdoor lounge in Miami, Monty Trainors. “I make it a point to get there every time I fly down. It’s in Miami just outside the Coconut Grove section. I was there about three weeks ago mixing some business with pleasure. It’s a good time.” “Really, I remember you saying you fly down there a lot.” “Not as much as I used too. Now I’m making them to New Hampshire.” “Yea, I remember you telling me it’s a lot safer. By the way, where’s your partner?” “He’s down in the car with our end. How’s yours?” “Wait one.” John saw Pat go into the bedroom that was off the living room, go to a floor safe by the bed, spin the combination and take out a brown paper bag. Pat then walked out of the bedroom and handed it to John. “Here it is.” John took the bag from Pat and was immediately assailed by the pungent marijuana odor. MacCloud reached in and rolled some of the greenish brown vegetative matter between his fingers. “Lots of buds and nice and sticky.” “That’ll put you on cloud nine,” Pat said. “Do you want to weigh it?” “Na, this looks good. I’m gonna go down and get the cash.” “Sounds good to me.” “Why don’t you have Ray come on up, I’d like to meet him. “Sure.” John left the bag of pot with pat and went down to the Camaro. Ray had the car running and was listening to the local rock station WGIR. “How’d it go Mac?” Ray asked through the open window. “Smooth as silk. He says for you to come on up and meet.” “No shit!” Ray said arching his eyebrows. “Trusting sort isn’t he. Anyone else with him up in the apartment?” “Not as far as I can tell. If there is someone he didn’t show himself. But I wouldn’t sell him short.” Ray grabbed the money, which was also in a brown paper bag, buttoned up his jacket, shut off the engine and followed MacCloud into the house. Ray was a little more cautious than John. He carried a Smith & Wesson nine mm in the pocket of his bulky army jacket. It was easily concealable and easy to get. As John and Ray entered Pat’s apartment, John made the introductions. Ray also felt the heat of the apartment and unbuttoned his jacket but left it on. “Give the man the money Ray,” John said as he noticed the bag of pot on the couch where he left it. Ray handed the bag to Pat who went over to the bar, sat on a stool and started counting the hundred dollar bills. John took the bag of pot and gave it to Ray who opened the bag and began nodding his head up and down approvingly. “All here”, Pat said. “You guys still interested in doing some quantity?” Ray looked at MacCloud who nodded. “Yea, I think so depending on price. This looks like good shit. Will the rest be as good?” “It could be even better,” Pat answered. “What you got there is some real good Jamaican ganja. If I can get in touch with my other source, he’s got some Afghani weed that will curl your toes.” “What are we talking for price?” “I’m not sure, but if you’re going to do quantity, it’ll be better than what you got this pound for.” Ray thought about this for a moment and then looked at John. “What do you think Mac?” MacCloud paused and then turned to Pat. “I’ll tell you what, let’s see how this sells and you get me a price for ten of the Jamaican and ten of the Afghani, and then we’ll decide. I’ll give you a call at the end of the week. Pat though this over for a minute and answered, “Why don’t you call me at the end of the weekend instead. I may not be able to get to my sources by then.” “No problem,” John said. “It’ll take a day or two to get our part together anyway. How ‘bout you?” “With either source only a couple of hours. I don’t keep that much on hand and I’ll have to go run for it. We’ve been doing business for quite a while and both will front me the shit.” Ray and John looked at each other. They were both amazed at how open Pat was with them and how much information he had volunteered. Ray then said, “All right, Mac can give you a call and we can work the details out later.” “Fine by me,” Pat said. John and Ray then said their goodbyes, took the bag of pot and left the house. Neither of them said a word to each other until they were in the Camaro. Ray still the cautious one was looking around for any type of surveillance or something out of the ordinary. “You gotta be shittin’ me. That was just too easy,” Ray said. “Hey Ray, what can I tell you, I have a trusting face.” Ray began shaking his head. “Could he be that trusting Mac?” People like that usually don’t stay in business long, but as far as we know, he’s never been busted and he’s been dealing for quite a while. Mac you have a unique talent for making chicken salad out of chicken shit.” MacCloud just smiled and said, “I think it’s time to tell the boss.”
It was the following Monday and Pat had just gotten out of bed and was making coffee. He was surprised that neither Ray nor John had called him since their dealings last week. He had called both his sources over the weekend and both assured him that they could supply him up to ten pounds on a days’ notice for the next week without a problem. Pat felt pretty good about doing business with MacCloud. In his business he had to be careful. There were threats from two sides. Not only did he have to worry about the cops, but also other dealers who specialized in rip offs. Narcs tended to be pushy when they tried to make a buy and would agree to any price. This was usually a sure tip off that the buyer was a cop and Pat would always pass on the deal. Hold up artists would often be paranoid and would always carry guns. Pat was pretty much a nonviolent person and even though he owned a gun, he had always kept it in his safe. The moment Pat suspected a rip off, he would get hold of Jeff and a couple of his other muscle head buddies and they would always give anyone second thoughts of doing anything foolish. Pat had been dealing since his days at Manchester Central High School and was proud of the fact that he had never been busted or ripped. He walked to the counter and poured himself a cup of coffee, went to the living room, leaned back in his chair and thought how good his lifestyle was. He’ll be in sunny Florida with his girlfriend this time next week with plenty of money in his pocket. Damn, she looked good in a thong. If the deal went through with John and Ray, he would have that much more money in his pocket. If not, he still had a six-figure bank account to draw from that he had accumulated over the years. The drug trade had been very good to him. Pat’s thoughts were interrupted by the phone. “Your dime” “These days it’s a quarter. Pat. It’s me John.” “What’s up? I was just thinking of you and beginning to think I wasn’t going to hear from you. How’d you like the product?” “Real good. It’s been a long week for me.” “I know what you mean. You and Ray still interested?” “Yea we are, depending. What can you do ten for?” “I spoke to both of my people over the week and I can get you the same stuff as last time for twelve each, or I can get you this real primo shit.” When John didn’t say anything Pat went on. “The primo stuff is great and it’s just a few dollars more at fourteen. “I was expecting better,” John said. “Hang on one.” “I’ll tell you what,” John said after a pause, “we’ll do ten if you can do the primo for thirteen.” Pat did some quick adding and subtracting. He liked to make four hundred a pound when he did this quantity. At thirteen he would be making three thousand as opposed to four thousand. Pat thought for another second. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll do it for 1350 and I’ll take care of Joey, then he’s out of it.” “You hit a weak spot there Pat, Joey’s all yours and it’s a deal. When can you do it?” “Pick a time, all I need is a days’ notice.” “How’s Wednesday sound? The forecast is for good flying weather for the next couple of days and it’s a lot more enjoyable flying if you’re not in the clouds” “Sounds good to me. I’m going to have to run for the product. Where do you want to do it?” Pat asked. “How ‘bout we do it at the airport. Ray and I will fly in about eleven and give you and Joey a call from there.” “Be waiting for your call.” Pat hung up and took another sip of his coffee. He liked doing business with John. He was good to deal with and he had picked a nice public place to do the deal. Pat wouldn’t have to worry about a rip and the last thing he suspected John for was a cop. A cop would never have let all that money walk after the first pound deal. A little extra spending money would be a great way to start his vacation.
John’s thoughts were now back to the present. The events of the past few weeks had flashed through his mind in a matter of seconds. As he and Ray walked past Stead Aviation to the perimeter fence, he was able to take a better look at Joey. Joey wore his perpetual shit-eaten grin, black racing gloves and long black leather coat with jeans and sneakers. Some things never change. “Hey dudes, what’s happening?” “Hello Joey,” Ray answered. “For once in your life you’re on time.” “Hey, its payday for ol’ Joey. So if you want, you can pay me and I’m outta here. “Not quite Joey,” Ray said. “The deals not done yet and ol’ Joey doesn’t get his until we get ours. Besides, Pat’s paying you. Dig dude?” Ray said mimicking Joey. “We’re going to call Pat and have him come here, and then you’ll get your money,” John said as he was walking through the gate. Joey just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Oh well, I’ve waited this long.” “Yea you have,” John said. “Now let’s go to the terminal building and call Pat. “Hey Mac, don’t they have a restaurant in there?” Ray asked. “Yea, I think it’s called the flight deck or something. We can wait there.” The walk from Stead Aviation to the terminal building took under ten minutes across a crowded airport. As John walked through the lot, he marveled at how quickly Manchester Airport had grown in the past five years. It had become the primary feeder airport for Boston’s Logan International and was already supporting six major airlines and a number of puddle jumpers and charter services. It had come a long way since the Grenier Field days of WWII The parking lot they were walking through was one of five and was just south of the terminal building. There were two rows of rental cars from Hertz and AVIS. John remembered when it was only a public parking lot and generally just half full. He made a mental note that this would be a good place to have the deal go down. As the three entered the terminal building, John went to the bank of payphones to the left of the entrance. “Why don’t you guys go up to the restaurant and I’ll join you after I give Pat a call.” Joey needed no prodding and went bounding up the stairs ahead of Ray. “Mac, if you leave me alone with him for more than five minutes, I won’t be responsible for my actions,” Ray said. “Don’t worry, I’ll be done before you can say hey dude,” and then as an afterthought, “Trust me.” Ray looked at John over his shoulder and said, “Yea, the checks in the mail and I love you.” As he dialed Pat’s number, he looked around the lobby of the terminal. There was one of the airport police officers sipping the inevitable cup of coffee while talking to the pretty receptionist at the AVIS counter. There were worse jobs. John figured it must be a fairly boring assignment but it beat standing over a hole in the road freezing your ass off. John heard Pat answer the phone after the sixth ring. “Pat, it’s me John. Ray and I are at the airport.” “Great. How ‘bout Joey?” “He’s here too.” “Can’t win ‘em all,” Pat said. “But when there’s a buck, he’s there.” “Yea,” John agreed and then got down to business. “We’re all set with our part. How you doing?” “Real good. I was waiting for your call and all I have to do is go run for it. “Ok. We’ll be in the restaurant in the terminal building. How long will you be?” “I should be there in about sixty to seventy minutes.” “Right. That’ll give us time to grab a bite. See you then.” As Pat hung up the phone he was elated. This would be a good chunk of change that he would be getting every week or every other week from John and Ray, time for another new car. Pat grabbed his keys and jacket as he went out the front door. It was another cold day and he was wondering when they were going to get some warm weather. He then thought to himself that he should be thinking more about the deal and not take things for granted. In this business, people got hurt, ripped or busted when things were taken for granted. He would go get Jim who was working out at the athletic club by the airport. This way he would have some back up if something went wrong. As Pat pulled into traffic at Union Street, he didn’t notice the blonde girl driving the blue SUV two cars behind him. As he pulled onto Willow Street, he didn’t notice any one of the four cars that were following his every move. As he turned onto 101 eastbound, Pat certainly didn’t notice the green and white Cessna 182, two thousand feet above him tracking his progress as he drove to Ricky Richards’s house. Pat turned onto route 107 from 101, he did notice the two people changing a flat tire and as he took a right onto the dead end road where Richard’s lived, he also noticed the two-telephone lineman working on the side of the road. Poor bastards Pat thought to himself, working for a living sure sucks. He was going to make more money in two hours than these guys were going to make in two weeks; great country America!
“Air one to ground, we have an eyeball. He’s leaving the car and going into the house.” State trooper Scott Nelson radioed to the other cops of the New Hampshire Drug Task Force who were keeping tabs on drug dealers Pat Mason and Ricky Richards. “Roger that, keep circling over the house until we advise otherwise.” “Air two, this is ground one, do you have a visual?” Air two was the designation kiddingly given to Manchester detective Rick Kilman who was one of the telephone lineman Pat had saw while pulling onto Richard’s street. Kilman was perched atop of the telephone pole that gave him an unobstructed view of Ricky Richard’s house and barn. “Yea Jim, I got ‘em,” Kilman answered. Good radio reception, Kilman thought. Then again, it should be, Jim Morris, the team leader, was only forty feet below him in the telephone repair van. Jim Morris, a sergeant with the state police, was the head of the NH Drug Task Force that was comprised of state and local police and answered to the Attorney General. Jim was seated in the back of the specially designed surveillance van. Today, the van was painted the colors of Fair Point. Seated next to Jim was Chief Nolan. Nolan had started the ball rolling three months ago when he had called the task force and asked for some assistance with a drug dealer in his town. Since then, through a series of informants, surveillance, and plain luck of a couple of task force cops, they were not only on the verge of getting Richards, but a couple of his other dealers as well. “Ground one to ground units, stand by.” Kathy Morse of the task force parked her SUV at McDonalds and was soon joined by Mike Bird of the task force. Kathy was from Laconia and Mike from Derry, both medium sized towns from opposite ends of the state. Tim O’Conner, also from Laconia, went through the drive up at Dunkin’ Donuts, bought a cup of coffee and positioned himself in the parking lot and radioed Jim that he was standing by to stand by. Jim laughed to himself. One of these days Tim was going to take life seriously. Tim’s favorite toast was to his patron saint, Peter Pan. He may grow old, but he wasn’t going to grow up. Both Nolan and Morris sat in the van in silence. A lot of “ifs” had to happen if this was going to go down, but a lot of “ifs” had already happened to get them this far. In about ten minutes the silence was interrupted by Scot Nelson’s voice over the radio with the drone of the Cessna engine in the background. “Air one to units, he’s coming out and it looks as if he’s carrying a box.” “Rick, do you have him?” Jim asked. Rick put a three inch pocket telescope to his eye and squinted. “Yea, got ‘em. He’s carrying a cardboard box and going to the trunk. Now he’s getting in and here he comes.” Both Jim and Chief Nolan looked at each other. The ifs were happening. As Pat came out of Ricky’s driveway, the units of the Drug Task Force fell in line behind him. “Alright people,” Jim said over the radio, “let’s give him a real loose tail, we don’t want to spook him. Scott, do you have him?” “I’ve got a clear view of his Beemer and traffic’s light. I’ve already contacted Manchester approach and they’re giving us priority and vectoring other planes around us.” “If he starts doing some counter surveillance tricks, everyone back off and Scott will keep him in sight,” Jim said over the radio. “Have no fear boss,” Tim said, which was his usual answer. As Pat pulled onto route 107, he began retracing his way back to Manchester. As he turned onto route 101, Pat saw a car in the breakdown lane with a State Police cruiser behind it. The trooper was behind the wheel of his car with his head bent down. Probably writing a ticket Pat thought. Pat instinctively took his foot off the accelerator and slowed to 60. The last thing he needed was to get stopped with ten pounds of pot in his trunk. As he passed the trooper, Pat looked in his rearview mirror and saw for the second time a blue SUV behind him. Pat thought it was probably nothing, but he didn’t come this far in life believing in coincidences. Ordinarily, he would have pulled over to the side of the road and let the SUV drive by, but it had passed him before he began to slow down. Another mile further and Pat saw the SUV take the exit three off ramp. “Ground three to air one, I’m pulling off Scott, he may have made me,” Kathy radioed to Scott. “It’s ok Kath, I still have him. Mike do you have him?” “I’m about a quarter of a mile back, but I still have him. Jim you getting this?” “I got it. Everyone’s doing fine.” Jim was staying behind in the van with Chief Nolan and Kilman who had come down from the telephone pole and was warming up inside the van. If all went as planned, they would be hitting Richardson’s house and barn later in the day with a search warrant. Pat continued down route 101 while occasionally looking in his rear view mirror. Satisfied that no one was following him, he started thinking of upcoming events. He hoped that Jim, his roommate, would already be at the airport. He really didn’t like hanging around the airport with a trunk full of pot. From 101, Pat turned onto route 293 and then took the Brown street exit towards the airport. As he turned onto the airport and approached the terminal building, Pat was relieved to see Jim waiting for him on the sidewalk. “Been waiting long?” Pat asked as he pulled up next to his roommate. “Nah, just got here about ten minutes ago.” “Ok, I’ll go park the car and I’ll be with you in a minute.” Pat drove to one of the newly paved lots west of the terminal building and pulled into the first open space. He made sure the doors and trunk were locked and joined Jim at the terminal building. As Pat and Jim walked into the lobby of the terminal building, Pat noticed a janitor sweeping the floor and thought how much better his life was then that poor stiff. Selling dope beat shoveling shit any day of the week. What Pat didn’t know was that poor stiff was one of the task force’s surveillance team. As Pat and Jim took the escalator to the second floor restaurant, the other members of the task force surveillance team were positioning themselves around the terminal building. “Air one to Ground one.” “Go ahead Scott, Jim here.” Both Jim Morris and Chief Nolan remained in the van coordinating the members of the task force surveillance team after arriving at the airport. I’ve received clearance from the control tower to remain in the pattern at two thousand feet. “Good,” Jim answered, “If they start moving, we’ll keep you advised, but hopefully everything will go down here.” “Roger,” Scott said. “If it’s more than an hour, the tower may start vectoring me around, they have a 737 coming in.” “Keep your fingers crossed that it’s over by then.” After Jim checked to make sure all the units were in place, he settled down and waited. If it’s one thing cops hated, it was sitting, waiting and doing nothing, but not as much as paperwork. One author of police texts described police work as seven hours and fifty-nine minutes of boredom followed by one minute of sheer terror. Pat and Jim entered the restaurant and saw John and Ray sitting at a table in the far corner. They were next to a large bay window overlooking the main runway and taxi area. It was two o’clock and there was a sparse crowd in the restaurant. It was after the noon rush and before the late day commuter traffic that started at three. Pat looked around as he walked towards John and Ray. He noticed two apparent businessmen at the bar sipping their afternoon drinks. What Pat didn’t notice was the slight bulge in their jackets or the hidden microphones that enabled them to communicate with Jim Morris. When Ray and John saw Pat and Jim walk in, they breathe a collective sigh of relief. It was a combination of waiting for two hours wondering whether or not the deal was going to happen, and as could be expected, Joey was wearing very thin on their nerves. “Hey guys, good to see ya,” John said as he got up. “We were beginning to wonder if you were going to show or not.” “All set,” Pat answered as he and Jim sat down. “Just had to go and run for the stuff. By the way, where’s Joey?” “If we’re real lucky, he got sucked into a jet engine,” Ray said. John leaned back in his chair and laughed. “We gave him a roll of quarters and he’s busy in the arcade.” “He can be trying after a while,” Pat answered as he picked up a menu. “I just remembered, I haven’t eaten yet.” Within a couple of minutes a waitress came to the table and took Pat’s order for a hamburger and a beer. Jim just ordered a beer and John and Ray had their coffee refilled. “Aren’t you guys going to have a beer?” Jim asked. “Naw, we have to fly back as soon as we take care of business. There’s some weather coming in tonight and I want to beat it back to Rhode Island,” John said. “By the way, everything all set on your end?” “Everything’s fine. It’s out in the car,” Pat said. “How ‘bout you?” John paused a minute as the waitress arrived with Pat and Jim’s drinks. “We got our shit together,” John said as Ray reached under the table and reached for John’s flight bag. Ray then placed the leather flight bag on his lap and unzipped the top. Jim looked into the flight bag, saw the stack of bills, and smiled. “Looks like you do have your shit together.” “Hey dudes, what’s happening?” Joey said as he made his presence known at the table. “I knew it was too good to be true,” Ray said “You guys got everything all set?” “Don’t worry Joey, try as we may, we won’t forget you.” “Ok, just checking in, well you dudes carry on and I’ll be downstairs.” “Thank God,” Ray said. There was another pause in the conversation as the waitress arrived with Pat’s food. “How do you want to do it?” Pat asked John in between bites of his burger?” “Why don’t you and I go down to your car, you count the money, I check out the product, and if we’re both happy, we go our separate ways.” Pat chewed on his burger for a while, swallowed and then said, “I’d like to keep the drugs and money separated first time we’re doing something this size.” John nodded his head in agreement. “I know what you mean. It’ll be nice after we do this a couple of times and build up a trust.” “It’s not that I don’t trust you guys,” Pat said. “But like the man said, nothing personal, just business.” Ray then spoke up. “I’ll tell you what, why don’t Jim and me go in the plane, it’s right over there,” Ray pointed to where the Aztec was parked on the tarmac. “We’ll be in the plane and Jim can count the money. Pat and John can go to Pat’s car where John can check out the shit. Pat drive’s the car to the parking lot by the plane where we can see each other. If everyone’s happy, Jim leaves with the money and John leaves with the dope.” Pat and Jim looked at each other for a moment. Pat began nodding his head and said, “Sounds good to me, what do you think Jim?” “Yea, not bad. The money and the dopes apart and we’re out in the public.” “How bout Joey?” John asked. “I’ll take care of him,” Pat said. “He can stay in the arcade out of harm’s way and I’ll give him his cut later. “Great.” Pat finished his sandwich, threw a twenty on the table and asked if everyone was ready “Let’s do it,” Ray said. John and Ray got up and followed Pat and Jim out of the restaurant. As they walked out the door, one of the undercover cops who was sitting at the bar spoke softly into his hidden microphone. Sitting in the van, Jim Morris felt the butterflies in his stomach, even after fifteen years of drug work. “Alright everybody,” Jim said over the radio. “It’s show time. Kathy why don’t you and Tim drive over to the corner by Stead Aviation and look couple-ish.” “Roger that,” Kathy said. “Thank you God,” Tim said. “I can give couple-ish new meaning.” Kathy looked over at Tim and said good-naturedly, “Enjoy it Tim, because it’ll be only in your dreams.” Tim still kept smiling and began to say something but remained quiet as Jim Morris kept giving instructions over the radio. “Kathy, you two will be joined by BJ and Bob when they leave the restaurant. When it goes down, you guys will be taking down Pat Mason and John in the car. Make sure the car is boxed in so it can’t go anywhere.” After a moments pause, Jim continued, “Dick, Are you there?” Dick Curry picked up the microphone from the Exxon Av-gas truck he was sitting in and answered. “Yea Jim, we copied.” Dick was dressed as an airplane fueler along with Mike Bird. For all intents and purposes, they were just two employees just passing time. Jim continued. “Dick, you and Mike along with the Chief and Kilman will be taking down Ray and Jim in the plane.” “Ok, we got it.” “Heads up everyone, the final act is about to begin. Scott, are you copying all of this?” “Air one has it.” As Ray, John, Jim and Pat walked into the parking lot, they split into two groups. Ray and Jim went through the general Aviation security gate and headed towards the twin engine Aztec while Pat and John walked towards Pat’s car. As John got into Pat’s car he was rubbing his hands. “I hope your car warms up fast.” “It should still be warm, I wasn’t away that long,” Pat said. Pat started the car, turned the heater on and drove to the far corner of the parking lot where they could see Ray and Jim in the Aztec. “Actually, this is a pretty good idea Ray thought of,” Pat said. “Yea, there’s no one in this section of the lot and we can see each other fine. Where do you have the dope?” “It’s in the trunk,” Pat answered. Pat put the car in park and kept the car running. As Pat left the car and walked towards the trunk, he looked around the lot and tarmac. He saw a fuel truck with a couple of the line guys fueling a Cessna two tie downs from John’s Aztec that Ray and Jim were in, and he also saw a couple of businessmen get into a rental car at the far end of the lot. There was also a telephone repair van in the lot, but nothing out of the ordinary that would alarm him. Pat opened the trunk and took out a box that he had loaded at Ricky Richard’s house. He got back in the car and slid the box so that it was resting between him and John. “Here it is. This Afghani shit will blow you away.” As Pat was saying this to John, Jim was counting the money with Ray in the plane. John opened the box that Pat had slid next to him and saw a green trash bag secured with duct tape. As he ripped open the top of the bag, John smiled as he inhaled the sicky sweet odor of the marijuana. He then reached in and felt the stickiness of the buds. John then looked at Pat intently, particularly where his hands were and smiled. “Pat, this looks like marvelous shit.” “I told you, it doesn’t get any better,” Pat said. John kept on smiling and said, “You’re right Pat, it doesn’t get any better.” Pat thought John was beginning to act a little strange. He was startled by his door being yanked open and having a gun stuck in his face.
“Put your hands on your head and come out of the car. Get on the ground” To the controllers in the tower it seemed that all hell had broken loose. There were five people with guns surrounding a car in one of the commuter parking lots with one person spread-eagled on the ground. In the general aviation tie down area, the same scene was occurring, only around a twin engine Aztec, again with one person spread-eagled on the ground. The wail of sirens could be heard as marked cruisers were coming down the airport perimeter road and a uniformed sheriff was escorting a handcuffed blonde teenager who was wearing an ankle length black coat. “Manchester tower, this is Cessna three yankee zulu.” “Cessna three yankee zulu, Manchester Tower. What the hell is going on?” “Tower, this is Corporal Scott Nelson of the New Hampshire Drug Task Force. What you see down there is the arrest of three drug dealers. “Roger three yankee zulu, nice job.”
Pat couldn’t believe what was happening. He was face down on the ground with his hands handcuffed behind his back. He was being arrested. Cops! What happened? Where was his partner Jim, and MacCloud. He looked up. He saw Jim who was being marched towards him also handcuffed. Joey was handcuffed too. Pat looked up again and saw Ray and John standing over him. Neither was handcuffed. Ray walked up besides John and said, “Nice job partner.” Pats mind was racing. He couldn’t believe it. Ray and John were fucking cops, narcs. “I knew it, I knew it,” Pat blurted out. “I knew you were fucking cops.” Ray looked at John and said, “Once, just once Mac, I wish they’d say something different after we arrest them.” John laughed and looked down at Pat and said sarcastically, “Yea, you knew we were cops, that’s why you sold us ten pounds of pot. Another Rhodes scholar.” Pat realized the foolishness of what he had just said. He just couldn’t believe it.
Ricky walked into his spacious living room, plopped himself on the couch, and turned on his big screen TV with the remote. He was rolling a joint and beginning to settle down for the evening. Ricky was wondering what was keeping Pat so long. They had been doing business for five years and Pat always paid on the same day whenever Ricky fronted him the dope. It wasn’t like Pat to be late with the cash. He wasn’t worried. Pat had always came through and there could be any number of reasons as to why he was late. Ricky leaned back on the couch and took a long drag from the joint. This load of Afghani was particularly good. He would be stoned on two hits. The days were getting longer and he was able to see the setting sun outside his living room window. What Ricky didn’t see was the uniformed police in the woods adjacent to his house, or the two cruisers at the end of his driveway. It took Ricky a few moments to realize what was taking place. The pot was having its effect and Ricky saw events in slow motion. Police had knocked and then broken down the front and back doors. He saw cruisers coming down the driveway with flashing strobes. He was taken off the couch, handcuffed and put face down on the floor. What was happening? It couldn’t be. He couldn’t be getting busted. He was too good and he had more than 200 pounds of Afghani in his barn. As he was marched outside and placed in the back seat of a screened cruiser, he still couldn’t believe what was happening to him. It must be the weed. He was hallucinating. That was it. He knew the pot was good, but not that good.
Pat, Jim and Joey shared the same cell at the county jail on Valley Street. As the door to the cellblock opened, they looked and saw Ricky Richards being walked towards their cell by a guard. The guard opened the cell door and brusquely pushed Ricky into the cell. All four stood in a circle and looked at each other. The effects of the pot had worn off long ago on Ricky. He looked at Pat and asked, “What the fuck happened?” Before Pat said anything Joey spoke up. “We wouldn’t be in this mess if Pat didn’t sell some cop dude some dope.” “Joey,” Pat said getting up, “if you were a light bulb, you’d be about twenty watts,” and with that, Pat punched Joey square in the nose.