It was close to 4am as I got on the interstate, still amped from the excitement in the Skyline parking lot. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep for thinking about the meeting to get Shaft back in twelve hours. My mind was racing trying to come up with a plan. For some reason I was heading south on I-77 towards the South Carolina line where I knew there were all night bars open and selling alcohol.
What the hell was I doing! Shaft’s life was in the balance and I was thinking of nothing but a drink! Hell no! No way was I going to let the demon in the bottle bring me down this time. I might totally screw this job up, but I’ll be damned if booze would be to blame. I swerved off on the first exit in South Carolina, went back under the overpass, and headed north for home.
There weren’t any strange cars around as I cruised slowly by my place. Still, I parked two streets over and cut through some neighbor’s yards to come up to my back door. Nothing looked out of place so I went on in. I felt a chill as I could tell that the place had been ransacked. With a Glock now in each hand I checked each room. Nobody there.
I unfastened the wall vent to the air conditioning return, removed the filter, and reached in and pulled out a Remington 1100, a couple of cheap 9mm knockoffs, some handcuffs, binoculars, a Tazer, and an old Mac 10. I grabbed two pillow cases and stuffed the firepower and some ammo in them.
As I hurried back to the El Camino I chugged a Red Bull from my fridge. Ugh! So that’s what they taste like without Jager. Fired up the Chevy and figured by the time I rode the thirty miles out to the Concord Airport it would be light enough to do a little recon.
Once it was light enough, I checked the hangar out from some woods across the lone runway about 400 yards away. No vehicles outside and no signs of anything going on inside. After finally getting close enough to peek through the hangar’s window, I had an idea so I called DeWayne to run it by him. He said he could handle it and went on to tell me about his Desert Storm exploits. He didn’t laugh when I told him he had to check that ghost face killa stuff.
As I was leaving the airport I wondered just how much I should tell Detective Ronnie Dunn when he calls me today. I’m pretty sure that the Concord Airport isn’t in his jurisdiction anyway. I’d hate for Shaft to get killed because I called the cops in. Before I could decide what to tell Dunn, he was on the phone. To stall a little I asked him to meet me for coffee at the diner in front of the Speedway on Highway 29.
It was about 10am when Dunn showed up at the diner. He proceeded to tell me what he and the Michigan detectives knew about the case. Not much really. CK, the Frothy’s bartender who got capped didn’t get a look at who did it. Must have been the same guys that shot at DeWayne, though. Four shots at CK, and only one flesh wound to his thigh.
By now, I had decided not to tell Dunn about the meeting to get Shaft back that afternoon. And, I was not surprised when he told me they had no leads on him or his daughter. They did, however, learn the daughter’s name was Pennae. These guys are good. As we walked to our cars, Dunn told me that he’d stay in touch and if I heard anything to let the cops handle it. Alrighty then.
As soon as Dunn left I called DeWayne and told him where I was so he could come by and go over the plan. Turns out, he and Pennae were at the airport parking lot waiting for me. I hurried back there and got Pennae to follow me around to the wooded area across from the runway. I told her to come back here at 3 o’clock, gave her my binoculars , one of the 9mms, and told her to call 911 at exactly 4:00 to report a large cocaine shipment being unloaded in hangar 11 at Concord Airport.
Pennae left and I drove DeWayne back around to hangar 11. Still no one there, so DeWayne slid a credit card between the door’s striker and catch and pushed it open. I opened the storage bin on a small prop plane and placed the 1100, the other 9mm, the Tazer, and the Mac 10 inside. Then I explained the plan to DeWayne. He was to get in the bin and wait until we were making the swap for Shaft. I would try to maneuver the bad guys around so that their backs were to the plane, and when DeWayne heard me say the word “inconceivable” he would kick out of the bin and get the drop on the bad guys. Seemed easy enough.
I left the airport again and went into Concord to find a Kinkos. Once I found it, I made five copies of Pennae’s disc. They also had a Fed Ex store in Kinkos, so I sent one copy of the disc to each of the four network TV affiliates in Charlotte. I slid the original in my pocket, and asked the teenaged clerk for a manila envelope for the final copy. I wrote, ‘Ronnie Dunn, MPD’ on the envelope, gave the kid a twenty, and told him to keep it behind the counter until Dunn came to pick it up.
It was 3:15 when I began the drive back to the airport. My mind was racing, trying to go over the plan and wondering if I could pull it off. A man’s life might be at stake, and it was up to me to keep him alive. I’ll admit, I was scared. I’d never been trained or involved in anything like this before. Taking pictures of husbands leaving motel rooms was more like my normal duties.
I pulled into the small rural airport at 3:30. As I cruised toward the small parking lot, I noticed a familiar looking white Mercedes among the pickups and SUVs. I also saw a line of about six prop jets waiting to unload their passengers. Two or three of them had racing team logos that I recognized, and one had NASCAR plastered on the tail section.
I drove slowly towards the hangars, and, as I approached hangar 11, I saw the white van parked close to the door. There was also a silver F-250 parked in front of the hangar. I made sure to park so that I couldn’t be blocked in. I checked, one of the Glocks was tucked in my waistband, my .25 was in my front pocket, a scuba knife was held above my ankle by a wristband, while another wristband held a .38 above the other ankle. For some reason I thought about Plaxico Burress and chuckled as I headed for the door.