Saturday, January 16, 2016

NADIA Picture Tour, Stop 7

Easing over the top edge, Jenna took in everything at a glance. On the far side of the roof, set
up behind the fa├žade, a lone SWAT sniper held a rifle trained on the shop across the street. Three
more cops had spread out on the rooftops of the neighboring buildings: two on the left, one on
the right. She crouched, frozen, until she was sure no one noticed her. Then she stole up behind
the cop, using the rooftop’s air conditioner unit for concealment. As she got closer, she could
hear the radio’s chatter. They were discussing a shot heard from inside the building across the
street. The chatter hid any noise she may have made.

When she came within range, Jenna struck, thirty feet of anaconda in a five-foot package.
Wrapping her arms around the cop’s neck in a sleeper hold, she constricted his throat, cutting off
any cry for help. The struggle was brief, and in seconds, he was unconscious. She grinned as she
fought back the urge to plant a lipstick kiss on his forehead. Men are so easy.

She pulled out the cellphone and called up the number in the memory, hit the dial key, and
put the phone to her ear. “Okay, I’m in position.” She hung up and picked up the rifle, examining
it closely: Winchester, Model 700 action on a military sniper stock. Weaver 12X scope, set for
range and elevation… She eyeballed the distance again, checked the breeze, and corrected the
scope. She took the cop’s hat and set it on her head. Hello, boys, here I am. Just another one of
the guys
. She made sure the phone was set to vibrate, settled the stock into her shoulder, and
waited for the call.

* * * *

This week's entry is another from Unalive, Book 2 in my multi-award-winning thriller series The NADIA Project. And once again, we're here in beautiful downtown Front Royal, Virginia, on a rainy afternoon in November.

To say that Front Royal is "up in the hills" is probably a relative term, as I'm not sure how someone from the area would define "in the hills." But the little town does sit at a higher elevation in an area that's pretty hilly by midwestern standards. So yeah, we're in the hills.

This shot was taken down Main Street, facing west. I was still manic from just being there, and had totally lost track of where I had parked, but sundown was approaching fast, so I figured I'd find it later.

I figure we have one or two more stops on the tour coming, folks. So till next week, I'll sign off. Feel free to share the link to this page. I'd rather not stay  the best-kept secret in the publishing industry. ;-)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

NADIA Picture Tour, Stop 6

Click on the image for more information

Jimmy stood in the middle of Kearny Street and watched the first police car screech around the turn out of a corner of his eye. He stared at the man behind Donna, the man who held a pistol to his friend’s head. A grim smile crossed his face in the light of the street lamp. If I get a chance, you’ll never know what it you.”Here I am, punk.”

“You got a lot of mouth for an old man.” The pistol was steady.
The kid’s pretty cool. “What do you want?”

“I want the NADIA, and a car. I know you’re in this mix somewhere. Get ‘em, I leave, the women live.”

The police car pulled up sideways across the street. Another one blocked the other end. They shared the duty of splattering the area with red and blue lights. Four officers approached up the lane, pistols ready in two-handed grips. Two covered Donna and the man behind her, while the other two approached Jimmy. One of these was a stocky white-haired man with a captain’s bars on his shoulders. When he spoke, his voice was calm and even. “I’m Officer Grimes, Front Royal Police. Show your hands, get ‘em in the air.”

Jimmy raised his hands slowly, palms out. But he remained standing, facing the shadow hunched down behind Donna. The grin never left Jimmy’s face. If he could unnerve this crud, it would give him an edge. And Jimmy needed every edge he could get. He kept grinning in Donna’s direction as he spoke to the police officer. “Officer Grimes, my name is James DeBartolo, and I’m a US marshal. My badge is in my pocket, and my weapon is on the sidewalk behind me.”

“Get on your knees, Mr. DeBartolo. Right where you’re at.” Jimmy sank down, one leg at a time. The grin turned into a grimace as the pavement bit into his knees. “Make it quick, Grimes, the ground’s pretty hard, here, and I ain’t got as much paddin’ as I used to.”

Two more police cars showed up at each end of the street, and the uniformed officers advanced, bolstered in their courage by their numbers. Spotlights trained on Jimmy, and on the storefront, illuminating the whole front office area. Grimes and his deputy stopped twenty feet away, in a position where they could watch both sides of the street. He stood, hips square and feet apart. “Suppose you show me that badge now, Mr. DeBartolo?”

“Okay, I’m gonna reach into my jacket pocket.” Jimmy drew out his wallet and flipped it open, revealing his marshal’s badge. “Badge six-four-five-eight. Call the DC office, ask for—”

“We’ll check it out on our own, thanks.” Grimes spoke into the microphone on his shoulder. An agonizing minute later, Jimmy’s knees felt like they’d been applied to a bench grinder. Grimes spoke to him again. “All right, Mr. DeBartolo, you can stand up.” He turned to his junior partner. “Matt, cover the store front, make sure that boy don’t move. Tell Kenny and Dwayne to cover the back door, and get State to send down a hostage team.”

Jimmy struggled to his feet and hobbled over to stand in front of Grimes. “Officer Grimes, I know this is your town and all, but I’m afraid I gotta pull rank on you here.”

Grimes’ eyebrows rose in surprise. “Pull rank? I’d think you’d rather be kickin’ back with a beer or two and tellin’ war stories to the grandkids.”

“You seen some combat, have you, Grimes?”

“Three tours in the ‘Nam, 82nd Airborne.”

“Then you know what I mean when I say this is classified. It has to stay that way.”

“What are you saying?”

“I gotta do this negotiatin’. No one else can hear what’s up, especially newspaper and TV folks. That includes you. Understand?” Jimmy looked at the empty window frame, at Donna, still standing, the pistol pointing at her wounded head. She looked as if she might fall over from fear and fatigue any second.

The man behind her shouted, “We were talking, old man. You know what I want.”

Jimmy yelled back over his shoulder, “Lemme clear things up out here first, and I’ll be right with you.”

“We’ll be waiting, then.” He began to drag Donna back into the rear office area.

Jimmy held a hand up. “No, wait! I need to make sure we can get you what you’re askin’ for. Stay right there, and we can talk.”

“You didn’t say the magic word, geezer. Later.” Donna disappeared back around the corner and into the conference room, towed by her bulky shadow.

* * * *

The Story Behind The Picture

Stop 6 brings us back to the Downtown area of Front Royal, Virginia.

I arrived in town just after 5:00 PM on a November night. Light was fading fast when I found a parking space, and I had just enough presence of mind to note two landmarks: The laundromat just across the street from where I parked, and the sign for Jackon Sreet. Good enough, right? I mean, it was just a small town, after all. Not like I could get turned around.

I grabbed my phone, put my hood up against the rain, and took off at a run, snapping every shot that looked cool, and I can ell you, Front Royal is a very cool little town. The folks who live there obviously take pride in where they live, as you can see by how clean the streets are, how well kept-up the businesses, and how friendly the citizens are.

Nobody seemed to mind the out-of-town lunatic dashing up and down streets taking pictures (I almost took a shot of the bank, but then I thought better of it. I didn't need an extended stay in town for suspicion, if ya know what ah mean). I think I even muttered, "Oh, my God, this is where it happened!" more than once as I snapped shot after shot until well after dark, when I found a nice cafe to grab some dinner.

I figured I'd go back and move the car closer, so I wouldn't have so far to walk. There was only one problem.

I now had no idea where exactly I'd parked. I had a general idea (You know, "laundromat" and "Jackson Street"), but how exactly to get there was the issue. On top of that, everyone with half a brain was NOT out walking in the rain after dark, so asking for directions wasn't as easy as, say, parking the car.

It took another half hour of wandering aimlessly up and down every street I came across until I found Jackson Street, and then I thought I was on the wrong end of town, so I turned the wrong way, and had to double back after I came to the edge of town and found nothing I recognized.

It was after I came all the way back up Jackson Street when I finally found the rental car (while clicking the remote control door lock every few steps and watching for the flash of the lights).

Half a block from the cafe I'd spotted.

Didn't have to waste the gas after all.

Next week, we'll have some more fun. Meantime, read. Review. Repeat.

God bless you, guys.