PROSECUTORIAL DISCRETION, CHAPTER 13
Jason had crossed over the Missouri river some time ago. He knew, by this time, Adam was most likely worrying as Jason was supposed to be at the safehouse by now. But Jason had to be sure he wasn’t being followed, so he couldn’t be too careful. He was about to arrive at the primary safehouse and deliver Adam’s car to him, and this was a most sensitive point in the mission, something he would not want any surveillance team to see. That is, if there was a surveillance team to be worried about. And, of course, if there was one out there watching him, they would have to have formed up relatively recently, Jason assumed in his paranoid reasoning which was bordering on ridiculous by this point. He figured if there was a team watching them from the very beginning, they wouldn’t have allowed things to get this far, so, therefore, if there was a team watching him, that they must have only recently gotten wise to what was going on.
They wouldn’t just sit back and watch things get this far…..Would they? Jason thought as he again looked in his rear view mirror.
No, if the bad guys are watching me, it must mean they got wind of the kidnapping after it happened. Maybe Sullivan’s wife called the courthouse and things blew up from there.
He looked in his rear view mirror again and noticed that the vehicle that had been in the distance behind him was no longer there.
Don’t take paranoia seriously, come on!
Jason had made several turns since crossing the river and was now well to the northeast of the safehouse where Adam was. He decided that he was confident enough that he wasn’t being followed and that he should now head directly to the safehouse. Only problem was, he was now lost. He hadn’t been using the car’s GPS; they didn’t want an electronic trail showing that Adam’s car had been in Carrolton. But now, with precious time wasting, Jason figured he had no choice but to plug in the city of Carrolton. He’d tell Adam about it; he’d understand. They could just destroy the GPS unit later.
Unless the feds had a tracking device on Adam’s car, Jason thought.
No, no, no; there you go being paranoid again. Ed checked out Adam’s car with the scanner a few weeks ago; no bugs. Ed even used the scanner with the illegal mod job that could pick up 800mhz cell phone frequencies. And that’s the part of the spectrum where the feds would hide that kind of thing…….a part of the radio spectrum civilians weren’t even allowed to listen to. What else would they use – shortwave, longwave, microwave? Come on, let’s be smart about this. There is absolutely nothing to worry about. Besides, if the plan goes to shit, me and Adam are ready to die. And so is Ed; well, so he says he is anyway. And if we die, Sullivan plus a few cops will die as well. We’ll make our point either way.
But I’m still scared; I don’t want to get caught. I don’t want to die.
Shut up, Jason! Quit being such a bitch!
Jason continued his line of thought:
What happened to that cold-hearted killer that cut a guy’s throat on the battlefield, huh? What happened to that bad-ass Marine that didn’t give a shit about his own safety as long as it meant he could go and get some? Hey, we may even get to use those guns Adam’s got in the trunk of this little car. I’m pretty sure he’s got the AR-10 in there; that’ll put a poser-ass SWAT soldier-wannabe in his place……..on the ground!
Once the GPS processed the route and was pointing Jason toward Carrolton, Jason felt relaxed and decided to turn on the car’s CD player. I wonder what Adam’s listening to these days, he thought as he pressed “play.” It was a home made CD, as most are these days, a compilation of various techno and industrial sounding remixes of the “Super Mario Brothers” theme song, mostly the dungeon levels.
“Oh…Kay” Jason said, breaking his silence, figuring the music would cover up his voice in the event there were any hidden microphones in the car. At first he thought Adam’s choice of music a little weird, but he started getting into it a little as he kept checking his rear view mirror and following the GPS’s route back to Carrolton. He turned up the volume a bit and gave the car just a little more gas to make up for the lost time.
Rachel Sullivan stopped pacing back and forth. She had been trying to think back, trying to figure out who Gene must be having an affair with. It wasn’t Erin, and, from piecing things together, she didn’t think it was anyone else from work either.
Maybe a family member of a victim or a defendant, she thought. No, Gene wouldn’t stoop so low, would he?
Rachel got in her car and drove to the nearest convenience store. She did something she hadn’t done in over 10 years; she bought a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. It was a smaller sized “purse pack” of Virginia Slims and a white mini Bic lighter. As soon as she got back in the car she lit one up, not caring if the smell lingered in the vehicle.
Yes, he would, Rachel. Don’t be naive, not anymore. Let’s think this through clearly, now.
When she got home, she went out on the back porch and lit another one. She tried to think about the cases Gene had told her about. She hoped it was just some younger girl busted with a little dope and not someone more mature and respectable. She’d rather Gene was doing it only for sex. If it was only sex, maybe they could hold the marriage together, at least until the kids moved out.
But is Gene really low enough to do that, to fuck some poor female defendant in exchange for………well, yeah, I guess he could do that. But what if it’s a co-worker? What if it’s is someone more mature?
What if he actually loves someone else?!?
Part of her wanted to pick up the phone, call Erin back, and try to get to the bottom of this. And part of her wanted to crumple into a ball, to blame herself for not being a better wife, to blame herself for being so stupid as to not see it coming.
Rachel put out her cigarette on the brick steps of the back porch and went inside the house. She picked up the phone, thought about calling Erin, but decided against it. For the time being, she decided to just sit down at the kitchen table and do a little of the crumpling into a ball thing.
Just for a minute.
Adam finished writing the text of his note, after stopping several times to make revisions. It was sloppy, but he figured Jason could make it out. He dried his sweaty hands on his shirt, took the pen he was using and scrawled some of its ink onto his left index finger. He pressed his inked fingertip onto the paper, just below the note’s main body of text and then signed his name, printed his name, and wrote the date under the fingerprint.
He collected the video camera, tapes and guided Sullivan upstairs to wait with him by the front door.
“C’mon, Jason, you crazy bastard, get here so we can get this shit over with,” Adam muttered to himself.
Finally, after a few more minutes, he saw the car approaching. Jason parked Adam’s car in front of the house, got out, and quickly walked to the front door. Adam opened it before Jason had a chance to reach the doorknob himself.
“Good to see you finally; any trouble?” Adam asked.
“Naw, man, not yet. Thought I was being followed, so I had to take a little detour. Can’t be too sure at this point. You know, a little paranoia here and there can be a good thing. I’ll bet all those folks sitting in jail right now wish they’d been a little more paranoid.” Jason replied.
“All right. Fair enough,” said Adam. Both Adam and Jason had the same look on their faces, wild eyed yet empty, an expression that seemed to say ‘it’s all been said, it’s all been done, except for one more thing.’ Had a normal person seen their faces, their war faces of the exhausted variety, they would have stepped back in avoidance. But Adam and Jason were both in their element; they were warriors focusing on the task at hand.
“Thanks for bringing me my car. Take this note. Get in your car now and get out of here. Read the note in the car, not here. And be careful; be very fucking careful. We’re almost there, but we’re not out of the woods yet. Don’t fuck this up.” Adam said to Jason.
“Roger that.” Jason said.
“Oh, and one more thing. You’ve done a good job, an outstanding job. So far as the blackmail mission goes, I’m promoting you to commander. Get with Ed and take charge. Consult with him, but take charge. You have copies of the texts of the laws and reforms we’re going to push and all that. I trust you can handle it, right?
“Yes, sir.” Jason said.
“I’m saying this because I’m done. I’m done with everything.” Adam said.
Jason simply said, “Alright ; let’s get this thing done then.”
“Go.” Adam said, and Jason ran to his rental car and quickly departed the area.
Ed was driving slowly along route 10, still monitoring the scanner radios and putting up with the occasional hiss of static as his squelch knob was set fairly open so as to pick up weaker transmissions. One of the radios he did have modified illegally to receive the 800 mhz cellular phone signals that American civilians were banned from hearing as government agencies and cell phone companies were the only ones lawfully permitted the privilege. But, for his purposes now, he had that part blocked off from the search/scan programs. No sense in having the thing stop on every phone call going through the nearest tower. He’d only open that part up if he found the interagency and federal frequencies showing activity. And, right now, they weren’t.
Adam still had some doubts in the back of his mind; maybe he’d balk, he thought. He had never killed, in battle or otherwise. He’d never even been hunting. He wanted to die, he needed to die, but he knew from his self-guided psychological studies that killing was not easy. He’d read “On Killing;” he knew of the phenomenon in which soldiers in war would fire over the heads of the enemy, their instincts preventing them from killing another human being. Adam knew that there was difficulty in overcoming the natural human aversion to killing one’s own species.
He knew that the closer the proximity to the victim, the harder it was to do it. It was easier to kill from miles away than it was to kill from hundreds of yards away. And it was easier to kill from hundreds of yards away than it was to kill from yards away. And it was easier to kill from yards away than it was to kill from point blank range. Adam knew all of this stuff, and he didn’t want to overestimate his abilities. “On Killing” described the closest range of killing as “sexual range,” referring to full contact hand-to-hand combat. Adam knew that what he had to do was to kill at even closer range than that.
What Adam had to do was to kill at what could be called “self-range.” But, if he could do it in the way he now knew The Plan called for, he could do the most he could with the crummy, disposable life that he had to give to the cause.
Once he was on a straight away portion of road, Jason picked up the note Adam had given him and unfolded it. He took a look and right away knew it was a suicide note:
“To my fellow S.O.L’ers,
You guys will have to continue the mission without me. We will not be able to meet again. Keep this note in a safe place, with the blackmail tapes, as it will be just about as useful. I am telling you that if, by the end of today, I am dead, then I will have succeeded. My death will only help the mission. Know that if I am dead, and I pray that I find the nerve to do it, that I am dead by my own hand.
I will do my best to make it look like prosecuting Attorney Eugene Sullivan shot me. I will make it look like he is the hero, that he shot me and escaped. If I do this right, I will die with an AK-47 pistol in my hand.
But between the two of you, know the truth: Sullivan is no killer, and he is no hero. The deal will be that Sullivan gets to play the hero so long as he cooperates with us. Or, rather, so long as he cooperates with you two and whomever else you decide to bring into the fold…….three is an ideal number for this kind of thing.
And if Sullivan doesn’t play ball, then, of course, release the videos. And also release this note.
Why am I doing this? Yes, I’m doing it for the cause, but I’m also doing it because I don’t deserve to live life anyway. I made some serious mistakes that cost two lives and ruined one more.
Sullivan made a mistake too, by not enforcing the law in the Garges case. Had we not intervened, of course, Sullivan would have been glad to keep looking the other way in cases of police abuse.
I’m ending my life; Sullivan is getting blackmailed.
Both he and I are getting off easy.
SSgt, U.S.A., FRN 1247
The “FRN 1247” was Adam’s field reporting number, his identification he’d put on his intel reports. He couldn’t muster the nerve to actually articulate the names of the lives his mistake had cost or the details of his error of omission. He’d keep that to himself and trash that memory along with the report he’d deleted. If The Plan went to hell or the note was to be released and investigated, he was pretty sure he’d be dead by then anyway. That he was fairly sure of, but he couldn’t be too sure.
Adam escorted Sullivan on his sore feet into the trunk of his car, Adam made sure to bring the lunchbox containing the needles. He had about a half a dose of heroin left and about a full dose of LSD.
April 27th, 2004 2:00 PM Eastern Time
Jennifer McGinnis and her youngest, Tyler, aged two and a half, were watching “Nick Jr.” on TV. The older children were in school, and Dad was, by now, a charred spinal column and a few pieces of pelvis and skull, recently cooled down from the fire and wet from the water that had been used to put it out.
When she heard the doorbell, she muted the TV and sat there listening carefully. She’d heard the doorbell ring once before since her husband had been activated and deployed. That other time it had been a FedEx package, and it had taken her over half an hour before she had been able to make it to the door and see that it had been only a birthday present for one of the kids. As she sat there this time with the TV muted, she had her ears pricked for voices or for the sound of a truck departing, any sound that could provide a clue as to what was on the other side of the door.
The silence was not good, she thought, as she counted in her head, waiting for a second ring of the bell and hoping not to hear it.
One, two, three, four, five,……fifteen.
Jennifer was up from the couch and had Tyler in her arms. Her eyes were on the front door when she heard the second ring of the bell.
She was now pretty sure there were Soldiers on the other side of the door. If they were in camouflage utility uniforms, that would mean they were there to announce
that her husband had been seriously injured. If they were in dress uniforms, that meant they were there to announce that her husband had been killed.
“Noo!! Nahaho!!” she screamed. Tyler began screaming as well. She held him tightly as she slowly walked toward the door. But she really didn’t want to know what was on the other side, so she stopped. As long as she didn’t see them, she could tell herself that the worst had not happened, that the Soldiers on the other side of the door were in utility uniforms and not dress uniforms.
“Go away!! Go away!!’ she yelled. She ran through the small house, trying to find the point in the house furthest from the front door, which was the bathroom. She was sobbing, by now realizing that had this been only an injury notification, then the soldiers at the door would have let her know such by now. No, they had to be there for one reason and one reason only.
Tyler was panicked; he’d never seen Mommy cry so hard. She was gasping for air, crying much harder than he was. She was sitting on the edge of the bathtub, still holding him tightly, pressing his head against her shoulder.
“No Mommy cry! No Mommy cry,” he said to her as she held him.
Jennifer tried to pull it together a little, if only for Tyler’s sake. She got up with him and tried again to walk toward the door. She got to the peephole and looked through to see two Army officers in dress uniforms.
“Naaho! Naaho!” she screamed again, gasping for air and backing up against the wall. She accidentally bumped Tyler’s head against the wall in the process, and he momentarily got quiet as he drew in a breath. Jennifer slowly collapsed onto the floor, being as careful as she could with her young son in her arms.
Before Tyler could catch his breath and start crying again in pain, Jennifer managed to apologize to him, saying, “Mommy’s sorry. Mommy’s so sorry, sweetie.”
Mommy’s sorry for bumping your head. Mommy’s sorry for letting your dad join the National Guard. Mommy’s so sorry. Mommy can’t tell you how sorry she is.
Between gasps for air, Jennifer managed, for now to get a couple more words out.
With Sullivan fetal in the trunk, squeezed against the nylon gun cases holding one of Adam’s high powered rifles, Adam sat in the driver seat and inserted the key into the ignition. He knew the mission was almost over, and the number of decision points remaining was low and dwindling. As he thought about going ahead and turning the ignition, he stopped and decided to pick up the lunchbox from the passenger seat. He opened it; there was a full dose of LSD and a half dose of heroin remaining. He picked up the needle marked “L.”
This time, he didn’t bother with a tourniquet. He figured he was cheating enough by injecting the drugs and that he didn’t deserve to make it any easier on himself by making the vein easier to find. He took off his suit jacket and put it on the passenger seat, completely obscuring the AK pistol, which was also there, within easy reach now. Adam stabbed the needle around in the area where he knew his forearm’s vein was. As he did so, he remembered the ride back from the ambush site in Samarrah, he remembered when he first put two and two together and realized he’d made a fatal error in judgment that day. He remembered how, on the ride back to base, he’d so hoped that another IED blast would hit his vehicle and put him out of his misery.
Ed parked in his Cherokee in the parking lot of a small grocery store on route 10 just to the west of a town called Hardin. This was along the route between safehouse 1 and safehouse 2, and The Plan called for Ed to wait there until he saw Adam’s car pass by before using one of his disposable cell phones to make a deceptive communication ploy before getting out of dodge.
Andy Sullivan and the rest of the junior varsity football team had just finished their usual warm up exercises and were gathering up to listen to their head coach speak.
Andy wasn’t really having too much fun, and being on the team was mainly his dad’s idea. He was disciplined though, and making his dad proud was one of his major motivations for applying himself and listening to what the coach had to say.
His other reason for applying himself on the field was on the other side of a fence but still very much within his sight. Her name was Paige, and she and Andy briefly made eye contact before she and the rest of the junior varsity cheer squad got into formation for a drill.
“Eyes over here, on me!” Andy’s coach said. He was speaking to the whole team, but his admonition was directed at Andy in particular, who was, by now, watching Paige get tossed into the air.
“I don’t care what’s going on over there or anywhere else. The most important thing going on right here, right now, are the words coming out of my mouth. Do you boys understand that?!” the coach asked loudly.
“Yes, sir,” replied the team in unison.
As Jason crossed the Missouri river after having read Adam’s note, he began to let what he had read sink in. He began to fully process the fact that his best friend and trusted confidant was going to kill himself, or, at the very least, let himself die on some situation or another. And, from the tone of the note, it appeared that he might be doing it in the very near future.
“Bastard could have left me some of his money or at least given me part of his gun collection first!” Jason said to himself. Jason remembered that Adam kept some “emergency” guns in the trunk of his car.
The least he could have done was give ‘em to me back at the house…..unless maybe he was planning on using them in some kind of attack against the highway patrol or the local SWAT team.
But, then, if that was what he was going to do, why didn’t he invite me to the party. I ought to rate at least an invite, damnit!
Jason was not 100% numb to the fact that his best friend would soon be dead, but, for now, Jason was mainly trying to decide whether or not to try and link back up with Adam, perhaps just to get the rifles from Adam’s car, perhaps to join him in whatever he was about to do.
But it was just plain curiosity and the desire for excitement and intense experience that prompted Jason to start looking for a place to turn the rental Malibu around.
Adam wasn’t sure he’d found the vein, but after inflicting a few well-deserved needle stabs on his arm, he decided to go ahead and push the plunger down anyway, sending a full dose of LSD into the muscular tissue of his arm near the joint.
He then pulled the needle out and put it back in the lunchbox. He turned the ignition and began driving on his way to the decoy safehouse with Sullivan in the trunk.
He didn’t really notice the acid take effect. He was already in a state of mind in which he fully understood and appreciated who he was and his role in the world. There was only one question that remained in his mind: could he pull the trigger with the barrel pointed at his own head?
As he pondered this question, his driving became purely automatic. He kept his eyes focused on the road ahead of him; he knew what turns to take. He knew to keep it at the speed limit; he knew to keep his eyes peeled for cops. He realized that he must be in a mental zone similar to that of martial arts experts, executing moves automatically, without thinking about it, their minds clear of distraction and chatter. Adam’s sense of self merged almost completely with The Plan and all of it’s grisly details, some of which he was just now becoming aware of.
But his questioning of his abilities to kill at self-range still remained, he knew. As he neared the spot along route 10 where Ed was parked, Adam started doing a little mantra meditation so as to try to talk himself into pulling the trigger and sending a bullet into his own skull once the mission was over and not a minute later. He said to himself, in his head, “Kill, kill, kill..” and kept repeating the word. It helped to clear his mind some more, but the word did activate certain reference points in Adam’s mind as it reverberated like a pinball bouncing back and forth hitting all the points it could.
“Kill, kill, kill…” he started saying aloud softly and monotonously.
I’m not crazy. I’m just doing some mantra meditation with my eyes open.
Ed saw Adam’s car pass by, so he got out of his SUV and went into the store. He had to have some plausible reason for being there at this point. If it came to it, the investigators would not just accept that he was there in the parking lot hanging out. He waited in line at the register; he’d buy a pack of cigarettes. His reason for doing this out here and not closer to home – he was out scouting new territory to bow hunt. There was public land nearby.
But the investigation wouldn’t get that far, Ed figured. No way Sullivan would let the video see the light of day.
Adam then started saying his mantra a little louder, with a little more force as he pushed his mind to focus completely on the mission, The Plan, and his role within it.
“Kill, kill, kill….” he ordered himself.
I’m probably sounding like Jason and his DI’s in boot camp or something like that, huh? Adam thought.
“Kill! Kill! Kill!” he ordered himself even louder.
Adam, we just might be getting to that place where we want to be now!
“Kill!….Kill!…..Killl!…..KILL!!…..KILL!!……..KILL!” Adam screamed at himself at the top of his lungs, contorting his face and turning it red.
Kill! Kill! Kill! He thought, not thinking of much else.