He had chosen Monday the fifth of July to have the meeting with Jack because no one would be in the office. He'd even contacted the maintenance service people to be sure they didn't show up. For almost six years, he had made no direct contact with Jack when any witnesses might be present. He never allowed Jack to come to his home. On several occasions he'd met Jack in empty apartments in the complexes he owned and he had been in the country with Jack twice. Every time his company had used Jack's services, he'd paid in cash so that all records would show that for almost six years, he hadn't heard from Jack. Of course, the truth of the matter was that Jack worked for him regularly, but their current project could really cause problems for him if Jack were caught and could be traced back to him. He wouldn't really care after July 31st, but for twenty-six more days, everything had to be as smooth as a well-oiled machine.
As he looked over Jack's file he couldn't resist a smile. Jack had been so easy to enlist and then to manipulate. Jack thought of himself as super bright, when in fact he was a stupid redneck. All it had taken to control Jack was cash and occasional flattery... "Jack, you're paramount to this operation. There aren't ten men in the world that could pull off your part. It'll take brains, balls and luck. I just hope your luck is up to it!"
Jack had almost popped a collar button with swelling pride. It had also helped that Jack hated almost everybody, but he was loyal to the hand that fed him.
He flipped open the manila file folder on his desk. The file had dozens of sheets in it, one headed military, another financial, and a packet of several pages marked personal data. There were three photos; two were five-by-seven black and white while the third one was larger and in color.
He turned the personal pages to one that showed an arrest record. Three times Jack's ex-wife had gotten warrants for assault and battery, but all three charges were dropped. There was a fourth arrest with a misdemeanor conviction for sexual battery. Jack had told him that he had been following the wife of a client who was seeing two other men. Jack's story was that he hadn't done a thing to the "broad" but she had accused him of attempted rape, assault, and threatening her with a handgun. Luckily for Jack, there had been no witnesses to corroborate her charges so they had been dismissed in court. But Jack had gotten pushy with her right outside the courtroom, which had lead to the sexual battery charge. That time there had been witnesses. Talk about brains, Jack must have left them in his other pants that day.
The office door opened and the man who entered looked just like the photos in his file, just a little older. Maybe the beginnings of a gut from the beer he loved so well.
The man behind the desk didn't look up but rather motioned toward a side chair.
"Sit down, Jack. I'll be finished here in just a minute."
It was important to let Jack know that he wasn't important enough to interrupt what the boss was doing. Finally the man in charge closed the folder he had been reading from and looked across the desk at his visitor.
"Okay, item one: on 7/21, you begin bringing the 'staff members' to the shelter. With any luck, since the 'staff members' all live alone, no one will realize the first one is missing for a day or two. Given the ability level of local police, no real investigation will start until probably a second 'staff member' disappears. Since that will happen on a Friday, it may be Monday or Tuesday before anyone realizes and another two or three days before the two disappearances are connected, which gets us to Wednesday or Thursday, maybe even Friday. By then you'll be all done and out of the traffic lanes. It's simple, we're employing hit and run tactics just like you learned in the Marines. And don't ever forget that this is a war. And we are going to be the winners."
Jack smiled at that.
"Listen boss, what do you think about keepin' these broads handcuffed or chained to somethin' while they're there?"
"Why, Jack? Each room has a door with a lock."
"Well, I just think that they might need to be broken. You know, break their spirit and they're easier to handle."
"Well, Jack, you do whatever makes you feel good. Just don't cause any permanent damage. There is a valid reason for having this staff put together. I don't want to lose anyone, understand?"
"Sure, whatever you say. But if I'm keepin' valuable cargo, I might want to tie it down to keep it from gettin' damaged."
"Job's simple, Jack. Just get them all there on schedule and in good, useable condition. Now, where are you on surveillance and a plan for how to handle each situation?"
"Well, pretty much I'm ready. I'm gonna' be casin' each apartment in the next coupla days so I can map exit routes and pick the best place to park the van. Have you decided on those Madison girls yet? I know you said yes to the younger one, Jenny. What about her sister Kelly? You know, we need to decide on that soon if we're gonna' finish on schedule."
"I know about the impact on scheduling. I don't want the personal involvement I had with Kelly in the past to be an issue. And that's why we scheduled them last, on the 30th. Even if you were to be caught in the act, there's no way I'd be connected to Kelly quickly enough to cause harm unless you talked. And I know that if there is nothing else in the world to depend upon, I can trust you not to talk E of course, take them both.
"Item two: I will not come to the shelter until Saturday, July 31st. You must procure and store all the medical supplies and food stores on these lists."
He passed Jack two pieces of paper.
"Get all the supplies out there by July 16th. Over that following weekend, the 17th and 18th, test all the equipment, fluid and air levels, well pumps and generators and everything must be in perfect working order. On Wednesday the 21st, begin assembling the staff.
"If you have any questions, now is the time to raise them. After you leave here today, I don't want to see you again until August. You can call me here at the office but only during normal office hours, only from a pay phone in the city, so it's a local call, for which you deposit money. You'll use the same alias you've used for the past several years. Do not call more than twice between now and the 21st. Do not call me at all after the first staff member is taken. Now, questions?"
"Nope. I know what's gotta' be done and you can count on me to do it. I understand the need for secrecy, for surprise attack. I already stopped my own phone service. And I'm goin' to my apartment tonight to get my stuff and I'll be movin' in at the shelter right away. I'll only come into town for my pickup project and I'll be gone the same night each time. I know how important this project is and I'm the right man for the job. You can count on that."
"I'm sure of that, Jack. Now, you've got a lot of work to do, so get out of here."
With that, the man behind the desk stood up and Jack, taking this cue as the end of the meeting, rose and left quietly by the side entrance.