In the Silence

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CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

Just like last fall, David and Paul were headed up the steep gravel road on Mt. Antero. But this time, it was David who had something to confess. Stopping the truck in front of the gate he said, "Paul, I've got something to tell you."

"What's that?"

"I keep having this terrible thought about not getting our medical records straightened out. If after you die, I used your name, the Department would think David McIntosh died and quit looking for me. I wouldn't even have to worry about my Dishonorable Discharge, because I would use your embellished military record. And I feel guilty about having these thoughts."

"David, it's hard to help from having certain thoughts. It would be kind of a weird twist of fate though. How would you use my identity as a priest?"

"I don't know. I haven't worked out the details. It's just that these ideas keep popping into my head. You know how it is, when something keeps bouncing around in your head — you know it's wrong but you keep thinking about it anyway."

"I know exactly what you mean," said Paul, now staring out the truck window. "Anyway, let's get these guys on tape and then you won't have to worry about your name."

"Paul, I'll still have to worry. I've left out two important items about what I did to the Department." David swallowed hard. "I embezzled a lot of money from Mr. Henderson. And I put a virus into their computer system."

"David, you should have told me all this. So the money is the real reason they're looking for you?"

"No, it couldn't be. I didn't steal the money till after they blew up my home. I took it because they owed me. It was my way of getting even."

"So the computer virus is why they're after you?"

"That couldn't be it neither. I did send the virus to them from right here over their data-line. But that was way after, I knew they were after me. They'd already even, a, a, questioned Marcea."

"David, it doesn't add up. What are they looking for? And why'd they blow up your home?"

"I don't know. I've been over it a thousand times. If the Clipper Chip was that important, they wouldn't have chanced destroying it."

Paul rubbed his chin. "It looks like planting the bug is a good idea. Hopefully, we'll find out what's behind this whole Department of Statistics," said Paul opening the door.

At the concrete radio building David tried his key. "They've changed the lock. I'll go get something to pry it off with."

Paul walked to the edge of the cliff, the same spot he had stood thanking God for helping him think to build the fire that kept David from freezing. Paul looked out into the valley and hills below, awe-struck once again by the beauty.

After digging out the tire iron from under the seat, David noticed Paul next to the cliff and walked over to him. "Sure is beautiful, isn't it?"

"It surely is. Last time I stood here, I prayed that you and my father would forgive me."

Last time I stood here I was gasping for air. That was after you kicked me in the chest. Remember how you compared my living with Marcea to your own past?"

"Yes, and I'm sorry about that. I didn't mean for it to come out like that. I was just trying to explain adultery in the early Christian context."

"Hey, I know that, Paul. I was the guy that charged you. You don't have anything to be sorry for. And between you and me, I've lead a celibate life since that day. But I don't know if I want to thank you for that," David half-laughed.

Paul grinned. "Thanks, David. And I don't know what to tell you about your new found celibacy, except that after five years or so it gets easier."

"Great," replied David, now with a frown. "I'd better get things hooked up."

"I'll stay out here," said Paul.

David walked to the steel door of the bunker and put the tire iron through the loop on the lock. Pushing up with all his strength, the heavy duty chrome-hardened lock wouldn't give. He needed something with more leverage and while looking around, he noticed Paul was now kneeling with the palms of his hands turned upward. There was an ambiance in the air. David bowed his head to pray. Thank you, God. Please help us. And take care of Paul. If I get out of this, I will . . .

Paul turned around. "David, do you need something?"

Caught off guard David raised his head. "Yeah, I'm looking for something bigger to pry the lock off with. Or maybe both of us are strong enough to break it?"

"Let's give it a try." Together they pulled and pushed, but the lock would not budge. "Here, hold the iron in the lock," said Paul. Then with a small yell, Paul brought his hand down on the tire iron with a Karate chop. Two more times he hit the steel bar; the lock did not give.

"Stop it." David yelled. "How can your hand take the pain?"

"I can't feel a thing. This is the arm that got wounded in Vietnam. I have no feeling in it."

"Well, stop anyhow! You're going to break your hand."

"Let me try one more time." Paul raised his left arm high over his head and delivered a powerful blow. The lock snapped open.

Once inside, David open his laptop computer and connected it to the terminal board. Paul stood in the doorway moving his fingers and checking for damage. Then he looked over David's shoulder.

David typed: IS ANYBODY THERE?

In a millisecond the message appeared on every monitor at the Department of Statistics. An ATF specialist typed back: IS THIS DAVID MCINTOSH?

YES. I WANT TO MAKE A DEAL.

WHAT KIND OF DEAL DO YOU WANT? OKAY IF CALL YOU DAVID?

YOU CAN CUT WITH THE DAVID STUFF. I KNOW YOU WILL BE TRYING TO STALL ME. BY THE TIME YOU GET UP HERE I WILL BE LONG GONE. HERE'S THE DEAL. I AM LEAVING YOU THE CLIPPER CHIP ALONG WITH MY COMPUTER THAT HAS A COPY OF THE UNCOMPILED VERSION OF THE VIRUS THAT I DOWNLOADED TO YOU.

WHY DON'T YOU COME IN AND TALK WITH US? WE WILL NEED YOUR HELP REMOVING THE VIRUS.

I'LL CALL YOU ON FRIDAY AND TELL YOU HOW TO PULL THE FILE OFF MY HARD DRIVE. IF ANYONE TAMPERS WITH IT BEFORE, THE PROGRAM WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE ERASED.

HOW DO WE KNOW YOU HAVEN'T BOOBY TRAPPED YOUR COMPUTER?

David didn't have a response. What if they x-rayed the computer looking for a bomb and found the remote transmitter? It was too late to make new plans. David yanked the plug out of the terminal and turned around. "Paul, let's test this thing and then get out of here. It will take them at least two hours to get up here."

"Okay, what do you want me to do?"

"I'm going to go down the mountain a ways to find a good place to listen from. Just keep talking."

"Okay. Are you going to test the tape recorder now?"

"No, not yet. First I'm going to take that dirt bike in the back of the truck. I want to get off the road and hunt around for a good reception spot, out of sight in the trees. Give me twenty minutes, then get in the truck and drive back to the motel. I'll meet you there."

Paul watched David unload the dirt bike, then put the receiver in his pocket and the ear-piece in his ear. "David, if you can hear me, shake your arm." David lifted his arm and shook it as he rode off.

Paul took two steps in toward the computer and started talking. "David, I don't really know what to say. I could do one of my sermons but you probably had enough of that last night. The last time I was in this building I thought you might freeze to death. I prayed. Then I found the diesel fuel to build a fire. Last fall when I was flying out here to see you, I was having some of those mind invading thoughts, like the one you were telling me about using my identity. My thought was that if the plane would crash and end my life, all my problems would be solved. But you know, David, if that would have happened. I would have died in misery. Now with all that has happened with my father and you, I can pass on in peace. Although if I had one last hope, it would be that somehow, through my ministry, I've inspired someone to preach the word of God." Paul paused and stepped out the door to listen for the motorcycle.

It took a few moments for Paul to think of more to say. He went back inside and started talking toward the computer again. "The relationship with my father is the best we've ever had. And you, David, always treated me like more than a friend. It is almost as though we are of the same blood. I've always thought of you as my brother. I cannot tell you how much your words over the last two days have meant to me. I don't want this to change. Its been like when we were just kids, when life was fun and uncomplicated." Paul paused for a long time.

"David, I have one last favor to ask of you. When I get ill again and this dreaded disease starts to chip away at my body, please do not come to see me when I'm that close to the end. What we talked about driving here is how I want you to remember me. Those last few days of passing through may be more than I want you to deal with. But rest assured, the doctors will make me as comfortable as possible. And don't worry about me. I've found the love of Jesus. I trust God will send the power of the Holy Spirit in my last hours. God has brought me to this very moment. We can't lose sight that He is in control and . . ."

David stopped the dirt bike. That's strange I can't already be out of range.

"Sorry David. I told you I wouldn't give you another sermon. I just ran out of things to say. I can sing if you want. Just kidding. How about if I read the warning labels off the equipment in here? Wait a second. I hear something."

Outside the bunker Paul cupped his hand to his ear. It was a sound he had heard many times in Vietnam. Now at the edge of the cliff Paul saw two helicopters making a beeline right toward the site. He ran back inside. "David, take cover! There are two helicopters flying in from the east! It looks like they are headed here."

David kick-started the dirt bike and rode off the road under the canopy of some big pine trees. When he shut off the bike, he could hear the thumping of the helicopters' blades beating the air. A minute later one of them made a sweep down the mountain road, passing so close David could read the ATF letters on the jacket of an agent behind the side-mounted machine gun. The trailing gust of wind blew up a cloud of dust and debris. David wiped his eyes, then pushed the earpiece back into his ear and listened. The second helicopter was winding down, having just landed up at the radio site.

"David McIntosh! This is the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms! We know you are in that concrete bunker. Come out with your hands in the air!"

David's heart pounded and he could hardly breathe as he listened. Paul, say something. Tell me what's going on. Damn it! I should have showed him the gun in the truck. I've got to get up there . . . David kicked the starter on the dirt bike but when it didn't start he jumped off and ran.

While on the mountain road David heard the helicopter making a return sweep so dove behind a rock outcropping. The dust and debris scattered again. Running back up the road, David only made it about two hundred yards before he saw both the helicopters raise fly off in a southeast direction. As he rounded the last corner, his side ached and his head was ready to explode. Trying not to gasp for air, he sneaked up on the passenger side of the truck, then quietly opened the door and retrieved the 9-mm Luger from the gymbag. Hunched over, David worked toward the back of the truck and crawled into the bed. Laying on his back, he took a deep breath, pulled the slide back, jumped to his feet and used the top of the cab for a gun rest. His finger tightened on the trigger as he panned the site.

There was no sign of anyone. The door on the concrete bunker was still open. David jumped from the truck; the gun pointed and went inside. They got Paul. My computer and Clipper Chip are gone too. David sprinted to the truck threw the gun onto the seat and tore off down the mountain road. Twice he almost plummeted off the sides due to his rapid descend. David hit the brakes, skidding in the loose gravel where the mountain road met Highway 24. He shoved the gearshift into park, shut off the truck and beat the steering wheel with his fist. Damn it. How can I help Paul? I don't know where the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms is located. The helicopters flew off to the southeast. I could drive in that direction and listen to the receiver. No, that'll never work, I'd have to be within a mile. Mr. Henderson had a P.O. Box in Pueblo maybe they're taking Paul there. But a P.O. Box won't do me any good. Wait a second . . . David reached over for the gymbag, dumped out the cash, and found the motel piece of stationery on which he had written down Kirk Smith's address. David turned south and sped off toward Pueblo, Colorado.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just past 2:00 David was quickly inspecting the mailboxes in front of a condominium complex. Kirk Smith's name was on number six. David parked, slipped the gun into his belt, went to the door, simultaneously beat on it and rang the bell. When nobody answered, David twisted the knob, hit the door with his shoulder and realized it was dead bolted. I have to get inside. There's got to be an address or something showing where Kirk works.

David went around back of the condominiums, climbed over the fence, and tried the sliding glass door. It had a board in the track. Pulling the gun from his belt, he used the handle on the sliding door, but it wouldn't break. Leaving the patio, David started searching the flower beds for large rock but instead noticed a crawl hole. Pulling off the board, David scampered in under the building and spotted a large flexible return air vent. He wrapped his arms and legs around the vent tubing and broke it loose from the return air vent. The light from the room shone down through the grill. David pushed the air vent cover off and stuck his head up through the floor. He listened for a moment, at the end of a hallway before twisting and squeezing through the opening.

The first door he opened was Kirk's bedroom. There was a yellow and black fake leopard bedspread bunched up on a waterbed and mirrors every where. The second room had some exercise equipment, a gun cabinet, and a desk. David sifted through papers and junk mail in the desk. The old paycheck stub was no help — the payer was listed as the Federal Department of Treasury, Washington, D.C. Nothing had Kirk's work address. Out in the front room David spotted a library of videos stamped PROPERTY OF U.S. GOVERNMENT. Maybe these training tapes have an address on them. Scanning through the VHS tapes, his eyes locked on the one that had MARCEA handwritten over the government label. David turned on the television, loaded the tape into the VCR, and hit PLAY.

What popped onto the screen was titillating. Marcea was stripping in a corner on a old gray stripped mattress. One of her breasts was already exposed. The amateurish way the video was made, along with her hiding her face from the camera, somehow heightened the erotic show. This is the film Marcea told me about. I can tell she put up a real struggle. But I was right, she enjoyed it. In his own sick way David was actually excited by what he was watching, despite knowing he should shut it off and destroy the tape. I'll just watch it once from the beginning. David hit REWIND.

The VCR clanked when the tape had rewound to the start. David hit PLAY and sat back in a chair. The beginning of the tape had Marcea sitting in a chair at a table in some sort of cleaning supply room. David increased the volume on the TV. although he couldn't see the person, he heard a voice threatening Marcea with harm to Ann and Danny. Then a big fat arm came into the picture and slapped Marcea across the face. Next the same hand tore away the top of her leotard exposing her breast. Marcea hunched over in effort to cover herself and David could see handcuffs cutting into her fragile wrists. That same hand yanked her head back up, continuing to grill her. "I don't believe you. Nobody lies to Jack Luther Henderson. You're just trying to cover for your boyfriend. That story about David being someplace in Oregon is a lie. Now tell me where he is, you stupid bitch!"

David jumped up, wanting to hit STOP, but he didn't. The whole horrendous ordeal was there on the video — Kirk's forcing her to take off the rest of her clothes and dance for the camera, the continued threats of harm to her children, the anguish on her face. Marcea had not lied.

The video ended, snow filled the screen, and David sat back in the chair. He pulled the gun from his belt. Kirk had to die. The fear on Marcea's face was branded to the inside of his skull. David knew he never again would be able to look into her big brown eyes; what she had endured because of him was beyond forgiveness. Killing Kirk wasn't going to change the past, but somehow it would even the score for David. Every minute that ticked off intensified his determination to unload the whole clip into Kirk.

Just past 5:00 David heard the sound of a car door, then a key in the lock. His finger tightened on the trigger. But when the door opened, David's finger relaxed! A woman stood in the door and seeing the gun pointed at her, started screaming. David jumped from the chair, yanked her into the room, then stuck his head out the doorway to assure himself there was no one else. Slamming the door David grabbed her from behind and put his hand over her mouth. "Quit screaming and I'll let you go. It's Kirk I want." He held the woman in the center of the room for almost five minutes before she quit shaking. David took his hand away from her mouth and asked. "Who are you?"

"I...I...I'm Cindy. I'm, the Human Resource Manager and work in the same building as Kirk. He told me to come over tonight or else." She was dressed in a maroon two-piece business suit, and would have looked very professional if not for her stuttering and then collapsing to her knees in the middle of the room.

"Or else what?" asked David.

"Or...or... else he would show my husband the tapes he has made of me."

"Who is this Kirk Smith?"

"He works in Security and operates the computers in the basement of the Government Printing Office where I work. It is all high security stuff. Nobody in the building is really sure of what goes on down there." "Where's this Government Printing Office?"

"Right here in Pueblo. You know, it's the place that offers the public free government information."

"How do you get there? Could you draw me a map?"

"Sure. But what's the gun for?"

"I'll need it to rescue my friend from Kirk and a Mr. Henderson. I'll kill them if I have to!"

Cindy got up off the floor. "I'll show you where that slime ball works. I'm not sure about Mr. Henderson but I know the elevator they use."

"Good." David went over to the VCR and ejected the tape.

Cindy followed, searched the library of tapes and found three with her name. "I'm taking these." She went out the door, opened the trunk of her compact sports car, threw the tapes in and then followed David to his truck.

It was about a twenty minute drive to the Government Printing Office complex, enough time for David to explain his plan to Cindy.

"This is the building?" David asked as they pulled into the parking lot.

"Yes. A lot of people work on the underground three floors. But, like I was telling you, I don't know what the Department of Statistics really does. It's all top secret. You can't even get down there without a special card to operate the elevator."

David parked, turned on the remote receiver, put the earpiece in, but got nothing but static. When David got out of the truck and walked closer to the building he could hear weak, distorted voices. It sounded like Paul! David ran back to the truck. "Can you get me inside that building?"

"Sure. But you won't be able to get past the metal detectors with that gun."

"That doesn't matter right now. I think my friend is in the basement. The sound is all distorted because the ground is blocking off the signal."

Cindy opened the door and as David tossed the gun under the seat, he grabbed the boombox from behind it. They hurried across the parking lot into the building. Cindy wrote her name on a clipboard while explaining to the security guard that David would be helping her move office equipment. The guard hardly looked up from the book he was reading. As soon as they got onto the elevator David put the earpiece back in and now could hear perfectly, but it wasn't Paul. The elevator door opened onto the fourth floor. David followed Cindy down a hall and into her office.

Still listening to his receiver he heard, "What is it that the Department of Statistics does exactly?" That's Paul's voice! Thank God. I bet he's trying to draw out incriminating information.

At Cindy's desk David pulled the earphone jack from the receiver and heard the voices from the small built in speaker. Then he positioned the pink boombox facing the receiver and hit REC. "In the late seventies I came on board. Then the Department of Statistics was a left over Department from the Vietnam era, a two-man operation, myself and Mr. Henderson. All we were to do was compile statistics. We both knew it was only a matter of time before our positions would be phased out. But then I joked about a scheme to blackmail the auto industries. Remember that whole metric system scam? I created it. Mr. Henderson got millions of dollars from the three major auto makers and we used that revenue to built the Department. Then Kirk Smith came on board for security and to set up a computer data base. That's about the time Mr. Henderson discovered that we could control what people thought and even how they voted by changing the statistics. Seven years ago we tapped into a wire service and started putting out whatever statistics or poll results we wanted. We also control all the free information the government gives out. Nobody ever checks the facts and . . ."

Cindy sat in amazement over what she was hearing; everything now made sense — why employees who disputed any of the facts or statistics they distributed lost their jobs, the several mysterious accidents over the years. Pulling open a drawer on her desk, Cindy found her own dictation recorder and turned it on.

Meanwhile down in the cleaning supply room Scott had been ordered to stand guard until Mr. Henderson returned from the ATF office in Denver. They thought they had the infamous David McIntosh and Paul didn't disclosed to them who he really was. Right from the beginning Paul could tell Scott disapproved of what was going on and Paul started baiting him, hoping that David was recording them. "Has the Department ever killed anybody?"

"I never have. But I did overheard Mr. Henderson yelling at Kirk about the poor job he did on Senator Brian Buck's plane. And I'm sure those two tampered with the brakes of a fellow employee's car. He and his teenage son were killed." Scott paused, swallowed hard, then continued. "They made me help blow up your home. I thought we burned up the woman you were living with along with her children," Scott said, his voice breaking up.

"Scott, I can tell you are very troubled with what the Department has been doing. May I ask why you continue?"

"I tried to get out when I found out about the Senator. That's when Mr. Henderson threatened to let Kirk have his way with my wife. I thought Kirk would even do something to my daughter. I was going to kill myself but I didn't know what would happen to my family. They even gave my son a loaded gun for Christmas and we almost had a tragic accident. Mr. Henderson manipulates people to do evil; nobody can stop him. He has the whole ATF bureau tricked. His power lies in so few people knowing that he exists. Somehow he makes people discern wrong for being right. Now he owns me; I have to do whatever he wants."

"You're wrong about the last part," injected Paul. "Nobody owns anyone. There's no excusing your actions by blaming another. Whatever you continue to do with the Department is your own decision, nobody else's. If you want to do the right thing, then you should leave right now and go to the authorities."

"You don't think I want to do that?" yelled Scott. "What would I tell them? What proof do I have? Mr. Henderson would convince them I was the perpetrator. I would end up in jail, unable to protect my family."

"Scott, sometimes you have to make that sacrifice. Some people go to prison for just marching for what they believe in. One brave man can stand and turn the tide on evil. Scott, you can be that one brave soldier that can take a stand against Mr. Henderson."

Scott grinned. "You're almost as clever as Mr. Henderson. You don't think I can tell what you're up to? All you want to do is use me to free yourself."

"Scott, I am free. I've done a lot of wrong in my life. But I asked God to be in my life years ago; that's when I became sovereign. You see, Scott, ultimate freedom lies with God not without Him. Think of life in terms of eternity. When Kirk and Mr. Henderson get back, they can do whatever they want to me, even put a bullet into my brain. But they will never take my soul. Scott, God is here, in this room, wanting to free you. All you have to do is become that soldier — trust in Him."

Six stories above the tape stopped. "Do you have any blank cassette tapes?" David asked Cindy.

Cindy's own dictation recorder had run out hours ago. She looked through her desk but found nothing. Leaving the office, she returned with two more mini cassettes and loaded one into her Dictaphone. "We have about twenty more minutes of record time. Don't we have enough to call the police, now?" she asked David.

"It's too risky to call. You go to the authorities. I'll continue recording. I still need some hard evidence on Kirk and Mr. Henderson. Drive to the police station, try to find somebody you can trust, and make sure the ATF doesn't find out. Hurry!"

Downstairs Scott stopped pacing and went to the door. "You're right, I'm going to do it." Despite twisting the locked doorknob with all his strength, he couldn't budge it. Scott searched the storage shelves and found an old wooden handled knife and tried lifting the hinge pins, they were welded in. Frustrated, Scott tossed the knife on the table, grabbed a heavy metal mop bucket, lifted the bucket high over his head, slammed it down on the door knob and it broke off.

Scott was looking through the hole where the doorknob used to be when Paul picked the knife off the table and crept over behind Scott. "Here try prying the latch out now."

Scott dug out the latch with the knife but the door still wouldn't open. "It looks like that pervert Kirk has another lock on the door. God only knows what he does with that video camera and mattress in the corner."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Video camera and mattress. I bet that's the room they had Marcea in. Although David squeezed his eyes trying to erase that unforgettable look on Marcea's face, the image only intensified. I'll never be able look at Marcea again. I should have believed her. As soon as I get Kirk on tape I'm going to break him in half with my own hands.

David then heard Paul's voice over the receiver "I don't think we can get out."

"What do you think we should do?" asked Scott.

"My suggestion would be to pray."

Scott turned from the locked door and looked squarely at Paul. "I know you're dressed in priest's garb but we need more then prayer right now."

"Scott, remember life is eternal. We should pray for God's grace and salvation right to the end."

"How can I be saved? I have done so much wrong. I used to pray but haven't since everything went wrong with the Department."

"That's the time you should have prayed more. Let's pray now." Paul knelt and made the sign of the cross. "God could be calling us home. We should ask his for forgiveness."

"I can't be forgiven. My sins are too . . . "

"Too what? God wants to forgive those sins. His love is so great. Don't forget how Jesus forgave the criminal who hung on the cross next to him. Tell me your sins — God will hear them."

Such a feeling a serenity came over Scott that he fell to his knees and confessed all his sins. When he finished Paul raised his hand in front of Scott, making the sign of the cross Paul said. "Cleanse my brother of all his faults, strengthen him with the love of Jesus, and fill him with the power of the Holy Spirit."

At that moment Scott went through a spiritual metamorphoses, feeling if something had leaped out of him. Now all he had to do was accept God's gift. Ultimate freedom was now laid before him. He bowed his head and said, "I give myself to you, God."

The same sanctifying grace that was now overtaking Scott flowed into the miniature microphone through the air, up and out the receiver into David. The power was present, throughout the building. David stopped the tape and hit REWIND.

Just as the tape had rewound, David heard a key in a lock and the squeaking of a door opening. He looked up at the office door then realized the sound was coming through the receiver. He started the tape again. "So this is the infamous David McIntosh." Mingling with the sound of the door shutting blared a deep voice. "Scott what happened to the door knob? I hope you two weren't planning an escape. Did you get him to show you what file he has the computer virus hidden on?"

"Not yet, Mr. Henderson. I have been trying . . . but I don't think he knows it, or how to use the computer."

"What do you mean he doesn't know how to use the computer? David McIntosh is a computer wizard!"

"Oh, I didn't mean that. I mean, it probably slipped his mind, or something like that." Scott said evasively.

Mr. Henderson sat at the table, staring Paul up and down. "David, the priest disguise is a nice touch. I could use you here at the Department. Maybe after you show us how to remove the virus, we can work something out."

"My soul is not for sale," Paul spouted.

"I can buy or have anything. Everybody and everything has a price; it's just a matter of bartering. Maybe you want me to find that tramp you are shacked up with. Then we will put a price on her, or maybe the children. And then . . . "

"And then what? You going to kill her, like Senator Brian Buck? Or maybe tamper with some brakes!" Paul injected, trying to manipulate Mr. Henderson into incriminating himself.

"They were just pawns, a fair price to build a great society. All great leaders know this. What I'm about to accomplish will go down in history as the rebuilding of a weakening world. I will be known by all as the greatest."

"And what will bring you to this greatness?"

"I will control the population growth of the world by exterminating the old and unfit. My plan will be to first assist the most terminally ill to die, then the old who are a financial burden on society, then the retarded and misfits. I, will 'put down' all the prisoners, like we do lame horses. When I am through, the world will thank me. Only the strong will survive; the worthy will inherit the earth. In history, I will be known to man as the greatest leader this world has ever known."

"There is one major fault with your plan. You are not Jesus. He will always be known as the greatest leader in history. Even if you don't believe in God, history has proven that Jesus's teachings have moved more people in this world than any other man. To top it off your plan contrasts with his Father's laws, and you cannot fight God."

"Who is your God? Tell me how he is going to help you!"

"My God is the alpha and the omega, the Father of the universe, the one who wrote the ten laws given to us by Moses. The one that sent his Son to die for all men."

"I know the God of you Christians," Mr. Henderson argued. "The one that flooded the earth and destroyed man, The God in whose name men kill each other. I have read your Bible front to back, and if He exists, I have chosen his promise of the abyss. I will conquer the earth no matter what I have to do. Why should I fear a God that promises salvation to the weak and poor? In His own words 'the evildoers will be no more.' Why would I want to share an eternity of righteous mortals here on earth? I have chosen to be my own God here on earth — in the present, today and tomorrow. So be it if my internal destiny is the abyss."

"Your interpretation of scripture, especially the book of Revelation is interesting. But it could be wrong. What about hell?"

"There is no hell. These lies about immortal souls and eternal torment in hell contradict your own teaching of God's love. The false hope of heaven and threats of hell keeps you Christians from overcoming your own fears of life. I am my own god. I control myself and answer to no one but myself."

"You are right about being in complete control of yourself, God gives you that choice. But don't fool yourself. You are God's servant and will be held accountable for your actions. Your self prescribed intellect only makes you ignorant. The Bible is a testimonial of faith, not a book of science. It was written by men to help discern right from wrong in life. It is through the guidance of the Holy Spirit that one interprets this great book. Time and time again the likes of yourself are mentioned: the pompous, the self-serving. You are no greater than a fool."

"God-damn you. I don't put up with that from anybody!" Mr. Henderson swung his big arm to back-hand Paul across the face.

Paul grabbed Mr. Henderson's arm at the wrist, stopping the swing in mid-flight. He twisted Mr. Henderson's arm up behind his back and smashed his head into the table. "Never ask God to condemn me; you don't have that power."

Scott couldn't believe how skillfully Paul had overcome Mr. Henderson. He grabbed the knife off the table while blurting out, "Let's take this filth down to the police. I will testify against him."

Paul lifted Mr. Henderson's head from the table and pushed him toward the door. Then Mr. Henderson suddenly twisted free, turned and charged Paul with all three hundred pounds. With the grace of a deer, Paul jumped aside. Mr. Henderson ran right past, then turned and charged again. This time Paul delivered a kick to the center of Mr. Henderson's face. The fat beast buckled and hit the floor with a thud, blood rushing from his nose and mouth.

Adrenaline rushing, Scott stood bravely tightening his clutch on the knife. "That's the best fighting I've ever seen. I think you knocked out that fat piece of crap. I'll get some water to wake him up. Then we have to get out of here before Kirk get back." Scott was ready to fight, hand to hand if necessary. It wasn't a matter courage — it was a matter of doing what was right.

Scott set the knife down, at the utility sink, filled the mop bucket and then walked over and dosed Mr. Henderson. "Get up, you piece of filth!" ordered Scott. "We're taking you in. I'm going to spill my guts about the whole operation here at the Department."

Mr. Henderson rolled on to his side, blood still flowing from his nose. Paul pulled him up the rest of the way, shoved him out the door and down the hall.

Scott darted out ahead and before he hit the button for the elevator, the doors opened. Kirk was on the elevator! It was a stand off. Kirk drew his gun! Paul stepped behind Mr. Henderson and put him in a choke hold. Scott took off down the hall. Meanwhile David had the receiver to his ear but all the action was out of audio range.

Scott came running back down the hall, knife in hand, and charged Kirk. A shot rang out! It hit Scott in the shoulder, stopping him and twisting him half around. Scott turned and charged again. Kirk shot a second time, this time aiming for the heart. Scott went down hard.

Paul let loose of the choke hold on Mr. Henderson to go to Scott. He laid him on his back, made a small cross on his forehead and started to pray. At that moment Scott felt the pureness of a victorious soldier being put to rest on the battle field. Dying for what was right went beyond death, it was immortality. Scott looked up and barely could get out the words, "You really are a priest."

"Yes, and you are my brother. Our Father is calling you home."

An effortless, peaceful smile came to Scott. His eyes closed and he took his last breath.

All David heard were two small pops from the gunshots through the receiver and then some shuffling. He had no ideal what was really transpiring but feared the worst. Those were shots. I can't wait for Cindy. David picked up the phone and dialed 9-1-1.

"Tie him up! We have to find out who this is," ordered Mr. Henderson.

"What do you mean, 'Find out who it is?' " asked Kirk.

"I think he is an impostor, the way he talks about God and all. I think he might be a priest, not David McIntosh."

Kirk motioned with the gun for Paul to sit in an old office chair in the corner by the video camera. "Why bother tying him up? I'll put two bullets into him, just like Scott!"

"And then what?" asked Mr. Henderson.

Handing Mr. Henderson the gun, Kirk unwrapped an orange extension cord from a floor polisher. "I know you're David. This is just another one of your tricks." Kirk spun Paul in the chair while wrapping the cord around his chest.

"Make sure you tie up his hands. I think he's some kind of martial arts expert," said Mr. Henderson, one hand still over his bloodied nose.

Kirk tied Paul's arms to the chair and then pulled him in front of the laptop computer and Clipper Chip. Mr. Henderson handed back the gun, found a cleaning rag and left the supply room.

Above David was rushing down the third flight of stairs, carrying a letter opener and a heavy piece of wood he had broken off a coat rack. Mr. Henderson carefully put the knife in Scott's hand and forced his limp fingers around the wooden handle. Then with the rag he took the knife by the blade and stood up and returned to the supply room where Kirk had the gun pointed at the back of Paul's head. "Let me kill him!"

"Don't be stupid! I have the murder weapon right here with Scott's finger prints on it. And I told you, I don't think this is David McIntosh." Mr. Henderson walked over to Paul, bent over, put his fat face next to Paul and said, "Tell me about your God now! I have more power than Him. You'll tell me who you really are."

Paul closed his eyes shutting out Mr. Henderson, and started to pray out loud. "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Give me the strength that you had at your death. In God's name I . . . "

"The strength Jesus had!" bellowed Mr. Henderson, agitated by Paul's closed eyes and contemptuous of his state of prayer. "He was nailed to a cross! Do you think you can take that kind of pain?" Mr. Henderson screamed while raising the knife into the air. With all his unbridled hate, he stabbed it into Paul's left hand. Paul kept praying, never opening his eyes, never flinching.

Kirk stepped back in horror, staring at the knife sticking out of Paul's hand, blood pumping so hard that it was drenching the red shop rag that was wrapped around the handle. Something wasn't right. Kirk threw his gun down on the table, listening to Paul's prayer. "Forgive their sins . . . "

"I must have hit an artery," said Mr. Henderson as he carefully slid the rag down over the blade, trying to stop the bleeding. I don't want him to bleed to death, yet. And I don't want my fingerprints on the handle. Mr. Henderson grabbed the blade of the knife with the rag and started working the knife out of Paul's hand.

Paul felt the pulling and opened his eyes. In one brilliant flash everything added up — his being wounded in that arm so many years ago, using David's identity, all his prayers. His whole life had been planned before time. Everything was becoming so clear.

"Damn it!" yelled Mr. Henderson when the sharp blade cut through the rag and sliced into his hand. He stepped back, using the blood soaked rag to now stop his own bleeding hand. "Kirk, get that knife out of his hand and stop the bleeding. We can't afford to let him die after all this."

Mesmerized by all that was happening, Kirk yanked out the knife and threw it on the table next to his gun. He got some more rags and some masking tape from a shelf and began to bandage Paul's hand.

"Who are you?" yelled Mr. Henderson. "If I have to, I'll find friends of yours, bring them here and kill them right in front of you. I've already killed a senator and some ATF agents. I'm warning you. Are you or aren't you David McIntosh?"

The recorder clicked off. David was in the stairways of the lobby using the envelope opener on the latch of the door to the basement level stairs. I need a screw driver and the gun from my truck. At the other door exiting into the lobby, David looked out the small window and could see the security guard at his station. There was a metal detector by the door. First, I need something to tie up the guard up with. David started running back up the stairs.

Paul was feeling light headed. There was no pain, but he could feel the warm blood dripping onto his leg.

Mr. Henderson backhanded Paul. "I said I want to know who you are."

The jolt to Paul's head snapped him back to reality. "If you want to find out who I am, call the Records Division at the San Francisco Memorial Hospital. Ask them if a David McIntosh was just there for AIDS treatment. I was in room 1433."

Mr. Henderson turned white. The red shop rag hit the floor with a splat. He looked at his hand and could not distinguish his blood from Paul's. Kirk ran out of the room. At his security control station he called directory assistance for California. He then remembered the report from the FBI lab in Denver, hung up and went to his files. It was the report he had the FBI perform on the blood-covered piece of tee shirt he had found in the radio bunker up on Mt. Antero last fall. On the second page, down in the left-hand corner, a line read: TESTED FOR HUMAN IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS. The box to the right had a plus mark inside. Kirk slowly walked down the hall back into the supply room and handed the report to Mr. Henderson. The report fell to the floor. Mr. Henderson tore out the door, Kirk right on his heels.

David was back at the lobby door peering out the small window when he heard the ding of the elevator. The elevator doors opened. Even from a distance David recognized Kirk, blond pony tail and all. The fat arms of Mr. Henderson were unmistakable: the ones that slapped Marcea and tore off her top.

David yanked open the stairway door and walked into the lobby. It was a face off. Kirk reached toward his shoulder harness but had no gun. As Mr. Henderson hit the CLOSE DOOR button, David instantly charged the elevator, dove through the doors, hitting them simultaneously with a cross body block. David's knees caught Mr. Henderson below the chest and the fat oaf doubled over in the middle of the elevator doors. Kirk got knocked down, but jumped back up and started to run. David scrambled to his feet and caught Kirk by his pony tail halfway across the marble floor. One hard yank and Kirk was on his back. David dropped his knee into Kirk's chest and felt ribs breaking.

The security guard got Mr. Henderson to his feet and was helping him toward his station. "I'm okay. Just shoot him! Mr. Henderson gasped, finally getting his breath and pointing toward David who was smashing Kirk's face into the marble floor.

Out of the corner of his eye David saw the security guard fumbling for his gun. David ran for the elevator and hit the CLOSE DOOR button. When the door opened David saw Scott's body! He ran out of the elevator and followed the blood trail into the supply room. Paul was still bound into the chair with the orange extension cord, head slumped surrounded by a huge puddle of blood. David ran to his side, "Paul can you hear me!"

Paul's straightened up, his eyes open. There was a brilliant sparkle to them. "David, I knew you were close. Did we get them on tape?"

"You did great, Paul. I recorded everything. But, right now let's worry about getting you to a hospital." David spotted Kirk's gun on the table, picked it up and slid it into the waist band of his pants. Then he grabbed the office chair by the back, pulled Paul out of the room, down the hall, around Scott's body, and onto the elevator. When the elevator stopped, David crouched down in front of Paul, the gun drawn.

When the doors opened, David and Paul were looking down the barrels of at least a dozen guns.

"Don't shoot," yelled Cindy. "That's David. He's the good guy."

David set his gun on the floor, stood and pushed Paul off the elevator. "Somebody call an ambulance!"

Several officers rushed onto the elevator. In the twilight of daybreak David and Paul could see all the police cars and commotion. In the parking lot Mr. Henderson was handcuffed, Kirk was being searched and the security guard was being questioned. "Looks like we got them," said Paul in a weakening voice.

"We sure did," said David patting Paul on the shoulder.

"David, could you take me outside? I want to watch the sunrise."

"Sure, Paul. We'll be that much closer for the ambulance." David pushed Paul out the glass doors and turned him toward the orange eastern sky and started unwrapping the long extension cord still around Paul.

Oh David, it's going to be a beautiful day. I've never seen the sun so brilliant. David, don't bother with untying me, I'm going to be okay. David, can't you hear me, it's going to be okay. Paul had a slight moment of frustration; David wasn't listening. Then Paul was above himself, viewing his body, so limp, still slumped over in the chair. He saw David holding him.

I've got to go back and tell David. I've got to go back. Then he heard a voice. "Paul, it's your time." The frustration ceased. Paul turned back toward the light. In the brilliance there were no shadows, nothing was gray, everything was perfectly clear. Paul let himself drift. As he got closer he could feel his long lost grandmother, her apron in his hand as he followed her around the kitchen. Then there were his fellow soldiers once lost in action, standing with the small Vietnamese man next to his bike. Everyone was the same — there were no uniforms, no color.

As the intensity of the light increased, so did the euphoria. It was the end of a promise, the beginning of a new day. A new life without end — more than Paul could have ever prayed for. It was peace and harmony enthroned in love.

 

 

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