Sykora looked at his watch. I looked at mine. 9:16.
At 9:22, a semitractor and trailer chugged over the dirt road, passing Sykora and his colleagues and crossing the quarry to the west wall, where it halted. The drivers of the assorted vehicles seemed to hesitate, then moved forward en masse. Soon a single well-behaved, unhurried line formed at the back of the trailer. I seemed to be the only one who noticed Sykora’s vans close with each other, forming a roadblock at the mouth of the quarry, or a dozen men suddenly pulling on blue windbreakers with large bright yellow letters on the front and back spelling FBI.
Sykora began shouting through a handheld electronic megaphone. I couldn’t hear him from my perch, but the drivers did.
There was a moment of confusion, followed by panic, followed quickly by angry shouts and running. Lots of running. Most of the drivers dashed to their vehicles. They drove forward at first toward the barricade, then backward, then in circles looking for an exit from the quarry that wasn’t there. The circle of vehicles expanded and collapsed upon itself, the attempted evacuation quickly becoming an unwieldy traffic jam.
A few SUV drivers—maybe they actually believed the TV commercials—attempted to scale the walls of the quarry, but the slopes were too steep and the sand and gravel too soft, and they slid backward. One SUV managed to climb almost vertically before it tipped over and rolled to the quarry floor. Other drivers abandoned their vehicles and tried to climb the walls, but they had no more luck than the SUVs.
In an effort to gain control of the chaos, an FBI agent discharged his weapon into the air. A driver turned and fired at the FBI agent. One of the agent’s colleagues shot at the driver.
“Oh, Jeezus,” I muttered, expecting a bloodbath. But there were no more shots, and soon the FBI restored order.
I found Sykora with my glasses. He was smiling while he and another agent made their way across the quarry to the semitrailer, smiling when they flung open the trailer doors.
The trailer was empty.
Sykora’s smile disappeared.
He seemed shocked at first. Then visibly angry. An agent said something to him. He snapped back. The agent spoke again, and Sykora turned on him, shouting and waving his hands. The agent smiled benignly.
“Steven, Steven, Steven,” I chuckled from my perch above and behind the FBI agent. “Put a fork in it, buddy. You’re done.”
Sykora knew it, too. Other agents tried to speak to him, but he brushed them off. He turned and managed a dozen steps away from the truck and his fellow agents before stopping, his hands gripping the top of his head as if he were afraid it would explode. Suddenly he looked up. I followed his gaze to the rim of the quarry. Something metallic flashed against the morning sun.
I brought my binoculars up but saw nothing. I trained the glasses back on Sykora, who continued to look upward. I couldn’t hear him, of course, but his efficient mouth movements were easily readable.
“Fuck you,” he said.
I trained the glasses back on the rim. I saw nothing, but I knew he was there.
I have you now, you bastard.
I crawled backward until I was a good fifteen yards from the edge of the quarry, climbed to my feet, and started jogging along the rim toward the metallic flash. I was determined to get Frank once and for all for what he had done to my friends. Only I wasn’t thinking clearly. For example, I was carrying the binoculars in my hand but not my Beretta. Careless. And I was running full bore, not even thinking about cover. That was worse than careless. It was suicidal. I realized it the moment I saw Frank and Danny standing away from the edge of the quarry, about 150 yards from my original position.
They were both armed, Frank with his shotgun and Danny with a pistol.
They saw me coming.
Danny raised his hand.
I shied like a horse; stopped running.
He shot at me with the small-caliber handgun. It would have been dumb luck if he had hit me from that distance, but it’d been done before. Fortunately for me, Danny’s aim wasn’t helped any by Frank, who shoved him toward me, jostling his arm as Danny squeezed the trigger.
I dove to the ground as Danny fired. The brown grass and shrubs were waist high, and I disappeared into them.
“Get him!” Frank said.
I lifted my head. Danny was gazing in my direction, but I don’t think he saw me. Frank was waddling quickly away in the opposite direction—with his weight, he was lucky he could run at all. I moved toward my left to cut him off. Danny saw me and threw another shot my way. I went to ground again, paused for a moment, then circled hard to my right, staying low. When I came up again I saw Frank. He was about fifty yards away, opening the door of a Chevy Blazer. Apparently he had also discovered the abandoned road and used it.