Boone and Crockett Club



Scene Title Boone and Crockett Club
Synopsis Heller receives crucial updates from the field.
Date December 9, 2010

Staten Island: Miller Airfield

It's been darker for more hours than Leon Heller has to wait before it begins to get light again when the lieutenant comes to him as raggedy shadow that lingers in the doorway and raps chapped knuckles against its frame to announce his presence even though he knows the man inside heard his footfalls echoing in hallway long before he approached the threshold, angling a cautious look into the chamber, a jackal skirting the edge of a tiger's den and scratching nervously at the dirt.

He has no way of knowing it, but the forces based out of Staten Island's Miller Airfield and the men and women they're hunting are facing similar challenges in the wake of the riots, and this wing has yet to have power completely restored to it. A gas lamp illuminates the room's interior and the man seated behind the desk, a lit cigarette dangling between the fingers of the hand Heller holds loosely across his midsection as he reclines in his chair with smoke streaming languidly through his nostrils.

A radio makes tinny sounds in the background, status reports squawked out on a special frequency. The lieutenant does not ask Heller if there is any news, not because it's his job to deliver it, but because he'd be on his feet and out in the field if there was.

He keeps it brief. “We had movement at Le Rivage,” the lieutenant says. “Units 109 and 202 at 5:23 a.m. and 10:25 p.m. respectively. Mihangle and the Nichols girl.”

The tips of Heller's fingers twitch in response. He doesn't smile, but rarely does he smile unless he's being insincere. While he waits for further instruction, the lieutenant lets his gaze drift past the desk to the pictures pinned to the board behind it. He recognizes faces and the names attached to them but could not match one to the other without reviewing their files first.

A middle-aged man with glasses, a high forehead and short brown hair stands with an arm around a teenage girl in a red-and-white cheerleading uniform beneath a banner that reads: Congratulations Wildcats!

A woman not much older than the cheerleader in the previous photograph sits on the steps of a church in her Sunday best, blue eyes bright with cheer and cheeks flushed with the glow of youth.

The picture beside her looks like it could have been snapped at the same location, but the lieutenant knows better; he recognizes the inside of this church as what was once the Guiding Light, and the dark, suited man behind the alter as its pastor, a navy blue tie snug at the base of his thick neck. He remembers something in the paperwork about a roofer and decides that this is the one based on the width of his shoulders.

Another photograph depicts a smiling face that could belong to the pastor's daughter but doesn't. Dark hair pinned back beneath a graduation cap with a silky tassle waterfalling over the side contrasts with honey-gold eyes framed by meticulously plucked brows, and the gown this woman wears does nothing to flatter what the lieutenant imagines is a slender, athletic figure.

There are others, including a staff sergeant in a uniform belonging the United States Air Force, her face round, her lips thin and her hair a striking sable, and a bald man — the oldest in the collection — with graying stubble and a worn face with a farmer's complexion and texture like soft leather.

The final snapshot shows a severe-looking woman possessing pale eyes with startling clarity of expression and a soft but solemn mouth, her head turned away from the camera and gaze directed out to sea. Windswept strands of much darker hair caught in the breeze make it an imperfect identifier, but this picture was difficult to come by, and so were many of the others that make up the collage.

“And?” Heller finally prompts.

“Mihangle took the bait and is in possession of the child,” the lieutenant continues after a short pause of his own. “We lost him in Brooklyn somewhere around Red Hook. Based on the time that elapsed between our departure and his arrival, we have confirmation that he was still in the city at the time, which probably means that some of the Ferrymen are too. Having his son with him should restrict his movements, slow him down. What do you want us to do if he shows up again on our radar?”

“Watch him. Nichols, too. Where did she go after?”

The lieutenant feels the muscles in his neck and shoulders stiffen. When he speaks again, there's uncertainty in the shape of his mouth but not his voice. “I don't know, sir. We haven't received that report yet.”

He does not breathe a sigh of relief or even experience any relief at all when Heller pulls from his cigarette and turns in his chair, showing the lieutenant his back. He knows what question comes next. Is ready for it.


The lietenant takes several strides into the room and places the requested manila folder on the corner of Heller's desk. “It was acquired in late March by the Maxwell Development Corporation,” he says rather than wait for Heller to pick it up and flip it open, “which had plans for a public restoration project, but the paperwork indicates that this was stalled when its CEO was killed in that plane crash outside Providence. I talked to the head of the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and he says the property's uninhabitable.”

Now Heller does take it in his hand, the one trailing smoke and the glow of his cigarette's embers. The lieutenant watches him thumb through the paperwork inside and is secretly pleased when he sees Heller's gaze catch on a black-and-white aerial photograph of the Hudson River clipped to the report with a heavy paperclip. “We're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations to accommodate the numbers that got away from us at Red Hook,” he adds, “and there's no evidence that their network had the kind of monetary resources that Carmichael did. We've been able to trace the majority of Chesterfield's purchases to the Village Renniassance Building in Greenwich. I don't know if you've visited any of the sites personally, sir, but these people weren't living well. There are a couple of notable exceptions like the apartment complex in Gun Hill and what our informants called the Hangar. For the most part?”

Heller gently eases the folder shut. Does not set it down again. Instead he reaches across the desk and taps ash into the tray he uses as a paperweight. “Did you put any of our people on the ground?”

“No. Three fly-bys, two during the day and one at night. One of our boats came within a few hundred feet of the shore. It's dead out there.”

The chuckle that Heller gravels out at this is low and humourless, so quiet that the lieutenant can still hear the cigarette's paper burning, a thin hiss above his own breathing. “Keep looking,” Heller says, and he lifts his chin to cast his gaze back at the photographs on the board behind him. He runs his tongue across his teeth. “They're somewhere between here and Albany.”

“What makes you think that, sir?”

Heller's eyes move between the photographs, and he rises from his seat behind the desk to move closer to them. His thumb follows the edge of the picture of the man with his glasses and the petite cheerleader, her blonde hair worn in curls and teeth white enough for a modeling agency's liking. He touches the tip of his cigarette to her little button nose and watches her face begin the smoulder, blacken, then melt away. “Either they knew in advance the route our convoy was going to take, or they got lucky and spotted us on our way up.” He wrinkles his nose at the smell it produces. “If the former was true, we'd have been met with more resistance, lost more of our people. Take Pollepel off your list but continue your patrols. Wherever they are, they're going to slip up sooner or later.”

“Yes, sir. What do you want us to do with Harkness and Demsky?”

Heller's hand drops. Cigarette and folder too. “Are they comfortable?”

“No, sir.”

“Good.” The right corner of Heller's mouth crooks down instead of up. “Keep it that way.”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License