Sunday, February 25, 2007

EDGE of PARADISE Episode 2

It's the morning shift at Metro Dade's downtown station and the midnight to seven shift is headed for home. Some of the guys stop off for breakfast at a Denny's across the street from the station, but most of the younger officers want to get home to their wives or girlfriends.
In the parking garage under the station the morning shift is milling around half heartily putting their police cruisers in order and preparing psychologically for an eight hour stint behind the wheel of an urban peace-making machine. The community's first line of defense, the thin blue line. And in Miami, one of the countries toughest cities and defacto capital of South America, that thin blue line is almost transparent. Officer James "Jimmy" O'Neil and Officer Gabriel "Gabby" Castra climb into their cruiser, fire up the high performance engine, and pull out of the garage and up onto an on ramp that merges them onto the world's largest parking lot: Interstate I-95 running North and South along the very edge of Southern Florida. This morning the traffic is moving pretty good. In 20 minutes it will grind to a stop-start pace as commuters pour onto the highway from a thousand suburban communities up and down the interstate as it passes through Broward and Dade county, Florida's densest and most populated area."Gabby, did you see the way Eric hit that ball last night?" "Yea, I saw it, and my little Melissa can hit harder than that. ""What is that supposed to mean? "
"It means my friend you need to work more with Eric." Gabby is moving the police cruiser in and out of traffic. "How's things going with you and Linly at home?" asks Jimmy, with a look of anticipation in his face as if a bowl was about to drop from a shelf. "It's good. I guess, she wants another child and I don't think we can afford it right now. I got that second job working security over on South Beach and we still just meet our expenses. I'm never home and Melissa asked me if I still want to be her daddy."
The three helicopters have passed over the Southern end of Miami Beach and split apart, one veering south, one north, and one out over downtown. That chopper passes near the hi- rise buildings and takes up a course overhead of the traffic on I-95, virtually indistinguishable from a traffic eye-in-the-sky copter. The pilot skillfully maneuvers the helicopter in low over the morning traffic and now has matched his airspeed with the flow of traffic. The pilot spots the Metro Dade police cruiser below and holds up his fist. The other three masked soldiers cock their automatic 10mm uzis, and check the magazines.
Gabby and Jimmy see the chopper flying just above them. "Gabby, it looks like he needs or wants to land on the highway. I'll get on the radio; you hit the lights. Dispatch, this is 118 - responding to a helicopter, appears to be in distress, may be executing an emergency landing on northbound lanes of I-95, approximately two miles north of downtown, near the Opalocka exit. Did you copy that dispatch?"" Yes 118, dispatching emergency teams now."Roger dispatch."
The pilot moves the chopper out ahead of the police cruiser and begins a slow decent to the roadway below. Traffic has come to a complete stop and the police cruiser is pulling up to within 50 yards of the grounded helicopter.
Jimmy is concerned with the fact that the choppers blades are still churning and there doesn't seem to be any smoke or other problem. "I wonder what's up with this guy, landing in the middle of rush hour traffic."
The doors on the helicopter swing open and three elite and daunting mercenaries emerge with weapons blazing. The police cruiser is engulfed in a rain of hot, ripping, tearing metal. Spent bullet casings are covering the ground as the scene turns to horrifying twisted steel, shattered glass, and torn flesh. The hail of gunfire could have stopped two minutes ago and been completely effective. But these assassins are creating terror. Two or three well placed bullets are more than enough to end a life but these destroyers are reaching for a deeper completely brutal exclamation. Suddenly, a cacophony of sounds breaks into an eerie silence. The only sound is from the tinkling of bullet casings rolling around on the pavement. Motorists have gathered their courage and are abandoning their vehicles. A full scale evacuation is underway.
The pilot has been waiting patiently aboard his jet helicopter, poised for a rapid ascent into the heavens. The three dark assassins return to the flying machine and begin to crawl aboard. The pilot yells at them above the screaming of the engine - "you IDIOTAS, you forgot to take their shirts." Two of the gunmen return to the police cruiser and drag the extremely mutilated bodies from the front seat of the now terminated conveyance. It's not a pretty site. It's, in fact, a difficult site even for these hardened, battle experienced mercenaries. Killing from a safe distance and leaving the quarry, having never to see your handiwork up close, is manageable, but having to confront the result of your efforts up close and personal is a degree different.
After dragging the officers' bodies out onto the hot roadway the gunmen have begun to remove their uniform shirts, complete with badge and name plate. Both men are disgusted by the request ,equating it with the act of scalping., the American Indian warriors tradition of cutting the scalp of a fallen enemy as an act of terror and as a trophy to be displayed later for the benefit of the tribe.
As the men leave the scene with the bullet riddled and blood soaked uniforms, one turns and tosses a remote controlled bomb into the back seat of the police car. The pilot has become very agitated and begins to lift the chopper skyward just as the men climb back aboard. As the helicopter lifts off rapidly and out away from the carnage below, a gunman takes a small remote control from his bag and punches the sole button on its face. The car below explodes into a 50- foot high fireball directly below them. The pilot follows the exact same vectors back out over the Atlantic.
* * * * *
Sitting in the crystalline blue waters just off the coast of Bimini, a small island in the dozens of tiny islands that make up the country of the Bahamas, sits an unusual looking yacht. The vessel is covered from stem to stern with what appears to be a canopy. At first glance one might think it's a giant bimini top named after the small canvas convertible tops small boaters use to keep the hot tropical sun off their heads during the hottest part of the day. But why would an obviously expensive luxury yacht need a bimini top. The boat was probably air conditioned in every room, including the engine room. It was only a mystery until seen from above, from the perspective of an airplane. The canopy was an ingenious form of camouflage. It provided a photo-realistic scene of the ocean as seen from above. An aircraft would look down and see nothing. The mural painted on the canopy virtually blended seamlessly with the surrounding water, rendering the yacht practically invisible from the air.
A young Latin man is searching the horizon with a pair of large binoculars that seem large enough to see the other side of the world or find craters on the moon. The young man is chattering in Spanish over a small hand-held radio.
Something has come into his field of view. He focuses the giant eyes and confirms his discovery. "Tres helicopteros," he shouts over his small radio.
Three black jet helicopters have rejoined and are flying in a loose formation, low over the blue water. The pilots are conversing over their radios frantically. All three birds slow and the four-man crews are exiting the airships and dropping into the ocean frogman style. The helicopters have been placed in autopilot mode and they continue to fly off into the distance. A twelve-man army is now in the sea floating courtesy of a life vest placed around their neck. One of the pilots pulls a hand-held control from his utility belt, holds it into the air,, and turns a dial. An audible tone is generated and suddenly the three helicopters in the distance flash in a brilliant ball of light. A million tiny fragments fall into the sea, making small splashes that churn and foam the salt water. All the men watch the pilot who now tosses the radio detonator into the ocean. All the soldiers have a look of disbelief on their now exposed faces, but the disbelief turns to a cheer, complete with, sounding like the wailings of a mariachi band. A deadly band of mariachis.
The celebration is short. The luxury yacht Estralla has come along side the 12-man party and the vessel's first mate has lowered a ladder normally reserved for swimmers and snorkelers. All 12 men scurry aboard.
A sultan's feast awaits the mercenaries as they arrive in the main salon of the yacht after showers and dry fresh clothes. The elaborate buffet table has been prepared by the on-board chef complete with grilled seafood, lobster tails, and an endless array of salads and sophisticated side dishes. A bartender is providing libation and refreshment. The mood has become quite celebratory, but the mood is broken instantly when a dark and well built man enters the Salon from a sliding glass door at the stern of the boat. The room is silent, a respectful gesture from these men. All eyes are transfixed on the dark gentleman as he walks to a table in the back of the room and examines a stack of blue Miami police uniforms. He picks one of the shirts up, looks at it, and places a finger thru a bullet hole. He pauses looks at the men, and begins to wiggle his finger profusely. The whole room ignites in spontaneous laughter. The men return to their eating, drinking and frivolity, it has been a long and dangerous day for these dealers of death.

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