Gunslinger - A Jessie Carr Novel #2, страница 1
A Jessie Carr Novel
Written by JL Schneider
JL Schneider is the exclusive owner and copyright holder on this publication
You ever had one of those feelings, you can’t explain, it just happens.
I’m sitting with my family and friends; it has been a wonderful spring day. We boiled crawfish and drank beer, what could be more perfect. The sun is shining and everyone is happy.
Then it happens; that dark cloud passes over you. Maybe it’s a hand from the past touching you on the shoulder, reminding you that you have a debt to pay, or maybe it’s a vision of things to come. I don’t know, but it’s just a felling of dread. Life is to perfect, this can’t last.
I excuse myself and walk inside, trying to shake this strange feeling. This has happened before, call it ESP or whatever you want, but it’s not a new feeling for me. I check the lock on the front door, no particular reason, just do. I walk upstairs and look around, again nothing in particular, just look.
Maybe it’s the beer, maybe I’ve had too much, or maybe not enough, I don’t know; whatever it is, I know it isn’t good.
My cell phone rings, I look and see a blocked number. I answer and no one is there. What is different about me than the other 99% of society? We all look the same, dress the same, talk the same, but I’m different. It’s probably my fault, but trouble just gravitates toward me, like a magnet.
I walk back outside and sit with my friends, but one look at my face and everyone knows something is coming. They know me to well; we have been through a lot together.
But whatever it is we can’t stop it, we can only deal with it after it arrives. I just hope we all survive it.
FBI Special Agent Rhonda Woodson sat at her desk watching a video taken at Louis Armstrong International Airport two days prior. Facial recognition software had captured two men and alerted the authorities of a hit. The two men had arrived at 6 PM on a Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta. Woodson had already established the identity of the men, and found they had connected in Atlanta on a flight from Newark; they had rented a car, a 2002 Taurus and had a return date and time of 5PM yesterday. She spent most of yesterday at the Delta ticket counter inside the main terminal of Louis Armstrong International Airport with her partner, Special Agent William Harrison. Two other agents waited at the Avis Auto Rental Return Area. The two individuals had not returned their car and had not checked in for their 7:20 PM flight to Newark thru Atlanta.
The two men in question were Kevin Halsey and Raymond Frenchy Leblanc; they were known associates of Antonio Guzman. Guzman’s name and reputation were well known by every law enforcement agency in the North East. Guzman was suspected in the death of a Federal Agent who had infiltrated his organization, he was also suspected of moving large quantities of cocaine thought several shipping ports all along the East Coast. He was thought to have been involved in the murder of several drug importers, in order to gain a stronghold in the New York, New Jersey area. So far, no agency had been able to penetrate his organization, until Special Agent Raymond Toronto with the Drug Enforcement Agency successfully infiltrated in 2000. Unfortunately a week ago, Agent Toronto’s body had been pulled from the East River, shot once in the back of the head. If or how his cover had been blown was unknown, but now Guzman and every associate was being rounded up and questioned.
Since Halsey and Leblanc had not shown up at the airport it was assumed they had heard of the roundup and made a hasty retreat. An all points bulletin was put out on their rental, but it had not been spotted. Halsey and Leblanc had traveled on their own names and had used a credit card at a Holiday Inn in Jackson MS the day they had arrived from Newark. They had checked out the next day and had not been seen or heard from since. A video of the Holiday Inn parking lot showed their rented Taurus being parked the night before, and then driven out the next morning. Since then, nothing, a search of the room produced prints, but only Halsey’s and Leblanc’s. Mississippi State Police and all local agencies were out looking for the missing Taurus.
Halsey and Leblanc were believed to be enforcers for Guzman; the conclusion drawn from this knowledge; they were there to kill someone. What Guzman had to do with anyone in Mississippi was a complete mystery.
Special Agent Woodson wanted out of the New Orleans FBI office, and saw this as her big chance. She wanted to grab these two and get a statement, any statement. She wanted to play hardball in New York with the big boys and now, she couldn’t find her prey and she felt her big chance slipping away.
I had arrived home approximately 5 hours after cutting a man’s throat. I guess that should have bothered me, but what really bothered me, was the fact that it didn’t bother me. I had sent Carl toward Tallahassee Florida in his pickup to get us three rooms under false names with IDs we hadn’t used until now. Before Shelby, Carl, and I left we emptied Carl’s house of any trace of Halsey and Frenchy. They were buried, in their car, about 500 yards from Carl’s house; in the spot he was going to build his pond. We double checked the house and surrounding area, locked up, and drove out.
At home we emptied my safe into a duffle bag and loaded it into the trunk of my car; it contained over one million dollars. We had our weapons already in the car so I packed a small suitcase with necessary items. Rachael and Jasmine, as usual, wanted to pack half the house. Shelby and I controlled the amount to be packed and loaded everything in the car. We had done this several time before when we just didn’t feel safe in one place, so we had become old pros at it. We loaded the girls into the car and headed toward Florida.
Shelby and Jasmine had a beautiful beachfront house on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We stopped at their house and grabbed a few items, money and more guns, loaded the items into their car, and continued our journey in two vehicles.
All I could think of as I drove towards Tallahassee was that this shouldn’t be happening again. I had done everything in my power to end this, but here it was, coming at us again. The man I had killed at Carl’s had said Guzman had sent him to kill us, who the fuck was, Guzman. I searched my memory for any glimmer of remembrance, but there was nothing there. Here was a man hunting us and we had no idea who he was. In order to combat an enemy, you must know him; I planned on knowing Mr. Guzman very soon and very well. My plan was simple, neutralize the threats, there is three ways do handle a problem like this; you can wait for it to destroy you, you can run from it; or you can confront it head on. I planned on handling this the way I had done every other obstacle in my life; I was going to destroy it.
My name is Jessie Carr; I am a former Army Ranger, combat veteran, husband, murderer, and drug dealer. My partners and I made choices over the past few years that were now haunting us. I had no desire to go back to my former life, I am married to Rachael, a wonderful woman who loved me and trusted me. My partners Shelby Wilson and Carl Rome would follow me into hell, and it looked like that was where we could be heading. I had one other responsibility, Jasmine Borne, now living with Shelby, a woman I had snatched from the jaws of death; I just hope I wasn’t leading her back there.
Seven hours after leaving my home in New Orleans we arrived at the Marriott Hotel in Tallahassee. That was less than twelve hours after I had taken a man’s life and he was totally forgotten. I tried to even remember what he looked like, but I couldn’t. God had either cursed me or blessed me with the ability to do something horrible, and then just forget about it. Strange, not normal, but at the moment I needed to have a clear head, there was planning to do.
Carl had secured three rooms for us on the same floor.
We had to put together what we knew in order to glean any information we could on this new threat. We knew this had to be a remnant of our former lives. We had hoped we had eliminated any threats to us when we neutralized Dominic Perroni, an assumption that was coming back to bite us.
Our first goal was to find out who was bringing this threat on us. Guzman was all we knew. A search online produced many hits on an Antonio Guzman, a suspected drug kingpin in the North East. We probably didn’t need a search to tell us this, who else would be coming after us except a drug dealer. Our assumption was Guzman was the major connection or distributor Perroni had dealt with, and he thought we posed a threat to him, little did he know; we had never even heard his name.
New Orleans Police Detective Ryan Thibodeaux was having a really bad month. Just two months earlier he had the highest clearance rate in the Homicide Division, now he was very near the bottom. Sure, he had caught a few easy ones over the past month, but those didn’t make up for the open cases he still had.
Today Thibodeaux’s partner, Detective Rodney Greyfield was in court. Thibodeaux was sitting at his desk in the homicide division office when his phone rang.
No one else was in the office and shaking his head he answered the phone “Homicide, Thibodeaux.” The voice on the other end was female “Hey Thibodeaux, this is Detective Cheryl Manning with Jefferson Homicide, how are you today?” Jefferson Parish was an adjourning Parish to Orleans Parish; they had their own well staffed and equipped Police Department and Crime Lab.
Thibodeaux though, perky female, just what I need today “I’m just dandy, what you got Manning?”
Manning had to grin; she had heard of the moody Thibodeaux but had never met him nor spoken to him before. “I got a DNA hit here on someone I heard you had some interest in.”
Thibodeaux wasn’t in the mood for small talk, “Ok I fucking give; spit it out.”
Manning had to laugh, she had to meet this guy “You had some dead gang bangers in the Calliope a while ago, well a couple of your dead boys DNA showed up at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Roger Buckle, you probably heard about it, a big shot attorney and his wife, home invasion, murdered.”
The murders of four banger; the leadership of the Calliope Gang was one of Thibodeaux’s open cases. He was looking for any break he could get, this probably would lead anywhere but at least it gave him something new to look at. “Yea, I heard about that, nothing stolen if I remember correctly, knifed both of them pretty bad.”
Manning wasn’t surprised he knew about it, the attorney had been really high profile and his business partner had been murdered a couple of years prior, that was also still unsolved. “Right, we did a lot of background on the attorney, trying to find out if he had ever represented any of the Calliope boys, but came up empty on that. We couldn’t find any link at all, we still have no idea why he was targeted, but at least now, we know who was involved.”
Thibodeaux scratched his head “How about some connection between the guys partner, what was his name?” Thibodeaux dug through a case file and said “Oh I got it, Barry Shuster, got himself offed about two years ago, found his body in a dump up on Hwy 90, Jefferson Parish.”
Manning had her case file open on her desk “Right, we think his buddy James Allen was involved in that. Allen turned up missing, never been seen again, both of them tied to rape and murder, found some evidence in Allen’s house and Shuster’s office, also had some evidence there was a drug involvement, but got no further on that.”
Thibodeaux now perked up, the Calliope boys were heavy drug distributors; and if that tied back to Shuster and Buckle; that could lead somewhere. “Lots of ifs and what if going on here, but do me a favor, send me what you have on the Buckle murder, if I can tie him into the Calliope boy’s maybe I can get somewhere.”
Manning agreed and remembered something, “Hey, there is one thing, when they dug Shuster’s body out the dump we started looking at his partner Buckle, you know, in case there was a money or woman thing. A couple of our guys tailed him for a couple of weeks, really came up empty. One guy did get some attention, hang on; let me dig through here. Oh yea, Buckle was meeting this guy at a bar on Magazine, Harry’s Hideaway. We got some pictures and did a little checking, come to find out he was the husband of one of the murdered women that you all made Allen and Shuster for, oh and get this, Shuster got Allen off on a technicality.”
Thibodeaux leaned back in his chair, “Wait, Buckle was meeting with the guy whose wife was killed by his business partner. What did you come up with?”
Manning was looking at the investigating detective’s notes, “The guys name is Jessie Carr, lives on the westbank. He has no record, he was a decorated combat veteran in Vietnam, they tried to talk to him once, he wasn’t home, never followed up on it. That’s when they started looking hard at Allen and came up with that connection, everything pointed at him. Shit, I know, they should have followed up, but there was no indication that Carr and Shuster ever met.”
Thibodeaux signed, “Fax Carr’s information too wills you? By the way, what does Carr look like?
Manning looked at the surveillance picture, “Well, about five nine, 180 or so, short hair, light completion, about average I guess.”
Thibodeaux for the first time that day felt a glimmer of hope “Fax that photo also please, I’ll keep you up to speed if I come up with anything, and thanks, I owe you a drink.”
Manning smiled to herself, she had heard Thibodeaux was a hunk and wanted to collect on that drink “This helps you break that Calliope thing you owe me more than that. I’ll have that fax on the way in ten minutes.
She hung up and started gathering the paper to fax over.
Shelby, Carl, and I had been discussing our situation for three hours and knew no more now that we did when we started. Antonio Guzman was a total mystery. We had no contacts up the East Coast, we knew Guzman, knew where we lived, but had no idea if he knew what we looked like. It would a dangerous assumption to think he didn’t, safer to believe he could recognize us. We could sit tight and let him make the next move, but none of us wanted that. We had no doubt he had the resources to locate us, it would just be a matter of time.
As hard as it was to admit it I had to say the obvious “We’re screwed, we got shit.”
Carl and Shelby both nodded in agreement, Shelby replied “We wait here he eventually finds us, we keep moving, he eventually finds us, so what do we do?”
Carl shaking his head “There is only one thing we can do; we take this shit to his house. He brought it on us, now we take it to him, we know where his warehouse is; we work from there, then just like Perroni, we put him down.”
Carl had a way of simplifying things, he was the best shooter I had ever seen, but finesse wasn’t his strongpoint. But he was right; we needed to work from the only known location we had, Guzman’s warehouse. There had been a picture online of Guzman, so at least we knew what he looked like.
We called the women into the room and ordered room service. They wanted to know what was going on and we had a policy of not lying to them. We explained everything we knew, including the fact that there names were on the hit list. They had been with us through this before and trusted us, so they showed no real fear or emotion.
The last tim
Detective Ryan Thibodeaux removed all the faxes Jefferson Parish had sent to his machine. The reports on the home invasion of the Buckle family contained the latest DNA matches. The DNA matched Darnel Watson and Demond Jones, both killed in the Calliope Projects. Demond was the brother of Rufus Jones, the leader of the street gang, killed in the same incident. Thibodeaux rifled though the papers and came upon the photo of Jessie Carr, the man who had met several times with Buckle at Harry’s Hideaway. Something about him seemed familiar, but Thibodeaux couldn’t put his finger on it. He pulled his file on what had become known as the Calliope Massacre. He laid everything out on his desk. He looked at the artist’s composite of the man who had purchased one of the cars used in the murders. He dug through the stack of papers and found another sketch of the man who had purchased the dummy grenades also used in the murders. The sketches were obviously the same man and very closely resembled the surveillance photo of Jessie Carr.
What did this mean, could the man who met with the murdered attorney and the man involved in the Calliope murders be the same man? Thibodeaux studied the faces looking back at him, possible, but why. Was this a friend of Buckle who had taken revenge in the Calliope Projects? Not likely, but what then?
Just then Detective Rodney Greyfield walked in, his court appearance complete. Greyfield removed his coat, hung it on a hook and stored his gun in his desk drawer. He walked over to Thibodeaux and before he could speak Thibodeaux looked up at him “Rodney, look at this, tell me what you see.” He showed the sketches and photo to Greyfield. Greyfield picked up the papers and studied them closely. “Could be the same guy, who is this?” Thibodeaux explained the connection between the attorney Buckle and the man in the surveillance photo. Greyfield shook his head, “This could easily be the same guy, and seems kind of a strange coincidence for him to be associated with this guy and the guys who murdered him.”