I hoped that I had chosen the right cord and that it was the slow burn type and not mislabeled. It was one hell of a chance but I did not like some of the things Robert was sending me from his intelligence gathering. They had a couple minutes to change their mind but no more.
I had walked fifty feet when all kinds of screaming erupted from behind me. Gus wasn’t saying anything, just staring at the burning cord, but his three accomplices were saying plenty.
The burn was less than 8 feet away when I stomped it out. To be sure, I pulled my combat knife and cut the cord off a couple inches from the burn.
I put my phone on movie capture, “Now; who sent you here? Who paid you to set the convention center on fire?”
“Shut up, don’t say anything!” Gus yelled.
“Marla Snoops,” Dufus replied.
“The head of the Mad Matters Group?” I replied.
“Yeah, her and Julio Barns were there; he was passing out the money,” Dufus replied.
“I told you to shut up!” Gus shouted.
I stopped the recording.
“That white bitch is crazy, I can see it in her eyes; man she could watch you burn just for the fun of it. You may want to go out that way but not me,” Dufus shouted.
Andy and Charlie came back, “Your coffee was getting cold so we refilled it. Do you have everything you need or do you want a few more minutes with them?” Andy asked.
“Call the cops man; please call the cops and keep her away from us. Please misters call the cops?’ the other one begged.
“Put flex cuffs on them, cut the cord off,” I told Charlie.
“Cord, what do you mean cord?” Dufus asked.
Andy handed me one of the removed cords.
“It would not have been good for the medical examiner to find plastic from melted flex cuffs imbedded in your wrists after I had lit you off. This is fast burn cannon cord. It would have burnt off so quickly you would have been able to thrash around in your last 30 seconds, making it look like you accidentally set yourselves on fire,” I said.
I stepped back away from the gas and lit a piece. It burned very fast; 3 seconds to the foot.
“I told you she would burn us you dumb ass; she had it all planned and ready and had an alibi,” Dufus said.
“Make sure you get all the incriminating evidence Charlie.”
I called the county sheriff, “We have four more for you at the Convention Center, out back in the parking lot. They are cuffed to a light pole with their gas cans. Come pick them up,” I said
Fifteen minutes later four squad cars came through the entrance and into the back parking lot, screeching to a stop at the light post. I directed them to Charlie since he had made the initial contact with the group.
Then I asked, “Who is in charge?”
“I am ma-am; Lieutenant Richardson at your service. What can I do for you?”
“I have a video clip you need to watch,” I replied.
I played the clip of the confession then said, “Give me your email and I will send it to you,” as I handed him one of my business cards. A couple seconds later his phone chimed that he recieved my e-mail.
“Lieutenant, I will send you the drone video of them coming through the back fence and across the parking lot as soon as the lawyers approve it,” I said.
“You had drone surveillance on this site?”
“We did last night,” I replied.
It was now 7 AM Saturday morning and we had less than 12 hours to get everything in place for tonight’s debate; the candidates wanted to be on stage at 7.
The TV channels that were going to broadcast live were setting up at three. Both Marley Kendall and Hanna Page’s stations were going to run it live, with Marley’s parent network sending the feed nationwide. There were four national networks along with several independents in the reserved media section.
Several of the networks planned to have reporters outside the Convention Center covering the incoming crowd. I knew for a fact that the protesters had tipped them off that they were going to cause trouble from a report I had just received from Robert.
I had forbidden any live broadcast from the parking lot, in the tent or security area, much to the stations dismay; they all wanted the footage of protesters and how they were handled that would win them the Pulitzer Prize.
Andy and I walked back to the chopper; the turbine was spinning up as I buckled the seat belt for the 30 minute ride back to Morton.
We spent the rest of the morning putting the last of the pieces together and verifying the logistics to get everyone there for the training before people starting showing up.
At 2 PM we were back with everyone in the convention center where the final plans were put together. One of the local school bus operators had a charter service that Marcy contracted to carry all of our people over from the island.
By four we had all the plans finalized.
Everyone who was going to work the scanners was at the scanners getting training from the east coast people. All the operators of the scanners were my administrators and clerks. When the technical training was done all of us were going to go through the scanners for real ‘on the job’ training for the operators.
When the crowds started arriving I was going to stay at the entrance area to look over everyone coming in.
Robert and Burt were going to run the facial scanners from a booth off to the side while still monitoring the communications of the groups. We anticipated that the chatter between the groups would drop off quickly when the event started.
Jake had his 100 employees from the PA site and was outside going through the parking sequence. They too were going through the scanners; that would expose the scanner operators to a variety of life experiences.
I was sure the construction guys would have a whole lot of different items in their pockets and on their belts to put on the trays. I remembered when as a little kid Dad would empty his pockets on the kitchen table before going to bed.
There were always interesting things to look at; small bolts, nuts and always some interesting thing that he would have to explain to Jake what it was or what it did.
Marcy and Jenny set up the podiums for the candidates and then set up the table for the moderators. Marcy, Jenny and Jason were going to be the moderators. They were also checking out the audio and speakers.
All the questions that the attendees wanted to ask the candidates had been printed out on 5 x 8 cards and were stacked on the table. There was a smaller pile of questions that would be directed at the entire group of candidates to answer.
One more thing that we had to allow that I did not like was the concession stand needed to be open. One could simply not have that large a group of people for that long a time and not have at least bottled water.
I objected on the grounds that things could get nasty with things being thrown in all directions, if some of the opposition groups managed to get on any of the mailing lists and had gotten tickets. To get on the mailing list, all one had to do was donate and end up on one of the lists the candidates had given us.
We had cross-referenced the list with known members of the groups and anyone who had been flagged by the Secret Service and came up empty.
The concession stand was going to be run by the Montgomery County Volunteer Fireman’s Association. They were only to offer plastic bottles of water or soda and boiled or grilled hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries.
Another decision driving the concessions was that there was going to be a 10 minute break at the end of each hour to allow the candidates to go to the secure bathrooms and consult with aids.
I did win one victory; the contract Marcy had negotiated gave us exclusive control of the property for security reasons, including all food and drink. It was several weeks after the signing that the management company for the site realized that the concessions were not covered in the contract like they wanted and they wanted the concessions themselves.
They sent Jenny an addition to the contract for us to sign, giving them control of the concession stand; no way was that going to happen. The Fireman’s Association was going to get all proceeds and the agreement with them had already been signed.
At 6 everything was finished including the JBG employees being fed by the concession stand. The stand was to run an open tab for JBG; anybody with one of our ID cards could eat on the tab.
At 6 people started coming in; at 6:15 the first trouble started. A chartered 60 passenger Bluebird school bus from DC drove across the entrance and was shut off: the driver claimed it had stalled and would not start. The windows were down and protesters with bull horns were yelling all kinds of crap. I had anticipated this would happen and was ready. It was blocking the pedestrian access as well as the driveway to the parking lot.
The second entrance to the parking lot was opened and traffic redirected. The wrecker was backing up to the bus. When the wrecker tried to hook up the bus, it started and the driver kept rocking it back and forth a couple feet, making it impossible to hook up.
Jake drove the big forklift against the bus and picked it up high enough to clear the jersey barriers. The drive shaft and exhaust are the lowest parts under the bus. The drive shaft was now bent and broken and the exhaust crushed.
That was only the beginning of the bus driver’s problems. Jake carried it through the parking lot, out the second entrance and across the street to the lot we had designated for buses.
Jake had his men set a row of jersey barriers in parallel with just enough room to drive the forklift between. Jake drove to the end and sat the bus on top of the barriers high and dry – protesters and all – it was going nowhere.
With the first bus gone a second bus did the same thing and ended with the same result as did the third. The fourth bus never stopped at the entrance but did park in the lot.
The protesters marched out front yelling and screaming for the cameras but never blocked the driveway again.
At 6:45 the candidates did a sound check of the equipment and pictures for the assembled media. The place was nearly filled to capacity. The scanners worked fast and had collected a variety of contraband including several handguns, some from women’s purses.
I unloaded them and they went into a zip lock bag with the owner’s drivers license and hot sealed then put into the job box that I locked each time.
At seven the show started with Jenny reading the rules to the candidates that they had agreed upon for the benefit of the media audience. We watched on the big screen we had set up with a projector as the debate began and the questions started flying, with each candidate having two minutes to answer. Marcy had a timer and when it rang the answer was over. “If you need more time, make it part of your closing statement,” was Marcy’s reply.
At 7:30 the protesters decided to bring the protest inside. They came in with the last of the invited ticket holders. When they could produce no tickets they were told they had to stay in the tent and watch on the big screens. That did not go over well but it was what it was.
At 8:00 two persons followed by several more tried to force their way through the security area. Marla Snoops and Julio Barns were in front of the line. I guess they never went to jail or were out on bail already.
“We’re going in there: we have something to say and you bitch are not going to stop us. We have a right to be heard,” Marla shouted for the benefit of her group and the TV crew that followed her in from off the street.
“You are not going in there; it’s just that simple. You have no ticket and you have no right. This is a private invitation only event. You are to go sit down and watch it in the tent with the others without a ticket or leave,” I replied.
“We are going in and you are not going to stop us you whoring bitch, now get out of the way,” she yelled then she spit on me.
That was a mistake. I was infuriated but held some control, but my immediate reaction I could not stop. I threw an immediate fist to the throat and then a very hard slap to the side of her face; one that would sting for a while. I managed to pull most of the punch but she went down gagging, gasping and unable to talk, in obvious pain.
I looked at Julio, ready to take care of him. Julio thought he was a street fighter. He swung at my face but a blocking arm made it go wide. I put a right as hard as I could to his nose and then my left fist caught his throat.
That stunned him and he dropped his hands. With his hands down, I gave him several hard hits to the face and one to the jaw. I thought about another hit to the throat but it was not necessary. Julio fell to his knees and then face first on the hard wood floor. He was out cold; a glass jaw I guessed.
I put steel cuffs on her, squeezed them tight and roughly pulled her to her feet, then I looked her in the face and said, “The next time you spit on me I will cut your tongue out so you would never spit or mouth off again. The next words out of your mouth to me better be; I understand Ma-am I’m sorry Ma-am. My name is not bitch or whore. Do you understand?” I said.
She just looked at me. I raised my voice and said again, “Do you understand Ms. Snoops?”
“Yes Ma-am I understand, I’m sorry Ma-am,” Marla answered.
When I looked away from her I saw the camera crew was just feet away.
“What are you doing back here? You know this area was off limits and you know you were told all cameras would be seized and destroyed,” I yelled.
The camera man decided he wanted nothing to do with me and turned and ran. He ran into Tony and a couple more J&J men. Tony hit him with a horse collar hold and the camera went flying, breaking into dozens of little pieces. Tony’s helpers made them smaller.
I was sure it was too late, that he had been live feeding a TV truck, but only time would tell for sure.
The Sheriff’s department was there in 2 minutes to pick Marla up. Julio was put in another squad car. He was still bleeding and woozy.
With their leaders getting their ass whipped, the protesters left wanting no part of the action.
The rest of the debate went off without a hitch. By eleven most of the cars gone, the parking lot mostly empty; the three buses were still high and dry but everyone was gone at the parking lot.
When I went into the main area to see Jenny and Marcy to ask if they wanted anything from the concession stand before it closed down, the candidates were still there talking. My JBG security guys and the Secret Service were still providing tight security for the group.
Everyone was very happy with the debate; the candidates, the media was still there but not filming. I thought it was odd that media personalities that were always aggressively hard on the candidates were sitting around the table with Marcy, Jenny, Jason, Vicky, and Ching Lee and the candidates with boxes of food and drinks from the concession stand like old friends.
“I see you had a run-in with Marla Snoops and Julio Barns; the video is making the rounds. I think I heard cheering from the newsroom when they went down,” the ZNN group reporter said.
The crews were loading up the scanners and electronic equipment as we spoke. The rest of the cleanup would be done tomorrow morning. In an hour the college guys would be boarding the Bombardiers at Dulles International because it was closer and heading home. They had elected to go home tonight instead of tomorrow morning.
I went back to the concession stand and asked for the tab for the JBG employees. It was 3600 dollars, a lot less than I expected. I put four grand of the Prince’s money on the counter, “Keep the change; thanks for working with us tonight.”
At midnight we were headed home. Two security people were staying the night just to be safe. It had been a long and exciting day. I wondered how long it would be before the lawyers and subpoenas would start showing up.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.