This posting features Chapter 47 of my ongoing action novel, The Day of the Gun.
The helicopter lifted off from the roof of the Atlanta police station and headed west over the city. The diminutive U.S. Attorney momentarily closed his eyes. He had always been a white knuckled flyer, but over the years he had grown accustomed to airplanes — as long as he was sitting in a window seat over the wing. He could look out at the giant steel appendage and take comfort that the plane was sturdy and stable. Helicopters were another matter. They had no wings, just endlessly turning rotors whirling high above his head. At least this chopper had doors attached — that provided a measure of comfort, although not much.
Protecting his reputation for toughness, he told no one of his phobia. He merely gritted his teeth and fell silent.
The pilot, a U.S. Marshal he did not know, leaned over and shouted over the noise of the whirling blades. “Are you okay, sir?”
Roth opened his eyes and lifted his earphones. “Come again?”
“I asked if you’re okay, sir.”
He nodded, not trusting his voice, which might betray him.
“The ride should be smoother once we get out of the city at a comfortable cruising altitude.”
Roth nodded again as he replaced his earphones.
The pilot shot him a thumbs-up signal and turned back to his controls.
Leaning back, the U.S. Attorney closed his eyes and let his mind wander. He had learned of Gregg Stacey’s demise from a U.S. Marshal 10 minutes before he arranged for the Atlanta police to lend him their bird, and an hour after the state police told him the Johnston woman was in custody. She had been hunkered down with Harris in an Econo Lodge in a small Alabama town near the Mississippi border. She had stolen the fugitive’s wallet and car. With any luck, Harris or Martin or whatever-his-name-was would still be nearby, hence the need for speed. Roth might yet salvage something from this nightmare scenario.
The city disappeared behind them as the helicopter banked a hard left and headed over small tract houses and patches of undeveloped land. Atlanta was rapidly consuming the unspoiled acreage within its immediate vicinity, but some places in Georgia remained untapped. He opened his eyes and gazed at the greenery below.
The pilot motioned for Roth to lift his earphones. “Won’t be long now,” he said above the noise of the rotors. “ETA is 40 minutes, give or take, sir.”
Roth nodded and replaced his earphones.
His thoughts turned to David Tremblor. Roth’s associates were combing through the man’s background, family life, and habits. Soon they would know as much about Tremblor as the assassin knew about himself. Perhaps somewhere in the details of his life they would discover a possible hiding place or other clues about his motives.
Leafing through his legal pad, Roth struggled to acquaint himself with the man based on the information already contained in the dossier. The U.S. Attorney believed that if he scrutinized a person’s history long enough, all questions could be answered. It was a philosophy that was not always accurate, but nonetheless it had served him well throughout his storied career.
Mike Cameron leaned over from the seat behind his boss and motioned for the little man to lift his big earphones. When Roth complied, the assistant shouted over the sound of the blades. “Delores just called.”
Roth nodded. “And?”
“The Alabama State Patrol is on their way to the motel. ETA is 10 minutes from now.”
“Any word on Tremblor’s whereabouts?”
“No, sir. They’re checking on his house, family, known hangouts — the usual. Nothing so far.”
Roth nodded. “He’s too smart to be someplace obvious. In any case, I suspect he’s headed the same place we’re headed.”
“The highway patrol in Georgia and Alabama is out in full force. They have a BOLO out on Tremblor’s personal car and the WITSEC vehicles, but he may be driving something else.”
The U.S. Attorney glanced at his wristwatch. “And the press?”
Cameron smiled. “So far they’re not onto the story.”
Roth pointed out the window at a helicopter coming up on the right. “Not for long.”
Both men stared at the Channel 11 News helicopter.
Cameron’s eyes went wide. “You think they’re headed the same place we are?”