(Answer My Prayer)
Thomas Calabrese …. When Robert Trask campaigned for the Presidency of the United States, one of his promises was that he would the turn the economy around which had been sluggish for years. He would make it easier for companies to make a profit by reducing cumbersome and unneeded regulations that had a stranglehold on the American business environment. President Trask also wanted to cut the corporate tax rates, but these were just words and meant nothing without actions to back it up. He had been meeting with leaders in manufacturing, high tech, energy, airline, small businesses and today it was with the cruise industry.
The American cruise industry had been going through several years of bad luck and most of it was beyond the control of the government. There had been several outbreaks of noroviruses aboard ships that caused them to return to port and the time that the largest American cruise liner experienced a major mechanical malfunction after leaving the port of Miami and sat dead in the water for three days without air-conditioning or functioning plumbing. If it wasn’t a hellhole, it sure smelled like one. The negative publicity and lack of consumer confidence had brought the cruise lines to the brink of bankruptcy.
After the meeting at the White House, CEO Ronald Alderson of Galaxy Cruise Line approached President Trask, “I sure hope that you mean what you say, Mr. President, because we are teetering on the brink.”
“I did,” President Trask replied confidently, “I will do everything I can to help your industry become profitable again.”
“My company is betting everything on our newest ship. It is five star on every level; accommodations, food, entertainment. Our inaugural cruise is set to leave San Diego in three weeks and anything you can do to help would be greatly appreciated.”
President Trask extended his right hand, “Leave the details with my staff and I’ll see what is in my scope of capabilities.”
At the same time in Fallbrook, California, Joe Kingdom was exercising in his personal fitness center on his three acre parcel land at the top of Sleeping Indian Road. He was doing three minutes of punching on the heavy bag and when the bell rang, he climbed up a thirty foot rope and when he got to the top he transcended over to a horizontal bar and did twenty pull ups then released his grip and did a double back flip before landing on a trampoline below.
In one area of the large metal building was an indoor gun range where Joe had several handguns setting on a table. He loaded each weapon with a magazine then fired a full clip at a target setting fifty feet away. Each round hit within an area that was no larger than a silver dollar. Jack then picked up one of several knives and threw them as quickly as possible at a target at a silhouette of a man; one knife hit the head, another hit the heart and the last went through his hand. When Joe was done he went outside, closed the door and activated the alarm. He turned around and saw a large Pitbull and German Shepherd charging at him and when they got close they knocked him down and they began playfully wrestling in the grass.
“Time for breakfast,” Joe smiled and the two dogs barked in approval.
After feeding his dogs, Joe showered and drove to downtown Fallbrook and pulled into the parking lot of Bill’s Specialty Meats and went inside, “Hey Bill.”
“How are you doing, Joe?” Bill responded.
“Good, thanks for asking. I need to put an order in.”
“What can I do for you?” Bill asked.
“How about twenty pounds of ground turkey and twenty pounds of lean ground beef for my dogs?”
“Got it, need anything else?
“Got any grass fed meat?” Joe asked.
“I just got a delivery, I can cut you some steaks,” Bill offered.
“Cut me ten good ones, you know what size I like. My freezer is getting kind of low,” Joe answered.
“You going to wait?”
“I’ll get some breakfast at Eleanor’s…you got my cell phone number…call me when it’s ready for pick-up.”
Joe walked across Mission Avenue to Eleanor’s Home Cooking and found a corner booth and sat down in the small café.
Eleanor was in her late fifties, a pleasant lady who knew all her regular customers by name, “Good morning, Joe.”
“Same to you, I hope that you are doing well,” Joe smiled, “It always makes my day to see your beautiful face.”
“I’m doing fine and thank you for your kind words,” Eleanor smiled, “What can I get for you?”
“How about the vegetarian omelet, wheat toast and a large glass of apple juice.”
“Got it,” Eleanor replied and was off in an instant and into the kitchen.
As Joe waited for his breakfast, he looked out the window and saw a black Chevrolet Suburban with darkly tinted windows quickly turn into the driveway and race to a parking place that prevented them from being seen from the street. Joe also noticed that the rear license plate was obscured with a piece of cardboard. Several minutes passed before four men got out of the car and looked around. They were all wearing dark jackets with the collars pulled up around their necks and baseball caps pulled low over their faces. Two of the men subconsciously touched their waistbands as they walked into the restaurant and found a table that offered an unobstructed view of the front door.
Joe pulled out his cellphone and was about to make a call when he saw a Sheriff’s patrol vehicle pull into the parking lot and knew that the situation had quickly changed. One of the men got up and sauntered over to the front door and watched the Deputy get out his vehicle while the other men stayed seated. Joe dialed 911 and whispered, “Officer needs help at Eleanor’s Home Cooking,” and set the phone on the table to keep the connection open.
Joe knew that if the Deputy came through the front door, he would be walking into an ambush so he got up and walked passed the three men sitting at the table as if he was leaving the restaurant. When he got next to their cohort at the door, Joe grabbed the man’s arm, twisted it behind his back and slammed his head against the metal door frame with such force that he was knocked unconscious. He grabbed the pistol out of the man’s waistband and started walking toward the other three men just as two of them pulled their weapons. Joe killed two with accurate headshots as the last man struggled to pull out his pistol. Joe grabbed a fork off the table and jammed it so hard that it impaled the man’s hand to his thigh then grabbed the syrup container and smashed it into his face. The Deputy entered through the front door just as the altercation ended, “Good morning, Deputy,” Joe said as he casually walked back to his booth.
Ten minutes later, four deputies stood next to Joe’s booth as he casually ate his omelet. Captain Bob McIntire arrived and parked next to an ambulance and when he got out of his vehicle, a deputy approached and handed him a business card. All it had on it were the words; Do nothing, call me Captain McIntire, 760 555-6606.
When Captain McIntire entered the restaurant, he stepped over a dead body covered by a sheet. Eleanor called out to him, “Hey Bobby…want anything?”
“Good morning, Eleanor. I’ll just have coffee…thanks,” then walked over to where the four deputies were standing, “I’ll take it from here,” and sat down across from Joe.”
“How are you doing, Bobby?” Joe commented.
“Not bad,” Captain McIntire replied.
Elaine brought over a cup of coffee and set it on the table. Captain McIntire looked up, “thanks,” then turned his attention back to Joe, “You said you were going to keep a low profile?”
“That is always my intention,” Joe answered without hesitation.
Captain Bob McIntire got up from the booth and handed the card back to Joe, “Just in case you’re interested, those four perps attempted to rob a jewelry store in Rancho Bernardo, they didn’t get anything, but killed two employees and wounded a Highway Patrol Officer who responded to the call…could you have made it a little less messy?”
“They called the game; I just played the hand,” Joe slipped the business card into his shirt pocket, “Stay safe Bobby.”
“See you around, Joe,” then called to Eleanor, “Take care, Eleanor,”
When Captain McIntire got outside, one of his deputies approached him, “Who is that guy, sir?
“How long have you been on the job?”
“Almost two years, sir,” The Deputy answered.
“I’m going to give you some of the best advice that you’ll never get as a law enforcement officer. The less you know about that man, the better off you’ll be, just be glad he’s on our side.”
President Trask called Ronald Alderson of Galaxy Cruise Lines, “I bet you didn’t expect to hear from me.”
“To be honest, I did not, Mr. President,” Ronald Alderson answered.
“My daughter, Katie and her husband will be celebrating their tenth anniversary in two weeks. I thought an ocean cruise might be a nice present for them.”
Once the news that President Trask’s daughter was going to be on the inaugural cruise of the Neptune Angel, the remaining cabins were sold out within three days of the announcement. Four young couples booked their reservations and prepared for the 15 day trip to the Hawaiian Islands and return trip to San Diego.
Joe was working around on his property with two laborers, trimming trees and repairing the irrigation system and at the end of the day, Joe fired up the grill and barbecued several steaks.
The dogs were eating besides the three men on the patio when Joe looked at his watch and saw that it was twenty hundred hours, “I’ll be right back.” He went into the house and unlocked a steel door then went downstairs to an underground safe room and punched in the code and opened a vault door and entered. The room was filled with computers and high tech equipment. Joe typed in his nine digit personal code and quickly evaluated top secret information from around the world and the read the words; No imminent threat at this time.
The security at Broadway Pier in San Diego left nothing to chance as Homeland Security, Secret Service and the FBI worked in unison. Their extensive protocol included bomb sniffing dogs that checked every section and every cabin to verify that no explosives had been planted. All supplies were x-rayed before being loaded and every passenger was thoroughly vetted and required to pass through several checkpoints before being allowed to board.
The Neptune Angel left San Diego and headed west. It was a festive atmosphere on board as the cruise line spared no expense and CEO Ronald Alderson acted as a personal host to the guests. There were live bands on different decks and waiters and waitresses circulated among the passengers taking drink orders and offering appetizers. Katie Trask and her husband Paul were cordial and friendly with their fellow passengers and their Secret Service protection never left their side. A fast moving motor yacht followed at a distance of one mile to avoid detection. A man and woman passenger went out on their private balcony at the end of the first day, but they were not there to enjoy the beautiful sunset, they had a different motive in mind. The woman opened her laptop and went to a special program while a man pointed a laser out to the sea. On the yacht, two men loaded eight automatic pistols and magazines into a drone and launched it. The drone’s destination was the cabin of the couple and the woman expertly used the GPS directional program on her computer to bring the drone right into the cabin where it crashed into the mattress and box springs that were placed against the wall absorb the impact.
Blake Brooks was the featured entertainer and he had finished singing his latest number one song, Wayward and Restless and the full ballroom was in the midst of a standing ovation when a man and a woman came up to the Secret Service personnel that were standing behind Katie Trask and her husband and shot the four men. At the same time, another couple shot several waiters, waitresses and passengers who tried to escape. At the same time the other two couples attacked the bridge, killed several crew members and took control.
A signal was sent from the communication center to the yacht that was waiting nearby and it raced to the port side of the Neptune Angel and fifteen heavily armed men came aboard. The team quickly dispersed to carry out their assigned duties and when they had taken complete control of the ship including the engine room they sent confirmation by radio.
Abubakar Asiru stepped on to the stage in the ballroom and made an announcement to his captive audience, “There has been a change to the travel itinerary and entertainment schedule.
For those of you who may be too drunk or stupid to understand what I mean, let me clarify it for you, I have taken control of this ship, I am the new Captain and you are my prisoners. Any resistance or lack of cooperation will be dealt with swiftly and without mercy,” Abubakar Asiru walked over and nonchalantly shot two of the ship’s officers, “even if it is perceived resistance, we will kill you.”
President Trask was asleep when National Security Advisor Dan Garrett knocked on his bedroom door, “Sorry to disturb you, Mr. President, but we have a problem.”
“I’ll be right there,” President Trask responded and quickly got out of bed.”
When he arrived at the White House Situation Room, President Trask sensed the situation was grave, “How bad is it?”
“Extremely, we have a hostage situation,” Dan Garrett answered.
Dan Garrett hesitated then responded, “They have Katie and the Neptune Angel.”
President Trask couldn’t believe what he was hearing, but he managed to get one word out, “Who?”
“We don’t know at this time,” Dan answered, “They sent us this,”
Dan motioned to a man who started a video on the big screen and it showed a man and woman fearfully holding each other as the heavily disguised voice narrated, “Mr. President, I have your daughter and the other passengers. If you want their safe release, I need one hundred million dollars and the release of the remaining prisoners of Guantanamo Bay. I know that the United States doesn’t negotiate in hostage situations, but I thought you might make an exception in this case.” The camera panned left and showed Katie and her husband sitting at a table. When the camera focused back on the man and woman, a pistol came into view and shot the man and woman, “If you are thinking about having Delta Force or the Navy Seals attack the ship, they’ll never be able to get on board before we kill most of the passengers. Regardless, your daughter and her husband will be the first ones to die. I will be in contact in 24 hours with more details…have a nice day, Mr. President.”
The video ended and every man in the Situation Room looked at each other as if they had been kicked in the stomach. Two hours later and every plan that was proposed had been quickly vetoed as being too dangerous or infeasible. Finally Captain Caldecott of Special Operations interjected, “There is one man who might be able to pull it off, Mr. President”
“Who is that, Captain?” President Trask asked.
“His call sign when he was in the military was “Prayer,” he’s the man that the very best call when Evil is holding the high ground. His tactical and strategic skills are off the chart and there’s nothing he won’t do to accomplish his mission. He eats fear like a kid chomping on popcorn at a Star Wars matinee and spits retribution like a nervous baseball player with a mouthful of sunflower shells.”
“Why did you wait so long to bring this up, Captain?” President Trask asked.
“I’ve served with him and know from personal experience that once he’s unleashed, it will be like calling a bullet back into the barrel after it’s been fired if you change your mind. If political correctness is your meal of choice then the “Prayer” is a double dose of cyanide on a strychnine bun. He is not a first responder, he’s not even your last option…he’s the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on two legs. If the Angel of Death and the Grimm Reaper had a son, his name would be Joe Kingdom.”
“I get the point, now that you’ve covered your ass, tell me where can I find this man?” President Trask asked.
“Fallbrook, California,” Captain Caldecott replied.
“Fallbrook?” President Trask repeated.
Dan Garrett added, “Fallbrook is next to Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base. It is known as the avocado capital of the world.”
“Get me on a flight to Pendleton and I want to know everything about this “Prayer” by the time we touch down.”
“Yes, Mr. President,” Captain Caldecott responded.
End Part One
Come Back Next Week For The Exciting Conclusion