The Brotherhood, p.21Jerry B. Jenkins
“And this has been how long?”
“More than two years. I gave him the Scripture about how you accept, believe, and confess, and he said he had confessed to God. I told him, no, you’ve got to confess with your mouth to someone else that Jesus Christ is Lord. He told me, ‘Reverend, that’s going to be you and my ma. Nobody else would believe it, and I’ll be dead in a week if they think I mean it.’”
“But you said he wasn’t afraid to die even when he thought he would go to hell. Why would he fear death now?”
“He told me he was scared to death he would never get to make amends to all the people he had hurt and killed and stole from.”
Boone sat back. “He sincerely wants to do that?”
“I believe he does. I gather that dealing with his remorse was way more important to him than escaping hell. From that day to this, he has kept the whole thing secret, but he has poured himself into the DiLoKi. So far it seems none of the other leaders have suspected a thing or figured out that the whole idea has cut way back on violence, especially on the inside. Sure, there are still horrible things that happen between various factions. But the three major gangs used to kill each other inside and outside Stateville. You hardly even hear of that anymore. But to PC, it’s not enough. He wants to start making amends.”
“By ratting out the leadership.”
“And he has no second thoughts about that?”
“Good question, and I asked him that. Because there’s a code even among killers, you know. There was a day when a gangbanger wouldn’t even rat out an enemy, let alone a friend. But PC says these gangs, the DiLoKi included, are so out of control, the fear and the dread and the horror they inflict on the community will never be checked until the hierarchy is disabled. This is the only way he knows to do it.”
“And he’s got a plan?”
George Harrell nodded. “He’s no dummy, Detective. He didn’t get where he is through intimidation alone. PC knows what it will take to make this work the most thoroughly, and once he’s assured a deal is in place, he’s ready to put his plan into action.”
“And once you hook us up, you want out of this?”
“Completely. Maybe there’s a way I can communicate some kind of encouragement to him through you. And wherever he winds up, I might try to get word to him that I’m still praying for him. But after I tell him he can trust you, I’ve got to be left out of this. He asked only that I make the contact with the Chicago PD and said he would take it from there.”
“I think we can honor that.”
“You have to.”
“You have my word, Reverend. What else do you need to know about me so you can endorse me to him?”
“I know who you are, Drake. And so will he. That you’re still on the job after what you went through tells me all I need to know.”
“How do I meet him?”
“I thought you’d never ask.” Harrell pulled from his pocket a sheet from a tiny spiral notebook. On it he had jotted an address. “He holes up above a garage not far from the old headquarters of the Kings at Beach and Spaulding.”
“Northwest Side. I’m going to look kind of conspicuous in that neighborhood.”
“Yeah, but PC assures me it’s a place you can slip into after dark, if you follow the route he’s outlined here on the back. He’ll be waiting for you at two in the morning Friday. I don’t mean to treat you like an imbecile, but that’s after midnight Thursday.”
“He wants you to just stop at the stop sign at this corner and wait fifteen seconds. He’ll climb in, and then you can take him wherever you feel you’ll both be safe.”
Boone folded the sheet and put it in his pocket. “And so it begins,” he said. “Reverend Harrell, on behalf of the Organized Crime Division of the Chicago Police Department, I want to extend sincere gratitude. This was a thankless but courageous task.”
Harrell scooted out of the booth and stood to shake Boone’s hand. “I appreciate it, Detective, but you’ll understand if I say I hope we never see each other again, at least this side of heaven. What say I meet you at the eastern gate sometime in the hereafter?”
“Works for me,” Boone said.
Tuesday morning Jack Keller and Pete Wade came to Boone’s office for a debriefing about his conversation with the chaplain. They didn’t shut the door and lowered their voices only when they heard footsteps in the hall. Boone could not imagine that Haeley was out of earshot. Did that mean they weren’t keeping this from her because she had already seen a lot of the paperwork anyway?
Boone asked them what Fletcher Galloway had meant about using a cell phone setup. Finally, Keller pushed the door shut. “You know, as tiny and sophisticated as clandestine recording has become, we can’t risk someone as high-profile as Candelario wearing a wire. Somebody from another gang or the Outfit frisks him and finds that, he’ll be dead before we can get to him. But you know what cell phones are capable of these days, don’t you?”
“I hear they can be programmed to record even when they’re turned off.”
“Bizarre, isn’t it?”
“It gets better,” Wade said. “By the time you meet with PC, we’ll have a high-tech phone for each of you that has so much built into it, it’ll do everything but cook your breakfast. In fact, say Candelario is in a meeting with someone and we’re recording. They get suspicious and ask to see his phone. Two things can happen. We can remotely hit a button that completely wipes that phone, while we would have already remotely recorded everything up to that point. Or if there’s been interference and he isn’t sure we’re hearing the demand to see his phone, as he hands it over, he can casually hit a button on the keypad that does the same thing.”
“Impressive,” Boone said.
“Besides that,” Wade said, “these phones are untraceable, are encrypted to the point where no one would be able to hack into them for a million years, and so they are secure for you and him to communicate with us or each other—or anyone else for that matter—at any time from anywhere.”
“I like that.”
“Boones,” Jack said, “I’ve seen this done from halfway around the world, and I’m not kidding. One of our techies proved it to me. He’s chatting with me, right, and during the conversation I get a text message from a mutual friend of ours in London. Curious, I excuse myself and check it, and it has an attachment. I click on it and what do I hear? A recording of the conversation I’m having with the techie right then. I take it to him and say, ‘Explain this!’ He laughs and tells me that he did it without even the knowledge of our London friend.”
“The future is here,” Boone said.
“If he can do that via satellite internationally, just imagine what we can do with these phones right here in the city.”
That night at home Boone pored over the files on Pascual Candelario, thinking that two in the morning Friday couldn’t come soon enough. The monumental importance of the case was one thing, but even getting to hear the story of the man’s spiritual journey made the danger worth it to Boone.
He was about to turn in at 11 p.m. when Haeley called. “I’m so sorry to bother you,” she said, “but I need help. A neighbor lady just getting home from work saw my light on and came to my door to tell me I had a flat tire. I don’t know if it was slashed or what, but I can see it from here.”
Boone was tempted to ask if she had a AAA account, but if she did, she wouldn’t have needed him. Plus, he was glad. Of all the people she could have called . . . well, he was encouraged.
“I’ll be right over.”
“Oh no, it’ll wait till morning. I thought maybe you could come by before work.”
“I’d rather do it now, if you don’t mind.”
“Whatever works for you. Thanks so much.”
“You’ll just need to get me into your trunk so I can get the spare and jack and all.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t want to le
“Just watch for me and use your remote from the window to open the trunk.”
She hesitated. “You think of everything. All right, but when you’re finished, you have to come up for a cup of coffee.”
“Don’t feel obligated, Haeley. Really.”
She laughed. “I call you probably out of bed in the middle of the night and I’m not supposed to feel obligated? Anyway, I’m not just being polite. Now promise me.”
Like he was going to turn down that invitation.
An hour later he had changed the tire and sat in her living room trying to warm his hands with the cup. “You didn’t bring gloves?” she said.
“Hard to screw on lug nuts wearing those.”
Their conversation was awkward and halting. Boone started giving signals that he was about to leave. Haeley kept thanking him for coming and helping.
“You’re welcome,” he said, laughing. “Don’t make me say it again. Glad I could do it. Now we’d both better get some sleep, don’t you think?”
She walked him to the door. “Boone, I know what’s going on at the office.”
“You heard me.”
“You know I can’t talk about it.”
“And I wouldn’t want you to. I just wanted you to know that I’m aware, and I understand the weight of it. And of course, the danger.”
“So you’ll pray for me.”
“I pray for you anyway.”
She nodded. “Don’t embarrass me. I know I need prayer. Don’t you?”
He shrugged, feeling his face flush. Boone was glad she hadn’t asked whether he prayed for her. He prayed about her but hadn’t thought to pray for her. Which was pretty shortsighted, as he thought about it. Here was a young, vulnerable, single mother with a lot tougher life than he led. How selfish was he that he didn’t think to include her in his prayers?
“What do you say we agree to pray for each other from now on?” he said.
She smiled. “That would be great, since I’m already doing my part.” She paused again, appearing to search for words. “Boone, I was a little hard on you Sunday. I wasn’t trying to be mean. It’s just that I heard you didn’t stay for the service and it made me think you were there only to see me.”
“Yeah, well, you were wrong about that.” He told her how the song had overwhelmed him.
“I should have realized that,” she said. “I’m sorry. Anyway, it wasn’t my place to chastise you.”
“Just tell me I can see you and Max now and then away from the office, and all will be forgiven.”
“Of course you can.”
“And that if the brass asks what I’ve said about my current assignment—”
“You haven’t said a word.”
Haeley took his hand in both of hers as he was leaving, and he stopped and turned. “Now tell me the truth, Haeley: don’t you have AAA?”
She nodded, looking resigned. “I would try to pull something over on a cop, wouldn’t I?”
He laughed. “At least tell me you didn’t flatten your own tire. I saw a nail in it.”
“Of course not! But I have to say it didn’t break my heart to have a reason to get you over here. My biggest fear was that you would take me up on the suggestion that it wait till morning. I was saying one thing and hoping another.”
“Well, that’s about the nicest thing I’ve heard for as long as I can remember. Makes me want to ask you out.”
“You catch on fast, Detective.”
“Weeknights are bad for me, obviously.”
“This weekend? Saturday?”
She nodded. “That gives me time to get a sitter.”
Much as Boone wanted to see Max too, he couldn’t have been more thrilled to get time alone with Haeley. They agreed on an early dinner Saturday night.
On the way home, Boone got a text from Francisco Sosa.
Up working late and thinking about you. I’m going to stop pestering you, but feel free to call or drop in anytime. One more verse for you. Isaiah 26:3.
Boone couldn’t wait to get home and look it up in Nikki’s Bible.
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.
Boone lay on his back in the stillness of the night, too excited to sleep. He had prayed that God would reveal himself and help him find peace and rest. Those prayers were being answered. Well, except the rest part. But how could he sleep now?
As risky and terrifying as his assignment was, he looked forward to meeting the infamous Pascual Candelario. And while Francisco Sosa was backing off, Boone had a feeling PC was going to need a pastor someday too. Was it realistic to think he might be able to get the two of them together? Maybe Candelario couldn’t be seen in public at a megachurch like Community Life, but Boone was certain Sosa would be happy to have an influence on someone like Pascual, especially considering their common ethnicity and mother tongue.
The prospect of getting to know Haeley better was risky and terrifying too, in its own way. And Boone knew it was the real reason he found it hard to sleep.
“Is there such a thing as being overprepared, Jack?” Boone said at work the next day. “I don’t know what else to do during a week that drags like this.”
Keller smiled. “You implying you have experience with this sort of a case?”
“Well, me either, so how would anyone know if you’re overprepared? I can’t imagine a downside of knowing everything there is to know about our man.”
“I feel like I’ve memorized all the files.”
“Take a break.”
“Sure. Go somewhere. Do something else. You’re gonna drive yourself nuts otherwise.”
“What’m I going to do, go to the aquarium?”
“You could do worse. Run, work out, read a book, see a movie. By the time this is over, we’re likely to owe you hours, not the other way around.”
Boone knew Jack was right, but he still couldn’t pull himself away from the files and surveillance videos supplied by the Chicago Crime Commission. And of course there were the photos from CSI and his own copious notes about the strange crime scene and the shells that had fired only blanks.
He slid from a folder the picture of the man Pascual Candelario had usurped to become the most powerful gangbanger in Chicago history. Jazzy Villalobos was a bald, thin-faced razor of a man with a soul patch and two neat rows of crosses tattooed around his neck. He also sported a tattooed teardrop under each black, soulless eye.
According to the Crime Commission, Jazzy had somehow become PC’s most loyal soldier, unusual for a man who had been enthroned before Pascual rose. The man seemed, so said informants, to enjoy his first lieutenant’s role even more than he had enjoyed being king.
Was it possible PC had somehow kept his most dire secret from Jazzy? Did he have a choice? If Villalobos caught wind of the boss’s flip, wouldn’t Candelario be vaporized, not a drop of DNA to be found?
Boone sat watching the CCC recordings over and over until it was time for the techies to deliver the phones for him and Candelario. That gave Boone something else to play with.
For the rest of the day, he found himself wandering in and out of his office and inventing things to chat with Haeley about. He could tell by her look that she knew he was suffering from anticipation. Boone looked forward to their date, but of course meeting the DiLoKi Brotherhood king monopolized his mind.
Keller ordered Boone to stay away from the office Thursday. “Everything is in place. We’ll have personnel in the area, and we’ll be monitoring your conversation via the phones. Just trust your support system.”
“Let me ask you something, Boss. Am I right that there’s a manual override on these phones?”
“You mean to keep us from hearing you?”
“For some personal stuff, maybe.”
“Nothing can be personal here, Boones.”
“Hear me out, Jack. One of the advantages of me doing this is that spiritually, Pascual and I are brothers. You don’t want or need to hear us talk about that.”
Jack sat back and rubbed his mouth. “Everything’s instructive to us. But if you think there’s some value in you guys connecting on some personal level, I don’t have a problem with it. But don’t be off the air for too long at one time. What are we supposed to do then, with no idea whether you’re in trouble?”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
After midnight Thursday, Boone was ready. More than ready. He was dressed similarly to when he had visited the chaplain. With a .22 strapped to his ankle, his and Pascual Candelario’s new phones in one pocket and his own cell in the other, he set out for the parking garage, having settled on an old Buick LeSabre to get him there.
A couple of blocks from the garage, he received a text from Jack.
Green light. All systems go?
Boone texted back:
Just as he reached the garage, he got another text and was stunned to see it was from Haeley.
Boone was ahead of schedule, so he lingered outside the garage to be sure his signal wouldn’t be interrupted.
No access to a Bible. Anyway, what r u doing up?
Like I could sleep.
U need 2.
Worried about u.
Thanks. Got 2 go. What’s the verse?
A minute later she responded:
With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.
Just what I needed. Thanks. Pray 4 me.
The Brotherhood by Jerry B. Jenkins / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes