I knew it. It was that guy on the same flight. He was barreling his way once again through the crowd of passengers headed for the exit. Was that a gun strapped on his waist? I had to do this. No excuses. If not me, then who? What I heard onboard was enough to put any questions into action. Following him out into the dark I watched as he got into an unmarked black Tahoe. My gut was telling me 'GO' so I flagged a taxi, opened the door, fell in sideways gashing my leg. Seriously? The driver was concerned and paused a moment, but I just waved it off. "Follow that car!"
It began with an awkward moment when we first boarded Flight 69. Suddenly, there was an unplanned layover late into the night from Milwaukee to Boston. Five hours to be exact. Flights were grounded due to the weather and here we were stuck in neutral. At least they let us off the plane and we went back inside the terminal to wait. If I was in a seat with the plane stuck on the runway sitting next to 'The Beast', I would have croaked by now. But now things looked better as the schedule was adjusted when the storm ceased its deadly force. But prior to that time lapse, we were soon to be in midair, hoping to head out before the weather turned ugly. The rush was on. People were scrambling and attempting to shove an overload of stuff in the overhead bins when this guy randomly pushed his way knocking people left and right. He didn't stop until he paused where I was seated and ungraciously threw his large carcass next to me. I'm surprised it held him with the force he used to set his large frame down. Great. He smelled like leftover garbage. I could only imagine where he came from. And this was what I was to put up with until we landed? But the captain immediately informed us of the change in plans due to Mother Nature. Thankfully, we were escorted quickly back to the terminal gate, and everyone went inside to wait it out.
It seemed only a moment that the five-hour window was soon over. We were finally in the air and enroute on the same path to Boston's Logan Airport. And of course, we had to be in the same seats. Did 'The Beast' change for the better in that time? Not by a long shot. Now he smelled worse than ever. What was his issue. Am I being overly judging? Maybe he didn't have access to clean laundry or a washing machine. Whatever. I chose to just flip through a glitzy magazine picked up off a random shelf at the airport news stand. All about celebrities and their walk on the carpet. I really didn't care what color, red, green, or the magic one, since I was only killing time glancing through the pages. The Beast was busy on his phone, texting up a storm. He would read something and then grumble under his breath. That passed until he slammed the phone on his knee. It was more than a few times. I couldn't make out the nature of who his contact was, but the feeling certainly was not good. Several times he spoke under his breath gritting his teeth as he typed a message. I heard, "Show me the f-ing cargo or we will not go empty handed. You know what I mean, so don't mess with me. Someone's gonna get hurt." Bumping elbows more than a few times was enough and there was no apology or acknowledgement from him at all. I was stuck in place, couldn't get up or out so I just hunkered down and pretended I was engaged in what I was reading. What was going down? I really didn't want to be in any part of this but here I am listening to more of a nightmare that was soon to unfold. Twenty minutes and we would be landing at Logan. Then what?
My mind started to guess and question this guy. I could not ignore what I was hearing. This was not someone just needing his cargo load of a huge take-out food order to go, pronto and on time. Imagine a Burger King order gone wrong? Okay. Put that moment on hold. Now was not the time to think this was a funny BK commercial. Who was in trouble?
The approach to Boston was announced and we all prepared for the landing. 'The Beast' held a fist to his chin. He had a smirky grin when I side glanced for a second and could only guess what that meant but kept looking straight ahead. We landed and came to a stop at the gate. 'The Beast' had nothing with him and proceeded to once again push his way through to get out first. He didn't care about the mayhem causing people to drop bags and fall over one another. He was being talked about as everyone exited. "Looks like he got what was coming." The captain and pilot had stopped him and there were some heated words. 'The Beast' told him discreetly what he thought of the flight and stormed off pointing back to the flight crew. "You all ---." Right, have a wonderful night yourself.
And now here I was in pursuit of this monster who had an agenda to mess someone up big time. Should I call the cops and tell them, what, that I overheard something, maybe, going down or was the guy just joking?
The guy driving said, "What up man? We do this?" I told him, absolutely, just follow the black Tahoe and it'll all be good. No worries. He floored it and we headed into Southie, zigzagging until the harbor was in the distance. "Hey, slow down here, okay?" He pulled over and we watched the Tahoe stop discreetly out of sight but near enough to the front of a cargo ship. Four guys got out all dressed alike in camo gear holding long guns. A play was definitely in action. and we would be witness to it. "Hey, man, we don't be doing good here." The taxi driver wanted to leave, but I told him I'd pay a triple amount for my ride to stay. He quickly nodded. My mind was going a mile a minute with the who, what, where, and how. Suddenly, the door flew open, and an arm reached in, grabbed and pulled me out of the car. Before I could shout, a hand was over my mouth. It was 'The Beast'!
I struggled but he held on firmly. He distinctly said in a low voice. "Don't. This is Lt. Dekon, SWAT commander." He told me in short, the who, what, where and why of what was going down. "We know you. This was set up." The taxi guy was in on it, too and quickly grabbed his gear from the trunk. There were slight apologies for the rough housing during the flight. But it was planned as I had the extreme knowledge that they needed to crack the code and get into the ships database. It was more than ship tracking and navigation. There was an extensive movement of high uranium from all corners of the globe. As a chemist and mineralogist my hand in negotiating a stopping point was crucial. "Sir, thank you." The Beast handed me an iPad. Time was crucial. Nighttime movement needed to be interrupted ASAP. He nodded and I went at it. This was my calling, and I answered. After a few moments with my head in a spin cycle on power drive, I breathed a heavy sigh. Looking out over the water with that cargo ship on a potentially fatal voyage, I could only think about what might have happened had I not reacted to his folly. With firm resolve, I handed him the iPad, voicing one word. "DONE!"