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Old Tides

PROLOGUE

 

Two Hispanic men sat at a table outside a local Mexican restaurant in the city limits of Rome Georgia. On the table in front of each man was a Carta Blanco beer, chips, and salsa. The salsa was the owner’s private recipe, and not served to the regular customers, and was poured into two separate bowls in front of each man by the waiter. The waiter was very nervous and almost spilt the salsa. Like all the workers at the restaurant they knew who Emilio was and who he worked for.

The man named Emilio requested from the owner that no one else be seated outside in the small courtyard area until he and his guest had left. The request by the man happened at least once a month and on the rare occasion maybe twice in one month. When Emilio asked for something, the owner did as asked of him without hesitating. Crossing Emilio was the same as crossing the benefactor and no one crossed Senor Raul Garcia. Death was a blessing compared to what Senor Garcia would do to you. Most of the owners help was supplied by Senor Garcia.

Emilio had worked for Raul Garcia for the last ten years. He was chauffeur and bodyguard to the man. His job was given to him by no other than Carlos Ramirez himself, the number one drug kingpin in the world today. Ramirez was more like a CEO of a large company with micro cartels in Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and several key states in the U.S. The only difference in Carlos Ramirez and other CEO’s was the fact that he was on the top ten most wanted lists of the DEA and the FBI. Emilio was honored to have been given such a job by the man. His loyalty to Carlos Ramirez was unquestionable.

He did Raul Garcia’s bidding but reported back to Senor Ramirez and his brother-in-law Dominga Chavez. It was the later who worried Emilio, because his son was here and Emilio could see a power shift coming very soon. Antonio Chavez would take over some day soon and Raul Garcia didn’t have a clue as to what was happening. Senor Garcia was too busy playing games with the people he blackmailed and not paying attention to the drug distribution business.

But on this day instead of keeping Senor Ramirez up to date on what Raul Garcia was doing, he was meeting with a man by the name of Enrique Guerrero on behalf of Senor Garcia. Enrique would be overseeing the execution of a problem that was starting to interfere with the distribution of the product Senor Ramirez supplied to the world and in this particular case to the Southeastern United States.

A woman prosecutor was stirring up trouble for Senor Garcia’s drug distribution network. It was now known she would be bringing a DEA task force in to the area, to help with the growing drug problem and violence.

Because of Raul Garcia’s continuing fixation with his exploitive movies of the people he blackmailed into doing his bidding, now things had gotten out of hand. Something had to be done quickly and Lori Baldwin was the first on the list. Even Senor Garcia was afraid of the two men in Mexico. Emilio could tell by the way he talked that Carlos Ramirez and Domingo Chavez worried him. Neither man put up with excuses when it came to the business of trafficking drugs.

Drug shipments had slowed considerably over the last several weeks because of three major drug raids by the DEA in key distribution states. Alternative ways were being required in getting the product out of Miami and shipped northward. If the DEA was able to get a foothold on the size and scope of the distribution network, it could spell trouble for Senor Garcia and cost him and the cartel hundreds of millions of dollars. That could not be tolerated at all. The order had been given to kill the lady prosecutor before it was too late. She was bringing too much attention to the area.

Emilio asked the man sitting across from him if he understood his instructions.

“Of course I do Emilio. It will not be a problem. I know just the man to handle this problem for Senor Garcia.”

“Who do you have in mind Enrique?” Emilio asked knowing what the answer was, but wanted to be sure.

“I will have Miguel Sanchez and his people handle this. Do you want it messy or clean?” The subordinate asked.

Enrique could tell that Emilio didn’t like his answer. Miguel Sanchez was a violent man who was becoming a loose cannon in the organization and that was not good. On more than one occasion Enrique had thought of letting his brother Ernesto take care of Miguel Sanchez once and for all. Enrique’s job could be in jeopardy and quite possibly his life if Miguel went too far.

“I think in the case Enrique, with it being a woman, perhaps clean would be best. Make it look like a robbery. I repeat make it a clean hit and then make Miguel Sanchez vanish.”

“That shouldn’t be a problem Emilio; I will make sure Miguel understands his instructions clearly. I also have someone else in line to take care of Miguel.”

“You do understand Enrique, that failure to get this problem taken care of without any negative reflection towards Senor Garcia and the organization could reflect badly upon your standing with Senor Garcia.”

Enrique swallowed hard and his stomach started to burn and it wasn’t from the salsa. He knew exactly what the man sitting across from him was saying, failure was not an option.

“You have my personal guarantee Emilio that what you have asked of me, all will go smoothly and the woman will be taken care immediately.”

“I knew I could count on you Enrique and will relay your message to Senor Garcia of your personal guarantee on this matter.”

Grabbing the cold beer Enrique took a long drink from the bottle hoping it would help his burning stomach. It didn’t and he knew he was a dead man if Miguel failed to take care of the lady properly.

Shit, maybe he should have Ernesto handle the killing. The only thing was this was not the kind of killing that he wanted his younger brother to do. It wasn’t that he didn’t think his brother could do the job but in this case he didn’t want Ernesto to take the chance if things went bad for some reason. Ernesto was his tool for taking care of the people within the organization like Miguel Sanchez.

Well, there was nothing he could do about it now except hope things went without any trouble. He stood up and said his goodbye’s to Emilio and left. His stomach continued to burn.

After calling Miguel and asking him to come by his house for a little chat, Enrique called his brother and asked him to come by also. He felt it necessary to have Ernesto around when he was in the same room with Miguel Sanchez. The man was wound up tight and could explode into a violent rage at a moments notice. The ‘meth’ was taking over and Miguel was getting out of control.

Enrique could tell from Miguel’s behavior that he was scared of Ernesto and he should be. Miguel was a violent bully, but his brother was a highly trained killer. His brother never got mad, Ernesto killed with no emotion whatsoever. Ernesto enjoyed killing especially if he could track the man down and kill him like animal.

“So, what do you want Enrique, I am very busy.” Miguel was trying to sound tough, but Enrique could see him cutting his eyes toward where Ernesto was standing. Good, if the idiot had any common sense he would be afraid of Ernesto.

“I have a job for you. It comes from Senor Garcia personally.”

Enrique decided to use Garcia’s name in order to get the point across to Miguel of how important it was to do the job right. Even Miguel Sanchez understood what disobeying Raul Garcia could mean, he hoped. He was so wired out it was hard to get a reading on what Miguel thought or how he would react.

“What does he want me do Enrique?” Miguel was all ears now. If Raul Garcia needed something done, then it meant someone needed to be killed. He liked these kinds of jobs.

“Senor Garcia wants you to kill a woman by the name of Lori Baldwin. She is causing trouble for the organization.”

“You have to be kidding Enrique, is this some kind of joke. I don’t think it’s funny. You know that woman is about to put my brother in prison for a very long time.”

He was coming out of the chair as he spoke, when a cocking noise sounded behind him stopping him from moving any further.

“Please sit back down and listen to Enrique, to get up again until my brother is through with you will result in your death Miguel. You know I don’t make idle threats.”

Enrique looked at his brother and nodded his head in thanks. He was glad he had called Ernesto and asked for him to be at the meeting. When Miguel was through with the job of killing the woman, he decided it was time to have Miguel disappear just as Emilio had said. Without Senor Garcia’s blessing it would have been hard to justify and could get himself killed. But Emilio had said make him vanish after he killed the lady prosecutor and that was just as if Senor Garcia had said it personally. Enrique was happy that he finally had permission to take care of the pest.

“This is not a joke Miguel. He wants the woman killed as soon as you can arrange it. It is to look like a robbery and he doesn’t want it messy. That is Senor Garcia’s instructions. Do you understand the orders?”

Miguel Sanchez looked at Ernesto with a sullen expression on his face and said, “Yes I understand. It will be done by the end of the week. Is that soon enough for you Enrique?”

“I will let Senor Garcia know what the time table is and that you understand what his instructions are Miguel.”

“If you are you through with me Ernesto, I need to go plan this out with my posse.”

“Yes, I have nothing else to discuss with you, Miguel.”

Miguel Sanchez decided on the way out the door, not only would the hit be messy for the woman who was prosecuting his brother Juan. When he was finished with the woman prosecutor, he would come and kill Enrique and his brother Ernesto. It was time he started running the show around here. This town was about to find out who the big man was.

His drug intake was so high that it clouded his judgment. Miguel would never have the smarts to run the illegal drug business the way Raul Garcia ran the business. It took brains as well as might and Miguel never had an abundance of smarts to begin with. His education was limited to the third grade; he quit and followed his brothers to Los Angeles where he was educated on the streets. He eventually made his way east and ended up working for Enrique.

What Miguel didn’t realize or understand was that his drug habit was so out of control; he actually lived in a violent fantasy world of his own making. His paranoia was growing with each passing day and his fantasies of becoming the big man fueled his desires and clouded his judgment.

Enrique looked at his brother and said, “When Miguel is finished with the job, make him disappear and make it very painful for him Ernesto. He has become a detriment to our organization. That punk could get me killed and I can’t allow that to happen.”

“Whatever you say Enrique, with that man it will be a pleasure.” Ernesto pulled out a wicked looking knife and started admiring it. It was hand made and razor sharp.

“I knew when I asked you join me in this business that we would make a good team. Together my brother, we can make a lot of money if we do as Senor Garcia asks.”

 

CHAPTER 1
Raw Violence

 

Lori Baldwin glanced outside as she hurried by the front window to see if the kids had gotten on the school bus yet. As usual, they were going at each other back and forth, but Lori knew that they cared for each other and were very close. It was a typical morning; everybody was late getting up and getting ready for the coming day. She grabbed her keys and briefcase and headed for the door.

Lori was to be in a very important meeting this morning at eight o’clock. The local law enforcement and DEA agents who were part of a Mobile Enforcement Teams (MET) would be flying in from Florida and driving from Atlanta as part of this meeting. It was about the gangs and the sale of illegal drugs that was starting to rear its ugly head in town. Lori wanted to stop it before it got out of control. After the meeting, she had to prepare her opening brief in a case against a known drug dealer. It was going to be a busy day.

Drugs where already a problem in town and violence would follow, because it always did and there were plenty of statistics to prove her point. Lori was a prosecutor and knew all about gangs and drugs. She worried about Megan and Nicole being at school where there could be a problem of this type. Everyday she tried saying something about drugs and so far, it looked like she was able to keep them from trying them.

She walked in quickstep and got in the car, started it up and backed down the driveway, looking to see that the girls were still on the sidewalk. There was a young man up the street looking toward her and the girls. Lori then saw him motion to something or someone down the street from him.

He looked familiar and then it dawned on her who he was. Miguel Sanchez was his name and he was one of the gang members she was trying to run out of town. Miguel was as cruel and violent as his brother was. Unlike most of the people above Miguel in the cartel, he used the products he was selling. The man was an addict in the worst way and his behavior was becoming a concern to his immediate boss Enrique Guerrero.

She was also in the process of prosecuting his brother Juan Sanchez, for murder. It was then she noticed the foreign made sedan with the dark windows slowing and stopping to pick up Miguel. He pointed toward her and the kids and then got in the car.

Lori, for a long time, would not know what made her back towards the girls honking the horn telling them to get in the car and stay down. In her wildest dreams, did she ever think that these people would come after her?

By the time the girls quit being so startled to react to what their mother was saying; the sedan was almost beside her car. Just as Megan and Nicole got into the back seat, with Lori screaming for them to get down in the floor, the back window of the Explorer disintegrated into a million tiny pieces, covering the girls and their mother. Then the side windows went, and Lori, who had tried to go over the seat into the back to protect the girls, ended up being hit several times with the automatic weapons bullets, besides all the glass that hit her and sliced her up.

It was over in a matter of seconds, but it felt like a lifetime to them. Their screaming seemed to go on and on, echoing through the neighborhood.

Friends and neighbors began to come out of their houses and run towards the vehicle. The SUV was a mess; all the windows were shattered and a line of bullet holes went down the length of it. Steam was pouring out of the hood and other liquids out of the bottom of the car running into the street.

The whole block was hysterical, not sure what to do. Afraid to look in the car at what they might see, one of the neighbors finally came to his senses after the shock of seeing the violence, and called 911.

She felt very numb as if time was standing still; Lori was looking at the girls and tried to speak to them to calm them down, but could not seem to get the words to come out of her mouth. Finally, she said very softly to them, “Listen to me, girls; there is a box in my closet. In the box is an address book. Go to the “H’s,” and look for a Simon Hardman. Do you hear me, girls? You must do this, and tell him who you are and what has happened.” Then Lori passed out due to a lack of blood. The girls, stunned by all that had happened and by their mom’s unconsciousness, thinking she might be dead, they started to scream again, wishing the nightmare would end.

The ride to the hospital was in slow motion for Megan and Nicole. Neither understood why their world suddenly turned upside down. They just kept looking at each other and holding hands. Neither realized that their mother had saved both of their lives by getting them inside the car and then lying on top of them. Both had a couple of scrapes, but that was it. Their mom was not so lucky; she was behind them in another ambulance. Lori was just barely clinging to life.

The paramedics had already giving her two pints of blood since arriving at the shooting. They were afraid she was going to go into shock. The police officer sitting beside her shook his head in anger and despair, as he watched the two paramedics try to keep her alive until they arrived at the hospital.

Lori felt she had stepped outside of herself; she had no feeling in any part of her body. However, her mind seemed to be functioning clearly. The girls looked as if they had understood her about calling Simon when they got the chance.

God, he would be needed to protect the girls. If he would come that is. She had kept up on him through his sister even though he did not know. Sue had told her all about what he had done in the military and with the DEA. When Simon was at Sue’s house, healing from gunshot wounds, she had nearly gone to see him, but had chickened out. It had been along time since their days as boyfriend and girlfriend in high school, and he didn’t’ know about Megan and Nicole.

The girls would need him more than they ever needed her now that this had happened. Lori still could not believe that the gang had done this. How did they know that she was so close in getting them run out of town? Only a handful of people knew what the plan was for the meeting today. It was too hard to believe that someone in her office would have, could have set her up.

Who it was, and why, she just did not understand. Lori would not know those answers for a long time, and thankfully, she passed out again as the ambulance pulled up to the hospital emergency room entrance.

The girls tried to get out and check on their mom, but the police officer riding with them told them to wait. They did not like this a bit and started to fuss about it. The officer told them it was best for their mom, to get her in the emergency room where they could try to save her life.

“Your mom is in bad shape from protecting you from the shooters. We will also be escorting you back home after the doctor’s release you, and there will be officers at your house until we catch who did this.”

Megan and Nicole just stared at each other realizing for the first time all the danger that was involved. Both started to shake at the same time, the officer grabbed both of them and hugged them, telling them everything would be all right, realizing how lame it sounded.

Officer Johnson was also an angry man. He had two daughters, one of them about the age of these two girls and then his oldest, now, was in college. His youngest would be in the ninth grade and that is what he figured these two girls’ ages were he was hugging now; he did not realize that they were twins. Officer Doug Johnson looked out and saw that is was time to take the girls in. The paramedic’s were opening the door to the ambulance.

The doctors had Lori rushed straight to the operating room; they had stopped the bleeding and needed to get blood back into her quickly or she would not last much longer. Her vital signs were very weak and operating on her to get the bullets and glass fragments out of her might possible kill her. The surgeon looked down at her and thought a human being could go through a meat grinder and look better than this woman did.

Back on the first floor the girls were being looked at by the doctor on call, and all he can think was it was a miracle that all the girls had were at few cut and scratches. He told the girls that they would keep them over night and give them something to help them sleep.

Megan asked him how their mother was doing, and he said, “She is in the operating room and might be for a while.” Then the girls asked him if he would call their Aunt Sue and get her to come and stay with them.

Sue Faraday Malone was not their real aunt but had known them since birth and was good friends with their mother and they had always called her Aunt Sue. Megan and Nicole didn’t know that Sue was there, and trying to fight her way though to get to them.

Sue was finally able to get the police officer’s attention. “Would you please take me to the girls’ room? I am their aunt and I want to see them now,”

Officer Johnson heard her and said, “Follow me, please, and I will show you to their room.”

“Have you found out any information about what happened to their mother?” she asked on the way down the hall.

“No we have not,” he said. “We do know from what the girls said, that your sister said something about a drug gang.”

Sue didn’t correct the police officer about her not being Lori’s sister. Her mission was to get to the girls and get them out of the hospital and the madness. She was the closest thing Lori had to having a sister so why split hairs about it.

“You know she was going after the drug dealers and gangs, Officer Johnson, she was supposed to be gong to a meeting this morning about the gangs that were starting to come into the Rome area.” Sue said.

Officer Johnson looked at Sue and said, “I didn’t know this; I had better call Chief James and let him know. You go on in and see your nieces while I go call Chief James. This will change everything from what I first thought it was. We were thinking it was a car jacking gone bad by some punks who needed some money for their drug habits.”

Sue pushed open the door and when the girls saw her, they nearly knocked the doctor down rushing to her open arms. She wrapped her arms around both of them and squeezed.

“Aunt Sue, they tried to kill Mom!” they shouted.

“Yes, girls I know.” She was amazed that the girls only had a few cuts. She looked over at the doctor and said, “How are they doing?”

The doctor, whose name tag said Dr. Roberta Talbot, told her they would like to keep them over night and watch them. It was a precautionary measure.

“The girls have been through a terrible ordeal and should be watched for signs of shock or trauma for at least overnight.”

Sue replied quickly to the doctor, “I think it would be better if my nieces came home and stayed with me tonight.”

“Okay,” the doctor said, not really wanting to go along with Sue’s request.

“I would like to give them a mild tranquilizer to help them sleep tonight. You may give it to them before they go to bed. It’s not a real strong tranquilizer but it will help them relax.”

“Sounds good to me, Doctor, and would you tell the police that I would like to go ahead, take the girls to my house, and get them away from the craziness and turmoil for now?”

As Sue left with the twins, Megan asks, “Who is Simon Hardman?”

Their mother had said to look in her bedroom closet, and get her personal address book out. They were to look up a man by the name of Simon Hardman and call him and explain what had happened to their mother.

Sue was thunder struck for a moment and then realized what Lori wanted the girls to do was the right thing. Why hadn’t she thought of that? Of all the people who should help, he was the man.

“Who is the man mom wants us to call, Aunt Sue? Mom has never mentioned a man by this name before.” Megan asked again.

Sue looked at the girls and said, “He is your father and my brother!”