by Chris James
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Rated Mature 18+
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The Dutchman Diner had a small back room for parties and somehow Ed had arranged for them to use it for their breakfast. Considering there were people out looking for BD that seemed like a good idea. It paid to be cautious, especially since they really didn't know what they were up against.
Bill had gone through the documents Ed had left and now had a better understanding. There were seventy-eight names on that list of militia members, a sizeable number, but one that didn't tell him much about who they were.
People were motivated to join organizations like this for a variety of reasons, a lot of them irrational. Anyone who might think they could overthrow the government was nuts and more than a little paranoid. "We the people" was not just about seventy-eight guys, and perhaps women, on the fringe of society. There were millions who thought these militia groups were lunatics.
But naming themselves God's Chosen suggested religion as the source of their fanaticism, or at least Bishop Tilden's brand of religion. But the man had a media empire for his programming and that was a source of considerable income. Why did he need a militia?
The gay issues were just part of the fog surrounding this bunch. They needed someone to hate and now it was gay people. Thirty years ago it would have been black people. Hate created fear and fear was a good money maker. Perhaps the God's Chosen was there to give Tilden's flock a sense of security. How irrational.
Bill pulled into the parking lot of the diner and found an empty slot next to Ed's Jeep and a state patrol car. Matt still had three days left on his shift, but as a sergeant he set his own patrol schedule unless he was called away to something special.
"Matt's here," Tim said.
"I see that," Bill replied.
"How are things going with him? I haven't seen him in like six months."
"He's good ... we're good. There's a picnic on the Fourth of July and you're invited," Bill said.
"Oh, I'd like that, but it's a month away," Tim said.
"Yeah, well, with a cop you have to plan in advance. He's going to take the day off. So let's go meet some people."
Ed and Matt both gave Tim a hug when they walked in the room and the others shook hands. Bill made the introductions, carefully watching Tim's reaction to BD. The table was big enough for a dozen people but the four adults gathered together at one end while the three boys crowded the other.
"Handsome young man," Andy said.
"A far cry from the skinny little boy I first met," Matt said. "What have they been feeding him?"
"That Providence is a boot camp in disguise," Ed said. "I've seen Army recruits go through training who didn't turn out this well."
"He liked it," Bill said.
"Did you get a chance to look through that stack of paper?" Ed asked.
"Yes, I got through most of it last night. Who are these people?"
"I started running a probable cause search on the names this morning," Matt said. "Always good to know if there are felons in a weapons environment since we could bust them for that. But a couple of those names disturb me…I know those guys."
"Really? In what context?" Bill asked.
"Gene Miller is a trooper up in Centennial, and Bob Davis is the sheriff of Adams County. I'll have the particulars on the rest of them this afternoon. I imagine they'll all be members of that church and upstanding citizens, at least on paper."
"You don't think there are any criminals in the bunch?" Bill asked.
"Sure there are, but they probably aren't on that list. It isn't like this Joab character is going to announce who he really is. Maybe we'll get some idea once the ID's come back."
"I spoke with Boze last night and gave him the particulars," Andy said. "He'll get back to me later."
"We have to keep moving for that poor girl's sake," Bill said.
"I doubt if they're going to hurt her," Matt said. "She's just the bait."
"Has BD received any further communications?" Bill asked.
"Not yet ... but we were thinking about a means of flushing them out into the open," Andy said. "Unfortunately our only idea involves you contacting Tilden on behalf of the boy."
Bill thought about that a moment. "We could get a court order to keep Tilden away from his son. He's talked enough anti-gay rhetoric in the public forum for a judge to think he might be a threat to his son. But do any of you believe that will stop what's going on?"
"No," Ed said. "So far our advantage is that they don't know about us. A court order would give them your name and I see that as a negative. We need some leverage on Tilden and maybe Boze can help us get that. I've got a bad feeling about that militia."
"Let me work the names," Matt said. "At least that's something I can pursue…whatever else you decide to do I don't want to know the details. Try to keep this legal, okay?"
"Who is this Boze person they keep talking about?" Tim asked. The boys could hear most of the conversation at the other end of the table but not the details.
"I call him Uncle Boze," Mitch said. "He was a big help to Dad when my mother died. But he was dad's boss in the spy business back in their Navy days."
"Cool," Tim said, and then he looked at BD. "So what's the story on your father? If he's a religious man why all this kidnapping and drama?"
"His religion only takes him so far," BD said. "He uses it like a tool to pry money out of the hands of the ignorant."
"But he's a successful minister of the gospel, how did he get started with that?" Mitch asked.
"It's a family tradition, that's for sure. I know the family came from somewhere in Oklahoma a long time ago. My great-grandfather was a farmer and went broke when the crops failed so they moved to Colorado. He and his two brothers worked in the gold mines in Victor for years until that killed them.
"My grandfather found another path open to him in the ministry of the gospel and eventually left Victor to found a church in Colorado Springs. He married and began to build his ministry, but even then they were poor since the town was still very small.
"You understand, this is a story my father tells so I don't know how much truth is in it. But he says my grandfather became a successful minister and that influenced his early years. I never met the man because he died before I was born.
"So my father was allowed to read Bible verses to the congregation when he was just a little boy and my grandfather encouraged him into the ministry. Those poor times in the family only got worse when my grandfather died. By then my father was in school studying to be a minister.
"My grandmother was always his pillar of strength and worked odd jobs and put him through school. He never forgot that and finally bought a house when she retired and that's where she lived with my mother until she died.
"Revival meetings were all the rage about the time he left school and so my father proclaimed himself to be Bishop Tilden and with a small group of followers they traveled the country by bus holding prayer meetings. That's where he met my mother, they got married and he sent her back to Colorado to give birth to my sister.
"The tour ended every winter and he would come home, that's where my two older brothers came from, and then me, I'm the youngest. I guess by then he grew tired of traveling and started preaching on the radio until cable television came along and his empire started growing.
"I'm the only member of the family that never participated in his ministry, but then I'm gay and that makes me the black sheep in his little flock. But you've heard what he has to say about gays…the concentration camps where we can all die of AIDS. He's a sick man between his ears and unfortunately a lot of people listen to him and believe."
"I'm sorry, you must be miserable," Mitch said.
BD smiled. "Not really, he's never been a father to me, just an authority figure. I think he always expected one of his sons to take up his ministry and carry on the tradition. Barry was just too hot headed for something like that, but he still works with the church. Neil may still succeed at becoming a minister, he's a missionary now.
"I wouldn't even consider it, but I've used the family money to learn things. When I enrolled in school online my father paid for it. But that was all two years ago and I doubt if there will be any more tuition money available after this fiasco."
"How will you survive?" Tim asked. "I mean you're smart, you can always get a job doing something, but you can't spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder."
"I'm gay, smart and attractive…you think I'll have a problem?" BD said with a laugh. "Forget I said that. I sorta think my father is going down in a big way now that these guys are involved. Kidnapping is a federal crime, and I'm sure there are other things going on. I think this militia has killed other people."
"These militias are all about overthrowing the government, is that really what your father wants?" Mitch asked.
"I doubt it," BD replied. "I'm sure he knows some of what's going on but I don't think he's in control of them. We have to find out who this Joab guy is. All this Christian rhetoric almost seems illogical if they commit crimes. Jesus railed against thieves and murderers in his teachings, although he forgave them. "
Tim laughed. "So you do know your Bible, huh?"
BD actually blushed. "Yeah, I guess some of those Bible lessons rubbed off on me. But my father's brand of Christianity has made me an atheist."
"The Bible has some good stuff in it," Mitch said. "But then so does the Quran and the Torah. It's the interpretation that gets it all wrong, like the way your father uses scripture to preach hate."
"My, My ... someone reads a lot of books," Tim said. "I prefer fiction."
"What makes you think all these religious books aren't fiction?" BD asked.
"I have no answer to that," Tim said. "I've never read them. So what are they plotting down there?"
"We'll find out eventually," Mitch said. "So what are you guys eating for breakfast?"
They each ordered a customary large breakfast while the adults were a little more calorie conscious. About halfway through the meal Andy's cell phone rang and he smiled when he saw the name on the screen.
"Boze, hello there."
A one sided conversation was hardly understandable, but Boze seemed to do most of the talking while Andy listened carefully.
"Colorado Springs, the business terminal, four o'clock…I got it," Andy said. "I'll bring a van and some help. See you then…" And Andy hung up. "Boze will be here at four."
"What airline?" Bill asked.
"Business terminal, he has his own jet."
"That's convenient ... and expensive," Ed said.
"He's bringing a lot of stuff so it's probably cheaper."
"Just what is his specialty?" Bill asked. "Security can mean a lot of things."
"Oh, they do surveillance work and on site security for the rich and famous. Boze designs security systems for commercial buildings and celebrity residences, and he has people for different situations."
"If they come in here armed to the teeth I don't want to know about it," Matt said.
"I doubt that will be necessary," Andy said. "The concept is to find the girl through observation and let your people handle the extraction."
"Well, fine. Captain Willows would approve of that."
"So he knows," Bill said.
"He knows what I know," Matt said. "I told him we had clues to the whereabouts of the missing girl. It's been over forty-eight hours since she was reported missing and that makes it a state police issue. We have a state wide bulletin in effect…"
"But that means the trooper up in Centennial knows she's been reported missing," Andy said.
"It was inevitable. They would expect the mother to report her daughter missing, that's a normal reaction. Miller might report that back to his militia commander if he's involved, but they have no reason to believe we might know where she is."
Castlewood Canyon State Park had a single entrance off Highway 83 about three miles past the access road to the Dunlop property. The park road led to a parking lot surrounding the ranger station which was totally unsuitable for their purposes.
From there hiking trails led off into the scrub growth filled with pines and grasslands surrounding the canyon and Cherry Creek. The land was bleak and rocky until you got to the shore of the lake where the trees grew thicker and the brush was abundant because of the water source. A good place to hide.
The road map Bill had taken from his car didn't show much in the way of detail, but they could get that from Google. Boze might have his own ideas about where and when to approach the lake, but Ed suggested a likely scenario.
"If he comes in here at four that doesn't give us much time to get in position today. Besides, we have to arrange a van for the equipment and motel rooms for our guests. I don't know how much stuff will have to be carried in and we can't just leave the van out in the open."
"That lake is almost forty miles north of Colorado Springs and we're seventy miles from there," Matt said. "You ought to get rooms in Colorado Springs near the airport…at least some place for the boys to stay."
"I hate to say this but we need to take BD with us because he knows the property," Ed said.
"I was afraid of that," Andy said. "Well then, Mitch can hold down the fort while we're gone."
"I don't think either you or Bill should get involved," Ed said.
"Hold on ... "
"No, Andy, he's right," Bill said. "This surveillance doesn't need a lot of people and neither of us has a lot of skill at sneaking around in the woods. Matt won't be there either and who knows how many men Boze is bringing. A large group is just going to attract attention."
Andy nodded. "Okay, but we'll have to let Boze make the final decisions, this is his show. So when do we start?"
"This morning," Ed said. "We have things to arrange before Boze gets here."
Bill drove back to the apartment so they could pack a bag while Ed took the others back to their motel for much the same reasons. Matt would head north to the barracks in Colorado Springs and wait for the data on the militia members to come in.
They would need a van, but Hertz had such things at the airport. At least five motel rooms and Bill was sure Tim wouldn't mind sharing with BD. No, six rooms, and then perhaps Matt could…
"I'm going with the surveillance team," Tim said when they reached the apartment.
"What for?" Bill asked.
"BD says the area across the lake has some pretty steep canyon walls. They'll have to carry all that equipment up to the top to get a view across the lake. I'm probably better qualified to make that climb then any of the other team members."
Bill smiled. "Are you sure this isn't about BD?"
Tim blushed and if that weren't answer enough he nodded. "I like him, but I saw you watching us at breakfast."
"I agree, you have the right skills, but like Andy said, this is Boze's show."
"I'll talk him into it," Tim said. And no doubt he would.
Tim would be safe with Ed there, and isn't that what every parent worried about? It wouldn't hurt to let Tim display his skills and at least he would get to spend time with BD. After this who knew where that boy would end up.
By now Bill figured BD was his client although there weren't any real legal issues at the moment, but there would be. If Tilden was caught doing something illegal then there would be a whole range of legal issues, especially if the family was involved.
BD was eighteen and bright, confident, and not afraid of being gay…perhaps that was the attraction. Tim didn't have any real sexual experience except for the bad kind, but that was in the past. No, Bill could not object to his new son finding out about himself with BD.
Bill drove back to the little run down motel that Ed seemed to favor and found the others gathered in the parking lot. Andy and Mitch would take their car, Ed his Jeep and Bill would tail along behind with Tim and BD as passengers.
"Hertz has a cargo van waiting for us at the terminal," Ed said. "I also booked us rooms at the Radisson by the airport."
"Radisson? And how expensive is that?" Bill asked.
"Eh, a hundred bucks a night…we get a business discount. I booked six rooms."
Six hundred a night was a hefty sum and Bill wondered who would be paying for that? They needed to sit down this evening and discuss money. The bill from Boze would be the big expense and since BD was the client Bill wondered if the cost would fall on him? There was no time to think about that as the vehicles were loaded and their little caravan headed north on the Interstate.
Ninety minutes later Ed took the exit towards the airport in Colorado Springs. A large passenger jet glinted in the sunlight as it took off from the runway in the distance. Bill had not been in a plane for quite some time, or taken a vacation for that matter. Maybe when this was all over he should take Tim someplace nice.
The Radisson was less than a mile from the airport and was nicer than Bill expected. Ed checked them in and Bill saw him lay a credit card on the desk which the clerk quickly accepted. They were given pass key cards and carried their luggage down the hall to the rooms at the back on the first floor. Ed already had the room assignments planned out, and Tim was in with BD.
There was time to settle in and they arranged to meet in the restaurant for lunch before they went to get the van. The way things looked, Bill, Andy and Mitch would be left behind during this little scouting expedition. He would have to give Tim his cell phone since there had been no time to get the boy one of his own. This was all happening so fast.
Lunch was a simple affair and when it was done Bill and Ed took off for the airport to pick up the rental van. Ed had hoped the vehicle would be non-descript and not something bright yellow, they got lucky. The Ford Econoline was a deep green without the Hertz logo on the side. This was good since it would blend in with the scenery.
They had two hours to kill and so they drove the van to the Radisson and took Ed's Jeep back towards the Interstate. They quickly found the Mountain Chalet, an outdoor outfitter with all the gear someone might need to climb a mountain. Ed said he needed some climbing boots and assorted bits and pieces.
Bill was happy to see the Radio Shack two doors down and left Ed trying on boots while he went to get Tim a pre-paid cell phone. He chose a name brand, one with a camera and a strong signal. He returned to find Ed loading several boxes in the Jeep.
"What's all that?" Bill asked.
"Climbing rope and some insulated tarps. The guy in there was pretty helpful since he's been hiking out at Castlewood Canyon. Hot during the day and could be in the forties at night. I like to stay warm."
"I doubt if you'll have to stay there overnight. The Park Rangers won't like that," Bill said.
"Hopefully they won't even know we're there. Just sayin' I don't like to be cold and we don't know how long this is going to take. But Tim and I both know climbing if it comes to that. I'm counting on BD to find us a good angle on the militia property."
"You think this is going to work?" Bill asked.
"Boze sounds like he knows what we're getting into," Ed said. "That plane will be loaded with all the right tools for a job like this. Andy told me a few things about his buddy and the toys he likes to use. It seems Boze has done a few side jobs for Homeland Security and the border patrol down Mexico way. They wouldn't hire him unless he was good."
"Sounds fine…you just keep an eye on Tim. I want him back in one piece."
"I've got his back, nothing will ever change that," Ed said.
Ed and Bill took the Jeep while Andy drove the van over to the airport around three-thirty. The boys were left at the Radisson working on BD's laptop. Bill thought they were playing games but then he got a good look at the monitor screen. BD was slowly combing the Google Earth views of the lake looking for the best vantage point to observe what was across the water.
They parked the vehicles in the lot outside the business terminal. Like every airport there was a security fence around the taxiways and runways to keep unauthorized visitors away from the millions of dollars in aircraft. They would have to wait for Boze to land and authorize their admittance.
Andy's cell phone rang ten minutes after they entered the building and Boze said they were on final approach. He would be on the ground in about eight minutes. Andy said they were waiting. Bill counted down the minutes until he saw a little Honda Business Jet touch down on the runway.
The sleek little craft headed their way and as it approached Bill saw the lettering beneath the windows that said Bozeman Security.
"A business tax write off if I ever saw one," Bill said. "I wonder how much they cost."
"About three and a half million dollars," Ed said. "Wish I could fly."
"Is Boze the pilot?"
"Oh yeah," Andy said. "He wanted to be a jet jockey in the Navy but lucky for me they slated him for an intelligence post."
"They wouldn't let him the aviation program?"
"Nope ... he's too tall to fit in a fighter cockpit."
And tall he was. There was no mistaking the man as he bounced down the steps of the jet. Boze had to be at least six foot five and thin as a rail. The man behind him looked like an ex-Marine, but that was to be expected.
Both men wore khaki coveralls with their names and Bozeman Security embroidered on the fabric above the breast pocket. Everything about them said military, from the short haircuts right down to the combat boots on their feet. They walked through the door of the terminal and Boze smiled when he saw Andy.
"Good to see you," Andy said, and then made the introductions. "Did you have a good flight?"
"What a great day to be in the sky," Boze said, shaking hands all around. "I always love seeing the Rockies from thirty thousand feet. This is Rick, our mission specialist."
"We have the van out front," Andy said.
"Good, let me have a chat with the security people."
That didn't take long with Boze's credentials, and they drove the van through the security gate and out to the jet.
"Pretty little thing, isn't she?" Boze said, and Bill could only agree. Ed looked the plane over and smiled.
"It looks tiny."
"Seats four passengers, does almost five hundred miles an hour and I can fly halfway across the country before I have to top off the tanks. Want one?"
"I don't even know how to fly," Ed said.
"Aw, you could learn that…so why don't we unload?"
The plane had been modified with a service hatch at the back that accessed the inside compartment. Rick unlocked the hatch and began pulling out equipment cases, lots of them. It was a good thing the van had a big capacity.
"Wow, what did you bring us?" Andy asked.
"Comm gear, eyes on the ground and eyes in the air. You ever seen a Shadow before?" Rick asked.
"Don't get him started," Boze laughed. "He'll fill you so full of technical data you won't be able to eat for a week."
"So what's a Shadow?" Ed asked, and Boze rolled his eyes.
"I'll keep it short, boss ... promise," Rick said. "The Shadow is a Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System. It runs on thermoelectric power, the latest design. It's almost a stealth craft because the electric turbine generators have a tiny heat signature to avoid infrared detection equipment."
"It's a drone," Ed said.
"I don't like that word," Rick said.
"So you pilot this craft?" Bill asked.
"Yes I do, always liked model airplanes when I was a kid."
"Save the explanations until we have everyone together," Andy said. "I'm sure BD would love to know about these things."
"Will do," Rick said and handed Bill a hardened case that couldn't weigh more than thirty pounds. "Just be careful with them…very expensive."
"This is one of them?"
"Nope, two in there. They only have a three foot wingspan, but it's all folded up now."
"Incredible, what makes them fly?"
"I do, but the idea behind thermoelectrics is that as one side of the wing gets cold the other heats up, you get that at altitude and it creates an electrical charge. Kinda crazy but it works. You should see what they have planned for tanks…but that's still top secret."
"Enough, Rick," Boze said. "You can explain it all later."
"He's the boss, huh?" Ed said.
"You bet," Rick said. "He buys the toys and I get to play with them."
On to Chapter Four
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