Cress and Jones manage to escape and report their discovery to the authorities, who recruit the two muscle-bound civilians to work undercover to help bust what appears to be an international scheme tied to both gun running and the drug trade. Their job is to flush out the bosses of both operations.
The operation becomes more complicated when the cartel enlists Cress and Jones to speed their goods through the warehouse. The cartel leaders are not afraid to get rid any members who don't follow the rules or orders. These two ordinary guys must stay one step ahead if they and their families want to survive this conspiracy.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.41(d)|
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By Howard Reede-Pelling
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2011 Howard Reede-Pelling
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAs the light branch snapped, Ray overbalanced and fell through the tiles of the garage roof. His strong legs protruded between the runners which held the tiles in place. Ray supported himself by firmly grasping the runners and remained quite still, listening and watching for the lights of the nearby house, to illuminate. They did not, all became quiet again.
"You okay?" Gerry queried in a whisper from the bole of the tree above Ray.
"Yeah — hang on 'til I clear these loose tiles!" Ray cautiously did so, making very little noise.
"You climb down, I'll open the door." Ray ordered in a whisper. Ray lightly stepped onto the roof of the vehicle in the garage, dropped to the floor, and then unlocked the side door of the garage to admit his accomplice.
"Can't be anyone home." Gerry whispered.
"They would have to be woken by that racket!" Ray shook his head. "There's a car here, they may be heavy sleepers."
Both moved about with torches flashing cautiously, not wishing to reflect light through the one window, or the cracks of the doors.
"Here!" Ray exalted. "Let's get it open quietly!" The two eased screwdrivers under the nailed lid of the top wooden crate, which was one of three stacked in a corner. They had been covered by a tarpaulin.
"Yep." Ray whispered. "These are the ones they picked up today — the serial numbers tally — and I was right, illegal guns; very well packed!"
The garage light was switched on. The garage illuminated brightly.
"Not the slightest move or you both get it!" Joe Ratt snarled, thin moustache bristling above his tapered goatee. His beady eyes glistened as a slimy smile quirked his weedy features. Bert Luntz, his side-kick, quickly manoeuvred behind the two garage-breakers.
"They's clean." Bert declared. Joe waved the pistol he aimed at Gerry and Ray, motioning for the two to move away from the three crates of contraband.
"I'll put a hole in the first one to move!" Joe threatened, then to Bert. "Tie them up - good n' tight — separate!"
When both intruders were securely bound hand and foot, they were left sitting by the main garage door upon the concrete floor; Bert being given the pistol and ordered to guard the two men. Joe climbed into the vehicle and used the portable telephone always left within.
"Dermutt, its Joe, me an' Bert just caught two blokes that got in to the merchandise - ? No. I got 'em tied up. No, I dunno either of 'em but I think the heavy one works at the warehouse. I'm sure he's the one I got the delivery from!" There was a long pause as Joe listened to instructions; with an occasional; 'Yeah!' Of acknowledgement. Joe said.
"We'll find something there, don't want anything from here recognised, should be car parts or something at the tip there — okay?" Joe hung up the receiver in its cradle; then ordered.
"Help me lift 'em in the car; we're going on a little trip!" The sleek black automobile purred along the highway. A seemingly endless queue of overhead lights slipped by monotonously, as the two bound captives struggled with their bonds, whilst laying most awkwardly on the back seat and floor of the vehicle; where they were unceremoniously dumped.
"That there is the wrecker's yard!" Joe told Bert, who was driving. "Use the lane at the other end — won't have to carry them so far!"
"Ugh — huh!" Bert agreed.
This little back road was rarely used and it was well pot-holed, due to the muddy nature of its structure. It was a most uncomfortable journey for the trussed pair who were attempting to undo each other's knotted bonds. Each jolt tore fingers away from the ropes of which they were attempting to rid themselves. The car turned a corner at the extreme end of the car-wrecker's yard.
"As I remember, the dam is over there behind those bushes where the gum trees are, we'll have to stop here and drag them through the fence." Bert allowed.
"Scout around for something heavy to hold them down!" Joe ordered. He peeked in to be sure their victims were still secure, then, satisfied, searched in a different direction to that taken by his underling; for a couple of heavy objects.
"Ain't nothin 'about. There's a log, but that might float." Bert worried, when their search brought the gun-runners together again.
"The bolt cutters are in the boot. Let's get through the fence and find an axle or an engine block. An engine block will hold them both down!" Joe ordered
He sent Bert to collect the bolt cutters. While Joe and Bert were searching, Ray had managed to extricate himself from beneath Gerry. Kneeling, he had lifted the button that kept the car door locked, with his strong teeth. He remained quite still when he observed Bert returning to the car, shushing Gerry to remain still also. When Bert went back to Joe, having acquired the bolt cutters, Ray opened the car door and both managed to roll out; still securely bound. Now able to move about better, Ray began to tug at the knots securing Gerry's hands. Their two kidnappers were struggling with an engine block from the wrecker's yard, and had managed to get it through an opening cut in the fence; when Gerry's hands were freed. Quickly he untied his feet, looked in to see that the keys were in the ignition switch, then took the driver's seat as Ray bundled himself back into the open rear door. The engine burst into life and amid a cloud of dust and a screeching of tortured tyres, the sleek black automobile careened away. Two very disgruntled no-goods were left stranded hurling the heavy engine block to the ground in disgust. By the time Joe had clawed the pistol from his pocket, their vehicle was well along the lane and hidden from view by the huge volume of dust, the speedy exit afforded. Two kilometres away from the wrecker's yard, Gerry stopped the vehicle and untied his immediate boss.
"Just a little hairy there for a bit." Ray grinned, as both settled in to the comfort of the front seats.
"Yes, I thought we had bought it." Gerry admitted.
"A bullet to the head and sunk in an abandoned dam as feed for the yabbies, does not appeal to me much!" Ray laughed. "Those two won't be very popular with this 'Dermutt'; whoever he is." Gerry also laughed.
"And to top it off, they have a long hike home — in the dark — hope the cops pick them up and pinch them for unlicensed pistols!"
The lucky escapees remained silent as they drove their hijacked automobile back.
"Can you recall the big bloke's name?" Ray asked.
"I remember him telling this Dermutt, 'it's Joe — I think — me and Mert' - !!!?"
"No — no, he said 'me and Bert', Bert with a 'B'. I remember very distinctly, he said 'Dermutt, its Joe — me and Bert just caught two blokes -!'" Gerry was adamant.
"Great." Ray applauded. "So the boss is Dermutt, the tall thin one with the moustache is Joe, and the sturdy one is Bert. Now, is this their car and was the address we went to theirs, or are they Dermutt's? Those two might just have been paid guards — then again — they could well live there. If this Dermutt has any brains he wouldn't stash contraband at his place!" Both fell silent again as they drove back to the suburbs; each racking his brains for answers to un-asked questions. When the familiar streets of the house of contraband came near, Ray stopped the vehicle outside a Police Station nearest to the house.
"They are not going to believe us, you know that don't you?" Gerry asked.
"Why not, it's the truth. My ropes are still in the car — their car — and it is probably registered at the address where the guns are stored. What more proof do they need?" Ray asked, very openly. The two entered the building and Ray asked the duty officer, if he could speak with a senior C.I.D. person. They were taken through a couple of doors and introduced to Detective Sergeant Ronald Shell.
"Be seated gentlemen. What can I do for you?" He cordially invited. Ray introduced himself and Gerry, and then elaborated upon the whole of the day's episode; including their 'breaking and entering.'
"You do realise that you will be charged for that." The detective warned.
"I am sure the magistrate will be lenient when this gun-running ring is proved and broken — besides — they intended to do away with us!" Ray frowned.
"Can you prove that?" "I was there, I was a witness." Gerry blurted.
"Even if we do arrest these men on the evidence of the contraband in their possession, they will not admit their intention to 'do away' with you; what proof do you have of that?" Detective Shell looked in query from one of his guests to the other.
"The tyre marks of the car, they are at the scene!" Ray suggested.
"And the rope they tied me with, it will match the other in the car." Gerry hopefully added.
"But did you not drive the car from there to here?" The detective insisted.
"Well you could have just as easily driven it there as well, after you broke into the garage and stole it!" Detective Sergeant Ronald Shell sat smugly, clasping his hands in query.
"Let's go to the house and at least you will have the proof of the guns in the three crates!" Ray suggested.
Gerry drove the stolen automobile back to the house from which it originally came. Sergeant Shell's assistant, detective Frawly went in the car with him after the rope was recovered. Ray accompanied the senior policeman in the squad car after introductions were made. As the vehicles pulled up in the driveway, they noticed some lights were on in the house and the garage. The front porch light was switched on and a man appeared, dressed in pyjamas and a dressing gown. The slight, elderly man walked briskly over to the Detective Sergeant.
"Ah! You have found my stolen car — I haven't reported it missing yet!" He exclaimed, in apparent joy at his automobile's early recovery.
"And your name Sir?" Detective Shell asked.
"Johnson — Arnold Johnson — I thought I heard noises but thought it was possums, then after a while I decided to investigate. I have only just found that my car was stolen. They broke in through the roof you know!"
Sergeant Shell asked the owner.
"Do you mind if we see where they broke in?" He began walking to the garage.
"No — not at all — you can see the hole from here!" Arnold hurried along with the men. The detective sergeant looked about the garage, and then turned to Ray.
"Well! Where are these three crates you were talking about?"
"In the corner there, under that tarpaulin." Ray indicated the tarpaulin in question. The policeman lifted the article to reveal a small wooden table. Ray looked his astonishment; first at Gerry then to the detective sergeant.
"The rogues have done a switch!" Gerry expostulated. "We've been done!"
"So! I think you two had better return with us to the station!" Detective Frawly took both Ray and Gerry by their arms and bundled them into the police car.
"Can you manage your car now, Sir?" Detective Shell asked of the old man.
"Yes thank you Detective; you will charge them won't you?" He leered at the unfortunate Ray and Gerry as he made an obscene gesture of exaltation; not missed by the detectives.
"What now?" Ray asked.
"I will have to charge you with the breaking and entering, you have admitted to that." Detective Shell smiled over his shoulder at the uncomfortable pair in the back seat.
"And the car?" Ray asked, not expecting the answer that he got.
"Arnold Johnson is known to us. He is a convicted 'fence'; a dealer in stolen and smuggled goods. We believe your story and once we have it down and documented, we will travel to the wrecker's yard to verify that part of your story."
"But will we be charged for stealing the car?" Gerry asked earnestly.
"If you can prove you were at the wrecker's yard, then I ask myself. Why would you steal a car just to go to a wrecker's yard and then return the 'stolen' car to a police station?"
"Gosh, I hope that rope is still there." Ray fervently prayed.
"What are those names we wrote down at the station?" Detective Shell prompted.
"Dermutt, Joe and Bert!" Gerry obliged.
"Hmmmm! You are in a bit of trouble, aren't you?" The detective shook his head and frowned. "You may be safer in protective custody you know."
"Eh!" Ray lifted his eyebrows. "How so?" We do know that Schloss has a couple of underlings who do his dirty work for him -!!"
"Schloss, who is Schloss? We don't know a Schloss do we Gerry?" Ray asked of his friend.
"No, I don't anyway." Detective Shell elaborated.
"Schloss is Dermutt — Dermutt Schloss. I was actually hoping that the contraband would be where you last saw it, but knowing Schloss; I didn't really expect he would be that dumb. They secreted it away when you two went joyriding. We'll raid Johnson's pawnshop tomorrow but I will bet my boots that the goods won't be there either. Just a pity you never brought your suspicions to us first, instead of biting off more than you could chew!"
Having had a charge sheet made out for the petty breaking and entering, then a full statement duly typed and signed; the four set off to locate the wrecker's yard. It was three am. By that time and both Ray and Gerry were very tired. Gerry dozed off as Ray struggled to stay awake to guide the detectives. Torches gave enough light for the four to distinguish the automobile tracks. Detective Frawley set plaster casts of the tyre marks and all varieties of footprints, that were either side of the track and also those by the engine block left near the cut cyclone wire fence. A search by all eventually found the wire cutters, which were cast in the direction of the dam. The implement fell short by some twenty metres and it was carefully placed into a plastic bag, by the gloved Detective Frawly. The rope too, was placed into a plastic bag as further evidence.
"Time to go home!" Detective Shell announced. They began the return journey.
"Looks like your story tallies." Detective Shell stated. "No need to worry about the car theft. I'd rather let Mister Johnson believe that we are charging you though. What he doesn't know will help us all!"
"What was that talk about 'protective custody'?" Gerry queried.
"Good point!" Detective Shell nodded. "Joe Ratt and Bert Luntz are a couple of very desperate 'hit men'. We have not been able to pin anything onto them, because somebody higher than Dermutt Schloss, can pull some very heavy strings. I am extremely concerned that now you have opened this can of worms — somebody just may be tempted to go fishing!"
"They don't know who we are or where we live. Ray defended.
"Possibly!" Detective Shell mused. "But they do know where you both work and it would not surprise me, if that Dermutt Schloss has not already obtained all the information he needs about you two. He surfs the 'net' and he's good at it!"
Not much talk took place for the rest of the journey back to the police station. All were heavily engaged with their own thoughts.
"Isn't it a bit premature to be thinking of protective custody?" Ray asked, eyelids drooping. "I mean, both Gerry and I are well equipped to defend ourselves!" He focussed his bleary eyes upon the detective.
"Muscles don't stop bullets very well and you should know how desperate those two are; by tonight's escapade. I should state very strongly that I believe you are both marked men. Ratt and Luntz are suspected killers, Schloss is a ruthless underworld organizer and whoever is his boss — we suspect a fellow named Slimmery — is the core of the contraband rackets in this state; if not the whole country!" He frowned at Ray. "If we don't provide some sort of protection for you, by tomorrow we may not need to. I hope you take this matter very seriously!"
Detective Frawley drove the squad car into the police parking area, behind the station. All alighted and entered the building. Two very agitated wives had reported husbands missing and word got to the police station. Both Ray and Gerry rang their wives to put the worried minds at ease. Detective Sergeant Shell obtained permission from his captain to post undercover officers at the homes of the two now at risk would-be sleuths. Ray and Gerry being so tired that they were allowed a few hours sleep in the officer's quarters. Detective Frawley began organizing full-time surveillance of both witnesses' homes and that of the 'fence', Arnold Johnson. The night's happenings were the beginnings of what the detectives believed, may be a break-through in a known gang of smugglers and gun runners. Detective Sergeant Ronald Shell was in earnest conversation with a Lieutenant Ferguson of the Special Branch; he was an under cover agent of the Secret Intelligence Organization.
Excerpted from The Infiltrators by Howard Reede-Pelling Copyright © 2011 by Howard Reede-Pelling. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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