Long Road to Mercy

Long Road to Mercy

Large Print - 2018
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j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

ADX Florence, about a hundred miles south of Denver, was the only supermax prison in the federal system. (For real prison: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADX_Florence )
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The supermax currently held, among others the Unabomber, the Boston Marathon bomber, 9/11 terrorist, serial killers, an Oklahoma City bombing conspirator, spies, white supremacist leaders, and assorted cartel and mafia bosses. Many of the inmates here would die in federal prison under the official weight of multiple life sentences.
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The prison was in the middle of nowhere. No one had ever escaped, but if anyone did, there would be no place to hide. The topography around the prison was flat and open. Not a blade of grass, or a single tree or bush, grew around the complex. The prison was encircled by twelve-foot-high perimeter walls topped with razor wire and interlaced with pressure pads.

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

For unruly prisoners, or in the case of a crisis, there was the Z-Unit, also known as the Black Hole. Its cells were kept completely dark, and restraints were built into each concrete bed.
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She was tall; over five eleven in her bare feet. Her height had come from her mother, who was an even six feet. Despite her stature, Pine was hardly lithe or willowy. She would never grace a runway or magazine cover as a stick-thin model. She was solid and muscular, which had come from pumping iron religiously. Her thighs, calves, and glutes were rocks, her shoulders and delts sculpted, her arms ropy with long cords of muscle, and her core was iron.
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If you weren’t an animal before you went to a max prison, you would be one by the time you got out. Or else, you’d be dead.

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

Unless he pulled a Methuselah, he would die right here.
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Pine had taken a position at the RA in St. George, Utah. It was a two-person outfit and Pine had been there for two years. When the opportunity arose, she had transferred to a one-agent office in a tiny town called Shattered Rock. It was a recently established RA due west of Tuba City, and about as close to Grand Canyon National Park as it was possible to be without actually being in the park. There, she enjoyed the support of one secretary,
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Tor looked her up and down in a way that perhaps he had used in sizing up all his victims. There were thirty-four of them confirmed. Confirmed, not total. The actual number was feared to be triple the official count.

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

Pine knew that narcissism was probably one of the most dangerous traits someone could possess for one critical reason: The narcissist could not feel empathy toward others.
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“They were all operating in the West. Here, you have wide-open spaces without a policeman on every block. People coming and going, lots of runaways, folks looking for something new, long strips of isolated highways. A billion places to toss the remains. It encourages … talent like yours. ”
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Pine nodded, but only because she was afraid of the words that might come out of her mouth at that moment.
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In the little canteen was a mail pouch for visitors to put their postcards in. The mule train would take it up the following day. The postcards were all stamped with: “Mailed by Mule from the bottom of the Grand Canyon.” What could be cooler than that in a world of smartphones and devices named Alexa that ruled your life?

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

A town so small that the outskirts and the minuscule downtown area were kissing cousins.
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FBI supervisor: They sat at desks all day and told other agents how to run their cases, playing Monday morning quarterback at every opportunity, while others did the heavy lifting.
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“I don’t know who did it, why they did it, how they did it, or where they are now. Other than that, things are going pretty good. ”
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The Navajos were descendants of the Anasazi’s, whose name meant “ancient one” in the Navajo language. There was even a so - called Mummy’s Cave in the Canyon de Chelly where the Anasazis had lived. It was about three hundred feet above the Canyon floor and comprised of two adjacent caves housing a dwelling space consisting of more than fifty rooms and circular ceremonial structures dating back more than a thousand years.

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

Blum had emailed her on the way with some more information. She was going to go over it while sipping a beer in her apartment. That was her idea of a night out without actually going out.
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I was in Iraq, lady. You go to Iraq, you’ll want to smoke weed too.
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Multiple sets of flat and then incline bench press, military and swimmer’s press, the squat rack, deadlift, calf raises, depth charges, push-ups on one leg, regular pull-ups and then round-the-world reps that had her take her chin from hand to hand, dips, pounding the core with medicine balls, pendulum lifts with a thirty-pound kettle ball, and then a forty-pound one. Then came isometrics that had the sweat pouring off her from standing in one spot, followed by endless deep lunges with the kettles being passed under each hammy, decline push-ups, crunches, sumo squats with ass-busting dumbbells, and then she jumped rope for ten minutes, doing crossovers every fifth rep.

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

Pine was tall for a female weightlifter. This was an advantage and a disadvantage. From simply a physics point of view, shorter people had shorter distances to heft the weight. And shorter muscles tended to be more explosive in nature, because of the very same rule of science. But Pine’s longer muscles gave her tremendous leverage that shorter muscles simply could not muster.
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With a sudden, explosive movement, Pine performed the clean part of the lift, curling the loaded bar under her chin while simultaneously nailing the squat perfectly. She then performed the bounce, rose up with the barbell completing the concentric phase, and with a whoosh of released air, jerked it cleanly overhead as she split her legs performing the drive position. Then, legs parallel, she held the weights steadily aloft. Clean and jerk. Done.

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

Cleveland, sometimes referred to in FBI circles as the “mistake on the lake.”
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After all the painting was complete they’d installed Dynamat, which kept the noise and exhaust heat under the car, where it should remain? The original engine had been the 289 V - 8, of which only a few hundred were put in this model. But 1967 also had brought the first major redesign of the Mustang and had offered a larger engine option. So they’d dropped in a big block 390, which had been in the vast majority of the Mustangs built that year. That had necessitated the dual exhaust, since the 390 couldn’t efficiently run off the single pipe. The 390 V-8 mustered 320 horsepower, plenty of muscle for a car that size.
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“It wasn’t a war, Atlee.” “What was it then?” “I didn’t sign up to shoot …”

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

“It has a CAGPT sticker on it. That stands for ‘check and give protection to. ’ It’s what they do with valuable or fragile instruments. And also, it’s what they sticker a case with that has a gun inside. But I knew for certain you had a gun in there, because the airline had zip - tied it, probably at the point of destination. It’s a procedure they started to use after the Fort Lauderdale shooting. One zip tie for a pistol, two for a rifle.
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“I can work for interests outside this country without working against this country. But allies are allies until they become enemies. And sometimes our enemies can be allies. It’s a fluid situation. ”
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Laundered. You can launder people, too. “You mean switching their identities? Making them disappear? “Something like that,” answered Priest.
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“This is getting weirder by the minute.” “Oh, I always thought it was a little weird to begin with. I mean, you don’t see a dead mule with letters carved on it every day of the week. ”

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

“Well, I’ve actually been thinking about a job change. My husband divorced me so he could be with some floozy. My kids are all grown and living all over the place, except near me. I’m not really sure what to think about that, but I guess I’m at the age where I don’t let it bother me too much.”
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“Ever heard of Maasaw?” “No.” “He’s the Hopi god of death. He’s said to actually live in the Canyon. And you have the ancestral Puebloan granaries at Nankoweap Creek. And Eagle Rock at Eagle Point on the West Rim. It’s considered sacred by the Hualapai. And some in the Hopi tribe believe the Canyon is the site of the sipapu, the portal through which they climbed a reed cast into the sky and used it to reach the Fourth World.”
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“You don’t like burgers and fries?” asked Pine. “Oh, I do. But at my age, they don’t like me like they used to. In that regard, they’re sort of like men.”

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

“I’m not into girl talk,” said Pine. “Neither am I, are considering neither one of us girls.”
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“Allies sometimes become enemies. And vice versa. The status can be temporary or long - standing. It can be situational. Transactional. A one-off. Hell, it can be anything, really.”
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I’m sure you know that this country is in peace talks with North Korea aimed at them giving up their nukes?” “Yeah, I know. And I know the Chinese have a great deal of interest in how it turns out.” “Well, those talks aren’t going well. In fact, they may collapse any minute.” “So, what would be the reason why a North Korean would be over here?” “How about a change in government leadership?” Pine stared across the width of the Mustang at him. “Where? North Korea?” “How about right here?”
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“Who we are is dictated by those powerful enough to say who we are. If anything, we’re a plutocracy and have been for a long time now. And the next logical step in a plutocracy is an oligarchy.

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

Atlee had been the helter-skelter hellion. Mercy had been the angel. The angel had vanished. The hellion had become a cop.
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“Didn’t know you knew about guns.” “I’m from Arizona. It’s in our DNA. Rumor has it I came out of the womb with a full head of hair and a jewel-encrusted, nickel-plated derringer clutched in my adorably dimpled fist.” “But the Colt only has a max six-shot mag.” “If I ever need more than six bullets to do the job , I’m in the wrong line of work .”
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“A coup? This is America, not some banana republic.”
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“I have two PhDs, both from Ivy League schools,” retorted Fabrikant. “Then start acting like it,”
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“The Russians tried to sway the last presidential election using a variety of tools: social media, the planting of false stories, voter suppression efforts, etc.” “That’s been well documented.” “Yes, but that may have just been step one.”

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

But there are some Americans in high places who admire the Russians. They think their model of governing is better in some important ways. They think the same about the Chinese, who can make decisions and instantly carry them out. Whereas democracy is messy and inefficient and often comes to a complete standstill. That makes an autocracy quite a tempting template of governance. ”
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Russians have moved on from remote cyber assaults to working with certain parties in America, with the goal of turning our country into something like theirs? ”
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“Can I talk to a superior then?” “Why? You have a complaint? ” “Yeah, I do, but on second thought, I’ll just deliver it directly to you.” Pine landed a roundhouse kick to his head that dropped him on the spot.
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“He ran through the floozy’s money and found another one. Then he got too fat and bald to keep the racket going.

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

“So which one do you want to be?” asked Blum abruptly. Pine shot her a glance as she turned onto the highway and punched the gas. “What?” “Do you want to be Thelma or Louise?”
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“I don’t like crowds.” “How would you define a crowd?” “Pretty much anyone other than myself.”
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OOH AAH POINT. The remarkable views from here had obviously been the genesis for the name. Pine had traveled nearly a mile on the South Kaibab Trail and while doing so had descended about six hundred feet below the South Rim, which stood at about 7,200 feet above sea level. The Rim had been cool and pine scented. That would change dramatically the farther down she trekked. The South Rim averaged nearly sixty inches of snow a year, while Phantom Ranch received less than one.

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

T HE SOUTHWEST CHIEF Train No. 3 headed out from Chicago with its twin P42 locomotives and nine trailing train cars pointed toward the southwest United States. It carried fourteen crew and 130 passengers. It had a max speed of ninety miles per hour, which it would hit on long stretches of the route. However, its average speed over the slightly more than twenty-two-hundred-mile trip to LA would be only about fifty-five miles per hour, when one factored in the thirty-ne stops over eight states .
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WINSLOW, ARIZONA. Not Flagstaff. Pine and Blum alighted about an hour behind schedule at the station, which was part of a hotel complex. Pine had figured someone might be waiting for them at Flagstaff, someone whom they really did not want to meet. Contrary to the song lyrics, they were not here to take it easy.

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

Kaibab Suspension Bridge, more popularly known as the Black Bridge. This was also the mule bridge, because it was the only one the beasts used. It had high chain-link metal sides and a plank floor. The only other bridge in the canyon was the nearby Bright Angel Suspension Bridge, which one reached coming down that counterpart trail. It was known as the Silver Bridge because of its all-metal configuration.
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And the dam system had contributed to something else. The silt tended to accumulate behind the dams, resulting in clearer water downriver. The sunlight penetrating the water resulted in algae thriving. And this contributed to the green color of the Colorado...
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Bright Angel Creek was the place to plop in the water down here if one was so inclined. The Colorado, even in places where it looked to be slow moving, was actually going more than four miles per hour. Few swimmers could fight that current. It was also deep and cold.

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

She checked the sky and her brow furrowed. This time of year, the monsoons would draw on the energy built during the heat of the day, combined with the layers of moisture from the southeast, to create some truly remarkable thunderstorms. Well, it looked to Pine like tonight she would be the recipient of such a meteorological vortex.
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He later told her he’d been a meth addict for years. “Kills the appetite, I can tell you that. More than cigarettes. Kicked the habit, but never got my appetite back.”
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The fact was, this was way out of her league. She was an FBI agent. Give her a bank robbery, a kidnapping, even a serial killer or two, and she would do fine. She would catch her man. This was not that.
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You were behind a boulder, crouching down, your pistol aimed at us. Probably thinking that a Glock against three M4s was not going to end well. For you.”

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

“We have other orders in the event you refused to come with us.” “What’s that, shoot me? I’m an FBI agent.” “No, ma’am, right now, you’re just an enemy of this country.”
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For comparison’s sake, the hydrogen bomb dropped over Nagasaki had a yield of over twenty kilotons. The largest detonation of all was the Tsar Bombay device that the Soviets set off a long time ago. That had a yield of fifty megatons. If the Soviets could have put a depleted uranium tamper on the sucker instead of a lead one, it would have doubled the yield.”
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“It’s the Cyrillic alphabet,” said Pine, examining it closely. “Russian.”
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“The parts that were left out include the lithium - six deuteride, a functional reflector, and an appropriate tamper. Without that, you’ve basically got a pile of uranium and hydrogen atoms with nowhere to go.”

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

“And I thought the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were bad.” Roth said, “All wars are horrible when it comes to human casualties. I’m sure some wonks in the government have come up with ‘exact’ numbers of deaths in all categories along with the justification to sacrifice them in such a conflict.”
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And Russia wants to be the lead actor in the Far East, but there is no way they can match Beijing’s economic machine. Thus, they’re looking for other ways to exert influence and have a voice in the region. I would imagine that Russia would be rewarded in some way. Maybe after we won the war, we would annex part or all of North Korea for Russia.” “Like when they split up Germany after World War II?” said Pine.
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Ben had previously told me about a mule ride he was going to take to the floor of the Canyon. There was no way I could get a mule of my own. You have to reserve your spot over a year in advance.

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

“It’s what they call kompromat. How much do you think the Russians could blackmail us for in return for keeping that secret?” Roth slumped back against the rock wall.“ Anything they wanted.”
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“You know there are five ecological life zones in the Canyon? The same number you’d get going from Mexico all the way to Canada.”
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One beer is always in there with a battery-powered ‘freeze sleeve.’
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“I’ve never seen hatred like that in my life. Didn’t even know me and hated my guts. Both of them. ” “They hated what you represented and why you were there, Sam.”

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

“You’re all traitors,” barked the man. “Or patriots, at least from my point of view.”
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Not starting a war and killing millions of people on bogus evidence that you trumpeted to the world is a helluva lot better than actually doing so.
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“Because I knew scavengers would come and tear at its hide. The markings would have been destroyed if I had left them exposed.”

“I have a Mercedes S-class. But what does that have to do with it? ” “You know the round little discs set into the frame all around your car?” Roth looked at the revealed device in the wall of the bomb. “Those are cameras. Are you saying this is some sort of camera?”
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The Russians love surveillance stuff. When we were building an embassy over there once, we made the mistake of using Russian subcontractors. The entire embassy turned out to be one big camera and recorder. Luckily, we found out in time.”

j
jimg2000
Feb 28, 2019

“I figured she wouldn’t want to live. So I killed her. I was acting like God, but I wasn’t. I’m not. I didn’t know shit about shit at that moment.” “You did what you were trained to do. You saved your guys.” “Yeah, trained to kill kids and grannies. Not what I signed up for, Atlee. Really wasn’t. No way in hell. It’s been over ten years and I still have nightmares about it. I’m pulling the trigger over and over. And they just keep dying. ”
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“How do I know you’re not bluffing?” “That’s the beauty of it. You don’t.”
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“All you can hope is that if one of them gets sick, or gets hurt, or really needs help, that the others will come to their aid. Other than that, I’m afraid all bets are off. Life is messy, and people are just deluding themselves if they think someone will just wave a wand and everyone will suddenly play nice in the sandbox. It’s just not how we’re wired, apparently.”


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