Rob Johnson was holed up in the Townhouse Motel on Lombard Street. He was driving an old sun faded Camry with California plates so that he wouldn't attract attention. His primary target was the Golden Gate Bridge, but he had to plan for the Bay, San Mateo, and Dumbarton Bridges too. The only bridge he wasn't interested in was the Richmond Bridge. It didn't lead to anywhere important like the others. BART would have to be sabotaged too, but he wasn't working on that. His job was the bridges.
He didn't call his Mom in San Jose or anyone that he knew there. He knew she wouldn't understand. He couldn't blow his cover. Besides, it had been over two years and she probably had written him off as dead by now. He really did want talk to his old buddy, Ali Jaheed, but that was out of the question too. He'd even called one time from a pay phone, but got Ali's Dad instead, saying something about "Ali going to Pakistan". Rob remembered hanging up on the old fart, knowing that he was lying. Ali would never do a thing like that. Would he? Anyway, he wanted to tell him that those damned Arab Moslems were going to be the hardest ones to convert to the ways the Old Man wanted. If they wouldn't go along, just like all the niggers, kikes, chinks, reds, and other low life bastards, they'd have to be exterminated. The Old Man wasn't going to waste his time with concentration camps, no Siree. He'd just send the Air Force to waste 'em. And if that didn't straighten 'em up, why he'd nuke 'em.
Anyway, the Old Man, John White, was like a father to him now. He didn't know his real father, Charles Johnson, the bastard who ran off and left his mother stuck in California with no money to raise their young son. That's what ruined his Mom, and that's why he wasn't going back to his Mom, and he didn't care if his real father was dead or alive.
He hated him at first. There he was, strung up, beaten, and dying of thirst, when all of a sudden, for no reason, they cut him down, and threw him in the brig. The brig wasn't much--just an old shed divided into cells where they kept the unruly ones. Rob was so sick; he just crawled up on the rubber mat on the floor. He developed a fever from his wounds and spent the next three days wrapped in old Army blankets trying to kick the fever. He didn't think of escape, only his survival. Through his delirium he decided that the only way to get out was to join them.
The brig had a concrete floor and solid wood walls. His head was a slop bucket, and there was a pan of water for washing up. To ensure that no one would decide to cut their way out, a tall fence that contained a Rottweiler and two Dobermans surrounded the brig. There were two other guys in the brig with him, but there was a cell between so he couldn't talk. They were low lifes anyway, and he didn't care to talk to them. They brought him food and changed his water twice a day. They had to tie the dogs off then to keep them from getting in the cell. Rob hated those damn dogs.
There was nothing to do in the brig except think. It was driving him crazy, especially when he was delirious from the fever. When the fever subsided, he had to do something, so he asked them if he could have a Bible. He was surprised when they brought him one, a Gideon Bible from some hotel room. He started reading in earnest, hoping that, if he ever saw White again, he could use something in it to give to him a piece of his mind.
While Rob had gone to church from time to time with his mother, he hadn't paid much attention. Reading the Bible now was a whole new experience for him. Every story that he read, he could relate to. He began to realize why the Bible was so powerful. He wanted to learn as much as he could so that he would have a defense against the John Whites of this world. It wasn't long before he was spouting lines and phrases to his captors, the only people who ever came to his cell. Finally, about six weeks after he'd been thrown in the brig, the door opened and Rob faced his nemesis, John White, standing before him.
The dogs were barking loudly, but Rob heard his words clearly, "Well Rob Johnson, I heard that you have been reading the Bible! What a surprise. I didn't think you California surfer dudes had it in you to be religious. But you surprised me. Yes, Siree, you did. For that, I'm gonna give you your freedom. Hell, I might even let you join the organization!”
"Thank you, Mr. White.” Rob couldn't think of anything smart from the Bible to say. He was caught unprepared.
In the warp caused by his six month long confinement, Rob viewed the camp from a whole new perspective. He saw how orderly it was. How everyone pitched in and carried their own weight. How religiously devout they were about their lives and what they were doing. He wanted to be a part of it. His newfound knowledge of the Bible was the first step. The second step was his willingness to take on dirt work--digging latrines, peeling potatoes, polishing White's shoes, washing dishes--whenever it took to ingratiate himself and become essential. Finally, he studied the Man--his moods, his mannerisms, his style, and his every move. Rob wanted to be like John White, a leader. He had to be a follower first.
Gradually, in the year and a half since then, Rob had been given more and more responsibility. He started by running errands to Houston, Chicago, and Kansas City. He learned to keep his mouth shut and do what he was told for the good of the order. Their mission was serious--deadly serious. They couldn't afford screwups in their midst. Rob saw what happened to screwups. He was too smart to let that happen the him. The brig wasn't the worst that could happen. These guys were rubbed out, erased. Rob knew because he fed some of them to the hogs. They were ground up in a wood chipper. And then the remains mixed with feed and fed to the hogs so there would be no trace of them in the compound. He also heard that White's agents were very good at going out and wiping out records of these guys up to and including their birth certificates in county court houses.
Yes, Siree, Rob had kept his nose clean. Rumor was that White's inner circle was behind the big one. But he dare not mention it. That was enough to get ya killed. Word around camp was that it was al Qaeda that done it, or one of those other Arab extremist groups like Hamas. Not that they were happy that the Jew loving establishment had been severely wounded by the attack, but the official word White put out was that the Aryan Nation was behind the country in its effort to find out who did it and punish them. Secretly, the anarchist groups and militias that grew in strength and activity were just what John White wanted. That's why he'd been given this, his first big assignment. By simultaneously blowing up all the bridges to San Francisco, the fruit run commerce to the city would be cut off, adding to the chaos that was planned throughout the country. With Washington gone, San Francisco had become a strategic governmental link on the West Coast. With panic on the rise, this little maneuver was destined to play into John White's plan.
Rob took the time to take a little tour of the Bay from Fisherman's Wharf. He heard all the baloney about not being able to swim from Alcatraz and how the strong currents would take a swimmer out through the Golden Gate into the Pacific Ocean. That was nonsense. White had enlisted some former Seals who were quite capable of dealing with the cold in wet suits and planting waterproof charges just below the waterline to the piers of bridges. While that plan alone could bring the Golden Gate down, an alternate was to use fishing boats loaded with enough explosive to take the peers out by merely pulling up next to them. Careful not to spend too much time in any one place, Rob filmed the base of the bridge from all the tourist vantage points. His Canon miniDV camera had a time/date setting that was difficult to master in the beginning, but once he got the hang of it, it was very easy to load the data from the film he got into his G5 laptop for editing. By deleting all the tourist stuff, he ended up with primarily film of time/date marked fishing boats passing the Golden Gate piers on their daily routine to supply the eager fish markets of the City.
The Bay Bridge was more of a challenge. However, there were some tourist vantage points on Treasure Island and near the old Ferry Building. To supplement those, he filmed fishing boats leaving Alameda for the Pacific. They passed under both the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate on their way to the Pacific.
The San Mateo Bridge would be easy to blow. It sat low on the water with many piers that could be crumpled with a single charge. However, to make a lasting impression, the bridge would have to be blown up in several places or along a longer stretch to be effective in closing it for a long time. Initially, he expected that the work could be done by ex Seals in speedboats. The charges would have to be timed; otherwise someone would see the speedboats racing away.
The Dumbarton Bridge was the biggest challenge. Located in the shallow, lower end of the Bay, anyone attempting to blow the bridge would probably be seen by someone. Blowing the High Bridge over the channel would have the most impact. Once again, a time charge would be most effective, allowing whoever set the charges time to escape unnoticed before ithey exploded.
All this took time. Rob enjoyed being back by the Bay. In the evenings he'd walk or take the cable car to a restaurant, eat and people watch. After he'd worked on what he filmed that day in the evening, his thoughts turned to other matters. A quick drive up to Fillmore, where he could pick up a black whore, topped off his nights. His politics didn't matter when it came to sex. These girls were good, and he paid them handsomely for their services. He made sure never to go back the same girl twice. He couldn't be too careful. Other nights, he'd walk to the Tenderloin. It just seemed more dangerous than Fillmore. The last thing he needed was to get caught up in some drug or prostitution sting. It was hard coming up with a new angle every night. He knew John White wouldn't approve. But he considered it a consolation prize for taking on this dangerous duty. Damn! He wished he could film those girls with the camera he had. He could make good money back in Arkansas. But, like hooking up with those whores in the first place, it was too dangerous if White would find out.
Headquarters, Homeland Security, San Francisco 2:35 p.m. PST
"Jane, come here and check this out" Jane Seymour, surveillance section head, heeded Henry's call and came over to his set of monitors. "This guy's been at the bridge several times in the last few days. He's always filming with that camera of his. I checked out the license on that old Camry he’s driving. It's registered to a George T. Schultz, 1103 Sycamore #5, Stockton California. He looks young--could be a student filming a project for his college class.”
"You could be right. He doesn't seem to fit any of the profiles. With the way the press has been after us for human rights violations, it wouldn't be good to question him right now. Tell you what, Henry, if he's back there again tomorrow, put a tail on him.” Henry nodded in agreement and made a mental note to watch for the blonde kid again.
At the Golden Gate Bridge
Rob was about to wrap it up. He had enough film of the Golden Gate piers and the different types of ships that passed close by them. Tomorrow, he would feign car trouble on the San Mateo Bridge so that he could get shots from the bridge itself to match those he took on that charter sail. He drove back to the motel. By 5:30 he had finished editing the film he'd taken that day. He was getting pretty good at both the camera and editing. Knowing that his mission was nearly over, he decided to celebrate.
It was an easy walk to Ghirardelli Square. There were a number of restaurants to choose from. He chose one on the second floor with a commanding view of the Bay. Ordering a "Bucket of Bones" from the Old California menu, he ate slowly and nursed three margaritas as he watched the sunset color the Golden Gate until it fell into darkness with only its flashing warning lights to indicate where it was. He thought about a fully loaded airliner crashing into it, but that had already been done. Besides, their purpose was not to take lives unnecessarily, just disrupt the country enough so that they would be heard. The bridge was enough. Still, it was a neat idea. He put it out of his mind. He was thinking of other things. The tequila had him thinking about women again. Walking back to the motel didn't take the buzz off. Every woman he saw made him hornier.
He didn't bother to go up to his room. Rob found his key in his pocket and his car and slid in behind the wheel. He was too drunk to drive, but he knew the way to Fillmore without thinking, so he made it there without mishap. Even that early in the evening, prostitutes were gathering on street corners. He just had to drive by and take his pick.
He spotted the blonde two blocks away. Breaking his own rule, he drove directly to her. He had had her two weeks earlier and was struck by her beauty. He couldn't believe that a girl like that would be a whore. The plan that had been incubating in his head all evening had hatched. He couldn't stop it now. The booze and the impulse overcame him. He pulled up to her and the other two girls with her, and ran the passenger window down.
"Hi Hon. Want a date?" An aggressive bitch with tightly corn rowed hair and tattoos on her big arms stuck her head in the window, leaning on the window frame with her elbows.
Rob was not pleased. Pointing past her to the blonde girl standing back a few feet, he grunted, "Not you –her!”
The girl in the window raised her arms and backed off, a surprised look on her face, and muttered to the blonde moving in, "Watch out, I think he's a cop!"
"Hi sweetie, are you a cop? If you are, then I was with you last week wasn't I? Did you arrest me?" She a big smile came over her pretty face.
Annoyed at her mockery, Rob countered with "No, I'm not a cop! Hop in; I've got a question to ask you.”
"Ask me here. What is it you want?"
"I want to know if I can have you for the entire night. How much will that cost?”
"Normally, $500, three hundred up front. But I have to ask my man first."
"Okay I've got the cash, what do I have to do. I want you to come with me.”
"See that white car down there on the right? Park behind it. I'll be right back.
The blonde hurried along the sidewalk to an opening in the building near the white car. Rob pulled his car up behind it and waited. Not too close. He’d drive off if someone tried to rob him. He didn't have to wait long. A huge black man in a brown leather jacket burst from the building with the blonde and headed straight for the car. Rob didn't know whether to drive off our talk to him. He looked angry.
"You got $300?" The man demanded.
Rob already had the money laid out on the car seat next to him. He grabbed each pile and counted out $100 in 20s in the light of the map light overhead. He then put the cash together and handed it to the man.
"You got pen and paper?" Rob fumbled for a moment, but found an old business card and a pen in the car's glove box.
"Write down where you're going to take her. If she's not back by 6:00 a.m., I'm coming to get her. Understand?” Rob nodded that he understood and wrote down his address on the business card, and then handed it to him. The man read the address carefully, smiled and opened the door for the blonde to get in.
Rob couldn't believe his good luck. She was a real beauty and had a personality to match. She was black, but her eyes were piercing blue. He suspected the platinum blond hair was a wig. It didn't matter. She had a dynamite body and a way with it he liked. He stopped at liquor store and bought some chilled champagne at the drive up window. He wanted to celebrate.
"Those blue eyes, they're beautiful. Where'd you get them?"
Cindi laughed and rolled her eyes. She'd heard it so many times before. “My granddaddy in Tennessee was white. I only saw him once when I was about five. That's when my Mom came here to California to get away from the abuse my father was given her for being half white. When she died of a drug overdose I was fifteen. George saved me.”
"Whose George? Your pimp?"
"He's the one who's going to wup your ass if you don't get me back in good condition on time in the morning!” She laughed again. “Mom hung out with hippies here, both black and white. They were good people, but got her hooked on drugs. Before she died she made me promise that I'd never use them. I haven't. Some of the girls do, and I can see what it does to them.”
"So that's why you’re in such good shape. I was wondering, ..."
"Sex is great exercise. I work out and eat right" She giggled at the course the conversation was taking. She giggled a lot more after a couple of glasses of champagne.
Sometime after midnight, Rob pulled out the camera and began filming her. She was so giddy from the champagne that she did almost anything he asked. She even slept with him. It was the first time Rob remembered sleeping with a woman since he’d left for Arkansas.
Sun was streaming through the window and hot on his face. Somebody was shaking him. He regained his senses enough to see that it was Cindi and that she was mighty agitated.
"Rob, Rob, it's late! Your clock says its 8:45! You had better get me out of here before George arrives. It won't be pretty if he gets here before we leave!"
Rob pulled on his pants and found a shirt. He was really hung over, but made sure he had his cash with him as they left for the car. In fifteen minutes they pulled up behind the white car again. As he handed her the $200, she surprised him with a French kiss. He'd never had a whore kiss him before. Although he didn't tell her, he vowed to himself that if John White had his way, he'd find a way to come back and get her out of this life.
For now, he had another problem. Rob drove back the motel, threw his stuff together, and checked out. He didn't want to run into big George anytime soon. He headed for the San Mateo Bridge. Stopping just before where it rises to allow sailboats and large ships to pass under, he jumped out and let some air out of the right rear tire. Lifting the trunk to make it look like he was disabled, he grabbed his camera and took some shots over the side. He didn't see the California Highway Patrol car pulling up and turning on its lights.
The loudspeaker nearly caused him to lose his grip as he hung over to film the pilings and piers. "Hey buddy, what to do over there? Please come back over the rail beside your car.” As Rob turned to see where the sound was coming from, all he saw was the black and white of the California Highway Patrol.
"CHP, Damn! Now what am I going to do?" Rob thought to himself. He pulled himself over the rail and walked towards the car.
The loudspeaker stopped him. "Stop right there. Place your hands on the side of the vehicle. Stay away from the open trunk.”
Rob did what the trooper told him to do and waited. He didn't wait long. The trooper approached him from the side, his black sunglasses giving him a stern glare, and his right hand on his belt next to his pistol grip. "I see you've got a right rear flat tire. What were you doing hanging over the rail?"
"I called a wrecker. While I was waiting, I thought I'd take some pictures of the Bay to take home to Stockton.” Rob figured that the trooper had run his plates. The hair stood up on the back of his neck as he contemplated being asked for his license. The guys had done a good job, but he didn't want them looking into the Stockton cover.
The trooper decided to be friendly. "I stopped because you were a potential hazard here on the bridge. Your tire’s only half flat. If you drive slow, you can make it safely off the bridge. Hop in, I'll follow with my lights on and get you to a gas station where you can get some air. OK with you?"
"Yes sir. Thanks.” A feeling of relief flowed from Rob's tense shoulders as he rounded the car, closed he trunk lid, and headed for the driver's seat. He wasn't fully relieved until he pulled into a gas station on the Hayward side of the bridge and saw the CHP drive off. He was almost certain that the trooper had run the plates. He was so happy that the trooper didn’t find an excuse to search the car. He'd been told to be careful; now he knew what they meant. Under the new law, police could search any car on probable cause alone, without a warrant. If that trooper had found his stash of stuff, he would have been cooked. He hurriedly put air into the tire and drove onto the 880 immediately in case the CHP changed his mind and came back. A few miles up the road, at Richmond, he pulled into a motel for the night. He had a lot of packing to do before taking I 80 back to Stockton to switch cars. He had to get through the roadblocks clean.