Murphy Avenue was in the heart of Atlanta’s old industrial core, where railroad track crisscrossed the landscape and old manufacturing buildings stood frozen in time. The Smith Chandler Warehouse was actually a complex of several old warehouses that once housed cotton and later a munitions factory and now housed a few retail businesses and some offices. An old tower was close to the road and looked like a lighthouse on dry land, only it looked like somebody stole the light. The lower half of the tower had windows that looked out all around.
Mickey was waiting in his car with Lila. Murphy Ave ran a North-South route, and Mickey was sitting just a little north of the tower, but was facing south in anticipation of Mayson’s arrival.
Commander Mayson guided his dark blue Crown Vic down Murphy Avenue. He spotted the lone car waiting. It had taken Frank nearly the entire 45 minutes to get to Murphy Ave. He spent all of the drive giving out orders over his two way radio and trying to situate the hidden one way transmitter inside his suit jacket so Mickey wouldn’t see it. Other agents were arriving in the area the same time Mayson was. They stayed hidden.
Approximately twenty feet from Mickey’s car, Mayson stopped. He looked around the area. If his boys were out there, he couldn’t see them. Hopefully, neither would Mickey.
He waited. Mickey stepped out of his car and stood by it looking at Mayson. Mayson risked a stall for a few more seconds before reaching for the door handle of his car. He looked down and spoke quickly into his jacket as he opened the door. “I’m getting out…”
Mayson stepped out of the car and about a dozen or more Federal agents collectively held their breath. The Commander remained standing by his car for a moment before stepping forward a few feet, standing next to the front fender.
The passage of twenty years time was evident with both men but each recognized the other and a fateful day in Miami came rushing back in their memories. Mickey smirked at the graying Fed who stood across from him. The moment he had waited twenty years for was so close now he could almost taste it.
Mayson glanced briefly at the buxom blonde-haired woman in the passenger seat of Mickey’s car. She looked apprehensive about the situation.
Mickey stepped forward to the front his car. “Long way from Miami, ain’t it Frank?”
Mayson remained standing where he was, next to the front fender of his car. “It is,” he replied. “I see twenty years in the Federal Pen did little for you.”
“I learned patience. I’ve been living for this moment.”
Mayson made a face. “Where’s Maxwell?”
“Uh uh. I release Maxwell once I’ve got you. Formal like.” Mickey gestured to his car. “Get in.”
Mayson hesitated. “Where you got him stashed, Mickey?”
“I’ll take you right to him, Frank. Get in the car…”
Mayson hesitated again and drew a breath. He then started to walk away from his car.
Lila watched as Mayson began to walk toward the car. Suddenly a gun shot echoed in the air and out of the corner of her eye, Lila saw something fall from one of the windows of the tower. She looked in time to realize it was a man with a rifle.
It was Leroy.
The terrible realization of everything hit Lila and she screamed.
Mayson had seen the body fall too and immediately spun around and ran back to his car for cover. Mickey, however, wasn’t about to let the opportunity be lost. He pulled his gun from the waistband of his pants and started after Mayson, only to suddenly jerk to a stop from another gunshot and collapse down on to the road in front of his car.
Lila watched it all in horror and screamed again. “MICKEY!” She scrambled out of the car and ran to where Mickey lay crumpled on the ground.
Crouched along the side of his Crown Vic, with gun in hand, Mayson saw the woman collapse to her knees next to Mickey and bend over him, sobbing. “Hold your fire!” he yelled into the one-way radio. Federal sedans were flying toward the scene from both directions of Murphy Ave. As the first cars came rushing up, it was apparent there were no more gunmen and Mayson cautiously stood up from his car.
“Commander! Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. Check that tower.” Mayson tucked his gun back into his holster and walked to where Lila was crying over Mickey’s body. If there was anyone left who knew where Maxwell was, she was it.
“Miss?” Mayson kneeled down and gently took hold of Lila’s arm, trying to persuade her away from Mickey, who was dead. “Miss…I need to know where Agent Maxwell is. I need to know if he’s still alive. Can you tell me?”
Lila continued to sob loudly over Mickey. Mayson waited a moment and was about to forcefully pull her away from Mickey when she raised her head and looked at him. Black streaks of mascara ran down over her cheeks. Twenty years of hopes and dreams were shattered across her face.
“He was right,” she croaked. “He said it wouldn’t happen.”
Mayson had no idea what she was babbling about. “Miss,” he urged, “Mickey was holding a Federal agent. Do you know where he is, where we can find him?”
“He’s probably dead!” she cried. “Mickey left him – with the rope. He told me he was going to let him go! Only he didn’t! He’s probably hanging in that warehouse!”
“Where?!” Mayson demanded. “Where is it?”
“I don’t know!” she cried, fresh tears spilling down her cheeks. “I mean, I – I don’t know the name of the street. I….I can show you…”
Mayson took her by the arms and helped her up.
*** *** ***
Bill meantime was still standing, very conscious of the rope snug around his neck. He’d been standing almost two hours and his legs and feet were beginning to tire. He was hungry and thirsty too. He could feel his blood sugar level dropping. If he passed out, however, he would feel nothing anymore.
He breathed deeply. He hummed, sang, or talked to himself. Anything to ignore his weary legs. Anything to keep unconsciousness from over taking him. Anything to ignore the sinking feeling that he wasn’t going to be rescued any time soon.
He turned his face upward, his eyes still covered by the blindfold. “You’re not…gonna leave me here…are ya?” His voice echoed lightly in the expanse of the empty warehouse. The green guys and Ralph couldn’t keep saving him all the time, he knew. But if there was no other way this time he hoped they weren’t going to just let him hang. “Please…?”
Bill didn’t hear the sound of car engines as several Federal sedans pulled up to the warehouse but he did hear voices and the loading bay door clatter open. Sunshine spilled into the warehouse and washed over Bill.
Agents rushed forward, led by Commander Mayson. “Bill!” Agent Kenny Hygate and Mayson both grabbed a hold of Bill while another agent quickly worked to cut the rope above Bill’s head. When the tail of the rope came down over Bill’s shoulder, Bill leaned into Kenny.
“You’re ok, Bill,” Kenny said. “You’re loose. Let’s get these ropes off your wrists…” Mayson took the blindfold off Bill while the third agent cut the ropes that bound Bill’s hands. Finally free of the restraints, Bill surrendered to the rush of darkness. Kenny and Frank both felt Bill go limp and they caught him, easing him down to the floor of the warehouse.
Bill was only unconscious for a few seconds. He came around again and opened his eyes, looking up at the concerned faces of Commander Mayson and Kenny. He started to move to sit up.
“Easy, Bill,” Kenny said, helping him. Bill looked at Mayson.
“Mickey…killed Gary, sir. Gunned him down cold at the scrap yard. They tricked us.”
Mayson nodded grimly. “Unfortunately, it’s going to be up to God to sort it out.”
“Yeah. His buddy too.”
“The blonde woman?”
“She’s outside. She’s the only reason we were able to find you.”
“Help me up.”
“We should get you to a hospital...”
“No, I don’t need to go to the hospital. All I need is a good steak and a beer. I can walk out on my own…” Bill reached out for Mayson and Kenny and they helped him to stand up again.
Outside, Lila stood with another agent by Commander Mayson’s car, her hands pressed together at the palms in front of her lips, watching the warehouse with trepidation. Then she saw Agent Maxwell walk out through the loading bay door with Mayson and another agent providing him support. Tears of relief sprung from her eyes.
As the three agents approached her, Lila took a timid step forward. Bill saw her and he stopped.
“Thank God you’re okay,” she said. “I’m so sorry…for everything.”
Bill gave a weary shake of his head. “It’s not for you to apologize, sweetheart.”
“You were right tho’. Mickey…won’t be taking me to Hollywood after this.”
Bill could only give a sympathetic nod before he, Kenny and Commander Mayson walked away. Lila turned away and buried her face in her hands, sobbing.