"And Then They Came..." (Chapter XIX)
Agent Flanigan sipped quietly from a cold glass of beer, contemplating with relish the mound of mofongo—a Puerto Rican dish made up of fried, mashed green plantain mixed with garlic, olive oil, and small bits of pork rind—plus the deep fried chunks of pork placed next to it. His mouth watered.
Two days before, the The Rock look-alike had asked his new friend Michael to recommend a place where he could eat some typical local food. Lucas’ brother-in-law had recommended “El Batey”, a hole-in-the-wall in the Avenida Central, about a mile away from Lucas’ home.
Michael had told his bigger-than-life friend to try the carne frita con mofongo—the mofongo with fried pork—and Flanigan had instantly fallen in love with it. He had eaten it for lunch for two days straight, this being his third encounter with the Puerto Rican delicacy.
The security man had already become a familiar face in the small eatery. He would be greeted with a gruff nod by the male bearded cook from behind a formica-covered kitchen window, and be approached by Alicia, the chubby, giggling waitress in her mid-forties who took care of the two dozen patrons—most of them also regulars—that crammed into the small establishment.
“Hello, Mr Flanigan,” she would say in a thickly Latin accented English, every time the small bell at the back of the entrance door would jingle announcing his arrival. She would point him toward the same round table, one located near the back of the room, and hand him a plastic sheeted, one-page menu, even though she would at the same time ask him, “The usual?”
“The usual, Alicia,” he would respond. “Don’t be shy to hit me with a large portion of the mofongo.”
He would extend the first syllable of the word, pronouncing it “moe-fon-go”.
Alicia would laugh merrily, amused by his quaint pronunciation, even though she had already heard it three days in a row.
“You are a big man, Mr. Flanigan. I give you a big plate.”
Flanigan had become a sort of celebrity in the place, held in awe by most of the patrons for his oversized body and bulging muscles, liked by all for his good humor.
He had spent the morning playing with Gabriel and Sophia, Lucas’ children, and with Alfredo, who was being kept from school that day. He had lost miserably in a game of Parcheesi where Gabriel had cheated. Then he had played “monster”, chasing the kids while walking with a stiff, Frankenstein-like walk. Sophia, Gabriel, and even Alfredo would hide, their delighted screams and giggles usually giving them away.
The burly security man took two large swallows of his Medalla beer, nearly emptying the glass where it was served, and attacked the mofongo with relish.
Close to the ceiling, in the upper left corner closest to the kitchen, a small television set silently replayed a scene of the capitol after the terrorist attack, showing images of the wounded being carried into dozens of ambulances, and then some unfocused footage of the two terrorists that had been captured alive. After that, the scene shifted to the Nuestra Señora de la Providencia Elementary School, and the street corner cordoned off by yellow-crime-scene tape where the Governor’s son had been abducted.
Flanigan stared at the television set, taking in for the umpteenth time the details of the two locations, while munching hungrily on his lunch.
It was early, and only two other patrons, both of whom greeted the large American with friendly familiarity, occupied another table. So when the three strangers walked into the small establishment, Flanigan noticed them immediately. Nevertheless, he kept eating with the same gusto as before, even when the three stood in a semicircle in front of his table.
The one in the center, a man in his twenties with a few scattered hairs on his upper lip, a cleft chin, and a thin, smug smile, pulled up the chair opposite to Flanigan and sat on it.
His two companions continued to stand, one of them—the thinnest of the two—moving his hand to a bulge under his red polo shirt, the second—the youngest and fittest—staring stonily at the American.
The cook, prompted by a stern word from Alicia, paused on his work and stared angrily at the three strangers, while the two patrons looked at the trio with apparent unease.
Flanigan scooped a forkful of mofongo, and munched on it unconcernedly. Then he raised his eyes and smiled at the newcomers.
“What can I do for you three gentlemen?” he asked in a friendly voice.
“You’re coming for a ride with us,” the man with the failed mustache replied.
Flanigan collected another forkful of the mofongo and shoveled it into his mouth, followed by a swallow from his Medalla beer.
“Hey you!” the cook shouted from behind the kitchen’s window at the strangers. “Leave that gentleman alone.”
The man standing to the right of his sitting companion slowly pulled out a gun from under his red t-shirt and pointed it at the cook, who backed away, raising his hands. The two patrons ducked under their table, while Alicia made the sign of the cross, and remained standing by the kitchen’s door.
“Be careful where you point that thing,” Flanigan began to say in a casual tone. But then suddenly, he flipped forward his table, causing the man sitting in front of him to totter and fall backwards, his wooden chair shattering under him. The top of the upturned table fell on him, pinning him below it.
Almost at the same time, Flanigan drew his Sig Sauer pistol from his shoulder holster and fired it at the man holding the gun. The stranger was struck twice, on the chest and on the shoulder, dropping straight to the floor with a barely audible gasp.
Completely caught off guard, the third man fumbled for his gun, trying to pull it out of his pant’s belt. But before he could manage to draw it out, the American security agent shot him three times, one his shots hitting him in the throat. Producing a terrible, gurgling sound, the stranger collapsed over the flipped table, causing the man pinned underneath it to groan in pain.
Then Flanigan added his own considerable bulk to the table, standing over the dying man. The stranger trapped under it howled, while desperately trying to free himself. His face—the only part of his body sticking out from under the upturned tabletop—turned a deep red, as he tried in vain to escape from the unrelenting pressure to which he was being subjected.
Flanigan crouched and leaned his head forward, getting nearer to the pinned man’s face. He pointed his gun at his forehead, while shaking his head with apparent regret. Somewhere behind him, he heard Alicia screaming.
“Alicia, please call the police,” he told her gently to still her cries and give her something to do.
Then he returned his attention to the trapped stranger, who by that time was breathing with great difficulty.
“I’m going to get off you, even though you don’t deserve it. You’ve already made me waste most of my delicious moe-fongo,” he told him in a quiet voice. “But if you so much as move your hands to your waist, I will splatter your brains all over the floor…" he added as he stepped off the table. "I don’t want to force Alicia to work more than she has to…if it can be avoided.”
The door of the restaurant suddenly opened, and two men walked in, stopping in shock when Flanigan pointed his Sig Sauer at them.
“Don’t shoot, please!” the first of the two men, wearing a business suit, shouted, raising his hands. “I’ll give you all of my money.”
The man behind him followed suit.
Flanigan eyed them warily for a moment, then moved his gun back to the sparsely mustached man again.
“I’m a doctor,” the business-suited man said. “Please let me check up on the wounded.”
The American hesitated, then nodded.
The doctor rushed to his side, and examined the man that had been shot three times.
“What happened here?” he asked Flanigan, while he checked for a pulse.
“I don’t rightly kn__” Flanigan began to answer, but by then, the doctor had pulled a taser out of his jacket and thrusted it to the back of his neck. Even though the fake doctor moved quickly, it had been a close call. Sensing something wrong behind him, the American had begun to turn when he had been tasered.
Flanigan’s massive muscles tensed as three milliamperes and four million volts coursed through his body. He grunted briefly, falling much as a tree trunk, in this case a kneeling tree trunk, nearly crushing the man pinned under the table, the “click-clicking” sound of the taser continuing for several seconds.
Still, Flanigan tried to struggle back to his feet, and was subjected to a second, then a third, and then succeeding charges, until he lost consciousness.
* * *
“Stay where you are, or you will be killed,” Rosario said, his eyes still on the fallen American, while Da’ud, standing next to him, pointed an Uzzi sub machine gun at the people in the restaurant.
“I should never have allowed amateurs to do a man’s job,” he told the man trapped under the table on which Flanigan also partially rested.
He pushed the unconscious American off his fallen companion, then grabbed by the feet the other body lying on the tabletop, and pulled it away. With a sigh of relief, the young, fallen terrorist slid out from under the table, and shakily got on his feet.
At his own insistence, Rosario had accompanied the three gang members from El Salvador sent by Enrique to kidnap Flanigan from the restaurant. After the three terrorists had entered the eatery, Rosario and their driver, Da’ud, had waited in a car outside.
When the first shots rang out, the two men had rushed out of their vehicle, and carefully looked through one of the restaurant’s windows, immediately understanding what had just happened.
“Follow me,” Rosario had said to his partner.
Contrary to Enrique, the handsome killer had objected to the recruitment of what his boss called “the expendables”, mostly gang members from Central America accustomed to terrorizing the local population. In his estimation, they were too unreliable; armed thugs used to getting their way without encountering much resistance even from the local authorities. The moment their paths crossed real, hardened opponents, they would crumble, Rosario had predicted.
And he had been right.
When Enrique had sent three of his “expendables” to capture Flanigan, Rosario had come prepared. He had dressed like a respectable businessman, and hidden a taser under his jacket.
His precautions had paid off. Pretending to be a doctor and an innocent patron of the restaurant, he had evaded Flanigan’s initial suspicions. He had managed to get close to him, and prodded him with his taser.
He did not care for the two dead gang members. In fact, he would have shot the one trapped under the table, had he not needed him to help carry the big American into their car.
“He tricked me,” the sparsely mustachioed man complained to Rosario. “He__”
While the two men struggled to pick up the unconscious security man, Da’ud continued to watch the rest of the people in the restaurant.
It took nearly five minutes for Rosario and his "expendable" companion to unload Flanigan into their vehicle and tie him up. Then Rosario sat on the front passenger seat, and honked the car’s horn.
“We are leaving now,” Da’ud warned those inside. “Stay where you are, and nothing will happen. Try to call the police or follow us, and I will come back and kill you.”
The armed man turned around, and slowly walked out of the restaurant. Nobody moved until the car had left.
* * *
Hurricane Fay Intermediate Advisory Number 5a
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL
3:00 PM AST (1900 UTC )
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for...
* St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...
* Antigua and Barbuda
* Saba and St. Eustatius
* St. Lucia
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for...
* U.S. Virgin Islands
* British Virgin Islands
* Saba and St. Eustatius
* St. Maarten
* St. Martin and St. Barthelemy
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for...
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
At 300 PM AST (1900 UTC ), the center of Hurricane Fay was located
by the French radar on Martinique near latitude 12.5 North,
longitude 55.9 West. Fay is moving toward the west-northwest near
15 mph (24 km/h), and this motion with a decrease in forward speed
is expected through the next two days. On the forecast track, the center of
Fay will move across the Leeward Islands within the next two days and then over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea.
Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 80 mph (130 km/h)
with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is forecast during the
next 48 hours, and Fay could be near major hurricane intensity
when it moves across the Leeward Islands. Interests in Puerto Rico and Hispaniola should keep a close watch on this system, since its path is far from certain and may vary within the next day or two.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 15 miles ( 30 km ) from
the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105
miles (165 km).
(Chapter XX will be posted on Monday, June 29)