Chapter 44 of Silent Vector

Chapter 44, in which reinforcements arrive from Puerto Rico

CHAPTER 44

SAN JUAN MUSCLE

Nick eases the Constellation alongside the finger pier on the waterfront east of Frenchtown. Two men wait on the dock. Both men are in their early thirties. They wear panama hats, gray, short-sleeve, square-bottom shirts, dark slacks and loafers. Their Ray Ban aviator sunglasses complete the uniform.

“Toss your bow line,” the taller of the two men directs Kyle Richardson. Kyle complies.

The man secures the line to a cleat on the pier. Nick shifts into reverse and by opening the throttles slightly brings the boat to a complete stop. Dalila jumps onto the dock with the stern line and secures it.

Nick cuts the engines and inspects the lines to make sure they’re taut. A representative from the charter company, clipboard and pen in hand, walks down the dock to where the Chris-Craft is tied up. He inspects the exterior of the boat quickly, climbs on board, and does another cursory inspection of the boat’s interior, including its forward cabin.

“Everything seems to be in order. Just make sure all of your gear is off loaded.”

He makes a series of check marks on the form on his clipboard before offering the clipboard and pen to Kyle Richardson.

“If you’ll just sign right there at the bottom, Mr. Mahan.”

Richardson signs the form. The representative tears out a carbon copy and hands it to him.

“Keys?”

“Right here.”

Nick tosses the keys to the man who catches them and puts them in his pocket.

“That’ll do it, then. Been a pleasure doing business with you. Call whenever you need a boat. I’m your man.”

Kyle thanks him and shakes his hand. They watch as the man leaves the dock, gets into his car, and drives away.

“Mr. Mahan?” Nick asks.

“Johnson’s favorite alias. It’s on about half of his counterfeit passports. I stole it since he’s not in the field anymore.”

“Kind of like an inheritance?”

“Yeah, kind of. Who are these guys?” Kyle points to the two men who helped them tie up the boat. One of them steps forward.

“Lieutenant Raoul Escobar, and this is Staff Sergeant Cristobal Guzman. We’re from the 65th in San Juan. I understand you need some help.”

Nick shakes both of their hands.

“Nice to meet you. Indeed we do. Let’s get you introduced. I’m Nick Temple and I suppose I’m in charge of this small outfit. This is Dalila Atieno. We stole her from the Brits in Nairobi. Their loss, our gain. That’s Pete Hall. Pete’s a professor at Johns Hopkins on loan to us for the duration. And this young man is Kyle Richardson, ex-marine, soon-to-be-father, and probably a CIA lifer.”

They all exchange handshakes as the two newest members of team Temple are brought into the fold.

“Your car in the lot?” Nick asks the Lieutenant.

“It’s a rental we picked up in town after landing.”

“Gear?”

“In the car.”

“Perfect. Let’s get to it.”

With Nick in the lead, the five men and one woman walk down the finger pier heading for the small parking lot just onshore.

Nick engages Lieutenant Escobar in some chit chat as they make their way to the team’s cars.

“Come here by seaplane?”

“That was the first thing available.”

“What’s your availability?”

“As long as you need. That’s straight from D.C.”

“What we have in mind shouldn’t take more than a couple of days, but you’re welcome to stick around after that. There’s going to be more work to do. We need to get you men up to speed. We’ll put you up for the next couple of nights. The accommodations aren’t luxurious, but they’re secure. Hope you don’t mind sleeping on the floor.”

“We’ll take whatever you’ve got,” Lieutenant Escobar responds.

“All right, then. Let’s get going. You can follow me to your new quarters. We’re in the wagon.”

“Lead the way.”