Tom Clancy – Op Center 6 State Of Siege

“We’ve Made A Life Together. Not Perfect, But A Better Life Than A Lot Of People. We’ve Done Okay.

And We’ll Do Better.” He Pulled Her Close Again As She Began To Sob Openly. Her Arms Went Around His Shoulders.

“That Isn’t What A Girl Dreams Of When She Thinks Of The Future, You Know?” She Wept.

“I Know.” He Cradled Her Tighter. “We’ll Make It Better, I Promise.” He Didn’t Say Anything Else. He Just Held On As Passion Sent Sharon’s Regret Into A Power Dive. She Would Bottom Out And Then, In The Morning, They’d Start The Long Climb Back. It Would Be Difficult To Take Things Slow And Easy, As He’d Said. But He Owed That To Sharon. Not Because He’d Let His Career Dictate His Hours But Because He’d Given His Passion To Nancy Bosworth And Ann Farris.

Not His Body, But His Thoughts, His Attention, Even His Dreams. That Energy, That Focus, Should Have Been Saved For His Wife And His Family.

Sharon Fell Asleep Snuggled In His Arms. This Wasn’t How He Wanted To Feel Closeness, But At Least It Was Something. When He Was Sure He Wouldn’t Wake Her, He Released Her Gently, Reached Over To The Night Table, And Snapped Off The Light. Then He Lay Back, Staring At The Ceiling And Feeling Disgusted With Himself In The Hard, Unforgiving Way You Can Only At Night.

And He Tried To Figure Out If There Was A Way He Could Make This Week-End A Little More Special For The Three People He’d Somehow Let Down.

Five New York, New York Saturday, 4:57 A.M.

Standing Outside The Rundown, Two Story Brick Building Near The Hudson River Made Lieutenant Bernardo Barone Think Of His Native Montevideo.

It Wasn’t Just The Dilapidated Condition Of The Body Shop That Reminded Him Of The Slums Where He Grew Up. For One Thing, There Were The Brisk Winds Blowing From The South. The Smell Of The Atlantic Ocean Was Mixed With The Smell Of Gasoline From Cars Racing Along The Nearby West Side Highway. In Montevideo, Fuel And The Sea Wind Were Ever Present. Overhead, A Steady Flow Of Air Traffic Followed The River To The North Before Turning East To La Guardia Airport. Planes Were Always Criss-Crossing The Skies Over His Home.

Yet It Was More Than That Which Reminded Him Of Home.

Bernardo Barone Had Found Those In Every Port City He’d Visited The World Over. What Made It Different Was Being Out Here By Himself. Loneliness Was Something He Felt In Montevideo Whenever He Returned.

No, He Thought Suddenly. Don’t Get Into That.

He Didn’t Want To Be Angry And Depressed. Not Now. He Had To Focus. He Backed Up Against The Door. It Felt Cool On His Sweaty Back. The Door Was Wood Covered With A Sheet Of Steel On Both Sides. There Were Three Key Locks On The Outside And Two Heavy Bolts On The Inside. The Sunfaded Sign Above The Door Read Viks” Body Shop. The Owner Was A Member Of The Russian Mafia Named Leonid Ustinoviks.

The Small, Bony, Chain-Smoker Was A Former Soviet Military Leader And An Acquaintance Of Georgiev'”S Through The Khmer Rouge. Barone Had Been Informed By Ustinoviks That There Wasn’t A Body Shop In New York That Was Exclusively A Body Shop. By Night, When It Was Quiet And No One Could Approach The Building Unseen Or Unheard, Either They Were Chop Shops Selling Stolen Cars, Drug Or Weapon Dealerships, Or Slavery Operations. The Russians And Thais Were Big In This Arena, Sending Kidnapped American Children Out Of The Country Or Bringing Young Women Into The United States. In Most Cases, The Captives Were Put To Work As Prostitutes. Some Of The Girls Who Had Worked For Georgiev In Cambodia Had Ended Up Here, Moving Through Ustinoviks’s Hands. The Size Of The Crates Used To Ship “Spare Parts” And The International Nature Of The Trade Made These Businesses A Perfect Front.

Leonid Ustinoviks’s Business Was Arms. He Had Them Brought In From Former Republics Of The Soviet Union. The Weapons Came Into Canada Or Cuba, Usually By Freighter. From Them, They Were Slipped Into New England And The Middle Atlantic States, Or Into Florida And The Other Gulf Coast States. Typically, They Were Moved Piecemeal From Small-Town Storehouses To Places Like This Body Shop. That Was To Prevent Losing Everything If The Fbi And The Nypd’s Intelligence Division Caught Them In Transit. Both Groups Quietly Monitored The Communications And Activities Of Persons From Nations Known To Sponsor Illicit Trade Or Terrorism: Russia, Libya, North Korea, And Many Others. The Police Regularly Changed Signs Along The Riverfront And In The Warehouse Districts, Altering Parking Restrictions And Hours When Turns Could Be Made On Certain Well-Traveled Corners. This Gave Them An Excuse To Stop Vehicles And Clandestinely Photograph The Drivers. Ustinoviks Had Told Him To Keep An Eye Out For Anyone Who Turned Off The Highway Or Any Of The Side Streets. If Anyone Came Here, Or Even Slowed Down While Driving By, He Was To Rap Three Times On The Body Shop’s Door.

Whenever A Deal Was Taking Place, Operations Like This Always Had Someone Who Would Come Out And Demand That A Search Warrant Be Read To Him-A Right, By New York City Law-While Anyone Inside Escaped By The Roof Onto An Adjoining Building. Not That Ustinoviks Was Expecting Trouble. He Said There Had Been A Flurry Of Raids Against Russian Gangsters Two Months Ago. The City Didn’t Like To Give The Appearance Of Targeting An Individual Ethnic Group.

“It’s The Vietnamese’s Turn,” He Quipped When They Arrived Here From The Hotel.

Barone Thought He Heard A Sound Off To The Side Of The Building. Reaching Into His Windbreaker, He Withdrew His Automatic. He Walked Cautiously To The Darkened Alley To The North. There Was A Club Behind A High Chain-Link Fence. The Dungeon. The Doors, Windows, And Brick Walls Were All Painted Black.

He Couldn’t Imagine What Went On There. It Was Odd. What They Had To Do In Secret In Cambodia, Sell Girls For Money, Was Probably Done Openly In Places Like This.

When A Nation Stands For Freedom, He Thought, It Has To Tolerate Even The Extremes.

The Club Was Closed For The Night. A Dog Was Moving Behind The Fence. That Must Have Been What He Heard.

Barone Slid The Gun Back Into Its Shoulder Holster And Returned To His Post. Barone Pulled A Hand-Rolled Cigarette From His Breast Pocket And Lit It. He Thought Back Over The Past Few Days. Things Were Going Well, And They’d Continue To Go Well. He Believed That. He And His Four Teammates Had Reached Spain Without Any Problem. They Split Up In The Event That Any Of Them Had Been Identified, And Over The Next Two Days, Flew To The United States From Madrid. They Met At A Times Square Hotel.

Georgiev Had Been The First To Arrive. He Had Already Made The Connections Necessary To Obtain The Weapons They Needed. The Negotiations Were Going On Inside While Barone Stood Guard.

Barone Drew On The Cigarette. He Tried To Concentrate On The Plan For Tomorrow. He Wondered About Georgiev’s Other Ally, The One Known Only To The Bulgarian. All Georgiev Would Tell Them Was That It Was An American Whom He Had Known For Over Ten Years. That Would Be About The Time They Were In Cambodia Together. Barone Wondered Who He Could Have Met There And What Role They Could Possibly Be Playing In Tomorrow’s Action. But It Was No Use. Barone’s Mind Always Went Where It Wanted To Go, And Right Now, It Didn’t Want To Think About Georgiev Or The Operation. It Wanted To Go Back. It Wanted To Go Home. To The Loneliness, He Thought Bitterly. A Place Familiar To Him Strangely Comfortable.

It Wasn’t Always That Way. Though His Family Had No Money, There Was A Time When Montevideo Seemed Like Paradise. Located On The Atlantic Ocean, It’s The Capital Of Uruguay And Home To Some Of The Most Spacious And Beautiful Beaches In The World. Growing Up There In The Early 1960’S, Bernardo Barone Couldn’t Have Been Happier. When He Wasn’t In School Or Doing His Chores, He Used To Go To The Beach With His Twelve-Years-Older Brother Eduardo. The Two Young Men Would Stay There Long Into The Night, Swimming Endlessly Or Building Forts In The Sand. They Would Light Campfires When The Sun Set And Often Went To Sleep Beside Their Forts.

“We’ll Rest In The Stables With The Magnificent Horses,” Eduardo Would Joke. “Can You Smell Them?” Bernardo Could Not. He Could Only Smell The Sea And The Fumes From The Cars And Boats. But He Believed That Eduardo Could Smell Them. The Young Boy Wanted To Be Able To Do That When He Grew Up. He Wanted To Be Like Eduardo. When Bernardo And His Mother Went To Church Every Weekend, That Was What He Prayer For.

To Grow Up Just Like His Brother. Those Were Bernardo’s Happiest Memories. Eduardo Was So Patient With Him, So Friendly With Everyone Who Came By To Watch Them Build The Tall, Creaellated Walls And Moats.

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Categories: Clancy, Tom