My Kind of Town
FBI agent Al Waters was in a hurry. A suspected terrorist could be fleeing. But he had to go slow and careful. The suspect could have booby-trapped his loft over the maintenance garage at the rear of Mrs. Rayna Chang's property?
"Mr. Omandam?" he called from outside the garage. No reply.
The door to the garage had been left open. Heart thumping, Waters stepped inside with his Glock .40drawn. He'd taken an oath to defend America, not his own backside. If Paul Omandam had booby-trapped the place, the noise would rouse a whole lot of other law enforcement agents. Saying a silent prayer, he bounded up the stairs, found the loft empty.
"He's gone, Steve," Waters said into his phone's hands-free piece. "Better search the neighborhood."
Good idea, but too late. By the time that FBI agent Steve Metz put out the call to his HPD cohort to search the area, Achmed al-Hazir had already shed his identity as Paul Omandam, slipped through the fence behind the garage into the neighbor's yard and with half of a Snickers bar bribed Ralphy the black lab not to bark. The neighbors weren't home and Achmed, now carrying a passport, green card and drivers license that identified him as Ignacio Del Rosario, hurried across the yard. At the side gate he gave the last of the Snickers to Ralphy and rubbed his ears for luck. "Good dog."
Closing the gate behind him, he walked quickly but casually out to the street, turned right and walked a half block, pondering his next move.
"Allah akbar," he said as the lights of TheBus approached. God truly is great.
And so the missing link in the terrorist bombing at Pearl Harbor slipped away into the night. He transferred to another bus that took him to Waikiki, checked into the Marine Surf, paying cash with the dollars Muhammed Resurreccion and Infitada Inc. had provided for just this kind of emergency.
From his room on the 12th floor, Achmed al-Hazir/Ignacio Del Rosario looked out at the lights of Honolulu and pondered his future. Returning to Mindanao was out of the question. The National Police would be looking for him. He could stay in America with his new identity and begin a new life. In the short time he'd been here, Achmed had seen that this really was the land of opportunity. Or, with the bomb strapped to his waist, he could commit one last act of terror in Allah's name, achieve martyrdom and go to meet his 40 grape-bearing virgins.
Achmed's stomach rumbled. He hadn't eaten since lunch. There was an Italian restaurant downstairs, Matteo's. He would consider his future over a plate of his favorite comfort food, spaghetti.
Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek.
His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin
with weekly summaries on Sunday.
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