Season Two Episode 1 (Part Three) – A Night In Philadelphia

11 May 2017 0113 (EST) Russian Mob Stash House; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

In his walk to the brick building with barred windows, the man in the Oakland A's hat got a tour of the urban decay in this part of the city. Its better days in the past, and still untouched by gentrification, the area served as haven for every criminal element imaginable.

The drug dealers and other thugs intimidated most people. More than one group attempted to menace him during his walk. One glare from the man scared them off. The local thugs were smart enough to realize that while they may have been dangerous men here, they were no match for the man in the green cap.

The local lowlifes preyed on whatever fell into their little web, but Greg Weiss was an apex predator.

He knocked on the door. It opened to reveal an AK-47 pointed at Weiss' head.

“Who the fuck are you?” the owner of the assault rifle asked with a thick Russian accent.

“Tell Mikhail Gregory is here,” Weiss replied.

“There is no Mikhail here.”

“You're not a good liar, now go get him.”

The AK-47 withdrew from the door, and it shut again. Weiss waited for a few moments, until the door was opened again. This time, no gun was pointed at him. Instead of a lackey, Mikhail Potapenko, head of the Russian mob's operations in Philadelphia, stood in the doorway.

“Gregory,” Potapenko said warmly, “this is a surprise. To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?”

“I was in the neighborhood, thought I would say hi, maybe discuss some new ventures that would be of interest to you.”

“Yes! Yes!” Potapenko responded excitedly, “come in!”

Weiss followed Potapenko through the narrow entryway into the living room. The house's interior defied its rundown exterior. A Persian carpet covered the room's hardwood floor. Two large, Italian leather sofas flanked a marble topped table, and faced an eighty inch flat screen television.

Potapenko motioned for Weiss to take a seat on one of the couches. He complied, and Potapenko sat facing him on the other couch. Weiss glanced around, and saw two young men standing guard around their boss, flanking him on either side of the sofa. They didn't hold their assault rifles, but Weiss noticed they kept them within arm's reach.

“Can I get you anything, Gregory?” Potapenko asked.

“No, but I do need something.” “What is it?”

“What I have is for your ears only, Mikhail, these men need to go.”

“They are good men, they know to keep their mouths shut, or the consequences will be very, very unfortunate.”

“I don't care. I don't know them, so I don't trust them.”

“They are good men, they stay,” Potapenko maintained a friendly, yet insistent tone.

Weiss sighed, “fine.”'

“So, what is it you wish to discuss? Is it Libby?”

“How are the sales going on that?”

“We are sold out, my friend. All of the little junkies love it, they say they will never go back to the shitty heroin the Mexicans sell.”

“That was our expectation. I take it you're satisfied with the product.”

Potapenko smiled. “When can I get more?”

“How much do you want?”

“As much as you will sell, my friend.”

Weiss nodded. “What's the limit you will spend. A million?”

Potapenko gave a hearty laugh. He snapped his fingers to one of his bodyguards, said something in Russian Weiss did not understand, and the man left the room. A minute later, the man returned, carrying a large duffel bag.

The man handed the bag to his boss. Potapenko unzipped it, and dumped its contents onto the marble table. Even a man as trained as Weiss had a hard time concealing his surprise as he saw what came from the bag.

Scores of baggies littered the table. From his examination, it appeared to Weiss that each contained a wad of hundred dollar bills.

“You see the bags?” Potapenko asked boastfully. “Each one contains five thousand dollars. There are over a hundred of the baggies on this table. A million dollars is nothing to me.”

“I see,” Weiss kept his tone neutral.

“Can you get me that much Libby?”

“That won't be a problem, Mikhail.”

“Shall we drink to it, Gregory?”

“Yes, we should.”

As the bodyguard started to leave, Weiss moved quickly, drawing his silenced .22 pistol. A shot to the back of the head dropped the man leaving the room. Before the other bodyguard could reach for his AK-47, Weiss executed him with a bullet between the eyes.

He trained the gun on Mikhail.

“Gregory, what the fuck?”

“Your men were sloppy,” Weiss' voice carried some bite.

“So you kill them? Is this about the money?”

“No, but you and I need to talk.”

“I take it I have no choice in this matter.”

“I'm afraid you don't, Mikhail.”

0144 (EST) University of Pennsylvania Medical Center; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The scene at the hospital felt surreal to Jeff Chaney. Even before 9/11, he'd been subconsciously preparing himself for some form of a terrorist attack on his city. He had just begun his tenure as a homicide detective the first time the World Trade Center was attacked, in 1993. Since then, he'd made himself ready to deal with it in his city.

All those years ago, Chaney could have never imagined that he would be dealing with it as the Chief of Police. Nor could he have imagined that the terrorism would take the form of something so strange and horrific.

“What the hell is going on here?” Chaney asked Jacklyn Phillips, after she requested to see him in private.

“Your men prevented a mass casualty event by shooting this gentlemen,” Phillips had a matter of fact tone to her voice.

“Yeah, well, the damn internet is going nuts, talking about my department shooting an unarmed man trying to get into the hospital.”

“We know, and we believe that is part of the terrorist's plan.”

“Who the hell did this? Al Qaeda? ISIS?”

“We don't believe it was either of those entities, it doesn't fit either of their MOs.”

Chaney couldn't argue with that. After he found out about the dead man in the emergency room, he assigned a detective to keep an eye on social media and the news, to see if anyone took credit for it. As the hours crept by with no one speaking up about what happened, Cheney grew more confused. It wasn't like any of the known terrorist groups not to brag about something like this.

“Any suspects for this at all?” Chaney asked.

“Not yet.”

While her tone and body language gave him no reason to doubt her honesty, Chaney still did. When his officers first alerted him to Phillips' arrival, Chaney placed a discrete call to an old friend, who worked out of the US Attorney's Office in Philadelphia. The friend told Chaney that Phillips only showed up for cases with high priority national security issues.

Chaney couldn't imagine that she didn't at least have an idea about who was causing this. But now was not the time to challenge her on it.

“What are you planning on doing in response to the shooting?” Phillips asked.

“Issue a statement saying that the police department will have no comment until it has concluded it's internal investigation.”

“That's a good call.”

“Yeah, now I've got to figure out what the hell actually happened here.”

“My people have seen the video of the whole incident.”

Chaney raised an eyebrow. “How in the hell did your people see the video? I thought we were locked out of the cameras.”

“That's not important,” Phillips replied dismissively, “what is important is that the video vindicates your men, and would also have a profound shock value to the general public, should it ever be released.”

“You want to release it to the general public?”

“I didn't say that, all I am saying is that it may be a nice ace to have up your sleeve, particularly if there's public outcry about the shooting.”

“I follow,” Chaney nodded, a smile on his face. Whoever the hell this woman was, he liked the way she was approaching this issue.

“Have you been able to identify the dead man?” she asked.

“My men didn't find any ID on him. Got a detective running his prints, he should be back any minute now.”

“We'll wait for him by the door.”

Phillips began to walk back towards the main entrance. Chaney followed, and they stopped where John Burnside stood with the agents from Phillips' team. Burnside made the introductions. The agents briefed Chaney on the little they'd learned about the John Doe.

Shortly into their conversation, Sal Palladino arrived.

“Detective Palladino,” Chaney said, “please tell me you have some good news.”

“I'm not sure,” Palladino replied with a grim expression, “but I do have an ID on the body.”

“Who is it?”

“Bruce Hoyer.”

Chaney's shoulders slumped. While Chaney would not mourn this man's passing, the circumstances surrounding Hoyer's death had the potential to create a shitstorm for the department.

“I take it you know this man,” Phillips stated.

“Yeah, Bruce Hoyer is a pedophile, real sick bastard.”

“He got locked up for molesting a couple of seven year old girls at his church,” Palladino added.

“I hope he was in a lot of pain before they shot him,” Vance Gaughan spat on the ground as he said this, as Craig Newman nodded his agreement emphatically.

“I like this guy,” Chaney said, pointing to Gaughan.

“Chief,” Erica Switzer spoke up, “I have a few ideas how this information could be useful to you.”

“Okay,” Chaney nodded.

“Is there anything else you need to tell us?” Phillips asked.

“It can wait,” Chaney replied.

“I got something else,” Palladino said.

“What, Sal?”

“It may not mean anything, but, one of the witnesses from the hospital said they just found their car stolen from the hospital parking lot. Our tech guys turned on their GPS, and the car is in a parking lot over by the Delaware River. Don't know if it has anything to do with this, but I figured I'd run it by you first.”

“You want in on this?” Chaney asked Phillips.

“Yes,” she replied.

“I'll go with him,” Newman volunteered.

“I'd like to stay and talk a few things over with the Chief,” Switzer offered up.

“I'll go with Craig,” Gaughan said.

0225 (EST) Sugarhouse Drive; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Newman followed Palladino, as they rode through the mostly vacant streets. They made the five mile trip without the benefit of flashing lights, so as not to draw attention. While Newman drove, Gaughan checked social media on his phone.

“This video is getting traction,” Gaughan said, “I really hope they've got an idea to blunt its momentum.”

“Good thing the victim isn't sympathetic,” Newman replied, “sounds like a public service homicide.”

Gaughan nodded. “I guess you were right about there being more to this attack.”

“I'm not sure it's over yet, Vance, I got a bad feeling.”

“I'm beginning to feel that way myself.”

Newman followed Palladino, as he turned into a parking lot. The stolen car, a late model, white, Ford Taurus, sat in the back of the lot. Palladino parked his car at the entrance of the lot, with Newman placing his car behind him.

The agents got out of their vehicle. They followed Palladino and his partner towards the Taurus. All of them had their weapons drawn.

Trees surrounded the lot on three sides. Beyond the trees lay the Delaware River. The agents made brief eye contact. Newman motioned to Gaughan with his head, and they moved to flank the detectives. The agents scanned the trees with their flashlights, guns at the ready.

Despite their difference in backgrounds, both Gaughan and Newman saw this as the perfect spot for an ambush. The lot had no lighting, and the trees provided ample cover for a sniper.

They moved quietly and deliberately across the asphalt. The only movement around them came from the rustling of the trees from the river winds.

The smell hit them first. As they drew closer to the car, a terrible odor assaulted their nostrils.

“Glove up,” Newman said.

“Yeah, no shit,” Palladino squeaked his response as he pinched his nose.

They approached the car, with Newman following Palladino to the driver's side, while Gaughan went with the other detective to the passenger's side. Their flashlights revealed a man slumped over the steering wheel, his seat belt still on.

Palladino banged on the window with the butt of his Maglite. The man didn't move. He banged on the window again, and still no response came.

“We're gonna need a bus,” Palladino remarked.

“I think it's a little late for that, detective,” Newman said.

A nod came from Palladino. He ran his flashlight over the body through the window. There were no obvious signs of trauma, on the body, and he saw no fluids.

“I'm going to go ahead and open it,” Palladino said.

“Just be careful,” Newman replied.

The detective opened the door. The seat belt held the man in the car. Upon closer inspection, the dead man appeared to be young and Hispanic. Looking over his body some more, Palladino saw a large, red mark on the right side of his neck.

“Looks like an injection site,” Palladino remarked.

“Something else, detective,” Newman said, “smell ain't coming from in there.”

“No, it's not.”

Palladino glanced at the trunk, and Newman nodded his agreement. The detective reached across the dead body, and popped the trunk. The horrible stench intensified, coming from it.

They moved to the trunk. It was caked in vomit, and two bodies lay in there. Most of the skin from the corpses' faces was melted off. Palladino reached into the trunk, but Newman placed a hand on his arm.

“No,” Newman said, “you don't want to touch that.”

In response, Palladino nodded. They backed away from the trunk.

“Hey guys,” Gaughan piped up, “we've got three wallets on the passenger's seat, one of the driver's licenses matches our dead guy behind the wheel.”

“What's the name?” Palladino asked.

“Lucas Andujar,” Gaughan saw a shocked look on Palladino's face, “you know him?”

“He's the Cartel's highest ranking guy in the city. His death would be a big deal.”

0715 (EST) Purfoy & Son, LLP Corporate Retreat; Geneva, New York

Phyllis Smith gazed out at Lake Seneca, drinking her morning coffee. The late spring sun, and the breeze off the lake, felt good to her in ways it didn't the day before. She knew it was because she could appreciate it more than she did yesterday.

For the first time since the shooting, Smith felt some level of peace. The new found comfort came from the text she awoke to from Weiss.

Phase One complete. No complications.

Stan Purfoy walked on to the deck, carrying his own mug of coffee, his girth barely contained by his bathrobe.

“You make any breakfast?” he sat down beside her.

“I'm not your wife,” Smith replied in a clipped tone.

Purfoy grimaced at her reply, but moved on. He sipped his coffee, and stared in silence at the lake, letting the caffeine get into his blood.

“Did Weiss finally decide to contact us?” he asked.

Smith handed him her phone. Purfoy read the text, then gave it back to her.

“What the hell does that even mean?”

“It means that he came through,” she replied, “just like I told you he would.”

“Anything make the news?”

“Just what we want.”

Purfoy nodded. “Do you think this will make the boss happy?”

“We're long way from that, but this is a very good start.”

Smith stood up from her chair, and stretched out. Last night she had slept well. It would take at least one more night like that for her to fully recharge from the recent chaos. She was grateful for the opportunity to do that, and knew she had to take advantage of it.

Things were about to start moving very fast.

[Thanks for reading. Episode 2 will be posted at 9PM East on Tuesday.]

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