Read Deadlock (Ryan Lock 2) Online

Authors: Sean Black

Tags: #Bodyguard, #Carrie, #Gangs, #Angel, #Ty, #Supermax, #Ryan Lock, #Aryan Brotherhood, #Action, #President, #Thriller, #Pelican Bay

Deadlock (Ryan Lock 2) (4 page)

BOOK: Deadlock (Ryan Lock 2)
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The images stacked up. The cold disposal of Janet and Aaron by means of a single gunshot to the back of their heads. By the time Ken Prager was dispatched, Lock could sense his old friend’s relief. After all, who would want to live after witnessing the murder of his wife and child?

When the footage came to an abrupt cut-off, no one spoke. Lock’s shock had given way to a cold rage.

Jalicia snapped the laptop shut, and Coburn got up and opened the blinds. Watery San Francisco sunlight seeped across the conference table and splashed against the far wall, which only seconds ago had been bloodier than a butcher’s block.

Lock glanced at Jalicia and Coburn. ‘Would you give us a moment alone?’

Without a word, they got up and left the room, closing the door behind them.

Ty spoke first. ‘You have to do this job now, don’t you?’

Lock nodded.

‘Then I’m coming with you.’

‘It’s too dangerous,’ said Lock.

‘Exactly,’ said Ty. ‘That’s why you need someone watching your back. Listen, Ryan, half the kids in my neighbourhood graduated to one prison or another. I know the turf.’

Lock hesitated. There was nothing he could do now to help Ken Prager. He hadn’t even known he was undercover with the ATF. But if something happened to Ty, that would be different.

‘I’m not letting you walk into that place on your own, brother,’ Ty persisted.

‘I really don’t want you to feel you have to do this,’ Lock said, studying Ty’s look of concern.

‘But you feel you have to because he was your friend, right?’ Ty asked him.

‘Of course.’

Ty reached out and put a hand on Lock’s shoulder. ‘Then you’ll understand why I can’t let you walk in there on your own.’

6

Clad in the standard blue uniform of a California Department of Corrections prisoner, Lock peered out of the porthole window as the twin-engine Cessna light aircraft dropped rapidly on its final approach, breaking through a low bank of coastal cloud to give him his first clear view of where he was about to spend the next five days. At first all he could see were vast tracts of redwood forest, which encircled the facility on almost three sides. To the east, the ancient trees climbed to a barren range of mountains, and to the west lay the Pacific Ocean. Then it was there below him, modern America’s answer to Alcatraz: Pelican Bay Supermax.

Nothing had prepared him for the sheer scale of the place. Two hundred and seventy-five acres in the middle of nowhere, about as far north as you could venture in California before you slipped into the state of Oregon. Even if a prisoner made it out past the plethora of electric fences, razor wire and gun towers, where would he go? Sure, there was nearby Crescent City, but that was where the guards lived with their families – hardly an ideal place to hide out.

Lock sank back in his seat and ran through the cover story Jalicia had furnished them with. A high-net-worth client in Los Angeles whom they’d been guarding had fired them on some dubious pretext and then refused to pay them. When they’d gone to collect the money, there had been an altercation with several members of his new security team, during which one of them had been killed. They had both received fifteen-year sentences for manslaughter. In the cauldron of sex, violence and celebrity that constituted Los Angeles, it would come as no surprise that a story like this had stayed broadly off-radar. By the time any prisoners got suspicious and started to ask questions of their contacts on the outside, Lock and Ty’s mission should be complete.

Coburn had also told them that a decision had been made to keep knowledge of their task within as small a circle as possible. Not even the Marshals team transporting them had been informed of their true status. The only person within the prison who had been told was the warden, Louis Marquez.

Lock sat back up and craned his neck a little further, the cuffs digging into his wrists, the chain round his midriff, which linked to his cuffs and leg restraints, biting into the side of his abdomen. Straining like this, he could glimpse the huge purpose-built buildings where the inmates lived, and where three-quarters of them were destined to die. On one side of the prison lay the gigantic X-shaped Secure Housing Unit, four arms moving out from a central spur. Beyond that, Lock could see the equally vast rectangular blocks of general housing units, with the grassy recreation yards in the middle. This was where he and Ty would be. With Reaper. And a few thousand potential assassins, all of whom had been hardened by years of incarceration.

In the most obvious way it made the challenge seem next to impossible, but in another it made it easier. When escorting a high-ranking army general through a street bazaar in Baghdad, or ushering the British Prime Minister into a hotel in Belfast, the challenge was to stay alert because you never quite knew where the threat was coming from. Or whether it would come at all. But down there, Lock could safely assume everyone to be a threat, up to and including the man whose life he was charged with guarding.

He was set for an exhausting five days. But if that’s what it took to bring to book the men who had ordered the murder of Ken Prager and his family, then so be it.

As the plane banked hard to the left, the ocean replaced his view of Pelican Bay Supermax, crests of white waves slamming into steep, perilous cliffs. Lock sank back into his seat.

The pilot’s voice crackled over the tannoy, a robotic delivery not without an undercurrent of humour. ‘Two minutes to landing, gentlemen. And I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for flying the unfriendly skies with JPATS, America’s least favorite airline.’

A few minutes later, they ducked in low under the clouds and slammed down hard on the runway. Lock lurched forward in his seat, the huge, bear-like Marshal sitting next to him putting out a beefy arm to prevent Lock’s head from banging the seat in front. The plane taxied to the far end of the runway and juddered to a halt.

As soon as the pilot had turned off the engines, Lock was hustled towards the front of the aircraft and down the steps, Ty behind him. Raw salt air mixed with a light mist as they were led towards two separate unmarked Toyota Land Cruisers. The vehicles skirted round Crescent City itself and headed north-east along Lake Earl Drive.

Lock sat alone in the back of the rear vehicle, minutes away from one of the most dangerous prisons in North America, suddenly glad that Carrie couldn’t see him. He’d called her from Jalicia’s office, hoping to get the answering machine, but she’d picked up on the third ring. He’d kept the details of his and Ty’s task as sketchy as possible. Witness protection. A five-day job. He’d said nothing about his reason for taking it on, or what it would actually entail.

He could tell that Carrie was doing her best to sound unconcerned.

‘So your trip to San Francisco was worth it then?’ she’d asked him.

‘Guess so,’ he’d said.

Lock had made a pact with Carrie that, despite her reporter’s instincts, she wouldn’t ask for too many details about his work unless he offered them up. And this was not a situation he thought it wise to tell her too much about.

There’d been an awkward silence.

‘Ryan, are you OK?’

‘I’m fine. Why?’

‘I dunno, you sound distracted.’

‘It’s just been a long day is all.’

‘This job, do I have anything to worry about?’

‘No way. I’m gonna have Ty with me. We’ll be fine.’

‘OK then. So, see you in five days?’

‘Carrie?’

There was the trill of a cell phone in the background.

‘Other line. Gotta go. Listen, be safe, OK?’

And then she was gone, before he’d had the chance to tell her how much he was going to miss her and that he loved her. Sitting in the back of the Land Cruiser, he wondered if he’d ever get the chance to say those things. With a lurch of regret, he realised he should have said them while he’d had the chance.

Less than ten minutes later, they turned right past an unmanned guardhouse and into the Pelican Bay complex. They followed the road round to the left for a time. Finally, they stopped outside what Lock guessed was the processing area. The rear door opened and Lock stepped out. He stared up at the gun towers and electrified fences topped with strands of razor wire, his home for the next five days.

The Marshal standing next to him followed Lock’s gaze.

‘Welcome to hell, asshole.’

7

‘Roll it up, Reaper.’

Reaper hopped off the top bunk in his cell in the Secure Housing Unit. He raised his arms above his head and stretched out his back. Usually there were at least four officers present when he went anywhere, now there were only two. Reaper took it as a good sign.

‘Where am I going?’ he asked Lieutenant Williams. As cops went, Williams was OK. He didn’t yank anyone’s chain unless they yanked his. And, rarely for a guard, he didn’t hold a grudge.

‘Just cuff up for me, would you?’ Williams said, ignoring the question.

Reaper folded his arms. ‘Sure. Once I know where I’m going.’

Williams ripped the top sheet from the stack of papers attached to the clipboard he was carrying and passed it through the food tray slot. Reaper bent his knees, crouched down and picked up the piece of paper. He scanned it and smiled before handing it back through the hatch.

‘Don’t know how you swung it with the warden, and I don’t wanna know,’ Williams said, making a show of putting the movement order back on his clipboard.

‘Haven’t you heard, Lieutenant? I’m a reformed character.’

‘Yeah, right.’ Williams chuckled. ‘You got all your stuff together?’

‘Can you give me a couple of minutes?’ Reaper asked.

‘Be back in two,’ Williams said, turning military-sharp on his heel.

Reaper listened as Williams and his fellow floor cop exited the electronically controlled door at the end of the corridor. Once it had clanked shut, he set to work gathering his belongings, which mostly consisted of books. Being locked inside a cell on your own for twenty-three hours a day, you had to find something to occupy your mind or you went crazy.

He’d thought about this day for a long time, five years in fact, but he never truly thought he’d see it. Not with his record of behaviour. Since being moved to Pelican Bay from San Quentin, Reaper had twice shared a cell. On both occasions something his cellie had done – like coughing too loud, or talking too much, or snoring – had frayed his nerves to the point where he’d had no alternative but to dispatch them. It didn’t matter what colour their skin was either. He just didn’t play well with others.

There had been other homicides too. On the yard. In the showers. In the early days of Pelican Bay, back when they still fed the prisoners communally in chow halls, he’d strangled an elderly Hispanic inmate to death with his bare hands for serving him cold coffee. Some of the killings he’d got in trouble for, some he hadn’t. Getting into trouble didn’t really matter to him anyway. Not when you were serving three life sentences without the possibility of parole. What were they gonna do? Give you another twenty years? The guards and the police and the whole system must have thought so too because they labelled most murders inside prison as NHIs, which stood for ‘No Humans Involved’. Of course, kill an ATF agent, or order one to be killed, and that was different. Then they started talking about The Row, which had focused Reaper’s mind for the first time in a long while, and had gotten him thinking about the future.

Reaper could hear Williams coming back. He took one last look round the tiny cell, picked up his box of belongings and stepped out into the narrow corridor.

Leading the way, he marched to the end of the corridor and the door opened. Two more corridors, two more doors, and he was outside. He could actually feel a breath of breeze on his face. He was out of solitary.

That was the first step. In five more days, if everything went to plan, he’d be out of this place entirely. Then his mission could really begin.

8

The things I do for my country, Lock thought to himself, as he stood facing the wall of the prison’s tiny reception area, his fingers touching the whitewashed concrete, his legs spread wide as a prison guard squatted beneath him with a flashlight.

‘OK, now reach down there with your left hand and spread your cheeks,’ came the officer’s command.

Lock complied, consoling himself with the fact that men of a certain age in the United States actually paid a physician to endure this humiliation on an annual basis.

‘Keister’s clear,’ said the guard matter-of-factly to one of his colleagues. Then he turned back to Lock. ‘You can pull up your pants now.’

Before their handover to the US Marshals Service, Ty, who figured that over half of the kids he grew up with in Long Beach were currently serving time somewhere in the nation’s prison system, had brought Lock up to speed on some of the prison lingo. Keister was slang for your anal cavity, also known as a prison purse. The keister was the hiding place of choice for drugs, or money, or, more commonly, prison-manufactured improvised weapons, also known as shanks.

Lock turned round. In front of him, two more correctional officers were puzzling over his paperwork. The guard who’d just cavity-searched him nodded towards Ty. ‘You and your homeboy here might have come in together, but once you’re on block together you might want to keep your distance. The white cons frown on any of their number hanging with a black.’

By ‘frown’, Lock knew that the guard meant ‘would murder in cold blood’. The racial segregation strictly enforced by the prisoners was also something he and Ty had discussed. It would make communication difficult but gave each of them access to two separate powerful groups. If Lock’s cover was blown, or a hit on Reaper was imminent, Ty was more likely to hear it from the black prisoners. Lock’s first warning would likely be a knife in the back while taking a shower.

The two guards staring at the clipboard were still deep in conversation. Finally, they looked over to Ty. ‘OK, Johnson, you’re A-block, unit 8. You too, Lock. But be aware of what you were just told. You guys associate in here and something jumps off, that’s down to you.’

BOOK: Deadlock (Ryan Lock 2)
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