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Authors: Douglas E. Richards

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BOOK: Game Changer
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Quinn thought this would work, would buy him time. After
all, once he left, the president and First Lady were safe, which was Coffey’s
only concern. A hot pursuit of a man they knew was highly skilled, and one they
believed to be insane, could be dangerous, not only for the agents involved but
innocent bystanders along the way. Besides, Coffey was sure to think that with
all of the resources at his disposal Quinn would be apprehended in record time,
without need of a high-speed chase. Within fifteen minutes the military might
of the entire nation would be blanketing Princeton like a swarm of locusts.

Quinn had watched Coffey’s face during his exchange with the
president, and he had seen his absolute certainty that Quinn had gone mad. He was
shocked to see that Coffey didn’t believe his accusations against the president
were worth considering for even an instant, under any circumstances.

This showed Quinn exactly what he would be up against. Coffey
knew him well, and knew he would never make such an accusation if it wasn’t
true. And Coffey was as open-minded to wild possibilities as anyone he had ever

And yet Quinn was certain the man had put zero credence into
what he had said.

Garza led Quinn and
his imaginary C4 vest and detonator into the garage without incident. More a
showroom than garage, the structure was cleaner and more sparkling than some of
the finest kitchens, and was immense, currently housing ten vehicles without
fear of any crowding.

Quinn knew very little about elite cars, but he guessed each
pristine model he saw had horsepower that approached infinity and a price tag
to match. His eyes ran over a number of stunning sports cars but slowed when he
came to the three sedans in the garage, a Porsche, a Jaguar, and a Maserati.
This last, a model called the Quattroporte, was of particular interest.

“Give me the keys to the Maserati!” he demanded.

The Quattroporte was magnificent, but its beige color and
understated grille made it the least conspicuous choice. The other cars were so
flamboyant that any one of them would have stood out like a siren in a library.

After Garza gave him the keys, Quinn also demanded the
billionaire hand over the cash in his wallet, which totaled six hundred and
twenty dollars.

Finally, less than five minutes after his attempt on the
president, Quinn left Garza and his home behind, hurtling forward in a car that
felt more like a rocket ship. He slowed only for the few seconds it took to
destroy his phone and fling it from the window before resuming at a speed that
exceeded reckless by at least twenty miles per hour.

As Quinn sped off into the night he forced himself to remain
calm and focused. No room for emotion if he was to have any chance of
accomplishing his mission.

First he had to find a way to survive. Easier said than
done, even for an hour or two, let alone days and weeks. Then he had to find a
way to gather evidence.

Quinn would leave the president’s distant past alone—for
now. Instead, he would focus on the prostitutes he had beaten. They might not
remember what had happened, but it would be a start. Davinroy was bound to have
made at least one mistake that Quinn could use to snare him.

So Coffey didn’t believe a word he said about the great
Matthew Davinroy. Didn’t believe the president could possibly have done what he
had done.

No matter
, thought
Quinn. Soon the world would know what a sick, murderous abomination the
president really was. Coffey’s skepticism would only make him
single-minded in his goal.

As if this were even possible.




Quinn knew if he was still in the
Maserati in twenty minutes, thirty at the very outside, he was a dead man. And
this time frame would be accelerated if he remained a sitting duck among the
farms and open landscape of Princeton. He needed a much better haystack to get
lost within.

He sorted through a number of
options, reaching a decision in seconds. There may have been better choices but
he didn’t have the time to search for them.

What he
now have was a destination—
miles distant. He hurtled toward this city at speeds that would have launched most
cars into space, but the Quattroporte somehow managed to hug the road like a constricting

Given the light traffic, had he adhered
to speed limits, stop signs, and red lights, the trip would have taken twenty minutes.
Kevin Quinn did it in nine.

Trenton, the capital of New
Jersey, was urban and ghettoized, which was ideal for his needs. Although it
was nearing ten o’clock on a Sunday night there were still small pockets of
human activity. He had driven by the occasional group of two or more
gangbangers, young males selling drugs or patrolling streets they felt they
owned. There were almost forty thousand street gangs in the United States with
well over a million active members, not including almost three hundred thousand
in prison.

Trenton had long been fertile
ground for both the Bloods and the Latin Kings, although a Guatemalan gang,
aptly named GTO, for
Guatemalans Taking
, had come to challenge the Kings’ dominance.

Like cockroaches, gangbangers preferred
to come out at night.

Quinn found an isolated alleyway
only four blocks from the Trenton Transit Center, a fancy name for an un-fancy
train station, and parked. He exited the car and confirmed that, as expected,
the alley was free from any street cameras.

Keenly aware that seconds
mattered, he tore at his tux like it was on fire, stripping down to his boxer
shorts and white cotton undershirt—which clung snugly to his biceps, delts, and
abdomen, showing off a level of fitness even beyond that which was required for
the job. Finally, he gathered up his bulletproof vest, shoes, and the various
pieces of his tux, and tossed them into the trunk of Garza’s car.

With this complete, Quinn drove the
Maserati ten yards forward, so most of it was still hidden in the alley but
enough of the front hood peeked out to be seen from more heavily trafficked
areas. He left the car door open, the key fob in a cupholder, and rushed to an
alley a few blocks away, where he predicted he could get the drop on three
gangbangers he had spotted from his car, if he was fast enough and they hadn’t
changed course. He kept his right hand, which held his gun, tucked inside his
boxers, against his outer leg.

For the first night of June, the
air was surprisingly cool against his skin, but rapid movement heated him up to
just above a comfortable temperature. The faint stench of puke and rotting
garbage wafted into his nostrils periodically as he moved toward his

The streets were mostly dark.
Lights provided by the city were often vandalized to keep them this way, and
street cameras used to see who was destroying the lights were typically
targeted for destruction as well.

The darkness was punctuated only
by stars, moonlight, and dim lighting from the occasional bar or tattoo parlor
still open. Steel, concrete, and rust were the common themes, and graffiti and
gang signs were everywhere, impossible to miss, even given the restricted
visibility. Quinn could only imagine how much graffiti could be seen in the

Two helicopters streaked by, far
above him, and he nodded to himself. About fourteen minutes had passed since he
had left Garza’s mansion. He had no doubt that additional helicopters were
converging on Princeton from all sides and his photograph was now on the phones
and tablet computers of every law enforcement agent in the country.

Wearing nothing but boxer shorts
and socks, each sock pressing a wad of bills against one ankle, Quinn made it
to his destination in time to surveil the group he was after. He circled around
behind them with practiced stealth.

The group had three members, all
Hispanic, heavily tattooed, and wearing gaudy gold chains and earrings. The
tallest one was about Quinn’s height and weight, although, like the others, his
clothing was baggy and loose-fitting. The shortest wore a black baseball cap,
backwards, while the third, midway in height between the other two and also ten
pounds overweight, wore a gold bandana.

The colors gold and black were a
common theme in their attire, the identifying colors of the Latin Kings. All
three displayed these colors proudly, not exactly going out on a limb to become
trendsetters in gangbang fashion.

Quinn closed the remaining
distance to his three targets in a rush, silent as a tomb.

“Don’t move!” he hissed when he
was five feet behind them, his gun extended.

All three jumped, unable to
believe they could have been surprised so completely.

The shortest of the three
recovered from the shock the most quickly. “Hey, chill out,
!” he said, still facing away from
Quinn. “You a cop? ’Cause we ’aint done

“Raise your hands and turn
around,” said Quinn firmly. “Now!”

All three did as instructed.

“What the fuck!” said the short gangbanger,
who must have been the alpha in this group, when he saw that the man holding
them at gunpoint was not wearing outer clothing or shoes. “You loco, or what? Make
a move against us,
underwear man
, and
you buying nothing but trouble.”

Quinn almost smiled at the
threat. He forced them into a nearby alley to maximize privacy. He then had
them place a variety of weapons on the pavement and kick them away under his
watchful eye.

Quinn nodded at the tallest
member of the group. “I need your clothing and shoes,” he said, keenly aware of
the passage of time. He then turned toward their leader, who, at about five-seven,
was six inches shorter than Quinn. “And I need
baseball hat.”

The alpha opened his mouth to
respond but Quinn launched a preemptive strike. “Not a single word!” he
demanded. “From now on, you speak when I
you to speak. If you do what I say, you’ll earn some money for your troubles. You
hesitate to do what I say and I’ll shoot all three of you in the head and take
whatever clothing I want from your rotting corpses. Your choice.”

“Slow down, ese; what’s—”

“Shut up!” said Quinn, making a
show of pointing a gun between the alpha’s eyes. “You!” he barked at the tallest
gangbanger. “Start undressing! Now! Ten. Nine. Eight . . .”

The leader of the group stared
hard at Quinn, trying to take his measure. But he saw nothing but a resolve and
composure that was unnerving. Quinn carried himself with an overwhelming aura
of competence, as though he was military trained, had seen combat before, and had
dealt death on more than one occasion. And it wasn’t easy to exude this level
of confidence, of
, while standing
in a dark alley wearing nothing but plaid boxer shorts.

Quinn’s voice was matter of fact
and unwavering. “
. . .

“Do it!” said the leader to his
tall comrade, who didn’t need to be told twice, moving instantly to begin
undressing before the countdown reached zero.

Quinn ordered all three
gangbangers to hug the pavement, facedown, while he donned his newfound
clothing, which reeked of marijuana and sweat. He managed to dress quickly,
despite having to maintain his vigilance and an extended gun. When he finished,
he pulled the wads of money from both socks and shoved them into his new front
pocket, but not before peeling off a hundred-dollar bill and dropping it on the
pavement near the leader’s head.

“One last thing,” said Quinn, pulling
the brim of his newly acquired baseball cap down to just above his eyes, “and
then our business here is done.”

Quinn needed an errand boy, and
the choice was obvious. The short one was the leader and might try to do
something stupid if he was pushed too far, afraid of losing status. The tall one
was now without clothing.

But the middle one was like something
out of
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
just right. Quinn ordered this one to rise from the pavement, handed him a
hundred, and told him to enter the train station a few blocks away and buy a
one-way ticket to Grand Central Station in New York.

“In case you haven’t guessed,” said
Quinn, “I’m a wanted man. I’m hotter than the center of the sun, with nothing
to lose. So try anything cute and your friends die. I’d rather not kill them
and attract a swarm of cops, but I’ll do what I have to do.” He paused. “On the
other hand, come back with my train ticket and all three of you leave unharmed.
You have five minutes! Go!”

Quinn watched his errand boy
rush off, wondering what choice he would make.

Less than five minutes later
this question was answered when Quinn’s Goldilocks gangbanger returned, sweaty
and out of breath, but carrying a train ticket in his grubby hand.

Quinn had him join his friends
facedown on the pavement once again, and explained that if they didn’t move or
speak for several minutes they could go in peace. Then he vanished back into
the alley without a sound, wondering how long they would lie there before
realizing he had left. If they did have the guts to consider retaliation, they’d
be looking for him in the train station, somewhere he had no intention of




Quinn retraced his steps back to
where he had left Garza’s car, allowing himself a moment of satisfaction when
he saw that it was gone. With any luck, whoever took it would be breaking the
sound barrier to get the vehicle as far away from Trenton as possible. Not that
it would matter. Before too long they would find themselves at the center of a
scene straight out of a war movie, no matter where they took it.

But regardless of any shell
games Quinn might play, any feints he might orchestrate, it wouldn’t be too
long before the trio of punks he had just left would be discovered and
interrogated. They wouldn’t be inclined to help authorities, no matter what,
but given the right threats or inducements they would describe what had
happened. Tell those hunting for Quinn that he had been after clothing and a train
ticket to Grand Central, from where countless numbers of trains departed hourly
for countless destinations.

And those hunting for him would buy
it, at least for a while, being forced to run down blind alleys and broaden
their search parameters extensively.

Quinn carefully made his way
three blocks to the other side of the train station, to a six story parking garage
Trenton Park and Ride
, as
though he had parked there and was making his way purposely toward his car. It
was getting late, but trains would still be departing for several hours to
come, so there were occasional cars both entering and leaving the structure.

Quinn passed an SUV parked in an
area of the garage that offered a good view of most of two entire levels, and
crouched beside it so he couldn’t be readily seen. Five minutes later, after he
watched two cars park and their owners exit the facility, a third new entrant proved
to be the charm. A blue 2023 Ford Fusion. A young man in his late twenties had emerged,
yanking a heavy black suitcase from the trunk.

. This man was what he wanted. Someone who would undoubtedly
be staying at his destination for an extended period of time, while his car
remained safely in the parking structure.

Quinn reached into his pocket
and removed the device he had habitually carried while on duty but had never
used, a silver disk about the size and shape of an Oreo cookie. The device was
able to remotely intercept and clone signals from key fobs, now used in
virtually all cars to unlock doors and start engines.

Quinn had activated his cloning device
while the Ford was being parked, and a quick glance at an indicator light revealed
that it had intercepted the data it needed.

The Fusion’s owner began to
wheel his suitcase toward the elevator and was soon out of sight. Once he was
gone, Quinn quickly made his way to the Ford. Sure enough, his device worked
like a charm, unlocking the Ford and signaling the car to start when he pressed
on the ignition button.

Perfect. He now had transportation.
With any luck, no one would know the car had been stolen for at least a few

He eyed the Ford’s eight-inch interactive
panel display and almost drooled. While he still didn’t have a phone, at least
he now had a way to surf the Web. He wouldn’t have guessed he would miss this
capability so profoundly, so quickly, but given he was on the run and in
constant need of good information, the Internet was a more critical resource
than ever before.

With the help of the Web, he mapped
out a strategy in minutes. First, he would drive to Allentown, Pennsylvania,
seventy-five miles distant, stopping in King of Prussia along the way to rob a
television repair store he had identified there. Since the shop held mostly
used and broken televisions, he guessed it had minimal security, which he could
easily defeat. He would then take what he needed—four television remotes, a
nine-volt battery, some wire, a roll of duct tape, and a small knife—and be on
his way.

Once on the outskirts of
Allentown he would search for a deserted but strategically located piece of
land on which to park, and then sleep in his car. The longer he remained at
large the more territory those after him would be forced to cover, resulting in
larger gaps in their net.

He had been caught unprepared, with
no contingency plan—an unforgivable sin—but he was reasonably satisfied with the
progress he had made.

In the morning, he would plan
ways to stay ahead of the pack, and then plot out his strategy for bringing
Matt Davinroy to his knees.

BOOK: Game Changer
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