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Authors: Gordon A. Kessler

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Knight's Late Train

BOOK: Knight's Late Train
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Knight's

Late Train

An E Z Knight Novel

From

"The E Z Knight Reports" Series

Volume
2

 

by

Gordon A Kessler

This book is
a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.

This
eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of the author.

Knight
's Late Train
Copyright © 2012 Gordon A Kessler.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical without the express written permission of the author. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law.

Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Cover Designed
by: Gordon A Kessler.  Copyright © 2012 Gordon A Kessler
http://gordonkessler.com

 

ASIN: B009IS0C3A

Version
4-22-14

 

 

A Personal Message from Gordon A Kessler to the Reader:

 

I've been writing
thriller novels for over twenty years. I enjoy writing them almost as much as I enjoy talking about them.

If you are entertained by this or any of my other works of fiction, could you be so kind as to drop me a quick email? I would appreciate it tremendously. Let me know who you are and what pleased you the most. I promise that I will personally respond.

 

Email me
and say
hi!
:
[email protected]

Tweet me at:
https://twitter.com/gordonkessler

Link up with me at:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/gordonkessler

Pin me at:
http://pinterest.com/gordonkessler

And follow me at:
www.facebook.com/gordon.kessler1

 

Please stop by my website and blog at:
http://gordonkessler.com/
–it's fun and you'll be glad you did.

On the site, you'll find my blogs as well as info on not only my past work, but also on novels to come. And there's a
special section giving brief bios on all the
"E Z Knight Reports'"
major characters. Be forewarned: you'll find a page of
Oz's colorful witticisms
, as well — adult readers only, please.

My Jazzy Brass has her very own
fan pages
on the website, complete with
photos
,
blog
and "
Jazzy Brass's Missing Scenes
". You'll love her, if you don't already!

Also, you'll discover a special section on the site highlighting the "
Knight's Girls
" (a little
risqué) in a gallery showing the different Knight Girl for each current
"E Z Knight Reports" novel covers
, as well as some that are coming up.

Enjoy!

 

Want your latest Gordon Kessler novel autographed with a personal message
?

Click her
e for your free Kindlegraph!

Dedication

 

Much work goes
into writing an entertaining novel, and quite a bit of it isn't done by the author. I have numerous friends and fellow authors who allow me to bounce off ideas and a couple of great editors who proofread my stories prior to publishing. They are vigilant, and help me produce what I feel is quality fiction — entertainment. I'd like to thank them now.

 

Denise and Gary — once again, thank you, my good friends! I dedicate this third book in "The E Z Knight Reports" series to you.

 

Also, a special dedication to the women and men of the rail industry — especially those in the field with their hands on rolling equipment. As alluded to in this novel, railroad work can be very dangerous with hazards springing up from unexpected places, constantly. This is especially true in train yards, at night, and double the dangers under adverse weather conditions. Be safe out there, my friends.

A shout out goes to our National Guard, specifically those in Colorado and at the HAATS training center. You’re obviously doing an incredible job for your country and your state.

A big and high “hi!” to the wonderful folks in Colorado where the girls are pretty, and the guys like to get down and dirty! Denver, Vail, Winter Park, the lovely Crested Butte area and the workers at Moffat Tunnel — you da best!

USMC, what can I say but “Semper Fi!” I love the Corps!

 

Please check out Kessler's other books

Thriller novels:

JEZEBEL

DEAD RECKONING

BRAINSTORM

 

Other "The E Z Knight Reports" series novels:

KNIGHT’S BIG EASY

KNIGHT'S RA
NSOM

Coming soon:

KNIGHT'S LAST SHOT

 

Short stories:

"Jack Baron,"
nostalgic romance

"
Toothpick for Two,
" humorous relationship story

 

Nonfiction about novel writing:

NOVEL WRITING MADE SIMPLE

Coming soon:

EBOOK WRITING MADE SIMPLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The E Z Knight Reports” Series

Foreword

 

My name is
Ethan Zachariah Knight — but most folks call me
E Z
, like the letters "E" then "Z," or simply:
Easy
. It's not that hard; it is —
easy
.

I'm narrating these accounts to writer Gordon A. Kessler, who will transcribe each into a report along with some supporting information he's gleaned from interviews and other research.

These statements are required by my parole officer. She's a great gal — lovely lady — and asks little of me in return for a
job
I did for her once (in
Knight’s Big Easy
). But she does insist that I give a narrative on everything that's happened between my mandatory monthly visits. I think it's a personal thing; her life is so boring that she lives vicariously through my misadventures. The crazy thing is that she doesn't care a bit about me breaking the law — as long as the end justifies the means. I guess that's okay by me, because after reading each report I turn in, she shows it to no one else.

And I tell her
everything
.

You should know a couple of things about me from the beginning:

1. I'm former military, and I've killed people, both here and abroad. But I've always tried to do my killing for the right reason. These days
I just want to be left alone
, and I avoid putting an end to people's lives as much as possible.

2. I have a couple of kids I love dearly, but a restraining order keeps me at least 200 yards away. They live with my folks in Colorado — I spend much of my time on my sailboat in Southern California trying to keep a low profile. Like I said,
I just want to be left alone
.

3. Why the restraining order? I was convicted of murdering my wife — my children's mother.
Of course I'm innocent, and I found proof after escaping from prison a while back. In the process, I got even with two dirty FBI special agents who were involved in my wife's death. As far as I'm concerned, their deaths were self-defense. Still, I haven't been able to prove the Federal agents' involvement
yet
. Being dead, they can't confess. Too bad, I'd love to make them talk.

Due to lack of evidence on the dead Feds and other extenuating circumstances, the court considered my involvement in their deaths involuntary manslaughter. The prosecution also took into account the proving of my own innocence in my wife's killing. In a plea bargain, I was sentenced to ten years' probation plus the three years I'd been behind bars — time served. I might add: some favorable outside influences from my past got involved on my behalf.

I'll get around to telling this whole story when the time is right. But, for a man who has yet to look forty in the eye, a whole bunch of my story is yet to be
lived
, let alone
told
.

Oh, and — did I mention:
I just want to be left alone
?

That's the skinny on me.

I hope you and Parole Officer Tamara White Cloud are entertained by these reports. And please excuse the colorful language, risqué encounters and violence — it's what my life has become.

Definition:
consist
– a train of any make up or configuration of railroad locomotives, with or without railroad cars or other rail equipment.

Prologue

Highball

Mid-April, just after sunset, Western Colorado

On Ol’ Windy (a snowblower locomotive consist) running eastbound on the Colorado Western Railroad lines

 

“Damn it, Specks!” Doc says. “Balls to the wall! Put it in
Run 8
!”

He leans out the window on the conductor’s sid
e of the rocking cab and squints into the blizzard. The big double headlights cause the snow to appear as a solid white curtain only a few feet in front of them.

“We can’t, Doc,” Specks complains.

Doc pushes back inside and grimaces. “I’m the conductor — you’ll do what I say!”

Specks’ glances back, eyes full of worry from behind his thick glasses.
“I might be just an old hoghead, but I’m the driver of this here string of motors. And I say Ol’ Windy ain’t keeping up with these drifts. This equipment ain’t as heavy as one of our big engines. Ol’ Windy’ll float on the snow, and we’ll derail, sure as shit!”

“We got the blower wrapped tight,” Doc tells him.
“She’s pushing the limit and won’t turn any faster. Gotta risk it.”

Specks sighs and shakes his head as he pulls the lever on the control stand to the farthest notch back. The
big sixteen-cylinder diesel engines on the two remote locomotives pushing them accelerate, roaring louder.

The old engineer’s fear and frustration are clear. “Doc, you old son-of-a-bitch!“

“Cut the headlights!” Doc says, leaning back through the window. “Keep the ditch lights on, but knock off the damn headlights. I can’t see a thing in this snow.”

“Shit,” Specks says. He flips
off the headlight switch. “This is suicide! We’re on the steepest part of the grade. We’ll be doing a hundred miles an hour by the time we get to the bottom. Won’t make that curve at Gold Miners’ Bend!”

Doc says, “Yeah, that’s
if
we even get to the bottom.”

“I’ve got a wife and kids, Doc.”

“Your wife’s a bitch, your kids are over thirty, and you don’t see them but once a year.”

Specks says, “I’d still like to be with
‘em next Christmas.”

Doc pulls back inside again. “For what, you want another couple of ties you won’t ever wear?” Doc shakes his head. “I got a lady, too—
and
I’m raising two grandkids. Right now, that don’t mean diddly-squat.”

Doc leans out again and
focuses on a light spot downhill in the grey soup. “There he is. There’s that bastard.”

“Where?” Specks asks.

Doc says, “He’s already made the switch!”

Specks pushes the control lever all the way forward to the first notch,
Run 1
, and sets a ten-pound brake application with the lever behind it on the console.

Their consist of two locomotives and the snow blower slow dramatically, the
powerful diesel motors’ lugging down, and Doc grabs the side window frame to keep from stumbling forward from the momentum. He turns back to Specks with a glare. “What the hell?”

“We’re too late, Doc,” Specks argues. “If he’s already made the switch, we can’t get out in front of him.”

Doc steps across the cab quickly and reaches over the control stand. He slaps the operating lever back into
Run 8
and shoves the brake lever to full release. The locomotive engines behind Ol’ Windy rev high and the air brakes hiss as they let go.

“No, we can’t get
in front
of him,” Doc snarls. “But we can damn sure
ram
that bastard if we can get to him before the whole train clears the switch. Break his train-line — separate a couple of air hoses, and he’ll go into automatic emergency.
Big hole
. That’ll stop him.”

“Shit, Doc!” Specks says. “Stop him? That’ll b
low up him and us both. That’s not the Mother Lode Express anymore since he’s switched out the ore cars and picked up the tankers. It’s a hazmat train. He’s loaded with LP gas and chlorine! Have you gone completely nuts?”

“Yeah, well that’s not all he’s carrying. He’s got
two boxcars of yellowcake and the son-of-a-bitch is headin’ to Denver. You want a couple hundred thousand deaths on your conscience?”

“A couple hundred thousand — from fifteen
hazmat cars? That LP and chlorine shit’s bad, but it ain’t that bad.”

“You ain’t listening,
meathead
— yellowcake, and it ain’t Betty Crocker’s.”

Specks frowns. “I don’t get it, Doc. But that don’t matter, anyway. I won’t have a mind to have a conscience if we keep going. Let somebody else stop
‘em,” Specks pleads. “There’s still time.”

“Who? We’re in dark territory. No way to get
word out, and nobody knows what the prick’s up to except us. We’re the only ones left to stop him.”

“This ain’t the way, Doc. I don’t know what is — but
this
ain’t the way.”

Doc glares at him. “Get out, Specks. Bail — now!”

“What? We’re going nearly fifty miles an hour. There’s a damn blizzard, and we’re in the middle of nowhere.”

Doc pulls a ball peen hammer from the small tool rack on the back of the control stand and raises it above his head. “I said bail, Specks! If you’re lucky, you’ll land in a deep drift and not on the rocks.”

Specks’ face is whiter than the snow. His eyes are huge. He slips from the engineer’s seat and goes to the cab’s back door. Pausing, he stares at Doc while buttoning up his parka and slipping on his gloves. But he doesn’t say another word.

Doc sits in the engineer’s seat
and grabs Specks’ large handbag, knowing the old railroader will need the warm gear and canned goods inside. He tosses the bag at his old friend.

“Take your grip. That should keep you alive a couple days.”

Specks catches the bag and frowns.

Doc says, “Tell Mary and the grandkids I love
‘em — and Ethan and Connie when you see them, too. And tell Ethan about the yellowcake. He’ll understand.”

Specks’ nod is nearly imperceptible. Doc wonders if his friend might not be close to slipping into shock.

But then in a rush, Specks yanks open the snowblower cab’s back door and steps out onto the catwalk. In the next second, he throws his bag and follows it, swinging under the side hand railing. As quickly as flipping a switch, he disappears into the white abyss.

*
  *  *

Specks lands in a flurry, and his breath is shoved from his lungs. He rolls in the snow that feels much harder than he’d hoped. Finally landing spread eagle, he mentally assesses his body parts as the roar of the locomotive engines diminishes into the blowing storm.

A dislocated shoulder, he realizes … and a sprained ankle, maybe — a little pain, but manageable. He’ll have to do some contortions to set the shoulder back into place. Then he’ll need to figure out how to survive in the ten-degree weather until help comes — if ever it will.

The ground shakes. Specks sits up and adjusts his glasses that somehow survived the fall. After wiping the snow from the thick lenses, he squints toward the bottom of the grade, but he can only see blowing snow.

“He’s rammed him!” Specks says aloud.
Or has he. There was no explosion. Maybe he’s just derailed. Maybe Doc’s still alive.

Then the snow grows bright, and an orange flash comes from the tracks below.

“Oh, Doc!” he says to himself. He’s known the man for over thirty years. He’s been good friends with him for nearly as long — but he still hates it when Doc calls him
meathead
. And the man had gone completely off his rocker, forcing him to hole up on Ol’ Windy for five days and hide out in dark territory with him where they couldn’t call or even radio anyone. Then threatening him with a hammer, saying something about Betty Crocker before forcing him to jump off a moving consist of locomotives traveling at nearly fifty miles an hour —
what the hell?

“Damn it, Doc!” Specks says and shakes his head. “Always had to be the hero.”

*  *  *

Mind on the Road, Hands on the Wheel

Near Gypsum, Colorado, ninety-five miles southeast

 

As darkness sets in at the Colorado National Guard’s HAATS training facility near Vail, a female officer walks through the light snowfall and up to the three sentries at the main drive-through gate off the parking lot.

In the eye of the blizzard
, they appreciate the calm before the mean backside of the storm tears through. With the regular workday long over, there’s no night training scheduled for tonight, and they’re hoping for a peaceful end to their day. The guards remain vigilant, but they’ve been enjoying this more laidback and less scrutinized time of the evening. They’re talking about sports; baseball, mostly — but what about those Broncos? They might have a chance this year — with the NFL season still five months out, you can talk big and nobody will remember once the gridiron heats up.

The big, young E-4 recognizes the woman
major and comes to attention. She’s a welcome sight for the young men; wearing a flight suit that fits around her curves like spandex. She’s been in and out for a week,
checking out
the avionics and guidance system on a new UH-60 Blackhawk they’ve just received, and she’s always extremely pleasant. All three young men are now checking
her
out.

“Good evening, Major,” E-4 Lampe says accompanying a crisp salute.
Through the major’s open jacket, he easily notices she’s left the zipper on her flight suit undone nearly to her navel, and she isn’t wearing a bra. What he can see is very nice — the start of two nicely well-rounded mounds of pink but goose-bump-covered flesh, and her nipples seem about to rip through the fabric. “A little chilly out her, ma’am — how can we help you?”

She gives a
loose wave with the tips of her fingers off the bill of her cap. “I got hot back there in the hangar,” she says her voice soft and sexy, and she holds up her left hand with a cigarette between her fingers. “Got a light?”

The young guardsman pulls out a Zippo and snaps it open. He flicks the striker at the same time — a neat trick his uncle taught him when Lampe was back in high school.

She seems impressed, her eyebrows raising as she places the cigarette to her mouth and pulls in the smoke through her full, red lips.

But he ca
n’t help his eyes wandering, allowing the lighter to burn too far and too long into the cigarette.

She pulls back and giggles at him.

He’s pretty sure she caught him gazing below her chin. “Sorry, Ma’am!” he says.

She’s smiling at him, and his two companions laugh, seeming to ease their discipli
ned rigidity in the major’s lax mood.

“For what,” she says, “the lighter
gone wild or for you eye-screwing my tits?”

His eyes pop and his face flushes. He can’t suppress his embarrassed smile.

She asks, “Did you see something you didn’t like?”

“Well, no, ma’am…,” he says and turns toward his snickering buddies.

“Don’t be sorry, then,” she says. “Be dead.”

He turns back to her, a vacant smile remaining on his lips.

She has a silenced Glock in her hand now, and he feels a deep sting to his gut as the gun puffs twice, sharply.

His head hits the pavement sideways, but the world is silent, and the lights around the guard shack glare as he gazes at his buddies who have already fallen next to him. Headlights come on from outside the gate and a handful of men rush through, stepping over him, as a large box truck drives inside.

The twenty-year-old man’s world darkens as all sensations leave him.

By the time the three young sentries’ hearts stop beating, most of the siege has already been completed. Within the small facility that trains military helicopter pilots from all over the world to fly under adverse conditions and above rugged terrain, five of the Colorado National Guardsmen have been planning
this takeover for nearly a year. They’ve been getting paid exceptionally well for it. Two other National Guardsmen — both pilots — will do whatever they’re told as long as
Operation Thundertrain
has their families.

The other twenty or so mercenaries
making up most of the rest of Thundertrain and now rushing in will find no resistance in the seventeen dead guardsmen and women who have been working late at the facility. They will not be recorded on security cameras that have been blinded. All alarms have been silenced. The armament, ammo, explosive ordinance and other military materiel these trespassers bring with them are but a small part of the enormous conflagration they’ll soon create.

For now
they’ll proceed, putting into place the next step in their mission to help prepare for a firestorm like no other this country has ever seen.

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