SHOOTOUT ON I-95 LEAVES 29 DEAD, 16 WOUNDED
By David Barrymore, Special to the Miami Herald
MIAMI, Aug. 26 — Yesterday I was assigned to write a human interest story about a roadside diner run by a wonderful Cuban family who only two years ago had fled Castro’s Cuba.
Things had gone well, and I had enjoyed both a fine interview session and a delicious traditional Cuban meal, when unexpectedly gunfire erupted in the parking lot.
I tell you this: I never expected to be a battlefield correspondent in Florida!
At first I couldn’t tell who was shooting at whom, and from the floor it was hard to see much. But after glancing out the front window, I could see men who had just left the diner shooting at others whom I could not see at first, only later realizing those men were wearing black, SWAT-like uniforms. Of course, the police are not generally known for callous disregard of civilians.
The gunfight lasted nearly half an hour, and several eyewitnesses who had been in the parking lot when the fighting started reported seeing a man in a red and green costume take out several of the combatants using both pistols and martial arts skills.
This as-yet-unidentified mystery-man is also credited with saving the life of one Jennifer Rodriguez, 19, of South Miami Beach, Florida, when he pulled her out of the kill-zone and treated her wounds with what has been described by one paramedic as being “first-rate field medical skill,” which, combined with reports of his fighting and shooting skills, indicates a military veteran.
According to Captain Julius Brevare of the State Troopers Barracks 19, the death toll is 24 combatants, five civilians, with 16 wounded.
The masked man is credited with five dead, all combatants, and he reportedly took out two commandos who were about to use a rocket launcher on a State Police vehicle that had been approaching the scene. He also took out several commandos without killing them, instead leaving them unconscious and tied up.
According to State Police spokesman Robert Callider, they have already contacted representatives of the Justice Society of America and Infinity, Inc. and have discovered that no known member of either group was known to be in this area. Both organizations have also stated that they do not support killing opponents. So it looks like Florida has a new mystery hero, a vigilante who may or may not be ex-military.
As to the identities of the combatants, it appears that a number of Peruvians were the targets and may be connected to a drug cartel, while the commandos were mercenaries, possibly hired by a rival organization. At this point, however, no one is talking to authorities, and certainly not to the press.
But this reporter says to the masked hero: thank you!
El Casa de la Diablo, Peru:
A tall, muscular man with long black hair and a myriad of tattoos on his finely sculpted body slammed a report down on his desk.
“Whoever attacked my men will pay with their hides!” cried El Diablo Roho.
Seminole City, Florida:
The citizens awoke to find a very warm, sunny day awaiting them. The news of yesterday’s gun-battle several miles down the road was the lead story of the news programs, and people were glad it had not happened there, especially after the crimes committed during the recent hurricane.
Only one man relished the thought of a gun battle. He hoped people had died slowly and painfully, and he regretted he could not have been there to witness firsthand the carnage.
Just yesterday from his house he watched the local police visiting his elderly neighbors to inquire about their car, which he had borrowed without their knowledge. He was confident he had left no clues to his identity in the car. He was wrong.
But then again, the man who called himself Flencer considered himself to be far more intelligent then ninety-nine percent of the human population. In reality, his mistakes were beginning to pile up.
Still, in his basement he held someone special, one Dr. James Monroe Sr. He had planned to kill the old, wheelchair-bound man last night, but a late visit from the police chief had changed his plans. Now he was glad, for he had grabbed the man early this morning, while most of the city still slept. And that made him laugh uproariously.
Police Chief Lawrence Durrel woke on the morning of August 28th feeling hungry. He shaved and showered and made his way to the kitchen, where his wife was preparing a breakfast for him.
Magdalene Durrel, his mother, wrapped her arms around him and said warmly, “Nice to see you back, Lawrence.”
Putting his arms around her, he replied, “Thanks, Mom, but you act like I was gone. I mean, I remember being in the hospital, then waking up here, but really, I just must be overworked a bit.”
Sharon Durrel joined her mother-in-law and husband in a group hug. “Oh, Larry, I’m glad you’re here, too! For a while we thought we had lost you!”
Lawrence Durrel was confused.
“I wonder where Sam went,” Magdalene said as she broke off the hug.
“Who?” Durrel asked, puzzled.
“Oh, just somebody I met yesterday,” she replied.
Sharon looked at her mother-in-law and asked, “Really? When was that?”
“Oh, just at the hospital,” she said. “Say, we still got a crime to solve, son.”
“We?” Durrel asked, confused. “Since when did you join the force, Mom?”
At that moment, the phone rang. Sharon picked it up and spoke quietly, then turned to her husband. “Hon, it’s Sergeant Tompkins for you.”
“OK, OK, I’ll take it.”
Detective Harry Rheems was looking through the car Flencer had stolen while talking with Officer Sheila Holmes.
“So, his wife say how long he’d be out?” Holmes asked the tall detective.
“Nope. Just said a day or two,” replied Rheems. “Now where did I put my tweezers? Oh, here they are.”
“What did you find?” the lady cop asked. “Some strands of red hair?”
“Yep. But both those fine folks up there watching us are gray-haired,” the detective replied. “OK, bag ’em, tag ’em, and I guess that’s a wrap. I don’t see anything else.”
Holmes put the small plasticine bag in her shirt pocket. “I guess your partner will be pissed if you solve this crime without him.”
Rheems laughed as he thought of Detective Joseph Maven, laid up in the hospital as he was. “Yeah, well, teach him to develop painful sores, won’t it?”
“Admiral, we’ve got a new one, and in the same time period,” said Gooshie, a small, chubby computer programmer with curly brown hair who was noted for having bad breath. “It’s someone famous, too.”
“Not Elvis again?” Al Calavicci asked.
“No, this man is famous in a very different field,” replied Gooshie. “Here, come on. I think we’d better get on this right away. I’m very worried about Dr. Beckett.”
“Ahh, you’re always worried about Sam,” Al said with a wave, hiding his own concerns.
After making sure his new red suit was nice and neat, Al walked into the waiting room. “Hi. I’m Al, and I am assuming you’ve been briefed on where you are?”
“Shady Rest Hotel. Mr. Travis? Yes, we have him as a guest here. One moment, and I’ll connect you to his room. Thank you, and you have a good day, madame.”
“G’morning.” Terry Lee Travis had barely awoke when the phone rang.
“Terry Lee, are you all right?”
“I’m fine, Aunt Linda,” he said, sitting up. He had called last night to leave a message telling her where he was staying should anyone need him, but he didn’t expect a call so soon.
“I just heard on the news this morning about a new masked man showing up right about where you were, and I got to thinking about our conversation yesterday,” his second cousin Linda Travis said. She was affectionately known as Aunt Linda because of the several years’ difference in age between them; she was in her fifties, while Terry Lee was in his late twenties.
Terry Lee nodded, then said, “Probably was me, if you’re talking about the firefight on I-95.”
“Firefight? Oh, yes, military talk — all those people shooting each other, and you, no doubt, rushed in guns a-blazing!”
“Yes,” Terry Lee said as he set up the in-room coffee pot. “That was me. Say, how does Victory sound for a code name?”
“Obnoxious, Terry Lee. But why did you do it? No banks being robbed?”
“Not where I was, Aunt Linda. So how’s the newspaper business?”
“The paper is doing all right in a tough market,” said Linda, who was the publisher of the Globe-Leader newspaper. “And don’t change the subject. Terry Lee, do you really feel you have to be a vigilante?”
Terry Lee shrugged. “It’s in my blood.”
Linda sighed heavily. “I suppose so, but really — Victory?”
“I’m open to suggestions.”
“I’ll get back to you on that. But otherwise, how are you?”
Terry Lee poured some coffee. “I’m doing well, Aunt Linda. There is such an incredible adrenaline rush that comes with going into battle! Reminded me of why I loved being a SEAL so much. And, no, I don’t think the appellation Seal would work for me.”
“Well, maybe not. Might work for the new Aquaman’s sidekick, if he ever gets one.” Both laughed at that.
Dr. Sam Beckett awoke to find himself tied and bound, with a tall, skeletal, red-haired man sneering over him. “Welcome to your worst nightmare, Doctor.”
Sam’s only response was, “Oh boy.”
Magdalene Durrel was surprised to see a doorway of light opening in the living room and Al Calavicci coming through. He motioned to her, and she made her excuses to go into the living room.
“Al, what brings you here?”
“Sam is in deep trouble. We need your help.”
“How can I help?”
Traveling in time as I do has caused me to arrive in many precarious situations, and more than once have I found myself in an uncomfortable situation, but I don’t ever remember a time I awoke to find myself tied to a chair and gagged. When I was first called “doctor” by my captor, with my swiss-cheesed memory I briefly thought he knew who I was, but then when he dragged a young girl into the room and told me what he was going to do to her, I realized I had leaped into Dr. James Monroe. I didn’t feel any relief when this man told me he wasn’t going to do anything to her until later, but I knew I had to figure out a way to get myself freed, then rescue that little girl. To my advantage, I discovered my legs weren’t tied to this chair; of course not — Dr. Monroe’s legs weren’t functional, but I hoped mine were.
“Oh, Sam, you’re conscious — good,” said Al. “Listen, I’m going outside to try to find out what the street address is, or at least something I can give to Mrs. Durrel to pass on to her son. You hang in there, OK?”
I nodded. What else could I do? Al being a hologram couldn’t help me, which seemed to frustrate him as much as it did me.
Police Chief Lawrence Durrel put down the phone. “This is not good,” he muttered. “I gotta get to the station. Better grab some toast to eat on the way.”
“What’s going on, Larry?” Sharon Durrel asked her husband.
“Someone kidnapped Dr. Monroe and his granddaughter — took them right out of their house. I got people on their way.” The phone rang again, and he picked it up. “Durrel.” He listened intently and said, “That’s outside of our jurisdiction.”
His mother reentered the kitchen. She looked at her son’s worried face, then asked Sharon, “What’s going on?” Her daughter-in-law shrugged, looking at her husband with concern.
“OK, call the state boys if they need back-up. I’ll OK sending our people there.” Durrel hung up and turned to his women. “The Donnici estate is being attacked!” He swore. “I may hate that man and what he stands for, but I am sorry for any of his family that’s there.” Shrugging, he added, “Wonder who he pi — er — angered now.” With an apologetic look, he grabbed some toast and his thermos and headed for the door, grabbing his pistol from the hall closet as he went.
Magdelene looked at Sharon. Sharon looked at Magdelene. And together they went into the living room to turn on the TV news.
Al Calavicci spotted Flencer leaning over a very frightened child. “You bastard! You hurt that little girl, and I swear I’ll hunt you down myself, if you’re still even alive in ’99!”
But Al was shocked when the girl, little Amy Monroe, seemed to see him, and her eyes widened. He looked at her and said, “Don’t give up, child. I’m going to try to get help here as quickly as possible.” She nodded, and Flencer — unaware of the hologram threatening him from behind — laughed some more. “Good, good… you understand.” He grinned and brushed his red hair out of his face. “Makes it easier. And, oh, have I got some fun planned for tonight!”
Al went through the front door and started looking around for anything that could tell him where Sam and Amy were being held captive. He spotted the building number on the mailbox, then looked around for a street sign. None was nearby, but he spotted one down the street. With a push of a button he appeared in front of the street sign and made a note of it, then popped back into Sam’s presence.
“I’m heading back to see Mrs. Durrel, and, Sam, it’s going to be all right, I swear!”
Sam Beckett nodded and continued struggling with his bonds, silently praying that Al could get help as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, Terry Lee Travis was cleaning his pistols as he turned on the television, only to find out that there was another firefight underway, and not all far away from his position. From what he heard, it was a continuation of yesterday’s battle. Quickly, he finished his task and loaded his weaponry and his costume into the briefcase. He was just about to head out the door when the phone rang. He grabbed it just in case.
“What about Justice?” Linda Travis said.
“I’ll consider it, Aunt Linda, but I gotta go.”
“OK, Terry Lee. God be with you.”
“Thanks. And, uh, I love you.” He hung up.
In the publisher’s office at The Globe Leader in New York City, Linda Travis looked at the phone receiver and said, “I love you, too, Terry Lee.” With tear-stained eyes, she turned to the television, which was displaying news of the gun battle in Florida. “And may God be with you.”