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Terror on the F Train
“Some men are born great, some achieve greatness,
and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
Sam struggled to keep his emotions in check that morning. He managed to get through the sting of tears, clinging hugs and kisses with the family on the porch including frigid moments with his wife, Wendy. His cheeks were suddenly wet as he glanced at the house through the cab’s rear window. His mother waved stoically from her upstairs window, tears streaming down her dark, weathered face. Wendy was sitting on the top step of the porch, head in her hands, their son and daughter sitting close and holding their mother. Wendy had been tearing-up for a week with intermittent periods of anger and defiance. Neither could sleep as they lay close to each other in silence during Sam’s last nights at home. He vowed to grab some sleep on the flight.
“Damn it Sam,” Wendy had said, her brown eyes flattening her husband’s face. “Haven’t you done enough? Haven’t you suffered enough?” At breakfast she had confessed to being disgusted with her husband, the government and even God.
“It’s for the best,” Sam said, studying his bowl of oats. “Trust me.”
“Not this time,” Wendy said. “The idiots running the CIA are taking advantage of your compromised condition. You beat the stupid disease before and you can do it again and besides, the mission is insane. If you don’t come back how am I supposed to afford to keep this house and raise Austin and Rayen? Have you thought of that?”
“Hon, my condition is different this time,” Sam said. “For one thing, my brother is dead and you know that’s part of the reason I have to go. As to the finances, just trust me and know you will be okay.”
Sam had confirmed that half of the money in his contract had been deposited in their savings account. Wendy wouldn’t know this until the monthly statement came from the bank.
“All I know is your papa, if he were alive, might be gung-ho over this mission but your momma has more sense,” Wendy said. Sam had been up to his momma, Winona’s room after breakfast to say goodbye. She hugged him hard and told Sam she preferred to cry alone in her room on his parting day.
“Sammy, shake your head and get it right,” Winona had said. “You need to lead this tribe, not run off to solve somebody else’s problems.”
To Sam, his papa’s final actions rang truer. As a black man trying to survive in a white world, his father, Sawyer, provided a better place for his family for years by staying under the radar. But in the end, when the world turned on him, Sawyer stood up and took his own kind of revenge. Growing up, Sam had also worked at getting along and staying out of trouble at all costs. His attitude had changed on his way to becoming a man.
The timing for Sam’s exit from the family was due to a dramatic change in his chances for a long life, a reoccurrence of the cancer he had been fighting for six years. In his fading days, Sam’s goal at home had been to leave in one piece, not as a shadow of a man convulsing and gasping for each labored breath. Not as a husband and father who didn’t remember any of their names. Not as an invalid who couldn’t even wipe his own ass.
Flying out of Detroit Metro, headed for the Middle East, Sam’s mission was to stop a unique terrorist plan to shut down the American economy and lifestyle in a way designed to start the most widespread religious war since the crusades. Sam’s mission was complex and frankly held only a middle-hope of being successful. But, even compromised from drugs, Sam’s skill set and personal situation made him the best man for the job. He’d done the impossible before, only this time he would have an unwelcome assistant holding a stop watch.
The CIA had been tipped off weeks earlier to the planned terrorist attacks in the U.S. A customs agent working at Boston Logan accidentally discovered partially assembled bomb components hidden inside a shipment of band instruments on an incoming flight from Cologne. The bombs had not been stopped by the country’s latest, 1988, bomb detection equipment or the canine agents protecting our borders. Extensive interrogation of the shipment receiving suspect had obtained information that the deadly devices were being assembled by a terrorist cell of suicide bombers who were either in the U.S. or on their way to deploy the bombs in U.S. commuter trains. Sam’s mission was to make his way into the terrorist cell, find the bomb lab and the deployment plan so the attacks could be stopped.
The cab had been scheduled early that morning so Sam could have a last look at the home town that had been so important in his family’s life. They drove up Outer Drive past Dearborn High, the cemetery and the country club where it all started. With Sam’s coaching, the taxi driver worked his way to the freeway and turned south toward the Ford Rouge plants where Sam had worked a summer installing Mustang door handles. A billowing red cloud of brick like dust and industrial perfume was rising into the morning sky out of the Ford manufacturing complex. In the distance above the trees to the west was the towering sight of Oakwood Hospital where Sam had spent too much of his remaining time this past year. He closed his eyes and exhaled, checking for the two pill boxes in his navy blue blazer pocket.
Samuel Nahuel Cotton, 37, touched the silver talisman hanging under his open-collared white shirt. The silver eagle had been a gift a long time ago from his momma, Winona. She was a tall, sturdy woman whose family had been part of the remnants of the Seminole tribes from the green mountains of Georgia. Sam a, buff 6’2” lawyer with straight shoulders from his military days gave the illusion of health. His black piercing eyes and thin slightly hooked nose had caused his momma to give him his middle name, which in her tribe meant Eagle. If he’d been wearing a tie, lawyer Sam could be flying to meet with a client. The only difference in this scenario was that Sam was intent on killing the client during the meeting.