November 27, 1984
The telephone's shrill ring awakened John MacAlfie from a sound sleep.
Quickly, he snatched it to his ear, "Hello...Hello!" No one answered.
Fumbling in the dark, he returned the phone to the cradle, rolled over,
and sighed in disbelief. By now, both he and his girlfriend Gwen were
"Who was that?" Gwen asked in a voice still thick with sleep.
"Probably just a wrong number -- they hung up." John replied as he held
her next to him while listening to the rain peck against the bedroom
window. Gwen snuggled against him, dreading the thought of going
outside. "Why don't we stay in bed all day?" she asked. "If this rain
turns to ice, traffic's gonna be a nightmare."
"There's nothing I'd like better, but you can't miss any more work
without getting fired. And, that's not something we can afford right
now." He sighed again and pulled her closer. "Besides, I've got
important business in court today."
"What's going on?" she asked.
He kissed the top of her head. "Top secret. I'll tell you all about it
later." At that he climb out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom turned
on the radio, and stepped into the shower. Realizing that skipping work
wasn't an option, Gwen reluctantly followed John into the bathroom.
Standing in front of the gold trimmed mirror, she splashed cold water on
her face and rubbing briskly with a towel. She'd just stepped back into
the bedroom and peeled off her robe when the phone rang again. She
glanced at the clock on the radio. It was almost 5:30. Still in the
shower, singing along with the radio, John hadn't heard the phone. Gwen
reluctantly picked up on the second ring.
No one answered at first, but the eerie silence kept her hanging on
until she heard a man's hoarse voice echo from what sounded like the
inside of a phone booth with rain pounding against it. He stated,
"There's a cab on the way. You got ten minutes to get out. The choice,
right now, is yours."
He hung up without waiting for a response, and Gwen dropped the receiver
onto the bed. Her heart pounded in her chest as tears welled up in her
eyes. She stood trembling, looking through the bathroom doorway,
watching John through the fog collected on the glass door of the shower.
Soaping his head vigorously, he sang off-key to a Van Halen tune.
She looked back at the clock, and with her voice quivering, she asked
God to help him. Without further hesitation, she threw on the clothes
she'd laid out the night before, grabbed her purse, and paused to steal
one more glance before she whispered, "I love you, John." Seconds
later, she slipped out the door and ran for the elevator.
John turned off the shower and called, "Honey, can you dry my back?"
There was no reply. He wiped a clearing off the shower door so he could
see through. Again, he called out, "Gwen, honey. Where'd you go?" He
finished drying himself off, got dressed, and ambled into the kitchen,
expecting to see Gwen at the table. But, she wasn't there. Instead, he
noticed her purse and keys were gone from the table beside the door, and
the safety latch dangled loose.
"What the hell?" Mumbling to himself, he ran back into the bedroom, put
on his shoes, and grabbed his jacket. He bolted down the hallway to the
elevator and punched the down button. No response came from the cranky
old elevator above the print shop where they lived. After waiting a
long thirty seconds, he ran into the stairwell and flew down two flights
of stairs. He burst out the front door just in time to see Gwen getting
into a cab.
"Honey, wait!" By the time he cleared the front steps and reached the
curb, the cab was pulling away. "Gwen!" He shouted.
She sat motionless in the back seat, looking straight ahead. Then, as
the car moved onward she turned and quickly wiped a clearing on the back
window of the cab. At that moment, John saw nothing but fear in her
eyes that froze him in his tracks. Then his fear escalated when she
screamed, "RUNNNNNN!" as the cab sped out of sight.
Immediately he reached inside his jacket for his gun, but it wasn't
there. The realization of vulnerability set in as John raced back into
the building and attacked the elevator button in an effort to make it
work faster, all the while trying to figure out what had just happened
with Gwen. Her craziness was a total surprise. As the elevator door
opened, he leaped inside and hit the close button. The old steel cage
creaked upward to the second floor. He leaned forward, head bowed,
bracing both hands against the wall.
"How could I have been so stupid?" he asked, pounding his fist against
the door. As a federal undercover officer, he knew better than to go
anywhere without his gun, but in his haste to catch Gwen he'd left the
apartment without it. When the door slid open, John stepped into the
hallway and signed a deep breath of relief as it closed behind him.
Jogging down the dark, narrow hallway toward his apartment, he noticed
the apartment door was standing wide open.
Just then a tall lanky man wearing a long black raincoat stepped from
inside. He was wielding a 9mm pistol with a silencer attached. He
raised the gun, pointing the muzzle at John's face. John stopped in
mid-stride. Fear had taken his breath as he stared down the cold steel
barrell, eye-to-eye with the very drug lord he was scheduled to testify
about before the grand jury that same day.
Evidently the deal he'd made with the Feds to protect Gwen had gotten to
her, he decided. Even so, her behavior didn't make sense. How did she
know about this? John and partner had secretly worked on this case for
quite some time, and their testimonies would convict several men linked
to a major drug ring between the US and Colombia.
John inhaled a deep breath, knowing this was the end. "How'd you know
it was me?"
"Your partner, I bought him off." The kingpin chuckled an ugly sound.
"Then I gave your old lady ten minutes to get out."
In violent anger, John lunged toward the smug bastard, but before he
completed his first step, a bullet ripped through his skull. He stared
into his executioner's face for a single moment, raised one hand as
though to ward off another blow, and fell backwards in the hallway.
The Kingpin stomped toward John as he pumped three more shots directly
into his head. Straddling John's limp, he fired two more shots,
precisely placing a bullet through each eye socket to ensure that his
face was the last thing John would see before approaching God.
Enthralled by the execution, the murderer panted until he reached a
climactic stand and then leaned forward and vomited on his victim.
Wiping his mouth on his sleeve, he slipped into the stairway and
March 1995 - Dallas, Texas 6:30 a.m.
Thinking Jackie was still asleep, George leaned over the bed, breathing
the scent of her perfume. She lay sprawled on her stomach with her
blonde hair spread across the pillow.
He kissed the nape of her neck.
"Don't try and sneak off, I felt that." She rolled over, grabbed his
hand and pulled him onto the bed.
"I didn't want to wake you," he said, smoothing her hair. "But I needed
"And I need to tell you something" Jackie replied as she stuffed the
pillow behind her head and sat up so she could look George in the eye.
"I'm sick of Missouri winters, and my big project is finally over. How
about I just stay in Dallas and find a job here?"
She nodded, watching his face.
"This is great news! I've missed you, and I know the kids have too. We
can tell them over dinner tonight."
"No not yet. Wait till I make a few calls and find some work here.
Let's just keep it to ourselves for now, because I'd hate to disappoint
"That's fine, honey. You just make those calls." George kissed her on
the forehead and she pulled him into her arms.
* * *
Later that morning Jacked called Jim Smith, President of the
Manufactured Housing Association, knowing he'd have the scoop on
everything in the industry. He invited her to stop by the office that
Excerpted from "Hidden Under the Corporate Ladder" by J.K. LaMay. Copyright © 2005 by J.K. LaMay. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.