Chapter 6 Monday, 1600 hours (4 PM)
The Bronx Zoo is huge and because of that it was easier to capture than if it were a smaller facility. Joshua wondered how long it would take the authorities to realize the zoo had actually been taken over. Up until now, it was more like a rental than a conquest. Joshua had posted a large bond and had contributed a substantial amount of money for the privilege of shooting his documentary. Part of the film would show the zoo at dawn. To that end, he had arranged that the film crew be allowed to sleep over. Some would bunk down in the large film trucks while others would use the dormitory in the education building.
Joshua had essentially rented an office in the Education Building to use during the shoot. It was from there that he oversaw Operation Zoo. The park was remarkably easy to take over. During the day, Calfers were everywhere in their guises as enthusiastic video documentarians. At 16 hundred hours, still maintaining their guises, they began to take control of the zoo. They did it politely and by asking. Joshua and Brian walked into the communications office. They said the shoot would be running late, and they would be under the direction of zoo security people until they left in about an hour. The communications staff didnt have to wait. No questions were asked since Joshua had earlier phoned the communications chief and prepared the way. From the roster folders, Joshua knew the names of the communications personnel and more importantly, their direct supervisors. The chief was informed in the name of his bosss boss that the filming might run late and the documentarians should be accommodated.
From the communications office, the Calfers contacted zoo security and convinced them that the film crew could operate under its own security. The zoo guards could go home. Zoo maintenance would manage the crew departure. Of course, zoo maintenance were advised that they could leave also. Joshua had performed well his task of phoning zoo people up by name and telling what their superiors expected of them. He had even been successful in phoning each of the swing shift maintenance and security personnel by name. He told some that they should come in two hours late because of a massive water leak. There would be no loss of pay. He told others that they could take the whole day off with pay. All in all, it was a soft, velvet take over where, for a while, only the Calfers and their hostages even knew that an invasion had even occurred.
Joshua breathed a small sigh of relief. The hostages had been conducted to a dormitory in the Education Building, and locked in. The dormitory had a bathroom, so that was OK. It was all OK. In his enjoyment of the situation, Joshua had gone off his own plan, and that could have been a disaster. He had told the visitors they were captives even before the zoo was under Calfer control. Had they screamed or made a commotion.... Joshua didn't want to think about. It was good the others hadn't noticed his slip-up. It would have been embarrassing.
By 1700 hours (5 PM), CALF had complete control of the zoo, the animals, the vehicles, the hostages, first aid stations, zoo administration buildings, everything. The snipers were at their posts; some patrolling the zoo perimeter by foot while others were riding about in the little enclosed electric zoo maintenance carts. There was a sniper with infra-red night goggles and a rifle at the ready taking continuous back and forth rides in the SkySafari. Other snipers were wandering the zoo paths, stopping at direction signs to rotate them to point in random directions. Joshua was amused by that and thought it silly, but Brian had seen a British World War II movie where they had done that. Silly though it was, Joshua thought it good to let Brian have his way in matters of little import.
The techies had set up an antenna on the top of Zoo Center and the rogue transmitter was sending test patterns on UHF channel 58, and the remote activated bugs had been tested. Joshua had lovingly unpacked his high-tech weaponry, and all was well. To top it off, they had loads of food in the rented film trucks, not to mention what was in the freezers of the various zoo cafeterias. All was going very well indeed.
Joshua and a few armed Calfers were in the dormitory explaining the situation to the hostages. They would be well treated, and well fed, Joshua explained, but any attempts to escape or interfere with CALF would be dealt with harshly. He kept his pleasant smile throughout. Then, Brian and Jack arrived to give some additional advice to the hostages.
Joshua stood aside while Jack told them that to discourage their escaping, they had decided to release the tigers and other large felines from their cages.
Joshua listened with a fixed smile on his face, but he was annoyed. Releasing the cats was a nice touch, but it was not his touch. He had gotten control of the zoo, but he knew now that he'd have to get control of CALF.
"The cats will be released in an hour," said Jack.
"Neat!" came a high pitched voice.
Joshua watched as Brian turned to Jack.
"Look," said Brian. "I didnt know there were any kids here. Kids are OK. Theyre innocents, like the animals."
Brian looked out at the little knot of blue uniformed Cub Scouts.
"Guys. Were not going to hurt you. Youre scouts arent you?" It was rhetorical. "Itll be like a camp out. Youll have your own room, with bunks. Well send in food. Youll be under our direct protection."
The scouts stared back at the speaker. Despite the reassurances, they looked scared. Brian tried to put them at ease.
"Look guys. Were for the animals. You like animals, dont you?"
"Leave us alone. We dont want our own room. We want to stay here."
"The dorm room will be better for you," said Brian. He turned to Jack.
"Jack, take them in to the dorm now please, while I talk some to the adults."
Jack tore away the kids, rushed them into the dorm room, and locked the door behind them.
Brian tried to explain the CALF philosophy to the hostages, and went on to say they were guests, even honored guests, in the fight for animal rights. They would be treated well, but theyd just have to make the best of it for a while.
Joshua watching all this, was not so much annoyed as embarrassed. Brian would have to be taught not to make an idiot of himself.
Joshua, with the confidence borne of Calfers with AK-47s on alert, wandered among the hostages, a captor among the captives. As per plan, he was looking for someone to send out to the authorities with the list of demands. Finally he stopped in front of a uniformed individual, about the same age as the Calfers.
"Whats your name soldier?" asked Joshua.
"Rom Haldane sir, but..."
"I dont recognize the uniform. What branch?"
"Great tradition," said Joshua interrupting, "Dropped behind enemy lines. Covert activity; The Scouts, like the Green Berets, are .."
"No sir, Cub Scouts. It's a new uniform. I havent had time to sew on the insignia, except for the flag of course." Rom, interrupted.
"What? " said Joshua feeling foolish, "Doesnt matter. Come with me," he went on. He checked his watch to see how much time he had before the cats were released, thereby avoiding looking at any Calfer who might be laughing at his error.
Joshua led Rom out the rear of the Education building and over to a maintenance area. Joshua unlocked the back of his rented walk-in van and switched on the cargo compartment light.
"Wow," said Rom.
The whole truck was virtually filled with armaments.
"This is only a small part of our arsenal," Joshua said, even though it was untrue, "but take special note of this." Joshua extracted a hand held ground-to-air missile launcher. "Helicopters havent a chance against this baby. Remember that." he said, fondling the mechanism.
"Boy, It looks really complicated," said Rom. "How do you know itll work?"
"And why are you showing me all this?" Rom asked.
"So you can tell the authorities. We want them to know we can defend ourselves." Joshua took an envelope from his inside jacket pocket, and gave it to Rom. "This contains our demands, and information on how to communicate with us." Then he stood aside and said, "Youre free to go. You can get out at the exit-only door at the Asia Gateway to Bronx Park South. Im sure the police will be there for you."
Rom hesitated. "If you dont mind sir, Id like to stay with my cub pack. Im responsible for them."
Joshua exploded. "But I do mind. Get the hell out of here. Now! Unless you want to get mauled by one of the big cats. Now move!"
Joshua watched him go, and then returned to the others. His next few hours were spent on minutia; arranging living accommodations for the Calfers, seeing that everyone was happy and fed, and watching as his Calfers bedded down for the night.
Joshua though, was not tired. It was his curse that he needed very little sleep. He wandered around Zoo Cener. Except for the few on night duty, almost everyone else was asleep, and the building was silent and dark. Joshua took the stairs to the top floor and began to explore the offices. After sizing up, and rejecting a few, Joshua selected an isolated, semi-private office as his own; a secret place where he could be alone when he needed to. He closed the door behind him and switched on the lights. There were three desks in the office, clearly for a supervisor and two subordinates.
This office would do very well. It would be his war room. Joshua sat at the bosss desk and looked over its surface. It was amazing how much of a persons life is reflected in his desk. He picked up a framed photograph, husband, wife, two kids, and a dog. The photograph looked as it had been taken during a camping trip. There was a happy informality that exuded life; life frozen in time. Joshua gazed at the smiling husband and father with the same intensity as he did with his fathers painting. "That would be a good life to take over." He gazed at the picture a little longer, then sat back, and started at the squeak from the swivel chair, a loud noise in the silent office. He pulled open the top desk drawer and rummaged through the collection of office paraphernalia; pens, pencils, tape, paper clips, until he found a scissors. He took the snapshot out of its frame and carefully cut out the mans picture. Joshua looked at the little cutout for a brief moment, then crumpled it up and dropped it in the wastebasket. He put the now narrower photograph back in its frame and set it on the cluttered desk.
Joshua hated clutter. He grabbed a wastebasket and save for the photograph, swept everything else on the desk top into it. Then leaving a few pens and other assorted functional items, he emptied all the drawers of the desk. Then he emptied the file cabinets and stripped their sides of the crayon drawings captioned with things like for daddy. When the wastebasket was full, Joshua carried it over to the next office and unceremoniously emptied it onto the floor, then returned to clear out more of the personal items from his new office. He finished de-personalizing his own desk and went on to clear out the contents of the other two.
Joshua looked around his new office. It was a classic bureaucratic facility; oak desks, filing cabinets, a coat rack and even an umbrella stand, which even held an umbrella. Joshua picked up the umbrella and absentmindedly stroked it. He replaced the black umbrella in the stand with the thought that in the morning, hed put an assault rifle in with it. Joshua wandered his office until he found a supply closet. Opening it, he found a few packs of white 3 by 5 file cards. He brought them over to his desk. He sat down, took a copy of the CALF organizational sheet from his pocket, smoothed it out on the desk, and spent the next hour transferring names from the sheet to the file cards, one name per card. It was eerily still, like his house back in Westchester.
Joshua finished copying out the names, collected the cards in a pile and then almost as if he were playing a game of solitaire, arranged the cards in spread columns. One column contained only the cards for Brian, Jack, and himself. There were two other piles. With much deliberation, he selected into which pile to put each persons card. The smaller pile contained Rogers card as well as those of most of the other Columbia University CALF members.
After a while, apparently satisfied with a particular card arrangement, Joshua swept the cards back into one deck and put the deck in the top right hand drawer. Next he pulled a leather bound day organizer out of his jacket pocket. He smiled thinking how CALF would be offended at the calf leather binding. This day organizer served him also as a diary. In it he wrote with a small chiseled cursive, carefully and deliberately, not only as a reminder to himself, but more importantly so as to impart his thoughts to those who would come after. The work of this first day of Operation Zoo had left him no time to commune with his diary, so he spent the next half-hour moving events to paper. Eventually he slipped the organizer back in his pocket, stood up slowly so that the swivel chair not break the silence, and left his war room. Outside, he turned back to look at the office door. Seized with a sudden idea, he went off to move his bedding and clothing from the CALF communal dorm up to his office. As much as he liked being with the young Calfers, at night he preferred to be alone. He needed solitude to work on a plan that was coming together in his mind. Operation Zoo was just the beginning. He smiled as he ran through the nascent plan in his head. Operation Zoo was mere preamble, an insignificant preamble.