Chapter 9 Tuesday, 1200 hours (Noon)
Late Tuesday morning, the police finally called the zoo. A communications Calfer put them on hold and rang up Brian who was getting ready for his noon broadcast. Brian who until then hadnt the slightest idea how he was going to handle the program, decided to handle it as a call-in show, live. The techie routed the call to Brians desk, and kept the police on hold until the Broadcast was underway. Brian liked the idea of this format, dropped by fate into his lap. He didnt need a script, and the phone was another prop to play with.
The police negotiator was very mellow from long practice, and he was good at listening. Brian gave a heartfelt justification for their take over, and thought he detected sympathy on the other end of the line. They just talked, trying to establish rapport. After a while, the negotiator got to one of his concerns.
"Brian, Im worried about the hostages."
"Theyre fine. Theyre our guests."
"Good, good. Do you think I could talk to one of them. My boss here thinks they might not be well treated. It would make him happy if he knew Id talked to one of them. Could you help me out?"
Brian thought the negotiator a nice guy. "Sure," said Brian. "In fact during tonights broadcast, you can talk to them live."
"Good. Thanks," said the negotiator, "I appreciate it. By the way, my name is George."
They chatted a little longer, thanked each other, and hung up. Brian, comfortable with how things went, decided to end the broadcast at that point. He gave the fade to black sign and stayed at the desk thinking, while the techies wound down the transmitter. Brian had promised the negotiator rather more than he had planned to. A live broadcast with the hostages would be tricky since he didnt want the camera to give away their location in the zoo.
In dealing with the problem, he thought not as a terrorist, but as a video director. "Well have to keep the room lights down, or even off. Key lights on the cameras, and wide lenses. Head shots only of course." He felt uneasy and inexperienced as the head of Operation Zoo, but he had studied film direction for years. "Yes, good production values. Well have to have a few kids on for contrast." Then he remembered that they were going to release the kids. Theyd be freed right after lunch. "That should make George happy, even though its going to mess up the shoot."
Satisfied, Brian patted the desk and stood up. Hed best arrange the release of the cub scouts now. He went to his office in Zoo Central to raise Jack on his Walkie-talkie. He asked Jack to arrange to get the kids out of the zoo without being eaten. Jack said hed take care of it.
Jeffrey, still clad only in underwear, was sprawled across his bunk watching TV when he heard the key in the lock. Instinctively, he slipped the TV back into his jacket pocket, and stood up with eyes fixed on the door. Jack and Joshua came in. Joshua took in the scene of Jeffrey naked, save for his briefs, standing in a clutter of discarded blue scout uniforms, and found it diverting. Not so Jack. He was furious. It was his task to conduct the kids safely out, and now, except for one, there were no kids to so conduct.
"I want to go back to my father," said Jeffrey petulantly.
Joshua shrugged. "Its OK with me," he said. In his scheme of things, the kids had no importance. He didnt care what happened to them.
It was not OK with Jack. "Where are they?" he said roughly.
"Leave me alone," Jeffrey answered.
"Where the hell are they?" Jack shouted.
Jeffrey, not used to being yelled at, shouted back, "Go pick on someone your own size."
"I said, Where are they," said Jack punctuating his statement by slamming the door shut in a fit of temper.
Jeffreys eyes widened in fear. He didnt answer, but backed off into a corner as far as possible from this man who seemed to be out of control.
Jack seething, leaned his rifle against the wall. He took off his belt and folded it double. "Bend him over the bunk," he said to Joshua.
Joshua nodded and, showing no emotion whatsoever, gathered up Jeffrey. He used one hand to pin Jeffrey's arms over his head while with his other hand, he pushed down between the boy's shoulder blades, positioning him efficiently over a bed so that his face was pressed against the mattress. Joshua nodded OK and watched as Jack brought the strap down on Jeffreys white briefs. Jeffrey trembled and then screamed. Five more times did Joshua watch the strap descend, like a plane falling out of the sky. He heard the splash of contact, the scream and he could feel the boys shudder.
Joshua said nothing, but his face showed a trace of a smile.
All through the beating Jack, who was in a fit of temper, shouted abuse at the kid.
"Stop. Please stop," screamed Jeffrey, "Ill tell you where they went."
Jack put down his belt and nodded to Joshua who, reluctantly it seemed, let the boy up.
"OK, Where?" said Jack, calming down.
"Theyre hiding out at the zoo cafeteria," said Jeffrey through his tears.
"All right then," said Jack threading his belt back through the loops. He looked down at the kid and found himself softening."Get your clothes on, kid." he said, not unkindly.
Jack opened the door and went through, aware of the accusatory eyes of the hostages and even the other Calfers, many of whom were not all that much older than Jeffrey. Joshua followed Jack out, smiling and oblivious to the hostile eyes.
Back behind the closed door, Jeffrey threw himself, face down on his bunk. He was crying now mostly from fear. He was really afraid of what Jack would do to him when he discovered hed lied. He thought briefly of joining the cubs out with the wolves, but he was afraid.
When the first of Jeffreys shrieks of pain sounded through the hostages room, Derek leapt up and lunged for the door. He was stopped by a Calfer guard who grabbed him around the neck. The other guard pointed an AK-47 at his stomach. Derek didnt struggle. There was nothing he could do but listen to the cries of his son in the next room.
Derek was in agony, more agony in fact than was his son. While there were loud slaps of the belt and matching screams from Jeffrey, the boy was crying out more from the indignity than from the pain. He was an only child of calm parents who didnt believe in corporal punishment. He had never been hit, neither by his parents nor even by other kids. The boys first beating could have been brutal save that Jack was in too furious a state to wield the belt with precision. Furthermore, a small voice within Jack, so small in fact that he scarcely heard it, kept him from delivering the blows with full force. There were some limits to behavior, even for Jack. Painful as the beating certainly was, far less damage was inflicted than could have been.
Derek of course, did not know any of this, nor would he have cared. While the beating was in progress, he suffered with his son and held to the thought, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." He hoped Jeffrey would be made stronger. Derek himself prayed for strength - strength to kill the brutal, sadistic child-beater. First though, he had to rescue his son and escape.