Operation Sundowner

A Jonathon Stone Mystery Short Story

A bomb explodes at a country club in Southern California and Jonathon Stone is right in the middle of things. Jonathon and fellow CIA agent Chuck Chun are assigned to protect Russ Evans, their boss from San Francisco, at a retirement party and things go terribly wrong. Several guests are killed and Russ is hurt. As the two CIA agents try to find the perpetrators, they end up with an op filled with out of the way places and superstition.

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It was a pleasant winter evening in Southern California. We’ve had a marine layer covering the area for the last couple of days. I found myself standing outside of the new Pacific Coast Country Club in Pacific Palisades with fellow Agent, Chuck Chun from San Francisco. Our boss, Russ Evans, was here to attend a retirement dinner for the Assistant Director of the FBI. Chuck and I stood there watching the dignitaries arriving in their limos and as usual the press was there capturing everything on camera.

“Jon, how did we get stuck with this security detail? Look at all the Agents in the area. There are more Feds carrying weapons than our soldiers do,” Chuck said.

I laughed. Russ was already inside. Chuck did have a point. It seemed like every other person had an earpiece.

“We should stick around here and play some golf tomorrow,” I suggested.

“I would rather go to that Casino you go to all the time,” Chuck returned.

“You mean the Ocean Queen?”

“Down in Long Beach, right.”

“Correct. Really that’s not a bad idea, Chuck.”

“Jon, have you seen that FBI chick you have been fooling around with.”

“You mean Jodi Shannon. Now that you mention that, I haven’t. She must be inside. It is her guy and her turf.”

“That’s right. She is the head of the LA FBI office.”

“Yes. She got promoted about six months ago.”

I walked away from Chuck toward the main entrance. This was really an upscale place. The driveway was a circular affair with bright colored flowers and shrubs in the middle.

There was a commotion across the street. I tapped my earphone. “What’s up across the street? It sounds like the natives are a little restless.”

I waited a second.

“Jon, it is a pro-gun group having a loud discussion with some FBI agents.”

“I don’t understand. This isn’t a political affair,” I said.

“It is all about the agents carrying guns and the protesters having restrictions.”

“Do I need to keep an eye on that?”

“Actually there are some FBI agents on the way to reinforce that side of the street. This place is turning into a nightmare to secure. I guess one of the top FBI guys is a member here so he got a deal.”

I turned and looked at Chuck across the entrance way. He was standing steadfast, not missing a thing. I waited for a departing limo to pass by and started walking along a path through the garden area.

The ground started to rumble and then a large explosion blew the windows out of the left side of the building. I dove behind a tree and at the same time drew my weapon. Ahead I could see people running out the main door and smoke billowing from the windows on the west side of the main structure. I heard a muffled sound beside me. Chuck dove to my side on the ground. I could hear a man from the security command center shouting in my earpiece.

“Secure the perimeter. Secure the perimeter.”

“I’ll go get Russ. Chuck, try to keep these people from leaving. Block off the entrance. No cars in or out,” I instructed.

“Got it.”

I started running toward the entrance of the Country Club with my badge held high in one hand and my Beretta in the other. It seemed like all the agents reacted the same. They were already corralling the people as they left the structure. The explosion had been on the left side of the building and as I remembered from my walk-through, the ballroom where I saw Russ last was on the right. I could hear sirens in the distance as I entered the main foyer. People were running in all directions. The wall on the left side of the room had been completely destroyed. There was rubble all over the marble floor. I turned to my right and headed toward the ballroom.

As I entered, I could see several people still hiding under tables but the inside of the room seemed intact. I scanned the area. I could see Russ standing in the front, talking on his cellphone. In fact, that was what most of the people were doing.

As I approached him, I could feel broken glass on the floor, probably from the concussion of the blast.

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