Takedown

Free Takedown by W. G. Griffiths

Book: Takedown by W. G. Griffiths Read Free Book Online
Authors: W. G. Griffiths
from the start of the bridge. He checked
     his watch. Still enough time, though not as much as he thought he’d have.
    He put on a pair of dark sunglasses and unzipped the duffel bag, his sore hands shaking and searching until he felt the cutting
     torch. A moment later the torch, attached to a small duel-rubber line fastened to two small canisters of acetylene gas and
     oxygen, was lit, propped on its side, the super-hot blue flame focused on the steel rail.
Perfect,
he thought as the steel began to glow. Back in the duffel bag he found a heavy-duty hand file and a pair of large C-clamps
     attached to each other by a nine-foot-long, half-inch-thick steel cable. The cable ends had been welded to each clamp to ensure
     conductivity. He quickly filed the side of the steel rail until the dirt was gone and raw metal was exposed.
    The high-pitched shivering squeal of the filing caused him to pause for a second to survey the area. The pond was still as
     glass; the bird sanctuary had the addition of a skinny white crane standing like a statue by the shore. Excellent. A sentry.
     A guardian angel. As long as that bird was content to be there, he could rest assured the sanctuary was void of onlookers.
    He attached one clamp, cranking as tightly as he could to the raw metal, angling the top of the clamp for lower visibility,
     touching the top of the rail. He repeated the same procedure six feet away with the file and another clamp, taking care to
     loop the steel cable far enough away from the cutting flame of the torch. With hisfirst task completed, he could now safely cut the rail without sending a warning signal to the train.
    Hess took a quick glance at the contented crane standing guard, then pulled the first hydraulic jack from the sack. The jack
     was rated for sixteen tons and had a three-inch-diameter heavy-gauge steel pipe welded to its bottom. The overall length was
     exactly fifty-seven and a half inches. He placed it between the two rails, three feet before the molten hole the torch was
     burning. The jack fell perpendicularly into place between the parallel rails with an eighth of an inch to spare. Another quick
     search in the bag found the lever. He quickly inserted it into the jack and pumped until the lever became difficult to push.
     He didn’t want to force it, blow a seal. The rail had not moved at all, as expected.
    Hess carefully repositioned the torch at arm’s length, cautious not to look directly into the bright flame and the popping
     embers. Satisfied, he retrieved the second jack, an exact duplicate of the first, placed it just closer to the torch. He took
     a quick look around to see if the smoke had caught anybody’s attention and felt a sudden dizziness. He needed to slow his
     breathing. He had never been so nervous. According to his plan, at this point he was supposed to relax by singing “I’ve been
     working on the railroad,” but he couldn’t, his mouth too dry to even whistle and his mind racing too fast to hum. Again, he
     pumped the jack lever until it became difficult, then reinserted the lever into the first jack again and managed another three
     pumps. With the extra pressure the rail had begun to move fractionally, but more important was the tension at the seam he
     was creating.
    Again he repositioned the torch, taking a little time first to cut away a glowing corner. The gauges on the small tanks told
     him there was plenty of acetylene, but he cursed when he saw that the oxygen was running low. He looked at the rail again
     and then back at the gauges. Thinking, thinking. To focus on the cutting wouldeconomize the oxygen, but the pressure of the jacks… When he reached over for the third jack, he noticed something in his
     peripheral vision that hitched his chin—a man in a rowboat on Nassau Pond, his face turned in his direction, but too far to
     tell if he was actually looking at him.
Probably came out to fish. The smoke from the torch. Jerk!
The fishing was lousy in Nassau

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