Chapter 7: Nick Bracco
They cleared an entire city block while the bomb squad sent a robot onto the bus. Nick spent most of his time interviewing the one kid who remained until the final stop, while Matt interviewed the bus driver. The kid was suspicious of everything Nick asked and wanted to lawyer up until Nick convinced the youngster he didn’t care if he was carrying drugs or weapons. Nick would not ask to search his backpack under any circumstance.
“I wasn’t doing nothing wrong,” the boy said with conviction.
“We know,” Nick said, kneeling down next to the boy while he sat under the shade of a tree. “There was a very bad man on that bus and that’s who we’re chasing. It’s very important that you tell me everything you can about him.”
“The dark-haired guy who got on the bus at 4th street. He was carrying a briefcase.”
The was recognition on the kid’s face. “You mean the guy who got on the bus and the left?”
“Is that what he did. Did he come onto the bus and leave before the bus took off?”
“Yeah, he acted like he’d forgotten something and got off right away.”
“Did you happen to notice him carrying a briefcase?”
The boy seemed relaxed now that he was convinced the conversation wasn’t about him. “Man, I do remember the dude walking past me with a briefcase, but now that you mention it, I don’t remember him leaving with it. Is that important?”
The kid looked over Nick’s shoulder at the bomb squad technicians wearing their protective gear. Oversized Kevlar with titanium shields. He said, “Is that what they’re looking at right now? Did he leave a bomb on the bus?”
“That’s a possibility, yes.”
“Aw, dude, I had no idea. I would’ve kept closer attention.”
A beefy bomb technician wearing a bulky blast suit stiff-legged his way over to Nick. When he was a few feet away, he removed his full-face helmet and said, “The bus is clear, Agent Bracco. There’s no bomb inside the briefcase.”
“Whoa,” said the kid. “That’s good.”
“So what’s inside the briefcase?” Nick asked.
The bomb tech handed Nick a slip of paper.
Nick opened the paper and read the note:
I know where Stone’s missing girls are.