A Desperate Journey North
A DESPRATE JOURNEY NORTH By James H. Collins The boys were terrified as they gazed at the scene. Two naked bodies on the couch, both shot in the head. Blood was spattered over the wall of the apartment. Twelve-year-old Timmy Johnson bent over and threw up on the carpet. Wiping his mouth, he looked at his brother Cory who was gaping in stunned silence at the corpses. "Let's get the fuck outta here!" Timmy screamed, pulling on his thirteen-year-old brother's shirt. Cory knew they were in danger. The two people on the couch were Joel Conway, the dealer they worked for and thirteen-year-old Sally Marcos who worked with them distributing cocaine for Conway. Cory raced for the Marcos apartment to inform the family Sally was dead. He stood rigid with terror when he entered the apartment and found the entire family wiped out. Bolting from the apartment, the boys headed home. They knew time was short, and they'd have to make a run for it to save their own lives. Grabbing knapsacks, they started stuffing clothes in them. Cory yelled for Timmy to finish packing while he ripped out the floorboard where they stashed their drug money. Filling his pockets, he scurried for the kitchen to snatch some food. His breath caught in his throat seeing his mother on the floor, eyes staring at the ceiling. There was a puddle of blood by her head. Goosebumps formed on Cory's arms. To his horror, he realized the killer made them orphans. Weeks before, the boys observed Conway stashing money. Racing for his hiding place, they grabbed the cash and headed on an odyssey that would take them seven thousand miles. For the next forty-nine days, they'd be on the run from the murderers. It wasn't only the killers looking for the boys. The LAPD and FBI wanted them for questioning. Special Agent in Charge, Paul Marks of the FBI, suspected they could identify the killers. He was sure one of the Killers was Jose Martinez, who ran the west coast operation for the Colombian cartel. Marks knew That if he could tie Martinez to the murders, he'd bring down the entire west coast cocaine ring. It was a race against time. Marks learned the boys had an uncle living in Alaska. He was the only surviving relative. Marks was certain the uncle would protect them from the killers if they could reach him before it was too late. Marks only had one goal in mind. He wanted the cartel brought to justice at any cost. The boys were a means to an end. Discovering the uncle's address, he headed for Sitka, Alaska. He had no doubt the boys were heading in that direction, and he wanted to be there when they arrived. The agent planned to use the boys as bait. When Marks reached Sitka, things started to change. He developed a friendship with the uncle, Dave Johnson. For weeks they waited anxiously for word of the boys. On occasion they'd hear of sightings, but the boys continually escaped from the clutches of the police and the killers. On the forty-ninth day, the boys showed up in Sitka. Marks set a plan in motion to capture the killers who had to silence the boys. He found himself suddenly involved in raising the boys in the midst of the sting operation. He developed an attachment for the family that could place all of them in jeopardy. No longer was he the ice-man' his colleagues at the bureau called him behind his back. Paul Marks had undergone a dramatic and profound change. The killers arrive in Sitka. Marks, emotionally distraught, leaves the boys unguarded. It almost cost them their lives as the killers move in. In a suspenseful climax, Marks saves the boiyts and brings down the west coast operation of the cartel. Marks learns there's more to life than his job. His life changes as he becomes embroiled with the Johnson family.
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