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"So let's get to it" Agent Benson said, taking a seat at the conference
table. "We know that suspected terrorist Ali Baba is on the run. It's up
to us at the Department of Homeland Security to find him before anything
terrible happens."

"You don't have to state the obvious" said Agent Emerson. "I've been
your partner for two years now, remember?"

"Sorry, Emerson. I just tend to do things like that when I get tense."

"You talked with the Agent in Charge in New York. So how the hell did
Ali Baba escape our surveillance?"

"Evidently he took the 'A' train out of Harlem. That's where they lost
him. But he had a suitcase with him when he left his apartment building.
And according to the AIC he looked like a man who was going somewhere
important."

"So" said Emerson. "I guess the question would be, which way has he
gone, and by what means."

"He could be leaving on a jet plane" Benson said. "In which case we can't
know if he'll be back again. But I think that's too risky anymore. He knows
how we cover the airports."

Emerson shrugged. "Maybe. He could have taken a bus. It's well known
that Blue Bus lines isn't exactly the best at checking IDs."

"I doubt that he would have taken a bus, though. A person is too
transparent on a bus. I think a train is more likely."

"He could have gone South. Headed Southwest, maybe on the City of New
Orleans
."

"Or due West on the Wabash Cannonball."

"Or maybe the Orange Blossom Special."

Benson put his feet up on the conference table. "You know, maybe we
should cover all the possibilities here. I read in the file that Ali Baba's
mother lives in Detroit. Maybe he headed up that direction. A boat. He
could have gotten a berth on a freighter. Like the Edmund Fitzgerald."

"Didn't that sink?"

"Oh, right. Well in any case something like that. A freighter."

"There are all sorts of shady characters taking freighers" Emerson
said, stirring his coffee.

"But let's get back to the train idea." Benson said. "When he first
came to the States he lived in Rockville. He could have taken a train
back to Rockville to spend another year. Lay low, throw us off the track."

"So he would have jumped aboard the Atchinson, Topeka & the Santa Fe
then?"

"Let me check the computer. One advantage we do have here at DHS is
access to all the commuter train and plane and bus schedules."

Benson typed into the computer a bit using his two index fingers. "Hmmm.
Well if he left New York at approximately the time we think he did,
there really aren't that many outgoing trains. And nothing stands out."

The two cops sat for a while, deep in thought. Emerson stirred his
coffee again. Benson looked like he had a bad case of gas.

"Maybe the Chatanooga Choo-choo? That does go through Petticoat
Junction. We've had intel that quotes a rumor that there may be a
sleeper terrorist cell there at Petticoat Junction."

"You know, Emerson, my instinct still tells me he went West. Just my gut
telling me, you know? He left at night. Maybe he took the last train to
Clarksville?"

"I trust your gut, Benson. Lord knows it's been right on numerous
occasions. Like last year when your gut told you that we should buy a
bottle of Glenfiddich Scotch for the Director for Christmas."

"Well, my gut wasn't so good about his daughter" Benson said sadly.

"True."

"Okay. Let's get the jet warmed up. We should be waiting at the station
in Clarksville by the time the train gets in. And if he isn't on that
one we'll get breakfast at Hopper's Diner. I've eaten there before. Not
too bad of a place for a greasy spoon."

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