Don Pendleton

Blood Dues

If you want to serve God, you have to take on His attributes. That includes the heavy responsibility of exercising vengeance.

Norman Mailer

Some call the Mafia a second government. Right. Well, if that's the case, there's going to be a second Civil War — The Executioner vs the Mob.

Mack Bolan


The warrior was at home in darkness, comfortable in a world of gliding shadows. Motionless, he listened to the night noises all around him, picking out the sounds of insects, night birds, an alligator rumbling for its mate across the marshy hummocks. The soldier melded with the environment of the steaming Everglades, a predator like those around him, seeking prey in the gloom.

But he would not find it there.

The jungle compound was long abandoned. Weeds and clinging vines had overgrown the clapboard barracks structures, creepers tangling in the uprights of the one remaining lookout tower. Barbed-wire fencing, collapsed and rotted through in spots to grant him easy access, had become a rusty trellis for the climbing undergrowth.

The compound was deserted, yes, but it was still alive. The weathered buildings were infested now by furtive, creeping things, and swamp birds roosted in the sole surviving tower. Man had given way to the relentless march of Mother Nature there, but he had also left his brand upon the Everglades.

And there were ghosts.

The warrior felt them as he passed inside the fence, encroaching on their territory. If he closed his eyes, it almost seemed that he might see them, moving in and out around the barracks, standing their eternal watch along the overgrown perimeter.

He heard their voices whispering to him on the night wind, here disguised as rustling leaves, there the gentle creaking of intertwined trunks of swamp trees. They spoke to him in urgent terms; of honor, duty, vengeance, calling him by name.

The warrior answered them, and stilled their soft demanding voices with a promise.

Soon, soldados.

He was home again, among the ghosts, and there were dues to pay.

In blood.


The meet was on. John Hannon had been working toward it now for six long weeks, and he could not deny the tingle of excitement at knowing it was really set. With any luck, he would have enough to put the whole thing under wraps tonight. Enough, perhaps, to get the D. A. off his ass and into action.

Waiting for the elevator, Hannon impatiently checked his digital Timex again. Five minutes later than the last time and two hours left to kill. The drive would use up half of that, and he could find a restaurant along the way to kill the other hour.

It occurred to Hannon that he had not eaten well in several days, but he would make up for it soon. The old excitement of the hunt was bringing back his appetite.

It was like old times — well, almost — fitting all the scrambled pieces into place and making sense of jumbled, fragmentary leads. So different from the routine background checks and tawdry marital investigations that had largely occupied his days since he retired from Homicide.

This time, it seemed to count for something.

He had never met the Cuban, never even heard his voice before the call came in that afternoon, but he had instantly agreed to a meeting. The risk was there, of course — there was enough of the policeman left in Hannon to prepare him for the worst — but he was too damned close to pass.

At last the elevator came, and Hannon rode the five floors down alone. Inside the office building's basement parking lot, the atmosphere was stale; it smelled of gasoline and motor oil. Alighting from the elevator. Hannon glanced both ways, saw nothing out of place, and moved out briskly toward his Buick three aisles over.

He had reached the car, his key in the lock, before he felt the enemy behind him. There was something, like the prickling of gooseflesh on his back, that signaled danger close at hand. He suddenly felt cornered in the parking stall. He was half prepared to turn when polished steel was pressed against the back of his skull.

John Hannon recognized the feel of gunmetal and he froze. The subterranean garage no longer smelled like stale exhaust; instead, he thought it smelled of death.

'You know the drill,' a husky voice informed him.

Hannon knew the drill, all right. He had been on the other end of it perhaps a thousand times. Both hands upon the Buick's roof, his feet well back and shoulder width apart. A pair of hands explored him expertly, relieving him of the two-inch .38 he carried on his hip, and still the pistol pressed against his skull.

So there were two of them.

'He's clean,' a second voice announced.

A strong hand on his shoulder spun him around, then shoved him back against the Buick. There were two of them, like lethal bookends in their carbon-copy suits and modish haircuts. Hannon recognized the older of the two — his name was Joey something — but his effort to recall the rest of it was hampered by their weapons.

Joey Something held a Smith and Wesson .357 leveled at his chest. His partner clutched the snubby Colt that he had lifted out of Hannon's holster. At that range, Hannon realized, it would not matter which they used.

'We're going for a ride,' the older gunman told him. 'You're driving.'

Hannon nodded.

'Get behind the wheel and don't try any hero bullshit.'

Hannon did as he was told, aware that he was momentarily in a no-win situation. If he tried to flee on foot, or to start the engine prematurely, they would have him in a deadly cross fire. He would never stand a chance.

The older gunman's name was still elusive, but some fragments of his rap sheet had been filtering back. Extortion ... arson... murder.

He was Mafia, a 'made guy,' right.

It figured.

Joey Something crawled in on the passenger's side, while his companion settled in the back seat, covering Hannon from behind.

'Where to?'

'I'll let you know,' the front-seat gunner told him. 'Get on Seventh, going south. And take it easy.'

Hannon got the Buick rolling, followed orders as he pulled out of the garage, merging with the traffic. A

Вы читаете Blood Dues
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату