Don Pendleton

Caribbean Kill

Come for the kill in Caribe land,

Not here to play in the sun and sand,

Just come to kill all the gangster man.

Calypso lyrics


The beautiful scene below him was probably the most hazardous spot on earth for Mack Bolan — at this particular moment. But it was the one scene Bolan had been hoping to find, the mob's Caribbean hardsite, and the peril awaiting him there was merely another calculated risk in an impossible war which could end only with his death.

Bolan was willing to die — but not overly so.

The sleek little seaplane that had brought him here buzzed low over the rambling plantation house and rose again in a banking circle of the cozy, crescent-shaped inlet on Puerto Rico's southern shoreline. San Juan was less than fifty miles behind, at the far side of the island. The scenery below was magnificently framed around a small bay — more like a lagoon — with startlingly blue and glasslike water. It was probably a mile across at the widest point, with a man-made breakwater built across the opening to the sea and almost closing it.

The landward sides were edged with gleaming white sand — it looked polished, and was nearly blinding in the midday sun. Beyond the sand was lush tropical vegetation, in several shades of green, here and there wild bursts of orange and yellow, and vivid purples. To the north lay cultivated land, a large plantation on which seemed to be growing sugar cane and tobacco side-by-side in well-defined patches. Eastward from the bay was a high coastal plain and, away in the distance, a couple of small seaside villages. Backdropping it all were the high mountains of the interior, bluish and shimmering in haze.

Beautiful, sure. To many men, it would seem like paradise found.

Glass Bay would be no paradise for Mack Bolan. Nor, from this moment on, for his enemies. A weird set of circumstances had brought Bolan to this unlikely battleground of his war with the Mafia. The distance separating Las Vegas and Puerto Rico had to be expressed in something more than mere mileage; for most people, an entire world of ideas and purposes would be required to bridge that distance. Bolan, however, had made the leap while riding one idea and a single purpose.

The idea told it like it was: the mob is everywhere, into everything — squeezing, gouging, clawing, manipulating and controlling wherever bucks flowed freely — and, like it was, Puerto Rico and all the Caribbean playlands were identical peas in the same pod that housed Las Vegas.

The single purpose of Mack Bolan's life was to stop the Mafia wherever he found their leeching tentacles of influence — to jar their omnipotence, to confound their brilliance at organization, and to rid the earth of their oppressive weight. Others had failed in that purpose. The combined talents of law-enforcement agencies the world over had been f ailing for longer than Mack Bolan had been alive. Competitive syndicates and rival gangs had arisen to challenge the awesome power of La Cosa Nostra, only to be immediately snuffed out or absorbed by the invisible empire.

So what made a lone man, totally unsupported by anything other than his own wits and will, think that he could succeed where so many others had failed? Bolan himself did not consider such questions. In his own understanding, he was technically dead already — a man doomed by his own actions, by his own character. Victory meant living for one more day, and carrying his war to the enemy one more time. There could be no personal victory for Mack Bolan; this also he understood. His war with the Mafia had been declared on such an unpromising note, and each battle of that conflict was regarded as merely another step along his final mile of life.

It had all begun with five blasts of a Marlin .444, fired from an office building onto the streets of the eastern U.S. city of Pittsfield, in the ambush-execution of five local gangland figures.

Police authorities who investigated the slayings at first attributed the deaths to an underworld purge. It was not unusual for competitive criminal elements to engage in territorial disputes; the mass murder bore all the earmarks of a gang war.

But then the physical evidence began forming an entirely different picture. A local sports shop had been 'burglarized' a few nights prior to the killings. A Marlin big-game rifle and a deluxe scope were missing, along with a supply of ammunition and a package of targets. A sum of money sufficient to cover the unorthodox purchase was left behind, and the shopkeeper had no complaints. He reported the incident to the police purely 'for the record.'

On the day following, the watchman at an inactive rock quarry just outside the city observed a tall young man in the act of test-firing and adjusting 'a big game rifle.' The man was apparently 'sighting-in' the weapon and preparing trajectory graphs. The watchman saw no harm in these activities and did not report the matter until news of the slayings had been released.

The detective in charge of the homicide investigation recalled that a young soldier on emergency furlough from Vietnam had, some days earlier, been agitating for a closer police scrutiny of the deaths of his parents and teenage sister, whom the soldier had come home to bury. The official police blotter covering that earlier tragedy revealed an open and shut case of suicide-homicide, with the soldier's father as the culprit of the piece. The soldier had strongly protested this finding, insisting that underworld figures were at least indirectly responsible for his family's death.

Following a hunch, the Pittsfield police detective sent a query to the military police in Saigon. The reply, reproduced below, fully confirmed the detective's suspicions and laid to rest any ideas concerning a 'gang war' in Pittsfield.

'Sgt. Mack Bolan — age 30 — height 74 inches-weight 205 pounds, hair brown, eyes blue. Currently on emergency furlough, ARC verified, from Corps I area, destination your city. Subject known locally and respected throughout enemy strongholds as The Executioner. Penetration Team specialist, sniper. Holds sharpshooter rating, various personal weapons. Twice awarded Silver Star and holds many lesser decorations. Also decorated by South Vietnamese government for quote conspicuous valor unquote and quote humanitarian actions unquote. Career man, good conduct, second tour Vietnam. Officially credited ninety-seven kills, execution missions behind enemy lines. Personally described by CO as quote formidable psychological warfare weapon unquote. Request full details any alleged civil infractions your city.'

An army psychologist had these further words concerning Sgt. Bolan's specialty: 'A good sniper has to be a man who can kill methodically, unemotionally, and personally. Personallybecause it's an entirely different ball game when you can see even the color of your victim's eyes through the magnification of a sniper-scope, when you can see the look of surprise and fear when he realizes he's been shot. Most any good soldier can be a successful sniper once — it's the second or third time around, when the memories of personal killing are etched into the conscience, that the 'soldiers' are separated from the 'executioners.' Killing in this manner is closely akin to murder in the conscience of many men. Of course, we do not want mad dogs in this program, either. What we want, quite simply, is a man who can distinguish between murder and duty, and who can realize that a duty killing is not an act of murder. A man who is also cool and calm when he himself is in jeopardy completes the picture of our sniper ideal.'

Sergeant Bolan was that kind of man. That he maintained proper balance through two years and more of this bloody career is suggested by the other side of the Bolan ledger. Base Camp and Green Beret medics in Bolan's theatres of operation had quietly dubbed him 'Sergeant Mercy' — an interesting contrast to the Executioner tag. It was said that the sarge seldom returned from a mission in enemy territory without an entourage of refugees who had become victims of enemy terrorist activities — usually the very old, the very young, the sick, the maimed.

It was this total portrait of Mack Bolan which so intrigued Lt. Alan Weatherbee of the Pittsfield homicide bureau and — though he had nothing to base a case upon — the detective knew that The Executioner had

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