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Don Pendleton

Vegas Vendetta

Prologue

On a late summer's day in the eastern city of Pittsfield, a bemedalled army sniper fresh from the hells of Vietnam stood at the vvindow of an unoccupied office on an upper floor of a downtown building and fired five rounds from a hi-powered rifle onto the street below. Five shots, five frozen seconds, and five men lay suddenly very dead in front of a loan office on that Pittsfield street.

But this was hardly the action of a berserk war veteran who was running amuck at home. On the evening preceding the slayings, the young soldier had penned this note in his personal journal:

It's a perfect drop. I ran my triangulations last night and again this evening. It will be like picking rats out of a barrel. The setup sort of reminds me of the site at Nha Tran. The target' will not have any place to go but down — to the ground. And that's just where I want them… I timed out at six seconds on the dry run tonight and thai was figuring them to scatter in all directions after tht first round. I think I will better that time tomorrow because I do not believe these troops have been under fire before., I will probably be half done before the reaction even begins. Well, we will see. We will see, Pop.

'Pop was Sam Bolan, deceased, until very recently an aging steelworker, a man, who had labored with his hands all his life to provide for his family: beloved wife Elsa, elder son Mack, 17-year-old Cindy, younger son Johnny age 14.

'Elder son Mack' had a few days earlier been granted emergency leave to journey home from Vietnam and bury Pop Mama and Cindy. Young Johnny lay critically injured fron gunshot wounds in a Pittsfield hospital and it was fron his kid brother that Mack Bolan learned the true circumstances of this family tragedy. It was an old. old story, told many times in the big cities of America.

Sam Bolan had been ailing, had lost considerable time on the job and had never been returned to full duty. The direct result, of course, was a greatly reduced income. And Sam had bills to pay, one of these a relativeh modest personal note to a local loan company. But this was not an ordinary loan company and its methods of collection had nothing to do with legal claims and court action. One does not go into court to collect 'vigorish' — the term denoting astronomical and illegal interest rates. Instead, one lies in wait in a dark alley with a baseball bat and smashes the delinquent borrower's shoulder or elbow, or breaks a nose and dislodges several teeth in transmitting the demand for payment. One may also threaten members of the immediate family with bodily harm, urge wives and daughters into prostitution or pressure the borrower into committing theft. All these approaches failing, an astute loanshark might feel driven to a simple act of murder — as an object lesson to others who might be similarly inclined toward an evasion of payment.

Perhapt this is why concerned young Cindy Bolan allowed a local vice figure to 'make dates' for her in a motel room in Pittsfield. For some time earlier, Cindy had been secretly turning over her entire paycheck — a meager $35 per week from a part-time job in a dime store — to retire the loan. But it developed that this amount was barely covering the 'vigorish' and had not begun to dissolve the principle plus past-accumulation of vigorish. So, according to Johnny Bolan, 'She started working for those guys, Mack. She was… sellin' her ass. Don't look at me like that, she was.' The kid brother was shocked and angered by this discovery, even while understanding her reasons, and his only thought was to 'tell Pop,' so that he would 'straighten Cindy out.'

Pop straightened Cindy out. This was the final straw for a proud man already humbled, humiliated and pressured to the breaking point. Sam Bolan picked up a pistol and killed his daughter, his wife, and himself.

Six days before the sniper-slayings on the Pittsfield street, Mack Bolan wrote in his journal: 'Cindy did only what she thought had to be done. In his own mixed-up way, I guess Pop did the same. Can I do any less?'

A journal entry dated one day later reads: 'It looks like I have been lighting the wrong enemy. Why defend a front line 8,000 miles away when the real enemy is chewing up everything you love back home?'

Four days later, the following entry appears: 'Okay, I have located and identified the first bunch and I am ready… The law can't touch them — but the Executioner can.'

And he did. Five ticks of a clock, five roars of a heavy rifle, five dead bodies lying in a Pittsfield street. And that was only the beginning. The only possible ending would be written in Bolan's blood. This he became quickly aware of, learning that his victims were part of the international crime syndicate known as La Cosa Nostra.

His buddies in Vietnam had called him 'the Executioner' in tribute to his proficiency as a jungle fighter, infiltrator and sniper. He had become a specialist in 'seek and destroy' missions of a personal nature, his nerveless efficiency and cool contempt of death staying with,him through numerous penetrations of hostile territories and accounting for more than ninety official kills of enemy bigwigs during his two tours of combat duty in Southeast Asia.

So now this government-trained war machine was on a different kind of combat tour — but the ground- rules remained the same. Seek out and destroy the enemy — one by one, two by two or fifty by fifty, the numbers did not matter. The important thing was to carry the war to the enemy, to put up at least some show of resistance to the creeping inroads of organized crime. They had evidently found the laws of a free society particularly suited to their own manipulation — so Bolan placed himself also above the restrictions of American justice. 'I am not their judge. I am their judgment. I am their executioner.' So saying, he set out to prove it and to bring a taste of jungle hell to these enemies at home.

Thunder and lightning became the trademarks of this stunning one-man army, stealth and cunning and combat ingenuity were his modus operandi', the only law, the only goal, his only reason for living was now to destroy the enemy. This he did, swiftly and efficiently, in the initial confrontation in his home town of Pittsfield. Along the way he picked up a friend or two and many thousands of enemies. Now sought by the police and hotly pursued by an omniscient and omnipresent enemy, Bolan very quickly learned that this was a war of no ordinary dimensions. The battlefield lay everywhere, the enemy was — potentially — everybody. He was hopelessly outnumbered, and the only certain event in his future seemed to be a bloody death.

But this was a 'jungle' which Bolan was quickly beginning to understand… and to master. If he was indeed in his last mile of life, then he was determined,to make every step of the way count for something positive in his war on syndicated evil. Adopting the hit-and-fade tactics of the trained jungle fighter, Bolan abruptly faded from the Pittsfield battleground and immediately turned up on the far side of the continent for a blitzkrieg challenge to the DiGeorge Family of Southern California — and this battle raged from the exclusive neighborhoods of Beverly Hills to the rugged coastline of Balboa, spilling across the hot desert sands, into spas and citrus fields until 'the enemy' was reeling in shock and walking with great respect around the shadows and pathways of this inspired warrior.

International death contracts were let, the price on Bolan's head passed the $100,000 figure, and bounty hunters from every street corner in the nation prowled the Executioner's jungle of survival. At the height of this frenetic activity, our man popped up at Miami Beach in the midst of a Costa Nostra summit meeting to show the Capos (bosses) themselves what this business of unending warfare was all about.

Meanwhile Bolan had become an unofficial national hero, and his war was closely followed in the press and other media. That hunted and haunted face became as familiar to the average American in the street as was any movie or television idol — and equally familiar to every police establishment in the nation. In the eyes of the law, this young crusader was a mass murderer and the nation's 'most wanted' man. Many individual policemen were secretly sympathetic to the impossible war being waged by this lone warrior, but the official position throughout the country was 'Get Bolan!'

Moving cautiously through the no-man's-land between the police and the mob, Bolan one day found himself unwillingly aboard a Paris-bound jet, and the Executioner became an international police problem. He also quickly became a matter of considerable distress to the international arms of the syndicate, and his sweeps through France and England showed that Bolan's war was not a geographically limited one — his jungle and his war accompanied him wherever he went.

Back home again, he took on the combined families of New York City, disrupted an organization movement referred to as Costa di tutti Cosi (Thing of Things — or Big Thing) and he left a mark on the New York mob which

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