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THE five truck convoy moved through the Syrian Desert taking a profound beating. The shocks were shot, the tires bald, no cool air and the front windshields were removed. Everyone was wearing clear coated goggles, desert BDU's and black combat boots except for one man. The leader of the convoy driving the third truck looked over at his passenger, shook his head and smiled. Hollywood movie star! Of all the years in this business, he had never come across anyone like him. The man was dressed in khaki pants, a Ralph Lauren polo-shirt, a pair of Hush Puppy shoes, a NY Yankees baseball cap and one cool pair of Ray-Ban mirror sunglasses. Americans!
"How much longer, Hakeem?" the American asked lighting up another cigarette.
"I tell you five minutes ago, my friend, eight hours, yes?"
"No, Hakeem, how much longer to the first checkpoint?"
"I think ten minutes, yes?"
God I hate fucking deserts, thought the American. "Are all the roads this bad?"
"No, no, only when you give me shit trucks, yes?" Hakeem said grinning.
"If I had better trucks, Hakeem, we'd be driving them."
"Yes, yes, driving them."
As the convoy continued to struggle through the 120-degree heat, CIA agent Todd Sox couldn't stop thinking about why the director chose him for this assignment. Being with the agency for only seven months, Agent Sox knew there were far better agents with a lot more experience than himself. I'll be sure to ask him why when I get back—
"We come to chick point, my friend."
"Checkpoint, Hakeem. It's checkpoint, not chick point." Damn rag head. "Are there any contacts here?"
"Yes, yes, my cousin, Raheem."
"Are the missiles covered?" asked the agent.
"Yes, yes. Red Cross flogs on top."
"Flags, Hakeem, flags!" Damn!
"Yes, yes, flags." Americans must always be correct, no?
Sixty clicks southeast of the convoy's location, United States Army Brigadier General Dwight Carl Boatwright, Commander of Delta Team 7, walked his perimeter checking on his men and calling for his communications specialist. "Lieutenant Smith?"
"How are we looking on communications, son?"
"I need another five minutes, sir," said the lieutenant.
"I don't have five minutes, Lieutenant. You have two minutes. Captain Morales?"
"Over here, sir."
"When Smith gets the commo up, make contact with Watchdog. I want him to pay close attention to the Pews covering the westside of zone 2. I don't need any unexpected surprises."
When the convoy passed Hakeem's cousin at the checkpoint, Agent Sox thought about how his father made it so easy for him to get into the CIA. After graduating from Harvard Law last year, his intentions were to live in New York City. He was more interested in the Anti-Terrorist Task Force. Looking at his driver, Todd started getting the jitters as his stomach began to ache. "How much longer, Hakeem?"
Hakeem looked at his watch and once again he smiled at the American. "Six hours, yes?"
Another six hours with these hideous rag heads is the last thing I need. General, I sure hope you're on time.
"Major Wozniak, is the computer satellite up and running?"
"Roger that, sir."
"Give me a time and their location."
"I estimate forty-eight kilometers and one hour, sir. It looks like they're moving pretty slow."
"Good for us," remarked the general. Staring at the monitor, Major Wozniak raised his eyebrow and suddenly looked at the general. "Notice anything about the convoy, sir?"
"Everything looks normal. Why?"
"The number of vehicles, sir."
"I'll be damned!" Snatching up his M-16A2 rifle leaning against his Hummv, General Boatwright ordered the major to continue monitoring the satellite and double-timed over to Lieutenant Smith's location. "Okay people, let's put some pep into our steps," replied the one star. "Where's Handy and Davenport?"
"They're heading towards us now, General," remarked Staff Sergeant Alex, the general's driver.
"Captain Handy? Are the demolitions in place and do we have quick access to the first-aid bags and stretchers?"
"Have the drivers get these vehicles out of sight. Captain Davenport?"
"What's the latest intelligence on the objective?"
"What's the latest intel on the objective, Captain?" the general asked again while pausing and contemplating Davenport's body movement. "During your briefing, Captain ... you clearly informed me that there would only be three vehicles. But after observing the computer satellite with Major Wozniak, I now have five vehicles heading our way. That's one hundred more meters we need to cover with no additional bodies."
Captain Davenport was stunned and speechless. Could he possibly know? "Sir, based on our contacts in Damascus—"
"Yes, sir. Our contacts in Damascus—"
"Captain Davenport," the general said nodding his head with disappointment. "You are a military intelligence officer in the United States Army and not a civilian. So I hope that your contacts in DAMASCUS ... better have been military liaison officers."
Not paying much attention to what General Boatwright was saying, Captain Larry Roy Davenport unholstered his Beretta 9mm pistol. Before his pistol was fully locked and thrust forward for a good point-of-aim, Davenport was dead. The general already knew that the captain was a traitor by the intelligence he received from his own initial briefing, and knew that the captain was dangerous and unpredictable. Once again trusting his gut feelings—which had always saved his life—General Boatwright holstered his own 9mm Beretta while staring down at the dead captain. Goddamn fucking traitor!
Lighting up his eighth cigarette in the last fifty minutes, Todd Sox recognized the terrain and knew that they were getting close to the ambush site and felt for his weapon from under his left shoulder. Hakeem noticed this and signaled for the front two trucks to slow down. Hakeem didn't feel right with Todd Sox so jumpy and sweat pouring down his neck. Hakeem's experience dealing with arms and narcotics for the past nine years, he had never once seen an American so paranoid. Unlike the intimidating General Boatwright, Hakeem's gut feeling always told him to kill first and ask questions later. With American weapons on the black-market worth far more then all other countries, Hakeem had never taken any chances and today would be no exception. Todd knew this of course because that was the first point-of-emphasis the director had covered during his briefing.
"Do not, Agent Sox—under any circumstances—take any chances with Adai adiz Hakeem. He will slit your throat without hesitation. He's been running weapons and narcotics for almost nine years, and has multiple offshore accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands totaling millions of dollars. He will not let anything or anyone get in his way of jeopardizing his financial riches."
When the convoy slowed to a halt, Todd knew that something was wrong. Only twenty more kilometers to the ambush site, stopping now was certainly going to put a burden on the Delta team's execution time. "Why are we stopping, Hakeem?"
Hakeem opened his door and instructed Todd to get out. Exiting the truck, Todd noticed that Hakeem's eight men had already surrounded the vehicle with their AK-47 Soviet assault rifles. In his native language of Turkish, Hakeem ordered his men to take a break and turned to his passenger. "Todd, my friend; why are you so nervous?"
Todd noticed instantly that Hakeem was now speaking perfect English with no broken accent.
"You make me nervous when I see you sweat like you do, my friend."
"First of all, Hakeem—I hate fucking deserts. Secondly; it's 120-degrees out here, and thirdly; sand is blowing in my fucking face—not to mention the fucking missiles! That doesn't make you a little antsy?"
"We are talking about you, my friend—not me."
"Listen, Hakeem. We have three million dollars on this deal and no one's going to fuck this up. Not even you."
No, my friend. Five million for me and you will die. "Why must you Americans always use so much foul language? It's not good for the soul, my friend."
Fuck you! What the fuck do you know about the soul, you Muslim fuck? And I'm not your friend. "American way of life, Hakeem. It makes us feel like bad asses. You know what I mean?"
"Ah! And selling out your country?"
"It's called getting rich, Hakeem. And my country hasn't done shit for me lately. Now let's go. We're fucking losing time!" The soul my ass!
When the shot echoed through the desert, the entire team quickly merged around the general. The men froze looking down at Davenport with a hole between his eyes watching a puddle of blood forming from underneath his head. Before anyone could say a word, General Boatwright updated his men. "We have a friendly on this convoy. His name is Todd Sox, and he's with the CIA. His job is to take out the leader named Hakeem—Adai adiz Hakeem." Handing out the photos of both men, General Boatwright noticed his team still looking down at Davenport and ignored their reactions. "Mr. Hakeem normally travels with the middle vehicle of his convoys and today should be no exception. Supposedly, Mr. Sox will be with him on the same vehicle. Personally, I don't give-a-shit. I only care about those Stinger missiles and nothing more. If this Sox character is on this convoy and gets caught up in the cross-fire, he has to be one badass son-of-a-bitch or a dumbass."
The entire team began to roar.
"According to our intelligence—and the satellite even verifies it, the Stingers will be on that third truck. There are a total of fifteen Stinger missiles and other various types of ammunition on this convoy. Our job is to intercept, recover, or even destroy everything on those trucks at all cost—and we will do just that. Are there any questions?"
The general glanced down at the corpse and shook his head. "Captain Handy ... take care of this piece-of-shit."
In an encouraging and motivating tone of voice, the one star general replied, "Let's go kick some ass, men."
The convoy was approximately five minutes away from the objective when Hakeem flashed his headlights for the trucks to slow down once again. Looking through his rearview mirror, the fourth truck was smoking from the hood. "Sorry, my friend, but we must stop. Kamar's truck is smoking and needs water."
Todd turned around and looked at Kamar's truck. Knowing that he was running out of time, Todd knew the convoy couldn't stop for even one second. "It's only the dust from our truck, Hakeem."
"Are you sure, my friend?"
"I'm positive, Hakeem. Three million dollars positive."
Hakeem flashed his lights once again. As the convoy picked up speed, Agent Sox reached under his shoulder and unlatched his weapon.
General Boatwright made contact with every man to make sure they were ready to go. Receiving a go from every team member, the general shifted his body into a different position. He once again thought about his best friend prior to giving the go ahead word. "Delta 7—set timers to two minutes starting—NOW!"
Watchdog sent out his signal.
Ninety seconds had lapsed since Todd saw his five red dot signal blinking through his prescription sunglasses that no one else could see. He knew he was in the kill zone and silently counted to thirty. Pulling out his weapon from his holster, Todd placed it between the door and his right thigh. Hakeem didn't see it coming. Fifteen seconds later, Hakeem's brains were splattered on the driver's-side door window while trucks one and five of the convoy were blown to bits disintegrating all four occupants. Todd dove from the truck and hit the ground, instantly moving twenty-five meters taking cover. Seconds later after the Delta Team opened up firing with every weapon they had, Hakeem's remaining men tried to escape when trucks two and four exploded sending body parts everywhere—but not before one of Hakeem's men was able to get out. Hearing the explosions, Todd looked up to see what was happening and found himself staring straight at the man and an AK-47. Todd tried to get to his feet, but the man was much faster and kicked Sox in the head sending the CIA agent tumbling thirty feet down the sandy hill.
Bullets riveted all around the Turkish man striking him in the right shoulder and right thigh. Falling to the ground, the Turk saw a huge figure lying just twenty feet away and pulled out a grenade from his cargo pocket. By the time the Turk was ready to throw the grenade, Captain Handy had already taken a good point-of-aim. At the same time the Turk threw his grenade, Captain Handy pulled his trigger. The grenade landed ten feet from the general. The impact of the explosion threw the one star seven feet from his original position as his Kevlar helmet and dog tags went flying in mid-air and taking several pieces of shrapnel to his left leg. When the captain's bullet struck the Turk, the Turk flew back sixteen feet taking off half his head.
Once the Chinook was airborne with all equipment, personnel, and twelve Stinger missiles recovered from Hakeem's truck, General Boatwright explained to his men the situation about Captain Davenport. The general knew he didn't have to explain anything to his men. He knew they trusted him with their lives, but that wasn't his style of leadership.
"What is it, Captain?"
"Agent Sox, sir," motioning the general to look towards the CIA spook.
General Boatwright looked over at Todd Sox and laughed. As the agent was coming to, General Boatwright couldn't help noticing the white bandage wrapped around his head. He knew who the young man was, but never had the opportunity to meet him until now. "Mr. Sox, Brigadier General Boatwright, United States Army. How's your head, son?"
Todd reached up and felt the bandage wrapped around his forehead and grinned. "Did you kill the fucker?"
"Did you kill the fucker?"
"Roger that, sir!"
"Captain Handy's my medic, Mr. Sox," pointing towards Todd's head.
Agent Sox felt his head once again.
"You did well out there, son. The Director will be proud of you. So will your father."
"You know my father?"
General Boatwright smiled at the agent, winked his eye and limped away towards the cockpit.
"Good execution time on that mission, General."
"Why is that, Major?"
"There's a terrible sandstorm coming in from the east in about sixty mikes, sir."
Who gives-a-shit! "Thank you, Major."
Limping back down towards the end of the chopper, the one star stared down at the body bag containing the remains of Captain Davenport almost completely satisfied with the outcome of the mission. Reaching up with both hands to rub the back of his neck, General Boatwright noticed that his dog tags were missing. Sixty minutes later while flying over the Mediterranean Sea, the storm rolled in burying the general's dog tags under four inches of sand—never to be seen again.
"MR. President, Senator Wozniak's on line one."
"Thank you, Connie. Good morning, Senator. How the hell are ya?"
"Good morning, Mr. President. I'm doing fine, sir. And you, sir?"
"I'm fine, son." Damn! I'm only going to the ranch for a week. "If you're calling about my vacation, Arthur, believe me when I tell you that I do have other important things to do."
"I understand that, Mr. President. But with only seven months left in office, I might not get another chance to have dinner with the President in the White House."
"Are you in town now?"
"Why didn't you say that in the first place?"
"I thought maybe we could get together for a drink and let the ladies chat for a bit. We're only in town until tomorrow and then back to Dallas."
"Did I ever tell you, Senator, that only two things come from Texas, and that's—"
Excerpted from POTUS by Greg Holden Copyright © 2011 by Greg Holden. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted August 2, 2013
Greg Holden's first novel POTUS is defined by military history and populated with imperfectly good and evil characters. All of them are intertwined with the President of the United States who has a powerful political secret. International terrorism begins in the desert of Syria and ends like an exploding Singer in the sand hills of South Carolina. POTUS is a compelling, brutal story that leaves the reader anxiously waiting for Holden's upcoming sequel.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 9, 2011
Posted July 9, 2011