Read an Excerpt
The Executioner Series, Books 1-3
War Against the Mafia, Death Squad, and Battle Mask
By Don Pendleton
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1970 Pinnacle Books
All rights reserved.
The Smiling Fates
The gold lettering on the frosted glass door read: "Plasky Enterprises." A tall man in a military uniform paused momentarily with one hand on the door, then pushed on inside and closed the door softly behind him. It was a large office, divided into small pens by a network of wrought-iron railings. Each "pen" contained a modern desk and a small table set at a right angle to the desk. Two simply upholstered metal chairs were stationed at each table. At the moment, each of the pen-style offices was vacant.
A pretty brunette occupied a reception desk outside the network of wrought iron. She was doodling on a scratch pad, the secretarial chair swivelled so that it faced the front door, her body twisted at the waist with the upper torso leaning over the desk, a silken expanse of long legs crossed at the knees and attractively displayed from a tight-fitting skirt that reached only to about midthigh. She looked up with a bored smile, not bothering to rearrange her position at the desk.
"Good morning," the visitor said. The voice was deeply pleasant and suggestive of an accustomed authority.
"Everybody's out," the girl told him, flashing her eyes toward the empty desks as though to confirm the truth of her statement. "... if you'd like to wait ..."
He showed frank interest in her legs, from the hem of the skirt on down, and said, "I'm Mack Bolan. Mr. Plasky said he'd see me at nine." He glanced at his watch. "It's nine now."
"Oh, well, I think maybe Mr. Plasky is in," the girl said, gazing at the visitor with a newfound respect. She picked up a telephone and punched a button at the base of the instrument, all the while viewing Bolan with cool appraisal. "There's a Mr. Bolan here," she whispered into the mouthpiece; then, still holding the receiver to an ear, told Bolan: "Go on in."
The tall man angled a glance toward a door at the far end of the room and raised his eyebrows quizzically. The girl merely nodded, then giggled into the mouthpiece of the telephone and gasped, "Oh, Mr. Plasky!"
Bolan grinned as he pushed through a swinging gate in the wrought iron. He walked past the row of office-pens and opened the wooden door to the private office, glancing back at the brunette as he went in. She was still giggling delightedly into the telephone. He closed the door and turned his attention to the man behind the desk. The chair was swivelled so that Plasky's back was toward the door. His feet were crossed atop a low window-ledge and he was half-lying in the chair, the telephone clasped loosely to his head. He was telling the receptionist an off-color story, and vastly enjoying the telling.
Bolan dropped into a leather chair and lit a cigarette. Plasky ended the story with an explosive laugh, then launched immediately into another, swivelling about and raising his voice to share it with his visitor. Despite the high-humored jocularity of the moment, Bolan was aware that he was being sized up, and he did some sizing himself. Plasky was a heavy man, but not soft, thick of chest and shoulders. The hand clasping the telephone was a powerful one with stubby, squared-off fingers-well manicured. Bolan aged the man at about forty. The hair was light brown, nearly blonde, and carefully barbered. A chiselled, ruddy face completed the notunhandsome picture.
Bolan grinned with the punch line of the story and could hear the delighted shrieking of the brunette rattling the diaphragm of the telephone receiver. Plasky dropped the instrument, the genial lines of his face instantly reforming into a cool composure as his eyes locked onto his visitor's.
"The day's contribution to employee relations," he explained in a suddenly businesslike voice. "You're Bolan, eh?" he asked, with hardly a pause.
The visitor nodded. "Mack Bolan. I won't be in town long. Figured I better get this business settled."
Plasky fussed with a manila folder that lay unopened on his desk. "It was good of you to contact us," he said. "Course — you understand our circumstances. Uh — we're an auditing firm. You understand that. The unfortunate — uh — circumstances — over at Triangle Industrial ..."
"I won't be in town long," Bolan repeated. "I was told that you are temporarily in charge of the Triangle accounts."
"Wasn't that a terrible thing?" Plasky muttered. "Five good men — imagine that — some nut, some lunatic, and five good men — wiped out — just like that!" He snapped thick fingers in emphasis. "I — uh — I've got your father's book here, Mr. Bolan," he went on, in subdued tones. He flipped up the front cover of the manila folder, stared briefly at something inside, then closed it again. "Frankly, this account is in a mess. Your father is in serious arrears."
Bolan produced a small spiral notebook and tossed it onto the desk. "Not according to this," he said. "That's my father's record. He borrowed four hundred dollars eleven months ago. He has repaid five hundred and fifty. And I have reason to believe that other payments, not recorded in his book, have been made by other members of the family. Obviously your books are in error."
Plasky smiled blandly and spread his hands, palms up, on the desktop, ignoring Bolan's notebook. "Loan companies are not charitable institutions, Mr. Bolan, and let me assure you — we do not make errors in our books. Each account is double-audited, and —"
"He borrowed four, he repaid five-and-a-half. The debt should be paid."
Plasky was working diligently at the smile. "Your confusion is understandable, soldier." He was reminding Bolan of his lower place in the order of intelligence. "Like I said, financiers are not charity-minded. They rent out their money. It's a simple rental arrangement. If you rent a house or a car, you expect to pay your rent each month and also to return the property — all of the property — when your rental period has expired. Right?"
Bolan merely nodded.
"We rented your father a sum of money. The rental period specified was ninety days. If your father had returned our property at the expiration of that period, and if his rent was all paid up at that time, the debt would have been settled. But he did not. Naturally, in any business arrangement, there are certain penalty agreements to be invoked when one of the parties defaults. So many people fail to understand the financial structure of the business world. Now all your father has managed to do is to barely keep up the rent payments and to pay some of the penalties. He still has all of the property he rented — in this case, our money. We want it back. Are we so unreasonable?"
"Five hundred and fifty bucks is pretty high rent on four hundred bucks, isn't it?" Bolan observed softly.
"You're forgetting the penalties," Plasky shot back. He smiled. "All right, you're an intelligent man, Mr. Bolan. Sure, our interest rates are high. We provide a service at a risk that few financiers would be interested in. Why didn't your father borrow this money from a bank? Huh? You know the answer to that. No bank would have risked a nickel on your father. We did. We risked four hundred dollars on him. Frankly, soldier, your old man was a bad risk. Naturally our interest rates have to take that cruel fact into account. And, of course, we don't force anyone to do business with us. We —"
"You keep saying 'we,'" Bolan interrupted. "I thought —"
"Plasky Enterprises is associated with Triangle, of course," Plasky said. "Shall we get down to business now? Are you prepared to settle your father's account?"
"As far as I'm concerned it's already settled," Bolan replied mildly. "I just came in to tell you that."
"Our business is with your father, Mr. Bolan," Plasky said, coloring furiously. "He'll have to talk for himself."
"That'd be a pretty good trick, Mr. Plasky. He was buried ten days ago."
There was a moment of silence as Plasky whipped the cover of the Bolan account open and closed several times. Finally he said, "We'll just refer the matter to our legal department. We can tie up the estate, you know."
"There's no estate and you know it," Bolan told him. "The debt is paid, Plasky. He got four, he returned five and a half. The debt is paid." He rose to leave.
"You don't know what you're saying, fella," Plasky sneered, rising with him.
"Is your legal department going to pack up their brass knucks and follow me to Vietnam?" Bolan asked, his tone faintly mocking.
"Vietnam?" the other man echoed.
"I got emergency leave to bury the old man. I'll be going back in a couple of days. By the way ..." Bolan sat back down.
"Yeah?" The ruddy face was further flushed with suppressed anger.
"I saw those guys get it."
"What? What guys?"
"The guys down at Triangle. I saw them die."
"So?" Plasky's hands were clenched together on the desk.
"I think I saw the guy that did it."
An electric silence settled into the atmosphere of the sumptuous office. Plasky's knuckles cracked, emphasizing the silence. "Did you go to the police?" he asked presently.
"And get involved in a mess like that?" Bolan's tone clearly implied that such an action was unthinkable.
"My — uh — associates would be interested in your — uh — observations."
"Like I said, I'm going to Vietnam in a couple of days," Bolan replied.
"I — uh — could set up a quick meeting."
"I want some fun and frolic before I go back to the jungle rot," the tall man mused. "I don't want to get tied up."
"I guarantee you all the fun and frolic you can handle," Plasky replied quickly, reaching for the telephone.
Bolan's hand stopped him. "Then there's this other thing," he said.
"What other thing?"
"This strained customer relation thing. I say the Bolan debt is settled."
"Of course! Of course it's settled!"
"I want the note."
Plasky dug into the folder, produced an imposingly legal-appearing paper, and slid it into Bolan's hand. The tall man glanced at it, then settled back in his chair with a grunt, folding the paper and placing it in a pocket. Plasky's stubby forefinger stabbed into the telephone dial.
"Do you believe in fate, Bolan?" Plasky asked, obviously highly pleased with the turn of the morning's events.
"Yeah. You'd never believe how much I believe in fate, Mr. Plasky," the tall man replied.
And The Executioner smiled.CHAPTER 2
Mack Bolan had no illusions regarding his self-appointed task. He was no starry-eyed crusader. Neither was he a vengeance-ridden zealot. "No monkeys on my back," was his realistic motto. He did not necessarily believe in dying for just causes; he simply felt that a man would do his duty as he saw it. Perhaps this was a family trait, and perhaps it was just as subject to erroneous application as the recent actions of his sister, his brother, and his father. But Mack Bolan's duty seemed rather clear-cut to him at the present.
He saw a cancerous leech at the throat of America, and he saw the inability or the indisposition of American institutions to deal with it. He saw, also, that he was both equipped and positioned to strike a telling blow to at least one small tentacle of the monster growth. To a man like Mack Bolan this was a clear call to duty. But there were no illusions. He was aware of the hazards, of the odds against his success. He was in violation of the law himself, of course. Already, in the eyes of his society, he was a five-time murderer.
If apprehended he could expect little sympathy from the courts of law. Already the police might be sniffing hotly along his trail. He had proved to himself, through the visit to Plasky's office, that "the organization" also was strongly interested in the Triangle Industrial killings. He was satisfied in his own mind that they had their contacts, both in and out of society, and a strong intelligence capability that would soon lead them inevitably to Mack Bolan.
But his visit to Plasky Enterprises was not an act of foolish bravado nor of amateurish bumbling. He knew precisely what he was doing, or what he was attempting. He was moving against the enemy in a coolly careful battle plan. Seek and destroy. This was the plan. Find, identify, then execute — before they can regroup and counterattack. At the moment he had the advantage. He had to press that advantage. He had found the link beyond Triangle Industrial. The battle plan now called for an infiltration through that link.
This was the plan. Somewhere in that tangle he would find a man called Leo. And Bolan had to admit that he was looking forward to that meeting with something more than a cool sense of duty. Leo, too, was part of the plan.CHAPTER 3
Point of Law
Lieutenant of Detectives Al Weatherbee glared unseeingly at the stack of departmental reports that occupied the exact center of his desk, chewed thoughtfully on his lower lip for a moment, then surged up out of the chair and directed his 200-odd pounds in the general direction of the closed door. He paused in midstride, returned to the desk, pawed through the reports, and extracted a single sheet, reread it, grunted, returned it to the stack, then continued the interrupted journey to the door. He opened it, caught the eye of a dark-skinned man who sat just outside, and said, "Bring in that soldier now, Jack." He left the door ajar and went back to his chair, behind the desk. He had lit a cigarette and was staring again at the imposing stack of papers at desk-center when a uniformed officer entered with another uniformed man beside him. Weatherbee glanced at the tall figure and grimaced, a twisting of the lips and cheeks that could be construed as a smile.
"You want me to stay, Lieutenant?" the policeman asked.
Weatherbee shook his head in a terse negative and rose with hand outstretched toward the tall man in the U.S. Army uniform. "I'm Lieutenant Weatherbee," he said. "Sit down, Sergeant Bolan."
The tall man shook hands, then dropped into a plain wooden chair that was placed against the side of the desk, and leaned forward tensely with hands clasped atop his legs, peering intently into the detective's eyes. Weatherbee waited for the door to close, then he smiled engagingly and said, "That's an interesting collection of fruit salad." He leaned forward to study the military decoration on the soldier's breast. "I recognize the Purple Heart and the marksman's medal — and, yeah, the Bronze Star — the rest of 'em are out of my era, I guess. How many weapons have you qualified as expert on?"
Bolan met the suddenly penetrating gaze. "Just about all the personal weapons," he replied.
"Are you expert enough to get off five shots in less than five seconds, with a perfect score at better than a hundred yards?"
"Depends on the weapon," Bolan said easily. "I've done it."
"With a lever-action piece?"
"We don't use lever-actions in the Army," Bolan replied soberly.
"Uh-huh." Weatherbee took a drag from his cigarette and exhaled noisily. "I've had a couple of Telex conversations with a friend of mine in Saigon. You know a Major Harrington?"
Bolan shook his head negative.
Excerpted from The Executioner Series, Books 1-3 by Don Pendleton. Copyright © 1970 Pinnacle Books. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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.