Mack Bolan stands at the lip of Puowaina, the Hawaiian war cemetery, and pays tribute to the friends he lost in Vietnam. Since he left the jungle, this crack sniper has been fighting a different war—an endless battle against organized crime that he knows will someday end in his death. He is in Hawaii on a mission, and that mission is murder.
He starts by firing a series of sniper rounds into the palatial apartment of the Hawaiian heroin king. As Bolan watches the local mob try to pick up the pieces, he begins hearing rumors of another capo: the mysterious King Fire. There is a conspiracy lurking beneath the surface of this beautiful chain of islands—a fiendish plot that stretches to the farthest reaches of the Pacific.
Hawaiian Hellground is the 22nd book in the Executioner series, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
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The Executioner, Book Twenty-Two
By Don Pendleton
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1975 Pinnacle Books, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Every war has to begin somewhere. For the Hawaiian mob, it began at the plush apartment of Paul Angliano, the drug trade's chief distributor for the Waikiki district. It had been a lucrative territory, with daily receipts averaging in the fifty-thousand-dollar range. Even so, it was a small beginning for a raging war which would rock that entire island state.
The Mafia boss of Waikiki was standing beside an open wall safe when the door exploded inward and black death strode into that room. Angliano had perhaps a single heartbeat to see what had come for him-and the final image recorded upon those doomed eyes could have been no more than a duplication of the same death image which had overhung and haunted the Mafia world from the beginning of Mack Bolan's personal war: a tall figure clad in black, a face chiseled from ice, a black pistol extended and silently chugging a pencil of flame—nasty red fountain erupted from between those shocked eyes and Paul John Angliano sloppily departed the world of men.
A military medal clattered to the desk as the only other occupant of the room-one Joey Puli, a Polynesian-staggered clear of the falling body and raised both hands in a desperate stretch for survival.
"Wait, wait!" Puli yelped, his horrified gaze bouncing from the remains of Angliano to another crumpled form which lay beyond the shattered doorway.
"I'll need a reason to wait," the voice of death responded.
"Hell, I—I don't even know the man!"
"Not good enough, Joey." The Beretta coughed again, sending a quiet whistler zipping into the floor between the guy's feet.
"Okay, okay!" Puli yelled, dancing backwards and coming to rest with his shoulders pressed to the wall. The devil in black had called his name. It was clearly no time for cute games. His life hung on a heartbeat, and Joey Puli knew it.
"I'm listening," said cold Judgment.
"Okay, I work here," Puli admitted weakly. "Messenger."
"Runner," Bolan corrected him.
"Sure, yeah. I pick up things and deliver things."
The death gaze flicked to the military medal that lay on the desk. "Pick that up and deliver it, then," the icy voice commanded.
A grin engulfed the terror of the runner's face as he replied, "Sure, man. Anything you say. Who gets it?"
"Oliveras gets it."
The grin shrank. "I'm not sure I know—"
"You know," Bolan told him. "And I'll know when he gets it. If he doesn't get it, Joey, then it's yours to die with."
"He'll get it," the guy said in a choked voice.
"Take off," Bolan quietly commanded.
Puli snatched the medal from the desk and bolted from the room. Bolan went immediately to the wall safe and transferred its contents to his pouch—then lost no time getting out of there himself.
Minutes later the Executioner was at a darkened window of a high-rise hotel near Ala Wai Harbor. It was a carefully preselected "fire base" with an unobstructed view of another high-rise building far down the beach. A gleaming Weatherby Mark IV mounted in a swivel tripod shared that window with the marksman. The impressive weapon was equipped with a 20-power scope, a Startron model especially designed for night targeting. In the scope's field of vision, another window was framed—nearly a thousand meters downrange. This one was brightly lighted and revealed one half of a sizable room—a luxury pad, even for Waikiki. Nothing human was moving through that field of vision, however, as Bolan checked and doublechecked the calibrated range marks of the crosshairs. He grunted with satisfaction, doggedly ran another calculation on the trajectory graph which had been laboriously set up for this mission, then he checked once again the lateral stops on the swivel mount.
Finally, fully satisfied with his preparations, Bolan bent once again to the eyepiece of the scope and patiently waited.
That was the name of the game now. Wait. For targets.
The whole thing now depended entirely upon Joey Puli.
The object of Bolan's concern was at that moment checking in to the swank diggings of Frank Oliveras, the reputed heroin king of the islands. "Listen," he reported urgently into the house phone, "this is Joey Puli. You know. Angliano. Listen—he just got smeared. Know what I mean? I got to see Mr. Oliveras damn quick. His life might depend on it."
Puli smirked at the security man and handed the telephone to him. A moment later he was passed through to the elevator to begin the quick ascent to the upper levels. Both hands in his pockets, the little runner mentally rehearsed his speech to the great man while nervously fingering the outlines of the military medal.
He stepped from the elevator and into the rough hands of a reception committee, by whom he was frisked, then unceremoniously led into the apartment and shoved onto a chair in a small reception hall. The men promptly withdrew, leaving him there alone. The room was a mere cubicle, windowless, with a massive door at either end. The hard chair on which he sat was the only piece of furniture. A heavy mirror was set into the wall opposite the chair. Puli gazed into the mirror, then quickly averted his eyes as a chill seized the nape of his neck with some instinctive awareness that eyes other than his own were staring back at him from that "mirror." He fidgeted, lit a cigarette, put it out, returned both hands to his pockets—then, on impulse, he produced the medal and began examining it.
Immediately, the inner door opened and two stony-faced men entered. Torpedoes, these—it was stamped all over them.
Puli was roughly frisked again and one of the men snatched the medal.
"Hey, wait," the islander complained weakly. "That's for—"
"What's your name again?" asked the one who had taken the medal.
"Puli, Joey. I work for—I worked for—"
"What do you want here?"
"I got to see Mr. Oliveras. It's okay, I'm connected. I worked for Angliano. That's what I got to see Mr. Oliveras about. Angles is dead."
Puli's gaze shifted nervously between the two men. "So I was there, that's so what. The guy blasted his head away." Uncomfortable eyes fell to the bull's-eye cross which was resting on the torpedo's palm. "He left that behind."
The men exchanged glances. The one with the medal said, "He left you, too."
"Yeah," Puli said, shuddering.
The little guy shuddered again. "I guess he figured I wasn't worth the price of a bullet."
The silent torpedo snickered coldly. The other said, "Baby-sit him, Charley," and departed.
"Sit down," the other sneered.
Puli returned to the chair.
A full minute passed—a very uncomfortable minute for Joey Puli, under the glassy gaze of his "baby sitter." Then the voice of the other man came from a speaker concealed somewhere in the wall: "Charley. Meet us in the office."
The visitor was escorted through a succession of darkened rooms, across a small garden-terrace patio, and into "the office." It was a large, oblong room with two entire walls of glass, obviously situated at the corner of the building, providing a spectacular view of both the beach area and the open sea. A huge mahogany desk was set across the corner, between the windows. Someone was seated at that desk, but Puli was looking directly into the bright glow of a desk lamp which was angled his way, and he could see only an indistinct form back there.
A rasping voice from that direction asked, "What'd you say your name was?"
"Joey Puli. Are you Mr. Oliveras?"
"You just tell what I ask you."
"What's this about Angliano?"
Puli continued to gaze stoically into the blinding lamp as he explained, "I'd just brought in the evening receipts. Mr. Angliano was putting them in the safe when this guy came busting in. He was a—God, I don't know how to describe him. He wasn't no street-corner junkie, that's for sure. Big tall guy. Black gun with a silencer—and he sure knew what to do with it. Come to think, he was black all over. I mean, his clothes and everything, not his skin. White man. Didn't say anything, just raised that black gun and put a bullet between Mr. Angliano's eyes. Then he threw that medal on the desk and turned the gun on me. I talked him out of it. But he got Tommy Dragon before he came in—I mean, into the office. Tommy was on door duty. I saw him laying there with his brains oozing out, and I knew right away this guy was kill crazy. Anyway, I just cooled it, and—"
"What kind of medal, Joey?" the man at the desk rasped.
"Some kind of soldier's medal. The guy took it away from me, the guy that—"
"A marksman's medal."
"Is that what it is?"
"You didn't know that?"
"No sir, I never was in the army. I don't know-"
"Who'd this guy say he was?"
"What guy? You mean the guy that took it or-"
"Dummy! You're a dummy!"
"Sir?" Things were getting out of hand. Joey Puli was beginning to sweat. This was crazy. These people were pure crazy.
"Did you really expect to get away with this kind of shit?"
"What? Aw no, no! You got me wrong, Mr. Oliveras! I'm giving you this straight on the level! What d'you think I did? You think I did this myself and just made up a story? You think I'd come here after I done something like that?"
"Well, I just—"
Someone stepped up from the rear and slapped Puli with an open hand across the back of his head. The runner caught his breath and closed his mouth with a snap.
The rasping voice from the desk was telling him, "You know how many times this has been tried, dummy? You know how many punks have tried cashing in on this guy's reputation? You think we just automatically start shaking and shitting if somebody just says the guy's in town? What do you take us for? You must take me for some—shit, you don't even think you have to mention the name! You just come dancing in here with this goddam piece of junk in your hand, and I'm gonna kiss you like a hero!"
"What name?" Puli moaned. "I don't know what you're talking about! The guy came in and shot up the joint! He gave me the damned medal and told me to bring it here! That's all I know!"
"You're a punk! So now you're saying he told you to bring it here!"
"Yessir, I thought I said that already. I didn't want—listen, I was scared to come here. But the guy said it was my only out. He said I either bring the thing here and give it to you or I die with it myself. I don't even know what's going on, I swear."
"This so-called guy says you're to bring it to me? By name, he says me?"
"If you're Mr. Oliveras, yessir, that's right. He says you."
"Who'd he say he was?"
"God, sir, he didn't say. He acted like he didn't need to say. He just says I should take it to Oliveras or die with it myself."
"You mean, like, instead of myself!"
"Well ... maybe. I don't r'member. God, look, I'm standing there in Mr. Angliano's brains. The guy turns the gun on me." The little runner was beginning to crumble under the strain. His eyes rolled as he continued, "Hey, God, you gotta see this guy to believe him. I was scared shit! I mean I never been so scared in my life! You gotta see this guy! You never saw such eyes! And cold—listen, that guy was solid ice. He—"
"Big guy, you say?" asked a calm voice behind him. It was the torpedo who'd taken the medal.
Puli half-turned to the sound of that voice as he replied, "Yessir, very tall. Big, but not fat. I mean—across the shoulders, the chest—powerful, big, but—and all dressed in black. Eyes like ... like ..."
A heavy sigh came from the desk to punctuate Puli's awed search for words. "What do you think, Oscar?" Oliveras rasped.
"It sounds straight, sir," the torpedo called Oscar replied.
"Sounds like Bolan to me," said the other.
Something highly discomfiting was finally coming together in Joey Puli's mind. One knee buckled under that onslaught of revelation and he nearly toppled over. "Oh God!" he moaned. "Was that—was that ...?"
"You saying you didn't know?"
"I swear I didn't know," Puli weakly insisted. "I didn't finger you, Mr. Oliveras. The guy did, he already knew. He says, 'Pick that up and deliver it to Oliveras.' You just gotta believe that. I didn't even know who the guy was. He just says—"
"Yessir." Puli steeled himself for another blow from the rear, but none came. He stood with shoulders slumped, staring at his toes in abject contrition.
From the desk: "Oscar."
"You better check this out. Not direct. Call the guy over at HPD. Tell him to verify this. I want to know damn quick."
The guy moved to a telephone somewhere to the rear.
"Put this kid on ice until we know what's going on here."
The escorting torpedo grabbed Puli's arm and spun him around, moving him out. Oscar was standing at a small table near the window, speaking into a telephone. From the corner of his eye Puli saw a huge bulk of a man moving away from the desk in the corner.
Then all hell broke loose.
The big picture window at the north wall popped and vibrated as something sizzled into that room and exploded into the face of Puli's escort, jerking the guy like a rag doll and sending pieces of him spraying everywhere. The window popped again before the little runner could fully comprehend what had occurred, and with that one the guy at the telephone was flung across the room in another shower of blood.
Puli instinctively hit the floor and hugged it as the window continued to erupt and a seemingly eternal fusillade of heavy bullets demolished everything within reach.
Some other guys came charging in, only to be screamed back by Oliveras who—Puli noted—was also as flat on the floor as his huge girth would allow.
And when it was over, the silence was even more ominous than the preceding chaos. Two men lay gruesomely dead almost at Joey Puli's outstretched fingertips. The entire room was a wreck. Puli was aware that his fingers were stiff and aching, and that he had wet himself.
Then, behind him, the quivering rasp of Frank Oliveras' voice sounded off with a seemingly endless stream of solemn obscenities.
That desk back there was splintered beyond belief. It was a miracle that Oliveras was alive to cuss about it.
And another miracle was quickly borne in on Joey Puli's trembling awareness—he, Joey Puli, was a very, very lucky man. He had lived through two hits by the most fearsome son of a bitch in Puli's dark world.
The Executioner had come to Hawaii.
And the bastard was on the rampage.CHAPTER 2
The evening was just beginning to swing at the Oahu Cove, a gaudy supper club which was operated in conjunction with the apartment complex owned by Frank Oliveras. Headlining the entertainment at the club for "the third big week" was the man who'd become accustomed to being billed as "the hottest comic in the land," Tommy Anders. It was the first time since Vegas that these two trails had crossed, and Bolan had mixed feelings about this occasion. It was nice to see old friends, sure—but friends had an uncomfortable facility for becoming liabilities to a one-man army; Bolan had learned to shun personal contacts whenever possible. This one seemed necessary, however.
He had changed into casual evening wear and was seated at a back table at Oahu Cove as the comic concluded his first show of the night. Anders was a satirist and had come a long way poking fun at the nation's ethnic sensitivities. He hadn't changed a bit since Vegas.
"I'm not no ethnician—I'm just a lost wop without a Godfather—but I gotta say it, these people here in Five-Oh state are beating the devil with his own stick. It's a majority of minorities here, and I don't believe these people even know the difference anymore. They've got a Jap in the state house, a Chinaman in Congress, and a Polynesian in their supreme court. How ridiculous can you get? They're men! Every one of them. Chauvinist minority pigs! Why the hell don't they send some hula girls to Congress? A little grass shack up on Capitol Hill—what's wrong with that? I'm telling you—I'm not no ethnician, but ... Prostitution used to be legal, back when this state was a territory. That came in somewhere between the missionaries and the Honolulu Hilton—back during those great old days of WASP rule, remember Pearl Harbor, and Mamie Stover. Now that they got home rule with a majority of minorities running things, the only lay a guy can get on this island is the one they hang around your neck when you arrive. Everything's illegal now. You can't even pee on the beach without getting fined. Pers'nally I don't care. Like I say, I'm not no ethnician—and all this law and order sets things up perfectly for my people. I don't care who they put in politics in this country as long as everybody understands that it's the Italians who are really running things. This is Tommy Anders, also known in dark alleys as Guiseppe Androsepitone, proudly saying good night and may the Godfather smile on you all."
Excerpted from Hawaiian Hellground by Don Pendleton. Copyright © 1975 Pinnacle Books, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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