After more than thirty campaigns, Mack Bolan has brought the cosa nostra to its knees. The syndicate is in tatters—its soldiers dead, its bosses terrified, its money all but gone. The US government, believing that organized crime is no longer a threat, begs Bolan to join the fight against international terrorism as head of a secretive task force that answers only to the president. But before he can end his war against the mob, Bolan must be certain of total victory. In six days he will finish the Mafia once and for all—or he will finally die trying.
He starts in Louisville, where some of the most powerful bosses in the country have gathered to make a last-ditch stand against the Executioner. But before he can destroy them, Bolan must rescue their prisoner: a beautiful woman named April Rose, who will change his life forever.
Monday’s Mob is the 33rd book in the Executioner series, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
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The Executioner, Book Thirty-three
By Don Pendleton
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1978 Don Pendleton
All rights reserved.
The crosshairs of the sniperscope were centered on the hood ornament of a gleaming Cadillac El Dorado. A dozen or so other luxury cars surrounded the El Dorado, including several more Cadillacs in varied styles, a Mercedes, a couple of Continentals.
Pulled up in front and probably awaiting a load was an empty semitrailer transporter.
A large metal building in the near background was the recycling center for the largest stolen car operation west of New York. This one happened to be nestled in the gentle hills of northwest Kentucky, just outside Louisville.
The tall man in black with the cool eye at the scope had watched as six "refurbished" vehicles rolled from the building to the loading yard during the past hour alone. It did not require a math whiz to compute the value of that one-hour production at somewhere around a hundred thousand dollars. Judging from the size of the building in which the refurbishing was taking place, the twenty-four-hour operation could easily produce six cars per hour right around the clock.
There had not been time to fully scout the operation but the pre-intelligence suggested a typical major recycle. Freelancers would bring in the stolen product—probably most of it from the surrounding states of Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia—for something like ten cents on the dollar, market value, maybe a bit more for highly favored models. Night deliveries, probably. The standard plant time for each vehicle would average no more than a few hours for cleaning, touchup paint, a general cosmetic renewal, new serial numbers and counterfeit paperwork.
Bolan had been hearing rumors about this particular "plant" for months and had stumbled onto some fresh input while in Tennessee. Wholesalers Car Refinishers, Inc. was fronted by one Benjamin Davis, a "legitimate" businessman of Louisville. Real owner: Carmine Tuscanotte's Underwriters' Salvage Services, Inc.—an Illinois firm that came under the larger umbrella of North American Investment Services Corporation, which was owned jointly by Tuscanotte and Chicago hood James "Jimmy the Jump" Altorise. Included under that umbrella were a score or more of closely related enterprises such as used car dealerships in more than a dozen states, finance companies, collection agencies, auto wholesalers and transporters, a couple of auction yards.
It was a sweet setup, yeah, and the illicit profits astronomical. The up-front losers were, of course, the nation's insurance companies. Perhaps many people would shed no tears over that. But insurance companies never lose. The ultimate loser was the American motoring public—for whom the insurance premiums kept soaring higher and higher.
Bolan knew that organized auto theft was milking billions each year from the U.S. economy-and that was concern enough, right there, of course—but his interest of the moment was not with auto theft but with the personalities bankrolling this particular operation. Both Tuscanotte and Altorise had "gone cool" recently, abandoning their usual haunts and submerging from both public and underworld view. The Chicago outfit had been in turmoil for a long time, hardly recovering from Bolan's strike there before being torn by internal strife as inevitably the younger turks began jockeying for the reins of power.
So the enemy had engaged itself in Illinois. Bolan had kept interested tabs on the developments in that area. His recent paralyzing strike on the national headquarters in New York had produced strong secondary effects in the Midwest—perhaps inspiring the rash of gangland hits in and around Chicago as uneasy Mafiosi moved to protect their flanks.
There was no doubt whatever that Chicago remained the nerve center for organized crime in the nation's midsection. But the scene there was too chaotic. Bolan's personal feeling was that the real powers remaining behind the Chicago Mob had dispersed themselves to the hinterlands—lying low and cooling it while the street bosses fought it out for control of the petty territories.
This was precisely why Mack Bolan was seated on a hillside in Kentucky, contemplating the probably effect of a quick blow to a multimillion dollar car-theft ring.
He sighed with real regret as he chambered a hefty round into the impressive Weatherby .460 and took a final scan through the scope. The sun was about ten minutes into the sky, behind him. Several hundred feet below and about a quarter-mile away, the overhead door of the building was opening to disgorge another gleamingly "refinished" Cadillac. He found the hood ornament with the crosshairs, then made a calculated adjustment to an imaginary mark beneath that hood as he squeezed into the pull.
The big round tore through polished metal and found vital involvement somewhere thereunder. The car lurched, wheezed, and died directly beneath the overhead door, black smoke immediately puffing out through the grillwork. He gave her a couple more in unhurried search as the driver broke clear and ran for cover deeper inside the building. The third round from the big Weatherby evidently found the desired mark as a small explosion sprung the engine hood and sent flames licking over it.
People were scampering about down there, now, in confusion and panic. One guy had grabbed a fire extinguisher and was trying to get some CO2 under the hood of the stricken car. Bolan shook his head and sent that silly guy 500 splattering grains from the Weather-by. The big slug tore through the CO2 cylinder and ripped it from the guy's grasp, inspiring saner thoughts and a quick retreat to the interior.
Flames were beginning to lick the underside of the abandoned car when someone inside the building decided to lower the overhead door. Unfortunately the burning vehicle was in the way; the door had hardly settled onto the roof of the car when her gas tank exploded. The door tumbled from its tracks as the exploding vehicle leapt several yards deeper into the interior of the building, blowing much of her fire into the gasoline-paint-solvent-whatever-laden enclosure.
An immediate chain reaction of explosions marked the effect there as Bolan grinned solemnly and went on with the destruction of the massed vehicles outside.
Round after searing round came down off that hillside in a cooly methodical pattern that soon had every third car in flames, with ensuing firestorms reaching out to envelop the whole yard of expensive automobiles.
The barrel of the Weatherby was too hot to touch when Bolan put her down for an assessment of the strike.
It was enough.
Much more than had been hoped for, actually.
There would be no illicit product yield from this recycling plant today. Indeed, there was no more recycling plant. The whole joint was a roaring inferno, flames leaping spectacularly high through jagged holes in the metal roof, walls bowed and gaping from the intolerable pressures inside. Stunned men in work clothing were crouching in frozen groups at safe distances to watch helplessly as the doomed building devoured itself.
Bolan also watched for a moment, then he retrieved his weapon, turned his back on all that, and strolled to the top of the hill.
A Ford station wagon was parked in the grass there, beside a utility pole. A young woman was perched atop the roof of the wagon, her shapely legs crossed Indian fashion at the ankles, eyes glistening.
"What're you doing up there?" inquired the tall man.
"The view is better," she explained. "Like a ringside seat to the burning of Rome. How'd you do that?"
Bolan ignored the unnecessary question as he stowed the Weatherby. "Did he take it?" he asked the lady.
"Yes, sir, he took it." She detached a small tape recorder from the utility pole and handed the device to Bolan. "He called a number in the 812 area."
"Did the number record?"
Bolan grunted with satisfaction, rewound the tape, and punched the playback. The guy took it, yeah.
"Put him on! Quick!"
"It's Ben Davis, dammit! Put him on!"
"He ain't here, Mr. Davis. You sound—maybe you better let me have it. This's Harry."
Frantically, then, "Harry, we're getting hit!"
Pause; then, "Whattaya mean you—who—what?"
"I don't know! Somebody's shooting us up! The whole place is going up!"
"Is it feds or locals? Because if—"
"It's not a raid, Harry! It's not a damn raid! It's a hit!"
Very quickly, then, "Awright, listen, cool it. Just cool it. Call that deputy and get his ass out there on the double! Save all the stuff you can but get rid of all the paper. Understand me? Burn everything that—"
"I told you, it's already burning! All of it, everything!"
A sudden, inspired thought, then, from 812,
"How much dirty product you got sitting around there, Ben?"
"What? I got—what?"
"You get in there before the firemen come, dammit! Throw acid on everything that's still dirty! You know what I mean!"
Very tiredly, "I know what you mean, Harry. Okay, I'll try. But listen, dammit, we're under fire. Those bastards are gunning us down! Must be a hundred of 'em up in the hills over our head! I want some damn—"
That was the end of the conversation from the Kentucky side. The connection popped and sizzled briefly, then died away completely. The guy at 812 shouted a couple of times into the open line, then hung up muttering.
The girl atop the station wagon beamed brightly at the tall man as she declared, "So that's how you did it. A hundred of you, huh?"
Bolan was rewinding the tape.
"Looks like we're going to Indiana," she observed spritely.
He helped her to the ground. "If that's where 812 is, yeah—that's where we're going."
"It's in central Indiana," the lady informed him. "I mean, the prefix he called. Actually, 812 covers most of the state south of Indianapolis. But that's a Columbus number. Indiana, not Ohio."
Bolan showed her a small smile and said, "Right off the top of your head, huh?"
"Sure. That's what this head is for—isn't it?"
He could think of another use or two for that lovely head. He placed a quick kiss on it and told her, "It's for staying on top of your shoulders, Number One. Remember that. Get in the car."
"We're going to Columbus—right?"
"That's where we're going," he assured the lady.
For damned sure, yeah.
The guy at 812 had to be one Harry "the Apeman" Venturi, chief gunbearer to Carmine Tuscanotte.
And Mack Bolan had not come to the Midwest to make war on automobiles.
He'd come to hang the mark of the beast on Carmine Tuscanotte.CHAPTER 2
The lady had come with the deal. She'd been selected to babysit Bolan's warwagon—the twenty-six-foot GMC motorhome that, beneath that RV exterior, housed a most formidable capability for making war—and she was the one who'd loaded the cruiser aboard the C-130 at an air base in New Mexico for transportation to Louisville.
Bolan had been forced to leave his big cruiser behind when he responded to the urgent summons from Tennessee, but he definitely needed it for the planned six-day romp that would ring down the curtain fully and finally, one way or another, on his war with the Mafia.
As for the lady—she was something else. Something extravagantly else. The name was, believe it or not, April Rose. She looked like anything but. A tall girl and very strikingly put together with flaring hips and exploding bosom—dark, silky hair and luminous eyes—she would have been well received onstage at Moulin Rouge. Brognola had described her as a "project technician"—which could mean most anything, in Brognola's world. According to the data sheet, she held a degree in electronics and had done considerable graduate work in solid-state physics.
"The lady has it all together," Brognola assured Bolan. "She can be a lot of comfort and you're a damn fool if you don't utilize her talents to the fullest."
"Just what are her talents?" Bolan had warily inquired.
"She can run that bloodmobile for you, I'll guarantee that. The lady could write the book on that Buck Rogers communications gear you have in there. That's mainly why she was selected. I was afraid to turn just anybody loose with that stuff. But she's a lot more than a babysitter for computers. Believe it."
"What exactly does she do, Hal?" Bolan persisted.
"Electronic spying," the head fed muttered, and apparently intended to leave it there.
Bolan grinned and allowed the matter to rest, knowing Brognola's sensitivity to the subject. And he trusted the guy's judgment when it came to personnel. He'd built the most impressive domestic security force ever to emerge from the Washington bureaucracy-and the most effective.
Yeah—Bolan trusted Hal Brognola's judgment.
Until he actually put eyes on the lady. By that time, Brognola was back in Washington and April Rose was comfortably ensconced in the warwagon's command chair.
"You don't like what you see," was the lady's first words to Mack Bolan.
This was not entirely true. Even in a baggy military jumpsuit, the lady was a knockout. "I love what I see," he corrected her. "I just don't like where I'm seeing it."
"Would I look more in place flat on my back between satin sheets?" she inquired saucily.
He gave her the level stare as he replied, "Maybe. Look, I-"
"No need to apologize," she said, smiling. "I'm resigned to the reaction. Anyway, I never lay flat on my back."
Bolan could believe that.
But she had not given him much time to think about it.
"I took advantage of the flight time to check out your gear. Where'd you get this stuff? I'd like to meet the person who designed it."
Bolan noted that she did not say the man who designed it.
"It's straight from outer space. Many of these designs have never been released to public use. Most of this stuff is classified. Where'd you get it?"
Bolan said, "Look, I think you—"
"Those optic systems-how did they combine laser principles with infrared illuminators? And this navigation system-you have terrain following together with—"
Bolan growled, "Hey, hey."
She smiled nervously and said, "Okay, so I'm showing off. I always do that when I'm scared. You make me nervous when you look at me like that. Stop scowling, will you? Actually, no, I'm—well, yes I am. I'm scared to death. Mr. Brognola told me who you really are, of course. That was necessary. Oh, don't worry, you're Striker—that's it, that's all, no questions asked-but really ... yes I am scared to death."
He said, "Shut it off. Right now."
She shut it off, dropping those great eyes with a resigned swoop toward the floor between them.
He said, "I've been trying to tell you that you're welcome aboard. The fault is entirely yours if you don't work out. So forget about the male-female thing and just remember that we're making war, not love. I'm the boss—and that has nothing to do with male-female, either. You do what I say when I say it and we'll get along fine. We may even remain alive. Understood?"
"Okay," she replied soberly. "But do we have to scowl all the time?"
He said, "Wear your own face the way you like it and leave me to mine. Anyway, we won't be seeing that much of each other. You'll be staying with the plane until it's time to airlift this rig again."
"That's a mistake."
"It's a mistake. Mr. Brognola warned me that you would—look, if it's not the sex then what is it? I'm a trained operative. I can be a real help to you."
"Trained how?" he inquired, seriously interested.
"Electronic intelligence. I can—"
"Field intelligence? Or are you an incubator baby?"
Color rushed to that lovely face. "I had field problems at the academy. But this is the first practical—"
He asked, "Can you climb a pole?"
She tucked that firm little chin into a pert nod of the head. "Like a monkey."
"Know how to tap into telephone carriers?"
"That's kindergarten stuff."
He sniffed. "It's going to be dangerous as hell."
"I know that."
The Bolan decision was characteristically quick, as much from the gut as from the head. "Okay. We'll try it. But get out of that jumpsuit and into something feminine. Don't downplay that fabulous body. A good soldier uses every tool available."
She was already stripping it off. "What exactly does that mean, Striker?"
He turned his head, more for his own peace of mind than as a concession to modesty. He growled at her, perhaps to cover the effect this lady was having on him. "If you're a good soldier, you'll figure it out for yourself. Just don't ask me to be your conscience. The object is to get the job done and come out alive. That's the whole object."
The technically nude young lady was moving toward the rear of the motorhome. "In which order?"
He growled, "What?"
"You said get the job done and come out alive. If there's a conflict between those two, which comes first?"
She was slithering into a silky, formfitting chemise. And it was quite a form to be fitted. Bolan told her, "That's nice."
She said, "Please note that I brought it with me. Also—you haven't answered my question. Which comes first?"
He very soberly addressed her question. "There's no formula for that decision, April. It comes from the gut, not the head. If your gut is reliable then you'll never have to ponder the question. If it's not, then you're in the wrong line of work."
Excerpted from Monday's Mob by Don Pendleton. Copyright © 1978 Don Pendleton. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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