Seize the Day (Rogue Warrior Series)by Richard Marcinko, Jim DeFelice
When Marcinko’s “friend,” the head of the CIA, asks him to spend a little quality time in Cuba, the Rogue Warrior finds there’s no way to say no. Once there, Marcinko and company discover that Fidel Castro is on his deathbed. Which wouldn’t be so bad, except that he’s planned a catastrophic surprise for the U.S. as his going-away
When Marcinko’s “friend,” the head of the CIA, asks him to spend a little quality time in Cuba, the Rogue Warrior finds there’s no way to say no. Once there, Marcinko and company discover that Fidel Castro is on his deathbed. Which wouldn’t be so bad, except that he’s planned a catastrophic surprise for the U.S. as his going-away present. The Rogue Warrior must find out the nature of that little surprise and thwart it before Castro kicks the bucket.
“If you're on a tight schedule, I'll give you fair warning: Do not pick up Rogue Warrior: Dictator's Ransom, because once you start reading you won't be able to stop! It's a rare treat to read a thriller that is uproariously, gloriously and unrepentantly hilarious.” David Hagberg, USA Today bestselling author of Dance With the Dragon on Rogue Warrior: Dictator's Ransom
“Marcinko is the real McCoy, a warrior who has lived it.” Stephen Coonts, New York Times bestselling author of The Assassin
“[T]he most colorful, hell-raising, bomb-throwing ex-SEAL commander of them all.” Playboy
Read an Excerpt
Rogue Warrior: Seize the Day
By Richard Marcinko, Jim DeFelice
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2009 Richard Marcinko and Jim DeFelice
All rights reserved.
People always say it's who you know that matters.
Let me tell you, children, it's not who you know, it's who you look like.
This is especially important when you're on the roof of the tallest building on the Havana shoreline, hanging off the side by your fingernails while half the Cuban army points AK47s at you.
But we should start at the beginning.
The whys and wherefores of my arrival in Cuba would fill a few hundred pages, and just as surely cure the worst insomnia known to mankind. So let's cut through the bullshit and go to the executive version.
A recent vacation in sunny North Korea had left me so refreshed that I found myself locked away in a hospital ward, in traction and in a foul mood. Unable to spring me, my main squeeze Karen Fairchild nonetheless undertook to nurse me back to health, smuggling in copious amounts of Bombay Sapphire. Thanks to the care of Dr. Bombay, I rallied and managed to leave the hospital before the billing department figured out how to spell my last name.
Karen and I planned a nice Caribbean vacation in celebration. My friend Ken Jones at the CIA had other ideas.
Ken is a former admiral who defected to the Christians in Action, the government agency known to the incredulous as the Central Intelligence Agency. In my experience, it's neither central nor intelligent, though I have to admit that I've never looked to the government to be accurate in anything, let alone naming its various parts.
Ken is the agency's DCI, an abbreviation that I believe stands for director of the Can't-Cunt Inquisitors, though most people who haven't dealt with him say it means director of the CIA.
Ken called me the day I got home from the hospital and asked how I was.
"Admiral, fuck you very much for calling," I said in my pleasant voice. "Doctors say I'm contagious and can't see anyone from the government for at least a decade."
"You're a card, Dick. Let's have a drink."
"Sorry, but I've got a lot of other things to do."
"I was thinking the same thing when the invoice from Red Cell International hit my desk."
It was just like the admiral to bring up money. Red Cell International is my corporate umbrella, the security company that conducts various rogue and not-so-rogue activities across the globe. The CIA owed Red Cell a considerable amount of dough-re-me, including the not insignificant expenses we'd incurred in North Korea. Cash flow being what it was, even a short delay in paying the bills would be a problem: my accountant has three kids in college, and their tuition bills were due.
"You're not trying to blackmail me, are you, Admiral?" I asked.
"Dick, I wouldn't do that. But I do have a lot of work to do. A lot on my plate, so to speak. You could lighten that load with a little favor. A tiny one, actually."
The smaller the favor, the bigger the problem. But Ken wouldn't take no for an answer, and a few hours later I found myself sipping gin with him at his favorite little bar outside of Langley.
Ken stuck to lite beer, a sure sign of trouble.
It took two rounds before he got to the point, reaching into his jacket pocket for a pair of photos that he laid on the table. One was a recent picture of yours truly snapped somewhere in what we used to call the Mysterious Orient before we all got PC religion and switched to more acceptable terms like "the asshole pit of Asia." Shot somewhere in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, the picture showed me with my beard more kempt than normal, though from the glint in my eye I knew I must have been enjoying myself, probably by planning what I would do to one of my government escorts when I didn't have to be polite anymore.
The other photo showed me in a more relaxed moment: face flushed, eyes bugging out, teeth poised for blood. It would have made a lovely yearbook shot.
Except it wasn't me. Ken reached into his jacket for another shot, showing me that it was actually an enlargement from a group photo. The group shot revealed that the florid face belonged to a man who favored starched puke-green fatigues, a clothing choice that has never agreed with me.
"Recognize him?" asked Ken.
"We were separated at birth," I said, handing the photos back. "After the doctor dropped him on his head."
The great thing about Ken is that he has exactly no sense of humor, and it took him quite a while to figure out if I was joking or not. Which was my cue to leave, though I didn't take it.
The man in the photo was Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, dictator par deviance of Cuba. At the time, he was said to be ailing, though a dictator's health is never something you can count on. The favor Ken wanted was deceptively simple, as they always are: impersonate Fidel on a special tape el Presidente was leaving as his last will and testament. I didn't even have to talk — the words had been carefully spliced together by the CIA's technical dweebs. All I had to do was look menacing and pretend to rant for the camera.
"Do what comes naturally," said Ken. "Pretend you're talking to our accounting division about where your check is."
I suppose before going any further I should mention that I've had a warm spot in my heart and other body parts for the Cuban people. Most Cubans I know are expatriates, but I think even those still on the island are, as a general rule, happy, loving people who make loyal and open friends. They're certainly warm and gracious to strangers. The women are pretty, for sure; they're rarely demanding and are grateful for small favors and a little bit of attention.
In my experience, of course.
Fidel ... Well, maybe at one time his heart was in the right place, but his brain and ass just couldn't provide. After he took power, rats replaced the chickens in every pot. Anyone who opposed him was imprisoned, tortured, and worse.
Before this op, I'd been to Cuba many times, but with one exception always to Gitmo — our base at Guantanamo. It may surprise you to know that a good number of Cubans work there. They were "shaken down" every night when they crossed back to go home — the government was anxious for any tiny rewards they might have reaped. Kind of a shame to watch.
The one exception I mentioned was a short stay in Havana. And then, of course ... well, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.
* * *
I taped the bit a few days after talking to Ken, reporting at 0600 to what looked like an abandoned warehouse building in northeastern Virginia. I took two of my associates with me — Trace Dahlgren and Matthew "Junior" Loring. Junior's one of our technical experts, and was along to help me pick out some gear from a vendor we use who happens to be located a few miles from the taping site. Trace was along allegedly to help make sure we got the right stuff, but really to make faces at me while I was taping.
We were met at the door by a little old gray-haired man wearing a barber's smock. He smiled when he saw me, nodded to himself, then led me across the dimly lit foyer to a thick steel door. Beyond the door was a studio that would make the folks at the Today show jealous. The dressing room was twice the size of my office, with thick wood paneling, a pair of overstuffed leather couches, another half-dozen chairs of various but expensive description, and — especially important to Junior and Trace — a table laden with a variety of breakfast goodies.
"What, no omelet station?" snarked Trace.
"Scrambled eggs here," said the barber, showing her the tray. "If that's not all right —"
"It's more than all right," I said. "Pay no attention to her. She has PNS."
(No, it's not a typo — Permanent Nasty Syndrome.)
Trace gave me a scowl, then started force-feeding Junior donuts in an attempt to add a little weight to his scarecrowlike frame. I left them to divvy up the goodies while I donned a slightly wrinkled set of green army fatigues for my star turn. After that, the barber took me next door to a room that looked like a 1950s version of the perfect barbershop. A makeup artist — thirty-something, blond, neck with the scent of ripe strawberries — stood next to a counter that looked to contain every cosmetic product known to woman.
"Sit, sit," the barber told me. "You are a very good likeness. You're not related, no?"
"A good thing." The barber flipped on the television on the counter. Fidel's face filled the screen. I studied his mannerisms, watching the way he furled his eyebrows and puffed out his cheeks as he ranted about bourgeoisie Yankees trying to impose democracy on the world.
Meanwhile, the barber went to work, trimming my hair and dying it gray. One thing Ken hadn't made clear: I had to give my ponytail for my country. Seeing as how I've sacrificed just about every other part of my body, I suppose losing a little hair was no big deal.
When the barber was done, the makeup artist daubed a little bit of makeup around my eyes, adding some aging lines and liver spots. She worked for about fifteen minutes, fussing like Michelangelo finishing the Sistine Chapel.
When I looked over at the barber, he was frowning.
"You look too much like him, senor." He glanced at his razor on the counter. "If I did not know any better, I would take the razor and ..."
The barber's name was Roberto Traba. He'd escaped from Cuba barely two years before, fleeing with his two grandchildren. He had done this even though he had an excellent job, or I should say because he had an excellent job — he'd been one of Fidel's barbers.
Traba had worked for years in a small shop at the western edge of Havana, well liked by his customers but unknown to the world at large. One day, El Comandante en Jefe — Fidel — decided he wanted his hair cut. His regular barber was sick, his backup at the wedding of a daughter.
Fidel's hair couldn't wait. One of his aides had heard of Traba ... a bodyguard was sent to the shop, where a dozen customers were sitting, discussing the chances of the local baseball team in the island playoffs while Traba worked. The bodyguard hung a CLOSED sign in the window, shooed the half-finished customer from the chair, and brought Traba to the dictator's house a few miles away.
Traba did his work quickly and efficiently. The dictator liked him, and a few weeks later he was called back for a trim. From that point on, he worked for Fidel every other week.
Without pay, of course. For a barber should be happy to be in the presence of the world's greatest man, and not worry about the revenue he missed by having to close his shop in the middle of the week.
Had the arrangement remained the same, Traba would not have minded it very much. True, after a while the honor of being so close to the country's leader grew stale, and he had to listen to el Jefe's endless rants on everything from Yankee imperialism to the poor hitting of the Cuban national baseball team. But resigning such a post was not easy, and Traba would never have seriously considered doing so had the head barber not met with an untimely accident.
An accident in the home, the day after Fidel had railed about being nicked by the barber's careless razor.
The accident involved a loaded gun. Traba knew the head barber well enough to know that the man had an unnatural fear of heights, tight spaces, and guns, and would have nothing to do with any of them. What was especially curious was the fact that the previous head barber had met with a similar accident.
Traba was promoted to head barber on a Tuesday. On Wednesday, he began to look for a way to escape Cuba.
It was not simply a case of self-preservation. Three years before, his daughter had died; he and his wife had taken her two babies, aged one and three at the time. Traba's wife had passed away the following year, and now he was the girls' sole guardian.
Traba tried in vain for months to find a way to leave. He sought out boat owners, spoke to shady men who promised to get him a European passport, even studied a translation of Mark Twain's Huck Finn for information on how to build a raft. Then fate dropped opportunity in his lap: Fidel planned a visit to the Dominican Republic, and wanted his barber to accompany him.
Traba suggested that he go ahead of time, to survey the facilities at the television station where Fidel was to appear. Fidel agreed. The barber asked a favor — could he bring his granddaughters? It might be very educational for them.
Fidel waved his hand, signifying yes. Still, it took two weeks to win official approval from the bureaucrats, securing the places on the plane. Traba put the time to good use, calling in every favor and every hint of a favor he had ever earned in his forty-some years of cutting hair. Within two hours of landing in the Dominican, he and his granddaughters were in a boat halfway to Puerto Rico.
"I am very lucky," Traba told me. "I am sure that now I would be dead, and my grandchildren orphans."
"How are the kids now?"
"The best students. The best. I have only one regret ..."
"What's that?" asked Trace.
"My brother is still in Cuba," said the barber. "They have made things very hard for him."
"They put him in jail?" asked Junior.
"No. That far, they haven't gone. They would not, I don't think, so long as he doesn't break the law. But they might as well have. In some ways, it is worse."
Traba's brother had been a baker in Havana. His job had been taken from him, and his apartment; he now lived in a small village on the south side of the island, alone. It was exceedingly difficult for Traba to contact him. Practically no one he knew in Cuba would risk carrying a message, because to do so risked angering the authorities.
"It could be worse. He could be in the mountains." Traba shook his head. "But he can't find work. Of course not. The government keeps tabs on him. The security police tell everyone not to be friends. It is a sad story."
"Why don't you get him out?" asked Junior.
Traba gave him a sad look, the sort of smile an older man gives a much younger one when he still has many painful lessons to learn.
"To get someone out of Cuba, especially one who's watched. Not easy."
Junior looked over at me, and I knew exactly what he was thinking. It was the same thing Trace was thinking. She started pumping Traba for more information about his brother, where he lived, and whether he truly wanted to get off the island.
"Are you asking these questions for a reason?" the barber said finally. "Are you in a position to help him?"
"No," I said. "She isn't. And neither am I."
Trace's eyes practically burned a hole in the side of my skull.
"That's OK," said Traba, with the barest hint of disappointment. He undid the sheet covering my clothes, snapping it in the air as he took it away. "If ever I can do anything for you, call this number," he added, slipping me his business card.
I frowned, furrowing my eyebrows as I'd seen Fidel do in the tape. "Gracias."
Traba looked for a moment as if he'd seen a ghost.
"Too much like him," he said, shaking his head. "Too much."
I played Dictator Karaoke for an hour, and we were done. Traba and the makeup artist were gone when the shooting was over; I cleaned up my face, but left the gray highlights in my hair — it's always nice to see the future.
"We really should figure a way to help out Mr. Traba," said Junior as we headed toward the highway. "His brother's kinda screwed."
"Not kinda. Is," said Trace.
"Tell you what, next time you're in Cuba, you can look him up," I said.
"How about you smuggle him out?" asked Junior. "It'd be pretty easy for you."
"I'm not going to Cuba," I told him.
Junior looked like a puppy who's just been told not to pee on his water dish.
"We can't rescue every person living in Cuba," I told him.
"I wasn't talking about every person in Cuba, just the old dude's brother."
"If we were going to Cuba," said Trace, "it wouldn't be a bad idea."
"But we're not going to Cuba."
The video I'd made was pressed onto a pair of DVD discs. These were supposed to be smuggled into Cuba, where another courier would take them to yet another operative; none of the transporters would know what they were taking.
The smuggler was a Spanish businessman who had a well-paying sideline as a paid CIA agent. The only problem was that he had another sideline as an informant for the Cuban government — something the CIA discovered roughly twelve hours before he was supposed to pick up the discs.
The Christians in Action have never been very good at dealing with a curveball, but in this case they had a backup plan, and a backup to that, and even a backup to that.
Backup plan number two fizzled when the courier, a Canadian national, got cold feet. So the Christians went to door number three, tapping a Dominican national who'd done various odd jobs for them in the past. He was all set to pick up the discs until he got arrested and thrown in jail.
Which is what tends to happen to drug smugglers.
The CIA would have gladly sprung him from an American jail. But he was arrested in Saba, an island that is part of the Netherlands Antilles and thus under Dutch control. And while the Dutch tend to take a relatively lax view about illegal drug smuggling — even several tons of it, concealed among semifresh flowers shipped out of Colombia — they weren't willing to turn a blind eye to the fact that he had killed two Dutch police agents while resisting arrest.
Excerpted from Rogue Warrior: Seize the Day by Richard Marcinko, Jim DeFelice. Copyright © 2009 Richard Marcinko and Jim DeFelice. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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.
Meet the Author
RICHARD MARCINKO is a living, breathing herohe was honored with the silver star and four bronze stars for valor, along with two Navy Commendation medals. After serving in Vietnam, he started and commanded SEAL Team 6, the Navy’s anti-terrorist group, and Red Cell, a high-level anti-terrorist unit whose exploits, fictionalized for security and legal reasons, have formed the basis of his novels. Besides an active speaking and consulting calendar, Marcinko keeps his hand in the field as the president of a private international security company. He lives in Warrington, Virginia.
JIM DeFELICE is the author of many military based thriller novels and is a frequent collaborator with Stephen Coonts, Larry Bond, and Richard Marcinko, among other New York Times bestselling authors. His solo novels include Leopards Kill, Threat Level Black, Coyote Bird, War Breaker, and My Brother's Keeper. He lives in New York.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Maybe it's the fact that I'm getting older and have more military experience than I had when I was younger and read his earlier books. The problem is that there is just way too much bravado in this book. I'm half-way through and I'm tired of all the machismo. Real Operators are called "Quiet Professionals" for a reason. Yes, there is camaraderie and razor-sharp insulting and joke-making, but this is over the top; especially with a a pieced-together contractor team. I just can't buy into it. With all of that in mind, you still might like it. If you enjoy Hollywood movies about tactical action, then you will probably like this. I choose to remember this series for the original book Redcell. You should definitely read that one. I certainly respect Marcinko for his contributions to the US and for his success as a private consultant, I just think the story could be a lot sharper.
He gives you insight on the true colors of our lovely American government... hence my sarcasm.
In this the latest in the "Rogue Warrior" series we see Demo Dick Marcinko taking on Castro. With the fast paced action we've become accustomed to from Marcinko, we are lead down many dark and twisted plots and streets. Action packed as only the legendary SEAL Commander (in real life) Marcinko can do. You'll find the plot easy to believe almost like something you'd expect in tomorrow's news. It is easy to see why Marcinko calls his writing "Prediction Fiction." Marcinko introduces a new character to us in Matthew Loring who looks like he make take some of the weight off Marcinko's shoulders.
This is a series of operations that the author has fun with. He uses lots of acronymns and nicknames and has a real good time getting to the point of the story. The plot is really irrelevant as it is the ops that are of interest. If they weren't so endless I might have enjoyed this book a little more.