Mack Bolan has spent a lifetime crisscrossing the country, taking the Mafia apart piece by piece. Occasionally, this solitary crusader has found allies—strong-willed fighters who hate the Mafia just as much as he does but who prefer to do battle inside the law. Lately, several of them have joined up with the Sensitive Operations Group, a top-secret task force devoted to unconventional crime fighting. Bolan never considered joining the team, but when two of his oldest friends are captured by the mob, the Executioner will fight alongside Uncle Sam to get them back.
Carl Lyons and Smiley Dublin were last seen in Nashville, the country music capital and stronghold for the Dixie Mafia. In Music City, Bolan will teach the mob to play a different tune—a song of mayhem, violence, destruction and death.
Tennessee Smash is the 32nd book in the Executioner series, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
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The Executioner, Book Thirty-two
By Don Pendleton
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1978 Don Pendleton
All rights reserved.
He was rigged for soft penetration—clad in black skintights, lightly armed with the silent Beretta as head weapon, a Crossman air pistol, stiletto and garrotes—hands and face blackened for maximum invisibility.
The target was a nondescript warehouse, undistinguished from the many others in this active riverport, squatting gloomily in the deep darkness of the witching hour. A feeble luminescence glowed dimly from dirtied windows at the upper level; a naked yellow bulb outside the office door provided a small area of minimal relief from the inky night. To all outward appearances, Delta Importers was slumbering like most others in the Port of Memphis.
Mack Bolan knew better.
He moved in on the target as a soundless extension of the night, combat senses flaring through the atmospheres of that enemy turf in an effort to encompass all that might be lying there in wait. The lone security guard was an easy take. Bolan found him in his rounds, at the back corner of the building. He kissed him quietly with a silent dart from the Pellgun and left him there in tranquil sleep.
So far, so good—but the man in black grimaced as he consulted the wrist chronometer. It was to be a tight mission, with everything riding on the proper fall of the numbers.
Out over the river a nightbird called softly and dipped in flight to follow the track of an unwary prey. Eastward, the hushed sprawl of the city sent neon advertisements to form a faint aura overhead; but here all was blackness.
Bolan knelt motionless at the wall of the building, eyes intent upon the wrist—watching the numbers fall. He was not at all comfortable with this mission-not sure, even, in its very concept. But ... it was committed, now. He sent a quick flick of the eyes northward as though they would perhaps reveal what the ears had not—wondering, as he did so, if he were the biggest fool alive.
No, he was not at all comfortable.
And perhaps he would not be the biggest fool alive for very long. But the moment had arrived and he was stuck with it. It was not a time for doubts. So he brushed the doubts aside and pushed off to follow his numbers to their uncertain conclusion.
The roof was a cinch. He gained it with a bound, a swing, and a soft wriggle—then went on without pause to the skylight, which mission briefing had assured him would be another cinch. It was not. The wooden framing was rotted and swollen, threatening to dissolve in his hands at first touch. He went to work at the heavy glass with his stiletto, easing it out inch by breathless inch, until there was sufficient purchase with the bare hands to lift it clear.
Hell yawned up at him from that black hole.
According to the blueprints, it would be a twelve-foot drop to the floor of a storage loft—empty, supposedly. That would have been a cinch, also, if he could have lowered himself by hand to drop free the remainder of the relatively short distance. The rotten wood foreclosed that idea.
So this was where it really got ticklish.
He opted to risk the penlight for a quick flash into those depths. The loft was empty, right—but it looked more like fifteen feet than twelve, and there was no way to determine the strength of that dusty flooring.
The decision came with typical swiftness.
Bolan dropped to a crouch and pushed off with one hand, knees almost touching the chest as he dropped through the opening in the roof and entered free fall. Fifteen feet, yeah. The touchdown came with a bit more impact and noise than he was willing to settle for, even using knees and ankles to maximum cushioning effect. The old flooring swayed and groaned under the sudden weight—but it held—and Bolan whispered a thanks to kindly providence as he upholstered the Beretta and moved softly to the door.
He held there, frozen, ears straining for sign of reaction from below. Frozen moments, held together by the beating of his heart and the certain knowledge that all hearts stop beating sooner or later, for one reason or another, despite all efforts to the contrary.
He was inside a Mob powder factory.
If the intel was accurate, a full crew of chemists were at that moment busily refining and packaging a large shipment of raw heroin from Central America—under the watchful eyes of at least a dozen heavy torpedoes under one Dandy Jack Clemenza, reputed new heroin king of the Western Hemisphere.
The shipment which had arrived that very day was said to have a value of 22 million dollars after Clemenza's chemists finished stepping on it—and the streets were said to be hungry for the stuff.
So, sure, it was a big day in Memphis. And Bolan had no illusions whatever concerning the "security" for the affair, despite the easy look outside. According to the intel, each of Dandy Jack's hardmen would be toting automatic weapons and the boss himself would be right there until the last bag was sealed and the re-shipment completed.
So much for all that. Apparently none had heard Bolan's heavy entrance. He easily defeated the locking mechanism of the flimsy door and moved quietly onto the open loft. Below and directly across from his position was the area of major activity, the proceedings taking place in semidarkness and stealthy silence. Several long tables supported a surprisingly professional-looking array of laboratory equipment—bunsens, beakers, the whole bit. Ten white-coated men wearing filter masks manned the "laboratory" while in the background of semidarkness faceless stoics hovered in business suits and casually dangling submachine guns.
Clemenza himself sat at a table at the end of the line—weighing, packaging, and labelling the precious finished product.
The only light in the place was that provided at the tables—a small high intensity lamp for each of the chemists, plus two for the boss.
No one talked, except in grunts and monosyllables concerning the business at hand. Bolan counted eight gunners—and wondered if there were more and where they might be. The gossip placed them at an even dozen-but of course those things were often exaggerated.
He stood in frozen silence and watched his numbers tumbling away into infinite nowhere, looking for a handle and hoping for a miracle. Ten minutes moved like hours as he watched and waited, then fifteen ... and then came the handle. One of the chemists raised his head and said something in a muffled grunt to Clemenza. The heroin king snapped a reply heavy with displeasure. The guy got up and walked away, the filter still in place over his nose and mouth. A gunner fell in behind the guy. Both disappeared at the edge of darkness. Bolan heard a toilet flush moments later.
And, yeah, there was the handle.
He watched the two reappear and take their places, then he made his move—maneuvering cautiously down the creaky stairway and blending quietly into the deeper shadows as he made his way across the no man's land and into the lighter area across the way.
The toilet was a mere closet, set into the corner of the building, forward. The door was latticed and the yellowish light filtering through was just enough to serve as a beacon to those in need in the darkness.
The man in black had a need of his own. He took a tactical position in the darkness and settled in to wait the need of others.
The wait was not so long, this time. Bolan had barely settled in when footsteps approached—two pair, moving casually—then a white coat materialized in the escaped light from the toilet—a tall, skinny guy—mask removed from the hawkish face and riding the throat. Right on his heels was the armed keeper, a real ironman complete with scowl and swagger.
"What's the matter with that guy?" the chemist growled quietly. "When you gotta, you gotta. Right?"
"The man is always right," replied the other—the voice flat, utterly devoid of emotion. "What you tell me, you're telling him."
They'd come to a halt, not an arm's length removed from Mack Bolan.
"I just meant—"
"He's right. You should shit on your own time. What's the beef? He told you okay, didn't he? So okay." Emotion crept in then. "Do it. And don't take all night."
The man in the white coat sneered and went on to the toilet. The guy with the burper slung the piece at his shoulder and went for a cigarette—probably as glad for the break as the other guy.
Bolan waited for the lighter to flare, then said very quietly, from about three feet out, "Hold the light, eh?"
Those startled eyes flared in double-take and the guy choked on the inhalation as he tried to do too many things with too little time. The lighter dropped toward the floor, both hands fought the other over the strap of the burper, the glowing cigarette fell into the jacket, and the guy never got his breath back. A hand of real iron crushed the fragile windpipe as another bent the spine into an impossible contortion. He was a dead man even before his lighter reached the floor—and both man and submachine gun were over the Bolan shoulder and moving quickly into the blackness of the warehouse before the man in the toilet could remove his white coat.
The corpse was stashed and the Executioner was at the door as the coat was coming off. The guy never saw what had come for him. A two-hand chop at either side of the neck sat the guy down and shuttered the eyes without so much as a gasp of understanding.
Bolan tugged the coat back into position and secured the sash, then hoisted the unconscious man to his shoulder. Satisfied, now, that the most direct route was the best route, he headed straight for the front door, threw the double bolts, and stepped into the little security room which marked the final obstacle to a successful mission.
The guy in the room had both feet on the desk, a Schmeisser one lunge away. Both feet crashed to the floor as he tried for it—a mere heartbeat removed from instant fame and glory, but a heartbeat too late.
The Beretta spat once from the doorway, chugging its silent skullbuster toward a bone-shattering denial of fame and glory. The guy fell back into the chair and stayed there, the broken head slumped limply over the backrest.
Bolan rolled chair and all into the darkened interior of the building, then got the hell out of there with his prisoner. As he rejoined the night, he knew that it had been a successful mission. But he did not know what lay at the end of the numbers. And he had not yet reached that end. He jogged along with his burden, heading due north and into God knew what.
He still was not comfortable with this mission.
He still did not know what lay beyond the mission numbers. One thing he knew for sure, though. Whoever wore the spurs, Dandy Jack Clemenza was in for a decidedly undandy night. And that was enough right there to make the whole thing worthwhile.
Even if it should turn out that the spurs were into Bolan as well.CHAPTER 2
The rendezvous point was a thousand feet due north of Delta Importers. The site was a ramshackle building awaiting demolition.
The nuttiest part of all was that Bolan did not know whom to expect to find there. There were no lights, no sounds of life about the place. He halted at twenty feet out and lowered his burden to the ground as he softly called out, "Okay, here's your package."
A shadow figure detached itself from the side of the building and moved slowly forward.
Bolan growled, "That's far enough."
The figure halted. A small flashlight came on to illuminate the face of "Young David" Ecclefield.
He was honcho of a federal task force operating out of Atlanta—or, at least, that had been his role several Bolan lifetimes ago. They had worked together then, quietly, as obviously they were doing now.
Bolan sighed and called over, "This has to be clean, David. Just the way I set it up."
"It's clean," came the strained reply. "You have the goods?"
"I have the goods," Bolan assured the fed. The guy started to move forward again. Bolan halted him with a tight: "Stay there. Pick it up when you see my back, not before. Here's a scouting report. It's exactly the way the briefing called it. Except I count only nine gunners. Two of those have been scratched."
"I agreed to keep it as soft as possible. That's as soft as it would go. There's a Pinkerton or something out back, sleeping off a tranquilizer. You'd best count on two or three gunners concealed somewhere on board with automatics."
"Okay. Thanks." The voice was wry, strained. "What about Dandy Jack?"
"You're sure you have the goods?"
"I'm sure," Bolan said quietly. "There should be enough powder on this guy's clothing to make a dozen cases. That's the idea, isn't it?"
"That's the idea," Ecclefield replied, sighing. "Wait!-I have a late request."
"Someone wants to talk to you. Someone high. They're on their way now. Can you wait a few more minutes?"
"I can," Bolan said. "But you can't. They'll be missing this guy and the other two. You have no numbers to waste."
"I'll withdraw. Take your goods and seal it good. I'll be around. Tell your VIPs to show themselves. I'll find them."
The fed tossed him a little salute. Bolan faded to a tactical holding point and watched from the enshrouding darkness as two guys swept around Ecclefield and hurried over to the fallen prisoner. They hefted the chemist between them and quickly bore him away.
Ecclefield stood there for a moment longer, staring quietly toward the point where Bolan had stood. Then he turned abruptly and followed the others.
So. It had worked out okay, despite all the misgivings. Less than five minutes had elapsed since the purloined chemist requested permission to use the toilet. As intent as all those people had been in their business, it seemed unlikely that anyone would immediately begin to wonder about the time.
Bolan knew that fifty heavily armed federal marshals were waiting somewhere out there in the darkness—and this fact had given him the greatest pause. Bolan himself was the most wanted man in the country. Therefore he did not casually accept temporary truces with the police establishment. Regardless of who was wearing the badge, there was always that possibility.... Even Ecclefield had not proven himself 100 percent reliable in Bolan's eyes—though certainly the blitzer would have felt much better about the operation from the start if he had known who would be running it.
Besides the SWAT-type marshals waiting out there, Bolan knew also that there would be a special van carrying a couple of official chemists and a federal judge. They were going for broke this time. Probable cause, search warrants, the whole bit—they meant to bust Clemenza in the act and they meant to make it stand up in court. The thing had been pitched to Bolan by Hal Brognola himself—the nation's top cop—which gave an indication of how badly they wanted Dandy Jack. Even so, Bolan had been a bit surprised to find Ecclefield running the show. He had expected to find a team of cloak-and-dagger Narcs. Of course, they wanted Clemenza for many more social outrages than dealing in dope. One handle was probably as good as another, if it would put the guy on ice for a few years.
But Bolan had felt all along that there was more to this operation than he'd been told.
And now he was awaiting some sort of tete à tete with a couple of exotics—from Wonderland, probably.
He sensed movements in the darkness—stealthy, purposeful—and knew that the hit teams were already moving into position against Delta Importers.
He tossed them a mental God keep and wondered how much longer he had to wait around. The deal with Brognola was that Bolan would be clear and running free before the fireworks started. If he could not control a situation—fully, his own way—then he preferred to be apart from it. Once the firing started, there would be reactions from far and wide—police reactions, specifically. That feeling of discomfort began edging back into the Bolan gut. He put a mental mark on his chronometer, representing the outer moment for Mack Bolan on this turf. No sooner had he done that than the fireworks began: the chattering of automatic weapons away in the distance, sudden luminescence in the heavens as pyrotechnic flares lit the night, power-amplified voices wafting along in the night breezes.
It was going down.
And Bolan could see it all with his mental vision, but that was suddenly prepempted by a physical stimulation—a movement of the night, a mere shifting of shadows in the vicinity of the rendezvous point.
Working that direction in a wary circle he found his "exotics" standing stiffly in the darkness outside the shack. There were two of them, a man and a woman—a little guy wearing the threads of a rhinestone cowboy and a curvaceous blonde in a leather miniskirt and cowboy boots.
Even with the darkness and the weird costumes, Bolan recognized them instantly, from vibrations as much as anything else.
The "high ups" were none other than ethnician Tommy Anders, hottest comic in the land, and the one and only Toby Ranger—God's answer to the lonely heart in every man.
Excerpted from Tennessee Smash by Don Pendleton. Copyright © 1978 Don Pendleton. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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