The Executioner descends on California to destroy the West Coast syndicate once and for all
Yesterday Mack Bolan was in Louisville, dismantling the midwestern crime syndicate drop by bloody drop. The next stop on his six-day rampage is California, where ambitious gangsters have pooled their resources to form a last-ditch coalition known as the California Concept. The Executioner arrives on Tuesday. His intent is to have destroyed the criminal empire by Wednesday.
Bolan starts his battle by rescuing the daughter of a midlevel boss and using her father’s influence to get close to the local mob. The criminal syndicate of California is far healthier than he realized, and its leaders are on the verge of pioneering a high-tech brand of organized crime that could upend life across the United States. It would take the police years to unravel this conspiracy, but Bolan has no time to waste. The killing starts now.
Terrible Tuesday is the 34th book in the Executioner series, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
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The Executioner, Book Thirty-four
By Don Pendleton
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1979 Don Pendleton
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Both were naked. He was a hairy guy of maybe thirty years, lean and well-muscled. She was hardly more than a kid, with silky brown hair all mussed and tangled, the pretty face frozen now in an expressionless mold while the awakening eyes tried to understand what was happening.
The water bed sloshed and undulated as the guy made an angry lunge for the covers.
Bolan shoved him back with a foot on the bare chest and a cold caution. "Huh uh. Stay."
The guy growled a menacing, unintelligible response and glanced nervously at the girl.
He was Terry Fortune—nee Tanto Fortinelli—once apprenticed to primo hitman, Jersey Jake Natti—recently rumored to be a freelance contractor available to any with cash enough—mean as a snake and twice as dangerous.
She was, Bolan hoped, one Darlene McCullough—daughter of a wealthy and politically influential Southern California businessman with strong underworld connections.
The girl was giving Bolan a long, appraising look—apparently unruffled by her exposure to his cold gaze—the eyes dwelling and expanding upon the wicked black Beretta with oversized snout that seemed carved into his big fist.
He instructed her: "Go to the bathroom and get your clothes on."
"Why?" she asked sleepily, still staring at the Beretta.
"Then don't," Bolan said. "I just thought you'd rather not share a bed with a dead man."
The guy shifted his weight uneasily, sending more strong ripples across the surface of the waterbed, worried eyes beginning to search the corners of the room for a solace that was nowhere to be found. "Who sent you?" he inquired in a choked voice.
The girl said, "This isn't necessary."
"We can work it out," the guy quickly added.
"No way," Bolan said quietly as he sent a nine millimeter hole to sprout and gush between Terry Fortune's shocked eyes.
The girl let out a horrified yelp and tumbled from the bed. Bits and pieces of Terry's unfortunate remains had splashed onto her. She was shuddering and gasping, nearly hysterical in her attempts to rid herself of the organic muck.
Bolan picked her up and carried her to the bathroom. He shoved her into the shower and wet her down good, then pulled her out and toweled her off. The eyes were large and rounded but uncomplaining as he fitted her into blue jeans and blouse. She left the Sunset District apartment at his side, without comment and without looking back, and got into his car with a resigned sigh.
As he started the engine and put that place behind them, she slouched into the far corner of the seat and muttered,
"You're a real bastard, aren't you?"
"I guess I am," he quietly replied.
Sure. That went without saying. And Tuesday had only just begun.
"McCullough is scared to death of Terry Fortune," Leo Turrin had reported to Bolan. Turrin was a longtime friend and ally. Thanks in large part to Bolan's efforts, he was now privy to the secrets of La Commissione, the Mafia ruling council. He was also a federal cop. "He doesn't want the kid playing around with the guy, but at the same time he's afraid to make an issue of it. Terry knows damned well that the old man don't like it, but he's just that kind of guy—and that may be the only reason he's interested in the kid. Whatever, it's a potentially explosive situation out there-so I think it's as good a place as any for you to make your start."
"How'd you get onto it," Bolan had wondered.
"Hell, McCullough sent word. He wants someone to take Terry Fortune off his back—or out of his kid's crotch."
"You mean he actually sent a complaint? Through channels?"
"Not through official channels, no. See, it's very chaotic out there right now. Nobody knows who's calling the plays."
"Who's their man on the commission, now?"
"Willy Nick—but he's just a figurehead, a mouth. We get the idea they're pulling out—setting up their own thing—or at least getting ready to. But, see, McCullough is just an amici d'amicu—a friend of the friends. He's got no standing so he can't really make much noise. And apparently he couldn't find anyone in the local shed who was willing to handle his complaint."
"This complaint came to you through Willy Nick?"
"No. It came via a guy in Jersey. The guy calls me and says, 'Look, Leo, our friend McCullough has done us a lot of favors out there. Now he's calling the tab. We owe him. Let's get that guy off his back.' That's about the gist of it."
"So who'd you send?"
"We sent nobody, yet," Turrin replied. "They're still kicking it around. They worry a lot, lately, you know."
Yes, Bolan knew about the shaky men of La Commissione and their recent worries.
"Also, they're trying to figure a way to make it pay. You know?"
Yes, Bolan could understand that consideration, also. When a territory as large and important as California seemed to be breaking away from the national cartel, then the men back east would quite naturally be looking for some handle to keep the thing cozy.
"Send the word back through your man in Jersey," Bolan requested. "Make it a very quiet word."
"Okay." Turrin understood perfectly. "No names mentioned."
"No names, right," Bolan said. "Just tell him that a friend will be looking in on the problem."
It was a good enough place to start, sure.
So now it was started.
It was not quite dawn when the "friend" delivered an errant daughter to the worried father.
The girl evaded a fatherly hug and flounced up the stairs without a word.
McCullough was a large man with thick gray hair and deeply suntanned skin. Maybe fifty, maybe not quite. He'd made a fortune in land speculation and development but not without the right friends in the right places.
He fiddled nervously with his dressing gown as he watched his daughter disappear up the stairs—then he turned to Bolan with an embarrassed grin and warmly clasped his hand.
"You fellows work fast," he said admiringly. "I just got the word a few hours ago that they were sending someone."
Bolan did not return the smile. "I know nothing about that," he replied soberly. "I ran across the kid and I brought her home. That's all there is to it."
McCullough winked knowingly and said, "Sure. I understand. Look—I want to go up and have a few words with Darlene. Can you—would you like some coffee? I'll only be a few minutes."
Bolan allowed himself to be persuaded to stay awhile. He was shown to a breakfast room from where he could watch the sun rise over the Santa Monica mountains while the host went upstairs for a parley with the rebellious daughter. A silent little man in a white coat brought coffee and a tray of breakfast pastries. Bolan's trained eye noted the presence of a small revolver concealed beneath the white coat.
"Things are tense," Bolan said quietly as he accepted the coffee.
"Yes sir, very tense," the little guy replied. He returned to the kitchen without adding to that brief conversation.
Bolan sipped the coffee and tried to cast his mind into the mood and atmosphere of that brooding home, reaching for an understanding of the forces at work there beneath the surface. He'd been alone for perhaps a minute when a divine creature in flowing silk breezed in and took a chair opposite him at the table. She was too young to be the mother, too old for a sister—and far too beautiful for that hour of the morning.
Bolan showed her a solemn smile and said, "Hello."
She wasted no time on pleasantries. "I'm told you brought Darlene home." It was a gentle, melodious voice—neither warm nor cold.
Bolan cocked his head and took his time lighting a cigarette. Then he said, "That's right."
He tasted the coffee as he replied, "Who's asking?"
"Mrs. McCullough is asking."
"Then you should be asking Mr. McCullough," Bolan told her.
"Are you a private detective?"
He grinned. "Not hardly."
"Why doesn't everyone just leave her alone? She's an adult, perfectly capable of choosing her own friends and—"
"And her own poison?"
The woman lowered her gaze, took a deep breath, and asked, "Where did you find her?"
Bolan said, "Not even her daddy asked me that."
"I'm not her daddy."
"Obviously." His eyes roamed that lovely face as he added, "Nor her mommy."
"I'm the only mother the child has known," she replied calmly.
"You just said she was an adult," Bolan reminded her, tiring of the little sparring match. He smiled suddenly and asked, "Have I seen you in the movies?"
"Fat chance," Mrs. McCullough told him in that same melodious voice, neither warm nor cold. She rose gracefully and breezed back out of there.
Bolan's mind had barely uncoiled from that interchange when a shriek from the kitchen sent him whirling to his feet, the Beretta unsheathed and seeking direction.
But the "direction" was all too obvious.
Several handguns were sounding off simultaneously from behind the swinging door to the kitchen.
That door bounded open as the little guy in the white coat toppled through and slid into the breakfast room on his own blood.
Another guy with gun in hand came charging through and was met there smack in the doorway by a sizzling round from the Beretta. It punched him back into the kitchen and the door swung closed behind the falling body.
Bolan gave it a beat to see what else might try it via the swinging door, then he whirled to the window and kicked his way outside, getting there in time to spot another guy sprinting across the grounds in fast retreat. He quickly released the sound suppressor and hoisted the Belle into target stance, squeezing off a single round that caught the guy in mid-stride at about sixty yards out. The guy did a flinging cartwheel and stayed there. Instantly a car, somewhere down the street, roared into motion with tires squealing in frantic getaway.
The guy on the lawn was dead and carried no identification. Likewise, the one on the kitchen floor. An elderly woman, obviously the cook, had died with a bullet in the belly. The little man in the white coat had taken two hits in the chest, which had killed him instantly.
McCullough was huddled with his ladies in the library.
"I've called the police," he told Bolan.
"Then I'll be leaving," Bolan told him. "I wasn't sent here to start a war, anyway."
"You didn't start it," the guy told him. "But you saved our lives, and we're grateful."
No doubt about that, no. This one bore all the signs of a classic hit. A dawn raid. If those guys had gotten their way, they would have left nothing but dead bodies strewn from kitchen to bedrooms. And this could have had nothing to do with the hit on Terry Fortune; there had been no time for such retaliation.
"You're in big trouble, McCullough," Bolan needlessly pointed out.
"Yes. I know."
"Can you handle it?"
"I can handle the police question. I don't know about the rest."
The cold Bolan gaze flicked to the women. It met hostility in the young one, apology from the other.
"Get your women out of here as quick as you can," he suggested. "Send them some place cool and keep them there until I say different."
The McCullough face showed instant relief. "Does that mean you'll be staying in town for awhile?"
Bolan gave him a sober smile as he replied, "That's what it means. Play it careful. I'll be in touch."
He gave the women a final, cool inspection then went out of there. The cops would be responding very quickly, in this exclusive neighborhood. He wished to be well clear before their arrival.
The sun was just beginning to show over the hills.
Tuesday, Terrible Tuesday. Already it had claimed the lives of five people in Mack Bolan's shadow.
And yeah, Leo—it was a hell of an inspired starting place.CHAPTER 2
During his New Orleans campaign, Bolan had acquired a twenty-six-foot GMC motor home, or RV (recreational vehicle), which—with the assistance of aerospace engineers who rallied to the cause—became the Warwagon, a rolling dreadnought with advanced electronics systems that had added significant new dimensions to his war effort.
Besides massive and sophisticated firepower, the big cruiser also provided the highest reach in electronic surveillance and intelligence gathering capabilities. The rolling laboratory and gunship had also been "home" to the warrior ever since New Orleans, providing the perfect cover beneath her innocuous RV exterior and allowing the man to move freely about the continent within his own little world, thus avoiding many dangers of detection and entrapment.
But the big vehicle had posed a special problem for this second mile effort. A six-day nationwide blitz could be mounted only with air transportation. Bolan had felt that his effort would be severely diminished if he were to leave the gunship behind. Therefore his single request of Brognola was for air support—an airlift operation to keep man and machine together along that second mile.
Brognola gladly complied, placing a C-135 aircraft with military crew at Bolan's disposal and further providing a "trusted technician" to pilot and safeguard the gunship for the airlift operations.
The "trusted technician" turned out to be a female operative out of Brognola's own Washington headshed with the unlikely name of April Rose and the dazzling beauty of a Hollywood starlet. The lady was an engineer and physicist with a specially developed background in computer technology and communications. She was a whiz kid—and a gutsy one, at that.
"The lady has it all together," Brognola had assured his friend, the warrior. "She can be a lot of comfort and you're a damned fool if you don't utilize her talents to the fullest."
"Just what are her talents?" Bolan had wished to know.
"She can run that bloodmobile for you, I'll guarantee that. The lady could write the book on that Buck Rogers 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."
Bolan had learned to believe it; the lady had proven her guts and had come through quite well under fire during their initial operation in Indiana. But there had been frictions early on, fueled perhaps by the inevitable male-female chemical reactions flowing between these two exceptional poles of human excellence. Bolan naturally resisted the idea of placing that lovely life in the jeopardy of his savage world. April herself had trouble reconciling Bolan's modus operandi with her own deeply ingrained concepts of justice under the law. The frictions were still there, just below the surface of the association—and that was natural, also. Even though time expands and relationships mature rapidly in the heat of high adventure, the fact remained that these two had known each other for barely more than twenty-four hours.
Still, frictions and all, the two had reached a certain level of understanding and accommodation in a remarkably short time. They had made war together and they had made a sort of love together. More than anything else, they had made peace together. April Rose was now fully "on board," and she was providing essential services to the six day war-so much so, in fact, that Bolan would soon be forced to acknowledge that he could not swing it without her.
She was "on board" that Tuesday morning, also.
Bolan established radio communications with his "rolling base" immediately upon departure from the McCullough home.
"Blackjack to base, hello."
Instantly, cool and calm: "Go ahead, Blackjack."
"What's your situation?"
"A lot quicker than you led me to believe. I hardly had time to get set."
"You're on it, then."
"You bet I'm on it, General. We're heading west on Mulholland—about, uh, two miles east of Topanga Canyon Boulevard."
"Great. Play it loose. Don't try to close. Is it wired good?"
"Affirm, the wires are good and I am playing it loose."
"Maintain track. I am closing."
She was sharp, yeah. There had been no thought that the game would erupt so soon. She'd arrived in the McCullough neighborhood just behind Bolan to begin the stake-out. Then, according to her report, she'd hardly settled in when the shooting began. Now she was on that getaway car, trailing loose with an electronic lock to minimize the chance of discovery.
It could be a useless exercise, of course. There was no certainty that the hired killers would provide any sort of useful link to the new conspiracy in California. But Bolan was forced to grab for straws. His own understanding of the situation was entirely nebulous—and although he knew the identity of many of the players, he did not know precisely where all of the diverse connections came together, where each of the particular players fit, nor even if he had the leaders identified. Most discouraging, he did not understand the new logic. What was this proudly whispered California Concept? How did it differ from the standard logic of the Mafia world? Which areas of the straight society were being manipulated and shaped to fit the criminal need?
Excerpted from Terrible Tuesday by Don Pendleton. Copyright © 1979 Don Pendleton. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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