As one

AS ONE

JOHN COBY

AS ONE

Copyright 2019 By
John Coby

THE MESSENGER

I bring a message Which might sound silly But I give it to you
And I give it freely Especially for you

I am the messenger Like an arrow to you I am an arrow
Flying straight to you With message bound Telling of a truth That I have found

My heart is beating For your good fortune This life is fleeting Change is coming soon Change is coming
That I know Sooner or later You’ll have to let go

…….

THE CONSTANCY OF NATURE

The wind
Just keeps on blowin

The fire
Just keeps on burnin

The water
Just keeps on flowin

The Earth
Just keeps on turnin

…….

LIFE OF LIVES

Everything rises out of stillness Grows
Flourishes And then returns
To its source of stillness

This is the nature Of nature

Seeing Understanding
And accepting nature
Are experiences you encounter As you negotiate
The stepping-stones That I lay beneath your feet
As you walk
On your long journey

…….

BEING STEADY

I sit And I watch
And I do not shake

I see conditions change
As I watch the powers of nature go round But I remain steady
And shake not

…….

MEDITATION

Meditation Is a
Self-revealing Pathway

…….

SEEING FROM THE CENTRE

Ultimately
If nothing makes a difference I may as well
Even perhaps for a moment Look at everything With indifference

…….

FEELING BETTER

Don’t expect anything Don’t expect anything Don’t expect anything Don’t expect anything

Starting to feel better

Don’t expect anything Don’t expect anything

Feeling better

Don’t expect anything Don’t expect anything

Definitely feeling better

…….

THE RIDE

Humans Animals
And all the creatures
And all the worlds they are born out of Live in
And finally die back into All these
They are all there for us spirits to take a ride in And be the life of

The ride
Is our life as a creature in a world

In our case This time around
It’s a human On Earth

…….

INTERPLAY

Life
Is what happens When there is an interplay
Between Heaven And Earth

And the force
That makes everything happen The way it does
Is called Karma

…….

FISHERMEN

Does anyone know Where the fishermen go From whence
And to where From here And to there

It’s a fine way to go And a pleasure to know When to stop
When to go When to hide When to show

And if I should fall And what of it all A tale that is tall
Is a tale not so small

Does anyone know Where the fishermen go?

…….

TRANQUILITY

Tranquillity
I see you so rarely

…….

FAITH

All your worries All your fears
All your apprehensions About things far and near All your tension
All your stress Everything upsetting Every little mess Everything
You cannot see Everything You cannot be
Is just your lack of faith In Me

…….

ONE

What does this mean?

Seek only To be one
With the One

…….

AS ONE

I love you My little man

I am with you
And nothing big needs to happen

We can just be Together
And we can share life

I love you My little man

Thank you
For everything you have given Me My little man

This is just a momentary thought In the middle of everything

In our togetherness We travel everywhere

This is just a momentary thought As we travel
Onwards Looking ahead Together Moving through Together

What a nice little blast This being one with you Is
My little man

…….

DAYS OF YOUTH

Those days of youth Those days of tripping Of light exploding
And nectar sipping

Those days of youth When risks were taken In search of truth
The world was shaken

Those days of youth When to my surprise You found me sleeping Then opened up my eyes

Those days of youth When the walls fell everywhere
And to my amazement You were standing there

Those days of youth Of faith sublime
When we punched on through The veil of space and time

Those days of youth When everything was new
And the light was shining bright When You showed me what was true

Those days of youth Have tumbled far In the wake of time And left me aging
With an altered mind

…….

THE GIFT

The teacher Always brings
When He comes to me A beautiful gift
And some serenity

…….

THE TEACHER’S GENTLE GUIDANCE

Patience Have patience
Because your preparation is not yet complete

First the soil must be fertile Then the seed must fall Then it must rain
And the seed must sprout And grow into a tree
This tree must produce a fruit This fruit ripens slowly
And only when finally ripe Can it be eaten

All this
Just for a small snack

If I can be patient enough To do this
You can be patient enough
To wait for the completion of your preparation

Yet I see in you
A keenness to begin

This in itself is a sign
That you are approaching readiness

Be patient My son
So that I may fill you to the brim
I don’t want to leave you short of one drop I don’t want to spill one drop
So I pour slowly (Cont.)

THE TEACHER’S GENTLE GUIDANCE (Cont.)

Dear son
I feel your love
Let Me fill you to the brim
So your courage may be at its peak Concern yourself not
With when or how or what These things will come In the course of time
And as always
I will lay the stepping-stones Beneath your feet
As you walk
And I will cut the way before you

Through you
I will show them the truth

Do you see their anger? Do you see their hate? You have not even begun And they flee already

They tried to destroy you But I was there to stop them
They knew that you were the one And when they failed
They fled far away

They will wish They could flee
To the other side of the universe When they see you
In your ripeness (Cont.)

THE TEACHER’S GENTLE GUIDANCE (Cont.)

I will be there with you Always
To shield you from fear And you will bring truth Back into the world

This world is full of thieves And like all thieves
They will flee and hide And in the end
They will return to their own houses Because the Landlord
Is coming home

Be still my son
Feel your strength increasing As I give you My strength
Feel your knowledge increasing As I give you My knowledge You are Me
And I am you We are One Always were Always will be

This will be the best trip Remember
I am your friend in the water Who will give you the perfect wave
I am also the wave Remember
When you were standing in the wave Remember?

…….

THROUGH IT

Keep working But not for yourself
It’s the only way through it As it gets harder and harder

Keep giving
And don’t hold anything back Even though there are no thanks
And perhaps they may even hate you for your generosity Give more
And don’t think about yourself Because
It’s the only way through it As it gets harder and harder

Keep loving
Even if there doesn’t seem to be any love around Anywhere
Keep loving Because
It’s the only way through it As it gets harder and harder

Keep pouring out Your essence of life My wonderful man Keep pouring it out And I
Will just keep on filling you up

…….

SHE

And when descends The wondrous night She spreads her wings That are made of light
And through her window She takes to flight Returning only
In the morning bright

And some say It’s her body And some say It’s her spirit But she just says
You can do anything If you don’t fear it

…….

PHILOSOPHY

Oh philosophy philosophy You are the mistress
Of my solitude

…….

HEARING THINGS

And she asked me

So you think that God actually speaks to you?

And I replied

Yes.

Well, what does He sound like?

He sounds like ……… the Source of all life.

…….

FREEDOM

People don’t like Seeing other people
Have too much freedom So what can you do?
It helps immeasurably To keep our freedom things
As secret as possible

Freedom is found In places Everyone rejects

…….

TEAM NICE

You and I And them And they And us
And everything that be And all things that can see Share this one thing
In all eternity
And that may simply be We are all on the road Of a very long journey

So why do you sleep? And why do you thirst?
Light up your life And believe
In the joy of the journey First

…….

CHANGE

There are many ways to change One way is to grow

…….

PRIMAL UNION

Say little Guard your senses
A sharp edge blunts easy Constantly strive for simplicity Conceal your brightness
Be one with the Earth Be one with the Nameless

…….

BALL OF WRIGGLING WORMS

Does anything really matter anyhow?
Could it be that the more something seems to matter The less it really matters?
Maybe in the end Because everything changes
Nothing really matters

If we can remember this
We can separate ourselves from it And be apart from it
So it is there
Like a ball of wriggling worms And we are here
Silent and still And apart from it

…….

THE ROAD

It matters not What is going on It matters not
If the road is short or long It’s even not important
If we are weak or strong As long as we remember And accept with grace That His will be done And that the road of truth Will lead us Home

…….

MUDDY WATERS

Movement And thoughts
And dispersion of the mind Only cloud the waters

Who can sit quietly While the mud settles?

…….

THOUGHT

There are many ways to think But only one way to not-think

…….

UNIVERSE

I appear to be a creature In a world
Floating in a room so large That I cannot see the walls

I appear to be happening Happening?
This seems pretty miraculous to me

What am I looking at?
What do I see? Where am I? What am I?

Could it be?
Could I be looking at The inside of my mind?

Why do I think this?

Because of infinity Because I know That infinity
Can only exist in my mind

Go ahead
Prove to yourself that this isn’t so I don’t think you can do it

So what am I?
How many worlds am I? How many creatures?

I am happening
I am just happening And everything I see Is me

There appears to be no limit There appears to be no end

(Cont.)

UNIVERSE (Cont.)

There is harmony and chaos There is light and darkness There is heavy and light There is pain and pleasure There is getting and giving There is losing and finding There is leading and following
There is staying and moving on There is beauty and ugliness There is sickness and health And there is love and hate

Love and hate Attraction and repulsion Courage and fear
What are these things?
What difference do they make?

I am just happening Looking and seeing Perceiving
But not understanding

It is pretty miraculous that I am happening But a flower is happening as well
And I’m sure that it doesn’t think like me Or perceive the universe
Or wonder about it all So
It seems
It’s enough to just be (Cont.)

UNIVERSE (Cont.)

Can there be something that no one knows about?
How can that be?
How can it be possible?
Everything must first be known about Before it can exist
Even for me In my own mind It begins to exist
When I find out about it
It had to be known about first

The rest is imagination Speculation
An idea

I have a suspicion That my mind Knows everything That is
Already
It must if everything exists

I must not be fully connected to my mind Because I don’t know very much

Consider this
Does life exist inside the universe?
Or
Does the universe exist inside life?

It is impossible to conceive a universe without mind If there was no life in the universe
No living thing
How could the universe exist?
It only exists in the minds of living things like us

We must be happening
In order for the universe to be happening We happen together
…….

UNIVERSE 2

I am only conscious of the bits of the universe I perceive And those I imagine
That’s not much If it all exists
It must all exist in my mind Therefore
I must not be fully connected Or
There is a room there but it’s dark Or
There is a massive memory bank there And an outrageous processor
But there is no current running through it Maybe there is some kind of resistor preventing it
Maybe it’s my thinking brain Maybe I’ve got to switch that off To stop the resistance

I might have to meditate on that And stop thinking

…….

UNIVERSE 3

How would it be to connect with my mind?
Would it be kind of like groping around in a dark room And
Finding a candle and match And
In the candle light finding a curtain And
Pulling it open Suddenly experiencing daylight
For the first time?

And
All of a sudden I understand And
It begins to exist in my mind And therefore
It begins to exist

My universe is made up of What I know to be there And
What I believe to be there What is yours made up of?
What’s that you say?
Yours is made up of what is there Is that right?
Well
I say it’s made up of what you believe is there And that my dear living creature
I believe is unique to you
And that means that your universe And my universe
Are very different Because
Yours exists in your mind And mine in mine
And oddly
You and your universe Are part of my universe How about that

…….

UNIVERSE 4

A universe is made up of Matter
Energy And thought

Matter energy and thought Create
Self-perception

Therefore
The universe perceives itself Through thought

No matter No perception
No energy No perception
No thought No perception

And the same question stands Whether Timbuktu or France What is reality
What is deception And who on Earth Will ever know
Can there be existence Without perception

…….

UNIVERSE 5

If I can achieve not thinking It appears
That I may witness the universe Not existing

.

COMMENTARY

I’ve never heard Such tripe in all my life
It’s as crazy
As a cantankerous wife Oh God
Have mercy on this frivolous mind And spare a little kindness
For a writer profoundly blind

…….

UNIVERSE 6

If the universe Began to not-exist
I would see the walls melting away And on the other side
There would be no other room Or street
There would be something else there Wouldn’t there?

.

COMMENTARY

What a puzzling question What a ridiculous suggestion
Why toil with such nonsensical delusion It only leads to maniacal confusion
God only knows what is happening to me I think I’ll have a break
And pour myself a cup of tea

…….

UNIVERSE 7

Universes Exist
In living creatures Like us

It takes mind To exist

Universes Coexist
And overlap
And interact with each other And change
.

COMMENTARY

Here we go again
It’s time for the loony bin I think we need a rest We know, don’t we Which one jumped Over the cuckoo’s nest

…….

THE WELL

Sitting Not thinking Breathing
Body and spirit united Silence
Courage and faith Zinging it up Not frightened

Seeing the unseen Being the un-been Moving, sitting still Emptiness to fill

Surely as I could tell A vision I do declare I could see a well
But water was everywhere

As I awoke
And to reality returned
I remembered a magic light And a fire in my heart burned

And thoughts passed through my mind And feelings through my soul
And understanding things Way out of my control

And words on paper And many a decision Did fade away forever
In the light of a sacred vision

As useful as a well
Where there is water everywhere Are the words of many books To the man who has actually
Been there

…….

TALKING TO GOD

Dearest Papa

Most times it’s between time But sometimes
Being with You Makes me so happy So hi
That I start to cry

And just working in my front yard Under the brilliant sun
Thinking of You
And feeling You close to me Just fills me so much
That sometimes It’s hard to hold it all in

I don’t want anything Except what You want, Papa
Sickness and death don’t scare me at all Just to be in Your reality
And to feel You in my heart

You’ve filled me up, Papa And I’m swimming
In Your ocean of joy
My tears are flowing as I write this feeling down My tears are flowing free
Cause You are close to me

…….

THE GIVING

Tis neither skill Nor art
Nor strength Nor gift
Nor pleasure Nor hidden treasure

Tis only this And nothing else Whether together
Or apart

Tis nothing more And nothing less It’s at its best
Just a beating heart

…….

THE GIFT

Sing children sing Sing those songs Those songs of love
Those songs of happiness And the stars above

Sing children sing And brighten up the day And see the future bring
Happy smiles along the way

Sing children sing And give yourselves away
The more you give the more you get There’s nothing else to say

It’s love that is the gift And life is its reward Your feet have wings And you are swift And your words
Are a two edged sword

So sing
Dear children sing Don’t be afraid Let lightning flash And thunder roll Let tyrants clash And nations fall Let planets turn Let comets fall
Let cities burn Let’s take it all And sing

…….

SOLITUDE

My God Do I love kids
Little creatures Crying
Taking pictures on the corner Typing
Writing on the wall Boy do I hate buzzers Smoke
Hot days and nights Fans
Can’t sleep Slow Typing Breathe in Breathe out Sleep
Wash
I hate noise I need peace Solitude

…….

LEFT BEHIND

I’m crying
Because I miss you so much

I don’t know why you had to go So I’m crying
Cause you went away
And you took my happiness with you

I just don’t know Why you had to go

Maybe it’s because I’m too crazy God help me

…….

SUNDAY MORNING

It’s Sunday morning And the sun is shining And the music is playing And I’m sitting here Reflecting

The so’ wester is blowing And the smell of snow is in the air
And your smile
Is shining in my mind And
As I sip my coffee
I wish that everything was still the same And that I could still feel
Your loving arms around me

…….

BITTERNESS

I have found you Exposed you
Bitterness is not a good time to write poetry Is it?

Perhaps not
But honesty however is

I am what I am This I have always been
And whether good or bad Or indifferent
I place myself in His care Because
I am faith in Him So
I shout out loudly Satan get behind me And I return to
And walk along my path In the direction
Of Home

…….

SEVEN YEARS AFTER

I took your picture down Honest I haven’t lost my faith I just felt like a change
Something new for that old space

It’s been so many years Since everything went wrong There are still so many things Where they’ve been so long

It’s not that I love you any less My feelings haven’t changed for sure And please don’t think for a minute
That I don’t believe you anymore

It’s just so long since you’ve been gone And love and faith are just a little strange I thought I’d take your picture down
And give myself a little change

It seems that losing you Was not the most painful thing What is really hard is losing hope And the darkness that will bring

I took your picture down Honest I haven’t lost my faith I just felt like a change
Something new for that old space

…….

ANGELS

Been on my knees Felt the icy breeze Went deep inside Where I did hide

With bitter feelings My mind was reeling Total reduction
To self destruction

I took my time And walked the line
I learned to give And began to live

I knew one day You’d come to stay Right here beside me To help and guide me

And all alone In my own home I found You there My life to share

I’ve been accused I’ve been abused I’ve been alone In my own home But now
My house is filled with angels

I’ve been destroyed I’ve been devoid I’ve shed the tears I’ve felt the fears But now
My house is filled with angels

…….

RETURN TO LOVE

Seven times around the sun Seven rivers into one
Seven lover’s kisses gone Seven days a week is done

Seven miles in a wooden cart Seven maidens never apart Seven stops before the start Seven pieces of a broken heart

Seven stars in the sky above Seven wing beats of a dove Seven stitches in a glove Seven gifts return to love

…….

MIMI

Your love is like autumn Clear and cool
And nice to be out in Fresh and exhilarating Like a south westerly
With the smell of snow with it And it feels good
To just breathe in More deeply than usual

Your love is like winter When hugging under the blankets
Is something I think about During the day
And its warmth warms my body During the night

Your love is like spring When running feels good And buying flowers
And there is a yearning And it turns to passion And the days grow warmer And life is all around

Your love is like summer A beer in the shade
Or an evening stroll Often forgetting everything Except the wonderfulness
Of your love

…….

THE ORDER

Come the love Come the light Come the truth Come the wisdom Come the courage Come the action Come the change Come the adventure

…….

RE-FOCUSSING

I do tend to forget On quite a regular basis
The goal that I’ve set And the path that it traces

The end that I seek Is not of this world
The flag that I stand for Has not yet been unfurled

The biggest trick
Is to recognise the reality Of the situation
And not take my eyes Off my true goal

…….

THAT DAY

The cycles of nature go around And the power of evil Goes round and round
And when it overwhelms everything I come to Earth
And bring it down

That is when
You need concentration That is when
There has to be separation Because to evil
I will bring destruction And I think that you can make
The logical deduction

If to evil
You stay connected And on that final day You have not defected If words of warning You have neglected You should expect
To be rejected

…….

INSTINCT

The creature knows When it has stepped Into the jaws
Of a powerful trap That it has only two choices

Those are
To either lose its limb Or lose its life

Either way Life
Will never ever Be the same Again

…….

DOGS

Do you know why dogs can’t speak?
It is so that they can’t swear Can you imagine it?
All these dogs everywhere Swearing their snouts off

That’s why dogs can’t speak So
If you spend this life swearing
You just may spend your next one barking

.

COMMENTARY

And sniffing other dog’s butts

…….

SOFTNESS AND HARDNESS

We are born soft and weak We die hard and stiff Young plants are supple
Old plants withered and dry

On observation It would appear That the rigid
Is the discipline of death And the yielding
Is the discipline of life

The hard and strong will fall The soft and weak will overcome

Inflexibility leads to illness And an early unpleasant grave

It also helps immeasurably If we can yield
And let go of old outdated ideas

…….

YOGA

When I’m doing Yoga I try not to think about
The future Or the past
Or even the present

I like to rest my mind On You

…….

MY SCHIZOPHRENIA

The stars shone bright On that wonderful night When You carried me Into Your beautiful light

And it is hard To accidentally find A wiser man silent
Or a soldier non-violent

Well I never want to forget And I’ll never ever regret I’ll always live in the trance
Of my schizophrenic experience

And a passage read At this point of arriving Expressed the merits
Of not striving

So I lifted up my foot Depressed upon accelerator
Leaned back a little, looked around And took note of the weather

I breathed in deep And tempered my velocity
And gave a thought To acts of generosity

(Cont.)

MY SCHIZOPHRENIA (Cont.)

And what is real and what is not Are we made up of what we’ve got And the clock is ticking
And life is tricking

So I’ll take care of all men And not abandon one And I’ll care for all things Under the blazing sun

I’ll swim in the stream Of the river of life
Love my brother and sister And follow the light

So I think I’ll put the sky on Spread my wings and do some flyin
I’ll also warm my house for The comfort of my guest the Lion

And as I live I know
That I have been given a chance Because I was given
My schizophrenic experience

…….

THESE DAYS

These are the days

We are not building the house Within which our heart dwells
We are actually building our heart And each day is like a brick
Which we make to build it with

And we’ll have to carry this heart around Forever

So

These are the days And each day
Can have something in it That shines

Like giving

…….

THE ROCK

There is nothing harder in life Than carrying a rock inside your chest

…….

KINGS AND BEGGARS

My daughter, my daughter Oh why do you weep for me Is it because I have left you And sailed into the mystic sea

My daughter, my daughter Thy tears are not for me Thy heart is full of sorrow And it weeps only for thee

My daughter, my daughter Here’s my question with a sigh Why do you grieve for the living Why grieve for those who die

My daughter, my daughter Wipe those tears without delay
For life and death my darling dear Shall swiftly come and swiftly pass away

I have travelled far
And many places I have been Countless lights of the dawning sun And many many sunsets I have seen

(Cont.)

KINGS AND BEGGARS (Cont.)

My daughter, my daughter With certainty everything is fine Weep not for me my spirit free
Because we have all been for all time

You and I and kings and beggars This truth forget ye never
Our spirit self will always be We all for ever and ever

My body was old and useless And so it fell away
I tell you this my darling dear New child I am today

So remember this my little miss All things born in truth must die
And out of death in truth comes life So have another sigh

My daughter, my daughter There is a bright tomorrow Face to face with what must be There is no need for sorrow

…….

SADLY

Sometimes it seems
The only way of keeping our dignity Is to walk away
And stay away

…….

THE RELIGIOUS

There are some folk In this world of ours Who have developed
Their persuasive powers

They have learnt To be a teacher By juggling about
The Holy scripture

They shout and cause A heap of trouble By waving about The Holy Bible

They use the name Of our Lord and Saviour And say it compensates
For their rude behaviour

They yell and shout All over the stage They jump about Get into a rage

They say salvation Can’t be missed While flashing gold On their wrist

They started a church For all to see
And the money they made Was all tax-free

And on Sundays The preacher hollers Hey! God in heaven Give us more Dollars

(Cont.)

THE RELIGIOUS (Cont.)

And they sing their songs Like keen little bees To make a few bucks
By selling CDs

And God will help To make them a hit Let’s cash in on Jesus
For a little profit

They’re full of want Like a good believer But they hate the Lord If He doesn’t deliver

They cause so much pain To all of humanity
In the name of the Lord They’re losing their sanity

And in the end

They’ll be screaming out loud That Jesus is Lord
As they fall down proud Right on their own sword

And

It was not a big pleasure To write down this rhyme And I do apologise
For these feelings of mine

But I do have a feeling And a sense of duty To warn my reader
Of these folk gone fruity

…….

PERFECT BALANCE

For each and every hurt There is a pleasure For every bit of trash There is a treasure

For each and every tear There is a smile
For each and every fear There is a style

For every drop of rain There is a ray of sunshine For everything that happens There is a piece of time

For every road to heaven There is a road to hell
For every heart that beats There is a tolling bell

For every gentle touch There is an act of violence For every crack of thunder There is a tranquil silence

For every single action There is an opposite reaction For everything repulsive
There’s something with attraction

For everyone victorious There’s someone who must fail For every loving kiss
There is a cold betrayal

For every bit of darkness There is a bit of light
For every bit of weakness There is a bit of might

(Cont.)

PERFECT BALANCE (Cont.)

For everything that grows There is a seed
For everyone that knows There is a need

For every truth There is a lie
And every living thing Must ultimately die

For every bit of time There is a bit of space And everything that is Won’t even leave a trace

For everything that’s lost There’s something that is found And for everyone that’s free There’s someone that is bound

For every quiet whisper There is a piercing scream
For everything about to happen There is a wondrous dream

For everyone who gives There’s someone there who takes
For everyone who breaks There’s someone there who makes

For every winner There is a loser
For every substance There is a user

For every song There is a singer For every ring There is a finger

For every wound There is a mending And to every story There is an ending

…….

MAMA’S DREAM

They won’t let us see the King If we are covered in mud

…….

DAUGHTER’S MEMORY

Jo and dad take off again
The station wagon is loaded to the roof With the back seat down for extra room

Got the boards
Heard the surf pumped up there In the little bay

Ready for the sunset sessions When the light fades into enlightenment
Until it’s too dark to stay in the water Wish we could though

But the morning will come
And we’ll be surfing at the sign of first light

We could stay there forever But reality is calling

And the car looks good there It must be the light of the place

…….

JOEY’S WISDOM

Take your time Choosing the love That you think
Is worth living for

A love
That’s worth living for Is the one
To call your own

And a love
That is worth living for Is a love
That is worth dying for

…….

SUNRISE

Waking to the day I do not feel alone
Preparing for my work And thinking of my Home My heart sings out a song

…….

LOVE OF THE FATHER

I heard a story once, on television. It was a news item. There had been a flood somewhere in Asia. It was a major disaster. Thousands of villagers died. One village was completely buried under a giant mudslide. Perhaps a day or two later, rescue teams arrived and with them newspaper and television journalists. Virtually everyone in the village had been buried alive. I watched the journalist, covered in mud, tired and emotionally drained, summon up the last ounce of his energy and deliver the story of a small child who was found alive, buried in mud up to her mouth.
The rescuers began to dig to free the child. As they dug to the child’s feet, they noticed a pair of hands underneath, which were clutching the child’s feet. Astounded at this finding, they continued to dig. They found that the child was standing on the fully outstretched arms of her father who stood dead underneath her holding her up.

…….

STEPPING STONE

I’m on a stepping stone And I see colours It’s been forever
Maybe never
I’m on a stepping stone I stand alone
Aware and vigilant Of my mission Home

…….

FAITH

Within our hearts Within the fortress of wisdom Dwells the centre of the light

Being this And ignoring fear
We may spread our wings And fly

…….

EMPTY HANDS

When you see a preacher With the scripture in his hand You can be suspicious
If he’s the genuine man

You must take care And hold some reservation
To this man’s opinions You have no obligation

Spiritual knowledge
Is a gift and a special treasure Not attained by the man
Who practises the art of leisure

He has read the book And knows it well to be fair
But in truth you can’t know much If you’ve never ever been there

The things he talks about Are full of mystery my dear But mystical experience Just fills him full of fear

The genuine man has gone beyond The point most men are prepared to go The road that has not been walked before
Has to be walked in order to know

Some qualities required To prevent a life of lying
Is a strong faith and sense of adventure And absolutely no fear of dying

Dispensing sacred knowledge Is an elevated art
Not found in any book But written in the heart

So in your walk of life
In seeking out your preacher Look for the man with empty hands
To find your dinkum teacher

…….

HEAVEN AND EARTH

There are things That come from the earth
Like human beings And
There are things That come from heaven
Like forgiveness

…….

PAIN

Pain is a very positive thing Because
It balances out pleasure

You may ask
What is so good about that?

Well Without pain
To balance out pleasure Pleasure would soon cease to be pleasure
And what would be left then?

…….

PRIMAL MEMORY

The following surfaces occasionally, unexpectedly, inexplicably, mysteriously.
I feel like I have come from outside of this universe. I feel like this infinite universe is a fish bowl. I feel like I jumped in and here I am, me, born here to live my life in this universe.
But I still seem to somehow feel like I can almost remember myself outside and it looks like a small fish bowl. And when I look around there are fishbowls everywhere. There doesn’t seem to be any end to them.
And then I think I remember picking up a fish bowl and it became a small pearl and I held it between my thumb and my finger and rolled it around between them.
I have been experiencing this memory since I was a small child, that of rolling the pearl between my thumb and finger. And as I felt this memory a very odd sensation, impossible to describe, overtook my body. This still happens from time to time.
Now I think I know that I can remember when I held this universe between my finger and thumb and felt it before I entered it and was born into it.

This blows me away

…….

CHRISTMAS

The Christmas season has again come around. It is a tradition that has been with us, well, for two thousand years. It is a Christian tradition, but people of all faiths may celebrate it and do. Why is that? It is because it is a tradition where we do something different. We think about and do things for others. We remember others and we remember that we love them. We also decide that we will show them by buying them a gift. It is a good tradition. If it wasn’t so old it could almost be classed as avant-garde.
We brace ourselves for the effort. We whinge and complain about everything to do with it, the expense, the heat, (cold in the northern hemisphere), the parking, the crowds and the mayhem. But we still do it. Why? It’s because we love each other and our love is stronger than all the obstacles and difficulties. And that is universal in all faiths. And after we have done it and survived all the chaos, we feel a little better, a little happier, deep down. It’s because we’ve done something for someone else. This heals us. And that is why this tradition lives on. It’s good medicine.
And when we all feel better, we have Christmas Day.

…….

FLACK

When there seems to be flack all around You know what it’s all about
It’s all about punching through all the flack And blasting out
Into clear space

…….

PASSING THROUGH

There’s daytime and night time And summer and winter and fall There’s living and dying
And crying and having a ball There’s mom and there’s dad
And the kids and me and there’s you And there’s everything here that there is But I’m just passing through

There’s killing and stealing And causing incredible pain
There’s backstabbing betraying and lying Just for the illusion of gain
And my eyes can’t believe That all this madness is true And then I remember the fact That I’m just passing through

We come here with nothing And nothing is all we can take A brief moment in time
To separate the real from the fake And we choose to be blind
To all that is obviously true And we choose to ignore
The fact that we’re just passing through

There’s Catholics and Anglicans And Muslims and Hindus and Jews And they practice the religions
Of power wealth murder and sexual abuse And it makes me so angry
To see the obscene things they do And then I remember
The only thing that is true And that is the fact
That I’m just passing through (Cont.)

PASSING THROUGH (Cont.)

Where we come from
And to where we ultimately go
Is a mystery virtually impossible for us to know There is a chance
And it may be appropriate to believe That our future destiny
Is shaped by the way that we live

So perhaps my perceptions Of organized religion are right
Just ask all the kids
Who were raped in the middle of the night And I know they’ll receive
The reward they are truthfully due As I live and breathe
In this world that I’m passing through So
Give me the sun
And the moon and the stars Give me Saturn and Jupiter And Venus and Mars
Give me the sky And the mountains And the meadows And the ocean blue Give me love
Give me peace Give me freedom
As I pass on through

Give me everything that there is But above all Lord
Give me You

…….

A FINE LAW

Son

If you go around carrying a gun If you take away someone’s sun
If your life causes humanity’s pain If you are the cloud of everyone’s rain If you steal people’s happiness away
If you take the light out of everyone’s day If you are the agent of everyone’s fears
If you are responsible for everyone’s tears If you kill and say it’s for Me
If you take money for something That’s supposed to be free
If you foul up the innocence of a child
If you imprison something that ought to be wild If you take a free man
And turn him into a slave If you live your life
And decide to misbehave Son
I will make you pay I will make you learn I will take your soul
And I will make it burn

I will take your father I will take your mother I will take your sister
I will take your brother I will take your health I will take your food
I will take your wealth I will strip you nude I will take your day
I will lock you away
I will make you bleed a river You coward full of fear
A drop of blood from you For every victim’s tear

(Cont.)

A FINE LAW (Cont.)

Son

Don’t ask Me anymore How can God allow such a thing As a natural disaster or a war
And the suffering that such things bring They are because they have to be
To pay you back for your treachery So son
If you want These things to end Remember My law And keep it My friend

You reap what you sow Oh son of Mine This is My law
And My law is fine

And if you want Your misery to end Get good
And get good fast And things will change
My troubled friend

…….

SKILLS

Which skill is greater?
The ability to see all the steps
Or the ability to focus on the next step?

…….

THE REDWOOD TREE

Through a forest Did I walk one day
And a giant redwood tree Did I meet along the way

Oh redwood tree
How tall and mighty do you stand You must be deeply rooted
Here in this old land

A feeling strong and proud Do I feel from thee
I also sense your age And wisdom born of history

And as I stood before The mighty redwood tree Quite suddenly I felt it more And that tree did speak to me

Man oh man
Who stands in front of me Bend over and pick up
That tiny pebble you can see

You see that pebble little man The one you are holding in your hand
There is a tale that I shall tell So you may know it very well

(Cont.)

THE REDWOOD TREE (Cont.)

In all the seasons I’ve been growing And all the times that I’ve been knowing
No greater obstacle did I endure Than that little pebble that’s for sure

When I was born from my seed And to see the sky became my need A giant rock stood in my way Trying to prevent my sight of day

In all the days I can remember
No harder task was placed before me My greatest test of any day
Was moving that rock out of the way

And who would believe As before me here you stand
You hold that giant rock There in your very hand

Transfixed I thanked the redwood tree For his remarkable parle
I then thanked him over again And went merrily on my way

…….

KNOWING

To know What is this state?
To understand the show
To have entered through the gate

I was different before And I was different after
Sometimes knowing brought me tears Sometimes it brought me laughter

And looking at myself I am everything I know
It seems this thing called learning Is the way by which I grow

…….

SHOWTIME

Don’t make a show of your religion Not before man
Not before God

It is not your clothes Nor your hair Nor your hat
Nor your doctrine Nor your movement Nor your rituals Nor your words
Nor your prayers Nor your sacrifices Nor your churches

It is only one thing And one thing only It is the condition Of your heart
Consider this well When we meet
I will strip you naked Even of your flesh
And look inside your heart

Make a show of your religion And you will lose the way Then you will lose the truth Then you will lose your heart Then you will lose your life And finally heaven itself

(Cont.)

SHOWTIME (Cont.)

Before Me
You are no different to anyone else Even though you would like to think you are
And would like others to think so as well

I love you all equally The good and the bad You and they
Could not breathe Nor have heartbeat
If I stopped loving you I love all My creation So
Who do you think you are
To make a show of your religion

I’ll tell you who you are You are just a man Or just a woman
Who stands before Me That is all you are
And you are no greater or lesser Than any other man
Or woman

And your show Is repulsive to Me

…….

DEATH MACHINE

Death
Is lack of movement

As we approach death We move less and less Until one day
We stop moving altogether

Life
On the other hand Is movement

The more we move The more alive we are And further from death

Therefore
By this reasoning Television
Is in reality The death machine

…….

THE CIRCLE

Every day we live Brings us one day closer To becoming a child Again

…….

ENLIGHTENMENT

True enlightenment can happen In the most unexpected moment

In a silence
It may just come to us out of nowhere In the middle of it all
Somewhere between the first step And the last step
Because it is a gift Like Christmas presents

We contemplate the possibility That everything we think do and say
Might sooner or later Come back at us
Kind of like reflected waves

And the thought passes through our mind
I could be the architect of my own life
I may be able therefore to change my future

And as this magnificent thing happens There is a silence all around
And miraculously With just a thought
We have been transformed Into a new living being More aware
More careful Stepping more softly Speaking more quietly Feeling our way along
Taking hold of this Letting go of that Seeing the way now
Cause there’s a light shining

…….

SOMETHIN GOIN ROUND

I’m livin for your givin I’m walkin for your talkin I’m swingin for your singin I’m hangin for your bangin

Let’s make babies Let’s build a house And go on picnics And in the park Let’s peel potatoes And fry fish
And watch things grow And listen to the sounds of life

Let’s go to graduations And christenings
Let’s attend reunions And birthday parties Let’s go to funerals And head for the light Let’s be babies again And drink breast milk

Let’s slumber again
In the security of our mother’s loving embrace Let us be drunk with life
Let us drown in the ocean of love Let us erupt with joy eternal

From mother to child To mother to child Mama natural Eternal
Swollen breasted Full of life giving milk Nurturing giving loving Mama nature makin me
Be for all eternity

…….

THE VISION

Amazing Grace Sweet surprise
I found Your place With my own eyes

It was like a dream Like a story told Feeling young again Even though I’m old

I took the potion And set my trajectory I swam in Your ocean
And kept a magic memory

…….

ZINGIN IT UP

Play the toon Hear it fa Cuppa tea On my knee
Breathe the air Do it right See the light In the night Dog is lickin
Ain’t no chicken Mind your razor

…….

THE UNREAL

It seems Nothing is as it seems
It appears
No one is as they appear The truth is
Nothing is the truth The reality is Nothing is real

So I looked for the light And followed it
And found myself Outside
And nothing And no one Was there

And there I dwell And there I contemplate
And write And work And love And surf And live And learn And grow
And feel gladness in my heart For being blessed
And removed From the unreal

…….

BITS OF HEAVEN

I don’t know Whether to hope that it’s true Or whether to hope that it isn’t
But sometimes I feel Especially after being somewhere special
And experiencing an exceptional adventure I feel
Like I’ve experienced A small portion
Of heaven itself

Maybe heaven is ecstasy beyond our imagination Incapable of being experienced in the mortal world Or maybe
Heaven is something more congenial Capable of flowing between dimensions Popping up here and there
And treating and surprising
And basically having fun with the creatures it has created Who knows?
But sometimes my little brain and my beating heart Are tricked into thinking
That briefly
I went to heaven

Conversely Come to think of it
I could say the same thing About hell

…….

DEAREST KIDS

As you grow And come to realize
That not everyone loves Not everyone gives
Not everyone forgives The hardest thing in the world
Is to keep loving And giving
And forgiving

However That is exactly
What God wants us to do

…….

COLD MORNING

Out of all the restaurants And fancy meals I’ve had
There’s nothing that can compare To a good bacon and eggs breakfast In a roadside diner
On a freezing cold morning After a long drive through the night

Sitting there Looking out the window At the frost on the ground
Soaking up the morning sun Streaming in through the window And the egg yolk
On my buttered toast

And thoughts of You Pass through my mind And flashes of eternity And I think to myself
How good life feels right now As the café angel
With the light in her eyes Hovers around me
And asks me caringly If I’d like a top up Of my coffee cup

…….

MEMORIES

What is the difference between The memory of a dream The memory of a reality The memory of a vision
Or the memory of a mystical experience

All of them Once experienced Are transformed
Into memories So what is real?
Perhaps
All our experiences Are actually Mystical

…….

YOGA

I seem to have reached a point in my life Where I am given only two choices

Either suffer Or do Yoga

…….

THE SEARCH

In your search For the true religion
Look for the one That has no name

In your search For the true church
Look for the one That has no building

In your search For the truth Look in places
Where men don’t go

In your search For the true faith Look deep inside Your own heart

…….

AGITATIONS

With your words
Why would you wish to separate me From silence

With your names
Why would you wish to separate me From the Nameless

With your ideas
Why would you wish to separate me From perfections

Words names and ideas Are agitations
Which only cloud the water

…….

NOT BELONGING

Being One with the Nameless I am damned by the Christians The Muslims
The Jews And the Hindus

I am damned to hell by them all Because I am One with the Nameless

This hell
To which they have damned me Is a place
Which they have created In their minds
And my question is this Have they created this hell for me
Or for themselves?

…….

ORGANIZED RELIGION
All organized religions are like this There was a man
Who wanted diamonds
So he began to dig a hole in the ground Hoping to find a diamond there
He dug and he dug Until the hole collapsed And buried him there

.

There was another man Who saw a million diamonds
Whenever he looked at the ocean And he was happy and grateful For this beautiful gift

…….

OLD MAN

I see you there So old and frail
It’s hard to breathe now What is your tale

Did you ever break the chain Did you ever see the light
Did you brave the pouring rain Did you ever fight the fight

Old man tired and weak Did you ever do it tough
Did truth just make you sick Did you give away enough

Did the sun shine in your eyes And did angels carry you away Did ever gentle rain fall down And music fill your every day

Old man old man Why do you look so sad
Has time taken all your life And left you feeling bad

(Cont.)

OLD MAN (Cont.)

Did you not wipe away the tears Or give a little hope
Did you not comfort someone’s fears Or loosen someone’s rope

Your body’s old and tired
And you sense an imminent arrival Your heart has lost the beat
And you are thinking of survival

And then right at the end What’s that you think you see Is it a light shining so bright This light could set you free

This light is coming from above It is the light of unconditional love And now you know to really live
It is essential to really give

Oh yes go out and give
And make up for the life you led But what is this, this empty space Oh no it’s too late now, you’re dead

…….

HONOUR

In which is there more honour?

A man being honest about being an atheist A man lying about being a believer
Or a man who won’t speak?

What is more important than honour?

…….

THE ENLIGHTENED

The enlightened of this world Shine with the light of invisibility
I don’t know where they can be found But I know where they can’t be found

…….

ROTTEN WORLD

Does what is said upset you? Does what is not said upset you? Does what is done upset you?
Does what is not done upset you?
How can you find peace in your own self? By changing the world to suit yourself?
This idea seems irrational
Yet it’s what everyone tries to do every day Why?
This hard world This cruel world
Is a reflection of you Hmmm
You don’t have to believe me But that won’t change a thing Whose world is it?
Who lives in it? Who suffers in it?
The answer my friend is you Can you change it?
Maybe
But not in the way you think You can change it
By first changing yourself

…….

TWILIGHT

In the autumn Of my life
I sense the number Of my days

Remembering The passage Of my ways

Seeing clearly now Having steered Out of the haze

Standing whole In the centre Of the blaze

Keeping You As the focus Of my gaze

…….

BREAKING THE CHAIN

Discard that which disturbs you Even if the whole world is afraid to do it
Trash it and forget it Keep that which nurtures you
And is not threatening Or frightening or disturbing
Keep it and partake of it often Discernment
Requires being true to yourself
And no one else

Be kind to yourself And gentle
And throw away the rubbish That other men have created

Listen only to the words written in your heart They are the truth
And they will set you free from the slavery of other men’s malignant ideas

On the road to freedom
Much is discarded and little is taken up Remember
Freedom is found in places where men don’t go In thoughts that men don’t think
And in feelings that men don’t feel

Don’t be a slave to your own old ideas
They might be all that stands between you and your freedom

Love courage and freedom to you My brother or my sister
There is no end There is no limit
And there are no boundaries And freedom is all that will remain
When you make up your mind To break the chain

To live is to live free

…….

HEAVEN

Everyone forgives everyone For everything

That’s all that heaven could ever be What else could it be?
…….

TRUTH

Silence
is the only real ultimate undeniable indisputable truth

…….

RELEASE

Heaven
just has to be a place where we forgive each other

…….

AS ONE

Copyright 2019 By
John Coby

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Undercover soldier 1

Undercover ‘Soldier’ Austin Mitchell

Copyright © 2016 Austin G. Mitchell

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

If you purchase this book without a cover you should be aware that this book may have been stolen property and reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher. In such a case, neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

Published by
Austin Mitchell

ISBN-13: 978-1500586324
ISBN-10: 1500586323

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, institutions, places, and incidents are creations of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual or other fictional events, locales, organization or persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.

For my late brother, Carlton Constantine Mitchell.
‘Desmond’

Other Books by the same Author:
Uptown Lovers (Novel)
The Downtown Massive (Novel)
Bring back the good old Days (Anthology of short
stories)
Waiting to cross the Bridge (Anthology of short
stories)
Going to the bushes to cut Firewood (Anthology
of short stories)
Taking a short cut Home (Anthology of short stories)
Days up the River (Anthology of short stories)
The Fire by the Wayside (Anthology of short stories)
Riding the milk truck to School (Anthology of short
stories)
Making grass mats to Sell (Anthology of short stories)
Life at 22 Lane (Play)
The Free Loaders (Play)
A Dangerous Hike (Short novel)
Going into the hills to Teach (Anthology of Short
Stories)

• Fred Billings was taken off the streets and brought up by Gus Mc Creed and his late wife, Charlene. Fred knows that he owes his very existence to this man, but his life’s goal is to amass as much wealth as he can and will not let sentiments stand in his way.

• Lorena McCreed has lost her childhood sweetheart in a mysterious accident. Now her foster brother is scaring away her suitors because he knows a strong man could ruin his plans for a takeover.

• Curtis ‘Bendoo’ Johnson, Special Branch Detective, was sent to Wareika Hills to infiltrate the gang hiding out there. Two joint police-military raids on their headquarters have failed to flush them out. Can Bendoo accomplish this dangerous and almost impossible task?

• Danny King was one of the largest drug barons on the island until he and McCreed clashed in a war that threatened to turn the streets of Kingston red. Now King, defeated by McCreed is trying to make one last comeback and destroy his old enemy.

• Gaskell Burke, a disgraced lawyer, believes that McCreed ordered the hit on his brother and seeks revenge. He and some of his brother’s former associates have taken over his small syndicate. Their intention being to strengthen it enough to confront McCreed, then kill him and take over his share of the market.

• Gus Mc Creed wants to dominate the Jamaican drug trade.
He has effectively gotten rid of most of his rivals. But new enemies are springing up all over the island. Can Mc Creed summon all the experience he has garnered from his days as a mob hit man to defeat his rivals? Or will they destroy him in a winner take all?

Part One

Chapter One

Bendoo kept one eye on the road while thinking about the summons he had received from his boss, Neil McDonald, the head of Special Branch. It wasn’t every day that you received such a call so it had to be something important. He followed the road which hugged the side of a mountain. A vehicle was parked ahead of him and a man was pulling a woman towards the car. He passed the vehicle, looked in his rear view mirror, then decided to stop. Knowing how isolated this place was, he patted the gun in his waist reassuringly, before getting out of the vehicle.
“What’s going on here?”
“Nothing, mind your own business.”
“I didn’t ask you any questions, Mister. Is this man bothering you, Miss?”
“Didn’t you hear what I said, guy? You must be deaf or something.”
The man rushed in, swinging a fist at him. Bendoo blocked the blow and hit him on his jaw. He punched him under the chin and he staggered and fell.
The woman was screaming and getting hysterical.
Bendoo hovered over him, fists clenched, but the man staggered to his feet, ran to his car, jumped in and the car roared away.
Bendoo rushed to his car, intent on pursuit when the woman shouted.
“Are you going to leave me here?”
“Come with me, let’s see if we can catch him.”
She held her wrist.
“Did he hurt you?”
“No, I’m okay, thanks for helping me.”
“That’s all right, some men can be downright stupid.”
The woman didn’t comment.
“What was this quarrel about, anyway?”
She flashed him a look of irritation mixed with embarrassment. She was about twenty-five, he guessed, admiring the flush that spread over her smooth skin as she caught him looking at her.
“We’ve probably lost him by now.”
She didn’t comment.
“I hope I didn’t intervene in anything that I shouldn’t have. I hate to see men take advantage of women.”
The flush in her cheeks deepened.
“That’s okay. Thank you again. Believe it or not, that guy’s my foster brother.”
“What, and he’s treating you like that. If I were you I’d report him to the police.”
“My father wouldn’t like me to do something like that.”
“Oh, why not?”
She turned on him, her eyes blazing.
“Have you ever heard about Gus McCreed?”
“Gus, who?”
“Why do you look so shocked? Do you know him?”
“No, I’ve only heard about him, but it doesn’t matter. I’ll drop you home if you wish.”
He frowned. What was Gus Mc Creed’s daughter doing up here?
“What’s your foster-brother’s name?”
“Fred Billings, you’re lucky he didn’t try to shoot you.”
“Does he carry a gun around with him all the time?”
“He’s very violent and unpredictable. That’s all I know.”
“One of these days he’s going to mess with the wrong person.”
“That’s what my father keeps telling him.”
He opened the car door and gestured for her to get in.
“I don’t take rides from strangers. I don’t even know your name.”
He looked at her.
“What do you want me to do? Leave you stranded here? Taxis hardly run up here.”
She looked as if she didn’t believe him.
“My name’s Curtis Johnson but everybody calls me Bendoo. If you want I can show you my identity card.”
She waved him away.
“It’s all right. Do you live up here?”
“I was in the area dropping off something.”
When she got into the car, he noticed that she didn’t have a bag, maybe she had left it in Fred’s car. He drove for a while before she spoke.
“If you drop me in Half Way Tree, I’ll take a taxi home.”
“Wouldn’t it be easier if I took you home?”
“I don’t want to inconvenience you or have you run into Fred again.”
He didn’t say anything. It was a typical Friday evening with many vehicles on the road transporting people home from work, schools and the markets.
They had left Wireless Station Road now and were descending Old Stony Hill Road.
“You didn’t tell me your name.”
“You didn’t ask me.”
She smiled.
“I’m Lorena.”
“Your parents named you well, it suits you. Do you live with them?”
“My mother died years ago. I’m mostly in Ocho Rios to help run our hotel. I come up some weekends.”
“I like Ocho Rios a lot. It’s a beautiful place. Where is your hotel exactly and what’s the name?”
“It’s called the Charlena, after my mother. It’s on Watson Street.”
“Whenever I’m down that way again, I’ll be sure to look you up.”
She laughed.
“I’ll be glad for that. We’re always happy to welcome new guests.”
“Hey, I never knew that Gus McCreed had such a beautiful daughter.”
She laughed again.
“A lot of people say that. They only see one side of my father. But I suppose I got my looks from my mother.”
“It must have been hard on you.”
“Very much, but I suppose God knows best.”
“Is your father, Gus McCreed, the ex-boxer? I use to hear them talk about him.”
“The same person, I can’t remember any of his fights. I was too young, maybe not even born yet. Anyway, I think I’d better end this conversation. My father would be angry if he knew I was discussing him with a complete stranger.”
He wasn’t offended by her remarks. Many people in the force suspected McCreed of illegal activities, but they had nothing against him that could stand up in court. According to the grapevine, he had been a hitman for several American crime syndicates. He was also rumored to be a drug baron.
“Where do you stay when you come up?”
“My father lives in Coopers Hill but that doesn’t matter. I told you I’ll take a taxi home.”
He ignored the rebuff. This girl was hard to understand. One minute friendly, the next, exactly the opposite. In Half Way Tree, she got out, thanked him and walked to the taxi stand. Maybe she had money on her to take a taxi, he thought as he drove off.
He drove up Hope Road for his meeting with his Chief. He wondered what his assignment would be this time.
His last mission had been to track down a gang of drug smugglers operating between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. It had ended in a shoot-out at the gang’s headquarters in Port Antonio. One of the gang members was killed, but the other four were captured and were scheduled to go on trial in early August.
His thoughts turned to McCreed and his beautiful daughter’s face came to mind. Despite his girlfriend being in the United States, he knew he had to see her again.
After he was cleared by the officers on duty, he got to Mc Donald’s office.
Mc Donald was tall, bald headed and had a stony face. He guessed his age to be in the late forties.
After they shook hands, he said.
“I suppose you’re wondering why I sent for you, Bendoo?”
“Yes, sir.”
“A gang of gunmen based in Wareika Hills is responsible for the recent upsurge in criminal activities on the island.”
“We believe that the gang is working for a syndicate and that their operations might not only involve murder and robbery but hard drugs as well. So far we have no evidence. We believe that the only way we can break up the gang is to send a man to infiltrate them and we have decided that you’re the best man for the job.”
“Me, sir? I know you have better men than me in the Force.”
“We might, but we feel that you are the best man for this job.”
“What do I have to do?”
McDonald picked up a file and skimmed a few pages.
“You have to look the part of a Rasta dreadlocks. Then you have to find a way to get into the gang. You’ve got two weeks to prepare for it and then you’re on your own. After you get in, you are to feed us with information about them.”
“How am I going to get in touch with them?”
“Every now and again some of them come to town. How you get in is your business. Your contact will be Delbert Wood.”
Bendoo was aware that the Chief was probably keeping certain details about the forthcoming operations from him. He was avoiding eye contact by looking out of a window. He knew that raids had been made on Wareika but had failed to flush out the criminals. There was talk that information about the raids had been leaked.
“Woody has rented a furnished room for you off Mountain View Avenue. We want you to collect what you’ll need and move in from tonight. He will keep an eye on your car and apartment. We’re putting out a press release that fifteen men will be going to England for a six-week’s training course. Your name will be on the list to account for your absence.”
“How much of a chance do you think I have?”
“Just watch your back.”
“I’ll do the best I can, sir.”
“Good, I know that you won’t let us down.”
McDonald shook his hand.
Bendoo then left the office and went home to his apartment in Queensbury, where he picked up some clothes and other necessary items.
***
Lorena McCreed had lied to Bendoo about taking a taxi home. She could have gotten her car later and let him drop her home, but she didn’t want to chance a fracas if Fred was home.
She took one down to McGrath’s garage on South Camp Road. The employees called it the ‘Factory’ for reasons she had never discovered. Dangler, the garage manager, wiped greasy hands on his overalls as he came to greet her. He led her to her car and held the door open as she climbed in. She drove it once around the yard and stopped beside him.
“How does it drive?”
“It feels all right.”
“Good, those guys worked on it all day yesterday.”
She reached into her pocket and took out three crisp twenty-dollar notes and gave them to him. The charge for the work would be billed to the hotel.
“Buy yourself and those guys a drink,” she said and drove off.
When she reached home, Caslyn was in the kitchen looking after dinner. Caslyn and her mother, Charlene, came from the same village. She had started working for them about twelve years ago and never left. On her weekends off, she returned home to look for her relatives.
“Cas, dad or Fred come home yet?”
“Only Fred, Miss and he didn’t stay long.”
“Did he leave my bag with you?”
“I put it in your room.”
Damn him, she thought and went to her room to retrieve the bag. She took out the Smith and Wesson automatic Colt. 22, her father had insisted that she keep for protection. She had completed a firearms instruction course and kept the weapon with her at all times.
She took a bath, then ate some of the dinner, Caslyn had prepared. She then occupied herself with television, wishing that her father return home soon. She needed to discuss this latest episode with Fred.
Her thoughts strayed from the television to Bendoo. She had seen the bulge of an object resembling a gun through his T-shirt and suspected that he was a member of the armed forces. In addition to the gun, he was clean-shaven. He looked about thirty, making him about six years older than her.
Her childhood sweetheart, Bobby, was a year older than her. He was her next-door neighbor when they lived in Vineyard Town. His family had moved to Barbican before her family went to live in Coopers Hill.
She had started out with boarding school in rural Jamaica. After her mother’s death, she had relocated to Kingston and attended school there. More than anything else, she was interested in partying and couldn’t wait for the holidays. She and Bobby would go to endless parties around town. He was always the life of a party.
They continued the relationship, despite no longer living close to each other; falling in love and planning to marry after they completed university. But five years ago, after attending a party they each hitched a ride home with a different friend. As they drove off, she felt that something would go wrong. Near dawn the next morning, his mother called to tell her that the car with him and his friends had run off the road into a precipice. While his friends escaped with broken limbs, Bobby was the only fatality.
The policemen, who investigated the accident, suspected that another vehicle was involved but couldn’t prove it. She had cried for weeks. She tried hard to take her mind off him. After a while she managed to put him at the back of her mind. When she graduated from university, she returned to her father’s hotel as the assistant general manager. She had actually done her major in computer science while her minor was in management. She envied her girlfriends, who were getting married and having babies while she partied, unable to find a man to spend the rest of her life with.
Then Fred returned from university abroad. He had changed, no longer the jovial youngster she had known. Instead, he had become much more aggressive, almost overbearing. He had several brushes with the law which had cost her father plenty.
His attitude caused most of her male friends to stop visiting her. When she confronted him, he told her that those men weren’t her type.
“It’s none of your business, which man, I talk to.”
“Gus is afraid that these guys are only after his money. I can bet that it’s you who treat them when you go out.”
“So what, it’s not your money I’m using.”
“Gus says I’m to keep an eye on you. I intend to do just that.”
“Go to hell. I’m not telling you who to talk to so why do you want to choose a man for me?”
She had complained to his girlfriend, Johanna Mc Farlane but to no avail. She had fallen back into his arms on his return. She seemed to be the only person, who didn’t notice any changes in him after those four years in America. Maybe it was the upscale apartment he had bought her as well as the large amounts of money he gave her, enabling her to live a life of leisure. She didn’t even seem to care that he had shot and wounded a man in a fight over another woman.
Today was another example of his uncontrollable behavior. Had Bendoo not intervened, she didn’t know what might have happened. She was determined to resolve the matter with her father. If he couldn’t control Fred’s behavior, then she would just have to stay in Ocho Rios permanently.
Sometimes she wondered if the change in him had something to do with her aunt, Delta, refusing to have him -court her daughter, Shermaine. They were in the States studying at the same time. She had heard rumors about the affair even before they both went away. Delta had told her in no uncertain manner that she didn’t want her daughter having anything to do with Fred.

Chapter Two

Two weeks later McDonald took Bendoo and Delbert Wood to see the Commissioner, Hubert Haskins. Haskins was a middle-aged man who had made it out of the ranks to the top. After the customary courtesies, McDonald went straight to business.
“We’re going to give you two weeks to make contact. If you fail we’re going to cancel the whole operation. If you’re successful and reach Wareika, get in touch with Woody at the first opportunity.”
McDonald looked at Bendoo.
“They’ll allow you time to leave the camp so you do it then, but you have to be very careful.”
He paused and surveyed the room.
“Woody will drop you home, from now on you’re on your own.”
Bendoo returned to his lodgings. The two weeks he had spent preparing for the mission and trying to grow a beard had been of some help. He had been to the marijuana yards and had taken some of the stuff. Most nights he was out until late, either at bingo or card games. Sometimes he went to the movies with some of the people from his yard. Everybody called him Bendoo. He had let it be known that his woman was in America and she was filing immigration papers for him.
Wood usually came to look for him in an unmarked car. He brought him letters from his girlfriend, Barbara Newell. He usually called her from a call box on Mountain View Avenue. So when Wood dropped him off at his gate that Monday morning, he knew that he was undercover and the real action was about to begin.
He began to move into areas, which he knew bad men frequented. He returned to his usual haunts. He kept his ears close to the ground hoping to get in contact with one of the gunmen from Wareika but with no luck.
He was desperate to make contact by the beginning of the second week as time was running out. At about four o’clock that Monday afternoon he was walking on Mountain View Avenue when someone shouted.
“Bendoo!”
He didn’t recognize the voice, but froze, thinking that it might be a policeman. A tall, well-dressed dreadlocks came up to him.
“Bendoo, do you remember me?”
He looked at the man, but gave no sign of recognition. He took a closer look.
“What! Nigel, it’s years now since I’ve seen you.”
“That’s true, then what are you doing for yourself now?”
“I’m just hustling, things are rough.”
“I know how it is, it’s the same thing I’m doing too.”
“Come and have a drink, Nigel. I was going to have one when you called me.”
He and Nigel had grown up in the same village, but at the age of fifteen the latter had left for Kingston. He later heard that he had converted to the Rastafarian faith. He heard little news about him after that, but here was the man standing before him with his long locks. The two of them went into a nearby bar.
He bought a few malt beverages and learned that Nigel was now called Niah. He told him that if he wanted work he had some friends whom he could talk to. He told him that he wanted some work as he was low on cash.
They went outside and sat on a bamboo bench under a huge almond tree.
“Is it a long time since you came to town?”
“Country isn’t saying anything. I used to load buses, then I got mixed up in the politics and started to fire guns for certain politicians.”
“Are you good with a gun?”
“It’s few men who can test me. I’ve fired M-16, AK-47, Ruger, Bushmaster, Browning, Beretta, even some home made guns too. Any gun you can think about I’ve fired it already. I was with the Dugout gang from Waterhouse and then I joined the Clappers from the Maxfield. Most a those shops and bars that you see close down on the avenue it’s because of us.”
He then explained to Niah how the Clappers gang met its demise. He told him how he and two other gang members escaped the police dragnet by hiding in an empty cesspool.
Lately the police turned up the heat on them, forcing him to hide out in Mountain View at a brethren’s house.
“Men scatter all over the place. Some are even in the country-side.”
Niah told him where to meet them the next night. They then parted, Niah returning to where he lived and Bendoo to his yard.
He suspected that Niah was part of a gang and didn’t want to tell him. He would find out everything tomorrow night.
In the morning he phoned Wood to let him know that he believed he had made contact. He then informed his landlord that he was returning to the country.
Some of the tenants speculated that he was moving because his papers had come through. He simply told them that he wanted to enjoy some more country life before going to America. Wood brought an unmarked van and together they put the few pieces of furniture and other items into it and moved them back to his apartment.
So that night armed with a bag containing a few pieces of clothes and a gun specially assigned to him for such undercover work, he waited at the corner of Langston Road and Mountain View Avenue. He was there from ten o’clock and was getting impatient when a car drove up, its headlights drowning him. Two men dressed in military fatigues jumped out of the car, guns lining him up.
“You name Bendoo? Get in, Niah told us about you,” one of them ordered.
Bendoo got in beside the driver.
This man’s face was hard, he had several scars from knife cuts, no doubt, he thought. He guessed his age to be in the early thirties. He also guessed that he was in charge of this particular operation.
“Why do you want to join our gang, brethren?” the driver asked.
“Niah told me about you guys. I like what I heard. He said you guys would have no objections to me joining so long as I know how to use a gun.”
“The boss pays good money, but it’s dangerous work and you have to work hard.”
“I love hard work and I’m not afraid of the police or to fire my gun.”
He wondered why the two men in the back of the car kept so silent. Both had their fingers close to the triggers of their rifles.
A Ford pickup drew up beside them as they passed West Kings House Road and turned up Upper Waterloo Road. They were going on a raid, he realized.
***
Joe Simmonds, his wife and children plus their house guest, an American woman, returned home from an art exhibition in Liguanea. Joe stopped his car in front of his gate on Norbrook Drive and was about to get out to open the gate when a white Ford Escort drove up, stopped suddenly. Two men jumped out of the car, guns pointed at them.
The driver of the car, got out, brandishing a handgun.
“All of you come out,” he ordered.
“What’s the meaning of this, have you come to rob me? I can tell you that you aren’t going to get away with it.”
Simmonds began to perspire, but he told the others to get out of the car.
“Where are the dogs, old man? We know that you have bad dogs,” the gang leader stated.
“I don’t have any dogs. What do you want from me?”
“It’s a lie you are telling. You have them inside waiting to attack us. Where are they, old man?” the gang leader repeated.
Then a Ford pickup drove up. In it were three men, two in the front and one in the back. It stopped behind the car and the occupants got out.
“Everything all right so far, Premba?” the driver of the pickup asked the gang leader.
Premba nodded.
The driver of the pickup was on the short side. Probably about five feet four inches and would be about twenty five, Bendoo thought. He had a handgun tucked into his waist.
“What happened to the dogs, Premba?” one of the van sidemen asked.
“They are tied up, Dally,” Premba replied.
The two men who had been pointing guns at Simmonds and his family returned to the car.
“Hey, old man, we want all of you to go into the house and find all the money you have and give us.”
Simmonds again protested.
“What do you want?”
“What do you have to give us? You have enough money in there, old man? It’s a long time we’ve been watching you.”
Simmonds reached the front door of his house now, the five men were breathing down his neck.
“Open the door, old man, don’t bother try anything. Don’t touch any buttons,” Premba warned.
Simmonds pushed open the front door of his two-story house. He and his family and their guest led the way into the living room, followed by the gang members, two of whom raced upstairs.
“Chaser and Dally, both of you come back down.”
The two youths retreated downstairs. Simmonds could see that they were mere boys.
“Where were both of you going? Just sit down and listen to what I have to say. You know that I don’t joke with no man.”
“Yes, Premba,” Dally replied as they both joined their companions on the soft couches.
Premba and Joe Simmonds were left standing.
“Now, old man, you are going to lead us upstairs. Who is up there?”
“Everybody who lives in this house is here. Nobody else is here.”
“You must have a helper and a gardener. Where are they?”
“They don’t live on,” Mrs. Simmonds replied.
Premba looked at her.
“Are you his wife? Who is she and who are they?” he asked, pointing to a thirty something Caucasian looking woman and a teenaged boy and girl.
The middle-aged woman hesitated before replying.
“I’m his wife and she is our house guest and they are our two children.”
She pointed to each person as she spoke.
Premba nodded.
“Old man, we want all that you can give us, the more cash the better. See, we have a pickup outside; we want it full before we leave.”
“Where is your vault with the money?”
“I don’t have any vault.”
“Where do you keep your valuables?”
Simmonds didn’t answer.
“Joe, give him whatever money we have,” Mrs. Simmonds pleaded.
“Duffus, did you cut the telephone wires?” the gang leader asked.
Duffus nodded.
“See, you can’t get any help and the two men with the long guns will shoot anybody they see leaving their house.”
Simmonds gave Premba his wallet.
“It’s only two hundred dollars in there,” Premba said and flung the wallet down on the floor.
“Old man, we know that you have a vault. Go and open it and let us see what you have in there.”
“Joe, why don’t you do as he says?”
Joe Simmonds climbed the stairs ahead of the gang leader. Two minutes later they descended the stairs. Premba had a money pan with him. He took the key from Simmonds and opened it. He took out the money and counted it.
“It’s just four hundred dollars in there. It’s a big vault the man has, full of paper.”
“Maybe if we took away your son, or your daughter we would get more money,” Duffus suggested.
Bendoo looked at their captives and could see them cringing up in fear at Duffus’ latest suggestion.
“We are going to take away their valuables. Come, Duffus and Bendoo let us see what else they have here.”
The three men then went through a systematic search of the house. Everything valuable that could be easily disposed of was taken. The whole operation lasted the half hour it had been timed for. Simmonds and his family and their guest could only look in awe as the robbers moved their loot out of the house to the pickup.
“We are finished now,” Premba announced. He was holding a videocassette recorder.
“It’s a long time I’ve wanted one of these things, now me and my girlfriend can get to watch some blue movies.”
“What are we going to do with these people?” Duffus asked.
“Let them stay, hey, Mister Simmonds, you see the man with the long gun, the big fat one. You must thank the Lord that he and I are not the same. If I ever let him loose, he would smash up your house,” Premba declared as his captives cowered before him.
“What happen, aren’t you going to take away these women’s rings and the old man’s too?” Bendoo asked.
“Come, take off the rings and the chains. And you, Mr. Simmonds, we are still not pleased that it’s just this little amount of money we found in your house.”
“How is that, old man? A rich man like you should have more money than that,” Duffus stated.
“Where is the rest of the money, daddy?” Bendoo asked.
“Please, my husband has no more money. Why do you believe that because we live in a big house, we are rich?” Mrs. Simmonds asked.
“Your husband owns a lot of companies. He is a multi-millionaire. Just give us the rest of the money that you have,” Premba told her.
“They are trying to fool us. They must have more money in their house,” Bendoo insisted.
“Those things you have taken are worth thousands of dollars. I could never replace them, what more do you want?” Simmonds pleaded.
Premba looked at him.
“You want us to beat you up, elder? Where’s the rest of the money?”
“Make him get up and go show us,” Bendoo suggested.
“He doesn’t have any more money,” their guest cried. “Can’t you understand?”
“Where is your money?” Premba turned on her.
“I only have two hundred and fifty dollars. If I give it to you, will you take it and go?”
“Sure, just give it to us.”
“Come with me,” she said and stood up.
“No, go for the money and bring it to him, Liz,” Mrs. Simmonds warned.
Premba hissed his teeth.
“What are you afraid of, woman?” he asked, looking at her.
He then followed the American woman up the stairs into her room. Presently he returned with a roll of bills, the woman behind him, he was smiling.
“Come, my friends, let’s leave.”
“You got all of the money, she said she had?” Bendoo asked.
“Yes, these people don’t have any more money.”
Premba pointed his gun at each of his captives, in turn.
“Any of you ever feel gunshot yet? You see if any of you ever report this to the police, those two guys with the long guns will be coming back for all of you.”
“Cut off the lights, Duffus.”
The whole house was soon plunged into darkness as the robbers ran towards their vehicles. Bendoo and Premba got into the car and the latter started it.
The two men were in the back with their guns at the ready. One of them fished some marijuana cigarettes out of a bag and lit one each for himself, the other man, Bendoo and Premba.
Duffus drove off the Ford pickup a few seconds before them, a tarpaulin covering the stolen merchandise. Dally was beside him in the front while Chaser was in the back. The time was one o’clock.
Premba drove onto a dirt road and stopped. Duffus had parked on the main road near the dirt track. Bendoo was surprised at the number of heavily armed men waiting for them. In a short time the pickup was emptied of its contents as the robbers and their cronies made their way back to their hideout with the Simmonds’ possessions.
***
Dally crept into his house through the back door. He shared the room with his younger brother, Clive who was now snoring very loudly. He closed the door and dug into his pocket for his matches and lit the kerosene oil lamp. His mother couldn’t afford electricity, so she made them use that kind of lamp.
He sat himself down in a chair. His dinner was on the table, but he wasn’t hungry. He was thinking about Mr. Simmond’s son, Russell. They had played both football and cricket against each other. He had seen the look of stark recognition on the youth’s face. The boy would inform the police that he was a member of the gang that had robbed his parent’s home. The police only had to check at school or come into the area to find out where he lived. He had to leave the area and give up school. He should have shot Russell or at least tell Premba about it. They should have worn masks. Now he alone was in trouble.
He went to the small dresser and quietly opened the drawers. He began to take out his clothes. He took his other pair of shoes and a few more pieces of clothes as much as the bag could hold.
Clive was snoring even louder now. He took out his wallet and counted eighty-four dollars in it. He took a ten-dollar bill and threw it on the bed.
He then picked up his bag and went through the door gently closing it behind him so as not to awaken Clive. His next move would be to check Chaser. He would tell him about Russell, as he didn’t know the youth as he went to a junior high school. The two of them would go to the Factory and then be taken to Wareika Hills.

Chapter Three

Neil Mc Donald was sitting on the patio of his Red Hills Height’s home. He was thinking about the two meetings he had today. He was also thinking about Bendoo. The first meeting was called by the Commissioner for senior operating officers. The discussion mostly centered around the ransacking of businessman, Joe Simmond’s house by a gang of armed thugs. Haskins told them that he had gone there last night and the place was in shambles. On arrival on the scene, he was greeted by reporters, all of whom
wanted his reaction to what had taken place. Photographers were snapping up everything. A deputy superintendent, attached to operations, Brendan Fox, was also on the scene as well as several other policemen.
Nothing much had come out of the meeting. Bill Nugent, the crime chief said that Simmonds had identified three of the robbers as persons on the most wanted list from the papers. It was generally agreed that it was men from Wareika. Everybody was of the view that the Wareikans were working for some of the biggest drug syndicates on the island. Simmonds wasn’t aligned to any of them so it was puzzling why they would raid his house. The meeting was almost finished when Haskins got a call from the Minister of National Security, Duncan Fuller, that he wanted a meeting with him. Fuller told him that the army top men would be there.
McDonald knew that the Minister didn’t have operational control over the military. He had, however gotten the permission of the Prime Minister to include them in important security discussions.
From what he knew of the Minister, he was of medium height and was beginning to go bald. A lawyer, he became Minister when his predecessor didn’t seek re-election, preferring to go to Canada as High Commissioner.
***
Once again the topic centered around the Simmonds.
“They smashed up the man’s house and robbed him and his family. They took two hundred and fifty dollars from that American woman,” Fuller lamented.
“Mr. Simmonds said that he recognized three of the men from their pictures in the papers. Those men come from Wareika,” Bill Nugent, the crime chief stated.
“We sent men up there after them and up to now we can’t get them out of there.”
“Those men have time to hide their weapons and because it’s so high up they can see anybody coming up there after them,” Bruce Mallory, the army Chief of Staff argued.
“I am clueless as to why they would rob Mr. Simmonds. Unless they are looking for some soft targets,” Wayne Powell, the police operations chief remarked.
“Bruce, you and Hubert devise some plan to deal with those criminals. I have a meeting with the Prime Minister, tomorrow. Only hope that none of this comes up.”
Mc Donald had gone in the Minister’s car and explained that he had an operative at Wareika.
“I only read about secret agents in books or see them in movies, but I’m willing to listen to you.”
“I have a dossier on him.”
He passed the file to the Minister.
Fuller leafed through the file.
“He looks like a good man. I only hope he can pull it off.”
“I’m sure he can.”
Fuller passed the file to Mallory.
Mc Donald was aware that the Minister was annoyed because after the last raid on the gang’s headquarters, things had calmed down considerably.
He knew that last night’s atrocities had blown the lid off. Already there were calls from opposition political parties, several civic and business organizations for something to be done. Something like this happening again and Fuller would certainly be in trouble with the Prime Minister.
“What you have here is not a bad idea,” Mallory remarked.
“It’s not bad, but it’s going to take too long.”
Fuller looked at Mc Donald.
“I’m going to give you a chance Neil, but you only have until the middle of next month.”
That would only give Bendoo two weeks. It wasn’t much time, but if the gang kept quiet there was a chance that he could buy some more time out of the Minister.

Chapter Four

Premba drove the Fiat motor car along the Rock Hall main road before making the appropriate right turn and heading up into Coopers Hill. There were two other men in the car, Ardez and an African-American, Karl Rattigan. They went through a maze of roads, finally ending up on one called Reef Close. Premba stopped the car in front of a big iron gate, which guarded a huge mansion. Two Doberman dogs moved silently towards the gate. The occupants of the car had their windows down as they enjoyed the cool mountain air.
Caslyn came to the gate as the men came out of the car. She led the dogs to their kennel and locked it before returning to the visitors.
“What’s happening, Cas? It’s a long time since I’ve seen you,” Premba greeted her.
The other two men greeted her too. They made their usual half-joking comments and offers to party with her while she opened the gate and led them to the porch.
“Let me call the boss.”
She left them on the porch and went into the house.
***
At that moment Gus McCreed was seated in a lounge chair near his swimming pool. A girl barely out of her teens, was lying across his knees and he was tickling her ribs. When the telephone rang, she picked it up and handed it to him. He listened for a few seconds before hanging up. He pushed her off his knees and stood up.
“I have business to do, you go up to the house and lay down until I come up.”
The girl disappeared up the steps.
The three men came down to the swimming pool.
“Hey, Gus, how’s the man?” Rattigan asked.
Gus smiled.
“All of you come and sit down.”
He pointed to the other chairs beside the pool.
“Let me get some drinks for you.”
“I want a beer, I’m really thirsty,” Ardez stated.
“One for me too, ” Premba put in.
“I’ll just drink a coke,” Rattigan requested.
“Hey Cas, come down here.”
Gus looked up as the girl came down to the pool.
“Yes, sir, you called me?”
“Bring some beers, soft drinks, glasses and a bucket of ice.”
“Yes, sir.”
She hurried up to the house.
“Cas seems to be getting fatter.”
Rattigan pointed to her retreating figure.
“You want to try her?” Gus asked.
“Another time.”
“If you keep fooling around these women, Rattigan, you’re going to be a nervous wreck by the time you return to the States,” Ardez warned.
“Show me the one I can’t manage, Ardez.”
“Rattigan, I saw you checking some real sexy girls. You’re going to need lots of strength to manage those girls. If you eat the local food, you’ll be all right, but as you’re not used to the taste you might have to try some seafood,” Premba put in.
“Those real sexy girls will drain you of your strength,” Gus warned.
“It’s the same thing I’ve told him, but he doesn’t believe me, says I’m talking foolishness,” Ardez said. “You can buy some okra too. Let your woman steam it down for you or if she doesn’t know how to do it, you can beg one of those girls.”
Caslyn came with the drinks. She put the tray down on a table and the men took their drinks. Rattigan winked at her, but she gave him a blank stare and made her way back upstairs.
“Gus, we did a little raid last night, nothing big. It’s just to keep the boys active,” Ardez told him.
While he didn’t approve of these off the cuff raids, Mc Creed couldn’t fault Ardez.
“Did everything go as planned? I don’t want any unplanned killings or any unlawful acts.”
All three of his visitors assured him that nothing like that happened.
“Did Butler give trouble again? Why don’t you shoot him one of these days, Premba, or stab him up? If you aren’t careful he will spoil one of these raids for you guys.”
“I had to keep him out of the people’s house this time. He can work, but when he sees liquor and women he goes crazy and most of the times I have to draw my gun on him.”
“He wants a bullet, that’s what he’s working for.”
“Let him go on, he’s going to feel my nine millimeter
one of these days.”
“The new man, Bendoo, acted all right? Who brought him in?”
“Niah told us about him. Said that he used to fire guns for that big politician, Colbert Nevers,’’ Ardez told him.
“Oh, Nevers, he used to work for that dirty fucker.”
Mc Creed remembered how he had helped the man
win his seat, hoping to get some contracts for him to supply various government projects with hardware supplies but it never happened. As a matter of fact he only got two contracts hardly enough to make up for his contribution to the man’s campaign.
“Bendoo’s all right, he’s tough, a good man for us to have,” Premba assured them.
“You’re right, we don’t want any idiots with us, it’s pure bad men we’re dealing with.”
“How do you think the police will react when they find out that it was us?” Rattigan asked.
“K is handling that, he’s going to send me information on what they plan to do.”
K was a highly placed police official, who was in a position to supply the gang with the information they needed. It was he who had informed them about the two impending raids on their hideout.
Mc Creed knew the importance of keeping well paid informants in strategic positions. None of them, except K knew him personally. They were paid out of an account, which he kept for such purposes.
“K should have something interesting to tell us, this being our first raid in a long time,” Rattigan declared.
“He’d better have, that’s what we’re paying him to do.”
“What’s the next move, Gus? See one hundred dollars of the money we took from an American woman we saw up at Simmond’s house,” Ardez said, handing him the money.
“Shame on you, Ardez, take it and buy some drinks for yourself and those guys.”
Rattigan laughed.
Karl Rattigan was an athletic looking man. His father was an African-American while his mother was from the Dominican Republic. A Vietnam veteran, on his return from the war he had done short stints with both the F.B.I and the C.I.A before coming to work for Paolo Colombo, who owned several gambling dens in Miami. He also controlled a huge portion of the city’s drug trafficking.
Rattigan specialized in setting up drug trafficking rings.
When Colombo had been thinking of spreading his tentacles overseas, he had been sent to do the job. So far he had succeeded in setting up drug trafficking rings in several countries. Countless numbers of highly placed government officials had been bribed to turn a blind eye to the Colombo operations.
Jamaica had a lot of drug syndicates, so Colombo wanted to ensure he chose the right one. Some of these syndicates had gunmen just as dangerous as the Columbians or the Mafia. The country produced the best marijuana. It was also strategically placed to be used as a transhipment port for getting hard drugs from South America to the United States.
This was where Junior ‘Ardez’ Marriot had proved useful. Originally a waiter, he had migrated to the United States to join his mother and sister. His first job was as a waiter in a restaurant owned by Colombo.
One night he had wounded an African-American in a fight outside the restaurant. Colombo had been impressed. His Jamaican roots and Puerto Rican features were a distinct advantage. Colombo had easily gotten him off the rap and made him throw a gun for him. When things had gotten too hot for him, he had fled to Jamaica aboard a marijuana plane with twenty-five grand hidden in a secret compartment of his suitcase.
He rented a room in Kingston and banked the loot in several different banks so as not to arouse suspicions. He wanted to buy a minibus and had discussed the matter with several of his friends.
He was still debating the idea when one evening he came home to find his front door half-open. He entered cautiously to find two men sitting in his sofas, smoking marijuana, both had guns pointing at him. His hands had dropped instinctively to his pocket for his own gun. One of the men laughed and reached into his pocket for the gun that Ardez had left in the bottom drawer of his dresser.
“Are you looking for your gun, Ardez?” the man asked. “See it here, we found it in your dresser.”
“How come you just broke into my house like that and ransack the place? What do you want with me? Are you policemen?”
The man, who had his gun, stood up and stretched.
“We’ve been looking for you for a long time, Ardez. Mister Colombo says he wants you to return his money.”
“Wants me to return what? I have no money for him. Look how many millions he has. Why is he bothering me about this little money?”
“He has some business out here he wants you to handle for him. He wants you to come up and see him,” the taller gunman told him.
“Me to go back to the States, you’re mad.”
“Are you disrespecting our boss, Ardez?” the shorter gunman asked. The other man was drawing hard on his marijuana cigarette, but the muzzle of the gun he was holding never wavered from Ardez’s heart.
“What are you going to do, shoot me?”
“Easy, Ardez, the boss is dealing with some big money and you stand to get some of it,” the taller gunman said, trying to calm him down. The two men had talked to him about Paolo’s proposal. After much persuasion and assurances that he wouldn’t be harmed, he had agreed to go up and see Colombo.
The drug baron had given him details of what he wanted to be done. Returning to Jamaica he had contacted Gus McCreed. After much persuasion, the man had accompanied him back to Miami. Colombo wanted all the marijuana he could get plus he wanted to use the island as a transhipment port for hard drugs from South America to the United States. He had agreed to supply Mc Creed with weapons and training for his fighters in order to protect the syndicate. That was where Rattigan with his Vietnam experience had come in.
He also wanted to contact some people on the island, with whom his father previously had dealings. Many of them were former drug smugglers, who were now operating legitimate business concerns. He wanted McCreed’s men to contact these people for him as with their legitimate fronts, they could easily handle the drug smuggling business for him.
“We contact all of these people tomorrow and let them know that we want them to help us.”
“Suppose they refuse?” Premba asked.
Mc Creed looked at him.
“Any one of them who refuses, we’re going to deal with them.”
Premba took out a cigarette and lit it. He inhaled deeply.
“Let’s go up to the house,” Mc Creed said.
The house had two stories and contained twelve rooms and a huge patio which extended down to the swimming pool area. It had out-rooms for the helper and gardener. It was one of those modern designed houses. McCreed had personally overseen its construction. It had cost him a tidy sum, but it was well worth it.
He could entertain guests without feeling cramped for space.
From the balcony of his mansion, he had a panoramic view of Kingston.
The four men sat in the living room. A very expensive looking burgundy rug covered the floor. A big television set sat in the middle of the room.
“You got a palace here, Gus,” Rattigan remarked.
“It took me years to build,” Mc Creed replied. He got up and disappeared into the kitchen. Presently he returned with a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Scotch Whiskey, a bucket of ice and some glasses.
Over the whiskey, Rattigan asked.
“Where’s Cas, Gus?”
“She’s sleeping. It looks like you want her man to cut you up.”
“I could have a knife in him before he blinks, Gus.”
Mc Creed burst out laughing.
Ardez was more interested in Friday’s operations.
“I would like to see these people’s files,” he requested of Mc Creed.
“Okay,” Mc Creed replied. He left and went into another room, returning with the documents.
“These are the reports on the people you’ll be visiting on Friday.”
He passed the files around to the men and they read in silence.
“Boss, these people are so powerful that it seems hard to believe they’ll take those kinds of risks to help us,” Premba opined.
“We have something on all of them. The majority of them are crooks and we can destroy them if we want.”
“Let’s see how they react to our demands,” Rattigan remarked.
“Fred and I have drawn up the plans for Friday. I want you all to read them carefully before briefing the men,” Gus told them before handing Ardez a thick brown file.
Ardez took the file from him. Gus looked at his watch.
“It’s seven o’clock,” he said. “Let’s call it a day. K should have contacted me by now, wonder what’s preventing him? Anyway, I’ll contact you if I hear anything new from him.”
Ardez stood up with the file. His two companions stood up too.
“I’ll be seeing you, Gus,” he said as they marched out of the room.
Mc Creed received K’s report at eight o’clock that evening. He dismissed the report as containing nothing of strategic importance. Nevertheless, he was worried. He wondered if they had made an error in raiding a man like Joe Simmonds house. The man was a multi-millionaire owning several companies. In the future, he would warn Ardez against any such ventures and against such high profile targets. He didn’t anticipate another attack on Wareika. The security forces would have learned their lesson and would therefore resort to other methods to destroy Wareika. He had urged K to find out what those plans were.

Chapter Five

Gus McCreed was born in Kendal in the parish of Manchester in central Jamaica. The little farming village was to be made famous, some thirty-seven years later by that horrendous train crash. At twenty he had migrated to Kingston via a market truck. That was in the forties. Kingston had been hell in those days of widespread poverty. He had stopped with relatives in Allman Town. There had been restlessness on the streets as the trade union movement began to take root. After much loafing and partaking in free for all brawls, he had found work at the Golden Emerald nightclub and restaurant. The early shift saw him working as a doorman in the restaurant and when he worked late it was that of a bouncer in the nightclub.
He had developed into a fearsome young man, fearing no one and ready to take on all comers. It was here that he learned about the power of money.
The way he had seen the local people humiliated at the Golden Emerald had turned something inside of him. The rich locals taken into society owed it to their wealth. Gus knew that he had to make a lot of money if he wanted to be powerful.
He was a womanizer, sleeping around with the women in his yard, at the nightclub and eventually with this fabulous married woman, Paula Jones. He knew that it was a rule of management that employees weren’t allowed to get romantically involved with patrons, but Paula’s charm and beauty swept him off his feet and he ended up in her bed. When the manager heard about his romantic escapade with the patron, he was fired immediately.
After he left the club, he moved from one job to another. He later learned that one of Paula’s neighbors had informed her husband about her one night stand with him and the man had given her a frightful beating. Gus didn’t feel any remorse about what had happened to her; after all she had cost him his job.
He gambled a great deal and was used to carrying a gun. He used it frequently when he started working for Rhyging, who was overlord of the Jamaican underworld in the forties.
Gus was in Kingston when he heard the news.
Rhyging had been killed in a shootout with the police over
at Lime Quay. He had fled the island when he managed to buy a boat ride to America. He stopped with a friend in a small apartment on the West Indian side of the Bronx. He was soon involved in peddling bootlegged liquor, a killing and gang warfare before he became the number one hit man for the Carlo Santini mob. He soon wanted to quit, but the crime boss had set him up to take the rap for several unsolved murders. Once again, he had to take flight with the Santini organization hot on his heels. He had stowed away on a Jamaican bound ship by bribing the captain.
Once in his homeland, Gus had thought that the Santinis would forget about him, so he had begun to haunt his old digs again. One night after a visit to one of his women off Red Hills Road, he took a taxi to his home in Duhaney Park. Another man was in the front of the car. The driver told him that the man had begged him a lift to his home in Pembroke Hall. He saw nothing strange about it reasoning that the men were obviously friends. The soft life had made him lose much of his wariness. On the way home, the men had stopped the car and he found himself staring into the muzzle of a gun.
“Gus McCreed, you dirty fucker. Do you know how long I’ve wanted to kill you? Mister Carlo paid me good money to get rid of you.”
Looking the man in the eyes Gus realized how stupid he had been. This was Speedo Driscoll, the New York assassin. He had done some special work for Santini, he remembered.
The three men got out of the car.
Gus had heard that the thin man was a cold-blooded killer, who liked to see his victims suffer before he got rid of them.
They relieved him of his gun, then took him to the edge of a gully. It was one of those concrete made canals, built to take flood waters down to the sea. He was sure that the waters from this gully would run down into the Sandy Gully. It was wide and deep, although it was only dangerous when flooded. One would likely break all their limbs if not their neck if they fell into this gully.
“I’ll give you a chance, Gus, but you have to try jumping that gully,” Speedo said, pointing down into the gully.
“Damn it, Speedo, you’re going to kill me, your own black brother for some white son-of-a-bitch?”
“I collected the man’s money already,” came the gunman’s harsh reply.
Gus knew that he was telling the truth. To a working professional gunman, the only important thing was the amount of money he was being paid to do the job. In desperation, he shouted.
“Speedo, watch it, car coming!”
The gunman had fallen for the cheap trick and turned around and Gus lunged at him.
The taxi driver stabbed at Gus and missed as he swiveled his body away from the knife. He tripped the driver and as the man fell, kicked him, making him roll to the edge of the gully, lose his balance and fall over. They heard his screams as he fell into the gully. Speedo fired at Gus, who threw himself on the ground as the bullet flew over his head.
Speedo was now trying to bring his gun to bear on Gus again, but the bigger man’s fist tore into him sending him spinning sideways. He was over him and kicked the gun out of his hand. He then dragged the killer to the edge of the gully.
The little man was begging for mercy now. Gus ignored his pleas and shoved him over the gully. He paused only to listen to the agonized screams of the killer and the sound his body made, as it came into contact with the concrete at the bottom of the gully.
Gus collected his own gun, Speedo’s gun, the taxi man’s knife and the spent shell and took them home with him.
As he neither listened to the news nor read the newspapers, Gus could only guess as to what had happened to both men. He suspected that they may have gotten some life threatening injuries when they fell in the gully. He did make some inquiries from people who lived in the area, but nobody seemed to know anything. After that he never heard from the crime syndicate again.
Gus reflected that apart from being paid to kill him by the crime boss, Speedo may have been carrying a grudge against him because of the rumors about him and his wife. He had only begun sleeping with the man’s wife after she left him.
He had spent the next two and a half years doing some boxing, but decided that the sport was too tough and he was getting too many head blows. He threw in the towel after he lost a fight, he thought he had won.
He then decided to use his savings to open a wholesale store in Downtown, Kingston. There was fierce competition as the Jews, Chinese and Syrians dominated the trade. He wasn’t afraid to take a few pieces of stolen merchandise from the boys since they were willing to take a fraction of the price for it. Business had progressed so well that he eventually branched out into hardware dealing, buying the adjacent premises to open that store.
By this time he had met Charlene Raymond, a registered nurse, and they had gotten married after a six-months period of courtship. She got pregnant soon thereafter. Charlene was an American citizen as she had actually been born in the States. He didn’t object when she decided to have her baby over there so that it could have citizenship of that country. However, he had felt a tinge of disappointment that it wasn’t a boy and more when she failed to get pregnant again. However, Lorena was a bundle of joy and then one day a little boy was left in one of his stores.
Nobody saw the woman, who left him there. A piece of paper in one of his pockets disclosed that his name was Fred Billings and that he was two years old. Gus decided to take him home and when his mother never showed up to claim him, started treating him as the son he never had. He decided to give the boy the best education he could have despite Charlene’s reservations.
He had also tried his hand at politics, contributing to Dean Merchant and later Colbert Nevers’ campaigns. He had lost off both men for Merchant ran unsuccessfully and although Nevers made it to parliament he had virtually turned his back on him. He had vowed to stay far from politics.
A few years later he moved into the marijuana trade. Several syndicates, some of them, with heavily armed men, were controlling the trade.
Rather than form a syndicate, Gus had been content to go it alone, relying on his reputation as a former mob hit man to keep his rivals at bay. It was not long before he realized that he had to get his own fighters too. He had recruited several men to take the fight to his rivals. At least two syndicates had been destroyed and one of their leaders killed while the other was seriously wounded. The marijuana money had enabled him to build a hotel in Ocho Rios and a mansion in Coopers Hill.
It was after they had moved from Vineyard Town to Coopers Hill that his troubles with Charlene began. He began staying out late at nights, and on weekends, in Ocho Rios, ostensibly for business but more for womanizing. Charlene hadn’t liked it. Relations between them deteriorated, as they were constantly quarrelling. Lorena was at boarding school so she didn’t see the life that existed between her parents.
Finally, Charlene returned to live with her sister in Vineyard Town in East Kingston. By this time his name was being linked to the underworld. Still, she didn’t seek a divorce or return to full-time nursing. He supported her and Lorena, sending them a hefty check each month. When Charlene died from cancer, Lorena decided to return home and attend school in Kingston. At sixteen years old, she was capable of looking after herself.
She was his daughter and he loved her, but there was always that look in her eyes. An accusing stare as if to say ‘You were responsible for my mother’s unhappiness’. He tried to improve his relationship with her by cutting down on his drinking and his love life.
Lorena had made excellent progress in high school, and had gone on to do a successful degree course in Computer and Management at the University.
When she returned, he had sent her down to the hotel in Ocho Rios as the assistant general manager.
She was as fiery as her mother had been. He would have loved to see her taken out of his hands, if only Bobby hadn’t died in that terrible car crash.
A year after Charlene’s death, he met Rosalee Pearson. She was a widow and fifteen years his junior. They met at a petrol service station on Red Hills Road when he helped to put air in her car tires. He was attracted to her and struck up a conversation. They saw each other regularly and soon started a relationship. Her accountant husband had been killed in a car crash in Southern Florida. They had agreed that she would resign her job to take the kids around while he remained in the States. Everything seemed to be working out until tragedy struck, leaving her alone to raise three girls aged ten, twelve and fourteen.
He knew that the insurance money she would get would only allow her to live for a couple of years without resuming work. He understood her fear of getting into any serious relationships let alone marriage. He had tried to help the girls, buying them presents and helping Rosa with transporting them home from school. The girls’ relationship with Lorena was barely cordial; maybe it was the age difference. Rosa felt satisfied with the relationship. Her daughters seemed to be growing up and they weren’t as tense and withdrawn, as they were a year or two after their father died. A year ago, she had informed him that their immigration papers had come through.
He had known that her sister was filing for her. She had explained that she wanted to see her daughters through school so that the whole family would be going up. He had asked her if she wanted help but she had refused, saying that she had enough money plus her sister had a job waiting for her. She had rented out her house in Orange Grove. He had dropped them at the airport that day with Rosa, telling him that as soon as the girls were on their own she would return to him. In the meantime, they would have to be satisfied with a long distance relationship.
With more money coming in from the expanded marijuana business he was able to open up another hardware store, Uptown, Kingston. Marijuana was serving as a third economy in Jamaica. The government had clamped down on several occasions.
Several of his marijuana fields as well as airstrips were destroyed. Stiffer penalties were also introduced. These were only temporary measures to appease the American authorities. He was able to keep a low profile and with the help of K and other agents, keep his men from being arrested. When the clampdown ceased, he was able to resume full activities again. It was during one of these lulls in activities that Ardez, a waiter at the Golden Emerald for a short time, sold him the idea of collaborating with the Miami drug lord, Paolo Colombo. He was surprised when the man contacted him because the latest he had heard was that he was living in the States and was a big time gangster. He had been reluctant to have anything to do with Colombo, remembering his New York experience with Carlo Santini.
Ardez had explained that there was plenty of money in it for both of them if they played their cards right. He also explained to Gus what had happened to him. To Gus it sounded very similar to his own experience with the Santinis.
He had been up to Miami to see Colombo, who had explained his plans to him. Colombo surprised him. He didn’t look like the typical drug lord and there were no armed bodyguards present.
There had been about three days of negotiations until the deal was finally signed. Colombo would pocket sixty percent of the profits, Gus twenty-five percent and Ardez fifteen. Rattigan would come to Jamaica a week later, on a two month contract to train the fighters.
On return to Jamaica he had contacted some men living in the Wareika Hills. All were on the dodge from the police for one reason or another.
Gus’ men were moved to the hills and more fighters recruited. More shacks were built up and more homes raided to furnish these shacks. The gang was to protect the marijuana fields from rival syndicates and to protect the drug smuggling ring when it started. The base at Wareika had hardly been set up when at least one other syndicate and several individuals had challenged them.
The subsequent war had the police investigating this upsurge in serious crimes and they were able to pinpoint the perpetrators as criminals hiding out at Wareika. When the combined police and military launched their attack, they were ambushed all along the way and had to beat a hasty retreat, suffering minor casualties. A second attack had met the same fate.
The gang had gotten rid of the last resistance and now all the marijuana Colombo wanted he could get. It had been a hard fight to get rid of the last obstacle to his setting up a syndicate. Danny King was almost as big as he was before he teamed up with Colombo. Had he not had the Wareikans he could never have defeated King and break up his syndicate.
McCreed heaved a sigh of weariness, emptied his glass of whisky and flexed his big muscles. He stood up and started for upstairs to join an already sleeping Cynthia.

Chapter Six

Danny King sat on the patio of his Cherry Gardens home with his two friends, Bradley ‘Brad’ Elliot and Lester ‘Lex’ Malcolm. He sipped his gin and tonic as he reflected on the past. He was one of the biggest players in the marijuana business until Gus McCreed moved in. The two men had confronted each other in a battle that had threatened to turn the streets of Kingston red.
King remembered Dickson Lunan. Lunan had teamed up with him against Mc Creed, but had pulled out his forces at the last minute leaving him exposed on several fronts. His retreating forces were easy targets for his enemy’s gunmen. A couple of days later he had found out where Lunan was holed up. He had gathered whatever forces he could find and attacked him. Mc Creed had come to his aid and his forces were beaten back. He didn’t know where that traitor was now. He had sworn to kill him wherever and whenever they met.
In the final battle, McCreed’s superior forces had defeated him once again. Several of his men were killed and he had to negotiate a truce with his archenemy. This had not gone down well with his remaining men; all of whom had seen several of their comrades killed in cold blood and wanted revenge.
However, although his children were abroad, King still felt that he had a family to protect. The truce effectively sent him into retirement and to make do with his merchant tailoring business as his only source of income. He had closed down his ten year old security firm five years ago. His surviving fighters had joined other syndicates or migrated. Brad Elliot and Lex Malcolm were small players, who felt increasingly threatened by McCreed’s growing dominance of the trade.
Lex Malcolm was tall and wiry and in his late forties. He had been in the laundry and dry-cleaning business for the past twenty-one years and was comfortably rich. However, his probings into the marijuana business had paid huge dividends and he wanted more. Gus McCreed, the obstacle had to be removed.
Brad Elliot was short and fat. He was in his early forties and his auto parts store was doing quite well. However, over the past few months he had been making plenty money out of marijuana, supplying Lex Malcolm, that was until Gus McCreed moved in. It was too much money for one man to stand in his way. Gus McCreed had to be eliminated.
Brad Elliot would buy the marijuana from growers in the rural areas. He would cure it and then Lex would get it shipped. He would then pay Brad after taking his commission. The warehouse with all their machines was burned to the ground one night and everything destroyed. When Brad contacted the growers they said they were now contracted to a new man. They refused to tell him the man’s name. He suspected that it was Mc Creed. Both he and Lex knew then that they needed help.
Both men knew that King had a sordid past. He was suspected of more than one murder, was hauled before the courts several times, but got away when witnesses failed to show up.
“King, I thought that you made a mistake in signing that peace treaty with McCreed. It’s that treaty, which allowed him to get so powerful,” Lex stated.
“You know what Lunan did to me. He left me exposed on several fronts. I lost several of my men because of him.”
“You should never have trusted Lunan,” Lex told him.
“I’m breaking the treaty now and declaring war on Mc Creed.”
Lex took out his gold cigarette case and lighter, helped himself and then passed them around.
“I feel that you gave up too easily. If you’re going to lead this syndicate, we want positive leadership.”
King was riled.
“I said that the peace treaty is off. You guys weren’t around during that war. I simply didn’t have enough fighters and ammunition to continue fighting.”
“Go easy, King,” Brad intervened. “Lex means that we have to fight this guy to the bitter end.”
“But that’s what we’re going to do. We haven’t even started planning yet and he wants results already.”
“Why don’t we get a man to bump him off?” Lex suggested.
“If you get rid of McCreed you’re only doing Fred Billings a big favor,” King opined. “Remember that he killed a man and shot and wounded another since returning from America.”
“You never even heard a thing about it after it happened, they just squashed it,” Brad stated.
“McCreed bought it out, you can bet that’s what happened. I hear that his daughter carries a gun too,” King put in.
“That family consists of pure gun toting people, but that can’t stop us if we’re serious and want to move against them,” Lex opined.
Brad ignored Lex’s impatience.
“Why don’t we try to infiltrate his organization?” he suggested. “We could get to Fred, feed him a line, let him know that we’re interested in seeing him take over from McCreed. The way I hear it is that he wants to take over, the earlier the better. That guy is certainly ambitious.”
“His ambitions might earn him an early grave,” King remarked.
“You know anybody close to him?” Brad asked.
“Rory Dillon knows him, and he and I are good friends. We could give him a message to give him,” King suggested.
“If I know Rory, he’ll want to know what kind of dealings we and Fred are in,” Brad stated.
“I will take care of Rory,” King told them.
“Jack is supposed to join us, he didn’t contact you, King?” Brad asked.
“He had to go to Ocho Rios, but he said he’ll be at our next meeting.”
They were talking about the dental technician, Jack Marriot. Jack had been a part of the Colombo drug trafficking network. He related to King what had happened to him.
He had run afoul of them and had been warned off. He knew that his life had only been spared because of the amount of money involved.
Jack usually bought marijuana and shipped it to the Colombo syndicate. He had his people on the ports, who usually handled the export for him. He had made a shipment, got the money to pay the growers, but had reported to them that the U.S.A authorities had seized the goods. The syndicate learned of this duplicity and he had to repay the money, a small matter of five thousand Jamaican dollars. He had found the money and made the payment. Looking around him in Jamaica, he realized that Gus Mc Creed was dominating the drug trade and he had tried to cut in.
It was the first time he was seeing the two men who confronted him that afternoon in the car park, Downtown, Kingston. He didn’t even have time to go for his gun before they slammed into him. They seemed to be running a contest to see who could hurt him the most. They had left him in a broken up, bloody heap that had required him to spend two months in hospital.
It was this beating that had made him contact King about reviving his syndicate. He was convinced that it was Mc Creed’s men who had beaten him up.
“I still feel that we should bump him off,” Lex reiterated.
“If Fred doesn’t agree to work with us, we’ll hire some men to get rid of both of them,” King assured them.
“I hear that they’re mixed up with the Wareika gang,” Brad remarked.
“He used some of those men to fight me. If we don’t use Fred and they’re really mixed up with that gang, then it’s no use breaking the peace treaty,” King explained.
“Okay, I’ll wait until you talk to Fred,” Lex conceded.
King looked at him questioningly.
“If you want to quit, you can go right ahead, Lex, but don’t bother counting on me to help you,” he stated, looking at Brad for support.
Brad nodded.
Lex shook his head.
“As I said, I’m willing to wait.”
It was one-thirty that morning when Lex and Brad left King’s home for their respective houses. By this time they had exhaustively discussed all of their plans to take over McCreed’s syndicate.
***
Gaskell Burke was drinking a cup of coffee as he read the morning papers. He was a tall, thin man with a deathly pallor and was in his late forties. He was wondering what was going on, the papers seemed to be full of violence. He still had clippings of the newspaper report about the murder of his brother, Danville, filed away. That was a year ago, he was sure it had been Mc Creed’s fighters as his brother had reported the threats on his life to him. The hit had taken place as he left his bar that Saturday night.
He had spent five years in the police force before deciding he wouldn’t reach the officer ranks any time soon. His brother had virtually funded his law studies and to lose him like that was hard for him to take.
He had sworn revenge. He had to make some contacts as before he died Danville had given him the names of some men, who wanted to join his syndicate. He had their phone numbers and would be putting through some calls to them. They were Ken Stone, Benn Sanderson and Wally Judge. These men plus himself would form the nucleus of a syndicate to avenge Danville, destroy Gus McCreed and control his section of the Jamaican drug market.
He remembered the other newspaper clipping. ‘Prominent lawyer, Gaskell Burke, barred from practice’. He wasn’t a gambling man; he dabbled in the stock market and didn’t have a large portfolio. However, Danville had told him about Mc Clelland & Sons Limited, one of the largest conglomerates on the island. Their results were about to be published; they looked so good, that it was likely that the price of the stock would double in a few days.
He had pumped more than thirty thousand dollars into it, the majority of it being the proceeds of a property sale on behalf of two overseas clients. But the company’s results weren’t all what was expected and the stock plunged and he found himself with a potential loss of over twenty thousand dollars. Then the clients called for their money, and when he couldn’t deliver, they had reported him. He had been disbarred, even though the stock eventually appreciated and he paid off the two clients and his own legal fees. His fall from grace meant that many doors were now closed to him but the few that were left enabled him to dabble in some real estate and other investments. This was nothing compared to his income when he used to practice, but his wife hadn’t complained, that was, until she gave him the shock of his life by filing for divorce.
***
At three o’clock on Thursday afternoon, Ardez received Gus McCreed’s relay from K. He was in his house at Wareika. The structure was made of concrete. They had actually captured it from an old man they saw living there. It consisted of two rooms and a porch. He had used his masonry skills to renovate the house, tiling both rooms among other things.
The old man had gone somewhere else to live, taking his goats with him. Ardez used one room for a living and dining room and for meetings with his lieutenants. He had a spacious bedroom. It contained a queen sized bed, a dresser and a built in closet to keep his family’s clothes. The kitchen was detached and had an earthen fireplace. A stand up shower was behind it. A pit toilet was further on. Piped water was available as the men had secretly connected pipes to a Water Authority main and led it up into the village. A powerful generator supplied whatever electricity they needed. A qualified technician had been paid to connect a telephone line to the Camp.
Ardez knew that the ‘Camp’ as the men described their hideout was well situated. It could only be reached by a trail, which was guarded at several points by fighters. All other paths would be difficult because of the thick bushes, trees and rocky hillsides. The entrance to the village was guarded by a machine-gun.
Two men with sub-machine-guns were in the trees overlooking the trail. Each gun was manned around the clock on eight-hour shifts. The two gun nests were also lookout points. A searchlight was mounted atop a tree overlooking the trail.
Ardez issued the password for each night. It was relayed by mouth around the camp and to the guards. He was commander of the camp. His second in command was Premba. The latter commanded a group of ten men whom he carried on raids with him. These included Duffus, Dally, Chaser and Bendoo. This was ‘A’ unit; a man called Grosset and another man named Pennant, commanded B and C units respectively, each with eight men under his command.
Ardez knew that Grosset had particularly distinguished himself in the defeat of the security forces during their two raids on Wareika. He had seriously wounded one man in the first and two in the second plus putting several to flight, including the famous Bull Mosely. It was this type of fighting that had earned the ex-convict his job as B unit’s commander. Pennant, who commanded C unit, had escaped from reform school with Premba. The two men had found themselves at Wareika after years of wild living, shootouts with the police and gang wars.
Dangler, who was manager of the Factory, while not being on the police most wanted list, or operational, was known as a bad man to tangle with. Ardez knew about his days as a political warlord.
The women at the camp, were mostly along with the men. Most had come willingly, though a few were either captured or lured there innocently. Many were former high school students. He was proud of the fact that his woman had come to live with him willingly.
He put the last of the stew beef and fried plantain in his mouth and washed it down with the last of the sour sop juice. He belched loudly, then took out his rag and wiped his face. Natalie, his woman and Barry, their nine months old son, were in the room sleeping. He had five other children with three different women. He used to support them before migrating to the States, but had lost track of them. He had planned to link up with them when he returned to Jamaica but his involvement with Wareika had put those plans on hold.
He lit a cigarette and took a bottle of stout out of the small refrigerator, while he thought about tomorrow. He had a meeting with his lieutenants at six o’clock. He drained the bottle of stout and drew hard on his cigarette. He opened the window and looked outside. He saw Grosset’s big frame approaching along with Pennant, Premba and Rattigan. As usual Grosset was smoking a huge cigar.
The men sat around a wooden table. Grosset had put out his big cigar. He put the rest in his pocket and leant back in the wooden chair and relaxed. He had been on the run from very early in life and couldn’t remember having found time to relax before coming to Wareika.
“I just got a message from the boss, K sent it. The police are going to be setting up roadblocks all over Kingston,” Ardez reported.
Rattigan cleared his throat.
“That shouldn’t trouble us, not this phase of the plan,” he opined.
“Let them look, they aren’t going to find anything,” Premba declared.
Grosset chuckled at this. Ardez surveyed the room.
“Tomorrow we launch the second phase of our operations. We’ll be visiting some people, who used to deal with Paolo Colombo’s father. We’re going to ask them if they’re ready to repay the money he lent them to start their businesses. He did a lot of other things for them, some of which they’ll never be able to repay. Some of them promised that they would help out with anything he wanted to be done out here just so that they didn’t have to repay him, or return the favor. We have some things on some of them that they don’t want the police to know about. We know that some of them are going to refuse, but we’ll deal with them.”
The men were listening intently. Ardez continued.
“Three teams of you’ll be going. One team is going to be here in Kingston, that’s Premba and Duffus. Grosset and Bendoo will be in Montego Bay, and Pennant and Pablo in Ocho Rios. We’re hand-delivering the letters to them, with Paolo Colombo’s signature. They’ll get an unlisted telephone number to call to say whether or not they’ll cooperate. I’ll be at the Factory waiting to give them instructions on what to do.”
“What happens if they don’t phone?” Pennant asked.
“We’re giving them twenty four hours to contact us. If they don’t call, we’re going to wipe them out.”
“Suppose they phone the police?” Grosset asked.
“Remember what I said, we have things on them, and they know it, so they aren’t going to any police.”
“Why don’t we just go to their homes or business places and fire some shots at them?” Pennant suggested.
“We want them to know that we’re serious. It’s for you to show them that we mean business and we’ll kill them if they think we’re joking. All of you’ll get a list of the people you’ll be visiting.”
“Dress good, so you look like businessmen. Make sure that your crew cut their hair and oil it too to look presentable. We don’t want any trouble with the police so drive carefully and don’t bother act suspiciously.”
“What about Dillinger and Butler?” Pennant asked.
“We would be taking a big risk in taking them along. They would be sure to be recognized. Their pictures are in the papers daily and the police are offering a reward of five thousand dollars for each of them dead or alive.”
“This new guy, Bendoo, I don’t like to go on any mission with anybody I don’t know anything about,” Grosset stated.
Ardez looked at Premba.
“He’s good, that’s a tough man, I’m telling you,” Premba replied.
“I hope so, I don’t want anybody with me, who can’t defend themselves.”
“From what Premba told me, he looks like somebody we can use,” Ardez said reassuringly.
“I have to go with what Premba said,” Grosset said, apparently satisfied.
“Grosset just mentioned trouble. What, if any of these people decide to create a scene? I mean it’s quite possible that they’ll have security guards at their business places,” Rattigan stated.
“I did some investigations and found out that none of them has anything around them that we can’t handle.”
Rattigan took out a cigarette and lit it. He realized that he was among some of the most dangerous men he had ever encountered. For a man from a first world country, the reverence to which he had become accustomed to in many third world countries was missing here and had been from the beginning. He was glad that these men had accepted him as one of their own and treated him as an equal. He took the cigarette from his lips as Ardez addressed them again.
“Rattigan will remain here, he’s in charge until I return.”
“What about you, Grosset, you look worried?”
“Everything’s cool, Ardez,” Grosset replied.
“That’s good, you know Montego Bay so you should be all right down there. Pennant, you should be okay in Ocho Rios and Premba in Kingston and Spanish Town. If you can’t gain entrance use your identity cards. They’ll show that you’re employed to the National Development Unit. When they read the letter they’ll know otherwise. If they try to do anything funny, discipline them.”
“What about weapons?” Grosset asked.
Ardez took the cigarette Pennant had just given him and drew hard on it. He let out a ring of smoke.
“Take them with you, but make sure you hide them.”
Thunder rolled in the sky signaling rain as outside had already darkened. Ardez stood up and stretched. He groaned sleepily.
“Well, that’s enough for now. I hope that all of you get plenty of sleep because you’re going to be very busy tomorrow.”
The men rose and slowly filed out. It was drizzling slightly and some of them would be only too happy to throw down in bed and sleep. Ardez made for the bedroom where his woman and son were already snoring.
***
At a minute past ten o’clock that night, Buster, the gardener at Mc Creed’s house, let in the Ford Laser containing Fred Billings. It had stopped raining now.
The two Doberman dogs came snarling around the car, but became pacified when its occupant got out of the car.
Fred made for the house. Mc Creed was in the living room watching television.
“Fred,” Mc Creed said, shaking his hand.
“Is everything all right?” Fred asked.
“Yes, the operation will be starting tomorrow.”
He went to the liquor cabinet and took down a bottle of bourbon. He went into the kitchen and returned with a tray of ice and made drinks for both of them.
Taking a sip of the drink, he asked.
“You arranged everything at the hotels, Fred?”
“Everything’s all right, both in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.”
“I only hope that Ardez and Rattigan briefed them on what to do.”
“You’d better go to the office tomorrow. I’ll stay here to keep up to date with what’s going on.”
“If this works out, Gus, we’ll be making thousands of dollars.”
“You’re right, and any little guy, who tries to stop our progress we just have to move them out of the way.”
“I’m going to have a bath so I’ll see you in the morning, Gus.”
“I don’t think I’ll be waking up that early, but I’ll see you in the evening. Hope that you take care of everything at the office.”
“No problem,” Fred said as he disappeared up the stairs.
***
Later Fred sat in his room thinking. He knew that it would soon be time to move against Gus McCreed. Every time he thought about it, he had a gnawing feeling in his stomach. He owed his very existence to this man. But the organization was growing and it needed a young and dynamic person to run it. If Gus should go now Lorena could never manage on her own and would prefer running the hotel, to getting involved with the shadier side of the business. His plans were to keep her single just in case Gus died before he was ready to make his move. He regarded her as a sister and felt that she despised him because of his over-protectiveness. If she got married, it could spell trouble for his plans. He had seen Rory Dillon, who had given him Danny King’s message.
He had been abrupt with him because he knew that whatever organization, King formed would never be a match for McCreed. The man had backed down from McCreed once and there were no guarantees that he wouldn’t do so again.
His own plans to get rid of Mc Creed had to be foolproof and would leave him in the clear and in control of his empire. It would be a very hard thing to move against the only two persons, who had ever shown him any kindness, but his ambitions were not in playing the underdog to anyone.
One of his reasons for feeling this way about his foster relatives was what he felt they had done to him. Shermaine, Delta’s daughter and he were in Miami and hopelessly in love. The affair had actually started out here but had blossomed once they were abroad.
Delta was Charlene’s sister and Lorena’s aunt. She was against the affair and had in fact flown to Miami to put an end to it. He didn’t think Lorena had anything to do with it. Shermaine didn’t return home with him, making him suspicious that she wanted to end the affair. In fact she was now married to a Latin American man. He felt that they had done this to him because he was an outsider, but he would show them.
He remembered a man named Roy Bailey, who had confronted him in their Downtown, Kingston offices, claiming to be his father. That was a year before he went abroad to study. He had chased him away. He had done his own searches. His mother was Mavis Billings and she was from a village called Dudley, down in St. Catherine, near the border with Clarendon. He had checked the records and discovered that she had died when he was about ten. It appeared that she had no living relatives in the area so he just left it at that.

Chapter Seven

Brad Elliot sat behind his desk at his auto parts store on Old Hope Road. He was reading a pornographic magazine. He kept them in his desk drawer. Sometimes some of the girls would borrow them while others would call him naughty for reading them.
A knock sounded on his office door and he shouted for the person to enter.
Buxom Marie Deslandes pushed open the door and entered.
“Two men here to see you.”
“Who are they? What do they look like?”
“They look like government officials.”
“Are you sure they’re not some tax people? They showed you their identity cards?”
“They work for some development agency.”
“You can bet that it’s another waste of taxpayers’ money. I hope that they aren’t here to waste my time.”
“Show them in.”
The girl went out to the men and showed them the long corridor they had to take to reach Brad’s office.
When the men entered, he offered them seats. He took the letter of introduction from Premba. He only read a quarter of it when he swore and flung it down.
“What’s this, have both of you come here to trick me? I’ve never had any dealings with anybody named Colombo, so get out of my office before I call the police.”
He jerked out his desk drawer. Premba whipped the gun out of his pocket and pointed it at his forehead.
“Touch that gun and you’re dead.”
Duffus came around the desk and jerked open the drawer further. He took out the gun. It was a Beretta semi-automatic pistol.
He handed it to Premba.
“It’s a good gun, the guy has. Where did you get this gun from, Mr. Brad?”
Brad didn’t answer him.
Premba went and locked the door.
“What are you dealing with, Mister Brad? What happen, you don’t want to hear what my boss has to say? Are you saying that he’s making a mistake?”
Brad sprang up from around his desk and came towards the door. Duffus came to face him and he punched at him. Duffus avoided the punch and gave him a left hook to his chest. A kick to his knee made him grab it and hop around the room on one foot. Duffus then hammered left and right combinations to his midsection. The man folded up on the carpet. Duffus grabbed the man’s towel and wiped his sweating face.
“That was a good workout the guy get, now just turn him over on his back.”
Duffus hammered a kick to his side, which spun him over on his back.
“Mister Brad, do you understand me? The boss is giving you twenty-four hours to live. If I were you I would contact him,” Premba warned.
Duffus flung the towel at him as the two of them walked out of the room. At a quarter to ten that morning Ardez got the call, Brad Elliot had been contacted, immediately the countdown on his life began.
***
Lex Malcolm kept shaking his head that morning. He had left home in Golden Spring at eight o’clock and had two blown out tires. One happened in Stony Hill and the other at Mary Brown’s Corner. He had cursed his luck both times. Now it was ten minutes past ten and he was just arriving at his office. The receptionist, who also doubled as his secretary, showed him two men who were waiting on him. From their identity cards he saw that one was Livingstone and the other, Gray. They were from some government agency called the National Development Unit. He had never heard of it before, but governments in this country had a habit of forming all sorts of agencies, primarily to waste taxpayer’s money. Normally in such a mood he would have chased them out of the office, but they would only be back. He motioned them to accompany him upstairs.
Once in his office, he offered them seats and took the introductory letter from Premba.
He read a quarter of it and then began to swear.
“Who the hell are you?”
He reached for his briefcase.
“Don’t bother with that, old man, unless you’re tired of living,” Premba warned.
He had his gun out, pointing at Lex’s forehead.
Duffus came around the desk, opened the briefcase, which didn’t carry a combination. He took out the Taurus semi-automatic pistol.
“Where did the old man get this gun from?” Duffus asked before handing it to Premba.
“It looks like a brand new one too, we should be able to sell it for some good money. We have more to pick up today.”
Premba pocketed the gun.
Lex sat up and moved his chair away from the desk.
“Finish reading the letter, Mister Lex.”
Lex’s eyes blazed.
“If you’re trying to blackmail me, it’s not going to work. So get out of my office and go about your business if you know what’s good for you.”
“Shut up and read the letter, old man.”
“So you don’t want to hear what the boss has to say, old man. He’s only giving you twenty-four hours to contact him.”
“You dirty dogs, I have a good mind to…,” Lex said. He stood up and picked up the phone. Duffus hit him on his wrist with his gun butt and he doubled up in pain, holding his wrist. A kick from Premba sent him to the floor. The two men looked at him.
“You see who you’re dealing with, old man,” Premba told him.
Leaving him sprawled on the floor; they opened the door and walked out. At five minutes to eleven that morning Ardez got the call that Lex Malcolm had been contacted.
***
Bendoo and Grosset arrived in Montego Bay at approximately eight o’clock that evening. After booking into their hotel, they went to a nightclub and picked up two women.
They would leave on Saturday morning. Having had their breakfast they returned to their rooms to prepare for the day’s interviews.
Their first interview was with Gordon Bishop. He agreed to comply with their demands. Their next four interviews were all incident full. Grosset’s temper broke each time forcing their victims to hastily agree to their demands.
They were now on their way to visit block factory operator, Joseph Tai. Bendoo was feeling tired from having driven all over Montego Bay. He wanted nothing but a hot bath to get rid of the dust and sweat. At Albion they asked about the block factory and were given directions.
They took a pot holed filled road and crossed a bridge that could only accommodate one vehicle at a time. Finally, they arrived at the block factory. There was a sign at the gate marked ‘Joseph Tai’s Block Factory.’ The guard examined their identity cards before letting them in. Bendoo parked the car in the customer’s parking lot. Two trucks were in the loading bay; one had nearly finished loading while the other was about ready to load.
Bendoo and Grosset made their way to Tai’s office and showed his secretary their identity cards. She motioned them to take a seat while she tried to contact her boss. Bendoo wondered what kind of asset this man would be in the forthcoming campaign while Grosset wondered if he had another office. The good part of the interview could be handled here, but if the man got difficult this was hardly the place to give him a beating.
When the Chinese man came in, both men introduced themselves as National Development Unit employees. He told them to follow him to his office, upstairs. Once in his office, he examined their identity cards, meanwhile offering them seats on two wooden chairs.
Finally, he returned their identity cards and sat down behind his desk. He took the letter from Grosset but didn’t bother to open it.
“I’m lucky, my friends warned me about you, two. I was here waiting and planning how to get rid of you. You two guys are really unlucky. I don’t even want to know who you’re working for.”
He lit a cigarette. Grosset started to get up out of his chair.
“Sit down, big man! You’ve beaten up a lot of men today. I have a good mind to tag your bodies and leave them on some rubbish heap.”
“You dirty dog!” Grosset stood up when the door opened and two youths entered, guns drawn, lining up him and Bendoo.
“Frisk them, Mr. Tai,” one of the youths said.
Tai came from around his desk and began with the still seated Bendoo.
He was looking at Bendoo and fidgeting when the latter made his move. He flicked him over his head, falling to the floor in the same motion. The man landed on the smaller of the two youths, knocking the gun out of his hand. Grosset had already sensed Bendoo’s move because as Tai sped over the latter’s head, he had thrown his chair at the other youth and dived at his legs. Both moves caught the youth by surprise. He tried to parry the chair and was unprepared for Grosset’s flying tackle, which sent him crashing to the floor.
Bendoo had in the meantime taken up the other youth’s gun and had him covered. Tai was out cold; he had received a cut to his forehead, which was now bleeding. Grosset now drew the other youth off the floor. Bendoo picked up the gun, he had dropped, when hit by Grosset’s flying tackle. The youth was whimpering, almost imploring, when the giant’s fist crashed into his jaw crushing up teeth and flesh almost tearing his head off.
The youth skidded across the room, landing into a wall. He fell to the floor, blood streaming from him. He spat out blood and broken teeth. Grosset went after him and kicked him in his side, which doubled him up. He then drew the youth off the floor, wielded him in the air several times and then flung him into a corner of the room. He then turned to the other youth. There was stark terror in the youth’s eyes. The giant walked up to him and grabbed him around his shoulders. He then slammed him with a right hook, which launched him over the desk.
He went around the desk after the youth. He picked him up and wielded him in the air and then flung him on the other youth.
He then turned to Tai and kicked the man in his side which made him groan and roll over on his back.
“You have twenty four hours to read the letter and get in touch with us, Tai. Don’t bother to get smart with us again, old man or else tomorrow you’re going to find yourself sleeping on a block of ice.”
He and Bendoo walked out of Tai’s office. Their job in Montego Bay was completed. They would return to their hotel and prepare for the homeward trip in the morning. At a quarter to five that evening Ardez got the call that Joseph Tai had been contacted.
Grosset was sure that their mission had been successful. None of those contacted would take his threats or the beatings they had received lightly.
***
Ardez got several calls that evening, all of which he noted. Still, there were other people to report and he knew that once the deadline had passed it would be time for action.
***
Lex drove through the heavy traffic on his way to King’s house. His right hand was in a plaster and he was still feeling the effects of the blow that the gunman had given him with the gun-butt. He didn’t try to drive fast for fear of increasing the pain in his hand.
Who had sent the two men? Was it Paolo Colombo? Did he want back his father’s money? All those questions had to be answered first before he could feel safe. Damn them all, he swore under his breath. He wasn’t going to make any report to the police. All he needed was another gun to take care of those two gunmen should they return to threaten him.
When he arrived at King’s house, he saw Brad’s car parked outside. What the hell was Brad doing here? Were he and King planning something behind his back? He touched the car horn and King’s wife came out.
She was a pretty attractive woman with a body that belied her age, he had always thought during the fifteen years he had known her.
“Lex, how are you? Danny’s around the back with Brad. What happened to your hand?”
She looked concerned.
He finally parked his car behind Brad’s car and got out.
“Hello, Betsy, how are you?”
He greeted her with a hug.
“I met in a little accident today, it’s nothing serious,” he said, going through the gate after her.
She directed him to King and Brad.
Both men raised their eyebrows on seeing him.
“What happened to your hand, Lex? Have you been fighting?” King asked him.
Lex took one of the glasses, threw out some of the whiskey, and dumped three cubes of ice into it. He stirred the mixture, took a good swallow before finding a seat on one of the patio chairs.
“Two men came to my office today saying that they represented some government agency. They showed me a letter, which asked me point blank if I was ready to return the favor I had received several years ago. If I refused, they promised to kill me. It had a telephone number, which I was to call when I was ready to cooperate. I got angry and told them to get out of my office. They
refused, held a gun on me and one of them hit me on my hand with his gun-butt.”
“What are you saying, Lex? The two of you have to tell me what’s going on. Maybe it’s the same two men, who went to look for Brad. When he tried to run them out of his office they beat him up and took away his gun.”
Lex drank some more of the whiskey.
“It was the Colombo organization, which set up my business for me. You know that was a long time ago. All these years passed so I just forgot about them, especially since they left Jamaica and went to live in Miami. I know that some day they were going to want me to do something for them. Well, this is it and I just don’t want to get involved.”
“It’s the same way I got my set-up,” Brad told them. “Two men came to look for me today, saying that their boss wanted to talk to me. Like Lex said, I just don’t want to get involved.”
“Well, what are you going to do? It’s the Colombos. Since they moved to Miami, I hear that Henri’s dead and it’s Paul, who’s running the show now. I hear that he’s a drug lord and that he has links with the Mafia and the Columbians. It’s a trick they played on you. You probably gave them a stake in the business which they never exercised. That stake must be worth thousands of dollars now. They could demand everything at once. Or maybe if you decide to work for them fulltime, they’ll forgive the whole debt.”
His words provided cold comfort for the two men. They knew they were in grave danger.
Lex drank some more of the whiskey.
“They’re working through somebody in Jamaica though. If we could just find out who that person is, we could eliminate him and put ourselves in the clear again.”
“I gave them a forty per cent stake in my business. Like you said King, it’s worth thousands of dollars now,” Brad told them.
“They got forty five percent in mine too. I could never buy back that stake from them,” Lex stated.
Danny King remembered that Henri Colombo had operated a loan shark agency for over ten years in Downtown, Kingston. When the socialist winds started blowing on the island, he had fled with his family to Miami. He knew that the man didn’t live long after migrating. He had heard that his son, Paolo, decided to audit his books. After doing a careful analysis of his father’s records, he was surprised at some of the things he discovered. He decided that he could use this information for his benefit. Jamaica was near enough to be of some use to him.
“So where’s the letter? You have the phone number? We could get somebody to phone and find out what they want.”
The two men thought over what he had said.
“You mean we should phone and let them know that we’ll cooperate with them?” Brad asked.
“But you don’t know what they want and you’re refusing. If I were you, I would wait until they tell me what they want me to do before I do anything.”
“If I know those men, it’s nothing good they want us to do, and that’s why I refused,” Lex told them.
The sun had disappeared and the darkness was slowly falling. King turned on the patio lights.
“This looks serious. Paul seems to be more dangerous than his father. You have to do something fast.”
King knew that his two friends and future business partners were in a predicament. They had gotten easy money and now the Colombos wanted them to repay the debt by helping them to carry out some scheme. Both men weren’t prepared to cooperate because of the inherent danger, which they sensed must be lying behind such a scheme. They both faced death and the time was constantly shortening.
“What do you think they could be interested in out here? I don’t think since they ran away to Miami they’ve returned to the island.”
“It must be marijuana and they could use the island to ship cocaine from Columbia to the States,” Lex replied.
“They want us to use our warehouses to store the drugs for them,” Brad remarked.
Lex considered what Brad had just said.
“I don’t think we’re the only ones they contacted. That means it’s a big operation, they are undertaking,” he opined.
“They must have people out here working for them, maybe some gang that they want you to work with,” King told them.
“Wait! The Wareika gang and Gus McCreed must be involved!” Brad shouted triumphantly.
“Well, at least we’re getting somewhere. That was simple deductive reasoning. Rory is supposed to report back to me about his meeting with Fred. In the meantime, you’d better keep out of circulation. I just hope they never trailed you here.”
Both men started looking around and out onto the roads.
“Trailed!” Le echoed the thoughts of his colleague.
“They could follow you here, if they’re going to carry out their threats, they have to know where you are.”
“Are you advising us to go into hiding, King? I’m not hiding from anyone,” Lex was defiant.
“Well, don’t bother to take my advice, continue to run your business as usual. You’re going on as if you alone can fight Paolo Colombo and McCreed. Brad, try talking some sense into him, I’m going inside, I’ll soon be back.”
He returned to find the two men in silence.
“So, Brad, what have you and Lex decided to do? I can’t offer either of you any protection, so you know you’re on your own.”
“King, if I go into hiding, what will happen to my business? I can’t keep on exposing my wife, I don’t want anything to happen to her on account of me. I might as well go out there and face McCreed and his gunmen,” Lex pleaded.
“Listen to my plan, Lex, before you do anything,” King said. “We’re going to put McCreed under so much pressure that he’ll forget about you two.”
Both of his listeners looked surprised.
“What are you saying, King?” Brad asked.
“We’re going to hire some men to raid his weed fields and his warehouses.”
“Raid his weed fields? Wouldn’t it be better to hire some men to plant it for us?” Lex opined.
“Too risky, plus we’d have to either rent, lease or buy land. This is our short term strategy,” King replied.
“What about your lands, King?” Brad asked. “I thought you still had those lands, even if you’re no longer cultivating weed.”
“Ah, come on Brad, you and Lex should know that we either rent or lease lands and get a few men to cultivate the crop for us. If it’s their land, we give them money to prepare the land and then we share the profits from each crop. Most of my growers are working for either Mc Creed or other syndicates now. But our long term strategy must be to acquire some sizeable holdings and enough fighters to protect our syndicate.”
It was getting late, Brad looked at his watch and stood up.
“King, I like your plans; I’m sure that Lex likes them too, but I have to leave. You can contact me and tell me how things are going.”
Lex and King stood up.
“I’m going to leave too, but I want to know more about those plans of yours. You can phone me and tell me more about them.”
King accompanied them to the gate and shook their hands. He watched them leave.
***
From inside the living room Betsy King watched the last of her soap opera. She desperately hoped that Danny wasn’t returning to his various schemes. They had raised three good children all of whom were abroad. If he returned to his unsavory past, she would go and join them. The idea had always appealed to her, but she had remained in Jamaica because of his stubbornness and the children’s desire that she remain with the old man, despite what they knew about his nefarious activities.
She knew that all her children were aware of how rampant drug trafficking; especially marijuana was in Jamaica. The two boys had won football scholarships to the same United States college in consecutive years. It was while in the third year of academic studies that a fellow student had approached the elder son. Betsy remembered what he had told her.
The man told him that he knew some men, who were willing to pay top dollars for the Jamaican weed his father had stored in warehouses in Kingston. It came as a shock to the youth and he had promptly phoned her. She had tearfully told him the truth. The three kids had wanted to come to Jamaica to confront their father. They had vowed to remove her from the island if he didn’t call a halt to those activities. She had phoned them to say that their dad was concentrating on his merchant tailoring business these days. Now it seemed that she had misread her husband again.
***
Later on that night Grosset and Bendoo again went out clubbing. They picked up two more women. Bendoo now found himself with Peachie, the younger of the two women. They had a good session of lovemaking. She was a bit shy at first, but he caressed her expertly and she responded to him with passion. When they finished, she had dropped off to sleep, but he lay on the bed thinking.
So far his cover was secure. None of the men at Wareika suspected him to be a Special Branch agent. He had at first been apprehensive about Niah but it appeared that he had lost contact with his relatives so there was no danger from him.
He had handled his tasks intelligently. The trip to Montego Bay was a trial one and he knew he had performed creditably so far. He knew that once the gang had any doubts about him, they would give him some very dangerous tasks to perform.
The girl in Bendoo’s bed looked at him. He was sleeping like a log, she thought. She got up off the bed without making a sound and tiptoed to where his clothes were.
Bendoo opened his eyes and came back to reality, he must have dropped off to sleep. Peachie was not on the bed. He saw her searching his clothes, his bag and the drawers of the dresser. She was conducting a fruitless search for money he thought, for he had hidden his wallet under the mattress on his side of the bed.
“What are you looking for?”
He got up off the bed and turned on the lights.
“I was looking at my watch to find out the time.”
“You can’t look at this kind of watch in the darkness and know the time, come put on your clothes.”
He threw them at her. She was crying as she dressed.
There was a knock on the door. Bendoo opened it slightly.
A female voice whispered, “Peachie.”
Bendoo flung the door open and grabbed the woman and drew her into the room. It was Sophia, the girl, who had been with Grosset and she was fully dressed.
“Where are you going?”
“Let me go!”
She snapped open her bag. He suspected that she had a knife inside. He drew her towards him, took away the bag from her and pushed her down on the bed.
Peachie took up her slippers from off the floor and rushed at him. He pushed her away and she fell on the floor.
There was a commotion in Grosset’s room and the giant came to knock on Bendoo’s door.
“Bendoo, Bendoo, open up.”
Bendoo opened the door and Grosset came in. He spied Bendoo with his girl’s bag and her on the bed. Immediately he went after her, drawing her off the bed.
“Where’s my wallet?”
Bendoo opened Sophia’s bag. The giant’s fat wallet lay concealed among perfumes, tissue papers, an ice pick and other odds and ends.
“See it here, Grosset,” he said, holding up the wallet. “Let her go. This could cause trouble and we don’t want anything like that.”
His warning saved the girl. Grosset just pushed her away from him and took his wallet from Bendoo.
Both girls were crying, but the giant had found his wallet intact, plus he had disobeyed his boss’ orders. He opened the door.
“Hey, Bendoo, just get rid of these two women,” he said before making his way back to his room.
The two women waited until they heard Grosset’s door closed behind him before they ran from the room.
Bendoo soon dropped off to sleep after spending a few minutes reviewing the day’s events.

Chapter Eight

At ten o’clock on Saturday morning Ardez sat around the telephone at the Factory. Most of the calls had come in yesterday. All of those who called had agreed to cooperate. So far he hadn’t heard from Brad Elliot, Lex Malcolm, Joseph Tai and Winston Young, the Ocho Rios restaurant owner, who had been contacted by Pennant and Pablo. At five that evening the four men hadn’t telephoned and Ardez called McCreed. The man told him to immediately put the death squads into action. Premba and Lance were already patrolling Ocho Rios and Pennant and Pablo were in Montego Bay.
***
Ardez had chosen Dillinger and Butler to wipe out Lex and Brad. They left their headquarters at eleven o’clock that night for Lex’s Golden Spring home. Dillinger was driving a Ford Cortina motor car. When they reached the house it was in darkness. Butler got out of the car and went up to the gate. Dillinger soon joined him.
“This house looks like nobody lives in it,” Butler remarked.
“Looks that way,” Dillinger agreed with him.
“What do we do now?”
“We can’t stay round here, because we don’t know if any policemen are in the area.”
He turned the car around and drove out to the Golden Spring main road and headed for Brad’s house.
This house was a two-story building and to their dismay the two killers found it in darkness, also.
“Same thing again, it looks as if these guys knew we were coming after them. I think we’re being set up,” Dillinger opined, warily.
“I don’t fancy this kind of work,” Butler said as he lit a cigarette.
They were still looking at the house and shaking their heads in disappointment at missing out on two such easy hits when a police car came speeding down the road. It went past them, but at the bottom of the road it stopped and started backing up.
“Police, Dillinger!”
“I told you that it was a trap,” Dillinger said as he dived into their car for the M-16 as the police car stopped and two policemen jumped out. Butler, who was hiding behind their car, fired his .38 Taurus revolver. The policemen dived behind their car and returned his fire. Dillinger began firing with the M-16. The two other policemen had dived out of their car and were firing at Butler and Dillinger.
The policemen had shot out their car tires when Butler made a bid to escape by jumping into a gully. Dillinger seeing his comrade’s treachery put the M-16 on rapid fire, knelt behind the car and opened up anew on the policemen who returned the fire. He was hit with a hail of bullets and collapsed beside the car. The policemen approached him cautiously.
“That guy looks like Dillinger, and he looks as if he’s dead,” a police Corporal said, looking at the blood spattered body. His colleagues meanwhile, ran to inspect the gully that Butler had jumped into.
“Anybody has any idea where this gully leads to?” Delbert Wood asked.
“It leads down to Constant Spring,” one of the members of the unit replied.
“We have to find him, because it doesn’t look as if he got shot,” Wood replied.
He and the other three policemen gave up the search for Butler at about one o’clock that morning and trudged wearily back to their vehicle.
***
King knew that Lex and Brad were now fugitives from McCreed’s gunmen. Lex had told him that he had suggested to his wife that they spend the weekend in Port Antonio. Without further ado they had packed and headed for a private villa, they had always used down there. That was after they had put up a sign that they would be closed that Saturday.
***
Lex didn’t know how much longer he would stay in hiding, but it certainly seemed long enough. It seemed to him that King had tricked him. He had better come up with some tangible plans soon; he was no fool.
***
Brad had left Kingston that Saturday afternoon. He and his wife and three sons were staying with relatives in Port Maria. He had told her the truth and she believed him. He had also phoned Marie to let her know he would be out of office for the rest of the week. Douglas Wright, his sales manager, would have to carry on. Damn it all anyway, he would have to fight McCreed all the way.
***
King and Jack came to meet them in Golden Spring. King reported on Rory Dillon’s failure to convince Fred to join them. Lex was livid at the news and wanted them to carry out the second part of their plan and eliminate both McCreed and Fred. However, his fellow syndicate members, including Jack vetoed this. Jack then told them of his association with Paolo Colombo. He also told them of how they had fallen out and his run in with McCreed’s fighters and the beating he had received at their hands.
King then explained to them that he had recruited four men to raid one of McCreed’s marijuana fields in St. Ann. Lex was still grumpy and declared that if this raid wasn’t successful, he would be leaving the syndicate. The meeting broke up with King promising to give them a report about the raid at their next meeting.
***
Bendoo had learned that Dillinger had been killed up in Stony Hill but Butler had escaped. He had identified the two men as the ones holding the semi-automatic rifles on the Simmonds that night. He had heard that two of the men, who had refused to be blackmailed, lived in that area and had alerted Wood. They had met in the back room of a bar on Mannings Hill Road. He had told him that he was now at Wareika Hills. He gave him an account of what was taking place up there.
He was still in shock that they hadn’t been able to prevent Tai from being killed. He hadn’t been able to find out the names of the other people visited but he had given Woody the names of the persons he and Grosset had visited in Montego Bay. He had heard of a restaurant owner being gunned down in Ocho Rios but wasn’t sure if he was connected to the present operations.
Although Ardez was in charge of the ‘Camp’, he knew that he wasn’t the brains behind the organization. He had been racking his brain to find out who it could be but although he had come up with a lot of names all seemed too refined and polished to deal with the types of cutthroats at Wareika.
Niah had been tight lipped about it. He didn’t want to press him as he was new and might arouse suspicions by asking too many questions. He put it at the back of his mind that if he didn’t find out by natural means, then a strong draw of the marijuana and a few bottles of stout might make Niah talk.
His thoughts wandered to Barbara. Her last letter, which Wood had delivered before he came to Wareika, had said that she was praying for him and that she was sick with worry. He had hastily written her back, assuring her that he would be okay. His thoughts turned to Lorena McCreed, the beautiful girl he had met up in the hills. She had been very feisty, no wonder she had gotten into trouble with Fred Billings. He wondered what had happened to her. Gus Mc Creed? Could it be him? He had always heard that Mc Creed was a drug baron, but the man seemed a world apart from Wareika.
Bendoo got up and opened the board windows to let in some fresh air. He looked down on the glow of the city below. A strong breeze was blowing. He would have gone down to Niah’s shack to smoke some herbs with him and his brethren, Shower and Gungoo but all three men were out manning the machine guns. He wanted a stout and was about to go for one when there was a knock on the door. He went and opened it. Camilla, Rattigan’s woman, was there.
“What do you want?”
“I’m lonely. Karl has gone out. Can I come in and talk to you for a few minutes?”
He hesitated.
“Karl won’t say anything if he knows I was here. He knows that neither you nor Niah will trouble me. Which is more than can be said of the others.”
“Okay, then come in,” he replied and led the way into the room. She sat on one of the wooden benches beside him.
She was blond though she had cut off most of her hair. She was wearing a faded T-shirt and a cut off jean shorts, which showed off her beautifully, tanned legs. She was, he guessed about five feet six inches tall and would be around twenty-five years of age. Her breasts looked very firm. She was quite attractive, but up here in Wareika Hills she wouldn’t get the necessary things that a woman needed to make herself look glamorous.
“I’m fed up with life here. I want to get out but Karl won’t let me. He figures that if I leave I would go to the authorities and tell them what’s taking place up here. You must believe I’m married to him. He tricked me under the pretext that he was an artist living up here because it provided him with beautiful scenery to paint. After I came I realized I was trapped and couldn’t escape.”
“I’ve been hoping that I would find someone to help me to escape. Can you help me? You seem kind and strong.”
Bendoo wasn’t sure that this wasn’t a trap. He thought it would be better to find out more about her before he did or say anything.
“You’re asking me to do the impossible. I don’t see how you can escape from up here alive. All of the escape routes are guarded around the clock by machine guns.”
“I would advise you to forget about trying to escape and stay with Karl. I’m sure that when he’s leaving, he’ll take you with him.”
She looked at him, not trying to hide the scorn she felt.
“I thought you were one of the better ones up here. It seems as if you’re all the same. All of you, just killers and robbers,” she spat at him.
Bendoo could see that her face had reddened considerably.
She stood up and was about to leave the room. He took her hand and led her back to the bench.
“If I told you anything else I would be encouraging you to get yourself killed.”
“Well, what can I do?”
“Do as I suggested.”
“To hell with your suggestions. Guess, I’ll just have to do it on my own then. Goodbye.”
She got up to go again.
Bendoo stood up and came around the bench and held her hands. He sat her back in the chair and sat beside her. He put his arms around her shoulders.
“I wouldn’t like to see you go and get yourself killed Camilla, wait on Rattigan.”
He tried consoling her.
She began to cry.
“He destroyed all of my papers. Even if I get out I don’t know how long it’s going to take for me to get out of Jamaica and I have no money.”
“Don’t you have any relatives who can help you?”
“I have a sister, Elizabeth, we’re very close. I’m sure she’s been down here already looking for me, but she’s probably returned home by now.”
She showed him a picture of her sister.
He could only stare. It was the woman, whom they had robbed at the Simmonds’ home that night.
“If she came to look for you, the first place she’s going to contact would be your embassy so if you go there they’ll help you.”
“I don’t want to go back to Karl. I feel he’s going to kill me. He has threatened to do it if he ever sees me talking to another man.”
Bendoo looked at her, he suspected that Rattigan had a mean streak in him. If he encouraged her to escape, she could very well tell him. He was also afraid of doing anything silly that might jeopardize the mission.
“Come, I’ll walk you back to your shack, maybe your sister is still looking for you.”
“Thank you.”
She stared at him.
“I can find my way home.”
She went through the door, her head held high.
Bendoo knew that she felt angry and probably hurt, but he had to treat her just as any ordinary Wareikan would.

Chapter Nine

Pinchie and Evert sat in their bamboo hut smoking marijuana. Both men had formed a partnership four years ago to plant marijuana. Pinchie had inherited the one-acre plot from his father, himself a marijuana farmer. After the old man’s death, he had gotten his friend, Evert, to help him plant the crop. Their field was in a wooded area of the community, but could be reached by a dirt road. They had to plant other crops to hide the marijuana field.
For the last two years things had gone quite well because the new man was guaranteeing them protection from poachers and from both honest and crooked policemen. Pinchie was planning to buy a car, which he hoped to use as a taxi. Evert had a motorcycle and both men were hoping to improve on their respective houses with the proceeds from this crop.
It was a Monday evening and they had just come to spend an hour or two, looking over the crop, which would soon be ready for reaping.
Pinchie was tall and thin and was twenty-five years of age. Evert on the other hand was of medium height and was twenty-six years of age.
“Evert, I saw a girl on the road and I spoke to her and she told me that she has loved me for a long time and wants to be my girl.”
“What’s her name?”
“She’s Josiah Bethune’s daughter.”
“There are a lot of men pursuing her. How come you’re so lucky?”
“We’re going to meet down by the Chocho river. I’m going to make sure that she enjoys it because I know that if I satisfy her, then no man can take her away from me.”
“These young girls aren’t staying with any man too long because they’re young and flighty.”
After smoking some more marijuana the two men departed the hut at approximately seven o’clock that evening.
On Wednesday evening they met at the hut again.
“So how did it go? Is everything all right?”
“Nothing at all happened.”
Pinchie tried hard to hide his disappointment.
“What are you saying? I don’t believe you.”
“The girl and I were down there. And just as we were ready to make love, I heard her cry out. When I looked I saw a shadow in a white sheet coming towards us. So I jumped up and rushed for my machete but it was only the sheet I caught, because the man ran away.”
“But who could have wanted to spoil your fun though?”
“I don’t know, because it’s not only you I told about it. Everybody I checked says it wasn’t them.”
“I hope that you don’t think that it was me because I was down at Miss Little’s bar last night. Somebody told me that you were running through the district with your machete claiming that some man had spoiled your fun.”
“I’ll find out one day though. I must set a trap for that man.”
Both men lapsed into silence as they smoked more marijuana. They were too filled with their own thoughts to notice the stealthy approach of the four men. Pinchie uttered a shout as the hut’s door was kicked down and four masked men entered. He made a valiant attempt to reach his machete, but one of the men hit him in his head and he fell. Evert made a darting move for his machete, grabbed it, but one of the men used an axe handle to hit him in his back. Their attackers continued to inflict more punishment on them. They then produced rope and bound their hands and feet. They then made their way out of the hut and down into the marijuana field to reap the weed and pack it into bags for the truck to take it into Kingston to a warehouse where it would be stored.
***
On Thursday afternoon the poachers finished reaping the marijuana. In between that time they had gone to look at the men, both of whom had regained consciousness momentarily, then lapsed back into unconsciousness throughout the night. During the day they finally regained consciousness, but found it impossible to untie themselves. At twelve o’clock that night the truck left loaded with the weed for Kingston. Before it left, the poachers returned to the hut and gave the two sleeping men some more lusty blows.
The poachers returned to their respective homes. One returned to Bay Farm Road while the other three remained in St. Ann. Meanwhile the Wareikans were still roaming the island in their search for Brad and Lex.
On Friday one of McCreed’s planters, Rusty, went into the field to have a chat and a smoke with his brethren. He was surprised to find the land bare except for the other crops which they planted. Instead of luscious growing marijuana plants all he saw were peas, corn, sugar cane, coco and some cash crops. Some of these crops had been cut down too, and lay on the ground. He went up to the hut, pushed open the door and came upon the unconscious figures of Pinchie and Evert. Both men were stretched out on their backs and on examining them, he realized that they had been beaten up all over their bodies and had gotten some head wounds.
At first he thought it to be the police. They were capable of reaping a crop of marijuana and disposing of it for their own benefit, but they would never beat up these two youths like this. He didn’t want to panic, the best thing to do was to inform the men’s families and let them take it from there. He would then have to get in touch with the boss and let him know what had happened. He was still at a loss as to why the two men’s families having not seen them return home hadn’t launched a search for them.
There was no way he could get through to the boss this evening but tomorrow he would take a bus into Kingston and phone him to let him know what had taken place. He didn’t want to make the call locally for fear of anybody hearing what he was saying.
Rusty took the minibus into Kingston on Saturday morning as intended.
Prior to his departure, he had kept his silence about what had happened. Even his woman said that he looked sad and wanted to know if everything was all right, but Rusty wasn’t going to say anything without the boss’ permission. He arrived at Parade at ten o’clock that morning and took a taxi to the Factory.
***
Rusty gave Dangler an account of the incident. He gave him the telephone for him to speak to Ardez who in turn called Mc Creed and brought him up to date with the situation.
***
Mc Creed was shocked, but didn’t want to over-react. He wondered who could have done it. None of the other syndicates and himself were currently at war. G.C had run to the United States with his wife. Moses Johnson, Aston Lecky and Danville Burke were all dead. Jack Marriot had been beaten up, Ruddy Brown, shot and warned off. Danny King, after the break up of his syndicate, had returned to operating his merchant tailoring business. Dickson Lunan, after King’s defeat became an ally, but was now abroad, living under a false name he had heard.
None of these men were capable of attacking him. No, it must be some little guy, trying to make a big payday. Better to step on his head before things got out of hand.
His orders were for Premba to lead a group of men down to McKenzie Lands, find and destroy whoever it was that had beaten up the two men and stolen their marijuana.
***
Ardez now sat in his front room. His lieutenants were seated on chairs, that they had stolen from some upper St. Andrew homes. As usual Grosset had a huge cigar, which was threatening to suffocate those in the room. The time was one o’clock.
“We want these men dead. We have to teach them a lesson not to fool around us again,” Ardez declared.
All of the men nodded in agreement.
“Where is the man, who brought the information, Ardez? I hope he was discreet about it. If we’re to catch those poachers it’ll have to be by surprise. He should also have stayed around to act as a guide,” Rattigan advised.
“Rusty will keep his mouth shut. He won’t tell anybody what we’re coming down there to do. He returned home, but he always has his gun on him. I’ll tell you where to find him when you go down there.”
“Who are they, Ardez?” Premba asked.
Ardez knew that emotions were running high.
Pinchie and Evert were trusted comrades. Most of those in the room at one time or another had received bags of top
quality marijuana whenever they were in the rural areas and came across either man. Their attackers wouldn’t go unpunished.
“I don’t know, but we must find them when we go down there. The boss says I’m to send you, Grosset, Lance, Pennant and Chaser. Butler’s going too, he’s telling me some foolishness, but I feel that he ran left Dillinger because it’s only three shots fired out of his gun.”
“That guy, Butler, is a big coward,” Premba declared.
Ardez knew that this was war plus they also wanted to avenge Dillinger’s death if not on the police, on the men, who had beaten up their colleagues and stolen their marijuana.
“Rusty said they just beat up Pinchie and Evert, and reaped our weed. The boss believes that it was some local boys, who did it. We have to hit them hard so they don’t mess with us again.”
All of them agreed with him.
“You’re going to leave here at three o’clock today. You should reach McKenzie Lands at around seven o’clock. You can check out some popular spots to see if there are any big spenders around, but you have to find those men and deal with them.”
“What about those two big men? The boss doesn’t want us to look for them again?” Grosset asked.
“We’re still looking for them so if you see them, you know what to do.”
“I thought Bendoo was coming too?” Grosset inquired.
“Bendoo, Duffus, Pablo and Dally are going to St. Mary to look for them. Our sources tell us that they have been sighted up there.”
“I hope all of you heard what I said. Go and look after your weapons and make sure that they’re working. The boss wants you to use machetes to make it look like a local war, but as far as I’m concerned, shots may have to be fired.”
Grosset stood up.
“My machete is sharp like a razor.”
The others stood up and filed out of the room.
In the two hours that they had available the men would be fixing up their gear. Some would be sharpening up their machetes. Rattigan was now in the armory selecting ammunition for them to carry.
***
They arrived in McKenzie Lands at around dusk. Rusty was waiting for them at the agreed spot. He appeared edgy and sad and still looked to be in shock at the horrible beatings his friends had received. Over the marijuana that he brought for them, the men heard more details about the beatings. He told them that they were trying to keep it under wraps. The two men had been able to walk to their respective home, but would need medical attention fast. The boss would have to find a doctor for them as they didn’t want the police to know about what had happened. He also told them that a few confidants of the weed-men were out searching for any clues as to who their attackers might be.
Premba was frowning at the information being provided by Rusty.
He was wondering whether it was a wise move for them to come into the area as any strangers were bound to arouse suspicions.
However, Rusty assured them that he didn’t think that the poachers were in McKenzie Lands but there were two adjoining districts that they could check out. Premba, Grosset and Lance now sat in one of the bars pointed out by Rusty in Zion Mountain district, ordering beers. The talk was general for all the time they were hoping that someone would enter and give them the clues they were looking for. At the same time there were also wary of the presence of any policemen. The second car driven by Pennant and containing Butler and Chaser passed by the bar and went around a corner to stop. None of them got out.
By eight o’clock that night after drinking a sufficient quantity of liquor and playing around with the barmaid, the men decided that they wouldn’t find Pinchie and Evert’s attackers here, they had better look elsewhere.
The next bar was a mile away in Guango Ridge district. They entered and Premba did the ordering. A pool table was in another room and was unoccupied. He and Grosset started a game, leaving Lance at the bar.
The second car passed by the bar and went further up the road to stop.
Chaser got out and came into the bar to buy drinks. He gave no indication that he knew Lance.
The group led by Premba was in the bar for about a half hour when two youths dressed in party clothes, came in.
They went up to the bar and ordered beers. When they finished their first pints, they ordered more. The bottles kept on piling up while they dropped coin after coin into the jukebox and punched just about every song available.
Premba was watching them as he had given up playing pool when Lance pointed out the two youths to him. He came and sat at the bar and the latter took his place at the pool table. These two youths looked as if they had money and were being careless with it. From their general behaviour it was obvious that they were country boys, who had seen a little of Kingston but nothing about the city had rubbed off on them.
Grosset and Lance abandoned the game to join Premba at the bar. The two youths now left for the vacant pool table to start a new game.
Pennant finished his stout and threw away the bottle. He lit a cigarette.
Beside him Chaser was rolling some marijuana leaves to smoke while at the back of the car Butler was having his second stout.
Premba, Grosset and Lance returned to their car. They knew that these two youths could be some of the men they were looking for. They just had to be patient. They didn’t have long to wait. Both youths were perturbed at not finding any women for the night so far and thought they might try another area, where they were available. There was also a dance being kept in New Roads, about a mile east of Zion Mountain.
They came out of the bar and headed up the road intent on getting to the dance in New Roads. Both youths had taken in too much liquor to be aware of anyone else on the road. When he thought that they had gone a good distance, Premba spun the car around and started after them. A minute later Pennant drove off behind him.
When Premba reached the youths he stopped the car suddenly. Grosset and Lance jumped out, pointing guns at both youths, who were caught off guard.
“Police, don’t move,” Grosset shouted as he came out of the car.
Both youths put their hands in the air when they saw the guns.
“Who are you?” one of the them asked. He remembered these men from the bar.
“Police,” Grosset repeated. “Give me a clean search.”
He gave Lance his gun and started with the taller of the two youths. He came up with a ratchet knife, a pack of contraceptives and sixty dollars in twenty-dollar bills. The shorter youth except for twenty dollars more, had just about the same things on him.
Pennant had driven up and stopped behind Premba’s car, but no one got out. The two youths had begun to have a ray of hope when they saw the headlights of Pennant’s car, but that hope died when the car drew to a stop behind their captor’s car.
“Where are the guns?” Premba asked.
“We don’t have any guns, we’re not gunmen,” the taller youth replied.
“We know you’re lying, but we’ll find out,” Premba told them.
“Now get into the car and don’t try anything or else you’re going to be sorry,” Grosset warned.
One got into the back seat of Premba’s car, while the other got into Pennant’s car. Premba drove on the main road for some time before he saw a dirt road and turned into it. They had been interrogating the two youths with no success so far. They had never heard of Pinchie or Evert. They didn’t know anything about weed. The money they were spending was what they had earned as bauxite workers. Premba drove on the lonely dirt road for some time before stopping the car.
They opened the car doors and filed out. Pennant’s car drew up beside them and the occupants got out. The two suspects were made to stand beside a tree. Grosset and Pennant took out their razor sharp machetes from the car trunk. Chaser and Lance had their AK-47s trained on both youths.
“Who sent you to beat up Pinchie and Evert and steal our weed?” Grosset growled at them.
“We told you already that we don’t know what you’re talking about,” the taller youth replied.
Butler moved up to the taller youth with his gun and pointed it at his head.
“Hey, we’re going to kill you if you don’t tell us who and you beat up Pinchie and Evert and stole our weed,” he warned.
“We don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s just the dance, we’re going,” the shorter youth pleaded.
Pennant and Grosset pointed their razor sharp machetes at both youths’ necks.
“Where did you hide our weed?” Premba asked.
Both youths remained silent.
“Shoot this youth in his head, Butler,” Premba ordered.
“Wait, wait, we’ll tell you what you want to know,” the taller youth pleaded.
“It was Josiah Bethune, who hired us, he told us that we’d get plenty of money.”
“How many of you, did he hire?” Grosset asked.
“Let us go and we’ll tell you,” the shorter youth pleaded.
“Tell us and we’ll let you go,” Pennant countered.
Both suspects went mum again.
Then all of a sudden the taller youth made a huge leap in the air and dropped into a gully. They heard him rolling down its steep inclines. The men fired a volley of gunshots after him. After a while there was silence.
“I think, we got him,” Premba declared. “The little fucker is dead.”
“Do you want to get what your friend just got?” Grosset asked the other youth.
The youth was stupefied. His clothes were wet with perspiration. His lips were white and his eyes wild with fear.
“Josiah lives off the main road about a mile from here.”
“Who lives with him?” Grosset asked. “And what does he look like?”
“He lives with his wife and children. He is short and stout and walks with a limp.”
“Does he have any daughters?” Premba asked.
“One daughter and two sons. The daughter just left school.”
That would make her about seventeen mused Premba, remembering that his own school days had ended at fifteen when he stabbed a boy in the abdomen and had to flee school and the boy’s friends. It had taken a year for the police to catch up with him, but by that time he had done more bad things. He had been sent to the Stony Hill Approved School, where he had spent ten months, before escaping along with Pennant. He had managed to stay one step ahead of the police. Since he had joined McCreed’s syndicate, he was several steps ahead of them. Josiah Bethune’s daughter could make this trip more than interesting, he thought.
As if reading Premba’s mind, the youth said.
“She’s Pinchie’s girlfriend.”
The gang leader nodded in acknowledgement of what the youth had just said.
“You see how wicked you are. The youths and you are friends and just because you’re getting money to steal their weed, you beat them up, nearly killed them. That’s why we should kill you.”
“Hey, boy, you have to show us where this man lives.”
The youth didn’t appear to hear what the gang leader said.
“Now get into the car and just remember that you’re already dead,” Premba shouted at the frightened youth.
They got into their cars and drove away. Their next destination being Josiah Bethune’s house.

Chapter Ten

Josiah Bethune had been given a government house as an act of political patronage. He didn’t put all his energies into politics, however, as he did some farming. He planted a small amount of marijuana, which he dried and sold to a man, who bought the stuff wholesale and then he would go to the various rural towns and retail it. He didn’t know if this man made any money, but he was always on time with his payments.
With this money plus what he got from his other crops and being a casual laborer on several construction sites, he was able to turn his simple dwelling into a respectable four bedroom house complete with a kitchen, two bathrooms and a living and dining room.
He had never been satisfied. There was always this feeling of envy when he saw the fabulous mansions going up around him and the expensive cars being driven by men he knew to be of humble means. He knew that these men had achieved their wealth through marijuana cultivation. On his small plot of land there was not much he could do. He had to plant other crops for his household use. These crops he used to hide the marijuana plants. His efforts to rent or lease land were in vain as the prices being asked were very high. He had turned to poaching, but it was a dangerous business. He nearly lost his life when the owner of a field, which he was poaching along with two other men, had summoned help and a terrible fight took place. He had received several wounds all over his body, which had hospitalized him for over two months. He now walked with a limp as a result of those injuries.
Six months after he came out of hospital, Raiders, whom he knew for several years as a man who moved from country to town and got into all sorts of trouble, had contacted him. If his memory served him right, the man had never done time. A man in Kingston wanted some marijuana for exporting and wasn’t prepared to buy it. He wanted it poached but would pay good money. His mind had immediately hooked on Pinchie and Evert’s field. The two men worked alone so it should be easy pickings. He had studied their movements and knew that they normally were partying or playing board games most nights. He told Raiders this and they had recruited two youths, Richard and Martin. The two youths were unemployed and had gotten into all sorts of trouble. Martin had done six months for chain snatching while Richard had served a year for robbery.
They had actually started cutting the plants when Raiders said that there was a light in the hut. They had approached it without making any noise and there were the two men. He hadn’t wanted to hurt them, but Raiders insisted that they would find the cut plants and probably raise an alarm and so they had attacked them. He had received three hundred dollars and Richard and Martin one hundred and fifty dollars each. He was due to get another hundred dollars in three week’s time. Both youths were also due to receive another fifty dollars at that time.
Josiah sat in the bar and relaxed; he was drinking white rum and had bought some of his friend’s drinks already. He hadn’t seen Richard or Martin since they had received their money. He felt that they were sensible youths who wouldn’t let anybody know what had happened. At least Raiders had warned them that he knew where they lived so they should be careful with their mouths.
***
Premba parked the car by the roadside and he, Grosset, Lance with the surviving youth leading the way, made it down to Josiah’s house. This was the first house on the dirt track.
Premba knocked on the door. Josiah’s wife came to the door believing it to be her husband or her sons.
If it was her sons, she would send them to look for Juliet, who had told her that she was only going up to the dance to talk to some of her friends. She said that she would be back by ten o’clock, but now it was eleven and there was no sign of her. Her husband always came home late at nights, especially if he was drinking.
“Josiah,” she called out.
Grosset answered her in a fake voice.
The woman half-opened the door and looked out. It wasn’t Josiah! Desperately, she tried to close the door, but Grosset grabbed her hand and closed his left hand over her mouth. He then pushed her through the door as the other three men followed.
They went into the living room where the woman was made to sit in one of the couches along with the youth. Premba, Lance and Grosset stood over them with guns and machetes.
“Don’t make a sound woman, we’re looking for your husband, where is he?” Grosset asked.
“Josiah has gone drinking.”
“Has he been spending a lot of money lately?” Premba inquired of her.
He had to agree that this was a reasonable size house, but its interior didn’t indicate that the man had gotten a windfall lately; still it could be all going into his liquor, women or gambling.
“Are you policemen?”
Premba nodded and motioned to the youth.
“Tell her what you just told us about Josiah.”
The youth looked at Mrs. Bethune, but didn’t say anything.
“Hey, boy, tell her what you did. I told you that you’re already dead.”
Premba took out his gun and pointed it at the youth’s head.
“Hey, boy, start talking fast or else you’re going to die.”
The youth looked into Mrs. Bethune’s motherly face and remained silent.
“Richie, what has Josiah done to these men?”
Richie was close to tears.
“We helped him steal their weed.”
“It’s a lie you’re telling on Josiah, lies he’s telling on him.” Mrs. Bethune burst out crying.
“Mamma, listen, the only way you can save your husband is to pay us. Do you have any money?”
“No, sir, it’s my husband, who keeps all of the money.”
“Hey, Premba, it looks like we’re joking with these people,” Grosset complained.
“It seems as if this youth thinks we’re joking with him,” Lance said. He went up to Richie, pulled him out of the couch and put his knife at his throat.
“Mamma, just give us the money you have and let us leave,” Premba warned.
The woman got up and went into a room. Premba followed her. Presently he came out pushing her before him, a roll of bills in his hand. He counted the money, which amounted to three hundred dollars.
“Let’s move, guys, hey, boy.”
He turned to Richie and drew his gun.
“You should be dead.”
Richie saw Premba draw the gun and he leaped out of the couch and made a desperate jump at a board window, knocking it out as he went through. The men ran up to the window, firing shots through it. Premba and Lance went through it and dropped into the back of the yard. There was no sign of Richie. They ran to the edge of a gully behind the house.
“I think he jumped into this gully,” Premba pointed out.
They peered down into the gully, but couldn’t see anything. They could hear a thrashing sound in the gully and both men fired a volley of shots down there. Then the sound ceased.
“What was the boy trying to do, Premba?” Grosset asked, as he opened the back door and joined them.
“The little idiot was trying to escape. I think we got him.
Hey, come, let’s leave,” Premba told them.
“It seems as if the old lady has fainted,” Grosset told them.
“She fainted,” Premba expressed his surprised.
They returned inside to find Mrs. Bethune sprawled out on the floor.
“The heavy blasts of the gunshots seemed to have shocked her and she fell out of the couch,” Grosset remarked.
“Are you sure she didn’t get a heart attack?” Lance asked, looking at the unconscious middle aged woman.
“Come, guys, let’s move, we might see the old man on the road.”
The three men went out of the house and headed for their car. Chaser and Butler were sitting on top of Pennant’s car. When Premba’s group reached them, Chaser asked.
“What happened, we heard shots?”
“The youth was trying to escape by jumping through a window, but we shot him. I think he’s dead,” Premba reported.
They got into their cars and drove off slowly.
***
Josiah had now finished drinking. He paid his bill, but not before cursing off the barmaid and telling her that she had padded the bill. He staggered out of the bar, the barmaid watched him go.
As he staggered along the road feeling a bit tipsy, he saw a car coming towards him. Had he not been in such a stupor he would have pulled into the bushes but he staggered on.
The car stopped beside him.
“Hey, daddy, do you know where Mr. Bethune lives?” Premba asked.
“I don’t know anybody by that name.”
As he finished speaking, two men jumped out of the car, one with a gun and the other with a machete.
“Get into the car, grandfather. We know who you are, so don’t try to play any tricks on us,” Grosset told him.
Another car was coming along the road; Josiah looked on as the car’s headlights approached. The car stopped beside them.
“Is this the old man?” Pennant asked.
“The same man, the youths were telling us about,” Grosset replied. “The description fits him. Short and stout and walks with a limp.”
“Get into the car, we have some questions to ask you,” Premba told him.
Still Josiah hesitated.
“Who are you, police?”
He heard a ‘click’ behind him and his body tensed.
“Just shoot him, Lance,” Premba directed.
Josiah looked at Grosset and at the other men and realized that he had no chance of escaping. Grosset started pushing him towards the car and finally bundled him into the back. He and Lance got into the backseat on either side of the old man.
Premba spun the car around and headed for Kingston, Pennant followed in the Ford Escort. They drove for some time before they again found a dirt track and went into it. Pennant in the other car didn’t follow, but remained on the main road near the entrance of the track.
Premba drove for about a kilometer before stopping. They got out of the car and dumped the old man on the ground.
“Who paid you to beat up Pinchie and Evert and steal our weed?” Premba asked.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Let’s chop off his head, Premba,” Grosset suggested.
He moved closer to Josiah with his machete. The old man looked at Grosset and realized just what a predicament he was in.
“It was Raiders, who hired us, me, Martin and Richie. He lives in Kingston and he returned with the truck, which carried the weed.”
“Raiders, I know him. He lives in a lane off Bay Farm Road. He should be dead long ago. That guy held up my sister and stole her chain. He’s an old thief. He’s a tall man, with a long knife mark in his face,” Lance told them.
The old man nodded.
“Who, Raiders said was buying the weed?” Premba asked.
“He didn’t tell me the man’s name.”
“Where does this man live?”
“Raiders only told me that he lives in Kingston.”
Premba opened the car door and got back inside.
“I’m getting tired of this. Old man, where is the money, search his pockets,” he told Grosset and Lance.
Grosset was at the old man’s pockets immediately. He came up with one hundred dollars and a pack of contraceptives.
Grosset hissed his teeth.
“How much money did you find, Grosset?”
“One hundred dollars.”
“It’s only that money I have, I don’t have any more. It’s the truth, I’m telling you.”
Premba felt that this man was of no more help to them.
“Hey, come, let’s leave this place now,” he directed at Grosset and Lance.
As he shut the car door, Lance asked, “What happen, Premba, you’re not going to fire two shots into the old man?”
Premba didn’t reply, only spun the car around and drove past a prone Josiah. He had only driven a few meters when he stopped and put the car into reverse. The old man only saw when a hand reached out of the window, saw the gun, but couldn’t throw himself aside as it barked once then twice. The first shot took him in his left breast, the next one in the neck. Premba put away the gun and drove off again. When they reached the main road they pulled up beside Pennant’s car.
“We’re going to check a guy on Bay Farm Road,” Premba told him and drove off. Pennant gave him a two-minutes start before following.
In the early hours of the morning McCreed’s fighters returned to Kingston and headed for Bay Farm Road. Lance directed them to a lane and they reversed the car into it. Pennant didn’t come into the lane, but stopped a few meters from the entrance and waited on Premba’s group.
Premba stopped his car before a board gate, which guarded a tenement yard. A board house was on the other side of the road, Lance said that this was the house and the three men went over to it. Premba pulled the gate open and they entered the yard. Grosset knocked on the front door of the house.
“Raiders, Raiders.”
They could hear snoring inside the room. There was a creak of bedsprings and a rustle of bedclothes.
“Who is that?”
Grosset hit the plywood door with a rockstone he had picked up in the yard and it shattered into pieces, the three men rushed into the room.
Raiders didn’t even have time to grab his machete before Grosset grabbed him.
“Raiders, you dirty fucker. You beat up Pinchie and Evert and stole our weed.”
He drove a right hook into the man’s belly, which sent him crashing to the floor.
Premba had turned on the lights. Raider’s woman, was curled up in a corner of the bed.
“Get out of the bed,” he shouted, looking approvingly at the curvaceous woman’s figure.
“Hey, guy, we’re taking away your woman as revenge, because you beat up our friends.”
The girl was about to scream when he grabbed her and covered her mouth with his hands.
“Raiders do you have any guns or money?” Premba asked.
The man shook his head.
“I don’t have any guns or money.”
Premba looked at him and laughed.
“You spent off the money already, you dirty fucker.”
“Who paid you to beat up Pinchie and Evert and steal our weed?” Grosset shouted at Raiders, his hands were in the man’s nightshirt. Lance was at the door with the AK-47 rifle.
The man didn’t answer Grosset.
“Where did you hide our weed?” Premba asked him.
“I rode my bike back to town. I don’t know where the truck went with it.”
Raiders realized that he had been betrayed. He was about twenty six years of age with a hazy look in his eyes from too much marijuana smoking and violence.
Premba was searching the room for a dress, presently he found one, which he threw at the woman. This she put on over her nightie. He then told her to pack her bags. When she finished, he started to push her towards the door.
“Where are you taking her?” Raiders asked.
“What you want to know that for?” Premba asked him. “Where you’re going you won’t be needing her again.”
Lance raised the AK-47 and pointed it at Raiders.
“We’re wasting too much time talking to him, I’m getting sleepy.”
“He knows who is the man behind the stealing of our weed,” Grosset told Lance.
“I don’t know who you’re talking about. But I can tell you about Josiah Bethune, he’s their contact up in the country.”
“We settled with your friends already, Raiders. That’s how we know about you. Save your life by telling us who he is,” Premba told him.
“I don’t know who he is,” Raiders said finally.
“So you don’t know who is paying you, well, okay then, Raiders,” Premba said as he pushed the girl out of the house, Grosset going before him. He signaled to Lance. Lance pointed the gun at the condemned man, who realizing what was about to happen, flung himself on the floor. He tried to roll under the bed, but Lance had already started shooting. Two shots caught the man in the back of the head. He lay on his belly at the side of the bed.
Again Lance aimed the gun and fired it into the man’s back. He then backed out of the house and ran to the car, opened the door and got in where Grosset was holding the mortally wounded man’s woman. Premba had already started the car and they drove off. They went back out onto the main road and headed for Wareika, Pennant keeping a short distance behind them.
***
The next day, Sunday, at around nine-thirty in the morning Bendoo was sleeping in a hammock when he heard shouts waking him up. Grosset, Lance, Pennant, Butler and Chaser were there. The men all sat on a long bamboo bench near the hammock.
“What’s happening, Bendoo?” Grosset greeted him.
Bendoo rubbed his eyes, trying to get rid of the sleepiness, which he still felt.
“I’m trying to get some sleep.”
“So how did it go? I heard that you guys crashed a party and really enjoyed yourselves,” Lance stated.
“We didn’t see the two men and nobody knew anything about them so we just decided to spend the rest of the night at a party. We reached up here about four o’clock.”
He got out of the hammock took some paper, put some of the marijuana in it and began making a cigarette.
“This herb’s nice,” he remarked as he let out a ring of smoke.
“Last night was nice. I saw Dally with a real sexy girl. We smoked up a lot of the green herb and drank some hard liquor.”
“So what happened, you didn’t get any girls?” Lance asked.
“Of course, I got two of them, Duffus got two too. Hey we had to take Dally’s girl away from him. He wanted to spend the whole night with her.”
“He’s a dangerous youth,” Grosset remarked.
“He was high on the green herb and liquor. He’s not supposed to wake up until tomorrow.”
“So what happen to Pablo?” Lance asked.
“Indian, hey, he found a girl up there. The girl didn’t want to let go of him so we had to leave him up there. He said when he’s ready he’ll just borrow a motorcycle and come in on it.”
“When we were dancing with some of the girls we saw some little guys making up their faces but when they realized that we were armed they just had to cool it.”
“Bendoo, the four men we wiped out last night were the ones, who beat up Pinchie and Evert and stole their weed,” Grosset told him.
Bendoo tried not to show any emotion.
“Those men should be dead. They can’t beat up our friends like that and live. I’m angry that Ardez never sent me because it’s a long time since I’ve killed a man.”
“Bendoo, Premba kidnapped a girl from Bay Farm Road and brought her to the camp. When we were coming down, Lance and I had to hold her to prevent her escaping. When Lance shot her man she flung herself down on the ground. It’s a wonder people never came to find out what was happening. Then when we were coming up here she put up a fight trying to escape. We had to leave her down at Rattigan’s shack. She refused to go to Premba’s shack with him,” Grosset told him.
Bendoo was glad, if the girl was at Rattigan’s shack it meant that Camilla was taking care of her.
He grimaced, but tried not to show it.
“Grosset, are you mad? When people hear those guns barking, they are not going to leave their houses.’’
“That’s true, Bendoo, all when we held the gun on the guy he didn’t want to tell us anything. He tried to roll under his bed, but I let him have three shots.”
Bendoo rolled some more marijuana leaves and lit it.
“Premba knows that Bridget will fight his new woman,” he declared.
“He wants to get rid of Bridget. The two of them are always fighting,” Pennant stated.
Bendoo knew that Bridget loved fighting as she had told him that she had once wounded a girl in a fight. She loved partying and going to dances. Premba had told him that she had two children for him but they were with her mother in the country.
“We saw two expensive motorcycles up at the dance. We
wanted to take away one of them, but because Duffus is from that area, he said we shouldn’t do it,” Bendoo told them.
“I understand how Duffus felt. They probably would have blamed him when they found that the motorcycle was missing,” Pennant stated.
“Yeah, I agree with you. I’m going to get some more sleep,” Bendoo told them.
He climbed back up into his hammock as most of the fighters began drifting back to their shacks, shortly he was snoring.
Chapter Eleven

Lex felt like a man on the edge of a precipice. His wife was now operating his business and he had to be in hiding from McCreed’s gunmen. She had gotten redundant eight months ago and had been unable to find another job. He felt that the present situation was unbearable and it would be better for him to leave the syndicate. He reflected on King. The man was obviously not fit to lead anyone. His puny efforts to raid Mc Creed’s weedfields were completely useless. They would not make much money from the small amount of weed poached so far. Brad and Jack were just as spineless. All three were worthless and he would have nothing more to do with them.
He drove to Bigs Avenue that evening. There were syndicates, he knew, who had fighters for hire, but he was not sure of their relationship with McCreed. Bigs Avenue men were always there for hire plus they were reliable and trigger-happy. He employed four men.
All had done small jobs for him before. He gave them an advance and told them to meet him on Monday if they were successful. He gave them the directions to Mc Creeds’s house and the type of car he drove. He then drove at breakneck speed for the meeting with King and the man, who had flown down from Miami, G.C. Cox.
***
G.C. Cox was a hard cigarette smoker. His doctors had warned him several times to the extent that he was smoking a pack a day, down from the two packs of ten years ago. At fifty-two he cut a rather professional figure being clean cut and always neatly dressed. He stepped out of the Air Jamaica jet at the Norman Manley International Airport, collected his baggage, went through immigration and customs and headed for a waiting taxi, that would take him to King’s Cherry Gardens home. He would then head for his sister’s house in Meadowbrook Estates.
G.C’s sojourn away from Jamaica had been a long one and the man responsible for this was none other than Gus McCreed. He had narrowly escaped death at the hands of his gunmen. The big bald head giant was cutting a clear path to dominating the drug and marijuana trade. If he hadn’t refused his offer to buy the lands at Jackfruit Valley and the weed crop, then maybe he wouldn’t have to run away. He knew he shouldn’t have run away, but he had reasoned that it was safer because had he stayed he would certainly have been killed, with so many bloodhounds on his trail. How McCreed had known about him, he didn’t know, since he was a small grower.
The death squad, which had visited his office that afternoon, had mistaken his accountant for him and had ruthlessly cut down the man. He suspected that when McCreed heard that his men had gotten the wrong man he had sent them on a hunt for him with orders to shoot to kill on sight. He had gone into hiding, hardly venturing out at all. His wife began looking after their immigration papers and after some pocket lacing they got permanent visas to reside in the United States. They had left for the States from Montego Bay airport being sure that McCreed would have people watching Norman Manley airport in Kingston. Even then he had worn a deep disguise.
But now he wondered why he had run away. His stationery manufacturing business was doing well and marijuana growing and exporting, was only a small part of his operations, albeit the most profitable.
In the States, he had found a job and he and his wife had settled down comfortably in Miami, but a salary alone didn’t suit a man like him and he had begun to move around. He got his feel of the United States drug market, saw its potential and knew he could make his fortune.
He had phoned King, telling him of the great possibilities that existed in the U.S.A. King was by now out of business, betrayed by his friend, Dickson Lunan and defeated by McCreed. G.C had wanted to make a fresh start.
King had replied favorably. No confrontations until they were strong enough. After paying the taxi driver he had been warmly welcomed by King and his fabulous wife, Betsy, to whom he had been introduced as an old friend.
Now on Friday night he sat in the back room of Ridley Squire’s bar in Stony Hill, with his host, Brad Elliot, Jack Marriot and Lex Malcolm, who had just arrived and looked like he had driven like hell to reach on time. King had introduced him to his partners as an old friend of his and he was glad.
***
“We have to treat this man like one of us. He says he wants to join our syndicate,” King told them.
“That’s no problem so long as he has a contribution to make,” Lex stated.
King looked very hard at him.
“This man’s just like us, it was Mc Creed, who put him out of business,” he remarked.
“I’m glad that I can meet some men, who hate that man just like I do,” G. C said supporting King.
“What are your plans, G.C?” Lex asked.
“Why are you going so fast, Lex?” King countered. “Let’s review our little operation last Thursday night. We’re going to make some good money off it. If we can make some more raids on his fields we can really make some money to hire some good men to help us fight against him.”
“I’m looking buyers, I have a man who’s interested. He’s one of my old time customers. He’s coming to look at it and to make me an offer. The dryers at the warehouse are working overtime.”
“They killed two of the men we hired and the two youths were badly shot up and are in hospital. It means we’ll have to hire a different set this time around, that’s what I don’t like,” Brad remarked.
“How did they find those men so easily though? I know some men, if you pay them well they’ll do anything for you,” G.C said ignoring Jack’s question.
“So why didn’t you hire some of those men you’re talking about to get rid of him?” Lex asked.
King looked at him; Lex took out a cigarette and lit it.
“Those guys charge a lot of money,” G.C replied.
“As I see it, it doesn’t matter how much they charge, we’ve got to find the money to pay them. Once we get rid of Mc Creed and Fred, we’ll be the ones running things,” Lex stated.
“The weed’s in a safe place, isn’t it?” G.C asked.
“It’s in a warehouse that I have,” King replied.
“Once we have the weed, we can hire some men. If we tell them about our plans, I’m sure they’ll go along with us. There are a lot of men out there, who hate Mc Creed’s guts,” G.C opined.
“I can’t wait to see some more action. I’m sure Brad agrees with me because we want to return to our businesses,” Lex stated.
“Danny has more raids planned,” Jack put in.
The room was silent.
“Order some more drinks, Brad.”
Brad got up at King’s request and went out to the bar.
“I thought you were doing the planning, Jack,” Lex’s sarcastic remark cut deeply into the silence of the room.
“You damn well knew that I wasn’t doing any planning, Lex.”
“Look how Fred turned us down. I think he believes that we’re no match for Mc Creed. I don’t doubt anything G.C is saying, but my wife has to be operating my business for me because of Mc Creed’s gunmen. I have to do something about that. If any of you’re serious and want to join me, you can give me a call, until then so long,” Lex declared, standing up.
“I don’t know why you were asking me about planning, and you know I wasn’t doing any,” a still angry Jack Marriot flung at him.
“You’re always going on as if you’re a bad man, Jack,” Lex told him.
Jack stood up.
“It’s you who are always going on as if you’re a bad man. You want to go for it, Lex. You want to go for it,” Jack challenged, pointing to Lex’s new gun in his waist. The two men faced off each other. Jack’s gun was also in his waist.
King realizing that the two men were about to draw on each other shouted.
“Don’t bother with that!”
Lex stalked angrily outside.
“Lex, Lex, wait, wait,” King shouted after him, but it fell on deaf ears.
Jack re-took his seat
“He’s going on as if he’s a bad man, and the other day when those guys robbed him he couldn’t do anything. They took away his gun and busted up his hand.”
Brad returned with the drinks, he set them down on the table.
“Where’s Lex?”
“He’s gone,” Jack volunteered.
“What the hell!” Brad exclaimed, and rushed outside, but he was too late. Lex was just driving off and kept his eyes on the road despite Brad’s shouts.
Brad returned to the room looking very angry and disheveled.
“I wonder what’s gotten into him,” he remarked.
“That man’s a big fool,” G.C said as he lit a fresh cigarette. Jack lit his first cigarette for the night off it.
“He can’t do anything without us, unless he plans to kill Mc Creed personally or hire some stupid guys to do it for him,” King remarked.
Brad began pouring out the drinks; Danny King took a sip of the rum and milk.
“Gentlemen, let’s get down to business and forget about Lex,” he advised them.
The four men started talking in low tones. G.C told them about his contacts, including Ruddy Brown. King told them about his planned raids on McCreed’s marijuana fields. After much persuasion Brad Elliot agreed to recruit the poachers. The meeting broke up with G.C promising to contact Ruddy.
***
Wednesday June 12,1978-Gaskell Burke was seated around a table at the Rio Nuevo Suite of the Hill View Hotel. He had rented it for a half-day business meeting. In the room were Ken Stone, Benn Sanderson and Wally Judge. Stone was tall and thin. Wally and Benny were both short men with both being stout. All three were underworld figures. Stone usually handled Danville’s shipments in Miami, getting buyers for him. Benny and Wally worked for separate outfits.
“We’re going to starve if we don’t do something about what’s going on,” Gaskell stated.
“It’s a long time a shipment hasn’t passed through my hands and that’s why I came out here,” Benny stated.
“I can give you the lowdown on what’s going on. It’s a man named Mc Creed who’s running things now. Danville told me certain things about him,” Burke told them.
“These two men don’t like guns, Gaskell. I’ve told them that they’d better return to the States because they won’t last long out here,” Ken warned.
“I can take them to the range and give them some shooting lessons. I know a man who will be willing to rent them a gun for a weekly fee,” Burke told them.
“You see how good Danville was with a gun and look what they did to him. Two of Danny King’s associates want to join us, but I’ve told them that I want nothing to do with King. If they want to join us they’ll have to kill him or else he’s going to kill them.”
“Let’s get down to planning the syndicate and forget about King,” Wally declared.
The four men then got down to planning with Ken telling them about two men he knew, who would be willing to come to Jamaica, to train fighters if they could be found, to attack McCreed’s gunmen. Burke told them that he had an old house that was given to him to be sold, that they could use. The meeting broke up with Burke returning to his office while the others caught flights home.
***
Ruddy Brown promoted dances and stage shows. He operated between Miami and Kingston. He could be called something of a marijuana broker. He arranged deals between buyers and sellers of marijuana. He also got planes out of Miami to pick up marijuana supplies at various Caribbean locatons. He was relaxing and smoking one of his favorite cigarettes after making love to his second woman for the night. He had sent the first one packing after she made a particularly crude remark about a friend of his.
He stretched full length on the bed and crushed up the cigarette in the ashtray. The ashtray had been given to him by a Bahamian beauty queen. He looked at Susie again. He should have taken a group to Jamaica this Independence but decided against it after much meditation on his encounter with McCreed’s gunmen. That was six months ago; he had been checking around for possible supplies of marijuana, when he received an anonymous telephone call to lay off and return to the States if he wanted to live. He had ignored the call as coming from some crank.
It wasn’t until one evening he returned to his guesthouse in Ocho Rios to find three men in his room. One was a huge giant of a man, whom he subsequently learned was called Grosset. The others looked just about as dangerous.
He wasn’t easily intimidated though.
“What are you guys doing here?”
“Are you, Ruddy Brown? You’d better come with us, our boss wants to talk to you,” the giant demanded.
“I’m not going anywhere with you, you’d better get out of here before I call the police.”
“Don’t ask any more questions, guy. Just do as we tell you,” the giant ordered again, knitting his brows.
“Move your dirty selves from here,” he shouted and went for his gun. He was surprised at the speed at which the giant’s gun appeared in his hand. His fist had just closed around the butt of his gun when the giant’s gun exploded and he felt a searing pain in his right shoulder.
The two other men had also drawn their guns. He had fallen to the floor and the giant relieved him of his gun.
“It’s because the boss wants to give you a chance or else I would pump some more bullets into you,” the giant warned.
He had spent two months in hospital and although he reported the matter to the police nothing came out of it.
It was only when he returned to the States and met G.C, his old friend that he realized that it was Mc Creed’s gunmen, who had shot him. He had been livid with fury, but G.C had shown him the futility of trying anything against the Mc Creed organization.
Now he lay looking at the ceiling of his apartment and thinking about the future. His money was fast running out and most entertainers wanted big retainers before they signed any contract to perform. He should get a steady job, but he hated office jobs. He loved a job, which had a certain amount of intrigue and excitement to it. Despite the risks, entertainment had that plus that was how he got his drugs through and got to know the right people. In the past he had made huge amounts of money through this avenue. It had allowed him to live comfortably and do a lot of partying.
He was nudging Susie for them to make love again when the telephone rang. He reached down and picked it up. It was an overseas call. He waited a few seconds for the connection.
Susie groaned and rolled over in the bed, but did not wake up.
“Ruddy, is that you?” came a male voice.
“Who’s that calling me? Rahtid, G.C, is that you? What’s going on? Where are you calling me from?”
“I’m out here in Jamaica. I’ve teamed up with a syndicate. They want to try a thing against Mc Creed. I’ve told them about you and they want you to come down here to talk to them.”
“I’ll do that yes, but who are those men though?”
“You know Danny King, Lex Malcolm, Brad Elliot and a couple of other men.”
“Is this the same King, whose gang Mc Creed wiped out?”
“Yes, but he’s recruiting fighters for a low level war with Mc Creed. Those other men look like they mean business. He claims that it was Dickson Lunan who betrayed him.”
“Whether or not Dickson betrayed him, I don’t think he could have beaten Mc Creed.”
“Yeah, I have to agree with you.”
“G.C, I’ll contact you again and you can give me some more information on things over there. So how are the girls down there?”
“They’re out here as fat as ever.”
“What, G.C, keep yourself in check, don’t overdo it, my friend. I’ll be out there soon to help you out,” Ruddy shouted, laughing as he hung up the phone.
What the hell, something was coming his way at last. He decided against venturing into Jamaica until he was sure of some protection against Mc Creed’s gunmen, meanwhile he would stay in Miami and arrange things.
He turned to wake up Susie; a good bout of sex now would do him good. It would be just what he needed to send him to sleep. Tomorrow would be a busy day.

Chapter Twelve

Bendoo lay in a tree at Wareika. He had just returned from his latest meeting with Wood. He gave him a full account about the activities at the camp. He knew that once he got to know who the boss was then it would be easy to wipe out this gang of drug smugglers. He lay relaxed in the tree; he could see the beautiful glow of the city. The fresh cool air of the mountains was certainly a refreshing change from all that dust and pollution down there.
He had told Wood about the criminals up here. Premba Mc Donald, Lance Thompson and Desmond Pennant, were serial killers. These three men along with others, had taken part in the hold-up of a bank in St. Ann’s Bay. They had killed a policeman in making their getaway. A policewoman on the scene had shot and killed one of the criminals, but the rest had escaped with almost a hundred thousand dollars. That was about five years ago, he was sure that they would have spent off that money. He wasn’t sure if people like Miles Butler, Matthew Grosset, Stan ‘Dillinger’ Boyd, Weston Duffus and Pablo ‘Indian’ Maragh were a part of the original gang. As for Ardez, Wood was still looking for information about him.
The police had gotten hold of the letters to Tai and the man from Ocho Rios, Winston Young, but had not been able to trace the telephone number. They must have gotten some crooked technician to set up the number. Maybe it was the same man who had set up the line for them to use at the ranch. They also could not make out who had signed the letter.
He was awakened by the sound of the machine gun. Sub-machine gunfire was also coming from the two look out points. The big searchlight was on and was scanning the trail. A group of men led by Grosset rushed to the machine-gun nest and began taking up positions. Bendoo jumped off the tree limb and made his way into the compound.
A voice challenged him.
“Who are you?”
“It’s me, Bendoo,” he said to Nelson, the man on guard duty.
“Pass, Bendoo.”
He made his way back to his shack to get his gun; all the units were being deployed.
When he went to the gun nests he saw fighters below looking at what remained of the two intruders.
“They’re Phanso and Roxy,” Butler stated.
“They must have been coming to join us,” Ardez remarked.
“The two of them just escaped from the General Penitentiary,” Pennant stated.
“They’re just unlucky. I can’t blame the men handling the machine guns. They just have to shoot at anybody they suspect is trying to infiltrate us. We’ll bury them in the morning,” Ardez stated.
The two bodies were riddled with bullets. At least a dozen bullets had drilled each man as the three heavy caliber guns had brought fire to bear on them simultaneously.
Bendoo felt sick in his stomach. Wareika was simply impregnable. He noticed the short time it took for the fighters to get to their posts. A surprise raid was nearly out of the question. A raiding party must come by the trail for to travel by any other route would be almost impossible.
The machine-gun nest would have to be destroyed, the search-light put out and the ammunition depot either captured or blown up as a launching pad to any successful raid.
The fighters were slowly trickling homewards. Bendoo saw Grosset and went over to him.
“Where were you, Bendoo?” the giant asked.
“I was having a smoke. When I heard the machine-gun I thought it was the security forces who were attacking us.”
“Those two men behaved like idiots, they just burst in on us without any warning,” Grosset said.
“Is it the trail they came through?”
“We’ll find that out in the morning.”
“The fighters who are manning the machine-guns are certainly sharp.”
“We’re safe up here. It’s two times the security forces come up here and found that we had bigger guns than they.”
“The boss wasn’t joking when he set up this place.”
They had reached the camp compound now.
“I’ll be seeing you,” Grosset said as he set off for his shack, which was at the eastern end of the village. Bendoo said goodbye too, and made off for his shack at the western end of the village. Niah was seated outside, drinking a stout.
“What’s happening, Bendoo?”
Bendoo put down the rifle and took a seat on one of the benches.
“Were you out there, Niah?”
“Yes, those two guys were foolish to try to reach us like that.”
“How did they reach here? Do you think it was the trail they came through?”
“It must be through there, I don’t see any other way.”
Bendoo went for a stout out of the tiny refrigerator and went to turn on the radio; a soap opera was being aired.
“Turn that off, Bendoo. You don’t see is foolishness that.”
“Just because you can’t understand the show, that’s why you are calling it foolishness.”
“I want to listen to my radio, so I’m going to my shack.”
“Okay,” Bendoo replied, whereupon Niah departed for his shack.
***
Lorena Mc Creed looked into Paul Eason’s face and laughed. She wouldn’t say that he was handsome, but he was certainly fun to be with. He had returned from the States a year ago and occupied a senior position with a top bank in Ocho Rios. A mutual friend at a party they attended had introduced them.
They danced, chatted and generally had a good time since both of them were without a date. The next day he called her, asking for a date but she refused. That was a month ago. He told her that he had broken off his relationship with his American girlfriend just before returning to Jamaica. She wasn’t sure she believed him, but had decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
They were now back at their table.
“You know something, I didn’t know that you were so nice,” he complimented her.
She was definitely enjoying his company.
“I didn’t know that you were such a good dancer.”
Paul smiled to himself. In the States he had been known as ‘Paul the party animal.’ It was only because he and his latest Jamaican girlfriend had broken up why he had been at the party alone and of course that tip off he got from his friend.
He ordered some more drinks; they talked a bit more and got up to dance again.
“I’d like to see you more often.”
“I told you that I’m not seeing anybody else at the moment, so you can always call me. And depending on my schedule I might be willing to go out with you, but running a hotel can be hectic at times.”
“Okay, baby, anything you say, but you know how I feel about you,” he said, holding her closer now.
They were silent now as the song finished and they returned to their table.
They had just sat down when a tall man came over to them.
“Hi, Paul Eason, what’s going on? It’s a long time since I’ve seen you.”
“Rory Dillon, it’s been a couple of years now since I’ve seen you too.”
Paul used both hands to shake the man’s hand.
“Sit down, Rory, let me buy you a drink, and meet my date, Lorena.”
“Sorry, I’m just leaving, but I have a party to invite you to.” the man shook her hand and gave Paul a card.
After the man left Paul explained to her that both of them had been classmates at college in the States, but had lost contact with each other since leaving college.
“You want to go with me?” he asked her, showing her the card.
She took the card and looked at it.
“It looks like a dance, I don’t like to go to those places.”
She returned the card to him.
He thought to himself. If she didn’t want to go, that was no
problem. Most of the girls in the bank would be only too willing to date him if he gave them the word.
“It’s going to be at his mother’s home, nobody’s going to bother you if you come with me.”
“I’ll think about it.”
She looked at her watch; it was five minutes past one o’clock.
“Look at the time, I have to go home. I have to go to work in the morning.”
“I thought you were the boss, so what are you worrying about?”
“Paul, I have to set an example, if I’m absent from work because I was partying the night away what do you believe the staff will think?”
He called over the waiter and asked him for the bill.
“Maybe you need a break, take a holiday, go abroad, have fun.”
“I don’t need any holiday, I’m okay.”
“You know something, lots of people, who live in towns like
Ocho Rios believe that they’re on a permanent holiday.” “
“I don’t know about you, but I work very hard.”
He laughed.
“That’s how I like to hear you talk,” he said as the waiter reappeared with their bill.
He wrote a check and gave him, and they departed.
Later that morning after he had dropped her off at her apartment, she lay thinking. Although it was their first real date she had some doubts about him. She certainly wasn’t going to rush into anything with him until she got to know him better.

Chapter Thirteen

Gus McCreed sat beside his swimming pool, eating fried chicken and drinking fruit punch.
“I’m satisfied with the way you guys went about wiping out those two idiots, who beat up Pinchie and Evert and stole our weed. Although those two young guys survived, I don’t think they’ll fool around our weed again or tell the police who shot them,” he addressed the men. They were Grosset, Premba, Ardez, Rattigan and Pennant. Fred was there too.
“Those two youths managed to jump down a gully after they pumped those bullets into them. I don’t know how they survived. We didn’t find out where they hid the weed though. Premba said that none of the men knew where the truck went with it,” Ardez explained.
“You confronted at least two of the men who could have told us who was behind this whole set up. I believe the man you wiped out in St. Ann knew more than what he told you. Maybe the two youths you shot up, didn’t know anything, but the man you killed on Bay Farm Road must have returned to Kingston with it. He must have known where they took it, you should have beaten it out of him,” Mc Creed blasted out.
Grosset swallowed a huge piece of chicken and drank some cold beer.
His brows were knitted.
“Raiders said he returned to Kingston on his motor-cycle. He left St. Ann before the truck did,” Premba stated.
They had heard conflicting reports that the two youths were still in hospital in St. Ann. Other reports had it that they had been transferred to a hospital in Kingston.
“We can write off that weed, that’s a lot of money down the drain. It’s time we got rid of those skunks,” Fred stated.
“We have gone all over the island looking for those two men, but so far we haven’t had any luck in finding them,”Ardez declared.
“They are here,” Fred stated. “They haven’t run away like G.C and Ruddy. It looks as if they’re up to something.”
“We’re going to hit them hard. The way we wiped out those two idiots, should serve as a warning to them. If they try to leave the island my people with the airlines will know,” Mc Creed told them.
“We’ll have to intensify the search for them,” Rattigan put in.
“You’re right, I want those men dead. I’ve put a reward of two hundred and fifty dollars on each of them. You can spread the word and let some of those guys on the road know about it,” Mc Creed stated.
“Boss, those two men aren’t so smart to be hiding from us for so long, we must find them,” Ardez opined.
“They must know that their houses have been broken into and it doesn’t bother them. Both of them now have other people running their business for them. It seems as if they’re staying with their friends or relatives. Check all of the guesthouses and hotels. They must be somewhere. They must need money to spend so they’ll have to go to the banks. I’m going to talk to my contacts in the banks and put them on full alert,” Mc Creed declared.
Fred Billings took the cigarette from Grosset and lit it with a flash of his lighter.
“I hope that none of you are thinking of going for a swim, you drown easily on a full stomach, Grosset,” Mc Creed shouted at the giant who was stuffing his mouth full of chicken and chips.
The others looked at the huge figure of Grosset and laughed. Mc Creed belched loudly. He looked at the plate of chicken and chips at his feet.
“Well, I don’t think I want anymore,” he said.
Rattigan and Premba both chose marijuana cigarettes as their dessert. Pennant, who always travelled with a bottle of home-made wine, filled one of the cups and passed the rest around to be shared.
“I would like to start our operations next week Friday,” Gus stated.
“Some boats will be coming in from South America with lots of stuff for us to store before they go to the States. We’ll be shipping them out on Sunday nights. The people whom we contacted will store them for us.”
“What kind of stuff will they be bringing in, boss?” Pennant asked.
“Mostly cocaine, those guys in Columbia have their own labs and chemists too. We’re just going to be a transshipment point for them for now.”
“We’re going to get a good cut. It’s plenty of money anyway you look at it.”
“How are we going to move it inland?” Fred asked.
“Our fishermen friends, Tom and Eddie, will collect it for us. You guys will take it from them. I don’t want the Factory to touch it.”
He had hardly finished talking when there were several loud explosions above them.
“What the hell, those sounded like gunshots!” he shouted.
“They came from up the house!” Fred in turn shouted.
“They’re attacking the house,” Ardez said as they all drew their guns.
“Spread out around the lawn. We’re going to wait for them down here. Fred, go and turn off the lights.”
Fred rushed to the light switch that controlled the lawn and pool area and in a second the whole area was plunged into darkness.
Lex’s four men having ransacked McCreed’s house without finding him, made their way down to the pool area, guns drawn and at the ready.
Mc Creed’s fighters were moving in the darkness. As the Bigs Avenue men came onto the lawn they were challenged.
“Who are you?” Grosset shouted and moved his position. He was greeted with instant gunfire. Instantly Mc Creed’s fighters closed in on the Bigs Avenue gunmen.
One of the men was shot in the right leg in the first hail of fire. He fell in the grass. The other three men ran to seek cover, returning the fire as they ran. They were cornered. All around the lawn shots sounded.
One of the men was killed by a withering hail of fire from Mc Creed’s fighters. Another man made a huge leap and went over a fence. The men ran to the fence, but they couldn’t see him in the long grass. They let off a volley of shots after him. The man shot in his leg had managed to roll under a hole in the fence in the meantime and was trying to get away. The men ran up to where the hole in the fence was and fired a volley of shots in the long grass trying to flush him out. Then Grosset shouted.
“One of them is trying to get away, boss.”
The fourth man was trying to escape. He knew that if he jumped the fence, he could escape in the bushes, as they were quite thick and he might be able to hide from his pursuers in them.
All the men were running after him. He was shot in both legs just before he reached the fence. He lay on the ground only a few meters from it.
“Take him alive,” Mc Creed ordered.
Grosset reached the groaning figure on the ground first.
“Don’t move or else I’ll blow your head off,” he warned.
The others reached them a second later. They stood looking down at the youth who was groaning like a baby.
“Who sent you?” Mc Creed asked the wounded man.
Only a groan came from his lips.
“Pick him up, Grosset, let’s take him to where the other one is,” Mc Creed instructed. “The other two fuckers escaped, they won’t get far. I’m sure we shot them. We’ll find out what happened to them in the morning.”
Grosset picked up the wounded man and slung him across his shoulders. When they reached the body of the other man, he threw him down and let out a deep breath. He took out his rag and wiped his forehead. By this time, Ardez had gone and turned the lights back on.
“Any of you recognize any of them?” Fred asked.
“I’ve never seen any of them before,” Premba answered.
“This one will have to tell me who sent him,” Mc Creed said.
“It seems they did some damage up at the house. I’m going to have a look,” Fred told them.
“Ok, Fred. It looks like these men are serious. I have to get something out of this one even if I have to kill him.”
The youth was still groaning from the bullet wounds to his legs. His trousers were soaked in blood.
“Stop your noise and tell us who sent you.”
“He’s playing dumb boss, let me beat it out of him,” Grosset suggested.
“I’ll manage. One of you give me a knife.”
Pennant gave him his ratchet knife. He bent down and put the blade at the youth’s throat.
“Who sent you, boy? Tell me or else I’m going to cut your blasted throat.”
“Carve him up piece by piece,” Rattigan suggested.
The wounded youth was still groaning and shaking his legs.
Mc Creed began to squeeze his throat.
“Are you ready to talk, boy?”
When no answer came from the youth, he squeezed even harder.
“I’ll talk. It was Lex Malcolm, who sent us. He paid us to kill you.”
From inside his shirt pocket, he fished out a small passport size photograph of Mc Creed.
“Where’s Lex now?” Ardez asked him.
“I don’t know, he just came to Bigs Avenue to see Bigger and told him what he wanted us to do.”
“Did he pay you all of the money?” Ardez asked. “If you had killed Mister Mc Creed where were you supposed to meet Lex?”
The youth seemed perplexed.
“Bigger said he told him to phone him as soon as he finished the job.”
“Is Bigger one of those who escaped?” Mc Creed asked.
The wounded youth pointed at the dead man on the ground.
“Search Bigger’s pockets, see if you find the telephone number,” Mc Creed directed.
Grosset was at the dead man’s pockets immediately. He came up with a wallet, which he pocketed, a ratchet knife, a pack of contraceptives and a notebook, which he gave to Mc Creed.
McCreed began turning the pages.
“See it here.”
He waved a leaf of the book at them.
Just then Fred came running down to where they were.
“They killed the dogs.”
“It’s a good thing that it’s Caslyn’s weekend off and Buster has gone to the country. As for those two dogs they were the best I ever had.”
Mc Creed looked downcast.
“Gus, you were smart to have bought so much land, that you don’t have any neighbors living near you to hear those gunshots,” Fred stated.
“We have to get Lex now once and for all. Where’s the nearest telephone booth from here?”
“One is at Rock Hall,” Fred replied.
“You can go there later tonight, Fred. You can disguise your voice, tell him where to meet you and we can send two men to kill him.”
“Good idea,”Rattigan agreed. “But we’ll have to choose a place to which he’ll come readily.”
“Make it Bigs Avenue. We can move into Bigger’s shack because I’m sure that’s where he would have met them. Is that true, youthman?”
The wounded man nodded.
“Where’s the shack?” Ardez asked.
“First house on your left going into Goffe Lane.”
“All of you hear that, we can move in tomorrow about seven thirty. It’ll be dark by then, you can tell him to come at about eight o’clock Fred, and bring the rest of the money. He might want to hear it first so you can tell him that you dumped the body in some bushes.”
“What are we going to do with Bigger’s body?” Ardez asked.
Mc Creed considered for a while before replying. He took the dead man’s gun, looked down at the still groaning figure of the youth who had his eyes closed in an effort to fight the pain in his legs. He aimed the gun at the man’s chest and pulled the trigger twice.
He returned the gun to Ardez.
“There are some garbage bags up at the house. We can stuff the bodies in them. You know where to find Tom and Eddie. Let them handle them for us.”
“In the morning you can help me look for the spent shells, Fred. We’ll have to clean up the place to get rid of any blood stains.”
Pennant went for the garbage bags and they put the bodies in them.
***
On Sunday night Pennant and Duffus moved into Bigger’s shack.
The time was seven thirty and Lex was scheduled to deliver the rest of the money by eight o’clock.
“Hey, I’m suspicious about that guy, Bendoo. I haven’t said anything to anyone yet though, but I saw him talking to a man who looked like a policeman,” Duffus said.
“Who Bendoo, you must be joking. Are you saying that he’s a police informer?”
“This man was clean shaven, wore plain clothes and had a gun sticking out of one of his pockets.”
“What are you talking about, Duffus?” Pennant asked, still in shock at what he was hearing.
“We have to deal with him when we return.”
“If what you’re saying is true, I’m going to fill him full of lead. I’m going to empty out my gun in him.”
They took some more blows off the marijuana pipe.
“The boss wants this man dead, so you just make sure that you shoot to kill.”
“If he comes here, he’s dead.”
“It’s about time a man like that should be dead.”
He took another drag off the marijuana pipe. They were working themselves up into a killing mood.
“If we weren’t up at the boss’s house last night they would still be digging lead out of him.”
“It looks as if he wants to challenge the boss.”
“He’s looking for his death.”
***
Lex got Bigger’s call late Saturday night that his mission had been successful and that Mc Creed’s body had been dumped in some bushes. Bigger said that they had backed up Mc Creed’s car on the Forrest Hill’s main road. They had shot him in the car, taken out his body and thrown it over a retaining wall.
Already he was thinking of returning to his house as soon as Mc Creed’s death was officially confirmed. Gus Mc Creed, his greatest enemy, was dead! He drove through Kingston without having to feel himself in any danger. He would be taking over his arch-enemy’s empire. Once the men at Wareika heard that their boss was dead, they would have to leave their hideout or stay and become bandits, making frequent forays into the city. He would have to get through to them before the panic started. Control of the marijuana fields Mc Creed controlled, would be his. Danny King, Jack Marriot, G.C and Brad Elliot didn’t figure in his plans. If they tried to cut in they would be eliminated. They were all afraid of Gus Mc Creed and as such he had no use for them.
As for Fred Billings, he didn’t count. He had a feeling that Mc Creed’s daughter would not be interested in his syndicate. He would therefore force Fred to cooperate with him.
He would have to get in touch with Gaskell. The man was forming a syndicate to take over the small one, his brother formerly operated. He wasn’t sure how big or how strong they were planning to become. From all accounts, the man was broke, so it must be his partners, who were funding the syndicate. He would have to strike a deal with them. He had heard about Ken Stone and his contacts up in Miami and New York. Rumor had it that he and Ruddy Brown were enemies. There were also rumors that he knew more about the business than Brown, which might be an added incentive to teaming up with Burke.
He was nearing Bigs Avenue now, he looked at his watch, it was nearing eight o’clock and he was supposed to reach Bigger’s shack by that time. He had the balance of the money, four hundred dollars in all in a small brown envelope, having already advanced them a similar amount. He drew up beside the shack, switched off the engine and turned off the lights. He opened the car door and got out, taking the envelope with him.
***
Nearing Bigs Avenue, Delbert Wood heard a barrage of gunshots and wondered if they would be too late to save Lex Malcolm? He turned on to Bigs Avenue and saw a car speeding up the avenue and accelerated his car, he looked over on the other side of the road where some women had gathered. That must be the car with the killers he thought and that was the crime scene.
He slowed to a crawl when he heard a siren and a police car came screaming up the avenue. Wood stopped his car as the police car came up and went over to the crime scene and a Sergeant and two Constables jumped out.
Wood recognized the Sergeant. He was Donald Reid; they had served a year in Linstead along with Bendoo.
“Donald, take care of the crime scene for us, we’re going after them,” he shouted and sped off.
They caught up with Pennant and Duffus on Red Hills Road.
“They’re turning on Washington Boulevard,” one of the Element men in the back of the car said.
“We’re not putting on our siren, we’re just going to follow and try to capture them. I think there are two of them in the car, have your guns ready just in case,” Wood instructed the Element men.
They followed them from Washington Boulevard to Spanish Town Road. Nearing the Ferry Crossing, Pennent switched over
into the left lane.
“They’re turning, it looks as if it’s the Dyke Road they’re going on,” Wood stated.
Pennant and Duffus went across a bridge and turned on to the Dyke Road.
“That car is following us, I think it is a police car,” Duffus warned.
“We’re going to drive down to Independence City and come back this way. If they’re still following us, we’re going to open fire on them,” Pennant told him.
They had driven half-a-kilometer on the Dyke Road.
“They’re still following us, fire some shots at them, Duffus,” Pennant instructed.
Duffus pointed the gun out of the window and fired at the car tires but missed.
The policemen returned the fire. Pennant stopped the car and he and Duffus jumped out and ran into the bushes, each going in the opposite direction.
Duffus had jumped into a grove of trees and was firing his gun. He saw a policeman show his head and he fired but missed. Then he heard a voice behind him say.
“Drop the gun if you don’t want to die.”
Realizing that he stood no chance, he let the gun fall from his hand.
He was immediately handcuffed by one of the two policemen.
Pennant had run into some bushes and he and Wood traded bullets.
He got up and jumped into a gully with Wood and the other Element operative in hot pursuit. From a kneeling position in the gully Pennant fired at Wood, who returned the fire, hitting him in his left side. The other policeman opened up on him. He was hit in the head and left breast and collapsed in the gully. Both policemen waved to their colleagues as they approached the mortally wounded man. The four men were able to bring him up to the top of the road from where they radioed for an ambulance.

Chapter Fourteen

On Monday night King met his partners in Ridley Squire’s bar. They had ordered drinks and were sitting in the back room as usual.
King took a sip of his rum and milk.
“Lex’s dead. I don’t know what he was trying to do. I heard that the police killed one of his attackers and captured the other one.”
“The police didn’t give out their identities?” G.C asked.
“All the police said was that they are still investigating,” Brad replied. “But it’s a move he made against Mc Creed and it backfired on him.”
“The funeral will be next week Thursday. His wife called me. She told me that she intends to sell out the business and then migrate,” King told them.
“After what happened, I can’t say I disagree with her, if the man had only listened to us. It’s a good thing they don’t have any children. So how did it go, Brad?” G.C inquired.
“It went well, I used some city men,” Brad said in response to G.C.
“That’s how I like it, we take out anybody this time?” he asked.
“We knocked out one man and tied him up, it looks as if it was his field,” Brad replied. “We got a good amount.”
“The guy who’s arranging the shipment for us, says we will have to wait. I think he’s getting scared,” King told them.
Brad drank some more of his rum and orange juice.
“If he can’t do it, we’ll have to get somebody else. Pity Lex isn’t around anymore, he had a lot of contacts on the ports. I’ll try to contact one of them.”
Jack drank some of his white wine.
“Good if you could do that, Brad. Anyway, it’s a good blow we give the guy and we have a lot more to give him.”
“I would like to attend Lex’s funeral, but I’m not sure that Mc Creed’s fighters won’t be around waiting on me to show up,” Brad stated.
“I’ll be going so I’ll represent the syndicate,” King told him.
Brad was a very relieved man knowing that he would be represented at his friend’s funeral.
“On Tuesday we’re going to raid one of his fields down at Plum Valley in St. Catherine,” he stated.
“How soon are we going to get down those other drying machines, G.C?” Jack asked.
“I spoke to Ruddy the other night. He was pleased with what we’re doing. He knows some of the people, who make them and he’s going to get in touch with them. He says that anytime we’re ready, we can start. He can get a plane down here anytime. He knows the right people, who have the money,” G.C declared.
“You get the markets for us through Ruddy, G.C. I know him, damn smart boy. I can’t understand why he’s not making it over there,” King wondered out aloud.
“He’s the wild type. He has to earn a lot of money to support the large number of women he has,” G.C replied.
“Is he coming down here?” Jack asked.
“You know that it was Mc Creed’s men, who shot him. He’s not afraid of them though. He says he knows somebody, who’s willing to lend him a gun to use when he comes out here,” G.C replied.
“I hope that all of you have your guns on you if it’s even to carry one of those guys with you,” King told them.
“I got one to rent, if anyone of them come after me, I am going to empty it out in him,” G.C threatened.
“You can bet that they took away Lex’s gun after they shot him,” King opined.
Jack yawned.
“I’m feeling sleepy,” he stated.
“It’s time we leave, I’ll contact you about our next meeting,” King told them.
They all stood up and filed out of the room to their respective cars.
***
Ruddy debated the idea of coming to Jamaica for several days. It wasn’t that he was afraid of Mc Creed; it was the feasibility of the trip. King had told G.C to tell him to come. He would have to borrow a gun when he got there, as he didn’t believe that he could provide him with any type of security. G. C had painted a rosy picture, but it could never be, not if Mc Creed was still alive. Something else was on his mind, thus his need for a gun. He had heard that Ken Stone was saying that he didn’t want to come to Jamaica because he was afraid of encountering him down there. He felt that the man was jealous of him because of the life he lived, while he had to be scraping around to make ends meet.
Lately, though everything had gone wrong for him. He had lost most of his entertainers to more powerful organizations. His bank balance had taken a plunge. He couldn’t go to the big scenes any longer. His creditors had all but declared him bankrupt. The Colombians, Mafioso and other Latino groups were controlling the drug market so there wasn’t much for him there. He decided he would go to Jamaica, avoid Mc Creed’s men and see what G.C and his friends had to offer. If he didn’t like it, he could always return to the States and forget about them. If he met Ken he would show him which one of them was braver. He wouldn’t be taking any of his Miami women with him.
He put through two calls, one to G.C to tell him that he was on his way. Of course he wouldn’t be able to meet him at the airport, as he wasn’t sure that they wouldn’t be spotted. The other call was to one of his women, whom he knew would be overjoyed to accommodate him on his short stay in Jamaica.
***
So then on Wednesday evening a tall man of good physical stature, handsome and well dressed, stepped out of the Air Jamaica jet, collected his baggage, went through immigration and customs and was hugged and kissed by a stunningly beautiful girl.
“Ruddy, I’m so glad to see you. When you called me last night I felt so glad knowing that I was going to see you again.”
“What’s going on, girl? Every day I think about you. I don’t think I can stay so long without you again.”
“You have so many women over there that you don’t even remember me.”
“A lot of them are after me, yes, I won’t deny that. But it’s you alone I’m interested in, so they can go on wasting their time.”
They were coming towards her Honda Prelude motor car now.
“See my car here, Ruddy, you drive. I’ll give you the directions to my apartment. It’s off Constant Spring Road. You don’t even know that I’ve moved from Portmore.”
They had driven to her apartment. There he had a hot bath and then dinner under candle lights. You had to give it to Donnette; she knew how to look after a man. They had then gone to a cabaret show at the Drummond Court hotel on Old Hope Road. When they returned, they had made love after which both of them had dropped off to sleep. When he woke up she had gone to her work at the bank.
He took a bath, then ate the breakfast, she had left for him. He phoned her about using her car and she told him to take a taxi down for it.
***
In a small back room of Angella’s sports bar on Dunrobin Avenue, five men sat having drinks. They were Danny King, Brad Elliot, Jack Marriot, G.C. Cox and Ruddy Brown.
It was Ruddy’s first meeting with King’s syndicate.
“I have people calling me every day about the stuff I used to supply them. When I tell them that my supplies have been cut off they don’t believe me. They think I’m trying to pull a fast one on them,” Ruddy said to his eager listeners.
“Good to hear you, Ruddy. What we want is ready cash to build this organization. That’s why we sent for you. You get the stuff sold for us over there or get the contacts to come for it and pay us on the spot,” King stated.
“You’ll get the ready cash, King and no bad money. Once I can guarantee the stuff, my friends don’t need anything more than that,” Ruddy boasted.
“Could have kept myself afloat meddling in the South
American and South East Asian stuff, but I didn’t want to spoil the reputation that Jamaican weed gave me. Now you guys are giving me another chance and I intend to grab it with both hands,” he continued.
“We’ll guarantee you a good fee for each of our shipments,” King told him.
“That’s okay by me; tell me how do you stand security wise? Will the police bother our planes? Will you let them know that our airstrips aren’t to be touched? My people might not want to come unless their safety can be guaranteed.”
“As soon as things begin to roll we’ll put a few influential policemen on our payroll,” King stated.
“Better put them on before it’s too late. I know these guys out here. It’s going to take a lot of money for them to look in the other direction,” Jack opined.
“About how soon can Ruddy tell his people to come for the stuff?” G.C asked.
Brad took the cigarette from his lips.
“About next week Saturday. We should have enough ready for shipment,” he replied.
“We have thousands of pounds of the stuff down at the warehouse. We could let one or two of your people handle it. As from next week we’ll have to begin finding buyers fast because my men will be hitting his fields at least three times a week,” he continued.
“Are your boys good, Brad?” Ruddy asked. “Understand that the first set were shot up. Two died and two are still in hospital.”
“Those were country boys, we’re using city men now,” King replied.
“Good, good,” Ruddy replied. “Hope you cover your tracks well, Brad.”
“Even though they nearly wiped out the first set, they weren’t going to squeal on us. I’m one hundred percent certain the two injured youths don’t know who hired them,” King replied.
G.C started to bow his head. Brad looked at his watch.
“It’s after ten,” Ruddy said. “I think I’ll better be going.”
“Yeah, it’s about time. I’ll phone you men to let you know when’s the next meeting,” King said as they all got up and filed out of the room.
***
Ardez sat around a table in his shack with Grosset, Premba and Rattigan.
“The police killed Pennant and captured Duffus. Last night some men went into Alton’s weed field, knocked him out, tied him up and then stole his weed,” he reported.
The men sat with heads bowed.
“We might have to go down there to chop and shoot some more of those guys,” Ardez threatened.
“Since we killed Lex, I thought the poaching would have stopped, but it seems to be continuing,” Grosset remarked.
“I feel it’s that guy, Brad, who’s behind it. If we could capture him, we would make him tell us about their whole set up,” Ardez declared.
“He has disappeared, but his business is still operating. I feel that it’s he and some more men who’ve teamed up to fight against us,” Premba opined.
“I’m going to send some men from the camp to go on patrol with some of the growers,” Ardez explained.
“That sounds good to me,” Grosset stated.
“Where’ll our bases be?” he asked.
“Rattigan’s drafting up a timetable, which will show the group’s base on the night they’re operating. More than one group won’t be leaving here at the same time,” Ardez explained.
“Just collect your time tables from me in the morning,” he finished.
Premba stood up.
“Some men are really stubborn. It looks like they want us to come down there to shoot up the place again.”
“If we catch any of them, we might have to bring them up here just to show their friends how we really deal with people, who fool around us. We might just go after those two youths and make sure they are dead, this time around,” Ardez stated.
“We might do that, yes,” Premba replied as they filed out of the room.
***
Gus McCreed was worried; somebody was after his business. They had only used the stupid Lex Malcolm as a front. Since all of his enemies were dead, destroyed or exiled, it had to be somebody new. Probably somebody with overseas contacts, who wasn’t
prepared to plant, only to reap. Such a person or organization he would have to destroy. If it came to a war he was prepared to lead his fighters into it.
He had to pay the medical bills of the two growers, who had been beaten up. These were heavy strains on his resources. He hoped that the plans they had formulated, would stop the poachers in their tracks.
He had to buy two more dogs to replace Polo and Roxy. The killers must have shot them before they jumped the gate for those dogs wouldn’t have given them a chance.
So Brad was still alive and had virtually vanished. His house had been stripped by both the Wareikans and thieves from the area. His small auto-parts business was still operating, however.
If he was found, then he would provide the lead they needed. But the gang had just about exhausted their search for his possible whereabouts. So Ardez had changed the shoot on sight orders to capture and bring to the camp.
Finding such an elusive person would depend on luck.
It was getting dark. He felt for a night on the town. The Outer Edge would be ideal. He picked up the phone.
***
Delbert Wood drove through the light afternoon traffic for his rendezvous with Bendoo. He parked his car in one of the parking lots of the Garden Terrace beer joint on Molynes Road.
Bendoo was waiting for him, as it was mid-afternoon the place was quite scanty. The undercover man was already sipping a stout and he ordered a malt beverage for Wood.
“We can’t get a word out of the guy we captured.”
He was surprised by the large growth of beard the undercover man had grown since the last time he had seen him.
“Don’t worry yourself, he’ll soon talk. We can hold him for Lex’s murder,” Bendoo told him as he took a seat.
“Are you sure you weren’t followed here?” Wood asked.
“I came down to go to Jones Town. I told them that I have a girlfriend down there. I stopped a couple of times to see if they were following me but I didn’t see anybody. They trust me as one of the gang now. I’ve taken part in nearly all of their operations since I’ve gone up there.”
“So you told me already, but the Minister is worried. He’s under a lot of pressure from the Prime Minister. He wouldn’t mind if everything could keep on the level so he wants us to move faster.”
“As soon as I get to know the boss, I can wrap up this operation. But it’s hard work, Rattigan insists that when we aren’t operational we go into training. I can hardly get time to come and give you a report .”
“How soon will you get to know the boss?”
“About next week, he has a big meeting with Ardez and the other commanders. They want me to go too, so you can see that they trust me.”
“Are you sure it’s not a trap? Remember, it’s two of their men they’ve lost since you’ve been up there, plus we’ve captured two of them too.”
“You got anything out of Indian?”
“He doesn’t want to talk, but we have charges, we can book him on.”
“See the weed here,” Wood said, handing Bendoo a paper-bag of marijuana, which the latter stuffed into his travelling bag and stood up.
“I’ll see you, Woody, maybe in another week or so to update you on any new developments.”
“Sure, I’ll be waiting,” Wood said as the two men shook hands and went their separate ways.
He took a bus to Half Way Tree and then another over to Rockfort.
***
Premba’s visit to St. Ann on Friday night had proved fruitless. It couldn’t prevent one of the grower’s fields from being reaped.
On Monday night some heavily armed growers were on a routine patrol of fields in the area when they came upon the reaped field.
Talbot, the grower, looked at the empty land in total disbelief.
“The damn thieves stole my weed,” he cried out.
The others were speechless. Only a few days ago Talbot had been boasting that he would soon be ready to reap his field.
On Tuesday morning McCreed got Ardez’s call that Talbot’s marijuana field had been poached. Slowly he was being pushed into a fight, he thought. Somebody wanted to give him hell; well they would get more than they had bargained for. Fred Billings hadn’t yet gone to the office. He came into the living room where Mc Creed was.
“They reaped another of our fields,” he told him. He looked downcast.
“What the hell are you saying, another poaching? This is getting out of hand,” Fred declared.
He poured some orange juice into a glass, took a swallow and looked at Fred.
“We worked out a plan to trap them. If it succeeds that should take care of them.”
He explained the plan to Fred.
“It sounds good, but I’d like to see us capture their leaders and take them up there and really work them over.”
Mc Creed paused before replying.
“That’s what we plan to do.”
Fred stood up.
“I have to run as I’m late already. I’m just going to eat a sandwich,” he said, hurrying off into the kitchen.
“Tell Caslyn to make an omelet for me,” Gus shouted over his shoulder.
“I’ll do that.”
***
Danny King looked at the shapely figure of his wife. Betsy had kept her figure down the years. At fifty she could pass for a woman fifteen years her junior. He was glad for her, she had given him a challenge and he had lived up to it. After all it was now twenty six years since they were married and while he had a couple of extramarital affairs with a few women, he was sure she had never been unfaithful to her marriage vows. Now their marriage was facing a crisis and he was not sure he knew how to deal with it.
“Betsy, I didn’t hear what you were saying last night. Are you thinking of going to live in the States?”
“I’m planning to spend some time with the children. Danny, I’m going to stay with Gail until I’m ready to return home.”
Gail was the last of the their three children. The two boys were engineers. They came home to visit their parents regularly. It seemed surprising that King should be fighting to get a piece of the drug trade again. But his underlying ambition was to destroy McCreed.
“So how long do you intend to stay over there?”
“Danny, I don’t know why you have somebody like G. C
coming here. I just feel that you’re going to get yourself in trouble again. I just don’t want to be here when any police or gunmen come to look for you.”
“I’m running a legitimate business, and you know that too. G.C is one of my long time friends. If you don’t want him to come here I can always stop him.”
“Danny, ever since Lex was killed, I’ve been worrying about you. One of my friends told me that he had run away, leaving his house. Mary was running the business. Now that he’s dead, she’ll have to give back the people their clothes. She told me that she’s selling out the business and going away and I don’t blame her. Danny, are you not satisfied with what you have, what more do you want? My friend says she was surprised to hear that he was dead because she thought that he was in the States. I understand that Brad has also run away, leaving his house. I understand one of his employees is operating his business for him. Both of them were coming here nearly every day.”
“So they used to come here, but they used to go to lots of other places too. What else do you see me doing except running my business?”
“Okay,” she replied. “G.C isn’t just down here on vacation?”
“What G.C does is his business and I don’t want to hear anymore.”
Betsy stormed away to her room, crying.
Just then a car drove up to the gate and immediately his two Alsatians were beside it howling in fury. The gate lights were on. From the patio King could see the car, but couldn’t make out the driver. He went out to the gate cautiously.
It was Ruddy Brown; he got out of his car.
“King, what’s going on? I thought I would just come by you to see how you’re doing,” he said as he closed the car door. King had the dogs under control as they came through the gate, sniffing at the stranger.
“Come in, Ruddy, the dogs won’t trouble you. The bad ones are locked up.”
King waited until Ruddy went through the grill door and onto the patio before he let the dogs go.
“You want a drink, Ruddy?”
“Sure, give me a cold beer.”
King took some white wine and the two men sat on the patio.
“I like your ranch, King.”
“It took me a lot of years to build and lots of money too,” King replied as he switched on the patio lights.
Ruddy took a long drink of his beer. He had heard that King had a fabulous wife and he was hoping to meet her.
“I want to set up myself in Jamaica, settle down and start a family. Out here the people are natural. In America, they’re too
artificial. I’m not getting any younger, so I might just call it a day anytime now.”
“You can’t do that yet, Ruddy. We still want you to work on the Miami part of our operations.”
“Give me about two weeks or so and I’ll have all the contacts you’re going to need, so that’s no problem.”
“We still have the McCreed problem to deal with.”
“G.C told you that I got something to borrow. If I see any of those guys, who shot me, you know what I’m going to do. I have it in my pouch.”
He patted the pouch.
“Don’t worry yourself, we’re going to get rid of that son of a bitch sooner than you think.”
Ruddy acted as if he didn’t hear.
“King, I guess you know Ken Stone. I hear that he’s in Miami, issuing threats about what he’s going to do to me if we ever meet up, out here.”
“What’s the problem between both of you?”
“To cut a long story short, his parents used to help me out. You know how it is in Kingston sometimes. Well, that guy wants me to finance him and his parents. I give them money sometimes, but not him. Because of that, he’s saying that I am disrespecting him. Now he’s spreading all sorts of rumors about me.”
“You’d better watch yourself, because Ken won’t be afraid to draw his gun on you.”
“I want to tell him that I’m not afraid to draw my gun too, so anytime he’s ready, he can come.”
“So when are you returning?”
“I’m staying until next week with one of my girlfriends, but my money has run out. I’m looking a small loan, say about three hundred dollars. I don’t want her to feel that I don’t have any money.”
King whistled.
“That’s a lot of money, are you sure you can use it off before you leave?”
“I have a few things to buy before I go up plus I want to buy some things for my girlfriend.”
“You want a check or cash?”
“I’ll take cash because I don’t have a bank account out here so I might have problems changing a check.”
“I don’t have that kind of money on me now, but you can check me at my office in the morning.”
“Are you crazy? When I was coming here I had to stop a couple of times to make sure that nobody was trailing me. I don’t
trust Mc Creed. Are you sure that they aren’t watching your office?”
King considered for a moment.
“Come and check me here tomorrow for it then,” he told him.
“Yes, that’s cool,” Ruddy replied as Betsy King came to the doorway and couldn’t help noticing the neatly dressed man. She thought that he was in his mid thirties.
King rose.
“Ruddy, meet my wife, Betsy. This is Ruddy Brown, I’m sure you’ve heard about him.”
“How are you, Mrs. King?” Ruddy asked, standing up and shaking her hand.
“I’m fine.”
“So which group are you bringing down this Independence?” she asked.
Ruddy sat down again.
“I’m trying to get the Chentelles, so if I get them will I see both of you there?”
“Danny and I are at most of those, events though I have to drag him most times.”
“Is that true, King?”
“Lately, maybe, things aren’t what they were like in the old days.”
“Yeah, I can tell you about that,” Ruddy remarked
“Anyway, that’s how I like to see people enjoy themselves,” he continued.
“I’m going back inside to look on those kids,” Betsy said, referring to her two nieces, who were spending the week with her.
“Okay, Mrs. King, some other time,” Ruddy waved as Betsy returned inside.
“King, you’ve made it already. Why don’t you just take it easy?”
“What McCreed did to me will never let me rest in peace until I see him under six feet of earth. I just want to get even with him. Another man I must kill is Dickson Lunan. I blame him for everything that happened to me.”
Ruddy was nodding in acknowledgement of what the man had just said.
“I can understand your feelings. I’ll call you tomorrow before I come for the loan. I’m going now, say goodbye to your wife for me.”
King saw him to the gate.
All that G.C had said about Betsy was true. She must be in her early fifties he guessed, but she could pass for a much younger woman. He would come early tomorrow evening to pick up the money and do some serious flirting with her.

Chapter Fifteen

Ken Stone, Wally, Burke and Benny were having their second meeting upstairs Danville’s bar.
“Everything’s set up for the guys, I’ve told them that they must pay their fighters so that they can turn against their boss,” Burke declared.
“Those men are some jokers. I heard that that guy, Ruddy Brown, is their contact man in Miami. He doesn’t know anything about the business,” Ken stated.
“We’re not going into anything with them, Ken. Jack was telling me that Lex hired some guys to take out McCreed but some of them got taken out and Lex himself too,” Burke told them.
“That’s what I’ve been telling you, the bigger the man, the more you have to plan for his downfall. That’s why we have to use those two guys I’ve been telling you about,” Ken stated.
“Ruddy Brown is a guy, my family used to help when we lived in Kingston. I saw him in Miami pretending that he doesn’t know me. He doesn’t have any more money or girls than me. I’ve let it be known that if he knows what’s good for him, he’d better not let me meet up with him anywhere out here.
“I hear that he’s broke, he doesn’t have any money to promote any shows. They’ll soon seize his house and his car too. I know the girl, who he’s with out here. She’ll soon dump him when she finds out that he’s broke.”
Burke looked at them.
“He’s out here, though? Jack and Brad want to try something, but they’re waiting to see what McCreed’s up to.”
“You’d better get ready guys because things will soon start to fall in place. As I said before, we aren’t waiting on anybody,” he warned as a waitress appeared with snacks and drinks.
The men did some more talking while eating their snacks with Burke telling them that he had done some repairs to the old house in which some guns were stored.
The meeting ended at eleven o’clock that night with Ken going to sleep with a woman at Eight Miles. Burke returned home while Wally and Benny caught late flights home.
***
The Wareika gang was about to reap its first success in its attempts to catch the poachers. Premba’s group had accompanied a grower, Jacob White, to his field. They made a stealthy approach to the field and from their vantage point they could see that it was being reaped.
“The blasted thieves!” Premba exclaimed.
“Let’s kill them,” Jacob demanded, drawing his gun.
“The boss wants us to wait and find out the destination of the truck. This might give us a chance to find out who’s behind this whole set up,” Premba stated.
“But I’m going to lose my crop.”
“When we shot up those guys, who had beaten up Pinchie and Evert, we thought that it was just Lex alone. Now he’s dead and the poaching is still continuing. Right now we believe that there are some more men out there fighting against us and we have to find them and deal with them,” Premba explained.
Jacob was far from convinced.
“I can’t let those guys steal my weed like that, Premba. I have to do something about it. I can’t lose my weed like that. I will go stone broke after this. They are going to destroy all of my other crops.”
Bendoo tried to persuade Jacob.
“Jacob, this is the first lead we’ve got on the gang. They want to take over from the boss and bring in different people to grow the weed. All of the growers will be killed if we don’t wipe out these men.”
There was silence as Jacob lapsed into deep thought.
A strong gust of breeze hit the trees, making them sway.
“No smoking, I believe that they have a lookout so we’d better watch out,” Premba warned.
Shower and Chaser sat themselves down on a dried tree trunk. Bendoo, Premba and Jacob soon joined them.
“They must have hidden their car somewhere,” Bendoo observed. “We never saw it when we were coming in.”
“Don’t worry about their car; it’s the truck we’re interested in. When it comes and leaves with the weed we’ll follow and see where it goes. This might give us a chance to find out who’s behind this setup,” Premba explained.
“Bendoo,” he instructed. “Go and hide the car.”
He gave him the car keys whereupon the latter departed. Bendoo found a spot on a dirt track off the main road to park their car. He came out of the car, locked it up and lit a cigarette. He doused it, remembering Premba’s warning. Then he stood in the darkness and fingered the gun in his pocket.
He knew that if they followed the truck when it came, they might get a chance to break up the opposing syndicate. If they hadn’t gotten rid of the poached weed then their warehouse must be full. He would have to tell Wood about it for him to organize a raid. With that, he trudged back to where Premba and the others were.
“You saw anything suspicious?” Premba asked.
“No, I parked the car in a safe spot so that nobody can see it from the road.”
“Good,” Premba stated. “There are only four of them down there and they’re working very fast.”
“I bet that the truck will come in tonight and maybe pull out in the morning,” Shower speculated.
“I’m not so sure,” Premba replied. “They won’t risk transporting it by day, I feel that it’s tomorrow night they’ll be coming for it. That means that we have to watch all night.”
“Are you returning to your home or are you staying to watch with us?” Premba asked the bearded marijuana farmer.
“I’m staying, if it comes to a fight I’m in it.”
“That’s what I want to hear. Bendoo you, Shower and Chaser sleep until two o’clock, then you can take over from me and Jacob,” Premba instructed.
Bendoo slept his quota and then took over along with Shower and Chaser to watch. The poachers had ceased their activities and had gone to sleep; though it was possible they had taken turns watching and sleeping.
At six in the morning they came off their shift. Jacob departed for food and water. The poachers could be seen putting together a fire on which to cook their breakfast.
“These guys are well organized, this doesn’t look like a hit and run operation to me,” Bendoo remarked.
“We’ll soon find out,” Premba told them.
Hunger was beginning to gnaw at their stomachs when Jacob returned with a bucket of water, a basket of food and a large thermos. The men used the water to wash their hands and faces, then sat in the grove of trees and wolfed down the food.
By this time the poachers had also eaten and were again at the marijuana plants with their machetes. One man was now bagging the stuff.
In the grove of trees, Premba’s group was cut off from the poachers’ view by a range of hills. They couldn’t be outflanked because Chaser was higher up with a view of the road, the poachers as well as his colleagues. Jacob was positioned with a view of the poachers’ lookout and of Chaser. As they were working the men kept a grim silence.
By midday the poachers had finished reaping Jacob’s marijuana field. They then took a break to cook some more food. Jacob, his head hung low, departed for his home to get some more food, whereupon Bendoo took up his position.
After they had eaten, they re-took their positions to watch the poachers complete the bagging of their colleague’s weed. Having completed their tasks, the poachers went to sleep on the bags.
It wasn’t until after ten o’clock that the poachers began moving out the weed. In all there were twenty bags so each man would have to make five trips.
The truck didn’t arrive until twelve o’clock. From their vantage point the Wareikans observed the men packing the bags into the truck and covering them with a tarpaulin.
Two of the poachers went in search of their car while the other two went with the truck. When the truck drove off, the car was behind it. Premba’s men came out of hiding and made for their car. They were able to keep a safe distance as the truck took the main highway linking the North Coast to Kingston.
The truck and car arrived at a building on Collins Avenue. One of the truck workers got out and opened the gate for it to be reversed inside.
Premba had gotten the lead he wanted and Ardez was briefed early that morning. He detailed a twenty four-hour surveillance of the building.
By Thursday they were able to rent an adjoining building for the purposes of a warehouse. The patrols would now move from the country to Collins Avenue.
Premba’s group was again the first to taste success. They were on the six o’clock to two o’clock shift when a car drove up to the gate and stopped. Two men got out, opened the gate and went inside the premises. Bendoo wasn’t with the group this time, which included Premba, Dally and Shower.
As the two men went inside, a young man came out of the house scowling. He talked to the visitors for a few seconds before they went inside the building.
Premba put down the binoculars.
“I recognize both of those men.”
“That short guy’s Brad Elliot and the tall one is Ruddy Brown. He’s a playboy, has women all over the Caribbean.”
The guard’s manner never changed, he was still scowling and looking around.
“Hey, isn’t that Churchill?” Shower asked of the guard he was looking at through the binoculars.
Premba took the instrument from him.
“It’s him all right,” Premba said, returning the binoculars to Shower just as Churchill went inside, closing the door behind him.
“Hey, he’s working for them, wonder if Errol is down there too,” Premba said, pointing the gun in the man’s direction.
“I have to obey the boss’ orders, that’s why I didn’t shoot him.”
They had been at a dance when Churchill and some more of Aston Lecky’s gunmen had suddenly showed up, guns blazing. In the ensuing shootout Premba had received a slight wound, but Delgo, a member of their gang, had been killed. Premba had shot at Churchill, but missed as they disappeared on their motorcycles.
“The boss will be interested to know that Ruddy Brown is back on the island and Mister Brad is mixed up in stealing our weed too,” Premba said.
“Lecky’s dead, I wonder who Churchill is working for these days,” he declared.
“What do we do now?” Shower asked.
“We wait until they come out and then follow them. They might lead us to the rest of their syndicate,” Premba replied.
Unaware of being under surveillance the two men went about their business.
“We hardly have space here for more, Brad,” Ruddy remarked.
“Last week’s raid was the last we plan until we get the new warehouse on Jackson Road.”
They were examining the dryers, which heated up the storeroom to dry the plants.
“I heard that you guys are recruiting some more fighters,” Ruddy remarked.
“We have to do that in case we get into a war with McCreed,” Brad replied.
Ruddy nodded in acknowledgement.
“King isn’t serious, if we don’t attack McCreed he’s going to think that we’re soft,” he added.
“That’s what we plan to do once we sell some of the weed and get some money,” Brad stated. They had just finished inspecting the major storeroom. Ruddy stuffed some of the marijuana in a paper bag he was carrying.
“Time we leave,” Brad said. “I have to take my wife to the doctor about two o’clock today.”
Churchill closed the door behind them and they went to Brad’s car and drove away. Premba came down and started their car, the others piling in.
They followed the car now being driven by Brad to Constant Spring Road where Ruddy got out. Dally was let out to locate his apartment.
They caught up with Brad at the stoplight at the corner of Waterworks Road and Constant Spring Road. Then they trailed him to where he was staying in Port Maria.
***
Gus McCreed got the call that the organization was about to be exposed. He immediately called for a conference of his lieutenants in the back room of Mac’s bar and restaurant in Cross Roads. The owner, John McKenzie, had known Gus for years and could do with the income from these informal gatherings. The meeting started at seven o’clock and Bendoo went along with the other commanders.
“That was some good work you did, Premba. Now that we found them, it’s just a matter of time before we wipe them out,” McCreed stated. He and Fred had already congratulated Bendoo for the fine job he was doing.
“We saw one of that fucker, Lecky, boys down there,” Premba told them.
“We wiped Lecky of the map, didn’t we?” Mc Creed boasted.
“We know that at least two of them are involved, boss. The place on Collins Avenue is where they store the weed. Once we wipe out those guys, we can always reclaim it,” Ardez declared.
“Are those guys guarded?” Fred asked.
“I didn’t see anybody with them and the place seems almost deserted except for one guard, who appears to sleep on the premises,” Premba replied.
“I gave Ruddy a chance to run away to the States and now he’s returned to fight against me. Well, I’m not giving anybody a second chance. As for Brad Elliot, he should have been dead a long time ago.”
Bendoo digested every word the big, bald head giant was saying. He didn’t try to look Fred Billings in the eyes, fearing that the man might recognize him from their chance encounter up in Stony Hill. He hoped that his large beard and his knotty hair would help disguise him.
“I want those two put under twenty-four hour surveillance. Until they lead us to the rest of the syndicate, they’re safe, but once we find out where the rest of them are, we’re going to wipe out all of them.”
“There are two men I’m suspicious about. Both of them are friends of Ruddy Brown and Brad Elliot.”
“Who are they, boss?” Ardez asked.
“Jack Marriot and G.C. Cox.”
“I can’t believe that G.C came back to Jamaica without us knowing. We’ll check up on both of them and see if they are involved,”Ardez stated.
Fred looked at his watch.
“It’s eight o’clock; I have to drop off something at Johanna’s apartment. I’ll be seeing you guys.”
“I don’t think I have anything more to say. Say hello to Johanna for me, Fred,” Gus said as Fred Billings departed.
“Ardez, you put our plans into action and let me know the results.”
He and the other commanders walked out of the room to their cars.
***
Ruddy had driven Donnette’s car down to the nearby petrol service station on Constant Spring Road to buy some petrol and fill her car tires. He finished and was driving into a side road to get back on to Constant Spring Road. As he looked out of the car he saw a man two inches or so taller than him, standing beside a rental car, it was Ken. He drove and parked on the sidewalk and got out of the car.
As he came out of the car he heard Ken say.
“Hey, Ruddy Brown, I hear that you’re up in Miami calling up my name. You said that I want you to buy me liquor and give my parents money.”
Ruddy’s gun was in his pocket. Ken had his gun in his waist.
“I hear that you’re out here saying what you’re going to do to me when we meet.”
“Did I ever beg you anything yet? How come you’re spreading rumors about me? Saying that I don’t have anything and how I am mashed up.”
“So you aren’t up there spreading rumors about me too?”
“You’re a liar,” Ken shouted and chucked Ruddy, who chucked him back.
The two men were backing away from each other in an attempt to go for their guns. Some drivers, who had parked and were watching the fracas rushed up when they realized what was about to happen. They got between the two men as Ken shouted.
“I’ve been wanting to do you something for some time.”
But he realized that he would have hit one of those innocent bystanders.
The gas station proprietor realizing the danger of a gunfight so close to his gas station shouted at them.
“We don’t want any gunfights here.”
He rushed inside to call the police.
Meanwhile the two combatants, realizing that the fight was over, returned to their respective car.
“I’ll catch you again, Ruddy. You think you got away? You’re just lucky,” Ken shouted and drove off.
“You can go on talking, I’m sorry these people had to part us,” Ruddy yelled defiantly after him as he too drove off.

Chapter Sixteen

Ruddy took a sip of the whiskey and relaxed at his table, the incident with Ken earlier today completely forgotten. He knew, however, that the next time they met out here, they would be shooting it out, so he had better go armed from now on. For a Friday night the Outer Edge wasn’t as crowded as he had known it to be in former years. Nevertheless, he still rated it as the number one nightclub on Red Hills Road. Donnette was in the bathroom freshening up her make-up.
In the late afternoon he and Betsy King had lunch at the Blue Seasons restaurant on Melmac Avenue in Cross Roads. She told him that this was the first time she was dating another man besides her husband. She also told him that her secret in looking so young and sexy was lots of exercise plus she ate no red meat and slept a lot. She told him of her intention to leave King and join her daughter in Cayman. He told her that he was due to visit there in another six weeks or so. She had given him her daughter’s address and telephone number.
He looked at the door to see a stunningly beautiful girl on a man’s arm just floating through the doorway. He recognized the man as Fred Billings, the woman was Johanna McFarlane. She had won some beauty contest, but he wasn’t sure what it was or the year.
Rumor had it that it was another beauty queen Fred had gotten into that fight over. Then a big bald head man came through the door with a woman. Gus McCreed! What would he give to put a bullet into that fucker’s heart, he thought? McCreed and the woman came and sat down at the table with Fred and his girlfriend. Several persons whom he assumed to be foreigners, were also in the crowd that was now simply pouring into the Outer Edge. A girl was coming towards his table; it was Marie Deslandes.
She had on a pair of white shorts and matching white blouse. He couldn’t help but admire her beautiful legs, round hips and firm breasts.
“Ruddy, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you. When did you come out?”
“Marie, what’s going on? I’ve wanted to call you, but it seems I lost your number,” he said, standing up and seating her.
“Are you alone? One of my friends is looking for a date.”
“I’m here with Donnette, but give me your number again and I’ll give you a call before I leave the island. Give me your friend’s number too.”
The voluptuous girl took out a piece of paper, wrote down the numbers and gave them to him.
“I have to go now, my boyfriend must be wondering what happened to me.”
She got up and walked away.
He took some more sips of the whisky, then he spied Donnette coming towards their table. He noticed several men turning to gawk at her and smiled at his luck.
She was dressed in a pair of blue shorts and had on a body hugging blue blouse.
“What took you so long, Donnette?”
“I met two of my girlfriends and we stopped to have a chat.”
“I ordered the drinks already.”
She pushed up her chair and picked up the Canei drink. She took a few sips and took the cigarette, her man offered her.
“Who was that girl I saw you talking to?”
“It’s a girl, I know from the country. She just stopped to say hello.”
“Oh,” she interjected as reggae music began to blast out. Both of them left their table to join other couples on the dance floor.
When they were finished and returned to their table, she looked at him in a concerned way.
“Ruddy, do you know that bald head man over there? He keeps looking over here.”
“That guy over there,” he replied and peered in the direction she mentioned. It was Gus McCreed.
“I don’t know him, maybe it’s you he’s looking at.”
She didn’t reply, but took another sip of her drink.
“Ruddy, you haven’t told me about your plans. We can’t go on like this. I’m twenty-six and you’re twenty-nine. It’s time we start thinking seriously about the future. I’ve met lots of men, who would gladly make me their wife, but I have to turn them down because of you.”
He took a sip of his drink.
“You know I want to make some good money so that we can live comfortably. We don’t have to rush things, baby.”
“I’m not rushing anything but I can’t bother with this long distance relationship. If I don’t call you, you won’t call me.”
“But I’ve already shown you how things are, most of the times I’m on the road. Don’t worry, baby, everything will soon be all right.”
“Every night I miss you, Ruddy. I have to think that you have so many women over there that’s why you don’t want to call me.”
“It seems as if I have to come out here more often.”
“One of these times you’re going to come and find that I’ve gotten married.”
“Sweetie pie, I know that you don’t mean that. I’m sure that you don’t want me to go crazy.”
“Don’t sweetie pie me up. I’m very serious, before you go back, you and I have to come to some understanding. As I told you already, the next time you come out you’re going to have to find a another girlfriend.”
“Anything you want, baby. You know that I’m willing to give you.”
Just then a calypso started playing and both of them joined other couples on the dance floor. They danced two more songs before returning to their table. They were there having drinks when Fred came over and sat down.
“Ruddy, what’s going on? I thought you were still in the States, I’m really glad to see you.”
“I just came out for a little holiday.”
“So what’s happening? Aren’t you going to introduce me to your fianceé’?”
“Sure, Donnette, meet Fred Billings.”
Both of them shook hands as Ruddy finished the introductions.
“You remember Gus McCreed? He’s over there. He wants to talk about what happened to you the last time. We don’t know who could have wanted to do that to you.”
Ruddy looked at him and then over at the big bald head giant and realized the mistake he had made. From the moment he saw McCreed enter the nightclub he should have left.
“What are you saying? You don’t know anything about it? You don’t know who shot me? I don’t have anything to say to Gus McCreed except to use my gun on him.”
“What? Are you threatening us? You want to bet that you don’t leave here tonight,” Fred in turn threatened. He got up and walked away.
She was staring at him.
“Who is he, Ruddy? Why was he threatening you? What do they want with you?”
“I don’t know, they have some artists they want me to promote but I told them that I’m not interested. They still want me to, but they can’t force me.”
“The bald head man is still looking over here.”
“Let’s leave, this could lead to bigger things and I don’t want you to get hurt.”
He called the waiter and settled the bill. Then they got up and left the club.
***
Donnette lay in bed beside a snoring Ruddy. She wanted to know what was going on in his life. He was shot last year supposedly by gunmen or so he claimed.
Was he involved in drugs? She had better find out fast, those two men at the Outer Edge didn’t look like the type of men to mess around with. She would try to get Ken’s number and give him a call. If she called one of Ruddy’s friends he would just gloss it over; it would be better to hear from one of his enemies. She had been meaning to kick him out of her apartment for some time now and throw his things out after him. If she found out he was involved in drugs she wouldn’t let him spend a minute more under her roof.
***
Ruddy lay in Donnette’s bed in her upscale apartment. It was a Saturday morning and she had gone to classes. She told him she would be stopping by the supermarket to get some groceries for her mother and to bring home, so he didn’t expect her back until early evening. He noticed how withdrawn she was in bed last night. She hardly mentioned anything about what had taken place at the nightclub. They didn’t make love that night for the first time in many nights. Then just as she drove out, the telephone rang. It was Marie Deslandes. During their conversation she told him that she had to be helping out, running her boss’ business as he had to be hiding from gunmen. Although he had memories of their past liaisons he decided against asking her over. He thought of other women he could check, but would have to be careful as Donnette seemed to be watching him by her constant calls to the apartment. Right now he needed a bath so he doused his cigarette in the ashtray, stood up, went and took his bath and put on a sweat suit. He would take a taxi down to the Mall, look around and probably grab a bite. He heard the doorbell ring and wondered who it could be. He went and opened the door and saw two men.
“Are you Ruddy Brown?” one of the men asked. Before he could answer the man had pulled a gun on him!
Desperately, he tried to close the door. The other man kicked him in his knee and as he fell they pushed open the door.
“We never knew that you were here, Ruddy,” Premba told him, pushing himself inside. The other man followed and slammed the door behind him. He had never seen these men before.
“Who the hell are you?”
His own gun was hidden away in a drawer. Could they be McCreed’s gunmen or had King found out about his wife and was seeking revenge?
“Hey, guy, you’d better pack your bags and come with us,” Premba ordered.
“You’d better get out of here, I’m not going anywhere with you.”
Premba looked at Lance, who sprang into action at once. He held a long switch blade knife at the man’s throat.
“If you move I’ll cut your throat,” he warned.
Ruddy saw the futility of struggling. He would stand no chance against these heavily armed men.
“Who sent you?”
“Just pack your bags and don’t ask us any more questions,” Premba warned.
“Start packing,” Lance ordered, the knife still at the playboy’s throat.
Both men accompanied their captive into his bedroom where he began to pack his bags.
The two gunmen had obviously been watching his movements, he thought. He was glad that Donnette wouldn’t be home before five o’clock.
If he could only get his gun he would show these two amateurs something.
Lance and Premba were gazing out of the window when Ruddy’s hands closed around the butt of the gun. His fingers caressed the trigger. Slowly he drew it out of the drawer and without aiming, fired at Premba. The bullet tore through his shirt sleeves; startled he dropped his gun. Lance, who was out of the line of fire, reacted instantly by flinging the opened switch blade knife which embedded itself in the shoulder of Ruddy’s gun arm before he could fire again. The playboy cried out and dropped the gun. Premba dived for it, spun around and fired from the floor, hitting him in his right side and he fell to the floor.
“Idiot, trying to shoot us,” Premba swore, looking down at the wounded man.
“He’s not dead, you should let me stab him up some more,” Lance argued. He took two steps, bent over and jerked the knife out of the man’s shoulder.
“He got the bullet in his side,” Premba replied.
“Hey, guy, I should kill you. If you tell the police that it was us, who shoot you, you won’t live to come out of the hospital. I don’t know how you are so lucky,” he said, realizing that they had done a careless job on their victim.
“We have to move, Lance. People might have heard the gunshots and called the police.”
“We’re going after his friend, G.C next,” he told Lance.
***
Ken was at his woman’s house in Linstead that Saturday afternoon. Patsy had gone to the market in the rental car along with Roger, their four-year-old son. He was sitting on the porch smoking a cigarette and observing vehicles going up and down the busy streets when the telephone rang. He went inside to answer it. It was Donnette.
“How did you get my number?”
“A little bird gave me.”
“So what’s going on? It’s a long time since I’ve seen you or Ruddy. Is everything all right?”
She answered him in the affirmative.
“Ken, I want to ask you about some people. You know Fred Billings or Gus McCreed?”
“Those men are big time gangsters, they run drugs out here. If you want to live don’t mess with those people. Is Ruddy in trouble with them?”
“We were at a nightclub and they were threatening him.”
“You know that we aren’t friends. I’m warning him that if he wants to live, he’d better stop fooling around with those guys.”
“Did you know that they shot him in Ocho Rios last year?”
“I heard that it was some gunmen, who were trying to rob him. There’s a lot more things I have to tell you.”
There was a pause.
“Ken, hold on, don’t hang up yet, I’ll soon be back.”
He heard when she put down the phone.
There was a lot of talking in the background. He went to get a stout out of the refrigerator when she came back on the line. She was crying and sounded hysterical.
“They’ve shot Ruddy.”
“Is he dead?”
“I don’t know, I have to leave now to go to the hospital. I’ll call you later.”
What the hell, he thought. Well, at least they couldn’t say that it was he who had done it.
***
G.C was worried, it was nearly nine-thirty and Ruddy should have called him for them to go down to the Double-Six bar at the top of Hagley Park Road, for a few drinks.
He had gone down to the bar, but there was no sign of the man. He decided to go down to his apartment to check on him. He came down to his car, opened the door and got in and was turning on the ignition when something hard jammed him in the back.
“Make one sound and you are dead. See that car over there you just follow it,” Lance ordered.
“Who the hell are you and how the hell did you get into my car?”
The gun dug deeper into his back, he heard a click and his body tensed.
“I can drop you right here, you want it here? You’d better drive; somebody wants to talk to you.”
G.C knew the futility of attempting anything there and then, and he didn’t even have his gun on him. He started the car and drove off. Who the hell were these men working for? Had King double-crossed him or was McCreed on to him? At least that could account for Ruddy’s no-show. The weak heart fool had tripped himself up and had probably fingered the whole organization.
***
King, Jack and Brad were about to spend their first night at the warehouse and none of them was showing any liking for it. They had arrived there in a car that the latter man had rented for the week.
Brad had hastily carted off his wife and their three kids to stay with his mother.
“My wife must be wondering where I am and worrying over me.”
“You can say that again, my woman must be wondering if I am at some other woman’s home,” Jack stated.
King reflected that Betsy had left for the Cayman Islands yesterday. He wasn’t sure when she would return.
“You still have a choice guys, you can walk out of here now, but don’t expect any of these guys to follow you.”
“Go to hell, King. Lex was right about you, you don’t have what it takes to be a leader. I don’t know why I ever listened to you. You’re still afraid of McCreed. It’s because of you why G.C and Ruddy both got shot and are in hospital,” Jack said bitterly.
King saw red.
“What are you dealing with, Jack? Are you blaming me for what happen to those two men?”
“The syndicate is finished, King. Brad and I are bringing in Gaskell Burke and some other men. They say they don’t want to work with you.”
“What is he talking about, Brad? Wonder if I am hearing right? The two of you are turning against me?”
“You’re blasted right. If it wasn’t for me, all of us would be dead already. Marie Deslandes, who works for me, phoned to tell me that she had met Ruddy. I was sleeping with her, well, I pressed her and she told me that he was at the Outer Edge on Friday night,” Brad stated.
“I called to tell him to leave her alone. When I didn’t get any answer, I went down to his apartment, forced myself inside and found him on the floor. He was shot in his side and he had lost a lot of blood. I called the police and an ambulance, then I ran out and called both of you.”
“So what happened to G.C?”
“He was shot and pushed out of a car. A passing motorist took him to the hospital. I think it was after they shot Ruddy that they went after him,” Brad replied.
“Are you hiding anything from me?” King asked.
“We aren’t hiding anything from you. We want to make sure that you go and join Betsy and your daughter,” Brad told him.
Just then there was a knock on the door. Brad went and opened it to reveal Dickson Lunan!
Lunan’s arrival shocked King into action.
“So that’s how it goes, you damn traitors,” he shouted reaching for the gun in his pocket and shouting for his men to help him.
“What the hell is Dickson Lunan doing here? I swear to God that I’m going to kill him.”
King whipped out his gun and fired at Dickson. The bullet flew past the man’s right ear, but before he could fire again, Jack sprang on him and wrestled him to the floor. Before he could wrestle the gun from him,
he fired again kicking up dust at Dickson’s feet. Dickson threw himself on the floor and grabbed the gun away from King.
Brad had in the meantime drawn his gun, but didn’t fire for fear of hitting Jack and now Dickson.
The men came running onto the scene, but no one made any attempt to help their boss.
“You guys take care of these three idiots for me,” he shouted desperately.
Jack stood up, brushing off his clothes, he motioned to the men and two of them came forward to grab King. They then produced rope to tie his hands before setting him in a chair to face his captors.
“We’re dead serious, King. McCreed knows that you’re no match for him. Look how many of our friends have either gotten killed or seriously injured because of your failure to stand up to him. We just can’t let you run the syndicate any longer,” Jack stated.
“Wasn’t it all of us running it? So how come you’re blaming me alone? It’s a trap they set for Ruddy and G.C, it’s not my fault. I told them to watch what they were doing. It’s they who are to blame, not me. Burke and Ken want to join us. Ken has a lot of contacts in the States and he’s better than Ruddy.”
But his words fell on deaf ears.
“Those men don’t want anything to do with you. We and them are going into partnership,” Jack replied.
King chuckled at this.
“The two of you are going into a partnership with Gaskell and you’ve brought in Dickson. It’s a death sentence both of you are looking. If it wasn’t for me, both of you would be dead a long time ago. So cut out the damn foolishness and take these ropes off me.”
Brad looked at him.
“Move from here, King, a car is around the back. We are going to give you your papers. They are made up already and your ticket is bought too. A flight is leaving here at ten o’clock tonight, so that should give you enough time to return home and pick up your things. When you reach the airport, just park the car and we will send one of our men for it. This is your last chance and you’d better take it or else we are going to hand you over to McCreed’s men.”
“You can’t do this to me, this is still my organization.”
“Cut the ropes men, he’s leaving here now because he isn’t worth living,” Jack stated.
The ropes binding him were pulled and he began to flex his muscles.
“Give him back his gun, Jack, and let me and him shoot it out. I’ve heard it in Miami, New York and several other places, how I betrayed him and let Mc Creed beat him.”
“Yes, you two fucking traitors, give me back my gun and let me face this other traitor.”
Both Brad and Jack shook their heads. They weren’t going to trust Danny King with a loaded gun.
“Give him a gun and he would turn it on us,” Jack opined.
He threw the car keys plus a stuffed envelope at him.
King bent and picked them up. He tore open the envelope and took out its contents, which included an airline ticket to the Cayman Islands.
“Just go home and pack your bags and leave. Down here will soon become too hot for you,” Brad told him.
“Go and join Betsy and your children,” Jack warned.
“How do I know that the car isn’t booby trapped or you don’t have men on the road waiting to kill me?”
“You can believe anything you want, King. But you’d better take this chance we are giving you, because Gaskell wants us to kill you,” Brad snapped.
King looked at his former colleagues, at the fighters he had recruited; their faces were expressionless. Slowly he got up and moved towards the door.
“You dirty traitors; you won’t live long without me. Gus McCreed will wipe out all of you.”
“And just remember that weed is mine. I’ll kill all three of you before I let you claim it.”
“It belongs to the three of us, King. I know that you got the money for the weed you sold. You’ll get your share when we sell what’s there and deduct our share of that first shipment,” Brad told him.
“I haven’t gotten the money from those guys yet. And in any case the bulk of the money was to pay the poachers, rent for the warehouse plus other costs.”
Jack aimed his gun at the man’s chest.
“Get out of here, before I get any angrier.”
Around the back of the yard King found the Dodge Avenger. He opened the door and got in. He switched on the engine and revved it up before reversing out of the driveway, one of the guards opening the gate for him. He was sure that Brad, Jack and Dickson would be inside watching him. He decided to drive down Warrenton Avenue and on to Retirement Crescent. He had to reach his home to pick up some things before he left, but if those three guys and Gus McCreed thought they were seeing the last of him, they were making the biggest mistake of their lives. He just wanted to get in touch with Gaskell.
Shower saw the Dodge Avenger pass and recognized Danny King in it.
He lowered his binoculars.
“That’s Mister King, who just passed in that Dodge Avenger,” he shouted to Niah and Gungoo who were on duty with him.
“Let’s go after him and capture him, the boss will be pleased,” Gungoo told them.
Shower went for the Ford Escort and Niah and Gungoo got in with their guns in shopping bags. He drove off in pursuit of King’s car.
***
“Hear their car take off, they’ve taken the bait,” an excited Brad Elliot shouted over the wall to the four men in the Triumph, parked down the avenue.
“It’s your turn now boys, you’d better make it good. After this McCreed will know that we mean business,” Jack stated.
The Triumph roared up the avenue and went in search of Shower’s car.
Shower caught up with King’s car just as the stoplight was still showing green.
King pulled away and didn’t see the other car which was five vehicles behind him. He spun the car around and went down Retirement Road.
Shower was caught in the slow moving traffic as the red light came on.
“We’ll never catch him again,” Niah said.
“That Triumph car is following us,” Gungoo told them.
They turned into Union Square to try and lose the Triumph.
The men in the Triumph turned into Union Square and followed Shower out onto the plaza firing at his car. It was then that he realized that it was a trap. He grabbed frantically at the radio, but it was dead.
“It’s a trap!” Gungoo shouted as Shower turned the car and roared up Old Hope Road with the Triumph hot on their heels and the fighters pouring lead into their car. Niah and Gungo were returning the fire. One of Shower’s car tires burst and he swerved violently to avoid hitting an oncoming truck. He kept pressing the gas pedal; they had to escape.
The men in the Triumph now stepped up their shooting and Niah was shot in the head. Shower was shot in both shoulders and Gungoo in the leg. The out of control car hit a wall and then a light post. Shower and Gungo managed to crawl out of the car. Two of the men in the Triumph had been hit, but their car spun on to Oxford Road and roared away; intending to put enough distance between them and the accident scene. They were on to Half Way Tree Road before firemen and policemen reached the accident scene.
***
Ardez sat in his house smoking marijuana. The boss had given him no time to think. Instead, he had bellowed out his orders. Shower, Niah and Gungoo hadn’t followed instructions. Niah was dead while the other two were in hospital.
He had given strict instructions to the men, who went to watch the warehouse that they should report all suspicious movements to him and await further instructions. He had scheduled a meeting at the Factory for seven o’clock. Thanks to Shower, Niah and Gungoo, the fugitives had escaped with the weed.
When Premba, Grosset, Lance and Bendoo arrived at the warehouse in response to Shower’s call to the Factory for help, it was empty. The marijuana was gone as well as Brad, Jack and their gang.
It seemed that Jack and Brad were forming a syndicate. Now they would have to start all over in trying to find the two men and their gang. Two guys like them wouldn’t last long before they paid the ultimate penalty of opposing Gus Mc Creed.
As Niah had no form of identification on him and the car was stolen, he doubted whether the police would be able to identify him. He knew that the two wounded men would not talk.
Personally, he thought yesterday was one of the worst days operationally for the gang. The whole camp was in low spirits at the loss of Niah and the wounding of Shower and Gungoo. He thought he had better go for a walk.
***
Bendoo lay in his hammock enjoying the cool air of the mountains.
Delbert had a lot of questions to answer. He had told him about the warehouse, so why was it not put under twenty-four-hour surveillance? Why had they allowed Brad and Jack and their gang to escape with the marijuana? He felt sorry for Niah and the two wounded men. He’d been told that any man who was killed in action usually had his family taken care of. Niah had loved his woman and four kids, the eldest of whom was nine years of age. They thought he was in the country working when they didn’t see him, but he had supported them very well. He had often taken him to visit them on his motorcycle. He wondered about his woman, Cherry. How would she ever know that he was dead? Shower had told him that he was from Aenon Town in Clarendon and had a woman in Dalvey, St. Thomas. Gungoo, he knew was from Top Mountain in St. Elizabeth. He had told him that he had a woman and a little girl in August Town near Papine but he had never met them.
He couldn’t class the three men as gunmen as they were mostly around the camp and he had never seen them going on any raids. Sometimes late at nights he and the three men would be talking and partaking from the marijuana pipe, that Shower had built.
“Bendoo, I started smoking weed since I was just a youth. It was Mister Jimmy, who introduced it to me. I’m sure you remember him,” Niah lectured him.
Bendoo nodded, still trying to clear his head from having partaken in their latest drug smoking.
“You see this herb, Bendoo, it is a wisdom plant. Since I started smoking it, I’ve gotten wiser. That’s why they outlawed it. They don’t want us to get wise,” Niah continued.
“That’s true, they don’t want us to get wise. They just want us to continue killing off each other,” Shower stated.
Gungoo, the most sedate of the three, replied.
“Herb never did anything to me and I’ve been smoking it since I was a little boy.”
“Right now any University you go, you see professors lighting up their pipes. Herb must be smoked, but through this wicked system, they beat it down. They don’t want to see us smoke herb, because they want to keep us in submission. Every time we smoke herb and rebel against the system they shoot us down,” Niah declared.
Bendoo had been feeling too sleepy to reply, but he heard Shower and Gungoo replying as the three of them continued their condemnation of the system.
They had also gone to dances all over the island along with some of the other gang members. He was fearful of policemen raiding these dances. At some of these dances there were sound clashes and some top deejays also performed. Now that Niah was gone, he felt a bit easier but he was still in the dark about the Brad Elliot and Jack Marriot’s organization. It was early and he felt like taking a walk down to Premba’s shack. So far he had heard that Raider’s woman, Yasmin, was still staying with Rattigan and Camilla. He also understood that Premba’s woman, Bridget, had threatened to kill both him and the girl if she found out that they were lovers.

Chapter Seventeen

Gaskell Burke and the other members of his syndicate were awaiting the arrival of Brad Elliot and Jack Marriot.
They were therefore surprised to see Dickson Lunan.
“What the hell are you doing here, Dickson?” Burke asked.
Dickson saw that both Burke and Ken Stone had drawn their guns.
“It seems that you had a hot reception awaiting my two friends.”
“Nothing like that. It’s just that we are surprised to see you here. What happened to Brad and Jack?” Burke asked.
“I’m surprised that you haven’t asked me how I knew where to find you guys,” Dickson told them.
“You still haven’t told us about Brad and Jack,” Ken stated.
“I’ve partnered with them. I was driving behind them when the police stopped their car. The last I saw was that they were in handcuffs. It means that the they arrested them, but I don’t know the reason.”
“It could be for what happened on Old Hope Road,” Ken stated.
“Well, King escaped, but I heard that they held him at the airport,” Dickson told them.
“So you’ve come to join us, Dickson. I think they are going to hold those two guys for murder. We can’t wait for them.”
“So tell me about your plans, Burke,” the man requested.
“We’re bringing down two top notch fighters from the States on a three week contract. These two men are war veterans, they’ve fought all over the world.”

“They’re going to train the recruits. We’re paying each of them twenty five thousand dollars. It’s a lot of money, but when I read their resume, I feel they’re worth it,” Burke further explained.
Dickson shook his head.
“That’s a lot of money, I hope they’re worth it. Are you sure you can make enough money off this deal to pay yourselves and them too?”
“Those men don’t work for small money. You have to pay them if you want them to work for you. They were charging fifty thousand dollars, but I managed to get them to cut it down,” Ken replied.
He looked at Burke, who nodded in agreement and looked at his watch before surveying the room.
“I heard that Ruddy got shot and is in hospital,” Burke said.
“It’s McCreed’s gunmen, who shot him, it appears as if G.C is also in hospital too. He was shot and thrown out of a car. Lucky for him a passing motorist saw what happened and rushed him to hospital,” Dickson told them.
His listeners soaked up the information he was providing them.
“Ken did a good job and he has more contacts than Ruddy. I want you all to know that we’re sharing equally. This means that every man will get an equal cut out of the cake. Anybody, who has any objections, can raise them now,” Burke declared.
“I still feel that Brad and Jack should split half between them, Burke. You just remember that the weed belongs to them,” Dickson stated.
“What’ll they be doing to deserve so much out of this deal?” Wally asked.
“That’s what they agreed to. If it wasn’t for them, none of you would be here. Are you trying to double cross them, Burke and steal their weed?”
“Are you calling me a double crosser and a thief, Dickson? I might have told them so at first, but now things have changed. These men will be doing most of the work so I don’t see why you’re objecting if I say I’m going to cut them in. As for the weed, if it wasn’t for us they would have lost it,” Burke replied.
“I hope you accept what Burke just said. I think you are unreasonable to just want Brad and Jack to sit back and each pick up a quarter of the money while we get a half of that,” Benny stated.
“Those men have no idea what we’re up against, operating in the States. They don’t have that kind of problem out here,” Ken put in.
“I don’t care what you say, but you just can’t come in and take over like that. It was they who set up everything so they should get something for that,”Dickson opined.
The gun that appeared in Burke’s hand took them completely by surprise.
Dickson hands shot up in the air.
“You’re the boss, Burke. I will go ahead with what you’ve said. Remember, I’m just a messenger. I’ll pass your message to Brad and Jack.”
Running footsteps, shouting and knocking on the door could be heard.
“What’s going on Mister Burke? We heard loud talking,” Churchill shouted as Burke let him and three other men into the room.
“I had to draw my gun on this guy, but everything is okay now.”
“Okay, boss, we are around, if you need us, just shout,” Churchill said as he and the others marched out of the room.
“Anybody else who has anything to say might as well say it now.”
When no one volunteered, he continued.
“I’m going to the warehouse. You guys have to come with me.”
“I’m going as Brad and Jack’s representative,” Dickson told them.
“Why does Brad and Jack need a representative?” Ken asked.
Dickson chuckled.
“Listen, Burke, you little guys are nothing to the type of guys I used to run with when I operated out here.”
“But Danny King said that you betrayed him,” Burke told him.
“I pulled out because he was no match for Mc Creed. I see you have some of his best men.”
“He shot at me twice down there. Lucky for me he missed, I even challenged him to a gunfight.”
“Why did you return to Jamaica, Dickson?” Burke asked.
“What the hell do you want to know that for?”
“Okay, I came back because Jack and Brad invited me.”
“Were you going to revive your syndicate?”
“I was just going to help them streamline operations. They thought that King wasn’t moving fast enough.”
Burke doubted what Dickson told him, he nodded.
“Are you joining us?” he asked.
“I’m only protecting Jack and Brad’s interest.”
Burke pointed the gun at him again.
Dickson laughed.
“Listen, Burke, I’m not that simple. Brad and Jack were fools to give you a copy of the keys to their warehouse. I don’t know why they thought they could trust you. You should know my brother, Weston Garth. He knows that I’m here.”
Ken looked at Burke as did Wally and Benny.
Burke lowered his gun. Weston Garth operated out of Waltham Park Road and he was head of the Practical Crew. They controlled most of the area and surrounding communities.
***
Gus McCreed sat at the head of the table in the boardroom at the Factory where he often held meetings with his lieutenants. Around the table sat Grosset, Premba, Ardez and Rattigan. Mc Creed had just doused his cigarette into the ashtray. The atmosphere was tense. The time was seven o’clock in the evening.
“Two simple guys like Brad Elliot and Jack Marriot could never do something like that. It must have been somebody else.”
“I still believe that it’s only Brad and Jack, who are left though,” Ardez opined.
“Those two must be out in the country somewhere. Seems to me that the stuff was moved before Premba and the others got there,” Rattigan remarked.
“Our fighters walked into a trap, but what’s done is done. We have to recruit some more men to replace the man who was killed and the men who were wounded.”
“I heard that some men have escaped from the Remand Center. Men like Mallards, Decker and Troja,” Premba stated.
“I know those three, they’re real bad men, we have to get them to join us,” Ardez told them.
“You let them know that we pay good money. As I said we don’t want any idiots, its pure wicked men we want.”
“We’re going to post guards up at my house. Anybody who has taken over from King will be trying different tactics. We have to be ready for anything. We have to warn the men out in the country about what’s going on. They have got to be on the lookout for them.”
“It’s a pity those guys never followed instructions. It looks as if they’ve left their hiding places, but we’ll find them,” Ardez assured the gathering.
“And they got away with all that weed. If they manage to ship it, they’ll be rich for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, maybe they haven’t sold it yet, but what’s money to dead men anyway,” Mc Creed remarked.
“When we catch up with those two men and anybody else, who’s working with them, they’re going to wish that they were never born,” Ardez warned as he moved to join Mc Creed and the rest as they moved out of the room.
End of part one, readers can go on to read part two. Please visit my blog at : stredwick.blogspot.com

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Undercover soldier 2

Undercover Soldier

Austin Mitchell

Part Two

Chapter Eighteen

It was one week since they had arrived in Jamaica and there were results to be seen from their work. They had learned their trade in a hard school and had graduated to sell their wares to the highest bidder. Gaskell Burke had negotiated through Ken Stone and had been successful in securing the services of Moses Cartwright and Jabez Buchanan. These two were war veterans. On their return from Vietnam they had teamed up to sell their guns for money. They had killed in New York and in other American cities and had partaken in several gang wars. For them, killing had almost become routine. It didn’t matter who the victim was, so long as the money was right, they usually did a good job that left their employer very pleased knowing that his money had been well spent.
Ken Stone had known them in New York. When Burke had outlined his plans to him, he had opted for these two immediately. Burke was pleased with their work so far. After one week these back-street killers, hold up men and chain snatchers were looking like well-drilled soldiers. He didn’t have the near impregnable hideout that McCreed had, but in another two weeks that would change.
He would be in control of the majority of the island’s drug trafficking. McCreed would be on the run with no support, which would make his killing easier.
He had wanted to turn down Jack when approached, but the dental technician had convinced him that it was well worth the risk. The plan was simple, get rid of King and the three of them would share equally.
The divorce had been amicable; Peggy hadn’t taken what had happened to him lightly. There were no longer the dinner or tea parties or the wedding invitations. She wanted to make a fresh start. The courts had granted her custody and him visiting rights to the three children. They had also fixed a monthly allowance for them. Sometimes she would bring them to look for him and they would have a good time.
Since the divorce he had dated other women, that was until he met Nora Simpson. She was a single woman. She told him that she had a few relationships but had never married because none of the men she dated was willing to give her the kind of commitment she wanted from a husband. She had a master’s degree in economics from a prestigious United States university and was dedicated to her job as a senior economist with the government. She owned her own house and car. She had a niece and nephew living with her and had taken responsibility for their schooling. She was glad to have a man in her life again. She knew about the trouble he had been in but understood when he explained what had really happened. He wasn’t planning on asking her to marry him, not for now anyway. He had told Peggy about her and she had approved, saying that she was glad for him. She in turn had told him that she was now friendly with a doctor and he had wished her well.
Peggy and he had actually started working at the law firm on the same day. They had taken a likening to each other almost immediately.
They had fallen in love and it was the toast of the office. Ambitious young lawyer to marry young, beautiful secretary. He had no regrets about marrying her. His only regret was in allowing himself to be so easily lured into investing his clients’ money in those stocks. He couldn’t blame Danville because he had lost money too.
He had to look around fast and after years of searching, this was what he had come up with, thanks to Brad and Jack. The latter and he became friends when he defended him and won a marijuana case. He had quickly surmised that he wasn’t made of the stuff of which warriors are made. His assessment of Brad was the same. It was when they took him to their new warehouse that he decided that he didn’t want these two men around any longer. He had quickly hatched a plot to invite them down to Groves Valley purportedly for a meeting but more to set them up and get rid of them. He had to think, had it not been for the police, those two men would have been rid of. As far as he knew both of them were still in jail as an illegal gun as well as marijuana had been found in the car. The car that had been used in the killing of the man on Old Hope Road had also been traced to them.
“These guys will soon be professionals, Burke,” Jabez Buchanan said as he came up to where Burke was sitting under a mango tree, soon Moses Cartwright joined them.
They were athletic looking men these two. Burke guessed Bucky to be a little under six feet in height while Mose looked like he was taller than him by an inch or two. Both men carried thick mustaches. Their faces were clean shaven otherwise, with Mose being bald head. Bucky carried some amount of hair on his head.
From the dossier that he had on them, he knew that Mose was around thirty nine years of age. Bucky was a few months away from his thirty eight birthday.
Both men assured him that when they were finished training the recruits it would take an army to stop them.
“We really looked for these guys and we never stopped until we found the right men,” Burke stated.
“Always heard that Jamaica was a beautiful place, was planning to save some money and take a vacation down here sometime. Well, I can’t say I’m disappointed, lovely island you got here boss,” Mose congratulated Burke.
“Hope you don’t think you’re on any vacation, Mose, not when I’m paying your wages. The country might look sleepy, but it’s a dangerous place.”
“I always work hard to earn my wages, Burke. Bucky can testify to that.”
He drew hard on the marijuana cigarette.
“This training reminds me of the days back in Nam. That training sure beats the hell out of a man. Those Vietnamese are some of the best guerilla fighters in the world. They would have beaten us had we not pulled out.”
“I understand they nearly got you once, Mose.”
“They nearly did, was pretty lucky to come away alive. We were surrounded and all of my mates were dying around me. I was the only survivor. I had to lay on the ground and act dead, didn’t even move a muscle when that Viet Cong kicked me in my ribs.”
“Me, I’ve done enough fighting for Uncle Sam. Don’t figure on doing any more for him,” Bucky stated.
“You use this, Burke?” Mose asked as he fished into his pocket for two marijuana cigarettes, he handed one to Bucky.
“No, sir, I only smoke my pipe.”
“You should, been using this stuff since I was a kid. Hasn’t harmed me none. We used to get harder stuff out there in Nam but I always stuck to the weed. But it was trash compared to your weed,” Mose declared.
“First plane should come in next Saturday night to pick up a supply of the weed. They tell me that it’s the first time a plane is landing in Jamaica and it’s not McCreed’s weed it is coming for or one of his other syndicate friends.”
“Sure seems as if he’s got the market all tied up. Did you have much of a scrap with him before we got here?” Mose asked.
“Not much, we killed one of his men and wounded two others. Our men shot up their car and it ran into a lightpost.”
“Looks like we didn’t miss much action, Mose.”
“It’s a good while now our syndicate is around, but we just start to put the show on the road. We aren’t waiting for McCreed to come after us, we’re going after him.”
“Who is this McCreed? I’ve heard so much about him since
I got here. Is he some sort of a tycoon?” Mose asked.
“Old time mob hit man, came back down here several years ago and set up himself. He controls a sizeable portion of the market.”
“Know him personally, Burke?” Mose asked.
“I’ve never met him, but I’ve heard about him.”
“Must be some character, then, to have gotten rid of so much of the opposition,” Bucky declared.
“I’m not afraid of him. The men, with whom we were in partnership, seem to have been scared of him. I told them to set up their boss, but he escaped. They were coming to meet us and we had a trap set up for them, but the police arrested them.”
“From what I’ve heard, those two men were useless and probably would have been better off dead,” Mose put in.
“When I reflected on what took place I have to agree with you.”
“When do you plan for us to attack Mc Creed?” Mose asked.
“We will attack him next week Sunday. We’re going to attack his garage first. One group will attack him there, while the other will destroy his house at Coopers Hill.”
“Are these places heavily guarded?” Bucky asked.
“They have guards at the garage on Windward Road. I’ve heard that his house isn’t guarded. His gang’s headquarters is at Wareika but we aren’t touching that. The army has tried two times already and failed.”
“Not much of an army they got out here that lets a few amateur gunmen run them off. When Mose and I rip into them they’re gonna holler for mercy.”
Mose looked at his watch.
“Leisure time up Bucky, time to go back to work. Are you coming to watch us, Burke?”
“Think I’ve watched you enough, I just remembered that I have a meeting this evening.”
The three men stood up; the two fighters headed for the camp while their boss headed up the hill to his car.
At the camp it was a bustle of activity. Mose and Bucky each had six men under their command. The training started at five in the morning and there was a break at eight o’clock for breakfast. Lunch was at noon. They stopped training at six o’clock and turning in time was at nine o’clock.
Both Bucky and Mose were experts at unarmed combat as well as being weapons expert.
That night after the recruits had turned into their bunks,
Bucky and Mose sat talking under the big mango tree over a marijuana pipe that one of the trainees had taught them to build.
“That man, Burke, looks wealthy, wouldn’t mind doing another job for him,” Mose said, after blowing the last of the marijuana pipe out of his nostrils.
“Nice country out here, Bucky. Haven’t gotten around to meeting the women yet, but I hear they’re the best. Sure wouldn’t mind working for him again. Maybe after the way he’s seen us lick these guys into shape, if ever he’s in trouble again, he’ll be sure to send for us.”
“More than likely he’ll have his own people working for him by then.”
Mose took some more blows off the marijuana pipe.
“Bucky I made a date with two women for Friday night. There’s going to be a dance and they want us to come along. Should be fun.”
“I could do with a woman myself, Mose, but I would prefer to see this job through first.”
Bucky had hardly finished talking when they heard a shout.
“Who are you?” came the gruff demand from the guard post.
The two trainers whipped up their rifles and vanished into the darkness.
“It’s me, Ken,” came Ken Stone’s voice.
“Sounds like Ken to me,” Mose said. Both of them returned to the mango tree as Ken came up to them.
“Thought you were supposed to be in Miami, Ken, arranging to pick up the stuff,” Bucky remarked.
“I was,” Ken replied, taking a seat on one of the tree limbs.
“But I came down here to see how things are going. Burke tells me that you’re doing some good work.”
He took a long marijuana cigarette from Bucky and lit it.
“Better mind you go loco on this stuff, Ken. It’s the best I’ve ever smoked,” Bucky told him.
“That’s why I teamed up with Burke. We aim to let more people make their living out of it again.”
“Talking with Burke it does seem as if this McCreed is really big. Does he have Mexican or Colombian connections?” Mose asked.
“I don’t know, it’s now he’s going to feel pressure. After we get rid of him, we’re the ones, who are going to be running things.”
“One shot could do it all. Why train twelve men to fight against him?” Bucky argued.
Ken Stone drew on the last of the weed before throwing it away.
“The guy runs a big organization, we have to get our fighters in place before we move against him. Lots of men have challenged him and have failed. Our aim is not to make the same mistake.”
“Right now you’re down here, and you have to watch out because they have a lot of men working for them. If you catch anybody spying on the camp you know what to do.”
“This place is pretty isolated. Burke was careful in choosing it. Anybody who comes sneaking around will get a shallow grave,” Bucky sounded out a warning.
Mose and Bucky were rolling more marijuana leaves to smoke.
Ken Stone had no doubt that these two men would carry out their threats. He had seen them kill already and understood why their reputations as top-notch killers were chronicled in the American underworld.
The night was black, as there was just a sprinkling of stars in the sky. The big mango tree, on which they now sat, had been uprooted sometime earlier, failing by a few meters, to destroy the house with its heavy branches.
The old house was in a valley, only a foot-track led to it. Two men guarded this track. They did six-hour shifts around the clock. The two men had two M-16 assault rifles. All the men had been trained to use these guns.
Ken Stone had migrated to the United States a year after leaving high school, when his sister filed for him. He spent two years in college before dropping out and hitting the streets despite his family’s pleas and his sister’s pleadings. He moved slowly into the drug trade, taking his time to know the business. Now he was a real professional with bases in New York and Miami. He had contacts all over the United States, the Caribbean, South and Central America. He also acted as a broker in finding buyers for several syndicates, including Danville Burke’s, though he had never had any dealings with Danny King. The two men only had a casual acquaintance. Gus McCreed’s control of such a sizeable portion of the Jamaican market could spell doom for him and several other dealers unless they were willing to team up to fight against him. That was why he was glad to hear from Burke with the news that he wanted to form a syndicate to fight the man’s growing dominance of the trade.
Bucky stood up and yawned.
“Time I turned in, have to be awake by five in the morning. You catching a late flight, Ken, or you returning to Linstead?” he asked.
“I have a woman in Moneague to spend the night with. I’ve been romancing her for a long time and she has just decided to give me a chance.”
“You can help us out with some dates when this is over Ken,” Mose requested.
“When you finish this job, Mose, you have to start living a life. I know that you love women so I’ve arranged some dates with some of them for you. They love to party and I told them that both of you were party animals. Lots of them wanted to meet you once I told them about you, but I told them that you had a little job to finish.”
“Ken, I’m dying to see those girls,” Mose said.
“Don’t worry Mose, once you finish this job, you’re going to see girls until your eyes dazzle.”
“We used to help you out up North, Ken, so it’s time for you to return those favors,” Bucky said.
“As I said before, I have girls lined up and waiting for you, just finish the job. I’ll be seeing you, keep safe,” Ken said as he disappeared into the night.
Another shipment of the goods came in from Colombia on Friday night. This was the sixth shipment and all had been handled safely so far. Bonnie Josephs, one of those, who had received the letter from Paolo Colombo and had agreed to cooperate with the syndicate, took this one.
***
Bendoo’s outfit consisted of six men. They had been hastily assembled and trained. They now alternated with the other groups in guarding the camp and sometimes going on patrols with various growers. He lay on his bed and relaxed. He doubted if they would see any action for sometime.
At eight o’clock he turned on the radio to catch the news that was coming on. He didn’t feel at all hungry; he took a bottle of stout out of the refrigerator, and some ice and milk and mixed them together. He drank the tasty liquid. He took out a cigarette and lit it before opening the door and going out for a breath of fresh air and a chat. As he walked out towards the trees he saw Butler and Ardez coming up the trail. They were checked and passed by the guards. Butler called out to him as he passed. Ardez called him over.
“Bendoo, what’s going on? We went to the country today, everything’s cool down there. But we’re watching them to see what their next move will be because I don’t believe they’re going to stop after they killed Niah and shot up Shower and Gungoo.”
“We have the ammunition ready for them,” Bendoo said as they walked along the path to Ardez’s shack.
“How are your fighters, Bendoo? Are they any good?” he asked.
“Yes, Rattigan, Premba, Grosset, Butler and I are training them. They look good, like they’ll fight.”
“That’s what the boss wants to hear,” Ardez said, slapping him on his back.
He saw the newspaper in Ardez’s pocket.
“Lend me that paper, Ardez.”
“It’s today’s, I bought it this morning. You can give it back to me tomorrow,” he said, handing Bendoo the paper.
He took it and the two men said good-bye. He then headed for his shack to read the paper and go to bed.
***
Lorena McCreed was so taken up with her job that she hardly had any spare time. She really enjoyed it and found that she could use up much of what she had gained in her studies. Her father and Fred hardly came to the hotel these days. She wasn’t rushing things with Paul; they had gone out a few times after that first date. She was cautious when it came to sex, allowing him to make love to her a few times but always with a condom. She had also gone to her doctor and made him prescribe family planning pills for her when she decided that she wanted to start having sex with him. She had to admit that he was far more experienced than Bobby and the majority of her lovers since then. One day she went into his bank to cash a check and received some long stares from at least two of the girls there. When she spoke to him about it, he told her that she was imagining things. That had done nothing to ease the doubts she had about him. Her mind turned to Bendoo and she wondered where he was. She had to think that she knew nothing about him. She wondered why she was thinking about him any at all. She doubted if she would ever see him again. But there had been something about him that had stirred up something in her. Somehow she knew that they were destined to meet again. She hoped that it would be under better circumstances than their first encounter.
***
Lorena McCreed wasn’t the only one pondering over Bendoo.
Fred Billings was certain that he had seen Bendoo already. He looked at the note again ‘Bendoo is a traitor, he could be a policeman’. He looked at the man who had given him the note.
“Who gave you this note to give me?”
“A brethren name Duffus.”
The man told him that Duffus had given him the message when they were in jail. As soon as he got bail he had come to deliver the message. He remembered Duffus as the guy whom the police had held for killing, Lex Malcolm.
He had given the man two hundred dollars and warned him about saying anything to anybody.
But from the meeting at Mac’s bar, he remembered the face from somewhere. Now it all came back to him with his and Lorena’s quarrel up in Stony Hill, the tall man, who had stopped his car to help her, believing her to be in danger. The man might have been a policeman because later she had told him that he was armed. At first he had thought she was trying to scare him. He had pressed her for his name but she had refused, probably fearing that he might cause trouble for him. He had caught more than a glimpse of the man’s face and he was sure that the man now posing as Bendoo was the intruder. He was no fool or else he could never have risen so high in Gus McCreed’s organization. Such a piece of ingenuity on his part would be another boost in his rising status within the organization. The best person to contact now was Lorena. If she didn’t want to talk, he could always find a way to get it out of her.

Chapter Nineteen

Fred reached the hotel at six o’clock that evening and made for the front desk. He asked for Lorena and was told that she was at her flat. He went and knocked on her front door.
“Who’s there?”.
“It’s me, Fred.”
“I am coming.”
Damn her, he thought. She didn’t have to sound so dry. She opened the door and he entered. It was a one bedroom flat assigned to senior managers at the hotel. It contained a small porch; a living and dining room plus a bedroom and bathroom.
“I never expected to see you or daddy down here for a long time. The two of you are so busy in Kingston.”
“We have a lot of work to do,” Fred replied, taking a seat on the couch opposite her.
“Let me fix you a drink, Fred. What do you want?”
“Make it a gin and tonic, I have to go back to Kingston tonight, so I don’t want anything stronger,” he replied, taking out a cigarette and lighting it.
He heard her in the kitchen mixing the drinks. He looked at the television set, but decided against turning it on. He took up the book that she had been reading. It was one of those hospital romances. He put it down, careful not to lose her page.
Presently, she returned and handed him his drink; he tasted it.
“It tastes good, it seems as if these bartenders down here have given you some good lessons.”
“I can’t be helping to run this big hotel and don’t know anything. I do everything, I even go into the bars and serve sometimes, so you and daddy can stay there.”
She took some sips of her drink.
Fred became serious.
“Lorena, do you remember the guy whom I had that run in with when you and I had that quarrel up in Stony Hill?”
She was shocked, had Fred run into Bendoo again?
“I sort of remember him, but I’ve never seen him again. Have you seen him?”
He thought over what she had just said for a minute or so.
“A guy wants to do some work for us. I’m sure he’s the same
guy. Do you remember his name?”
“You know how these things are, before you hire a man, you want to know everything about him.”
“He told me that his name was Curtis Johnson but everybody called him Bendoo.”
He drank the last of his drink, he rested the glass on the coffee table, he looked at her.
“Lor, this guy wants to handle our security at our stores in Kingston. He told me that his name was Wesley James. I thought that he resembled Bendoo so much that I said I would ask you about him.”
“Maybe you’d better check him out some more, or even let me see him in person or a photograph of him.”
“Well, I’ll do that. I’m returning to Kingston now. I’ll tell Gus what you said, I’ll be seeing you, sis.”
“Maybe you could try to find out where Bendoo is,” she advised him.
“I’ll do that, Lor, goodbye,” he said pecking her on her cheeks. She opened the door and he went out.
Driving back to Kingston, he was thinking, Bendoo was Curtis Johnson all right, he was sure of that. He would go to the Factory and get in touch with K and ask him to look up Johnson’s record and his present whereabouts.
***
K had returned his call and would be looking up the file on Johnson. He promised to let him have the information by Saturday afternoon. Thinking that he had done a good day’s work, he decided to bed down at the Factory. There were two beds there for overnight visitors.
He knew that the time was coming up fast for him to take over from Mc Creed but this Bendoo could complicate matters. If he turned out to be a policeman he would have to be tortured to tell what information he had passed to his superiors, only then could he be gotten rid of.
Fred didn’t know when he dropped off to sleep. When he woke up it was in bright sunshine and by his watch it was eight o’clock. He took a hurried bath and headed for the mansion.
When he reached there he didn’t find Gus. Damn him, where could he be? Fred thought. At a time like this when their enemies could strike at any time it was unbelievable that Gus could be so careless. He ate the breakfast that Caslyn fixed for him, as he was very hungry.
He decided to stay and wait on Mc Creed and also on K for the information. He took up the morning papers and moved out to the balcony.
***
Ken Stone returned from his latest tryst and had just left when Wally, Burke, Benny and Dickson Lunan arrived at the training camp. Wally and Benny had arrived from Miami and New York respectively. Stone had returned to Miami to arrange for the shipment next Saturday. All four arrived at the camp at ten o’clock to find the recruits doing pushups.
“I heard that you guys are doing a good job Mose,” Benny shouted. Mose took a towel and wiped his face.
“Hey, you guys take a break. You’ve been going all morning,” he said to his trainees.
He left them and walked over to where his bosses were. Bucky was there too, after dismissing his recruits too.
They walked over to the makeshift office. Burke sat around the table while the others sat on the wooden benches.
“What’s the news, Burke?” Mose asked.
“I have to congratulate both of you about the job you’re doing. I want to announce that our plans are going ahead as scheduled.”
“Our people are coming for the weed on Saturday. We attack McCreed on Sunday. We stay put for about a week and then we move in and take control.”
“Mose and I move out on Monday.”
“Yes and with half of the money you’re supposed to get.”
Wally groaned from the hardness of the wooden bench.
“What’s wrong with you, Wally?” Burke asked.
“Wally’s not used to this kind of life,” Benny said.
Burke laughed.
“Better get used to it, Wally. This isn’t New York or Miami, this is Jamaica. From now until we get out the first shipment things are going to be rough.”
“I can take care of myself, don’t worry yourself,” Wally replied hastily.
“I was just joking, Wally.”
“What next, Gaskell?” Benny asked.
“My people in Miami are anxious to get some of the Jamaican weed,” Wally said. “I want the next trip for them.”
“I know that lots of people want our weed, but they have to wait until we get rid of McCreed.”
“Do you know where he’ll be on Sunday night?” Mose asked.
There was silence in the room.
“He’ll either be at his house or at a nightclub; he’s a big party-goer. All of the men have a photograph of him and know that they’re to shoot to kill him on sight.”
“You think that he knows about us, Burke?” Wally asked.
“I think that they’re still looking for Brad and Jack. They believe it was they who shot up their fighters and killed one of them,” Burke replied.
“In other words, he won’t know what hits him,” Bucky said.
“We’re going to wipe them out.”
“How are we going to pay these guys, Burke?” Wally asked.
“They get two hundred dollars for this job and if they stay on they get one hundred dollars per week.”
“On Sunday night we’ll be launching a two phased operation. From our investigations his house is now guarded. Mose will take his fighters to attack it. Bucky will take his team and attack the garage on Windward Road. I want it burned down and destroyed. The fighters at Wareika can’t be operational if their vehicles aren’t being serviced. We destroy that and we make them sitting ducks for a successful attack by the security forces or ourselves. One set of fighters will go with Bucky and they’re going to destroy anything they see. I feel that if the men at Wareika can’t work we can control all the weed fields. Right now we have enough ammunition to wipe Wareika off the map.”
Burke knew that the day was getting hot. He also knew that the soon to be fighters were smoking and chatting. They had been cooped up here for about two weeks, but the money was good. They were a few disgruntled voices among them, but the rest knew that the money they were getting would enable them to live and sport for a year without working.
“Won’t we have to give some money to some of those high
officials?” Benny asked.
“Leave that part to me, Benny. I know most of those people. I’ve talked to some of them already and they say they’ll support us, but we have to give them something. So you guys know how things are, we might have to give them one of the shipments.”
“I don’t have any problems with that, so long as they help us get rid of McCreed,” Wally agreed.
“We have some guns in the car. Some of the men can come for them,” Benny told them.
“We’re going now, but we’ll be coming back down here in the week to complete our plans. Ken is supposed to come back down here on Wednesday,” Burke said and stood up.
“Those two guys are still in jail. The judge doesn’t want to give them bail. She says they are a flight risk,” Dickson told them.
“I will try and see what I can do. They will have to get one of those high powered lawyers to help them. The problem is that their retainer fees are so high,” Burke stated.
“I want them to come out to handle their affairs.”
“You don’t trust us Dickson?” Burke asked.
“Of course I do, if I didn’t I wouldn’t be meeting you guys.”
All of them moved out to where the new fighters were. The guns were moved to the house and stored in a room to which only Mose and Bucky had keys.
After that Burke and his three associates departed for Kingston.
***
Fred wrote down what K had reported on Curtis Johnson alias Bendoo.
He was sure that he had left for the United Kingdom on a six week training course along with several other policemen.
The man was twenty-nine and had joined the force nine years ago. He had been transferred to Special Branch two years ago. He was a Sergeant and one of the up and coming set of brilliant policemen destined for rapid promotions within a few years. Did he really leave for England? K hadn’t been one hundred percent certain. All records and reports indicated that the fifteen men had departed for the U.K. Could a switch have been made by a man taking the place of Johnson while he departed to play the role of Bendoo at Wareika? K drew a blank on that possibility; Fred was perturbed, he didn’t know where else to look. He sat on the balcony wondering what had happened to Gus when Caslyn called him.
It was K, and although he didn’t know if Bendoo had gone to England, he told Fred that a picture of him was in the January edition of the police magazine. It could be had at just about any police station. The nearest one happened to be in Red Hills, where Constable Dervent Rennals looked up the January edition of the magazine without realizing how easily he had delivered one of his colleagues into Fred’s trap. Fred thanked him, drove back to Coopers Hill but didn’t open the magazine until he was seated in one of the balcony chairs. He excitedly turned the magazine page by page until he came upon the profiles of those, who had been promoted and there was Bendoo’s picture! No there could be no mistake, this was Detective Sergeant Curtis Johnson alias Bendoo, his education and hobbies and that he participated in most police sports meets as he had been a class athlete in high school. It was Bendoo all right. He would write a report so that Gus could read it when he returned home.
He wrote the report and left it along with the picture in the magazine on Mc Creed’s desk in his private office. He had an inclination to telephone Ardez and order him to shoot Bendoo, but he realized that it would amount to a case of insubordination on his part, as that would be Mc Creed’s prerogative. The time was six o’clock and he remembered that he had to take Johanna to see a play. He took a bath and was in his bedroom when he heard Mc Creed’s gruff voice. He put on some clothes and made his way out into the living room. Mc Creed was there with Rosa in his arms. They were seated in one of the couches.
“Hey, Gus, where were you? I’ve been looking for you all day,” Fred told him.
“I thought I would spend some time on the North Coast.”
“What’s happening, Rosa? I see you went to party with Gus,” Fred said to her.
“Freddie, what’s going on? I just came out this week and came to visit, Gussie. I’m going back next week.”
“So how are the girls? How are they doing in school? You know I have to ask about Angie,” Fred told her.
“They’re growing so fast, and are progressing so well in school that I’ve told Gussie that before he knows it, I’ll be back in his life full-time again.”
“Hey, hey, hey, that’s what I want to hear. I’m sure that’s what the big man wants to hear too.”
“You got anything for me, Fred?”
“Yes, and it’s something big too. I wrote a report and left it on the desk in your study.”
Mc Creed looked at his watch and saw that it was twenty-five minutes to seven.
“Rosa, wait out here for me. I have some business to see about in my office, it won’t take long.”
He and Fred went into the office. The latter handed him his report and he began to read it.
“What the hell!” Mc Creed exclaimed. It’s you who wrote this report, Fred? Bendoo is a Special Branch detective? I can’t believe it and I thought Ardez had made K clear him.”
He shook his head in dismay at what had happened.
“You can ask K, it was he, who helped me to find out about him. Bendoo was supposed to have gone on a training course in England. Somebody else took his place and he came up here to pose as a Rasta dreadlocks and got to join our gang.”
“Who brought him in?”
“Niah but he’s dead now, but look at that picture there and tell me if it’s not Bendoo.”
McCreed looked at the picture in the police magazine. It was Bendoo all right.
“It’s him of course, and to think that I gave him a unit to work with.
“You told Ardez about it yet?” he inquired of Fred.
“I was waiting for you before I made any moves. I know that I’ve seen him somewhere before. It’s one time Lorena and I were up in Stony Hill and we had a flat tire and he stopped to help us.”
“I’ll talk to Ardez tonight. I was planning to go out, but I’ll cancel it. We’re going to use him as an example to anybody else who wants to come up here to trick us,” Mc Creed told him.
“We have to move fast, and make sure that he doesn’t escape.”
“You heard what happened to Brad Elliot and Jack Marriot?”
“The police held them. I understand that they held Danny King too.”
“I’ve asked K to get as much as he can from the police as to what they are getting out of those three men.”
“I’m going now, I have a date with Johanna, I’ll probably see you in the morning.”
“That’s a damn good piece of work you did, Fred. Keep up the good work. I don’t know how I’d manage without you,” Gus said, slapping him on the back.
Fred went out very pleased with himself, greeted Rosa again and told her that he would see her around. There was no doubt that Mc Creed rated him very highly. Well, tonight he would spend the night on the town after seeing that play with Johanna.
***
The men in Ardez’s room, sat in stony silence as they listened to what he had to say to them. Bendoo felt cornered. The house was surrounded by the guards and Butler and Lance had just entered with their M-16s pointing at him.
“Bendoo, you dirty traitor,” Grosset shouted, his hand dipping into his pocket for his gun.
“The boss doesn’t want any shooting until he says so. Bendoo, you’re a traitor, you tricked us. The security forces couldn’t do it so they sent you up here,” Ardez stated.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Bendoo declared.
Butler pointed the M-16 at his head.
“Isn’t your name Curtis Johnson? The boss says he has a picture of you from your magazine. Fred Billings remembered you, you never covered your tracks well, Bendoo.”
“The boss says to put you in a cell until he’s ready for you,” Ardez told him.
“Fred Billings would trump up anything he can find against me because he hates me.”
“The man doesn’t even know you, Bendoo. Yet you’re saying that he hates you. It’s you who betrayed Pennant and Dillinger,” Premba declared.
“And made them arrest Duffus and Indian,” Grosset said.
“Pennant was one of my best friends. We escaped from reform school together. We’ve smoked a lot of herbs together. If I didn’t respect the boss you would be dead a long time ago, Bendoo,” Premba threatened.
Bendoo could see the hatred on their faces. These men were now his deadliest enemies and would kill him at the mere drop of a pin. He was unarmed, having come to the meeting believing it to be some new developments about Brad and Jack. Although the latest news going around the camp was that both men had been arrested. He had also heard about Danny King’s arrest.
“Who’s your contact in the Force, Bendoo? You’d better tell us or we are going to force it out of you,” Ardez warned him.
Bendoo didn’t reply.
“He’s playing tough, let me beat it out of him,” Grosset demanded. The giant was in a killing mood.
“We have to follow the boss’ orders, Grosset and I won’t repeat them,” Ardez warned.
Bendoo could feel the tension building up in the room. Any wrong moves now and he would be cut to pieces.
“The boss gave his orders and we have to stick by them,” Premba warned.
“Come, Bendoo and don’t bother try anything. Butler and Lance come with me. The two of you’ll be guarding his cell tonight,” Ardez stated.
They set off for the one cell prison with Bendoo walking between the two fighters while the rest of them spread out. He knew the futility of trying to escape. Even if he managed to elude his escorts the machine gun nests would be sure to get him. He was pushed into the cell. There was a small window. The floor was dirt and covered with crocus bags. The door was bolted from the outside, as was the window. It stood in an isolated area and was opposite the gun nests. He settled down on the crocus bags, there were no lights. Outside he could hear Butler and Lance talking. He knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep and he had to devise some plan to escape.
So Fred Billings had found out at last. He wondered if Lorena had anything to do with it. He doubted if she had contributed much. He would almost certainly be killed. Fred was pretty damn smart to have found out. He must have gotten help from their collaborators in the force. The man must possess a fantastic memory to have remembered him.
Wood would realize that something was wrong when he didn’t hear from him. The force would be powerless to help him. He knew that he was the only man, who could lead a team up there to defeat the Wareikans. He had jotted down information about the whole operation and had passed it to Wood. Even if he was killed, his mission wouldn’t be a total failure. The Factory could still be taken and the growers in the country apprehended and charged. Mc Creed man could also be caught and charged, as would Fred Billings. Only Wareika was impregnable, but with his help the security forces would be able to destroy it. He tossed and turned on the foul crocus bags. When sleep came, it was late Friday morning.

Chapter Twenty

Mose and Bucky had kept their date with the two women that Errol, one of the trainees, had set up for them. They were now at the dance with both of them. They had plenty of money to spend and their accent was particularly pleasing to the women. The liquor like the money had flowed and now both men were being rewarded by their respective woman for the night.
Bucky was glad that Mose had asked Errol to set up the dates for them.
He hadn’t wanted to risk it, but when he saw Leta he knew that he had to have her. She was of medium height, but well rounded with good breasts and legs.
They made love two times that night and she told him how good he was as both times he made her climax. It was about two o’clock when he left the guesthouse.
In the adjoining room Mose was ready for a third session, but Tena pushed him away.
“Mose, why are you so greedy, you’ve worn me out already. Why don’t you stay until the morning?”
“I have to be back on the base by two thirty.”
“Come and get some sleep, Sunday night we can go to a club in Ocho Rios.”
But he was insistent on a third session of lovemaking. He was just buttoning his shirt when Bucky knocked. Tena was still asleep; he didn’t wake her up as he had paid for the room for the entire night.
Jacob had seen the two men at the dance. What alerted him to them was their accent. He guessed that they were Jamaican born Americans. Their accent was deep, which meant that they must have gone to the States since they were very young. On the other hand, they could be African-Americans. And if that was the case, what were they doing in this lonely part of St. Ann? He wondered. The two women, who were with them, were Leta and Tena. He knew that both women’s boyfriends were in America on the farm-work program.
Were these men here to buy weed? He remembered what had happened to his field and the losses he had suffered. He would stick around. He had attended Rattigan’s courses and had been told not to miss anything that looked important. If anything suspicious caught your attention follow it. He went up to the bar to buy a beer and then drifted off into the darkness to watch the two men. He had left Pearline with the kids, telling her that he wouldn’t be long and was only going to greet some friends. During this time he had bought only one more beer, but plenty of soup, as he didn’t want to get tipsy. There were quite a few women at the dance. He had danced with some of them and would have gone away with two, but for his self-appointed mission. The two men were big spenders. He wondered if it was weed money. Jacob waited, finally both men left with their respective woman and he followed them down to the Grove Guesthouse. He decided to wait it out in some trees, as he doubted that the men would stay all night.
He was rewarded two hours later when both men emerged from the guesthouse minus the two women and headed up the road. He crept silently behind them. He saw when they climbed a hill and wondered where the hell they were going. He was still on the trail and had come to a clump of trees now, but he couldn’t see any of them.
Where were the men, had they slipped away from him? He walked on and saw one of them stumbling on ahead of him, obviously tipsy from the liquor and the woman he had just made love to. Where was the other one, he wondered? He was just about to dip his hand into his pocket for his gun when someone shouted from behind him.
“Don’t move, just put your hands in the air,” Mose ordered, pointing his gun at Jacob’s head.
Bucky had turned around and was hurrying towards them.
“Who are you and why have you been following us?” Mose demanded.
“I wasn’t following you, I was going to my house,” Jacob stammered out.
“Where do you live?” Mose asked.
Jacob didn’t reply. He was still shocked at being so easily tricked by the two men.
“There are no houses around here. You had better talk up fast or else I’m going to shoot you,” Mose warned as Bucky joined them.
“Search him, Bucky.”
Bucky’s search revealed the man’s gun and knife, his wallet with over three hundred Jamaican dollars. He had one hundred American dollars and some contraceptives all of which Bucky pocketed, to be shared with Mose later on.
“Let’s take him to the house, Mose. We’ll make him tell us why he was following us.”
“It’s my house, I’m going to.”
“Move, man and walk fast too,” Mose ordered.
Jacob had no option but to do as he was ordered.
He was surprised at the path the two men were taking. It would lead to an old house down in the valley below. As they reached the entrance to the valley, the guards shouted, “Who are you?”
“Bucky and Mose. We caught this guy sneaking around,” Bucky replied.
“What! It’s Jacob,” Churchill, who was on guard duty shouted.
“What are you going to do with him?” Errol, the other guard, asked.
“He’ll have to tell us why he was following us,” Mose replied.
“Some of the guys have gone to a dance. We couldn’t do anything about it, as they said you were gone out too,” Churchill revealed.
“What the hell, those guys will have to be disciplined,” Mose tried to choke back his anger as he pushed his prisoner before him.
“Nothing we can do,” Bucky said. “If it gets out that we were out we might find ourselves out of a job.”
“I’d like to see the man who’s going to leak that information to the boss to blow his damn brains out.”
Mose shook with anger. He turned in Churchill’s direction.
“You give us the names of those guys, Churchill and we’ll have a talk with them,” he demanded.
“I’m not an informer,” Churchill warned. “You want that information you’d better get it from somebody else.”
“What the hell’s gotten into you guys, anyway,” Mose fumed.
Despite their own hardcore experience as frontline gunmen, they knew it would be unwise to press Churchill. The man was short and thick and had New York experience. He was primed to become one of Gaskell Burke’s frontline warriors.
Errol, the other guard, sat on the bamboo bench, cradling the AK-47 assault rifle. He could have volunteered the information to the two Americans as it was he, who had set them up on Leta and Tena for a cool fifty American dollars from Mose but they didn’t ask him. He smiled to himself at how easily these two guys were falling into his well laid trap.
“Move man, move,” Mose shouted at Jacob. “If things continue like this we’ll soon have the whole of the Jamaican security forces down on us.”
“Where do we put this guy?” Bucky asked.
“We’ll lock him up in the boss’ office. Tomorrow he can tell us why he was following us,” Mose replied as Jacob stepped up the wooden steps to the room that would be his prison for the night.
Mose opened the door and they went in. He struck a match and lit a candle. It was a very small room with board windows. A big wooden table and some benches occupied it.
“We’ll have to tie him up, Mose.”
“Shouldn’t be hard to find a rope,” Mose replied. “We’d better post one of the recruits to guard him.”
“I have some rope in my bag, I’ll go and get it,” Bucky said stepping through the wooden doorway.
Mose was alone with the prisoner. He pocketed his gun, rolled some marijuana leaves and lit it.
“When are you going to tell us why you were following us, Jacob?”
Jacob grunted; he knew what his fate would be.
“You, guys had better let me go because if by tomorrow I don’t turn up they’re going to start searching for me and they’re bound to find your camp.”
“Anybody, who comes sneaking around here gets a bellyful of lead. That goes for you too, if you don’t tell us what we want to know by tomorrow,” Mose threatened, turning his back for an instant to Jacob.
“I don’t know anything,” Jacob replied as he swung a piece of board at Moses’ unguarded back. As he swung, Mose spun around catching hold of the piece of board with his left hand and jerking the surprise marijuana farmer towards him. A chop to the back of his neck had him out cold.
Bucky’s hurried footsteps could be heard.
“Heard a struggle inside,” he panted. “You all right, Mose?”
“Yeah, sure, Bucky. This guy tried something and I had to knock him out cold.”
“Well, so long as he’s in one piece, it’s all right with me,” Bucky said as he stepped into the room with the rope and saw Jacob fully stretched out on his back.
“Sure you haven’t broken his back, Mose?” he asked, kneeling down to feel the fallen man’s pulse.
“It’s beating,” he told his companion.
“Let’s tie him to the table. Even if he wants to move, it’s pretty heavy for him alone to move it,” Bucky stated.
They tied Jacob’s hands and feet to the table with the rope. The two trainers then surveyed their work.
“He won’t be escaping tonight for sure. Tomorrow we can tie him out in the sun to refresh his memory,” Mose declared.
“I feel sleepy,” Bucky declared.
“Same here,” Mose chipped in. “Well, let’s go,” he said as they departed for their sleeping quarters.
***
Joey stood behind the big guango tree and saw the two men march Jacob off into the darkness. They had captured him, but why? At first following Jacob, he had been certain that he was in league with the two men. But this was now shown to be not so with his capture.
He continued to follow from a distance, his gun drawn and making sure to keep in the darkness and not to step on any dry twigs. What he saw next surprised him even more. The men were leading their prisoner down to an abandoned old house, which must be their hideout. He went further up the hill until he came to a tree that was overlooking the valley in which the house was situated. Once in the tree he had a good view of the house, which was in total darkness. He picked out the figures of the three men as they came down to the entrance leading to the house. They stopped now and from his observation point, he saw that some more men were down there with them. They must be the guards. He soon lost them in the darkness. He sat in the tree and pondered what to do next. Maybe they had a camp down there, hence the need for guards. But a camp for what? Marijuana was the most obvious answer. But where would they get it? The night was cold, he wanted a smoke, but the guards down there might see the light and turn their guns in his direction. His chances of rescuing Jacob were slim, as he would be up against several obviously well armed men. The best solution would be to go to the Factory and notify the boss.
Then he remembered about Niah’s death and the shooting of Shower and Gungoo.The gunmen had gone into hiding. Could this be them? He wondered. He had better let the boss know about his discovery fast. It was about three o’clock now. He would need time to take a nap before going into Kingston in the morning. So thinking, he carefully descended the tree and retraced his steps back out to the road before hurrying home for his nap.
***
Ardez listened to Joey’s account of Jacob’s capture and then hung up. He told him not to leave, but to have a meal and some sleep. The boss would certainly want to talk to him. Mc Creed wasn’t home and neither was Fred Billings. He left a message with Caslyn that whichever one of them got home first to get in touch with him urgently.
Meanwhile, he sat down to consider over what Joey had just told him. Two African-Americans, maybe there wasn’t much to it anyway, but it would be good to investigate the incident plus there was the freeing of Jacob. The man had done yeoman service for the organization. He hoped that the boss would be home shortly to get his message from Caslyn.
***
Bendoo sat in his cell, it was his second day and as yet he hadn’t heard what his fate was to be. It was hard living; his only ration was bread and bush tea in the mornings and bread with lemonade in the evenings. He knew that guards were being posted. So far he hadn’t heard anything about McCreed or Fred. Wood must be wondering what had happened to him. Two more days or a week would send jitters through Special Branch. He knew that they might try something, he was eager to hear if anything was breaking. He doubted it very much. It was hot inside and he judged the time to be about noon. He didn’t get anything to eat at this time.
Obviously Fred was very close to McCreed having been brought up by Mc Creed. From the talk he had heard from the men, although he and Lorena had grown up like siblings, Fred being ambitious was more than overprotective of her and several would be suitors had gotten the message and had moved on. He wondered if the girl was in danger, because if McCreed died, then he would take over.
***
Lorena drove her Mazda 323 through Ocho Rios towards Paul’s house. He had told her of his encounter with Fred and of the threatening phone calls he had been receiving. She knew that they originated from Fred and she had confronted him about it. He had vigorously denied her accusations. Now, as she lay in Paul’s arms in the afterglow of their lovemaking she wondered if Fred was telling the truth.
“That guy, Fred Billings, is a creep.”
“Don’t worry about him, when I see him again, I’m going to warn him to leave you alone.”
“I’m not afraid of any man, and if that guy doesn’t change his behavior I’m going to beat him up.”
“Don’t bother doing him anything, Paul. If he doesn’t have anything positive to tell me, I’m going to talk to daddy about him.”
Secretly though she was worried as she didn’t know how he would fare against Fred’s volatile temper.
“Why don’t we get married?” he asked.
“Look how many times I’ve told you that I need some more time.”
“You’ve told me that I’m a good lover. We love each other and have spent a lot of time together. I don’t see what we’re waiting for.”
Lorena burst out laughing.
“You can go on, Paul. Anytime I get married, I don’t want to make any mistakes.”
“Okay, baby, if you say so,” he said and rolled on top of her.
“You ready already?” she asked and kissed him and their lovemaking started again.
***
Gus McCreed sat at the head of the table around which sat Fred Billings, Ardez, Premba and Grosset.
“Two African-Americans, are you sure about that, Joey? It could be two local guys, who went to the States, picked up the slang and are now showing off,”Mc Creed stated.
“I’ve gone to the States several times, boss and I know how they speak. Their accent is much deeper than our people, who go over there and pick it up.”
“They were at a dance near to my house. They had two local women with them. They had plenty of money and were buying loads of liquor and food. Then they went to sleep down at a guesthouse.”
“You followed them, Joey?” Gus asked.
“No boss, I saw Jacob following them and I got suspicious and followed him. I was hiding in some bushes, when I saw them stick him up and took him down to their hideout. It seems as if a lot of them are down there.”
“It puzzles me what two Americans would be doing down here and in that part of the country, except they are on a mission,” Ardez suggested.
“What kind of mission, that’s the big question? We know that Jack Marriot and Brad Elliot are in jail. Danny King is also in jail. I think all of them were in this together. There are still others out there fighting against us,” McCreed declared.
“Their last strike was pretty expensive, it cost us one man. Shower and Gungoo are still in hospital,” Premba declared.
“We have to find out about those two men. It could be that they were brought down here to fight against us,” Fred opined.
“We aren’t going to sit down and do nothing,” McCreed said. “They have Jacob and we have to get him away from them. He’s one of our best growers, we can’t let those men do him any harm.”
“We have to get those two women to help us. We’ll give them some money to make them talk. After we find out about those two men we can spy on their camp to find out what they’re doing. How come they have a big camp like that and the police don’t know anything about it?” McCreed finished.
“Our security forces are useless, they couldn’t work anywhere else but out here,” Premba stated.
“We’ll soon know what those men are doing down here. Premba, you take Lance and two other men and go down there with Joey. You get to those two women and find out more about those two Americans.”
“Once they see me they’ll know that they can trust you. They’ll talk, but the money will come in handy because they’re not working. Both of their boyfriends ran off on the farm-work program.”
“Can we trust them to keep their mouths shut? They might just tell those two men about us,” Fred warned.
“Tena will keep her mouth shut, but I’m not too sure about Leta.”
McCreed considered for a moment.
“We’ll try money first, if they refuse, Lance can go to work. If they cooperate, you make sure to tell them that if they tell those two men about us, Lance will be coming after them for sure.”
“Why don’t you send Butler and Grosset too,” Fred suggested.
“We’re going to need them for the heavier action. Ardez, I’m advising you to put all the units in training for a possible assault on that camp. If we have to attack them, you’ll brief the men further. Bendoo’s group will be merged with the other groups.”
“You think the security forces will attack Wareika again?” Joey asked.
“Not for now, but we’re ready for them anytime they come again,” Ardez boasted.
Fred Billings looked at his watch.
“Hell, it’s nearly one o’clock. I have an appointment at two.”
“You can wait for me, Fred,” Mc Creed told him.
“What am I to say about Jacob’s disappearance, boss?” Joey inquired.
“Just keep your mouth shut and let Premba and the team stay at your house tonight.”
“If you destroy the camp, when you’re returning, just empty out your guns into Bendoo, I’m not stopping you. K’s still trying to find out what he told them about us. He has activated all of his people to find out everything about him.”
“What happened to Bendoo?” Joey asked.
“He was passing information to our enemies. We locked him up at Wareika,” Gus told him.
“Damn the traitor, he could have set us up. He knows where some of our fields are located,” Joey said.
“We’re going to take care of him Joey,” Mc Creed reassured him.
“We found the information on him, he never had time to pass it,” Ardez chipped in.
“He was writing a whole book about our organization, but we caught him in time,” he added.
“I hope he doesn’t escape before you kill him,” Joey remarked.
“Don’t worry Joey, he’s going to get what he deserves on Wednesday night. But tell us more about those two women,” Mc Creed requested.
“As I said before, they have two children each. I’ve heard that their men have run off on the farm work program.”
Mc Creed digested it and didn’t comment.
Fred Billings stood up.
“You ready, boss?”
“I guess so, well, I’ll be seeing you men,” he said, easing out of his chair and following Fred out of the room.

Chapter Twenty One

Premba drove the Ford Escort to Leta’s gate and parked it. He got out, followed by Joey. It was already dark and they could see the lights from the shaded lamp in the two bedroom room house that she and her two children occupied. Joey went up to the wooden gate.
“Hey, Leta,” he shouted.
“Who’s that out there calling me,” a female voice called out.
“Is that her?” Premba asked.
“Your friend, Joey.”
He nodded to Premba.
“Joey, where are you going, club in Ocho Rios?”
“Some of my friends and me. I’m just checking to see if you would come too. Can we come in?”
“Come inside, Joey.”
Joey pulled back the gate and he and Premba stepped up to the doorway.
They stood in the doorway of Leta’s small living room. She was sitting in a sofa, adding the finishing touches to her hair. The two men found chairs to sit on.
“Then what’s happening, Joey? Is your friend this? It’s a long time since I’ve seen you. How come you’re just checking me now, those other girls deserted you?”
“I know that you love to party and my friends wanted to go clubbing in Ocho Rios. I thought I would come by you to see if you would go with us.”
Leta laughed.
“Joey, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I have a date with an American guy. We’re going to Ocho Rios, Tena and I and two of them.”
“What!” Joey exclaimed. “Americans, they must be rich.”
“They’re not rich, but they are generous with their money and they love to party.”
“Looks like we’re out of luck.”
He turned to Premba.
Premba moved closer to Leta.
“Leta, we want to know about those two guys, whom you’re having that date with.”
He dipped his hand into his pocket and came up with a wad of United States twenty-dollar bills. He peeled off ten and threw them down on the bed.
“That’s for you if you tell us what we want to know about those two guys.”
Leta looked at Joey, she was scared. She looked at the money on the bed. It was plenty more than she had received from Bucky on Friday night. She looked at Premba again.
She saw the vest the man was wearing, his expensive watch and chains, his shiny shoes and dark glasses. The gold tooth he was flashing, plus his rings, she looked away from him.
This man must be a Don, she thought.
“What do I have to do? I don’t know anything about them, because it was one of our friends, who introduced us to them.”
“What are their names?” Premba asked.
“Their names are Mose and Bucky. They are out here working for a man down in Ocho Rios.”
“That’s not much to earn you so much money, Leta,” Premba said. “But you have to find out more about them to fully earn it.”
The girl had stopped fixing up her hair.
“Tena will soon come to call me, you want to see her too?”
“She could be helpful to us too.”
“She’s supposed to be on the way here now.”
“Well, we aren’t going to wait until she comes, but give her this money and explain to her,” Premba said, giving her another two hundred dollars in twenty-dollar bills.
She took the money from him.
“Listen to me Leta, just go with those two guys and see what information you can get out of them. They’re two C.I.A men, who are fooling around our weed. Don’t bother telling them about us or try to double cross us.”
Lance appeared in the doorway as Premba finished speaking. Leta saw the two long marks, running down his face and she shivered.
“Lance, are you ready, come, Joey. Leta, when you’re ready to tell me about those two guys just come to where Joey lives,” Premba said as he, Lance and Joey departed to the waiting car.
***
They weren’t gone five minutes before Tena arrived.
“Leta, what’s happening? Big disappointment, I just saw
Errol. He said Mose said to tell us that he and Bucky can’t go tonight again.”
“Why they can’t go again?”
“Because their boss came out and is down there with them.”
“I’m really disappointed with those two guys because Joey and his friends wanted to take me to Ocho Rios with them and I had to turn them down.”
Tena looked at her; she was taller than her with a fuller figure. A year younger than her, the two women had been friends from high school.
“Who did you say, Joey, he’s around? Who and he came here?”
“He and about four of his friends.”
“They gave me this to give you,” Leta added, taking the money from under her mattress and counting it out loudly before handing it to her friend.
Tena took the money from her.
“What they gave it to you for, Leta? What am I supposed to do?”
“They were asking me about Mose and Bucky,” Leta replied.
“What they want to know about them?” Tena asked, now very curious.
“They said that they are C.I.A men and we’re to find out more about them.”
Tena looked at Leta, she was very worried.
“All I wanted from Mose and Bucky was some money to set
up myself. What these men want us to do looks dangerous, I’m not in it.”
“It’s the same thing I was thinking. They say nothing will
happen to us as long as we don’t tell Mose and Bucky about them. We’ll get more money too.”
“How much they gave you, Leta?”
“Same as you, the one who gave me the money name Premba, I’m wondering how Joey got mixed up with them.”
“Then what did you tell them about Mose and Bucky?”
“I didn’t know anything to tell them except their names and that they’re down here working for a man in Ocho Rios. It was Errol, who put us on to them. Premba isn’t going to give us any more money if we don’t find out more about them.”
Tena stood up; she went to the doorway and peered outside.
“That’s true what you say Leta, but who could have told them that we know Mose and Bucky, it must be Errol.”
“It could be Joey, he was at the dance too, and he must have seen us with them,” Leta replied.
***
A car was coming down the road. Tena could see the headlights as it came to a stop at Leta’s gate. She rushed back inside.
“It must be them returning. Leta, I’m going into the children’s room. I don’t want them to see me.”
“What are you hiding for, Tena? You must meet them one day.”
Premba and Joey were already in the doorway.
“I never expected to find you here, Leta? What happen,
your dates haven’t showed up? Wait is that, Tena?” Premba asked, admiring the curvaceous woman standing in the doorway of the children’s room.
“That’s her,” Joey replied.
“Hey, Tena, what’s happening? Come and meet my friends,” Joey appealed to her.
“What happen, Joey? It’s a long time since I’ve seen you, I heard that you’ve become a big party-goer now.”
“It’s in my blood, so it’s just the tradition I’m maintaining.”
“That’s true my friend, touch me,” Premba said in agreement with Joey and the two men touched fists.
“So, Tena, Leta told you what we want you to do? Plenty of money is in it for you if you help us out.”
Tena didn’t reply at once.
“Yes, she gave me the money, but we don’t know much about them as it’s only their names they told us.”
“That’s still okay, Tena, but now you know that you must get more information about them to give us.”
“It’s nothing dangerous and they don’t have to know that you’re passing information to us about them because we aren’t going to tell them,” Joey reassured them.
Leta wanted to ask them why they wanted the information, but she was scared.
Lance came up to the doorway.
“What are these women dealing with, Premba? Are they coming with us?”
“Where are you going?” Tena inquired.
“We’re going clubbing in Ocho Rios, you can come with us. We were inviting Leta, but she was telling us about the date you had with those two Americans,” Joey replied.
“You want us to go with them, Leta?”
“Yes, let’s go. We can’t let Mose and Bucky think that we can’t enjoy ourselves without them.”
“You’re right, Leta,” Premba remarked. “Those guys have no idea of how Jamaicans love to party.”
Leta looked at him, but didn’t reply.
“The car is going to be packed but it’ll hold,” Lance said.
“Wait, let me tie this scarf over my hair,” Leta said as the men stepped outside.
“Are you sure that Jacinth and Candy are sleeping?” Tena asked, looking into the room at the shapes under the blanket. The room was in total darkness.
“You’re brave to leave them alone in that room. If my mother wasn’t home, I would never leave Paula and Ann-Marie in the house alone,” she remarked.
“You know that it’s not something I like to do, but they have gotten big and can take care of themselves.”
“Hey, what’s happening, Leta and Tena, are you coming?” came Joey’s urgent voice.
“What’s wrong with Joey?” Tena asked Leta.
“We’re coming,” she shouted back.
The three men stood at the gate, in the car were Mercan and Mallards.
Leta blew out the lamp plunging the room into darkness and she and Tena stepped outside. She closed the door behind her and turned the key in the lock. She removed the key, tried the knob to make certain it was locked and then returned the key to her purse.
“All of you come,” she said as she reached them.
“But wait, how so many of us are going to hold in this little car?” she asked.
“It hold more than that already,” Premba assured her as they walked towards the car.
He got into the driver’s seat with Leta and Joey beside him. The other four were in the back of the car. Premba drove off the car and they were headed for Ocho Rios and a night of partying.
***
Gaskell Burke sat in his office and began to think. He could do plenty of that now that he was no longer practicing. The weed was worth thousands of Jamaican dollars. Ken and Wally were experts and it was they who had priced it. King had sold the first amount of weed they had poached and had pocketed the money. It would be enough to pay Mose and Bucky leaving the four of them, each with a big cut. As for Brad and Jack, they didn’t count. He could always buy off Dickson with a good chunk of money. Both Brad and Jack had their bail set at fifteen thousand dollars each, and as far as he knew there were no takers. It meant that the two men could come to trial without being bailed.
In a short while he would have enough money to buy another house. He would probably go into the real estate business in a bigger way or the hotel business. After all Mc Creed had a hotel which as far as he had heard came out of the marijuana business. There was no way if he played his cards right, he couldn’t own one too.
In the twenty years that he had practiced law, this cut was the most amount of money he would see at any one time. Damn it, nobody was going to stop him from gaining control of a sizeable portion of the Jamaican drug market.
Bucky and Mose were good and were worth their fees. Ken was really an expert. On Saturday they would collect the money for the weed. He could hear the banging of the typewriter as Elaine, his secretary for the past five years, typed the few correspondence, he now sent out.
There was a knock on his door. He opened it to reveal Wally Judge standing in the doorway, a twitch of irritation crossed his forehead.
“Wally, glad to see you, come in.”
The short, bald headed man entered the office and sat himself down in a chair.
“What’s going on, Wally? Didn’t I tell you not to come here, remember that I’m still a professional man.”
“I know what you mean boss, but I was down at the camp, and Mose and Bucky caught one of McCreed’s men spying on them and he doesn’t want to talk.”
“What did you say?”
“Mose and Bucky should have forced him to talk already. Who’s he? Does he know anything about McCreed’s organization?” Burke flung the questions at him like a machine gun.
“He’s just a grower, one of the fighters, Churchill, knows him because they used to plant weed together. Bucky and Mose want to kill him if he doesn’t talk.”
“If he’s just a grower then why is he spying on us? Tell Bucky and Mose not to do anything until I come down there on Thursday.”
“They won’t, unless he tries something. He tried to knock out Mose, but he knocked him out instead.”
“Tell them to step up their vigilance. They’re in McCreed’s territory, so more than likely he’ll have people all over the place.”
“Bucky and Mose said that the man was alone when they caught him, but he was definitely spying on the camp. They don’t think he had time to alert anyone else.”
Burke looked through the windows right down to the sea at Newport West. It was a good view and he enjoyed it.
“Calm down, Burke. This one grower can’t do us any harm. Neither McCreed nor the police knows about us.”
Burke got up and drew the curtains; he switched off the lights and the air conditioning unit.
“Come, Wally, I’ll take you Downtown so you can take a bus back to St. Ann. We’ll talk some more in the car.”
“Elaine, I’ll soon be back. If anybody calls me, tell them to leave a message.”
The two men then went downstairs to Burke’s car.
***
Mose and Bucky had drilled Jacob without getting anything out of him.
All day the big, bearded marijuana farmer had been subjected to all forms of torture and yet his resolve didn’t break.
When Wally returned early Monday afternoon, they had given up any hope of getting anything out of the tortured man. They had debated between themselves as to what to do with him. Now Wally had brought back a reply and Mose had cut down Jacob in cold blood. They buried the marijuana grower and returned to work.
***
From up in the hills where they were spying on the training camp, Premba’s group witnessed the killing of Jacob. Of the group only Mallards didn’t know the dead man, but that didn’t stop him from swearing along with the others to get his killers.
***
Meanwhile Pinchie and Evert had recovered from their injuries and were now going about their normal business; however the partnership had broken up. Pinchie had come to check Evert about the replanting of their field and heard his woman, complaining that somebody had stolen one of her white sheets off her clothes line last month. He did some investigations and realized that Juliet was now along with Evert after refusing to have anything further to do with him. Angered by her rejection and his friend’s betrayal, he had confronted Evert and the villagers had to intervene to prevent them chopping up each other. Evert had sold his motorcycle and bought a Lada motor car which he was now running as a taxi. Pinchie alone was planting his field.

Chapter Twenty Two

“The boss says that we’re to attack the camp on Wednesday night and destroy it,” Ardez told them.
He, Grosset, Premba and Rattigan were in the room.
“We know that King, Brad and Jack are in jail. It is their gang, which is fighting against us. It means that there are other leaders of the gang that we don’t know about,” Ardez continued.
“We saw Churchill down there. I lined him up with my gun, but if I had shot him, they would have known that we knew about them,” Premba explained. “I was wondering who he was working for but it’s those guys who’s employing him.”
“We don’t need any more evidence than that,” Grosset agreed.
“The boss wants us to make it one thing and clean them out once and for all. This will be a mission of destruction,” Ardez stated.
“I’ve heard about Mose and Bucky before. Can’t say it was any good,” Rattigan told them.
“You wait until I catch them, I’m going to chop them up for what they did to Jacob,” Grosset threatened.
“You do that Grosset, I know of quite a few people and organizations, who want those two dead or alive, maybe they’ll even reward you for killing them,” Rattigan declared.
“Whoever is employing those two must have lots of money,” he finished.
“They must be paying them lots of money,” Grosset speculated.
“Jack Marriot, Brad Elliot, Danny King and their other gang leaders must have made some good money off that weed to be paying them so much,” Ardez stated.
“I think they’ve brought down those men to fight against us. I feel that they’re going to attack the Factory and the boss’ house because they can’t reach us up here,” Grosset opined
“I just hope we catch the top men this time,” Premba stated. “I’m sort of tired of going all over the island looking for them.”
“The gang’s big, about twenty men. Bucky and Mose have about six men under each of them. The big men don’t stay down there, they only go there to plan strategy,” Premba continued.
“We might have to take one of them prisoner and make them tell us where their bosses are,” Ardez told them.
“Are you certain that those two women won’t tell Mose and Bucky about us?” Grosset asked.
“They liked us and the money that we gave them was plenty more than what they got from those two guys,” Premba assured them.
“From the information we have, the camp is guarded
around the clock. We’re going to attack them at around eleven o’clock. Premba will be the group commander, he and Grosset will lead the attack. Rattigan will be the technician on the raid,” Ardez explained.
“We’re going in fast and coming out fast, only Bucky and Mose are expected to give us any trouble. Although the house is made of block and steel, it has a zinc roof. Once we set the roof on fire they will have to`come out. When they rush out we can pick them off one by one.”
“How long is this operation timed to last?” Grosset asked.
“Two hours, the trucks are leaving at one o’clock. Don’t make it leave you, because we aren’t doing any search and rescue operations.”
“Real commando style operation,” Grosset remarked.
“Those guys want war and we’re going to give it to them,” Ardez opined.
“It surprises me how those two tripped up themselves so easily. From what I’ve heard about them, they’re top notch fighters. I’ve a feeling that they’re getting old and careless or else they’re treating this job like a vacation,” Rattigan remarked.
“How are we going to get rid of the guards?” Grosset inquired.
Rattigan lit a fresh cigarette, Premba lit a cigar off it.
“They change every six hours and they start watching from seven o’clock. They change at twelve o’clock and that’s why we’re going to attack them at that time as we believe that they won’t be fully alert. Premba says he’s going to let Lance and Decker take care of them and then we can firebomb the house.”
“We’re taking our best marksmen with us,” Premba stated.
Ardez looked at the map Premba had given him, he went to the wall and pinned it up.
“We have a map of the place,” he told them. He took up a piece of stick.
“I didn’t know Premba was such a good artist,” Rattigan remarked.
“It’s Joey, his father taught him. He used to do it before he started planting weed,” Premba told them.
“It’s a big house, about five bedrooms and everybody sleeps there. It seems as if it’s sponge they sleep on because we saw them sunning them. You see that it’s in a valley and how high the hills are. To reach there we have to come through the pass where they post the guards. After Lance and Decker get rid of them, Rattigan and Troja will move in and throw their firebombs on the house.”
“Premba’s group will move in and take up a position facing the front of the house. Grosset’s group will come in and face the rear of the house. Rattigan, Decker, Troja and Lance will be controlling the northern end of the pass. Some of Grosset’s and Premba’s fighters will be to the south, so nobody can escape.”
“We aren’t going to rush them because once the house catches fire, they’re going to rush out. As I said before, we can pick them off one by one,” Ardez finished.
“They go out every night? If that’s so they might see us coming in and make an alarm. As far as I hear, the whole camp was out on Friday night,” Grosset remarked.
“As this is a Wednesday, I doubt if they’ll be going out. My bet is that this is Mose and Bucky’s final week in Jamaica,” Ardez stated.
“There’s no discipline at that camp? You think that Mose and Bucky can control their men?” Grosset asked.
“That’s true Grosset, but they made a mistake when they left their base and went to party with Leta and Tena. The guys whom they’re training, aren’t going to take them seriously again. I
feel that they’re going to run once we start shooting at them,” Premba stated.
“If those two flunk up on this job they won’t be worth one hundred dollars per job after this. That’s how low the underworld rates failures. I was wondering if they came down here through any of those syndicates,” Rattigan speculated.
“You mean our enemies are working through a syndicate. Hell, I doubt that,” Ardez opined.
“They must have some contacts in the States. How else could they have reached here?” Rattigan asked.
“How do they get their contracts?” Premba asked.
“The trend is to work through an agent or a syndicate. Those guys work alone,” Rattigan replied.
“It’s a whole lot of people involved. But we must find out who they are,” Ardez told them.
“Anybody who’s hiding behind them will have to come out when we hit them,” Grosset remarked.
“We’re going to flush them out, Grosset,” Ardez agreed.
“I hope that all of you understand about the raid. Remember to pack your war bags with plenty of bullets. After you leave here you are to report back with your fighters by twelve
o’clock to begin training for the mission. Tomorrow we’re going to have a final briefing with all of the fighters, who are going on the raid. That’s going to start at four o’clock. You’ll be leaving here at seven o’clock,” he finished.
“Suppose we meet any policemen?” Grosset asked.
“K’s people will be pulling all patrols from the roads you’ll be taking. They don’t know about the camp and by the time they hear about it you would have returned to base,” Ardez replied.
He would have liked to have gone with them, but he had set up something with Yasmin for later tomorrow night. He had been sleeping with her for about a week now, he knew that Rattigan was sleeping with her too, having almost put out Camilla, who was sleeping in a back room of his shack. He had wanted to sleep with her, but she had refused him. He gave Yasmin money and other gifts. She would come to him late at nights after hearing his coded whistle and they would bed down in Pennant’s shack. As he thought about her he couldn’t help smiling to himself at the way the girl had virtually landed in his bed.
“It’s time to go to work,” he said as the rest stood up and filed out of the room.
***
The night was cool outside, but Bendoo felt hot and suffocating in his cell. The man, who had brought him his food, was reluctant to say anything about what was happening, but something was going on as in the morning there was a lot of shooting and shouting as if there was training going on. By now McDonald must have written off the mission as a failure. Maybe the raid they were training for would provide him with a chance to escape.
***
“I’m glad that you caught the man, who was spying on us,
Mose,” Burke congratulated him. They were sitting in the room that had been Jacob’s prison before his demise.
“We don’t know what he wanted. No amount of torture could make him talk so we decided to kill him like you ordered,” Mose replied.
There were five of them in the room.
“It’s one of McCreed’s fighters, he’s spying for him,” Wally put in.
“We went for a walk up on top of the hill. Heard a tree limb shake and there he was up in it,” Bucky told them.
“Wonder if he alerted any of his friends?” Burke asked.
“Hardly likely, I have a feeling that he has a field somewhere near here and that’s how he saw us. We made some searches for the field, but with no success so far,” Bucky replied.
Mose smiled to himself, Bucky had provided adequate cover for both of them.
“I don’t think we have anything to fear. Any more of them and you give them the same medicine,” Burke ordered.
“You let them come, they’ll taste hot lead like they’ve never tasted it before,” Mose warned.
“You’ll do Mose, you’ll do. I hope that you can put those words into action on Sunday night. Ever imagined yourself pumping a belly full of that bazooka of yours into McCreed?” Burke asked.
“Sure, I have, I just can’t wait for Bucky and me to rip into them. Hell, it will be like chicken feed.”
“I want McCreed destroyed, Mose, so we are depending on you and Bucky to do it for us.”
Benn Sanderson lit a cigarette.
“Suppose they beat us, Burke?” Wally Judge asked.
Mose and Bucky turned to look at him.
“Bucky and I’ll go it alone, Wally,” Mose declared.
“We’re paying them too much money for them to foul up on this operation. They know that if they fail, their international reputations will be permanently damaged,” Burke warned.
“We won’t fail, Burke, you can bet on it. We’ve survived too many wars. We’ll win this one and many others to come,” Bucky stated.
“I hope so, Bucky, Ken’s due down here tomorrow. Benny and Wally will be staying until Saturday. Dickson will be down here tomorrow too.”
“I’m returning to Kingston but I’ll be back down here
on Friday. You know that I have an office to run.”
***
Fred hung up the phone after talking to Lorena about Paul Eason; the damned fool had messed up bad. He had denied everything, denied that he knew him in college in the United States and that it was he who had set him up on her. The girl was in tears and had slammed down the phone on him, after vowing never to talk to him again. He should have used Rory, but he wasn’t sure he could control that man and he didn’t have the kind of goods on him that he had on Paul. He had pictures of him peddling drugs and handling weapons that he could always show to Lorena if he fell out of line. If Wednesday’s raid was successful, he would begin to move. He would teach her a lesson. Without her dad she would be a pawn in his hands. At Wareika he had a loyal commander in Grosset and he would come in handy when he started to move against Mc Creed.
***
Ken Stone arrived from Miami that Wednesday afternoon and decided to stay with his other woman and son in Linstead.

Chapter Twenty Three

On Wednesday the Wareikans stuck to their agenda and by seven-thirty that evening they made their way down to where the trucks were waiting for them. The prospect of getting the killers of Niah and Jacob had given the fighters new energy.
Premba led his men down into the valley, they wore camouflage uniforms. They carried the heavy M-16 assault rifles, taken from a quantity that had just arrived via a marijuana flight. Grosset’s group had been given a fifteen-minute lead as they had the more difficult terrain to climb to reach their positions.
They would be attacking from the east and southeast and Premba’s group from the west and north.
When Premba was sure that the others had taken up their positions, he ordered Lance and Decker to go for the guards. The two men crept forward, knowing that when their task was completed, they would take over the guards’ post and turn their guns on the house not firing until Premba started shooting.
They were to give an owl call once their mission was accomplished, then Rattigan and Troja would creep forward and throw their firebombs on the house. Once the roof caught fire Premba would give the signal to open up.
The night was black as the two fighters crept forward, they could make out the figures of the two men seated on the ground their backs against a bamboo bench. They were almost asleep, but trying desperately to stay awake.
“You take the one on the right and I’ll take the one on the left,” Lance whispered in Decker’s ears.
The two men moved in fast on the half asleep guards. Both men knocked out the two guards, they then tied them up.
At Lance’s owl call, Rattigan and Troja started throwing their firebombs on the house. There were loud explosions as the bombs ripped into the roof of the house and fire was roaring when Premba told his men to open fire on the house.
“What the hell,” Mose shouted, jumping off his sponge. “We’re being attacked!”
Wally and Benny were up too.
“Grab your guns and return fire,” Bucky shouted.
“The house is on fire,” Mose shouted as men rushed for guns.
“Who’s attacking us?” Wally asked.
An answer came almost immediately.
“We’re the police so come out with your hands in the air,” Premba shouted. “Or we’ll destroy the house.”
“Go to hell,” Mose shouted as a bullet flew over his head and he saw a man pitch sideways, fall and lay still. It was the first man hit as far as he could tell.
“He’s dead,” a trainee fighter who went to examine the man told them.
“Throw out the sponges, before they catch fire,” Mose ordered. At lease three fighters began throwing them out.
He grabbed up a gun and joined the others in returning the fire. The rooftop was blazing like a towering inferno and would soon cave in. Mose knew from the heavy blasts of their attackers’ guns, that they were using M-16s and AK-47s.
He knew that in this house they stood no chance because the bullets were ripping through some of the empty block pockets. If they didn’t die by bullets, they would surely die by fire.
The men in the house were firing through the open doorways, windows or cracks in the building walls, but they had no targets to shoot at as their attackers were hiding behind rocks and trees.
Mose and Bucky were moving from room to room, directing the fighters as to what to do as they tried to repel the attack.
Grosset’s men were also firing randomly at the house, the roof, which was now a furnace. The survivors were coughing up smoke.
“What do we do now, Mose?” Wally asked through the suffocating heat and smoke. They were in the big living room. They could hear the fire eating at the ceiling boards.
“I can’t take any more of this, they just killed Fuzzie and Churchill got shot in his leg,” a trainee fighter said. He coughed in the heat and smoke.
“Where are the guards, Bucky?” Mose asked.
“They must be dead or knocked out,” Wally choked out. He coughed.
Bucky looked at Mose.
“The roof, Mose, it’ll soon cave in, we have to get out of here.”
“They have us surrounded,” Mose replied. “This place is hell, feel the heat, if we don’t get out of here soon, we’ll be roasted alive. Hey you guys, stop shooting, maybe they’ll think that there’s not many of us left and decide to rush us.”
“You think those guys are idiots. They know that we can’t stay in the house, so they aren’t going to rush us. All they have to do is wait. You know how long I’ve been warning you about staying in this house because we’re in McCreed’s territory and he has spies all over. You guys don’t know about that man, but I can tell you that he is a wicked son of a bitch,” Churchill said. “If it wasn’t for you two guys, who don’t know anything about Jamaica, this would never have happened.”
He groaned from the bullet wound to his leg.
“Any private grievances you have against us, we can settle them when this is over,” Mose shouted.
“I’ve lost some good friends already guy, you remember that. I know New York and Miami just like you two. If I ever get through this I’m going to make sure to find you over there,” Churchill warned.
“Let’s settle it right here with this bad guy Mose,” Bucky demanded.
“You guys cool it,” Benny said. “It doesn’t make any sense we start fighting among ourselves and those men are out there shooting at us.”
Churchill didn’t reply, he tried to sit up against the wall. Suddenly he screamed and pitched sideways as a bullet ripped into his right shoulder.
Men dived for new cover.
“Concentrate your fire on the house, and don’t waste bullets,” Premba ordered. “They’ll soon make a run for it or surrender.”
It was his bullet that had just wounded Churchill.
“We only have thirty-five minute left for this to be over, they should be out by now. I’m wondering how many of them are alive,” Mallards inquired.
Premba fired a burst of sub-machine gun fire at a window, then looked at Mallards who was beside him.
“There are about a dozen of them or so left, we have them surrounded. They’re going to try to rush us, but we’ll mow them down,” he replied.
“They don’t look like they have anything heavier than the M-16,” Mallards remarked.
“It doesn’t appear as if they’re that well organized, but I’m glad. If it was us they’d attacked, we’d have wiped them out already,” Premba told him.
Benny lay on the floor; cinders of fire from the roof were falling around him.
“How the hell did they know that we were here?” he asked.
Bucky looked at him.
“They don’t seem to be police, they must be McCreed’s fighters.”
“What! How did they know about us? That grower mightn’t have been alone,” Wally remarked.
Mose nodded in agreement with him.
“Ken’s lucky that he’s not here.”
“I bet he’s still in Miami,” Benny remarked.
Wally grunted.
“I thought Dickson would have been down here too.”
“What difference would he have made?” Benny scoffed.
Bucky and Mose were firing burst after burst of lead at their attackers without having yet scored a hit.
Benny spun over on his back.
“Let’s make a run for it. How many fighters do we have left?” he asked.
“We have about eight left,” Bucky replied. “There isn’t much point staying here. Some of us might make it if we try, if we stay, none of us will.”
“If we rush out there it will be suicide,” a trainee fighter remarked. He was tall and bearded and had surmised that as he wasn’t wanted by the police he might stand a chance of getting off with a light sentence.
“Let’s surrender to the police peacefully,” he advised.
“You want to go first?” Mose asked. “Those men out there are McCreed’s men. We go out there with our hands in the air and we’d all be mowed down.”
A piece of firewood dropped on Wally and scorched his neck. He gave a cry of pain and jumped up putting his hands to his neck only to be knocked down by the force of a bullet to his left leg.
Mose went and bent over Wally, who lay on his back.
“How do you feel? Can you move?” he asked.
“Yes, I can move,” he choked.
“To hell with them,” Benny said. “If we stay here like this they’re going to wipe us out. We have to try to escape.”
“Don’t forget Gus McCreed, what we’ve seen here tonight, just goes to show the son of a bitch we’re dealing with. If we ever get through here we’re going after him personally, Burke or no Burke,” Bucky declared.
“Well, I am not dying in Jamaica. I want that money from Burke. Bucky are you ready?” Mose asked.
They rushed through the doors shooting as they came. Bucky and three of the fighters rushed to where Grosset’s group was.
The three fighters were cut down within a few meters after leaving the house. Bucky survived the deadly fire by falling to the ground and rolling into some bushes.
Grosset had seen his movements and fired at him but missed and Bucky fired at him and missed also. Grosset jumped into the bushes as Bucky’s gun fell from his grasp. The two men met headlong.
Grosset grabbed Bucky’s neck intending to break it, but Bucky grabbed his hands and writhed out of his hold and jumped up. He spied the machete and dived for it. Grosset came after him and dived under his wild swing.
Grosset dived for Bucky’s legs and brought him crashing to the ground and the machete flew out of his grasp. He tried to flick Grosset over his head, but the man was too heavy for him. Grosset kicked at Bucky’s head and missed as the man dodged the kick and instead kicked him in his belly. The giant groaned and fell and Bucky seeing no other way of defeating this man rushed for the machete again. Grosset was on his feet in a flash and in two strides caught up with Bucky. A right hook to the side of Bucky’s head sent him flat on his back. Grosset followed it up with a kick to Bucky’s side, but he only spun over and rushed him with the machete. Grosset again ducked under his wild swing and drove a left and right combination to Bucky’s belly. He dropped the machete and doubled up in pain. The giant sprinted for the razor sharp machete and aimed it at Bucky’s neck. But at the last moment Bucky flung himself away and rolled down a hill.
Men rushed up to Grosset.
“You got him, Grosset?” Lance asked as the giant vented his frustrations and looked down at the gully in which Bucky had fallen.
“It seems like it was Bucky if Rattigan’s pictures are right. I hope he breaks his neck. He’s no fighter. Rattigan built him up too much. Where’s Mose?” Grosset asked.
Mose and two of the men had rushed to the area where Premba’s group was. The two men were cut down within a few meters of leaving the house. Mose was all alone when he came upon Butler. He aimed the gun at him, but when he found that it was jammed, he dived at the man’s legs and brought him down, sending his gun spinning out of his hand. Both men fell heavily, but quick as a flash were upon their feet again. Butler rushed at Mose and hit him in his belly. Mose grunted, but stood his ground and hit Butler under the heart, making him gasp for breath. He kicked Butler in his knee, sending him to the ground, and then he spied the machete and rushed for it. He would put a speedy end to this fight. Mose grabbed the machete and rushed at Butler who lay prostrate on the ground. He chopped down at his neck, but the man twisted away from the machete as it dug into the earth.
Butler grabbed hold of Mose’s ankle and twisted it and flung him to the ground, making him lose hold of the machete. Both men sprang up and came at each other.
Butler drove a right hook to Mose’s stomach, which staggered him. Mose came in kicking at him, but missed. Butler bucked him in his belly and he fell. Butler went after the machete. Mose saw his actions and jumped up and came after Butler, who had just grabbed hold of the machete. Butler swung it, but Mose went under it and rolled away. Butler picked up a huge stone and threw at him. It caught him on his right shoulder almost dislocating it.
“The trucks are moving out, we only have five minutes to catch them,” Premba shouted, and men were already moving out.
Butler jumped down a gully, but Mose made a huge jump and was gone down another gully. Butler hissed his teeth, grabbed up his machete and gun and started after the others.
The man with Wally and Benny was cut down by the
gunfire coming from the group of Rattigan, Troja and Decker. Wally and Benny had dropped in the grass and rolled down into a gully. Errol by seeming to drop dead immediately he left the house and then crawling into some bushes survived the deadly hail of fire. Churchill had done the same thing as Errol and managed to hide in the thick bushes.
Butler was the last of Premba’s group to reach the truck just as it was moving off. He threw up his gun, machete and war bag into the moving vehicle. Three of the men drew up his great weight into it. All the trucks were now moving, the time was two minutes past two o’clock.
Mose lay in the thick bushes, he was feeling excruciating pain from the blow the man had given him with the stone. Where was Bucky? He knew that Wally and Benny were alive as he had seen them rolling down a hill.
“Bucky!” he shouted.
All that Churchill had said about them was true. He and Bucky had handled this job like two amateurs and had paid the price. He had to get attention for his injured shoulder. Bucky must be dead.
Who had betrayed them? It couldn’t be Burke, he
hadn’t yet collected on the marijuana so it hardly made sense. It had to be either the two women or Errol. It was all his fault, Bucky had been reluctant to go. Their mission had failed.
***
Errol had come out of the bushes now. He heard running footsteps and knew that their attackers were moving out. He had changed sides on two occasions from King to Brad and Jack and then to Burke and had lost out in the end, thanks to those two fools, Mose and Bucky. He picked up an M-16 rifle and checked the magazine. It was full, this must be the one carried by Benn Sanderson, who hadn’t fired a shot. He rifled through several pockets without finding anything. The house was now a burnt out shell so there was nothing to be taken there.
The best thing for him to do was to find out where Burke was, threaten to expose him and get some money out
of him since the weed wasn’t yet sold. Burke could have murder charges hanging over his head if he talked and they found Jacob’s body. Then he remembered that neither Ken Stone nor Dickson Lunan were here. Had Ken and Burke set them up or had McCreed found out about them? Maybe the answer lay in Leta and Tena, in any case he had to see them, then try to get to Burke before anybody else did. He picked up the M-16 and moved off. It was best to get away from here. He knew that several of the trainee fighters were dead. The high pungent smell of roasted human flesh assailed his nostrils. A few seconds later he came upon Mose.
“Where is Bucky?” Errol asked.
“Don’t know,” Mose replied. He was holding his injured right shoulder.
“I’m going to look around to find out how many of us are alive. We have to get out of here before the police arrive,” Errol told him.

Chapter Twenty Four

Bendoo lay sleeping on the damp crocus bags. There was a knock on the door and he rolled over. The knock was heavier the second time.
“Bendoo, Bendoo,” a female voice called out softly. It was definitely Camilla, Rattigan’s woman.
“Bendoo, wake up, the camp is almost empty. It’s time for you to escape.”
He rose up and went to the little window. He saw Camilla; she gave him a hammer, screwdriver and a machete for him to take off the door. He worked hard at the heavy door and finally got the hinges off. He felt tired and weak and didn’t venture outside but waited.
“Bendoo, have you got the door off? The guards aren’t here yet.”
He gently pushed the door to one side and came through it. He knelt and closed it back. Camilla was kneeling on the other side of the door.
He looked over at the guard tower in the big guangoo tree and beside the trail. He wondered if they noticed his movements. Camilla handed him one of Rattigan’s AK-47s plus a magazine for the gun. She lay in the grass with her bag around her shoulders.
“Crawl along the grass until you reach the back,” he told her.
They crawled along the tall grass until they reached the rear of his former prison. They were out of view of the lookout positions.
“Where are Premba and the rest of the men?”
“They’re on a raid in the country to destroy a guerilla training camp, Karl said.”
So they had found the camp, he thought to himself. If they were successful, he suspected that they would be looking to kill him when they returned. Mc Creed might reward them for a successful raid with his killing.
“Those men might be returning soon so we have to get out of here now,” he told her.
“We have to get around the guards and get on to the trail,” she told him.
“It’s better we go through the bushes so we don’t meet them when they are returning,” he opined.
“Let’s go now,” Bendoo told her. “Keep your head down.”
They crawled slowly in the high grass until they reached the
edge of the settlement. She held on to him as they made their way through the bushes. They had only gone about two hundred meters when they heard shouts behind them.
“Bendoo has escaped!”
“Did you hear that?” he asked her.
“What do we do now?” she asked, holding on to his hand.
“We keep on moving, they might be making up a search party right now. I’m sure they are going to post guards along the trail.”
They would have to reach the road very soon. It was likely that they would have the place surrounded. But they had to get out before the fighters returned.
They were some distance east of the trail. Bendoo knew that by now they would have guards posted along it. Yet they couldn’t hear them as they moved through the bushes.
“Ardez will kill me if he catches me, Bendoo.”
“Why, what have you done to him?”
“He wanted me to sleep with him, when I refused, he threatened to lie to Karl about me sleeping with you.”
Knowing Ardez, Bendoo didn’t doubt her words.
“Did you know that he is sleeping with Yasmin? She’s gotten herself so mixed up, I don’t know what will happen when they find out that she’s been sleeping with all three of them.”
He shook his head.
“I never knew that Yasmin was like that.”
“Bendoo, did you know that Karl has been with some women from Mountain View?”
He shook his head again. He had seen him leaving the camp, mostly on Friday and Saturday nights; maybe that was where he was going.
He stood up and took her hand. If Ardez had men watching the escape routes then it would be suicide to have Wood come and wait on them.
Ardez was lying beside Yasmin in the afterglow of their lovemaking, and was waiting to have a second session. The fighters were due back any time now and he knew that Bendoo was a dead man. The girl had dozed off, he felt himself dozing off too, but hearing the shouts he jumped up waking her up.
“What’s happening?” she asked as he put on his clothes.
“Bendoo escaped, put on your clothes, but don’t come out until the way is clear.”
He rushed towards Bendoo’s cell, it was empty. He swore under his breath. The guard came up to him.
“I was on duty and went to the bathroom, when I returned, he was gone.”
“Okay, all of you spread out and look for him and shoot to kill. Chester, I know that you’re useless and you see if we don’t find him it’s you who’s going to take his place. Those guys say that when they return from the raid they’re going to fire every bullet they have left at him. Four of you come with me, let’s go and patrol the trail. Any of you know who helped him?”
“I feel that it was Rattigan’s woman, I’ve seen her coming
from his shack several times,” Chester volunteered.
“Go down to Rattigan’s shack and see if she’s there,” Ardez directed the man.
He took out a cigarette and lit it while he waited on the fighter.
He had nearly finished smoking his cigarette when Chester returned.
“I don’t see her down there, neither Yasmin.”
“What a wicked woman,” Ardez shouted. “It’s Rattigan’s fault, if he didn’t start sleeping with Yasmin this would never have happened. As for Camilla, I must shoot her, you know how many times I’ve told her that I wanted to sleep with her and all this time she was sleeping with Bendoo.”
“We have to either capture or kill him. I suspect that he’ll be having some of his colleagues come to pick him up. We’re going down to Wareika Road. The fighters should soon be here so they can help us search for him,” he finished.
For Bendoo and Camilla it was a race against time. Ardez and his men were headed towards Wareika Road, four women with hand guns went with them.
“We have to make it, because if they capture us they’re going to kill us. We have about ten minutes left. Karl ever told you anything about the AK-47?”
“He taught me how to use it, he said it was the Russian version of the M-I6.”
“He should know,” he replied as they made tentative steps through the bushes.
They could hear crickets and other night insects screeching.
Camilla coughed.
“Wished we had a light.”
“We would be dead by now,” Bendoo replied.
Camilla held on to the limb of a small tree, Bendoo jerked her away and flung her to the ground just as a bullet ripped into the tree.
“They know where we are, we have to move faster,” he said taking hold of her hand.
Shots were piercing the bushes in their wake. He held her hand as they went through the bushes at a fast pace. If they stayed they would be cornered and killed.
Suddenly lights showed and he knew that they were near the road. He could hear the constant shouting of their pursuers. They wormed their way through some thick bushes and there was the road.
“There is a man who runs an illegal telephone facility just up the road. Stay in the bushes and don’t move. I’m going to call Woody,” he told her and started off.
Five minutes later, he returned.
“He’s giving us fifteen minutes to reach the pickup spot.”
“Do we go across it, Bendoo?”
“We wait here, Woody will pick us up. To go across that road would be suicide.”
They were in the shadows of some trees, when four men burst out of the trail and on to the road.
“They aren’t far from here, I don’t think they went across the road,” Bravo, one of Pennant’s fighters stated.
“They might still be in the bushes; we fired some shots after them. I doubt if any of them got hit because I heard them running after that. They are around somewhere, one of us should go and call Ardez,” Brownman, another of Pennant’s fighters, told them.
A car appeared from down the road cruising slowly along.
“That’s Woody,” Bendoo told her excitedly. “Run towards the car, I will cover you.”
Camilla got up and ran towards the car with Bendoo behind her, firing at the Wareikans who dived for cover. The four men were caught by surprise, Wood seeing what was happening had also fired his service revolver. Bravo was shot in the left shoulder and Brownman in his left leg as they raced for cover.
Camilla and Bendoo jumped into the car.
“Step on it, Woody,” Bendoo shouted. “This place is going to be all hell in a few seconds.”
Wood needed no prodding, he spun the car around and raced down the road just as Ardez and the others reached the road and began pouring lead in the direction of the departing car. Bendoo replied with the AK-47 rifle, while Wood kept zigzagging the car in an effort to throw off their attackers aim and Chester was shot in his abdomen and upper left thigh in the crossfire. Finally, they rounded a corner and the firing ceased. They had only gone a few meters when two trucks bearing men in camouflaged uniforms passed them.
“It’s the Wareikans returning from that raid,” Bendoo shouted.
“My God and I thought that they were some soldiers,” Wood expressed his surprise.
“You think they’ll come after you, Bendoo?” Camilla asked.
“Those trucks could never catch us. Still, Woody, if I were you I would take some side roads, because you never know what those men might do.”
Another thirty minutes and they were on Molynes Road and Wood drove into the parking lot of the apartment court. All three of them jumped out and hurried up to Bendoo’s apartment.
“I think we shot some of those guys,” Bendoo stated.
“I saw them diving for cover,”Wood replied.
“We should find that out in the morning,” Bendoo told him.
“I hope that you never told anybody about this place, Bendoo.”
“No,” Bendoo replied, as he headed for the bathroom.
When he returned, he saw Camilla seated on a sofa talking to Wood.
“Everybody except the Chief and I gave you up as dead, Bendoo.”
“What do you mean by everybody?” Bendoo asked, feeling annoyed.
“The Minister and the army top men knew about your mission.”
“I found out that at least four policemen are on McCreed’s payroll.”
“You know who they are?” Wood asked.
“I found out three of their names.”
Camilla was nodding.
“You want to sleep, Camilla?” Bendoo asked as he went over to her and took her hands. She took up the bag she had brought with her.
“I’m going to show her where to sleep, Woody.”
He led her down the passage and opened a door. Inside was a big divan bed, a dresser, a chest of drawers and a reading lamp. He pointed out the bathroom to her. She went into her room and closed the door behind her.
When he returned, Wood was drinking a beer.
“Hey, I hope that you didn’t turn my apartment into a boarding house.”
“You should know me better than that. From those guys heard that you were gone away and I was in charge of your apartment they came down on me wanting to rent it. Some of them are still angry with me because I refused.”
“I know that you’re lying, but I know certain men, who can’t keep a secret.”
“I can bet you that none of those guys can tell you that I lent out your apartment to them.”
Bendoo lit a cigarette.
“So they found out about you, Bendoo?”
“Yes, it’s Fred Billings I heard who found out, though I’m not sure he didn’t get help from that senior police officer I’ve been telling you about. It was she, who rescued me.”
He pointed to the room where Camilla was.
Wood looked in the direction Bendoo had pointed.
“It seems as if they wiped out the other gang. This looks dangerous, we have to raid Wareika.”
“We have to talk to the Chief tomorrow.”
“Delbert, I don’t understand how you guys let Brad and Jack and their gang escape from the warehouse with all that weed.”
“The men, who were watching the warehouse, said that they got a call about a robbery and went to investigate. When they returned, the warehouse was empty.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t a hoax, they went on?”
“It was a big robbery, which took place, they had to
chase the robber’s way down to Riverton City. They killed one of them and held the other two with the money.”
“It seems that a lot of things happened that day, but I still feel we should never have let those men elude us. I just feel that the outcome of all this might be what we saw those men returning from.”
“The Chief was angry about it, but they said it was due to a shortage of personnel.”
“There is something else I must tell you. Brad Elliot and Jack Marriot were held by the police down in St. Ann. They found an illegal gun in their car. Also, we picked up Danny King at the airport, he was on his way out of the island.”
Bendoo digested the information Wood was providing
“I got that information just before they caught me. But do you have any idea, which gang the Wareikans went to fight?”
“I think whoever they were, they were affiliated to
those men we recently arrested. Remember that Brad and Jack were probably on their way to a meeting, when the police held them. I don’t know why Danny King was leaving the island.”
“We’ll soon find that out. Also, why Ruddy Brown and G.C Cox were shot?” Bendoo stated.
“I’m going to let my car remain at your home until this is over because they might have a description of it.”
“That’s no problem, I’ll come and pick you up tomorrow, and don’t bother to overdo it.”
Bendoo was looking for something to throw at him, but he had already descended two flights of stairs.
He stood up and looked around the room; it was the same as he had left it. He had no doubt that Wood had brought some of his women here. He went down the passage after turning off the lights. After a bath he went to his room. He was glad that it was a two bedroom apartment. In any case, if it was only one bedroom, he would have been prepared to sleep on the couch in order to let Camilla have her own privacy. He switched off the lights after making sure that the AK-47 was where it could be reached in case of an emergency.
***
Gaskell Burke had slept alone that night. He had a disturbing feeling from the moment he went to bed. He had left everything at the camp in order, so it couldn’t be that. He showered, put on his robe and then came downstairs for the breakfast that his housekeeper had prepared for him. The news was just about to be read when he finished his last cup of coffee.
There was something in it about the violence in Downtown, Kingston and some other domestic news, which hardly interested him. Then he got a shocker, ‘Gang war in St. Ann, eight men killed and house razed to the ground. Police on the scene nab several wounded men.’ The news flash was too short. He wanted more information about what had happened.
It wasn’t the police who had done it. It had to be McCreed’s gunmen. The numbers suggested that several persons had escaped. He wondered who they could be? Could it be Ken, Benny, Wally, Mose or Bucky who had survived? On the other hand it could be some of the trainees. He should have known. The weed was at the warehouse in Kingston, he alone couldn’t handle it. And how would he get it shipped? He had to get in touch with Ken’s people to let them know what had happened. He would keep out of circulation for a few days by going to Portland and stay at one of the guesthouses down there. The only man, who could be of any use to him was Ken but if the man had been down there or had heard of the tragedy, he wasn’t sure what state of mind he was in. Whoever had survived, he knew he wasn’t safe until he knew who they were and then he could decide on what action to take. He also had to think about Lunan and the fact that King, Brad and Jack were still in jail but could get bail anytime.
He rose from the table, his steps almost faltered as he headed for his bedroom. Ten minutes later he went out to his car and drove away.
***
Bendoo was asleep when he heard a knock on his door. He wondered where he was. Then he remembered what had happened last night. He put on a robe and went to answer the door.
Camilla was there.
“I took the liberty of making breakfast for both of us,” she told him. She had on fresh clothes, that she had taken with her in the travelling bag she had been carrying.
“I’m going to have a bath. So how do you feel this morning?”
“Couldn’t be better, knowing that I’ve escaped from Wareika.”
“Glad to know,” he told her.
She left and went back to the kitchen.
He sat on the bed and turned on the radio. It was nine thirty and he knew that the news would have some information about the raid. It was time to get into action. Wareika had to be captured.
He knew that had Grosset and Premba had their way he would have been killed instantly.
When he came out of the bathroom, she had eggs, bacon, bread and coffee on the table.
They had just sat down to eat when there was a knock on the door; it was followed by three hard ones evenly timed.
“That’s Woody, open the door for him, Camilla.”
Delbert Wood came into the room looking very sleepy.
“Your food smells good,” he said. “I can bet that it’s not you who cooked it, Bendoo. You see how I took care of the apartment; I’ll give you the bill later.”
“You care for a cup of coffee?” Camilla asked him.
“Yes,” Wood replied. He settled on one of the sofas
and reached for an ashtray. He took out a cigarette and lit it. He looked at the silently eating Bendoo and smiled.
“You look hungry, Bendoo, you’ve lost weight too,” he remarked.
“They had me in a one room cell feeding me on bread and water,” Bendoo replied as Camilla passed Wood his coffee.
“Is it ten o’clock yet?” Bendoo asked.
“About two minutes to. Why?” Wood asked.
“I want to hear the latest news, maybe they have something about that raid last night.”
“I’m coming to that,” Wood said as he took a sip of his coffee.
“This coffee really tastes good,” he remarked downing the rest of it.
“They killed eight men, but we believe that more bodies could be in the burnt out buildings. Police on the scene say it seems as if a war took place. They said that they found hundreds of spent shells down there. That was where we saw the Wareika gang coming from last night.”
He looked somber as he finished.
“Eight men dead in one night, there will be hell to pay. The Chief must be under pressure.”
“If he’s under pressure, we have to go and help him out. He doesn’t know that you were captured and that you’ve escaped.”
Bendoo had stopped eating. Camilla stared in stony silence.
“Where did it happen, Woody?”
“Down at Groves Valley in St. Ann. They had a big meeting with the Minister. He is demanding that we raid Wareika.”
“We have to attack them, but not yet. They’re some really bad guys up there who need to be taken care of. But as I said, one of our senior officers is passing information to them.”
“What do you think the other gang wanted, Bendoo?”
“They wanted to take over the drug running from McCreed.”
“Karl told me that they wanted McCreed out. That’s why they brought down Mose and Bucky. He said that both of them have worked with nearly every major drug gang in the United States and are extremely dangerous. He said that several security agencies have them on their most wanted list. They were training men to attack McCreed.”
“How did McCreed find out about them?” Wood asked.
“Karl never said how they found out. All he said was that they had gotten careless and would pay for it with their lives.”
“What about the shoot out we had with those guys? Anything further?”
“I haven’t heard anything, maybe the Chief will be able to update us some more,” Wood told him.
“I’m going to put on some clothes and you and I can go and check the chief, Woody. I’ll take the rifle with me,” Bendoo said. He rose from the table, went down the passageway and into his bedroom leaving Wood and Camilla.
***
Ken Stone had left the Linstead flat of his woman that morning, telling her that he was going to do some business in Ocho Rios. He hadn’t heard the early morning news as they had spent half the night making love. It was eight thirty and he was just approaching Ewarton, when he turned on the car radio and heard the news flash. Eight men killed at Groves Valley. He immediately pulled off the road and waved a passing motorist on. The man let out a string of bad words, but Ken wasn’t taking him on. What the hell had happened? The whole camp had nearly been wiped out. He got out of the car and went to buy a pack of cigarettes and a stout in a nearby bar. As he drank his stout and smoked his cigarettes, he thought over what to do next. As he had told Patsy that he was going to Ocho Rios, it might be best for him to go down there. He could then go on to St. Ann’s Bay and keep his ears open to hear about what had happened to his colleagues. Had Burke betrayed them? Why did he want him, Wally, Dickson and Benny to stay at the camp from Wednesday night when the marijuana wasn’t due to be picked up until Saturday? On the other hand the man, whom Bucky and Mose had caught spying on the camp, may not have been alone. He knew that the two men were party-goers and maybe that was what had happened. They had gone partying with some local women, been seen and followed down to the hideout by McCreed’s men. But just who had survived, that was the big question. But that wasn’t important, he had to get to Burke fast before the police pulled him in.
Chapter Twenty Five

Gus McCreed had heard all about it from Ardez. The raid had been successful, but to sour the good news, Bendoo had escaped with the help of Rattigan’s woman. He had cursed Rattigan and the man who had been guarding Bendoo. He should have killed Bendoo when he found out that he was a traitor. Damn Rattigan for bringing that love crazy woman to the camp and that fool of a guard for leaving his post. Well, he had suffered for it, being shot up by Bendoo and the policeman who had rescued him. The guard was not expected to live. Two other fighters had gotten bullet wounds and were in hospital.
He had gotten to K and would be reactivating all the other agents in the force in a desperate attempt to find and kill Bendoo. He had also offered a reward of two hundred dollars to anyone who killed the traitor.
Grosset had also given Ardez a pocket book, which one of the men they had attacked, had dropped. They found an organization chart drawn in the book. From the chart he was able to deduce that the syndicate was headed by Gaskell Burke and included Ken Stone, Wally Judge, Benn Sanderson and Dickson Lunan. While he didn’t know Stone, Judge or Benn, he had heard about Burke and the troubles he had gotten into. Then he remembered, this was Danville’s brother. He told Ardez to get hold of him for questioning. He was still at a loss to know the relationship between King’s syndicate and Burke. So Dickson was back on the island, he would personally kill him when those guys caught up with him.
***
Neil McDonald reached his office at twelve o’clock that day. After the two meetings with the Minister and the catastrophe at Groves Valley, he was feeling none too pleased with himself. He had a light breakfast but news of the massacre at Groves Valley was still permeating the airwaves.
On his arrival, he ordered lunch from the cafeteria. He looked at the messages on his desk. Nothing of immediate importance was there. The lunch arrived and he had settled down to eat when there was a knock on his door. He went to open it and there were Bendoo and Woody.
“Bendoo!” he exclaimed, grabbing him by his shoulders. “We thought you were dead. You look thin.”
The two policemen found seats in their boss’ office.
“What happened to you, Bendoo? How come we didn’t hear from you for so long?”
“They found out about me, it’s Fred Billings, McCreed’s foster son. I met him up in Stony Hill once when I tried to part a fight between him and McCreed’s daughter. I don’t know how he remembered me, but it looks as if he did some good detective work. He even had a copy of our magazine with a profile about me. They caught me off guard; they put me in a one-room cell. It was last night Camilla, the woman, who lives with that African-American, Rattigan, helped me to escape.”
“I suppose you know what happened at Groves Valley, all shot to hell. They killed eight men down there. We know that it was those men from Wareika, who did it. Some of the survivors told us so.”
“I am wondering if any of the Wareikans got killed too. They must have been planning something big down there,” Wood remarked.
“Camilla said that they had two terrorist experts at the camp. They brought them down here to train men to attack and kill McCreed’s fighters,” Bendoo told them.
McDonald was eating, but he was listening intently.
“Bendoo, the Minister wants us to attack Wareika before the week is out. Is that possible?”
“Chief, if we want to capture those men, we have to surprise them. They knew about our two raids from the moment they were planned. We have traitors in the force and in high places too. Even now I have to be on my guard because McCreed will have alerted his spies about my escape.”
“We suspected that too, that’s why we sent you up there. Now, unless we get rid of those spies it doesn’t make sense to raid Wareika because they’ll be up there waiting on us.”
“Bendoo has found out about three of them already. Agent L, M and N are Superintendent Joe Bygrave, Sergeant Daphne Malabre and Inspector Gurney Bishop. Only K is giving us trouble, he’s the most important but we just can’t find out who he is.”
“We’re going to arrest them immediately,” McDonald said and picked up the phone. He spoke for a few minutes then hung up.
“Blasted traitors, you can bet that there are more of them out in the country turning a blind eye to McCreed’s crimes.”
“Some of those men up there are some good fighters, Chief. Rattigan is their intelligence chief. He’s a military expert who has fought all over the world. What I learned from him before I was captured, is probably more than I learned in the six months I spent at training school.”
“We got some information on this Rattigan. His real name is Curtis Coleman. All that you say about him is true. He’s a military expert, he was employed at one time or another to both the F.B.I and the C.I.A. He was suspected of gun running and was fired from the C.I.A. He has certainly built this Wareika gang into a real fighting force.”
“I feel that if we take about forty men we should be able to do it, Chief.”
“Forty men, why so many, Bendoo?” McDonald asked.
“There are at least thirty-five men at Wareika and about half a dozen women, who can fire a gun. And we know the type of weapons they have up there.”
McDonald had finished eating. He took out a cigarette and lit it. Bendoo and Wood accepted lighted cigarettes from him.
“It sounds good, Bendoo. I think we can make it. I’ll see the Commissioner and talk to him. He’s going to want a report so you can write one. I’ll come up to your apartment tonight to map out some strategies. It’s time we get rid of those criminals.”
Bendoo showed Mc Donald the AK-47. McDonald took it from him and looked at it.
“A Russian AK-47 rifle, one of the best in the world. Those guys are certainly well equipped.”
“I have seen them before. We’ve seized quite a few of them. We have to do more work to stop those marijuana flights from coming in,” he further observed.
“We can drop it off down at the station,” Wood remarked.
“Let them give you a receipt for it,” Mc Donald told them.
Bendoo nodded in acknowledgement of what his chief had just said.
“Sir, last night when we were escaping from Wareika we had a firefight with some of the guards. We believe that at least three men were shot,” Bendoo told him.
“From our reports only one man turned up at the hospital. He was badly shot up and is in intensive care. I don’t know what happened to the other two,” Mc Donald replied.
“We’ll soon find out everything. Use the back entrance both of you and stay out of the public view,” he warned, as both men prepared to leave.
***
“It’s Camilla and that idiot, Chester, who allowed Bendoo to escape,” McCreed stated. They were in the boardroom of Bonnie Joseph’s offices on Waterloo Road, that McCreed had commandeered for their night meeting.
“That woman knows she’s dead if I ever see her again,” Rattigan threatened.
“Boss, don’t think I’m disrespecting you, but from the time we found out that Bendoo was a traitor we should have killed him, because he’s very dangerous,” Grosset stated.
Premba nodded in agreement with Grosset.
“I see your point, Grosset, but we had to find out what he knows about our organization before we got rid of him.”
Premba took a sip of his stout.
“Have you told your people about him yet, boss?”
“I’ve told them about it and I’m going to give two hundred dollars to anyone of them who wipes him out.”
“I must find him and collect that money,” Grosset boasted.
“About when do you think they are going to move against us, boss?” Premba asked.
“Anytime now, Premba, once Bendoo gives them the information, they’re going to move against us. I’ve warned those guys in the country to cut and bag their weed and hide it before they move in on them.”
“He knows the people we are operating through in Montego Bay,”Ardez stated.
“We won’t be using them again. I’ve told them to deny any links to this organization,” Mc Creed told them.
Premba looked at his boss.
“We never found out about that weed that King’s people poached from us.”
Fred looked at him, but didn’t say anything. He was wondering if it was time to make his move, but Bendoo’s escape had complicated things.
“Burke can’t ship it because I don’t believe that he has the
contacts. Once we capture him, he’ll have to tell us where it is,” Ardez declared.
“If the police get him first he’s going to tell them where it is.
We might have to move from Wareika. If we don’t move we have to get more fighters,” Mc Creed stated.
“If the money is good we’ll get lots of men to join us,” Premba opined.
“All of you can spread the word that we are recruiting,” Mc Creed told them.
“You’re to be on full alert and spread the word about Bendoo and Camilla. I’ll be seeing you,” he said as he stepped out of the room ahead of the others.
***
Guy Kerr-Coombs, chief of military intelligence and Neil McDonald sat on the couch in the living room of Bendoo’s apartment. Kerr-Coombs was a heavy cigarette smoker while McDonald smoked a pipe and the occasional cigarette. Delbert Wood was also there.
Camilla was in the kitchen looking after some refreshments.
“How high in the force do you think agent K is, Bendoo?” McDonald asked.
“He could be a superintendent or a senior superintendent, but it must be somebody that senior to be feeding them that kind of information.”
“I’m sure he’s getting some good money to supply them with such high level information,” Kerr-Coombs stated.
“You know I don’t think McCreed has ever met K but he knows his rank and number,” Bendoo opined.
Camilla came out with hot cups of coffee plus some chicken sandwiches, which she passed around. She took a seat beside Bendoo as she had already been introduced to the two security officers.
“We have a big file on McCreed but nothing substantial that could stand up in court,” McDonald informed them.
Bendoo knew that his chief was telling the truth.
“He has gotten rid of all of his enemies. While I was at Wareika Hills, they shot Ruddy Brown and G.C. Cox and killed Lex Malcolm.”
“Brad Elliot and Jack Marriot are to be charged for the murder of that Rastaman on Old Hope Road. I’m sure we’ll find something to charge King with. Some of the bodies at Groves Velley were burnt beyond recognition,” Wood stated.
“We have some new developments. Our investigations revealed that it was that disbarred lawyer, Gaskell Burke, who was in charge of the place. We found a new grave down there. I’ve asked Bill Nugent to pull him in for questioning.”
They all looked at Bendoo.
“I’ve spoken to Woody already, Chief. I can’t believe what happened.”
“I’m still angry about the whole thing. I’ve told Guy about it.”
Guy Kerr-Coombs nodded and Bendoo continued.
“After the shooting of Shower, Niah and Gungoo, Brad and
Jack vanished. It seems that they were going to meet Burke and some more men when they were arrested by the police.”
“They forced King to bait up McCreed’s men,” Wood agreed. “It seems as if they were helping him to rebuild his syndicate and they fell out. He escaped and was going abroad when the police caught him at the airport.”
Bendoo drank some more of his drink.
“After the shooting up of the three men, Brad and Jack just disappeared with the weed. But after they were picked up I don’t know what happened to the weed. They couldn’t post bail and they refused to say what happened to it. I feel that Burke and his men took over. They have the weed, but never got to ship it and it might have been burnt up.”
Wood took a sip of his coffee. McDonald looked at Camilla.
“How did you reach Wareika, Camilla?”
She blushed and reddened. He was about to apologize when she spoke.
“Karl told me that it was an artist colony up there. It was only when I reached there that I realized I’d been tricked.”
McDonald thought over what she said.
“Your sister was out here looking for you. We never knew that you were still out here, until now. You can get in touch with her if you come up to headquarters tomorrow.”
“Oh God, I can’t believe that Liz was out here looking for me,” she burst out crying.
Bendoo put his arm around her shoulders.
“She went through a rough time with Rattigan. He destroyed all of her papers. That woman, whom we robbed when we raided Mister Simmonds’ home the first night, I joined the gang, is her sister.”
“What!” McDonald exclaimed. “I want her to return home with her sister as soon as she comes down here. It’ll be too risky for her to stay here and she has been through too much already.”
Bendoo knew that his boss was right. It would be best for Camilla to return home with her sister. He was sure that once her family knew that she was safe, they would want her to return home immediately.
“How long have you been out here, Camilla? How long did you intend to stay?” Mc Donald asked.
She seemed lost before replying.
“I think, I’ve lost tract of time, but it could be about six weeks. I only intended to spend two weeks.”
“What!” Mc Donald exclaimed. “You know you’ve overstayed your time on the island. I’ve surprised that your people aren’t raising a stink right now. You’ll have to bring a complaint against Rattigan. You can accuse him of kidnapping you. By the way, what’s your profession?”
“I teach kindergarten art for a living. Will I have trouble with the authorities?”
“Bendoo will explain everything to them. I think they will understand.”
She nodded and Bendoo touched her on her shoulder to reassure her.
“You think they might leave Wareika for somewhere else, and wait until things cool down?” Kerr-Coombs inquired.
“Only Wareika I can think about that would offer them that type of sanctuary,” Bendoo replied.
McDonald looked at him.
“We’re going to raid them sometime between now and Sunday. I would say Sunday night. We aim to capture all of them.”
“I think I’d better go to bed, I’m feeling a bit sleepy,” Camilla said, standing up.
Bendoo gestured at her, but McDonald interrupted.
“Sit down, Camilla, maybe you can be of some more help to us.”
She sat down.
“Well, okay if I can be of any more help to you, I’ll try.”
“I’m sure you can, Camilla,” McDonald assured her.
“What about weapons, Bendoo? Do you think we can match them?” Kerr-Coombs inquired.
Bendoo coughed.
“They have AK-47s, M-16s and at least one heavy machine gun up there. All of those guns were brought in on marijuana flights. Most of their ammunition are stored in their armory. We must capture it as one of our first objectives.”
“Some of the guns they were firing at us with, were heavy caliber weapons,” Wood speculated.
“I took away Karl’s gun’s when I was leaving Wareika, Bendoo told me that he gave it in at your headquarters,”Camilla told them.
Bendoo looked at her.
“It’s one of those AK-47 rifles.”
“What! A Russian AK-47 semi-automatic rifle, one of the best in the world. Those guys are certainly well equipped,” Kerr-Coombs remarked.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen one, but I’ve read about it. We have to do something about those guys bringing them in when they come for the weed,”Mc Donald told them.
“Most of the ammunition comes in from the States, but I’m sure that some of it comes from Colombia too,” Bendoo stated.
“I think that we should crack down on all of his locations simultaneously. We’ll be raiding Wareika and the Factory first and then head for McCreed,” McDonald told them.
Those in the room nodded their heads in quiet agreement with this plan.
“Bendoo, tell us some more about the Factory. What purpose does it serve?” Kerr-Coombs asked.
“That’s where most of their vehicles are serviced. The work they do there is a camouflage. That’s where the growers from out in the country come when they want to see Ardez or to talk to McCreed. Some of the workers sleep on the compound, but none of them are fighters.”
“Will they fight if we raid them?” Kerr-Coombs asked.
“They get training from Rattigan, even their growers out in the country get training too. Dangler is in charge of operations there.”
They all knew or had heard about Aston ‘Dangler’ Douglas. Originally a political warlord for a very important politician, Dangler had migrated to the U.S.A for a couple of years before returning home to work at McGrath’s garage.
McDonald saw a worried look on Wood’s face.
“We can match them with firepower, Delbert, don’t worry,” he reassured him.
“Secrecy and surprise will have to be our main weapons if we want to beat them,” Bendoo interjected.
Camilla tried to stifle a yawn.
“I think I’ll turn in now, Bendoo,” she said getting up.
“Good night, gentlemen.”
They all waved her good night.
The Deputy Commissioner looked at Bendoo.
“Do you think we can trust her?” he asked.
Bendoo looked down the passage.
“Yes, Chief, she begged me a couple of times to help her escape. Every time I had to refuse, but it was she who helped me in the end. So I don’t think we have anything to fear from her.”
“You’d better let her stay inside until her sister comes for her. As a matter of fact, we’ll have to see if we can find any safer place to put her seeing that you will be away for a few days.”
Bendoo nodded in acknowledgement of what his chief had just said.
“As far as the mission goes, we’re taking men, who can fight and whom we can trust,” McDonald stated.
“I have some men in mind,” Kerr-Coombs said. “They’re good and they have combat experience. None of them has ever been to Wareika though.”
“As far as the camp is concerned, we’re going to have a complete blackout about it,” Kerr-Coombs continued.
“As a matter of fact, we aren’t documenting anything about this mission until it’s over,” McDonald stated.
Wood lit a cigarette, drew on it, then exhaled some of the smoke.
“You look sleepy, Delbert,” Bendoo remarked.
“No, I’m just dying for everything to be over.”
McDonald looked at him.
“It’s going to be over before you know it, Delbert. Our camp will be down in St. Catherine at Harkers Ridge. It’s about twenty miles from here. The place is nice, with plenty of fresh air. The camp is going to be near a river and far from the main road. The terrain resembles Wareika, so we’re going to use it to do most of our training.”
“What about target practice, Chief? Do we have enough space for that?” Bendoo asked.
“Yes, I’ve camped down there before, we can set up our shooting range on the river bank. The water is clear and clean,” McDonald answered.
Guy Kerr-Coombs couldn’t suppress a yawn.
McDonald looked at him.
“It seems as if we have exhausted our stay here Bendoo, so we’re going to leave now.”
“Bendoo, meet us at the top of your road,” McDonald instructed, as all three men filed out of the room.
Bendoo followed them to the door and shook their hands before they departed. When he returned and looked at his watch, it was a quarter to one.
He took a bath and smoked a cigarette before going to bed.

Chapter Twenty Six

As Burke was driving from Port Antonio that Friday evening he was wondering what had gone wrong. From all indications it was McCreed’s gunmen who had nearly wiped out his men. The man, whom Bucky and Mose had caught spying, hadn’t been alone, but they had failed to search for the others in the bushes. But now he reasoned, what were they doing so far from their base? After all, they were warned about the effectiveness of McCreed’s spy network. It seemed possible that both men had ventured from the camp for some unknown reasons and had been followed not by that one grower but by several. Their indiscretions had ruined his plans, but only temporarily, he told himself. The weed was still in the warehouse. With all those men dead, in hiding or in jail, it meant that he alone was in control of a warehouse with weed worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
With Ken either dead, in hiding, or in jail, he had lost his overseas contacts, but as this blew over he would begin to put out feelers. With the money from the weed, he would set up a fresh syndicate and with McCreed being taken care of by the security forces; he would make another try at controlling a sizeable portion of the Jamaican drug market. He drove the Mercedes Benz up the Junction Road. He would sleep at Nora tonight and in the morning he would go to his office as most Saturdays it was open until late afternoon. He had told her that he had to look at some properties in the country and might have to stay overnight. He listened to the radio reports and read the papers intensely. But there was no mention of the names of the survivors. He knew that several men had survived the massacre. Some had been arrested while others had gotten away. He wondered who were the men arrested and just who had gotten away. Would the arrested men finger him and would the escapees be on their way to find him and try to get some money from him?
He had burned some of his capital in employing all those guys along with weapons and ammunition. But it was Ken, Benny and Wally, who had put in the lion’s share. He had intended to sell the weed to help them replenish their funds. Nora lived off Hope Road. He drove through Stony Hill Road and dropped on to Constant Spring Road. He reached her house at eight o’clock that night.
***
Bull Mosely was among the twenty men, who boarded the truck at Harman Barracks. After his now infamous encounter with Grosset, he had become the butt of many jokes. He had pleaded with McDonald to give him a chance to redeem himself.
The once feared patrolman had become a laughing stock because of what Grosset had done to him.
Guy Kerr-Coombs and his twenty handpicked men left Up Park Camp at about the same time as McDonald.
Bendoo walked to the top of the road. As he walked, he thought about the letter he had received from Babs. It was very compassionate, she begged him to understand, but she wanted something less exciting. His life was too full of intrigue and danger. No, she wouldn’t be continuing their relationship and no, she hadn’t found someone else. He knew that he would call her when he returned and wish her good luck. He didn’t want their five-year relationship to end on a sad note. He had only a few minutes to wait before McDonald’s truck arrived and he boarded it. Wood was the driver.
“Is everything all right, Bendoo?” McDonald asked.
“Yes, Chief, no problem, I’ve told Camilla about the arrangements for her sister to contact her and that she’s just to keep calm and don’t worry.”
“Good, I hope she understands,” he remarked as the truck began to climb the hill.
“Bull Mosely is coming with us, he begged me to take him along. I’ve told him that if he does a repeat performance, I’m going to personally see that they throw him out of the force.”
“If we fail this time, Chief, all of us careers will be over,” Bendoo stated.
McDonald had to agree.
“It’s only two days; it’s going to be rough. All of us should be fit and ready when it’s over.”
“Are we going to start training the moment we get there, Chief?” Wood asked.
“Yes, Woody, time is crucial and we don’t have much to play with.”
The other truck was right behind them as they passed Leas Flat. Many pedestrians and motorists were looking at the two trucks with security personnel.
***
The men were punctual in coming to the meeting. Grosset was now smoking a pipe. All of them took seats on the couches.
“Until now we haven’t found Bendoo, Camilla or Gaskell Burke,” Ardez stated.
“Where have they disappeared to? I’ve been all over, looking for them,” the giant roared out his frustrations.
“The boss isn’t going to like this,” Ardez told them.
“Rattigan, have you any idea of places Camilla likes to go?” Premba asked.
“She’s interested in art, but I doubt if Bendoo and the security forces will let her out of their sights. They’ll probably try to get her off the island as quickly as possible.”
“We have people guarding against that possibility. She hasn’t turned up yet, so that means she’s still here. We found a house where he once lived, but the landlord said he told him that he was going to the States.”
“What about his family, have you tried to trace them? If we find any of them we could do something to them to force him out into the open,” Grosset suggested.
“K worked on that angle already, Bendoo doesn’t have any relatives alive.”
“K should keep a watch on the top army and policemen. Has he hired anybody else for us?” Grosset asked.
“He got three more, one Sergeant and two Inspectors. He’s using them to watch the top men in the police and the army, but so far Bendoo hasn’t showed up. He must be hiding somewhere and planning something.”
“We’re going to forget about Burke for the time being. We’ll kill him when he least expects it. Anyway, our main concern is Bendoo. We have to kill him and Camilla. K is working twenty four hours a day on the case,” he finished.
“Where are we going to find them though?” Grosset asked.
“We have to find him, Grosset. That traitor knows too much to live.”
The giant grunted.
“I can’t believe that Bendoo is a policeman.”
“I set up lots of times and think about it. I have to shake my head about how he came up here and tricked us. When I think about it, since he came up here he has never killed a man or even helped us,” Premba stated.
“We should have killed him when we captured him. I don’t know why the boss thought he was more valuable to us alive than dead,” Ardez declared.
“What unit did K say Bendoo was with before he came up here?” Grosset asked.
“He was a Detective Sergeant attached to Special Branch.”
“He should be watching them in case he tries to contact them,” Grosset suggested.
“As I said before, Grosset, K is working around the clock, trying to locate Bendoo.”
“Tomorrow, the boss wants us to meet him down at
the Factory. Dangler and some men from out in the country are going to be there too.”
“We’re returning to our posts now. Remember to be on the look out for Bendoo and the security forces.”
The men stood up and filed out of the room.
***
Gus McCreed just had a heated argument with Fred over Bendoo’s escape and his continued evasion of his fighters. Now, as he sat on his balcony, he wondered why he had kept Bendoo alive for so long after discovering that he was a traitor. Did he no longer have the urge to kill? He didn’t think so as he had just sent his men to wipe out a group of his enemies.
No, he wasn’t getting soft. He would have him killed just like every damn traitor should be. He lit a cigar; if Bendoo was killed, then Wareika might be saved. He knew enough about Wareika that an attack led by him might just succeed. His escape had temporarily halted the shipments of the drugs from Colombia. He had to call Miami and let them inform the men in Colombia to stop the shipments. He had invented a story that the Jamaican authorities were clamping down very hard. This was lost revenue and the sooner the traffic could resume the better.
It was a good thing that he didn’t know all of the contacts, only those in Montego Bay, but he still knew how it got in. So far no raids had taken place on the marijuana fields in the country, but it wouldn’t be long before the cops started raiding and intercepting the marijuana flights. Bendoo knew too much to live. He got up and paced the balcony. The night was cool as it always was in Coopers Hill. He had replaced the two Doberman dogs. He could see the bright lights of the city. Tomorrow they would be holding a big meeting at the Factory.
***
They reached Harkers Ridge late Friday evening. Tents were pitched on the large expanse of land, which lay far from the road. Beside the camp ran a river with clean, clear water; while on the other side of the river were a parochial road and thick bushes and trees not dissimilar to Wareika. The first thing the two companies of soldiers and policemen did was exercise with McDonald and Kerr-Coombs leading the way. All of them did laps around the field. The training was rigorous and both commanders tested their men to the limit. Bendoo knew the value of this training as he had no doubt that the Wareikans were at the same time undergoing similar training.
After they had eaten dinner the men divided up into two groups, one going into the thick undergrowth and the other going after them to flush them out. It was rough going and they didn’t finish until near midnight.
Guards were already posted when Bendoo returned from his bath in the river. He gave the password and went to his blankets. He fell asleep almost immediately.
When the call came for early morning exercises he could hardly awake.
They did some exercises then did several laps around the playing field, and then they had breakfast. When they finished eating it was on to target practice.
***
Burke had breakfast at Nora’s house and left at about seven o’clock that Saturday morning for his own house. He would change his clothes before going to the office. He felt confident within himself that there was nothing to fear from McCreed’s men. He constantly listened to the radio, but he could get no more information except that the police were still investigating the massacre. They couldn’t connect him to that incident though and neither could McCreed.
Ken, Mose and Bucky were either dead, in hiding, or in jail, he couldn’t believe it. The three men were so confident; boasting of their prowess with a gun that at times he felt it was a done deal. He had other things on his mind besides their failure. Suppose they found the grave of that grower. He had invented a story that it was Ken who had rented the place from him. As soon as he got to the office, he would draft up the rental agreement, forge the signatures, write a receipt and backdate it.
***

e had found Burke’s number and had telephoned his office on both Thursday and Friday. He was told on both occasions that he wouldn’t be in until Saturday morning. He had gone to the office at nine o’clock that morning but didn’t go inside; instead he parked the rental car in a side lane and waited outside of a bar opposite the man’s office. He wanted to make sure he didn’t pull any tricks on him. He drank a stout and smoked some cigarettes while he waited. He hadn’t heard from any of the others, but he doubted if either Mose or Bucky was dead. They could be lying low, devising a way to get some money from Burke or just get out of the island. Maybe Benny, Wally and Dickson were alive, and he wondered if they were, what they were up to?
Lance and Denton, a fighter from Grosset’s unit visited Burke’s office that morning. Lance was riding a S-90 motor cycle. They rode up to the office gate but didn’t enter; instead they circled and came over to the bar. It was then that Ken recognized them as McCreed’s gunmen and wasn’t sure that they weren’t after him. He whipped out his gun and fired, hitting Denton in his left shoulder and he fell off the motorcycle. Lance had also whipped out his gun and shot Ken in his left leg. He spun the bike around and raced up the road as Ken fired after him but missed. Lance fired back at him, hitting him in his right leg and he fell. Lance seeing the man fall, put up his gun and raced away not sure if Denton was dead or not.
Dressed in a new suit, Burke breezed into his office that morning.
Driving on the road, he was surprised by the number of people on the road and over by the bar. There were a lot of policemen over there too.
“What happened, Elaine?”
“They just had a big shootout over by the bar.”
“Were they trying to rob it?”
“No, Mister Burke, it doesn’t look so. They said one of the men was outside the bar from early morning. It seems that he was waiting on someone. The men on the motorcycle just rode up to our gate and when they saw him, they turned back and started shooting at him. That rental car parked down there, belongs to the man, who was waiting by the bar,” she said, pointing through the window.
“Three of them got shot, but it doesn’t look like any are dead.”
Burke didn’t comment on what she said.
“Is everything else all right?”
“Yes, Mister Burke.”
“Anybody called me or came to see me?
“Mister Wolfe and Mister Harrison came to see you, but they said they would call you on Monday. A man called on Thursday and yesterday too, but he didn’t want to tell me his name.”
“Nothing more, no messages or anything?”
“No, sir, nobody else called.”
“You look downcast, is anything wrong?”
“I’m all right, Mister Burke. It’s just the shooting I’m worrying about.”
“Are you sure, well, anything I can do, you let me know. I’m more than willing to help,” he told her as he made his way into his office.
It must have been Ken, who was calling him and maybe it was McCreed’s men, who had shot him. He had to do some thinking and fast as he wasn’t sure they weren’t returning to kill him.
He put his briefcase down on the desk and switched on the lights and the air-conditioning unit. He took off his coat and hung it in the small built in closet, which at present housed three more coats. From the floor of the closet, he took up a half full bottle of vodka. He went over to the other side of the small office and opened the glass door of the credenza and took out a glass.
From the tiny refrigerator he took some ice cubes and put them into the glass.
He poured some of the vodka into the glass and took a bottle of tonic water from the bottom of the refrigerator and poured out some. He used a drinking straw to stir it before dumping the contents down his throat with one gulp. He was tipping the bottle of vodka for another helping when he heard the sound of heavy boots coming into the office. He put down the bottle and waited. He heard a gruff voice asking for him and then there was a knock on his door. He opened it to reveal two men in the doorway. Both were in plain clothes.
“Who are you, and what do you want?” he asked.
“We’re the police,” the shorter of the two men replied, taking out his identification card. He showed it to Burke, it identified him as Detective Sergeant Glen Hastings of the Criminal Investigations Branch.
“Come with us, Mister Burke, we have some questions to ask you. We believe you can help us to find out what happened at Groves Valley, and what happened right in front of your office. You see how close it came to you,” the policeman told him.
“You must be joking, what am I supposed to know about that?”
“Gus McCreed’s men might be returning to finish the job. They might be on their way here now,” Hastings stated. His words had their calculated effect. Burke didn’t protest any longer.
“Take his gun, Charles,” Hasting directed the other policeman.
Burke reached into his shoulder holster and dropped the gun into a pouch, Corporal Charles Distant had.
He then took up his briefcase, put on his new coat and followed the two policemen out of the office. He tried to put on a brave face for Elaine, but doubted if he succeeded.
“Elaine, I’m just going with these two men to do some business. Take care of the office for me, if anybody calls, tell them that I’ll soon be back,” he said as he stepped through the door, the two detectives following closely behind.
***
Two hours after Burke left with the two policemen, his secretary was surprised by another visitor.
“Can I help you, sir?” she asked the man through the slightly opened door.
“My name is Dickson Lunan. I’m here to see Mr. Burke.”
She looked at the slightly built forty something looking man.
“I’m sorry, but he left for a meeting and won’t be back for the afternoon.”
“You can tell him that I came by. I’ll probably call him on Monday,” he told her as she closed the door after him.
****
Dickson walked over to his car when a car
which had been parked opposite Burke’s office drew up beside him and two men got out.
“Dickson Lunan, so you’re back in Jamaica. We want to have a talk with you,” one of the men told him and showed him his identification card.
“I’m out here minding my own business, I don’t see what this has to do with the police, Sergeant Bent.”
“Maybe you can help us with Danny King, Brad Elliot and Jack Marriot,” the policeman told him.
Lunan looked downcast. How did these men get to link him to those men?”
“Okay, but you’re wasting your time with me.”
“We’ll be the judge of that, sir,” the other policeman said and took Lunan’s car keys from him.
Lunan was also searched and his gun taken by the policemen.
***
Lorena woke up with a headache that Saturday morning. She took two tablets and returned to bed. When she woke up again, she was surprised to see how late it was. Her breakfast was on a tray. She ate some of the food and drank the orange juice. She then took a bath and went over to the hotel’s lobby.
Since her break up with Paul she had seen neither her father nor Fred.
She felt like going up to Coopers Hill and confronting Fred. She would go up there on Sunday.
“Hi, Lor,” Bev, one of the receptionists, called to her. “First time I’ve seen you since morning.”
“I woke up with a terrible headache, but I took some tablets and went back to bed.”
“Paul isn’t doing his work, Lor.”
“We aren’t together anymore, Bev.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“He’s too deceitful, so I just ended the relationship.”
Guests were coming into the hotel and Lorena was pleased.
“I’m sorry to hear.”
“I will talk to you later, but everything’s all right now.”
“Business looks good,” Bev said. She was short and had a good figure. Lorena knew that Fred had tried to date her, but the girl had been sensible enough not to fall for his tricks.
“It looks like it, have you seen Fred lately?”
“No, it’s a long time since I’ve seen him.”
Lorena took a seat in one of the lounge chairs.
“You have this morning’s paper, Bev?”
“Yes, sure,” the girl replied, passing the papers to her. Lorena took them and began to read.
It was while she was dancing with Rory at his mother’s
birthday party that he called her Freddie’s little sister. She asked him what was he talking about and he had shut up. She asked him if he knew Fred and he said no.
The following morning Paul had gone to buy petrol for his car and to get some groceries. She had accidentally kicked over a briefcase he had on the floor and all his papers fell out. It was while she was putting them back together that she came across the photos, Fred, Paul and Rory at school in New York. Rory smoking marijuana. Paul holding a rifle and several other guns. Paul weighing marijuana to be sold. She didn’t look any further. She had gone home without waiting for him to return. Later she had telephoned him to let him know that it was over. He had said that Fred had nothing to do with his befriending her. She had hung up after telling him that she felt used.
***
The big meeting that was planned for the Factory had instead been moved to George Senior’s office with only McCreed, Ardez, Premba, Grosset and Rattigan in attendance. Senior was one of those, who had agreed to cooperate with the syndicate. Huntley and Clifton, two new but experienced fighters were made commanders, replacing Pennant and Bendoo. Ardez reported on Lance’s failure to kill Burke and that Denton was still in hospital. Gus reported that Camilla had left the island and that Burke was in police custody along with Dickson Lunan.
K had reported that he had seen no unusual troop movements and all commanders were still in place. That an attack mightn’t come at all was greeted with some amount of optimism by the Wareikans. The short meeting broke up after the men had refreshments.
***
Bendoo scored the best shot a perfect score in the target practice. Six o’clock caught them on their bellies up in the hills. It was real commando style training. He was sorry that it was so short. The nights found them practicing mock battles in the hills. That morning they practiced close fighting and the men got a chance to sharpen up their skills.
In the midst of all this he hoped that Camilla had returned home with her sister. He sat up in his blankets. Elizabeth had been due in on Friday night and they would be flying out today. Tomorrow was the final briefing because the men hadn’t yet been told the purpose of this intensive training course although some of them might have guessed. Neil McDonald and Guy Kerr-Coombs assisted by him would do the briefing. They would leave for Wareika at nine o’clock as the attack was scheduled to begin at midnight. He thought of the killers at Wareika, there were at least thirty-five men there, plus women, who could also use a gun. Bull Mosely had asked him to save Grosset for him. All hell was going to break loose when those two met.
He wondered what had happened to Fred and Lorena. How would she react when she found out that her father was a drug baron and McCreed and Fred were put behind bars? After they captured Wareika and raided the Factory they would start on the growers out in the country. That would bring McCreed to his knees, if they could capture some of the men at the Factory and Wareika they might turn witnesses against McCreed though he knew about the code of silence that was observed in the organization. He had heard that it was gotten from McCreed’s days as a mob hit man. Thus, those men, even if captured could probably prefer to spend a few years in prison knowing that after their release they would be well looked after by McCreed. They would have to find a way around that. He knew that many country policemen were taking bribes from McCreed’s men. Well, they would be rooted out. He rolled over on his back. The place was quiet, no smoking was allowed at night.
The men were disciplined and if they took that into battle with them, they would defeat the Wareikans. The soldiers were from Zebra regiment and the police from Mobile Reserve. He knew that Mc Donald had gotten the latter group because he knew most of them as he had been their commander up to five years ago.
Bendoo dropped off to sleep after this long period of meditation.

Chapter Twenty Seven

Bad men were coming to Wareika by the hour. The two hundred United States dollars plus the free plane ride out of the island if they survived the inevitable war was the drawing card.
Most of them were experienced fighters, having fought in gang wars and shootouts with the police. Tony Little was one such man, he had been in various gang wars and had spent time in hospital nursing gunshot wounds. He had several murder charges against him dropped when the witnesses failed to show.
They came from the Kingston ghettos, the St. Catherine badlands and the Montego Bay squatter settlements.
These men were there to fight and earn the money. Most of them knew that once they landed on American soil they were safe because they had contacts there. The training was intense as Rattigan and the other commanders realized that the attack could come at any time.
***
On Sunday morning after breakfast, the men did unarmed combat exercises. Most of their shooting had improved. They had also practiced with high caliber weapons and did practice assaults with Neil McDonald and Guy Kerr-Coombs in the thick of things.
At noon the men rested and had lunch. After they finished lunch it was back to work. Supper was served at four o’clock that afternoon and finally at five o’clock all the men gathered in the old club house for the final briefing. Neil McDonald sat at the head of the table, beside him sat Guy Kerr-Coombs, Bendoo and Delbert Wood. The men were seated on some old wooden benches. Beside their table and over to the far corner of the room was an old blackboard that McDonald would find use for.
“I guess all of you know about our mission. We’re going to attack Wareika and capture it. This mission will give us a chance to root out all the traitors and cowards that are in the security forces in this country,” he finished.
He paused to look at the men.
“You see that man there,” he said, pointing at Bendoo. “We sent him to Wareika, so he knows the place. Some of the most dangerous men on the island are hiding up there. We have to flush them out. These men have killed more than one hundred people.”
“They call themselves soldiers, but we have to show them who are the real soldiers and policemen in this country,” McDonald finished to rancorous applause.
“We can defeat them,” a Mobile Reserve man declared.
“I’m more than willing to sacrifice my life to beat those murderers up there,” a soldier said.
He was greeted by loud cheers. McDonald’s fist on the table brought back silence.
“Our attack is planned to start at midnight, at one o’clock, other security personnel are going to raid the Factory. At two o’clock a big island-wide operation will take place to destroy their weed fields and arrest all their growers,” McDonald explained.
“Bendoo come and explain this map of Wareika to us,” McDonald requested.
Bendoo rose from his chair, he took the rough drawing of Wareika and pinned it to the old blackboard.
“All of you can see it clearly?” he asked.
There were nods all around the room.
“This is the trail that leads to the village. Anybody they catch on it, they kill. If we’re to get up there we have go through the bushes. Then we will drop onto the trail just below the village. They have a machine-gun guarding it, plus they have two men in trees overlooking it with sub-machine guns.”
“They have a big searchlight and an ammunition depot where they keep their ammunition. Our first goal will be to get rid of the guards who are manning the machine guns. Then we have to put out the searchlight and capture the ammunition depot. If we cut their telephone line they’ll have nothing to communicate with,” Bendoo stated.
“These shacks are where the top men live; these are Ardez’s, Premba’s and Grosset’s houses. We have to capture or kill these men before they can get to organize their fighters to repel our attack,” he finished and sat down.
“Wilson, Phillips and Bell will take care of the machine gunners. Once you take over their positions, turn your guns on the houses. We’ll be calling in reinforcements to blockade the whole area so that nobody can escape.”
“Tomlinson and Willet will take care of the two guards at the ammunition depot. Brown and Marshall will take care of the searchlight. Service and Essor will take care of the telephone line. Remember that we’re depending on you. Any of you fail and the whole mission could end up as a failure,” the Special Branch chief stated.
There was silence, finally, Kerr-Coombs spoke.
“I want to emphasize that we’ll tolerate no slackness on this operation. Anybody, who falls out of line, will be dealt with very severely,” he warned.
The men were absorbing what he said. Guy Kerr-Coombs looked easy going, but he was a hard taskmaster.
McDonald stood up and went to the old blackboard.
“The men to whom I’ve assigned special tasks will go forward first. Nobody is to fire until I give the word. I’ll be in charge along with Major Kerr-Coombs.”
“Well the briefing is over; all of you know what to do. We’re going to break camp at nine o’clock. Everybody is to be on the trucks by that time,” McDonald finished.
Bendoo went to the old blackboard and pulled down the map as the men filed out of the room after Kerr-Coombs and McDonald.
***
Gus McCreed, as he had reported at the meeting, knew that Camilla had left the island. It seemed that the security forces had whisked her out.
Although they had broken into the apartment they had found nothing to give them a lead as to her whereabouts. They had gone through Bendoo’s possessions without finding anything that could help them to locate him. That they hadn’t found anything belonging to Camilla, was further proof that she had left the island. The men at Wareika were on a knife edge. They were watching Bendoo’s apartment around the clock.
***
At eight forty five that Sunday evening, the men dressed in their camouflaged uniforms were ready to board the trucks. They had already loaded up their gear. Now they climbed up with their guns and ammunition.
Bull Mosely’s heart beat a quiet staccato against his massive chest. It had been a long time since he had been among such a confident group of men. For him this was a mission of redemption.
Bendoo and the two senior officers came out of the broken down club house.
McDonald went to both of the trucks and examined them. He and Kerr-Coombs had already passed all of the men as battle fit and ready for action. All of them now got into the truck; it was one minute to nine o’clock. McDonald was the only man left on the ground. Finally he climbed up into it and seated himself beside Wood and Bendoo.
“Everybody’s aboard, let’s go.”
The time was exactly nine o’clock.
***
Men were still coming to Wareika. On Saturday night, four more came in, still three more had come in the previous night. Many of them had heard of the sophisticated guns being used at Wareika and they wanted to get the experience of using them. Almost as soon as they arrived, they began training.
Meanwhile Dangler and a few of his men were now sleeping at the Factory.
A group of about sixty soldiers and policemen gathered at Up Park Camp, the Jamaican military headquarters, from about ten o’clock that night. Major Teddy Newman was in charge along with Senior Superintendents Donald Lewis and James Lawrence. At twelve-thirty that night they began to move. Twenty men under Lawrence’s command were to raid the Factory. The other forty would seal off all entrances and exits from Wareika. McDonald was making sure that if any of the Wareikans escaped, they would be picked up.
Peter Nesbit, Chemist, Williamson and Speng reached Wareika at eight o’clock that evening, thus swelling the ranks of the fighters. Nesbit and Speng were dangerous men, who had several killings to their credit. All four had escaped from the General Penitentiary and knew that only Wareika could offer them a safe sanctuary.
They were immediately inducted into the gang and were due to start training in the morning.
The assault on Wareika had begun. They parked the trucks in safely concealed places on the road. There was no need for guards, because of the expected blockade, that would soon be in place. Bendoo led the group of men through the thick bushes. Not a sound was heard. It was possible that Wareikans were on the trail returning from their search for him. One single shot fired now and the whole mission would be in trouble. It was the same route he and Camilla had taken when they escaped from Wareika. If the Wareikans knew about the attack, it was possible that they would be setting up an ambush so they had to be on high alert. They had reached a deep descent in the path and McDonald told them to rest there.
“Think we should contact Major Newman, Bendoo?” McDonald asked.
“It would be better to wait until the fighting starts before you do that. They have some heavy radios up there that can pick up
fyour signal,” Bendoo replied as the last of the men joined them.
The men sat on the ground and rested. Some of them drank from their canteens while others fixed up their gear and tied their boot laces tighter.
“Let’s move again,” McDonald told them.
This was the steepest part of the journey. Slowly the men moved behind Bendoo up its steep ridges.
“That’s it up there,” Bendoo whispered to McDonald pointing to the cluster of shacks on the hill. They had now cut across and were on the trail just below the village.
Dally and Chaser were in the trees with the sub-machine guns, while Nelson and Mercan were on the ground manning the machine-gun, they were all trigger happy men.
“Okay men you know what to do,” McDonald told the selected men.
The men he had spoken to, took off their heavy gear
and armed with only a knife and a handgun, they approached their target. Nelson and Mercan were knocked out and tied up with surprising ease. They were also gagged.
The man assigned to take care of Dally fired a shot hitting him and he fell out of the tree.
The man who was to take care of Chaser had fired at him, but missed, Chaser spun the sub-machine gun around and ripped him apart.
The men who had taken over Nelson and Mercan’s position spun around the machine-gun immediately and fired at Chaser blasting him out of the tree.
All hell broke loose; the big searchlight immediately came on, focusing on the trail. The men, who were sent to put it out and capture the ammunition depot, had to dive for cover and roll down a hill.
Wareikans hearing the machine-gun fire jumped out of their beds, grabbed their guns and raced to their posts.
Down below McDonald heard the heavy bark of the machine-gun and sub-machine guns and wondered if something had gone wrong.
“We have to put out the searchlight before it picks us up for their guns,” Bendoo warned.
He could hear shouts as the Wareikans began taking up positions. He knew that Service and Essor had already cut the telephone cable.
“I’m going after the searchlight,” Bendoo said diving into the bushes. Slowly he crawled into the undergrowth. When he was near the compound, he stopped and looked ahead. He aimed the gun at the searchlight and fired several times. There was a crashing sound as his bullets tore into the searchlight and the whole place went black.
“They’ve put out the searchlight,” Grosset’s voice roared out.
Bendoo fired a shot in his direction.
“What happen to Nelson and Mercan? Those two idiots must have been asleep. They let them take away the machine gun from them. It’s the security forces and Bendoo, concentrate your fire on the trail. We’ve got to neutralize the machine gun,” Ardez told them.
“Bendoo has put out the searchlight,” McDonald said.
“We’re going up now, so aim your fire at the Wareikans,” he directed his men.
Bendoo was hiding in the bushes and shooting at the Wareikans.
He saw one of the men on the ground pitch forward and knew he had scored a direct hit. The security forces came up the steep trail braving the hail of heavy gunfire from the Wareikans.
McDonald began deploying the men as the Wareikans took up positions to make a fight of it. A bullet whipped past Bendoo’s head as he dived into the bushes. Tony Little had seen him put out the searchlight and knew that if this man was taken out of the fight, they stood a better chance of beating off these soldiers and policemen. He saw Bendoo poke his head out of the grass and he fired, Bendoo dived into the bushes as the shot screamed over his head.
Again Little fired, this time Bendoo could see where the flashes were coming from. He took off his hat and broke a piece of stick and put the hat on top of it and put it in the air. Little fell for the bait, firing at the hat immediately.
Bendoo saw his position and his first shot struck the man in the left side. He gave a throaty cry and fell, Bendoo heard him screaming, but paid him no mind. He turned; he heard frantic shouting from the ammunition depot and knew that the Wareikans were loading up with magazines for their rifles and handguns.
He began running towards the security men’s position. They were now scattered around the machine-gun nests. Shots were being exchanged between both sides.
“Ardez,” Bendoo shouted. “We’ve captured Gus McCreed and Fred Billings, so give yourself up.”
“Go to hell, Bendoo. What are you going to do with them? You can’t hold them on anything,” Grosset shouted.
Bendoo knew that he was telling the truth. It made their tasks more urgent to capture some of these men to use against McCreed. He dived into the bushes as a shot rang out over his head. He reached his comrades to find that the casualties were mounting.
McDonald looked at him.
“It appears that they have more men than we thought,” the Special Branch Chief remarked.
“They must have done some recruiting, but sir, I see them moving several magazines out of the ammunition depot. I’d like four men to go with me and take it over,” Bendoo requested.
Delbert Wood stood up with three men.
“We’ll go with you Bendoo,” Wood volunteered.
A bullet whipped past Bendoo’s elbow and he dived to the ground and from his kneeling position he heard a man scream and roll on the ground.
“Only a leg wound,” he heard Kerr-Coombs say.
“Let’s go,” Bendoo said to Wood and they began to crawl through the grass.
***
The men under Newman’s command began to move immediately they got word from McDonald that the attack on Wareika had begun. The twenty men under Lawrence moved to raid the Factory. The others would be blockading all entrances to Wareika.
Lawrence’s men reached the Factory to find high walls, with a big iron gate surrounding the buildings. The men climbed out of the truck and moved up to the gate.
“Gate’s too high to jump,” Lawrence remarked. “Two of you go around to the back of that lane and seal it off. We’re going to shoot the locks off the gate.”
They shot the locks off the gate and rushed inside.
“We have you surrounded, Dangler, so give yourself up,” Lawrence shouted.
There were several vehicles parked in the yard.
There was a shout.
“It’s the security forces to hell,” a voice shouted and shots came from the building.
“Take cover men,” Lawrence shouted. “And return their fire.”
The security men darted for cover behind the vehicles. Bullets were ripping into the building where Dangler and the five men were. Already one man was shot in the shoulder.
“I’m trying to get Wareika to ask for help,” Dangler shouted.
He dialed the number again.
“All I’m getting is a busy signal,” he shouted as one of the five men looked at him.
“What are we going to do?” the man asked.
“We have to leave. I have a feeling that something big is taking place. It doesn’t make sense to stay here. It seems as if they’re attacking the camp,” Dangler replied.
“Dangler, I’m ordering you to surrender, this is the last warning,” Lawrence shouted.
Still Dangler hesitated, hoping that he might get in contact with Wareika and summon the help he needed.
***
At one o’clock that morning policemen from all the rural parishes started the biggest island wide crackdown on marijuana production in Jamaica’s short history.
Frantic calls were made to the Factory, Coopers Hill and Wareika but there was no response.
Huge plantations of marijuana worth thousandsf of dollars were set to the torch.
Rusty, Talbot, Pinchie and Joey were already arrested.
Policemen, who had once turned a blind eye towards these marijuana farmers while opening them to Gus McCreed’s money, were now taking part in these raids and destruction of his marijuana plantations.
***
Decker and Troja were at the apartment waiting to kill Bendoo. Despite his being their former unit commander, both men had no qualms about killing him as they considered him a traitor. They were to be relieved at six o’clock that morning by men from the Factory. Both men were armed with semi-automatic rifles, which they kept in shopping bags and also a handgun each. A police car came cruising down the road in response to a call from a resident about two men standing by the non-existent security guard post. The car drove past the gate, saw the two men and backed up into the entrance to the apartment court.
“What are you guys doing here?” the Sergeant and team leader asked.
Decker reacted instantly; he ripped the rifle out of the shopping bag and was just about to squeeze the trigger when the cops fired, hitting him in his left shoulder and he fell and another bullet took him in the right thigh. Troja had run and dodged behind some cars and was now shooting at the policemen. Two of the cops were running to flank him, desperately Troja tried to thwart them when his gun jammed on him. He whipped the handgun from his pocket and fired without aiming at the policemen and missed. Then something hard hit him in the back of his head and he fell and then everything went black.
“The two of them are badly wounded, it seems like they were waiting here to kill somebody,” the Sergeant said. He took out his radio and radioed for an ambulance for the two wounded men. Meanwhile, residents and other onlookers attracted by the gunfire converged on the scene.
Gully was the last man to join the Wareikans. He arrived at the camp at eleven that night. Three nights previously he had been involved in a police shoot-out and had seen one of his friends killed and two others wounded and captured and felt he would be safer at Wareika.
Meanwhile, at Wareika Hills, the fighting had intensified. Bendoo lay behind some trees, Wood and the three men beside him. They were about ten meters from the gun depot. He could hear the sound of the heavy caliber rifles as the battle intensified. Bendoo and the others crept forward slowly. Nearing the edge of the clearing the five men jumped up and ran towards it shooting as they ran.
Mallards wheeled and spun around holding his right side, he fell screaming. Clinch wheeled and ran, but Wood’s bullet took him in his left leg and he fell.
Two shots from the soldiers wounded both Peter Nesbit and Chemist. Speng who was in the ammunition depot, was about to line up his gun on Bendoo when the latter hit him with his shoulder. Speng fell and Bendoo knocked him out cold with the butt of his gun. Five other fighters, who were in the depot loading up with magazines for the rifles were all captured. The security men soon found rope to tie them up.
“Guard this place well,” Bendoo told Delbert Wood as he saw them looking in awe at the types of magazines in the depot.
He darted behind the building to see if there were any prisoners in his former cell.
Ardez and the rest of the men with him were fighting back.
“I’m trying to get the Factory but I’m not getting through. It seems that they’ve cut our telephone cable. We can’t get a word out, we’re on our own,” Ardez told them.
“I must kill Bendoo,” Grosset said angrily and ran with his machete and gun.
Gully saw Bendoo move from behind the armory and fired immediately, Bendoo felt as if fingers had clutched at his shirt sleeves, he threw himself to the ground as Gully fired again. This time Bendoo fired at the figure and heard the high pitched scream and knew he had scored a direct hit and then he heard a ‘thud’ as the mortally wounded man fell to the ground.
Premba knew that he had seriously wounded two policemen during the attack as he had seen them taking cover with their wounds. His fighters were successfully counter-attacking the security forces and were waiting for additional ammunition to arrive from the depot when he heard that it had been captured. Immediately he crept forward remembering where they had hidden some guns and ammunition. If they could get hold of that ammunition it might be enough to drive them off. He was circling the shacks remembering the spot as near to Bendoo’s cell, when he saw the undercover man.
“Bendoo, you dirty fucker!” Premba shouted, firing at him.
Bendoo flung himself on the ground and rolled into some nearby bushes.
Premba was firing after him; Bendoo watched the flashes and fired back but knew that he had missed when he saw the man dart behind a tree.
Bendoo heard another voice, which he recognized as Grosset.
“Where is he, Premba? Where is Bendoo?” the giant asked.
Bendoo crawled further into the bushes, not wanting the two men to try to outflank him and get him between their cross-fire.
A barrage of gunshots came in his direction. Bendoo responded with the M-16, firing several rounds in their direction. Then everything went silent.
“You shoot me, Bendoo. I’m going to kill you,” Premba shouted and let off a barrage of gunshots in his direction. Bendoo stood up and fired at the man, hitting him in his right thigh and the man fell, lost his balance and rolled down a gully.
Where was Grosset he wondered when he heard a huge voice bellow.
“Grosset!!”
For a moment Grosset, who was running to get behind Bendoo, thought that it was Gus Mc Creed but it was Bull Mosely. As the realization hit him, something hit him in his stomach like a bulldozer and the machete and gun fell out of his hand.
“You’re finished now, Grosset,” Mosely shouted, trying to hold Grosset around his neck and break it. Grosset rolled away and grabbed the bigger man’s feet and jerked them and Mosely fell heavily. He was fifteen pounds heavier than Grosset and two inches taller. Now agile as a cat Grosset sprang up and kicked at Bull’s head, but missed, the force carrying him over the man’s body. Mosely threw his legs up in the air in an effort to flip Grosset
and probably break his neck, but Grosset regained his balance and grabbed hold of Bulls’ legs and yanked. Bull shoved his left foot at Grosset and it caught him in the stomach and sent him sprawling. Bull saw Grosset’s machete and dived for it, but Grosset had already spotted that move and dived for Bull’s legs and the two men went down together.
From his position Bendoo could only watch in amazement as the two giants slugged it out. He knew that Premba’s leg was probably broken and he had also shot him in his left shoulder. He would get a handcuff from Woody to make sure that he didn’t escape.

Chapter Twenty Eight

K got Fred’s call that Wareika was being attacked. He immediately called the Factory and Cooper’s Hill, but there was no answer from either source. He sat in his private study and wondered what to do next. Five minutes later Fred called him, this time he was on Red Hills Road. He had driven very fast to reach Coopers Hill but had gotten a flat tire at Ewarton and engine trouble at Bog Walk. He said that he had been unable to get Gus at Coopers Hill.
***
Fred had been trying to get Gus to tell him about the raid, but nobody was answering the phones at the mansion, which meant that Mc Creed was out, probably partying. He had stopped at a friend’s house just off Washington Boulevard and then at the Outer Edge to make those phone calls but all in vain, damn Gus Mc Creed.
At a time like this, Gus McCreed was out having fun. Damn him, Fred thought as he increased the speed of the car. He suspected they had cut the telephone line linking Wareika to the outside world. It was still possible that Premba, Grosset, Butler, Lance, Ardez, Rattigan and the others could drive the security men away. He guessed that the new recruits were performing poorly and several of them had either been killed or captured. What he knew was that after this Wareika would never be the same, he was taking over even if it meant over Gus’ dead body.
***
Dangler and four of his men had survived the barrage of police bullets on the buildings. Gunshots were exploding all over the place. His efforts to contact Wareika had proved futile and he had given it up. The five of them made a desperate attempt to escape. They managed to open a grill door at the back of the premises and then jump over a fence. Dangler had a bag full of money with him.
“They’re trying to escape,” Lawrence shouted as he heard the window break. Some of the policemen darted around to the back of the building while others ran inside. Dangler and his four assistants heard the loud noises being made by the security men as they ran through the yard and scaled the fence.
Caught between the men who were pursuing them and those on the road, the four men put their hands in the air and flung down their guns. Dangler still kept on going, exchanging fire with the security men; he was shot in both legs and collapsed on the sidewalk. The bag he had gripped so tightly, fell from his grasp.
Lawrence and some of his men raced over to him.
“He’s badly hurt, he got shot in both legs,” Lawrence said, taking up Dangler’s gun with a rag.
They handcuffed him along with the other four men.
One policeman picked up the bag Dangler had dropped.
“It’s full of money,” he cried out excitedly.
“It’s McCreed’s money, I wonder where he was going with it,” Lawrence remarked.
“We have to get the Public Hospital to send an ambulance for him. We have to wait until they come. I hope that everything is all right at Wareika. You guys did well tonight,” he stated, congratulating his men.
The policemen found one of Dangler’s men dead in the yard. They didn’t trouble his body, but went inside the buildings to search them for illegal drugs and guns.
***
Bendoo reached Rattigan’s shack, he broke down the door and rushed inside but there was no one there. Yasmin must be with the rest of the women. Slowly he crawled to where McDonald and the rest of the men were.
Grosset had hit Bull Mosely with some of his best punches. He remembered the men he had either killed or maimed with blows like those. Butler was the biggest man he had fought and even he had gone down from some of his blows as did Bucky. Jack Marriot had been thrown into the air by some of those punches. All Mosely did was grunt and deliver sledgehammer blows of his own.
“You’re finished now, Grosset, I’m going to destroy you today,” Mosely shouted as he delivered a right hook to Grosset’s midriff that staggered him. He rushed Grosset again and hit him under the heart and Grosset felt as if a train had hit him. He tried to grab Mosely around his neck and strangle him. He succeeded in grabbing Mosely around his neck, but found that the man was too strong. Mosely tripped him and the two men fell and their hold on each other was broken. Grosset was the first on his feet and rushed for a tree limb. He had grabbed hold of the tree limb when Mosely rushed down on him and dodged the first blow and both of them wrestled for the tree limb.
Meanwhile a group of men headed by Ardez had taken up residence in his house and were prepared to fight it out.
Bendoo had now returned to where McDonald and the others were.
“We’ve captured about eight or nine of them so far and about the same amount are either dead or wounded.”
“Premba’s badly wounded, he and I shot it out,” Bendoo stated and looked at McDonald.
“Where is he, Bendoo? That boy is my nephew, I am not ashamed to tell you. He went wrong a long time ago. We tried our best to help him, but he was just wild. He wouldn’t listen to anybody. His mother and father died broken hearted.”
“He’s over there Chief, handcuffed. He will survive, he only got a broken leg and probably a broken collar bone.”
“I’ll have to go and have a look at him.”
Bendoo turned away.
“The women are housed over there,” he said, pointing to a building at the far end of the village.
“I saw Bull Mosely and Grosset fighting.”
“How the hell did Bull get away from here without my permission,” McDonald shouted angrily.
Ardez’s men were now fighting back with Butler and Lance leading the attack.
“What happened to Premba?” Ardez asked.
“I don’t know,” Rattigan replied, firing a burst from his M-16.
“He was going to look for some ammunition that he had hidden,” Lance replied.
“Anybody knows where Premba hid that ammunition?” Ardez asked.
When no one replied, he looked around and counted the men, in all there were ten of them, but other men were out there under Clifton’s and Huntley’s command.
“We have to run them off. I hope that Premba and Grosset will soon rejoin us,” he finished as bullets began to pierce the walls of the shack.
Bull Mosely and Grosset were fighting like two tigers. There were now trying to choke each other to death. Grosset was putting all he had into squeezing the bigger man’s throat.
Mosely wrenched away his hands, grabbed him and began to squeeze his throat. Grosset tripped him and they both fell but still Mosely’s hold on Grosset did not loosen.
Grosset grabbed the big brutal hands and wrenched them away from his throat whereupon he put his own hands at Mosely’s throat and began to squeeze. Mosely slowly removed the fingers from his throat and rolled away.
Grosset came after him again and the two men began to wrestle each other. They had been wrestling each other for sometime when Mosely kicked Grosset and saw him roll down a hill. Mosely felt exhausted but decided to go after Grosset again.
Ardez was shot in his right shoulder in the first attack that the security men made on the group inside his house, yet they kept on fighting.
“They don’t want to surrender,” McDonald shouted. “Keep on firing and don’t let them escape. Lawrence raided the Factory and they’ve captured Dangler.”
“It seems as if my shoulder is broken,” Ardez groaned as he lay on his back.
“We’re running out of bullets. We might have to raid the ammunition depot,” Lance shouted.
“We could do that, we could then use those heavy caliber weapons on them,” Rattigan told them.
“How many men are guarding it?” Lance asked.
“Four, Bendoo is with the main body,” Rattigan replied.
“You and Butler give it a try Lance, we’ll cover you,” Ardez stated.
The men in Ardez’s shack opened up anew on the security forces who returned the fire. Lance and Butler rushed out through a back door and headed for their target.
Both men made a zigzagging run while firing at the men guarding the depot.
“Butler and Lance are trying to recapture the depot,” Bendoo shouted.
Immediately all guns were turned in the direction of the two running men. Butler was shot in his left leg by McDonald and he fell. Lance kept going reaching the door of the depot and wounding a soldier, but he was shot in the right shoulder and left leg by the cross-fire between the depot guards and McDonald’s men and fell to the ground screaming.
“Let’s go after those men in Ardez’s house,” Bendoo said to McDonald.
“We’re going to move up close to them,” McDonald replied.
“They’ll soon run out of bullets, that’s why Butler and Lance
were trying to recapture the ammunition depot,” Bendoo remarked.
“Okay, let’s wait and see what they do next,” McDonald said.
They could still hear the firing as Kerr-Coomb’s men engaged Huntley’s and Clifton’s fighters.
“They’ve shot Butler and Lance,” Norris, one of the new fighters said.
Dias, another of the new fighters, stood with the M-I Enforcer in his hand.
“What happened to Grosset and Premba?” he asked.
“I haven’t seen them, but I saw Bull Mosely, maybe he came back for Grosset,” Norris opined.
“Grosset must kill him this time,” Dias said. He had heard how Mosely had run from Grosset.
“We’re going to hold our fire until they rush us. We don’t have many bullets left. About how many of them you think we got?” Lawton, another fighter, asked.
“About half a dozen, compared to about ten of our fighters plus several are wounded,” Dias said as a bullet screamed over his head and lodged into a wall.
“They’re surrounding us,” Rattigan shouted as Stennet screamed and fell, the left side of his face blown off.
Bullets were now raking the house from all sides. Rattigan gave a shout and fell, a bullet breaking his leg. Gustas and Wallman jumped through a window and raced away. Both were shot in the legs and captured. Dias, Norris and Lawton slipped through a side door and ran down into the bushes. McDonald’s men and Bendoo fired after them raking the undergrowth with bullets, but the fugitives could still be heard breaking twigs as they raced away.
“Our men on the road will catch them,” McDonald remarked.
Bendoo and McDonald made a cautious approach to Ardez’s shack, opening the door; they came upon the two wounded men.
“Don’t move,” Bendoo shouted. He had his gun covering both men.
McDonald was behind him, his gun covering the men too. Bendoo went and picked up their guns.
“Who are these two men, Bendoo?” McDonald asked.
“They’re Ardez and Rattigan, and it seems as if they are badly wounded,” Bendoo replied as they looked at the two wounded men who were wrenching their faces trying to fight the searing pain they were feeling.
“Both of you are under arrest,” Bendoo said as both men were handcuffed.
“Go to hell Bendoo, I’ll kill you one day,” Ardez shouted defiantly.
“So this is the famous Mister Rattigan and Ardez. Well the game is up for both of you,” McDonald stated.
Raising his head, Rattigan stated.
“They can’t hold me on anything out here, Bendoo. I haven’t committed any crimes in Jamaica. My government will free me. I know where Camilla lives, I know all about her family. She’s going to regret what she did, I swear to God.”
“You might spend a few years in our jails yet, Coleman. We can charge you with kidnapping and illegal possession of firearms among other things,” McDonald told him.
“Who did I kidnap, Camilla?” Rattigan laughed. “That woman begged me to take her with me. Then when we got here she began spreading her legs apart for any man who was interested. That’s why she ran away with Bendoo.”
“You’re a dirty liar, Rattigan.”
“I’ll get one of the men to get these guns,” McDonald told Bendoo.
Rattigan made to speak again, but Mc Donald signalled for him to shut up.
Bendoo went into Ardez’s bedroom to look for wounded men and guns but didn’t find any. He came back into the room where they were.
“Where are the women and children, Ardez?”
“They are at a safe house, but I won’t tell you where that is.”
Bendoo thought for a moment.
“I think I know where that is, Chief. I’ll tell you when we get outside.”
Bendoo and McDonald returned outside, each going in separate directions. Meanwhile the battle between Kerr-Coomb’s men and Huntley and Clifton’s fighters was just about over. Realizing that firing from Ardez’s house had ceased and it was useless to fight anymore, both men were preparing to make a getaway.
“We can’t beat these men. It would be better for us to make a run for it, because I haven’t heard anything from Premba and Ardez,” Clifton said to Huntley.
“We’re going to make a run for it,” both men told their fighters as they grabbed their guns and raced into the bushes.
Kerr-Coomb’s men came up firing into the undergrowth as the fugitives spread out in all directions in the bushes. There must be at least fifteen of them, Kerr-Coombs thought.
“Don’t bother going after them,” he shouted to his men.
Coming up to the Wareikan’s position Bendoo saw several wounded men, some handcuffed and scattered all around. He went up to where McDonald was. A group of men was there too and on closer inspection, he saw that the three wounded men they were looking at were Grosset, Bull Mosely and Premba Mc Donald.
“I never knew Bull was so brave,” McDonald remarked.
“He disobeyed my orders, but at least he beat Grosset and captured him.”
Kerr-Coombs and Wood joined them.
“We got all of the leaders and some of the others have given themselves up,” Kerr-Cooms told them.
McDonald was feeling very emotional; the men had performed with distinction. Every man had done his duty. He was brought back to reality by Bendoo’s voice.
“I have some unfinished business to attend to,” Bendoo said and started off for the trail.

Chapter Twenty Nine

K had lost contact with both Fred and Wareika Hills. Maybe Wareika had been wiped out and Fred and Gus either killed or captured.
The police were suspicious about several of their members, whom they felt might have given information to the Wareikans, resulting in those two failed raids. Why had he not been informed about the raid? But then maybe even Haskins might not have known about it.
None of the new people he had recruited had reported anything to him. He wondered if he had gotten the right people. He had heard about some people being held for corruption, but he didn’t know who they were.
He went out onto the balcony. His family was asleep, damn it all, why had he gotten himself in such a mess? If Gus McCreed kept the bank transfers then the police might find out. Why had he not taken cash, but then some of the payments he had received were too large to be handled by cash. No, he wasn’t safe, it would be best for him to go to Coopers Hill and destroy the records. He went to his bedroom and put on some clothes, Edna was asleep so he moved furtively. He went outside and got into the Ford Capri, it was the fastest car he had. He reversed out of the driveway and on to the road and then returned to close the gate noiselessly behind him. He started the car and moved off slowly, hoping to be on time.
If Fred and Gus were at the Mansion he would kill both of them as they were of no more use to him. He felt that they might have fled the island. He had to think of reaching up there and finding the gardener and helper there. He made up his mind that whoever he found at the mansion would be getting a bullet from him.
If he went there and the house was empty he would set it on fire as he had two full bottles of petrol. Coopers Hill was so far away that by the time the fire brigade arrived all he wanted destroyed might very well be.
***
When Bendoo reached the road, he saw some security men standing over two men, while others were on their radios. Going further, he saw that the two wounded men were Odane and Lanny, two of Grosset’s fighters. Going up further, he saw some other wounded men, plus a man stretched out on his back, probably dead, he thought. He saw several men with their hands above their head. Bendoo didn’t know any of these men; obviously they had come to Wareika after he had escaped. They were probably the ones who had been engaging Kerr-Coomb’s men.
“I want a car, Inspector,” he said to Inspector Luis McCormack.
McCormack looked at him.
“What for?” he asked.
“I’m going to Coopers Hill for Gus McCreed.”
“Take my car, but are you sure you won’t need help?” he asked, handing the keys to Bendoo.
“No, it’s better I alone go.”
He got into the car, started it and drove up Mountain View Avenue, he roared up Lady Musgrave Road. He ran the stoplight at Hope Road and drove onto Waterloo Road and turned down South Avenue, ending up on Eastwood Park Road. He drove onto Red Hills Road. A picture of Lorena flashed through his mind. He was going about fifty miles an hour and he wondered if he would be too late. He turned on Swain Spring Road; only about four vehicles had passed him going up to Coopers Hill. At the square in Swain Spring he was lucky to see some men playing dominoes. They gave him directions. He thanked them and drove away.
He finally found Reef Close and parked in front of an empty lot. He checked his service revolver, it was full. He took the M-16 with him after locking up the car and started off. The air was extremely cool.
When he reached the mansion he saw that the lights were on. A Ford Capri was parked further up. He climbed over the fence and landed on the well carpeted lawn. Going in he saw the bodies of two Dobermen look alike dogs and wondered who had killed them. Whoever had done this must be inside ravaging the place. It had to be an outsider and the answer had to be K, it must be his car outside too. Bendoo circled around the house; there were just about two or three rooms with lights in them.
Two cars were parked in the garage, on further inspection; he saw that one was a Jaguar and the other a Ford Laser. He knew that the Ford Laser was Fred’s because that was the car he had been driving in Stony Hill that day. He had to guess that the Jaguar belonged to Mc Creed. He had heard that Lorena drove a Mazda motor car, but it wasn’t here. Was she down at the hotel? Where were Mc Creed and Fred Billings?
The presence of the two dead dogs meant that something unpleasant had taken place. Had that person also killed Mc Creed and Fred Billings? Whoever was in the house had to provide some answers. He tiptoed around to the front of the house and went on to the patio, gently pushing the front door open as the burglar bar wasn’t bolted. Silently, he crept inside, the service revolver ever ready.
Somebody had to be here, he pushed open the door of the dining room. Everything was in order, he tiptoed back outside. He was sure they had a helper and gardener. But where were they? She might be on weekend leave and he at one of his girlfriends or in the country. He pushed open a door and saw that it was a bedroom. On further inspection he saw that it could be Lorena’s room. There were several dresses on the bed and female garments on the floor as if the person had made a hasty departure. He suspected that Fred still kept rooms here, but most of the times he was at his woman’s house. He opened a door and realized that it was McCreed’s study. He went inside and was looking around when a voice said.
“Drop that, whoever you are, I have you covered.”
Bendoo tried to recollect whose voice it was, as the man seemed to be in the attic, but he couldn’t remember.
“I said to drop it, I have you covered.”
Bendoo let the guns fall from his hands to the carpet.
“Kick it towards me and the M-16 too.”
Bendoo did as he was told.
The man came down the short steps and picked up the guns.
“Mister Fox, you’re K, I can’t believe it!”
“And you’re Bendoo? I recognize you now.”
He had a handgun covering him.
“You look surprised, Bendoo; I was making lots of money.”
He pushed a briefcase before him.
“This briefcase contains about two hundred thousand American dollars. Do as I tell you and half of it is yours. I’m going to destroy this box of paper. After I do that I don’t have anything more to worry about. You go after Gus and Fred and kill them. You can say that you came up here and saw the house on fire. Nobody is going to investigate.”
“Move from here, Mister Fox, if I’d wanted money I could have stayed at Wareika. You are a traitor.”
Fox grabbed the bottle of petrol and began splashing it around the room, which was full of books and boxes of paper.
“By now Fred must be in the States. Did you know that he has a pilot’s license? They have a private plane near Ferry waiting on them for emergencies like this. They’ve gone out there now, I passed them on the way up here, they didn’t see me but I saw them. You should have known that Bendoo. I’m going to kill you and set the place on fire. You damn fool, twenty years from now and you’ll still be the same. I’ve learned, if it wasn’t for Gus McCreed I wouldn’t have anything to show for my years of service. When my retirement age comes around I don’t have to go begging them for a few more years. I can retire anytime I feel.”
“It was you who leaked the information about our raids to them?”
“Of course, that was what I was being paid to do. Neil was smart to keep this one away from me. You’ve caught L, M and N but they’re small fry and they don’t know about me. Bendoo, I have my house in Florida and hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank. I’m improving on my golf game because that’s what I’m going to play when I retire. I’m now a part of the millionaire’s club. I’m sorry for Neil and Hubert, they’re going to become paupers when they retire, wondering where they’ll get money to pay the next light bill.”
“You’d better give yourself up, Mister Fox, even if you kill me, you won’t get away.”
“Bendoo, I’m going to kill you and destroy these papers. I’m going to leave Fred and Gus to kill off each other if they haven’t already left the island,” Fox shouted as he finished sprinkling the last of the gasoline on the walls of the room. He dipped into his pocket and took out his matches.
“Move over to where the boxes of paper are. When I shoot you, you’ll drop on them. You’ll probably burn to ashes by the time the fire engines reach here, move, Bendoo.”
Bendoo moved over against the wall.
Fox aimed the gun at his heart.
“Are you still certain you don’t want half of this money?” he asked, pointing to the briefcase.
“Go to hell, Fox,” Bendoo shouted as he spied Delbert Wood’s stealthy approach.
“You won’t escape, because we’ve captured Ardez and Rattigan,” Bendoo said to stall him.
Fox chuckled.
“Those are only names to me, they don’t know me and I don’t know them.”
“Goodbye, Bendoo,” he said, his fingers began to press the trigger when Wood sprang on him, hitting him in the back of the head with the gun butt. The man fell to the floor, the gun falling out of his hand. Bendoo knelt and picked it up.
“It’s Mister Fox, I can’t believe it,” Wood cried out as he saw the man sprawled out on the carpet, unconscious.
“You saved me, Delbert, he had me covered when I entered the room, it’s Brendan Fox and he’s agent K.”
He bent down and looked at the man on the floor. The place where he had gotten the blow to his head was beginning to swell.
“What are we going to do with him, Bendoo?”
“I don’t know how the Chief and the Commissioner are going to feel about his treachery.”
Wood shook his head.
“We have to tie him up so that he doesn’t escape.”
The two policemen began searching for rope, which they presently found in a room that looked like storeroom.
They then bound Fox’s hands and feet. After they had done this both policemen looked at the unconscious figure of their treacherous senior colleague.
They both knew that it would be hard for a lot of people to digest the fact that Fox was a traitor.
Bendoo turned to look at Wood.
“Take care of this suitcase here, Woody; I’m going after Gus and Fred Billings. Mr. Fox told me about an airfield they have out at Ferry.”
“Wait for me, Bendoo,” Wood shouted, but Bendoo was already running towards Fox’s car. He had taken the keys from the wounded man’s pocket. He got into the car, started it and drove off. He again took the Swain Spring Road. When he reached Ferry he turned on a dirt road. He was on it for five minutes when he saw a figure folded up on the side of the road. On going up further, he saw that it was Gus McCreed! He stopped the car and jumped out. He was on his side and was splattered with blood. Bendoo felt his pulse, it was beating faintly.
“Gus McCreed!” he shouted.
The man’s eyes fluttered open in recognition.
“It’s you, Bendoo, Fred; he shot me and took Lorena with him. Try to save her, he’s going to kill her, go …go after …after him.”
His eyes fluttered, he sighed and then he was gone.
Bendoo knew that he was dead. He laid the limp body in the grass, then said a silent prayer over him. He had at last seen the human face of Gus McCreed.
Getting back into the car he started it and drove off. He was on the dirt track for some time wondering where it led to, when he saw what looked like a small field. A building was on the other side of the runway. He saw a plane near the building, as he drove nearer, a bullet smashed into the windshield of the car. Bendoo stopped the car and jumped out. Shots were raking up all around.
He crawled into the bushes as bullets were flying over his head. He heard shouts coming from the building and knew there must be at least three persons shooting at him. He guessed that there were Fred and two men. He did not know who these men were but guessed they were either his bodyguards, or workers at the airfield. Maybe they were there to maintain the plane. He crawled further into the bushes and pulled the M-16 from around his shoulders. He saw where the flashes were coming from.
Bullets were tearing chunks off the big tree behind which he was hiding. He saw a man move and fired to draw his fire, the man fired back. Maybe this man was trying to keep him occupied while the others circled around and try to come up behind him. He fired a burst at the man then dived into the bushes. He was in the thick bushes for about five minutes during which time the man let off several rounds in order to get a response from him and give away his position. Bendoo waited for the others to show up. He saw a man in a creeping position about twenty meters from him and he took careful aim and fired. He heard the man give a throaty cry and fall. Instantly he started to run as a volley of bullets rained down on his former position. He knew there was now only one man left in the bushes. He lay flat on his belly as the man let off a stream of bad words at finding his colleague shot and wounded. This was not Fred Billings, which meant that he must be the man near the wooden building.
He took up a big piece of wood and flung it and the man began to fire at the position the piece of wood had fallen. Bendoo saw the flashes and he fired two times and then there was silence. Then he heard a thrashing around and knew that the man had been hit hard and probably wouldn’t last long. He heard the faint sound of a plane engine being started up. He raced out into the open and saw the small plane slowly moving on the runway. He ran to the car, pulled open the door and got in intending to block the runway. The plane was picking up speed now; he knew that Fred had Lorena in it with him. He drove across the runway at full speed as the plane’s speed increased. He stopped the car on the runway and jumped out. The plane was thirty meters from the car and still needed to run some more distance before it could lift off. There was no possibility of it veering off the runway as the bushes on either side were quite thick.
Fred Billings pushed hard on the plane’s brakes and brought it to a standstill a few meters from the car. He jumped out of the cockpit and started shooting at Bendoo who was hiding behind a big rock. Fred was hiding behind the car now. Bendoo had to use his service revolver as he had left the M-16 in the bushes.
Fred Billings knew that if he killed this man he stood a good chance of getting out of the country with Lorena and the two briefcases full of United States dollars. He fired again at Bendoo and missed. He squeezed the trigger of the Luger but there was a dead click and he knew that he had run out of bullets. He flung the gun in Bendoo’s direction and came at him bare handed.
As Fred came down on him, Bendoo hit him with a right to the belly.
Fred hit him under the heart and he had to pause to catch his breath. Fred’s face was twisted with hate.
“I’ll kill you, Bendoo,” he shouted as he moved in and hit Bendoo hard in the chest. Bendoo countered with a vicious onslaught on Billings’ body and he fell and Bendoo dived on top of him. Suddenly he pulled a knife and stabbed at Bendoo. Bendoo shifted his body slightly and it ripped his shirt in two. He hit the man on his forearm and the knife fell. Bendoo jumped up and Fred came at him. A loping right caught Bendoo in his right side. He had to grit his teeth to withstand the pain. Billings moved in, he was fifteen pounds heavier than Bendoo and apart from attending some of Rattigan’s self-defense classes; he had also boxed while in college. He also had an inch advantage in height over Bendoo.
Bendoo grabbed his hand in an effort to try to flip him over his head.
Fred countered by putting his foot between Bendoo’s and both of them fell. Fred was up very fast and kicked at his head, but missed as Bendoo rolled away and jumped to his feet.
The two men came at each other, then stood toe to toe and slugged it out. Bendoo’s clothes were soaked with sweat. He had hit Billings with some wicked punches and had in turn received some jolting ones too.
Lorena had gotten out of the plane, but she could only stare at the two fighters.
Bendoo was the stronger of the two men; he had weathered Fred’s blows and was ready to finish him off. He hit him in the belly with a hard left, but the man’s midsection was as hard as iron. He ripped another left to his jaw and followed it up with a right to his throat.
Fred saw a stick and ran for it. He picked it up and came at Bendoo. He struck out at Bendoo’s head, but he dodged the blow and grabbed the stick and tried to wrench it out of Fred’s grasp. The two men wrestled for the stick and Bendoo slipped and fell. Fred kicked at him and caught him in his side. It was a hard blow and he winced from the pain. Fred jabbed the stick at Bendoo’s belly trying to gouge him there, but Bendoo quickly jumped to his feet. Again Fred rushed in fast with the stick aiming to hit Bendoo on his head, but the Special Branch detective dodged the blow, grabbed the stick and jerked it out of Fred’s grasp.
Bendoo flung away the stick as Fred rushed in again. He hit Fred under the chin and received a glancing blow on his head.
Suddenly Fred spied Fox’s gun. He dived for it and spun around, Bendoo flung himself to the ground as the first shot kicked up dust at his feet.
Bendoo rolled over as he reached for his own gun. Fred’s second shot tore a hole in his pants foot. Bendoo got off his first shot and knew he had missed. Again Fred fired and Bendoo felt a searing pain in his leg. He fired and saw Fed drop from his kneeling position. Again he fired and saw Fred drop to his side and knew that he had taken it in his right side. Bendoo waited, feeling the pain in his leg, but knew that it was a flesh wound. There was no movement from Fred but suddenly Lorena ran down on him.
“Bendoo, are you all right?” she asked.
“It’s nothing, just a small wound.”
“Did you see my father? Fred shot him.”
“I saw him, but he’s not going to make it. I’m afraid he’s dead.”
He had to hold her for her not to throw herself down on the ground. After a while she pulled out of his arms.
He bent down and rolled up his pant leg, the wound was bleeding slightly.
“You got shot,” she cried out.
He looked down at his foot. There was blood on his trousers foot.
“As I told you, it’s just a flesh wound. It’s nothing to worry about.”
A ‘click’ behind him made his body tense and he flung Lorena down on the ground and dived for cover. Fred Billings shot flew over them as Bendoo spun around and fired in the same movement. The bullet caught Fred in the right shoulder and he fell.
Bendoo was over him in a second and kicked the gun out of his hand.
“Don’t move, Fred.”
The man groaned but didn’t move or say anything.
He drew Lorena off the ground and held her in his arms for her to get over her fright. He went to examine Fred. He was lying on his back and was covered in blood. Lorena came over to him and he hugged her as she started crying again.
“I don’t want any of my father’s possessions. I suppose the government will decide on what to do with them, but I don’t want anything that was earned by robbery, murder or drug running”
“Fred confessed that he was responsible for my first boyfriend, Bobby’s death. He shot daddy and pushed him out of the car. He took away my gun and used it to shoot him. He threw away my gun in some bushes.”
She was sobbing now as he held her close.
“I didn’t even know about this place. I knew that Fred had a pilot’s license, but I never thought this was why he had it,” Lorena said. “I’ve wanted to ask my father about certain of his activities, but I just couldn’t get the courage to do it. Oh Bendoo, I’ve been such a coward.”
“You are a brave girl, Lorena. I think you are going to make it even without your father,” he told her, as she held him tighter.
“Fred was always jealous of any man I talked to. I just couldn’t keep any boyfriends because of him. He wanted to run my life for me.”
“We have to treat Fred Billings as a bad guy who lost out in the end,” he told her.
Suddenly a car’s headlight shone on them, Bendoo drew his gun and put her behind him.
The car stopped some distance away and a voice Bendoo recognized as Delbert Wood’s, called out.
“Bendoo!”
“Delbert,” he shouted back.
Wood got into the car and drove over to them. He had hardly got out when there was the wailing of police sirens.
“The Chief is coming with the rest of the men, he thought that you might need help,” Wood said, glancing at Lorena.
“Woody, meet Lorena.”
The two of them shook hands.
“Sorry about your father, Lorena,” Wood told her.
“Thanks,”she said, acknowledging his sympathies.
Police cars and military jeeps raced into the compound. Some of the men got out and walked around when they saw everything was all right.
McDonald came over to Bendoo.
“Is everything all right, Bendoo?” he asked.
“Yes, sir, that’s Fred Billings over there, I shot him in the shoulder and leg. There’s the plane; he was planning to escape in. You should have come across Mc Creed’s body further up the road. Fred shot him and pushed him out of the car. Then he headed out here forcing Lorena to go with him. Luckily I was in time to save her.”
“I’m still shocked to hear that Brendan was K, Bendoo. We have to call the F.B.I, I’m sure they’ll want to question Rattigan.”
“If Rattigan cooperates we could crack one of the biggest drug trafficking rings in the world, not to mention Ardez and Mister Fox, if they talk too.”
“Sure, sure, well the whole thing is a success. Bendoo, what is Lorena going to do now that her father is dead?”
“She says that she doesn’t want any of his wealth. She’s going to live off her savings and get a job.”
“You know that we have to debrief her to learn more about the organization, but I doubt if she’ll be of much help. As for her father’s possessions I suppose that when the dust finally settles she can make her own decisions.”
“Woody must have told you about the money Fox found up at McCreed’s house.”
“Fred had two more briefcases with money on the plane,” Lorena told them.
Mc Donald nodded to acknowledge what she had just said.
“Well, that settles it then, the women at Wareika Hills will be debriefed. We found them where you told us they would be, Bendoo. Right now we have soldiers and policemen guarding the house. If their records are clean they can get their men’s possessions and they can return to their rightful homes.”
The two badly wounded men were loaded into the other ambulance that had accompanied them.
Fred was put in another ambulance. Gus McCreed’s huge body was already on a stretcher in the same ambulance. Bendoo tried to shield Lorena. But she had seen the body and burst out crying again.
“Bendoo, you have to take care of her. Has she any place to stay apart from Coopers Hill?” McDonald asked.
“I have an aunt in Vineyard Town, who I can stay with.”
“Let her give you the address and you can take her there,” McDonald ordered. “Mr. McCormack says he wants to see his car parked at his gate by the time he’s ready to go to work in the morning.”
“Yes, sir, I’ll ask Delbert to go with me to get it.”
“Well, Bendoo, are you ready and good-bye for now, Lorena.”
Everybody returned to their respective vehicle and with the ambulances leading the way they followed slowly behind.
Bendoo and Lorena walked to the Ford Capri, four men had been left to guard the plane and tomorrow it would be transported to Up Park Camp.
Bendoo had asked them to look after Lorena’s car. He then went for the M-16 where he knew he had left it. Lorena told them where Fred had dumped her gun and they eventually found it.
He returned and opened the car door for her and she got in. Then he went around to his side. They were the last to leave. Bendoo was feeling sleepy, he would need lots of it too. He knew that Lorena was not in the mood for love with all that had just happened in her life. He was willing to hang around. It would take a lot of patience on his part to convince her to start loving again, but he was willing to give it a try. He started the car and they drove off. Operation Wareika was over.

Epilogue

Fred Billings was given life for Gus Mc Creed’s murder. The majority of the Wareikans including Grosset and Premba received long prison sentences. Men such as Churchill, Errol, Huntley and Clifton are still at large. Mose and Bucky were given life for Jacob’s murder. Karl Rattigan, Wally Judge and Ben Sanderson were deported back to the United States. Gaskell Burke, Danny King, Brad Elliot, Jack Marriot, G.C. Cox, Ken Stone, Ruddy Brown and Dickson Lunan all received varying prison sentences.
Although she had brought kidnapping charges against Rattigan, Camilla refused to return to Jamaica to testify against him. She told Bendoo that she was fearful that some of the Wareikans who were still at large, might try to harm her.
After spending two more years in the force Bendoo resigned and became a life insurance salesman. Lorena was able to prove her innocence in court with regards to her father’s activities. She sold off the properties and donated the proceeds to charity. She then migrated to the United States. A year later she returned to Jamaica and got married to Bendoo. Nine months later, Bendoo resigned his job and went up to be with her. Lorena had been able to use the money left to her by her mother to pursue her masters in computer science. Despite his work as a security guard, Bendoo still found time to attend law school and qualify as a lawyer. They are both now employed in good jobs, living in Atlanta and planning a family.
Austin’s blog: stredwick.blogspot.com

The broken vow

The Broken Vow
Copyright © 2019 by Jane W.K

All rights reserved. No portions of this ebook should be reproduced whatsoever without a written permission of the Author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews and critical articles.
This book is a work of fiction. The names and characters are as a result of Author imagination and in case of any resemblance to actual person’s dead or living, it is entirely coincidental.

Chapter 1

“Another drink please.” He shouted at the bartender.
He scanned the crowd for the beautiful blonde woman with the piercing blue eyes. He had noticed her the moment she stepped into the lounge bar. Even amid other women dressed in what he would term as scanty outfits, her quiet and classic beauty stood out. The bartender passed him his drink, and as he slowly sipped the burning whiskey, Mason observed her. She was hurdled at the corner of the bar surprisingly alone. Her gaze roamed around the crowded space and briefly rested on the dance floor.
The lounge was square shaped, had a colonial style and a natural grandeur. The combination of coal tones and ash gave it a dark, sinful look which Mason thought suited it just perfectly. The jazz music was playing harmonically and was quite soothing. As he sat in his stool, Mason absorbed his surrounding and the noise it presented. The laughter and shouting though somehow annoying brought life. Coming to this lounge hadn’t been on his top agendas today, but at James insistence, he had finally caved in. Speaking of James, where was the guy? The last time Mason had checked, James had gone to the bathroom, but that was twenty minutes ago.
This night, in particular, he was grateful that James had brought him along. Left to his own devices, he would probably have been home alone brooding over his work. Ordinarily, Mason was not a bar kind of guy. He preferred scenes because they allowed him time to think.
“Hey man.” A tap on his shoulder forced him out of his thoughts.
“Where have you been?”
James sat in the stool next to him as he brushed his hair with his fingers.
“Went to the bathroom then Emma called. I have to get home. Otherwise, she will have my head on a platter.” He said in disgust. To any other person, James statement would have seemed like a complaint, but Mason knew better. The man was clearly obsessed with his wife. The two had been married three years and were joined to the bone. He knew that James appreciated Emma’s bossy nature because he loved being under her thumb.
“Okay. Go ahead. I sit here a while longer.” He said swirling his drink.
His gaze inadvertently scanned the crowd for the blonde woman and as if on cue, their gazes collided. He starred much longer than was necessary prompting James to look.
“Who is she?” James inquired.
“Don’t know. Just another girl in a crowded bar.” He shrugged hoping James would ignore the little occurrence.
“Okay man. Whatever you say. I have to leave. But be careful. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
“Sure”
He playfully shoved James away causing the smaller guy to stumble.  Laughing, James saluted him as he walked across the dance floor towards the exit. Mason averted his gaze from James’ retreating body and continued watching the blonde woman. She was having a vodka tonic prompting Mason to speculate that she was not a heavy drinker. She did not appear old, and if he were to guess, he would guess that she was in her early thirties- thirty-one or thirty-two. She seemed oblivious to the guys around her who were trying to catch her attention. Her skin was olive and glowing which Mason guessed was from a recent tan. Her competent appearance gave her a cooperate look. Her hair was held up in a bun with few strands hanging loose. Mason watched as she ran her tongue across her red pouty lips that he wanted a taste of so badly.
His eyes never strayed away from hers and as if being pulled by a force beyond her, the blonde held his gaze without wavering. Mason’s didn’t look away despite the lurch in his heart. He knew that something powerful was happening between them.
“Want a refill?” The bartender asked forcing him to break his gaze for only a second.
“No.” He hoped his voice didn’t sound too gruff. His whole body was burning. He was as hard as a rock prompting him to shift uncomfortably in the small stool. Returning his gaze to hers, he noticed that she was on her feet with her handbag firmly in place. He couldn’t let her leave. The connection they had experienced tonight was too powerful to be ignored. He acted without thinking. As fast as he could, he crossed the dance floor and caught up with her before she could reach the exit door.
He abruptly blocked her path causing her to stumble. However she regained her balance quite fast.
“I am sorry.” He said.
“It’s okay.” She muttered slowly extracting herself from his firm grip.
“My name is Mason Jones.” He said extending his hand.
He knew that he was being foolish, introducing himself to a woman he barely knew. But the moment called for idiocity. She seemed hesitant, and for a moment he thought she would ignore his hand, but fortunately though reluctantly she shook it.
“Nice to meet you, Mason.” She said smiling at him and exposing her white set of teeth. She was more beautiful up close than he had thought.
“I have to go.” She said abruptly.
“Why?… Wait.” He said as she maneuvered past him towards the exit. He kept up with her strides.
“You didn’t tell me your name.” He said in an almost whiny voice.
“My name is of no importance.”
Mason had to give it to her; she was a fast walker. As they approached her car, he placed his hand under her elbow stopping her abruptly. She tilted her head and looked at him.
“Don’t leave. I know you felt the attraction because I saw you checking me out also.”
His statement caught her by surprise a pink blush snaked its way up her cheeks. He wanted to kick himself for causing her discomfort. She lowered her gaze as a couple walked passed them. He could see she was contemplating and weighing her options, but her uncertainty gave him the confidence to continue pushing further.
“I noticed you immediately you walked in, and for some reason, I could not stop staring.”
She looked at him, and he could feel himself drowning in her beautiful blue eyes. They had a quiet moment as their eyes drowned in each other. He could not explain this moment. He just knew that he felt more alive than ever and the lines between right and wrong were quickly blurring. With the long stretch of their heated gazes, their heads started dipping towards each other and slowly, their lips locked. The kiss was slow and short-lived. She pulled away.
“I can’t do this. I don’t even know you.”
“You don’t have to know me to feel the pull of attraction.” He whispered.
She looked at him contemplatively, and he could see the wheels turning in her head.
“I don’t know… I have a proposition for you.” She said.
“What?”
“One night. I just need one night to forget.”
He had no idea what she wanted to forget, but he was happy to oblige her.
“There are rooms in this hotel. We can book one.” He suggested. Her nod though small made him feel like he had won a million bucks. He didn’t know whether what he was about to start would only be a one night stand or an event that would dictate his future. But tonight he didn’t care.

Holding her small hand, he pushed the door to their hotel room open. He switched on the lights as he ushered her into the small yet neatly kept room. The bed looked comfortable enough, and the dim lighting gave it a romantic ambiance. Had it been in different circumstances, he would have allowed them time to talk, but she had made it clear that she was not in the mood to talk. However, he needed to know her name.
“What is your name?” He probed.
“Olivia.”She replied.
She initiated the kiss. Her mouth was pressed into his as their lips molded together. He thrust his tongues and tasted each other hungrily. His kisses trailed into her neck and up her ears as he seductively bit her earlobe. She let out a breathy gasp encouraging him to continue with his exploration. They were in a tag of war, each wanting control over the other. Her back hit the wall with a slight thud. He buried his face in her neck his hands roaming down to her ass. They tore each other’s clothes off. Her slight frame cradled his now painful erection and he had to bit on his lip not to cry out. Olivia released her hair from her bun as Mason watched in fascination as it tumbled down her back. He rocked his pelvis against hers and trailed kisses up her neck whispering in her ears.
“You look very beautiful.” He croaked out releasing her breast from the constraint of her brassiere. They were perky, and her nipples stood erect.  He picked her up and she wrapped her legs around his waist. Setting her down the bed, they both grappled the remaining clothes and flung them across the room. His mouth was on hers as he slowly kissed down her neck to her nipples. Mason captured one nipple in his mouth and twirled the other with his hand causing her to gasp and arch her body in an act of pleasure. She brushed her fingers into his thick black hair as if hanging on. Mason ripped through the packet of foil he was packing, and after sheeting himself, he slide into her. The rhythms were slow at first giving them both time to master mastered each other’s bodies, but Mason quickly picked up the pace as they twined into each other until they lost their minds.

The buzzing of the phone woke him up from his stupor. Mason grabbed his phone from the bedside drawer. Shit! Three missed calls from Abby and five messages with a series of angry emojis. Jumping out of bed, Mason collected his clothes and quickly dressed up. Olivia was watching him with a guarded expression. He tried to think of something appropriate to tell her, but every thought that came to mind seemed too cliché. He wanted to ask for her number but thought against it. This was just a one night stand, and both of them seemed content with that arrangement. Fortunately, she spoke out before he had an opportunity to make a fool of himself.
“You seem in a hurry. What is the time?” She asked her voice a bit groggy from sleep.
“It’s 4 am. I need to leave. I didn’t intend to leave things as they are, but I have a bit of an emergency.”
She sat up as the sheet slide down her body exposing her breasts. If Mason wasn’t in a hurry and regretting his decision last night, he might have been tempted to get into bed with her. But for now, he had to be content with the view. She wet her lip and combed through her tousled hair.
“I think it is best that you live now.  I will sleep in and check out at six.” She said.
With a slight nod, he rummaged through her clothes searching for his pair of socks. There was a stretched awkward silence as the enormity of what they had done fully settled in. He didn’t know her, and she didn’t know him. He looked at her uncertain of how to say goodbye. What did one do after having sex with a total stranger? Should he kiss her goodbye?
“This is awkward.” She said smiling up at him shyly.
“Very.” He concurred.
“I guess I will see you around.”
They both knew that their paths were unlikely ever to cross again, but it was a polite way of saying goodbye.
“Yeah, I will see you around then.”
Having made up his mind, he leaned in and gave her a slight peck on the lips, it was not sensual- it was a kiss of two people saying goodbye.

Chapter 2

In the last three days, nothing had been right in Mason’s life. From his argument with Abby to his one-night stand, Mason seemed to have a nark of making all the wrong decisions.
“What happened last night?” James asked as he grabbed a bottle of water from the conference table.
“Things have been hard for the last few days with Abby. Yesterday was only an extension of the shitty decisions I have been making lately.”
“Where were you? Abby called Emma thinking you were at our place.”
Mason rubbed his temple. James was his best friend, and their wives were best friends, but he did not appreciate his probing. He was already dealing with a strained relationship with his wife. All they seem to be doing in the past few months was fighting. However, their fight three days ago had been explosive, and Abby had packed up and gone to stay with her parents for a few days. Therefore, it came at a surprise to him to find her home this morning after coming from a sexual rendezvous with a woman he knew nothing about.
He turned and looked at James. He knew that James would not judge him, but at the same time, he would not be happy that he cheated on his wife. He was not happy with himself either or the fact that he had hardly thought of Abby when he was with Olivia. Did that mean he didn’t love his wife? No, he didn’t think so. Abby was still the most important woman in his life. He loved her, and the thought of losing her was sickening.
“I spent the night with her.” He said abruptly.
“Who?”
“The blonde. Her name is Olivia.”
The look on James’ face would have been hilarious had the situation not been dire.
“What the fuck man! Are you crazy?”
“There was an attraction between us, and it has been a month since Abby and I had sex. Plus I wanted to feel needed.”
Having that connection with Olivia was like a gift. The attraction had been mutual and instantaneous. The look in her eyes when he had made love to her had boosted his confidence concerning his male prowess. It had been a look of sheer satisfaction that he had not seen in Abby for so long. They had lain in each other’s arms bringing a sense of contentment.
“You know that you royally fucked up.”
“Yes. I do. Don’t you think I regret it?”
As if not hearing his statement, James paced around the board room mumbling how Mason had acted foolishly and had been selfish. His emotions were spiraling from anger to sympathy and then back to anger.
“You know, if you are not happy with Abby, you have the option of divorce. You don’t have kids, so nothing is holding you together. Don’t get me wrong, I am always rooting for you two, but I’d rather see you divorced that making each other unhappy.”
Mason decided to wait him out as his ranting continued for another ten minutes.
“Will you tell Abby?”
The question brought a wave of fear.
“No, and neither will you. I don’t want Emma knowing about this either.” He said vehemently.
James rocked back and watched him thoughtfully.
“Will you see the blonde again?”
Mason didn’t think he would see her again. Of course, he was remorseful, but if he was honest, he didn’t know exactly what he felt about last night. He and Olivia had shared a connection though he could not put a name to it. The only thing he knew for sure was that the sex had been debilitating, and be as it may, he could not get the thoughts of her under him calling out his name out of his mind.
“Oh, dude. This is fucked up.” James said after seeing his hesitation.
“Can you let me figure things out for myself?”
“Of course, but whatever you do, make sure it’s what best for you and Abby. Don’t throw away your two-year marriage and five years of courtship away for a nightstand.”
“Sure. Thanks for being impartial.”
“I am your best friend. I will call you out when you are wrong and support you when you need me to.”

Abby settled behind her desk as she sipped her hot cup of coffee. She was happy that it was a slow day at work because she was not in the mood to work much. Thumbing through her phone, she found several messages from her mother and a voice mail from her husband. She unconsciously swirled the ring in her figure that was a reminder of their vows- for better or for worse. This was the worst. Her life had been spiraling out of control since she miscarried a few months ago. She had gone through a period of depression and had alienated Mason and her closest friends.
Mason had been supportive at first, but his patience had soon worn out. With a wedge drawn between them, small arguments had magnified into big fights. Mason wanted her to quit her job, something she had vehemently opposed. Their arguments had extended to other issues, and insults were hurled a few glasses broken, and tears shed. She did not think her marriage would survive until she went home and her parents helped her see how unfair she had been to Mason by withdrawing from him after the miscarriage. She had driven home hoping to apologize and work things out. Unfortunately, Mason had been absent. She didn’t know where he spent the night. He gave her a flimsy excuse that he was at work, but she knew him too well to know when he was lying.
Maybe she should go home early today, but after glancing at the clock, she quickly dismissed the idea. It was too early- Ethan might still need her. As if on cue, Ethan poked his head in her office and gave her his usual charming smile. He stepped inside and took the seat across from her.
Abby smiled at seeing his disheveled state. His usually neat middle-length brown hair today was a mess, and he had a five o’clock shadow which was unusual for Ethan.
“Having a rough day?” She asked half-jokingly.
He grabbed the cup of coffee sitting on her desk and took several sips. It was funny how much they were comfortable with each other. They had been friends longer than she had known Mason. To many, Ethan seemed like your typical ladies man, but Abby knew better. He was one of the most intelligent people she knew; otherwise, he wouldn’t have managed to start this advertising company from scratch.
Today he seemed more distracted than usual.
“Just had a nasty argument with Elizabeth.”
Elizabeth was Ethan’s off and on again girlfriend. Their relationship was complicated, and if Abby were to advise her dear friend, she would recommend a little break from Elizabeth. Their relationship was toxic, but she was not the relationship expert. Her own marriage was on the rocks.
“I think we are over. This time for real.” He continued.
He suddenly sprang off the sit and paced around the office. The break up must have affected him more than Abby thought possible. Ethan had given her the impression that Elizabeth was just a fling. Maybe he had deeper feelings for her than he let on.
“I am sorry Ethan.” She said genuinely meaning it.
He waved his hand as though to brush off her sentiment and abruptly looked at her. His eyes bore into hers- he had the greenest eyes she’d ever seen. Standing at Six-foot-two, a well-built, athletic body and a face any photographer would beg to capture on camera, Ethan was a heartthrob, and Abby was not ashamed to admit it- funny how they had been friends for over a decade and never dated. However, as soon as the thought cropped up, she quickly shook it off. She was married for crying out loud, to a man equally as handsome.
“How are you and Mason.” He asked breaking off the spell.
“I don’t know. He seems different. I came home yesterday only to find him not home. He came this morning at around four and gave me a flimsy excuse that he was working.”
“You don’t believe him?”
“I don’t know. I have learned to know when he is lying, and today, he was lying.”
“Where do you presume he was?”
Abby contemplated the question for a while before replying.
“Honestly, I don’t know. I can’t throw accusations without proof.”
Abby averted her eyes from Ethan’s piercing gaze. She didn’t want him to see the tears that were gathering in her eyes. But always the intuitive one Ethan walked around and stood beside her seat and spun her around to face him. He knelt in front of her and ran a hand over her now wet cheek. Involuntarily, Abby let the palm of her hand rest on top of his and held it there for a while. At that moment, she felt loved and content. All the neglect she had been feeling from Mason rushed over her, and a sob erupted. Embarrassed and blubbering in between sobs, she tried to pull herself away, but Ethan held her in a firm grip.
“Shhh!” He whispered.
He placed a tender kiss on her forehead and tucked a few stray hairs behind her ears.
“I am sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”
“You have the right to break down. You’ve been hurt, and the only reason I am not bushing Mason’s head for not taking care of you is that I know it would upset you.”
She let out a husky laugh. For a long moment, they were both silent, content to be left to their own thoughts. Afterward, Ethan left his position next to her and proceeded to sit down.

The sound of the front door opening made her heart leap a bit. The chicken pie was ready, cooked exactly as he liked it. She wasn’t sure what was expected of her or how she would react when she saw him. With her hand trembling, she straightened the grey t-shirt she was wearing and ran her hands over her brown hair to ensure it was still in a ponytail. Abby watched as he walked in, struck a new at how handsome he was. His piercing vivid blue eyes complemented his black hair. Mason’s eyes rested on her frame for only a second before averting them. Abby felt deflated and plastered a smile. She was determined to save her marriage despite the sacrifice it would require. She loved this man.
“Hi.” His voice sounded natural enough.
“Hi. Dinner is ready. I made a chicken pie because it’s your favorite.”
She hoped that her voice didn’t sound as breathy as she felt.
His eyes caught hers, and she saw a bit of hesitation. Guilt maybe?  She was not sure. What did he have to be guilty about? Was he having an affair? Was that the reason he had come home at four in the morning? She felt dizzy at the thought of Mason touching and caressing another woman. His love and kisses were meant for her. Maybe she was jumping into conclusions. It had been a while since they said the words “I love you,” but she was certain that he loved her. A few months cannot erase years of happiness.
He walked closer and placed a hand on the small of her back. Gently as though afraid she would break, he pulled her to him and placed a kiss on her cheek. The familiarity of his presence almost undid her. She had missed his touch, his kisses, more importantly, his attention. She closed her eyes for a second as she fought the urge to put her hands around him. She needed to take baby steps.
He took several steps away from her and looked at her warily.
“Abby, we need to talk.”
She nodded knowing very well that the talk was inevitable.
She couldn’t look him in the eye as they walked to the living room area and sat across each other. She had made a pact with herself to be reasonable and slow to anger. Neither of them said a word. Mason tapped his leg on the floor and looked like he wanted to do anything else but talk.
“I am sorry Mason.” She broke the silence.
Her apology must have caught him off-guard. He seemed unsure of himself and had the situation not been dire, Abby would have found it funny.
“Why?” He asked.
“The way I treated you. After the miscarriage, instead of letting you in and grieving together, I let myself withdraw from you. I was too selfish to see that I was also hurting you…”
“I am also partly to blame.” He interrupted her.
“I buried myself in my work and did not make an effort to connect with you. I let you withdraw, and I allowed my work to rule over me. We were both wrong.”
She was not sure how to respond. Tears threatened to spill over, but she held them at bay. They stared at each other no one saying a word. It was as if their eyes were communicating what they could not say in words.
“I love you.”
Abby had not known how much she had longed to hear those three words until he spoke them. She let out a sob and buried her head in her hands. She did not hear him approach, but he was holding her, kissing her and whispering in her ear. His hands trailed her back soothingly, and at that moment, she felt safe and loved. She cried for all the frustrations, the arguments and the loss of their son. He cried with her meshing their souls together, and healing from a past and mistakes that neither of them wanted to repeat.

Chapter 3
“We have a dinner party tomorrow,” Mason said as he adjusted his tie.
Abby wanted to tell him that it was such a short notice but decided against it. It had been a month and one week since their reconciliation. Things were good, and she preferred not to ruin the bliss.
“I understand that it is such a short notice, but it had escaped my mind.” He continued.
“No. It’s fine.”
She stood watching him with a sigh and a small smile. He looked handsome, and she was lucky to have him. Of course, he was fortunate to have her too. Abby thought. She was beautiful by anyone’s standards. Her eyes were big with a hint of brown and gold. Her hair brown hair was medium-length and framed her oval face perfectly. Her lips though small were full and she had two well-formed dimples on both sides of her cheeks. She had a toned athletic body with slight curves and a round derriere that gave her a feminine look. But she knew that what Mason loved most about her was her sense of humor and kind heart.
He looked at her from the mirror.
“How do you think Ethan is surviving now that you are absent from work?” Though his tone sounded casual, Abby could sense the underlying tension. He had never liked Ethan and had never made a secret of it. Ethan had returned his sentiments, and at times, Abby felt like they were in a battle of wits.
“He will survive. It’s just one week.”
She’d taken a week of absence just to concentrate on herself and her relationship. It is a notion that seemed to please Mason. He would never insist that she leave her job at the moment, but Abby knew that with time, he would raise that argument again.
“He acts like he cannot run the business without you. If I didn’t know any better, I would bet that the guy is in love with you and just gave you the job to have you close to him.”
His words were offensive. She had a degree in marketing and her position as the head of marketing was well-deserved.
“I think I got the job because I am a good marketer.” She bit out.
The anger in her eyes and words must have warned him to tread lightly.
“Of course. I am sorry babe.”
His words were meant to be comforting, but Abby felt the opposite.

Emma turned her brown eyes to Abby and gave her a wink as she lowered her willowy body frame into the seat opposite her. Emma was not beautiful in the classic way, but she possessed a charming personality that drew people in. Her sense of humor and loyalty were the traits that Abby loved most in her.
“You look good,” Emma said as she placed her elbow on the table.
“Thank you. So do you.”
“Things must be going great between you and Mason.” Emma baited her.
“Yeah, they are great. We are reconnecting emotionally and having sex regularly. But I still feel like he is holding a part of himself away from me. This is not the same Mason I remember before all the problems.”
She let out a sigh. She didn’t want to sound whiny, but she felt a bit lost. On a typical day, she would have confided her fears to Emma, but lately, she had been tight-lipped about her relationship. It’s not that Emma wouldn’t understand, but Abby felt unsure of herself or her thoughts.
“So are you going to the party?” Abby asked changing the subject.
“Yeah. James has been reminding me for a week about it.”
Abby felt emotions clogging her throat and was on the verge of tears. If she was being honest with herself, she was jealous of Emma and James relationship. She wished that she and Mason had a fraction of what the other couple had. Was it wrong to feel so alone? Her relationship was on the right path, but loneliness still clutched on her. For a moment the disquiet between the two friends escalated. Abby peered at Emma on top of her menu and saw the distress in the other woman’s face. Shortly after, the waiter took their orders.
“Are you okay?” Abby asked.
“Yeah. Why?” Emma asked
“You came here in your normal jovial self, and now you seem a bit distant.”
“I was just thinking about Nathan.”
Nathan was Emma and James’ five-year-old son. He was such an adorable little boy, and Abby loved him as she would love her own.
“How is he?”
Emma’s lips twitched. “Adorable as usual.”
The waiter arrived with their meals, and the site of the salmon made her stomach growl. She took a small bite and savored the taste.
“Have you heard that Joel is leaving the company?” Emma asked taking small bites of her stake.
Joel was the legal advisor of the Latter investment banking company that James and Mason worked for. He had become one of the guy’s closest friends. His presence always brought laughter and Abby liked him a lot. So the news of his resignation and impending move to another state was unexpected.
“Yes. Mason told me. We will miss him a lot. Who is taking his position?”
“I don’t know.”
They chattered along and shared laughter and reminiscing on life. Anyone observing would have thought that the two women did not have a care in the world. However, both had a lot weighing heavily on their hearts, and none was willing to share with the other- maybe not just yet.
Chapter 4
They stepped into the room, Abby in her white cotton dress that flattered her curves. She was spotting a red lipstick and had her hair up in a messy bun. Mason stood next to her in a black tuxedo. Wreaths and ribbons hang in every corner as soft, soothing music played. The sweet aroma of buffet wafted across the room. Mason spotted several familiar faces including that of James and Emma.
He turned to his wife as his gazed roamed lazily over her exposed breast and moved up to her mouth. She was magnificent- probably the most beautiful woman in the room. Memories of her smooth skin against his and the tangled sheets this morning flooded his mind. He felt the hardening of his groin and quickly squashed those thoughts. Today was an important day, and the thought of embarrassing himself in front of all these people was unfathomable. But damn, he wanted her under him, on top of him, in all angles.
“Are you okay Mason? You look flushed.”
Abby’s soft voice interrupted his perverse thoughts.
“I am okay.” He replied giving her a light kiss on the lips.
He held out his hand to her and together, they walked towards a grey-haired man in his sixties. Mason lightly touched his shoulder forcing the other man to turn.
“Hey, Mason. Glad you made it.” Turning to Abby, the man gave his most charming smile.
“Abby, beautiful as usual.”
“Thank you, Lance.”
Lance was Mason’s boss. Standing near them was a blonde woman who had the legs of a goddess. She had her back to them and seemed to be in a heated discussion with Joel. There was something familiar about her silhouette and those legs. Before he could disfigure who she was, he felt James hand on his shoulder. The other man was in the company of his wife who wore a golden fitting gown.
“Hi man,” Mason said giving him a light hug.
He turned to Emma and pecked her cheek.
“You look lovely Emma.”
“Thank you. So do you.”
He noticed that her demeanor towards him seemed slightly guarded. Maybe she is having a bad day. He thought as he watched her move towards Abby, who was laughing at something Lance said. He had always loved her laughter- it was vibrant, husky and infectious. Mason found himself smiling as he gawked at her.
“How is the wife front coming along?” James inquired.
“Good. We are not in our perfect place, but I think we are okay.”
Sipping the glass of wine James handed him, Mason observed the blonde who had yet to turn towards their direction. Something about her was unsettling.
“James, do you see the blonde talking to Joel?”
“Yes. What about her?”
“She seems a bit familiar.”
“No. I can’t say she seems familiar to me.”
“Are you guys talking about our new legal advisor?” Lance asked interrupting them.
The thought of their boss eavesdropping on their conversation was a bit disconcerting. Something in Mason’s face must have revealed his thoughts.
“I wasn’t eavesdropping.”
“Yeah. Mason thinks she looks familiar.” James was quick to answer.
Mason wanted to hit his friend on the back of his friend. But the telling smile James was throwing his way was an indication that he was trying to get a reaction out of him.
“I doubt you know her. She’s only been in Tacoma for three months… As a matter of fact, let me introduce her.”
Mr. Lance motioned for Joel who was facing their direction. As she turned, Mason saw a partial profile and felt dread and familiarity crawl their way into his body. He heard James inhale sharply as she fully turned towards them. His first impulse was to run as cowardly as that might seem. The thought of having his one-night stand and his wife in the same space was terrifying. He knew the moment she recognized him. Her eyes widened, and she visibly swallowed. However, she quickly masked her surprise. Mason threw a glance at James whose expression still looked mortified.
“Olivia Addington, I want you to meet my top investment analyst… Olivia, this is Mason and James. She will be replacing Joel.”
Mason recovered from the shock and extended his hand.
“Ooh. Here come their wives.” Lance continued.
At the mention of wives, Mason noticed the slight glance at his ring finger that Olivia cast his way. His golden ring was in place unlike the night he had met her. Her face betrayed nothing.
“Ladies, I would like you to meet Olivia. He will be replacing Joel.’
Olivia turned a charming smile to the two women. She was as beautiful as the night he had met her, more so today. But her beauty faded in the presence of his wife. But to be fair, not many women could rival Abby’s exotic beauty.
“Nice to meet you, ladies,” Olivia spoke out for the first time.
Hearing her voice starred up memories. He could almost hear her whispering in his ears and calling out his name. Fuck, he thought he had buried these memories. Apparently, his groin had a mind of its own. His heart gave a dull thud. He would never have thought that his one night-stand mistake would collide with his life. He looked at Abby’s sweet smile and felt all the more guilty. He wanted to excuse himself but knew it would be rude. Plowing his fingers through his hair, he smiled at something Lance said. He wanted to bury himself inside Abby and forget. But he was made of sterner stuff and he would persevere.

“What is wrong with Mason,” Emma asked Abby as the two women walked to the sidebar.
Abby had been wondering the same. Throughout their interaction with Olivia, Mason seemed rather rude and edgy. She had never seen him take an instant dislike to someone.
“I don’t know.”
“Enough thinking and talking about Mason. Today is our night.” Emma said handing Abby a glass of margarita.
Abby smile yet feeling oddly distant. She cast a glance towards Mason who was still talking with James, Lance, and Olivia. She realized that both Mason and James seemed strangely subdued. Abby did not know the number of margarita glasses she took but soon, it started to warm her. Everything seemed to float by. Emma appeared drunker than she. Her actions were a bit animated and her words a bit slurred.
“I love you, Abby,” Emma said placing her hand on Abby’s shoulder.
“I love you too,” Abby replied tapping the other woman’s nose.
“Why do men get so much under our skin?” Abby asked.
“Is this about Mason again?”
The bartender filled another glass for Emma.
“Who cares about him? You are the strongest woman I know Abby. If Mason can’t see that, then that’s his loss. We are women. We are strong. You don’t need him to be happy.”
If she was sober, Abby might have laughed as Emma’s kumbaya moment. But her emotions were all over.
“Am I u..nl….ov..ab..le?” She hiccupped.
“Of course not… Your husband…” She paused a moment trying to recollect her thoughts.
“…Is an asshole.”
They both laughed.
“That’s enough ladies,” James said grabbing the glasses from both of them.
“Where is Mason?”
She saw no sign of him or Olivia. James avoided eye contact as he supported Emma who was now visibly staggering.
“I think he went to the men’s room.”

“I noticed you were absent for quite some time from the party,” Abby said as she hung her coat at the small shelf in the entrance.
“And I noticed that you and Emma drunk quite a lot.” He retorted back.
She moved past him keeping a small distance as if she couldn’t bear looking at him much less touch him, and she had every right to be disgusted with him. He was angry at himself and not her. He dragged his hands down his face as he followed her down the hall into the kitchen. His encounter with Olivia had not gone as planned. He had pulled her into the patio area, and as expected, she had been angry with him.
“Why didn’t you tell me you are married?” She asked looking visibly shaken.
“I am sorry. We were going through a difficult moment at the time.”
His reply was lame. Whether he was going through a hard time or not, the fact was that he was still married.
“I don’t sleep with married men.”
“I am sorry.”
They was a strained silence each not sure what to say.
“When you told me that you wanted to forget, what did you mean?”
She folded her arms as though protecting herself from him. Her eyes held his in a stubborn defiance, and for a moment, Mason thought she would not answer.
“I was engaged six months ago, but my fiancé broke it off after seven years of being together. It was the first time in six months that I let myself feel the touch of another man. I wanted to feel again.”
Her explanation further plummeted him in a chain of guilt. She held his gaze, her stare transforming form the guarded look she had earlier to one raw with emotions.
“I liked you. After that night, I was planning to look you up.” She said taking a step towards him.
“Why did you choose me?” Olivia asked, her fingers playing with the edges of his coat. He meant to pull away, but the thoughts of the other night kept him firmly rooted in place.
“I don’t know. I just noticed you.”
He senses coming back, and he took a step back.
“I am married, and I love my wife.”
“Did you think about her that night?”
He was ashamed to admit that thoughts of his wife had been so far from his mind. But he couldn’t tell her that.
“I hope we can maintain a professional relationship now that we will be working together.”
His statement must have cleared the haze, as she dropped her hand and took a step back.
“Of course.”
Everything seemed to have been going well; that is why it had been surprising when she had leaned over and kissed him. At first, he had been in shock and had returned her kiss, but he later pulled away.
“That cannot happen again.” That had been his parting shot.

“I am sorry babe,” Mason said as he pressed himself behind Abby’s back.
He trailed a few kisses down her neck and captured her breast over the fabric of the dress. She pulled herself away just for a moment surprised by his action. His eyes were oozing passion, and this prompted Abby to pull back in and his lips captured hers. The kiss was slow, their tongues colliding. He nuzzled her neck as his lips moved to her earlobes. Clasping his hands around her butt, he pulled her closer to him and felt her thigh press against his erection. He slowly unzipped her dress and watched as slide down her body. He released her breast from the clasp of the brassiere gently sucking her red nipples. She inhaled sharply and arched her body back from pleasure. He released her nipple and let her help him pull off his clothes. Abby pulled her lacy panties off and tossed them on the floor.
Mason marveled at the sight of her. She was beautiful with curves in all the right places. He carried her to the living room and placed her gently on the couch. He peered at her, and the passion in her eyes almost undid him. Mason slowly and carefully entered her filling her with his love. She surrendered herself to him as they chests pressed together. A small grin spread across Abby’s lips.
“What?” He asked as he rested his elbow on the seat. It took every self-restraint not to move inside her.
“This is the first time since losing the baby that we are having sex without a condom.”
Mason had completely forgotten about the condom. He realized he could feel her all around him which seemed more intimate. He wiggled a little causing her to giggle.
“I like it this way.” He said as he drove in harder.
His slow strokes changed to faster harder movements. Abby screamed his name over and over again until they both had their release.
Chapter 5

The light knock on the door startled him from his work.
“Come in.” He called out.
He watched as Olivia walked into his office in her elegant office pencil dress. The sight of her made him instantly regret asking her to come in. She had been a pain in the ass for the last five months. She had been harassing him at work and sometimes at home. Her sheer obsession with him was growing out of control. Had he known that this was what he would have to deal with, he would not have hooked up with her in the first place. She was taking antidepressants and sometimes, she would go off her meds making her more erratic. Upon further digging, he had learned that Olivia had broken up with her former boyfriend because of her obsessive tendencies.
“What do you want?” He knew that his tone was rude, but he was past trying to act friendly around her.
She stared at him for a while, a stare that Mason returned. She seemed ignorant of his mounting irritation.
“I am sorry.” She muttered as she sat down.
“Why are you sorry?” he asked incredulously.
“I know I am not the easiest person to deal with, but I do love you.”
Mason snorted because the woman who stood in front of him did not know the difference between love and obsession. He knew that he was to blame because a month after she started working for the company, he had given in to temptation and had been intimate with her. Mason was ashamed that he had continued with this affair for two weeks. But when she uttered the words “I love you,” Mason had come back to his senses. He didn’t love her. Truth be told, at first he was attracted to her, but the attraction had quickly fizzled out. So when she had declared her love for him, he had run. Unfortunately, the damage was already done.
“You have to stop this craziness.”
“Why? There must be a reason you chose me over your wife.”
“I never chose you over my wife. Those two weeks were a mistake.”
She let out a sarcastic laugh.
“So you just use me and toss me away like I am nothing? I will not have that Mason.”
He gave her an icy stare and massaged his temple.
“What do you want from me, Olivia?”
“I want you to love me. I want you to be with me.”
He wanted to shout that he loved his wife. Despite his actions, he loved Abby. However, he thought otherwise given her unstable mental state. He resolved to keep his cool.
“I need you to leave Olivia. I have a meeting in ten minutes. We will talk about this later.”
His voice was calm not betraying his inner turmoil. She stared at him for a second too long as though trying to read his mind. Fortunately, the ringing of the phone broke the tense moment.
“Okay. But we are not done yet.”

“How is my lady?” Ethan asked as he joined Abby for lunch. He had always called her “my lady” since the day they’d met, a term Abby found endearing though it infuriated Mason.
“I am great. To what do I owe the honor of your presences? I thought bosses ate in their offices.” Abby remarked jokingly. Ethan never joined her for lunch. He always hibernated himself in his office which in Abby’s opinion was too dull and depressing.
A slow grin spread across his face.
“You are glowing today.”
“You think?” She asked as she flattened her hair with her hand.
Ethan made an appraisal of Abby’s appearance. He stared at her with those eyes Abby had always thought beautiful. Eyes that had always been able to look at her and know exactly what she was feeling. She felt a bit self-conscious under such scrutiny. He gave her a crooked grin making his eyes twinkle.
“Relax Abby I am not going to bite.”
“Then don’t stare.”
She formed a repugnant wrinkle around her nose making Ethan smile. Their friendship was so natural, and in some cases, Abby found herself confiding in Ethan more than she did with Emma. It was not because she didn’t trust Emma but because she had been friends longer with Ethan than anyone else and anyway; Emma was preoccupied with her husband and kids. With a chuckle, he took a bite of his pasta.
“I am thinking of opening a company branch in London.”
His news was unexpected. This was the first time Abby had heard of it.
“I should have known. Any time you are nice to me, you are preparing me for unexpected news.”
“I am always nice to you.”
Abby propped up her head on one elbow as she watched him. He was a hardworking man and devoted most of his time in the office.
“I have found an investor in London who is willing to invest in the company.”
“When is this?”
“Maybe two months from now.”
She knew the implications of his words. He would have to move to London to get the business up and running. She felt a heavy clutch in her heart. Not having him around would be difficult. She swallowed the feeling down and decided to be a supportive friend.
“That’s nice.”
Ethan reached for her hand across the table.
“How long have we been friends?”
“Eighteen years.” She breathed out.
“You were an awkward twelve-year-old girl who I loved teasing mercilessly, and today, you are a thirty-year-old extremely beautiful woman who I couldn’t be more proud of. I would have asked you to come to London with me, but there is the issue of Mason.”
She pursed her lips to hold down a giggle. Ethan never missed an opportunity to insult Mason. He had never hidden the fact that he didn’t like him for his best friend.
“But if you decide to leave him, my offer is open.”
He caressed her upper arm in circles, a move that caught Abby off guard. Ethan had never given any indication that he liked her. She had once had a huge crush on him when she was seventeen, and he was nineteen going to college. His first year in college away from her had been hard. At the time, she had promised herself that when he came home for summer she would let him know she liked him. Unfortunately for her, he had come home with a girlfriend.  Since then, she had decided to squash any feelings she had towards him. Meeting Mason had helped her achieve that.
“Thank you Ethan. You’ve always been there whenever I need you.”
“Anytime. I’ll always have your back.”

The table had been laid, and the chicken looked alluring. Everything was well-organized and the candles lit in the semi-dark room. Abby wanted a romantic night with her husband. She opened a bottle of red wine and poured herself half a glass. She placed an empty glass close to Mason’s vacant seat. Everything was now in place.
“Is dinner ready?” She heard Mason ask his steps approaching the dining area.
“Yes.”
She felt a flutter of panic as she cast another look at the table. What was wrong with her? This was Mason. There was no reason to be nervous. As if on cue, he appeared in the dining door, his hair ruffled and wet from showering. He surveyed the whole setting, and a slow grin spread across his face.
“What is this?”
“I thought we should have a quiet supper. It has been a while since we talked. Both of us are always working late.”
He approached her and snaked his arms around her waist. Wiggling her just a little, he gave her a light kiss.
“Do you know how much I love you?” He whispered in her ear causing a slight shudder.
“No.”
“You don’t?” He asked tickling her. The room was filled with laughter as she retaliated by tickling him back. He was even more ticklish than her.
“Thank you, Abby.” He said sobering up.
He pulled her seat and proceeded to settle in his. It was a cold night but rather bright as the moon shone in all its glory. Abby looked at Mason’s comic face as he detailed today’s activities at work. She felt a thrill of pleasure at their intimacy.
“Ethan is expanding his business to London. He will be moving soon.”
“And I bet he asked you to go with him,” Mason said in his most sarcastic tone, a sneer marring his face.
“You know he only has good intentions.”
“You always take up for him. The guy can hardly stand me.”
“And whose fault is that?” She snapped at him.
Ethan always thought that Mason was an egotistical and selfish man and some days, she agreed with him.
“What is that supposed to mean.”
His face was cold and his voice curt. Abby was clever enough to know when to back down. She did not want to ruin the night.
“Nothing. Let’s not fight.”
He nodded, but his demeanor seemed more reserved than before. They chattered on about life, the future, career and anything else they could think of.  Abby listened to him intently as he spoke about his desire for more children. He had a mellow and husky voice that she had always considered sexy.
The ringing of the phone disrupted them from their conversation.
“I think I should take that,” Abby said.
“No. Just let it go to voicemail. Today is our night.”
Unfortunately for them, it was impossible to have a quiet night with the phone ringing every five minutes.
“Maybe I should take it,” Mason said pushing his seat back.
“Yeah. Do that. Let me take something from the bedroom.”
She walked softly up the stairs to their room. She could hear Mason’s angry whispers from downstairs. She couldn’t imagine who would be calling at this time so persistently. She was never a distrustful woman, but Mason’s actions nowadays were strangely suspicious. He preferred taking calls in his office where she could not hear him. This might not have seemed strange to anyone else but for the years they had been married, Mason had always picked up his calls in her presence. He also seemed a bit edgy. Maybe she was being paranoid, but her gut told her something was awfully amiss.
At that, Abby felt her curiosity get the better part of her. She walked to the bedroom extension phone and quietly picked it up.
“Don’t call my home ever again.” Mason was saying.
On the other end, there was a prolonged silence. Abby felt stupid for being suspicious of her husband, and was about to put the phone down when a soft strained voice replied.
“I need you, Mason.”
“I told you Olivia, whatever happened between us was a mistake. I love my wife, and I will not leave her for you.”
“Then I will tell Abby everything.”
“Don’t you dare! If this continues, I will file a harassment complaint at work.”
“If you do that, everyone will know everything. How long do you think it will be before Abby finds out?”
Mason was quiet, and Abby could hear him swear in the background. She couldn’t stand listening to them anymore. She placed the phone down this time none too slowly.

Mason heard the click on the other phone and knew that someone had been on the other line. He quickly hanged up and ran upstairs taking two steps at a time. The bedroom door was ajar, and his wife was sitting on the bed her skin as pale as snow. She looked at him and couldn’t hide the anguish in her face. Abby knew. His wife knew that he had betrayed his marriage vows and strayed. Blood rushed in his brain and color drained from his face.
“Since when?”
He rubbed his fingers repeatedly across his now moist brow.
“I am sorry Abby.”
He cautiously approached her, but before he could touch her, she jumped from the bed and paced around the room.
“No-no. Don’t touch me… Since when?”
“I met her the night I came home at four in the morning.”
“Were you with her?”
His face crumpled as he replied “yes.”
“Was that the only time?”
“No, a month after she joined the company, I had a two-week affair, but I ended it. I ended it because I love you.”
“Ooh, thank you for the favor.” She spat the words like acid.
“Why?” She choked out.
“I don’t know. The first time it was because our relationship was strained. I needed the attention. But the subsequent two-weeks affair was something that just happened.” He said shame-faced.
“How could you do this to us? You were not the only one in need of attention. I also needed you, but you didn’t see me going out there, and sleeping with the first guy that came my way. I held on to this relationship because I was sure of your love. But now, I can even stand to look at you.”Her voice broke as a stream of tears flowed down her glossy cheeks. Mason wanted to touch her and assure her that he loved her, but he knew that would not be enough. She needed to vent and heal, and then maybe they would go back to normal.
It all happened so fast, at one moment she was standing at the corner of the room, and next, she was flailing her hands on his chest.  He didn’t try to shield himself from her punches. He knew he deserved it. She looked like a crazed animal. Her hair lay loosely on her shoulder, her eyes blazing fire. She slapped him hard across the face, but he remained immobile though his cheek stung like hell. Abby stepped back looking confused and lost. Mason stared at her hoping his eyes relayed the guilt and regret he felt.
“You are a bastard.” She shouted.
Mason hang his head low like a deer caught in the headlights. The taste of bile was bitter in his throat. He had never seen his wife out of control. She always maintained her composure even when they fought. The woman standing before him looked shuttered and broken, and he was responsible for placing her in that state.
“Please forgive me, Abby.” He pleaded.
The look of utter hatred masked her face.
“I need to leave.” She said.
Her eyes were red-rimmed, and her face puffy.
“Please don’t go.” He begged as he walked to block the door. He was going to beg if that’s what it took to keep her.
“Get out of my way Mason!” Her command left no room for argument. She threw her bag at him, but he ducked. She came flying with fists and kneed his groin. With seething pain, Mason let out a groan as he fell on his knees. She was out and running before he could finally get his bearing right.

Abby stood huddled outside Emma’s door. She had driven around the park for almost an hour crying until she had gone numb. Her phone was blowing up with calls and messages from Mason and Emma. At first, she had taken Mason calls and called him every name in the universe but later, the fight had gone out of her. Now as she stood outside the door, Abby wrapped her arms tightly around her small frame, her skin chilled from the unforgiving cold. Her teeth chattered uncontrollably and despite the effort she made, she could not stop herself from shaking. Maybe I am going to die from the cold. I bet Mason would like that. She thought almost sarcastically.
“Abby. Oh, my God. Look at you.” Emma exclaimed as after opening the door.
She placed both arms around Abby’s shoulders, helping her into the house.
“I am sorry for coming here, but I didn’t know where else to go.”
“You don’t have to explain, honey. My home is your home.”
James came running down the stairs looking frantic, his phone in his hand.
“Hey, Abby. Mason has been calling me for the last hour. How are you?” He asked placing his arms around her and pulling her into a brotherly hug.
“Did you know?” Abby croaked. Her voice was so husky it seemed almost foreign to her.
James pulled away, looking at her apologetically.
“He told me the first time he met her. When she started working with us, I didn’t think he would pursue things with her. You two were doing great. I asked him to tell you after I learned about their office affair. I am so sorry Abby.”
Abby pulled away feeling almost disconnected from her boody. She knew that she couldn’t blame James. He was not her husband; it was not his responsibility to protect her. She fell back into Emma’s arms.
“I am so sorry Abby. I also knew about them and I should have told you.”
Abby pulled away casting a confused look at Emma. What could she possibly mean by she knew? Emma was her best friend. Granted that she never disclosed everything to Abby, but loyalty and trust was the core pillar of their friendship. Could Emma possibly hold such a secret from her? Maybe she had heard her wrong. Yeah, that’s right. She was just too exhausted and was hearing things wrong.
“What do you mean?” She asked her voice just above a whisper. She needed to confirm that her hearing was failing her.
“I knew about the affair.”
Her words registered, but Abby was not sure how to respond. Her heart had been broken by Mason, but now it was shattered. Did she know so little about the people that surrounded her?
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I was caught between a rock and a hard place. James had told me in confidentiality. Plus I only knew about their first encounter, I didn’t think Mason would pursue it further.”
“Oh, my God, and you think that makes it okay.”
She shouted, her voice vibrating in every corner of the house.
“Keep your voice down. Nathan is sleeping.” James whispered.
Abby was frantic, her spirit crushed from today’s chain of events.
“How could you Emma?”
Her friend was now in tears with her hands folded securely around her waist area.
“It was not Emma’s fault. I asked her not to tell you. So if you want to blame someone, blame me.”
If the situation was different, Abby would have been proud of James honorably taking up for his wife. But this was a different situation. The three of them had betrayed her trust and hurt her to the core. How dare James rebuke her for shouting at Emma? To hell with all of them.
“I’d better leave.” Her voice was now steely.
“Don’t leave,” Emma begged.
Tears stung Abby’s eyes as she looked at Emma’s pleading face, a pulsing pain searing through her brow.
“I need to go. I want to be alone.”
Both Emma and James did not try to stop her as she left.
Chapter 6
Abby sat at the edge of Ethan’s bed feeling nauseated and mildly disconnected.
“Are you warm?” Ethan was asking.
Deep lines of concern marred his beautifully sculpted face. Abby wanted to nod, but she could not find the energy to do anything other than stare. For a moment, there was absolute silence, neither Ethan nor Abby talked. No one breathed.
“Is there anything I can do?” Ethan said eventually, his voice barely audible.
What could she tell him, I want my life back? I hope this is a nightmare? She jumped to her feet pacing around the room in the small space between the wall and the bed.
“Why did he do this to me?” She whispered.
Standing beside her, Ethan gently placed his hand on her stiff shoulder. He turned her towards him, and the kindness and love in his eyes almost undid her.
“I can’t give you an answer as to why, but I can tell you that you are a beautiful woman who deserves better.”
Abby was not sure what prompted her to act. Maybe it was the concern in his voice or her own shuttered heart. She would debate on that later, but slowly as though unsure of herself, she captured his lips with hers. At first, she thought he would push her away appalled by her actions, but Ethan’s lips molded into hers. His lips were soft and his kiss gentle. They stood lip locked for a few minutes before Ethan pulled away.
“We can’t do this Abby.”
His rejection stung her pride. Something in her eyes must have alarmed him on her train of thoughts because he quickly quipped.
“Don’t get me wrong. I always have wanted to do that for years. But I cannot take advantage of you right now. When I have you, and I pray I will someday, I want you to be sober-minded and sure it’s me you are craving for and not that bastard Mason.”
His shallow breath and glassy eyes were enough evidence that the kiss had affected him and as selfish as it sounded, that satisfied Abby.
“Can I stay here for a while?”
“Yeah as long as you want. You can sleep in this room. I will take the guest room.”
Abby nodded, returning to her position on the edge of the bed. Ethan was a good friend. He stayed with her, encouraging her to talk it out. She cursed Mason and cried, eventually questioning her friendship with Emma. Ethan listened not interrupting her at any given time. Eventually, he helped her get under the bed covers as she fell into a deep stupor.

I love you, Abby. I have always loved you since the first day we met. These words were a chorus that played in his mind over and over again. Even as he stood in Ethan’s living room, he wanted to scream out for his wife. But the other man stood hands akimbo next to the stairwell case.
“What do you want Mason.” Ethan spat out his name like acid.
Mason couldn’t blame the other man. He had been Abby’s best friend even before Mason came in the picture. It was clear to Mason that Ethan was in love with Abby, and that had always goaded Mason. Abby seemed oblivious to her best friend’s feelings or opted to be ignorant.
“I need to see my wife.” He demanded.
He knew his voice was loud, but he could care less. I f he woke up Abby, the better.
“She doesn’t want to see you. To be quite honest, I don’t know what she saw in you. I knew you were trouble from the first time I met you.”
“No one cares for your opinion. You can hardly keep a woman in your life, because you are busy lasting over mine.”
“Well, at least I am not a sexual freak who can hardly stay faithful to one woman. You must be miserable for you to seek validation from other women. God knows how many you’ve had.”
Mason threw a punch aiming at Ethan’s jaw, but the other man was quick on his feet. He moved his head before the blow could land. Mason realized his mistake when he remembered Abby warning him a few years back not to pick a fight with Ethan because the other guy was a martial arts expert. Before he could react, Ethan’s fisted hand connected with his jaw. Mason fell back spitting blood. He slowly got up intending to retaliate any way he could when they both heard Abby’s voice.
“What’s going on?” She asked.
She looked beautiful in her sleeping attire and ruffled hair. She walked down the steps her eyes fixed on Ethan.
“Your husband came looking for you. He tried to come at me, and I put him down.”
The smirk on Ethan’s face made Mason want to beat the guy to a pulp. He was gloating for humiliating him.
“Are you okay?”
Her concern was directed at Ethan who was standing unscathed. She glanced at Mason with a frown.
“What are you doing here Mason?”
“I need to talk to you. Can we go somewhere more private.”
“No. I don’t want to see you. In fact, I will be leaving for London with Ethan.”
Her announcement caught the two men off guard. Mason stumbled back horrified about the idea of losing her.
“Are you sure?” Ethan asked.
“Yes.”
“So you are leaving me for him?”
Mason’s words seemed to anger her all the more. She stormed towards him, her eyes blazing.
“Why do men always have to think that women cannot do without them? I am going to London to work. I can do without a man most certainly you. And if I decide to pursue things with Ethan, it will be because I choose to and not because I need anyone. You will be hearing from my lawyer about our divorce soon.”
With finality, she went up the stairs leaving the two men staring, one in satisfaction and another in pure terror.
“I think you can see yourself out, Mason.”

It was pouring heavily, but Mason did not care. Rain drenched him sticking his suit to his body like glue. He got in his car, slamming the driver’s door shut with a thud. The beat of water pounded the roof of the car. It had been two months since Abby left him, and in three days, she would be going to London. He had tried to reason with her, but she had made it perfectly clear that she did not condone any man cheating on her nor would she put up with the same. The more Mason begged, the colder she became. Three weeks ago, she had filed for a divorce, and he had promised not to fight her on that ground.
Mason propped his head on the back of the car seat and stared at the dark horizon. Water ran down his hair and snaked its way down his neck to his back. He was not an overly religious man, but at this moment, he would appreciate any divine intervention he could get. He implored God to bring her back. He even threatened Lance to quit his job if Olivia was not fired. Lance had not appreciated the threat.
                 
Mason and Olivia sat across Lance who truth be told looked like he was ready to fire them at any given moment. His boss was much more foreboding when his business was on the line. The squabbles between his lawyer and best investment banker were getting out of hand.
“How are you and Abby?”
His question seemed to spark an interest in Olivia who was sitting beside him. He saw rather felt her sit up straighter as she focused her gazed on him. Mason wanted to choke her, but killing her would only land him in jail. She was not worth it.
“She is proceeding with the divorce.”
Lance shifted slightly in his chair, marring his face with a frown of disapproval. Despite being friendly to all his subordinates, Lance was a difficult and sour man.
“Maybe it’s only right that she leaves you. Someone needs to call you out on your actions.” Lance said with just a hint of sarcasm. He leaned over and placed both elbows on the desk casting a look of contempt at both Mason and Olivia. Mason tried not to squirm in his seat. He was feeling awfully uncomfortable being under such intense scrutiny. Olivia, on the other hand, appeared perfectly comfortable and oblivious to the tension. Well, that’s because she is insane. He thought almost laughing to himself.
“Is anything funny?” Lance asked.
Oh my, was he smiling?
“No. Nothing is funny sir.”
Why did he feel like he was in the principal’s office on the verge of being expelled?
“I don’t usually get involved in people’s business unless it’s affecting my company and in this case it is. You two have been in a cold war that is rubbing some of my prominent clients the wrong way.”
He paused as if for effect. He leaned back in his seat, tipping it back, his eyes never straying from them. Despite the tension being too intense, neither he nor Olivia spoke.
“I guess no one is perfect, but to be honest, I thought you were an honorable man. It came as a surprise when I heard of your rendezvous in my office. I must admit that I am quite disappointed.” His comment was directed at Mason. Mason wanted to go on the offense but decided against it. He knew Lance better to know that he would throw him out if he dared contradict him. His boss was a ruthless SOB.
“I don’t care how you two work things out, but I want peace in my office.”
As the indignation of the man’s voice grew strident, Mason’s anger also grew. How dare Lance judge him? Wasn’t the man divorced twice?
“In all respect sir, I ended things with Olivia amicably. I am ashamed of what I did and how much I hurt my wife, but Olivia has been harassing me.”
Lance turned his gaze at Olivia who had yet to speak out.
“Olivia, what do you have to say for yourself?”
“Nothing sir, just that Mason led me on and when I fell in love with him he left me high and dry. I think he should be held accountable for his actions.”
Her statement infuriated Mason all the more, and he blurted out without thinking.
“I cannot work with her anymore.”
“And what do you propose I do?” Lance asked lifting one eyebrow.
“It either she leaves, or I do?”
The silence that followed was unnerving. Lance was glaring at him, and Olivia looked disgusted almost nauseated.
“So you expect me to do you favors after you messed up. I don’t respond well to threats Mason.”
He knew he had taken a big gamble by giving an ultimatum, but hey, a guy had to try. Would he quit his job if Lance did not meet this ultimatum? Probably not. If Abby had stayed, he would have made good of his threat and quit. But now that she was leaving, there was no use losing his means of income as well.
“I will not be firing Olivia because you asked me to, if you want to quit, then hand me your resignation first thing in the morning. If not, I expect you two to find common ground.”
“Of course sir, I give my word to separate my love life with my work life. What about you Mason?” Olivia asked turning to him with a smug on her face.
“Our personal lives will not affect our work. I give you my word.” Mason said fixing his gaze at Lance.
“Okay. Then get out of my office both of you.”
Mason couldn’t get out of the office fast enough. How could Lance be so unreasonable? Mason thought he would at least take his side.
“What the fuck. You wanted to have me fired?” Olivia asked as she closed the door behind him.
Mason ignored her choosing not to justify himself. He continued walking as she followed close behind him.
“You know what Mason, now that you and your wife are separated, I don’t find you so alluring. I am ashamed to admit to myself that I preferred when we were sneaking around because of the thrill. Actually, knowing that you were unavailable turned me on.”
She seemed to contemplate her next words.
“Anyway, see you around.” She walked away with that parting shots.
He was an ass. He had destroyed his marriage for a whim and almost destroyed his career. He had a full night to feel sorry for himself, but right now, it was eleven thirty, and he had a meeting

His eyes stung as the enormity of what had become his life finally settled in. He tried to force his mind to go blank, but the pain in his joints kept him fully aware of his situation. At the moment, he did not know where he ended, and Abby began.
As much as he wanted to be lost in this moment, he had to go home and work on a project. He inserted his car key in the ignition, and the engine came to life as he clenched his fists on the wheel. He was bleeding from the core of his spirit. Mason ran a hand over his eyes as tears squeezed their way down.

“When will you be leaving?” Emma asked, sipping her hot coffee.
“The day after tomorrow,” Abby replied.
They were sitting in the kitchen area in Emma’s house. After stewing for a week, Abby had finally reconciled with Emma. She somehow understood what Emma must have gone through being caught between her husband and friend. Abby could not fault her for her decision.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay?”
Abby’s lips lifted in a small smile. “Yes, I am sure.”
Her tone was calm and quiet. Many people had questioned her decision including her parents. They thought she was being too hasty, but Abby knew that this is what she needed. She needed time away from anything that reminded her of Mason and their former life. Abby stared at the wooden counter and slightly fingered a groove in the wood. Her life had changed drastically in the two months she had been separated from Mason. She had learnt to love herself which was something she seemed to have forgotten. It still hurt thinking of Mason and imagining a life without him, but she knew that with time, the pain would dull down and her new chapter would start.
“This is not just about Mason cheating on me. I need to find myself. I have devoted a lot of time, fighting with him and mourning my baby that I let myself go. I need to discover me before I let any other man in.” She said almost absently.
“Do you think that in future you will give Mason another chance?”
Emma’s question was expected but a bit annoying. Abby was tired of people trying to make sense of what Mason did, and subsequently trying to get her to reconsider the divorce. She had made up her mind, and she refused to budge. Thank God for her father’s support. He was ready to kill Mason and hang him out to dry.
“I don’t want him in my life. It’s a fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, kind of situation.”
Emma gave a slight nod.
“I will miss you.”
“I will miss you too. But we will only be gone for eight months. Once the company stands on its own, I will be back, and we can eat cheerios all day long.”
They both laughed knowing that things are not always that easy.

Abby sat across Mason in the living room that had been hers for years. Looking at him, he didn’t look like the man she had known and loved for years. He was always one to maintain neatness including a clear stubble, but today, he had a five o’clock shadow. He also appeared gaunt with the dark circles under his eyes very evident to his pale complexion. As she looked at him, she could see that the reality of his actions was dawning on him. He gave her a weary look, his shoulders slumped and his hands neatly folded between his thighs.
His lost puppy appearance made the ache in Abby’s heart bigger. She wanted to comfort him and assure him that everything would be okay. But she didn’t have the heart to do that. Why should she show him mercy when he had shown her known during his affair? Abby knew that this ache would relent for a while, but she was okay with it. With time, she would heal and if anything, she knew this experience would make her stronger.
“So you are leaving tomorrow.”
It was more of a statement than a question. The frayed strand of hope that he had shown earlier seemed deflated his face appearing defeated.
“Yes. Around six in the evening.”
“So when will you be back?”
“In eight months. Once the London branch is firmly on its feet, Ethan and I will come back.”
As he watched Abby in her fitted blue jeans and a purple panelled blouse, Mason couldn’t help but wonder why he was attracted to Olivia in the first place. His wife- well soon to be ex-wife was beautiful both on the outside and inside. He watched her to his feel. Agreeing to the divorce was the most painful decision he had ever made. But he knew if he fought it, she would wound up hating him.
“I just wanted to make sure that you understand that I don’t want anything from this divorce.”
Her refusal to fight for any asset annoyed him. Did she want to forget him that fast? He wanted a piece of him with her. But he nodded dutifully something he has been doing a lot lately.
“Is this your final decision?” He had asked for good measure.
She was quiet as she observed him. He hoped that his eyes showed how much he wanted her. Mason did not care whether he looked pathetic as long as he got her back. Abby ran her tongue over her lips reminding Mason of the times he had spent kissing that mouth. Right now, he wanted to taste her mouth and feel her skin against his. She had always been a very responsive woman. The thought of those lost moments made him shiver.
“This is what is best for me and maybe you. You need to know what you want in life, and I need to spend time loving me.”
He wanted to shout, I already know what I want but he remained silent. He was going to let Abby go and hopefully, she would find the inner peace she was looking for.
“Okay. I assume you will be communicating through your divorce attorney?”
“Yes.”
The brokenness in her eyes was too much to bear. Mason had never thought of how his actions affected others, but watching Abby, he realized how much he had destroyed her. Maybe it was only right she get away from him. He also needed to discover himself and focus on work.
“I am sorry Abby and I hope that one day my apology can mean something to you.”
He could tell that she was struggling not to cry. He loved that she had always been stubborn, but lately that stubbornness had been aimed at him. As he watched her rise from the seat, he knew that their relationship was at an inevitable end.
“Maybe someday Mason. I wish you all the best.”
The small kiss she gave him on the cheek served as their final goodbye.
Prologue

She held the phone firmly until her hand turned white. She couldn’t speak.
“Is everything okay?” Ethan asked from behind her. She turned too quickly and stumbled, but Ethan was quick to grab her. Their eyes met and held.
“I am pregnant.” Her reply was only above a whisper.
She had only been in London for one month, and everything was going as planned. She hardly thought of Mason, as she and Ethan spent their time working and free time strolling the streets of London. She had realized her periods had been absent two months after her separation but had attributed it to the stress. Now she was three months pregnant. How could she not have noticed?
“Wow.” Ethan breathed out.
It was a bittersweet moment for Abby. How would she break the news to Mason? Would this change the nature of their relationship? As though reading her thoughts more specifically her facial expression, Ethan asked, “When will you tell him?”
“I don’t know. The divorce is being finalized in two weeks. I think I will tell him after.”
Ethan seemed to contemplate her reply for a while.
“Do you think that’s right? I don’t like the guy, but even I would not want any woman to hide the fact that they are having my baby.”
Abby hated when Ethan presented a rational argument, nonetheless in this instance, she would wait. Two weeks could not hurt. She did not want to disrupt the divorce process because she had no intention of going back to Mason.
“Will you go back to him?”
His question seemed innocent enough, but Abby could detect an undertone of disappointment. She knew he loved her and maybe one day she would return his sentiments. Just not now.
“No. We will co-parent. I can’t risk going back and having the same happen to me again. I wouldn’t handle it.”
“Okay. But after the divorce is done, you will need to tell him. Okay?”
He lifted her chin and peered in her eyes. He was the most loving man she had ever met. He devoted his time making her happy since they were young. As Abby stared at Ethan’s adoring eyes, she was grateful that he was here sharing this moment with her. She couldn’t have chosen a better person.

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