Dydre Rowyn wants out, but to leave her working relationship with Clayborne Zsigmond, a ruthless black market arms broker, could be a bullet.
In a world of espionage, deception, betrayal, terrorism, and murder, Dydre uses the next assignment Zsigmond gives her—the deliverance of new technology to terrorists—to escape his merciless grip. The risk she takes puts her on the firing line when her plan goes deadly wrong, and success looks bleak. Not only is her life in jeopardy but also her son’s as she finds herself pitted against Zsigmond, his mercenaries, a double-crossing businessman, terrorists, the FBI, and a man from the Department of Defense.
From Patrick Parker, author of Treasures of the Fourth Reich, this suspense-filled thriller crosses the globe with death only a heartbeat away as Dydre maneuvers through a maze fraught with danger at every turn.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
After working in the defense industry for over fifteen years I got to see some of the latest military equipment and technology. Current and past vents played a major role in the story.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Dydre is a product of several women I knew, then added the spice to make up my female protagonist.
Anthony is based on a couple of Army officers I knew. Always need a good Army officer.
Clay is a collection of numerous people.
April 4, 1994
L’Oiseau Blanc was a dangerous place to be—especially for a white woman at night. Although a fragile peace currently existed between the Tutsis and Hutus, tension filled the warm evening air like the calm before a thunderstorm. On a night like this every dubious character for miles would be out.
The woman entered the bar, which was located in a seedy part of Kigali. Her boots thumped the bare wood floor as she crossed the room with confidence, and sat in an out-of-the-way booth in the corner with her back to the wall. A zebra hide draped over the back concealed a large split in the well-worn leather of the booth. Dim lights suspended from the ceiling struggled to penetrate the dense haze from cigarettes, cigars, and everything else that was being smoked. Old ceiling fans hummed, but did little to move the humid tropical air. Music blared from an antiquated jukebox, but no one seemed to pay any attention to it, just as long as it played. A large corkboard covered with notes, advertisements, and business cards was nailed to the wall by the entrance. Numerous crossed spears and shields, animal hides, and skulls decorated the walls. A dust-covered wooden statue of a gorilla, sporting a sweat-stained bush hat and a sign around its neck that read Save the Gorillas, stood guard by the bar. A spear leaned between the giant beast’s body and right arm, while a shield leaned on its left side.
Wooden tables filled the room, providing a place for customers to sit and drink, eat, or pass the time playing cards. For those who desired more privacy, booths were available. A number of patrons on this particular evening already exhibited various stages of inebriation. Occasionally, the gambling and booze led to a fistfight outside, which provided onlookers another opportunity to bet.
On the far side of the room, a small railing separated the main floor from the shadowy, subdued area reserved for things that happen in those kinds of places. The bar served warm beer, cheap whiskey, and a limited variety of local food not found on any healthy menu. The available meat dishes sizzled on an open grill behind the bar. It was best not to ask what kind of animal it was from. Most patrons were just glad to have something hot to eat.
Several of the men had consumed enough alcohol to obscure their otherwise discriminating judgment of the women available for the evening. Anything one wanted could be found here—anything. The bar’s reputation attracted all sorts of mercenaries, thugs, criminals, and other unsavory types.
The woman in the booth looked to be in her midthirties. She was a plain woman with a full round face and wide nose—not really attractive but most certainly intriguing. She sat quietly and smoked a cheroot. Her wavy hair was long and brown, the kind a man could get lost in. Her soft-yellow cotton shirt, partially unbuttoned, showed just enough to be enticing. A delicate gold chain encircled her neck, and large round gold hoops dangled from her ears. Her makeup erred on the heavy side while her perfume, neither strong nor sweet, left in its wake a scent that was light, fresh, and captivating. She was mzungu—white, out of place, and mysterious. That in itself lent her a certain charm to those around her, especially those in the bar that night.
She was there to meet with a man. Not for pleasure, sex, or for money. She was meeting a special kind of man. A man she didn’t particularly trust or like, but needed. The kind of man who didn’t ask a lot of questions and was very good at what he did. This man called himself David McNair—Mac to those who knew him. Mac was a soldier of fortune and part-time safari guide. Although likely an American, he could produce passports from New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa as well as the United States. He gave his age as forty-two but his weathered skin made him look much older. Most people thought he was ex-Special Forces. No one knew whether he had retired and moved to Africa or left the Special Forces under questionable circumstances. Mac had two ex-wives and no children that he spoke of. An expert in small unit tactics, arms, hand-to-hand combat, explosives, and communications, he was also proficient in other military skills, most of which didn’t need explanation. Mac didn’t have an address. Anyone who wanted to see him needed only to ask around and wait for him to make contact.
The Hutu barmaid, in her shabby, faded floral dress and flopping sandals, approached the woman’s booth. She scrutinized her customer.
“This dangerous place for mzungu woman like you. Sure you in right place?”
“I can handle myself.”
“What you drinkin’?”
“Whisky,” she replied.
The barmaid scoffed. She knew this woman meant trouble. She put her hands into the frayed pockets of her apron and went to the bar to get the whisky. Within minutes she returned with a short, round glass of cheap liquor. She set the glass in front of the woman, stood motionless and glared at her, a signal payment was due. The woman pitched an RF 500 note on the table. The barmaid scooped it up and walked away.
The mzungu woman watched a white man two tables from her set his glass down with a clack on the tabletop, and stand. He adjusted his faded and worn fatigue pants and began a slow approach to her table, his scuffed jungle boots heavy on the floor. A bush hat sat on the back of his head and his black T-shirt hugged his well-defined arms. A large hunting knife hung from the right side of his belt. He telegraphed his intentions clearly as he approached. At least he thought so.
Not interested, you scum, she thought. She took a drag on the cheroot and blew the smoke upward. Just walk on by. You’ve had too much booze and you’re pathetic. She continued her discreet and cautious observation of him as he advanced.
“Hey, sweet thing,” he said as he slid up next to her and placed his arm around her. “You look like you could use another.”
She looked deep into his eyes and replied with a cold, calm voice, “No thanks.”
“The nights are long and hot around here. Drinking is about all there is to keep the shadows away.”
Shadows weren’t the only thing she wanted to keep away. She maintained her stare into his bloodshot eyes. Silently, she pressed the button on the handle of the stiletto she had palmed as he approached. The razor sharp blade locked into position and she thrust her right hand forward, stopping as the blade pricked the left side of his abdomen.
Even though the alcohol had already begun its numbing effects, he knew instantly he was too close and could not win this round. He froze, desire drained from his body. Expressionless, he waited for her next move.
“I said no thanks. You have fifteen seconds to unass that chair or your guts will be all over the floor,” she said, her voice frosty and assured, her brown eyes motionless.
He paused to analyze his options, his eyes open wide. He slowly rose and lifted his arms. The thin, sharp blade remained in contact with his side until he stood. Conceding defeat, he shuffled away without looking back.
She took another drag from the cheroot and slowly exhaled. Scumbag! she thought. After he had taken a couple of steps, she collapsed the blade and returned it to the pocket of her khaki pants. She took another sip of what she suspected was watered-down Old Crow. Against the heel of her boot, she rolled the ashes off the end of the cigar and they fell onto the floor. Across the room she saw a man, wearing a khaki shirt with the sleeves rolled up, stand and grasp a rucksack by one shoulder strap. He strode toward her with a half-consumed bottle of Mützig beer in his right hand. His halfway unbuttoned shirt exposed a tight olive T-shirt beneath. He was attractive and rugged looking, with broad shoulders and a narrow waist. She took another drag from the cheroot and locked her gaze on him. When he reached her booth, he dropped the rucksack on the floor in front of him and sat. Placing both hands around the bottle, he rested his forearms on his thighs.
“Hello, Mac,” she said.
“Hello, Gretchen. You handled that well.”
“If you had come over sooner, I wouldn’t have had to deal with that scumbag.”
“I just wanted to see what you’d do,” he said, before adjusting his jungle hat, exposing more of his short, sun-bleached hair. “That was the best entertainment in here all night, maybe all week.”
Mac knew her only as Gretchen. He didn’t really care much if that was her real name, nor did it matter whether she gave him a surname to go along with it. He was interested only in her money. And, after business of course, maybe a little sex. He hadn’t been with a white woman in a while. “Nice perfume. It’s exotic,” he said softly.
“I thought I was going to have to cut him.” She smiled as she lifted the glass to her lips.
“So did I,” he replied. He paused to take a mouthful of warm beer. “People are pleased with the results. They’re saying good things about you.”
Gretchen made an imperceptible nod of her head as she flicked the ashes to the floor.
Mac’s cryptic comment gave her feedback without revealing any information to eavesdroppers. In June of 1993 Mac arranged for Gretchen to meet with warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. Suspecting the US was about to go beyond just posting a bounty on his head, Aidid purchased arms and, most important, intelligence from her. In October, US Army Rangers and Delta Force landed in Mogadishu on orders from the president of the United States to capture Aidid and his henchmen. The intelligence Gretchen provided, however, helped deal the US forces a humiliating defeat and Aidid remained in control. The president, reluctant to risk further losses, ordered the US forces out of Somalia.
From October 1993 until March 1994, Gretchen had contracted with Dzhokhar Dudayev, president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, for weapons and explosives as well as military trainers to Dudayev’s forces. Mac, who was one of the trainers, led a small team that trained Dudayev’s forces in guerrilla warfare. His success in training the fighters was born out in Russia’s inability to quickly and decisively crush the Chechen fighters. Much praise and accolades were bestowed on his team, and Gretchen received the rewards.
She had become acquainted with Mac the year before in the Bosnia and Herzegovina war, which had been raging since March 1992. During that conflict it was suspected that he offered his services to one side then the other. Gretchen didn’t bother with the details as long as he was straight with her.
“Did you bring my money?”
She pulled the envelope from beneath her shirt and held it in front of him. “Half now, half when you finish.”
He turned to face her and took the envelope with his left hand. Counting it would be an insult, so he placed it in his shirt pocket. If the amount wasn’t right, she wouldn’t get results and she knew it. Then, with the back of the first two fingers of his right hand, he reached up and gently stroked the freckled skin of her partly exposed breast. “Ready to leave?” he asked, his brow raised as if in anticipation.
Without flinching, she took another drag on the cheroot. “Mac, I’m not one of your black whores.” She lightly stroked his shoulder down to his exposed bulging muscle. “You’ll have to earn it.”
He grabbed her shoulder and pulled her close.
She felt his taut muscles. “I’ll rattle your bones like you’ve never been rattled as soon as the job is finished,” she said.
Although his desires were powerful, he knew not to push it with her. He released her and took another sip of beer. It took everything he had to wrestle his desires to a calm. “All right, your way. Give me the details.”
She handed him a piece of folded tissue paper. “Day after tomorrow, be at these grid coordinates. Don’t drive—go on foot, alone. The second set of grid coordinates is where you’ll meet me. I’ll bring you back.” She handed him a second piece of paper. “Contact this man. He’ll meet you across the border in Kabale, Uganda. He’ll provide you with an SA-16 and two spent launchers. Just before you go to the firing position, put the spent tubes at these coordinates. After you fire the SA-16, bring that spent tube back to me.”
“SA-16…,” Mac began. “Soviet pieces of shit! A US Stinger is better.”
“No, it must be the Soviet surface-to-air missile system,” she said.
“That means a low-flying aircraft is the target. They’re supposed to home in on airframe radiation and differentiate between flares and the aircraft. My experience with them is not that good. I suggest a backup one, just in case.”
“Okay, two,” she replied.
“What’s the deal with the two spent launcher tubes?”
“Mac, not that you need to know, but I’ll tell you. I may need you for something else.” She paused and looked him in the eyes. “The two tubes you are going to plant will be found and the Hutu extremists will be blamed for shooting down the plane.”
“Must be someone important on the plane.”
“Important enough, but don’t worry. I have ensured the missile tubes can’t be linked back to you or me.”
“I understand you want a fall guy for this, but this seems kind of an elaborate scheme to assassinate someone.”
“My boss wants something dramatic and thinks this will be good for business. He believes the Tutsis and Hutus will get in a little skirmish and need to replenish their arms. I want you on my side on this, Mac. I’ll make it worth your while.”
“It’ll be dramatic. Okay. Evening of 6 April, one aircraft,” he confirmed.
Gretchen had agreed to pay his asking price without negotiation, and although Mac was curious about the target, he always figured some questions were better left unanswered. He looked at the grid coordinates and then at her. “Shit, that’s about three and a half kilometers away.”
He slid his rucksack closer to him with his foot, then opened the top and inserted his hand. A well-worn map appeared in his weather-beaten hand when he withdrew it. Using the tissue paper as a reference, he located the grid coordinates with his index finger on the map, then folded the map in about a foot square with Gretchen’s desired launch location in the center, and placed it on the table. He double-checked the location with those on the tissue paper. She watched him lean over to study it, and observed his face as it slowly registered disapproval. When he looked up, he whispered, “Damn, Gretchen! That’s not where I’d like to do this. Too many buildings.”
“I know. Just shoot. Don’t wait to see if you hit it. I’ll do the watching. You just beat feet over to my location without being seen and we’ll go from there.” She took another drag on the cheroot and flipped the ashes on the floor again. Holding the cheroot between her thumb and first finger of her left hand, she took the tissue paper with the grid coordinates and touched the paper to the glowing embers of the cigar. When the coordinates on the paper disappeared, she ground the remainder into powder with her boot. “We’ll settle up at my location,” she said softly as she touched his broad chest and lowered her hand to his crotch. “Just remember what is waiting for you.” She was as sultry as a summer night in Venice.
Patrick accepted the challenge from his wife and wrote Treasures if the Fourth Reich. He and his family lived in Italy for five years of his Army career and traveled extensively during his off duty time. Many hours were spent visiting museums, castles, cathedrals, churches and historical sites in Europe. The history of the Nazi lootings became the catalyst for his first novel. He met a fascinating art dealer in Panama just prior to the invasion and who helped form the basis for his character Maria in that story.
After retiring from the Army, Patrick worked in the defense industry for fifteen years. While pursuing his writing, he developed the concept of War Merchant, which is taken from his corporate experience and coupled with his military background. After retiring a second time, War Merchant came to life.
Patrick, now settled in Texas, enjoys writing and is well into his next suspense filled novel.
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