I’m going to post and sometimes lecture on methods to survive the coming events that may require major lifestyle adjustments.
Natural disasters, a civil war, WW3 or Economic collapse — All precipitate economic adjustment. No one will be immune or exempt if the world economy takes a turn for the worse. I’m not an economist — just an old guy who has paid attention and learned to spot warning signs. If you concur, keep reading. Maybe an idea will help you in the future. If you consider survival and prepping as a fools fear, stop reading. Go back to your hi-rise condo and chill…
I’ll not bore you with my history but occasionally I need to tell you an experience or two. I’ve been a half-assed prepper since I worked on Henline look-out in the Oregon Cascades just after high school. I’m not an authority but I damned sure know what I’m talking about.
THE FIRST LESSON — LESS IS MORE.
Program your lifestyle for long term survival. Look to your ultimate destination for survival. If anything gets in your way — get rid of it.
SURVIVE BY STEALTH!
Scale back your aspirations — you can’t save everybody. Realize it’s only you, your family and close friends that are important. Make them part of your team. Program your mind to be realistic — Survivalists are targets of opportunity. Don’t let society know your thoughts or goals.
FREEDOM IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY — not others. If you have debt or a significant other who is not on board with your plans, it’s time to unload. Do not wait — obtain your freedom or nothing you plan will come to fruition.
In reality, your needs are simple. Don’t complicate your life with swag.
Deep inside this blog are articles about numerous off-grid subjects. Poke your nose into my history. Most articles were written when I lived in Panama. Now, I’m in the Philippines. See a common thread? It’s called tropical climate. A growing season = 365 days. More than enough water — no need for winter heat. Tropical fruits and vegetables are abundant. I can go on and on about prepping in the tropics. However, most of what I post are ideas that anyone can do — anywhere.
*************This week's featured novel -- Crystal Cowboy.
Purchase direct for $4.99. Or buy from Amazon for $9.99.
$3.99 if you are a member of this blog.
Contact me direct: email@example.com
Direct Purchase Instructions
Thank you for investigating my new form of selling my novels.Go to my Amazon link -- the one on the far right of this page. Click and scroll through the titles. Choose one to preview. Please read the preview. If it appeals to you, you have a choice to make. If not, try another. NOTE that all titles are 9.99 and that my titles are not part of any Amazon give-away program. My novels are no longer free -- from anywhere. Not Amazon, not Bookbub, not Smashwords, Diesel, or some Russian hacker. So, now you have to decide. 1. click and purchase the book from Amazon -- or2. contact me and buy it for 50% less. 60% less if you are a member of my blog.If you choose the second option, contact me via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me the title. I'll give you a price. You send me the money via PayPal and I'll send you a zip file with the novel in these formats: PDF, MOBI, and Epub. You can then upload whichever format you choose to your reading device. Sound fair? Happy reading.RWHPSFor those of you in the Philippines, I accept cash via Palawan. Contact me for my mobile number.
Friday, August 18, 2017
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Thank you for investigating my new form of selling my novels.
Go to my Amazon link -- the one on the far right of this page. Click and scroll through the titles. Choose one to preview. Please read the preview. If it appeals to you, you have a choice to make. If not, try another. NOTE that all titles are 9.99 and that my titles are not part of any Amazon give-away program. My novels are no longer free -- from anywhere. Not Amazon, not Bookbub, not Smashwords, Diesel, or some Russian hacker.
So, now you have to decide.
1. click and purchase the book from Amazon -- or
2. contact me and buy it for 50% less. 60% less if you are a member of my blog.
If you choose the second option, contact me via e-mail email@example.com and tell me the title. I'll give you a price. You send me the money via PayPal and I'll send you a zip file with the novel in these formats: PDF, MOBI, and Epub. You can then upload whichever format you choose to your reading device.
Sound fair? Happy reading.
For those of you in the Philippines, I accept cash via Palawan. Contact me for my mobile number.
AS AN ASIDE
I’m considering ads on my blog to earn extra income. What’s your opinion?
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
DEEP DISCOUNTS ON ALL TITLES by Robert Hatting from Blair Pacific Publishing.
Commencing today, 8/16/17, most titles will be discounted by at least 50% over the retail prices listed on Amazon.com. To find out more, click here: http://tinyurl.com/y6vqjyk8
Preview of COIN OF THE REALM. Just a small taste.
Jimmy Hart felt the tide change and watched the silhouette of land drift back over the horizon; out of sight. He looked at his wife, Coreen. She was asleep; stretched on the thwart of their life raft. He opted not to disturb her with the good news. They were close. One more day and they would be on solid ground. Sixteen weeks they had been adrift; living by their wits and suffering from the elements; hiding in an often unfriendly ocean, unable to call for help, they persevered, hoping and praying that eventually they would hit land.
Jimmy probed the festering wound on his thigh. It was painful to touch but he had to get the poison out. Almost four months he'd dealt with the annoyance and pain. The wound had improved immensely since the submarine rammed them and the splinter from the wooden bulwarks had pierced his thigh, but it was still a threat to his well being. The memory of that event brought forth a flush of anger. Hart immediately purged his vindictive thoughts and focused on their good fortune and the pain he was about to experience.
Hart watched the horizon as he pressed on the wound, squeezing out the poisonous puss. The pain was almost unbearable but being dead or losing the leg from gangrene poisoning was a strong motivation to hold his pain in contempt. His teary eyes glimpsed again the landfall in the distance. He knew -- down deep it was a land of substance; there were mountains on the horizon, not just a coral atoll. If it was an island, he need to keep the bearings as the current of the Pacific had control of their life-raft. He reached for his sat phone; it was next to his wife, Coreen. He disconnected the solar charging device and turned on the unit. He looked back at the horizon as his satellite phone cycled to standby. Just as he switched to the GPS application, he thought better of the idea. He didn't want to give away their position. Coreen came wide awake. She pointed over his shoulder -- in the direction of the landfall. "That's land. I thought I was dreaming!" she screeched. "God, Jimmy, we're going to live!" Coreen said as she began sobbing joyfully. Hart smiled and held out his hand. Coreen gently came to her husband's lap and embraced him as she watched him minister to his swollen thigh.
"How long, Jimmy?"
"I'm guessing another day. Maybe two," Jimmy answered.
"No, I mean how long do we have to hide from that horrible man and his minions?"
Hart pushed his wife to arms length so he could look her in the eye. "We may have to be on the run the rest of our lives, darlin'. But it will be easier once we get to land."
"...who gave the order, Commander?" Jerry Harding asked gently. "I know you know."
The injured man removed his hand from his bleeding wound and fingered the entry hole. "When are your medics arriving? This wound needs attention!"
Harding reached over and loosened the tourniquet on the man's thigh. He allowed blood to flow for a moment and then re-tightened the Commander's belt.
"It was a through and through and you are in no immediate danger, Leon. Please answer my question while we have privacy," Harding urged.
Commander Shiffler hesitated and then tuned in the distinctive sounds of an approaching helicopter. He grimaced and then spoke "It came from the top... the highest level according to my boss, Admiral Fox."
Harding removed his satphone and speed dialed Jimmy Hart as he pointed to the approaching helicopter.
"They'll take good care of you, Commander. Thank you for your cooperation. My men will notify the Embassy in Clayton," Jerry said as he focused on his phone connection.
Harding moved away from the injured man so he could speak freely. He swiveled his head around the vicinity of Jimmy Hart's ranch, making sure no one could hear his discussion with his best friend. He waited several moments as the multiple encryptions took place, and the connection was made. The orange grove located above him, sparkled in the morning sun. The same early morning sun reflected off the roofs of the buildings and the rotors of the helicopter as it landed behind the house that served as Jimmy's coin mint.
"I just confirmed again what you suspected, Jimmy. Shiffler says it came from the top through his boss Admiral Fox, Chairman of the joint chiefs. That means either the CIA or the President."
Harding glanced back at the landing helicopter. He could see two of his people, one a trained medic plus his replacement for Segundo, Salty Saltine who was off on a vacation. He waved as he listened to Jimmy's reaction from half a world away.
"It amazes me how stupid that man in power can be at times. Sending an embassy attaché to do a covert operation shows how much of an idiot he is," Hart proclaimed. "Amateur hour -- just like Nixon's Watergate. Tell me again why he led his men to my ranch and tried to breach my security."
Harding watched the medic begin attending to the inept burglar. Harding had known the Commander in better times; when Hart ruled and the world wasn't upside down. Now all their actions were subject to extreme scrutiny. They had made everyone's watch list. A lot of the Hart empire had eroded due Jimmy's war of words with the leader of the free world.
"Shiffler was supposed to steal some of the coins being minted, photograph them and send the photos to Langly... without going through channels," Jerry related. "I can't figure out why. All one has to do is convert a couple of hundred US dollars to a Panamanian Golden Balboa and they have what is being minted."
Hart listened intently to his friend and associate, Jerry Harding. Coreen sat beside him on the veranda of their rented cabin. She could hear both sides of the conversation because Jimmy had the sat-phone volume on high. It was almost midnight, a half a world away. Jimmy visualized the events that had taken place at their high mountain ranch in Panama; a contrast to their seaside location in the back country of Negros Oriental, Philippines.
"Keep me informed, Jerry. Thanks for the call."
Coreen rose to leave the veranda. Jimmy reached out and pulled her on to his lap.
"Was anyone hurt other than the commander?" Coreen asked as Hart canceled the connection.
Jimmy nuzzled her neck and delayed the answer. He wanted to purge his thoughts of the incident and his natural reaction to their situation. Coreen returned his embrace and then suddenly stiffened. "You cannot have your way with me until you answer my question, Mister Hart," She demanded in a whisper.
Jimmy squirmed and then held her away; at arms length. "None of our people were even scratched, but Chicho Guerrero, the captain of our security detail was arrested."
"Couldn't Jerry keep that from happening? I assume Chicho was the one who wounded the Commander."
"Actually, the commander took a bullet from one of the booby traps I designed. No one shot him but Chicho was selected because he was in charge," Jimmy explained.
"That wouldn't have happened if we were there," Coreen said gruffly.
Jimmy chuckled as he motioned her off his lap. "No, it would be one of us; maybe both of us who would be placed in custody. Jerry was lucky he had just driven in when it happened. Had he been in the stone house as planned, they would have arrested him instead of Chicho. The political climate has really changed since we were rammed and presumed lost at sea."
Coreen knew her husband was wrestling with their changed lives. No longer did they occupy the political status or friendly governmental posture which prevailed under the previous administration. In fact, just the opposite had occurred. The new Panamanian president was a handpicked candidate of the US President, and had received copious amounts of campaign dollars plus an entire team of election experts bent on dethroning Martinelli and his political party. The staff of experts were supplied and funded by the sitting president of the United States, Barnaby Suerto. The interference had been successful and now the Panamanian president was on a witch hunt; undoing everything and prosecuting everyone who was associated or sympathetic to the previous administration. The Embassy lock-down had been lifted, the USA/Panama treaties were reinstated and Hart's businesses and circle of friends were on the defensive.
Jerry Harding's intelligence company had been replaced by the CIA within weeks of the Panamanian election. Although he had lost a sizable contract, the operatives were still in place and his team was privy to most all of the happenings in Central and South America. His company had the advantage when the double for Hugo Chavez was murdered. Harding and his group had the inside track on the Venezuela upheaval. Since the diplomatic ties had all but been severed, the US State Department was willing to contract on an unofficial basis. Harding deferred his decision until he spoke with Hart. Although it was a sweet cash infusion, and perhaps a foot in the door for the next administration, Jerry knew his good friend could advise without prejudice.
Hart was considering Jerry's dilemma and the attempted breach of their private mint by Leon Shiffler as he and Coreen enjoyed the solitude and peace of their current environment. His wife knew him well. Wrestling with their current status was omnipresent in his mind. Like an aging boxer, Jimmy knew he had to sustain for a few more rounds; to bob and weave until his opponent, the pissed off president of the United States, became either bored or too distracted to devote resources and manpower to revenge a personal insult. The egomaniac needed to return to running the country; the voters demanded it -- congress demanded it -- but it wasn't happening; Barnaby Suerto demanded vengeance.
Jimmy and Coreen were not fugitives from justice. They had committed no crime, but were persecuted by an inept administration with an unlimited budget. It was a vendetta, nothing more. Hart faced the inner knowledge every day. He was a patriot who loved his country; had fought for it many times. He just didn't like the current administration or policies for which they embraced.
As for Panama, he was disappointed in their new government. It also lacked leadership. Those in power were more interested in retribution than in governing. He was frustrated at some of their sophomoric decisions and hoped the light mentality of the crowd in the tower wouldn't damage the country beyond repair.
Coreen left the veranda and pulled his hand, signaling she was ready to resume their loving. Jimmy purged his maudlin thoughts and followed her into the bedroom of their rented bungalow. Making love to his wife was the only time he could turn off his thoughts. She consumed him as they became one. Coreen fell asleep in his arms as night turned to early morning. Jimmy was more than willing to sleep but knew he wasn't ready; mentally he had a letter to compose.
Hart entered his closet office and turned on the light. He'd just showered and was ready for the day. Coreen was still asleep so he chose to sequester himself in his small cubical. His immediate task was to fire an employee who had violated his trust. The dismissal was distasteful but necessary. Being discharged by Jimmy Hart was more than losing a job or position. It was a sentence to a life of fear from retribution. Hart took trust seriously. It was the linchpin for success in any endeavor. When dealing with a matter as serious as changing the world's perception of currency, it was paramount. Hans Gruber was the only man who knew Hart's plan. Even Coreen had not been fully informed of his thoughts. Obviously Hans had leaked it to someone in the US government; probably the CIA.
Jimmy wrote his instructions to Jerry Harding, the man who would terminate Gruber. Although Jerry had no knowledge of what was happening or the reason for dismissal, Jimmy knew the task would be handled immediately. Jerry was loyal and would do what was necessary to remove the man from Jimmy's organization.
Hart punched the button that sent the letter through a myriad of servers -- all encrypted. He was certain there were some people in the military that were aware he and Coreen were alive, but they hadn't sold him out as yet. The perception of their death was keeping them alive. Gruber would receive the ultimate threat if he opted to shoot off his mouth. Hart was hopeful the man would keep his senses and keep their secret.
Jerry Harding and his wife, Kathy, had been about to close their office for the day when he'd received the letter from Hart. He raised his hand to get Kathy's attention. "Want to fly up to the ranch and spend the week-end?" Jerry asked.
Kathy looked up from her laptop, glanced around their vacant office and grinned. "Only if we can stay in the stone house," she replied. "I always feel so golden -- sleeping there."
Harding laughed at her joke and then began composing a short response to Jimmy's request. Kathy's remark was a reminder of the enormous amount of gold hidden in the stone house. Harding and Lowell Downs, while attempting to perform an inventory for Jimmy, had discovered even more gold in two subterranean levels under the dwelling.
Hart read the letter a second time before he spoke with his wife. "Hans Gruber has gone missing and Harding suspects he has gone over to the government. I fear we are in jeopardy," Jimmy announced.
Coreen digested her husband's latest warning. He seldom pushed the alarm button with her unless he was seriously afraid for their well being. "Why are we in more danger than before?" she asked.
"Gruber will confirm that we are alive and living here in the Philippines. Plus, he has knowledge of my plan to adjust the world currencies," Jimmy suggested. "You need to know where I was headed with my plan. It will become clear why we are going to be hunted even harder."
"Oh, Jimmy, what have you done?"
Hart shifted in his chair and looked his wife in the eye. "I really haven't done anything wrong. I was researching a theory and enlisted the aid of a trusted and talented employee. Hans ran a few tests, we made a few dummy coins and then after I rethought the ramification of my idea, I instructed Hans to render them back down to the base metals," Jimmy explained.
"The prick kept one of the coins, didn't he?" Coreen stated as a question.
Hart had not heard language or the tone from his wife before. It set him back a bit, so he chuckled.
"I suspect the prick kept them all," Jimmy said in jest of her language.
Hart pulled coins out of his pocket and dropped a small triangular bitycoin into his wife's hand. Coreen turned it over a few times and then inspected the golden side. The inscription said only one word -- realm -- in small lower case cursive.
"Why is the coin layered? It's so small!" Coreen exclaimed.
"The front of the coin is 80 percent gold. Nickel comprises the rest of the coin. It's designed to be melted if a person chooses," Jimmy explained.
"And the size is to keep the value lower?" Coreen guessed.
"Very perceptive, my dear. It also lowers the cost of production."
Coreen looked up from the coin and looked Jimmy in the eye. "Why didn't you tell me of your experiment?" she asked without malice.
Hart paused before he answered. "I wanted it far enough along that the answers would already be evident before I spoke of my thinking, then I canceled the entire idea. I'm sorry now I didn't put you in the loop," Jimmy replied. "Please accept my apologies."
Coreen was surprised at the formalness of his apology; his tone was out of character. She knew her husband and suspected there was more to his ideas and experiments than he was willing to divulge; a deeper motive for his actions. She wondered why he was not being one hundred percent.
"What's happening, Jimmy? Why haven't you told me everything," Coreen pleaded.
Hart paused and looked at his spouse. He was reluctant to delve into what brought them into danger. A flaw in his character had once again immersed them into a pit of vipers. She deserved to know.
"After we were rammed by the submarine and were adrift for weeks without being able to call for help, I became angry at my countrymen. I wanted to spank them for electing that horrible man; not once but twice. I devised a plan for revenge. Once we hit landfall, I contacted Hans Gruber and set my revenge plan into action. Destroying the currency of the USA was my plan -- it would be immediate and it would happen on this President's watch. His only legacy would be his failure. A failure brought forth by a war of words like children on a playground."
Coreen remained silent while her husband confessed his motives behind their current plight.
"Once I took my rage out of the equation, I evaluated my strategy and could see that what I had planned would weaken the world economy and transfer a lot of power to nations that were not democratic. I aborted the idea and instructed Gruber to destroy the molds and the coins -- all but the one I just showed you," Jimmy explained.
Marion Antique was concerned. His master had volunteered him for a mysterious mission. He was given only a rifle, ammunition and the address of the targets; a couple of foreigners living near his home province. The motive or reasons for his future actions were withheld for 'security reasons'. The master was all powerful; a man without patience or manners. However, according to Marion's secret bedmate, Julia, the master was very condescending and polite to the tall black foreigner who had visited them and paid the master for the assignment. She had served the American a local beer and small glass of their native rum; both forbidden by the master for anyone else in his congregation.
Marion sat on the ferry bench and recalled his last instructions from the master.
"Shoot true and don't get caught. Your life will be over if you fail."
Marion squirmed on the hard wooden bench and looked down at his old suitcase on the deck. Ensconced within his clothing and shoes, was a British Enfield .303 caliber rifle broken down into three parts. The WWII jungle carbine had been issued to him prior to his assignment. He had been given a charger clip with five rounds of ammunition with which to practice. The master's estate encompassed many hectares of jungle and farmland; ample room to test his weapon. He'd only fired three rounds to determine the accuracy of the British weapon. He was issued another ten rounds; two full charger clips with which to perform his assignment. Marion carried two extra rounds from his practice allotment in the pocket of his baggy shorts. In his other pocket was a wad of pesos to cover his expenses and a photo -- a wedding photo of his targets.
Hans Gruber was bound and blindfolded as he was led into the jungle by the man he'd trusted; the one who had offered to protect him and deliver the four million dollars for betraying Jimmy Hart. Hunter Quistguard was a contractor for the CIA. He'd extracted the information he'd been commissioned to obtain and then was left to his own designs to dispose of the turncoat.
Harriman Henderson, the director of the CIA, personally watched the film of the Gruber debriefing. What he learned was immediately forwarded to the President and his staff. The plan Hart was creating would destroy the world economy for decades. The President issued the orders; Hart had to be stopped and Gruber needed to be silenced; permanently silenced. Henderson gave the order to dispose of the German.
Quistguard had a profitable idea after he'd received his orders. Panama was a violent country. Especially the province of Darien. The impassable jungle that shared a border with Colombia was the home of the FARC; the notorious Colombian rebels that dealt in all manners of contraband to finance their lost cause. Drug smuggling was their primary income but human trafficking ranked high on their illicit actions list. Quistguard made contact with a FARC operative through his network and he was now making the delivery. Hunter assumed someone in Germany would pay dearly to ransom the kidnapped Gruber; a metallurgist and currency expert. Quistguard expected to share in the bounty by trading Hans for a couple of kilos of cocaine. If no one paid the ransom, Gruber would be executed. The task which Hunter had already been paid to perform.
Harriman Henderson had received a face to face verbal order from the President to eliminate Jimmy Hart and his wife Coreen. There were no doubts that James Hart had become an enemy of the state; not for his impudent statements but for his subversive plan to destroy the US economy. The director immediately called his executive officer, Bernie Sanderson, and transferred the responsibility to him. "I'm sending you an encrypted video. All the data you need is on the tape. Do the deed on the Harts," Henderson ordered. "Keep us four levels out -- no spash-back, Bernie. Everyone thinks this guy is a hero."
Salty Saltine, the new XO of Harding's intelligence company, had just landed at their home base at Albrook, Panama. He, his wife, Inez and their dog Shag had been on vacation. The first since they'd been married two years prior. Saltine taxied the Gulfstream to their designated hanger and was soon greeted by Kathy Harding and several staff members. Once ushered into the hangar complex that housed all their offices, Inez immediately went to her desk and booted up her three computers. "I'm like a wino that hasn't had a drink in weeks. I'm really addicted to my computers," she announced to Kathy and the staff. "Salty had to live with a woman with withdrawal symptoms," she giggled.
"There are no computers in New Zealand or Australia?" Kathy asked kiddingly.
Inez giggled. "It was an agreement before we left. Salty had to refrain from calling Jerry or discussing business and I promised not to open or use a computer. We had a marvelous time!"
Kathy chuckled and then walked away as Inez began looking at the screens of her systems. Her attention was fragmented until she saw an encrypted video that had been flagged and automatically downloaded from one of her embedded spy systems -- a high echelon plant.
Inez concentrated on unscrambling the encryption. It took her three attempts before she saw the face of the man being questioned. She had no recognition and was about place into the archives until she heard the audio come on... the name Jimmy Hart was mentioned several times. Inez replayed the segment several times as she was cleaning up the recording. She reviewed the source of the recording and immediately picked up the office intercom. "Jerry, you need to come see this. Someone just ratted out the Harts for a huge sum of money. The recording came from high up in the CIA -- the directors assistant."
Harding, his wife, and Salty stood behind Inez as the video played for the second time. Jerry pointed at the older man sitting comfortably in a wicker chair. "That's Hans Gruber, the missing metallurgist from Jimmy's ranch compound. I suspect he's talking to the CIA.
"How old is this video?" Kathy asked.
Inez brought up the e-mail with the attachment. "The video was emailed to a Clifford Manchester two days ago. I have no idea when it was recorded," Inez answered as she displayed a file on Clifford Manchester.
"Dupe all that stuff to me, Inez. I'm going back to my office. I need to warn Jimmy and Coreen. I know Manchester. He rang the bell at the SEAL training when I attended and mustered out of the military soon after. He's been a mercenary and middleman for the last twenty years," Harding advised as he jogged across the office.
Inez sent the files to Harding's computer and then turned to Kathy. "What does ring the bell signify? She asked.
"He flunked!" Salty and Kathy replied in unison.
Inez turned to see the duet. Salty was walking away; Shag on his heels.
"Where are you going?" Inez asked.
Salty kept walking toward the door. "Shag and I are going to ready our plane. I'm sure we are going to leave soon to fetch the Harts," Salty said over his shoulder.
Marion climbed the seawall and cautiously peered over the moss covered concrete to observe his targets. They usually took their evening meal on the veranda of the beach front cabin. Three days of observing had formed a plan in his mind; kill them while they ate. He was unarmed during his previous observations but this evening he brought his weapon. The lights were on in the cabin and on the veranda but neither target were evident. Antique brought the Enfield to the top of the wall and looked in all directions but he didn't look down. Jimmy grabbed Marion by the throat and heaved him onto the lawn. Coreen put her pistol to his head and cocked the hammer. "Twitch and you are dead!" she shouted at the little man lying on his stomach.
Jimmy pulled the clip out of the intruder's Enfield and ejected the .303 round from the chamber. "This weapon is older than I am. Must be an itty bitty bounty on us to send a discount shooter like this dope," Hart suggested.
Marion shifted his position to see his targets. His slight action was met with extreme pain as Coreen slashed him across the face with her Sig Sauer pistol.
"Easy girl. I need him alive to tell us who sent him," Jimmy advised.
"He's alive. He just won't be as pretty," Coreen stated as she rolled the shooter on to his back. "C'mone let's get this over with so I can hurt him some more," she said slowly. "I absolutely hate people who try to kill us!"
Hart knew most of his wife's bluster was posturing to help with their intel extraction from their captive. However, her strong statement was not directed toward the inept shooter, but the people in high office who had sent him.
Jimmy placed Marion in a strangle hold and then brought the assassin to his feet. He marched him toward the cabin as Coreen collected the weapon and followed. "Sweetie, fetch that roll of duct tape in my tool kit," Jimmy requested as he positioned the shooter over a deck chair. "Tell me your name and you can sit. Play games and you will be down in the gravel," Hart instructed as he pointed toward the gravel driveway.
Coreen leaned the shooter's rifle on the door-jam and entered the house. Marion nodded. "My name is Marion. I am from Cebu City," he lied.
Jimmy turned the small man loose and motioned to the chair. Marion took a step, reached into his pocket, and dove toward the rifle. The breech of the weapon was open. He jammed the live round into the chamber and closed the bolt. Instantly, Jimmy was on the shooter and began wrestling him to the ground. The Enfield fired just as Coreen stepped through the door. She fell back as the bullet smacked her left bicep. Jimmy chopped and pressure pointed the assailant to put him out. He jumped over the Filipino man and grabbed Coreen. She was holding her arm and inspecting the wound. "I'm okay," she stated. "It's just a graze."
"Let's get you attended to," Jimmy said as he helped her to her feet.
Coreen looked at the unconscious shooter. "Is he dead?" she asked.
"Nope, not yet. You can do the honors later," Jimmy stated as he put pressure on her wound to slow the bleeding.
Coreen pointed to the duct tape on the patio. "Get that guy under control before we do anything else," Coreen instructed. "I'll be okay."
Hart was not gentle as he trussed the unconscious man. He deliberately wrapped each binding tight enough to stop blood from circulating. Just as he turned to attend to Coreen, the small man let out a blood curdling scream. Coreen strode to the prone man and looked at the shooter trying to squirm out of his bindings.
"I guess he doesn't like the binding around his eyes," Coreen surmised.
Jimmy chuckled. "The duct tape is wound tightly over his eyelids -- sticky side in. Each time he blinks he experiences pain. It's a long way from his heart. Let him suffer while we clean and dress your wound."
The shooter screamed again and was rewarded by a kick to the side of the head by Hart.
"That can wait. I want this man to talk to us," Coreen said as she kicked the prone man in the ribs and then leaned toward his head. "Who sent you? Who paid you to kill us?"
Hart began emptying the pockets of their captive. He extracted the pesos, another live .303 round, and the photo of them taken at their wedding.
Jimmy showed all the items to Coreen and then walked into the cabin to fetch their medical kit.
Coreen was staring at the photo of them at their wedding as Jimmy approached with their first aid kit. She held it up to her husband. "How did they get this?" Coreen asked.
Jimmy was about to answer when he heard a vehicle approach their gate. He signaled Coreen to stay behind the house. He reached down and placed a wide strip of duct tape over Marion's mouth.
Jimmy approached the front gate of the fence that surrounded their cottage. A man on an idling motorcycle was just outside the fence watching Jimmy approach. The motorcycle headlight was directed toward the bungalow, offering a sign of courtesy by not shining the light into Hart's face.
"Your neighbor reported hearing a gunshot and then some screaming," the man said as Jimmy approached the gate.
"And who are you?" Jimmy asked.
"I'm Hector Jencoy, the head of neighborhood watch," the polite Filipino replied. "Has there been a disturbance?"
Hart was tempted to build a plausible lie to get rid of the man. Then he thought better. Truth had always been his best weapon. "We have a slight problem. Perhaps you can be of assistance," Jimmy stated as he opened the lock on the gate. Bring your machine into the complex," he instructed as he opened the gate.
"Do I need to call the police?" Hector asked.
"Come see what happened and then you can decide. Personally, I think we have it handled," Hart replied.
Coreen met them halfway as they walked toward the rear of the cabin. "This is Hector Jencoy, the jefe of the local neighborhood watch," Jimmy explained. "Hector, I need you to be patient while I attend to my wife's wound," Hart requested.
The trio rounded the corner of the cabin and into the light from the porch. Jimmy watched his guest as he glanced at Marion, squirming on the lawn and then surveyed the scene.
Jimmy ministered to his wife. They remained silent as he cleaned the wound. Coreen winced several times but also watched their guest.
"Did this man attack you?" Hector asked.
Jimmy winked at Coreen. "Actually, we attacked him as he attempted to bushwhack us," Hart replied. "He has been watching us for several days. Tonight he attempted his mission but we were ready for him."
Jincoy walked to Marion and leaned over the trussed man in order to observe him more closely. "I don't recognize him," Hector stated. "He looks in pain. Is he wounded?"
"He's in pain because I taped his eyelids open," Hart explained. "We were about to interrogate him. We want to know who sent him to assassinate us."
Jincoy walked to toward the table so he could see Coreen's wound. Jimmy was cleansing it with a solution made from hydrogen peroxide and ozonated water. He liberally saturated gauze bandages with the solution and then began wrapping her bicep. "The bullet from that old rifle was a graze," Coreen explained as she pointed to the Enfield lying on the terrace. "It was a full metal jacket -- military issue. I'm lucky it didn't hit a bone," Coreen explained.
"What do you want me to do? Call the police?"
Jimmy was anxious to interrogate Marion but the presence of Hector deterred his plans. "If you can trust us to deal with this matter, I would appreciate not contacting the police. I'm not anxious to deal with their paperwork. I'm sure the headlines that will come from an arrest of a contract killer will embarrass your country," Jimmy advised.
"How do you know this man is a contract assassin?" Hector asked.
Coreen handed the neighborhood watchman the contents of Marion's pockets. "Look at the photo, mister Jincoy. That was on our wedding day five years ago," Coreen explained. "That was in his pocket."
Hector looked at the photo and then at the old rifle. He turned and faced Jimmy and Coreen.
"Maybe I can help you interrogate this man," Jincoy offered. "I speak his language. Then I will take him to the police and charge him with attempted robbery."
Jerry Harding listened to Jimmy's recount of the incident with the inept assassin. He could visualize the look on the guy's face while being tossed through the air and then being hammered by a slight young woman. He stifled a chuckle as Hart went on to describe the weapon.
"Is she okay?" Jerry asked as Jimmy mentioned his scuffle and Coreen's wound.
"We're five by five, Jerry."
"Okay, Jimmy. I'm glad you have it under control. This won't be the last, I'm afraid. Gruber sold you out to the CIA. We have a video that was sent from the company's number two. I'm sure by now there is a full court press to eliminate you," Jerry surmised. "We have a tape of the debriefing. Hans painted you as truly un-American, so expect the worst."
Hart digested the information just handed him. If the number two man with the CIA was involved, the decisions were coming from the top; the president. Barnaby Suetero finally had just cause to make him an enemy of the state. They were doomed unless he could somehow get a fair hearing as to what really happened. Jimmy looked across the lawn to his love, Coreen. She was in just as much jeopardy as him unless he could get her insulated from the onslaught he knew was coming.
"Any idea where we can find Gruber? Perhaps we can convince that prick to set this straight in an international forum," Hart speculated.
"I've got my entire network working on finding that pond scum. If he's alive, we will eventually locate the turncoat. By the way, I sent you the video so you can see what Gruber told them," Jerry added.
"I'm sure he didn't tell whomever that I'd scotched the idea and had ordered him to melt down the coins and destroy the molds."
Hart heard Jerry chuckle as his response.
Jimmy watched his wife walking toward him. She was still in her anger state of mind. He didn't blame her -- she'd been shot.
"I need to relocate," Jimmy stated. "Any ideas where Coreen will be safe?" Hart asked his friend.
"We have a plan in motion to get you both safe. Salty and Inez are en route to fetch you," Harding reported. "In twenty-four hours you will have dropped off the face of the earth."
Coreen came to Jimmy and circled his waist with her right arm, being very careful not to damage her wounded left wing.
"I'm glad they are coming. I have some unfinished business on the island of Mindanao -- on the outskirts of Butuan, specifically," Hart advised. "Our shooter gave up his boss -- some kind of cult leader from Pakistan; he's a gringo. Have Salty pick us up in Butuan."
"What are you doing, Jimmy? This is no time for revenge," Harding advised. "Let me handle those people. Our old friend, Clifford Manchester was the contractor. We have to assume he's tied to the company."
Hart considered the advice. Coreen, standing beside him decided to chime in. "Jerry, we're here. We have a helper who is capable and willing. Now is the time," she stated in a stern manner.
"I'm not seeing the entire picture. Tell me about your opportunity," Harding asked.
Hart laughed into the satphone. "You know us too well, Jerry. The cult guy doesn't know the shooter failed. Our helper, the neighborhood watch guy, is the editor of a nationwide news blog. He's gonna report our demise. Kinda like the sleight of hand we did in Panama City."
"Okay... so you're dead. Then what?"
"We storm his compound and then I'm going to shoot that SOB with the relic of a rifle he issued to take us out," Coreen stated.
Jerry laughed. "I see, well thought out strategy. Let me know when you want Salty in Butuan."
We're leaving in an hour. We'll be taking ferries, so we need a couple of days to get in position," Jimmy speculated. "If they get there early, tell them to check in and enjoy the Inland Resort."
"The Saltines are arriving the Philippines long before you get to Mindanao. Take them with you. They are both good warriors and are itching to help," Jerry advised.
Hans Gruber had never considered suicide until he'd been kidnapped and handed to a pack of dogs representing themselves as FARC guerrillas. His current plight was one-hundred-and-eighty degrees from his intellectually conceived plan; a betrayal that would have made him a world hero and lined his Swiss bank account with four million Euros. Sitting in the rain on a jungle hilltop, tied hand and foot to a tree was not part of his plan. The FARC forces watched him every minute. He had no privacy and was abused often by several of the more violent members of the gang. He was filthy, tired, hungry, and thirsty. He was also cut, bruised and bitten and harassed by insects. His shoes had been stolen and his feet were bloody from blisters, thorns and sharp rocks. His entire body was wracked with a fever and he was constipated. For six days he had been pushed and shoved through the steamy jungle by inconsiderate animals disguised as human beings. Now, in this hillside camp, he was allowed to eat with his own hands rather than burnt rice being shoved down his throat by the leader of the animal pack. He took small joy in the event -- the opportunity to masticate before swallowing.
Hans' comfort level was so low and pain was so high, he focused on his death; to try and die by his own will. It wasn't working. His inner self fought to survive while his mind tried to mentally shut down. The conflict created deep insanity.
Jimmy guided their Jeep onto the ferry in Dumaguete. The scheduled voyage to Dapitan City on the island of Mindanao was usually four hours. Similar to Panamanians, the Filipinos set schedules based on their personal needs rather than on their customers. Once into Dapitan they had another six hour drive to reach their destination.
Hart glanced at the rear seat of the Jeep as they exited to climb the stairs to the passenger section of the craft. Hidden beneath the seat were his toolbox and also the vintage Enfield. A small point of contention until Jimmy relented and devised a way to bring the weapon along. Coreen had insisted she was going to make her threat good -- To personally shoot Henry Clayton for accepting and then ordering a contract to kill as well as issuing the vintage rifle to the inept assassin, Marion Antique.
"I knew this guy who was an old friend of a cult leader. He criticized the cult man's beliefs and was killed on the spot by one of the 'believers'," Jimmy related. "This Clayton guy and all of his followers are probably nuts! We have to be careful."
"I know. I was there when you debriefed Marion. He refers to Clayton as master -- like he's a slave," Coreen said as she stood outside the passenger door of the jeep and pointed to the backseat. "Will our stuff be safe?"
Hart nodded yes and pointed to the stairs. "Let's go get comfortable."
Quistguard fingered the money hidden under his shirt; his recent drug sale had been more profitable than he'd anticipated. He was pleased with himself and smiled inwardly as he entered a taxi in downtown Panama City. He intended to deposit the cash into his secret Panamanian account; one which he'd opened right after his first contract with the CIA back in the Noriega era. It was his life-after-espionage fund. Part of his escape plan.
Hunter exited the taxi near the Albrook mall. The Marine officer he was scheduled to meet was waiting. After the rendezvous, he would visit his bank and make the deposit.
Quistguard had received three text messages from the lieutenant; all indicating impatience that seemed out of character for his embassy contact.
Lieutenant Larkin, dressed in civvies, was waiting outside the mall entrance when the taxi pulled between the bus terminal and the rear entrance to the mall. Hunter mingled with the crowd near another unloading taxi and then meandered across the street to the mall entrance.
"You're really in the soup!" the lieutenant spat as Hunter reached the entrance. "Everyone is after your ass; including me!"
Shocked by the brazen outburst by his covert contact, Quistguard beckoned the officer closer. "Why are you not being discreet? Meet me at the restaurant as planned."
"Screw you, Hunter. You buggered a lot of people by not following instructions with Gruber! They want you at the basement -- stat!"
Quistguard looked at Larkin's face. It telegraphed a great deal of concern and anger. The basement was where black operations were initiated. Hunter knew he wanted no part of what the CIA had in store for him. "I followed instructions with Gruber," Quistguard lied.
"No you didn't. He's being held by the FARC and is being ransomed to the highest bidder. Your ass is grass. You were paid and instructed to dispose of him, not sell him!"
Quistguard knew he was trapped. The CIA had probably tapped the phones of the German consulate and found out on the first call the FARC had made to establish their demands. His mind went into overdrive as he considered his options. Being escorted to the basement by Larkin was not going to happen.
"Okay, I'm caught, I didn't murder him. I disposed of him. No one will pay a ransom to those FARC clowns. They'll kill him when they finally figure that out," Hunter replied. "I'm not going to the basement, Larkin. You can shoot me in the back if you want. I'm outta here!"
Quistguard turned toward the street and began walking. Within moments he was in a crowd at the bus terminal. He looked back and watched the marine turn into the mall. Hunter knew he was now going to be hunted. He chose an option the company was sure to despise.
Inez brought her husband a sandwich as they completed the final leg of their flight to the Philippines. Guam to Manila was two-thirds complete. The Manila-Butuan flight was just a regional flight. Salty estimated a shade over an hour.
"I'd like to give you an overview of our target, sweetie. He's a real bad guy that no one has been able to bring to justice," Inez reported. "He's only been in Mindanao four years since being deported from Pakistan and has an estimated following of three-thousand wayward souls. He's a slippery scumbag that preys on the weak and uneducated. He's funded by smuggling contraband and covert operations like the attempted hit on the Harts."
"He's an Aussie, right?" Salty asked between bites of his sandwich.
"That's what the CIA file reports. Harding's file shows that the guy was born in the Bahamas. His mother migrated to New Zealand before he entered grade school. A few years later, from New Zealand to Sydney," Inez explained.
"Let me guess. Each move was with a new husband, right?" Salty chuckled.
Inez laughed at her husband's insight. "Our target has six wives; all in the same compound. After my conversation with Coreen, I suspect they all call him master."
Salty glanced at the chronometer on his instrument panel. "I expect to be in Butuan a day before them. Do you want to recon the compound or wait for the Harts?"
Inez responded immediately. "This is Jimmy and Coreen's mission. We're here to provide back-up. I vote we enjoy the resort."
Marion Antique was depressed beyond tears. He was crestfallen. Not because he was incarcerated in a small cell, but because he hadn't been able to endure the pain; the pain and his fear that had led him to betray his master. He replayed the questions and his answers time and time again. He was ashamed of his weaknesses. Then he replayed the promise and the threat made by the woman. She was a killer and was set on defiling their sanctuary and killing their master.
The small six by nine foot cell had no windows and an oxidized barred door, secured by a pitted rusty chain and cheap padlock. A single guard squatted against the wall just outside his jail cell, smoking a cigarette. Marion needed a toilet but the steel bucket in his cell was full to the brim. He hollered at the jailer and received a lewd gesture in response. Marion tossed the bucket at the barred door; its contents spraying the jailer and himself. The horrific odor stifled any chance to breathe. The jailer jerked the keys from his pocket, took up a short bamboo club and opened the door to administer a blow to the putrid convict. Marion retrieved the empty bucket and struck the jailer as he entered the cell.
Someone had removed the bale from the bucket but hadn't dogged over the ears. Marion used the two sharp protrusions to gash the jailer in the face. Marion repeated the process until the jailer went to his knees. The club brought into the cell was used to bash in the skull of the custodian. Antique rifled through the dead guards pockets and relieved him of his few pesos and a pocket knife. He used the keys to open the back door to the small city holding facility. Marion knew he would be caught if he tried to reach Mindanao by public transportation but he had to try and reach his master and warn him of the Harts and their mission.
Henry Clayton was being his usual decadent self. His third wife was attending to his carnal needs while one of his servants was feeding him a sandwich. The phone rang during his excursion into gluttony and he motioned for another female servant to answer. His secretary was the only woman in the room fully clothed.
Clayton pushed his sandwich away and took the call. Few people knew his number so he presumed it was important. He glanced at the caller id. No name, just a number, but it was coming from Hong Kong.
"Congrats, Henry. Your man fulfilled the contract. I just saw the news," Manchester reported.
Clayton motioned to his wife to continue her fellatio. "I haven't heard from my disciple. He will report to me in two days. Then I will know the contract has been honored," Clayton surmised as he hung up the phone.
Cliff Manchester closed his phone, placed it in the briefcase, and looked again at his laptop screen. A coded message had just popped on to his company server. He was being summoned back to his station on Guam; evidently his report of the Hart elimination had earned him accolades and perhaps a new posting.