The Deserter - Nelson DeMille Page 0,1
front, looked like a eucalyptus. Your wife has short brown hair, a little plain looking but she keeps herself in shape, tight ass. Your son is how old? Five? Six? Nice looking boy.”
The man glared at him through his one swollen eye.
“Give me what I want, and nothing will happen to them. Withhold from me, and something will. You have my word on that. This is your last opportunity. Tell me where he is.”
The man stared up at him, as though thinking. But not for long. He was going to protect his family. Any decent guy would. The man’s lips parted; he was trying to speak. His voice was low and raspy.
Mercer crouched lower so he could hear. “Tell me.”
The man told him. He spoke in little more than a whisper, but Mercer heard it. And once he heard it, he understood immediately. Of course that’s where the son of a bitch was. Just another turn of the wheel.
He pulled a combat knife from his belt and drew it across the man’s throat. Blood spurted from his jugular.
Mercer stood, wiped the blood from the blade on the dying man’s pants. He looked at the man’s shoes. Leather loafers. He hadn’t noticed them before. They were nice, better than the sandals he’d taken off the last guy he killed. He took them off the man’s feet and put them on.
The blood coming out of the man’s jugular slowed to a trickle, his chest stopped moving. He was dead.
Through the tarp, Mercer could hear the muezzin intone the call to prayer from a nearby mosque. The incantation was low and solemn, almost mournful. All across the city, people would now pause their lives to answer the call, to bow their bodies in a communal act of submission.
Kyle Mercer had once had something like that: common rituals, brotherhood. It had been the Army, and in a broader sense his country. Now all he had was a target. And a destination.
“Tell me something, Mr. Brodie. Wasn’t there some way you could have avoided shooting the mule?”
Chief Warrant Officer Scott Brodie could not believe he had been summoned to the general’s office to talk about the f-ing mule. There was nothing left to say about the mule. In fact, everything that could possibly be said about the mule had already been said.
Major General Stephen Hackett was the Provost Marshal General of the United States Army—the Army’s top cop—and Brodie was a Special Agent in the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, the CID, which was the detective arm of the CIC, the Criminal Investigation Command. The CID was tasked with solving all the Army’s law enforcement problems, and on its seal was the motto “Do What Has to Be Done.” Brodie took that motto to heart. His critics might say he misinterpreted it to mean… well… do what has to be done.
The office of the Provost Marshal General was located in Quantico, Virginia, about forty miles south of Washington, DC. The Marine Corps had one of its largest bases at Quantico, and also headquartered there was the Naval Criminal Investigative Service—NCIS—of TV fame, and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Quantico was also home to the Drug Enforcement Administration Training Academy, the FBI Academy, and the FBI Laboratory. The government might have had synergy and cost savings in mind by co-locating all these law enforcement facilities, but knowing the government, it was probably accidental.
Also sitting in General Hackett’s office were Colonel Stanley Dombroski and Warrant Officer Maggie Taylor. Dombroski was the man who normally gave Brodie his assignments. Maggie Taylor was Brodie’s recently assigned partner.
Hackett looked like a general from central casting: He was six feet tall and had a full head of short gray hair, and his posture suggested he had a ramrod up his ass. Colonel Dombroski, by comparison, looked like a guy you’d see selling beer at Fenway. He was five foot eight, at least forty pounds overweight, mostly bald, and had a permanent six-o’clock shadow. He also looked as if he might not be the sharpest bayonet in the armory—but there was nothing dull about Stanley Dombroski. Brodie suspected that Dombroski would never rise above the rank of colonel. The Army, often to its own detriment, wants generals who look like generals.
The Army had no problem, however, with Maggie Taylor’s appearance, and if Brodie and Taylor weren’t frequently required to go undercover, the Army would have plastered Maggie Taylor’s photo on recruiting posters. She was five foot nine