Bloody Sunday: New Excerpt
By Ben Coes
Bloody Sunday by Ben Coes is the eighth book in the Dewey Andreas thriller series.
North Korea, increasingly isolated from most of the rest of the world, is led by an absolute dictator and a madman with a major goal―he’s determined to launch a nuclear attack on the United States. While they have built, and continue to successfully test nuclear bombs, North Korea has yet to develop a ballistic missile with the range necessary to attack America. But their missiles are improving, reaching a point where the U.S. absolutely must respond.
What the U.S. doesn’t know is that North Korea has made a deal with Iran. In exchange for effective missiles from Iran, they will trade nuclear triggers and fissionable material. An exchange, if it goes through, that will create two new nuclear powers, both with dangerous plans.
Dewey Andreas, still reeling from recent revelations about his own past, is ready to retire from the CIA. But he’s the only available agent with the skills to carry out the CIA’s plan to stop North Korea. The plan is to inject a singular designer poison into the head of the North Korean military and in exchange for the nuclear plans, provide him with the one existing dose of the antidote. But it goes awry when Dewey manages to inject a small amount of the poison into himself. Now, to survive, Dewey must get into North Korea and access the antidote and, while there, thwart the nuclear ambitions of both North Korea and Iran. And he has less than 24 hours to do so.
LA VILLA BLEUE
SIDI BOU SAÏD
On a small terrace outside of a hotel room on the coast of North Africa, a man stood. It was nighttime and he’d been standing in the same place for two hours. In his hand was a pair of large stainless steel, high-powered binoculars. He kept them aimed at the ocean and a large yacht moored offshore, its lights still blazing yellow despite the late hour. He could see people inside the main cabin of the $190 million yacht.
The man slid a small switch on the side of the binoculars and all colors disappeared. He’d activated the binoculars’ thermal imaging system and was now able to look at the yacht’s heat patterns. The yacht, and everything around it, went black. Near the front, a cloud of white showed the large boat’s motor as it idled. Inside the cabin, fuzzy white silhouettes appeared as if in a photo negative, as the occupants of the yacht were revealed, their bodies emitting enough heat to enable the binoculars to relay the fuzzy white carapaces. He counted eleven people on board. Several people were asleep. Some were still moving. He studied the decks of the two-hundred-foot yacht. He counted two men on the stern of the boat, a man at the bow, and one other man who was walking along the near side—the port side of the yacht.
This was the security cordon, there to guard the occupants of the yacht. It was a serious crew, all ex-military and armed to the teeth.
The man’s hair was down to his shoulders and messed up, even a little oily, as if he hadn’t bathed in a few days. In fact, it’d been more than a week since soap or shampoo touched him, though he’d swum in the ocean many times. A mess of mustache and beard covered his face, which was tanned a deep brown. He wore jeans and nothing else. His shoulders and chest were brown. He had thick shoulders and arms, ripped with muscles. On his left shoulder was a jagged, wide, thick scar. On his right bicep was a small tattoo, cut in black ink, no bigger than a dime: a lightning bolt.
Beneath the man’s left armpit was a worn, custom-made leather holster. Inside was a gun: Colt 1911. A long, black suppressor was threaded into the muzzle of the gun.
It was one thirty in the morning local time.
He stared for a few more moments, then put the binoculars down on a table. He picked up a glass from the table. It was half filled with bourbon.
The temperature was in the eighties, yet a stiff wind chopped from the ocean across the small town on Tunisia’s coast and it was pleasant.
He’d been in Africa for a week now, in Tunisia for three days, in Sidi Bou Saïd for eighteen hours.
He took a large sip of bourbon and stared out at the black ocean. Despite the late hour, the sky to the east held an ambient bluish black, and it made the horizon visible in eerie purple.
Below the hotel, the small tourist town of Sidi Bou Saïd spread in a meandering crosshatch of white stucco, cobblestone streets, and blue trim, inclining steeply toward the ocean’s shore. He could hear music from an outdoor café somewhere nearby, a light drumbeat mixed with sitar and a soft female voice singing in Arabic. It was a sleepy beach town, peaceful, off the beaten track, out of the way. Everything about the little town was idyllic.
Except on this particular terrace. For here, quiet was juxtaposed to the anger in the man’s eyes—two eyes of steel blue that looked cold, alert, and vicious. They were eyes that hinted at violence.
Then he saw her. Was it the alcohol? She was on the terrace, to his right. Her brown hair was being blown by the wind. She was looking at him, pleading with him, reaching her hand out.…
He shook his head, trying to push her away, clutching the glass and taking another sip, a sip he didn’t want. But as hard as he fought, he couldn’t stop looking back at her—at the mirage, the memory, of his wife, taken from him more than a decade before by a bullet.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. You have to believe me.…” His whisper trailed off as a gust from the Mediterranean sent his hair awry, tousling it in a sudden breeze.
Dewey Andreas took another large sip of bourbon, draining the glass. He leaned over and poured more bourbon into the glass, then lifted it to his lips and took another big sip. He removed a pack of cigarettes from his jeans pocket and lit one.
It had been two months now since Dewey learned the truth.
That his wife hadn’t killed herself. That they’d killed her and made it look like a suicide. A military unit where spouses were forbidden, an elite, highly secret squad of operators culled exclusively from Delta and Navy SEALs, brainchild of the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, who wanted a covert kill team deployable on American soil, outside the bounds of the law. But nothing had gone as planned. He’d been charged with Holly’s murder and by the time the jury acquitted him, the unit’s recruiters had moved on, leaving Dewey to pick up the pieces of his shattered life without the woman he loved. He was kicked out of the military a day after his acquittal. A military, a country, he’d risked his life for. Like Holly, gone with the wind, gone forever.
All of it was visited on him like a ferocious lightning strike from a clear sky, the bolt hitting with such force it should have killed him. But it didn’t. Instead, it hardened him, hardened what was already the hardest of American tough. Dewey had learned to accept his fate. Had learned to accept Holly’s suicide. He fled America for the U.K., taking a job on an offshore oil platform in the North Sea, delivered by helicopter to the rig in the middle of a brutal winter storm. It was there—on that rig, then another, and still others, off the coast of Africa, Europe, and South America—that Dewey had healed. Or, perhaps more accurately, where Dewey had sealed off and destroyed every part of him capable of feeling. Working as a roughneck had not just provided an escape—it had hardened him, even beyond what the American military was capable of, for it was offshore where the only law that mattered was the law of the jungle. It was offshore where Dewey Andreas learned what an animal he could be, what an animal he was.
And then, Dewey had returned to the fold. He’d been reeled back into the government that betrayed him. A cell of Islamic terrorists had targeted America—their first target the massive oil platform Dewey was gang chief on. Despite the way he’d been treated, Dewey risked his life to fight them. As much as he hated the government that kicked him out, that falsely accused him of murdering the woman he loved, he still loved the United States of America. He was American. Nothing could strip the red, white, and blue from his heart.
After returning, Dewey found people inside the government he trusted. The U.S. government, in turn, found Dewey to be its most formidable weapon. Since returning to stop the attack on America, Dewey had led a coup in Pakistan, and stolen Iran’s only nuclear device hours before it was to be detonated in Tel Aviv. He’d stopped a cell of ISIS terrorists who’d taken over a dormitory at Columbia University. He stopped an assassination attempt on the president of the United States.
But it was that last act—stopping Charles Bruner from killing President Dellenbaugh—that changed everything, for it was Bruner who wanted to recruit him a decade before. It was Bruner who’d ordered Holly’s murder.
He shut his eyes, holding back tears. He clenched his fist and slammed it into the railing at the side of the terrace. Too hard. He looked down, unclenching his fist. He hadn’t broken anything, but blood coursed from the knuckle.
He took another sip.
Everything Dewey thought he knew was an illusion. The death he’d spent a decade getting over was an illusion. They’d come for him and murdered her. Murdered her just so he could serve in their secretive unit unencumbered by family.
“Why the hell do you think I would’ve gone with you? Fuck you,” he whispered.
It was the same question he’d been asking himself for weeks, for months.
I’d never join you. I would never have joined you, you arrogant son of a bitch.
Dewey had killed the man behind it all, Charles Bruner, but it did little to assuage his anger, his hatred, and his guilt. He’d gotten Holly murdered. Not intentionally, but he was the one they wanted and he was the reason the unit’s henchman had jammed his service pistol into Holly’s mouth and blown off the back of her head. Now all he could feel was anger—a dark, cruel, hate-filled anger that was growing by the hour.
In four months, Dewey had done little except look for the one man remaining. It had become his singular obsession. To the exclusion of friends, job, family, Daisy. A year ago, he imagined marrying Daisy. Now, he couldn’t talk to her, so deep was the guilt that occupied his troubled mind. Someday he’d explain to her why he never returned her calls, why he didn’t answer the door when she came looking. But not this day. This day was for Holly.
He took another sip of bourbon, then took a deep drag on the cigarette, casually scanning the cobblestone streets that ran below the slightly dilapidated hotel, then the ocean, once again eyeing the yacht moored at the far edge of the small harbor.
“I’m coming for you,” he whispered as he stared out at the yellow dot.
He took one last puff of the cigarette then flicked it from the terrace. He pushed his hand back through his hair. He watched as a young couple walked in a slightly inebriated zigzag down the cobblestones, the woman laughing at something the man said. He looked back at the yacht. Suddenly, the lights disappeared. He picked up the binoculars and scanned the boat again. Except for a low glow from the running lights along the gunnels of the boat, all other lights were off. He flipped on thermal. Again, he counted the bodies of people inside the boat, all apparently at rest. He counted two gunmen who remained on the deck of the boat, standing guard despite the darkness.
Dewey slammed down the rest of the bourbon then turned and entered the darkened hotel room. He flipped on the lights. His eyes caught the visitor seated on the sofa. In the same moment, he ripped the gun from beneath his left armpit and swept it toward the figure.
“Don’t shoot,” said Tacoma, raising his hands and staring calmly at Dewey.
Tacoma was leaning back, both feet on the table. He wore a pair of bright white slides. He held a beer in his hand. He looked casually up at Dewey.
Dewey held Tacoma in the firing line of the suppressor for an extra second, then stuffed the gun back inside the holster.
“I hope you don’t mind,” said Tacoma, taking a sip of beer. “It was in the fridge. I had another one too.”
“What the fuck are you doing here?” said Dewey as he moved to the credenza and placed his glass down.
“I’m here to stop you before you do something stupid,” said Tacoma.
“It’s too late,” said Dewey. “Who sent you? Hector?”
“I came on my own,” said Tacoma. “But they know you’re here.”
“Langley. I … well, I sort of read something on Hector’s desk.”
Dewey shot Tacoma a look.
“What the hell does that mean?”
“There’s a RECON team coming to get you,” said Tacoma. “There’s three of them in the lobby. They’re waiting for you to walk out. Probably dart you up with some tizanidine and fly you home.”
Dewey found the bottle of bourbon on the counter and poured half a glass.
“I thought you said you came alone?”
“I did. I knew they were sending in a team. I beat them here,” said Tacoma, grinning.
“What do you want, a medal? Why should I believe you?”
“I wouldn’t lie to you,” said Tacoma. “Even though you’re an ungrateful asshole.”
Dewey ignored the taunt. He looked at Tacoma.
“Do they know you’re here?” said Dewey.
“I don’t think so,” said Tacoma. “I have a car a few blocks away and a plane waiting at the airport. We should probably get going—we’ll need to go out through the service entrance.”
Dewey put the glass down and looked at Tacoma with a perplexed expression.
“Rob,” said Dewey sharply. “I’m not leaving.”
Dewey walked to the closet and removed a large duffel bag.
“If Langley can find you, so can whoever you came here to kill,” said Tacoma, pointing to the ocean. “Whoever’s on that fucking yacht. Have you considered that?”
Dewey carried the duffel to the middle of the room and set it down on the coffee table in front of Tacoma, pushing his feet off to accommodate the bag.
“How did Langley know I was here?” he asked, unzipping the bag.
“You set off a tracker a week ago,” said Tacoma, “when you walked into Dulles. Then you popped the grid at Heathrow, but the tracker didn’t go blue, so they know you connected. They pushed every known alias against the X6 framework. You popped the grid again in Tangiers under the name Dane Walker. Three days ago you flashed again when you entered Tunisia.”
“Impressive,” said Dewey casually as he rifled through his duffel bag and removed several items and placed them on the credenza: explosives; a set of advanced, waterproof night optics called “four-quads”; a SIG P226 with a suppressor already threaded into the muzzle; extra magazines; and a white nylon shoulder holster. He took the .45 from beneath his armpit and set it down, not looking at Tacoma, who sat down.
“Who are you here for, Dewey?”
Dewey removed a tactical wet suit from the duffel bag—short-sleeved, midthigh, with several airtight pockets.
“Unless you want to see my ass, you might want to look away,” said Dewey.
He took off his clothing and quickly pulled the wet suit on. He started stuffing the airtight pockets with guns, ammo, and explosives. Finally, he walked to the credenza and bolted down the remaining quarter glass of bourbon.
Dewey continued staring blankly at Tacoma, picking up one of the guns and sticking it into an airtight pocket on his right thigh.
“What do you want me to tell you, Rob? How I found out my wife didn’t commit suicide and someone in fact murdered her? How I’m going to go put a bullet in one of the motherfuckers behind it? Is that what you’re wondering? Because that’s what I’m doing. And anyone who stands in my way is going to die.”
Tacoma leaned back. He was silent for several moments.
“So that’s what this is about?” Tacoma said.
“Yeah, that’s what this is about. I’m going to install some air-conditioning in Peter Flaherty’s skull.”
“It won’t bring Holly back.”
“No shit,” said Dewey, continuing to prepare.
“So you found Flaherty?”
Dewey shot him a look.
“There’s a Tier One kill order on him,” said Tacoma. “There’s a right way and a wrong way to kill him. This is the wrong way.”
“There’s no wrong way,” said Dewey. “Flaherty killed my wife. He staged her suicide then put my gun in her mouth and pulled the trigger.”
“Do you know the operating environment?” said Tacoma. “How many men he has? Electronic surveillance, trip wires? Let JSOC send in a team of SEALs.”
“No way. JSOC was who let Flaherty escape from Guantánamo in the first place. I’ll take my chances.”
Dewey reached into the duffel and removed two small cubes, one orange-colored, the other gray, each the size of a pack of cigarettes, along with a black object the size and shape of a AA battery. He put them in a third airtight pocket on the side of his left thigh then zipped it tight.
“You need sanction before you go out and just put a bullet in someone, otherwise you lose any sort of protection they can provide,” said Tacoma.
“Bullets,” said Dewey.
“Bullets, plural. You said before I put a bullet in someone. I’m putting bullets in someone, plural, as many as I can.”
He stuck the other gun in the airtight pocket and zipped it up.
“I’m going to stick a gun in his mouth and blow the back of his fucking head off.”
Quickly, Dewey pulled on his jeans and a windbreaker. He pulled a thin backpack over his shoulders.
Dewey moved toward the door, but Tacoma intercepted him, standing in the way.
“Excuse me,” Dewey said. But Tacoma didn’t budge.
“Five minutes,” said Tacoma.
“You’re not right right now,” said Tacoma. “You know it and I know it. You’re pissed off. I don’t blame you. I’d be pissed off too. But this isn’t the way to deal with it. You’re going to get killed. For chrissakes, you smell like a bourbon factory.”
“It’s the way I deal with it,” said Dewey.
“It won’t bring Holly back.”
“I’m not doing this to bring her back. I’m doing it because there’s a man on a boat who was one of the ones who killed her and he doesn’t deserve to live. It’s about justice. I’d rather die than live with myself if I didn’t do this. If they kill me, I went out doing what I wanted to do.”
“I get it,” said Tacoma, pausing. “At least let me come with you.”
“No,” said Dewey. “I need to do this myself.”
Dewey stepped to the duffel bag. He took out a large coil of rope. He went out to the terrace and tied the end of the rope around the railing.
“Don’t wait up.”
He climbed onto the railing—then disappeared.
Copyright © 2018 Ben Coes.