Book Five in The Boston Brahmin Series
An unedited Sneak Peek
(Available in eBook and Paperback the week of June 20, 2016)
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Huntington Avenue near Northeastern University
The four soldiers of J-Rock’s gang remained hidden as they watched the young couple scurry past the entrance to the Northeastern University School of Law. They laid in wait as the pair, probably students of the University, based upon their backpacks bearing a crimson N, worked their way up the sidewalk from Wollaston’s Market. Each of them carried a pack full of what remained from eight weeks of looting.
The white couple was unaware of their observers. It was still daylight, and besides, why should they worry? The United Nations troops were now patrolling the streets and providing them protection.
The tallest of the men, nicknamed Jacko for his proficiency in carjacking, was adorned with gold jewelry boosted from prior home invasions. As a high ranking member of the consolidated black gangs of South Boston, he was also extended the privilege of sporting the gang’s colors—a Raiders jersey. In a city which loved its hometown New England Patriots, there were not enough Raiders jerseys available to go around for the new recruits. Only senior leadership was afforded that honor.
The other three gang bangers, relatively new hires, had not yet earned their stripes. The approaching couple provided Jacko a teachable moment for his newest protégé, fifteen year old Latrell, a former honor student at the Brooke Mattapan Charter School.
“You ready to do this thing, Latrell?” asked Jacko.
Latrell was shaking and looked nervously toward the couple as they reached the intersection. The two students hid behind an empty newspaper stand for a moment as a van roared through the intersection.
Latrell’s dreadlocks stood in stark contrast to his soft, innocent hazel green eyes. He still proudly wore his navy blue hooded sweatshirt bearing his school’s logo. He rose from his crouch and pulled up his oversized blue jeans. It was his weight loss, and not his desire, which resulted in his looking like the stereotypical gang banger.
“Yeah, I’m ready, I guess,” he replied hesitantly, which earned him a slap across the back of the head from Jacko.
“Damn right you’re ready, muther fucker. This is your time.” Jacko handed him the thirty-two ounce steel framing hammer.
Latrell, hands shaking, accepted the tool-turned-murder-weapon. It still contained the blood stains of the old Asian man one of his associates had bludgeoned to death earlier in the day. They stole the man’s watch.
Although he was visibly nervous, his heart thumped with adrenaline-fueled excitement. Jacko had introduced Latrell to the thrilling rush of Crystal Meth. Free drugs were considered a perk for being a part of J-Rock’s crew. Methamphetamine was a white, crystal-like drug produced in hidden laboratories from amphetamines contained in over-the-counter cold remedies, mixed with a variety of chemicals such as battery acid, drain cleaner, lantern fuel, and antifreeze. Despite the collapse of the power grid, the meth labs were still in full production.
The drug user snorts meth through the nose, smokes it, or injects it with a needle. Crystal meth creates a rush in which the user feels euphoric, confident and full of energy. Jacko used the drug to keep his recruits ready to do his dirty work. He provided them enough during the day to keep them high. He didn’t need his soldiers binging out of control, or tweaking because they ran out of Crystal Meth. It was a controlled high. Mostly.
Latrell’s drug induced adrenaline kicked in and was in full effect. This was his final challenge before being fully accepted into J-Rock’s gang. In addition, he had learned over the past two months, that killing white people would earn him extra props. Jacko showed him it was white people who were receiving all of the food and supplies from the government. J-Rock had given plenty of examples of how white privilege still existed, even after the collapse.
J-Rock’s gang had grown in numbers and began to thrive after it was given the green light by Governor O’Brien to raise hell throughout Boston. The gang expanded because it was profitable to steal, at first. But as the pickins became slim, as they say, the leaders of the unified black gangs of Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan turned to another motivational tact—hate.
Hate filled speeches and a focus on racist rap music from artists like Common and Azealia Banks, who infamously wrote lyrics claiming the President hated white people, riled up the gang members to seek outlets for their frustrations. It became an initiation ritual for J-Rock’s gang to kill a white person. This was going to be Latrell’s rite of passage.
Jacko looked down at his three underlings. “Now, remember this is Latrell’s turn. He takes the first hits. I don’t wanna see nobody else involved, but our job is to jump in if he can’t handle it.”
The other three gang bangers laughed and Latrell managed a laugh as well. “I don’t need no fuckin’ help. That white boy ain’t gonna do nothing but cry.”
“I know you got this brother,” started Jacko. “I tell you what, leave the white girl alone. You boys grab her. After you do your bidness, we’ll party with the white ho and have some more of this chalk. I’ll let you have at her first, after me of course.”
Latrell nodded and gripped the claw hammer tightly in his left hand. He gave it a couple of awkward swings to indicate he was ready.
“Let’s do this,” he pronounced.
Jacko nodded and waved his new recruit toward the intersection. He emerged from the bushes alone, as the young couple, blissfully unaware, turned their backs to the gang and walked east on Huntington.
Latrell stalked his prey, while Jacko and the others walked fifty feet behind him. As Latrell got closer, he could see the couple more clearly. Both were in their early twenties and appeared to be neatly dressed. Clean clothes. They’re doin’ better than us black folk.
He then assessed the young woman. She had long blonde hair, worn straight so that it hung well past her shoulders to her waist. She was attractive and her figure was athletic. He liked blondes. Jacko had promised him a party.
Latrell gripped the hammer and gauged the distance between himself and the couple. They were thirty feet away and wedged onto the sidewalk by the fence guarding the commuter rail stop on their left, and the elevated guard rail protecting pedestrians from eastbound traffic on Huntington Avenue. The time was almost right.
As the couple reached the midway point of this stretch, the girl glanced behind her and saw Latrell’s approach. The plan was to bury the claw end of the hammer in the guy’s back while his boys grabbed the girl. He’d beat the dude down while his boys, and the girl, watched.
The young woman grabbed her boyfriend’s arm and picked up the pace. Latrell started running toward them and he glanced over his shoulder to see his gang brothers closing the gap. He raised the hammer and let out some type of guttural yell. The throaty sound was indiscernible, but it frightened the couple and caused them to drop their belongings, At first, they broke into a sprint up the sidewalk, which turned into a run for their lives.
“Get the white dude,” shouted Jacko, as he and the other two men were almost upon them. “We’ll take care of the ho for you!”
Latrell focused his attention on the guy, who lost his footing and stumbled in his effort to observe his attackers. This brief slip caused the couple to slow and Latrell was nearly upon them. His heart was pounding. He thought he could fly. He had reached the shoulder, the highest level of the methamphetamine fueled rush. Die white boy!
As the final few feet between them closed, Latrell raised the claw hammer over his head and swung at the man but …
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Rooftop of the New England Conservatory
Huntington Avenue near Northeastern University
One shot, one kill.
The crack of the sniper’s rifle reverberated off the canyon walls of the buildings flanking Huntington Avenue. The .308 round penetrated and exploded within the target’s chest, immediately stopping his forward momentum with a clothes line effect.
He quickly loaded another round into the chamber of his standard Gladius .308 rifle, although it was far from standard. The bolt action tack driver was his favorite post-service rifle. His muscular right arm bearing a tattoo which read 1S1K effortlessly operated the bolt and readied another round.
Two of the attackers stopped, but one continued toward the young girl. The expert killer took a deep breath and focused on his next target through the Nightforce scope. In daylight or properly set up, it would’ve been an easy shot. But with darkness limiting his scope’s range, he ran the risk of being less accurate.
He exhaled and gently squeezed the trigger of the powerful rifle.
“Hit”, he muttered to himself, continuing to look through his scope at the remaining assailants.
Two shots, two kills.
Real time stands still for the sniper, but the mind races at lightning speed. His mind always found its way back to a mountain ridge high above that village in Afghanistan. He and his spotter, a young guy nicknamed Eagle Eyes, had been dropped off the night before by a Chinook helicopter. They made camp several klicks away from their position before getting set up in the early morning hours.
Eagle Eyes earned his nickname when the members of his scout sniper unit found out he had been an editorial intern for Random House books. He was also deadly accurate at the game of darts. His combination of attention of detail, and a good eye, made him an excellent spotter for a scout sniper.
The sniper team wore heavy Ghillie suits designed to obscure their position. Together with strategically placed vegetation, the suits made them nearly undetectable to the enemy, and their target. The team spent a considerable amount of time customizing their Ghillies. There was always the potential of spending long hours or even days in these outfits as they waited for the perfect opportunity to complete their mission. A bureaucrat’s idea of one-size-fits-all suit wasn’t acceptable. Their lives depended upon comfort and concealment.
He and Eagle Eyes had determined the optimal position that provided the best line of sight to their target. Based upon the intelligence report they received, their mark would exit a mosque in the center of town. Once they reached the top of the hill overlooking the village, they hit the ground and crawled into position. The extra layer of canvas on the front of their suits provided a cushion from the hard rock and dried brush typical of the Afghan landscape.
Eagle Eyes checked his watch and announced that they should get ready. The team completed their range card and made the necessary adjustments. Then turned their attention to the village. He observed the dusty streets through the eight-magnitude Nightforce scope mounted on his beloved .300 Winchester rifle.
“Overseer in position,” Eagle eyes reported over the comms, as he searched for their target through his finder. The team was far enough away from the village that their shot would reverberate through the valley below them, helping shroud their location.
Several groups of men began to emerge from the mosque, not far from the entrance. They congregated for a moment and then began to slowly drift away. They undertook this mission without the benefit of a drone flying overhead. This was a high-value target and command didn’t want the Taliban leader to go back into hiding in a cave somewhere.
Eagle Eyes found their target. He announced this into his comms for the benefit of the interested eyes and ears in safer parts of the world.
“Target identified, Sector B, right forty, add fifty.”
Eagle Eyes continued. “Single target, light colored Khet partug and Peshawari cap, smoking cigarette.”
He shifted slightly, the ground crunching underneath him. He sought out the target through his scope. There!
“Roger, single target, light colored Afghan clothing,” repeated Eagle Eyes, as he looked through his spotter scope.
“Repeat, target identified. I have two mils crotch to head, confirmed!” he exclaimed.
“Roger, two mils crotch to head, dial five-hundred on your weapon.”
He made the adjustments called for by Eagle Eyes and confirmed it back to him. Eagle Eyes continued.
“Wind left to right, four miles per hour, hold one-eighth mil to the left.” He made the final setting, dialing it in with precision.
The factory setting on the Remington trigger was tuned to two pounds, which was a fairly light pull compared to others in his unit. When he was a boy, his dad taught him to respect the gun. Don’t jerk it when you fire. He became accustomed to a light trigger that didn’t offer any resistance.
Ready. Set. Squeeze. Boom.
The recoil hammered the folding stock into his shoulder. The ground vibrated beneath him. The feeling was exhilarating, powerful.
The long-range, high velocity round left a slight vapor trail as it flew through the air, creating a distortion.
“Hit. Center mass, stand by,” said Eagle Eyes. The target collapsed in a heap generating a smile from the duo.
Then a young boy, not more than nine years old, who was concealed behind the target, stood for a moment, dumbfounded. Blood poured out of his mouth as he attempted to reach for his throat which was punctured by a bullet fragment that passed through the target’s body. His empty eyes looked in their direction, before he fell to the earth convulsing. He held the boy in his sights for a moment, before Eagle Eyes pried him away.
It was his first, and second kill.
In his debrief, he was told the boy’s death was collateral damage, a casualty of war. He was ordered to shake it off. He would never forget that child twitching in the dirt next to his dead father.
A shriek coupled with the sound of gunfire brought him back to the present. During his brief moment away, the other two thugs could have escaped, but they didn’t. Oh no, they were stupid. One of the men ripped a handgun from his waist and began firing wildly in the air. He never had a chance to identify the hidden lair of the sniper.
CRACK! The sound was deafening in the still of the approaching darkness.
Three shots, three kills.
Finally, the fourth man got the message and hurdled over the barrier. He crossed Huntington Avenue into an alley, and he was gone.
He finally exhaled, relieving the tension. Three lifeless bodies bled out on the sidewalk. No cars. No trains. No bustling students scurrying off to their next destination. Only a cool gust of wind washed across his body. Then he heard it, faintly, but noticeable.
A woman’s voice.
Now, that was a first.
Thank you for reading! I hope you’ve enjoyed The Boston Brahmin series thus far. I want all of you to know how much your support has meant to me. Watch for an email from me during the week of the 20th as I release The Mechanics.