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God Damn It! Smith!
“Markus, let me remind you,” said the infamous old drug lord Frank Onis as Markus stood up to leave. “This man is very dangerous,” he continued nervously, looking straight into Markus’s eyes, “shoot the bugger right in the head when you see him… no talking and shit…”
Markus fidgeted uncomfortably. There was a deep hatred in the old man’s eyes; it almost made him feel like throwing up.
“Yeah, you told me that,” said Markus trying hard not to look away. “Ah! But you don’t know enough. Trust me,” said Frank cutting him short impatiently. “They say this guy is an expert… gather he was part of a covert team that was trained by the DIA for some special operation or shit. And now they let loose this fucker on me…”
“That so? Fine. DIA guy or whoever… We’ll take care of him… you can stop worrying.” said Markus a bit too confidently, turning to the door.
“Listen me out, you moron. Halt right there!” yelled Frank. Markus froze. He was a freelancer and didn’t take shit. But somehow, he was not offended by the old man’s nervousness. It was the fear of death… and it always had its funny effects on people.
Frank poured a shot of military rum for himself, sent it down his system and then turned to Markus again. Markus observed that the man of terrible criminal history was trembling, even if so slightly…
“Sorry,” he said without much conviction. “This man is very dangerous… a damn shadow. No one has ever seen him… They say he’s quick, cunning and merciless. They say he’s already arrived… He is trained in shadow tactics, Laido, Capoera, Wing Chun and all that shit… And he is coming for me…”
Markus stood there patiently listening to old man’s rambling for another minute. And then he moved.
Reaching the door, he turned back.
“What’s his name, you said?” asked Markus.
“Jo… John,” blurted out the old drug lord…
“Don’t worry. John will never reach you.”
And the door closed behind him.
★ ★ ★
A hot water shower after a tiring journey on God forsaken roads is always beyond pleasure. John had been in the bathroom doing nothing but standing like a statue, unmoving for the past fourteen minutes. He was trying to move his focus from what lay ahead. The sound of the water, the warm feel of it trickling down his naked body and the argument between loud female occupant of the room next to his, with the manager… all were perfectly soothing to his senses.
As the thought of the argument entered his mind, he froze. There was a momentary pause in the argument in the corridor and then it resumed. But this time it did not sound the same, somehow. John turned the running water off and listened as his muscles tightened. He counted three foot-steps as if he knew this would come next. One… two… and three… That’s all John had to hear.
In a swift move, he picked the tin container from the floor, smashed it through the narrow glass window of the bathroom and the next instant he was flying through the window… the broken glass scraping his skin slightly on his left shoulder and on the right thigh.
In the exact moment when John’s body passed through the window, the door to his room in the cheap motel burst open like a bomb exploded on it. But the bomb was yet to explode.
Markus stood with eight of his men in the broken doorframe. The next moment a grenade rolled into the room. The explosion shook the entire building and created a gaping hole on the floor, exposing the terrified naked couple on the ground floor’s ‘suit’.
By this time, John had rolled down the car and started walking… stark naked. Eighteen more of Markus’s men were positioned at the main entrance of the motel and just two were placed at the gate. John had luckily landed away from the gate. He simply jumped over the motel’s wall and was on the street. Quickly, he ran around the wall and approached the two gunmen waiting at the gate.
Meanwhile, Markus and his men entered the destroyed guest room of the motel. Markus’ heart was beating fast, his eyes searching for his prize. One of his men yelled for their leader from inside the bathroom.
The two men at the gate spotted John when he was about ten feet away. Their first reaction on seeing a naked man running at them was of being startled for two full seconds. John simply took advantage of it.
Continuing his run, he sprang six feet up into the air. Positioning his right leg for a deadly flying kick, he connected to one of the men on the chest… and utilizing the pushback he gained from the kick, he landed on the ground while his left hand looped around the second man’s neck. John squatted down, transferring entire weight of his fall to his left hand. It produced a terrible cracking sound of bones from the gunman’s neck.
Leaving the two still bodies to their fate, John walked briskly down the street. The stares and whispers on the street did not seem to bother him. After walking for about a minute, he found the store he needed.
Meanwhile, Markus was barking orders to his men to search the premises thoroughly. When he found the two dead men at the gate, Markus’s jaws tightened. He knew that the guy had already beaten him... though only for now. Some bastard from some other land was challenging his ego.
John entered a store that sold expensive clothing. His naked presence got the unabashed, annoyed and condescending stares of all the thirteen people present in the store at that time. If anybody cared, it was not John. He approached the bill counter and asked where he could find something that would fit him good. The counter guy looked with lusty eyes and said that he did not believe John had any money on him to buy clothes.
John promptly showed the counter guy a beautiful little silver revolver that fits perfectly into the palm. It was a piece that John flicked from one of the fallen gunmen’s socks. The counter guy shifted his gaze from the revolver to John with trepidation. John laid the revolver on the counter and slid it across to the guy. “That’d fetch you a grand, easily,” said John as he walked briskly into the store.
Meanwhile, out on the street, it was pandemonium. Twenty-eight people in black suits, holding guns sped into the street where the clothing store was located. One of the terrified pedestrians informed a gunman with trim bead that the naked guy walked into that store on the corner.
In seconds, the store was filled with men holding guns trying to hide behind the stacks of displayed clothes. Markus signaled to the people already inside the shop to stay quiet. The terrified customers and the petrified staff simply obeyed him.
A clicking sound emanated from the changing room inside the store. Markus found his hand tightening over his automatic. Four tensed seconds passed as twenty-six trained gunmen in the store waited to spring into action, and spray a thousand bullets at the treacherous enemy who would step out any moment…
The changing room’s door opened… a short, stout man stepped out with a beaming face, obviously loving the blue shirt he had just tried on. Twenty-six guns and twenty-six men suddenly sprang out into the open and it was a spectacle.
The man in the blue shirt almost got shot with a hundred bullets. Almost. Because before they understood that the man was not the one they were looking for, there was movement in one of the many rows of clothing display stands filled the floor. The stands that had a full stock of clothes hung on them, forming numerous screens in the outlet. Then they heard a funny jabbing sound and a loud thud.
All the men turned back towards the entrance and looked around frantically trying to spot the source of the thud. And then the clothes of another display stand shook on the farther end, followed by another of the jabbing and thud sound. “Here!” someone yelled. The body of one of the gunmen was lying awkwardly on the floor, in a pool of blood.
And then came many more thuds to the utter confusion and dismay of Markus’s men. And there were many more shouts of “Here!” The display stands started shaking randomly now in different directions driving the men crazy. They started shooting at everything now in spite of Markus’s shrill orders to stay calm.
With each thud and shaking of the display stands, Markus was losing another of his men. By the time the gunmen obeyed Markus and ran out into the street, it was too late. Markus counted three men with him. The two men who he left outside the clothing outlet to cover the entrance were already dead.
“Twenty-six men! God damn it! The bastard has taken out twenty-six of our men!” yelled Markus, trying hard to control his rage. “He must have been waiting outside by the time we went in, Mark,” whispered one of the three survivors, “when we were facing the changing room, he must have slipped in, taking out these two at the entrance. Lumber’s silencer is missing…”
“He is in there. But we can’t go in, can we?” asked another survivor, fear evident in his voice. “No. We are not going in. Let us wait it out here. There is no other entrance to the bloody outlet...” said Markus.
And they waited patiently on the street at the entrance. About three minutes later, Markus felt a jolt! “What if?” he thought. And then started running to his vehicle, yelling instructions to his men… “You stay right here…” he ordered.
Minutes later, Markus was running into the cigar-smelling luxurious cabin of Frank Onis. As he threw open the door, he froze. A handsome man of height six feet one, with slender athlete body and well-toned muscles was standing at the old drug baron’s table… Funny and awkward, but his attire was brand new nonetheless. John was unscrewing the silencer from his little Glok-26 pistol. On the table was a human body with its brains blown off.
Markus smiled… his automatic ready in his hand. “John, is it not? Good to see you. I am Markus. By the way, there is news I have for you,” said Markus. John continued what he was doing but smiled back, apparently he was in no hurry. “And that is?” asked John.
“I am sorry but I don’t think you succeeded today…” said Markus carefully stepping closer to John. John did not move an inch from where he was.
“That’s the wrong guy, my friend. I had arranged to place one of Frank’s employees in his place, just in case you made it here…” said Markus, his smile turning into a wicked grin now. John shot a quick look at Markus. Eyes of a wolf…
“Oh!” he said, “You mean this guy on the table is not Frank Onis?” asked John. Markus grinned a little more, nodded and moved another step forward.
“That’s bad. And what about this one?” asked John moving slightly to his left. Next to the big chair, on the floor was the huge body of Frank Onis with an open mouth… an unmistakable crimson bullet hole inside it…
Unstoppable rage ran into the veins of Markus turning his face red. Yet, he did not get the slightest chance to exhibit it. The moment John moved aside to reveal Frank’s body, he slid down on his knees with incredible speed and pumped a bullet right into Markus’ right knee. The enraged Markus took another bullet in his back as John walked pass the open door.
“Say something…” muttered John as his tall muscular figure moved out of the building.
“Yes?” said a shrewd male voice, answering the call.
“Your men had a narrow escape today, but surely, you had gained from the deal…” said a husky elderly sounding female voice on the phone. Composed and soothing, the tone had an unmistakable foreign accent to it.
The man’s fist tightened on his mobile.
“Who’s this?” he growled; it was more than rude.
“Your destiny…” said the husky female on the other side.
“Stop playing games or…”
“I am the psychic you had hired on the Internet, mister,” said the elderly lady cutting him off sharply. “Oh…” said the shrewd male, softening instantly.
“I looked deep into you last night in my meditations. You seem to have given a slip to death several times in your life. Seven times, to be precise,” said the lady.
“May be,” said the thug voice.
“The seventh time you faced death, it almost got you. But you are a survivor. You had to change your career but you lived on…”
“Ye… yes. You are right,” said the male, startled at the precision with which this woman could ‘see’.
“Before I tell you something, you should understand certain truth about life,” said the female voice.
“I am listening”, said the man, now sitting down.
“Luck is a myth, as is misfortune… ‘Cause, there are no coincidences in life. Getting dealt a good hand, getting a second chance in life, or being in the right place in the right time do not happen by chance. Hitsuzen, a naturally foreordained event. Destiny. We only participate in the unfolding of it as life takes each step ahead in time… are you with me?” asked the lady, pausing for a moment. “Ye…yes…” said the man, apparently deep in thought.
“For example, like never before, you decided go out on a walk this morning, something that you do not usually do… but it is no coincidence. One of your men, the one with two missing teeth, has been double crossing you. He tipped off your enemy that there are just two men to protect you today and they could take you out at your office this morning. Those people had come, but you were not found… your walk had saved you”, said the lady.
“Oh! My God!” gasped the man in a throaty voice. “I will find that fucker and…”
“Hitsuzen. Preordained event. No other outcome was possible,” said the lady.
“Hitsuzen… yeah… but I’ll kill that bastard…”
“Seven times you gave death a slip,” she cut him off again. “In one year, you will be facing it for the eighth time. And this time might be the last time.”
“You mean… I am going to die in a year’s time and it’s Hitsuzen? I hired you to tell me this?” asked the man. He was surprisingly cool about it.
“Your contacting me right at this point in time is again, Hitsuzen. It’s a sign that the survivor in you is giving you a chance…”
“But you will have to do what you have to, to save your life… before the full moon, next year… remember, December next year”, said the old oracle on her mobile.
“I am listening.”
She looked at him with tender eyes. That look… it was the same when John asked her to marry him years ago, although it seemed like it was yesterday. It had a quality that penetrated his heart through the passage of his eyes… The look seemed to communicate a thousand feelings… feelings that were impossible to string into empty words…
“Good bye, John. Now you should leave.”
How deeply were those words etched into his psyche! Words that had shattered him to pieces… words that had seeds that would sprout and destroy a dear part deep inside him…
“Angela, please… don’t do this,” said John when he opened his eyes with a start. He looked around, confused. The dream got his eyes moist and the hospital room around him looked blurred prompting him to wipe the tears off with his sleeve.
John must have dozed off in the chair next to the patient. The patient in question was his dear Angela. Angela, and patient! He could not believe how lean her body had become. The shining face of tender features... how could it turn so ashen today? He wondered what terrible curse could change an angel like Angela into the pitiable sick stack of bones she is today…
The time was half past three in the morning. John rose up and strolled out of the room, leaving the patient in deep slumber… The only sound was of her weak heartbeat given out in depressing beeps by the machine.
★ ★ ★
John remembered Florida City as a calm place. It had a kind of soothing effect on him when he was here the last time. But that was another time… and it was another world.
He walked out of Homestead Hospital. Strolling past the numerous palm trees in the campus he reached his car.
John desperately felt the need for coffee. Wendy’s was nearby, he remembered. But they’re only open until two in the night. John looked at his wristwatch and gunned the engine. He knew of another place… that’d be just perfect.
Driving through the clear roads of the silent city, he felt a familiar despair welling up his chest. An unbearable uneasiness in his lower abdomen made him wince in pain. The pain was not physical yet he was feeling it in the body.
John shifted through streets overtaking occasional four-wheelers on the streets. His sleep-deprived eyes gave out a burning sensation and the damn stomach was growling with hunger. Yet the agony inside him beat all other discomforts.
This was the city that gave him his love. It was fourteen years ago, when he asked Angela if she’d marry him. John remembered that day in impeccable clarity.
It was the day he returned from an assignment the DIA had sent him on. His physical condition was battered to say the least. But when his gaze fell upon Angela that day, nothing mattered anymore. The one hundred and three days of being away from her, had been tormenting.
And that morning, when he saw her in Homestead on a wooden bench in Mayor Roscoe Warren Municipal Park… forgotten was the bullet still inside his right thigh and forgiven was the wretched Arab who double-crossed him… Such was her beauty… and such was his passion for her…
He had been followed that morning… Followed by the only man left alive by John in the operation, an Arab by origin. It was a fatal oversight, not spotting him before. Perhaps it was the sheer thrill of expectation that Angela would be waiting for him in Florida City that caused the oversight.
When John lowered himself to sit down next to Angela on the wooden seat… precisely two bullets left a muffler-fitted Beretta racing towards the couple in succession.
As Angela’s face lit up with that smile that he loved so dearly… the first bullet ricocheted hitting the iron frame of the bench. The second one found John’s shoulder blade, shattering the bone into three pieces. In a split second John spotted the shooter. About fifteen feet away on the park’s road looking straight at him from behind a car.
The bullet had been too close to Angela. “Too damn close, bastard…” muttered John under his breath as his right hand slid around her waist, picking Angela up and sliding her behind him in a swift move. At the same time, his injured left hand moved with unimaginable speed, enduring inconceivable pain!
Despite the pain, John lifted his left hand and inserted it into his leather jacket’s pocket... As he did so, he turned back and hugged Angela, still shielding her. Now his back to the opponent in clear sight…
Angela was in a state of shock when John’s lips touched her left ear… the fragrance of her hair filling his lungs… John began whispering a count down into her ear… “Three… two… one…”
The next instant John’s left hand jetted out of his leather jacket, shooting a small rectangular blue and red object in a spectacular backhand throw, aiming with incredible accuracy. And then there was a gigantic blast followed by a deafening sound. Through a thick black smoke, the car and the human behind it were no more to be seen… in one piece.
When John slumped down to the wooden bench in exhaustion, he felt the soft body of Angela under him… and her tear filled eyes staring at him…
“Life’s a bitch…” she said making a ‘cluck’ sound and nodding her head sideways…
John looked into her blue eyes and smiled. He loved it when she did that.
“Say something… Will you marry me, Angela?”
The head was horrifying to look at, with the eye balls almost popping out of their cavities.
Cops were swarming an apartment in the wee hours of the fourth day of December.
The sight of a dead body dangling in the air, supported only by a long primitive spear that stuck through its throat into the head, was actually nauseating even to the officers at the crime scene.
The dead man was left hanging to a spear right in the middle of the living room. That spear turned crimson all over, with the blood that oozed out of the hole it made under the jaw…
The spear stood straight up on a spherical base that had a little cup like arrangement around the stick to collect the blood down at the bottom.
It was stuck into the head, through the soft portion between the Adam’s apple and the jaw of the unfortunate man. It went up all the way till the crown of the head and stopped there, touching the skull… probably blocked by the hard bone there.
The spear looked like one they used in primitive battles of the past. It was more like a home-made spear; a crooked eight-foot stick attached to a sharp iron spearhead with the help of an ordinary synthetic string that was probably available in any departmental store...
And that was not all. There was something even stranger about the murder. The murderer stretched the body’s left hand up and got the index finger to point up at the sky… more like an umpire declaring the batsman out in a cricket match. The murderer tied a red colored rope to the index finger, ran the rope through a hook attached to the roof and tied its other end to a window.
The murder took place in central Detroit, in an old apartment building. The dead man worked for a private firm that imported fashion wear.
This was the sixteenth such death in the city in one year! All sixteen people were killed in the exact signature pattern and the killer had not left the slightest of clues.
John sat at a coffee shop that served coffee and junk food all through the night. The coffee was passable but hot enough to soothe his nerves… His mind was scuba diving into the ocean of his memories…
★ ★ ★
John’s parents were never there for him. In fact he never remembers to have seen them. He grew up in the government run foster home in Detroit. It was the foster home that taught him the first lessons in the art of survival. But for this one lady warden, he liked no one there. The kids called her the ‘pink bitch’ for reasons unknown to John. The lady was the epitome of rudeness and gave the boys a first-hand experience of hell. Yet, for some unknown reason, John liked her.
Strangely, the ‘pink bitch’ was kind of soft with John when the other kids were not around. She used to teach him her native language.
John was unemotional for the most part. He looked stoic and he exhibited minimal expressions. Yet, he was very courteous with women. He was instinctively protective towards girls and the helpless. He never liked it when men were rude with ladies. If it were his genes that made him feel this way, the orphan would never know…
One day when John was in his teens, when four men in black suits visited the foster home, John didn’t have a clue as to what was meant by the abbreviation, DIA and why he had to undergo so many tests. And then began his training in DIA. When he left Detroit for Washington he thought he’d never come back…
In a few years’ time, John had earned a name for himself in the secret department. And the next three years, he had become the favorite to be handed over, abstruse and complex international assignments with partners who had more experience.
A year later, John was the man. His growth in DIA had been painful yet quick.
The years he spent in DIA as a field agent, John had become something that he himself dreaded. To call him a killing machine would be a cliché, yet that’s exactly what he was; a super swift killer and for most of the times, he was like a heartless machine. Wherever he went, his style in destruction was his signature for his enemies to dread. When there was no need to be subtle in work, the destruction he brought about was spectacular.
Once, he was sent to Russia on an assignment. When he did not find the woman he was supposed to bring back home unharmed, he did something that perhaps no one had ever thought of. He kidnapped nine most notorious men of the Russian mafia! And then he blackmailed the entire pack of mafia to go on search of the woman he had to bring back. The mafia did all the work for him. They traced the woman, extracted her from the captors and sent her back to America. Later, they found all the nine kidnapped thugs in one place, stoned but safe. John had already disappeared by then.
From that day, they started referring to him by the name Nyanya, meaning the ‘baby sitter’. And slowly the mark of this man in everything he did began to become a legend.
John was a man with incredibly powerful instincts, meteoric moves, who thought with lightning speed and was a master in three of the most dangerous martial art techniques of the entire world.
John’s instincts have become so very powerful in time that the combination of his powerful sixth sense and protective and proactive reflexes inside him started working in spite of him. His instincts got powerful enough to take over and overpower him in times of peril.
His enemies dreaded the Nyanya; for his speed, clever thinking and his expertise in the disappearing act from seemingly impossible-to-escape situations.
He had gained a shadowy reputation. None knew his name or how he looked. But they knew that he was there somewhere…
Fourteen years had passed in DIA and John knew of no other world.
The turning point came when John met Angela during one of his assignments in Florida City. The attraction was instant and the passion was irresistible for both. He knew that he had found a meaning for his life.
A year later, the day he returned from an escapade in Egypt, John asked Angela to marry him.
The same year, John opted out of DIA to start off with a private security consultancy. Leaving the DIA was not as easy as said, though… But at his new security consultancy, all he got was work that required ‘taking care of’ or ‘taking out’ or ‘neutralizing’ people who were generally kingpins at high power bases. And so the Nyanya turned a hit-man.
★ ★ ★
John and Angela were lovers. Even after they were married! They settled down in a quiet place in Cripple Creek, Colorado. In between assignments that sometimes took over two months at a stretch, John and Angela had a passionate honeymoon for a life.
Thanks a lot for reading the except from the book.
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