USMC, a compassionate, intelligent man, who rescues a pup from the
scene of a car bombing while on deployment to Afghanistan. The pup is
named Shadow, and accompanies Kramer back to Oceanside, California.
They commit themselves to a campaign which has them fighting for
their lives during an FBI operation to bring down a crime boss based
The Humvees sped past people milling about, pointing at the smoke still towering over the town of Gereshk and jabbering loudly among themselves. Women and children huddled together here and there away from the road, and the elderly gaped at the armored convoy racing into hell.
The town itself was quite built up but very poor and the sewage trails ran down the streets in open channels. Leathernecks would be covered in it when they finished their patrols. Kids ran around in it barefooted.
The Humvees arrived at the town’s central marketplace and instantly found themselves mobbed by hysterical townsfolk. The Marines dismounted and immediately secured the area as the corpsman pushed his way through the tumult towards the blast site. Captain Kramer, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6 held his ground against the terrified and angry locals wailing in his face, some even tugging at his uniform for attention.
He needed to assess the situation. Apart from his Humvees, no other vehicles occupied the square. His troops had rapidly secured the perimeter and a couple now assisted the corpsman. A gritty cloud of smoke and dust shrouded the entire area but drifted away over the rooftops, aided by a breeze that had mercifully sprung up.
Sure enough, a car bomb. A huge scorched crater marked where the car had been parked outside a building. The remains of the vehicle lay in a smoldering, mangled heap halfway across the square with the Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians sifting through it. Rubble, pieces of metal, the dead, dying, and the injured lay strewn about the whole marketplace. Kramer’s boot bumped something as he stepped forward, and his eyes snapped to his feet. A bloody hand lay palm up. An innocent child’s hand.
His demeanor hardened, and the mob fell back as if it sensed the deadliness building up inside the warrior. Reports flooded in to him as his troops called in with updates. Without hesitation, the radio tech who kept close by Captain Kramer as he prowled the devastated marketplace flashed the news to base headquarters. Among the townsfolk still milling about, a few local officials, including the police chief, worked with the Marines to clear the area of unnecessary personnel.
Close by, a handful of weeping men loaded a civilian pickup truck with bodies, each wrapped in blood-soaked cloth. A group of distraught women mixed with them, wailing and grasping at each bundle being handled. Overwrought by their gruesome task, they were totally oblivious of the poor bewildered individual sitting quietly among their shuffling feet.
A runty tan pup sat sorrowfully beside one particular body. Occasionally it raised a paw and tentatively touched the bloody cloth, or prodded it with its nose. Kramer observed transfixed as the pup peered at the people, then at the small bundle of cloth, then at the people again. Then the pup nuzzled the bundle as if trying to awaken the person wrapped inside.
A grief-stricken man knelt and reverently lifted the tiny body. Judging by his age, he’s likely the father. As he stood, the pup whimpered as if to say, hey, wait a moment. The wailing increased as hands passed the body up to a blood-streaked villager standing in the back of the pickup. Just as he turned to place the bundle with the others, a gust of wind flipped up a corner of the cloth, revealing a tiny hand. Instinctively, Kramer felt that it belonged to a very young girl.
With the last victim onboard, the pickup started up and pulled away. The men and women mourners followed close behind trying to comfort each other as best as they could. The procession gradually left the square, disappearing from view as a waiting throng swarmed after it as it passed into a nearby street.
A strange silence fell over the square. It seemed as if the few remaining locals and all the Marines had their attention riveted on the lonely pup still sitting in the road. It hadn’t left that spot in all this time. Now it sat there staring after the pickup and those following it.
Captain Kramer crossed the street and gently lifted the pup. An expression of pure unadulterated love met his eyes. A light sparkled behind those dark brown eyes that he couldn’t describe. He just felt it.
“Well, hello there, little guy. Looks like everyone’s gone and left you all alone. Ain’t fair, is it? What say I do something about that.”
The pup didn’t squirm or attempt to get away. It merely fixed its eyes on him as if it knew that this person would care for it, keep it safe, and maybe even feed it occasionally. As the six-foot-six Kramer cradled the puny creature in his arms, he was oblivious to the gazes directed his way from all around the square.
USMC, both survive their first operation assisting the FBI in
bringing down the empire of a major crime boss in America. But more
is in store for the two Marines in yet another FBI operation to tie
up loose ends from the previous op. This time the action is more
intense and proves too costly for the Marines.
She scrambled on her hands and knees, worming her way deep into the thick underbrush. Her lungs and throat burned from frantic breathing. The pain of branches and rocks tearing and bruising her skin went unfelt. Terror coursing through her young body immunized her senses to any injuries.
She bumped into the base of a tree, its rough bark scraping her face. Her arms wrapped around the trunk welcoming the sense of security offered. The girl shuffled around and leaned her back against the tree and drew her knees up to her chest.
She squeezed her eyes tight and listened.
Blood pounded in her ears. She struggled to dampen the infernal noise and gradually her hearing cleared. At first there was nothing then suddenly she heard it—a distant crackling and popping. Her brow wrinkled in concentration as she worked to put a name to the sound. Her eyes flew open. Fire.
Despite the dense underbrush and the distance she had placed between herself and the house, she spotted the flickering light. Night lay thick and heavy all around her and there was no mistaking the flames reaching out through her bedroom window. Tears ran down her face and sobs racked her as images of her parents flashed before her mind’s eye.
“Sarah, time for bed, dear.” Her mother had sent her off to bed early tonight because her father wanted to leave at first light tomorrow morning. It was to be the family’s first vacation to Disney World and the young twelve year old was ecstatic, to say the least. She argued she didn’t think she could sleep a wink but her mother still insisted she try.
Sleep must have snuck up on her because the house was totally dark when the crash of splintering wood jerked her wide-awake. At first she thought she dreamt the noise, but as she sat up in bed wondering, sound of glass shattering came from somewhere downstairs, toward the front of the house. Then she heard the back door burst open.
She leapt out of bed and dashed to the bedroom door. Sarah remembered watching her mother ease it close and blowing her a goodnight kiss. Now she stood at the top of the stairs staring fearfully down into the darkness. Her parents’ room lay at the bottom of the staircase. Suddenly her father threw the door open, startling her. A shaft of light spilled from the bedroom throwing his shadow starkly against the opposite wall. He stared up at her wild-eyed for a second, and swiveled his head back and forth as chaotic sounds came from both ends of the house.
“Get back in your room and close the door, Sarah,” he hissed.
But before she could do as ordered something caught her father’s attention and he turned from her. He was a large man, strongly built, and his frame blocked the passage to the kitchen at the back of the house. Sarah took a tentative step down the stairs when her father must have noticed someone coming from the living room up front.
“What the dickens is going on?” her father shouted. “Who are you? What the hell do you want? You have no right—”
Everything seemed to happen at once.
Sarah’s mother appeared. Her face contorted with fear, her eyes snapping up at her young daughter. Sarah’s father braced himself as a figure charged at him out of the dark. As the two collided in a melee of swinging fists, another man joined the fray. He must have come from the kitchen.
Her mother screamed. Sarah screamed even louder. Her ear-piercing screech resounded in the house, now a scene of an ugly brawl.
“Get out. Now!” Father’s muffled command came from inside the tangle of bodies on the floor.
Sarah’s mother attempted to move to the stairs but a hand lashed out from the scuffle, seized her ankle, and brought her crashing down hard. The woman’s head struck the bottom hardwood stair with a dull crack. A trickle of blood seeped down her face as she stared up at Sarah in horror.
“Grab the kid.” The voice belonged to one of the house invaders.
A sudden thunderous roar rose out of the fighting and with herculean effort, father heaved himself up sending one of the strangers hurtling down the passage. The other pulled something dark and ugly from his belt.
An explosion filled the hallway. Sarah’s hands flew to her ears as she let out a long, high-pitch shriek. Her father toppled to the floor, but not before his shocked and sorrowful expression seared itself into the young girl’s mind.
She turned and bolted.
Toys and clothes littered her room but these she simply ran around or jumped over. She focused on her bedroom window—her only avenue of escape.
Her hands grabbed the wooden frame and, using all her youthful strength, she hefted the window up. Fear clutched her throat. She could barely make out the ground some twelve feet below. Footsteps pounded up the stairs. Sarah held her breath, said a very short prayer, and flung herself into the night.
Judo and gymnastic lessons at school came into play and she tucked and rolled as she hit the ground. She sprang to her feet and ran straight for the forest bordering the family property.
Now, hunkered down and shivering from shock and fear, the girl was mesmerized by the sight of her home burning. Regarded as inquisitive by everyone who knew her, Sarah always had a question to pose. Even as her tears glistened in the glow of the fire her mind raced.
If the strangers were after her why hadn’t they simply come through her bedroom window? Why did they break into the house so savagely? And why, oh why, did they have to hurt her parents like they did?
A man emerged from the house. Instinctively Sarah froze; every muscle taut. Only her eyes moved. They followed the man as he walked the edge of the flames, his figure silhouetted against the fiery glare. He reached the area where Sarah’s bedroom used to be and stared at the conflagration. He glanced up as his partner came from around the rear of the house and joined him.
The two men stood for a long moment, gesturing at the fire and each other. Sarah guessed from their body language they were angry, probably at how the night’s events had turned out. One of the men looked down, fingers scratching his chin as if he were in deep thought. Suddenly his whole body stiffened and he dropped to one knee. He touched the ground with his fingertips and his head turned slowly as his eyes tracked a line of some sort.
His arm rose and pointed straight at the tree. Right where Sarah hid.
Fear seized her. She could not breathe. Cold sweat appeared along her hairline and trickled down her chest. Her stomach lurched and the sudden urge to vomit swept over her as bile boiled up her throat. She shot to her feet. She had to run, had to—.
A man blocked her escape. Someone she hadn’t seen before. He grabbed a handful of her hair.
“Gotcha, ya little minx,” he hissed close to her ear, and louder, “Over here, guys. I have the kid. She ain’t going nowhere.”
(An Eye For an Eye)
Only Kramer and his Anatolian Shepherd, Shadow, stand in her way. But
will they be enough to stop her?
It is rare for most people to experience the real meaning of ‘dead weight.’
It was equally strange for the thought to come to mind as Kramer muscled the man into a sitting position against a garishly painted door. It wasn’t the first time he’d needed to handle the dead. He studied his handiwork. For all intents and purposes, the figure appeared to be asleep.
Kramer surveyed the alley and the ancient balconies overhead checking for witnesses. No one. A last glance at his handiwork, then he slipped away from the scene.
He had to catch up with his target. The man he was following had entered the medina, or old walled city, of Tangier from the port and headed directly into the warren of alleyways. He was wearing white cotton slacks and a bluish grey lightweight jacket and a white fedora all of which made him somewhat of an easy figure for Kramer to tail.
Although his Global Security Corporation partners, Darci Tucker and his wife, Maria, hadn’t said as much when they pressured him gently into this assignment, Kramer was well aware that it was done out of their concern for him.
The flight from Los Angeles to London to Amsterdam had provided the retired United States Marine major more than enough time for circumspection and for the ugly truth to reveal itself. Losing his parents and his fiancée, FBI Special Agent Sarah Hunter, thirty months ago, had decimated Kramer’s life and left him intolerable company for anyone, especially his close friends. Darci and Maria needed a break from him as much as he needed a new focus and a chance to reprioritize his life.
So here he was in Tangier, Morocco, three weeks after leaving LA, tailing a man they suspected had ties with Shelley Harper—a woman at the top of INTERPOL’s ‘most wanted’ list as well as those of most governments worldwide. For Kramer though, the reasons for hunting down the elusive Harper were by far more personal than anyone else’s.
Ahead a shaft of sunlight snapped off a bluish grey jacket and white fedora. Kramer quickened his pace. A minute later he stood at the junction of four alleyways.
As he scanned the crowds strolling the centuries old terraced alleys, Kramer was oblivious of the many things the Moroccan port of Tangier offered travellers—the sense of exotic mystery, interesting history, beautiful vistas and unspoiled beaches.
One of his favorite movies, The Bourne Ultimatum, had used the medina for one of its glamorous backdrops but it hadn’t prepared Kramer for the spice-filled air with its intriguing aromas that permeated the ancient city.
He overheard a tourist enquire after Bab Haha from a street stall owner who waved a dark olive skinned arm at one of the intersecting alleys. Kramer instinctively glanced in that direction and happened to catch sight of his target. He lit out after Fedora.
Kramer’s situational awareness was as keen as ever but he couldn’t be certain that his unfortunate assailant had merely been a street thug or someone protecting Fedora. The assignment was supposed to be a simple task of arriving at an address in Cairo where GSC had been informed they would locate the fedora-wearing courier. From there all Kramer need do was to shadow the man to his next meeting and capture everything on video, upload the file to Maria at GSC headquarters in California and await further orders.
It all sounded simple enough. Right up to the point that joker jumped Kramer in the medina alley flashing a dagger. That part wasn’t in the script.
A gap in the buildings afforded him a glimpse of the ancient fortifications of the Tangier Kasbah that loomed over the medina. Moments later Kramer found himself standing before Bab Haha. It proved to be one of the several doors or gates that lead into the Kasbah.
Kramer glanced at the map to the left of Bab Haha that highlighted the walk tourists could take around the Kasbah. Overall, the ancient fortified area looked surprising small.
He spotted Fedora weaving through the populace and followed it. Houses lavishly decorated with sculptures of cherubs, colorful shutters and balconies flanked the alley that took him into the Place du Méchouar. He fended off the hordes that descended upon him begging for money or trying to sell something, dodged past the snake charmers and dancers, and skipped around gawking groups of tourists.
At first he Fedora intended to enter the Kasbah Museum but then he ducked through an unassuming door off to its side. The sign over the entrance welcomed Kramer in several languages to enter Les Fils du Detroit, helpfully translated underneath as The Sons of the Strait. He stepped in and found himself transported back in time.
The ten by sixteen feet room proved to be a tiny café. Several people, mainly locals, occupied the two narrow rug-covered bench seats that ran the length of the room. The walls were covered in Moroccan tapestries and numerous old framed photographs hung precariously above the patrons’ heads. A couple of circular, hand beaten bronze tables took some valuable space from the narrow floor and carried several small glasses of mint tea.
The customers paid scant attention to Kramer as he joined them. They continued sipping their hot drinks while a group of four elderly Arab-Andalusian musicians held a jam session at the far end of the room. The authentic melodies and ambiance recreated Morocco’s rich, cultural past.
Kramer accepted a glass of tea and whipped out a tourist guide from his back pocket. He pretended to read it, glancing occasionally at the musicians when, in fact, his focus was really on his target seated opposite.
The man was in his mid-30s, olive skin, lanky, sported a pencil-thin moustache, and wire-rimmed glasses that framed deep-set dark brown eyes. Thick black, wavy hair flowed from under the fedora and skimmed the collar of his jacket.
He leaned close to an older gentleman dressed in the traditional neutrally colored Moroccan djellaba; a long, loose, hooded garment with long sleeves. The craggy weather-beaten face was topped by a black bernousse, or Fez, and a silvery white beard completed the classical Arabic countenance. Both men were deep in conversation.
Kramer shifted slightly to align himself with his target. Once back in his hotel room he would upload the image and audio file from the second button on his shirt.
Darci Tucker, CEO of Global Security Corporation, had designed the ultra high-tech surveillance device. His wife, Maria, would work her digital wizardry to garner every bit of intelligence from it in order to create the next link in the chain that would hopefully lead them closer to Shelley Harper.
All three had a score to settle with the woman.
has come to pass, I am turning my artistic bent from graphic design
and illustration to that of writing.
thriller), and begun an action crime series centered on two
characters, Captain Kramer, USMC and his Anatolian Shepherd dog, Sgt.
Shadow, USMC. Book One of the series is THE PITS, Book Two is YOU CAN
RUN, and at the time of this bibliography rewrite, I am working on
Book Three, LEX TALIONIS.
series that encompasses the world and has our two Marines fighting
hard against organized crime at many levels – but always involving
have an active role in helping me grow and develop as an author in
the years to come. I invite you to join me in this adventure.