The Curmudgeon


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Precision Escalation: an extract

The new Jake Baculum thriller from the bestselling author of Executive Imperative

"Of course I would like to help you in any way I can." The Somalian warlord smiled. His gold tooth glinted as he tapped Havana cigar ash into one of his smaller ashtrays. He continued on talking in his British accent while Jake sat coiled like a crouching panther awaiting the next danger signal.

"We are in Africa," Mrwanda continued on, "and Africa is not America. Freedom and democracy are all very well in their place, but Somalia is not Texas. Here, you do not have to establish that someone is a trespasser before shooting him." The warlord smiled again and made an expansive gesture with some of the Uzis he was holding. Beads of sweat beaded his dark forehead and darkened the traditional Somalian hakimachi with its tribal buffalo tied around his forehead.

"I haven't come to shoot anyone," Jake said, taking care to keep the crinkles around his ice-chip eyes as amiable as feasibility made it possible for him to do. "The airstrike will take care of the suspect." If they could find him. All those thin brown guys looked awful similar from the cockpit of a W-911 Unabomber, world's most advanced airborne pre-emptive defense machine though it undoubtably was.

"Ah yes, the airstrike." Mrwanda tapped more ash. Jake had heard, back on the USS Good Intentions Gone Awry, that Mrwanda had his ashtrays made from the skulls of his enemies' children. Jake didn't know about that, but it was clear he wasn't dealing with one of the nice guys.

If there were any nice guys. In Somalia.

"The airstrike, yes," Mrwanda said, smiling. "I hope it all goes well. I saw Black Hawk Down several times, but I do not think it would be so entertaining in real life."

Jake contented himself with hoping the guy would show just one little sign of Islamic militant fundamentalism before the assignment ended. Three warships, an aircraft carrier and enough firepower to turn the Sahara into a desert and Mogadishu into a ruin were just waiting to give him a nice, fat slice of entertainment if he did. That, Jake knew, was what real life was all about. Real life was you and your buddies facing the firepower of a zillion faceless Somalian ogres with sunglasses. It was nothing to do with Hollywood, that was for sure. If only the folks back home could know that.


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