Tag Archives: Target Deck

An excerpt from “Target Deck”, The Stewmaker

The Stewmaker followed a specific recipe.

In his line of work, he found that it helped to develop a consistent schedule, almost turning it into a professional ritual. Some of his fellow cartel members worshiped Santa Muerta, the Black Madonna, Chupacabras and all manner of nonsense. He was raised a strict Catholic without all the added window dressing that the working poor had ingratiated into their religion but these days the Stewmaker didn’t have much of anything to believe in other than the six hundred dollars a week that the cartel paid him.

The money was good, but the work was somewhat time consuming, depending on how busy the cartel was. Last summer Jimenez had decided to heat up the plaza and wipe out some rivals. The Stewmaker had to dispose of so many bodies that his family had hardly seen him over the span of a couple months.

With a sigh, he dropped down to his hands and knees and poked the wood fire under the giant metal vat that he had started an hour ago. The recipe called for two hundred liters of water, brought to a slow boil, followed by two entire sacks of sodium hydroxide. Setting the metal poker aside, he swatted at some of the flies buzzing around, giant black fuckers that went straight for his eyes and ears.

It was the corpses that attracted the flies. Two of them lay besides the vat, their skin having gone gray, their eyes sunken. Sometimes the bodies came in with obvious signs of torture and mutilation. Sometimes they came in with one clean gunshot through the head, sometimes they were riddled with bullets from head to toe. These two had severe cuts across their arms, signs of putting up a defense before they died from deep stab wounds in the abdomen. It looked like they had gotten into a sword fight but it wasn’t the Stewmaker’s place to ask questions. He worked disposal while someone else worked termination.

Lighting up a cigarette, he watched the stew slowly come to a boil. He moved to put on some protective gear before dumping the bodies into the cauldron. First there was an apron, followed by heavy plastic gloves, and finally a face mask and goggles. Safety first.

Rubbing out his cigarette, the Stewmaker lifted the mask in place and hefted the first corpse over his shoulder. Handling dead weight was much more difficult than carrying someone who was still alive. Slowly, he eased the corpse into the bubbling stew. He dreaded what came next. The other corpse was the fat one. Grunting and straining, he managed to slide the second body into the vat.

The stew would cook for eight hours before he would extinguish the fire. He would stir the contents periodically and experience told him that all that would be left by the end was fingernails, toenails, and teeth. The stew would then be poured into 55 gallon drums, hauled out by pickup truck, and the contents burned at some remote location.

The fat one bobbed to the surface.

The Stewmaker used his fire poker to try to sink the body back into the acid mixture, but to no avail. He should have known better. Before dumping the body, he should have used a butcher’s cleaver to slice open the stomach cavity and let the air out. No way would he be thrashing the corpse with a machete while it floated in caustic soda.

Discarding the gloves, mask, and goggles, the Stewmaker looked over at the two dozen drums stacked in the corner of his yard. It had been a busy month. He lived up in the hill country towards the border of Oaxaca and Chiapas where his activities could fly under the radar. The cartel would drop fresh corpses at his front door in the middle of the night and he’d get to work when he discovered them in the morning. Once a month, an envelop packed full of cash was slipped under his door. It was a nice arrangement.

The Stewmaker grew frustrated as he watched the fat body float across the surface of the acid vat. He knew better and should have take precautions. Eventually, the acid would eat through the body and deflate it but it was still irritating.

Truth is stranger than fiction…


Filed under Military Fiction, Weapons and Tactics

A sneak peak at my new novel, “Target Deck”

A concept draft of the cover for my new novel, “Target Deck”

Deckard woke up underwater.

Bubbles escaped around the SCUBA regulator clenched in his mouth as he checked the glowing hands on his wrist watch. Time sometimes seemed to stand still while submerged. Maintaining neutral buoyancy he floated, his wet suit insulating him against the cold that threatened to creep in even while in warm waters.

Pulling the rubber sleeve of the wetsuit back over his watch, he breathed evenly, if a little to fast, recognizing the first signs of pre-combat jitters. He was burning through oxygen faster than normal.

In the darkness, the mercenary could feel, rather than see the presence of his team. They floated alongside him in silence, waiting.

* * *

Samantha Diaz struggled against the handcuffs, rubbing her wrists raw.

“How about we play a little game.”

Jose Ortega stood in front of her, his arms folded across his chest. The ratty black mustache on his upper lip wiggled as he suppressed a laugh.

“Yeah, let’s turn off the lights and play a game of whose in my mouth?”

Ortega’s crew broke out laughing, anticipation in their eyes. They lounged around the master bedroom, wearing flamboyantly bright t-shirts with different stenciled designs, all from designer labels. Their hair was all identically slicked back with the same product, jeans with the same prefabricated tears and wear marks that came pre-worn from the store.

“Try not to cry like a little bitch,” the cartel leader demanded. “We already suffered enough of that from your father.”

Samantha lunged, the handcuffs digging deeper into her wrists.

Ortega bent down and grabbed her by the hair.

“You were stupid to come back,” he said with rotten breath. “Now you pay the price.”

Reaching into his pocket, he flicked open a switchblade. Running the blade under the inside of her shirt, he began slicing through the fabric to the cheers of his lieutenants.

“Everyone will know that the Diaz family produces nothing but whores.”

Several of Ortega’s men got to their feet, their hands moving towards pants zippers.

The explosion was deafening.

Two walls immediately collapsed followed by smoke and what sounded like thunder strikes that were sent skipping through the bedroom.

Gunfire erupted from the multiple breach points created through the cinder block walls, screams cut off by short controlled bursts of gunfire. New voices filled the room, speaking some strange language that Samantha was unfamiliar with.

When the smoke began to clear, she saw Ortega laying on his back with splotches of crimson staining his over-priced shirt. Attempting to speak, a strained gurgling sound was the best the cartel don could manage.

The heel of a combat boot came down on his throat.

Grinding his boot into Ortega’s neck, a large black clad man snarled, his lips curled back, bearing teeth like fangs.

“Get security up,” the man ordered in English. “Nikita, get those bolt cutters over here.”

A brown skinned man with Asian eyes moved forward, slinging his rifle over one shoulder, gripping the cutters in his hands. As he maneuvered the chain links of her handcuffs between the shears, she noticed that he was wearing a wetsuit, dripping wet despite the fact that they were no where near the ocean.

With the grunt, the commando severed the links with a loud snap, freeing her from the bed post she had been chained to.

Muffled shouts sounded from outside. One of the soldiers cracked open the bed room door, peering outside before pulling the pin from a fragmentation grenade. Rolling it outside, the grenade exploded, the voices suddenly going silent. Taking another glance outside, the grenadier turned to the large gringo with his foot still on Ortega’s throat and said something in what sounded like Russian.

Looking up from Ortega’s lifeless eyes, he replied in a similar rapid fire manner in the same language.

The man who had cut her free dropped the bolt cutters and took a knee next to one of the gaping holes created by the breaching charges, his rifle at the ready, waiting for targets to present themselves.

The gringo undid a waterproof bag that had been riding over his shoulder, producing a stack of papers before moving towards her.

“Ms. Diaz, I need you to-”

“Need me to what?” she asked pressing a .357 magnum into Deckard’s cheek.

“Uh,” the mercenary paused. “Where did you get that?”

“Ortega kept it in his waistband under his shirt.”

“I didn’t see you reaching for it.”

“You should be more careful or are you another dumb son of a punta?”

“Ma’am, I just need you to sign the-”

“Don’t tell me what to do jackass. I-”

Her words were interrupted by Nikita cutting loose with a staccato burst of gunfire, the wall he was taking cover behind chipping away under enemy return fire.

“I don’t think we have time for this.”

“Don’t have-”

The ground shook as an explosion rattled somewhere in the drug lord’s compound.

“What the hell was that?”

“My boys blowing the front gate,” Deckard informed her.

“Your boys?”

“You know, my outfit. Your father contracted us but with him being killed seventeen hours ago, I’m afraid we are now here illegally, which is why I need, I would like, for you to sign the-”


“The contract, extending it’s duration until we can finish the job we were originally hired for.”

Nikita lobbed a grenade through the breach and resumed firing.

“What job?” she yelled over the noise.

“To take care of your drug cartel problem.”

Outside it sounded like the fourth of July back stateside where she had attended university.

“What the fuck is going on out there?”

“My platoons just drove their assault trucks into the compound. They are in the process mopping up the rest of Ortega’s men.”

“I can’t sign a contract with mercenaries, I’m a deputized police chief, not the provincial governor.”

“Actually, he was killed twelve hours ago.”

“The provincial judge?”

“He was with the governor,” Deckard said looking out of the corner of his eyes towards the door, with the massive revolver still stuck in his face. “The chief prosecutor too.”


“Yeah, so if you could just sign here,” he said handing her a ball point pen.

“And you work for me?”

“That’s the idea.”

“And we clean these motherfuckers out?”

“Precisely what I had in mind.”

Samantha snatched the pen out of Deckard’s hand and signed on the dotted line.

“Initial there.”

Another explosion sounded.

“Okay,” Deckard said flipping through the stack of papers. “Initial here.”

Samantha grimaced, sketching her name all over the papers.

“Right, and one more time right here.”

“Anything else.”

“That should do it,” Deckard said sliding the papers back into his bag. “But do you mind getting the cannon out of my face?”

Samantha looked at him long and hard before lowering her newly acquired pistol.

The mercenary posted next to the door leaned out, sending a barrage of gunfire down the hall.

“Pleasure doing business with you,” Deckard said, taking her by the hand and helping her to her feet. “We’ve got work to do.”


Filed under Action Adventure, Military Fiction, News, Writing