Posted by Skook on 3 May, 2014 at 5:52 pm. 22 comments already!




Carl was a warrior from a bygone age. He had served with the Third Marine Division during the war in Vietnam. Although he was with the Third Division, he felt none of the camaraderie of the typical esprit de corps; he was a sniper and either worked alone or occasionally with a spotter, but he preferred to work alone.

The guys spoke of Carl in hushed tones, since he moved like a ghost and when you mentioned his name, he was usually standing behind you. He never spoke above a whisper; yet many considered him to be the most dangerous man in Vietnam. He came by his reputation honestly; he never took advantage of the rotation for Rest and Relaxation or to return home. There were rumors that his enlistment was up years earlier, but he stayed on because he enjoyed his work.

He was a lone wolf, but the officers would occasionally call him in for a target assignment. That was the only indication that he was associated with the Marines. Some of the guys assumed he worked for the CIA, but the CIA operatives seemed oblivious of Carl’s connection with the agency.

Marines would go home for six months and come back to find Carl still camped near headquarters with no superior officers and no apparent official duties. The Marines were always glad to have him inside the wire and they were sure glad to have him outside the wire. They always seemed to have advance warnings of an attack and they had remarkable reconnaissance for setting up ambushes. The staff NCOs who saw the hand drawn maps with the positions drawn above the trail and detailed instruction for setting claymores on the far side of the trail, where the NVA survivors would seek cover after the initial fire from the M60, ARs, and rifles, were amazed at the artist like precision. Every important tree, rock, and elevation was recorded. The ambushes would specify the weapons and how many were needed in each position.

Everyone suspected Carl was responsible for the ambush plans, but no one knew for sure. He had beautiful handwriting and guys had seen him drawing landscapes in the afternoon, but every few days, when the sun went down, Carl told the guys on the wire he was moving out and he would silently disappear into the bush and be gone for several days with three canteens, forty rounds for his M14 and four boxes of C rations. He nodded and winked at the guys on the perimeter, they nodded back in silence, the next day they would tell of how Carl had slipped through the wire the night before. They laughed and called him the assassin and murder incorporated.

The night belonged to Charley and everyone dreaded going on night patrol, but the night was Carl’s friend. It was his extraordinary eyesight that was his distinguishing characteristic, it allowed him too see in the jungle at night, but it was his ability to see in finite detail that made him unique among other humans.

Carl knew he was different, if he had gone to college, he might have been a fighter pilot, he had the eyes and the sure steady hands, but he compared his eyes to those of the eagles and hawks that dropped out of the sky from long distances to kill with accuracy and timing. Carl never mentioned it to others, but he believed his eyes were closer to those of a raptor than those of other humans.

During boot camp, when the recruits were being trained on the range, there was a coach for every two shooters on the 500 yard line. The coaches were NCOs with superior marksmanship skills, who liked to gamble on the abilities of their shooters. Carl was already noted for being an excellent shot who was never out of the bull’s eye, but the guys in the butts grew tired of marking the bull’s eye for Carl and gave him a red flag or Maggie’s Drawers (the marker for a complete miss) as a joke. His coach grabbed Carl by the throat to choke him, and screamed in his face about the money he was losing. Carl turned to him and said, “I didn’t miss, I saw the bullet land. Give me twenty rounds, and I will spell my name in the V Ring (the circle in the bull’s eye that competition shooters use to record their scores).

His coach looked at him and asked, “You can do that?”

“Hell yes, get your best odds, let me shoot rapid fire and then ask the guys in the butts what my name is,” Carl said with an air of confidence.

His coach got odds of twenty to one and bet everything he had. He walked back to Carl and said, “I got ten to one. If you can do it, I’ll give you ten percent.”

Carl grinned at his coach’s phony generosity; the recruits were not allowed to have money, Carl was doing this because he knew he could.

He spelled his name with the flourish of an artist and the coaches were speechless. At the end of the week, Carl qualified with a perfect 250, with every round in the V ring. A few weeks later, Carl left Perris Island to spend the minimum period in Infantry training and left for sniper training.

The most dangerous time for Carl was coming back through the wire. He was often gone for days at a time, and the passwords were often changed while he was out on a mission. He would get close and send word that he was coming through, but by exposing himself, he was vulnerable to nervous riflemen within the wire and NVA snipers outside the wire.

When he announced he was outside the wire, the word would spread quickly “It’s Carl coming through the wire, don’t shoot.” This was Carl’s standard protocol, after being away for several days, but on one occasion, the Marines heard Carl call out in desperation, “It’s me Carl, don’t shoot.” Carl came at them at a dead run. He was covered in sweat and filth, and bleeding from several wounds. He ran through the perimeter and told the guys, “They’re coming.”

Carl ran on to the command post and told the officers to reenforce the wire. He was staggering from exhaustion, when he walked back to the wire. He took a position on the perimeter and his rifle barked with deadly accuracy. A Marine was assigned to load Carl’s clips. Carl ducked down to yell at the young Marine, over the deafening noise of battle, “Just put 17 rounds in and don’t get any dirt in them, I don’t want to weaken the springs.” Carl kept firing like he was on the practice range, while his helper loaded the clips with trembling fingers.

It was this one event that endeared Carl to the Marines; he was already a legend, but when he took his place on the perimeter and performed his lethal trade so cooly, against overwhelming odds, no one ever said a negative remark about Carl or his business again.

They called that afternoon, The Turkey Shoot. It was a slaughter for the NVA, and the Marines suffered no casualties. No one ever found out what Carl had done to the NVA to put them in such a murderous rage, but he had obviously pissed them off, because they kept coming against common sense.

In ’74 when the last Marines were going home, some of the guys noted that Carl was not making any effort to leave.

It was rumored he migrated to Burma and fought with one of the warlords for several years and then migrated down to Thailand and made a small fortune interdicting drug shipments.

He came back to the states in in 2000 and seemed to have no financial worries, and never would, since he maintained a very minimal standard of living. He splurged to buy his first computer and maintained his shooting skills with his old M14 at a local range in Maryland.

He kept to himself and ignored the middle aged suburban women looking for a free ride. He preferred to find beautiful escorts on Craig’s List and the Back Page erotic web sights. He figured it was better to spend $400 once or twice a week than be tied down with one woman who figured she owned half of his meagre fortune.

Eventually, he took a job at a golf course watering the greens and fairways at night. Working alone at night suited him and getting wet and cold from the water didn’t bother him, he hardly noticed the discomforts that most workers considered to be hardships. It was a popular country club course in Maryland, used by presidents and other politicians.

On rainy nights, Carl had to judge the rainfall and decide how much to irrigate or whether it was necessary to even turn on the sprinklers. On a rainy night, Carl was sitting in the jeep he used to travel up and down the fairways, the motor was idling and the wipers were slowly keeping up with the light rainfall, when he saw a figure in the green overalls and signature baseball cap of the country club ground crew walking toward him.

Usually they sent someone out when they had an electrical problem or they needed to shut down the pump for the night, Carl wasn’t concerned. The guy walked around to the passenger door, climbed in and said, “Well, if this rain keeps up, you won’t need to irrigate much tonight.”

Carl said nothing, by judging the stranger’s accent and speech, Carl knew he was an educated man from the midwest, most of the ground crew were country boys from Western Maryland and and the back hills of Virginia and Blacks from Baltimore. Most of them had not finished high school, if they shaved or got haircuts it was infrequent at best; this guy was clean shaven and spoke with the Chicago accent used by news pundits and insurance salesmen. He might work for the country club, but he spoke like he should be wearing a suit, not a pair of green overalls.

Carl said nothing, there was an awkward silence between the two men. Carl wanted this stranger to feel like he had to talk; Carl had nothing he wanted to say to him.

Carl reached over to roll down his window a few inches to let the water vapor out of the car, when he brought his hand back across his chest, he slipped his hand inside his coveralls and felt the 1911 45 ACP in the holster under his left armpit. He scratched his chest and said, “Damn chiggers”.

The stranger said, “Carl, I am here on business from the government.”

Carl said nothing, he drove the jeep across the fairway, parked in the rough and turned off the engine. He silently pointed to a tree and got out. The stranger followed Carl to the tree. Carl turned around with his 45 aimed at the man’s chest. “Cross your hands in front of you, if you move, you’re dead. Now, what do you want with me?”

The stranger’s confidence was gone, but Carl wasn’t sure if it was just an act.

With fear making his voice quake, the stranger said, “Easy Carl, we have come to you because we know you are the best and we have a job for you.”

“I have a job, you have 60 seconds to explain to me who you are and what you want or they will find you tits up, floating down the Potomac, tomorrow,” Carl said with an intense coolness.

“Carl, I am not a danger to you. We need a guy with your abilities, and with you working at this golf course, you have the perfect cover and the expertise to get the job done. During the war, you managed several hits, that we thought were impossible. This one is a matter of extreme importance to the national security and the survival of our country. We need you Carl, and we are willing to make you a wealthy man.” The stranger stopped talking and asked, “Do you mind if I reach inside?”

“Move easy,” Carl said. he was pissed at himself for being in this situation. The government was breathing down his neck and he knew he couldn’t trust anyone at this point. He should have stayed in Asia.

The stranger said, “I have two manilla envelopes with $35,000 each, they are yours, we just want you to build a hide on the golf course and be ready to do a job when we ask you. When you complete the hide, we will give you another $70,000, and $250,000 when you complete the job.”

Carl didn’t trust the envelopes, “Open each envelope and pull out some money.”

The stranger did as he was asked and Carl was assured that the envelopes weren’t wired to explode.

“Ok, when the hide is completed, I want you to bring two shoe boxes packed tight with hundred dollar bills. They will each hold $70,000. When the job is completed, I want $500,000 deposited in an account in Hong Kong,” Karl said with conviction. This was enough money to buy a modern sailing yacht and disappear forever in the coastal waters of Thailand. With his previous investments, Carl could live like a king off the coast of Thailand.

The stranger said with confidence, “I am fairly certain I can get my bosses to agree to your price, let me give you this phone. It will only operate between you and me. Let me know when the hide is finished and is ready to be inspected. I will have the next payment if it passes muster.” He placed the phone in one of the envelopes on the ground.

Carl knew the final price was inconsequential; he figured he would be dead within a few minutes after firing the shot or if he said no.

“If I don’t receive the last payment, I will call on you from long distance,” Carl said to the young stranger, while staring into the young man’s eyes and memorizing the young man’s facial features.

The young stranger was Neal Beck, he had graduated from the University of Southern Illinois with honors and graduated Harvard Law, before joining the CIA. Neal had met some of the granddaddies of Vietnam at the academy, but they had been officers and seemed a lot smarter than this former sniper from the enlisted ranks. His uncanny ability to direct a bullet was so legendary, it was hard for Neal to believe, but right now, he was looking down the barrel of a 45 held by one of the most prolific killers of the last century.

Neal was trained to avoid these confrontations, but this soft-speaking old man got the drop on him, and for the first time in his life, he was staring at instant death. “The money won’t be a problem,” Neal said, just before he bent forward and puked his dinner on the wet grass and his new gum boots.

Neal remembered the story of Carl at the Marine Recruit Training Depot, at Perris Island, South Carolina, and of how he had unnerved the island by writing his name with the M14 on the 500 yard line, in the center of the V ring. He was supposedly whisked straight to the scout sniper school upon graduation, foregoing the months at Infantry Training Regiment in North Carolina. Four months later, he was in Vietnam, plying his trade along the DMZ, in the hills around Khe Sahn, and along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Cambodia and Laos. He remained an Asiatic Marine, spending his entire enlistment in Vietnam, until he turned 22 and his enlistment was up. He then became an independent contractor for the CIA, operating on his own and with designated targets.

The old fart didn’t look to be one of the most lethal Americans in Asia, but he didn’t wear glasses and he looked halfway fit for a man who was nearly 70. He wasn’t sure what the old fart was talking about, when he mentioned long distance, but it didn’t really matter; he was a tool and they needed him to do a job; after that, he was expendable.

There was a group within the Agency who knew the president had close ties to foreign enemies, America was losing its prominence and the economy was tanking. It was the job of the CIA to spy on foreign government; consequently, there were certain evil people who were too close to the president and his advisors. That’s when some of Neal’s superior officers gathered up a cadre of their most loyal and nationalistic agents. These men were determined to stop the decline of America by assassinating the president. The Vice President was a parroting goof, but could be controlled to limit the damage, until a new government could be elected.

They called themselves America’s Watchdogs, if they had to break the law to preserve the country, they were prepared to do whatever was necessary.

Carl had lost his loyalty to the United States somewhere along the mountain trails of Southeast Asia. He saw burros wearing stars and empty suits leading lions, he saw cowards ordering brave men to certain death, he saw political corruption at the highest levels, and he saw America’s best become disillusioned with the country they once loved.

He knew they wanted him to assassinate the president, even though he had not yet been given a specific target. The president was a pathetic excuse for a man, but for an assassin, such judgements were a luxury he could ill-afford.

He expected the Agency to kill him after he took his shot, that was standard procedure, but Carl was no standard assassin.He chose the rough of the fourth hole to dig his hide. On one of the rainy nights he drove the jeep over to the garage and picked up a Case Tractor and attached an 18 inch auger on the three point hitch. He drove over a small dump truck. After cutting the turf down three inches in a 24 inch circle he carefully lifted the circle of grass out of the way and positioned the auger in the center of the circle. He had several tarps spread around the hole to collect the dirt, and it only took a few minutes to dig a 5 foot hole, 18 inches wide.

He inserted a 5 foot section of 18 inch plastic pipe down the hole and placed a plastic cap with a border of plastic glued around the top over the hole and then placed the sod over the cap. There was a piece of quarter inch rope, threaded through a hole in the center, that would be used to lift the cap from the top; it could also pull the cap down tight from beneath..

From the hide, he had a downhill shot of 300 yards to the first green. There wouldn’t be a gallery, the president was a terrible golfer and didn’t like people talking about his inferior golfing skills. He always played with a professional golfer and two party loyalists who were good golfers. Carl had watched the president’s golf games from a distance, golf bored him, but the typical politician or officer with political connections intrigued and disgusted Carl. He felt politicians exploited young idealists in order to advance their own careers and fortunes, while shoveling tons of BS about caring for the downtrodden and their love of country to the public.

Carl was no idealist, but he wasn’t sure he was jaded enough to kill a president for money, even if the president was a useless prick. The president’s arrogance had irritated a lot of people, but Carl wasn’t politically involved. Carl’s intellectual pursuits centered around the panels of comic books. The world of fantasy was his passion. He preferred drawings and stories without the pornography, but the beautiful girls drawn in revealing outfits, who could use a sword or bow with lethal accuracy, were his romantic goddesses. Of course, such women only exist in the male libido and its wildest imagination. So Carl was content with his dreams of sexy women in bizarre outfits who were as deadly with a primitive weapon as he was with a rifle, in the mean time prostitutes took care if his most earthly desires.

The phone he had been given had a tracking device and Carl often left it at the hide to make it seem as though he spent time making plans, but Carl had other plans. Across several fairways and next to the river was a stand of hardwood trees. During the night he used a backhoe and dug a hole for a 24 inch vertical pipe and laid a line of pipe down to the river. The horizontal line was a hundred feet to the river and opened into the river in about three foot of water. It looked like a short run or crawl, but if you were in the pipe, the last twenty feet would be submerged in water and if the end was inadvertently blocked, he would probably drown, while trying to back out of the pipe.

It was a chance he would need to take, a rock or tree trunk, or possibly a killer smarter than Carl could drown him if they detected his plan.

The second hide had a field of fire directly over the original hide, but was 1,100 meters from the first green. Carl made a silencer for his rifle by brazing a series of washers into a length of heavy wall pipe that was reduced and threaded onto the end of the barrel after removing the flash suppressor. The country club had a machine shop and at night, Carl had access to the lathe and the acetylene tanks, and no one was around to ask embarrassing questions. It was a crude but effective silencer; the only sound would be the supersonic sound of the bullet as it flew over the original hide that served only as a diversion.

Carl showed Neal the hide on the 4th fairway and Neal was impressed. It was invisible; the guys who mowed the rough had passed over it many times and had never seen the opening. Neal used trees to triangulate the location, his eyes were a dead give away to Carl. Inwardly he smiled at how the young man was using the Agency’s training to mark the location. The date was set for the 17th of July, four days away. Neal would use the phone to text the colors of the clothes being worn by the target, on the morning of the hit. Carl would stay in his hide until he was signaled that the target was on the first green, and then he would raise up to take his shot.

Inwardly, Carl wondered how the young agent could think Carl was so stupid. Taking a shot from five hundred yards away with no escape route in open country was suicide, but if the agent was naive enough to think Carl was this stupid, that was Neal’s problem. Carl thought to himself, “Do you really think I stayed alive in Asia for forty years by being stupid?”

Carl had developed a friendship with Matt, one of the old Marines on the ground crew. Without revealing his own experiences, Carl would get Matt, to recount his sea stories about the war. Carl bought the alcohol and let Matt do most of the drinking and talking. Matt enjoyed having a listener who appreciated his stories and didn’t mind buying the booze. On the night before the hit, Carl talked Matt into riding with him during the night. Carl secretly mixed Everclear alcohol with Matt’s favorite whiskey, Maker’s Mark, and after three drinks Matt was hopelessly drunk, before passing out.

Carl stuffed Matt into the hide on the fourth fairway, along with a .308 Ruger and a Beretta pistol. He taped Neal’s phone along with another phone, that was wired to play an annoying buzzer for a ring tone, on the plastic wall of the pipe and sealed Matt into the hide to sleep off his drunkenness.

Carl parked the jeep at the maintenance shed and walked back to his more elaborate hide by the river in the dark. At ten o’clock the next morning, the phone that Neal had given Carl texted that the target was wearing a matching pair of blue shorts and a blue knit shirt. They would be on the green in ten minutes, Carl had duplicated the receiver, so that the tracking device was in the hide, but he was receiving the same signal in his hide by the river.

He watched as the foursome with a detachment of Secret Service Agents gathered on the green; sure enough, the president was the target. He chuckled to himself and placed the crosshairs of his scope on the center of the president’s chest, the third button down on the three button shirt.

He had loaded this round with a cold slow powder and a 170 grain bullet. It was a light straight trajectory round that would carry the distance slowly with minimum impact. More than enough killing power for a well-placed shot, but it was a half-hearted round that suited Carl’s indifference to the job.

Carl received the confirmation, and at the last second, dropped his aim to hit the president on the tip of his right hip. The president spun around in a complete circle and fell to the ground in agony with his guards covering his body with theirs, while the president rolled on the green in agony.

Carl chuckled again at the president’s over dramatization of his wound, but in the mean time, Neal and two other agents converged on the original hide, just as the alarm went off to wake up Matt from his stupor.

Matt panicked at being encased in the narrow tube and stood up, the top came off the plastic pipe as Matt strained to see in the glaring sunlight. The bright light was the last thing Matt ever saw; the three agents each sent over a dozen bullets into Matt’s now lifeless body. Just as they reached the pipe and while still firing the occasional round into the lifeless form, Carl pressed an autodial number and a half kilo of C4 exploded from the bottom of the hide. Matt’s body was thrown ten feet into the air and the agents were all knocked down with their ears ringing from the explosion.

Carl dropped down into the tube and crawled toward the river. When he reached the flooded end of the pipe, he took a deep breath and wondered if it would be his last before swimming for the end of the pipe that was submerged in the river. The pipe was open and the scuba tank, fins, and mask were next to the opening.

Carl turned on the regulator and was breathing from the scuba tank while he put on the scuba tank, mask, and fins. He now had 45 minutes worth of air to make it downstream to his next point where a clean set of clothes and a car waited for him.

It wasn’t the best job he had ever done, but he was back in action and life was exciting once again. Carl would now be a hunted man for the rest of his life, but he had always had a price on his head, it was time to up the ante.

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