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Entering the Lion's Den

Entering the Lion's Den

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Entering the Lion's Den

Länge:
183 Seiten
3 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Sep 26, 2018
ISBN:
9780463345726
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Daniel planned from childhood to play the role of hero, fighting for God's people. He single-mindedly pursued the study of the fighting arts, becoming a truly great martial artist. But is he the best fighter in the world, as he believes? He emerges from lifelong obscurity just in time to encounter a fugitive criminal of awesome reputation for fighting. By God's grace, Daniel has the opportunity to play the role of hero. He will literally fight evil. And it will turn out in ways he never anticipated.

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Sep 26, 2018
ISBN:
9780463345726
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

David moved to Maine over thirty years ago, after college. He has studied martial arts for years and holds a high degree black belt. A veteran of over 20 medical mission trips to the Dominican Republic, he is also a Sunday School teacher, an avid photographer, and an obsessive reader. Having consumed over 5,000 books by his own estimate, David felt it was time to give back and write his own book at last. He and his wife, Peg, have a grown son. Peg read an early draft of his first book and said it sounded like it was written by a Sunday School teacher who read too many detective novels. Truth in advertising.


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Buchvorschau

Entering the Lion's Den - David Holmberg

about

Chapter 1 Early morning in the diner

Let me tell you a story. It is the story of a very ordinary man, made unusual by circumstance. He prepared all his life to play a certain role, and by God’s grace, he did. The story opens a number of years ago in a roadside diner in western Maine on a very rainy morning.

Describing it as very rainy hardly does it justice. Pouring, torrential is much more like it. The kind of rain that beats down on the tin roof, making you wonder why you didn’t stay in that warm, cozy bed instead of eating breakfast in the local diner long before sunrise on this very wet, miserable morning.

The man known as The Preacher was eating alone in a booth. He sat on cracked red vinyl upholstery, elbows resting on formica, using a fork to chase runny eggs around his plate. He appreciated a good breakfast when on the road, and he liked this one better than most. The waitress stopped by and warmed up his coffee. He nodded to her. Marking time. Waiting for someone. The Preacher had arrived early, as was his habit, in order to observe the other man’s approach. He had set up this meeting for a very early hour to minimize bystanders and so he could select an empty booth facing the door. The placement of the booth was important for security of course, but more important, it gave him an unobstructed view of every patron who entered. He needed to observe as much as possible of the man he was waiting to meet.

The Preacher had business to conduct. A new contact to make. Quiet, confidential matters to discuss. Soon enough it would all come to pass. Soon enough.

And then he was there. Standing right in front of The Preacher, dripping from every surface, dressed in Maine casual, hooded Army surplus field jacket over flannel and jeans, and holding the folded copy of The Franklin County Journal which was the recognition signal. He quietly slid into the booth across from The Preacher. Silent and dripping wet. No words, no wasted motion. Eye contact, friendly, but not staring.

How did he make it in through the door without being noticed? The Preacher had spent years dealing with his type, all manner of ex-military commandos, special forces operators, mercenaries, and none had ever had the tradecraft to pull off a public approach with that stealth. There’s no way he should’ve pulled that off. I’ve been in this business for too many years to not see his approach. Maybe I looked down for a moment too long, a mental error, nothing more. This guy is slick, but still just an operator.

The Preacher looked him over carefully. Difficult to estimate his height from a seated position, or his body size from the baggy clothes. Nondescript brown colored hair, short but not quite military cut. A pale Caucasian face with no distinguishing features, visible scars, or tattoos. Clothes that blend in. This guy was either some kind of statistical average or he was very good at being seen but not noticed. Role camouflage. The ability to blend in so well that an observer sees you, but takes no notice. Well, he’s got that one down, no doubt about it. Even among special operations guys, good role camouflage isn’t that common. It wouldn’t do to keep this guy waiting. Time to get down to business.

Good morning, Daniel. That is, Daniel Lyons, I presume. The Preacher looked for a visible reaction, but got none. Yes, I know who you are. I have access to your military records via a Confidential Pentagon database. And I know you are presently listed as ‘retired, with a medical discharge’ and living on a full pension. He looked closely, and saw just a faint trace of eye dilation but little or no facial movement. That was good. This guy is in complete control of his reactions. After years in the security business, The Preacher could read most people like an open book. He was holding the book known as Daniel Lyons in his hands, but he hadn’t cracked open the cover yet.

I reached out to you with that phone call yesterday. You may have heard of me. I’m known to most people as ‘The Preacher,’ and I’m a private contractor with very close ties to the government. I work as a broker of sorts, providing security personnel on a short-term basis to a variety of clients, vetted by the U.S. Government. As such, I am allowed access to Confidential personnel records from the Department of Defense and various intelligence agencies that are best left unspecified. Contract assignments are both domestic and international in scope.

Daniel held up a hand, indicating he wanted that train of thought to stop. I’m not into mercenary work. I’m not a gun-for-hire. I don’t know what background you have on me, but I didn’t reach out to you. I’m retired with a full military pension and no family obligations. I don’t need income, so I can afford to be picky. I’m not a gun-slinger or an assassin by inclination. If that’s what you want, then you contacted the wrong guy. The words were strong, but the voice quiet and strangely subdued. Little chance of them being picked up beyond the booth. Daniel had no desire to do the kind of work typical of mercenaries-for-hire. He had done some operations in Third World countries, and wasn’t anxious to repeat the experience. Old memories die hard.

The Preacher picked up on verbal clues. Daniel was being a little coy, but not reticent. He said he wasn’t an assassin ‘by inclination,’ which was a careful choice of words. The Preacher correctly understood this to mean that Daniel didn’t object to killing, when he felt it was justified.

I appreciate that. Believe me, that’s not my area, either. What I deal in is strictly legit security, bodyguard work mostly, jobs that must remain strictly confidential and are short term commitments. It’s a dangerous world we live in, especially today. There are a great number of people, in both the public and private sectors, that have a very real need to be protected from any number of dangers. Sometimes those dangers are ever present, but security personnel are only human. They get sick, they need emergency time off, and what do they do then? It takes a long time to properly vet someone to take on that kind of responsibility for someone’s safety. For example, a private bodyguard detail is in the middle of a job when one of its members is disabled. For whatever reason, there is no back-up readily available. That’s where my services come in. I maintain a reliable stable of operators, with a variety of suitable skills, available sometimes on very short notice. My operators are physically capable and mentally sharp, with all the paramilitary skill needed to get the job done. Am I hitting close to home here?

Daniel gave a nod. It was faint, but noticeable. The Preacher took it as consent to continue. Of course, such skilled and discreet work is well compensated. My clients are government agencies, corporations, the wealthy, and they pay top dollar. I take my cut as middle man, but you’ll find your end to be very motivating. My top operators work maybe sixty days a year and their compensation can put them in the upper tax brackets. The Preacher played his trump card. It was still true that money made the world go ‘round. If you want top talent, you’ve got to pay top dollar.

Daniel couldn’t help but sit up a bit. That kind of income always makes a strong impression on a working man. He was acquainted well enough with mercenary job offers to understand this was something out of the ordinary. If this guy had easy access to Confidential level secret government documents and could pay out that kind of money, he was a man to be taken seriously. I don’t know him from a hole-in-the-wall, but he’s friendly with the feds and he talks a good game about the money. The fact that I don’t know him by name might be a good thing. Means he’s serious about being discreet. That’s how you survive in this business.

The conversation continued in this vein for some time. The Preacher asked many questions about Daniel’s experience in the military and what training he had, but got few direct answers. Daniel was not vague or evasive in his replies, but bluntly stated, The answer to that is classified, a great many times. While not satisfying The Preacher’s need to know, it did not surprise him, either. Daniel was establishing himself as a man who kept his own counsel, not prone to bragging or exaggerating his case. It was important to The Preacher that his operators could maintain a confidence and weren’t likely to give anything away with a slip of the tongue in loose talk. Refusing to answer certain questions did more to establish Daniel’s credentials than answering them. Curiously, even the nature of the injury leading to his medical discharge/retirement was ‘classified,’ according to Daniel.

Daniel and The Preacher continued the verbal dance. A step forward, then backpedal two. A conversational gambit, then a planned response. Like two prize fighters, they circled each other warily, hands held high for defense and eyes pealed, looking for a mistake, an opening.

I’ll cut to the chase. The Preacher paused and considered his words carefully. I’m offering you a retainer for your services. Five thousand dollars, cash in an envelope, no signature or papers. In return, you owe me nothing more than a guarantee that you’ll listen to and give due consideration to any job offers I have for you. This is in effect for one year, renewable upon expiration if both parties agree.

That’s it? Five Large, cash with no signature, and I don’t owe you any merc work? Is that about it? Daniel had to remain just a little skeptical at this point. In his experience, people didn’t hand out piles of money for no reason. There were always string attached. Give a man an envelope stuffed with cash and there was always a quid pro quo. If he wasn’t paying for deeds done, then it was for deeds yet to be done. Things that sounded too good to be true, usually weren’t, in Daniel’s view.

You owe nothing more than an occasional face-to-face with me and a good listen to whatever story I have for you. I will describe the parameters of a particular job, and you are free to accept it, or just walk away. Your choice. I may, or may not, reach out to you in that years time, but if I do, rest assured the offer will be lucrative. The Preacher looked down and started to reach inside his sport coat for the money envelope, but stopped. His wrist was locked up in an iron grip that he didn’t even see coming. Daniel had shot his hand out and grabbed his wrist faster than he had ever seen anyone move. He felt his wrist locked up before his brain registered what his eyes saw, it seemed to The Preacher. No one can move that quick. No one. But it just happened.

Take it slow and steady. I don’t know you or what you’re reaching for, so humor me. Remove your hand and whatever you’re holding, nice and slow like. Lay it on the table so I can see. Daniel’s face was uncomfortably close, and his other hand’s rigidly extended fingers were near The Preacher’s throat.

The Preacher placed the manila envelope flat on the table between them. That’s the cash. Five thousand dollars, in circulated twenties. He slid the envelope across to Daniel. Go ahead, check it if you want. I’m good for my word. I have to be. That’s the nature of the business I’m in.

Daniel released his wrist and looked at the envelope for a moment. No need. You wouldn’t lie to me. That would be very unwise of you, but I don’t need to tell you that. After a momentary pause, he picked up the envelope, hefted it, almost as if considering the weight, then slid it into a cargo pocket. I’m staying in the area, at least for a while. I hear the fishing and hunting are good. The address and phone number you used to contact me belong to an old friend of the family. It’s the contact info I left the Pentagon when I was ‘retired’ on a medical. I’ll leave forwarding information if I move on. Without another word, Daniel rose from his seat and turned and headed for the door.

The Preacher felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but something about watching Daniel walk away made his jaw drop. He had observed and worked with dozens, maybe a hundred, special forces military types, and they all exuded a physical presence just from the way they walked. But this was different. Something more, but hard to describe. Almost as if Daniel rippled as he moved. Maybe the average person wouldn’t see it, but The Preacher considered himself a good judge of men’s capabilities.

A sudden flash: I’ve seen that walk before. Sure, that’s what it is. Nature documentaries. A large predatory cat, a lion or a tiger. Not a hunting prowl, just a slow swagger. I’m looking at a human lion, strutting across his turf. No need to growl ‘cause he knows he’s the baddest cat in the neighborhood. A lion. Of course. It’s an assumed name. ‘Daniel the Lion’ is some kind of deep cover military operator, so he’s given the name, Daniel Lyons, as his cover identity. He’s the human predator, the closest thing to a big cat I’ve ever seen walking on two legs.

The Preacher was left with a mental image that was somewhat unsettling: he was about to enter the lion’s den. This guy, Daniel Lyons, was dangerous in ways that put me in mind of a prowling lion. I hope that offering him a contract means I’m allowed to enter his den.

Making eye contact with the waitress, he pealed a couple bills from his wallet, and lay them near his plate. Standing up, he slowly reached for his raincoat. As he made his way from the booth, he noticed something peculiar: he had broken into a cold sweat.

Chapter 2 A bit of research

The Preacher sat back and slumped in his chair. He removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. It had been a long session staring at the computer screen and he needed a break. And what a session it was. He needed more information about his newest recruit, so he dove right in to the best available source.

The portable, free standing computer was loaded with custom software, a unique , ‘eyes-only’ government written database. Rated ‘Confidential,’ the lowest of the three US Govt security classes, the database was updated frequently and contained a basic spreadsheet and contact info for thousands of personnel available for security contracts. Many

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