The blonde caught in the sights of the Leupold Vari-X III 1.5-5 x 20mm Matte Duplex Illuminated Reticle scope didn't seem to fear for her life. At the moment, in fact, she was doing her hair. Now she had out a black compact and was checking her lipstick, a light, pearly pink. Jersey adjusted the Leupold scope as the reporter pursed her lips for her own reflection and practiced an alluring pout. Next to her, her cameraman let his heavy video equipment fall from his shoulder to the ground and rolled his eyes. Apparently, he recognized this drill and knew it would be a while.
Ten feet away from the blonde, another reporter, this one male--WNAC-TV, home of the Fox Futurecast, because heaven forbid anyone call it a forecast anymore--was meticulously picking pieces of lint off of his mud-brown suit. His cameraman sat in the grass, sipping Dunkin' Donuts coffee and blinking sleepily. On the other side of the stone pillar that dominated the sprawling World War Memorial Park, a dozen other reporters were scattered about, double-checking their copy, double-checking their appearance, yawning tiredly, then double-checking the street.
Eight-oh-one a.m., Monday morning. At least twenty-nine minutes until the blue van from Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) was due to arrive at the Licht Judicial Complex in downtown Providence and everyone was bored. Hell, Jersey was bored. He'd been camped out on the roof of the sprawling brick courthouse since midnight last night. And damn, it got cold at night this early in May. Three Army blankets, a black coverall, and black leather Bob Allen shooting gloves and he still shivered until the sun came up. That was a little before six, meaning he'd had two and a half more hours to kill and not even the chance to stand up and stretch without giving his position away.
Jersey had spent the night--and now the morning--hunkered behind a two-foot-high decorative-brick trim piece that lined this section of the courthouse's roof. The faux railing afforded him just enough cover to remain invisible to people in the courtyard below, and more importantly, to the reporters camped in the grassy memorial park across the street. The railing also offered the perfect rifle stand, for when the moment came.
Sometime between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m., the blue ACI van would pull up. The eight-foot-high wrought-iron gate that surrounded the inner courtyard of the judicial complex would open up. The van would pull in. The gate would swing shut. The van doors would open. And then . . .
Jersey's finger twitched on the trigger of the heavy barrel AR15. He caught himself, then eased his grip on the assault rifle, slightly surprised by his antsiness. It wasn't like him to rush. Calm and controlled, he told himself. Easy does it. Nothing here he hadn't done before. Nothing here he couldn't handle.
Jersey had been hunting since the time he could walk, the scent of gunpowder as reassuring to him as talcum. Following in his father's footsteps, he'd joined the Army at the age of eighteen, then spent eight years honing his abilities with an M16. Not to brag, but Jersey could take out targets at five hundred yards most guys couldn't hit at one hundred. He was also a member of the Quarter Inch Club--at two hundred yards, he could cluster three shots within a quarter-inch triangulation of one another. His father had been an American sniper in 'Nam, so Jersey figured that shooting was in his genes.
Five years ago, seeking a better lifestyle than the Army could afford him, he'd opened shop. He used a double-blind policy. The clients never knew his name, he never knew theirs. A first middleman contacted a second middleman who contacted Jersey. Money was wired to appropriate accounts. Dossiers bearing pertinent information were sent to temporary P.O. boxes opened at various MAIL BOXES ETC. stores under various aliases. Jersey had a rule about not hitting women or children. Some days he thought that made him a good person. Other days he thought that made him worse, because he used that policy to try to prove to himself that he did have a conscience when the bottom line was, well, you know--he killed people for money.
Excerpted from The Survivors Club by Lisa Gardner Copyright 2002 by Lisa Gardner. Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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