I was drinking Angolan coffee from a paper cup on a rooftop one hundred and ninety two metres from the taxi rank in front of Luanda’s most popular night club, Palos, on Fredric Engels Street. All streets in this place were named after icons of failed communist regimes or South American dictators. I wondered if Jane Fonda had been a town planner.
At 03:27, Paul Doumer came out of the front of the club, swaying back and forth with a hooker under each arm. There was more than enough ambient street light to be able to use the Redfield scope. The rifle, with this setup, would comfortably make 1,200 metre shots to one quarter of a Minute of Angle or MOA. A shot at this distance was almost embarrassingly easy.
I settled the rifle into my shoulder, took up the sight picture and dialed down the magnification to six power on the scope to give me the widest field of vision. The internal range finder in the scope confirmed my calculations and the cam in the bullet drop compensator calculated the horizontal line in my scope to the correct position. No ‘hold over’ was required. It was a direct lay.
There was no wind that night so the windage calculations were at my original rifle zero. The closer to a target, the easier the shot. But the extraction after the shot was exponentially more difficult.
I shot Paul Doumer between the eyes at 03:34 as the flame of his cigarette lighter illuminated his face perfectly.
I knew the maths. The ten gram Nosler hollow point bullet took less than a tenth of a second to hit him at a speed of 2,820 feet per second or 1,922 mph. Hollow point bullets were against the Geneva Convention, but so was Paul Doumer, I reasoned.
I also knew the physics. The bullet would have created 3,510 joules of energy focused on a space seven millimetres wide between his eyes. Hydrostatic shock would, at that range, atomize Paul’s brain and blow most of it out of the exit wound at the back of his head.
Years of practice on the ranges at Ft. Benning, Ft. Bragg, and then Canjuers and Ali Sabieh, had taught me the trade. I knew by heart and rote repetition, all of the variables, all of the options and all of the effects. I knew that hollow point bullets refracted at ranges above six-hundred metres. I knew that hydrostatic shock on hyper velocity bullets created such a pressure wave in the vascular systems of mammals that a well placed hit would cause an aneurysm and instant death on anything smaller than a polar bear.
The bullet would have had enough energy to travel a fair distance and at an unpredictable trajectory after leaving the back of Paul’s head. It would be impossible to find, and in a town like Luanda spent bullets were not uncommon to find in alleys and on rooftops. I was pretty sure ‘CSI Luanda’ would not be a factor.
The sound suppressor on the end of the rifle removed the muzzle blast effect, but the bullet would create a sonic ‘crack’ as it broke the sound barrier. This would be bi-directional but due to the loud music booming from the club, it would be indistinguishable down range.
Paul’s carcass dropped away backwards, and due to the drugs and alcohol in the shitheads around him no particular reaction occurred immediately. They just seemed to mill around and hardly noticed Paul on the ground.
The sound suppressor unscrewed from the barrel, and I stripped the barrel and bolt assembly from the stock and stuffed it all in a black sports bag.
I exited the vacant building from a side door and dropped the bag in a rubbish skip in the alley behind the hotel restaurant, and I returned to the bar of the Royal Hotel and ordered a beer. As I sipped the warm beer, I wondered how long it took those two hookers with Paul to realize that their client was dead. I further pondered how quickly his wallet and watch would go.
The nightclub manager, I expected, would panic at the thought of an important Westerner getting his head emptied in front of his club and he would dispose of the body at sea the next day from one of the fishing boats in the harbour less than a mile away. He would not want to be answering questions to Luanda’s Internal Security Police. Once these factors are ‘Africanized’, normal expectations about criminal investigations become much more favourable to the perpetrator.
Other people, however, would look into Paul’s death if only to understand the market forces that may be in play.
And that’s why I got paid. I was a market force.
Against training and protocols, I left Luanda the same way I came in and returned to Johannesburg. I flew to Dubai the next afternoon. It was Air France. I decided to treat myself to Gallic comforts after a job well done. Once in Dubai, I booked an overnight flight to Singapore to my meeting at Black Horse Asia HQ.
A long mid afternoon cab ride to the River View hotel at Robertson’s Quay allowed me to relax. I had been there several times before. The over-staffed reception desk was efficient and quick. I booked a Club room with a view of the river on an upper floor and some liquid refreshment. I paid off the porter, and was impressed that the bottle of rum and the six-packs of Coke and Tiger Beer had been delivered before I got to my room.
I poured a triple measure of rum and added some coke. The view from the window was comforting and familiar. The room had that familiar mustiness of forced air-cooling so common throughout South East Asia. I drank half of the glass of rum and headed for the shower. An hour later, I went out. Although I was less susceptible to jet lag than I used to be, I knew I needed to stay awake until 22:00 local time.
China Town was a comfortable fifteen minute walk away. The first part was along the river. I had an early dinner in a small street cafe there. The Tiger Beer always tastes better than it does anywhere else.
The dinner entertainment was people watching. Western couples made up most of the show, with occasional groups of gap year students with huge rucksacks. They were distinguishable to nationality mostly by the brand of their rucksacks. MacPacs for the Aussies and Kiwis, Karimorr for Brits and Irish.
China Town was beginning to get crowded and I moved on. I wanted to stay out a little longer in order to reset by body clock and I chose to do that at the Penny Black, a pub on the Boat Quay.
The wakeup call dragged me out of a deep sleep. I skipped breakfast and managed five miles on the treadmill in the gym and twenty minutes on the rowing machine. The steam room was not open so I went for a swim.
I took a taxi to Black Horse Group and Steve met me the receptionist’s desk. We shook hands and he seemed genuinely glad to see me. It must have been dress down day at Black Horse Group. Both Steve and Henson were wearing polo shirts and jeans. He led me to a small but well appointed conference room.
“How long are you town?” he said.
“A few days, maybe the week. I’m at the River View.” I said.
“A bit of R & R on the Orchard Road, is it?” Henson turned to us from the window and smiled at that.
“No, just some down time. I’m fucked and need some recovery time. I might shift over to Bali or Penang and get some winter sun,” I said.
“Beth and the kids live in Perth now, not far from the house you have there in Scarborough. She sends her regards. They would love to see you again, and to thank you,” he said, looking me in the eyes.
"How’d you figure it out?” I said after a long moment.
He opened a folder which had two newspaper clippings in it. I read them. The first one said:
‘A Sydney woman attacked after a traffic incident with a local biker gang.’ It related to Steve’s wife, Beth and how she had been beaten and sexually assaulted by them.
The second article related to a murder/suicide involving three members of a biker gang. The article explained that one member allegedly shot two other gang members between the eyes and then shot himself.
“Beth said you stopped by the hospital the same day she was admitted. Thirty three hours later the three fucks who did it all have 45 caliber lobotomies. One of them was shot in the side of his head and two of them between the eyes. Your trademark.”
I shrugged. “I was in Melbourne on legitimate business and heard about the attack. So I went up to Sydney and stopped by the hospital. I knew she would be worried and scared. I thought I could put her at ease. That’s it. You would have done the same for my Tina. Beth sent flowers to the funeral, which meant a lot to me. You were in Africa somewhere. I knew you’d go nuts and shoot up half the fuckin’ town. That would have fucked her up even more. Fuck off and leave it alone...Legio Patria Nostra.”
“I know. I appreciate it. So does Beth. I’m going down to the Perth office at the end of the week. We would love to have you come down. She knows what you did. She thinks you’re fuckin’ superman.”
“Listen, Fuck-face. Don’t get all sentimental and broke-dick on me or I’ll send you the bill for the ammo. It was a public service. Thank Beth for the invite and tell her I would be delighted but not this time. How the fuck did you pull her in the first place? I always thought she was a hostage.”
He smiled and nodded his head at that.
I stood up and shook hands with both of them. “See you around.”
“One thing, Beth’s name. It was never mentioned in any of the initial news reports, how’d you find out it was Beth involved?” he said.
I stopped and turned around. I looked him in the eyes and said, “Dave gave me a call. Aussie Thomas, his Ops Chief in Tunisia is from Sydney and his sister works at the hospital. She made sure she was safe and phoned Dave. As soon as I found out, I flew up there and sorted it. You got friends in low places, Steve.”
Steve smiled and looked down. “Ok, tell Dave I’m in. I like his ideas and we need to sort out these Russian fucks. I’ll meet him in London after the holidays, and we’ll put things right.”