Crooked River

Crooked River

Book - 2020 | First edition
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j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

Sanibel and Captiva Islands, off the southwestern coast of Florida, were known for some of the best shelling in the world. They reached out into the Gulf of Mexico like a net, catching all sorts of mollusks, dead and alive, and strewing them along the sand. A brief storm had passed through the night before they’d arrived, which turned out to be a piece of luck: apparently, that always brought in more shells.
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Balenciaga Triple S or Yeezys often sold for three or four hundred dollars, when you could find them in stock. And if you were really lucky, and scored a rare pair like the Air Jordan 11 Blackouts, you could sell them used on eBay for four figures, easy.
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She was young, in her early twenties, and as Pickett approached he saw she was strikingly beautiful, with violet eyes and dark hair cut in a short, stylish bob. She was dressed in pale organdy and was holding a book in one hand — a French book, apparently, titled À rebours.

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

When the tides are right — as they are now, just on the ebb — any floating debris tends to stick together and not disperse before reaching land. These islands are uniquely located in terms of ocean currents, which focus flotsam into a narrow lane and cause immense quantities of shells to wash up.”
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we get through this as best we can. Non omnia possumus omnes.” Pendergast glanced at him with faint amusement. “Are you a Latin scholar as well as a police chief?” Perelman shrugged. “Some things were best said by Virgil.”
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“Some laws are stupid. Some people are stupid. My job was to show people why peaceful coexistence was better than getting jammed up or thrown in jail.” “A Zen master with a badge.”
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“Do you have even the slightest idea of a reason why sixty, seventy human feet would wash up on a beach in the middle of a Florida resort island?”

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

imbroglio,
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“Cuba.” He let that sink in and went on. “They have more than one coastal prison, and some, like the Combinado del Este, are among the most brutal in the world, where political prisoners are jailed, tortured — and executed.”
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didn’t know whether I wanted to be a cantor, or a Talmudic scholar, or a wandering minstrel or what. The idea of being a Visigoth was also appealing — I would have been good at sacking Rome — but the timing was off.
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Perelman realized that she was not only very young — hardly twenty-three or twenty-four — but remarkably attractive. Perelman was a cinephile, and this woman’s thin, curved eyebrows and bobbed mahogany hair reminded him of Claudette Colbert. No — even stronger in the chief’s imagination was a resemblance to the legendarily beautiful Olive Thomas,
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“Don’t make any changes on my account. I understand that sleeping in hovels builds character.”

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

One of the skills he’d picked up while pounding the beat in Miami had been to quickly ID restaurants and bars — which ones were for tourists, which ones were for locals, which for cops, which for wiseguys, and so on.
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a man standing on the dock, tall and pale, the wind whipping his white suit. With a Panama hat on his head, he looked like an albino drug lord waiting for his shipment to come in.
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Mariel Boatlift, where over a hundred thousand Cubans, released from prisons and mental hospitals, crowded on boats and headed northward, flooding the United States. It was so called because they hailed from Mariel Harbor.”
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At the mouth of Mariel Harbor, on the gulf side of the bay, is the infamous prison known as El Duende. El Duende is a grim institution, long infamous for the incarceration and torture of political prisoners. Many of the inmates from El Duende joined the boatlift, which almost emptied the prison.”

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

We have a Sentinel-class fast-response cutter of the right specifications hailing from the Port Charlotte Station. It has a sophisticated S / SCIF, SEI sensors, increased data-exchange bandwidth, AIS data sharing, and other enhanced capabilities. The flight deck accommodates a DoD HH-60 helicopter, and it is fully integrated with the National Distress and Response System Modernization Program …”
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An odd duck, for sure — but a damned clever one.
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“Ocean currents appear to flow in big, logical movements. The tide comes in and goes out. The Loop Current goes this way and that in a predictable fashion. It’s all there in the charts. The problem is that, when you actually drop small GPS floaters into the ocean, you find you can’t really predict where each individual floater will go. You can start them all together and they spread out enormously. Or you drop them far apart and they all end up on the same beach.

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

We start by turning the surface of the sea into millions of vectors and perform a fractal matrix analysis showing how each vector evolves over time — given various initial conditions of air and water temperature, wind, tides, waves, currents, solar gain, and other factors. It essentially draws a multidimensional Poincaré map of the ocean’s surface.
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We love garbage that comes in from the sea. Every piece tells the tale of its travels.”
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“Sounds like a reasonable assumption to me.” “The problem is that it is an assumption. Having made the assumption, they’re now trying to massage the data to prove it.”
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China’s footwear revenue is nearly seventy billion dollars a year. Why, Dongguan alone has fifteen hundred factories — many of them no bigger than a restaurant.”

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

She was young, extraordinarily beautiful, and wore a dress that, although prim and conservative, could not hide the contours of her body. He stood up, his instincts as a lawyer immediately reasserting themselves. Down, boy.
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“Your secretary mentioned to me that no matter how many times they repainted the walls, blood kept oozing out. And that the few people who stayed overnight reported tapping noises and once or twice the clanking of chains, echoing faintly in the small hours.”
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There’s Jinjiang, in Fujian Province. It’s known as the ‘shoe capital of China’ and has facilities that are technologically advanced. Then there’s Wenzhou. They have the greatest number of manufacturers but are geared toward the domestic trade. Also Dongguan, in Guangdong Province. Their factories tend to be smaller, more specialized, niche producers.”

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

“It’s a fast Komar-class missile boat,” said the XO, peering into the scope. “How fast?” “Top speed rated at forty-four knots, but this one’s moving at thirty.” “Armaments?” “Two twenty-five-millimeter guns, two Styx anti-ship missiles.”
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On March eighth, 2014, Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur, headed for Beijing. Over the Gulf of Thailand it made a sudden turn and headed southwest, eventually flying far out over the Indian Ocean. About seven and a half hours after it took off, a satellite signal, the last contact with the plane, indicated it was somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean — and then whammo ! It disappeared.”
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“Investigators calculated how far it could have flown, given the fuel it carried and the speed and altitude, and estimated it ran out of fuel and went down somewhere along this arc.”

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

“They made a model of the flaperon, put it into a tank, and ran tests on it. They took into account the sail effect — how much wind might affect the floating object. They calculated wave action. They allowed for surface currents, tidal currents, and deeper ocean currents. And finally, they took into account the flaperon’s permeability — how much it became waterlogged and degraded over the months it spent floating at sea. All that went into the model. As more debris washed up on various islands and the African mainland, they added that to the model, as well.”
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Feynman sum-over-histories diagrams
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It’s a mathematical and geometric way of diagramming the probability of particle interactions. Like in a particle collider? I just adapted the process to the ocean, treating it mathematically like a sea of interacting particles and forces. The math is terrifying and you need a supercomputer.

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

To unpathed waters, undreamed shores, ’” Perelman murmured.
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“As I said, it’s impossible.” “It can’t be impossible,” Gladstone said, feeling like tearing her hair out. “Don’t yell at me !” “I’m not yelling. I’m emphasizing.” “Well, don’t emphasize at me ! You know how sensitive I am.”
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Burnt coffee — but burnt hardly did it justice: coffee that had been boiled and boiled far past any trace of appeal or dignity.
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“And how did you end up in this picturesque locale?” Pendergast waved a hand at the engineless RVs, the piles of outboard motors, the sand and swamp grass.
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“If you are accusing me of dissembling, I take exception.” “Well, maybe I ‘take exception’ to your interrupting my vacation. Oh, and blocking my sun, too.”
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“You have a suspicious and cynical nature. Ordinarily, I’d consider that an asset. But at the moment, I wonder if you’re simply using it as a smoke screen for malingering.”

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

“You have a peculiar — unorthodox — way of looking at things. A way that complements my own.” “Why don’t you just say it? ‘I need your help. ’”
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“Feel free to spend the evening here, entertaining yourself in whatever meretricious manner you’ve grown accustomed to. But I’ll expect you on Captiva Island tomorrow by lunchtime. Let’s say one o’clock.”
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“What’s the story?” She gave him another arch smile. “That’s my investigation. Once I’ve pieced it together, we’ll light a fire in the parlor and I’ll regale you with the details.”
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The two of them had had about as much in common as King Kong and Fay Wray, but in their brief time together she had educated him about some things. Among those that had nothing to do with the bedroom, she’d taught him the difference between real taste and mere gaucherie.

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

“It’s a cigarette boat. And yes, it goes very fast.” “Cigarette?” “They were originally used during Prohibition by rumrunners trying to avoid the Coast Guard. At some point they acquired the name because they were long with a narrow beam, like a cigarette, to go as fast as possible.”
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“This is exemplary work. We now need just establish the narrow end of the chopstick.” Quarles knew this was coming. He had to identify the end buyer — without raising suspicion.
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“He’s an asshole, then?” “Such a disagreeable expression,” said Pendergast. “I should think that you, with your wide-ranging intellect, might find another word.” “How about suckwad? Dripdick? Shitbag?” “You’re a veritable cornucopia of colorful expressions.”
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“You say I’m making trouble for myself. Why?” “Because you are like pollo scratching for corn in front of the fox’s den

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

That container is known in the lingo of the shipping business as a ‘reefer.’ A reefer, contrary to the usage I am sure you’re accustomed to, is a refrigerated container carrying either frozen or chilled cargo. But as you can see, it no longer appears to be connected to power, so whatever is or was in it has spoiled — or disappeared.” “Like a bunch of frozen feet?”
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The only thing worse than a guy puking off the starboard rail was another one puking off the port rail.
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You’re the logical one for this minor divagation.”
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He’d been manipulated. In retrospect, he should have remembered what his grandfather Joe had once told him: Keep your mouth shut and let the paleface do all the talking — and then say no. In this case “paleface” was a description so accurate it could hardly be considered insulting.

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

He had never met anyone like her: so poised, reserved, cynical, erudite, quick-witted — and yet, he sensed, broken at some fundamental level. But, broken or not, she was anything but fragile: he sensed a cold-bloodedness in her, a capacity for violence. She reminded him of a big cat, a panther or tiger, fangs smiling at you while the eyes never left your throat.
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“There are spirits,” his grandmother told him. “Like Owl-Maker, who guards the Milky Way. And Keya, the turtle spirit. They are not of this world. But Wachiwi — Dancing Girl — she is mortal, as we are. Yet she is also different. She has lived hundreds of years and is very old and wise. No longer dancing, just watching and seeing.”
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He thought of Tungmanito, the night woodpecker, who visited the houses of the dying, trying to get inside and steal their spirits before they could complete their journey to the lush prairies of the afterworld.

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

“A wise man once said, ‘Engage the enemy on your terms, not on his. ’” “What’s that supposed to mean?” “They wanted to provoke me at sea, where they have almost unlimited power — and I have next to none.” “So you’re going to, ah, wait to engage them on land?” “That same wise man said, ‘Let your plans be dark and as impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt. ’”
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My sister, she kept talking about going north, to the USA. It wasn’t just her — everybody was talking about it. How rich everyone is up there, how an honest person who works hard can have a good life, that people have all the food they need and a house and maybe even a car, how every child can go to school. I knew it was a lot of exaggeration. But the desire to leave is like a fire in this town.”
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“Why would more people go if the others disappeared?” There was a long silence. “Because people have hope. Here, we have no hope.”

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

“The way the sun sets over the sea. At first, it seems to drop so languorously, one can barely observe its transit. But then — as it nears the horizon — it accelerates, as if pulled by some invisible elemental force.”
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“Noble Nexus was a Dutch Warmblood out of a famous lineage, bred and trained at Rocking Horse Farms in Georgetown, Kentucky. The rider purchased Noble Nexus for one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. The former owners were concerned about selling the horse to the rider, because they had watched him ride and weren’t sure he was experienced enough to handle such a high-spirited animal. But good money is good money, and so they sold him the horse. “The rider took the horse home to his little ranch in Palmdale, Florida, and began riding him in dressage competitions. The man, in truth, was not a good rider, but he compensated by having a highly trained horse with a strong desire to please.

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

… he was one of those men who are supremely sure of themselves, who rise in life from the ability to project absolute self-assurance to all those around them. A man who is never wrong, who has no self-reflection, a man to whom any mistake or problem must be someone else’s fault. In short, he was a man who would go to any lengths to preserve his self-image.
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The man was a coyote, and they had a reputation for brutality equal to drug smugglers and gang members.
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The only reasonable way to travel, he thought, was by foot or car — or horse. Everything else was bullshit. Back on the rez, there had been a lot of horses wandering around, free for the borrowing. Most were a bit wild, unshod and half-crazy, leftovers from the days when horses were sacred to the Lakota. Now people kept them for no good reason beyond tradition and nostalgia.

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

“Usually, he picks them up outside of La Gloria, in Chiapas State. It’s where I am now, a little town about twenty miles from the Guatemalan border. He has vans and drivers, and he brings them north in a sort of caravan. There are certain Rurales and police he pays off to let him through the checkpoints. They go up through Oaxaca, bypass Mexico City, on through Durango, Hermosillo, and into Sonora — heading for the San Pedro River, which flows from Mexico into Arizona, just south of Palominas. That’s where they bring them across. The Sonoran drug cartel controls that portion of the Mexican border, and charges a toll to the coyotes to bring people through — a thousand dollars a head. So our man has to pay off the cartel.”
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“The question failure asks is: what don’t we know that we don’t know?”
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“Did what same thing?” “Christ on a donkey.” Lam sighed with impatience

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

Soon, in an orgy of blood-red clouds, the sun set and a purple twilight rose.
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Pendergast away, leaving her to her own devices, consumed with memories of what had been, and what might have been. Can you love me the way I need you to? Then you’ve answered your own question.
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“Mr. Smithback, if you have information, give it to me without the circumlocutions.”
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Tate’s Hell State Forest — up the Crooked River.
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And if I call the FBI, you know what’s going to happen? They do everything by the book, including launching a Critical Incidence Response Group assault. Six hours to authorize and plan it, six hours to equip and brief the guys, and then they go in big.
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“To paraphrase Sun Tzu: ‘Know yourself and you shall win every battle. ’”
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The others were kitted out in body armor, helmets, night-vision gear, and assault weaponry: all she had was a string of pearls.

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

Tate’s Hell State Forest. It was a straight shot to the coastal town of Carrabelle, an hour and fifteen minutes away. From there, he’d have to turn north on Highway 67, skirting the edge of Tate’s Hell, and find a way in.
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“We’re a warrior people,” he’d once told Coldmoon, explaining that his grandfather Rain-in-the-Face had put the fatal arrow into George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Greasy Grass. It had seemed at the time like a crazy contradiction, his grandfather’s patriotism and love of country combined with pride in killing Custer, but there it was. Many houses on the rez had a wall of photographs devoted to family members serving in the military.
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“Your spirit goes outside your body, and you become a ghost that nobody can see.”
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“Don’t lose your nerve.” “I’m worried about losing my life. Our lives.

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

They were more the eyes of a stone killer than of a young woman — eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.
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“It is all in service of a vital cause.” “Stalin said much the same thing.”
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“Perhaps if you helped us understand the vital work you are doing here, we might be willing to cooperate without coercion.”
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Mosquitoes rose up around him, whining in his ears. The air was fetid with the smell of rotting wood and swamp gas. He had seen the occasional alligator as he’d driven in, and he was all too aware there were also snakes and God only knew what else in back bayous like these. He hadn’t been especially afraid of poisonous snakes while growing up. With a little care, you could avoid rattlers. But that was before he’d been bitten by a water moccasin on his first assignment with Pendergast. Christ,

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

“The idea behind MK-Ultra,” the general continued, “was to seek ways to manipulate an individual’s mental state — mind control, if you will — using drugs and behavior modification techniques. It was primarily meant as a battlefield weapon, employed to confuse or disable an enemy, or as a tool for interrogation. It was launched in 1953 and officially shut down in 1973, after some lily-livered government bureaucrats got cold feet.”
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Most of MK-Ultra involved the testing of various psychoactive drugs. We were seeking compounds that would cause mental confusion, lower a person’s efficiency, make them sick or drunk, induce amnesia, paralysis, and so forth. In short, to incapacitate them. One branch of the division also focused on potentially positive drugs, ones that would enhance thinking, clarity, or physical strength, or reduce the need for sleep without negative side effects.”

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

“Mr. Pendergast, are you familiar with BIID?” “No.” “I’m not surprised, since it has yet to receive diagnostic criteria in psychiatric circles. It’s an extremely rare and perplexing psychological condition — so strange as to be scarcely believable. I’ll never forget the first time I saw a test subject in the grips of it. At first we didn’t know what was happening to him. He claimed that his left leg, from the knee down, was foreign. An alien thing, is what he called it. He loudly exclaimed to all within hearing that it was evil and had to be removed. This despite the fact that the limb was normal and apparently healthy.
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His only food had been bags of plantain chips, his only drink cans of tamarind soda from a pallet stored in one corner.
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signs of incipient seasickness

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

When we first established this operation, we were careful to identify soldiers disaffected with the transformation of the U.S. Army — disgusted with the loosening of discipline, the admittance of homosexuals, the placing of women in combat roles, and the indiscriminate mixing of races.”
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“We selected patriotic, tough, God-fearing boys who obey orders without question, not the sniveling, politically correct enlisted men you see in today’s —” He caught himself, took a deep breath, exhaled. “I’m getting off subject. Our soldiers are well aware of what we’re doing — and support it one hundred percent.” “It seems you and your men were born seventy-five years too late, and in the wrong country,” said Pendergast.

j
jimg2000
Mar 31, 2020

“No need for clichés. As Ayn Rand said, ‘Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision.’ As an FBI agent you are a mere cog in the status quo, a participant in the feckless bureaucracy known as the United States government, designed to impede such men as Rand spoke of.”
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“We’re not turning around.” “Then we pray that we don’t run into it.” “I don’t pray,” she said. “Well,” he replied, annoyed, “I sure as hell do, and I hope you won’t mind if I indulge.”
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“Corporal, go fetch a parang, freshly sharpened, and bring it to the lab. Smartly.”
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“They learned to trust you, and you them. But when the U.S. pulled out, ISIS moved in and killed all the operatives and informants — along with their families. It’s an old story.”


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