Cody's Army: Hellfire in Haiti


By Jim Case

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Cody, Hawkeye and Caine are up against a thousand men as they rescue Rufe from an ex-Green Beret training terrorists in the Haitian highlands. And Cody knows they had better rescue Rufe soon, before he’s tortured to death by a demented man who lives to kill.



"Come on!" Cody shouted, cutting up across the field, angling to get parallel to the backside of the ditch the Macoutes were using for cover.

The sound of the M-60 starting up again was music to their ears. It meant Caine might be able to turn back the assault—and turn it right into their gunsights.

They could see the tower up the mountain above them, see the burning wreck of the flatbed that had exploded, and beyond, the Macoutes quick-dancing on the road in a hellstorm of lead and dust. They couldn't see the white man shoulder an RPG and let fly in Caine's direction.

They saw the result, though. It stopped them dead in their tracks…

Also by Jim Case







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First eBook Edition: September 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-56628-5



Rufe Murphy slept with his hand on his gun. The weapon, a Colt Commander .45 caliber, was cocked and unlocked, its muzzle pointed away from the thigh that concealed it. Murphy sat on a bare mattress with his long legs outstretched, his back propped against a comer of the tiny cubicle of a room. It was not the best time or the best place for a snooze, but Murphy knew his own limits of strength and endurance. He kept track of them the way a distance runner logs lap times. Awake for seventy-two hours straight, he was at the critical point. If he went on without sleep, his reaction speed would progressively deteriorate, as would his ability to think clearly. Closing his eyes was a risk, but the risk had to be taken.

It was a no-dream, hair-trigger sleep. The mountainous black man had programmed himself. At the sound of a footstep on the dirt floor, the automatic pistol would be up in a blur, his eyes open wide, seeking targets over the weapon's combat sights.

When the attack came, there was no footstep.

The blanket that served as the cubicle's door slipped aside half an inch. At chest height, unseen hands poked a long narrow tube into the room. Its end was flared into a fan-shaped nozzle. It advanced from the doorway a full six feet, then stopped with its opening directly under Murphy's nose.

The rasping odor of ammonia and formaldehyde jarred him awake. Too late. Before he could turn aside, a gust of air blasted him full in the face, driving a teaspoon of fine powder up his nose and down his throat. Murphy jerked as if punched, banging the back of his head against the unplastered sheetrock wall. The taste, the stink of death strangled him as he fought for breath. Gagging, choking, the inside of his head on fire, he lurched to his feet. His eyes streamed; for an instant he could see nothing. The Colt Commander hung useless in his grip.

Then he fisted the tears away and lunged for the blanket, ripping it to the floor. The dimly lit hallway beyond was empty. Reggae music and laughter drifted down the corridor from the bar. He leaped across the hallway, bursting through the bead curtain of the nearest cubicle, weapon-first. In the soft lamplight, on a bare mattress, two interlocked black bodies stopped their sweaty writhing. The naked man rolled off the woman, eyes wide with fright. He wasn't looking at the gun's yawning muzzle; he was staring in horror at Murphy's face. "Allez! Allez!" he cried, waving his arms. When Murphy made no move to leave, the naked man dove for his clothes, grabbing a T-shirt. He did not pull it on; he covered his nose and mouth with it.

The prostitute likewise shielded her face with a hand towel.

"Blasted idiots!" Murphy snarled at them. He pivoted and charged back out into the corridor. He checked every cubicle on his way to the bar; all were empty. The bar, however, was full. The gleeful mob of black men and women stopped dancing, stopped drinking, stopped laughing when he entered. Smiles turned to expressions of terror.

"Where is Hyacinthe?!" Murphy demanded.

There was no reply.

He stepped forward, the Colt out front and rock steady.

"Coup de poudre! Coup de poudre!" someone shouted.

The crowd backed away, handkerchiefs, hands over noses and mouths. Those nearest the doorway to the street quickly slipped out.

"Where is the mambo bitch?!" Murphy bellowed, aiming the pistol at the barman's bald brown head. The barman ignored the gun and, apron clutched to his face, turned and fled.

Murphy lowered his weapon as the bar emptied. The gun was no threat to the fleeing Haitians; there were worse things than being dead. In the spotted, cracked mirror over the bar he caught a glimpse of his own reflection. Under his nose was a smear of ochre.

Coup de poudre.

Magic powder.

He cleared his scorched throat and spat bright blood in the dirt. At the tips of his fingers there was a distinct tingling sensation. He rubbed his hand on his fatigue pants, trying to shake the feeling of numbness. It persisted. And his toes started to feel the same way, as if they had been exposed to frost or extreme heat, nerve ends overloaded, deadened. He leaned against the bar, heart racing, chest heaving. There was a spreading heaviness in his lungs; it was becoming harder and harder for him to breathe.

"Damn!" he growled, slamming his massive fist down on the bartop, making the deserted glasses and rum bottles jump. If there had been any doubt in his mind, that doubt was now gone. Rufe Murphy knew he had been poisoned. He knew whose fault it was, too. His own. Drunk with the scent, the taste of Hyacinthe, the feel of her hot mahogany skin, he had let the little head rule the big head—and finally managed to get himself killed. He felt no self-pity—as a soldier this was a moment he had prepared himself for. His concern was for his comrades-in-arms—Cody, Hawkins, and Caine. He couldn't die yet. Not before he warned them. He fought back the growing weakness in his limbs and forced himself to walk. Crippled by the deadly chemicals at work inside him, Murphy staggered, half dragging himself back to his cubicle.

As soon as he got there, a wave of nausea dropped him to his knees and he vomited blood on the dirt. There were razor blades embedded in his throat. He had to leave a message. A message for Cody and the others. They had to know who they were up against. He had to do it quickly, before the poison took full effect. He tried to regain his feet and could not. The torpor in his arms and legs was too much for him. Tears of frustration rolled down his ebony cheeks. He had to leave a message that would be found by Cody and no one else. "Move, dammit!" he told himself. He clawed at the thin mattress, twisting up its edge, leaning his shoulder against it to pin it to the wall. He jabbed fingers already dead into the puddle of his blood on the floor and scrawled two words on the underside of the mattress. Eyes shut tight, he held the mattress back, gasping for air, letting the blood soak into the fabric. Then he let the mattress drop and crawled on top of it.

Murphy leaned against the wall, legs outstretched. His breathing was shallow, a thin whistle in his throat, his body drenched with sweat, arms and legs now cold, wooden. Even his lips felt numb. As he tried to prepare for the end that was fast closing in, Rufe Murphy began to panic. It was one thing to be ready to die in battle, to accept the quick, merciful end offered by a fragment of steel shrapnel or a jacketed slug; it was another altogether to die like this, of slow, creeping paralysis that would soon leave him completely helpless in the hands of his enemies. He wanted more than anything to deny them their fun, to go out clean. The choice made, Murphy tried to raise the cocked Commander to his chin. Four pounds of pressure on the trigger would snap the firing pin. And end it.

He could not raise his arm from his side.

His body began slipping down the wall. He could not stop it. He slumped flat on his back, staring up at the ceiling. In the dim light cast into the room from the hall, he saw everything so clearly: the rust-stained ribs of the corrugated tin roof, the spider webs, the bare electric bulb hanging by a frayed cord from a crossbeam. And he could hear, too. The night sounds, the drone of insects, the rhythmic thudding of music from another nearby bar, the growl of the passing auto traffic.

And footsteps.

Footsteps in the hallway outside his room. Voices whispering back and forth. He tried to shout, to tell the bastards to come and finish the job, but found he could not open his mouth, let alone speak. Rufe Murphy, a living spirit trapped in a body dead as a block of ice, screamed inside his skull, screamed outrage, and no one heard.

With the Haitian dawn came Caribbean heat. It blast-furnaced through the hotel room's sliding glass balcony doors. Three big, broad-shouldered men sat in grim silence on armchairs and couch, staring at their boot tops. It had been a long sleepless night for John Cody, Hawkeye Hawkins, and Richard Caine. The way things looked, it was going to be an even longer day.

Cody scowled at the wall clock. A quarter to six. Decision time. He rose without a word and walked out onto the balcony. He leaned against the railing and stared down on Port-au-Prince. A sprawling muddle of a city squatting on a sun-baked tropical plain. A city where cardboard-walled shantytowns and gleaming government high rises stood side by side, injustice and corruption shamelessly displayed. Cody looked beyond the jumble of tin and tile rooftops. Brown haze from wood fires and diesel exhaust tinged a placid blue bay and steep, distant mountains with sulphurous yellow. Haiti was a hellhole, pure and simple. But in a rapidly shrinking world where freedom and democracy stood under constant siege there could be no write-offs, no expendable pieces of turf, no matter how overpopulated, polluted, diseased. The battle was toe-to-toe for every inch of contested ground. Haiti, the hellhole, was worth John Cody's blood, his life if necessary. He and his four-man antiterrorist army had come to the Caribbean island to do what they did best—hard strike. To conduct a surgical military operation that would tip the teetering scales toward freedom. But even the best-laid plans of seasoned professionals do not always work out.

From the sliding door, Caine spoke to Cody's back. "Bloody hell, man, we've got to do something! We can't wait around here just sitting on our hands."

Cody turned from the balcony railing. Hawkeye had joined Caine in the doorway.

"What's it gonna be, Sarge?" the Texan asked, a hard edge cutting through his slow, easy drawl.

Cody understood their impatience. He, too, had been bristling with it for hours. Rufe Murphy, the fourth member of his army, was in trouble. Bad trouble. And Cody, hamstrung by the critical importance of the operation, could not order an immediate rescue assault. Not while there was still the slightest chance Murphy would reestablish contact, that the mission might succeed as planned. It was clear by now that the mission had been blown. What they had on their hands was a messy, conceivably impossible salvage job.

"Rufe is eight hours late for check-in," Cody said. "We all know he would've made the call by now if he was OK. That leaves just two possibilities, both of which stink. He could have already bought the ranch. Or he's being held prisoner. Either way, it's certain he's been uncovered and the game plan for this mission is out the window."

"Sod the bleeding mission! Our chap may not be dead. And even if he is, I say four of us came here and four of us are going to leave."

"The teabag is right, Sarge. We're not going home without Rufe," Hawkeye told him.

It was the response Cody had expected. The one he wanted to hear. He couldn't order them to go in with him to get Murphy out. Not the way things stood. Their transportation and main armament—a military helicopter—was useless in Port-au-Prince. They no longer had current intelligence. They only had a vague idea of the nature and strength of the opposition. In other words, it was a suicide operation. Which called for volunteers. "Then we're all agreed," he said. "I suggest we gear up and get the hell out of here."

"Right-o!" the Englishman said, giving the thumbs-up sign.

Beside him, Hawkins looked very much relieved.

Cody brushed past them, returning to the hotel room. On the king-size beds, a treasure trove of state-of-the-art weaponry had already been laid out. Grenades. Commando knives. Handguns. Assault rifles. Submachine guns. And lots of ammunition.

"Everybody wears Kevlar and steel," Cody said as he pulled on a Threat Level IIA bulletproof vest.

Hawkeye looked dubious. "We'll melt in this damned humidity under those contraptions," he protested. "Shoot, Sarge, they'll just slow us down."

"That's an order, Hawkins," Cody told him. "You know what that shantytown is like. A maze of sheet metal and cardboard. No real streets, just narrow, winding paths between shacks. We got no maps, no guide, no cover. We don't know who to trust. Or if we're expected. Things could heat up without warning. We're going to need every ounce of protection we can get."

Hawkins looked at Caine, who was already putting on his vest.

"I'm not doing this for myself," Caine assured him, tightening the Velcro straps. He slipped a steel trauma plate into the flap that protected his groin area. "I'm doing it for future generations of Caines."

Hawkins snorted as he picked up his own vest. "Who do you think you're foolin', teabag? You don't need a plate that big."

Cody grinned. The war of words had resumed. It was good to hear the two of them going at it again, going at it the way only old friends can. Things were back in the groove. He shrugged into his black ballistic nylon shoulder holster, then slid the Parkerized Colt Commander .45 from its sheath under his left armpit. He depressed the magazine-release button. The combat clip dropped smooth as butter into his palm. With a thumbnail he counted seven big hollowpoints and slapped the magazine back in place. After reholstering the weapon, he checked the spare Colt clips tucked into pouches on the shoulder harness. All were fully loaded.

"We'll take the Minis," he said, reaching over the array of CAR-15s and FN-Paras on the bed for the compact version of the Israeli UZI. With its metal stock folded, it was three-quarters the length of the standard UZI, much better suited to concealment under clothing. Though almost a kilo less in weight, it still retained a 9mm hardpunch and thirty-two-round capacity. The lighter weight and shorter length made for faster target acquisition in the tight confines of urban combat. Cody and the others dispensed with the need to wear a second holster by using detachable neck lanyards that clipped to the back of the Mini's receiver and kept the little SMG at roughly belt level.

Loaded down with weapons, ammo, and fragmentation, flash and smoke grenades, the trio pulled on concealing outer garments. Caine buttoned up a battered London Fog trenchcoat, Hawkins donned a Texas Ranger baseball team warm-up jacket, and Cody put on a loose-fitting nylon windbreaker.

"We don't look much like tourists," Hawkeye said, sizing up his partners.

"A tad overdressed to be part of the beach crowd," Caine agreed, whipping out a handkerchief and mopping the sweat from his upper lip.

"That can't be helped," Cody told them. "Think of how much attention we'd attract without the coats."

"We'd never get a taxi, that's for damn sure," Hawkeye said, smirking.

Out on the street in front of the hotel, they had no trouble connecting with a cab. It was a tight fit in the back seat. By the time they got the door shut and windows rolled down, all of them were sweating.

Cody spoke to the back of the driver's head. "We want to go to the Bellefleur district, the Simbi Bar." The cabby looked at him in the rearview, first shocked, then amused. Bellefleur was not the kind of place white tourists visited. At least not those in their right minds. It was evidently a joke the cabby wanted to savor; he made no move to get his heap rolling.

Caine leaned over the seat. "Drive!" he said, pointing a finger straight ahead.

The cabby slammed the taxi into gear and, with a squeal of tires, they shot out into a sea of traffic.

Cody closed his mind to the discomfort of the back seat and their maddeningly slow progress through streets packed mostly with people and animal carts, and ramshackle, gaily multicolored buses packed to bursting and belching gray clouds of exhaust. Weapons or no, Kevlar or no, he knew three blancs had a snowball's chance in hell of penetrating the secrets of Bellefleur shanty town. That was why Murphy had gone in undercover in the first place. A black man at least had a hope of getting the job done and getting out alive. Rufe Murphy knew how to take care of himself. He was a combat pilot par excellence. Not just a flyboy, either. On terra firma, he could slug it out with the best of them, fists, knives, or guns. And when he slugged it out he didn't go down easy; he didn't go down, period. Cody knew the others were thinking the same thing. That Rufe had to be dead. It was the only way to put the guy out of action. If he was dead, the mission was worse than back at square one. They were playing in the red. Which was no way to win a war. Or even the skirmish they had planned.

To the east, beyond the overcrowded plain, beyond the haze-shrouded mountains Cody could see as they bumped along the pothole-riddled road, were even more mountains. Nestled somewhere in among them was a secret basecamp. In that basecamp, members of the deposed Duvalier regime's Tontons Macoutes were reforming into a counterrevolutionary army. The Macoutes, or Volontaires pour la Sdcurite Nationale (VSN), had been created by Papa Doc Duvalier because he did not trust the existing army and police to back his authority. Though officially disbanded and ordered to turn in their weapons when the new government took power, eyewitnesses claimed to have seen thousands of Macoutes fleeing to the east and the border with the Dominican Republic. According to official reports, more than ten thousand rifles disappeared at roughly the same time.

What could an army of that size do in a country of 5 million? Nothing, practically speaking, if the Haitians were united in opposition. But among a population already restless with the failures of the new government to deal with old problems, seeds of organized terror had a chance of producing big rewards. Terrorizing the helpless was something the Macoutes were very good at; in thirty years they had gotten in a lot of practice. Rumor had it that the Macoutes were already using traditional methods—violence and voodoo—in scattered attacks, perhaps testing their muscles for an impending all-out campaign. The public position of the U.S. government was a "vague concern" over "unconfirmed" reports of a resurgent VSN. In private, however, the Cabinet heads were plenty worried. Not that the Macoutes might win in the short term, but that a prolonged conflict might destabilize the new regime enough to allow a third party to move in and take over. No one in the White House wanted another Cuba or Nicaragua popping up on their watch. They were worried enough to send in Cody's Army to "cauterize" the situation before it got out of control.

To do that, Cody needed the basecamp coordinates. Not an easy thing to come by in a country where people kept silent out of fear of torture, death, and worse—voodoo being used against them. Murphy was supposed to get the coordinates. Instead, he got caught. The enemy still had their secret and they knew they were being hunted.

When the cab reached Bellefleur, it stopped in the middle of the street. No way it could get to the side of the road for all the people. Crude stalls lined the dirt track; from them free-enterprisers hawked produce, clothes, baked goods, cheap watches, and radios. Cody paid the driver and they all got out. They drew stares as they pushed past the carts and the crowd, plunging into the stench and poverty of the shantytown.

The shacks of Bellefleur had roofs of tin or scavenged sheet plastic. Rough wooden posts supported tiny front porches. Some of the shacks had been painted hideously bright colors—pinks, oranges, and greens—which made their shabbiness even more depressing. As to front yards, there were none. Just three feet of rocks and dirt to the open sewer, a trough hacked into the earth, that paralleled the road. There were no trees, no shrubs, not a blade of grass. Power poles jutted up here and there, precariously angled, their wires sagging as if from the heat.

Cody and the others quickly picked up a following. Beggars of all ages pursued them as they walked along the street. They were surrounded by open brown palms and voices pleading in English and French. It wouldn't do. They had to get rid of them.

Cody considered throwing them money, but the resulting melee would have only lasted a few seconds, until all the coins were grabbed up, and it would make the beggars wild for more. A show of force was in order.

"Off with the coats," he told the others. He was no longer worried about the authorities. Bellefleur was not the kind of place that had much of a standing police presence. Only a massacre would bring them in.

They shed their garments into the roadway. Three huge white men with automatic weapons in their fists, their chests crisscrossed by black combat harnesses heavy with grenades and extra magazines, loomed above the crowd.

The result was unexpected, to say the least.

"Rambo! Rambo!" one of the beggars shouted. If he had not actually seen the film, he had at least seen the billboard. He was definitely not alone. Shouts of "Rambo! Rambo!" filled the air.

"Bloody hell!" Caine groaned. "What are we going to do now?"

"Give 'em autographs?" Hawkeye suggested.

"Give 'em lead!" Cody said, slapping back the bolt of his Mini UZI. Aiming the weapon straight up in the air, he cut loose with a ten-round burst. The sudden clatter of deadly force stopped the gleeful chanting. In fact, things got so quiet so fast that the last two spent and smoking casings clinked audibly when they hit the rocks.

Caine and Hawkins charged their UZIs, and the three of them slowly lowered the weapons to belly height, muzzles sweeping back and forth. Their meaning was perfectly clear. The crowd vanished into windows without glass, doorways without doors, the gaping seams of plywood walls. In a matter of seconds they were alone with the stink and the clutter blowing down the narrow lane.

"Double time!" Cody said, breaking into a trot. They had to get where they were going before news of them arrived.

Caine and Hawkins fell in behind, their heavy footfalls thudding in rhythm with Cody's. They overtook the wave of Haitians fleeing before them down the road, people who sidestepped and stopped. Wide-eyed, panting, the slum dwellers watched the big white men with the guns tramp by.

The Simbi Bar was one of the core of permanent structures at the heart of the Bellefleur shantytown. The crumbling stucco over brick was painted a robin's-egg blue. There was no door in the doorway. No window opening. A tin awning supported by wooden posts painted hot orange spanned the front. Under the awning, their backs against the cool plaster, was a line of Haitian men? They froze at the sight of Cody's Army bearing down on them.

Hawkins and Caine spread out, from single file into a flying wedge formation, angling to Cody's right and left respectively, widening their combined arc of fire to saturate the front of the building, if necessary. It was not necessary. The patrons of the Simbi Bar glared, but made no threatening moves. They shrank away from the entryway, giving the blancs plenty of room.

Cody hit the doorway first. At ground level. Surprise was on their side, and he wanted to keep it that way. He dove through and rolled to one side, coming up on one knee, Mini UZI tracking. Behind him, Caine and Hawkins split. Caine shifted his SMG to his left hand and took position on the right side of the doorway, Hawkins took the left.

The bar only had four people in it. A bartender. Three very young prostitutes dressed in bathrobes and slippers, their hair in curlers, faces scrubbed clean, were having breakfast of fruit and bread. But for the setting, it looked like the finish to a teenage slumber party.

Hawkins and Caine slipped in behind Cody, then Caine turned, put his back to the room and covered the entryway.


On Sale
Sep 26, 2009
Page Count
162 pages