Authors: Ty Patterson
The Reluctant Warrior
Copyright © 2014 by Ty Patterson
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced, or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Books by Ty Patterson
, Warriors series, Book 1
The Reluctant Warrior
, Warriors series, Book 2
Coming soon: The Warrior Code, Warriors series, Book 3
No book is a single person’s product. I am privileged that
The Reluctant Warrior
has benefited from the inputs of several great people.
Christine Terrell, Jean Coldwell, and Kathryn Moody for their awesome constructive critique, Donna Rich for her proofreading, Pauline Nolet (
) for her proofreading and editing.
To my wife, who is my anchor and my sail; my son, who is my inspiration; my parents who never stopped giving; and all my beta readers and well-wishers.
The boy woke up as soon as he heard his father stirring, and peered out from under the edge of his blanket.
He saw his dad do his usual routine of looking across the small bedroom, from his bed to the children’s beds to see if they were awake, and then step cautiously to the window overlooking the street and scan it.
His father had been doing this for the last few months. One day he had asked his father what he was looking for. He had been brushed off.
They had moved to Brownsville not long ago, just over a year back. For him life had been long periods of moving about followed by short periods of stay and calm, and so far Brownsville had been one of those short periods of calm. He looked across at his sister sprawled across the edge of her tiny bed, legs twitching spasmodically in response to some dream in her eight-year-old mind. He wondered if she enjoyed moving so much; maybe for her it was normal, since she hadn’t experienced anything else. His eyes went back to his father, still standing at the window, and wondered what he was thinking about. The boy gave up wondering after some time as sleep dragged him into oblivion.
Shattner knew his son had been awake and watching, from the changed timbre of his breathing. The apartment was just a single-bedroom apartment in Brownsville, a New York neighborhood well-known for its crime.
William Shattner was a loser and looked like one. His thin brown hair, narrow face, angular body, shifty eyes and hesitant manner didn’t inspire any confidence.
His father ran the only grocery store in a small town in Ohio, and by the time young William turned fifteen, Shattner Senior had realized the family’s livelihood couldn’t be entrusted to his son.
William didn’t want to run a grocery store. He didn’t know what he wanted to do in life. He had a vague idea about seeing places and doing the kind of exciting stuff girls fell for, but those were hazy ideas in his mind that never got translated into ambition. He had his eureka moment when he saw an army recruitment advertisement on TV and enlisted on his eighteenth birthday. His parents, both in poor health by then, wished him well and were secretly glad that they were no longer responsible for him.
The army shaped Shattner to some extent, but it too realized the extent of his capabilities. He had an ability to repair broken equipment and also had a liking for record keeping, and this got him a career in the Ordnance Corps. His vague dreams of seeing places materialized when the corps deployed him to various hot spots of the world.
A slightly more mature Shattner married his high school sweetheart, Coralyn, when he came home on leave. Marriage didn’t turn out the way it was promoted. Coralyn had more aspirations than Shattner and demanded a lifestyle that Shattner couldn’t afford. Not on a sergeant’s income.
His two kids, Lisa and Shawn, were the best things to have happened to him, and in order to give
a comfortable life, Shattner found the means to support Coralyn’s demands.
He started selling military weapons in the black market.
He didn’t know how and when he crossed that moral divide; Shattner wasn’t given to introspection, but he found that the illegal activity came easy to him, and for a while his life was back to as normal as it ever was.
Till the time he was found, court-martialed and discharged from the army.
His marriage had ended by then, and Shattner, using all his meager savings, fought for and got custody of his children. Then followed years of drifting from job to job, living out of run-down apartments, and trying to earn enough to raise his children. Those jobs often involved selling small firearms on the black market – a life on the dark side, the only open door for Shattner.
When the faint possibility of redemption arrived, Shattner grabbed it.
Shattner stood in the shadows and watched life pass in the street. It had become second nature for him for as long as he could remember, to look out for anything out of the ordinary on the street before he stepped out. Nothing struck him, and he headed towards the door of the apartment.
His son would wake up, make breakfast for his sister and himself, get both of them ready for school, and then the two of them would walk a couple of blocks to school. After school, his son would collect his sister and do the routine in reverse. By the time Shattner returned from work, his son and daughter would have finished their dinner and be ready for bed.
His son, a mature adult in an eleven-year-old body, had never experienced boyhood and had never enjoyed all the small things that childhood was about. For the briefest moment, the darkness of despair flooded his mind before he ruthlessly shunted it aside.
Shattner walked several blocks to the car repair shop where he worked. He could have taken a bus to the garage, but he preferred the walk, even if it was a long one, since it gave him the freedom to breathe.
On returning home he picked up a tail.
A short stocky man was trailing him from a distance. He was good, but Shattner’s life in the army had left him with vital survival skills, and he picked up the tail immediately. He sat down on a bench, bought some nuts and ate them leisurely, taking the time to subtly observe the reaction of the tail and also to think the situation through.
The tail hung well back, and finishing his nuts, Shattner decided to do nothing about him. Those who employed the tail already knew where he was living and everything else about him. If he took on the tail, it would only tip them off that he knew. His apartment was on the third floor on Blake Avenue in an apartment complex that housed many like him for whom hope and a future were alien. He could hear the excitement in Lisa’s voice as she talked with her brother, the voices audible through the thin door of the apartment. He stepped in silently, and the rest of his world fell away.
‘Daddy,’ Lisa squealed as she rushed across the room and jumped into his arms. ‘Shawn helped me with schoolwork.’ Her voice came out muffled as she buried her face in his shoulders.
‘Had dinner, princess?’ He looked over at Shawn questioningly.
‘How was school, princess?’ he asked her as he went to their small bathroom to shower and change, listening to her momentous day. For an eight-year-old, every day was noteworthy. Shattner allowed her voice to wash over him, leaving him refreshed.
He spent an hour with her, telling stories, and as her breathing deepened into sleep, he sat there for a long while, his mind empty, as empty as the future he saw for himself.
They will have a better future
, he promised himself.
Shattner turned from the refrigerator to see Shawn tousled with sleep.
‘Dad, will we ever have a normal life?’
Shattner heard the refrigerator door shut behind him, the soft thud drowned by the beating of his heart as he felt his son’s eyes on him. He took a couple of long strides and crouched down in front of his son.
‘Two to three months at the most, Shawn. And then we’ll live like any other normal family. We’ll celebrate birthdays, go on holidays, and have loads of friends… trust me, buddy. Okay?’
Shawn nodded, his eyes dark, the faintest sheen of tears in them.
Shattner pulled him close, crushed him in a hug, and walked him to bed and sat beside him till sleep claimed him.
He checked his phone after dinner and saw the text message silently winking at him.
It was the one he was dreading.
Short, terse, like the sender.
He went to his gun cabinet, a grand description for a wooden drawer high up in the closet in the bedroom, and removed his Glock 30 and cleaning materials, and carried them to the drawing room.
He stripped the gun, wiped the parts clean, and then started a more thorough job of lubricating them. The smell of gun oil filled the room, a comforting smell, bringing back good memories. He assembled the gun, loaded its magazine, and chambered a round. He didn’t think he would need the gun the next day, but it never hurt to be prepared.
Jose Cruz owned Brownsville Autos, the used car dealership and garage where Shattner worked. The garage had a staff of six, a diverse mix of East Europeans, Hispanics and… William Shattner.
Jose Cruz was also regional kingpin of 5Clubs, the fastest-growing gang in New York City that had outmuscled all other gangs and ran its criminal empire like a business.
Cruz, the head of the Brooklyn chapter, was ruthless, ambitious, and rising fast in the gang.
Cruz owned Brownsville; not a single deal went down in Brownsville without his knowledge and involvement, or permission. Brownsville Autos was a legitimate business and gave him the façade to operate from.
It had been surprisingly easy for Shattner to join the gang. Later, he realized, that was one of their strengths. Making it easy to join, and making sure no one ever left.
He had been walking along Tapscott Street late one night soon after moving to Brownsville, real late at night, drifting in and out of the dark shadows, when he saw the holdup. A dark sedan had been parked on the other end of the street with five men leaning against it.
They were not leaning.
Two of them were being held at gunpoint by three others; one of the three was waving a gun and gesticulating, the other two slapping and kicking the one against the car. Shattner didn’t stop to think. He wore rubber-soled shoes, dressed in dark clothes, and wasn’t spotted by the group till he was a few feet away. By then it was too late.
Before the gunman could turn and train his gun on Shattner, he had gone down with a kick to his kidneys, followed by a blow to his throat. As he fell down choking, the two held up against the car turned on their attackers and felled them brutally.
A couple of minutes, that’s all it had taken. Once Shattner’s breathing slowed and the adrenaline subsided, he took stock of the two he had rushed to help. Hispanic was his first thought. Short, swarthy, one of them bent to retrieve a bag from an attacker and kicked him in the head for good measure.
‘You guys okay? Shouldn’t we call the police,’ Shattner addressed them.
‘No. No police,’ the guy bending down replied as the other walked around the car, searching for something.
‘Are you sure? These guys might file a report, and it’s better if we get ours in first,’ Shattner persisted.
The bent guy straightened up, holding a brown paper bag, which was half open and filled with small baggies. He glared at Shattner. ‘You dumb or something? We said no police.’
The other man came around the car, tucking a pistol in his waistband, and looked appraisingly at Shattner.
Perhaps he’s wondering if he should shoot me
, Shattner thought.
‘Gracias,’ he said. ‘If you need anything, come here.’ He handed a card to Shattner, and they left without another word or a backward glance. The next day he hoofed it to the garage and handed the card to a teenager in the reception.
‘Two men gave this to me last night. They asked me to come here if I needed help. I need a job. I’m a good mechanic.’
The teenager stared at him disbelievingly for a long time – the garage wasn’t exactly a career magnet – and then placed the card on the counter. ‘Dude, there are thousands of these cards in the city. We don’t offer a job to anyone who just walks in, hands over one of them, and tells a fantastic story. In any case, we’re not hiring.’