A gang of pornographers turns kidnapped women into sex slaves—and only Hawker can save them Brenda Paulie is fresh out of law school, newly married, and recently pregnant. She’s also marked to die. In an affluent neighborhood of Detroit, three masked men burst into Brenda’s house, beat her husband senseless, and take her captive—their thirteenth victim this year. Only one man can save her: James Hawker, America’s deadliest vigilante. And when he comes to Detroit, the city will never be the same. Hawker’s one-man crusade against organized crime has taken him into the beating heart of the nation’s pornography industry: the crumbling smogscrapers of downtown Detroit. Smut is one thing, but kidnapping is another. To save Brenda and all the other victims of vice, Hawker must infiltrate an empire of filth. Detroit Combat is the 7th book in the Hawker series, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
About the Author
Randy Wayne White was born in Ashland, Ohio, in 1950. Best known for his series featuring retired NSA agent Doc Ford, he has published over twenty crime fiction and nonfiction adventure books. White began writing fiction while working as a fishing guide in Florida, where most of his books are set. His earlier writings include the Hawker series, which he published under the pen name Carl Ramm. White has received several awards for his fiction, and his novels have been featured on the New York Times bestseller list. He was a monthly columnist for Outside magazine and has contributed to several other publications, as well as lectured throughout the United States and travelled extensively. White currently lives on Pine Island in South Florida, and remains an active member of the community through his involvement with local civic affairs as well as the restaurant Doc Ford’s Sanibel Rum Bar and Grill.
Read an Excerpt
By Randy Wayne White
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1985 Dell Publishing Co., Inc.
All rights reserved.
"Take off your clothes," ordered the woman. "I can't make any decision as long as you have your pants on. You're here for a screen test, aren't you? Well, aren't you?"
James Hawker stood just inside the door of a suite of offices on the eighteenth floor of an East Jefferson Avenue smogscraper in downtown Detroit. The woman sat at a bare desk in a nearly bare room. Behind her there was a window. Through the window he could see the steeple of the Mariner's Church and, by leaning to the left, the December bleakness of Lake St. Clair. The steeple looked very old, very delicate against the stalagmite gloom of the city beyond.
"Screen test?" repeated James Hawker. "Oh ... yeah ... right — a screen test. I would like to take off all my clothes and stand in front of a camera. Why else would I be here?"
In the center of the room a bank of Klieg lights and a video camera sat on tripods above an empty bed. Beyond the bed was a door. Hawker assumed the screen test the woman mentioned had to do with the making of a pornographic film. He also assumed the door led to more offices — offices he wanted to see.
"Well?" asked the woman.
"Well?" echoed Hawker.
"Well, take your god damn clothes off! The camera team is working in the back set, but they'll be breaking in about twenty minutes, and you'd damn well better be ready!"
At the desk, the woman held a Styrofoam coffee cup in one hand and a Virginia Slims cigarette in the other. She used a peanut can as an ashtray. The woman, in her late forties, had silver-blond hair cut boyishly short and owlish glasses. Hawker wondered why anyone would try so hard to look like Geraldine Ferraro.
He had followed a pock-faced man and a woman into the skyscraper, then lost them in the crowded halls. He suspected the woman to be Brenda Jacobsen Paulie. He had recognized her from the photographs in his Detroit Kidnap Victims file. In the photographs she had wheat-colored hair and a very pretty face. They had dyed her hair inky black, and her eyes were bleary with drugs and lack of sleep, but Hawker was almost sure it was the same woman.
The man was either her keeper or her kidnapper, and they were somewhere in this building — maybe in this suite of offices.
Hawker had to find out.
Brenda Paulie was only one of at least thirteen women who had been kidnapped in the last twelve months. Paulie's story was as tragic as any of them. Only twenty-four years old, she had just graduated from law school. In June she married Blake Paulie, a successful Detroit attorney. On the morning of September fifteenth, a Tuesday, the Paulies learned they were to be parents. Brenda was pregnant. They planned a celebration dinner for that evening.
The dinner was never to be.
That afternoon, just after sunset, three men wearing masks forced their way into the house at gunpoint. They beat and tied Blake Paulie, then took his wife.
The kidnapping was different from the others in only two ways: The kidnappers had taken their victim from a house rather than off the street; also, Brenda Paulie was the first victim who did not live in the crime-ravaged Marlow West suburb of Detroit.
Detroit detectives worked overtime, even on their days off, trying to break just one of the more than a dozen kidnapping cases. Finally, frustrated by a thousand deadend leads as well as the investigative restraints placed on them as officers of the law, they put out a signal for help.
They knew who they wanted — if he would just come.
Most of the detectives had heard the whispered stories of an auburn-haired vigilante ex-cop who wasn't afraid to take the law into his own hands in order to bring the lawless to justice. The vigilante's methods, the detectives knew, provided him with tremendous shortcuts. They also knew the kidnappers and their gang were likely to end up dead on the street if they tried to resist the vigilante.
But considering the cruelty of their crimes, that was fine with them.
Finally, doubly sickened by the kidnapping of a pregnant newlywed, a couple of the detectives decided it was time to get outside help. None of them, of course, even knew what the vigilante's name was, much less how to get in touch with him. So they spread the word among their connections in the underworld. As only experienced detectives could know, criminals and cops have much more in common than cops and judges ever will.
So it was in early December that Hawker got a call from his Mafia friend, Louie Brancacci. Brancacci told him the story of the kidnappings, and Hawker immediately got in touch with his friend and associate, Jacob Montgomery Hayes. Hayes, as Hawker expected, was all for his going to Detroit. Hayes's butler, Hendricks, took care of shipping out the gear he would need by a private courier truck.
Hawker drove the midnight-blue Corvette his friend Big Nick Clements had completely refurbished for him. He arrived in Detroit to find that Hendricks, as always, had done a superb job of seeing that he had a quiet, comfortable place to live as well as all the fighting hardware he could ever use.
Now, after almost two fruitless weeks of painstaking detective work, Hawker had his first break. Ironically, it was luck, blind, blind luck, that he ever noticed Brenda Paulie among the throngs of people on the Detroit sidewalks.
So now he had to find her. He couldn't allow such luck to slip away.
Hawker knew he had to find a way to get past this receptionist. He knew he had to find a reason for searching the back part of the suite. He wasn't sure he had to take off his clothes to do it.
In December, in Detroit, Hawker figured, it's cold no matter where you are.
"So," said Hawker, stalling for time, "what's the title of this movie you're making? It's not a western, is it? I love westerns."
The woman scowled at him. Her way of communicating her disapproval was to sigh. She sighed now. "A western? (Sigh.) Don't be flippant with me, all right? I don't like it. We consider the films we make to be works of art ... art that is too complicated for your average working-class drone. We make important statements and we take our work very seriously. Understand? So, from now on, I'll ask the questions. (Sigh.) What's your name?"
"My name is Hawker. James Hawker."
"Not Jim Hawker. Not Jimmy — but James Hawker." The woman sighed her distaste. "I'm afraid it'll never do. You'll have to choose another."
"Another name, for God's sake. Can you really be so dumb?" She looked at him and rolled her eyes. "Yes, I guess you can be. Look, I'm sure you put a lot of time into thinking up that name, and it does show a pleasant childlike imagination, but it just doesn't fit."
"Yeah, but I didn't know you were making a western. How about Roy Hawker? Randolph Hawker? Duke —"
"We are not making a western, and I'm getting a little tired of your inane jokes." There was a reptilian glow in the woman's eye, and Hawker guessed her hobby was cutting healthy American males into little bite-size pieces.
"Look, lady, I don't —"
"Don't 'look lady' me, buster!" the woman cut in. She jumped up from her desk and wagged a finger in Hawker's face. "You have three choices. You can call me Ms. Bent, or, if we hire you, you can call me Adria."
"And the third choice?" asked Hawker, trying hard to be meek.
"The third choice is to get the fuck out of here and kiss your screen test goodbye." Pushing her jaw out, the woman glared at him. The cigarette drooped from the corner of her mouth.
"Oops. Sorry. Guess I was a little out of line ... Ms. Bent." Hawker, who hadn't known about the porno operation until he walked into the office, added, "I'd hate to blow my chances at this screen test, ma'am. I've been looking forward to this for a long, long time."
Some of the anger left the woman's face. She nodded. "That's better. I always like to let our actors know exactly where they stand from the very first day." She gave him a penetrating look. "Do you know where you stand, Mr. Hawker?"
Slumping submissively, Hawker looked at the point where his feet touched the linoleum. "I think I do, Ms. Bent. I think I know exactly where I stand."
"Good. So we need to work on a new name for you — if you look good on film, of course." She studied him closely for the first time. "What happened to your nose, for God's sake? Was it broken?"
Hawker touched his face experimentally. "Geeze, I don't think so. My face may have been shoved to the side a couple of times, but my nose is just fine."
"More jokes, huh? (Sigh.) Well, strip off those clothes, buster — then maybe we will really have something to joke about."
Hawker wore jeans, running shoes, and a rust-colored sweater beneath a short leather jacket. The jacket was still wet from the snow that was falling outside. Hawker took his right foot in both hands and hopped around for a moment as if trying to remove his shoe. He stopped abruptly, an expression of innocence on his face. "Say, do you have a head around here?"
"You know, a head ... a toilet."
The woman's face reddened. "Look, you silly little shit, if you're too shy to strip in front of me, you're sure as hell too shy to do a porno film!"
"Naw, it's not that. Whenever I get nervous, my bladder gets little cramps." He lowered his voice to a whisper. "I've got to pee."
Hawker kicked at the floor. "I'm sorry — urinate."
The woman's face was growing redder. "It's through that door, second hallway to the left — and don't forget to put up the lid." She snapped off her last words. "And when you get back, buster, you'd better be nude. You may have time to waste, but I don't."
Hawker turned to go, then stopped. He said, "Say, Adria, while I'm gone, would you mind getting me a cup of that coffee? Cream and Sweet 'n Low if you've got it." He smiled sweetly.
The woman was just lighting another cigarette. She exhaled smoke through bared teeth.
Hawker didn't wait for her answer. He had a feeling it wasn't going to be very nice. He went through the door into the second set of offices. As he did, he touched the .45 automatic in the Jensen speed holster beneath his jacket. The weight of the weapon was reassuring.
Hawker smiled at a private joke. He was thinking: There's no way that ball-breaking bitch is going to get my clothes off me — not as long as I'm armed.CHAPTER 2
James Hawker moved quickly down the hallway.
He walked right past the door marked "Men."
He remembered what Adria Bent had said about the camera crew. She'd said they were shooting on one of the back sets. Hawker assumed that meant they were working in one of the rear offices.
He wanted to see exactly what they were working on.
For the first time since he had come to Detroit, he felt a slight trickle of confidence about the prospects of breaking at least one of the kidnapping cases.
It all figured: Pornography was a reasonable motive for kidnapping an attractive young woman. It might not be the reason why all thirteen women were taken, but it was a start — if he was right.
Hawker moved quietly through the next office. It was empty, and the few desks were covered with plastic and a layer of dust. The suite was obviously a temporary quarters for the pornographers. The offices were probably inexpensive to lease for a week or two of work. And, judging from the old building's construction, the rooms were probably all but soundproof.
Hawker paused at the next door and touched his ear to the heavy wood. From within he heard a muted kerwack followed by a cry of anguish.
Hawker forced himself to remain calm. He cracked the door ever so slightly and peered in. He had been confident the woman was Brenda Paulie. Now he was positive. And what he saw made him want to vomit.
They had strapped her spread-eagle to a bed, using leather thongs. The woman was completely naked, and Klieg lights and a pair of cameras hunched above her. Also on the stage were two muscular men. Both of them wore leather masks. The more muscular of the two men had a freakishly large penis, and he engaged in coitus while the woman lay helpless, her head thrown back in pain, the veins in her neck pounding, sweat beading on her forehead. The second held a leather whip. Whenever the woman seemed to resist, he slapped her sharply with the whip. She had round, heavy, milk-white breasts that now showed the iridescent red streaks of the whip. The pale nipples beaded with blood.
Hawker took a deep breath and drew the .45-caliber Colt ACP. He took note of the odds as he slid a cartridge into the chamber. There were five of them: a cameraman, a lighting grip, the director, and the two actors. The actors and the technicians would probably be trouble, Hawker decided. The director, who wore salmon-color jodhpurs and a pink shirt, would not be.
Behind the director, a woman sat on a steel folding chair. She wore a black negligee, smoked a blue cigarette, and her hair was cut into a punkish purple Mohawk. Hawker refused to even imagine how the woman with the Mohawk figured into the plot of the movie — if there was a plot.
In one swift motion, Hawker kicked the door open and stepped into the room. "Freeze! Not a word; not a move!" Then to the muscular actor who had stopped midstroke in his rape of Brenda Paulie, Hawker shouted, "You're not supposed to freeze, dumb shit! Climb down off her. Now! And take off those damn masks. What are you two supposed to be? Members of the Fire Island executioner's club or something?"
Hawker helped him off the woman with a sharp kick in the butt. It may not have damaged the actor's ego, but the kick certainly deflated his libido. Hawker motioned all of them against the wall as he walked toward Brenda Paulie. As he leaned down and pulled his Randall Attack/Survival knife from the scabbard on his calf, the director stepped forward.
"Who are you?" he demanded shrilly. "Are you a cop? Even if you are, you have absolutely no right to interrupt serious work in this manner. Do you have a search warrant? Do you?"
Hawker cut the leather thongs. "Do I have a search warrant?" He smiled. "Sure." He motioned with the .45 automatic in his right hand. "This is my search warrant. And if you so much as look at me wrong, you nauseating little shit, they'll be pulling chunks of your skull out of the wall until the end of this century."
"I never said you had to have a search warrant," the director said quickly. "And we're not moving, are we? Not even an inch. We're going to do whatever you tell us." He looked at the others. The two actors had taken off their masks, and Hawker was surprised at how young they looked. Both of them looked very frightened as they watched Hawker replace the Randall in its scabbard.
There was a sheet on the floor, and Hawker used it to cover up Brenda Paulie. For the first time, she seemed to realize she was free. Hawker could see firsthand that she had a lithe athlete's body and a pretty cheerleader's face. She opened her eyes groggily. "Are we done now? Can we go, please?"
"Yeah, Mrs. Paulie," Hawker said softly, "we can go now. I'm taking you home. Home to your husband, Blake. Home to a doctor."
The woman's head cocked slightly, as if she didn't believe what she had just heard. "Home? Home to my husband? Why are you lying to me? Please don't do that."
Hawker squeezed her wrist tenderly. "I'm not lying to you, Brenda. I'm a friend. We're going to find you some clothes and get you away from these animals."
"Home?" the woman echoed. "Oh, that would be so ... so nice. That would be just wonderful. Really? You really mean it? God, I think you do." She pushed at her stringy black hair as if to neaten it for the journey — a pathetic gesture. "I've been away for so long, it seems. Such a long, long time. I know Blake has been worried about me, and I just haven't been able to call." She looked carefully at Hawker. He could see the depth of the confusion and the hysteria in her bleary eyes. She added anxiously, "You have to let me get cleaned up first. Please. You can't let Blake see me like this." She began to wring her hands as if to rid them of some unspeakable filth. "I'm just so ... so ... so damn dirty. ..." Her voice faltered and she began to cry softly, her knees pulled up to her chest in a fetal position. Brenda Paulie looked small and humiliated and tragic.
Excerpted from Detroit Combat by Randy Wayne White. Copyright © 1985 Dell Publishing Co., Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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