About “Ivory Lust”

Pete Chandler series—mystery and suspense in exotic locations.

Ivory Lust by Colin T Nelson


Pete Chandler, an investigator for the U.S. Export/Import Bank, travels to South Africa with his daughter, hoping to heal their relationship. He’s also on assignment to solve a murder case for the bank. Arriving in Cape Town, his daughter is almost killed during a second murder. That throws Pete into a dangerous quest to find the killers.

It leads them across South Africa to a wild game reserve. Clues point to an international ivory trafficking network centered at the reserve. Pete’s investigation traps him between powerful forces that don’t want him to succeed. When he refuses to give-up, Pete and Karen become targets of the criminals—who try to eliminate them both.

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Ivory Lust

By Colin T. Nelson


In many parts of the world, the practice of traditional medicine still prevails. This style of medicine makes use of ancient formulas of herbs, animal parts, and various renditions of natural plants. One of the most prized of these medicines is the ground-up horn of the Western black rhino. It is thought to have supernatural healing properties, in addition to being an aphrodisiac. The timid but huge animal weighed up to 3,000 pounds. More importantly, the front horn could grow as long as four and a half feet—which made them targets.

In 1970 the price of rhino horn had soared to over $1,900 an ounce. Poachers descended on Southern Africa, the rhino’s habitat, in an effort to procure as many of the horns as possible. By 1995, ninety-eight percent of the Western black rhinos had been killed.

In 2004, a non-governmental organization, Symbiose, found evidence of thirty-one rhinos in Cameroon. Anecdotes from local people said this “crash” of rhinos was headed toward South Africa.

Naturalists searched for the crash but didn’t find it. Since then, no researchers or biologists have spotted any of the rhinos. In 2011 the species was officially declared extinct. (White rhinos remain in good numbers in Southern Africa and are holding their own. A small crash of black rhinos—not Western black rhinos—is also growing at Kruger National Park.)

However, stories of sightings still come out of the bush—primarily from the Zulu and Tswana tribes in South Africa—about the mystical Western black rhino. These are all undocumented, and Western naturalists distrust these tales as a result of the tribes’ adherence to magic —for instance, their belief that even spotting the rare beast will cause healing. But the tribes have lived on the land for centuries and know its secrets better than anyone.

Chapter One

Dawn came early in South Africa, the orange ball on the horizon creating long, pointed shadows as if the sun were blowing them across the veld. A tall black man looked toward the morning and felt the strength of the glow on his face. Isaac was from Zimbabwe and worked as a ranger at the Sirilima Game Reserve. There were game parks in Zimbabwe, of course, but the parks in South Africa paid better.

His brother, Frimby, had followed him to the same game park and also worked as a ranger. They were highly trained, and their responsibilities were to preserve the game, help deter poachers, and guide the tourists who came in droves to photograph the magnificent animals that roamed over the reserve. Sirilima was a Swahili word that meant “mountains of mystery.”

With dawn breaking, the animals stirred to find water, hunt, and play in their freedom before it became too hot. At the watering hole down the slope in front of Isaac, blue cranes walked stiff-legged as they stalked fish. A warthog lapped at the water, looked up often, and then scurried off to the protection of a mountain pear tree.

Isaac had driven from the administrative center of the reserve on the plain up through a cut in the mountains to get to this plateau. He had told his boss, Trevor Smith, that he was on the plateau to check the perimeter of the northeast quadrant. The reserve used a new security system, but some of the animals perforated the borders anyway. Isaac would investigate to see if any had strayed during the night.

Isaac had hidden the real reason he was at the northeast corner.

The straps of his backpack cut into his shoulders. In the Toyota Land Rover behind him, Isaac had a liter of fresh water. He had brought a nine-millimeter Glock automatic pistol with him, strapped into a holster on his hip. A two-way radio connected him to headquarters, but he had turned it off and left it in the truck.

With a pair of Zeiss binoculars he scanned the field in front of him. Isaac saw a stand of willow trees in the distance and two zebras with their heads down, feeding. He watched the wind lift a puff of dust off the road in the far distance. Quiet. As the earth woke up, it was deceptively peaceful—until the eternal struggle for survival started over again.

Like many private game reserves in Africa, Sirilima was financed from a variety of sources: tax dollars, private foundations, donations from tourists, and bank loans. Normally, Isaac would not be involved in any of those issues. His expertise was with the game. But it was love of the game that motivated him this morning.

His concerns had started several months earlier. Private game reserves in Africa were managed differently than the public parks. The purpose of a private reserve was to assemble a variety of animals, maintain suitable habitat, and balance the animal populations against each other. For instance, if the elephant herd became too large, it would be culled so they didn’t ruin the habitat for other animals.

Isaac had noticed that several of the animals in the park were dying —more than usual, which meant something was wrong. Of course, the administration replaced them, but that required raising more money or borrowing more from the banks. He’d heard enough gossip to know the reserve faced a financial crisis.

A month ago, one of the banks, the U.S. Export/Import bank, had approached Isaac secretly. The man from the bank didn’t trust the park administration and had asked Isaac to work for him. When Isaac heard the enormity of the problem, he had agreed on the spot. In addition, the pay was more than he earned in two months.

That agreement had brought Isaac to the plateau this morning. A dangerous mission. He was acting as a decoy to flush out people suspected of killing the animals.

Sweat dripped down the sides of his face as he glassed the grass in front of him, searching for movement. His back was damp where it came in contact with the backpack, and Isaac hoped to God the contents wouldn’t leak. That would kill him in a slow, miserable death. The sooner he could give the contents to the suspects, the better.

He heard the breeze whistle as it blew harder across the ancient rocks around him. Other than some gazelles, nothing moved on the plain.

The high-powered bullet didn’t make a sound as it streaked over the tawny grasses and crashed into Isaac’s head. Tipped with a hollow-point, the bullet mushroomed on contact and blew apart his skull, creating a spray of gray and red that rose briefly before blowing off with the wind.

Chapter Two

Maybe going to Africa could accomplish two things at the same time, Pete Chandler thought to himself. It might be possible. He sat in the office of his boss, Martin Graves, who had called Pete an hour earlier with an urgent assignment.

As director of the U.S. Export/Import Bank in Minneapolis, Graves was the only one budgeted with a private office. “There’s an emergency at one of our banks in South Africa,” Graves said in a raspy voice. “We’ve done some lending to a company that manages game reserves.”

The U.S. Export/Import Bank had been established during the Great Depression by Congress in an effort to provide lending to risky companies all over the world that couldn’t get conventional financing. In turn, their success would provide import and export opportunities for American companies.

Pete worked as the chief investigator for the bank and had fixed problems across the world in past years. He listened, but the biggest problem was to avoid choking up yet again. His throat tightened, but instead of tears, he just felt hollow.

“I’m sorry about Barb’s death. I can tell it still hurts. But I’ve found the best way to deal with grief is to do something.”

A stitch caught in Pete’s chest, and his breathing came hard. After several months, he’d thought things would be easier. Barbara was the mother of their child, Karen. And although Pete had never married Barbara—they loved each other but found they couldn’t agree on much of anything—he was surprised at the depth of his sorrow and how much he really missed her. “I am doing something,” he insisted.

Graves leaned back in his chair, and it squeaked. “Why don’t you take Karen with you?”

Pete glanced up, his eyes heavy. The idea of combining an investigative assignment with a vacation appealed to him. But he doubted Karen would be willing to go with him. “She’s got enough of her own problems.”

“She needs a father, especially now.”

“Ah, we’ve never gotten along too well.” Pete waved his hand in front of him as if he could wipe away a lifetime of difficulties with his daughter. He stood and began walking in a tight circle. He was tall and kept in shape with regular taekwondo exercises, but he’d begun fighting a growing bulge around his middle as he moved through his forties.

“If you look at the globe, one of the farthest points from here is South Africa. You could get away from everything. Have a vacation. Besides, you’ve always talked about going on a safari to view big game.”

“Why are you involved with South Africa? That’s not your jurisdiction, is it?”

Graves cleared his throat. “Uh, I have to admit, there’s a selfish motive for this.”

“What’s that?”

“The bank’s got an office in Cape Town. The director is an old and close friend of mine. Ian Donahue. He’s an Aussie that I roomed with when we were Rhodes Scholars in England. He’s got serious problems down there. An employee was murdered in a client’s game park. Possible scandal that’s got Washington in an uproar.”

“What does that have to do with you?”

“Normally, nothing, but in this case, I recommended Ian for the job. The bank didn’t want to take a chance on him. Checkered background. But I used a lot of juice to get him appointed. If Ian goes down, my reputation in Washington goes with him.” He blinked a few times. “It could affect my career.”

“What does it have to do with me?”

“Ian is involved in the death somehow. I want you to look into things to help Ian—and for me.”

At a rap on the door, a middle-aged black woman entered the office. Kendra Cooper was also an investigator, with a cubicle next to Pete’s on the fifth floor. She came across the room and enveloped his shoulder to give him a hug. She smelled like sandalwood, and he let himself sink into the comfort of her arms for a moment.

“How’s ‘Ace Ventura, Pet Detective’ doing today?” she kidded him, but her eyebrows crowded down across her forehead.

Pete tilted his head to the side. “Hanging in there, I guess. Barbara’s death still hurts.” He was uncomfortable even admitting that much and tried to change the subject. “Any new rings?”

Kendra held up her hands, on which she wore a ring on every finger. The gold ones glittered in the winter sun streaming through the office window. “My man gave me this one.” It was silver with a turquoise stone mounted in the middle. “So, how’s Karen?”

“She’s okay.”

“You’re lying.”

Pete turned away from her toward the window. It looked out over the Nicollet Mall and piles of snow, gray in the shadows of the surrounding towers as wind whined around their corners. The streets below were deserted, lifeless, and lonely.

Kendra walked up behind him and nudged Pete into a chair next to a small conference table. She sat on the opposite side and stared at him.

He resented being pushed by anyone for any reason—even Kendra. He stared back at her, finding brown eyes behind the yellow glasses she wore. “Don’t try to manipulate me,” he warned.

“Dude like you, no one can get through. But I can try.” She grinned for a moment. “Let me tell you a story about my mama. After a big dinner, the guests refused her peach cobbler. Now, she was most proud of her peach cobbler, and the way she got ’em to squeeze it in was to simply let the smell out of the kitchen.” Kendra’s hand breezed across the table and covered Pete’s forearm. “So, let’s open the kitchen door for you.”

He jerked his arm back. “I can handle this myself.”

“You can tough out anything. You’re more stubborn than a hog stuck in Georgia mud. But what about your daughter?”

Pete turned his head to avoid her attention. She was right, but he hated to admit it. Karen’s restaurant business had failed. After that, her marriage to Tim had crumbled, and now Karen’s mother was gone. It wasn’t fair for any one person to have to go through all that. But what could he do?

Their relationship had been rocky for years, even though Pete had given her and Tim thousands of dollars to keep the business afloat. Pete wasn’t even sure Karen wanted to be with him on a vacation anyway.

Graves came over to the table carrying a McDonald’s coffee cup. He squeezed between the arms of the chair next to Kendra’s. “I’ve got a job for him in Cape Town. Besides, Pete wants to go on a safari. Combine business with a vacation.”

“I’ve been there,” Kendra added.

Pete felt a tingle in his stomach.

“There’s so much more,” Kendra said. “Botanical gardens, wine regions, the beauty of Cape Town. And even in modern day, the tribal influences are still alive all over the country. The mixture is fascinating. Nothing like it here.”

Pete faced Graves. “What do you know about the death?”

“An employee of the game park named Isaac Simeon was out on patrol when he was shot. Local police are underfunded and undermanned. So, I don’t have much information—which is why Ian needs help.” Graves tilted his head. “He’s got some investigative resources, but you’re the best, and I’m worried about him.”

The thought of the upcoming December holidays made Pete’s chest tighten. In previous years, they’d celebrated holidays together, sort of. When Barbara had fallen sick, Pete refused to believe anything bad could happen. She was so stubborn, he’d thought that alone would forestall any disease. Now, the small but shattered family consisted of him and Karen. Christmas could be grim.

Kendra leaned forward over the desk. “Ian can help set up the safaris through their business with the game reserves.”

“Yeah?” Pete ran his hand over his black hair, starting to recede across the forehead. The plan might work. He had wanted to do it for years and thought Karen might be interested in a safari also. How would they get along? For God’s sake, what the hell would they talk about?

“Maybe I could spot one of the rare animals.”

“Which one?” she asked.

“The Western black rhino. It’s supposed to be extinct, but there have been reports of sightings.”

Kendra frowned.

“I’ve wanted to see the big game for a long time. I’ve done a lot of research.”

“You gotta go, dude.”

Pete stood up. It would be a way to escape the anger, sorrow, and memories that weighed him down. He still lived and worked in the Twin Cities, where he and Barbara had done so many things. They’d had fun times, and she had followed her New Age craziness. Pete had thought she was nuts; now it seemed a quaint and harmless search that he should have supported. This was where Karen had been born. He needed to support her now, even if it was too late to help Barbara. Maybe they could both find peace of mind.

“I’m not worried about myself, but are these safaris safe? Are the rangers dependable and trained?” Pete asked.

Kendra laughed. “It’s dangerous only if you stick your head in a lion’s mouth. After all, what could go wrong in a game park?”

“Didn’t you see the film Jurassic Park?

“Just make sure you can run fast.” Kendra laughed again and stood up.

Graves spoke softly. Pete leaned over and smelled Martin’s coffee breath. Graves said, “With something as serious as this murder in the park, Washington is sufficiently concerned to have alerted all of us at the E17 security level and above. I don’t get a GSD 27-3 form very often.”

“What’s that mean?”

“They see a possible international security issue. I’m in the crosshairs as much as Ian. Very serious. To prove how much I want you to go, do you know how much paperwork I’ll have to fill out? There’s Form GD 8933 and that bastard, EIIO 23. That one alone is twenty pages.”

“Okay. I’ll talk to Karen tonight.” He felt exhausted and turned to leave the office.

Graves called, “Wait.” He reached behind his desk to a narrow shelf of books, arranged in order and colored like crayons in a box. His finger hooked the top edge of one, and he slid it out to hand to Pete. “Ever read Graham Greene’s spy novels? This one’s different.” It was a copy of Greene’s book Ways of Escape.

Pete turned it over in his hand. “Thanks. I’ll read it on the flight to South Africa.”

* * *

With no pending investigative assignments, Pete decided to go home. He left the office tower and crossed the Nicollet Mall on his way to the parking lot. Although he wore a long down winter coat, the wind blew up from underneath and chilled him into his bones.

He owed Martin Graves a lot. When Pete’s own career was on the line, Graves had come through for him. Pete would help.

The leather seats of his old BMW convertible creaked when he sat in them. His breath puffed out in a cloud as he listened to the engine grinding, catching, and starting in a reassuring roar.

Pete had sold his small suburban home a few years back to buy a Somerset 55 houseboat. He liked the isolation of the boating community—no one bothered anyone else. And since they all lived in a marina off the Mississippi River, there were no shopping malls, sports bars, or office buildings near them. But with Barbara’s death, the marina reminded Pete of a cemetery. The cold weather kept people trapped inside, so the entire basin was quiet, dotted with the gray hulks of boats that appeared like tombstones in the morning fog from the river.

He texted Karen, asking if she could meet him at the boat tonight. Would she be interested in going to South Africa? She agreed to meet but nothing else.

Pete drove east from Minneapolis toward St. Paul, dropping down from Shepard Road through the Crosby Farm Regional Park and into a stand of bare oak trees. Black, twisted limbs covered with humps of snow still gave him the feeling of descending through a magical tunnel that opened onto a secret place unknown to 99% of the people in the city.

Normally, the water in the marina would freeze solid—which could easily crush the hull of even a large boat. So, Pete had installed a special bubbler system around the perimeter of his boat. That was enough to keep the water from freezing. Besides that, Pete had electric connections to land to power his heat and light.

In a few minutes, the interior was warm. He made a small sandwich and settled back in the booth in the galley. Of all the dangers he’d faced around the world, the meeting with Karen still worried him the most.

By seven o’clock, Pete had come out on the deck. He wore his down coat, thermal gloves, and a stocking cap. Wind blew off the Mississippi hard enough to lift spray into the air like a misting rain. It froze on most surfaces the minute it hit. He sheltered his face with his hand and spotted Karen’s Prius as it came into the parking lot.

When she reached his boat, Karen smiled up at Pete and climbed over the gunwale. She had black, straight hair and a hint of Asian features in her face—an inheritance from Pete’s mother, who was Vietnamese. “Hey, Dad,” she called and gave him a quick, padded hug since both wore heavy coats.

“Come inside; it’s freezing out here.”

Pete slid the glass door open, and Karen stepped across the raised transom into the warm galley. The light glowed like butter where it reflected off the wooden cabinets around them. She shucked off her coat and lifted the hair off her shoulders with both hands.

Pete wanted to say How are you? but hesitated.

“Anything warm to drink?” she asked.

“How about hot cocoa?” He knew she would say yes, so Pete walked two steps to the cupboard to remove a cup and fill it with water.

“I’ve always wanted to go on a photo safari. What’s this trip about?” she asked.

“Uh, Martin gave me a job in Cape Town. He’s got a friend in some trouble and wants me to help the guy. I’m going for that, and I thought you might want to come along to look at the game after I’m finished with my work.” He had his back to her and didn’t turn around, instead taking elaborate efforts to make the cocoa.

“Maybe.” She slid past him into the booth at the side of the galley, smelling slightly of marijuana. “I guess I’m not too busy.”

Pete set the timer on the microwave oven and turned around. He wanted to be honest with her. “South Africa is about as far away as we can get. Besides, the weather there will be warm. No snow. December is the dry season, so many of the leaves are down and it’s easier to spot the game.”

She looked away. “I don’t know, Dad. I appreciate the help you gave to Tim and me for the restaurant, but you haven’t been there for me a lot of times.”

“I know.”

“I don’t know that I can just forget all that and spend time with you twenty-four seven. And you didn’t treat Mom well at the end.” Her dark eyes flicked up to meet his for an instant.

“I understand. I just didn’t believe she would go. I mean, she was so damn obstinate, I thought she’d beat it. And you have to admit, she rejected me at times.” The microwave binged and Pete retrieved the cup for Karen, setting it in front of her. He slid into the other side of the booth. The smell of the hot cocoa filled the space quickly. “You can say no to this idea.”

She tilted her head back and shook the hair out of her face before sipping at the cup. “I’m doing some temp accounting work at a non-profit. I don’t even think they’d miss me if I left. And I’d love to get away from town. Everywhere I go, I see Mom. But we’d have to set ground rules, Dad.” Karen studied his eyes.

Pete saw her eyes were slightly wet. Red circles surrounded each one, and the skin was puffy. Too much crying.

“We haven’t spent much time with each other. I don’t know how it would work,” she said.

“I don’t know either, but let’s try.”

“You’ve said that before and then you don’t follow through.”

“Guilty. I don’t know what to tell you except that I’ll try harder.”


“Hey, this parent/child, er, adult, thing is a two-way street, you know. You’ve got some responsibility in this also.”

“I suppose.” Her eyes widened, and she opened her mouth but nothing came out. Relaxing her shoulders, Karen said, “Uh, I don’t have much money right now. I could pay you back.”

Pete bobbed his head to one side to dismiss her concern. “Sure. We’ll work it out. The bank will pay my way for the investigation work.”

“Perfect.” Karen pushed the cup to one side and drew her finger across the table. “This is my basic rule. If things get really bad between us, I can bail on the whole thing. Go on safari myself. No questions asked.”


“Okay.” She leaned back against the wooden booth. A smile crossed her face, tentative but strong. “I have to admit, the idea of escaping all this shit is attractive.”

Warmth spread from Pete’s face down into his chest. “We’re all we have now, Karen. I’m hoping this will be a chance to work together to help each other get through it.”

She sighed. “We can always try.”

Chapter Three

He was a short man, stringy and loose in the limbs and in the way he walked. Calm. Most people called him Swart—a fake name. Probably only his mother knew the man’s true name.

He rode a taxi to West Quay Road and stopped at the southern corner of the Alfred Basin in Cape Town. He planned to walk along the concrete dock that sheltered cargo ships from all over the world while he made a last-minute check.

He’d taken this assignment to kill a man two months ago.

But this job would be tougher than usual. The doubts returned—could he do it this time?

Swart turned to the right at the end of the basin and crossed two more docks to reach the larger Victoria Basin, named after the queen of England who had once visited this same harbor. Chains clanked as the ships rocked with the tide. He noticed everyone that passed him. Mostly sailors and laborers that transferred cargo day after day. Lots of tourists. Swart smelled the diesel stink from a passing ship.

He was an Afrikaner—a descendent of the Dutch, who were the original European settlers sent by the Dutch East India Company in 1652. They called the town Kaapcolonie, or Cape Colony. They purposely kept themselves separate from the local black population and had even developed their own language, Afrikaans, which was a patois of Dutch, English, and tribal words.

Swart had been raised in Stellenbosch, a predominantly Afrikaner suburb of Cape Town, but had received his military training when he enlisted with the SOCOMD, the Special Operations Command of the Australian Defense Force—something that had sounded exciting at the time. He’d received his arms training with the Tactical Assault Group (West). It was because of that skill he was walking along the dock toward Victoria Basin. After his honorable discharge from the Command, Swart had, like so many out-of-work soldiers, gone into private contracting.

A week earlier, Swart had rented a small loft apartment that overlooked the Basin. It was an area saturated with artists, galleries, studios, and tourists. His cover as a painter worked well even down to his paint-splotched hands, with different colors that he applied each day.

The apartment had been chosen specifically. It offered cover, a wide range of shooting lanes, accessibility, and several escape routes. Swart’s employer had identified a snitch who needed to disappear. Surprisingly, Swart’s request for the employer to pay the exorbitant rent had been granted without question, as had his fee. Swart had also insisted on purchasing top-quality equipment. Agreed. The target must present a huge threat to the employer.

His choice for equipment had been the McMillan Tac 50-A1-R2 rifle. He liked it because it reduced the peak recoil from a 50 BMG cartridge by 90%, and it had a twenty-nine-inch barrel for better accuracy. It broke down into five easy-to-conceal parts, including the bipod support for a steadier aim.

Swart had taken his time to shepherd each piece, one at a time, into the apartment. They were all hidden there now. His job today was to scout the escape routes one more time. Successful missions were the result of meticulous planning for any contingency that might occur.

He circled around Dock Road among the busy traffic and skirted the new amphitheater. The tourists were always heavy in this area—something Swart might need later to provide cover and distraction in the event of an escape.

Swart came out on the southwestern side of the harbor. Ahead of him, two long docks jutted into the bay before it emptied into the larger Table Bay and, eventually, to the Atlantic Ocean. He followed the dock that ran beside a two-story warehouse. It had a green roof, and rust streaks ran down the sides of the steel walls. On the top floor, old shipping offices had been converted to lofts and studios charging outlandish rents. He had rented the one on the end for over 50,000 rand per month—or about 4,000 U.S. dollars.

Swart climbed the iron stairs to the second floor, turned into a hallway that ran the length of the warehouse, and walked to his room. He had insisted the landlord change the two locks, which had been done. Swart unlocked them and stepped inside. At the corner, paned windows looked out on a magnificent sight.

The square harbor accommodated ships of all sizes from hundreds of countries, shouldered together to trade and do business with Cape Town. They came in colors that identified each one. The gaudiest one was from Qatar in the Middle East. From the high prow backward along the length of the boat, wide layers of green and red paint shone in the sun but were outdone by the shining gold-covered trappings on the deck.

Cranes lifted pallets out of the ships’ holds. Cables creaked as the cranes bent to their work. Gulls swooped among them, playing with the wind.

Swart pulled up a chair facing backward to the window. He kneeled in the seat and lifted his head. Blonde hair fell over his forehead. The boat was still there. Large, black hull with white toppings. Red stacks. North side of first dock. Next to Swart was the iPad. It contained the photos he’d been supplied identifying the target, taken from several angles. Every afternoon the target would leave his post at the same time, using three ladders to climb down from the upper decks.

Swart reached over to lift the McMillan off the sofa. He nestled the stock next to his face. It felt cool and smelled faintly of gun oil. Through the scope, he lined up the red stacks on the boat. He lifted the barrel a millimeter to look past them to a set of steel ladders that connected the second deck to the third. He could make out the peeling paint on the handles. But there was a problem.

From this angle, Swart had one of the toughest shots of his career. It was like a three-point shot in basketball, only over a much longer distance. He had to get the bullet up over the stacks, drop it down to the deck quickly at the level of the second ladder, then get it into the target’s back as he climbed down. Of course, gravity would pull the bullet down after it cleared the stacks. The scope was adjusted to compensate for that fact. But Swart needed gravity to help more than usual. He clicked up the scope’s level and hoped to hell the bullet had enough velocity to clear the obstacles before dropping into the target. Swart couldn’t fail. It wasn’t the money; it was his pride.

He set the rifle on the sofa and stood up and arched backward to stretch.

Looking at his watch, Swart realized by tomorrow at this time he’d be done. He squinted up through the windows. Sun would be a slight issue. He took time to disassemble the rifle, nestle it into the velvet of the case, and slide it under the sofa. Swart backed up and studied the angles again. He could pull it off.

Think positive, he thought. Chip shot for you, old man.

Swart forced a smile, stepped to the door, and glanced around the room. Yellow light came through the windows in bright squares that slid lower against the far wall as the sun set.


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