Warren Murphy: Blood Ties

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The Guru of Garbage Lyle Lavellette was known to some as Detroit's maverick genius, and to others as the biggest gasbag the auto city had ever seen. But now this golden-tongued tycoon had proved his critics wrong by producing a car that could free Americans from the oily grip of OPEC. His new car would run on compressed garbage and consign all other carmakers to the refuse heap. When a deadly assassin is sent to throw a bloody monkey wrench into Lavellette's odiferous enterprise, the Destroyer and his Oriental mentor Chiun are sent in to stop the slaying-only to find out that the name of the mysterious hit man was Remo Williams. Remo Williams? The one man the Destroyer could not destroy!

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Destroyer 69: Blood Ties

By Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir


Chiun, reigning Master of Sinanju, aged head of an ancient house of assassins that had served the world's rulers since before the time of Christ, said wearily, "I am confused."

"I knew if I waited long enough, you would come around to my way of thinking," said Remo Williams, his pupil.

"Silence, white thing. Why is it that everything must be a joke with you?"

"I wasn't joking," Remo said.

"I will speak to you at another time when you can manage to keep a civil tongue in your ugly head," Chiun said.

"Suit yourself," Remo wanted to say. But he knew that if he said that, his life would be made miserable and he would still wind up listening to what it was that had confused Chiun. So instead he said, "Forgive me, Little Father. What is it that has you confused?"

"Very well," Chiun said. "I do not understand about Aids."

"What don't you understand?" Remo said.

"If Aids is so terrible, why does everyone want to have Aids?" Chiun asked.

"I don't know of a single person who wants to have Aids," Remo said.

"Don't tell me that. You think I am a fool? People are always getting together to have Aids. I have seen it many times with my own eyes."

"Now, I'm confused," Remo said.

"With my own eyes," Chiun insisted. "On television, often interfering with regular programming. All these famous, fat, ugly people running around, singing and dancing for Aids."

Remo thought about this for a long time while Chiun drummed his long fingernails on the high-polished wood floor in the living room of their hotel suite.

Finally, Remo said, "You mean things like Live Aid and Farm Aid and Rock Aid?"

"Exactly. Aids," Chiun said.

"Chiun, those have nothing to do with Aids, the disease. Those are concerts to raise money for the poor and hungry."

It was Chiun's turn to ponder. Then he said, "Who are these poor and hungry?"

"Many people," Remo said. "In America and around the world, poor people without enough to eat. Poor people who don't even have clothes to wear."

"You say America. You have such poor in America?" Chiun said suspiciously.

"Yes. Some," Remo said.

"I don't believe it. Never have I seen a nation which wasted more on less. There are no poor in America."

"Yes, there are," Remo said.

Chiun shook his head. "I will never believe that," he said. He turned toward the window. "I could tell you about poor. In the olden days . . . " And because Remo knew he was now going to get for the thousandth time the story of how the village of Sinanju in North Korea was so poor its men were forced to hire themselves out as assassins, Remo sneaked out the hotel-room door.

* * *

When he came back, he paused in the hotel hallway outside the door to their suite. From inside, he heard a sobbing sound. Even softer than that, he heard singing.

He opened the unlocked door. Chiun sat on a tatami mat in front of the television set. He looked up at Remo, tears glistening in his hazel eyes.

"I finally understand, Remo," he said.

"Understand what, Little Father?"

"What you were talking about. What a terrible problem poverty and hunger are in the United States."

He pointed to the television set where a man was singing. "Look at that poor man," Chiun said. "He cannot even afford trousers which are not torn. He must wear rags around his head. He probably cannot afford a haircut or even soap, and yet he keeps trying to sing through the pain of it all. Oh, the terrible pervasiveness of poverty in this evil, uncaring land. Oh, the majesty of that poor man trying to bear up under it."

Thus Chiun lamented.

Remo said, "Little Father, that's Willie Nelson."

"Hail, Nelson," Chiun said, brushing away a tear. "Hail, the brave and indomitable poor man."

"Willie Nelson, for your information, is rich enough to buy most of America," Remo said.

Chiun's head snapped toward Remo. "What?"

"He's a singer. He's very rich."

"Why is he dressed in rags?"

Remo shrugged. "This is Farm Aid. It's a concert to raise money for farmers," he said.

Chiun examined the singer on television again. "Perhaps he would be delighted to have a concert for something that will ensure this dirty thing"---he waved at the television set-"a place of honor in the history of the world. "

"I'm waiting," Remo said.

"Assassin Aid," Chiun said. "This creature can present a concert with the proceeds to go to me."

"Good plan," Remo said.

"I am glad you think so," Chiun said. "I will leave it to you to make all the arrangements."

"Gee, Little Father," Remo said. "I would love to." Chiun looked at him suspiciously. "But unfortunately I called Smith while I was out and he has an assignment for me. "

Chiun dismissed it with a wave of his hand. "A mere trifle," he said. "Assassin Aid. Now this is a major thing."

"We'll talk about it when I get back," Remo said. When he left the suite, he heard Chiun yelling to him. "A concert. And I will recite a poem, an Ung poem, written especially for the occasion. 'Hail, Nellie Wilson, Savior of the Poor.' He will love it."

"Why me, God?" Remo mumbled.

Chapter 1

Maria had a gift. Others might have called it a talent or a power, but Maria was a religious woman, a devout Catholic who took Communion every day at St. Devin's Church and she believed that all good things came from God. To Maria, her ability to see into the future was just simply a gift from the Almighty.

The gift had saved her life once before. And as she pulled away from the florist's shop with a bouquet of spring flowers on the seat beside her, it was about to save her life again.

But not for long.

Maria drove with a string of black rosary beads clutched between her right hand and the steering wheel. She kept looking into the rearview mirror for the silver sedan she half-expected to be following her and when it was not there, she exhaled a sigh, whispered a quick "Hail Mary" and counted off another bead on the rosary that had belonged to her mother, and to her mother before her, back in Palermo, back in the old country.

I never should have confronted him, she thought. I should have gone straight to the police.

Maria was almost out of Newark when she had the vision. There was a quiet intersection ahead and suddenly Maria felt light-headed. Her field of vision turned a flat gray and then there were the familiar thin black crisscrossing lines she had seen so many times before and never understood. She braked to a stop. When her vision cleared an instant later, she saw the intersection again-but not as it was. She saw it as it would be.

There was the little Honda she was driving. Maria could see it as it approached the intersection, paused, and started through. It never reached the other side. The car was obliterated by a monster of a tractor trailer which rolled right through the car before skidding to a stop. Maria saw a hand sticking out of the shattered windshield of the small car and with a sick shock she recognized the black rosary entwined in the lifeless fingers. Her lifeless fingers.

As the vision faded, Maria pulled over to the side of the road and parked. A metallic-gold van passed her, heading toward the intersection. She had only seconds to bury her head in the steering wheel before the chilling squeal of brakes forced her head up.

Ahead, the van slewed to a ragged stop, then spun around. There came a dull crump as the trailer, the same one she had seen in her vision, sideswiped the van's front end and roared on.

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