Warren Murphy: Last Drop

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    Last Drop
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It's enough to give a drug pusher nightmares: thousands upon thousands of sober citizens are suddenly turning on and dropping out-for-free-and the illicit narcotics business has ground to a halt. Under other circumstances, the pushers' plight would be cause for official celebration. But this time Washington's good and worried. And when the rock-ribbed Harold W. Smith, head of the supersecret agency CURE, knuckles under to the first buzz of his life, it's clearly time for Remo and Chiun to take matters into their own hands. Trouble is, Remo's suffering a mid-life career crisis, and he's flirting with retirement... With the backbone of America melting into Silly Putty, will the land of the free be transformed into the land of the Lotus-Eaters? It's a loaded question, and the answer lies with an 80 year old Korean assassin and his rebellious pupil...

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Last Drop

The Destroyer #54

by Richard Sapir & Warren Murphy

Copyright © 1983

by Richard Sapir & Warren Murphy

All rights reserved.

Last Drop

A Peanut Press Book

Published by

peanutpress.com, Inc.

www.peanutpress.com

ISBN: 0-7408-0577-0

First Peanut Press Edition

This edition published by

arrangement with

Boondock Books

www.boondockbooks.com

for Jeannie

?Chapter One

When Leith Blake was sent home from school, he didn't know he was the harbinger of a national epidemic that would make the Black Plague look like a mild case of zits by comparison. He only thought he was stoned.

It was a fair assumption. He'd consumed five Seconals, three Tuinols, a handful of Quaaludes, and approximately a half-ounce of marijuana before breakfast. All in all, Leith felt pretty much the same as he had on every other schoolday morning since his twelfth birthday four years before.

He wasn't sent home for illness. Once every couple of months, when the faculty of the Southern Palm Beach Preparatory Academy felt like partying, a schoolwide drug inspection was held. The goods were confiscated, and the offenders sent home. Then, having cleared out the entire student body, the faculty was free to get blasted on their own without the bothersome interruption of teaching. It was a good system. Palm Prep knew how to keep morale high.

Leith staggered in through the colonnaded portals of his family's Palladian mansion. "Hi, Mom," he said as he passed the yellow satin bedroom where his mother, dressed in an ostrich boa and pearls, diddled the wife of a frozen-foods magnate while she snorted a line of cocaine.

"Aren't you supposed to be in school or something?" Mrs. Blake asked. Her son mumbled something, but the response was lost in the shrieks emitted by the frozen-foods queen as she writhed in ecstasy.

"What's that, dear?" Mrs. Blake said, popping a handful of Valium.

"Got sent home."

"For what?" Leith's mother rasped while lighting a bong of hashish.

Leith walked over to the bed and slogged a fistful of barbiturates into his gullet. "Drugs," he said phlegmatically. The frozen-foods lady tweaked the zipper on his jeans.

"Drugs again," sighed Mrs. Blake, shaking her head. "Honestly, these kids today. What's the world coming to, I'd like to know."

"Mff," replied her companion as she tilted a bottle of champagne to her lips.

"Your father will have to be told, of course."

"Yeah."

Big deal, Leith thought. His father, hotshot of the Miami business scene, got as shitfaced as his mother did. Both of them could out-consume Leith hands down. He shambled away toward the kitchen. He wanted a cup of coffee.

Funny, he thought. His bedroom was stocked with enough drugs to put Squibb out of business, but all the pills and powders and assorted mind and mood elevators seemed old hat now. What he really wanted— no, not wanted, but needed, craved, longed for— was a good steaming cup of black coffee.

Well, he supposed the school guidance counselors had been right when they'd told him that his various drug habits were a passing phase. He would miss the good old days of his early teens. Even now the memory of stumbling down the street, crashing headfirst into his locker each morning, lying supine on the floor in English class and wrecking the family Mercedes every weekend were passing into misty nostalgia.

Yes, he would miss those times. But for now, he had to get a cup of coffee down his throat before he killed somebody.

Growing up was hell.

Forty miles away in downtown Miami, Leith's father, Drexel Armistead Blake, strode confidently into the board room of International Imports. He was the chairman of the board, and had prepared a brief statement to read to the other members. Rather, his secretary, the loyal but homely Harriet Holmes had prepared it while Blake was defending the company's honor against the president of a rival importing firm on the racquet ball courts.

The report didn't look too difficult. Blake had cautioned Miss Holmes against using too many words of more than one syllable, lest he lose the attention of the other board members. They understood how rough it was to read all those big words when you had a heavy golf game waiting.

He scanned the two typewritten pages. They looked all right. All the words he was supposed to stress were underlined, and Miss Holmes had left blanks in the spots where he was supposed to pause. He could get through it in ten minutes.

Blake nodded cordially to Miss Holmes, who was serving coffee to the members of the board.

Harriet Holmes blushed. Mr. Blake's brief nod was all the thanks she required. Beaming, she poured the steaming coffee from the silver server into the cups set before the twelve illustrious men at the table.

"Delicious, Harriet," a distinguished white-haired man said. He was a millionaire many times over.

"Perfect coffee," agreed another gentleman. He was the head of the Miami Philanthropic Society. He had dined at the White House.

"Thank you," Harriet said meekly. The big ones, the really successful men, always appreciated small things. She sat down on her stool in the corner to take down the minutes of the meeting in flawless shorthand.

"Gentlemen," Blake began.

"Freaking fantastic," blurted the head of the Miami Philanthropic Society.

"I beg your pardon?" Blake asked from the head of the table.

"The coffee," Miami Philanthropic roared, crashing the cup in his hand onto its saucer with a splinter of shattering porcelain. "Let's have some more, damn it."

"Of course, sir," Harriet said, rising quickly.

"A blast over here, too," demanded the distinguished white-haired gentleman who, to Harriet's dismay, was languidly scratching his privates.

"Hey, babe," shouted a little balding fellow toward the far end of the table.

Harriet worked like a dervish replenishing the empty cups as her boss tried valiantly to begin his speech.

"Gentlemen, our quarterly profit scheme—"

"Where's the frigging coffee?"

"I'm making a fresh pot, sir," came Harriet's meek voice from the doorway.

"The quarterly profits—"

"Screw the profits. Bring on the java."

"Gentlemen—"

"Soak your head, Blake," the balding fellow advised while assiduously picking his nose. The remark was met with loud guffaws from around the table.

Blake took in the scene with calm despair. The twelve men at the table, normally as hurried and brisk as he was, sat lounging and jawing like a bunch of Sunday picnickers, their jackets off, their ties hung in loopy lassos around their necks. Two or three of them were so relaxed, they were actually nodding off.

"Gentlemen..." Blake tried again.

The man from Miami Philanthropic blew a Bronx cheer.

With a sigh of resignation, Blake sat down and sipped at his cold coffee. Golf was rapidly becoming a thing of fantasy. Nine holes, maybe, if he could clear out this bunch of coffee klatchers within a half-hour.

The coffee. It wasn't bad at that. He took another sip. No question about it, that Harriet certainly knew how to start off the morning.

"Damn, that's good," he said after licking the last drop out of the cup with his tongue.

"No shit," the white-haired millionaire said, blowing his nose with a honk into a monogrammed linen handkerchief.

"Where's Harriet?" he yelled. The others took up the chant.

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