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Mojave Winds
Mojave Winds
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Mark gives an overview of the book:

He returned to his country, his hollowed out soul gnawing away at him, until love floated in on Mojave Winds. A Mid-Western kid ships off to serve his country. Kris Klug comes back a man looking for a job. He counts on his Uncle Fred as a bridge back to the civilian world. He yearns for simple, peaceful living. After meeting up with his Uncle Fred for a job in his trucking outfit hauling goods between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Klug discovers an underworld where thugs and cokeheads snare him and dump him in the Mojave. With gangsters at his heels, Klug sinks into his darkest hour. Love comes his way when he least expects to survive. Mojave Winds carry the devil's breath and maybe, just maybe, an angel's mercy.
Read full overview »

He returned to his country, his hollowed out soul gnawing away at him, until love floated in on Mojave Winds.

A Mid-Western kid ships off to serve his country. Kris Klug comes back a man looking for a job. He counts on his Uncle Fred as a bridge back to the civilian world. He yearns for simple, peaceful living.

After meeting up with his Uncle Fred for a job in his trucking outfit hauling goods between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Klug discovers an underworld where thugs and cokeheads snare him and dump him in the Mojave.

With gangsters at his heels, Klug sinks into his darkest hour. Love comes his way when he least expects to survive. Mojave Winds carry the devil's breath and maybe, just maybe, an angel's mercy.

Read an excerpt »

Prologue Four Years after September 11 Day after day, he went to work in a city wherehundreds of bodies littered empty lots. KrisKlug kept a mental note of how the graffi ti evolved on the wallsof buildings in green or black paint—things like AVENUE OFDEATH, others scrawled in Arabic: INFIDELS GET OUT or NOOIL FOR AMERICA. In these neighborhoods, the mosques hadbecome mini-fortresses with sandbagged rooftop-fi ghting positions.Trash fi lled the streets, which were closed off by makeshiftbarriers of palm tree stumps, cinder blocks, and barbed wire. Aftermore than a year in Afghanistan and more than a year of thiswork in the cesspool called Iraq, Kris began to wonder where itwas going. Sergeant Kris Klug, Green Beret, team leader, that’s who hewas, and how he saw himself, at least until it ended. He oftenwrote home to his Uncle Fred, one of his only remaining family,about how Baghdad in August bred nasty thoughts and badhumor. Outside it was 120º Fahrenheit. Inside a Stryker armoredtruck, temperatures rose to 130º, sometimes 140º. Th e regulargrunts who manned the Strykers sweated as though they cookedin a kettle. Th eir pants showed damp marks wherever theybrushed against their skin. Sweat collected in their goggles anddripped off their mustaches. Hot desert winds would often waft up thick dark gray cloudsof sand and blast everything. During the sandstorms war wouldstop but the heat intensifi ed—it balled up in a fi st and no onecould go about the business of killing and looting. The civil war had already begun, just that nobody admitted it. The first neighborhood they secured was Ghazaliya, a Sunni areain western Baghdad. Kris’s team was the fi rst to enter the area and feed informationback for the Stryker teams. Sunnis had always been hostileto the U.S. presence. Some seemed suspiciously happy to seeAmericans. It was the fi rst time in weeks they’d been able to openup their stores and walk outside. Yet they always kept an eeriedistance. Even when they exchanged a cigarette or some othersocial gesture a gulf separated them. Th e gap between the occupiersand the occupied dried into a crusty, palpable layer ofdistrust and resentment. Some Iraqis would come outside, lookingpale and blinking in the bright sunlight. Houses stood empty,and the stench and sludge of sewage spewed through the streetswhere the upper crust of Iraqi society once prospered. Kris’s unit moved in the shadows and passed enough informationto the Stryker teams, the grunts, so they could move inand hit the right priorities. In three mosques the grunts had uncoveredweapons used to attack Americans and Shiites. In theAl-Sadiq mosque, used by the Iraqi Islamic Party, they foundIED’s buried in the courtyard and mortars hidden in the minarets. The beauty of the ornate mosaics in the mosques coulddeceive one into calm, spiritual thoughts. At one Sunni mosquethey discovered a beheading knife. They rummaged through theIraqi Islamic Party’s headquarters where sandbags and fi rst-aidkits covered bombs. Th ey found coffi ns used to smuggle weaponsand documents detailing how the IIP was running death squads.For the Army grunts, today was diff erent. They received ordersto work directly with a special-forces team. Kris knew thiswould help boost morale, that’s why he nudged his commandersfor it. At 0500, he met with the squad leaders. “We’re going in totake a suspect, a former general of the Fedayeen Army. We’vegathered intelligence proving that he’s organizing attacks. Th emission’s code name is Ruby.” “What’s the code for after we’ve got Ruby?” One of the squadleaders took off his helmet and rubbed the top of his scalp.“Cucamonga,” Kris responded and watched the Strykers driveout of the forward base to their rendezvous spot near the pointof operation. The Army gunner squad waited in their Strykers on the sideof the road near empty lots. Birds worked over the bodies of deadIraqis that lay there in the early morning, victims of historicalblunders. Th e sight and stench of rot made one soldier puke soloud it scared one of the vultures off from a good meal.Kris’s team drove in a beat up minivan, looking like a groupof average Iraqis on their way to work. Th e guys in the Strykersdropped the back ramp to talk. In awe of the Special Forces, thegrunts eagerly off ered cigarettes and conversation—but no timefor that. Although Kris hid his emotions well, his stomach leaped intohis throat as he exited the dirty vehicle and walked up to talkwith the platoon sergeant. “It’s a go.” He scratched his beardedchin and gave the signal to his team to deploy. Th ey disappearedsilently on foot up an alley behind a group of crumbling housesbuilt from grey cinder blocks. Adrenaline rushed through hisveins and he seemed to walk a little above the ground. The Stryker teams took position. Their role was to stand guardand provide backup in case anything went sour. They parked theStrykers in a muddy fi eld covered with garbage and dismountedfrom the armored vehicles. The neighborhood dogs immediatelystarted barking at them. Ropes and wooden braces propped up many of the houses.Th e entire neighborhood had fallen into decay. It bordered onthe notorious Ghazaliya area. Kris’s team was already behind“Ruby’s” house. Maybe it was the barking. Or the presence of the Army squadswalking down the street. By the time the Stryker squad approachedthe front of Ruby’s house, the man had already scrambled out thefront, grabbed a woman walking with a little girl, and held a gunto the woman’s head. Ruby used them as shields from the Strykersquad while the woman cried and clung to her little girl.Looking all the way through the house’s windows from theback alley to the street, Kris could see that the squad took positionsalong the curb, in front of the house,. There was nothingthey could do. If they approached Ruby or tried to take a shot athim, they jeopardized the panic-stricken woman and her girl.Kris and his team had already scrambled into the house silentlythrough the back door. He could see Ruby walking slowlyup the street away from the house while holding the hostages infront of him. One of Ruby’s bodyguards bolted out of the house,fl eeing Kris’s team. Th e man pulled a Makarov 9mm pistol andtook a shot at one of the soldiers, who fell to the ground, bloodspilling from his face. Aw shit. Enough of this crap. He felt his guttie into a knot when he saw his guys getting hit. Kris bolted to the front door, looking for a clear angle. Th ecommotion woke up neighbors where fl ickering gaslights went onin some of the houses, even though the sun had begun to rise. Hestood frozen in the doorframe, adrenaline coursing through him.He raised his M16 to his shoulder. First he put a bullet square inthe middle of the bodyguard’s back before the man could squeezeoff another shot. Then he turned to Ruby. Th e only clear shot he had at himwas the man’s left shoulder, farthest away from the woman andchild. He had to shoot now that he’d drawn attention. In the blinkof an eye, he bent his knees, steadied himself against the doorframe,seized the moment, and pulled the trigger. The force ofthe shot spun Ruby around and laid him out on the cobblestonestreet. Kris jumped on him, folded his knee on the back of hisneck and fl attened him to the ground. Th e woman ran away withthe little girl in her arms as the smell of gun smoke scented themorning air. Small explosions went off inside the house. Kris pinned Rubyface down and tightened plastic restrainers around his wrists.He heard thrashing and yelling from inside the house. His teamwas clearing the building of Ruby’s own guards. Th en the minivandrove up to where Kris stood. Another one of Ruby’s guardsstormed out of the front door, fi ring an automatic pistol at Krisand the gunner teams.
The Stryker teams returned fi re and the guard fell within seconds.A bullet struck the ground near Kris, ricocheted through hisleft shoulder and clipped off part of his ear. Larry Larson, anothermember in the team, grabbed Ruby and freed Kris to gethelp for his wound. A medic pulled him into one of the Strykers, where he couldgive him some fi rst aid. He was not seriously injured but neededto go to the hospital to check against infection and patch up whatwas left of his ear. Kris wasn’t even winded, although his insides chilled as theadrenaline fl ames turned into nervous ice and the cold sweatwas always there and unwelcome after a mission. He steppedmechanically through the mission sequence and called out the“Cucamonga” message over the Icom radio. He switched to theminivan he’d come in. It was all over in fi fteen minutes.Everyone loaded up and rolled out with the dead bodyguardswho had tried to defend their leader. Next to Kris, Larson seated Ruby who wore a grey man-dress.and now sported a blue gunnysack over his head. “Scoot your fatbutt over!” Larson jabbed Ruby in the ribs with his fi st. “We’regoing to give you some payback for September 11.” Kris thought to say how the guy was probably just as surprisedabout September 11. Iraqis had nothing to do with terrorists,at least until we’d invaded the country. But he said nothing.Whatever, he thought. He simply held pressure to the gauze thatthe medic had taped to his ear. Damn that hurt. Just another dayin this hellhole Iraq.

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About Mark

Mark Biskeborn is the author of novels:
Mojave Winds , a novel.
...

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