As the packed commuter train pulled into Grand Central Station, the
people onboard waited impatiently to get the hell off the overcrowded
train and reclaim their personal space. Throngs of people overtook the
station. Some ran, pushing their way through the molasses-thick crowd to
get to another platform. Others climbed the escalators and stairs to get
to the street, where taxis waited in a line like vultures.
The last to leave the now-empty train was the tall, medium-built man
known as Boar. Boar was a hired killer. His name came to him because of
the brutality he inflicted on the person or persons he was hired to
kill. No one knew his real name, except for him and his parents, who
died many years ago in brutal retaliation for a job he’d done. The
revenge Boar exacted on the men who murdered them was tenfold.
Unlike other assassins, who took any job whether the target was guilty
or not, Boar only went after those who victimized others. Mobsters, drug
dealers, murderers, rapists, kidnappers and child molesters. He was
hired by the families of the victims who wanted more than just to see
them behind bars. For the pain and grief they suffered from the loss of
their loved ones, these families wanted more.
That’s where Boar came in. He weighed the evidence on each individual,
and if he decided they should die for the evil they did, he hunted them
down like wild animals, then tortured and killed them. Another job done,
payment made, and then move on. Money, he had. His job, he loved. By
ridding the country of scum, Boar felt like a hero to the countless
victims who never had a choice, or a chance. He was their . . . justice.
Boar’s jobs came from silent sources. He met the person who wanted the
job done. They gave him the info, he told them his price. Even if they
couldn’t come up with all the money, he did the job anyway. That was
Wearing dark sunglasses, a baseball cap pulled down over his bald scalp,
jeans and a sweater covered by a long trench coat, Boar hurried through
the moving crowd and exited the station through a set of revolving
doors. From time to time, someone jostled the briefcase he carried under
his arm, but he held it firm. Outside, a taxi was waiting on the hot
spot. He opened the passenger door and got in.
The old Polish cab driver looked at him strangely. He was used to fares
getting into the backseat, not the front. He cracked a smile. “Where
“Drive. I’ll let you know when we get there.” Boar flicked a
hundred-dollar bill between his fingers toward the cab driver.
The driver glanced at the money, then at the man as he pulled away from
the curb. “Sorry. I can’t take that.”
Boar took off his sunglasses, folded them and stuck them in his coat
“Because I work for my money. I don’t need handouts.”
Boar grinned, folded the bill, reached over and shoved it into the
man’s shirt pocket. “You’re a good man. Take it.”
The man turned his eyes to the road while he slipped the bill out of his
pocket and unfolded it. He stared at it, then at the road, turning the
steering wheel as he maneuvered through traffic.
“What’s wrong?” Boar asked.
“Just checking to see if it’s real.”
Boar laughed. Years of dealing with people from all lifestyles gave him
a knack for judging a person’s character. The cabbie was in his good
Half an hour later, a cold autumn shower blanketed the city. The cab
came speeding down a hill, dipped under an underpass and bolted up the
hill until it was on level ground, screeching to a halt in the parking
lot of Little Rise Diner. Boar stepped into the pouring rain and began
walking. But he didn’t approach the diner’s entrance. Instead, he
headed for a black Cadillac Escalade, its engine still running. Once
seated in the front passenger side, he peeled off his cap and placed the
briefcase on the backseat, then looked over at the hulking figure
sitting behind the wheel. “How’s it going, Brute?” Brute was short
Bruno shook his head while chomping into his jelly donut. His
“Good,” came out as Gwoof! He was the same height as Boar, but
chubbier, with a rounded face and flat nose. The strength in his massive
arms was deadly. Boar knew this, and liked him for his cool, yet brutal
demeanor. Bruno was a key man in his operation, trusted and respected.
Now, Bruno would become an even bigger player in the hunt for Boar’s
As he took the last bite of his donut, Bruno pointed to a green folder
on the dashboard. Boar grabbed it and shuffled through its contents:
newspaper clippings and photographs of the man he was after.
Bruno smacked his lips, licked the excess jelly off his thick fingers,
took a sip of his lukewarm coffee and sighed. “It’s all there.”
Boar closed the folder and glanced outside at the rain pummeling the
vehicle. “Where’s Riley?”
Bruno nodded toward the diner. “He’s jumpy little man, always
peering over his shoulders.”
Boar shrugged. “Do you blame him?”
“Boar, you know as well as I do that he might be a phony,” Bruno
said. “Fifty grand? And then he skips and leaves us with shit for
Boar smiled. “You’re too skeptical, Bruno. The old lady said he
sounded genuine. Let’s go see.”
Bruno reached under his jacket and pulled out a chrome-plated .357
Desert Eagle, cocked the hammer and grinned in Boar’s direction.
Boar laughed. “What’re you gonna do with that cannon?”
“You’re asking me?” Bruno shook the weapon in his hand. “What
are we? Boy Scouts?”
“Just keep that shit hidden,” Boar ordered. “I don’t want
someone to see it. They’ll think we’re in there to hold up the
place. So downplay that shit.”
Bruno nodded, flipped back the safety and slid the weapon into a side
compartment on the door, then took out a .38 caliber revolver. He sucked
his teeth in annoyance as he tucked the revolver inside his jacket.
“And I just picked that Eagle up yesterday.”
“Hey, at least you’re armed,” Boar said. “The less attention,
the better.” He opened the door and exited the car, but left the
folder and his briefcase on the backseat.
Boar turned back.
“You’re armed, right?”
“Whether I am or not, I’m not concerned.”
Bruno nodded, exited the vehicle and switched on the alarm on his 2006
Escalade. He loved the car, just like he loved the man he worked
for—in a weird way. More than the man, Bruno loved Boar’s cool
bad-assness. They’d been friends for many years and partners for five
of those. After his mother passed away, Bruno moved out of Cornish,
Alabama to the city, looking for Boar. After many weeks of searching, he
found him, and began his life as a hired killer’s accomplice. Where
they were now was very different from the impoverished life they knew
growing up in the Deep South. Hunting men for money was something he
took a liking to the day he started. ‘Ridding the world of scum’ was
how Boar looked at it, so that was the way he looked at it, too. He had
learned from his informants, an ever-growing list, that “If death
don’t get you, sooner or later, Boar will.” Hearing those words made
Bruno proud to be on Boar’s team.
Bruno hustled after Boar into the diner, where they shook the water off
their jackets. Inside, a thin, pale woman dressed in a blue-and-white
uniform stood behind an L-shaped counter that ran the full length of the
diner. The illuminated menu hung above her. Three trucker-types sat at
the counter on cushioned stools. Along the windows were back-to-back red
leather sofa-sized booths. A man sporting a buzz-cut, his back turned to
Boar and Bruno, occupied the one farthest away from where they stood.
The waitress saw them and smiled. The three truckers looked up, and then
went back to eating. Boar walked past all of them and toward the man
seated alone, but Bruno lingered at the counter, peering at the days
special. He’d just had a donut and coffee, but he still felt hungry.
“What can I get you, big fellah?” asked the waitress. Creases around
her eyes and mouth made her look haggard. Lipsticked lips and too much
makeup didn’t help. But Bruno paid it no mind, just ordered the
day’s special and a jug of beer.
Boar slid into the seat and stared at the fellow before him. The man’s
eyes were sunken, and his thick moustache, hooked nose and hard face
made him look near-death.
The man stretched out a grubby-looking hand and motioned toward Boar’s
jacket. “You’ve got the money?” he whispered.
“Money?” Boar said. “Info first, then half—if it pans out.”
The man rubbed his head, and then brought his hand back to the table.
“It took a lot for me to do this.”
Bruno sauntered up to the table then. “Move over, Riley.”
Riley looked up at the towering figure; with a sigh, he scooted over and
allowed Bruno to plant his big frame next to him.
“You ordered?” Boar asked.
“Yeah, it’ll be here soon,” Bruno replied, looking over at Riley,
who cowered in the corner of the booth.
Boar sighed and folded his arms over his barrel chest. “Well, Mr.
Riley, what you got for us?”
Riley looked at them, fixed his jacket and moved in closer. “You know
this will cost one hundred grand.”
Boar dipped into his jacket, pulled out a folded envelope and dropped it
on the table.
Riley’s eyes grew wide. He reached out for it but Bruno stopped him by
slapping Riley’s hand. The man yelped and yanked his hand away.
The waitress strolled over bearing a steaming mountain of spaghetti
covered in meatballs and sauce. She placed the plate and a jug of
foaming beer on the table before Bruno and smiled. “Anything for your
Boar shook his head. Riley, nursing his wounded left hand, waved her
“Man, you’re going to eat all that?” Boar asked.
Bruno smiled. “Sure! I’m hungry. But not yet.” He shot a glance at
Riley. “Talk or we walk—with my food packed, and the money.”
Riley swallowed, then reached into his pocket, took out a folded sheet
of paper and unfolded it. Boar and Bruno leaned forward, looking at the
paper and the hurried, penciled drawing.
“Before you go in,” Riley said, “you need to contact a man called
Marco. He’s the head of the Keepers.”
“Keeper?” Bruno asked.
Riley nodded. “That’s what he calls his guards. Keepers. It’s
short for ‘Keepers of the Peace’.”
“Oh,” Bruno said, and gave Boar a smirk.
Riley continued. “Anyways, this guy, Marco. I got in touch with him
after I came out of prison. Did time with some guys who did time with
him. He got me a job in this place. This is where you’ll find your
“How many of these, ah, Keepers?” Boar asked.
“Twelve, maybe more,” Riley said. “Each Keeper is allowed to leave
for two days. But you have to come back no later than two hours after
your two days off are up.”
“What happens if you’re not back before that?” Boar asked.
Riley sighed. “When you go see Marco about the job—which pays three
thousand a week—you have to take it, or else you’re dead, either
way. Once you’re in, they strap an explosive bracelet to your leg.
Tamper–resistant. You try to pry that shit off; you go up with a bang.
When you leave, they keep track of you with this bracelet. If you decide
to call the cops and the cops do show up,” his brow furrowed,
“they’ll blow the place up, along with you, no matter where you
Bruno nodded, unconvinced. “Then how the hell did you get out?”
For the first time, Riley smiled. “My right leg’s fake from the knee
down. A prosthetic limb. I had a friend of mine—ex-military
doctor—amputate my leg. Had him dump it in a Dumpster.” His face
fell. “It detonated exactly like they said it would. Blew apart the
Dumpster as if it was made of paper. Such power.” His face darkened
again. “Later, after I healed, I decided it was safe enough to go back
to my place. But that was a bad move. That’s when it all started.”
“When what started?” Bruno asked.
“Cops looking for me,” Riley said. “On the hunt. They work for the
man you’re looking for. So I’ve been in hiding for the past six
months. I saw the reward offered for the capture of your man on the
internet. And I know where he is, so I contacted Mrs. Finley.”
“You told anyone about this?” Bruno asked.
Riley gave a harsh chuckle. “I’m not stupid.”
“What about your doctor friend?” Bruno asked.
“What was your excuse for having explosives strapped to your leg?”
Boar asked. “I mean, not many people walk around with that kind of
shit attached to their person, don’t you agree?”
“What’s with all the questions, man?” Riley asked, looking over to
Boar, who said only, “Answer the question.”
“I . . . I just told him I was involved in something, and that I
couldn’t say what it was—for his own good. He understood.”
“He understood?” Boar asked.
Bruno leaned over the table. “For your sake, I hope you’re telling
the truth. Because if your friend knows something and decides to cash in
to the cops that’re hunting your ass, that’ll put us in a very bad
situation. So you had better be on the up-and-up. Understood, Riley?”
“All right, all right, I understand.” Riley answered, shrinking into
the corner of the seat, hating these men who pushed him around as if he
was a piece of shit.
Boar sighed and slid the envelope over to him. “Okay. Now . . . we
need names and a way to contact Marco. Then, if this all works out,
you’ll get the second half.”
“But if it doesn’t,” Bruno said, “and all this shit is a lie,
I’ll hunt you down and chop off your other leg—from the waist
Riley shoved the envelope inside his jacket.
“Wait,” Bruno said. “There’s something you haven’t told us.
Why did you decide to leave? I mean, if the money was good and all.”
Riley glanced at both men’s faces and sighed heavily. “There’s
death down there. I smelled it, felt it. And those people held there
against their will . . . they didn’t know, but I did.” He glanced at
Bruno, then Boar, and held Boar’s gaze with his death-touched eyes.
“You’ll see. You’ll see when you get into The Palace.”
Excerpted from "The Plague of Adonis" by M. Rasheed. Copyright © 2018 by M. Rasheed. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.