Callsign, Ghost: The Haunting Shot
by R.B. Carr
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Dove and Dragon Publishing together with Ruscsak Films and Publishing
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Jack Kirby is a former Army Ranger and an elite sniper for the US Marshals. Until one foggy morning while on a mission in Nebraska the unthinkable happens, he suddenly can’t pull the trigger. Due to his inability to do his job, one of the most wanted men in the country is able to get off two last shots.
Now plagued by active PTSD and nightmares of all the men he has killed, he is guilt ridden and unsure of himself. On administrative leave to clear his head and work through his mental health, he returns to his hometown, only to find it isn't the same small town he left years ago.
The rural town is full of drugs and the problems that come with it. Reuniting with old friends, he wants to believe the modern problems haven't changed them but he can’t ignore it.
The question becomes how much have they changed?
Catherine Elizabeth Greene is a small town detective determined to stop an unknown killer; a man of skill,
who kills from ambush using a long ranged rifle.
Desperate for help she asks Jack, a man she barely knows for help.
Together, can they discover the killer?
The pool hall was located in a strip mall in Olathe, Kansas, yet another large Kansas City suburb southwest of the city. The homes in Olathe are more affordable than in some the more affluent suburbs. It is also remains a manageable commute to the US Marshall office, thus many of the married SOG members with kids chose to live there, given their limited government salaries. Jack considered the pool hall out of his way but since all his colleagues lived in the area he went regularly with his coworkers whom he typically socialized with. Being ex-military, one of Jack’s biggest pet peeves was being late for anything. Because he had overslept, Jack was irritated when he arrived to meet his friends, almost 30 minutes late. Pulling into the parking lot, the pool hall was already packed, despite it being relatively early for a Saturday night. Instead of wasting further time driving around looking for a closer parking spot, Jack pulled into the first open spot available near the back of the lot. After parking, Jack climbed out of his truck, pushed the lock button and began walking across the large lot to the entrance. As he walked Jack noticed three guys hanging around a 70’s model Chevy truck drinking beers under one of the parking lot lights. Having visited this establishment before Jack didn't blame them for pre-gaming, given the over inflated drink prices inside. The 3 men were all large. As Jack walked by he gauged each of the 3 men stood a few inches over his own 6 feet. The men were more than just tall however, as Jack estimated the smallest of the trio was a plump 250 pounds with the other two easily pushing 300 plus. All three men wore jeans and work boots. The small one had on a red Kansas Jayhawks hoodie, while the other two wore Carhartt style jackets; one with a Jayhawks baseball cap and the other a Jayhawks beanie. Jack nodded to the three men as he passed by as the men were throwing their beer cans into the bed of the truck and followed him inside. Entering the pool hall, Jack walked through a set of double doors into an eight feet squared room where two benches sat along either side and then through a second set of double doors to the main room, where there was another square space where two bouncers sat. Having visited the establishment previously, the inside was familiar to Jack. The inside of the room was a large rectangle with pool tables distributed evenly throughout, in two long rows. To the left of the doors, a bar ran the length of the room, serving beer in bottles, fountain sodas and bar snacks such as popcorn, nachos and hot dogs. To the right was an area with bar height tables and the restrooms. Entering the main room, Jack stepped to his left giving the 3 men behind him an opportunity to pass, as he allowed his eyes time to adjust to the dim lighting. As Jack was searching for his friends, he heard someone say, “You need to take that shirt off”. Not realizing the remarks were directed at him, Jack continued to scan the crowded room trying to locate Chris and the others. “Hey West Virginia, I said take that damn shirt off! This is a Jayhawk bar," the raised voice garnering the attention of the entire room. This time Jack was acutely aware the statement was directed at him. Peering to his left, he saw the trio from the parking lot. “Take that bullshit off. This is a KU establishment,” the smallest man growled. “Yeah, I don't think so pal," Jack replied his voice dripping with contempt. “Oh you're going to take it off, or I am going to take it off you," the man sneered. Any other day, under similar circumstances Jack would have attempted to avoid the confrontation. Today however he didn't feel passive and stated matter of factly, “I’d like to see you try fat boy. I’ll break your damn arm before you can lay a fat finger on this shirt”. “You and what army you fuckin punk!” raged the small man stepping towards Jack cocking his right arm. “Trust me guy you don't want none of me, back the fuck up” Jack said in an even tone stepping forward with malice intent. Before the pair of men could come together however, the two bouncers stepped between them. “Hey Jimmie! Cut that shit out. I told y'all last time we don't do that shit here.” One of the two intervening men said, “This is your warning, one more and I call the cops and ban y'all from ever coming back. “C’mon man” the one with the beanie said as the two larger men hurried Jimmie away, “no need to waste your time on this guy”. Though not before Jimmie could spout off, “You’re lucky West Virginia.” Jack watched the trio walk away. When he turned back to the room, Chris and another member of his team, Tom Ball, were standing there. “What was that all about?” Tom asked. “No idea, some idiot with liquid courage and no common sense apparently,” Jack replied. “Damn," Tom said. “I thought I was going to get to see you tear into somebody other than us,” referencing that Jack, in addition to his sniper duties, was also the regional hand to hand combat instructor for the US Marshal Office. Chris chuckled at Tom’s remark before adding “C’mon man we’re over here”. Jack and his friends occupied a pair of tables near the restrooms. For an hour, Jack and his fellow Marshals shot pool and told stories of better times. Tom and John Pearson, who was the breach man for alpha squad, were easily the two best pool players of the group though Chris was able to give them both an occasional run for their money. In total there were seven men from unit present. Jack recognized it took him a moment to wind down from the earlier confrontation yet it was very nice to just relax with his friends, letting go of his worries. While the other six team members were nursing beers, Jack chose to sip Diet Cokes after waking hung over. After the third soda, nature called and he needed to use the restroom. The men’s restroom was typical of public restrooms. Inside the door there was a short area walled on both sides leading to a big trough sink on the left. Beyond the sink were a row of three urinals and a single stall in the rear of the room. After stepping from the dim lights of the main room, the bright florescent lights of the restroom were very harsh, showing the fading green and cream colored tile. Walking into the tight space, Jack stepped around a guy washing his hands sink. He relieved himself in the second urinal. As he zipped up and turned to wash his own hands, the door opened and the three fat guys from the parking lot entered led by Jimmie. Once all three were inside, the guy with the baseball cap locked the door behind. “I told you to take that fucking shirt off asshole, now I am going to take it off for you," Jimmie sneered. Jack had always been taught and believed there is a time for words and there is a time for actions Jack knew Jimmie and his buddies probably thought that since they locked the door and out numbered him he would be scared. They probably thought he would try to talk his way out of the confrontation or would look to retreat. They were mistaken. As Jimmie finished speaking, he brought his right hand back to swing the same haymaker he wanted to unleash earlier before being stopped by the two bouncers. Instead of backing up Jack stepped forward on his left foot then simply used the ball of his left foot as a pivot point, kicking with his right foot from where it stood, a much more efficient movement. The kick landed solidly on the outside of Jimmie’s left knee. The sound of the impact was a sickening crack in the enclosed space. The knee buckled in a manner it was never intended to go naturally. Jimmie went down in a heap, as an ugly scream escaped his lips. Taking advantage of the momentary confusion of the two fat guys, who were slow in processing what had just happened to their friend, Jack instantly sprung over the fallen body of Jimmie into the guy with the beanie on his head. Using the momentum of the jump, Jack got inside the guy’s arms and smashed his head into the bottom of the man’s chin. Instantly the big man’s head ripped back, staggering him. With his arms flailing as he tried to catch his balance, his midsection was left open. Jack drove both of his fists into the big man’s exposed diaphragm, knocking the wind from his massive frame and sending him further back on his heels. The action sent the man into his partner with the baseball cap, who tried to catch him but was overwhelmed by the man’s size. The momentum carried both men into the locked door where they hit hard, before sliding down to the floor. At the end of the crash the man with the baseball cap was pinned on the ground under his friend, unable to get his arms free. Jack took the opportunity to place his knee in the front man’s chest effectively immobilizing the pair. “Next time your dumbasses decide to pick a fight. Don’t" Jack yelled. Driving his point home he swung a viscous backhand across the face to than man on top, smashing his lips into his teeth, bursting them instantaneously. Jack raised his hand again and the man raised his hands across his face to ward off another blow. The guy beneath him had lost the baseball cap and began to cry, trying to hide his face behind his friends head and shoulders as his arms remained stuck beneath his friend. “We good?” Jack yelled. Both man began nodding furiously. “We good?” Jack yelled again. Again they nodded. “Say it, ‘we good’?” Jack yelled again. “Yes, we’re good,” they responded in unison. “Louder.” “We’re good!” they yelled. “Good, now I am going to get off you and you're going to get up and open the door. You are going to walk out and sit down at one of the tables outside and we are going to call an ambulance for your friend over there and wait around for the cops to make a statement. And if either of you try anything stupid I am going to hurt you. Do you understand?” Before they could answer, there was a pounding at the door. “Jack, everything all right in there?” Looking at the pair Jack said, “Understand?” “Yes,” they mumbled. “Good.” Jack arose and stepped back, kicking back into Jimmie to ensure he didn't do anything stupid. The pair of fat guys got up slowly and carefully. The guy on the bottom upon rising turned, unlocked and opened the door. “Now go sit your fat asses down. I will be out in a second.” As the pair treaded away Jack turned and looked at Jimmie laying on the ground still holding his knee. “Ambulance will be here in a minute, do you have any weapons or anything on you?” “Man fuck you, you busted my goddamn knee!” “Whatever asshole, you’re lucky I didn't bust your damn skull. Now you got anything on you before the ambulance gets here. Because if one of the cops or paramedics get hurt helping your ass I will do more than hurt you.” “I ain’t got nothin man. You busted my leg, how am I supposed to work like this?” he sobbed. “Honestly I don’t care asshole. Maybe you will think twice before you try that shit again with someone.” Jack said as he pulled out his phone and dialed 9-1-1. The police and paramedics showed up within 10 minutes, as Jack was explaining what had happened to Chris and the pool hall’s owner. Jack’s rendition was confirmed with an occasional nod from the two bigger guys, who were brothers named Tom and Tony Rollins. The two men were Jimmie’s cousins. Upon arrival the police took Jack’s statement along with the brothers who were arrested for assault and disturbing the peace. Jimmie was also ordered under arrest but was taken away by the paramedics. One of the paramedics was overheard telling Jimmie he would likely have to undergo reconstructive surgery on the knee. Upon finishing with the police and paramedics, Jack’s mood again turned sullen. He tried to remain engaged with his friends but he got more and more uncomfortable as time went on. He began feeling like everyone in the bar was staring at him, talking about what had happened. By 10 pm he had enough and told the guys he was heading home. His drive home took what seemed an eternity as he felt tightness in his chest as his hands shook the entire commute.
Born and raised in West Virginia, RB Carr is an attorney and well traveled veteran of the military. Having lived and worked all over the country, the experiences and people he has met provide a basis for the settings and characters for whom he writes about; both the good and the bad. While the characters of this book are fictional, they have all been inspired by the people he has met over the years, be it from his time in the service or in the halls of the court houses and prisons. Having recently returned to his home state, he and his wife are the parents of 4 children.
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