Broken Pieces

Jack Canon's American Destiny

The Orange Moon Affair by AFN Clarke

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Belfast – Six Weeks Earlier

It was an odd experience to look down on the dead face of the man who had once been my father. Not that I was unfamiliar with seeing dead bodies, I'd seen too many in my previous job, it's just that I never expected I would be staring at him.
A single shot to the forehead had killed him instantly. The hole small and dark, not marring the rugged good looks of the man, but I knew that the back of his head would be non-existent. A round fired at close range from a powerful modern 9mm semi-automatic doesn't leave much behind. I felt neither revulsion nor sorrow, somehow those emotions didn't seem to fit with the sterile scrubbed surroundings, and perhaps he would have smiled and approved of my stoicism, or maybe just shaken his head and wondered what had happened to me over the years we hadn't spoken. I knew the lack of emotion I felt meant I had not lost my edge, that I was still a soldier with all the instincts that had been honed in combat. But this wasn't combat. This was murder.
"If you would please sign for these, sir." The white-coated official stood with my father's belongings in an incongruously cheap plastic bag. I duly signed. The formalities over, it wasn't long before I was loading the body bag into my Cessna Citation Mustang 510 jet at Aldergrove Airport. An undertaker had been instructed to meet me at Norwich airport with an appropriate coffin, and until we landed it was just myself and the black rubberised bag lying on the cabin floor. Yet another reminder of my past, and images of dead soldiers insinuated themselves into my thoughts.
As the jet burst through the top of the clouds into bright sunlight, climbing to a cruising altitude of 31,000ft, my mind drifted back to what I thought was an ideal life in paradise.
Lying in the cabin on my catamaran, a lone fifty-seven foot Fountaine Pajot anchored in the crystal clear blue waters off the north western tip of the Mediterranean island of Gozo, waking from a disturbed sleep with one of those unsettling disconnected thoughts that the shit was going to hit the fan in a big way, was not the best way to start the day.
You know the feeling, that odd clawing at the pit of your stomach. A slight headache even though you'd stayed off the booze the night before. I hadn't slept well, but that was nothing new, and it wasn't the reason I felt like crap. What disturbed me was that the odd, undefined, premonition had no logical reason to be in my head.
Cold water and the sight of Julie standing naked on the aft deck washed away the uncomfortable feeling that crowded across my mind. She showered with fresh water from the transom faucet, head back eyes closed, then stood letting the sun dry her bronzed skin as the water ran in rivulets between her perfect breasts.
“I can feel you staring, Thomas,” she laughed and squeezed the water from her long blonde hair, her light New England accent drifting gently on the slight breeze.
“Can't think of a better way to wake up,” I said, as the last images of the bloodied bodies of my colleagues faded from my ongoing nightmare. Eighteen months and it still seemed like yesterday. “Coffee?”
“Juice please. Pineapple and orange.”
I took the jug of freshly prepared juice from the fridge, and popped an ice cube into a tall glass as the coffee percolator started bubbling on the stove.
“You had another nightmare last night. Scared the hell out of me,” her voice drifted through from the cockpit. “Thrashing about and shouting.”
“Really? I don't remember.” I did but there was no sense in talking about it. I carried a mug of coffee and the juice into the cockpit.
“Thanks.” She took the glass and drank a third quickly, and tossed her head back savouring the morning. “I'd like to go to the festival in the village tonight. Maybe we can eat at Lorenzo's.”
“Sounds good.”
“And before that I thought we might take the horses out for a trot, have lunch at Godwin's cafe...” she paused and reached her hand to my face, smiling wickedly, “...and then make love in our favourite grotto.”
“Got it all worked out, don't you?”
“Of course.”
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Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG13
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