Dawn of the Assassin

by Bill Brewer

"Action, adventure, and a dose of redemption - Dawn of the Assassin has it all." -Lt Colonel Rip Rawlings (USMC)

Kill or be killed is the fatal choice of dishonorably discharged David Diegert. Having few options, Diegert falls into a world of deception, betrayal, and violence.

To survive, he must become a reluctant hitman, extinguishing lives for a man of immense power and wealth. Given a chance to earn his freedom, and protect the one person he loves, Diegert must win a twisted contest to the death known as the tournament of assassins.

Trained by his kick-ass mentor, Fatima Hussain, Diegert will face the most deadly men in the world and either emerge victorious or be zipped up in a body bag.


Chapter One

Tattered boots found unstable footing in the snow as David Diegert trudged two miles to his night-shift job at the mini-mart. Without money, life sucks, he thought as the chill penetrated his coat and the snow-impeded walk numbed his toes. Normally he passed the time checking e-mail, reading the news, or playing Mobile Strike. On this trip, he was left with only his thoughts since his service had been cut off for nonpayment.

His job was lousy, but with only a high school diploma in the rural economy of northern Minnesota, Diegert was lucky to have it. Minimum wage sapped his efforts at financial progress. He hated living at home with his parents and older brother, but he hoped the raise he was due would give him enough to get his own apartment. He also hoped to save some money for college, although right now a car would be nice.

Scuffing the snow off his boots on the doormat, which he would later have to clean, Diegert stepped inside. He smelled the pizza cooking and heard the hot dogs sizzling, but his senses had grown numb to it all and it only served to dull his appetite. Barbara, his heavyset coworker, looked up from the counter she was cleaning and gave him a nod. The store manager, Barley Cummings, eyed him quizzically from the door of his messy office. Barley was proud to tell anyone who asked, and even those who didn’t, that he was named after the main ingredient for making beer. Cummings beckoned him over with his fingers.

“Hey, didn’t you get my e-mail?” asked the rotund manager.

“No,” said Diegert, breaking eye contact. “My phone’s dead.”

“Well, we’re downsizing.”

“You’re making the store smaller?”

“No, I’m making the staff smaller, and I had to let you go.”

With a sense of having just been insulted, Diegert replied, “And you told me with an e-mail?”

“Yeah, thought I’d save you the walk. Look, your pass card has been deactivated, and unless you’re gonna buy something, you gotta go. You don’t work here anymore, Tonto.”

Diegert absorbed the news with disappointment, anger, and embarrassment rising up at Barley’s use of his nickname from high school that he hated.

“I’m due for a raise, and so now you fire me.”

“It’s called corporate cost control,” said Cummings matter-of-factly as he put a hand on Diegert’s shoulder, nudging him toward the door. Diegert slapped the thoughtless boss’s hand away and shoved him up against the soda machine.

“Don’t fuckin’ touch me.”

Cumming’s huge belly shook as Diegert pressed him back against the soda fountain. The store manager’s wide ass activated the dispensers, which soaked his pants.

“Don’t do anything crazy,” pleaded the overweight imbecile, who’d never realized that the muscles that bound Diegert’s six-foot-two-inch frame were so strong.

Releasing his grip on Cummings and stepping back, Diegert thought about “crazy.” He looked at the shelves of chips, the stacks of soda bottles, the cardboard displays of cookies, as well as the refrigerated cases full of beer. He wanted to smash them all, clear the shelves with a sweep of his arm and toss the soda behind the counter where it would crash on the sandwich boards and the pizza oven. Then he would shove a shelving unit right through the glass, bursting the bottles of beer. He wanted to destroy the entire shitty little store where he had wasted so much time. But he did not.

Stepping away from the frightened man, Diegert said, “I’m walking outta here on my own.” He turned and left, dropping his employee pass card on the floor.

As he walked away from the store, down a dark country road, Diegert heard the acceleration of an engine and saw his tall shadow cast on the road by flashing red-and-blue lights. He peered over his shoulder at the county sheriff’s car, watching as it passed by and pulled in front of him, nose to the snowbank, blocking his path. Officer Paul Tate stepped out of the car and walked back to Diegert.

“Dave, I’m placing you under arrest.”

“Oh, come on, Tates.”

“Don’t give me any shit. Barley called it in, and you have the right to remain silent.”

Officer Tate handcuffed Diegert and put him in the car.

At the police station, locked in a processing room, Diegert sat alone for a long time, which allowed his thoughts to wander back to his childhood.

He remembered sitting on the couch—which was really a foam mattress on top of an old door held up by cinderblocks—huddled under a blanket in the cold house while his mother, Denise, read to him from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She cleverly created a distinct voice for each character. David loved the adventures of Hogwarts and was magically transported there by the imagination of his mother.

“God damn it, there’s not enough beer in here,” bellowed David’s father, Tom, as he pulled his head up from inside the fridge.

“I told you to have at least a twelve-pack in here all the time,” he shouted as he slammed the fridge door. Denise stopped reading, rose from the mattress, and went to the kitchen.

“You fuckin’ injuns can’t count past five,” Tom said as he shoved the tall, dark-haired woman into the cupboard door. David’s fourteen-year-old brother, Jake, quickly left the kitchen and closed the door to his upstairs bedroom.

“Leave her alone,” demanded little ten-year-old David. Dressed in pajamas, he stood defiantly between his parents, facing his father with a look of determination.

His father laughed. “Look at the little bastard standing up to protect his slut of a mother. Come on, little man, let’s see what you’re really made of.”

Tom Diegert put up his fists and so did David. Tom flinched his left hand and smacked David’s face with his right, snapping the young boy’s head and spinning him onto the floor. Blood oozed from David’s lips as his mother screamed for Tom to stop. Tom turned his rage on her, slapping her face and shoving her up against the counter.

“This is my house, and you’re my wife, and I’ll do whatever I goddamn want.”

David stepped behind his father, kicking him in the knee. Tom spun and backhanded David across the face, sending him tumbling over a kitchen chair.

“You think you’re a tough little guy, eh? Let’s see how you like this!”

Tom opened the kitchen door and threw David out into the snow of a Minnesota winter night.

The door slammed, jolting David Diegert out of his recollection of that night over ten years ago.

Sheriff Michael Lowery crossed the room and stood before the chair to which Diegert was handcuffed. “It’s your lucky day, son. Oh, I know you lost your job at the mini-mart and you beat up your boss for firing you.”

“I didn’t beat him up, Mr. Lowery,” protested Diegert.

“He says you pushed him into a soda machine, but I convinced him not to press charges. You’ve been arrested, but you’re not being charged. You’re free to go.”

Diegert looked at him untrustingly. “This is the lucky part?”

“Yup, it is,” the lawman said as he unlocked the handcuffs. “But that’s not all.”

As the sheriff of Broward County handed Diegert a business card, he said, “Major Carl Winston, US Army recruiter. I suggest you go see him and consider serving your country instead of assaulting its citizens.”

Sheriff Lowery took a seat next to Diegert. “Ya see, I know you’ve had it rough. I’ve responded to some of those domestic disputes at your house. But I also remember when you won States in wrestling. You were the first kid from Broward to ever go to States. I felt very proud down at the tournament.”

Diegert looked at him, surprised to learn that he had made the trip all the way down to Minneapolis for the State Wrestling Tournament six years ago. His father hadn’t bothered.

Lowery continued, “I want to see you do well in life. Tell Major Winston I sent you, and he’ll be very understanding. But, David, if you piss away this opportunity, you will not be walking out of here the next time you’re arrested.”

Diegert stood up and put the card in his shirt pocket. He hesitated before extending his hand to the sheriff. They shook hands and Diegert walked out into the cold winter night.

The walk home was windy, but the frigid, piercing air was not nearly as uncomfortable as the dynamics of the Diegert household. David had grown tall and strong, so his short, fat father now used his words rather than his fists to hurt him. Stepping straight into the kitchen of the small house, Diegert encountered his father’s scorn before he’d even taken off his boots.

“Hey, dipshit, Jake told me you got fired from the mini-mart.”

“Well, then, I’m glad I don’t have to tell you.”

“Don’t you give me any of that wiseass shit. If I stop getting calls from them to tow away illegally parked cars, I’m blaming you.”

Putting his coat on a hanger in the closet, Diegert replied, “The failure of your business is not my fault.”

“Your maternal bitch isn’t here to defend you, so you’d better watch your mouth.”

Jake interjected, “Barley says you assaulted him, and he had you arrested.”

“I didn’t beat him nearly enough. The charges were dropped and Lowery let me go.”

Diegert passed by the kitchen table where his father and brother sat with their brown bottles of beer, a bag of chips, and two cigarettes smoldering in the ashtray. As David opened the fridge, Jake said, “Don’t take any of our food.”

With a disdainful smirk, David said, “I’ve got my own.”

David stood at the kitchen counter making turkey sandwiches.

“What are you going to do without a job?” asked Tom.

“I don’t know. Maybe Jake will let me help him sell drugs,” David replied sarcastically.

Jake looked up, sneering at him as he raised his middle finger from his doughy fist.

“Now, dipshit,” began his father, “it usually takes a person about two months to find a new job. So I want the next two months’ rent up front.”

David turned to look at his father with an incredulous expression of disbelief.

“I’m also raising the rent, so you owe me two thousand dollars.”

Pounding the kitchen counter and extending to his full height, David spun to face the table. With a sharp kitchen knife in his hand, David said, “What? A thousand dollars a month to shit in your toilet and sleep in the barn? No fuckin’ way.”

“Hey, you’re lucky to have a roof over your head, and I hate the way your shit stinks, so if you want to live somewhere else, you go right ahead.”

Pointing the knife at Jake, David barked, “What about him? He lives in the heat and eats whatever he wants. Why the hell doesn’t he pay rent?”

“Look, don’t make your problems seem like someone else’s.” Nodding toward Jake, Tom continued, “He has a very different financial situation from you, so fairness is not the issue.”

Jake sniped in, “You ought to try running a business rather than being an employee.”

“Yeah, well, most of the time I was with Sheriff Lowery, he was asking me about meth, oxy, and heroin. I don’t think your secrets are safe anymore.”

“What did you tell him?”

“I told him you’re so fucking stupid that it would be real easy to set up a buy and have you show up with enough drugs to put you away for twenty years.”

Jake’s chair screeched across the floor as he bolted up from the table. David advanced quickly, pinning his brother backward over the sink. He brought the knife to Jake’s throat. Jake grabbed his forearm, saying, “Really, you’re going to cut me right here in front of Dad?”

Pressing the blade against the skin, David said, “Gladly.”

The snap of a hammer being drawn back pulled their attention to their father, whose .38 revolver was pointed at David.

“Let him go. Get your food and get the fuck out of here.”

David stepped back, drawing the blade across Jake’s throat just enough to scare him. He moved to the counter to finish making his sandwiches.

Jake rubbed his neck, checking for blood, but remained at the sink. “If you snitch, you’re dead, you little punk bastard.”

The intensity of David’s glare conveyed the complete absence of love between them. He put away his food, then slammed the fridge door. His father kept the gun trained on him while he put on his boots and coat. With his dinner in a plastic bag, Diegert left the house and headed for the barn.

David had a small bedroom up in the loft of the old barn out back on the property. The room was defined by two exterior walls and two hanging tarps, which together formed a small rectangle. Since his father used the building as a garage for working on cars, the odor of oil and gas permeated the floor and walls. A thermal sleeping bag and extra-thick blankets insulated Diegert on his single bed. Illumination was provided by a floor lamp, but there was no source of heat. Wearing a wool hat to bed, he often shivered himself to sleep, but it was better than sharing a room with his brother under the same roof as his father.



Bill Brewer "Dawn of the Assassin"


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