A Game For Assassins
Dominican Republic – 30th May 1961
The harsh daylight sun was finally receding, giving way to a more comfortable and cooler evening. Despite this, the bugs and gnats from the nearby swamp still swarmed about, hoping to gather in the last vestiges of the day's heat and occasionally picking at the six prone bodies lying in the roadside ditch.
The killers had been in place for the past three hours, waiting, sweating, and ignoring the bugs and the heat. They numbered eight in total; six Dominicans and two Europeans. The Europeans and four of the indigenous team were waiting in the ditch for the target; the remaining two were parked a few hundred meters up the road in cars, acting as spotters. It was also their job to act as ramming vehicles, to trap the forthcoming limousines of ‘El Benefactor’ in the center of the kill zone.
The ‘Catalan’ glanced over at his partner the ‘Georgian’. They were both dressed in civilian clothes, short-sleeved shirts, hard-wearing slacks and work boots. The field radio crackled into life. The two Europeans glanced at each other one more time and their eyes met. They knew this was it. No false alarms, no backing down, no mistakes. The killing would start soon.
“La luz Es brillante, la luz Es brilliante,” the spotter shrieked into the radio. “The Light is Bright.” It was the code for the imminent passing of El Benefactor's motorcade.
The killers had been funded and encouraged by the Americans from the Embassy, and the arrival of these two European specialists had spurred them on from what had once been the kernel of an idea, into something that was about to become very real.
The Agency had quickly tired of El Benefactor's growing unpopularity, and fearing that he would not put up much of a fight to fend off a Communist takeover, they’d decided it would be beneficial to remove him from power. Their opinion was ‘If we can't own him – nobody can’, and it wasn't long before the Agency had called in its most versatile freelance operators – the two Europeans – to plan out and organize the largely untutored and inexperienced freedom fighters into a small but effective assassination team.
Now the code was registering into the group of killers. Men tensed, weapons were checked, safety catches were flicked off, and rifle butts were jammed into shoulder positions. They spotted the dust cloud first, kicked up from the arid country road as the two-car convoy sped along. The intelligence they had received told them that the road, a quiet back route, was the most likely to be taken when El Benefactor visited his favorite mistress in San Cristobel. It was the perfect ambush spot.
The dust cloud grew nearer and the growl of the heavier engines got louder. And then it happened, not hurried or at a frantic pace, but slowly. The mid-speed amble of the two-car motor convoy of gleaming Lincolns'; the roar of the gunned engine in the ambush truck as it gained speed to block the motorcade; the growl of the truck when it turned in a perfectly formed ‘U’ into the center of the road, causing El Benefactor’s vehicles to brake hurriedly. And then the noise of the multiple automatic weapons as they spat out death, which was aimed, very accurately, at the prone motorcade.
For a few brief moments, nothing more, the noise was deafening. The men of the killing team were all keen to get into the fight and put as much ammunition as possible into the President's vehicles. Each wants to be able to tell the tale to his grandchildren. Each one wants to be the man who killed that brute Trujillo.
The first volley was impressive and completely incapacitated the cars. Then, as several of the President's security men struggled to regain the initiative, and even contemplated fighting back, the freedom fighters were on the move, firing, closing down their enemy, changing magazines so that they can continue with the salvo.
Leading from the front was the Catalan’s partner, the stubby, hard-looking Georgian who shouts to them to “Atacar hacia adelente”, before emptying his own weapon into an unfortunate bodyguard who had decided to run. It seems there can be no survivors…or witnesses. Then the noise falters and stops, the smoke starts to dissipate, and the removal of a seemingly unbeatable dictator is almost at an end. It is so quick – and so easy after all.
The Catalan got up from his prone position and motioned for the Georgian to attend to the President's backup vehicle, where the few remaining bodyguards were being unceremoniously dragged from the car and beaten. They wouldn’t last much longer. He sauntered over to the mortally wounded lead vehicle. His face was a mask of sweat and tension, from the serious business of killing. The sides and windows of the car had been shattered by multiple bullet holes and smeared with blood from the interior. Already the smell of death was making its existence known.
“They fought back bravely, commander,” said Rafael, the youngest member of the team. The Catalan nodded and peered inside the vehicle. It was a charnel house. The driver and bodyguard had been pulverized. A series of single shots rang out from nearby.
The Catalan straightened up and looked around to find the Georgian and his team executing the remaining bodyguards. “Where is Trujillo?”
“He ran for the tree line, Ramon shot him in the legs. He’s guarding him and waiting for you.”
“El Benefactor is still alive, though?”
“And for us, no casualties?”
“No senor. They never knew what hit them.”
The Catalan made his way over to the tree line and there, with the little freedom fighter guarding him, lay the man who had held a small nation in his vice-like grip for more than thirty years. Blood was oozing from his legs, which lay at an unnatural angle, his suit covered in mud and dust, but the face… the face still held contempt and arrogance. But not for much longer, thought the Catalan.
“El Presidente. Do you know who I am?”
The rotund, white-haired man glared back. “You are a pig of a 'freedom fighter' and mother-fucker who sucks on the cocks of traitors!”
The Catalan smiled and shook his head. “No senor, I am not from your pretty island. I am from far from here… but I have a message, a message from the Norte Americanos.” The shock on Trujillo's face was clear, thinks the Catalan. He has been outwitted by the Americans.
“Your time here is over,” murmured the Catalan, and in one fluid movement he drew a large caliber revolver, a Smith & Wesson, and fired a single shot through the eye of the dictator. An old man dead in a ditch. “Ramon, you and the boys take the body away and hide it. And here…” he handed over the revolver to the only other witness to the execution. “If anybody asks, you shot Trujillo. Okay?
Ramon took the pistol and stared down at it, feeling its weight and the grease running across his fingers. It was a good weapon. “Si senor. We can hide the body at one of the safe-houses until it is time to display it to the world.”
The Catalan nodded in approval. “Good, then organize yourselves and go! Get out of here as quickly as you can.”
“What about you, Commander. You and La Bala?”
La Bala was the nickname the boys had given to the Georgian. It was a term of affection. La Bala, ‘the bullet’, because the small Georgian did indeed resemble a bullet. Small, stubby, hard, balding…
“We will be leaving by a separate route. You will not see either of us again, our job here is over. Go well.”