Hot. Wet. Wild. Sizzling waves of tan bodies roasted dark in the midsummer heat, as thousands of sun-worshipping 'river rats' reached ultimate bake down on this fifteen-mile stretch of warm Colorado River water, better known as Parker Strip. Bikinis, boats, bars, booze, if there was a mood gauge in this paradise it would've registered 'redline scorch'...and the mercury just kept climbing. Wave runners kissed white lace crests of turquoise swells. Topless beauties flaunted oil-slicked flesh across jet boat bows. Margarita soaked barflies rocked out to the throb of sax-driven blues perched along floating, shoreline cantinas.
Far upriver, through a two-mile, cliff-lined divide, referred to by the locals as 'Dog Leg Rocks', a high-powered, twin-turbo Scarab, with a twenty-foot roostertail, approached at a fast rate. The pilot was Jay Fallbrook, a seventy-six-year-old venture capitalist - powerful, shrewd and extremely charismatic - the quintessential CEO, with all the charm of an Italian matinee idol. When Mr. Fallbrook needed something done, it got done quick, if not by generous fiscal persuasion, then by strong physical diplomacy. He closed contracts quicker than Gotti closed coffins, and actually closed a few dozen himself during his early years with the mob.
Two miles downriver, high up on the cliffs on the California side of the waterway, a blond, spike-haired man was making his way across the massive, Baja boulders that lined the top edge of the river, like Mother Nature's bathtub tiles...lending a transcendent beauty of sienna and gold to the deceptively dangerous landscape. He had a metal Halliburton in his grip and a small, French Montecristo tight in his teeth that he barely drew from.
He went by the name of Pier and his eyes darted fast across the quarter-mile wide channel, up one end and down the other, searching for something specific, or rather someone specific. If he was going to accomplish whatever 'exclusive project' he was pursuing, he needed to be at a lower vantage point to make it happen, so he jumped down onto another ledge, then another, descending at least thirty-five feet along a natural, rocky staircase.
He finally found the perfect spot, one that he had obviously scoped out on an earlier occasion, in that he located it rather easily. He set the steel case on a flat rock, squatted down in front and flipped open the lid. Inside was some sort of metallic, composite looking device, along with clamps, bolts and cables. He pulled a pair of nitrile-coated gloves from a panel under the front lid and snapped them on with all the ease of a surgeon. He reached deep into the back corner and removed two, ten-centimeter, carbon-fiber brackets from polystyrene compartments, slotted the threaded end into the socket and began screwing them together.
Fallbrook continued to slice his boat through the waves at about thirty knots, but a young jet-skier suddenly appeared off his starboard quarter-panel and began flanking him from behind. Fallbrook tried to veer left, but the Kawasaki 150 stayed tight with him and fearlessly closed the gap to within five feet of the Scarab's aft rail.
The jet-skier was known up and down the strip as Billy The Kid, a wild, 'river rat' drug punk, who simply appeared to be itching for a race. Fallbrook was more than happy to oblige and juiced the throttle on his twin Mercs, like a top fuel dragster gunning the pedal at an NHRA burn line. Race on.
Billy stayed tight by his side, but it didn't take long before a small island loomed dead ahead, so he quickly backed off the gas, swung around behind the Scarab, shot boldly through its wake and accelerated along the port bow, forcing Fallbrook to take the narrow, right side channel.
"Hey!" Communication at last, as Billy kept one eye on the rough water ahead. "Aren't you Jay Fallbrook?!"
Fallbrook nodded a huge smile with a theatrical sweep of his arm, and that was all Billy needed. "Nice sled, buddy!" He swerved his jet ski into a gushing turn, shooting a spray of water across the Scarab's bow. He slowed to cruise speed, leaving Fallbrook's boat to power on through the rocky doglegs alone. He grabbed an orange, skier-down flag from the back compartment, raised it high in the air and started waving it toward the distant cliffs, exactly where Fallbrook was headed.
Pier saw the signal and immediately snapped down the last bolt on what turned out to be a high-tech, titanium, compound crossbow with a Bushnell 400-1 digital sight. It was a unique weapon, in that Pier had designed and built it from frankensteined parts off several of the finest 'hunting' crossbows from the European world of espionage; composite and double-lined, remarkably precise, extremely deadly, and meticulously machined to a dull, lusterless finish to prevent reflective shine that could possibly compromise his position.
He slid a sleek, twenty-centimeter, graphite arrow with a shaved, broadhead blade across the cables and raised it to his shoulder. For jobs like this he always made sure the hollow shaft was loaded with a fifty-grain, heavy-hit, bolt insert for more weight-forward distribution, assuring a longer flight, pinpoint accuracy and deeper penetration.
He rested his elbows on the flat boulder in front, looked through the lens and easily located Fallbrook's boat. He made an adjustment, then dialed Fallbrook's face dead center between the crosshairs. He calmly drew in a deep breath, through his nostrils only, then gently exhaled, bringing his pulse down to a tranquil sixty taps per minute, something for which he had trained extensively. He slowly squeezed the trigger.
Phhhtt...the arrow launched into a silent, deadly trajectory, about twenty-four degrees downward, with a velocity of two-hundred-eighty feet per second, straight over the river, like a low-altitude, Tomahawk cruise missile, directly for Fallbrook.
Thunk!...it slammed into his chest so hard it broke through his scapula and pinned his back against the seat. His mouth jolted open in gaping pain. Blood oozed from his sternum; his throat. He reached up with both hands and tried to pull it out - reminiscent of J.F.K. grabbing his neck in Dealey Plaza - but it was too late. His head and arms went limp, leaving his out-of-control Scarab cruising alone at full power, with him sitting straight up in the captain's chair as if nothing sinister had even occurred.
Pier lowered the weapon and watched the Scarab thunder past. He never took much pleasure in termination itself; although the physical act of picking off a live target at long range always hit a soft spot with his reptilian brain and on rare occasion would give him a sense of sybaritic gratification that went beyond the job itself. This time it was a little of both. Another fine shot, he smiled to himself, and another proud notch on his deadly résumé. He swiftly, but calmly, started breaking down the crossbow, dispassionately placing the pieces back into the case.
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About the Book
Hot. Wet. Wild. If this erotic thriller had a mood gauge, it’d read ‘redline scorch’ and the mercury just keeps soaring as this torrid summer mind-bender scrapes nerves raw and hormones ragged.
It’s peak vacation season on the beautiful, fifteen-mile stretch of the warm Colorado River, better known as Parker Strip, where short-tempered sheriff JIMMY WITCHITAW suddenly wakes up with a mysteriously brutal homicide on his hands. Unfortunately his only leads are a bloody, four-way trail of morbid retribution splayed out by...
...vengeful crime boss NICK SARVINO...
...loose-cannon FBI agent RICHARD CANAVERAL...
...the beautiful, lust-filled mob lawyer CLARITY CARLYSLE...
...and a viscous pack of heavily-armed tribal ‘ghostriders’
THE HELLHAWK FREEDOM FIGHTERS...
...all of whom drive this normally peaceful resort town into a twisted labyrinth of high-voltage vengeance, power-driven greed and brain-scorching seduction.
Inspired by true events, Parker Strip is an explosive, thought-provoking confrontation of ultimate human deception on the level of “Body Heat”, “L.A. Confidential” and “Two Days In The Valley”.
“Osterhage excels at making the various storylines fall into step...”
“An endlessly diverting crime story featuring a wide array of characters and subplots.”
“...thoroughly detailed...” “...wonderful interplay...”
“...continually teases an inevitable confrontation before delivering a blistering coda.”
About the Author
Jeff Osterhage is an actor best known for his starring roles in the Louis L'Amour classic Western films “The Sacketts” and “The Shadow Riders.” He also starred in the films “South of Reno,” “Taken by Force,” and Edgar Allan Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death” among many others. Plus he played the lead role in the Universal Studios series “The New Dragnet” for fifty-two episodes. He’s been submitted to the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for an Emmy nomination and is honored in the Oklahoma City Cowboy Hall of Fame for his many performances. He’s the author of a dozen screenplays and is an accomplished drummer, sculptor, and painter published in “Actors as Artists.”