“If you live among wolves you have to act like a Wolf”
– Nikita Khrushchev
The street was one of the seedier places in Juarez, a place where gringo tourists didn’t usually show their faces. The tall American who was leaning against the bar was out of place, but as long as he didn’t mind spending fifteen dollars for a bottle of beer, the bartender wasn’t going to object to his presence. He was already on his third bottle, and Felicita had been sitting with him for quite some time. She liked the gringos, and seemed to have a special knack for getting them to pay attention to her.
As long as she also got them to pay the twenty dollars required for one of her blowjobs, that was fine.
This gringo had been coming around for several days, and Eduardo Hernandez, the bartender, had gotten to know him pretty well. The white man was tall, a couple of inches over six feet, with neatly trimmed blonde hair and blue eyes, and it was obvious from his general condition that he worked out regularly. His name was John Baker, he’d said, and he was in town on business. Considering that the town was Juarez, Mexico, it was no secret that the business involved drugs.
Again, that didn’t matter much to Eduardo. A substantial number of his customers were in that same business, which suited him fine, since that meant they could afford the ridiculous prices he had to charge just to stay afloat. He had seen more than a few of them having private conversations with John the gringo, and though he hadn’t seen money change hands, he knew without a doubt that it had.
John hooked a finger at Eduardo, and when the bartender looked, he pointed at the glass in front of Felicita. Eduardo grinned, then reached for the special bottle reserved for the drinks the customers bought for the whores, the watered-down drinks that cost Eduardo only pennies, while he charged the customers as high as ten dollars each. He was fully aware that John liked to keep the girl happy, and since the girl went back to his hotel with him almost every night, he suspected that they may have come to some private arrangement that was cheating the bartender out of his cut of the money she made.
She knew how things worked, though, and as long as she could keep John buying those drinks, she knew Eduardo wouldn’t complain about her keeping the extra money she made in the night. She made it her business to keep John smiling, flirting with him and promising even more exciting pleasures to come. It was working, and her glass was staying full, which meant that her purse would not be as empty as it often was.
Nine Months Earlier
Noah Foster had been an exemplary soldier for more than five years. After joining the Army shortly before turning eighteen, he had demonstrated a willingness and ability to learn his craft that very few had ever matched, at least in the opinion of his instructors. He’d also demonstrated an incredible ability to adapt to almost any situation, to remain calm even in the face of overwhelming problems, and to carry out his orders without hesitation or delay.
Second Lieutenant Abigail Mathers, of the Judge Advocate General’s office, read through his file with interest. Sergeant Foster was sitting in the stockade at that moment, preparing to face a court-martial that would almost certainly find him guilty of multiple counts of murder and other crimes, and sentence him to die. Lieutenant Mathers had been assigned as his defense counsel and was fervently wishing that she had never even heard his name.
It was a hopeless case. Sergeant Foster, according to the witnesses against him, had willingly and with malice aforethought killed First Lieutenant Daniel Gibson, Corporal James Mathis, Pfc. Charles Mason, Pfc. Jack Lindemann, Pfc. David Clark and Pfc. William Gould, apparently to try to conceal other crimes. The biggest problem was that there was no question of whether he had killed them, because he had already admitted to it in his own statement. The only matter to be settled in court-martial was whether he had done so in order to cover up the fact that, as some members of his unit had reported, he had killed five civilian females, or because—as he claimed—his platoon leader and several other members of his unit had engaged in the recreational rapes and murders of several young Iraqi girls, girls whose only offense was the fact that they were alone and unprotected when Gibson and the others came upon them.