Posted By Stephen England on March 20, 2015
And. . .as promised for fans of the Shadow Warriors saga, a special, never-before-seen excerpt from the manuscript for Embrace the Fire.
(For readers of LODESTONE. . .pay special attention to names)
(The real-life Jackie Duddy)
“I served with Nick Crawford,” Harry said finally, breaking the silence. “From Iraq, to Lebanon, to Afghanistan. . .what seems like a score of god-forsaken places in between. I would have given my life for him. Nearly did, more than once. What she said back there—is it true?”
“It is,” the Irishman replied, not looking at him, “every word of it.”
Good men die. Harry’s knuckles whitened around the steering wheel as he moved in on the sedan, closing the gap before a truck could change lanes and cut them off—the bellow of an airhorn filling the night around them. “You were a CIA asset then . .your days with the Provos were over. Why?”
Flaharty sighed, an impatient sound. “You honestly think Davey was the first to suspect that I’d had. . .a change of loyalties, boyo? He wasn’t. This game we’re all in together—you, I, the widow Crawford—you can stop playing, if you want. Give up. But you never get to leave. I had to prove myself, prove to them that nothing had changed. That everything was as it had always been.”
“So you built the bomb.”
“Aye,” Flaharty responded, shaking his head. “I built the bomb. Tell me, Harry—tell me honestly. . .did you ever hesitate to kill an enemy?”
No, came the response to his lips, the instincts that had kept him alive all those years in the field rising to the fore. Never. And yet something stopped him. “This was different.”
“How?” the Irishman demanded, a short, barking laugh escaping his lips. “She was with Five in Northern Ireland. . .her kind have been hunting me and my brothers for decades. Her husband—your sodding ‘mate’? He was a Para.”
His voice grew low and cold. “Many’s the time I put on the gloves and went round after round with Jackie Duddy when we were both lads. He was like a brother to me. . .up till the fine Sunday morning when the Paras shot him down in the car park. Shot a seventeen-year-old boy in the back as he was a-runnin’ away. I can still see Father Daley running out in front of us as we tried to carry him to safety—his handkerchief stained red with blood—waving it before him as a flag of truce. But the Paras were having no truce. . .and Jackie wasn’t the only friend I lost that day.”
“Nick wasn’t there on Bloody Sunday,” Harry said quietly, his eyes focused on the road ahead.
“No, he likely wasn’t,” Flaharty conceded, “and that’s not the way war is, you know that. You may never get the man who shot your brother in the sights of your rifle, so you shoot the sod next to him and tell yourself it’s justice. That’s war. And you’re not going to ask me to regret what I’ve done.”