Justin’s note: Today and tomorrow, we have an exciting preview to share with you. If you've been reading the Dispatch, you probably know Casey Research founder and New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey just published a brand-new novel: Drug Lord.
In this riveting tale—book 2 of the High Ground Novels—Charles Knight returns to the United States after seven years traveling the world. He embarks on two concurrent professions: one as a major investor in a small pharmaceutical company, and the other as the head of a black market drug smuggling and distribution operation. Charles has to sort through the legal and illegal, moral and immoral, and right and wrong as he navigates the War on Drugs and the crony pharmaceutical industry.
They all want him dead. But Charles intends to start a revolution. Over the next two days, you can see how the story begins in our special “sneak peek.” We hope you enjoy…
Chapter 1, Part 1
Return to the Front
Charles Knight swayed on the bow of his fifty-four-foot sloop to the syncopated rhythms of metal drums playing through the sound system at top volume. Jimmy Buffett shared his love of island culture. The sloop ran large through Atlantic swells propelled by an eighteen-knot early-autumn easterly breeze. He grinned as the wind tossed a sheet of salt spray through his long hair.
Six miles up ahead lay Charleston, where he would enter the United States for the first time in seven years. How would he feel when he arrived? Would it feel like home?
He wiped salt crust from around his eyes and squinted into the late-afternoon sun as it reflected off the ocean. In the distance, a powerboat crashed through waves, sending spray to either side.
It was coming his way.
Charles moved aft to the cockpit, deactivated the autopilot, lowered the music volume, and turned his boat closer into the wind, away from the distant vessel. He tightened up the mainsheet and the genoa. His straight left knee and bent right knee together braced him upright while his boat heeled hard over. He felt the rush as water lashed over the gunwale. It never failed to elevate his energy. He couldn’t help but grin. He and his boat headed back out to sea, cutting through the water at 8.5 knots.
Unfortunately, the powerboat turned to intercept him, traveling at more than twenty knots. The reality of impending trouble diminished his enjoyment of the moment.
A few minutes later, the twenty-six-foot-long Defender Class Response Boat with obscenely oversized twin outboards approached his yacht. A machine gun mounted toward its bow suggested this was no friendly vessel welcoming him home to his native shores after so many years abroad.
A life-jacketed man on the bow aimed his weapon directly toward him. It was an aggressive display of power—all the rage in Washington and embraced by predisposed government employees at all levels.
The Coast Guard had hailed him on the radio three times as they approached. Of course, he had ignored them, impatient buggers. But it wasn’t as if his sailboat could outrun them. The boat came up close and the officer in charge hollered through his loudspeaker.
“This is the United States Coast Guard. Head into the wind, and prepare to be boarded.”
Damn. Charles had hoped to avoid this.
His concern arose from the small issue of having a hundred thousand doses of illicit drugs stashed onboard his boat.
He waved to the Coast Guard as if seeing the boat for the first time, and fired up the 125 HP Yanmar diesel that would keep him heading straight into the wind. He rounded up. His mainsail luffed while he furled the genoa, which he accomplished simply by freeing a sheet and pressing a button. Modern technology allowed him to sail the ocean alone in his boat, which he had christened Caroline.
Her mainsail made a horrendous racket, and the boom struck about, angry at having to face the wind head-on.
He glanced at the armed vessel as it came nearer. The testosterone-fueled man who stood at the M240 machine gun had his finger on the trigger. The wrong wave might lift the Coast Guard boat’s bow and, combined with that misplaced finger, lead to a barrage of 7.62 mm rounds shooting through his hull. Or through him. Was the threat of a sailboat approaching the U.S. shore now sufficient to induce the Coast Guard to keep its guns locked and loaded and aimed at him?
The Defender came alongside. The sailor manning the machine gun sported expensive sunglasses under the brim of his Coast Guard hat. The buoyancy of the sailor’s orange PFD would partially counteract the density of the bullet-retarding vest that lay underneath, and just might keep him afloat if he were to find himself in the water. The man still aimed his gun directly at Charles, who stood in the cockpit of his sailboat—unthreatening and with a bright and welcoming smile.
“Sir,” a voice said through a loudspeaker from inside the partially enclosed Defender. Through the glare on the glass, Charles could see the man holding the microphone. “Sir, you are in United States waters. We are boarding your vessel.”
Over the last several years, Charles had learned that if one had the intention of defying authority, then questioning that authority was best done quietly. He had acquired the ability to seethe on the inside and smile on the outside, a facade he never could have maintained in his youth. The muscles around his mouth tightened as adrenaline surged throughout his body. Psychiatrists might call this anxiety, but the term anxiety applied only when this process occurred inappropriately. The fight-or-flight response that now suffused Charles provided his mind and his body with the neurotransmitters it needed when facing imminent danger. His senses sharpened with the pending incursion of threatening interlopers.
Although Charles had followed the excesses of recent political administrations in the news during his long absence, he had not personally experienced the cultural transformation that had occurred in the nation of his birth. He attempted to restrain a foolish urge to peel back the Kafkaesque layers of the Homeland Security onion. He did not succeed. He yelled to be heard over the panoply of sail, engine, and wind noise. “Why do you wish to board my boat?”
“Sir, you have no choice in this matter. You are being boarded.” The officer nodded to three men who tossed lines around available cleats and safety rails and pulled the Defender tight aboard. The two vessels now bobbed side by side, the red polyethylene of the Defender rubbing against the navy blue gelcoat of the Caroline. One man aimed his M16A2 at Charles; the machine gunner on the bow kept his weapon trained on him as well. The officer had his pistol drawn, but at least that weapon was not aimed directly at Charles’s chest.
“You made it clear I have no choice, but why are you boarding my boat?” Charles pushed back sun-bleached hair—lightly caked with salt—that tickled his equally salty shoulder.
“Sir, you failed to respond to multiple radio hails. You failed to respond to amplified voice hailing. You failed to respond to standard visuals, and you are approaching the U.S. shore. Sir, you will be boarded.”
Adding the word sir supposedly made the armed threats, property invasion, and warrantless search respectable. Protected by their government-issued uniforms, two of the men jumped aboard Charles’s boat. An objective observer might recognize this as the behavior of pirates. Should Charles exercise his right to repel boarders? Best not.
“Sir, are you armed?” one of them asked. They were trained to ask as a matter of course. But this time the question sounded blatantly silly. Charles wore only a bathing suit.
Charles held his arms over his head. “Where do you think I could stash a gun on me?” He turned around, revealing his deeply tanned back. No gun lay strapped by duct tape adjacent to his spine. There was no place he could possibly conceal a weapon on his person. Might as well frisk the exposed forearms of a man in a short-sleeved shirt, as commonly occurred at TSA checkpoints. To be entirely forthcoming, he would need to moon them. He refrained from doing so, for now.
Training to follow rigid protocol tends to reduce a man’s ability to think for himself. An unexercised brain atrophies. This provided one explanation for why the IQ of government employees was statistically below average. Their innate intelligence was not necessarily subnormal. But the organizations in which they worked encouraged obedience, not independent thought, as the path to success. Stupidity can be a learned trait.
“Sir, do you have a weapon?”
Charles struggled internally. “I have a paring knife on the table here. For apples. Want an apple?”
His exasperation apparent, the officer snapped, “Do you have any weapons on your boat, sir?”
Just then, one of the men opened up a hatch under a cockpit cushion and loudly called, “Guns here!” He reached down and pulled up an AR-15, magazine in place, safety engaged. He held it gingerly, as if it were a dead animal.
The officer said angrily, “Sir, you said there were no weapons on your boat!”
“Sir,” Charles replied with even more emphasis, “I didn’t have time to respond.”
The officer sneered and called to his two men: “Search the vessel.”
Justin’s note: You'll find out exactly what happens to our hero in part two, which we'll share tomorrow. In the meantime, now is the perfect time to purchase your copy of Drug Lord so you'll have the rest of this fascinating tale at your fingertips to pick up where we leave off.
You can get your copy from Amazon right here.