Archive for July 2015
The research team at Accentus-Ludus is busy working on a survey to gather data for a research paper/product we’re working on.
Can I ask you readers for some help?
The purpose of the survey is to gather data about the neural-based training that we do to support the continuing evolution of our training protocols. We’ve saved many thousands of lives in 25 years through our training – something we’re proud of.
We need data from people who have trained directly with me over the last 25+ years, people who have trained directly with an instructor who’s trained directly with me, and people who have not trained with me and have backgrounds in law enforcement, military (especially military special operations), high threat private sector security (PSD, etc.) and other high-stress professions (EMS, courtroom litigators, doctors, aviation, etc.).
The survey is COMPLETELY anonymous. You cannot be tied by name to any of the data. It takes between 15-30 minutes to fill out. You can skip questions that don’t pertain or you’re not comfortable answering.
Again, if you haven’t trained with me personally, you may have trained with some of the high level trainers that have who’ve utilized the neural-based training concepts (especially around situational awareness and vision skills).
If you are in one of the professions listed and haven’t trained in our methods, please feel free to participate as a control subject: law enforcement, military (especially military special operations), high threat private sector security (PSD, etc.) and other high-stress professions (EMS, courtroom litigators, doctors, aviation, etc.).
The final research product for this survey is a peer-reviewed published paper in a major psychology journal. The research paper and data will be available to all.
One of the very cool things about this survey is that it’s put me in touch with a lot of the operators and regular folks I’ve trained all over the world in the last 25 years. Some great stories (and some sad ones, too). These fall into the category of “anecdotal” data, so I just present them here as a way of sharing stories:
A police tactical officer in his first shooting puts a 2 round burst between the eyes of a felon firing a shotgun at the officer and his partner. His actions save the lives of several other team members.
Skills used: state management (controlling his psycho-physiological state during an immediate onset threat to life stress); vision skills (preventing tunnel vision through previous training and precise shot placement in close proximity to brother officers); temporal distortion (processing his temporal perception so as to maximize the use of “slowed down” time to get the best sight picture and precise trigger press).
An off-duty police officer is car-jacked and his 7-year old son taken hostage. In the fight, the officer kills 4 of the 6 armed attackers, rescues his son, and drives off the other 2 attackers.
Skills used: state access (of the adrenalized fighting state); state management (controlling his psycho-physiological state during an immediate onset threat to life stress); vision skills (preventing tunnel vision through previous training and precise shot placement in close proximity to his son); temporal distortion (processing his temporal perception so as to maximize the use of “slowed down” time to get the best sight picture and precise trigger press).
An on-duty police officer is ambushed. He’s shot in the head and completely through his heart. Despite his injuries, he pursues and brings down the shooter. The officer dies of his injuries while on scene.
Skills used: state access (of the adrenalized fighting state); state management (controlling his psycho-physiological state during an immediate onset threat to life stress); pain/wound management (controlling his pain response and body shut down to continue to fight despite non-survivable wounds).
A police officer’s home is invaded by four attackers armed with AK-47s. He’s shot in the torso while coming awake and going for his weapons. Despite being shot, he’s able to maintain control and consciousness while bound and beaten and bleeding. With the help of his wife and 4 year old son, he’s able to escape his bindings when the attackers flee upon discovering he’s a police officer. He fully recovers from his injuries and continues to operate and train to this day.
Skills used: state access (of the adrenalized fighting state); state management (controlling his psycho-physiological state during an immediate onset threat to life stress); pain/wound management (controlling his pain response and body shut down to continue to fight despite life-threatening wounds); retaining his higher order cognition to persuade the attackers to leave.
An operator in a military special operations unit kills (personally) 52 armed Taliban in one day during a mountain gunfight that rages for over 72 hours.
Skills used: state access (of the adrenalized fighting state); state management (controlling his psycho-physiological state during an immediate onset threat to life stress); rheostat concept of state access (dialing up his adrenal response when necessary and dialing it back during lulls in the fight so as to minimize adrenal exhaustion)
A woman is woken by a man crawling through her bedroom window. She beats him unconscious with her father’s Colt Dragoon pistol.
Skills used: state access (of the adrenalized fighting state); state management (controlling her psycho-physiological state during an immediate onset threat to life stress);
A woman is confronted by a large, hostile, mentally disturbed male. She’s able to persuade the man not to harm her or anyone else and to leave the premises so she can notify police.
Skills used: state management (controlling his psycho-physiological state during an immediate onset threat to life stress); retaining her higher order cognition during immediate onset threat to life in order to verbally manage the situation and persuade the threat to leave.
A probationary police officer with three months on the street is in the car with her Field Training Officer. Upon responding to a bank robbery in progress, she is confronted at close range by five men firing assault rifles at her. She’s able to debus the vehicle under fire, assist her FTO and retreat to better cover while fighting back with her 9mm pistol.
Skills used: state access (of the adrenalized fighting state); state management (controlling her psycho-physiological state during an immediate onset threat to life stress); vision skills (preventing tunnel vision through previous training and precise shot placement in close proximity to her partner); temporal distortion (processing her temporal perception so as to maximize the use of “slowed down” time to get the best sight picture and precise trigger press).
I have lots more, but that’s it for today.
Major kudos to all these brave men and women who are out there doing Good in the world. I’m very proud to have had some small part in their training. Your help with my research survey will help us continue to save the Good Guys and Gals lives.
A multiple post from beneath two different hats: author and training designer.
In my writing post, a lesson on small town corruption (to my consultants, have a great weekend!); and in my training design post, a homage and lessons from one of my mentors.
Enjoy, have a great holiday weekend! Stay safe.
“So, what I’m saying is make the training as realistic as you can. Once they’ve got confidence doing it by day, then do it by night. Do it under all sorts of circumstances. What we’re looking for is, how far can you push that person? Where’s your breaking stress? We spring things on them when they’re tired. Once they’re confident with their basic training, then their advanced techniques come in. We keep on changing plots and plans and add in the old buggerance factor, where we’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, and let them make up plans to bring it back onto schedule. All the time they’ve got to be doing contingency planning, always be prepared for the worse. So have them look at the problem, let them do all their own planning, give them a time schedule that must be adhered to, but otherwise give them a free rein….then you put in some changes: that man is no longer available…change the time scale…All the time you’re changing the parameters and the goal posts, making it harder for them. And without them realizing it all the time, you’re seeing how they respond to realistic stress….
You have to do the training as realistic as you can. All through the training you must set standards and you must say, “You must meet these standards,” so everyone is under pressure all the time…They might make a mistake, but they must not make the same mistake twice.
Quote: John “Lofty” Wiseman, Regimental Sergeant Major (retired), 22d Special Air Service.
Go here for the interview and Lofty’s history as the Godfather of American Special Operations Forces: https://marcuswynne.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/blast-from-the-past-john-lofty-wiseman-on-military-and-police-special-operations/
My random thought for today is about training design, and how infrequently training designers and instructors of survival skills (like firearms use) address the how to do of working through a fight problem in real time.
Yeah, I know they teach malfunction drills and reload — all the technical skill and weapons manipulation stuff.
But that’s not what I mean.
What I mean is the cognitive skill (meta-skill, if you like science-y words) of problem solving in real time while under threat to life stress. I think most instructors and training designers mistake the ability to perform a technical skill well in the training environment guarantees the transference of that skill to the real world and real world stress. Further, I think most instructors may (unconsciously) create and sustain a state of “learned helplessness” in their students when it comes to solving problems – all in the name of “safety.”
Don’t get me wrong, safety is important…but is it the single most paramount element to consider in training personnel who, as their job, must go in harm’s way with a live weapon to confront real bad guys?
I had a discussion with a friend in a Tier One Unit. We were discussing my experiments in accelerating the training of technical skill sets (weapons manipulation, marksmanship, short range tactical engagements) to a level of performance under stress that began to approach that of experienced Tier One operators.
His counter point (a very good one) is that “Tier One operators are the result of a long selection and training process; just because someone can manipulate the weapon as fast or engage targets as fast in a training environment doesn’t mean they have the judgment forged in experience during deployments and continual training and operations to employ that weapon successfully in the real world.”
While many (most?) people have forgotten the Prince’s Gate hostage rescue in London, it’s still studied intensively by special operations units and some police tactical units. I’m fortunate to have had the detailed debrief courtesy of Lofty who trained the original SAS hostage rescue and close protection teams. The single hugest point in his debrief was this: everything possible that could go wrong, did go wrong. And despite that, the team and team members solved, in the moment, every problem that came up and continued to drive on and accomplish one of the most daring wins in the history of special operations.
Which comes back to the point my Tier One friend made – “judgment honed in deployments and endless training/operational use.”
And the meta-skill is summed up in this old phrase: Adapt, improvise, overcome.
In the moment, under life and death stress.
So if that’s the most important skill, the single most important aspect or attribute of the mental platform that underlies Tier One (or any other high performer) cognition and neurology, how do we a) identify/assess that b) select for it c) TRAIN it early in the flow?
Answering all that takes way too much writing time, so let’s just focus on one small piece of the training solution:
How about letting people fuck up (safely) and solve their own problems, instead of hovering over them like a Jewish mother on meth? Have you ever noticed, on a firearms training line, how often instructors step in at the first sign of difficulty and solve the problem for the student?
What does that do to the student’s brain? What’s the (unconscious) message in that action?
What it does is train the student, while under stress, to look around for someone else to help them solve the problem, or to solve the problem for them.
What is the non-verbal message transmitted by those actions? “You aren’t capable of figuring this out by yourself; I’ll do it for you, and then next time maybe you’ll remember how I solved it….”
An acquaintance of mine, a senior chief in a maritime special operations training unit, and I were talking about how to modify small unit tactics training. My opinion was that the most important aspect of teaching ambushes isn’t just the mechanical skill of setting up an L-shaped hasty ambush; it’s teaching the MENTAL methods, the thinking, that recognizes the opportunity, and organizes the available resources (people, weapons, terrain) into an effective use of the technique.
If you have the mental platform down, then you can perform ANY technique well under ANY circumstances (see Lofty’s quote at the beginning of this…)
What this requires, in the training piece, is instructors who are able to “not-instruct” when appropriate (which is way more often than instructors want to think about when teaching adults) and let students work through a problem – to the point of when they ask for help, saying, “How do you solve that problem?” and stepping back…and letting them work it out…and providing guidance rather than resolution. Give them principles and a direction, and trust that an adult will be smart enough to work it out within the parameters the instructor sets up.
Some people describe that as “sink or swim” – which is not a bad option if you’re TRAINING for worst case scenarios –
Can you do this safely? Of course you can. It only requires an instructor confident enough to change his or her paradigm of “being the one who teaches” to “one who facilitates the learning” and manages (rather than hands on directs) the learning experience of the student.
A subtle distinction, but essential.
“The secret of success is this. Train like it means everything when it means nothing – so you can fight like it means nothing when it means everything.” Lofty Wiseman.
A very, very Wise Man.
A Rare Writing Writer Post! Lessons On Crime & Corruption from THE ACHY MAN, and a sneak peek at THREE’S WYLDE
Small towns are interesting places. Or so I find them. They’re like fishbowls. Small enough to see just about everything that goes on. You can study denizen interactions much more closely than you might in a much bigger aquarium. As a fictioneer, small towns provide great creative grist for the mill.
In the next Marius Winter book, THE ACHY MAN, the action shifts back and forth from the small town of Decanter, MN — a nest of evil dominated by the extended family of an evil patriarch, The Achy Man — and Marius Winter’s stalwart band of Light Warriors in Minneapolis.
Epic evil and stalwart good. Just the kind of story I like to write. This interview on WWE legend (and my very great friend and supporter) Lance Storm’s BookMarks site outlines my interest (obsession?) with both lower case and upper case Evil from a very early age. http://www.stormwrestling.com/bookmarks/warrior.html
Small towns let you see that up close. Not just evil, but good as well; not just cowardice, but courage as well. Writ small for close study.
As a co-owner and founder of a bleeding edge DOD research & development company, I am by definition a researcher/investigator, a skill set I honed early in my professional career. My research and investigation into the nuts and bolts of how corruption and crime festers in a small town (or a large one, if writ large) has been fascinating.
I thought I’d share some nuggets gleaned from various sources here, just bullet points, on some of the real-world how-to when it comes to crime and corruption.
For the FULL story, you’ll have to read the book, coming soon, right after the next WYLDE book. Also, for my fans, I recovered the rights to my first three books, and they are available in e-book format at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Marcus-Wynne/e/B001KEE9I4/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1434322253&sr=1-2-ent and Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MarcusWynne and Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/marcus-wynne. On various torrent sites as well, since I don’t DRM my books, but I hope you’ll spend the cost of a cup of coffee to read them.
My acknowledgements to all those crime and corruption experts who furthered my education and enabled The Achy Man. You know who you are.
HOW TO CORRUPT AUTHORITY FIGURES
MICE and RASCLS:
If you’re going to study corruption and how to corrupt, it’s good to do a survey of the literature before you launch your field work. Here’s an excellent how-to courtesy of the Culinary Institute of America: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol.-57-no.-1-a/vol.-57-no.-1-a-pdfs/Burkett-MICE%20to%20RASCALS.pdf
I wrote a short story a long time ago titled “Money, Sex, and Secrets.” While that was a study in the man/woman courting dance there’s a lot of truth in that title when it comes to getting people (in this instance, people with authority and power, like bankers, lawyers, city officials, cops, deputies, judges, FBI agents, etc.) to do bad things for you.
In a small town where, for instance, cops and deputies don’t get paid a lot, you want to control high paying part time jobs – like security guard gigs. Build reliance on the part-time income and the favor requests that will come to you – for instance, maybe you know a banker that might give a “friend” a break on mortgage payments, or ease a loan along for somebody with bad or no credit.
Then when you need that “friend”, you have favors in the favor bank. What might you need them for? Maybe to get your kid off the hook for some minor indiscretion (or a major one); maybe you want to “teach someone a lesson” and are afraid or unwilling to do your own dirty work. That ties into….
HOW TO INTIMIDATE AND HARASS (and get away with it…for a while anyway)
In a small town, “big names” often can get away with directly threatening “small names.” Money = influence = favors, especially if there’s a history of significant fund-raising on behalf of sheriffs, states attorneys, mayors, and city council members. Maybe there’s a deputy or a cop that relies on your part-time income and favors and might have a skeleton or two in the closet (or the cornfield) that they’d rather not have someone know about. And so he owes you. Might make a great pawn of the Devil, you reckon?
But what if someone doesn’t take the hint, or is too high profile to come at directly?
That’s where The Achy Man starts. Here’s a taste:
THE ACHY MAN
They had been beating him for a long time.
One of them, who’d been a deputy for not quite as long as the other, wondered how long the prisoner would last. His partner, a big porcine man, had been working on the man’s face, which no longer looked like a face – it looked like old meat turning blue in the sun.
But there wasn’t any sun.
Just a quarter moon in the night sky, the only sounds beside the dull wet thump of flesh breaking under fists and boots the whisper of the wind in the corn stalks, and every once in awhile the distant hiss of a car passing by.
“How long before he dies?” the younger deputy said.
The older man looked over at him. Silent. Blood spray on his face. Considered the question. “Not long.”
He stepped away, then kicked the man curled in a ball at his feet.
“I want you to kick him,” the older deputy said.
The look on the older man’s face set the younger to almost shitting his pants.
“I’m not asking you. Kick him.”
The younger man poked at the prisoner with his boot.
A slap across his face stunned him, the solid thwock of the meaty palm across his narrow face echoing in the corn field.
“Don’t play with me,” the older deputy said. “Kick him. In the face.”
So he did.
After, when the last breath wheezed between the broken stubs of the dead man’s teeth, the younger deputy leaned over and vomited his fried chicken dinner. The older one threw him a shovel.
“I did the work,” the older deputy said. “You dig the hole. Dig it deep. And roll him in it.” He laughed. “That’s how we roll in Mason County.”
Lieutenant Dick Gant steered his Mason County Sheriff Department squad car around the parking lot in a big circle. The other deputies were careful to ignore him, avoid eye contact. Gant wasn’t a big man, but he had a hateful, bitter twist to his face, and besides the stink of tobacco that surrounded him there was always a sense of, well, jangling was what one deputy described it. Loose cannon didn’t catch all of it.
Just plain mean, was what one dog handler said.
“If he was a dog, I’d put him down,” the handler said. “No training that bitch.”
` The other deputies laughed long and loud, as they always did, as long as the lieutenant wasn’t around. The loot had a long memory, and if you got on his bad side, you never got off, and he had a gift for making life hell for people. He nursed a particular grudge for anybody who did their job well, and an open contempt for the deputies who might actually take their job and the shield they wore seriously.
Made you wonder what his idea of the job was about, but then, in Decanter, you didn’t ask those kind of questions. Not if you were a deputy and you wanted to get out of the jail and out on the road, not get caught in the hell of the corrections unit or, worse, court services.
And then there was always the question of the payroll.
Not the paycheck, meager as it was, they collected every other week.
The Loot had a lot to do with that.
But then, he’d been around for a long time.
Wilhelm (known as Will or Willy at his insistence) Eichmann threw his golf clubs in the truck of his Crown Vic, slammed the hood down and slid into the front seat. From a distance, the brown Crown Vic looked like a police cruiser; it was the same basic model as the State Police used, with a mounted light on the driver’s side, and a set of antennas on the rear bumper.
Pretty fancy ride for a bank guard, or so some of the cops he liked to hang around with said. He pretended not to hear, forced a laugh, and bought more rounds than he should, but that was the price he thought he had to pay to hang out with the real cops. Once, a long time ago, he’d thought about going for it, taking the exam, going through the academy…either the police department or the sheriff’s department, but the prospect of having to ride in a car alone, even with a gun, at night in Decanter, was something he never wanted to face up to.
So he settled for the next best thing, which was an okay paying job as a guard which led to pretty rapid advancement, and after twenty years he had his look alike cruiser, a lieutenant’s rank in the bank’s regional investigation team, and a whole team of his troops, as he liked to call them, to order around.
And he had his cruiser.
He backed out of the parking lot, shooting a hard look at a couple of old-timers who brushed by his car — washed everyday, stroked lovingly by hand himself, in the driveway of his house — almost marring the near mirror finish he liked to keep on the car. He rolled down the power window, and propped his elbow in the open window, just like a real cop, or so he thought.
He drove down Woodrow to Washington and made a left, tooling down past Sacred Heart Church, then onto the main drag that took him into the little downtown of Decanter. He parked his car across the street from the courthouse, checked the time on his cheap Rolex knock off, and went into the lobby, and paused beside the security checkpoint.
“Hey Will,” said Deputy Jeff Parrott. He was short, lean built in the same way a pit bull is, all muscle and bone, blond and with a certain coldness that led most anyone with any sense to avoid him. Hard to do when you’re a prisoner in custody, but then in Decanter, what happened in the jail stayed in the jail. Or so that was what word on the street was.
Willy Eichmann puffed up, looked around as he did, always checking to see if anyone was looking at him – especially someone of importance, somebody higher up the food chain than him, and even in a town this small, there were quite a few, in the Sheriff’s Department, the County Attorney’s office, the County Board, the bank management…the list went on.
But in his little world he liked to think he was the top dog. He wasn’t shy about reminding those that worked for him, including the deputies who moonlighted (against county regulations) as armed couriers on his armored truck runs, and they tolerated him because he paid well and on time, and in Decanter that went a long way.
“Jeff,” Eichmann said. “How’s it going? How’re the troops today?”
Jeff let the hint of a sneer cross his face and looked away. “Troops?” he said. “Yeah, us troops are just fine.”
The other deputy, a heavy-boned man with the long jowls of a hound dog, head closely shaven, crossed his arm and grinned at Eichmann.
“Hey Will,” said the deputy, whose name was Fergus. “Saw your kid the other night. Over by the high school.”
“That’s where he works,” Will said.
“I thought they was a law against school employees hitting on students,” Fergus said. “In this state I believe that’s a sex offense.”
Will grinned, quick and false, looked around. “That’s funny.”
Fergus grinned. “Yep. Real funny. Kinda weird, but what do I know?”
“Kids,” Will said. “Your kids, somebody else’s…pain in the ass. I don’t know why people bother anymore.”
“Funny thing for a father to say,” Jeff said.
Will shrugged and looked into the distance. “Some kids are more of a pain than others.”
Will Eichmann’s kid was cruising around in his red Ford Explorer, his elbow resting propped in the open window, his hand curled around a Styrofoam cup of coffee — just like a real cop. His buddy Danno was sitting in the passenger seat, flipping through a magazine of Eastern European porn, “the fancy stuff” as he liked to say.
“The fuck?” Bryant Eichmann said.
“What?” Danno (known as Good Twin) said, distracted by the high resolution close ups of shaved pussy and dick, something he thought of often in his role as catamite…
To Be Continued…
And for my long-suffering and very patient fans, here’s the opening of the soon-to-be released Three’s Wylde:
THREE’S WYLDE: Chapter One
Nico and Nina and assorted Hmong Warlords in the Wreckage of a CIA Safe House
Nico was dreaming. Or maybe he just thought he was dreaming. There was a book he’d read when he was in the ‘Stan, curled up in his bunk, some paperback one of the other operators of a more spiritual-philosophical-rainbows and unicorn bent had left — something about meditation or some shit like that. There was a story in there about a butterfly dreaming it was a butterfly, but it was a man dreaming about a butterfly dreaming it was a butterfly.
He couldn’t remember, for some reason, the specifics of the story, but it seemed silly. But somehow, right now, it just seemed appropriate.
Nico took a breath, gagged. He felt as though he were crushed, like someone had taken the butterfly he was dreaming about and swatted it with a newspaper.
He opened his eyes.
What the fuck?
Not a pretty sight: he was on the floor with half a wall of sheetrock, plaster, and twisted boards sprouting nails and wound up with electrical conduit pinning his legs and hips down. His hands and clothing were covered with white dust that hung in the air and burned his eyes. He could see a slice of the night sky, getting lighter be dawn soon, he thought and then he felt rather than heard the ringing in his ears, a tone getting sharper and louder probably lost an eardrum or two, my boy. Okay, situational awareness check…
First thing: was he injured? He wiggled his toes in his buried boots. Those worked. Twisted his feet and shifted his legs, they were sore as hell, but it was the sore of bruising and not the deep ache of broken bone, something he was familiar with. He was rewarded with the sight of the layer of rubble shifting off him; that’s good, he might just walk out of here. Before he moved further, he ran his attention up his body, paying attention to the spine and back — all good in the neighborhood so far. Head — ringing like a bell with a drunken gargoyle banging away on it, but still functioning. Wiggle fingers and arms, okay, that’s good. Weapon — where? Felt his pistol still in the IWB holster — good thing about those, the belt and the friction kept it in place — so he could still fight.
“Who’s in here?” he shouted. His voice sounded tinny and far away. He could hear, after a fashion, though the medics were going to have a hay-day with his annual physical.
“Who’s in here?” he shouted again.
In the middle of the room, two still forms, one small and curled like a sleeping cat, the other sprawled out wide, arms and legs akimbo.
“Nina?” Nico said. “Nina?”
Jimmy John, Deon, and Guz in the Detritus of a Major Gunfight
“Where’s your FAK?” Guz said.
“Back of the seat, head rest,” Deon said.
Deon knelt beside his Cherokee, and checked for a pulse on Jimmy’s neck. Still there, strong and steady. The blood ran hard and thick from a close bullet graze, down to the skull bone. Deon ran his fingers down the back of Jimmy’s neck, feeling for broken bone, checked the chest for any other wounds under the widening stain of blood on his shirt. Nothing.
Guz tucked in next to him, the Promed Tactical Medic Kit torn from the Velcro that held it in place behind the passenger seat headrest.
“What we got?” Guz said.
“Graze to the head, concussion probably, nothing else I see,” Deon said crisply. “You? You got blood coming out front and back, oke. Let’s see to you…”
Deon pulled an extra Israeli bandage from the kit, but Guz waved it off.
“Just stuff some Kerlix in front and back, Deon,” Guz said. “We’ll tape it off. Through and through, just meat.”
Deon tore open a Kerlix roll and tucked it into the wound. Guz stared straight ahead, controlling his breathing in that neat trick the Navy Performance Enhancement people taught their SEALs – autogenic pain control. Deon packed the wound, doubled over the trailing Kerlix and taped it in place.
“Let’s see to Jimmy…his neck okay?” Guz said.
“You want morphine?” Deon said.
“No. Messes up my shooting. I’m good to go.”
The two men, Deon more than Guz, slid Jimmy out of the Cherokee and onto the pavement. Far off, sirens sounded. Deon wiped the blood from Jimmy’s face and pressed a gauze pad against the wound when Jimmy opened his eyes and then grabbed Deon’s wrist like a rabid pit-bull on a stray rabbit.
“Where is she?” Jimmy said.
“Gone, Jimmy. They took her,” Deon said.
Jimmy sat straight up. His eyes started to roll back, but then he caught himself.
“Where’s my weapon?” Jimmy said.
Guz handed him his HK-416.
Deon taped down the gauze square with a few more stacked on top, then picked up his own long gun.
“Cherokee run?” Jimmy said.
“After a fashion,” Deon said.
“Which way?” Jimmy said.
Guz pointed with his chin. “That way.”
And from that direction, the smattering of sharp cracks. Gunfire.
Guz bared his teeth. “Time to run to the guns, men.”
Jimmy pushed himself up with his rifle. “Let’s go.”
“I’ll drive,” Deon said.
“Guess so,” Guz said. “You’re the only one who can. At least I can still shoot.”
The three men got in, Jimmy and Guz in the back, smashing out the broken side windows, and Deon pulled the Cherokee out, creaking as it went with the whine of bent metal, and turned towards the gunfire in the distance.
Mr. Smith, Exiting Starbucks, Stage Left
Mr. Smith, aka Hank, aka The Man With No Face, hurried down the street. The blast from his car bomb had already lit up the sky; buildings shook and he heard and felt the blast wave pass over him, some of it channeled by the buildings on either side of the street as a strong gust of wind.
The Winds of Change.
He had to laugh. Where did that come from? Jeezus, Hank old boy, are you getting philosophical in your old age? Bad trait. No time for introspection when you’re out in the weeds or, as in this instance, on the big bad streets.
Sirens in the distance, growing.
Damn. I wish I’d had that kid make me a mocha before I sent him away. Ah well. Caribou makes a better one, they use that real chocolate instead of that chocolate milk stuff.
It was late night breaking into early morning, but one thing about Lake City, the buses ran on time and this particular line, all damn night. In his head, since he wrote nothing down, there was a little notepad he visualized, to the up and left of his vision field, where he jotted down notes to himself I wonder if Hugh Prather is still around…I read that book NOTES TO MYSELF when I was young and dumb and full of cum, all kinds of romantic notions about love and duty and honor…and look at me now…
Where did that come from?
The notebook had the bus schedule and to the minute, this time of night, the bus was right there at the stop. Mr. Smith ducked his head, boarded, fed two one-dollar bills into the electronic meter.
“Transfer?” the driver said.
“Yes, please,” Mr. Smith said.
The driver looked at him as she handed the transfer over and recoiled at the full sight of his face.
“Pretty, ain’t it?” Mr. Smith said, snatching the transfer and walking away, leaving her with her mouth open.
“Better shut the door,” he said. “Never know who you might pick up.”
She shut the door and pulled away. Mr. Smith sank gratefully into the handicapped seats in the front. In the rear of the bus, a huddle of teenagers — black and white, boys and girls — were jabbering away at each other. One of them, a small boned boy with the fine features of pure Somali blood, pointed his cell phone at Mr. Smith.
“That’s the ugliest motherfucker I ever seen,” he said.
They all laughed, and only one had the grace to look away while she did.
Mr. Smith reached into his pocket, took out his eye drops, put some in till liquid ran red down his face, then dabbed at the wet spots with his handkerchief, spotted with blood.
Dee Dee Kozak, The Best Lady-Killer In Town
The blast woke her. She rolled up out of her bed and went to the window, opened the curtains. It was a way off but the sound rolled through the streets, vibrated her window, and she could see a plume of smoke. And then the sirens. It was a big one. Dee Dee was not an explosives kind of gal; she much preferred the up close and personal: knives and guns and occasional injections of various concoctions cooked up for her by clients. But a working knowledge of the Big Bang (and not just the sexual one) and its various permutations were required at her level of hired killer. That was a big-ass explosion, aka car-bomb unless Lake City had got it’s own Air Force and was dropping bombs.
She slipped the hotel’s excellent terrycloth robe around her otherwise bare skin (she liked sleeping naked, and so did the men she cuddled before she killed them) and eased open the door. In the front room, KiKi was curled like a kitten on the couch; the light from her open laptop monitors lit her like a lone figure on a stage.
Dee Dee smiled with something like a maternal warmth, though momming this kid was the furthest thing from her mind; KiKi Warren was worth, well, millions and the kid was just getting started. Thirteen. Who’d a thunk it?
Dee went into her bedroom and fetched a spare blanket from the closet, went back out and draped it gently over the sleeping girl. Nothing from Irina’s room; she’d noted that the former arms-dealer slept like a log and often buzzed like a saw. All good things, as it meant less hassle.
When she woke up in the middle of the night, Dee was wide-awake. Back to sleep or stay awake? The clock said 5:30. She could get another few hours sleep, or she could get a jump on the day, not that there was much for them to do till KiKi’s expensive Fedex shipment arrived. Guaranteed delivery by noon.
She started the coffee maker, though she disliked the cheap brand of coffee they used. Who was that guy, some ex-special forces contractor she’d made go away? He carried a Pelican case with his own French Press and several brands of coffee in it so he could make it wherever he went. She’d retired him permanently in Jacksonville, Florida, but not till she’d had a good cup of coffee while he slept in the coma of the well and properly fucked.
The coffee brewed while Dee Dee stared at it with the clarity of the early morning riser. When it was done, she took her cup back into the bedroom, shut the door and turned on the TV to the local station. Given the time frame, the news was right on it. That’s what she’d learned from watching “big events” — the locals were just as fast as the cops and the fire-fighters, and the late night shift was always the most hungry for a good story.
She curled up on the bed, tucked her legs beneath her, pulled the covers up and sipped the coffee. At least they gave her a good ceramic cup.
Pictures of a shattered building, broken glass and fire trucks, lights flickering, played across the television screen.
So much violence. I really have to find a more mellow place to hang.
Old Hippy With a Silenced Pistol, aka Shane, and His Crew
Shane studied the stripper pinned down in the back of the van. His guys grinned a little bit. She didn’t seem fazed. Gorgeous: red hair, pale skin, huge breasts, flat hard belly and those long, long legs. But she sure didn’t seem scared, which was, well, weird if you think about it — snatched at gun point in the middle of gun-fight which left her PSD dead or dying in the street, though those boys were some serious hard-asses — and yet she was calm as a monk in the fire, which Shane had seen once during a protest, scariest damn thing ever.
“Well, my pretty, what would your name be?” Shane said.
She took a breath, nice to watch in her barely clothed fashion, and said, “My name is Liz.”
Everyone in the back shifted as the van took a hard corner.
“Pull over,” Shane said.
“Now?” the driver said.
“That crew…” the driver said.
“…isn’t going anywhere,” Shane said. “I want to have a nice chat with Liz here and I don’t need to be bouncing around, and either does she. It’s distracting to a man, you know?”
The other men laughed, but one looked at Shane and said, “Really? Do we have fucking time for this?”
“Always,” Shane said.
The driver pulled the van over on an otherwise deserted side street.
The men pinning Lizzy down shifted their weight.
“Take it easy,” Shane said. “Liz isn’t going to give us any trouble, is she?”
“No,” Lizzy said. “I’m not.”
“Good,” Shane said. “Because while I don’t enjoy hurting or killing women, I won’t hesitate to do so if I have to. You seem like a good girl, so let’s not waste each other’s time. You answer my questions, you get out here and find your way back to wherever you need to be. You don’t answer my questions, then I will make it extremely unpleasant for you, and eventually you’ll tell me what I need to know. Okay?”
“Yes,” Lizzy said.
“You certainly are composed, Liz. I give you some big points for that,” Shane said. “Most women in your place would be shitting themselves right about now. Most men, for that matter. I admire that. You’re not drugged up or something, are you?”
“No,” Lizzy said. “I don’t use drugs.”
“You must be the only stripper I’ve ever met who didn’t,” Shane observed. “So, first things first. The old Vietnamese guy in the club. Wheel chair guy. Did he give you something?”
Liz stared up at him with those blue, blue eyes, the color of the Caribbean at under the sun. “Yes.”
“What did he give you?”
“A flash drive.”
“Where is it now?”
“I gave it back to him.”
“Before you came in.”
“Shit,” Shane said.
“I told you,” one of the other operators said. “Probably in the fucking wheelchair.”
“Too late now,” Shane said. “Why did he give it to you and then take it back?”
“He asked me to load it on the Internet,” Liz said.
“Did you?” Shane said.
“On the club computer. In the back. The dressing room.”
“We won’t be going back there,” another shooter said.
“No,” Shane said. “What site did you load it on?”
“I don’t know. I just loaded it on, a window came up and said click here, so I did. It uploaded to some place and when it was done, I gave it back to Mr. Po.”
“Mr. Po,” Shane said. “The website, did it have a name?”
“No,” Liz said. “Just numbers.”
“Do you remember the numbers?”
“What else do you remember about the site?”
Shane mulled this. “Okay. Next. Who the hell were those guys protecting you?”
Lizzy took a deep breath, released it. “Did you kill them?”
“I’m afraid so,” Shane said. “If it matters to you, they were very good. So who were they and why were they protecting you?”
Lizzy turned her head. “He was my lover.”
One of the men snickered. “Lover.”
“Shut up,” Shane said to him. “Okay, so one of them was your boyfriend. How come they were running such heavy weapons and why did they take you out of there? Did they know about that flash drive? Did you tell them about it?”
Liz was silent for a long moment.
“Hey, Liz,” Shane said. “Don’t fade out on me. You’re not clear yet. Did they know about the flash drive?”
“Yes,” she said.
“When did they know?”
“After I told them.”
“Which was when?”
“When they took me out.”
“What? They were there before you told them? Why were they there?”
“I don’t know why.”
“You don’t know why?” Shane said in disbelief. “You got three heavy duty hitters watching you and you don’t know why?”
“I don’t ask questions of Jimmy.”
“Jimmy, he was your boyfriend?” Shane said.
“Yes,” she said. “He’s my lover.”
“Was, Liz. Sorry.”
“No,” she said. “He’s alive. And he’s coming for me.”
“You’re fucking crazy,” one of the others said.
“What’s Jimmy’s full name?” Shane said.
“Well, Liz, I think Wylde fell, but I’m not going to argue with you. So who were the other…”
“Boss?” the driver said. “The Raven shows we got some inbound.”
“What is it?” Shane said.
“Looks like a guy…on a fucking horse?”
“A guy on a fucking horse, right…there,” the driver pointed out the window.
And there was indeed a big man on a black horse right outside the van.
“Oh, what a night,” Shane said under his breath. “Let me out.”
He opened the side door and got out, not really caring if horse-rider saw the girl or not. That’s the great thing about National Security — you could be riding a horse buck ass naked down the street spraying the sky with rifle fire chased by a Predator drone, if you had the right NatSec creds, nobody could detain you or say a word crossways.
And sometimes it was just easier and faster to put people down and let the sweepers follow up behind to sort it out. In the name of National Security.
Shane looked up at a big black horse and a big black man in a black Lake City Police Department uniform. Lovely. Since when do they have Horse Police?
“Officer,” Shane said. “I’m going to get my credentials out…”
“If I were you, I would not move,” the cop said. “You have the look of a dangerous man doing misdeeds, and if you were to move, I might be tempted to ventilate your shaggy old ass with a few high-velocity bullets. Now. Who would these other miscreants pinning that young lady down be?”
“Officer, I’m a Federal…”
“I believe I’m going to tell you to shut the fuck up and tell me what I ask and nothing else. I said, who are these miscreants pinning that young lady down? I believe I will have you tell them to unhand her.”
“Miscreants? Unhand? What the fuck, dude? We’re on the same side here…” Shane said, shifting his weight and clearing the line from the back of the van for the boys to light this crazy motherfucker up, as it seemed they may have to.
“Boss?” the driver said. “Dispatch got some squads rolling towards an explosion other side of town. The Electric Horseman there don’t have no back up.”
The Horse Cop grinned. A white slash of teeth. “I do believe you are miscreants and I will have to order you all to assume the prone position.”
“What the fuck is a miscreant?” one of the Liz’s captors said.
“I am coming to believe that you are all uneducated as well as ugly motherfuckers,” the Horse Cop observed. “A miscreant is a person who behaves badly or breaks the law. I’m seeing bad behavior as well as breaking the law, and as an Officer of the Law, I find that offensive. I may have to shoot you.”
Shane couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Dude, you off your meds or what? I said we are Federal agents. I have credentials. This woman is our prisoner…”
Like magic, the Horse Cop presented not one, but two damn .45s, looked like Smith M&Ps. How the fuck does he steer the horse that way? Shane thought.
“I think you best get down on the ground, and order your boys to unhand that woman. I sense a disturbance in the Force, and I believe you may be non-compliant with my lawful orders. I am beginning to feel threatened.”
“Dude, you are batshit crazy, and I’m not…” Shane started.
“Listening?” the Horse Cop said.
One of his guys rolled out from around the door, shouldering a MP5SD and said, “Engage, boss?”
The Horse Cop didn’t blink as he shot Shane’s guy right between the eyes. His horse reared up and for a moment, in that little bit of slowed down time, Shane thought, This is like a bad nightmare and an old episode of the Lone Fucking Ranger…
The Horse Cop steered the horse with his knees, just like a cowboy, and every time he turned those damn pistols flamed out. Shane ducked and caught a grazing round as he knelt behind the van; the driver, fumbling for his pistol, took several rounds right in the face from near point blank range as the Horse Cop wheeled his horse around.
In the van, all the men let go of Lizzy but one whose grip on her wrist was like a cuff of steel.
“Stay right here,” he hissed.
They grabbed weapons, tried to get out the door…but the gunfire from the cop kept them away from the open door. One of them hit the latch on the back door, kicked it open and rolled out, leaving Liz and her sole captor.
“Driver up! Driver up!” Shane shouted.
The man holding Lizzy shoved her to the floor and said, “You move, I’ll kill your fucking ass.”
He climbed over the seat, yanked the driver to one side and slid into the seat. “Driver up!”
Lizzy slid out the open side door and ran.
Shane leveled his pistol at her and caught another round across the top of his arm. This Horse Cop could shoot…how the hell did the night get this way?
“Mount up, mount up!”
The Horse Cop put the horse — and him, pistols blazing away, punching holes in the window glass and sheet metal of the van — between the van and the fleeing girl.
“Back it up!” Shane shouted. He jumped in the open side door, and the shooter who’d dismounted jumped in the back, narrowly escaping being pinned beneath the vehicle. Shane was treated to the sight of the Horse Cop doing a reload. Who the hell teaches somebody to do tactical reloads in the middle of a gunfight on a horse?
“Clear, boss!” the driver shouted.
“Get us the fuck out of here, we’ll come back for her,” Shane said. “Fuck, fuck, fuck!”
The other shooter looked at the Horse Cop in the distance. A round punched another hole in the sheet metal as the driver twisted the wheel and turned the vehicle away.
“I’ve been in gunfights on three continents with everybody from Spetnaz to Hizballah. I never shot it out with a black man on a horse,” he said.
“Shut – the – fuck – up,” Shane said. “I can’t believe this shit.”
“Miss, I need you to stop,” the Horse Cop shouted.
Lizzy stopped, turned and saw the bullet riddled van pulling away. The Horse Cop guided his horse up to her, handling it only with his knees while he reloaded both his pistols, holstered one. He took out his radio.
“Mounted 156,” he said.
“Go ahead, Mounted 156.”
“Shots fired, miscreants engaged, white van, Minnesota tags, Love Mike Echo 5-4-7-3, plenty of holes in it, two KIA, several WIA, total six bodies in van, last seen heading south on Warren at a high rate of speed.”
“Mounted 156, copy, you all right, T?”
“I’m as fine as frog’s hair.”
“Frog’s hair? I’ve never seen frog’s hair.”
“That’s how fine it is,” the Horse Cop said.
Laughter on the radio. “Copy, Mounted 156. Going to be slow with a supervisor, we have another blast incident. That wasn’t you, was it?”
“No, ma’am. It was not.” He paused. “Miss, do you require medical assistance?”
“No,” Lizzy said. “I don’t. Thank you.”
“No thanks necessary, Miss.” To the radio, he said, “Mounted 156, clear.”
He looked down at Lizzy. “While it no doubt violates many regulations, I believe you could probably use a lift down to the Precinct, Miss.”
“I can walk,” she said. “What is your name?”
“I am Officer Thomas Hanks, Miss. T Hanks, or Thanks Be To God on the street.”
“Thanks be to God?”
“A miscreant named me that. As in ‘Thanks be to God that man ain’t mad at me.’ It stuck after a while.”
“It’s very appropriate,” Lizzy said. “Thank you. And thanks be to Creator God for you coming along when you did.”
“Yes, Miss. I offer up thanks to God every moment of my day.”
“I’m grateful to you for your work going in harm’s way on behalf of others. I think you saved my life just now.”
“Thanks are not necessary. Though appreciated. I think, given your state of undress, that you may prefer to ride behind me. I will offer you my jacket and we will proceed to the Precinct House.”
Hanks took off his leather jacket and handed it to Lizzy, who draped it around her shoulders. He held out a shovel sized hand and gripped hers, lifted her as though she weighed nothing and put her behind him.
“You’ll have to hang on,” he said. “It may be a bit uncomfortable, but I think it’s faster than walking.”
Lizzy clung to him, and Hanks urged his horse into a fast canter down the street. In the distance, a set of headlights grew, coming towards them.
The Jimmy, Deon, and Guz Show, to the Rescue
“It was right down here,” Deon said.
The Cherokee squealed and whined with wheels scraping against bent undercarriage and twisted metal, but it still went, shaking like a palsied dog.
Jimmy and Guz turned outboard in the back seats, where they could see to the sides and the rear, weapons at the ready.
Deon glanced in the rear view mirror. Steady men, rock hard bastards. He grinned his fighter’s grin, a baring of teeth. Oh, okes, someone’s gonna pay this night…blood will spill and heads will roll…
He gunned the clanking Cherokee as fast as it could go. His insurance company would be unhappy with him. Ah well. That’s what insurance was for.
“How’s your head, Jimmy?” Guz said.
“Doesn’t hurt. My ears are ringing and I’m not seeing really well,” Jimmy said. “You okay?”
“Through and through. Not my first time at the rodeo. If there’s any precision shots, you best let me take them if you’re not seeing well.”
“Fair enough, Guz.” Jimmy paused. “Thanks for being here. Both of you.”
Guz scanned his sector. “Beats selling shoes, dude.”
Next block, on the left, Deon’s eyes narrowed.
“Okes, look to the left and what do I see?” he said.
He slowed the Cherokee. On the opposite side of the street was Lizzy on the back of a big Lake City Police horse, a Lake City PD leather jacket draped over her shoulders, behind a very large Lake City PD officer eyeballing their bullet shattered vehicle.
Deon slammed on the brakes.
The cop pulled not one but two pistols, S&W M&P .45s from the look of them. “I suggest you stop right where you are, gentlemen, and show me your hands.”
Lizzy said, “Those are my friends. That’s my Jimmy.”
“They may be your friends, but they will show me their hands and stay right where they are,” Hanks said.
“Lizzy!” Jimmy shouted, his voice cracked.
Deon and Guz grinned. Some day, down the road, they would tease him about that, but not now. Jimmy scanned the road, laid his rifle down and climbed out the broken window, stumbling as he came around. The cop pointed a pistol at him and kept the other one aimed at the Cherokee.
“Sir, you may be her friend, but I require you to stop where you are and keep your hands where I can see them,” Hanks said.
Jimmy stopped, and Lizzy dropped to the ground and rushed to him. She paused, her hands raised just short of touching him, reached to the bloody bandages on his head. “Jimmy…?”
“I’m okay, it’s nothing, are you….?”
“I’m fine. Thanks to Officer Hanks…”
Jimmy looked up at the big horse cop. “Thank you. I owe you. More than I can say.”
Hanks looked at the Cherokee. Deon and Guz had their hands out the window, weapons out of sight. The cop laughed.
“I have been told I have a fondness for drama,” Hanks said. “But this is why I became a Po-Lice. You can’t make this shit up. Gentlemen, you all look seriously banged up. So I think we’re all going to take a knee while I call some EMS and my most-tardy supervisor. Is that agreeable with you all?”
“Yes, sir,” Jimmy, Deon and Guz said in unison.
“Oh, goody,” Guz said. “Can I whine now?”
“No whining, oke. Not in your contract,” Deon said.
“Whine all you want, Guz,” Liz said.
Jimmy just held her, carefully, and she stroked his back.
Hanks looked down from his mount and grinned. Oh, he so loved a good story. This would be one for the books. He took out his radio. “Mounted 156, I need EMS and a supervisor. I have a kidnap victim and three sorely wounded individuals of her acquaintance. I recognize one of them as a mostly-law-abiding citizen and proud supporter of the Second Amendment and the American Way, so all’s good here.”
“Mounted 156, copy, EMS wagon is taking a delay, but we can pry one loose from the bombing scene, no mass casualties over there. Hang tough, big man.”
“Thank you, ma’am. Mounted 156 most grateful to you.”
He set his microphone back and said, “Mr. Oosthuizen, so glad to see you again. Are you still dominating the IDPA league?”
Deon grinned. “I was hoping you wouldn’t recognize me, Officer. It’s true I like to shoot a little bit.”
“How many people have you shot this evening?”
“Respectfully, Officer Hanks, I must decline to answer at this time, as I’m suffering from injuries and would not want to present you with erroneous information,” Deon said earnestly. “I will be happy to provide a full statement once I have had medical treatment and a doctor’s assurance that I am of full mental capacity and, of course, after a consultation with my attorney.”
Hanks laughed. “Fair enough, Mr. Oosthuizen. You got a medical kit there? Your friend not going to bleed out or anything, is he?”
“I’m fine, Officer,” Guz said. “Do you go to a special school to shoot from horseback?”
“We do specialized training, sir. And we practice a bit.”
“I notice you run two guns,” Guz said.
Deon laughed. “That’s all you can see right now.”
“Yes, sir,” Hanks said. “I am of The School of Two Guns.”
“I’m a fan of Musashi myself,” Guz said. “I think I’m going to find a cave when I’m sixty and write my memoirs.”
“Those will be of interest, I believe, Sir. Do you require any treatment till the EMS gets here?”
“No, I’m good. Thanks,” Guz said. He leaned back on the seat and rested his head. “My Jeep is wrecked. My wife is so gonna kill me.”
Mr. Smith aka Hank, On The Bus, Continued
Mr. Smith dabbed his eyes, noted the blood, then tucked his otherwise white handkerchief away.
“Oh, look, he’s crying,” the Somali kid in the back said.
“Waaahhhh,” one of the others said.
Mr. Smith took out a Chapstick, rubbed some on his finger and carefully applied it to his reconstructed lips.
“Needs some new lipstick,” the Somali kid said. “Not that it would help.”
“Word, dat,” said his friend, a white kid dressed like he’d fallen off the hip hop wagon.
The bus driver looked in her rear view mirror, then stared straight ahead at the road. She’d learned a long time ago that some things weren’t worth getting wound up about, let alone involved in.
Mr. Smith studied his reflection in the window above the empty seat across from him. The pale expanse of his scarred face, partially hidden by his turned up collar and his snappy fedora. His tongue darted at his lips. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a thick wad of bills, dropped it in his lap, and fumbled out a $20. He shoved the bills back in his pocket and held up the twenty.
“Hey, loud mouth,” he said. “Yeah you, Somali Boy. This is for you and your friends. Go buy some fucking manners.”
He dropped the $20 on the seat, stood up as he rang the stop buzzer. The driver looked at him, looked in the mirror.
“Uh, sir, are you sure you want to get off here?”
The bus slowed to a stop, the doors opened, and as Mr. Smith expected, the gang of teens rushed forward to grab the $20. He started walking down the street, exaggerating his limp, which was actually bothering him quite a bit, but he wasn’t quite ready for his pain pill. He heard the kids shouting, and then the sound of them getting off, the bus door hissing shut, and then the voice he expected from behind him.
“Yo, Ugly Man! Ugly Old Man! Yeah, you, turn around when I’m talking to you…”
If he had been able to, Mr. Smith might have grinned as he held up his hands and turned around. About twenty yards and gaining fast, led by the Somali kid holding up the twenty.
“Where’s the rest, Ugly Man? Give it up, you won’t get hurt…”
“C’mon, Rasheed, leave him alone, he’s handicapped,” said one of the girls, the one who had looked away when the others were laughing.
“He ain’t handicapped, he just ugly,” Rasheed said.
Mr. Smith clocked the distance, 15 yards and closing…he dropped his hands and swept open his coat, acquired his pistol and snapped into a nice sight picture right on Rasheed’s nose, which brought the boy and his entire crew to a sudden halt.
“Oh, no,” Mr. Smith said. “I’m so afraid. I think I’m being threatened with a gang beat down. Oh dear. I think I may just have a heart attack…or something. How ’bout you, Rasheed? You gonna have a heart attack…or something?”
Rasheed was keenly aware of his crew stacked up behind him. “You ain’t gonna shoot, Ugly Man. We’re minors. You go to prison and be getting fucked in your ugly face.”
“I worry about the future of our nation, you know, Rasheed? Guys like you running around, threatening old handicapped people…not because you’re Somali, though I have killed a number of your countrymen…but because you’re just a vicious piece of shit looking to hurt somebody for no other reason than because, well, you think you can,” Mr. Smith said in his most conversational voice. “But I got to tell you, I feel really threatened right now. Like my life is at risk. Is my life at risk, Rasheed?”
“You bet it is, bitch. I’m gonna kill…”
Mr. Smith pressed the trigger and tracked the front sight up and back. He watched the slide track up and in the background, a white and red hole appear in Rasheed’s forehead, just above the bridge of his finely shaped nose. Bit high, but he was tired. Rasheed collapsed like the proverbial bag of rocks; the good thing about head shots, properly executed, was that the recipient cleared the line for a linear problem.
“Wow,” Mr. Smith said. “I’m really frightened now. Are the rest of you threatening my life?”
“God, please!” the girl screamed. “Don’t kill me!”
“Actually, you’re the only one I’m not going to kill, honey. Because you seem to have some smidgen of humanity left in you. Run. Now. Because I’m going to kill all your friends right now,” he said.
The others held their hands up. “Please mister, we’re gone…”
“You killed Rasheed!” the white boy screamed.
He was number two.
In the aftermath, Mr. Smith casually reloaded his pistol, scanned the street. Suitably deserted. Well, the papers would have a full day tomorrow. And the streets would be a little bit safer. What was it that Jimmy John used to say all the time? “Wherever I go, everyone is a little bit safer.”
Unless you’re a disrespectful dirt bag.
He walked away, whistling his favorite tune: It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood, won’t you be mine, won’t you be mine…”
To Be Continued….