Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Holy War

Sunday. Recently. Just after church.
I woke with a start as the door to my compound slammed closed. I was out of bed and in a combat-crouch in a second, a ten-inch combat knife (autographed by Oliver North) in my hand. Heavy footsteps coming down the hall towards my bedroom. I glanced towards the window.
"Randy!" my mom called from the hallway. "Get up, I've got good news!" Damnit.
"Mom, you could have been killed." I undid the padlock and chain, unlocked the four deadbolts, and opened my bedroom door. "You know you're supposed to yell 'code driftwood' when you come in."
"Oh, I'm sorry honey," she said. "But--Randy, what are you wearing?" I glanced down at my bikini briefs, the black ones with the message on the front. All Merc and No Play.
"Sorry, Mom. Didn't expect you home so soon." I covered myself with the towel I keep beside my bed for soaking up the night-sweats.
"Come on out to the living room, honey, I've got great news. But get dressed first."
She thudded back down the hall. She's a large woman, God bless her, but I love her. That's why I agreed to move in with her after my wife left me. I knew she'd need the protection in this age of terror. Hell, I even let her pay the bills, so she can feel like she's contributing something.
I dressed, combed my mustache, and wandered into the living room to find my mom joined by Reverend Forrest, the chief sky-pilot at the First Baptist Church of the Little Baby Jesus, her congregation.
"Brother Randy," Forrest said, standing to hug me.
"Reverend," I said, grudgingly accepting his embrace. He smiled too much for my taste, and I don't like guys hugging me anyway. Che Guevara was a hugger, you know.
"You missed a good churchin' today, Randy," Forrest said. "Guess you were...Busy?" He cast his eyes towards my bedroom.
"It was a good sermon," my mom said, saving me. "Reverend Forrest said that Jesus has a list of everyone who voted for Bush, and that when evolutionists make Baby Jesus cry, he just reads that list and it cheers him right up."
"Interesting," I said. Bush is a bit liberal if you ask me, but then again those church types are all soft-hearted. "Shame I missed it."
"Sure is," Forrest said, still beaming, "but you'll be seein' plenty of the church so don't you worry."
"I will?" Uh-oh. My mom hadn't signed me up for the choir again, had she?
"Tell him the good news, Reverend," Mom said.
"The Good News is, Jesus is Lord," Forrest said. "And the other good news is, I've got a job for you." He lowered his voice and added, "your mama says you've been out of work."
"Well, heck--pardon my French, Reverend--I need a job, but I don't know what kinda preacher I'd make."
Forrest and my mom burst out laughing, a bit longer than I thought was absolutely appropriate.
"Whew, that's a good one," Reverend Forrest said, wiping his eyes. "No, Randy, this job's right up your alley. Unlike--"
"Preaching!" Mom exclaimed, and they had another laugh.
"So what's the damned job? Darned job."
"Well, we've had some vandalism outside the church. Looks like the Devil got a hold of some teenagers and made 'em spraypaint a real ugly word on the door to the Spirit-Filled Singles Center."
"A REAL ugly word," my mom added, shaking her head sadly.
"Anyway," the Reverend continued, "we need us a security guard to work nights. I figure that's when them little bastards--I mean, them lost lambs--done it, at night."
Hell yes! Finally, some real mercenary work for me. I was practically drooling at the prospect, but tried to hide my excitement until we negotiated money.
"Sounds alright so far," I said. "How much a head?"
"What do you mean?"
"Reverend, they're probably just teenagers. We oughta return the torsos to their families."
"Randy's just jokin'," my mom said for some reason. "He wants the job, and he'll do real good. Six dollars an hour would be fine, Reverend, just like we talked about."
"Well..." He looked at me curiously. "Fine, then."
Saturday. 0200 hours. That's really late, to you civvies.
I was getting bored, and that was dangerous. Complacency can get you killed, but, Christ, I'd been outside the church every night now for almost a week, and still no action. I had set up my hide just outside the single's center, with the church itself at three o' clock, which with my NVG's gave me a good view of all the potential approaches to the property. I flipped the switch on my night-vision goggles and peered over my sandbags for another look around. Treeline. Nothing there. Single's Center--nothing there but the word "vagina" still painted on the door. I had suggested they leave it, for evidence. I scanned towards the church. Did something move in the bushes? I waited. Nothing. With a sigh, I turned the NVG's on the Guns & Ammo magazine I'd purchased earlier that day, hoping the article on concealed carry laws would keep me awake.
Then--a low creaking sound from the church. Door opening?
Instantly alert, I grabbed the shotgun I had borrowed from the Reverend. He'd fought me on the issue but thankfully I won that argument. I'd need all the firepower the Browning 12-gauge could offer. It was action time.
I belly-crawled around the perimeter of the church toward the front door, mentally double-checking my preparation as I did. Shotgun. Shell chambered. Knife. Strapped on and sharp as a razor. Camo. Head-to-toe, my face blackened with shoe polish as I'd run out of makeup. I paused and checked my canteen. Half full of chocolate milk. I hoped it would be enough.
After just over an hour of crawling, I got to the front of the church and had a look around the corner. Nothing in the eerie green glow of the NVG's but bushes and the steps to the front door. It's times like these that a man of action earns his money. Just before the shooting starts, those few seconds when lesser men decide to turn back and play it safe. I could crawl back to my hide, safe behind 500 sandbags, and let the police handle this situation. Yeah, and sit it out while some poorly-trained cops get killed by whoever was in that church. Not me. Not Randy McFab.
They had closed the door behind them--and locked it, I discovered when I gently tried the handle. No problem. Dynamic entry is one of my specialties. The shotgun in one hand, I slid off my backpack and removed my entry tool, a half-stick of dynamite I'd bought from a guy at a gun show. Fire in the Holy, I thought, and lit the fuse.
The explosion blew the door off the hinges, the flash of it temporarily blinding me even though the NVG's supposedly had circuitry to prevent that. Damned Jamaican equipment. Blind or not, I charged through the doorway, not wanting to lose the element of surprise.
I rolled, stood up, and waved the shotgun around in all directions, still unable to see.
"Nobody fucking drop your weapons!" I screamed. "I mean, nobody move! And drop your fucking weapons!" Silence, but for my own hyperventilating. My vision was slowly going from black back to NVG-green, but was still fuzzy. The smoke from the dynamite explosion didn't help visibility, either. Shit, the bad guys could be anywhere.
"Tell me when you drop your weapons, 'cause I can't see!" Still nothing. Then--out of the corner of my eye--someone there! Not a teenager, a grown man, and a biker or hippie by the look of him. I couldn't see if he was armed or not, but why take chances? The Browning roared.
I emptied the shotgun, sending all five shells' worth of 000-buckshot his way, then rolled behind a pew and back out the doorway.
Outside, I crouched by the steps and reloaded, not knowing if I'd killed the man or not--or if he'd been alone. It was time for reinforcements.
0400 hours.
Local SWAT had set up a perimeter before sending their boys inside. I waited outside with the County deputies while the entry team did their thing. After a few minutes inside, the SWAT guys emerged in their black BDU's, grinning as they dragged the corpse out.
"You're a bad man, McFab," one of them said as they threw the body down at my feet. "You killed Jesus."
"What?" I looked. Damn. It was the wooden statue of Jesus that stood by the altar, now looking a bit worse for wear after eating a pound of buckshot.
"Reverend ain't gonna like this, McFab," one of the cops said. "You killin' his saviour." The SWAT boys had a real good laugh at that, as I stood there, cheeks hot, not knowing what to say.
"That's right," another cop said. "I don't think you're cut out for police work, McFab. I reckon you oughta go back to being a famous mercenary."
"Hell yeah," another agreed. "Definite merc material."
Whew. They hadn't been laughing at ME, they'd been laughing at the situation, at the idea of a merc doing security-guard work.
"Yeah," I said, "guess I'm too quick on the trigger for badge work."
"Nah, McFab, great shootin'. You're a genuis."
Anyone could have mistaken Jesus for a criminal, and these boys realized that. They were probably impressed with how many times I had hit Him, as well. And to think, I had worried for a second they were making fun of me. I decided to get out of there before they begged me to go to work for County SWAT. A cop's life just wouldn't suit me, you know.
I'm a man of action.