Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sir, Men on the Mound!

1300 hours. Fort Braggart Unemployment Office and Crisis Pregnancy Center.
It looked like I had finally found a decent job. My welfare agent, having exhausted all leads for mercenary work, found me a security job with the company that stockpiles the road salt used to clear ice from our roads in the winter. Come March, the holding facilities are ghost-towns, deserted until the cold returns, and with no workers there they are as vulnerable as a thirteen-year-old girl at R. Kelly's birthday party. The salt company needed highly-trained security personnel who were willing to work for minimum wage, and I fit the bill nicely.
"It's a good job, honey," my case worker had said, tossing her braids for effect. "You'll just be guarding salt. They never even had security before, but a Homeland Security directive has classified salt as a biological agent."
"It's about time," I said. "Tangos go putting sugar on the roads--where would we be then?"
She apparently agreed, because she set up an interview for me.

1430 hours. Salt Talks, Inc. Corporate Headquarters.
I aced the interview, of course. Brandishing a weapon always speeds the hiring process along. The supervisor, Mr. Morton, led me outside to show me the layout of the facility.
"There's three mounds of salt," he said. "The guvment says we need one man per pile. You're gonna be in charge of Pile Two."
I looked around, a bit awed by the three-story-high salt piles. They looked like ski slopes, only smaller and better suited for rimming a margarita glass. I shuddered as I realized the only hard defence here was a chain-link fence topped with razorwire. The place wasn't even mined.
"Sir," I said, "I see that Pile Two is in the middle, between piles one and three. I would like to suggest that the officer in charge of Pile Two be made watch commander, due to the strategic location."
"Sure," Morton said, and tossed me a walkie-talkie. "Knock yourself out."
"Do I...Is there a uniform?"
"Yeah, wear some clothes. Had to fire that naked guy." With that, he shuffled off, indifferent to national security. If contempt had an odor, my feelings for Morton would have smelled like a crowded inner-city bus in July. Someone had to get serious about security around here, and that someone was me...Randy McFab, Watch Commander.

2300 hours, Salt Talks, Inc. Guard Shack.
I strode into the room in full security-guard regalia--black Nomex coveralls, respirator, combat boots, and my web gear with essentials such as pepper-spray, a blow-gun, and a water-pistol filled with my own urine. There were two men in the tiny trailer, hunched over a pack of nudey playing-cards spread out on the coffee table. They nearly fell out of their chairs when they saw my war-like appearance.
"Eleven-shun!" I shouted. "Ten-shun" is common in the military, but we mercenaries go one step further. The men didn't move. "Stand up, godamnit! I'm your new watch commander!"
"Uh. Okay," one said finally, and rose slowly to his feet. Jesus. The skinny little bastard looked like something you'd find outside a methadone clinic.
"Is that your idea of a uniform, son?" I demanded, eyeing his filthy tee shirt from behind my goggles.
"Uh. They didn't give me one. I'm sorry, dude, I..." He hung his head.
"That's no excuse! Who the hell doesn't own a pair of BDU's and a mail-order badge? Girly men, that's who. Drug addicts. Frenchmen."
"Leave Detox alone," the other one said. "He don't know no better." He stood up, and we eyed each other. He was fat-- not fat in a manly "I drink too much milk" kinda way like me, but fat in a "jesus christ I'm fat" kinda way. He sickened me.
"You listen and you listen good, mister," I snarled. "Your body fat percentage would make a stick of butter look healthy. Now--" I had more to say, but I blacked out after he slapped me.
Fucking Samoans. No sense of humor.

0200 Hours. Pile Two.
I stood in the darkness, watching over the facility from my perch atop the salt mound. I could barely make out piles one and three in the distance.
It was kind of quiet. Too kind of quiet.
I pulled my walkie-talkie close to my lips. "Comms check."
Silence. I tried again. "Comms check." Nothing. Damnit, I'd told them to expect a comms check every forty seconds.
"Piles one and three. Do you copy? Trying to reach piles one and three. Do I have piles? Over."
"Uh..." It was Detox. "Is this Jesus talking? I met you at that Dead show..."
"Goddamnit!" I reminded myself to keep my voice down. No need to advertise your position to potential enemies. "Detox, you addled fuck, it's me, Randy...Watch Commander. Requesting comms check."
"Leave Detox alone!" the walkie-talkie crackled. "I'll knock your ass--"
"Goddamnit! Lower your voice, Amapatulu! Besides," I added, "you sucker-punched me. Both of you, tighten your sphincters and check your mags...Watch Commander out."
"Yeah, fuck off."
God, I hate Samoans.

0400 hours. Pile Two.
The biggest danger to a soldier on watch is boredom, so I did what most soldiers do to stay sharp and fight off fatigue. That's why I was alert enough to put away my vial of amphetimines and tuck my knob back into my trousers when the call came.
"Sir!" It was Detox. "Men on the mound!" I stared at my walkie-talkie, too stunned at first to respond.
"Sir...Men..." he repeated, his signal growing weaker, "on...the...mound."
My military instinct told me to spray his position with small-arms fire until I could call in artillery to solve the problem, but as usual I was going to have to rely on something less intellectual than pure instinct.
"Don't talk," I yelled into the walkie-talkie as I slid down my salt pile. "Eat the bullet--DO NOT TALK!" I considered calling Amaputulu for help, but he was clearly a suspect in that he wasn't white. I'd handle this myself.
After a long, bottom-tearing slide down my salt mountain I reached the ground, and realized a torn, salty ass is kind of a turn-on. That was for later, though. This was war.
I crept across the open ground toward pile three, Detox's pile.
My urine-filled water gun in hand, I imitated bird calls to see if I could attract some unwary attention. "Goo-Gooooo," I called, in an exact imitiation of the brown thrasher, a bird common to our fair state.
Nothing moved. I snuck a few feet up Pile Three and tried again.
"Goo-goo gjoooob..." Still no response, so I crept further up the salt pile before doing the bird-call routine again. "I am the eggman, " I called out, bird-like. "They are the eggmen."
I heard something stir above. "I am the walrus, goo-goo GJOOB!" With that, I charged up the hill, and my pistol quickly found the spot where the movement had come from seconds before.
I pulled the trigger over and over, releasing stream after stream of my asparagus-infected urine. Easier to track yer hits that way.
I kept shooting as I charged uphill, finishing up the assault with two well-placed boot strikes to my target's head. Finally, I stood above my victim. He lay curled in a fetal position as I held my water-pistol in a Weaver stance above him. Oh, God...On close examination, it looked like...
"Uh. God. Dude," Detox moaned. "You squirted me. And it smells like..."
"Piss off, you fucker!" It was that damned Samoan. I spun to face him.
"Damnit, Honolulu, there's tango's about! Detox said there's ..."
"Men on the mound?" he asked.
"Yes! Christ, we've already had a blue on blue, let's find the tangos!"
"Dude..." The Samoan guy sighed. "Detox gets religious when he eats acid. I think he was saying 'sermon on the mount.' He loves that bit."
"Doesn't matter," I said. "Main thing is we attack first, then ask who's hallucinating."
"His pee's orange," Detox moaned, not bothering to get up.
"Look, ya'll," I said. "It appears--for now--there's no tangos this time." I tried to smile reassuringly. As Watch Commander, I knew that the Somoan guy and the druggie would be looking to me for guidance at a time like this. "We've all, mostly you two, learned some valuable lessons, so let's forget about who attacked who for no reason." I love sharing warrior's wisdom with the young bucks.
"Let he who shoots first, shoot accurately," I said. I spread my arms, and felt like I was flying atop the dizzying heights of the salt pile. My disciples looked up at me in awe.
"If your neighbor's eye offendeth thee, kill his dog--that always surprises them."
"Dude," the Samoan guy said, and I accepted his praise without comment.
"Kill not, " I continued, "unless you're pretty sure you can get away with it." It was no longer me speaking, it was God...Meaning, ex-SAS superhero Andy McNab, who tells the Big Guy what to do, anyway.
"Judge not, lest ye be hauled up in court for that stupid incident involving your fourteen-year-old cousin, who was pretty hot and clearly wanted it..."

1300 Hours. The McFab compound.
"I still don't understand why you were fired, " my momma said.
I would have laughed, but was too bitter. "Mom," I finally said. "I came from poor, uncertain stock...No one's sure who my dad is...All that's known is, I realized early on I could spray people with my urine and thereby get them to comply with my demands. It would all be easy, except for--"
"The Samoans," my mom sighed.
I glanced away towards my room, where my mail-ordered copy of The Protocols of the Elder Pacific Islanders lay unread.
"Yes...The Samoans."