Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Red Beans and Ricin

1600 hrs. Downtown Fort Braggart. Fartbaker's Pharmacy.
I set my purchases on the sales counter and flipped through a Newsweek, waiting for Old Man Fartbaker to finish with a customer at the soda fountain. Few drug stores had the old-fashioned soda fountains anymore, and Fartbaker's was particularly special in that it served only beer. I was considering ordering one myself when a headline in the Newsweek caught my eye. U.S. soldier charged with rape.
It was an obvious, bold-faced lie. I mean, who wouldn't willingly sleep with a soldier? I was instantly sickened, and swallowed back a hot glob of vomit. There are only two things that make this mercenary puke: the liberal media, and German scheisse films. I had seen too much of both today.
"Fartbaker!" I yelled towards the soda fountain. "Hurry up here, I'm sick!" Fartbaker finished up with the drunk at the fountain and ran up to the counter to help me. At ninety years old, unfortunately, he wasn't fast enough. I bent over and did the psychedelic yawn, barfing like a sorority girl after twelve mojitos and a gang-bang.
"Here, son," Fartbaker said, thrusting a waste-basket across the counter. "Be sick into this, not the..." He glanced at the get-well-card display I was throwing up on. "Not there, please."
"It's okay," I gasped, pushing the basket away. "I'll be fine. Oh, God!" I puked again, filling the "leave a penny, take a penny" tray to overflowing.
"Here, quick," Fartbaker said, "drink this." I grabbed the bottle he handed me and chugged it, the foul-tasting liquid calming my nausea almost instantly. I took a couple of deep breaths, regaining my composure.
"Whew. Man, that really helped," I said, handing the bottle back to him.
"Yessir, castor oil--best thing for ya. Say, that reminds me, son. Ain't you some kind of mercenary or something?"
"Fuckin' A," I said, puffing up my chest in my I'm Some Kind of Mercenary t-shirt.
"Well," Fartbaker said, wiping puke off the counter with a small squeegee, "there's something I think you oughta should look into. See, my new neighbor out route five, he's planting castor beans. " He paused, waiting for me to react.
"Castor beans can be used to make ricin," he continued. "Not much other use for castor plants these days." He paused again. "Ricin's a deadly poison."
I'd never heard of it, and the old man was beginning to bore me.
"My neighbor's an A-rab," he finally added.
"Holy hell, man! Why didn't you say so?" I whipped out my PDA (a crumpled bar napkin and a pencil), and went into mercenary mode. "First things first," I said, "I need a name."
"Aamir Faiz."
"I doubt it's a mere phase. These terrorists are dedicated types."
"No, that's his name, he--"
"I can't spell anyway," I said. "Just tell me where he is and I'll go waste him."
"Well, son...I really just thought you might look into it, maybe check his place out like those secret ops boys on the teevee do. Find out if he's guilty or not before you hurt anyone."
"Good idea," I said. "Now, did you say this Faiz character is of Arabic descent?"
"Yessir, looks it anyway, and wears them funny clothes."
"Great. Phase one complete. He's guilty. Now what's his address, so I can take this bastard out?"

0100 hrs. Route five.
I drove slowly down the deserted highway, not wanting to miss my target in the darkness. The farm houses out here were set far back off the highway, mud driveways and battered mailboxes the only indications of their presence. I caught the numbers 770 on one of the boxes, and slowed the war wagon (my mom's '96 Saturn) down even more. I was close.
I killed the high-beams, mentally auditing the equipment I'd brought with me as I scanned the roadside for the target. Flashlight. Check. Two canteens--chocolate milk and Zima. Check. Combat knife. Check. You and Your Combat Knife, by Rick "Razor" Radnick. Large-print edition. Check. Rope, hanging for the use of. Check. Watergun, filled with urine. Check.
I had almost completed my checklist when the numbers 678 appeared in the glow of my headlights. I shut them off immediately and pulled over a few yards past the mailbox. Going up the driveway would be suicide, as most tangos are on alert 24-7. I killed the engine, said a brief prayer to George W. Bush, and got ready to gear up.

0200 hrs. On target.
I crept slowly through the deadly bean field on my stomach, kind of like Stephen Hawking jogging. The low plants provided little cover, but luckily there was no moon, and the flashlight held between my teeth emitted a very pale glow as I had forgotten to change the batteries. I stopped every few inches to prod the ground ahead with a drinking straw, wary of land mines. It was rough, slow going, but when you're a man of action you embrace challenge like less macho men embrace women. I just kept going.
The farm house was about thirty yards away now, a ranch-style home with white shutters and trim, the kind that has "terrorist" written all over it. There were no lights on, but that meant nothing. Muslims have excellent night vision, just like cats and homosexuals. I willed myself invisible as I crawled closer, praying my black BDUs and balaclava would keep me hidden.
I got to the side of the house and peered around the corner towards the front door, checking for sensors and trip-wires. Seeing none, I crawled around to the porch and finally stood beside the front door, my ear to the wall to listen for any movement inside. Nothing. Dark interior, no movement--I might have just gotten lucky and caught this bastard in bed. I checked that my urine-filled water gun was in place down the front of my pants, and thought for a moment about which lock-picking device to use. The doorbell rang.
Shit shit shit! I had brushed the doorbell accidentally reaching for my entry kit. A light came on inside, and then the porch too was lit up as I heard footsteps approach the door. I scrambled for my water-pistol, but it was too late. The door opened.
"Hello!" I said quickly, thinking on my feet. "Did you know that Jehova wants you to live forever in paradise on earth?"
I looked into the barrel of a shotgun, and the slight, swarthy man behind it looked ready to use it. "Who are you?" he demanded.
"Uh...Amway," I said, pulling off my balaclava to look less sinister. "It's opportunity knocking, and--"
"Bullshit!" He pumped the shotgun, chambering a shell. "I call the police now. You come in with me." I was in no position to argue, and followed him inside.
"Sit!" he commanded, gesturing towards an armchair with the shotgun. "I call police now. Hummus and chapati while we wait for them?" He nodded towards the kitchen.
"Yeah, right," I said. "I think I'll pass on the poison, Chef Boy-Am-I-Crazy."
"Poison?" He asked. "Why I poison you? Police will take care of you, robber of innocents!"
"Look here, mister," I said. "I'm no robber and you're no innocent. I know you're gonna call your jihadist buddies over here to behead me, and I know the whole thing will end up on youtube. And I'm not scared, even though I just urinated on myself. That's just something I do from time to time."
He looked puzzled. "What are you talking about? Are you drug man?"
"I'm talking about your ricin factory, mister. I'm talking about your 'Allah's Little Acre' of castor beans."
"Castor? What? You mean my red beans?"
"Red beans? So you're a commie, too, are you?" This guy was even worse than I'd thought.
"I grow red beans! My family owns an organic cajun restaurant in Tampa! What are you, some kind of bad man with hate for Pakistanis?" He pointed the shotgun right at my head.
"Hey, hey, calm down," I said, spreading my hands. "I'm cool. Paki-man, right? Wokka wokka wokka. Look," I said, "I'm an American patriot...I heard there was a raghea--a suspicious person out here, and that he was making ricin. What would you have done?"
"Exactly what I'm going to do now," he said, and held the shotgun on me with one hand as he picked up the phone.

Two weeks later. The McFab compound.
"I'm sorry I couldn't bail you out sooner," Mama said. "I didn't have much money left after buying you that autographed Condoleezza Rice Hustler centerfold."
"It's alright," I said, sipping a Zima. "They dropped the charges down to trespassing, and I learned a lot from being in jail. I'm a 'bottom,' did you know that?"
"No, honey, that's great. I just hope you'll stay out of trouble for a while."
I looked around our living room, the banal confines of a less-than-impressive mobile home. My warrior spirit could not be contained in such a prison.
"I'll stay out of trouble," I said, "when the whole world is as American as I am."