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11

07/09/2012

I push open the door and the heat and humidity hit me before my foot crosses the threshold. It’s just past 10:00 AM and the coolest part of the day is already hours behind us. I step out onto the concrete and I’m in Afghanistan again, breathing hard, sweat covering every intimate inch of me.

I’m lying absolutely still face down in the dirt. My hot breath is blowing in my face, noticeable to me only because my face is shaded; feeling a few degrees cooler than the ambient temperature. Taliban supporters found my hide and had a surprise waiting for me. Unlike them though, I don’t spend my days smoking tobacco that would kill the Marlboro Man and drinking nothing but hot tea; I’ve also familiarized myself pretty well with cardiovascular exercise so running away was pretty easy. I should be worried as I lie here, my breath disturbing the dirt and sand beneath my nose, but I’m having trouble containing a laugh.

I might have been in trouble if I were being chased by seasoned Taliban fighters, but instead I was running from the village headman’s henchman, likely his lesser sons and a few of the villages unmarried men. I ran to the mountains, which in Afghanistan is kind of like being in the ocean and running for the water. There was a small refuse pile in the foothills just before the mountains proper and that’s where I’m lying– behind the pile– listening for the sounds of running feet.

For once I’m glad I haven’t lugged my bolt-action rifle out with me. As much as I love watching what the .300 Winchester Magnum rounds do to a body, all that weight would have gotten me killed as I fled. From behind the refuse pile I poke my head out just slightly, the MK 11 rifle lying over on its left side so I present as small a target as possible. I hear voices echoing up the side of the hills; the fastest runner of the group is well ahead of the rest of them. I can hear him wheezing.

He stops just before the top of the rise behind which is the pile that conceals me and bends over placing his hands on his knees. He’s out of breath and his rifle, a beat up old Mosin-Nagant is slung loosely over one shoulder. The point man stands erect long enough to wave his friends on, calling out to them in Pashto to hurry them along.  Unsurprisingly, the point man pulls out a cigarette and starts smoking as he waits on his comrades.

In seconds I see more heads poke over the top of the rise, faces reddened with effort and their mishmash of weapons all slung uselessly over their shoulders or held one-handed by the strap. I wait a few seconds to see if there will be more men joining them but it looks like only five have come. I let their torso’s come into full view before I send the 7.62×51 rounds their way.

Those not already dead are too exhausted to put up a serious fight and I dispatch them as quickly as possible. Now that their hunter-killer team is handled, I get to go back to the village and explain to everyone there why trying to mess with me is a bad idea; I do this to them over a period of 4 hours, taking my time to enjoy each kill–especially the headman–when he himself comes out of his little shit-shack waving a white flag to surrender. I don’t even need the scope on the MK 11 to explode his head.

—-

The blast of air-conditioning snaps me back to the here and now. Somehow I managed to walk from the police station to a taxi stand, without really planning to do so. Along the way I ditched the briefcase I had been carrying. I smiled knowing that this would probably result in a call to the bomb squad to handle the ‘mysterious package’ left unattended. Relaxing in the cab’s air-conditioned back seat a plan forms in my head stemming from my daydreaming stroll.

The cabby drops me off about a mile from my destination, a small nondescript office building with a clear glass exterior and a brightly lit generic interior. The woman behind the desk acknowledges my presence with a look.

I smile and walk toward the desk “I’m going to need another car.”

She barely blinks. She reaches under her desk and I tense for a moment thinking she’s going to summon security to make me pay for my misdeeds, but instead pulls open a drawer and hands me a set of keys.

“Go out the door, take a left into the alley and the parking lot is just behind the fence. I’ll let the guard know you’re coming.” She tells me.

Her tone of voice suggests she does this fairly often and I know I’m not alone, but I have to wonder how many others like me are operating in the area.

The guard is in a small air-conditioned guard-house. It’s so cold in there, he’s wearing a jacket as he stares blankly at a computer monitor. I can see he’s browsing a social networking site in an attempt to look nonchalant, but the H&K MP5 beside the keyboard destroys this pretext if you look close enough.

He doesn’t look up from his computer screen, but waves me through as he reaches down and presses a button that rolls open the heavy steel gate. I press the button on the key fob and the lights of a small blue Dodge sedan flash back at me.

I slide behind the wheel of the little not-at-all-government-issue looking car and start it up, feeling goosebumps rise on my skin as the air conditioning nearly freezes the me solid by blasting the sweat on my skin. No wonder this car sells so well; all the fat, lazy Americans have to love a car that reminds them of the refrigerator.

The car is equipped with a stand-alone GPS system and it takes me a minute to figure out how to navigate its menus, but eventually I get to a screen that allows me to type in my destination. I type in ‘GUNS’ and in seconds have over twenty options to choose from. I put the car in gear and head out through the gate tossing a wave to the guard as I leave.

A female sounding voice comes out of the GPS and begins giving me directions. My first stop is three miles down the road. I do some quick calculations in my head and figure I shouldn’t need to visit more than five stores to get what I need.

By this time tomorrow, Thomas Shannon will be a free man.

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