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©02 The Media Desk

the Guts of theHunter

[Warning: May disturb more sensitive readers.]

     "OK!!! I'll go through the garage." Pagan said.
     I gave him the thumbs up side and squeezed a couple of rounds off at the house.
     He ducked behind a junk car and into the building.
     My radio crackled, "Simon's hit."
     "How bad?" I asked.
     "I dunno. I'm pinned." The voice sounded like Allied Forces. But it might have been an agent I just met that had come in from West for this operation.
     A blast of automatic weapon's fire forced me back behind a collection of dead appliances I was using for cover. Rounds thumped into the washing machines and water heaters. I leaned out the other side and fired blindly in their direction. Then I reloaded.
     We were supposed to have local police backup. And a Federal warrant squad.
     Guess what.
     There was five of us.
     And the bad guys had been tipped.
     We walked into an ambush. And now Simon was down.
     I heard the Colonel, the Western agent say something in his radio.
     Allied Forces asked him to repeat it.
     "There's a squad car coming up the lane."
     I looked. There was no way I could get to it. I saw Allied forces ducking behind trees heading toward the car. Weapon's fire followed him. I let go a few with dad's .38 trying to cover him.
     In a few minutes I heard a new voice on the radio. It was the cop in the car on Allied Forces' radio.
     "They were told you were coming. An insider. There is no backup. They got us scattered all over half the county. Where is the man down?"
     The Colonel gave him directions and the car was driven by the officer hanging half out of it for cover toward him. Bullets riddled the car in seconds.
     But the distraction gave me and Pagan a chance to work our way toward the house.
     I got to the back porch and dove through. In a second I was joined by Pagan.

     "..... ok ... we're stupid... now what?" He whispered peeking in a window.
     "We go for it." I answered. I checked all three of my guns. The .32 was my new toy. A full auto little firestorm. But if I had known I was walking into a war, there was a multitude of weapons I'd rather have. But... Dad's gun was down to what I had in the cylinder. The .454 still had a full speed loader and it was full. The .32 was my best bet. I gripped it in my right hand and pushed the window above us up. As soon as it was clear Pagan was through it. I followed.
     The room was empty. We were in a pantry.
     He sighed. "I thought this was part of the kitchen." He pointed at a curtain that separated us from it.
     "ssshhhhh" I said. There was footsteps in the kitchen.
     Pagan sucked on his teeth. I got out the .454 and held it in my left hand.
     He mouthed counting to three silently.
     On three. We burst through the curtain.
     There were two bad guys in the kitchen. One of them started to bring his submachine gun around toward us. It never made it.
     Pagan picked it up on the run as he ran toward the door leading out of the kitchen into the rest of the house. He began firing into the next room as I came up behind him after making sure all the fight was gone out of the bad guys.
     The gunfire was still raging between several people in the front of the house and the cop and our guys outside.
     We evidently surprised them. A short fierce fire fight seemed to last for at least a week. The .454 clicked on an empty cylinder, I dropped it and pulled dad's gun out of my belt and took down the last bad guy with it.
     I bent over to retrieve the .454. And couldn't stand back up.
     Dropping to my knees I called for Pagan. Then the world listed to one side and I got violently sick. I saw blood and vomit pouring out of my mouth. Then the world went gray.

     "You were shot in the stomach." A nurse with kind eyes set in a stern face said. "You have been through surgery and are going to be fine."
     I realized my eyes were open. I knew an ICU unit when I saw it. My throat was raw. Evidently they had just taken a ventilator tube out of me.
     All I could do was nod and go back to sleep.

     My boss at the computer lab shook his head when I gingerly walked in about a week later. He came over to my workspace in a bit and looked me over.
     "You need to find a safer hobby. Like skydiving."
     "Thank you sir." My stomach still hurt like, well... like somebody had hit me in the gut with over a hundred grains of jacketed hollow point ammo. It was hard for me to talk and breath at the same time.
     I didn't know how much he knew. So I didn't say anything.
     On my desk was a large box. I opened it. Inside was a yellow envelope. In it was a handful of tickets and coupons, and a note from the Bishop taped to a disc. The tickets and stuff were for a full dress weekend at a resort on the Cheat River on the Maryland, West Virginia line, in mine and Keia's names.
     I almost laughed at the thought.
     Keia's words to me at the hospital were: "You quit getting shot Huntie."
     It sounded like an excellent idea to me.
     The disc contained a rundown on the status of our gun smugglers. The ones that had lived through it would stand trial here, then in a couple of other countries where they were wanted on a greatest hits list of charges. The dead ones had been wanted as well. One of them had yet to identified. According to every record known, the man did not exist.
     A massive reward had been posted for them, their weapons stash, their contacts, and so on. It was split six ways, with Simon getting a larger share than the rest of us. He lost an arm due to his wounds.
     The experience left me a little bitter.
     Even though the Bishop told me they identified the insider that had tipped the smugglers, and he was now awaiting trial on a dozen charges himself, I still felt angry.
     We shouldn't have gotten into that position to begin with.
     We shouldn't have moved on the house without backup.
     And it was as much my fault as anybody else's.
     It had been too quiet. Too easy.
     I knew it. In my guts.
     I began to work on a checklist for us to use. To be sure of backup. To size up a target. And when to pull out if there is any doubt at all about what's going down.

     Oh, and in the box.
     A bullet-proof vest with 'theHUNTER' on the back in rich black hand-stitched letters.

end 24 guts

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