Sunday, August 14, 2011

Anasazi Strip - Chapter 35 - Part II

It had all seemed so easy when Dwayne and Linda had first crept up on the crime scene. No one had seen them, in fact, nobody had paid attention to anything other than loading the chopper with boxes as quickly as possible. Dwayne had no trouble picking Saunders out of the group of five; his long red hair was an immediate giveaway. Linda eyed the man with a burning hatred that spoke volumes.

Their original plan had been to sneak up on the chopper and capture the whole damned lot of them before they had a chance to react. Saunders and a scraggly, blond-haired man in a baseball cap were the only ones wearing weapons at the ready, and the five men presented an apparently easy target. Unfortunately, by the time Dwayne and Linda got close enough to spring their trap, Saunders and two other men had separated from the group and took Jenny with them.

At that point, it became necessary to implement Plan B, which pretty much consisted of winging it.  Dwayne said he would follow Saunders. Linda stayed where she was to cover Mr. Baseball cap and a big guy in a tan bush-jacket who never showed his face as he secured the load aboard the chopper. Linda had been instructed to wait for Dwayne’s signal, which might be anything from a shout, to the sound of gunfire – there was no telling. Dwayne would circle back behind the pueblo and corner Saunders and his crew, and then rescue Jenny. Linda’s job would be to get the drop on the two men at the chopper. She wasn’t supposed to come out of hiding until the last possible second, after everyone else had shown their hands.

Things had not worked out as planned, however. By the time Dwayne came around the back side of the pueblo, one of the bikers, a giant pig of a man, was attempting to rape Jenny  while a much smaller man, pants to his knees, clawed at the behemoth’s back. Saunders was nowhere to be seen. Dwayne had to stop both of these men immediately, and saw only one way to do that.

As Dwayne raised his gun to fire, he tried to tell himself that these sub-humans deserved to die. In fact, a certain righteous indignation surfaced as he squeezed the trigger. It felt good to play God.

The only trouble was, that once the shooting began, it unleashed a whole series of unknown forces. Dwayne was discovering what any battlefield commander knows to his core: that the best laid plans turn to shit as soon as the first shot goes off. The best Dwayne could do now was guess.

He zeroed in on the rock pile closest to the pueblo; there were perhaps a hundred feet separating him from his target. He knew he probably had the advantage of surprise on his side; but then he suddenly realized he had forgotten to re-load, which meant he only had two bullets left to disable whoever was on the other side of those rocks. He could not afford to miss.

As Dwayne came running around the corner of the rock pile he stumbled in a loose pocket of sand and pitched headlong into the dirt. He rolled sideways, coming to rest facing the bright, shiny barrel of a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson held by a lunatic in a blue baseball cap.

“Smile. You’re on Candid Camera, Cop!”said Otis with a deranged smile.

At that precise instant, the helicopter lifted off the ground in a hail of stinging dust, and panic took over for a brief instant. The psycho with the pistol looked back over his shoulder to see what was going on and Dwayne let him have it. The first shot went wide, but the next one made mincemeat of Otis Stile’s mid-section. The man crumpled backward as he tried desperately to hold in his guts, the same deranged smile plastered across his face. Dwayne continued to pull the trigger of his magnum, even though he realized his gun was empty. It wasn’t until the man’s bleeding body hit the ground that Dwayne’s head fell onto the soft sand and he shook with terrified relief.

Dwayne struggled unsteadily to his knees. The chopper hovered fifty feet off the ground while Saunders stood underneath it with his machine-gun trained on the underside of the craft.  The message was clear. Either the pilot returned for Saunders, or he was going to blast the helicopter right out of the sky. The double-cross stalemate lasted for only a few brief seconds before the chopper dropped back to earth.

Dwayne fumbled in his jacket pocket for some shells to load his empty gun. His hands were shaking with fear and excitement, and several of the stubby bullets fell in the sand as he frantically re-loaded; another few seconds and Saunders would climb aboard the chopper and be gone in a noisy cloud of dust. Dwayne moaned in desperation as the chopper touched down and Saunders stepped on to the skids and grabbed the door. The chopper quickly lifted off, Saunders signaling to the pilot to head directly toward Dwayne.

Dwayne suddenly went from worrying how he was going to stop Saunders from escaping, to trying to figure out he was going to avoid being gunned down from the sky like a helpless coyote. The rock piles and pinnacles would not provide cover from an aerial attack.  There was nowhere left for Dwayne Johnson to hide.

Dwayne fingered the last bullet into the chamber and stood up to face the approaching chopper, taking careful aim at the bubble-nosed front of the Bell Ranger. He didn’t figure he was going to get many shots, so he knew he better make the first one count.

Dwayne squeezed off a round and watched in fascination as the entire windshield disintegrated in a cobwebbed shower of broken plexiglass. Saunders almost lost his grip as the chopper lurched up and down, and then veered to the left in an evasive maneuver. Saunders fired a machine-gun burst which fell harmlessly short of Dwayne’s position, and Dwayne returned two shots in rapid succession at the fast-moving helicopter.

As the chopper retreated rapidly to the west, Saunders waved back at Dwayne and saluted before crawling inside the chopper.

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