Solemn Vow: Chapter 5
From the sounds of it, T.C. and his boys were in the thick of it. I heard a cry of pain in my headset. “Eagle two is hit,” T.C. called out. Another RPG exploded in the area where my team was supposed to be. All the while, the pulsing chug of the heavy machine gun hammered in the background. It spelled trouble for my squad, but I had other concerns at the moment. Right now, Owens needed a hand out of the pickle jar.
Approaching Kyle’s attackers from the opposite side of the first building we found, I made my way in behind them. The rapid fire popping sound of the .223 caliber bullets from my M4 made quick work of the unlucky camel club members. I yanked a grenade from my belt and pulled the pin. Hameed, the al-Qaida representative, popped up and began shooting at Owens, unleashing a string of bullets before he went to ground. I assumed his magazine emptied and he needed a reload. After a moment, his rifle reappeared above the wall, followed by a bearded head wrapped in an oversized bath towel. I gauged the distance and did my best impersonation of Cleveland Indians pitcher, Corey Kluber. The baseball sized grenade sailed through the darkness, landing in the dirt. Recognition took hold instantly. Hameed jumped to his feet screaming gibberish in camel talk. I had a vivid idea what that might be. He planted a foot in the Iraqi soil, turning to run when the explosion ripped apart the night. What remained of Hameed and his towel were scattered on the wind.
I hurried over to Owens’ position. “So what do you think, Kyle? That ought to improve my ERA.”
“Canton was right. You really are a wise ass,” he responded. “You should try the Improv. You’re a natural.” He looked at my arm and the small stain of blood on my sleeve. “You good?”
“Never better.” A sinister smile spread over my face scanning the area for more targets. “By the way, our long lost friend is going to need some help for the ride back home.”
“You won’t see him tap dancing anytime soon, but he’ll make it.”
We made our way back to the colonel’s location. “It’s McGann.” Thought I would make that expressly clear so he would hear me. The last thing I needed is ending up like a hunk of Swiss cheese because I got plugged by the guy we were attempting to rescue. “We’re coming in.”
Since I had left, two more locals had joined the colonel’s party and were lying prone inside the doorway near his feet. “Watch our six, Kyle.”
“Gryphon, this is Eagle. Need a SITREP?” T.C.’s voice carried through my earpiece.
“No worse for wear. Target acquisition accomplished. Our buddy’s been rode hard and hung up wet. He’ll make it but they did a number on him. Questionable as to how much help he’ll be in getting himself out. How’s Ryan?”
“Took a piece of shrapnel in the ass.”
“Are you shitting me? Some guys we’ll do anything for a purple heart.”
Canton finally chuckled at one of my remarks. “He’ll have a great story to tell.”
The battle began to diminish as the Iraqi soil ran red with blood. I expected we cleaned a few clocks and perhaps some of our new found friends decided to take off for parts unknown. It also did not take a rocket scientist to know we were not out of the woods yet. Far from it as another explosion rocked the night.
“You need to take out Ali Baba and that damn RPG. Looks like he’s headed in your direction.”
“Copy. We’ll do our best to light him up.” Tossing a glance back at my sergeant, I ask, “All clear, Kyle?”
“Looks like a go.” Then as an afterthought, he added, “For the moment.”
“Not the best reassurance ever received but given the circumstances, the only play on the table. T.C. says we got a guy sporting a towel on his kopf heading our way. I know it’s awful hard to tell them apart, but if you look carefully, he’ll be the one toting an RPG.”
“Roger that,” Owens replied, tapping in a fresh magazine.
“Let’s do a little Queen on his ass and make sure he bites the dust. I’m not in the mood to play nice.”
I slung the CQRB over my left shoulder and pulled the colonel up into a sitting position. “This won’t feel good, so hang in there.” He stared back at me through a puffy slit that doubled as his eye and nodded his understanding. Fortunately, he was not a big guy. One fifty dripping wet by the way I figured, but nonetheless, he was a tough bird. “Come on. Yeah, that was a joke. Bird. Colonel. Get it?”
I wrapped my right hand around his wrist and felt the strain in my back and legs as I hoisted him into a traditional fireman’s carry. I give the colonel credit. The only sound he made was a low, muffled grunt. He got points in my book for that. I gripped the reassuring familiarity of the Sig in my left hand. “Let’s get the hell out of here,” I told Owens.
We moved cautiously. Owens whacked a couple carpet salesmen who came calling just as we rounded the corner and I took down a third tango. They all crumbled into lifeless heaps when I heard the chatter of a Kalashnikov from somewhere behind. The tug of a bullet tearing through the pant leg of my digies caught my attention as well as another round buzzing angrily past my face. I performed a pirouette, not really Russian ballet material, but good enough to bring my weapon on line and pump a trio of slugs into the dead man’s chest. I was really excited by the fact he was not a better shot, being that he was only twenty feet away.
Owens and I carefully made our way to rendezvous with Canton and his team. The small arms fire began to wither into sporadic bursts. The sound of a grenade exploding in the darkness ended the heavy machine gun’s chatter. Score a big one for T.C.’s team. We encountered a few more hostiles and applied the appropriate measures to ensure their speedy demise.
It went without saying no prisoners would be hitching a ride home with us. Wasn’t that kind of mission. And no time for anything like it in this venture. I assumed we could figure out how to ride a camel without Achmed’s help. But Kyle and I still had some ground to cover before reconnecting with the rest of the gang.
I was running as best I could with the colonel over my shoulder and keeping an eye out for those bearded bastards at the same time. Owens unexpectedly cried out in alarm. The words seemed surreal, distorted like a sound track playing in slow-mo. “Get down.”
(To be continued...)
Solemn Vow © 2016 by William Beck. All Rights Reserved