I had awoken late that brisk January morning to the sound of quail calls outside my bedroom window. I shook off the cobwebs and threw my legs over the side of the bed. A long night of doing shots with Rummy and Condi had left my throat with that distinct taste of bile. I needed a quick drink of water to help it subside. I walked into the bathroom and looked at my sunken eyes in the mirror.
“Jesus, I look like hell.” I said as I brought the warm water up to my face. I could still hear the quail calls from outside my room getting louder. I walked out of the bathroom and put on my pants. No sooner had I gotten my t-shirt when my bedroom door came crashing open and a large ominous figure leaped in. He blew the quail call again and the piercing sounds reminded my headache to get back to work. As if sensing my discomfort Dick came over and put me into a head lock. He began to give me the most painful noogie of my life.
“Aww yea, get out of that boy!” Dick yelled through his maniacal laughter. “If I didn’t know any better I would say you don’t wanna shoot at anything trapped in a cage today son.” I smirked a half smile and he finally let me go. I sat back on the bed and finished getting dressed. Dick continued to jump around my room blowing the quail call over and over. “Hurry up!! Hurry up!! Hurrrrrrrry!!” Dick continued to demand, clearly getting frustrated over my slow start. “The boys are downstairs waiting for your slow ass.” I stood up, grabbed my jacket, and followed Dick downstairs.
As we walked down the stairs, Dick skipping stairs and whistling the Star Spangled Banner, I could see the regular crew assembled in the foyer. There was Jeb Bush, Bandar Bush, Harry Whittington, and the always outspoken, always annoying Katharine Armstrong. Armstrong owned the Ranch in south Texas and was always happy to tag along to make sure no one caused any trouble. By trouble she meant Dick. Dick was always trying to one up someone. His witty banter was always good for a laugh but it always seemed to be at someone else’s expense.
Katharine went to fetch the dogs as we packed up the last of our gear. Personally I never understood why we took dogs onto the ranch grounds since we were just walking over to shoot some quail that were raised in a cage. How could they get away? I could hear Jeb and Dick arguing about some policy that no one really cared about. “Blah you are a pussy!” Dick screamed at Jeb. “How can you be from your father’s loins?” Jeb’s faced began to turn red. His anger at Dick poking fun at his shallow gene pool was always cause for some fight. We were getting ready to leave when Bandar dropped to his knees, on the bright rug he always carried with him, and began to pray. Dick was not happy with that at all. He kicked some dirt towards Bandar. You could hear Harry giggling in the background. Bandar ignored Dick’s insults and finished his prayer. “I need to make sure I have extra protection when there’s a Dick like you around,” Bandar said. Before Dick could get his comeback together Katharine has returned with the dogs. “Let’s goooooo!” Dick exclaimed as he turned around and started to run into the brush. I watched as he ran about a hundred yards in front of us. You could see him for a mile with his bright orange Halliburton hunting outfit.
Most of the walk through the woods was boring and there wasn’t much chit-chat at all. Jeb didn’t really like hunting. He just went with us to impress Dick. Everyone seemed to need to impress Dick. Everyone of course but me. See I didn’t really like Dick. He was, for lack of a better word, a dick. Maybe it was the way he treated his friends. Maybe it was the way he treated the planet. Whatever it was he just rubbed me wrong. We ended up splitting up a little in search of the elusive quail cages. I could hear Dick blowing that damn quail call through the entire forest. Then I heard the gun shot.
I was walking with Jeb and Bandar when the shot rang out. “Oh goody,” Bandar said as he began to trot over to where the sound came from. He ran like a bow legged girl. It was at that time that I noticed the dogs barking loudly and heard Katharine shout for help. I started to run with Jeb in close pursuit. Was it me or was Jeb whimpering? I turned back to look and tripped over a pile of branches. I came down hard on my knee and was almost trampled to death by Jeb. He was babbling something I couldn’t make out. Where the hell was he going? “Um, Jeb, hello?” I said as he continued towards the rest of the party. What the fuck is going on, I wondered as I pulled myself up. “No seriously, I am OK, thank you!” I proclaimed as I began to run towards them. I began to grow concerned since we hadn’t gotten to the cages yet. What the hell was he shooting at? As I stumbled into the clearing I saw Dick and Jeb standing over Harry’s body. There was still steam rising from the wounds and from the barrel of Dick’s gun. Harry had clearly been sprayed by birdshot pellets and was in a considerable amount of pain. The one side of his face looked like it had been filled with tiny steaming black holes.
“What do we do now,” Jeb shouted at Dick “You shot him in the face, you shot a 78-year-old man dead in the face.” Dick slapped Jeb forcefully and Jeb let out a low feminine cry.
“Is he dead”, Bandar inquired. “What will we do with the body?”
The body??? What the hell was going on? It was clear that this was no accident. There wasn’t a quail for a mile around. And that smile on Dick’s face, it made me uneasy. “It’s an accident, I didn’t know he was there.” Dick explained. “I saw the whole thing,” Katharine said as she rushed into the middle of the group. She grabbed an imaginary microphone and said “A bird flew up, the vice president followed it through around to his right and shot, and unfortunately, unbeknownst to anybody, Harry was there and he got peppered pretty good with a spray of 28-gauge pellets.” A thought suddenly occurred to me. Peppered? He got seasoned? What did Harry do to Dick? And why did Katharine just say that like she was addressing the media? My heart began to beat faster as the situation began to show its true face. Almost as if he smelled my fear Dick looked at me with a sinister glare. “Everything all right Brian?” he asked as he stood up over his trophy. Harry’s eyes we’re starting to glaze over a little. Bandar was talking on the phone to someone in a language that all my years at Mercer County College couldn’t help me decipher, and I could only hope he was calling for help.
Dick came into my personal space and got close enough so I could smell the evil being excreted from his pores. A bead of sweat formed on my brow and he wiped it off with his finger. He put it into his mouth and sucked the sweat off. His lips curled and I knew that this day would haunt me forever. Jeb had fallen to the ground and was holding his knees to his chest. I thought I heard him call his mommy and say a prayer. Dick, standing about an inch from me, looked me dead in the eye and said, “He’s going to be all right, it’s just a flesh wound.” And almost like clockwork I said, “He’s going to be all right, it’s just a flesh wound.” Dick then said, “These aren’t the droids you are looking for.” I repeated him again like a man with no control over his own voice. I was scared for the first time in my life. What was going to happen to me, and for that matter what the hell was going to happen to poor Harry? He lay there bleeding out of his chest, face, and arm. Delusion had begun to take over and he was mumbling something about filibustering. Dick walked back over towards his prey and kicked him lightly to make sure he was still alive.
Bandar put out his prayer rug and together he and Jeb placed the wounded Harry into it. Harry was crying out as they rolled him up in the rug. I was sure that they were going to drop him into the bog never to be seen or heard from again. With that thought fresh in my mind, it occurred to me. What the hell is going to happen to me? Before I could form another rational thought, Dick’s Hummer came barreling through the trees and came to a grinding halt in front of the party. Dirt and twigs we’re flying out from under the tires literally peppering the entire party with dust.
George Dubbua jumped out of the monster truck, his American flag bandana briskly flowing in the wind, and slammed an American flag into the ground at his feet. His camouflage pants looking like they had just come out of the package were a perfect compliment to his bare chest and bullet belt he wore over his shoulder. “Here I am gentlemen, to bring freedom and democracy to this impoverished land. Heh heh.”
“Shut up, George,” Dick exclaimed. “Pick him up and put him into the back.” The lackeys did as they were told and all packed into the Hummer. No one talked on that long ride back to the house. I still didn’t know what was going to happen but was relieved to see an ambulance waiting outside the house. We put poor Harry on the stretcher and they took him away. We all entered the house, not speaking a word, and went our separate ways. I showered, unable to get the Dick stench off of myself, and got dressed. I descended the stairs to see George running around with two model fighter planes playing WW3. “Broooom Vrooooom, ka-ka-ka bang booooom,” he gleefully shouted. George stopped when he saw me on the stairs. I had my bags packed and was hoping to make some quick goodbyes and then head out the door. George reminded me about the importance of national security, and how some things were better left to the PR machine to handle. Dick had already left but had given George a note for me.
What a fun time we had today playing squash in the yard. You are quite an accomplished player and have a great future in the game. Sometimes we write the rules as we go along in this game, cause after all we are Americans. Americans who have a duty to better the country. Don’t you think? I’ll see you soon, as I am sure you already know, so take care.
Sincerely your digital ruler,
“Mission Accomplished” George proclaimed as I crumbled up the note. He began to march in place. He saluted me and then went back to playing with his model airplanes. I opened the door and my car was waiting for me out front. I got in and looked back at the house. I don’t know if I will ever be back here, but I will never forget it. I turned the key and heard a whoosh of air underneath my seat. Damn! I should’ve checked it out before I got in…Powered by Sidelines