The Mark (Part Two)

Jettison Your Thoughts

In which Florence watches ekranoplans and learns to shoot a gun. Previously in this series: Pop-Tarts

There goes the cuticle on my right thumb. A bloody fucking mess. At least I know how to take Dovos through airport security.

At 6:32 AM from the high windows, I watched the Vienna ekranoplan take off on its thirty minute dash, commuters clutching paper cups. A blip of the throttle left a brilliant rooster-tail of river water in the craft’s wake. I watched. With an espresso cup in hand, looking for rainbows, seeing none.

Jettison your thoughts, they teach you.

A close inspection of the mark revealed nothing to grasp. The expressionless, goateed face. The curly chestnut hair. Familiar in a way people in television commercials are familiar. On billboards. In your local supermarket.

I studied an hour of video footage and nothing. Studied every facet of his background. A childhood in the Nevada desert. Businesses in Japan and Pakistan. And nothing.

Nothing I can put my bloodied fingers on.

Still, that nag at my viscera. The unease.

Jettison your thoughts, the loudspeakers say, as you crawl alert in the South Carolina mud, swallowing hard not to swab at gnats which would inevitably give your coordinates away, not to mention hitting the hi-power CO2 laser beams which crisscross the training swamp.

Your hair your fatigues your very corneas caked with dirt, you make not a single sound.

The bureau’s ornithopter circles overhead, a faint purr in the sultry Saturday midmorning. Jettison your thoughts, the loudspeakers say.

You don’t look up. Men sit crouched on its doorsills. Their pulse rifles scan the foliage.

Jettison your thoughts, you think.

I suck at my thumb then dab a Q-Tip in a vial of clotting agents and rub it across the wound. It is 8:07 AM and I take my gun apart one last time.

Followed by the backup gun.

And the backup gun’s backup gun.

Knives: check. Shurikens: check. Collapsible minigun: check.

If only they could make titanium-reinforced tactical clothing that doesn’t wrinkle. With a grin, I grab the cordless iron on the dresser drawer and fire it up.

A girl cannot look seedy on this raspberry of a June morning, no-ho.

The steam tank is filled with jasmine-scented water.

The fucking gnats are unfuckingbearable but you do not twitch a single eyebrow.

You crawl eel-like through the fecund foliage.

The humidity fogs up the Leica scope.

From overhead at nine o’ clock, a rapid burst of pulse fire, followed by a scream and a groan.

You do not twitch a single interphalangeal joint.

That was Jeff, a hundred feet to your right. A ragged pulp now. The ornithopter swings down to pick the corpse up.

Jettison your thoughts, the loudspeakers say.

A mile away, well beyond the chain-link fence that guards the training area, a family settles down for breakfast on their patio.

You look through the clouded Leicas.

8:25 AM now. A final rehearsal. I stick three shurikens in my boots.

Easy now, Florence. Easy now.

The ekranoplan idles down on the river, back from its Vienna run. Six minutes.

Who the fuck is he? Who. Thefuck.

Jettison your thoughts, Florence.

Mitchell drives one of the delivery trucks that bring supplies to the compound every other day. Danielle, his wife. Their two kids, wolfing down Cap’n Crunch.

Danielle makes killer okra. Last night’s dinner. With corn on the cob and ham.

Mitchell looks unshaved through the Leicas. He is about to dig into a plate of scrambled eggs when Danielle gets up to fetch something from inside the house.

You are entering bullet time. Frame by frame, she adjusts her chair, brushes back her hair, then leans in to whisper something in Mitchell’s left ear.

Jettison your thoughts, you think.

A single uranium projectile cuts a trail of shimmer through the thinning cloud of gnats.

T-minus ninety minutes.

Hey-ho, let’s go.

The frosted glass bulletproof door hisses shut. I scatter down the stairs and plant my gear in the Touareg’s shotgun seat.

“Hello, Florence,” the car’s speakers say. It’s Larry. Logged in, he guns the V12 into life.

Pompous son of a bitch, I think.

You swallow hard as you stand up, combat boots halfway in the mud. The ornithopter swoops in from half a mile away. Except for the faint murmur of its carbon fiber blades, there is silence.

“How about a plate of leftover okra for lunch, Florence?” a voice beams from the loudspeakers. Hanging off a grappling hook, Jeff’s torn-up body sways in the headwing.

Jettison your thoughts, you think.

To be continued…

Published on Friday, June 27th, 2008


By magezoli:

Sh!t, I need to learn a lot of english to understand and enjoy this post. Anyway, the picture is great, congratulations!

Posted on Saturday, June 28th, 2008

By omm:

ekranoplan, leica, shuriken.

:) is everything all right doc? :D
great one.

oh yeah. the combat boots. your trade mark

Posted on Saturday, June 28th, 2008

By baowah:

dreams come thru, fella :)

Posted on Sunday, June 29th, 2008

By miluman:

kick ass for real, good to see Doc at his best :)

Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2008

By Nick Kulczak:

Your inclusion of the cereal-crunching family really lends some striking irony here.

The words “Jettison Your Thoughts” remind me of a song called “The Streets” by Custom, a song about a killer who realizes his mark is his girlfriend:

sometimes it’s time to
think about it
sometimes it’s time to find time
it’s not like you really lost it
like a lucky penny or your mind
a ghost of you is on her lips
a shattered glimpse of
when you’d play
leaving only silence
on another lonely day
but this is not the time
it’s not the time to feel
you have your instuctions
now you better close the deal…

Posted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009