And there we sat; knowing that Swanson was up at the depot and everyone else was outside the seawall waiting for the clock to strike one. As the minutes ticked down Baldy, Collins and I remained silent. Nothing needed to be said. Once the depot went up we all knew what to do. And then it came. We felt the rumble even in the boat, and then the deadened thud and its echo followed. The immediate shouts of the patrolmen broke the air around us as they called to each other in their native tongue. I leaned forward to peer through a small gap in the wheelhouse door and saw a pair of clowns running down the walkway toward land. It was clear that they didn’t know what had happened, but they would need permission for any of them to leave the area to investigate.
All dozen men huddled together and then sent two of their group away, presumably to receive new orders. It was this moment that was most difficult for me during the whole ordeal out there, having to hide in the wheelhouse while Swanson ran for his life. We had to wait as late as we could before starting the boat. And that meant sitting on our hands, which we all hated doing. Regardless, there we sat, watching the patrolmen scurry about.
After five minutes or so they recommenced their patrols, albeit with one eye on land at all times. I’m sure they knew full well that the explosion could have been the opening shot of full on assault. This played them right into our hands because they weren’t paying attention to their immediate surroundings and they assumed that whatever was going on was happening miles away where the explosion had been.
“Good, they’re on the back heel,” I whispered, then closed the door back over.
After ten minutes had passed I watched through a port window as two pairs of Serik’s finest reached either end of the two peers. As they turned back I order Collins and Baldy out on deck. After a quick check of the landside they crawled outside and closed the door behind them. And there I sat alone in the shadows in the wheelhouse, watching the two pairs of patrolmen start their return leg along the walkways. Looking at my watch I knew it was time. Taking a deep breath and letting it out after just a moment of pause, I opened the wheelhouse porthole and leaned my body half out of the boat. Training my Springfield toward land I waited the nearest pair of patrolmen to come level with my aim.
They were glancing around, preoccupied with Swanson’s handy work, and weren’t paying attention to the boats moored at the jetty. Side by side they walked north, to my left. My hands were steady. My pulse was slow. And as they came into sight I squeezed the trigger. The thump in my shoulder lifted the muzzle of the barrel and obscured my line of sight as my bullet tore through the air along the sides of the boats behind mine, then through the neck of the man nearest me and into the upper torso of his partner. As my rifle fell back to rest the two men were already crumpling to the shore.
That first round was the signal. Right there and then all my men opened fire and dropped four of the nine remaining patrolmen outright. Another volley took one more, but the last four had managed to dive for cover.
“Damn it! Four clowns took cover to the south, Sir!”
Jumping over to the portside of the wheelhouse I looked south out of the window and saw one of them huddled behind a small wall, his flashlight shaking as he kept trying to see where the fire was coming from. As he focused all of his efforts on looking north, I watched as Longshot appeared like an apparition behind him. He clamped his hand over the man’s mouth and stuck him between the shoulder blades. He had climbed up over the seawall, across the walkway and took him in absolute silence. It was text book.
“Make that three,” I said without emotion.
Just as I got the word “three” out of my mouth Collins fired and answered me with “Two, Sir.”
I looked back out the window but I couldn’t find the other two.
“WHERE ARE THEY?!” I ordered.
“Third jetty – ten yards inland, Sir.”
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey