March 9, 2015: Snake’s Head (Continued)
Rested and ready. I got a decent night’s sleep last night and a good day’s work in today. Let’s see if I can finish detailing our attack on Hernandez’s place.
Tate immediately began first aid on the wounded woman. She was breathing but her pulse was fairly weak. Tate pulled out his first aid kit and put a pressure bandage on the woman’s head to try to stem the flow of blood. We elevated her legs but there wasn’t much more that we could do in the very near term.
We wanted to get the woman into the ambulance but we didn’t want to bring Laura and the ambulance into an ambush.
Tate stayed with the injured woman. Pete took his two sons in law, Anders, my dad and Joseph and began a recon of the immediate exterior of the house. I took Sam, Levi and Terry to clear the house itself. I wanted to make sure I could keep an eye on Levi.
I’m really concerned about how Levi’s handling things right now. I’ve seen it happen to a lot of people over the years. Call it post traumatic stress or whatever you want but killing people and having your friends or family attacked has a profound psychological effect. Some deal with it better than others … or hide the effects of it better than others. I suspect the same problems exist in everyone. It’s just a matter of how close to the surface they are.
Once we cleared the house and the area around it, we called in Laura in the ambulance. Laura roared up, skidded to a stop, hopped out of the ambulance and had a back board out of the rear of the van before any of us could help her.
Laura carefully put a neck support device on the woman. We then lifted her onto the back board and loaded her into the ambulance. Laura jumped up into the back and motioned at Tate to help her. We slammed the doors on the ambulance and Joseph and Nate jumped in the front to drive back to the farm.
The rest of us returned to the rear of the house.
The sun was up and had started to burn off the fog. Unaccustomed to the warmer temperatures and humidity, I was sweating underneath my gear. As things slowed down a bit and I stopped to take a look at the man I’d shot, a shiver convulsed my body. I’m pretty sure it was just the drop in body temperature, but I have to tell you, when we rolled him over, the face of the dead guy looked like pure evil.
It appeared that the three rounds from my initial burst, zippered up his spine. He was probably paralyzed after my first set of shots hit him. I’m guessing that only one of the rounds from my second burst hit the back of his head. Most of the top of his skull was still intact but the guy was definitely stone cold dead.
No one recognized the guy. He was Hispanic – probably of Spanish descent, rather than Central American native. His ancestors were probably conquistadors.
Joseph had grabbed a body bag from the ambulance so we lifted the body into the bag and zipped it shut.
I felt better almost immediately. It was like my body temperature had stabilized.
Pete looked around our small gathering, “Nobody recognizes this guy?”
Heads shook all around.
“We need to verify his identity,” Pete voiced what we were all thinking.
“How?” Sam wanted to know.
“What about one of the other outposts?” Levi’s idea seemed to make sense.
“Good idea,” I picked up on his line of thinking. “We could roll in with the HMMWV’s. They’d think we were hired guns from the guard unit. No need to risk killing them all before we get the info we need.”
After a bit more discussion, everyone agreed that this was the best plan.
We’d cleared out the outposts in the southern sector of the county so we had to work our way north. With Pete’s intel and maps, we identified an outpost that wasn’t too far out of the way back in the direction of our farms.
The fog was completely gone by this time and the roads were mostly slushy. We figured we could make pretty good time.
By the time we made it to the outpost, it was nearly sunset. The roads were still difficult to traverse. The Hummers did as well as could be expected in the slush but it was deep enough that it slowed us considerably.
Throwing caution to the wind, we rolled right into the front yard of the outpost. It was another older home, a bit weathered. Smoke rolled from the chimney but there were no other signs of life. No vehicles. Nobody outside. I started to wonder if we’d gotten the wrong place.
A lone man walked out onto the front porch. He waved as if we were long-lost friends. Our plan was working.
We exited the Hummers in full battle gear. The guy on the front porch was visibly shaken and started to take a step backward toward the front door. He thought better of it and simply stayed put with his hands in plain view.
“Que …” he began.
“No problem,” I shouted out. “Hernandez sent us. The armory was attacked and he figured you needed to be re-supplied.”
“Si … yes,” the man replied. “We ran out of food this morning. The others left to go find some.”
“Well, let’s get what we have unloaded and then we can wait for the others to return,” I responded.
The guy walked down off of the front porch and directly toward us. The plan still seemed to be working.
“What happened to the armory?” he asked.
“We’ll tell you about that in a minute,” Pete replied. “In the mean time, come back here and give us a hand with this.”
Pete grabbed the guy’s arm and guided him to the back of the HMMWV where we’d lashed the body bag.
As soon as the guy saw the body bag, he knew something was wrong. He jumped back but realized too late that he had nowhere to go.
I zipped open the bag and watched the Mexican’s eyes.
The reaction was exactly what I’d hoped for.
“El Patron …” the Mexican was horrified.
“Who’s el Patron?” Pete raised the barrel of his M4 and pointed it at the guy’s chest.
“Senor Hernandez,” there was no guile in this one. He told us exactly what we needed to hear.
“Gracias,” I said. “Let’s go inside.”
Levi and Sam took the Mexican inside while the rest of us had a quick confab to discuss tactics. This was an opportunity to clear out another outpost and we didn’t want to miss it.
We decided to leave the two HMMWV’s out front, put four people inside the house and spread the rest around the yard in concealment to set up a V-shaped ambush. The terrain was pretty open but there was a lot of junk in the front yard for cover and concealment.
We saw the headlights coming up the road about a quarter mile away. Sam and Levi had kerosene lamps lit inside the main floor of the house and formed the narrow end of the V in the two windows at the front of the house on the second story.
A single vehicle pulled into the yard, highlighting the HMMWV’s with its headlights.
“Wait until everyone exits the vehicle,” I instructed over the radio.
The vehicle was an older, four-door Chevy pickup. When the doors opened the dome light came on. I spotted three men with dark hair and one woman with reddish hair inside the cab of the pickup.
“Could be a friendly with them,” I warned. “Watch the woman.”
The three men exited the pickup. The one in back, reached inside the rear of the cab and roughly pulled the red-haired woman out. She tripped on the door sill and fell to the ground.
“Fire!” I shouted. My radio’s throat mic picked up the command and the evening turned into a blaze of fire and bullets.
All three of the men were down before they could react to the woman falling on the ground. The woman had rolled underneath the pickup. Smart gal.
Pete and I talked to the woman while the rest of the crew cleaned up the bodies.
The woman’s name was Melody Larsen. She was 31, single and had been living with her parents and brother on a farm a few miles to the west. The gang members had come to their farm earlier in the day looking for a handout. When the Larsens insisted that they had nothing to spare, things had turned violent. Melody’s parents and brother had been shot – execution-style – and Melody had been drug back to the outpost location, presumably to die a much slower and more painful death.
We offered to take Melody back to our farm with us but she wanted to bury her family members and take care of things back at their farm. I can certainly understand that.
We finished things up at the outpost and headed back to the Larsen place.
By the time we got to the Larsen place, it was nearly 10:00 p.m. There was a nearly-full moon out so we had some natural light for our somber tasks.
Strange the difference a few hours makes. That morning, it was foggy and warm. By evening, it was clear and getting colder.
We buried the Larsens and their dog on a hill just north of their house.
The Mexicans had shot the dog first, Melody said. I was even more glad we’d taken out the members of the fourth outpost. I can see eating your dog like the Volmers did, if it comes down to you or your kids starving if you don’t, but just killing a dog to be mean … that kind of thing pisses me off. Of course, they also killed three innocent humans as well ….
Good riddance to bad seed. The Hernandez gang was slowly being eradicated like an infestation of evil pests. But, nature abhors a vacuum. What evil will replace them? Will it be even worse?
By about 5:00 a.m., we left the Larsen place dead tired. Melody insisted on staying behind. She just couldn’t bear to leave everything behind so suddenly without processing what had taken place. She had fresh water and some food stored up. Defenses weren’t likely to be a problem until the next round of evil rises up but I still wasn’t completely comfortable leaving her on her own.
We left Melody with directions to Pete’s place, as well as our place, and promised to check back in on her in a couple days. I can see Sam and Levi fighting over that duty. Melody’s single and better-looking than average. Perhaps we’ll have a budding neighborhood romance in the coming weeks or months. I don’t know … red-heads scare me. The only good news … I didn’t see a green Saturn parked anywhere in any of the outbuildings. Green tractors, yes. But the tell-tale car of the crazy woman … no.
By the time we made it back to the farm, we were running on just under six hours’ sleep over the course of a little more than 48 hours. You can see why I was out on my feet when I was writing the first section of this yesterday evening. It’s not like we can sleep in ’til Noon. There are chores that need to be done every day. We still pull guard duty 24/7. No rest for the weary. I’m still beat. Maybe after a good night’s sleep tonight, I’ll be back to normal … the new normal.