A Glibertarians Exclusive: License to Kill, Part II
The brush rattled. The attackers were coming up the ridge. Paul looked to the east, where the sky was brightening. He had predicted the attack would some just before sunrise. “That’s how the Krauts always did it,” he told the others, “I bet at least one of these assholes fought them at one point or another.”
He pulled the Springfield’s steel buttplate tight against his shoulder. All around him, insects buzzed, and small creatures moved around in the tall grass.
They sky brightened a little more. Paul heard, distinctly, a sharp click. One of the Marines had tapped his metal canteen cup to alert the others.
There – on the ridgeline – a head, peeking over the crest. Paul took in a breath, let it out. Let them come closer, he reminded himself. Must get them all right up in plain sight. They aren’t professionals. They’ll be stupid about it. I hope.
He squinted through the rifle’s sights, waiting.
Waterloo, Iowa, May 1946
“Are you sure it was her?”
“I remember Aunt Maggie,” Danny Greene told the older man seated behind the big, shining oak desk. “She used to baby sit me, remember? That was her, big as life, sitting in a bar in Honolulu.” He pulled a cigarette pack out of his jacket pocket, stuck one in his mouth, and lit it.
“Anyone with her?”
Greene shrugged. “Some Hawaiian broad. Didn’t see no guy if that what you mean.”
Micah Gilliard took a long draw on his Cuban cigar, using the time to think about that for a moment. Maggie had been gone for over ten years, vanished off the face of the Earth, it seemed, along with that big guy she had been hanging around with. The Chicago family had not been happy about the arranged marriage not going through. Old John Gilliard, Micah’s father, had been forced to give up his operations in Des Moines, Omaha and Kansas City.
But old John was dead now, his insides a feast for cancer, and the Waterloo family was Micah’s now. And Maggie was out there in the middle of the Pacific.
It would take a lot to go get her, bring her back, he mused. Maybe send a few guys out, just whack her and that big dumb ox if he’s still around? She caused us a lot of trouble. Still haven’t made up what we had to give Chicago to make them friendly.
He looked up. Greene, his sister’s oldest boy, was still standing there looking at him. Micah had one child, a daughter, which made Danny Greene the heir apparent to the Gilliard family. That didn’t sit easily in Micah’s mind, but he had hopes that the boy could learn.
Solving this might be a good thing to have him handle, the Gilliard family boss thought. Give him some seasoning. Make the others take him seriously. And if he screws it up, well, at least I’ll know that the boy doesn’t have what it takes.
Micah Gilliard looked up at his nephew. “Get lost, Danny,” he said. “I need time to think about this.”
“Sure thing, Uncle Micah,” Greene agreed. He turned and left.
Oahu, June 1946 – Sunday afternoon
Paul stood at an angle to the target. He picked up the Springfield off the wooden rack, opened the bolt, fed it five .30-06 rounds from a stripper clip. Closing the bolt to chamber a round, he took aim at the target about a hundred yards down the cleared lane in the woods. He looked through the aperture sight, lined up the front blade on a large chunk of breadfruit laying in front of the earthen berm, carefully squeezed the trigger.
The Springfield’s metal butt slammed against his shoulder. It was, to Paul, a pleasant feeling; despite his Great War experiences, he liked to shoot, maybe because now there was no one shooting back.
Downrange, the breadfruit exploded into hundreds of flying bits.
“Damn good shooting,” Henry Houlihan slapped his old friend on the shoulder. “You always were a good shot.”
“Easier when you don’t have Kraut machine-gun bullets snapping past your head.” Paul worked the bolt and shot, four more times, scattering the remaining pieces of breadfruit around the target backstop.
Henry’s wife Apikala had come with an impressive dowery; the Pualani family into which she had been born were wealthy and had gifted her two hundred and eighty acres of wooded land in the hills northeast of Honolulu. Henry had expanded the small clapboard house that was already on the property, and after running in electricity and sinking a well, they had a comfortable homestead. A few years later Henry had hired a friend to bulldoze out the 100-yard lane in the woods and place the earthen berm at one end, so Henry and his friends had a place to shoot the three old Springfields, the two M1 carbines and the half-dozen Army .45s he had on hand. Henry had ‘acquired’ them in the chaos after the Pearl Harbor attacks, when he had been hired to work on clearing away the debris of bombed buildings at Hickam Field. Paul and Maggie were frequent guests.
Today, while the men shot guns and drank iced tea on the range, Maggie and Apikala were sitting in the big veranda Henry had built in the south side of the house and watched.
“Your Paul, he is a good shot. He does very well on that old wooden leg. Has he thought about getting a new one? Wouldn’t the VA get him a newer one?”
Maggie took a sip from her tall, frosted glass; as she wasn’t handling a firearm, she was drinking pineapple juice laced with a little okolehao. Apikala had a similar drink.
“He says he’s happy with the leg he has,” Maggie replied. “He’s been using it since 1918. Says he’s used to it.”
“Almost thirty years. That’s a long time.”
Maggie watched as Henry jogged back up the firing lane, having left a couple of old wooden crates in front of the backstop. Both men picked up M1 carbines and began to demolish the crates with rapid fire.
A car pulled up the long laneway to the house. Sam Kendall and his wife Betty climbed out. Sam shouted at the range: “You guys didn’t shoot up all the ammo, did you?”
“Got plenty,” Henry called back. “Come on up here. Heya, Betty!”
“Got us a case of Budweiser for after,” Sam said as he walked over to the firing line.
Betty walked over to join Maggie and Apikala on the veranda. “Say,” she said smiling, “I don’t suppose you have any more of that?” She pointed at Maggie’s drink.
“Oh,” Apikala flashed a grin that illuminated her brown face. “I think we just might.”
Another fusillade of shots sounded from the firing line nearby.
The Pacific Airlines spanking-new DC-6 rolled to a stop at Honolulu’s John Rodgers Airport. Attendants rolled a ladder up to the airplane as its big propellers spun down. One of the four big Pratt & Whitney radial engines backfired twice, coughing out a cloud of black smoke before coming to a stop.
Fifth to exit the door of the plane was the slim figure of Danny Greene. Two enormous sides of beef with the looks of thugs, but who were in fact a pair of big Iowa farm boys hired on as muscle, followed Danny down the ladder and into the airport.
“C’mon,” he told them. “Let’s get our bags. I want to get to the hotel and have a few drinks on the beach. We can do the job in a day or so. May as well enjoy the island while we’re here, right boys? Gotta tell you, I didn’t think I’d be back so soon. Let’s have some fun. Then we can go have a different kind of fun.”
“Whatever you say, Boss,” one of the farm boys grinned.
Now, they take him and they teach him and they groom him for life
And they set him on a path where he’s bound to get ill,
Then they bury him with stars.
Sell his body like they do used cars,
Now, there’s a woman on my block,
She just sit there facin’ the hill.
She say who gonna take away his license to kill?