The Sniper Incident from Ro’s perspective: Seven

The idea was to be invisible

Saturday, March 24, 2007, 2:18 p.m.

Ro waited five minutes for the van to get at least a hundred yards past her position, then, now hopefully with the island gunman’s attention focused in that direction, finished crawling to a spot in the ditch behind the disabled patrol cars.

“Check point two,” she said into her mic.

“10-04.”

Now safe, at least relatively speaking, she squirmed around, peaked over the edge of the ditch, pushed the prop package around in front of her and belly crawled across the highway’s westbound lane to a position next to the front wheel of the disabled patrol car in the eastbound lane.

The prop package was, in fact, a sniper’s shooting mat she’d folded over onto itself several times, securing the ends with black tape, so it was now in effect a five-foot long by not quite foot-thick roll. In the center she’d used her pocketknife to carve out a notch deep enough to hide the Remington’s barrel.

The roll, as well as her black tactical vest and baseball-style cap, had all been “decorated” in a random pattern with irregularly shaped chunks of black tape, grey duct tape and white adhesive tape from the SWAT van. Her face and hands had even been covered with thumb-print daubs of black and tan camo cream, like a bizarre case of the measles.

While up close the get-up might look silly, from the kind of distance the shooter was at and taking into account the foreshortening effect of his scope, the intent was that visually she would blend in with the gravel side of the railroad embankment thirty feet behind her; that she would become invisible.

Yes, the thin foam mat offered zero protection from a powerful .50 slug if the sniper found her position, but the only truly safe hide in this scene, as in thick enough to offer protection from what she assumed was a Barrett, was behind the railroad embankment, twenty-five yards to the rear; she wanted – needed – those extra yards on her side.

“In position,” she said into the wand mic.

There was just the slightest pause before Pease responded, like he had let out a short breath of relief she had not been spotted and there had been no gunfire from the island, “10-04.”

***

Now settled into position behind the squad cars, the seed of the idea that had occurred to her in passing not quite three hours ago, but at the time was pushed aside by more immediate details, now blossomed.

If this is really a sniper vs. sniper thing, she thought, then who is it over there on the island and why would he start this ruckus?

When crawling across the highway she’d glanced up at the damage done to the two cars and was now more convinced than ever this shooter knew exactly was he was doing, that he had military sniper training.

Those shots are too precise to be random, one squarely in the middle of the rear passenger doors, the other taking out the rear tires but missing the gas tank and a possible explosion. And you didn’t fire on the van – you spared three lives on purpose, but why?

More than a few times while on routine patrol she’d been sent to assist a local EMT crew with an Iraq or Afghanistan vet who’d gone off his meds and was acting out a bit, although so far none had become dangerously violent like this guy. But her gut was telling her this wasn’t a simple case of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) gone rogue.

You’re in control here, she thought, addressing the unknown shooter, not some crazed shooter high on blood lust… You’re executing a plan.

She blinked several times not wanting to deal with her next thought, but knowing she had to. Oh shit, this is a suicide mission. Nobody’s gonna talk you into surrendering because you don’t want to surrender.

She took a breath as the chain of thoughts progressed. Those deputies were only the bait to set-up a test against somebody like me, a fellow warrior. This is a duel to the death.

She cringed at the idea.

Ro Delahanty did consider herself a warrior, she’d proven that in two previous shootouts in which she’d taken lives, and so saw a kind of perverse compliment in his presumed plan.

But you’re asking me to be your executioner, she thought, seeing that as the logical conclusion to where this was going.

But then two thoughts kind of tripped over one another.

The first was a bit uncomfortable because she found herself sympathetic to the idea he might want to die at the hands of a fellow warrior, to go out with dignity as he understood it. While she certainly did not dwell on the possible circumstances of her own death, she knew it could be under fire, and that she, too, would want it to be a “good death,” not a cowardly one.

To you, it’d be an honor for me to take you down… That’s what you want here… Hunh, that is, unless you get me first…

Everyday citizens would never fathom the truth of what she was thinking; only a fellow warrior might understand.

The second was that her “logic” for the inevitability of this outcome was based on a great many suppositions for which she only had at best circumstantial evidence; it was pretty much a house of cards.

Which is what allowed her to set aside the murky mental exercise…

We’ll just have to see how things unfold.

…and turn her attention to the more immediate task of locating her adversary.

For any of this to happen, I gotta find you first…

Next: The “log” that wasn’t a log after all

From the Ro Delahanty novel Twists and Turns © 2019 Dave Lager