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Steve Willetts

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Quiet Patriot
by Steve Willetts   

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Quiet Patriot

Mason Grant is longing for the excitement that was once in his life. Fifteen years of marriage, two kids and his job in Information Technology is not exactly keeping his adrenaline pumping. The September 11 terrorist attacks give Mason the opportunity to put some excitement back in his life.

A call from an old friend puts Mason back in the chase. Although he is not the macho kid that used a sniper rifle and a machine gun to harass drug lords in the 80’s, Mason is having some fun again. This time the enemy is world-wide, high tech and driven by religious and political convictions. The rules of engagement are different.

Mason has to find a way to hide this new endeavor from his family, friends and employer. He is forced to make decisions that challenge his beliefs. He misses the old days when the enemy was much easier to recognize.

Across the world in Israel, a young man seizes an opportunity to take advantage of the turmoil created by terrorism. As he advances his personal agenda of revenge and wealth, he places himself in Mason's sites. Mason thought this young Israeli was dead after his plane exploded over Nova Scotia.

It’s hard to kill someone that you admire, especially the second time.

“It’s game time!” Mason whispered into his headset. He took his position at the right of the doorway and readied his M-16 rifle. The rhythms of salsa music drifted from the building. For the second time in three days his five-man team was raiding a cocaine lab in Medellin, Columbia. With the four members of his team in position but out of site in the early morning darkness, Mason pushed open the door slowly and slightly, to the converted fruit and produce warehouse.
What he saw excited him. “Hell yes!” Mason said into his microphone, almost too loud for this situation. Just ten feet from the door and sitting at small table were the two local leaders of the FARC, (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia…The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia). The two men, both in their early thirties were wanted by the US government for cocaine trafficking and by the Columbians for murder and a long list of crimes against the government.
Mason stepped back into the darkness and spoke into his headset. “Grandpa, this is Prodigy, over.” He held up his first to let his team members know to halt. They were also listening to his radio transmission.
A familiar voice responded, “Prodigy, talk to me.” It was the voice of Curt Thomas, the supervisor of this and other Latin American operations.
“Grandpa I have a visual on two of the problem children. They are in the front room of the warehouse. How do you want to proceed?”
“Roger, Prodigy, would prefer live but not at your risk.”
“Understood… Prodigy out”, Mason responded. He knew that these guys had information that could help grab others in the FARC but he would not think twice about killing them if they didn’t play nice. His team’s mission was to put a dent in the cocaine manufacturing in Medellin but bringing in these guerilla leaders was just icing on the cake.
Knowing his team had monitored the secure radio transmission Mason took returned to his position. “OK guys, positions.”
One team member, Gilmore moved to the left end of the building to cover the only other exit from the building. Royal and Hinson joined Mason at the doorway, leaving Langston outside to cover their rear.
In a flash of time that some how seemed to stand still, Mason led his teammates into the warehouse shouting “Obtener en el suelo!”…get on the ground!
The FARC leader on Mason’s left hit the dirt floor and immediately placed his hands on his head. The other man quickly produced a nine millimeter pistol but before he could fire Mason placed a 5.56 round into his shooting shoulder. The guerilla fighter dropped the pistol and hit the ground as his shirt became blood-soaked. The look on his face alternated between anger and fear.
With Mason covering him, Royal bound the hands of both FARC leaders behind their backs using plastic restraints. Duct tape was placed over their mouths. The Hinson moved to and covered the door that led to the rear area of the warehouse.
As expected, two men burst from the door in response to Mason’s fired shot. Both were armed with Chinese made AK-47 rifles. Hinson promptly dropped both of these unfortunate gentlemen with close range shots to the head from his nine millimeter pistol.
Hinson and Mason entered the lab area of the building. A quick scan of the room and Mason met the eyes of its only occupant. In a dark corner of the room, behind bales of coca leaves a young man, most likely only sixteen or seventeen years old was raising his rifle. Mason popped off a three round burst from his weapon and the kid fell lifeless to the dirt floor. Mason felt bad about killing the kid but it was a reality of the job.
Hinson cautiously moved to the corner of the room where the bales of coca leaves were stacked and checked for more resistance.
“All clear.” Hinson said in a hushed tone while staring at the still open eyes of the dead teenager.
In his headset Mason could hear Gilmore covering the back door announcing. “I’ve corralled five just outside the door, all unarmed and scared shitless!”

“Wake up surfer boy!”
Mason blinked and looked into the beautiful blue eyes of his wife. Suddenly he was back to reality. It was September 11, 2001.
“What time are you flying out this morning?” Stacie asked.
“Eleven o’clock.” Mason replied as he took his feet off the desk and sat up straight in the office chair.
“OK, I am running over to Missy’s house for coffee and…”
Mason interrupted, “Yeah, yeah, I know… girl-talk. Are you going to take me to the airport?”
Stacie pulled her blonde hair back into a ponytail and put on her sunglasses. “Yep, ten o’clock, right?”
“Yep, and then I am off to another week of more flights, more hotels, more being nice to dumb-ass customers!” Mason sneered.
Stacie leaned over and kissed Mason on the lips. “Just a few more years and you can retire. When your employer is bought out by Microsoft you will be set.”
Mason patted Stacie on her ass as she turned away. “Damn, I hope so…I want to get us down to the Keys and chill. I think I will become a writer or something creative.”
“You will make it…this is America, the land of opportunity!” Stacie said as she exited the office.
Mason rubbed his eyes and was quickly reminded he had not washed off the salt that coated his skin during an hour of early morning surfing at Wrightsville Beach. Now that his eyes were burning he was fully awake. Still, he could smell the burning gun powder and hear the reports from the automatic weapons from the past. Damn, he missed that!
Mason sat up in his chair, put his feet on the floor and took big sip of coffee from his Carolina Panthers coffee cup. The coffee had become cold and acrid. The smells and sounds from his dream quickly disappeared. Yep, reality was definitely back.
After taking a quick look at yet another email from a fellow employee about some mundane subject, he shut down his computer.
“I swear, I think some of these assholes get paid based on how many emails they send out each day.”
Mason slipped his black IBM ThinkPad laptop into his backpack and pulled up the zippers from both sides until they met in the middle. He placed his boarding passes into the side pocket of the backpack and set it on top of his desk.
He checked his watch. It was only 8:50. He had a little more than an hour to shower, dress and pack. As usual the television in the den that adjoined his home office was tuned to CNN. Mason heard a breaking news announcement about an American Airlines plane crashing into one of the World Trade Center Towers in New York City.

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