About Henry Fellows
On Killing and Innocence: The Chronicles of Henry Fellows
Chapter 12 Begins
Chapter 12: Awake
How long’s it been? No freaking clue. It’s different now, that much is clear. It seemed like an eternity, all the memories, the unconscious consciousness that you call sleep, but further down, darker. Nebulous visions of my childhood, innocence mixed with so-called traumas that are really just part of being a kid. The re-creation of my parents’ crime scene, stepping over plastic bags and little evidence markers on that bloody stage of some psycho’s performance, men floating around in blue uniforms asking me questions, me not having any answers, images all twisted and wrapped around each other.
Strange. Laying down, bright lights raging overhead, buzzing fluorescence burning off the slime, that sticky substance that chokes thought. I get it. I’ll parcel that all up, shove it to the back, try and forget what needs forgetting.
Crap, my face hurts.
“How you doing, son?”
Thank God. It’s old Floyd, but I can barely see him. It’s like coming out of the womb, or how I imagine that would be.
“You’ve been out for eight hours.”
Eight hours? What about the eternity I was just talking about? He can’t be right. No. I was away for a long time, down in the dark—
“You remember, right? You told the doc to put you out just enough. Your orders.”
Stupid orders. What’s going on? Are my kids okay? The ex? Why can’t I get anything out of—
“Don’t try to talk. They got you bandaged up like a damn mummy. Gotta say, it looks like hell. Couple days, maybe, but you can’t go around like that for a while.”
He’s right. About the talking. My lips and every muscle that would make them function seem to be paralyzed by drugs, reset bones, cuts, or pure pain. Still, gotta try and communicate. Shake your right hand. Sack up, Henry. There you go. Keep shaking.
“I don’t understand.”
“Kid, what do you need?”
Floyd. Use your thinking cap. It’s starting to cramp.
“You want pills?”
“We’ll get you fixed up, but this doc says they won’t react well with the drugs you’re already on.”
I make a fist. Shake it as menacingly as I know how.
“Okay. I’ll tell him to figure it out.”
They should’ve made us learn sign language. I open up my hand and wave it in little circles, like you do when you want someone to spill.
“So apparently that deputy character got to your family. He’s with them now. Our man is watching over the protective detail, keeping his distance, says they’re decent but not the best he’s ever seen. You want to keep him on it?
My hand makes a thumbs up. Damn right I want to keep him on it. It makes sense that Floyd is apprehensive about using his name. He’s talking about Al, the specialist amongst specialists in our line of work. The kind of guy op runners like Floyd try to stay away from. Guess you could call him a wild card. Don’t want to paint him with the crazy brush, but overly-zealous might be a fitting description. One could generously refer to folks like myself and Al as idiosyncrasy collectors. If we were characters, he’d be Patton and I’d be the dude in Johnny Got His Gun.
Floyd’s also got some history with Al to draw from. There was one deal, think it was the extraction of a political dissident being held hostage by a radical Islamic group. They needed this mug to lead the moderates, you know, prop up some wannabe government over there that had little to no chance of survival. Dude was a sheikh or imam, whatever it’s called. The place he was being held in was a veritable fortress. Fifteen turbans had this guy under lock and key, probably to chop his head off or some such. Floyd and his people couldn’t get the okay to go in. No reliable intelligence. No decent points of ingress or egress. In our business, that’s when you say abort.
Al didn’t care.
He just waded on in. Alone. Five grenades, a machine-gun, and a really big knife was all he needed.
The rescue ended in success, kind of. Al picked up the guy, frazzled as heck, threw him over his shoulder and handed him off to the extract team. Problem was, after witnessing the complete and total carnage left in the wake of one sole American, the moderate was radicalized and ended up becoming one of our biggest enemies in the region. Pissed off the brass something fierce.
Always thought that assessment was a little unfair.
When asked to recount his actions, Al replied simply, “I killed the bad guys.”
Always thought that his assessment was fair.
I have to admit to some inherent bias. Like the sheikh, Al threw me over his shoulder and rescued me from the torture bunker I was in. Kind of puts me irrevocably in his corner. Floyd on the other hand—just a bit too much bureaucrat in him to appreciate the bluntness of an instrument like Al.