7.2 Tough Crowd

by Matt P.

Things swiftly went from bad to worse. Walter and Ryan rolled in to the hallway to find themselves facing another gun, this one a handgun held by a tall and beefy man with a confident look on his features. He was backed up by two other men, all of them wearing dark and vaguely tactical clothing. The handgun man gave him a broad smile as he looked at the two kneeling figures in front of him.

“Just like fishing,” he proclaimed, motioning with his gun for Walter and Ryan to stand up. “You’re the Deputy,” Handgun offered to Walter, before looking to Ryan. “And you’re not on my list. So tell me who you are, and I’ll let you know if you get to live.” Walter and Ryan shared a look, followed by Ryan looking incredulously at Handgun.

“You’ve got Walt on a list, but you didn’t shoot both of us right away—so that means you’re not someone we pissed off before. You’re pointing the gun at him and don’t know who I am, which meas you’re not someone we pissed off last year,” Ryan ticked through a list, actually holding up his fingers.

Walter got involved, rolling his shoulders a little bit to keep them loose but covering it by looking like he had just hit the ground hard. “You brought pretty standard goon load-out, so you’re not expecting anything particularly tough,” Walter said, keeping his hands out to the sides and away from his rifle. Wouldn’t do to make the man just outright shoot him. “And you’re wearing a vest but none of your goon squad are, so you’re not military or paramilitary. So you’re just…” Walter looked at Ryan when he got to the end, as if asking if he was missing anything. When Ryan shrugged, Walter looked back to Handgun. “Normal guys?”

Handgun snorted. He had a good shooting stance, and was keeping a decent amount of distance given they had basically run in to one another, and seemed to know what he was doing. So Walter wasn’t surprised by his response. “These boys are some pretty tough pipe hitters and I’m Army Ranger, Keystone Cop.”

Walter made his eyes go wide and he looked at Ryan; despite the frightened look, he kept track of the men behind Handgun, who were relaxing in ‘bodyguard pose’—which coincidentally put their own handguns out of quick use.. “Oh shit, Ryan, this guy was an Army Ranger? You know what that means?” His voice was panicky and breathy, and Handgun started to puff his chest a little bit.

Ryan matched his look, gasping. “He’s been to Fort Benning?” Walter nodded. “And was probably pissed off when they switched beret colors?” Walter nodded again, but then let his face relax. “And probably wasn’t in the regiment until after we were?”

Walter nodded a final time, rubbing his chin. “Probably, although if he was in the Regiment and not just qualified then we might have overlapped. I mean, thats a lot of people.” He shrugged. “Going to have to try harder to be intimidating, man.”

Handgun shook his head from side to side. “Bullshit,” he declared. “You think I’m going to believe you jokers? We got the drop on you, and you’re trying to play with us to stall so the other two can come around.” His eyes moved from Walter to Ryan and back again, belying his words—he was clearly annoyed pertinent information hadn’t been given to him. He had a list, and it should have said if they were just random cops or not. He opened his mouth to say more, but Walter saw his eyes quickly flit to Ryan again. Walter sprung, trusting Ryan to handle the shotgun wielding men behind him.

He lashed out and slapped the handgun to the side, his other hand moving to the rifle on a sling at his side. He brought the barrel up and fired a quick shot in to Handgun’s knee, dropping him and causing him to drop his handgun. Continuing the motion Walter had the rifle up halfway to his shoulder when he fired two shots into the first man’s throat, and he had it fully shouldered when he fired two shots to drop the other bodyguard poser.

One of the two bodyguard posers managed to get his gun up and fire off a shot as Walter dropped him—the other did not. The bullet hit Handgun in the back where he was on the ground, thrown wide by his imminent death, and Handgun fell forward with a gasp of pain as the bullet flattened on his vest and laid him out on the ground. The sound of gunfire behind him, and the fact that it wasn’t a shotgun firing reassured him. When he looked over, he saw Ryan fine and lowering his rifle with a shrug.

“Do you think that we have too high a threshold for being impressed?” Ryan asked curiously as he moved to check on Handgun. “Nice shot, you didn’t hit the vein, and it didn’t shatter his kneecap.”

Walter sighed. “What if I was aiming for his knee-cap? I could be slipping. And…” Walter considered the hallway around them. He took a zip tie out of his pocket, and leaned down to pull Handgun’s arms behind his back and zip tie his wrists. “Maybe we are a little hard to impress,” he admitted. “Come on, let’s go see if he’s got any other guys. And give them a chance to stand down, please, this was ugly circumstances.”

Ryan nodded, and shouldered his rifle as the two of them started back down the hallway. “Still,” Ryan offered, “It’s nice to be fighting just…guys, you know?”

Walter nodded. “Amen.”