Special Agent Miguel Garcia does what he must in the line of duty - for Rhythms & Writing.
|Special Agent Miguel Garcia's earpiece crackled, and a female alto voice said, “Traveler is at the door.”
“Copy that,” he replied, then scanned the moonlit, city street for danger. An owl hooted, and crickets chirped in the bushes. Nothing struck him as a potential threat. It was an average summer day's night in the nation's capital.
That all-important summit with the Russian delegates had dragged on for hours, much longer than scheduled. In fact, he was shocked the President had bothered to stay. Usually, he'd leave it up to his daughter when the discussions got into boring details or dragged on for too long. Miguel guessed today's negotiations must have been particularly important. None of that was relevant to him. His only concern was to get the President safely back home to the “Castle”.
Miguel had personally investigated every parked vehicle, doorway, and shrub in sight. Marksmen from the Counter Sniper Team occupied key strategic positions around the street, and every nearby building had been thoroughly searched by Special Officers assigned to tonight's team.
Two other agents appeared from nearby doorways, both dressed in dark, off-the-rack suits like his, and nodded as they came to stand beside him near Cadillac One.
Satisfied that the area was secure, Miguel signaled to the driver of the uniquely designed Cadillac, who started her engine. All along the street, other engines purred into life as the twenty-four vehicles in the presidential motorcade prepared to move.
“We are green for go,” he muttered into his earpiece.
“Traveler is leaving the building.”
Forty feet away, a phalanx of agents marched out from an ornate portico, “Traveler” clearly visible in the center of the closely packed group of dark-suited men and women. Nobody could miss that bright yellow toupee from a mile away.
Miguel surveyed the street again; one could never be too cautious when protecting the President. Still no signs of danger. He glanced back at the President. Miguel hadn't voted for the man, and none of his friends or family had. This man hadn't exactly shown the Hispanic community much love. After following him around for a year, he'd easily concluded that this jerk was the most obnoxious man he'd ever met. The odd occasion he'd overheard remarks about where he'd hidden his sombrero hadn't helped him form a more favorable opinion.
As the group drew closer, the President mumbled a disparaging remark that carried on the slight breeze, joking about how safe a vehicle could be with a woman driver. Miguel cringed. Though he'd signed up to take a bullet for this guy, he sometimes wondered if he'd rather be the one pulling the trigger. What kind of world would his daughter, Isabella inherit when men like this called the shots? But such thoughts were irrelevant. He'd sworn his oath to the Constitution, not the President.
Besides, he recalled Isabella's beaming face when she returned from kindergarten last Tuesday after show and tell. She'd taken his shield and a newspaper clipping—one showing him standing beside the President at a press briefing. She was so proud of her daddy, who she believed had the most important job in America. Miguel loved to see his daughter's delighted smile. Of course, Isabella was too young and innocent to comprehend what this vile man's policies might do for her future job prospects.
The President's entourage were a mere twenty feet away. Miguel scanned the street one last time, then stepped closer to Cadillac One's rear door, ready to open it and usher the big man inside.
“Amber,” shrieked the voice in his earpiece. “I say again, Code Amber.”
Miguel's training kicked in. He drew his SIG Sauer P229, spun around, and scanned the shadows. All around he saw other Special Agents doing the same. Those in the President's entourage packed tighter around that yellow toupee, obscuring the man below.
“What's happening,” he hissed.
“Missed radio check from Tango Squad.”
Miguel glanced over at the President's entourage. The agents there were skilfully maneuvering him toward the relative safety of the nearest doorway, which was closer than Cadillac One. Miguel took cover behind the armored limousine and rested his sidearm atop the hood, pointed toward the building where Tango Squad should be.
The President hadn't exactly made many friends recently, either domestically or abroad. The US had no shortage of enemies right now. If this was the beginning of a terrorist attack, Miguel wouldn't be surprised.
Uniformed Special Agents poured out of the building, all carrying assault rifles. Was this Tango Squad? As they drew closer, he realized that their rifles weren't the standard issue SR-16 CQB assault rifles.
“Infiltrators!” he screamed.
His earpiece crackled. “Code Red! Code Red!”
“No shit?” he mumbled in a sarcastic tone.
The “agents” opened fire on the President's entourage. Ironically, Miguel noted that not one looked in any way Hispanic. At least the latest immigration policies had helped keep those pesky Mexicans away. Every last one of the assailants appeared to be a blond-haired, blue-eyed Anglo-Saxon.
Miguel aimed at the nearest gunman and pulled his trigger. His gun kicked. The fake agent toppled.
Huge questions flew around inside Miguel's head. How had these men infiltrated the protection team? They must have had inside help. Was this a coup? He shook off those thoughts and focused on the immediate threat. He'd leave the detailed analyses to the historians. He'd sworn an oath to the Constitution, and he meant to keep it.
Something like a demolition ball smacked Miguel square in the center of his concealed Kevlar vest. All the air whooshed from his lungs. Several ribs audibly cracked. The shock of the impact threw him backward. He hit the ground hard, the back of his skull smacking against the unforgiving paving. He didn't even have enough breath left to groan.
In the Looney Tunes cartoons he watched as a kid, the heroes would see stars circling around their heads right about now. What he actually saw was a blurry night sky dotted with unnaturally bright blotches that he suspected were in his confused mind rather than his actual vision.
All around, the sound of automatic gunfire continued. He took a labored breath. His throat rattled, and his chest ached. The air stank of cordite and desperation.
He blinked. His vision cleared a little. He rolled to one side—toward where he'd last seen the President. Pain ripped through his torso. He tasted an iron tang on his tongue. His head felt strangely heavy, and he blacked out.
Nearby gunshots woke him. Though groggy, he opened his eyes and lifted his head. He wasn't sure how long he'd been unconscious, but his vision had improved. Almost all the President's protection squad were down. That infamous toupee lay abandoned a few feet away, looking like a particularly shaggy hamster trodden to death by a stampeding crowd. From the grim determination on the face of the three Special Agents still standing, the figure cringing behind them was its former owner.
Miguel's SIG Sauer lay on the ground nearby, mere inches out of reach. He attempted to shuffle closer, and a jolt of agonizing pain shot through his chest. He suspected that his ribs weren't just cracked; they were broken. If he moved any more, he risked puncturing his lungs and other internal organs.
Another agent dropped, and the remaining two huddled closer to the man they protected.
Two men dressed in Counter Assault Team battle dress uniforms sprinted into view, taking cover behind a limousine that stood between them and the President. It appeared that they were the last two survivors of the infiltrator's cell. At least, Miguel couldn't see any others within his limited field of vision. But from there, armed with those assault rifles, the two surviving assailants should have no problem bringing the current administration to a premature end.
If Miguel hadn't been so badly injured, he could have easily taken them out. He had a completely unrestricted view of their position. As it was, it seemed impossible. If he blacked out trying to move, how could he possibly hope to reach his sidearm?
He closed his eyes. Why did he care so much? He hated the guy in the toupee. Miguel should be thanking those infiltrators—joining them, not fighting. Wouldn't the world be a better place with that man out of the way?
As blood pooled in his mouth, and he labored to take another agonizing breath, he wondered if he'd survive the day. He was so broken and tired, his inner warrior had fled the scene. What was the point of struggling any longer? He should just lay back and let events take their inevitable course.
But then a new face entered his mind's eye. Isabella! If he died today, she would grow up without a father. Who would preside over her quinceañera? Who would cheer at her high school graduation? Who would walk Isabella down the aisle? Would she still be proud of her father, if he failed in his duty? He'd sworn an oath.
Mentally, he shook his head. It was too painful to do physically. How could he give up now when he needed to see Isabella smile? In his mind, he heard her humming a familiar, uplifting tune. What was that song again? For the life of him, he couldn't remember. But some of the lyrics came to him. Something about getting up in spite of the pain. Something about breaking through the agony…
“For you,” he wheezed—more a weak rattle than a whisper. “Dios mío, give me strength.”
He didn't have much faith in his fragile, crippled body, but he remembered Jesus once said that you only needed faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains. Surely, he could scrape together that much confidence. Surely, he could survive a little longer. Surely, he could rise again just one more time.
He pulled in a breath, tensed his stomach, grit his teeth, and rolled.
His chest felt like he'd been simultaneously tasered and hit with a hammer. His vision faded toward black. Bile rose in his stomach. Yet somehow he found his numb fingers touching something hard and cold.
He focused as well as he was able. Yes. His SIG Sauer lay right there. With fumbling fingers, he grasped the familiar grip. He pointed his sidearm toward the infiltrators. He'd only get one shot—the recoil would cause serious pain—but that might be enough. Removing one assailant from the equation could mean the difference between the President's life and death.
He rose, supported by one elbow so that he was in an inclined position like some Roman nobleman at a banquet. He raised his right arm. It shook, but the target was close. Miguel hoped he could make the shot. He wanted to make Isabella proud. Sucking in a rasping breath, he tensed his arm and aimed. Imagining Isabella's smile, he squeezed the trigger.
With the recoil, something ripped inside Miguel's chest. He slumped to the ground and coughed up blood. But he was still conscious, if barely, and glanced toward his intended target.
One of the infiltrators clutched his right shoulder. Miguel's bullet had missed where he'd intended to hit, in the chest, but still managed to cripple the man. The other assailant spun, aiming his assault rifle straight at Miguel's head.
He closed his eyes and awaited the end. At least this terrible pain would stop, and then he'd be at peace.
A shot rang out. Someone yelped.
Miguel was still in agony. Nothing had changed. He opened his eyes. In turning to shoot him, the infiltrator must have exposed himself to a Counter Sniper Team agent's line of sight.
In spite of the pain, he chuckled, spraying blood onto the yellow paving like a Jackson Pollock masterpiece. He'd survived, and Isabella would be happy. It was a shame that in order to keep his oath and make her proud, he'd had to save the President's life.
WORD COUNT: 2000