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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · War · #2202015
Rogue's Gallery tour of everything wrong with Ireland, not printed in the tourist guide.
My orders were very specific, you're to assist the Royal Ulster Constabulary in locating a man with a bag. Period. Do not talk to the bag man. Period. Do not look at the bag man. Period. You don't know anyone else you're working with therefore, whereas, don't talk to them about anything. Period. Then Capt. Bonnie Ann Clyde, Big Red One, and she was a big red one fat beaver from Hell, sent me to the unhappy part of Ireland. The part with the steep rolling hills of treeless grass separated by wet vales of sloppy mud, littered with small dodgy hamlets of impoverished bogtrotters, living in dirty broken slums eking more poverty from menial labor. That unhappy part of Ireland...At least the place smelled better than East Germany.

As always, these sheep shagger's don't even tell even tell me what the bag man looks like. Now I've been in business for about two years now so I'm not even going to ask. Then Bonnie alludes to 'maybe somebody might try to buy me off' and a few other cryptic remarks of the veiled persuasion. Now, this takes place in Wiesbaden, where all my business starts, next to her the executive officer which we all know is there to spy on us. Bonnie's big trouble, period. Furthermore, the only reasons she's breathing air is because she got the goods on too many people and they have too many enemies that would take great joy and delight in running a stake through their cold small hearts, using Bonnie as an excuse. That and more than a few owed her a favor, and maybe a small minuscule tiny amount liked her. Probably.

I figure she would've told me the last time we shagged each other's sheep. Bonnie despite all her bad points, which are many and well documented, has a heart of gold. Understand, by this time I'm 21 years old and a well-polished gentleman of the school of treachery and wanton depravity. My first wife Asexy, that heartbreak started out as a marriage of convenience for both of us, Bonnie was the Best Man at our nuptials. It made the back page of the Stars & Stripes and the society page of the U.S. Army's Officer's periodical whose title escapes me. Doesn't matter, that was in 1988 when having a woman as a Best Man was a novelty item.

Well, after about three months of getting to know each other I decided I liked having this ninety-eight-pound girl from Seattle in my life. Looking back, I believe she saw the end coming because she really put pressure on me to adopt children. Long story short, Asexy can't have children, gynecological problem and I have problems with adopting. She wants boys, I want twin girls and we both have moral and ethical problems with reproductive technology.

Hence, we bought a house in Landsthul, and asked Bonnie to be our surrogate. Bonnie is 33 at the time. No previous pregnancies. When she failed achieve maternity fast enough, she moved into the house's guest room. Then into the master bedroom, and no, neither of them bend both ways. They knocked each other's teeth out over a domestic situation, as in who owned the kitchen when I absconded to Czechoslovakia officially on deployment. Unofficially I escaped married life with plausible deniability. They were best friends after that. I make a terrible boyfriend and worse husband. I also learned to enjoy bigamy. I don't recommend it.
That's the history between us, that and we're just too stupid to quit.

There on and so forth, this puts me in Ireland, Dublin airport, one of them anyhow, wearing my union suit...Black suit, black tie and a trench coat and my trade mark fedora. Well, I'm walking through the terminal lobby looking for anyone that sticks out, besides me I mean. The floor needs cleaned, the front glass doors need cleaned and it was too shabby. One of things that goes through my mind is French girls, on average, rival the locals as far as bone ugly goes. Then this face of an underaged French girl shows up from memory and I'm off in a flash on a guilt trip.

She's fourteen, I'm twenty so I knocked her up after knowing her about five minutes. Literally. My friend Jack had much to do with that and it's another story for another day. Bonnie got my ass out of it, and I chucked over, voluntarily might add, the entire contents of a savings account where I threw my hazardous duty off the books pay. The little nipper cost me $320,000 USD. Not a problem, after all he's a good kid.

I held him once.

Now that history I quit because it be too stupid not to. Now me being me, I'd explain it this way, I was dating Asexy at the time and labored under the false impression that our nuptials were an act. Besides, I'm a guy that idolizes the Big Bad Wolf. Truth is, that's bullshit. I'm a guy that makes his money by carrying a gun for governments and I have a contract out on my head. Anyone that would be willing to kill me for that wouldn't hesitate to take my woman and family too. I'm dangerous to be around and I know it. That's why I'm a widower. Somebody wanted to collect a contract and figured they'd smoke me out by killing my wife. I knew it was coming, tried to stop it but destiny is destiny. That's another story for another century.

Well this redhead snaps me out of the fog, she's punching tickets behind the counter off to my left. Identifies me as an American, gives me her phone number while chatting me up. Not very good at it. She likes bad boys and lets it be known she's looking for a passport out of a shithole. Now, Irish girls are barkers, and as I write this, I'm watching my three-year-old red-headed granddaughter run around her backyard nude carrying a rubber chicken, laughing. Her seven-year-old brother is chasing her with a sun dress. Not only is this wee one adverse to clothing, she collects rubber chickens, managed to lift several of them from the local dollar junk store. She's going to grow up to look Irish, I can see it all ready. She's acting like it right now. Except she's sober. To correct this, I smacked my son, her father. Twice.

Back to Ireland, that red-head gave me her phone number and I decide to turn over a new leaf. I play it off as already being involved. Truth is, I figured Bonnie would find out and she already tried to kill me during sex, via cervical manipulation resulting in dislocation after poisoning my coffee once. I can understand that, she was involved in a racketeering operation on the side and those guys needed loose ends tied up and needed a test of loyalty. She forgot I use to teach other now dead women how to kill KGB types with their kitties. So, I lived, now mostly deaf because she boxed my ears first, and I forgave her. After all, I really understand her situation, that and I don't know where to find another Bonnie. A woman that puts up with my deficient personality and lack of scruples with aplomb.

I never let her fix me a cup of coffee after that.

Bonnie ain't like normal.

Well after avoiding another huge payment in child support, I walk away from the counter then watch two Irish cops walk in. They stop, look around, then bee line for me. They make mention the girl behind the counter is on the make...I reply I figured that out and my current would kill me if I did. Mentioned she might poison my morning coffee, they thought I was joking and laughed it off. Ten minutes later I exit their car at the front of their barracks, which resembles a dilapidated Hyatt Inn, about 1970. The Hyatt is much nicer by the way. Hang out in the lobby with three other goons in black suits, with black travel bags waiting on the rest. For the record, I was the best dressed there, I had a brown fedora.

Once they collected all eight of us, they put us on an Irish tour bus, something like Shamrock Tours but don't hold me to that, and away we went. Imagine that, eight guys, all dressed alike, not talking to anyone on a tour bus. No, none of us look related except for three jokers I'll name Ringo, Paul and George. They looked alike more or less, because I figured they came from the same part of where ever or their dad traveled. I ended up sitting by myself in back against the rear wall, keeping a suspicious eye on all of them.

Once the bus got moving the last guy up front, began asking anyone about this that and the other thing. His accent didn't sound European, and first I thought he was either a Kiwi or maybe Australian. The more he ran his lip the more those notions went the way of the Dodo bird. Turns out he's Afrikaner. Nobody says anything back, I stare at him trying to size him up, Paul, Ringo and George ignore him, like everyone else, the silence spoke volumes. There are two things for you to think about now, one being why the hell is a White South African going to Ulster and secondly, this isn't the way to see Ireland.

Bad crowd of people.

The guys on the bus, not the Irish.

After several hours we get to where we're going and the first impression, I get is it all looks like a back alley in Glassport. Except worse for wear, and the bus made the final turn with difficulty. It stopped backed up, and inched its way around a corner to a side alley. On one side is the backdoor to a police station, the building looked condemnable, the other side, wide open grassy hills, not a tree in sight, but three sheep. I left the bus last, and the Afrikaner hits me up for a business proposition, vaguely. Politely I blew him off.

Once there the local RUCs arm us. What I found interesting is when they issued me a FN-FAL I refused to go any further until I sighted the rifle in. This identified me as an American. Well, they issued only half of us rifles and sidearms. I didn't need the sidearm, I came with my own. This made the other thugs nervous, which I understood better later. I generally don't work below my pay-scale. What I normally do is small unit covert operations, not add a thug for whatever this is. Later when Ringo asked me how I got that through customs I just said my employers could make that happen. It left him comfortably numb.

The RUCs, they took me to a place called 'The Rocks' set up a tripod, measured off two hundred meters...Yeah, meters, this is Europe they use metrics. I sighted in and had a very interesting conversation with the RUC that resembled the Skipper from Gilligan's Island. A well-read man, very intelligent, he traveled the world in books as he never had the opportunity to leave town. We talked about the existence of God, extraterrestrial life and the flaws of Darwinism. If there ever a case of wasted talent....

Once outfitted and equipped, another set of RUCs took us via convoy in unmarked vehicles to another town, another ghetto, based on their intelligence. Once there, they parked us in another alleyway where they met another uniformed RUC, and this chap came with a marked police car. George drove, Ringo took shotgun, and I was stuck in the back with the Afrikaner, who wouldn't shut up. The driver is smacking the steering wheel around complaining about how bolloxed everything is turning out as one of the RUCs walked along the cars telling us to get out and light a faggot as this is going to take a bit. After a few minutes the RUC with the formal squad car gathers us all around and makes a business offer.

It seems there was an incident, he didn't go into much details at a local pub. He wanted volunteers since it was 'A bloody bad mess...A real dire situation,' he also noted his people were ten minutes away. Ringo wants to know if they'd pay more for it. He replied by saying he'd put in for it and recommend several hundred quid...but couldn't make any promises. I figured what the hell, I support local law enforcement.

The Afrikaner asks why I'm doing it if I'm not getting paid.

Classic answer; My employers already pay me, and I have to use the pisser.

He laughed. Ringo smirked.

The front of the pub looks like it fell out of an over done film noire flick. If this is Ulster, the building code officer should condemn the entire province. Take a deep breath and do what you're good at, a snippet of me, commando operations. Shoulder the rifle and rush the door. Bad move on my part, I never made it more than three steps into the dive. On the floor, three decapitated bodies, in the corner two old men, one fat and pale the other thin and frail. Backed into a shadow the bartender stood, while sitting at the bar, a scrawny lanky man older than his years, wearing bloody ribbons and a green and blue plaid shirt. He's drinking whiskey.

Next to him in a row, on the bar, three severed heads.

I'm frozen aghast. No matter how many times I've seen that, bloody murder, it's always a silent scream that never gets old. I collect myself, size him up, the lanky fellow who looks harmless as a church mouse, lost and distant, and ask him why he did it.

He says they, his friends, knew them from childhood, grabbed his sister wrong. He plainly states he didn't mean to kill two of them, just the big one...When she told him, he was standing in the kitchen making dinner and had a kitchen knife in his hand. The other two tried to break the fight up all the while victim blaming, making lame excuses. Things then went from ugly to hellish. He said he put their heads on the bar because he wanted to have a drink with his friends before he went to jail. I sling my rifle, relaxing a degree above mortified.

This is a man of honor, not a diseased animal.

I excuse myself for a moment, use the gentlemen's room and return. I pay his bar tab and then sit there drinking with him. I know where he's at. We talked about it for a few, see, the same thing happened to Animal Rabies, my cousin...She can't have children after what those insults to barbarism did. I took care of them. She can use the skull of her primary assailant, there were four of them, as a combination ashtray, candy dish or coffee mug. We have a conversation over about five minutes, the RUCs show up, the first one in sees the mess. He steps outside and pukes. I can overhear the outside conversation, they decided to call for a detective, next man up on the pay scale.

After another five minutes this tall chap that slightly resembles John Cleese, and knows it, struts confidently in. He stoically surveys the situation and then orders two of his officers to drag the primary outside. Which they did while conspicuously avoiding looking around. He asks me casually, exactly what my story happened to be. I explained it pretending to be John Wayne but slip into my Lee Marvin persona. Seamlessly I might add, an act worthy of an Academy Award for Best Portrayal of an Asshole in Real Life.

The conversation went a bit like this. 'My apologies but I'm not familiar with the ranking system, but your what's called an Inspector, right?' He then looks at me questioningly and asks, 'What makes you think that?' Now I'm a mind reader and know he's giving me a psych eval because I'm sitting there with the same degree of distress as a head of cabbage. Resembling produce gives the impression you're mad, though for me this is a normal day at work. 'Because I'm not from around here and you have the most shit on your uniform...' He then mutters, 'That makes sense; however, I can't say I ever heard it expressed like that.' Then 'Well, where are you from?' 'You can't tell by the accent?' 'You really don't have much of an accent, you could be from anywhere, most surprisingly.' I think I've been in Europe too long, utter my next smart blurb, 'Well I'm from someplace other than here.' Now he's certain I'm barking mad, though in his defense, the observation seems reasonable under the circumstances. He says, I'd have to go to the station and continue the conversation with him, folding his arms across his chest.

"Inspector," replies I, exceptionally imitating Lee Marvin while lighting a cigarette, "Can't do that."

"Why not?" he states solidly.

"SOFAs."

"SOFAs? What's SOFAs?" the Inspector asks now thinking.

Status of Forces Agreement, the last answer any sane person would expect under these here conditions. He gets nervous when I reach for my wallet. Seeing this I note the handgun under the left armpit as I hand him my wallet. He asks where I got the handgun and exhales with relief as he examines my officially unofficial identification and slips again, 'For a moment I thought you were going for the rifle and I had a fight on my hands...Is this real?'

As real as I am.

"Okay you're not here and I didn't see any of this..." he forcefully states and shoves the wallet back at me.

That's why he has the most shit on his uniform, brains. At this point the old fat man in corner erupts about him just allowing that Anglo-Saxon bastard to just barge in the place waiving a gun around. The Inspector tries to explain the situation, the old man doesn't want to here it. He takes the report sternly and officially blows him off. Many people have called me many things, most of the time they were right, but this is the first and only time somebody called me an Anglo-Saxon bastard. Well I stop by the bar, finish off the booze and pick my rifle up.... Took longer than that but I'm still in character. The Inspector leaves the RUCs with the instructions to shut up and he'll explain it later.

Ringo and the Afrikaner ask me as I walk toward the car how I did it. Classic Lee Marvin yet again; You just have to know how to talk to them...Coppers, they're the same the world over, ask too many questions.

Eventually, the next day, after spending the night in the car...We find the 'Bag Man' two towns over. The RUCs cornered him in a flat, the inside of which looked like my grandmother's basement. I stood on the outside pulling perimeter guard, watching roof tops and small gaggles of children scurry about a few blocks away. I had just turned my head away and looked down the empty crusty street when the Afrikaner yells 'Sniper!' and I return with a 'I got it'. After dropping the sights on this clown, I ask if anyone has a pair of binoculars.

Nobody knew what that was. So, I said field glasses... 'Oh' says Ringo, 'The stereoscope!' (that's what he said...Americans have a different definition for stereoscope by the way) and then I explained to the Afrikaner who is now standing next to me I think that bozo has a stage prop. Well, Ringo says as he uses the binoculars, 'I think that's a plywood cut out...' I look and yeah, it was a cardboard and plywood cutout of an Ak-47. Bozo can't be more than fifteen years old. When the RUCs ask me how I figured it out, my reply, I've seen real AK's before and if this clown is serious, we'd have figured it out when he started shooting from a window...Instead of silhouetting himself on a roof. The reason why we were all standing around looking stupid is rumor had it, the Bag Man, armed himself with a .38 and everyone wanted to avoid a shooting incident. Eventually the RUCs hustled him as he, they, disappear into the ether of history.

******

"Yeah that's him," I told Bonnie as she held up a black and white picture of the Afrikaner. "No, I didn't say anything other than vague small talk. He kept trying to bring up a lucrative business deal between me and him because of other people he moonlighted with..."

"And you didn't take it?" she asked, one eyebrow rising.

"No, you pay me well enough," I shrug. Her Lieutenant suppresses a smirk. Later I learn on the grapevine he was doing business with the Russians.

"Is this the Bag Man?" she asked, holding up a picture. It's a black and white glossy, taken in Ulster as the RUCs hustled him into a waiting vehicle. They had pictures of the tour group doing the tour group thing. She asked if I could pick the Bag Man out of a line up.

I said yes, she then leaves and comes back with several mugshots and yeah, the Bag Man was in there. After an hour, what I did learn is the bozo on the roof was a distraction for the photo-ops team. Slick.

I was bait for something larger.

Who was the Bag Man? I don't know. Why was it important? I don't know. I assume the drunk in the bar is still in jail...I don't know. Everything about this is one big loose end that just dangles there in this nether world of spooksville. Bonnie retired from the Army years after I left, she never went above Captain/03. What happened is I lived to get old.

















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