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Our Man Countryman | The Nation

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Our Man Countryman

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Dieter Countryman would have laughed again, except when he did it the first time, part of his broken ribs further penetrated his stomach wall. So he lay still and took an assessment. Certainly it was clear he was fucked, but his training dictated he calculate how fucked he was. There was some blurriness and he sure as hell felt dizzy, but conversely he had absolute clarity as to what happened prior to his current state. So, hey, the good news was he didn't seem to have a concussion.

About the Author

Gary Phillips
Gary Phillips's short stories have appeared, most recently, in Los Angeles Noir (Akashic) and in Full House (G.P....

Also by the Author

In this last episode we mostly wrap things up, but leave a few strange matters for earthly or cosmic interpretation.

Breakfast turns violent, more is revealed, and while a decent president gets elected, there's no rest for Congresswoman Kang.

Nonetheless, he was upside down in his prized limited edition Bullit Mustang fastback. A car that was now in as shitty a condition as its driver, he lamented. He shifted to relieve the pressure of the collapsed steering wheel against his lower abdomen. By some quirk when he'd lost control of the car, the steering wheel had bent to where it was now rather than impaling his chest. Small miracles. Shit. The machine had blown through the guardrail and down the slope of the roadway off of Highway 86. This was after he and Cenine had left the cabin and the dead body of Riggs.

Countryman's attention began to wander, and he suddenly and fondly recalled how the youngish Mrs. Gilmore had been turned on from their recent escapades.

"Nice work," she'd whispered, leaning over and letting her tongue flick the inside and outside of his ear. She matched that with a hand rubbing his crotch.

"Time for that later," he'd said huskily, reciprocating with his hand along her upper thigh.

"Okay, baby," she'd said, taking a nibble on his earlobe before righting herself in her seat.

But it wasn't his being sexually excited that made Countryman lose control of the car. It was the high-powered round from the hunting rifle through the windshield and into the left quadrant of his chest that caught him by surprise.

"Deiter, watch it," Cenine Gilmore shouted, as the tall figure poked out from between a cropping of rocks on the side of the road to take the shot at their car.

"Motherfuck," Countryman swore while the high-velocity round blew out the windshield, and he tried to keep the car on track in the middle of the night.

"I've got it," the younger woman blared, grabbing the steering wheel, while simultaneously Countryman's arm spasmed, an involuntary reaction to exorcising his wound, and there went the car and their bodies hurtling over the side. But how the hell did Cenine get out and not him, the black-ops pro considered. Grimacing, he turned his body slightly to see the passenger door wide open, hanging wrong on its hinges. If the door had popped open during the crash, why hadn't his lover helped him? Or had she been catapulted out of her seat and bashed her head on a tree?

He couldn't answer that until he got himself free. Pushing against the broken steering wheel only brought tears to his eyes and a shortness of breath. He was too busted up to work loose, and it was still too dark for the Mustang to be seen from up above. Then he heard footsteps in the dry grass.

Countryman wrenched his body, opening his mouth wide but not screaming as he ground broken bones against damaged internal organs to get his arm loose. His sweaty face was contorted as he groped for the glovebox in the gloom. The footsteps had stopped--the rifleman was cautious. But Countryman knew sure as God made little green badger turds that the efficient son of a bitch wasn't going to go away. He'd finish the job, just as Countryman would if the situation was reversed. Just like he'd done on Riggs.

Come on, he admonished himself, where was that gun? Every movement caused pain and throbbing but he wasn't going to stop now. Blood and gore oozed from him and his head got light and he wasn't far from passing out. Come on...

An elated Countryman retrieved his pistol, adrenaline surging through him like charged particles even as he could feel his gunshot wound reopen and leaking. Sure, he was going to hell if there was one, but damned if he wasn't taking this bastard with him. Lying there, upside down, a smashed car his cocoon, Countryman turned his senses outward, focusing with whatever reserves he had left to, if not clearly hear his attacker, at least perceive him out there, near and deadly.

It occurred to him he'd seen this man before. That brief glimpse he had of him stepping out on the roadway and shooting into his car was acid-etched onto his brain. He had a partner he was almost always with, a short, square-shouldered individual with a face like the back end of a wrecked DeSoto. He chuckled at his grandpa's expression despite his dire situation. If you couldn't see the humor in being fucked like this, there was no sense being in this line of work.

There was movement in the grass. Countryman didn't hear it but knew it. He'd seen the tall one and the short one once before, must be two years ago, right after Gilmore got the diagnosis. Back then Countryman was the loyal soldier, only giving the young wife the casual nod but not the speculation of what if like he would with any good-looking woman. That is until----

"Hey, Deiter," the unseen tall man said. "How you feeling? Little rundown?" He guffawed.

Keep laughing, asshole. Countryman was silent, consciousness beginning to ebb from the edges of his brain. Fuck that. Hold on. You'll get your chance. You always do.

Two shots echoed and sunk somewhere into the ruined upholstery near Countryman's head. He must be slightly elevated, he concluded, standing on an outcropping to give him the kill angle. He would be using a night scope but the car was bent and twisted such that he must not have a clear look on Countryman. But he had to have been watching the car as it went over the side and seen that Countryman hadn't gotten out. Had he seen Cenine being thrown clear and put one through her head?

Just get close enough so I can use this, Countryman wished, pointing the gun out of what remained of the window opening

"Check it out, Dieter," the man shouted, "it's grilling time." With that he tossed a lit Molotov cocktail onto the exposed underside of the car's gas tank.

Panicked, Countryman fired into the dark, and his limited edition Bullit Mustang blazed light and heat into the night.

To Be Continued...

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