The Carnage Entrée
Thomas Calabrese …It was a clear and warm night in Oceanside, California on July 9, 2017 which was a nice change from the overcast weather that had encompassed the area for the last week. The neighborhood watch team of Richie Myerson and Ron Pickering had just turned off Via Rancho Avenue on to the cul de sac of Vista Del Blanco.
“It’s zero four hundred hours,” Richie said as he glanced at his watch.
“Mark down another boring four hour shift,” Ron yawned.
“Let’s head back to the house,” Richie suggested.
Counter Terrorism Strike Force Kilo Nine Bravo has been keeping a residence on Vista Del Rio under constant surveillance, since communications were intercepted and tracked to a location in Oceanside by NSA operatives, that a terrorist attack was eminent in San Diego’s North County. Several French men of Algerian descent had moved into a home in the Rancho Del Oro area and the Kilo Nine Bravo team rented one right down the street. In order to minimize suspicion, a flyer was passed out for residents to join a neighborhood watch. Richie and Ron were given the 2400 to 0400 shift while pretending to be concerned residents. There had been no suspicious activity over the last three weeks except for some juveniles writing graffiti on a wall and the team had been notified by Central Command, that unless something happened in the next fourteen days, they would be reassigned.
A car screeched around the corner, smashed into the curb, went up on two wheels then hit a tree on the other side and blew out three tires. The sirens were blaring as two police cars raced into the area and skidded to a stop. The three occupants of the car jumped out and began firing at the police officers.
Richie and Ron were only a hundred yards away and the wise thing would have been for them to retreat and maintain their cover, especially when they saw the four individuals from the house that was under surveillance come out into the front yard to see what the commotion was.
“How do you want to handle this?” Richie asked.
“Stay out of sight,” Ron quickly replied, “the cops can handle this.”
The situation quickly changed when one of the police officers was wounded in the leg and the other one was pinned down by automatic fire from the three assailants.
Richie commented, “I’ll get the cop, you take the perps, unless of course you want to do it the other way around?”
“That’s fine, you‘re more of the nurturing type anyway.” Ron replied.
Richie grimaced at the description, took a deep breath and ran off at a full sprint while Ron provided cover fire. Richie slid across the asphalt when he got close to the wounded officer, while scrapping the flesh off both forearms. He immediately pulled the belt off the wounded officer’s uniform and tied a tourniquet around his upper thigh then gave Ron a thumbs up signal that he had done his part.
Ron popped in a fully loaded magazine into his handgun and went into evasive maneuvers as he ran toward the four men who had taken cover behind their disabled vehicle. Bullets were hitting all around Ron as he did a front flip over the hood of the car while firing. He hit the three men before he landed on his feet.
The terrorists in the house got spooked by the commotion on the street and decided to expedite their attack. They quickly loaded their bomb making material and weapons into a Cadillac Escalade and got in. When the garage door opened, Ron was standing in the middle of the driveway. The driver hesitated for a second then accelerated, but what he did not see, however was Richie standing off to the side with his weapon at the ready, he fired three times and all the bullets found their target in the driver’s head. The van raced across the street and crashed into a fire hydrant. Water shot seventy five feet into the air as the other three terrorists struggled to escape through the torrents of cascading water. Richie shot two of the terrorists, one in the foot and the other in the calf to immobilize them. Ron ran over and handcuffed the other man who had been washed down the gutter and was pushed against the storm drain’s metal grate. The water pummeled him as he lied on the asphalt, gasping for air.
Twenty minutes later, the area was filled with police cars, paramedics and Homeland Security personnel. Soon afterward, Regional Director Wayne Terwilliger arrived with his entourage and immediately unleashed into a verbal tirade against Ron and Richie, “You were given strict orders, surveillance only! Even for a couple “fly by the seat of your pants” morons like yourselves, that should not have been that difficult to comprehend and comply with.”
Richie looked at Ron and both men did an immediate about face, Wayne Terwilliger yelled at them, “Where the hell are you going? I’m not finished!”
Richie turned around and smiled, “Even a “stuck in a rut” bureaucrat should be able to comprehend that when people are walking away, that means they’re leaving.”
Ron nudged Richie, “I sure hope that you thought about what our next job is going to be.”
“You can’t expect me to do everything.”
Both men disappeared into the hustle and bustle of the situation.
Ron and Richie entered through the front gate of Camp Pendleton at zero nine hundred hours and drove to Marine Corps Installations West Headquarters. They were escorted to a secure conference room and had only been in there a minute when retired Four Star Marine Corps General Wayne Kelsey and the current Director of National Security entered. Ron and Richie started to stand up, “At ease gentleman, I had the chance to read Terwilliger’s report. Care to give me your version?” Richie started to speak, but Director Kelsey quickly interrupted, “Never mind, I already know how things went down. I’ve already interviewed the police officers.”
“So, are you going to fire us or let us resign in disgrace?” Ron asked.
“Neither, Terwilliger can be a little inflexible,” Director Kelsey volunteered.
“That’s an understatement, he’s cinched tighter than a girdle on a Clydesdale,” Richie snapped back.
“He’s more nervous than a North Korean General at a change of command ceremony,” Ron added.
“You’re not telling me anything that I don’t already know, but Terwilliger rates up there with the creature from the black lagoon when it comes to navigating through the Washington swamp, but he’s as useless as a concrete parachute in a skydiving competition when it comes to fieldwork.”
“So where does that leave us?” Ron asked.
“I need men like you, I can’t do this job effectively without you,” Director Kelsey answered.
“No offense sir, but while we speak several languages, political doublespeak isn’t one of them,” Richie said.
“The bad news is that I’m putting you on modified assignment. The good news is that you are being sent to the French Riviera for a counter terrorism conference in France. My official statement is that this is a disciplinary action, but between you and me, it is a reward for a job well done. Enjoy yourselves.”
Richie and Ron kept a low profile for the next few days until it was time for them to leave for Europe. The conference was being held at the Centre Universitaire Mediterraneen in Nice and could best be defined as Counter Terrorism 101. All of the information that was being shared by intelligence officials was basically a rehashing of techniques and procedures that Ron and Richie were already extremely proficient at; surveillance, interrogation, cyber hacking and defusing explosive devices. The two men were staying at a suite at the La Maison du Pecheur near the beach and having a good time.
“What do you feel like eating tonight?” Richie asked.
“Italian food sounds good…remember when we were here a couple years ago, what was the name of that place we went to? I think it began with the letter A.”
“Acchiardo, it is on Rue Droite,” Richie answered.
“That’s the place,’ Ron smiled.
“It’s a pretty popular place, let me call Claude at GIGN (Group d’intervention de la Gendarmerie nationale) and see if he can get us a table,” Richie said.
Claude Pare’was a former French Legionnaire and had worked with Ron and Richie on a joint operation in the country of Mali and was now in charge of a team that had the same duties in France and its territories as Kilo Nine Bravo had in America.
Their table was waiting when they arrived and both men were enjoying their dinner which consisted of; sautéed calamari, stuffed green peppers, pasta with pesto sauce, smoked tuna and swordfish.
“You can say a lot of things about the French, but you can’t say that they don’t appreciate good food,” Ron commented as he savored his meal.
“I never say anything bad about anybody, I’m too politically correct for that type of behavior,” Richie responded.
“Yeah right, your call sign when you were a sniper in the Marine Corps was Mister Sensitive Shooter.”
It was a festive evening as tourists and locals casually strolled down the streets. Soft music could be heard from various restaurants drifting on the gentle breeze. Suddenly screams of terror filled the night air and when Richie and Ron looked up, they saw a white panel van careening down the sidewalk as men, women and children were thrown about by the impact of the vehicle. The van eventually crashed into a light post and five terrorists jumped out with long knives in their hands, slashing and stabbing at everyone within arm’s reach.
The men ran into Acchiardo, yelling pledges of allegiance to their demented and evil cause. Ron charged at the first terrorist, diverted the knife attack with a roundhouse kick then snapped the attacker’s back over his knee, killing him instantly. Richie intervened as another terrorist was ready to stab an elderly woman and blocked the knife thrust with his right forearm. The blade put a deep gash in Richie’s arm, but he ignored his injury and immediately disarmed the terrorist, took the knife and stuck it into the man’s heart. Richie’s arm was bleeding badly so Ron quickly reacted, tore a linen tablecloth, took a long strip of it and tied a makeshift bandage around Richie’s wound, “You must be slowing down in your old age.”
“I’m a little out of practice, fighting on a full stomach,” Richie grimaced.
The patrons of the restaurant were panic-stricken and ran for safety as Ron and Richie calmly evaluated the remaining threat. Ron picked up a small table and charged at the two remaining terrorists and all three men crashed through the front window, the glass shattering into a thousand pieces. Ron held the table firm against the men’s chest as they struggled to free themselves while yelling obscenities in Arabic. Richie casually came over, bent down and shot both men through the forehead.
Ron smiled, “At least you couldn’t miss at this range.”
“You couldn’t just say, thank you very much…. but you’re always looking at the canteen as being half full.”
Both men looked at each other, then diverted their attention to the crashed van, as sirens could be heard approaching. Without saying a word, both men raced to the vehicle and when they opened the back doors, they saw that it was filled with gasoline cans, explosives and a detonating device.
Ron looked at the wiring on the detonator, “I keep forgetting…is it the green or red wire that I’m supposed to cut first?”
Richie snarled, “It’s definitely the yellow one…I think.”
The timer display was at; 30 then 29…28…27.
“I guess we’ll know very soon which one of us is right,” Ron pulled out a small knife and prepared to cut a wire, “which one… that will be the final Jeopardy question of the day.”
“I was hoping that when my life flashed before my eyes, that the bad parts would get edited out,” Richie sighed.
Three days later, Director Kelsey was sitting at his desk in the Pentagon, while talking on the phone, “Yes sir, I totally agree. I’ll make sure that happens, Mister President.”
When Director Kelsey hung up, he turned to Ron and Richie who were sitting across from him, “The President sends his best regards. I’ve eaten at Acchiardo’s, I love their vegetable lasagna, what did you guys order?”
Ron looked at Richie then smiled, “we had the Carnage Entrée.”