Ranch Dressing – 9

Boone’s watched the red Jeep drive slowly to the margin of the playa where the sage grew in dry clumps against the low hillside. The Jeep stopped below him about quarter mile away. He watched Steve get out on the far side of the vehicle. Boone ducked down behind the duffle. He knew Steve would search for him with a spotting scope. It wouldn’t take him long to spot his trail leading to the rock notch and set up for a long range shot. The air was calm and warm. It was a relatively easy shot. They had often hit targets a half a mile away and once they killed an Taliban leader while he sat low against a wall drinking tea at slightly under a mile. A shot like that was a work of art. There was three feet of arc at that distance, plus the wind correction, and the target needed to be still for 3-4 seconds. This shot was like a day at the office.

There was only one way he could think of to get out of this cluster fuck and the chances of pulling it off weren’t great. Boone unzipped his duffle and looked frantically for a bottle of Gatorade he had picked up at a 7-11 in Elko, hoping he hadn’t left it in the truck. There it was. Unopened. Red Gatorade too. A tiny bit of fool’s luck, he thought. He opened it, took one long drink and placed the bottle in the center inside the duffle, cap off, and packed his clothes around it. Then he reached over and quickly brushed some of the sand off the outside of the duffle to make it a bit more visible. He turned and crawled back from the entrance of the rock notch looking for a back door from the death hole. The only exit was over a car sized boulder. At least it was out of direct sight of the Jeep. Boone’s vision narrowed to a tunnel and his ears buzzed as he struggled to hoist himself up and over the boulder to a slabby shelf above and behind the notch.

He lay down–heart pounding almost outside his chest. He steadied his breathing and pulled himself on his elbows, Ruger in his right hand, to where he could peer around the edge of the boulder.

He saw the muzzle flash from beneath the Jeep at almost the same time his duffle and the rock below him exploded in a shower of rock chips, dust and Gatorade. Two seconds later a second round ricocheted around the small stone canyon beneath him looking for flesh to tear into. Steve had put that round high into the side wall of the notch looking for the ricochet. The charry acrid smell of shattered rock floated up into Boone’s nostrils.

Nice shooting, asshole. It’s still your move, but I just got my queen back.

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