Every time it looks like things are going smooth something throws a wrench into the works. Or a damn road block. Yesterday morning as we cruised into St. James on I-44 a friggin tank rolled out onto the highway from under the Jefferson Street overpass. The turret pivoted around to point that big cannon directly at the lead vehicle with just happened to be me at the time. Mike was out back and catching up after ramming a Lexus off the road.
It was a World War II Sherman tank. An antique by any standard. I very nice restoration or preservation, but an antique nonetheless. But since none of us were driving tanks or any kind of armoured vehicles for that matter, it was more than a match for us.
A voice came over a large PA speaker mounted on the front ordering us to cut the motors and exit the vehicles. A warning shot knocked one of the air conditioners off the Uni. I hit the floor. Dee was screaming and crying and I ordered her into the back. Emily ducked under the table in back.
Not seeing much of a choice otherwise I cut the motor. Sitting there under the overpass, I did not even have the option of turning around and he could easily fire another shot from that cannon before I could get turned around. Dee poked her head out of the bathroom and I gestured her back in. She whistled for Emily and she quickly squeezed through the narrow bathroom door.
Shaking, I opened the door and stepped outside. I immediately wished I had taken the time to pull a jacket on. It was a cold damp morning. My cane felt somewhat comforting in my hand.
I looked back and could see the others stepping out of their vehicles. A hatch popped open on the tank and a man climbed out in military camouflage. He was carrying an M-16 at the ready. As he approached our convoy I headed out to meet him with the intent to negotiate passage. Instead the man screamed at me to get down. I hesitated but that only infuriated him more. When he was close enough he rammed the butt of the gun into my belly and kicked me in my bad leg. I went down hard. He kicked me a couple of more times. I could only lay there for a few moments catching my breath.
He closed the distance to the Uni and ordered the others away from the vehicles and down on the ground. He fired off a few more warning shots to get them to comply.
When they were down he opened the door to the Uni to check it out. A gunshot rang out and he staggered back. I pulled myself to my feet using my cane. He was shot but not down. He turned and ran towards me. Right into the steel head of my cane. I've never bothered to weigh it, but its a 2 5/16 steel quick change U-Haul tow ball grafted onto the handle of a sledgehammer. I think I mentioned it before. I was able to get just enough of a swing on it. The ball landed with a satisfying crunch dead on the bastard's nose. He went down like a sack of potatoes.
That was when I heard screaming behind me. I guess I had just assumed there was only one person in the tank. The cannon apparently took two people to man it or maybe it just took too long to load. But the fifty caliber machine gun on top was well within his ability to operate. And he did. I'm afraid the Uni took the brunt of it. I was so scared that Dee was going to get hit.
Suddenly a small object shot past me heading for the tank. It was a radio control car. A little 4x4 really. It was moving fast and was too small for him to aim at. It lodged under the tank. The hatch popped open again and out flew another cammo wearing son of a bitch. He was able to run off a short distance before the explosive Billy had packed the little RC 4x4 with blew. It was not a big fireball, but it was enough to pop the hatches and blow the motor. The tank was dead. But that still left the second man to deal with. I had already hit the ground when I saw the RC heading under the tank. I rolled over to try to get the first man's M-16 but needn't have bothered. By this time Emily was out and after him. She caught him quickly. Dee was heading after her and I scooped her up so she would not see Emily "playing" with the bad man.
I was so happy to see her alive I was almost crying.
It shortly became apparent that there were no other threats to deal with and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. Of course that was when the explosion rocked our little convoy. We all kissed the pavement and were looking around for more tanks. But of course there weren't any. It was just the one thing I had feared since Billy joined our group. That old Divco van loaded with explosives. The rolling Russian roulette game finally spun up to the loaded chamber. Fortunately as a matter of policy it was at the tail end of our convoy.
Mike arrived at that time and barely avoided driving into the fireball and by this time Kyle was circling overhead in a panic. On one low pass I waved him an all clear sign and jumped back into the Uni to radio him. But of course radio equipment was shot up. The windshield was gone too. I cussed for a good five minutes. Dammit I liked the Uni! Of all the vehicles I have had since the disappearance, it was my favorite. But it is not drivable. As well as the windshield being shot up, the radiator has three fist size holes in it, the ECM is shot and the water pump is cracked. It could be fixed if we wanted to spend a couple of days working on it, but in fairness to the others I will have to abandon it.
One of the others radioed Kyle and let him know that everyone, including his wife and daughter, was ok.
Kyle set down in a little man made lake about four miles back and Mike fetched him.
We are not without injuries. I have a cracked rib (again), cuts and bruises and my knee is fucked up. Katherine is not optimistic about it healing right, so now I will probably be using this cane for quite a while longer than I thought. Billy has a few second degree burns from the explosion of his van and Dee has a cut on her cheek and a black eye from the kickback from firing my .357 without really knowing what she was doing.
Pastor Tom and Jewels took the remains of Emily's chew toy, and the surviving attacker away. they came back alone. Jewels looked somber and Tom spent an hour or two alone in prayer.
This has not been a good day.
© 2009 R. Keith McBride