18 Kaneohe Bay Hawaii - Monday

Captured: Dreaming of home

© Copyright 2008 – 2009

Written by Banzai Ben

ben@banzaiben.com

 

Chapter 18 – Sniper Competition Monday 17 September 2007

 

Khudabah, Pakistan – Morning of day nineteen

 

With the new, cleaner mattress, I slept much better last night, but woke up with a headache and stiff muscles and joints. It helps to be away from the rats, but I still suffered some “phantom” rat bites on my feet that woke me up kicking a few times.

 

Today is much the same as yesterday; the guards take me back to my cell and tie me up to my chair, leaving my left arm untied. Zarika brings our breakfast. I'm getting pretty good at eating with my left hand.

 

We talk some more about life in America. Right before she leaves, she confides that she is working on a plan for us to escape, and to make sure I‘m ready when the time comes. Maybe with her help, there’s hope of getting out of this hellhole.

 

Once again, I’m left alone again with Mustif, and the first thing he does is inject me with the drug. My headache and stiffness gradually disappear, and I’m horrified to recognize that I'm starting to get hooked on the crap he's giving me.

 

Mustif notices, too. "Ah, you're starting to like my little drug. Good; this will help us to become very good friends. Now tell me all about the American forces."

 

I feed him a bunch of bullshit. He’s a bigger fool than he looks, if he thinks I’ll ever tell him anything.

 

Towards evening, Zarika comes in with our dinner. Mustif grabs her, shoves his hand up under her dress and starts playing with her, staring at me the whole time. We both start yelling and fighting, her to escape from Mustif, and me to get loose from my bonds.

 

Finally, Mustif turns her loose and throws her to the floor. He sticks his hand in front of my face. It’s quite wet.

 

"Look, Barack's little whore is in love with you. She wants you to fuck her." Then he leaves laughing.

 

Zarika scrambles to her feet, refusing to look at me, and runs out of the room crying. Shame at my helplessness rises to rage. That motherfucker is dead. He just doesn’t know it yet.

 

Awhile later, the guards come in and eat my food. Then they move me up to my bed. It's not the first time that I've gone to bed hungry, and it won’t keep me from thinking about home.

 

 

Kaneohe Bay Hawaii – Monday Day Seventeen

 

I woke up even earlier than normal this morning; I had my mind on the sniper competition.

With a little care, I was able to slip out of bed without waking up Jens, went to the kitchen and started the coffee.

 

It wasn't that I was nervous; I was quite sure with Jens help that we would win. I just wanted to prepare myself mentally for the day. I couldn't afford to be distracted or to make a mistake, and I was still bothered by all the fame that had fallen on us just for doing what we normally do. Ever since I’d met Jens, my life had been some sort of fairy tale. With the contest coming up today, I needed to push all of that out of my thoughts.

 

The coffee pot started making the I'm-all-done noise, so I poured a cup and went out onto the patio to watch the sun rise. It looked like it was going to be a beautiful day – clear skies without much wind would make a great day for shooting.

 

I was looking forward to meeting the other snipers this morning. Some were old friends, and others I had never heard of. I was sure that Jens had studied all of them and could tell me all their weaknesses. That was our advantage.

 

Jens slipped up behind me with a cup of coffee, ducked under my arm, and wrapped her arm around my waist. "Hey, the bed got cold and woke me up. Thanks for making the coffee."

 

I gave her a good morning squeeze. "Just one cup today, my love; we don't need to be jittery for shooting this afternoon," I reminded her.

 

She swung around in front of me and gave me a kiss with a little bit of tongue. "Mmmm, maybe I'll drink my coffee this way."

 

I gave her my no-nonsense look, and she smiled. "Yes, my love, I know we have to be serious today. I just need a little lovin’ from you first thing in the morning. You can bet that we'll both be very professional today."

 

I held her close and gave her some “lovin'” because I needed it too.

 

After about fifteen minutes, we were both satisfied, and walked back into the kitchen holding hands. We split breakfast duty that morning. I took care of the toast, and Jens made the oatmeal.

 

Jens had her back to me, and I couldn’t resist reaching over and swatting her hard on the butt.

 

She jumped and squealed, "Hey, what's that for?"

 

"It was a target of opportunity," I answered.

 

"Well, that hurt. I think I'm bruised. You need to kiss it and make it better," Jens said, pulling down her pajama bottoms and shaking her butt at me.

 

I turned several shades of red and she said, "You're so–,” and laughed when I finished:

 

“–Cute when I blush. I know, I know."

 

She went back to making the oatmeal, and I slipped over, knelt down, and kissed her on her butt where I had spanked her.

 

She spun around and looked at me.

 

"There, it's all better now’” I said. “Anything else you'd like for me to kiss while I'm down here?"

 

"Uhh, uhh, uhh . . ." Jens was so shocked she couldn't say anything, and then she started blushing.

 

"You're even cuter when you blush." I laughed, and stood up. I pulled her close to me and gave her a hug and a kiss. "I guess I win this time."

 

"Just remember, the war isn't over,." Jens answered. We heard the distinct blub, blub of oatmeal bubbling. "Hey, I better take care of the oatmeal or it'll burn."

 

While she did that, I finished the toast. We sat at the table and Jens bowed her head to pray, but I still didn't feel comfortable doing that.

 

Halfway through breakfast Jens smiled at me and announced, "You're going to win the shooting part of the sniper competition today."

 

I corrected her. "We're going to win first and second in the shooting part of the sniper competition today. I think I forgot to tell you that I signed us up as two teams – the Bravo Juliet team where I'm the sniper and you're the spotter, and the Juliet Bravo team where you're the sniper and I'm the spotter."

 

Jens dropped her spoon in the bowl and oatmeal splattered all over the table. She jumped up and came to my side of the table and slid into my lap.

 

"You're the best man in the world. You treat me so well. I really wanted to compete, but I was afraid it would keep you from winning."

 

"Don't worry; I've got it all figured out. We’ll each take turns," I answered.

 

Jens gave me a big kiss. "Thank you my Ben, I love you so much. I promise you that I will do my best and make you proud of me."

 

"I'm always proud of you," I answered. "Now, let's get up and get going; we need to meet the rest of the snipers."

 

Jens jumped up and held out her hands to help me up. I grabbed the dishes, rinsed them, and put them in the dishwasher. Jens headed off to her bathroom, and I went to mine thirty minutes later. We both entered the living room wearing our service uniforms. It’s not one of my favorite Marine uniforms, but Jens could make a burlap sack look nice.

 

The doorbell announced the arrival of Dad and Mom. I answered the door, and they gave us big hugs.

 

Mom beamed. "Good morning. How’s the 'All American Couple' doing this morning?"

 

Jens and I blushed; we weren't used to the title yet. Mom looked at Dad. "Oh, they're so cute when they blush." Natually, we blushed even more.

 

I didn't know what to say, but Jens bailed me out. "So, Mother, did you come over here to see us or harass us?"

 

"Both. I couldn't wait to see my little girl and son-in-law-to-be," she answered.

 

I excused myself, went to the kitchen, and brought them each a cup of coffee. "Thanks son," Dad said. "Are you both ready for today?"

 

"Yes, Sir. We’re going to kick butts and take names," I answered. "I promise you that we will come in first and second today in the shooting competition."

 

"That's the attitude that I like to hear," Dad replied as he slapped me on the back. "Are you two ready for all the press today? They're waiting at the reception hall and will follow you to the shooting range."

 

“Shit,” I thought, “I was hoping that they would leave us alone.”

 

I realized that wasn't going to happen, and I was starting to get pissed off. Then I remembered what Dad told me last night, and I calmed down.

 

"Sir, it would be nice if they could leave us alone, but I realize for now that isn't going to happen. So we'll make the best of the situation and we'll give them the best damned show they've ever seen."

 

Jens hugged me tight and gave me a kiss on the cheek, "Wow. I don't know what's come over you, but whatever it is, I like it."

 

"Dad told me how expensive it is to keep you in pantyhose and feminine products, so I figured I needed to make as much money from our newfound fame as possible," I joked, and planted a kiss on her nose.

 

Jens started getting all flustered until she heard Dad start laughing. Then she figured it was a joke and started laughing too. "Wow, you really had me worried for a minute. I thought you were serious."

 

Little did she realize that I was serious about making as much money from all this as possible. I may have accepted that the press was going to invade our lives and steal our privacy as much as they could, but I’d also determined that they were going to pay through the nose for it.

 

We all discussed the upcoming day. Dad had some suggestions on how we handle ourselves, but I had a few secret surprises that were going to really blow their socks off. When it was time for us to go to the reception, Dad took his car and we took our Humvee, both of us with escorts.

 

The reception was being held at the base gymnasium. I looked at Jens as we drove up, "Well, this doesn't look as bad as yesterday. There doesn't seem to be as many fricken news crews."

 

"Don't worry, my love; I'll protect you from those news bitches," Jens answered, sliding her dress up to show me that she had a leg holster on with a Kimber in it.

 

The vision of Jens pulling a pistol on Ms. Morgan made me laugh. "I'm sure if you pull that on them, they will all piss themselves and faint," I chortled, causing us both to laugh, remembering the incident with Ms. Morgan.

 

Our laughter was cut short by the sight of the crowd inside. I had been wrong; most of the fricken news crews were inside. Damn.

 

When we walked in behind the general and his wife, a Marine band started playing the Marine hymn. Jens and I took our assigned seats and the general and his wife went up onto the stage. She took her seat, and he waited for the band to finish and then went to the podium and gave his welcome speech.

 

In the speech, he gave an overview of the whole competition. This was more for the sake of the press; all the participants already knew what was going on. Even during his speech, we had some news cameras watching us. It made me feel like I was a fish in a fishbowl.

 

After the speech, General Donaldson introduced each sniper team and had them come up to the front. Jens whispered details about each team to me as they were introduced. She had really done her homework.

 

They introduced a second Spetnaz team from Russia and Jens leaned over whispering to me, "I don't like this; I didn't know anything about them sending a second team."

 

We were introduced last, to the loudest cheers. All of the snipers had an hour to greet each other after the introductions. Unfortunately, the press demanded interviews during the introductions. We promised to save them fifteen minutes at the end to talk to them, and they sort of left us alone.

 

Aside from a female sniper from the Mossad, Jens was the only woman among the snipers. I made sure I held Jens’s hand while we were greeting the others; I wanted everyone to know that she was taken.

 

Jens amazed me by greeting most teams in their natural languages. I found myself wondering if there was anything my beautiful fiancée didn't know.

 

I did surprise her when we greeted the Russian teams. She knew I spoke some Russian, but I was actually able to carry on some short dialogues with them.

 

"When did you learn Russian?" She asked.

 

"I taught myself,” I replied. “I wanted to learn a language. It was going to be either Klingon or Russian, and Russian seemed more practical. Ya gavaru pa Russki chut chut, e panimau pa Russki ne ochen horasho." (I speak Russian a little bit and understand Russian well).

 

Jen replied, "Ya ochen lublu teba." (I love you very much.)

 

"Ya torza." I replied (I love you too.)

 

When we met the new Russian team, I didn't speak much Russian to them. After we walked away, Jens asked me, "So what was that about? You hardly spoke any Russian with them."

 

"I don't care for them; something doesn't feel right about them. I thought it would be better to keep my mouth shut and listen," I answered.

 

"I'll see what I can find out about them," Jens said, her eyes dark with worry.

 

We gave the press several great photo-ops without making any major blunders. Then we jumped back into the Humvee with our escort following us and headed back to the house to change and load up for the rifle shooting competition.

 

I rushed through changing and took out a couple of boxes that had been delivered from my old bedroom and put them in the back of the Humvee. Inside were my surprises for later that day. Then I grabbed both of the M107 Barretts and the 98 Bravo Barretts, my two favorite M1911s, and one more rifle that was a surprise. I finished loading right as Jens came out of our bedroom.

 

"Thanks for loading the Humvee. You must be in a hurry," Jens said, giving me a kiss.

 

"Well, I'm a little excited today, and I wanted to get to the range with plenty of time to set up," I replied. We walked out to the Humvee, I opened the door for Jens and we were off to the range.

 

Jens turned around and looked in the back of the Humvee, "Hey, what's all this crap doing in here? And what's in those two boxes?"

 

"It's a surprise for you later. Don’t open them," I answered. I had planned this surprise for almost a week. I wanted to distract Jens from the shooting competition so that she wouldn't be too tense, and it boy, did it work. She was bugging the hell out of me to know what the surprise was.

 

 

We were both surprised when we pulled into the shooting range and saw a tractor trailer with a picture of us walking out of the training area carrying the Barretts on our shoulders and the lettering 'Barrett Rifles – The Best Only Use the Best' under the picture.

 

I pulled the Humvee over next to it and saw Chris Barrett. He waved at us and came over to the Humvee and opened the door for Jens. I jumped out and went over to them.

 

"Good, I'm glad you two are early," Chris said. "We have the factory armorers and a full machine shop here to support you in this competition. We will take care of everything for you. All you two need to do is shoot. Where are your rifles?"

 

I looked at Jens. We were both dumbfounded. "I don't understand why you would do this for us," I said.

 

Chris smiled and pointed to the picture. "I guess you didn't know, we signed an agreement with your advertising firm. You two are now the first members of the Barrett factory team and are paid Barrett consultants. Besides, since your use of the Barretts in the exercise, we can't build them fast enough to keep up with the demand. We've had to go to three shifts at the factory and are looking at expanding. Everyone wants a Barrett."

 

Jens and I grabbed the Barretts out of the back of the Humvee and took them into the back of the semi trailer. I'm sure our jaws must have hit the floor when we saw what was inside. As complete an armorer’s machine shop as I have ever seen was laid out in the trailer, and I have seen many.

 

We were met by Frank and Jon, our personal armorers. They took the Barretts over to their worktables and started to work on them while Chris showed us around the rest of the trailer; it had lathes, milling machines, hydraulic presses, ultrasonic parts washers, ovens, and a full reloading area. Shit, it even had a special sighting machine to sight in the Barretts.

 

I looked at Chris and said, "Wow. I'm impressed. This must have cost a fortune to build, and even more to bring to Hawaii."

 

He replied, "The Best only use the Best and only deserve the best. When you two are through winning the shooting competition today, I figure that Barrett will sell about fifty million dollars’- worth of rifles to the competing teams. Once they get a look at the 98 Bravo and what it can do –  especially with the special loads we have for you two – they will be begging us to buy one."

 

"Special loads?" I asked.

 

"You bet." Chris grinned. "It's sort of a secret, but let's just say that neither of you will need your M107s today. We have developed a bullet and a load that will let you shoot the 98 Bravo accurately to at least two thousand meters. We also have a new rifle for you to try. It’s secret, and we want you to try it at the end of the competition."

 

I asked Chris, "Do you mind if I store a couple of boxes in here? I don't want to leave them in the back of the Humvee. Also, I was wondering if I could use your ultrasonic parts washer."

 

"Sure, make yourselves at home. We even have an area where you can relax, and a fridge full of food and drinks," Chris replied.

 

I brought in the boxes and stowed them in the corner. Jens was still bugging me about getting to take a look inside, but I stood firm. Then I brought in one huge gun case, which got the attention of Frank and Jon. I opened it up and pulled out my 1874 Shiloh Sharps black powder rifle in 45-1201.

 

Frank whistled, "Wow, that's one beautiful rifle. Would you mind if I held it?"

 

I opened the breech to show it was unloaded and handed it to him. He let out a low whistle. "I always wanted to see one of these, this is a Quigley2 Special isn't it?"

 

"It's a bit more," I said, "The Quigley was a 45-110, this is a 45-120. I was wondering if we could throw the barrel in the ultrasonic cleaner; I'd like to take this out and get in some shots before the competition."

 

Frank jumped right on it and had the barrel clean as a whistle and the Sharps reassembled in just a few minutes.

 

"Damn, you're good," I told Frank. Then Jens and I, Chris Frank and Jon headed out to the range to have some fun. Jens grabbed her spotting scope when we stopped by the Humvee to grab my cartridge belt and an ammo box for the Sharps.

 

We stopped by the RSO to get permission to fire the Sharps. He looked at it and chuckled. "You're not really going to shoot that today?"

 

I looked at him and replied, "I'll bet you a thousand dollars that I can shoot a bullet-sized group at five hundred meters."

 

He looked at me. "No way in hell I'm going to take that bet. I've already lost enough money to you. The only time you bet is when you're going to win."

 

I just smiled at him.

 

Jens was excited. "I can't wait to see you shoot the Sharps today. Ever since I saw it in your gun safe, I've wanted to see it fired, and maybe even shoot it."

 

"Of course you'll shoot it, my love; we're all going to shoot it," I answered, and then leaned over and whispered to her, "We're going to use this to intimidate our competition and to keep them from saying we're winning because we have the Barretts. Wait till we shoot a bullet-sized group at five hundred meters with this. They’re going to be crapping in their pants."

 

 

We walked down the firing line to our station, and I whistled the theme song from “Quigley Down Under.”  It was annoying, and had the effect I wanted. Namely, the other sniper teams were turning around to see what the hell was going on and were laughing and pointing at us as we walked by.

 

Jens said, "This is brilliant; they're thinking that we are fools for even bringing this out to the range."

 

Meanwhile the press had seen us headed towards our station. They were held behind a fence and couldn't get to us, but that didn’t stop them from clamoring for an interview.

 

I looked at Jens. "Shall we go over and talk to our press?"

 

Jens arched her brow. "Our press?"

 

"You bet. We own these bitches right now," I answered, and we went over to the fence. They had a bunch of questions about the Sharps, so I gave them the history of the it, and how kill shots had been made at a surveyed 1500yds.

 

I told them that this was just going to be for fun and to warm up for the real shooting later, and to make sure they had their cameras running because this old rifle was going to put out a bunch of smoke when we fired it.

 

At our station, Jens set up the spotting scope and I stood up beside the table. I said, "Please run a target out to five hundred meters, call the RSO and tell him this is my five-hundred-meter qualify round, and range me, my love."

 

"Aren't you going to sit down and use the bench?" she asked.

 

"Nope, this is the way they shot this in the old days, and this is the way I'm going to shoot it now," I replied.

 

She called the RSO and told him I was qualifying at 500m and said, "Range, five hundred meters; elevation, zero; wind,  two at one seven eight."

 

I raised the vernier tang sight and turned the screws until the windage and elevation were correct. slipping a round out of my cartridge belt, I opened the action and dropped the round into the chamber.

 

I closed the action, and looked over at Jens and smiled. "This is going to be so much fun."

 

Looking around, I saw that we had an audience. Most of the other sniper teams were behind me watching. I smiled to myself; just what I wanted. I raised the Sharps to my shoulder, cocked the hammer, set the first trigger, and tickled the second trigger.

 

The Sharps belched out a cloud of black powder smoke. I opened the action, threw in another cartridge, and did it again, repeating three more times for five shots in all. I lowered the rifle.

 

"Please bring in the target, my love."

 

She ran in the target and brought it to the table. I pulled a cartridge out of the belt and handed it to her. Jens measured it and started jumping up and down and yelled, "Five shots dead center in the target, all in the same hole. And from a standing position and with iron sights. That's my man!"

 

I raised my voice to be audible to everyone. "Well, let's run this target over to the RSO; this is my qualifying round for five hundred meters.,“It's a perfect score."

 

I'd thrown down the gauntlet, and the other sniper teams looked worried.

 

The RSO looked at it and certified it. “Damn. I'm glad I didn't bet you."

 

I grinned. "Jens is shooting next. She’s never even fired this rifle. How about we bet two thousand dollars that she can put all of them in the same hole at five hundred meters? "

 

He declined the offer again. Damn; I was hoping to make some more money today.

 

On our way back to the table I was whispering to Jens, "You'll find this is the easiest damned rifle to shoot at five hundred meters that you've ever fired. Now, don't argue with me. You’re going to fire this from the bench; this rifle is so damn long and heavy, unless you've practiced, you can't hit shit standing up.

 

“The hardest part is seeing the target without a scope at five hundred meters. I always set the range so that my aim point is the bottom of the bull’s-eye and adjust the range so it hits the center of it. Make sure that your sight picture is exactly the same on each shot, and the rifle will do the rest."

 

"I love and live to serve you, my dear. I'm just excited to shoot your big gun," Jens said, almost making me blush.

 

Jens sat at the table and I showed her how to operate the rifle, she took a few practice dry fires to get used to the trigger setup. We had the same crowd as before.

 

I walked back to them and said, "I've got a thousand-dollar bet that Jens will put all five rounds in the same hole. By the way, she has never fired this rifle." Five teams took the bet. I just smiled at them; this was going to be easy money.

 

I walked back to the table and sat down beside Jens. She looked nervous.

 

I reassured her. "Don't worry, my love; you'll be shocked how easy this is. Remember, I still have a surprise for you later." That was the right thing to say; it took Jens’s mind off the shooting.

 

I ran a target out to 500m and had Jens practice sighting on it until she was comfortable. Then I called the RSO and told him this was Jens’s qualifying round at 500m and I ranged her, "Range, five hundred meters; elevation, zero; wind, one at one eight seven." I helped her set up the vernier tang sight and watched as she fired her 5 shots.

 

She looked worried as she told me to run in the target. I did, she handed me a cartridge and I compared it.  I looked over at her and smiled.

 

she came over and started jumping around, “Five shots and one hole? Woo, hoo! A perfect score. I love you, my dear, and I love this rifle." She was jumping all over the place. The rest of the snipers looked pretty glum.

 

We left the rifle with Chris, Frank, and Jon so they could each take five shots. Then Frank was going to clean it all up, which made me happy; I love shooting the Sharps, but cleaning it up was hell and it needed to be done each time immediately after you were finished firing it, or the black powder would corrode the rifle.

 

Jens stopped by the reporters to show them her target as we were taking it to the RSO. She was as excited as I used to get on Christmas morning. The press had a bunch of questions and were ecstatic that we'd only fired ten rounds and were already in the lead. I told them that it wasn't over yet and other teams would also have some perfect scores.

 

"When we're done winning this competition today, I would like to invite all of you over to the pistol range for a little exhibition shooting." That got the press and Jens all fired up. They wanted to know more about it, but I told them they would have to wait.

 

Jens dropped of her target, and the RSO just shook his head. "How much money did you make today Banzai?"

 

Jens gushed, "My fiancé made five thousand dollars off my shooting."

 

When we got back to our table, the Barrett guys were just finishing up. They’d all hit the bull’s-eye, but no perfect scores.

 

Chris said, "That's the most fun I've had shooting in many years. I've got to get one of these for myself."

 

Frank agreed. "It hardly kicks at all."

 

Jon added, "It's accurate, but I'll be damned if I know how you two could see well enough without a scope to shoot a perfect score."

 

Jens and I both said together, “It a secret. If we told you, we'd have to kill you." We all laughed as we walked back to the Barrett semi, andFrank took care of cleaning up the Sharps while Jon was finishing up the 98 Bravos.

 

Chris said, "I think when we're done setting up the Bravos. You two should take them out and qualify at a thousand meters. Just to let you know, the rounds that your firing today are extreme wildcat rounds. The Bravo will easily handle the pressure, but instead of the barrels lasting four thousand to five thousand rounds, they'll barely last a thousand.

 

“After the competition today, we'll re-barrel your rifles. We've also developed a new muzzle brake that will reduce the felt recoil to less than a .300 Winchester magnum, but make sure when you're spotting you stay out of the way of the blast cone; it hurts like hell if you don't."

 

We both thanked him and grabbed a bottle of water, then sat down in the chairs to watch the guys work. Jon finished one Bravo, took it over to the side of the trailer, and bore sighted it. Then he put it in a box and actually fired a round. It shook the whole trailer. He pulled it out of the box, tweaked the scope some, put it back in the box, and fired it again.

 

I was getting pretty interested in this so I went over to talk to him. "Hey, Jon, don't tell me you’re able to sight in my rifle this way."

 

He grinned as he glanced up from his work. "Yeah, we sure can. Isn’t this cool? I need to fire about three more shots, and your rifle will be sighted in perfect for a thousand meters."

 

I was flabbergasted and asked a few more questions about how it worked. He showed me, and only had to fire two more shots until it was perfect. Jens came over and watched when he finished her rifle.

 

Jon handed both our rifles to us and said, "Give ‘em hell. These are spot-on at a thousand meters with the ammo that you have. I expect that you'll have two more perfect targets for us."

 

We all left the trailer and walked to the RSO stand to check in our Bravos. I whistled the Quigley tune again, and chuckled when the other snipers looked up. This time, they were pointing at our guns, but they weren't laughing.

 

The RSO looked at the rifles and said, "Damn, those are fine rifles. I wouldn't mind having one of those."

 

Chris Barrett said, "That can be arranged for about seven thousand dollars. The rifle is about forty-five hundred, and the scope is another twenty-five hundred."

 

The RSO whistled. "That's a bit rich for my blood."

 

I looked at the RSO and said, "I'll bet you this rifle that we both shoot less than one inch groups at a thousand meters. You lose, you pay me seven thousand dollars."

 

"No way in hell I'm going to take that bet," The RSO replied.

 

We laughed as we walked to our table. Chris held Jens’s rifle while we both sat down. I double-checked to make sure Jens would be out of the blast zone.

She was and I said, "Okay, my only love, time to do the voodoo I do so well. Please run a target out to a thousand meters, call the RSO, and range me."

 

"Mmm, you say the nicest things, my dear, "Jens said before she ran a target out to 1000m and then made the call to the RSO. "Range, one thousand meters; elevation, zero; wind, three at one eight five."

 

I tweaked the scope just a bit, acquired the target, and went through my normal routine five times. I could tell I was doing well, because Jens was looking through the spotting scope and was getting excited.

 

"Please bring in my target, my love." I asked.

 

It was just larger than one hole at 1000m,. The other snipers had been watching, and walked away in disgust; They now had something else to shoot for.

 

We took the target to the RSO and he certified it. "You know, I'll never bet against either one of you again." He shook his head.

 

It was Jens’s turn, so we walked back to the table. The press was trying to get our attention, but we needed to stay focused. While Jens continued on to the table, I went and told them we would be over after this round to talk to them. We swapped rifles with Chris, and Jens took the sniper position while I took the spotter position.

 

 "My sweetie, please run a target out to one thousand meters, call the RSO and tell him this is my qualifying round, and range me," she asked.

 

I did as ordered. Jens made the scope changes and got ready to fire. She nailed the bull’s-eye all five times. I brought in the target. Damn. Just a bit larger than my group. We were all treated to another Jumpin' Jens dance. We stopped by the press so Jens could show off and answer some more questions.

 

Chris and the guys headed back to the trailer with our rifles. The RSO certified her score and said, "Damn, you two are on a roll today. I heard several of the teams complaining that it was your rifles, until I reminded them you qualified at five hundred meters with that Sharps. That shut them up real quick."

 

As we were walking back to the table, Jens squeezed my hand and said, "That's why you brought the Sharps; so no one could say it was our Barretts."

 

I nodded, smiling. "Yep. if I had a scope on it, I would bring it out again for fifteen hundred meters, but there's no way I could see the target well enough with iron sights."

 

When we got back to the trailer, Chris was busy talking to team managers from the other teams. It looked like he was writing a lot of contracts. Frank and Jon were working on the Bravos. I sat down to finish my water, and Jens went over to the table, pulled out a calculator and a paper pad, and started working on something.

 

I was thinking, “Man, this is the life; I don't have to do anything but fire my rifle. Everything else is taken care of for me.”

 

Frank finished up on my rifle, and Jens called him over and showed him the stuff she was working on. They discussed some things for about ten minutes, coming to some sort of agreement, and Jens came over to me smiling while Frank went over and started making something in the machine shop.

 

"Well, my love,” she said, “you're going to get your wish. I figured out a way to mount a scope to your Sharps without damaging it. And I also figured out a load that should just get you fifteen hundred meters. I don't think you should try it standing, and I don't think it should be your qualifying round, but it would be fun to try it off the bench just to shut the other teams up."

 

I jumped up, grabbed her, and whirled around with her. "Damn, you're amazing. I don't know if I've told you that today." I planted a serious kiss on her lips.

 

Twenty minutes later, Frank had the scope mounted on the Sharps. It looked funny – a modern scope on a replica of an ancient rifle. He then took ten Sharps cartridges, pulled the bullets, and started working on the load that Jens calculated.

 

I was amazed that they had black powder in the trailer, but Frank told me that they threw some in for their black powder rifles in hopes that they could have some time to play. Frank loaded up the cartridges, took them and the Sharps to the test box, and set up the scope.

 

He smiled after three test shots. "That was too easy. It would be fun to see if we could get twenty-five hundred meters out of this someday." Then he handed the rifle to me. "You're not going to get one hole this time, but you should do pretty well."

 

All four of us walked out of the trailer. Chris came over. "Shit, that looks funny, seeing a scope on your Sharps. You're not going to try to qualify with that?"

 

"Nope, we're just going to have some fun," Jens answered.

 

We were all whistling the theme to Quigley as we walked to the RSO to report in.

 

He took one look at the Sharps and laughed. "That's the funniest-looking thing I've ever seen. Don't tell me you're going to qualify with that."

 

"Nope," I answered. "We're just going to have some fun." Of course, the other snipers didn't know that, and they all came over to watch.

 

I looked at Jens and she whispered, "I think I need to change my underwear. I almost have an orgasm every time you pull out your big gun."

 

I started laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. "Damn, woman. You keep that up and I'll get a hard-on and won’t be able to shoot. Please range me."

 

"Range, fifteen hundred meters; elevation, zero; wind, four at one eighty," Jens answered.

 

I tweaked the scope for the wind – it was great that it was behind me – slipped a cartridge into the breach and closed it, and went through the five shots. I knew that it wasn't all in one hole, but I also knew that it was pretty good shooting.

 

Jens brought the target in and did her dance. "Damn, my big strong Marine. You just shot an inch-and-a-half group at fifteen hundred meters with a black powder rifle." The rest of the snipers looked at the target with hope, and then Jens continued. "Too bad that was just for fun."

 

They all walked away grumbling.

 

Frank and the others headed back to the Barrett trailer while Jens and I went over to visit with the RSO and see how we were doing  Talking to the crew at the RSO area was interesting; there were a lot of good shooters at the range today. We still had the lead, but both the Canadians and the Israelis were close, with the first Russian team right behind them then came most of the rest. No one had tried for 1500m yet other than me with the Sharps, and I hadn’t counted it.

 

I looked at Jens. "Well, my love, I think we need to ramp things up a bit. What do you say we try some shoots at two thousand meters?"

 

"Let's do it, my dear; I'm getting tired of standing around." she replied.

 

We sauntered back to the Barrett trailer; stopping off by the press to tell them what was happening. They had a bunch of questions, mostly wondering when it was going to be over so we could go to the pistol range.

 

When we walked into the trailer, we could see that Frank and Jon had been busy – they had the 98 Bravos all ready for us. Not only that, they had changed out the scopes. They now had a huge attachment on the top of the scope with a big fricken knob on it.

 

"What the hell did you do to our rifles?" Jens asked.

 

Chris replied, "We had time, so I had the guys install the new BORS3 sight system on your 98 Bravos. BORS is an integrated electronic ballistic computer that mounts directly on your riflescope and couples to the elevation knob. Just turn the elevation knob until the LCD displays the target's range. The BORS's three internal sensors will have automatically calculated your ballistic solution.

 

“It compensates for aiming up or down, temperature, and barometric pressure changes. It even tells you if the rifle is canted. Place the crosshair on the target, and fire with first-round confidence. The only thing you'll have to worry about now is windage."

 

It looked funny, but if it really worked, it would take most of the calculations out of the first shots.

 

I took the rifle from him. "Well, let's go out and see if this computerized scope works."

 

We all walked down to the RSO stand and told them we were going to qualify at 2000m. As we passed, the other teams were really watching us, trying to figure out what sort of shit was mounted on our scopes. I wasn't sure that I trusted this newfangled shit, so I wanted to take a shot or two to see how it worked.

 

We set up at our table, and Frank went through the operations of the BORS system with us. It almost seemed too fricken simple.

 

I asked Jens, "My love, please run a target out to two thousand meters and range me."

 

She did, and said, "Range, two thousand meters; elevation, zero; wind, two at one seventy."

 

I cranked the knob on the BORS until it read 2000m, tweaked the windage, and fired five shots.

 

Jens got all excited and started bringing in the target. "I could see where you were hitting. This is going to be an incredible group."

 

It was just less than two inches at 2000m. "Damn, I wish I would have taken that group for qualifying. Now I need to wait for the rifle to cool again before shooting." I said. "This cut the shot prep time in half. It’s fricken awesome."

 

Jens rifle was still ready, so we switched places.

 

"My dearest, please run a target out to two thousand meters, call the RSO, and range me," Jens asked.

 

I did the first two and then told her, "Range, two thousand meters; elevation, zero; wind, two at one seven six"

 

She set the range on BORS, adjusted the windage, and took her five shots.

 

"Wow. I love that new muzzle brake; this rifle hardly kicks at all," Jens said as I was bringing in the target.

 

I smiled when I saw it; it looked identical to mine. I showed Jens, and she began the Jens dance.

 

"Woo, hoo! Less than two inches at two thousand meters." She said it loud enough that the closer groups could hear. They wandered over and took a look at her target and were impressed. When Jens and I went to get her target certified, Chris was busy showing some of the other teams the BORS setup. I could almost hear the cash register ringing as we left.

 

We stopped by and showed the press, they were going gaga over the fact that Jens now led the competition, and had her pose for a bunch of pictures.

 

The RSO certified the target and said, "Wow, I didn't think you'd be ahead of Banzai. Way to go!"

 

Jens was all smiles.

 

We went back and chased the other teams away from our table for my turn. Jens took her place and I took mine, I looked over at Jens.

 

"Maybe I'll let you win this one."

 

She shot me a pissed off look. "If you let me win, you'll sleep on the couch tonight."

 

Truth be told, I was concerned; that was a great group that she’d shot, and I wasn't sure I could best it. It would take all my concentration and a bit of luck to beat her.

 

"My lovely Jens, please run out a target to two thousand meters, call the RSO, and range me," I asked.

 

Jens reached over and touched my shoulder. "I know you can do this, my love. Don’t worry." She did the first two and then said, "Range, two thousand meters; elevation, zero; wind, zero."

 

Looked like that luck I needed had come in the form of the wind. The BORS was already set to 2000m. I set the windage back to nada and started firing. Five shots later, Jens brought the target in. I looked at it. This was going to be close.

 

Jens looked at me and said, "I can't tell. Is my group better than yours?"

 

I shook my head. "I can't tell. either; the group you shot was incredible. You may have beaten me."

 

We marched over to the RSO to have my target certified and to see if Jens had beaten me.

 

The official looked up from measuring the group. "Damn, Banzai. She almost beat you. You're ahead by an eighth of an inch."

 

I replied, "I just got lucky with the wind. Otherwise, she would have beaten me."

 

Jens punched my arm. "Hey, cut it out. You're ahead fair and square, and I'm proud of you."

 

She had her million dollar smile going and her violet eyes were sparkling. I grabbed her, gave her a big hug and whispered in her ear, "Thanks, my love, for your undying support."

 

 

She squeezed me so hard it made my back pop. "I love and live to serve you. I'll always support you, no matter what," she whispered back.

 

It was a humbling experience. Once again, I felt unworthy of her perfect support and love, but that was cut short by a sharp slap across my face that snapped me out of my funk.

 

 "Hey, jarhead! Did you forget that I can feel your feelings? Get that crap out of your mind right now," Jens demanded, fire in her eyes, "I'm not going to have you moping around the rest of the fricken day."

 

I rubbed my face, sure the slap had left a red mark it. "You're right my love. You’re almost always right. Thanks for snapping me out of it."

 

She laid a gentle kiss on my cheek. "You're welcome. I wish that bitch Jugs was here right now; I'd kick her ass so hard she'd have teeth coming out of her ass for what she did to your self esteem. You're with me now, Mister, and I'm never going to let you go, and I'm never going to belittle you. You're the best and most awesome man in the world, and someday I'm going to make you believe that."

 

I wanted to laugh at the image Jens had planted in my mind of Jugs with her teeth around her ass, but I knew better than to even mention Jugs around Jens; I was pretty sure it would earn me another slap, so instead, I gave her a big kiss, which helped to calm her down some.

 

As we were walking back to our table, the press was going crazy; they'd seen Jens slap me and wanted to know what was going on.

 

We walked over with our arms around each other, and when we got close enough, Ms. Morgan shouted out, "What'd do to make Jens slap you?"

 

I laughed. "I'm hardheaded and was being stupid. That’s what she does when she needs to get my attention."

 

Ms. Morgan jumped on that like a turkey on corn. "Jens, does he ever hit you if he thinks you’re acting stupid?"

 

That damn fucking news bitch, looking for a sensational story. Here’s one for her

 

"Jens is perfect. She never does anything stupid."

 

Jens added, "But if I did, I hope that he would spank me. I've always wanted to be spanked by Ben." Then she shook her butt towards me, I lightly swatted it, and all the press started laughing. We kissed and continued towards our table.

 

Chris was there doing his sales pitch and showing other teams and managers the Barrett gear. It was sort of a pain in the ass having him do this, but with all that Barrett had done for us, I wasn't going to complain.

 

We walked up and Chris said, "Hey you guys, awesome shooting. Do you know that your groups were very close to the theoretical limits of what the 98 Bravo can produce? It was very impressive. Frank and Jon are waiting for you in the trailer with a surprise that will blow your socks off."

 

Well, that got us interested – especially Jens, who seemed unable to resist the “s” word. We were both sure this was the secret that he had mentioned earlier, so we beat feet to the trailer to finally see the it. We walked in the door and saw Frank and Jon holding a new rifle. It sort of looked like our M107s, but the barrel was bigger and shorter, it had one nasty looking muzzle brake on it, and a big assed scope on the top with BORS.

 

Jens walked over to Jon and said, "What the fuck did you do to our M107s?" She was almost as passionate about her rifles as she was about me.

 

Jon looked a bit worried and answered, "We made them better."

 

Chris walked in behind us and said, "That's right; we made them better. Tell me, snipers: what are the biggest problems with the M107?"

 

Jens replied, still pissed about her rifle, "What is this, some sort of fricken test?" I interrupted her before she got too far.

 

"That's easy – it's the .50 BMG round; it's not very accurate, even with solid bronze bullets.”

 

Jens continued, "And now that we can use the .338 Lapua out to two thousand meters, it doesn't even give us a range advantage."

 

I finished, "It's even marginally good for taking out hardened targets. What we need is a more accurate and more powerful M107."

 

"Exactly!" The word burst out of Chris’s mouth. “And that is what we are giving you. Frank and Jon are holding the newest, top secret, long-range sniper rifle that Barrett has developed. May I present to you and Jens the Barrett XM-109. The XM109 is a semi-automatic twenty-five- millimeter rifle that has a seventeen-point-six-inch long barrel and an overall length of forty-six inches. It weighs in at forty-six pounds and has a five-round magazine.

 

“Effective distance armor-piercing lethality for the rifle is listed at two thousand meters. The twenty-five-millimeter round is derivative design from the AH-64 Apache helicopter's M789 high-explosive dual-purpose thirty-millimeter ammunition and will penetrate at least fifty millimeters of armor plating, making it capable of destroying light armored vehicles, SCUD launchers, and other equipment. According to the ammunition manufacturer, the twenty-five millimeter round is two-point-five times more effective at destroying targets than a .50 caliber armor-piercing round. We have given you a true shoulder-mounted cannon."

 

We both cried, "Holy shit!"

 

Jens worried, "That must have a hell of a recoil. Shit, my shoulder hurts every time I fire the M107. I can't imagine what this will feel like."

 

"Well, there's one way to find out,” I said. "Let's go and try these out."

 

We marched out of the trailer under the eyes of the other teams and headed over to the RSO to check in.

 

The RSO stared at the rifles."Shit you've already qualified at a further distance than anyone else and you're both in the lead. What are you going to do now?"

 

"We thought we would test out some new rifles. Will you let us run the targets out to three thousand meters?" I asked.

 

He looked at us, looked at the rifles, looked at us again, and asked, "Are those things safe?"

 

Chris answered, "As long as you stay behind the barrel and out of the blast cone, they are."

 

The RSO replied, "Go ahead and try one shot, but call me before you fire any more rounds."

 

We went over to our table and started setting up and Chris pulled out a new spotting scope for Jens. It was much more powerful; it had to be so she could spot at three thousand meters. I started setting up the XM. I thought I heard the other snipers gasp when I pulled out the twenty-five-millimeter rounds and started loading a mag.

 

I slammed the mag home and looked at Jens. "This is going to be damn interesting. Please run a target out to three thousand meters, call the RSO, and range me."

 

It seemed like it took forever to get the target out to 3000m, Jens called the RSO, and said, "I love you, my dear. Damn, this is a nice spotting scope. Range, three thousand meters; elevation, zero; wind, four at twenty."

 

I cranked the BORS knob to 3000m, adjusted the windage from the new chart Chris gave me, pulled the XM really tight against my shoulder.

 

"Well, here we go." I took a breath, let half of it out, and squeezed the trigger. The XM roared, the table shook and dust flew everywhere. I was pushed about a foot back.

 

"Holy crap!" we both said. "That was something."

 

Jens asked, "How's your shoulder?"

 

"It's not as bad as I thought it would be, but I wouldn't want to do this all day long," I answered.

 

"I guess you have a really big gun now," Jens said, making me blush.

 

"Did I even hit the target?" I finally asked.

 

"Gee, I don't know; I was more concerned about you surviving. Let me take a look," Jen replied. She  looked through the scope and started hooting, "Woo hoo! My big Marine hit the bull’s-eye at three thousand meters. Think you can do that four more times?"

 

"I'm not sure the RSO will let us do that four more times," I answered.

 

She called the RSO and he okayed four more shots. I looked at her and said, "I'll take two more, and you take the last two."

 

"Are you sure that I can handle it?"

 

"I'm sure that your shoulder can take the two shots if you keep the rifle really tight against it. Besides, if this bruises your shoulder, I'll just have to give you another massage," I said.

 

Jens’s eyes twinkled, "Shit. I'll fire that damned cannon all day long if you'll give me another massage." I understood the hint and filed it away for later.

 

The whole range had come over to watch our craziness, and we decided to give them a real show.

 

I said as loud as I could, "Make sure the RSO knows this is a three-thousand-meter combined qualifying round."

 

Jens whispered, "Is there even such a thing?"

 

I answered, "I don't think so, but we can sure bullshit them and shake them up."

 

We set up and I fired two more rounds. They weren't as bad as the first because I knew what to expect. Then Jens and I switched places.

 

I ranged her and she pulled the XM up tight against her shoulder. "Are you sure this won't break my shoulder?"

 

"It's worse than the M107, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be. The first shot is a little scary, but after that it's manageable." I assured her.

 

She went through the procedure and fired her first shot. "Wow, that wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, it was sort of fun." Then she set up and fired her second shot. "Not bad at all. I think I could get used to this."

 

I was beginning to think that she was psycho after all. Jens shot me a look. "Hey, I'm not psycho. I just love shooting. Let's bring in the target."

 

We ran in the target. As it was coming in, we could see the big fricken holes in the target. In fact, most of the middle of the target was gone. They measured it, and the middle five inches of the target was totally gone.

 

Jens asked, "So is this a five inch group?"

 

The RSO walked up and said, "Damn, that's what it looks like to me. But it looks like we're going to have to come up with a different target when people start shooting these. The round is so big it damages the target."

 

"When we developed this, we found the targets worked better if they were made out of a thin metal," Chris said. They hadn't brought any of those with them, which didn't matter because I was through with the rifle for the day. The other teams were trying, but none of them were close to our scores.

 

I looked over at Jens and asked, "So, are you ready for your surprise?"

 

She jumped up and down. "I've only been waiting all day for it. Let's run back to the trailer so that I can open those boxes now." She grabbed my hand and started dragging me towards the Barrett semi.

 

I pulled her to a stop. "Wait a minute my fiancée, first we need to go invite our press to come along and then we need to pack up the rifles and the two boxes and head over to the pistol range. You can't open the boxes until we reach the pistol range."

 

She looked at me and gave me the best pout I've ever seen, "Damn, youYou just love torturing me, don't you? It seems like you make me wait for everything."

 

"Yes, my love, I do. And doesn't the anticipation make it that much better?" I led her toward the waiting press.

 

Chris called after us, "Don't worry about the rifles; we still need to re-barrel them. When we're done with that, I'll make sure they get back to you."

 

I leaned over and whispered to Jens, "You'd better fix your attitude, or the press will be asking you what's wrong. After all, you did just come in second in round one of the sniper competition." That did cheer her up and by the time we reached the press she was her normal self.

 

The press started asking questions. I held up my hand, they stopped talking, and I announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, we're done with round one of the sniper competition. We've both tried our best and I'm barely in first and Jens is easily in second. If someone does better than us now, they deserve to win. I'd like to invite all of you over to the pistol range for the surprise that I promised earlier."

 

Ms. Morgan shouted, "Jens, what's the surprise?"

 

Jens replied, pouting, "Hell if I know. Ben hasn't told me, and he’s been torturing me with it all day."

 

They all started laughing, and one asked, "Come on, Ben. Give us a clue."

 

I thought for about a minute and said, "There's a famous quote that starts, 'God made men . . .'"

 

Jens continued, ". . . Sam Colt made all men equal."

 

The press continued, "What's that supposed to mean?"

 

"Meet us at the pistol range, and we'll show you." I answered, leading Jens towards the Barrett trailer. We walked in the trailer and thanked Chris, Frank, and Jon for all their support and help.

 

Chris said, "I want to thank you two; you've helped to make Barrett a very successful company today." I looked around for the boxes. Chris continued, "Oh, we loaded up the Humvee already. You're all ready to go." We thanked him again and headed out to the Humvee. I opened the door for Jens and then went around and got in.

 

Jens looked over at me. "You're one sneaky devil dog, I just figured out what you did. You used the surprise to keep me from getting nervous about the competition." She leaned across the seat and gave me a smoldering kiss. "Thanks, my love. It really worked. But now that the competition is done, can I please open the boxes?"

 

"Yes, you may open them when we get to the pistol range." I replied. Jens stomped her foot and punched me in the arm.

 

"Sometimes you drive me crazy," she replied.

 

"Good, because you drive me crazy all the time," I said.

 

The press was already at the pistol range when we arrived. I opened the door for Jens, went and got the two boxes, and walked over to the press.

 

"Have you figured out the quote yet?" I asked. Some of them shouted out ideas, none of them right. "Okay, in a few minutes, we will come out of the building over there, and then we'll tell you," I said.

 

I set the boxes on the floor of the RSO building, and looked at Jens. "Are you really sure you want to open these? Once you open them, you'll never be the same."

 

"Get out of my way," she said as she tore into the first box. The first thing she found was a Single Action Shooting Society badge and a certificate with the permanent shooter's alias of Jumpin’ Jens.

 

She threw me with a questioning look.

 

I nodded my head. "Keep going." Next, she pulled out a new Stetson hat, new pair of Levis and a gingham blouse, and a new pair of Tony Lama cowboy boots.

 

She still looked funny at me.

 

"There's more," I continued. She removed the cardboard, and underneath was a brand new quick-draw setup and two new nickel plated Colt Single Action revolvers with nice pearl grips. She was so shocked that she forgot to do the Jens dance.

 

She set the guns down, came over and hugged me so hard I thought she was going to break my back. "Thanks for the gifts, my love. You really know the way to get into my heart. Ever since I fired your dad's revolvers, I've wanted a set of my own. Now I have a set of my own, plus a whole outfit to go with it." She planted a toe-curling kiss on my lips.

 

I opened up the second box, started pulling out my outfit, and said, "You're an official member of the SASS as Jumpin’ Jens. This is your first ensemble. I thought we’d pretend to be Cowgirl and Indian and go and give the press a quick-draw exhibition."

 

Jens bit her lower lip. "Do you think I'm good enough?"

 

"Hell, yes,” I encouraged her. “You're going to do great. It's not like the press knows anything about this, anyway. Let's get changed."

 

No one was in the building, so we both just shucked our clothes right in the middle of the floor and started changing. I couldn't help looking at Jens's body as we were changing.

 

"Hey Jarhead, watch what you're doing," Jens said with a laugh.

 

"I'd rather watch what you're doing," I quipped.

 

Jens looked spectacular in her new outfit; the jeans and shirt were tight in all the right places. She twirled and said, "Like what you see my big, strong brave?"

 

I let out a war whoop, picked her up, and swung her around. "You're the best looking cowgirl I've ever seen." and planted a huge kiss on her cheek.

 

Jens put on her quick draw rig as I finished getting into my buckskins and moccasins. She looked over and said, "Hey that's a nice outfit; you look like a real Indian. Where'd you get it?" then she gasped, realizing what she had said.

 

I just laughed. "Well, I'm half Indian, so I hope I would look a little bit like one. But this will make me look even more like one." I pulled out a dark black wig with two long braids and slipped it over my head. "I made this outfit myself. It’s deer skin from a deer that I shot. I even skinned it and tanned the hide myself. I was going to say it's soft as a baby's bottom, but I think I'd rather say it's soft as your bottom."

 

"Talk like that will get you laid," Jens said with a smile.

 

That left me tongue-tied, and Jens had a dangerous look in her eyes. I was saved by the press yelling, wondering where we were and what was taking so long.

 

"You know," Jens said, sauntering up to me, "One of these days, you're luck is going to run out, and you’ll have to answer me when I say things like that."

 

"Well, when that happens, I guess I'll just have to lay you," I replied.

 

This time it was Jens’s turn to be tongue-tied.

 

I swatted her butt and said, "Come on, Cowgirl; we have a show to perform."

 

We walked out of the RSO building into the yammering of the press. When they finally saw us, they were so shocked, they fell silent.

 

Jens whispered to me, "This has to be a miracle; we've finally found a way to shut them the hell up."

 

The press had recovered by the time we walked over close to them and were asking a million questions at the same time.

 

I held up my hand and said in a mock American Indian accent, "How."

 

They erupted with laughter, letting me take control of the situation. I explained about the SASS and CAS. Then, I took time to show them Dad's revolvers and explain the quote I had told them earlier. They asked about my outfit, and I told them the same thing I told Jens. They really laughed on the part about the leather being as soft as Jens's bottom.

 

Ms. Morgan interrupted and said, "So, you've touched Jens's bottom. Does this mean that something else has happened?"

 

Jens answered that by saying in a little-girl voice, "Well, I was a being a very bad little girl and Ben had to spank my bottom." Ms. Morgan looked very frustrated, and the press started hooting and asked some more questions. Thankfully, there weren't any more about Jens's bottom.

 

We told them we were going to put on a quick-draw shooting exhibition and walked over to the firing line. As we were walking, I noticed Jens was putting an extra sway in each step.

 

I leaned towards her and whispered, "What the hell are you doing?"

 

She replied, "I noticed that several of the male reporters tented their pants when you started talking about my bottom, so I thought I would make good use of my ASSets and let them dream about what they'll never get." She then looked over her shoulders and blew the press a kiss.

 

"Damn. You're such a tease." I chuckled.

 

"No, I'm your tease. All this is yours whenever and wherever you want it," she reminded me, her violet eyes twinkling.

 

I was glad I was facing away from the press, because now it was my turn to tent my pants. "Well, it looks like someone liked that." Jens laughed, looking at my crotch.

 

Thank goodness I was able to get control of myself by the time we reached the firing line. We loaded the Colts in the proper way, and I told Jens, "You're going first. Remember what I've taught you – stay smooth and stay loose. You’re gonna do great."

 

She turned away from the firing line to face the press, waved and blew them another kiss, and said, "I'm ready, my love."

 

I threw a can downrange and said, "Go."

 

Jens spun and slipped the left Colt out of the holster – Damn, she was fast – saw the can, and fanned the revolver five times, hitting it each time. She slipped the left Colt back into the holster at the same time she drew the right Colt, fanned it five times, again hitting the can each time, re-holstered the right Colt, and started the Jens dance in double time.

 

The press was cheering. She turned to them, waved, curtsied, and blew them another kiss.

 

"Damn, woman. Have you been practicing?" I said in amazement.

 

"Nope, I just knew that I had to do good today to impress you," she answered.

 

"Shit, I'm more than impressed I am amazed." I gave her a big hug and a kiss, "I guess I'd better come up with something else." I unloaded the right Colt, grabbed a different box of ammo, and then started reloading it.

 

"Those sure look strange. What sort of ammo is that?" Jens asked.

 

"These are 45 long colts loaded with shot, sort of like a miniature shotgun shell. They use them a lot in snake country to kill rattlesnakes," I answered.

 

I reloaded the right pistol with the shot shells and told Jens, "When I say go, I want you to throw the can up in the air about fifteen feet in front of me. Throw it as high as you can." I made sure the Colts were loose in the holsters, shook my hands a couple of times and said the closest thing to a prayer I had ever said.

 

"Go."

 

Jens threw the can perfectly. I drew the right Colt and fanned it five times, hitting the can each time and bouncing it up in the air. As it hit the ground, I holstered the right Colt, drew the left, and chased the can downrange, hitting it all five times. I did a fancy twirl and re-holstered the Colt.

 

Jens let out a whoop and jumped onto me, wrapping her arms around my neck and her legs around my waist. "Son of a bitch, I've never seen anything like that," Then she whispered into my ear, "I need to change my underwear. I'm glad these jeans are thick enough to hide my wetness."  Then our private moment was over and the press was clapping and cheering.

 

One of them even shouted, "Hey, get a room, you two." We both started laughing. I peeled Jens off me, bowed, and waved to the press.

 

We went over to them and talked a couple of them, Ms. Morgan included, into coming out and firing our Colts. It was the first time that many of them had held a gun, so we were kept busy teaching them gun safety and making sure they didn't shoot anyone.

 

Jens got really pissed when I was helping Ms, Morgan, and she leaned over, wrapped her arms around my arm, and pressed her breasts against my bicep.

 

"Hey woman," Jens said in a voice cold as the first frost. "You'd better not be making a pass at my fiancé."

 

Ms. Morgan jumped back and apologized, saying that she didn't realize what she was doing.

 

Things were winding down and I had one more thing I wanted to do. "Will everyone please follow me over to the defensive pistol range? There’s one last exhibition I would like to show you." We wandered on over to the range and I reloaded both my Colts. Jens said, "Ben, you know there are fourteen tactical targets on this range and you're only have ten shots."

 

"Don't worry, my dear; I've got it covered," I replied.

 

Jens went to the range control to activate the targets. I needed to move down the range and take out all the targets within two seconds of them appearing; otherwise, I was “dead.”

 

I made sure the Colts were loose in the holsters, looked over at Jens and winked, "Time to do the voodoo I do so well."

 

I nodded, and she hit the activate button. I drew both Colts and worked my way down the range, shooting with either hand, depending on which side the target was on. The right Colt was empty first. I holstered it while taking out a target with the left Colt, reached down into the top of the moccasin boot with my right hand, and pulled out a Cabelas New Model .31 caliber black powder revolver. I nailed the next three targets with it, and on the final target, I was close enough to use my tomahawk. I whipped it out of my belt and threw it at the target, hitting it in the head. Then I fired the last two shots from the black powder revolver into its heart.

 

Jens came running down the range and almost tackled me when she ran into me. "You never cease to amaze me. I didn't even know you had a boot gun," she cried, and smothered me with kisses.

 

We walked back to the press with our arms around each other. They were clapping and cheering. We spent the next thirty minutes answering questions. The press wanted to see the little revolver, so I pulled out of my boot. Since it was empty, I even let them handle it. One damned fool started waving it around, and I yelled at him that he'd better start treating it like a weapon, not a toy. I took it back and put it in my moccasin.

 

We told the press we were done for the day and we were heading home to clean our weapons and to get ready for the next day’s event – pistol qualifying. We picked up our clothes from the RSO building, jumped into the Humvee, and instead of heading home, we decided to stop and get something to eat in town. I hadn't had a waffle sandwich in a long time, so I talked Jens into Denny's. I would have preferred Village Inn, but it was further away from the base.

 

When I pulled into the parking lot, I realized we still had our SASS outfits on and I said, "Shit. We should have changed; we look like fricken freaks."

 

"Don't worry my dear, it won't matter." Jens replied. I hoped she was right.

 

We did get some funny looks when we walked in, but after we sat down, no one noticed us anymore, and I had my waffle sandwich and Jens had a super bird. Jens kept thanking me for the Colts and telling me how much she liked them. I kept telling her how beautiful she looked as a cowgirl.

 

Jens went to the bathroom, came back and sat down saying, "I know what you did today, you sneaky devil dog. You used our demonstration at the pistol range to psyche out the competition. You know it’s all over the news by now. I love it when you get devious. it makes me so-o-o-o hot." She reached out her hand towards me with something hidden in her fist. I couldn't tell what was in it until she dropped her soaked panties in my hand.

 

Shit, I must have blushed worse than ever. I was a real red man. I slipped them as quickly as I could into the belt on my buckskins.

 

"I love it when you blush." Jens said, making it even worse.

 

She looked around and her smile dropped. "Son of a bitch! We lost our escort somewhere. I'm not carrying right now, are you?"

 

I replied, "All I have is my Cabelas boot gun, but I didn't reload it."

 

”Let's get the hell out of here as fast as we can," Jens answered.

 

We jumped up and paid our bill and headed out the door as three Harleys drove up. I looked at the riders and said to Jens, "This is going to be trouble. Stay behind me and let me handle this."

 

"The hell I will! If you're going to fight, you're not going to fight these bastards alone," Jens said.

 

As we tried to get to the Humvee, the three bikers blocked our way. I tried to move around them, but they moved back in front of us.

 

Biker one sneered. "Shit, what do we have here?"

 

Biker two said, "They look like rejects from the Village People."

 

Biker three said to Jens, "I'd say it was a cowgirl and a half-breed. Hey, Cowgirl, how about riding this?" He unzipped his pants.

 

Jens took a step towards him and kicked him as hard as she could in the balls with her cowboy boots. He fell to the ground screaming, threw up, and passed out.

 

I intercepted the punch that biker two aimed at Jens’s head and broke his arm, finishing him off with a palm blow to his nose.

 

Biker three pulled a knife and a chain was dancing around with them like he knew what he was doing. I could tell he didn't. Shit he didn't even know which of us to go after.

 

I kept my eye on him as I reached out to touch Jens’s arm to get her attention. "Jens, this is an order: go back inside the restaurant and make sure someone has called 911. We need the police and an ambulance for this guy when I break both of his arms. And don't give me any crap." I cut off the inevitable protest.

 

Jens wasn't happy, but she did as she was told.

 

I was in full Capoeira mode and was dancing for my life.

 

"Oh look at the faggot half-breed dancing around because he's afraid of me," the biker jeered.

 

He lunged at me, I danced sideways, and he missed. I caught his wrist, slammed my elbow down on his forearm as hard as I could and heard the bones break. He let out a yell and dropped the knife, but swung at me with the chain. I felt it brush through my hair as I ducked.

 

I jumped back and assumed a defensive posture. Jens came running out of Denny's, and I ordered her to stop. This guy was wounded and dangerous. He was swinging the chain around like it was a lasso, hoping to keep me away from him.

 

He surprised me when he let go of the chain and sent it flying towards my head, but I got my right arm up just in time. The chain hit my arm and wrapped around it. Son of a bitch, that hurt like hell.

 

He charged at the same time. I jumped out of the way, and he missed me again. It was obvious he was hopped-up on something. As he went by, I caught him full in the face with a roundabout kick and clotheslined him. He hit the ground like a sack of cement, and he wasn't breathing.

 

"Shit, I think I killed him," I yelled, and dropped to the ground beside him. Not only wasn’t he  breathing, but there wasn't a palpable pulse. I started chest compressions and yelled to Jens, "Get the rescue mask out of the Humvee."

 

She ran over to the vehicle and came over beside me.

 

I looked at her. "Even with the mask, I don't want you doing rescue breaths on this nasty motherfucker; on the count of five, we're going to switch places."

 

We switched, and as I put the rescue mask over his face, I could tell that I had broken his neck. By now there was a huge crowd watching us.

 

Someone said, "Hey it's the two I saw on TV tonight. I think they call them 'The All American Couple.'"

 

Fuck. This was all we needed. Now the press was going to be here. Jens kept up the compressions. She was pissed and was going at it so hard I think she broke the motherfucker's ribs. I kept up the rescue breaths.

 

Finally, three ambulances and four police cars showed up. The police and two of the paramedics went over and started checking out the other two bikers, and one paramedic ran over to us.

 

"What's going on here?" Ralph asked.

 

Jens answered, "This motherfucker attacked us with a knife and a chain, and my fiancé took him down." I added in between breaths, "It feels like I broke his neck. I made sure that I didn't move his head."

 

Ralph took over. He listened with his stethoscope and said, "You guys did a great job. He has a pulse and is breathing on his own." He felt around just a little behind the bikers head, "Yeah, I do think his neck is broken."

 

Ralph hollered to his partner, "Jim, we have a probable cervical fracture here. Bring the neck brace and the backboard."

 

Jens and I stepped back and let the paramedics do their job.The press finally showed up, and I was thankful the police were keeping them back.

 

A police captain came over to talk to us. He looked at me and said, "After we're done, make sure you get that arm taken care of."

 

I looked down at my right forearm and noticed that the chain was still wrapped around it and then I noticed the blood and realized that it hurt quite a bit.

 

Jens was upset that I was hurt, so when the captain wanted to separate us to get our stories, he met with some adamant resistance.

"No way in hell I'm leaving my fiancés side while he's injured. If you don't like it you can go fuck yourself," she declared. She reached into her purse, pulled out her mobile phone, and hit the speed dial for Dad.

 

She filled him in on the situation and handed the phone to the Captain. The Captain nodded his head several times and handed the phone back to Jens. She talked to Dad some more and finally hung up the phone.

 

The captain apologized. "Sorry, I didn't know who you two were. You both looked like some sort of freaks in those outfits. General Donaldson told me you two are his daughter and soon to be son-in-law. He and several Humvees of MPs will be here soon to help handle this situation. There were a lot of eyewitnesses, and it looks like you both tried to avoid the fight.

 

“There was some question of excessive use of force on the first two attackers until we searched them and found they not only had knives, but were also carrying guns. So I think we're just going to forget about the excessive force. Why don't you head over to an ambulance and get your arm looked at?"

 

Jens dragged me over to an ambulance by my left arm. She grabbed a paramedic and got in his face. "My fiancé’s injured, and I want you to look at him right now. That filthy bastard you're working on will be fine; all I did was bust his balls. If you don't take care of my fiancé right now, I'm going to do the same thing to you!"

 

The paramedic named George turned a little white and said, "Yes ma'am, right away."

 

He started slowly unwrapping the chain from my arm. Damn, that hurt. When I winced a couple of times, Jens gave him her “I'm-gonna-kill-you-if-you-hurt-my–fiancé” look, and George turned even whiter.

 

I looked at Jens and said, "Marine! I order you to stand down and let this man do his work!"

 

Jens was shocked, looked at me and opened her mouth to say something, changed her mind and said, "I love and live to serve you." She held my left arm, pulled my head against her side, and ran her fingers across the top of my head.

 

"Hey, have I ever told you that your head feels like a hedgehog?"Jens said, trying to distract me and doing a good job. "Perhaps that will be my nickname for you."

 

"Yozhick," I said, "That's hedgehog in Russian."

 

Jens cooed, "You're my little yozhick," and continued to rub my head.

 

George had gotten the chain off and wanted to cut my shirt to look at my arm. I shook my head. "No way in hell you're going to cut this buckskin shirt. Jens, please help me off with this." It took a couple of minutes and some pain but we saved my shirt.

 

George looked at things and said, "I can't tell without an x-ray, but I think you have greenstick fractures of both your ulna and radius.5 You also have some minor abrasions. I'm going clean the abrasions and splint our arm. Make sure you get it x-rayed either tonight or tomorrow. If you don't take care of this, and if you bang it real hard you could cause the fracture to comminute." He splinted my arm and offered me a pain pill.

 

 I held up my hand. “I don’t need any damned pain pills,” then added, “Thanks, anyway.”

 

Jens was still holding me and soothing me, and even though there was some pain, her attention felt wonderful.

 

When the General and the MPs finally rolled up, Dad jumped right of the Humvee and took charge of the situation, deploying the MPs to control the crowd better. Then he ran over to us.

 

I jumped up and tried to salute and Dad said, "Damn, I can't leave you two alone without you finding some trouble." We could tell he was kidding and trying to make us feel better. He looked at my splinted arm. "At ease, you two. What’s the damage, son? Did you break your arm?"

 

Jens took over and described the whole fight, including how I ordered her into Denny's while I fought the last scumbag.

 

Dad looked at me and said, "You kept your promise to keep my daughter safe."

 

I replied, "Of course; I always keep my promises. I would have died tonight to keep Jens safe."

 

Dad shook my left hand and hugged me. "Thank you. I'm so proud of you!"

 

Together the three of us walked over to the press. They had already heard about most of the fight from the police captain and eyewitness interviews, but the vultures wanted to talk to us.

 

Jens and Dad handled most of the questions while I just sort of stood between them until one of the reports asked, "Ben, does this mean you're out of the sniper competition?"

 

I answered, "What, this little scratch keep me from winning the sniper competition? No way in hell! Tomorrow is the pistol competition, and I still have my left arm."

 

Our press was finally appeased and started to tear down their equipment. Dad and Jens moved me over to a waiting Humvee, and Dad told the driver to take me to the base hospital for x-rays.

 

The x-rays did show a severe greenstick fracture. The doctor said it should heal just fine, but to be careful about banging it. Then he put a cast on my arm. They didn’t have camo-colored fiberglass, so I had to settle for green. He also ordered no pistol shooting with the right hand.

 

The waiting Humvee took us to our house and Jens practically carried me into the bedroom. "Take it easy, my love, and I'll get you dressed for bed." Helping me off with my buckskin pants, she insisted on helping me change my underwear and accidentally brushed against my little Marine. "Oh, excuse me my love, I really didn't mean to do that."

 

She laughed, and gave me a fine show, getting out of her cowgirl outfit and into her flannel PJ’s.

 

She crawled into bed with me, pulled me tight, and kissed me on the lips. "It's a good thing you're hurt, or I'd kick your butt. Don't you ever order me to stand by when you're in a fight. We’re a team and we fight as a team." I tried to argue with her, but she kissed me on the lips, pulled back, and said, "I love and live to serve you, but I'm correct on this one. You need to listen to what I just said and think about it."

_______

 

 1The Shiloh Sharps Model 1874 cartridge rifle became the epitome of what a nineteenth century buffalo hunting rifle should be.

 

2 Refers to a 1990 Western Film starring Tom Selleck who plays the titular Matthew Quigley, a cowboy and gunman from America with a keen eye and a specially modified rifle with which he can shoot at extraordinary distances. Quigley's weapon of choice is an 1874 Sharps Buffalo Rifle which fires .45-110 paper patch black powder cartridges.

 

3 Single Action Shooting Society an international organization created to preserve and promote the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting™.

 

4Barrett Optical Ranging system – This is real and works great!

 

5A greenstick fracture is like what happens when you bend and break a green stick. You get cracks along the length of the bone, but the bone is not comminuted (displaced). They're painful but not too bad (voice of experience). The ulna and the radius are the two bones in your forearm.