Chapter 19

Walker Chapter 19

Copyright 2011 Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia


Present – Stacy – Waking up the next morning


What the hey! If I thought I was having weird Stanley Kubrick dreams Ben must be having fracking1 nightmares from The Shining2 and My Bloody Wedding3 combined. He woke me up tossing, turning and yelling 'no, no, oh hell no' and then something about a 'bloody wedding dress.'


1 Frack is a euphemism for fuck pulled from the new Battlestar Galactica series

2 The Shining – 1980 movie directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson.

3 My Bloody Wedding – 2010 movie about a demon possessed bride (Ben wanted to add a comment about 'that's a pretty normal bride').


Sometime during the night Ben had rolled over and was spooning me. It feels really good but I need to see if he's alright. I roll towards him and notice he even has Bo concerned. Bo has his head by us and is snorting - trying to wake Ben. I reach up, gently touch Ben's face and say, "Ben wake up, you're having a bad dream."


His eyes snap open with this crazy wild look in his eyes that I've never seen before. Then he hugs the heck out of me and says, "Thank God it was only a bad dream."


I enjoy him holding me but finally break the mood by saying, "That sounded more like a nasty nightmare to me. Do you want to talk about it?"


Then Bo interrupts our interlude by trying to nose me away from Ben and Ben says, "Hell no I don't want to talk about it - come on let's move it… daylight's burning." He jumps up and orders me, "Stacy you stand watch while I take care of my morning business."


I grump back, "Hey what ever happened to ladies first?"


He yells back over his shoulder, "In war there are no ladies; besides, you snooze you lose."


I grumpily get out of my nice warm sleeping bag, grab my rifle and SLLS as I was ordered! Whoever said war is hell was sure right because I was really enjoying our activities earlier this morning. And Grandmamma was right: Men are really strange but some of them are also pretty exciting!


Present – Ben – Waking up the next morning


Damn! I just had the fucking nightmare to end all nightmares! I think it was worse than the face nightmare or the captured nightmare. Oh it started out nice enough since I was an observer at my wedding and it wasn't too bad (for a wedding – which is really sort of a bachelor's funeral). I liked my tux since it made me look like 'Bond, James Bond!' But then it shocked the hell out of me when Stacy, not Ms. Donaldson, was the bride – yeah what the fuck was dreamland Ben doing getting married in the first place and then to Stacy Summers, not Ms. Donaldson!


Dreamland Ben must be a whole lot more stupid than actual Ben because he went along with the whole wedding fiasco and even seemed happy about it. Then it all went to hell in a hurry! Jens, I mean Ms. Donaldson, stormed into the church right as the minister pronounced them man and wife, yelled "Nooooooo! You can't marry that skanky little bitch! You promised me!"


She aimed her M4 at Stacy and I couldn't believe it! She unloaded a full mag (less one) into Stacy! Stacy's beautiful white dress instantly turned red!


Dreamland Ben looked at Ms. Donaldson and yelled, "You bitch! You just killed my wife!"


Ms. Donaldson yelled in reply, "You runaway bastard. You promised to marry me first and if I can't have you, no one can have you!"


Dreamland Ben again yelled, "You bitch, I'm going to kill you!"


She taunted him, "Come and get some you lying bastard!"


They ran towards each other and started a huge fight in the middle of the church aisle.


The dream has me really shaken! Do I really have repressed feelings like that for Stacy? If so and I acted on them, would this dream be a premonition like so many of my dreams?


I need time to think, so I leave Stacy on watch and head off in the bushes to complete my morning business. I guess I spend a bit too much time because I hear Stacy complain, "Hey, there are other people that have to use the bathroom in the morning too!"


I come back but I sure as hell can't look Stacy in the eyes, not right now.


Present – Stacy – Waking up the next morning


Something is as wrong as two left shoes with Ben when he comes back. He won't even make eye contact with me! He reminds me of – I know - a skittish as heck horse. Worse than even Knacker (I really hate that name) when we first found him. I wonder… if you treat a skittish man like a skittish horse, will it have the same effect.


I softly ask, "Ben will you SLLS while I take care of my morning business." I slowly walk towards him and softly say, "Ben I really didn't get a chance to say thank you for saving my life again yesterday. I don't know how many times that makes you have saved my life, but you have my promise that somehow, someday and someway I will repay you." I touch him on the shoulder as I walk past but he even flinches a little from my touch!


Well, that didn't works quite like I thought it would! I start to take care of things and begin to think: What would Grandmamma do?


Present – Ben – Waking up the next morning


What the hell! Stacy is treating me like – well I don't even know what's she's treating me like because it's strange as hell. She talking all soft and sultry to me – wait a minute. Oh hell no – she's trying to seduce me! She even touches me and I just about jump out of my skin.


I'm glad she's busy because it gives me time to come up with a plan for today. I sure as hell can't be getting into a relationship with her or any other woman, not if I can't give them children!


I think hard and come up with the perfect plan for today. Stacy walks out of the bushes, I smile at her and she says, "Well that's the Ben that I know. So what are your orders for today?"


I reply, "We're going to be busy as hell today. First let's have a quick breakfast. Then we need to approach the house again just as if it hasn't been cleared since we don't know if any banditos came back to it last night. And we'll remember to watch for the IEDs everywhere. Then I need to deal with those IEDs before one of us or the horses gets the hell blown out of our legs. I have to figure out what triggers them so I can shut it off, if that's possible. Then I want to give the family as proper a burial as we can, dispose of the bandito rubbish and then have a look at the barn we saw briefly last night. Plus I have some other things for you today."


She smiles at me and replies, "That sounds like a really busy day. What other things do you have in mind for me?"


I grin and explain, "You my young lady are finally going to get to groom these smelly horses you like to complain about. And then it's time, because you did a pretty good job last night but made a few mistakes, to concentrate on your tactical training. This fucked up house is a perfect place for you to practice UC and we need to work on your rifle skills."


She starts the breakfast MREs without even being asked and continues to SLLS. Then she asks, "Is there anything else, because I don't see how we can do all this in just one day."


I reply, "Yes one more thing, one of us will always stand watch today while the other works. And I think if we don't run into anymore banditos we will spend a couple days around here and let my leg heal."


Well, that last statement was a mistake. Stacy comes over and orders, "Ben, forgive me! I forgot all about your leg. Drop your pants and let me inspect your wound."


I start to argue…


Present – Stacy – Waking up the next morning


Son of a gun! With all the excitement already this morning I forgot about Ben's leg. He reminds me and I reply, "Ben, forgive me! I forgot all about your leg. Drop your pants and let me inspect your wound."


Then he argues with me, "Stacy, really my leg’s fine and you don't need to look at it."


I notice that he blushes and wonder what the heck that is all about. I sit on the ground and demand, "Like heck! If you're going to act like a child then I will too. I'm not moving from this place until you drop your pants and let me see your leg."


He finally relents and whines, "Okay but I tell you it's fine." Then he finally drops his pants. I look at his wound and it is really good looking but we will need to change the bandages sometime soon. I stand up and notice he's really blushing and I tease, "What's wrong, is the big strong Marine afraid that I might take advantage of him?"


This proves to be a minor mistake on my part when Ben gets a really grumpy look and says, "Stacy don't ever joke about something like that with me!"


Wow he's much worse than a skittish horse – it's sort of like – I know – it's like he's PMS! Now, that I understand. I smile at him and apologize, "Look Ben it seems like everything I've done today has upset you. Please forgive me." Then I go to my pack, pull out a chocolate bar, hand it to him and continue, "Please accept this as a peace offering."


He finally apologizes to me, "Stacy I'm sorry. Now I don't want to talk about it, but that nightmare really shook me up today and it's probably going to take a while for me to settle down."


Hmm, I’m not sure what the heck sort of nightmare it was and I really want to talk to him about it. But I know he's not going to discuss it, at least not right now. I grab the MREs hand him his and suggest, "Perhaps your breakfast and that chocolate bar will make you feel better - bon appetite!"


Ben offers, "Thanks Stacy, I will continue to SLLS as I eat my breakfast so you can relax and take it easy."


Unfortunately, I can't relax. Ben has trained me well and I can't stop SLLSing, not while we still might be in danger…


Present – Ben – New day


I proudly notice that even though I told Stacy she could relax, her head is still on a swivel and she continues to SLLS while she eats her breakfast. It's a good thing because it lets me concentrate on a serious problem I haven't solved yet. You see I think we were damn lucky last night not to have tripped one of the shotgun shell IEDs – shit if it wasn't for Bo I would have already been a victim of one.


Perhaps it was a mistake to leave the house last night, but I really couldn't stand sleeping in the filth and shit the banditos did to that house. Stacy didn't see what I saw in the back bedrooms, but it was brutal: Dead bodies stacked like cord wood. And now because of that decision, we need to safely approach the house and make sure it's clear again. All this without getting the hell blown out of us by an IED. So far the only safe places I know of are the paths leading to the front and back doors – but they are also perfect funnels of death. I know how the banditos took the house - they lost a crap load of men doing it and once the back door was blown (I think the sapper made a mistake when he wired the back door) they had access to the house.


I notice Stacy is still SLLSing when she asks me, "Ben you seem to be deep in thought, what's going on."


I explain everything to her and say, "I'm just trying to come up with the best plan on how to see if the house is clear."


She smiles at me and suggests, "I think we should do it cavalry style. How about if I ride up to the house on Knacker, stop sideways to the house at the front and start yelling. If someone shoots at me, I can duck behind Knacker and ride off. If they come out and chase me, then you can ride up on Bo like you did last night and shoot them."


I think for a couple moments and say, "I sure hate using you for bait again. If we keep it up sooner or later you're going to get caught."


She smiles at me and says, "Well if that happens then I know you will rescue me."


Yeah but that's not the sort of caught I meant, and she doesn't need to be intentionally scared, at least not right now. I think a bit more and say, "Okay I like this plan but it has one big flaw. What if the banditos don't go after the bait? So if no one fires at you, I will come up to the house on Bo and dismount. You will hold Bo while I use Knacker as a shield to approach the house."


She smiles and says, "I like that plan because I didn't think about them not chasing me but you're right. They might wait to see what happens."


I say, "Okay before we implement this OPPLAN, let's start your training for the day…"


Present – Stacy – First training lesson – Mental Preparation


Once again, Ben doesn't treat me like a teenager but lets me not only come up with the OPPLAN, he helps me to see the mistakes I made in my planning. If he keeps this up I might take advantage of him!


Then we start my first training lesson for today when Ben asks, "Stacy how are fights won?"


I think for a minute and respond, "By the person with the best guns."


He smiles and says, "Stacy that's the typical answer and just like many other times, the typical answer is wrong. Try again."


I think a bit longer and offer, "The next thing that comes to mind is by the biggest or strongest person, but I know that's also wrong so please tell me."


He says, "Stacy, fights are won in the mind! It's the person who is the most mentally prepared that will prevail in a fight. The weapons are just tools, it doesn't matter if you pick up a rifle or a pistol or a baseball bat or even a rock. The weapon cannot win the fight by itself, it's the preparation of the person wielding the weapon that is critical."


I reply, "Wow I was way off base in my thinking but now that you mention it I can see you're right. I mean we've had the better weapons in many wars but haven't won them. So does that mean we weren't mentally prepared?"


Ben says, "You must be thinking about Vietnam and the Sandbox. In both those cases our soldiers were for the most part prepared, it was and is the politicians that weren't and aren't mentally prepared to let us win the war. The one thing I can tell you without a doubt is that terrorists do not think like you or me; they see you and view you as a target or a victim, just a means to the end to bring about their social, political or religious changes. If you think you can reason with a terrorist, you're naïve and will become their next victim. Our politicians don't realize or see that."


He then continues with my training, "So tell me what was the biggest emotion you felt last night when we cleared the house."


I chimed right in, "It was fear - I was so scared I almost wet my pants."


Ben nods his head and says, "You're right, when you face an armed conflict the single most overriding emotion you will face is fear. Anyone who says they have no fear is either a liar or a fool because fear is a natural response and we need to teach you to make the fear you feel to be your friend. How you deal with and control fear is one of the biggest factors of whether or not you will survive the confrontation."


He pauses so I worry and ask, "So how do I learn to make fear my friend?"


He answers, "The best way to compensate or overcome your fear is by having confidence in your skills and knowing they will work in a dangerous situation. You develop and refine those skills through constant practice. Remember how hard it was to SLLS when I first taught you? Now since you've practiced it, you have become better at it. In fact even as I am teaching you I notice how well you're SLLSing."


I smile at him and say, "Thanks I have an excellent teacher, even if he's pretty old."


Ben chuckles but continues, "Stacy, there's a hierarchy of threat management that we need to teach you. First: Avoid the confrontation. We are in a war and for the most part this option is off the table. However, there are times, like when the OPFORs hugely outnumber us that this will be the only option we can take which will assure our survival.


I nod my head and respond, "That makes sense to me. But couldn't we have avoided the banditos in the house?"


He smiles and says, "Of course we could have but after I told you about what they did to the family and we both saw what they did to Knacker our emotions took that option off the table. Second: Try to evade the confrontation. If you're SLLSing and have good situational awareness of what's going on around you, then you can evade the situation. I sort of did this on the bus hijacking. I knew that avoidance was impossible so I evaded being captured on the bus. You wisely did the same thing later."


I smile at him and confirm, "I just asked myself what would Ben do and then did it."


He laughed and continues, "Finally: Counter the confrontation. If you can't avoid or evade the threat, then you have to counter the threat as vigorously as possible. It's not the time to play nice. You must think and act not only like the terrorist, you must become even more ruthless than the terrorist if you are going to beat them. Remember, confidence is everything!"


I reply, "Sort of like the old saying if he picks up a rock, I pick up a baseball bat?"


Ben surprises me when he emphasizes, "No it's more a situation where you shoot him before he even picks up the rock."


I think about what Ben has said when he asks, "How does this make you feel?"


I reply, "All that you've said makes sense to me. And I really know you're asking me once again if I could kill someone. I believe what you told me about how they think differently than we do. It's the only thing that makes sense for why they would act the way they do. So yes, if we were threatened and we couldn't avoid or evade the threat I would kill them."


He smiles at me and says with a pretty bad Asian accent, "You learn well young grasshopper. Now let's see how your OPPLAN works."


Present – Ben – Clearing the house – again


Stacy is impressive; she's a hell of a learner and pretty damn logical for a woman. She reminds me of a younger Ms. Donaldson without the annoyance of all the flirting. She did however mention taking advantage of me, which I nipped in bud.


I think I've created a monster, no not Stacy, Bo. He starts bothering me about the peanut butter out of my MRE so I load up a cracker, give it to him and he smacks his lips like crazy. Stacy watches and laughs, "That's still the funniest thing I've ever seen a horse do. But I'm glad the horses are getting something besides the grass they eat. We really need to see if there's some grain for them somewhere around the house." Then Patches starts to bother her and Stacy also loses her peanut butter. Yeah it's pretty damn funny to watch the horses react to the peanut butter.


I instruct Stacy, "One of the nice things about the M4 and AK platforms is they have a pistol grip. So, many of the firearm fundamentals you learned while firing your pistol you can use with your rifle."


She answers, "You're right, but I sure don't like the trigger on my AK."


I had checked her AK and nothing was wrong with the trigger. It's a battle rifle, not a sniper rifle so what it has is a perfectly normal trigger. Then I get an idea, "Stacy, I think I'm going to give you the M4 because it has a hell of a nice custom trigger and I will take your AK."


She's all excited as she erupts, "So I get the cool black rifle instead of this old beat up wooden one!"


I nod my head and answer, "You sure do, now come over here and let me show you how it operates." I take my time, especially with the ACOG sight, but Stacy catches right on.


I order, "Okay, SPORTS the M4."


She asks first, "Should I actually fire it? Won't it alert any banditos that might be in the house?"


I nod my head, "Yes fire at that small rock by the tree over there. And if it does alert them, then they might come outside to see what's going on."


I watch as she does and excellent but slightly slow job, then fires at the rock (which is only about fifteen feet away) - her shot is low. She complains, "Well the trigger is much better on this, and I thought I was aiming right at the rock, but my shot went low."


I smile at her and say, "Yes I knew it would. Look at how high the ACOG sight is above the barrel, that's called sight offset. With the normal open M4 sights, your shots will be about two inches low at ten to fifteen feet. With the ACOG on top of it your shots are going to be more like three inches low at the same distance."


I watch her think and she says, "So the AK didn't have this problem because the sights were right on the barrel. Does this mean I have to aim high on all my shots? If so what the heck is the scope good for?"


I answer, "Stacy, I really like how you're always thinking and I love the questions you ask. The ACOG is sighted in to one hundred yards which means if you hold the dot on the target at one hundred yards and do all the other rifle fundamentals correctly, you will hit exactly where you aim. The sight offset is a close range phenomena and gets less as you approach one hundred yards. Now on shots further than a hundred yards you have to aim higher than the dot. We will talk about this more later but for right now on anything close, like when we're clearing the house, you need to aim about two inches high. Now weapons check and it's time to roll."


I watch her perform her weapons check, then she looks at me and surprises the hell out of me when she says…


Present – Stacy – Clearing the house – again


The M4 is really a much nicer rifle than the AK and it doesn't even kick as much. I didn't tell Ben, because I don't want him to think I'm a sissy, but my shoulder is a little sore from last night. I SPORT the M4 look at Ben and say, "Semper Fi, do or die shot the bastards in the eye."


He chuckles and replies, "Semper Fi Stacy! That's not quite right but in this case it's probably better."


I hold out my fist, we bump fists, I look at him and say, "Watch my ass!"


Ben corrects me (even though it wasn't a mistake), "You mean cover your six."


I lie, "Yeah that's what I meant." I turn away and walk over to Knacker, knowing that after my not so subtle hint Ben is indeed watching my ass. I turn just to make sure he is (yes he is) and hop up on Knacker. Patches comes over, gives me a funny look, I stroke her on the neck and say, "It's okay Patches, I'll be riding you later.


I watch as Ben walks over to Bo, Bo kneels, Ben get on his back, Bo stands up and Ben says, "Okay remind me of the OPPLAN."


I recite, "I'm going to slowly approach the house while I SLLS for any movement. If I don't see anyone, then I stop Knacker at the far end of the path sideways to the house and call for help. If a bandito comes out, then I will slip off the side of Knacker away from the house and leave. If no banditos come out of the house, I wait for you to ride up with Bo and you will use Knacker as a shield and we will clear the house."


He smiles at me and says, "Good job. Now let's roll."


I correct him, "Don't you mean let's ride?"


Present – Ben – OPPLAN


Stacy hits the standoff position at the end of the path and yells, "Hello, is anyone home?" She waits a few moments and says, "Hello, is anyone in the house. I really need some help, I'm injured."


No one fires or comes out of the house so I ride up on Bo, bring Patches and say, "Stacy, I'm changing the OPPLAN, when I do this it's called a FRAGO for Fragmentary Order Change. Get off of Knacker with him between you and the house."


She does as ordered and I do the same, I move over beside her and say, "Okay, here's the FRAGO, I'm going to fire on the house."


She asks, "What will that do?"


I answer, "Well I don't know of many people, other than me, that would let someone fire at the house they're in without retaliation."


She says, "I bet your right."


I put my AK over Knacker's back and let fly, emptying a full mag less one shot into the house, then I do a tactical reload. We wait and nothing happens so I say…


Present – Stacy – Second training lesson – Ready positions


Ben says, "I don't think anyone is in the house, but I'm still using Knacker for a shield as I approach the porch."


I ask, "Should I cover you?"


Ben answers, "Yes but use your pistol and don't fire unless I actually go down."


I sling the M4 over my shoulder and pull my pistol. Ben notices and says, "Okay, we need to do some serious work on your tactical skills. When I get to the porch and make sure the living room is clear, haul your ass up onto the porch as quickly as possible."


I SLLS like crazy as Ben heads to the porch using Knacker as a shield, when he gets close enough to the porch he let's Knacker go and Knacker runs back to Bo and Patches. His ears are back. Now he's all upset so I stroke him as I continue to SLLS. I notice when Ben makes sure the living room is clear and signals for me. I run to the front porch and stand beside him. Ben says, "Okay Stacy, we're changing your role for this mission. You won't have to cover my six, because with the horses out here, they will raise hell if anyone comes up."


I interrupt, "Okay then what am I supposed to do?"


Ben answers, "You are going to watch how I clear this house."


I ask, "Should I use my rifle or pistol."


Ben answers, "Check your pistol and use it."


Ben begins my instruction, "Stacy, since you didn't get to see this last night, I want you to carefully observe the ready positions I use with my rifle and pistol while I clear the house and how I move. I will briefly tell you the name of each position, tell you why I'm using it and give the strengths and weaknesses of each."


He continues, "A ready position is the way that you hold your weapon when you are in a possible combat situation. No single ready position will work in every combat situation. That's why you need to learn all of them and then know which one to use in each circumstance because the positions are situational dependent. They are also similar between pistol and rifle, the biggest difference is there are only three rifle ready positions while there are four pistol ready positions."


I remark, "When I was taught to shoot pistol no one told me about ready positions, they made me concentrate on how I stood, how I held my pistol and how I squeezed the trigger."


Ben explains, "That's because they were teaching you how to shoot at targets and targets don't normally shoot back. I'm sure they taught you the Weaver or modified Weaver stance."


I answer, "Yes they did."


Ben answers, "Well in combat we don't have the luxury to place our feet in any particular stance. So we need to be able to fire with our feet in any position. However we still need to make sure to lean into the weapon."


I recite, "Yes, nose over toes."


Ben says, "That's right, nose over toes. Now watch me."


I watch Ben carefully as he pulls his pistol, holds it straight out in front like he's firing at someone and then lowers it towards the ground at a forty-five degree angle.  Then he moves it quickly back up to firing position and lowers it several times.


He says, "This is the most common ready position it's called the low ready position or guard position used by Jeff Cooper during his Modern Technique of the Pistol. You hold the muzzle of the gun down at a 45 degree angle from the eye-target line. It keeps the muzzle off the target and away from non-hostiles but also takes very little movement to bring the gun up on target. The problem is the gun gets heavy and you end up holding lower than you should, then you bring the gun up quickly and it's hard to stop in the exact position and get a quick shot, you almost always under or over travel."


I say and then immediately wish I hadn’t opened my mouth, "But on TV they always hold the gun upward towards the ceiling…"


Ben interrupts, "And they are wrong plus they are waving it all over the place in dramatic fashion. So then what do they do when they finally find a bad guy?"


I say, "They chamber a round."


Ben says, "So they go into a hostile situation with and unloaded weapon. Do you know what you call an unloaded weapon?"


I shake my head no. Ben answers, "You call it a club. If they did that in the real world they would be shot. Okay, watch me as I move into the house. "


I observe as he brings the rifle up to his shoulder, just like he's going to fire it then he angles the muzzle down towards the ground and turns his head from side to side and says, "This is called the low ready position for the rifle and is the one I use the most. You bring the weapon up on target and drop the muzzle until you can turn your head and look in any direction. The problem with this ready position is if your target is below you, your weapon will obscure the view of the target."


He continues, "Now I'm going to pie or slice the doorway."

I watch as he keeps his rifle in low ready position and slowly moves around the doorway. He reaches the other side of the doorway and says, "Okay, I'm entering the room and will traverse the room and stand with my back against the wall by the doorway into the kitchen. This location will give me the best view of living room and will provide me the best location to pie the kitchen. Once I'm against the wall, my focus will be on the outside doorway, you will come into the room, holding your pistol in the low ready position and head toward me while covering the kitchen door."


He does what he described. I can tell he's ready and head into the room, holding my pistol in the low ready position and cover the kitchen door. I reach the wall, turn, put my back against the wall and stand next to Ben.


He continues, "Normally you would cover the outside doorway we just came in. But since the horses are out there, I want you to watch me."


He pulls his rifle up to firing position then lowers it so it's still touching his shoulder and is facing the ground pointing just slightly across his body. Ben says, "This is called, indoor ready position you use it in a close tight area or where you don't want to show your gun around a corner and telegraph your position. You bring the gun up to your shoulder, then drop it so it's almost pointed at the ground but angled sideways across your body so you don't accidentally shoot your foot. Again it keeps the gun from preceding you around the corner. The problem is if someone is around the corner, you might not be able to get the gun on target without stepping back. In that case it might actually be better to use your handgun to clear the corner. Now I will pie the doorway to the kitchen."


I watch again as he carefully moves across the doorway, making sure not to expose too much of his body at once. It takes forever but he finally reaches the far side of the doorway and says, "I was able to pie most of the hallway to the bedrooms and the door to the utility room, that's why it took so long. I'm going to enter the room and then because I was able to pie the doorway to the hallway, I'm going to back into the corner just to the right of the doorway. Again, you would normally cover my six by keeping an eye on the outside door."


I ask, "Where should I go when I enter the room?"


He answers, I want you to face down the hallway, head towards the refrigerator and put your back up against the side of the refrigerator. This position will let you cover my six while I head down the hallway and will also keep you from being exposed to the utility room door."


After he takes his corner in the room, I quickly enter the room and take my position. I'm beginning to understand how this is all working; it's sort of like bounding overwatch on steroids. Ben moves up to my position, actually leans against me and says, "Okay we're going to clear the bedrooms and the bathrooms. You are to stay outside of the bedrooms. I will move adjacent to the doorway of the first bedroom, and this time you will SLLS and cover my six, because I'm just going to pie the doorways like you've already seen me do."


I say, "I bet you want me to cover your six because someone could come in the back of the house."


He says, "Yes, you're exactly right. Even though I'm sure no one's here, it doesn't mean someone can't show up and walk into the house."


This time I'm serious about SLLSing and I have no problem being bored! Ben says, "Stacy, you're in the best spot to cover my six, stay here while I clear the rest of the bedrooms. And watch how I switch from rifle to pistol."


I watch as his left hand stays on the forearm of the rifle with the barrel pointing towards the ceiling. He reaches back with his right hand, draws his pistol and remarks, "You switch to pistol when you're going into a very small and tight area because the length of a rifle then becomes a hindrance. However when you sling your rifle over your back, like you did earlier, you totally take the rifle out of service. We haven't talked about BUGs Back Up Guns, but for right now realize your pistol is the backup gun for your rifle - and the rifle, when you're using the pistol is the backup gun for your pistol. See how easily and quickly I switch between the two."


I observe as he switches between his rifle and his pistol quickly and with minimal movement. It's like watching – a ballerina! In fact the way Ben's moved through the house is like a dance – a deadly dance. I smile at him, touch his arm and say, "Ben, I bet you're a really good dancer because you move through this house just like you were dancing."


He looks at me and continues, "Remember when you practice your tactical skills, don't try to be fast because that will just slow you up; instead try to be smooth. If you're smooth the speed will naturally follow."


Ben switches to his pistol, keeps his rifle forearm in his left hand and moves down the hallway.


I take just a second to let my eyes linger on Ben as he leaves. I like this position, other than one thing, something smells really BAD! I mean like rip your eyeballs out through your nose BAD! And it's worse down the hallway where Ben went. He returns and brings even more of the nasty odor with him like a tail. I gag and say, "What's that smell."


Ben answers, "You don't really want to know. Okay the only room left is the utility room and I'm going to let you clear it so you're in charge."


I think for a moment and say, "Since you're watching my ass. You should be back in the corner you first came in. But I bet you should pie the refrigerator looking towards the utility room door first."


Ben answers, "That's close, but you're going to pie the refrigerator looking towards the door first while I cover your six down the hallway. Then you're going to pie the door leading into the living room while I cover your six from the hallway and utility room door, then you will move to the corner. Once you're in place then you will cover my six while I join you. Finally you will move across the room while I cover your six and take up a position beside the utility room door. Once you're there then I will join you. Remember this isn't a race, so take as much time as you need."


I do as told and reach the corner then Ben joins me. I say, "Cover my ass." And move adjacent to the utility room door and motion for Ben, he joins me, I pie the utility room and take up the far corner. Then I cover his six as he joins me and he says, "That was a very good job but you might have gone just a bit too fast."


Present – Ben – IED's


We're finished clearing the house. Stacy's looking pretty green and comments, "The smell coming from those back bedrooms…"


I was glad she didn't see what was inside. I interrupt, "Yeah I know, try not to think about it."


With the horses out front, I'm sure no one's entered the house so I say, "Let's head back out front so I can figure out the IED's." She needs something to take her mind off the smell so I state, "Stacy, you need to stand watch on the front porch while I try to figure out what triggers these IEDs."


She answers, "You'd better be careful! You already have one bad leg and I sure as heck don't have enough blood to give you if you blow up your other leg."


I chuckle to myself: Women are all the same since they love to boss men around - yet one more reason why Bo is better than a woman. I reply, "Are you still feeling some effects from Dorothy taking too much blood?"


She answers, "Yeah just a little bit."


I remind her, "Make sure to stay hydrated and it will help."


I drop all my gear on the porch except for one AK, walk down the front path and find the spot from last night where Stacy shot. I see two small craters in the ground and in the daylight I can see there's a two by four on its side with holes in it that hold the shotgun shells – now this is interesting.


I squat beside the sidewalk and hear Bo making some noise. I look over and see he's snorting and pawing the ground. Stacy says, "Bo says doesn't like what you're doing any better than I do." I decide that I was wrong; sometimes Bo is just like a woman.


I ignore all the distractions, lie on the path, pull out my Ka-Bar (I'm sure as hell not getting my hands anywhere close to the IEDs) and begin to probe the ground. I easily define the edges of the two by four and then the top of a shotgun shell. Well, so far I haven't blown the hell out myself, that's a good sign!


Present – Stacy – OPPLAN


I'm not sure which one of us is more worried about Ben, me or Bo. Ben's messing with the IEDs, Bo's stamping the ground and snorting, and I need to pee! What the heck is it about fighting that makes me want to pee so often! It's really annoying and makes it hard to SLLS.


I'm trying my best to SLLS and not just watch Ben - it's the hardest thing I've ever done. I hear a noise to the right, I look over and see it's just a squirrel then I hear a bang and Ben yells!


I run off the porch towards Ben, see Bo headed up the path from the other direction and demand, "Ben are you hurt?"


He jumps up laughs and says, "Hell no, I'm fine! I triggered that shotgun shell myself after cutting the top off and taking out all the buck shot. This guy was a fucking genius."


I complain, "You should have warned me before you did that. You almost scared the pee out of me."


He scratches Bo to calm him and I secretly wish he'd hug me to help calm my beating heart. He says, "Sorry about that. But I've figured out how they are triggered and now I just need to find a way to turn them off. If you need a bathroom break, I will stand watch until you get back."


I respond, "Thanks." And head down the path and across the road towards the bushes.


Ben asks, "You do remember there are toilets in the house don't you?"


I reply, "And after what the banditos did in there. I sure and heck won't use them. I'd probably catch something."


Ben laughs as I walk away…


Present – Ben – IEDs


Damn, Stacy has to pee more than anyone I've ever known. It must be her reaction to fear and I sure hope it ends soon because we're not stopping for her to pee all the time.


Yeah this sapper was a genius about how he setup these shotgun shell IEDs. The whole IED consists of two 2 X 4s setting on top of each other with about an eighth of an inch gap between them. The top 2 X 4 has holes drilled every twelve inches apart just the size of the shotgun shell case. The bottom 2 X 4 has nails protruding right at the primers of the shotgun shells. When I first discovered this I thought that wow it's going to take a lot of pressure to deflect the top 2 X 4 enough to set off the shotgun shell. But as I dug out the dirt and probed some more, I found the wires…


Yeah a common wire attached to the metal base of each shotgun shell and also a different common wire attached to each nail. The sapper had reloaded the shotgun shells with electric primers. Now where the hell did he get those since they're hard as hell to get? And an even bigger question, where the hell is his reloading equipment?


So it only takes about fifteen pounds of pressure to trigger his IED whereas if he had left the normal primers in the shotgun shells I'm not sure they would have triggered at all. And somewhere there has to be a kill switch to turn them off. Now finding the switch becomes my highest priority.


I continue to SLLS and ponder as Stacy walks up. She says, "Sorry I bitched at you before, when you set off the IED, but you really scared me."


I apologize, "No you were right, I should have warned you first and I won't make that mistake again."


She smiles and asks, "So is everything safe?"


I reply, "Not yet, they are triggered electrically but I don't have any idea where the switch is to turn them off."


She points to the power pole and says, "Can't you just shut down all the power?"


I look at the location of the pole and answer, "Well if I could get to the pole I probably could. But I'm not sure I could get there without setting off an IED. We can try all the circuit breakers in the house, but I'm sure they're not on a circuit breaker. If they were they'd pop the breaker every time you set one off. Would you take Bo back by the other horses and stand watch while I go shut of the circuit breakers?"


She smiles at me and says, "You bet, I'll watch your ass."


I remind her again, "That's cover my six."


Present – Stacy – SLLSing again!


No Ben's wrong this time, I meant what I said and take a short break from SLLSing to watch his ass as he walks into the house – very nice - now I can cover his six!


It seems as if I'm either scared as heck (even going into the house to clear it again had me scared) or I'm SLLSing and fighting boredom. I wonder if this is what war is like all the time or if I get stuck SLLSing because I'm practically still a civi? I'm a little hungry so I check my watch and wonder where the heck the morning went since it's already lunch time. I've been eating like a horse lately and I hope I'm not getting fat. I reach down, pull up my shirt and check: Oh wow! Where did that six pack come from? I pinch and can barely grab anything at all – whew, I guess I'm not getting fat. I continue standing watch, pull out a couple of MREs and start 'cooking' them. I'm sure getting tired of MREs; too bad Ben's 'cooking' destroyed the kitchen, otherwise I'd whip us up a real meal.


Ben comes back out of the house and describes his actions, "I've killed the main power." He notices I'm making MREs and says, "Thanks, I was getting hungry. Now I'm going to mess around with the IEDs like I did before, if I set one off, don't be scared and make sure you hold onto Bo."


I answer, "Thanks for the warning this time." And I continue to SLLS.


Ben's digging around in the dirt again and announces, "Okay, I'm going to see if killing the main breaker worked."


There's a big bang and I answer, "Well I guess it didn't. Why don't you leave it for now and come and get some lunch."


He walks up, I hand him his MRE, open mine and he says, "Thanks for making the MREs." Then gives me a peculiar smile…


Present – Ben – Lunch


I grin and watch Stacy closely. She takes a bite of her MRE, spits it out and yells, "Oh my God! That is the nastiest food I've ever eaten."


I start laughing, "Yep, you finally chose the worst MRE ever made - country captain chicken.


She responds, "It… it… it's not even edible."


I answer, "Here take mine and I will fix this up and eat it because we don't throw away food during a war."


I take it and begin to doctor it up, but this time I don't have any wine so while it will be better, it won't be perfect.


I decide I don't like standing around in the open so I say, "You know, let's not just stand around and do nothing while we're eating, one of the things we learned in the Sandbox was if you stood around in the open you became a target. Let's head around back and take a look at the barn. I hope it's not as fucked up as the house."


We head around back, making sure to stay on the path with the horse entourage following us. As we approach 'the barn' I realize it isn't a barn at all. Stacy notices too and asks, "That's the funniest looking barn I've ever seen. It looks more like a bomb shelter."


I nod my head and say, "That's because it's not a barn, it's a bunker." Seeing the bunker reminds me of what Jens, I mean Ms. Donaldson did when she repaired my cabin after the fucking terrorists blew it to hell. She did a hell of a nice job fixing things up. You know I really need to get back to my cabin since I have some 'things' buried that might come in handy. Oh well, that will have to wait while I have a bunker to break into.


I look at the door and realize this isn't going to be easy. I observe…


Present – Stacy – 'The barn'


Ben says, "Stacy, the banditos tried like hell to get into this bunker but failed. Look they even shot at the door and the lock and couldn't get in."


I blurt out without thinking, "Well how come shooting the door didn't work, it does on the TV shows I've seen."


Ben answers, "Stacy, don't believe anything you see on TV. If we believe what's on TV then because you're a teenager you'd have to be a whiny annoying bitch instead of a beautiful and smart young lady. In the Sandbox we carried shotguns with special breeching rounds to open doors and they worked on most doors, but this door is a thick steel door and they wouldn't even begin to open this door."


Is it possible to feel stupid and excited at the same time? I really put my foot in my mouth with the TV question, but again Ben informed me of my mistake without making me feel like a total idiot, then he said I was 'beautiful and smart?' Perhaps my ass comments are starting… No now's not the time so I push the thoughts out of my mind, notice Ben is pulling something out of his evade pack and ask, "Well then how are we going to get into the barn – I mean bunker?"


Ben keeps examining the lock. He has a huge ring of keys in his hand and he explains, "Well, if the banditos haven't fucked up the lock too much and if I have a key to fit it, then I'm going to bump the lock. But before I start, you need to take the horses and move to the side of the house.


I don't understand so I ask, "First, what is bump the lock – is that some sort of new dance? And second why do you want me to move the horses over to the side of the house."


Ben says, "If you have the right key, you can open virtually any lock in about thirty seconds, by taking that special key, called a bump key, inserting it into the lock and tapping the key lightly with something while you turn the key. And with this guy being a sapper, I can't be sure the bunker isn't booby trapped so I want you and the horses a safe distance away."


Doh! What's happened the last few minutes? I've been having huge blonde moments and started asking stupid questions. Once again Ben doesn't make fun of me – oh shoot – I know why, I've been distracted with my fantasies and haven't even been SLLSing I wonder if Ben's noticed. Now that's the most stupid blonde question ever, Ben notices everything! I say preemptively, "Ben, I want to apologize for the last ten minutes. I've been distracted, asked silly questions and haven't even been SLLSing."


He simply says, "Yeah I noticed you were distracted, it occasionally happens and I've had your six while you were wool gathering. But I'm glad you're back because I need you. Now move your ass and the horses over by the side of the house."


I smile and respond, "Yes Sir! Thanks for watching my ass." And begin heading towards the side of the house with the horses.


Ben reminds, "That's your six."


And I think, no that's my ass and I know you're watching it. With everything blowing up around here, I'm really concerned as I lead the horses to the side of the house and wonder why the heck we just don't leave this place. But I'm not about ready to ask yet one more stupid question…


Present – Ben – The Bunker


Damn! Sneaky assed women, I should have known better! I finally figure out that Stacy is using not so subtle subliminal suggestions because she wants me to watch her ass. Which I have to admit is a pretty nice ass. In fact it may even be better than Ms. Donaldson's ass. Now that's an image: Stacy and Ms. Donaldson having an ass off! My fantasy quickly descends…. No I need to put those sorts of thoughts out of my mind…


Damn! She has feelings for me! I think back and try to remember when it started and can't. I will need to fix this problem before it gets worse, but first I need to see if I can get into this bunker. No one builds a bunker like this, unless they have something of great value to protect and I want to know what that something is.


I do have a bump key for this lock. I make sure Stacy and the horses are what I hope is a safe distance from the bunker, insert the key in the lock and tap the key on the back as I wiggle it in the lock. The key turns – the bunker is unlocked. Now for the dangerous part! There's no way in hell to figure out if this bunker is a death trap with me playing the part of death. I get an idea…


I take the cord out of my evade pack, tie it to the door handle, stand on the side of the door away from the way it swings open, with my back pressed against the wall, and slowly pull on the cord. As the door swings open, I hold my breath and listen to see if an alarm beeps…


Present – Stacy – The Barn


I continue to SLLS and also watch Ben open the door. I'm impressed and feel much better when he stands to the side of the door and uses a rope to open it. I figure it's safe, start heading back towards Ben with the horses when Ben yells, "Stacy, stay where you're at with the horses."


I stop, start to ask him why, when… holy frack!!!!