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Fiction – Ruth’s Story #42 Stuck guarding the convoy while the boys are still searching the barricade on Lake City Way

June 6, 2012

Jamal moves up to kneel beside me. “Young man you had better come out from underneath that vehicle. Come out slowly and do not make any sudden moves or my friend here is likely to shoot you.”

The young boy has fine sandy brown hair a little too long that needs either a good combing or a cut not sure which. He looks at Jamal and I with large sky blue eyes in a wide freckled face.

“They ate, Samson and then lied to me about it. My mother and big sister are gone. You’re not gonna tell them I snuck out are ‘ya?”

“Young man, come here and talk to us. Please tell us what is going on. Samson was a dog I assume.”

“You know about that?” The boy seems surprised.

“We just recently found out ourselves.”

Jamal talks like he has the patience of a saint. I would have used plenty of curse words and commanded the little bastard to come out from under the truck. Kids always freak me out. I cannot handle how they are positive little shitty monsters that you want to run over with a tank one moment and the sweetest darlings the next moment. My youngest sister has (had) several children that I never got to meet. I always figured some day I would, but I guess that day is now passed.

The young boy starts to slide out from underneath the Humvee about the same time that the female wheeled vehicle mechanic wakes up and sees us kneeling by her vehicle talking to someone.

Before I can signal her to stay put, she whips the Humvee driver’s armored door open which of course happens to catch the kid in the side of the head. While it may have looked like a glancing blow, the impact lays the kid out flat on the asphalt.

“Who the fuck is that?” The wheeled mechanic yells pointing at the bleeding young boy lying at her feet.

“We are not sure yet, Mal, but we were trying to find that out until you knocked him cold.” Jamal seems slightly disappointed and concerned at the same time.

So the female mechanic’s name is Mal, I wonder if that is short for something. She does not look too worse for the wear considering what we ate for lunch. She looks more distressed though over the fact that she whacked a kid with her door than the fuckers who tried to poison us.

Jamal drops to the young man’s side and checks his pulse and lifts an eyelid. Pulling a pen light out of his right breast pocket, he looks into the boy’s eyes doing the standard light reflex test for concussion.

“Is he Ok?” Mal seems worried.

“Mal, it does not look as if you did any permanent damage. He has a slight laceration in his scalp. He is malnourished and needs some personal hygiene but otherwise seems healthy. Mal help me carry him to my car. Ruth please provide escort.”

Jamal turns the young man over, and I can see how painfully thin his legs and arms are. The boy also has an unusually sallow, yellowish cast to his skin with numerous bruises. Jamal takes the boy’s shoulders, and Mal takes his legs and they start carrying him towards the colonel’s VW station wagon. I notice the young man is not wearing socks. He is wearing scuffed and ripped one red and one black high topped canvas Reebok shoes.

Jamal and Mal lay the child on the ground beside the VW. Jamal opens the rear hatch and rummages around a bit. He comes out with a small medical kit and kneels down beside the boy. Jamal places an O.D. green, generic self-adhesive, small sterile dressing over the cut on the boy’s head. It would be too simple for the US Army to just buy Band-Aids.

Jamal starts speaking but from the cadence of the words I think he is praying or talking to himself. From the pace, and measure of his words it certainly sounds as if Jamal is praying. Several of the words are in Arabic, but I am guessing that he is speaking Moroccan Arabic, which has some, similarities to the Middle Eastern dialect that I speak.

“Jamal are you praying?” I ask him. I suppose I could have asked him in Arabic as most people from Morocco speak one or more dialects of Arabic, as well as French, Berber and English.

“Yes I was praying for the young boy. My family is Coptic Christian, one of the many reasons for which my family left Morocco.”

I turn and look at the female wheeled mechanic who is standing beside us with her arms crossed. I notice she has her solid O.D. green coveralls unzipped to her belt revealing her solid dark brown tee-shirt underneath.

“So Mal is that short for something?” I ask her. I also notice that she does not have a weapon on her that I can see.

“It’s short for Mallory.” She answers. “Hey I am really not feeling good, do ya’ mind if I go back to the Hummer and sleep some more?”

I look down at the kneeling Jamal, as I believe the question was more directed at him than towards me.

“Sure Mal, go back and lay down. If you need anything come and see me.” Jamal seems distracted by his new patient and does not cease his examination of the young boy to look at either Mal or I.

“So Doc how is your patient.” I ask Jamal.

“Well other than needing a bath and a clean change of clothes, he is malnourished but not to the extent yet to threaten his life. I want to give him a general vitamin shot but, without permission from his parents, I should not.”

“He said something about his mother and big sister being gone. I wonder if he meant dead, or went somewhere.”

“Umm, yes Ruth, I was considering the possibility of exactly what the young man meant.”

“Doc, are you going to wake him up.”

“No I do not want to force him awake. I will wait for him to come around on his own. Without any modern machines, like an MRI, I cannot be sure there are not any injuries.”

Jamal goes gets up and goes to the back of the VW station wagon. He rummages around until he finds a medium-sized black nylon bag. Unzipping the bag Jamal pulls a US Army-style ECWS sleeping bag out and unfurls it on the ground beside the kid.

“Ruth, please help me lift him onto the bag.”

I help Jamal lift the young boy up and then lay him gently on top of the sleeping bag.

“I am going to walk around the convoy and make sure no other visitors are present.”

“Ok Ruth be careful and make sure you have your radio.”

I pat my right side making sure the Motorola radio is still in the magazine pouch on my old pistol belt. While the pouch was originally designed to hold M16 magazines, it holds a large, bulky radio just fine.

As I slowly walk north along the line of vehicles, I pass a couple of man holes plates. I notice the man holes are securely welded shut. That was smart as it prevents invaders using the sewers to enter the barricade.

Eventually I reach the first vehicle in the convoy, the faithful snow plow. It seems like forever since I met up with Rick. I hear pitiful retching coming from the back of the snow plow, so I am guessing our ill civilians are holed up there.

Climbing on the side of the snow plow cab and looking inside I see the woman with the S&W 686 pistol stretched out flat across the bench seat. She looks asleep, but the plastic grocery sack clutched in a death grip in her hands indicates she must be ill, as well. I do not see the two young girls.

When I step down from the cab someone grabs me from behind putting his hand over my mouth and slapping the pistol out of my hand. My pistol bangs against the side of the snow plow with a thunk and then falls to the ground with a rattle. My fault for limp-wristing my pistol in a lazy one-handed grip.

“How abouts you and me gets acquainted” He asks me with foul breath that makes my eyes water. Now that, this person is so close to me, I can smell the waves of body odor coming off of him.

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8 Comments
  1. John permalink

    Great way to finish. Now how about a move by move description of a Krav Maga counter attack that incorporates her SOG folder?

    • John some of which you ask will be in the next segment.

  2. Helios permalink

    Lets see some Mossad close combat techniques next!

    • Coming up …

  3. “Stuck” is the key word in the last two titles – the story needs to move on. However, there’s still enough to keep my attention.

    • Very perceptive Jake

      • Johannes Barkmann permalink

        And it looks like the story is still stuck at the barricade. I enjoy the endings which leave us looking forward to the next chapter (whenever that’ll be), but sometimes it’s like plodding along with too much detail. I am curious about the boy, but wonder about the future. I’d like to hear the characters talk a bit about what they expect of the future. Are they planning to set up their own society up north, or are they just escaping the zombie horde? If just escaping, then the barricade should do for quite awhile (which is what I’m afraid of, because it appears that the story is indeed “stuck” at the barricade).

      • Johannes you bring up some good questions, and some of your questions will be answered in the next few chapters. The story is indeed stuck at the barricade for now.

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