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Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Break - Chapter 35

Chapter 35

As Ronnie and Annie walked hand and hand away from GM place, they did not have a specific destination. They simply wanted to spend time together. They walked in silence for a few minutes. It was as if they needed to feel each other presense before they would be able to talk about it. The it they needed to talk about was where they were headed. They both knew how they felt about each other. Addtionally, they were fairly positive how the other felt. The decision they were about to make was what they were going to do about it. Just as Ronnie was about to break the ice, he was interupted.

"Feel the need for weed, eh?" A passerby said quietly, but loud enough for Ronnie and Annie to hear.

The entire eight seconds that the man waited for a response, he looked around nervously. It seemed like the first time he had ever asked anyone the question.

"No thanks, dude." Ronnie responded with a little chuckle.

He and Annie shared an amused look. It wasn't everyday that some one walks up to you and asks if you would like to purchase drugs.

"C'mon everyone from the states wants BC bud." He continued. "That's why your here, eh?"

"No, sorry." Ronnie continued. "Where the hell were you when I used to smoke, dude."

The statement took the would-be sales person completely off guard. It was as if he couldn't comprehend the fact that some one that had once indulged in herbal pleasure could ever give it up.

"No shit, you quit smoking?" He asked as he stated at Ronnie in disbelief. "Why?"

"Huh? You taking a survey or something." Ronnie asked sarcastically.

"No, I just never met anyone that quit before, eh." He responded incredulously.

Once again, Ronnie and Annie looked at each other. Ronnie saw that Annie was smiling. It was such a surreal situation, that they were both greatly amused by it. It was as if ridculusness of the situation was allowing them to relax and feel more comfortable with each other. Annie gave him a smile and shrugged her shoulders as if to say, why not?

“It’s true.” Ronnie said. “Some people have quit. It messes up my playing.”

“Come again. Playing?” He asked still unable to fully process the heresy he was hearing.

“Yeah, I’m in a band.” Ronnie responded.

“A band, eh.” The man continued. “Have I ever heard of you?”

Both Ronnie and Annie found this question particularly humorous.

“Any idea how funny that sounded?” Ronnie asked the man.

“What? Oh, yeah.” He responded. “Sorry, I mean. What band?”

“The band’s called Ratdick.” Ronnie said. “We’re playing ...”

But the man wasn’t listening any more. He was searching the other side of the street as if he was looking for some one. Suddenly, his eyes landed on their target.

“Hey, Hanzie.” He yelled as he cupped his hand around his mouth to amplify the sound of his voice. “Hanzie, come here. This guy is from Ratdick.

“Oh, so you have heard of us?” Ronnie asked slyly.

“Heard all about you.” The man responded jovially. “Hanzie and I got tickets.”

Just as he said it, Hanzie joined them.

“Hey, it is you.” Hanzie said. Then he turned to his friend. “Yo, Mac, this is the lead singer I told you about.”

Hanzie’s loud pronouncement was heard by several others nearby. They walked over to see this singer Hanzie had been ranting about all day.

“I seen you guys in Seattle last night.” Hanzie declared louding to ensure that everyone heard. “It was kick ass. You guys really rock.”

Soon several other passers by stopped to see what was happening. Soon, several people starting asking Ronnie questions. Quickly, this was escalating beyond the humorous little interlude it started to be. Ronnie felt the growing crowd crushing in on him, but he couldn’t see a way out. Annie sensed Ronnie’s unease. Free from the focus of attention on her, she was able to able to see an exit from their situation.

“This is great.” Annie said loudly interrupting a questioner. “But we have a dinner reservation, right Ronnie.”

“Uh, right...” Ronnie stammered.

Annie took him by the arm and pulled him toward an alley. Hurrying to get away from the crowd, Annie began laughing. She continued to laugh until the exited the other side of the alley.

“What’s so funny?” Ronnie asked.

“Nothing is funny.” Annie explained. “Just a release. Oh my god! Is that what it feels like?”

“Huh?” Ronnie asked.

“Is that the feeling you get when you are playing?” Annie asked. “With all those people watching?”

“Well, yeah ... I guess so.” He responded. “But that got a little creepy, ya know.”

“Not for me, but then again not everyone was looking at me and asking all those questions.” Annie continued. “The energy that built up was just awesome. It’s weird.”

“I know.” Ronnie said. “At a show, it’s like I ... well ... I mean ... I like expect it. But today, shit. That’s never happened before.”

For a moment, they paused and looked deeply into each other’s eyes.

“It was kinda cool.” Annie said absently without looking away from Ronnie.

“Yeah...cool.” He said without knowing that the words had left his mouth. After a pause, he said what he really meant. “I love you.”

He saw the jump in her eyes when she heard the words. It was doubly intense because she knew he meant it. She opened her mouth as his lips descended to hers. They kissed long and deep right there on the street.

“Hmmmm.” Annie moaned appreciatively. “That was nice.”

“Yeah, it was.” Ronnie said. “I am so glad you are here.”

“Me, too.” Annie said. “And I meant that for both. I’m glad to be here and I love you, too.”

They kissed again.

“I’m hungry.” Annie giggled when their lips parted. “And thirsty.”

“Me, too.” Ronnie responded. “And I meant that for both.”


As soon as he could, Schneider hurried off to the meeting place. His commanding officer would be waiting. Schneider hoped he would understand. Leaving any sooner would compromise the mission he had to see that. The nervousness was building inside him. Schneider began to feel himself slipping away. Then the strong voice inside began to tell him to suck it up. Come on, listen to that voice he told himself. Choking back the bile in his throat, he knew there was only one way yo go - forward.

A soldier never stops. If you stop, your dead or worse. Good things don’t come to those that hesitate. He learned that at basic. He lived it in Vietnam. He suffered unimaginable pain and heartache when he ignored his training in the past. It would not happen on this mission. This mission was moving forward and he would complete it. Whatever it was.

Hustling through Stanley Park, he saw his commanding officer sitting at the designated park bench. Even though he had never been in Vancouver before, Schneider knew the city well. Since their first meeting, Schneider had not slept for more than two hours a stretch. Commandeering Ronnie’s computer while the others slept, he spent hours electronically reconnoitering the path they would be taking over the next three weeks.

The first thing he had done was study the general location of every where they were going. Then he would dig down to the most minute detail possible for each of their stopping points. His mind was as sharp as it had been in years. One of his greatest skills was his ability to read a topographical map and instantly understand the actual geography of the area. Actually, when he was in the Army he was recognized one of the most talented individuals in this regard.

Just as Schneider was about to walk directly to report, a thought struck him. Instantly, he saw his path. Silently, he started to circle around behind his mentor. Suddenly, he stopped dead in his tracks. He was on the exact corse he should take according to his training. It was direct from the front nor was it directly from the rear. It was from the side that had a little rougher terrain giving the target a false sense of security that an attack wouldn’t come from that direction.

However, that is what he was taught to do. It is what his commander would expect him to do. As he began to plan a different route, the thought stuck him that his commander would know what he was thinking. Should he do what the training called for or should he change routes. Now he understood the chess match. He knew his commander chose this particular bench as a test. The realization almost froze him in his tracks. But once again, it came down to the training. Move and move now. Schneider made his decision.

It took him several more minutes to get in position. This move never would have worked in the day time or on a night with more than half a moon. Luckily, it was late in the evening of a new moon. His current position was twenty five feet directly in front of his commander and he knew he hadn’t been detected. Then he saw his opportunity, his commander turned his head slightly to the heavy underbrush to his right.

Before Ian knew it, Schneider was sitting on the bench next to him. He was completely taken aback for the second time today.

“Hello, sir.” Schneider said confidently without appearing cocky.

“Evening, soldier.” Ian said genuinely pleased that his soldier had recognized the test and excelled at the execution. “Nice work.”

“Thank you, sir.” Schneider responded.

“You’re late.” Ian said returning to his stern tone.

“Respectfully, sir.” Schneider started. “I am not late. My orders were to meet you here when I was able to do so without arousing the suspicion of the civilians. I came as soon as the rehearsal ended.”

Quickly, he consulted his watch.

“Which was exactly thirty-three minutes ago, sir” Schneider stated crisply.
Ian smiled. This was going much better than he could have expected. His man had travel a little over three miles on foot and staged a better than text book approach to a target. Then it hit him. It was imperative that he keep this weapon under control. Frank was dangerous and not just to the general public. He was dangerous to Ian. Even though he was getting older, Ian wasn’t sure if he was a good as Frankie was when he was in his prime. It was a startling revelation. He, who had fought the best of the NVA, survived twenty years in the gulag, fought the drug wars in Afghanistan, embarrassed the Russians in Chechnya, had met his match in a stoner-nut case of his own creation.

“Right.” Ian agreed authoritatively. “Keep up the good work. Did you pick up the package?”

“Yes, sir.” Schneider responded. “Additionally, I have secured the other materials so that they will not be discovered at our next border crossing or inadvertently by one of the civilians.”

“Good work..” Ian said. “Any news on logistics?”

“Yes, sir.” Frankie responded. “We have additional dates scheduled in California and an appearance on “The Tonight Show”.

“Excellent. Excellent.” Ian nodded his head approvingly. “These boys are making a name for themselves.”

“Yes, sir.” Schneider agreed. “If I may, sir?”

“Feel free, soldier.” Ian granted.

“Any word on the mission, sir?” Schneider asked tentatively. “I mean, what’s the target.”

“All in due time, soldier.” Ian said soothingly. “All in due time.”

<<< Chapter 34

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