Saturday, July 15, 2017

Ragnarok On Flanders Street by Harold A. Covington

This is personally probably my favorite chapter of the book (chapter 15/XV) "Ragnarok On Flanders Street." This is an excerpt towards the end of that chapter.

Kicky slid through the 13th Avenue intersection, and through the open driver’s side window of the Escalade she saw Andy McCafferty standing on the left-hand side of the street, below the white-trimmed bay window of some gentrified red brick yuppie loft apartments. He stared at her, his face carefully blank, and he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a radio.
No, she thought suddenly, with pure and overpowering clarity. No.
There was an opening in the oncoming traffic in the left lane, and without any further thought, Kicky turned the wheel and hit the gas. The Escalade roared across the street, slammed into McCafferty, and crushed him like a bug against the apartment wall. He died instantly.
“What the fuck?” exclaimed Cat-Eyes Lockhart from where he reclined in the back seat. “What the hell are you doing?” Wingo shouted at Kicky, stunned.
“COPS!” screamed Kicky at the top of her voice.
“Cops! It’s a trap! They’re all around

us!” She reversed the Escalade, hit the gas and roared back into the street tailgate first. Wingo looked up to see the armored personnel carrier for Delta One team turning into Flanders Street from Twelfth Avenue.
“Shit!” he shouted. He yelled into the phone, “They’re onto us! Ambush on Flanders! Beat feet! Kicky, go down 13th and head back toward the interstate, not toward the river, so we can try to lose them! Cat, heads up, see if you can spot any copters overhead!”
“Everett’s clear!” called out one of the Things. “I don’t see anything. Can you get up on Everett? We’ll block for you if they pursue.”
Kicky peeled into the intersection in reverse, trying to turn the vehicle around, but she was against the light, and she slammed into a brown UPS delivery truck coming down 13th Avenue, and the heavy armored SUV knocked the top-heavy delivery vehicle over onto its side. The street was full of screaming people, and 13th Avenue was now blocked going both ways by lunch-hour traffic, cars that were simply abandoned and left standing by their drivers who jumped out and fled for cover. The overturned UPS truck blocked the way back down Flanders as well. Behind the brown obstacle one of the vehicles stuck in the jam was the white CNN van.

They had lost the police convoy at a light and had been driving around trying to find them again. True to their craft, Cassie Ransome, her cameraman and her driver jumped out and ran toward the intersection where the noise was coming from. The three Volunteers were boxed in, and Wingo could see several heavily armed SWAT team members lumbering out of the APC. From up the street came the first rattle of M-16 fire, bullets slamming into the bulletproof glass of the windshield. “Cat, Kicky, bail! We have to get out of here on foot!” shouted Wingo, leaping out of the passenger side of the Escalade. He snapped out the folding stock on his Kalashnikov, covered behind the door of the SUV, took aim and began firing short, controlled bursts. “I’ll keep their heads down!” he yelled. “You guys beat feet!”
“I’ll do more than keep their damned heads down, I’ll blow a few of ‘em off!” Cat-Eyes Lockhart yelled back. He was out the back of the SUV and he swung himself up onto the roof of the vehicle in one smooth motion, snapped down the bipod on the .50-caliber Barrett, and sighted in. He pulled the trigger, flame vomited from the Barrett’s muzzle, a mighty roar echoed from the buildings, and up the street a SWAT man went flying back through the air, his feet leaving the ground. Lainie Martinez and Jamal Jarvis had struggled into their body armor and were now out on the street. Lainie kneeled and fired her M-16 and Jarvis stood over her, blazing away with his. Chief Linda Hirsch was jumping up and down for a bit, then leveling her Armalite and firing a wild burst, then jumping up and down some more while she screamed dementedly in Yiddish. The street sounded like the inside of a garbage can or a metal locker that was being beaten with sticks by a troop of demented monkeys.
Kicky pulled out the .38 snub she had been given and was about to exit the passenger side door of the Escalade, when Detective Luis Hermosa leaped at her through the open window of the SUV, screaming obscenities in Spanish, with his Glock in his right hand, trying to shoot Wingo with the pistol while grabbing at Kicky with his left hand. Kicky jammed the .38 into him and fired, but the Mexican’s Second Chance vest stopped the slug even at point blank range, although the impact made him scream with rage and pain. “Puta blanca!” he roared, clubbing at her with the barrel of the automatic, knocking the baseball cap off her head and the sunglasses off her face, holding her hair bunched in his fist and trying to bang her head against the steering wheel. He fired the Glock several times wildly into the seat and through the opposite window, while Kicky screamed and tried to get the .38 up high enough to shoot again, but the steering wheel was in the way and she couldn’t think coherently.
Special Agent Elliott Weinstein pulled his unmarked FBI car up behind the Rapid Response Team’s APC, parked in the 12th Avenue intersection, and started honking the horn. Farley had finally managed to persuade him that while driving into an NVA firefight it was not a good idea to have the car window with its bulletproofed tinted glass rolled down, but now Weinstein rolled the window down again and leaned out yelling, “Goddamit, what’s going on! Get out of my way! Where is that bitch Linda Hirsch? Farley, can you see anything?”
“Uh, no,” said Farley, who heard the gunshots and decided he was remarkably uncurious as to what was going on around the corner on Flanders Street. Damn, I need a drink! he thought, with a longing touch of his jacket where he kept the little flask he dared not bring out in Weinstein’s presence.
“Well, get the hell out and see!” raved Weinstein.
“Uh, didn’t Chief Hirsch say something about a terrorist on a motorbike?” asked Farley.

“Yeah. So?” demanded Weinstein. Farley pointed. Weinstein turned to his left and saw a Suzuki bike with a man in leather and denim on it, not two feet away from his face, wearing a closed helmet with the visor down.
“Package for you,” said the rider. “Sign here, please.” He reached over and flipped a hand grenade into the car; both FBI men could see the spoon pop and twirl away as the grenade rolled under the seat. The biker whirled and tore off back down the sidewalk, bypassing the backed-up traffic. Weinstein screamed like a woman and Farley bellowed mindlessly as both men clawed at their Bureau-mandated seatbelts, trying to get them unbuckled, but the grenade went off with a whump, the car leaped several feet into the air as the armored chassis neatly contained the force of the explosion mostly inside it, and then settled down into a smoldering piece of junk with crimson goo smeared all over the windshield and the interior. Elliott Weinstein’s head was later found in the gutter across the street.
Back at the Escalade, Kicky was still wrestling frantically with the infuriated Hermosa, but finally she managed to jam the muzzle of the .38 between his frothing lips and clattering teeth and pull the trigger with a kind of mushy sound. Even with all the noise, she could still hear the splatter of his brains and blood as they hit the sidewalk. Hermosa’s Glock dropped into her lap, and he slid down out of sight to the ground beside the driver’s door. Kicky McGee never remembered thereafter what prompted her to do what she then did; it just seemed to happen, with no coherent thought on her part. Without hesitating for a fraction of a second, she leaned her left arm against the side of the driver’s door, jammed the muzzle of the revolver into the flesh beneath her left armpit and pinned down the small metallic lump, the monitoring and tracking device that the FBI had inserted into her body. Then she pulled the trigger, smashing the device into tiny fragments and blowing several ounces of muscle tissue out of her own arm.
Wingo was concentrating on the enemy in front of him and didn’t see what she had done, and Lockhart was on the roof. Kicky had read somewhere that gunshot wounds were numb at first, and then only started hurting later on. Not this one. Her arm felt like it had been ripped off at the socket, she screamed in agony, and from this point on, she was pretty much insane. She dropped the .38 and she floundered and flopped out the passenger side door, howling, grabbing up the Mexican detective’s Glock pistol in her right hand along the way. She rolled out onto the street and heaved to her feet. The armored door of the SUV gave her some protection from the bullets that slapped all around her, into the door and into the asphalt.
Wingo had ducked around behind the Escalade for more cover while he slapped another magazine into the Kalashnikov, another of the taped-together clips. He slung the weapon, pulled a hand grenade off his belt, and then winding up like a baseball pitcher he hurled it up the street where it bounced off several car roofs and rolled down into the street, the blast hurling shrapnel and shaking the street. Then he did the same with a second grenade. The police all hit the ground or dove for cover. Wingo then recovered the Kalashnikov and started firing again. On the roof, Cat Lockhart also slammed a new magazine into the .50-cal rifle, rose calmly into a kneeling position oblivious to the police bullets whizzing around him like electrons, and resumed firing. Just then the CNN crew, who had been cowering behind the overturned UPS truck, decided that it was time to do their jobs.
They ran along Flanders Street and turned right into 13th Avenue, the cameraman braced his camera on top of a parked car, and Cassie Ransom started shouting a disjointed narration into her microphone, trying to explain to the satellite-uplinked studio and worldwide audience what was happening in front of her on a Portland street. The next twenty seconds of film footage eventually won Cassie and the cameraman Pulitzer Prizes. The video clip was shown all over the world for weeks, it became an integral part of the visual history of the Northwest War of Independence, and is still shown today in virtually every documentary made on the subject. It requires a bit of explanation, though.

By this point in time, Cat Lockhart had already shot and killed four Rapid Response Team officers, including the negro Captain Isaiah Robinson, and what with the rain of .50- caliber slugs and Wingo’s hand grenades, the rest were taking the better part of valor and covering down behind parked cars and behind any available cover, including Lainie Martinez and Jamal Jarvis. Linda Hirsch was hiding behind the Oak Harbor moving van, but every few seconds she would lean out, gibber, fire a one-handed burst with her M-16 that she held like a pistol, and vanish again. Lockhart had no idea who the fat babbling target was, but it annoyed him, and he was determined to hit it. The shot was hard, though, since from the intersection Flanders Street sloped slightly upward and to the right, with a lot of car rooftops and trees and other junk in the way. The pale babbling proboscidian blob never showed itself in exactly the same place twice, and then only for a second or two. The rest of the cops were firing blindly, raising their M-16s up over their heads, popping a few rounds on semi or a brief burst on full auto in the general direction of the intersection, not aiming and not hitting anything. Kicky McGee was dazed, disoriented, and by now she was completely out of her mind with pain from her wound and from incandescent rage at the destruction of her whole life by these people. She staggered up the street, screaming wordlessly in a hoarse voice, her left arm and side soaked with bright red blood, her honey blonde hair streaming behind her. In her mindless rage she held the Glock pistol at arm’s length in her right hand, firing it blindly in the general direction of her tormentors, hitting nothing. She got in Wingo’s way, and he had to run out from behind the Escalade several feet, He hurled his last grenade, then raised his weapon to his shoulder and fired it in sustained bursts to try and cover Kicky, all the while shouting at her to get down, to get under cover. On the roof of the Escalade, Lockhart knelt and blasted away at Linda Hirsch and anything else he could get in his scope that looked like a cop. The wild shots from the police peppered everything, popping into car windows and the street and the walls. Lockhart ignored them and kept on calmly aiming and firing.
It was a confused scene, and actually pretty pointless and ineffectual. Nobody was hitting anything, and no one besides Lockhart was even aiming. But it looked cool as hell on TV, and in America, that was what mattered. By sheer fortuitous accident, what the CNN camera caught for twenty seconds—and twenty seconds is a long sound byte on TV news—was a perfectly blocked shot of stunning dramatic impact. In the far center right of the screen Kicky seemed to stalk up the street. She was firing blindly, howling like an animal in an unthinking spasm of rage and madness, but what the world saw was a wounded Valkyrie screaming her war cry and charging the enemy machine guns that splattered in round strikes all around her. In the lower left, Jimmy Wingo hurled his grenade and then stood like a rock, Errol Flynn and Audie Murphy in beard and denim vest and shades, tattoos on bulging arm muscles clearly visible, black cowboy hat tilted back on his head, his Kalashnikov at shoulder height and hammering away, sending a gleaming shower of brass cartridge cases in a high fountain, reversing and reloading the taped magazines in one smooth and swift motion. High in the top center, Cat Lockhart knelt with his mighty rifle, flame spewing from the muzzle with each shot like a thunderbolt from Asgard.

For possibly ten of the twenty seconds this tableau held. Then there was the sound of an engine roaring and the camera swung left just as the blue Chevy pickup containing Thing One and Thing Two flew by, driving on the sidewalk, and screeched to a halt in the intersection. The shaggy Thing One jumped out of the passenger side, raised a Heckler and Koch submachine gun to his shoulder, and started hammering away in a second rattling fountain of empty cartridge cases. Cat Lockhart fired one last .50-caliber round, the one that smashed Linda Hirsch’s skull to fragments like an exploding melon, and then he whirled and made a spectacular Zorro-like leap from the back of the Escalade into the flatbed of the Chevrolet. Jimmy Wingo ran forward, grabbed the berserk Kicky around her waist and lifted her over his shoulder, then ran back and tossed her into the back of the pickup like a sack of potatoes, before jumping in himself. Thing One leaped back into the cab and the blue Chevy then roared off down Flanders Street on the sidewalk, knocking over sandwich-board shop signs and sending an espresso cart flying. At 14th Avenue they were joined by the Grand Prix, and both vehicles floored it out along Highway 30.
There was no pursuit. Almost all the mobile police in the city were surrounding Waterfront Park and no one was available or willing to organize any response. No one had even bothered to radio Delta Two team or any other police and tell them what was going on. From the time Kicky McGee slammed the Escalade into Andy McCafferty until the time the blue Chevy pickup departed the area with all five Volunteers, exactly seventy seconds elapsed. 

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