tagRomanceThe Shootist

The Shootist

bymaxdname©

My hand darted out to cover her mouth before she could scream. Pulling her backwards into my chest I leaned forward, put my lips to her ear and shushed her quietly. With my nose buried in her shaggy cropped hair I took in a lung full of her simple but pleasing scent.

I'd been sent to do a simple mission. Aim a rifle at a target, pull the trigger and get back without being discovered. People in my business didn't ask who the target is or about their guilt or innocence. It was better, in my mind, to put a silhouette in the cross hairs and fire my weapon. Killing people was difficult. People had kids, liked baseball, told funny stories or didn't eat vegetables: but a silhouette existed only to catch a small piece of lead accelerated at great velocity. I was good at hitting silhouettes. Killing was something I could never grow accustomed to.

When I slowly released the pressure on her mouth and allowed her to turn and look me in the eye, a hollow reflection was all I saw. Steel blue orbs showed no recognition. I pushed her back against the wall with my left elbow against the stucco exterior of the building and my forearm under her chin, tight against her throat. I needed to keep track of her until I was finished putting metal on target.

The grip of my .300 Winchester Magnum rested comfortably on the palm of my hand which sat on her shoulder. She stared at me dully. I winked and leaned forward to the scope. It was risky to take this shot but I had wasted too much time waiting for the perfect shot. Through an open window I saw the silhouette lean forward in a belly laugh and then rock back in his chair. The tip of my right index finger applied 8.5 pounds of pressure to the trigger and the rifle bucked skyward smoothly.

I opened my left eye to check my human gun rest. She blinked slightly at the muffled sound. A good weapon should be ported and have a muzzle break to reduce noise and flash register but this woman hardly flinched at its subdued violence. Right eye open. Check the silhouette. Several other silhouettes gathered quickly around my target brandishing automatic weapons. I saw the flash of weapons before I heard their distance reports. Half of my mission was completed.

I leaned back and examined the girl. Her eyes searched mine blankly: blue marbles darted to and fro. She was trying to determine who I was: a man who had dropped another human being at more than 700 meters with no more regret than a fisherman pulling in a tuna caught on a brightly colored piece of felt. I threw the running sling over my shoulder and slowly smiled at her but still got no response

In the distance I heard voices and I knew I had to make my escape. I touched her cheek with the back of my fingers and stroked her smooth skin. This got no response. It was time to leave. I did not turn away from her as I moved. She watched me back into the woods without any signs of emotion.

I spun and moved quickly. Then I stopped. Ahead of me, the sound of footsteps in the dark meant I was trapped. I saw a blue flash and found myself on my hands and knees, my head whirling. A pair of strong hands pulled me to my feet. A man, close to my size, pulled the pistol out of my shoulder holster and was patting me down. An accomplice stood several feet away with a weapon held steady on my chest. A noise from behind caused him to turn quickly.

A blond flash in the dim light appeared from the trees and hit the accomplice over the head with a piece of wood. The first guy swung around to take aim at the girl but my well-placed punch to his kidney effected his shot. As he reeled backwards I stomped on his calf and then drove my elbow into the soft spot between his collar bone and neck. He collapsed without a sound.

Clonk!

I looked up to see the girl, who had been my gun rest only moments before, deal the accomplice a second blow. Even in the darkness, I could see his skull was slightly crumpled on one side and blood ran freely from his ears. I turned to check my exit trail. I heard no more footsteps.

Clonk!

She extended her arms high above her head after yet another blow to the accomplice's lifeless body. She struck him again before I could intercede.

Clonk!

I leaped in front of her and intercepted the next delivery. With both arms above her head she prepared to drop another blow to the dead man's body. I held her arms above her head staring into the girl's wild eyes. What had caused this young girl to show such anger and brutality?

I decided I didn't want to know. I collected my weapons, pulled her into my side tightly and continued deeper into the safety of the woods. She moved easily into the dark ahead of me. I couldn't leave her behind after she had saved my fat. The silhouettes in the building, that I had recently fired into, dealt in drugs, ethnic cleansing and government sanctioned mayhem: whichever government was in charge that month. It was likely the girl was not here voluntarily, as this paramilitary group was also known to deal in slavery from time to time.

At last, I found my motorcycle. I left it against a fence post but noticed it had been moved a couple of feet. I strained my eyes to search the exterior of the engine, looking for any outward signs of tampering. The spark plug wire was missing. Taken, no doubt, by the pair that had intercepted me. It was too late to go back and search them.

Desperately, I wheeled around looking for an alternative escape route while listenimg for more voices in the dark. Sensing the danger the girl pulled on my sleeve and pointed into a thicket before she sprinted towards it. There, in the tangled copse, was a small trail less than a couple of feet tall, undoubtedly kept open by this girl, or girls in the same situation, as a haven from some of the more abusive silhouettes that were my targets.

I swung my weapon under my chest as I fell to my hands and knees and crawled into the thicket following close behind her. The narrow passage meandered for a long distance between hedgerows before it ended at the edge of a field near a ramshackle old barn. From the appearance of the building it had not been used by humans in many years but the girl grabbed my hand and together we sprinted towards it in the moon's light. In the distance I could hear vehicles and shouts. I must have hit my target well. The abandoned motorcycle and the two incapacitated guards would be sure signs that I was still nearby and on foot.

Once inside the barn the girl led me into a pit that must have used to work under cars many years ago. Tapping on boards in the back of the dark pit my female savior located one that sounded hollow and swung it aside. She dropped to her knees and wriggled through a hole in the dirt wall behind the boards. I felt a tug on my pants legs and I followed.

Entry into the narrow tunnel required me to crawl on my belly while pushing my rifle ahead of me. I could sense the tunnel opening up as the board at the entrance swung closed behind my feet. I sat cross-legged listening to the girl fumble in the pitch black. A match lit up the dirt room. When she lit a candle I could see the cavern more clearly. The room has about ten feet square with a low ceiling and a cot against the wall. Under the cot were some US Army MRE's in their distinctive brown plastic bags.

The girl sat on the cot and pulled an MRE from under her seat. She opened it with her teeth and dumped the contents onto the floor. Then, the girl nibbled at a green foil packet she pulled from under the cot, tipped her head back and extended the bag to me. It was drinking water courtesy of the US Civil Defense circa 1965. Water was water no matter how old. It felt cool trickling down my throat. The girl rummaged through the MRE contents and opened one quickly. Her fingers dipped into the contents of the bag and she scooped a wad of something into her mouth with her fingers. She extended the bag towards me as she chewed but I shook my head. With a shrug she dipped into the bag again and continued to devour it's contents.

Looking more closely at the walls I noticed names and dates carved into the dirt. One partially obscure name that ended in "...skowitz" was followed by "May 1943." Several other dates were from the early 1950's. This cave had been well-used but had somehow remained a closely guarded secret that had outlasted both the Nazis and the Soviets. I could only hope it was still a secret.

Staying hidden for a couple of days wouldn't be a problem because my initial contact would not wait long at our meeting point. That was our plan. If, after five days, I failed to meet with my secondary contact I would be on my own and considered "lost." That was the term used: "contact lost." Like I was a radio signal and not a hired hand sent to exact payment from players of a high-stakes political card game.

After the girl finished the contents of the bag she stood, wiped her face on the back of her forearm and moved to the corner where an empty coffee can sat. She lifted up her shabby dress and she squatted over the can. It was a toilet that could be easily emptied periodically. Her stare challenged mine and I looked away as she relieved herself.

The girl returned to the pile of foodstuffs on the dirt floor to pick out a small white packet. Out of it, she pulled a lemon-scented damp napkin that she dabbed at her slender fingers with delicate strokes.

I couldn't help but laugh to myself. This young girl dove into the bag of food like she had been raised by wolves. Then she squatted over a can in a dank dirt cave. But after all that she thoroughly cleaned her hands in a dainty display of tidiness. She watched me smile, trying to hide my laughter, without changing her expression. Once finished she patted the cot and pointed to me. I climbed onto the stretched canvas and stared at the low ceiling while I thought about my options. I had screwed this one up. Maybe I was getting too old or too clumsy for field work. I could take any number of office positions and wondered if that would be for the best.

The girl rummaged through the MRE contents again and put everything back into the bag neatly. She walked to the candle and blew it out. The blackness was complete. I heard her pad to the cot and she climbed over me placing her back to the dirt wall. She lay more on my chest than on the narrow cot. She picked up her head from my chest and said something in an unfamiliar dialect. I pushed her head back to my chest. I didn't know the words but I knew what she meant. This girl must have been a slave to those silhouettes for a long time. Soon, she was snoring softly into my shirt.

I woke with a start in the complete darkness of the cave. The pressure of the young girl on my chest reminded me where I was. She awoke quietly and stretched in the dark. She muttered a few words I couldn't understand and I answered by kissing her gently on the top of her head. She sucked in a deep breath and climbed off me to light the candle.

Beneath the cot I found a tattered deck of cards and spread them on the floor for a game of solitaire while I thought over my situation. The girl busied herself with the stack of MRE's and sweeping the dirt floor with her bare hand.

Again and again I tried to determine the point where I had lost my touch. This single mission seemed to be alive with mistakes. I waited too long, I moved in the open too often... I realized these mistakes were not the first but put together had been the worst. I had become too complacent, almost as if I wanted to vanish while on a mission: "contact lost." Contact lost, forever.

There wasn't anything in my life, outside work, that required attention or devotion. No family to speak of. Hell, I didn't even have house plants in my apartment. Things that required love or attention made people vulnerable in field work.

I engaged in a long self-examination sitting on that dirt floor. The final realization I arrived at was simple: I needed to get out of this line of work and join the human race while I still could.

A slender finger pointed at the floor. I shook off my revelry and looked up towards the girl as she shook her finger several more times. Searching the floor for a clue I came up empty until she touched the three of clubs and then a four of diamonds. I had been told to always carry a deck of cards when you were someplace where you could get lost. If you needed help lay out your cards for solitaire and before too long someone will show up to tell you how to play a card.

I gave her a half-annoyed look. She greeted this with a giggle before she returned to her cleaning.

I crawled outside to determine how I might get back to the real world or if I was out of options. Each action now was careful and deliberate. Somehow this monumental fuck-up had awakened a desire inside of me to actually start living life instead of taking it, regardless of the good that might come from my actions. Getting this girl out of harm's way was a good thing, wasn't it? I reasoned with myself.

It didn't take me long to determine where I was and how to get out of here. I could only hope the girl would do the same. It was an overcast morning so I decided to leave that night to make my secondary meeting point before it got light.

When I crawled back into the cave I was surprised to find the girl still there. No longer cleaning, she was slapping well-worn cards around in a game of poker against herself. I picked up the other hand and we began a marathon devoid of conversation, our only communication was with smiles, gasps of disbelief and occasional laughter.

After a while I looked at my watch and decided I needed to get some sleep before my exit. When I sat down on the edge of the cot the girl crawled to my feet and gazed up at me for a moment before she slowly rose. Peering into my eyes she grabbed the hem of her dress. With her wrists crossed in front of her she pulled her ragged gray garment over her head in a single swift move. Suddenly, I saw all her secrets. Her pouting breasts carried bruises above and below, sure signs of rope restraints. She was thin and much prettier than I realized.

Her face seemed different now. Her eyes were wide open and inviting while her breathing seemed labored. The ragged clothing that covered her body fell to the floor as she stood before me. She had worn nothing but that simple dress.

She had a young budding body with slim hips and firm pouty breasts. Her long-waisted body accentuated her small hips and sturdy but not muscular legs. A slight swell at the tops of her legs separated her girlish extremities from the womanly patch of wispy light brown pubic hair. Thin arms hung limp along the sides of her lean ribcage. The long expanse of her stomach was broken by a lone mole below her belly button: a signpost along the way to her womanhood.

Sparkling blue eyes glinted, flashing back the glow of the candle light. Her nostrils flared slightly as she drew a deep breath and her chest trembled gently. She might have been young in age but her desires were that of a mature woman.

As she crawled into my lap, her lips parted. She picked up my hand before she nestled her small buttocks into my lap. Her eyes dropped to my hand which she pulled level with her face. Kissing my hand she gentle sucked in one finger after another. I couldn't take my eyes off her slim young flesh as she formed her figure to mine, awaiting my entry.

Both her hands rose to clasp the sides of my face and her tongue touched my lips before her mouth. It was her uneven breathing that caught me off guard. She wanted me. Not like a female contact working for one side or the other might do to accommodate a fellow agent, but as a woman wanted a man. Female agents weren't recruited because they were smart or particularly loyal but for sexual abilities and discretion. That was the nature of this business. If you wanted to find a wife, go to church. Finding a female agent was a completely different proposition. But this girl was not another 'spook'—we called ourselves spooks—she was a young woman who seemed to be interested in me.

Breaking off our kiss, she slowly climbed off my lap so she could kneel in front of me to unzip my pants. When she fished my growing organ from my pants she kissed it lightly flicking her tongue along its length and sensitive underside, then she pressed her lips full against it. I slipped into her mouth easily when she lowered her chin to accommodate my girth. It was heaven inside her warmth. A quiet "schlorp" sound and my hips jerked involuntary. With one hand cradling my balls and the other wrapped around my stiff cock her mouth began to bob up and down on my shaft. My knees turned to rubber and I pulled her head away, regrettably, leaving my flesh covered in her saliva. The look on her face showed her intentions. She only wanted to make me happy. I pulled the young girl's face level with mine, pulling her up with only my index finger under her jaw.

"Listen to me. You don't have to do this. I'm letting you go. Okay?" I was gesticulating and using mime that would have brought tears to Charlie Chaplin's eyes. She was too sweet, too innocent and much too young to stay with me. I was nearing the end of my life she was at the beginning.

Her mouth was open wide as she attacked my lips, falling forward onto my body. She knew what I was offering her but she also knew that I was her best bet at safety, happiness and maybe even love... affection at the very least. Her eyes told the story plainly. I was the first man to treat her like a woman and not a sexual outlet. She moaned and ground her mons against my thigh.

I broke our embrace and pointed to my chest with my index finger. "Maxwell," was all I said.

She giggled. It was the giggle of a little girl on holiday. It was giddy. With a beaming smile she placed her palm flat above her breast. "Lena." Her voice was quiet and thin. I nodded and repeated her name. Lena. She pulled my hand forward and placed it on her warm breast and swallowed hard.

"Max-well." She repeated my name staring directly into my eyes. I felt her words inside my stomach. I was too old for this nonsense.

I was lost now. Beyond rescue. I stripped off my clothes rapidly and pulled the young girl onto the cot. I dove head first towards her warm wet sex hoping to lose myself in it. Her taste was slightly salty. The sticky juices covered my chin quickly as I tried to tickle her insides with my tongue. She shuddered and pulled me up onto her body. She wanted my manhood inside her, not my tongue.

She grabbed the head of my cock and guided it inside her damp body as I leaned forward to kiss her puffy lips. When I hit the bottom of her sex she jumped slightly and bit into my shoulder. A growl came from her throat that turned into a whimper as she rolled her hips against mine. She was nearing ecstasy already. Eyes clamped shut her head fell back onto the cot and muscles deep inside her spasmed rapidly. Her neck was wide open to me now. I buried my mouth into the nape of her neck and sucked her fresh young skin into my mouth like a starving man. I felt her hands on my back urging me forward. She wanted me to consume her, leaving nothing but a empty shell. I thrust forward hard now and she bucked to counter each movement while she squealed with delight. I emptied myself deep inside her. All that I held now filled her.

I felt her hands on the sides of my face as she guided my lips to hers. Leaving a trail of kisses down her neck my lips wandered to her pouty breasts. Her finger nails dug into my scalp while she repeated "Max-well" over and over. Taking her hard nipple into my mouth she hissed and she sucked in a deep breath. I wasn't finished yet. We made love twice more before the candle burned out.

She awoke on top of my body and pulled in a long slow breath to rouse herself. A soft whimper came from deep in throat as she lay her head back on my chest. A small puddle of drool lay on my chest where her mouth had fallen open an hour earlier. I had only slept briefly, three hours by my watch, though the complete darkness of the cave made time even more transient

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