Monday, August 10, 2009
Aim (Part 1 of 2)
His crotch itched, but the soldier couldn't scratch. He couldn't even contract the muscles in his inner thighs to squeeze it away. Goddamn heat. Goddamn sweat. He loosed a slow, controlled breath, and the change in his posture raised the magnified image in his riflescope. He breathed in, and the image wanted to fall.
The man who was his target sat at a table through the windowpane. The man was waiting for tea. A small, empty cup rested within reach. Maybe a spoon. The rise and fall of the crosshairs moved up and down the man's chest. The soldier didn't waste energy keeping the crosshairs nailed. Not yet.
"Negative on the target," the spotter laying close to his left whispered.
The woman passed in front of the window again. The wife, presumably.
To the fire in the stove.
To the shelves.
To the cabinet where she stored honey.
"She may leave," the spotter said.
The soldier barely moved his lips. "I'm keeping it sharp."
"Wind is still negative," the spotter said. "Three hundred and fifty eight yards."
The woman bent, clearing the shot.
The soldier stopped his exhale.
In five seconds of holding breath, his heart would respond. His pulse would begin to pound. In the moment of near stillness, the soldier welded the crosshairs one tick left of where the target's sternum would be. The .50 caliber would cut him in half anyway. Only his shoulder, cheek, and fingertip touched the gun.
The soft trigger firmed.
But a blur of brown and white fabric flashed into view again.
"Negative," the spotter said. "Target not clear."
The shooter resumed careful breathing, restoring oxygen to still his cells again.
"She's pouring the tea," the spotter said. "She's pulling a chair."
Another slow-muscled breath.
"She's going to sit across from him."
The soldier willed his heart to slow.
"Negative on wind," the spotter said. "Three hundred and fifty-eight yards."
More blur. The target was blocked.
The soldier spoke through another thin breath. "Negative on the torso. Headshot. Positive on a headshot."
He could see the target's face and salt and pepper beard over the woman's shoulder.
The shooter raised a sliver.
The crosshairs passed beard.
Passed a crooked, baked nose.
The soldier cleared his mind of everything but calm and the crosshairs. The peace of not needing to breathe. He dug his aim into the first deep wrinkles of the man's forehead and firmed the soft trigger.
In a moment, the flow of motion would rock it back.
The grand release.
Like giving birth.