As I work on both a new Fireman short story and The Fireman-Book Two, I thought I would begin sharing pieces of my other works for those who have not read them. This, the first excerpt, is chapter #1 of The Fireman-Book One. Here is a brief history of this thriller series –
The Fireman Saga was born out of frustration. This world, as I see it, is falling apart. Not just due to neglect and mismanagement, but because of the inaction of it’s inhabitants. Violent crime and the abuse of others by predators seems to go unchecked. Yes, in the United States we spend billions of dollars annually on law enforcement and our judicial system. Criminals are captured, placed on trial, and incarcerated, but the deterioration of our society continues. Personally, I believe it is due to our citizens embracing the mindset of, “It’s none of my business.” Look away. Don’t get involved. It’s not me, so I am not going to get involved.
I believe in a world that doesn’t work that way. A world in which it’s citizens get involved. A world in which We The People are the masters of our environment. I fully believe our neighborhoods and culture have deteriorated so dramatically because we have allowed it to happen. We stood by and watched. We didn’t force the gangs and drug epidemic to flee from our towns because we simply looked the other way. The risk to us was too great. What could we do? That’s what police are for, right? In the end, the police can’t stop it. They can’t be everywhere. They respond to crimes, not prevent them from happening. So, the crime continues.
Although I can’t condone vigilante justice within our modern society, this thriller series is my take on how it would be if one man, then a group of men, decided to do something. There was a time when men like these were common. It is a shame it is no longer true. The original short story The Fireman launched the series and is available as an e-book. The first novel, Book One, let’s you get to know the characters and introduces you to an array of personalities that will help, or hurt, along the way. So, with that, here is chapter one of The Fireman-Book One.
“Pull the fucking charging handle!” Dan screamed over the din of constant rifle fire.
“The what?” The man on the ground turned his head in the direction of the shouted profanity with a befuddled look.
“Chaaargiing,” Dan shook his head violently. “Oh, for fuck sakes, just give it to me!” He reached down and snatched the rifle from the trainee by its carry handle. He dropped the magazine, letting it fall to the ground before working what the trainee should have known to be the charging handle several times just a few inches from his face. “Charging handle!” He shoved the weapon back into the man’s hands before yelling, “CEASE FIRE! CEASE FIRE!” The range became quiet.
“Jesus. I’m sorry, Gunny. I forgot what that was called, I guess,” the trainee said, turning both palms toward the sky.
“You seriously don’t know shit about weapons, do you?” Dan, the instructor and retired U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant chuckled.
“I told you I didn’t. Geez.” The trainee smiled. He climbed up from the prone position he had been laying in for the last few minutes and dusted off his t-shirt and jeans. He left the rifle lying on the ground, muzzle pointing down-range, just as Dan had instructed before allowing him to approach the firing line.
And, it was true. At that point, he really knew nothing about weapons. He could take his P85 Mark II apart and put it back together in the dark, and knew how to operate a pump-action shotgun, but that really was the extent of it. He knew nothing of AR style rifles such as the M4, M16, SR25 or AR10. Dan had taken it upon himself to rectify that lack of manliness, as he so gently put it.
He was introduced to Dan through a mutual friend he knew at a local, indoor pistol range. Bob, a portly, balding man of about 50, noticed his struggles with learning proper marksmanship with a pistol. He offered a few tips and techniques, but then decided that teaching was not his strong suit. He recommended the man visit Dan’s firearms training center to really learn the ins and outs of weapons handling.
In the post 9/11 world, and after more than a decade of a war of revenge, there were many veterans who opened firearm ranges and training centers, passing along their particular skills to a civilian populace thirsty for knowledge. The world had become a very ugly and dangerous place, both at home and abroad. Millions of civilians were clamoring for knowledge, experience, and tactical training. Dan, who had recently retired from the Corps, was one of those veterans filling that need. With tours through Haiti, Iraq (twice), and Afghanistan (3 times), Dan certainly knew his stuff. Not only did he possess 21 years of Marine Corps training, he had applied those skills in combat on many occasions. Dan was a very entertaining, and enlightening person to have around. Under normal circumstances, they might have been great friends, the trainee believed. But, at that stage in his life, all he really wanted to learn was how to kill; efficiently, quickly, and without leaving evidence. Dan, and his training center, was this particular trainee’s first stop on his journey to perfecting his new-found hobby.
It was a few months after Little J’s untimely demise; the “attempted murder” that, through the oddest set of circumstances, had become an accidental death. It was also hot, humid, and dusty. He had sweated through his t-shirt and his jeans were hanging heavy on his hips, thick with moisture.
“Chuck!” Dan called out over his shoulder. A younger man approached at a half trot, sizing up the trainee as he drew near.
“What’s up, boss?” He asked enthusiastically.
“This is,” he paused for a moment, and then continued, “What did you say your name was again?” Dan asked with a strange screwed up expression. It was difficult to tell whether he was trying to act apologetic for forgetting, or if he just thought his new trainee was a bit weird.
“Jack,” the trainee replied flatly.
“Yeah, Jack. That’s right. Chuck, meet Jack. Jack, this is Chuck. He’s one of my instructors.” The two men shook hands. For a small frame, Chuck had quite a grip. “Chuck, I want you to take Jake here and..”
“Jack,” the trainee said in an aggravated tone.
“Whatever. Take this non-shooting asshole and teach him what he needs to know so he can get up here with the big boys and start learning some shit.” Dan slapped Jack on the shoulder smiling broadly, obviously proud of himself, and gently pushed him in Chuck’s direction. That was Dan. He treated everyone like a Marine even if they weren’t. His motto was, “There are Marines, and then there are people who WANT to be Marines. Oh, and there are girls. Lots of girls. At my place. Right now. All of them wishing their pansy-ass boyfriends back home were Marines.”
“Alrighty then. Let’s go, Jack, or Jake, or whoever you are.” Chuck smiled and beckoned the man to follow him off the firing line toward a covered area set up with tables and wooden benches. Jack, or Jake, depending on who you asked that day, could feel Dan’s eyes drilling the back of his head.
Over the course of a couple of hours, Chuck taught Jack how to break down, put back together, load, unload, clear a double-feed, clear a misfire, hold, aim, and pull the trigger on an AR15 style rifle. His training rifle was an older M4 style, with a 4 position collapsible stock and a fixed carry handle rear sight. “A2 style, of course.” Chuck had said, although he didn’t bother telling Jack what that meant. He also continuously pushed bottled water at him. Jack’s constantly dripping, pink forehead must have worried him.
Jack, as the personnel on the range knew him, went to Dan’s range every Saturday for 4 weeks. It was a little pricey, but the experience and the training were well worth the investment. On the third Saturday, Dan stood behind him as he fired from a kneeling position at targets 100 meters away. The targets were simple cardboard squares with dots made out of colored tape all over them.
“Hey, you are doing much better, Jake.”
“Jack!” The trainee yelled as he squeezed off another round, striking the target a little high and to the right, but still well within the four inch square.
“I know. Anyway, really. You are,” Dan said casually without taking his small monocular away from his eye.
“I suppose I have you and Chuck to thank for that. I really had no clue what I was doing.”
“Yep. You were like a woman!”
“What?” The trainee laughed in protest.
“No, I don’t mean that way. What I mean is,” he let his hands fall to his sides and knelt down next to his trainee. “A woman, the average woman, is easier to train than men. They’ve never done it before. So, they have no bad habits to break before we teach them the right way of doing it. They are a blank slate. Its better that way. So, in that sense, training you was like training a woman. Get it?” He again slapped Jack on the shoulder like they were old buddies. “Hell, give me a woman who has never touched a gun and I can turn her into one hell of a sniper.”
“Sniper? You teach people to do that here?” Jack asked wide eyed.
“Oh, hell yeah. What do you think the 1,000 yard range is for? I spent 18 years as a scout sniper in the corps. Used to teach at the school.” Dan stood up and looked down the firing line, ever vigilant and watchful of his trainees. Jack cleared and safed the rifle, letting it rest atop the two sandbags in front of him. He stood up and looked Dan in the eye.
“Let’s talk about that.”
The Fireman-Book One is available as both an e-book and print edition on Amazon.com. You do not have to have a Kindle book reader to enjoy Kindle books. Simply download the free Kindle App for your device, PC, MAC, smartphone, or tablet, and you can enjoy, buy, read anything from the Kindle store. Find The Fireman-Book One at the following link: The Fireman-Book One