The explosion was much bigger than I expected it to be. We were out of harm’s way in time, I guess I just didn’t know just how conducive to explosion Patron Tequila was. I’ll remember for next time. Mike and I were safe behind a couple of barrels that I hoped weren’t filled with oil or gasoline, and Joe took the opportunity of the explosion to run to our van. And there’s a crucial difference: when Joe sees a bomb coming, he utilizes it and does something useful with the extra time, and I dive, (face first), behind an enormous, potentially flammable barrel. Joe’s so much Goddamned smarter than me it’s not even funny. Mike was sitting up, his head over the top of the barrel, mesmerized by the flames towering over us. The glow of the fire lit up his face, and I’d say he looked just like a little kid going to see fireworks for the first time if it wasn’t for the beard and all the blood drying around his mouth. I hope there’s no kid that looks like that, anyway.
Joe came running up, his arms full of guns. He had to sidestep at one point to avoid a man on fire running around like…a man on fire.
“Joe,” Mike said. “Did you fucking see that explosion?”
“The- Oh, got it, you’re being an asshole.” I turned towards the door where we came in just in time to see it swing open. Dave entered first and Tommy followed right behind him; they moved like an efficient, two-man-SWAT-team, covering each other, surveying the entire room, calling out to each other, (in little codes, I liked to believe). They each carried two handguns and wore backpacks, presumably full of weapons. Tommy spotted us and ran towards us while Dave covered him.
“Hey, man,” Mike said. I was relieved, but furious.
“Tom, man, thanks, but…how did…I told you guys to stay away, you said-” He put his hand up to stop me.
“If you knew we were coming, you’d have figured out a way to stop us.”
“Deal with it.”
“Wait, Hank- you didn’t see this coming?” Mike asked.
Dave caught up to us.
“Dave,” Mike said, advancing with his arms outstretched. Dave pointed a gun at him. “OK, you’re right…Too soon.”
“What are we dealing with, here?” Tommy asked.
“Uh… a bunch…a lot of guys. I didn’t…” I trailed off. They probably expected me to have at least a rough estimation of how many guys we were up against, and possibly what they were carrying. Efficiency does not, apparently, run in this family.
“Fantastic.” A shot rang out, the first shot since the explosion. They were getting their bearings and remembering how much they wanted to kill us. A second shot rang out and, as if it was a starter pistol in the most dangerous race in history, we all took off running in various directions.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a closed space while a whole shitload of guns were going off. Probably not. I’m sure you’ve seen similar scenes in movies and, if you saw the movie in a theater, and depending on whether or not the particular theater had Dolby Surround Sound, you may have thought, “Goodness, that sure is loud.”
It is nothing- I can tell you better than most- nothing like the real thing. You can’t think, you can’t hear your own voice, so you just shoot. You can’t tell if anyone is running up behind you, you can’t hear your friend or brother warning you, you can’t even hear the little click that tells you you’re out of bullets. At first, there’s just a whole lot of “boom”-ing going on that drowns out all the other noise. You pray for it to stop, just so you can get a moment of peace to gather your thoughts, because you think this is the worst part. But soon enough, the noise stops completely. The shooting continues alright, and the screaming continues, but the noise just stops, and now you’re deaf. The only sound you hear is your heart, which is pissing its pants right now. That’s the worst part.
So I ran around, temporarily deaf, and shooting anyone I didn’t recognize but, really, looking for The Emperor. The flames were getting bigger and, in my frantic shooting spree, I tripped over my own feet, which is why I never played soccer. Also, soccer is for boring losers. As luck would have it, I landed face to face with Rebecca Venom. She was still wearing that smile she had on when The Emperor shot her. I picked myself up off the ground and surveyed what was going on around me. I don’t know when they did it, but Tommy and David dropped off extra guns and ammo in various places around the warehouse. They constantly moved while they shot and timed their movements so that, whenever they ran out of ammo, they ended up right in front of one of their pre-placed guns. I remember earlier when I’d run out of bullets, my response was to throw my gun at the nearest henchman and discuss in graphic detail a few things I would do to said henchman’s mother while running for cover.
My brothers are slightly more useful in battle than I am.
I saw Joe sniping from behind a very tall stack of boxes, and I saw Mike behind a fairly large henchman twisting his neck. If I wasn’t temporarily deaf, I imagine I’d be able to hear the snap from here. So, every member of my team was accounted for and doing well, (except for me, tripping over my own damn stupidity and rubbing the cramp in my side). We might have actually been winning, but none of that would have mattered in a little while, not with all these flames spreading. Jesus, that Patron must be strong. I wonder if I could power my car with it. Some of the Emperor’s men were already heading for the door, but I still couldn’t find the Emperor. Then, I was struck hard, right in the temple, and I went down.
If it was a bullet, I imagine I’d be slightly more dead right now. I looked around and spotted a rusty, bent, tin can rolling away from me. Joe, trying to get my attention and, apparently as deaf as I was, thought the best way to catch my eye would be to throw a can at it. I started to get up when another can, from Mike, bounced off my forehead. He laughed. Meanwhile, Joe was directing my attention to our van. It was pulling out of the warehouse with some difficulty. I saw Joe mouth the word “Emperor.” I took off running as Mike kept pelting me with garbage.
As soon as I got outside, my ears started ringing. Not the most pleasant sound, but a welcome replacement for total deafness. One of The Emperor’s men followed me out, and I quickly turned around and fired. Two shots, and he was down. I scanned the road for the van and saw it, about 10 yards down the street, swerving around and scraping up against parked cars on the side of the road. I checked my bullets. Three left. Gotta make them count. I lifted the gun and aimed for the back-right tire of the van. The first shot missed completely when the van swerved unexpectedly and the second hit the bumper.
“Come on, God dammit,” I yelled, because I couldn’t really hear myself otherwise. I closed one eye and pulled the trigger. Contact. The van skidded for a while and I was already running towards it. It almost tipped over a few times and finally came to a stopped when it collided, hood-first, with one of those steel poles that holds up a streetlight.
I ran up to the car and grabbed the door handle for the front seat. I pulled it open.
“Alright you son of a- What the fuck?” The driver seat was empty, and the passenger side door was open. Someone smarter, which is to say, anyone else on my team that wasn’t Mike, would have been able to anticipate this and would have put some distance between himself and the car. I didn’t see it coming. The possibility that the Emperor would sneak past me at any point never occurred to me, which is why his voice surprised me so much. That, and it was one of the first noises I heard that wasn’t a ringing sound. I was still facing the car, trying to figure everything out, when he came up behind me.
“Mr. Donahue,” he said, and then I heard the shot.
Then, I fell down.
You've got to be fucking kidding me.