David woke up late in an unfamiliar room. His sandy-brown fur was matted, his tail had a kink in it, and he had a bad taste in his mouth. There was enough sunlight leaking through the shades to read comfortably. As he sat up the room began to look more familiar. He was at his aunt Julia’s house in New York City. The room on the tiny third floor. The peaked roof of the house was the room’s ceiling. His bed was against the front wall. A mexican rug was spread across the center of the room with one end of it at the side of his bed. His suitcases and backpack lay against the left wall opposite a desk. He stood up, careful not to hit his head on the ceiling which was so low he couldn’t stretch out his arms fully, and yawned loudly. A clock on the desk read 10:20.
He retrieved his suitcases and began moving clothing from his suitcases to the dresser next to the desk. Neither piece of furniture could fit anywhere near the edge of the floor because of the slope of the wall/ceiling. He placed his wallet, blue US passport and gray Israeli passport on the top of the dresser before unpacking his second suitcase. He had dual citizenship because of an accident. His parents had been visiting in this very house when he mother when into labor six weeks early. His father had called it a gift from God. His mother called it chance. David found it convenient because he didn’t need a visa to get through customs.
David started unpacking his second suitcase which contained his dress uniform with full insignia and several similar uniforms without insignia. He had several locked cases inside the second suitcase. He removed one and placed it under his uniforms in the bottom of the dresser. The remaining cases stayed in the second suitcase. The suitcase was designed to fit inside the first one he had taken his clothes out from so his fitted it inside and stashed both behind the dresser.
Finally unpacked, David grabbed his travel kit and walked across the bedroom to the door. Outside the door was stairs to the second floor and a door to the bathroom. He headed into the bathroom and locked the door behind him. While he was brushing his teeth someone came up the stairs. “I’m in here, ” he said through the toothbrush.
“Hey, you’re up,” the voice of his vulpine cousin Michael said through the door. “Mom’s headed out with Kyle to get him some summer clothes. She asked me to go to the fish market, did you want to come?”
David begged for at least 15 minutes to get ready. He figured he could skip showering since he was going to be walking several miles anyway. He rushed through combing his fur and was forced to let the cowlick on his left temple win. There was more important things to attend to than his fur before he when downstairs. He darted into his bedroom but forgot to close the door. He pulled an undershirt out of his dresser and pulled it on so he would be wearing more than just his boxers if his cousin happened to come back up. He took a deep breath. Rushing wasn’t going to help he was going to be late getting downstairs anyway.
David opened his backpack and removed a rosary and an empty shell casing from a side pocket. He held the rosary to his muzzle and closed his eyes. The shell casing was cold as he rolled it in his fingers. He recalled being back in Israel, a young private with ambition. It wasn’t so long ago. He was eighteen at the time. He was 23 now which made it only five years ago. He slowly opened his eyes and put the shell casing back in the pocket. Kneeling on the rug with both hands holding the rosary he prayed.
“Lord, let me set aside revenge today. I have willingly followed your path for the last eight years and it has been especially difficult as of late. Your servant Paul said, ‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.’ Peace is difficult for one that is called to war. I do not doubt that you want me here even through I don’t know why. Paul also said, ‘Do not repay anyone evil for evil.’ I ask again for you to forgive me my sins and keep me from sin today.”
He bowed his head and meditated on his prayer.
“You’re holding the beads wrong,” Michael said from the door.
David put the rosary back in his backpack and stood up. “I don’t think God cares Michael. I’ll be right down after I dress.”
“Please hurry, I don’t want to be walking through rush hour traffic near the house,” Michael sighed and closed the door before heading down the stairs leaving David alone to dress.
David stripped off his boxers and traded them for briefs. He donned one of his khaki-colored unmarked uniforms and a pair of combat boots. Since he stood only 173 centimeters tall and weighed just 54 kilos, the uniform was a little baggy. As far as he was concerned the fit was perfect. He removed the locked case from from the bottom of the dresser. It was fairly large. About as large as two hardcover books. He set it on the desk and opened it. Inside was a M1911A1 pistol, 4 empty magazines, 40 .45 ACP Ranger SXT hollow-point bullets, two holsters, and a black passport containing a laminated card and several folded sheets of paper.
The holsters were designed to hook on to a belt and hang inside a pair pants just behind the point of the hip. The right holster carried the pistol and the left held two magazines. David attached both of them to his belt before turning his attention to the gun. The magazines had been emptied to prevent the springs from wearing out. It took him five minutes to load three of the four magazines. He holstered two of the magazines and was moving to put the third in his pistol when he heard the Michael coming up the stairs.
“What’s taking so long,” Michael inquired through the door.
David sighed. He picked up his pistol and double checked that the safety was on. “I’ll be out in a minute,” he replied as he slid the magazine into the pistol and worked the slide to chamber a round. He removed the magazine and pushed another bullet into it. He slid the magazine back in the pistol and holstered it on his right hip. With the clothing being slightly oversized, the pistol and magazines disappeared under his pants and jacket. As long as he was careful no one would know he was armed, including Michael. Perhaps especially Michael. Aunt Julia had no love of guns.
“Seriously, does it take ten minutes to pick out a pair of jeans?”
David chuckled. “You clearly haven’t had a girlfriend before.”
“You’re not a girl. It shouldn’t take you forever to get ready,” Michael protested and headed back down the stairs.
David pulled his black passport off of the desk and placed it in his jacket ‘s inner pocket before opening the door. Michael was standing in a white t-shirt and blue jeans. His gray fur was ruffled as if he didn’t bother to comb it.
“Just so you know, I do have a girlfriend,” Michael said as he crossed his arms. He looked over David critically. “It’s 80 degrees outside right now. It’s only going to get hotter.”
“Back home I wear this with armor. I’ll be fine.”
Michael gave him another weird look and headed down the stairs. David followed. They both walked out into the humid heat of a New York early summer. David waited as Michael locked the front door.
They headed away from the house towards the fish market some four miles away. Michael started asking questions almost immediately.
“You got in late last night. Your plane was supposed to get in at seven o’clock but you didn’t get to our place until eleven. What happened and why didn’t we pick you up from the airport?”
“I came on a US Air Force C-17.”
Michael’s ears perked up. “How did you get on one of those? What was it like?”
David sighed inwardly but smiled for his cousin’s benefit. He explained that the ride had been arranged by a friend he had in the US Embassy. The ride had been long and very bumpy but he didn’t mind. Unlike his father, he didn’t get airsick in turbulence. He was silent for a few steps as he considered what to else he could tell his cousin. A version of the truth was always better than an outright lie.
“I checked in with the Israeli embassy after my plane landed. Even though I’m on leave, my superiors want to be able to contact me so I had to let them know were I was. Besides,” David smiled, “one of the secretaries caught my eye. I waited for her to finish some paperwork and then we went out for a late dinner.”
As he expected Michael was extremely inquisitive about who he had dined with. It was easy to indulge him with the details. They went to a small pizzeria and ordered a large sausage pizza. The conversation was largely about hockey. The topic was unusual but interesting. By the time David was finished, he noticed they were in a rather dilapidated neighborhood. His fur was standing on end despite the lack of any visible danger. It was a feeling that he had learned to trust.
“Michael, are you sure we should be here?” he asked keeping a firm clamp on his nervousness.
“Yeah, this place looks a little weird but it’s safe enough. We’re almost there anyway.”
David made sure his jacket was loose before continuing their conversation.
“So, what have you been doing since I last visited?”
Michael’s tone was cheerful. “I graduated from high school with a 4.0. Now, I’m studying biology at UW-Madison. I picked UW-Madision because grandma Mae lives near there and I can get in-state tuition. I’m between semesters at the moment.”
As they turned the corner they walked into a group of felines standing around. David barely had time to notice several of them had handguns before shots rang out from across the street. One of the felines fell screaming. He half-dragged Michael away from the group and drew his own weapon. Two spotted cats pointed their pistols in his direction. Everything slowed down. The safety on his weapon clicked off and he fired two shots into the cat on the right while he dodged left. The range was barely 6 meters. The other cat fired too quickly and missed. David downed him with two shots to the head.
The rest happened too quickly for David to think about it. There were two tigers standing in front of him. One on them started to turn on him and David fired twice without hesitating. The last feline of the group looked at his friends before getting shot from across the street. With no threats in front of him he turned to look across the street. A group of 3 canines were standing across the street looking at him wide-eyed. He turned towards them keeping the gun aimed low but ready to fire if necessary. They scattered.
His attention immediately turned to the 4 canines laying in the street. A collie was still holding a pistol. He shouted at the collie to drop it. He shouted a second time before firing three unfortunately lethal rounds and reloaded. An eerie silence fell on the street. A car turned into the street only to stop suddenly. David held his gun low in one hand and kept an eye on the car as he checked out the single injured feline. She was gasping for breath and holding a bleeding wound in her stomach. The car backed out of the street and sped off. He kicked the pistol away from the gasping cat and ran over to Michael.
Michael’s head and chest was covered in blood and he wasn’t moving. A quick check showed he was still breathing. David holstered his pistol and removed his jacket and undershirt. He used his undershirt to wipe the blood off Michael’s head. His cousin had a head wound and only God knew what else. When he stripped off Michael’s shirt he thankfully didn’t find any additional wounds. He used the blood soaked shirt to wrap the head wound and rolled him on his side. David was still high on adrenaline as he looked around to assess the situation. He had basic first aid training but he didn’t even have the basic equipment he would have carried with him when on duty. He needed to call an ambulance. With Michael unconscious he fished through his pants to find a phone if he had one. David pulled out a fancy flip phone from Michael’s left pocket. He dialed 112 and hope that the phone would dial the correct local emergency number.
“Police, Fire, or Rescue?” A male operator answered.
David mental thanked God and replied, “I need police and medical. There has been a gun fight.”
“What is your location?”
David looked around for street signs or house numbers. He didn’t know were he was. “I don’t know,” he responded.
“Please stay on the line while I locate your phone.”
One of the dogs across the street was trying to get up. David drew his pistol and double checked the safety was on. With one hand he aimed the gun and shouted, “Stay down!”
“What is happening? Is there still fighting?, ” the operator asked.
David watched at the canine laid back down. “No, one of injured was going for his gun.”
“Okay. I have your phone located. I am sending police and rescue to your location. Are you armed?”
“Yes, I have a pistol. I have the situation in control.”
“How any other people have weapons?”
“There are a number of guns on the ground but I don’t see anyone else holding one.”
The operator was silent for a few seconds. “Okay, how many people are injured.”
David swallowed. “I think seven. There are eleven people on the ground and I am sure four of them are dead. Most of the injuries are serious.”
“How can you tell they are dead?”
“Three of them have fatal headshots and the other doesn’t enough chest left to live.”
He thinks over the situation as the operator is silent. If he stays until the police arrives, the best he can hope for is to be arrested. He doesn’t have diplomatic immunity and his briefing didn’t cover this situation. As the operator starts to say something he hangs up and calls the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. He hopes they can sort this out.