I looked through the Zeiss Rangefinder-binoculars again. The distance wasn't a problem — 25 yards is easily within range. The difficulty was that when you are in the man-made Grand Canyon that is mid-town Manhattan, you suffer from every other complication imaginable. Lighting — the buildings create visual effects of every kind: shadows, bright light, reflections.
Winds — don't even ask me about the winds. In the city environment, winds come from nowhere and go in unpredictable directions; up, down, around. Every bus and truck screws around with the wind. You would be surprised what a factor the wind can be, even at such a short distance. People walking by interfering with your shot, cluttering up your sight picture. For shooting, the city sucks.
They call me 'Spotter.' It's who I am, and what I do. Part of a two-man team, I spot, he shoots.
And right now, I was wishing that I was in Iraq or in Afghanistan in the tribal regions, rather than here in the middle of New York City. But we don't pick our assignments, we just do what we're told, and try to make it through, day-by-day.
For one thing, in New York, I'm not hiding behind some nice, clean, cold rocks in the mountains, or in the shadows of some long-abandoned building. I'm sitting next to a trash container, using an old, smelly cardboard box for concealment, hoping that it's not piss I smell on the wall that I'm leaning against. My shooter looks like he's asleep, but he's not. He's waiting for my signal to go. I just hope that I don't have to fight off another bum who wants to grab my fucking box.
Suddenly the target appears, coming swiftly out of the building that we've had under surveillance. I elbow my shooter,
"Target in sight," I whisper.
"Huh, what, uh," he mumbles.
Oh, for gods sake. He really was sleeping. Dumb shit.
"Target in sight, you've got about two seconds before she's gone," I urged him on.
"Twenty-five yards, wind from the left at two clicks, target moving right," I told him, giving him the data.
"OK, OK, I've acquired the target," he replied.
"Shoot at will," I said, giving him the go-ahead.
I heard the twang, but I kept my eyes on the target. I didn't see a hit. The target was completely untouched. I scanned with the binoculars. There it was, Shooter had hit something, but it wasn't the objective.
It was a fucking Poodle, quietly walking down the street, looking for a lamppost to pee on. Only now the dog has an arrow sticking out of his rear haunch. The dog looks up, and the first thing it sees is our target, Anya Petrova, one of the emerging supermodels in the world, as she steps to the curb, looking for a taxi. Goddamn optimist.
"Oh, fuck," I quietly mouthed to myself, putting my hand over my eyes. I peeked through my fingers.
The dog looks at Anya, and then reacting to the arrow, it comes after her. Anya hasn't even seen the damn dog yet. It gets within a couple of steps, and jumps towards her.
The fucking, oversexed dog is grabbing her with his paws, holding on, trying to hump Anya's leg.
I turned to Shooter in a complete rage, only to find him bent over in half, he's laughing so hard.
"You fuck. You fucking asshole. You did that intentionally!" I exclaimed, no longer worried about concealment, stealth, or skill.
I look back to see Anya kicking the miniature poodle off her leg, which the dog immediately tries to remount, and I see the tall, handsome, young up-and-coming politician passing her on the sidewalk, completely unnoticed, unloved. The whole damn operation screwed.
Quickly we retreat out the other end of the alley, or I should say, I retreat pulling my shooter behind me, since fuckface still can't walk by himself for laughing.
Our get-away vehicle is there, the driver waiting for us. It is disguised as a taxi, so no one will remember it, no matter how crazy the driver acts. I open the rear door and drag my partner in after me. As soon as the door is closed, the driver takes off. He's wearing a turban and has a beard. Talk about camouflage.
Then I turn back to turd-brain.
"Exactly what did you just do out there?" I demanded.
Cupid turns to me, and once more started laughing. After a couple of minutes, he tried to speak again.
"That was hysterical! Did you, HA HA HA, did you see the damn, HA HA, dog, trying to hump her, HA HA HA, leg?" came his almost incomprehensible reply. He went back to simply shaking with laughter, holding most of the sound in, his arms wrapped around himself, his whole body rolling back and forth on the bench seat.
"Do you understand that your stupid sense of humor just botched the operation? Instead of Anya falling in love with her intended mate, you inspired a FUCKING poodle to fall in doggie lust with her," I explained, shaking my head, wondering how I could transmit my complete disgust at his actions.
"Hey Spotter, don't take it so hard. HA, HA, HA, HA, HA. You know how short a dog's memory is — it won't be in lust for more than a day or two. And most likely, it's already transferred its desire to some other dog. Or some other woman. HA, HA, HA!" Cupid tells me, trying to placate my offended sense of duty.
"The damn DOG isn't the problem, shit-for-brains. It's setting up the situation so that Anya is perfectly intersected with that stupid city councilman, Golden, or Golder, or Goldman — you know, whatever his name is," I explained as if I hadn't been through this a million times before. The surprise is that I don't suffer from sky-high blood pressure dealing with this oaf.
"Not to worry, Spotter. I got us covered. They are both completely anal about being on time, so they are in the same place, at the same time, every day!" Cupid paused, "Actually, I'm surprised that the powers-that-be need to send us out there at all. You would think that they would have noticed each other without our help."
He shook his head, contemplating the situation.
"Anyway, all we gotta do is show up at the same time, same place tomorrow, and I'll take her out then. Situation all fixed, Spotter happy," he concluded.
I knew better than that. It never works out that easy.
"It was just a harmless prank," came Cupid's next attempt at a justification.
"Oh, yea. A harmless prank. Don't I recall you telling me that it was just a harmless prank when you shot Queen Tatiana with the arrow — just in time for her to wake up and see that moron with the donkey head? You know, I still cross the street to avoid Oberon because of that. You pissed him off royally," I recalled.
"First, Nick Bottom didn't have a donkey head, it was a spell. Anyway, I laid it off on Puck. Oberon was in on it from the start, you know," came Cupid's hot retort.
"How can you delude yourself so? It is an open secret that you and 'Puck' are one-and-the-same, EVERYONE knows! And Oberon is like all of the rest of that fairy crew; they remember what they want, and they remember things the way they want them to be, not how it was. So, according to his version, it was you and me who screwed the pooch. Didn't he claim that you were using some sort of eye drops, or something, not arrows?" I asked.
Cupid waved his hand in dismissal.
"Fairies!" he sniffed.
I finally just gave up and gave in.
"OK, OK, I'll put it aside. But tomorrow, we do her, and this time no jokes," I insisted.
Cupid put up his hand, and I (reluctantly) gave him a high-five.
"Tomorrow," he agreed.
The rest of the day, thank the Gods, was uneventful.
The waitress and the guy who worked for Con-Edison was easy. We got him right as she was handing him his piece of apple pie. Twang went the bow. The only difference for him was, instead of falling in love with his pie, like he did every other day; he looked up instead of down, and fell in love with the waitress. Easy as pie, to coin a phrase.
The computer geek and the sales girl in the flower shop was harder. The geek was so shy, that he wouldn't even go into the shop; he'd stand there looking in at her through the window. She would never come out of the place, even for a break. Things could have gotten desperate, until I came up with a brilliant idea. I tossed a flare into the back of the shop, and pulled the fire alarm.
After that, it was a classic.
She hears the alarm, comes rushing out the door; twang goes the bow; she's hit, and then almost runs over our geek in her panic to escape. They both fall down, look at each other, and he helps her get back up. Thank god, she started talking to him, asking him if he was OK, could he use some coffee, was he hurt. I don't think we could have gotten him to say a word, that was how shy he was. But at last glance, she was leading him by the hand across the street to a coffee place, talking his ear off the whole way.
If you don't mind, I want to clarify something here, before I go on.
Shooter and I are NOT sent out every time someone is going to fall in love. We are, if you don't mind the analogy, the SWAT team of love — only needed in dire circumstances.
I hate to disappoint you, but just because you fell in love doesn't mean that Cupid and me are responsible. Most of the time, we aren't needed, you manage to take care of the love-thing by yourselves. Although, given the 50% divorce rate, maybe you're not doin' too good, either.
Not my problem.
Let me give you an example of the kind of jobs we get: Victoria and Albert was one of our gigs.
.... There is more of this story ...