Always a Marine

by Ernest Bywater

Tags: Fiction, Vignettes, Violent, Workplace, Military,

Desc: Action/Adventure Story: What does an old man do when confronted with a danger? He remembers what he is, he remembers his oath to "fight all enemies, foreign and domestic." The story title says it all.

Cafe Conflict

The little bell on the front door of the small country cafe jingled. The young woman cafe owner and the girl on the counter moved closer to the door to the back room, ready to flee. The three mid-teen schoolgirls sitting at a table in the back of the customer area looked up, and the face of the youngest went white while her fear showed. She turned and checked for a way out, even though she knew there wasn't one. An old man was sitting at the next table towards the front door, he saw the girls' reaction, and turned to see what caused it.

He saw six young men who'd just walked into the little country cafe. They looked like trouble that just found what they wanted. They all looked to be eighteen to twenty years or so old, with dirty shoulder length hair and mean expressions. Their clothes were dirty and cheap, except for the headbands they wore. They all had the same headband, and it was clean. Their boots were cheap and looked like they'd never been washed or polished since they were purchased. They swaggered while they moved down the cafe. Their leader said, "There you are, bitch. I told you to be at the club house an hour ago for your initiation fucking by the members. Now you get to be fucked by the dogs as well, and all on film for selling."

The youngest girl, gulped, and said, "I told you I never wanted to be in your club. I never asked or had anything to do with your people."

"What you want has nothing to do with it, bitch. We want you, and we'll have you. I think we'll take your two friends as extra fun, too."

The old man stood and turned to face the young men. He had a bent back and only stood as tall as the chin of the shortest of the young men, their leader. The old man limped when he moved into the middle of the path beside the tables. He smiled, and said, "Go home, kid."

Everyone looked at the old man in his worn out cheap clothes. He was well known around town and all called him Gramps. One young kid called him that when he first arrived in town, ten years ago. He looked old then, and now looked ancient. They all knew he was retired, had been for years, and he lived on a meager pension. But no one knew where the pension came from or what he used to do for work.

The lead youth laughed when he pulled a flick knife out of his pocket and opened it. "You're dead, old man." He moved forward while the rest of his pack pulled out knives and followed him. The cafe owner was shocked when the old man smiled as his only response.

The leader of the young men reached the old man and swung his knife to stab him. The old man belied his age as he moved fast to avoid the blade. He swung his left arm down to knock the knife aside and his right arm moved towards the youth's head. All heard the snap as the young man's head was thrown backwards. The old man grabbed the youth's arm and pulled to the left as he stepped past the falling body. All were shocked by the action, since it wasn't like what they expected.

The old man was now amongst the youths, and a blur of action. He was so fast that none of the witnesses could see what happened, except the youths kept falling down. One went crashing back into the front doors. The sound made the other ten youths waiting outside turn and charge into the cafe, drawing knives and pistols while they ran.

The old man had hold of the last of the first group of youths when the rest entered the cafe. He held the youth in front of him while he took the pistol out of the youth's belt and pointed it at the rest of the gang. The old man yelled out, "Girls, hit the floor." They all slid off their chairs and hit the floor. They weren't quite all the way down when the sound of gunfire filled the cafe.


The shooting ended and the girls looked up, no one was standing. The cafe owner had already phoned for the police and ambulance. The youngest girl stood up and looked at the mess in the cafe. She went to where gramps was lying, and was surprised to see he was still alive.

He looked up and saw her. He smiled at her and reached for her hand, squeezing it when she moved close enough for him to take it. He said, "Tell them I did it. I held the line against the enemy. As I swore, I fought all enemies, foreign and domestic." With that, he coughed and sighed. His head rolled to the side and his hand went slack when he died. She sat there and cried while she continued to hold his hand.

Sirens sounded. Car tires screeched. Car doors slammed. Running feet were heard to enter the cafe. The girl didn't look up until she heard a voice say, "Shit, Sheriff, it's a massacre in here. Better get the coroner over here." She looked up and saw a Sheriff's Deputy standing in the doorway while he looked at the bodies that littered the cafe.

Deputy Jackson looked at the mess, and spotted the girl beside the old man. He wasn't happy with the lack of expression on her face. He was sure she was in extreme shock, so he went to her and was very gentle when he took the dead man's hand out of hers. He didn't want her to have to walk out through the blood on the floor, so he picked her up and carried her out to the ambulances parked in the road.

He handed her over to one of the ambulance crew, and said, "I think she's in shock. There's another two like her inside. I'll bring them out to you." The paramedic nodded and took the girl from him. He took her to his ambulance as the deputy went back into the cafe. Deputy Jackson took only a few minutes to carry out other girls, the owner, and the girl who worked the counter. The paramedics treated them all for shock.

The sheriff's forensic person turned up just as the county coroner arrived. Both groups entered the cafe together. The coroner checked and declared each one dead, and the forensic person started processing the crime scene. It took a long time to do it all and clear the bodies out.

Who Is He?

Sheriff James sat at his desk, swearing when he listened to the radio call for assistance at the County Cafe; surprised at a call from there since it had always been so calm and quiet. It was located at the wrong end of the town's business district and got only enough business to stay open, most of it from the local farmers stopping for a chat on the way in or out of town. The town never had much business, and even less in the slowed economic climate. If not for the high turnover at the truck stop and tavern at the highway exit five miles out of town the county would be bankrupt. Those two operations were all that kept the town alive. But they came at the cost of being almost the only need for a County Sheriff's Office, over ninety-five percent of all calls came from the highway stop. So many, the duty vehicle parked behind the truck stop to make it easier and faster to answer calls. But eighteen months ago that changed, and now half the calls came from in town.

Eighteen months ago a group of several rough looking young men moved into town. And they wasted no time in recruiting all of the bad boys and layabouts in the county. They'd been busy trying to take over full control of the town since. No one knew why they picked the town, and no one liked it; there was little that could be done until they were caught in the act of committing a major crime. The members of the gang were easy to spot, because they all wore a headband with a symbol that looked like the Nazi cross, but distorted and tipped over at an angle.

It worried the Sheriff that a call came in from the cafe at the end of town furthest from the highway, as that could only be trouble with the gang of young hoods. What worried him most was he couldn't leave the office, due to his left leg being in a cast. It had been broken when his car was run off the road by someone in a stolen car. The matter was still being investigated, but he was sure it was one of the gang, as he'd been on their back investigating the beating of a farmer on the edge of town.

It only took a few minutes for the first car to arrive at the scene, but it was a worrying time. Deputy Jackson was first at the scene. That was good news, as being an ex soldier he could handle anything the gang could dish out. Also, he was one of the few who always wore his armor.

James was now very worried because Jackson was just on the scene and radioed in, "Shit, Sheriff, it's a massacre in here. Better get the coroner over here." James wasted no time asking questions. He could tell from the tone of Jackson's voice it was all over except the clean up. James turned from the radio to his desk, picked up the phone, and called for the coroner. He called his only Crime Scene Investigator and sent her over. He also called the state police to have them send their people as well. Then he had to sit and wait until someone told him something.

.... There is more of this story ...

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Story tagged with:
Fiction / Vignettes / Violent / Workplace / Military /