Spear Garden

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Chapter 19

Home of Blake MacKay

Centreville, VA

June 20th

Blake woke himself at four in the morning to go for a five mile run in the dark. He silently cursed his friend for making him stay later for just one more drink. That was almost certainly never the case, evident that last night’s one turned into four. He shuffled to the medicine cabinet, popped three aspirin and splashed water on his face.

He loved to run; at least that’s what he’d been trying to convince himself for most of his life. In reality though, he hated it. However, he knew that staying in excellent physical condition was essential to his survival, of which had been proven on more than just a few occasions. Reminiscing about his night with Joe did seem to make it somewhat bearable.

Growing up in the higher altitudes of Colorado, his system adapted to running at peak performance with less oxygen. He’d often wondered if that was what allowed him to excel so well athletically or perhaps he was just one of those lucky few that had a blood system that carried more oxygen.

Blake finished his run at the end of his driveway and walked the rest of the way in. The sun had just crested the horizon. It was a comfortable seventy-three degrees and Blake took in the beauty that surrounded him; the dense woods hugged the driveway and formed a natural tunnel. It eventually opened up to reveal the open pasture where the helicopters landed. Once to the house, he leaped onto the porch and into the house.

Hanging from the oven door he grabbed a towel and wiped the sweat away. From the fridge he grabbed a bottle of water and chugged it as he strolled into his bedroom. There he turned on the television and the water for his shower.

He quickly showered but didn’t shave; he needed to be as gruff looking as possible so to blend in the best he could in Afghanistan. His Scottish heritage on his father’s side gave him the ability to grow a thick beard fairly quickly and his Native American heritage on his mother’s side gave his skin a dark olive tone.

It would take a day to get to Qatar, then a day of prep at the base and then in the middle of the night, HAHO into Afghanistan. By then, he’d have the making of a decent beard. He’d packed his bag the night before so after getting dressed he decided to get a cup of coffee.

While in the kitchen, he heard the television in his bedroom and the news anchor mentioned a helicopter dogfight.

“- All right, now check out this exciting video of what looks like a dogfight between two helicopters and then one of the helicopters being shot down by a fighter jet. It’s dark and a little hard to see, but watch closely. It was captured by a tourist that was out in the keys on a fishing charter.

He set his coffee down and ran into the bedroom. On the television he watched the shaky video with a grainy texture of a missile fired by Lieutenant Luking, hit the helicopter and explode.

“- The military is saying that it was a training exercise and that the helicopter that was shot down was flown by remote control.

Blake laughed out loud. “Good one, Julian.” He picked up the remote and turned off the television. With his bag in hand he locked up the house. When he pulled back the garage door, the early morning light lit up the black Jeep Wrangler Unlimited four by four.

It was customized with a lift kit, oversized tires, black and chrome wheels, lights and the other things that were customary for vehicles of this type. During the summer, the top and the doors came off and usually didn’t go back on until the fall. It got horrible gas mileage but Blake didn’t care. It looked awesome.

On the way in he decided to clear his mind and inserted a compilation mix of his favorite tunes. Blake’s musical taste was wide and he truly liked all different styles, but the one he was drawn to the most can be best described as sui generis.

His ex-girlfriend in college hated it and called it “German Hate Rock” because a lot of the music he listened to was German. In reality, the bands were from all over the world, including the U.S. Besides, Blake was fluent in German so he didn’t really see what the big deal was.

He arrived at the airport and he pulled onto the tarmac where the same G650 that picked him up from NAS Key West was waiting for him.

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