SEALs of Honor:Jackson(13)

By: Dale Mayer

“He shot you high in the shoulder, and a bullet grazed your head. Maybe turning the wheel like you did saved your life. However, you told me at the accident site that you heard footsteps down in the ravine, while you both were still trapped in the overturned vehicle, and yet, nobody shot you then. Interesting that your buddy didn’t get any bullet holes either.”

“As I remember he was bent over, trying to find something in his pack,” Max said. “Not sure what. So, if his head was down low enough, he would have escaped detection completely.”

Jackson thought about that, visualizing how the man was probably huddled over, trying to locate something. “Good timing on his part.”

“Good timing on both our parts,” Max said. “I’d sure as hell like to get out of here and go after that asshole.”

“One asshole or more than one?” Jackson asked curiously. “I would think more than one.”

“I can’t say for sure. I never got a clear-enough visual to determine that.” He looked at Jackson. “What about you? Did you see them when they drove past?”

“I did,” Jackson said. “I could swear two people were in the truck. The driver was firing in our direction, but I don’t know what the passenger was doing.”

“He wouldn’t have been able to fire past the driver, unless the pickup’s rear window was open. Then he could have fired out of there.”

“I don’t know what happened at that point, as I was ducked down behind my rig,” Jackson said.

“So one vehicle, out of the blue, attacks a parked military rig obviously in trouble and then waits to ambush a vehicle coming after it?” Max asked. “Doesn’t that just beat all?”

“The problem is, they had a reason. I just don’t know what it is.”

“And was it personal? Were they after anybody in particular, or did we just happen to be the unlucky ones who ran into their bullets?” Max asked.

“I can’t see how I’d have been targeted,” Jackson said. “I was a replacement driver for a guy who got hurt.”

“So maybe he was targeted?”

“It’s possible,” Jackson said in a neutral tone. “It’s something we’re looking at.”

Max’s gaze narrowed. “Are you part of the investigation?”

Jackson snorted. “Not officially, no. But I really don’t like the idea of getting shot at or ambushed in any way without being able to find out who the hell it was and what the hell is going on.”

“I wish I could join you,” Max said, raising his arm and then freezing in pain. He took several deep breaths, then whispered, “Damn it, I forgot.” He shifted gently in bed, then grimaced. “It’ll take a day or two for me to get mobile enough to drive again.”

“Not to worry,” Jackson said. “If you give me your number, I’ll stay in touch. And you can text me if you remember any other details.”

“Happy to,” Max said. “But honestly it happened so fast that I don’t remember any details.”

“I know the feeling.” At that, Jackson and Max exchanged phone numbers, and then Jackson stood. “Have you talked to your buddy yet?”

“No. He was unconscious when they brought him in, and, as far as I’m aware, he hasn’t woken up yet.”

The two men exchanged worried glances. Head wounds were notoriously difficult. They could be simple and appear like nothing, only to kill a person later. Or the patient could be unconscious, like this man was, and the head wound could end up sending the man into a deep coma that could take him days—or never—to wake up from.

With a goodbye, Jackson turned and walked out. As he stepped down the empty hallway, he thought he heard another voice. He stopped and turned around, but no one was here. All the men he’d seen earlier had left. In fact, the guards were no longer here either.

He frowned, shoving his hands into his pockets as he contemplated that. Was that deliberate? He stepped back into Max’s room. “Security was here earlier but aren’t now. Any idea why?”

Max looked up and nodded. “As far as I know, they were just keeping an eye on me until everybody got a chance to talk to me.”

“Okay. I guess that makes sense then,” Jackson said with frown. “But I have to admit, it feels odd out there.”

“Odd in what way?” Max asked, his voice sharp.

At the sound of approaching footsteps, Jackson flattened against the wall next to the doorway and held a finger to his lips.

Max lay still in the bed and closed his eyes but seemed to be peering beneath his lashes, trying to watch.