SEALs of Honor:Jackson(2)

By: Dale Mayer

Jackson shook his head. “The shooter would have retrieved it, whether intentional or a stray shot.”

“Well, if the bullet bounced around in the engine before exiting the rig, she’s definitely not going anywhere.”

“Got anything to plug the radiator with?”

She nodded. “But, in this case, I think we’re better off to have forensics look at it.”

“Nobody was killed though,” he said jokingly.

“No, but what if it was an attempt to kill you?” She turned to look at him. “Do I need to rethink my decision about letting you be my friend?”

He could tell from her tone of voice that she wasn’t serious, but the subject matter definitely was. “If you’re asking whether I have any enemies or any reason to consider why somebody is trying to kill me, the answer is no. At least I don’t think so. I have no idea what’s going on here.”

“Tell me what happened when you went to the station.”

He organized his thoughts. “I pulled in, didn’t need gas, so I parked right in front of the restaurant side of the building, went into the convenience store, picked up coffee and a couple bottles of water.”

“How was the coffee?” she asked curiously.

He slanted her an odd look and then shrugged. “It was gas station coffee. How do you expect it to be?”

He then went through his next steps. “I went into the men’s room, used the facilities, washed my hands, went through the cash register, came back out to the truck and drove to catch up.”

“You fell behind the convoy,” she asked, “but not so far back to look like you did it on purpose?”

“On purpose? … As in hoping to shut down the vehicle myself, so I couldn’t make it into the convoy or to separate me from the convoy?”

“Who can tell at this point,” she said quietly. She reached up to close the hood, then turned to look at him, and he realized just how short she was.

“What do you know about all this?” he asked.

She beamed a great bubbly smile at him again and said, “Nothing. I don’t like to play cops and robbers. I like to play with cars and motorcycles and planes, anything mechanical. But, when they break down or are damaged like this, I get really pissed. In this case you should be pissed because your rig took the bullet.”

“But it wasn’t intended for me,” he argued.

“Yeah? What’s your evidence of that?”

He stopped and looked back the way he’d driven. “It’s more likely it was a wayward bullet,” he announced. And yet, even that didn’t make sense. The path looked to be straight through and through at that height. He stepped back, dropped his hand. The trajectory of the bullet meant someone had shot from the hip. “Why would somebody shoot in at this angle?”

“No clue,” she said. “Depending on where you rank in the military, it could be somebody else’s job to figure out, not yours or mine.”

He snorted. “Oh, I’ll be on the team that handles this.”

She turned to look at him. “Really?”

“If I can, yes.” He pulled out his phone and made a call. “Hey, Swede. Mason anywhere around?”

“Yeah, hang on,” Swede’s booming voice announced.

The phone was shuffled, and Mason came on. “Where the hell are you, Jackson?”

“In a spot of trouble, sir.”

“Damn it, knock off with the sir.”

Jackson grinned. He did it mostly to rile Mason. They were the same age, but he knew it made Mason feel old. “It’s that age thing, sir.”

Mason said in exasperation, “Then spit it out, young’un.”

At that Jackson started to laugh. “Well, I could use a hand.”

“What do you need?” Mason’s voice turned businesslike.

“My rig picked up a bullet hole. Two rather, as the bullet went through the radiator.”

There was silence for a brief second, then Mason exploded. “Where exactly are you?”

“Four miles past the last rest stop. I went in to get water and coffee, then to use the bathroom, came back out, hit the road again. I’ve got Deli here, who was sent to see what was causing me trouble.”

“Dahlia? That’s awesome. She’s great. Is she the one who found the bullet holes?”

For some reason that rankled Jackson. But he admitted it readily enough. “Yes, she’s the one who found the bullet holes.”

“Yeah, she’s good that way.”

“It’d be hard not to see it,” he said in exasperation. “It’s a through-and-through shot.”

“We’ll get you towed back here then.”