SEALs of Honor:Jackson(9)

By: Dale Mayer

She shot him a look but ignored him.

He crossed his arms and waited. He’d heard Mason say she was a hell of a mechanic, and she was certainly looking at his rig from a different perspective than he was. When she squatted and studied the underside of the carriage, he walked to the area and squatted beside her, trying to see what she saw. “It would help if you would explain.”

“I can’t really explain. I have to get it up on a hoist, but I think the front axle is off.”


She nodded. “After you have a really bad accident, the alignment goes out, and the axle can get damaged. Some of them have to be replaced. This one doesn’t feel like it’s that bad, but I’m wondering if it was tampered with.”

“Likely done on base then? Wow, that makes our bad guys closer than I like. When we theorized ‘one of our own,’ I really didn’t think it would be someone we may know.”

They shared a worried look.

“And,” Jackson continued, “seeing as how that initial sabotage didn’t work, they came by and put a bullet in the vehicle?”

She turned to look at him. “How was it you ended up driving this rig?”

“Good question,” he said, casting his mind back to this morning, when they’d all been assigned their duties for packing up from their training exercise. “They needed a relief driver,” he said thoughtfully. “And I was looking for some downtime and thoughts-to-myself time. So I volunteered.”

“So it would have been random?”

He shot her a hard look. “Random as to who took the driver’s place. Maybe not random about the assigned driver backing out. A line had been drawn through his name on the duty roster.”

“Then we need to find out who that driver was and see if this attack was really directed at him. You could have been an innocent bystander in all of this.”

“Or he could have been part of the setup. Neither is a nice way to look at it. I wonder who that original driver was.”

“You can’t remember?”

“His name was something unique. Something you don’t see often.” He paused, then suddenly said, “Chester. It was Chester, but I don’t know his last name.”

She straightened slowly. “Chester Parks,” she said, her voice low, deep. “I know the name. There was some trouble with him a year or so back. He got into a couple arguments, and a man died.”

“A year later is a long time to exact revenge,” Jackson said, interpreting her comment. “If that’s what you’re thinking.”

“I don’t know what I’m thinking,” she burst out.

But Jackson already had his phone out, sending a text to Mason, asking if Chester Parks had been the man assigned to drive the rig. Then he added a line about asking someone to find out why Chester couldn’t drive the truck.

“But,” Deli continued, “about that same time, we had some thefts in the garage. One of our mechanics was found on the security tapes at odd hours in the garage when not scheduled for duty. The tapes didn’t confirm he stole anything, but I turned them over to the MPs to investigate. Never heard anything afterward and the thefts supposedly stopped, plus the mechanic still works here, so I guess the matter was resolved.”

Jackson’s phone rang, interrupting their discussion. It was Mason, but it was likely too early for answers.

“Hey,” Mason said. “Chester was injured today. Remember hearing about the guy who shot off his foot?”

At that, Deli leaned in to hear both sides of this conversation.

“No, I didn’t hear about that,” Jackson said. He started to smile and then realized it was likely this guy. “Are you saying Chester shot his own foot?”

“Yeah, he was taken to the closest hospital to get medical treatment. That’s why they needed a driver.”

“Wow,” Jackson said. “We were just wondering if Chester was part of the ambush. If so, he seems to be pretty dedicated by blowing off his foot.” When Mason didn’t say anything, Jackson continued, “Of course we considered that he himself had been targeted, and I just happened to be the unlucky substitute, but the shooters didn’t know there had been a change of driver.”

“It’s possible. In that case, maybe they were looking to waylay you and take you prisoner.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Jackson said. “That’s quite a leap. Why would you even go in that direction?”

“Because none of the bullets hit you,” Deli said. “Hi, Mason. Deli here.”

Mason’s voice lightened as he said, “Hey, Deli. Glad you weren’t hurt in the spray of bullets. Sorry I forgot to say that earlier.”