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Friday, January 23

The Birdcage: Conclusion

Hammer struggled to get up, sputtering in the muck. The explosion had thrown him off the side of the slope, down into the welcoming arms of the cold mud. The soft landing had saved his life.

The others were not so lucky. All of the terrorists and some of the prisoners who had been near the van were blown apart from the explosion. The terrorist leader was dead in the muck, his skull crushed in by some incredible force. For some reason his hand was missing. Bishop's corpse lay next to him. Who had killed whom was unclear.

A pair of guard's boots appeared in his field of vision. Hammer looked up.

It was Crazy Freddy. "Well if it ain't our national hero!"

Jones, Morowitz, and Bean were all standing around him, armed with shotguns and pistols. They wore ill-fitting guard uniforms. Blood was spattered on Morowitz and Bean’s clothes.

Hammer started to reach for his pistols, but then realized that one of them was dangling from Freddy’s hand.

"Don't bother," said Freddy. "I think you've had enough heroics for one day, huh?" He leaned down on his knees to put his face in Hammer's field of vision. "Tell you what: whaddaya say we let bygones be bygones? You're one of them CIFA boys, right? We ain't terrorists. Hell, I'm a Goddamn red-blooded American patriot! We all are!" Freddy looked up at his companions. "Ain't we boys?"

"Damn right," said Morowitz, the first thing he said the entire trip.

"Right," he looked back at Hammer. "You saved my life. You saved all these boys lives. You don’t know me from Adam. But when trouble came, you took care of it." Freddy smiled, almost fatherly. "You’ve been screwed by the system as much as we have. Only we deserve it." He stood up. "So I tell ya what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna let you live. You deserve to. Probably the only decent thing I done in my whole life." He smirked.

Freddy looked up suddenly. Then he left Hammer's view. The boots tramped off.

"Watch your back, soldier boy. We'll look for you on the front page …" [MORE]

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posted by Michael Tresca at 6:39 AM


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