“Ragnarok On Flanders Street”
“COPS!” screamed Kicky at the top of her voice. “Cops! It’s a trap! They’re all around us!” She reversed the Escalade, hit the gas and roared back into the street tailgate first. Wing looked up to see the armored personnel carrier for Delta One team turning into Flanders Street from Twelfth Avenue.
“Shit!” he shouted. He yelled into the phone, “They’re onto us! Ambush on Flanders! Beat feet! Kicky, go down 13th and head back toward the interstate, not toward the river, so we can try to lose them! Cat, heads up, see if you can spot any copters overhead!”
The street was full of screaming people, and 13th Avenue was now blocked going both ways by lunch-hour traffic, cars that were simply abandoned and left standing by their drivers who jumped out and fled for cover.
“I’ll do more than keep their damned heads down, I’ll blow a few of ’em off!” Cat-Eyes Lockhart yelled back. He was out the back of the SUV and he swung himself up onto the roof of the vehicle in one smooth motion, snapped down the bipod on the .50-caliber Barrett, and sighted in. He pulled the trigger, flame vomited from the Barrett’s muzzle, a mighty roar echoed from the buildings, and up the street a SWAT man went flying back through the air, his feet leaving the ground. Lainie Martinez and Jamal Jarvis had struggled into their body armor and were now out on the street. Lainie kneeled and fired her M-16 and Jarvis stood over her, blazing away with his. Chief Linda Hirsch [Chechar’s interpolated note: the police chief was a coveted affirmative action three-fer, being simultaneously female, Jewish, and lesbian] was jumping up and down for a bit, then leveling her Armalite and firing a wild burst, then jumping up and down some more while she screamed dementedly in Yiddish. The street sounded like the inside of a garbage can or a metal locker that was being beaten with sticks by a troop of demented monkeys.
Wingo had ducked around behind the Escalade for more cover while he slapped another magazine into the Kalashnikov, another of the taped-together clips. He slung the weapon, pulled a hand grenade off his belt, and then winding up like a baseball pitcher he hurled it up the street where it bounced off several car roofs and rolled down into the street, the blast hurling shrapnel and shaking the street. Then he did the same with a second grenade. The police all hit the ground or dove for cover. Wingo then recovered the Kalashnikov and started firing again. On the roof, Cat Lockhart also slammed a new magazine into the .50-cal rifle, rose calmly into a kneeling position oblivious to the police bullets whizzing around him like electrons, and resumed firing. Just then the CNN crew, who had been cowering behind the overturned UPS truck, decided that it was time to do their jobs.
They ran along Flanders Street and turned right into 13th Avenue, the cameraman braced his camera on top of a parked car, and Cassie Ransome started shouting a disjointed narration into her microphone, trying to explain to the satellite-uplinked studio and worldwide audience what was happening in front of her on a Portland street. The next twenty seconds of film footage eventually won Cassie and the cameraman Pulitzer Prizes. The video clip was shown all over the world for weeks, it became an integral part of the visual history of the Northwest War of Independence, and is still shown today in virtually every documentary made on the subject.
Linda Hirsch was hiding behind the Oak Harbor moving van, but every few seconds she would lean out, gibber, fire a one-handed burst with her M-16 that she held like a pistol, and vanish again. Lockhart had no idea who the fat babbling target was, but it annoyed him, and he was determined to hit it.
Kicky McGee was dazed, disoriented, and by now she was completely out of her mind with pain from her wound and from incandescent rage at the destruction of her whole life by these people. She staggered up the street, screaming wordlessly in a hoarse voice, her left arm and side soaked with bright red blood, her honey blonde hair streaming behind her. In her mindless rage she held the Glock pistol at arm’s length in her right hand, firing it blindly in the general direction of her tormentors, hitting nothing.
It was a confused scene, and actually pretty pointless and ineffectual. Nobody was hitting anything, and no one besides Lockhart was even aiming. But it looked cool as hell on TV, and in America, that was what mattered. By sheer fortuitous accident, what the CNN camera caught for twenty seconds—and twenty seconds is a long sound byte on TV news—was a perfectly blocked shot of stunning dramatic impact. In the far center right of the screen Kicky seemed to stalk up the street. She was firing blindly, howling like an animal in an unthinking spasm of rage and madness, but what the world saw was a wounded Valkyrie screaming her war cry and charging the enemy machine guns that splattered in round strikes all around her.
Cat Lockhart fired one last .50-caliber round, the one that smashed Linda Hirsch’s skull to fragments like an exploding melon, and then he whirled and made a spectacular Zorro-like leap from the back of the Escalade into the flatbed of the Chevrolet. Jimmy Wingo ran forward, grabbed the berserk Kicky around her waist and lifted her over his shoulder, then ran back and tossed her into the back of the pickup like a sack of potatoes, before jumping in himself. Thing One leaped back into the cab and the blue Chevy then roared off down Flanders Street on the sidewalk, knocking over sandwich-board shop signs and sending an espresso cart flying. At 14th Avenue they were joined by the Grand Prix, and both vehicles floored it out along Highway 30.
There was no pursuit. Almost all the mobile police in the city were surrounding Waterfront Park [defending the US Vice President] and no one was available or willing to organize any response. No one had even bothered to radio Delta Two team or any other police and tell them what was going on. From the time Kicky McGee slammed the Escalade into Andy McCafferty until the time the blue Chevy pickup departed the area with all five Volunteers, exactly seventy seconds elapsed.
“You saw?” asked Cat in surprise.
“You were on live, my man. You’re all over CNN and every other damned channel. I got to tell you, if that little gun bunny (*) in there ever wants a transfer, you send her down our way,” he said admiringly, nodding into the living room toward Kicky. “Looked like she was ready to take on the whole Portland police force single-handedly.”
“They ambushed us on Flanders Street, sir,” said Lockhart. “The whole thing stinks. I think they knew we were coming.”
(*) Gun Bunny—Adolescent female Northwest Volunteer or associate of the NVA. A number of these young women distinguished themselves in combat, intelligence, and support roles during the War of Independence.
Chechar’s note: Every time I reread the lines of this blonde woman firing at her tormentors they move me almost on the verge of tears…