Chapter 6

 

McCloud dressed in his recently acquired clothes emerged into the old stable.  The kurta lay open unbuttoned on his shoulder he reached up buttoning it as he walked amid the stacks of crates.  McCloud noticed the clipboard on top of one of the crates.  The shipment papers stamped "Top Secret" fastened securely to the clipboard.  McCloud begins to check off the crates to make sure there was none missing.

Before he could finish, he heard an approaching caravan, which comes to a screeching halt.  Their vehicles close enough he could see them as he peered through the open cracks.  His heart pounded as dust came pouring in past the splinters through the slots of the stable mingling with the scent of the straw that lay strewn about.  

McCloud waited until the men approached the front gate; casually, he motioned them forward.  Once inside, the entourage of men begins callously watching McCloud as he continues, lumbering about with clipboard in hand casually checking off crate after crate.  His wavy brown hair springing out from underneath the cream-colored taqiyah he is wearing adds to his look of having worked many hours.  From time to time, he would stop then patiently stroke the new growth that would soon become a beard. 

Confident in his newly acquired white kurta; McCloud went about checking everything off the shipment.  McCloud walking atop the straw littering the floor went past one or two long forgotten bales of straw pushed to the side.  With the finished final comparison, McCloud steps toward the entourage grouped together hesitantly waiting, talking among themselves.  With clipboard in hand, gesturing with insistence to them it was their turn to examine the shipment. 

Looking among each other quietly, one of the men steps forward reaches out taking the clipboard out of McCloud’s hand along with the pen.  Two more came forward to assist the first.

Their boots clack as the business of comparing and checking off the crates continues, obviously experienced at this sort of thing.  Their eyes start gleaming as they check every detail of their long awaited delivery.  The men became more impressed as they physical check by opening every crate to ensure the contents were inside. 

From one of the crates they pull out a submachine gun, come back to the group, and hand it to one of the men standing there.  "Ohhs and Ahhs" break out along with their invigorated smiles.  He was looking at every detail of the submachine gun then holds it up over his head, displaying it with grace.  Sounds of definite approval broke out throughout the group.  From the short time they had arrived, their moods had gone from skeptical down-and-out, to being downright elated.  McCloud had made them very jubilant.  McCloud was a happy man; it was working thus far.

The first man goes about checking off the shipment, his eyes flicker as he reads what is next on the list, stopping, he motions, drawing the others close.  They appear to be feeling the same anticipation as they move toward the large crate then stand by to peer inside the open crate.   The SA-7 Grail Surface-to-air-missile system, is staring back at them, there was complete silence.  McCloud to fill the part; dotingly says, "And those can be readied in 3.5 seconds or less."  The men give McCloud glazing looks that quickly informed him these men were already hardened, and he did not need to inform them on anything pertaining to their weapons. 

One man that stood out from the others and was taller than the rest of the group steps away from his entourage walks over by McCloud and stands next to him with his arms folded.  McCloud quickly surmises this to be their leader.  McCloud did not move; together standing in silence watching those checking through the crates.  McCloud feels a bit underdressed though, not having a dagger hanging from around his neck.

After the counting was complete, the man calmly states to McCloud in well-spoken English, "You did very well for us, it isn’t as it used to be procuring some of these items," he paused, in reflection.  Then he states, "Although I am quite surprised that you attended to these matters in person."  McCloud not having a clue of what he was talking about just nodded as if to agree with him.

McCloud was having a hard time watching as the arsenal of weaponry unfolded.  There was enough equipment here for a small army.  Not to mention it must have cost a large fortune.

After awhile the tall man begins speaking with McCloud, "When you said you could get these for us, I wasn’t sure if I should count on it, an American that is not trying to double cross us is hard to find."  McCloud understands the compliment so he responds, "I am glad you are pleased; all this was not easy to come by."  The tall man nods fully aware of recent complications and could not help smiling ever so slightly on procuring a huge shipment like this.  This leads to his next statement, “We must have someone like you with us,” pondering his forthcoming statement prior to utterance, then states, “You, clearly you, would be an invaluable asset to the future of our operation, now that we’re doing much more procurement ourselves."  He stops realizing a considerable problem, "If only I could teach you the true meaning of our brotherhood," the tall man states candidly.  The men now finished with the accounting of their shipment, are taken aback from the words their leader spoke, they start gathering around with interest, a few shunning with disregard.  One man steps toward them as he speaks, "Sheik, what are you saying," he quietly asks, after which he remains close by.

Their Leader just nods in acknowledgement, and then goes on speaking with McCloud, "We can promise you spiritual endeavors if you come join us, I can tell you are a religious man but you are American as well."  The murmurs spread through the group; McCloud can tell they are uncertain and unwilling to speak out against the leader.  After the murmurs quieted so he could speak, he continues as he begins shaking his head sadly, "And being just that you are more than likely, more in love with Rock and Roll than a just cause and religious encounter."  McCloud looks directly at him as silence spreads throughout the stable waiting for McCloud’s answer.  Then loudly, and fervently McCloud responds, "_ _ _ _, Rock and Roll," doubling his fists as he speaks then throws his left one into it into the air a time or two with exuberance as he turns looking at the men then back at their leader.

First there is a stunned silence then comes an outburst of vigorous bellowing commencing throughout as everyone comes together; patting each other on the back, joining arm in arm forming a half circle.  Though they all join in some seem puzzled why everyone is so elated.  They become enormously loud with their celebratory excitement.  The only men that were standing guard outside rush inside to see what is taking place.  Seeing the cache of weaponry along with the jubilance, they join in though not knowing what all the excitement is about.

"Put your life in subjection to Allah today," one of the men spoke signaling McCloud.  "You don’t know how much I want too," McCloud enthusiastically responds, as he becomes the center of their celebration.  "Ok its set then you will come be part of our effort," the tall man entreats.  McCloud calmly hiding his static counters, "It’s a deal but I have," pausing as he was formulating the right words, "pressing business concerns I must complete."  The tall man reaches for the pen.  The men using it quickly hand it over.  With pen in hand, he motions McCloud to come closer.  They both looked around for writing material.  There was not anything close by except the papers on the clipboard.  Which they quickly hand over, the Sheik tears off a piece of the paper; writing something down then handed it to McCloud.  As McCloud accepted the note, he was completing what he had been saying before, "For now, I have last minute business to attend to."  Looking down at the paper then back McCloud gives a nod of understating to Abu Abdullah of what he had written down.

After a few more celebratory moments, McCloud making gestures of regret that he has to take off towards the men slowly turns leaving the celebration. 

Once outside the stable, he cautiously makes his way toward the vehicle.  Feeling the keys taped to his belly; he quickly pulls them off to remove as little hair as possible.  A deep red spot of flesh appears; he lightly rubs as he continues.

The dusty scorched ground covered with fresh footprints and tires tracks from the entourage; leaves little notice of the footprints McCloud imprints as he walks towards the vehicle.  The over abundant heat from the afternoon sun was quickly causing beads of sweat down McCloud’s back as he reaches the secluded thicket in front of the stable.

McCloud looks around for any movement of life; he could not see anyone tracking him.  He can still hear them gathered inside, celebrating.  McCloud flinches as machine guns begin firing into the air.  Approaching his vehicle, he slows down.  He casts a cautious glance over his shoulder, then into the vehicle before he unlocks the door.  He starts the vehicle completely elated that all had gone better than anticipated.  McCloud, backs the vehicle slowly, and then takes off on the dirt road with the gas pedal pushed to the floor. 

Muffled sounds begin coming from the floor behind him.  McCloud ignoring these sounds concentrates on his destination.  After traveling for quite some time, McCloud approaches the main highway.  Looking around with no other vehicles in sight, he stops the vehicle.  Then he turns around in his seat, reaches behind him; moves the scattered leaflets aside then throws back the canvas.  Stripped down to the bare minimum, lying there with his feet and hands bound unable to move was McCloud’s newly acquired Afghan.  Much too the dismay of the Afghani McCloud had overtaken him and switched places, clothes and all just in the nick of time before the group of Warriors had arrived.  "Thanks for the use of your cloths; you won’t need them where you are going, so I’ll make good use of them.  By the way Usama Bin Laden is extremely happy with his delivery."

The man starts struggling to free himself, but can not.  McCloud checks the Afghan’s hands and feet; still securely bound his face red with rage.  The Afghani is trying to speak, however being gagged he can not.  McCloud rips the tape off his mouth and unties the kerchief tied around his head to silence him.  Immediately, he begins stammering on and on in Pashto.  McCloud completely ignoring him pulls back onto the road and drives forward.

McCloud comes to the Pakistani border he cautiously makes his way through the rugged terrain; luckily forewarned that it was one of the world’s most brutal regions and now McCloud understands why.  The day has turned into the most bountiful moonlit night.  He drives through Peshawar without stopping, finally reaching Islamabad; he parks close to the US Embassy. 

McCloud had planned to unload his live cargo on the doorstep of the US Embassy.  Then McCloud asks, "Your name, tell me your name," the man slowly responds Mezi, Mezi Euless.  "Well, Mezi really did not want to do this," he says as he delivers a condemning blow with his fist to the side of his cheek.  With Mezi not talking now and undetected, McCloud formulates a better plan.  Once McCloud has completely changed his mind he quickly drives in the other direction just as the break of day is coming forth.

McCloud checks into the Islamabad Marriott.  Once settled, Euless and all, McCloud takes the note out of his front pocket, unfolds it, reading what is written, he makes the call; 873682505331 he turns on the PLGR GPS the Major had equipped him with and lines up his destination.