His boots glared back at him in mirrored pools of black- Army issue, combat style, shined to perfection with a tread so thick it could break the skull of any Commie-rat-bastard who found the great misfortune of having his face beneath the stomping footfall.
To get the steel toe and heel shiny was no big deal, but making the rest of the boot shimmer was where the effort came in. You had to be committed: cotton balls, alcohol, ice-cold water, Kiwi shoe polish, a lighter, Kiwi edge finish and either nylon panty hose or a cut-up t-shirt about 4"x8".
Only then would your boots resonate with, “The black”. Bible black, righteous in its military might. Opaque, impenetrable yet with the draw like a black hole, pulling you in to the deeps of an abyss no one had returned from. The type of black you’d see prying into the very soul of the most heartless killer, the serial rapist, the rank-and-file, money-driven, con-artist, floating at the outer rim of the coldest reaches of the universe. It was a black that told stories, evoked a chill in the bones. It was a shiny oil slick of black as if spawned from the fabled Exxon Valdez, not the black of a festering wound, robust with decay. To put it simply, those boots spoke and what they said was black death.
Everything about them made him proud to be an American, for these were, don’t fuck with me boots of leather, sole and laces tied to the point of cutting off circulation. They were laced with horizontal accuracy across the tongue and up the length to an anchor-bend knot at the top, not those fag bows- over under in and out that’s what tying is all about.
No, these were the boots of a mean motherfucker, who could cut them off with one swipe of a blade if he ever found himself floating in the deep shit. They could kick in the mental doors of the reinforced, steel, mind containing your darkest secrets and send a foot so far up your ass you’d taste shoe polish for years to come.
And these were his boots, the boots of Colonel Hayden Grant. Grant wasn’t officially a Colonel. Colonel was just a title bestowed on him, a bouquet of roses from his employers who had brought him to the napalm prom, where shit blows up in fifty shades of fiery red sending a fireworks display of blood and severed limbs into the heavens.
He hadn’t put in the time at West Point, or Annapolis, or any other military facility for that matter. What Hayden Grant knew, wasn’t taught on a blackboard, or twenty-mile marches through the drizzle and muck, by dropping and giving twenty, or by A.R. assembly in under thirty seconds. And what Hayden Grant could do, was a talent not many possessed- a rare gift of delivering the hand of death.
Grant leaned back and cupped his hands above his head as if in surrender. His hair was also army issue, sheered to a fine black bristle; In fact, he had more hair on his eyebrows, running like an un-pruned hedge along the length of his brow. In all, the perfect pinnacle to every pressed and tailored fold of uniform with a glistening belt-buckle star, twinkling in the fluorescent overheads of a waiting room at Peterson Air Force base in Colorado Springs.
As he pushed his solid frame into the couch cushions he allowed the small table in front of him the honour of providing a resting place for his boots.
What many didn’t know; the real trick to the shine was to first, get the factory gunk off with rubbing alcohol. Then take the laces out of those bad-boys and put them in a warm shower. It's almost like opening up the pores, or spreading sexy long legs in a gentle caress before pounding the genitalia into submission. Let them sit in the shower for ten minutes and then take them out.
Across form Grant sat a man hunched as in deep thought, or someone on the verge of pouring his breakfast in an evacuation of vomit onto the shinny linoleum. It was almost the same pose Graham Sheppard had used only hours ago. Yet, he was neither sick nor in quiet reflection and his choice of weapon was far from the instant death Sheppard had held in his hands. No, this man pinched a copy of Sports Illustrated’s Swim Suit issue. He held it tweezed between his nimble fingers as he sat with his head bowed studying every feature, every airbrushed inch of mannequin flesh, raised nipple, Botox induced pucker and rippled indent of vagina beneath designer fabric.
He was a wiry man and although they both sat you could tell he was the taller of the two. His ear was large for his head, as he only had one of them, and it jutted out from his right side like a wind-sail. The other had at one time been cut from his body, crudely cloven, with a less than razor-sharp instrument, leaving behind a small volcano of reddish flesh, bumpy and disfigured, like acne boiled in acid. Their uniform was similar in every way except for the boots. They seemed to lack the same lustre as Grant’s.
Sometimes you see people set the boot wax on fire before putting it on the boot. That's just too messy and doesn't work as well. The best way to get the boot to accept the wax is to heat the boot itself. Start in sections so that the wax takes faster. For instance, heat up just the steel toe area of the boot for about ten seconds before you apply the wax. Then do the heel and repeat, using the cotton balls to swipe about a thumbnail's worth of Kiwi wax onto it. Dip it into the cold water and then apply to the heated area. Use small circles until the entire area is covered like you’re rubbing the tiniest clitoris. You'll need to do this fairly quickly so that you don't lose the heat. Van Gogh wasn’t much for true boot shining protocol.
They had been through everything together, Grant and this Mr. Van Gogh; the black ops; the shameless killing, the endless hookers, doing their best to make those whores airtight before the stole their nylons for a good boot shinning. They had escalated conflicts together; they had assassinated those who became trouble to their employers. In essence, they were problem solvers- first class cleaners with military muscle. Whenever there was a need for resolution through the backdoor you called Grant and his associates.
Van Gogh twitched slightly, pawing at his phantom ear to ease the itch that could not be scratched, without so much as a bat of an eyelash from his magazine.
Grant remembered when it had all gone down, running guns to Chechen rebels. Van Gogh had been captured by the Russians and they had tortured him, carving his ear off in an effort to find out what an American was doing in the middle of a Russian civil war. They’d done it without much fanfare. There had been no rendition to Steeler’s Wheel grinding out “Stuck in the Middle,” from the speakers of a ghetto blaster in a pseudo black comedic moment, just a strip of razor wire and whole lot of screaming.
Grant had stormed in with the rest of their team and slaughtered every one of those dirty bastards. Unfortunately the one asshole with the razor wire still clutched in his dying hand, his life flashing before his eyes and four bullet holes in his abdomen had popped the entire ear in his mouth and swallowed the fuckin’ thing before they could retrieve it and pack it in ice.
“What’s the word Hayden?”
Hayden Grant brushed a fleck off his boots and returned his hands to his head like the interlocking tines of a fork. “We wait.”
“Waiting sucks ass.” Van Gogh thumped the page with his index finger, blotting out the face of a blond model on her knees in the sand, her arms raised in total submission as the waves rolled over her leaving specks of tiny diamond water beads. Apparently, Louie Vatton wasn’t just making handbags anymore. “Fuck me, look at the camel toe on this bitch. I can’t tell if it’s real or brushed in?” Van Gogh lowered his face to the page for a closer inspection. “But it sure makes my rocks hard.”
“Semper Fi brother. Semper Fi.”
The call had gone out to Hayden Grant. His employers needed someone silenced, some former hot-shot scientist who knew too much. This post was a piece of cake compared to the other black-ops his employers had asked him to be involved in, from the U.S.S. Cole, to controlled demolitions on 911, Grant was the man. Shit, if he’d been alive back in the sixties, he’d probably been involved in the bombing of the U.S.S. Liberty too.
You could be sure that if any slime ball, thorn in the side to his employers was still alive, it was because it was wanted that way- a poster child for evil from Kabul to Islamabad. Every now and then he’d be thrown a tid-bit, a second in command, something to wet the appetite of the public and renew the bonds of the fight against terrorism. This time would be no different. Innocent American’s would die, the area would be quarantined, others would be blamed and the whole nation would rally behind the cries of death. While months of inquests buried the dead under mountains of paperwork, all eyes would focus elsewhere and the real work here would begin. It had worked before, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran. Just give them a reason to take on the North Koreans or the fuckin’ chinks and all is golden. The masses were so stupid, so gullible. If only they knew the true, one enemy.
Dr. Robert Forder knew.....or was it Sheppard now? Whatever he called himself it didn’t change the outcome, the truth was dangerous and the truth in the hands of a man who knew it, even more so. That’s why Grant was here with his boots, to put an end to a lunatic’s claim and finger pointing. Not that the sick and the dying listen much to the rants of a madman.
He would have had Sheppard by now except the idiot had gone right into the flame and it was too soon to follow.
He knew this whole operation was now a game of wait and see. Phase one of Project Eden was now complete, nothing to do but wait for anarchy and see chaos come down the pipe and then break out the hazmat suits like he was dressing for a dinner party, go in and clean up.
Yet, Grant felt a percolating anger, being robbed of something precious. The killing of Sheppard was a berth right that was his and his alone. Finding Sheppard lying by the roadside with his guts twisted inside out, after the fact, gave him no pleasure, no matter how much pain the man might have suffered. He had wanted Sheppard, to stick the blade and twist slowly as he watched the horror in the man’s eyes. Grant would slowly unzip his belly from button to balls while Sheppard watched his guts fall out with a wet slap before he died.
Both he and Van Gogh knew a lot, but Hayden Grant knew everything. The whole anchelotta of what was in process. The power of the knowledge was overwhelming at times and he knew by following the righteous path, this angel of death would have a spot in the new world order. The brave new world would need a man like him to keep focused.
But what Grant didn’t know? The waiting was nearly over. Soon, the phone would ring and new orders would come down. The jet helicopter would be warm and ready to rock and roll all the way to Coram. “Someone was to be extracted from the hot zone at all costs, a special package, an Indigo, but if Sheppard interfered by all means add him to the casualty list with extreme prejudice.”