#FridayFlash: The Only Clinic in South Dakota



Soon... very soon... but not yet. The shooter ran his thumb across the safety of the bolt-action FN 30-.06 rifle, thinking. It was on SAFE position, just as it had been for the past two hours. Invisible inside his deer hunting ghillie suit, he shrugged his shoulders, trying to stay loose in the cold. Eyes burning with purpose and with a clear field of view, there was no way he could miss the baby killer when he came out. The protests, the placards, the praying - they were all well and good, but he knew that God and the angels acted through men of courage, not through signs and speeches. It was a damned shame that the fine old 1954 heirloom rifle had to be sacrificed. However, it was one of the last guns in his collection that had no papers associated with it, no ballistics on file anywhere. It would do the job that needed to be done. Afterwards? The oak stock would be burnt to ashes, the rest of the rifle melted to slag in an electric arc furnace. Sad, but worth the price.

He peeked down through the scope and turned on the Red Dot sight. The batteries were fresh, but he didn't want to take chances, not with it as cold as it is. Inside the 16X lens, a glowing red reticle lined up on the wing mirror of the baby killer's silver Audi. Lying prone, with the stock resting on a beanbag, he knew he could put the entire five round clip through a quarter-sized target at that distance. All he needed was for the murderer to hold still for the first shot; after that, he'd be still for the other four rounds whether he wanted to be or not.

*****

Soon... very soon... but not yet. The doctor ran his thumb across the button of his remote starter for his A4, thinking. There was more paperwork to do, just as there had been for the past two hours. Stifling inside his overheated office, he shrugged his shoulders, trying to shake off lethargy in the heat. His clients were scared, his nurses were nervous, he was overworked; he never thought he'd miss the noise of Chicago when he came out here. The protests, the placards, the praying - they were all bad enough, but he knew that medicine and the law acted through men of courage, not through legislators and letters to the editor. It was a damned shame that the constitutional rights of these women were being sacrificed to the religious mania of the wingnuts. However, the last fights had been fought in the papers, as there were no more lawsuits to file anywhere. He would do the job that needed to be done. Afterwards? His HMO stock would be in ashes, the rest of his portfolio melted away. Sad, but worth the price.

He peeked through the blinds and keyed on the car. The remote starter was new, but he didn't want to take chances, not with things as hot as they were. Inside the A4, the white dome light came on, then dimmed away, everything normal as could be. Standing up, with his briefcase resting on a chair, he knew he could be blown to bits, that he was a target for a car bomb. All he needed was to keep moving, keep ahead of the lunatics and fanatics; after that, he could provide the medical care that his patients needed, wanted, and deserved.

*****

Soon... very soon... but not yet. The sheriff ran his thumb across the focus ring of his night-scope binoculars, thinking. There were more officers on alert, just as there had been for the past two months. Shivering inside his frigid cruiser, he shrugged his shoulders, trying to stay focused in the night. Muscles cramping from sitting too long, he missed the quiet normalcy of burglary, rape, and domestic abuse he'd left behind to come out here to watch a man be killed. The protests, the placards, the praying - they weren't nearly enough. He knew that fear and hate acted in men, be they doctors or the devout. It was a damned shame this abortion clinic ever opened, that the relative peace and quiet of his town had to be sacrificed in a war between the baby killing liberals and the hellfire and damnation pseudo-Christians. However, it was, at last, down to the papers the FBI had sent along, as the credible threats they'd identified left no more doubts anywhere. His force was called on to do the job that needed to be done. Afterwards? His reelection chances would be in ashes, the rest of his professional life slagged. Sad, and not at all worth the price.

He peeked through the binoculars and turned up the gain on the night vision. The situation was new, but he didn't want to take chances, not with that shooter as itchy as he was. Inside the clinic, the doctor moved behind the bulletprooof glass. Sitting quietly, with his hand resting on the dashboard switch bank, the sheriff knew that the lights and siren would take the shooter's aim off his target. All he needed to do was to move his finger when he saw the man take off the rifle's safety; after that, he could bring him in to justice and go back to waiting for the next shooter. And the next. And the next.

Or... he could move his finger just a moment too late. He'd still bring the shooter to justice, but without a baby killing doctor, this damned clinic would go away. Things would go back to normal. He could go back to upholding easier laws.

The Audi was running, the shooter was shifting, the moment of decision was approaching.

Soon... very soon...

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.

15 comments:

  1. Oh, I really liked this. One of your best.

    The shifting, repetitive povs and rationals echoed true to the characters, and I like how you took a hot topic and didn't advocate either side... or both, depending on how it's read.

    Riveting.

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    1. Thanks, Cathy. This is as hot a topic as I care to address. I suspect that this piece will please neither side.

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  2. Powerful stuff. I can see why you had a hard time getting this one down, but it was worth it.

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    1. This one was tricky to write, for several reasons. Thanks for reading, Larry!

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  3. Brilliant all the way through. My heartbeat was growing faster and faster as each point of view developed. Very glad I read this, powerful and real piece Tony.




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    1. Thanks Cindy. I'm glad it resonated with you.

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  4. Fabulous flash Tony. Really excellent way to expose these divisions

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  5. Malevalent patience. Certainly has some of your strongest voice, Tony. Such heinous thoughts and acts do that to some writers - Eudora Welty's "Where Is The Voice Coming From?" comes to mind. Thanks for sharing this. It looks like tricky work.

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    1. This was tricky to write. The word and phrase repeats meant going back and reworking each section so that they made sense internally, such as with "papers" to mean gun registration records vs. newspapers vs. surveillance intelligence reports.

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  6. Very well told.
    Adam B @revhappiness

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  7. I'm glad I live in a country where issues like this are no longer so 'hot', shall we say. Still, you've managed to balance all three points of view very well, and the echoing refrain between the segments suggests the three men have more in common than they'd care to admit.

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    1. A fanatic, a crusader and a pragmatist... each of them have a rich internal perspective on this, and each has an imperfect understanding of the other two.

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  8. Oh, this is clever, Tony. While being pro choice, I can't help but sympathise with the sheriff's dilemma

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