My Kind of Town
Taking it personal
>> H-1, ewa-bound
Commander Chuck Ryan of Navy intelligence accelerated the champagne Intrepid onto the freeway, then settled into the slow lane, waiting.
"Just passing University," he said into his secure-line cellular's hands-free mike. "Cruising at 45."
"You can get killed that way around here," he heard Lt. Martin Luther Washington say. "We're just passing the Kapiolani exit, doing 55. It's the silver-blue van." He added the license number.
Martin was right, Ryan thought, glancing in the rearview mirror. You can get killed going 45 on this freeway. God, it's all speed and cut-throat chaos. What the hell had happened to Hawaii? Ryan had been here often over the years, pulling one tour at Pearl and another with CINCPAC at Camp Smith. Hawaii drivers were always courteous. And slow, he remembered, they always drove slower than people on the mainland. But, whoa, not anymore. Ryan didn't know what had gotten into Hawaii, but he didn't like it. A huge green pickup truck cut in front of him, forcing him to hit the brakes. On the rear of the truck was a bumper sticker, "Live Aloha." What a joker.
The truck took the Wilder exit. Ryan glanced in the rearview mirror again, saw the silver-blue van in the middle lane gaining on him.
Behind his tinted windows, Ryan could afford to check the occupants of the van as it passed him. Muhammed Resurreccion was like so many other Muslim terrorists, surrounding himself with innocent women, even a child. She was cute as could be, maybe 6 or 7.
And suddenly it was personal. Sooner or later, it always was. That's what happens when lives, including your own, are on the line. But this time there was more to it than that. Another soldier, another Army, even another cause that he could respect, even as they did battle. But, dammit, a real man, a real warrior, just does not use innocent women and children as tools and shields. He didn't know what Muhammed was planning, but Ryan would be damned if he'd allow him to injure one hair on that little girl's head.
"Got 'em," Ryan said, gradually accelerating, but letting the van pass him and gain eight car lengths.
"I got your 6," Martin said.
"Thanks. The way people drive over here, we ought to put in for combat pay."
The van passed the downtown exits, and Ryan breathed a sigh of relief. But if that wasn't Muhammed's target, what was?
Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek.
His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin
with weekly summaries on Sunday.
He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org