"Well, I pick up my axe and fight like a bomber.
Hey! And your Bullets keep knocking me down"
From "Machine Gun by Jimi Hendrix
WE ALREADY WON
Read part one here:
Oscar snapped out of his intricate but various pathways of possibilities concerning the deep thought involved with creating his new lunch routine.
The paper towel Oscar used to dry his now clean hands-- from an economically green machine that the plant manager earlier boasted about how it could 'pay for itself over and over'-- was thrown toward the waste receptacle as the last co-worker exited the bathroom.
The wadded up paper towel bounced off the garbage cans rim and came to rest on the floor.
Oscar caught the closing bathroom door with his right foot as opposed to his hand. The door was nearly black with dirt and grime in the spot where countless dirty hands pushed open the door. A moments realization quickly pulled his foot away letting the door shut. He bent down to pick up the paper towel and dropped it squarely in the trash. Momentarily he stood there motionless. A quick glance had shown that all the bathroom stalls were empty.
He was alone. In a factory of 100+ full-time employees working MoreFasterBetter, Oscar found an area of solace away from everyone. The employee bathroom at lunchtime! As a sort of side-meaning to the mans gotta shit rule, no one wanted to spend their 20 minute faux-lunch doing something they could do on company time! So for the next 15 minutes (at least) this bathroom would only be occupied (in theory) by him.
No pesky co-workers prying into his business or looking over his shoulders in the cafeteria, the outside picnic table or otherwise. It was easy enough to just deliver a lie to anyone asking or peeping about what he was doing, but it was morally better not resorting to a lie to explain his actions.
He reached deeply into his 'clean pocket' which was the left-hand pocket of his work trousers. The pocket he never placed his machine-dirty hands or tools into... This was the pocket that held his mobile phone. He retrieved it and went into the bathroom stall and closed the doors.
The new routine Oscar was creating was birthed from his unwavering devotion to the Central African Conflict on more than one front. He not only put in five or six days and 11-12 hour workdays in the factory with only a 20 minute faux-lunch break in the un-air conditioned and sparsely heated factory running machines as a way for him to sustain himself, but in his free-time he held a position as part of the most decorated civilian reconnaissance units (CRU) the Central African Conflict had yet seen. His unit was designated as The Party's Over.
He didn't bother with unbuckling his pants and making it seem he was really using the bathroom. Instead Oscar choose to sit directly on the toilet seat fully clothed. He checked his phones reception. The reception was good, and after a successful log-in to AF-COMM he awaited his mission.
AF-COMM was the shortened form of saying 'African Command'--the uniformed military leaders that were in charge of all military operations in the African Theatre, a place that currently included the bloody Central African Conflict. Uganda, True Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan... Oscar was doing his part for his countries interest. It was feared this conflict ound spread to involve the entire African continent. As if things couldn't get worse! Sometimes it seemed that there wasn't enough bullets or napalm for all of Americas enemies and/or interest.
After activating the application, his phones screen went all-black except for the word processing and a rotating silhouette of the African Continent with the AF-COMM logo to visualize that something was both happening and about-to-happen.
It had been nearly four months since he qualified for one of the Civilian Reconnaissance Units, or as they were more commonly known in their common form, the CRU's. The CRU's were a civilian based, all-volunteer private contractor military-like unit of men and women that reported via their smart phone application for service. The CRU program was maintained by several different private companies. Oscar reported to a company called EAS and his squadron was called The Party's Over. CRU members passed a series of rigorous proficiency test and attained certification to run real-time drone reconnaissance missions or, in other select cases (if their scores were high enough) members would also be allowed to operate armed clone strikes. Clandestinely of course.
The Party's Over was supposedly composed of 10-30 rotating members-- or that's what the pamphlet said. Oscar didn't know for sure because as part of the program the participants were not ever to talk about their participation on a public or private level. Oscars only person-to-person contact was with his handler at EAS who was only addressed as Party-1.
The CRU program members never knew who their unit mates were. Oscar and the others signed confidentiality agreements with their private contractor company to keep their known involvement in the CRU program secret. Upon 'graduation' via e-mail, Oscar was awarded the privileged use of a smart phone application which would patch him and other CRU members directly into drones already launched and in-flight to carryout missions from afar.
Exploits from the Central African Conflict and the CRU program were regularly featured on evening news and enjoyed high ratings in the televised Public Poles as 'positive actions.' The Party's Over and other CRUs were seen as honored civilians volunteering for their countries benefit. After all, the CRU's were primarily promoted as a non-lethal reconnaissance 'information gathering' units or deliverers of supply drops which included humanitarian aid/or soldier re-supply plus and other, various reconnaissance missions.
On his phone, Oscar knew he was securely linked into the AF-COMM system when the greeting appeared: Welcome O-1-4 you qualify for the following missions:
O-1-4 was Oscars identity call-number. His choice was between COOL or HOT.
The COOL choice was a run-of-the-mill reconnaissance mission or supply drops. No killing, just cameras gathering intel for AF-COMM to analyze or supplies for soldiers and desolated populace. The HOT option was a combat mission. You get orders, targets and commands from AF-COMM and within 12 hours, a report would be sent to your e-mail with your BPA (Body, Property, Asset) figures. These figures then translated to Patriot Points. Points that you could use in any variety of ways... Gift cards for stores or restaurants, Income Tax credits, vacations... The choices were endless and all donated from CRU booster companies. Personally, Oscar was saving up his points for a four days/three night stay at a Florida resort.
As it was designed most of Oscars squadron were just given one option upon signing in and only a very small percentage had the second option that now faced Oscar. Oscar, as usual, chose the second option that scored more points.
The AF-COMM logo and continent silhouette reappeared. In less than 30 seconds he would be in the air in a fully armed drone with weapons pre-chosen for mission parameters with the bathroom stall as his cockpit. If no combat missions were available, he would still run a COOL mission if one was available--if that's all they had. Per Oscars CRU initiation pamphlet there were approximately 25 known CRUs spread apart by several different private companies so sometimes, there wasn't a mission. You still got some Patriot Points just for logging in. Oscar got the approval
You are GO for a HOT mission O-1-4!
Oscar smiled and quickly read the mission parameters and weapons load. Oscar was given, per usual, one final way out if his mind about his mission choice. ACCEPT or DENY.
Oscar chose ACCEPT and soon found himself piloting a heavily armed drone, flying due west in the skies over True Congo. His weapons load consisted of antipersonnel and anti-armor missiles with an accompaniment of four .50 caliber guns and ample ammunition. Basically Oscars drone strike load featured all air-ground weapons. His mission was to search for a column of reinforcements heading to re-supply True Congolese Government soldiers that were currently locked in savage hand to hand combat with African Allied troops dug in on the Uganda border... Then destroy them.
The Central African Theatre was eight hours ahead of Oscars time zone. In the Congo it was 5pm... Using his phone, it was only a few minutes until his targets entered his radar and registered as a red triangle on his phones combat operations screen. Oscars phone began beeping coinciding with the flashing red triangle of which would increase in volume as he got closer to his kill zone.
At that time someone walked into the bathroom that Oscar thought was going to be his private area for lunch. The person took the stall next to him. Oscar turned the volume down on his phone as the beeping got closer and louder. Oscar took his eyes of his mission to try and identify who it was by glancing at the stall occupants shoes.
"Hey Oscar. What's up man? What game you playing?" One of Oscars co-workers, 'Tone' whose real name was Tony, noticed his shoes and addressed him by name.
"Uh... Yeah Tone. You guessed it!"
"I was trying to save this dump for company time but it couldn't wait"
Oscar got a visual on his target. The reinforcements were mobile in converted civilian trucks, cars and busses. Everywhere someone could sit was being sat upon. You could barely see the vehicles under the scantily clad troops that barely had any article of clothing that made them look like they were anything except soldiers. They were (at best) local militia. Probably drug-mercenaries-- men and boys alike riding, fighting, and even killing for their next fix.. Oscar noticed the flashes of small arms fire as they noticed the drone. Oscar lowered his altitude to come into striking range fitting the quad barrel .50 caliber weapons in a strafing run. He could see soldiers jumping from the vehicles running for cover. They knew what was about to happen.
"How's that set-up going on D-4 man?" Shit thought Oscar. Good ol' Tony being Tony... Even at lunch he talked about work. Oscar was pre-occupied. His answer was a brief generalization.
"I'm getting ready to finish it up." It was a bullshit reply because conceptually, as soon as anyone starts a project of any sorts, they are getting ready to finish it up.Oscar let loose the drones armament of propelled munitions bringing hell down upon the reinforcement column. The screen of Oscars phone turned into a swarm of explosions. Oscar switched to the drones rear camera as he pulled up from his drop.
Flashes and large explosions enveloped the whole phones screen. The entire mission was a success. Mission Accomplished blinked on Oscars screen. As he turned the drone around for another low flyby and follow-up strafe run he would survey the damage, Oscar seen that every vehicle in the column was ablaze. There appeared to be no movement from the scattered infantry either. Oscar fired the remaining munitions for the .50 Calibers. Oscar pulled the drone out of it's lower altitude flyby and instantly AF-COMM assumed the controls signaling that his mission reached a second level of affirmative success.
Oscars phone went back to the AF-COMM logo. Next to him Tony was having a loose bowel movement with all of it's associated sounds and smells.
"Fuck... Fire-hole!... Those wings I had last night are tearing me up!" Oscar didn't acknowledge Tone's awkward statement. Any answer Oscar thought of as a reply seemed just as awkward as his initial statement. After-all what could be said in reply?
The AF-COMM logo gave way to a new message KILL TOTALS PENDING...
So another reconnaissance drone mission would be dispatched to survey the damage and send kill totals back through AF-COMM. A message would be sent back to Oscar translating the whole ordeal into patriot points..
Tony had another bowel blowout next to him and the oder became unbearable. Sal became more vocal.
"Oh man! I'm really blowing it out today! Whew!"
Then Oscar heard the familiar rustle and opening of a potato chips bag. It was followed by a loud crunch and Tony holding the opened bag of chips under the stall partition shaking the bag for appearance asking Oscar if he wanted one.
Oscar turned off his phone, placed it in his clean pocket and then exited the stall without acknowledging Sal's bathroom potato-chip offer.
"Didn't mean to run ya out buddy" Tony laughed loudly and added "See ya on the battlefield."
Tony was referring to their company department as a battlefield. It was a common thing to say among department staff. Oscar was certain Tony knew nothing about his involvement with the CRU program but it did cause a momentary pause for Oscar. Oscar took oaths and confidentially agreements seriously. Did Tony hear the missions bleeps and blips and recognize them? Was Tony part of the CRU program and was testing the water with his dual purpose chatter?
"Yeah man... See you on the front-lines." Oscar said while exiting thinking of his completed mission and wondering how many patriot points it would translate into. He would like to get enough to get that Florida vacation...
Story by Shawn Abnoxious
Editing by Shirley Hoover
Graphics: Fuxter Schittly
Thanks: Julie, Olive, Juice, Fuxter and the best mother-in-law a guy could have, Shirley.