Here’s another fun word of the day exercise, this time for “velleity.”
I had no idea what that word meant, so here’s the definition:
velleity \ vuh-LEE-i-tee \ , noun;
1. Volition in its weakest form.
2. A mere wish, unaccompanied by an effort to obtain it.
Now you can say you learned something today! Yay for educational blog content!
Ok, on to the story.
Velleity – 1,220 words
“What’s it gonna take to get you to rise up and be men?”
Preacher’s voice echoes in my ears, and I snap my head up, taking in my surroundings. I sit at the jungle’s edge, drifting off, cradling Erma, my “second wife.” She’s wrapped in my poncho. Rainwater runs down my back and pools beneath me. I see my breath in the chilled night air.
The compound before me is stirring. de Corsa is about to move. Seven pickups sit in the courtyard, engines running. He doesn’t fear the authorities. Probably owns half of them already. But de Corsa isn’t stupid. The US-sponsored counter-drug missions may not be effective, but he’s not going to parade a shipment of cocaine in front of them by daylight.
I pat Erma. “Time to get ready. He’ll be out soon.”
Bodyguards file out, taking positions. “Like anyone’s really going to storm his compound, right?” Erma says nothing, just watches.
They’re carrying M-4 carbines, AK-47s… a few have P90s. Everyone carries a shoulder-holster sidearm. I know from past observations each of those pickup trucks has an M-60 in the flatbed.
“He must be getting softer after all these years, you think? Not like anyone’s given him cause to be scared since Valentin.”
She’s quiet still, snug and dry in the poncho. Never likes waking up, that one. I check my gear as I chat with her.
“No one but Preacher,” I continue. “And everybody saw how that played out.”
I see him again, pacing at the front of the church a week ago, screaming at the congregation like a good Southern Baptist. “You all turned the other cheek and bowed your heads when de Corsa took over. But it wasn’t love moving you. It was fear!”
His voice rang out in the silence. Tears ran down his bright red face, across straining neck muscles. “I know!” he cried out. “I did it too. I thought if I put my head down, preached nice useless sermons, handed out some fruit now and then, it would all be fine.”
He pounded the podium and pointed at the caskets behind him. “It. Is. Not. Fine!”
Wasn’t nothing in them… there wasn’t enough to bury after the car bomb killed his wife and girl. But I saw something inside of Preacher now, and I wasn’t sure if it was the Lord or the Devil.
Preacher decided to stand up to de Corsa, and he told us we should too. I saw heads nod in the church… the same faces that closed up shutters and locked doors when de Corsa came to town the next day.
Maybe they all knew what I knew. There’s always another de Corsa. You kill this guy, someone else will come along to run the operation. Or a few someones, and they’ll fight it out. Either way, the townfolk lose. The devil we know is better than one we don’t.
That’s what I been telling myself for the last fifteen years. Back then the big name was Valentin. I put a bullet between his eyes. Erma was there for that one, too.
Don’t know if it was Valentin’s boys or their rivals, but two dozen townfolk got rounded up and butchered in the street a day later. One was my lady friend. One was our son.
When Ana died, I learned what it would take to get me to sit down, look the other way, pretend to not hear the cry for help.
I feel a twinge in my chest as I see their faces again, but I shut that crap down fast. It’s not even scar tissue now. “No distractions, Erma. Let’s do this.”
Erma still won’t say anything. Gives me that cold shoulder of hers, the one that won’t quit until I’m honest. I know what she’s thinking. Why now? You been hiding all this time, why step up now?
“Men like de Corsa need to know not everyone quivers when they walk by.”
Erma doesn’t respond. I don’t think she buys it.
“He’s an animal, a wild jackal tearing at the weak, picking the bones clean. You don’t coexist with a beast like him. You take him out.”
I really hope she lets up on me, but I know she won’t. She just sits there, cold, lifeless. Like Ana.
Not my lady friend, not that Ana. “It’s Preacher’s daughter,” I finally admit.
Erma’s listening now.
“You weren’t there,” I tell her. “You were downstairs.”
They dragged Preacher through the streets, let everyone see him broken and bleeding. Said he assaulted the compound, killed a few men with a shotgun he got from God knows where.
They left him lying on his back in the dirt, and de Corsa’s limo pulled up. He walked out, kicked Preacher in the ribs, laughed as he doubled up. Then de Corsa calls out for everyone else to hear, “You killed my men. So what? You think you hurt me?”
He pulled out a gun and shot his own men. Two of them, dead right there on the road. “They don’t mean anything to me,” he explained. Then he signaled to his men, and they pulled a little girl out of the limo. She was tied up and gagged, but everyone could see it was Preacher’s daughter, Ana.
Preacher broke down, crawled toward her. And de Corsa ambled alongside him. “Oh yes, it’s her. We took her after we drugged your wife and left her in the car. She’d fetch a pretty penny across the Pacific.”
Then he shot her. And while she bled out, he turned to Preacher, hard as a headstone. “Where’s God now? Is He coming to get me?”
Preacher didn’t say nothing, but we all heard him sobbing into the dirt. And then de Corsa put the barrel to Preacher’s head and fired.
And I stood in my living room and watched through the blinds. de Corsa waved his gun around a bit, threatened everyone else. Seemed disappointed when no one answered him. I watched him spit on Preacher and get in his limo and drive away.
“That’s why, Erma,” I said. I had her attention now. “I didn’t do nothing. And I could have.”
Better late than never, Erma seems to say. I reach into my cargo pocket. Three-thirty-eight Magnum rounds are a bit bigger than most, but they’re wicked accurate and pack a better punch at range. My clip has five rounds.
I only need one.
I pick up my Erma SR-100 and sight in on the mansion’s side door. It swings open and two more guards step out, weapons ready. Then I see him.
He takes two steps into the courtyard, laughing with one of his henchmen.
I squeeze. De Corsa’s head disappears. His body slumps forward, hitting the nearest truck with a thud I swear I can hear from six hundred meters. His men panic, waving guns around.
I press the remote trigger in my pocket. Seven trucks go up in roiling flames, then the eighth bomb next to the gas main takes down half the compound. Fires light up the night sky, and I hear the screams of men knocking on the doors of hell.
“What’s it gonna take for you to rise up?” I can answer your question now, Preacher.
I’m sorry; it took Ana.