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No Money In Idealism: Part One
A woman's running down the middle of the street, shrieking, burning, pulling at her hair. Somewhere, there's a baby crying, and someone's shooting, and then the baby's cries stop.
Twelve years old, gun bigger than he is, Mackey's standing in the middle of the street, tears streaming down his face. All around him masked figures are firing into the crowd, screaming curses and slogans, machine guns jerking back and forth.
Mackey watches as the flaming woman goes down, torn in half, blood everywhere, he drops the gun and throws up, not caring that the others are watching him, that it's an honor to be selected for a mission so young. He throws up until he can't throw up anymore and then someone grabs him and drags him backwards as the street explodes.
Up ahead, a wall of riot shields and gas masks, and Mackey's trying to get to his feet, trying to get his gun back, trying to prove his worth, but it's no good. The gun's too far away, the wall of shields is getting closer, and the hand's pulling him away. Two of the masked men are walking backwards, fingers pulling triggers, mouths curled up in angry sneers.
The wall of shields is opening up, rifles appearing in the spaces, belching fire. One of the masks goes down, intestines hanging out of his jacket, head split like a rotten melon.
"Get tha' boy out of here!" The other mask screams, ducking behind a car, trying to give them a second to escape. The hand pulls Mackey away, down an alley, the last thing he sees is the masked man engulfed in flames as the car explodes.
Mackey screams, closes his eyes, nothing works, the image is there to stay. His knees get weak, and the next thing he knows the force that's been dragging him scoops him up and carries him down the alley, away from the screams, away from the wall of shields that march down the street like ants.
He fades in and out of consciousness, tears still streaming down his face, line of vomit trickling out of his mouth. The figure drops him into the passenger seat of an old car and tears his mask off, throwing it away, taking Mackey's off, throwing it away, sits down, starts the car, speeds off, hoping to outrun the blockades, because if he doesn't they're dead.
He keeps his foot on the gas, occasionally checking on the kid in the passenger seat, who's slipped into a fitful sleep. He wishes that they could've waited, let him age a little, before blooding him, stealing his innocence, and turning him into one of them.
He drives on, eyes scanning the street ahead for cops, free hand wrapped around the butt of his pistol, contingency plan, ready to kill anyone that gets in his way. For the first time that day, he gets lucky, gets away, heads for the old farm they've been using as a safe-house.
He kills the engine, pulls Mackey out of the car by his arm, and drags him inside, ignoring the questioning looks the guards give him. He pushes him inside, closes the door, heads for the bedroom, sits the kid down in the bed, pulls the covers up under his chin, tries to get him to sleep. All the while, Mackey stares straight ahead, no more tears, no more cries, no more nothing.
"Goddamnit," the man whispers, leaving the boy to his silent vigil.
Mackey's older now, shotgun in hand, not so big anymore. He hasn't cried since his first time, hasn't felt much in years, 'cept the thrill, the righteousness of his cause, the need to do whatever it takes.
He's in an old SUV, with a couple of masks, all holding guns, eyes front, watching the house, waiting.
"Let's do this boyos," Mackey says, throwing the door open, pulling his mask down over his face. The others file out of the car, moving quickly, ducking and rolling behind cover, making their way toward the front door. Mackey gets there first, puts his boot through the door, runs into the foyer, shotgun pumped.
He storms into the kitchen, wife's standing there, drops the phone she's talking into, voice on the other end starts screaming when Mackey drops her.
The door open, and the husband steps in, service pistol in hand, knees bent, elbows ready to accept the shot. The sight of his wife laying in a pool of her own blood, stretched across the table, makes him hesitate but he pulls the trigger out of instinct, and the shot goes wide, and Mackey puts him next to his wife.
"Damnit Mackey. Ye' always get all the action," one of the masks says, shouldering his rifle.
"There's more to be have, if ye' know where to look. I'm goin' upstairs. Look around down here," Mackey says, pumping another round into the chamber. The mask nods and shouts for the others to spread out and search, and to shirt first and not bother with questions.
Mackey climbs the stairs two at a time, aware that he's in a time sensitive situation, kicks the door at the top of the stairs open. Inside the room's a girl, about his age, holding a steak knife, back up against the wall, tears streaming down her face.
"What are ye' waitin' for?" She asks, mouth set against her tears, tone angry, indignant almost. Mackey levels the shotgun, squeezes one eye shut, pulls the trigger, blows a hole in the wall. The girl screams, drops the knife, looks up at Mackey. He shrugs, presses his finger against his lips, and goes back downstairs.
On his way down, he hears another gunshot, a boyish scream, and another shot. He reenters the kitchen at the same time as the rest of the masks, all of them covered in blood and gore.
"Done?" He asks. The masks nod. Mackey motions for them to follow and they make their way back out of the house, running down the street, sirens wailing in the distance, jumping in the car, speeding off.
Northern Africa, sleeping in a hut, town name's unpronounceable, hand wrapped around the butt of a pistol. Someone's shaking him awake, thunderstorm's brewing, and there's a convoy headed his way.
Mackey sits up, slides a round in the chamber, goes outside, watching as the headlights get closer.
"What are you thinkin'?" The merc asks, reading Mackey's face in the flashes of lightning.
"That I'm gettin' to old for this," the Irishman says, tucking the gun into his waistband.
"You can't be that old. Younger than me," the merc says, lightning a smoke, tip bobbing up and down as the rain starts, soaking Mackey to the skin.
He grunts a response, shoving his hands deep into his pockets, trying to keep them dry. Doesn't work. He's not surprised. The first of the trucks reaches the camp, and Sudanese soldiers spill out, all armed to the teeth, black faces invisible in the rain.
"Our guns?" One of them, most decorated, asks as the trucks continue to file in. Mackey jerks his head over his shoulder, and the soldiers swarm, tearing open crates, pulling out guns, and loading them into the empty trucks.
Without another word, the officer in charge tosses Mackey a briefcase, and turns around, climbing into the cab of the truck. He shakes the briefcase, smiles at the sounds the diamonds make, heads back into the hut, followed by the merc.
"What now?" The merc asks, dropping down into the folding chair. Mackey looks at him for a second, studies his face, all angles and hard planes, pulls the gun, puts a hole in his forehead.
"Sorry mate," he says to the corpse, tossing the gun onto the floor, standing up, grabbing the briefcase. "It was you or me."
He leaves the hut, jumps into the old pickup truck that he's been using for the last year and a half, steps on the gas, drives all night, through the rain, crosses into Egypt at a defunct border station, guards don't even bother to stop him.
He makes it to Alexandria, ditches the truck in a back alley, pulls a fistful of bills from his pockets and boards the ferry, next stop, Istanbul.
He gets there late in the afternoon, hops off the boat, flashes a fake passport, tosses it in the trashcan when he's far enough out of sight. He checks his breast pocket, still has one left, for when he needs to make his exit, and keeps walking.
He walks for a long time, occasionally looking over his shoulder, finally making it to the seedy bar that he's been coming to for a little over a year, dropping off diamond payments to an old prick with ties to Sinn Fein.
He opens the door, waves to the bartender, goes to the back, heads up the stairs, goes down the hallway, pushes another door open, and steps in. There's a bed, a table, two chairs, a Turkish girl wearing nothing but a see-through silk cover, and two very serious looking men. Neither of them are the man he's looking for.
"Ye heard the news?"
Sarah McCormick's sitting behind her desk, searching the internet, hoping for a lead, something to get her out of the office. She looks up at her partner, lover, whole world. He's holding a cup of coffee, sets a second one down on her desk, drops down in a chair beside her.
"Nope," she answers, accent long gone from a long stay in New York.
"Alex Mackey's back in town," he says, taking a sip.
"Mackey's f***in' dead. The Turks killed him a year ago, something about diamond smuggling."
"How do you know it's not someone else?"
"This," he says, handing her a picture, Mackey standing outside of a funeral home, smoking a cigarette, shaking a hand. The picture takes her breath away, because she's staring at the man who killed her parents, left her standing in her bedroom with a smoking hole in the wall next to her.
"His sister just died of cancer or some s***. Motherf***er signed the guest book at the funeral," he says, taking another drink of coffee, oblivious to Sarah's distress.
"What's so special about him?" She asks, hoping that he's someone else, that there's such thing as coincidence, that sometimes people look alike.
"He's been with the IRA for over a decade, killed his fair share of cops and citizens, and then dropped off the map. Supposedly he's been running guns in Africa and the Middle East, using the payments he received to fund IRA operations. Like I said though, he's supposed to be dead," the fiance, who's name's Andrew, from a prominent family back in London, says.
"Obviously someone messed up," Sarah says, stomach in her throat, because she knows Alexander Mackey, she's known him for a long time.
"You're telling me," he says, standing up, brushing himself off.
"Thanks for the coffee babe," she says as he leans down to kiss her.
"See you tonight," he says, leaving her desk, disappearing down the hall.
She picks up the picture and looks at it for a while, types Mackey's name into the computer, watches as his alleged record fills the screen, pictures open up on top of one another, but none of this is what she's looking for. Finally, she finds his current record, current location, hotel downtown, seedy joint, known IRA place.
She grabs her pistol off of the desk, writes the address down, leaves the office.
"It's a damn shame about yer sister Alex," Peter Scarborough, IRA hitter, childhood friend, says.
"At least she didn't suffer," Mackey answers, thanking a God who gave his sister pancreatic cancer. At least she didn't suffer.
"So, ye' givin' any thought to coming back?" Scarborough asks, taking a long drink of his beer. "We could use and experienced hand like you."
"Nope. Freedom fighting's not my thing anymore," Mackey answers, Irish accent all but swallowed up in a monotone, all the accents of all the places he's been, and none at the same time.
"How can you say that? Freedom fighting's in yer blood. You can't just walk away from it."
Mackey looks at him from across the top of his glass, wondering just who in the hell he thinks he is, telling him what he can and can't do.
"Just tell me why," Scarborough begs.
"There's no money in idealism," Mackey says, throwing a wad of cash on the table, rising to leave. Scarborough watches as he leaves the bar, pulls out his phone, makes a call.