By Al Graham
I have not heard a word from my friend Silent since he was deployed in August. He is in a hostile land defending his country, and in particular, the lives of those in combat. He has fought many a fray; he fought and he won. He is called when our troops are plagued by enemy sniper fire. He is the antidote and/or the cure.
It is hot as hell in a dusty, Afghan village. An enemy “Super Sniper” proudly wears a gruesome merit badge signifying “Top Dog” status awarded for dissembling the lives of young Americans by the score. Today another young Marine will be felled from far off by a remorseless assassin.
Silent has been tasked to “terminate with extreme prejudice”, and he will do just that. The hunt is on; and if past record is lived out, Silent will bring down his quarry in bulk. Silent is also “Top Dog” in his field. Even now after eight deployments and many close calls, he excels. Not long ago, he lost his left hand in a training accident; and to all, it looked like the end of his career. Silent had other ideas. Even before he had fully healed, he was back with a determined vengeance.
It takes two hands to do Silent’s highly specialized job. He does it with one hand and one hook — a device he fashioned for himself from leather and steel. At nine a.m., Silent is half buried in the ground. He has been there for two days waiting and watching. He tells of an unseen and foreboding presence – a just before presence of every encounter. Hairs on the back of his neck bristle and all becomes deathly silent. In that awesome stillness lies a tension that could smash steel, but it is encased in serene assuredness; and Silent is about to drop the curtain bringing an end to this deathly minuet.