Marty Drennan, twice-decorated for denial, once for mental reservation above and beyond the bounds of decency. Marty Drennan – Doctor Dre to his friends, The Bish to his enemies – with a puckered scar the size of a kiwi-fruit in his chest from diving on an unresolved paradox to save his platoon.
Moriarty. Murray. Field.
Marty Drennan, one-time sub-praetor of special forces in the hard, hard, thankless mud of the Diocesis Dublinensis campaign. Under a hard, thankless, cold leader. A hard time for him and a hard time for his men, but not as hard as these times.
With extreme prejudice.
Marty Drennan lights another cigarette, pours himself another whiskey, idly fingers the small cross pinned at his collar. For exceptional arrogance, the inscription reads. Proud days indeed, but gone now, those days of pride, as Marty Drennan – Doctor Dre to his few friends – grimaces and throws back the raw liquor. It bites his throat and he feeds the pain with a deep, deep, burning pull on his cigarette. The smoke bites Marty Drennan’s lungs, bites into them like the rage he feels towards the new Praetor Dublinensis.
Murray. Field. Moriarty.
I could snap him in two like a twig, Marty Drennnan mutters. Like a fucking twig. And the cigarettte breaks. The cigarette breaks, scatters tobacco on his carpet, burns a small hole in his fine carpet but Marty Drennan doesn’t care.
Field. Moriarty. Murray.
He’s 66 next birthday but you wouldn’t think it. The jaw-line is firm, the hand steady, the eye keen and the resolve unbroken. He still benches 280 pounds. He can hike six miles with a full pack. Nobody fucks with Doctor Dre.
Marty lights another cigarette, pours himself another whiskey and stares out the window, at the snow-covered fields that surround his HQ. The killing fields, covered now by an array of machine-gun nests. His men are in their winter cassocks, white against the snow, silent, waiting.
Moriarty. Murray. Field. All of them, running beside the stretcher. It’s OK Marty. OK. You’ll be ok. It’s gonna be all right.
Be all right.
Murray caved in first. Bastard!
Didn’t think Murray would cave so fast.
Then Moriarty. Motherfucker. Drennan lights another cigarette for himself. Pours another whiskey. Like a fucking twig!
Field was a surprise. He didn’t expect Ray to stab him in the back. Ray Field, his buddy from the old days. Ray Field whose life he saved by jumping on an unresolved paradox. Field who ran with him in the wild days, in-country, chasing poontang, getting drunk, torching villages, getting drunk.
All a purple haze now. All a haze.
Field, the bastard. Like a brother. Like a fucking brother to me Ray. A brother to me.
Marty Drennan – Doctor Dre to his few remaining friends – looks out over the snow-blanketed fields, lights a cigarette, swigs his whiskey and narrows his eyes.
Come for me if you have the balls, he grates. If you have the balls, I’m here.