Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Excerpt: Devil Wind
by Linda Reid & 
Deborah Shilan
Operation Desert Storm
Northeast Saudi Arabia, 50 kilometers from the Iraqi border
February 16, 1991

The young man’s screams resonated through the mobile army surgical unit, drowning out the piercing wails of the brutal winter sandstorm.  The desert winds rocked the trailer in rhythm with the corporal’s cries.  
“Can’t medivac him out til morning,” whispered an aide to the senior medic. Both knew it was too risky for the flight from Germany to land before the winds died down. “Should I get the chaplain?”
“Bishop,” the medic responded.  “Get Bishop.”
The trailer door blew open, flapping against the aluminum siding. A tall, muscled man with grizzled hair strode in, “I’m here,” his only greeting as he rushed to the young man’s side.  Despite the storm, his uniform was pressed and immaculate.  Dr. Franklin Bishop was an officer’s officer.
He laid a gentle hand on the soldier’s writhing abdomen, noting the absence of legs below both knees.  Lifting the sheet, the doctor saw that the amputations had not been surgical. The burned skin on the corporal’s thighs was black, the fever of infection would no doubt kill him by morning. “Ten mg of morphine stat,” Bishop ordered. The opiate would make his last hours more comfortable.
As the pain medicine gradually dulled the young man’s agony, his screams became words.  Whispered words that only Bishop, leaning his head close to the soldier’s lips, could hear. 
 “Many children. Dead.  Innocents.  Stop the resonator. Stop the murder.”  The soldier’s next words dissolved into gibberish as he fell into a deep sleep.
Bishop stood erect, shaking his head.  Resonator?  Murder?
The soldier’s body shook and shivered, his breathing grew more labored.  Bishop clasped his hand and gave it a firm squeeze.  In the morning he would call Miller. See what the Company man could spill. For now, Colonel Bishop’s duty was to stand by this brave young man’s bedside so that he would not die alone. 
The trailer was eerily quiet except for the howling winds.  Cocking an ear, Bishop was certain he heard the winds echo the soldier’s words: resonator…murder

Chapter 1
Thursday, December 23, 1999

Each winter, hot dry winds sweep from the deserts across the LA basin, and for a few days, blow away the hazy smog, exposing the glittery beauty of the City of Angels. Newcomers delight in the unexpected clarity, the ability to see snow-capped Santa Monica Mountains and azure Pacific Ocean emerge against a lavender sky.  But those who stay a while soon learn why some call these Santa Anas devil’s breath, others, murder winds, and not just because they can whip parched chaparral into explosive fuel feeding deadly wildfires. No, it’s something about the winds’ effect on the inhabitants of the city’s hills and canyons, making senses sharper, on edge. As Raymond Chandler once wrote, while these winds blast, anything can happen. Anything.

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