The night was dubbed “The Night of Fire” before it was over.
In the heat of the afternoon gangs of teenagers heaved Molotov cocktails into the secured areas at the foot of cell towers at thousands of sites across Cali, from Orange County to north of Sacramento.
As evening set, service trucks came in from “calls” and parked in their laagers. Since the advent of the “solar economy” the rhythms of life were clocked by the sun. Work stopped when the sun went down except in the most dire of emergencies.
Bonita and Miguel approached their first “hide” after retrieving the weapon they had cached earlier that week when scouting the target. The ¾ moon was just starting to rise above the foothills at half past midnight. It had been a slow, dark walk into position.
Miguel was the spotter while Bonita was the triggerman. Miguel laid the blanket on the ground. Bonita uncased the weapon, screwed on the suppresser and tied on the brass catcher. The brass catcher was little more than a sock with a drawstring threaded through the opening.
The gun was not a standard ‘military’ rifle. It was a bolt action .22 with a precision trigger and a four power scope. It also sported a bi-pod and Bonita could hit a quarter at 75 yards with boring regularity when shooting prone. Tonight her targets were much bigger than quarters.
The utility trucks were parked on the diagonal, twenty-five along the east side of the laager and twenty-five on the west side. Bonita and Miguel’s first hide was on the east side of the facility.
Conversing in whispers, Miguel suggested that she start with the front tires of the trucks closest to them and continue up the line. They would move to a second hide they had prepared if she started missing due to distance.
The closest truck was fifty yards away and the furthest truck was over one hundred and twenty yards away. She was aiming for the sidewall of the tire because cut cords in the sidewalls are not repairable. The only times she missed was when bullets hit the chain link fence and went “whinging” off, into the night. When that happened Miguel would nudge Bonita’s butt with the toe of his boot and say, “Send another one.”
Unfortunately, she was unable to get a good “look” at the rear dual tires as they were masked by the bodies of adjacent trucks.
“Let’s see if we can get a better look at the rear tires from the second hide.” Bonita whispered.
Miguel shook his head ‘no’ and whispered, “The angles are all wrong.”
“We have the time and more than enough ammo. We gotta try.” Bonita responded.
They picked up their equipment and moved to the second hide about sixty yards to the north.
Bonita was able to see the treads of the rear tires but the tiny bullets were unable to penetrate fifty millimeters of rubber, several steel belts and the eight plies of polyester reinforcing.
“Well, shit.” Bonita said. “Now what?” Bonita did not like investing effort when there was no return.
“You might as well get some practice.” Miguel said. “Even if you cannot get the tires you can still shoot the headlights and practice putting rounds through the windshield. Bullet holes in the windshields right in front of the steering wheel will give the drivers something to think about.”
Bonita visualized where the head of the driver would be and she methodically put one bullet hole in each windshield and then worked her way back up the line putting a bullet hole in each headlamp. She was able to shoot as more quickly than Miguel was able to reload magazines.
Then, for good measure, she angled a shot into the grille of each truck where Miguel said the radiator side-tanks were most likely to be located.
Then they moved to the west side of the lot to their third hide. Lather, rinse, repeat. Ninety minutes later they broke-down their last hide. They walked a half hour and cached their equipment. Then they walked another six miles to where they spent the rest of the night.
That was the night they became lovers.
Unbeknownst to Bonita and Miguel most of the bullets that punched through the right headlamps also trashed the engine control computers that were housed in the right fender. Those vehicles were down-for-the-count.
Similar events happened at hundreds of vehicle marshalling sites across northern California.