Six Pounds of Pressure

By Brad Fisher



Six pounds of pressure.  Thats all it takes to pull the trigger on an M-240, a fully automatic machine gun.  Six pounds.  It feels like a million pounds with a life sitting in your crosshairs. 

It was around two in the afternoon, and the Lieutenant was inside the tan school, talking to unimportant people about peace none of them had any control over.  While the Lieutenant sat inside the air-conditioned building sipping on tea, the rest of us were melting under the august sun.  It was so hot, the roof of the Humvee felt like a grill.  All I needed was some hamburger and a spatula, and I could have started my own roach coach.  But the only meat around was strung up lamb, but thats another story.

So there we were, sitting on the surface of the sun, blocking traffic.  A dirt median divided the four lane road; two lanes north, and two south.  I was the gunner on the fourth and last truck, looking backwards.  I had our side of the road blocked.  All the traffic cut across the median and used the other side.  I made friendly reminders every now and then for drivers to stay back.  The muzzle of a gun is universal sign language.

Off in the distance, about my two oclock, was a line of two story buildings.  A group of men gathered on a corner, and next to them was a black BMW.  Did the Lieutenant say something about a black BMW today at mission brief?  No, it was blue, and it was last week.  Today was a white Kia.  It seemed like every fifth car was a damn white Kia.  I glanced at the group of men, but wasnt too concerned.  They were about 300 meters away.  Thats over three football fields. 

A blue truck started approaching from the rear, getting a little closer than I liked.  I waved him off with my left hand, and aimed the M-240 in his general direction with my right. He quickly slowed, and cut across the median.  Pffff---BOOM!  The rocket exploded before my brain could even register that it was a rocket.  Luckily, they missed me and hit the brick wall between the Humvee and school, showering me with gravel and dust.  If I ever meet the movie director of an action movie that had a rocket in it, Im going to punch that fucker right in the nose.  Those things fly a hell of a lot faster in real life than they do in the movies.

I knew right where the RPG came from, and that fucking BMW was about to become transparent.  The group of men standing on the corner scattered like rats when you turn on a light, and I could see two rats climbing in the BMW that was about to be no more.  My fingers wrapped around the grip.  My thumb flipped the safety to fire.  I put my cheek on the butt, and peered through the sight.  But instead of one car in my cross hairs, there were two.

When the rocket crossed the road, its flight path nearly hit a car in the other lane.  The driver must have panicked, and slammed on his brakes.   Unfortunately, he stopped directly in my line of fire.  I aimed through the drivers side window of his car, and placed the cross hairs on the BMW that was about to pull away.  Only six pounds of pressure.  An innocent life on the pad of my finger.  The weight of the world. 

That second or two seemed like an eternity.  I figured I had a 50/50 chance of putting enough rounds into the BMW to matter, but the guy in the first car was dead if I pulled the trigger.  No doubt, 100 percent dead. 

That was nearly seven years ago now, and I still remember every detail.  I second guessed myself from the second I decided not to fire.  I will still be second guessing myself until the day I die.  To take a mans life is a hell of a thing.  To have a life, sitting on the pad of your finger, six pounds of pressure away, is something I will never forget. 


This story is based on true events.

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