Armstrong Ranch, Kenedy County, Texas
11 February 2006
Dick Cheney raised his gun and sent a blast of birdshot into a flight of quail. The birds, raised in captivity and unused to the experience of free flight, milled about uncertainly as the rain of lead pellets passed through their flock, and several fell to the ground, dead or injured. As he watched the rest of the flock scatter in confusion, he automatically reloaded.
The sight of the fallen birds left Cheney unmoved, except for a growing sense of dissatisfaction. Here he was, the power behind the throne of the greatest empire in human history, and he was shooting at a bunch of goddamned birds! What the hell kind of occupation was that for a man whose word was law? People lived and died on his say-so, he could order people killed, and did every day, and he was shooting at fucking birds!
"Hey there, good shootin' Dick," came a quavery voice from behind him. Cheney turned and saw that old fool Harry Whittington coming up behind him. I could shoot him, Cheney thought to himself. I could shoot him right now, and I could get away with it. I can do anything I goddamn well please. He raised his gun, and with calm deliberation fired at the startled lawyer.
Whittington fell to the ground, screaming in agony. Cheney felt a grin pulling his lips apart. He slowly approached the writhing figure, breaking open his shotgun and sliding another cartridge into place. This time, though, he put in one of the special buckshot cartridges he always kept in his pocket in case he saw a deer.
Whittington ceased to voice his agony long enough to say, "Jesus fuckin' Christ, Dick, what the hell did you go and do that for?"
"Apologize," said Cheney.
Cheney raised the gun so the barrel was only inches from Whittington's face. "Apologize for making me shoot you," he told the bleeding figure.
"You -- you're joking, right?"
Cheney pulled back the hammer on the shotgun. "Do I look like I'm fucking joking? Say you're sorry for making me shoot you." His voice suddenly rose in a scream. "SAY IT! SAY IT!"
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry I made you shoot me! I'm sorry!" A sudden fetid odor told Cheney that Whittington had lost control of his bowels.
"Not good enough," said Cheney. "I want you to tell the world. I want you to hold a press conference and apologize to me for making me shoot you."
"Sure, Dick, sure, anything you say! I'll do it! I promise! Please! Please!" Whittington broke down and began to cry, his eyes screwed up like a baby's.
Cheney considered finishing him off anyway, but the idea of Whittington, his face scarred with birdshot, standing in front of a podium and apologizing for being shot was just too delicious to pass up. Seeing that would be worth letting him live. Besides, Aaron Burr had already killed a man while serving as Vice-President, and Cheney hated the thought of only being the second man to do something.
Cheney raised the gun up into the air and fired, and Whittington's scream of terror filled him with glee. He threw his head back and laughed and laughed and laughed . . .