The Discovery

Woo and the Warrior

Chapter 1

The Discovery

September 12 – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) office in Mali was bombed yesterday. It has been estimated over 35 people were killed, including two Americans, but there are still a number of people unaccounted for. The government of Mali has blamed the attack on Islamic extremists. According to an unidentified Mali police official, every attempt will be made to identify the perpetrators, including a request to the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States for their help in assisting the Government of Mali in conducting the investigation.

The sun beat down on him, his pores draining small rivers of sweat, gliding down his face and his arms, dripping to the asphalt below. He used a handkerchief to capture the beads of sweat from his brow trying to slow the flow sliding down his face. His shirt used to be a solid gray, but now it was a two tone color, shaded a darker gray in parts by the perspiration that leaked from his skin to the cloth. Everyone knew him as the carnival man because he never shared his name. At his advanced age his name could have been Mike or Bob or Joe. They had simple names back in his day. No Dweezil tag could be placed on him.

“Step right up,” he hollered in a voice lost of any youthful enthusiasm. Now it was coarse and tired. Years and the cigarettes that peaked from his shirt pocket robbed his voice of any bounce. “See if you can throw as hard as a ma-jor lee-ger. Challenge yer friends, yer mom. Show the lady friend that you can bring the heat, that you have the arm of a ma-jor lee-ger. Only three throws fer a dollar.”

Whiskers scattered wildly across his chin, an untamed forest to his face, his bloodshot eyes darting through the crowd, trying to capture an unsuspecting gaze to bring them into his world. Turning left and right, his skinny frame was in constant motion, working hard to reel in his prey. Just one glance was all he needed.

The sparse crowd that passed him by on their way to the stadium did their best to ignore him. To them he was a homeless man, a bit better than a beggar because at least he tried to work for a living, instead of sitting like a log with a cup in one hand and a cardboard sign perched across his lap announcing his troubled status.

Homeless or not, one look at him told you he was absent any family. Not with the way he dressed or carried himself. His pants were wrinkled, stained with grime and dirt that no washing machine had seen for a couple years. No wife or loved one would allow a man to go out dressed in the threads he wore, with a wonder bread white t-shirt exposing his skin and dirty brown corduroy pants frayed at the bottom from years of dragging the ground. Those who passed assumed he lived in a van, or sheltered himself alone in a cheap apartment where the rats lived for free. He looked like an abandoned doll thrown in a trash bin, with the clothes he wore chewed up by the rats.

Despite the look of helplessness the carnival man remained undeterred. He could not be ignored forever. He needed a dollar for the smokes, another dollar for his dinner of macaroni and cheese. After 30 days he hoped he could collect enough for rent. He feared living underneath the freeway underpasses of 495. He needed a roof over his head and four walls to keep him grounded.

The carnival man had spent too many days pacing up and down in the searing noon day sun, dotting his arms and hands brown with chocolate colored spots, his face growing wrinkled and worn with the years, his eyes, running slivers of red from lack of sleep and too much drink as they searched through the crowd.

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