A View to a Kill
With the fourth annual Decay of Nations paintball tournament rapidly approaching, I reflect on my first two confirmed kills in the sport.
My son, Nicholas, introduced me to the sport three years ago when he asked me to take him to the inaugural Decay of Nations. Decay of Nations is Los Angeles's, and Southern California's for that matter, annual paintball scenario war. My initial thought was not one of enthusiasm and adventure, it was more of inconvenience, boredom and apprehension at the thought of being surrounded by hundreds of militant weekend warriors. It was the fact that my boy had been down here in sunny SoCal most of the summer, and had not asked for much of anything, that tipped the scales in his favor. With much resistance and reluctance Nick and I had embarked on a weekend of war with paintball warriors who had gangs that rivaled any in the movie The Warriors. There were the Outlaws, the Bandless Brothers, the Cartel and least of which was a group called the Clown Posse, and yes they were dressed as clowns, red noses and all. Don't let their names or uniforms fool you, they're as deadly as they come. My personal favorite was the Cartel who wore nothing but SWAT flack jackets and volunteered for a suicide mission that left them covered in fresh raspberry welts. To make matters worse, one was bald and his head resembled a painful wiffle ball. The picture at the top does not do their injuries justice and I can only imagine the days spent in bed and warm bathes afterward. That first year yielded tremendous heat, more exercise then I had been used to along with zero kills that I could hang my hat on as mine. I will state for the record that, in anger and irritation at an unsuccessful weekend, I shot my teenage son in the ass at twenty yards. There was mild gratification.
Year two was a different story. The usual suspects were back like the Clown Posse, the Bandless Brothers and of course the exposed Cartel team. I had the opportunity to ask them about the previous year and they confirmed my suspicions about the tenderness of the following week. This year was hotter than the last and people were falling on the battlefield from dehydration and heat stroke rather than shattered paint pellets. I, on the other hand, was burning from something other than heat. I was burning from a deep desire just to get 1 kill this weekend. I achieved my goal and not only did I get my 1, I got my initial 2 in a manner worthy of this report.
My son and I were sent out on a scouting mission with a platoon of other paint thirsty soldiers. We followed a path for a click or two before we heard the enemy. We scattered behind trees and stumps in anticipation of an ambush. I made my way up a small side trail and posted behind a tree. The battle erupted and I found myself in the middle, off to the side, watching paint by the hundreds criss cross paths seeking a warm destination. I hid helpless for tens of minutes wondering whether my son was fighting the good fight or whether I would have to buy another gallon of Tide on my way home. These thoughts plagued my mind until the battle ceased. Our side had lost and I was now stuck behind a tree in enemy territory. I silently waited and watched when I saw the first of my foes. He emerged in open site and as he turned his back to bark an order everything slowed down. I pounced from behind my thin wooden guardian and shot him square in the back. His immediate response was not to me but to his brethren. "You couldn't tell me there was a guy behind the tree?!" he spat in disgust as he raised his arms to leave the battlefield. I had done It! I had my first kill! My celebration was short lived as I retreated to my trunk of a safe haven. I awaited my eventual slaughter and painful welts to no avail. I glanced to the right, nothing, to the left, nothing. I crouched and waited until I saw it. An untimely blink and I would have missed the ever tall grass to my left lowering two inches before rising again. They were sending an assassin! My heart beat frantically as I lowered down and readied myself for the would-be soldier who wanted to make me look like a Sherwin Williams floor sample. The wait was unnerving, but suddenly there it was, the white of a t-shirt (no camouflage, what an amateur!) I unloaded my paint like Scarface on a coke binge. "I'm hit, I'm hit!" my victim cried as I removed my finger from the trigger. I had done it, I had survived an attempt on my clean uniform and lived to tell about it.
I eventually came out of hiding and worked my way through the uninviting woods to reach my comrades. I discovered through a re-hydration session that my son was one of the fallen and I would indeed be buying laundry detergent on the way home.
The weekend ended and I had mustered a total of 6 kills that were all mine. I no longer dread the weekend war known as Decay of Nations, that falls at the end of August, but rather embrace it as I embark to have a double digit kill count by the end. I have decided to notch them all on my boots as a reminder of those that dared face me and failed. I will end this narrative by stating, for the record, that in my adrenalin combat excitement I shot my son in the ass at twenty yards. There was tremendous gratification.