Modesty has so far prevented me from detailing my exploits immediately after Katrina struck, but the time has come to set the record straight.
I think I owe it to Chris Kyle and Brian Williams, sticklers, like me, for the truth. So here’s how it went down, to the best of my recollection.
It had been a hard day helicoptering over the Lower Ninth Ward, plucking grateful citizens from their rooftops, when I got a text from my old pal Chris.
“Meet me on top of the Superdome in half an hour,” it read, “and bring your .300 Win Mag.” I hadn’t known Chris was in town, but he always said that I was the only marksman he couldn’t match, and called on me whenever he needed help to set the world right. So I grabbed my trusty rifle, and made it to the roof with minutes to spare.
“Law and order’s breaking down,” he said, “and it’s up to us to make sure looters get what’s coming to them. We can pick them off from here.”
I agreed, of course, that it would be a public service to kill anyone who looked suspicious way down on the ground. We had absolute faith in our judgment. These hoodlums wouldn’t be in our sights if they weren’t guilty. “Here, have some due process,” Chris joked as his first shot found its mark. I was soon firing away too.
You may have read reports that Chris claimed to have shot 30 troublemakers in order to preserve some semblance of civilization in New Orleans, but only 14 were his. I know that, if he were still with us today, he’d give me credit for the other 16, because Chris was no braggart. He just laid out the facts in his book, and let the public conclude that he was a hero.
It makes me mad when his word is questioned. So what if nobody ever found the bodies of those two carjackers he killed at a Texas gas station? Shoot, nobody ever found 30 bullet-riddled corpses around the dome either, and there is no evidence that Chris was even in Louisiana. You can take my word for what happened.
But pygmies love to snap at a great man’s heels, and Chris’s veracity has been unfairly impugned on several occasions. Take, for instance, the jury that awarded Jesse Ventura damages for defamation when Chris was no longer available to give his account of what happened. If Chris didn’t punch out Ventura for badmouthing SEALs and questioning the Iraq war in a bar-room, it must have been a lookalike. Mistaken identity happens all the time.
The post-Katrina shoot-‘em-up was the last time I saw Chris. When I heard he’d been shot, I told myself the world had been turned on its head.
Anyway, I clambered down from the roof when we figured we had taken all the dubious characters out, waved good-bye and headed for the Quarter. As you might imagine, I was pretty exhausted by this time and, just after I crossed Canal Street, I collapsed face-down in a puddle. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw what looked like a TV screen showing some handsome devil reading the news.
I was mistaken. That was Brian peering out the window of the hotel where he was staying while here to cover Katrina. My prone figure must have looked just like a body floating down the street. By the time I picked myself up and shook the puddle water from my hair, the face in the window had disappeared. Only later did I realize that I was to blame for the suspicion that Brian had stretched the truth in New Orleans just as he had in Iraq. In fact, he was just telling it like he saw it.
But that wasn’t Brian’s lucky trip. Although the authorities were unaware of any dysentery cases in New Orleans, Brian announced he caught it after ingesting some floodwater. I can sympathize, because I swallowed quite a lot of that puddle myself and paid a heavy price.
No I didn’t get dysentery, but remember that this was the French Quarter, home of the go-cup. That puddle must have been 90 proof. I commenced singing “Home to Pasadena” in a loud voice, and was lucky I wasn’t arrested and locked up in Camp Greyhound.
So lay off Chris and Brian, OK? Their word is as good as mine.
James Gill’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.