Outside of Austin, Texas, where the farming begins in earnest, the land turns suddenly to the deepest sort of country, with no hint of the city that stands nearby. Russ Crane prefers it that way. Crane is not his real name. He wants to remain obscure. He is an experienced military sniper, a serious man in a serious profession that, however, excites a fringe of pretenders and psychopaths. He knows those people are out there. They inhabit gun shows, firing ranges, and war-porn recesses of the Internet; they have a poor idea of how real snipers do their work, or of its effect upon their lives.
Crane said, “There is good and evil in the world. It gets so you yearn for a righteous fight. Personally I believe there are bad people, and God put people here to shoot those people, to let other people live peaceful lives. David was a shepherd boy who became king. The Philistines had their giant, Goliath. The Lord said to David, ‘I’m on your side. Go out and fight.’ David did. And you know, David killed Goliath as dead as Elvis Presley. He was a shepherd, a king, a follower of the Lord. But first and foremost he was a warrior. God understands that we have to have soldiers. Soldiers are part of God’s plan.”
I said, “Do you mean that literally?”
He said, “I know that God has been with me actively in battle.”
“You’ve been fighting Muslims who believe the same thing.”
He said, “It’s a conundrum. But Jesus was resurrected after three days, and you can visit Muhammad’s grave.”