Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Taking the Shot
Our players are Control, wearing a headset and seated behind computer screens somewhere in Northeastern Virginia, and Shooter One, somewhere in the Saudi Arabian desert.
Control: “Control to Shooter One.”
Shooter One: “One.”
Control: “Are you in position?”
Shooter One: “Affirmative.”
Shooter One: “ West wind crossing target area at ten miles per hour, left to right. Minimal dust, heat distortion also nominal. Shot probability, ninety percent.”
Control: “All shooters, target will be in the second limo, drivers side rear. Confirm.”
Shooter One: “Target …second limo, drivers side rear.”
Control: “Target convoy has left the palace. They have taken a right on El-Ajib highway. Shooters two and three stand down. This is going to be shooter ones show… Shooter One, target E.T.A. your location is one minute, confirm.”
Shooter One: “Control, confirm it’s my show. E.T.A. one minute… Control, I have a dust cloud in the highway target area. Request satellite I.D. and confirmation of possible civilian traffic.”
Control: “Confirming now, Shooter One… Shooter One, affirmative. Civilian traffic. Looks like a heard of goats and a single Sheppard. You are still GO for the shot. Civilian traffic is expected to slow the convoy down considerably, putting your shot probability in the ninety-eight percentile. Repeat you are still GO for the shot.”
Shooter One: Control. Target is in sight. … Convoy slowing down. …The goats are generating a good deal of dust… Convoy has now come to a complete stop. Goats are still making an awful lot of dust… Shot probability is now down to about sixty percent.
Control: Wait for it Shooter One. Be patient, it will come. You’re the best in the business.
Shooter One: Control, sheep have now stopped next to second limo… Dust clearing… Control, this is our lucky day. Target is standing up in the back seat to take pictures of the goats.
Shooter One: “Multiple shots taken. Transmitting now.”
Control: “All bidders, this is Johnson Photography. We have multiple pictures of Brittany Spears leaving Prince Adel’s Palace. The bidding will start at fifteen thousand.”
Sunday, December 1, 2013
The Holiday Traveler
“Your attention please. The Department of Homeland Security has issued a specific threat warning for air travel within the continental United States. The threat level has been upgraded from Orange to Red. All travelers are advised to plan extra travel time, to allow for increased security screening in all domestic air terminals. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated. Thank You.”
I was wheeling my carry-on from the men’s room to the Au-Bon Pan shop in Terminal F to get myself a three-day-old turkey on roll for lunch when they made the announcement. Wonderful. I hope I can still make my flight. I looked for the nearest Departures monitor but the first thing I noticed was a guy in a brown suit with a military haircut and a hearing aid, then another, and another. Finally the light in my brain went on. Undercover security, and lots of them. My eyes finally found the Departures monitor. Delta 4123 …Gate F21 …Delayed.
While I was busy watching the Departure monitor, I didn’t notice the security camera looking back at me.
When I got to Au-Bon Pan I got a whiff of Five Guys cooking up a triple bypass on a bun and I changed my mind about lunch. A cheeseburger with a bagful of fries would last longer in my stomach. No telling how long we were going to be held up. I made an abrupt change of direction and bumped into someone, but before I could say “I’m sorry, excuse me.” I was tossed to the ground and handcuffed.
“Control, I got him, I got him! All units, suspect in custody at Gate Foxtrot 12. Repeat Foxtrot 12.”
One of the brown suited security people dragged me to my feet by the handcuffs behind my back, and two other undercover security people had me by each arm as they led me out of the corridor and quickly into a Security office. In the blinking of an eye I was out of public view, and for all intents and purposes, I no longer existed.
I was taken down some back hallways to an “Interview Room.” “Interrogation Room” is more like it. There they dropped me like a sack of potatoes into a chair behind a table. An older guy who wore a better fitting suit than the rest of them took a seat across from me. He examined my passport as he started to ask me questions.
“No… Donald E. Allen. Do I look like a Kal-Hide El-Whoever to you?”
‘You do to the computer. The beard shape and color, the glasses.”
“You guys arrest Santa Claus lately? Let’s try this one in your computer fellas, how tall is this Kaleek- KaLeek guy? I’m six-foot-three.”
Every suit in the room started to have a little sidebar discussion. The expensive suit called up some pictures on his flat screen, and quickly shot a disapproving look at the suit that had taken me into custody.
“Mr. Allen, we are very sorry for the mix-up. The Homeland Security facial recognition software gave us a positive ID on you. It is a new system, we haven’t worked out all the bugs yet. These gentlemen will escort you to your gate. On behalf of the United States Government I apologize. Please understand, these are trying times, and we are counting on the understanding and cooperation of all good American citizens. Good day Sir.”
Thursday, November 14, 2013
The Missing Children of Maple Street
“One more time from the beginning Mr. Smith.”
“Detective Brown, PLEASE, we are wasting time.”
“It’s important that we have all the details. Once more from the beginning.”
“It started with a sign that read, “HAUNTED HOUSE, 135 Maple Street, October 30th and 31st only, Noon until 7:30 PM, Children under 12 FREE, all others $5 per person.
I never liked haunted houses, but how bad could this one be? After all, it was catering to young children with its times of operation and its pricing. Be a man I thought. My 10 year-old-daughter Kelly would love it. I could be “The Cool Parent” for a change.
Her mom wanted me to take her on the 31st even though it wasn’t my usual day to have her. My Ex was going to an office Halloween party. She just didn’t want Kelly around if she brought her boss home from the party for some overtime.
I picked Kelly up at my Ex’s house… It used to be OUR HOUSE. I asked Kelly if she wanted to do the Haunted House thing, half hoping she would say no, but she jumped out of her skin with excitement.” “That’s so RAD I thought you were going to make me do some lame trick or treat thing. “Daddy I love you,” she said.” At this point Mr. Smith started to fight back his tears.
“Mr. Smith? Mr. Smith, is there a problem? Did you think of something you would like to add?”
“ I think that’s the last time she said I love you.”
“I know this is difficult for you Mr. Smith. Please, take a deep breath and continue.”
“We pulled up in front of 135 Maple. There was another Haunted House sign in the front yard. The house was the same cookie-cutter design as the rest of the neighborhood, but this one was very nicely decorated for Halloween. I walked up and rang the doorbell, but it did not go Ding-Dong, it screamed. Kelly loved it and kept ringing it and laughing. The door was answered by a guy in really good Living Dead make-up who said his name was Joe. I handed him my $5, and we walked in.
The place was freezing cold. Day-Glow painted arrows led the way through the house. Fake cobwebs and rooms converted from dens and bedrooms into crypts and graveyards. When we got to what I assumed to be the dining room, I saw a very attractive woman with whom I struck up a conversation. That’s when Kelly wondered off. I looked around for her, but the woman said “Don’t worry, she’s with my daughter, I saw them go into the Haunted Disco room together. Girls just want to have fun.” She said her name was Margie.” She was kind of hot and started flirting with me. Then all of a sudden I heard a bunch of children scream. The next thing I remember is that Patrol Officer over there shaking me back to consciousness at the corner of Maple and Montauk.”
“Detective Brown, the Lieutenant wants to talk to you right now.”
“Excuse me for a few minutes Mr. Smith,”
“What do ya have for me Detective Brown?”
“Well Lieutenant, his story jives with the calls 911 got yesterday about the children going to a Haunted House on Maple Street, and not coming home. Mr. Smith gave us a few names, just the first names of people he met inside the house. A female customer who called herself Margie and a guy named Joe who was one of the actors in the place.”
“This little girl plus yesterday’s 911 reports brings the missing children total to five. Detective Brown, I have to tell ya. 135 Maple is an empty lot. Gas explosion five years ago on Halloween night. Mother, Father, and five kids all perished. The Mother’s name was Margie, the Father’s name was Joe. Whatever you do Detective Brown, don’t talk to the press.”
Then came a long rumble of thunder. Detective Brown saw them first. Standing by the 7-11 across the street were five children; Kelly, three other young girls, and a little boy. All very frightened, and covered in blood.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Lies My Mother Told Me
Do I dare go up the stairs?
I must. It has been a very long time since Mother came down to feed me. I have been very hungry, and I have slept twice between the hungry times. The light in the window crack has come for the third time now. Mother has not brought my food. We have not done any adding and subtracting, no drawing. We have not read from any book. Nothing. Where is my Mother? She has never left me for so long. Why did she leave me?
What if the Evil Ones have come to get her? What if they took her away? Did she save me from them by sacrificing herself? I must go up the stairs. I must. I know I’m not allowed to go up the stairs, but it has been so long. Mother, where are you?
The steps creek announcing each step like a trumpeter announces a prince as he climbs the steps to his throne, but this is no story in a book. I can see the doorknob as I reach the top landing. What if it’s locked? Should I open it, or just call out for Mother?
“MOTHER!” I grab the doorknob and hold it closed. What if the Evil Ones are out there? Oh I’m so stupid, so very stupid. Why did I call out like that?
Nothing. Nothing but silence. No answer from Mother. No attack by the Evil Ones. Nothing at all.
I turn the knob and the door is open. I am blinded by the light. It is so bright up here where Mother lives. So bright it hurts my eyes. Then I see her.
She is facedown on the floor. There is blood. She is not moving. “Mother! Mother please. Please, Mother, please talk to me, please!” Mother does not answer.
She is still, and cold. She smells bad. “Mother please wake-up. I’ll be a good boy. I’ll go back downstairs. I promise.”
I hear a noise. THE EVIL ONES ARE HERE! I scream and run for the stairs leading back to my secret home, but one of them grabs me just as I reach the basement door. I fight and scream and kick, but he pushes me to the floor and ties my hands behind me.
“It’s okay son. Everything is going to be okay.” The room is filled with Evil Ones in their blue uniforms, with their sticks and guns. Then another Mother person comes to me, and puts her hand on my head. “Tommy? Tommy my name is Jennifer. I’m going to make sure nobody ever hurts you. We are going to take care of you, Tommy.”
That was six years ago. I spent one year in an institution for juvenal care. One year in a halfway house, and the last four years in foster care with the Jakubowskis. Nice people the Jakubowskis. I’m eighteen now. The system no longer supports me. I’ve been turned down for military service. Now I’m out on my own.
I think I’m dangerous.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Uncle Mike’s Snow Globe
I hardly saw my Uncle Mike anymore. Before I got married and the job moved me to Chicago my Uncle Mike was like a second Father to me. But with the job, and the kids, maybe I saw him one out of every five Christmases. Why do I have to clean out his apartment instead of my brother Billy or my sister Annie the princess? I’ll never know. Yes I do, I always get stuck with the crappy jobs in this family.
I hate to toss all this crap out. I know it must have meant a lot to him while he was alive. ‘While he was alive.’ listen to me. He just might be alive, he’s only been missing for three months. But Dad said he has been forgetting things lately. Neighbors have found him wondering around lost at night. He probably wondered off and died in the park or where ever. I spent the past two days looking at John Doe pictures at the city morgue. I can spend three more days here, four the most. Then I have to get back to Chicago. I offered to pay the rent for a few more months just in case Uncle Mike miraculously shows up again, but the Landlord is being a real S.O.B. about it. He knows he can jack up the rent for the next tenant. He wanted my Uncle gone years ago.
My Pop’s instructions were simple enough; Pack the place up, toss the junk in the dumpster, keep the valuables. Then schlep the boxes of valuables to the storage unit place down the block. Boxes of valuables? What a joke that is. I can tell right now there isn’t going to be a heck of a lot going to that storage unit. Dad and my sister, Princess Annie, arranged for a 5x10 by 8-foot high storage unit. It was the smallest one they had available. What a waste of money. It would have been cheaper to rent a safe deposit box. That’s about all the space we are going to need from what I can see. I’ll just take a few old pictures, a few odds and ends, so I can bring them to Pop at his assisted living facility. At least that way he will have something to remember Uncle Mike by.
Oooooh, what do we have here? A baseball-card collection. BINGO! The ’61 Yankees, all of them autographed. This will be going back to Chicago with me. Call it… compensation for my flying all the way back here to take care of family business.
Now what’s this? A photo of Pop, Mom, and Uncle Mike at the beach. I’ll bring this to Pop. He can tell me the same old story behind this picture every time I visit him.
What the heck is this? Looks like a baseball rolled under the bed. Eh.. come here you… got it. Oh crap, my daydream of finding an autographed ’61 Yankees baseball just went up in smoke. It’s only a snow globe. Looks like a souvenir of the Whitehouse. What’s that? It looks like some one is in that tiny little window. Oh my God it’s…
One week later…
Annie the princess answered her brother with her usual contempt. “What is it now, Bill?”
“Come look at what I found in Uncle Mike’s bedroom. It looks like a baseball-card collection and a stupid old snow globe-Annie, Annie, come here quick! It looks like…”
Thursday, October 3, 2013
To Change the world
A man, I’d guess him to be in his 70’s, walked up to me as I was gardening. He was dressed in a brightly colored shirt, and blue, bell-bottom jeans; and yet he did not look at all out of place.
“Excuse me Mr. Allen? My Name is George. People call me Gip.”
“How can I help you Gip?”
“I simply ask that you lend me your ear for a moment, if you don’t mind?”
“Not at all Gip, you've captured my interest.”
“Good, good, Mr. Allen… as I've mentioned, my name is George, George Wells. My father was Herbert George Wells… H. G. Wells.”
I was in shock, but my fascination drove me forward, as if I was galloping on the back of my thirst for historical knowledge. “Mr. Wells, your father passed on in the 1940’s, and I dare say, you Sir, followed on into that great unknown in the 90’s.”
“No-no, late 80’s actually as I've come to learn of it, but it makes no matter. It is 1978 as I start this journey. You see, Mr. Allen, just before his death, my father was given … a machine, a time machine. A very real, very functional, time machine. I have not dared use it until now. I have been to 2053 and there I found the great cataclysm so many have warned about in their writings for so many centuries. But as I journeyed back, back to 2029, I found an essay you had written, a powerful and moving essay to set the world on a path of peace. But your essay was not selected for the National Society of Literary Excellence, simply because it called President Kane by name. Please, Mr. Allen, remember. In writing your essay, do not call President Kane by name. Only then will you be selected for the Journal. It will change the future. It will change things… for the better.”
“National Society of Literary Excellence. I’ll have to remember that. I, guess I’ll have to work for Mr. Kane’s campaign as well.”
“No, Mr. Allen. The election of 2028 is rigged. Just do not yield to temptation, do not name him, or your work will be squashed. You must let your work breath and grow. All future generations depend on it, Mr. Allen.”
“I’ll do my part George. Can you come back in late 2028 to remind me, perhaps give me a draft of my essay so that I can get every word right?”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Allen. I cannot bring items out of their element. As it is, time travel takes its toll on the human body. Now, I hope to have the strength to return to 1978, and live out my years in relative peace.”
“What will become of the machine?”
“I’m going to destroy it, Mr. Allen. I can’t bring myself to trust any other human being with such power, and there is no greater good that can be done with it, other than that which remains for you to do.”
With that George turned away and walked through an invisible doorway at the edge of my garden. In a flash of light he was gone. Gone back, I presume, to 1978, while I am left here to wonder what the hell I will write when I am in my 70’s, to save the world from its eventual self-destruction?
Monday, September 23, 2013
Fall in Love
I’m not saying I’m right.
I’m not saying you’re wrong.
I’m saying let’s just chill out tonight.
And fall in love with a brand new song.
I don’t need to argue.
I no longer see the reason.
Let’s just enjoy the sunset
In this changing of the season.
It was just an article that caught my interest,
An attention-grabbing aside.
It does not express my values,
On marijuana or gay pride.
I shared it publicly on Facebook
Perhaps doing so was a mistake
Now the men in black, my apple they hack
W-T-F, for heaven’s sake?
So tonight let’s turn off the TV
The computer, and the world.
Let’s sip some wine and just relaxWith our lips and our hearts unfurled.
Friday, August 30, 2013
Dedicated, To Those Who Will Die Tomorrow
How many loaves of white bread did I buy for a dollar today?
Oh damn, it should have been whole grain.
That is how we can eat right they say.
And I thought the all news radio station said something about 200 dead.
I think it was in Syria.
I feel so guilt ridden.
I did not walk my 2 miles before breakfast.
I had two ice cream cups for dessert.
And the handsome man, and the pretty face on the big screen TV,
said it was poison gas, maybe, they don’t know for sure. Now it’s time for sports.
When is too much information
not enough information to act?
To finally do something to solve the problem.
At last someone on TV has an answer.
They are going to trade the Quarterback for a first round draft pick next year.
Nothing on the tube tonight.
I guess I’ll try a level or two in Candy Crush or Farmville.
News flash, RSS feed, PUSH notification, a Presidential tweet.
The carriers are in position.
I need some nails to build another barn,I’m out of lives. Please, can you send me some lives?
Monday, August 19, 2013
Celebration of Love.
Our eyes meet, we need no words to be spoken between us.
We have done this before, many times.
I embrace you with all the poise and charm, you expect of your champion.
I hold you in my arms as we move as one body in the night.
My stomach to yours we glide through positions, muscles straining in unison.
Soon you relax in the certain safety of my manly embrace,
as I lead you step by step through graceful rhythms of love.
Twisting and turning with elegant delight.
My right hand on the small of your naked back, my left behind your head.
I lift you up, my face to your breast as we slowly roll, twist and turn.
Your legs wrapped tightly around me,
you arch back.
I grab your shoulders your elbows your forearms
and finally your hands and mine clasp as you continue to lean backwards,
lingering in each moment of sinful delight.
Suddenly your arms fly up and surround my neck,
and you kiss me in perfect time to the final beat of ecstasy.
The music stops,
you slide off of me and onto your feet.
I gracefully hold your hand high as we present ourselves one last time to the audience,
a final bow to the judges.
I lead you off the dance floor to the table reserved for couple 112
Where we rejoin our friends and lovers, yours and mine.
They leap to their feet as our score for Argentine Tango is announced.
The ballroom erupts in celebration of our victory.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Where, Oh Where, Would I go?
Last week while sitting in a writing class,
Dear Teacher asked of me..
Of all the places in the world,
which do you most wish to see?
I sat back and gave some thought -been there -done that,
Once by land and twice by sea.
Then like a blessed epiphany,
the answer was reviled to me.
The best trip of a lifetime.
A vacation that can’t be beat?
I’d love to see North Korea,
from 65,000 feet.
Riding in a B-2 Bomber,
or maybe a B-52
I’d fly up to old Pyongyang,
and drop a bomb or two.
I’d download a spy satellite data feed,
and program my smart bomb.
I’d specifically target their Great Leader,
to the civilians I’d wish no harm.
Well hello there little Kim Jung Un.
I hope I’m not too crass.
Would you mind bending over just a little bit more,
so I can hit you in your … brass
This would start a scramble for succession,
I doubt it would start world war three.
The Korean Little Lord Fountleroy’s are lined up waiting
as far as the eye can see.
And should the next Great Leader get nasty,
should he start to threaten war!
I’ll just go for a ride in my bomber of rhyme,
that’s what a poet is for.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
“It just isn’t fair. This can’t be happening. What are we going to do? Rebecca’s Leukemia was responding so well to the Triton-proclax. Why the hell were they taking it off the market? There is nothing else that works. She hasn’t had seizures, she hasn’t fainted. She can’t drive a car while on it, big deal. It’s keeping her alive. Doc, what the hell are we supposed to do? What if it was your wife, Doc?”
“John… Rebecca, please. You knew this was a trial program when you signed up.”
“But it’s working, Doc. It’s working.”
“The first few months of the study went well. Last week reports of seizures started to come in. There have been 7 deaths reported in the past two days. The trial is a failure. Triton-proclax 50/20 is shutdown.”
“It’s still on the market in Argentina, isn’t it, Doc? It’s still available in Argentina.”
“It’s not the same drug, John. I’m sorry. Rebecca, I want you to stay at home for the next week. Rest, and eat whatever you feel like eating. Please write down everything you eat, and make a note of anything unusual that you may feel. Please come back to the office this Tuesday, and Thursday. I want to take some blood tests. It’s important that we monitor your withdrawal from Triton-proclax 50/20 closely. There is a very limited sample of people who came off the trial early, and there were … complications. So it’s important to stay on top of things.”
John and Rebecca shuffled out of Dr. Mallory’s office. Their thirty something faces suddenly looking forty something under the strain of their despair. Rebecca’s complexion had turned from rosy to ashen, not from her illness, but from her loss of hope.
Rebecca stayed in bed all weekend. She didn’t have much of an appetite. She felt like a condemned woman, her bedroom had become her death row cell. She sat at her dressing table and started to write notes of farewell to everyone in her life. She had no idea how rapidly her condition would worsen now that she had been removed from her wonder drug. John, on the other hand, set out to find Triton-proclax on the black market.
On Tuesday Rebecca struggled to get herself dressed, then John drove Rebecca to the doctor’s office for her blood test. After their office visit they drove home, not speaking until John finally broke the silence.
“Honey. I got a name today. A pharmacist over in Braperton county. I can get a thirty-day supply for ten thousand dollars.”
“What are you talking about, John? You heard the Doctor.”
“No. Honey. Really, this guy said that the pharmaceutical company was ordered to collect and destroy all the Triton-proclax distributed for the study. He says a guy on the inside at the incinerator plant replaced the real Triton-proclax with Argentine knock-offs. We can have as much as we can pay cash for, but we have to hurry. There aren’t that many pills to be had.”
“John, I don’t know.”
“Oh Rebecca, please, I love you. I can’t go on without you. Please, let’s do this.”
“John, I can’t right now. Please, let’s sleep on it tonight. We’ll talk about it in the morning.”
“What the hell is there to talk about?”
They drove on in silence. John occasionally took his eyes off the road to look at Rebecca. He saw the tears in her eyes. He didn’t push the conversation. He didn’t have to. John knew exactly what he had to do the next morning.
John was disappointed to find that it would be seven to ten business days before his company 401-K plan administrator could put a cashiers check for a hundred thousand dollars in his hand. He tried to wait, but he could not. With each passing hour he knew the supply of pills was in danger of being bought up by other people. People just like him, with loved ones just as sick. But John didn’t care. This was his wife. She was the only person he cared about. John decided to take ten grand out of his savings account. It would buy a thirty-day supply. That was enough to cover the wait for his big check, and hopefully he could promise the pharmacist a big sale, and he would keep a supply around for him. That was a naive thought on John’s part, but he couldn’t see it.
He took the hour-long drive to Braperton county, and as instructed by his source he pulled up to the rear entrance of the pharmacy. He parked next to a dumpster, walked to the beat up metal rear door and rang the bell. A man in a white coat opened the metal door and John simply said, “TP 50/20,” and he flashed the thick wad of hundred dollar bills. The man in the white coat simply said, “Wait here,” and the metal door closed.
The door was closed for only a minute or two, but it seemed like an eternity. John nervously looked around expecting the police or federal agents to swoop down on him. Then the metal door opened and the exchange was made. The man in the white coat didn’t count the money. John asked, “Aren’t you going to count it?” The man stopped, looked John square in the eyes and said, “I’m the only supplier there is. You aren’t going to cheat me out of a couple of hundred, and screw yourself too.” The door closed. The transaction was over. Now John had to face Rebecca with the news of what he had done.
John thought but could not find the words he needed to have his taboo conversation with Rebecca. That evening as they finished dinner without much conversation, John took the bottle of pills out of his pocket and placed them on the table in front of Rebecca. Her head sunk to her chest, and tears streamed from her eyes as she reached out and grasped the bottle of pills. As she clutched the bottle to her chest, her crying escalated into a mournful wailing; mixed with a bittersweet feeling joy, and then once again, the immediate realization that the joy was temporary at best.
John’s hundred thousand was enough to buy the last of the Triton-proclax 50/20 available on the black market. They had a one-year supply of pills, a year of hoping for a miracle.
The bi-weekly visits to Dr. Mallory’s office for monitoring continued for the next few months. One evening after the blood was drawn Dr Mallory asked Rebecca to join him in his office.
“Yes, Dr. Mallory?”
“Rebecca, you must be doing something different from my other Triton-proclax 50/20 patients. Are you sure you are writing down everything you are eating and drinking?”
“YES, yes, of course, Dr. Mallory, of course I am, everything.”
“Rebecca…Look me in the eye. You have done something you shouldn’t have, haven’t you?”
She couldn’t look him in the eye. Her own eyes were filling with tears.
“Rebecca, that’s very risky.”
“Do you want me to stop, Dr. Mallory?”
There was a long silence. “No Rebecca. I don’t want you to stop. But I do need you to be honest with me. It’s the only way we can get through this.”
“You don’t want me to stop?”
“Rebecca. We are going to be honest with each other, agreed?”
“Rebecca… You are the last surviving member of the Triton-proclax 50/20 trial.
“When the other patients came off the drug, their white count exploded. I want to try and wean you off the drug slowly. Monitoring you every step of the way. Will you work with me Rebecca?”
“Yes, I have no other choice, do I?”
“Rebecca I believe this will be a long, but hopefully a successful process. I’m going to insert what’s called a central access catheter in your arm, so we don’t have to keep sticking you with needles, OK?”
“Let’s go for it, Dr. Mallory.”
“I’ll also need you to bring in your pills, Rebecca.” There was another long pause in the conversation. “Rebecca, we have to trust one another.”
“Okay Dr. Mallory, I’ll bring them in.”
Rebecca brought her supply of Triton-proclax 50/20 into Dr. Mallory. Most of it that is; she kept a months supply hidden at home, just in case.
The revelation of Rebecca’s supply presented Dr. Mallory with a new problem. Rebecca’s ill-gotten stash of Triton-proclax 50/20 was in fact the Argentine knock-off, not the real drug. It seemed that hope was the medicine that was keeping Rebecca alive. Dr. Mallory’s new challenge was to keep Rebecca’s hope alive while concocting a successful ruse to wean her off the counterfeit drug.
Friday, July 5, 2013
Eight Months On
It’s eight months on since the howling wind pushed the sea over the land, over the streets, over our homes and over our hearts.
Eight months on and the sound of generators, chain saws, loud speakers on Humvee’s and the crying of wives and children, and of ourselves; has been replaced by the sound of hammers and skill saws, as the work of recovery has moved outside into the summer heat.
Eight months since the photo-op for Cuomo and Schumer. Eight months since the EPA was the first government organization in the neighborhood…Handing out fines for home heating oil spills to the downtrodden and desperate homeowners.
Eight months on since the Nationalist Chinese International relief organization handed the worst hit homeowners Visa gift cards, While the United States Government, the State of New York, the County of Suffolk, and the Town of Babylon, FOUR LAYERS OF GOVERNMENT …did nothing. While the Red Cross gave us bottled water, tainted food, expired canned goods, the toll free phone numbers for FEMA and the Suicide Prevention Hotline.
Eight months on since it took an act of Congress for my insurance company to pay off my flood claim, after 33 years of our paying premiums, and 67 of the bastards in Congress voted against it.
Eight months on since the government called me and said, you have money, we will make you a loan, even with you and your wife both recently unemployed …because if you default on the loan we’ll just take your 401K.
Eight months on since my country turned it’s back on me in my hour of need.
Eight months since my wife and I picked ourselves up out of the mud. WE DID IT ON OUR OWN.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Thursday, June 20, 2013
I escaped a New York sweatshop when I signed into the Fighting 69th Infantry.
The Irish brigade shall make me free.
Who knew I’d lose my sacred soul
In the sunshine and the steamy heat, July 2nd of 63
The 69th was drained of blood at Antietam, My brother --dead at Fredricksburg.
Or regiment worn down to just two companies. We marched for days and nights on end
Till our thinned ranks reached Gettysburg.
Yes all the men were tired, and many of us were scared
But we all had faith and brotherhood,
and don’t forget the Irish blood we shared.
We all clung to this common bond as upon the ground at Rose’s Wood we knelt,
We could see standing on Stony Hill, Chaplain Corby blessing us, but with his absolution, forlorn is what we felt.
In the Wheatfield we saw Sickles’ blue line falter under swarming rebel gray.
T’was up to the Fighting 69th to charge and save the day.
We ran like hell towards heaven’s gate our flank anchored on Devils Den.
We ran as our brothers fell left and right, and took our place in line upon that bloody glen.
Our story now be told, it was the courage of the 69th
that caused that battered Union line to hold.
But too much blood was bled that day, and the 69th too thin.
As mini balls came from left and right, and tore the flesh of the Irish Brigade within.
So slowly, with pride, not with fear but out of common sense,
the 69th reversed its steps, and withdrew to the cover of a wormwood fence.
Over the bodies of our brothers, over the blood soaked once golden wheat
Both now trampled down into this hollowed ground, in Pennsylvania’s stifling heat.
Should you ever visit the Wheatfield, an unimposing trapezoidal plot.
Be sure you go in summer, when it’s humid and it’s hot.
Stand there and envision the 69th New York Infantry so grand.
Remember this is where the Irish Brigade, made its glorious stand.
And should you find you shed a tear, when you think of their sacrifice on that field.Remember they died to make men free, and for our once torn nation… that now… is healed.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
A Walk in the Park
This work has been posted before, but I did so chapter by chapter, and quite frankly it was a bit confusing to readers. So, here it is, all together in one posting.
I had finally escaped the office for 3 days of hiking in the Okanogan National Forest in my home state of Washington. Just me, my sleeping bag, and a 50-pound backpack filled with all the comforts of, well, maybe not home, but close enough. Half way up the side of the ridge I decided to take the path least traveled, picking my way between loose gravel and broken rocks, I was sure going to give my new hiking boots a good workout.
Once up over the ridge, and down into a hollow I saw a huge field of beautiful wildflowers. I could not resist. I dropped my pack and grabbed my new 7 mega-pixel camera and tripod. I framed the shot in the picture viewer, and set camera to “Trap Focus” so it would capture every movement once I was on my mark. Like a little girl I bounded to the spot I figured to be center frame and I started mugging for the camera.
CLICK… I looked to my right, and there in the tall grass I thought I saw something.
CLICK… I jumped up to get a better view.
CLICK… It was an injured hiker. I started to tremble. He was bleeding profusely from a large cut on his neck.
CLICK… As I approached him I could see he was blinking so I knew he was alive.
CLICK… I took out my phone to call 911 and …CLICK.
Three months later.
“Ranger base, this is Ranger 2 over.”
“Go ahead Ranger 2, over.”
“Mike, I’m circling the Northwest side of Hadley ridge. I’m observing what looks like a discarded backpack in a field, and some matted grass not far off, I’m going to set it down and take a closer look. Over.”
“Copy that Ranger 2, and Jim-bo, report your progress to base every 15 minutes, over.”
“Affirmative Ranger base, Ranger 2, over and out.”
Jim Maguire was an experienced pilot. The landing was a piece of cake. He put his chopper down right between the backpack and the matted patch of grass.
What do we have we here … a camera on a tripod… the backpack is intact … Oh OK this must have been where the camera was packed away. Camera’s dead. Kind of pointing at that patch of tall grass and the matted patch over there. Where the heck is our photographer friend at?
I started walking to the patch of matted grass that I had seen from the air.
What the heck was he filming …. Whoa, what’s this? Oh Crap. I ran back to my chopper as quick as I could.
“Ranger base, Ranger Base, this is Ranger 2, Do you copy.”
“Ranger 2, this is Ranger Base, why so excited Jim-bo?”
“Looks like a lot of blood, but I don’t think it was a deer hunter. Maybe was, maybe not. I can’t find signs of a gut pile anywhere. That abandoned equipment is giving me a bad feeling. I think we better get the State Troopers up here with a test kit to check it out. Over.”
“Roger Jim-bo, I’ll get a hold of State and see what they want to do, but don’t hold your breath, the State Fair in Calhoun has them stretched pretty thin. Over.”
“Ranger 2 standing by. Over”
“Ranger 2 this is Ranger Base, over.”
“Ranger Base, go ahead Mike, over.”
“Yeah Jim-bo State is real interested, they think every runaway kid and escaped nut heads for our pretty little park. They’re gonna chopper in a team to your coordinates, ETA 2 hours.”
“Crap, Mike call my mom and tell her not to hold dinner.”
“Roger Jim-bo, Ranger Base standing by.”
“Ranger 2 standing by.”
State was interested all right; they had their team on site in an hour and a half. It took them all of 5 minutes after touching down to prove the dried blood I discovered was not only human, but also that it was from 2 different people.
Well, past experience told me that at this point the State folks would ignore me like a piece of crap so I went back to my chopper and sat comfortably in the pilots seat while they went about their business. Surprisingly, after about an hour the head of the crime scene team came over and sat in my co-pilots position.
“How much daylight we have left up here Ranger?”
“Dusk in .. oh… half an hour … dark as a witch’s cape in two.”
The lead CSI stepped out of my chopper and yelled to his crew, “OK People, lets wrap it up, pack it up, and move this investigation indoors.”
CRACK. The unmistakable sound of a rifle shot tore through the crisp mountain air and the lead CSI’s head exploded in a spray red mist. Instinctively I grabbed my rifle and dove out the door of my chopper as two more shots were fired and the windscreen directly in front of my Pilots position was shattered.
Crack-Clang, Crack-Clang, Crack-Clang, he put 3 rounds into the State chopper. CRACK, and a streak of red, a tracer round shattered against the engine compartment of the State chopper. CRACK-Streak, a second tracer round smashed into the State bird, and that was it. Black smoke and a little bit of flame signaled the end of the State choppers flight log, and the shooter had inadvertently told me what part of the woods he was shooting from. The shooter had forgotten a cardinal rule; tracers work both ways.
I settled into my position, and got ready to return fire. Then heroics took charge of the situation, or stupidity interfered. It depends on how you look at it. A young female CSI ran to the burning State chopper to retrieve some evidence she had already stowed on board, and CRACK, she caught one in the hip. Their Pilot reacted by getting up on his knees and ineffectively returning fire with his .38 caliber service revolver. CRACK, he caught a bullet in his chest, and paid the ultimate price.
Crack-Clang, Crack-Clang, the shooter was putting armor piercing rounds into my chopper’s engine compartment now. I settled in over my sight and waited for the tracers. Crack-Clang, the third armor piercing round, now if he were a creature of habit, he would sign his death warrant with tracers.
CRACK-Streak … POP-POP-POP-POP-POP-POP, I fired half my clip at his position. The resulting dead silence was only broken by the moans of the wounded CSI who was lying dangerously close to the State chopper, now fully engulfed in flame.
I had to do something. I jumped to my feet, and dropped to the ground quickly to see if I would draw any fire. Nothing. Good. I got into a low crawl position and darted a few yards, and dropped to the ground again. Still, no more gunfire coming from the tree line. The shooter was dead, wounded, gone, or playing possum.
I made for the state bird and pulled the wounded CSI clear of the burning hulk. Once I was sure she was OK I made my way back to my bird and got on the radio.
“Mayday, mayday, mayday. Ranger Base, this is Ranger 2.
“Ranger Base, what is your emergency Ranger 2? Over.”
“Shots fired, 3 officers down. Choppers disabled, no egress available. Need medevac stat. Over.”
“Jim-bo, stay down boy, I’m gonna call the cavalry. Mayday Mayday, Shots fired, Officers down, all stations respond.”
“Ranger Base, Ranger 1 available, and standing by.”
“Ranger Base, this is County Air Rescue. We are on the pad at Memorial, and available. Over.”
“Ranger 1 this is Ranger Base. Get in the ATV and make your way along the firebreak to the Northwest side of Hadley ridge. Wear your night vision equipment and report anything hot. We got us a shooter out there. Do not approach, just report. You got that son?”
“Affirmative Base. Ranger 1, on my way, ETA 3 hours. Ranger 1 out.”
“County Air Rescue, this is Ranger Base.”
“C.A.R. is by, Go ahead Ranger Base.”
“CAR, we have not yet ascertained if the area is safe. I can’t expect you to go in there, but we got Officers Down.”
“Ranger Base, I have 2 Sheriffs Department Deputies on board with me and my EMT. We are in route. ETA 30 minutes”
“God bless ya CAR. Stand by for Comm. instructions.”
CAR, this is Ranger Base. Tune to Ranger Frequency 191.7 Repeat, 191.7, and radio check when you get there. Over.”
“Copy that Ranger Base, One Nine-er One, dot Seven. Ranger Base this is County Air Rescue on One Nine-er One, dot Seven, do you copy?”
“Ranger Base has you 5 by 5 CAR. Over”
“County Air Rescue, this is Ranger 2, that you Shaky?”
“Ranger 2, Damn Jim-bo, what’s goin’ on down there? Over.”
“CAR I’ve got 2 KIA and one Whiskey-IA. The Whiskey needs immediate evac, she’s lost a lot of blood. Be careful. We had a shooter in the tree line. He’s been quiet since I unloaded a half clip of .308 at him. He’s either dead, dieing, or boogying out. Over.”
“Yeah Jim-bo, I have visual on a fire up on the ridge.”
“Affirmative Shaky, that’s the States bird. Come in from due South of it. My chopper is disabled and will be 20 yards to the 8 o’clock position of the fire. The area to the 4 o’clock of the fire is open flat field. Clear for landing.”
“Roger that Ranger 2. I’m going to make a pass over the landing zone with my Infra Red before putting her down. Over”
“All Rangers on frequency, this is CAR. I have one heat signature next to the creek, just inside the tree line on the north end of the field. I have one possible weapon, and no movement. I’m coming round to the South to put her down. How’s our Whiskey –I-A doing Jim-bo? Over.”
“She’s hanging in there CAR. Ranger 2 out.”
Shaky put his bird down right where we needed it. There was no gunfire from the tree line. Shaky got to my position next to the wounded CSI with a stretcher and a field dressing kit. He patched her up and we carried her back to the Rescue Bird while the EMT checked over the two other CSI and confirmed what I already knew. The two Sheriffs Deputies split left and right and leapfrogged each other as they made their way to the tree line at the north end of the field.
The EMT joined us at the chopper and tended to the wounded CSI. Shaky jumped into his pilots seat, and I stepped off the Rescue chopper and yelled at Shaky.
“Shaky. This is my park, I’ll catch the next ride.”
We gave each other a “thumbs up” as Shaky hit the throttle and took our surviving casualty to the hospital.
I stood around for 20 minutes or so in the cool mountain air with only two silent corpses to keep me company. They lay there in the flickering shadows of the field illuminated by the State choppers slowly dying firelight, and the half moon rising in the twilight.
“Hello the camp!”
“Come on in Deputy.” One of the Sheriff’s men joined me back at my chopper.
“How do Ranger, I’m Paul. Ronny is back with the shooter. Bastard’s breathing, but he ain’t gonna make it till morning. He’s just about all bled out. You got him good in the thigh. Let’s get County Rescue back here quick.”
I ran the few steps to my cockpit and grabbed the radio microphone.
“CAR this is Ranger 2. CAR, Ranger 2, over.”
“CAR this is Ranger 2. Come in CAR this is Ranger 2, over.”
“Ranger 2, this is CAR. I’m on final approach to the hospital. What’s up Jim-bo? Over.”
“Shaky. Turn it around as quick as you can, the shooter is still alive. Over”
“Affirmative good buddy. You might want to know; Doc gave our Whiskey CSI an I.V. and she has a big ol’ smile on her face. I’m on my way back to you just as soon as they roll her into emergency. Over.”
There was silence on the radio.
“Ranger 2, this is CAR. You copy?”
“Ranger 2? Ranger 2 do you copy. Over?”
“Yeah I got ya Shaky. Cancel that return trip. Nothing left to do up here but a morgue run. It can wait till daylight. Over.”
While Shaky was giving me the good news about the CSI with the slug in her hip, Deputy Ronny had joined us at camp, carrying the scoped hunting rifle used by the shooter.
“You sure Ronny?”
“Yes Sir. He started to rattle in his chest right before he stopped breathing. Sure enough he peed and crapped his pants. He’s done, put a fork in ‘em.”
“Now Ronny you get back up there and make sure the critters don’t mess up the body. I’ll be down here with the Ranger and the two victims.”
Three weeks later I was instructed to report to State police Headquarters wearing my dress uniform for “a Little Something Special.” When I got there I met a number of Police officials, and a very pretty young CSI on crutches. Shaky was right, she had quite a nice smile. This was not going to be a ceremony in the usual sense of the word. I wasn’t going to get a medal or even a citation. What I was going to get was a special showing of the digital pictures on that camera I had found in the field back when this all started.
I took a seat next to my attractive young CSI lady friend. Lights out.
Click, a Turkey Buzzard flying high.
Click, a duck in a creek.
Click, wild flowers.
Click, the back of a young girl in shorts, tank top and a bandana, running.
Click, same girl sitting near the flowers.
Click, she is standing up, looking at something.
Click, she is moving almost completely out of frame.
Click, she is kneeling, but only her boots are in frame.
Click, oh no, from the other side of the frame, is it a bear?
Click, no, it’s a man in camouflage, holding a huge knife.
Click, I can’t watch the screen. I turn my head and I watch the young CSI’s eyes instead.
Click, her eyes flinch just a bit.
Click, she turns her head just for a second, then returns her professional gaze back to the screen. Click, her eyes start to get wet.
Click … Click … a single tear runs from her eye and down her soft young cheek.
Click… Click, she turns to look at me, both our faces wet with tears.
I help her to her feet, and we leave the room together.
A Walk in the Park, Chapter 2
This is a continuation of “The Original 6 Page Work Called A Walk in the Park, Posted on this Blog on 9/24/12 Be sure to read that one first……….
I watched Special Agent Mills as she walked from the edge of my bed to the kitchen wearing nothing but my dress shirt. She still had a slight limp, and she should be using her crutches, but after last night I might be the one who needs crutches this morning. You never would have known that she had been shot in the hip less than two months ago.
She started opening cupboard doors looking for the coffee.
“It’s in the middle one, on the right-hand side.”
It was instant, but I live alone. I go to the local coffee shop on the corner if I want something special.
I was mesmerized by her figure as she bent over and searched the contents of my refrigerator for something eatable.
“Not much of a foodie are you Jim?”
“I’m only here one week out of any given month Tina. You should see my spread up on the mountain, beats the pants off of this apartment hands down.”
Tina returned to the bedroom, and sat on her knees at the end of my bed. “Now if you have no ham and eggs, what are we gonna do all morning?” She leaned forward, straddled my legs, and started to crawl up the bed.
I love the mountains. I’ve always been a mountain man. With the top half of my dress shirt hanging open, I had a perfect view of Tina’s mountains. When she was face to face with me she kissed me.
“That place of yours in the park belongs to the Federal Government, Ranger Jim.”
With that she tossed off the bed sheet and slowly settled herself down on top of me. Yippie-ki-yay, the cowgirl rides again.
“Hell yes darlin’. My momma didn’t raise no fool.”
We smiled, we laughed, we kissed, and we said good-bye. I watched her 2-door sedan pull out of town headed north. I straddled the gas tank of my motorcycle and kicked it over, then I left a trail of dust heading west to the Ranger station.
On that long lonely ride I had plenty to think about. I was close to 10 years older than her. She was smart. She was pretty, and she was in my head after just one night. I started an in depth discussion with myself as to when would be the best time to call her. Tonight? No way, too soon. Tomorrow? Maybe, that would be cool, yet caring.
As I turned up the road to the National Park Welcome Center my cell phone started to vibrate. I nervously pulled over and answered it on the first ring.
“Yo Jim-bo this is Mike.” My disappointment at hearing it was Mike, my Supervisor, and not Tina was immediate and deep.
“What’s up Mike?”
“Jim-bo I got a call. They want me down in Tahoe to supervise a forest fire fuel reduction effort. I only expect to be gone for two weeks. If you haven’t guessed son, you will be acting Supervisor while I’m gone. I left a rotation schedule for the Fire Watchtower assignments on my desk. Anybody gives you any crap about an assignment, kick ass and take names.”
“Two weeks Mike?”
“More than likely son. I am sure you can handle it, any problems radio dispatch should be able to get me.”
“OK Mike. Just make sure you run the other way when those lumberjacks yell TIMBER!”
“Will do Jim-bo, will do. Bye.”
“Bye Mike.” Crap. Two weeks of playing boss. Two weeks of not daring to take any time off. Two weeks of not being able to see Tina.
Tina had a long drive back to her place. Her place? Not really. She had been living with John for three years, one happy, one sad, and one miserable as all Hell. In the past year John had turned into a controlling and manipulative ogre. She didn’t want to move back home, but that would be the only option available in her immediate future.
One night with Jim had been the catalyst to her courage. The final straw, the missing piece to the puzzle, now found, the picture of what she had to do was complete. Even if it was not Jim tomorrow, it was Jim last night, and that was good enough. She was finally certain that there would be life after John, maybe even love. She just hoped that John would not be there when she got back.
It wouldn’t be like she would just show up on her mother’s doorstep. They had been talking regularly for the past year, ever since Tina’s father had passed away. Her mother was lonely, and would welcome her back, or so Tina reasoned.
Tina filled the back seat of her car with her clothes, and took those things she had brought into the relationship back out with her. She took her CDs, and left his, and so on through the apartment, except for the TV remote. The big-screen TV was Johns, but she took the remote control because she knew that would piss John off the most.
Tina drove up to her mother’s house and parked by the white picket fence. Her mother was outside picking weeds in the flower garden. Tears started to drip down Tina’s cheek as she opened the gate and slowly walked up the path to her mother. Tina’s mom looked at her daughter’s face, and the pile of clothing in the back seat of the car. She knew. She opened her arms and embraced her daughter. They walked quietly inside and had a cup of tea and a good cry. Tina’s room was waiting for her, just the way she left it 3 years ago.
Mom’s house did not have internet service. Personal phone calls and internet usage were taboo at work, and Jim spent most of his time in a dead zone. Tina started stopping by the internet-café after work and wrote long love letter E-mails to Jim, and he reciprocated in kind whenever he could. Tina was thrilled that this handsome hunk had such a romantic spirit.
There was one problem they were not aware of. Tina had no idea that John had hacked her e-mail logon and password years before. John was not impressed with Jim’s romantic ways, or his woman’s desires to be with this other man.
Chapter 3 A Walk in the Park
“Good morning Ranger.”
I looked up from the pile of paperwork on the desk that Mike had left for me to sort through and file away. I saw four men in suits. Men who just did not belong anywhere in these parts.
“May I help you gentlemen?”
“I’m agent Dawson, this is Agent Krug, FBI.”
“I’m Agent Wanser, this is Agent Zykerjoksi, from the State Bureau of Investigation… Just call him Agent Z, that’s what we all do.”
Dawson was obviously in charge of this fashion conscious gathering of law enforcement. My phone rang, Dawson looked at his watch and said, “That would be under Secretary of Interior Templeton.”
I answered it.
“Hello. … Yes Ma’am. … Yes Ma’am. They are in my office right now. Yes Ma’am, certainly Ma’am. … Ya’ll have a good day too.”
“Well now, it seems my name is known in Washington D.C. I hope in a good way. So, once again, how may I help you gentlemen?”
“You will be returning with us to the scene of the crime.”
Any further conversation was drowned out by the sound of at least 4 choppers passing overhead. The last one circled and landed on the pad usually occupied by my chopper.
The 5 of us walked out back towards the landing pad.
“You know if my bird was back from repairs I’d fly us all in there myself?”
“Sit in the back with us.” Dawson was as dry as a mouth full of cinnamon. If he ever cracked a smile it would crack his face. Agent Z gave me a look and a raised eyebrow that said without spoken words … Yep, Dawson’s a dick.
We got to Hadley Ridge and set the chopper down along side of the three that had already landed. FBI Agent Krug asked the questions while the dozens of other business suit clad underlings scrambled about their choppers pulling out and assembling all kinds of gizmos under the direction of Agent Dawson.
Krug had me recount every detail of what happened that day; every shot, every movement. He could have read all that in the official report, but he was asking again. It was soon apparent that they were waiting for me to screw up, to say something that didn’t match. We were in for a long day. I had told the truth then, and I was telling the truth now. I wasn’t about to screw up, and the more they leaned on me trying to make me sweat, the cooler and more collected I got. Krug and Dawson took turns, compared notes, and tried to trip me up again. I had been through all this before with the local authorities and an internal investigation by the Forest Service. Bureaucrats, wasting taxpayer money so they can buy their expensive suits.
When the Feds were finished, State Agents Wanser and Z came over. Wanser spoke, Z just smiled.
“How you holding up Jim?” Wow, first suit to call me Jim.
“I’m just fine. I have a pile of paperwork back in HQ that isn’t getting any smaller.”
“You can head back with us. We just need the FBI to concur.”
“So what’s going on here?”
“That’s Wanser’s call. Wish I could tell ya, but it’s up to Wanser.”
In other words I wasn’t about to be told a thing.
I got back to my office just in time to lock up, and head over to my mom’s place to see if she had gotten her medicine in the mail yet.
Mom was real happy to see me. She had a hot meal on the table, and when I had finished eating she casually mentioned that a picture upstairs had fallen off the wall and needed re-hanging. When I got to the top of the stairs my phone started to beep telling me that I had entered an area of good reception and had just received several e-mails.
Three of them were from Tina. The first two were the kind I liked to get, real nice, sexy, playful e-mails. They made my mouth water in anticipation of the third e-mail. It had attachments. Oh Baby, are you sexting me or what?
The first picture was a little odd. It was of a sign behind a bar. “Happy Hour 5 till 7. Free round of shooters with every pitcher of beer.”
The second picture was of a Bar Keep shaking a shaker full of shooters over his head. Well now I wondered, is she an Alabama Slammer drinking girl or what?
The third and final attachment was strangest of all. In that picture Tina had a dead serious look in her eye, and with both index fingers, she was pointing at two shooters on the bar.
A light bulb went on over my head, figuratively and literally.
“Son, I don’t want you to be poking around up there in the dark. Be careful.”
“Oh I’m going to be careful Mom, real careful.”
Chapter 4 of, A Walk in the Park
Tina wasn’t under surveillance, by anyone other than her x-boyfriend that is. Still she was careful to be cryptic in her communications with Jim, just in case she was wrong about being monitored.
She was on Limited Duty until her appointment with the State’s Doctor later in the week. She felt fine, but she had to wait for the doctor to sign-off on the paperwork. She was eager to get back into the field, but being in the office gave her access to some interesting information.
The two hikers who had the misfortune to be in the field near Hadley Ridge at the wrong time were both identified. After exhaustive interviews and background checks they were found to be just that, two innocent nature-loving hikers, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
The FBI had called the crime lab. They wanted to take another look at the evidence from the Park shooting incident. Scratches found on three of the shell cases recovered from the shooters position in the Park incident were thought to have come from contamination of the rifles chamber during the shooting. A later, more thorough examination by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms concluded that such scratching was inconsistent with the condition of the chamber of the recovered weapon.
Two days ago an empty .30-06 shell casing, with the same scratches on the case, was recovered by an undercover agent working at a right-wing sniper training facility in the woodlands of Georgia. The FBI was now working a new theory in the Park shooting incident, a theory centered on two shooters. One of whom was still alive, and apparently getting some target practice down in Georgia.
Tina was afraid for Jim. She wanted to get a message to him, but this new information was confidential. At first she thought her idea of the picture of two shooters was clever, then she thought it was too transparent. She waffled back and forth between feeling it was too cryptic, and not cryptic enough. In the end she realized it did not matter. She had hit send, and the deed was done. Tina rationalized that it was not the means, but the simple fact that she had tried to get warning to her new boyfriend, that made her feel better.
Her feeling better didn’t last more than a day. Interpol finally identified the body of the Park incident sniper as one Joseph Stalac, a.k.a. Jed Smith. A Bosnian Serb who had been recruited by international gunrunners after his talents were no longer needed at home. He was thought to be in Canada. His appearance in the USA was drawing some major resources from Homeland Security. Resources that were up on Hadley Ridge checking every blade of grass, and every stone for a clue as to what was going on. From the amount of trash, and buried human excrement they found, the FBI believed that Stalac had indeed been in the area for months, hiding, waiting for his trail to get cold. They were still working the issue of who was this other shooter, and why was he meeting Stalac?
John was totally pissed when he logged into Tina’s e-mail account and read her e-mails to Jim. He saw the pictures. He recognized the bar, it was Flatheads, and it was a Friday. He recognized Mike the bartender, and Mike only worked the bar at Flatheads on Friday.
As John looked at the pictures he thought he knew what they meant. Tina wanted this new guy to join her at the bar. She had a shooter waiting for him. John was itching for a confrontation so he figured he’d hang out at Flatheads on Friday nights and wait for them to show up. Weeks went bye and they never did show, but even if they had John would have been too drunk to do anything but fall down and hurt himself in a confrontation.
The FBI’s undercover agent working at the sniper school in Georgia spent a week secretly taking pictures of all the “Students.” He sent the pictures to the Bureau’s Facial Recognition Lab who compared them to the security video from the Parks Visitor Center. They got a match, and an arrest was made.
The case was officially closed, and no one with any information was talking. Not a word. Not even to all the local authorities back in Washington State who had been involved in the case from the start. The details of the case were strictly on a “Need to know” basis, and the Fed’s didn’t think the Locals had a need.
As for Jim and Tina, they wondered what the answers were to this mystery, but after a few months those cares became secondary as they worried about the more important things in life. Things like; where are we going to live, who’s church are we going to get married in, and where are we going on the honeymoon?
Meanwhile as Ranger Jim and Tina were falling in love and planning their futures, the real action was taking place somewhere in a secret subterranean facility in the George Washington National Forest, Virginia……..
“State your name?”
“Place of birth?”
“… Security Consultant.”
“Security Consultant my ass Stochnia. You want to try that question again?”
“You call yourself Special Agent, you are Gangster, you try again.”
“Oh Stochnia, you were doing so well. Were you consulting with Jed Smith up in the Okanogan National Forest?”
“Jeb-ed Smit’ You so funny Special Agent. Everybody in dis country wants be clown.”
Special Agent Karlson decided to get up close and personnel with Stochnia Kobitjin. He leaned over Kobitjin and made a fist.
EH! Eh, not in face. If you mean to say Joseph Stalac, den I know who you mean. Yes, we there together in forest for few days to talk.”
“What did you talk about? And don’t be a wise-ass.”
“He has large quantity Semtex explosive coming to drop-off points in USA. He wanted me to set up training for people. American people. Your own people looking to do some Jihad on your ass. But of course I refuse to do this terrible thing.”
The intercom crackled ~~ Special Agent Karlson. Come out here. ~~
Karlson walked back to the observation area overlooking the interrogation room.
His boss was standing there alongside of a handful of dark 3-piece suits. Men-in-Black who, true to form, were wearing sunglasses in the poorly lit room. “Agent Karlson, these folks are going to be taking over for us. Kobitjin will be getting some … special attention.”
Karlson looked into the sunglasses of one of the 3-piece suits. “Cut his face. He doesn’t want his face messed up. Cut his face. He’ll talk. You’ll get your list of bad-guys.”
The 3-piece suit barely moved his lips; “Thanks for the tip.”
The suits marched single file out of the observation area and into the interrogation room as Karlson’s boss led him out in the opposite direction.
Before he left, Karlson turned his head just enough to see Kobitjin greeting the 3 –piece suits like it was old home week. All of Karlson’s instincts told him that the Suits were going to get their list of would-be domestic terrorists, and Kobitjin was going to get a free ride home.
2 months later. Special Agents Quarterly Security Briefing.
The Director of the Threat Analysis and Capabilities Section was talking about foreign agitators in the Middle-East. In particular, those identified as having been killed in the latest round of Israeli retaliatory air strikes in Lebanon. Number 3 on the list: Stochnia Kobitjin.