Its the beginning of my weekend and I like to take it easy getting going. Have found if I start in a huff, things get expensive and with the way prices are, that doesn’t take much.
But I woke slow and was dwelling on a memory of my past. There was a kid I grew up with that was the seed of my thoughts, though what those thought centered on was “Value” and perceptions; Personal perceptions specifically. See, this kid was a die-hard comix collector. He would buy two copies of every X-men comic and all of the various spinoffs. One was for reading, the other would be bagged and tagged and stored in a footlocker. After he had read the one ‘for reading’ IT would be bagged, tagged and stored in another footlocker (he had his “A” books and “B” books and each was labeled as such) Now, that may not seem like a bad thing and it wasn’t: when he went to go to college, he used that second footlocker as collateral for the student loans. The entire footlocker appraised at well over 20K, and that was his “B” books.
But it was a concept I could never understand. I don’t know if its the way I was raised, or just that I don’t attach a monetary value to every single thing in my life. I see value beyond a price tag. Like with Books: yeah, they cost a certain amount of cash to get, and thats expected, but what do they HOLD inside. I’ll use “The Hunger Games” for now. Entertainment, 5 stars. But there is far more in those books than just entertainment: there are mirrors held up to look at the world from different perspectives, allowing the reader to see things in new light. They pull back the curtains hiding the ugly side of people, even the good ones. She mentions frequently that at some point, the decision to kill an ally is going to be forced on Katniss. That may be an extreme point, but there are actions that every one has to make that are not optimal, and that was one way of showing it.
Even as entertainment, there are lessons to be learned. I don’t recall many of the ones from those comix, but I am certain that they are hidden inside, even as I could bet that some of those lessons are closer to indoctrination of Marxist ways. (said indoctrination is insidious and has been quite dominant for decades). But the Value is far more than just some arbitrary monetary value assigned by some accountant. And there are some that are absolutely valueless (IMO) for lack of anything other than escapism, which has some value all its own. Me personally, I want to read about the thoughts in the heads of the protagonist, see how other people think when the shit’s hitting the fan, even if its fantastic and somewhat unbelievable, it may have kernel of truth that gives me options later down the road when I am in some fucked up situation.
Even in books like “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” there are lessons. The various races of aliens are mirrors to differnt mental states of people and how Arthur Dent bounces his way through the Galaxy like a pinball with no control of direction is analogy to how most people live their lives.
Those books have much more value to me than the price tag, and I have copies of them all, and NONE are ‘bagged and tagged’ awaiting some assayer to attribute some monetary value to them. They are all dog eared and torn covers (all but the hardbacks, and those may be missing the outer sleeve, but they tend to be better kept then the paperbacks.).
And every time I move, my ‘friends’ go with me, and take up far more space than my personal effects. (and those boxes are HEAVY!!!). Only one time did I not take all my friends with me, and that was when I split from my last GF and I have been slowly replacing those lost friends over the last fifteen years. It wasn’t an easy decision to make either, let me tell you. But the situation dictated I needed to ’empty my cup’. (and I have picked up quite a few new ones along the way as well as old ones that were waylaid.)
And its not just books. One of the reasons I would probably not make a good business owner is how I see the value of people. I would have a hard time assigning a ‘wage’ to someone, and some people would be given next to nothing (because the bring next to nothing to the table) or so high that I would go bankrupt (because those are the people that actually build your business for you.). And of course, there are all the regulations and Minimum Wage laws, and now, here. locally, demand that certain federal/state fees MUST be accounted for before you can work within city limits. (Workmans Comp payments must be shown or you can’t work as a contractor. EVEN IF, you have never had a workmans comp claim laid against you,,, EVEN IF, you are solo contractor without employees,,,, ).
IMO,That last is an example of “Value perception”. and just how skewed the value can become when Government gets its paws involved.
But I digress. Maybe I have more than a little bit of poet in me, since I see value in things far deeper and richer than just ‘Money”. I see experience as far more valuable and being able to get experience through the words of others, via book, spoken word, or in modern ways, in video, holds more value to me than just the price tag assigned. (and look at how much experience Rittenhouse and the latest Defender gained through FPS vid-games. Maybe it looks like a game, but that level of expertise in shooting, that has career operators applauding, is astounding. Those games hold more value than I formerly suspected.)
So, what brought up this memory? I heard that when my friends dad had died, he had his dads library ‘bagged and tagged’ and sold it piece-meal through EvilBay. I recall that library and those books and just how large it was ( all four walls of the basement, ceiling to floor and several stacks of boxes full). I wouldn’t be surprised if he had multiple copies of every single early release of Heinlein (and I know he had them all the way to “Friday”, because that was my introduction to Heinlein, and I picked it up from his library.). I can garan-danged-tee you that said friend NEVER read a single book in that library. No pictures, so they held zero interest to him and were only worth, to him, what someone else was willing to pay for them.
I don’t get that. I guess I never will.
And I am okay with that.
So here we are, The Good Ship Dio’s Workshop, aground, rudder fouled and rigging shot through by ScamDemic fallout. First Mate Voodoo is running about 30% both physically and mentally, and the passengers, Grumpykat and her boys, are wondering when we are going to hit a good port of call, not this barren mess they see off the bow. The WindGenny (called J.O.B.) is moving enough electrons to keep the bilge pumps running so the lower holds aren’t flooding, but not much more. We may be aground, but we are not sunk, so there is still hope of better to come.(and the corollary of that: could get a shit ton worse, but we’ll strive for the better.)
TIme for Cap’n Dio to strike out land-bound and get a lay of the area, maybe see if any of the charts we have on hand match what I see. Currently I am looking at a peak on this shoreline; a peak I am calling mount WTF!!! and I will head there to get a better view horizon to horizon. Maybe there is a way off this rock yet.
We all make choices, some times those choices work for us, other times against. Some of my choices, solid when made, did not hold up to current events or the black swan of a purpose made virus and the gullibility of sheep. Nor were my choices made with the idea that maybe, the federal government would make the same stupid fricking mistakes it made in the 1920s and collapse an economy. If you aren’t feeling it yet, stick around, you will. While I knew the economy was tanking, I missed the ‘slowly, then all at once’ aspects of things. And I admit, I floundered in the good times of Trumps economy. When I should have been sticking to my guns, I started playing a bit more than I should have.
Went to a local grocery store, one where I am a regular and have a decent rapport with the manager. They were in the middle of a floor renovation this last week. Took out one entire row of shelving, split the remaining rows in half and ‘added’ a middle walkway through them. I asked what was going on (this is not a big place) and was told, byt a regional type working there at the time ; “we’re remodeling to bring the store up to date”. Talked to the manager as I was leaving and her response was “they cut the shelving down to make it look like we have more stuff. Too many products we can’t get anymore.”
Think this is going to wrap up with some Selection cycle? I think not.
I personally think this is just the top of the hill and that the snow is still falling while the ice shelf below the snow is creaking frightfully. I haven’t paid much attention to what the markets are doing the last month or so, but I would say that they look a lot more shaky than that ‘To Infinity and beyond” shit they have been doing since 2008.
Choices. I have some choices to make and sooner than later. You all know one of them and that one keeps getting put off; I won’t go into details of that right now. Another choice is to take one of the several offers I always have laying around, but there is that ‘grass is greener’ thing, that is never the case. One master traded for a different master is still being owned by someone else. And that is where my angst with all of this is laying. I don’t WANT another J.O.B.
I’m getting a view, and looking for some landmarks to shoot an azimuth for: Figure out just where the hell I am currently. Maybe I can get something to make sense on the Straits of Meh.
I wrote the above yesterday afternoon, and scheduled it. Between then and what you are reading now, I chanced upon this post by Sarah at the Mad Genius Club. This is her group of fellow writers and a hella resource for up-n-coming writers (such as meself) so may not be for everyday reading for most peeps, but is on my daily check out. With all the fun and games of fouled rudders and no bearings on upside-down charts, I missed this post the other day.
Let me face one fact, right up front: My problem right now is as simple as this: Depression. Yup, I’m feeling more than a touch depressed right now, between Dawg, finances, and lack of relief by kayak/camaraderie of friends, I hit my slump. What really tipped the scales was seeing my tax documents for the year,,,,, No need to share that figure, but it was quite a bit lower than I expected, to the tune of ten grand lower.
Soooooo,,,,,, I read Sarahs “Be the unicorn” and sat back and thought about things a bit. She’s right!!! In my mind, (and it’s something I work hard against) I am so flipping average as to be flat boring. Its a self image thing, one reinforced over decades by some that would have me be ‘just that!”. High school counselors, some of my teachers, a few acquaintances that I thought were friends, all fed the self-image that I am not worth the mould that God made for me.
*cough* Look out on your porch at those kayaks YOU built, Dio. Look on that book shefl where the books YOU wrote are sitting, Look at the ‘me wall'(I can’t, its in boxes still) with pictures and backstage passes from all the years touring with ‘rockstars’. Look at the White House Communications Citations from 2004,,,,,,,,,,
No, I am not average, no matter what my self-image is. I may not be that wildly successful person that my Da wants of me, but, DAMMIT, I’ve done shit,,,, DO SHIT, that ‘average’ people only dream of. (and thats part of why I don’t want a J.O.B. I have enough skills and talents that I should be able to make my own way without the ‘one good day job’.). And with the writing thing, I may be way behind on ‘paying my dues’, I am quite aware of that, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to make it pay SOMETHING, in the meantime. I am no Terry Pratchett, nor Heinlein, but I can spin a tale, and get people to forget about things around them for just a few minutes. Thats not ‘nothing‘.
Still, I need to get my bearings. Things are changing in the world, in my world, and seriously, after seeing that W2 for 2021,,,,, No, that shit can’t stand. I did ‘alright’ seeing how I am not buried in debt, but that level of income does not bode well for moving forward either. As I stated above, the J.O.B. has been keeping the bilge dry, but sure isn’t powering the radar or GPS or the radio in the Goodship Dio’s Workshop.
NO, This is NOT a bleg for donations. If you feel the need to support me in anyway, buy some of my books and give them out. I would much rather that than someone sending me ‘sympathy monies’. (Sarah had a special case and as many donators said, they were just returning the favor of good work provided non-gratis, previously. I know I am not in that boat, yet. )
I’ll be working on that ‘getting my bearings’ for a bit-while yet; I don’t jump just because it looks good; I like a certain amount of insurance/assurance as well. (and no, OhioGuy, the lottery ticket DIDN’T Pan out, or this depression would be kicked like a bad habit.). I’ll keep posting, just wanted y’all to know that I ‘feel better’ now. Knowing is half the battle, Right GIJoe?
“Your aren’t getting it” he pleads to me, looking stern and plaintive at the same time.
“I hear you but it isn’t making any sense. You’re saying that I am now a dead man, but I feel quite alive.”
“Oh, you’re dead alright, just by being here and talking to me, your fate was sealed, and that of your family. By the time this interview is over, your immediate family will have been killed with a substitute body for you, and there will be a pre-written investigation given to the news outlets. Your life is already written off the books of history.”
“Seriously? You are NOT that important in the world.”
He sighs and mumbles ‘he still isn’t hearing me.’ and some other less printable words. “Look, they granted this interview so that I can pass on what I know. I know my time is short, and they, like most despots in history, want someone kept close to keep the secrets, know where the bodies are buried, and to have someone to confide in, in utter confidence that the confession never sees the light of the public eye.” He grabs a glass from the table between us and pours some amber colored liquid tnto it. He does not offer me anything. He continues,” you are going to be my replacement and you had better listen close. There are things I don’t remember, and why I know my time is short, but the Gist: engraved in my soul. When you finally hear it and understand it, it will be burned into your soul as well. And you will NEVER be allowed to leave this sanctuary they made for us.”
“Why me, of all the reporters in the world, why did they choose me? I’m a nobody in the great wide world.”
“because you are that nobody. Makes killing you that much easier and no one will question the story. You fade into history as a footnote at best, all the while you will live out your days here, knowing that thing that they don’t wish loosed upon the world. You are the Cobalt rod in the reactor to keep things operating smoothly, and you are the confidant they need. Or I should say you will be, If you pass the tests. If not, they bury you in the grave they already planted a corpse in, and no one is the wiser, and I keep giving interviews until they find what they want.”
This is the part that confuses me. I have no idea how I was given this interview: my editor called me in and said I needed to come here and interview the ‘most important man in the world’ but I was given no name. Even my edttor was ‘off’ and it seemed like he was saying things and not knowing where they were coming from. It appeared he was trying to see his own lips while the words were coming out, like he didn’t know his mouth had a mind of its own. Now, here I am, and I don’t even know where here is, I don’t recall driving here: I was in the editors office, then I was here, and I have no idea if there was travel time, or if I just ‘materialized” here.
I don’t like gaps in details like that. I’m a reporter, not a fiction writer, but the last hour or so feels so broken and scattered that I feel like I’m in a story.
As for this “most important man in the world”, he mostly looks like a drunk that has seen too many bottles of Maddog pass by. He’s in fine physical shape; no old age paunch, good tone to the muscles exposed by his shirt, but that face,,, Its the face of someone that has seen way too much with no relief of that view. His face alone makes me curious as to what he knows that is so important that some group would be willing to do what he says they have done. Maybe I am the dead man walking now: I doubt it, but with the last hour or so, there is a crack in my doubt. I have to play the bluff through or I feel I will never leave here at all.
“How many interviews have you given already” I ask, hoping to change the subject. His resolve that I am a deadman is giving me a small anxiety.
“You are number six. They have started increasing the interviews so I know I haven’t much longer. You are being tested right now, to see if you are compatible with our hosts: You probably feel a bit anxious right now, don’t you?: he asks, not waiting for me to answer,”Thats the probes they use on us: they tingle our gabons and it translate to the physical as anxiousness, or worse, nausea.”
“If I feel nauseous, thats bad: is that what you are saying?”
“You aren’t are you?” He asks with concern
“No, but I am feeling anxious. Anxious to end this interview, and get back to work. I was told you are the ‘most important man in the world” but other than the grounds here, I see nothing to back up that statement. I don’t recognize your face, I have never heard your name in common conversation, other than as a by-line like “John or Jane Doe”. Mr Smith, You don’t stirke me as very much of a person that would bear that titile of importance.” I have to hit the facts as bald faced as I can. I have a feeling that anything less will get me nowhere with this personage before me.
He observes me for several moments, sipping that strange liquid. It doesn’t look like any alcohol I have ever seen, the open bottle it came from is not giving any trace of smell that I can detect, and it looks almost viscous in nature, almost the thickness of but not quite the same color as Olive oil. He sips again, then returns the glass to the table. “You are absolutely correct that I am no one you have ever seen or heard of. My name isn’t important as far as the world is concerned since by record I have been dead since 1958. My family was ‘erased’ when I came here, and our hosts started telling me things. I almost feel like the reason they started talking was out of guilt. Like they feel lessened by the things they do to our world.”
“Hosts? What hosts? “
“ I guess you passed at least one of their tests, so maybe I need to backup and tell you a few things that will make the rest a little easier to swallow. First part, I was in Roswell New Mexico when the first crash was brought in. We saved one of the occupants, and then found out that we had intercepted something way bigger than just extraterrestrial life. WAY BIGGER!”
I start jotting notes as he starts opening up. Dead in 58, have to dig into that one. Roswell NM, everyone knows something went down there and may still be going on in the area, but its mostly crazed nut-jobs and UFO hunters these days. No one takes it seriously. And it maybe that I am dealing with one now, but I still have questions about “How” I came to be here,,,
He carries on while I scrabble out my chicken-scratch notes,”We thought we had an alien, but they are no more alien to this world than we are, maybe less so. The ones we shot out of the sky are the keepers, and work for our hosts. I have never physically met our hosts, and. have reasons to believe its physically impossible. I’ll get back to that after I explain some other things. That we were able to shoot one down caught the keepers flat-footed and they. were chastised by the hosts for it. It showed they were losing control of their charges.”
“You say hosts, and keepers. can you explain what you mean there?”
“First thing you need to understand, The Earth is not the rock we think of it as. This rock circling the sun is special, has been modified by the hosts to accommodate their designs. We are exclusive in the universe on that note. Our scientists keep looking for analogs of our rock, and while they find them, they find zero intelligent life of any meaning. WE were designed to live here, and no other, and that is why our hosts keep mucking up our efforts to travel beyond our world. They let us look, but they will never allow us to roam.”
“Huh? Wait a sec! You lost me just now. You are saying what, that we are not alone? That there really is intelligence outside of our solar system?”
“Yes. And if you think we are intelligent, you are in for one hell of a surprise. Our hosts are way more intelligent, and far more advanced in so many ways that we look like amoeba in comparison. The Hosts are from between the galaxies, where the dark matter is. I have to believe they are actually made of darkmatter and dark energy, not really physical at all. Even our watchers, keepers, tenders, whatever you want to call them, are not much more intelligent than we are, though they operate at a higher function level than we do, so appear more intelligent.”
“What do you mean higher function level?”
“In a word; Simple. In truth, strange to us. They don’t occupy one body, they operate across several bodies and can even swap bodies as needed if one is lacking a certain skill or knowledge. You’ll be meeting one or two yet, but it will take you awhile to realize that you are only dealing with one or two, not the dozens of bodies you will encounter. Maybe the term bodies is incorrect, more like a terminal or interface. You might even say the body is nothing more than a tool that the sentient being uses to accomplish a goal. “
“So a Hive mind type of thing?” I ask, but my thinking is closer to ‘this is one of those crazy UFO people;
“I asked the same thing and would have been laughed at, if they had a sense of humor. Maybe they do, but its not one I would recognize as such. No, the response to that question was more that of educating a slow learning child. They explained hive mind is many minds and bodies all interconnected, where they are.individual minds spread out over many bodies. And they do have different personalities: some are very helpful, others are strictly ‘do the job, don’t ask questions’ types.
“You said that the Hosts keep us here, yet we have been to the moon, right? I have to assume that this is real, and that we did actually step foot on the moon.”
“Oh, yes, we did reach the moon, we did send out several probes around the solar system and beyond, but that is as much as they are ever going to allow us to do. They cull our better minds that could develop the means to escape this prison we have been made for,,,”
“wait as sec, you just said “Escape this prison WE WERE MADE FOR. Expand on that please, Seems like you left out a lot of information about something.”
“I said I was going to get back around to that, I guess now is as good as later. WE, the Homo Sapiens of this planet, and I don’t give a rats ass what you breed is, and please don’t say ‘race’; it belittles us. No, we, as a species have been created, fostered and groomed, the same way a botanist will groom a special plant or flower. We are livestock to the host, and the keepers are our guides, culling a bad line here, or nurturing a specific trait there.”
“If what you are saying is true, what the heck are they trying to nurture? It seems like the world has been one of strife and turmoil for ages, and we never seem to learn anything new other than technology. And that tends to just make the strife and turmoil even worse.”
He takes another sip from his glass, looks at me with sadness. “You missed the key question there and shot right on by to your assumptions. What are they TRYING to nurture? Obviously its not food, or we would have an entirely different world established for us; more like a cattle pen, than a nursery. What they are nurturing is our souls. And no, I don’t understand what the end goal is. Maybe this is like Childhoods End by Clarke, they are trying to evolve us to a higher state of being. Maybe its more like what we do with apples, splice in crab apples to make the sweeter apples better, more robust. I don’t know. What I do know, or at least so I am told, is that our souls keep getting recycled back onto this planet for their purposes, Our souls are the key purpose of our living on this rock, isolated from teh rest of the galaxies and all the beings that are a part of that. We are extremely isolated and protected, and I can’t say that the protection is ‘for us’ or ‘from us’. I’ve also been told, and if you are selected as my replacement you will as well; that they aren’t satisfied with what they are seeing yet. That may turn out to be a bad thing, like it was for the Sauro-sapiens.”
“The Dinosaurs. Some of them were quite intelligent and part of the very same nursery we are on, but that experiment failed and they were wiped out to make way for us.” He grows rather quiet, and I hit a wall of what to ask after that last wild statement. My earlier feeling of ‘some crazy person’ just pegged the meter in my mind.
He sits for several minutes with his eyes closed; I am only certain he is not asleep or dead by his breathing patterns. My mind awhirl trying to figure out what question to ask next, or make a break for the tree-line in the distance and hope I can figure out where in the hell on the planet I am. That ‘suddenly being here’ thing is still troubling me.
“Lex says that you are still in doubt. I can understand that. Finding out that everything you were ever taught is complete bullshit takes quite awhile to get over. I think I finally accepted it in the late seventies, when the American Government started reversing course on a perfectly good Space program. I saw the hands of the hosts at work there. All the reasons they gave were shallow and empty, but the real story was we were being told to stop trying to climb out of the crib. Again, I don’t know if the protection is for or from us. I suspect its from us: like you said, we are a troublesome lot that never learns a damned thing.
“Who is Lex? I ask, looking around for that moment to break and run. My anxiety levels are peaking.
He waves a hand in a direction and I look there. What I see makes my eyes bug. I have seen pictures of them, but never ever thought they were real, This one is very real, standing roughly 8 feet tall, appears slender to the point of structural failure, but the one thing that catches my eye first is the color of the skin. Not quite pink, definitely not the grey scale my mind had attributed to them, more a mauve tint. The eyes, large, dark and seemingly bottomless, no pupil to be seen, cat-eye in slant. The creature nods to me, and I hear in my head, “Running is not an option, you are not on planet earth, what you see is all there is to this place.”
“Yeah, I maybe should have told you that. We are supposedly in the Alpha Centuri cluster on a modified asteroid. Even if you ran, you would be right back here in 2 minutes: its a small rock.”
My heart starts racing, this entire day has NOT happened, this is just a dream, and I likely drank way too much everclear at that party. Couple that with Ghost pepper dipping sauce and Habenero hot wings,,,
“Alex, you need to relax, or you are going to fail your last test.” Mr Smith of the crazy UFOians tells me. The creature named Lex (not its real name, but our minds don’t extend to those syllables or thought frequencies) nods in agreement: a very human gesture it had to pick up from Mr Smith.
Gasping, my anxiety reaching threshold, “And what is that last test?”
“If you can drink this,” he says as he hands me a glass of that amber liquid that looks more like vegetable oil now that I can see it better.”You’ll see into my mind and won’t doubt anymore. You’ll feel all the memories I have intact still, as if they were your own. If you survive that, You take my place and I ‘go away’.”
Such ominous words that sound so innocent, “Go away?”
“My soul is ready to break free, and I am being held here until I am replaced. I’ll just ‘go away’ and you will be here with Lex.
No other options, I reach out for the glass and drink,,,,
It’s pretty obvious to everybody these days that the story writer of our times is either suffering from multiple personality disorder or rapidly deteriorating into dementia with bi-polar disorder to boot. Or, as in my Dads take: Has a really twisted sense of humor,,,
Try to work up a tagline to describe the world at large currently and you end up with a garbled mess that would drive any potential reader away like holy water on a vampire.
These are the things I am learning about writing, and I use current events to practice my development. Yeah, I don’t choose easy subjects,,,
But that exercise has exposed so many issues with the current book in my quiver. Yup, its a first and I did hit publish, but successful? Um, not so much. It hits good with a handful of people, but the tech side of things is what drives most away. As a former girlfriend would have told me, “where’s the skin?’”. She was very much a Sex sells and more sex sells more, kind of advertiser.(lots of fun, but she wasn’t so much a candle burning at both ends as a section of lit cannon fuse.). I have been trying to write a better tagline for Wings and flopping. And why? Because there is no resolution within the book. Its a series of scenes, an occasional conflict, but no real climax, or wrap-up. You live and learn, but the only way to truly learn is too fail, pick your butt back up and keep going. And that is where I am right now. Looking at a decent story weakly done and how to pick it back up and make it WORK. I will leave it live for the time being, but once I have things re-worked,,, And that rework is essential if I want to carry the story forward to a sequel. I have half of it written, but keep hitting issues with how the first book played out. I forget where I read it, but another pantser type writer says that he has to write an entire series in order to smooth out the details in all of it, before he hits the publish button, and the way Wings started, I can understand what he means. A new development in book two would work better written into book one, but causes turmoil in book three that doesn’t see resolution until book four,,,,, And the only way to make them work is to write it all out. And that is why I am trying to work on formatting the story first, so that I can avoid the tediousness of rewrite after rewrite after rewrite. Or maybe I should be like M.Lackey, develop the world, and write books as scenes within that world,,,(thats a very loose way of describing her work, but,,,)
I’m serious about wanting to write, Heck, I have been writing for a decade now, but not as a way of making it in the world, more as a therapy for the pressures building up from a world gone mad. But the ideas in my head,,, They don’t rest; they swirl, mingle and breed,,, And they talk, A LOT. Trust me on this when I say, even sitting alone in a field, I am NOT ALONE IN THE WORLD. There are lives and stories constantly playing behind the shutters of my eyelids. Wings was the one that was most persistent and wouldn’t rest. Dunno how many nights I spent writing where I would look up and the alarm was buzzing and I had to get ready for work, no sleep. A lot of that needed scraped up, cleaned up, and rewritten to fit, but there were nights where 50000 words flowed like water. I also need to work on action; I have lots of conversations, but little action. People want things to happen, not be talked to death.
And maybe I just need to get a kayak out for a day of leisurely paddling. Not boogie water, just silence and wildlife and no distractions of phone and internet. Then get back to work on the stories that linger in electron purgatory on my hard-drive.
Time to go to work, more laters
Just sometimes I get to reading someone else’s point of view, and my mind goes Zoomms-zowieeees over the horizon with the muse.
Creativity is IT. I create on a daily basis. I have to, or I start going stir crazy. It may only be making a small jig to make my life easier at the welding table. It may be making a Kayak on my front porch in the dead of winter. I may be sketching out an idea for a tattoo, or that next jig I need to make my next whatchamacallit. I even made jigs for making my kayaks so that all those little holes that needed drilled could be done uniformly and I not destroy a rather pricey piece of wood.
Like Sarah, much of my creativity is sourced from a scarcity background. We didn’t have much, but when it came down to it, we had EVERYTHING we needed and the rest was stuff we ‘created’ to fill the voids. If we wanted something, the options were to work our tails off to earn the money to buy it, or work out tails off creating it. Most of the furniture in our house was stuff that my dad made in the shed out back, using cast off lumber from where he worked. Everything laminated up to make larger wider boards for table tops, or thicker legs to support he gargantuan “built to withstand a truck accident” furniture he preferred making. Some of it was really fantastic as well, like his end tables made from the trunks of Cedar trees. Split a trunk in half and it may become a bench seat, or crosscut the trunk for a ‘rounder’ shape with wild edges and mount that to a thinner trunk, inverted to use the branches as legs, for the base.
I learned how to cast metals to make things in need of longevity or higher wear functions. I learned to work metals so that I could utilize those skills of casting even further. I picked up a touch of blacksmithing so that I could shape metal without need of the machines to turn or cut it, and that led me to learning more about welding, and improved my Arc type welding even more. Before I started mixing sound full time, I worked as (many things,,,) a mechanic, and one of the guys I worked with and myself would critique each others welds. That improved my welds even more.
I’ve even made jewelry (SHOCK!!!!) but I tend to be more pragmatic in my creativity and prefer utilitarian stuff. (I may wear a wedding band, when/if I marry, but thats about it. No ‘glitz’ in my world, not even a watch.)
And that leads me to my writing. One of the commenters over there mentions how he found out that writing is WORK, and that his notion that his first book would have him sleeping on a bed of gold was shattered quite quickly.
As for the work thing? Oh yes, its work. Skull work. Marketing work, research work. You name it, there is WORK to be had in this field. And just like the entertainment field, there are 300000 writers to every 100 Best sellers. In live music, I have seen some truly incredible talents, but they missed one key element. WORK. They didn’t push the envelope of the work things and while they could play circles around other well known artists, they didn’t have the drive to push there.
Now, I am not saying I am exceptional, Hell, my current history says that I am of that same caliber; talented, but no drive. And it may be that this is the case. I didn’t write Wings for the money (though I won’t deny that money was a factor.). I wrote wings because something said, If I didn’t it would eat at my very soul until my mind folded like a wet noodle. And since I went so far as to actually write the danged thing, why NOT publish it too.
The fact that I had no clue what I was getting into is obvious to anyone that sees the end result. The fact that I had no clue about marketing or advertising, or promotion of written word (I can ‘produce’ entertainment and do all the marketing and advertising for live shows and HAVE, but books are a whole new world to me.)
Yeah, that stuff is obviously missing from that book. And I may end up re-editing it later for better layout, and when I do, promotions and marketing will be better laid out as well. And of course, the sequel is still stewing: half in my head, and half on my external hard drive. (Patience Bruce, it’s coming. And your persistence gets you dibs as a proofreader!! Mwahahaha!!!!). And I am no where near done writing. Wings opened up a pandoras box of creativity that had been stifled by time and misperceptions. Mostly my own, but some.external (Friggin high school counselors need filleted, baked and served to pigs, in my opinion.) My learning curve is still on the low left side of the bell curve, climbing towards center, and I have no illusions that I need mentorship. I am also quite aware that current situations in my life have a priority, and what I can squeeze in will have to suffice. I read,,,, Oh lord how much I read. If one of my vicarious mentors suggest a book about writing books, I make the purchase and dive in. If someone suggests a different program to assist the writer, (Vellum is one, Scrivener another, etc etc). I check ‘em out and start another aspect of the learning process. Scrivener was the program that helped me finalize Wings to the point where I felt comfortable hitting that publish button. And it works even better in the Mac.
What hangs me up is that marketing thing. I DESPISE crowds (funny coming from a guy that used to mix live music for Tens of thousands.)(note that FOH “front of house’ is usually smack dab in the middle of the room and has a whole lot of floor space and only a a couple of peeps in it. AND, I was usually the monitor guy, behind the curtains, on stage left usually, full view of the band but not of the crowds.).And this is where I really need the mentoring (and no, I am not going through the get rich quick scammers that promise you’ll be a best selling author in 90 days if you pay them $XXX and subscribe to their program. Maybe they do handle a ton of promotion for you, but the whole thing stinks to high heaven as scam to me. )
So, I learn the ropes the hard way, and maybe thats for the best. Rougher on the knuckles, but then, I have a couple of Degrees from the School of Hard Knocks and University of Bloody Knuckles.
And I continue to create, every day, SOMETHING, and it matters not what. A paragraph for a book here, a jig for making a rudder assembly there, or a blog post three times a day (if I can). There will be something created by my hands and mind and the day they cease to happen, its a good bet my heart has ceased as well.
January in Philly, the city of Brotherly Love.
At least the fires are plentiful to keep a guy warm.
I haven’t seen a police officer in a week, and he seemed to be on extra duty providing security for some out of towners. Not one cruiser is running in the city, and I heard that just after Biden swore in, more than half of the force had a sudden case of Blue Flu and haven’t been back since.
Thats good for me, it makes my job easier.
I have a list from the court procedings back in December, Names, addresses, at least most of them. I had to get some of those through cloak and dagger means through the DMV and other places. That cost a pretty penny and I hope the young lady that helped me out is better at covering her tracks than she is at digging for dirt. She’s plenty good at the last, and I would like for her to be around later when and if I get this list taken care of.
Passing through an indoor mall to get warm, most of the shops are boarded up, and the destruction is obvious; I pass by a small bar with a TV going. Local affilitate of one of the MSM’s. Seems that some one in Atlanta has assasinated one of the Election Officials there. My face is a mask of anger, but my heart is near bursting in glee: I am not alone.
But I am alone, and thats the way these things need handled. No back trail to follow. No command structure to target. I have no family, at least not any that have associated with me in years, so nothing they could hold over my head if things get really crazy.
And I am a man with nothing left to lose. They stole my business in 2020 by shutting everything down over a cold virus that wasn’t. They raped my accounts for taxes owed, on a business that was in the red before the virus. And the Girlfriend didn’t want anything to do with a guy that was asking for help paying the electric bill.
Then they stole my country.
Trump fought like hell. Everything he found was dead on legit, but the court system was bought and paid for before even one vote was cast this year. THEY KNEW they couldn’t lose.
But they lost bigger than anything by being so certain that guys like me would just roll over. Seventy one MILLION people voted for Trump according to original figures before the Glitches “corrected” things. If only three percent are of like mind to me, that is two million very pissed off people willing to burn a bridge or two. Thats a lot of little fires to find and put out before the inferno starts.
I have my list. I know others have a list too. Lone wolves hunting prey. And the prey isn’t even aware of it. Yet.
One down in Atlanta. I want two tonight before I find somewhere to hole up and plan my next moves. I would say by the end of the week, most all the election officials arrested and released are going to be attending their own funerals or hysterically seeking some sort of protection, body guards or taking a permanent vacation to Europe.
And thats just one angle. The Media talking heads are on lists too. I don’t know who put the post up, but the idea was so enticing to someone wanting a little blood after the “piss down my back and tell me it’s raining” election scam we just witnessed. “make a list of targets, Election officials, Media heads, politicians, anyone that was obviously deep in the shit. Then hunt them down and kill them, alone so there is no way it can come back on you. THEN SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!” The post lasted 15 minutes on Facebook before the original was deleted, but it had been copied and pasted a few hundred times before they deleted it. Then kept popping up like the clap amongst various groups. They tried like hell to cap it, but it kept flaring up, again and again.
As for the Media, totally legit targets. Mike V, may he rest in peace, called it “Clintons Rules of Engagement” after Slick Willy authorized broadcast facilities as targets of oppurtunity in Bosnia back in the nineties. That arrogance those asshats displayed isn’t going to seem so indestructable after some of the larger ones get whacked. When I saw how they flagrantly declared the election before any TRUE constitutional aspects had been achieved, I knew this country had been sold out.
Y’know, for such a shitty start to the year, this one may be the best yet. After the first one, the rest are free. Henry Bowman was right.
Falling out“T, this isn’t good man.” Rob whispers, while watching the group of ‘bangers’ climbing out of the back of a truck.
“Yeah, I kinda figured that one out already.” The sound of gunfire in the distance is unmistakable. Machine guns and other tools of war in use in a Mexican border town not very far away from this clandestine meeting T had set up through a dealer in El Paso. The group standing before T is a mixed bag of trouble, most dressed in jeans and fatigue jackets, some wearing sneakers, others, combat styled boots, but all carrying Kalashnikov’s or M-4 variants. The shortest and ugliest of them carries only a pistol on his hip. The badge of military leadership in most Central American countries.
“You Ted, Gringo?” asks the pistol carrying member of the group facing them.
“Yeah, I’m Ted. What’s up with all the back-up?”
“Don’t know you Gringo, but the Bruja say you malvado.”
“The Bruja? The American girl?” ‘Someone has been speaking out of turn, trying to cover her bases.’ He thinks to himself
“Si!, Loca puta thinks she own us. Say you wanna own us. We gonna own you.”
“You got it wrong. I don’t want to own anyone. I just want your Jefe to know that he is getting played.”
“Played? Who playing? We kill. They kill. No one playing.”
“And you guys are killing each other because the Bruja has been lying to Jefe Cortez. She is telling Jefe Jorge what you guys are going to do, and they come out to kill you. She is trying to get you guys to do to each other what she wants to do to the both of you, so she doesn’t have to get her hands dirty.”
“Why you say this? Whachoo want from us if you no wanna own us?”
“Nothing you don’t want. I have No Familia, just me and my brother here. Bruja wants us to do a job we don’t want to do. If you guys did to her, what she has been doing to you,,, That is all I would want.”
“That be why Bruja say you malvado. You want her dead, don’choo? And she know it.”
“Dead would work. Ruined just as good.”
“Ruined? No se la palabra.”
“Estropeado o arruinada” says Rob. “Habla espanol, a poco,” he follows up, knowing full well his grammar is off.
“Gringo loco peinsa que puede hablar! Que Raro!” the banger yells back to his gang. All of them laugh. Its not a friendly laugh. Rob understands enough to blush in embarrassment. “Muerta o arruinada,” he says, rolling the double r heavily. “Mi Jefe don’t like her. I don’t like her. She brings us nice guns, but wants more. I talk to Jefe. You say she tells Jefe Jorge what we do?”
“Muy mal. That get mi amigos dead. Go back, I talk to Jefe, I call you, Si?” he says, waving his men back onto the truck.
“I’ll wait to hear from you.” T says, then walks backwards to the car Rob drove here. Rob backs to the car as well, knowing that to turn may get both of them shot. Once back in the car, Rob backs out of the lot slowly, never taking his eyes off the truck of bangers. Back on the road, he heads for the border and back into El Paso. Crossing the border this late, they are ordered out of the car so a drug-dog can check it out. Not carrying anything, and having US ID’s, they are allowed through.
As they approach the hotel, T’s phone rings. The number is unlisted.
“Ted, just what the fuck were you doing in Juarez? “ Shouts Andrea Spencer.
“Not that it’s really any concern of yours, but I am getting intel that you won’t provide.” He says calmly, adjusting the truth to suit his need. He did get Intel in one sense, now knowing she had planted seeds in hopes of getting him killed if he approached the Cartels.
“You’re going to get dead if you go over there again. You don’t do me any good dead. And where the hell is Jim at? He isn’t with you, I know.” ‘She slipped, she doesn’t know everything. Her webs are breaking up’ T thinks to himself.
“G is still in Tucson. Again, not that it’s any concern of yours, but he is putting the polish on the new plane and flying system.” He figures she is likely aware of the new plane: he isn’t certain how, but she has means and has proven that despite her webs showing breaks. Even now, she has information flowing in or she wouldn’t have known they had just crossed the border. Playing that he is working for her is essential to his plan at this point.
“Is that what you guys are going to use, the new plane, not the warthog?”
“That depends on what I find out over the next couple of days.” He says, making a bid for a some lee-way in her harassment. “It may be a couple of sorties, or we could make it a royal flush, depending on what I find out. Give me some slack woman, and let me do what I need to.”
“I don’t trust you right now Ted. My guts are telling me you are up to no good. Stay out of Juarez and I will give you intel.”
“I don’t need to go back. I set up some cameras to get what I need,” he lies, “and I will be flying a set of eyes in the meantime. I don’t trust you either. Send me what you have and I will see if it meshes with what my cameras are seeing. “ Rob is listening in and shaking his head. T looks at him with a raised eyebrow, asking ‘what?’, non-verbally. Rob taps his wrist twice, then twice again ‘More time!’ Nodding, he says “G will probably be headed this way at the end of the week, as long as he doesn’t have any more problems. Just in case, give us two weeks and send me good intel, and I will let you know what our plans are. “ Rob nods his approval.
She hesitates in her answer, “You’re pushing the envelope, but I will give you two weeks. I’ll send over some maps and paperwork on what I know. Just stay the fuck out of Juarez or I will have you killed.” And she cuts the call without waiting for a response.
“La Bruja Speaks!” says Rob. “I heard that threat at the end and wasn’t trying.” “See what I meant when I said I would have no problems pulling the trigger on that bitch?”
“I can see why you and G are tossing a coin over it. If I had more dealings with her, we would have to arm wrestle over it.”
Laughing “I would so lose that contest. Ya gotta make it fair, ‘cause you are going to be dealing with her obliquely over the next two weeks. That is, if the Cartels don’t get to her first.”
“I would love to be a fly on the wall at Jefe Cortez’s place right now. “Rob says, as he pulls the car into a space near their hotel room.
“I wouldn’t. Chances are Cortez is going to start shooting things in anger. Hopefully his boys will get him calmed down and thinking before he goes completely ballistic.”
“Aw shit no! Him going off the hook would tip our hand to her and we don’t know what cards she is holding yet.” Rob says, then adds. “And she has a lot more resources than we do; she’s been here longer to get set up with better eyes and ears than we have.”
“As long as Cortez keeps his cool, we’ll be okay. She may not trust me right now, but she really doesn’t have any reason to think I just jumped the shark on her.” A pause. “And right now, she thinks she set up an insurance policy against me, by feeding that bullshit to Cortez.”
“True. Calling us malvado gave those dogs over there a reason to listen, not a reason to shoot us on sight, like she had planned. She must be against the wall, because she isn’t thinking clearly; that’s what I see.”
“Oh, she is against the wall. That wall went up when California seceded. The clock is ticking now and she is hearing it, like something out of an Edgar Allen Poe story.”
“Then my suggestion to buy more time was the right course. The longer this takes, the more desperate she gets, and desperate people do stupid shit!”
“It was and she will do something stupid. I only hope that she keeps it local and leaves our people in Tucson alone. I wouldn’t put it past her to take hostages.”
“If! And I mean this, IF she does, We won’t be arm wrestling over it; I will personally kill the bitch, and I will use my dullest knife to do so.”
“If it comes to that, I won’t argue against you in any way, and will help you get to her so you can. “ Opening the door of the car to get out, he says “Lets order pizza and see if the Witch proves good on her word about Intel. She may have something in her stuff I missed that’ll help us out.”
“Can do. Dominos or something local?” “Ask at the desk and see if they have a preference; I don’t. I’ll wait at the room and see if she or one of her boys shows up. “
Three days later,,,
“Yeah, it’s Ted. This Guiterez?”
“Si. Jefe wanna talk. Says you on to something.” “No. If he thinks I am onto something, let him fix it. I don’t want anything. If he talks to Jorge, the two of them can straighten out whatever the Bruja has messed up.”
“No talk to Jorge. To angry. YOU talk to Jorge. You go between and make it right. That what Jefe say.”
“If I have to do all the work, I may as well take her job. No one wants that.”
Silence on the other end for a second, “We see. You no take job. I talk to Alvarez, maybe Jorge listen to him.”
Not knowing that Alvarez is Jefe Jorge’s main man, like Guiterez is Cortez’s main man, T just grunts an approval.
“This finished soon Gringo? One way or other way. Si?”
“Yeah, it will be finished soon. One way or another.”
Pot, meet fire.At four thousand feet, patterns emerge which aren’t clear from the ground. What looks like a patch of field a farmer is working, at four thousand feet looks perfectly circular, not just a field. Modern irrigation techniques for growing anything in a desert make those circular fields. Loaded with 6 dummy missiles, the ones with cornstarch filled heads, but two thousand very real 7.62 rounds for the machine guns, G is flying for shooting practice. Denny had set up a target range in the river valley the week prior by dragging a couple old cars out of the sand of the river bed. There isn’t much water in the bed this time of the year, but enough that the cars aren’t in what amounts to concrete, like they will be in another month or two. Tammy is in the hangar with G running some experiment on his auxiliary feed camera. She is being very hush-hush about it even now and won’t tell him anything at all. To keep things to herself, she did the work to the camera while he was eating with Denny, Rob’s second in command and his wife, Marla. His trust in her complete, he just shrugged, said ‘okay’ and played along.
The first pass went well. Two missiles shot and one hit the car, not just skipped off the hood like the first one did. When they impact properly, the cloud of cornstarch is impressive, but what happens in the cloud is even more impressive. It had shocked him two days earlier when he had seen it, but Tammy showed him the math of things and settled his doubts. A fifteen pound missile moving at twelve hundred miles per hour packs a tremendous amount of kinetic energy. Even with the rocket motor depleted, the body and warhead weigh eight pounds, and while not having the same kinetic mass, the effects are still impressive. What had shocked G was seeing the car he had just shot, flipped completely over on the cloud of dust from the dummy warhead! It looked just like the effects of an explosion. Tammy assured him that even his dud rounds are completely lethal and destructive. Having seen that car flip only confirmed the statement.
Hard banking back towards the shop to get his second lineup, this time for a strafing run, the three Solid Black SUVs racing towards the compound grabbed his attention.
“Tammy! You still out here?” he asks, not wanting to take his VR hood off while ‘in the air’.
“Yuppers. What up?”
“Get Denny, and two others. Get ‘em armed up and to the front. We may have company coming. They’re about a minute out.” He says as he ‘cancels’ his second run and descends to three thousand feet and starts a pattern around the compound. Tammy switches her monitors to his view to see what he is seeing, “aw-shit” she mumbles and runs for the Ranch-house.’
Flying in a flat, tight bank around the compound, cameras focused on the SUVs and the compound. He ‘sees’ Tammy and Denny come out of the front of the Ranchhouse. Denny heads to the driveway, Tammy heads back to the hangar. He sees two other figures flank out from the back of the Ranchhouse in opposite directions, but from three thousand, not knowing who they are, he hasn’t enough detail to make an identification.
“Denny, Jess and Roberta are getting in position, G.” Tammy informs him.
“And I am in pattern right above and watching. You gotta be my ears out there Tammy. I can’t see enough to know if these guys are getting ready to do anything stupid.”
“I’m staying right here at the door. I’ll let you know if we need an airstrike or not.” She sounds amused and stressed at the same time. Stressed because of the sight of the three SUV’s pulling into the driveway, amused by using the term ‘airstrike’ in conversation.
The SUV’s pull into the drive and park, not in line like G was hoping, but panned around at odd angles. “Damn! They will not make this easy on me if I have to go hot.” A person gets out of the middle vehicle and approaches Denny. The outer two vehicles have two people each get out of them, with doors left open and the person behind the door. They focus all the vehicles on Denny, but at different ranges. The middle one closest. If G needs to attack, he can get any two vehicles in one pass, but not all three. The chance of one escaping is high, and might require the speed of his plane to make it right.
“Damn it! I really wish I could hear what’s being said.”
“I can hear some, but be quiet so I can hear it all.”
Being quiet, G continues his circling overhead. Easing out his flaps, and dropping the throttle ten percent, he ‘slows down’ and maintains a tighter circle over the compound. At three thousand feet, his engines can be heard, but most people ignore the sounds of jets overhead. The agents on the ground appear to be following that pattern, as none of them are looking up.
“G, this isn’t good. They are asking where I am at and want me to come out. They are telling Denny to put the gun down and walk away.” A pause. “What the hell do they want with me?”
“Tammy, I don’t know, but I am of a mind to put one round in that middle vehicle. Do they look like they are about to go hostile?”
“Hell, they looked hostile as soon as I saw that first one. They haven’t shown any ID or anything.”
“Get behind that door. Denny will hit the ground when he hears me coming in. That first car is done for.”
Bumping that throttle back up, not waiting for an acknowledgment of what he told her, G drops into focus; the focus of combat that veterans call ‘The Zone’. Pulling the flaps back in, lining up on that first SUV, when his view is a thousand yards out, he drops that first missile and strafes a hundred rounds into it. Less than a second later, the whole area is a cloud of dust, and he can see Denny down, but crawling fast. The ‘agent’ that Denny had been facing prior was down too, but not moving. “I hit him, or Denny did, but that dude is out of the count for now. “The closer of the other two SUVs shows doors slamming, and no agents in view. Sparkling light on the ground near it show that windows have shattered, probably thrown from the first vehicle. The SUV he just shot is now on its side with a gaping ragged hole behind the passenger front tire. The further SUV shows the two agents in firing stances, but the angle of that stance shows that they are engaging a target away from the Ranchhouse and away from Denny. One flanker is taking fire. “Too close to take them on this pass, be back in a second my friends.”
Without changing throttle, he climbs straight up then rolls and loops over at four thousand feet. His chosen target is directly below and in front of him. Letting two more missiles fly as his sights line up on the middle of the top of the SUV, he pulls out of his dive. The second SUV is backing out crazily, adding more to the dust in the air that is dispersing on the breeze.
The destruction of the SUV is obvious even to G in the hangar. The noise of both dummy missiles center-punching the vehicle is like hearing a car wreck.
“G, they’re down and hurt bad. Roberta is going out to them. What should I do?”
“Keep ‘em alive. I want answers, and right now I have a shit-ton of questions. I’m gonna chase down our runners first and see where they head to, before they leave my range. Then I gotta land this thing. Don’t worry about blocking the road. I can see what’s out there.” He can see which way the fleeing SUV is going; not towards Tucson as he first thought they would, but towards Cascabel. “These guys aren’t legit, if they were, they would head somewhere where they could get back-up and more troops; not Cascabel.“ Checking fuel levels to see how far he can pursue them, and wishing he were in a plane that wasn’t so damned fast, he climbs to eight thousand feet and eases back on the throttle. Before the SUV gets to Cascabel, it turns right onto a dirt track road; one that heads back to I-10. Right through his target range. The temptation to wait for them to get towards the middle of that range and removing them from the equation frustrates him. He suspects they are from Andrea and doing her bidding: he suspects that bidding being to kidnap Tammy as leverage against Tick-tock. Not knowing for certain, he reins in his killing mood. ‘ It would be months before anyone found them, if ever, after the coyotes got to them. So tempting to keep them from getting back to her on what just happened. Hell, they are probably trying to call her,,’
Choosing to let the bad guys go, he follows them until they are mid-point between Cascabel and I-10 then loops it back around towards the compound. Four miles out and he can see the column of smoke. “Tammy, if you are still in here, what’s burning?’
“Not Tammy, it’s Jess. That last Suburban you killed caught fire. Guess you busted its gas-tank, and the rockets lit it. Denny is trying to clear the other one out of the way, and the Fire-department is on its way. Tammy is with Roberta and our captives at the house. Denny wants to know if you can you get that thing down and in here in the next few minutes?”
“Shit, I hope so. Hell, I have to; not enough fuel to stay up much longer. If the fire department sees this bird and that burning truck, it won’t take a brain surgeon to figure it out.” Looking at the road as he is approaching the compound, he sees that it’s clear, but the windsocks show there is a quartering breeze across it. “I guess I get to see how I land with a cross-wind. Get the door open. I’ll bring her in here under power so we don’t need to tow her.”
“On it G.” A few seconds later he hears the doors rumbling on their tracks. “This is going to require some finesse.” He thinks aloud. He can see the two fire trucks heading out of Tanque Verde; roughly ten minutes out, as he approaches the upwind side of the landing strip. With the wind being a mid afternoon breeze, not a gusting wind, he has little issue during his landing, and makes it into the hangar with a lot of judicious use of throttle, rudder and brakes. Jess, without being prompted, has a set of chocks ready to get under the wheels to help stop the bird in case the radio lag interferes. As Jess rolls the doors closed, the sirens of the Firetrucks are clear and close. “How did you know about the chocks, Jess?”
“I guessed. Seemed like you may want to keep the bird from moving once you were inside. I am pretty certain you don’t have a parking brake on that beast.”
Laughing, in relief with the Eighteen being on the ground and himself out of the rig to see the damage he had inflicted, “Yeah, we never really thought about that side of things.” Getting his Segway rolling, he quickly shuts everything down and rolls outside. The Firetrucks pull in the drive as he bolts the hangar behind him and Jess. The first SUV is missing, and Denny is running a bucket-loader over the dirt where he had dragged it, scooping up dirt to pile around the burning truck; ‘trying to contain the fire’ and destroying the evidence at the same time. One of the fire trucks parks on top of the tracks left by the fleeing SUV, destroying that evidence. Jess whispers, “the two guys are in the house. The deader is behind the house. Roberta is saying this is her truck if anyone asks.”
“Thanks, They probably won’t ask me anything, but it’s good to have our stories straight.” G whispers back as they continue moving to the scene. One fireman stops them about fifty yards away, but G can see well enough that the top of the SUV has melted and the holes where his missiles went in, aren’t clear. It collapsed the frame of the truck at midpoint, making the whole vehicle look like a swayed back horse. Where the missiles hit the ground is directly underneath the truck and is not visible. G’s relief that the direct effects of his attack on this truck aren’t visible is palpable. Denny walks up to him and pats him on the back: it looks like normal affection between family, but in this case, is Kudo’s for a job well done. “When these guys leave, we’ll talk to our guests. I’ll get that other wreck taken out to the range later and burn it where no one will care. The guy I killed, we’ll bury out there too.”
“Tell me more later,“ G whispers “I want to know who sent these guys, but it can wait. I think I already know. “
The Fire chief mollified by Denny slipping him two gold coins inside the paperwork with the property insurance information, G is certain there will be no investigation why a fairly new Suburban SUV has a broken back and burned to its rims. There were some odd looks from the fire crew, but the truck had civilian plates, not government issued ones. With the firetrucks gone, G rolls around the backside of the house to look over the damaged truck and at the dead guy. The missile had hit just behind the front passenger wheel, and began its exit out between the front seats, destroying the transmission and driveline. The exit hole was a jagged rip running five feet, just missing the rear gas tank. “We need to look for the rest of the missile across the road later; No good leaving extra evidence lying around,” G says to Denny as they are looking everything over. The Dead Guy is under a tarp nearby, and G rolls over to him. Denny pulls back a corner and G’s heart skips a beat.
“You know him?”
“I wouldn’t say ‘know’, but we’ve met. That’s Agent Carlyle, I shot his Blackhawk out of the sky last year at Nogales. He’s one of the Lizard Queens people.”
“So, United States Federal agents? In The Peoples Republic of California? Refusing to show ID? Demanding to take into custody a crazy but lovable rocket scientist? Yup! Sounds like they were on completely legitimate business out here.” Denny quips.
“Lets get in and start asking the two inside what they know. I want a full picture before we send word to Rob and T about this. Andrea wanted leverage against T, but we just might give him some against her.”
“Ma’am, We’re headed back, the missions a bust. Two vehicles down, one person known dead and two possibly dead.”
“What the hell happened? You were up against some hippies to get one person. How’d that get fucked up?”
“Missiles fired from an F-18 flying overhead destroyed the two vehicles. No markings of any sort that we could see. It was in the air when we arrived and strafed us when Carlyle started getting heavy-handed with the guy they sent out to talk to us. That guy shot Carlyle, but the plane destroyed his truck. We started taking flanking fire from two small buildings then, and the plane came back and shot the vehicle that the agents were returning fire from. They were down but I don’t think they were dead. Morgan and myself got out of there to get word back to you. “
“Allowing that damned cripple to keep sucking air is getting expensive. If I didn’t need them, I would kill him.” She pauses, looking over some paperwork and maps on the desk. “Get back here. I’ll figure something else out.”
“Will do ma’am. One more point for you. I don’t think they were using real missiles. No explosions, just a lot of dust.”
“Son of a Bitch. Jim was out on a practice run when you guys showed up. Get back here.”
“On our way.” Click.
‘A dummy missile destroying a full-sized truck. Those things loaded with real HE will be devastating.’ She thinks to herself. ‘I really need these guys on my side and bribing them, nor twisting arms is working.’
“They showed up to take Tammy, G blew the hell out of two of their cars, and followed the third to see what way they headed out. The two agents we interrogated were fresh meat; didn’t really know anything.”
“What happened to them?”
“G says ‘they died of their wounds’, but ligature marks tells me he killed them. I ain’t gonna argue with him, we couldn’t keep them and they were rogue by the simple fact they were ‘out of country’,”
“Good deal. No need to worry about what G did, so long as the bodies disappear.”
“The coyotes near the river will fatten up for the next week. They’re gone.”
“Then forget you ever saw them.” Rob says, then asks, “T wants to know if the Wing will be ready to roll soon?”
“Soon. Tammy and I are going shopping for the new rig tomorrow. G is packing things up so they will fit in the smallest space possible.”
“Good. Try to find one that has a belly tank or can have a belly tank installed. T says he wants to carry at least five hundred gallons of fuel for the birds; more preferably. Has Tammy let anyone in on what she is making yet?” “Not yet, but I know it deals with lasers. She’s been wearing her tinted eyeglasses around the shop.”
“And with her, it may be a weapon, or God only knows what.” Laughing, “she’ll tell us all when it’s near perfect by her standards.”
Denny laughing agrees with him.
“We need to talk.” Andrea says into her phone.
“We talk, you listen. Si?”
“It doesn’t work like that and you know it. I tell you where, you decide what and how.”
“That Ayer, hoy ascuchas. You dirty, and you make us dirty.”
“What’s this? You think I’m dirty now? What about all the guns I’ve given you?”
“Tu costo es demasiado alto. My boys dying to fight your fight. If you no listen, I talk to Cortez, Encontraremos una paz entre nosotros. “
“Peace!? You won’t ever find peace making deals with Cortez.”
“Deals? No, La Paz. No want my boys dying. He no want his boys dying. You want both of us dying. You listen. We meet, you listen. Si?”
She pauses, wanting to scream and yell. Wanting to find T and rip his balls off by way of his sinuses, but holds her anger in check and replies, “Where? When?”
“AeroJuarez. Mannana antes de las diez.”
“No, too far into Ciudad Juarez. I don’t travel that far out of country, and you know it.”
“That where we meeting, you there, you listen. You not there, you die when we see you. “ And Jorge hangs up.
“Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit. That fucker Ted has been talking to them, I know it for a fact now.” She says out loud as she dials Cortez’ number.
“The number you have dialed is no longer in service” says the annoying recorded operator’s voice.
Sitting for several minutes, seething, trying to gather her thoughts, she decides it’s time to call T and see if they can work a truce. It’s obvious that he has undermined her position with the cartels, but she still has need of his services if she can make amends.
“Hello?” T asks as he answers.
“You’ve been busy, Ted.”
“I don’t sleep much these days,” he responds.
“And that is probably a good thing seeing how you are playing with people that will happily kill you while looking you in the eyes.”
“Ah, well, there is that too.”
“Where can we meet. I don’t want our conversation on airwaves.”
After a minutes pause while he looks at a map,“Washington and North Evergreen. There’s a ball field there. I’ll be in the visitor dugout an hour after sunset. It can only be you or I walk away and let you deal with the guys across the river.” T says, looking across the room at Rob. Rob nods, gives a thumbs up and returns to sharpening his knife.
“I’ll be there.” And she disconnects.
“I thought you were going to use your dullest knife?”
“I decided I want to give her a lot of holes and a dull knife might get hung up. “ The knife he is sharpening is a double edged dagger with an eleven inch blade that tapers to a wicked point like a toothpick. The handle and hilt of blackened brass with heavy knurling for a good grip even if soaked, tapers back to another point like a spike: not a fighting knife, an assassins knife. Rob has owned this knife since he was in Vietnam; it was given to him by an Australian friend just before they parted ways during the pull out in seventy-three. “Just remember what I told you,,,”
“If I see you out of the corner of my eye, look at her tits or something so I don’t give you away. Got it.”
“I’m almost seventy; I ain’t a spring chicken anymore and I want total surprise. I don’t want to think about having to fight it out”
“I’ll get her goat going so that she is angry and focused on me, but you gotta get in and kill her before she goes pulling iron on me.”
“She won’t have a chance to do that. I promise. But her sending goons to my home and trying to steal my sister,,, She will die, and I want it at my hands, not those Mexicans across the way.”
A quiet Wednesday night on the edge of the suburbs outside of Fort Bliss. The hum of the highway a few blocks west is the only real sound. With it being off season, the lights on the ball field are off, the visitors dug-out is bathed in shadow from the lights of the highway. T, sitting in the dug-out is all but invisible, light gray clothes to match the color of the block making up the dug-out. Nearby is an overflowing trashcan, garbage piled up, disguising Rob. It’s a perfect ambush site and is making T nervous. He can see all around him, but no one looking would be able to see him.
A small car travels around the road along the outfield, stops for a minute, then backs up and comes into the parking lot where Robs car is. Parking right next it, Andrea gets out; the interior light showing that she is alone. She looks into Robs car, verifying that no one is in hiding there, then approaches the dug-out. It’s obvious that she can’t see T yet, but she continues approaching, looking at the trash casually, without indicating any apprehension of it.
“I’m in here Andrea. Come on in out of the breeze and lets talk.”
As she walks into the dug-out, T makes sure to keep her between him and the trash. Rob made sure that what trash he is hiding under was stuff that wouldn’t make any obvious noise when he gets up.
“Ted, I should kill you right now for what you did to me. Both of the Cartels are meeting tomorrow for a peace meeting and I am supposed to be there, or they will kill me the next time they see me. You did that to me.”
“All I did was tell them truth Andrea. Nothing more. You’ve been playing them and now they know it. But you’ve been busy too. Sending Carlyle and some friends out to my families place. Wanting to steal my girlfriend away so that you could leverage me into doing your dirty work. Seems we are both a little dirty from this mess.”
“That was a mistake, I admit. I need insurance and you know it.”
“That kind of insurance is tricky to play with, and you know it. I don’t ever want to be so desperate that I have to resort to kidnapping and extortion to cover my ass.”
Another car comes into the area and both go silent while watching it. It’s just a local traveling home or to the store, and doesn’t slow down. The darkness covers them very well. T sees some trash moving in the corner of his eye and looks out on the ballfield.
“So you still need G and I for something or you wouldn’t want to patch this up? I’m just curious what you have in mind that you think you could still pull this together.”
“I only want you to take out Cortez. Leave Jorge alone. Cortez is more Indian than Spanish and his blood ties make him hard to work with. Jorge was born in L.A. and has almost as much American in him as I do. And he isn’t the hard ass that Cortez is. If I had thought it through months ago, that should have been what I had asked you for.” “I may have been more amiable to that then taking out both, but I am still not all that interested in helping you out. You still haven’t given me anything to work with. And you experienced that double edged sword of New Rules of Engagement recently so you know we are capable.” “I knew you were capable in Nogales after you took down Carlyle’s blackhawk. And now you have taken out Carlyle and another two of my people,” she says as her anger starts to rise. Catching sight of Rob, T quickly looks down at Andreas chest.
Mistaking his shift in view as something more intimate, she changes tactics. “Ted, we don’t have to go to war like this, we can work together.” She says in appeal for her anger. She gasps suddenly as the tip of Rob’s dagger protrudes out her chest, just above her left breast. Rob, slipping an arm under hers, proceeds on his “lots of holes” plan and rams the knife in her back in several places. Kidneys, spleen, liver, both lungs and heart are all pierced. A gurgling hissing noise is heard as Andreas body continues to try and draw breath, unable to do so with both of her lungs punctured multiple times. The smell from her sphincters relaxing is obvious. A trickle of blood escapes her mouth as Rob lowers her to the ground. Her eyes never leave T’s during the five seconds it takes Rob to kill her; eye’s that hold an unspoken question, never to be answered.
“T, snap out of it. Help me out here. “ Rob says roughly, as he rips her blouse open. “Get her wallet out of her purse. Take all the cash and credit cards and toss the rest in the dumpster.” He says trying to make the scene look like a robbery or attempted rape turned murder. T pulls a pair of vinyl gloves out of his pocket, finds her wallet, which is a mans wallet in the back pocket of her pants, and does as Rob told him. The taste of bile in his mouth as he fights nausea after watching his enemy die so silently.
“Take my car. Go back to the hotel, get a shower and get drunk. I’ll be back by morning.”
“What are you doing?”
“ Changing the plan and fudging the trail. Going to take her across the border and then come back. I’ll grab a cab or Uber. By the time she is located and her effects found, no one will have any clue what happened. Local PD will write it off as a robbery gone bad.” Rob uses some of the trash he had been hiding in to wrap up Andreas corpse and keep what little blood there is off of himself. Moving her to her car, T still in mild shock, he says. “T, this is the easy part. The hard part comes later when you see her in your dreams again. Come on brother, pull your shit together.”
“Something she said earlier just took on new meaning for me Rob. She said that ‘these people will gladly kill you while looking you in the eye.’ I just watched her life pass right out of her face while doing just that, looking her in the eye. Are the cartel people really so ruthless?”
“T, many of them are worse. We don’t need to go into it right now, though. I need you to get moving before our being here attracts attention. I need to get her over the border before rigamortis sets in and I can’t move her out of the car.”
“Why across the border? This place would work just as well, wouldn’t it?” T asks as he slowly pours out a bottle of hydrogen peroxide while Rob cleans his hands and knife.
“Yes and no. We know that she has talked to the cartel leaders by phone and I believe she has been threatened by them. If someone higher up decided to play those calls back, heard the threat and her body was found on that side, then the whole thing gets swept under the rug. No Federal Agent works across the border alone, because there is no chance of the government backing them up over there.”
“Get going, I’ll meet you back at the hotel in the morning if not sooner.”
“You Gringo Ted’s brother?”
“Yeah, his brother.”
“You do this?” Guiterez asks, pointing down at Andrea’s body. Rob had pulled her out of the car in an alleyway behind an old boarded up strip-mall. She was propped up between two small staircases leading into the backs of the building. In appearance, her body looks like a drunk or druggie sleeping it off. Daylight will soon give lie to the appearance.
“Yeah, I did that,” holding open his jacket to show the knife he used. “She tried to kidnap my sister to make Ted take the job of killing the Jefe’s.”
Guiterez walks up to Rob with his hand out. “You my brother now too, Gringo. She bad news the world no need.” Rob takes his hand and they hug one armed quickly. Leaving without another word said, and not feeling the need to watch his back, Rob drives Andreas car several miles away, ditching it, leaving the keys in the ignition. It won’t be there come noon, and will be scattered amongst several used parts suppliers in a week. Walking towards the border, he calls for an uber pickup at the border.
Rob arrives back at the hotel just before the sun breaks the horizon. T is sprawled belly down across his bed with an empty bottle of Jim Beam laying on the floor. The room smells like a brewery with a hint of vomit. Rob sits in the one chair of the room and stares at the back wall. ‘T, this is the easy part. The hard part comes later when you see her in your dreams again.’ Plays back through his mind.
“They never go away T. You live with them, but they never go away. They will visit you when you least expect it, and they never sleep. I’m sorry you have to learn that fact, but now you really do have to learn it. And learn to live with it.”He says quietly to his sleeping friend and near brother. “You and G have had the benefit of not seeing their faces, but now you have that ghost that dwells with you forever. I’m here if you need me bro, don’t ever forget it; even when the ghost is screaming your name in the middle of the night and it seems like she is going to drag you into hell with her.”
He gets up, walks to his bag and pulls out a flask. “I know it isn’t the answer, but damned if it doesn’t help. At least this one I don’t have to live with. She’s all yours; I didn’t see her eyes.” He sits back in the chair, and without saying another word, slowly drains the flask, while watching the world outside the hotel window come to life.
Still working on things, strangely enough, the lockdown isn’t helping get more writing done. The whole situation has created a dilemma I need to work around or into current storyline. If it hadn’t made such a dent in things social and economically, I’d leave it alone.