Monthly Archives: August 2008

>First Draft of the Obamanator’s Speech

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Courtesy of Samizdata:

Comrades! – and revisionist Hillary supporting scum. Only a little joke, Hillary comrades – your support is really most welcome.

I stand before you today to tell you that Now is Our Time. The pathetic remnants of Western Civilization are ripe for destruction, and we will be the generation of revolutionaries that will finally achieve the goal of creating the new society. Outmoded institutions like private property will be swept away, and a new progressive order created.

And this will be achieved without once mentioning such words as “socialism” or “Marxism” in public. Indeed it is our very care to avoid scaring those mislead by capitalism, the ignorant who still cling to their guns and religion, that will help us achieve total victory. Ultimate power is within our grasp.

No longer we will have to pretend to be “proud of our country”, for as the Intellectual Vanguard of the Revolution our country is the whole planet.

We have the children and young people already. It is true that most children are still given such outmoded and old fashioned things as birthday and even “Christmas” presents. Few children are given the intense political education that these two children receive [at this point Comrade Speaker is to wave the two girl props], or that the Great One himself received – the three hours of political education per day that our Beloved Leader was given by his mother, the untypical white person, from his most early years.

However, such intense political education is only needed for the leaders, for the Community Organisers – for the Intellectual Vanguard of the Revolution. For the masses the level of conditioning provided by the progressive media and by the public collective schools and even some of the “private” schools, is enough. With minds clear of experience or information, the young can be taught that all problems are due to the greed of big businessmen (we need not even use word “capitalists” ) and can be solved by enlightened collective power.

It is true that we have made compromises and sacrifices, but look at things have turned out:

For example, only forty years ago our Comrade Revolutionaries were fighting on the streets with the corrupt Chicago Machine. We decided not to fight that Machine – but to cooperate with it, using our family ties to the Machine when we had them.

And look at the results.

Now the machine is ours. It is our instrument – the instrument of the Revolution!

Today many of the largest corporations fund our organizations – just as Saul Alinksy predicted they one day would. But it is more than fear – the infiltration and, more importantly, the permeation of ideas (as Gramsci taught) means that many of the largest corporations are managed by people who are in whole or part in sympathy with us. The transition will be easy -for the managers of such corporations as General Electric hate the whole concept of share OWNERS already.

This is what pragmatism has given us – power, ultimate power. And soon this whole stinking Imperialist country will fall to us.

And when this place falls, so will the whole world!

This is the secret of our success – our flexibility. If the “liberals” with their bourgeois humanitarianism are against the death penalty then we are against the death penalty – whilst they are useful to us.

But as soon as it is more useful to be in favour of the death penalty then we are in favour of it – indeed more in favour of it than anyone else. Indeed we truly are in favour of the death penalty, although not for the offenses the deluded reactionaries are – pause for laughter and shouts of “kill them all”.

Comrades, Comrades – we must remember Comrade Lenin’s teachings.

If it is for the good of the Revolution we should kill off nine tenths of the population of the whole Earth, but if it is for the good of the Revolution to resist our urges and kill no one at all – then that is the policy we should follow.

The only morality is the Revolution – the new society. There must be no more self indulgence in killing than in anything else…

Read the rest, and then do the same with Spengler’s non-satirical take.

You do know that at least 40 million of your fellow citizens will be voting for this harridan and her far-smoother (and thus far more dangerous) hubby, ja?

Tempus fugit.

>Vanderboegh: Reverberations and Synergies

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Reverberations and Synergies
by Mike Vanderboegh

(Another Chapter of ‘Absolved’)

Sound is a funny thing.

In the Civil War, entire battles were sometimes fought within a few miles of troops who passed the day unaware that their comrades-in-arms were fighting desperately. In other times and places, the sounds of battle have reverberated and carried for many miles. This is especially true across bodies of water.

You know, like Smith Lake.

For sound and fury, the skirmish at the old Gordon cabin hadn’t been much as skirmishes go, all the gunfire being one-sided. And Smith Lake and the Bankhead National Forest are no strangers to echoing gunshots from hunters, target shooters and occasional drunken white boys blasting holes in federal, state and local signage. But automatic weapons fire is a bit rarer and would have drawn the notice of curious passersby — not that there were many of those in Charlie Quintard’s neck of the woods — even in the peaceful days before the Battle of Sipsey Street and the disappearance of the first four ATF agents right afterward.

But now?

Well, now only an idiot would dismiss that episodic, fat-in-the-fire sustained crackle echoing through the woods and across the water as anything else but evidence that the undeclared civil war which had begun on Sipsey Street had come home to Phil Gordon’s birthplace.

Now as it happened only two people who heard the sounds of the death agony of the ATF’s second team understood the probable cause of what they were hearing. One was Jimmy Flynn, who had just turned 19 and was at the moment trying to get into Katy Dobson’s drawers. The fact that Jimmy was still in the preliminaries of talking Katy into what he had in mind played a part in his realization. Had he been farther along in the process he might not have noticed at all. But Katy was no pushover. In fact she had no intention of giving Jimmy what he wanted just then. Her own personal standards required at least an engagement ring before surrendering her secrets, even if she loved young Mr. Flynn, which she did.

So Jimmy was still in possession of his faculties when the first burst of pistol shots that killed Pushmataha rang out.

Huh, he thought, that wasn’t far away. Some feller with a semi-auto pistol shootin’ a snake probably. There were plenty of snakes up this way.

The rock with the beautiful view of the river that Jimmy had chosen for courting the hard-to-get Miss Dobson was probably the least snaky place around here, which was why he had chosen it. Nothing like an Eastern Diamondback rattler or a copperhead to ruin the mood.

But when the paroxysm of fire at the pine roadblock echoed up to him, Jimmy Flynn knew exactly what was going on and he sat up straight. Damn, he thought. It’s the ATF again. The Suburban had passed them on the main road before turning off in front of them, heading down to the old Gordon place.

Jimmy knew about the ATF. Will Shipman, the commander of both his re-enactment unit and the newly organized Free State Constitutional Militia of which Jimmy was a proud member, had told him all about them. Jimmy idolized Will. He’d been places and done things that Jimmy dreamed he might one day see and do. Now, he heard the gunfire and realized that Will needed to know about this.

Having more youthful enthusiasm than sense, had Jimmy been on his own he might have moved toward the sound of the guns to discover what was really happening. But he couldn’t do that with Katy in tow.

Katy, unmindful of the sound at first and not understanding a bit why Jimmy was no longer paying attention to HER, asked petulantly, “What’s the matter?”

“That’s gunfire,” explained Jimmy.

Katy had heard gunfire all her life. Everybody up in Winston County owned a gun and her daddy had taught her how to shoot from when she was tee-niney. She did not, however, have an educated ear for gunfire, nor was she particularly interested in it. What she was interested in was becoming Jimmy Flynn’s wife and having his babies — in that order.

“Somebody shooting a snake,” she explained. There were a whole lot more snakes than guns in Winston County, and anybody who lived outside of town had shot one, or seen one shot.

Jimmy started to explain that it was machinegun fire and nobody shot snakes with machineguns, but the natural caution that his daddy had taught, and occasionally beat into, him took over.

“Don’t run your mouth,” his daddy had said, “until you’ve got somethin’ to say and you know who’s listening.” And one other thing – “No woman ever kept a secret, except her own.”

This much Jimmy could work out for himself. There were four ATF men missing. The whole county knew about the Suburban behind the Sheriff’s Office. The feds were offering $10,000 for information about what might have happened to them. Everybody in town had a guess.

Will Shipman had told him with a wink, “I guess they ran into something in the woods. Maybe they were eaten by trolls.” There were crackheads in town who had already sold their souls for far less and who would rat out their own mothers for a rock, but nobody had a clue.

And Will Shipman told Jimmy Flynn something else, “Well, its like my old Army buddy Scarpetti used to say, ‘Three men can keep a secret if two of them are dead.'” Meaning whoever accomplished the disappearance of the ATF agents was probably working alone.

Which meant that, since the random disappearance of ATF agents in the wake of the agency’s attack on Phil Gordon was viewed by almost everybody in Winston County, heck, the entire state of Alabama, as a positive social good, whoever was on the receiving end of that gunfire was doing the Lord’s own work this day. Therefore, it would not do to draw Katy Dobson’s attention to it. Momma raised ugly kids, not dumb ones, Jimmy thought. That was something else his daddy had said.

So Jimmy Flynn gave up any thought of getting in Katy Dobson’s drawers that day, laid back down beside her on the blanket and cuddled her, listening hard for more shots. In due time, as Charlie Quintard matched his bow and arrows against the ATF’s M-4s and MP-5s, he heard them.

When the flash bangs went off, though, even Katy sat up. “What was THAT?” she exclaimed.

“Oh,” said Jimmy, “I think its somebody celebrating with fireworks. Don’t worry about it.” And then he said something that he couldn’t believe later he had, although the thought had been growing in him for some time. Strangely, the sounds of the war close by crystallized it for him.

“Katy, would you marry me? I know I don’t make much at the factory, but with times being the way they are now, I just don’t think we should wait. Will you marry me?”

Katy was flabbergasted and forgot all about the bangs and booms. The campaign for Jimmy Flynn’s wedding ring was carefully mapped out in her head and should have taken at least another three months. “Oh, yes, Jimmy, yes!”

They kissed then, and kept on kissing. In fact, Jimmy Flynn could have gotten into Katy Dobson’s drawers at that moment, but strangely all he wanted to do was hold her tight as he listened intently to the sounds of the forest, the lake and the odd gunshots echoing across them.

Men, thought Katy. I’ll never understand them. But she didn’t care. She was going to be Mrs. Jimmy Flynn after all.

And wouldn’t Lori Peterson just be jealous fit to bust?

—————————-

The other person who heard the shots and knew what he was hearing was Carter Johnson, the Sheriff of Winston County. Actually, the only shots that he heard came from the last burst of Carmichael’s MP-5. He had been headed north on the lake in his bass boat, christened “Semper Fi,” with his nephew Donald Waters, supposedly looking for the missing four ATF agents but actually to get away from the phones, the nagging press, the demanding feds and do a little bit of fishing. So, what with the noise of the motor going full-tilt-boogie and the bang of the water against the hull, Sheriff Johnson didn’t hear anything.

Something penetrated his subconscious though.

Something was not right.

His premonitions had served him well over the years, first in Vietnam and then in a lifetime in law enforcement, and he had learned to pay attention to them. The last time had been when he was about to kick in the door to an untended meth lab a few years back, and something nagged at his brain not to do it. He went around to the side of the trailer, stepped up on a milk crate and peeped in the window. There was a tripwire attached to the door. He couldn’t see what it was attached to, but he decided to disassemble a back window and go in that way. It took him and the deputies 45 minutes to do that with the poor set of tools they had, but their patience was rewarded.

They got to live.

On the other end of the trip wire was an M18A1 Claymore directional mine that was later determined to have been listed as “expended in training” back in the 1980s at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.

So when something niggled at the back of his head, something that his wife had called his “spider sense,” Carter Johnson paid attention. He cut the boat motor and listened.

Silence. Then, “Brrrrrp.” Then, nothing.

He couldn’t even tell what side of the lake it had come from. A submachinegun, though, he was certain. He waited for a second burst to help him, or some gunfire in reply but nothing happened. He turned to his nephew to see if he had heard it and saw his head bobbing up and down to the MP-3 player.

Moron.

For a few minutes more he sat there waiting, until his nephew got curious and asked why they’d stopped.

“Thought I heard something,” Johnson growled. He was beginning to think that hiring his nephew as a deputy was the biggest mistake he’d ever made in life, up to and including the time he stepped in a punji trap during Operation Tuscaloosa at An Hoa in 1967.

There wasn’t a thing about the boy that didn’t irritate him and if his sister hadn’t begged him in front of their sainted mother he wouldn’t have brought him on board. The kid was only here in the boat to be his flunky anyway, to hand out the beer and bait the hooks, which unfortunately was all he was qualified for. Skeeter Haynes, former Birmingham police captain and his likely primary opposition had already been nosing around, asking sly questions and making pointed comments about “nepotism.” The election wasn’t until next year, but the Sheriff had already made up his mind to dump him on some other poor, unsuspecting police department before it became an issue. They owed him a favor down in Walker County. But then, that place was crooked as a dog’s hind leg and Donny was stupid enough that he’d probably get himself killed the first week.

His sister wouldn’t thank him for THAT.

He let the boat drift for a while, then restarted the engine and very slowly chugged upriver out in the middle of the channel, still unsure of which side the sound had come from, trying to listen over the low mutter of the engine. He actually passed Dead Man’s Holler on his right while Charlie was policing up the ATF bodies at the roadblock. Carmichael heard the boat, but thought it was something Charlie was up to so he stayed quiet, grinding his teeth in pain. And although the Sheriff could see the dock and Charlie’s pole sticking out of the fixture, brush shielded his view of the hog-tied ATF supervisor. Thus, Carmichael’s last chance for life passed upstream.

By the time the dead man hollered, Sheriff Johnson was passing the second bend above the old Gordon place and heard not a thing. But he HAD heard SOMETHING. His intuition borne of long experience with the Feds told him that they had done something stupid again.

Indeed, they seemed to always be doing something stupid. Did they have a test or something that said, “Hey, if you’re kneejerk stupid, we want you in the ATF”? It seemed like it. Ever since they’d been reinvigorated by the Gun Control Act of 1968, they’d been doing deadly stupidities, from the Kenyon Ballew shooting to Waco to Sipsey Street.

And that last was pure-dee DUMB. He knew Phil Gordon well. He grew up with him and went to school with him, although he was two years older than Phil and graduated sooner. Johnson had gone straight into the Marines after graduation, Phil went into the Army two years later. Phil was a serious shooter and a self-effacing southern gentleman, a devout Christian and good family man who’d raised a passel of accomplished kids. If he had a vice it was running his mouth about injustice and government excesses, which was why the ATF had targeted him, probably.

But whatever their made-up excuse, and no matter how many ATF agents he had killed in self-defense, the folks up here figured that it was the ATF and not Phil Gordon, who had it coming. And if now some more ATF agents had gone missing, well, wasn’t that just too bad? Winston County had a long history of making “authorities” like Confederate Home Guards and conscription officers, as well as a hundred and forty years of state and federal liquor and tax revenue agents, disappear. That four more were now missing was seen by Winston Countians, after the death of someone they knew and respected, as merely the latest episode in the region’s proud, independent saga. Feds were SUPPOSED to disappear up here, didn’t THEY know THAT? And if the perpretrators were not caught, then that was OK with most of the voters too.

One other thing. Sheriff Carter Johnson knew that if he was seen by the voters as a tool of the Feds and not the local standard bearer of law enforcement, he didn’t have a hope in hell of getting re-elected. Skeeter Haynes would see to that.

So those were the horns of his dilemma, now made worse by the thought that with that burst of submachinegun fire, some more ATF agents may have just been disappeared, or killed, or whatever. Or maybe they’d get lucky, bag their trophy, and leave the county, and more importantly, leave Sheriff Carter Johnson the hell alone. Of course, if they killed somebody that the local folks deemed innocent, like Phil Gordon, the resentments would wash over him because he hadn’t protected them long enough to get a fair trial. As if there was anything such like in the federal court system these days. And the Feds had already proven they didn’t trust him enough to consult him about anything, so what could he do? In any case, his life was about to get a lot more miserable.

As a result, the Sheriff finished what he had set out to do that morning.

He fished.

He tried not to worry about missing ATF agents and submachinegun fire in the forest and pondered over how to get rid of his nephew without getting him killed. As if to deliberately compound his frustration, the fish refused to bite. Maybe if Skeeter Haynes wants my job, I should pay him back by letting him have it.

A poor bastard he’d be then.

Just like me.

————————–

“Tell me that again, slowly,” Will Shipman ordered Jimmy Flynn. They were sitting alone in Will Shipman’s kitchen, sharing coffee and secrets. It was the night of the skirmish at the old Gordon cabin.

So Jimmy did, slowly. The Suburban passing him, US government plates, packed with stone-faced men in combat gear, the automatic weapons fire, the booms, the whiff of tear gas as he and Katy had driven home past the entrance to the old Gordon place on the way home. And oh, yeah, could Will believe it? He, Jimmy Flynn, was getting married.

That part was easy. His wife had told him to expect it four months ago. Women were wise in the way of such things, while most men like Jimmy (and me, thought Will wistfully) were merely targets on female radar screens, ready to be brought down by charm, feminine wiles and pheremones.

But if another bunch of ATF had truly met misfortune in the Bankhead, this county was about to be torn apart, and the Feds were likely going to come looking for yours truly, Will knew. He had made no secret of his opinions of the innocence of Phil Gordon and the guilt of the ATF for the Battle of Sipsey Street. And some folks even knew about his militia activities. This was not good. He had to first verify that something had actually happened, without raising suspicions, of course. In addition, he knew he had to figure out quickly who was responsible for taking on and apparently defeating two ATF teams. He had a guess, but it didn’t seem possible. The man he suspected didn’t even own a firearm.

————————–

The morning after Sheriff Johnson’s fishing trip, the ATF was confirming, in a backhanded sort of way by asking about them, that some more of their agents had come up missing. It was six this time. The regional office in Nashville called, wanting to know if there was another Suburban behind his office. There wasn’t. But there were more details about this team’s mission than there had been the last time. They’d had only one destination — Phil Gordon’s old cabin on the lake — which was right close by where the Sheriff heard the shots yesterday. The Sheriff knew who lived there, and like Will Shipman, he couldn’t believe it either.

But before Sheriff Johnson set out to find Charlie Quintard, he had to very carefully consider whether he really wanted to find him. He knew that the ATF, who had undercover agents crawling all over Double Springs (they stuck out like sore thumbs), wouldn’t stop until they found their men and the killer or killers. What he was trying to determine was, did he want to help them or hinder them? Which would get him re-elected? If, that is, he wanted to be re-elected at all in this brave new world gone mad.

————————–

For his part, Charlie Quintard had been a very busy man since he buried Pushmataha. He’d policed up all the ATF’s firearms and equipment (he had quite a gun collection by now, what with the meth heads and the Feds leaving things lying around on the ground) and stashed them in two 55 gallon drums off of Phil Gordon’s property out in the Bankhead National Forest in a little cave he had found a couple of years ago.

He’d also done his best to clean up the forensic detritus of the skirmish, picking up brass, wiping out the Suburban’s tire tracks and covering over torn up undergrowth with mud and camouflage vegetation of various kinds. He even repaired, for the second time, the lock on his door. It was not going to be enough, he knew. For one thing, it was impossible to find all the brass in the thick undergrowth. If somebody came out here with a metal detector they were bound to find what he couldn’t.

It was time to leave the Gordon cabin. He hated it, but he knew he had no choice. It was going to be back to the woods like his ancestors and his life was going to be a lot rougher. But in order to do it, he needed help moving his larder.

Now, before the place flooded with Feds.

————————–

“I’ve gotta get me some more deputies,” Barton Meigs murmured to himself in his Nashville office, bitterly recalling the line of Brian Dennehy’s crooked sheriff in Silverado. No shit. First the wholesale slaughter of more than a hundred agents in the Battle of Sipsey Street, then four, followed by six more, missing up in Winston County on a stupid follow up search. Three more dead (and six wounded) in Cherokee County, Alabama on what should have been a piece-of-cake no-knock against a gunshop owner for straw-man sales. Only the dickhead decided he wasn’t going to be arrested that day or any other and went down fighting.

Worse, it was done so stupidly that we managed to kill his wife and six year old daughter in the collateral damage. Two more agents wounded in a similar incident in Pulaski, Tennessee.

“Has the ATF Declared War on the American People?” read the headline on the editorial in the Wall Street Journal this morning. The subhead read, “Or Have the American People Declared War on the ATF?”

Good questions.

For the thousandth time, he cursed his predecessor at this desk. HE was the idiot who’d initiated the Phil Gordon investigation because he didn’t like what the moke was saying about him and the agency. As if we’ve ever been popular, Meigs snorted. Well, the dumbshit had started a war and the only thing good Barton Meigs could say about him was that Phil Gordon had made him pay with his life for his terminal stupidity.

Meigs hoped the Devil was giving his predecessor a personal After Action Review in Hell right now.

The dirty little secret of the ATF, and indeed of all federal law enforcement including the IRS, was on display for anyone who had the eyes to see. As big and bad, as omniscient and omnipresent as we pretend to be in a country this size, we ain’t and we’ll never be. It was the whole Wizard of Oz thing. Most people bought the display, but some folks didn’t. And he could shout, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” all he wanted, but it didn’t mean he could conjure live agents to replace dead ones out of thin air.

If this turns into a war, we lose. Unless the military comes in on our side, which Barton Meigs figured it wouldn’t. The nasty arguments he had with his brother the Major General like clockwork every Thanksgiving told him as much.

Worse than the casualties were the resignations sweeping the agency. Nobody wanted to risk getting killed short of retirement, it seemed. There were rumors of a “national emergency stop loss” order from D.C., but all that did was accellerate the exodus. The unions were screaming bloody murder too. If the President decided to make this a national “law and order” crusade as was the rumor, this was going to get very ugly. Some people just don’t know when to back off. We did it after Waco, didn’t we? We managed to save the agency when everybody, including the turf-jealous FBI, wanted us gone.

But Clinton, for all the names the conservatives called him had in the end been a pragmatic politician, perhaps because he was just in it for the broads. But this President? This guy was a true believer and arrogant to boot. The President, whose photo hung behind him on the wall, was just the kind of man to take a terrible situation and make it truly horrific.

Meigs looked at an organization chart for his region that had been adjusted to reflect the losses since Sipsey Street. There were more holes than filled positions, even after the wave of emergency transfers in from all over the country. The loss of institutional memory represented by those empty slots was staggering. Every single outstanding case now in progress or in the courts in the southeastern United States had been affected. Real criminals, not bumbling gun dealers guilty of paperwork errors or target shooters guilty of nothing but malfunctioning semi-auto rifles, were getting off on dismissed charges. Vicious rapists, drug dealers and killers, were walking because we picked on the wrong guy and he fed us our own ass.

Meigs had been all through what paper trail remained on Gordon in ATF files. The guy hadn’t been a “terrorist” as the national PR spokesmen of his agency were saying. He was just a loudmouth. A very talented loudmouth who had two things: tactical warning of ATF intentions and nothing to lose. He thought of his predecessor and cursed him, again.

You stupid SOB. Burn in Hell.

His secretary broke in on his foul mood. “Sir, Assistant Director Atherton is on line three for you.”

Oh, God, what now? He picked up the handset and punched the line button.

“Meigs.”

“Meigs, this is AD Atherton.”

“Yes, sir?”

“I’ve just come from a meeting with the Director and the Attorney General. The decision has been taken to get you some more help.”

“That’s good news sir.” Meigs paused, “Transfers from the FBI and other agencies?”

“No, they’ve got their own demands. We’re working on something much bigger to deal with this whole problem of domestic gun terrorism.”

Uh, oh, thought Meigs, that’s a new term. “Yes, sir?”

“Yes. You’ll be briefed on that when we’ve finalized the operational plan, but for now I’m sending you a man who can fill up your T.O. & E. with operational bodies to make up for your grievous losses.”

“Who, sir?”

“John Claxton of Brightfire. He’ll be in Nashville tomorrow morning. It’s an open-ended contract. Tell him what you need and he’ll get it for you. They’re a very capable firm with a lot of experience. Money is no object.”

Meigs was silent.

“Meigs,” said the AD, “Do you have any questions about this?”

Meigs decided to risk it. “Sir, I need experienced federal law enforcement officers, even inexperienced ones will do in a pinch, but I need agents, I don’t need mercenaries unfamiliar with the way we do things.”

The AD was silent for a moment, which Meigs knew to be a bad sign.

“Meigs?”

“Yes, sir.”

“‘The way we do things’ is about to change. Work with Claxton or find another job.”

“Yes, sir.” Meigs heard the click on the other end and set down the handset.

Mercenaries.

Shit and shove me in it.

Mercenaries.

Early retirement was starting to look pretty good after all.

————————–

Will Shipman was locking up for the night when a soft tap came at his back door. “Huh?”

His dogs hadn’t barked. That was weird. They usually announced every car that passed by down on the road. Will reached on top of the tall shelf in the hall leading to the kitchen and retrieved an M1911 .45 pistol. He racked the slide and eased to the back of the house. The kitchen lights were already off. He peeked through the curtain at the window over the sink and saw someone standing in the soft glow of the back porchlight.

“Charlie?”

Will safed the weapon, tucked it in his belt behind him Mexican style, moved to the door and opened it. Sure enough. It was Charlie Quintard.

“Can I come in, Will?” Quintard asked softly through the screen door. “I need to talk to you about somethin’.”

“Sure Charlie, come on in,” Will said as he pushed the screen door open for Charlie to enter.

“Have a seat,” Will invited, indicating the same kitchen table he’d talked with Jimmy Flynn at a few hours before. “Can I get you a cup of coffee, or somethin’?”

“No coffee,” said Charlie, “but a glass of water would be nice. I’ve been walkin’ for a ways.”

“All the way from Phil’s place?” That was twenty miles or more, for Will lived clean on the other side of Double Springs.

“Naw, I hitchhiked most of the way, but after dark I couldn’t get any more rides so I jest walked. It’s been a long day.” The weariness in Charlie Quintard’s voice was evident.

Will got him a glass and the pitcher of water Mary kept in the fridge and poured Charlie a drink. He left the pitcher on the table and sat down across from the Indian, waiting in silence while Charlie slaked his thirst.

“How can I help you, Charlie?” he asked after Quintard emptied the glass, worried about the answer he might get.

When Charlie finished telling him almost an hour later, Will Shipman realized that he hadn’t been worried enough.

But first Will had a question: “Why me?”

“‘We always knew that someday we were going to have to draw the line. Phil Gordon drew it and the Feds stepped over it. It’s time to shove back.'”

Will was smart enough to know when his own words were being quoted back to him. Even so, he was darn sure that Charlie hadn’t been there when he said them at the first muster of the Free State Constitutional Militia after the Battle of Sipsey Street.

Or had he?

“How . . .?”

Charlie smiled. “Will, I’ve been practicin’ my stalkin’ skills fer years in the Bankhead and up in the Sipsey. You think I couldn’t sneak up on a bunch of newly minted militiamen?”

When he thought back on it later, Will Shipman recalled that he thought someone was watching him and his recruits from the woods that day, but he’d put it down to the ghosts of Winston County. But just now, he said, “Well, I reckon you did.”

“You know when you swore all those boys into your new militia?”

Will nodded.

“Well, I joined too. I repeated your oath, I jest didn’t make myself known.” Charlie Quintard paused. “In all my life,” he went on, “no one ever treated me as fairly or as kindly as Phil Gordon. I learned more about truth an’ honor an’ principle from him than I did my own daddy. He was as decent a human being as I ever knew an’ if the ATF killed him, it wasn’t because of anything he deserved to get. Since then, I’ve had two encounters with those godless heathens. They’re thieves, murderers and dog-killers. Whatever Phil gave them, they deserved it. An’ I know the ones that I got deserved it too.”

When he talked of Phil Gordon, Charlie’s face was soft. When he finished talking about the ATF his flinty visage looked like iron beaten in a forge.

Something occured to Will. “Thieves? What did they steal?”

Charlie had left that part out. He told Will about Carmichael and the medicine bag and Henderson and the hunting knife.

When Charlie got to the part about Henderson, Will blurted out, “You did WHAT?”

“I said,” Charlie explained patiently, “I put his hand in a vise an’ threw him in after his dead buddies. My granddaddy did that to a Oxnard who stole his mule back in the Thirties. He got the mule back at gunpoint an’ took the thief to our family’s water-powered forge down by the old river bed — this was before the dam backed up the lake. Anyway he had an old vise he wasn’t using an’ after he tied the man’s hands together he put his right hand in the vise an’ crushed it tight. The Oxnard’s always were no account, he said, an’ his cousin was the Sheriff back then so turnin’ him in was a waste of time. An’ then he tossed him in the river and tole him to swim. Went down like a boat anchor.” Charlie paused.

“So did Henderson, screamin’ an’ hollerin’. He’d been bragging to his buddies while they tore my place apart about how he’d been there when they killed Phil Gordon. I figured he had it comin’ after I saw him steal my knife. I asked granddaddy once before he died why he didn’t he just hang Oxnard like most folks did horsethieves, an’ he tole me, ‘I didn’t have a long enough rope an’ he wasn’t worth the powder.'”

Charlie paused, half-smiling. “I guess that’s what happened to me the second time. I didn’t have another vise for Carmichael so I jest strapped him in the Suburban. Like my granddaddy, I used what I had. Improvise, adapt an’ overcome.”

Will thought about that for a while, as Charlie emptied the water pitcher and waited. He did not want Charlie for an enemy, that was for sure and certain. But he was going to be a dangerous friend too. He could see that plainly. Not for so much as anything Charlie might do to him, but more for what Charlie’s enemies might do to them both. And he saw that Charlie’s enemies, who had been Phil Gordon’s enemies before that, were his enemies now too.

Well, I talked big for a lot of years about “drawin’ lines in the dirt” and now that one’s been drawn, I can’t exactly back down, now can I? Not and look myself in the mirror. Explaining that to Mary would be another thing. Thank God she was at Susie’s house helping with the new grandbaby.

But there comes a time in every guerrilla’s life when he must choose between fire and maneuver and escape and evade. For now he would help Charlie escape and evade, because he knew he would need him when it came time to fire and maneuver. Charlie Quintard could also help train his people to become stalkers and killers. And we’re going to need more stalkers and killers before this is over.

“Charlie,” Will said, “welcome to the Free State Constitutional Militia. I accept your enlistment. Now, let’s get my pickup truck and go move your larder before tomorrow morning.”

Charlie smiled, and stood up. “Can I use your restroom, Will? That water went clean through me.”

“Sure thing,” said Will, “first door on the left down the hall.”

As he watched the Indian leave the kitchen, Will Shipman shook his head in disbelief.

Puttin’ a thief’s hand in a VISE and droppin’ him in a river.

Damn.

I mean, damn.

————————–

It was coming up dawn before they finished moving the larder and both men were beyond weary. “I’m too old for this crap, Charlie,” Will said at one point after they’d humped the last of the five gallon buckets up to the cave.

During a break, Charlie had showed him his plunder in the two 55 gallon barrels. Will couldn’t believe it. What a haul. And this was no gun collection that had been purchased over time, nor some government shipment gone astray. These were all battle trophies, taken in single combat.

Will Shipman had been a soldier and he had killed people in combat. That was one thing.

Charlie, well…Charlie was a warrior. And Will knew the difference.

“Charlie,” Will said after he’d caught his breath, “I’m going to want your help trainin’ my people after this blows over. Stalkin’, trackin’, edged weapons, close quarters combat.”

“Yeah,” said Charlie, “I can do that.”

“But I want you to learn something too, for me.”

“Uh, OK, what?” Charlie was puzzled.

Will shifted the lid off the first drum and pulled out a weapon he’d seen earlier. After pulling the magazine and racking the bolt, he safed the weapon and said, “Tell me about this.”

“Oh, well, that belonged to one of them meth heads. It fires real quiet. I know because he tried to kill me with it. Couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn, though.” Charlie gave his signature half-grin and then volunteered, “It ain’t really silent cause it makes a clackin’ sound. But it’s real quiet compared to a regular gun.”

“So this can does work,” Will replied. “You can’t really tell by lookin’ at ‘em, you’ve got to try it. There’s lots of fake suppressors out there. But I’ll take your word for it.” Will shifted the weapon back into the glare of the electric lantern they were using.

“Charlie, this is an Ingram MAC-10 submachinegun. It fires .45 caliber rounds out of a 30-round magazine, from an open bolt. This is the selector switch. This is safe, this is semi-auto and this is full auto. The feller who was shootin’ at you was probably using full auto, and he probably didn’t use the fold-out stock, did he?”

“That’s just like I picked it up off the ground,” Charlie replied. “Had to clean a little blood off it though.”

“Well, the stock folds out like this, see?” Will manipulated the mechanism. “And this little strap hanging down from the front you use to pull the muzzle down when you fire. Like this.” Will mounted the weapon to his shoulder and showed Charlie the proper hold and stance, leaning into the shot with his left foot forward.

“Are you right handed?”

“Yeah,” said Charlie.

“OK, do what I just did and hold it up like you’re going to fire at somebody.”

Charlie complied, and Will corrected his stance and hold. “More like that, Charlie. Got it?”

“I guess, but I’m a lot better with a bow.”

“I know, but sometimes only a firearm will do. You see that don’t you?”

“Yeah, I guess, but how do I practice with it up here?”

“How far back does this cave go, after you get past that big rock?” Will flashed his own combat light back into the opening behind them.

“Well, about, I don’t know, twenty-five yards or so. You can stand up in it for about ten of those where it gets straight following a fissure in the layer. If you’re thinking of me shootin’ back there, I’d rather not.”

Will thought for a moment, about noise and powdersmoke and breathing the already fetid air of the cave. Probably wouldn’t be good to give away his position anyway. Lord knows what technology they were going to bring to bear to find him up here.

“All right. Look. For now let’s just say that you learn how to take it apart, clean it and dry-fire it. Do you have any more magazines for this?”

“Sure,” said Charlie and rooted around in the barrel, clanking and banging until he pulled out an old GI ammo pouch with a shoulder strap containing five other thirty rounders. “Here.”

Will examined them one at time. Three were loaded. Two were rusty.

“Look, Charlie, the other thing we’re going to have to do is preserve this stuff from rusting.” Will thought. “But now is not the time.”

Daylight was coming fast and the truck had to be out of here. Will put the lid back in place on the drum.

“OK, we’ve got everything you need right?”

“Yeah, I can get by on this. But I’m low on candles and matches.”

“All right. Don’t under any circumstances go back to the cabin. You know the cache points we talked about. I’ll see that you get some candles and some other things you need at the first one by tomorrow night. It’s the closest and you don’t want to be moving around much for a while. I’ll also get you a means to communicate with me if you need me. Anything else?”

“No,” said Charlie slowly, “Just thanks.”

“Charlie, I never got a chance to help Phil. I know he’d approve of me helpin’ you. But what I really think is that we’re gonna be helpin’ each other thru this shitstorm that’s about to hit.”

Charlie, thinking on the ten dead agents and Pushmataha, asked plaintively, “You mean it ain’t hit yet?”

Will, realizing what Charlie had been through, shook his head, “Believe me, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

The two men shook hands.

“The supplies will be there. Keep safe.”

Charlie said, “I will,” not really believing “safe” was possible.

Will Shipman turned and disappeared out the mouth of the cave into the coming day.

Charlie was too exhausted to arrange anything now. He picked out a flat spot on the cave floor and selected two of his thickest blankets and rolled them out. Then he pulled out his sleeping bag and unrolled it over top of them. He took off his boots and slipped on some leather mocassins he’d made last winter. Then he slipped into the bag, using another blanket for a pillow.

His last thought before he drifted off was of how much he missed the faithful Pushmataha.

In his dreams, the dog licked his face, and Charlie smiled.

>Numbers, Please

>
Much of the supporting materials for the newly-released movie IOUSA, detailing the financial abyss brought to you via universal suffrage and your Federal Government, comes from the brave work of former US Comptroller General David Walker, who put together this overview last March of just how bad the problems really are.

Spend some time over this weekend reading the material and thinking about it.

Then look around at all of the people you know in your various life roles – family, friends, and acquaintances from both your personal and professional lives.

Being brutally honest with yourself, ask how many of those folks have the character and courage to do what it would take to even attempt a electoral fix before the whole shebang collapses into a welter of foreign creditor claims, crushed asset values, and resultant economic enslavement.

Having done so, then ask yourself what exactly would that electoral fix be?

Do you see the problem now?

Tempus fugit.

>What Is To Be Done: Confusing Motion With Progress

>In a previous post, I described the situation of contemporary American no-compromise gunowners as follows:

- We’re screwed

- There’s gonna be a fight

- Let’s win

Assuming for a moment that the reader accepts the first two premises and rejects the option of submission, attention then shifts to a viable definition of “win”.

And there the real fun begins – at least for anyone with their eyes open.

Compared to many, I am a relative newcomer to the Second Amendment struggle. As such, I can now look back at the first few years of my exertions as being sincere but largely misguided attempts to “awaken the sleeping masses.”

The most important lesson that I learned during those times is that most people – especially including so-called “activists” – are largely incapable of following an upsetting thought through to its logical conclusion.

An example:

- Person X decides, based on his read of the socio-political situation here in the Oughts of the 21st century, that he needs to learn how to shoot a rifle with some degree of competence.

- The actual task of achieving moderate competence having been achieved, Person X purchases a couple thousand rounds of ammunition and several mags, cleans his rifle, and resumes his “normal life”,

- while at the very same time acknowledging that the socio-political forces that originally motivated him to learn basic longarm skills have deteriorated significantly since his training began.

That observation about others and myself led to the second phase of my activism – the “Chicken Little” clippings and musings that have formed the backbone of this blog.

I truly thought, for a good long time, that if only people could be made to see what is happening around them:

- the growing depredations of a metastasizing American surveillance/police state,
- the slow but perceptible movement towards a global socialist “paradise”, and
- the deliberate beggaring of future generations to sate the slavering “where’s mine?” benefits-craving mob,

they would awaken from their stupor and stop the madness.

Even when I acknowledged that we simply do not have the votes” as freedom-lovers to prevail against willing slaves and aspiring slavemasters in a voting contest, I thought that there still was a way to rally fellow Americans towards the ideals of individual freedom and political liberty, even if that meant conflict against superior forces.

I know now that I was wrong.

This documentary, the premiere of which I attended this evening, rests on the same shaky hypothesis as have my Second Amendment efforts – to wit, if people really knew what was going on, they would (of course!) work, and if necessary fight, to change things.

The wholly-unpalatable truth is that the majority of people in this country
- DO know what is going on,
- they like it (or at least don’t dislike it enough to work to change things for the better), and
- they want more of it now.

That’s how we got in the mess we’re in.

Politicians acted to expand the power of the State by bribing taxpayers with their own money.

More recently, non-taxpayers have been cut into the gravy train.

Voters liked how those bribes felt and demanded more, even for folks who don’t pay taxes, a la the recent stimulus check.

Politicians were only too happy to oblige, thereby further increasing the levels of debt, taxation, and State power.

Lather, rinse, repeat – since 1936, at least.

Consequences be damned.

More government?

More please, Sir – especially those yummy transfer payments/stimulus packages/subsidies. Please also to include, thank you very much, an extra helping of those earned income credits.

More surveillance, on a path towards that in the place where Great Britain used to be?

Fine, as long as Holy Mother Government keeps us feeling like we are safe from all of those, in the words of Bush ’43, “terrists”.

More regulations?

Of course, for without more regulatory intrusions on behalf of local, state, and Federal government, we might ripped off by those greedy capitalists, bankers, and other private-sector miscreants as we pursue our quest for ever-greater somethings for nothing.

Reasonable gun control?

So long as you pay proper homage to the Heller shibboleth of “individual rights”, you can do pretty much anything – just as Scalia suggested. We’re only being pragmatic, after all.

More gubmint-created jobs?

Oh yeah – especially with those above-market benefit and retirement packages. Give Daddy lots of that sugar.

More political power aggrandizement by the lifetime-tenured, unelected, and unaccountable Federal judiciary at the trial, appellate, and SCOTUS levels?

You betcha. Who better that a cadre of Robed Masters from the nation’s elites to prove that the Founders’ genius in creating a series of checks and balances can indeed be thwarted?

More taxpayer money thrown down the rathole of your local government school system?

Damned straight. You don’t think an electorate is born this ignorant and addled, do you? No, my friend – to reach this level of thoughtful civic engagement requires at least 13 years of government school lobotomizing:

And we in the RKBA/Second Amendment community think that by adding our daily personal scrawl to the RKBA blogosphere of maybe 25,000 people, we are actually accomplishing something meaningful to offset the overwhelming political power of literally scores of millions of fellow citizens like those in the video?

Or is what we call “activism” simply motion, rather than progress?

I’d humbly propose that for true freedom lovers, the most rational definition of “win” in the upcoming struggle is to be free from all interference from most of our fellow Americans, both within and without the various levels of government.

That objective, combined with a vigorous and frequently-employed enforcement mechanism, is something that can be accomplished, as opposed to the Sisyphean task of trying to educate greedy, amoral ignoramuses out of their greed, amorality, and ignorance.

I’ve thought a great deal about who most of my countrymen are and what they believe, and I have to tell you – I’ll take my chances on my own, thank you very much.

That’s not a bad idea at all for a new path, as Mary Chapin Carpenter sang:

I took a walk in the rain one day on the wrong side of the tracks
I stood on the rails till I saw that train
Just to see how my heart would react
Now some people say that you shouldn’t tempt fate
And for them I would not disagree
But I never learned nothing from playing it safe
I say fate should not tempt me

I take my chances, I don’t mind working without a net
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get

I sat alone in the dark one night, tuning in by remote
I found a preacher who spoke of the light but there was brimstone in his throat
He’d show me the way according to him in return for my personal check
I flipped my channel back to CNN and I lit another cigarette

I take my chances, forgiveness doesn’t come with a debt
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get

I’ve crossed lines of words and wire and both have cut me deep
I’ve been frozen out and I’ve been on fire and the tears are mine to weep
But I can cry until I laugh or laugh until I cry
So cut the deck right in half,
I’ll play from either side.

I take my chances, I pay my dollar and I place my bet
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get
I take my chances, I don’t cling to remorse or regret
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get

I take my chances….

Bottom line: The FDR/Wilsonian/Lincolnian/Hamiltonians have the ball, their rabid hometown fans are howling, there’s 3 minutes left in the 4th period, and the Jeffersonian/Henry/Jackson/Lee team is down by 23 points, with their best shooter fouled out.

A rational Jeffersonian in the audience would be asking where the best post-game party is, and who’s bringing the girls and party favors.

That game buzzer’s about to sound…..

>WRSA Grid-Down Medical Course – Everett, WA – 9/12-14

>

Field Expedient Medical Care for Outdoorsmen in Austere Environments

This two-day (16 hour) course of instruction will prepare the motivated outdoorsman to treat life-threatening and function-threatening medical conditions in the wilderness without access to classical EMS and medical resources.

The working hypothesis of this program is an injury or illness sustained by a family or work group remote from medical resources by distance, time, or availability (grid-down) over a short to intermediate interval.

Designed by a retired Emergency Physician with 35 years of Trauma, EMS/ Rescue, and instructional experience, the methods and techniques taught are derived from over 10 years of front-line trauma care in an urban gangland zone and over 35 years of medical practice in environments as diverse as remote underground in caves (delayed evacuation to surface of 20 hrs), on the side of remote hills (48 hr bivouac in “whiteout” conditions), and at sea. The trauma concepts are compatible and consistent with the current military method of Tactical Combat Casualty Care.

Topics Include:

• The priority of medical care/stabilization in the survival skill set

• Triage: When to use the resources at hand, to benefit the most individuals, and preserve the “team” capability
• The “Priorities” of care for the single victim vs. the “Survivability” of the single victim in remote (time/distance/accessibility) austere environment
• The Major (Medical) Life Threats: Function and Management
• Anatomy of the life-sustaining systems of the human body
• Cover and concealment: high-threat extraction concepts
• The Big Three Survivable Life Threats-Airway control issues, pneumothorax/tension pneumothorax, and external hemorrhage
• Advanced airway techniques for the average sportsman/citizen, with expanded scope knowledge: Nasal Airways, cricothyrotomy
• Basic and Advanced Treatment of Thoracic Wounds- Stopping the air leak, and/or venting the pressure
• Basic and Advanced External Hemorrhage control- Direct pressure, mechanized direct pressure, hemostatic agents, pressure point use behind cover, tourniquets
• The science, and fairy tale, of fluid resuscitation
• Monitoring the head injured patient
• Stabilization of fractures and splinting for functional use
• Definitive wound care: Cleansing, Debriding, Closing
• The Team “Debilitators”: infection, vomiting/diarrhea/field sanitation, dehydration, toothache, soft tissue injuries, hyperthermia, and hypothermia
• Dealing with burns or cold induced wounds (frostbite, frostnip, etc.)
• Current therapy of envenomations: snakes, spiders, bees
• Pre-Pack Pharmacy: What you want to have before venturing into the outback
• Teammates with pre-existing disease: how not to make it worse
• The “Jericho Scenario”: Protection, Decontamination, and Treatment for chemical and biological agents
NOTE: This NON-CERTIFICATION course is presented for YOUR INFORMATION ONLY. All personnel take NO RESPONSIBILITY for your use of this information in a real-life situation.
When: September 12-14, 2008 (attendance at course presentations on the evening of 9/12 is highly recommended)

Where: Training Room, Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management building, 3509 109th Street SW, Everett, WA 98204
How Much: $325/person; $25 discount for team members


>Vanderboegh: Dead Man’s Holler

>
“Dead Man’s Holler”
by Mike Vanderboegh

(Another chapter of “Absolved”, an upcoming novella)

I ain’t nothin’ but a simple man.
Call me a redneck, I reckon that I am
But there’s things goin’ on that make me mad down to the core . . .

“Simple Man”, by the Charlie Daniels Band

Charlie Quintard was fishing down on the dock behind the house on Smith Lake when the Suburban turned up the road. It wasn’t much of a road, but then it wasn’t much of a house. It was just a cabin really — a kitchen, a bathroom (both of which took their water from the spring up the bluff) and the great room where Charlie had lived alone and slept alone these past five and a half years.

Quintard was humming “Simple Man” by the Charlie Daniels Band softly so as not to startle the fish. Beside him, his coon dog Push (short for Pushmataha) raised his head and growled.

“Quiet,” ordered Charlie, “I’m fishin’ here.”

Push quit growling but stared up the hill in the direction of the cabin. Car doors slammed in the distance.

Charlie sighed to himself, “Here we go again.”

He knew who it was. Nobody came to Charlie’s place, not even by accident. You had to WANT to find this place to get here, which was why Charlie liked it. In all the time he’d lived here, he’d never been visited by somebody he didn’t know or hadn’t invited, except once.

Until last week.

And now.

Putting his pole in the fixture on the dock, Charlie Quintard stood up, Push rising beside him.

“No,” commanded Charlie, “Guard.”

Push halted. The dog permitted himself a short whine to indicate his protest.

“Stay. Guard,” repeated Charlie.

His rod and fish bucket would be safe from all predators now and so would Push. The last bunch had been trigger happy and when they came up on Push unexpectedly they’d shot at him and missed. If they’d been better marksmen, well, Charlie didn’t want to think on that. Phil always said they were big dog killers.

“Hello the house!” Charlie heard one of them shout. Well at least this bunch was more polite than the last. They’d just kicked in his door while he watched from the bluff above, and made a terrible mess of the place. Even stole one of his knives. One of them later told Charlie that they thought nobody was home because they didn’t see a car. Maybe this bunch had spotted the wisp of smoke coming out of his chimney, remnants of his breakfast fire in the cast iron stove in the kitchen.

“Hello the house!” came the call again, louder.

“Hello yourself,” Charlie replied amiably as he rounded the corner.

Four men in body armor and load bearing vests stood in front of the Suburban, spread out, weapons held at the ready. Two more stood behind the open front doors of the SUV, rifles pointed toward the cabin, ready to give covering fire if needed. All pivoted their weapons to point at Charlie.

Huh, six of them this time, Charlie noted silently, and better armed too. They were nervous though, Quintard could tell. Charlie kept his hands where they could see them.

“How can I help you fellers?” Charlie asked.

His voice was calm, steady, even friendly. Good, thought Charlie. I shoulda been an actor. He smiled inwardly to match the one on his face. He could see the agents were unimpressed.

“Is this Phil Gordon’s place? one demanded.

“Yup, he owns it, but I’ve been renting it now fer ’bout near six years now. I pay him a year’s rent in advance every June with my tax refund. I sorta watch the place fer him. Before I moved in, he found a buncha squatters running a meth lab in it. Been in his family fer years.”

“Well,” said one of the agents (his last name was Allen) with a malicious grin, “you’ll have to find another place to live, Bubba. This place belongs to the U.S. government now.”

“Name’s Charlie.”

“Huh?”

“My name’s Charlie, not Bubba. Charlie Quintard.”

“You got any guns, Charlie?” demanded the first one, who was apparently the leader.

“Does it look like I do?” letting a slight exasperation bleed into his still-friendly voice.

“I mean in the house,” the leader clarified.

“Naw. Don’t own one. Don’t need ‘em.”

“Any of Phil’s hidden around the place?”

“Not that he ever tole me.”

“You mind if we look?”

It wasn’t a question nor the least bit friendly.

“Naw, go right ahead. Them other fellers you sent did too and they didn’t find nothin’.”

All six agents came instantly alert. If Charlie’s amiable conversation had taken the edge off some of their wariness, it was gone now.

“They were here?” the leader demanded.

“Shore, just like y’all but dressed in their shiny go-to-meetin’ suits. One of ‘em, said his name was Henderson, came up to nail some legal notice on the door. Said Mr. Gordon was a cop killer and he was dead and I was E-victed.”

“Where’d they go?” demanded the leader.

“How’d I know? They drove off in a truck just like that,” said Charlie pointing at the Suburban. “They got excited when I tole them ’bout Phil’s other place and they went off lookin’ for it. Reckon they found it, ’cause I ain’t seen ‘em since.”

“What other place?”

“The one at Dead Man’s Hollow (only Charlie pronounced it ‘Holler’). Phil’s family had a homestead there more than a hundred an’ eighty years ago.”

The first team’s Suburban had been found parked neatly behind the Winston County Sheriff’s Office in Double Springs. No one had a clue how it had gotten there. The four man team had vanished. It should be noted for the record that no one thought they were on an unannounced vacation in Vegas. And the local LEOs, as was usual these days, were uncooperative. How much of the Sheriff Department’s mystification was real and how much was an act was the subject of great debate at the ATF office in Birmingham, where both teams had come from.

The team leader was unimpressed with Charlie’s history lesson and started issuing orders.

“Allen, keep an eye on him. Chambliss and Duncan, search the house. You two,” indicating the men behind the doors, “stay here and cover us.”

“Hey, wait,” protested Charlie, “My dog is down by the dock. Can I call him up? That last bunch shot at him, but he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

The leader, whose name was Carmichael, hesitated. Finally, he nodded his assent.

Charlie yelled, “Push! Come here boy!” and then added as the agents moved toward the cabin, “You don’t have to kick in the door like them last fellers. It’s unlocked.”

They kicked it in anyway.

Push loped up the hill in easy strides and came to rest at Charlie’s feet. Quintard bent down and welcomed his only close friend, scratching him behind the ears and praising him.

“Good boy. Well done.”

This was actually working out better than the first time, Charlie thought. Maybe nobody gets shot at today. Maybe, he prayed, nobody dies. He began humming “Simple Man” again, as the agents tore apart his cabin.

Now I’m the kind of man who wouldn’t harm a mouse,
But if I catch somebody breakin’ in my house,
I’ve got a twelve gauge shotgun waitin’ on the other side.
So don’t go pushin’ me against my will
I don’t want to fight you but I durn sure will,
So if you don’t want trouble you’d better just pass me on by.

Charlie was a simple man and led a simple, spartan existence. There was no phone in the cabin, no radio or TV so there was no cable. Nor was there a computer, electric heaters, lamps or toasters. Charlie Quintard lived off the grid.

He had once been an IT specialist for HealthSouth down in Birmingham, but the hours were crazy, the pressure intense and the supervision positively anal. Still he was doing pretty well for a Winston County boy whose daddy had been a coal miner when he managed to get himself fired. His boss had discovered one morning that, buried in the detail of a historic painting of the Massacre at Fort Mims that Charlie used as a screen saver, there were two faces which he had modified from the original.

One was Charlie’s, superimposed on the body of a Creek brave, knife in the air.

The other was that of Richard Scrushy, the universally feared and despised CEO of HealthSouth, which had been electronically pasted onto the body of a white settler about to be scalped.

When Charlie lost his job, he lost his wife, his house and his taste for the outside world. Quintard retreated into the Bankhead National Forest of his youth, trying to get his head straight. He’d chanced across Phil Gordon, a boyhood friend of his daddy, in a convenience store in Addison one day, shortly after Phil’s encounter with the meth lab.

There was an identity of interest. Phil needed a house sitter and Charlie needed shelter in a place away from the world. Now, more than five years later, Charlie still enjoyed the solitude and Richard Scrushy, his humorless ex-boss was doing time in the federal slammer for corporate misdeeds, thus proving to Charlie Quintard the existence of a just God. The fact that Charlie’s annual rent was merely one dollar was none of the ATF’s business.

But because Charlie was a simple man, the search, if the clumsy tossing of his personal effects to no purpose could be called a search, didn’t take long.

Charlie had told them the truth. There were no firearms on the place. They did find his personal hunting knife and a half-dozen others in various stages of manufacture. They found his traditional bow and a quiver full of flint-tipped arrows. They tipped over his flint napping table and scattered his flints and tools across the greatroom floor. They found his tomahawk, emblazoned with the signs of his clan and tribe, for Charlie Quintard was three-quarter Cherokee.

They found, and threw to the floor, his many books on the early history of Alabama, Indian lore and primitive weapons and survival skills. They searched though his bulk foods that he kept in 5 gallon plastic pails, ruining some of it and spilling more. And then they found his medicine bag.

It hadn’t occurred to Charlie that the feds would mess with his sacred artifact, so when he saw Duncan come out with the ornately beaded bag in his outstretched hand, he startled.

“Hey boss,” yelled Duncan, “Look at this.”

“What’s in it?” asked Carmichael.

“NO!” Charlie yelled and started for the porch. “That’s my medicine bag! You CAN’T!”

“What kind of medicine? Pot?” asked Duncan as he dumped the contents out onto a table that stood on the porch to the right of the door. It looked like junk to the agent — a feather, a rock, some sticks and . . . something Duncan had never seen before.

It was an ancient panther claw. Charlie had found it when wandering in the Sipsey Wilderness. The Alabama black panther had been believed to be extinct after about 1920 or so, but their banshee cries at night had been recently heard again by more than one Winston Countian, including Charlie.

The claw was powerful medicine and though Charlie’s forward motion was stopped by the muzzle of Allen’s M-4, Push was not deterred.

In a blur he closed the distance between him and Duncan, flying up the steps and into the air, going for Duncan’s throat. Duncan stood as if rooted to the spot. Allen never wavered from covering Charlie.

Chambliss was inside and the two riflemen at the Suburban didn’t have a clean shot. That left Carmichael, who was standing off to the side. As the dog leaped, he presented a full profile to the senior agent. Still, if he hadn’t had his hand on his pistol he’d never have cleared leather. But he did, and he shot Pushmataha on the way by, hitting him with two of four shots. The lifeless dog hit Duncan squarely and knocked him ass over tit back into the doorway.

“NO!” screamed Charlie again. But even in his agony he did not lose his presence of mind. Allen still had him covered and seemed even more eager now to kill him than before. For one thing, the agent was smiling.

Oh, yeah, thought Charlie, you’ve done this thing before, haven’t you, you bastard? You LIKE it.

For his part, Allen was disappointed. By now, the agent figured, this hillbilly schmuck should have given him reason to blow his head off. This guy was either too smart, too stupid or too scared to do anything, and Allen tended to believe the last two rather than the first. Living this far out in the woods without a gun? That was just plain stupid. Yeah, sneered the agent to himself, Forrest Gump here was just a scared sheep like so many he’d seen over the years.

Used to be, Allen thought of himself as a sheepdog like most cops did. Not any more. It was a different world now. And after he helped pick up the bodies on Sipsey Street, Allen decided he would tell himself no more lies.

If being a wolf was what it took to survive, then he would be a wolf. One of the reasons he liked working for Carmichael was that the supervisory agent had made the same choice.

Allen knew that the only reason Carmichael had let the hick call his dog up was so they could set up a plausible incident and kill them both. The way Carmichael was looking at him now, Allen realized he had screwed up. The senior agent was pissed that Allen hadn’t taken his opportunity. Excuses could be manufactured later, and who would say different?

Allen caught Carmichael’s attention with an arched eyebrow and slight uptick of his muzzle toward Charlie. The senior agent shook his head imperceptibly. You missed your chance, wait for the next one.

“Go get your dog, asshole,” Allen told Charlie.

Charlie shuffled like a zombie up to the steps, pulling himself up the rail by what seemed to be superhuman effort. With a sob, he dropped to his knees beside the coon dog, cradling it in his arms and rocking back and forth slightly. He was crying.

Yeah, thought Allen disdainfully, just a sheep. Now, if Carmichael has this prick figured right, he’s going to go inside and either suck up his pitiful guts and come at us out the front with his worthless prehistoric weapons, or he will try to boogie out the back for the river. Allen had him figured for the back but he didn’t intend to kill him right away. They still needed to find out where this dead man’s whatever place was. Gotta give him some rope to hang himself though. Make him think he’s got a chance. Yeah, Allen saw, Carmichael had it figured that way too.

Charlie rose with Pushmataha and entered the cabin. At a gesture from Carmichael, Duncan and Chambliss came out of the cabin and down the steps, moving to the right and clearing the field of fire for the shooters at the Suburban. Turning, they now formed a perfect L-shaped ambush. Allen knew he was the plug in the drain.

As Allen ambled down toward the side of the cabin, Chambliss took a last glance in the door. “He’s just kneeling by the bed,” he told the others.

Allen hoped he was right and the Indian lost his nerve and ran out the back. If one of them had to go back into the cabin, they’d be within knife range. Of course they could Waco the place and burn it down. But the moron didn’t even have a single barrel twelve to give them an excuse, and nobody but a Buddhist monk committed suicide by burning themselves to death, no matter what Janet Reno said. Besides, the only gasoline on the place was in the Suburban’s tank. He hadn’t even seen so much as a kerosene lantern.

So let him run out the back, Allen decided. He moved along in no particular hurry. If the rube bolted toward the lake, Allen had a good clean shot for at least 75 yards. Keeping close to the structure to avoid being seen from the side windows, the agent came around the chimney headed for the back corner of the cabin.

This was going to be easy.

Charlie Quintard waited, nestled into the back angle of the chimney. He had to do this quietly. He couldn’t brain him with his tomahawk and he couldn’t just slit the agent’s throat. Contrary to the movies, both of those means of taking out a sentry were audible for some distance. If he tried either, Charlie would be heard in the front.

When Allen was at a 45 degree angle to his front and left, Charlie seized the agent’s head and pulled it to the left as he brought the knife HARD through the back of his neck and into the medulla oblongata. He violently moved the knife back and forth, “scrambling his eggs” as someone once said. The result was instant and virtually silent incapacitation. Allen didn’t have time to do anything but twitch, and die. Charlie removed his knife and lowered Allen’s body to the ground, half turning him as he did so so he could reach the agent’s face. He then took a second or two to silently carve up ATF Special Agent Hank Allen’s face with horizontal and lateral strokes of the knife and to separate his nose and ears from his head. The agent’s dead eyes were still wide in surprise when Charlie Quintard moved quietly away from him, angling away from the cabin toward the river and the nearest brush.

He was deep into the trees when the first horrified shouts heralded the discovery of Allen’s body.

Well, you know what’s wrong with the world today?
People done gone and put their Bibles away.
They’re livin’ by the law of the jungle not the law of the land.

Well the Good Book says, and I know its the truth,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
You’d better watch where you go
And remember where you’ve been.
That’s the way I see it, I’m a simple man.

Carmichael was scared and angry. God, was there NOTHING simple about this Gordon case?

It was obvious now what had happened to the first team. This bastard’s act had conned them all, including him. But there was no way he was going to chase this guy, this Indian, this WARRIOR, into the brush on his own home turf with just four other guys. We’d be picked off one by one. And Carmichael, sheepdog turned wolf or not, intended to live to collect his pension. Or at least, he reflected, to escape to a non-extradition country if we don’t win what is rapidly turning into a civil war.

Carmichael tried his cell phone again. No signal. They’d lost radio contact when they came down off the mountain to the lake. Besides, there was all kinds of interference these days. The smart boys in DC said it was deliberate jamming by radio operators and commo hackers who were sympathetic to killer gun nuts like Gordon. And only tactical teams had the good satellite phones. This was supposed to be a milk run.

Shit.

And now there was this “Dead Man’s Hollow.” Was that where the Indian was headed?

Would they find the dead from the first team there?

Did it even exist?

Was it all a lie?

Carmichael decided.

“Back to the Suburban,” he ordered. “We’ll come back with more people. Leave Allen. We’ll get him when we come back.”

The other agents sagged in relief. The last thing they wanted to do was handle that bloody corpse. Allen’s mutilation had shocked them in a way that even those among them who had been combat veterans in another life couldn’t get their minds around.

This was AMERICA. We’re the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. This isn’t supposed to happen to one of US.

Of course, this was exactly the effect Charlie Quintard had in mind when he did it. Scared men, jumpy men, make mistakes. And at five to one, Charlie needed all the help he could make for himself.

Chambliss had policed up Allen’s weapons. Funny thing about that, Carmichael thought, the Indian had left the dead agent’s M-4 and pistol. Didn’t he know how to use them?

As Charlie ran through the woods, he was making a mental inventory of his options and an evaluation of his enemy much like Carmichael. Quintard had his knife, his ‘hawk, his primitive bow and a quiver which held a dozen flint-tipped arrows. He stopped briefly to string his bow, then he was off again at a lope, circling around to the road the Suburban had come in on. It wasn’t that he didn’t know how to use firearms. It was just that he was BETTER with the weapons he carried. He’d been living with them, and by them, for more than five years now. When you eat only as well as you can hunt, you get good at it. That’s what made his skill at the bow.

As for the knife and the ‘hawk, he was also good in close with them. The only social occasions he attended away from his cabin were centered around edged weapons and primitive close combat skills. He sold the knives he made and the flint arrowheads he napped to other primitive hunters and frontier re-enactors. For the past five years his life had worked like this.

Every so often he’d hike out to the main road and thumb a ride into the Double Springs Post Office. Once there, he’d pick up his mail, cash his postal money orders, and mail off the products of his labor to a growing customer base. After that, he’d go down to the library to scan the newspapers and magazines. Jill Shipman, the librarian, had taken Charlie under her wing sometime before and she let him buy new books on the library discount card and would always save any discards she thought he might like, selling them to him for a quarter apiece. After the library, Charlie would head to the Piggly Wiggly (he hated and shunned WalMart) and pick up items for his larder. Every now and then, he would go to the Ace Hardware for a tool, or some nails. When he was done, he’d hire the Piggly Wiggly stock boy to drive him back home with his plunder in the stock boy’s pickup.

Ten or twelve times a year, a buddy would come by to pick him up and together they’d go to a mountain man rendezvous or a re-enactment like Fort Mims way down state near Mobile. They’d camp rough and compete in edged weapons contests — with wooden knives and ‘hawks in hand-to-hand matches, and with cold steel in throws for accuracy. Throwing or hand-to-hand, there were few better than Charlie Quintard.

Charlie had never joined the army. Those few who knew him thought that was probably a good thing. Putting up with the Army’s idea of discipline was not in Charlie Quintard’s internal makeup. He had self-discipline of course. Anyone who hunts for subsistence or ekes by his life on the thin bounty of the north Alabama woods is a model of patient discipline.

In the peacetime Army, Charlie Quintard would have been an abject failure as a soldier.

In a war, well, somewhere in those Cherokee genes of his lurked a warrior.

Charlie had learned that about himself. You see, the meth heads that Phil Gordon had run off came back about a year afterward, after Charlie had settled in. They had guns, Charlie had a knife and his trusty ‘hawk. (He was still partly on the grid then, and he hadn’t yet acquired his primitive bow.)

The meth heads laughed, and then died in terminal surprise as Charlie first evaded and then caught them up close one or two at a time. There were eight of them. After disabling their vehicles, it had taken him two days. It was the first time he showed anyone the way to Dead Man’s Holler, which was in fact a real place.

The first ATF team had been the second.

This was the third.

So yes, Charlie Quintard had learned the way of the warrior.

And there was something else that Charlie Quintard had learned. There are no obsolete weapons. There are only obsolete ways of employing them – obsolete tactics, if you will. An English longbowman of the 14th Century, if transplanted to the 21st, could still kill a man at distance. He just wouldn’t stand in a row in an open field to do it like he had at Agincourt or Crecy.

In fact, in a technological society that placed gunfire detectors everywhere in its cities, there was an argument to be made that a “primitive” weapon which was essentially silent might be of increased utility despite the fact that it had been invented a couple of millenia before.

Also, when you grabbed a man by his belt buckle, a knife or a ‘hawk was just as good a way to kill him as any other.

All this Charlie knew. And he knew one other thing. The only way this was going to work was if they just disappeared like the first bunch. He had to get them all before they were able to climb out of the dead zone that kept them from communicating with their bosses back in Birmingham.

He was, Charlie Quintard knew, going to have to take them to Dead Man’s Holler.

That thought took him as far as the big tree above the road cut. The road, like almost all roads in Winston County, had first been an animal track, then an Indian trail, a wagon road and finally a one lane passage for automobiles and logging trucks. Over the years it had worn down until it was a cut at least three feet deep along the length of it leading back to the cabin.

What the ATF didn’t know was that this was actually the old road to Dead Man’s Hollow, although you wouldn’t find it on any modern map. The road had run past the Gordon homestead, turned left just about where the boat dock jutted out into Smith Lake and snaked up the bluff for about 800 yards before it descended toward the old river bed and Dead Man’s Hollow. When the Alabama Power Company built the dam in the Thirties and Smith Lake had backed up behind it, the rising waters filled up to just below the bluff, where the old road now dead-ended.

So the only way out was past this old pine and Charlie, figuring that sooner or later he’d find himself at this moment, had not only chopped the tree partway through, he’d left the axe nearby so, if needed, he could finish the job without delay. Dropping his weapons, he snatched up the axe and attacked the pine with a frenzy. He heard the Suburban start, and redoubled his efforts. Just as the ATF rounded the curve, the tree dropped with a mighty sustained craaaack and blocked the path. The gun cops’ vehicle was trapped.

The feds vented their fear and frustration by leaping from the Suburban and blasting away at where Charlie had been. The truth was that Allen’s ruined features and their sudden reversal of fortune had unnerved the agents. They wanted out of here NOW and they thought they could shoot their way clear of this wimp who had somehow transmogrified into an invisible deadly menace.

The truth also was that here, for the first time in his career, Carmichael lost control of his men.

Without orders, two of them, Furlong and James, clambered up the bank to get at Charlie and finish this thing. As they appeared at the top of the road cut only 25 yards separated them from Charlie Quintard, sheltered behind another big pine. Their heads popped into view first.

In an instant, Furlong pitched backward with the fletching of an arrow in his left eye and a piece of flint on a broken stick protruding out the back of his brain pan.

James, right beside him, turned his head to look at his friend fall long enough to get a similar arrow through his jugular, slicing down, chipping the clavicle and then, thanks to the angle of the shot, skewering his heart. He fell dead in the brush at the top of the road cut, his booted feet hanging at an angle over the road.

Carmichael was seized by panic and wonder. Damn! Nobody can shoot a bow and arrow that fast! Could they? Are there two of them? More than two? For the first time in his life, Carmichael had the feeling he wasn’t going to be alive when the sun came up tomorrow. He didn’t like the feeling.

He wasn’t a religious man but Carmichael realized with a start that if there was a God of Abraham, He wouldn’t be too pleased about some of the ATF supervisor’s recent work. And Carmichael did not think that he would get a chance to amend his life after today.

It was unbelievable. Focus, dammit. Get a grip. Carmichael struggled to regain command of himself. How do we beat this guy? Look at our advantages. We outnumber him, but he’s already cut us down by half. We’ve got automatic rifles and submachine guns. He’s just got a bow, some arrows, a knife and maybe that tomahawk. But after losing 3 guys that didn’t look like such a big deal either. We’ve got flash bangs, but they’re not so effective out in the open.

Carmichael realized with a start that he was gazing at Furlong on the road with an arrow sticking out of his eye. Helmets. Yeah, they had ACH’s in the back of the Suburban. Why hadn’t he made his people use them? And CS grenades and gas masks. They were also in the back. We’ve been dancing to his tune, Carmichael thought. Time to change the dynamic and make him dance to ours.

They were all on the far side of the Suburban from where Charlie had fired the arrows. Chambliss was up near the front tire, Duncan in the middle and Carmichael at the rear bumper. A plan formed in Carmichael’s fevered brain.

It would work. It had to work.

Charlie also had a plan, and he knew he would have to waste at least one arrow to make it work. When he saw Duncan open the driver’s side passaenger door on the far side, he fired arrow number three into the passenger door on his side with a loud thunk that made the remaining agents duck. Then he moved.

Bastard, thought Carmichael. Thanks for telling me your position. When Duncan emerged from the interior of the Suburban, he brought helmets, gas masks and all the CS grenades they had. Carmichael told his remaining men what he wanted done. All together. No holding back. They nodded. Then they donned the gas masks and helmets.

When Carmichael judged they were ready, he first threw a CS grenade at the top of the bank to mask their movement. The wind, such as it was, carried the CS cloud slowly away from the road and toward Charlie’s position. Then they emerged from behind the vehicle, and threw six more CS grenades in an arc along their front creating a growing bank of the choking gas. Last, they threw their flashbangs into the murk. As they released the last of the flashbangs, Carmichael and Chambliss began to clamber up the bank while Duncan stood and fired suppressing bursts to pin Charlie Quintard in place behind his tree.

It was a good plan, if a bit desperate. If they had kept their heads and done it before Furlong and James had bought the farm it might have worked.

The only problem was – Charlie wasn’t there.

Duncan’s first intimation that this was so came when a flint-tipped arrow entered just above and slightly to the right of his anus and penetrated his scrotum, one of his testicles and the base of his penis. It appeared in the lower edge of his peripheral vision, sticking out of his fly like some stone age parody of an erection. Duncan lost all interest in suppressive fire. In fact, he dropped his weapon, fell to his knees, clasped his hands around the gory arrow and his ruined manhood, and began to scream.

By the time Carmichael’s brain registered that scream and concluded that something was terribly wrong with Duncan behind him, somebody hit him hard in the kidneys and his body armor sprouted a similar arrow from his lower back. Then Chambliss, stopping his climb and turning to see what all the fuss was about, took one through his right thigh laterally and slid back down the bank, adding his screaming to Duncan’s.

HE’S BEHIND US, Carmichael’s brain screamed at him.

For a man who was as frightened and disoriented as Carmichael at this moment, he actually did rather well. He glimpsed Charlie about to loose another arrow at him. In fact, all he saw was the top part of Charlie’s bow and the head and shoulders behind it.

It was enough. He raised his MP-5 and let off a long burst that emptied it.

For the uninitiated and untrained, full automatic fire is of limited utility except when fighting the Peoples Liberation Army in an alley. Absent divine intervention or uncommon luck, at anything except short ranges 99 shots out of a hundred will miss. So it was here with Carmichael’s burst at Charlie Quintard. Of course Charlie’s decision to hold the arrow shot and duck behind the tree when he saw the MP-5 start to rise was also a big factor in his continued existence on the planet.

Whew, that was close, he thought with relief. Time to go.

Charlie dropped to the forest floor out of sight of the men in the road cut and began to crawl away. Behind him, Carmichael changed magazines and, keeping low, turned toward the chorus of screams.

Chambliss had made his way over to the shelter of the Suburban and was fumbling with a battle dressing. Duncan just stayed where the arrow had found him, screaming on and on. Carmichael took it all in at a glance. Realizing Duncan could help him no longer and desperately craving silence to think, Carmichael came up behind the agent, drew his pistol and, placing the muzzle just below the back lip of the wounded man’s ACH, blew his brains out. Duncan spasmed and fell over on his side in the road, his agony of no further concern to anybody, including him.

Chambliss watched him dully, wondering despite the pain if Carmichael was going to do him too. He wasn’t. Not yet.

But what he was going to do was get the hell out of this killing zone. First, if Chambliss is going to be of use, that arrow has got to come out. Carmichael knelt down and without warning grabbed the business end of the arrow that was sticking out from Chambliss’ thigh and broke it off. Chambliss, not unexpectedly, screamed once more. Then, Carmichael grabbed the fletching sticking out of the other side and jerked the arrow free, a greasy tongue of blood trying to follow along. Using his combat knife, he cut the uniform pants away from the wound, then took the battle dressing from Chambliss’ shaking hand and applied it. Then he had Chambliss pull the arrow out of his body armor.

“Ready to travel?” Carmichael asked.

Chambliss replied, “Yeah. Where?”

“We’re going back down to the lake and see if this prick has a boat.”

The Suburban motor still ticked over. Carefully, staying as low as possible, they got Chambliss in the front passenger side. Carmichael moved around the vehicle to take the wheel. As he passed Charlie’s third arrow sticking out of the door, he angrily broke it off.

Stone age weapons. Shit.

If he got out of this, he was going to have this place nuked.

Sonofabitch.

Suddenly, randomly, a memory from the Nineties welled up. He had helped execute a search warrant on a member of the American Indian Movement. The old Sioux woman had a bumpersticker on her refrigerator door: “Custer Wore an Arrow Shirt.”

Carmichael had thought it funny then.

He didn’t now.

Gaining the driver’s seat, he slammed the door and threw the Suburban into reverse, running over the bodies of Furlong and Duncan in the mad dash down to the lake.

Charlie heard the screaming and heard the shot. In the silence that followed there was only one conclusion to draw. Damn, they’re killing their own wounded. OK, so there were maybe two of them left. At least one of those was wounded, for he heard other, different screams after the shot. They’ll go for the lake now. He knew it.

Even so, he waited for the Suburban to move as proof of his guess. Yeah, the SUV was faster than he was, but he had a straight line to run to get down there, while the Suburban had to stick to the snaky road. The Suburban moved, and Charlie Quintard began to run.

What if there wasn’t a boat? Carmichael wondered as he backed frantically down the road. The Indian didn’t have a car, why would he have a boat? In retrospect, Carmichael couldn’t believe how stupid he’d been, how arrogant and ignorant. He’d completely misread the Indian and mishandled the whole deal. Why didn’t we search the whole place, including the dock? I’d know if there was a boat then. Forget that. There HAD to be a boat there, so there must be one. It was the last thread he clung to. He really, really didn’t want to die here beside this godforsaken cabin.

And, after a fashion, he got his wish.

There were large privet bushes blocking the path of the Suburban from the dock, and they also blocked Carmichael’s view of the lake. In his panic, Carmichael failed to note that what appeared to be a driveway that dead ended at the privet actually turned to the left and went up the bluff. If he’d known he wouldn’t have cared. It was the lake that beckoned him. It was only on the lake that he might escape this uncanny, vengeful Indian with his deadly stone age weapons. The lake would save him.

When the Suburban stopped, Carmichael leaped from it with his MP-5. His intention was to leave the hobbled Chambliss to the Indian’s tender mercies and thus buy himself enough time to escape.

Chambliss tumbled from the vehicle too and realized instantly what the plan was. “Wait!” he had time to yell, then went down as another of Charlie’s arrows hit him in the buttocks and drove through to sever the femoral artery in his left leg.

Chambliss pitched forward on his face, out of the fight. He wasn’t dead yet, but he would be shortly. Roger Chambliss gave himself up to the idea, and spent his last minutes on earth thinking about his wife and kids and what an idiot he’d been not to listen to Carol when she’d begged him to get out of the ATF after Sipsey Street. When he went to meet his Maker, it was in fear that he would receive what he deserved.

Carmichael saw Chambliss go down and he realized belatedly that Charlie had been firing low to hit them where they weren’t covered by helmet or body armor. As he ran from the Suburban toward and around the privet and heading for the dock, he loosed off a burst toward the cabin where Charlie must be sheltering.

Charlie was on the side of the cabin away from the Suburban and moving to the rear so he could get a shot at Carmichael if he showed himself in the direction of the lake. The same cleared space that Agent Allen had intended to use against him now worked in his favor. Carmichael would not be able to get down there without exposing himself to Charlie’s bow.

Even so, Carmichael tried. The first arrow missed, the second hit Carmichael in the right bicep breaking his upper arm and pinning it it to his body armor. He staggered, but kept going. The next arrow also missed, but the fourth hit him in the ankle and swept him from his feet, and he landed hard still well short of the dock. The pain was excruciating.

Charlie was down to one arrow, which was nocked and ready to fly. There were more in the cabin, but for right now, this was it.

Carmichael still had his MP-5 and his pistol, but his ability to use them was strictly limited by his injuries. He never practiced weak-side shooting, thinking he’d never need it. He doubted he could even get to his pistol with his left hand and while he could spray and pray with the MP-5, he doubted he could hit Charlie unless he presented himself meekly for execution.

This did not seem likely.

So Carmichael did the only thing left to him that he could think of.

He surrendered.

“HEY!” he yelled. “Hey! I surrender! Don’t shoot me anymore!” With his left hand he fumbled with the attachment point of the MP-5’s sling.

“Throw away your guns!” responded Charlie. “I’m trying,” said Carmichael weakly. Finally, he unhooked the subgun and tossed it away. He tried to reach the pistol and couldn’t. He told Charlie so.

“All right. Just keep quiet and don’t move,” Charlie ordered. He moved up to the wounded Carmichael. Careful, Charlie told himself. Carmichael seemed deep into an appreciation of his pain, but it could be an act. He approached from Carmichael’s wounded right side, dropped his bow and drew his knife. He held the knife to Carmichael’s throat while he stripped him of his pistol and tossed it away. Then he did the same with the ATF man’s combat knife. He was about to help Carmichael up when he spotted something familiar sticking out of his combat pants’ cargo pocket.

It was his medicine bag. Carmichael saw Charlie Quintard’s eyes narrow. He had taken it from Duncan on a lark, a souvenir he was going to give to his wife. But now he saw the look on Quintard’s face and thought he saw a door closing.

“I wish you hadn’t done that,” said Charlie. He paused. “I wish you hadn’t shot Push too.”

“You said you wouldn’t shoot me,” Carmichael pleaded.

“I’m not going to shoot you,” Charlie said in a hard, flat voice, “I’m going to take you to Dead Man’s Holler.”

Carmichael felt relief wash through him. “Where is it?” he asked.

Charlie ignored him. He stripped off Carmichael’s helmet, webgear, and body armor with the ATF man alternately yelling and weeping in pain. He also broke off the arrows sticking out of Carmichael. He shreiked when the Indian did that.

“I gotta get to a doctor,” Carmichael pleaded.

“You’ll get a Doctor when you get to Dead Man’s Holler,” replied Charlie. “Where’s your flexcuffs?”

“I don’t carry them. I’m a supervisor. Chambliss might have some.”

Charlie grunted. “Don’t move,” he ordered.

Carmichael, holding onto the hope of Dead Man’s Hollow, did as he was told. Policing up Carmichael’s weapons and his own bow as he went, Charlie went over to Chambliss’ still form by the Suburban. He was dead. He also had two pairs of flexcuffs.

Leaving the weapons on the ground, Charlie returned to Carmichael and, pulling the zipties tight, he cuffed the ATF man’s hands and feet.

“Hey!” protested Carmichael, “You don’t have to do that.”

“Yes, I do,” said Charlie. “I’ll be back in a few minutes. Don’t go anywhere,” he said with a faint smile.

The ATF agent cursed, gritting his teeth in pain.

In less than five minutes, Carmichael heard the Suburban drive away. And after a long half hour, it came back. Charlie appeared and hoisted Carmichael, first to his feet and then in a fireman’s carry onto Quintard’s back.

Even through his pain, Carmichael marveled at the Indian’s strength. Damn, I’m twice his size and he tosses me around like a pillow.

When they got around the privet bushes, Carmichael saw the Suburban was stacked with the bodies of his men, across the width of the back floor and seat. They had been systematically stripped of their weapons, helmets, body armor, radios and load bearing vests. Quintard had even taken their boots. Charlie set him down by the front passenger door, which was open. He was none too gentle and Carmichael screamed. Then Charlie picked him up and put him in the passenger seat. Taking one of the dead agent’s belts he had scavenged, Quintard ran it through a bracket on the seat and the flex cuffs on Carmichael’s legs, connecting the two.

“I’ll drive,” he said with another one of those enigmatic half-smiles.

The Suburban smelled of blood, shit and brains as it ground its way up the bluff road toward Dead Man’s Holler. Every bounce was a purgatory of pain for Carmichael. Charlie Quintard was humming, but Carmichael couldn’t make out the tune. Finally, they came to the top, crested the bluff and began to go down. A few hundred yards later they were staring at the lake, which was about fifty yards down the hill. Charlie stopped the vehicle and set the parking brake.

Before he got out, Charlie put down the all of the door windows in the vehicle about 2 inches or so. He took two more belts and secured the steering wheel.

Carmichael finally realized in horror what was about to happen. “You can’t!” he shouted at Charlie.

“Hey,” said Charlie, “None of that. You said you wanted to go to Dead Man’s Holler and here we are. You see, it got its name from being a deep ravine down by the old river bed where, every now and again back in the 1800s, somebody would dump a dead man’s body in it. When Smith Lake backed up over it after they built the dam, it filled up with water and became the deepest part of the lake. Phil Gordon’s family homestead used to be down there. And that’s where yer goin’.”

“YOU CAN’T!” screamed Carmichael.

Charlie Quintard looked at him without remorse. “That’s what I said just before you killed my dog.” Charlie reached in, pulled the brake release and slammed the door as the Suburban surrendered to the force of gravity and began to trundle down the road toward the water.

“NO!” he heard Carmichael scream, just before the vehicle hit the water with a huge splash and glided farther out into the lake just about dead center over Dead Man’s Hollow. As the SUV began to settle into its final plunge, Charlie wondered if Carmichael knew why he called it ‘Dead Man’s Holler’ instead of ‘Dead Man’s Hollow’. Quintard was educated enough to know the correct pronunciation. Yeah, he spoke natural Winston County southern, so Hollow would normally come out ‘Holler’ anyway.

But he called it Dead Man’s Holler for another reason.

Just as the SUV nosed down into its final dive, the dead man inside started to holler, “NOOOOO!”

He did so, until he ran out of air somewhere just short of the bottom of Smith Lake.

Charlie turned and walked back up the bluff. He still had to bury Pushmataha. Even so, he was humming.

Well the Good Book says, and I know its the truth,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
You’d better watch where you go
And remember where you’ve been.
That’s the way I see it, I’m a simple man.

(To be continued . . .)

>Living in an Imperial World: A National Surveillance State to Watch Over Me

>Following on the heels of NYC’s recent decision to emulate inner London’s “ring of steel” comes this note from Washington DC media on the latest outbreak in unregulated governmental “security” surveillance.

An excerpt from the NYPD story:

***
…The NYPD is looking to install permanent license plate scanners at each of the 20 crossings into Manhattan as part of an elaborate new safety scheme.

“We can’t deny the reality that we’ve had two attacks at that location – two successful terrorist attacks,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

The security ring would coordinate the scanners, 3,000 public and private security cameras, as well as radiation detectors capable of tracking a dirty bomb entering Manhattan. The plan is designed to prevent an attack on the rebuilt Trade Center.

The plan, as first outlined by the Daily News in April, improves on London’s famed “Ring of Steel” with a $106 million program of barriers and guard booths encircling the World Trade Center footprint.

By the time the 16-acre World Trade Center site is restored, the NYPD hopes to have 100 license plate scanners working below Canal St., police said.

“Our goal is to make lower Manhattan the safest and the most inviting business area in the world,” Kelly said yesterday.

License plate information would be held for 30 days, and then purged, if not needed for an investigation, Kelly said…
***

Here’s the Washington metro gist:

***
…Officials from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia have agreed to install 200 license plate readers on police vehicles, at airports and along roads. The plan announced Friday will be funded by federal homeland security grants for the area.

Britain used the readers in the 1990s to deter Irish Republican Army attacks. But in the United States, the devices have mostly been used to regulate parking or catch car thieves.

The readers will scan every license plate that passes by and will run the numbers through federal criminal and terrorist databases…
***

Where is this all headed?

The Belmont Club gives us some perspective, as does this new paper from Yale Law School Professor Jack Balkin.

Take the time to read these articles (especially that of Professor Balkin), and then ask yourself the following four questions:

1. How do free men and women fight and defeat these technologies?

2. Assuming that global resistance can be mustered against the surveillance state, how do free men and women hold the government leaders who implemented these Orwellian technologies accountable?

3. Or is already too late?

4. And if it is too late, what exactly does that mean for thought criminals who believe in individual freedom and responsibility, limited government, unalienable human rights, and a place once known as the “land of the free and the home of the brave”?

Orwell tells us the most likely scenario:

…It was always at night – the arrests invariably happened at night. The sudden jerk out of sleep, the rough hand shaking your shoulder, the lights glaring in your eyes, the ring of hard faces round the bed. In the vast majority of cases there was no trial, no report of the arrest. People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers. Every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word.

It was unusual for political offenders to be put on trial or even publicly denounced. The great purges involving thousands of people, with public trials of traitors and thought-criminals who made abject confession of their crimes and were afterwards executed, were special show-pieces not occurring oftener than once in a couple of years. More commonly, people who had incurred the displeasure of the Party simply disappeared and were never heard of again. One never had the smallest clue as to what had happened to them. The only real clue lay in the words ‘refs unpersons’, which indicated that the person was dead. He did not exist: he had never existed. Perhaps thirty people personally known to Winston, not counting his parents, had disappeared at one time or another. Very occasionally some person whom you had believed dead long since would make a ghostly reappearance at some public trial where he would implicate hundreds of others by his testimony before vanishing, this time for ever.

The proper thing was to kill yourself before they got you. Undoubtedly some people did so. But it needed desperate courage to kill yourself in a world where firearms, or any quick and certain poison, were completely unprocurable…
***

However, in the next chapter, Orwell also suggests that resistance – however defined and however dubious its chances – is its own justification:

***
…He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear. But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken. It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage. He went back to the table, dipped his pen, and wrote:

To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone — to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink — greetings!

He was already dead, he reflected. It seemed to him that it was only now, when he had begun to be able to formulate his thoughts, that he had taken the decisive step. The consequences of every act are included in the act itself. He wrote:

Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death.


Now he had recognized himself as a dead man it became important to stay alive as long as possible… (emphasis added)
***

Why?

For one suggestion, the Marines amongst our readers will recognize Lieutenant General Lewis “Chesty” Puller’s classic statement in defiance of overwhelming odds (a pretty good sitrep for the pro-freedom forces at this time):

“We’re surrounded. That simplifies the problem.”

Sic semper tyrannis.

>Infinite Arrogance Redux

>Once again, David Hardy’s Arms & the Law blog gets the hat-tip for more proof of the chasm that exists between the elites in our country and the rest of us.

Last time, it was FBI Director Robert Mueller.

This time, it’s Judge Richard Posner of the Federal Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most influential Federal judges in legal circles, and his take on Heller.

Read the whole thing, but this excerpt will give you the flavor:

***
…Politically conscious Americans in the late eighteenth century feared standing armies, having fought the British army in the Revolution, and feared centralized government (as in Britain); and on both counts they wanted to make sure that the states would be allowed to have armed militias. The federal government could regulate them but not disarm them. The fear was that in the absence of such a provision in the Bill of Rights, the provision in Article I of the Constitution authorizing Congress to organize, arm, discipline, and call into service “the Militia” (a term that embraces the state militias, because the same provision reserves the right to train and officer “the Militia” to the respective states) would enable Congress to disarm them. That fear surfaced in the debates over the ratification of the original Constitution and was, as Justice John Paul Stevens’s dissenting opinion explains, the motivation for the Second Amendment.

The text of the amendment, whether viewed alone or in light of the concerns that actuated its adoption, creates no right to the private possession of guns for hunting or other sport, or for the defense of person or property. It is doubtful that the amendment could even be thought to require that members of state militias be allowed to keep weapons in their homes, since that would reduce the militias’ effectiveness. Suppose part of a state’s militia was engaged in combat and needed additional weaponry. Would the militia’s commander have to collect the weapons from the homes of militiamen who had not been mobilized, as opposed to obtaining them from a storage facility? Since the purpose of the Second Amendment, judging from its language and background, was to assure the effectiveness of state militias, an interpretation that undermined their effectiveness by preventing states from making efficient arrangements for the storage and distribution of military weapons would not make sense…
***

And yes, boys and girls, the post-Heller litigation attacking Illinois’ gun laws will come before the Seventh Circuit, if there are appeals.

Think Posner’s alone amongst his 7th Circuit judicial comrades (as well as the rest of the Federal bench) in believing that natural rights, as explicitly enumerated in the Constitution, should be subject to local majority rule?

See this excerpt from page 3 of the article:

***
Heller gives short shrift to the values of federalism, and to the related values of cultural diversity, local preference, and social experimentation. A majority of Americans support gun rights. But if the District of Columbia (or Chicago or New York) wants to ban guns, why should the views of a national majority control? Is that democracy, or is it Rousseau’s forced conformity to the “general will”? True, a member of a national majority can be a member of a minority within a local area: gun buffs in Washington, D.C., for example. But a person who is a member of a local minority but a national majority can relocate to a part of the country in which the national majority rules. A resident of Washington can move to northern Virginia. This is not to say that there should be no national rights–that Mississippi should be permitted to stone adulterers, or Rhode Island to ban The Da Vinci Code. But the question of whether to nationalize an issue in the name of the Constitution calls for an exercise of judgment; and when the nation is deeply divided over an issue to which the Constitution does not speak with any clarity, and a uniform national policy would override differences in local conditions, nationalization may be premature…
***

But Heller was a famous victory…

As long as the those wielding the hammer of Government power “do it to Julia” and the rest of the radical ‘SNBI’ extremists.

Tempus fugit.

>The Way

>
Jonathan left a comment on yesterday’s Lessons from True “No Compromise” Resisters post which deserves a wider audience:

From the Hagakure:

PREDETERMINED HONOR

A warrior should be set on bravery in his heart before the need to be brave arises. This way he will choose the proper course of action the instant a situation arises. This resolution should be evident in one’s daily speech and actions.

Please take the time and read this work.

Thank you, Jonathan, for pointing to another path on the Way.

Tempus fugit.

>Lessons from True "No Compromise" Resisters

> This brief essay illustrates the importance of imagination and determination when facing a superior enemy force:

***
…Chechen guerillas utilized personal initiative, flexibility and “street smarts” to overwhelm and confuse a superior force. These forces learned and experienced many tactics and lessons about fighting in cities. These include:

1. You need to culturally educate your forces so that you don’t end up being your own worst enemy out of cultural ignorance. Once insulted or mistreated, the Chechens civilians became active fighters or supported the active fighters.

2. Training and discipline are paramount!

3. Know your opponent and his turf.

4. Societies are run by different methods. Some are governed by the rule of law, others by the rule of men. Some are governed by religious or local tradition, and still others by the tradition or customs of the clan.

5. In addition to understanding one’s opponent, an attacker must know the urban terrain over which he will fight.

6. The Chechens not only knew the city’s sewer, metro and tram systems intimately, they also knew the back alleys, buildings, and streets.

7. Russian forces often got lost, finding themselves in Chechen ambushes or exchanging fire with friendly forces. Chechens took down street signs and repositioned them in cleverly misleading positions.

8. An understanding of the city infrastructure offers advantages.

9. Grozny was a three tiered fight (upper floors of buildings, street level and subterranean levels)

10. The Chechens were proficient at booby – trapping doorways, breakthrough areas, entrances to metros and sewers, discarded equipment, and the bodies of dead soldiers.

11. Russian wounded and dead were hung upside down in windows of defended Chechen positions. Russian had to shoot at the bodies to engage the Chechens. Russian prisoners were decapitated and their heads placed on curbs leading into the city, over which Russian replacements and reinforcements had to travel.

12. The Chechens used mobile tactics and let the situation do the organizing.

13. Chechens were not afraid of tanks and BMPs.

14. Sniper teams ruled the city, they could be found in trenches, rooftops, and sewers. Sniper teams would dig beneath concrete slabs. These slabs could be raised with car jacks when Russian forces approached, providing firing positions and then dropped back down. Russian forces struggled to discern what was merely rubble and what was a kill zone.

15. Chechens forces allegedly used chlorine and ammonia bombs, set oil wells on fire to obscure fields of vision and rigged entire building complexes with explosive.

16. Anticipate communication problems. The chief factor in communication breakdown was simply the vertical obstacles posed by urban structures.

17. The Chechens exploited the use of cell phones. Motorola radios, improvised TV stations, light video cameras, and the Internet.

18. Personal hygiene is of paramount importance. In less than a month 20% of the Russian soldiers were suffering from viral infections. Viral hepatitis and cholera were the two major diseases. Lack of clean drinking water was the source. Viral hepatitis fell off during summer months, but was replaced with severe bowel infections.

19. The Minister of Defense Pavel Grachev boldly predictated he could take Grozny with a single Airborne brigade in two hours. The brigade consisted of 1,000 soldiers. By January 3rd the brigade had lost nearly 800 men, 20 of 26 tanks, and 102 of 120 armored vehicles.

20. Perhaps the most important point may be there is no “standard urban combat operation.”
***

“From my cold dead hands” is a political statement with tactical consequences.

So is “Do it to Julia!“.

Tempus fugit.

>Vanderboegh: Green

>
Green

by Mike Vanderboegh

(Another chapter of “Absolved”, an upcoming novella)

Nothing had worked out like it was supposed to, but that was combat.

It had been true in Iraq and it was true here.

Who was it said “no plan survives contact with the enemy”? Laidlaw wondered. Whoever it was had been shot at and that was for sure and certain.

Laidlaw had been shot at. He’d been shot at a lot during one eventful period of his young life. A couple of them had even connected. Once in al Nasiriyah on the first tour, but that had been barely more than a scratch. He was almost embarrassed to take the Purple Heart. On his second tour, he’d been hit hard in the left leg. It was an inch shorter now, but after his rehab and discharge, he could still maneuver.

Barely.

But at least then he’d been fighting with other pros. This – well, this was an invitation to die with stupid newbies. They were a danger to themselves and a danger to him and it was a damned shame that a bunch of them were sure to die this day and it was all so preventable.

Or at least, it had been.

Time’s up, Cathcart, you idiot.

Laidlaw looked to his left, across the street. The leader of his militia unit, Charles Carlos Cathcart (didn’t his daddy like him?), peeked around the corner at the objective and almost lost his head to a burst from one of those Brightfire pricks with a SAW.

Cathcart jerked his head back, his face pinched, white as a ghost, his hands visibly trembling even from here. Their eyes locked briefly, the entreaty plain to Laidlaw. HELP ME, said the look.

Cathcart broke contact first, looking at the ground. Jeez, he didn’t even think to bring a steel mirror to look around corners.

Well, hell, I tried to tell him, didn’t I? Didn’t I?!?

Cathcart, Laidlaw knew, didn’t have a clue about what to do next. Neither did about 95% of his unit, which included veterans as old a 56 and kids as young as 14, some of ‘em girls. Hell, most of the “veterans” had never been seriously shot at by somebody who meant it and knew how. They had DD-214s, sure, but it was the nature of the military that the overwhelming majority of vets were support troops, rear echelon pogues, what his Daddy in Southeast Asia had called “REMFs.”

And Cathcart, who had a knack for getting people to follow him but an inability to lead, had been a vehicle mechanic. Oh, his heart was in the right place, and he had guts – but his brain was still trying to catch up.

And time was something Cathcart no longer had, Laidlaw knew.

Well, it wasn’t like I didn’t try to tell him. Cathcart’s problem was that he was too lazy and too desperate to be liked by his people to insist on the training they’d needed before this day. Oh, they’d gone through some half-hearted FTXs, but when Laidlaw had tried to get serious about them, Cathcart had undercut him.

Wouldn’t even let me condition them properly, Laidlaw thought bitterly.

“We’re not the Airborne,” Cathcart had whined in explanation, “we’re militia.”

“My guys do it,” he’d insisted, “even Bobby Marcus and he’s 16 and a couch potato before I got ahold of him. Now he’s a lean, mean kid. He ain’t a killer yet, but he will be if he has to.”

Didn’t make a dent in Cathcart. He just didn’t know what was coming down the pike then, and now he hasn’t got a clue what to do about it.

Before Laidlaw had joined up, the most Cathcart would have his people do was paintball. PAINTBALL, fer cryin’ out loud. OK, maybe you got some phys ed out of it, but it taught all the wrong tactical lessons. People actually thought concealment was cover. Besides, what was cover for a paintball wouldn’t even be noticed by a 5.56 or 7.62 NATO projectile on its way to rip out your guts or blow off your head.

Well, those weren’t paintballs eroding the bricks six inches in front of Cathcart’s nose, blowing chips and dust all over the place.

NOW do you understand the DIFFERENCE?

Oh, hell, get a grip, he told himself. If Cathcart lives you can tell him “I told you so,” but he knows that already. How am I going to get these good people through this without ALL of them getting killed?

Especially, he thought selfishly, ME.

Laidlaw looked behind him at his squad arrayed along the outer back wall of the auto parts store. Good, he noted with pride, they were set up the way I taught them, 360 all round, weapons ready, eyeballs seeking danger. Scared as shitless as Cathcart, but they were ready in spite of it.

Training did that.

Manny Shinstein, his assistant squad leader, was smiling. Yeah, Manny had been here before too.

Shinstein cocked his head in Cathcart’s direction and began to hand sign.

“He’s shitting bricks, isn’t he?”

Manny and Laidlaw shared an unusual circumstance for folks who lived on the same street in a small Tennessee town. Both their wives were deaf. Funny how things worked out that way. But Manny was good people. An ex-Marine, Shinstein had been to Fallujah twice. Billie and Sheri had met at some function for the deaf, and become immediate friends. That drew Manny and him together. It didn’t take Laidlaw long to forgive Manny Shinstein for being a jarhead.

They discovered they had a lot in common, including a sick sense of humor that started with Monty Python and got worse as well as a mutual penchant for playing the Dropkick Murphys at a decibel level beyond pain. When the neighbors complained, Manny told the cop with the face and sincerity of the choirboy he’d never been (he was after all Jewish) that since his wife was deaf, the only way she could enjoy music was by the vibration and didn’t the cop know about the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Crazy bastard got away with it, too. The neighbors even apologized.

Laidlaw winked back at Manny. Truth was, Shinstein had a bad case of PTSD, and how he kept a lid on it was impressive to Laidlaw. Getting rocked by three IEDs will do that to you.

CRAP, LAIDLAW, GET YOUR MIND OUT OF IRAQ AND WRAP IT AROUND THIS LITTLE TACTICAL PROBLEM HERE, his brain screamed at him.

I’ve been down this street a hundred times, he thought, yet I can’t visualize what’s on the other side, across the street from the auto parts store. That’s something else bullets do to you, they mess with your mind. I’ve got to get a look at these bastards and work it from there. First, I gotta make sure Cathcart doesn’t do anything stupid while I’m gone. He waved to get Cathcart’s attention and began to hand signal. Finally Cathcart nodded, and the relief was plain on his face.

Well, thought Laidlaw, he really did pay attention when we covered that in the first FTX after I joined up. Good.

Signalling Manny to hold where they were with the rest of the squad, Laidlaw pointed out two of his troopers to follow him. They trotted down to the old wooden back door of the store. The squad adjusted behind them. I’ll bet there’s a iron bar on the other side.

Maybe two.

Bill Bushatz, a young kid fresh out of high school who had started as fullback all four years, was the designated entry man. The boy was big enough to tote the entry tool without strain and muscular enough to use it.

His dad had been arrested in one of the first ATF raids of Operation Clean Sweep, but when Laidlaw got to the unit, Cathcart had Bill carrying his radio and being his general flunky and dogrobber. Laidlaw spotted the boy’s true worth and persuaded Cathcart to let him have him “temporarily.” After getting used to Laidlaw’s ways, Bushatz refused to go back to being a flunky. Which, of course, is what Laidlaw had expected.

The squad leader pointed his desire, and Bushatz took out the hinge side of the door, low, high and in the middle — one, BAM, two, BAM, gasp for breath, three, BAM, CLANG!. The door sagged inward, but was caught by the bar. Reaching around the splintered doorjam, Bushatz’ battle buddy John Reynolds got a grip on the bar, pulled upward, shoved in and released it. With another clang it hit the floor. With another shove, the door followed. They entered precisely per the MOUT drill he’d taught them, the tactical lights on their weapons penetrating the gloom of the back of the store.

Once inside, they halted, looking, listening, letting their vision adjust, weapons still at the ready. It was a Sunday, and no one was in the store. Laidlaw spotted a set of old wooden stairs leading up to the second floor. Signalling Bushatz to remain, he and Reynolds moved up the stairs, and then forward down the upper hallway.

The floor was thick with dust. Nobody had been up here in years. Laidlaw moved cautiously up to the begrimed, cob-webbed window that overlooked the street, which was now a battlefield. Reynolds automatically took up station covering the rear.

Again, Laidlaw felt a tightening of his throat in pride. Reynolds was another kid, still in high school, what was he, maybe 17? He had never heard a round come uprange in anger. He too was scared to death, but he was doing his job, simply because he’d done it so often in training it was second nature.

Ignoring Cathcart’s wimpy FTX scehdule, Laidlaw had worked his guys hard for months, every spare minute they could all get together. Constant physical conditioning. Classroom sessions followed by walk-through rehearsals in the abandoned metal fabricating plant down by the river, or up in the national forest forty miles away, then full-blown exercises with blanks and disorienting bird bombs and home-made pyrotechnics rolled by Manny — what he called “my Shinstein Shitters.”

Twice he’d fired live rounds over their heads or down well-marked lanes to the side so they would know what an incoming round sounded like.

The fire outside had slackened. Brightfire’s waiting for us and Cathcart’s waiting for me.

OK, fine. From the shelter of the brick wall flanking the window, Laidlaw studied the scene, taking care to keep out of the light that fitfully streamed in the dirty glass as clouds paraded past in front of the late morning sun. Backing up deeper into the gloom, he repositioned himself on the other side and looked down and across the street to the west this time. Memory now filled in the rest of the picture he could not see.

The one-story stone building that Brightfire had taken refuge in was a law office and stoutly built. This was Water Street, so named because it ran haphazardly along the river to its back. The ground sloped steeply behind the buildings on the opposite side of the street, through brush and trees on the bank. The reason Brightfire had chosen this building was burning merrily in front of it. Tires shredded by the ambush it had escaped only because one of Cathcart’s nervous troops had allowed himself to be seen, the Hummer belched black smoke that swirled down Water Street in the stiff breeze.

A dead mercenary sat upright behind the wheel, slowly barbequeing. What did that leave, five of them? Four?

Laidlaw’s squad had been assigned the kill zone of the ambush, and even after it was blown they managed to get the other two vehicles in the convoy, the lead Hummer and and the five ton truck full of detainees. By some miracle, only two of the now-liberated prisoners had been wounded in the process. That, Laidlaw reflected, was another cause for pride. The squad leader had made sure that all of his men and boys, and one girl, could shoot. And when it had come down to it, they’d shot well.

But the trail vehicle hadn’t entered the kill zone and although one of the security elements had luckily shot it up enough to stop it, the mercenaries, aside from Mr. Crispy there, had made it to the law office. Lucky for them. Probably the stoutest building on Water Street.

OK. Their reaction force has got to be mounting up by now. Air cover probably inbound NOW. What, fifteen minutes, maybe less? We’re running out of time and we ought to be fading — right now.

Leave ‘em? Burn ‘em out? The stone walls wouldn’t burn, that was for sure. We’ve got no heavy weapons. What I wouldn’t give for a couple of Javelins or even an AT-4, although the stone structure looked stout enough to turn an AT-4.

THINK.

M203. In the windows. Hell, yeah.

He’d seen one down on the road in the kill zone and ordered it policed up. Who’d got it?

He keyed his squad radio. “Manny, send up that M203 and all the rounds we got.”

“Roger.”

A pause, and then: “Cathcart’s looking like he’s about to do something.”

“Shit! Tell that dopey bastard to keep his dick in his pants, I’ve got this thing licked.”

“I’m trying . . Oh, SHIT!”

Cathcart had been sweating ever since Laidlaw had disappeared into the building. WHAT was taking so long? They had to go, didn’t he know that? They had to finish this thing NOW, before help arrived.

It didn’t help that the squad on his left flank was commanded by Duke Conners, a guy with more testosterone than brains who had watched too many war movies over his 36 years. Conners noted that the SAW firing at his people seemed to be unable to depress its muzzle enough to engage them. The tracers were going head high and no lower. This was his big chance. If he could just get in there and toss some of their improvised hand grenades in the side windows this would be all over. Connors knew that Cathcart was uncertain. That damn Laidlaw was just nervous in the service.

Big bad veteran. So what?

This wasn’t so tough. He’d talked Cathcart into it, and now he, Duke Conners, was going to finish this thing.

It would have been worse if fully half of Conners’ squad hadn’t disobeyed him out of inexperience, indiscipline, fear or uncommon good sense. When Duke ordered the entire squad to keep low and charge the building, only five people followed him. The rest hung back, firing in support but not venturing from cover.

For two seconds, maybe three, long enough to take them past the point of no return and fully into the middle of the street, the SAW continued firing high.

Then it shifted.

Not one of them made it, either to the stone building or back to safety. Duke Connors’ spine was, in part, blown out his back along with chunks of gut and muscle and as his legs quit working he pitched headlong onto the pavement. He bounced once and slid to a stop on his face. Duke’s vision flickered long enough to register the fact that his 16 year old son Jeff lay dead three yards away, his head exploded.

Then Duke Conners died. The lumber mill supervisor hadn’t watched enough war movies to keep from being fooled by the oldest trick in the machinegunner’s book, one that dated back to the first World War.

Cathcart watched the destruction of Conner’s squad in horrified disbelief, focusing on the small form of young Jeff Conners, still twitching and jerking as the gunner played part of another belt across the corpses, in an effort to get one of their friends to do something stupid in reaction. Filled with equal parts of wrath, hatred and guilt, Charles Carlos Cathcart obliged him and stepped from cover to engage the gun. A Brightfire rifleman, firing from another window, put a bullet through his head.

Jenny Wilson delivered the M-203 to Laidlaw just as Conners’ valiant but doomed half dozen broke from cover. By that time, Laidlaw had moved to the front office to the left off the hallway and eased up the window until he had an unobstructed shot at the law office’s front windows. Wilson’s chest was heaving and her eyes were wide, but she’d shouldered that M16A2 with the grenade launcher since the ambush. And it was she who’d put two rounds through the officer in truck’s cab, thereby saving at least some of the detainees from murder. Laidlaw had been resistant when she insisted she wanted to be in his squad. He knew it was because she was sweet on Bill Bushatz.

But try as he might, he couldn’t run her off. He tried running her into the ground, grinding her down in PT, picking on her for every dirty detail. He couldn’t scare her and he couldn’t run her off. She not only did her job and carried her own weight, she had better military sense than most of the rest of his squad, always awake and alert, always THINKING. He had her marked for Corporal if she stood up to seeing the elephant. Well, she had. And now she watched her squad leader with intensity, curous to see how this unfamiliar weapon worked.

Laidlaw heard the round that fatally compromised the integrity of Cathcart’s braincase, and saw the window it had come from. OK, bastard, you first. He keyed the mike. “Manny, four rounds, take it when I’m done.” “Roger. Four rounds.”

They were easy shots and Laidlaw was well experienced with the 203. With the range so short, he didn’t even flip up the sights. The first HE round sailed through the window hole and blew up within, debris flying out the window. Laidlaw switched to the other front window to the left of the door and did likewise with it. Then he put two rounds into the doorway. The first hit the top hinge and blew the door partially out of the jam and down, creating a hole that the fourth and final round sailed through, exploding deep within the building.

Instantly Manny took the squad across the street and assaulted the law office. A few muffled bursts and it was over. Manny came out a minute later, hoisting a Squad Automatic Weapon over his right shoulder.

By the time the first Brightfire gunship came over the ambush site and then floated down to the river and hovered over the law office, the militia, now commanded by Lawrence “Larry” Laidlaw (nobody called him Lawrence) had vanished. Even the bodies of their fallen had been policed up.

Laidlaw watched the chopper circle ineffectually through 7×50 binoculars from a distant tree line. He turned to the young and old men and women (no boys and girls now) who were nearby and ordered, “Move out.”

One thing was certain. There was going to be a lot more training in their future.

A whole lot more.

>The Penalty is Always Death

>
In a society that has utterly lost the essential distinction between malum in se offenses and malum prohibitum violations with its ever-burgeoning number of enumerated felonies enforceable by multiple agencies at the local, state, and Federal levels of government, this essay slices through the cant.

Sample:

***
…The State’s ultimate penalty for real crime (initiations of force or fraud against people or their property) as well as all those non-crimes the State takes umbrage at is always death. This is the nature of the State; killing is the instrument by which it maintains itself.

To be sure, the State is mostly careful to not exercise the penalty too often. The system of compulsion and coercion, backed by the ultimate tool of death, is one which States have learned functions much better when the sword is cloaked in layers of misdirection and abstraction. The simple — and perhaps more honest — compulsion of the local tyrant demanding of his subjects, “Do it thus, or I shall kill you,” has been replaced with a long chain of escalation beginning with paper things like demands for compliance and citations, leading through more forceful papers such as summonses and warrants, but ultimately grounded upon the power of that barely-concealed blade.

If we accept the natural-rights view of self defense as given by libertarian theory, we can see that the penalty for every infraction is death.

Fail to pay your taxes? You will be killed.

Consume a proscribed substance? Death awaits you.

Neglect or ignore some trivial regulation? Murder is your fate.

“Oh come now,” they will cry, “the government doesn’t kill people for not paying their taxes!” In general this is true. In general people are compliant, whether out of worship or fear.

But as situations escalate from non-compliance to the State’s demand for enforcement, be sure that the blade remains ready to plunge into the belly of the scofflaw.

I’m quite fond of hyperbolic examples. Let’s make one now…
***

Read the whole thing, and reflect on where we are today, as well as where we are headed.

Hat-tip to Billy Beck, who synopsizes the issue as follows:

“At the bottom of every stack of government paperwork there always lies a well-oiled and loaded .45.”

Tempus fugit.

>Vanderboegh: The Value of Gunpowder

>
Go read Mike’s latest at Chris Horton’s place.

Enjoy.

Think.

And do.

Tempus fugit.

>Liberty Stickers

>Go to Liberty Stickers for more.


And isn’t someone working on the III stencil?

Tempus fugit.

>Coming Soon

>Cited in Monday’s edition of Rawles’ SurvivalBlog is this brief transcript of a upcoming conversation being actively considered by many folks in the several States:

***

“Good Morning, Governor, how might we…”

“Mr. President, I realize you are a busy man so let’s get down to brass tacks…we are calling the ball and withdrawing our support of your Administration and the Federal government in DC. Effective immediately, we have coordinated to place all outgoing receipts to the IRS in a caged account here in Boise…”

“Governor, you can’t do that…”

“Please don’t interrupt while I am speaking as we are from this point onward peers in the family of nations. I hope you have reviewed the diplomatic instruments we sent by courier last night to Department of State which delineates the terms of our divorce.”

“I did receive those and you have no earthly idea the can of whoop-…”

“Please, sir, maintain the decorum of these proceedings so we can move forward to an amicable separation. I give you my personal assurance on the safety and well-being of all Federal personnel we have detained for immediate repatriation to the remainder of these United States. Any non-law enforcement Federal personnel who wish to remain behind will be permitted to do so.”

“I hope you have thought through the consequences of what you are embarking on.”

“Mr. President, we have had over two hundred years to give the rulers on the Potomac a chance but that time has expired. Effective immediately, all so-called Federal lands now belong to the nation of Idaho and we will dispose of these lands at our leisure. In the interest of burying the hatchet, we will not seek compensation for the seizure, abuse and tenure of Federal practices on the aforementioned land and call the balance even…”
***

Read the rest here.

Tempus fugit.