As promised and, again, exclusively at FPC. Not a member? Then, join at www.freedompreppercommunity.com.
And a Pardon in a Pear Tree
London City Airport, Early Evening…
No one had explained a word about the sudden change in scenery. An outside NHS doctor spent over an hour assessing his general condition, at intervals consulting with nurses and his solitary handlers. He thought he’d asked for his attorney or his advocate, but he simply couldn’t remember. The flat American accents had tipped him off, and if he was honest, he had long suspected this day would come. They didn’t even ask him to sign anywhere, nor did they present him any writ or order. Four sturdy men in suits, in addition to the usual guards, had escorted him from the infirmary to the transfer bay. Two of these bespoke Yankees rode along with him in the back of an SUV. He thought he glimpsed unmarked police cars in a short procession, but he wasn’t sure.
Little of it, any of it, made sense. And he didn’t have much time to process what was happening. Nearly a decade of hiding, waiting, and suffering had crawled by him, only for this evening’s unexplained venture from Belmarsh, and the short, fast drive under the Thames (he guessed it was the Blackwall Tunnel), and now he was securely in the custody of – someone. Who were his new friends? The FBI? CIA? As the surprisingly well-appointed business jet began to swing around on its approach to the lone runway, he realized something. Whoever they were, they had not shackled him!
In fact, once on board, they had begun treating him rather well, more like a guest than a prisoner. Something in the cabin smelled sweet, familiar almost. He was seated in a comfortable leather chair and was just sipping from a bottle of Perrier when the pilot hastily announced their imminent departure. One of these agents, if that was the word, a large man seated across a small table from him, gestured for him to fasten his seatbelt. The gesture came with a smile, something to which he was no longer accustomed. No sooner than he had secured himself and turned to gaze out the window than the plane launched forward, soon climbing over the River, passing on the one side a sewage plant and, on the other, the sewer of a prison he’d of late called his home. In a few minutes, he realized they must have already been closing on the Delta, heading, he assumed, due east towards Antwerp. He couldn’t be exactly certain, but there came the feeling that the craft slowed in the air and subtly turned to the south – to what degree, he did not know.
And, just as he gave thought to another effervescent sip and perhaps a request for something solid to eat, another man kindly invited him forward to the flight deck. Entering through the open cockpit door, he beheld before and below him, shrouded in moving darkness, what he took for the Channel and, far ahead, the lights of the Continent. Two men sat under dim lights behind a sea of screens and controls. The younger one, on the right, was dressed in a similar if more understated fashion as the rest of the crew. He looked like the government issue. The other man, older, and obviously in charge of the flight, bore an altogether different look and demeanor. He was half slouched over to his left, with his arm resting near the window. His right hand lazily, casually held the yoke. His black hair, flecked with sprinkled salt, was shaggier than one would have assumed, as was his short, stubbly beard. He was chewing on a cigar and wore, over powerfully-built arms and shoulders, what could only be described as the tackiest of Christmas sweaters. Upon entering, he caught the end of a short conversation between the pilots.
The older casual man on the left was quipping in answer to something: ‘…Corona is a hoax, Biden didn’t win, and Gina didn’t kill herself. Eff- it!’
‘Yeah, right. Listen, RAF and the Bude are blowing up again about it, Tom,’ said the younger man on the right, ‘like it popped up out of nowhere.’
Unperturbed, the man of the left gave a dry response: ‘I know. Ninety-high and tracking our position perfectly?’
‘You know?’ the young man asked incredulously.
‘Yeah,’ the older man hummed, ‘or, I suspected. He’s with us. An escort.’
‘Then, who is he?’ asked the younger man.
He could no longer contain his bewilderment. ‘Whose plane is this?’ he asked, more to the older man.
The whimsical pilot immediately pivoted around and smiled sincerely. ‘My brother-in-law’s!’ he said happily. ‘Well, he bought it, as a tax write-off and so forth, but I get to fly her. Keep her down in Hickory. She’s not a lot of use most of the time, what with the price of fuel but, for this jaunt, Uncle Sucker is picking up the whole tab!’
‘Who are you?’ he asked, feeling even more bewildered than before.
‘I’m Tom,’ the pilot said, extending his hand (leaving the yoke floating momentarily), ‘and this is Freddy,’ he said nodding to the younger man who smiled slightly at the introduction. ‘May I call you Julian?’ Tom asked.
‘Yes, uh, yes, that’s me,’ was Julian’s answer, before he ventured another question: ‘Are you CIA?’
‘No,’ the pilot said flatly and proudly. ‘The guys in the back are Marshals, or Secret Service, or something or another. Freddy here is Company, but I’m not. Not anymore. I’m just a guy with some cheap time and a plane. Welcome aboard the White Hat Express!’
He stumbled through his more recent memories for a moment before uttering: ‘Tom? You’re the professor?’
‘At your service, pen pal!’ Tom replied with a smile.
‘You two have been corresponding?’ Freddie asked with sudden interest or alarm.
‘Yeah,’ Tom said dismissively. ‘Now, Julian, where to?’
‘What do you mean?’ Julian asked.
‘I mean where do you want me to take you?’ Tom asked. Then, he clumsily tapped at a few of the screens above the throttle. ‘I’ve got nine-thousand, or ninety-five-hundred kilometers worth of range. Can’t make Australia, directly, but, there’s … Sweden? No, maybe not. Paris is just over the horizon. You probably aren’t keen on the States just yet—’
‘They’re keen on him,’ Freddy added.
‘Well, not yet,’ Tom said. ‘You just think about it, Julian, and let me know. I can hold over the Channel if I need to. Try not to take too long. I have a mountain cabin full of women who are probably angry with me about this side trip. Missing Christmas and all that, you know.’
‘You’re not taking me to a prison in America?!’ Julian asked perplexedly.
‘No, why would I?’ Tom questioned. ‘You’re a free man. It’s in the— Wait, they didn’t tell you?!’
‘Tell me what?’ Julian was confused. ‘No.’
‘Well then, the honor is mine,’ Tom said proudly again, ‘You’re free! Full pardon. Freddy or one of them has the paperwork. And, not to burden you, but you are requested – at your convenience – for a special consultation on some more recent, pressing matters. The uh, the shitshow, you know? There’s a storm about to hit. Hard. Anyway, Merry Christmas, old man!’
Julian leaned on the door, feeling a lump moving up and through his throat. A pardon? He thought. For—
As if reading his new friend’s thoughts, Tom quietly added, ‘Not that you did anything wrong. But, all’s safe and legal now. And, I’m serious. Wherever you want. Got family somewhere? Or, friends? Why don’t you talk it over with her and get back to me.’
‘Talk to whom?’ Julian asked as tears filled his lower eyes. ‘Who is her, she?’
Tom looked sidelong at Freddy and almost growled, ‘You didn’t fucking tell him?! He hasn’t seen her yet? It’s a small plane!’
‘We had her scooch down in a rear seat, and she’s obviously still playing along,’ Freddy said defensively. ‘It was going to be part of the surprise, along with the pardon. Then, you had to take off like a wildman and—’
Tom cut Freddy’s explanation short. Holding the intercom button, he spoke out loudly and clearly, ‘Sweetheart, come on up here. He really needs you.’
Julian, utterly confused, wiped his sleeve over his eyes. But, she was already there. From behind him, a golden, sultry voice cooed over his shoulder, ‘Hello, beautiful.’
Turning, he looked into her eyes. His jaw dropped even as she moved in quickly to heartily embrace him. He exclaimed, ‘Pamela!’
*And now, this column [AT TPC] will enter into a short period of festive rest. I intend to return in the new year, not later than the invocation of the Insurrection Act or the commencement of President Trump’s second term. Merry Christmas to all and a very happy 2021! -Perrin
At seen, 12/22, at TPC!
Werewolves of Covington
The 2020 TPC Halloween Spooktacular
*Brought to you by Diet LIME CHIP! Soda
TPC Headquarters, Covington, Halloween 2020, as the sun sets…
A small host of costumed and MASKED children ambled lazily, listlessly, if cautiously incautious down the dark street. But, this year was different. The little ones were uncharacteristically quiet, in a near-silent way. One note of laughter – maniacal as could human voice might achieve – sounded from the shadows near the Confederate Monument. Laws, court orders, and history be damned! the Chairman thought, a sledgehammer in his sweaty hands. Outside, the wind blew a somber, haunting note through the barren trees. Inside, frantic last-minute preparations were underway.
‘Hand me another board,’ MB growled from atop the short ladder.
‘We’re running low,’ Bess said with a tremble as she passed up a roughly-hewn one-by-six. ‘A few more and we’ll be out. And to think about the children. The children—’
‘It’ll be enough,’ MB gritted through the nails in his teeth. ‘Got the lower windows. Just a few boards up here, per pane, should do it. They say these things are big – too big to pass through a couple of flimsy boards. It’s not like a tiny virus slipping through the relatively miles-wide gaps in a cloth facemask.’ He stopped to admire his handiwork.
‘Did you remember the back door?’ Bess asked shakily. ‘No one has used it since the mob was here about Duke Marshula.’
‘I gotta chair up against it,’ MB replied. ‘Da used to make regular use of it. Anybody seen him lately?’
‘Not since the Braves washed out,’ Bess said, staring off into nothingness. ‘He put on his NBC suit and vanished. I hope … they haven’t got him too.’ She shuttered.
‘Nah, Da’s too tough for—’ MB broke short his contemplative ablations. He paused and gasped: ‘Was that a howl?!’
‘Oh, Lord, oh, Lord!’ Bess shouted hysterically, running in circles. ‘They’re here!’
‘Shotgun, Bess, shotgun!’ MB barked. There was, for the moment, no need.
‘Sorry, y’all!’ A friendly voice called out. It was Kayla. ‘That was my stomach growling. I need to review the new Chinese place. Need to get me a big dish of beef chow mein!’
‘God! Don’t do that,’ MB said, stepping off the desk where he’d jumped in a panic. ‘Have a Snicker, diva. Nobody eats out tonight. Maybe ever. Old Lee Ho picked the worst time to open a diner. I’d say he’s Fooked all-right.’
‘I’m afraid you’re correct,’ Bess said. ‘And, has anybody seen or heard from Ryan Ralston?’
‘Alas poor Ralston, I knew him well,’ Kayla whispered.
‘Not for an age,’ MB sighed. ‘First word of all this Amerikan, ginger-snapping, dog-soldiering, company of wolfen-man howling in Atlanta, and off he goes to confront ‘em. Carrying a Pop-Tart. Had those strange friends of his tagging along. You know? The duck and the cat or whatever? His grandfather told him not to, but yeah.’ He paused and then said with a grimace: ‘Pop-Tart. Cat. Chinese. Gettin’ a little hungry myself.’
‘Say, do you guys think Fred’s hungry?’ Bess asked with sudden maternalistic concern. ‘He’s been up there for three days. Only has a few two-liters of Diet Lime Chip.’
‘Fred?!’ MB called.
‘Door’s closed! I ain’t coming down! Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!’ Fred shouted through the ceiling.
The gang made their way beneath the attic door, sealed tight from above. ‘If you’re not hungry, then you got any news?’ Kayla ventured. ‘About them?’
‘Hang on!’ Fred echoed through the water-stained drywall. A humming noise emanated from his (poorly) jerry-rigged short-wave radio. ‘Coming in, now! Dr. Fauci’s speaking. He says the CDC in Atlanta has been overrun. Everyone’s dead or infected. Says the quote-unquote test they have is reliable, even if it’s never been tested and is not really a test. He’s predicting six trillion of us will be … converted or eaten unless more people start wearing plastic bags over their masks. Says the trouble is heading east rapidly.’
‘That’s our direction!’ Bess cried.
‘Do we have the silver bullet?’ Kayla asked alarmedly.
‘Yeah,’ MB answered, ‘got some Coors in the cooler.’
‘GSP had a sighting on Twenty, near Oxford, before their team vanished.’ Fred trailed off for a moment. ‘I’d say they must be on us by now. On you. You downstairs people are on your own!’ With that, he and his radio went silent.
‘Oh, no, no, no, no, no!’ Bess wailed, again circling the floor. ‘Children in C-Town! Won’t someone think of the werewolves?!’
‘I think those last kids on the street were just eaten alive,’ Kayla said ruefully. ‘Just a hunch, but I know this year we don’t need facts. I mean, if Dr. Fauci said they’re real, then they’re real.’
‘The wolf and the kid…’ Bess mumbled Aesopically.
‘Screw the kids!’ MB barked again, barkingly. ‘Uh, sorry, Bess. I mean bless those rugrats and whatnot. But, they’re on their own. They knew about the wolves. Same warning we all had. Now, I’ve got one last sash and three boards.’
‘Oh! The worst year,’ Bess said through tears. ‘First the economic coverup … I mean the virus. Then, the police state … I mean lockdown for safety. Next, we had all of the White Supremacy peaceful protests over the not-police killing of Cannon Hinnant. Russia planted that laptop for the Proud Boys – with the videos of everything except Big Floyd. And now, werewolves are coming. WEREWOLVES ARE COMING!’
‘We know they’re real because the deep state government and the totally-independent media that have both lied to us about everything ever say so,’ Kayla remarked.
‘They won’t get TPC!’ MB said defiantly while hammering a cigarette and trying to light a nail.
At that very moment, the sum of all their fears burst into violent reality. From down the stairs, there came a rattling sound, followed by a creaking and hoarse moaning.
‘Did anyone lock the front door?’ someone asked in vain.
‘Something’s snarling downstairs!’ Bess screamed.
‘It sounds hungry and crazy and overly curmudgeonly for its age! Kayla shrieked.
‘Tell me when it’s over!’ MB called down from his perch on the chandelier.
Bess leveled the double-barrel towards the blackness of the stairwell. Kayla stood by with the flashlight. MB swung pensively. In breathless terror, they waited. Heavy feet clomped up the steps. A shady, shaggy shadow crept forward out of the deeper darkness. There came the distinctive sound of a wild beast snapping, menacingly, nationalistically. At the last possible second, Kayla hit the light.
‘Get that out of my eyes!’ A perpetually-perturbed, none-too-local, and all-too-dialectic voice shouted. ‘Bess, put that blunderbuss away!’
A figure stumbled into the room.
‘Perrin!’ Bess cried. ‘We thought you’d been eaten by a werewolf!’
‘We thought you were a werewolf!’ Kayla chimed.
‘Little help up here,’ MB whispered from above.
‘Cheap soda socialists!’ came a rumor from the attic.
‘WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU NUTS GOING ON ABOUT?!’ Perrin demanded, demandingly.
‘Hello!’ Kayla hello’d. ‘Werewolves taking over? It’s all that’s on the news!’
‘They ate Da and Ryan and all the children,’ Bess said as she absent-mindedly ejected two previously fired shells from an ancient hammerless Nerf blaster.
‘Yeah, man. It’s like the pandemic, but completely more plausible,’ MB added before tumbling to the floor in a heap. ‘Go Dawgs…’ he muttered from behind the poorly-placed armoire.
‘Werewolves?!’ Perrin bellowed in typical cynicism. ‘That’s just another hoax! Won’t you people learn that everything everyone says at all times is a lie? That’s the truth, you know.’
‘But, even you said, It’s a monster! Grab the guns!’ MB remembered at the most or least opportune time. ‘Dude, like you’re even carrying a rifle, right now.’
‘I was talking about the ELECTION FALLOUT!’ Perrin boomed before wheezing pathetically, forced to lean on his newly, uh, appropriated .458 SOCOM for support. ‘The election! Civil War! Mass casualties! For the love of— For the last time – like fake, unisolated viral hoaxes, werewolves don’t exist!’
Whilst the office party evaded the eyes of the literary scion of Floyd, not one of them noticed the disheveled carcass of Da, who had, unseen, followed Perrin in, tromp to the top stair step, right behind Perrin, standing, glaring at the assembly with wicked yellow eyes, his wild hair matted like that of an unkempt wild wolf, his chest heaving, fangs protruding, growling, like a man who, bitten by some demented demon wilderness canine – as part of a sentence that just drags on and on and on and on … and you get the point, I think – had himself been turned into a hairy beast, more creature than man, intent on revenge and mayhem, poised to pounce, claws out, et cetera, et cetera, etc, and so forth; behind a semicolon, far, far, far beyond the help of a definitely terminable punctuation mark (of any kind), and now issued forth a GggggrrrrrrrRRRRR!!!! sound that indicated that he was most likely considering his former co-workers as a meal – notwithstanding Fred, who was still safe up in the attic (and, let’s face it: attic doors embedded in, let’s say a nine or ten-foot ceiling would be a little difficult for even a “War-Wilf!” to reach, because I’m going with the idea that Tolkien knew what he was talking about when he said something to the effect that not even the wild wargs could climb trees [although, even if a collapsing, spring-loaded attic door isn’t the same as a tree, we can all freely speculate] and therefore, moving on) and furthermore, okay, okay, OK, I’m losing my place now … they finally noticed that which they almost hated to think might really be Da!
Looking over his shoulder, Perrin got off the group’s final pointless words: ‘Da, what big ears you- gggahafffff!!!!!!!’
And, somewhere between the cold street and the high, full moon, a shuttering, bellowing HOWL pierced the night!
Away, over on 441, driving north, unaware of the unfolding calamity – perhaps shielded from it by some vague disturbance in the continuum, Thomas Becket wondered aloud: ‘How the hell did a nice French teacher like me get roped into this third-rate tripe? Ah, well, maybe there’s an old Warren Zevon song on. Or, at least a cheap ripoff…’
I saw a politician with a crumpled paper in its paw,
Staggering through the Esoteric South in pain.
It was looking for the place called T-P-C!
Gonna get its fill of something lame.
Raooooooooo… ah, yeah…
HAPPY HALLOWEEN This Holiday Canceled By Order of Dr. Fauci.
It’s too bad that no one thought to mention any of the following tripe to Abe Lincoln and his successors. An oath to fiction:
Milley too feels strongly about the necessity of keeping the U.S. military out of politics and the election.
“We don’t swear an oath of allegiance to an individual, a king, a queen, a president or anything else,” he said in an interview with NPR. “We don’t swear an oath of allegiance to a country, for that matter. We don’t swear an oath of allegiance to a flag, a tribe, a religion or any of that. We swear an oath to an idea, or a set of ideas and values, that are embedded in our Constitution.”
As a result of these comments, Banks is optimistic that the worst case election scenario in the event of disputed election results might just be lawsuits in certain states where the outcomes are murky.
“A really important limitation in the event that there is martial law is that it’s highly unlikely to be tolerated in a situation where our civilian institutions are working,” Banks noted. “Martial law requires a complete meltdown. It requires the inability of our civilian institutions to manage government. It’s hard to imagine that.”
Tolerated? Odds are it will be demanded. And done.
A gift for you, dear readers! I had honestly forgotten that this summer, I wrote another novel. Yeah, how does one forget something like that? Dunno. It’s some fifteen times longer than El Dinosaurio, but it’s a book in that diminutive category.
Because you’re special, some sample text:
They both suspected, though they did not know, it would be the last time they ever saw him. Roberto was a man of few words. Naturally, he bolted out the front door without saying anything. A second later, his car passed by, zooming down Main Street towards an uncertain future.
Almost a year earlier, they had moved into the new building in the center of town. A town of pews and not of news, they thought it now. Sometimes time ticks by; sometimes it just ticks.
‘We’ve got to sell the paper!’ he said, frantically throwing business cards in the air like confetti.
‘Today’s copy, or the whole thing?’ she asked.
‘Both!’ he said.
Morina was the prettiest girl he’d ever seen. He figured he’d like to take her out for the evening. He did.
Here, because you’re really special, for free, is the whole thing: SOLD OUT (PL, 2020).
Of Supremacy And Arms
This column is a combination of two separate items. The first part is a short revision of something I just came up with in regards to the stupidest part of the stupidest political discussion in modern history. The second part is short fiction(!) that I’ve been sitting on for a while and which underwent numerous revisions for … reasons. If one tries hard enough, one can make any two issues compatible. Or not, your choice.
White Supremacy? Really?
Something caught my eye while I skimmed through last week’s pointless “debate” between Tweets and Mike Wallace’s son. Russia(!), the Hoax, and … White supremacy? DHS is “officially” worried about the threat, but then again, we know what DHS is, who runs it, and whom it was created to serve.
It’s not White supremacists burning, looting, and destroying [insert any American city].
It’s not White supremacists committing 56% of all murders.
It’s not White supremacists transferring ever more power from the criminal government in DC to a criminal government abroad.
It’s not White supremacists behind all of America’s idiotic wars in the Middle East.
It’s not White supremacists telling us what music we can’t listen to.
It’s not White supremacists demanding we dishonor our God and rename our parks to suit their fickle whims.
There is a ton of supremacy on display in this dying country, none of it “White” in nature. But, I will condemn it. I hereby condemn all anti-Christian, anti-White, anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-civilizational supremacy! It is becoming harder to just “stand back” and “stand by.” Yet, ever in high trust and good faith, we do, and we will until we do not.
To that end, Dr. Ironsides has a colorful story of the semi-direct action variety that he relays, for no apparent purpose, at a wedding. Let’s check-in, shall we?
Up In Arms
A Tom Ironsides Tale
A Wedding Reception, More or Less Present Day, Kind of Late…
Having finally corralled his brother, his nephews, and his son, Tom fired up a Diamond Crown Maximus, savoring the smooth, full-flavored Corona smoke for a moment. Larry, Larry’s oldest boy, Larry, Jr., and Trey followed suit. Trey slipped Bert a beer wrapped up in a cloth napkin.
‘A toast,’ Tom said, without the slightest hint of gesture, ‘to Mister and Misses … Todd…’
‘To your daughter and son-in-law, Tom.’ Larry added with a faint tip of his cigar.
‘And to BEER!’ Bert exclaimed a little too loudly.
‘Shuddup, idiot…’ Trey growled as he kicked his young cousin’s shin.
‘So, uncle Tommy,’ Lawrence, Jr. said, ‘Now, do we hear about the clandestine armament methods of the…’
‘Ah, yes!’ Tom said, settling back in his chair. ‘Hang on a second…’
They waited until a group of chattering young women in rather suggestive dresses – all carefully if quietly studied by the younger men – made their noisy way back towards the center of the fun. The men again alone, Tom began,
‘So. This is just a story, true enough, but totally not suggestive of any recommendation. In the preface, I note that there are plenty of these – these stores scattered around the country. Mind you, just about every town has at least one Guard Armory. Not that that matters. Okay, it was around Christmas back in…’
A Kaolinite Quarry in Georgia, Sunday, December 26, 2010, 0745 Hours…
Immediately after the last drone landed on the F350’s hood, it was picked up and stowed by a trainee. Having commanded complete radio silence, Tom had a junior officer flag the team to move out. One by one, a short line of trucks turned North onto US 221. In his mirror, Tom observed the spotter jump in the bed of the last vehicle in the convoy. He accelerated to the speed limit.
‘If this goes south?’ the younger officer to Tom’s left asked.
‘Then, I’ll really wish…’
The Reception, Again, One Minute Later…
‘No. Hang on. Before that, juzz bufforp. Sorbrey.’ Tom held his cigar in his mouth while pouring a round of Ben Nevis’s MacDonalds Ten Year Single Malt. ‘Burthf… pff… Birch sent this bottle from his Scott’s vaca. From the highest peak to the lowest fen! Mmmm. Nice. No. It was just before, the part I’m almost comfortable with reciting. Gotta tell this in a grand jury-friendly manner. Ahem, it was…’
Hickory, NC, Friday, December 24, 2010, 1025 Hours…
Tom drove the bucket truck down the ramp off I-40, with the other vehicles following. A few loops later, his small convoy was parked in the truck and camper section of the lot at Cracker Barrel. Out in the cold air, Tom lit a cigar and motioned the entire team together under the shade of a large tree.
‘Alright, boys. A quick tutorial before Sunday’s main event.’
‘Are we going in to eat?’ asked a trainee.
‘No, son. Bathroom break, yes. Eating … well maybe. But, first a story.’
‘Is it about why we didn’t fly straight to Augusta?’ asked a young agent, newly transferred into the SAD.
‘Children, please!’ Tom puffed. ‘My mission, my methods. If I’m wasting another Christmas playing Goddamn Army C-I-D!, of all idiotic things, then I’ll make a road trip out of it. Easy to get the trucks if we’re already in them. Anyway,
‘Gordon, like Jackson, Lejune, et cetera, is a bigger job. Not impossible, you’ll see, but a little more … complicated. What we need is a little training exercise before the real exercise. Something easy – so easy a meth-head could pull it off. And, mind you, this is just a story, from the news – you can look it up – really happened. Not like we’re about to head north, just as soon as we get Larson his pancakes in a damned minute, immediately upon leaving this place, to a mile up the road and repeat it or anything…
‘Every town. Any town in America. Ten thousand people or more and there’s at least one Guard Armory. Small arms. Vehicles. Supplies. Usually a gen back but in decent order. Ready to go, so to speak. For the taking. And, that’s just what this fool down in South Carolina did.’
‘That the druggie that broke into the Armory and made off with the M-16s?’ Larson questioned.
‘The very one! Anyone can read about it. Army Times. J.D. Simkins’s article. The dude’s name was Brad, uh… Brandon. Brandon Shane Polston. Army National Guard Post in Lancaster, South Carolina. Thanksgiving of 2017.’
Larson thought he knew the calendar: ‘Wait. Isn’t that anachronistic? 2017, I mean? It’s just…’
‘Interrupt me again!’ Tom barked, moving into the younger man’s face, imparting a generous quantity of smoke. ‘And, I’ll have your ass up in public relations, lying to school kids, old people, and Congress-Critters!’ Larson coughed then remained otherwise quiet and attentive.
‘The Armories are physically, logistically almost all identical. Flat brick building. Set just off the road. Semi-residential or light industrial areas. Parking lot. Grass yard. Chain-link fence. The one down in Lancaster was, is no different.
‘So, Brad or whoever was walking passed the building and noticed a low spot in the fence. With nothing better to do, he hopped it. A short time later, he found a door that opened straight into the secure weapons storage. He was evidently the only soul in the building, so he just helped himself. Got some M-16s. A SAW or two. M-203. Et cetera. Nice little haul. I assume they had a shopping cart for his convenience.
‘Still totally alone and completely un-surveilled – no guards, no cameras, nothing – Bradley made his way outside. He stashed the arms and came back with a car and two idiot friends. They loaded up and went off to see the local deal-ah for some quick cash or a hit or God-knows-what. Would’ve got away scot-free but for a broken taillight and an observant local cop.
‘Ha! And, later, when the detectives toured the Armory, they also found it unlocked, unguarded, and open for business. Dollar to a grenade launcher it’s in the exact same shape as I speak. The one right up the street here too. The moral is: make sure your equipment is in good order. Traffic laws and so forth. Any questions?’
‘Didn’t the same thing happen at Gordon around the same time?’ Agent Tindal asked.
‘It did. Let’s not get into dates and confuse young Larson. But… Old uniform, an expired ID, and a smile, and they’ll help you load your car full. But, that was the up-front small-arms depot. The big one is in the pine woods off of 221. No fences, cameras, gates there. Only two, four, possibly six MPs on a holiday weekend. Wishing they were anywhere else doing anything else. The telephone company truck ruse… And, it’s much bigger. Bigger items. Hence, the trucks and the forklift. Trucks with working tail lights!’
‘Not even a chain-link? With a lock?’ Larson unwisely put in.
‘Nope, time-traveler.’ Tom smirked. ‘They only reserve those for going around MIM-104 batteries. Those, one can sometimes find – otherwise unguarded – in remote areas overlooking nuclear plants and other high-value assets. Hmmm. Bolt-cutters… Shame we don’t have a flatbed with a big tarp or just a semi-tractor. Maybe some Raytheon codes. Ah, well. And, hey, my new tag-a-long wingman, Freddie D, can tell you about some concerns the Air Force has – or should have – about the wings at Barksdale and Minot. You’se kids can go shopping again after I retire.’
‘Grab n’ go. We turn this stuff over to real C-I-D, or…’ someone began to ask.
‘I was thinking black budget counter arms. For the enemies of our ene… Well, we’ll see. Yeah. A country breakfast is starting to sound good, now. Checkers, anyone?’
The Reception, Even Later…
Tom continued to hit the bottle and the tobacco, regaling his audience with operational details. The more he drank, the harder it was to follow (or believe) everything he was slurring. Big Larry casually tapped away at his phone, finally exclaiming: ‘Holy Shit! It’s true. Just looked up those stories, those articles. Anyone of them is like a how-to guide for anyone with even a room-temperature IQ. This kind of thing really happens? And, doesn’t require a paramilitary strike-team to pull off?’
‘No. Of course not. Literally, any druggie or loon can arm up, easily, and for free. Let ‘em ban the B-guns. The good stuff will always be around. Especially, if or when other things start happening. You’ll see. How do you think the martial underdog arms up initially?’
‘Kind of makes me feel silly about burying that vault you sent up.’ Larry, Jr. said.
‘Nah. Always have a backup for the backup.’ Tom rejoined. ‘Like this bottle. Dammit, but Birch should have sent two!’
‘Well,’ Said Trey, standing up. ‘I’m going to go see if Romona is still giggling about catching the bouquet.’
‘Careful, boy,’ Larry admonished. ‘That’s a really dangerous business.’
Tom laughed and then turned away and spoke to no-one in particular, almost like he was giving a public service announcement right through digital paper to some unseen reader:
‘Friends, what you’ve just heard is two things. One, it’s plain, old-fashioned fiction about some family men at a wedding party. Two, it was just some old news stories about very real events that have already really happened, multiple times, and as reported in the government’s pet media. It’s like what Aquinas wrote: Unjust law is no law at all. Despite the examples, there is no lesson to learn here. Except, maybe, that’s it is always a good idea to check your taillights, along with your oil level, and tire pressure. Safe motoring. I’m Tom Ironsides, and I approve this ninety-two-proof whisky.’
So, last week was the busiest we’ve seen around this Highly Respected Web Log in more than a few years! I mean, it was like a return to the old days when we had real visitation around here. Thanks. Wow. Much of the interest, as best I can tell, came from those of you who wanted my take on the Presidential “debate.” And I regret that what you got was about all you’ll get this year. And, going forward. Let’s be honest: this whole thing is just about shot. Still, I’ll do what I can.
There’s Biden being replaced with Mike Wallace’s son… With Trump a victim of the Black Plague, does the GOP turn directly to Putin for orders? Bout all I can come up with at the moment.
But! Tomorrow, or maybe Wednesday, I’ve got a new column loosely related to something gleaned from that second-rate circus act and shouting match. And, better still, I believe Dr. Ironsides will be back with a purely fictional tale – one he’s been revising for nearly a year and which kind of touches on, if anything at all, what’s eventually coming after this election is in the rearview.
You’ll know it when you see it. Thanks, again. P
Hello. I’ve ranted and raved about Tweetsie Railroad before. And I’ve told you the sad tale of losing my pocket knife there. Last month, much too late and in my typical procrastinating style, I contacted them in re the lost and found department. Fifteen or so years, of course, is just too long. No such luck. I also roundaboutly found out they’ve had a rough season because of the hysteria over the common cold. The latter problem, I cannot remedy. However, and I am so happy to report this(!), I think I know what may have happened to the knife. I emailed the following story to Meghan – who I can’t thank enough for everything. See what you think:
Et Pisces Cultro
Perrin Lovett, 2020
‘One of you will finally catch him one of these days,’ Will said, not quite to himself, as he sat on the rear cargo deck of his SUV, looking down at something. ‘And, maybe they’ll promote you guys to a full eight cents.’ He laughed softly as he started digging around in a large bag with one hand. His other hand held a pocket knife. Rather, it held his pocket knife, a marvelous little folding device without, in his mind, rival or equal. He considered it the finest knife in the world, a tool of elegant, simplistic utility with a manly, if subdued, artfulness. It was unique.
It was a smaller design: slim, light, and made for unobtrusively resting in pants of any caliber – rugged denim or stylish wool. The construction was solid steel, with a simple hinge, and a locking release nestled at the end of the handle. Compared to other two-and-a-half inch knives, it was as functional, practical, and reliable as any. The handle set Will’s apart. For embedded under clear resin were three green-tinted postage stamps, set fringe to fringe in a row. Each bore the image of a brown trout leaping from the water in pursuit of an elusive dragonfly. Each boasted the nominal price of 7 ½ cents, as marked years earlier in the distant nation of New Zealand. In a way, he had always credited the fish (and the knife) for his long-ago visit to that far southerly land, his own On The Beach moment while en route to employment somewhere colder. The knife had accompanied him even then. Now, it was ready again for lacerative work.
From the bag, Will, at last, fished what he was looking for. That very evening, less than two hours hence, he and his lovely Wendy would take their little daughters, Willow and Wynter, for a night of spooky fun, courtesy of the Ghost Train and Tweetsie Railroad. With Halloween closing in and a chill in the air, warmer clothes were in order. That afternoon, following a day of ordinary, daytime mountain railway excitement, he’d purchased a little pink “No. 12” fleece pullover for Wynter. He’d only to remove the tags and triumphantly present it to her up in the room. He clicked open the knife and could not overlook, momentarily, the significance of the act.
Like the garment, his perfect pocket knife had also come from magical Tweetsie, though not from any gift shop. Many years before, when he was a boy, he’d been wandering around the Country Fair area, Dippin’ Dots in hand. Then, he had noticed a man with a rake, laboriously cleaning years of dust, dirt, and debris from beneath a ride. On the ground were a pile of grime, leaves, bubble gum wrappers, and other dingy trash, awaiting deposit into a rubber waste can. In the pile, little Will caught the gleam of shiny metal, something to naturally attract the attention of a ten-year-old boy. Oblivious of the encompassing filth, he’d simply reached down and lifted the object for inspection. Seeing no one else around, and adhering to the ancient law of Finders, Keepers, he dusted it off on his jeans and, after admiring it, placed it in his pocket. Later, at home, he’d polished the knife and oiled its mechanisms. Despite lying buried for who knows how long, it was sharp when he found it. He kept it finely honed to razor perfection, a feat he’d always found remarkably easy. It was as if this little blade wanted to remain keen of its own silent accord. As such, now he knew it would make short work of his project.
Retailers relish labelings. He pulled back a sticker, then another. He deftly sliced through two plastic tabs. The final challenge was a long nylon stem binding the price tag to a sleeve. With the fleece garment on his knee, he stretched the tag taut with his left hand, two fingers wound around the top of the stem. He placed the sharp blade and prepared to cut. Just then, a passing truck blew its raspy horn. He jerked. The stem snapped clean. But he felt the passing of cold steel across his curled digits.
‘Oh, wow,’ he exclaimed as that hot ripple down the spine that we all feel in such tenuous moments caused him to lurch again. He examined his fingers cautiously, surprised to find only the faintest, superficial lines of indentation that, even as he watched, receded to nothing. He tucked the sweater under his arm and closed the knife. ‘Woo. That was close.’
‘But we never harm our owner!’ said a small voice, the speaking of which caused Will to drop both coat and knife on the deck.
‘Who said that?!’ he asked with a start.
‘We did,’ answered the little voice; ‘and please don’t discard us so roughly.’
Will’s hand slowly, almost unconsciously inched towards the knife. He picked it up gingerly and, turning it in his hand, gazed at the three diminutive trout. ‘Was that you?’ he asked in disbelief.
His eyes went wide and his head reeled as the report came in: the first little fish turned its attention and its head away from the fly and straight to Will, and spoke! ‘Of course, it was us,’ said the fish.
‘You can talk?!’
‘The same as you, if more selectively,’ replied the second trout. ‘Well, except for him.’ – he nodded to the third fish – ‘He stays quiet. Missing his tail, you know.’ Will observed, for the first time he could remember, that the last trout in the line was creased-over the end of the hilt pommel with its tail obscured or deleted. He had never, in all those years, noticed. And he had never, in all his life, expected a conversation with at least two fish on a knife. (Honestly, he had never envisioned discourse with any fish, bladed or otherwise).
‘How do you— How do you two fish speak? Is it possible?’ he stammered.
‘Not possible; probable,’ said the first fish.
‘Not probable,’ said the second, ‘definitive.’
‘Oh,’ said the first, ‘and we are not two, but one. I am the knife of two voices though of one mind.’
‘You just called each other us,’ Will correctly noted.
‘There is no explanation for that. Is this better?’ they both answered at once.
‘That is— This is just a little odd,’ Will admitted.
‘We always expected mild confusion,’ the first fish said.
‘Why haven’t you spoken before?’
‘We have never spoken before,’ said the second, ‘except to each other. Long discussions we had beneath the Tilt-a-Whirl, our home for an age of fish.’
‘Ha!’ Will exclaimed. ‘So, you remember when I found you? When we first met?’
‘We do,’ said the first, ‘and many thanks for your rescue and kind treatment.’
‘How long were you down there?’ Will asked. ‘Or, better, start from the beginning. What’s behind a talking knife?’
‘The long or the short of it?’ asked the second. ‘Better to finish faster, eh?’
‘Indeed, time is wasting,’ said the first. ‘I’ll explain a little: Will, you yourself have noted, more than once, that we are marked Japan, rather than China or USA like so many common blades. We are the work of an old katana master, sold through a trading company to a certain menswear shop.
‘What was it? Thirty years gone by? We were acquired by a man who treated us well enough. He visited your favorite amusement park – and more than once. It happened that, upon a time, he and his daughter ventured onto the Tilt. We were if we can remember it, already dangling close to the edge of the pocket, so to speak. Sir Newton was right about motion. Once we started moving, started flying, we didn’t stop until we rolled, slid, and came to rest on the metal decking near the outside rail of the amusement. He could have found us, we suppose, if not for the vibrations. When the machine slowed down, the motor shuttered, the floor shook and we fell through the cracks – and not as a matter of mere saying. Lonely and forgotten—’
‘He never forgot us,’ added the second trout.
‘No, but he was most late in thinking of us when he finally did. And too slow to finally act,’ said the first. ‘For about a year we lay amid the crud and smut until you came along. And, thank our maker, that you did.’
‘You said it was an age,’ countered Will.
‘Yes, for us,’ said the second; ‘time passes differently for trout on a dagger.’
‘Oh,’ remarked the first, ‘and time is running away here and now. We can explain a little more at the park tonight. Does not someone need a certain pink cloak?’
‘Wow. Yeah. Thanks,’ Will said, then venturing to inquire: ‘What are your— What’s your name?’
‘Piscis Gladius, at your service as always,’ the knife answered as one.
Enlightened, and still amazed, Will stowed his new friend and former tool in his pocket, handled the pullover, and made off for room 414 at the Holiday Inn, Boone.
Wynter, aged three, was enthralled with her new outerwear. Donning it she became a fashionable sight to match her sister, two years her senior. Clad against the night airs and the threat of fog or drizzle, the happy family soon meandered down US 321 towards Blowing Rock.
On the short drive, as the girls chattered away in their car seats, Will asked Wendy: ‘Did you ever read The Children of Hurin?’
‘What’s that?’ Wendy remarked. ‘Is that a kid’s book?’
‘No, it’s Tolkien. One of his posthumous books, a tragedy.’ Will said.
‘No, I haven’t,’ she said. ‘Is there anything Halloween spooky in it?’
‘Kind of. It’s about Hurin’s son, mostly. He, among many adventures, found a talking sword.’ Will let the words fall out slowly, his mind somewhere else and his eyes on the road.
‘Well, no tragedy tonight. We’re out for spooky fun with the Ghost Train, right girls?’ Wendy said and asked, more to the back seat than to Will. Then she turned to the radio. ‘Let’s see if there’s some macabre music on!’
There was not, as it turned out, though the girls (and Wendy) had fun with a kid’s sing-a-long CD about a black cat and a jack-o’-lantern. Will kept thinking about his new fishy acquaintances. Fifteen minutes later, he did the honorable thing and, seeing a chance, dropped the ladies off nearer to the main entrance, himself resolved to seek out a parking space. For some reason, he parked as far away as he could, and as far as the attendants would allow. On his slow walk up the hill to the ticket office and gates, he checked to make sure no one was close or watching and he pulled out the knife.
‘Okay, now. What’s the real story behind a talking pocket knife, my postal friends?’ he asked.
‘Ah, yes,’ said the first trout. ‘We, as we said, were crafted by a great master in Seki. His skill, and perhaps something greater, lives on in us. We always knew we were smart – uh, smarter than your average knife – but we could never bring ourselves to speak out loud. That is, to anyone else or even to ourselves.’
‘We kind of thought together, if that makes sense,’ added the second fish.
‘Indeed, indeed,’ rejoined the first.
‘You never spoke to the first owner? The man with the loose pocket?’ Will inquired.
‘No, sadly,’ said the first. ‘He was a good enough fellow, and he took us on all sorts of adventures.’
‘We went to the World Trade Center, and to some, well, mysterious meetings in Washington, along with many other exciting places!’ the second said happily.
‘And, then you graciously took us to the home of our philatelic ancestors. And the frigid extremes of the Pole,’ said the first. ‘Exhilarating, if cold enough to freeze the fish off a steel blade.’
‘We’ve a mind to see our true home of origin, where the stamps met the metal, in Japan, someday. If it can be arranged. Perhaps this visit to Tweetsie can help us along,’ said the second, whimsical.
‘The Tweetsie magic, yes!’ said the first. ‘It’s probably not magic, per se – more of Divine Providence. But, it was here, in this blessed little realm, under the Tilt-a-Whirl, that we first spoke. To ourselves, of course. And it might just be proximity, tonight, that prompted our speech to you, dear William.’
‘You guys think there’s more of that magic ahead?’ Will asked.
‘We do, now that we see more clearly,’ said the second.
‘You talked about traveling. And you want to get back to Japan. You think there’s any chance I could help with that tonight?’ Will asked.
‘Possibly, if not probably or definitely,’ replied the second.
‘What can I do, if or when the time is right?’ Will wanted to know.
‘Cast me away,’ said the first trout, flatly.
‘Where? Like into a lake or something?’ Will asked with mild trepidation.
‘Oh, no! Nothing like that, Will,’ soothed the first fish. ‘Let’s just say, if and when the time is right, you will know him when you see him.’
‘I’ll just know him when— Oh, hey, people and the ticket office, guys! Back in the pocket, we go,’ Will said with a wink.
In a jiffy, he passed through the turnstile and into the true happiest place in the world. He was as awed as ever as he walked past the stroller rentals and the ironically-juxtaposed jail and began scouting for his family on Main Street. It was always the same at Tweetsie, regardless of the year, the season, or the time. The little park was (or is) the one place that is always exactly the same as one remembers it from childhood.
Will noticed a sign near the Cowboy Cantina. In a few days, the final day of the season, a concert was to be held at the Hacienda. Will reckoned they would have to miss that fun, even though he knew the band and wanted to sing along.
‘Dandy and the Bass Slayers! Boy!’ he said out loud.
‘Vee herb dap!’ came a watery call from his pocket.
‘Sorry guys. But it’s bass, not trout,’ Will explained. ‘They’re a rockabilly band from… Hello, baby girls!’ He had found his loved ones.
‘Daddy!’ Wynter practically screamed as she jumped up into his arms.
‘It’s me!’ he said before pecking her on the forehead.
‘Daddy! We should have worn our Halloween costumes!’ said Willow, excitedly if somewhat ruefully.
‘Well, now, let’s see,’ said Will; ‘I think we’re costumed enough. You two and mommy are obviously princesses.’ It was a kindly remark, true in a familial sense, pleasing to young daughters and it generated a smile from an appreciative wife.
‘So, daddy?’ began Wendy; ‘Just what are you? Our prince?’
‘No,’ he answered. ‘I’m just a greens manager enjoying a long weekend.’
‘That’s not a costume!’ Willow sang while pulling back and forth on Will’s hand.
‘Everyone else is making up for it! Look at all these characters around us! Now, what are we going to do?’ He placated.
They did just about everything, and some things more than once. The Ghost Train waited while the family had dinner in the Cantina. Then, there was a small matter of more shopping at the very same stores that they’d visited earlier that day. Some pictures were taken. Then! Then, they rode the Train, with frights, thrills, and chills aplenty. They found themselves in a delightfully dark haunted wonderland. There was so much to take in! Ghouls, ghosts, goblins, and more lurked around every laughing corner. The family found out that they call it a Freaky Forest for a reason. And, who knew candy corn worked so well in a funnel cake?! After seeing a spooktacular show at the Palace, they ventured up to Miner’s Mountain for more shows, more rides, more pictures, and more fun. For added measure, just to be safe, they even had some additional fun. On the way back down, via the chair lifts, Will had to ride by himself, a car behind the ladies. He listened to them sing and shout and yell Hello, spiders! to the giant, illuminated spiders down on the hillside. After a moment, he pulled the knife out once again.
‘Hey, guys. I’ve been looking for whomever this is supposed to be, and I haven’t really seen him yet,’ he said.
‘No, you wouldn’t,’ said the second trout; ‘not yet.’
‘You’ll know him when you see him, not before,’ said the first.
‘So, he wasn’t that tall, intelligent but dangerous-looking man with the very attractive woman at his side?’
‘It’s not the last owner, is it?’
‘No. We’re going forward, not backward.’
‘Is he anything like me?’
‘Like you, perhaps, as you were.’
The conversation ended at the lower lift station. The knife was again concealed and, roundabout, Wendy, Will, and the girls ran, skipped, and frolicked their way over to the Country Fair. There, the falls were free, the tornado was gusty, the turnpike was cruising, and the arcade was refreshing. Will and Willow even braved a car on the Tilt, while Wendy and Wynter dared to occupy another. Will almost assumed that the knife would once again fly off, literally, on a further escapade. But in the end, when he checked, it was still in his pocket. At last, as the evening drew towards its closing, the ladies wanted one final thrill. Space limits dictated that only they could ride the Ferris Wheel, so Will contented himself to sit and watch.
He had taken to a bench near the Tilt and was watching (and listening) as the women of his life circled high above. He knew that after the very next revolution, they would exit and this particular Tweetsie visit would come to an end. He didn’t know that he had inadvertently taken out the knife, nor that he was gently turning it in his hand. He had just realized what he was doing and was examining the stamps as they turned upwards to his face, kindled by the carnival lights all around him. Suddenly, a voice spoke – and it was not aquatically-accented…
‘That’s a nice knife you have, mister.’ Will looked up and observed a boy of about ten, who was keenly looking at the little folder. Without thinking any more about it, Will stood up and held out the knife to the lad insistently. After a second of hesitation, the boy took it.
‘That’s a nice knife you have,’ Will said with a smile.
‘Gee. Thank you, sir,’ said the boy.
‘Don’t thank me,’ said Will, ‘thank the fish.’ With that, he simply walked away, almost immediately running into the giggling womenfolk.
‘Will Ferrum, did I just see you give your favorite knife to that little boy?!’ Wendy asked perplexedly.
‘You did,’ Will said. ‘Somebody has to get them to Japan.’
While both the gift and the remark potentially begged a few questions, she asked him no more about it, and he explained no further. Instead, they all four wound their way back, past the Spice Ghouls, past the prize pumpkins, and past spills and chills galore, to the exit on Main. As they were departing – and maybe they didn’t hear it – thus began the melody of Pet Sematary by the Ramones. And a pale, strange man in a cape and a top hat, seated across the cowcatcher of Old Number 12, began to laugh.
Consider steel, as cold as night,
Allocution of the angled;
Find the sword a cordial sight,
So keeper be embrangled.
While looking through the drafts for items to delete, I came across an idea I had based on something that happened many years ago. It was only a title, and I converted it into this post. It turns out that the subject matter has already, recently, been converted into a short story! That, you may get to see one of these days.
As it turns out, I have another short work of fiction which you’ll get to read on October 1st – also based, very loosely, on a true story. It was written for a dedicated audience and was well received as “fun and refreshing.” In fact, those same words have been used by multiple advance reviewers. You’ll know it when you see it.
Also: Dr. Ironsides and the rest of the cast – those you know and those you’ve never heard of – have not been idle…