Internet readers donate only 7-seconds to an ezine - no
exception granted to HRI. From splash-screen to the
lead, ya got seven seconds to bury into a websurfers
reptile brain. That's my rap - HRI drives a metal spike
clean, hot, virtual ... not a human voice at all. The dame,
the camp, cabin ... I didn't feel that sense of urgency here.
So whethersneeze smarm and the girls smooth
action got reported as who-what-when-where-why,
a part of the interview our've ... I decided
character decisions got dumped to the rewrite. Better
to know end-of- story, and that's me as much as anything
before gushing a lonesome first paragraph. Trailing
HRIsdid made you part of the story ... I'd learned
Ever considered capping a pig, I thought self-conscious
like a slow nights lead-in or blowing a power-line ...
and figured it was the right thing to do? Is Jefferson your
god and Paine the high-priest? Casual readers might entertain
those fantasies, and think they sensed out're
intentions in me. Did my techno-savvy readers sense a
reporters inner eye as well as feelings of the hard and
desperate men I interviewed? Crap! Who needed lies with truth
like that? Those fantasies, imagined and brought screaming
to life sure ...
scratch down such thoughts random and insecure ... another
personal trip-note after the banging, slamming drive miles
up a gravel road, my mouth gagged and eyes blindfolded.
We had first driven two lane asphalt an hour north of
Truckee. What's it worth to be inside a terror cell?Yes
I was, trailing a serious man and at first I figured
the dame just stood in my way or made the path longer or
steeper or slower ... time matters. Once you've found
readers, nothing else really matters, not to a reporter. A
story gets read happens now and here, even a
patriot militia story or it's yesterdays news ... nothing.
I was cold.Stop talking to yourself, Will Scranton
... it makes slow news ugly. Cold and slow - ever feel
"You finished?" I said it irritated. She had
given back my clothes and watched in the careless way
satisfied women do while I put them on. I shivered
kneeling, lacing up the Chippiwas. Beside her, a shotgun
leaned on the bookcase. I rapped."Some detail, huh
sweets, maybe you missed ...?"
"In your dreams, cowboy." She had lit a
Camel, smoking it blandly."If you suffered I didn't
notice. Still, I had to search for a wire."
Self-conscious ... she was working on me that way, certain
and smooth like wax on the shotguns maple grip."Your
machines ..." I pointed to a rectangular metal grid at
the door."Isn't that what the machine does?"
"Only metals. The Federals are ever so clever
these days with conducting plastics."
"But not clever enough to shut down thesneeze."
I pointed at the radio."The kid ever shut up?" She
said nothing ... smooth, self-contained ... I probed for a
crack."For broadcasting, your people use a van?
They must." I listened a bit closer."The
hesitations ... the voice is live, isn't it."
Dame bit her lip."I'm not to be interviewed cowboy!
Now am I - Mr Will Scranton the oh-so-famous and
connected reporter? The Websconnected right
side, they call you. Not time enough for me - it's
the Ferryman you need. He'll decide what or if you
"Not you though ..." I let the words hang
out."You seem like the talkative type ... I'm sensitive
to what people expect of themselves."Maybe
I thought she owed me something.
shrug brushed me off."If we actually didn't trust
you, Will --- ."
... words hung dead in the air. I could fill in that
right-wing web jockey found dead of blood loss and no
The dame blushed before she giggled, a little girl quick,
happy sound."They're Gods hands he gave me." For
her that settled it - whatever she thought IT might be. She
blew a long thin grey stream of smoke toward the
door."As for your sensitivity - it's more
than I expected in a short man." Her womans
flush unguarded, optimistic ... she had slipped the
chair after lighting her cigarette, and paraded to an open
window her face turning over a shoulder to talk behind
..."When you leave, if you leave, we'll give you
something makes a shit - just to be sure."
"Be sure anytime ya want, sweetheart."
"Do you try to be a pig?"
"Pig? Before ya hate me, try gent. Usually I
let a dame stay all night."
"Hate is a corrupted word, cowboy ..." Curls of
cigarette smoke wreathed her mouth."When you're not
writing ... if you write ..."
I hacked as the smoke reached me. I'd had the cough for
months; city smog I figured and lungs not accustomed to the
bitter, high-country air. Outside the cabin an ax-head
chipped patiently. I'd seen the man as we drove in, heard
the patient chip-chip-chip ... a lumberjack, and that wasn't
half his job so the cold ripple across my neck told me.
He had been whacking at fresh Chestnut logs ...
Chestnut - food, shelter and warmth to an
enterprising militiaman. It made you believe in coincidence.
Without corrupting rot, chestnut trees had flourished
since the climate changes ... the chainsaw lay on the ground
She had passed by without a word, padding through the
and saw and lumberjack ... all of it, the entire gothic scene
had made me itchy. Those same padding,leather
sole mocassins now scrape the brick floor and echo
right up to thick, rough-finished pine rafters. It was that
kind of cabin ... this room stripped clean
as a womans bare azz and nothing sat on the brick beside the
firebox, bookcase and oak table plain as a Quaker. A
storage room of sorts came to mind ... where the
past is stored ...
"Damn," I spit."Are you threatening me?
What do you mean - if I write?"
Something outside had caught her attention. Sound or
shadow - up here in high Sierra woods north-west wind
never stops ... every branch a flag - or snow skiffed
on ledges north side ... The wind had stiffened,
driving cool September air. It had snowed, she said,
night-before last, but sun had skimmed it away dry -
leaves red and yellow rustled. And she, with the
small, feral interest in such things a child might
have tuned out just burying her focus ...
Then she turned easily to me and snapped."Don't be
I snap back."Threat's same as a whack! I shoot
straight, sweetheart. You too! That's the deal - in and out.
I get the Ferryman interview ... no threats, no
interference no ... none of theprodding ..."
She continued studying the woods, talking to them and away
from me, her hair like blond camo that said 'watch me
don't listen ...'"We don'tprod the press, as
you say or threaten. We look for those interested in
our project, and for steel where it's least expected ...
reporters like you."
Her voice slid into you effortless ... like a cold
knife-blade. I slapped back at her."Did I say I
"The question is one of interests, not
what you believe."
Reporters like me ... I thought about that, what the dame
figured I believed, what upsidedown spin she counted on ...
She'd spun me all ready - I had figured me first ... made
my gut squirm, what could have happened to thefirst. I
hacked twice, and my voice came out gravel."Let's say I
finish, huh? The Brothers approached me, remember ...? Like
the others. You needed me! They, or you or the Ferryman
wanted to go public. First the rap, me and the Ferryman one
on one, that's the deal no preview questions and no editing
of my notes. Then I publish the interview, and my story on
HRI . That and the photos."
"Photos have been canceled, Will."
"What! By whom?"
I stop - step back and suck in thin mountain air ... I had
been close enough to grab her ass and she might have
liked it - again ... she ... I ... she and I, people like us
had learned to like quickly, in these days only an optimist
would calltroubled. And I thought it's been a
year ... twelve months since the shooting started: since the
rabble had organized, or been organized ... I knew people who
wondered about that, or worried whether American patriots
could ever NOT be organized ... raid, counter-raid and
daylight ambush following yet another legal atrocity. And
almost exactly three year since I'd met the first of the
disaffected and disowned patriot militia and slapped
their stories across my Website.
Arrogant really, calling it HRI ... the left or
right of political economy didn't count much now, and the
sides ... Americans cutting down Americans - bloody
combat for the sake of America the emotions crossed all
classes except that of power. A few cynics
smirked and saidlook closely , but ... the
girl shivered and stretched, her hair grazing top of the open
window as if she had expected my hands. A hack sunk into my
lungs made me see white stars and sent me spitting brown
slime into the firebox ... then I said."What council ...
which council. There is no council, only the Ferryman."
"Something else for your story, if you get to write
"Garbage. It's leaderless resistance." The girl,
who's name I had as Brenda, but I didn't believe the name
just turned puckering her full lips and grinning. I
insisted!"The Brothers organization, if it
deserves the name organize is a 9x9 leaderless cell
matrix. No top no bottom. The Ferryman is number 81. There is
not an 82 ..."
"Who gave you the number 81?" I said
nothing."Did you get that number from an NG, or do you
know some-one in the cells?"
I smirked."If I didn't have that number ... clueless
writers don't get invited do they ... I wouldn't be
here, now would I."
She started to blurt, and choked it back."How many
hits does HRI get a day?"
"I figure that's the first thing you'd check. Sure
we're hot! On a newsless day, about 17000 clicks ... only
a thousand less read-throughs."
"Oh really? This month?"
"It varies ... sometimes we run higher ... much, much
higher but you know that."
"Bet it does," she was scoffing, playing with
buttons on her blouse."Your hits just fly up before
another HRI interview ... true or false, theory and
speculation. Has anyone mentioned you talk the same way you
"Nobody I care about."
She swallowed a laugh."Your rants, Will - they get
long-toothed." Dame was chewing on her lower lip ..."Pay
your own bandwidth?"
"No, sweetheart I take recruiting ads for the Navy,
pay coders with Special-K tabs and glue servers
together with pine-tar."
Brenda smirked."Don't start spitting, Will. Anyway
you're more attractive silent, when you don't talk. I can
imagine you padding away at your keyboard. Lonely nights I
imagine, at HRI." She walked to the firebox and spread
her hands into the warmth. I followed close ... she didn't
look around, but said casually.
"Do you casually fuck your female editors?"
"When they've nothing better to do."
"Why haven't the Federals closed it down?"
"Closed HRI?" She had set me up for that shot
... I expected it."There are still laws - some
laws ... I don't know, really ... they could cut my fat
pipes in seconds. Maybe ... maybe to Federal Web
Security I'm a source. At first they didn't mind ...
maybe it was the New Israel series ..."
Cold from the open window and warmth from the iron and
Brendas smell and the unstudied way she stood quiet ... it
was easy to drift ... I don't remember talking out loud, but
maybe I did. New Israel, huh, or when the Rapture comes
Fscking bloody swill!That
series of interviews, and pictures of butchery
had been the third issue of HRI. Words and
pictures recorded under the unremitting fire of Arab 120s ...
they're a nasty South African gun firing ballistics so fast
and so flat you're head's razored off and you're dead before
you're surprised. I damned near died with the zine, but
on that Palestine copy and blood and fields of burned-out
Jewish and Arab corpses we both lived fat. After the
4-th war ... after the Syrians and Iraqis and Egyptians
had captured by surprise and treachery the Negev. And
captured most Israeli nuclear weapons.
2005 the Americans exchanging blood for oil had left
conquered Iraq in the hands of Saudi, Egyptian, Turkish and
French mercenaries. First the Turks, then French departed
leaving Egyptian generals to organize a regional all-Arab
confederation. Only one target existed. I had reported the
treachery as speculation and got HRI its first million-hit
day. Common knowledge, really, that a liberal
Jewish scientist at NOAA had spotted the Israelie
nukes, their underground neutron signature and passed it
along to his French boyfriend. And French intelligence passed
the photos around like syphilis.
years of bad blood had been waiting ... and Cain slew
Able. Al Jihad had gone in with sarin and mass parachute
attacks - thousands floated into the hardened Negev compound.
And of thousands a few dozen Mujadheeden
reached the underground bunkersholding the Israeli nukes.
Two small neutron bombs - borrowed from the Kazaks -
sterilized the Israeli warheads. Them gone, Arab
armies had massed and over-run Jerusalem ... its
smoking, dead remains ... and poisoned Haifa with plague,
ebola, dengue .... America pissed, but when two
plane-loads of marines were shot down, and three more
plane-loads died of Ebola within a week of landing in Haifa
... having seen death-up-close ... America closed
its borders and backed away.
the ground, Zionists and Moujid butchery reigned. After the
initial savage exchanges, remnant Zionists had taken refuge
in the Judean hills and shook out what hell remained.
Damascus and Bagdad had been vaporized - the slaughter
went hand-to-hand. Some thought it Biblical justice, that
this time only the Northern tribes survived, where
five years of butchery still found them living and fighting
from the caves ... I'd spent three months in Samaria,
near Kedesh living like a mole for an interview only to have
the bastard die on me. My cough ... perhaps it had started in
those caves - I can't remember ...
I caught the mind-drift, and looked sharply at Brenda."
Then, now ... plenty of sharp people think for the
Federals. The pay's good, I understand ... My server is
fully compromised - they're sure of it - backdoors to
the OS ... keyboards loggers ... windowpane vibrations
monitored ... bastards think they get my stories two
days before they go online."
She turned quick her hands on my shoulders and kissed my
cheek."Is it compromised, HRI? Are you?"
"Sweetheart one persons gift is anothers blowjob."
Her hand brushed my neck ..."And are you connected
... or just experienced?" And when I said nothing she
padded back to the window.
Crap questions! The kind of friendly question cats ask
trapped canaries ... that sort of crap took me nowhere,
so I said nothing. She tapped on her wristwatch. Her
cheeks flushed Gaelic and unhurried ... at peace, I thought
and in a natural way, slow. Whatever had caught her eye
outside was gone ... or had been caught. Her grin said
that. She closed the shutter, then opened a
cabinet ... a Baretta 32-caliber appeared which got
tucked into her belt, and she handed the digicam batteries to
me."I'll supply a publicity shot when you leave -
if you leave - a shot of the Federal Marshall we took down
last month in Big Pine. Better hurry, now. Bones is a
"Write your fingers to the bone, cowboy."
"The Ferryman, he's a physician, you know."
Behind me, the door slammed shut. A solid door - the
cabin hadn't been built in a weekend. Ax-trimmed log walls
and a brick floor ... if you wanted to build this solid
you could ... with determined people, people who intended to
stick around. I didn't know many like that. Not that I
wasted time with riff-raff, or common criminals, but the
Federals changed a hunted man. I'd seen it - smelled it! My
previous interviews had been with men on the lam, haunted men
all but caught and skinned. We met in cold dark cars,
shabby motels or rock ledges half-way down some hard-pan
arroyo. Haunted, ghostly men ... some had been
intellectuals, and many were fools.
I pictured the girl ... but that's not you, is it, a
fool for love ... and not THE BROTHERS ... their cell
matrix arrays were big and growing and aggressive.
Support came not just from among the left-behind cowed
and bitter ... support stiffened within the
productive craft, engineering and scientific classes - those
demolished by a global workforce and anger murmured
within the government itself - some said a cell existed in
Congress, another at Cheyenne Mountain. Mindshare and money
... THE BROTHERS had been smart. Too smart I
figured to allow formation of a central council. Me too ...
the dame outside now, and I'm inside ... I made a note of
that, what I felt ... she might have wanted to join me
- us - she hadn't hated me or been disgusted I was a visitor
who before and after would be safe ... even saved, by the
Federals cause they had their purpose in allowing me free -
sure of it. Christ!
Ya wondered sometimes which circle has your name burned
in, and who'd pray for your damned soul ... I was in a
long, narrow corridor lined with pine studs. A bare ceiling
bulb lit a second door at the end, and half way down a
third door slightly ajar. I picked that one.
Natural light filled the room. In one corner stood a
wool blankets in red and black triangular Hopi design
covered it ... mountains red and black and
sharp-edged like teeth of a saw. Christ, some old squaw
threw it ... took her a winter I bet buttoned up on
peyote ... what did she know? A lever 44-40 caliber was
racked against a bookcase. It had been honorable, once, books
and rifles ... use had worn the receiver bluing, in places,
but the metal still smelled of gun oil. Other side, an
oak-pegged desk reached toward the center with its
maple top wax shiny. Deer-hide covered the chair. The
fireplace sat on fieldstone close enough to reach with a
poker - The fire was fresh now, and licked at iron vents, the
entire scene as well ordered as it was artless. But you'd
think aboutclose on a cold evening with embers burning
low ... a coffee-pot gave off warmth and the smells of
home-grind. Two cups sat on a table.
Through the patio door I could see bleached rock
edges of a lake. Three
canoes were drawn up to the wooden dock. Other side of the
table was a low window, its glass
double-paned, like the patio door ... thick glass not
the paper-thin condo stuff . Windows and doors built to hold
against Sierra winters, or creatures coming in from the
winter. A man could live in a room like this ... I
didn't exactly lust for measured living ... but I scribbled
furiously. It had once been honorable ... all of it ... the
American Gothic scene both rude and determined and my
city readers more comfortable skinning browsers
than deer would eat it up like Aunt Jemima ... while HRI
drove it into their reptile brains till they glowed
A trail led up to the cabin.I heard boots crunch on
gravel. A man in a black check shirt and Levis fetched onto
the patio. He left the glass door open ... the outside blew
in full of pine and laurel smells and dry-leaf tannins ...
and the fresh, clear, autumn stench that sometimes forms over
a lake or inside it at 7000 feet. I'd been cold all day, but
dry, fresh bitterness and mountain chill still surprised me.
It had surprised us all, the sudden cooling in the North
West. Not just here, of course, thesuddeness had
become global. I'd seen the same quick autumn in New England
... as perhaps autumns arrived in 1710, not 2010. Average
earth temperatures had risen just under two degrees. Weather
patterns danced parching Australia, Brasil and Chile, but
where temperatures did not rise, north of the equator
they had dramatically fallen.
Blame it on water. The Gulf Stream ... with warming
temperatures in the southern Hemisphere, and lowered
ocean salt, the Gulf-Stream unable to burrow and drive its
warm waters north now fumbled along Carolinas
ragged coast and dumped into the Chesapeake Bay. The broad
southern current narrowed, swung west toward barrier
islands and tunneled its warmth and wealth into Virginia ...
coastal lowlands had become impenetrable rainforests!
Barrier islands silted and grew and connected forging a
virtual inland sea from Charleston to Norfolk. Damnable
climate bleated the nancy-boyz, and simultaneously heaven
sent for militia yeoman.
Extremes favor the bold. In its new outpouring the
Gulfstream had mothered new geographs, though the
warm current moved no farther north. Last year the
Hudson River had froze solid November through May and a
marathon was scatted from West Point to Manhattan. New
England frosted white and deep. Nothing moved then, in Boston
Harbor last year and the year before ... except
recent immigrants moving out. Not everyone had adjusted
well. Old Yankees had damned bleating Ha'vad liberals
who in turn demanded more Algerian gas and Tennessee
electricity - new power-lines snaked north ... and were
regularly blown away. Southron and Great Lakes militias
based in the more dense and less hospitable forests had
adjusted well ... and driven mechanized Federals from swamp
and swale ... driven them in a snarling, bloody rush back to
Our Left Coast didn't escape. Warm Southern Pacific water
west of Chile had driven the Japanese Current two-hundred
miles farther north, into the Gulf of Alaska. The mass of
cold water sitting south of Japan spilled against the Alaskan
panhandle both cooling the Arctic and being cooled before
the current swung south. Jet-stream winds
followed ... summer temperatures fell seven degrees
along the western coast - winter temperatures fell
eleven. It gave new meaning to the dour, northwest
temperament, and spine to the disaffected. Snow blanketed
beaches from Bremerton to Moro Bay.
Ice-breakers kept Seattle and Portland harbors open
last winter ... the effects moved inland, striking a
cold wet arc between Vancouver and Las Vegas. Six month
long snows piled into the Cascades and Sierras, where tunnels
were now being dug to re-open the Interstates. Fat chance!
May blizzards and glaciers following them grew down into
Sierra passes as did the Western militias.
East and West, the polar oscillator driving cold air south
had frozen open. Northern climate and the culture of northern
freemen ... the change had happened so fast; I
shivered thinking better about removing my jacket. And
wondering how Brenda stayed warm at night and who walked the
Dreams ... Gent at the door - watching ...
quiet - not a type to worry about 4-AM or about cold. I
figure that fast! He unslings the Kalishnikov and pauses ...
scratching short, thick, curly hair - his other hand
fixed to his belt from which dangles a brass compass. What do
I recognize? Grey hawks eyes - seems to me they quietly
and acutely feel for betrayal. Not me pal ... his
face ... a clean shaven face - rough, dark ... a face
unremarkable except for the nose. Roman ... earlier, I
think ... Above an erect frame that nose without arrogance
buried in time to men set sail with no compass, save
their own two eyes ... yes, ruthless eyes and a harsh
god -- yes -- not Roman that nose, but ... it buried
back straight to Carthage.
No ceremony. We shake hands and he says."Please
be seated, Mr Scranton."
"You the Ferryman?" No raptor glare, no tired
musing. Plenty of nos ... I shuffled uncomfortable."Call
me Will ..."
"If you insist on casual."A
bowl of roast chestnuts appeared. Steam
rose from the two cups of camp coffee.He
and I sat down across the table. From
his shirt pocket he extracted a pack of Camels and
offered me one."Call me Bones."
"Bones it will be," I said. Then I rolled the
Camel Straight around my palm."Camels ... the official
fag of the revolution."
"We don't sell banner ads, Mr Scranton."
'Prick', I thought. I don't always dislike a person
straight off ... prefer starting an interview on the
light-side, allowing conversation to drift ... drifting away
from questions anticipated and pat answers to the viscera
readers of the Internet darkside so love.
Dominating ... it wasn't happening now ....
"A pleasant adventure so far, Mr Scranton,"
Bones japed without irony?
"Yeah, sure, Bones ... Brenda's a real charmer,
except for the gag and hood."
"American made ..."
Damn the bastard. I drop a lead brick."I did a
survey, Bones. Most readers of HRI don't believe Jews ...
Jews and Negroes, say, are members of THE BROTHERS."
Bones lit his cigarette."We never recruit members. A
citizen sees his duty, a cell appears then links then
"Is that an answer?"
"Each citizen answers for his choice."
"Same for the militia cells, huh Bones? I've
heard that Apaches train with some of your cells. Don't you
think that's extreme ... even for nativists? I mean
Again Bones voice snapped."Yes indeed, we butchered
them ... before learning what virtue they taught." Bones
eased back his chair on two legs."For sake of the land,
g*ds mercy will judge our motives."
"God, mercy and virtue huh ..." I look cross the
"It was my fathers rifle, and mine. I killed my first
mule deer with it, and first bear. Grizzlies have pretty much
vanished now, but perhaps harsher weather will bring them
back. You approve of the colder weather?"
"Sure, I keep my Alpine Meadows ski-pass up-ta-date!"
When Bones said nothing I sucked on the Camel and
prodded."Bears, yeah, right ... dogs, really aren't
they? Like Jews, Negros, Indians they all vanish into ..."
Bones said nothing. I stirred a brown sugar-cube into the
coffee. The taste was maple. I said."But there's plenty
that doesn't vanish, eh Bones? A mans evil lives on, no
matter what ya do with the bones ... The murder of Judge
Pearlstein ... now THAT was a public event - he,
and Congressman O'Hare."
"Do your readers really care, Mr Scranton?"
Bones eyed me closely, measuring ..."Murder by no means,
but yes, we did execute them."
So came the electric, between us. I gave no sign and Bones
didn't care. The militia had made its peace with the killings
a matter of principle, as it was a matter of power for the
Federals. And for me a matter of ... I dragged on the
Camel and looked beyond Bones to the Kalishnikov leaning
against hand-chipped log.
I say."Murder, execute ... none of the mainline
patriot groups celebrated. Both the Michigan and
Missouri militias disowned the action. They called it
grandstanding after Pearlsteins decision in the
so-calledsneeze case ..." Again I was fishing for
a rise, a lead-in and got nothing."'Course the media ...
the Jewish media called it a hate crime."
Bones jumped on that bare shin."As you know, we
reject the concept of hate crime."
"But you hated Pearlstein!"
"We respect justice and love freedom, Mr
Scranton. You know, as we do that Stalinists have corrupted
the meaning of words - especially words such as
hate and crime. Hate is a private emotional state, basically
unresolved even for the owner. Our actions are well
considered. We do not promote hate. Crime is physical
behavior violating the social contract. Freedom of speech and
association define the American social contract. We do not
scribbling the rant furiously, then look up."Yeah
... yeah, so the posters said. Now thosedid make the
news, the parchment scripts you nailed to the tree
Pearlstein hung from."
"From which we hung the traitor, yes! We know
well the judges hate and his crime - he spoke for the
Ninth Circuit Court, wrote the majority decision
upholding the AHCU law, so violating his oath to uphold the
"ACHU ... the sneeze law ... that's it? That's the
"The cause is liberty, but if you need a excuse
"Yeah maybe so ... excuse, cause ... we all
read Thucydides, but ... but even your supporters
called that execution impatient justice. How can a law
survive that legislates affection, love ... with felony
penalties for violation ... and making it illegal, a hate
crime to speak against the law!"
"Your patience with tyranny is admirable, Mr Will
Scranton," Bones jibed sarcastic."But even had that
law survived one day -- we have been patient for
"Nice slogan, Bones ... 'patient for justice ...' ,
but I'll bet Pearlstein wished the rope was a bit longer ..."
I chuckled humorless - Bones impasssive ..."No doubt,
Pearlestein and the Nineth-Circuit over-reached in ACHU
... But look, a dozen political groups are appealing
"That many?" Bones laughed."Groups lacking
stiff spines, free thought, and promoting commercial agendas
of their own. Damnable vices! Mark well, we don't wish
a culture with thin merchants and fat women, but free speech
- it's much more than sonic crack and video heroin ... an
appendage of advertising and media."
"HA! Sonic crack. Nice phrase, Bones ya oughta make
it copyright," I laughed and got up hasty, walking
to the patio door, and breathing deep. Lungs full of
pine and clean mountain stench which brought on the hacking
.... hacking and I stood there tear-eyed till it left
"You need that cough looked after, Will. We all must
make decisions about our vices ..."
"Sure, Bones I'll get an X-ray ..." I
wondered how deep was the rot, and how personal ... What
reporter doesn't worry about emotional involvement. I
walked back toward the table talking fast."Vices? Not so
thoughtless, all those commercial interests. Pearlsteins
railed against the First Amendment; that's
thecommercials judgement. An overwrought attack
against the freedom to sell! The 9-th Circuits decision
decision looks shaky as dry pea-pods if ... if-and-when it's
brought before theSupremes."
"Overwrought." Bones smiled to himself then his
face stiffened."And tyrannous on its face, both
words and actions. With the UN cheering, and O'Hare
beside them the Audio Hate Crime Units started busting
radio stations the day after Pearlsteins decision. ACHU was a
pre-programmed decision of limitless reach, by a close
cabal for the globalists benefit and none other."
"I've heard the speech, Bones."
"Have you felt the claws of that unholy law?"
"On the web we buy smart and sell quick ... the meek
are skinned and the weak, eaten." I'd given that speech
before - cold sweat dribbled down my neck."The
chattery class feels different. Most eastern media supported
the AHCU decision.We need to become more like THEM,they
said.WE need more physical poverty and emotive entwinement
Bones rapped hard."Entwined with closely
held power, and emotocentric rabble --- a global camp of the
"Emotocent, huh ... another new word ..." I
rapped back."Heh everybody has their own devil, eh Bone?
Those who opposed AHCU ... small
weekly rags and local radio stations ... as the
popular media portrays them morally corrupt rubes, yobes,
doobs ... racists with nothing decent to say about ..."
Bones sat back heavily in the chair and sipped at the
metal mug of coffee."Corrupt for speaking truth?
Certainly nothing decent may be said of those hating
the American yeoman - you know the names as well as I do -
ghetto bucks, Shari-fied wogs, Zogs and globalists."
Bones glanced into the firebox and back at me."What
power Fascists ... Stalinists could not win by the
rifle and knife, they have wormed in through law."
"ZOGS? That's almost funny, coming from you ... oh
yeah, Bones we northern Europeans made a paradise."
"We made nothing! North Americawas a paradise,
an exception, g*ds grace. A yeoman family could survive,
practice its crafts, pass them on freely ... The world
recognized that ... hated it and us even as
we butchered natives who had preserved it. We had
preserved something of that paradise, through the
Constitution. No, Mr Will Scranton in response to ACHU
treason I think harsh words purify."
"But the 3rd World approved, EU ministers drooled and
the French ... especially the Frogs ... how they raved ..."
Bones spit."Corrupt French bastards ... decadent and
corrupt." He rolled the coffee-mug around his
palm."Continental Europe has been decadent since Aquinas
and corrupt since Voltaire. We should, and we shall let the
Slavs eat them - when they take a mind to."
"Eat Frogs ? Ha!" I had to laugh out loud."But
suchcaring, corruption, Bones ... ACHU rapped it
all into such pleasant smelling mental opium. The UN had
proclaimed emotional contentment a human right ... empathy a
required behavior ... and patriot American radio stations
guilty of causing mental distress."
Chin and forehead and neck muscles strained as he
replied."Brothers once - at first we despaired because
once Europe had been brothers in freedom and now - and now
traitors. Oh yes Mr Will Scranton, O'Hare and
Pearlstein found a way to agree ... course not thesame
way. Pearlstein found justification for AHCU in
tyranous, treaty-making powers of the President. So they
argued, the UN diktates and as members we must comply.
O'Hare argued from the rights of immigrants, all of
whom he considered disabled and worthy of special
"Protection from citizens ..." I rapped,
fishing for the quick, hard response and got nothing
from Bones. I continued."Some of those small, citizen
radio stations called for direct action. Nobody had any doubt
what they meant by direct action."
"And now, neither do Pearlstein or O'Hare."
That point went to Bones, but it was a cheap point of
rhetoric and he wasn't smiling. His attitude, his bearing
seemed to oscillate between a kind of personal,
lonesome triumph and foreboding ... between lines I scratched
on my yellow sheet ... fill them in - I couldn't do that ...
anyway an interview wasn't a debate. Everybody
knew thesneeze law sucked ... almost everybody ...
I chewed my coffee for a moment then slapped back."But
about the Federal Marshall ... did you need to
"So Brenda mentioned that man?"
"Photos no less."
Bones face showed nothing."A brave Federal soldier,
that Marshall, a strong man. He fought and died well."
Bones fingers messed together."About the killing, if
we didn't intend destroying the Federals - destroying them
and saving the June Lake cell, no we didn't."
"If the Brothers weren't terrorists, you mean."
"What I mean I say. We water the liberty tree with
blood. Terror is not an issue."
"The Marshall ... he got inside?"
"Not at all. Brenda said nothing?" I shook my
head. Bones rapped."That marshall had tracked a line of
drug money, north from Vegas. Our money and our
man carrying it."
I said incredulous."Drugs?"
A crease broke on the right side of Bones face running
from temple to throat. The crease belonged to an old
man ... Bones was not an old man ... I was sure he had been
young. Bones scratched at it then said."Drugs, money -
drugs are the international currency, don't you agree Will?"
He said nothing for a bit."We busted a cartel bank
in Monterey. Belonged to the Cali people, and the DEA.
Seventy-five million dollars, transferred from swollen
American noses to us. There was some shooting, of course and
"Some of yours?"
"How many of theirs?"
"Is that important?"
"Like they say, Bones if it bleeds it leads!"
"Three hundred - mostly Mex . We got the cash out in
an armored truck. Perhaps we acted too optimistic, not going
ground in a border town. Perhaps we should have waited while
pots boiled. But no, we kept moving the money north. That
Federal Marshall happened on our man at a rest stop.Terror
was not an issue."
rapped skeptically and whistled"Sounds pretty sloppy ...
first all those dead Mex, then your man leaving a green paper
trail. Is that is an issue?"
man the Marshall shot dead."
... then well no, not terror
for this killing, if there was such a killing ..." I put
one hand on the table beside my yellow notepad."Papers,
TV ... the Web ... nothing! What dead Federal Marshal,"
Bones leaned forward - I lit both cigarettes. For an
instant he stared right through me, a searching look, then
eased back."Course the media has said nothing. No public
mention will be made. If they know, and some do I
guess. We killed efficiently, and the Marshals body flown
to New Mexico. It burned in the forest fires."
I hacked hard, till the smoke hit my lungs."So ... so
how do you expect ..."
"A response?" Bones face turned up."As I
said, we aren't interested in terror. They know, Mr Scranton.
The Federals are experienced counting their own."
"Not the first - that's what you're telling me?"
"Their soldiers and ours of course! In such
matters, as success flows first one way then another on a
battlefield precise body counts can be misleading,"
Bones said with an air of finality. He was silent, for a
Expensive coffee I've tasted before ... people get tired
of it, expensive coffee and political abstraction. I
asked."When I came in Brendas radio was playing asneeze.
A live broadcast less I miss a guess ... the Federals
have closed most militiasneeze stations. How do
"The Federals would like to know, now wouldn't they."
"Screw the Feds - so would other broadcasters
Bones studied me for a moment."Fair enough. We
relay using an induction mechanism over the power lines."
He laughed."Setting filters and a horn transmitter on
isolated towers is a simple matter of, well, climbing."
"The transmitters? We form them in an owls shape."
Bones chuckled to himself , stretching in the chair and
glancing out the patio door. You know how the Federals
hate to shoot owls."
"And the undetected live recording?"
"What does it take, but a mike and line-of-sight
modulated laser. An SUV stationed beneath a power line
completes the loop. AND in real-time an editor may
remove unfortunate, revealing phrases."
"That your idea, the real-time action, or Brendas
..." Bones hand waved dismissively."Could you
broadcast from here?" Bones said nothing ... I glanced
round the room, through the patio door to lakeside and canoes
drawn up close."Can you live here ..."
"If you mean can we hide here, well, we don't really
hide anywhere. Leaderless resistance means not just no
Capi'tain-des-armes; that's a hidy-hole too, a mental one.
Likewise we do not bind ourselves to any building. Where we
work we live, and as the modern expression goes however we
think we work locally."
Bones smiled and got up from the table, walked to the
fireplace and pokered the coals. Tossed in another log."Do
you think we live too casual here, Mr Will Scranton?"
"Some of the New Jersey militia live in trash dumps
... so I understand ..."
"Where they live as free men."
"They live like rats!"
"For now, we live as we must."
pushed back in the chair."How did you get the name
Ferryman? What did you have in mind, the deliveryman,
or boss of the rig? I understand the name BROTHERS was also
again studied me."So many names ..."
black, silver-tinged hair was neatly cropped and eyes
hazel without red ... a stiff chin and strong
shoulders. Physicians are built like that - I imagined,
not a leader of killers.
told you that," Bones
of the men who kidnapped Judge Pearlstein."
well, they wouldn't know, now would they?"
dame ... the woman who brought me here was one of them."
laughed."Brenda, yes ... yes, she would know ..."
stood and sipping at the coffee stalked to the open
door."She knew and they didn't. The men are being used,
of course ... they know that ... as I am being used."
turned quickly."The Council assigned my position the
name Ferryman - something of a psych-war ploy I believed.
Likewise, they chose the name BROTHERS."
I scratched it all on the yellow pad."So much for an
unbreakable leaderless matrix."
name they chose not me."
Bones, that's the word! I mean the existence of a central
council. They get penetrated, without exception and the
entire organization under them rolled up, chewed up,
I say THE BROTHERS areunder
leadership's part of the leaderless matrix, that's what your
saying? Spontaneous maybe ...? What feedback triggers a
said nothing."Is the dame ... what's-her-name ... a
is a pleasant fuck."
didn't think he answered the question."Who isn't?"
stopped dead still."Do you believe in serious people, Mr
Could be, but I don't know many."
free men be serious men?"
on Friday night."
laughed, but his hazel eyes had gone dead still on
me."Surely, Mr Scranton you're an educated man, a man
who travels among responsible people, among the doers and
builders and thinkers, as a reporter must ... how does it
come to be that none are serious?"
I say none?"
you meant to say wasnone
face drew back showing gaunt cheekbones."Few of the
American yeomanry will protect his own."
pushed my chair back."Yeomanry, huh ... American
dropped both fists to the table."You mouth words like
history lessons. Perhaps you believe only the judges, or
Federal Marshalls ought to be serious men."
and Jane citizen ... or Jack and Jill on the American
hill? Most don't give a crap," I
said stubbing out the butt," They
want the digital pleasure needle ... music, sex-vids, vibros
... they want that virtual heroin drilled into their reptile
brain. What they consume counts ... but who they answer to
... most don't care or if they DO care enough to think
about yeomanry they ridicule the term."
thoughtful slaves ridicule freemen. Insane? Or have most been
led to a deep hole or dead end. Slaves led to
failure? Or led to threats outside their comfort zone as the
babblers would say; they have been anesthetized by
pain, something like that Mr Will Scranton?"
jab I don't like - it points straight at me. I lean
forward."Don't you agree, Bones, we all do what we can?"
had dropped the metal cup hard on the table and it
rattled."The BROTHERS could kidnap Judge Pearlstein and
and O'Hare had three guards and we killed them."
marking territory, most would say ...."
would they now. Cholos spraying wall graffiti -
that's what you think?" Bones
had been watching out the door, but turned quickly to look at
me."You don't like me much do you, Mr Will Scranton?"
that matter," I
rapped. A face might have commanded legions returned nothing
... neither anger nor disappointment nor craft. I had
plenty for both."No Bones I don't like ya much. I got
problems with leaders who move fast - too fast to get hurt,
but with their own people out front, and I got problems with
leaders don't know their own reptile brain motivations."
only the reptile emotions lead us! THAT's it?
Freedom, dignity, truth all as much lies for us as for the
Federals? No, I don't think so Mr Will Scranton. Spraying
graffiti, breaking windows - those behaviors express
emotional states like hate. And THE BROTHERS reject hate as
surely as we are aware of it! The thin line,"
said heavily, scowling and then softly,"
thin line that sets off the free yeomanry, and a narrow
cultural stripe that preserves them. Pearlstein broke that
line, in ACHU and invaded that stripe. The
Federals through him invaded our freedom and we slapped them
down bloody, slapped them down hard!"
wherever the law falls, that's over the line ..."
Federal would say that - or more precisely the
corporate Stalinists of all stripes insist that laws
make the lines. Virtue becomes a creature of corporate
law and not of natures g*d. That is of course not our
position, not the position of the American Constitution. And
that all pervading corporate law is a corrupt, foul
without the law ... who stands in that wind?"
laughed harshly."Well spoken, Mr Will Scranton as a
corrupt Jesuit might have spoken to his Talmudic clerk. But
we know better, don't we."
- I had expected it. We said nothing for several minutes, and
I finished scratching out longhand rough
outlines of the room. On my smooth yellow pad,
the words caught none of the color or textures - thatdeepness
I asked."But you don't reject boundaries, or you
wouldn't fight. Just where does that line fall, Bones?"
you want numbers?"
all my readers can multiply."
and about yeomanry you dare ask." For
a while Bones just sat there rubbing his cheek. Then he
said suddenly. Three!"There are three stripes Mr
Scranton - economic, political and cultural. Three stripes
and six lines. Within those stripes a man may live well and
orderly as a free man."
bit exclusive, wouldn't you say, not to say elitist? You call
them the yeomanry, while Pearlstein called them outlaws.
O'Hare denounced them as prisoners of liberty. What is
mans natural state?"
enough, Mr Scranton. A mans natural state is to make the best
of it. A reasonable man finds those boundaries, he does not
create them. They taught liberty to bronze-age Greeks and
serfdom to the Romish plowman. Outside is a slaves
existence, or a panders. Same thing, really."
of the six lines did Judge Pearlstein cross?"
boundary was left untrampled? Only one Mr Will Scranton. In
the sixties, immigration laws were changed to let in a
thieving rabble - a rabble providing votes for the left and
slaves for the right. A theft of land and values
covered up by guilt in the name of cultural
we beat them out of it ... the land."
in time they may have beaten it out of us - the land - as
they beat out people came before them. But we cheated them!
Yet the citizens could speak. At Millenium, the dotcom bubble
robbed productive classes of their saving. Then, the younger
Bush covered up theft by hiring CIA trained Mujad to stage
terror raids on our own soil. Truth in chains, Mr Scranton,
yet the LOGO survived as citizens could still speak"
started reaching for a book ... Livy, I believe when
suddenly he tilts his head, touches a finger to his
left ear, then his lips. He checked his watch, got up
slinging the Kalishnikov over his shoulder and motioned
"Enough talk," Bones snapped.
On the patio he stops and whistles sharp and
deep-throated ... a huge, short-hair malamut dashes between
aspens and paws up to his chest - one paw ...
The dog is panting and breathless and crippled."Chester
here ... that front lg, he lost that front leg to a puma
"Better him than you, eh Bones ...?" The malamut
growls at me once then falls silent. Bones steps away. I
leave coffee ... yellow pad ... butted cigarette
... and follow."I can't see the ear-piece
Bones. But you're wearing one, right?" Bones says
nothing."An implant maybe from a sympathetic surgeon?
Operation hurt ...?"
"Hurts like the devils arse."
Hurts -- present tense. Slippery. Plenty slippery
here, and crippled in ways that are not obvious except
- I'm thinking - that prices have been paid. I caught
that shift; something has been prepared. Show-and-tell
prepared for me while the talk ... it was just talk ...
something was now ready for HRI. Sure - words start a
revolution ... angry, spiteful words as some class once
favored is now chastised and replaced ... and the
revolution builds on words ... why else do men die, but for
sounds and images driven so far into their emotions that
money and breath and blood lose all value. But to
finish a revolution ... a machine, was my guess or
machines ... Bones would show me the how of it ... the
tool-craft, the mechanisms determining how THE BROTHERS would
bring down the Federals ...
"Out here, there's nothing special about quiet, but
more's the reason," he says padding along.
My Rolex reads 6:22:37-38-39 ...nothing special to
me about that time ... it's the kind of time you use for
starting dinner, or catching a flight ...
A flight of geese pass overhead, their stately V heading
south. I light another Camel and the hacking starts ...
something to tell a doctor - I'd get to it ... when the
hacking stops I suck a lungful. We wind half-way to the
beach, on the path then dodge off into high grass
toward a grove of maples heavy and red and yellow. The
fall has been wet and most of the leaves still cling. The
malamut ranges ahead, and at one point flushed a pair of
sharp-tail grouse; their beating wings echoed smoothly across
the lake. Mentally, I throw my 16-gauge Fox double-barrel
into their path ... imagining the pink bead leading a shot
I catch Bones staring through me."When will you beat
them," I asked."The Federals won't let you play
Bones grins wickedly."Then you also see them as
corrupted merchantilists." Maybe I started to speak ...
Bones snaps a twig from a pine tree brushing it along his
boots." You do understand, that our Federals must work
the game in reverse. They must play Hannibals role -
they must conquer what is not possessed."
"Damned if they'll let you hide in the mountains when
to not lose is to win, as Fabius did, to save the Roman
Republic. Think about it, Bones ... Hannibal had elephants
not ground attack aircraft."
Bones laughs."Ha. You DO read history, then.
Yes, the aircraft - most powerful!" Bones winked,
arguing insincerely."Some Civil War historians say
Southron men could have held the Blue Ridge for decades."
For HRI Bones played the history game. I knew it."You
see it that way, your fight, a protracted thing?"
Bones briefly smiles brushing me off."Thrust and
retire - that might have worn down the North, drown
them in oceans of blue blood. Bled them dry while traders
lived flush." Bones winked and rolled up woolen sleeves
to his elbow."But stock options do not win a war. Lee
could have allowed Sherman and Grant to roam the
Shenandoah as they might."
"Some do say that." I scuffed leaves
beneath my feet; the ground felt newly frozen."It's a
gamble coming up snake-eyes, Bones. A loser. A southron
romantic suicide tried and failed! At most Web war-gaming
sites, Southern armies slowly starve. Corn doesn't grow
well on mountain-sides. Lee gets forced into a
bet-the-farm battle .... ragged Grey units with equipment
twenty years antiquated cannot hold a firing-line. They
lose everything. They are exterminated."
Bones shrugged like he'd been there."Well now, timing
is everything for major battles. Wouldn't you agree Will? And
the war, well, that's hardly begun."
"Have you started that war, Bones? Are kidnappings
and shootouts a war?"
"No Will, they are promise of a war, a
rumor of wars torment, but not a war. This is a war."
We enter a maple grove. Trunks, colored leaves, branches
- here too the young Chestnuts ... and the netting ...
it wasn't just good camouflage, it was great camouflage ...
even for the horse-trailers. Great camo ... for
the rockets. Once you saw them, a snub-nose trans-sonic
design that wouldn't catch a jet fighter and wasn't meant to
... Some people describe all weapons as oozing a look
of evil - these looked pleasant as spouts on
china-ware. Each sat on a mobile launcher small enough for a
hefty jeep to tow - perhaps thirty of them, medium range
ground-to-air anti-aircraft missiles. You could fight a
war with them.
Two missiles have been exposed, into launch configuration.
Bones led us to one. He patted the side, and it gave off a
dull ringing ..."This is a war, Mr Scranton."
For seconds, I just stare at it ... then touched the
casing."Ceramic! And not really smooth."
Bones looks up at the tip, five feet above our heads."Why,
yes it is ... the bodies and engines built from high
temperature ceramic and totally without radar signature."
"The electronics ... the signal processing ..."
"All optical ... not a pound of metal in the entire
"Not a pound, maybe ... so it's not big-iron, but ...
but the reflecting surfaces ... mirrors for the lasers
and waveguides ..."
Bones eyes me cautiously."Well yes there's that. Gold
reflects microwaves, but total radar cross-section for
this weapon is one-tenth square centimeter. Even
that's reduced, because in flight, surface pores on the
missile ooze a dielectric film - the Bernoulii effect you
know - that evaporating film acts as a quarter-wave
interference layer. That same film also reduces air friction.
Sure, the Federals radar is good, but C-140s or B-3s
don't see this baby till it's 400 meters from impact."
"But it does have a heat signature."
"For the first nine seconds, during launch.
Zero to mach 0.8 ... for the initial, vital thrust she
needs heat: even these babys have to obey Newton."
"Then ... then your launch position is
"Yes it is, Mr Scranton, to no benefit of the
crew. If they have nothing better than watching the attack
they should find somewhere else to be. But after that launch,
our intercept stage is turbo-fan. Heat dissipates through
turbulence at the fin-tips. Stealth, so a sea-gull looks
hotter." Bones thought for a bit still watching the sky
then laughed."Gulls, yes or geese."
"So the missile can be detected on launch ... WILL be
detected. That gives any Federals aircraft time to
maneuver ... to evade ..."
Bones bared his teeth and chuckled."We're ready for
that cat and mouse game. What we don't want is random violent
movement just before impact, when most aircraft will escape
no matter how accurate the tracking has been. We play the
game, our algorithms against the Federals and for our
trouble we get predictable, evasive behavior."
"Who usually wins ...?" Bones said nothing."And
"A beaut. Devastating! Like a mini-gatling gun. We've
wrapped two dozen 20-mm cannon tracers in a spiral,
patterned and timed and very effective at say, 300 meters.
What they hit shreds before it catches fire."
"But that's not bringing down most armored
Bones hesitates, chewing his lip. His voice takes on a
hollow, far away tint."The unit has been tested in New
Israel. It's hell on Iraqi Mirage over the Golan Heights."
Bones jerked a quick glance at me."You were there, I
"It's beautiful land, really - something of value. Or
did you stay in the caves?"
"When they didn't collapse!"
Ah yes, the penetraters. I think the French gave some to
the Syrians. The French Prime Minister had a Syrian lover you
"No, I didn't know that."
"But you stayed underground. Better, perhaps."
"If I died in New Israel there's no story and no
zine. No HRI for you ..."
"By all means. Mr Will Scranton staying alive feels
important. I felt safer above ground, even with death thick
in the air. Who wants to die a smothered white meat pulp? Who
wouldn't rather shoot back!"
"I stayed alive, Bones ..."
"Course you did -- course you did. Many weren't as
fortunate. Of course these missiles and the ground-attack
planes, that's subsonic contact. So against the latest
ground-support aircraft no ... no our missile won't
bring them down. Not the Birds of Prey, as some call them.
Not certainly and never most."
There is noise and movement, far end of the grove.
Bones glances at his watch and touches his ear ... listening
... then says."Best you not watch the vehicles, Mr
Scranton. I'd hate the Federals thinking they could
torture license plate numbers out of you."
"Thanks for nothing. Why would they think to
try that," I ask? Bones says nothing. Jeeps had already
started moving some of the horse-trailers."What's going
on ... were they manufactured here?"
"Why yes. We build them in caves around the
"And the components?"
"Catch-as-can, Mr Scranton. Optics are made here,
high temperature ceramics at friendly job-shops while others
are scavenged from the Federals own depots."
"Maybe so, Bones ... the pieces dribble in, but what
goes out ... won't it look suspicious, a line of jeeps
on that dirt road leading into the cabin?"
Two men come up to Bones and they talked briefly. Then
Bones said."Not one road, Mr Scranton - there are
two other logging roads leading away from the lake." He
thought for a while, then pointed away, to the grey-rock
hills surrounding the lake. Early snow had skimmed them
white."Funny thing, how evening temperature gradients
work near a mountain lake. From 35,000 feet, we are invisible
to IR snooping." Then he smiled."Tomorrow, in
Reno, there's a rodeo. Town's packed and road's jammed.
Every county road will be filled with horse trailers,
including ours. They drive through town, disperse and
"Where are they headed?"
A fit of hacking takes my lungs over, and I have to stoop
down on a knee - the coughing passes leaving me
rung-out and gasping at the thin air. Bones was staring at me
... not me ya bastard I think forcing myself up
straight, then patting the body of the missile exposed
beside us."Headed everywhere, eh, but not this
"No, Mr Scranton, not this one."
"Where's it going?"
"To dinner, you might say."
All the horse trailers had been towed away, the maples now
quiet smelled wet and cold and ... and pure. That's the word
I found ..."Who's bringing the ribs, Bones," I say
casually,"or am I the only person ready for barbecue?"
"No Mr Will Scranton, you're not the only one."
"Then I DO get to stick around for a feed."
A naisly twang voice broke in."Talk to Brenda,
Bones?" A gangly cowboy had sauntered up his eyes fixed
on the two exposed missiles. They weren't new to him ... his
eyes those of a mechanic, though they were eyes travel weary.
He wears a macintosh and cowboy jeans, and carries a leather
notebook and cellphone."Bronco 5, eh, and Bronco 4
- good luck with these frisky critters."
"We've done our damnedest. And the boggie?"
Cowboy shuffles and grunts."The plane left Denver at
18:07 hours. Figure another twelve minutes till we get
optics on the critter." He glanced at the few
clouds floating the purple evening mountain
sky."Trackin' - that'll be easy."
My head snaps around at the cowboy."Tracking? What
tracking? What plane ..."
Cowboy gives me bad-eye."This the HRI fella?"
Bones nods. Cowboy handed him the notebook - which he signs
and passes back - but the cowboys eyes sat on me."It'll
get te'chy. He leavin' or stay'n ... Brenda said ..."
"No!" Bones stuck his face up into the sky ...
sniffing at it's clear deep blue like some people read
the Tarot or tea-leaves or ink-blots ... said quickly not
looking at me."Take him with you, across the lake."
Shadows have got long. Pine tops stretch swaying
west-to-east across the lake. It ends like that, the
interview - Bones stops talking - shadows grow
from the quiet. It seems best not to argue. Dread,
terror, nerves, loss ... I have reasons for feeling
them all ... the damned settledness of the camp. The
Americaness of it - how that had been ... I feel nothing.
Nothing like emotion, or empathy for whatever Bones thought
... or how he feels. Christ, maybe the bastard needed
personal time with the missiles ... or with Brenda.
High mountain cold flows down into the water,and
with the cowboy I load into a canoe.The
electric motor pushes us through fields of low
white-caps, like the lake had harvested, waiting, then spewed
roughness all up for me. Wind stings my face and I
would have appreciated rap from the cowboy. 'Where, when,
who ...' We land on the far lakeside in a cove surrounded
by steep granite walls and where culms broke across second
growth pine. The cowboy says not one word. Sharp tooth
quiet ... quiet enough to hear granite get old. The
path follows a small dry stream-bed curling around the cliff,
and up, so when we finally come into open ground Bones cabin
sits due-south a half-mile away.
A century away, and quiet - that's how it strikes me. Our
overlook had got busy. Beside a battered old Ford pickup
stood two vans, four men with binoculars ... and Brenda. She
carries my recording equipment and camera, and when I try to
talk she tells me to shut up. I want my hands on her so bad I
bite my lip till it bleeds. Does she notice ... is she
watching my face ... her nose buried in a cellphone,
but the Nikon and telephoto lens she passed over.
Static action ... you could smell the acrid sweat. She and
the men and I were waiting. Smoke rises carelessly from
Bones cabin. Flights of geese pass over. Trout slap in
the shallows tails splashing and heads arcing after a
late hatch. Nothing else moves.
We're good at that - humans are - finding the slightest
movement. A white trail appears in the sky - the trails front
edge moves East-to-West . Eyes pay attention to those
things ... a last bit of sun glints from the airplane body
... I'd say the angle to the ground was about 30-degrees and
approaching ... I put the telephoto on it and could
identify wings, a tail and three contrails ...
... suddenly Brenda said"THERE" and pointed
across the lake ... is this why she had socially engineered
me and so quickly to ... I am snapping images in
auto-mode, three clicks a second ... lake, cabin, maples ...
when two explosive roars pounded over the lake,
ceramic bodies leaping upward from the maple grove
trailing two long fire-tongues bending east.
"Promised you photos," Brenda said crispy,"now
"I figured bare azz and honeycombs, sweetheart, and a
little privacy," I try shouting over the roar."
Brenda says tilting her long neck into the sky."My
ass? You lost that, war, cowboy. Welcome to the war,"
"Christ Almighty," I shout." You're going
to shoot down a passenger plane!"
The heat and pressure shadow of the missiles passed over.
Then a man grunted satisfied and tosses his
binoculars to me. Hasselblad. I swing them up catching bits
of pine-top, migrating geese ... superb German optics
lit up the plane, an old L1011, a tail-dropper that hadn't
carried a passenger in thirty years. Now it's a target. The
two missiles roared, rose swiftly taking now a slight
curve to the North. Then boosters drop away and both
missiles vanish ...
In a second the entire afternoon plays its tape through my
brain. Gothic memes erased, it had become a cold,
abstract thing, a matter of physics and electronics.
Brenda is peering at me as women do at old lovers they no
longer recognize, but her eyes gleam at the recognition
on my face. She says sharply."Save your guilt.
It's a Federal Reserve money plane. Stuffed with
thousand-dollar bills. That and some bullion payment to
friendly wog agents in Seattle. The Chinese like gold, you
Hack, hacking ... it sucked my breath away. The
..."And the crew?"
"Pilot, co-pilot and four Federal Marshals
guarding the loot. Maybe they're afraid geese will steal it!"
"A money plane?"
"If the Federals don't fly, the sky belongs to us."
"But money ... paper money ... gold? It's all
Brenda snapped harshly."Hard value may vanish, but
it can't appear that way, now can it Will? Not something
abstract, but concrete - certain. Abstract value doesn't fly
with the MANS weepy lambs and hangers-on and
house-Niggers." Then her eyes cruelly bit into
mine."Reality versus appearance, Will, that's something
you're a real pro at, isn't it?"
My face goes hot."Spare me the blow-dry warrior crap,
sweetheart." I swap back to the telephoto, and its
broader view-field following the plane."You
... THE BROTHERS have done this before?"
"Once before, in Alaska. Never, actually, in the
southern states. This is the first time." She
smiles casually."Of course we studied them. The social
engineering, Will ... we take pride in our work."
"But why two missiles?"
"Sometimes for the money-planes a stealth
"BOPs. They hang in the IR shadow."
Through the telephoto I can feel unsettled motion in the
contrails. Federal L1011 - now at about
60-degrees is banking sharply ... evading ... diving
... aircraft and unseen missile dancing a slow-motion duet
It yanks my face down from blue sky and out along a red
horizon, those brute explosions a few miles east and right
above pine-tops the pressure-wave slamming into us and
lighting up the sky like sunrise. Sound -- a hooting, lunch
whistle sound and simmering heat furnace escaping from
a low-flying exploding aircraft. Expanding waves of
shrieking, glaring heat ... I got the lens on it
lucky and snap furiously.
The fireball - it rolls and tumbles over, spinning,
clipping the pines and throwing off its twin-tail
as one piece, and bits of crimp-wing and fuselage and
burning fuel tanks and exploding munitions ... Hot hellish
rapture at 7000 feet ... worth a million hits to HRI, but all
four men beside us - they are dashing toward the vans.
Brenda standing frozen her face has gone frost
white. And she swears ..." ... low ... the bastards
trailed low this time, not above ..." and her eyes glue
to Bones cabin cross-lake.
Adrenaline roars through me."Bones covered his azz,
huh ... while he cut. That's one damned ice-cold surgeon."
Don't miss the action, sweetheart I'm thinking ... I check
the film. Eight shots left only. Only for ... And
I remember the L1011,."High and low, sweetheart,
damnation what a show!" I swing my camera up finding
purple sky and into the planes path finding its
white, diving contrails.
From my angle, the Federal L1011 sigmoid evasion
profile is written in aluminum glint and white smoke -- then
a cloud of sparkling pinpricks obscure it. I have steady
focus as the airframe shudders, the missile striking out
with it's pinpricks shredding a wing. Sterile
flashes of fuel flaming trail behind. The L1011
starts to roll. A crippled, dying bird it arches
lower rolling over its belly glinting and tumbling
toward the horizon. If God's money then one of his
angles just died. Damn that shot was going to sell virtual
copy like dead-tree-print had never seen Gutenberg!
"Ya whacked it, Brenda," I shout."Damn
whacked it dead!"
I barely hear her steps. Brenda slams into me, shoulder to
my gut putting my azz on the ground and taking breath
away ..."lets roll, newshound before it gets ..."
"How much money did Bones just burn up," I rant
struggling to my feet?"Hundred million ... a billion ...
readers love that personal touch to a story."
"NOW Will ...!"
Brenda has grabbed my arm. Fingers strong and
unprofessional dig into my sweater, but I pull away running
to the cliff edge. SNAP-SNAP-SNAP I click off the shots ...
one of the cabin and maple grove, one of burning pine tops
where fragments of the destroyed, low-flying plane still
cling and one of the twisted L1011 contrails - even now the
wind distorted their clean ballet ... but an insane sense of
the present drives me ... has overcome me.
I yell back."How 'bout the crews family ... no
hot-shots, eh in an L1011 ..." I stand tall on
that cliff edge an evening north wind biting my face and
screaming ..." Ferryman, Ferryman cross the dark rivers
Gone insane with it ... I laugh back at Brenda her eyes
and chin and cheeks now a black mask and my own - feeling a
subtle vibration turning so ... the black, crimp-wing
slot in the sky snatch my eyes. The new American gothic, a
second Federal aircraft riding shotgun ... it banks
over the lakes north shore and bird-like in shape the
silhouette now flickers cross rippling lake surface. Low
as a goose landing with it's jet-fan whine trailing
ever-so-much behind ... as the aircraft banks again laying
its silver egg and ... and the fireball ...
... ROARING ROARING ROARING ...
... across the lake ... a shining silver pour of
metal flowing liquid sheets into the maple grove ...
pouring viscous dissolving metal over the rocks frost
snow edges facing north ... and the gothic American cabin ...
homeground coffee and hand-woven blankets ... ax-heads and
chestnuts and a 44-40 never used to kill a man ... Livy
... roasted, melted, vaporized, all of it vanished in the
blaze heat of white and orange, silver and yellow ... all
around me, table-scraps of Birds-of-Prey as they feast.
My knees have gone weak as water snapping the last two
pictures of hells inferno. That's a lead-line I think
-HELLS INFERNO -- fire consuming and carrying
all before it cross the dark river ... that last
picture of the Ferryman burning my brain before Brenda
drags me to a van and slaps on a blindfold ...
... with another HRI. Returning to port. Ladies and
gentlemen, good night.