Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Help Karen and Elizibeth get home!

Alright folks! We need to help a loved one out in a big way. Karen Griffin is far from home in the UK. She got married to a very deserving man and together brought a wonderful little life into the world. None of Karen's family has seen her new baby yet. My goal is to raise enough money to get Karen and her little one home for a visit. Her and her husband are just starting out and there is no way she'd be able to afford the ticket on her own, especially in Europe's current economic situation. This is just a nice thing we can all do for someone who has been there for her friends without fail. Please donate the the following Pay Pal address: Stephen.griffin@kellogg.oxon.org
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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Check Engine

Some people might call this a sob story.  I don’t care what you call it.  It is my story, and at least it now feels like the sum total of my life now.

A slip-and-fall lawsuit from one of my employees really hit us hard.  Marcus Jackson didn’t just get rich through a legal raid on my coffers, he also got rich at the expense of four people whom I had to let go to pay for the court costs and insurance hikes resulting from the payout.  Business wasn’t great before the lawsuit and I hardly had time to improve in the areas where it was needed while trying to defend against Jackson’s lawsuit.  The economy was steadily getting worse too.  I started to just hand his lawyers the keys to the place and walk away at one point.  But I still had over two dozen people working for me so I hung on for them. 

My wife didn’t like the cutbacks we had to make.  She demanded that we sell the business and I “get a regular job.”  She was from money and didn’t understand how much my employees depended on me.  My people never let me down and I couldn’t let them down for an opportunity to save my own hide.  The arguments at home got worse and more frequent.
Two of my closest employees had gotten into some trouble a few years back.  But I knew they were good people who had just made some mistakes.  After they’d got out of prison, I gave them their jobs back.  If I shut down, they wouldn’t be able to find anything else.  Several people I had hired were very specialized techs and finding another job in their field would me a move to another city. 

Then came the Obama administrations new plans for my business.  Obamacare wiped me out.  There was no way I could stay afloat after it hit.  Between the already high taxes, regulations and assorted red tape, I could no longer operate.  Maybe if we hadn’t been nearly cleaned out by the slip and fall lawsuit a few months before, maybe then we could have still made it.  If the economy was stable, maybe we could have held on. 

I put the company up for sale with the stipulation that anyone who purchased it, would have to keep the employees.  To make a long story short, no one even bit at it.  I lowered the price as much as I legally could and still no one bought me out.  I finally had to just shut the doors and let the bank have it. 

It was during this time or maybe a little before that my wife left me.  She made up a good excuse that sounded better than “his money ran out.”  She claimed I’d said mean things to her, from which she’d never recover.  Sure, I did.  I said mean things to her after she called me every name in the book and told me what a loser I was for disrupting her cushy lifestyle.  She got half of everything except the house and got to keep her victim-status around town.  I was the bad guy for yelling at her while she sat right there and watched me lose everything without lifting a finger to help.  In fact, if she hadn’t blown through our savings, we might have kept our heads above water.  Of everything I lost, I’m last sadden about losing her, at least now. 

The housing market was pathetic.  There was no way I was going to possibly get enough from it to even coming close to paying off the note.  Months went by and I was unable to pay my mortgage.  I just couldn’t sell my possessions fast enough. The bank got it too.  Anything with money owed on it went to the bank.  I made a smart comment to the bank official about how they must be really cleaning house thanks to the Obama administration.  He snapped back and said that in a lot of cases, it was costing more for them to repossess and attempt to resell property than it would have been to just let the people keep it and pay what they could.  That sure made me feel better as I was packing up my memories and walking out the front door of what used to be my home. 

I was thousands of miles away from any relative and besides, I didn’t want to go back to my family.  If I had fallen on my own knife, my dad was the type who would run up and twist it.  Anything bad that happened to me was because I did something different from the way he did things and therefore wrong.  Besides, he had been retired for a long time and like most old people I knew, offered simple advice to complex and overwhelming problems.  The business is failing?  Just sell it!  The house won’t sell?  Lower the price!  The bank is unhappy?  Just talk to them! 

So a former business associate offered me a part time job, which was a lot considering the fact that his business was in bad shape too.  All I still owned of any value was my car, which was luckily paid for.  With my last few hundred dollars, I bought a gym membership so I’d have a place to shower and clean up each day.  I also purchased a deep-cycle battery and rigged my car engine to charge it and my car battery each time I drove somewhere.  With gas at close to $4 a gallon, I didn’t drive far. 

Each day after work, on the days I did work, I drove to where I could hit an open Wi-Fi signal.  I’d surf the internet looking for new jobs but there wasn’t much out there.  The deep-cycle battery powered my laptop and a lamp I got for reading.  I spent a lot of time in the library on my days off. 

On day in the library, I looked around and saw several guys sleeping here and there.  They were always there but I took extra notice of them that day.  I was one of them.  I was homeless.  Even with a part time job and a place to sleep, I was homeless.  I didn’t go back to that library, not for a long time.

One night a cop came and tapped on my window.  I rolled it down and he asked me what I was doing.  I usually tried to keep anyone from knowing that I lived in my car.  I told a half-truth.  I said that my wife and I had a fight and I had to get out of the house.  He told me that I wasn’t allowed to just camp out in a parking lot like I was doing and that if he saw me again, I was going to jail. 

I drove to a coffee shop and went inside.  I more or less stayed up all night.  The cops gave you less trouble if slept during the day in parking lots anyway and I was only working for a few hours that following morning.  If you were sleeping in a parking lot during the day, you were just a tired consumer, catching a nap after a busy day of spending shopping.  Or maybe you were a husband who was sleeping dozing in the car while your wife was inside whatever store, running up charges on your 20% interest credit cards.  Carry on, sir!

Even that wouldn’t work each day because of my work schedule and the fact that the noise of the day kept waking me up most of the time.  This is when I discovered that camping out at truck stops up and down the interstate was easy.  I’d move to another one each night and between four, the night clerks and attendants rarely ever saw me twice.  If I didn’t have the gas to drive back to the gym, I could always shower in one of the large travel centers.  When I was too far from one of those, I learned to bath using a single occupancy bathroom sink.  Hygiene was must to me. 

Walmart and a few other big box stores don’t mind you sleeping their parking lots at night or at least didn’t back then.  Once in a while, I’d stop in and spend the night there.  My money supply was getting to the point where I would soon be able to rent a room somewhere.  Getting out of my car and into a bed a night was my new financial goal.

 I was also finding new ways to make money such as flipping small items on e-bay.  I’d go into a Goodwill or other thrift shop and see something interesting.  I’d use my cell phone to look up its value.  If it was something I could turn a profit on, I bought it and resold it online.  I kept two boxes in my trunk with items that I was selling and ones that needed shipping out to customers.  I made about $100 extra a week doing this but it was hard work.  You had to beat people to the thrift stores and know when and where to look. 
One day an old lady accused me of “raping the store” where she shopped for trinkets.  I blew it off but saw her get into a newer SUV and drive off later.  I wish I would have told her that I was doing what I was doing to put gas in my car, which I lived in, while she was filling up her attic and storage building with junk she bought with her social security check. 

My next stroke of misfortune happened while I was camped at Walmart.  I had gone inside to pick out a DVD to watch on my laptop.  This was one of my favorite things to do and I usually got most of my money back by reselling the DVD online.  Sometimes I had them up for auction before I’d even watched them myself. 

I came outside carrying my bag with a bottle of coke, a snack and my DVD.  A guy in an Obama “Hope” tee shirt approached me and asked me for a dollar.  I told him that I didn’t have any case and kept walking.  He said something as I walked away but I didn’t hear what it was.  If he hadn’t been wearing $50 pants I would might have given him a dollar or two.  They were worth fifty bucks because I’d sold a few online in the past couple of months.  I owned a pair of slacks, a pair of shorts and a pair of jeans that all total might be worth $40. 

Being streetwise is something I never really was.  I didn’t notice that the guy had followed me back to my car.  He watched as I took out my laptop and put in the DVD.  A few minutes after that, he appeared at my window holding something wrapped up in a piece of cloth. 

“Give it up or I’ll pull the trigger,” he said like he was asking for a drink refill from a waitress.  “Give it up.” 

I seemed to just run on autopilot as I opened the door and handed him my laptop.  He clutched it under his arm and ran away.  I sat there dumbfounded and half in a daze over what had just happened.  I got out of the car after a few minutes of just sitting there and walked into walmart.  I went straight back to the electronics section and found the cheapest laptop they had.  That was when it hit me and I got my senses back. 

Walmart security called the police.  When the police got there, they seemed interested in helping until they realized I was a homeless person living in my car.  Then they sort of blew it off and suggested that I somehow knew the person who’d robbed me and I’d given up my laptop perhaps because of something I owed the robber.  The security tape showed me just handing the laptop over.  But I pointed out that if it was just part of a deal, why would the man in the Obama shirt run away?  The cops didn’t care but wanted to know why I walked back into the store after being robbed and it took me ten minutes before I contacted security.  Now I could see they were suggesting that I was trying to steal from Walmart and maybe the other guy was in on it.  Like I said, I wasn’t streetwise at all and didn’t realize that when cops get sick of dealing with you and your problem, they often start trying to accuse you of committing a crime so you’ll get scared and leave them alone. 

Now comes the part of the story where the reader suggests to me how they would have fought the robber off or done things differently while dealing with the cops.  Keep in mind that I’m not a hardened street tough like most people seem to think they are these days.  Less than a year before I was a dedicated husband, a business owner who was loyal to his employees and a man who’d never even been in a fist fight.  As far as the Obama shirt the robber was wearing, I just can’t get over the irony.  It had to be mentioned.  I was robbed from the top down to the bottom. 

So I decided to just get some rest and order a cheap laptop from e-bay the next day.  That was the day that the “check engine light” came on in my car.  I took it in for repairs and the tech said it was just an oxygen sensor that had gone out but there was a more serious problem with the engine.  It was going to cost me everything I had in the bank and then some.  I sort of broke down.  Maybe it was really a problem and cost a lot to fix.  Maybe the mechanics were just trying to rob me like everybody else.  I wanted my laptop back, my only source of entertainment in the world.  I made a scene and left before they had a chance to throw me out. 

I still bought a laptop from e-bay.  I also bought a large knife that I wear on my belt sometimes.  The check engine light glared up at me everywhere I went.  I tried to drive it as little as possible.  My car lasted a few more months and then one morning wouldn’t crank.  I was able to paying the $200 towing bill but not the repair costs.  So I lost it too. 

Now I am sitting in the library with the rest of the homeless people, telling you this story.  Good luck.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More on the Saiga .223

The more I shoot this rifle, the better of an idea it seems to be.  First, let me tell you where I've gone with it.  I painted it and threw on a huge 12x BSA scope I'd had lying around.  The rifle got to be a depot for all my spare accessories.  I picked up a Streamlight tactical light in the CZ (Veckol Valley) and fixed it to the UTG scope mount that I used to mount the BSA Cat's Eye.  I guess either militia or smugglers dropped it near what we all call "the slaughter house." 

I'm not a big BSA guy but the scope did what it was supposed to do down at the gun range.  So I started thinking.  What if I started making this my go-anywhere gun?  Fine, but it needed to be camoed for the CZ since out there concealment was such an issue.  Black rifles could be spotted from a long ways away out there.  So I went to town on a paint job to match the colors of the countryside out there. 



With all that done, I decided to totally serious about the rifle.  I started taking it to the range a lot and running a lot of ammo through it.  With my cheap scope on it, I could hit the bottom of a shaving cream can all day at more than 100 yards.  I'm no big fan of .223/5.56 but I'm starting to come around. 

So far, I haven't seen an AK this accurate.  My Saiga .308 is even behind this one.  My Ak-74 might come close if it had optics but I don't see that ever happening.  Sure, the huge scope is a little tough to get used to but I'm not the first guy to sacrifice a little comfort for accuracy.  I did get my hands on a Nikon P-223 scope through a trade and I'm considering putting it on the Saiga instead.  This will happen quickly if I go to the range and find that the BSA hasn't held its zero.  What do you guys think? 

The light is incredible.  Of all the loot I've brought back from the CZ, this is the best find yet.  A coyote was coming after some cats in my parents' yard the other night and I happened to be there with it.  My dad told me unless I had nightvision not to bother going after the coyote.  I cranked up the streamlight and he was impressed.  The light was perfect and didn't create a glare in the scope.  In fact, I haven't used the lit reticule in the scope in a long time because the Streamlight performs so well. 

I decided to dump all the cheap mags for it too.  Don't buy cheap magazines for this rifle.  I had a few and they just jammed or outright broke.  So I ordered a single SGM magazine from Midway USA.  First, it got here three days earlier than expected.  Second, Midway had an excellent price on it.  Third, shipping was $5.  Fourth?  It turned out to be a damn solid magazine.  It fit into the rifle like a glove ought to fit your hand.  That was it for me.  This was soon going to be my carry gun.  Maybe it wouldn't replace my AK-74 but it would for sure be a great backup.  So now I'm planning to purchase a new SGM magazine every month until I have enough for a combat load out.  As with my AK-74, I plan to carry at least six to eight mags. 

I'll let you guys know more about this rifle later on.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Books and projects. Rumors.

The second Cruel New World book is finished and needs editing.  I started on the third but decided to take a break and write Baron of the Coast.  About 75% of the way through Baron of the Coast, JT was killed and I slowed down writing it.  I had started a book with JT called "Rip Crew" and now I'm thinking about just adding that book in with one about JT himself and the "situation." 

I reached a good stopping point with Baron of the Coast and decided to come back to it in a month and finish up the last few chapters.  The book is running long and there is a possibility that I'll chop it in half and make it two books. 

Meanwhile, I'm working on a short little book about a maniac.  This book is somewhat based on real events but then dives headlong into fiction.  This book is about one of the many lunatics I've met in my travels.  Most of them have been disgusting portraits of humanity that I wouldn't be able to write more than a page about.  However, this guy was almost a cartoon of himself.  The book does involve real people and at least one person would have to approve a rough draft of the book for me to get it published.  I'm not doing anything that is an invasion of someone's privacy or something that could serve to be an extension of someone's suffering.  That is one reason the book on JT is going so slowly--I'm trying to consider everyone involved.  This book is one of those home-run books that writes itself.  I'm about 1/4 done with it and I'm in a huge rush to finish it.  The main character in the book is such a nut that it makes me feel a little crazy after working on it for a few hours. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Crashed!

The first step was taking an inventory of everything that might be worth saving from what was left of Hunter Army Airbase.  Sure, we know that anything that could fly, most likely took off a long, long time ago, never to return.  Anything else there was still hot with radiation...or so people thought.  We'd been there.  It was still warm, not hot.  The nuke that had narrowly missed Savannah and hit near Georgetown hadn't been a big one luckily.  If the Chinese had meant to take out Hunter, they'd done just that, even without a direct hit.  People avoided the area.  I say "people." 

The Moldi, as we call them around Savannah, somewhat occupied that area.  Atom Bomb Eaters, they called themselves.  It was a reference to their resistance to radiation, one can assume.  I guess their name somewhat described their most unique trait aside from being very, very ugly.  Some folks have said that the Moldi would carry out radioactive metal from inside the nearby bomb crater and place it where they didn't want normal people going.  It was their fault so many areas around Fort Stewart and the outskirts of Savannah were still hot. 

We talked about the Moldi and we talked about the riches of the lightly guarded holdings at the nearby Army airfield.  We'd sit at the Pirate House, drinking lemonade spiked with moonshine or beer that wasn't flat half the time.  The local folk band of the night would play a song and we'd all stop our conversation, regroup our thoughts and start planning all over again when their song was finished. This went on for several evenings.

When I say "we", I mean "us" as in the Broadstreet Bastards.  We more or less ran Broadstreet and East Bay Street.  We controlled the booze, hemp, tobacco and (deleted--street reference to female anatomy) mostly but we dabbled in other things too.  Savannah was a happening place because of us and what passed for the local government loved us.  We kicked a little their way for work on roads, sewage, communications and such.  A long time ago it was called "taxes" but taxes were something you had to pay to a higher power.  We were the higher power in our area and everybody knew we didn't have to pay squat.  But we did.  We loved the place and wanted to make sure it stayed lovely.  It was a jewel in a junkyard. 

But the problem with “some” is more.  You get "some" and you won't "more."  Some call it greed, we called it progress. 

Security was always the problem.  We had fresh water, plenty of food and even plumbing in most areas.  But half the people in Savannah at any given time were just passing through.  You had pirates to the north, Cubans to the south and a growing population of Moldi to the west.  BB had about 50 soldiers, who were nothing but soldiers.  The Marsh Men, another crew, had around 75 but not much gear.  The Salties were mostly fisher folk but they added around 20 well armed troops to the mix.  The local city militia numbered under 100 boots and weren't worth the worn out wool socks our guys threw away.  In all, there might have been around 200-250 boots to defend Savannah at any given time.  This was a problem for business.

The Moldi would raid us about once a month during the winter months and that would trail off in the summer to start up again around late fall.  At first it was 10 or 20 of the diseased mutants would rush in and try to carry off whatever they could.  We'd drop one or two and they'd get a couple of us in return.  Then they slowly started stepping it up five here and ten there.  Pretty soon, we were dealing with 50 or more at a time, often with light military vehicles and remakes (rebuilt civilian cars and trucks).  They had .50 cal weapons and hit us with the occasional rocket launcher, no doubt all salvaged from Fort Stewart.  Now that they were sending their big stuff into the mix and more troops (cheaper and more available than heavy weaponry), it was obvious that their confidence was building.  People were getting scared and some talked about moving.

We came up with all kinds of ideas during our planning sessions.  The best one was a doozy.  The best looking aircraft at Hunter Army Airfield was one of two CH-47 Chinook helicopters.  No, it wouldn't fly but we had people who had worked on them before and was sure it could be made flight-worthy again.  We had plenty of guys who claimed to know how to fly it too.  We could slowly rebuild it where it sat inside a hanger, then when the time was right, fly it back to Savannah.  It wasn't like a jet or a prop-plane that needed a runway.  We'd land it right in Forsyth park! 

Then we'd make it a bomber of sorts.  We'd then burn and blast the Moldi to a scattered gang of ugliness that a small farm work crew could wipe out.  With our chopper-bomber, they'd never come back either.  Then we could work on cleaning up their radioactive mess and expanding some too. 

Work began in the spring.  First, a few of us with a couple of mechanics slipped out to the air field.  It took two trips but the grease monkies figured out all the parts we needed to get the thing airborne.  All we had to do was get it to fly a few miles into the city.  No problem. 

It came time to make the final move.  The crew of tech had sneaked into the airfield for the last time and made their final touches.  They radioed in and said that they'd seen a few Moldi poking around the tower that stood near the hangers.  I remember the radio being filled with static, often a sign of radiation. 

This wasn’t the first time we’d seen a small patrol like that.  They were always small and infrequent, apparently never detecting us or noticing our work inside the hanger. 

Everything was set.  The aircraft was fueled and all it needed was a pilot. 

We went in during the early morning hours, just before dawn.  Since we weren’t carrying any tools, parts or fuel on this run, we entered at the far end of the airstrip.  It was heavily cratered from the war and fast movement was difficult.  It was the cautious man’s path though.  You could move from one crater to another, sure to have plenty of cover if you took fire.  I was carrying my Mossberg MVP in 5.56.  It was a bolt action rifle with a fluted barrel but what was special about it was that it took standard NATO 5.56 magazines.  I had a small Nikon scope mounted on it which wasn’t the most fancy example of optics but worked well for me.  The rifle’s wooden stock had someone’s name carved into it in Chinese.  It wasn’t uncommon for the Chinese to use American weapons and it wasn’t that uncommon for us to recover them at some point.  The rifle had most likely been snatched from a sporting goods store showcase and carried around by some Chinese soldier or brigand.  I’d found it wrapped in an oil cloth in a deserted cabin cruiser that was drifting down the Savannah river one day. 

I had carried a single grenade of local manufacture and a road flare.  If things went bad, we’d stick the flare into the fuel tank and make a run for it.  Once we started that bird up, the Moldi would know exactly what we were doing. 

We had no idea after we’d wenched the aircraft out that so much racket was to ensue.  The thing is, there is only so much you can do to get one of these birds ready to fly without cranking it up.  You’ve don’t want the first time you crank it up to be the first time you try to fly it too.

I was strapped into one of the fold-down passenger seats in the back.  The pilot tried the first start, which made a lot of racket and blew thick white smoke everywhere.  Cursing and coughing, he tried again.  The second time was the same result but with less smoke.  Again and on the third try, he got it.  The engine began to torque up and soon the blades were spinning.  That was when something thumped on the wall opposite from where I was sitting.  Then a window shattered.  I pulled my pipe gun out of its holster as soon as I was out of my safety belt.  I easily kicked the rest of the safety glass window out as another bullet hit the chopper near where the first had struck. 

A pair of Moldi was shooting from behind a low brick wall in front of a one story administration building.  One had some sort of long gun, maybe homemade and the other had a pistol of some sort.  They weren’t doing much damage but at the time, nobody knew what the chopper could take.  My pipe gun was a break-open single shot pistol that fired a 20 gauge round.  It was made from a small door hinge, a piece of pipe and a crude action but it worked.  Up close, it was a murderous bastard but at the range between us and the Moldi, it was a grouchy old man hurling insults.  I fired it anyway, at least to let them know that we were shooting at them. 

The pilot was a quick thinker.  He lifted into the air just a bit and swung the old girl around 45 degrees.  This put our aft section and our M60 facing them.  BUMP BUMP BUMP BUMP BUMP!  It began taking apart the brick wall the Moldi were hiding behind.  Cover became concealment and not even adequate concealment.  Brick flew everywhere around a cloud of reddish dust.  Magically, our gunner didn’t hit either one of them and they were able to take off running before he fired another short burst after them.  Both had gotten away. 

This encounter is what I think doomed the whole operation.  The pilot and crew were all spooked a little bit and rightfully so.  We had to get out of there and fast.  The pilot took us up about like being on a rocket powered express elevator.  I swear to you all that I heard something metallic snap towards the rear of the chopper.  Nobody else seemed to notice as we began to head towards the city. 

Suddenly the chopper jerked hard to one side and back again.  My head slammed up against the seat so hard that it felt like I’d hit against bare steel instead of cushion.  I cursed and before I could ask what was going on, we were spinning out of control.  The world was a sickening blur of motion.  The pilot was good and fought the craft hard but it wasn’t enough.  The hand of almighty himself was all that could help us at that point.  I don’t know how high we were or how fast we were going but I remember it crossing my mind that everything would be fine if I just held on, even though strapped in. 

I don’t remember the crash.  We can all assume that I was knocked out when we hit.  The chopper was nearly broken in half and there wasn’t a soul anywhere as I glanced around.  I painfully undid the straps and struggled to keep my balance on the tilted deck.  My head was killing me.  I just wanted to shut my eyes and stay perfectly still.  But I couldn’t.  There was a horrible itching sensation all over me. 

That was when I stepped out of the wreckage and found out where I was.  I was just on the edge of “THE” crater.  It was a good place to land since it was mostly water and mud with no vegetation.  It wasn’t a good place to stick around in though, since the radiation levels were still high.  That was why I’d been left behind.  I wiped the blood from my nose and mouth and realized that the others must have assumed I was dead when they did an evac.  There was a blood trail leading out of the crater and I knew I’d gotten lucky in the middle of an angry mob of bad luck. 

The first thing to do was leave.  You don’t mess around with radiation, friends.  The M60 was still on its mount along with half a belt of ammo.  I left it, just grabbing my rifle and praying that the scope wasn’t knocked off zero or broken completely.   My grenade and flare were both missing too.  I assume the survivors had apparently had time to grab those items on their way out but not make sure I was really dead.

The mud wasn’t as bad a tidal sludge but wasn’t easily navigated through either.  Struggling through it zapped all my energy.  Before long, I found myself completely out of breath and with my head pounding worse than before, laying in some tall swamp grass.  It was safe to assume that the grass wouldn’t have grown where it did if the radiation levels had been dangerously high.  The way my head felt, death would have been a release anyway.  But just when one might think it couldn’t hurt any worse, it did. 

As I got up from my resting, I tried not to cry out in pain.  It was so awful that I fell to my knees and puked.  Noise discipline was not a great concern anymore.  Where were the other guys, I wondered as I re-collected myself. 

In the distance, there was a snapping of rifles and the familiar pop of pistols being fired.  Trouble.  The Moldi must have come to investigate the crash and ran into our guys.  Then a firefight was on just to the north east of me.  Our guys didn’t stand a chance, I figured.  Besides, I wouldn’t have been much help in a fight since it hurt to walk, much less run.  The best path to take, I figured, was straight north.  West would take me right back into the frying pan. 

For as long as I could, I’d walk with my eyes closed.  The idea was to just open them long enough to check the path for obstructions.  I frequently stopped to rest.  After about an hour, my head was feeling better.  Not great but it was better enough that movement wasn’t a problem.  Sleep was on my mind now.  Every few minutes, I’d ask myself, “are you nuts?  If you sleep here, you’ll be found and killed!  Just another 500 yards and you can lie down.” 

This went on for at least a mile or two.  Coming across a stream was great luck and a long drink of water made me feel a lot better.  Just when I was contemplating walking the rest of the way to Savannah, I noticed a small overturned wooden boat.  It looked like it had been there for year, just a few yards from the stream’s bank.  After a quick check for snakes sleeping under it, I crawled beneath and passed out.  My dreams were replays of the crash, over and over again.  Sometimes a detail would be added or omitted, such as landing in a lake of fire or hitting an oak tree to explode. 

Something thumped hard on the side of the boat.  I woke up and blinked, trying to remember where I was.  Again, something landed hard against the old wooden john boat.  That was it, I thought.  I was caught.  I could risk a shot at my captors or do myself a favor and put one through my own head.  Decision time was coming fast.

“Come out of there!” a hoarse voice shouted. 

I held my breath.  Maybe it was just one of them.  I could shoot him and make a break for it. 

“Get up, you lazy bum!” called the voice again.  “Help us with the net!  The rain is coming!” 

Saved by assumption.  The Moldis were working a net in the stream and thought I was a worker sleeping in an apparently popular hiding place. 

“Yeah,” I replied back in a rough voice, trying to sound like a Moldi.  “Be right there.  Got to put some clothes on.”

The voice became a little more aggravated.  “What do you need clothes for in the water?  Come on before a storm hits.” 

Good, I thought.  They were working the stream in water deeper than what you needed to roll your pants up to collect a net from.  I supposed they were using a barricade net.  But there is one thing to know about a Moldi.  Don’t think just because the ugly mongrel is barefoot that he won’t chase you.  Their hide is tougher and a good portion of them don’t bother with shoes. 

As soon as the fisherman walked away cursing at me, I slipped out from under the boat and headed off in the opposite direction.  Maybe I’d gone fifty yards when I ran into, literally ran into, a young Moldi about my same height and build.  He had been coming down the trail when I’d ran smack into him.  He sat there flat on his ass, palms flat on the ground, staring at me in shock.  I leapt to my feet as I bought the butt of my rifle up into his chin.  He fell backwards, his head striking a small tree’s trunk. 

I pulled out my trench dagger.  It was a piece of rebar sharpened into a point with the other end bent around into a knuckle-duster type grip.  I started to sink the dagger into his chest but noticed that he was totally unconscious.  Now, I’m not a humanitarian and if I was, it wouldn’t have mattered since I don’t consider Moldi to be human.  But it was a matter of time and noise.  I let him slide, that is, if my blow from the stock of my rifle didn’t kill him.  I doubt it did.  They are a tough breed and anyone knows not to try one in a bare knuckle boxing match. 

For a moment, my headache was gone.  I ran like the devil himself was on my heels.  Tree limps and brush hit me in the face but I didn’t care.  I just ran down the little game trail, hoping I was still going in the right direction.  I finally fell to the ground, out of breath and seeing spots. 

I’d bought myself a little time but not much.  Quickly, I recollected myself and got back moving.  Was I being followed?  Maybe.  Who was following me?  Fishermen?  I knew enough about the Moldi to know that warriors seldom engaged in menial labor.  Aside from hunting, they spent most of their time preparing for the next raid.  That didn’t mean that a few fishermen didn’t have a rifle or a shotgun between them.  I had to be close to Savannah territory and they had to know their chances of a violent encounter increased for every foot they got closer to our land. 

I found a clearing or what was close enough to be a clearing in the thick swamp.  If someone was after me, they’d have to pass through it.  Snatching down a few branches, I made a hide and waited.  Thinking better of it, I removed my 10 round magazine and replaced it with a 30 round NATO magazine I carried as a spare.  A thick pine tree was my brace and I held my scope on the trail.  Hopefully, the scope was undamaged in the crash.  At that close range, it shouldn’t have mattered that much if it was off a little. 

I didn’t see the whole Moldi but I saw the color of his shirt:  brown.  It was a dirty looking homespun wool shirt.  I didn’t think, just pulled the trigger.  I saw a spot of red appear on the shirt and a scared hand reach up to grab it.  Looking back, it would have been a better idea to wait and shoot the second or third man in line.  But nerves were worn thin and common sense was only lingering on the porch. 

Curses came from across the narrow clearing and shots rang out.  I didn’t move.  Bits of tree limps and leaves fell around me from the return fire.  I didn’t budge.  The scope was on its lowest power but I still had to look around it to see if I could detect movement.  I did.

BAM clack-clack BAM! I put two into the bush that had shaken.  A Moldi fell dead and rolled out a little ways into the clearing.  I worked the bolt and swung my rifle to where I’d heard noise.  A hot pain flashed across my jaw, just about the jaw line.  Damn I was hit…

It wasn’t that bad but enough to make me take my eyes off the targets.  A buckshot pellet had cut the side of my face.  But I had been lucky.  Another inch and I would have got hit in the mouth or the neck.  It bled like crazy, turning my collar red. 

You join a gang because you think you are tough.  You stay in a gang because you turn out to be.  I was tough. 

I brought my rifle back up and aimed at where I thought the shot had game from.  A raspy voice shouted an insult my way and I pumped three more rounds in the area it came from, though I doubt I hit the foul mouthed fiend that I had wanted to.  Just then I heard screaming and shouting as 4 Moldi burst from cover and charged.  What happened next was like watching a slow motion video. 

I hit the first one in the leg, a terrible place to hit a Moldi since most will drag along after you.  This one did just that, pipe gun in hand.  The second one took a round in the mid section but didn’t seem to realize he was hit.  He just buckled over, nearly falling and continued to run towards me, screaming.  The third I missed completely.  I don’t know how but I did.  The fourth took a round center-mass and fell flat on his face, sliding through the grass for about a foot.  That left me with two to deal with who were immediate threats.  By now they were too close for my scope so I just sighted down the barrel and fired.  I hit the wounded one a second time, this time in the chest.  He stopped his charge, holding his left breast and looking at the ground.  Hit but not down. 

I’d just chambered another round when the uninjured one was on top of me.  He was flailing fists but doing no real damage since most of the blows were landing on the top of my head.  The rifle was knocked out of my hands before it could be used as a club.  I got to my trench dagger and swung it up at the Moldi.  I got him across the arm, making him jump back.  Blood ran down over his deformed skin, across his fingers and dripped onto the ground. 

He cursed and shouted for his comrade, who was coming up behind him slowly, a pained expression on his face.  “Use your pistol,” he urged, pointing at me. 

“Use your knife,” the wounded Moldi replied, pointing to a machete handing in a homemade scabbard on the other’s rubber belt.  “Not a very big one.  Not a very good blade either.” 

The wounded Moldi still held his pistol ready.  I wondered if I could make it for my rifle just a few feet away.  The uninjured Moldi just stared at me from behind wild eyes. 

“Give up,” he grunted.  “Give up and put down your blade.  We might trade you back for goods.”

I knew that never happened.  Moldi were never bargained with, not in a situation like the one they wanted to put me in.  Besides, I had enough sense to know that any deal made in the field by lightly armed underlings wouldn’t be honored back in their settlement.  They frequently burned people to death and anyone would choose bleeding out on the forest floor to that. 

“Come on, bitch,” I said, beckoning with my left hand.
The wounded Moldi laughed and then coughed.  “Kill him, tough man.” 

Always bet on the guy who is fighting for his life if the odds are anywhere near even.  Never bet on the guy who is fighting to save face.  The Moldi took a step towards me, machete in hand.  I threw my trench dagger right at his face.  It didn’t stab into him but cut him open badly.  It was better than it flipping and hitting him with just the handle and knuckle guard though.  Blood poured from his forehead and over his face as he swung wildly with his machete.  I jumped to one side to put him between me and the one with the pistol, who already had it up aiming it. 

I got my hands on the rifle and fired, hitting the attacking Moldi in the chest.  He fell to his knees, dropping his blade.  The Moldi held up his arm, like he was about to call a “time out” and then fell backwards, dead.  I had another round in the chamber in seconds. 

The wounded Moldi held his pistol on me but I had a good chance of hitting him too.  Time froze for a moment.  Slowly, I took a step backwards.  The Moldi didn’t move but stared at me with soulless eyes.  Every step I took put me further from him and improved my chances.  I heard distant shouts behind him and knew that there were more on the way, undoubtedly fresh and well armed.

I don’t remember making the decision to start into a run but I did.  A shot cracked behind me and a bullet whizzed by my head.  Later, it was easy to figure out that the Moldi who I’d wounded was as close to a private citizen as Moldis got.  His ammo was his own stash and he was reluctant to use it unless he really had to.  No burst of 5 or 6 rounds came but I still ran like a mad man.  The odds of me holding them off a second time were slim, even though I still had half a magazine in my rifle and another 30 rounds in my pocket, plus my 10 round magazine. 

After running another exhausting mile or so, I didn’t hear the sounds of pursuit anymore.  I kept up a brisk pace for another mile and found a FASCAM shell right where the trees started to thin out.  FASCAM shells scattered small land mines everywhere and after 10 years or more, they could be covered over well by brush.  That was bad but what made it worse was that I knew I was near the entrance to a more recently planted minefield.  The only good news was that it meant I was almost home.  I knew a few of the minefields near the south-west of Savannah but was familiar with the one in front of me.  The best thing to do, I thought, was crawl…slowly.  I crawled through the wet grass, feeling ahead of me with the butt of my rifle.  I finally saw one mine, a large anti-tank mine, partially unearthed by erosion caused by a tiny stream.  Anti-personnel mines were what I was afraid of though.  Those were hard to detect and even a bump from my rifle could set one off. 

I looked up to see if I was still being followed.  Nobody was behind me, yet.  But I saw something that caught my attention.  A white tailed deer grazed just 50 yards from me.  I’d been so quiet and slow that it hadn’t seen me.  There were a lot more deer now than there used to be.  One reason was less people and another reason was that people saved ammo for killing other humans, generally only hunting deer as a last resort.  This one perked its head up and tested the air.  It must have smelled me.  I watched as it slowly figured out where I was and took to a bounding run, right back towards Savannah. 

It wasn’t perfect but it was better than nothing.  This deer hadn’t stepped on a mine with his four legs; maybe if I followed him, I’d do fine with two.  I got into a high crawl and followed where the deer had run.  This was a better idea than you might think since most AP mines I knew of in the area were bounding-mines or generically called “bouncing betties.”  Your chances of surviving one improved if you were lower to the ground, or so I’d been told. 

Stealing a glance behind me, I saw a horrifying sight.  At least 30 or more Moldi were all standing here and there along the tree line.  They all looked well armed and most wore camouflage clothing.  They didn’t shout or curse, much less shoot at me.  Apparently, they knew full well about the mine field.  They all stood like hungry dogs watching a cat from behind a glass window.

Why weren’t they shooting?  The must have been worried about the rusty old guard tower, barely visible in the distance and the bunker at its base.  No doubt it had a machine gun or two but from behind cover, could have done little to the group at that range.  They could have all dropped down after killing me and any return fire (if any) would have only nailed one or two by accident. 

The problem I had besides the Moldi standing at the edge of the minefield was one of animal mechanics.  The deer covered a lot of ground quickly when it ran and normally left several feet between each time its hooves hit the ground.  There was a good chance that it had leaped right over a mine that I would be sure to crawl over. 

I was almost through the minefield when I lost track of where the deer had ran before.  Cursing, I looked around to see distant shapes, slowly retracing my path behind me, keeping low as well.  The Moldi had been waiting for me to get through the minefield so they could follow safely. 

A hatch flung open on top of the round concrete bunker and a person wave out to me.  A long rust stain ran down from the hatch to nearly the bottom of the weather-worn bunker. 

“Come on!” he called.  “Just run straight ahead and you’ll be ok!” 

I got up to my feet and ran.  The light snap of a .22 rifle sounded from the tower, first one or two shots then a rapid burst.  Why such a light rifle, I wondered?  The Moldi were now running as well.  I got to the barbed wire and carefully tried to get through it without being badly cut.  No luck.  I got cut several times but after a minute, got through it.  Fortunately the wire was lighter near the bunker, the idea being that in front of the bunker was the worst place to be anyway. 

Bleeding again and with my clothes torn, I ran for the bunker.  A knotted rope was thrown over the side and I began to climb it.  A rifle round smacked the concrete near me and the .22 on the tower began to snap away again.  There was no way they could hit the Moldi who were a good 250 yards behind me. 

I got to the open hatch and someone helped me inside.  The hatch slammed behind me as I dropped a few feet to the top of a wooden staircase.  “Come on and bring your rifle,” said someone who had just dogged the hatch and came down a latter behind me. 

The person was a man in his 30’s wearing a brown garrison cap and old Marine digital camo.  He had an M14 in his hand and wore a black armored vest.  I ran behind him down a dimly lit hallway that led towards the front of the bunker.  At the end of the hall was another round hatch, which the soldier rapidly turned a crank to open.  Daylight came through wire-mesh partially covered gun ports.  Two more soldiers were aiming rifles next to a fake machine gun made from PVC pipe and plywood. 

“Don’t shoot until you know you’ve got a shot,” the soldier said to me.  “If we can’t keep ‘em back with the .22’s then we wait until they get within 50 meters before we let them have it.”

I didn’t brace my rifle out of the gun ports like the soldiers did but took aim from further back in the room, bracing from some stacked wooden crates.  Nobody there seemed to have much experience.  I waited until I had a clear shot and fired first.  I hit the Moldi right in the spine, dropping him cold.  The others in the bunker began firing too and we had three Moldi down in no time.  They paused to return fire and one of the soldiers hit the floor of the bunker, holding his bloody neck.  They tried to move forward again but we killed two more of them.  It wasn’t worth it to them and the rest turned back, retreating same way they’d came in.  A light mortar barked from behind the tree line but its shells fell harmlessly around the bunker but did manage to break a window out of the tower.  Ironically, I don’t think a single Moldi stepped on a single mine.  I was starting to doubt there were that many still out there.  I knew that the militia occasionally moved mines from one field to another, depending on the threat and depending on how easily the particular mine was to move. 

The soldier on the floor died while we were waiting for a quad to ride out from the nearest outpost to do a medivac.  I was taken back to Savannah were I was treated for mild radiation poisoning.   

Nobody else survived the operation but me.  As a result, the Moldi occupied the airfield instead of just patrolling it occasionally.  Apparently, they’ve started working on one of the old aircrafts, having our same idea. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

AJ shows us how to be a man about it. (Updated)

Aj is a soldier.  He's the type that whose body you'd expect to step over post-battle at the Alamo.  He is probably the finest example of a border ranger out there and in my opinion, a damn fine human being. 

He was always a quiet guy and at our first meeting, I didn't peg him as a nationalist until after we swapped a few jokes.  AJ was loyal to JT sure, but more so to the mission at hand.  JT gave him a lot of lip too, which he patiently endured.  The man could patrol all day in 100 degree heat and stop to change a tire in five minutes.  All that considered, he was a friend to everybody out there.  Without him, we'd have spent more time trying to make it to the freeway on foot than doing what we had set out to do. 

Aj said the most I'd ever seen him say on his facebook page today.  It looks like he has turned and  faced the demon looming at our backs since the start.  His post is in response to the article on the Veterans Today site which initially gave us a glimmer of hope. 

"After reviewing the 9-11 recordings in their entirety, I request that this article be amended in respect to Lisa and her family. I can verify it is her voice, and after the 1st gunshot, you can hear JT say "You fucked up" before moving to kill Lisa. Its with a sick and heavy heart that I say that JT dishonored himself and betrayed us all, but mostly he betrayed Lisa, who took him in during some of his darkest days. He betrayed Amber and Hiott, who tried to help him with his campaign, and patrolled with him, and betrayed the innocent, little Lily, who was only just beginning her adventure through life, all people he had sworn to protect."

 

For someone who doesn't talk much, he said it all.  The sadness of all this is crushing.  But we have to face it for what it is now.  I respect AJ and I know he'd never go off half-cocked on anything, much less something as important as this. 

I'll never, ever get the image of that little girl's face from my mind.  She'll be there in my dreams and thoughts for the rest of my life.  But we'll continue on. 

They say in every life a little rain must fall.  I guess we're in a downpour with zero visibility right now. 

If AJ wants me to, I'll take down his post.  It just hit me as something that needed to be said at this point. 

UPDATE:  AJ asked that I add this to the post. 

Yeah, just put an addendum in there: JT was a strong, outspoken, and natural leader. He put himself out there so we didn't have to. He took the brunt of the abuse and hatred from the media, and put the crosshairs on himself if it ever would have come down to a cartel hit. His downfall may be pride, he was too proud to realize he needed help, since he was so used to showing a strong hand to our adversaries. I wish I had known he needed more help, or another place to stay, since it appears Lisa and JT were not getting along, though whenever I visited it didn't seem apparent, as far as I knew, she supported his efforts to stop narco-terrorism and the war against Americans. To all the Patriots out there, be strong, but stop and take inventory now and again. The struggle for survival is not going to be won in a single generation, as it has taken decades for us to get where we are, and we cannot afford to lose anymore Patriots.


And there you have it.  I'm going to expand on this more later but I agree with AJ, JT positively needed help.  He'd mentioned to me that he suffered from PTSS from things that happened to him while he was a Marine.  He had a quick temper as well, but always seemed to rapidly get it under control.  Nobody here is making an excuse for him or what happened.  All we can do is help provide a few hints as to what was going on in his head. 

I did know that he was in a complicated living situation.  However, I didn't think it was so much the result of a relationship going sour as it was his desire to be closer to the action.  With fuel prices at record highs, we all were trying to come up with ways to be closer to the border.  We'd talked a lot about campers and for all I knew, he was working on getting one.  He was going to pull it close to where we deployed from and live there most of the time.  It was my idea since I had a camper at a retreat once, which I had lived in comfort on and off.  I had told him that it was a difficult thing to secure but simple to maintain and highly mobile.  We'd talked about solar and wind power next.  If we'd ever completed the project sooner, maybe things would have been different.  IF IF IF.