WRITING: Dog in the manger

Dog in the manger

“We’ll be back in the morning with your new roomates.” The TSA “housing officer” turned and stomped out.

Well they had finally caught up with him. Having one person living in the ancestral three bedroom hovel was indeed not “fair” to all the folk who had less. It was up to him to share as Big Brother decided was equitable. But he’d been paying, and would continue to pay. Well, the time had arrived. It would be dark soon.

He walked outside and took two thin little sticks taped to the downspout and found their place in the lawn. One taller than the other. It went furthest from the house; the shortest closer.

It’d been a good house. Filled with joy. Of course, there was sadness. Who can balance such things. But it was his. He paid the mortgage off in good times and bad. He’d paid the ever increasing taxes that made him feel like a renter. Or a serf to the feudal lord. He couldn’t be any more attached to it than if he’d actually mowed the lawn for himself. There were no children to leave it to, but still the State didn’t have the courtesy to wait until he died to steal it. He knew that any protest was futile. Redress of grievances would have to wait for a higher court.

There were a few last chores to do. He took a ride in the ratty old truck around town with a little box glowing green. Its mates woke up from their slumber and glowed green in sympathy. He drove to the park. A little less than a mile away. Where the happy couple had thought their children would play. Every time he passed, he thought that way. Who’d have believed that it would end this way. At least, she wasn’t here to see it. That made him free. He was uplifted as he walked back from the park.

But it would be dark soon. He had his last meal in the old house. Oatmeal. That’s all he could afford. He then packed a small kit to take to the new world. If he made it. Anything of value was in that. Wife’s ring, his diploma, picture of his first car. Those were the idyllic days when anything was possible. Before the boot on the neck. And the little entrenching tool from WW2. Where had that been. Never in as desperate situation as now.

At full dark, he turned off the light. Opened the valves. Waited for his eyes to adjust. Let himself out and walked to the park. It was dark. He was in black. And, no one cared. One didn’t look out one’s windows these days. Better not to see the experiment ending.

To the park and up that little hill commanding the heights. Six paces from the top marker towards the house, five at starboard forty five, and dig. The ground was hard from decades of sleep. When the Government first said his tools were “illegal”, he’d stored them for a rainy day. And, they were so stupid they couldn’t remember he had them. Three foot down. Half the distance for a grave. Would be if he was found. There were the long laid down tools. In pvc tubes, dirty but unbent. He laid the three side by side. This was the Rubicon. In the twinkle of an Irish Eye, the thought came: “It was her house.” That decided it. The thermite was struck and immediately flared. As if it had been freshly placed. The tools emerged from their long sleep. The dry ice, solid no more, smoked like a cigarette from the white tube casket. “George” and “Martha”, twin 45’s, were holstered once again. “Little Joe”, an American sten, was loaded and primed. And, finally, “Big Ben”, all 12 pounds of his 50 cal frame, was ready to rock.

From his fighting hole, he deployed his cover. The enemy would control the air. But, if he was lucky, and they were up to their usual subpar, he could escape after his task. His estimates wandered from slim to none. With stops at crazy, and what have you done. False dawn passing. His sweat cooled. He smelled homeless which would soon be true. But he carried his home in his heart. Along with the murder he was about to do. Peaceful by nature, never to strike the first blow, he respond to this aggression, with a kick in the nuts. Be careful of the quiet ones. Still water runs deep. Courage is to bear the little insults and respond to the big ones with all the outrage of a mother bear defending her cub. Homes are not cubs, but they can be symbols. Of what should have, might have, or could have been. Hence ikons of faith and hope. There’d be no charity here. Dawn.

Time to get to work. There were distances to confirm, angles to mark, little sticks to line up, and prayers to be said. Quickly done for it was mere a repeat of what had been planned. Drilled in the mind’s eye during each affront and insult. That glassy eyed stare at the “Nazi du jour” was not apathy. But vengeance being planned. Beware that stare should it be aimed at you. The bell tolls. That bell’s for you.

It was really anticlimactic. At first, he thought they wouldn’t show. But about 10, they did. Four cars. One truck. A squad of sixteen men. Six officers. One of whom was that “housing officer”. Three men and a officer blocked the street. Three men each to a sides of the house. The ones going on the closest side broke those sticks without noticing. No matter the mark had been set at the business end. It was really child’s play. He had no time to watch the show; there was work to be done. “Big Ben” ate 15 at a time, so there’d be a reload or two. Quick would be the word and sharp at the mark. For this was his.

It sounded like a cannon, but, in truth but a whisper, silence is golden and a silencer is de rigueur. Like Sargent York’s instruction about geese, you shoot the ones who can’t be seen by the others. Bang, bang, bang, bang, … as methodical as driving nails with a nail gun. The Misguided Children were right. Let God sort them out. The road guard disposed of. He took the back guard. They were easy the one facing back was first. Facing the back next. Finally, the guy who realized he had only seconds. He could see his eyes widen in terror. No matter. The time for realization that one was a “Nazi” was long ago. Today there was merely retribution. The officers in front next. By now, they’d figured out that they were “Custer” and someone else was “Sitting Bull”. Old ideas die hard. And, misperceptions deadly. They’d done this to the sheep so many times that they’d forgotten that there was a thing called a sheep dog. They paid with their lives. Running for cover was an amusing attempt. A 50 cal is no match for a car door. Put two in and watch the blood drip. But there was still the living to tend too. One obvious vet had thrown himself down to play dead. Since he wanted to play, I helped him to be realistic. A few threw down their weapons and put their hands up. Sorry, this isn’t the movies. This is Fifth Generation War. Bang, bang, bang.

The clock in his head was ticking louder and louder. Ammo was no problem; time was. Some one had to have called for help. If he was to survive, he’d better be quick. And lucky. He paused to survey the killing field. He thought he got everyone. But need to be sure. None should survive. Maybe that was a bad plan? One should of to tell the tale. Nah, he’d stick to the plan.

Then he heard the tell tale noise. Rotors. His life had gotten shorter. Maybe he could hit his miracle shot. The copter would be over the house. That was 800 meters. Let’s guess and altitude of a 1,000 feet. At eight inches per thousand drop on a level. What’s the drop at say 45 degrees? Aww, hell, there’s no time to calculate. If he even could. Call it 16 mils and aim high. “Big Ben” said “feed me”. So AP it was. Only five. They cost a cspot each at the local black market. Fired four at the bird. And may have got lucky. It spun off with smoke.

Time to bring the curtain down. So far we’d been lucky. Me and my friends — George, Martha, Little Joe, and Big Ben. But luck runs out and sevens always come. And the double zero is there to break up red and black. So into the stock where those two sticks lined up. And one AP round into the buried gas meter later, the old house was history. The gas in the house, fired by the gas at the meter, put splinters for meters. The smoke was amazing; the flame not bad either. Be long time before anyone could get near her.

So it was time to move on. “Big Ben” said “more”. But we were low on ammo and the targets were covered with wood chips. Slung Ben. Picked up Joe. And, quick march to the truck. This is where it could get dicy. Would anyone have figured out where the highpoint was? “Little Joe” was for that last fire fight. As I emerged from the park I still saw no one. Maybe some disadvantaged urban yutes inspecting cars but they were up the block. I think they saw Little Joe. Maybe they just saw a killer and decided “professional courtesy”. Either way Little Joe went on the front seat. Big Ben to the back. On the floor; not the rack. As I crossed the main road, I figured I need to give the Gooferment something else to think about. Pressed the button and a red light lit. Could hear the explosions. The high point looked like a volcano. Amazing what diesel, fertilizer, and some PriD do. Time to concentrate on the road.

Six non-stop hours later, he was in the Free State thanks to the back roads. He stopped at the first bar. After a pit stop, he ordered his first scotch in his new life. “Barkeep, is my gun safe in my truck?” “Sure, but feel free to bring it in. Everyone else does. Like Heinlein said.” Yup, the Free State! He’d made it. Just lucky.

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