sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Vigilante Moon (part three)

Vigilante Moon (continued)

a fictional short


Dewey walked back into his pawnshop once I handcuffed the bum, so he watched from a distance. When I keyed the microphone, it sent out a GPS signal with my precise coordinates. There are also GPS transponders that we’re supposed to wear, but none of those work.

I called for the Short Bus on the radio for a transport.  The armored three-ton "Short Bus"  (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) six-wheeled paddy wagon roared up while he was still twitching, though now handcuffed and searched.

Corporal Bruce (Blue Moon) Mooney worked for me and drove the armored car that was mine-proof, bullet-proof, grenade-proof, everything but idiot-proof. 

“What ya got, Sarge?”

Mooney had a long, hang-dog, wrinkled face. He’d been on the job twenty longer than me and had a serious alcohol problem, which is why he drove the wagon. It was almost impossible to dent the Short Bus no matter what you hit, and he hit a lot of things when he was in his cups.

I handed Mooney what I found on the guy. “His name is Mark Fuller and he’s carrying army credentials, even though he’s out of uniform. He’s also got a small army issue handgun.”

Mooney bagged the ID and gun, then I handed him the magazine I’d taken from the pistol. “It’s one of those fancy pistols that only fires if the DNA of the trigger puller matches the chip in the weapon.”

“Exploding rounds.” Mooney marveled.

“That means he’s either a very good army imposter or he’s a soldier here on the street out of uniform, wearing long hair, with a yen to hurt a cop.”

“Did he try anything on you, Sarge?”

“He wanted to, but I blasted him for good measure before he got the chance.”

“Good thinking.”

I helped Mooney lift Soldier Mark Fuller into the coffin on the back of the wagon. They aren’t real coffins. They look like metal coffins and we use them to transport incapacitated prisoners. You dump the prisoner in the coffin and it’s moved into position on top of the wagon by means of a hydraulic hoist.

Before the coffin snapped shut, Drummond walked up to me, dressed in his bum clothing. 

“The damned blasters are effective.” Drummond observed dispassionately, “But you’ll have hell to pay.” Then he looked up at me, because I’m taller than he is. 

 “Yeah, they’re with me. They’re from the Federal Protective Police.” 

The coffin lid snapped shut. Mooney toggled the hoist.

“Nobody told me about an operation in my district, Drummond. The rules call for me to be informed. If I’m not, I’m not responsible for any pre-emptive action I take.”

“The Protective Police can do more or less anything they want.”

“He doesn’t have police identification. He has army identification, he’s out of uniform, and he may be a fancy fed, but he wasn’t blaster-proof was he?”

Drummond’s voice grew plaintive, “I said he was with me, Sergeant Muldoon.”

“How many times have you busted my chops, Drummond?” 

The coffin clanked home on top of the wagon and the retaining latches engaged.

Drummond shrugged. “Fuck ‘em. Frankly, Muldoon I don’t care much about the guy. He treated me like a local.”

“You are a local,” I pointed out politely, “and so am I.”

“I was an army officer, a federal officer,” Drummond said somewhat wistfully.

“You’re a Party man. You do what the Party says, right?” Drummond looked at me hard and I saw for once that he wasn’t all together pleased with who he was. I filed it away and slapped the armored flanks of the wagon. Blue-black smoke belched from its smoke stacks as it powered up and lumbered from the curb into the street.



Lieutenant Howard Chang, even more of a lush than Corporal Mooney, served as the watch commander and my immediate boss for the South Side. Drummond called ahead so Chang was aware of something afoot, but neither he nor Drummond cracked the coffin with Soldier Mark Fuller, or whatever his real name was, still stuffed in it. In fact, Drummond was nowhere to be seen.

A couple of hours had passed since Mooney hoisted it onto the wagon. I didn't like being called a flatfoot, so I let the situation mellow. I imagined that it was getting ripe in there – and hot. Oxygen ported into the coffins by way of ducting so unless he vomited and aspirated it, it was unlikely he’d die from asphyxiation while confined. But if he wasn’t dead, he’d be conscious and furious inside the coffin with his full trousers getting raunchier.

I met the lieutenant near the wagon. Mooney stood more or less to attention near the rear of the wagon.

“Muldoon, what are you doing out there on my streets?” Chang asked. His Asiatic eyes were narrowed to even finer slits than they had been.

“Earning, Lieutenant Chang.”

A light went on in Chang’s more or less pickled mind and his eyes opened, hopeful. “What did you come up with, Muldoon?”

“Contraband alcoholic beverage, no tax stamps. A whole case of Tullimore Dew export grade.” Dewey gave me the case to bring in because he thought somebody was going to be upset about the electroshocked fed.

Chang pulled me aside by the arm, out of earshot from Corporal Mooney. “Where did you find it?”

“Not far from where I arrested this guy. I think maybe he’s an army deserter and had the stash.” Untaxed alcohol is a very serious crime as are all crimes where a Party stamp is required on goods. 

“Someone is coming to collect the guy, but there is no need to indict a young soldier for that sort of indiscretion, is there?” 

“For wanting a drink? Certainly not, Lieutenant Chang. Perhaps you could book the evidence, or destroy it. It’s not a task I want to delegate to Corporal Mooney because he’s a man given over to drink and might consume some of the contraband in the process of its destruction.”

“I agree to take charge of it. Where might it be?” Lieutenant Chang licked his lips involuntarily.

I handed the lieutenant the keys to my black mariah, the armored cruiser that I drove – perquisite of a sergeant because of Party membership. “It’s in the back.”

Lieutenant Chang took the keys and that’s the last I saw of him on that shift. I found the keys to my car on his desk later that day.

“Drop the coffin, Mooney. Let’s see what we have inside.”

Mooney had the coffin half-way down when Captain Wilbur Drake walked up into the enclosed bay, called a sally port, that held the Short Bus. Two civilians in natty business suits followed him.  One short, the other taller than I am.

“I think you pissed off Captain Drake.” Mooney said to me.

“You’ve got a remarkable grasp of the fucking obvious, Blue Moon,” Captain Drake told Corporal Mooney. Drake is known for his remarkably acute hearing. Some credit that and that alone to his rise in the ranks to Captain. Others attribute his rapid promotion to a wife that didn’t hesitate to pleasure superior officers who had the power to recommend for promotion. 

Drake talked a good game when he chewed me out, but he used to work for Dewey when he'd started on the department and as a result, I know where the skeletons are buried. I always took the reprimands with due humility, but knew that he knew that there were limits. For the most part, he’d yell at me in public to let everyone know I didn’t enjoy any special privileges.

“One of these days, I’m going to grab you by the stacking swivel and shake the stupid out of you, Muldoon.”

“I’m a poor excuse for a sergeant, Captain Drake.”

Drake ordered, “Drop the goddamned coffin and let’s have a look at this—pride of the Federal Government.

Mooney lowered the coffin to the concrete deck and toggled the release button. Air hissed and the retaining latches snapped open. 

Agent Fuller sat up, forming a ninety-degree angle with his waist as the pivot point.  He sucked in a deep breath. My eyes began to water from the corrupt smell erupting from the coffin. Vomit, shit, piss and every other possible leakage from a human orifice each had their own peculiar offensive smell. When combined, the synergistic effect made me want to puke, but I didn’t.

“I’m gonna kill you cop!” Fuller croaked, looking up at me through puffy, red eyes.

The shorter of the two feds spoke up.

“Shut your cock holster, Fuller.”

Fuller closed his mouth as ordered.

I went away with the feds and Captain Drake while Mooney took a fire hose to Soldier Fuller, or whoever he was, and the inside of the coffin. Thankfully, the interior of those coffins are designed to be washed and reused without much more than a fire hose blast.

The shorter Fed identified himself to me Erasimo Tambunga. Many of them take African-style names because it is the fashion and demonstrates their commitment to their heritage. All Federal Protective Police members are negroes. Soldier Fuller’s skin had a milk chocolate luster. Tambunga had skin black as anthracite.

"Fuller is a trench monkey, Sergeant Muldoon. I'm sorry if he caused you any trouble." That sort of language coming from a fed constituted an ominous change in behavior. My guard snapped up though my face remained a mask of appreciation. "But he's out there on the street on a special mission. Alderman Wlibur Quail is missing and we suspect foul play."

"This is the first I've heard of that."

Tambunga said, "I argued for letting the locals know but it's a Party matter first when one of our leaders is unaccounted for."

"Can I tell my men to be on the look-out, Mr. Tambunga?"

"You can call me Erasimo, and yes I think that it's time we put the word out that Alderman Quail may be the victim of foul play. As a police sergeant, you know that subversive elements remain in our model society no matter how well off the citizens are. There was even a serpent in Eden, Sergeant Muldoon."




Ring-Around-the-World

Since the US media doesn't do much these days but report on the political clown parade that is leading up to the general election in November, I thought I'd share a few thoughts of what is going on outside of that.

NORTH KOREA - STARVING AGAIN

Kim Jong Un
On March 28, the North Korean party daily, Rodong Sinmun, published an article that warned the people that North Korea is facing tough times and that the country may have to endure another "Arduous March" of economic hardship.

The article counseled that while the country may experience hardship, its people must not waver in their allegiance to leader Kim Jong Un. It also said that the road to revolution is long and difficult. "Even if we give up our lives, we should continue to show our loyalty to our leader Kim Jong Un until the end of our lives," it said, stressing the need for North Koreans to work hard in the "70-day campaign of loyalty."
The "Arduous March", also called the March with Hardship, refers to 1994 and subsequent years, after Kim Il-sung died, when North Korea suffered from severe famine, historic floods and deadly economic hardship. Food shortages were so severe that an estimated 3 million North Koreans died of starvation and nutrition-related diseases in four years.  
The government published recipes for preparing dishes using edible tree bark. The old and infirm would leave the family home to die, so that the children could eat. This period was the first time North Korea appealed to the World Food Program for food aid. North Korea experienced no population growth for almost ten years. It was the only time since the end of the Korean war that North Korea experienced food riots in major cities that required regular army units to suppress.
 The Rodong Sinmun warning indicates that the new March could last three years.

Kim Jong Un has added 70 pounds in the last year, according to South Korean reports, and now weighs 300 pounds. I don't think that the "March with Hardship" means that Dear Leader will miss a meal.

CHINA ENTERS SYRIAN SITUATION

The Chinese government recently appointed Xie Xiaoyan as the Chinese government's special envoy for the Syrian issue. China rarely has appointed special envoys for past crises. The way ahead in Syria is now important to China, which is trying to step into the political void created by anemic dithering by the United States. Isn't that just special?
“The purpose of the Chinese side's appointing the special envoy for the Syrian issue is to give play to the role of peace talks in an even better way; contribute China's wisdom and plans in an even more positive way; enhance communication and coordination between relevant parties in an even more effective manner; and play a constructive role in promoting the final and proper resolution of the Syrian issue.   
In his new year’s day speech, President Xi Jinping was explicit that China intended to play a larger role in the settlement of international crises in 2016. This appointment carries that intention into action for the first time in Syria. 

SOUTH CHINA SEA

On March 30, the US announced that it would not recognize any Chinese claim to any kind of air or sea exclusionary zone for the South China Sea. The context to the US announcement has two elements. First is China’s declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea and hints that it would do the same over the South China Sea. 

China’s rapid construction of air defense detection and attack capabilities in the Paracel and the Spratly Islands leaves little doubt that China intends eventually to declare an exclusive air defense zone over most of the South China Sea. The activities of the Chinese coast guard demonstrate that China intends to declare the South China Sea as territorial waters, which is much more restrictive than an exclusive economic zone.

The second element in the context is the Philippine court action before the international tribunal under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea at The Hague. The Philippines challenged China’s claims before the tribunal. China refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the tribunal. A decision is expected soon, but China might pre-empt with its own declaration of an exclusive zone.

Eventually somebody will need to blink. China assesses the US as weak, indecisive and unwilling to confront their expansionism. I leave it to you, the reader to assess the situation further.

RUSSIA vs NATO

The confrontation with NATO and the US is gradually escalating. Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Alexander Grushko, said, “Russia is preparing an asymmetric response to the increase in NATO's, and in particular the United States', military presence near Russian borders.
"Of course, our response will be completely asymmetrical, it will be calibrated to match our ideas about the degree of military threat, to be most efficient and not overly expensive," he told a Russian TV station. 
"We can see that the US continues to increase its military presence in Europe with an emphasis on ‘the Eastern front.’ We are not passive observers, and consistently implement all those military measures that are necessary in order to offset this totally unjustified increased military presence," Grushko said.
On Wednesday, various news services reported that the US is planning to increase its military presence in Eastern Europe and start rotating armored brigades in 2017. Thus, the U.S. will increase its military presence in Europe to three, fully equipped combat brigades, according to the US Forces command in Europe.

To the Russian leadership, US and NATO force adjustments must look like a reinforced battle line to try to defend territories that once begged for Russian help to protect them from the Germans. It must seem surreal that modern Russia could again face a new cold war with NATO. That perspective is worth more study before great powers make more force commitments and military adjustments that harden hostility in national viewpoints. 

RUSSIA vs ISLAM

Russian authorities announced that they arrested 20 or so Islamic state recruiters in Moscow. Among all the news reports on counter-terror operations since January first, this is the only report to demonstrate that a state’s security leadership understands the significance of the “recruiters.” The Russians have their own style, but that style includes “neutering” the Islamist infestation. 

Recruiters are the agents of reproduction in the Islamic State’s living system. No country but Russia that has forces fighting the Islamic State has announced a crackdown on Islamist recruiting. US constitutional protection of free speech inhibits making disloyal proselytization a crime, but it is the mechanism by which the Islamic State replaces its losses. Imams in Belgium preached the overthrow of the Belgian system of government.

The Russians are the only non-Islamic state that understands the threat that subversive preachers pose to a secular state. The Russians understand subversion. The Belgians and French do not. The Germans, Swedes, and Danes are about to get a lesson and the Brits are not far behind.

BREXIT

A June 23 referendum will decide whether the UK remains inside the European Union or whether they leave. At the moment, England favors leaving the EU, while Scotland, Wales and Ulster (N. Ireland) favor remaining in the EU. 

Whatever the feelings of English voters on the emotive issue of Europe, there is no escaping the fact that the outcome of the forthcoming EU referendum will be decided by the total vote of the United Kingdom. That is the price England pays for being British.

The stakes are very high for the EU. If the British leave, the French are likely next, and then the Germans, because they are the 'donor states'. The Islamic issue is also going to play a key role in whether individual nations in Europe continue their policy of open borders or whether they will become more restrictive to stop the flow of Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East who bring their violent conduct along with them.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Vigilante Moon (part two)

Vigilante Moon (continued)

a fictional short

The Party had rules about naming businesses. If you were a Party member, you could give your business a fancy name. If not, you could only identify the service offered. All it said on the outside of Dewey’s pawn and loan was ‘Pawn & Loan”, written on the glass window. Likewise, the restaurant next door had ‘Indian Food’ written on the glass. It misled many people because they went in expecting curry or saffron rice. Nelson Begay didn’t serve that kind of food because Nelson and his wife are feather Indians, not red-dot Indians. Speaking of which,  I told John, "I’m hungry for some of Nelson’s green chili stew and fry bread.”

I polished off the coffee, wiped out the cup and replaced it in is perch of honor, as Dewey grabbed a key to lock up the business.

Dewey and I have been eating Nelson and Mitzie Begay’s cooking for at least a decade and never tire of it. They hired a union cook years before. He never shows up for work. They pay him for not showing so the ISEU guys don’t bust up his place. It doesn’t keep them from trying to get him to hire another union worker who does a no-show. Nelson goes along to get along but he’s a solid guy. He has a small, private, pistol range in the basement of the store and only shoots when there is roadwork or a thunderstorm since firearms ownership is strictly forbidden for non-Party or non-union members. Dewey and I have a longstanding deal with Nelson and Mitzie. We don’t pay cash for food, but I bring ammunition. Nelson comes out way ahead because he trains the common people who can’t afford to buy themselves into the Party or the union, to shoot. Dewey sells pistols and I hand over the ammo that I take for free from the police department. This time I brought two boxes, twenty rounds each, of .357 Magnum riot control rounds.


When I handed Nelson the two boxes of pistol cartridges, back in the kitchen, he whistled low. “The Party authorized us to use magnum rounds with Teflon coating over a steel core for riot control because one bullet will go through two or three people, thus ultimately saving on the number of rounds we need to fire. Hollow points just take out one rioter and they feel it’s a waste.”

“Are you expecting a riot, Sergeant Mike?” 

“I’m not, Nelson, but the Party lives in fear so they’ve been stocking up with these new revolver rounds in addition to all the other equipment we have.”

While we were talking in the kitchen, Dewey started eating a burrito in the front of the house. When I walked through the door to the front of the restaurant that I saw a person who did not ‘belong’ in the neighborhood through the glass.  He gave off a vibe that was not in keeping with people who lived and worked around there. The guy was vaguely familiar and I racked my brain to figure out where I’d seen that guy before.

Before I could investigate further, two guys from the Brotherhood of International Workers walked through the door of Nelson’s Indian Restaurant. I knew both of them. Ivan Brock, a red haired man with fetal alcohol syndrome features who worked the docks as a stevedore until he moved up in the union and Greaser Morris, also a former longshoreman and even more of a thug than Ivan. 

“Ivan, Greaser.” I said in a barely civil tone.

Ivan took in my police badge with its prominent emblem of the Progressive Party and then looked at the array of weapons I carried.

Greaser just said, “They call me Todd now, not Greaser. I don’t lube pump jacks anymore.”

I ignored them. “Freddie Dill and a new guy were by here not two hours ago. The ISEU beat the BIW yet again. You union guys need to get together on who you’re leaning on and when because you’re interfering with the lawful business of the Police Department.”

Ivan and Greaser were stupid, but they did understand the system. Sergeants and above belonged to the Party, which means the money they beat out of businesses was kicked up through the department with everyone taking a taste. From there the squeeze went to the Party Leadership. Union members who interfered with the police, found themselves dropped from union rolls, forced to compete with the citizens, usually landing in jobs where labor was arduous and the compensation small. There were also recently enacted laws authorizing the police to shoot non-Party members who were interfering with “lawful business”, which meant squeeze. Both Greaser and Ivan knew that too. As union underlings, they did not belong to the party and were fair game.

Back in the days of credit cards, people came to rely on plastic over cash. Those days vanished with the political majority of the Progressive Party in Congress. Credit cards allowed one’s political rivals to count how much money went where.  They enacted a ‘fair tax’ in response to political pressure to do so, but quietly instituted the squeeze system because it netted them more profit without bothersome accountability to other politicians. I haven’t even seen a credit card in ten years, and there is scant need of them since all serious business entertains some form of barter and black market dealing. We live with it whether we like it or not. I’ve been told the Europeans still use credit cards but who knows if the reports are reliable? I haven't seen a European in a decade either.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. I’m as bad as the other Party guys because I didn’t have the guts that Dewey had to tell them to shove it. As much as I might beg to differ, you’re right. 

I supervise a foot beat because I’m inept at collecting. I’m simply not a very good earner, and neither are the guys and gals who work for me. The good earners gravitate to vice, narcotics, intelligence and traffic enforcement where the big money is raked in. The elite executive protection and Party Liaison squads who protect police commanders and Party officials and provide drivers and bodyguards to the great and near great don’t have to be good earners. They simply need to be brutal. In the past year we’ve seen slots in Party Liaison go to members of the Brotherhood of International Workers and the International Service Employees Union rather than to trained and vetted police officers. One sergeant’s billet in the Public Control Bureau went to a member of the National Transportation Worker’s Local 919 last month.  

I knew Halvard Drummond from when he worked as a shop steward at Reliable Trucking. He moved directly from an army officer’s slot to the shop steward job and now he continued his career path with the police department's Civil Unrest Division. Such were the sacrifices required by the party. 

I mentioned Drummond, because it finally clicked that he, Drummond, was the person who didn’t fit in, outside the window at the Indian Restaurant. He’d been dressed up to pass for a street vagrant, but it was Drummond. The only remaining question was why he was there.

“Dewey, I saw Howard Drummond outside just a minute ago.”

“Was he wearing his army captain’s uniform, his shop steward shirt or his police Gestapo outfit?”

“Neither. He was dressed up like a bum.”

Dewey said, “That’s odd, he’s the sort of guy who likes to let you know he’s there.

I stepped out into the sunshine and looked around but I didn’t see Drummond. So, I walked out onto the street with my lunch wrapped in a tortilla forming a burrito and ate as I watched. If you never wore a badge, you won’t know what I’m talking about. Civilians walk the streets or ride on trams and don’t pay attention to the people around them. All I’ve done is watch people and where a civilian wouldn’t see anything amiss, it stands out to a cop, particularly one who walks a beat. Drummond stood out as if he wore a neon sign.

Dewey followed me a moment later. “Do you think it was Drummond, or maybe a bum that looked like Drummond?”

I stared at Dewey.

“Okay, Michael Francis Xavier Muldoon, you’re never wrong about a thing like that.”

“That’s right, I’m not.”

A bum who looked out of place stood down the street, but it wasn’t Drummond. His eyes were fixed on the Third Interstate Bank building. I crossed the street and walked over to him.

“Step into my office.”

He looked up at me. Face well shaved, plump bordering on over-fed, dark eyes in a skull framed by a raggedy, hooded parka, gerry curls drifted out next to his face.  

“Pull back the parka.” Hair styled with long, greasy ringlets.

Dewey followed me when I walked over. “What do you make of that?” He saw the same thing I did.

I pulled my electroshock blaster /stunner from its holder and twisted the charging handle. It gave off a low hum and vibrated as it powered up. You can say one thing for the Party. They like their troops to be well armed.  In addition to a conventional pistol, I carried the blaster, two conventional hand grenades, two stingball grenades, and a short sword with a sharp blade on one side and an entry blade for chopping doors down on the other.

“Break out identification,” I ordered.

“Don’t have any,” the man said. 

I put his age at somewhere between thirty and thirty-five. His  eyes darted to me, then to Dewey, then back to mine. “If he wasn’t there, I’d take you, flatfoot.”

Dewey still walked like a police sergeant, talked and behaved like a police sergeant and kept his hair spiked short in the police fashion. For all this guy knew, he was still a cop. I didn’t know it at the time, but Dewey sensed the same thing I did.

What to do? I did what anybody on the beat should do.  I fired a blaster round at him. Each blaster fired up to forty rounds called ‘bees’ that were about the size and shape of a large bumblebee. Each bee had a potent enough charge to put a horse or cow on the ground and into convulsions. They completely incapacitated a healthy human being. If the human being in question had health issues, it could be fatal.

It wasn’t fatal to the fake bum, because I only fired two bees, but it did put him into convulsions.  I hadn’t deactivated the bees and they continued to send a gazillion volts through him.  So he bucked and twitched, foamed at the mouth like a rabid dog and his bladder and intestines voided. Only then did I deactivate the bees. 



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Vigilante Moon (part one)

Vigilante Moon

a fictional short


Just because the curtain is drawn inside the bordello’s 
window doesn’t mean that you don’t know what’s going on inside.


The gas lamp sizzled to life in the corner of the damp basement. Black water condensed and dripped from a corner, pooled and then migrated to drain through a rusted grate in the floor. From there it slurped slowly into the sewer. John Dewey didn’t care because the basement offered him one thing he could get nowhere else. Genuine privacy.

Nobody else knew that the room existed beneath the vault of the aging First Interstate Bank. Well, not until he told me about it and I didn’t say a word to anyone else.

He surmised that it had been constructed as a furnace room for the dry goods store that Tavagleone & Sons ran back before Third Interstate Bank showed up and built a bank and then an office building on top of that at the conclusion of the Second World War. When they installed the depository, the contractor walled up the entrance and  the presence of the hidden room passed from memory.

Dewey found it by accident seven decades later when the building superintendant hired him on to swamp the floor and maintain the hallways of the executive condos stacked twenty stories over the top of the bank. The stairway down had been turned into a broom closet and the air gently blowing through the wood slat wall at the back alerted him to something that wasn’t quite what it seemed. He pushed one plank out. The nails in damp wood resisted with an audible groan but they gave way with very little effort.  The space beyond, black as a crypt, had been left unseen by human eyes for nearly a century, but sets of tiny red rodent eyes reflected back when he shined his flashlight down the rotting stairway. It was damp, the result of a pipe in the process of falling apart, spraying a fine mist into the void.

For the next seven weeks, he improved the stairs leading down, replacing rotten steps with new planks. He cleaned out the room itself to the extent he was able, and he plumbed in a natural gas line from the main that led to the bank’s heating unit. The energy heated the dank room and provided weak light to a room that would otherwise have existed in eternal inky darkness. Dewey thought about stubbing in an electric line, but the place was wet enough and his skill at dealing with electricity inexpert enough that he knew would just as likely electrocute himself.

The stairway led straight down, however, in his exploration, Dewey found a vent that led to the outside. He enlarged it, camouflaged the entrance, and then sealed off the top of the stairway thoroughly so that nobody else was likely to discover or duplicate his path.

After he completed the project he quit his night janitorial job and opened a small storefront pawnshop down the street between Girls-Girls-Girls, and Indian Food. Before it was a pawnshop, the place had been a dry cleaner owned by a succession of Korean proprietors. Inside it smelled strongly of perchloroethylene and the smell drifted into both Girls-Girls-Girls and the Indian food restaurant, though nothing could be done about it. John Dewey never seemed to care one way or the other about the smell. If he did, I never heard him comment and I never asked him.

On the day that seemed to start it all, I walked into Dewey’s Pawn and Loan wearing my uniform  with my badge shined to a high luster, since I was on duty.

“Michael Francis Xavier Muldoon!” Dewey shouted from the back office, using my full name.

“Sergeant Muldoon to you, John Howard Dewey. How’s my favorite shylock?”

He came out of his den like a lion strutting on the veld with a slightly shaggy mop of lion colored hair and a very closely trimmed beard. Dewey stood three or four inches shorter than me, which put him at about six feet. His face had an unremarkable cast. His nose might be a bit too long and his ears might have stood out slightly more than what one would consider perfect, but his eyes were bright blue with mirth and there were wrinkles that radiated out from the corners.

A large puddle of water filled the floor of the pawnshop.

I looked around the office. Everything he had taken in could be summed up in a single word. Junk. He took in junk and handed out money. Dewey didn’t have any money of his own. He worked with me on the Police Department until the day came when they told him that he either joined the Party, or he’d be discharged with prejudice. Dewey lost his pension, his benefits, his career and his income that day because he didn’t join. I wasn’t as strong as Dewey. I had a wife and three children to support whereas he had three ex-wives who hated him and no ex-kids. I’m not offering it as an excuse. Dewey was the better man that day, as with most days.

With no income from the State, he took odd jobs and one day to the month after the big 7th Avenue armored car robbery, he opened his pawn and loan store. From that point on, he took in goods and handed out money to those in need. I made the connection but I don’t know that anyone else did. The detectives looked for members of a local mixed gang consisting of black males and Cambodian females, as the culprits because the only lead they had came from me. They weren’t ever able to positively connect the Thirtieth Street Mafistos with the robbery. What do I know? I’m the downtown walking beat supervisor on swing shift. I’m definitely not a trained investigator.

As usual, Dewey gave me an appraising glance and a wink, glancing toward the coffee pot. I nodded casually and he said, “I hope you don’t expect me to buy you a cup and pour it for you.”             

My china mug with the Department’s logo on it sat next to the Silex where it always did. I toggled the handle and filled it to the brim. Even though sugar shortages meant that nobody had sugar, Dewey had not only sugar, but cubed sugar. I dropped a lump in the coffee and then, on second thought, added a second. Why not? Live large! The armored car had been carrying the Party’s squeeze.  Dewey hit the armored car belonging to the Party and showed the goons who guarded it how things were done downtown.

John Dewey picked up a push broom and started moving the water puddle toward a drain.

“Did you have trouble today, John?”

“Weren’t much trouble, Mike.”

I knew Dewey from the old days. He was a black-glove cop and he didn’t tolerate much misconduct on the part of people before they found out that though he was a man of generally pleasant disposition, he could be mean as a cobra when crossed.

“Something I should know about?” I pulled out my 245 Gonzales Sap from the sap pocket of my trousers. Dewey and I were about the only officers who carried saps, and now he left the department it was only me. The younger officers favored electronic disablers, which I liked as well. A stun gun is effective, I guess, but I have always favored the sap. There is something about eight ounces of led spring weighted inside a leather sheath.

“Just the usual thugs from the ISEU coming by to coerce me to become a union store." John lifted his hands in supplication. "I told them I’m a one-man show and don’t need to join the union.”

The International Service Employees Union operated as the enforcement arm of the Party. When somebody got out of line, they usually ended up on the wrong side of bare-knuckle fighters from the ISEU.  I worried about Dewey when it came to the ISEU. “The Party is polite, the ISEU isn’t. The Party screws you with paperwork and the ISEU busts in your head with a truncheon.” I said that but I took note of the water on the floor and the heavy rubber boots that Dewey wore.

“Two guys come in here into my house and say that a one-man show like mine needs to hire some people from Local 5424 in order to make sure that all this inventory doesn’t walk away. They said a man like me needs protection.”

“You’ve been able to keep an eye on things so far.” I said.

“That’s what I told those fellas.  And the big guy, a high yellow nigger who bounces for Willy’s Tavern part time--."

“Freddy Dill,” I added, correctly identifying the guy.

“Yeah, that’s his name. Freddy. Anyway, Freddy tells me that I can’t live on past glory, and says that he and his buddy, who I’ve never seen before, are going to show me by example how easy it is to steal from me. The other guy has a handgun and he pulls up his shirt to show it to me.”

I slapped the sap I held in one hand into the palm of the other. There were some ISEU guys who were going to need some educating.

“Freddy comes around and grabs the register to punch the cash drawer open.”

I interrupted. “But none of them noticed the water on the floor?”

“They asked about that. I told them that I couldn’t afford a union plumber. But I didn’t say anything about a union electrician because who can afford one of them?”

“So Big Freddy Dill grabbed the register?”

“Yeah,” Dewey smiled. “He completed the circuit. 220 volts. And he couldn’t let go, so this other guy tries to rescue him and he completes the circuit too. It will teach them to wear wingtips into my store when they should be wearing rubber boots.” Dewey laughed a wicked laugh. "I thought it would turn out to be an accidental death situation but both of them survived."

“How long did they sizzle?”

“Big Freddy bit his tongue something horrible and I let him keep biting until the tip fell off. Then I thought it was time to rescue them but as you know, there is no way to do that unless you hit them with something non-conductive like a baseball bat and break the circuit.”

“You could have turned off the power.” I added dryly.

“Rules require a union member to do that. It’s organized labor's prerogative.” Dewey said, quoting the spirit of the regulation.

“Of course.”

“So I saved them.”

“How long did it take?”

“I went for the bat, taking care not to injure myself, and only found an old axe handle so I used that. One solid hit on Big Freddy broke him loose from the register." Dewey smiled like a shark. "They always come in fours. There were two more guys next door in Girls-Girls-Girls shaking down Silky Jackson. They came over and asked what happened. I said that Freddy, he who now missed an inch-and-a-half of tongue, was kind enough to look into my electrical problem for me since he was a union member and ended up hurting himself and his friend.”

“They bought it?”

“Sure, I gave them the hundred that I  told them I had promised Freddy if he’d fix my electrical. They palmed it and hauled away Freddy and his friend. They said they’d make sure Freddy got the cash. I believed them. I don't know about you.”

I summarized, “Sounds like you were lucky to have union guys here to work on your electrical. I presume it’s fixed?”

Dewey affirmed, “Whatever they did must have fixed the problem—for now.”

“When did the water leak start?”

“When I saw the thugs go into the Indian restaurant next door.”


Index





Thoughts on Dealing with ISIS

I don't know that America is capable of waging war against ISIS. These days there is much more talk about homosexual and transexual outreach and concern for the war against the weather than there is in making America hard enough to fight. We were that way before Pearl Harbor, it's not a new thing in the US.  The problem with war in this century is that the asymmetrical nature of "war" and the concept of fighting a war has changed radically.

The wrong approach

The war we wage has been waged before (See Battle of Tours, 732 AD), but Europe neither has nor desires another Charles Martel to save them from the savages, so I'm not confident that we have firm allies even if we are able to generate the spine to push back against Political Islam in all of its manifestations. 
I do not suggest that we repeal the First Amendment and deny freedom of religion, but Political Islam is our enemy. Terrorists serve political Islam. It's difficult to separate the two. I grant you that.
Once America has defined its enemy, we need to determine whether Europe is willing to raise an army and pay for its maintenance in the field. Since it is Europe which has embraced the savages and released them onto its streets, they need to decide what they want to do. They're in or they're out. What we do in response to Political Islam depends in part what Europe wants to do and pay for.

The goal of any war against ISIS/the caliphate, is to deny them safe havens anywhere on the planet. If they go there, we sterilize the place. I'm not calling for nuclear weapons but I'm calling for everything short of nuclear/biological/chemical. Putting ordnance on target does end wars. If people offer sanctuary or shelter to savages, they are treated like the savages themselves. Sorry. War means fighting and fighting means killing (W. T. Sherman).

Fire the dead wood at CIA and DIA (yes, there will be a lot of bureaucratic drones in the bread line), and get the cream of the crop on the hump to collect intelligence. All of the PR Crap that exists within the CIA and trust me, it is vast, needs to be scrapped. It's a non-uniformed military service and always has been. It's time go fix the rot. 

Step up efforts at home to identify and track jihadists and deny them safe harbor in the US. It's not as difficult as people think it is. Take the shackles off the police and FBI, which need to operate within the law. Some of those rules forbidding surveillance of mosques have to be scrapped.

Deny access to the US to all but fully vetted Middle Eastern refugees. Scrutinize all visa requests from Muslims carefully.

Expand the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba because it will be filling. Treat prisoners humanely but there is no need to coddle prisoners of war. They are not signatories of the Geneva Conventions and need not be accorded those privileges. Feed them, warehouse them, and one day if the war ever ends and the savages turn their swords into plows, they can go home. If not, they can die in custody when their time comes. The money we spend per prisoner at Gitmo is obscene.

Is America to take those steps? I don't think so. Accept who you elected to be commander-in-chief, cheer him on as he does the wave in Cuba at a baseball game and tangos in Argentina. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Chinese Gunboat Diplomacy

China keeps expanding its territorial claims in the Pacific. They stretch all the way to Malaysia now. On March 25, Malaysian authorities detected about 100 Chinese fishing boats, encroaching on waters near the Luconia Reefs or Shoals, which Malaysia administers. The flotilla of boats, cleaning out all of the game fish on the reefs, were protected by two Chinese Coast Guard vessels. Malaysia's navy monitored the situation, threatening legal action if the boats trespassed into its exclusive economic zone. China's Foreign Ministry again reiterated Chinese fishing boats' rights to operate in the area.
In times of war or crisis or as directed, Chinese fishing boats come under the control of the navy. They have mounts for machineguns and places for depth charge racks. They receive orders, weapons and ammunition from the Chinese navy. 
The Luconia Reefs are more than 1,200 miles from mainland China and 60 miles from the Malaysian state of Sarawak. This incident reinforces our judgment that China can be expected to challenge every disputed claim in the South China Sea with a show of force. The Luconia Reefs are rich fishing grounds. Extensive fossil fuel deposits reportedly lie under the seabed. I expect that the Chinese will soon be building an "artificial island - then an airbase" on the reef. That's their pattern. 

This is the second confirmed instance that a Chinese Coast Guard ship that was guarding fishing boats entered Malaysian claimed waters around the Luconia Reefs. The prior incident occurred in June 2015. There have been some rough exchanges between Malaysians and Chinese fishing boats, but no actual violence.

While I don't think that America has an interest in being the "world's policeman" and if Malaysia wants to allow China to walk all over them (as the Chinese are want to do), it's up to them. However it's good to keep in mind that China's territorial interests keep expanding and they back up every move with military force. The time will come when Malaysia or Japan will decide that enough is enough and will sink a few of the offending Chinese fishing boats or coast guard warships.  US is still a member of SEATO (Southeast Asian Treaty Organization), and that will draw us in -- unless it's during the Obama presidency... He'll fly to a communist country and party.


A Few Notes


Exiles from Eden 

The novel (note the bar to the left) is through edit and publication is pending.  I am flattered that some of the people who read this blog have e-mailed me and asked how to get a copy. I will advise when the work is available in book stores and on-line. 

It's a different sort of novel for me, designed to appeal to a broader readership than the work I've done before. 


Tag Line: Sparks fly as two star-crossed lovers meet. He runs toward trouble as she yearns for something missing, and it ends in a flight from and toward justice. 
The 93,500 word novel, set in the early 1990’s, is told from different first person perspectives. In a sense, it is a coming of age story wherein the principal characters, Sean O’Bryan and Jessica Baker are joined in a backdrop of intrigue as they simply attempt to live life. 
Sean, on a journey to be his own man, joins Satan’s Legion, a motorcycle gang in Southern California. Jessica, adrift as a stranger in a strange land, joins him in the gang as they try to work out who they are as individuals and as a couple. 
As their need to join the criminal world completely becomes more pressing, Sean and Jess don’t realize that what they say is being recorded and what they plan to do is part of a larger net that is dropping over them. While justice is about to be served, compassion by the undercover police officer in their midst sets the wheels in motion for their escape. 
Jessica, wanted in England for a crime that she did not fully commit and their involvement with Satan’s Legion culminates in a flight to the Boneyard, in the most unlikely place.



Life Along the Brazos

Fellow blogger, Lone Star Parson, will be making suggestions to me as to where to find the perfect spread in Texas (which must include a rifle range, access to the Brazos or in the alternative, a bass pond -- or both) as I take the Ford Raptor to Texas for the first time. Plans include fishing and a possible razorback hunt as I visit the compound, LSP and his faithful dog, Blue Avenger, etc. Sadly, it's a busman's holiday and I need to do a little bit of work as well as hanging out and shooting. 

Taxes are lower in Texas than they are in the People's Republik of Kalifornia. That and a rifle range on the property (and private bass pond) combined are a powerful inducement. Maybe a second home is called for? At the moment, I'm thinking of vacant land that I can build on. A friend suggested that I invest in a trailer home while the main hacienda is under construction. I said, "ARE YOU NUTS?" A trailer in Texas draws tornadoes like a pecan tree draws cicadas, or a swamp draws mosquitoes.

Or maybe I need to re-think Durango, CO?  Maybe I need to make yet another pilgrimage up HWY 550 through the San Juan range?



Soylent Green

Yes, there is a company https://www.soylent.com that appears to be making various types of beverages and powders for human consumption. I read over their website and did not read that they are relying on human parts. There is no indicated collusion with Planned Parenthood, though I did not read a denial that they are collaborating. However, how could you possibly come out with a product called SOYLENT without evoking the popular film from 1973?





Parting Shot

When you are dead, you don't know that you are dead. It is only difficult for those who were in your life.

It is the same when you are stupid.