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.