Tuesday, November 16, 2010

American Apocalypse IV - Chapter 1c - by nova

The problem was I hadn't expected this question. I doubted if the truth would be a good idea. I was drawing a blank for something that sounded reasonable when Thursday once again answered for me. He told him "We are on a quest for a lost child. Son of a maiden fair."

I saw the officers eyes widen. I thought "Okay. Take the .50 gunner first. Then this guy and hope the dogs wake up." Instead the officer said "Oh yeah. The kids camp. You will have to check in at the station in town if you plan staying more than twenty four hours. That will be two silver dollars for the toll."

I didn't see Thursday reaching for his wallet. In fact he was looking away and pretending that he didn't understand the request. Well, he had driven me this far so I paid for us both.

Now it was time to sit and wait until they opened the border crossing. I told Thursday "You want to take the dogs and settle them down under a tree away from everyone." He didn't look to pleased about me asking him to do it but that was tough shit as far as I was concerned. He shouldn't have demonstrated his command presence with them. It was petty but I walked away smiling.

I walked over to were the melon people were unloading and stood and watched. The officer who was inspecting looked up and said "Hey" and then told the White Guy standing next to him "Okay. You're good. Just leave our pile here for now" and walked away. White Guy One watched him go, waited until he was almost out of earshot and muttered "Asshole." The officer, with out turning around , raised his right arm, flipped him the bird, and kept walking. White Guy Two chuckled and said "Your going to get our asses shot one of these days bro."

White Guy One replied "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke. I'm going to take a leak."

White Guy Two watched him go, then looked at me and said "How can I help you."

"How much for the melons?" I asked him.

"How are you paying?" was his reply.

"How about one .357 round for four melons?"

"Make it three and you got a deal."

"Okay." I pulled a round out its loop on my belt and handed it to him. He checked the primer, said "Done" and headed for the cab of the truck. My guess was to load it into a weapon or hide it. Hell, maybe he wanted to stare at it in private. I started thumping melons, found three ripe ones, and headed over to where Thursday was stretched out under the tree with the dogs laid out around him. I tossed him one of the melons and said "Here. I'm going to go talk to the Texans" and walked away. I got about halfway to them when I looked over to see Woof had joined me. That was good. Woof was the only one of the dogs I liked anyway. The rest were dumbasses. I said "Hey Woof." He wagged his tail twice. I asked him "You like melon as a chaser for body parts?" He didn't say anything. He never did.

I walked over to where the Latino couple were sitting, occasionally talking, and keeping an eye on the kids. They both looked up when they saw me coming and I saw the male ease back and his hand drop to his side. The woman casually rested her hand inside the tote bag she had at her side. The male, I watched his eyes go from open to guarded, looked up at me. I stopped about three feet further away then I would normally and said "Hey. How y'all doing?"

The male replied "Okay." He paused, then added "Yourself?'

"I'm good" I told him. "I thought I would ask you if it was alright to let the kids have one of these melons."

The woman replied "To have?"

"Sure. To have." I told her.

She smiled. She had a nice smile. "Why yes. Thank you."

I told Woof "Stay" and to my private amazement he actually listened. I set the melon down and then I backed up until I was back at Woof where I took a knee. I didn't want to tower over them. She stared at the melon in her hands, rotating is slowly like a small green globe, I said "I'm hoping we can talk about what you have seen. I saw the Texas tags...while we split the other melon."

They looked over at each. I saw minimal change in their expressions, but he said "Sure. Have a seat." I knew then they had been on the road together for awhile.

I reached back for the K-98 bayonet I carried and pulled it from its metal sheath. It made that sound, sort of a metallic whisper, that I loved as it pulled free. I smiled hearing the sound. I thought to myself. When I looked up at the couple they didn't seem so friendly. Actually they looked nervous.

"You want me to cut them?" I asked.

"Sure." The woman answered.

"You want to call the kids over?" I asked her.

Again the look between them. She yelled "Kids! Come here."

They came running and Woof watched them come. His tail gave a tentative couple of wags, really twitches, which didn't past unnoticed by the couple. I sliced the melon into pieces and handed them to the Mom who handed them to the kids. They were well behaved. No pushing or elbows were thrown.

You want me to cut yours?”

The women had one of the kids bring it back to me. I cut it for us. The woman took the heart, the best slice, and pulled it apart and gave that to the kids too. She and the man split the heel and I had a heel for myself.

The kids liked it. They liked the melon a lot. So did I. If Thursday wasn't going to eat his I planned on it. I did offer a small piece to Woof who sniffed it and decided to pass. Instead of racing off the kids stood there next to their parents and stared at me. I knew they were dying to ask me questions. I mentally bet on the oldest girl to go first. I was right.

"Is that a wolf?" She asked.

"No. It's a Woof." He looked over at me when he heard me say his name.

"Does he eat people?"

I thought to myself "Hmmm...how to answer?" So I told her "Yep. He doesn't eat kids though but stay away from those other dogs...okay."

She said "Okay." She didn't have a problem with his eating people. I wasn't surprised by that. "Can he play with us?" Her Mom sat up and her Dad opened his mouth. I cut them off. "Ask him. Not me."

Her Mom said "Maria..." She ignored her Mom. Instead she asked Woof "You wanna play?" Maria didn't wait for an answer. She took off running and the other two kids followed her. So did Woof. The man was getting to his feet. I told both of them "He's fine. They're safe with him." They both looked at me. I added "Really." We watched the kids charge him and watched as he danced away. I looked away. I had seen this movie before.

The couple settled down. Well, as much as you can while scanning your perimeter and watching the kids simultaneously.

Their story wasn't all that interesting. They were vague about how they survived. Just like nobody ever admitted to being a mortgage broker -- no one ever mentioned eating the neighbors. They had been working somewhere in the
Delmarva area. They didn't say where. "Probably a chicken plucking factory" I thought. It had been rough. They had made it across a bridge, probably to one of the beach towns before it was closed. The car from Texas? They had "found" it. We're they lying to me? Sure. I didn't care. They asked me questions and my replies just as vague or lied myself.

What was interesting was why they were here. They wanted to be disciples of the Colonel. The male, Juan, was pretty straight forward about it. "You know it's like this. The world is fucked. It ain't coming back either. What he wants is us to be is good members of the community and worship Jesus." His woman added, somewhat bitterly I thought "And him." Juan got pissed when he heard that "Yeah. So fucking what. As long as he feeds us and lets our kids grow up somewhere safe I am fine with that. Nowadays that's a good fucking deal." She put her hand on his leg and started quieting him down. Telling him "I know. I know. This just not the America I expected." He snorted and continued "And you know what?" Here his eyes bored into me "The man don't care what color you are as long as you follow the rules. You got any idea how rare that is right now?"

"What about Aztlan?" I asked him. I was genuinely curious.

They both laughed. "Aztlan." He laughed again "C'mon. We ain't going back to the barrio. I want toilets that flush inside my house brother."

We got cleared to cross about thirty minutes later. Every single dog had taken a dump, much to the kids amusement. Me and Thursday were getting into the truck when one of the officers yelled at us to "Clean up that dog shit!" I waved, smiled, and we kept going.

Thursday was grumpy. I wanted to kid him about it but I didn't know him well enough to do it yet. He hadn't eaten his melon so I asked him for it.

"No." Was his reply.

"No? Just like that?" I was disappointed.

"Yes. Just like that." Yep. He was grumpy.

We rode in silence for about five minutes and I figured we were getting close to the town. I told him "Look Thursday. I appreciate the ride an all. Drop us off outside of town and I will walk in from there." I didn't think it would all that much of a walk. Hell, I would be surprised if the town center took up more than five blocks. I just wanted to leave the dogs somewhere and outside of town was the best bet. With a little luck they could scare up a deer on their own while I was gone. I doubted it.

He surprised me when he answered me with "No. I'll stay with you. You and the boy will need a ride out of town. Plus...I am a warrior. You might need me."

"Sure." I was thinking he was right. We would need a ride back. Maybe even further. With or without him.

We stopped outside town, went down someones gravel driveway, and pulled up in front of a ruined farmhouse. It had caught on fire or had been set on fire. I noticed one wall was pock marked with bullet holes. I was at the point where I saw stuff like this but didn't. They all told a story but one I had read before.

What would have been interesting would have been an intact and functioning farm. I was pretty sure they were still out there. The melon guys were proof of that. More than likely the marginal farms were being let go if the owners were dead and no one stepped forward and put a claim in. Resources and labor were to much in demand to work played out soil. Especially when you didn't have access to all the chemical steroids that were used to pump up marginal land.

I climbed out of the cab and dropped the tailgate. Woof looked at me puzzled. I told him "Don't worry. I'll come back for you." He hopped down and headed into the woods without looking back. The rest of the pack followed him. A couple of them looked back at me but not Woof. I had been tempted to let the other dogs loose and keep him with me. I knew better. If you want to run a pack you had to run with them. Then again if any of those Rottweilers got serious about challenging him I figured I put them all down. He could get a new pack but I wasn't sure if I could find another Woof.

I climbed back in the truck and we took off. The town was not what I expected. Yeah, there were an abundance of American flags. There was also an equal amount of Freedom Party ones too. There were no large portraits of the Colonel as Supreme Leader anywhere I could see. People were out an about an moving with purpose. A handful of stores were open. We passed a clothing store, a gun store, and a small grocery and hardware store. Down the street I saw a sign for "Leather Goods" and a used book store. Nothing in them for sale looked new but I saw a van unloading boxes into the hardware store. One guy unloaded while a woman stood guard over the boxes.

I told Thursday "Not bad. Looks like they are getting it together."

He spit into the street, looked around and said "They're going to need walls."

Thursday found a place to park and we got out and joined the people of the town. I was expecting to get stopped. If we hadn't I would have been surprised. People were friendly when they passed us but I also noticed they gave us space. Everyone was armed, and most of them looked like they knew which end to point at us. They were just wary. We had been walking for about fifteen minutes. Enough time to see almost everything. I was looking for a diner or restaurant when they rolled up on us on their bikes.

They came from behind. I knew it because I felt the change in the air. So did Thursday. We both looked at each other out of the corner of our eyes at the same time. We also kept going. I heard the sound of them getting off and the kickstands coming down. About two beats later I heard "Hey. You two!" We stopped and turned to face them. They looked like soldiers except they were wearing black nylon duty belts with the usual assortment of crap hanging off of them. The major difference was the blue and white armband each wore that said "Police." Both were in their early twenties, clean cut. One of them had a walkie talkie stuffed into his dutybelt. One was white. The other one was black. "Ah" I thought "Racial diversity is a beautiful thing."

I grinned and said "Yes officers?"

They split as they moved towards us with the white guy moving into the street a few feet so he had a better angle. They didn't smile back at me. I didn't expect them too.

"We just want to welcome you to town" was what the Black officer told us "And inquire to what brings you here." I thought "Above average vocabulary and delivery. Not a grunt, and if he was, it wasn't going to be for long.

"We are here to find a kid for a friend." I got corrected by Thursday who said "A maiden."

"Yeah. A maiden." I looked at Thursday and said "I'll tell the story. Okay?"

He shrugged "Sure." Then he told the officer "She is a maiden."

Neither officers expressions changed. The one doing the talking replied "Right" and told me "Continue."

So I told him the kids name, and that we knew there was a home or school for kids here, and we was in it. I didn't like how his eyes changed as I talked. I also felt the flow change. His partner, the white guy, was wearing sunglasses. I did not like that either. I felt Thursday, rather than saw, shift his weight a little. Then I described him. When I mentioned the scar black guy didn't react much. Just enough that I knew the kid was here.

The officer pretended to think for a few beats. Then he told us. "I don't know. If he is here he will have to recognize you or you need something he will know. The Party does not keep children from their rightful parents. The Junior Warfighter School is two blocks from here. Make a left at the next light. It used to be an elementary school."

I didn't see a functioning light but I knew what he meant. He continued "The town rules are; No weapons drawn; No bad language or spitting." He stared at Thursday. So that hadn't gone unnoticed. "No drinking, drugging, or bothering the women. If your here tomorrow the rules change."

I didn't ask him how they changed. I didn't care. I said "Thank you officer. Is there a place to eat in town?"

"Yeah. Halfway to the school. Look for the Liberty Cafe."

I wasn't done. "They serve pie?"

For the first time he grinned "Yep. It's good too."

Me and Thursday started walking the direction of the school. Thursday was ogling the local women. Apparently they didn't have any where he was from. I had to admit the locals had a few good looking, big breasted young ladies. Thursday noticed that I was looking at one particularly fine young woman walking down the opposite side of the street. He grinned and said "Yep. They need a wall."

I just grunted. I was trying to figure out how to do this. I didn't like the feeling I got from those two officers. Plus, this was going way to smoothly. I was trying to remember the last time I had a plan that had worked out as nicely as this one had so far. I couldn't think of any. I was trying to figure out if that was a good or bad sign when Thursday asked me "They got any rivers or maybe an ocean near here?"

I wanted to tell him how incredibly stupid of a question that was when I saw the school. Instead I told him "That's the school. Let me do the talking. Okay?"

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