(This is a work of Fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in this short story are entirely fictional and are of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or organizations or persons living or dead in entirely coincidental.)
As the morning sunlight filtered through the arbor window and warmed the hardwood floors in our kitchen where our two cat’s Axl and Chesty napped. I paused painting my models long enough to grab my wife Leah as she walked by to give her a smooch.
“You better not have paint thinner on those hands mister!” she said smiling as she kissed me. I moved my hand to her tight bottom and gave it a squeeze. She gave me one of her classic smirks and then continued on her way down the hall to put up laundry.
“Guess that means no afternoon delight for me.” I said to myself feeling rejected.
After finishing the painting on the Soviet Mig-15, I placed it gingerly on a drying rack next to a F-94 Starfire and F-86 Sabre. My Korean Air War collection was coming along quite nicely. Deciding I had spent enough time on my “de-compression” hobby for the day, I headed into the bathroom to wash up. On the way there our Dachshund Mosby, who typically lays in a coma like state twenty-two hours a day by the fireplace, began barking intently looking out the patio door that leads to the backyard.
Normally I would dismiss his barking since ninety-five percent of the time it was squirrels that were the object of his annoyance, but his tone concerned me. It was not his typical snappy bark, but a low guttural growl. Telling Mosby to stay I slipped out the patio door and walked down beside the shop where Mosby had been looking. Standing there for a few minutes with all my senses alerted, nothing stood out. As I turned around to head back into the house I heard the crunch of leaf litter under foot behind me and before I could spin around something solid and hard hit me in the back of my head.
Time stopped as Elvis softly crooned in my ear as I fell through open space grasping for anything to break my fall.
“We’re caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby…”
When I landed I was sitting in one of my dining room chairs in my living room, my hands and feet zip tied and my head feeling like a frozen cantaloupe about to split. Four black clad goons with sanitized uniforms stood staring at me. They were armored up with G-36 rifles and their faces hidden by balaclavas and sunglasses. If I had to guess they were UNDOD, United Nations Department of Disarmament. They were the street enforcers of the new Communist regime whose motto said it all:
“A friendlier, united, Dis-ARMED America.”
Most of them were foreign PMC’s from Europe with a large contingent of Chinese military “advisors.”
“Where is my wife?” I mumbled with a thick tongue as blood trickled out of my mouth and down my chin.
The bastards had split both my lips and a few teeth felt loose in their sockets.
“Let’s start with you telling us where your pirate radio site is located asshole.” One of the goons growled in a thick Eastern European accent as he stepped toward me flexing his gloved fist.
“Let’s start with you showing me a search warrant shit-stain” I replied smiling, knowing full well that these communist bastards didn’t have one and didn’t care.
As I was congratulating myself on my quick wit, I caught a glimpse of myself in the living room mirror. My teeth were pink from blood and with the one swollen shut eye I kind of resembled Rocky Balboa when he was getting his ass beat by that seven foot Soviet monster.
About that time a snappy right cross knocked me silly for a moment and everything went pinhole black and then slowly came back into wide focus.
“You hit like a bitch.” I slurred, half conscious.
The lead goon smiled at my bravado and then nodded to one of his team mates who slipped into the back of the house and came back with Leah. They had gagged and zip tied her hands behind her which did not prevent her from trying to kick and scratch at them like a feral cat.
I smiled to myself when I heard her muffled words of “Get your hands off me you commie dick-less wonder.”
God how I loved that woman.
The goon questioning me snatched Leah by the back of the hair and as she cried out in pain through the gag I put all my strength in busting those zip ties and coming out of that chair to bite the bastards face off but the goon closest to me gave me a smart pop to the face stopping my efforts cold.
“I’ll ask one more time and then instead of beating you into hamburger we’re all going to take turns tag teaming your wife while you watch.” The goons all cackled like a pack of hyenas.
Leah’s eyes narrowed and resembled two burning embers as she stared down the bastards with pure venom.
“Do that and you all die slow deaths, I promise you.” I made eye contact with the son-of-a-bitch and kept it until he looked away.
The lead goon slowly shook his head as he looked to his buddies in disbelief at my courage.
Although my voice was hoarse and weak and my heart was pumping kool-aid like I was running a marathon, rage fermented in my veins like boiling lava as I imagined biting through that bastards jugular.
A voice over the goon’s radio interrupted my daydream.
“Yeah it’s a negative out here boss, we searched everywhere, there’s nothing here. No guns or radios.”
The boss shook his head in disgust.
“10-4, Secure search.”
He then nodded at his cohort to cut me and Leah loose.
“Looks like it’s your lucky day asshole but don’t think you’ve fooled us, we’ll be back and when we do and find something we’re gonna plant you and your bitch out there in that garden.”
I slowly rubbed my wrist from where the zip ties had cut into my skin and as nonchalantly as I could and in my best Clint Eastwood voice looked up at him and said:
“You sure like to talk a lot.”
As he made a step toward me and I was rising up our of my chair to swing my best haymaker Leah stepped in between us and let loose with a verbal salvo.
“You’re nothing but a bunch of dick less commie stooges! All of you! Coming in here threatening us and trampling the rights of free men and women for your Chinese stooge and marxist whore in Washington! You all should be ashamed of yourselves!”
I smiled at the gumption of my wife while preparing myself for another four on one beating but was relieved when I saw them all turn around and walk out the door.
Before I could get up Leah ran to the back to check on the animals which had taken refuge under our bed. Axl, Chesty and Mosby seeing that the coast was clear busted out of our bedroom like escaped convicts. Mosby in true fashion after coming over to me jumped up on the couch to look out the front window and gave a few “Never come back here again asshole!” barks.
Leah then began doctoring my split lip while placing a frozen bag of lima beans from the deep freeze against my swollen eye.
“Real tough men they were! Beating on a man whose hands were zip tied! Cowardly assholes!” Leah’s eyes continued to glow like coals in a fire.
Fearing she might black my other eye, I tried to calm her down.
“What in the world are you smiling at Logan! Those cretins beat the stuffing out of you, threatened to rape and murder us and pillaged our property!” Leah’s voice was cracking with adrenaline and anger. I gently touched her chin so that our eyes met.
“Because sweetheart this is the struggle. Right here, right now. I know it’s not pretty, but ask yourself: what did they find? Nothing! What did they accomplish? Nothing! Yeah they made some idle threats toward you and got a few licks in on me but I promise you this: when the time is right, we will get a few licks in on them.”
My words hung in the air for a long moment as she stared into my eyes. Finally she smiled and her normal color returned to her face as her breathing settled and the small little crinkled lines around her eyes disappeared. I gave her a kiss and we hugged and held each other for what seemed like ten minutes.
After dinner I walked out to the back of my property and set half a dozen old tires on fire with some gas. The solid black putrid smoke rose into the air and was visible for miles around. When radio silence was mandatory this was the best way to communicate locally. It let all my people know I was OK and that a meeting was needed the following day at our agreed upon location. I had learned this method (The “haji smoke signal”) from a former D-Boy who had been deployed in Somalia. The militias and warlords there communicated across the city of Mogadishu with this method with great success the day of the Blackhawk Down incident.
As I stood there watching the black smoke drift up into the sky Leah came up behind me and put her arms around me.
“Don’t you miss the good ole’ days of the internet, email and facebook?” she asked, snuggling her head on my shoulder.
I laughed. “Not one damn bit” I replied.
Since the new regime takeover two years ago all media, including internet and television were tightly controlled, monitored and censored by the State. Sure you could still use it but privacy and freedom of speech were now a distant memory.
The Resistance went analog old school and never looked back.
Radio waves, dead drops and good ole fashioned spy tradecraft developed and perfected by the OSS and SOE during WW2 and the Cold War had served us well.
“Better dead than red.” Leah whispered as she hugged me tight.
I placed my hand on her arm and squeezed and prayed to the Almighty above that it would not have to come to that.
The next morning I jumped in my Polaris Ranger and met Gary at our contingency location, an old abandoned moonshiners cabin six miles off an old logging road.
I had known Gary for about fifteen years. He had originally moved to the area from Washington state and after doing eight years in the Army with two tours in Afghanistan had begun a successful logging business. He was a big bear of man, over six foot and two hundred fifty pounds who always wore denim or canvas overalls with a can of copenhagen snuff in the front pocket.
As soon as Gary saw my face he began cursing.
“I don’t believe this shit! This is it! We have to retaliate! I know the perfect spot for a textbook L ambush…”
As I dodged Gary’s spittle and attempted to calm him down I found out more bad news: The goon squad had hit four other houses on the mountain besides mine that same day, including Old Man Jackson, an eighty-eight year old Korean War Vet that lived by himself.
“Bastards shot his little dog and made him take down the American Flag he had at his front door. The old man was beside himself with anger and grief.”
I shook my head in disgust as I stared out into a clearing behind the cabin. Two whitetail deer, a doe and her fawn were grazing near the tree line.
“It’s obvious they are grasping at straws. Right now they have no ideal of our organization. Hell they thought I was in charge of the broadcast!”
A broad grin came across Gary’s bearded face.
“Combine that with them bullying everybody and anybody on this mountain and that tells me they have zero intel and their only play is to try and draw us out into a fight on their terms.”
Gary nodded thoughtfully as he scratched at his beard.
“So what should we do?”
“First thing we do is shore up our support base. I want you to go up there personally and talk to all these people. It is imperative we keep open communication and let them know we are here for them. In return all that we ask is that they keep their eyes and ears open. Second, we need to be more mindful of OPSEC, keep an eye out for strange vehicles and people and especially drones and pass it along verbally to everybody else.”
Gary nodded in the affirmative.
“What are you going to do?” he asked
“I’m gonna go into town and nose around a bit.” I replied, looking up at the dark rain clouds rolling in from the east.
“You going to go by and see Jasper?” Gary asked starting the four-wheeler.
Jasper was our tech guru and in charge our or mobile radio program, The Partisan Ledger. He was indeed “the wizard” behind the curtain.
“No we all need to maintain radio silence and steer clear of meeting or talking with any other members for now. If you do have contact, make it brief and tell everybody to lay low and wait for instructions.”
Gary nodded as he cranked up and sped off down the mountain trail.
I continued watching the deer for a few more minutes as the first big drops of rain started to gently slap the leaves of the trees.
Taking my time going down the mountain and ensuring I did not have a tail, I arrived in the town of Cooper’s Mill twenty minutes later. With a population of just under five hundred people, Cooper’s Mill was one of those places that time had forgot and none of the locals really seemed to care. Not seeing any strange vehicles or faces I parked and headed over to the hardware store which in Cooper’s Mill was also the local coffee shop, gun store, autozone, grocery store and rumor mill all rolled into one.
Walking in I fully expected to find the same half a dozen grizzled old men drinking coffee and telling tall tales but instead only found the owner, Bill Carlyle behind the counter with his old hound dog Rusty stretched out in front of a pot belly stove. Seeing me come in Bill came out from behind the counter. Bill was pushing seventy-five but had always been in decent shape for his age. So as soon as I saw him limping toward me I knew what had happened. As I shook his hand he looked at the state of my face and smirked.
“So the bastards made a house call to you too huh?” Bill asked with a look of anger.
I was so frustrated and mad I couldn’t answer. With my lips trembling Bill guided me to a chair and poured me a cup of his strong coffee.
“So what happened?” I asked, my face red with anger and my eyes moist with despair.
“Oh they came in here asking me all kinds of questions about gun sales and when one of them tried to go through my accounting books and I tried to stop him he whacked me upside the head with his rifle.” Bill pointed to the bandage above his eye.
“Needless to say all he left here with was a notebook full of old receipt carbons from 2017.”
“Those commie bastards!” was all I could say, my breath coming in short spurts.
“Now don’t get yourself all worked up son.” Bill said as he reached over and patted me on the arm like a father.
“Where is everybody?” I finally asked calming down.
“They are all holed up at home scared out of their minds I imagine.” Bill replied sipping his coffee. The rage continued to ferment inside of me as my mind raced.
“What about Gene what has he done about all this?” I asked.
Gene Pritchard was the local Sheriff and had been a vocal critic of the UNDOD’s tactics since all this began, refusing to enforce any “federal guidelines” when it came to “public safety.” Bill shot me a confused glance.
“You mean you haven’t heard?” My eyes got wide and my heart began to pound in my chest.
“Gene and his entire family were arrested the other day and the rumor is they were taken to some kind of camp east of here. I don’t really know what to believe anymore.”
Bill stared out the window with a look of hopelessness and anger as the rain began to fall in big fat drops on the tin roof of the store.
To Be Continued…