The presidential campaign that followed the President X’s administration was in full saturation mode. Declaring a National state of emergency and martial law would have an unknown effect on the election but seemed necessary to most in the administration. Every day that passed meant more people dying in the conflict that had more or less remained quietly under the surface until the day of the nationally coordinated protests against courthouses.
The President was faced with a difficult choice. He may cost the country a sure election of leftists if he did declare martial law—the leaders on the left would use it as proof of his overreaching. He may cause more Conservative losses if he didn’t declare martial law—many people would be too scared to vote against the left. Either way, he would be postured to lose support. But he and most of the people who surrounded him and knew what was best for the country to preserve the Republic. He worked with his administration knew he would have to declare soon to turn the tide of hate and avarice that was blanketing the nation with hate and violence. Too many people would die if he didn’t take action to reign in the terror being waged in every state.
Many courthouses were still occupied since the numbers are so great that removing them would require costly and severe measures by law enforcement and the military—which could be seen as government becoming oppressive. That would certainly be used as even more fuel to feed the fires of discontent and revolution. Nashville was still occupied by her own citizens who had intentionally been indoctrinated by the public schools they attended and taught little about civics and the Constitution. Many young people were trained in a mental state of socialist contempt for all things America. No one was leading either side of the conflict and everyone was leading. Two human being pinchers of power were clashing and it was loud.
One race in the past for the Whitehouse pitted Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump. It was a shrouded socialist versus a shrouded conservative. Both had ideas for power and to use the presidency to affect some parts of the system but only Trump desired and planned to do more than tweak the system. While she planned to continue the policies of the previous Democrat administration, Donald Trump called for an American first administration and promised real changes within government for the people. Most feared that if he won, the country would be a desperately regressive place. Most thought his chances were slim to win, but they were wrong. He began to disrupt but was fighting against a mountain of deeply rooted bureaucrats in every bloated agency.
The Democrat party began to plan immediately to cause an early exit from the office of the business man as possible. Many in the Democrat party wanted to move the country farther left by paying homage to a foursome of radical female Congress members dedicated to destruction of America and Capitalism. Most Democrat members expected to stay under the radar of what they knew to be an uninformed public. Radical changes would never fly in many of their districts and could cost them reelection. The “squad” as they came to be known was known also for failure and loss although they held sway with a weak party leadership.
It was better to slowly cause change—appointments to the Supreme Court of women in Hillary’s case who agreed with her on the issues and conservatives in the case of Donald Trump of those who agreed with him. And both looked forward to spaced legislation to do the same thing. Hillary Clinton would redistribute income in a variety of ways—from comparative worth legislation to welfare and social security increases to include compensation for illegal aliens who paid nothing into this particular system. The system is wrecked because of its use for income and medical care for many groups of people to be included in this particular plan rather than a different plan that had not been paid into by employees and employers. She also wanted to be credited with a health care system that would finally pay for doctor’s visits and medications—a sure thing that would cement her power. Donald Trump desired to please his base with lower taxes, an improved educational system and legislation to provide more freedom of markets to provide working opportunities for more people. Neither camp saw the explosion coming that tore the country apart in a far more serious way than speeches, the media and the internet had thus far. The period was the period when Americans drew lines that were so powerful and deeply felt they couldn’t be breeched by either side. The division became permanent then. We’re way past that time and the roots of each side have continued to grow.
Herman was able to find a young man willing to help him monitor the cell phone messages of groups within a five mile radius. He had watched his church burn down—where he played the organ—and knew it was a new kind of war. He wanted to help and when Herman walked into the circuit city store he worked as a technical assistant/salesperson, the young man didn’t think twice about doing the job with the grieving man who was a friend.
As far as the store manager David Wilkerson knew, Herman would use the intelligence he could collect to report to the police. Los Angeles had become a dangerous place—almost in every corner—and it was time David committed to fight against it in the best way he could. He knew that. Mr. Gonzales was his first and best chance to do something positive for his community.
He left the store, which was about to suspend operations indefinitely anyway and followed Herman to his home in the Heights. He had loaded enough hardware and software to practically service a space station and would use whatever he needed to use to establish the links for Herman in order to track and report violent criminals. He happily maxed out his Visa card to acquire it all.
Herman’s living room became a space that appeared to be a systems service center. The room was filled with computers, screens, receivers, scanners, wires and satellite links to the new dish mounted outside the front window. There was little room left to walk but space to do anything but find the guilty was not needed. Within ten hours he was set, ready to go and trained how to use it all.
David worked the first shift at the store and picked up some conversations he recorded and located the origins of the signals with the GPS device tuned to the electronic traffic. Herman prepared a dinner for David and himself. He wondered about when it would be safe to bring daughter Maria and his wife of fifteen years, Anne, home at last. But it had to be a safe home and there was no sign safety had returned—just more violence nearby. He sighed and prayed for an end of the troubles for Los Angeles and for the country.
Sam went back to the ANSWER office in Nashville to talk to Sara again. He walked in and noticed she was there that morning with her back turned. There were several cardboard boxes stacked around the small room. The posters and fliers he had seen on the walls during his first visit had been stripped leaving the patched wall bare. He quietly called out to her. It was apparent to Sam that she was packing.
“Hi, Sara—do you remember me?”
“Yes, how’s it all going for you, Mr. Adams?”
“I want to thank you for the help—it’s going somewhere. That’s all I can say.”
“Did you learn anything that was helpful to you?”
“Yes, ma’am, sort of,” he said and smiled toward her. “And trust me, I never and will never share where the leads came from.”
“I know that, Mr. Adams.”
“Call me Sam, please, Sara. I’m not that much older than you,” he said and laughed.
She was wearing a billowy blouse and jeans. Under it all, her profile was well conditioned and slim. She seemed cleaner and better groomed than most people of her side of things that he had seen lately. It wasn’t that she needed any kind of approval from him—he didn’t think that way—it was just she didn’t fit the normal profile of those he was now fighting.
He knew she was a vegetarian and figured her diet must agree with her. Her mind had been open to helping him solve a murder of another woman she undoubtedly had nothing in common with other than being a woman. The victim was his wife—who he loved dearly still—and no one had the right to take her away from him, from his daughter, from her family. It seemed Sara could empathize with him at some level although some close to her politically had been responsible for taking her life. He knew that she abhorred violence.
“Very well, Sam. And what can I do for you? We’re about to close this office,” she added quickly.
“I see—so that’s what you’ve been working on back there.”
“Yeah, Sam, that’s right. We have to pack it in and take up our cause nearer the courthouse. Derrick has decided we’re too far away here and can be more directly involved in the day to day operations closer to the action.”
“It may be dangerous for you over there, Sara. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“I don’t want anything to happen to me, either,” she said calmly and smiled. “But thank you for the sentiment. I know it must be hard for you.”
“No, ma’am… it’s not hard to want an honest, good person like yourself to be safe and okay through all of this.” He smiled, his eyes focused on hers, making the point he was serious.
“I came across a name, Sara. Well, it’s more of a possible name of a group than any individual—it’s one I haven’t heard of before. It is something called the Shroud,” he said, imploring her for an answer through his eyes.
She knew exactly what he was doing, what he was asking. She had heard some things, some things about the Shroud that sounded terrible and wrong. It was an area of discussion that caused her to not want to discuss with anyone. Sara knew of it by hearsay and that if it was true, they were an extremely dangerous group. She didn’t like the thoughts she had about them and avoided thinking about the rumors.
One thing she heard was that the Shroud was a group of killers. The word going around was that members of this secret group could be anyone and they wouldn’t hesitate to cause the disappearance of those who disclose them and their activities. She also heard they were an invitation only group sworn to the death to each other. Thinking this might even be true caused her stomach to turn and ache for their causes.
As much as she appreciated the side they were on, the causes they took up and devoted themselves to, she hated the idea of murder. Sara hated the idea that anyone associated with the left would even be associated with killing. It was painful and no matter the rationale that she heard or read about concerning the ultimate act of defiance of the revolution, the idea of actually ending life was repulsive to her and made her weak, made her sick. She kept hope in her heart that none of what she heard was true.
“Well?” he asked. “Have you heard of this name?”
She turned away in silence and dropped her head.
“Yes, Sam, I’ve heard of it. I know very little about it though, just rumors that I don’t know are true.”
“Have you heard whether they’re working for ANSWER or Antifa, or something else? Are there a few or hundreds of them?”
“No they’re not working for us—that much I’m certain of knowing for a fact. I don’t know how many or where they’re from… or who they are, Sam.”
“Will you tell me what you do know about them, please?”
“I’ll try,” she said avoiding eye contact with him. “I have to finish packing up, Sam. Can we meet somewhere later?”
“Sure we can, Sara and I’ll buy us dinner. We can meet and just eat dinner.”
“I guess that will work.”
“Let me help you here, please.”
“Thank you, Sam. These materials have to be loaded in the van in the front outside.”
He helped her finish packing a variety of socialist pamphlets and booklets. The texts were published to make a claim of legitimacy for everything from the brand of economics they believed in, techniques to use for civil disobedience, the danger corporations pose to the environment, outlines on how to file discrimination charges and lawsuits, the danger of autocratic religion that would be forced on people and, exaggerated statistics and railings against the war.
Nothing about the Shroud was in the mix that he saw. At least she wasn’t advocating for them, he thought. Sam helped her load the computers, telephone equipment, boxes, three small table and folding chairs into the van. All of it fit but it was tight by the time they were finished. He thought about the absurdity of his helping the other side—the side opposed to almost every principle he held as important and true. But there was no absurdity or conflict in helping Sara.