NATIONS Chapter XI Godless Revenge

Herman drove to the house where his wife and daughter were waiting for him.  It was a small rancher one-hundred miles away in the small City of Maricopa, Arizona.  It was the home of his uncle and aunt who became his parents after his father was killed in the Mexican State of Oaxaca.  The Uncle and Aunt also were responsible for his new name—an American name, Herman. 

They had one cousin, his adopted brother who was unable to live on his own since the industrial accident he suffered caused him to lose both his legs living with them.  The home place was the place of his raising when his uncle originally immigrated to the United States where the senior Gonzales worked as an Engineering Technician before being promoted to Plant Engineer.

Herman’s Uncle made certain the plant was maintained and any new equipment and machines were set up.  He designed the building modifications, supplied power, hydraulics, water, and air—whatever the facility needed physically.  It had been a good career for over thirty years.  José Gonzalez retired last year and spent his time tending garden and painting landscapes.  Art was an alternative to the precise nature his job had demanded while he worked for the Bryson Company’s plant in Bakersfield.  He’d been overjoyed to have Anna and Maria stay with them.

Herman wanted to be with his family but he didn’t want them to return anywhere near the troubles.  They would never return as a family until and unless all the animals were gone one way or the other.  And he knew that to be an impossible task.  For every one he put into the ground, several more were reaching an age to be dangerous.  That age seemed to becoming younger and younger.  Now it wasn’t uncommon to hear of fourteen year olds being arrested for firing an automatic weapon downtown. 

Sadly, it was also not unusual for Herman and all the citizens of Los Angeles to hear of a fourteen year old being charged with murder.  The same level of evil had seated itself in most communities regardless of state, regardless of whether it was north, south east or west.  They are the product of the hard core takers—of people who have taken to live with petty jealousies and greed causing not just a fight or quarrel—but killing, ending someone’s life for the sneakers he wore or the insult he or she may have said.  He still thought he should take care of the murderers but his mind was a swirl.

As he pulled into his uncle’s front yard, an excited Maria ran out to greet him.  He saw her alive and full of childhood energy.  He saw a young girl he hoped was still full of hope and love of her family and life—looking forward to a future.  She had endured what no fourteen year old should ever endure yet she came out of it and it appeared her spirit was intact.  Herman knew she’d suffered a severe skull fracture.  He noticed as she got closer to him that her eyes looked different somehow. 

Her eyes were still two of the most beautiful he had ever seen or could imagine in God’s finest art.  Something wasn’t quite right though and it was more than the tears running down her face.  He knew the origin of her change but didn’t know how to make it go away.  She missed her brother and didn’t understand why God let him be taken away from them.  He embraced her and wrapped his strong arms around her picking her up off her feet, loving her, and cried with her.

The work he began to seek justice back home would become a fiercer obsession for him as the fever surged through his veins.  He felt his body being taken by a strength he’d never felt.  He wanted to take all the evil ones out and if that were his mission until he dies, it will be so. 

He took her inside where Anna was waiting to embrace her husband.  The family had dinner prepared and waiting for his arrival.  He was asked to sit at the head of the table by José.  He obliged her because there was no disobedience in a Chicano household.  He said grace and sat in place waiting for everyone else to be served first.  His appetite hadn’t been the same since the day they took him to the hospital.

“José… Please tell Herman what they said at church this morning.  He needs to know for I worry so,” Herman’s mother Anna Maria said.

“I don’t know, Anna.  Permita que el hombre coma primero… let the man eat first,” he said as he smiled with his joke toward his guest.

“What is it, Uncle?  Is there something going on at church I should know about?  Are you and mother safe?”

“We’re safe here, Herman.  Don’t worry.  I have something to share with you after the meal.  It is nothing for Anna and Maria to worry about, son and I would rather ask you if you are aware of it after we’re alone.”

“Yes, sir, I understand,” Herman said respectfully.  Though he shared everything with his own wife, it wasn’t the old way, his Uncle and Father’s way.  His mother obviously heard whatever it was while at Mass this morning and was pushing his Uncle to tell him.   

He tried to smile and found it difficult.  Then when he thought of only Maria and Anna, he managed one.  He saw Maria in his mind running and playing, smiling that wonderful smile of hers, eyes wide open, full of wonder and happy.

After the meal, José asked Herman to attend with him outside on the front porch he built last summer.  It was a space done in treated lumber, screened and roofed as a kind of outside Florida room where he would sit and paint for hours with no distractions.  Herman took a cup of coffee and stepped out with his father.  As the men closed the door behind them, Herman saw his Uncle’s expression and knew it to be dread.  He was not smiling. 

Herman sipped from the cup and sat down across from Jose’ who looked troubled to a degree he’d never seen before, even during those occasions when the Bryson plant was in trouble financially and impending layoffs were imminent.  It was hard to stay afloat at different times in California as more State regulations and higher taxes seemed to be a constant no matter who occupied the Governor’s chair.  There had been two periods of stress like that when the corporate executives seriously contemplated moving out of the state.

He remembers the close calls of the past when management seriously considered a move of the plant to South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama or Georgia, where there were more favorable environments to operate freely.  José had to work up the logistical plan more than once and as painful as it was for him—because he knew he wouldn’t leave his him—he did a complete and accurate job of detailing the specific plan in order to start up another facility as expeditiously as possible.

“What is it, Uncle?  Is something wrong?”

“Yes, Son, there has been something horrible to happen.  We have a man who works in Bakersfield for the FBI who is a member of the church and I believe him.”

“The country has gone loco.  That much I know.  That’s why your Anna and Maria are here.  I can’t speak to you about what happened… It hurts too much,” Herman said.

“I know what happened to your family and you, Herman.  I’m so sorry about your son.  It makes me muy enojado, quiero matar! ”

“Yes, sir, me too…  The animals are still at it down there.”

“I know, Son.  Please do nothing foolish.” 

He waited as Herman took another sip from the cup.  He looked outside toward the flat plain in front of his house where only a few trees interrupted an otherwise dry landscape.  But he loved the sight.  Although modest, it was a place of joy, peace, and rest.  He enjoyed the rest and being home as much as he wanted to be and doing what he wanted to do.  There were no wetlands to be concerned about that would keep him from building anything he wanted to build.  There were no close neighbors.  There was at least a few hundred feet to his frontage on the road.  It was space that was empty and where he let his mind fill in the scene as he wanted, but always safe and peaceful.

“Herman, the man said there was an army moving toward Washington.  They have been tracking its organization and movement for a week.  I’m afraid the numbers are like something that has never happened before.  They mean to take the government by force.”

“An army headed toward Washington D.C.?  What does that mean, Uncle?”

“It means there is going to be a big confrontation and people may die.  They aren’t marching on Washington to only protest with their voices.  According to our Parishioner, they mean to take over by force.  Even as we speak, they are gathering forces to head that way.  They are coming from every state, but many are from other countries.  It is a coalition of Middle Eastern men, women, Socialists, Communists, Blacks, and Hispanics who believe most of this country belongs to them.  They say that over a million are coming with help from China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Malaysia—many places like that who are against the United States.  I’m worried sick over what this will mean.”

“Yes, sir… They have to be nuts!  If this is true, there will be a bloodbath.  How can anyone think they could do such a thing?  I don’t believe it will happen.  Surely to God it won’t.”

“The FBI man claimed most of the riots across the country are all a ruse, a distraction… while the march on Washington is the real thing.  They think that many who doing the rioting now will join them too.  Money and vehicles are amontanado to take them all!”

“They’ll never get away with it, Uncle.  Try to not worry so.”

“It’s dangerous, Herman.  We must pray for a peaceful resolution to the large conflict.  I’m afraid many people will yet die.  Somos todo en peligro ahora… it is true.  Our sister Parish Saint John’s in Bakersfield was bombed the other night.  Thank God no one was inside the building.”

Herman listened and felt sick.  His country was at the most serious crossroads it had ever gone through.  Nothing will be the same.  Hate has finally taken up most in its foul espíritu of the mal huela spirit of the Satanás himself.  Homes and jobs will evaporate.  Life has changed and will change more.  Herman, a man of faith knew that Satan always comes to destroy.  He suddenly knew the Satan had made him a would-be killer and gave him the lust for more blood.

The march on Washington D.C. will have to be stopped by a force of arms.  That’s the only way.  Herman envisioned the attempts to storm the capitol steps, the Whitehouse, and the heavily fortified pentagon.  Impossible, he thought.  He knew those first throngs would be stopped by any means and they’d have to be dedicated enough to sacrifice their lives.  That’s what it will take and there is certainly no guarantee of success.  In fact, he thought they are sure to fail.  The government will not allow itself to be occupied by people who are armed and it would have the forces in place to kill anyone perceived to be an enemy of the state. 

It was not that he appreciated or even liked the leftists, he didn’t.  Some of them were responsible after all for fomenting the emotions and hatred that caused the breakdown in Los Angeles and the murder of his son and the rapes of his wife and daughter.  No, it wasn’t that.  It was that he knew that most of the people who would be compelled to protest did not know what they were doing and wouldn’t be told of the real plan to take over anything.  A common tactic of the Socialists is to not divulge everything.  Most of them probably do not know what they are asking for with all the changes most likely to happen even if they have their way.  They simply know they want more from the world than they have and this group has promised them more.

All they have to do is join them to “raise awareness,” across America to the plight of people with insufficient income, no health insurance, Americans against the war and how the rich are exploiting workers in this land and every land.  The normal action is to gin up the notion that they are being treated unfairly and then use them to march on places like Washington—a final assault perhaps after creating havoc in most cities—and demand government hand over the reins of power to the people that care about others.

That’ll do it, Herman thought.  So many are bound to be hurt and die unnecessarily for being there to push for change and will not take over anything.  He knew they were fools and easily led.  He knew too that the leaders of such—of any Socialist movement—are the ones who become enriched as the number of wealthy and better off people, middle-America, and decline.  They’re the kind of people, the elite, who gather as much treasure as they can and then move to a safer country after their time on top of the Socialist matrix.   

The downward slide of the standard of living for more people always means the enrichment of fewer people.  It’s a hard fact those who would normally protest and march peacefully to accept.  They do not seem to understand or want to understand.  They hate the idea someone would stop them and their plans to make a Nation better.  As it is, they’re shocked to be called names and cursed.  They think they know and that it would be better but they haven’t experienced it.  Those people who migrated from other countries knew better.  In every case, such an experiment with Socialism has failed miserably. 

Often those who migrated here stay far away from the left because of their experience once they understand what they really stand for—they have seen it before and is most often the very reason they’re here in this country.  Still the left group thinks that it would be different and better in the United States.  In Herman’s view, he understood Socialism to do more to spread the misery then spread the wealth. 

It’s always been so in the world of human beings.  People think they deserve more than they have and begin to feel others are at fault they don’t have it.  They begin to think someone else prevents them from having what they want and they must change them to get it.  In the case of the United States, what used to be the freest and best economic system in the world must change to their favor for them to get what they want.  Then when change takes the day, government takes charge of production, forced work camps are established, and execution squads are usually and tragically dispatched to quash dissent.  The new order that failed to deliver needs more control and time while people have less than they did before.

            Attacking Washington?  My, God many Americans have gone mad!  Surely it is nothing but a rumor.  No one can be serious that would say that.

“Thank you for sharing that with me, Uncle.  I hope it doesn’t happen but if it does, it will be a sad day for this nation.”

“Yes, Herman, it will be the worst day we’ve ever had—something close to it many years ago before our time and this would be met with great force—they are preguntar to be matado, seguramente.”  He stopped and gazed out of the porch toward the field in front of him.  “Many people would be asking to be killed if they go to Washington for the purpose of doing the same things they were doing in the Cities,” he said.  He thanked God for one more peaceful day in his province, in a nation dangerously divided.  “You must be careful back at your home.  You may be attacked again.  Don’t you think you should come here too?”

“I can’t, Uncle, not yet.  I must look after our house.”

“A hacienda is nothing, Herman, compared to your life.”

“I’ll be fine, Uncle.  Do not worry.”

*

I’m worried about Sam.  I haven’t seen him at church in a couple of weeks and heard about his wife.  When I attended the memorial service for Cheryl, I noticed he was distant and seemed to be somewhere else.  But that was not unusual.  He had lost his life partner and such a trauma isn’t something one can recover from quickly—if at all.  I felt for him.  My offer of condolences and prayers do not seem to be much. 

His plant is still working a full schedule.  I know about the defense contract they won from Dupree International and am happy for our community.  It meant jobs and steady employment for the Gallatin area.  The troubles downtown is beginning to have an effect though as downtown has become virtually off limits.  No one can go down there and expect it to be the same, without risk.  Now there is great risk because of the people who sit there expecting what I don’t know.  But it remains a dangerous situation.

            There are the fires and looting now happening practically unstopped.  There aren’t enough police or National Guard troops to stop the numbers who are doing these things and coming close to destroying our city.  I don’t know what I can do about it yet but I am attending my first meeting of a group called the Eagles tonight over in Memphis and hope that is meaningful.  I began to carry a .357 magnum pistol by Ruger, one of Colt’s largest competitors.  It’s a sweet firing piece though and ideal to keep in my truck just under the seat. 

Sam meanwhile is missing from church and I wonder what he is going through.  Calls made to his home and messages left have not been answered in days now.  I am afraid he may have done something drastic, something irreversible, and something he shouldn’t do for the sake of Anne if not himself.  He should live many more days, God willing.

He’s a human being who contributes to society and serves the Lord by being a confessional Christian, a good citizen, and setting a good example in the community.  I know that doing the right thing such as working, paying taxes, protecting and loving a family isn’t the most popular thing with many people nowadays but it’s still a good thing.  Some say it is the fabric of society and I agree with that.  If we were to all be single, aloof, on drugs, uncaring, selfish and writing goofy blogs we wouldn’t be a very good society.  America wouldn’t be a very good place.  Happiness would be elusive especially for the self-absorbed people with little ambition, little future, and believed in no hereafter. 

Those are the impressions I have of many on the left—from top reporters and journalists to every-day, run of the mill liberals who definitely look out for themselves first.  They complain a lot, hate conservatism, and curse people who do not think like they do about issues and politics.  I have to find Sam and make sure he’s okay. 

*

Sam was apprehensive as he left the coffee shop with an idea where Giovanni was living.  He had the feeling that he was about to find him.  He didn’t know what that may mean to him, but he wanted to look at the man in the eye and tell him about his wife, Cheryl, and how much he loved her and misses her.  He wanted to ask him whether he threw the brick that killed her.

He walked toward the apartments building where Giovanni lived and stood outside the front entrances and stared, waiting for anyone to walk out that he could ask about Luther.

Sam learned from one talkative neighbor who told him that Giovanni had been arrested for possession, charged with shoplifting and convicted of assault in one case.  It seems he started a fight inside a bar with the wrong man he overheard saying that Gregoire had stolen the election for Governor that year.  It was all in the report.  The man who shared this tidbit of information also said he didn’t like him; he knew of him and kept his distance.  “He’s always bitching about this or that.  I don’t listen to him,” the neighbor said as he smiled a quirky, mentally ill kind of grin.  Sam didn’t put much stock into what he said but was glad to get his apartment number.    

He didn’t serve any time and was released after booking according to the man who was only too happy to share dirt on Giovanni.  Sam didn’t see how the case could have been resolved because he managed to travel to Nashville at close to the same time.  Chances were great that if there was a charge, it had dismissed or dispatched by some kind of community service and a small fine.  Sam heard the man say that the last and most recent brush with the law was still pending.  That was an aggravated assault case a week after the peace march last month.  The neighbor cautioned Sam to be careful around Luther.  “This guy is a bad actor, man,” the neighbor said with the same uneasy smile. 

That means he could have been in Nashville, probably sent by one of his masters somewhere assigning Shroud members to various points across the country to begin the killing, he thought.  Even though he was charged with using a weapon described as a baton against a police officer, he was not in jail and had been released after twenty-four hours on bond.  A safe place indeed this place, Seattle… this state Washington.  Lute is here or out there somewhere and could kill someone before anything is done about this violent jerk.

Sam left with information he needed.  He had little time left without having to call Daley Electric and ask for more days off.  Time was short for him to stay on schedule.  He also knew that Luther was a source to get to the truth.  His mission was to find the person or persons who killed Cheryl.  They had to account for what they did to his wife.     

He went to a newsstand where there were city maps, newspapers, and assorted magazines.  Having found the street and complex where Luther was living gave Sam what he needed to meet Giovanni.  He had to set up surveillance and observe the entry to the apartment and confront the man who lived there or he could simply knock on his door.  He decided to knock and after breathing hard and swallowing several times, he walked up the steps to the apartment.  

He packed his pistol behind his back secured tightly inside the waistband of his jeans and knocked on the door of the address if the neighbor had told him the truth.  He waited and knocked again.  There was no answer and no sounds of movement.  Sam looked into the window and didn’t see anyone.  He turned his back to the door and looked around.  So this is where a radical lives.  It’s busy and noisy.  There’s no privacy.  It sucks.  This doesn’t seem right.  I guess it would be okay if you wanted to spend most of your time on the computer and was too far out there to use your parents basement like so many do.  He laughed, thinking about the overused stereotype.

Just then the door opened behind him.  There stood a slovenly, unshaven dark haired younger man Sam figured to be in his twenties.  He was nearly morbidly obese with a gut that hung over his waist.  Sam figured he was far less than six feet tall.  He didn’t look like a warrior at all—or much of one.  He looked more like a cartoon.  He must have gotten into a fight with someone much smaller and weaker than he.  He has to know he’s not that dangerous, Sam thought.

“Luther Giovanni?” Sam asked piercing through the man with deadly serious eyes fixed on one of the men who very well may have thrown the deadly brick into his wife and daughter.

“That’s me.  I’m busy though.  Who are you?”

“I’m Sam.  I want to talk to you for a little while.”

“I don’t know you.  What do you want to talk to me about?  You don’t sound like you’re from around here.”

“I’m not, Mr. Giovanni.  May I come inside for a minute?”

“No, I don’t think you should.  Who are you?”

“I told you that I’m Sam, Sam Adams.  Does the name Adams mean anything to you?”

“No, it doesn’t.  I said I was busy.  I don’t have time for this.  What do you want to talk about?  I didn’t hear you say.”

The two men were standing near the doorway.  Sam could tell Giovanni was losing patience and wanted to close the door on him.  He wouldn’t let him inside because he didn’t know him—the one smart thing Luther was doing, Sam knew and was becoming frustrated.

“I want to know about Nashville, Luther.  I understand you were there.” 

Sam detected an odor of pasta being cooked from the apartment.  This obese jerk is certainly an eater.  He probably spends my money on it all too.  That’s the way it is for these takers.

“Who…  What are you?  Are you a cop?  I don’t have to answer you on anything.  I don’t have to say any damn thing but I want you to leave, now.  I don’t want to talk to you.”

“You’re not being very friendly.  I thought progressives were a friendly bunch,” Sam said with a smirk and forced smile.  He thought he must look like Joe Biden when the empty carcass of a career politician is in front of a camera.

“I’m closing the door.  Have a good day,” Luther said distinctly disingenuous.

Sam couldn’t think fast enough and let the door close on his trip and purpose.  He had to regroup and get back to this individual—a hard case and someone he hoped he could find the killer but doubted he would learn anything of value.  Luther was all he had unless he found some of his associates in the Shroud.  There was no way to know how long it may be before he has contact with any of them—or by what means he could make contact.  So much could be and is done on-line that Sam knew he may never see others who do the worst kind of work the left desires.

Sam knew he wouldn’t be leaving the apartment complex any time soon and to wait for him to leave would be a serious dent in the time he had to spend here.  He had to get him talking quickly.  He knocked on the door again, this time with a different idea as to how to approach the man-child.  To his surprise he opened the door again.  This time he was standing in front of him holding a police issue leather billy club.  The weapon was swinging side to side as Luther put on as threatening of a face as he could manage.

“I’m not finished here,” Sam said deeply from his diaphragm, sounding like an intimidating drill instructor in a military boot camp.  At the same time he pushed Luther backward, ignoring the billy club, daring him to use it.  “You’re going to talk to me, Giovanni—right now.  Tell me what I want to know right now and in a hurry!” Sam commanded as he pushed Luther down to the floor just inside the doorway.

“You can’t do this!  This is assault and I’ll call the police!” Luther protested just before he felt the power and sting of a first punch to the side of his face.  Luther instinctively grabbed the side of his face.  Sam struck him hard again on the other side of his face.

“That’s to get your attention.”

“I don’t want any trouble mister.  Don’t hit me, please.  I’m calling the police!”

Sam slapped him across his face with a powerful open hand.  Blood had splattered the walls and floor.  Luther was bleeding a great deal—it appeared to be worse than it was because forehead and face cuts tend to bleed profusely.

“Get up, stand up, or sit down.  I don’t care.  Tell me about Nashville!  Where were you in Nashville?  I know you were there, Luther.  Don’t lie to me or I will beat the living shit out of you and you’re full of it!”

“Please Mister… I was there, that’s true.  But I didn’t do anything except to march with the rest of them on city hall,” he said while he tried to slide toward his cell phone.

Sam spotted the phone and quickly picked it up and threw it away from Luther’s reach.  “Why would you be in Nashville to march?  Well?  Why in the hell were you way down there… a frigging day and a half away?”  Sam said just before he struck the top of Luther’s head hard enough to cause him to feel queasy and nauseated.  Luther lost the contents of his stomach and splattered it all over the foyer floor.  Sam gave him a minute to recover.  “Well, now maybe you want to answer my questions, Luther.”

“I was sent there, sir.”

“Who sent you?”

“Caesar sent me.”

“Caesar… who and where is Caesar?  What did you do?  Didn’t you use some bricks?”

“No, sir—I did not do anything like that.  Zeke and a few others did that with those bricks.  They were left there for us to use but I didn’t throw anything I swear.”

“Am I to believe you?  Who and where are Caesar and Zeke… and if you lie to me, I swear I’ll hunt your ass down.  Swearing means something to me, ass-hole.  Do you understand me?” 

“I’ll tell you where they stay, mister.  Leave me alone.  Please, don’t hit me again.”

“Write it down for me.  I want their address, phone numbers and directions how to get there.  I want to know where they work if they do work.  And like I said, you’d better be telling the truth.  Even if you call the police, I’ll find you.  You haven’t felt anything yet.” 

Sam took the page Luther wrote every detail he could think of and then threw Luther’s phone on the well-worn sofa.  He knew Lute would call them to warn them about a crazy man looking for them as soon as he left.  Then if he called the police, Sam had committed both assault and kidnapping.  The police would have a lead on his whereabouts quickly.  Caesar and this Zeke would be expecting him.  He forced a smile over the prospect of him being called a lunatic from Tennessee due to receive a healthy dose of Washington state justice.

“I see you have written some details here that look good enough.  Now, tell me about this thing called the Shroud,” Sam asked him.

“The Shroud is a small group, a small special group.”

“And what makes them so special?  Tell me.”

“Well, some of them will kill, you know, but they’re always supposed to do that in self-defense.”

“Self-defense against… who?  What do they do?”

“Anyone who comes at them when we’re together… you know, anyone who tries to hurt them or their friends… they are the ones who do some big things that really get attention you know.”

“No I don’t know… get attention how?” Sam asked even though he knew.  He wanted to see how much Luther would say.

“They’ll bust open a store, set tires and whatever on fire.  They are trained and paid to raise hell with the police.  They get arrested and are turned loose afterwards.”

“Yeah…?  And you’re one of them, aren’t you?”

Luther bowed his head.  He had already said too much.  He had already written too much.  He wanted Sam away from him and he wanted to make his calls quickly.  Sam figured he would contact the people he fingered as soon as he left.  It wouldn’t help much to destroy the phones he could see in the apartment.  It was too easy to communicate with any device—or to simply walk down the block to a pay phone. 

There was no right, sure way to keep Caesar and Zeke from receiving a warning in advance of his showing.  The only sure way would be to kill Luther.  He didn’t want to even think that way let alone actually carry through with a murder.  The idea was repulsive to him.  He couldn’t do anything about a call being made except to force Luther to come with him, a terrible idea that’s kidnapping.

That wouldn’t do.  He didn’t want to have to guard Luther while he carried on with his work.  No, I can’t take him with me.  Screw it, I’ll leave him alone.   He had doubts now as to what he would do about it when he faced Cheryl’s killer. 

Punching someone was one thing but killing is something far different.  He didn’t want to kill and although he thought he would kill those who murdered Cheryl if he had the chance, it was becoming clear to him that it wasn’t so easy.  His own conscience was more important to keep intact than exact justice toward one or a few creeps.  Would I be letting Cheryl down?  Would she be disappointed in me?  I’ve come all this way to do the right thing by her and I don’t want to…  Am I a coward?  Is it something I’m willing to spend the rest of my life in prison for?  After all, when everything is back to normal, they’ll come after me…  It’s not at all like I thought.  What if I make a mistake and kill the wrong one?  That would be unforgivable.  There must be another way.  Am I just a weak jerk like them?

He wouldn’t leave Seattle without a confrontation.  At least he would have that much for himself and Cheryl.  He went to the apartment where Caesar and Zeke were working to organize they’re part of the hit on Washington.  He knew Luther could have very well lied to him—and probably did.  For all he really knew, Lute was as involved in the stoning in Nashville as anyone.  These people would say anything.  That much he knew about them.  The address was within view.  He quickly parked, tucked the pistol in his waistband again for self-protection and walked the block toward the complex.

Inside the place where Shing Chen and Caesar were meeting.  Luther had indeed called them and told them that a maniac was looking for them and may be on the way over to their place.

“He’s close by, Caesar and will be at your place in a few minutes.”

“You’ve done good, Lute.  But how does he know where we are?  You told him where we are, didn’t you?”

There was silence on the other end of the line.  Luther thought fast and said, “no, of course not…  He knows though.  He told me where he was going.”

“What does he want?” Caesar asked.  He knew Lute lied to him and that he had told the man where he was.

“Something about his wife being killed in Nashville…  He thinks we did that.”

“I know nothing about such an incident.  Nashville?  We’re still in place there.  I have Cory, Jules and Katy over there.”

“I know.  I didn’t hear him say anything about them, Caesar, but be on guard.  He may be outside at this very moment.  I’m going to be ready for this ass-hat next time.  I’m loaded and waiting.”

“You sound different, Lute.  Are you all right?”

“I’m all right.  He hit me in the mouth a few times but I let him have as much as he gave!”

“Right… and you say he is coming here?”

“Yeah, he’s probably asking around to find you right now!”

“We’ll be ready,” Caesar said, hung up the receiver and turned toward Shing.

“Lute has to go, Shing.  Do you want to take care of it or should I?”

“I’ll take care of him.”

“Go do it now.  We can’t afford to have someone who knows what he knows about the Shroud to reveal us.  He’s weak and can’t be left alive.”

“What will you do about this person from Nashville?”

“I’m going to wait for him outside.  I’ll see him before he sees me,” he said and laughed.  “It shouldn’t be hard to know who he is.”

Sam had walked to within a few doors of the first floor apartment as two men came out of the right door.  He stopped and leaned against a car parked in front to watch them.  An oriental man got into a car and left in a hurry.  This is the Shroud.  Brave people, he thought.  One is running away in a hurry.  Luther has called them and they’re both leaving.  Then he noticed one taking up a seat nearby but not going any further.  Luckily neither had noticed him as he casually leaned on a car pretended to be waiting.

After Shing squealed his tires getting out of the park, Sam’s eyes met Caesar’s.  They both looked at each other for a while.  Caesar stood up, pulled the gun up and pointed it toward Sam.  Sam instinctively reacted by reaching for his.

“Who are you?” Caesar shouted.

“Who are you?” Sam answered just as the shot from Caesar’s pistol rang out.  Sam felt a punch in his stomach.  Before he knew anything else, Sam squeezed a shot aimed at the man’s profile and put one in the center of his chest.  Then he began shaking violently and dropped the weapon.  His grip was useless.  He sat down and was unable to stop his emotions cause tears for what he’d done. 

He didn’t know if he killed the man or not and he didn’t know if he was going to die—his hands were pressed against his stomach and full of blood.  The regret he felt for being there—this wrong place—far away from home was his only thought.  Someone in the complex heard the commotion and called the police.  A Police cruiser and an ambulance were on the way from within the University District.

Sam waited and held his stomach.  He didn’t know about Caesar and could not see him.  The second in command of the Shroud was not moving.  It was just another shooting—an unusual thing for day-time Seattle but not an unusual thing across America in her cities.  He watched as another figure which left the same address and disappeared well up the block.  Zeke was running fast.  The decision as to what to do for Cheryl was made for him in an instant of unrestrained violence.

Shing didn’t carry or use any kind of weapon other than a twelve inch sharp knife.  He went into Lute’s apartment with Rasim and before his target knew why he came—before he knew anything else in the world—the long steel blade was ripped across his throat with one deep cut.  Luther Giovanni was no more as the single cut by the expert hand of Rasim bled him out quickly while Shing had him distracted for his last few seconds.  He had no time to change his mind about stepping out as an activist willing to do anything.  His body would be found.  All that was left for the police to investigate was an apparently nearly decapitated, burnt, blackened corpse.  His computer and telephone would never be found. 

Nothing and no one was allowed to compromise their grand mission.  It was to come soon.  It would be hopefully many catastrophic events across this land of Satan.  The United States has never suffered before like it did on 9-11, but another day of justice for several cities this time and particularly Washington D.C. was to be visited, aided by numbers of useful idiots, fools and others the United States had never seen before.  

The fire that Shing started in Giovanni’s apartment after removing the equipment destroyed the paper records left behind and most of the building.  No one was reported to have been lost by the media except one, an unidentified person in the initial broadcasts. 

The officer assigned to hold a short press conference reported the investigation was ongoing and being performed because it was possible that the victim may have been the victim of a homicide.  She did a good job being evasive.  There was little to report.  The truth was that even with only charred remains it was obvious he’d been murdered.  The fire was started to cover up the real crime.  Zeke would disappear within days once more, this time from the population.

Lute and every bit of evidence were taken care of with twenty minutes of intense fire and heat. 

The forces of the radical left and committed anarchists were marshalling to attack Washington D.C.  Movement of some had already begun as vans, trucks and buses were beginning the journey from the west coast and from the Deep South eastward.  Soldier of Infinity returned from a day-long romp of drugs and sex, when he found an apartment taped off as a crime scene and being searched by police officers.  Someone hit us, he thought.  He quickly looked around and ran away from the scene.  I’m glad I wasn’t there!  We have to leave now and go take care of this Chance ass-hole.  Whoever did this will not stop the people from rising up! 

*

“Elijah, we have to leave now!  Something happened over at Caesar’s and we have to go do our job.  Are you ready?” said.

“Yeah,” the quiet one answered.

“Let’s do it and find Caesar and Shing afterwards.  I hope they’re all right and haven’t been hurt or locked up.  They would expect us to do our job.  Then we can get the money and go to Washington in my car.  What do you say?”

“Yeah, let’s go.  But I’m going with Zeke and Julie to Washington, Grayson.”

“Okay.  Are you sure?  We’ve been a good team, haven’t we?”

“We’re different.  You go your way and I’ll go mine.”

“I think I understand, Elijah.”

“That’s right you do.  I’m not saying any more about it.”

“Okay,” he said.  “Let’s go get that son of a bitch.  He’s been corrupting the minds of these high class ass-hole kids and now he’s going to get his reward.”  Grayson snickered and then laughed.

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