Chapter XIII In the Depths of the American Cradle (NATIONS)

I know Sam is back in Gallatin and safe.  He’s had a hard time of it and there’s nothing I can really say about the loss of his wife except that I’m sorry for his loss.  That does nothing for his heart or his mind.  I decide to see him and ask him to let me buy him and Anne dinner.  Susan and I pick them up and go to one of the few restaurants still open near Gallatin.  I hope to talk about happy things if we talk much at all.  I don’t want to bring up their loss.  I know they both must constantly dwell on their different home and it’s normal and understandable.  They don’t need to hear it from one of us.  It’ll be our first meeting since all the trouble began.

“I’m happy you’re back in town, Sam.  Susan and I have been worried about you.”

“Thank you, I’m glad to be home.  I appreciate you and Susan very much.”

“Well, it’s nothing.”

“I have to get used to cooking more now you know and this is a nice break,” he said and smiled.

“I know… you can come to our place anytime you know.  We mean it.”

“Thank you again.  How is everything at the church?  With all that’s happening, what is the Priest saying these days.  I haven’t been to Mass in a month.”

“We’re pretty much in prayer, Sam.  It’s more that we’re in mourning.  Not much is being said by anyone.  Everyone knows.  I listen to the music and sing the songs as best I can.  It’s what little I can do; I pray for an end to the violence.”

“You know there is a massive protest coming to Washington,” he said.

“Yeah, I’ve kept up with it on the net some.  But I’m spending less time there these days.  There’s nothing much but bad news.”

“Well I know we’re in the middle of a war and it’s not going to end until many people die.”

“I’m afraid you’re right.  What the hell has happened?  Have people gone crazy?”

“Mad for power.  Pure, madness has us all in its throws.  There’s no escape, no way out that’s good, nothing we can do but decide which side we’re on.”

“Yeah, and we know the answer, Sam.  God help us.”

Sam thought of Sara.  She is somewhere with those people.  I hope she’s all right.  She seems too smart to be there.

*

Herman aimed true and hesitated.  He could envision the man’s head explode in a red mist the instant his bullet struck him but lowered the rifle instead of squeezing the trigger.  The spirit of God was with him and he had to let it go to God.  Herman decided to leave it all to the police and stay away from interfering in a most ungodly way.  He knew there were some people still in and near his community that would torture his body and kill him for little or no reason as any pack of animals kill their enemies.  Though they were not animals, he knew some of them to be more dangerous.  The police would hopefully arrest them and put them away from Anna and Maria forever.  The Gonzales family was not the same as it was before and was forever changed.

He watched the man that would have been his last target coming toward homes in the Heights.  There was no mistake about his identity.  He knew the face.  He knew his gate and even the clothes he wore.  He knew he’d been one of them to take that day and was on the hunt for more in the smoldering district that had been ravaged just weeks before. 

This time though, he felt no compulsion to shoot.  He was empty.  He had to find some joy knowing that God would make his loss, right.  He was left with a vacuum though in this life except for his faith.  God’s word and His will were far more necessary and important then even a sense of accomplishing something good for his city—for the country.  Even though it made him feel sick in his stomach at first but that suddenly passed as the wonderful spirit of God—a peace and consolation—grew inside of him.  Now he felt no sense of doing the human right thing.  Maybe I’ve come to the end.  Still how am I to know?—and what right did I ever have to do these things?  None, Herman!  You would have no right and certainly would have disgraced the Gonzales name!  Would these men not kill me without a thought?  Yes, but knowing that is not witnessing for God.  

Los Angeles was nearly completely destroyed by the riots for blocks of downtown-east.  The city had the appearance of a war zone he had seen from the series on World War II in one of his efforts to learn about American history.  He was in the middle of an area that had seen battle but had begun to settle some, leaving smoke, charred ruins, and the few, occasional scavengers going through what was left.  Brick and mortar and even steel was left ripped apart, torn down, scattered and burnt from the heat caused by hate.  He wiped his brow and returned to his truck to leave quickly.

Politicians were calling for federal assistance from a safe distance and from a safe place where the constituents were not present.  Racism and poverty were words overused in the season for more human interactions than what was in any sense reasonable to most people listening to the speeches.  Many of the people affected didn’t hear any of the speeches and wouldn’t sit long enough anyway.  The riots were nothing more than opportunity.  There was sex, drugs and music after all that to most that were far more important things to do.  There were things to take.  Many fearful and unhappy residents were being used as tools and material though for unscrupulous politicians to call for more government spending and more control over land and people.  Rarely did the people who needed the help actually receive any funding.

“The American society can no longer tolerate the racism that caused this!” she began.  “People have been ignored long enough—from the complacency of doing the right things after Katrina to the state of south Los Angeles where neglect has caused this explosion and will cause more if something isn’t done!  Our people are being hunted down for the color of their skin!  We call on our President to use all available resources of the federal government to come to our aid!  Black lives matter!” 

The Congresswoman spoke from a podium in her congressional chambers to several cameras and microphones set up by networks and broadcast in Spanish and English.  Her district was divided between two populations.  She had been in the same place before and said the same things—for two decades.  Herman couldn’t get to her to attempt to ask her about past promises until she came to her district and she wouldn’t listen to him anyway. 

What am I thinking?  My God!  But she deserves it so! All her lies, all her racism and hate leading many people to ruin their lives and this… what we have now in our city?  Still, will not another just like her come along in her place?  Yes, sadly yes… and nothing will change!  There will still be king drugs and queen violence.  There will be more hate and greed on these streets—more rape and death!  No one is left here who gives a damn about being responsible and doing the right thing… no!  They only want to do the wrong things.  My caring about them is gone.  My heart nearly went cold!  My soul was nearly destroyed!  I am a man who is lost to what others created but it is still my fault!  As long as her lies gain her an office, the poor people who vote for her will never live a good life.            

He knew that if he allowed Satan to feed his vengeful heart he would be destroyed physically too.  It was a matter of time.  The day would come surely and his wife and daughter could lose more of him than they had already.  His cross was very nearly more than he could bare.  They would lose the rest of him.  There was no way out that he could see now—and only doing one thing may help him salvage his soul if it were still possible.  That was something he doubted regardless of being taught that when one truly repents he receives forgiveness.  He was sorry for planning to kill and going to the place to do it.  He was guilty of wanting to kill and guilty of hating others.

The priest was working out of a temporary building the church rented following the fire.  It would be months before the congregation could rebuild and the portion of a warehouse partitioned to accommodate two-hundred chairs became the new Saint Peter’s.  Father Templeton used one of the offices as his study.  A confessional was constructed by a couple of parishioners who had a supply of redwood planks and boards.  It was located in the office.  Guards had been hired by the firm who owned the property—one of the few untouched by the fires because the industrial park where it was located was several miles from downtown.  Herman called Anna and Maria and drove toward the warehouse slowly, under the speed limit, a most unusual thing in LA.

*

            Sam went downtown to find Sara and check on her welfare.  He wore clothes that he hoped would help him blend with the protestors—not a big challenge.  There were thousands milling in Nashville near and inside the courthouse.  Many were working to bring food to the groups and it was becoming difficult to find enough.  The masses had to use cold canned food and whatever could be scraped up and brought in from outlying communities—that could be driven part way and walked the rest.  Soon most of them would be leaving Nashville and expected better food on the way to Washington. 

He was only able to drive as far as the city limits which were several miles outside downtown.  The area was like the several other cities that were under a kind of siege—but from within.  The police and National Guard could secure the perimeter of the city but had not been able to dislodge the protest in a substantial way.  The Mayor wanted to make certain there was a minimum of injuries and deaths.  There were simply too many locked in place to move.  She felt better about the prospects once the protestors allowed firefighters and ambulance crews to come closer to their protest without being harassed and pelted with anything that could be picked up and thrown.  Soon many of them would be making the trip to Washington.  Those left behind waiting for concessions could be dealt with quickly and effectively.  She was confident that the control of the city would be reestablished in a very few days.

Sam had three miles to negotiate from where he had to park the Kia.  He set out toward the center of town, passing tired looking police officers and guardsmen along the way.  He saw some of them give him a second look as he stepped past their posts.  There hadn’t been very much more foot traffic for weeks in or out.  Following the initial explosion and riot—the day his Cheryl was taken from Anne and him—only a few people went back and forth and most of these had been reporters getting their stories.  Amazingly to Sam, he read several that were sympathetic to the protestors and failed to define Antifa for what it really is—who had done the damage and injured a number of police officers. 

I shouldn’t be surprised, he thought as he passed a street wet with oils and sticky residue.  It’s an easy thing for anyone who wants a job in journalism or other media to take the side of those generally regarded as the oppressed—he laughed.  Usually the oppressed define themselves as oppressed.  I wouldn’t.  They’re mostly a bunch of narcissistic, spoiled ‘near’ children—students and the chronically unemployed except for the lucky ones who were being paid to protest, riot, set fires, and hurt people.  He laughed and began to detect a very faint scent of something unusual.  He walked at a brisker pace once he reached some of the buildings downtown.  He was getting closer.

The courthouse was within sight and the odor was clear now—it was urine and human waste.  Sara was in the midst of this filth somewhere and living as bad as it comes in America.  He walked toward the steps and looked for her.  He sensed several sets of eyes on him as he passed them.  He didn’t stop to ask anyone until he had the full knowledge of what was happening and what these people were doing.

The streets and steps outside the courthouse and city hall were crowded with the unkempt and in Sam’s eye, self-made forlorn losers of society.  He noticed a number of them were not blessed with any sort of appearance that could be considered very attractive and mostly seemed to be student rejects with poor hygiene from the social scene on campus.  There were a few obese and Sam wondered how they were faring being away from their diet.  It seemed that so far their emotions trumped appetite.  He stepped around piles of refuse and tried to avoid several collections of spills of unknown substances and urine.  Many of their eyes followed him as he strolled passively through the crowd looking for Sara.  The collection of protestors didn’t seem that formidable—why the city has not moved them out to allow the businesses to resume their work is a mystery to me, he wondered.  Many had probably left for Washington D.C.  It seemed those who were still here were vulnerable and probably hungry. 

In most of their faces and behind the eyeglasses some of them wore, he saw the youth of the sixties reborn and restaged here and now.  As if history was repeating itself, before him was the numbers of people drawn to the attempt to stage another counterrevolution for their own vision of freedom and life—the ideas were clear in their faces.  They were the faces of leftist ideology, socialist ideals—for some it must be the surge toward a Communist utopia that kept them in place eating scraps.  They were oblivious to the real legacy of the collectivists Marx, Croly, Engels, and others was to result in millions dead and abject misery for its citizens except for those people in power.  Much done in the past for the “greater good” was evil.    

The odor was nearly overcoming but he pressed on.  He noticed several people sitting around a faded, cracked poster sign that had the ANSWER colors and words, “Workers of the World Unite for Justice and Peace.”  He walked straight to them to ask about Sara.  He pulled up the sweatshirt hooded top to cover his neatly groomed hair.  He determined to go to one after another until someone knew her and her whereabouts.

He saw black smoke rising from around the corner.  It was where a pile of trash and some of the contents from inside the State Courthouse and City offices had been torched.  Several other fires were kept hot at the same time nearby.

They used the fires to burn anything that came along, brought by one of the disaffected that should be burned.  Every time an American flag would be placed on the fire, there were responding cheers of glee and shouts of glory—as if it meant something akin to taking a little part of the establishment down in their midst.  Every time someone announced it was a bible, there were also cheers and shouts, though fewer in number. 

Every time pictures of any President or his administration were announced for the fire, there were cheers and shouts, “Take that Bourgeois!  Burn bitch!”  Sam heard some of the voice noise as he walked around the corner to see what they were doing that caused a fire.  Although the excitement level had undoubtedly dimmed for most, there were still some who appeared to be having a great time expressing themselves in whatever form they decided they wanted to while not under their parent’s or other control. 

Some were urinating in the open and unashamed as they moved around to soil the city.  Some were dancing to music being played out of sound systems provided to market by the capitalist system while most sat and watched.  Sam saw a couple engaged in sex behind thin shrubs that didn’t shield them much from anyone’s eyes.  He noticed some smoking joints and others lying under blankets passed out or napping.  There were plenty of empty or nearly empty liquor bottles strewn nearby and more trash in heaps at several places picked at random.

He noticed banners and signs of all kinds—from N.O.W. pro-abortion signs, Democratic Underground website signs, “Help the ACLU defend civil rights,” “Bring the troops home” banners of Antifa along with gay rights flags and various posters.  He thought every group he had ever disagreed with on at least one issue was there in force and advertising their organization and websites.  He felt dirty when he noticed one banner that had the words “desert now!” scrawled in tall and thick three foot letters meant to be a message to the troops.  All of it had a Marxist flavor disguised as interest group messages.  All of it enslaves the human being to group-think.

“Have you seen Sara?” he asked the small group.

“I don’t know her, man.”

No one else sitting before him said anything.  He left them and went to another small group nearer the steps of the courthouse.

“Can I ask any of you about where Sara might be?  She works for ANSWER.”

“She’s inside.  Just go to the second floor where we took over an office.”

“Thanks, man.”

“Can you spare some bills or change mister?  I don’t have the money to get back home,” one of the protestors asked Sam.

Sam handed him a few dollars.  The protestor who asked had the look of someone he knew, maybe at work at some time in the past, maybe at church—or the school where Anne attended.  Maybe he was a senior he had seen there.  He didn’t know.

He took the stairs inside city hall.  As he ascended he passed several people huddled in the landings between sections of stairs. Most of them seemed to be sleeping or nearly sleeping.  So many young people waiting for nothing, he thought. He entered the second floor landing and walked toward the collection of various offices where tax revenues were collected, the probate office, past council chambers and toward the Mayor’s office.  It was there he saw her sitting behind the file cabinets on an extra chair.  With her were some of the men and women who were local Antifa leaders he figured as there wore the black uniforms, each had a cell phone and they were using the fax machines in the office.  They also had several laptops set up and were using wireless access to the internet.  She noticed Sam and stood up to greet him.  She appeared to Sam to be very tired somewhat embarrassed.

“Hi, Sara I’m glad I found you.”

“Sam?  What are you doing here?”

“Who is it, Sara?” a voice shouted out in their direction.

“He’s a friend.  Don’t worry,” she shouted back.

“Sara, I wanted to make sure you’re okay.  How are you doing?” Sam asked.

“I’m fine, Sam, thank you,” she said.  “So, you’re back from Seattle.  It’s been a while.  How did it go?”

“I don’t know.  How long are you going to stay here?  It is pretty rough around here, isn’t it?”

“I’ll be leaving at midnight.”  She smiled a half smile.  “Frankly, I’m glad it’s coming to an end.  I’m so tired!”

“I bet you are.  So you don’t plan to go to Washington?  You can’t get much sleep around all of this.  I thought I would come and ask you if I can take you out of here and buy dinner—like we did before.”

“Yes, I’m going to D.C. after some rest.  What do you want from me?  What do you expect?”

“Oh, no, Sara, I don’t want anything from you—this is between friends.  You’re safe with me.”

“I know I am… but I can’t help you anymore with your wife.”

“I don’t want you to—that’s what I meant.  I don’t want anything from you like that at all.  Can you leave for a couple of hours?”

She looked down, conflicted, and appeared to be impatient.  He touched her shoulder.  Others in the room were looking away. 

“I understand if you can’t go with me now, but you’re a friend and I’m worried about you.”

“First I have to know something, Sam.”

“Sure what’s that?”

Outside a strong chorus of voices began to shout in unison.  “Take it back!  Take it all back!  America is ours!  America is ours!”

“Come with me,” she said as she took his hand to lead him to the hallway.  Once away from any others she asked, “We got the news about our brothers being killed in Seattle.  No one knows what happened out there and there is talk it was government agents who killed Lute and some guy called Caesar.  Were you involved?  I have to know if it was you.”

“I guess I was there, Sara but it couldn’t have been me… I didn’t know that Luther was killed.  I did meet with but left him alive, Sara!  You must believe me!  I was met outside their place by a man I didn’t know who began shooting at me.  I got out of there as fast as I could!  But I don’t know who he was or why it happened.”

“I see, and so you stroll in here to ask me for a date?” she said, a strong level of disgust clear in her tone.

“No, I don’t expect that—I just wanted to do something for you.”

“You want to do something for me?” she said as she turned toward the office.

“Please, Sara, I’m worried about you.”

“Leave me alone, Sam.  We have nothing to talk about.  Someone killed another human being on account of me.  Poor Lute.  I’m sick about it.  I should have never talked to you in the first place.  Please go and don’t come back.”

“It wasn’t anything like that, believe me.  I didn’t do it.  Sara…”

She stopped and wheeled around to face him.  “Why should I believe you?  Damn-it, Sam, you said you met him.”

“He was alive when I left him, Sara!  I swear he was fine.  I didn’t think he had anything to do with my wife’s murder.”

“It doesn’t make sense.  Nothing about you makes sense to me.  I thought you were a nice guy and all but then I hear you did this… you were in Seattle after all and we had people murdered there.  How do I know you’re not lying to me?”

“You don’t.  I can only tell you that I didn’t murder anyone and don’t know what happened in the apartment.”  He looked down.  He was losing a friend and afraid he would not be able to stop it.  She wouldn’t believe what he said and he understood that time and circumstances did appear to be too much for her.  He could hardly blame her because he was there and she knew he was there.  She must feel like I used the hell out of her.   “Sara, let me get you something to eat and I won’t bother you again.  I owe you far more than I can ever repay and just want you to…” he said and stopped.  She had stopped with her back to him but began to slowly turn.

“Very well, Sam, I’ll have dinner with you.  I have to admit, I would like to get out of here for a short while. I hope it’s not far.” 

“It’s as close as I could get that’s still open.  Let’s go.”

*

The Eagles began to pour into the city.  The bikers and others riding with them punched the air with an unmatched show of force with large sound.  They were serious adults riding past the many military guard stations in D.C. and police roadblocks.  The Eagles didn’t need or want their services.  They were more than capable on their own and would not be stopped from using the streets.  They would not be detained or dissuaded from their cause, their actions.  Every American riding with them had the right to move freely on the public streets.  The American flag was used and covered each person among the thousands as individual protests.  No one could stop the new—the very different—American militia.

The first place John drove was to the Viet-Nam Memorial.  Several hundred followed him as the rest made camp near the Potomac with nylon tents and bedrolls rather than canvas shelter halves.  It was music, coolers and propane stoves rather than campfires, fiddles and banjoes.  It was hot dogs, steaks and beer rather than hardtack and rum.  Later they would ride in waves to the memorial and other landmarks celebrating American Independence, freedom and Civil War heroes Lincoln and Grant and near the Capitol buildings and outside the White House.

As he approached the wall he noticed a number of people moving around at a distance and as he pulled closer he saw what they were doing and who they were.  He pulled onto the grass, hundreds of bikes following him to take up a position in front of the entire wall.  A group of protestors were about to do their obligatory ritual of flag burning—an act that no longer surprised anyone.  He then saw buckets of paint and thought about what he heard before—a number of hate-filled leftists were planning to desecrate the memorial.  His face turned blood red.  That wouldn’t happen this day, this hour.  Suddenly there were several bursts from within the crowd of protestors.  The sounds were not backfires as may be mistaken if John was further away.  Someone’s shooting at us!

“Get him!” John shouted and pointed toward the crowd from where the sound came from as he jumped off his bike and ran toward the source.  He didn’t have to think twice doing such a dangerous thing.  He knew other Eagles were with him to find the shooter before he could do anymore.  The first job was to find the leftist who fired a weapon and stop him.  At the same time other bikers were to find out if anyone had been hurt.

He watched the crowd in front of him turn to run away including the shooter, obviously a deranged member of whatever he could be—this time it was something called Code Pink that he swore allegiance, another iteration of Marxism.  John purposely brought his small caliber .38 pistol with him and hid it under his shirt.  It was a small, light weapon and easily concealed.  Most of the leftists protestors came to Washington unarmed thinking it would be another of their versions of a non-violent march along with a non-violent takeover of buildings much like they had accomplished in the cities. 

Shing and the rest of his crew didn’t care whether weapons were brought by others but his people would not be caught in D.C. with a weapon; the arrest would remove the soldier needed for their far more effective means to destroy and kill people who were unlucky enough to be in the way of the blasts.  They knew some of those Marxists in other groups would bring the weapon they had—and it was probably less firepower than rightists might bring.  Only his method would assure maximum damage and the story would dominate the media coverage. 

The Marxist side’s sheer numbers would be considered sufficient to carry the day by media talking heads and fight back any attempts to stop them.  That was the thinking of the biased press.  They knew groups like the Eagles would show but didn’t expect more than a few thousand—not enough to affect a chaotic outcome, an easy invasion from within.  They saw the flood of people who thought themselves as being liberal being so large that nothing could stop them.  More than one generation had been trained to rely on government to fix things for the underprivileged and their life and this was their chance to take more—an irresistible motivation.  The youth had been taught to hate their country for decades.

As they were chasing the group, John noticed several media people capturing the whole episode on film.  It was a story that would likely lead off the evening news as clips would undoubtedly be used to show the intolerance of some people toward others.  That’s what the media does to illuminate those who have a different philosophy than their “progressive” narrative.  He knew that in all probability the shots fired into the Eagles would be either casually mentioned or ignored completely.  Such as it was and is for most media.  The story that is always used is a concocted story of hate from the intolerant right toward the tolerant left.

They were the first shots fired leading the impending disaster in the Nation’s capital.  Viet-Nam was the backdrop—the era when the divide became great between people never to come together again.  A few short daytime hours and evenings after 9-11 was the closest the country came to healing the deep wounds but it didn’t last and an open sore soon oozed its pus again.  Lies have become the order of the day more from the left and less from the right side of the political spectrum.  As clearly immoral as blatant racism where hating one for the color of his birth is deeply held, the leftists hate all things decent, all things traditional and conservative as much.  Their hate includes the old fashioned, bourgeois notions of family where a man and woman are married and raising children.   

Many conservative people have come to dislike liberals (or progressives as many demand we call them) personally for their obvious lies as well as their desires for ever more government.  The left would have us vulnerable to enemies and weak.  It seems no one on the left knows what truth is any more.  No one reveals themselves if they do know but choose not to care about truth.  No one has been honest at every turn, in every conversation.  Hate though is one thing, the one common thing most leftists express for anyone conservative.  It’s hard to not dislike those who hate you. 

Sadly and tragically, there are a number of anti-government men willing to take their hate and put targets on those perceived to be stripping their liberties.  These people who, having lost much in their lives, lost their minds and souls and took to murder in their clandestine loosely organized groups.  They were being hunted now by the federal government and had little chance of surviving the wrong choices they made.  Assinations of political figures cannot be tolerated and must be stopped, I think.  I know these people set the cause of liberty back and are not helpful because most all Americans are repulsed at even the idea of killing by ambush.  Defending oneself from an attack is a different matter.           

Quickly John and others caught up with the slowest among the protestors and held them.  He noticed the man wearing the pink shirt that he thought to be the shooter was still running with a few others.  He gave chase and several Eagles followed him.  The size of the crowd of people slowed the runner and gave John the chance to catch up with him.

“There he is!” he shouted as he picked up the run again.  His training and conditioning regimen while in Army Airborne provided the advantage he needed as he quickly tackled him to the ground.  He stretched his body out and found the weapon on him.  He tossed the pistol near other Eagles so that one of them could unload it and hold it for the police.   

*

Caravans were arriving from across the country every few minutes.  The first hundreds of protestors grew to thousands and then tens of thousands.  Tomorrow the number would be near impossible to count and difficult to estimate.  Sara had dinner with Sam and explained she had to leave Nashville that night.

“We’re supposed to be on the bus before ten, Sam.”

“So it’s on to Washington?  There’s an awful lot of people going there.  It seems it may become very dangerous, Sara.”

“I guess it’s my fate,” she said and laughed.  “We have a chance—a real chance—to change the dynamics of life in these United States.”

“Change, yes change… I guess we must always change or die.  What will be accomplished?  What do you really think will happen?”  Sam asked her.

“I think we’ll have a government that finally listens to its people and responds to them—to us—and stops the waste and horror of war.”

“You’re aware the President has declared martial law and ordered an Army and a Marine Division and other military to Washington, aren’t you?”

“I’m aware of his attempts to protect his administration by using the Army.  So?  They won’t stop us—most of them are just like us, they happen to be wearing a uniform.  My brother served in the Coast Guard and right now, he’s already up there.”

“I don’t know, Sara.  I think maybe you’re being naïve.  They follow orders.  Remember Kent State.”

“I wouldn’t know about Kent State.  I wasn’t even born when it happened.”

“I think it’s going to be very dangerous and I wish you wouldn’t go.  That’s all I’ll say about that.”

“I have to be involved.  We all should do what we can do to cause change.  I know you see things differently but I think we must shift toward caring about the people in this country more than we have so far.  Women and children are suffering!  I’m going to do what I can in order to help.”

“That’s because you have a big heart and I admire that in you, Sara… it seems there are others, those few power brokers, who use people like you and try to use and force people like me too.  My side of things want to care for women and children too.  Please.”

“I’m not being used and I resent you saying that.  I know what I’m doing.  You’re not one to talk about being used.  You used me and some people somehow died.  Thank you for the meal.  I have to go.  Please take me back.”

“I will of course and I’m sorry, very sorry about what happened up there.  Whether you believe me or not, I didn’t do anything like you’ve heard.  Please be careful up there, Sara.  I don’t know what could happen.”

*

John wrestled the pistol out of his hand.  He took the spit the man quickly put on his face and didn’t react.  He was stone cold while dealing with the weapon.  The unintelligible ramblings the protestor was shouting didn’t affect John either.  He used a leather strap to bind his hands as he noticed troops moving in his direction.  Oh, Lord, here they come.  What am I going to do now?

It was a platoon from the 82nd Airborne dispatched to the site.  They were armed but had not loaded live rounds.  Their orders did not include rounds chambered in any weapon, yet, though they were brought into Washington with enough ammunition to be carefully prepared and guarded for battle.

“Was anyone hurt?” John asked.  “What do we have back there?”

“We have one who was hit in the shoulder, John,” a fellow rider, Joseph Smith of the Navy Shipyard in Philadelphia said.  He was a welder and worked on running seams along the steel of cruisers, destroyers, landing ships and aircraft carriers to make them strong and water tight.  Now he would miss some work because of the attempt on his life.

“Anyone else?” he said.  “My God, what the hell is happening?”

“I don’t think so, Chief.  I’ll go back and check.”

“Thanks, Joseph.  I’ll try to talk to those troopers coming over here.  Damn!  We got us some trouble.”

The first trooper to step up within arm reach of the protestor lying on his stomach tied and bound was a young Captain.  He was in full battle dress—a uniform John remembered well and respected with his every drop of blood.

“Captain…?”

“What have you got here, sir?  I heard shots fired.”

“Yes, sir, that’s right and this is the creep who shot at us.”

“Good job, sir.  You took quite a risk.”

“It’s worth it.  They were about to splash paint on the names.”

“I see.  I’m not surprised.  Go on about your business and we’ll take care of this.  Be careful, sir.  There are many people coming in and we want as few problems as possible.  We’ll probably meet again.  Our unit will be here for the duration.”

“Be careful yourself, Captain.  Obviously some of them are bringing weapons,” John said as he handed over the twenty-two pistol he took from the shooter, grip first.

“Thank you, sir.”

John called those together who had rode with him and asked them whether they should set up camp in the field across from the memorial. 

“They’ll be back if we don’t stay here, folks.  It’s too tempting for many of them as a place to get it out of their system some.  I know they’ll be back.”

“I think we should stay, John,” Piper Dave spoke up.  Everyone nodded in agreement.  They needed a camp anyway and it is better to camp in this hallowed place of symbolism and testimony of sacrifice on behalf of the country.  Each steel and chrome symbol was parked in a line.  The Eagles from Philly unloaded their kits to establish a civilian perimeter.  Piper Dave was David Davis, an attorney from Bucks County.

“See if Al and the southern group have come into the city yet, John.”

He keyed a short wave radio he outfitted his bike with and went across the airwaves hoping for an answer.  If he were close enough, Al should receive the signal and tell them where the thousands from Florida, Georgia and Alabama were on the road.  Another group was coming from Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana.  The western group was entering Maryland and hailed from as far away as California and all points between as riders joined the caravan when it passed through.  From the west, there were over one-hundred thousand bikers making their way to the capitol to fight the leftists if a fight is what they want.

“Brother Al—can you hear me?  Where are you?”

A crackling came over the small speaker.  John heard the voice of Al as if he was talking into a can.  “Hello, there John!” he said, John heard him laugh.  The man was in his element as much as John, felling best when he rides with his American brothers and sisters.

“How close are you to D.C., Al?”

“We’re coming into Virginia and headed you way!”

“Very good, Al… We’ve set up at the Viet-Nam Memorial, Al.  Hope to see you soon.  Be careful out there, man!  They’re coming in too.  We just stopped a shooter.”

“I read that, man.  Don’t worry about us.  We’re coming locked and loaded!  No one will stop us.”

John knew that man for man no one could beat them either.  He licked his lips and began to set up the tent he brought.  He took a space closest to the wall among the hundreds of camps.  He retrieved more power from his saddle bags; he brought his .45 automatic for self-defense.  It would be him and his .45 in the forward observer position.  The field quickly appeared to be like a Civil War camp only with low profile nylon tents rather than tall canvas houses held up with wooden poles.  Someone brought a sound system—and the radio—that was turned up maximum volume.  There was music and at times, local newscasts they could tune to track what was happening around them.

*

I’m going to Washington D.C. with Sam.  He decided to join the million people converging on either side of the political debate turned violent.  I know it’s my responsibility to do what I can to save the Republic.  Nothing good can happen and nothing bad can be prevented if one sits at home and waits for others to do the work.  Sam left Anne with Gaines who cannot make the trip no matter how sorely he wants to go.

We both packed a weapon with a modest amount of ammunition for self- defense.  Neither one of us are killers.  Where he was forced to deal with whether or not he could actually pull the trigger on another human being, I haven’t been tested yet.  I don’t want to learn whether I can shoot someone.  Given what we’re up against, my time may be coming and sadly I know that.  Sadly I’m traveling to the place I have to go—and it’s more likely I’ll be tested at something I have always avoided and never went looking for until now. 

This time I’m nervous.  I’m scared of what I might do to another human being.  There’s no question about it—my knees and arms are shaking for some reason.  If it’s not a symptom of being scared I don’t know what it is.  I don’t feel like talking much on the trip.  We’ll arrive in the city in about ten hours.  Ten hours of this is just the start of what I must be willing to give.  It is worth it and far more after all.  Many people have died for freedom.  A little time, a little effort, taking a stance in country is not very much to give at all.  Am I to let someone else do the job?  Do I not need to be on the front lines this time?  I’ve never had to before but others have.  I owe them all this much.  I’ll do my best.  What’s right is right.  What’s wrong is wrong.

*

Bill Rousch was put back onto the job.  Quietly and quickly, law enforcement in the Philadelphia area cleared the way for him to leave the city.  No official was given the reason.  They simply complied with the order from the CIA and allowed him to leave the city.  He left immediately for Quantico, Virginia where his orders was to report to Colonel Dickson. 

Dickson had formed a second squad of special operations personnel, a clean moniker for a group of men who could easily and accurately work as snipers if needed.  The men were dedicated to the mission given, regardless of the action required.  Their motivation was saving innocents from being murdered.  They were clear on cause and justification.  For some it was a just war.  For others it was simply just.

“Gentlemen, as you know we are at risk of being invaded in Washington.  We must protect every government building and the pentagon.  We will establish points in coordination with the police and military.  You are an extra guard force.  Your role will be to stop anyone approaching other people or facilities with weapons of any kind.  Our intelligence indicates they intend to take over government buildings including the Capitol.  We expect there are weapons involved as has been used in the cities.  Unlike the cities, we cannot let it happen here.”

Bill was posted on the roof of the pentagon.  It was he and a spotter on the southern edge of the roof armed with a .50 caliber sniper rifle.  The pair had been driven to location and once they passed the city limits they noticed a number of people already visiting the capitol city.  The pair would have to receive an authorization to shoot.  There were already many media people in D.C. anxious to capture as much on film as they could.  Most of them were particularly motivated to catch the government making mistakes.  This was an area that guaranteed viewership and even journalistic prizes.  Also for every government slice of corruption or malfeasance, one could expect changes in salary of tens of thousands of dollars—whether it was a struggling newspaper or a well-financed network. 

He laughed about the situation and those he considered to be doped out or plainly stupid loons who would attempt to take over the government of the United States.  This is some group of tourists.  I hope they decide it’s not smart to try anything stupid, really stupid, though I wouldn’t regret not having any of these idiots vote in the next election.  The fact he might receive an order to shoot didn’t bother him.  The fact he may not be allowed to shoot didn’t bother him either.

Dickson took up a command position in a temporary bunker constructed at the Whitehouse.  With him were several troops brought in from the Second Marine Division.  The bunker was built with sandbags, canvas, steel sides with bullet proof windows and lighting ran underground by the use of a mechanized ditch digger.  A sheltered set of walls protected the path to and from the west wing of the Whitehouse.  The President was cloistered for his protection, pacing, unable to think clearly. 

All he could see was the horror about to unfold of a magnitude he was unable to comprehend.  If the intelligence was accurate there were hundreds of thousands people—countrymen—coming to occupy the government—the first step in the first actual attempt of a coup d’état.  He left the media room, closed a door to the closest office he could quickly find, fell into a chair, threw his arms up to his face and cried.  Secret service agents rushed behind him and found the door locked.

“Mr. President?  Mr. President, please.”

“Stay where you are,” he said in one breath.  “Stay in place.  Do not enter this room.”

*

Sara Cummings, a genuine peaceful protestor for change, was on a bus with sixty others bound for the same place.  She was convinced the government must change but did not expect to encounter anything different than a massive but peaceful protest this time, unlike Nashville and the other cities.  Along the way they were able to find food and drink.  That fact caused most of the members of Antifa, ANSWER, ELF, BLM, and the new Black Panthers were unaffiliated on a regular basis but were related by being the same hearts and minds for Marxism.  The far left activists riding the buses to already feel some success.  Washington would be even better than Nashville and a lot more fun.  There were so many more targets. 

Sam saw the lights of D.C. and noticed the heavy traffic on the beltway.  It appeared to be stopped in the distance.  He knew there was little chance of getting to the Washington Monument area very soon where he planned to join up with the Eagles and others traced on the net that were from the south if he tried to take the beltway.  Not knowing the Washington area, he stopped the vehicle along the shoulder and retrieved a map.

*

Herman was at the warehouse.  He found Father Templeton and asked him to hear his confession.

“I have sinned, Father.  I have wanted to kill other human beings even though I have not murdered.  I’m sick in my heart and soul and don’t know what to do.”

“Jesus Christ will forgive you, my son.  We all have a God given human temper that we are charged by His word to control and given the grace to control it by the Holy Spirit.  It’s a cross most human beings bear and many are tempted in life to let temper direct our actions, but we must not.  We must wait for the Lord will set right everything in His time, His way, son.  We are all his children and if we come to him in sincere repentance, you will be forgiven of your sins.”

“Thank you, Father,” he began to cry tears and was choking a little at the wisdom of this Priest, his words touched him and were the words he needed at this moment of crisis.

“Tell me son because I know you to not be a killer at heart… what caused this to happen?”

“I went out for revenge, Father and found some who may have killed my son… came close to his life.  I had a rifle up and aimed at him.  They raped my daughter and wife, Father.  It’s terrible to know my son will never know life.  I shake when I think of what my daughter and wife was put through and can hardly bare it.  I also think of the families of those murdered will never recover.  I pray my daughter and wife can be well and put it behind them so they can have a good life but that is something… I don’t know…”  His sobs between his words could be heard.

“You know it as sin in which we all swim constantly through our thoughts and deeds, but the want of murder takes one to the darkest and near damnable kind of transgression on this earth, my son.  I cannot tell you that anything you did for earthly vengeance is justified in His eyes, but we’re assured He forgives you.  You remember the blessed word where He makes it clear vengeance is His province and not to be yours on earth.  Please keep this truth in front of your eyes.  You know that true justice shall be met in the judgment of each of us.  Our life must be an effort in humility, peace, and with loving, sincere supplication.”

“I know Father and yet I still did what I was driven to do.  I came close to trying to kill four men, Father and much of it was because of their race.  I feel like I have let my family down, forgot Jesus Christ and the church and wanted to end this time of agony I suffer over my son, daughter, and wife.  I wanted to kill them as much as I needed to breathe dear Father. Please pray for me to Jesus that He forgives me.”  He said even though he had trouble forming the words through crying from a deep place.

“His forgiveness is promised, my son.  You must go to the police my son and tell them what happened in your home.  It is your burden but vengeance is not your right.  Let the justice system deal with them and put them away so they’ll not hurt another person.  I can tell you that if you do that and say a rosary for your penitence, God will hear you.  Have no fear that all will be right in your heart.  He has already forgiven you.  Let it be a new day for you, son.”

“Thank you, Father.  I’ll do that.”

“I’ll pray for your son, to be next to our heavenly Father.  I’ll pray for Anna and Maria too that they find peace and healing.  Your family shall always have a home here for whatever you all might need.  Do not worry for He will provide for them, my son.  Now go in peace and sin no more.”

“Thank you, Father.”

He had to see Anna and Maria before going to the police station.  He felt that his parents would have to know how close he came to the pit of no return.  On the way, he saw them and they were crushed at first how close he came to losing them.  They were mourning his son with him.  They knelt down on the floor and closed their hands.  They prayed together for peace, justice, and forgiveness.   

*

John and the Eagles waited.  Bill and his spotter waited.  Colonel Dickson watched the crowd growing outside the security zone of the Whitehouse.  They all saw crowds beginning to form at a distance away from them.  When their numbers were large enough, someone would start it out of the crowd.  People may start coming toward them with weapons and would have to be stopped.

There had to be some consideration for the number of troops guarding each area.  It was the best chance for a better outcome.  Surely the protestors would stop, once they see the troops, Dickson thought.

Shing Chen and Rasim waited.  One was in gleeful anticipation of defeating China’s only threat in the world.  One was hopeful in defeating the great Satan so that Islam will be well on the path to world domination.  He knew that after America was Islamic, China would be the next great enemy of Islam to take down, Shing would no longer be needed.  The twelfth Imam was waiting to appear.

Thick black clouds, rain, hail and lightning strikes came quickly.  Washington D.C. was dark in the deluge.  Sara’s bus finally left the beltway and entered the plaza where they joined over a hundred thousand already there.  People tried to find shelter in tents, under ponchos and edges of trees as best they could.  One location was struck by lightning and several were killed outright with others grievously burned.  The carnage had begun early. 

The order was to shut them all down, both sides and direct them to leave.  Staff level and junior officers were provided the script to read as often as each needed to each group.  They went out well guarded to use bullhorns.  They were expected to disperse the crowds out of the city.  Police were staged to run streets and highways without a stop to flow every vehicle out of the district.  No one began to leave.

They were given one hour to load up and leave not expecting compliance.  Arrests would begin at that mark.  A temporary facility was ready to house those arrested under guard with orders to not use their weapons unless their lives were clearly in danger.  Ammo boxes sat nearby each platoon of troops but every weapon remained unloaded.  The mark was now thirty minutes away.

From the nearly five hundred-thousand leftists in place with more trying to find their way, one shot could start it all.  There may be more than one shot fired on the police and troops, treason in earnest, sedition for real.  From the several hundred thousand patriots of yesterday gathered, shots may ring out in return causing the battle that brewed and slowly boiled hot between the sides over ideology for years.  Victory for hate was imminent.  A single sharp noise may give hate the win as the most destructive emotion in human beings would rise from the depths again.

Their staff had been busy setting up the podium and equipment needed for their employers to present themselves to the media.  The crowd was secondary—merely a stage—for their use of the media promised to help them all stay in power and even gain more.  Reports of the size of their audience in an event bound to capture every media outlet for days and even weeks excited each of them.  Never had they had such an opportunity to create this much support for themselves.  The results are bound to cause an upheaval.  The President would not dare to veto legislation of their choosing.

It was time for the liberals to get a vote to end the war, introduce higher tax bills, finally putting in place a socialized medicine system to cover everyone with any complaint, adequately funding the Green New Deal, and reduce defense appropriations to use those funds in friendly districts rather than defense hubs of conservatives.  The thinking was also to strip away Presidential authority to commit troops for any war and then appropriate foreign aid to enemy nations to buy the peace.  En masse, the left wanted a commitment to even larger funding of the UN.  It was certainly an obvious requirement of Imperialist and wealthy America to the third world that had been grossly exploited.  Liberal members would have it all—everything—each should be able to get what he or she feels is needed to favor their voting blocks. 

Tit for tat…  Money for votes…  Things for votes…  To hell with the country…  Freedom isn’t all that it is credited with being.  Freedom isn’t necessarily the best way.  It is not the great human condition it’s presented as being after all.  Most people don’t know what to do with it and we can fill in the answer for them and tend to their basic needs.  A larger government means more control and with more control comes fewer disputes—a secure existence for liberals, Socialists, Marxists, and a very comfortable living for the leaders.  It was the office and power first, Nation and freedom were unimportant.  One shot was very likely to either deliver this promise or ruin the chance.  No one could be sure.

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