Tag Archives: job loss

Chapter 29 -Belt Fed Revolution

I fell deeply asleep. I guess it worked out for me since I didn’t have to be blindfolded to get to the camp. I woke when Starke was giving the command to dismount.

I stepped out of the APC expecting something resembling an abandoned Army base. Instead I was greeted by trees bordering a parking lot. Still a bit sleepy I muttered “Wal-Mart?”

“Feds know where all our bases are. Also, they’re using them. Figured it’d be best to go some place to hole up where we wouldn’t get shot.” Starke was grinning as he handed me a rucksack filled with the spoils of our battle. I nodded dumbly and shouldered the ruck.

Guererra walked by me and spoke just loud enough for me to hear “Welcome to FOB Assrape.”

At my look he chuckled “You want to keep an eye on your six, otherwise you’re going to get volunteered for something . . . unpleasant.”

“Thanks for the warning.”

Guererra and Patrell shared a laugh and set to unloading the APC. Starke walked over and pointed at a CONEX box still attached to a semi-tractor. “Command.” he moved his finger slightly to indicate another CONEX container surrounded by armed guards “Supply.”

There were groups of civilians milling around aimlessly near  the boxes. Starke jerked his chin toward the group “That’s the Third Michigan Regulars. Civilians that found us and were conscripted.” Starke eyed them with obvious distrust. “They’d join the Feds in a heartbeat if the Feds could feed them three squares a day and keep them warm and dry.”

I nodded but kept my mouth shut. I didn’t come here to join some sad sack cannon fodder unit. I had just about made up my mind to thank Starke and his crew for the ride and see about getting further down the road when Guererra looked over my shoulder and announced “Command on the prowl.”

I hadn’t been in the military long, but I knew enough not to look where Guererra had indicated. As it turned out that was unnecessary. Their commander, a soft looking Major made a beeline for Starke, causing all the men in the crew to snap to attention.

“Sergeant! Did you intend to report in sometime today or were you just going to hang out with your new friend here?” Dwyer tossed a brief disinterested look my way.

Starke snapped off a salute “Sir. We just returned and were unloading our cargo, sir.”

The Major looked Starke over and glanced at the now mostly empty APC. “Very well, Sergeant. The instant you’re finished here, you come find me. Have one of your men get your friend here settled.”

With that the Major strode off.   “Nice to meet you, too.” I said to his retreating form.

“Don’t sweat it, Finn. He spent most of his career behind a desk until just recently; he means well.  And he’s committed to the cause. He’s just trying to get used to being in the field and in combat.” Starke stared off at the Wal-Mart for a second “I’d probably be as headfucked as him if I had to do his job.”

Starke had O’ Toole introduce me to the civilian component of the camp. At first I wondered if I’d done something to piss Starke off, but it occurred to me that he chose O’ Toole because he was a civilian too.

Discrimination was alive and well here. Military and civvies kept their distance and seemed to have set up their temporary camps as far away from each other as possible. I noted some women who appeared to be unattached had strung their camps out closer toward the military side.

O’ Toole wasn’t talking much which suited me fine. “Driscoll!” A man with a mustache out of the Civil War looked up our approach.  When we got closer than shouting distance O’ Toole made a hasty introduction “Driscoll this is Sigurdsson. Show him around and keep him out of trouble.”

Driscoll extended his hand “Jim Driscoll.”

“I’m Finn. Good to meet you.”

“So I take it you’re not military since O’ Toole brought you to us.Civilians don’t normally get to ride with the Mikes. Where’d you come from anyway?”

I didn’t really feel like rehashing John’s death and the fight with the Feds, so I kept it vague. “You said Mikes. What’s that about?”

Driscoll grinned “Kind of a poke at the military guys with all their alphabet soup chatter. They’re not that bad really.  Dwyer just keeps ’em busy.”

“Dwyer? That the Major in command of this…camp?” I chose my words carefully because hobo love palace  while seeming appropriate might cause some upset.

“Yeah. He’s just such a joy, too, let me tell ya.” Driscoll rolled his eyes. “Dwyer has been in charge since I came here two months ago. He was the one that instituted the no fraternization rule for the Mikes. Got to keep them,”  Driscoll paused for effect “pure.”

I was sure there was some kind of message there but I wasn’t going to waste time figuring it out. I’d spent time in enough hostile environments personally and professionally to know when the soup was going to reach a boil. I did have questions though and since Driscoll seemed ready to talk I hung around.

“Two months you’ve been here? The Feds haven’t found you?”

Driscoll shook his head. “They’re busy with the remnants of the civilian militias. Those guys had more firepower than the government knew. At least until the MVDF came along.” Driscoll began slowly drifting toward the supply CONEX box and I followed. “There’s a militia camp north of here,militia mind, not connected with the Mikes. They’ve been pounding the Feds with mostly captured equipment and they keep moving around.” Driscoll smiled “The Mikes here have been trying to establish contact with them, but those guys think any form of government they didn’t personally approve is not to be trusted.”

  The supply area had a smell about it. People say you can smell fear or desperation. I didn’t smell anything but people living rough, eating the same food and living in cramped conditions. If anything the smell was that of the comforts of the old world falling away. Humanity returning to what it was meant to be. That and coffee. The smell of coffee coming from the supply area was so pungent it was making my mouth water.

Driscoll stepped carefully by the Mikes assembled here and made his way to the front of the supply line. The supply clerk was a young woman with blonde hair that looked like it hadn’t been washed in a month. Driscoll pointed to me “New guy here, Cheryl.”

Cheryl was busy writing and didn’t give me more than a cursory glance. “Identification please” she said this as she turned to grab a styrofoam cup and fill it with coffee. She pushed the coffee toward me across the desk and continued writing distractedly. I patted down my pockets. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had my license or been asked to show it.

I stuck my hands in pockets containing rounds for the revolvers until I came across a small familiar rectangle. I drew out my battered wallet and withdrew my license handing it to Cheryl. She glanced at the identification for a moment and then looked up at me.

“Velkommen.Snakker du Engelsk?”

I blinked. “Yes. Quite well, too, from what I’m told. Mange takk.”

Cheryl smiled. “Sorry. It’s not everyday you see a name like Finn…”

I cut her off before she could say my entire first name. “Understood. I still have a lot of family in Norway, but my branch has been here since the 1600’s.” I searched my bank of expressions for ‘smile, non threatening’ and think I came up with the appropriate one since she didn’t immediately recoil. “As best I know, the last Sigurd in my family was busy setting England on fire in the eighth and ninth centuries.”

Cheryl handed me back my license. I made a note to throw it away. Even if the government–some government–managed to restore order, I wasn’t going to be participating.

I offered my thanks and took the cup of coffee Cheryl had poured. She gave me a half-smile. “Sorry, it’s one cup per person per day. You’re new so you’re entitled to two. Try and make it last.” 

I stopped mid gulp. “Thanks for the heads up.”

She smiled and wrote something down on a piece of paper and handed it to me. “I’m off-duty in a while. This is your camp identification. If you need something, bring it back here and give that number to whoever’s on duty and if they can help you they will.”

 I didn’t mean to hang around here longer than was necessary. I reached for the piece of paper, but Cheryl held onto it smiling at me “you know, in case you want to get some clothes or something.”

She let go of the paper and I looked down at my ghillie suit. John’s dried blood covered a large portion of the front and I probably had some on the back as well. I folded the paper and stuck it in my pocket. I thanked her and wandered off to check out the command area.

I was greeted by an officious young man with dark skin and a bad case of razor burn. He shoved a clipboard into my chest “Name and service number?”

I stared at him. “You want my serial number?”

He shook his head “Service number. You’ve been issued a service number haven’t you?”  He looked at me “Oh, sorry…you’re old military. Yes, serial number then. We’ll get you converted to a service number later.”

I realized that with my ghillie suit, new ruck and rifle slung over my back the kid likely took me for a current service member. I reeled off my name and serial number to him.

He looked at me then “You’re new right? MOS?”

“0300.”

He stared at me for a minute longer “Marines? 0300 is…”

“Infantry.” I supplied

He nodded and shoved the clipboard deeper into my sternum. “Sign and date. See Tech Sergeant Ruiz for assignment to quarters.”

I laughed inside and wandered up the steps into the CONEX box like I belonged there. I intended to look around and see if this snowball was going to survive the microwave, but apparently Ruiz had been watching.

He strode over and gave me a curious look  “salute or shake?”

“Uh, shake.” I said and extended my hand.

“Welcome aboard.” he shook my hand and continued ” I have some forms for you over here.”

I had to laugh “Of course you do.”

Ruiz sat down behind a small laptop with a sigh “okay let’s get the basics. Name, rank, service number.”

“Sigurdsson, E-3.” I hesitated at the service number thing having just gone through this. “I haven’t been assigned a service number, but I have my serial?”

Ruiz eyed me up and down “E-3? who’d you piss off?”

I stood there silently unsure how to respond. Ruiz smiled at me, “You look a little old to be enlisted still.” he continued “Okay, so E-3, MOS?” I sighed having a bit of a flashback to days gone by.

Ruiz stopped typing briefly when I told him my MOS and stared at his monitor”Oh, lance corporal . Sorry, Marine. We got people from every branch here.” Ruiz wrote something down on a piece of paper and handed it to me. “Take this to supply, they’ll get you outfitted.” He looked at my cobbled together gear “They catch you on leave or something?” I was about to respond with a witty go fuck yourself but he just shook his head “Anyway, go get geared up. Supply will give you your BDU’s and whatever else you need. Get cleaned up and report back to Major Dwyer when you’re finished.”

I meant to be down the road, but the idea of new gear and a shower was appealing so I headed back to supply. Cheryl was still behind the little desk inside the CONEX box. She smiled at my approach ‘Velkommen, Finn.”

I smiled and handed her the slip of paper Tsgt Ruiz had given me. She stared at it blankly for a minute.

“Sorry, I didn’t realize you were military. Why didn’t you say something?” She looked at me with new eyes “Beards aren’t regulation. The Major may want you to shave.” she grabbed two sets of BDU’s and a shaving kit no doubt courtesy of the Wal-Mart. She looked at my rifle next and paused thoughtfully. “We’re short on full auto’s, but we may have ammo for that. What is it?”

“.243”  I said hopefully.

She blew air out in a silent whistle “Let me check.” She left the desk and was gone for several moments before returning with several boxes of ammuntion for me. “Sorry, it’s just Remington white box. We don’t have much in the way of surplus ammo even for standard calibers.” I noted one of the boxes was labeled .357 JHP.

She smiled when she saw my look  “My dad has the same gun. And .357 rounds are something we have a bit of; if you were carrying a 9mm or a .45 you’d be just about S.O.L.”

I gathered the things she had set out for me and asked her to point me in the direction of the showers.

She pointed at the Wal-Mart building proper. “The building still has power, but the lights are off. You have a flashlight?”

I told her no and she handed me a flashlight with a giant piece of wood taped to it. “Sorry, flashlights are getting scarce. You’ll have to turn this in after you get cleaned up.” I nodded and took the flashlight, looking for a place to secure it. “There’s a laundry facility inside, too.” She wrinkled her nose slightly “you may want to get that washed” she said indicating my ghillie suit.

I thanked her and made my way toward the building.

I decided to drop off my ghillie suit before hitting the showers. I handed it to a woman there, a civilian apparently, and thanked her. I hoped the stitching would hold.

I turned on the flashlight and entered the building. Another civilain, this time male, was waiting just inside. “Showers?” I asked and he pointed wordlessly to an employee locker room. “Can I take my gear in there?’

He nodded “Stick it in a locker, just don’t shut it. Otherwise we have to cut it open.”

Upon entering the locker room the smell of mold hit me. I shined the flashlight on a row of lockers and shoved my ruck into the first unoccupied one I saw. I didn’t have to worry about closing the door, as the locker barely contained the near empty ruck as it was.

I stripped down and shoved all my clothes into the locker as well. Standing naked in the locker room in the dark I let out a long sigh. I was ready to find a bed and crawl into it for a year or so.

I shined the flashlight toward the emergency shower stall and stepped in. As the water hit me I could see it was discolored when it reached the shower floor.

“Goodbye, John.” I said and hung my head to let the water wash over me.

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Chapter 14 -Belt Fed Revolution

I left John and his friends to bury their dead while I looked after my injuries in the cab of his truck. I hadn’t taken any significant damage a few cuts and scrapes mostly, but  my knee was swollen to about grapefruit size.

I jerked awake with a curse sometime later when John opened his door. I barely knew these people and here I was asleep. Great situational awareness, I chided myself silently.

John pulled shut the door with a deep sigh. “Well this rig has had it. Looks like we’re gonna be walking back. You up to it?”

I shook my head and told him “Not even close.” He grinned at that.

I got out onto the road as gingerly as possible. My knee wasn’t hurting enough to slow my walking anymore than it normally did. John and I took point while the others dragged along behind moving at their best speed.

“So. Want to tell me what that was all about?” I kept scanning the roadside for late arrivals to the dance.

“We’re all owner-operators for the most part” he began. “We own our rigs and contract to haul loads. The burned out truck belonged to a friend . . . Jenni.”

I nodded “And?”

He stopped and turned toward me. “And nothing. She was a friend. She didn’t deserve that!” He stood staring me directly in the eye. Brave man. “Look, whatever you were doing you apparently weren’t getting the news. You know how much diesel costs? Did you know we have been running in convoys for a couple of years to avoid shit like this?!” He struggled a bit and lowered his voice “Jenni an’ me an’ a couple the others have been running together most of that time when we could.”

He told me the rest of the story. Jenni had been at the truck stop along with him and the rest of his group for quite a while, waiting for a contract. Most companies realized the potential for hijackings and had done their best to make sure several rigs went out together to ensure security. This last run, Jenni’s contract had been the only one on offer and knowing the risks she decided to take it as it brought her close enough to home that she could deliver her load and get herself gone.

“Well that explains the weaponry.” I was still carrying the rifle I had used, a .338 Lapua Magnum, at the end of the fight. I’d given the AR to John for him to deal with. I wanted nothing from the dead.

“You don’t know the half of it” he spat the words out as though they came with a sour taste “for a while it wasn’t too bad; we had police coverage. Escorts sometimes too.”

I had to concede I didn’t spend much time on the highways since my Jeep wasn’t really cut out for it. John continued “Yeah, you and most people. At first it seemed to be random, but then it became clear. Trucks hauling food were targeted most often. Sometimes the drivers lived, but not often. Most people think Detroit is a ghost town, but that’s not entirely true. It’s a war zone.”

John told me that for a while Detroit and Flint were delivery zones that only the bravest would attempt. Lansing and Saginaw were  just as bad but truckers could usually count on escorts into and out of the cities.

“For a while we had drones running piggyback to our convoys.  I was in line with a bunch of other trucks once running up I-75 when out of nowhere there was just this big fireball up ahead of us. No one knew what was going on, but when we got to it, there was a bunch of smoking wrecks. Cars and people.”

I  prompted him occasionally with a nod or grunt. “National Guard had to come out that time to clear the road.” He laughed angrily and shook his head “Last time I delivered to Lansing it was a real convoy. Had two Hummers up front and one at the rear to take us in. After we made our deliveries a bunch of the locals swarmed the Hummers and opened fire on the police that had blocked off streets for us. A real belt-fed revolution right there.”

As we walked I got the low down on everything that had been happening–or at least reported–around the country. Truckers were switching to some highly modified cb’s and running communications in a way that would have made the military jealous. From what I heard, Michigan wasn’t even the worst of it, we had just managed to keep a better lid on it than other states.

John agreed “Most people wrote Michigan off as a loss when ‘Government Motors’ went tits up the second time. Can’t blame ’em for that. If I didn’t own a house and business here I’d have gone to Canada. Hell, if I can get a ride that way I still just might!”

I asked John if he knew anything about Sleepy Hollow and he laughed. “The words ‘smoking crater’ mean anything to you?” he paused a moment to wipe the sweat from his eyes. “Some of the militia types decided that if the government couldn’t handle things they could.” 

We decided to take a break and let the rest of the group catch up. John offered me a bottle of water and I drank it gratefully. “From what I got, two different militia groups pretty big ones, too, tried to take Lansing. Unlike the military though these guys didn’t have any worries about opening up on civilians.” I knew the type: the ‘destroy it to save it’ mentality was a dangerous road to travel and even if you succeeded you lost.

“Anyways, the government didn’t like people poaching on its territory and they fer sure didn’t like the idea of armed citizens ruling anything. The feds sent in regular army troops to handle it. Real experienced types you see. Guys that had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and even some private contractor types that worked in Liberia and other fun vacation destinations.” The group shared a laugh at this. We were a Third World nation now, a ‘fun vacation destination’ as John had so aptly stated.

“Problem was though, these guys were used to fighting foreigners who had some training. The militias didn’t play by the same rules. Even worse they didn’t adapt quickly.” John pointed to one of the other truckers “Bill here, he saw it up close, right?” Bill nodded and took up the story “I lived in Laingsburg, aways from the park yer talking about. I was out with the wife and stepson looking to do some fishing there and suddenly it was like we walked onto a movie set. A bunch of pickups with guys in the back went flying past us. They’us all painted up military style, but they didn’t look military, y’know? Some of ’em was too fat and their guns was different. Old looking things, y’know?”

“Military surplus?” I offered.

Bill nodded his head vigorously “Yep. And huntin’ rifles too! Lot’s of those little things” he pointed at the AR pistol John had “but a lot more looked like somethin’ you’d get from Wally-World.” he laughed at his witty remark “anyways, they’us about 5 trucks filled with these boys and they was tearin’ ass headin’ to the park. I never heard anything like it before. With all the noise I almost didn’t hear the chopper come by, but no mistakin’ the sound of that gun; like a bunch a pissed off hornets!”

‘We pulled off the road and waited for a few and then Char–my wife– told me to get us home. And believe me brother I stepped on it!” He took a breath here, a look somewhere between sadness and confusion on his face “I kept one eye on the road and on the rear view when I saw it. Them boys had somethin’ more’n guns. That chopper got lit up like the Fourth-of-July!’ Bill must’ve lived down south for a while as he pronounced it ‘Joo-lie’. “Well me’n, Char an’ her boy made it back to the house okay and it couldn’ta been more’n 5 minutes before I saw this fireball. Had ta been a couple hunnert feet high, come from over by the park.” He imitated the explosion with his hands and the appropriate noises. “Then for the next hour’r so we could hear gunfire. That went on for a coupla days before it was over. Don’t know for sure who won.”

We started back again for the truck stop. I heard from all the drivers the various stories they had, either seen or heard over the CB.

America was done. We were just putting up a good front hiding it from the rest of the world.

Chapter 9 -Belt Fed Revolution

Turns out Mr Fucknut was called Arthur. Emergency services seemed to have all gone out for a smoke break today. When a dispatcher finally stubbed out her last butt and returned to the phones, the fire department was sent to extinguish the remains of Arthur’s house. 

It took the fire department a while to get things sorted, but as they were winding up I managed to single out a likely looking gent so that I might gather some information. He stood watching the fire while having a smoke of his own. I made eye contact with him as I approached. His cigarette stopped halfway to his mouth before he nodded an acknowledgment of my presence.

I plastered my best “I mean you no harm” smile on my face as I approached Mr Smokey. “Hey there,” I searched my memory for a proper form of address for a firefighter and couldn’t find one “buddy.” 

 Mr Smokey matched my eloquence “Heya.” Pleasantries concluded I launched into the matter at hand.

“So what’s happening out there? There a big accident or something?”

“What? Accident where?”

I gestured to indicate the planet in general “I dunno. Out there. I’ve called 911 twice today and this is the first time I got any response.”

“Don’t read the paper much, do ya?” he said, lighting up another cigarette “local P.D. took a 60% budget cut. They’re down to 4 full-time officers and County ain’t much better. You need the police, you best hope the staties are close by.”

I chewed on that for a moment. As I was thinking about it, I noticed one of the firefighters slinging what looked like a M1 carbine over his shoulder. I looked at Mr Smokey and caught what appeared to be a .45 in a retention holster on his belt.

“What’s with the guns?”

Mr Smokey cocked his firefighter’s helmet back and looked at me under one raised brow. It was clear I was a simpleton and seeing this he took pity on me.

“No cops.” he hooked a thumb over his shoulder at the company packing up the truck “This here is all volunteers. We got homes here. Don’t want to see the town burned to cinders, so we gotta protect ourselves and each other.”

I thanked Mr Smokey for his efforts and wished him luck. I went back into the house desperate to find out what the situation was locally. I’d been so focused on the world falling apart I had somehow missed the fact that my neighborhood was in the same dire straights.

Over the next two weeks several more houses on my street belonging to soon to be foreclosed upon people mysteriously caught fire. The fire department didn’t show up for any of those. I was a bit perplexed by these people burning down their houses. It’s not like the sheriff was showing up to put them out all crying children and piles of clothes on the lawn.

I had to admit though, I was ok with my neighbors burning down their houses. I’m pretty sure it was increasing my property value to be one of the few houses left on the street. As it stood there were only four families left on my little tree-lined avenue. Naturally one of  the remaining families had to be the dopers that bought a house while the neighborhood was struggling to hold on to its lower middle class position.

With the exception of the dopers the street was pretty quiet. Before the budget cuts were enacted, I used to have to call the police at least once a week when they began putting on their own version of the Jerry Springer show out in the street. It’s not that I gave a shit about them beating on each other mind you, but they made it hard for me to sleep. People that say pot heads are mellow and don’t bother anybody? Those people are what I like to call full of shit.

 The owner of the house was actually an all-right kind of guy, though a bit of a hard luck case. Shortly after he bought his house, his wife died and he fell into a bottle. This lead to his son pretty much running free and his later involvement with some local narcotics enthusiasts.

 I was informed of all this by the two old biddies up the street, who thought I could do something about it since I was ‘the man from the state’. Somehow my little plastic ID badge with its state seal made me –by default– the neighborhood authority.

As the neighborhood authority I did my best to ignore everyone and try to live my own life. It had been over a month since I had lost my job and it didn’t look as though I was going to find a replacement soon. I took up old habits and did whatever odd jobs I could find to supplement my unemployment.

Unfortunately my unemployment wasn’t enough to cover the huge jump in my mortgage. This being the case I had to make a hard decision. I had signed a contract that said I would pay back the loan for my house and now I couldn’t. I had given my word and now I had to break it.

I called the Bank of the United States people and told them what the situation was. They were as helpful as the could be, but realistically since it was looking less and less likely I was going to find a job, I couldn’t honestly take them up on the offer to refinance.

 I was willing to overlook the fact that the bankers were as much to blame for this mess as I was for being unable to live up to my word. I made a deal with the bank to surrender my house. To be fair, the bank didn’t really want my house, but they were bound by the same contract I was. 

Over the next couple of weeks I sold off everything I could to the rosy-cheeked optimists from Craigslist. I also had a meeting with one of the BotUS people to arrange the date I would leave the house. I was given 6 months during which, if I managed to find a job they would cease the foreclosure and we could work out a new deal.

***

I spent the next few months making myself ready, even managing to drop a few pounds. Funny how eating fewer calories will do that. I had my weapons stored in places that I hoped would go unnoticed and in the process managed to make my Jeep into a decent enough living space. I loved my Jeep but I wasn’t really looking forward to it being my new house.

I was in bed trying to coax myself into sleep one night when I  noticed my security light was on. My paranoia drove all thoughts of sleep from my mind. I got up and peeked out the window over the back door looking down on to the driveway. I didn’t see anything at first glance and had almost convinced myself that a cat or one of the neighborhood rodents had set the light off.

I was about to try to go back to bed when I heard “Shh!”  someone was trying to silence others. I still couldn’t see anything, but I was positive now that someone was outside of my house. I wished for a moment that I hadn’t already buried my Kalashnikov.

As I stood and watched I noticed my Jeep move ever so slightly. I could see that there wasn’t anyone in the cabin, not that there was anything of value in the Jeep to steal; I didn’t even have a radio in there.

I couldn’t see what was going on, so I dressed hurriedly, throwing my .357 in its shoulder holster on as I went out the front door.  I made my way around the side of my house to the steps leading up to the back door near where the Jeep was parked. I saw feet and a gas can on the driver’s side.

I opened the side door on the garage and slipped inside. Once in I could see from the windows my pot head neighbor and two others trying to insert a hose into the fuel filler neck. Apparently these lightbulbs had never heard of an anti-siphoning valve.

The Jeep was parked far enough away from the garage that I decided to take a chance and slip back out the side door and over the stairs. I had my .357 in hand and was squeezing the rubber grip like it owed me money. The pot heads were thankfully a little too focused on the hose that kept stopping after a few inches to hear my approach. Actually now that I think on it, they weren’t focused too much on anything. Seems the last time they lit up wasn’t too far in the past and instead of trying to drain the gas they were now trying to stifle the giggles.

Hearing them giggling as they tried to steal from me just pissed me off even more. I abandoned all pretext of stealth and swung around the back of the Jeep and fired a shot into the chest of the neighbor kid. He fell flat on his back clutching the hole the hollow point had made as if that would keep the blood from flowing out.

I swung the .357 over to my next target when I noticed the “shoot me” holster he had strapped to his leg along with the big shiny Desert Eagle.

Mr Friendly had dropped by to borrow a cup of gasoline.

Chapter 5 -Belt Fed Revolution

I was making a tube out of ABS pipe to stow my guns in when I was interrupted by a knock on my door. Grabbing a rag to clean the sealant off my hands I went upstairs and asked who was there. “Cindy,”came the reply. “From work?” I peeked through the curtains covering the window on the door to see if she was alone. Cindy was my supervisor at the agency, a friendly, if slightly reserved woman in her late 50’s.

Drawing open the door I gave her my best practiced fake smile and a slightly bemused look which was entirely genuine. “Cindy.” I nodded to her and asked “what brings you by?”  She hesitated a moment before stepping slightly toward me, seeking to enter my house. I gave a quick look down the driveway before stepping back to allow her in.

 “I wish this were a good news visit, but I’m sure you’d probably see through that.” She sighed before continuing “Look, this is nothing personal; I think you’re a good social worker, but the truth of the matter is times are harder than we knew. The agency has to let you and several others go.” The entire time she managed to maintain eye contact with me, something few people did, even coworkers. “And you’re swinging by to let us all know individually?” I asked, stepping slightly back to appraise her reactions. “I’m letting you know, personally, because the agency director thinks you might be a security risk” she chuckled a bit, holding out her hand to indicate the .357 revolver I was wearing. “Look,” she continued ” I don’t know if you’re dangerous or not. I don’t think you are, but your coworkers don’t share my faith in you.”

I considered this for a moment and let out a little chuckle of my own. “No worries, Cindy.”  I said and made my way to the door and outside gesturing for her to follow after. I opened the door to my old Jeep Cherokee and reached in to grab my ID badge with its RFID chip. As I handed it to her I said “I don’t have any personal effects in my cubicle, so I won’t need to come back for anything.” She took my ID badge without a hint of reluctance and said “Sorry. I hope things work out for you and you can get another job soon…” I thanked her and said “I hope things work out for us all” and turned to go back inside.

I was back downstairs greasing my Kalashnikov and purposely not thinking about what had just happened. As I slid the AK into the tube along with several magazines and some ammo I told myself there wasn’t much point in worrying about it right then since I wouldn’t be able to start applying to other agencies until Monday at the soonest.

Sunday morning came and I went about my normal routine. Coffee, reading the various blogs I followed like  westernrifleshooters, modernsurvivalonline.com and a few other straight up blogs along  with a few of the “spicier” ones filled with conspiracy theories and rants tossed in to the mix for good measure.  I had just started reading Codrea’s War on Guns blog when my reverie was shattered by a ringing phone.

I normally never answered the phone. It seemed pointless since I had an answering machine and I hated to waste money on useless equipment. I glanced down at the phone, preparing a real ear blisterer for whatever doubtless telemarketer was calling me. I pushed the talk button and began my eloquence with “Yeah?” I was greeted by a recording from mortgage company telling me they needed to speak with me and this was not a telemarketing call. My mortgage was paid for the month and I was about to push the button to turn the phone off when an actual voice cut into the recording. 

A perky southern drawl enquired “Mr Sigurdsson? This is Jaime with Bank of the United States, I need to speak to you about your mortgage,sir.” I let out a resigned sigh. “look, miss, my mortgage payment for this month has already been processed, so…” She cut in once more “No sir, it’s not about that. Sir, the new year is coming and with that your mortgage will be going up since you financed your home under our adjustable rate plan” I winced, knowing how stupid that had been and how even stupider I was for not having done something about it before now. “Well, sir, we’re calling select customers today to discuss this change. Due to recent economic changes, your adjustable rate mortgage is going to increase by 20% beginning this  January.”

I froze for a moment, my jaw clenched, as the string of expletives raced forward fighting to be the first one spoken. I took a moment to master myself and proceeded as calmly as I could “Twenty percent?! How is that even legal?!” Jaime of the southern drawl replied, “Mr Sigurdsson, if you’ll look at your financing paperwork you’ll see that this adjustment is in line with the current rate of inflation…but we here at the Bank of the United States have several programs we can offer to help you with this, including a refinancing option…” She continued on, but my attention was now suddenly and immovably fixed on the job I had just lost. If I were still employed this might be little more than a difficult period, but with no job at all and the thought of people who had been out of work for months and years it seemed as though my options were limited.

I thanked the BotUS rep and hung up. I briefly wondered why I had thanked her before laying down the phone and staring at the wall for several minutes trying to formulate a reasonable plan of action. Monday was going to be busy.