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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 15 -Belt Fed Revolution

The truck stop was about the same as we left it. My Jeep had remained intact and at first glance I didn’t see anything missing letting me breathe easier for a few minutes. I unslung the .338 and tried to hand it off to one of the truckers. “Well now, that’s fine Finn, and nice of you, but I can’t just let you give this up especially considering how you helped us out.” He told me to wait a second and took the rifle back to his rig. I turned to John and prepared to make my goodbyes.

“Well, ” was as far as I got before John cut me off. “Look, Finn–uh, I’m sort of S.O.L. here now that my truck is done . . .” he looked at me as if expecting I would know what to fill in here. I obliged with “Yeah?” Somewhat uncharacteristically for John he looked down at the ground, embarrassed as if he’d been caught stealing apples off the neighbors tree. “Well, I don’t have anything keeping me here and I was kind of hoping I could, you know . . .” I didn’t. Mentally I was trying to cut to the chase so I could see what he was after, but the closest thing I could figure is he was getting ready to pitch me a time-share in Florida. It had been a kind of long day. “Shit. Look man, I want to go to Canada, okay? I don’t have a truck anymore and I could use a ride!”  Ah, there’s the chase I told myself.

“John, it’s not that I’m against offering a hand in help, but . . .” I tried to think of a nice way to say ‘I’m done here’ but kept coming up blank. ” My Jeep is packed full. I really don’t have room for a passenger and, well. . .” John looked at me inquiringly “I’m kind of done here . . .” Even in my time as a social worker and all the hard luck stories I’d heard I’d never actually seen a grown man give me the puppy dog eyes. Damn it. I love dogs.

I was grateful to be interrupted by the trucker to whom I’d given the rifle coming back with a gift for me. He held out the little black rectangle along with a whip antenna and a 12v power cord. “This little CB won’t let you hear us on our sideband models, but you may at least be able to get some news from folks out there.”  I don’t really know what it means to feel happiness, but relief and gratitude seemed to be good substitutes that most people translated that way. “Thank you. I hope this won’t leave you short?” The trucker just laughed “Naw, man. You gave me that rifle so I can reach out and touch someone just as easily. Fair trade!” We both had a laugh at that and shook hands before parting company.

I had almost forgotten John was waiting for me. I turned around and saw the same heartsick look a dog gives when you scold it for chewing on the linoleum. “Fuck me runnin…yeah okay. Let me go see if I can move stuff around. But I’m not going to Canada. You can ride along with me as far as my gas holds out.” John dropped his salvaged belongings he had carried back from the truck and shook my hand pumping it vigorously. I was worried if he kept this up my arm might literally be ripped off and no way was he driving my Jeep. I took my hand back, somewhat forcefully. “You need to go talk to your buddies here and see if they have any gear they can spare you.  See if anyone’s got some shoes you can use” I lifted my pant leg to show my Cadillac’s, a pair of leather jump boots, my only other souvenir from my time in the Corps.  I pointed at John’s thin soled shoes that the other truckers seemed to favor as well. “We have to hoof it and those aren’t going to last for more than five miles.” John disappeared and I went to sort out the Jeep, shaking my head as I went.

***

I had finished sorting out the Jeep, mainly by pushing stuff over the back seat into the cargo area when John returned. He gave me a very detailed map of Michigan and for himself a few spare cans of food and a couple of bottles of water. No one had any shoes to spare for him.

I got in the Jeep and reached back to open the rear passenger door. John, puppy like stood at the front passenger door looking at me expectantly. I returned his look, waiting for him to get the not too thinly veiled hint. I pointed at the back door and told him to get in. “Why do I have to sit in the back?” he was whining.

“Because I keep the gear I need next to me so I can get at it in a hurry. And because if we meet any unfriendly types, I expect you to take my shotgun and send them off to meet their gods.” I was getting pissed. “Suck it up, Nancy. It’s this or get out and you take your chances here.” When it was clear I wasn’t going to give in, he shut the door and took my shotgun wedging it between his foot and the floorboard.

I let out the clutch on the Cherokee and swung around sticking my hand out the window to wave goodbye to the few truckers that came out to see us off. I didn’t really like the idea, but I got on I-196 to head north. I knew there was a big state park up that way, but it was far enough away that I hadn’t bothered to look at the map just yet. I figured at best if the roads stayed clear and I didn’t have to stop I could make about 200 miles with the gas I had on hand. I hoped that would be enough since I planned to get off the interstate as soon as possible and push my luck with state and county roads.

John caught a case of the ‘Chatty Cathy’s’ as I drove and began telling me his life story. For the most part I ignored him and kept scanning the road for signs of trouble. I was half listening to John, waiting for an interruption in the stream of verbal diarrhea that was flowing out of him when I noticed something he had kept repeating. “John?” He stopped and tilted his head at the sound of my voice. Guy had to be part beagle, I swear it. “You keep saying partner. Are you gay?” He laughed and slapped the back of my seat “You’re pretty quick there! I think I only said my ex-boyfriend’s name about 100 times!” I looked at him in the rear view “Given the fact I killed several men today and am still a free man, I don’t think I need to tell you things have changed.” His head tilted to the other side and I wished for a rolled up newspaper.

“Of all the things I could possibly spend time caring about, your sexual preference is near the bottom of that list, but I’m not everyone else. Get me?” He looked puzzled for a moment “What do you mean?” he asked.  “John, there are no more police as far as I can tell, no courts, no lawyers, nobody is going to come to your defense and make others treat you as an equal. Dig?” the puppy dog look was replaced with one of indignation. I stopped him before he could get on his verbal bike and start in on me “I don’t care. Who you screw is your business as far as I’m concerned. But also as far as I’m concerned who I kill is my business; I’m guessing there are a whole bunch of folks out there think the same now. Mommy isn’t going to come around and make everyone play nice. I’m not saying don’t be who you are, but maybe dim the light a little, yeah?” John sat back against the seat and stared out the window in silence. Apparently I had gotten through to him.

I took the map and began looking for a place to get off the interstate and find my way to a side road. I knew a fight was coming. Now, hopefully, John knew as well. People weren’t going to be “accepting” like they had been when they had the possibility of legal sanctions facing them. “John?” Silence. I pulled out my hammer from beneath my shirt. “You see this?” He looked at it and nodded. “This is Mjolnir, John. The hammer of Thor.” I pressed on. “I’m a Heathen, as in not Christian.” Huffily “And?” 

 “I don’t advertise it, John. I’m still going to be a Heathen and worship the gods and my ancestors, but I don’t go around telling people–usually– because they grew up with things being a certain way.” He nodded slightly so I continued “Remember how Jews and Muslims were treated here? Well, how do you think people are going to react to this? People want homogeneity. Everything needs to be the same or the thing that’s different needs to be removed. Last thing I want now is to get my ass burned at the stake or beheaded or whatever people are going to do to those who are different. There’s a fight coming. If there’s a fight, let’s win.”

I couldn’t tell if I had reached him. I put the hammer back under my shirt and John sat back and returned to staring out the window.

A short time later I heard him say mostly to himself “Let’s win.”

Chapter 6 -Belt Fed Revolution

I spent the rest of my Sunday preparing tubes to store my guns and get my ruck loaded. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not Johnny Militia, but I had enough guns that I could shoot a different one every day of the week without shooting the same one twice. The big choice for me was whether or not to take my Mosin Nagant.

I loved the capability of the Mosin, but the idea of lugging that boat anchor and enough ammo to keep it fed wasn’t exactly what a man with a limp dreams of. I definitely liked the idea of being able to cover a lot of ground in terms of finding ammo so to me my choices then were pretty simple. I’d decided on my .357 revolver and compact 9mm for self-defense. To cover the road between those two I was taking my 12 gauge shotgun and a bolt-action .243 with a 3-9×40 scope. The only other weapon I planned to take was my takedown recurve bow and a couple of extra bowstrings.

Yeah, I know. Didn’t he just say that the Mosin weighed too much? Yeah, he did.The guns I chose–with the exception of the .357 and the shotgun– were light polymer framed pieces. The Mosin on the other hand had a heavy wood stock and also had the disadvantage of being about 8 feet long. Of course carrying the ammo to keep all these guns fat and happy on the other hand was an entirely different story.

A lot of the blogs I read, especially the “spicy” ones are also what I like to call “gear-queer” blogs. You’ll notice I’m not breaking down my gear, tossing out names and all the other things that get gear queers turned on. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

My gear was just that. Gear. Tools. Maybe some people would get all wet talking about the features of the really cool new Phillips head screwdriver they bought, but to me it’s just a tool.

The only big name thing I carried that I would get all warmed up about was my Ka-Bar, Sweet Louise. I bought this knife when I joined the Corps to remind myself of where I had been. And unlike a lot of the other things we tend to accrue throughout our lives, I kept Louise no matter what happened to me.Whenever I loaded out for one of my trips into the woods, I made sure Sweet Louise was right up front in easy reach. Some days I would rather have had my Ka-Bar than any gun I owned.

My loadout (save for the weapons) was really simple. I had a first aid kit I’d picked up from the local home improvement store, supplemented with a few extras like a tourniquet, QuikClot, extra absorbent feminine sanitary napkins, off brand anti-diarrheal, aspirin and a mucus expectorant with Guaifenesin. I also nabbed a big bottle of extra strength arthritis pain reliever, for the times aspirin just wouldn’t cut it.

I probably went a bit crazy with the other weapons in my loadout. I carried a machete, an M7 bayonet that my uncle used in Viet-Nam, and an entrenching tool with a sharpened edge. Yep. I think I had the weapons covered. Several pairs of wool socks, heavy leather gloves,two canteens, a change of clothes and my sleeping bag. All totaled I was carrying about 80 lbs, another reason I went heavy on the weapons: if I had to bug out on foot, I wouldn’t be going in anything that resembled a hurry because of my knee, but I’d certainly feel a degree of safety as I hobbled along.

It was late in the afternoon when I’d finally gotten all my things sorted. I’d sat down at the computer to begin doing a bit of spot editing on my resume when a news article caught my attention.

The New Carpetbaggers

By John Mokhat.

History has seen their like before. After the Civil War, Northerners were heading south with the aim of buying up huge swaths of property left uninhabited by the war. This trend seems to be experiencing something of a comeback, but with a twist. Southerners are fleeing north now, with rumors of jobs and opportunities spurring their steps.

I spoke to one of those heading north, just outside Louisville Kentucky with his girlfriend and their 7-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter.  According to Steve Brenfield, an IT professional told me “there’s no jobs down here, Rebecca–my girlfriend here– is a nurse, and she couldn’t find a job either”.

This family is not unlike the scores of people I witnessed making their way up I-65. When I asked some of the others why they’d taken to the highway they answered me with a literal interpretation “there’s not as much traffic as there used to be”.

I had to chuckle a bit in disbelief. What did these people think they were going to find here? We had a governor a while back that kept talking about Michigan’s “great economic recovery” and the rebuilding of Flint, a town that was close to being its own third world nation long before the “economic downturn” hit us, but talk is all it was.

I thought about it for a while and decided that for those on the road the prosperity of the North must mean Canada. Michigan could barely fund its social services as I had so recently discovered and whatever manufacturing jobs there were were filled by people that would almost literally kill to keep them. Not that I could blame them.

As I drained my last cup of coffee and finished tweaking my resume I decided to post a classified ad for my motorcycle. The only toy I had that I could for sure do without.

Even in these times there were still people out there convinced that things would turn around. When an opportunity like picking up a 1960 Harley FLH for a song came up, they just couldn’t resist. Within 30 minutes of my ad hitting the web, I had two emails about it. Thank the gods for Craigslist and optimists.

Since I now had Monday off, I began to plan for visits to several areas I figured I’d be able to store my weapons caches in without too much risk of discovery. This meant a trip in the Jeep, which made me smile. Even though gas was down a bit ($10.35 a gallon at the station nearest me! Score!) the Jeep was an unrepentant gas guzzler, but it was also a gas guzzler that would go anywhere I pointed it without complaint.

The plan was to drop off some resumes early in the morning and then get to digging some holes.  How hard could that be? I went to sleep that night feeling a bit upbeat. I was a man with a plan. I was an intelligent, mature, professional with a lot of experience, and I was eager to get to work helping those less fortunate. Things were looking up.

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.