Monthly Archives: January 2023

Nobody’s Heroes 9

This is my novel in progress; if you’re just starting, chapter 1 is here…

Chapter Nine

The Gym

            Eventually we came to one of the squat concrete structures that were scattered across the facility.  This one was larger than most, and when we entered I saw why.  The interior was set up as a gym and martial arts training facility.  There were three different areas with large, padded mats, various hanging punching bags in a variety of sizes, and against a wall a series of weight benches and enough iron plates to sink a medium sized cargo ship. 

            “Extreme situation survival training requires a number of attributes,” said Tant to the group as we entered the building.  “As we saw in the woods, it requires situational awareness.  The vast majority of people walk around in the world without a clue as to what is going on around them.  This is what we call code green, or ‘easy targets’.  The most important thing you can do to stay alive is to pay attention to your surroundings and never become too relaxed.”

            I didn’t think being too relaxed was going to be a problem for me again anytime soon.  I was still on edge after being attacked in the forest, although at least my hands had stopped shaking.

            “The next level of awareness is what we call ‘yellow’,” continued Tant.  “That means that you are relaxed and do not feel threatened, but that you are paying attention to your surroundings and watching for potentially dangerous situations or persons.  Following that is level ‘orange’, in which you have spotted a situation or person which you believe may be dangerous, and begin formulating a plan to deal with the situation.  The final level is ‘red’, which means that you have concluded that you are definitely in danger and now must choose either fight or flight.”

            Tant surveyed the group.  “Some of you,” he observed, “already have extensive training in this area, whereas it’s a whole new world to others here.  As of today that doesn’t matter.  All of you are going to train together like your lives depend on it, because they do.  And bear in mind, it’s not only your own life that depends on it, but the lives of your teammates and the people you are sworn to protect.  So keep one another sharp people.  Now, let’s see who to begin with.  I’ve already seen three of you in action,” he observed, “so let’s try someone new.  You there, come on out on the mat,” he said, nodding to half of the Binary Duo.

            “You are stereotyping me!” protested Binary Duo 0, “Just because I’m Asian you think I am some kind of kung-fu master!  Just because I’m Korean I should be a fifth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do!  It’s not fair!  I don’t want to go first!”

            “Well,” chuckled Tant, “technically you’re fourth, the first three already got their shots on the path here.  Additionally, I have no preconceived notion as to your martial arts skills or lack thereof.  I simply need to see what you can do on the mat so that we can assess your skills.  So are you coming out on your own, or should I have someone escort you?”

            Binary Duo 0 looked around for help, but even his other half wanted no part of this situation.  With a rueful glance at me he shuffled angrily onto the mat, looking for all the world like a toddler headed to time-out. 

            “Okay,” said Tant, “we’re going to start easy.  Tim over there is going to ‘pad up’ (he was even now donning an elaborate set of padding that made him look like an upright armadillo) and ‘attack’ you.  He’ll be using a rubber knife, so you won’t have to worry about being injured.  What I want you to do is evade his attack, and, if possible, disarm him.  Any questions?”

            “What if I hurt him?”

            “I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that.”

            Tim stepped onto the mat with Binary Duo 0, made a brief bow towards Tant, then suddenly screamed a blood-curdling war cry and charged straight for the unfortunate programmer.  0 was transfixed as firmly in place as if he had been dipped in liquid nitrogen.  Tim grabbed him and made a display of dragging the ‘knife’ across his throat and then plunging it repeatedly into his abdomen.  He then retreated to his side of the mat.

            “Well son,” observed Tant, “looks like you’re deader ‘n Elvis.  Let’s let somebody else have a try.”

            Next up was Binary Duo 1, with results more or less identical to his other half.

            “Okay,” said Tant, appearing a bit frustrated, “let’s give one of the ladies a try.  How about you, miss?”  He waved for Loren to step onto the mat.

            Loren walked forward and stepped onto the mat, giving a small, shy grin to Tim as he prepared to ‘attack’ her.  “Go!” shouted Tant, and once again Tim gave a war-cry and hurtled across the mat.  Loren made a quick motion to her hip with one hand, and then held it up like a small child making a pretend gun.  “Bang!” she cried, “Bang!  Bang!  Bang!”  Tim stopped, seeming to be actually surprised, and Tant actually seemed pleased as he laughed out loud.  “Okay,” he said, “not a bad idea at all, but this session is actually for unarmed training.”

            “But,” protested Loren, “why would I ever go out into the field unarmed?”

            “A wise question indeed,” Tant responded, still obviously amused.  “Okay, we’ll just pretend that for some reason your weapon is not functioning, or out of ammunition, and proceed in that scenario for now.  Let’s try it again.”

            Loren nodded and took her place on the mat again.  “Go!” yelled Tant, and Tim lunged forward, rubber knife extended.  Loren crouched low and made a grabbing motion at her ankle, then, without standing back up, extended both hands towards Tim, again making a pretend gun.  “Bang!” she screamed, “Bang!  Bang!  Bang!”

            Tim stopped again and looked at Tant, who was shaking his head in amazed mirth.  “Let me guess,” he said, “backup gun.”

            “Of course,” replied Loren, completely deadpan.  “Why would anyone go into the field without one?”

            “And I suppose if I tell you that one’s empty there’ll still be another?” Tant inquired.

            “Naturally.  Didn’t your wife ever tell you that it’s accessories that make the outfit?”

            “Actually, no, but thanks for sharing,” said Tant, shaking his head in disbelief.  “Okay, we’ll let you try some more later.  I guess that just leaves you there,” he said nodding to Ruth. 

            Ruth stepped onto the mat for her turn facing Tim.  Once again Tant yelled “Go!” and once again Tim screamed and charged across the mat.  As soon as he started forward Ruth wheeled and sprinted back off of the mat, and kept running with surprising speed.  Tim seemed a bit off balance, but then continued his pursuit.  For her part, Ruth darted back over to where our group was gathered and raced behind Jack.  Jack took one step forward, his sizable arms crossed across his even more sizable chest and literally growled at Tim, who stopped short of the questionable confrontation.

            “Okay, pretty good,” laughed Tant.  “After all, I did say fight or flight, and under the circumstances I think you made a pretty good choice.  After all, you emerged from the situation still alive and uninjured, which is your first goal.  Nice job.”
            “Now,” he said, addressing the group as a whole, “we’re going to spend the remainder of our afternoon working intermittent periods of conditioning and self-defense drills.  Once again, pay attention to your instructors and follow their commands at all times for your own safety.  Should you ever find yourself in a situation where you do actually have to engage in hand to hand combat, you’ll need to be as well-conditioned as possible.  You will need strength to overpower your opponent and cardiovascular conditioning to continue functioning over lengthy periods of stress.  Some of you appear to be in pretty good physical condition already, but more training won’t hurt any of you.  So, enough talk, let’s get started.”

            The remainder of the afternoon consisted of Tant and his terrible twins inflicting various sadistic chores on us.  I was forced (well, not really, but I couldn’t let the people on my team see me wimping out) to lift a variety of iron bars with plates affixed to the end in seemingly endless variations.  The monotony of this grueling agony was broken up by sessions on the mat, when Jim would instruct us on various ways to defend ourselves while Tim slashed away with his rubber knife.  To make matters worse, my people actually seemed to be enjoying themselves for the most part.  Jack was having a good time demonstrating his ability to bench press what looked to be the equivalent of a small car, while David showed off his own impressive strength and agility through different exercises.  Loren and Ruth were obviously well-conditioned also, and although nowhere near as physically strong as their male teammates they attacked the weights with surprising determination.  Even the Binary Duo seemed to be getting into the spirit; although it was quickly obvious they spent more time punching a keyboard than any type of boxing equipment.  For my part I could only pray that this would end soon, either for Tant to decide our session time was up or by suffering a massive heart attack.  I really didn’t care which one any more. 

Next Chapter here:

Free helicopter…

Always off topic…

Can’t you read the signs…

Everybody wants it….


Superman not included…


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Nobody’s Heroes 8

This is my novel in progress; if you’re just starting, chapter 1 is here…

Chapter Eight

Continuing Education

            Tant spent the remainder of the morning drilling us over and over on basic safety issues for shooting and the basic functions of our pistols.  He assured us that although “some” of the group was more than ready for more advanced instruction (I avoided looking at Loren or Jack) that he wanted to make sure “everyone” had a good foundation (I wondered if Loren and Jack were looking at me).  Although I had been nervous, and a bit irritated to be included in the practice (after all, I was the administrator here, not a failure in need of remediation) I found the shooting enjoyable.  At first the pistol startled me every time I pulled the trigger, but soon I found myself settling down.  As my nerves calmed I found that I was able to punch holes in the black section of the target far more easily, and that my groups of shots were becoming smaller and closer to the center “X”.  Having never fired a gun before I had not realized how exhilarating the experience could be, but I didn’t want to tell anyone for fear of letting them know I had never fired a gun before.  After all, I was the boss; I couldn’t have these yahoos thinking they knew more than I did about anything.

            As we wrapped up the morning exercise Tant seemed pleased.  “Okay, y’all,” he drawled, “we’ve had a pretty good morning session here.  I hope I didn’t bore a couple of you too much, but I think everybody’s lookin’ okay.  We’re gonna break for lunch, and then spend an afternoon in what we like to call ‘extreme situation survival training’.  I think you’ll find it to be pretty interestin’.”

            We returned to the cafeteria, where I found our lunch was quite a bit lighter than our breakfast had been.  By lighter I don’t mean there was necessarily less food, but everything looked like it was from some hippy-loving west coast health-food chain.  “You guys decide to go all health nut on us?” I asked Tant.

            “Not really,” he chuckled, noting my disappointment.  “It’s just that I’m not sure about the conditioning level of some of your people,” (Did he mean some of my people or did he mean me?  I decided it wasn’t a good idea to dwell too long on that.) “and the training this afternoon is pretty strenuous.  I just don’t want anybody walking out there with a stomach full of heavy fried food and then needing a paramedic.”

            “Oh, okay,” was all I could say.  I could not recall any training session I had ever been to before where the possibility of a paramedic being needed was considered even remotely possible.  I began to wonder when we would get to the self-esteem session.  I had all kinds of insights stored up from years of previous sessions, and it would give me a chance to show my people just how far ahead of them I really was.  For now, however, I was going to have to deal with whatever Ruth had signed us up for this afternoon.  I was definitely going to have to start reading the papers she handed me before I signed them.

            We finished lunch, took a brief break “to let our food settle” (I wondered if there would be swimming involved in our training.  Maybe they had a pool.  I wondered how Ruth would look in a bathing suit.  Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all.) and then headed out again, away from the firing ranges, through another section of the ever-present woods (was this Sherwood Forest or something?).  I decided to be assertive, and so took the lead of my group, right behind Tant.  David and Jack sauntered along behind me, followed by the Binary Duo, while Loren and Ruth brought up the rear with Tim and Jim, who seemed to be spending entirely too much time with the female members of my team. 

            Suddenly, without any warning whatsoever, a screaming black blur exploded out of the brush on my left and hurtled forward, smashing into me like a runaway SUV.  I crashed to the ground, landing flat on my back, and looked up.  It was, of all things, a ninja, complete with black mask and wielding a sword, which he raised up above me, obviously intent on removing my head from my shoulders.  It occurred to me that I did not want my head removed from my shoulders, and that I should do something about it, but I had no idea what to do, and at any rate I was in excruciating pain from the collision and my subsequent fall and could barely move.  As the ninja prepared for his killing stroke I could clearly hear one of the women screaming in the background.

            The stroke never fell.  Instead of slicing me up like a thanksgiving turkey, the ninja instead decided to levitate.  Still in a state of shock I wondered how he managed such a trick.  Then I saw how.  It wasn’t wires, or ropes, or even ninja magic.  Jack had stepped forward, grabbed the ninja from behind, and now hoisted the ninja completely over his head and threw him towards a tree.  I was mildly impressed, and made two decisions on the spot.  The first was that Jack was getting a pay raise.  The second was never to make Jack angry. 

            Even as he sailed through the air towards the tree the ninja somehow whipped his body around, managed to roll lightly away from the crash, and landed softly on his feet, with his sword now pointed at Jack, whom he must have decided was a more dangerous opponent.  As Jack squared up to face our attacker a second hooded figure flew from the trees behind him with raised sword. 

            I wanted to scream a warning to Jack, but the words wouldn’t come.  It didn’t matter.  The second ninja never even got close.  Moving with incredible speed David intercepted him in mid-air, and the two of them tumbled down the path in a tangle of spinning limbs.  Where, I wondered, were Tant and his assistants while we were under attack?  Why weren’t they doing anything?

            “Stand down!” bellowed Tant, as if reading my mind.  Instantly the ninja facing Jack stepped back and removed his hood.  The ninja wrestling with David likewise stopped fighting, allowing David the upper hand. 

            “Well,” said Tant, “looks like a couple of you have pretty good reaction time anyways; we’ll work on that with the rest of you.”  The two “ninjas” now dusted themselves off, and with their hoods removed I could see that they appeared to be a couple more of Tant’s assistants. 

            “Are you nuts?” I shouted, struggling up from the ground, “somebody could have been killed!”

            “That’s really not very likely, sir,” suggested one of my attackers politely, and held out his sword.  Now that I had time to look I could see that it was made of bamboo, not steel.  “It’s a training tool for kendo practice,” he explained, “and while it could hurt you quite badly if used for that purpose, it’s unlikely to actually cut you in a training exercise such as this.”

            I looked around somewhat angrily.  I really wanted someone to blame, but I wasn’t sure yelling at Tant was a good idea.  I noticed that the Binary Duo had retreated back down the path (a lot of help they had been) and were standing with the girls and Tim and Jim.  I also noticed that both Loren and Ruth seemed more amused than frightened.  But if that was the case, whom had I heard screaming?  I decided that was another question I didn’t want to think about too much.

            “As field operatives,” bellowed Tant (why was the man always bellowing?) “you’ll need to be prepared to fend off attacks at all times.  The fact of the matter is that it is highly unlikely your opponents are going to be concerned about the Geneva Conventions or any other such niceties.  They will be concerned only with their objective, which means killing as many people as possible, including anyone who gets in their way, which will be you.  They will attack without warning or mercy; they will kill without hesitation or remorse.  If you are not trained to detect them before they attack and to meet force with force you will fail and die, along with the people you are sworn to protect.  So let’s start looking alive people!”

            Well, great.  Apparently I had signed up for psycho boot camp.  Tant started back down the trail again.  I allowed Jack and David to walk ahead of me this time.  All the same I found myself jumping at every rustle in the woods around us. 

Next chapter here…

The links must flow…

Join the crew…

I WON!!!!!!!!!….

Learning to let go….

This is bad, and vaxx damage will only make it worse….

Schrodinger’s cornerback….

I don’t know, how many does it take to screw in a light bulb?…

What the Dickens?….

Not my favorite Twilight Zone,. but a good one…

Girls will….


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Nobody’s Heroes 7

This is my novel in progress; if you’re just starting, chapter 1 is here…

Chapter Seven

Those Toys, Those Wonderful Toys

            As I mentioned earlier, I was a great fan of comic books as a child (and as an adolescent, and for that matter even as a young adult).  What any comic book fan knows is that many of the best characters, although called “super heroes”, have no super powers.  The most widely known example of this is Batman, a personal favorite of mine, and a comic book character superior in every way to Superman. 

            Let’s face it, there’s nothing especially heroic about Superman.  How courageous is it to face down a gunman when you know his bullets cannot possibly hurt you?  It’s like a grown man thinking he’s a hero for taking a squirt gun away from a toddler.  What’s the big deal?  Batman, on the other hand, has no super powers.  He always relies on skill, cunning, and of course the latest cutting edge technology.  Batman was a favorite for myself and so many other kids because while we knew Superman was pure fantasy, something we could never be, Batman seemed to be almost within reach, someone we could become if we just put our minds to it.

            Of course, Batman wouldn’t have been Batman without his utility belt.  I guess accessories really do make the man.  I was about to find out that while Batman wasn’t real, the real world did have its fair share of utility belts, and the one I would be issued was high caliber indeed.

            The next morning we were awakened (or at least the Binary Duo and I were awakened, Jack and David seem to have already been up) at six a.m.  Tim entered our dorm and suggested that we had fifteen minutes to make it to breakfast.  I staggered to the bathroom, pulled myself together as best I could (I was still feeling the after effects of the drinks and motion sickness tablets on the flight) and headed towards the cafeteria.  I wondered whether it was really necessary to be up this early, or if Tant was just showing off for us.

            The Binary Duo and I walked into the cafeteria together; we discovered that everyone else had arrived before us.  The smell of frying bacon and biscuits wafted through the air, and I felt slightly better.  The coffee was even better than the previous evening, and soon I was beginning to feel like myself.  Ruth looked glorious (how she managed it in these surroundings was beyond me).  Loren was sitting at the end of the table, stroking a large tabby cat that perched in her lap, purring loudly and rubbing its head against her affectionately.

            “I’ll be,” exclaimed Tant, “I never thought I would’ve seen the day.  That old cat has tried to take a swat at more than one of our guests before.  How did you manage it?”

            Loren just shrugged.  “I don’t manage them.  They just understand that I would never hurt them and that I love them.  They have that sense about them, you know.”

            “Whatever you say, miss,” agreed Tant, “I can’t dispute what I’m seeing with my own two eyes.  All right folks, let’s hurry up and finish eating, we’re wasting daylight.  I’ve got quite a day planned for you.”

            Once we finished up breakfast our group, along with Tim and Jim, headed off down another trail which wound through the woods that seemed to cover most of the camp.  After a few minutes walking I began to hear a constant low staccato crack that sounded for all the world like a Fourth of July party. 

            “We’ll start with the pistols first today,” Tant said.  “Once we’ve familiarized you with them we’ll move up to some of the larger weapons you’ll be training with.  I know a couple of you already have some pretty extensive training, but I’ll keep all of you together for this first round of exercises just to get an idea of your capabilities.”

            Had he just said pistols?  First?  Larger weapons later?  I began to have a sick feeling in my gut.  What exactly had been on those forms I’d signed?  The last dozen times (at least) I’d been sent on government training it was exactly the same.  We had a motivational speaker who urged us to remember that self-esteem was the key to self-actualization, and then we broke up into groups to talk about thinking outside the box.  There were minor variations (sometimes a speaker talked about finding cheese instead) but none of any consequence.  Throughout the entire day we would have lots of snacks, coffee breaks, and a heavy lunch.  Afterwards everyone would gather round at agree it had been a truly great, life-altering seminar, and then we would go back to our hotels and get sloshed.  I was beginning to think Tant didn’t have anything at all like that in mind for us.

            The trail abruptly exited the woods, and before us were a series of low rising mounds and small, squat concrete structures.  We followed Tant to what I recognized as a firing range, complete with a wooden canopy under which the shooters were to stand.  The range was set up in lanes, rather like a bowling alley, with wires strung overhead going down each lane.  Attached to each wire was a set of clips, and each clip had a target already attached. 

            “Okay,” said Tant, “basic rules first.  Every gun is always loaded.  Even though you know it’s unloaded, you checked it three times, and the magazine has been removed, it’s still loaded.  So never point your gun at another person.  Especially not at me.”

            “Well,” I said, deciding to interject a little humor, “if I’m really sure it’s not loaded, will it really matter if I point it at you?” 

            Tant gave me a stony stare.  “Yes,” he said, “it will.  Because mine is loaded, and so when you try that stunt you’ll find yourself at a distinct disadvantage.”

            I decided to forego any more humor.  Some people just don’t appreciate a good joke.

            “Next, always follow the range master’s instructions.  Fire when the range master says fire, cease fire when the range master says cease fire.  I will be your range master today, follow my commands as if your life depends on it, because it very well may do so.  Tim and Jim will be assisting me as range masters, follow their commands as if they were my own.  Now, even though you are a law enforcement group, I cannot afford to assume that you are already familiar with the weapons you will be using.  Therefore my assistants and I will assist each of you in turn with the basic functions of your weapons.  Speaking of which, here they are.”  At this point another assistant instructor, identifiable by his black shirt and hyper-fit physique, appeared with a large, locked suitcase which he handed to Tant.

            Tant placed the case on a wooden table at the back of the range and opened it with a key he produced from his pocket.  Inside were several smaller cases, which he distributed to the group.

            “These are the weapons you requested for pistol training,” he said.  “Each of you will be issued a Heckler and Koch USP Tactical semi-automatic pistol in .45 acp caliber.  Per the specs you requested your particular weapons are capable of either single or double action firing.  Each weapon holds twelve rounds in the magazine, plus one in the chamber.  Furthermore, per your request, you will be practicing with your field ammunition, Federal 230 grain jacketed hollow points.  I must say,” he added as an apparent afterthought, “I am a bit surprised you ordered a weapon that is not double action only.  It’s rare for law enforcement to want anything else these days.”

            “Well, sir,” Loren piped up, “the single action feature does give superior accuracy in a tactical situation.”

            Tant smiled.  “Indeed it does, miss, indeed it does.  I am glad to see we have a group here that will be stressing accuracy rather than the spray and pray philosophy.”

            Tant and his assistants began working with us on the basic functions of the pistol.  I noticed that neither Jack nor Loren required much, if any, actual instruction, although they were both polite and respectful.  David and Ruth were both less familiar with the weapons, but seemed to pick up what they were being shown quite quickly.  The Binary Duo and I, however, were definitely going to be in for a challenge.

            Eventually everyone had a pistol, as well as oversized hearing muffs and shooting glasses, and we were lined up at the range.  The targets were moved downrange by means of a handy electronic motor, and we prepared to fire at an initial range of ten yards.

            “Okay,” bellowed Tant, “your first group will be three shots, just to get the feel of the weapon.  You may commence.”

            I nearly jumped out of my skin as Krakatoa went off next to me several times in rapid succession.  I was standing next to Loren, and apparently that was a mistake, for she seemed to take pleasure in firing as rapidly as possible, which only made the noise worse.  I tried to steady my hand and align the sights as I had been shown, and then tried to remember to squeeze the trigger rather than jerk it, and suddenly the pistol erupted in my hand.  The recoil was more than I enjoyed, but not as bad as I had feared, and to my amazement a small hole actually appeared on the black section of my target downrange.  Granted, it was nowhere near the center, but it was at least on the black, human-shaped silhouette.  That was better than I had expected.  I squeezed the trigger twice more, and another hole appeared on the black section of the target.  Per Tant’s instructions I ceased firing after three rounds. 

            “Well,” I said, turning to Loren, “check it out; two out of three ain’t bad!”  She looked at my target and smiled politely at me.

            I looked at her target and felt a twinge of regret.  I was afraid I had probably made her feel bad, since her target only had one hole, although it was in the exact center, on the small ‘x’ over what would have been her victim’s heart.  “I guess you’ll be needing this practice after all,” I said, “since you missed twice.”

            Once again Loren gave me her small smile.  “No,” she said, “I didn’t.”

Next chapter here…

Fair sailing to The West…

Dogs are the Best….

Wallbangers (no Harvey)….

Support your local Sheriff….

Complicated stuff…

Free fiction….

Opiate crisis….


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Nobody’s Heroes 6

This is my novel in progress; if you’re just starting, chapter 1 is here…

Chapter Six

Getting to Know You

            I trudged into the cafeteria, mildly winded at the exertion of walking there from our barracks.  Ruth and Loren were already there, engaged in animated conversation with Tim and Jim.  I sat down at their table along with the rest of our group and hoped for a good cup of coffee more than anything else.  The cafeteria was sparsely populated, with a few other small knots of people who appeared to be students like ourselves with a few instructors sprinkled in amongst them.  I noticed that the instructors were readily distinguishable from their pupils by their black shirts with “instructor” emblazoned across the back, and not much else.  It was surprising to see that most of the students appeared nearly as well conditioned as the staff, if not on par with them altogether.  I then noticed that this was probably true for my team as well, with the exception of the Binary Duo, who had made no secret of the fact that they did not consider themselves field operatives anyway.  Jack was a collection of muscular knots that moved with machine-like efficiency, and was obviously familiar with the inside of a gym.  David, for his part, was sleeker, and resembled a distance runner more than a body builder like Jack.  Additionally, David’s movements were more feline than Jack, who really looked like he was imitating Arnold Schwarzenegger in the “Terminator” movies.  I knew Loren had already been to Quantico, and thus had been on a rigorous conditioning program, and if I thought too much about the kind of shape Ruth was in I knew I was going to get in trouble for sexual harassment, so I just let it go.

            Soon we were presented with plates of food, which while simple was surprisingly good, and, I was thankful to see, plenty of hot coffee was available.  “I know it was a short flight,” said Mr. Tant, “but all the same, it’s only polite to offer plenty of coffee to someone who’s just flown in to camp.”  I decided he might be an alright guy after all.

            “So, Mr. McCulloch,” said Mr. Tant, addressing me, “Since this is the first time your office has contracted with us, why don’t you tell me a little about your team?  I like to know about the people I’m training.  It helps me get a feel for how to approach the coursework, if you take my meaning.”

            Suddenly I realized I had a bit of a problem.  My team had only been together for a few days, and I didn’t know much about them except that they were all failures at their previous attempts at law enforcement jobs.  What exactly could I tell this guy that wouldn’t give away the fact that I was in charge of a bunch of losers?  After all, no one wants to just come right out and admit that you’ve been put in charge of a lot of losers, especially in front of the losers themselves, even if it is true.

            Ruth, however, was on the ball, as usual, and bailed me out.  “You’ll have to excuse our boss,” she said to Mr. Tant, favoring him with one of her dazzling smiles (I was suddenly, inappropriately, completely jealous) “he’s more of an action kind of guy than a talker.  We’re all part of an experimental group with the Department of Homeland Security that is working to integrate people with as wide a range of skills as possible into as small a group as possible.  By eliminating unnecessary manpower and working without a large bureaucracy we can be more efficient, and thus respond much more quickly.  It’s our hope to have small units set up that can respond quickly to national emergencies on an independent basis, rather than a huge bureaucratic mess that gets everyone bogged down, like what happened after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.  Really, we hope to be a sort of all-purpose ‘special-ops’, like the Navy SEALs are to the regular navy.  That’s the main reason we were so interested in the programs you offer here.”

            Tant (I decided I was dropping the Mr.) may have been the consummate commando, but it was obvious that he had just surrendered to Ruth’s charm as quickly as anyone else.  “Well, miss,” he said, with a flattered smile, “we’re happy to have you here, and I think we’ll be able to set you up with just the kind of program you’re looking for.  From what Mr. McCulloch wrote to me” (I hadn’t written him anything, I realized, that must have been one of the forms I’d signed at Ruth’s request) “your primary emphasis will be on identifying and countering specific threats of domestic terrorism.”

            “Yes,” nodded Ruth, still flattering the old jerk (now why did I suddenly dislike him?) with her wonderful smile, “that’s the nature of our office.”

            “Well then,” said Tant, “I need to get to know a little more about y’all.  So I guess I could start with you,” he nodded towards Ruth in a way I found appalling, “and then just go around the table.”

            “Well,” said Ruth, “I recently graduated from Hillsdale College in Michigan with a B.S. in computational mathematics and a B.A. in history.  I was third in my class overall, which was a little disappointing, especially since I wanted to shoot down the old stereotype about girls not being good at math.  I hope to be able to design an algorithm based on historical trends to predict the movements of terrorists before they strike.  Of course, once I predict where they’re going to strike, we plan on being there to give them just the kind of greeting they deserve.  That’s where I’m hoping your training will be just what I need.”

            “Very good,” chuckled Tant, “I think you and I will get along just fine.” (I was now imagining various horrible ends for this guy.)  “Now, Ms. Rindal, I believe it is, I’ve already heard a little about you.  It seems you have quite the reputation when it comes to marksmanship with a handgun.”

            “I like guns,” agreed Loren.

            “Well, what else can you tell me about yourself?”

            “Well, I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Ole Miss with a double major in zoology and law enforcement.  After that I went to the Vanderbilt University School of law and recently completed my J.D.  I was accepted to Quantico, but that didn’t really work out.  And I like cats.  You don’t by any chance have any cats around here, do you?”

            “We have a few ‘working cats’ on the premises to keep the local rodents in check,” chuckled Tant.  “But good luck on getting any of them to come near you.  They’re not really pets, and they tend to be a bit shy, especially around strangers.  Now, how about you, young fella?” he said, looking at Jack.

            “Jack Lawrence sir, USMC, two tours straight out of high school.  9/11 hit early in my first one, couldn’t wait to get in the game.  Went to Iraq in ’03, did some serious time in Fallujah.  Bronze star, two purple hearts.”  (I realized those were some sort of medals, but I wasn’t sure what for.  I hadn’t really checked out Jack’s history too thoroughly before signing him up for the team.  I hoped they were good medals, maybe it would help with publicity later on.)  “Not trying to boast sir, just letting you know what’s in the Jacket.  Went to work as a cop when I got back, got bounced out during my probationary period on a bogus charge.  Now I’m working for the feds.  Go figure.”

            “Yes,” said Tant, in a very different voice, suddenly quiet and serious, “I read about that when I found out you were coming here.  Seems everyone knew you were getting railroaded and no one wanted to do anything about it for fear of offending certain sensibilities.  Glad to see you landed on your feet, son.”

            “Usually do.  I’ll do my best here.”

            “I’m sure,” agreed Tant.  “Now what about you?” he asked David.

            “Well, I recently completed a masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University.  My family is mostly still in Israel, but I guess I wanted to live overseas.  My grandparents were actually from New York and went to Israel in ’52, but my family has kept dual citizenship ever since.  I just recently returned from Tel Aviv, I had gone back over to certify for my Level Five in Krav Maga.”

            “I see,” said Tant, “well, I believe I have some instructors here who would be interested in comparing notes with you on that.”

            “Well then I’ll try to accommodate them,” said David with a sly smile.

            “And you?” he asked Binary Duo 1.  “Ron Cho, sir” answered Binary Duo 1.  I started with the realization that if I’d been asked I couldn’t have told anyone his name.  “And this is my brother, Jon Cho.  We are, as you can see, identical twins.  Our parents came to the states from South Korea in 1978.  We were born in Atlanta, Georgia and attended Georgia Tech, where we each earned degrees in computer science.”

            “Yes,” said Binary Duo 0, “basically, if you build it, we can hack it.  It is especially gratifying to hack substandard Japanese systems, but we hack anyone we have to for a mission.”

            “Indeed,” 1 said, “we have successfully hacked more mainframes than Jack has shot Al-Qaida terrorists in Iraq.”

            “Don’t go bettin’ your laptops on that,” interjected Jack.

            Neither 1 nor 0 paid him any mind.  “We can also create any specialty software you need.  Our specialties, of course, are circumventing firewalls and spyware interdiction.  We have special software designs that not only interdict spyware, but also allow you to trace its point of origin.  This, we believe, could prove most useful in counter-terrorism, especially with the investments the People’s Republic of China has been making lately in cyber warfare equipment.  Of course, just as with the Japanese, the Chinese have skills far inferior to our own.  We look forward to crushing them and laughing in their cyber faces as their pitiful firewalls crumble before our magnificent onslaught.”

            “Glad to see you’re humble too,” commented Tant a bit dryly.  “I almost hate to ask it, but how is your field work?”

            “Using us for field work is ridiculous when our magnificent skills could be put to use in cyberspace, where they belong.  However, we understand that we are being given a ‘second chance’ due to some unfortunate misunderstandings in our prior department, so we will participate.  However, please do not stereotype us, we do not practice Tae Kwon Do, or, for that matter any other martial arts.  That would be a waste of our valuable time when we could be in cyber space.”

            I swear, when those two get talking I can’t tell who’s saying what, and it almost sounds like machine language.

            “Well guys, hopefully you won’t find your time here to be a complete waste.  Maybe if you loosen up a little you’ll even have some fun.  Now, I guess that just leaves you.”  I realized Tant was speaking to me.

            Uh, well, I stammered, “To be perfectly honest that’s classified.  I’m really not at liberty to discuss it.”  Sure that was a lie, but it was a necessary lie.  After hearing from the various members of my team there was no way I was telling everyone that I was a professional grant writer with a degree in chicken farming.  If they ever found out the truth there was no way they would have any respect for me.  And if they had no respect for me, how could I function as the leader of this team.  And besides, they were the losers looking for a second chance, not me.


Moar white supremacy…

Join Spawny’s Crew….

How do you even measure this? And wasn’t Joe Biden a Senator?….

RBG’s final form revealed….

Some things you are not allowed to think or do…..

Best of the best….

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Nobody’s Heroes 5

This is my novel in progress; if you’re just starting, chapter 1 is here…

Chapter 5

Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Herein

            Just as setting up our new office had taken only a day, the arrangements for our first business trip had been expedited with a speed I had never before seen within the federal bureaucracy.  Since I had never been in charge of any type of group before, it had not occurred to me to use some of my allotted manpower funds for office staff.  This proved to be inconsequential, however, as my team had taken it upon themselves to make travel arrangements as well as set up the training sessions we would be enjoying at Darkwater.  I had to admit the fact that they were nothing short of amazing in their efficiency.  Once again I found myself feeling sorry for them.  If only they could learn to go with the flow they would never have ended up in this remedial group.

            True to her word, Ruth required only that I sign the requisition forms and the deal was done.  Soon we were prepared to board a 737 for North Carolina.  All I had to do was pack my bag and show up, my team had taken care of everything else.  I decided then and there that even if things didn’t pan out for my people (as I liked to think of them) in federal law enforcement then at least I would try to see that they got placements in the secretarial pool.

            The flight was smooth enough, I suppose, although I must admit I’m not a very good flier.  I only had to go through three drinks from the stewardess and a couple of motion sickness tablets to make it through.  I think I vaguely remember disembarking at the airport in North Carolina, but other than that everything went fuzzy for a while.  When I finally managed to figure out my surroundings again we were in front of a pair of barracks that reminded me of summer camp dormitories from my childhood.  The team was unloading a pair of rental cars, and thankfully Jack was able to carry my luggage as well as his own since my legs refused to act like they were supposed to. 

            We were greeted by an early middle-aged man who had tanned leather for skin, and appeared to be fit enough to give Lance Armstrong a race on a bike or arm wrestle the Incredible Hulk, whichever needed doing at the moment.  “Howdy, y’all” he said in an agreeable Texas drawl, “good to have you here.  My name is Daniel Tant and I’ll be you’re chief instructor for the time you’re here.  Now of course I’ll have some help, so please say hi to my assistants for your group, Tim and Jim.”  He turned and motioned to two men who strode up behind him, both of whom were distinguishable from Daniel only in that they appeared to be a few years younger, with a little less salt in the salt and pepper buzz cuts and a little less tan to the leather they sported for skin.

            “Ladies,” continued Daniel, “will be in the barracks here to my right, gentlemen to the left.  Tim and Jim can help you with your luggage if you need it.”  Jack snorted in derision at the notion he would need assistance, and continued on into our barracks carrying two sets of bags.  I did notice, however, that both Loren and Ruth were happy to let a hyper-fit instructor carry their bags.  I guess they had a few things to learn about feminism and the need for equality, but I was still feeling too groggy to lecture them.

            I walked into the barracks, David beside me, while the Binary Duo trundled along behind us pulling the little wheeled suitcases into which they had doubtless stuffed their laptops and spare underwear.  I was surprised to find the interior much more spartan than even what I remembered from those long ago summer camps.  The interior of the building contained rows of bunks, each with a chest at the foot, and not much else.  There appeared to be a communal toilet/shower facility at the far end.  What was obviously lacking were televisions, chairs, tables or anything else that would have established this as a civilized residence.  I did notice a couple of electric sockets on the walls, so perhaps the Binary Duo could hook something up for us, but I was beginning to get a bad feeling about this place.

            David swaggered over to me (there really is no other way of describing how he walks) with a wide grin.  “Quite the digs we’ve got here, huh?  I’ve gotta admit, I’m impressed you’re here.  I figured you’d just take it easy back at the office and dump us out here in the sticks to fend for ourselves.”

            “Yeah, well, I really don’t want to be that kind of boss,” I lied.  Truth be told, as I looked around at the place, the only reason I could remember for agreeing to come here was Ruth’s vivacious smile. 

            “Dude,” grumbled half of the Duo, “I’ve got a serious signal here.  They must have some kind of awesome wireless network running at this place.”  I was surprised to see that he had indeed packed a laptop in with his spare underwear, and now had it out and sitting on a bunk, merrily typing away.  “It looks like their network is password protected, but that shouldn’t be too much trouble.”

            “I doubt that would be a good idea,” observed David.  “After all, this is a high-tech security training compound.  If you start nosing around they just might notice it.  And from the looks of what we’ve seen so far I wouldn’t want to explain to Mr. Tant why we were snooping around on his network.”

            Jack, meanwhile, had completed unpacking and now was reclined on his bunk, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings.  “Tell me Jack,” I asked, “does this seem like a little bit of roughing it?”

            “Compared to what?  In Fallujah we would have killed for digs like this.  Come to think of it, sometimes we did kill for digs that weren’t nearly this good.  We’ve got cots and indoor plumbing, as long as we get our three hots what more are you gonna ask for on a field training assignment?”

            I decided not to pursue the matter any further with Jack.  Maybe he was pulling my leg, and maybe not, but I really didn’t want to find out for sure while we were stuck in the middle of nowhere.

            I had just finished unpacking my own bags when Mr. Tant, as David had decided to address him, walked into the barracks.  “Howdy, gents,” he said with a crooked grin that would have looked better on a shark.  “You can come with me on down to the cafeteria.  We’ll be getting a bite to eat while we go over your itinerary.  I think Tim and Jim have already escorted the ladies down there, and we certainly don’t want to keep them waiting.”  With that he strode out the door, his back ramrod straight and his eyes straight ahead, not once glancing back to see if we were following.  Well, I decided, in for a penny, in for a pound, and along with the other guys I followed him a short distance down a dirt trail to the cafeteria.

Next chapter here….

Was Sherman just an idea?….

I miss Coolidge….

You know what’s just like a moped, don’t you?…..

Missionary positioning…

God and man at Yale…

How many of us truly live by this?…

You need the right equipment to hunt monsters….


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Nobody’s Heroes 4

This is my novel in progress; if you’re just starting, chapter 1 is here…

Chapter Four

Dark Waters Ahead

            After I had enjoyed lunch in the campus cafeteria (I was truly annoyed that my sub-department’s money could not be spent on fine restaurant dining.  Maybe I could requisition it as a nutrition program of some sort.) I met with my team again.  Surprisingly enough, most of the office was set up, although not in the fashion I had expected.  I had requisitioned enough walls for several cubicles, but my team had ignored them altogether.  Instead they had six desks set up in a roughly circular arrangement, facing each other, with computer workstations on each desk.  It was annoying that they would do something like this as soon as I left them alone for a couple of hours, but I could always get building maintenance services to fix the problem when and if they had time in a few months.

            I had given thought to Jack and Ruth’s plan over lunch, and discovered I liked it better and better the more I thought about it.  There was a big push from some areas of the executive branch and Congress to move towards “privatization”, which basically meant paying non-government contractors to do work previously done by the government.  I personally thought the idea was ridiculous, since there was no way some private sector goofballs would handle public funds with the same care and efficiency as a trained bureaucrat like myself, but since the idea was popular at the top I could use it as a selling point for my next round of funding proposals.  That’s the great thing about being a trained professional grant writer.  Even if you don’t really believe an idea is any good you can still dress it up and sell it in such a way that other people will give you money.  And after all, that’s your ethical duty as a grant writer.

            “All right, people” I said, “let’s get started.  Ruth, I’ve been thinking about what you said, and I suppose we might as well give this Darkwater group a look.  What I need for you to do is contact them and get an estimate on the fees they would expect to train the six of you.”

            “Yes sir,” responded Ruth, “which training areas should I contact them about?”

            That caught me off balance, as I had just assumed there would be one standard training regimen offered.  These people apparently had more than that.  Well, my biggest concern right now was spending money, and I didn’t want to appear ignorant, so I responded “As many as you people can handle.  You’re here for more training; let’s see that you get it.  I want you to get this group signed up for as many courses as possible.”  Ruth gave me a wide-eyed look at that, but I could tell from her demeanor, as well as that of the rest of the group, that everyone was impressed with my ability to make a tough decision on the spot. 

            “Yes sir,” she said, “I’ll get with the rest of the group and start planning a training schedule right away.  What should I do once I have the quotes from Darkwater on their fees?”

            “Just bring those to me,” I said grandly, “and I’ll see that everything is taken care of.  Now let’s get this show on the road!”

            The six of them got together and began gabbing away, obviously happy to plan their own training routines.  Well, at least I was showing them I wasn’t the type of boss to micro-manage.  I was happy to find that my own office was set up separately, just as I wanted, and that my computer was already hooked up and had wireless internet service enabled.  In no time at all I was immersed in a little research project of my own on offshore gambling establishments with online poker tournaments.  After all, it was only fair that I get in a little relaxation after the busy day in my department.

            Only a couple of hours later (which was about two weeks quicker than the normal bureaucratic process) Ruth came into my office.  “I’ve downloaded Darkwater’s course catalog and made copies for everyone in the office,” she said, “including, of course, one for you.  Since you were busy we all went ahead and got together to decide which courses to take.  The courses I’ve highlighted in green on your copy will be for everyone in the office.  The courses that Loren and Jack will be taking on their own are highlighted in red, while the courses David and I will be doing on our own are highlighted in blue.  Our computer guys didn’t really want to take any specialized coursework, they insist they’re fine doing most of their work with their computers and will be fine with just a standard field training package, if that’s okay with you.”

            I briefly looked at the colorful graffiti she handed me, then acknowledged that it was “okay.”  I’d have to keep an eye on this young lady, I got the feeling she was already angling for my job.  If there’s one thing you’ve learned well by your GS-12 it’s that go-getters are more trouble than they’re worth.  Usually I would start the process of weeding her out now, but since my proposal was to retrain this motley crew I decided to let it go for now.  After a few weeks of trying to butt heads with the system she would learn on her own how futile her enthusiasm really was.

            “There’s just one more thing sir,” she added, and for the first time seemed a bit hesitant.  I wondered what could be inhibiting her ridiculous self-confidence and zeal.

            “And what would that be?”

            “Well, quite frankly, I don’t know if you’ll be accompanying us on our training or if you’ll be staying here at the office.  I thought you might be going along, and if so you might want to take some of the classes alongside us.  I realize you certainly don’t need any of this training, or else you wouldn’t be in charge of this group, but I thought you might want to observe us as we went through the program, just to make sure everything was going the way you like.”

            I considered the course catalog again.  Well, it was in rural North Carolina, out away from the city.  It could almost be a vacation.  The fresh air would probably do me some good, and my doctor had recently suggested I try and get out and do a little exercise (as if I had so much spare time on my hands).  Well, I figured, why not?  “Okay,” I decided, “go ahead and sign me up for the courses everyone is taking as a group.”  Then, as an afterthought, I said “And while you’re at it, you may as well sign me up for some of the special classes as well.  Why don’t you just put me down for the ones you and David are taking?  I’m sure they’ll be interesting.”

            She flashed me a dazzling smile.  “Yes sir, I’ll get on it right away.  I can also start arranging travel plans if you like.”

            “By all means,” I said, trying my best to reciprocate her grin.  As she strolled purposefully out of my office I caught myself briefly wondering what things could have been like if I were an elected official and she an intern instead of our current positions.  I quickly shoved that thought aside, however.  Now that I finally had my golden ticket, the last thing I needed was a sexual harassment complaint.

Next chapter is here…..

RSM’s mail of the day, plus the best guard dog ever…

MOAR off topic than anywhere else….

We’re all terrible parents, depending on whom you ask…

Run right to win…

Unfortunately a false promise….

Free High Fantasy fiction….

Well, I guess they’re on the list of things….

Sloppy, sloppy…

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Nobody’s Heroes 3

This is my novel in progress; if you’re just starting, chapter 1 is here…

Chapter Three

Your Tax Dollars at Work

            I’d written my grant proposal and gotten my funds.  Not only had my initial grant been funded, it had been funded as a sort of sub-department, which meant that all of my funds had to be exhausted each year in order to ensure funding for the next fiscal year.  And since my supervisor had left me in charge of the project (six people was too small a fiefdom for his bureaucratic taste, and technically they were all his anyway as long as I kept them active) I was left in charge.  Of course that meant that after finding my six losers to be re-mediated into functioning federal law enforcement agents I had to spend the money to re-train them, and spend it fast. 

            If there’s one thing you learn in a hurry once you start work for the government, it’s how to spend other people’s money in a hurry.  I quickly realized that a standard program of training for law enforcement would be of little or no use.  First of all, at least two of my applicants had already been through standard law enforcement training, and I didn’t want to be bothered with trying to explain how sending them back through a regular training process again would be a new and enlightened approach.  I needed something bigger and grander, which would show that I was thinking “outside the box” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) so that the funds would be approved each year until I had my pension.  Additionally, I needed something more expensive.  Simply sending them to Quantico or some other government training facility wouldn’t count against my budget for this purpose anyway.  Some GS-13 or 14 at the training facility would find a way to make them count against his budget, thus requiring more money for his facility, and leave me with a dreaded surplus of cash.  I needed someone who would take my money (well, I thought of it as mine anyway) and be happy to have it.  And that was the rub.  No government agency was going to be of any assistance.

            I decided a brain-storming session was in order.  We’d been getting our new office set up (it was on the back side of the campus where we are still located, and for reasons you’ll come to understand I simply cannot disclose its location) and were having to do most of the work ourselves, since I wanted to get up, running and spending money in a hurry and building services were “occupied” for at least the next three months on other projects.  You could tell my group was not composed of typical government employees in that they were actually doing the work of setting up the office for themselves and were not grumbling, complaining or threatening to file a grievance.  I guess they were all so grateful for a second chance at government work that they figured they had just better do whatever they were told.  I could have told them how many union rules they were violating, but what would have been the point?

            Jack and David were handling most of the heavy lifting, lugging our requisitioned computers, office furniture and such into the building.  The binary duo were merrily connecting computers and setting up various types of office equipment, as well as making sure the computers had all types of software and high-speed connections, working at a speed I had never seen before from government peons.  Ruth was assisting the duo with the computers, and seemed to be trying to pick up as much information on the systems from them as she could as quickly as possible, which showed unusual initiative for a bureaucrat.  If only she would admit she was an African-American, she could go so far in this job.  Loren was, for her part, busily decorating the walls of the office with pictures of cats.  To break up the monotony of the subject she did at least include pictures of great cats and wild cats, so that we had leopards, lions, tigers, and various other felines gazing at us from all directions.  I found it a little creepy myself, but my requisition of motivational and inspirational posters had been held up by a cafeteria supervisor who had seniority and wanted them installed in her kitchen, so I was left with only cat posters.

            I called my group together and explained to them that although they were all rejects I still believed in them, and that they should all still believe in themselves and each other, and that if they could all just develop enough self-esteem then they could self-actualize and attain their true places in the wonderful world of government service.  With the pep session concluded, I then explained that I wanted to be the kind of boss who listened to his people and took their concerns and advice seriously, and that I was interested in hearing what they had to say about non-traditional training programs.  The fact of the matter was that I expected little out of them (they were rejects, after all) but I didn’t have a clue as to how to proceed myself.  I was only used to writing grants to beg for money, I’d never had to actually have a plan as to how to use it.

            I was, therefore, quite surprised at what followed next.  Ruth spoke up first.  “Actually, sir, Jack and I have been talking and I believe we may have an idea on that.  There is an outfit that both of us are familiar with that does this type of training.  They’re called the Darkwater Group, and they have a facility in North Carolina where they do all types of training similar to what you’re talking about.  Not only that, but they already do a great deal of business with the federal government, so we wouldn’t have to have them approved as contractors.  The only problem is that they are a private agency, and their training programs do tend to be rather expensive.”

            I was just barely successful at concealing my delight.  Of course Ruth, with her unfortunately naïve nature, was unaware of my desire to spend money; but in point of fact a pre-approved contractor in the private sector was just what I needed.  “All right,” I sighed, feigning disinterest, “I suppose this is worth hearing out.  After all, I don’t wish to be the kind of boss who stifles your creative impulses.  What can you tell me about this group?”

            “Well sir,” said Jack, “I worked with a lot of their people over in Iraq.  They’re all ex-military, and now they work as contractors all over the world.  It lets them make more money, and gives them the freedom to take on the kind of assignments they really believe in.  The head honchos are all former Navy SEALs, so the training they provide is first rate,” he said, and then with a smile added “at least for navy pukes.” 

            “I see,” I said, which more or less I did.  I definitely did not want my people thinking they were smarter than me, however, so I quickly racked my brain and then demonstrated my knowledge by adding, “so, Navy SEALs, like Steven Segal in that movie on the battleship.”  Jack gave me a funny look, like he was trying to understand someone speaking in a foreign language, which pretty much backed up my assessment of his intelligence.  Ruth, however, was quicker on the uptake and responded, “Yes sir, like that.  We could arrange all types of training at their facility, if you don’t mind approving the expense vouchers.”

            I decided it was best not to let them see that I was too happy with the idea, especially since it was not actually my own (I would have to tweak it enough to take credit for it later) so I told the group to finish setting up the office (after a lunch break, of course) while I consulted with my supervisor (as if) on Ruth and Jack’s suggestion.  I could tell already I was going to be able to spend all kinds of money.  My day was definitely looking up.

Next chapter here….

Stacy’s Mail has got it goin’ on…


Dynamite cannibal….

Say no to grifters….

Electioneering for fun and profit…

Because good men don’t play captain save a ho….

This starts in preschool…

More free sci-fi…


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Nobody’s Heroes 2

This is my novel in progress, chapter 1 is here:

Chapter Two

The Team

            One thing I decided early on was that I did not want to have a bunch of people around who actually knew what they were doing, especially law enforcement people.  They would constantly be coming up with ways to improve the program, make it more efficient, accomplish more good for the country, and generally create more work that I would actually have to do, which was not what I had in mind.  So instead I decided that my team would be a “remedial” group.  I would, in other words, recruit losers.  I figured this would not be too much of a problem, since being losers they would jump at the chance to work for the government in any position they could grab.  I was right about that much, but wrong about the rest.  My losers were both the worst mistake and biggest success of my career.

            I ended up with six people on my team, each chosen for having been a spectacular failure in his (or her, if you must) previous job.  What I failed to consider at the time is that the type of thing that can make a person a failure in a regular government job can make that person a stunning success most anywhere else. 

            My first two recruits were a pair of computer programmers who spent more time in their previous department hacking private records of various congressmen than actually doing whatever it was their jobs were supposed to have been.  They had been good enough to get a lot of interesting information, but had developed sufficient hubris to be sure that they would be caught while testing a new program the department called “ADVISE” to engage in data mining.  The only two things that saved them from lengthy prison sentences was that they covered their tracks well enough that it would have been difficult to convict them in open court, and that the information they had obtained was sufficiently embarrassing that no congressman involved wanted them going into an open courtroom.  So they were out of jail but also out of work, which meant they were happy to accept my offer to work in “domestic counter intelligence” as I called it.  I gave them the nickname of “the Binary Duo.”  I suppose each one should have had his own nick name, but you never saw one without the other around anyway, so I saved myself the effort of remembering an extra nickname.

            My next recruit was an attractive young woman named Loren Rindal who is, I believe, of Indian (the country, not Native American) descent.  Loren had graduated from law school with a view towards joining the F.B.I.  Although she was initially accepted to Quantico, she failed the academy due to her infatuation with cats.  It seemed that regardless of what type of situation she was in, and whatever task she was supposed to be working on, she would drop everything to save a kitten in distress.  This led to numerous cats finding a home in her dorm, and a failure to complete Quantico coursework due to her habit of volunteering her time at the local animal shelter.  I decided she would be an obvious choice for remediation, and so tolerated her presence in my office, even though she was usually covered in cat hair.  What I had failed to notice was that although she had been encouraged to leave the academy due to her zeal for felines outweighing her work ethic, her instructors had praised her abilities as a natural investigator, and that she had scored a “possible” (perfect score) on her marksmanship testing at the Quantico range, which meant if she ever decided to shoot someone she wasn’t going to miss. 

            Next I recruited a young fellow recently out of the Marine Corps by the name of Jack Lawrence.  Following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq, he had briefly been a police officer in a small town in Tennessee, but had been fired for using excessive force during his probationary period.  What caught my attention was that the “victim” of his excessive force had three prior arrests with two convictions for sex crimes against children, and that the only witness to the alleged assault had been the “victim’s” roommate, who had a court-documented fondness for kiddie porn himself.  Normally this complaint would probably have been tossed out, but the “victim” was an “undocumented” immigrant from El Salvador, and La Raza had pitched a fit and threatened a lawsuit, and the local mayor and police chief had decided that throwing this kid under the bus was easier than standing up to a pedophile and his civil rights group.  Jack was the first candidate I took who I believed actually had merit as a law enforcement agent, but I was feeling a little generous at this point thanks to my own good fortune of late. 

            Next up was another young man, this one a small, athletic-looking kid by the name of David Greenberg.  David had applied for various jobs with government intelligence, but had been turned down due to his failure to pass a security background check.  It turned out that his parents were Israeli citizens, and that David returned home from the States on a regular basis both to visit his family and to advance his rank in the martial art he practiced, something called “Krav Maga.”  I told him as far as I was concerned the best martial art of them all was kung fu, because Bruce Lee was to the martial arts what Elvis was to music.  David gave me a bemused look and asked me that if I really believed Bruce Lee was the greatest martial artist shouldn’t I really think “jeet” something or the other was the greatest martial art?  I could tell he was messing with me, but I was in a good mood so I let it pass.  I observed to David that it was unfortunate that he was a Jew of Israeli descent, because if instead he had been a Muslim immigrant from Saudi Arabia our current affirmative action policies would have guaranteed he would not have been turned away from working in U.S. intelligence.  He just gave me another bemused look, shook his head and sighed. 

            The sixth and final member of my team was by far the most interesting.  She was a petite, extraordinarily lovely, young, African-American woman.  Except that you didn’t dare say so, at least not the last part.  Ruth Smith, as I came to find out, was a very unusual un-African African-American.  It seems that she had attended some little podunk school known as Hillsdale College, graduated third in her class with a double major in computational mathematics and history, and had applied to the National Security Agency.  On her application, however, she had refused to fill in the “voluntary” section for affirmative action which would have required her to disclose her race and sex.  Upon being questioned, she advised her recruitment officer that her race was human and that her sex was irrelevant to the performance of her job.  Her recruiter, who had been eagerly anticipating signing up a young African-American woman, advised her that filling out the section in question would actually give her career a great boost since affirmative action would benefit her in every way.  Ruth advised her recruiter that she was not “African-American” but rather an American who happened to have dark skin, and that she would not participate in any program that promoted her for any cause other than merit.  Her recruiter had a quota to fill of course, and since Ruth wasn’t going to help him meet it he declined her application, even though she was, on an objective basis, the most talented applicant.  I didn’t have a quota to meet myself, and she was easy on the eyes, so I figured “why not?”   

Part 3 is here….

Pence lets us down again…

The NFL hates you….

The Maltese Flamers…..

VDH weighs in….

Free Sci Fi….

SIW aren’t…

4 nickels….

From the land down under…

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Nobody’s Heroes 1

In the immortal words of Monty Python, “And now, for something completely different.”

Some years ago I decided to write a novel in a month for some challenge or the other. I’m going to post it in sections here; should you find the writing terrible that’s okay, I’m not a professional writer and my ego isn’t (too) caught up in this. Of course if you like it, that’s even better. Either way, feel free to leave a comment for or against this sort of literary endeavor. All characters are of course fictional, and none of the events really took place. The year that none of this happened was 2007, which should give a handy reference for some of the activities described.

Nobody’s Heroes

A Novel


            So here I am, shaking like the last leaf on the tree in a cold December wind, clutching a .45 and wondering just how I will die.  My friends overcame the failures they had to endure, and now I’ve done the worst thing possible.  I’ve failed them.  At least one is already dead; I don’t know how many others are still alive.  The only reason I know any of them are still alive is because I can still hear the chatter of gunfire in the cavernous cargo holds around me.  Soon it will all be over, and in all likelihood we’ll all be dead, and I can’t believe how badly I let them down.  If we fail in our mission, which looks more and more likely by the moment, enough people will die to wipe the memory of 9/11 out of the nation’s collective consciousness forever, and if we succeed the best I can hope for is that we all go to prison for the rest of our lives.  So somehow I’ve got to steady my hands and step through that door and kill as many of the suicidal zealots who are intent on destroying my country as I can.  I know that I’m not up to the task, that I’m not good enough, but there’s no one else to do it now, and I can only hope and pray I find a few of my friends still alive when I get there.

Chapter One

How Things Got Started

            When I was a kid, I loved comic books.  That does not, of course, make me at all special or unusual for an American male.  Quite frankly, I am not really special or unusual in any meaningful way.  Although the story I have to tell is about heroes, I myself have no super powers.  What I do have is an active imagination, several co-workers who have become close friends and who do possess many unusual abilities, and by a complete accident of bureaucratic mismanagement, access to large sums of money.   But what I’ve come to understand is that there is something more valuable than my friends’ abilities or my access to money.  That something is the value of failure.  Because six people who were by all accounts failures in their chosen pursuits in life taught me something I once knew as a kid, but had forgotten somewhere along the way.  Heroes are often, maybe even always, seen as failures by most people, until the time comes when they actually do what no one else thought possible.  Heroes are heroes because they take the failures that break most other people and surmount them.

            That, of course, brings me to the situation we’ve found ourselves in, an intelligence operation on the verge of becoming a major international disaster.  Normally, when you hear about an intelligence operation, it means something has gone wrong.  The best intelligence operations are never in the news.  The 9/11 attacks were all over the news because various intelligence agencies got caught with their pants down for a variety of reasons.  Actually, that’s not entirely true.  The main reason they got caught with their pants down is because the people in charge of the executive branch through most of the nineties did not trust government intelligence agencies, and so treated them like a bunch of red-headed step children.  Janet Reno’s infamous “wall of separation” which prohibited intelligence agencies within the same branch of the same government from sharing information is one of the main reasons the 9/11 hijackers were successful.  But that, of course, is hindsight, and in all fairness the history of government intelligence agencies is riddled with examples of reasons they could be regarded as untrustworthy.

            So yes, eventually this story will be about a team of heroes.  Just give me a little time to explain how they came to be heroes, and how I came to be the leader and mastermind of their team, despite my rather pronounced lack of any extraordinary abilities.  It all started in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when President Bush and congress created the Department of Homeland Security.  I have worked for years under the Under Secretary for Science and Technology.  Unlike many of my former superiors, I do have an actual college degree from a real university.  In point of fact I have a B.S. in “poultry science” (chicken farming) from Texas A&M.  Mostly I went to Texas A&M for the parties, and wound up majoring in chicken farming purely by accident. (I actually meant to sign up for political science, but once I was already in class I decided it was easier staying put than trying to change all the paperwork). Having earned a degree in chicken farming, but having no desire to actually run a chicken farm (if you’ve ever smelled one you don’t have to ask why) I did the natural thing and went to work for the government, mostly in telling chicken farmers who actually ran chicken farms what to do.  After a while I discovered I had a talent for grant writing, which is the government term for a professional beggar.

            Now if you want to get ahead in government jobs, the most important thing you have to do is bring more money into your department.  Few things are more valuable at bringing in money than a good grants writer, so I found that my skills were actually in high demand.  Since my degree was, technically, in the field of science I ended up working in the Science and Technology office, which was folded into the Department of Homeland Security.  After the foul ups of the way Katrina was handled several of the department’s directorates were audited, and to say the Senate didn’t care for the way Science and Technology was being run was an understatement.  People were losing their jobs all around me, and while I seemed to be permanently stalled at my GS-12, I definitely didn’t want to lose my federal pension.  That’s when my idea came to me.

            Another directorate within homeland security is the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.  Ever since CSI and its various spin offs and knock offs hit it big on television, everybody in law enforcement wants to be a scientist.  So I took my science degree and grant writing skills and made a proposal to a supervisor in the law enforcement training group.

            I proposed a program “To co-ordinate, in as efficient a manner as reasonably possible, while in keeping with all relevant federal, state and local laws, ordinances, mandates and policies, the creation of a group of cross-trained professionals who will endeavor to negate imminent hostilities against the United States, by means voluntary or involuntary, in keeping with all appropriate judicial decisions regarding the gathering and usage of intelligence relating to organizations who may be reasonably suspected of constituting an imminent threat to domestic national security.”  The supervisor in question virtually swooned at my gobbledygook, envisioning the dollars that would roll in thanks to his new scientific grant writer, while I happily considered the fact that my mandate was so ridiculously broad as to allow me to do whatever I wanted, which in all honesty was as little as possible.  I do, after all, work in Washington, D.C.

            What happened next was both good and bad.  My grant proposal was a modest success.  It brought in enough money to fund research and the development of a group, but was small enough that my current supervisor had bigger fish to fry.  All of which meant he left me in charge of the project and the money.  Now you have to understand, the first rule of money in any government bureaucracy is that you absolutely, positively must spend every last cent you receive, and then complain that you still do not have enough.  If you do not spend your money then you will not get it again in the next budget.  If, on the other had, you treat frugality as if it were a cockroach and spend every last cent allotted to your office then you will receive even more money in the next budget.  So all I had to do was spend money like a drunken sailor and I could sail through to retirement.


Atlanta ain’t Portland…

Meth heads all around….

Let’s you and him fight….

Didn’t even have four wheel drive….

Maintain your frame….

Keep praying….

This does make some sense….

Gas stoves are racist….

This has to end….

Remember this….

It isn’t in the eye of the beholder…

On scam artists….

Made it even worse maybe, but it was already ruined….


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Braces of Insurrection

So, the ATF, at the bidding of President Biden, has issued a new regulation that pistol braces are now verboten, unless the owners of such braces apply for and receive a special government issued stamp, which requires much paperwork, a fair amount of money, and an abandonment of personal privacy. The owners of these pistol/brace combinations, who purchased them completely legally and in good faith are, unsurprisingly, more than a little irritated with this non-congressional edict. How ought we view this edict, its implications, and how should we respond?

First of all, please understand that I do not currently, nor have I ever, owned a firearm that falls under the definition of the pistols/sbrs that has the ATF all hot and bothered. I have no personal property at stake in the current kerfuffle, although I believe it’s reasonable to believe that at some point this action might somehow be expanded to some of my property. So while I do not directly have skin in the game, I definitely have a vested interest in the outcome.

According to the data being bandied about, there are currently somewhere between 10-40 million sbr/pistol/brace combinations legally owned in the United States. That’s a pretty big gap right there, as the government doesn’t know if it’s 10 or 40 million. I foresee a certain difficulty with that uncertainty. Let’s just take the middle, and call it 25 million. The Federal Government has just told the American people that they have 120 days to register, turn in, destroy or alter (barrel length) some 25 million firearms which they (the people) purchased completely legally. This edict was given without any Congressional approval or action whatsoever, which calls the matter into further doubt. So, where are the Feds going with this crazy train?

Well, for starters, the BATFE has a grand total of 5,093 total full time employees. Not agents/special agents/field agents, but employees total. Secretaries included. Maybe they can rustle up some help? The FBI has a grand total of 36,149 employees. Once again, not gun-totin’, rootin’-tootin’ super special agents, but total employees. That means that if every single employee of both agencies, working together, drop all work of every type and do nothing else, there are 606 sbrs for every single fed. Those are bad odds. Downright unworkable, in point of fact.

Let’s say, for argument sake, that the owners of all 25 million sbrs decide to adhere to this edict, and over the course of the next 120 days submit the paperwork for all 25 million firearms to receive NFA stamps. If every single employee of the BATFE focuses on processing those applications, and no one does any other work, that will be 4,908 applications to be processed by each and every employee of the BATFE. That, my friends, is also downright unworkable.

So, in the face of non-cooperation or over cooperation, what might we expect President Biden to do? Well, we need to take a few factors into account. First of all, we know that the President is currently besieged by investigations into his own (alleged) misconduct concerning classified docs, tax evasion, etc. He’s in a jam, and needs a way out. What to do? Create an insurrection, then invoke the insurrection act.

Should Biden invoke the Insurrection Act, he could deploy troops on U.S. soil to enforce federal law. A mass refusal to follow federal regulations on “assault” weapons would be an occasion to use the IA that both the media and the Democrat Party would fully embrace. And it would certainly take the focus off what lurks in the closets of Biden’s garage.

How should we respond? NOT by shooting at U.S. soldiers. Anyone telling you to do that is almost certainly Ray Epps. Using violence towards soldiers/marines to resist an illegal registration requirement sounds like a good idea only to those with an IQ lower than room temperature and even less common sense.

If you want to resist directly, get with either the NRA and/or GOA and join a class action lawsuit. There is every chance this gets tied up in court before the 120 days is up, but we need to think about all possible outcomes. Even though it’s a pain, consider getting together with as many brace owners as possible and flooding the BATFE with more paperwork than they can process. But DO NOT even talk about shooting law enforcement or troops, and avoid anyone who does. Ray Epps wants more scalps, and he’ll be happy to take yours.

More thoughts on this later.

Biden and Sharpton, sittin’ in a tree…..

Trudeau gets stoned…..

Science is late to the party….

Because they’re not brave enough to rock the boat, that’s why….


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