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Rose
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PostSubject: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Sun Nov 08, 2009 3:24 pm

1. Google has really got a hard on for Sesame Street's anniversary.

2. The Ft Hood shooter is raising a lot of questions.

3. Remember the A/C basement flooding I had? A new unit (A/C & furnace) was installed Friday. And I mean ALL DAY Friday. They were here before 8 am and didn't leave until nearly 9 that night. It's a Trane this time and it sits in a pan with a flood detector that shuts the thing down. That closes out an entire money market account....but we knew it was coming.

4. My friend and her daughter are taking Deanna to see that body exhibit today. Dee really wanted to go but neither Rob or I had an interest in seeing dead people. Just too creepy. Yet none of the people going to this would go to a haunted house with me!

5. I have 5 Christmas presents wrapped already.

6. Yesterday was Katie's birthday. I am full of stuffed to the gills with cake and ice cream.

7. We are going to my in-laws for Thanksgiving. I am not looking forward to it. But it beats being with my family.

8. Do I really need an 8?

9. We hauled 3 large tarp loads of leaves around back yesterday.

10. I want to hear 10 things from you.
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baldar77
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Sun Nov 08, 2009 4:53 pm

1. My new hot water heater is working great. I put it in last night and today, after the old one started leaking.

2. I'm writing a story.....I think I passed the 15,000 word mark last night around 2am

3. Daisy (dog) had a reaction to her insulin day before yesterday.....I had to squirt sugar water down her....it took about three minutes, and she was fine.

4. My physical I had last week on vacation came back ok.....even the chest xray.

5. I repainted the downstairs bathroom last week also, at insistence from my wife, in preparation for our grand gala thanksgiving feast invasion.

6. Went grocery shopping today with wife and daughter....now I'm full of roast beef and ice cream.

7. Am thinking of legally changing my name to Titus Gluteous Maximus and becoming a gladiator.

8. Redid all my screen names and passwords on financial accts after a virus attacked me last week.

9. Caught one mouse in the basement the other night.....found out peanut butter DOES work better than cheese.

10. Cleaned out my truck.

8.
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Rose
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Sun Nov 08, 2009 5:50 pm

We need a new hot water heater, too. The old's working but it's way old. Rob says he's going to get to it next weekend. We might have a new one by next year.

Do we get to read the new story?

Good news on the chest xray, you smoker, you.

We used peanut butter on a cracker in our squirrel trap.
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Sun Nov 08, 2009 6:01 pm

The story is kinda in it's first stages, and needs a sound rewrite, but I've got the general premise down. It could also use some critiquing and constructive criticism, as I'm seriously thinking about submitting it for publication, although you will probably not like it's premise, which is set about 15 years in the future, with a massive societal breakdown
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Sun Nov 08, 2009 6:10 pm

Baldar shrugged?
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Sun Nov 08, 2009 6:12 pm

LOL
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Sun Nov 08, 2009 6:13 pm

nonono.....if it were anything like that, it would be "titus" shrugged......Roman....not Greek.
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:03 pm

This is the opening chapter, if you're interested......





The old house appeared ready to fall down with the slightest gust of wind. It's roof was sagging precipitously, it's outer walls visibly leaning outward. Several broken windows patched with old newspapers were visible, as was the cracked and crumbling foundation. By all rights, it should have been rendered uninhabitable. On the front porch, Cassie Hoskins sat in her rocking chair, her bare feet flexing toe to heel on the cracked boards of the dilapidated veranda, slowly propelling the old rocker back and forth.
Like the user, the rocker had seen better days, showing bare wood, and desperately in need of a coat of paint, and possibly a nail or screw where some lattice was coming undone. In years past, it would have been considered a cherished adornment to an old country porch, but now it had the look of tired oldness, a piece that probably would have found it's way to a landfill in better times. The creaking of the boards on the sagging wooden porch as the rockers transferred her weight forward, then backward, were the only sounds to be heard in the hot, dry afternoon air. The sun, almost directly overhead of the old house, beat down like a hammer, slowly oxidizing the few remnants of old paint that still clung to the splintered boards and rafters. August had set in with a vengeance, and had not given one second of relief to the insufferable heat. As Cassie looked down the dusty lane that she shared with two other tattered houses, she could see Mr. Bates flailing around in his garden with an ancient wood and metal hoe, fighting a losing battle with the onslaught of weeds overtaking the two rows of corn that he had planted in his side yard that spring, and that were absolutely refusing to grow any higher than his crippled stooped shoulders.
"Pitiful" she thought to herself, as she absentmindedly brushed a fly buzzing her face. "The old fool should realize by now that no rain equals no corn. He needs to start hauling his ass down to the creek with a bucket." She felt a twinge of sympathy, as she realized that the coming winter would be rough for him, perhaps a lot more than rough, if his garden didn't produce enough to carry him through till the following spring. Although they had never been friendly, and rarely spoke to one another, "mainly because of his ornery nature and basic dislike for humanity or anything else that took breath," she thought, he had never caused her concern or strife. They occasionally traded garden and other neccesity items, but rarely did any conversation go past the immediate bartering ritual, probably due more to Cassie's dislike of Bates rather than Bates dislike of everything. They both had lived on this dirt track for most of their lives.....the only two people for that matter the past several years, and it was as if one were cat, and one were dog living in the same house. They tolerated each other, but demanded and protected their own territory, daring the other to invade. "Crusty old fart" she said softly under her breath.
She turned her attention to the other house, only a few yards down, and across the lane in the opposite direction, located at the end of the lane before it merged with the main crossroads to town, where Little Bill Creek ran, a rough, rock strewn malaise of water that wandered for two miles down to Big Bill Creek, where it finally emptied it's meager mosquitoe-laden load. The three-story old farmhouse had been overrun by nature years ago, and was now just a shell of it's former glory, sprouting pine seedlings from it's innards that strained to push through what was left of the roof, and an overgrown yard of reclaiming forest that threatened to envelop it like a cocoon. Cassie could see where the attic joists were exposed, could see the dead branches of the huge oak tree that had taken half the roof off sticking out from what used to be the inside of the attic, now just a convenient playground for the squirrels and raccoons that overran the property. A flock of displaced city pigeons had taken roost on one side, and Cassie could see the discoloration down what remained of the facing wall, now covered in guano, and the nests of insects that fed upon it.
She remembered the storm that had done the damage, had wreaked such destruction upon the old farmhouse.....and her little town...as if the town had needed any more wrath cast upon it. "Lordy.....has it only been six years since that happened? It seems like half a lifetime!" she thought, and immediately let a wry smile cross her face, causing the already deep wrinkles around her eyes and mouth to purse, and accentuate her age.
At sixty-eight, Cassie was the oldest living person in Perthville, population around 1200, and rapidly declining, situated in the Tahoe region of Nevada. As the smile faded from her face, she winced, and shifted her weight in the old rocker, trying to alleviate the spasm of pain that took hold of her. She thought about how much time had passed in her grief-stricken life, how time, measured by just a clock, was a constant thing, but measured in the reality of misery or happiness, could crawl at a snail's pace, or fly like a raptor. "Haven't had much raptor part lately" she mused. Another spasm, and Cassie stopped rocking,and slowly, begrudgingly lifted her rear from the seat of the ancient chair, bracing herself with her withered hands on the arms of the rocker, and held herself a few inches above the seat.
For almost a minute, she held the position, and an onlooker observing the action would have been able to tell there was distress by the obvious look of pain contorting her weathered face. Finally, there was the sound of passing gas from underneath her, a long, slow jetty of air ejected in a steady stream of sound and putrid smell. As relief flooded back into her face, she timidly let her rear settle back into the seat of the old rocker, gingerly trying to place her buttocks in a comfortable position....at least as comfortable as she could get them....and finding the position she was seeking, planted her feet on the old boards of the porch, and once again started her rhytmic rocking back and forth.
"It shouldn't be too long now" she thought. "Perhaps December.....maybe February". "Doc" Jones gave her that prognosis back in May, and so far, his estimation of the diseases' progress had been right on. He wasn't really a doctor....a medical professional.....but had worked in a hospital in Reno for a few years when there were still hospitals, processing lab reports in an oncology unit. It was the closest thing Perthville had to anyone medically educated, and people always went to him for advice for their ailments. He was usually right with his diagnoses, especially with those concerning terminal diseases. He had an eerie knack for it, "almost supernatural" Cassie thought to herself. He could look at a person's eyes, look at their fingernails and toenails, stick a wet finger up their ass, and "Voila"! 'You got diabetes, Mrs Dunn'....or 'you got clogged arteries, Mr Pope.' The diagnosis he had given her was bowel and colon cancer, and fairly advanced. He had said six to eight months.....and it looked like that was what it was going to be, give or take a few weeks. 'Go home and take two aspirin, Mrs Hoskins, and die.'
A small bead of perspiration trickled down her forehead, caused by both the heat and her recent effort, and as she reached up to wipe it off, she let her eyes close. As she sat there, still rocking, her mind drifting, the memories started flooding into her. They were the only thing she had left, the only thing that gave her solace.....the only thing that gave her more pain than the cancer eating it's way throughout her. She thought of her son, Bradley. How long had he been gone now....nine years?....or was it ten? Her little granddaughter, Melissa, that sweet joyful child, always a smile, always happy, a never ending display of energy and exuberance, a cherub face and blond pigtails, eyes that could melt the hardest of hearts....caught up along with her father and mother, caught up in the strife and carnage of "the troubles", that generic, antiseptic term that everyone used now to describe the murder of a nation.
"Almost certainly dead" she thought to herself "hardly anyone survied those terrible times in the big cities....especially the little ones." She felt the sudden spasm of constriction in her throat, and choked down the sob that was about to explode from her. "Ain't no sense in cryin' anymore" she thought. "Done plenty of that over the years." Her eyes opened again, and she uttered a mild epitath as she felt the wetness around her lids. She took her right hand off the arm of the old rocker, and reached up to wipe the salty liquid away. She missed her son, but she particularly grieved for Melissa, and thought of the last time she had seen her, so many years ago....
It had been the last birthday party Cassie ever attended. Melissa had turned 7, and she and her mother and father had traveled from Reno to hold a party for her at "Grammy's". The back yard was full of children, when children were still common, running and playing, doing what young children do. There was no birthday cake....no ingredients to make one...., and the presents that were offered were all homemade. Times were bad, and even if there were money for a cake and presents, there was no where to buy them.
The nation had been in a depression for four years, fighting three wars in the mideast, and one in Korea. "Wars are supposed to bring a country out of a depression," Cassie thought, "bring the people together as one, to work for, and help each other." Not this time. This time it had drained every resource, every dollar, every commodity, every ounce of good will in a person's soul.....until the whole nation teetered on collapse. There was no fuel, no energy to support commerce, no money left to finance it, and few qualified people left to run it. The nation's borrowing ability and credit rating had finally succumbed to the excesses of the first 20 years of the 21st century. Businesses went bankrupt, and like falling dominos, the failure of one would cause the failure of three more, until finally, there was little left to fail. The banking industry was in shambles, the financial industry ruined.
There was nothing the federal government could do to halt the fall. But in a final, desperate move, the congress authorized the "Borrowing Act of 2018" of all private financial accounts, including IRA's and 401K's. The Act authorized the confiscation of all gold, including jewelry and coins. It was the last act ever passed by a degenerate congress and signed by an incompetent President, before they disbanded themselves, and turned complete control of the country over to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making the country a military dictatorship. It was seen as coming, almost inevitable in the coming. It was the last gasping breath of a dying people, a doomed way of life. But it still pissed everyone off.
Conscription for the wars had taken most men from 16 to 35. Women from 18 to 28. The military controlled everything. There were not many young people left to fight the revolution that followed, but the ones that were left did so with determination, vengeance and with little mercy, with the additional help of their fathers and mothers, and their fathers and mothers. In six months, every member of congress that hadn't fled the country had been killed, some quite gruesomely. "Hanging Parties" became common, where anyone with any authority of government disposition were publicly flayed, hung and disembowled, usually with great cheers and exuberance. Within a year, the death toll of the insurrectionists reached over a million. Another six months, that number had doubled. A year later, by the fall of 2020 the rebellion, except for sporadic holdouts, had been quashed by the military junta, with a final official toll issued by the pentagon of over six million dead.
This official tally included only the armed fighters. It did not include the tens of millions who died of starvation and disease from blockades of entire cities, quarantines of whole states which the military would impose to contain, search, and control the populace. It did not include the millions of military personnel, both killed in the rebellion itself, or executed by their own leadership for refusing to fight the rebellion, and kill their own kin and countrymen. It did not include the millions who fled to Mexico and Canada, only to languish in the concentration camps set up to house the influx of refugees crossing those two borders, contained and restrained in horrible conditions, and eventually succumb to disease and starvation.. Unofficial estimates of the death toll would later be estimated at approximately half the population of the former nation.....over 150 million.....but that would never be verified, and was probably an understatement. There was no one with the resources to give an accurate count.
Cassie's granddaughter Melissa would be included in this toll, caught up in the turmoil of the riots of Reno that last deadly year, two weeks after her seventh birthday. Her son Bradley, Melissa's father, would also be dead, along with Sandra, her daughter-in-law. She had begged them to stay there with her, in relative safety in the hills of Perthville, and not return to the city. But it was not to be. Her son still had a job....a rare commodity in those days....and he wasn't about to give it away. They arrived back in Reno only a few days before it had been quarantined. What happened after that, Cassie could only speculate. No one was allowed in or out, and there was no news media to report. All communication, all information, was by word-of-mouth now and,she could only surmise that her family had either starved in the year long seizure, or was killed outright in the internal riots and lawlessness. Either way, the result was the same. She welcomed the coming winter, when she could rejoin them.
Out of the corner of her eye, Cassie saw Mr Bates standing in the middle of the lane they shared, hoe in hand, staring down it's length toward a lone figure making it's way slowly toward them. With each opposite step, Cassie could see a spray of dust kicked up by the figure. As he came closer, she realized that his left leg was not a leg at all, but a peg-leg, made of a tapered piece of wood, the kind the pirates of old novels used to wear when they had the misfortune of having had a leg hacked off by a sword, or blown off by a cannonball.
Mr Bates stood there, waiting, until finally the stranger was within talking distance. Brandishing his hoe as a potential weapon, he shouted at the stranger to turn around, and leave. The stranger stopped, not moving, apprising Bates and his hoe. Even with one leg, it was apparent that he had no fear of Bates, or his hoe, and stood there, looking at old Bates with no expression what-so-ever on his face. As he stood there, staring down the lane at the potential threat, he turned his head toward the side of the road where the underbrush was thick, obviously looking at something. "Perhaps a stick or some kind of weapon to challenge old Bates?" Cassie speculated. Finally, through the bushes, Cassie saw the object of the stranger's attention...a small figure.....an old dog, a mix of yellow lab and Lord knows what else...weave it's way through the brush, and settle in at the stranger's side, planting his rear on the dirt road and nuzzling the stranger's hand with his head, seeking a scratch on his ears. The stranger stooped down slightly with his good leg, bending slightly at the waist and rubbed the dog's muzzle, keeping his eyes on Mr Bates. "I don't mean no harm, mister. Me and my dog are just travelin' through. Don't mean no harm a'tall."
"Strangers ain't allowed here...turn yer ass round now, and jus' go way. We don't allow no strangers here. Too dangerous," Bates replied, holding the hoe just a little higher, indicating that he would be willing to use it if his command were not obeyed.
"Mister, ain't nothin left back that way. My dog's thirsty and hungry, and I'm pretty much the same way. There's a creek right up the road there, and we need some water. Won't be there but a few minutes, and we'll be on our way. I don't wanna fight ya. I just want a drink a' water."
Cassie watched Bates, figuring he would stand his ground. She knew he had no love nor liking for anyone, and was content keeping to his lone miserable existence. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, but was actually less than a minute, Bates lowered the hoe, spat on the dirt road, and walked the dozen steps or so back into his yard. "Don't linger....and don't ask for anything outta my garden." Bates returned to his hoeing, keeping a watchful eye on the stranger as he slowly trudged past his house, kicking up little shafts of dust with each step of his wooden leg. The dog dutifully kept by his side, a slight limp evident as he kept himself protectively between his human companion and Mr Bates. As they made their way to the front corner of Cassie's yard, the stranger cast a glance her way, looked down at the dirt road, and then glanced back up. "Afternoon, ma'am." he said lowly. Cassie watched him as he made his way down the lane toward Little Bill Creek. As he reached the back corner of the edge of her yard, she stood up, painfully aware of the cramping inside of her.
"Afternoon, young feller" she finally uttered. "Don't worry 'bout that filthy creek water....bring your dog up here. I'll get you some nice spring water....it's cool...and clean."
The stranger stopped, turned his face toward her with a grateful look, and said "Thank you, ma'am. It'll be much appreciated." He turned toward the porch, and made his way through the tangled weeds threatening to overgrow the front yard of Cassie's house, almost stumbling at one point when the end of his peg-leg entangled itself in a rash of scrub.
Cassie could see Bates standing there, watching. With a look of disgust and adorned disapproval, he shook his head, spat, and returned to his hoeing, muttering something that Cassie had not the good hearing to fathom, nor the desire to know what it might be. Cassie smiled. "Sit there on the steps, young feller. I'll bring you and your dog a nice cool drink....and maybe I can russle up something to eat." The stranger cast an appreciative look at Cassie as he settled onto the steps, stretching his wooden leg out to the bottom, relief settling into his face as the weight was taken off the stump. The dog sat beside him, seeking his hand, as Cassie walked strenuously into the house.
The stranger watched Cassie as she entered the doorway, and disappeared inside. Reaching into a pocket of his tattered shirt, he withdrew an old rag....the kind you used to find at gas stations.....and ran it across the back of his neck, and around to the front of his forehead, wiping off the sweat and accompanying grime that had accumulated from his trek. Satisfied with his effort, he slowly leaned back against one of the bare wooden support posts that held up the roof of Cassie's porch, let out a breath of air from his lungs, and let his eyes close. The old dog took cue from his master, and stretched out his lank frame next to him, edging tight against the strangers good leg, and keeping contact by nosing his muzzle into the stranger's hand. Instantly, the stranger was asleep, a light sleep developed by habit, senses still alert, but consciousness faded. It was the kind of sleep developed by people who were usually surrounded by danger, who needed to be up in an instant if need be, fully alert. The kind of sleep developed over millinea by ancient cavemen, travelers, soldiers, and passed down to the next generation by those who survived. It was the only kind of sleep that permitted someone in constant danger if they wished to see the next day, and the stranger excelled at it. His senses picked up the footsteps of Cassie as she approached the door leading to the porch. He opened his eyes, slightly refreshed from his minutes long nap, and turned his head as Cassie came through the doorway to the porch, a heaping platter of food in one hand, and an old plastic pitcher of water in another. The dog, who was watching her curiously with one eye open and the other closed perked his ears up instantly at the smell wafting from the platter. Cassie took a large bowl from the platter, and holding the pitcher of water in one hand, sat it next to the dog, and filled it to overflowing. The dog immediately arose on all fours, lowered his head to the bowl, and started lapping the cool water, making garrilous sounds as his tongue shot in and then withdrew, bringing the cooling liquid into his mouth. She next handed the stranger a large tumbler. As he reached up to grasp it from Cassie, she could see the torn, scarred flesh of his hand, and the remnants of what used to be an index finger. She filled the huge tumbler from the pitcher as he held it out, and after filling it, gingerly bent down, and set the still half full pitcher on the porch beside the stranger, who had already begun drinking from the glass. She then proceeded back to the table beside the rocker, grasped the platter with both hands, and sat it on the porch next to the stranger, opposite the side that the dog was on, who was still drinking copiously from his water bowl.
"It's just cornbread and fried rabbit, and some greens" Cassie intoned....."but it's good. My own special recipe. Eat as much as you want, you and the dog....I got plenty more rabbit where that come from."
The stranger acknowledged her invitation with "Thank you, ma'am. Bless you. I ain't et nothin' hardly in two weeks."
Cassie withdrew to her rocker, and watched the two. The dog's thirst had been quenched, and his interest was now obviously on the platter sitting beside the stranger. She watched as the stranger doled a generous portion to a plate, and set it in front of the dog, who immediately dove into it. She watched the two for the next half hour, drinking, eating, sharing the mound of food that had been given to them. Occasionally, the stranger would look up and say "ma'am, this is the best food I've ever had" or "this tastes so good". Finally, the dog could eat nor drink anymore, it's gullet filled to bursting. His eyes heavy, Cassie knew he was ready to splay himself out, and sleep deep. The stranger, leaving nothing to waste, took the last piece of cornbread, and swiped it though the small remnant of juices and gravy still remaining from the now consumed rabbits, and chewed it slowly, almost suckling it. Finally, done, he said "Oh Lordy ma'am.....that was good, so good. Thank you, I ain't et like that in I can't count the years....and my dog thanks you."
"You're welcome, young feller.....been a long time since I fixed anyone else a meal. Longer still since I actually enjoyed doing it. You're a soldier, ain'tcha?" Cassie inquired.
"Yes ma'am....well, used ta be, the stranger said. "Got discharged 'bout two months ago outta Los Angeles, where we was fightin' the Chinese.....no longer fit for duty", he replied, glancing down at his missing leg. Name's Griffin....Griffin Sanders....Grif. I was tryin' to get back to Colorado before....well, just tryin' to get back. That's where I'm originally from. Used to have family there, my mom, a little sister. Don't know if they're still there or not, don't even know if they're still alive, but I had no where else ta go, so I set out when the army cut me loose...bad for morale and all that to hang around...so they give me fifty new dollars, a weeks wortha food, and hitched a ride with an ammo convoy to the Nevada border. Been workin' my way North ever since. Picked up Spartan here along the way." he said, glancing at the now sleeping dog lying on the porch, obviously dreaming, with one leg twitching in pursuit of another rabbit. "That's the name I give 'im."
"Cassie Hoskins here, Grif....glad to meet'cha.....and he seems awfully devoted to you.....and protective. I think Mr Bates would've had to fight him off if'n he had tried at you with that hoe." Cassie said.
Griffin looked down sheepishly, and Cassie could see a small smile crease his face. "Yes ma'am, probably. He is awful protective. We've kinda looked out for each other since we met up. It's a harsh land out there in places, and some people would sooner slit your throat than spit on you. I bought 'im off an old farmer who was gonna put 'im down.....said he had heartworms, wouldn't live much longer anyway. Way I figure it though, let him live what's left, and then nature can take it's course. I guess we was just two of a kind, looking for somewhere to rest our head, maybe snag a drink and a meal from a kind lady on occasion" he said, looking up from the porch at Cassie, and nodding slightly toward her.
Cassie smiled back, acknowledging the compliment and gratuity. "If I may ask, Griffin....Grif.....how did you lose your leg? I would assume it was during your duties as a soldier, but I sometimes assume too much, and the wrong thing at that!"
"No ma'am, you assume right. I lost it several months back. I took a piece of shrapnel in it from a Chinese grenade in Los Angeles. It really wasn't that bad....it cut right through my lower calf....didn't even hit the bone, just tore a piece of flesh out. The medic patched it up, gave me a shot of antibio, and sent me on my way. Problem was, I found out later that the meds had been cut. I got maybe a fourth of the dose I shoulda....lots of shortages now, especially with meds. I didn't even know it was infected for a coupla days, till I took the bandage off. It was red and swollen, but I'd had that before, it didn't worry me none. I just slapped another field dress on it, and kept on. After another day, I knew I'd fu....uh.....messed up, and shoulda went back to the medic, but by that time it was too late.....it started turning black on the edges, and was a dark purple in the wound itself. By the time I got to the med tent the next day, it was pretty much too late. They didn't wanna waste the meds on something that was sure to fail, so they gave me a choice of amputation, or a lethal injection. I'm sittin' here talking to you now, so you pretty much know what my choice was.....".
"They actually give lethal injections now to our soldiers?" Cassie asked, incredulous.
"Yes ma'am, Griffin replied. 'specially if they know you're a lost cause. Frees up time for the docs, which there are precious few, and conserves on resources. They started that a few years back, when things started getting really tight, and the wounded and dying were coming in by the thousands. Compared to the folks we're fighting, we actually got it pretty good. They dispatch their wounded right there on the battlefield, unless they can get right back up and keep fighting. Don't even use a bullet, just a knife across the throat. Barbaric bastards, they are. 'Scuse me, ma'am, don't mean to use any foul language in front of you like that."
"Fuck that shit" Cassie replied. I've heard and spoke a lot more of that language than you could ever dream!"
Griffin burst out laughing, waking Spartan who was lying beside him, his muzzle under Griffin's hand. "Hey boy, how ya feelin' with your belly full and a nice place to nap" Griffin asked rhetorically to the old dog, and getting a lick from a rough tongue on his hand in response. "You feelin' back up to travel again, fella?" Spartan looked up at his human idol, eyes seeking comprehension from his voice, and in answer laid his head back onto the veranda, now shaded from the worst of the sun as it settled over the forest across the lane, and noticeably starting to cool off.
"You just sit and rest a spell, Grif...you and the dog. It looks like you sorely need it, and I kinda enjoy Bates being pissed off by you being here." Cassie said, and then gave a small laugh. "It's one of the few pleasures in my life, and I'd like to savor it for a mite. Lay yourself out beside Spartan there....seems he knows what he wants, and needs."
"Yes ma'am", replied Grif, "I'd be surely happy to help you in that regard. Spartan surely don't mind" he finished, glancing down at the again sleeping dog, a small sound of snoring coming from his muzzle. "I'm awful thankful ma'am, for the respit." Closing his eyes against the lowering sun, Grif took cue from his dog, leaned his head against the porch pillar, closed his eyes, and went into that light sleep he had become accustomed to.
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Rose
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:32 pm

Ooooooh, I liked it very much. Not so bleak and hopeless as The Road or as supernatural as The Stand. You've got a knack for writing, baldar, and I wish you good luck with your efforts at getting published.

Feel free to share as much as you like, if you aren't concerned with putting unpublished content out on the world wide web where it might be pilfered.
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baldar77
Sinfully Hard... To Please
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Sun Nov 08, 2009 8:23 pm

nah, I don't have any concern about that......who would publish an unknown amatuer, anyway. Feel free to criticize, if you'd like. I am thinking about changing the part describing what caused it all to a prologue of some sort.....I don't like the "technical' part in with the human part. I'm open to suggestions.
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baldar77
Sinfully Hard... To Please
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Sun Nov 08, 2009 8:29 pm

Here's the rest of what I have so far.......


The man was found lying off the side of the road at the edge of a shallow gully, face down, dressed in rough denim. The blood from his wounds had dried, soaking the upper half of his shirt into a stiffness similar to old corrugated cardboard. His eyes were open, staring blankly down into the gully, as if he were looking at something. But the only thing to look at was dirt and brush, a few insects, and the occasional field mouse traveling down his own private highway in search of a nice roly-poly bug meal.
A few crows sat in a stunted cottonwood tree across the gully, barking their raucous caws of displeasure, wondering if the two men dressed in brown jumpsuits standing over their meal would eventually depart, and leave them to their banquet. Their curiosity was answered when the two men rolled their potential supper over onto his back, searched his pockets, scanned and stripped him, and then proceeded to cover the man with dead brush, piled high over and around him. Soaking it all in a flammable liquid from an old 2-liter Coca Cola bottle, the men stepped back, lit a match, and threw it onto the makeshift pyre. Instantly, flame swept through the debris covering the man, and within half a minute, a pillar of flame reached high into the evening sky, belching blistering hot black smoke at it's pinnacle.
The two men watched the fire do it's work until it had burned down into redhot embers, the outline of the consumed dead man barely visible in the black ashes. As the sun started it's descent into the horizon, the two men each grabbed a shovel from the saddle of their horses, and as the embers cooled, allowing them to get close, started shoveling loose dirt over the outline. Within five minutes, the outline had been covered, now appearing as nothing more than a mound of dirt. The crows in the cottonwood tree once again voiced their displeasure at the two men, and then took wing, trying to beat the oncoming blackness of night in search of another meal. Making sure the remaining embers burned out before departing, one man reached into a saddlebag, withdrew a bottle containing a yellow/brown liquid, and sat down, sharing the bottle with the other, passing it back and forth as the embers slowly flickered out one by one.
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"Griffin.....wake up!" Cassie said from her rocking chair.
Instantly, the stranger was awake, senses alert. "Yes ma'am.....is anything wrong?"
"No Grif.....not as far as I know. You were talking in your sleep, and seemed agitated. I just wanted to wake you up....stop the nightmare you were having."
Grif wiped his eyes, and instinctively sought the sun for it's position. It was close to dusk, he reasoned, though the sun was now behind the thick forest on the other side of the lane, out of Grif's line of sight. Spartan still lay beside him, next to his leg, nuzzling his hand for an ear rub. "Getting on to nighttime.....I want to thank you for your hospitality ma'am, but I'd best be getting off to find somewhere to rest for the night before it gets too dark."
Well, Grif, that's a matter I wanted to talk about..... It hasn't been too wise to take on to strangers the last few years....too much danger....but you seem to be a good enough boy. I wouldn't think I'd have to worry about you too much. Why don't you stay in the barn out back of the house tonight, you and Spartan. It's comfortable enough, but I have to admit, it smells like rabbit shit back there....that's where I raise them....you know, like the ones you just ate a coupla hours ago."
"Oh ma'am, that would be great, if you're sure you don't mind. I haven't slept under a roof since leaving the army. I won't be no bother, and I promise not to make no trouble."
"Good! That's settled then," Cassie stated. "You and Spartan sleep in the barn tonight. You can also accompany me to town this evening....it's just down the road about a half mile, and tonight is "electric night"."
"Electric night?' Grif queried....."what's that?"
"Well", Cassie explained, "John Hawkins started building a dam across Big Bill Creek a few years back. Not the best dam ever built, but it holds back the water. He salvaged an old turbine in Reno, rebuilt it with old scrap parts he scrounged around for. Installed it in the dam. Now, every Saturday night, after the water backs up with enough force from the dam, he lets it pour through, it powers the turbine.....and....damn it Grif.....we got electricity for about four or five hours, till the creek empties out. We hadn't had electric around here since Hoover Dam went down, and now, well hell ...it's like a party atmosphere for a little while. Old light bulbs lit up, some old TV's in store fronts playing old videos and disc movies, old songs being played over old CD players....Everything's old, but it brings a joy to the people. It's a regular social once a week, a time when people can get together, forget their problems, and just be people again. And sometimes we can get some updated news over the national radio, how the wars are going, if we've been invaded by anyone else, or if we kicked anyone's ass out. Even hold a church service for those inclined to attend. The MR updates us on anything new from Omaha....that's our new National Capitol, in case you hadn't heard. St Louis is officially gone, so they had to move it again. Anyway, it's just a night to have fun, get reacquainted, trade and barter, watch young people dance, what young ones are left. It's a good time."
"Yes ma'am, it sounds like it. I'd be pleased to go....I ain't ever seen a dance, and ain't seen a movie since I was a kid, except training ones in the army. You think people will be scared to be around me, being unknown to them and all?"
"No, not once they see you with me. They're a suspicious lot, to be sure, but they're also good people, for the most part. Once they see you around a little bit, it'll be ok. Just don't say too much, and stay away from the ones who drink their homemade hooch. And yes, Spartan can come along" seeing the question echoing in his eyes and answering it before he could ask.
Griffin smiled, almost a grin, but not quite. "Thank you, ma'am. When do we go" the excitement building in his voice, almost like a child looking forward to Disney World in days past.
"Soon's we clean up a bit. I got an old shirt upstairs that'll fit you, and I gotta get outta this old house dress and put on something a little fresher....and put on some shoes," she said, almost an after-thought, looking down at her bare feet. "Go check out your lodgings out back. You'll find plenty of water back there to clean up a little, and I'll bring a fresh shirt out to you when I'm done."
"Yes ma'am"......and Cassie could see the excitement in him as he arose from the porch, did a "clk clk" with his tongue to Spartan, and hobbled around the house to check out the barn, Spartan dutifully following.
==================================================================
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The walk from Cassie's house into town would have been about a fifteen minute walk for most people. A man with a wooden leg, and an old woman having to stop every few minutes because of terminal cancer takes a little longer. As the two made their way slowly toward Perthville, the sun had finally found it's way to the horizon, and was getting ready for bed. Spartan was keeping pace with their progress snooping in the bushes, and ferreting out small creatures to either bark at, or half-heartedly chase, his spirit willing, but his old legs not up to task for anything more than a few yards. Grif kept a steady eye on his activities, and made sure he didn't wander too far into the forest lining the road to town. As the small town came into view, he could see the outlying buildings....it was more just a cluster of haphazard, randomly placed structures, none more than four stories high, than a town, but it served it's purpose for the people that lived there. He noticed the rundown look of everything he passed, small houses that had been burned out, or collapsed into rubble. The former commercial buildings stood mostly empty. An old Subway store stood open, it's door gone, the maw leading inside showing a mixture of black and gray nothing. Anything of value had long ago been taken to be reused in another function, or simply destroyed by the elements or the townsfolk. Across from the Subway, standing in the shadow of the setting sun, sat a small strip mall, old signs of business still displaying what used to be the hub of the business community in Perthville. "MARTIN'S INSURANCE/Car-Home-Life." "BANK of PERTHVILLE", with a small banner still hanging that said CD's available, now paying 32.5%. The part of the sign that had the percentage was removeable, similar to the old gas station signs with removeable pricing numbers before they went digital. "DOLLAR GENERAL", it's huge bay window broken out, it's interior home to weeds and scrub, due to the collapsed roof letting rain and sun in to nurture the hardy plants. Occasionally he would notice people inside the defunct stores, the smell of wood burning and meals being cooked, wash hung out to dry, strung on wire or rope between makeshift poles. As they continued their walk into the heart of the small town, he saw a few small children playing, or carrying out assigned chores. But mostly, he saw adults, some finishing up their daily activities, some just sitting on the broken sidewalk on old desk chairs, a few clustered groups where hushed sounds of talk would waft on the cooling evening air. He saw glances cast his way, mostly suspicious in nature. Once, two men started their way, obviously to confront Grif, but a terse admonition from Cassie of "He's with me" stopped them, and left them staring after the couple as they continued to walk. As the sun made a final gasp of breath before sinking into temporary oblivion, an old church bell started pealing it's message to the townfolk. Cassie spoke to Grif, telling him that that meant it was time to gather in the old town square, and as she spoke those words, Grif saw people start to pour out from the buildings, a light air about them, happy to obey the calling of the bell which continued ringing for perhaps a minute. As the last echos of the peals reverberated around the now darkened town, the people were thronged around them, sharing the space of the square in harmony, and muted excitement and conversation. Cassie said one word...."Watch!"
Suddenly, the square lit up in a bright kalideoscope of color and light, and the cheers of almost a thousand people simultaneously erupted in unison, assaulting Grif's senses, and terrifying Spartan, who sat beside him. Immediately, Spartan sought Grif's hand, and stood beside him, slightly shaking, not understanding. Grif reached down, a huge smile covering his face as he took in the scene, and cupped the nervous dog's head in his hand, rubbing his throat and nape. Sensing from Grif that all was well, he settled down immediately....but still stayed next to Grif, not daring to stray even one foot from his side.
"Ain't it just mahhhhhvelous, crooned Cassie into Grif's ear, clapping her hands.
"Yes ma'am.....it certainly is that!", he exclaimed....."I ain't ever seen a battlefield this lit up....and I seen a lot of those!
"C'mon Grif....I'll show you what you've.....we've....been missing."
For the next several hours, Cassie took Grif around the square, letting him take in the sights and sounds of what used to be. There were dozens of TV's set up around the square, each showing a different movie or old tv show eternally captured on DVD , and Grif was in sensory overload, flitting from one to the other, with Spartan dutifully following. There was a makeshift market set up, with people hawking whatever they might have made, found, stolen or owned of use or value. There was a small, raised platform, where couples danced or just swayed to the sound of different genres of music, from old bigband sounds, to hiphop, dutifully played by request from an old man acting as DJ. The mood of most was overwhelmingly joyful, and Grif and Cassie wandered around enjoying the sights. It was like an old state fair, minus the big rides. Grif stopped at a booth that one enterprising soul had set up, selling deliciously smelling sandwiches and fried potatoes. "Yes sir, what can I get ya son?" asked the proprietor, a rotund man of about 50, dressed in old faded overalls, and sporting an old Seattle Mariners ballcap. "I got B-B-Q deer or boar sandwiches, and it comes with the fries, four new dollars per order, but I see ya got a got an entourage wit ya, so if ya buy three orders, that's 12 ND's, I'll knock off two ND's and give you all three for ten.....now that's a deal you won't find anywhere else."
Looking at Cassie and smiling, Grif reached into his pocket, took out a few coins, mostly of copper or silver, and, sorting them with the stub of his index finger, isolated two silvers and handed them to the huckster. Wrapping the orders in old newspaper, ala British fish and chips style, the rotund man slid the orders across the counter, and shouted "Thank ya Jesus" to the sky. Bemused, Grif took one order and handed it to Cassie, bent down and set another in front of Spartan, carefully unwrapping it for him, and finally took the last for himself, feeling the heat from the fries leaching through the old newspaper. Unraveling the paper and exposing it's hidden treasure, he took out his sandwich, and sank his teeth into it, burning the roof of his mouth in the process, and trying to breathe in as much air through his partially opened mouth to cool the succulent, spicy meat inside. "Oh Lordy, that tastes good" he exclaimed, through his full mouth. Cassie laughed at the look of pleasure on his face, and finally said "My colon will pay for this later" and took a small bite from her sandwich, chewing it slowly, and deliberately, savoring the sweet taste of the meat. Spartan had already wolfed his down, and was now in the process of soulfully looking up at his companions, eyes begging for a taste of theirs. Cassie could not resist him, and taking one last bite, handed the rest pf her sandwich over to him, amazed at the gentleness with which he took it from her hand, and the ferocity with which he devoured it in two quick gulps. She ate one last piece of potatoe, and spread the rest down on the ground, and was rewarded with an adoring look from Spartan.
Continuing their walk around the town square, Cassie would stop on occasion, greet an old acquaintance, and chat for a few minutes, exchanging any news, or reliving an old experience. As the evening wore on, Grif could see a marked change of demeanor in some of the townsfolk, especially the men, and remarked to Cassie that some seemed agitated.....even hostile. "That's the hooch kicking in" remarked Cassie. "A lot of hangovers tomorrow, to be sure." No sooner had the words left her mouth, an eruption of heated voices burst out not twenty feet from them. Grif, standing a foot taller than his companion, looked out over the crowd, and saw a group of several men in heated debate, their loud voices intermingling, which made the argument impossible to comprehend. As the curious crowd closed in on them, wanting to see what the commotion was all about, Grif saw one man charge another, an empty bottle upraised over his head, ready to bring it crashing down upon his antagonist. The crowd erupted in cheers as the two clashed, the combatants flailing their arms and fists at one another, the bottle knocked from the grasp of the one man by the other, and crashing to the pavement in a burst of sharded glass splinters. Grif could hear the sounds of flesh striking flesh, the grunts of exertion emanating from the two, as they desperately sought an advantage. The throng of people had ringed them into a circle, and individuals shouted encouragement or advice to their favorite, cheering as one landed a blow, or moaning as the other asorbed it. There were at least fifty people watching the fight now, and it seemed that everyone had a favorite in the contest. Grif watched as he saw one man taking bets on the outcome, going from person to person, writing something down in a small notebook tablet, and then proceeding on to the next wagerer. One man help up his hand, with what Grif could see was a gold fifty ND coin, and the bet-taker immediately wove his way through the crowd, exchanged a few words with the man, and scribbled furiously in his notebook, smiling as he searched the audience for his next customer.
The fight raged for at least ten minutes, and both Cassie and Grif could see the pounding that both were taking, blood coursing down one man's face from numerous cuts, the other gushing blood from what was obviously a broken nose, bent sideways now, and upwards, the tip almost blocking the vision of his right eye. Grif could see that they were both now arm-weary, barely able to hold them aloft for protection, or swing with any perceived force that would do any real damage. It was as if they were fighting in slow motion, moving at half speed, and barely able to stand. Both were staggering, and Grif surmised that it was a half and half affect from the pounding they had given each other, and the bottle of hooch that they had shared prior to whatever disagreement that had set them off. Finally, the man with the broken nose caught the other with a head-butt under the chin, and Grif watched as the other man's head rocked backward, and then lolled from side to side, bobblehead style, his eyes glazed and unfocused. His arms collapsed, dangling uselessly, and the man with the broken nose, sensing his kill, summoned one last ounce of energy, and followed through with a right cross to the other man's jaw. Grif heard the crack of the bone, and whether it was the bones of the offending fist, or the defending jaw, he couldn't tell, but the man collapsed like a headless torso onto the pavement, lying motionless, but still breathing. The enthusiastic onlookers gave a final cheer, or moan, depending on their hopes of the outcome. Some started clapping the man with the broken nose onto his back, offering congratulations, and compliments. Others started queing up in front of the man with the notebook, anticipating either collecting, or dreading the payoff, for their voyueristic involvement in the episode.
"WOW....is it like this every Saturday" Grif asked Cassie, glancing down to make sure Spartan was still with him.
"Sometimes", Cassie replied....."sometimes worse....or better, depending on your outlook" she cracked. "That was certainly a good fight though.....one of the better ones, I have to admit. I usually ain't that interested in them, but the fellow lying on the ground is a pure asshole, and it was a pleasure watching him get what was coming to him. The fellow that did it, he ain't much better, so I didn't really care how it came out, but I am glad to see that he'll have a little pain and misery to heal too" she smiled, with a glint in her eye. "Can you believe it.....those two are brothers!"
"Seriously? It looked like they were trying to kill each other," Grif stated.
"They probably were," said Cassie, "but tomorrow, they'll be back in each others graces, and making their homemade liquor to sell around.....well, maybe.....from the looks of them, they might just be laid up for a while. I don't know who's gonna reset Mape's nose, but whoever does, I wouldn't bet on him surviving it" Cassie laughed. "He's a rough one, he is!"
As the crowd started dispersing from the fight scene, looking for other entertainment, the music on the raised platform quelled, sending what few dancers were left down the steps to the viewing area. Some took seats on the benches set up for any onlookers, and a few just drifted away, melding into the rest of the crowd. Cassie whispered to Grif "uhoh.....looks like it's politico time." Grif gave a quizzical look, and then noticed that all the TV's had been turned off, the CD players were in the process of being silenced, and people were starting to congregate around the dance platform. Grif, not understanding, started to speak to Cassie, but was stopped with a curt "shhhhh', and her hand cleching his arm, indicating patience. Trusting Cassie's lead, he stood there, silent, waiting, not knowing what he was waiting for, but curious. When all sound except the murmur of the crowd had been silenced, he noticed a few men mulling on the platform, with a microphone being set up. Watching, he saw one man climb upon the makeshift stage, blow into the microphone, and say test123....test123. The sound of his voice echoed throughout the square, a strange echoing voice reverberating off each building and bouncing around, giving the words a double, sometimes triple life. The man on the stage made a few adjustments, and tried again. This time, the words came out lighter, softer, and the echoes were almost completely diminished. Satisfied, the man looked to the edge of the stage, gave a motion, and another man walked to the microphone. He was dressed in the coarse denim of military fatigues, with bloused pants tucked in black spitshined boots. His hair was cropped short, almost completely gray, but he had the facial features of a man much younger. Grif could tell by the insignia on his shoulder that he carried the rank of colonel, and he barely caught himself before he stood to attention, realizing he was no longer a soldier, but a civilian now.
"That's Colonel Harper.....our MR for this district....Military Rep....," Cassie whispered. "He makes the rounds throughout Northern Nevada and Southern Colorado, weather permitting. He hasn't been here since June.....busy with the other districts, I 'spose. We're pretty low maintenance down these ways, as rural as we are, and for the most part, the people around here support him, and don't make much trouble. That allows him to be pretty fair in our dealings. He functions basically as judge, jury and executioner on any criminal matters, either civilian or military, and his word may as well be law. After "the troubles" began......
Cassie was cut off at this point, the low rolling voice from the stage now speaking into the microphone. "Good evenin', people of Perthville.....man, you folks throw one hell of a party." The crowd laughed at this remark, and smattered applause resounded throughout the square. I know one thing.....'ol Mape and his brother are gonna be hurtin' tomorrow. Damn, I've never seen a nose pushed around like that on a face.....kinda improves him, dont'cha think?" The crowd roared, and looked back at Mape and his now conscious brother Moe, sitting together on a park bench, tending one another's wounds. Mape stood up reluctantly, waved to the crowd in general, and the colonel specifically, and took a bow. The crowd loved it and laughed uproariously. Even Moe, as battered as he was, grinned, showing two missing front teeth in the process.
"Anyway folks, it's been a while since I've been here, and a lot has happened in the interim. As everyone is aware, our gallant men and women are fighting the Chinese in California, Washington and Oregon, and we're holding our ground. [cheers from the crowd] We've gone to a different strategy, and instead of defending burned and bombed out cities, we've withdrawn to the mountainous terrain running from the Canadian border down to Mexico. This is conducive to our long-term strategy of starving them out. We've cut their supply lines of convoy ships almost to nothing coming down the Alaskan coast, using tactical nukes on the harbors, making them too radioactive to use. Our army now is a defensive force stretching to both national borders, and it seems to be working better than we had hoped. [more cheers]. East of the Rockies, we're in even better shape.....our forces there have annihilated the European/Asian army, cutting what's left of them in half, and containing them to only Arkansas and Missouri on this side of the Mississippi, and Kentucky and Tennessee on the other [more cheers]. Our Cuban allies have completely destroyed the French and Italian armies in Florida, and are now pushing Northward to help eliminate the remnants of the E/A army. Canada seems to be winning their war of attrition with the Japanese, thanks to their abominable weather, and will perhaps be helping us reinforce the West coast after next year. [more cheers] Have no doubt about it, folks.....we will win this, and re-establish our nation. We are a determined people.......and 220 million dead Chinese soldiers buried on the West coast are finding that out as I speak [resounding cheers]."
"Now, to the hard part. As you're well aware, a war machine can only fight with what it has. Supplies are perilously short.....food, medicine, weapons and ammo, and men and women to wield them. I've issued an edict for all able bodied men and women here in the Perthville district to work an extra hour a day in whatever national duties you've been assigned, to take effect immediately.[groans] We need more copper and silver from the mines, more crops from your fields and gardens, and more men to fight. The Joint chiefs have authorized me to up the conscription age in this district for men only to 39. [more groans.....and a woman's muffled cry]. I realize there's not many left under this age, but the ones that are, who haven't previously served and been discharged because of wounds suffered, need to report to Sheriff Thomas by Saturday after next for processing. I have no choice about this, and feel for any hardship this may cause your family. Now, one last order of business, and I'll let you get back to your Saturday night......Sheriff?
Sheriff Thomas walked onto the stage, and to the microphone. "Everyone here, to the smallest child, knows the rules", he started. "They have to be obeyed, or we cannot win this war. If we fail to follow them, we will all either be dead....or worse, having to learn Chinese [a few chuckles from the crowd]. Desertion from our armed forces will not be tolerated.....cannot be tolerated. As such, the rigidity that we use to enforce this has to be extreme.....and final." [Sheriff Thomas makes a motion to the side]
Looking toward the side of the stage, the Sheriff watched two men, dressed in brown jumpsuits, climb the steps of the platform,dragging behind them a man whose arms were tied behind him, his legs hobbled by a sort piece of rope, a black hood over his face. Stumbling more than walking, the man was pulled by the other two men to center stage. Two other men climbed the steps after this, carrying a rectangular frame of two by fours, similar to a doorframe without the door, and set it behind the restrained man with the hood. The frame had extended legs on the bottom, and the two men that had carried it quickly set it down, pulled a hammer and several nails from the baggy pockets of their jumpsuits, and proceeded to nail the frame to the decking of the platform. Satisfied of it's sturdiness, the two men put the hammers back into their pocket, and left the stage.
Speaking into the microphone, Sheriff Thomas informed the crowd once again that rules must be followed, that there was no room for tolerance. or disobedience. Taking a small scanning wand the size of a cell phone out of his pocket, he informed the crowd, now hushed into dead silence, that this man was a deserter. He had killed his traveling companion just two days before, another deserter. There was no law against killing deserters....in fact, the sheriff said, it is one's solemn duty to do so. However, that act does not reprieve you from also being a deserter. "Hold out your arm, son.....let the crowd see what you are." The hooded figure stood there, not responding, the only movement to be seen being the shallow in and out motion of the hood as the man breathed.
"Uh....Sheriff....he can't.....his arms are tied behind him." one of the other men intoned in a hushed voice.
"Goddam it Clete....Jesus.....turn 'im around then." the Sheriff said. Clete grabbed the hooded man by his arms, and forced him to turn 180 degrees, his back now facing the crowd. The Sheriff pushed a small button on the wand, and a shrill sound, much like feedback from a radio, squealed into the night air. The face of the wand lit up, a sickly-green glow illuminating it's face. Slowly, the Sheriff ran the wand over the man's bare right arm. As it reached the meaty part of the lower arm, just below the elbow, the wand beeped several times in rapid succession, and then gave a steady hum for a few seconds, indicating it's work was done. The Sheriff held up the face of the wand to the crowd, walking the stage end to end for drama, and holding it down close for anyone interested to read the condemning information displayed. Finally, satisfied with his dramatic walk, he turned the face of the wand to himself, and started reading:

Embry, Curtis L
SSgt.
DOB: 5/11/2009
Conscription Nr: 28,459,986
Conscripted 5/11/2025/Deluth, Mn
Status: Active....AWOL... 221 days
Assignment: SA.10th Div/7th Batt/22nd Brgd.

"There it is folks.....all the evidence that's needed. This man is assigned to the Southern Army in Arkansas, and he's out here in Nevada. He deserted his comrades. How he made it this far is anyone's guess, but he did. He was caught just a few miles from here, after murdering his companion." Turning to the hooded figure, the Sheriff asked...."Son, you wanna say anything.....make your peace with God, or apoligize to these good people out here for letting them down?"
"Fuck you, you foul-breathed bastard....how does your wife stand your stench, anyway?" the hooded man replied from underneah his hood, his voice muffled by the black cloth. No sooner had the words left his mouth, than Sheriff Thomas swung back his right leg, and with the force that would make an old NFL kicker envious, planted his foot dead in the man's exposed crotch. The man doubled over, and screamed, a shrill cry of unbearable pain, but could not fall, as the two deputies saw it coming, and both grabbed for opposite arms of the hooded man to support him, and keep him upright.
Cassie looked over at Grif as this happened, and could see smoldering fire in his eyes, but he held his tongue, and kept his feet planted. They both watched as the hooded man stood there doubled up, held up by the two deputies, wretching, the vomit running out from beneath his hood. The two deputies forcibly made him stand upright, eliciting a cry of pain from the man, as Sheriff Thomas again smashed the man's groin. There was no cry this time, only the exhalation of forced air from the man's mouth as his legs collapsed from underneath him. Trying not to get any of the vomit on them, the two deputies roughly placed a noosed rope over his head and around his neck, cinching it tight. Looking over at Colonel Harper, they saw him nod. Throwing the other end of the rope over the nailed down wooden frame, they hoisted on the rope until the hooded man's feet left the platform, and secured the other end of the rope to a notch cut into one of the boards. The man's feet were barely off the wooden stage, and as he kicked, the weight of his body stretched the rope slightly, letting the toe of his worn right boot find a little support upon the platform. His muffled gagging could be heard over the crowd, and as he struggled, the two deputies pulled again on the rope, taking away the support of the mans foot, allowing both legs to kick freely, and find only empty air. The sound of gagging stopped after a minute, but the kicking legs went on for what seemed forever to Grif. Gradually, a stain of wetness emerged from the man's groin area, and slowly inched down his pantlegs.The heady smell of feces wafted out over the square, causing some of the crowd to instinctively back away. He noticed that the crowd had become dead silent, but that every eye was focused toward the now still man hanging from the frame. He looked over at Cassie, and saw tears streaming down her face, and felt his own eyes burning. Finally, he could watch no more, and turned away, disgusted and angry.
He had seen more death than probably anyone in the crowd, probably had killed more men that were even here in the square, but he did not take death lightly, especially when used as part of a night's entertainment. He clk clk'ed at Spartan, and started to walk away. Cassie grabbed his arm, and said "I'm so sorry Grif.....I didn't know this was going to happen," and struggled to keep pace with him.
"I know ma'am......s'not your fault.....it's just bad times all around, and bad times make people do bad things. I have no idea who that boy was, or anything about him, except that he was a deserter....but no one deserves to die like that. We're more merciful to our enemies than we were him. He was somebody's son, or brother. Just 'cuz he decided to run away, doesn't mean he was a bad person. He was 22, just a year younger than me.....got conscripted in this mess at 16. Survived Lord knows how many battles, how many cold winters with barely no food.....and then to die like this, swinging from his neck, while people stand and watch like it was one of those movies on the TV we watched. It just ain't right. I probably shoulda just took that injection, and be done with this shit....I thought maybe I could make it to Colorado, maybe see my mom or sister if they was still alive. Hell, probably ain't no one left to see, just a waste of time and effort to try. Colorado got hit bad......the Chinese nuke that took out Denver almost surely got my family too.....they just lived a few miles on the outskirts, and if the expolsion didn't get 'em, surely the Rads would have, and if not the Rads, then starvation, or marauders, or any dozens of things this turned upside-down world has to contend with now.
Miss Cassie, how did it get to be this way? What makes people go mad like this, want to hurt and kill each other, and rejoice in their suffering. I've killed Lord knows how many people in this war, Miss Cassie, but I can honestly say I never felt good about it. I didn't cheer at a man's death, or feel the need to make him suffer. What gets into a man's soul to enjoy the misery of someone else, like that Sheriff Thomas fellow. You could see it in his eyes and face that he was enjoyin' what he was doin', makin' that poor bastard suffer 'fore he hung 'im. What in hell makes someone like that?
Cassie walked along in silence, not knowing how to answer his question, not knowing if she should really try. The question was an imponderable, with a thousand different answers, none of them right, and none of them wrong. She knew the pain of which he was speaking, had lived it, fought it, grieved it, and finally just accepted it. There was nothing she could say to explain how people turned, no way to explain how a man's soul can be eaten away, until finally only the shell of the man is left, the compassion and good will consumed, the spirituality gone, leaving only a demanding obsession to hurt.
As they walked along the dark road, the lights from the town now just a faint glow punctuating the darkness, Cassie thought of the pure grief that everyone had endured these past years, the pain and suffering that had been inflicted, the loss of family and home, the hunger of a gnawing belly, the hopelessness and despair of continuous war, and the death that it brought. She thought of how people coped with it, and went on living, their humanity intact.....and how some surrendered that humanity to the demons of hell, to do their bidding, She knew the answer to his question in her heart, but knew Grif would have to delve that answer himself, and remained silent, and continued walking toward the dusty lane where her house stood, the glow of the lights from the town now completely obscured, and the darkness wrapping the three of them in it's cloak
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Hugh Manrace
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:23 pm

1. Why do people say "hot water heater" when that implies that they want to heat water that is already hot? Wouldn't it be better to say "cold water heater" or just simply, "water heater?"

2. Rose has gills?

3. Wow, this is a lot to read at one time for this place. That's what I get for skipping a few days.
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Rose
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:11 pm

Dammit, I say it because that is the way it has always been said. And unless you have the new heat pump, you are heating hot water constantly. So there!
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Bam
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:09 am

Awesome writing, Baldar! Now I've got to know the whole story.
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baseballmom
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:14 pm

I have 5 Christmas presents wrapped already.
You make me sick.
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Wed Nov 11, 2009 5:23 pm

baseballmom wrote:
I have 5 Christmas presents wrapped already.
You make me sick.

It's made me so sick I've missed 3 days of work. I haven't even thought about Christmas 5 times yet.
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:02 pm

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Rose
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PostSubject: Re: Sunday Nov 8, 2009   Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:54 pm

lol Neener-neener.

The presents are all the same thing for each of us - "Dawkins University" apparel I ordered online. Oh, and a watch for Deanna that she picked out but I won't let her have until Christmas.

I want to go to trivia tonight but my tummy is upset. Damn you Taco Bell!
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