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Monday, November 29, 2010 5 comments

White Pickups, Episode 63

Our soundtrack for this episode: Skillet’s Hero.


Hunkered down on the guardhouse roof, Sondra shouldered Johnny’s carbine and waited. Clouds skidded east, racing from the afternoon sun. Some of that wind filtered down to the ground, hissing through trees and chilling her face, making her glad for the jacket. Pilfered from one of the smelly houses, it almost perfectly matched the color of the shingles on the guardhouse. With any luck, the bashers — if it were really them — would never know she was there.

Just like we did it in practice, her dad said. He’d talked to her before, that first Saturday when the bashers came, but she had never told anyone about it — not even Cody. She sighted down the barrel, then lifted it away, thumbed off the safety and worked the bolt.

“Locked and loaded, Dad,” she whispered.

Good. What’s the motto?

“One shot, one kill. Don’t waste ammo, you might not have time to reload.” She had another full clip tucked into the back of her jeans, cold against her back, but didn’t expect to need it.

“There they are! Get ready!” Cleve called to the others, hunkered down in a ditch just inside the fence. She couldn’t see the bashers yet; most likely, they were working their way around either the burger joint or the LubeJob place across the street, using bushes, trees, and buildings for cover. Stay down, her dad said, it’s not your time yet. Cleve, Tim, Johnny, Cody, Charles, and Max were both the foot soldiers and the bait. She worried about Cody — he’d never been in a gunfight — but she’d only been in one, and both she and Cleve had told him what to expect. She and Cody of course had told each other to be careful several times. He had Sondra’s revolver, and could use it, but the bashers would have to be crossing the street before he had a chance for more than a lucky shot. Her friends had more handguns than rifles, so they were both slightly outnumbered and outgunned, but they had a “fairly defensible position,” as Cleve put it, and Sondra was their little surprise…

The bashers didn’t wait to cross the street before opening fire. Bullets and buckshot thumped into tree trunks, spanged off the iron fence, rattled through the branches. Tim and Cleve returned fire, popping up to shoot then moving; the others stayed down and waited.

Only two? Frank thought. That’s the nigger what shot J.D. all right. Is that other one the skinny dude? “It’s them!” he yelled.

“Their settlement is devoted to destruction!” Worleigh shouted. “Destroy all they have, and spare not any one of them, but kill man and woman, child and infant, and all their animals!”

“Not gonna happen,” Sondra muttered. The gunfire continued from both sides. She eyed the shouter through the trees: tall, thin, white-haired, a ridiculously long chrome pistol in one hand; the other clutched an enormous book, probably a Bible, to his chest. He, and that one guy with a deer rifle, seemed like the two most dangerous men on that side.

Bide your time, her dad said. It’s a good trap your friends are setting. Let the enemy spring the trap, then take ’em down.

Frank looked around. Something smells here. If they had any sense, they’d give the skinny queer a rifle and a sniper position. Maybe he got AIDS or something. Then he saw a line of trucks approaching from the freeway. He caught Worleigh’s attention and pointed; Worleigh looked and nodded. Maybe this would work out after all…

Tim stopped firing; Cleve fired his sixth shot and ducked down. “The time is now!” Worleigh shouted. He stepped away from the tree that he’d used for cover, and off the curb. Let ’em commit, then take him first, Sondra heard. But that book is good as armor. Cut off the serpent’s head.

“Right. Then the rifleman.” She looked through the trees and saw a line of trucks approaching. The bashers were watching them too — they were going to use them for cover, all right. They might not realize that bullets would go right through them…

Now. The attackers started across the street as the trucks passed, some running to the left turn lane, others taking their time. Sondra rose, kneeled. Pick your target, pull the trigger.

She fired. The white-haired dude sprouted a third eye; he fell back and stumbled over the curb, firing one shot into the air from that gigantic pistol; the recoil threw him to the ground.

Sondra’s friends heard the carbine bark to their left; the shouter fell and lay still. “Now!” Cleve yelled to the others; they all peeped over the top of the ditch and began shooting.

Frank saw Worleigh go down, looked around, finally saw the skinny dude seem to emerge from the guardhouse roof with an old rifle as more of them popped up across the way. He pointed, the muzzle turned ever so slightly, and Frank froze. He could only stand pointing at the guardhouse and think We’re fucked.

Steven screamed and clutched his leg, his shotgun hitting the pavement. He grabbed up his gun, balancing on his good leg, and fired blind at the embankment. He dropped to the pavement to reload.

Pick your target, pull the trigger. The rifleman spun and fell short of the left turn lane.

Rushing to the left turn lane, Jered saw Worleigh on his back, Frank dropping, Steven’s bloody leg. Two dead, one wounded, just like that — and now there were seven enemies shooting from cover, and them out in the open. We’re in for it, he thought. Damn that preacher anyway. He dropped prone, a few feet from Steven, and started shooting at the embankment. Will stood confused, pointing his rifle every which way but not firing. Ray-Ban shot, racked, shot again.

The Bobs saw Frank pointing, saw the sniper on the guardhouse. Go-Big Bob racked his shotgun and let fly at the guardhouse; Go-Home Bob took aim with his rifle, ducked as a pistol round whizzed past his head, took a quick shot at the embankment, took a quick shot at the guardhouse. Go-Big Bob racked and fired again. Shot rattled through the bare tree limbs, thumped into the siding, shattered the window below her. Sondra ignored it.

Pick your target, pull the trigger.

A shotgun-toter fell next, his mirrored sunglasses tumbling across the pavement. Three of the remaining five were shooting anywhere and everywhere, spraying the landscape with lead. Cody stood and emptied his pistol at the two firing in Sondra’s direction, ducked down cursing to reload.

Pick your —

Go-Big Bob’s shotgun clicked; he turned and ran. Go-Home Bob emptied his rifle at the guardhouse then followed.

Retreat!” Jered yelled, “Get to cover!” He and Steven got on their feet and backed up, trying to cover each other, Steven on one leg, Will just standing there. A rifleman stood, fired, Will dropped. The nigger finished Steven. Jered turned and ran — right in front of a pickup. His rifle banged into the grille as the truck ran him down, then fell through and clattered to the pavement, torn from Jered’s hand. The truck braked for a moment, then rolled away, dodging the other bodies in the street.

Cody slapped the cylinder into place, popped up, looked around. “It’s over?”

“Yup,” Johnny said. “The two you were shooting at ran.” They all moved to stand together at the fence, watching the bodies in the street. None of them moved. A truck swerved around the bodies and ran over a cheap pair of mirrorshades that had tumbled away from their owner. The crunch seemed to put a period on the hostilities.

Cody gave a relieved sigh, then looked at his watch. “Jeez. Two minutes? It felt like an hour. Is everyone okay?”

“I got winged,” Cleve said, wrapping a strip of cloth around a bloody left arm. “Hurts like hell, but that’s a good thing. It’s what you don’t feel that’s bad.”

“Good… I guess,” Cody said. “Sucks you got hit, but good it’s not bad.” He turned to the guardhouse. “Sondra! Come on down… Sondra!”

Tim jogged over to the guardhouse, then sprinted away. “I’m getting Rita!” he yelled over his shoulder.


Friday, November 26, 2010 2 comments

Playing With a Full Deck

Well, if years were cards, I’d be doing just that as of today. Some friends came to visit, and I got an afternoon nap — even if Daughter Dearest interrupted it twice.

I was happy to avoid the Black Friday onslaught — there were things we needed, but I got some at a local hardware store that we had to ourselves. The rest, Daughter Dearest wanted to get at Mal*Wart, and that turned out to be no worse than a typical weekend afternoon. The outlet maul looked a bit crowded, but fortunately we didn’t need anything there. Snippet had to be at her job (at the Calvin Klein outlet) by 3 a.m., and we haven’t seen her come in yet. I think she and The Boy decided to blow us off yet again. I just hope he doesn’t drink, one more probation violation and he’s in the clink for 90 days.

So I was trying to thrash out a couple of Skype issues with Mom, and Mason wandered around the other side of the bed and got… very… quiet. Not Good. He got into a box of tissues and had most of them strewn across the area by the time I thought to check on him. Being in a hurry, I grabbed them and stuffed them into the box, inadvertently grabbing a sock and a (clean) pair of Mrs. Fetched’s underwear along with the tissues… this I found after I decided to straighten the tissues up and put them back properly. I thought that the box was a little too stuffed. Mason and I both have colds, and the nasal congestion seems to have congested my brain as well. Maybe I should scarf a little of that green tomato salsa I made.

I got unstuck on White Pickups this week, which was a nice early b-day present, and it only cost me 2000 words. :-) I don’t know if I’ll meet my informal NaNoWriMo goal of finishing Book I by the end of the month or not, but now I actually have a shot at it. I have 10 episodes lined up now, including the one going up Monday. I think another 10 more will free me to start guilt-free working on the sequel.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010 No comments

The Season-Change Shuffle

As much as changes to the outdoor decor, time, weather, a sign of changing seasons is that Mrs. Fetched gets the urge to move furniture. Or rather… telling everyone else where to move furniture.

She has been talking about moving her video editing equipment to another room for a while now, leaving room to put Mason’s crib in the vacated room. So it shouldn’t have come as any surprise that she suddenly decided to do it yesterday. Bad idea, starting on a weekday, especially when I dropped by the hospital to see Big V (she’s much better, on the way home as I type). Worse idea, doing it on a Tuesday before a major holiday. Worst of all, she rarely if ever develops much of a plan besides “tell other people to move $#!+ around.” So I came home to find the crib in pieces on the floor — she’d gotten Panda to dismantle it, and he also thought the timing was bad — and the contents of the attached cabinet on our bed. (Her sense of timing is like my poker face, neither work very well.)

The idea itself isn’t a bad one — the desk in the guest room, where she’s moving her stuff, is more spacious and sits in a corner. She won’t have to stretch to reach anything she uses often. If we move a doll display case and one of DoubleRed’s shelves that she hasn’t taken with her yet, there’s room for the shelf with the 1/2" VTR deck and DVD copier so they don’t have to use space on the desk (it would get a bit crowded). We’ll get it done over the long weekend, no doubt, and quickly enough if she doesn’t start second-guessing and throwing wrenches. But if she’d thought things through instead of the usual do something NOW, a plan might have looked like this:

  1. Clean off corner desk (done, actually).

  2. Find and prepare places for the case and shelf. Move them.

  3. Disconnect computer and move.

  4. Move and attach DV deck.

  5. Clear VTR shelf and move.

  6. Move VTR and DVD copier in, attach.

  7. Take down the old desk.

  8. NOW dismantle and move the crib.

In other words, taking down the crib should have been the last thing done, not the first.

Upshot, she had to clean off our bed before going to sleep last night and Mason ended up sleeping in the playpen.

Monday, November 22, 2010 4 comments

White Pickups, Episode 62

While most of this story seems to want Skillet as a soundtrack, for this episode it’s Thousand Foot Krutch’s Smack Down.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

“Whoa,” Tim said, swerving. “Watch that crosswind.”

“Yeah. Last thing I need is to tangle with another bike again.” Palmer hunched his thin shoulders against the wind. “Damn, it’s cold out here. If Cleve wants these patrols so bad, he oughtta be out —”

“Hey!” Tim barked, braking hard; Palmer shot past him and stopped, looking back. “Look down there. Is that…?”

Palmer slipped their handheld radio out of the water carrier and thumbed the TALK button. “Laurel? Can you hear us?”

“Just,” Sara responded. “What is it?”

“Possible sighting. We’re on Satellite, south.”

“Yup,” said Tim, looking through the binoculars. “Eight men, on foot, all armed.”

“Possible?” said Sara.

“Confirmed now. Tim says eight armed men.”

“Stand by.” A minute later, Cleve spoke. “Don’t try to make contact. Stay out of shooting range, but keep ’em in sight as best you can. And stay in touch. I’ll tell the others to get ready up here.”

“Should we let ’em see us?”

“Not unless you’re sure you can get away quick. You guys are fast, but you can’t outrun a bullet.”

“Right. Palmer out.”

“Laurel standing by.”

“You still see ’em, Tim?”

“Yeah. We need to put some more space between us though.”

“What if we have to duck off the road?”

“Hope some of those offices are unlocked.”

“Should be. The world ended on a weekday, after all.”

“We’ve been marching for a day and a half,” Ray-ban griped. “That smoke don’t look any closer.” Hiking up I-85, they had first spotted a large smoke plume late yesterday afternoon. They camped in an office building and pushed on at first light. As they drew nearer, around noon they cut over to a four-lane road paralleling the freeway. Street signs identified it as “Satellite Boulevard.”

“We’ll get there well before dark,” Frank assured him. “Just keep —”

Worleigh, in the lead, stopped and raised a hand; the others paused.

“What is it?”

“A flicker. Something reflected the sun up ahead. But it’s not there now.”

“You think it’s them?” Will hefted his pistol.


“So much for surprising them, then,” Bob grumbled.

“Gowd-a will give us the victory regardless,” Worleigh said. “But be wary, and be prepared to join the battle.”

“I’m comin’ out to the QuickFill,” Cleve said. “Save some time if you need backup.”

“Thanks,” Palmer replied. “Tim thinks they might have seen us… they’ve spread out some.”

“Don’t let them get close enough to shoot!” Cleve snapped.

“Roger that. Palmer out. Tim, give me the binoculars a minute.” He took them and looked. “Oh… shit!”

“What is it?”

“It’s them!” Palmer yelled into the radio; he dropped the binoculars and Tim had to catch them. “Cleve! It’s them! The same bunch from that first weekend!”

“What? You sure?”

“Yeah. Remember the one with the mirrored sunglasses? He’s one of them.”

“There’s plenty of people had mirrorshades.”

“Who carried guns around? There ain’t that many people left, remember.”

“Yeah… he may or may not be the same one. Come on back… no, wait. Stay out of shooting range, but make sure they see you when you round the corner off Satellite.”

“What, you want us to lead ’em home?”

“Yeah. We’re gonna settle this. Today. Meet me at the QuickFill. Cleve out.”

“Too far for a good shot,” Frank said, sighting the riders down the detached scope of his deer rifle. “Too much wind, too gusty to compensate… hey, they’re stopping again. Something ain’t right up there.”

“Gowd-a stops them,” said Worleigh. “Thus they lead us to their lair.”

“There they go again,” said Frank. “They just hung a left at the intersection up there.”

“Why don’t we take a shortcut?” asked Jered, pointing to an office park entrance to their left. “With a little luck, we might get around ’em.”

“Worleigh paused a moment. “That shall be as Gowd-a wills. But your idea is good. If they plan an ambush, we shall come at them from an unexpected direction.”

“They’re going off the street!” Palmer said into the radio, peering around a pedestal. “They ducked into that office park about a half-mile down.”

“Get on up here to the QuickFill then,” said Cleve. “Pronto.”

Tim and Palmer slipped through the truck traffic and met Cleve on his police bike. They had found the bike in Norcross; it had blue lights and a police radio, and the brackets were easily adapted to the ham radios they were using. Cleve turned on the blue light and started up the street, Tim and Palmer close behind; trucks slowed and bunched up behind them. “Does that office park back into anything on this side?” Cleve asked them as they rode.

“They can walk across a strip of landscaping and they’ll be in the office park we just passed,” said Tim, pointing at the entrance behind them. “It’s like they’re taking a shortcut. How would they know where to go?”

Cleve pointed at the sky ahead of them. “Smoke signals, probably. They’ll be at the gate in half an hour, an hour tops. Sooner if they run, but I don’t think they’re in that big a hurry.”

“So do we have enough time to get ready?”

“Yeah. Everyone’s already on alert. We can be ready in ten minutes.” Cleve thumbed the mike clipped to his shirt collar. “Sara. Tell Johnny and the others to get in position. Our old friends might be back for a rematch.”

“Oh God.”

“Yeah. We’ll take ’em, but it won’t be pretty. See you in about three minutes.”

“So much for getting around ’em,” Charlie said, pointing at the smoke rising from down the street. “It didn’t go far enough.”

“Don’t matter,” Frank said. “We’ll go behind the buildings on this side of the road. They won’t see us ’til we’re there.”

“I’ll be safer up there than you’ll be,” Sondra told Cody behind the guardhouse, one hand on the stepladder, the carbine on her shoulder. “They’ll all be looking at you guys over there in the ditch. If they see me at all, it’ll be too late. For them, anyway.”

“Yeah,” said Cody, not sounding at all convinced. “Just be careful, okay?”

“You too.” They kissed, long and deep. “We’ll have some fun tonight, okay? All night.” She grinned, let him go, and mounted the ladder.

“Love you.”

“Cody!” Cleve yelled. “Shake a leg!”

“Yeah, yeah!” Sondra gets off on this, he thought as her boots disappeared over the eaves. She turned, waved, and blew him a kiss. He grinned and jogged away to join the others.


Friday, November 19, 2010 No comments

Out of the Frying Pan?

It’s too good a graphic to not use when I get the chance, although The Boy disagrees:

The Boy - Get Out of Jail Free card

I was working at home yesterday, and Mrs. Fetched gave me the heads-up: they would release The Boy after he attended drug court. Those classmates who happen to be serving time for a violation of whatever type when drug court comes around get to set in the jury box, resplendent in their orange jumpsuits. The Boy had plenty of company: one other guy and four women. I brought Mason up to see him during a break, and the women of course ooh’ed and aah’ed over him too. Mason’s definitely a chick magnet, but… anyway. He said he had no idea how long it would be, as they had a mini-reception for several “graduates” going on as well, and suggested we go home and wait for him to call us.

While the break/reception was going on, Mason got to run loose in the hall outside the courtroom for a while, then gravitated to the window where they’re building the new courthouse next door. (Why we “need” a new courthouse is a question that nobody has a satisfactory answer for, but up it goes.) He isn’t much for watching TV (smart kid), but he’ll watch construction for a long time:

Mason watching construction

At this point, I should have followed my first instinct and taken Mason home, letting Snippet either come with or hang out and wait for him. But they wrapped up fairly quickly, and I figured they’d roll him out shortly after.


Three… hours… later… around 6:30 p.m., they finally sent him through the doors. By this time, I was cranky and rather hungry, and Mason had nearly worn himself out running around the lobby and worming through chicanes that even skinny adults could not navigate. A guy on the sex offender registry was also in the lobby for some yearly check-in they have to do… lovely. After we got The Boy, we went to the Mexican joint for supper, and Mason was an uncharacteristic holy terror, not wanting to sit in his high chair. The food finally arrived, and he calmed down enough to eat some of my fajita chicken but never did get back in the high chair after that.

Things got a little interesting after we got home. Mason was okay, but M.A.E. was a little weirded out and she finally told us all what it was about. Seems that Wednesday, she was walking through the living room when Snippet’s phone beeped. She went to see what it was, and it seems Snippet’s best (male) friend decided to engage in a little full-frontal sexting. In the proverbial train-wreck mode, M.A.E. looked some more and found plenty of “compromising” shots of Snippet herself. (The one where the guitar covered all the naughty bits was rather artful, especially in black&white. But anyway.)

Snippet at first denied it ever happened, then admitted he’d done it “because he was drunk and having an emotional meltdown.” Um… shoulda gone with that one first, girlie, especially since you’ve cheated on The Boy before. As for The Boy, he looked pretty grim. I don’t know what was said later and in private, but the two of them seem to have worked it out (at least for now). It kind of makes me wonder though… the first weekend he was in the clink, Snippet decided to go visit her mom (with Mason) but was on the phone with this guy on the way to meet Mason’s other gramma, trying to get him to come over to her mom’s place.

The Boy doesn’t need distractions like this while he’s trying to get his act together and stay out of trouble. One more violation and he goes in the clink for the rest of his sentence. Having a baby in the mix has complicated things far too much to just toss them, as much as I’d like to do just that and fooey on what Mrs. Fetched thinks for a change…

Tuesday, November 16, 2010 2 comments

Baby Behaving Badly

In the last few weeks, Mason has gotten into this habit of doing things he knows he’s not supposed to do, usually in plain sight of his parents or grandparents. He either climbs up on the hearth (which we’re trying to discourage because it’ll get cold enough sooner or later to start a fire), or goes over to the TV and pokes at the power button. I have a particularly hard time with the latter, because I’d just as soon let him turn the dang thing off — but everyone else tells him NO! so it wouldn’t be right to send him a mixed message.

What’s even funnier is when he’s about to do something and I’m not paying attention: he’ll either go “ehhh!” or “Daaaaa-DEEEEEEE!” so I’ll see he’s behaving badly. That is also difficult, as I’m trying to tell him NO while trying not to laugh.

Yes, he calls me "daddy” often. Not surprising, as I spend more time with him than either of his parents.

Monday, November 15, 2010 2 comments

White Pickups, Episode 61


Monday, January 9, 2012

Frank looked under the bandage on Will’s arm. “You’ll live,” he said. “Pour a little peroxide on it every day or so to kill the germs. My Aunt Mina swore by that stuff: ‘Keep you from gettin’ the infection,’ she always said. Bob-wire scratch, skeeter bite, cut your hand in the kitchen, didn’t matter, she’d be gettin’ out the peroxide.”

“She ever have to deal with someone gettin’ shot?” Will scowled, the strain in his voice matching the stink of his fear and pain. “That sure as hell didn’t go off as planned.”

“As planned? That was pert-near a disaster!” Jered was right. They had surprised a group of a half-dozen or so gang-bangers, walking toward them on the street, but only managed to drop one before the others scattered for cover and returned fire. Outnumbered and outgunned, the 'bangers put up a lot more fight than they had seen from victims sleeping or ambushed. Both sides started carefully retreating, but Will caught one in the arm — fortunately, not his shooting arm.

“Nay,” said Worleigh, scowling more than usual. “Think you that Gowd-a would keep you from the test? It is now that He shall see whether you are fit for His service.”

“I never said nothin’ about quittin’!” Jered protested. “But there’s a lot more of them than us, and you’d think He’d give us a little protection, right?” Will said nothing, but glared at Worleigh and rubbed his bandage.

“We have passed through the first fire,” Worleigh intoned, looking down his patrician nose at Jered and Will. “William, are you still able to do battle?”

Will nodded. “Sure. I shoot one-handed anyway.” He patted his .45.

“So one of theirs lies dead on the ground, and our army is yet intact. Is that not sufficient evidence that we are under the protection of Almighty Gowd-a?”

Jered looked down, saying nothing.

“Yeah, we’ll get ’em,” Steven said. Frank always wondered about Steven, how such a big guy could end up with a squeaky voice. “We’ll move on, give ’em time to forget, and take ’em out later.”

“Y’know, I always heard God helps those what help themselves,” Frank said. “I think Steve’s right. We need to let this area simmer down a little bit. It’s like deer season — you hunt one place too much, the deer get skittish. And some of these deer shoot back. Let’s move around some. I’d like to check out that block in Highlands we hit back when the sh— this all started, maybe get a little payback for J.D. and Thurman and the others, y’know?” Worleigh glared but said nothing, as the others nodded or grunted assent. “Yeah. Who’s got that map anyway?”

“I got it,” said Jered. He dug into his backpack and produced a folded packet, handing it to Frank.

Frank opened the map and pored over it a moment. “Yeah. It’s far enough to get some distance, close enough we can get there this evening. Anyone got a problem with that?” He looked up at Worleigh.

The preacher looked like he’d swallowed something unpleasant, but finally nodded. “Very well,” he said. “We shall see what there is to see.”

“If they ain’t cleared out, they sure like to sleep early,” Jered said, rejoining the others a block away. “I even walked up the street a ways, you think that woulda brought someone out for sure. I wanted to call out, but I didn’t.”

“Remember not what I said, the day Gowd-a placed me in your path?” Worleigh’s smile had a hint of mockery. “They have fled this place.”

“Damn, that’s right,” said one of the Bobs, ignoring the preacher’s glare. “Where’d they go, then?”

Worleigh nodded up the street, toward the on-ramp. “They took the expressway to the northeast, as I said that day.”

Jered nodded. “Prob’ly in DeKalb or Gwinnett, then. Lots of subdivisions up that way, they coulda just moved into one and took it over.”

“That’s a lotta ground to cover, buddy.”

“Yeah, but their smoke should give ’em away, just like the other places. They prob’ly didn’t get too far off the freeway.”

“Well, what are we waiting for?” said Steve, waving his shotgun. “Let’s go get the sum— let’s get ’em! We get the drop on ’em this time, we’ll take ’em for sure.”

“The hour grows late,” Worleigh said, gesturing toward the setting sun. “Let us take shelter for the night, away from this desecrated place. Then we shall deal the judgement of Gowd-a as He sees fit.”

Near dusk, they found a five-story apartment building and camped in the lobby. There was an unpleasant smell in the place, and a restless Will looked around for the source. He found some interesting things on the third floor: pock marks in the cinderblock walls at either end of the hallway; bloodstains on the floor at one end; a broom and perforated blue dress in the hallway; the corpse of a woman in #308, face down on the bed. Worleigh said a few words over the poor woman and they all thought that right and proper. This and other apartments yielded up their canned food, and once darkness fell they cooked supper in the lobby fireplace.

“What do y’all think happened to her?” asked Go-Big Bob, pointing up.

“Looters, probably,” said Jered. “She was maybe doing a little laundry, sweepin’ the floor, and heard some kind of commotion out in the hall. She had the broom and the dress in her hands and stepped out to see what was what, and got herself shot. She got back inside and died on her bed.”

Go-Home Bob scratched his head but said nothing. There were a lot of holes in that story — like why was all the blood at the end of the hallway and not in her apartment? if they were looters, why hadn’t the place been ransacked? For all they knew, it could have been ol’ Joseph getting hisself shot there — but if he said anything, they’d ask so what do you think happened? and he had no idea. For a moment, he wondered if she’d painted the pictures on the walls of her apartment, then pushed it out of his mind. It wasn’t important.


Friday, November 12, 2010 No comments

Weekend To-do List

There’s some stuff I want to accomplish this weekend. Check back on occasion; I might add a picture or two as I cross stuff off (or add more stuff to) the list.

  • Put up insulation in the shower area

  • Sand the shower area ceiling Need to do another layer of putty though

  • Knock down the stump out back

  • Get the winter garden plot started

  • Blow some leaves off the yard (excuse to crank up the generator)

Snippet is still not at the manor. I’d forgotten The Boy’s visitation was this evening, and she got a ride to the jail and planned to ride back to the manor with me — but she’d left her smellphone charger at her friend’s place, so I got a reprieve. She might get a ride out here tomorrow… which is the only way she’ll get back. I’m sure Mrs. Fetched will “round out” my day with plenty of other items.

Oh, and let me start with a photo. Mason, being a boy, likes big jugs… and I have photographic proof:

Mason with a milk jug

It’s pretty difficult to get a cellphone shot of him these days, as he’s almost constantly in motion. I got lucky this morning.

Thursday, November 11, 2010 2 comments

Snipped! (Temporarily anyway)

Snippet had been bugging me to borrow my car all afternoon. Um… no, you’re not on the insurance is the standard answer that seems to go flying right past her. If it were something important, we’d overlook it — for example, she was supposed to pick up a statement from her former job (Wendy’s) that she was no longer employed there to take to DFACS, presumably to get a boost in her WIC vouchers — but she kept talking about meeting up with a friend. Besides, DFACS is closed due to today being Veteran’s Day.

So while I’m trying to work, she starts asking me if I can just take her to see a friend, and maybe spend the night. After a moment’s thought I said, “Sure… we can keep Mason. I’m supposed to take M.A.E. grocery shopping after I get done with my work, so we can drop you off then and combine the trip.” She got positively giddy and spent the next hour fixing herself up for a Night Out.

And that’s what we did. I don’t think Snippet has figured out yet that she might find it a little more difficult getting back to FAR Manor than it was to leave — she did ask me if I could get her at lunch tomorrow, but I’ll be at the office. I think it might also have escaped her mind that Mrs. Fetched is going to be in the chicken houses all night and thus not disposed to get up in the morning. She’ll definitely make her way back before The Boy gets sprung from jail come Wednesday, but she may well do it under her own power. I’ll disconnect the phone so Mrs. Fetched gets some sleep tomorrow, if that’s what it takes.

Permit me an evil laugh: MWAH-HAH-HAHHHHHH!

Monday, November 08, 2010 4 comments

White Pickups, Episode 60


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

“We need to be careful about when we practice from now on, too,” Cleve said. He and several others sat in the dining nook of Cody’s old house, on the other side of the sliding glass door from the firing line.

“And cut wood, too,” said Johnny. “People ain’t gonna like that, though. We can’t cut enough firewood for everyone as it is, let alone put any extra wood aside!”

“Me neither, but I’d rather be cold than dead.”


“Maybe we do everything we do now if the wind’s coming out of the west or south,” Sondra said. “If there’s trouble down toward Atlanta, the wind should carry the sound the other way.” Cody nodded.


“Then again,” said Tim, “maybe we’re making a big deal out of nothing. Maybe someone downtown had a kerosene heater get away from them. Or something spontaneously combusted. Or it was just a big bonfire. Right now, all we’re going on is a plume of smoke and something a cr— a mentally ill woman said.”

“You really believe that?” Cleve gave Tim a doubtful look.

Tim thought a moment and sighed. “No… but I’d like to. That preacher talks around the subject, but he thinks there’s more to what she says than he lets on.”

“I think she’s just crazy myself,” Sondra said, looking grim. “But we know there’s trouble out there. Sooner or later, if it doesn’t find us, we’ll find it.”

“Yeah, but we can’t put everything on standby until it happens — it might not happen for months. Or years. And Johnny’s right, people are already complaining about not having enough firewood. We can cut back on target practice, sure. Cody could use a little more practice, but so could I. I got a bit rusty since September.”

Is this what being a leader’s about? Cody thought. Sitting around, chewing on all the problems, and trying to figure out how to get past them all? He grinned. It’s like the skate park: you drop down the quarterpipe, slide the rail, ollie the blocks. You can land it or faceplant, but either way you do it all over again. Aloud he said, “Okay, maybe we stop doing target practice for a while, but we still cut wood unless the wind’s blowing straight down the freeway. I guess we can spend the time we’d have been here helping cut firewood. That might make the others happier. Hell, I wouldn’t mind havin’ some more firewood myself. The only time our place gets warm through the day is when the sun’s coming in the window — me and Sondra put on our black clothes and lay on the carpet.”

Johnny laughed. “You mean you got any clothes besides black ones?” The others laughed with him.

“Hey, I still have that cream dress I got married in!” Sondra said. “I might start wearing it when it warms up some. Besides, doesn’t swinging that splitter get you warm?”

“Ha!” Cody laughed. “By the time you’re almost warm, you’re worn out from swinging it!”

The preacher had insisted they stay near last night’s fire and “keep vigil” — in other words, lie in wait and shoot anyone who followed the smoke, whether driven by hope of loot or plain curiosity. They’d shot a couple dozen through the day this way, dragging the bodies into a building. By evening, no targets had shown up for a few hours and Worleigh finally called off the “vigil.” They retreated to an office building a few blocks away to make camp.

They ate a cold supper by lantern light, blinds drawn to shut away the world outside. As Jared finished his can of pork and beans, his forehead began itching. He rubbed it without thinking much about it, then looked at his grimy fingers. Looking up again, he caught a glimpse of something in Ray-Ban’s sunglasses. “Hey Ray… hold still a minute.” He peered into the warped mirror of the lens.

“What is it? I got something on my face?”

“No, something on mine.” He rubbed his forehead again, then walked into the bathroom and shone his flashlight into the mirror. The smoke and grime of last night’s work, and the sweat of today’s, must have mixed with the oil that Worleigh had dabbed on his forehead. Whatever it was, it was making him itch. He cleaned his face with a wet-wipe, and that helped with the itching. He looked in the mirror again.

He saw it best while shining the flashlight across his forehead from the side. The crosses had raised low welts, and what he saw in the mirror gave him a chill:


Jared shook his head — it was just a weird coincidence. Had to be. What would Worleigh say about it? he thought, and suddenly guessed: The opposite of what you saw in the mirror, of course. You are faithful to the work of Gowd-a — amen? The preacher was already cranking up his evening “lesson” — Jered could hear him all the way in here, and Worleigh would probably watch for anyone trying to dodge it.

“Amen,” he muttered, and pulled his hat on. The hat covered the marks well enough — but the real mark was already inside him and all of them, and they would carry it to their grave.


Sunday, November 07, 2010 No comments

Sunday Afternoon… on the Road

Current Music: God’s DJs

The time may change, but free time is ever at a premium for your humble blog-host. I did find an unexpected free hour early this morning — I went to bed at 11:30 last night, figuring that a baby in the house meant nobody would get “an extra hour of sleep,” then woke up at 6:30 with a full night’s sleep. Mason didn’t wake up until 7:30, and in a good mood once Granddad showed up to get him out of the crib. Then he ate a good breakfast, but I digress.

Snippet decided that since The Boy is in jail for two weeks (oh yes… I forgot to mention, he tested positive on a breathalyzer last week, claims it was Listerine, yeah right), she’d go visit her mom overnight. To seal the deal, she came to church with Mason and me, then I took her to meet her mom. She has Mason for the night, which is good in a way but also means we have to go pick her up instead of telling her mom to keep her. :-P So that, and a leisurely lunch at Waffle House (since Mrs. Fetched has the flu), took me to 2 p.m. when Mrs. Fetched called: “Did you remember that Daughter Dearest’s concert is at 3?”

I hadn’t, but I didn’t feel like admitting it and listening to the resultant imprecations. “I’ll go straight there from here,” I said, here meaning the retail district where I happened to be getting gas. In her car.

“Yeah, but you have to stop by here to pick up the tickets.” Oops. That was going to set me back a little, but I figured I could show up about 20 minutes late without missing too much. I buzzed home, switched cars in case Mrs. Fetched felt up to going to The Boy’s visitation, and got on my way. To my surprise, I didn’t get behind too many slowpokes, and managed to get there only 15 minutes late — just in time for Daughter Dearest’s chorus to go onstage. Naturally, I went into the venue on the wrong side (DD told me later that I made the president of the college stand up, big whoop-dee-do) but took my seat just as they were filing in.

DD was naturally hungry after the concert — I think she doesn’t eat much or anything beforehand — so I took her to a restaurant where she got a martini. Hey, she’s 21, and after a concert and after dealing with Snippet and M.A.E. yesterday I told her she could have as many as she needed. “No I can’t, I have homework,” she said. I guess I’ll get her good and sloshed during winter break.

So I got the call from the wife: she wasn’t up to getting to the jail for The Boy’s visitation. Looking at the time, I was in pretty good shape, so I gave the waitress (one of DD’s college acquaintances) the plastic, took the daughter-unit back to the campus, and headed back to town. I got there with 10 minutes to spare by the schedule, quite a bit more by the reality. These days, “visitation” means you get to talk to your inmate offspring via videophone — maybe with a little hacking, we could stay home and Skype him — but at least it was some facsimile (literally) of visual contact. We ran down the allotted time with trivialities, then I check to see what the next visitation time would be… Friday evening, it turns out. Oh well, Mrs. Fetched should be better by then. Maybe Snippet and Mason will come too.

Home. Rum. Blog. I’ll probably turn in early tonight, just to get an early start again tomorrow. I might actually get to work by the nominal starting time…

Friday, November 05, 2010 2 comments

The Final Harvest

… of 2010, at FAR Manor, anyway. The frost is on the way tonight, and we had some frost up on the garage roof and the cars this morning. Fortunately, the foliage and fruits weren’t affected. I’m guessing about three pounds of surprise chow here.

Green tomatoes

We put the big ones in the window, hoping they’ll ripen. The smaller ones I diced up and made over a quart of green salsa. I’ll post a recipe if it turns out to be edible.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010 No comments

Wednesday Wibbles

Wibble: (UK, Internet slang) Meaningless or content-free chatter in a discussion; drivel, babble.

A lot of little stuff has been happening lately, none of which warrants their own posts…

Hey, DoubleRed might have moved out! Her computers and “stuff” is gone, just the furniture remains.

• • •

Mrs. Fetched opined last night that Snippet might be pregnant again. AAAAARRRRRRRRGH!!!!! But she asked The Boy this morning and he says she isn’t. whew On the other hand, other people say she is. AAAAARRRRRRRRGH!!!!! That would be worse than the elections last night. Both of them need to get fixed, pronto.

• • •

Possible scorpion on doughnutOK, click on this picture to get the full-sized version. Tell me that’s not a deep-fried scorpion embedded in this doughnut. Mrs. Fetched says it’s a blob of chocolate. She’s welcome to eat it if she’s that sure. (I used a +4 closeup filter on this.)

• • •

After downgrading from the iPhone, I dug the old iPod 5G out of the basket it was languishing in and put it back in service. One of the things I find I missed about it (without realizing) is just how good the battery life is on that thing. I had it playing pretty much all the way up to Michigan during that 13-hour drive in September, and it had plenty of juice in reserve. It wheezed at work on Monday, and it surprised me until I realized I hadn’t charged it in about a week. Fortunately, I still had the iPhone charger on my desk. I’m thinking about replacing the case with something that doesn’t obscure the screen and deaden the click wheel.

• • •

Looks like our first frost will be Saturday morning (forecast low of 30°F). I'll have to gather the volunteer tomatoes Friday evening and put them in the kitchen window; maybe they’ll ripen — and if not, I guess we’ll have fried green tomatoes. If I’m going to ride the motorcycle to work (and it will need to stop raining first), I might as well bite the bullet and put the second liner in my jacket. Not to mention the wiring for the gloves.

• • •

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) started on Monday. I’d love to participate, but I’ve talked about why I can’t before. This year adds a new reason (besides Mason): I want to finish White Pickups this month, so that’s my informal NaNoWriMo goal for this year.

• • •

Mason in vampire costumeHallowe’en was kind of a bust this year, despite the near-perfect weather — we only had one group of kids come by, so there’s a pretty good pile of candy left in the bucket. Mrs. Fetched took Mason and his parental units to the outlet maul, where the stores were dishing out candy to the kids. Mason had a vampire outfit, pictured here, but he didn’t like the collar and kept pulling it off. He also managed to lose a shoe, so maybe he should have gone in drag and been Cinderella instead. :-P

• • •

With all the people at the manor, the septic tank has once again filled up and needs to be pumped. I might go into the office tomorrow just so I can walk to a working bathroom.

• • •

And that’s all the news that is news at FAR Manor.

Monday, November 01, 2010 6 comments

White Pickups, Episode 59


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Go-Big Bob had misgivings about Worleigh’s plan — mainly because he was the one who would get shot if anything went wrong — but he’d signed up, for better or worse, and he was more afraid of the certainty of looking like a coward than the possibility of death. Go big or go home, after all. But the clouds above reflected his mood: low, grey, and a little uncertain. It seemed like a miracle in itself that Worleigh knew of a liquor store that hadn’t been looted — in downtown Atlanta, no less! — although it looked as if someone had left abruptly; there were empty food containers strewn about and the back door was standing open. A street vendor’s food cart was another seeming miracle, and the two together made the bait. The cart made plenty of noise as he pushed it down the street toward the presumed gang-bangers, bottles clinking and wheels rumbling. The trucks parked along the curb whispered their invitations — Nothing to fear. Nothing to worry about — but they too were part of the plan.

At last, someone stepped out and saw Bob… or rather, the cart. “Hey!” Bob ducked, pushed, then darted between two parked trucks. The cart rumbled down the street a few more feet before slowing; Bob dodged onto the sidewalk as the gunfire started. “That’s right!” the sentry yelled, “You better run! Whooooooo!” He fired a couple times more into the air before Bob ducked around the first street corner he reached.

He stopped for a moment, felt himself over — no holes but the ones he’d been born with — and started jogging back to his companions. A moment later, he heard the sentry whoop and heard more voices, fading as he turned this way and that around each block to confound any pursuit. He nearly jogged right by the others before they called to him, making him jump.

“Shit!” he gasped. “That about scared me worse than the shooting!”

“Tame your tongue!” Worleigh snapped. “Have they taken our gift?”

“Sounds like they did. The first one sure sounded happy, and I heard more coming.”

“It is well, then. Let them drink their fill, then we shall smite them in their tents.”

“They don’t have — never mind.”

They edged closer as evening fell. As they drew within three blocks of where Bob had abandoned the cart, they could hear the revelry in full swing. While (and after) Bob was delivering their Trojan Booze-Cart, others scoured nearby shops for various items. They took turns dressing: black shirts and pants, moccasins or slippers, balaclavas. They painted random lines and spots across their exposed faces, and each took a long knife and a pistol. The night dragged on, and they took turns dozing inside.

At last, the party noises faded and died. “This is a night for cold steel, not hot lead,” Worleigh told them, laying aside his long chromed .410 revolver, “but keep the other at hand in case you need it. Do not scruple to spare any of them, for they are devoted to destruction — man, woman, and child — and do not defile yourself with the females or any treasures of this place. When you have finished your holy work, we shall purify those dwellings with fire.”

“What about their guns?” Frank asked.

Worleigh thought a moment. “Guns you have, but the Lord shall provide ammunition. Take only what you can carry easily, and do not spend time looking for such. Only take what you see as you do your work.”

Sleeping sentries were the first under the knives; few if any knew what happened before finding themselves in the afterlife. A stumbling drunken youth wearing gang colors was set upon and perforated before he had a chance to make much noise. On a cold night, few were out by choice. With the streets cleared of the living, they paired up and went through each building, knifing anyone they found. Dogs barked, but none of the victims woke or gave it any thought before it was too late; most of the dogs were small enough that they were simply set on and stomped or stabbed to death like their masters. Frank ended up shooting a larger mongrel, but by then there were few survivors; recreational gunfire was such a part of life here that once again none of the remaining living even awoke for it. At last, as the sky began to lighten with the coming dawn, the eight of them gathered bloody and panting around the now-empty cart.

“It is well,” said Worleigh, picking up the gas cans they had left at the corner. He lifted a finger into the air. “The wind is behind us. We can pour out half on the first building on each side, and the wind will carry it down the street. Save a little in each, that we may use it to start the fire.” He gave one can to Jared, who crossed the street and splashed the gas around the lobby, propping the front doors open. Ray-Ban did likewise on the other side.

“The holy fire shall purify this defiled place,” said Worleigh, pouring the rest of the gasoline into two water bottles. He twisted a strip of rag for each bottle and inserted it, then handed the bottles to Frank and Steve. “Now light these, and cast them in.”

Palmer’s voice crackled over the radio. “Smoke! Down toward Atlanta!” he said. “You can see it from the overpass.”

“Anyone else out there?”

“Just Tim and me.”

“What is it?” asked Cody, standing on the overpass and watching the plume of black smoke.

“Nothing good,” said Patterson.

“An ill omen,” Delphinia said. “Be watchful, lest the fire descend among us unaware.”

“What? You’re saying someone set it?” asked Palmer. “How could you know that?” Delphinia only shook her cowled head.

“She might just be jawbonin’,” Cleve said later, “but all the same, I think it’s smart to start taking precautions. Nobody rides alone, for one thing, and nobody rides unarmed. We need to start patrolling, just in case. And we need to be ready to defend our home.”



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