Friday, September 29, 2017

Pub Chatter #111

     Alright, folks one more time. I set out tonight to avoid saying anything about the “taking a knee” bullshit. Boom, I’m assaulted by a news story asking does the First Amendment protect the anthem protests. Of course, the answer was “yes.” I agree, however, Americans need to be clear about what “protect” means. The First Amendment protects our right to express ourselves freely. We all have the right to say, “Screw America” if that’s how we feel. You cannot be jailed, tortured or fined for doing so. However, there is no protection against being shunned, criticized or fired from your place of business by your fellow citizens. If you wish to protest, be mature enough to accept the consequences of your action.

     Which brings me to the intended topic of the day----independence. I am one of many people who believe personal liberty is at risk in America. The threat comes not from polar opinions, racial identification, or political ideologies. Competing economic theories are not to blame. It is the thoughtless surrender of our independence.

     Freedom, with all the rights we hold dear, cannot exist without independence. A man cannot be truly free while he is dependant on government for his basic needs. Do not be deceived, when government supplies your food, shelter, healthcare and security; you are not free---you are a slave.

     America has traded generations of independent, self-reliant, productive people for an entitled, who-is-going-to-take-care-of-me, litter of dependants. Recent disasters have dramatically highlighted the change. It infuriates me to see people like the mayor of San Juan whining to reporters that the government isn’t doing enough to take care of her. I get it, I’m old and out of touch. But, does no one today see that the price of surrendering personal responsibility is our liberty?

     “Give me liberty or give me death,” said Patrick Henry. I think the modern corollary goes, “Give me benefits, you want me to die?" America is older but no wiser.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Pub Chatter #110

     You just can’t please some people. They express a point of view and when you use the same view to reveal their hypocrisy, you’re the bad guy. Liberals have been selling the notion that all the world is connected. I can buy that idea. Here are six degrees of separation--- of sorts.

     According to NFL’ers, taking a knee has nothing to do with the anthem, veterans and the Constitution. They say it is about the police. Play along for a minute now.
The police enforce the laws drawn up under the Constitution
The Constitution is the basis for the American government
The government’s symbol is the flag
The flag is carried onto the field by vets
Who served in defense of all the people.
People who are protected at home by the police.

     Tell me again how everything is connected, but taking a knee has nothing to do with the flag, veterans or the Constitution. Did I mention how many cops are veterans? Listen NFL’ers. My son is a cop and I’m damned proud of it. I don’t care what color you are, I hope to hell, if it ever comes down to it he shoots first and stays alive. End of story.

     Today I canceled my insurance with USAA. They may look like veterans, but they are still NFL sponsors. I will continue to work through the list of those companies feeding the protest and delete them from my life.

     I support the right of every American to protest anything his heart desires. As an author, I am all for First Amendment rights. However, the First Amendment does not guarantee freedom from the consequences of your actions or words. If my writing slanders someone, I must bear responsibility for my words. If NFL owners and players want to thumb their noses at the values of their fans, they must bear the consequences of their actions.

     Let me share one more liberal concept that doesn’t apply to liberals. A large part of removing the Pledge and prayer from school had to do with the classroom being a captive audience. The protests of the NFL are to a captive audience. The fans have paid their admission, taken their seats and are forced to endure the opinions of the players and owners. Freedom, my friends, is a two-way street. You don’t get freedom without granting it in kind.

     Wake up America, you are being pushed into silence and tacit acceptance of socialism by people whose agenda is the enslavement of all who oppose them. Big Brother wears many faces but has one goal. He that has ears to hear, let him hear.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Pub Chatter #109

     I was transported back in time for the last forty-eight hours and just got home. Cody came to visit. With two boys in the house, I found myself revisiting some of my favorite sayings. “You boys take that s@#t outside.” “Cody, leave that alone.” “Titan don’t eat that.” “HyDee quit barking at the boys.” “Y’all need a bath.” Just like the old days.

     We went to the Skokomish River to let the boys play. Saw salmon headed upstream. Titan gave chase but didn’t catch any fish. No surprise there. Nobody in my company has caught a fish since the eighties. I knew salmon die after spawning. Today I learned what the river banks smell like when that happens. Not something you think about until you experience it.

     It was nice to get outside and relax. We rolled out a new computer system at work over the weekend. I did well---not a single cuss word. The rollout did delay the blog posts I had written. They finally were posted yesterday and had a good response. Incawhoots is over 6,000 views now. Thank you, faithful readers.

     I have a new short story in the works. The title, for now, is Homoculus. I’ll let you Google it. I thought I’d do a story set in my new hometown of Shelton. Although I won’t call it that in the story, I’ll try to let it show. I really like it here and promise to be nice. Except, when it comes to politics, religion, animal cruelty, taxes, fees, automated answering systems, sports, world news, free lunches, bashing the police and the cost of tea in China.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Pub Chatter #108

     The exercise of liberty demands responsibility. Saying or doing whatsoever one will without taking personal responsibility for one’s actions is not liberty, it is a tyranny of the cheapest sort. Any man willing to speak his might must possess the backbone to accept the consequences of doing so without whimpering about unfairness.

     The decision to “bring attention to your cause,” in the workplace is generally frowned upon by both management and customers; and rightly so. Such freedom of expression is unseemly and distasteful. No one should expect to be honored or thanked for it. Americans are free to “take a knee” anywhere for any reason, but no one is required to reward you for it. A reaction is also freedom of expression. Trying to dictate the reaction of others is the true denial of freedom.

     If Americans are offended by athletes exercising their freedom by “taking a knee,” exercise your right to react freely. Don’t go to the games, don’t buy tickets, don’t watch on television and boycott sponsors. If you are not willing to do this, don’t play the hypocrite by complaining. That’s easy for me to say because I’m not a football fan. When it happens in baseball, I’ll feel your pain.

     Professional sports are for our entertainment when they fail to entertain turn away. The world will go on and more worthless college degree holders will line up for welfare. The American public does not exist at the whim of sports teams---although cities stupid enough to build stadiums at taxpayer expense disagree. On the contrary, professional sports exist at our pleasure.

     The greatest bit of wisdom any man can possess is to know that there is a time and a season for everything. Long ago, people were taught this as children. Alas, not every man has this wisdom. In season the fruit of our actions is sweet and cause for rejoicing. Taken too soon, it is bitter and unpalatable. Experienced too late, it is putrid and poisonous to our health.

     Even though everyone has the freedom of expression, responsible adults know that choosing to act contrary to the rules of the workplace can get you fired or at least seriously damage a career. The wealthy owners and stars of professional sports think they are above the rules by which everyone lives.

     NFL players understand the concept of consequences on the football field. If they screw up a play, they understand the coach and fans are going to give them hell for it. However, they have never been held to this standard in their private lives. In school, college and life outside of professional sports, the rules have never applied to them. They have always been special cases. Lower forms of life are supposed to look the other way. No one should be surprised at their behavior now.

     Be a messenger of freedom. Voice your disgust with the NFL, but allow them the freedom to cut their own throats. The American people are not tyrants or dictators--and nobody’s doormat.

Pub Chatter #107

   Spent Saturday morning at the Gig Harbor Writers Meetup. It was a profitable morning for my new short story. Kimball’s Espresso Cafe closed on September fifteenth leaving us without a meeting place. We have adopted MarKee Coffee and Wine Bar and it serves quite nicely. Tried a MarKee Dark Mocha this morning--yum.

     Last night I started reading Library of Souls. It’s the third installment in Ransom Rigg’s story about Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children. I have a bit of a hit against the start that makes me wonder about my own writing. The protagonist in the story has developed/discovered the power to control the Hollowgasts (who are invisible eaters of peculiar children). It’s an intermittent thing that shows up when there’s no other escape. The power became necessary to the story because the antagonists were getting the upper hand. Stephen King did the same thing in Rose Madder. The antagonist was unbeatable against all comers only to turn to a wimp when confronted by the protagonists in the latter pages.

     I don’t believe in all-powerful or never dying antagonists or monsters. Jason, Freddie and the like are poor horror as far as I’m concerned. Of course, their immortality makes for a long series of movies. I’ve noticed film and television are adopting the same type of limitless antagonists--vampires in sunlight...etc. This may sound strange but that kind of story does not reflect reality. To me, it’s not believable. I have met real evil. It is not invincible. Which is not to say it is powerless.

     If you catch me turning my antagonists into wimps as the story goes on---call me out on it. Cry, “cheat” if my protagonists develop superpowers in moments of distress. Make me tell believable stories. I want to scare you, not bore you.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Pub Chatter #106

   Got my flu shot for this year. Last year we had four confirmed cases of the flu before the vaccines arrived, so we did a little better this time. I get the shot, always have, but I remain opposed to hospitals requiring workers to get one. It a more invasive requirement than standing for the national anthem and we don't get millions. Besides which, our customers aren’t required to have one and most of the time that’s where healthcare workers pick it up. Choose your poison, but, if you don’t get the shot and you come into the ER with the flu, you get zero sympathy from me. Care, yes. Sympathy, no.
      Freedom includes the right to make our own mistakes. Americans want to choose their own course. The problem is that we don’t want to be responsible for where that course takes us. We want no fault life to go with our no fault auto. This has spawned a one sided, narrow thinking, holier-than-thou liberal movement dedicated to caring for us “for our own good.”

     They know how we should look, what we should eat, how we should speak and what we should think. They even know the best statues to look at. They pretty much have our lives planned out. God help us if we want something different. The old time religion has nothing on the Democratic Party when it comes to the condemnation of heretics.

     The good news is that everything is free when you are a liberal. Health care, education, food, shelter, everything. Don’t worry the “rich” will pay for it. The rich being those people with businesses and jobs who pay taxes. What taxes can’t pay for, we can borrow. It’s all good. No consequences. No worries. No freedom. Good ol’ Uncle Sam will take care of us. All we have to do is be good and get in line.

     If only Uncle Sam’s state wasn’t separated from God’s church. God could tell Sam that humans never stay in line. For every group that rises up to demand obedience, there’s two ready to rebel against the whole thing. Folks are made that way. Sometimes you can shame them or pound them into submission, but people will stay up late thinking up ways to beat you next time.

     I don’t tell just anybody this, but I’m a native (second generation) Californian. However, I have this rebel streak that argues for me being abducted by aliens from a Louisiana bayou and left on my parents doorstep. Dixie has my heart. I have no doubts that were I around in 1861, I’d have enlisted in the Confederate Army. Fighting an unwinnable war on the principle that it is the honorable path for free men still fires my imagination. Slavery never enters the equation. That’s why I can tell you with my hand up that the tributes to Lee, Jackson, and Davis around the South are symbols of slavery and oppression only in the imaginations of those who want our compliance more than the exercise of liberty. This kind of ego-centric, self-righteousness hears no reason, sees no other viewpoint, feels neither empathy nor sympathy. It has one end---the spilling of blood.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pub Chatter #105

    Stopped by Smokin’ Mo’s this evening on the way to see IT. Bacon and Bleu salad with smoked chicken was incredible. They always have great food. If you are ever in Shelton, be sure to stop in. The owners are from South Carolina and Oklahoma, so it’s a little taste of home for me. I don’t know of any place else in Washington where you’ll find smoked bologna sliders.

      Hot apple pie ala mode latte in hand, I settled in to watch the new version of IT. Stephen King fan or not, if you haven’t seen it, you need to go. Thumbs up for this one. The movie is strictly the tale of the protagonists as kids in 1989 Derry. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say IT will be back for them to battle as adults in the next installment.
     The characters idiosyncrasies aren’t fully developed, due to time constraints. They are there in the movie, but if you haven’t read the book some of them may not mean much to you and they tend to disappear when the characters finally confront Pennywise. Nevertheless, it is a complete story and can certainly stand on its own without the book.
      There was one set of screams from our all adult audience. Pennywise was creepier in appearance this time around and well played, but I hesitate to say he was scarier. Bev’s father, (played by Stephen Bogaerts), now that dude was creepy. he played the incestuous sleaze bag so well. All in all, I left feeling like I got my money’s worth. Given the price of tickets, I don’t say that often Treat yourself and go seen it on the big screen with the dolby theater sound.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Trails of Trouble Chapter 60

   Bryn jolted awake. Moonlight seeped through the canopy of leaves covering his bed. Silhouetted against the entrance loomed an obscured figure. Bryn’s dagger jumped into his hand as he sprang into a crouch.
     “Relax,” a voice said. It was not the voice that usually gave this advice, but it was a familiar one. “It is good to see you again after so long.”
     “Grandfather?” Faryn said from beside him.
     “Ah, I am not forgotten,” the seer said. Stones clicked and light appeared beneath the seer’s smiling face. “I should feign surprise to find you together.”
     “I can explain,” Bryn began.
     “Can you now?” Coryn said with a chuckle. “There is no need. It was meant to be. However, I think a hug from my granddaughter is in order.”
     Faryn leaped into the old one’s arms nearly knocking him off his feet. Coryn motioned for Bryn to join them. The canopy covering them disappeared; thrown to the wind. Steel glinted in the moonlight.
     “No,” Bryn shouted. “It’s alright.”
     One Eye and Vulryn, their faces painted with sheepish grins, slowly returned daggers to their scabbards. Coryn studied the pair for a moment before bidding them all to sit.
     “So many familiar faces,” Coryn said. “Each face lined with the cares of this world. Duty commands many sorrows; it leads down trails filled with trouble. Tonight, be glad that the Creator has brought us together again. Every trail we shall walk leads from this place and carries us where it wills. Do not be afraid for every trail comes together again.
     “You’re not going to get all preachy, are you?” One Eye said.
     Bryn looked from the seer to the smuggler and back again with knit brow and wonder in his eyes.
     “Yes,” Coryn said. “We know each other. I have known...what name are you using now?”
     “One Eye will do.”
     “I have known One Eye for many years,” Coryn continued. “I remember when he had two eyes. He could see well, but he wasn’t any better looking. Don’t worry, I have not come to preach. I have come to shine a little light into the darkness. Come with me.”
     Coryn led them from the safety of the camp into the jungle night. They walked the highway branches along the banks of Hiddekel until they came to a place they all knew, but never by night.
     The Grove of Ryn, silver in the moonlight, drew them down to the ground. A well of supernatural stillness, deep as solitude and wide as silence, opened in the circle of trees. The four floated on its spiritual surface as Coryn gathered together stones from those strewn about the grove. While they watched, he patiently stacked the stones in the very center of the grove. Then, with a clap of the seer’s hands, fire leaped from the stones in a fountain of blue light. bryn, Faryn, Vulryn and One Eye walked an ever tightening circle around the flames until each claimed a point of the compass around the fire.
     Coryn walked a circuit around them; first left, then right. He stopped to stand behind Vulryn.
     “The King of Valir is fallen. A new king reigns. A forest rises from the desert.”
     Again, he walked; left, then right to stand behind One Eye.
     “The dragon stirs the sea. He roars upon the shore. A lasting peace is buried with the king.”
     Left, then right to Faryn.
     “From the belly of the beast. A nightmare walks the shore. A heart borne wrapped in leaves.”
     Left, then right to Bryn.
     “Abomination walks the land. Beware the dragon’s jaws. A word worth more than gold.”
    Bryn felt eyes on him. He slowly peeked out from one eye. Sunlight flooded in forcing him to close it again. He tried again; one eye, then the other. Two large golden eyes stared back at him. Bryn struggled to sit up.
     “Whoa, General,” Oto said.
     “Where’s the roof?” Fayrn asked.
     Bryn looked up. Oto did the same.
     “I don’t know,” he said.
     “I had the strangest dream,” Faryn told him. “I dreamed my grandfather was here.”
     “And we went with him to the Grove.”
     “How did you know?”
     “Either I had the same dream,” he said. “Or it wasn’t a dream.”
     “No dream,” Oto said.
     Bryn rubbed his eyes and fought back a yawn. The further he swept the cobwebs away, the more convinced he became that Oto was telling the truth. It was too strange to be real and too real to be a dream. If not a dream, then what? Maybe it was a ghostly visitation.The chance that Coryn was still alive was slim at best. A ghost made sense; sort of. He’d never heard of a shared vision, but he supposed it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. The opportunity to ponder it any farther was interrupted by a soldier waving a scrap of paper at him.
     “General Bou,” I have a message for you,” he called. “Captain One Eye said to give this to you.”
     Bryn carefully unfolded the paper. He had battled a dragon, but this was more frightening. As he looked down on the four words scrawled there, the night before began to make sense. The note said simply, “My name is Boryn.” Bryn realized he knew the smuggler when he had two eyes as well. Only he was Sergeant Boryn back then and the other General Bou rarely made a step without the sergeant by his side.
     “God speed, sergeant,” Bryn mumbled.
     “Nothing, soldier. Has the captain has left camp?” Bryn asked though he already knew the answer.
     “Yes sir, General,” the soldier said. “He left early this morning going south.”
     “And the seer?” Bryn added.
     “Yes sir, only the seer was going north.”
     “Spread the word,” Bryn ordered. “We are moving out.”
     “Yes sir.” The soldier saluted. “Where to sir?”
     “Down the road to battle.”

Trails of Trouble Chapter 59

     The car was loaded with a few more humans than was deemed safe and Vulryn engaged the drive. Nothing, the car refused to move. The humans had a brake of their own. One Eye picked up the commuwire device and waited for the humans at the top to answer. In his most diplomatic voice he explained to whoever picked up the other end that he intended to send humans up or feed them to the viath in the river at the pleasure of the Lift operators topside. He gave the operators thirty seconds to decide which it would be. The car began to move up.
     “How many died on the way here?” Bryn asked.
     “Only a small handful of extremely stupid ones,” One Eye said. “No great loss.”
   The humans garrison that faced Faryn’s force at the Lift exercised more discretion than those at Vix. Once they realized they were outnumbered and surrounded as many as could piled into the waiting car and rode the Lift home. Those left behind surrendered without a fight.
     Faryn’s hundred took up defensive positions in the outlying jungle while Vulryn when to work disabling the Lift. Seeing the Lift fall to an unknown force prompted Raryn’s spies dispatched a runner to warn their king. It turned out to be unnecessary. As arranged, Faryn sent two of the captured men to their leader with a message.
     “Tell them General Bou is back.”

     The message arrived as General Jamal was seeing King Raryn out his door. Captain Jaekel met his commander at the door with the messengers in tow.
     “General, I have two men from the garrison at the Lift.”
     “What the hell?” The general said. “Get them in my office before anyone else sees them.”
     “I want to hear this,” Raryn said.
     Captain Jaekel’s hands trembled as he escorted the soldiers into the office. He didn’t like the general’s clinched jaws and narrow eyes. He mentally began to kick himself for springing this while the bird was still hear. He was destined for a butt chewing for certain.
    General Jamal dropped down behind his desk. His eyes sent rapid fire, random daggers flying around the room and mumbled unintelligibly when Raryn moved a chair to sit along side the general’s desk.
     All right, let’s have it,” he ordered.
     “Lt. Werd, sir. First signal Corps.” The young officer followed with a crisp salute that the general waved away. “We were attacked at dawn two days ago by a large force of Valir. Captain Myder led the bulk of the men to safety in the Lift, but about twenty of us were taken captive.”
    “How many dead?” Jamal asked.
    “Dead, sir?”
    “Dead, leutenient, Jamal said. “As in no longer alive, killed in action, sent to the fortress in the sky. Dead.”
     “None, sir.”
     Color bloomed in the general’s neck. He was on his feet, red face temporal veins throbbing, the muscles in his neck turned to knotted ropes.
     “What!” Jamal screamed. “You let a bunch of freakin’ birds capture the most important strategic post in the Boubouja without a fight? By God you’re going to wish you were dead. You and Myder, is it, are going to pray for death.”
     The leutenient’s eyes rolled to white. His knees gave way and he hit the floor with a loud thud.
     “Those birds, as you call them,” King Raryn rounded on the general. “Are trained as warriors from their youth.”
     With a blur of the general’s hand, Raryn had a knife at his throat; the point wedged just under his beak.
     “Sit down and shut up,” Jamal ordered through gritted teeth. “I’m in the mood to kill someone. It might as well be you.”
     The king retreated to his chair to glare at the humans.
     “Patience,” Raryn told himself. “Perhaps the general would join his men in praying for death.”
     “Get over here,” Jamal snarled at the remaining messenger.
     The man’s knees buckled, but held. He shuffled across the room to tremble at the edge of the general’s desk. The general threw the knife into the desktop, planted his fists on either side of the weapon and stood, head down chuffing until his breathing slowed. When he looked up, the fire in his eyes had cooled to steel.
     “Soldier,” he said. “Tell me the absolute truth and you go back to the ranks. Lie to me even a little and you’ll join your officers, you understand?”
     “Yes sir.”
     “Start from the beginning.”
     “They must have come in the night, sir,” he said. “When we woke up they had the compound surrounded. The sentries were all bound and gagged. Capt. Myder ordered everyone into the car and threw the lever. Most of the men got away. The rest of us were forced into the barracks. Later that day, the leader picked the leutenient and me out and told us to deliver a message to the human general in Ai. She said to tell you, General Bou is back.”
     “Impossible,” Raryn, his nerve returned, said.
     General Jamal shot the king a questioning glance.
     “I can prove it,” Raryn said.
     “In a minute,” the general said. He turned back to his trembling soldier. “She? You said, ‘she.’”
     “The leader of the Valir that attacked us was a female.”
     “This gets better by the minute,” Jamal said and plopped down in his chair. “King Raryn, you have something to add?”
     “I don’t know who is leading these rebels,” Raryn told him. “But, it most assuredly is not General Bou.
     “And you know this, how?”
     “General Bou is chained in the dungeon of my new residence.”

     General Jamal followed the King of Valir through a wooden door and down a series of steps carved into the boggy soil beneath the work crews. Tiny rivulets seeped from the walls to form pools in the lowest points of the floor. Jamal wondered if this bird king realized this soil would never support the marble and stone of his royal fantasies. All these outland species wanted to be human.
     At length they came to a set of bamboo bars. Four Valir sitting at a table just beyond the bars jumped to attention. Their leader quickly opened the lock securing the bars and swung the door open. A few feet farther in they came to a wall of bouja wood held together by iron straps. Another lock was opened and another door passed. The long room beyond the solid door was entirely without light. The prisoners bound to the walls and posts within recoiled from the light thrown off by the torches.
     Raryn took a torch from one of the servants and motioned for Jamal to follow him into the darkness. A post was set into the far wall of the lightless room. Chained to the post, his hands dangling above his head, was a mud covered Valir sitting in his own excrement. The stench was even worse back here. Jamal began to take small breaths through his mouth.
     The prisoner’s right leg was bent outward at an odd angle that made the chains redundant. Jamal knew that leg would never hold the creature’s weight again. Raryn brought the light closer. The prisoner’s uneven face would forever carry the scars of the beating he endured. The wretch narrowed his eyes against the light, but refused to look away.
     “General Jamal,” Raryn said. “May I present General Byryn Bou.”

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Trails of Trouble Chapter 58

   Bryn stopped; looked around. Something was not right. Something was missing. It took a moment to realize One Eye had quit snoring. In the far corner, a single golden eye peered up at him. One Eye shook his head and shifted in his chair.
     “She’ll be here,” he said. “All that pacing is disturbing my sleep.”  
     “It’s the only thing that ever has,” Bryn said.
     “You should try it sometime,” One Eye countered. “It might sweeten your disposition a little.”
     “There’s nothing wrong with my disposition,” Bryn said. “Nothing, that is, that a bit of news wouldn’t fix.”
     “You keep saying that.”
     “And you keep ignoring me,” One Eye told him.
     “I can’t afford to relax,” Bryn shot back. “People are depending on me.”
     “That’s exactly why you can’t afford not to relax,” One Eye said with a smile. “It’s something I learned from yo...well, never mind where I learned it. It’s good advice. Come over here and sit down. I promise all your problems will still be there when you get up again.”
     “That’s a relief,” Bryn said. He lowered himself into the chair next to One Eye and leaned back to imitating his friend’s posture. “How’s that?”
     “I don’t think you’re trying very hard,” One Eye said. “But, it’s a start.”
     One by one, Bryn let his tired muscles relax. He eyes lids slid slowly down. Sleep was out of the question, but he felt better.
     “Okay, I’m relaxed,” he said. “No wiser, but relaxed.”
     “Wisdom takes time,” One Eye told him. “For now, let that overgrown sense of right and duty take over.”
     “We can’t stay here,” Bryn said. “We’re no match for Raryn.”
     “And we are dragging a load of human prisoners,” One Eye added.
     “We can’t let them go,” Bryn replied. “Or can we?”
     “We would do well to be rid of them.”
     “And it would force Raryn’s next move,” Bryn sat up. “Tell the troops; we move as soon as it’s light.”
     “Now, leave things to me,” One Eye said. “You get some sleep.”
     “I think I will,” Bryn closed his eyes again. This time he did relax and sleep rushed in to claim him.

     Bryn shielded his eyes from the morning sun as he watched the sick and wounded freed from the cages in Vix wind their way through the trees to the northeast. Their trail would not be hard to follow, but he didn’t think Raryn’s army would bother to pursue them. Bryn didn’t think Raryn could hold the Boubouja without help from the humans. Raryn needed the Lift more than he needed to recapture prisoners. At the moment, the Lift was in the hands of Faryn and one hundred warriors. Once the wounded were safely away from Vix, Bryn would reinforce her. They were still no match for Raryn’s army. However, if they could get the humans back atop the Edge where they belonged and disable the Lift, they might buy enough time to rally an army large enough to restore freedom to Valir.
     “I’m relaxed,” Bryn told himself and thought himself a terrible liar.
     Small columns of warriors fanned out on the flanks of the mass of humans being pushed east by Bryn’s troops. One Eye made sure the humans offered little resistance.
     “Feel free to try and escape,” he encouraged the prisoners before setting out. “My troops have orders to kill any man not with this group. If they don’t, I’m sure our jungle will. Drag your feet on the march and we’ll feed you to the viath.”
     A few who tested his sincerity and were left in pools blood to the efficiency of jungle disposal. There was no attempt at stealth. Human and Valir alike crashed through the undergrowth, snapping fallen branches, trampling saplings and scattering floor litter in a riotous invitation for Raryn to follow.

     Two hundred miles away the invitation was being delivered. A lightly armed signal corps messenger in a sweat soaked tunic shuffled through the throng of workers stacking stone blocks and masons busily chipping away. He passed a rolled sheaf of bark to a sergeant stationed outside the working quarters of King Raryn. The sergeant tucked the message inside his clothes and disappeared inside while the messenger dropped to the ground beside the guards remaining at the door.
     The coming of the king transformed on the sleepy village of Ai into a bustling city overnight. A wall of rough cut timber rose from the southern end of the town towering over the rows of tents and hastily thrown together structures of ground dwelling humans. Human soldiers marched back and forth inside the walls in an endless display of ready power.
     The center of the village was giving birth to a wonder never seen by the Valir. A palace of stone, home to the new king, reached from the site of the old council house to touch the trees. A half dozen species of Tettians carrying rock and wood swarmed over the structure in imitation of the jungle ants. Deep within the mass of movement, King Raryn gave instructions for his new throne.
     “Highness,” a servant said with a bow. “The sergeant at arms is outside with an important message.”
     “Oh, very well,” Raryn said without a glance. “Send him in.”
     The sergeant waited with bowed head to be recognized. Raryn continued his unhurried study of some golden fabric smiling as it slipped smoothly through his fingers. He pulled a hand away long enough to wiggle long fingers in the sergeant’s direction.
     “Well?” Raryn said when there was no answer.
     “A message from Vix,” the soldier said.
     Raryn’s narrowed and a wrinkle crossed his brow. He turned still fondling the gold material, but pleasure was gone from his eyes. Long strides carried him to the waiting soldier.Snatching the message from his hands, Raryn ordered him from the room. The crease in his forehead grew deeper as he scanned the writing. He threw the message to the floor and stalked across the room. The sergeant narrowly avoided being hit by the flying door.        
     “Where did this come from?” the king demanded.
     “H-h-highness,” the sergeant stammered. “A signal corps courier delivered it.”
     “Was the courier from Vix?”
     “Forgive me Highness,” he answered. “I did not ask.”
     “Find him and bring him to me,” Raryn snarled.

     The report was true. The courier sacrificed a couple of fingers to convince the king. Raryn trod across a carpet of fawning toadies on his way to the human fortress. The royal storm caused less damage in human headquarters. Raryn’s demand to see General Jamal barely registered with the sleepy eyed captain manning the desk outside the general’s office.
     “King Raryn,” the general half rose from his seat. “What can I do for you?”
     “What are you doing about the attack on Vix?”
     “Vix? Oh yes, the prison. What about it? Jamal asked.
     “It has been attacked by rebels,” Raryn placed his hands on the general’s desk and leaned closer.
     “I’ve heard nothing about this,” Jamal said. “When?”
     “Yesterday,” Raryn assured him. “You’re entire garrison is dead or taken prisoner.”
     “And how do you know this?’
     “I have an army of my own,” Raryn sneered. “And, I keep my eyes open.”
     “Then, why don’t use use your army?” The general chided.
     “I fully intend to,” Raryn said. “But, we will not be bothered about your troops. I cannot say the same for Lord Zett when word of your lack of interest reaches his ears.”
          Jamal stroked his beard as he stared at Raryn with his heavy lidded eyes. The king’s threat to report him was as hollow as the head from which it rolled. Inwardly, he toyed with the idea of setting the old bird straight. The day for that would come. At the moment, he found the possibility of an armed resistance appealing. It certainly had more charm than the prospect of doing nothing but rotting away in this humid hell hole.

     “Very well.” Jamal leaned back in his chair. “It can’t hurt to have a look.”

     “I intend to do a great deal more than look,” Raryn assured him. “I want them annihilated.”

     “Have you considered where these rebels came from?” The general asked.

     “What do you mean?”

     “I mean, were we mistaken to think the Boubouja was secure?” Jamal lit his pipe and exhaled a cloud of blue smoke toward the ceiling. “If it was secure there should be no resistance left. But, what if the new threat comes from outside?”

     “We hold the Lift,” Raryn reminded him. “How could outsiders get in?”

     “The Lift is not the only way into and out of the Boubouja,” the general said. “It’s merely the easiest to use.”

     “Eeryn? You’re thinking Eeryn is behind this?”

     The general raised an eye brow and gave his head a quick tip.

     “It is possible,” he said. “Even probable.”

     Raryn lowered himself into a chair as he studied the general.

     “Yes, it does make sense,” the king said.

     While Raryn and Jamal readied their troops for a march to Vix, Bryn Bou and the rear guard caught up to One Eye by the shores of the Hiddekel. He had a feeling about where he might find what he was looking for. The building housing the Lift’s machinery was a tall wooden structure with a thatched roof that stood on stilts in the center of the compound. Through the open door, he saw Faryn. His heart began to beat again. Her back was to him as she was explaining the workings to One Eye. He was struck by the realization that he might not know her as well as he believed. He never considered that she might be mechanically inclined.

     “So, it is easily disabled,” she said. “From this end without destroying the Lift altogether.”

     “I like it,” One Eye told her.

     “So do I,” Bryn chimed in. “I don’t know what it is, but I like it.”

     “Bryn,” she cried and charged into his arms. “I missed you.”

     “I wonder,” he teased. “You seem to be doing fine without me.”

    “I was just showing One Eye the locks Vulryn made to keep the Lift from operating without having to destroy it.”

     “It’s just a series of wedges,” Vulryn said as he joined them. “But, they will do the job. We can stop the Lift from coming down whenever we want to. Of course, the humans should be able to do the same thing to keep us from going up.”

     “Let’s see how willing they are to do that,” One Eye said. “I’ll start sending these humans back where they came from.”

     The car was loaded with as many humans as seemed safe, however it refused to move. The humans had their own brake. One Eye used the commuwire to explain to the men at the top that he intended to send humans up or feed them to the viath in the river. He gave the operators thirty seconds to decide which it would be. The car began to move up.

     “How many died on the way here?” Bryn asked.

     “Only a small handful of extremely stupid ones,” One Eye said. “No great loss.”


Pub Chatter #104

     I don’t understand people who feel they have a right ignore the law without consequences. I understand not agreeing with the law. I can understand disobeying the law on moral principles. However, one’s personal opinions and moral beliefs do not excuse him from the prescribed consequences of his disobedience. The concept of a moral code that sanctions lawlessness without consequences is too foreign for me to comprehend.

     Slap my mouth and call me a racist, but not one in this country in violation of the law should be allowed to stay. Moreover, this country has no moral or civil responsibility to educate, shelter, or feed those here illegally. I hear people say the children should not be held responsible for the sins of the parents. However, I don’t hear stories of “Dreamers” going back to their country of origin when they learn their immigration status. It’s called atonement and many a child has had to atone for the sins of his parents. Regardless of age, they are here illegally whether we chose to use the word or not. Trespassing by any other name is still illegal entry.

     Another of this week’s criticisms of the President is his threat to completely stop doing business with countries that do business with North Korea. We hear of the dire consequences of stopping the flood of Chinese goods into our country. Wal-Mart’s shelves might go empty. Believe it or not we will survive. Would it be difficult? Yes, indeed. Things worth doing because they are the right thing to do are often difficult. Imagine an America manufacturing its own goods---that sounds like work---it sounds like jobs.

     Who will do those jobs if we deport the illegal immigrants? This may sound radical, but how about emptying the welfare rolls? Instead of calling to right to work, we could call it right to eat. Want to eat? Go to work. The government could use the welfare funds to train and relocate workers instead of just feeding them.

     This is more than a little dysthymic. Hey, get over it. I’m a grumpy old man and proud of it. Besides I know it will never happen. As long as there is a path with no difficult consequences, there will be lawlessness, malingering, and those supported by the labor of their neighbors. We are human. We are the best of creatures, we are the worst of creatures. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Pub Chatter #103

   I have been negligent of my duties at the pub this weekend. I managed to get Chapter 58 of Trails of Trouble over my thousand word limit at the Gig Harbor Writer’s meet up early on Saturday. Then, moving into my new house exploded into a weekend long adventure. Well, I’m back at work and making up for lost time. The Lost Crusader is ready to go. Trails of Trouble will get posted Tuesday and, hopefully, one more time before Saturday reappears.

     For those who work the night shift, improvise, adapt and overcome is more than just good advice, it’s a way of life. It can also be a good source of humor. My most recent adventure in adaptation came Saturday. While visiting the local Home Depot for something totally unrelated, I stumbled on a fancy washing machine someone returned without using. Unfortunately, the matching dryer was powered by gas. However, just a few feet away was an electric dryer of the same platinum color with a small dent at a huge price reduction. Though the dryer wasn’t made to stack on the washer, (the washer was made for stacking) with a little improvising my buddy Aaron and I got the dryer up there and working. True, you do have to stand on a step stool to work the dryer controls, but we now have both a washer and dryer for less money than the washer alone. It is a bit of an inconvenience, but it beats the hell out of another day at the laundromat.

     We were hoping to foster one of the dogs coming to Seattle from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. I think sometimes groups like the ASPCA and the Red Cross are hamstrung by their own bureaucracy. Evidently, they are content to feed, water and care for the dogs while the machinery slowly grinds out the standard response.

     I keep watching the news for the Antifa’s effort to save Houston from the fascist government’s intrusion. Nothing yet. Haven’t seen any BLM t-shirts. To be fair, no white robed figures among the rescuers either, but I have seen some mighty suspicious redneck types that could pass for white supremacists at work down there. Time will tell.

     Can you imagine if we gave a hurricane and every race was responsible only for its own? “Sorry, we can’t rescue you. You look like a white supremacist.” Or, “You’ll have to wait. The Hispanic boats are coming.” How about, “Fly on, there are only blacks on that roof.” Hell of a way to run a disaster. I wonder if any of the boats or choppers diverted around Confederate monuments so as not to traumatize the sensitive souls needing to be rescued?

     I’m just not flexible enough to be a modern thinker. If race and politics don’t matter in a disaster, why should they matter at all? I can’t bend that far.