16 November 2010

Chapter II, part 7

The fact that the government encouraged people to stick their noses in their neighbors business wasn't anything new, nor was it something anyone wise would ignore. Back in the Bush years, it was part of the national "vigilance" in the wake of 9-11. The Obama years had shifted focus from religious extremism to domestic issues, still in the name of terrorism. Alot of hunting guides and weekend warrior types got hauled in back then. As the economy went into convulsions since then, the focus had become more localized. Instead of calling some DHS hotline because your next door neighbor wore camo and drove a van, it was more about dropping a line to the local PD because the guy across the street had left his house after 10 pm. It wasn't like he was going to work, and the effort showed that you were on the correct side of the law. Some people probably still thought that they could get something out of the whole scheme, but there was nothing left to give.

With those thoughts streaming through his mind, Aaron carefully drove home, and he only went 8 miles out of his way to do so. He had enough insight and forethought to avoid the mobile checkpoints, this time. It was mid afternoon by the time he pulled into his driveway, and the clouds were breaking up enough to halt the incessant drizzle that had stained the day. He saw that his father-in-law had taken advantage of the break in the rain to split wood, and he got a rare, yet barely perceptible nod as idled by the main house on the way up the hill to his poor little singlewide. The old man begrudgingly tolerated Aaron, if only for his only daughters' sake, and in turn Aaron tried to respect him. After all, if it weren't for Becky's dad, he wouldn't even be with his family, much less living with a roof over his head. 

05 November 2010

I'm back....

I just put up a post that I was literally interrupted in the middle of writing - about two weeks ago. As in the rest of the "really real world", my little slice of heaven here in the Rockies is going through some turmoil, and as such my workload tripled overnight.
Anyway, enough with the excuses, and please accept my sincere apologies.

27 October 2010

Sorry for the delay...

We got our first winter storm of the season over the weekend, so I was out on I-70 until 0900 Tuesday. I'm proofing a long post for the second chapter, and it should be up late tonight.

Side note - After too much thought and some precious insight, I've decided to publish my first ebook. Although it will not be this story, (yet...), it will be along the same lines. The story is actually something that I wrote over 10 years ago, and I'm reworking the base to fit with "modern" times. With a little luck, and some tech intervention, I hope to have it out by Christmas. I'm planning a Kindle edition first, then... we'll see. 

22 October 2010

Chapter II, part 6

He had about 10 miles of unmaintained road before he got back to the state road, which he drove extremely carefully. Any road that wasn't an interstate hadn't seen any upkeep in years, and tearing up suspension parts was usually terminal for the vehicle. It wasn't that you couldn't find parts anymore - it was that you had to be really committed to pay what they cost. The influx of cheap foreign parts had dried up at about same time the road crews quit working, so the domestic NOS supply became incredibly valuable in short time. The days of replacing parts were over - if you couldn't repair or recondition it, you might as well just park the offending vehicle. Walking was still free, at least the last time Aaron checked.

Of course he spent the whole trip back agonizing on the misfortune of running across the drunk hunters, as well as tearing up his old pickup on a twenty year old pothole. Becky, his wife, would probably know who they were, if not from descriptions of the guys then at least by the description of their ride. What was more disturbing was that they knew him, or at least they thought they did. It went unspoken, but it was there nonetheless. The sad part was he might have never even laid eyes on either of them, or visa versa, but his reputation preceded him to the point that it didn't matter. An outsider. Former cop. Married  Rebecca Lauder, the former town sweetheart who ran away, only to come home with her tail between her legs, toting a disgraced husband and two kids.

With "real world" unemployment figures at better than 40% countywide, people had little better to do than run their mouths about those that were beneath them.

19 October 2010

Chapter II, part 5

Aside from hearing a dog barking from at least a half a mile away, the hike back was uneventful. Aaron stayed off the trails for the most part, instead running parallel to them at about 30 meters. As he approached the parking area, he chose to cut through the woods at a slant and come out on the forest road so that he would end up behind anyone hanging around the small lot. That turned out to be a wise choice, as a pair of hunters had decided to end their day by having a lie swap session over a few beers, sitting on the tailgate of a newer Ford pickup parked next to his clapped out Toyota. Of course.., he thought.

He ambled into the lot, really little more than a turnout off of the forest road, and headed for the passenger door of his little truck. The hunters conversation trailed off noticeably, as they both focused their attention on Aaron. He gave them a nod, and hoped they could just ignore him. Judging by the 4 empty cans on the ground, below their feet, it wasn't probable.

As he dug the single door key from the coin pocket of his Carhartts, he watched from his peripheral as the one closest to him set his beer down and ease off the tailgate, knocking the can over in  the process.

"Hey man. Didcha have any luck out there?"

The word 'man' came out sounding like 'main'. Aaron glanced at him, then back to the beer can, now rolling back down the tailgate, foam dripping onto the bumper. "You spilled your beer", he said.

The guy looked around to his right, all but doing a clumsy 360. He shrugged, picked up the can and drained the half swallow that might have been left. Then he chucked the empty toward the front of the bed, bouncing the can off the rear window.

"You wanna beer?", he asked as he reached for the foam cooler sitting just inside the pickup's bed.

Aaron looked over at the other guy, who hadn't moved from his perch on the tailgate. He also hadn't stopped staring at Aaron since he had walked into the lot.

"No, thank you." He placed the ALICE pack in the bed of his own truck, tight with the bulkhead. He didn't bother to remove the  sheathed recurve stave from the pack's frame.

Thankfully, he didn't recognize either of the men, but the Ford looked familiar. He glanced at the plate, and saw the vol tag attached just above the Virginia license plate. That's it... , he thought.

Aaron had thought it would be a good idea to join the volunteer fire department after arriving here with his wife from North Carolina. She had grown up here, and they had moved into a little singlewide  trailer on her parents property well south of Pulaski. It hadn't been by choice - it was the only place for them to go after everything had gone to hell in the Outer Banks. It hadn't helped that her father downright hated him, either.
He had figured that showing some sense of community and civic duty would make inroads into changing that, and he signed up at an RFD fundraiser held at a church.

They had called him, and he joined after passing the physical, along with a basic standardized written test. At the time, he was a complete outsider, so he chose to just keep to himself. He faithfully went to the certification certification classes, even paying for his EMT B cert, although no one else on the squad had to pay for theirs.
He also attended every meeting, and spent more than the requisite time at the station doing his maintenance duties. He wasn't working - at least not regularly - so why not show some initiative? His downfall was his lack of interest in the extracurricular activities that went with the squad. Namely, drinking. Not just a few beers after the fire meeting, but twelve-pack-per-person throwdowns, usually involving pallet fires or some bar closing up early. It didn't take long for him to go from an outsider to an outcast.

It all ended when a squad member, whose day job was as a Sheriff's deputy, took it upon himself to run Aaron's backround. Getting fired from law enforcement was akin getting convicted of a felony, as Homeland Security saw disgruntled unemployed cops as a threat. Although there was no policy in the squad that marked him for dismissal, he was still removed from the call sheet and forced to relinquish his issued equipment. His father-in-law had laughed in his face.   

These two weren't from the same squad he had been with, but they were of the same type. Locals from birth, just getting by, and only on the right side of the law by association. In other words - trouble. Time to go...

Hopefully they would be too drunk to remember him, or care. Beer Spiller was now leaning over the left side of Aaron's pickup, intently staring at a shiny spot in the all but empty bed. The other guy spoke up.

"You getcha a doggy deer?" He nodded at the ALICE pack, and smiled at Aaron.

Aaron grinned back at him. Then he walked around the front of his truck, got in, and started it. He watched as Beer Spiller stepped back and bumped into the side of the Ford. As he reversed back, he rolled the window down, stopped even with Tailgate Guy, and made sure he had the guy's attention.

"You boys take it easy," he said, still grinning.

Tailgate Guy looked at him blankly. "Yep. We'll be seeing you around."

That we will, Aaron thought as he headed down the road. That we will.....

17 October 2010

Chapter II, part 4

After he cleaned out the organ cavity, all that was left was working the carcass down to manageable proportions. Since there was not much to work with, there was no point in hanging it up - within fifteen minutes he was stuffing six bundles of not quite boneless meat into his old ALICE pack. Each bundle was wrapped in surplus dot matrix printer paper he'd found sitting at the curb, still in the box, outside a foreclosure up in Radford. It never ceased to amaze him what people would still throw away, even after all that had changed.

Aaron dug a small pit with his folding shovel to bury the unusable organs and bones in - no reason to advertise his luck - and almost covered it back over before the socket gave on the shovel, leaving  him holding a bare stubby handle. He toed the blade over so he could read the stamp on the back. Yep. Hencho au China. The empty handle followed the blade into the hole, but then both ended back in the pack after a moment. Americans didn't make shovels anymore, and crappy Chinese ones had probably quintupled in value.

The hike back to his truck was a little less than 8 miles, but Aaron took his time, mainly to avoid any human contact. Running across a wildlife officer with fresh venison and no tag was obviously not on the agenda, but dealing with anyone could lead to trouble, thanks to easy rewards for poaching tattletales. And pretty much everyone around here is broke, he thought. How any of them came up with the small fortune required to buy a tag was beyond him, but that was besides the point. It just wasn't worth the risk, especially because he wasn't a local. He could stay around here for the rest of his life, and he'd still be shunned like a leper. Marrying in didn't count. Nothing did anymore.

14 October 2010

Notes and thanks

First and foremost, I 'd like to thank Nova for the plug he gave me on his blog -  American Apocalypse. Most of you who know me have already heard of AA. For those of you who haven't - www.americanapocalypse.blogspot.com

Check it out, immediately, if not sooner. Buy the books - Kindle, Smashword or paperback - you will not be disappointed.

I'd also like to offer some explanation to my frequency, or lack thereof, in posting updates. I am lucky enough to still have a job, and a good one at that. (Most days...) I work (3) 24 hour shifts and (1) 8 hour shift every week, plus I operate my own recovery business in between. Living in Vail means that winter is my busiest time, but at any point throughout the year I could end up working 48+ hours straight. Unfortunately, I also have to sleep at some point. This sucks because I'd really rather write and create during that time spent looking at my eyelids, but exhaustion doesn't mix well with my occupation.

Anyway, I will try - honestly TRY - to update at least every 72 hours. The story is in my head, and the bulk of it is on paper, if only as barely legible notes. If I happen to overshoot this, I apologize in advance. It also probably means someone in central Colorado, besides myself, is having a very bad day - hopefully you will not have their luck.

TY, Regulator