Wisconsin Couple Still Not Sexually Harassed

Head Muscle Press (3 November, 2011) – Head Muscle has learned that Mr. Harold Nodderman from Bayfield Wisconsin and his wife Elma are offended that they have yet to be sexually harassed by a politician. “It really is disappointing,” Nodderman told Head Muscle in an exclusive interview. “With all the harassment going on these days, it is not fair that we are being left out…it’s discrimination at its very worst.”  According to Mr. Nodderman neither he nor his wife have received a single inappropriate sexual remark from either party, and they are starting to lose their patience. “Ever since Politico broke the big story on Herman Cain, we have been anxiously awaiting some type of offensive remark from someone…anyone,” Nodderman explained. “Elma has been sitting by the phone for the last three days and is really frustrated. I am not sure how much longer she can wait.”  A complete transcript of our interview with Mr. Nodderman follows:

HM: So, Mr. Nodderman I am curious, why are you “disappointed” that no one has sexually harassed you?

Nodd: Well first of all I am a taxpayer, and if my political leaders are going to spend my money being sexually inappropriate, by God I want my share!

HM: (Pausing) I see…so you are feeling cheated?

Nodd: (Angrily) You’re darn tootin’ we do! We work until May of every year to just pay our taxes and Mr. Obama is asking us to pay even more.  It seems like the least that they could do is give us a naughty call!

HM: (Curiously) So you want your money’s worth…of harassment.

Nodd: Look, I would rather have more jobs, a better economy, real tax reform,  a home that is worth something, and gasoline below four dollars a gallon but none of that seems to be in the works…so we will take a little inappropriate sexy talk.

HM: (Bewildered)  Okay, but wouldn’t that be demeaning and insulting?

Nodd: (Rolling eyes) Ya think?  You know it is called sexual “harassment…”

HM: (Confused) But why would you want to be sexually harassed?

Nodd: (Exasperated) Have you not watched the news even once since Bill Clinton was elected? There is big money in being harassed! Book deals…the works!  I figure I can even get Elma on The View if it is bad enough. She would love that…

HM: The View?

Nodd: (Leaning forward and whispering) I would take something simple like a heavy breathing call from Biden or Weiner in a pinch, but we would really prefer something from the GOP.

HM:  Why the GOP?

Nodd: Well they just seem…kinda…you know…safer.

HM: (Lost) Sorry, but I don’t understand.

Nodd: Well you know…when they’re inappropriate, they don’t really mean it.  Most of the time they are just trying to be nice to someone with an agenda, and before they know it the press is off and running. Elma thinks Mitt is cute too. I mean how freaky could he be…really.  But the Dems…oh man….they’re kind of scary.

HM: What do you mean by “scary?”

Nodd: (Sighing heavily) C’mon….Barney Frank!  Really?

HM: (Nodding) Okay, I think I am following.

Nodd: I mean he just might show up at the door one evening with a jug of body oil or something…(shivers) spooky. You just can’t tell with them…

HM: I see.

Nodd: (Shrugging indifferently) Well…it doesn’t really matter anyway.  I have a back-up plan.

HM: (Curiously) Oh really? What might that be?

Nodd: Well I figure that I will just have Elna call Politico and tell them that Herman harassed her too. That should at least get her on Anderson Cooper.

HM: (Appauled) But it would be a lie!

Nodd: Of course it would be, but based on the latest allegations against Herman Cain, proof does not seem to be a requirement for the press…hey you think we would get to meet Arianna Huffington? She’s smokin’ hot….mmmmm….mmmmm!

HM: Well that seems a bit inappropriate to say…

Nodd: (Laughing) Yeah well, someone needs to teach you the difference between harassment and sarcasm…

With that, the phone rang and our Head Muscle correspondent was forced to conclude the interview prematurely.  We had many more questions for Mr. Nodderman but apparently John Edwards had called to moan and pant.

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The Power of Belief

In the latest Fox News Poll Herman Cain has surged to the number one position, and he is even starting to edge in front of the GOP’s favorite son Mitt Romney in Iowa.  Now just a few weeks ago, this scenario would have been inconceivable to almost everyone…except maybe Herman.

There are many things that fascinate me about the Cain phenomena. He is frank, clear on his positions, firm in his refusal to take cheap shots at his opponents, and an electrifying speaker. He is fresh, non-political, and genuinely honest about areas in which he will need to develop his expertise.  As refreshing as all this is however, it is his “belief” in the possible that is most fascinating.

Herman Cain truly believes that he can be President of the United States of America! Even though the odds have been strongly stacked against him, he has remained steadfastly in the fight, winking wryly at all his detractors. He has a vision for this nation and truly believes that he can beat the odds and win!

Now some people may confuse this belief with ego.  Yes…I am sure Mr. Cain is an extremely confident person and requires little self-esteem counseling, but what we see in him is not the typical self-promoting narcissism of the average politician. To the contrary, it is a genuine, almost selfless, belief in America.

When I look at the other candidates I am overwhelmed with the impression that they feel that they “should” be President.  When I listen to Romney I hear a smoothly polished politician who sees the White House as his next achievement.  It is almost as if he is more focused on the office than the objective. To the contrary, when I look at Cain I see a certain innocent, yet determined, optimism that I have not seen since Ronald Reagan.  It is an optimism unblemished by years of political gamesmanship and compromise.  It is the look of someone who sees the Presidency as the means…not the ends.  He is not being driven by an office, but by a vision for America – and it is powerful.

Like Reagan, Cain believes in the boundless potential of our nation and its people, and this is what is driving him forward against the odds.  He is not bound by the limitations and labels that others have placed upon him, and the American people are taking notice by the millions.  Make no mistake, Herman Cain is not surging in the polls because he is perfect. He is rising is the polls because he truly believes in what “we the people” can do..not the government, and this belief is giving Americans a new type of hope – hope in themselves.

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Flashing Right

John McCain lost the 2008 election for three basic reasons.  He ran an incompetent campaign, the global banking market crashed on the Republican’s watch, and no one knew who the heck Barack Obama was. These three facts conspired to drive many center and center-left independents toward the Democrat nominee.  Obama’s call for hope and change was exactly what many war weary folks wanted to hear, and he rolled over the McCain camp like an Abrams tank on cruise control.  Put bluntly, it was ugly.

During his campaign, Obama used a lofty rhetoric that inspired even his most devout adversaries at times.  People voted for him in droves because he was different, an unknown quantity, and everyone was pretty much burned out with who they knew.

This anonymity was arguably Barack Obama’s greatest asset.  Folks did not know what his politics would end up being, but they liked him.  Sure he seemed a bit left, but all candidates campaign for their their core constituents and then move to the center once elected.  How bad could this guy be after all?  With that, our nation made a calculated hard left turn. The destination was a mystery, but everyone hoped for a smoother ride.

The bad news for Barack is that the anonymity that he had enjoyed in 2008, is no longer his ally.  Left leaning voters that put him in office are now looking back at the change that was promised, and wondering what happened. Unemployment is still 9.1% officially, but in reality it is much higher.  In fact, many US cities are still well over 10%. African-American voters, who pulled the lever for Obama 96% of the time, have actually seen modest increases in unemployment numbers since his election and are also starting to ponder their decision. Pacifists have also been let down.  Three years after his election, Guantanamo Bay is still open for business and the US is still involved in military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As wide as the chasms are getting between factions on the left, they are even wider between Obama’s camp and the right.  Unlike the 2008 election where Obama was able to steal McCain’s platform and make it his own; in 2012 he has set himself apart as a hard core liberal in bed with environmentalists, big labor, and big government ideologues.

Three years after Obama’s election, we can look at Republican presidential hopefuls like (this blog’s favorite) Herman Cain, and see clear cut differences in vision and direction for our nation. We see a new focus on individual responsibility and liberty vice government nanny-ism. Republicans are offering new and innovative “free market” friendly solutions like Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan for Prosperity, and the polls show folks are taking notice.

The 2012 presidential election is shaping up to be a potential landslide for conservative values.  Contrary to the opinion of many currently camping out on Wall Street, this is not because “greedy corporations” are controlling our minds with chemicals in our Big Mac patties, but rather because Americans are no longer buying all the big government Utopian BS.  Like 2008, our nation is at a fork in the road.  Utopia at the left and the real world to the right.  Americans are tired of the left’s empty promises and class warfare laden hyperbole, and just want to go to work and pay their mortgages…like in the old days. They are tired of not being able to do so, while at the same time being asked to pay the freight of others. Make no mistake about it dear friends (and others) the fork is approaching fast and, to the chagrin of the current administration, the nation’s blinker is flashing right.

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Trump Claims Obama is a Japanese Woman

 <<BREAKING NEWS>>Head Muscle Press 22 April 2011: Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump announced to the press this week that, after extensive investigation, he had located President Barack Obama’s ‘real’ birth certificate.  “Over the past few months I have grown more and more suspicious of the President,” Trump announced to a curious crowd of hastily assembled journalists. “I really wanted to believe that he was an American citizen by birth, but things just were not adding up,” he explained.  “I have gathered you all here today to announce that my worst fears have been confirmed. After months of intensive investigation my team has finally located Mr. Obama’s actual birth certificate, and I am sorry announce that he is not who he appears to be.”  Trump went on to explain that the President’s name was really Miuko Hashinadma, and that he was actually a 32 year-old Japanese dental technician from Okinawa.

“This is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American People,” Trump declared to the stunned crowd. “Given this revelation I believe that our Commander-in-Chief can no longer be trusted, and that we should elect me President effective immediately.”

When pressed by reporters in the room to produce evidence of his allegations, Trump staffers handed out copies of a Japanese birth certificate for a 32 year old woman named Miuko Hashinadma.  The document appeared to be from an Okinawan hospital, and clearly showed that Ms. Hashinadma had been born on August 4 1961 –  the same day as President Obama.

In an attempt to dig deeper into the facts, Head Muscle Press arranged an interview with Celebrity Apprentice contestant Gary Busey.  Transcript follows:

HM: Mr. Busey, thank you for your time this afternoon. Can you give us any insight into Mr. Trump’s latest allegations?

Busey: (Looking up)  Is there a monkey sitting on my head?

HM: (Bewildered) Well…um….I don’t think that there is….bu…

Busey: (Interrupting) Because I really think that there’s a monkey sitting on my head…

HM: (Pausing awkwardly to look) Um, no Mr. Busey there does not to seem to be a monkey up there…now

Busey: (Interrupting again) You know you can’t see them right?

HM: (Confused) You cannot see…what?

Busey: (Grinning) The monkeys dumb ass! If you could see them they wouldn’t be there… now would they?

HM: (Trying hard to follow) So you can’t see them…

Busey: (Pointing) There’s one on your head right now!

HM: (Shocked) You mean to say that you can see a monkey on my head?

Busey: (Rolling eyes) No! God dang you’re a card carrying dumb ass!  If I could see it…

HM: (Interrupting) It wouldn’t be there?

Busey: (Nodding violently) Bingo Bozo!  God…can you even work your own zipper without a diagram?

HM: (Trying desperately to retake control) So…can you tell me anything about this new allegation your boss has made regarding President Obama?

Busey: (Nodding and smiling) My monkey talks to me sometimes.

HM: (Losing patience) Mr. Busey! Could we forget about the monkeys for a moment and talk about your boss’s allegation that our President is actually a Japanese woman?

Busey: (Looking shocked) Dammit to hell! I knew something was wrong with that man from day one!

HM:  The President?

Busey: (Sighing and grabbing his head) No mister short bus…..Trump!  Good God how do you manage to swallow your own saliva?

HM: (Ignoring the insult) So you think that Trump is the crazy one?

Busey: (Wide-eyed) Ya think!!??  Any idiot with two eyes can see that President Obama is Chinese!

HM: (Trying to follow) How exactly can you tell he’s Chinese?

Busey: (Pulling at his hair in frustration) Well for one thing, he’s black!

HM: (Giving up) Oh…well…now that must be why. It’s a dead give away.

Busey: (Looking serious) Hey, are you making fun of our President?

HM: (Getting defensive) No, I was just being sarcastic….

Busey: (Pointing finger) Racist!

HM: (Exasperated) Wha…You just said that he was black when I asked you why….

Busey: (Indignant) No I didn’t.

HM: (Now yelling) You did!!

Busey: (Sternly) Nope. I would never say anything that crazy…Hey! Maybe it was my monkey!

With that Busey crawled under an end table and started trying to make a phone call with one of his shoes.

The next day we were contacted by one of Tump’s spokespersons who, on condition of anonymity, wanted to set the record straight. The transcript from our next interview follows:

HM: Thanks for talking to us about this. Why on earth does Trump think that Obama is a Japanese woman?

SP: Well for one, he found his…I mean her….birth certificate.

HM: (Pressing) Well, what makes Trump think that Obama is actually this Miuko Hashinadma woman?

SP: Well for one, if you had not noticed, they were both born on the same day…duh!

HM: (Skepticle) Well I’m sure a lot of people were born on that day…all over the world!

SP: (Nodding) Yeah, but Trump is absolutely sure that Obama is Miuko Hashinadma.

HM: (Curious) What makes him so sure?

SP: Well for one, he is very rich and smart…just ask him!

HM: (Bemused) Well that is hardly a convincing argument.

SP: (Jabbing finger) You better watch your tone mister reporter man or Donald may just fire you too.

HM: (Finally losing temper) What the hell are you talking about!?  I don’t work for Trump!

SP: (Smiling and standing up) Oh, we all work for Trump my friend…we all work for Trump!  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to pick my monkey up from the dry cleaners.

With that the spokesperson departed bringing a second interview to an abrupt end.

Just as we were getting ready to give up on the whole story, HM Press received a telephone call from Miuko Hashinadma herself. Though she would not take any questions, she confirmed to us that she was in fact not President Obama, and that she had never in her life been a black man…much less President of the United States.  She also noted it was clear that Obama was Chinese and that any search for his actual birth certificate should start  Beijing.   <<DEVELOPING>>

UPDATE:  In a bizarre turn of events, the entire staff at HM Press just received their pink slips.  Oddly enough, we did work for Trump after all.

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Man Finds Nancy Pelosi’s Face on Bacon Strip

<<BREAKING NEWS>> Head Muscle Press 27 Jan 2011 – When Mr. Ellis Pollard of Mallard Wisconsin received his Sunrise Special at the Waffle Shop this past Saturday morning, he was startled to find that one of his bacon strips bore the uncanny likeness of Nancy Pelosi (see image below).

“I was absolutely shocked,” Pollard confessed to local reporters.  “There she was, just staring me and grinning.  It was truly miraculous.”  Mr. Ellis went on to explain that he carefully wrapped the slice of salt pork into a napkin and, after inspecting the rest of his meal for Democrats, finished his breakfast and hurried home. “It was really hard to concentrate on the road,” Pollard noted.  “I have always heard stories of people seeing the face of Jesus in rocks and reflections, but this was really something special.”

According to reports, Pollard spent the next few hours studying the image under a magnifying glass to ensure that what he was actually seeing was not a trick of the light. When convinced that the image of Pelosi was real, he took the strip of bacon to a local television station and reported his miraculous finding.  “At first the reporters were skeptical when I told them what I had found, but when I unwrapped the bacon and showed them they were awestruck,” Pollard recounted.

According to Mr. Pollard, over the next couple of days people gazing at the piece of Pelosi pork started to experience miracles.  One unemployed lady allegedly saw the image and, upon returning home,  discovered that her unemployment benefits had been extended a fourth time.  In another account, a committed Tea Partier looked at the image and immediately fell to the ground shouting anti-Palin slogans. The most noteworthy instance occurred when an older gentleman saw the image and started channeling Ted Kennedy. For over 30 minutes he extolled the virtues of the healthcare bill, drank Scotch Whiskey, and blamed the Republicans for setting him up at Chappaquiddick.

Though the DNC has withheld official comment, it is a well known fact around the DC area that this is not the first time images of Democrats have spontaneously appeared on pieces of fatty pork.  In 2006 Martin Emmitt of Shellsburg Idaho produced the now famous “Harry Ham” slice (below), which was purported to make anyone who looked at it pro-labor.

And then more recently during the 2008 presidential campaign, hundreds of mysterious Obama Chops appeared in diners across key swing states that eventually went blue.

“It is kind of like the whole UFO thing,” Cameron Dalton author of the self-published book Conspiracy of Pork’ confided to Head Muscle. “No one wants to admit that this is happening, but you just cannot deny the evidence when it is right there on your sausage patty.” Mr. Dalton is the founder of Conservative Republicans Against Pork Propaganda (CRAPP) and is trying to lift the veil on what he describes as a massive liberal plot to control voters through use of pork stimulation.  “The problem is pervasive,” Dalton warns. “No one really knows how much pork the Democrats actually control. Why there could be thousands of unsuspecting people swallowing this garbage as we speak!” Though CRAPP is small right now, it is gaining a foothold among independents and conservative vegetarians. According to Dalton, liberals plan to flood the American people with more and more pork over the next two years until everyone is hopelessly hooked. In an ominous warning, Dalton pointed out to Head Muscle that the Pelosi image will soon be followed by the most massive DNC pork project to date…Operation Barney Frank.

According to Dalton they have already appeared at the Fannie Mae cafeteria and will likely be passed out to homeowners through thousands of new sub-prime hot dog vendors.  Head Muscle will continue to follow this breaking story as it develops. In the meantime we strongly suggest that Americans everywhere stick to the beef.

<<DEVELOPING>>

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The Example (Part VII)

After wrapping things up with the police, Carl and his family loaded  into Lanum’s truck and headed back to his FBI office. The events of the evening were still spinning in their heads, and the ride was very quiet.  Carl was furious at what had happened. His wife and children could have been taken or even killed.  Just the thought of it made his skin crawl.

After a few moments Carl reached over and grabbed Katie’s hand squeezing it tightly.  Katie returned the squeeze and laid her head on his shoulder. In the dim light of the cab, Carl could see the tear lines still etched on her face.  No matter what happened over the next couple of days, one thing was clear. He had to protect his family.

Before they had departed the ranch, Lanum had made arrangements for Katie, the kids, and her parents to stay at the FBI facility. It was not very big and there weren’t many creature comforts, but there were a couple of cots, some sofas, and showers. Lanum had also arranged for all night security.  Carl agreed to the plan simply because he did not have a better one.  Whoever had attacked his family could still be out there, and he wanted to make sure that they were safe.

“Now you guys will be fine at my office,” Lanum announced breaking the silence. “You will have a place to sleep, and bathrooms with showers. It’s nothing like home, but it will only be for a couple of days until I can get something else arranged. The outside doors are dead bolted and no one, I mean no one, will be able to get in or out unless we want them to.”

Carl nodded his head. “I can’t thank you enough Lanum.  You saved my family from God knows what, and I am in your debt.”  Carl paused awkwardly.  He did not want to offend Agent Tate’s generosity, but could not help but wonder whether it was Lanum the FBI Agent or Lanum the Texan that was helping them out. “You know Lanum, something else is bothering me a bit.”

“Yeah me too,” Tate responded not waiting to hear what Carl had to say. “I think that what happened tonight was an inside job.”

Agent Tate’s comment completely derailed Carl’s train of thought. “An inside job?” he responded trying to get his head around the thought. “You mean someone at the camp is doing this?”

Lanum shook his head, “I am not sure but I have a strong hunch.”

Carl’s interest was piqued. “Well who do you think it is?” he asked.

“I have no idea, but I think that I can figure it out with your help,” Lanum continued.  “I want to show you something when we get to the office.”

After spending about a half hour getting the kids tucked into their beds, Katie and Carl walked into their makeshift bedroom in Lanum’s office.  Katie plopped down onto the small couch that Lanum had thoughtfully made into a bed for her, and began to cry once again.  “Carl, baby, what would those men have done with us? I mean, if Lanum had not shown up would they have killed us? Would they have killed our boys?”  Carl sat down beside her and gave her a long reassuring hug. “Honey I don’t know what might have happened, but I do know that thanks to Agent Tate, you guys are all safe and sound now. That is all I care about.”  Tears streamed down Katie’s face. “But what about you?” she continued.  “What is going to happen to you?”

Carl truly had no idea what to say.  He knew that his place was back at the station with the two thousand Texans that had come to join him.  He also knew that he had to finish what he started.  He squeezed her tightly a second time and kissed the top of her head.  “I’ll be okay sweetie,” he assured her.  “I have about two thousand friends at the station watching my back.”

Katie was clearly unimpressed by his feeble attempt to console her. She pulled away from him, wiped the tears from her face and looked at  him sternly. “Carl…before you go back to that station and play Davey Crockett or whatever you are going to do, just remember that you have two boys who need a father…not a martyr.” Carl smiled and looked deeply into her watery eyes. “No Davy Crockett,” he assured her, “I promise.”  Carl held Katie in his arms until she fell asleep, and then laid her down on the sofa and pulled the covers up over her shoulders.

Carl walked back out to the main office and found Lanum busy at one of the computers.  Lanum saw him walk out and motioned him over.

“Hey Carl, come over here and take a look at this,” Lanum said nodding toward the computer.  Carl sat down next to him and looked at the screen.  It was a picture of the buses that had carried off the protesters earlier that day.

“Is this that website you were telling me about?” Carl queried. “Agents of Justice or something?”

Lanum nodded.  “Agents for Social Justice,” he corrected. “This is the site that posted pictures of the protest literally minutes after the buses disappeared.”

Carl remembered their earlier conversation. “So these pictures had to be taken by someone in the camp, right?”

Lanum was transfixed on the screen.  “Yeah, but there is something else about these pictures that’s bothering me, and I cannot put my finger on it.”

Carl and Lanum sat in silence looking at the photo for several minutes.  It clearly showed the buses pulling away, surrounded by flags and cheering Texans.  As Carl looked at the scene, he could once again feel the exuberance of the moment.  It had been a great show of unity, and a feeling that he would remember for the rest of his life. Oddly enough however, the more he looked at the picture, the more he was troubled by it as well. Lanum was right…something was most definitely wrong.

All of a sudden, Lanum sat straight up in his chair breaking the silence. “It’s over their heads! That’s the problem! This damn picture is being taken from over everyone’s head!” Carl looked at the picture again and instantly felt somewhat stupid for not seeing it earlier.  The picture had clearly been taken from four or five feet above the crowd. Then it hit him. It had to have been taken from the stage. The angle was perfect.

“It’s the stage,” Carl announced to Lanum. “This picture had to have been taken from the stage!”

Lanum rocked forward in his chair and looked a Carl.  “How many folks were on the stage when all this was happening?  I expect it was loaded with flag wavers right?”

Carl paused and thought back to the moment.  Everything had happened so fast, most of the encounter had been a blur to him.  Then he remembered.  He had looked at the stage at one point in the ordeal, and had only seen Shorty and a few of his crew on the platform.  In fact, he remembered seeing Shorty singing into the microphone while two of his cowboys waved flags next to him.  “You know,” Carl mused, “I can only remember seeing Shorty on stage…yeah Shorty and a couple of his crew.”

“Who’s Shorty?” Lanum pressed.

“Oh, that’s just his nickname; I think he told me that his name was Billy T. Winslow or something like that,” Carl explained. “He and his crew were the first group to show up after I went to the press.”

Lanum continued to dig.  “How well do you know this Shorty fellah?”

Carl paused for a moment collecting his thoughts.  “Well I supposed I don’t really know anything about him other than the fact that he and his boys drove down from El Paso as soon as they saw the news report.   He has been a real leader though…pretty much organized the entire campsite. He assigns duties, organizes watches, and had has collected a lot of information from the campers.”

Lanum listened intently. “What type of information?”

Once again, Carl felt as if he was being left behind in the conversation.  “Well I don’t know…where they were from, how many in their group, what kind of firearms they had brought with them, how much ammunition, that kind of stuff.”

“What has he been doing with all that information?” Lanum asked. “Do you know?”

Carl felt himself becoming defensive.  “Well…I suppose he’s been collecting it so that we know what kind of…you know… capability we had in case things went badly with the Feds.”  Carl felt awkward saying this to Lanum, but continued anyway. “Shorty felt like we needed a full list of all our ammo and firepower so that we would know how to best…I don’t know….use it if we had to.”

Lanum was unshaken.  “So Shorty knows where everyone in the camp is from, how many guns they have, how much ammo they have, and where in the camp it all is?”

Carl was clearly flustered, but trying hard not to show it. “I suppose that you’re right but…”

“And you really don’t know him from Adam when it gets right down to it.” Lanum interrupted.

Carl paused feeling embarrassed and nodded in agreement.  “No he showed up on day one with a truckload of gear and cowboys and…well…just took charge. I figured he was just trying to be a good neighbor.”

Lanum looked back at the screen scratching his chin. “And he was on stage when all this was happening?”

Carl felt defensive once again.  “Yeah, but how could he have taken a picture without someone else seeing him?”

Lanum chuckled, trying to be polite.  “Carl my friend,  how many folks do you think were out there snapping digital photos and sending them to their wives and girlfriends?Hell, he could have taken a dozen pictures and no one would have noticed. If what you are saying is true however, and they were the only ones on stage, then one of them must have taken this picture.” The weight of what Lanum was saying started to hit Carl.  He had been so thankful for Shorty’s leadership that he had never once questioned anything he was doing.

Lanum stood up and stretched.  “Well  first thing tomorrow I am going to find out a little more about your Mr.  Shorty.”

Carl pulled up to the Fill n’ Fuel about 3 in the morning.  The camp was quiet, and despite the glow from about 200 camp fires, things were dark and peaceful. Carl walked into his office and shut the door. It had been the longest day of his life and he was exhausted.  He plopped down into his desk chair, and rocked his head back for a moment. He could not get Katie’s tear soaked face out of his mind.  How could someone want to hurt her or his children? Could Shorty really be a spy?  Carl’s head began to spin.  In just 36 hours his 30 day notice would be up, and he had no idea what was going to happen.  Would it be war, or just some type of Waco stand off?  Would his campers turn tail if shooting started?  Where was Clifford? Why was the Governor’s office treating him like a leper? Carl felt like his head was about to explode with questions. How he longed for the simple days, when his only concern was the price of diesel. God how he wished it all was nothing but a bad dream. After a few minutes, his exhaustion got the best of him and he slipped into a deep dreamless sleep.

The next thing Carl heard was someone banging on his office door.  The sun was bright and the room had already heated up to well over 80 degrees.  He jumped up from his chair, wiped the sweat from his forehead, and walked to the door.  A young boy that he recognized from the camp was standing there wide-eyed.

“Mr. Lamonte,” he panted as if he had been running, “they’re here!”  Carl did not understand what the boy meant.  “Who is here son?” he asked.  The boy pointed down the access road.  “The black cars…  they’re here!” He paused and swallowed trying to catch his breath.  “There are a lot of them too!”

Carl grabbed his binoculars and ran across the street, hopping up onto the stage for a better view.  Most of the camp had been alerted and several hundred Texans had moved to the front of the camp for a look as well.  Carl raised his binoculars and looked down the access road toward the highway.  There, off in the distance, was a neat row of black SUV’s. They were a few miles away, but Carl was able to count about 25 of them.  Behind the SUVs he could see a couple of large black vans, and what could only be described as an armored personnel carrier.  Carl could also make out a group a three or four men standing in front of one of SUVs looking at what appeared to be a large map spread out on the hood.  Carl swallowed hard as he surveyed the scene.

“Well old buddy looks like the Federales have found the Alamo!” a familiar voice rang out.

Shorty walked up next to Carl and slapped him on the back.  “I reckon that’s just the first batch of them,” he continued giving Carl a big toothy grin. “My guess is that there will be a couple of hundred by tomorrow afternoon.”

Carl lowered his binoculars.  “Well I guess we know that they weren’t bluffing.” he replied trying not to sound too nervous.  Shorty looked at Carl for a moment as if sizing him up and changed the subject.  “Hey buddy, I heard about what happened out at your place last night. It’s all over the camp this morning. I’m real sorry ‘bout that.”

Carl tried his best to keep his voice from wavering. “Yeah … thanks,” he responded.

Shorty paused for a moment to look through his binoculars.  “You know, if you like I can send a couple of my boys out to your place tonight to keep an eye on things.  Hell I’ll do it myself if that’ll make you feel better.”  Carl looked at Shorty and smiled. “That’s real nice of you Shorty, but I have made other arrangements.”

Shorty looked at Carl curiously.  “Oh I got ya, you’re keeping the family hold up somewhere.  Did you take them to a friend’s house or somethin’?” Shorty’s curiosity would not have bothered Carl in the least just a day before, but after his conversation with Lanum he felt extremely wary.  “No,” he replied, “but they are safe.”

“So where you got ‘em stashed?” Shorty pressed.

Carl paused. He could not tell if Shorty really wanted to know, or if he was just trying to get a reaction. “They’re safe Shorty, let’s just leave it at that,” he responded.

Shorty looked off into the distance and nodded his head. “Probably the right thing to do,” he noted. “You can’t be too careful when it comes to protecting your family. You’re smart to not tell me where they are…even if you do trust me.”  Shorty looked at Carl, “You do trust me right?” Carl’s face flushed.  Shorty’s question had caught him off guard, and he was having trouble finding the right response.  “Sure, I mean, why wouldn’t I?” he replied awkwardly.

Shorty changed the subject and motioned to the line of Feds off in the distance.  “Those fellahs out there mean business and they are going to be paying us a visit sometime tomorrow.” Carl regrouped a bit, and tried to make conversation. “Well I think we have them out numbered about 15 to one. I’m not sure that they are going to try anything right away.” Shorty sighed. “The truth is, they got themselves more fire power in those SUVs than all these cowboys combined.  Most of these good ‘ole boys came out here with hunting rifles, pea shooters, and antiques.  Even the few folks with decent guns, may not be willing to raise them against another human being.  Shootin’ a person is a lot different than baggin’ a buck.”

Shorty reached into his boot, pulled out a cigar, and lit it.  “Nope, my guess is that half of these fellah’s will turn tail if shooting starts. The fact is, when those boys are ready to come, they’ll ride right through the middle of camp.” Carl felt a gnawing in the pit of his stomach.  Regardless of whether or not Shorty was a spy, he was telling the truth and Carl knew it.

At that moment a Hank Williams ringtone broke the silence.  Carl watched as Shorty reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone.  As he flipped the top open to answer, a flash of reflected sunlight caught Carl’s eye.  It was a reflection off of the lens of the cell phone’s camera. Seeing this was all that Carl needed.  Shorty had to have been the one.  His cowboys had been busy waving flags; they could not have taken the pictures. No…it had to have been Shorty. As Carl stared at the phone, he could hear his heart beating in his ears.  He needed to get to Lanum’s office fast.  It was at that moment however, that he realized Shorty had quit talking and was looking directly at him.  “What’s wrong ‘ole buddy, you look like you’ve seen a ghost?” Shorty asked in a low serious voice. “Is there something you want to tell me?”

Carl tried to regain his composure. “Um, no, I just remembered that I need to run a few errands. I will stop by and we can talk later.” Before Shorty could reply, Carl jumped from the stage and headed for his truck.  He knew it was Shorty and, after that episode on the stage, he was pretty sure Shorty knew he did.

Carl found himself back at Lanum’s office a half hour later.  It was Sunday and the only person there besides his family and Lanum was a security guard.  Carl told Lanum about his conversation with Shorty and the line of black cars. Lanum listened intently saying nothing the entire time. When Carl finished, Lanum motioned him over to his computer.

“I have been doing some checking on your buddy Shorty,” Lanum said tapping the computer screen.  I didn’t find anyone named Billy or William Winslow, but I did find this in our criminal database.” Lanum backed away from the screen so that Carl could see.  What he saw sent a cold shiver down his spine.  It was a picture of Shorty.  Beside the picture was the name Michael “Shorty” Williams.

Carl was stunned. “How did you find this?” he asked.  “You’ve never even seen him!”

“But I have,” Katie’s voice chimed from across the room.

Lanum spun around in his chair and gave Carl a big grin.  “Yep, Katie and I have been doing a lot of snooping around today.  It seems as though she has a great eye for detail.”

Katie stepped up beside Carl and smiled when she saw his look of surprise. “What did you expect? These jerks tried to kill my father and kidnap our children. Did you think I was going to pass the time knitting a sweater?”

Lanum did not give Carl a chance to respond.  “It seems as if our friend Shorty has several warrants out for his arrest. They are mostly for environmental terrorism, burning SUVs, killing cattle, things like that. It all looks petty until this last warrant.  It seems that he is wanted by the Dallas police for kidnapping and attempted murder.  It also appears that he is ex-special forces. Perhaps he started his career with the CIA and has since gone free agent.”

Carl gave Lanum an embarrassed look. “I am pretty sure that he knows we are onto him too.”

“What makes you so sure?” Lanum queried.

“I am not a good liar,” Carl confessed. “He tried to get me to tell him where I had taken Katie and the kids this morning, and when I didn’t he clearly got suspicious.”

At that moment there was a buzz at the door. Lanum handed a twenty dollar bill to the security guard, and motioned for him to go open the door.  “I ordered some pizza a little while ago.” Lanum informed the room.  “I hope pepperoni is good with everyone…”

At that moment a shot rang out through the headquarters and the security guard flew backwards over a desk with blood gushing from his back.  Lanum reached for his gun, but before he could draw it, a figure appeared from around the corner holding a large caliber revolver.  It was Shorty.

“Now everyone stay calm,” Shorty ordered, “and we will be done real quick like.” Shorty shifted his gaze to Lanum. “First off, I would like you to finish skinnin’ that pistol, lay it on the ground, and push it over to me with your foot.”

Lanum laid his weapon on the floor and kicked it toward Shorty. “Just what do you hope to accomplish by holding a Federal Agent at gunpoint?” Lanum growled as Shorty picked up the pistol.  “I hope to get paid,” Shorty chuckled as he swung the gun toward Lanum and fired.  Katie screamed as Lanum dropped to the ground clutching his leg in pain.

“You see,” Shorty continued, “I could care less about your little war, but the folks that hired me care about it…a lot. And they have paid me handsomely to ensure it goes their way.”

Carl pushed Katie behind him. “Who the hell is paying you?” he demanded.

Shorty swung his pistol toward Carl.  “You got no idea what you’ve started do ya ‘ole buddy?  You really have no idea!” Shorty could not contain his amusement and let out a deep belly laugh.

Carl felt a rarefied form of anger surging through his veins.  “Well why don’t you enlighten us!” he shot back.

Shorty’s disposition changed instantly.  “You, ‘ole buddy, are not in a position to be making any demands,” he growled.  “Now here’s what’s going to happen.  I am going to take your wife and kids on a little ride. You, ‘ole buddy, are going to head back to the station, crawl up on that stage, and tell everyone there that you have cut a deal with the Feds and that the standoff is over.  You will tell them that if they do not clear out within’ 24 hours, the black vans are going to come in and start arresting everyone in sight.”

“And if I don’t?” Carl hissed.

Shorty smiled and looked at Katie. “If you don’t, then I start mailing your wife and kids back to you a piece at a time until you change your mind.”

Katie began to sob. “You will take my family over my dead body,” Carl spat back in rage.

Shorty smiled. “Well I have a plan for that too if that’s the way you want to roll,” he chuckled cocking his pistol.  Katie screamed as Carl braced for the shot.  At that moment a figure emerged from around the corner behind Shorty.  It was Carl’s father-in-law and he was holding a baseball bat. With a swing that would have made Jose Canseco jealous, he sent Shorty flying across the room.  The force of the impact caused Shorty to drop his revolver and Carl lunged forward grabbing the gun.

Shorty came to rest with his back against the office wall. He was dazed and had blood oozing from the left side of his head.  Carl stepped over him and pointed the gun at his face.  “Now you move one muscle…’ole buddy…and so help me God I will finish the job,”  he yelled.  Shorty responded with a groan as he tried to focus his eyes on the gun barrel. “I guess that I am in a position to make demands after all!” Carl continued. “Now I want to know who sent you and what they are planning!”

As Carl spoke, Lanum struggled to his feet.  He was bleeding badly from his right inner thigh, but was conscious.  He limped over toward Carl and sat down.  “Give me the gun Carl,” he ordered.  “If you shoot this bastard, it’s murder.  If I shoot him, it’s community service.”

Carl handed the gun to Lanum. “You need an ambulance,” he observed looking at Lanum’s bloody leg.

“I’m okay for now.” Lanum responded keeping his focus on Shorty.  “Now suppose you tell us exactly who sent you.”

Shorty reached up and dabbed the blood on his head with his finger.  “You know, all of this is useless don’t you? Do you think it’s just me? There are over 100 plants in your little camp just waiting on the word,” he laughed.  “You have no idea who you are dealing with.”  As Shorty spoke he moved his left hand behind his back where Lanum’s gun had fallen.  “This thing is already over and you boys are too stupid to know it!” he continued.  “I pity you both.”

Shorty grabbed the gun and swung it forward toward the two men.  In a second Lanum fired three shots squarely into Shorty’s chest killing him instantly. Lanum wasted no time. Kneeling over Shorty’s body he started fishing through his pockets.  Finding his wallet, he put it in his pocket.  “I am going to call for support in about 5 minutes.” Lanum explained. ” That will be enough time for you to get your family out of here and back to the station.”

Carl was in shock. “What about your leg.  I can’t leave you here!”

Lanum gave Carl a stern look. His face was pale from blood loss and pain, but Carl could tell that he was in charge of the situation. “Carl you cannot be here when the cops come.  I want you and your family out of town.”

“What about you,” Carl asked again.  “What are you going to do?”

“Don’t worry about me,” Lanum replied.  “I am going to get this leg patched up and will call you as soon as I can.”

Once again, Carl had no idea what to say. “Lanum buddy I’m sorry about all this.”

Lanum waved him off.  “Get your family and get outta here. I am going to dig through this guy’s stuff and see what I can find out about these other plants. You got a fight coming tomorrow and we need to find out who they are…now get your family back to the station and stay put.”

Carl realized that Lanum was right.  He needed to get back to the campsite as soon as possible. Shorty’s crew would notice him missing soon, and he needed to get back in case things got ugly.  He looked at Lanum and smiled.  “Thanks again buddy,” he said.

Lanum looked at Carl and grinned.  “Go on, get out of here.  You’re just making me bleed more.” As Carl started to turn Lanum grabbed him by the arm.  “And by the way Carl, just in case you were wondering…I have chosen sides.”

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The Example (Part VI)

It had been almost an hour since the buses had departed and the camp was still celebrating their victory.   Shorty had led the campers in song for about a half hour and, when his voice finally gave out, a makeshift band of guitar players took to the stage and continued the sing along.  It was well after dark now, but Carl could still see folks waving their flags in the glow of the campfires.   The lights from the news crews were burning brightly as well. As Carl watched lines of correspondents reporting on the evening’s events he could not help but feel proud.  The CNN cameras that had been set up in an attempt to catch exclusive video of a mob scene, had instead spent the last two hours filming a patriotic celebration.  Carl had no idea how the next few days were going to unfold but, for the first time since the ordeal had started, he felt hopeful.

As Carl watched the celebration from his chair next to the RC Cola machine, he noticed Shorty walking across the parking lot toward him.

“Howdy partner!” Shorty croaked still hoarse from all the singing.

Carl waved back and motioned for him to pull up a chair.

“It’s been one hell of a night, ain’t it?” Shorty continued as he sat next to Carl.

“You can say that again,” Carl responded.

“You know that was a great idea you had with the flag and the singing.” Shorty noted as he looked over the still growing camp. “We dodged a real bullet this evening.”

Carl nodded.  “I cannot help but wonder who tipped off the press. Those news crews knew what was about to happen.”

Shorty reached down into the top of his right boot, and pulled out a pack of small cigars.

“You smoke?” he asked offering the pack to Carl.

Carl shook his head.  “No I quit a few years ago, when I had my second kid. I figured I wanted to stay around a while to see them grow up.”

“Good damn thing,” Shorty shot back as he lit his cigar. “It’s a nasty damn habit.”

With that Shorty reached into the top of his other boot and pulled out a small silver flask.  He opened it up, took a long swig, and extended the container toward Carl.

“Now not smoking is commendable,” Shorty snorted,” but not drinkin’ or smokin’ is just downright contemptible.”

Carl chuckled, took the flask from Shorty thankfully, and tilted it skyward.

The ranch house looked pale through the night vision binoculars, but it was clear enough.  From what the two men could tell there were about four or five people inside.  They had seen an older man and woman through the kitchen window, and just a few minutes earlier they had seen a lady that looked like Carl’s wife in the living room.

They had waited in dark of the tree line for about 20 minutes after dispatching Sheriff Motter to make sure that no one had heard the commotion.  After realizing that they had killed him, the two masked men had carried Motter’s corps into the woods and covered it with leaves.  They were only concerned about getting it out of sight for the moment, because they would be long gone in a couple of hours.

The man put down his binoculars and motioned to his accomplice.

“Looks like they are getting ready for dinner,” he whispered through his stocking mask. “Let’s get this done and get out of here.”

The other man nodded, pulled a back pack off of his shoulders, and unzipped it.   Reaching inside he pulled out two 9 mm pistols, chambered rounds in each, and handed one of the to the first man.

They had done this type of thing many times over the years, but this was the first time that they had ever been asked to do it in the United States. Their plan was simple and well rehearsed.  They would sneak up to the house, cut the phone lines, and then break in through the kitchen door.  They would give grandpa a good beating, hog tie grandma, take the wife and kids, and set the house on fire.  If everything went smoothly, which it would, they would be in and out in less than 15 minutes.  Once they had Katie and the kids, their instructions were to deliver them to a safe house just outside of Oklahoma City.  They would hold them there, until ordered to set them free…or something else. Either way was fine with them.  It wasn’t personal; they were just doing their job.  After taking one more scan through his binoculars, the first man nodded and they started slowly working themselves toward the house.

Carl and Shorty sat quietly for some time sipping on Maker’s Mark and watching the campers celebrate.  Thanks to ample amounts of Lone Star beer, the flag waving had singing had turned into what Carl could only describe as the world’s largest Karaoke party.   Someone had plugged a stereo into the PA system on the stage and a long line of crocked crooners were now awaiting their turn to out sing George Strait.  The current contestant was in the middle of a horribly off key version of All My Ex’s Live in Texas.  After finishing his hatchet job on the song, he took a long swig from what looked like a Wild Turkey bottle, gave the booing crowd a good natured finger, and stepped off stage.

As Carl and Shorty watched from their seats at the station a Sheriff’s car pulled up blocking their view.  The driver, an old friend of Carl’s, emerged from the car and walked over to where they were sitting.

“Howdy Carl, you keeping this rowdy bunch under control?” the Sheriff queried.

“How are you Pete,” Carl responded standing up to shake the Sheriff’s hand.

“Doing okay as long as your army across the road stays drunk and friendly,” Pete responded.

Pete and Carl had known each other for about 10 years.  Pete Cameron was one of the senior Sheriffs in the area and frequented the truck stop for free coffee and snacks.  Carl had an unwritten deal with the local Sheriff’s Department that coffee and donuts were always free on or off duty.  Carl saw it as his way of giving back to the community, and the Sheriffs had always reciprocated by hanging out at his place and patrolling the station regularly.

Once, several years earlier, Sheriff Cameron had responded to a burglary alarm at the station, and had arrived to find two local hoodlums leaving the store with their arms full of beer.   When he stepped out of his car one of the robbers saw him, panicked, and threw a beer bottle at him breaking his nose.  Despite the pain and blood gushing from his nostrils, Pete managed to apprehend both suspects.  By the time Carl arrived at the station, Pete had both suspects hog tied and in the back of his car, both writhing in pain from a liberal application of pepper spray.   Carl was so thankful he refused to take Pete’s money for fuel for over a year.  Soon they had become good friends and Pete stopped by the station every few days to chat and drink coffee.

“I think they are policing themselves pretty well,” Carl responded extending the flask Pete’s way.

Pete politely waved it off.  “No thanks buddy, I am actually here on official business,” Pete continued.  Carl withdrew the whisky and gave Pete a curious look.

“Someone causing trouble in the camp?” Carl asked curiously.

“No, nothing like that,” Pete responded.  “I was actually wondering if you would do me a favor.  Deputy Motter out at your place is not answering his radio, and I think the lazy ole’ goat has fallen asleep again. I don’t want to get him in trouble with the office, so I was wondering if you could call your house and have someone go out, knock on the window, and wake his butt up?” Carl smiled and pulled out his cell phone. “You bet,” he replied as he dialed his home number.

Carl stood waiting as his home phone rang and rang.  There was no answer.  Carl’s smile faded as the phone rang a tenth time. Everyone was supposed to be at home.  Someone should have answered almost immediately.  Even if they had not, the answering machine should have picked up on the fifth ring; something was wrong.   As the phone continued to ring, Carl could see Pete’s demeanor change.

“Where are they?” Pete asked clearly showing his concern.

Carl lowered his phone and disconnected the call.  “That’s strange,” he mused.  “They are supposed to be at the house, and no one is answering.  The answering machine did not even pick up.”

Pete needed to hear nothing more.  “The damn line has been cut!” he exclaimed turning and heading for his patrol car.  “We gotta get out there fast!”   Carl felt is stomach turn.  “You’re taking me too Pete,” he blurted as he ran to the car behind the Sheriff. Pete had no time to argue and motioned for him to get in on the passenger side.  Pete was on the accelerator before Carl had his door shut.

Shorty watched as the patrol car sped away toward Carl’s place. He took another swig from his flask and then crushed out his cigar on the concrete.  “Looks like the war’s already started ole buddy,” he chuckled to himself.

The corral fences around the ranch house had made for good cover and the two men had been able to slip up to the house quickly.  Once the phone lines were cut they made their way to just under the kitchen window.  The first man raised a small dental mirror up to the window above them and angled it so that he could see inside.  It looked as if everyone was sitting at the kitchen table eating dinner.  He lowered the mirror and nodded to the man behind him.  It was time to get busy.

The two figures crept past the window to the kitchen door, and then stood against the wall. They pulled out their pistols, and then threw their collective body weight against the door.  With almost no protest, the door jam splintered and the door flew inward in a shower of glass.

Katie was facing the door and saw it fly opened.  She stood and screamed reaching out for her two children. Her father was the next on his feet, a bit disoriented from the invasion he fumbled for the revolver he had laid beside him on the table.   Before he could reach for it though the first man shot, hitting him squarely in his right shoulder.  Katie’s father fell to the ground in a pool of his own blood.  Katies mother screamed and fell to the ground next to him cradling his head.

“Okay, everyone be calm and no one else will get shot,” the first man called out as they advanced into the kitchen.  Katie grabbed her children who were both crying hysterically and pushed them behind her.

“Get out of my house!” she screamed at the top of her lungs.  “Leave my family alone, please!” she pleaded.   In the corner of her eye she could see her father on the floor reaching for his revolver on the ground next to him.  She desperately tried to get the attention of the assailants.  “My husband will find out who you are, and he will have you arrested,” she threatened realizing how stupid she sounded as she said the words.  “You won’t get away with this!” she screamed as the men came closer.

Her father grabbed the gun, but the noise alerted the men to his actions.  The first man moved over him kicking the gun from his hand. “I guess you don’t think we’re serious,” he yelled at the terrified family.  He pointed his 9 mm at Katie’s father’s head.  “It looks like I am going to have to show you just how serious I am.  Katie’s father closed his eyes as the man started to squeeze the trigger.

The shot that rang out however, did not come from the assailant’s gun.  It came from somewhere behind them in the living room.  It was followed immediately by another shot.  The first man dropped to his knees and fell across Katie’s father – dead.  Katie could see blood racing from a large hole in his back.  The second man flew against the refrigerator door and slid down it leaving a trail of blood smeared on its surface.  Katie screamed again and closed her eyes clutching her children.

From behind the kitchen door Lanum Tate emerged holding what looked like a .357 magnum revolver.  He advanced on the two men at gunpoint, took their weapons, and checked their pulses.

“Is everyone okay!” he demanded as he looked into Katie’s terrified eyes.   He realized that they did not know exactly who he was, so he reached into his pocket and pulled out his badge.  Lanum Tate FBI, he announced, “is everyone okay?”

“My dad has been shot and needs an ambulance,” Katie cried coming to grips with what just had happened.  “Please help us!”

At that moment Lanum saw the reflection of flashing lights outside as several cars sped to a stop at the front door.

“Okay, that is the police, and they don’t know I am here.  Everyone be calm, lay face down on the floor, and let me handle this,” he ordered.  They did as he ordered, but Katie was in such shock that she found it hard to move her arms and legs. Tate laid his pistol on the ground, held his badge over his head and started announcing his presence.

“Agent Lanum Tate FBI! The area is secure, do not shoot!”   At that moment the front door burst open and three Deputy Sheriffs entered with their weapons drawn.  “On the ground!” they began yelling.  “Get on the ground now!”  Agent Tate complied while holding up his badge.  “I am an FBI agent and I have secured the area!” he repeated.  “Do not shoot!”

Realizing who he was, the deputies put their guns down, and came to his aid.  Pete came into the back door shortly afterwards with Carl close behind him.

“Carl!” Katie cried running to his arms with their children.  “They shot daddy,” she sobbed into his chest,  please don’t let him die!”  Carl’s eyes began to well up with tears of rage and relief. “It’s okay baby,” he whispered to her.  “Everything’s going to be okay.”

Carl looked up and saw Lanum.

“Agent Tate!” he exclaimed in shock. “How did you know…”

Tate smiled and shook his head.  “I didn’t know, but I suspected that someone might try something, so I drove out to have a look for myself. When I got here I found an empty patrol car so I headed for the house.  I got inside just in time to stop that one from killing your father-in-law,” he explained pointing to the first dead man.

Carl was at a loss for words.  “Thank you,” he fumbled.  “Thanks for saving my wife and children.”

Katie started to sob harder and squeezed Carl tightly.

A half hour later, the house was a full crime scene.  Pete had roped off the area, and had ushered the entire family to the safety of his SUV outside.   An ambulance had arrived as well and paramedics were busily tending to Carl’s father-in-law.   Carl sat quietly next to his family trying his best to calm them, and himself, down.  After what seemed like an hour, Sheriff Cameron walked over to the vehicle.

“Hey Carl, do mind if I have a couple of words with you in private?” he asked.

Carl paused and then nodded yes. “I will be right back,” he whispered to Katie.  “I promise you are safe here,” he assured her.  As soon as she released him he opened the door and stepped out.  Together Carl and Pete walked past the tape and back into the kitchen.

“Carl, we have run background checks on both of these men and I am very concerned,” Pete explained. Carl did not understand what Pete was telling him.  “Do you mean they have criminal records?” Carl asked not sure how to respond.

“No,” Pete responded. “That’s just it.  They don’t have any records.  Their driver’s licenses are fakes, their fingerprints trace to two entirely different people, and the van they were driving was stolen 3 days ago in Tulsa Oklahoma.”

Carl was dumfounded.  “So these guys don’t exist?  Is that what you are telling me?”

Pete paused trying to choose his words carefully.  “Carl, these guys are not your average criminals. Their van was loaded with gear, and they seem to have been planning this for quite a while. Everything I see here points to a professional job. “

Carl let Pete’s words soak in.  “You mean they were assassins or something?” he asked in disbelief.

“I don’t know who or what they are,” Pete responded, ”but if that FBI agent had not shown up in time, my  guess from the ropes and handcuffs in their van is that your family would be gone right now.”

Carl’s head was spinning once again.  “You mean they were going to kidnap them?” he pressed.

“That’s what it looks like to me.” Pete concluded.  “I think that someone who does not like what is happening over at your station wanted to send you a message, and they sent these guys to do it.”

“That is what I think as well,” Lanum responded as he walked up behind them.  “I think that this is the same group that vandalized your station and sent your manager to the hospital.”

Carl turned to face Lanum.  “So who are they?” he asked again. “Who is trying to hurt my family?”

“I am not exactly sure just yet,” Lanum continued, “but I believe that the same group that sent those protesters to your camp earlier this afternoon sent these guys to your house.”

Pete nodded his head. “Makes sense to me,” he agreed. “But who?”

“Well, I am not sure, but one of my folks at the agency did a little online research this evening,  and called me just before I came out here.  He told me that several pictures of the protest buses popped up on a far-left website the Bureau has been tracking.  In the text below the pictures it noted that the fight was going to “get very ugly tonight.”

Carl did not see the connection.  “So what?” he asked.  So one of the protesters took some pictures while they were at the camp, and decided to lash out a bit on their web site after we sent them packing.  I don’t see the connection with what happened here.”

Lanum paused again.  “The pictures were of the buses leaving, so the person that took them was still in your camp.  It might have even been one of these guys for all we know.

Carl paused.  It was starting to make sense now.  Someone had put operatives in the camp and they were the ones causing the trouble. “What is the name of the site?” Carl asked Lanum.

“It is a group called the Agents for Social Justice or ASJ. They are nobodies, but they appear to have links to many more prominent organizations including LeadOn.org.

Carl could not believe his ears. “You mean LeadOn.org is trying to kill or kidnap my family?”

Lanum continued ignoring Carl’s question.  “When we find out who in that camp took those pictures, we will know who did this to your family.”

A pickup truck had been parked quietly near the edge of the Lamonte place for about an hour.  The driver had been watching the events of the evening unfold at a safe distance. He was angry.  This was the second time his plan had failed. Now he was going to have to take matters into his own hands.  With his lights off, he pulled away slowly being careful not to be detected.  As he drove off he picked up his cell and made a call.

“We didn’t do it,” he said looking into his rear view mirror.  “Those amateurs screwed it up big time. I am going back to camp before folks realize I am missing. Tomorrow I plan on finishing things myself.”

The driver hung up his phone, tossed it onto the passenger seat, and reached into his boot top for a cigar.

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