By Phillip Ghee (USA)
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Generations of a lost colony eventually revert back to an earlier period in the development of man with some surprising consequences.
The fact that Gramps decided to have it gift wrapped was really a nice touch. Much of his hardness was just a bluff. I don’t think that Gramps realized it was wrapping paper for a Quinceanero gift. Hell, there were no Mexicans around these parts when Gramps came up, so’s he probably wouldn’t have known even if they told him. He probably would have thought it was sumpt-in associated with video games or teenage phone/text lingo. But here I was, a full blooded Tennessee-American, Ha-ha!;15 years old ,unwrapping what could’ve only been a firearm or a damn little paddle for a short canoe but, Hell we don’t do short canoeing here in Tennessee.
“Com’on boy, whatz taking you so long, hurry up will ya? Open it up, lets take a picture and be done wit it. Hell, I need to get these Yankee teeth outta my head - they’s killing me.”
Sure enough, there it was, a rifle of my own:
Virginia Arms SX2012 Blue Bolt: Tru-fire Series Rifle w/Scope, AccuTrigger, precision for low recoil, topped off with Sightron, Nitrogen filled scope that could be upgraded to accommodate laser trak and infrared lenses.
Well, the clerk in the gift wrapping department at Wal-Mart certainly didn’t give Grandpa a lot of customer service, Ola Senior but, who was ever in the Gun Department sure had a bead on the youth and what we think is cool. The barrel was what really stood out because of its non-traditional color, Cobalt electric blue. Get that! Old school style was represented too! It had a Mahogany Stock. The rifle was an ammo store owner’s dream, due to its versatile load handling anything from a 22LR to a 300 win mag.
“I ain’t going to school tomorrow Gramps. It’s my birthday, it’s my birthday; gonna party like it’s my birthday.” I waved the gun over my head. “Can I get a whoop, whoop?”
“Suit yourself, Harmon. Harmon, git in here and take this picture, Damn Dentist”
Harmon is my little brother, Oh! I am Clyde Justin Smith. We can trace our family way back, back unto the Civil War. Grandpa is kinda raising us cause Daddy got into a little trouble. He tried making an honest living when times were good, logging-manual labor, Hillbilly mechanic and general fix-it up type stuff. But sometimes, times weren’t good. Daddy can’t compete with all these low-wage immigrants and, you know. Sometimes the convenience store down in the city is the best game in town, not for cashiering though, And I don’t think I want to say anymore about that.
Me, Reilly and Titan Head all cut school the next day. I also brought Harmon along for a teaching experience. I was playing the father’s role and I hoped that Harmon would turn out a little better than me and a lot better than Daddy. I had already made one mistake by bringing Reilly and Titan Head along. I had let my ego to show off my new rifle overpower my judgment. Here I was trying to set a good example and I brought these two imbeciles along. Lucky for us, Reilly was much more interested in smoking and drinking than hunting. So’s I took their ammo and left them back at camp while Harmon and I set off in search of game. They were stoned off their ass boohooing about being left defenseless but they had their hunting knives, so I wasn’t too concerned. We traveled far into the woods, in fact further than I had ever been with Grandpa. For a while I even considered the possibility of getting lost so I started marking my tracks like real good.
Trough a thicket of brambleberries and criss-crossed vines I could make out just a patch, something grey, moving around the otherwise green canopy. This was far too hilly and thick underbrush for a raccoon to call home so I figured we would be feasting on possum stew tonight. I slowly crept up on the beast but the rustling of the bushes must have alerted it. Suddenly I could see the rapid swaying and ejection of bush, branches and dirt. The agitated roar of some type of animal. Before I could wrap my mind around any of it something rocketed through the last network of bush, separating it from me. I managed to get off a shot. And then, thud! It hit me hard somewhere between the pelvis and lower belly. As I fell backwards, my eyes spotted something else, more distant in the bush. It was tall, taller than most animals in this neck of the woods. I guess it could have been a bear standing on its hinds or something? Or maybe the impact had me seeing creatures rather than stars.
“What the Hell is that?” yelled Harmon. First he looked at me and thus concluding that I was alive he turned Grandpa’s old shotgun towards the downed beast. “You think I should shoot it again, Clyde?” intoned a nervous Harmon. I could sense that the beast was letting out its very last whimpers. I had managed to prop myself up just a little and was busy trying to get reacquainted with my breath.
“Naw!” I said hoarsely. My shot was a clean shot but I knew that if Harmon took a shot at it with the shotgun then I could forget about a trophy visit to the taxidermist. The beast resembled a pig but it was all mutated like one of those horror films. Neither Reilly nor Titan Head had seen anything like it before. We just knew we had encountered something bizarre and unknown. We’ll be famous, we all reckoned as we took turns dragging the corpse home on a homemade sling.
“Grandpa, look-it what we killed!” shouted an excited Harmon.” We got ourselves a monster” Grandpa took one look at the expired beast, slapped his knee and let loose with an obscene belly laugh.
“You boys done went and got yourself a wild boar”. We all looked bewildered.
“Straight up wild pig…you numb nuts!” Grandpa continued to laugh, irking Titian Head in the process. Grandpa had never told me about wild boars and the likes.
“I guessed I must have blinked that day. There hasn’t been sighting in these parts in decades,” he mused later that night during a tasty but gamey pork dinner. He lectured the boys on the pedigree of the boar. Wild boars were not native to North America. The early Spanish explorers are said to have brought along a small population to the new continent. Eventually most of these wild boars died out, escaped into the wild or were mated to domesticated pigs unto the point where their line became absorbed and undetectable. Wild boars differ considerable from their non-threatening cousins. They are wooly, narrow and muscular in frame. They do not sport a curly tail and a playful snout. For defense, their elongated muzzles boast enormous, quite sharp and effective tusks. They furiously grow out like mutant canine incisors. In his own unique style, Grandpa informed the boys that enough of the wild board genes are intertwined with domestic pigs that if totally domesticated pigs were to escape into the wild, in just a few generations they would find themselves reverting back to their savagely wild cousins. This was not folklore but true. Although a recessive gene was ultimately dominant, it had to be kept in check by continued domestication. Most importantly, a wild boar is quite capable of killing a man.
Well the mystery had been solved and the boys rested well on a full belly that night except for Clyde.
Clyde failed to mention the other thing he thought he had seen. He feared he would become the subject of Big-Foot-sighting jokes and even taunting at school. So he kept that episode to himself. The fleeting image however had staying power. It did not go away. It haunted Clyde’s dreams for many nights thereafter and even followed him into adulthood.
Crime and Punishment
“Clyde a got a dozy for you. I only can trust a case like this to my best man.” Collins spoke with such a patronizing tone that Clyde wanted very much to show him what he could do to those pristine capped teeth. Who would have thought that Clyde Justin Smith would become one of the best Probation Officers in the entire State of Tennessee.? Clyde had with his client’s one of the best recidivisms rates in the State.
“Yeah!” Clyde spoke unenthusiastic and not bothering to give Collins the courtesy of eye contact.
“Criminal, Crook or Crazy?” Clyde already had a good idea of which. Clyde, due to his fathers’ trysts, had sort of grown up in the penal system. He had been, shall we say, lucky enough to have avoided any State Condo time himself but the frequent visits to the courts and all the other stepping stones leading into and out of the big house, he had become familiar. He understood the criminal mind the way an expert tracker can read footprints and trail signs. But rather than condemn his prey, he usually set them off on a new path. Although he hid it well, he often had a bit of sympathy for the criminals and the environments and circumstances that led to the perfection, and most often imperfection, of their craft.
He was able to put the fear of God into the white collar crooks and corrupt politicians. He was a little less tolerant with these types but his ferocity with them often panned out with credible results.
Now dealing with the crazies was a different matter all together. Firstly most of them had never deserved to be in the penal system in the first place. The overburdened mental facilities were just overrun and poorly funded. What’s worse was that society’s safety net for the insane and feeble minded had holes in it as big as the Smokey Mountains. Social Services, Out Patient Resources and Community Mental Health clinics were usually reserved for the more functional and astute members of society. The rest sooner or later found their way into the morgues, jails and penitentiaries.
Crazies were hard to integrate back into society and keep on the straight and narrow. It was to keep a man down here on Earth when his luggage was still on Pluto - which was one of those bits of wisdom that Grandpa had imparted to Clyde, before his passing.
Collins loved to give Clyde these sorts of cases because he knew that it would cut down on those impressive recidivism numbers Clyde had obtained. Collins had been raised in a sheltered upscale in Brentwood, TN to be a caring liberal. However, the true nature of the man was as elitist and un-empathic as they come. Career was his only motive and high political aspirations his only goal. His prestigious training in a private fancy-swanky college guaranteed that he would remain Clyde’s boss yet; he was still threatened by the man’s reputation. There were times when Clyde wanted to show his true nature and give the man an Appalachian beat down but that would have only put his relationship with his dad in closer and more even turf. He maintained his civil composure.
Lucas Burroughs was obviously a disturbed individual who never should have been in the penal system in the first place. All the crimes on his extensive rap sheet had more to do with his illness than of any pursuit of illegal gains. Take for instance the time he broke into the aquarium. He maintained that he only wanted to set the captives free but a manipulating front man took advantage of his gullibility and managed to fetch a pretty penny for many of the rare and exotic fish stolen. Then there were the multiple shoplifting charges. How was a man supposed to eat and clothe himself when he lacked the aptitude to even garnish Food Stamps or General Relief? He was only on probation for one of these shoplifting charges when he was picked up down on Farm Road 117. He was butt naked, not a stitch on him except for the homemade Hobo satchel he was carrying. Inside the satchel was a menacing serrated Rambo-style hunting knife and some survival gear he had managed to lift from the Surplus Store a few days earlier. The major problem with Lucas’s case that because of the possession of the knife while on probation and contributing factors he would probably be treated the same as a three strike felon and be sent off to prison for a very long time. Not only would this have been cruel and unusual punishment in Clyde’s opinion, the taxpayer dollars used to house a felon for prolonged periods of time far outweighed, as much as tenfold, the cost of maintaining a mental patient.
“Lucas, I don’t know if I can pull this off; it will be difficult,”. Clyde confessed as
he maintained vigil over Lucas’s case file. “How would you feel like spending a
few years at a good mental health facility that will take care of you and make you
Clyde raised himself up from the paper work and looked deeply into the man’s eyes. Lucas was busy watching the treetops sway back and forth through the windows. He was slow to acknowledge Clyde. Clyde saw the man’s appearance. Aside from disheveled, he looked emancipated and starved. Clyde ordered lunch for the man.
The lunch arrived and the man tore into it. Between bites he finally spoke.
“I ain’t crazy. You think I am crazy. I used to be. That’s until I met up
with the freemen. They’s alright. You’re the ones who are crazy. You think
you got something living in your plastic boxes. Always at war.
Always destroying the Earth, Ya’ll the ones crazy.
“Oh Hell,” thought Clyde. The Freemen. He remembered the name from long
ago. They were survivalists, an anti-government clan who died a martyr’s death in a shootout with the Feds. Every so often an up-start group would take up the name and mantle of the original Freemen. Clyde now speculated that a new up start group was preying on the feeble-minded to do their dirty work and homegrown terrorism.
What if the categorical divisions of intelligence sponsored by the Wechsler IQ test were circular rather than linear?
“Lucas you’re a special individual and these Freeman
try to get you to do things, bad things, which might
hurt you. But at the hospital they can’t get to you;
they won’t be able to hurt you.” Lucas seemed to take no account of what Clyde
was telling him because, between the bites and sips of his meal, he simply stared
out the window.
“Live free or die,” Lucas inadvertently blurted out. “At least time in the license plate factory they had taught him something,” Clyde mused to himself.
“The Freeman won’t hurt me,” a now serene Lucas, spoke.
“They always come to me. They come to me when I am
In trouble. They visited me when I was in the pokey. They
visit me at night…just like they do you.”
Clyde knew that this was just the ramblings of a madman and could have, in no way, correlations to his own sometime night disturbances. Yet the hairs on the back of his neck stood as rigid as prickly swamp grass. Clyde had not had one of those night-time disturbances in over a year. And yet the Lucas comment caused him to recall the apparition yet as if it was yesterday.
“Lucas, what makes you think the Freeman come to me?” he leaned embarrassingly close to the man, not wishing for any co-workers in adjacent cubicles to hear him. This line of engagement drifted far from his Probation/Parole Officer’s duties. He was not a psychoanalyst and entertaining a mentally ill client on this level could be more dangerous to the client than beneficial.
“They told me another one of us would be there to help me once I got
out the pokey.”
“And why do you think that I am another one of…us?”
“Cause you see’em. They don’t just let anyone see’em.
“How do they know that I have seen them?
“They sent you a pig, didn’t they?”
Lucas spilled some of the hot coffee he was holding. It scalded his hand. He escorted Lucas back to the waiting area. This phase of the interview had come to an abrupt halt. Lucas ventured into the restroom to relieve himself. He doused his face with copious amounts of cold water. He returned to his office and quickly and conclusively returned to the real business of a PO. Instead of inviting Lucas back into the office, Clyde advanced over to the waiting area. He gave Lucas an appointment two weeks before his trail date. He looked deep into Lucas’ eyes and once again implored him to, in lieu of jail, consider being admitted into the Mental Hospital. It would be hard for Clyde to even pull it off but, he had a few friends that owed him favors. He handed Lucas the card of a Social Worker who would help get him into a men’s shelter and attend to his needs in the meantime.
Clyde was visited that night by the familiar shadow. This time Clyde was entreated to visions of other shadows. The setting was a lush forest he could identify trees and bushes, yet the figures themselves remained blurred and out of focus except for one. In the midst of the shadowy figures he could make out Lucas. In the dream Lucas held up what must have been a business card and torn it in two. Clyde awoke to discover that at sometime during the fitful sleep he had torn open his pajama top. He had rent the garment with such force that he found several of the severed buttons on his dressing bureau.
Although he did not feel particularly stressed or overworked, Clyde viewed the dream as well as his nocturnal strip tease to be indicative of signs of stress. He made plans to take the next week off.
Clyde needed closure from that early adolescent hunting experience. He had never gone back to that section of woods since the incident. And now, as a man, he seldom hunted at all; his outdoor recreation of choice was sports fishing with his city friends. He had long since parted with his snazzy Electric Cobalt Blue rifle but he still maintained a shotgun, mostly for home protection and several small arms. Yet upon planning his solo hunting expedition Clyde opted instead to rent a Hi-Power hunting bow from the local hunting supply store.
Clyde had not been to the old rural neighborhood in many years, not since Grandpa’s passing. The rural communities had really been devastated. Much of the younger generation now had education enough to sustain them making a living in the cities.
Most of Clyde’s chums who had escaped the penal system ended up either out of State or in the various Tennessee cities.
An Old Flame
Hundreds of years after an epic CME Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun, the remnants of planet earth seek to reinvent themselves
When the ejection is directed towards the Earth and reaches it as an interplanetary CME (ICME), the shock wave of the traveling mass of Solar Energetic Particles causes a geomagnetic storm that may disrupt the Earth's magnetosphere, compressing it on the day side and extending the night-side magnetic tail. When the magnetosphere reconnects on the nightside, it releases power on the order of terawatt scale, which is directed back toward the Earth's upper atmosphere.
Coronal mass ejections, along with solar flares of other origin, can disrupt radio transmissions and cause damage to satellites and electrical transmission line facilities, resulting in potentially massive and long-lasting power outages.
Humans in space or at high altitudes, for example, in airplanes, risk exposure to intense radiation.
ONE LOVE (Bob Marley) The Character Qfwf is in memory of
As it was in the beginning (One Love) Italo Calvino, One of the best minds of
So shall it be in the end (One Heart) the 20th Century.