The Rough Men

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

George Orwell

Old George. The good do die young. The man left us with a veritable trove of wisdom, penned to thousands of pages and translated to hundreds of tongues across the planet. Yet of all those words which form the man’s legacy, few echo with greater profundity than this one sentence. It is a statement, like so many to have crossed his lips, that bears the burden of an uncomfortable truth.

This uncomfortable truth, like a red stain on white fabric, can not simply be removed: every ham-handed effort only turns the fabric pink. Even the most skilled excision still leaves at least a shadow of the truth. Some stains, like truths, no matter how hard you try to erase them just will not come out. The verity which refuses to be removed from this equation is that western man has become, by and large, emasculated.

The lifers live on first shift, as opposed to first watch which is an entirely different scale of time. Nine to five with an hour’s commute built to either side. Then home to a diet of high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and cable television subscriptions that only offer more toxins to be absorbed and stored in fatty tissues. Within the mounds of puffy, purulent flesh that result is formed that cocoon of conformity where they reside. Within hours of sunset they are reliably ensconced upon their sleep number beds and immersed into a fitful slumber. They never see those rough men or know of the deeds they perform. In their waking hours some may even go so far as to decry (if not deny) the very existence of those rough men. At the very least they question the need.

These serfs are content to accept the protections accorded to them within the castle walls of the state, unable or unwilling to assume any active role in their own defense. They eschew violence and any instruments designed for such purpose. These are the unsanitary tasks, like refuse collection and wastewater treatment, better left to the skilled hands of municipal or county employees. These things are regarded as part of the contract, included in the price of admission. This thinking leaves them unequipped for the gate crashers that will inevitably appear at any party that grows too large.

So they doze, secure in their knowledge that these matters are taken care of. Their only whiff of what happens outside of their doors at night is to be found in the fetid stench wafting from the TV screen’s morning offering. Most of it goes unreported because no one wants to know. These truths are too unpleasant to be digested with pop tarts or bran muffin either one, and certainly not to be served with cream, as it would surely curdle. No, these are tales better served with a heavy meal to help cushion the blow. And hard liquor, preferably whiskey. The kind of feast that is seldom prepared at home any more, thus the banquet of lighter fare goes unchanged.

There are many rough men who stand ready to do violence, but on no one’s behalf but their own. The age of heroes has passed; all the gilded armor is tarnished now. As Frank Herbert foretold men have become slaves to other men with machines, those too destined to ultimately become enslaved to the very machines they have wrought. The graveyard shift walks where the laws of the lifer’s bubble do not apply. Theory be damned! This is where the rubber meets the road. They are flawed and deeply. They comprise the vital defective components of the flawed reality that lives outside of suburban gates. Cab drivers and bartenders, junkies and dope dealers, whores and politicians, cops and nurses, all manner of miscreants and social refuse. Alcoholics and adrenaline junkies, smokers and atheists, cage fight enthusiasts and bookies, thieves, grifters…, they’re all there. Like the remora that rides upon a shark’s back in the sea, they live off of the bubble, but are not invited to the banquet being served inside, instead subsisting upon the bits of chum before they drift to the ocean floor.

When the bubble bursts the castle walls collapse with it, the protections of laws and a benign police force no longer on offer. The ramparts are breached nightly, in one quarter or another. The graveyard shift already know what to do when the whole fail goes live, every night a dress rehearsal. Unlike the lifers they can picture how it all comes down when this becomes a live ammo exercise. These were the people missing at Parkland and other tragedies like it. Screwheads and other merchants of mayhem prey upon the killing fields where these players are conspicuously absent. Screwheads are able to move in the midst of the graveyard, mostly unnoticed. They live where the graveyard comes to work, but like the lifers in the bubble they have no balls. The only true distinction between them is that one travels, unencumbered by gonads, by virtue of having surrendered theirs voluntarily: the other due to having been born without.

The rough men ready to do violence are ever present. They do not place their trust, their homes or their families into the hands of other men. They are possessed of the clarity to see that laws and the existence of help at the other end of a telephone signal are not enough to insure their security. They accept with no illusions that much of the world is indeed within 96 hours of eating each other, a world in which the only protection resides in a lethal force in the hands of the sane. Should others benefit as a result it is wholly unintended, but they should ask themselves: am I alone?

420

The sad,slow and ugly death of the media, Pt. 2: Gazette the fickle mistress

She entered the lounge of the Bradford, PA Holiday Inn just as Scott Pelley came on the air in the lone monitor above the bar. The early spring was still behaving as winter and she was dressed accordingly; the long coat, the woolen cap and dark glasses aiding in her surreptitious approach.

“Hiya! Don’t be shy, Miss. Whad’ya have?”

She made a discreet scan of the lounge and then tilted her glasses down to bat her lashes at the bartender. “I’ll have a Horni Margarita, thanks.”

She was pleased to find that she had beat him here. The location had been selected for it’s obscurity, but in the unlikely event that they were noticed she could honestly say that he had come to her. She took the margarita into her bejeweled and perfectly manicured fingers and slid a ten across the bar, nodding to the bartender to keep the change. She made it plain that she didn’t wish to be disturbed.

As she sat waiting she sipped patiently from her glass, fighting the urge to remove her cap and loose her long blond mane. She popped another Xanax and cursed the fact that she was out of cigarettes. No smoking ordinances be damned! Those rules were for the troglodytes who did not possess the good judgment or restraint to enjoy such privileges. The sort of “people” that she “helped” every day with her honest and unbiased reporting. Her anxieties were soon soothed by his voice.

“Hello Gazette. You look stunning!”

It had been a while since she had seen him, her little Fuzz Butt. She had tried to forget the age difference in his absence, to quiet her insecurities, but seeing him there she was again reminded of his youth and her own distance from it. As much as he appealed to her vanity she had tried to hold him at arm’s distance. She had finally succumbed to his persistent charms and agreed to this meeting.

“Thank you Mark. You’re looking well yourself, despite your current, er…troubles.”

“Gazette, you were right my darling! I should have listened to you. But don’t you see? You’ve won their minds, I’ve won their hearts. Together we could rule their very souls!”

He was just adorable when he went all philosophic like that! And he was right. They really should be working together. She ordered another margarita, hoping he would continue talking dirty to her. He didn’t disappoint.

“ Look, I know before we couldn’t make it work because of me. Because I couldn’t do those….things. You know, that one thing you like to do? I know you’re with Pencilneck for that, Gazette, I get it. But he’s not right for you. It’s about more than penetration. I just wanted you to know that I’m past all that now. We can be together now.”

He paused at this point and stepped down from his stool and took a knee on the floor next to her. Gazing lovingly into her vacant eyes he took one of her hands in his and declared his love. “Gazette, I’m ready now. I am ready to be regulated.”

The sad, slow and ugly death of the media, Pt. 1

Gazette was an extraordinary woman. One of those rare, brazen Amazons who was only too pleased to flout her wanton dalliances. Never a walk of shame for this lady the morning after, no sir. Many called her a whore, mostly behind her back; sometimes more directly. She would take these in stride. She knew what she liked and she knew how to get it. If that made her a whore why was that a bad thing?

Gazette carried with her all of the other virtues that actually mattered. The correct public morality for those crucial social hot buttons like LGBT equality, sustainability and income inequality. For whatever her personal failings, Gazette was without question a paragon of civic virtue. She was cool, confident, no wilting lily, yet she was always advertising. Always signaling to those prospective suitors within her orbit that she could be had, but only if you told her what she wanted to hear.

Beneath that facade of perfect nails and teeth, those bleach blonde tresses and silicon implants, there lived an insecure little girl. Gazette needed to be the center of attention. She needed to hear people tell her how pretty she was, how clever, how just perfect her little world. With every breath she drew she needed to be able to say “ oh, it’s so good to be me”. Absent this constant affirmation she would become plagued with self doubt and then find more and outrageous means of gaining attention. It had become a vicious cycle.

Over time it became widely known within her select breeding circle that everyone present had already had a good run at her. It didn’t stop them from coming back for more, when she would have them, but she became aware that over time their numbers seemed to diminish. More and more of them had wandered, finding the attentions of younger, fresher faces more appealing. Her insecurities rose, spurring her to nudge her boundaries further and further into strange new realms. Showing up in the office wearing nothing but heels and a thong below the waist. She still could carry it off well enough for everyone to look, but she was unaware that the talk around the water cooler was all hushed whispers of what none dared to tell her: she really should not be wearing that!

She became obsessed with mirrors then. When no others would flock to admire her, when no submission or depravity could longer serve to entice them to her altar, her vanity swelled to compensate her bruised ego. It was a sad spectacle. Her eyes had grown so sensitive that she could no longer bear the sight of anyone but herself. Her ears had grown so delicate that only the soft cooing of her self adulation could be tolerated. She descended into this pathetic ennui, completely incapable of extracting herself from the morass. For a time it was considered that she might just wither away there.

In Gazette’s universe all defeat is only temporary, no humiliation so horrid as to be career ending. Old whores never die. They just find a new kink. Enter the Pencilneck. He wasn’t much to look at. She never really paid much attention to him, just one of thousands of emasculated betas that populated her realm. Yet all of the sudden, when she was really down, he was there. He was everywhere! It was clear in a very short span of time that this man would do anything to gain and hold her attention. Despite his physical shortcomings his persistence won her over. Having been starved for a time of the level of adoration to which she’d grown accustomed, what had initially been creepy eventually was seductive.

The two became inseparable. Within months there was no finding one without the other being there or close behind. This was blossoming into something more than mere lust. Gazette and Pencilneck had found true love at last. For you see Gazette had found her new kink and Pencilneck was happy to indulge her. Gazette had discovered the empowering truth of pegging. The first time she saddled up it was liberating. It really was the correct physical manifestation of the underlying dynamic of their relationship. In the absence of the proper anatomy love found a way, with the aid of lubricants and injection molding.

 

420

 

Dishonest Motives and conversations with old Friends

InkedAsshole of th year_LI

A report from field correspondent, Ford Wenty

In 2006 I had needed to conduct an unplanned (and rather unpleasant) visit to Albuquerque. I had not been warned of the balloon festival taking place and at that eleventh hour to describe the travel arrangements as ad hoc would be an act of charity. From the meager supply of remaining accommodations available in the Duke City I was forced to settle for a second floor room at an Extended Stay hotel located in a completely lifeless industrial district. The room itself was no problem; a bed with clean sheets, a shower and a toilet. At 12:45 AM (2:45 eastern) no other amenities are required.

Extended Stay America hotels are a fabulous bargain for the true road warrior. They are well appointed suites all, with a full sized refrigerator and a functional kitchenette, they are a below median priced refuge from the ravages of the road. Whether for a night or for a week they are a good value for your travel dollar spent. The only other amenities on the grounds are a small vending area and a guest laundry. One does indeed get what one pays for and in the case of Extended Stay hotels be prepared to bring your own fun. It’s still a lot cheaper than cocktail lounges and cab fare.

One of the other cost reducing measures taken by this chain, which allows them to provide such a value, is the absence of a desk attendant between the hours of 11P to 7A. Not even a housekeeper. Arrangements are made with late arrivals to obtain their key through a mailbox which is accessible with a key code entry. In one sense I rather admire their optimism with regard to basic human character. These hotel guests are all grown ups, after all, aren’t they? Surely they can fend for themselves for eight hours without any supervision! What could possibly go wrong?

I was one of the ill-fated late arrivals that early morning. In fact I was the last check in of the night. I took the key from the night deposit box and returned to the rental just to retrieve a satchel from the front seat, leaving the other luggage for daylight. Upon entering the suite I found it poorly lit and underwhelmingly dull. It was perfect for my purposes.

I hadn’t eaten since Pueblo, over six hours earlier. Two large steak burritos and six bottles of Bohemia Cerveza. Sometimes life on the road can be sweet, but the burritos were now screaming to complete their odyssey through my plumbing. It was at that precise moment that I knew there were three things that were going to happen in this suite, further, that these should occur in the following order:

1 – I was going to relieve myself of the screaming burritos

2 – I was going to drink Captain Morgans straight from the bottle until I was on the verge of passing out, and finally…

3 – drop two hits of plain white blotter

There was important work to commence at sunrise. I would need to be alert.

The initial phase of this plan was achieved in a mercifully brief span of time. With only the remaining evidence to dispose of at the end of a 3” handle I was eagerly anticipating that sharp, crisp snap of the seal of the bottle, awaiting in the satchel. Alas! My wishes were to be confounded by a most cruel twist of fate.

There is an oddity in the digestion of the common steak burrito. It is one of only a handful of foods on the planet that are able to produce a volume of waste product equal to or greater than the mass of it’s original form. You may be surprised to learn that there are no Indian foods included in this short list. In any event, suffice to say that the plumbing in my suite did not appear to be up to the task, much to my chagrin. Had I been in my top form at the time I would have cursed at the toilet. Violently. The flush handle returned to it’s 3:00 heading and the mass rose with the water, higher and higher. I had no energy to protest and stared blankly with the certainty that it would spill over the rim. The rotation slowed and the turd soup crested just beneath the seat. It would have taken no more than a lemon dropped into it to begin the flood. I had no further need of these facilities now. This could wait for housekeeping in a few hours. I retreated from the horror, resolved that if I should need to urinate at any time before then the sink would do.

When I unzipped the large outer compartment of my satchel the pristine bottle of Captain Morgans beamed up at me. That brazen harlot with the come hither look in her eyes, aflame with a desire to be consumed. Many a bottle has been my siren song, ensnaring me in the rocky shoals of life, until a change of tide should bring other fortunes, for better or worse. Yet still the seas rage. All the ebb and flow of tides will pass, the surf will crash and gulls will wail. These pass unconscious from mind in the ether filled kiss of her lips. Each bottle is a seductress, wantonly swaying her hips in invitation then coyly protesting your advances. Small sips, like softly nibbling an earlobe and then casting hot breath upon the nape of her neck, until the heat builds and you drink deeper from that well. Somewhere between 4 and 5 ounces you feel her flesh become pliant to your touch. The dance is done, me lad; come and take your reward.

I had reached my limit, the shades of unconsciousness hovered over my eyes. It was time to execute phase three. I fished into one of the other pockets of the case to locate a small cellophane. In a drunken stupor I miraculously extracted the small wrapping, successfully unrolling it to locate two 3/16” squares of plain white stock. Each of these was infused with precisely 150 micrograms of a very high grade LSD, produced in a state of the art laboratory approximately 22 minutes outside of the Denver metro area. It’s an old friend of mine, a renegade pharmacist I guess you’d call him. Maybe a chemo-anarchist? Well, the label doesn’t matter. The dude makes some seriously good shit. Clean. I was just in time. They would dissolve in my mouth as I passed out, I would enjoy 90 minutes of blissful oblivion and then wake with the dawn, hyper-alert and ready for violence (should that prove necessary).

I did indeed succumb to the bliss of dreamless sleep, though I know not for what duration. It was the sleep of the dead, complete void while it lasted. The expectation had been that the dose would have the time to develop momentum within a cocoon of total sedation. Instead this proved to be yet another of many instances in which the experience fails to match the expectation. These occasions do not always equate disappointment, just most of the time. This time was no exception.

What I had attempted is a technique of dropping acid known to the experienced psychonaut as “the tripper’s awakening”. With a couple of notable exceptions that ended in heart failure (due more to other underlying health issues) it is a method that, although seldom attempted, has yielded a wild array of results. Little has been officially documented, for reasons I need not expand upon here. The ideal would have been to be at a point of near total sedation at time of ingestion, remaining in the sedated state for a period of up to two hours before the stimulative effects would cause awakening. The moment of regaining consciousness emerges from the enhanced dream state just prior to awakening. No caffeine required, simply hit the ground running with energy, hyper-alertness and a panoramic field of color and shifting shapes.

Instead of that optimal result I was awakened by a screaming fire alarm. I’ve never had a bad trip, but I learned a good way to begin one. I thought I had died; that the alarm was the blare of trumpets, a menacing herald for my impending judgment. I hadn’t even begun to sweat out the alcohol, my pulse elevated and my eyelids peeled back seamlessly. The mental image registered went straight from blackness to shimmering patterns, punctuated by the glowing pulse of the red light on the wall flashing in time with the alarm. My adrenal gland shifted into hyperdrive and I found myself cresting upon a complete psychotic meltdown. It was very nearly past the tipping point, but I remained grounded in some anchor to reality. I was mentally coaching myself to remember to breath, just breath man! Slow down. My breathing steadied and my heart rate soon followed. I was in a hotel. In Albuquerque. This was a fire alarm. Oh – what – the – fuck!

The shifting shapes and light or shadow play raged unabated as the background. It was like life unfolding with a giant cinema screen behind, filled with camp images from cheap Japanese horror films. Against this wallpaper I slowly moved in reaction to the reality unfolding within that same space. I wasn’t even certain at that moment in space/time that my sense of smell was even functioning. Nonetheless I instinctively sniffed at the air for any sign of smoke. There was none. At least, not that I could perceive. My next instinct would thrust me towards the door to have a look outside for any sign of flame on the premises. The intermittent flashing red light of the alarm combined with my hallucinogenic haze created a maze I was unable to navigate. I knew they did not exist, but my visual field registered two tears rendered from the earth as deep chasms between my being and the distant door. Dark, unknown and dread depths that a man dare not tread near. The only remaining option was to pivot into the swirling collage and reach for the switch to the mirror lamp above the bathroom sink.

Good Christ on a bike, man! The horror that greeted me with the light! There, in a pooling mass of liquid shit on that bathroom floor was the face of none other than Richard Milhouse Nixon. Mercifully that spill of light from the bathroom mirror was enough to show a path around the looming chasms. In panic I fled up this path and reached for the door handle. I reached with an expectation of some relief, that there was some still altered, yet kinder reality awaiting on the other side. Maybe I was expecting something like the cover of a Carlos Castaneda paperback. Anything would have been better than the surreal terror that lay in the space behind me.

The hellfire caverns ablaze at my back, the door handle felt unnaturally cool to the touch, like wet fingertips touching frozen steel. I was committed to it now; opening the door provided the only hope of removing my hand without losing several layers of flesh. At once I pulled with all my might upon the handle and was nearly inhaled by the whooshing vacuum this created. I dared not turn to see, but I could hear the hissing of those sulfur pits extinguished behind me. The chill of the high mesa’s predawn hour sucked into the suite completely changed the gravity. In a sudden moment of lucidity I sensed my satchel somewhere in the peripheral field to my right. I rapidly snatched it away from it’s resting place and confronted the scene framed in the doorway.

With the black night, the parking lot beyond and glaring security lights as the backdrop, there stood the dark profile of a tall man with long hair, features indistinct. For the first time since awakening I heard sound other than the blaring alarm.

“Hey man! Your shitters run over down into my room! The fucking sprinklers are going off!”

This was my introduction to Javier. Satchel in hand my instinct was to flee this scene. It was indeed true that the toilet had overflowed. In my unconscious state this had pooled into a space somewhere between the floors, creating a short in some wiring, a small fire with the subsequent alarm and sprinklers triggered inside of Javier’s suite. In my altered state, indeed perhaps because of it, I could sense there was no malice. Instead I was overwhelmed by an empathetic understanding that here was a man in desperation. For the first time in many hours I spoke, my own voice sounding foreign.

“Do you have some place else you can go?”

“Uh, yeah. Why?”

“Then I’m with you, kid. Let’s get the fuck out of here!”

“Okay, but you gotta help me pick up my shit, man!”

Not another word was exchanged for some time. I followed him to the stairs and down. The doors of other guest rooms were opening now, a parade of gruesome masks of irritation and jeers. The door to Javier’s suite was standing open and a Ford cargo van with Montana plates was backed up in the space before it. Javier opened the rear doors of the van and then plunged into the suite, emerging dripping wet moments later with two large black garbage bags. They were quite fragrant: there was little doubt of their content. I reckoned there to be something in the range of 50 pounds. He loaded these into the back of the van, slammed the doors shut and raced to the drivers seat. I was able to hold him up just long enough to drop the keys in the front seat of the rental car and retrieve my other bag. Within three minutes of our initial encounter we were loaded and pulling away from that nightmare.

I was captive in the shotgun seat. I had no possible inkling of where this vehicle was headed, but Javier carried a certain bearing which spoke to a high level of competence in situations like these. We hadn’t even been formally introduced at that point. Javier gunned the engine to full throttle as soon as we departed the street lights of the city, north and west rising from the scrub of the mesa and into the dark ridges beyond. The sun would soon be chasing us from over the east horizon. While the green glow of the dashboard lighting illuminated his features in an otherworldly mask I was still able to peer inside the hallucinogenic experience to the truth of the man’s face. He bore the hawkish facial features of an ancient Spanish nobility, but there was some peerage higher than mere dukes or earls coursing those veins. I finally decided to speak before the sun’s rays began to sear through the rear windows.

“I was sent here to see a man about some chemicals. You know anything about that?” His eyes remained cemented to the road. No reaction at all. “Name’s Ford. Since we’re probably committing a felony together we probably oughtta at least exchange numbers or something, right?” Ah! There it was, just a little crease of amusement at the corner of his mouth.

“Javier. Thanks for helping me, man.”

“Sure. No problem. Sorry about the shitter! I think the fucking thing was possessed. Hope your packages were unharmed. What the fuck you got in there? You shouldn’t even need to light that shit!”

Javier barely suppressed a grimace that told he was a little annoyed with the sudden rapid fire, yet he remained calm, hands on the wheel and eyes fixed upon the road. He offered no reply to any of it, though he did speak again after a time.

“What kind of chemicals?”

“Oh you know! Just your run of the mill industrial solvents, aluminum powder.”

“Just those. Okay. Hope you weren’t looking to meet your guy this morning.”

In light of the circumstances that entire exercise was off the table now. I wouldn’t be going back to Albuquerque any time soon. I waved off the notion. “Bah! That’s off. I’ll get hold of Enterprise, tell ‘em to pick up the sedan and have another one ready for me at, uh… where are we going anyway?”

“Tell them to have another one ready for you in Santa Fe in two days.”

“We’re going to Santa Fe?”

“No. I will deliver you there in two days.”

“Yeah. Okay, sounds good. So why two days?”

Javier turned his head from the road for the first time since I had climbed aboard. A broad grin expanded across his mouth as he turned toward me and at that very instant the sun broke the horizon behind us and shone an iconic beam upon those white fangs. I was still deep in the dose, in a state of what I believe current vernacular refers to as “tripping balls”. I was instantly hypnotized by this kaleidoscopic vision of Javier’s wicked smile. From a voice sounding somewhere far distant from the man before me I heard: “Go ahead, man. Check out what’s in the bags”. Then I heard laughter. I was struggling to keep a clear focus on his face. Every time his features grew clear, sharp and distinct I had to avoid staring too hard, lest his face should again melt into a sinister wax of crimson and black. In the fleeting images between molten pools I could at least make clear that it was not he who was laughing: it was I.

This, my friends, is how I was introduced to not just Javier, but to two no less remarkable phenomena: Carlton Milhouse, botanist par excellence and his blessed progeny, the immortal Presidential Cheese. Though I might with ease and at length extol the virtues of this unequaled display of botanical prowess, I will refrain from further comment in deference to another staff contributor who shall cover the topic in greater depth in another upcoming feature. Now as concerns Javier, he has remained a frequent associate in the years since. Not a close associate, but one with whom I have had occasion to conduct business in one form or another at least once a year, some years a bit more. Quite often these may entail nothing more than phone conversations, the likes of which incidentally was had just a few short weeks ago:

“Javier! Que pasa, mi amigo? Livin’ large in Denver now, eh?”

“Hey Ford! Good to hear from you, man! How’s life in the lair?”

“Great, great. It looks better every day.”

“Cool. So what’s on your mind, hombre?”

“Ah, Judas Priest, Javier! Can you believe this putz!? I can’t believe what I am watching on my screen!”

“What Ford? Calm down, man! Which putz?”

“Fucking Boehner!”

“Oh, that? So?”

“So!? Are you fucking kidding me man? Crybaby Boehner. Un-fucking-real! No political capital at stake now and we are supposed to believe that his thinking has just “evolved”? No brother, I call bull shit. He’s just one more of these pricks who lick their finger and stick it up in the air every morning to see which way the headwinds are blowing. Now that the tides have shifted he’s just looking to be part of the cabal ready to swoop in and grab their monopoly with state sponsorship and cash in on the commercialization. It’ll end up being shitty dope! What will happen to the Cheese, man?”

“Yo, bro! Chill! Look,man… I know why you’re thinking that. I do, bro. I dig what you’re putting down, but I gotta tell ya, man. There’s more to Boehner’s story than you know, okay?”

This brought the conversation to a grinding halt. I was incredulous. I know Javier. Javier is a solid dude, without question. For a moment I was left dumbstruck: what could he possibly be saying?

“Okay Javi. I’ll bite. Give. Whaddya know?”

“Alright. Put on your logic cap for minute. The announcement comes in close proximity to what date? April 20, four twenty, right? You really think Boehner’s smart enough to figure that out on his own?”

“I see…go on.”

“Boehner has an adviser/publicist, a firm that does similar work for the big tobacco companies. You know he is an unapologetic smoker and had a long voting record in support of tobacco interests…”

“Sonofabitch! It’ll be cigarette tax on steriods! I knew it!”

“You’re right Ford, but hold on. There is still more to the story that you do not know.”

“Ha! What else could I learn that could possibly change what I already know?”

“Well look, friend. His motives may be corrupted now, but I can tell you his conversion is genuine.”

“Shut the fuck up! Are you eating the Cheese for breakfast now?”

“Ha ha ha! Only on Fridays my friend. No, it’s for real. Do you remember when Pope Francis came to Washington a few years back?”

“Uh…yeah?”

“Ok, well remember when Boehner made that big blubbering display in the press conference after meeting his Holiness? And then not long after he resigns from the House?”

“Oh fuck me running, Javier! You gonna try to sell me on some kinda Papal conspiracy? Come on!”

“No, not like that. Dude! Just listen to me a minute, okay? I know this is all legit because that same week my friend, I was entrusted as the personal courier to deliver a special package of Cheese to none other than….”

“Wait, wait! This is too good. What you are telling me is that… The Pope smokes Dope?”

“That is exactly what I am telling you, bro! Not just any dope, mind you. Only the finest. Only the Presidential Cheese.”

“So Il Papa smokes up Boehner with some of the Cheese and that’s all she wrote. Jesus, Javier! Is this a great fucking country or what? I mean where else on the planet?”

“I know, right? So yeah, man. There it is. That’s the straight poop on Boehner, man.”

“Hmm. Indeed. You know he’s still part of the Dark Side, though. You’ve gotta set me up with Carlton soon! We have to get our ducks in a row!”

“What the fuck are you on about now, Ford?”

“I’m serious! It’s the only way we’ll subvert these corporate bastards! We’ve got to set up a direct to market network. Maybe drone delivery? But we gotta move fast, man! I can see it now: Presidential Cheese. It’s what the Pope smokes!

As I mentioned earlier, you’ll be learning more about the Presidential Cheese soon. Don’t look for it on your grocery store shelves, but if you hang around the delivery entrance of your local Rectory you may run across some enterprising seminary students who can oblige. Tell them Ford sent you.

The Unvarnished Truth about the Mueller Investigation: Beware when Axolotls Frolic

A report from field correspondent Ford Wenty

Flaming axolotls wormed their way in and out of the dead and hollowed cactus as they scurried up and down it’s length. The cactus shared the desert floor with me for a bed. The foul ash of cigarettes and cheap tequila had awakened my mouth before my eyes had opened. I already knew I was in the desert; in the night I had become one with the desert, I alive within it and the desert alive upon my tongue and parched lips. My lids parted with no cloud or fog of awakening, the images instantly sharp, the colors vivid in dawn’s soft rose light. I wondered if these manic salamanders were going to burrow tunnels through my carcass as well. Paranoia. Probably the residual effect of the mescaline. From some deep tangled undergrowth there were brief flashes of images. Syringes. Sodium Pentothal, dark rituals, some really bad shit had gone down here.

A dilemma: which urgency is greater? The need, the desperate clawing thirst of dehydration, or the necessity to remain absolutely still in order to prevent my skull from splitting open? The growing glow of a lust for flesh beamed from the cold black eyes of the axolotls. One of them (a female. I’m almost sure of it) hissed and bared it’s fangs to me. With paranoia still active upon my mind it instantly occurred to me that this could be her banshee call to all the rest of her sisters across the wastes. Within moments there could be an orgy of blood lust descending upon me from all directions! The cranial distress had to be endured: I needed to leave this place at once and find water. Any water. A mud puddle would do.

The desert at dawn is an enchanting place. Just like the woodland or meadow, the urban jungle or the patchwork quilt of suburbia, dawn is the intersection between the denizens of the night as they retire and the creatures of the light as they awaken to their sun. In the desert it is all out in the open. Unless one of those creatures who burrow beneath the ground, there are very few places to hide. The process of raising my head and then making it to my feet was excruciating. I was able to move by only the most basic of motor functions, little above the point of my brain stem able to perform anything but to brace against the merciless pulse pounding like a bass drum between my ears. I was uncertain if I was joining those retiring or those waking. Or if there was even a choice.

Upon standing I found that the slimy little bastards that had been plotting their feast upon my mortal remains had suddenly vanished. Most likely burrowed down inside of that dead Saguaro to escape the daily furnace of the desert floor. Peering off into the east horizon the earth emerged from the blanket of night, heaving a sigh to fortify itself to the long and blazing hours ahead. In the far distance behind, beyond the long and slow rising hills still cloaked beneath night’s retreat, I swear there were strains of the Doors Riders on the Storm. Wishful thinking. Rain would have been a comfort, even in those early hours when the air was still crisp.

The desert is still a good place to hide for those who wish to escape human eyes. It’s not a place a lot of people want to be. Vague recollections began to return. A caravan of black SUVs, going off-road into an ocean of tan, raising plumes of dust in their wake. The meeting place had been designated by a set of coordinates transmitted over burner phones. There was no plausible reason for anyone to be at that location at that hour if they had not been invited. Yes, the desert is a good place to hide. All kinds of strange shit happens in the desert. You just never hear about it.

I had discovered that I was just a few yards on the opposite bank of a shallow, dry arroyo running behind a gas station. It was a Valero station. Yes. That had been the last sign of any human habitation before the caravan had turned off the highway, at least another 20 miles beyond. I had no recall of how I had arrived there, only that I had seen the place the day before. Or the day before that. Whatever day this was.

There had been four of them, all high-riding, sable chariots stampeding at the force of over two-thousand horses into the trackless desert wastes, chasing after the waning sun. They were the four horsemen, all in black, galloping at breakneck speed to meet their fateful destiny amid the sands. All military grade models with the beefed up suspension and chassis, Kevlar panels, bullet proof glass. Even the lamps all around were cloaked in tight-fitting black mesh to give the illusion that each was a smooth black bullet when moving at speed. They were dressed up just like their inhabitants in their black suits, ties and sunglasses. And their socks, their belts, their hearts. Black has always been the official color for villains and, coincidentally, for government issue vehicles.

I stumbled across the distance to the front of the station, each unsteady footfall terminating in a jarring shock up the spine like the hammer game at the county fair with my head substituted for the bell. After water I planned on remaining perfectly still and in the shade for as long as possible. Reaching the corner of the storefront I placed my hand against the wall to steady myself for a moment. I had to wonder if that tequila had not been mixed in bottling with an errant lot of Drano. After taking the first tentative step toward the entrance I caught sight of a reflection in the glass. Logically I knew it had to be my own yet I could hardly recognize this sight before my eyes. There, staring back at me with hollow and red-rimmed eyes from the window, was the image of a man who had been shaken to his very core, witness to some abomination so grotesque as to make the saints shudder. Or a man who had seen a vision of his own mortal end. Haunted. For the first time since arising I began to consciously try remembering what else had happened and how or why I ended up here.

I managed a slow shuffle across the front of the store and winced in preparation for the deafening welcome chime that was sure to erupt upon opening the door. Thankfully it had been deactivated. The cosmic imbalance of this small mercy was corrected immediately by the humming blue haze of fluorescent lamps, the favored instrument of optical torture for gas stations and mini-mart stores nationwide. Following the soft, rose light of a desert dawn it was a particularly vicious assault. I’d had every intention of snaring one of those pairs of black sunglasses from those hired goons: every pair is identical so surely they are acquired in bulk. Perhaps there had been a pair to spare. They might even lie somewhere out back, in the dust. Maybe by then the axolotls had dragged them inside of their cactus to be placed upon an altar of sacrifice for the salamander queen. Wherever they had landed, they were not on my head where they were sorely needed. I was left stunned, adjusting to the harsh buzz.

“Jesus, mister! You look like shit!”

The wizened attendant may have been diminished in his other senses, but clearly his vision was still keen. I chose not to acknowledge his observation. It had been shared with no other than me and my own eyes had affirmed it just moments before. The horror was amplified in the distorted images captured in the glare of the cooler case doors. A gallon jug of water, two sixteen ounce talls of Mountain Dew Kick Start (dark cherry) in hand, I careened away from those accursed mirrors! My equilibrium still reeling and the cold sweat of paranoia seeping out of every pore I found my way to the register. I had to weave through waxy aisles, dodging the menacing blobs of cardboard marketing displays for king size candy bars, cheap wine with screw caps and windshield washer fluid. They seemed to be self-propagating, another emerging at every corner. As I finally broke free to the white space approaching the counter I turned one last time. The store was empty except for me and Jerry, the night clerk.

“That gonna be all for ya, mister?”

“No. Lemme get one of those little packs of aspirin, two packs of Marlboro red, uhh… one of these Five Hour extra strength, and….”, I searched up into the racks of more protected goods behind him before finally spotting, “… gimme a pair of those sunglasses up there on the right.”

Jerry took a moment to find the right pair and fumbled to remove them from the display, thinking to ask as he did “Any gas today?”

I actually had to pause for just a second, not totally certain that I had not driven here myself. A glance out to the lot confirmed my recollection: there were no vehicles on the lot. “Nope. That’s it.”

“Okay then, that’s $34.96.” I reached into my pants pocket and found a wad of bills, extracted a couple of twenties and pushed them across the counter. Jerry took the cash, made the change and could not take advantage of that golden opportunity to just lazily doze away the remainder of his shift. “Rough night?”

Against my better judgment I briefly made eye contact, maybe offered half a nod in acknowledgment and busied myself with the priorities first. Water. Then the aspirin, with more water, followed by the Five Hour and washed down with half a Kick Start and more water. This consumed a little over two minutes, during which Jerry (apparently mistaking my silence for actually caring) proceeded to tell me about how he loved it out here in the desert. About how he had landed here after getting cleaned out by wife number four; how his life was simple now, with just his bike and a trailer and Saturday nights with all the other Vietnam vets at the VFW. I may have accidentally nodded a few times while fitting the sunglasses, thus encouraging him to go on.

“ …. , yeah, so it don’t pay much, but I got my veteran’s benefits and shit, ya know? Hey, I’m goin’ out for a smoke, man. Ya wanna join me?”

That sounded like a good idea. I had two packs of cowboy killers burning a hole in my pockets. “Hey Jerry, what day is this?”

“Whoa-ho-hooo! You really did have a wild one! It’s Tuesday, man!”

Tuesday. That meant I had landed here sometime Monday night or the very wee hours of the new day. So that first ride out into the desert must have occurred on late Sunday? Or Saturday? There was still so much missing. “Let’s go have that smoke.”

That first drag that you take off of a Marlboro red the morning after is magical. It makes you remember why you liked smoking cigarettes. And after a prolonged binge of any nature that first blast of tar and nicotine is a catalyst to mental clarity. It braces you for that moment when things start making sense. This apparently had the same effect for Jerry, who noted with some mild astonishment that there were no vehicles present anywhere on the lot.

“Hey man, how did you get here?”

“Walked.”

“No shit. From where, man?”

“Out there, somewhere….the desert.” He either didn’t really care or he found the good sense not to pry any further. “What time did you come on last night, Jerry?”

“Eleven, same as always.”

“Many customers overnight? Any one stick out in your memory?”

“There ain’t but two or three most nights. Seen one of them big black things, ya know, like one of them Escalades, pulled in here around 2:30 or so. Got gas, some old fella come in and paid cash. Nothin’ special about him, I guess. He drove off and a couple more of them trucks just like it come along on the road right behind him.”

This piqued my interest. So. The bastards had dropped me off out back there some time in the last six hours or so. I still could draw no recollection of this. Pull off the road in range but out of sight, drop your parcel, send a scout ahead to ensure no witnesses or surveillance cameras to clean up. But why here? They could have dropped me anywhere. Or… could it be I had escaped?

“What’d the old fella look like? Kinda like skin made out of wood, Harry Dean Stanton hopped up on prednisone?”

“Yeah! That’s exactly what he looked like! And he had those shark eyes, ya know?”

“Yeah. I know.”

“You know the guy? Was that your ride?”

In the soft light of dawn I could forego the shades for just a moment. I lit another cigarette with one hand while pulling the glasses from my head. “Jerry, remember when you were in Nam? Sometimes maybe you saw some shit you weren’t supposed to see? This is like one of those times. You should forget you ever saw that guy and never say anything about this to anyone. You never saw him, you never saw me. Got it?”

“Who are you?”

“Exactly.”

It took another minute before the full grasp of it crossed his face. “ Uhh…maybe I better go back inside. My relief gets here in about 40 minutes and I still gotta take out the trash and….” he muttered on as he went back inside. Jerry was harmless, otherwise they would have iced him when they got the fuel. All of this would genuinely be forgotten in the bottom of a whiskey bottle by 2:00 that afternoon. Left alone on the cool concrete I returned the lenses to my head and began to try to reconstruct events.

The lead vehicle had been packed with goons, the advance guard. No necks and bullet heads, these were the cream of the crop. Just the sort of humorless tools you needed for a gig like this. The next SUV was the command vehicle with a driver, two more heavily armed gorillas, Jimmy Boy with his rosary beads and the big Kahuna himself, Agent Mueller. The third of their company contained yet another driver, four more goons and two hapless victims bound and gagged upon the floor in the back, and finally the tail vehicle with two well-armed senior agents to cover the rear flank. Other than by some remote satellite connected to the sympathetic eyes of some NSA bunker they were undetected.

There was an enormous risk entailed in this meeting. Already there were too many digital and paper trails. It used to be safe to assume that these would never see the light of day; indeed, these communications had been designed with the thought that they were to remain concealed. It had all been operated on a “need to know” basis and as long as those parties in the know were in charge of admission it all worked just fine. Edward Snowden was just the first plug to be removed from the dike. Now it was all coming unraveled. Secrets were spilling over the floodgate in a volume that required an expulsion pump and all they had in hand was a bucket and mop. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The B-12 and caffeine were doing their worst, reviving any vestiges of more illicit stimulants still in my system. With the right chemical combinations you can easily jump-start a good speed buzz. Another half-gallon of water and a few more Marlboros started to recall events, disjointed and out of sequence, like taking an old VHS tape and advancing or reversing through the grainy screen to stop and play periodically to find the desired spot. In this slow and tortuous fashion the events replayed even as the axolotls dozed.

Jimmy Boy was anguished, quietly reciting prayers by rote as he nervously rubbed his rosaries. Or he may have been rehearsing how he was going to spin this for confession. That is if he still indulged that practice. For a moment I actually felt a bit of sympathy. It must be crushing to discover that once you have left the bureau there is no longer that direct line to a higher authority. You’re then left to sort it out for yourself or rely upon the tainted guidance of others with their own agenda. I guess life in the bureau doesn’t really prepare you for this. Well, after all, this isn’t exactly “your father’s” FBI any more. Not since old J. Edgar shuffled off of this mortal coil in a hemline just above the knees and a pair of modest pumps. They just don’t make lawmen like that any more.

Agent Mueller was growing annoyed. Jimmy had proven to be a useful idiot up until a few months ago. Mueller simply could not comprehend how a man of such freakish proportions felt the need to be such an attention whore. He’d gone so far with the piety that it appeared he was starting to believe his own bull shit, which in this business was a very dangerous thing to do. Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity. This was for public consumption, part of the confidence game. For lifers like themselves these words were just another part of the uniform. You don’t need to believe the lie to embrace the lie, yet somehow Jimmy had forgotten this. He’d allowed himself to be swept up into the celebrity culture within the beltway, become too chummy with a lot of the wrong people who in turn knew how to massage his ego. Jimmy had become a rock star.

“Jesus Fucking Christ! Will you quit playing with those goddamn beads!”, Agent Mueller suddenly snapped.

Jimmy was jolted, dropped the beads and reflexively cowered like a dog. “Sorry boss!”

Agent Mueller quickly regained his composure. “Jim, this is a long shot. You know that, so I have a bailout plan ready for you. If this thing gets away from us you’ll be going to Mindanao to lead a band of up and coming Filipino rappers. You’ll be a god among their people, Jim. They’ll call you Stretch MC and the Altar Boys. As long as you never leave the Philippines you’ll be fine. It’s the best I could do for you under the circumstances, but hell, it beats federal prison doesn’t it?”

Jimmy Boy didn’t appear to have heard this, or if he had he seemed completely unconcerned by it. He had dropped to his knees upon the floor, searching for his lost rosaries. It seemed an entirely fitting posture for a moment which demanded a certain measure of contrition. They both knew that were it not for old Jimmy Boy going off script and trying to hedge his bets ten days out from the election they probably wouldn’t even be there. The nameless, faceless and unaccountable gears of the machine would have continued to grind away, as ever with none the wiser. The precision engine of a mass collective idiocy had nearly become an object of perpetual motion. This wasn’t the end of the ride, but it was sure as hell heading off of the track.

There were a lot of people in that toxic DC to New York orbit that stood to lose a great deal. Pride, privilege, careers, reputations: matters trivial to most other than themselves. The natives were growing restless, the first hint of blood was in the air and the hounds had been loosed. A good hound will catch a scent and begin his pursuit. When the scent of fear is added to that bouquet his pursuit becomes relentless. Unless you give him something more enticing. Agent Mueller’s conjuring act at the Special Counsel’s office was fast running out of things to throw them off of the trail. If this gambit didn’t yield something spectacular Jimmy Boy was going to meet the same fate as the two Secret Service agents that were strung up in the vehicle behind them. The Philippines’ loss could be compensated later.

My mind encountered more static for a few minutes, prompting consumption of the second can of Kick Start and a more persistent dosage of nicotine. From the clouded blur of images I snatched that moment we had passed the Valero station. The skies had already descended to twilight at that hour, the time of evening when all the photocells seem to switch in unison and the hideous yellow orbs of high pressure sodium lamps alight like engorged fireflies. But not there, not in the desert. As the dim lights of the gas station faded in the rearview mirror only the desert night lay ahead. There came only the haziest recall of the point at which this caravan turned off-road, by then wholly dark. Plumes of dust and sand sent up in their wake were absorbed and unnoticed in the night.

I could only guess at how far we traveled off-road, that segment of the passage returning only in fleeting images of fog lights cutting a shallow trench across the desert floor, burrowing further and further into oblivion. It was quiet for a long period.

“Mindanao? Really? I suppose that would be alright boss. The Philippines is a good Catholic country, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Jimmy my boy, that it is. Good Catholic country. Definitely in the top 5.”

“Did I tell ya about that time I met Pope Francis?”

“Yes, you did Jimmy. We’re almost there.” Mueller let his gaze linger upon the giant oaf for a moment. It was like looking at a very large, very stupid dog, those vacant eyes gleaming with that desperate need for approval. He wondered if he could pull the trigger.

The destination was far into the desert, on the edge of a few isolated islands of rocky outcroppings climbing to rejoin the range that had abandoned them there. There, nestled in the embrace of one of these, there sat a forgotten and disused wooden shack. It looked like something which might have been left over from an old mining camp. All kinds of things get lost in the desert, but as with all things lost they only remain so until someone goes looking.

The teams were quick to exit their vehicles, moving with purpose to their tasks. Eyes were posted in a perimeter by black suits that melded into the night. The tail vehicle had remained parked some way behind to guard against any approach from the highway. The squad immediately behind hustled into the shack with the two captives, securing the scene for their superiors to enter and commence the festivities.

“Grab the black bag out of the back, Jim Boy. It’s time to get this party started.”

You know on paper when you look at Agent Mueller’s resume you might get the idea that you’re dealing with a boy scout. The kind of guy you’d want to think of as the straight arrow. Solid. But he’s a stellar example of that Annakin Skywalker to Darth Vader transformation that occurs in Washington DC. Like a black hole in space it is a death spiral, a crushing force de-atomizing even the most gargantuan blocks of matter that dare to fall within it’s orbit. It is a portal, a cosmic wormhole to an alternate reality of Orwellian proportions. All matter is transformed, reassembled into something that still resembles it’s former self, but is forever changed, corrupted. This is true for intentions as well. The best of intentions are lost within this maelstrom, replaced by a dogged determination to preserve the agency or bureau or whatever department of that alternate reality they have been absorbed into. The mission forgotten, it just becomes another job.

Jimmy Boy had really screwed the pooch this time. He’d been entrusted not only to cover the bureau’s ass under his own watch, but to protect them from exposure of transgressions spanning Mueller’s own reign. It wasn’t about Bob or Jim or Andy, not the men, but the rank. Nothing mattered but the bureau and it’s power, control and influence. It had nothing to do with justice, despite being under the purview of the department of that name. Agent Mueller was god-damned if it was going to fall without a fight. He was going to need to land one hell of a blow here if there was even to be a chance to stay in the ring.

Despite it’s decrepit exterior the interior of the shack had all the makings of the modern man cave. A safe house of sorts, obviously used before. Probably to some other nefarious purpose. A sturdy table with a full set of four chairs, a couple of sofas, big screen TV, liquor cabinet and an icebox full of Bud Light. The damned place was even piped with AC! All that was needed was buffalo wings, nachos and a couple of buxom bar wenches and it could have been a Super Bowl party. The windows had been boarded up on the outside and blackout shutters were fixed on the interior to insure invisibility. The two Secret Service agents were propped up in seats at the table, stoic under the glare of the low hanging light fixture suspended above the table.

Agent Mueller entered with Jimmy Boy at heel carrying the black bag. He coldly appraised the room, the agents. He moved in a slow, deliberate manner, exuding complete authority over the scene: there would be no mistaking who was in charge of this operation. He slipped out of his suit coat and hung it over the back of one of the chairs. The two agents were seated opposite one another, Mueller at the head of the table standing menacingly above them. He tapped the broad shade of the light fixture to send it swinging side to side so it’s light alternated in pendulum fashion between the two. He was heading into the throes of a hot flash, the beads began to form upon his brow.

“ Jesus H. Christ! It’s hot as fuck in here! Jimmy? Crank up that AC, will ya? I want it cold enough to hang meat in here!”

Jimmy Boy obediently scurried to the controls and placed the unit on max. Agent Mueller loosened his tie and collar then unbuttoned his cuffs and rolled up his sleeves. He was on board for the full ride now, no getting off this train until it reached the final station, wherever that might be. Finally taking his seat at the table he lifted the black bag from the floor and placed it in his lap. He unzipped the top of the bag and carefully examined the contents, methodically selecting his implements as he went. These were arranged on the table. Ten grams of some select Peruvian flake, twelve doses of mescaline, a half-dozen morphine ampules, three quarts of El Toro tequila, three Cuban cigars, six syringes with a vial of sodium pentothal, a brown paper sack of amyl nitrate and last but not least, two lemons with a paring knife. It was looking for all the world like they were planning on staying a while.

“Alright then. I think we’re about to get started. Jimmy would you remove our guests’ gags? I think it would be nice, now that we’re all settled in, to have a nice little conversation about our president.”

The two agents exchanged silent, knowing looks across the table as Mueller opened the small bottle with the coke and helped himself to a couple of hits. By the time Jimmy Boy had removed the gags Mueller had popped the little red sombrero off the top of the first quart of El Toro. I must say I was somewhat surprised to discover that a man from Agent Mueller’s background had discovered the many fine merits of Peruvian coke and cheap tequila in combination. You have to be careful with that stuff, though. If not properly balanced in intake it can lead to blindness, impotence or worse. In extreme cases this can even lead to reptilian hallucinations.

The first agent, seated to Mueller’s left, did not waste any time using his mouth once the gag was removed. “You’ll never get away with this Mueller!”

I slight sneer turned up at the corner of Agent Mueller’s mouth, the reflexively contemptuous response of a man accustomed to doing whatever he damn well pleased. His eyes waxed over cold and black, like shark’s eyes in those seconds just before the kill. He cut a wedge of lemon, took another pull from the tequila and then viciously thrust the paring knife into the agent’s thigh.

“Won’t I? Let me tell you something, boy-o. This is the F-fucking-B-I, sonny. We can get away with any damned thing we like. And do you know why son? We are the authorities who police the authorities. We write whatever fucking rules we want.”

From the other side of the table the other agent chimed in. “You’re a disgrace to the badge, Mueller!”

Sweat was pouring profusely from Mueller now. “Maybe I am and maybe I’m not. There’s fuck all you’re going to do about it. Son-of-a-bitch! Jimmy! Did you turn up that AC?”

“Sure boss! I just did! It’ll cool down more soon. Maybe it’s the tequila….”

Eww! Maybe it’s the tequila! Maybe you can hug my nuts! Sit down and shut the fuck up!” Agent Mueller hastily mopped his brow with a shirt sleeve then let out a long sigh. He leaned back in his chair for a moment and reached for one of the cigars. He tapped it tentatively on the table before lighting, as though contemplating his words carefully. After a short time more he had lit the cigar and had created a thick cloud of haze floating beneath the light. “You know I used to love these god damn things. They just don’t taste as good now that anyone can get them. Do you know what I mean?”

From a neighboring sofa Jimmy replied “But I don’t like cigars, boss!”

Without even turning to look at him Mueller responded “Wasn’t speaking to you, Jimmy. Why don’t you just go outside and bark at the moon? I’ll call if I need you.”

“Are you sure boss? I brought my inquisition costume…maybe I could…”

“I said I’ll call if I need you! Go!” Jimmy scurried out the door with his tail between his legs, then Mueller resumed. “Come on! You fellas know what I’m talking about, dontcha?”

The agents again exchanged subtle glances between themselves, looking for some signal of agreement to either say nothing or to play along. The second agent provided a barely perceptible nod which seemed to indicate the latter.

“Yeah, I think I know what you’re talking about. What does that have to do with us?”

“Oh, I think we all know the answer to that now, don’t we? I shouldn’t have to spell it out for you.”

Now the first agent with the paring knife embedded in his leg spoke. “Alright Mueller. What is it you want?”

“Now we’re getting somewhere. I want what you know and we know that you know something. You may not even know that you know it, so we’re just going to have a little conversation about the activities of the current chief executive. Both of you have been in and out of the presidential detail for the past year. I want to know how many Russians, names, dates, locations…, you know what? They don’t even have to be Russians! A Bulgarian, a Byelorussian, hell even a Polack! Anyone who could even be suspected of being a Russian. That’s all we need and you need to understand this: I will get this information out of you one way…” Mueller paused here for emphasis, patting a hand upon the vial of sodium pentothal, “… or another. So! What’s it gonna be, fellas?”

The look exchanged between the two Secret Service agents this time took on a new tone. The rumors about the old FBI warhorse going unhinged appeared now to be well founded. Both men grew fully aware of the degree of their peril. Whether a classic case of “you don’t know what you don’t know” or not, this was not going to end well. The cache of illicit substances was only going to hasten the mayhem.

Agent Mueller reached down into the black bag again and extracted a pale blue file folder. It was placed upon the table far enough in front of him for the two agents to see. He let it sit there unopened for a few minutes to intensify the suspense while he groped into the inner pocket of his suit coat to locate his reading glasses. With dramatic flair he casually removed these from their case and busied himself with cleaning the lenses, holding them up to the lamp periodically to examine his work. When finally perching them at the end of his nose Agent Mueller gruffly cleared his throat. The Peruvian Snow was drying him out.

He opened the file and began to catalog a long list of dates, locations and parties known to be present at each. In some instances Mueller was even able to read verbatim transcripts of conversations which had been intercepted by various means of electronic surveillance. In every single case cited one or both of these agents had been a part of the presidential detail. What Mueller was after was their knowledge of any clandestine meetings, the presence of other unknown or unrecorded parties and any conversations which may have been in locales which signals intelligence had been unable to obtain. And in every case the agents were able to affirm information which was already present, but to Mueller’s growing chagrin neither had any additional information to add to the record.

He had seemed almost good-humored at times as the pages of the file progressed. Even though they weren’t telling him what he wanted to hear he seemed to be playing along. The wry smirk on his lips said that he knew (at least in his own mind) there was something there and these two punks just weren’t giving it up. Fine. They could go through the motions and amuse themselves with this for hours. Agent Mueller was fully prepared to, in fact was looking forward to, employing more advanced means of interrogation. This was just foreplay. He noted at one point that a small pool of blood had formed at the foot of the first agent’s left leg, where he had earlier impaled the paring knife. He lauded the agent for his testicular fortitude in withstanding the blade embedded into his thigh for so long.

“I’d offer to remove it, son, but then you might bleed out. Here, have one of these…” and Mueller stuffed one of the mescaline tablets down the agent’s throat. When the man began to choke Mueller doused him with El Toro to clear the obstruction. For good measure he poured a little more around the edges of the knife blade. “We’d better keep that sterilized at least, don’t you think?” The agent was a tough nut, only wincing at the abuse.

Agent Mueller stepped away from the table for a few minutes then and paced the floor. He scooped up a couple more hits of flake and popped the seal off of the second bottle of tequila. A man already obsessed with his quarry, this modern-day Captain Ahab was now transcending into entirely new realms of mania. The obsession, with the aid of liberal consumption of narcotics and hallucinogens, had blossomed into a full-blown psychotic episode. The first lesson of life within the beltway is that you must embrace the madness or you shall perish. The second lesson is that once you are on the inside the only way to survive outside of the beltway is to bring the madness with you.

For hours long into the night and past the dawn Agent Mueller toyed with his prey. He had the pair of goons posted outside of the shack haul the first agent outside, still in his chair, to allow him to interrogate them separately to probe for inconsistencies. With each dead-end a lesser man would have begun to hear the voice of pessimism whispering from the darker corners of his mind, but not Bob Mueller. At every impasse the mania grew, with more coke, more tequila and when the edge began to wear off an occasional “popper” from the brown paper sack. As the full orb of the sun raised above the east horizon Agent Mueller had exhausted his tricks. He broke from his toils to step outside and take a few breaths of fresh air. Yes, a few precious breaths of air before taking the final dive. There was only one thing left.

Agent number one had been outside for several hours, propped next to the command SUV where the goons kept watch from the comfort of heavily padded leather seats. Agent Mueller waved at them and signaled for them to bring the man back inside the shack. The muscled suits quickly obliged and as they raised the chair Mueller asked if they had seen Jimmy Boy. As they headed toward the shack they motioned in unison with a jerk of their heads in the direction of the vehicle. Mueller nodded his recognition and as the two passed him he strolled out to retrieve his understudy.

“Wake up, Jimmy Boy! It’s time.”

Jimmy snapped awake, muttering “Hail Mary, mother of grace…”

“Yeah, yeah….c’mon, buddy boy, we’re past all that now. Time to finish this!”

There they were, two legendary lawmen taking that final ride into the sunset. That lonesome harmonica would soon cue the closing theme and the credits would begin to roll. Back inside the shack the goons were dismissed and Jimmy Boy donned the red satin robes of the inquisition he had packed for the occasion. It was time for the final act.

Agent Mueller administered the pentathol, recalling some of the field combat skills he’d earned from Nam. It was performed by muscle memory, in his mind Mueller had already metamorphosed into the avenging Archangel wielding not a syringe, but the flaming sword of justice. Though still physically present in this realm he now existed within an entirely separate plane. His corpus stumbled from the table and collapsed upon a sofa from where he would sit and pour more coke and tequila into it as he watched Jimmy Boy perform. Before his eyes there played out an epic contest between angels and demons, the howls of a humanity wailing for salvation rose in a chorus for his ears only.

The serum, always reliable, was fast acting. Jimmy Boy relished the role of confessor; the red robes, the whip in his hand, it was all he could do to conceal his arousal.

“What Russians were present at the president’s meeting on March 4, 2017? What were their names?What deals were made? Confess, damn you! Confess!”

One agent wept, blubbering some childhood memory of his first dog being put to sleep. The other confessed to some rather embarrassing sexual fetishes. Undeterred, Jimmy pressed on.

“Who were the Russian prostitutes in Taormina, Sicily on the night of May 26, 2017? We know that Russian agents were present at the summit. Where and when did the president meet with these agents? Confess, confess, CONFESS!!!”

It was relentless, the flailing whip, the incessant badgering. Jimmy Boy was in the full throes of a righteous fervor, the instrument of the vengeful angel seated just a few feet away. Hours upon hours passed. Fabric had been ripped away, rending cruel tears at the tip of the whip into the flesh beneath. Blood spatter had rained throughout the shack and growing desperate exhortations to confess became feeble croaks as he grew hoarse from the prolonged effort. Outside the sun had passed over the sky and prepared to fall into the mountain range to the west. And nothing but gibberish had spilled from the mouths of their captives. As this day drew to a close, as reluctant as they were to admit it, it appeared that this gambit would yield nothing. Maybe Mindanao wouldn’t be so bad.

“Jim. Jimmy….JIM! For Christ’s sake! Stop before you hurt yourself. Sit down! Have a drink.”

Jimmy Boy exited the trance he had fallen under, dazed and suddenly unsteady on his feet. He turned to Mueller. “ But boss! I almost got ‘em!”

“No, Jimmy. You don’t. We don’t have shit!”

This hit Jimmy Boy with a wallop. The stunned and incredulous look upon his face slowly melting into another face. The face of fear, sudden panic, like realizing you’ve stepped off the ledge of the 44th floor. He suddenly grew dizzy.

“Sit down Jimmy. It’s over, take a load off. It’ll be dark soon, we’ll clean this up and…”

“And what, boss? What do we do next? Do I have to leave for Mindanao already?”

“No Jimmy. Not yet. We have a few more things to take care of first. Come on over here and sit down, will you?” There was that stupid dog face again. Damn it! He was going to make this difficult! Jimmy Boy came over and undraped the hood of his Cardinal’s robes to reveal a mat of sweat soaked hair plastered against his scalp as he took his place next to Agent Mueller. That eager and trusting gleam shone in his eyes. Once seated Mueller clapped Jimmy on the leg and offered a curt but reassuring nod.

Then he rose from the sofa and stooped down to the black bag, still resting opened on the floor. He reached a zipper on a side pocket of the bag and pulled it open. Inside of this pocket was a 9mm Glock (one of his personal firearms) with a fully loaded clip. Mueller reached in and found the safety, switched it off and then pulled the pistol out of it’s hiding place.

The two agents had been whipped into unconsciousness, blissfully unaware of the their fates. Agent Mueller leveled the weapon first at the head of one and then the other and pulled the trigger, leaving seamless holes in the middle of each of their foreheads and brain matter with blood showered upon the floors and walls behind them. Jimmy Boy was stunned.

“Was that actually necessary boss?”

Mueller turned, looking thoughtful, perhaps reconsidering. “Yes, Jimmy my boy, I’m afraid it was. Don’t worry about it.” He turned back again to take a final look at his handiwork before snatching another Cuban from the table, Glock still in hand, and resuming his seat on the sofa. “You know Jimmy, I never meant for it to go like this.”

“I’m sorry, boss. It’s my fault, I know. I just….I….”

“It’s okay, Jimmy. Look, you deserve to know the whole truth now.”

“What? What truth? I don’t understand…”

“Jimmy do you have any idea who we really work for?”

“Well, for the American people, of course!”

Agent Mueller chuckled. “Ahh Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy….ha ha! That’s what I used to think too. But no, that’s not it. No Jimmy, the real truth is that we work for the Bell and Howell Corporation. They’ve been running this country ever since the moon landing. Surprised?”

“Uh….Really? Bell and Howell? Those late night infomercial people?”

“That’s right Jimmy. Flashlights, lanterns, sunglasses….it’s all bull shit. Those aren’t really commercials at all. They are secret encrypted communications to the operatives. Hide in plain sight, you know the drill!”

“But…”

Agent Mueller held up the Glock and turned the grip sideways to display the end of it. “This is the butt…”, then turning the gun over pointed the barrel at Jimmy Boy’s forehead, “…and this is the barrel.”

He pulled the trigger and fired. Mueller lit his cigar, wiped down his weapon, gathered the rest of his goodies from the table and placed them all back inside the black bag. It was time to go.

It’s not certain what happened to Agent Mueller. Some say he just staggered off somewhere into the Nevada desert where he still wanders aimlessly today. There were some rumors that he had opted for radical cosmetic surgery, assumed a new identity and emigrated to New Zealand where he developed a patent for a noise canceling toilet bowl. None of this has ever been confirmed. This humble correspondent will remain on this story until all of the bodies have been recovered.


Ford Wenty report end 21 April 2018