The Day the Dollar Died (Part XXI)
XXI. Burning Fields of Cotton
Filed under: The Day The Dollar Died Series
by John Galt
February 19, 2010
One more time, for the newbies and forgetful (wink)…the following is FICTION……..
February 27, 2010 07:01 A.M. Central Time, West Memphis, AR
Bill was still stirring his sugar into his coffee, staring at Mike and wondering what was on his mind. “Mike,” he began, “are you okay? You have been sitting there stewing around and staring into space for ten minutes now. Do I need to get you a doctor? I know it was a long trip, hell, none of us got any sleep the last twenty-four hours, especially when we pulled out of the Davenport pig plant.” Mike looked surprised and snapped the creamer out of the bowl on the table and started pouring it into his cup as he spoke in a low tone of voice, “Pork plant, huh, so why did us Minnesota boys get stuck with dry loads and have to leave our personal reefer equipment here for two weeks? Are you unloaded already Bill?” Bill was not sure what was going on so he bent over and spoke in a whisper to Mike, “Are you on the list Mike? We were told that some drivers were suspected of helping the terrorists. They attempted to round up as many as they could and move them to one location.” Mike finished stirring his coffee, took a long deep sip of the hot java and looked up at his old pal, “Bill, if I’m on a list, it’s because I was in the services. I have done nothing to this government. So are you thinking that is why they are not unloading my trailer for two weeks? To hold me hostage or supervise me?”
Bill leaned back in his seat, looked over both of his shoulders then leaned across, whispering to his old pal, “Mike, if I were you I would watch my tongue. Three members of the convoy did not make it. They removed them from the line back near Rockford and told everyone it was a mechanical issue. They have not been seen since the Home Guard forced them off towards Chicago.” Mike let out a belly laugh stunning his friend and began to almost berate him, “Bill, you old fool! They sold the loads! Those drivers are probably more than happy to just get out of their alive, if they did. You have a bunch of thugs in Strykers and Humvees threatening to play some bad music with their toys on your butt and telling you what to do, what do you think they did? The Guard got a higher bid. Heck, I was waiting to be ordered off into East Saint Louis to be honest with you but they put a junior goon patrol on my truck to make sure I quit jabbering on the radio.” Bill look horrified as to what he was hearing. “You mean to tell me,” Bill began when Mike interrupted. “Yes, this is a private army of the government, not the one you and I participated in my friend. This is a group of entreprefreakingneurs! They know that this charade could end at any moment,” Mike paused as a guard walked by and sipped some coffee then continued in a low tone of voice, “they know this gig is up soon. Either the American people rise up or fold up. We’ll know by the end of next week, watch and see.” Bill looked around, nodded his head and then gave Mike the information he was looking for. “Mike, you need to accept the new reality. Everyone is for sale or fighting some how, some way. What you saw up by your house with the attempted hijacking could have just as easily been Home Guard troops parading as contractors for the government doing some side business while the confusion reigned. You can’t trust anyone but your dear friends and I would be disappointed in you if you trusted me right now, unless of course you had a gun pointed at me and then I would say it is business as usual.”
Mike’s face turned a little pale. He now knew that if his friend Bill was compromised that he would use his last dying breath to pay him back. On the off chance that happened, he knew he would never see his beloved wife ever again, nor be able to explain to her that the horrors he has witnessed of war overseas were minor compared to what he has endured during the past week here, in his own country, because the people in charge assured the common folks that this could or would never happen here, ever. Mike sipped some more coffee and the color returned to his face as he put the cup down and began to speak, “Bill, we have known each other since Thailand. At the bars in Manila and that incident in San Diego. If you have an honorable path we can take, I want to know about it and right now. No bull, no games, no riddles. I want answers or our friendship could end before you hit the floor.” Bill smiled and then he let out a gregarious laugh, banged the table and laughed some more, “You remember that chick in Diego! Hilarious, I can’t believe you remember it!” As he laughed some more he slid a napkin over to Mike while everyone turned and looked then smiled at them both figuring they were drunk or coming off of a speedball high from the overnight drive. Mike acted as if he wiped the napkin on his mouth, faked blowing his nose into it and then threw a napkin on his lap crumpled up on to the floor, sticking Bill’s into his pocket. “Let’s go clown. We ain’t finding no trouble here tonight,” Mike said as they chugged the last of the coffee, “I’ll be the guards grabbed all the good lizards for themselves.” As he finished that sentence he winked at his shotgun rider who was nervously looking around the room and puzzled at the comment. As Mike and Bill went out to their trucks to grab a nap, the young PFC ran to their table and opened up the napkin, only to be grossed out by the nasty coffee laden leftovers Mike had wiped off of his mouth. “This spying stuff is stupid,” PFC Andrews muttered in disgust, throwing the napkin back on to the floor. He then looked over at his Sergeant across the room nodding his head in a negative fashion so as to indicate it was nothing. Little did they know that a napkin just might change history, or so the two truck drivers thought.
As if the world had begun to shake again, a loud mouthed nobody was knocking on the door of Mike’s sleeper trying to either anger him further due to a lack of sleep or ready to start something new and unanticipated. Mike stumbled up into the driver’s seat to see a new Home Guard officer, some clown he had never seen before tapping his pistol on Mike’s door yelling, “Sir, we know you’re in there please wake up.” Mike rolled the window down and yelled out, “If you scratched the paint your sorry tail will be out here fixing that before I leave whoever the hell you are.” The soldier took a step back, took a deep breath and started his assigned speech, “Sir, we have noticed that you have signed up for the voluntary distribution delivery runs. The first run is in one hour. Have you had sufficient rest to begin helping us sir? I also apologize for using the butt of my pistol on your door sir, please accept my apologies.” Mike wiped the sleep from his eyes, looked down and said, “What time is it son?” The soldier snapped his watch up and replied, “1400 Central Time sir, Saturday February Twenty-Seventh, Two Thousand and Ten, Sir.” Mike was impressed. This was not a clown like Andrews and no jerk like the officer. “Son, I’m going to shower up and get some coffee, six hours of sleep will be enough to get me through eight hours of local deliveries or does the curfew apply to drivers too?” The soldier looked impressed, realizing that Mike knew the restrictions under martial law. “Sir,” he began after snapping to attention, “drivers with the special banner on their trailers and tractors are excused from curfew. Tonight’s colors will be issued with the trailer and delivery assignment. We would like everyone back at the truck stop by twenty-three hundred though sir.” Mike nodded and offered an honest salute to the kid then reached into his sleeper to gather his kit and go clean up.
The hot water was s surprise to Mike as he showered and after cleaning up and getting ready he walked over to the make shift duty assignment area set up in the old load assignment and phone room of the truck stop. “Mr. Elmendorff, we appreciate your help. We have an old forty-five foot trailer loaded with baked goods to head towards Collierville, Germantown and a few more points east. You should be done and back by twenty-one hundred we figure and assistance will be waiting on you there.” Mike signed out for the load, grabbed the manifest, delivery information and as he was studying the map packets provided to him with delivery instructions his old pal showed up. “So they finally woke you up eh dead man? What took you so long to shave, your legs needed a bladed too?”, Bill was cutting it up too much and Mike felt obligated to answer. “Son, you could lop that head off with a machete and only your wife would notice the improvement. I’ll meet you outside at pre-trip after I hook up to the trailer and put my colors on.”
Mike hung the orange and blue banners on his air dam, bumper, plus the rear of the trailer. The Home Guard was busy putting it on the roof with precision so it would not blow off and insure that any helicopters would know this was a local run for the area. “Thank you fellas,” Mike yelled out to the two privates who nodded and went over to Bill’s trailer to do the same. Mike noticed this trailer looked like hell, an old Winn-Dixie trailer apparently procured via government edict which needed tire work desperately but at this point in time, it did not matter. Bill yelled out to Mike over the din of the engines of the truck, “So which run did you get?” Mike yelled back, “East side, I get to go tot he high rent district.” Bill yelled back to him, “Meet you in Collierville for dinner if our guards will give us twenty minutes. I know a great place there.”
As Mike started hitting the various Home Guard resupply points in schools and hospitals he noticed a pattern. Many grocery stores were boarded up, until he started pulling into the stops in the wealthier districts. “I thought this was Armageddon,” he thought to himself, “how is everything so normal here but hell in the big cities?” As he saw Bill pulling into the parking lot of the empty WalMart Supercenter off Poplar, apparently closing at five at night so the truckers could unload, he hopped out to talk to his friend. “After this stop old buddy?”, he asked innocently enough. “Supper is definitely south of hear you old coot,” Bill replied. The guards who watched them back in and unload their trucks did not pay any attention to all of the driver’s chit chat that was underway, but the drivers realized that speaking nonsense was the only way to go. After they dropped off their goods there, Mike pulled out slammed the doors on the old trailer shut and locked it. Bill knew he was upset. Bill also knew what to do next and just nodded at Mike as if to acknowledge that the big lie could not continue. As they pulled out of the guard center, Mike looked at his manifest, then folded it up and put it on the passenger seat. Mike and Bill headed east as normal then turned right on Mt. Pleasant and headed south to U.S. Highway Seventy-Two. It was their turn to stick it to the man.
Before they went much further, they noticed two Federal Express drivers sitting off on the side of the road just off US Highway Seventy-Two and Russell Road. They stopped the trucks, and Bill went over to stir up a conversation while Mike went to the front of both rigs, out of sight and tore the magnetic transponders off of the rigs. While Bill was talking away spinning tales of their adventures and yucking it up with the two local drivers, Mike stuck the transponders under the rear of both of their trucks, knowing full well that would only buy them hours, not the days they needed to run. As Bill continued his tales, Mike yanked the wires out of both truck’s Qualcomm antennas under the air dams and then walked towards the Fed Ex trucks as the sun was just beginning to set. “Yo, Bill, you old coot, quit spinning lies to these locals,” Mike yelled out acting as if he was buckling his belt and zipping up his pants, “we have ten more deliveries by ten you clown.” Bill said his good-byes to the local drivers then nodded at Mike as he said, “Let’s hit it.”
They both pulled onto the old U.S. Highway and sped up to the maximum legal speed to get to Mississippi while it was still light enough for the panels to be obvious. The one Home Guard outpost had a soldier outside but when he spotted the panels, he waved them through and both drivers waved back in a friendly enough manner. The road to Mississippi was easy, the next drive would be the road to the end of the new system for both of them. Mike yelled out on the C.B. per their pre-arranged discussion, “Follow me.” That was all that need to be said, Bill flashed his lights and they diverted East, out to Highway Four. They stopped in the middle of the small town of Jumpertown, Mississippi and started to crank down the banners off of Bill’s trailer. Bill removed the lock and Mike grabbed the orange spray paint can and plastered on the rear doors and one side of the rig, “FREE FOOD FOR THE POOR” which created a stir inside the church they selected. An elderly black reverend came out yelling away, “No trouble sir, no trouble, Oh God sir, please, no trouble.” Bill looked at him and sneered, “Your town can starve for a few days or eat. But this trailer is here for the duration.” With that statement Bill took a large hunting knife out from under his coat and punctured the outside tires on the trailer causing it to sink. “Now feed these people reverend and just let us do what we need to do.” Mike folded the banners up in his side box after removing them from his rig also. Bill said to him, “You do have a plan, right?” Mike nodded and they hopped back into their rigs, this time speeding up to seventy miles per hour plus to get as far away from the Memphis circus as they could. The sharp turn on to U.S. Highway Forty-Five southbound made Bill smile. He grabbed the C.B. mike and yelled out, “Cotton time baby, I love what you are thinking!” Bill gave him a quick 10-4 on the radio and then yelled on the air, “Shut up until we stop.”
Mike wheeled his rig into the small town of Baldwyn, Mississippi, knowing full well the banners being gone might have just saved them from being attacked or hijacked on these dark country roads. Having had a friend from this little poor town gave him the confidence to know that his choice of a church would insure the food would get distributed quickly and to those who needed it. The First Baptist Church parking lot was empty and that worried Mike as he thought there would be tents or homeless shelters set up by now, then again, he did not have time to worry about that now. Bill went about puncturing the tires as Mike spray painted the “Free Food for the Poor” signs on the sides and back until the spray can was empty. Bill reached into his truck and hung an American flag upside down on the front of the reefer unit and then said, “Let’s run like hell now.” A world of hurt is heading for our families and we had best warn them. You still got that phone code?” Mike nodded yes and then said, “Let me call Sally first.” As Mike punched the long code into the phone the ringing sound reassured him greatly. Sally screamed into the phone, “YOU’RE SAFE! MIKE THIS IS YOU ISN’T IT?” Mike smiled at Bill then replied, “Yes it’s me honey. Do as I say. Get everything and head to Jack’s house in the morning. Some very pissed off people will be heading to the farm soon. Next, burn your D-Card. You can’t be tracked. I’m heading out to help Sherman burn Atlanta again.” Sally was on the other end, knowing full well what that was code for. “God, I love you you old coot. Come home safely, please.” Mike wiped a tear out of his eye, “I’ll try sweetie, I love you to. See you on the flip side.” Mike immediately turned the phone off, removed the battery, then waited a second before handing it over to Bill. “Here’s the code,” Mike said, “it won’t be any good after tonight and don’t tell your wife too much other than to run.” Bill looked at him concerned about that statement, “You think they’ll retaliate against the families?” Mike nodded and shook his head, almost ashamed while he clinched his fist, “I guarantee it.” Bill then put the battery in the phone and made the call finishing the sentence with his wife by saying, “The kids will love the cabin life. Just get plenty of food and water first. I love you all.”
Mike and Bill then put the hammer down, blowing through town after town, avoiding major intersections and noticing a haunting lack of people in many of the small towns they went through. Bill grabbed the radio just north of Greenwood to ask the big question, “Are we heading to the big CITY old buddy?” Mike grabbed his mike and replied, move four up, then up again.” Bill re-tuned his C.B. from channel thirty-four on the A.M. band to channel thirty-eight upper sideband, “Big Duck, you here?” Mike answered back, “We are going to the big city, but one of these rigs is going to have a fire problem, ten four?” Bill knew what that meant and acknowledged what he said. They pulled into Yazoo City just after five in the morning and headed out northwest to see their old friends. There is when the lack of notification became an issue.
The passenger side window on Mike’s truck exploded with violence as the bullet penetrated the rig and exited out through the sleeper. Mike knew that this turn on to Lake City Road then off on to a dirt road where his friend from the rice paddy days lived would be dangerous. But this was not the greeting he, nor Bill, ever expected. He slammed the brakes on to his rig, sliding slightly off kilter then turned the blinkers on and killed the headlights. He started to scan the C.B. for any communications but nothing was heard until a tap on this door where Mike was staring down the barrel of an AR-15. Mike put his hands up in the air and turned the inside light on so as to indicate he was not a threat. The gunman opened the door and yelled out, “Step out slowly, where we can see the hands.” Mike complied and as he had both hands on the door and the rail on the side, he said slowly and clearly, “I know Tim trained you now. That dog would never miss a trick.” The gunman did not relax though. “Tim is dead, we’re in charge now. We own this territory and you and no Home Guard jerks are going to steal anything from us.” Mike was horrified and was worried that if Bill heard that news he would do something stupid, but as they were escorted at gunpoint up the muddy dirt road towards an old farm house they realized that something just was not right. When they reached the farm house, they would soon find out just how insane the world had become.
“So we have two more clowns bringing the government to our doorstep,” the voice in the dark began, “and you think we couldn’t see you coming as you headed out from town? You’re lucky we didn’t blow the hell out of you!” Then a flashlight lantern was turned on and another voice began, “Mike, if you brought the Guard out here, I’ll shoot you myself. We have enough problems without more yahoos coming in here thinking they are better cowboys than us.” Mike stunned the guards when he replied defiantly, “Well you still post your crappiest boys as sentries and I could have parked this rig up your rear if I wanted to. Who the heck could possibly miss a big fat nasty jerk like me, even in the dark? And you owe me a windshield you slime ball.” Tim stepped out into the light, “I should shoot you myself. But then what the hell would I do without my A-Team coming home. What brings you down here?” Tim walked up, hugged Mike and then noticed Bill a few feet behind him and then said, “And why would you bring the guy who burns up barrels with you?” Bill busted out laughing while the soldiers around them were looking around bewildered, “You dog, I thought you learned your lesson in Cambodia. You still put the crappiest piles up front and leave the hard work to us old farts.” Tim ordered his men to stand down and then listened to Mike and Bill’s story, learning what they did and why they came here. “You did well to leave those poor FedEx bastards with the transponders. They will be interrogated for days now. So which rig do we drive up the road and burn? I say yours Mike since we shot it up already. We can make it look like an ambush and leave them wandering around for a day or two.” Mike nodded in agreement and told Bill, “You know we’re repainting your rig sissy yellow now, right?” Bill looked upset at the thought but then Tim, the apparent commander here told it like it is, “Actually it will be green, like the Home Guard colors with the emblem and all. Meet Colonel Al Fullbright of the Mississippi National Guard. He’s taking care of logistics and intelligence. Bill, we’ll need you and your truck to take care of the bridge at Vicksburg and don’t worry, it is not a suicide mission.” Bill nodded and looked at Mike to say, “Well, back to being foot soldiers after all these years as truckers.”
Mike went back outside with Tim and reminded him that sunrise was soon. “Don’t worry Mike,” Tim began, I have a great idea.” Tim hopped into the an old CJ-5 with two of his troopers, and told Mike to follow him. They took his truck up the highway to the intersection of 49W and 14 just north of Louise. Mike took all of the belongings out of the truck and then Tim instructed the soldiers under his command to siphon out all of the diesel from the tanks that they could. After filling up six Jerry cans and getting Mike’s radio out and remaining gear, they proceeded to shoot the vehicle up concentrating on the driver’s door. One of the soldiers then opened the driver’s side door, grabbed a rabbit out of a bat and shot it, squirting blood all over the dash, seat and door. He then put the rabbit back into a Ziploc bag to clean it for eating later commenting, “Well, let’s hope these clowns don’t taste the blood, otherwise this was for nothing.” Tim ordered the men into the CJ-5 and they sped into a cotton field doing donuts to create a huge mess of tracks to confuse anyone who followed. As they pulled the old Jeep on to the highway again, the soldiers piled out with Mike and following Tim’s lead, spread the diesel from five of the cans on to the cotton field. They finished dumping it everywhere they could, spreading it wide then setting it on fire. “That should give them something to follow, play with and scratch their heads,” Tim said, “let’s plant three and let them flounder for a day out here while we set up the next battle. Set three and hit the Jeep boys.” The three soldiers grabbed some old mines out of their bags, ran to key positions fifty to one hundred yards from the shot up big rig and set the mines far enough away from the fires to insure they would not be noticed. “Mike, we’ve gotten good at these long distance ambushes. I figure they will retaliate with the big stuff soon though,” Tim said. Mike shook his exhausted head and replied, “Yeah, but burning fields of cotton and blowing up traitors is where we are at as a nation. The question is old buddy, will we see more help, or just perish under their boots?”
The men finished their work and ran back to the Jeep giving the wind up sign. The men piled in, and the old CJ-5 strained under the load but got them back to Lake City without a problem. The battle plans were already being laid out by the National Guard Colonel and Tim before Mike and Bill arrived. Their rigs gave them the edge they needed though to hopefully tip the rest of the Southeast into the camp of rebellion against a government acting illegally. The next twenty-four to thirty-six hours though would settle the destiny of the United States, at least south of Kentucky, forever.