Sunday, December 27, 2009

Anvils, revisited.

Here is the final version of the story I posted in "For My Next Trick, Anvils" post. Thanks to Sigboy for all the help!

"You sure you want to do this?" Keith asked me. I nodded, more to myself than to him.

"Don't see any other way, to be honest."

He sighed, like an older brother watching his brother do something he didn't think was the brightest idea in the world. Leaning on the hood of his pickup, he stretched his shoulders a bit. My only gun and only holster were already hanging off my hip, and I was leaning against my idling Civic. The women were inside with a few other trusted friends, getting things ready for what looked like a long, rough haul. All those little things we put away for a rainy day got dusted off and dragged out of safes and closets.

"You're going whether or not I come, aren't you?"


He stared at me another moment as I loaded three speedloaders of .357 and dumped them in my left pocket. I could damn near hear the scales creak in his mind as he weighed everything out.

"Suppose you want help, too."

"Wouldn't mind it, homes," I said with a shrug. I had already made up my mind. I was going.

"She want to be rescued?"

I answered with a shrug.

"She didn't exactly ask for help, per se..."

Another sigh. He stared at the hood a moment. I flashed a cocky grin. I already knew the answer, before he reached for his Sig, made sure he had a round chambered.

"Alright, let's go save the girl who isn't your girl."


The streets were choked with cars heading the other direction. We could see black pillars of smoke rising into the sky. The first day the power had been out, nothing happened. The second, day, nothing. Third day, all hell had broken loose. The big Smith dangled in my hand as we drove past people running, screaming. I saw a coupla people who looked like they were sleeping, but it hardly seemed that they were napping in the middle of a suburb being looted. It all flashed by as we broke speed limits heading against the traffic. I felt a lot better about riding to the rescue with his truck compared to my little Civic.

"Call her."

I nodded, dialed her number. My thumb shook a little, not from heading towards what was at best rioting and chaos. Her phone rung and rung, and I prayed my cell battery held out.


"Hey Jess, you alright? Still at home?"

"Yeah, I'm scared. They're lighting fires-"

"I'll be there in twenty, pack your bags."

"Alright, how-"

"Cell's going, I'll see you in twenty, Jess."

I hung up on her. I needed the battery to last as long as it could. I looked at Keith, but he was unreadable behind his Oakleys. I looked down at the 870 between my legs, holstered up the .357.

"What do you think, man?"

"This is dumb. Your girlfriend would kill us if she had any idea what you were doing."

"So? Never stopped us before."

"Yeah, I got the door, don't worry about it."

He lapsed into a stern silence. He didn't like coming along for this adventure- I could understand that. A wife and kids makes a man rethink that nonsense. But I was young enough to believe in it yet. He flipped on a CD, and I heard the beats pound. I grinned, thumbed shells into the shotgun- his competition gun, on loan just in case things went bad. Fat red three-inchers, all 0000. I heard the lyrics, smiled. He didn't. Nope, he was pumping himself up, drawing out that bit of him that wanted to murder rapists. That wanted mayhem. That wanted to be the righteous, gauntleted fist of justice.

"Forged in the fire lit long ago, stand next to me, you'll never stand alone!
I'm last to leave, but the first to go
Lord, make me dead before you make me old!
I feed on the fear from the devil inside..."

Oh, I was definitely nerved up. I could feel my heart beating faster, that seductive strength that adrenaline gives you. Keith's loaner shotty was appreciated, I'll give him that. But the song was worth of a dozen of them. I felt my heart beat faster, head nodding to the lyrics.

"Right at the lights," I said, seeing a familiar intersection.

"Not that we have much choice. Look about two blocks down."

I squinted, trying to see past the bumper to bumper cars. Just barely above the roof of a Windstar I saw the first lick of flame rising, then a puff of oily black smoke. A Third World roadblock. Great. He made the turn, dodging a stalled Prius. The windows were broke.

We pulled up in the parking lot of Jess's building. It was one of those apartments above a set of stores, overlooking the street. There were actually five or six apartments in the building, none of them particularly nice but particularly affordable to young folk who didn't mind the odd shady customer, the odd loud noise in the dead of night. Semi-gentrified, she called it. Better than the barrio, worse than your average place. There were only a couple of other cars in the lot, all smashed except two. The door was closed, didn't look to be damaged. We both scanned the lot as we picked a spot close to the door. He turned off the engine, took a deep breath.

"Destiny has brought us together, I wonder where fate will lead us?" Keith finally said, after a pause.

"Way to gay up some thrilling heroics, yo," I responded, my voice a little choked. We bumped fists, coming out of the car on the bounce. I scanned the area behind the strip, Keith the area we came from.

"Hey," he said, still watching his zone with his gun at the low ready, "get the kit out of the bed."

I dropped the gate, saw what he meant. There was an AR and two H-harnesses. I dragged it close to us, tapped him on the shoulder.

"Nice," I said as he turned away from the street, "Expecting a small war?"

He turned around, grabbed the rifle and the webbing with the mag pouches, slinging it on with practiced ease as I stood watch. Then, he charged the bolt, and let me struggle into my rig. Well, his rig. I had worn it shooting a couple of times, felt the weight settle onto my hips.

"Alright," he said, "Let's do this."

We took up positions on either side of the door, backs to the wall. It didn't seem like anyone was paying attention to us, which was nice. I took a deep breath as soon as he put his hand on the knob, looking at me for the cue for him to open it. I nodded, and he heaved it open. It was dark in there, with the power out. The only light came from a window up two flights of stairs, filtering down an off yellow dimness we could just barely see by. As soon as we burst in, I hear a door next to us slam shut. Keith flicked his muzzle towards it, but we heard the bolt slam home before he got there. We heard something else, too.

“Open up, bitch!” someone called mockingly from above. We started up the stairs quietly, listening. I flinched when I heard the first thump of impact, flesh on wood. Muffled female voice.

“We're gonna get in sometime, Jess!”

And after that, I don't remember much of what happened. Looking back in the car, I broke into a run. I came up, and saw two guys, big tattooed white guys with an axe and a baseball bat. The axe was up to the eye in Jess's door, the bearded idiot grinning with malicious glee. It was simple, just like the drills. I lined them up over the bright green front sight, and squeezed the trigger mechanically. One, rack, two, rack, three, rack, four, rack, scan. There was a ringing sound, and I heard Keith shout behind me.

“Room clear!”

Numbly, I got into position on the far side of Jess's door.

“Jess, it's Des!”



I heard the clink of the chain, a little dragging noise, and then the deadbolt. The door opened a crack, and there she was. Long purple hair pulled back into a ponytail, pale skin stained with smeared mascara. Brown eyes, tears, beauty silhouetted between the door and the axe handle. Keith glanced at her, then at me. A smile ghosted across his face, and he turned to cover the hall. I smiled at her, and she opened the door some more. I walked in, shaking a little. I had never been in her new apartment- it was all thick paint, small pictures, bright and cheery. I smiled at her awkwardly, stepping carefully in blood-spattered boots.

I scanned the apartment, saw a tuft of black hair on the other side. The shotgun came up again, and Jess yelped.

“Hands on your head! Come out where I can see you!”

A raggedy man...boy...thing emerged from the kitchen, black bangs obscuring half his face. He trembled as he stood where he was, hands in the air.

“Des! That's Aaron!” she said to me, like I should know who he is. I imagine I looked pretty weird- a high school friend in a Team Realtree hat, World of Warcraft t-shirt, cargos and H-rig holding her boyfriend or whatever at gunpoint and rapidly turning red to boot. I lowered the shotgun, tried to look busy pulling shells from the rig and topping up the tube. I didn't look up.

“Keith's outside, ready to go. Got your stuff, Jess?”

“But Aaron...”

“He can come with.”


“But we need to get moving.”

She sighed, rolled her eyes, went around back. I saw her cross my line of sight, and looked up. Aaron was leaning on her counter, looking at the floor.

“I don't have much...”

“Shut up.”

I walked over and halfheartedly covered the door for a few minutes while Jess grabbed her bag.

“Ready,” she announced, clearly a little unhappy with the situation. I looked back over my shoulder at her. She had an old knapsack over one shoulder, tight jeans and a baggy Misfits shirt on. Hardly what you're call practical, but I gave her half a smile anyways. Aaron stood off to the side, head down and hands jammed in pockets.

“Three comin' down.”

“Gotcha, come on down.”

It was just like drills, like I said. I didn't look down, just stepped over the bodies, covered the hall. Aaron apparently turned pale and ran down the stairs, while Jess retched. Not just retched, threw up violently at the sight of the two men who had probably wanted to rob and rape her. Buckshot does nasty stuff to a man, yeah. But it wasn't anything they didn't deserve. She still didn't need to see it.

“C'mon, keep moving!” Keith called from the bottom of the stairs, never taking his eyes off of his irons. I didn't even have to look. Me and Keith go way back, seen a lot of combat classes and competitive shooting together. Hell, you might as well say he's the one who got me into three-gun. I pulled back down the stairs in good order, looked at him briefly.

“Alright, let's go home.”

“You're gonna have a hell of a time 'splaining this one, man. I mean, I can see why you did it, she's gorgeous...”

“Don't I know it. Take Jess in the cab, I'm play trunk monkey with Captain Douchebag there.”

He nodded, and I covered the street as he walked back over to his truck, swung into the driver's seat and opened the door for her.

“ Brooks and Dunn?” I heard him rumble as I slung myself into the bed. I sat there a moment, fishing around before finding what I was looking for. The Wiley X sunglasses slid on easily. I turned to see Aaron just standing there, hands in pockets, not moving.

“Comin' or not?” I barked, with probably a little too much anger.

“Is that safe?”

“Hey, if you want to take your chances explaining those two bodies to the cops, or better yet, their hombres, be my guest.”

His eyes widened, and he scrambled inside, sitting close to the cab. I laid the shotgun across my lap, muzzle to the aft. I slapped the side of the truck twice, and wondered what in the hell I had been thinking riding the rescue of a girl who didn't see me as more than a passing acquaintance. I kept my eyes on the road behind us the rest of the way home, and tried not to think about it, or the girl in the cab.

It had worked a coupla years before, but like Georgia...she had always been on my mind. And I couldn't just leave her there, could I?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, or 'Why won't the bleeding stop?'

So, Merry Christmas. I'm taking the opportunity before I head over to the woman's to post this.

It was a Merry Christmas here at the Deschain household. Much beer was drunk. We watched The Hangover as a family (a very poor idea, may I note). I got some decent swag- new clothes, so good Scotch, a new water bottle, Battlestar Galactica: The Plan, and the real king here, a safety razor plus all accessories.

Now, normally I rock the hobo-student beard to fit in better amongst the unwashed masses at school. It's kind of a moot thing, really- the cargos and shined boots tend to give me away as a practical-minded evildoer. So, now that I have a proper razor, I think I'll rock the smooth face now.

Well, if I stop bleeding in the next twenty minutes. Otherwise, it might be a trip to Slab City for me.

The safety razor is an interesting little piece of history. Your father probably had one. Well, no. Probably your grandfather- they were first widely produced for World War One. They're the first innovation in shaving after the straight razor, so 'safety' is really a comparative term- they're considered much safer than using a monstrously sharp open blade and hoping the wife doesn't nudge you or something. That said, these blades hearken back to an age where shaving was still a proper art form, where a shave was expected to take a full five minutes and last you all day. You get a savagely close shave with them that lasts all day, which is more than I can say about the 3 o'clock shadow you get from disposables. It's one of those quaint old pieces of technology that I actually like to use.

Of course, I also managed to shave off some razor bumps, so I'm bleeding an awful lot. Might need more practice.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ivory Towers

Over the last coupla years, I've had a real hate-on for educational institutions. I went to university for a year before I realized I was paying tens of thousands of dollars for something with no real application whatsoever. The professors all (and even in college, too) had a sense of elitism around them. Questions were sneered down at. Dare question what you're being taught, and expect to lose a significant number of marks (again, this has been my personal experience this year). I've always hated dealing with academic institutions, not only for their snobbery and the reasons above, but because they think they're doing you a favour by taking your money to subject you to these people.

In what is now my fourth year of post-secondary education (I have a two-year Law and Security Administration diploma, thank God), I have seen but one professor who inspired me to learn, to apply my critical thinking skills. Dr. Micheal Persinger actually made school...enjoyable. I looked forward to his classes, instead of looking forward with a grim and sardonic attitude like I do now.

With all these experiences, I've had a chip on my shoulder against the whole university community, especially the social sciences- sociology, specifically. They tell us how to live, how to act, with no real experience in the community as a whole, lording over young men and women in high-stress situations. But I listened to the video above, and I thought about it. The real academics- scientists like Sagan- have a childlike wonder about them. They seek knowledge, not dispense it grudgingly. Yeah, see what I did there? I plugged what I'm saying into the video. Anyways, I was sitting there one morning listening to this song, and it struck me: sometimes, segregation of scientists like this from the rest of society is necessary. If Sagan was around today, I honestly think he'd be hitting the bottle, hard, knowing how society is running. He may have been outspoken about about nuclear war, but you know it took a toll on him.

Persinger was a brilliant professor, and here is one of his lectures. He is the best of what modern academic life can produce. And just think- in twenty years, the kids of today will be teaching the kids of tomorrow. That's gonna turn out GREAT.

Dr. Persinger's Psychotropic Drug Lecture


Friday, December 11, 2009

Penny Arcade, a Capitalist Love Story

Penny Arcade, for those unfamiliar, is a webcomic. It's more than a webcomic, though. It's a franchise, almost. They get commissioned for their art, mostly for big-name games. They have a convention and trade show (PAX), merch, an office and twelve workers.

But they came from nothing. They were just two assholes, sharing a room and working shitty minimum wage jobs who put up comics three times a week to comment on the games they played. Eventually, they got noticed for being smart and artistically talented. The writing was awesome. People started to advertise, and they went from being bums, to being able to sustain themselves, their families, twelve employees, and a yearly convention mostly on ad revenue. If that isn't a triumph of a free market...

I mean, these guys took raw talent, marketed it, used it to create something huge. No government assistance that I know of. No help. Just opportunity. They took opportunity and passion for games, and turned it into fat stacks. They took nothing but that. It's inspiring. I mean, if they can do it, I can.



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A random video, since I'm too tired to think.

I believe this to be an accurate representation of the youth of today.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Potential and Purpose

"I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables — slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won't. We're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off." -Fight Club

I've been thinking tonight. It happens that I get reflective when I'm down and a little depressed. I had a rough day, with not near enough sleep, and a teacher determined to screw me.

I was thinking about dropping out, and I asked myself, "Why?"

Why drop out? Well, why go to school in the first place? I wanted to help people. Maybe it's sort of atonement for being a lousy human being. Maybe I can't stand to see folk suffer. Whatever. Throughout the course, all I've learned is tolerance for corporate BS and a toe-the-line attitude. Seriously, you wonder why kids are messed up? I'll tell you why. They got nothing to look forwards to. They go from the hell of high school to the self-inflicted hell of university. What do they get out of it? Not purpose. You walk out of university after grinding out thesis's and studying away the best years of your life, and you have a piece of paper that lands you a job with a tie and a collar and before you know it, you're not a human being, you're a consumer. You're a cog in a useless machine.

Now, I like capitalism. I like the free market. But when all you have to look forwards to is an endless sea of cubicles for thirty years and the kids you spoiled so they wouldn't have to suffer like you did cramming you and your wife into a cut-rate home...well, that affects you. No wonder living fast and dying young has such appeal to kids. At least then, if you're chasing the dollar, you're getting out of the cubicle.

Used to be, folks had pride. Folks had purpose. You talked to them, and the cop said "I keep the folks safe from criminals." The machinist spotted a Studabaker rattling down Main Street, he said "Hey, I built the axles on that!" The farmer smiled and said "You like that corn? I done grew it."

Now, it's all numbers and paper. It's "I'm a techie. I listen to people bitch all day and try not to go crazy." It's "I'm in marketing. I determine whether or not we use teal or cornflower blue on the brand spot."

I realized today that emergency management is solid bullshit. You try to pimp preparedness to an apathetic populace, plan for events that may or may not happen using a pretty standard template. As an actual Emergency Manager in Canada, you herd the idiots in the EOC, not actually go out and do something CONCRETE. You can't tell me that we do. No, we sit with the mayor and try to keep him from doing something dumb. And that's a real punt in the stones. But I'm sticking with the program, because cutting and running is just cowardly.

I can see why kids these days are messed up. They have just as much potential as the kids of the Greatest Generation, of the kids that took Suvorov from Moscow to Italy. They know it. And they know it's going to be squandered in brushfire wars, in cubicles, in endless red tape and fighting the endlessly entropy and hollowness that a solely consuming life gets you. They want to keep their kids from suffering as I said, make their kid's childhoods as awesome as possible. But guess what? When little Timmy wakes up one day in his teens and realizes that he's not going to make a difference and here's going to end up like his dad, slaving away joylessly- and he's suffering to do it- something'll snap. I've seen it enough times. In high school, I knew kids with ulcers from the stress and work to get into a decent university. Kids who after one year of working their asses off for something they realized they didn't want, had mental breaks.

I don't want to end up like them, or my younger brother. He drinks heavily, works at as a fry cook. No prospects. No desire to look. Life is at its best with a joint and an Old Mill and some delinquent buddies for him. It's all depressing to watch. From all this ranting, I can draw this:

Dark times are coming, friends- and they're coming on horseback.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Caledonia: Kobyashi Maru for the Government

Alright, so I know a lot of you don't follow Canadian...well, anything. But this is somewhat big news, and it's gotten a lot of people shaken out of their whacked out ideas about policing, like 'they have an obligation to save us' and 'the police are always effective'. Not to knock the cops...but yeah. Epic fail.

"Set some 400 metres behind a now-open barricade of downed hydro towers --in an area described as a "lawless oasis" and where the Ontario Provincial Police warn even now they cannot respond, even for 911 calls -- the two-storey house is the nerve centre for the protesters who brought the development to a standstill, neighbouring homeowners to tears and a police force to its knees."

Read more:

It's pretty lame. Essentially, law only applied to the townsfolks. Here's what happened:

In 1992, a construction firm buys a bunch of land from the government. The natives whine, sue, wheedle to get it back for the first time in 160 years, right? Even though the crown has a document saying "Hey, we 37 chiefs of the Six Nations agree that these lands are going to be sold to the government, under the assumption that money from their sale will be re-invested by the government for the people of the reserve." So, in 2006 when this company goes to develop the land, the natives from the reserve go and have a sit in protest. So, Henco (the developer) goes to the local government and goes "wtf?" A judge says GTFO to the natives, issuing a temporary order, which they burn. They burn it twice more before the judge says "WTF a'ight, that temporary order to GTFO just became permanent, and now you all have a contempt of court charge."

So, a couple of weeks later, the police show up and clear off the site. 21 arrests are made, but not before one of the natives squawks into a cell. Later, a couple hundred natives armed with bats, axes, and hockey sticks (welcome to Canada) show up, drive off the cops, set a couple of fires, and set up a Third World roadblock. Now, I don't know about you, but this is not the proper reaction to lawful orders. They then proceed to crash a truck into and burn a hydro transformer, damages over one million dollars. The fire captain shows up, looks at the Ontario Provincial Police just sitting on their hands and not even trying to stop this madness, and rolls his trucks the other way. He puts in a statement that the OPP was unwilling and unable to protect his firefighters from the protesters.

So, after a couple of days, some lawyers show up at the OPP offices with the documents proving the sale, plus a statement of the following:

"Please discharge your duty under Section 42 of The Police Services Act and the provisions of your Agreement with Haldimand County which requires you to provide adequate and effective police services in accordance with the needs of the municipality which you are not, and have not, been doing. Specifically, you are not enforcing or discharging your duties to prevent crimes and other offences. You are not enforcing the provisions of The Trespass to Property Act and The Criminal Code of Canada and, in particular, you are not enforcing a valid court order of the Superior Court of Justice."

That was three years ago. There's still no response, to my knowledge. Things got worse and worse- residents of the town started their own blockade, which they then took down. The natives blocked access to emergency vehicles, resulting in people hurt on the nearby highway to take a long-ass and potentially life-threatening detour. There were a lot of scuffles, and the natives burnt down another two transformers, and caused another two million dollars in damage while the OPP just sort of sat, stared, and oppressed the residents of Caledonia. Basically, since then, the natives have done what they want, intimidated people, caused massive economic hardship, assaulted people, etc. Residents say that the natives are armed, and I believe them.

So, we have a massive ongoing issue that was brought to light (well, the depth of all this) by a couple on the border of the 'restricted area'. Yeah, the protesters restricted an area. These people have been harassed, intimidated, threatened, assaulted, etc. for three years, and they finally started a lawsuit against the Ontario Provincial Police over it. Here's another awesome quote:

"Not far from him he saw men unloading long, rectangular wooden crates -- about four feet long and a foot wide and a foot deep with rope handles -- from a white Jeep and placing them inside two tents set up in the trees, he testified.

The boxes had "funky wording," as he said it, painted on the outside, like Cyrillic letters used in Russia and some other Eastern European countries. The crates were marked in a similar way as the wood he saw in the lumber yard where he worked whenever they received a shipment of "Baltic Birch" from Russia.

He reported what he saw to senior Ontario Provincial Police officers, he testified: "They said it is possible it could be AK-47s."

Read more:

Honestly, I couldn't think of anything they could be but rifles. So, essentially what we had here was armed lawlessness, and the police did nothing. I brought this up in class, and a couple of people looked stumped. They couldn't understand why the police weren't helping the residents. One accused me of making it all up. I shrugged- this just worsened my opinion of 'police services'. If they're not policing, and they're not providing a service, what are they doing? I mean, they're not obligated to pull my ass out of the fire, but not being obligated to uphold the law? What the hell?

Anyways, I'm following this lawsuit like a hawk. There's two ways this ends:

1. The government pays these people off, starting a tidal wave of lawsuits and class-actions against the OPP, the Fed, and Indian Affairs.

2. The government says "The police have no obligation to do anything" and we have our foot in the door for Concealed Carry legislation.

Either way, the government loses. Right now, all they're doing is stalling and wringing their hands. Either they're failures, or they failed horribly.