Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Chapter 1

The Black Book

A tribute to

John D. MacDonald's

Travis McGee

Peter Hansen

ã Copyright Peter Hansen 2004, all rights reserved.

To Daphne,
For whom McGee would have given his all.

Chapter 1

When you owe someone your life and they ask you for help you go. It isn’t a matter of choices. McGee was in some kind of trouble, and I owed him my life. I went.

It was just past dusk when I wandered up to the houseboat named the Busted Flush. The address I had, Slip F-18, Bahai Mar, Fort Lauderdale, was correct. I was not expecting any company. I tossed my duffel aboard and stepped down from the gangplank. Then all hell broke loose. The alarm I tripped was the least of my worries. As the houseboat went "Whoop, whoop, whoop," a curvy brunette with a lethal looking little nine-millimeter stuck her head out the door threatening me with bodily harm. I was thinking about the best way to get on her good side when a slightly over-age bear landed on my back and sent me sailing face first into the bulkhead. I cursed McGee for bringing me here, and fought to stay awake as the stars started a slow dance in my head. The stars won.

When I came to, I was laying on the damnedest couch you can imagine. It must have been ten feet long. By my calculations, at least seventy-six inches of the thing were in pain. The brunette was sitting across the room on a barstool, still holding the nine. The bear was sitting in an easy chair sipping a Martini, and watching me closely.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"Murphy." I told him. "Friends call me M., but you can call me Murphy."

"And what, Mr. Murphy are you doing here?" said the girl. She wasn’t smiling, and her trigger finger looked tense.

"I got a letter from McGee. It's in my duffel. Sounded like he could use some help. You look like you might be his problem."

The bear put his drink aside. "My name is Meyer. I am also a friend of Travis', as well as his financial advisor. Several weeks ago, I forwarded an envelope from Travis to a T. Murphy. Would that be you?"

"Like I said, I got a letter from McGee. You can find it in the top of my duffel. He did mention your name, Meyer. Take a look, then we can decide who to be friends with."

Meyer crossed the living room to Murphy's duffel and extracted the letter.


If you get this, I am in deep Kimshe. Come to my
houseboat at slip F18, Bahai Mar. Ask around for a friend of mine named
Meyer. He can catch you up on my life. I am sorry to have to tap you
for the favor after all these years. If I don't make it, consider the
Busted Flush and the rest of it all yours.

Semper Fi. Trav

"I'm the Meyer in the letter. I am frightfully sorry about jumping on you. Travis has been gone for just over two months. Ordinarily, that would not cause us concern. This time, it does. We are worried sick."

"Where exactly did Travis go?"

"It might be a bit hard to explain." Meyer said. "Tell me, do you know what Travis does for a living?"

"Well, as I recall, he told me he was taking his retirement early. Enjoying life, and spending each spring watching a new crop of lovelies. Sounded like pretty good work, if you could get it."

"That is certainly a good exterior view of his life. Of course, there is more. From time to time, when someone has a problem that can't be solved, they bring it to Travis. You might say he is a salvage consultant. Whatever he salvages of a situation, he takes fifty percent. In most cases, the people who come to him could never expect to get back anything. His last job started a few months ago. We haven't seen or heard from him since it started."

"Two things Meyer: First, you have not answered my question. Where did Travis go? Second, friends do not point pistols at friends, and friends do not jump on friends. And third, do you have any aspirin and something around here to drink?"

"Sorry, I've forgotten my manners. I don't know where Travis went. Sue, would you get our guest some painkillers and a drink? What would you like? I can recommend the gin."

"Nah. Got a Budweiser hiding back there? And, could you lose the nine? Or, at least click on the safety. Those things make me a mite nervous."

The brunette wandered back to the galley. "Sorry, Carta Blanca is the best we can do."

"Ok, anything in a pinch. Did I get your name is Sue?"

"Yes. And, you got the other part right. I'm Travis' problem."

"Figures. He always liked to bite off more than he could chew."

"Mr. Murphy, please accept my apologies for jumping on you. It is quite out of character for me. I'm very upset about Travis. The last instructions he gave me were to look out for Sue. I don't think I've done a very good job. I have certainly started our acquaintance off on the wrong foot. I hope you are not seriously injured. Perhaps we could get a doctor in to take a look at you."

I took a long pull on the Carta Blanca and looked at Meyer. So much worry balled up into one little man. The brunette had taken her seat on the stool across the room again. This time with the safety on, but the nine was still within reach.

"Don't worry about it Meyer. I've fought bigger bears than you. I have to admit though; most of them gave me a chance to grin them down. I don't think you did any damage that a night's sleep won't cure."

"Well, let me show you to your cabin. Travis' cabin really. Sue is staying across the hall in the guest room."

He lured me off the couch to a room I may have once seen in a Bordello. The main cabin featured a bed large enough for me and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, and a shower big enough for the brass band.

"Perhaps we can get together again in the morning. I'm just down the way on the 'Thorstein Veblen'."

"Fine. Let's do breakfast. Right now, all I want to do is run some hot water over these bruises, and slip between some sheets. Tell Mata Hari she won't need her pistol tonight. At least not for me." I ushered him out, and dragged my duffel in. After five minutes under a stinging hot spray, I switched over to cold water. I needed to think for a few minutes before the sandman came. I wanted to think about Travis, about the trouble he might be in, and the trouble I might be getting into. Instead, I kept thinking about the deep green eyes and soft curves on Sue. Just before I dropped off, I thought about McGee. It was long ago in a different world when he had saved my life.

I pulled the blankets up over my shoulders and remembered that night with McGee. Lieutenant Maclin had called us up to the command post. He was a green ninety-day wonder, and he was afraid. We were old salts, twenty years old, and quietly terrified. They had us surrounded. The wounded were piling up. McGee and I nodded to each other and ducked into the bunker. Maclin saluted then shook our hands. He said, "I've got wounded men to move, and I can't do it. You two are the best HK team we have. Give me back the night."

McGee gave him an unconvincing smile, we saluted back, and we went out into that hellish place where things in the night go bump, and where evil is measured by the tingling down your spine. We went quiet, and we went fast. If there is a god, he must have been watching from a safe distance. The devil was right there beside us. It was a very long night. Just before dawn, McGee and I crawled back into camp. I should say McGee crawled back. He was carrying me on his back. I didn't see him again until we were on the Hospital Ship. Maclin didn't make it. …

The world of dreams is a private place. Once entered, we are alone. He drifted. Old romances, and new beginnings flowed though the night. Scenes flashed before him. Life and death came. There were old men, with torn rotting flesh, and new babies with silken skin. On the eve of dawn, gentle warmth surrounded him. Comfort came in inescapable waves. His life came to center. He felt the throbbing deep in his soul. His world disintegrated into warm moist comfort. Heaven was within reach. He gasped at the pleasure, and lay back in silence. He was immersed in the ultimate. When it was done, he clung to the soft side of reality. Where solid feelings sleep, and no questions are asked.

Chapter 2


The sun comes up softly in the marina. It sneaks up on the horizon, like a whispered threat, a quiet glow in the east. Temperatures edge their way up the scale, and old boats creak and groan at the thought of a new day. That was pretty much how my body felt, sitting up topside waiting for the first morning breeze, listening to the water lap against the side of the Busted Flush.

I knew that some of the creaking and groaning came from my own body. Over the years, I have done a moderately good job of keeping in shape. But, at some time in life, the body starts to win. No matter how hard you try, you find that gravity has consequences. I pushed off from the comfortable deck chair and headed for the beach. Five or ten miles of jogging would loosen up the tight joints, and stretch out the ham strings enough to get through another day. There is a strip of sand next to the water that stays relatively firm, and easy to run on. I tried to stay just to one side of it or the other, getting a little wet or gouging deeper into the sand for an extra challenge.

An hour later, I trotted back toward the Busted Flush. It was still too early for the sun worshipers and beach bums. A few fishermen were watching the eastern glow blossom, and talking quietly. In an hour or so, the tourists and beach bunnies would arrive, and the games would begin. I stopped off for a moment to see if anything was biting. As I looked down the pier, I noticed two young toughs at the gangplank of the Busted Flush.

My generation will never be able to understand poking holes in your body as a fashion statement. Both of these young men wore multiple hoops of gold piercing their eyebrows, and a safety pin or two in other unlikely locations. They managed to set these off nicely with the black leather vests, dirty jeans, and an attitude problem.

The closer of the two was tall and bony. His sidekick was less than six feet tall, but puffed up as if he had soccer balls under his skin. The only thing they seemed to share in common, other than grime and their taste in jewelry, was their closely shaved heads. I thought they might regret that hairstyle later in their lives, when nature starts thinning out the scalp. They seemed more concerned with Sue and her little black nine-millimeter. She was holding them at bay.

Some folding green got me a droopy fishing hat adorned with rusty treble-barbed lures, and a bucket of stinky bait. As I approached the Busted Flush, I gave them a crazy giggle, and said, "Look what I caught boys!"

The stork had perched with one leg up on the safety rail that ran down the side of the Busted Flush. He glanced over his shoulder at me as I sloshed the bucket of bait into his friend's face, then took my new cap off and swatted him on the forehead. At least two of the barbed lures seemed to have found a home. Mr. Muscles grabbed for the hat that was now stuck to his face, but never really got it off. I found a convenient safety pin hanging from the stork's ear, and gave it a quick yank, just before kicking in the back of his single supporting knee. There was an audible pop just before he collapsed on the ground. Sue seemed to be very impressed with me.

I was debating with myself about cleaning up the mess, or just leaving it. I needed a shower. As I tried to decide, Meyer rushed up with Officer Stein, of the Ft. Lauderdale police. Officer Stein may have accepted their fashion statement, if not their foul language. He could not approve of the Swastika tattoos over their hearts. He seemed even less tolerant when the stork called him a pig. It was a poor judgment call on the stork's part. Officer Stein was just over six foot six, and not feeling lenient. I finally decided on the shower. Meyer and Sue were waiting for me when I came out, drying my hair.

Sue slipped into the galley, and banged a few pots and pans. Her trusty little parabellum was nowhere in sight.

"Meyer" I said. "Perhaps you could explain something to me."

"Certainly. If I can."

"Why is it that I'm not sitting somewhere with Officer Stein answering questions, and filling out reports?"

"Oh! Lenny is a good boy. I was at his Brit Milah, his Bris. I’ve known his family forever. When he matriculated, he wanted to spend his time with the JDL, but his mother would not hear of it. Combine that with the fact that Ft. Lauderdale does not have an open arms policy towards lowlifes and drifters, and it becomes simple."

"Ok, next question. Who were they?"

"That I don't know. Perhaps Sue does. I assumed they were just small time troublemakers."

"Right on both accounts" Came Sue's voice from the kitchen. "Who wants breakfast?"

"I'd love breakfast, and some answers." I said.

Sue's omelets were hot, imaginative, and tasty. We sat around McGee's table enjoying the meal, and washing it down with the last of his Carta Blanca. This was the first time I'd had the time to study her without the threat of bodily harm. I placed her age at 27, but she could have been younger, or older. Her brown hair was just over shoulder length and clean. She hadn't done anything extravagant with it. She had a straight nose covered with freckles, wide green eyes, and a mouth that might have been too wide, except that it showed her perfect white teeth when she made a crooked little grin. I would have been tempted to sum her up in one word as "Mischief," but the strain around her eyes said something else was happening there. She was wearing an open necked blue denim shirt that must have belonged to McGee, and short tight cutoff jeans that displayed more cheek than a father would approve of. She stood about five foot six, and was thin except where nubile young girls shouldn't be. Other than the shirt, she was not wearing anything above the waist. Nothing I could see looked surgically altered. It would have been a waste of money. My closest friend gave me a twinge, and I had to remind myself that I was no longer a young stud.

"Ok," she said, "I know them both from back home. They were looking for the book, but I don't have it. I told them that, but they didn't want to believe me. My guess is they’ll be coming back. Probably with friends."

"Whoa there. Let's back up a few steps. Remember that I just got here last night. Who are they? Where is home? What book are we talking about? And, who are their friends?"

"The tall one is called Tall William. The other guy is Bounce. Home is in Northern Idaho. The book belonged to my daddy. And their friends are the Aryan Brotherhood, and down here I suppose the KKK."


"I came to Travis because they were chasing me. When I was younger, he did my daddy a favor. My daddy never forgot the favor, and I never forgot Travis. They want daddy’s book, but I don't have it, and they won't believe me. Travis scared them off once, and then he said he was going to go have a little chat with them. We haven't heard from him since, and now they're back."

"Who is your daddy?"

"Was. Who was my daddy? Agent Scott DeMarko, BATF. He was an undercover agent, and they killed him."

"Why didn't you go to the BATF?"

"I tried, but the agents I talked to didn’t want anything to do with it, because of how my daddy was died. They found him naked in a cheap motel room, overdosed on heroin with a dead fifteen-year-old prostitute. BATF doesn't even want to talk about it. They think of him as an embarrassment. But daddy wasn't like that."

"What was in the book?"

"I'm not sure. He never let me see it. He used to write in it whenever he could make it home. I guess it had something to do with his job, but he didn't talk about his work with me."

Meyer had kept quiet all this time. He shifted his considerable bulk to look at me now. "What do we do now, Mr. Murphy?" It was a serious question.

"M. Both of you please just call me M from now on. First, we need to disappear you two. You can't stay here at Bahai Mar unless you want to take up the martial arts. Second, if we’re dealing with an organization like the Arians, we need to reduce their ability to harm us. Then, I go looking for McGee. Two months is a long time to be missing. On the other hand, McGee is harder to kill than most people."

"But, won't you just be stepping into the same trouble Travis did?"

"Yes, and no. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to find the same people he did. The "no" part comes with making your own luck, which is ninety-nine percent preparation. I don't intend to walk into it alone. It will take me a few days to round up a team, but I have some friends, and I can call in some markers."

Meyer looked uncomfortable. "How exactly do you propose that we disappear? I have obligations to speak at several conferences in the next month."

"Meyer. This is one of those crossroads in life. You can either let Ms. DeMarko here perish from criminal neglect while you expose yourself to certain danger, or you can put the rest of the world on hold and save two lives. Which do you want to do?"

Meyer looked pained. "Of course you are right. I can arrange a substitute lecturer. I just have trouble thinking in those terms. These people, who ever they are, don't seem real or rational to me. I'm having trouble making sense of it all."

"Believe me Meyer, when I tell you that they are real. Rational is another question. I'm trying to keep both your hearts beating, and your gray matter mattering. Now, can we move this barge? It makes sense to me to keep you out of hotel registers."

"Yes, Travis and I have made several trips in the Busted Flush. We'll need provisions. And I'll need a few hours to make arrangements for my lectures."

"Good. Now, let's talk about money, and ground transportation. I am temporarily embarrassed. I wasn't planning any rescue efforts, and this came up pretty fast."

"Money isn't a problem. If we need it, I have quite a bit stashed away in long-term bonds. On a more immediate basis, I know that Travis keeps a store of operational funds aboard. We only need to find it. As far as transportation goes, after we find Travis' funds, I can introduce you to Miss Agnes. She’s just across the street.

It took the rest of the morning to find McGee's hidden strongbox. (Why is it that things are always in the last place you look?) In the process, we came up with a collection of weapons that any armory would be proud of, and an old Fats Waller album that was nearly priceless. Thomas Wright Waller was one of a kind. McGee had always liked his cut of "Ain't Missbehavin'." I thought his rendition of "Black and Blue" might be more apropos to our situation.

Chapter 3


If you want to draw attention to yourself, there are several ways to do it in today's hectic world. Two come immediately to mind. The first is to place yourself in a Wal-Mart checkout line during the Christmas rush, and set your hair on fire. The second is to drive anywhere in Ms. Agnes.

Somewhere and when, someone with a mean streak had taken a perfectly good Rolls Royce and turned it into a pickup truck. Then, just in case no one noticed, they had painted her an electric blue, bright enough to give you a toothache.

"You know Meyer, ordinarily one must go to California to view this kind of perversion."

"Yes, I know. Nevertheless, Travis dearly loves her. And you must admit, that it makes grocery shopping very convenient."

"Well, it makes it an event, I'll give you that much. Meyer, my mother thought that American grocery stores were very close to heaven. She had lived in several third-world countries where shopping was a daily burden, and shortages were the norm. I guess when you compare that to the "Super" stores she may have had a point. What she didn't mention, was the slide of the American consumer into culinary stupidity."

"What do you mean by that M?"

"Take a look at your average Super-store. You've got your packages of burritos, cans of refried beans, tubs of sour cream, jars of mayonnaise, boxes of macaroni & cheese, cans of whipped topping, cups of desert pudding, bottles of soda water, chewing gum, ketchup, packages of hotdogs, loaves of bread, pre-cooked frozen turkey breast, and quick bake brownies, all wrapped up in packaging that will still be here in two hundred years. Now take your average shopper, give him twenty pounds of flower, some salt, lard, and a side of beef, and watch him starve to death. If it isn't in a package, Americans don't know what to do with it. Hell, the average American would starve to death in a wheat field overrun by chickens."

"May I take that as a rant?" Meyer asked.

"Nope. Take it as a shopping list. I'm going to drop you off at the grocery store while I run an errand. I'll meet you back there in an hour to load up. Don't forget to pick up a case or two of Budweiser."

While Meyer went shopping for food, I stopped off at the local Sam's Club. You can get groceries there, but only in bulk. Originally, only companies and large groups could belong to Sam's Club. Now, anyone can come in off the street and join for thirty or forty dollars a year. Aside from the bulk groceries, they have an excellent selection of computer gear for rock bottom prices. I picked out a two-gig processor with an HP printer, a 32-bit scanner, seventeen-inch monitor, and a two-way satellite dish for a base station on the Busted Flush. All of that came out to about a thousand dollars. I added a laptop machine with a wireless modem for close to the same price, and paid for it all with part of McGee's contingency funds.

After picking up Meyer and the groceries, we unloaded everything into the Busted Flush, and made final preparations for our trip. Meyer checked with the Coast Guard to get an extended weather forecast. I looked over McGee's charts trying to choose a secure destination. Sue spent her time making sure that we had gas, oil, and fresh water for the trip. I didn't make any real progress until after Meyer came back with the weather reports.

"Here's the problem. If we stick you two in a motel somewhere, your whereabouts is going to be available to too many people. If we try to anchor you in some hidden bay somewhere, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. There aren’t that many undeveloped bays left, and the ones that are undeveloped have twenty or thirty wildlife officers who ask too many questions and then tell you that you can't stay there anyway."

Meyer thought about it for a second, then said: "Travis once told me that it was always easiest to hide in the open. I have a close acquaintance with a place on the water just north of Marathon. His home sits on a small waterway just across from the airstrip, on Blue Fin Circle. It's protected from the Gulf, and from Route 1. I happen to know that he is leaving for France next week. I could call him and ask about tying up to his dock."

"Ok, give it a try, but use a pay phone. Why do you think he might let you tie up there?"

"Two reasons. First, he would probably be happy to have someone watching his property while he is away, and second, because he still hasn't paid me for an ill conceived wager he made when we were golfing at the Sombrero Country Club."

"Ok, check him out. If it all works out, we can start in the morning. "

I spent the rest of the day hooking up the computer, and connecting to the Internet. We needed more information, and the World Wide Web offers tons of information free. I should not have been surprised that the Anti-Deformation League had a variety of background information available about the Aryan Brotherhood, and the Aryan Nation. What was surprising was the breadth and depth of the information available. I got search hits from every state in the nation, and the far reaches of Europe and the Middle East. The organization had widespread roots, and an active recruitment drive, with its own newspaper directed towards prison inmates. The shear volume of information was enough to terrify me. The only technical glitch in the system had nothing to do with the hardware, or software. The gentle movement of the Busted Flush occasionally caused the satellite dish to lose its signal when another boat motored by. About six in the afternoon, Sue, Meyer, and I got together for a drink.

"We are all set with my friend Rob in Marathon." Meyer said while performing a ritual at the bar. He filled a Manhattan glass almost full of ice, then splashed in some good sherry. He promptly dumped the sherry out through a strainer, rubbed the rim of the glass with a lemon rind, gave it a light squeeze, then threw it away and filled the glass with Boodles British Gin. "He's even suggested that we run a power line into his boat house, and connect to his garden hose for fresh water."

Sue came in and handed me a can of Bud. "What are you two planning to make for diner?" She asked. "I have a theory that men should be made to cook occasionally."

I thought for a second that I might have to prove myself with a bag of flower, and a side of beef, but Meyer spoke up first.

"Allow me. I have a pot of chili cooking on the Thorstein Veblen. Proper chili takes days to prepare. You must let the flavors blend overnight, or you may as well eat it out of a can. I will run over and get it as soon as I finish this drink. It may take a while, because I have some last minute locking up to do before I can leave. I assume you want to get an early start. I'll sleep here on the couch tonight."

"Yes, I think the earlier the better. I don't want to wait around for Tall William and Bubbles to bring back their friends."

"Bounce, you mean. Tall William and Bounce." Sue said, curling up on the couch. "Tell me M, what exactly are our plans?"

"The plan for tomorrow, is just to move you and Meyer to a safe haven. I have more homework to do on the computer, and then I'll be leaving to round up a team. Once we have more information on the players, we can come up with something more specific. I would like to pick your brain for an afternoon. I need to know everything you can tell me about the place you live, and who else lives there."

"Good. I want to know more about you too. Knights-errant do not come along every five minutes. I thought Travis was the last of a breed."

"You might be surprised young lady, how many there really are. Take our helpful Officer Stein for example. There are more like him all across America. Just take an ounce of testosterone, have their mothers add a pound or two of civility, and their fathers mix it with hard-knocks, then educate, and let it simmer until done."

"Which reminds me of diner," Said Meyer, as he was getting up to leave.

"It reminds me of a fairy tale." Sue said. "Just think about all the women out there that will never catch one. And don’t tell me how young I am."

"Not a fairy tale," I said. "They’re just using the wrong bait. And I don’t see any wrinkles on you."

“So what’s the right bait?” She said as Meyer left.

“Hell girl, that isn’t any secret! A man loves to be loved, and wants to be wanted, same as any woman. Point those headlights at whom-so-ever you want, and get to gettin’. Swallow a little pride, and the world belongs to you. I know it’s hard to play second fiddle, but if you want a man, you got to stroke him just so. Most romances break up or fail to materialize because one side of the fence or the other just can’t swallow their pride. When it comes right down to it, most men would if, most women wouldn’t unless … Just decide what you want, and spit it out.”

“Ok M. What if I said that I want someone like you?”

“You mean someone about 6’ 4” tall, with brushy white hair, about twice your age?”

“M. You may know a lot about life, but you don’t know squat about women. We don’t think the same as men. I mean someone tall, handsome, mature, and whipcord thin, who has opinions of his own.”

“Well, it wouldn’t be too hard to find someone who agreed with you as to how much I know about women. Just ask any that ever knew me.”

“M. What’s it like to be a man? I mean about sex and all.”

“That’s a tough question. There’s being a man, and then there’s being a good man. It’s two different things. By nature, I guess men in general want to bounce the bones of any nubile young thing that comes by. Being a good man is a bit tougher. It means saying no when you really want to say yes. Any man worth having wants more than a pneumatic doll to bounce around with. Fortunately for the human race, we’re only human. Biology is much stronger than the male brain.”

“So you’re saying you want to be more than just a one night bounce?”

“I’m talking about Douglas Adam’s infamous “42”, the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. Some men think that “42” is two twenty-one year olds. I’m more inclined to believe it means four-ply toilet paper and a two-day workweek. There is hardly anything in this world that I like more than bouncing around, but there is more to life than what I enjoy. Women are people too you know.”

“God M, I may faint. You must be the absolute last man on earth with a cape to lay down.”

“Well, it hasn’t been in style for a while Princess.”

“My dad used to call me that. Princess.”

“With good cause I’m sure. Now, can we talk about something else?”

“I’m not through with this discussion. When Meyer gets back, you’d better eat fast.”

Chapter 4


I can't say that Meyer's chili was an aid to sound sleep, but trying to put out the fire with Budweiser certainly helped. McGee’s larder was chock full of condiments with names like “Toxic Waste, After Death, and Tabasco Habanero.”

Sue and I stayed awake talking into the small hours of the morning. She is an intelligent woman. We didn’t have to go through the normal getting-to-know-you games; who do we both know, what is your favorite movie, do you like cats? We had more of an abstract conversation about goals and values. It left me with lots to think about: my age, her age, pneumatic nubiles, and bouncing. We talked about Idaho, who was who there, where they were, and what they were likely to be doing. Who might pose a threat? I like her a lot, and I’m afraid she may like me. After some tossing and turning, no bouncing, I finally caught a few hours of sleep.

By daybreak, we were peacefully cruising south along the inland waterway, towing a runabout behind the Busted Flush at a stately four knots and hour. At this rate, we would need to anchor out for a night before we reached our destination in the Keys. Meyer spent the time making notes on some obscure economic theory. Sue lay out in the sun with a bare back and one of Carl Hiaasen's novels, chuckling about his crazy characters. Our progress raised just enough of a breeze to keep the bugs off, and keep us cool throughout the day. I did my best captain imitation, and thought about what mischief McGee might have gotten into.

An hour or so later, Meyer came topside with two large mugs of coffee.

"We haven't had much time to talk M. I thought perhaps you would like to fill me in on yourself."

"Sure. Not much to say. In the real world, I'm a software frog. I started a little over thirty years ago, wiring IBM 407 tabulation machines. They caught me shoving matchbooks into the relays to make them run faster, and moved me to mainframes. Back then, banks, insurance companies, and the moon-shot were where the action was. I stuck with the first two, wrote software for ten years, and then went to work for Control Data, doing software support. At one point, I did support on all of the three main IBM operating systems in the U.S. and Europe. After that, I put together a company that modified IBM's systems to make them work better. My claim to fame was a "Dynamic Installation System" that worked on the bigger machines. It made our products easy to install. Hell, today they would call it a virus. Anyway, that all went by the wayside when my partner tried to cook the books. The last few years, I have been concentrating on PC stuff. They finally got fast enough to do legitimate work. Some of my work since then has been for the satellite people, Aerospace Corporation, and the rest has been network protocol and communications. I'm what the computer hackers call a dinosaur."

"That sounds more like what you do than who you are."

"You are a perceptive man Meyer. There is a train of thought, not unpopular with modern males that would have you believe that the two things are synonymous. I guess there is more to me. Marriage found me twice. A few children claim me. They have their own lives now. My leanings are toward fiscal conservatism and laissez faire economics. If you wrap it all up, you have a Libertarian who is slightly to the right of Ann Rand, but does not own any suits. How about you?"

"Professionally, I'm an economist of the Keynes school. John Maynard Keynes founded twentieth century economics. He first studied under his father, John Neville Keynes who taught economics at Cambridge. His work after World War I, and the depression set the economic landscape for the rest of the century. Most work in economics since then is based on, or in direct opposition to his work. I thought that perhaps I could extend his work, but I have not been terribly successful. Nowadays, I'm more of an amateur historian. I live a sedate life aboard my houseboat. And, on rare occasions, I race around the countryside trying to save Travis."

With that, Meyer wandered off to apply some suntan lotion to Sue's shoulders and back. I sipped at the coffee, and thought about ships passing in the night, and other clichés, anything to take my mind off her hot tanned skin. After lunch, Meyer took a turn at the wheel, and I went below to see if the satellite dish would hold a signal while we were moving. It wouldn't, so I contented myself to writing a few programs that might come in handy later. As the sun began to go down, we found a safe cove off the beaten path, and set anchor for the night. Things were quiet during diner, and afterwards, I took two Buds up topside to watch the clouds scudding past the stars, and try to extend my game plan. Finally, I checked to see that our running lights were set for night, and slipped off to bed.

The next day passed much the same. We found Meyer's friend Rob's dock just in time for cocktails. Most of the talk centered on Florida, and the Keys. Rob had much the same attitude as everyone that has claimed his corner of the world. He thought it was time to cut off the inbound traffic, let everyone else go elsewhere to find their piece of paradise. He was short, and balding, with a well-fed paunch. He had the Florida affinity for pastel colored clothing. You wouldn't catch me dead in yellow slacks and a lime green polo shirt, but there he was. A financier by trade, he was a fountain of information on a subject that I needed to research. I asked him about laundering money. If he thought I was somehow involved with the Colombian drug cartels, he had the good grace not to show it. He delivered his monologue with rapid-fire East Coast English.

"Most people think laundering money is very difficult, which is exactly what our government would like them to believe. That is only true for the poor little shmuck that has ten thousand dollars to hide. His best bet is his mattress. For real money, there is no problem. You can hide money in Alderney, Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Austria, Belize, Barbados, the Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Grenada, Isle of Man, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, the Marshal Islands, Mauritius, Nauru…. The list goes on, but I think you get the point. If the money is clean, then you can just transfer it from account to account. If someone is following the money, then move it through shell corporations. If you don't have shells of your own, just buy some along the way. You can handle it all online with good encryption. You don't even have to travel. It is expensive. Depending on the amount of money you are moving, expect to spend at least fifteen percent to get it really clean, say five jumps at three percent each, including shells. If you don't have that much to move, go to Vegas. Win some, lose some, when you cash out, get a casino check. Pay taxes on whatever you deposit in the American banks, and stay the hell away from Swiss banks, and telephone lines."

In three minutes, I had learned more about the international shell game than I could have gotten in three jail terms. Who says this isn't a great country?

Meyer appeared at my shoulder, he was white as a ghost, and shaking badly. "Thinking of making a run for Aruba with Travis' booty?" He asked.

"No Meyer, I wasn't. Tell you what Mr. Economist, tomorrow morning you come sit with me for an hour or two at the computer. I'll give you a lesson about money."

“I’m sure it will be fascinating, but at the moment, we have bigger problems.”

“Like what?”

“My houseboat exploded half an hour ago. They’ve taken my home and all my possessions. They tried to kill me.”

“Shit. It looks like we may need to move up the schedule a bit.”

Chapter 5


Hacking into the website of the Aryan Nations didn't pose much of a problem. They were running Windows NT, with IIS as a web server. They hadn't even applied the free security patches available from Microsoft.

"Ok, Meyer, the first order of business is to install a back door. That way, if we have to come back to the site, we won't have to go through this rigmarole again. Executing a simple Active Server Page Script will get us that far." Two minutes later, we were in.

"Next, we want to steal their address book, and poke around on the hard disk. We can FTP anything we find back here onto our hard disk."

"But, won't they notice us on their system?" Meyer looked worried.

"I doubt it. Most servers run unattended. Even the ones that have a human around aren't likely to be manned at this hour. Six A.M. here is four in the morning there. Bingo! Look here! We have their whole membership database! This is going to be fun!"

"But M. What if they notice?"

"Well, for on thing, we are on an anonymous IP address. It changes every time we connect. But, just so you'll feel better, imagine for a minute that there was someone watching their machine at four in the morning. There isn't anything on their screen to see. Even if there were, what would they do? About the only thing they can do is turn the damn thing off. They don't know who we are, or where we are."

After I downloaded their files, I uploaded a few of my own. These were scheduled to run over the next two weeks.

"We're going to leave them an Easter egg, something to ruin their day, and generally keep them busy. Next, we take on the Federal Reserve, and then the world."

"So much for you making me feel better."

"Don't worry Meyer. I could do this in my sleep."

The banks in use by the Aryan Nation and the Federal Reserve were just a shade more difficult than cracking a website, but, I didn't tell Meyer that. The Fed has the same problem as Government sites everywhere. They might be a bit more security conscious, because they deal in money. On the other hand, they hire data processing people for as little as they can pay them, and get exactly what they pay for. It took half an hour to hack into the bank without leaving a trail. The money transfers went faster than that. Ten minutes after I pressed the last key, the Aryan Nations were short one hundred and thirteen million dollars. I thought for a minute that Meyer was going to have a seizure. "Don't worry." I told him. "The money will be out of those accounts within twenty minutes. By tonight it will be five accounts away, there won't be a trace."

"M. Do you realize what you are doing? You can't subvert funds from the banking system like this! It's criminal."

"What do you mean can't? I just did. As for the moral issue, I’ve given it a lot of thought. I’ve spent my whole life being honest. I’ve never stolen a dime. That would be a crime. Civil disobedience is when you understand something to be illegal and you do it anyway. It’s when the outcome means more to you than the punishment. If what we are doing right now gets me ten to twenty years in a federal hotel, I’ll accept that, if it gets McGee home safely. Hell, once McGee is home I might just turn myself in. I could sort of use a vacation."

"But, we'll be caught. Don't you understand? They'll trace where the money went."

"Let's see. One hundred and thirteen million dollars times fifteen percent in fees. That gives us sixteen million nine hundred fifty thousand reasons they won't be able to trace the money. Besides, those boys are going to be a mite busy with the entertainment I've arranged for them."

"My god. What else have you done?"

"Well, let me set this thing on autopilot for a minute, and we'll talk about it. I just need to get it started cracking the other sites."

"I probably don't want to know about them do I?"

"You might, you might not. It turns out that there are just over eight hundred sites I've found with Internet searches that have Aryan or Neo-Nazi home pages. Add to that the two thousand or so web addresses we found in their address book and that gives us about three thousand addresses to play with. Our machine is hooking into them now, and uploading a few programs I wrote on the way down here."

"What do the programs do?"

"You might say we are starting a war here Meyer. At midnight, Zulu, six P.M. tonight our time, all of these machines are going to start working for us, which is to say against them. I planned a simple three-phase campaign. First, all of their machines will begin sending threatening email to federal, state, and local politicians and law enforcement agencies. It would have looked contrived if they all sent identical messages to each recipient, so I put together a random insult program, with a psychological word-weighting algorithm based on the recipient's last name. It is important to call Eugene McCarthy a Mick, instead of a Dego. It does everything from making threats on the president's life, to calling the local black FBI agents "Mud Babies," and demanding the immediate release of Betty Crocker. It includes as many racial slurs and epithets as I could come up with. All of the members in the database will get an email from the Aryan Brotherhood demanding that they send the title to their cars, along with ten thousand dollars to Jerry Fallwell. I am adding their telephone numbers to every telemarketing list I could find, from replacement auto glass to timeshare condominiums. And any credit cards found in their names at Discover, Visa, Master Card, and American Express will be reported stolen."

"M. Do you have any idea how many years in jail this might earn us?"

"Not to worry, Meyer. Besides, that is just Phase-One. Phase-Two starts at 0900, Zulu, when all of the machines begin a denial of service attack on each other. They spend all of their cycles either pinging each other, or trying to keep up answering the pings they receive. It is sort of like an autoimmune system disorder for computers. Aryan against Aryan, mano a mano, modem vs. modem."

"But, they'll just restart their systems."

"Nope. First off, we are hooked into their boot records. Restarting their computers will just start the process over again. On top of that, we'll be running as NT service applications or invisible 9X applications. They won't be able to see us, or get rid of us without wiping their hard disks clean. I think it will be a major improvement to the world of computing when they do."

"I'm afraid to ask what phase-three entails."

"Oh. I took the liberty of placing several classified ads. The next issue of most underground newspapers will be advertising a gay pride festival next week outside Hayden Lake, Idaho, at their stronghold. Mainline newspapers will be carrying an AP article that describes a new U.S. land grab policy in the area. Forty acres free to anyone who sets up a tent, and can protect it. There are also rumors starting to circulate about a new gold find in the area, and the fact that the Grateful Dead are giving a free concert in their pasture. That was about all I could get done last night."

"What happened to the simple life?"

"Well, you know what they say, Meyer. Anyone can make a mistake. But, to really foul things up requires a computer. Just think, I could have been having fun like this for the past thirty years, and never did."

We celebrated over lunch, with good California Chablis and a seafood salad as the machine hummed away. Any of the accounts not logged on would get an email with an attachment to catch their machines up to date. The emails were mostly from Publisher's Clearinghouse saying "This time you really won!" Tomorrow, I needed to get on the road. It was time to put together a team.

Sue came in then with a catbird look on her pretty face. “If you’re going to leave me here, then we need to spend some more time talking about what and who you are going to be up against.”

With Meyer tucked safely in for the night, she tried to educate me. The process took hours, and a great deal of effort. Once again, I found I was only human. When she was done, I felt knowledgeable about every square inch of what I was up against. Now I just needed to learn more about the opposition, and come up with a plan. But, that would have to wait until morning.

Chapter 7


Money Reported Missing
Bank Officers Questioned

By: Jake Weston
Northern Idaho Sentinel

May 24 - Tempers flared yesterday as local bank officers answered questions regarding missing funds. John Bellingham, president of Idaho Federal Thrift Bank maintains that account holders moved millions of dollars from a local account last week by wire transfer.

The account holder was not available for comment, but attorneys for the account
holder maintain that no one associated with the account made any such transfer.

Bellingham stated that it was virtually impossible for anyone else to have done
so. "First, we need a secret command from their computer system. Then, a fax must follow to confirm the transfer. There is no doubt that these were received, or that both of them originated with the account holder's computer system. If there is a problem, they had better start looking for it inside their own organization."

Tempers are likely to remain heated until the missing money is located. The FBI will be involved in tracing the funds transfer. Local special agent Larry Borden said today "These things are usually traced to someone inside an organization who has knowledge of the banking arrangements. We have several good leads to go on here. The best thing the guilty party could do at this point is to come in and confess. The FBI is on the case."

As of press time, no one has come forward to confess.

ã Copyright, Northern Idaho Sentinel. All rights reserved.

When the ice goes out on the lakes of Minnesota, it goes amazingly fast. One day, there are ice fishermen in pickup trucks parked in the middle of the lake, and the next day the water is clear, blue, and cold. Of course, this may not occur until mid-May or later. As the Northwest Link flight came in over the Brainerd area, I could see frozen over lakes slipping below the flight path. The turbo-prop rolled up to the small terminal; a young lady dressed in Northwest Blue parka flagged the pilot to a parking spot. When the props stopped, she let down the boarding ladder, then popped open the luggage compartment to get our bags. She had the crisp blue eyes and blond hair common to her Nordic ancestors. She treated us to a smile that said she really was happy that we were there, and, that the plane hadn't crashed. I could almost hear the ice on the lakes melting, and forget about stewardess seniority.

I was here to see Will D. Will was one of those almost-always-single types like Doc. He had been a door gunner in the Nam, and when I met him, he was still picking shrapnel out of his legs. I asked him how that happened to a door gunner. He told me that he had been flying supplies into a base in the central highlands one time. His bird had developed a vibration, and the pilot had decided to spend the night on base. As luck would have it, they expected a "Bald Eagle" that night, everything pointed to them being over-run. In spite of a bad premonition, he volunteered to walk a final perimeter patrol to prepare for the evening's festivities. The Marine in front of him had tripped off a Bouncing Betty. The rest is ancient history.

Will had two things I needed. The first was his innate sense of when someone is trying to kill you. The second was his degree from the Colorado College of Mining. Like Doc, he was not the easiest person in the world to connect with. During the winter, he kept a room over the general store in Pequot Lakes, forty miles north of Brainerd. Summers were more problematic. He tended to fade off into the north woods for months at a time. I rented a car from the Avis people, and headed north. I found him stuffing parachute silk into a duffel bag, in preparation to leave his overheated room and the black and white Sylvania television that only got one channel. When I pulled up in front of his beat-up old truck, he gave me the kind of look he reserved for people who wear lime green golfing attire.

"Yo, Will."

"Yo Mamma."

"I'm needing some help Will."

"Any fool could see that."

"Had breakfast?"

"Yeah. Yesterday."

"Got time to go up to the A-Frame lodge?"

"Guess so."

"Good. See you there, and I'm buying."

"You should have said so in the first place."

The A-Frame was five miles further north than Pequot Lakes. It catered to truckers. The sign outside said, "This is your last chance to eat. Got gas?"

Will followed me there, and we found a Formica booth with curved plastic seats near the windows. From our table, we could see the pumps, and every truck coming through. He ordered half a pound of bacon, with six eggs over easy and whole-wheat toast. I settled for coffee.

"So. What's this help you're needing?" He said.

"Just a bit of your time."

"Running short on time."

"How's your boy doing?" I asked. "Be in high-school now won't he?"


"He'll be needing some money for college next I guess."

"I might."

"Just so happens a few weeks of your time would cover some of that."

"Ok, M. The hook is set. Best start to reeling."

"It's simple Will. I need you out west for a few weeks. The work's in the bush. Snoop n scoot. Pay's good."

"Got a better reason than money?"

"Best reason on earth. I have a man down. I owe him."

"You should have said so in the first place."

And with that, he demolished an amazing breakfast. We spent the next hour talking about the details. I left him with a cashier's check, and took a promise with me. A week from now, we would meet in Idaho.

Enticing men to come to your aid is a simple process. Just ask. If the problem is small enough, most men will help out just for the hell of it. When problems get bigger, you need only present the man with a viable reason. Nine times out of ten, he'll help. Money is almost never part of the reason. With Doc and Will, I tossed the money on the table for two reasons. In the realms of finance, they were both ne’er-do-wells. They didn't particularly care about money after the basics of food and shelter were covered. Within a few months, both would probably be broke again. When they did have money, they tended to give it away to people who had larger problems than their own. The second reason went a bit deeper. I was going to ask them to go places and do things that could quite easily get them killed. If that happened, whatever they left behind would revert to their families.

Women are another matter entirely. Not that they wouldn't help out if they could, but that men in general, and I specifically, don't know how to reach them. In short, men don't understand women. From a male point of view, women have won the battle of the sexes. In the process, they have lost more than they can ever regain. The least of it is falling from their pedestals. Having doors opened for you and coats placed for you to walk on are archaic gestures that can easily be thrown by the wayside. The bigger problem is that they have brow beaten the American male to the point where they are afraid to be attracted to American women. But then who am I to fault them? I’m just another battered chauvinist looking for lady fair. So, don't delay ladies, take off your bra, put on a tee shirt, and be an executive. Work sixty-hour weeks, and join us in the foxholes. Bash through that glass ceiling, attend West Point, and be all that you can be. But, when the dust clears, don't look around and wonder how you missed out. All the he-men of yesteryear are at men's mudslide encounter groups discussing their repressed fears and sipping Chablis.

Chapter 6


Internet warning system attacked
CERT Coordination Center site inaccessible

By Robert Lemos

May 23 — Unknown attackers inundated the Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center with data Wednesday, cutting off the public’s access to the organization largely responsible for warning others on the Internet about computer-security threats.

THE ATTACK BEGAN around 9 a.m. PDT Tuesday and continued to stall
traffic to the organization’s Web site Wednesday.

“Our connection to the Internet has been largely saturated by this activity,” Ian Finlay, an Internet security analyst for the CERT Coordination Center, said in a recorded statement.

“The Web site may be unavailable until the attack begins to

Although the attack has prevented anyone from accessing the
security advisories on CERT’s Web site, the Center said it will still be able to
get the word out on critical alerts.

“We have alternate means to issue advisories as it becomes necessary,” Finlay said in the statement.

© ZD Inc. All Rights Reserved. ZDNet and ZDNet logo are
registered trademarks of ZD Inc. © 2000 Ziff Davis Media.
All Rights Reserved.

The Delta 757 swept down over the snow-covered peaks of the Wasatch mountain range that borders the Salt Lake Valley on the east. Like all modern airlines, they had knuckled under to the feminist movement in the mid-seventies, and fired any stewardess that was even remotely attractive. First class was no exception; the stewardesses with longevity always bid for those positions. The uninspiring result was that as we approached our touchdown, the announcement was strikingly similar to a lecture my mother had once given me.

I was in Salt Lake because Doc was here. At the age of six, Doc had started taking television sets apart. He never actually put one back together and made it work until he was eight. At the age of twelve, he heard that surgeons in Vietnam were experimenting with electric shock to anesthetize wounded soldiers. He promptly built himself a machine, and had half of the children in the neighborhood sleeping peacefully before they apprehended him. At twenty-two he was working in Silicon Valley for the defense industry. Never one to be bothered by petty office politics, he had authored a memo describing how stupid the company's system was, pointing out several design flaws, and giving ideas for improvement. Instead of passing it through channels, he dropped it off at the president's office. When the company did not act, he dropped a copy off at the competition's office. His memo was last seen at the Paris Air Show, being used by a French General to browbeat several company executives.

Lately, Doc had been keeping out of the public's view, and out of harms way. In fact, to talk to him at all, I had to rent a helicopter. I found him alone, but not lonely, atop the Oquirrh Mountains west of Salt Lake City, on Nelson Peak. Rush week was coming up, and he had taken an engineering position, keeping the local television transmitters purring. As we came in for a landing, he was just zipping up, having relieved himself in the direction of the station management in the valley below.

When the rotor wash was manageable, I crouched down and made a dash across the hillside. "I thought you might want a pizza." I said, holding aloft a deep-dish thick crust Domino's Supreme.

"You were always kind of thoughtful." He said. His blond hair was whipping in the wind, but he didn’t seem to notice it.

"Hang tight, and I'll get the pilot and the beer. I wasn't sure I'd find you."

"I'm not headed anywhere." He said accepting the pizza, and sniffing at the box.

My pilot shut down, but declined the offer of pizza and beer. He said he would rather just polish his bird, and look around. So, six-pack in hand, I made my way back across the hillside.

Inside the sheet metal building that contained the transmitters, Doc cleared off a portion of his workbench to make room for the pizza and beer. The whole place hummed with electricity. The smell of ozone was strong inside the building. I expected to get shocked any second. Doc did not seem to mind. He’s just over six foot one with small love handles, glasses held together with duct tape, and an other-worldliness that says everything is all right with his world.

"Bit far from home aren't you?"

"Yup. Need some help." I said, biting into a slice.

"Afraid I'm broke." Doc said morosely.

"Not any more you aren't. Besides, that isn't the kind of help I need."

"I'm not broke?" He said with a surprised expression.

"Nope. I just deposited one hundred thousand dollars into your account." I told him.

"Who we killing?"

"That’s not the kind of help I need either."


"I just need you to throw together a couple of party favors for me. Nothing too fancy and I foot the bill for materials. It doesn't come out of your account. I recently came into a good deal of money."

It took about three beers to explain the circumstances to Doc. I left it up to him to fill in the particulars. When I got back into the chopper, I had his agreement to get off of the mountain as soon as the station could get someone up there to replace him. Pressing as my schedule might be, he would not simply walk off the job. He would meet me the next week in Idaho. I tried to give him fifteen thousand for parts and materials, but he would only take eight. When I asked him about this, he just said "Smith & Edwards." The pilot told me later that it was the name of the largest army surplus store in the western states. If you needed it, they had it. Finding it was something else again.

My next flight was on Northwest. They had an early morning flight I could catch that connected with a puddle jumper to the Brainerd Lakes area. With that in mind, I checked in to one of the airport hotels, and made my reservations. Getting a good night's sleep in Salt Lake was not a problem. The town is effectively dry. The local liquor laws must have been passed in the early eighteen hundreds. Each watering hole is effectively a state-run liquor store. The bar sells you setups for the price of a normal drink. You then have to walk over to the liquor outlet to buy mini-bottles for the price of a Chrysler Le Baron to complete the drink. To avoid this hassle, the locals join private "Locker" clubs. After paying his dues, the member places a bottle in his private locker for the bartender's use. Of course, no one ever brings a bottle, and the bottle that they didn’t bring never runs dry. Yet, somehow with all this hypocrisy, they managed to attract the winter Olympics. Wonders never cease.

Chapter 8

Threats Against President Get Action
FBI and Secret Service Launch Investigation

By: Heather Surlier
Associated News

May 26 - Washington D.C. The Secret Service and high-ranking officials in the FBI today announced an investigation into hate mail sent to the President, and numerous federal and state officials. The mail allegedly originated from members of a national white supremacist organization.

"There is no question that this is a well organized, national effort," said one FBI spokesperson. "We intend to follow up on each and every one of these incidents."

"Threats made against the President are a federal offense. We in the Secret Service take each and every one seriously." Said Jay Wiley, a Secret Service spokesman.

Although we have not seen specific examples of the threats, we can tell you that they were apparently wide spread, crossing federal and state boundaries. Most of the threats appear to have come via email, but some were also faxed. As yet, we have had no statement from the separatist organization.

ã Copyright, Associated News.

For all the reasons stated, the next member of the team was harder to recruit. Angel Christensen was a registered nurse with lots of loving care for her patients and no time for anyone else. Other than being a first class healer, her claim to fame was being quite possibly the best looking woman and the worst sales person in the world.

Crowds Spill into Hayden Lake
Local Lawmen Left Guessing

By: Neil Owens
Northern Idaho Sentinel

May 26 - Unusually large numbers of visitors have descended on the small town of Hayden Lake. Local law-enforcement-officials have been unable to account for the sudden influx.

Chief Rick Palmer said, "Some of them claim to be looking for Gold, and others are waiting around for a rock concert we don't know about. Hell, one of them even tried to put flowers in my hair and kiss me."

The Chief was somewhat shaken when we interviewed him, but he did tell us that so far, things had remained peaceful. He has no immediate plans to arrest anyone, saying, "So far no laws have been broken. We don't have the damn jail space

So, for the moment, the mystery continues.

ã Copyright, Northern Idaho Sentinel. All rights reserved.

A few years ago, in an entrepreneurial fit, I started a small software company. Angel looked to me like a natural salesperson. She was outgoing, loved to talk to people, and could get into any office in the world if a man was in charge. Unfortunately for the company, the clients never bought anything from her. They were afraid that if they did, she would stop coming back. The only solution was for me to marry her. And that, as they say, was the end of a beautiful friendship. She went back to school for her nursing degree, and moved out on graduation day. I couldn't blame her. I was working twenty hour days, and wasn't the easiest person in the world to live with. We kept it on a friendly basis, but there weren't any parts of me that she wanted to have anything to do with.

We met outside the hospital just as she was getting off shift. She was dressed in scrubs and still as beautiful as ever. A lock of her golden hair had fallen out of place and rested across her forehead. Looking at her, I thought again that this was a woman with absolutely nothing wrong with her, except her attitude toward me. I put on a smile, and greeted her.

"Hi beautiful. How have you been?"

"What do you want M?" She said wearily.

"Just to talk. We can talk can't we?"

"Look I've had a long day. I'm not going to do it, what ever it is you want."

"Hey. I have an idea. I'll go back out and come in again."

"It won't make any difference."

"Angel, we aren't married anymore. You don't have to be nasty to me." I thought this last line might be particularly effective.

"I suppose I should count my blessings." She said.

"Come on. It wasn't that bad."

"Ok. Maybe it wasn't most of the time. But you never come around just to ask how I am. You always want something. Now, what is it?"

"Damn, you're hard woman. I just stopped by to see how you were. And already I'm back in trouble. Are you sure we aren't still married?"

She finally smiled, and said "M. I know you. Don't bullshit me."

"Ok. I'm in need of medical attention."

"Check yourself into a hospital."

"It isn't for me. It's a friend of mine. I think he may be hurt bad and I need help."

"I knew it. What's wrong with your friend? And, why don't you check him into a hospital?"

"Well, I'm not sure. I haven't seen him yet. But, if he's alive, I know he'll need help. And you are the best help I know of."

"Oh M. Are you ever going to grow up?"

"I don't know. Say. How are things going at that hospice you started?"

"Things are fine at the hospice. Or they would be if medicine was free and I had more help and fifty hours in every day."

"Would some money help?"

"No. Some money wouldn't help. Lots of money might."

"Darling have I got a deal for you. How about a week of your time for a hundred grand?"

"Learn to say no to drugs M."

"No. I'm serious. One week, one hundred thousand dollars."

"Where would you get that? The last time you came by you needed gas money."

"Well I didn't ask you for it."

"No. But you needed it."

"Well, then I did, but now I don't. Take a look at this here check. It has your name on it."

"M. Are you in trouble?"

"That's what I've been trying to tell you. It isn't me, it's my old buddy McGee."

"But you don't know what's wrong with him."

"That's right."

"Ok. One week, one hundred thousand. I won't get arrested will I?"

"Not unless it's for shaming all the other women in town."

"Don't start M. Just tell me what you want me to do."

For the next hour, we sat over coffee in the staff lounge and I told her about McGee, and the Busted Flush, and Meyer, and Sue. She seemed real interested in Sue. I never figured out why. At the end of the hour, she had the check, and I had her time for a week. As I walked away, I thought about that chapter in the Bible, where God puts enmity between man and woman. It didn't seem like the brightest thing he ever did. This life could be a heaven on earth if men and women could just communicate.

I still had a couple of calls to make if things were going to fall into place. Angel had reminded me of drugs, and their potential. We also needed an exit strategy. No plan is worth a damn if you can't get away clean. I'd think more about that tonight after I checked in with Meyer on the Internet.

My next stop was to see the "Bug Buster," long haul trucker, and American philosopher. We met at a Little America truck stop in Wyoming. He was wired as tight as a champagne cork. But as always, he tended to look on the positive side of life. I asked him to get together a few trusted friends of the road. The fragments of my plan were coming closer together. Take one outrage, mix in the salt of the earth, stir until at a boil, then stand the hell back.

Sub: Time to move

Meyer, I'm hoping things are well. If Sue is OK, jump a plane to Coeur d'Alene. Get me the flight info and I'll meet your plane. We need to do some strategy work. Just make damn sure Sue is safe before you leave.

Our cover story is that we are in town to look for property to buy. Hell, we may even buy some if we need to.


Sub: Flight info

Meet me on Delta flight 788 arr. 5/28 20:10 Coeur d'Alene. All is well. Lenny is taking a week off to stay with Sue.
Remember: Location, location, and location.

Chapter 9


Landowners Worried Over Concert
Porta-potties in short supply

By: Neil Owens
Northern Idaho Sentinel

May 28 - Landowners around the Hayden Lake area are concerned about refuse and ecological damage that may be left in the wake if a rumored concert takes place in the area. Local residents swarmed into the city council meeting last night, emanding to know what precautions the city was taking.

Mayor Lowell Tallmadge, said that he was not aware of any concert planned for the area. The city had however ordered portable sanitary stations placed on city grounds to accommodate the influx of "Dead Heads."

Police Chief Rick Palmer said, "I've asked for additional funds for overtime. What we need right now is traffic control, and an official presence." He went on to say, "We don't want any drug parties, or hooliganism in our town. If these people are coming here for that, they better go elsewhere."

This reporter was able to contact the agency representing the Grateful Dead. While they would not confirm the concert, they also did not deny it. Their only comment being "No S***."

Copyright, Northern Idaho Sentinel. All rights reserved.

Meyer's flight was right on time as it came into Coeur d'Alene. When I asked about his luggage, my esteem for him grew even higher. He was traveling with just what he could carry on a dead run from one terminal to another. We skipped the long lines at baggage claim, and went directly to the parking lot where my Jeep Cherokee rental waited.

A front was coming in, and the clouds that had been light and puffy during the day were turning thick and gray. The local weather guesser predicted a thirty-percent chance of showers for later that night. The temperatures had dropped into the forties, and Meyer shook like a typical Floridian. His cotton slacks were too thin, and his nylon windbreaker was next to useless. I cranked up the heater in the Cherokee and rolled up my window.

"I don't know how people can survive in these frozen wastelands."

"Don't worry Meyer. We'll have you warm and toasty in no time. We can get you some warmer gear tomorrow. Is Sue Ok?"

"Yes, she and Lenny are doing fine."

"We have reservations at the Clark House on Hayden Lake. That will be our base of operations. I've never stayed there, but I hear it's nice."

"As long as the rooms are heated, I'm sure it will be fine."

We drove in silence until the Cherokee warmed up, and Meyer's teeth stopped chattering. The surrounding countryside was crowded with pine trees hiding most of the suburban sprawl. When we finally pulled into what had once been the Clark Mansion, we were both suitably impressed. The grounds consisted of twelve wooded acres, with a large grassy area stretching from the large white colonial down to the lakeshore. The mansion itself was two stories high with dormers along a steep gray roof. I could easily imagine presidents, princes, and the odd billionaire using the place for private meetings and discrete liaisons. And, the rooms were heated, and nicely decorated. We stowed our gear, then met downstairs in the dining room for coffee. I spread a map out between us, and we studied silently until the waitress came.

"Hi, I'm Dawn. I'll be serving you tonight. Our special is fresh mountain trout almandine with new potatoes. For desert, we have apple strudel. Would you like a few minutes to look at the menu?"

While she was waiting for an answer, Dawn put her arm around Meyer's shoulder and rested her hip at his side, looking over his shoulder. With anyone else, any place else, it would have been out of place. With Meyer, it all seemed as natural as breathing. There was something about him that young women trusted and liked. He smiled at her, and for a brief moment, I may as well have been on the other side of the world. My presence wasn't noticed or required.

"What a wonderful child you are Dawn. What would you recommend that we have?" Meyer asked.

"Have a steak. The trout isn't as fresh as we usually serve."

"Thank you. Bring us large steaks, medium, and coffee to drink. We'll let you fill in the details."

Dawn gave him a wink, and walked away toward the kitchen. All I could do was look at Meyer in awe.

"You know Meyer, if you could bottle that, you would make a fortune."

"It's no secret M. Young women like Dawn can sense when you like them for themselves. It's simply a mater of being interested in them."

"But you don't know her from Adam."

"No. I do not. But I can tell you that Dawn is from a well to do family, in spite of which she is working her way through school. Her fiancée will be here to pick her up in two hours, and he has longish brown hair."

"I'll bite. Where did all that come from?"

"Elementary my dear M. Her shoes were well worn, but high priced; obviously purchased while she was still at home with her parents. She didn't write down our order, which tells me she is bright enough to be in school. Yet, while she is too young to be one herself, she was using an expensive drafting pencil preferred by architects. She is wearing an engagement ring, and she had two strands of long brown hair on her shoulder. You may have noticed that she was a blond."

"That doesn't explain how you knew her boyfriend would be here in two hours to pick her up."

"Don't you pay attention to anything M? The menu clearly states that the dining room closes at 11:00 PM. The rooms here are much too expensive for her to be staying at Clark House, and there were no other cars in evidence that she might be likely to drive home in."

"I'm beginning to think I'm blind. I hope your talents extend to planning sieges."

"Well, let's start with first things first, one thing at a time. What exactly is the target of this siege?"

"A compound owned by the Aryan Nation. I know it's here from what Sue said, and what I got over the Internet. I just don't know exactly where."

Dawn came back to our table then, carrying two cups of coffee. Meyer greeted her with the same smile, and thanked her for the service.

"Dawn, we're looking for property in the area. Perhaps you could help us. We've heard that there is a group of skinheads in the area, and we would like to stay away from the area they are in. Do you know where they might be located?"

"Oh sure. Everyone around here knows where they are. We don't like it much, but there isn't anything we can do about it."

She bent over the table and studied the map for a second, then placed a small "x" on the map.

"That's where their compound is. If you stay away from that, you'll be fine."

Before she left again, I said, "How are the classes coming?"

"Oh great! I just finished my finals and I think I did well. I'll graduate next spring."

"Architecture?" Meyer asked her with another smile.

"Yeah, with a minor in structural engineering."

Meyer gave a little chuckle as she walked away. "Oh ye of little faith." He said.

I looked down at the map, and studied the area around the "x." It was fifteen or so miles out. There were roads close by, but we couldn't tell much else. Tomorrow, we would have to do some reconnoitering, and look for a better map. There should be somewhere around to get a U.S.G.S. topological map that showed contour lines.

We split a half bottle of Chateau Neuf du Pape over the steaks, and then finished up with the apple strudel and more coffee. Just before we left to find our beds, a young man with long brown hair pulled up outside. Meyer didn't say a word.

Chapter 10


Squatters rousted from local ranch
Shots fired

By: Neil Owens
Northern Idaho Sentinel

May 29 - Sheriff's deputies removed a small band of squatters from a local ranch yesterday. Three men and two women from Los Angeles claimed that they had a right, by possession, to forty acres of the Lazy T ranch, ten miles east of Hayden.

Deputy Bob Wheeler noted that the group even had a clipping from a California newspaper to back up their claim. After checking with authorities, the deputies
informed the group that they were trespassing on private property, and would
have to leave.

One of the men in the group attempted to pull a gun on the deputy. In the process, the gun discharged, wounding the man's foot. Sheriffs arrested the man, and sent to Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d'Alene, where he is listed in stable condition.

Deputy Wheeler warned, "Don't be fooled by fictitious stories. There isn't much free around here, and you will be arrested if you trespass."

Copyright, 2001, Northern Idaho Sentinel. All rights reserved.

Outfitting Meyer in western wear took up the first hour after breakfast. We managed to find him a few pair of stone washed jeans, and some faded plaid shirts so he wouldn't look like too much of a tenderfoot. I drew the line when it came to getting him fitted for boots. We spent the extra money for a pair of Tony Llama's in soft gray sharkskin. Looking funny is one thing sore feet are another. A warm sheepskin coat finished off the list. He put his city clothes in a bag, and wore the new outfit for our drive in the country. It was clear that he was enjoying his new persona.

"Well podner, whacha think?"

"Meyer. I think you should lose the affectation. For the same reason, I didn't buy you a ten-gallon hat. In contrast to the stereotypical western man portrayed in Midnight Cowboy, people out here just don't talk, walk, dress, or act that way. Jeans aren't a fashion statement. They are what you wear to be comfortable. If you can't get into a place wearing jeans, then it probably wasn't somewhere you wanted to be anyway."

"Ok. I'll behave. What do you think our next move should be?"

I took one look at the hurt expression on Meyer's face and said, "Well, I reckon we should saddle up and mosey on out of town." He could have lit a candle with his smile.

"On a more serious note M, have you heard anything about the computer tinkering we did?"

"No. I really don't expect to. I left several presents on their system. The first one has already been opened. It was a denial of service attack on CERT, the people who keep track of Internet attacks. The next attack should come any time. Mr. Gates has a very low opinion of people who attack his kingdom. In both cases, the FCC and the FBI will track the offenders down to a machine in northern Idaho."

We drove in silence for fifteen beautiful miles. The hillsides were covered with the deep green of pine trees, and the valleys the lush green meadows. A clear blue sky set them both off. We did fine for that short while, and then things got a bit tense.


Larry Sikes looked at his new partner. The man was an animal. He even ate like an animal. His name was "Berg," as in Iceberg. He was big, blond, and greasy. Two weeks ago, the Fremont County Jail had sent Berg walking down the road on his own recognizance. His Brotherhood connections on the inside had landed him a job on the compound as a guard. In Sikes' opinion, they should have let him keep walking.

"What the fuck are you doing Berg? We're supposed to be guarding the gate."

"You guard it wimp. I'm busy."

"Boss man ain't goin to like it."

"Boss man ain't goin to hear about it."

"Look, Berg, put the girly-magazine down and pick up your rifle. We got a job to do here."

"You dissing me boy?"

"No, Berg, I'm trying to help you."

"I think you're dissing me." Berg said getting to his feet. "You want some of me right now pussy?"

"Not now, there's a car coming. Get your goddamn rifle and get over here."

"Fuckin pussy."

Sikes chambered a round in his rifle and stepped out to stop the Jeep.


"Who are you and what do you want?"

"I guess I might be wondering the same thing about you." M said. "Hunting season hasn't opened yet."

"I ask you a question mister. I expect an answer." With that, he leveled the rifle at M.

"Whoa. Slow down there partner. My name is Murphy. We're looking for land in the area. No reason to get alarmed."

"Well, there ain't no land in the area. Turn your ass around and get out of here."

"No problem. If you'll point that thing somewhere else, I'll back this around and we'll leave."

M had just looked over his shoulder to back up when Berg came up to the side of the Jeep. He reached in through the driver's window taking M by the shirt.

"You fuckers want to play? Come on out here. We'll play a bit."

Without missing a beat, M dropped the gearshift into drive, then took a tight grip on Berg's hand and floored the gas pedal. The Jeep lurched forward, throwing Berg sideways into the other guard and knocking them both to the ground. The tires spun, shooting gravel into the pair as M pulled hard on the wheel to do a U-turn. "You might want to get down Meyer. I believe we are about to be shot at." The first blast took out the rear window of the Jeep, exiting through the left side.

"Can you see where we're going while you're scrunched down like that?" Meyer asked.

"No, but I don't expect much traffic." The next round ricocheted off the blacktop as they raced down the highway.

After a minute, M eased up in his seat. "I think it's safe to get up now."

"Tell me M, now that we've seen the enemy what are your plans?"

"Well, my immediate plans are to drive back to the hotel for a lunch. We're expecting guests."

"How can you think about eating at a time like this? We've just been shot at!"

"Yah, but I don't think they really meant it. Besides, after people shoot at you for a while, you learn to eat and sleep when and where you can."

Chapter 11


DoS worm invades Microsoft servers
By Robert Lemos
ZDNet News

June 2, 2001 11:12 AM PT
A program created to automatically flood Microsoft's Web and e-mail servers has been discovered on several corporate networks and may have spread further on the Internet, anti-virus researchers said Friday.

Discovered this week, the worm--dubbed DoS.Storm--infects Microsoft Web servers and then scans for new machines to infect, floods Microsoft's main Web site with data, and sends a deluge of obscene e-mail to an apparently invalid address for Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. "This is one of the trends that we are going to see more and more of: the crossover between the hacking and virus writing, and moving away from e-mail-borne worms," said Vincent Weafer, director of software maker Symantec's anti-virus research center.

The worm spreads by exploiting a known flaw in Microsoft's flagship Web server software, called the Internet Information Service (IIS). The vulnerability, dubbed the "Web server folder traversal" flaw, affects Microsoft IIS 4.0 and 5.0.

Although Symantec researchers found the flaw last October, the security hole had been fixed by a previous patch released in August 2000. Once it infects a server, the worm starts scanning 10 million Internet addresses, looking for more vulnerable servers to infect.

The worm also initiates an attack on Microsoft, sending a flood of data to overwhelm its Web servers. Known as a denial-of-service (DoS) attack, almost 4,000 such attacks take place every week, according to a recent study.

Microsoft Web sites were crippled by a series of DoS attacks in January. In addition, the worm will send a constant stream of e-mail to "" with the message "F**k you!" The address is believed to be invalid, causing the e-mails to bounce back to the sender.

Microsoft representatives were not immediately available for comment.

© 2001 ZD Inc. All Rights Reserved. ZDNet and ZDNet logo are registered trademarks of ZD Inc. © 2000 Ziff Davis Media.
All Rights Reserved.

In the parking lot at the Clark House, Doc sat behind the wheel of a WWII duce-and-a-half towing a camouflaged semi-trailer. He watched with interest as M pulled into the lot, then stepped down, and walked over to the Jeep.

"Don't look now M, but I think the men in black have arrived."

Doc was dressed from head to toe in black, with extra dark Foster Grants to top it off.

"Yo, bro."

"Don't worry too much Meyer. It's only my brother, Doc."

"My god! You mean there are two of you?"

"What in the hell are you dressed up for Doc?"

"It's all part of the persona M. From the looks of your back window, I chose just right. When night falls, I want fade into the shadows."

"Yah. I guess you're right. Doc, meet Meyer, eminent economist and knight errant."

"Hi professor."

"Doc. It is a pleasure to meet you. I hope you aren't too much like your brother."

"Nope, he got the money, I got the good looks and all the brains."

"We'll see how much of the brains you got bro. Let's go in and get a drink. I'll show you the maps."

They walked into the Clark House. M stopped at the front desk to see if they could arrange to have the window on the Jeep fixed while Meyer and Doc headed for the small lounge.

"What do you have in the trailer Doc?"

"A little bit of everything professor. I've got some fine parabolic equipment, and a state of the art speaker system. Also, a two thousand pound bomb."

"I thought we were here to save Travis, not blow the hell out of the place."

"Not to worry professor. I took the liberty of replacing all of the explosives."

"Then what good is it? Not that I can think of anything I'd like to blow up."

"Well professor, do you remember Viet Nam? I once heard a story about…” They turned the corner just before Angel came through the main entrance.

"Hi babe!"

"Don't babe me M. I'm here. Now where is your friend?"

"Well, he hasn't arrived yet. Fact is, we have to go get him. Why don't we get you checked in? We can worry about him when you're comfortable. I've got the adjoining room."

"In your dreams fool."

"Here. Let the bellboy take your bag. Doc just got here. He's in the bar with Meyer. Let's go have a drink with them."

Doc and Meyer were deep in conversation as they joined them in the bar.

"So, what you mean is that sound waves are just like waves in the ocean. They are additive based on phase?"

"That's right professor. Now, if we split the sound waves into component frequencies, and modulate the phase through multiple directional speakers, we get the same sound at the point of intersection. Everywhere else all you can hear is white noise."

"But what if the subject is moving?"

"No problem. I got a radar from an old ground to air missile system. I tweaked it a little, so now it tracks based on a laser signature. All we have to do is keep the subject painted."

"And no one around him can hear a thing?"

"Well, the human ear is a wonderful thing. It can hear a pin drop across the room. It doesn't take much of a sound wave to get it going."


"Meyer, I'd like you to meet Angel. She's our medical team."

Meyer stood up. "Truly a pleasure my dear. How is it you've fallen in with bad company like M?"

"I'm not sure Mr. Meyer. M heard somewhere that 'you are what you eat.' He saw me at a McDonald's and decided I must be hot, fast, cheap, and easy."

"Please, just call me Meyer dear."

"Ok, Meyer. I'm pleased to meet you too. Hello Doc. It's been a while."

"Much too long. I'm glad to see you're here."

They all looked out the window as a psychedelic Volkswagen bus tore through the parking lot billowing smoke behind it. It was painted with flowers, and the stereo could be heard through the windows in the lounge.

"It looks like we've slipped through another time warp." Doc said.

"Not at all my friends," Said a voice from behind them. "That was my fuzz-buster."

They turned to see a neatly dressed Hispanic businessman dressed in a conservative gray suit. He carried an old leather briefcase. His dark brown hair was styled, and he had a trimmed mustache without one hair disturbed. He could easily have been mistaken for a big city lawyer, or a guest host on Fantasy Island.

"Everyone, I'd like you to meet the Medicine Man." M said. "Just call him Enrico."

"Hello all. I hope my assistant didn't disturb your conversation. I find that it helps to have him drive by when ever I have a meeting to attend to. If the law is nearby, they invariably bother him and not me. He's doing his doctoral thesis at Stanford on Stereotype Targeting by law enforcement. He loves it when the pull him over."

"Hello M. How may I be of assistance?"

"We need to disable a rather large force of men. I thought you might be able to help us out."

"How long would you like them to be disabled?"

"Oh. Say forty-eight hours."

"Excellent! This should be an interesting challenge. How would you like to administer the drugs?"

"Some by water, and some by air. I noticed that they have their own well in the compound. But, we also need something more direct, for those who aren't thirsty."

"Might I suggest a skin agent? DMSO to carry the drug into the system, bonded to a sticky resin?"

"That sounds good. What kind of drug can you whip up for us that will carry on those vectors?"

"Probably an alkaloid. Perhaps some Jimson Weed, Datura stramonium, unfortunately, the effective dose is very close to the amount that will cause an overdose. We'll have to add some Lysergic Acid, but that doesn’t pose a problem."

Meyer looked distinctly uncomfortable. "I can't believe I'm listening to this conversation."

"It's a simple choice Meyer" M said. "We can either go in with guns blazing, or we can try something less damaging. Hell, the department of defense is trying the same kind of thing. Good thing too. Enrico only had to come from Dougway. He's working on a DOD contract there."

"Enrico, this is Doc. Aside from being my brother, he's totally reliable. Use him as your point of contact. If you can follow the map, he'll be in that salvaged trailer you see outside. We need to move it in behind the compound. There's an old mine road that comes in from the north with a small mountain in between. It will put you above and behind them on the slope of a hill. The cover is good, but watch yourselves, the guards are armed and they play rough. How much time do you think you'll need?"

"Probably three or four hours to locate what I'll need in town. After that, the timing will be up to you. I'll just leave you my wares, and slip off back to the barracks."

"I'll need at least one night to get my stuff into place." Doc said. "After that, every extra minute is gravy."

"Ok. Doc, you better get going now. There's a map in this package. Tonight, you'll meet up with Will D. He'll find you. Enrico, get whatever you need, mix up your magic, and drop it off with Doc this evening."

"There is the small matter of money M."

"I haven't forgotten Medicine Man. Here's twenty-five grand and a map for you. You can pick up the balance when you deliver."

"Always a pleasure M." And with that, he was gone.

"Doc, we'll be up to see you tomorrow morning. Do you have everything you need?"

"I think so. No, wait a minute. I need power. I've got generators, but I can't run them that close, they make too much noise."

"There's a transmission line that cuts through to the north of the compound. You'll have to step the voltage down from 7,200. And please don't get buck fever tonight. Remember that Will D. will be meeting you after dark."

"No sweat, I can steal a transformer on the way out of town. Don't let him talk you into anything Angel."

"Not a chance."

Five minutes later, the parking lot looked normal again. Across the lawn, they could see the Sheriff's car with lights flashing. It was pulled up behind the Volkswagen bus. The doctoral candidate was spread eagle against the side. He smiled as a dark blue Mercedes glided by.

"Anyone for a swim in the lake?" Angel asked.

"Perhaps not a swim dear, but I do have several papers I've been hoping to read. I'll join you at lakeside. Traveling around with M isn't conducive to study."

"You two go ahead. I've got some more markers to call in, then I think I'll take a nap."

Instead of the nap, M spent the afternoon at Jiffy Print, and hiring cub-scouts to hand out map flyers. It was good to have a crowd to work with, but they were in the wrong place.


"Governor, we need some help." Mayor Tallmadge said. "We got hippies and queers all over the place. If that isn’t bad enough, I got some idiots trying to homestead in the middle of the City Park, and some fool just took a power transformer from the city building."

"Well hell Lowell, what do you want me to do? I can send you some boys from the State Patrol."

"State Patrol Hell! There are flyers all over town announcing a Grateful Dead concert tomorrow up Dry Gulch Canyon. I need crowd control damn it!"

"Like I said, Lowell, what the hell do you want me to do?"

"Call up the guard before someone gets hurt, that's what!"

"You think those people are going to get hurt at a Grateful Dead concert?"

"No you imbecile! Dry Gulch Canyon is where all them friggin Nazis are. I think we're about to have World War III."

"Well shit! Why didn't you say so earlier? I'll have a company of guardsman there in the morning!"

Chapter 12


Doc moved the trailer slowly along the mining road in the canyon northwest of the compound. The road was pitted and rocky, with pine trees crowding in from both sides. He wasn't averse to using the truck to shoulder obstructions out of his way. Still, he had to stop twice to clear fallen trees from the path. The road took one final switchback and curled around the hillside. At the end of the road, he came to rest in a small saddle between two hills in an area that had been clear-cut for a power easement. He walked cautiously east until he could see the compound nestled between two hills below him.

As he looked down from above the compound, he could see the main lodge. It was built from native logs. Surrounding the lodge was a log wall, hip high, with dirt filling the space between the walls. Where windows might have been, there were narrow vertical spaces with thick shutters alongside. They would not provide much of a view, but would be perfect protection if one were repelling a siege.

Between the main lodge and where Doc stood, he could see the top of a dirt-covered bunker. Razor wire ran around the perimeter of the compound, running down the side of both hills, and ending at the fence along the main road. Off to his left, across a tailing dump was the open shaft of an old mine. It looked like it hadn't been mined for a hundred years or so. Probably a silver or gold mine that had run dry, or had never produced.

He walked back to the trailer, and began to set up his gear. His next job would be to tap into the power lines, and setup his speakers and parabolic dishes along the hillsides. As he worked, he occasionally saw guards walking the perimeter below. He was careful not to make too much noise. As evening rolled around, things were still peaceful. They either didn't know he was there, or they didn't care. He decided that a cold meal in the back of the truck would be the best idea, followed by a little ease dropping, and zeroing in his equipment.

Enrico stopped by just before sundown and dropped of two plastic gas cans full of sorrow. Doc placed them safely downwind after the Mercedes idled away down the track. The less he had to do with that stuff, the better he felt.

Being in the forest at night can be the most relaxing thing on earth, or it can be nerve racking. For Doc, it had always been a peaceful experience. He stretched a hammock across the back of the trailer and lay back, listening to the night sounds of the forest. He was just on the edge of a dream when his eyes bulged out.

A hand had come from nowhere to settle snuggly across his mouth. The natural reaction was to shout or scream. He may have tried both, but neither one got past the hand.

"Don't make noise. I'm Will D. You Doc?"

"Shit man! You like to give me a heart attack! Don't do that!"

"Sorry Doc. It's what I'm here to do. Do you think you might live?"

"Not if you keep sneaking up on me."

"Not to worry. M said you would have something from the Medicine Man for me to work with. Did he make it?"

"Ya. That shit's over by the trees in front of the truck. The one with the duct tape is for their well. The other one is full of the sticky stuff."

"Ok. It's ten thirty now, there's no rush. I'll take a look around, but I'm not going into the compound until about one in the morning. I should be back by three or four. No moon tonight, that's good."

"When you get back, I need you to help me with that bomb over there. I want to set it right in front of the main lodge. Think we can get it down there and in place without being seen?"

"Damn. I don't know. How much does it weigh?"

"Don't worry about that, it's almost hollow. The whole thing probably doesn't weigh more than a hundred pounds."

"No sweat. I'll wake you up in plenty of time." As he slipped quietly into the trees, Doc turned to watch him go. There was nothing to see not even a shadow. Doc made a mental note to wake up early. He didn't want his blood pressure skyrocketing again.