Ladies and gentlemen - yeoman - all ships at sea and natives of any stripe lets go to press.


I cannot remember the first dispatches we wrote ... HRI thought them diaries for an unborn son and chucked them into HTML text-boxes , punched-out over Raman and punched-up after midnight. Militia attacks snapped at the Blue-belly dragons-head! We raved media beside the lone-wolf; after the interview with a Militia-man now safe ... after torching a GOOGLE bus ... after snapping a 5.56-cal into the head of a LaRaza bitch politician. Safe or dead. We miked raw-boned interviews and pumped them into the web. Did other Militia night-owls read them , before going on patrol? We knew our own feeling; snatching at yesterdays abomination gave body to a hopeless cause. But, after victory who hopes? What makes an end and marching in triumph what a beginning ... to a last chapter shredded all-the-fuck? Who reads now ?

Lights. Not Tahoe lights -- be hells coldest day before I see them again -- but a snowbirds Christmas bulbs. Chrisakes ... December already. Most windows glow red and green, silver and blue flakes small as a finger nail, those bulbs or pastel winkers from the new Chicago factory. New, like the glass of old whiskey in my hand. Bright bulbs orderly as a Seattle brigade. Squared off, they rim fields of poppy or wooden window-frames ... or dangle like uncertain straggles of Kentucky volunteers shipped to armoured warfare platoons on the Nebraska plains. Honor bright and crisp ... it's what we fought for. Right ? Just yesterday a council historian happened by, wondering about accuracy of the paired 30-mm cannons AGROS sported ... just yesterday ... Wind cross the lake turns ripples into waves and how wave-fronts of Christmas bulbs shimmer. Light formations like allied battalions formed up into columns and gathering before a battle. Distorted formations on the liquid surface mimic the roiling battlefield. Drained. No more gawdsakes .... no more.

Pots clatter inside the patio door. "I'm out here, Mary!" She beagles me about this time every night for nurses ware hoarding all , metal and flesh. " ... no, I've got the wool plaid." Mary knows a nest.

Better than the men who put us here. Us. More than me. North Florida BBQed the last two snowflakes drifting south. Pastels roost above me. I had draped a black & red wool shirt across my shoulders to climb a ladder ... hang the second set of orange and yellow frosties ... my own random weave never lacking style. Still warm. How they sparkle across the lake. Rippling wind does them no justice. Careless bulbs make artistic discipline of the blue and silver light-strings cat-corner my patio and embarrass the pale white peaked washroom window directly across. A single pilgrim labors over the one double-load washer; laundry works glitz-free this time of night and the window-sills red Santa jukes in the Nor'easter whipping south from the Carolina coast.

"Your tea , Dr. Scranton. Earl Grey. Commissary wouldn't send me the decafe, so I mixed half-to-half with apple-juice." Half-to-half ... something of a Boston expression, I think. Watchers all seem Boston bred. Her voice tickles. "Be sporting, Will ... won't ya now? It's my own fav brew. Anyrate best come inside after a taste or the pot will cool. Fresh storm blowing down from the Chesapeake evening weather report claims. Frosty!" She smiles careless. "No reason to drink cold tea."

Business casual. Nurse Mary-Jean means well. Couldn't live without her. The Council thought so ... a nurse, like the green and yellow caplets siting in a paper cup beside the pot. "I'm thinking!"

Her lips tighten and she leans against the patio door. "Seal left a message on your memdex. He never messages on Tuesday ... but, feeling the need ... " Schoolmasters voice trails away fishing the sing-song air ..." ... the sorcerers apprentice ripped you! Called you out! You're a lax Trotsky-slut bastard ... so it seems, and yer latest article for the TOMES CHANGE column ... a piece on mobile warfare reporting yer remember that if forgetting all else ... it's 3 days late." She plays with an orange shawl and wisp of hair. Watching gay colors flutter across the lake. "They didn't stop you from writing."

I can't stop the smile. They. The Militia sub-council for State Security ... the joint Militia/Federal Commission of National Unity ... "The Okhrana , my ever faithful watcher ... yanked me out of the gold vein, out of daily struggle, beyond the human stream where wealth breaths." I drain the liquor, bite into the hot bitter end of the Camel straight. High above elm branches scratch at a black sky.

"Words ... dammit Will just words. Your Militia HRI readers killed 75,000 Blue-bellys after the Silvercoin raid. Went all postal and slaughtered them!"

Well, I think we wouldn't kiss them now would we? And what do numbers mean, after all ... shined-up to a aesthetes gleam. Gleam bitch while unmarked patriot bones rust on a thousand hillsides. Skittering wind cuts hollow paths through the elm. "Judge I was made to deal vengeance just and hot. Had progressive revanchists not murdered half the Sacramento command over poached fish no blood sport would have occurred."

"Enough of your lecture! Sacramento spooled the dying twitch of a boiling fanatic fringe. All hope of victory decayed to bloody submission."

Submit? I think ... don't kid yourself sister. Hate of liberty -- love of slavery -- worship of power festers deep in the Trotsky meme. Even the dead may live again! We all knew that rotted core could not be repaired. "Since Rawls no other piece of progressive fabric, but fringe has been woven. Cripple the strong, dumb the wise, lame the swift. The many-colored fabric is of a piece, so the modern weavers knew from elite Eleanor to beaner slut Ocasio."

Gusts of raw wind saw at the patio. She ... drawing the shawl about her neck. "No longer true ... we live a cold peace. I do, while you live a bad dream. Friends move on; your ex-squeeze had both of her data-cam appreciations submitted last Monday. HRI fans of small-unit tactics accuse you of holding out for a fat Huffington Post check!"

Law of the universe, I think. The trivial replaces the horrific. She knows lots of trivial ... especially those words ... data-cam ... tactics. "Bollocks on the fat-ass bitch." Vassar grads cannot read a report with more than two equations, but they can appreciate subtly all month.

"People say you beat her, to extract the last ounce from that ass."

"Only as needed ..."

Nurse Mary scoffs, and hands me the paper cup with a no-nonsense bottle of lemon-water. Beta-blocker the prescriptions say and I must believe it. "Some pre-teen posters wonder if you ever fought close-in or why HRI even hired you ?"

Hired ... sulfa-drugs taste like 19-th Century German pig-shit! I gag. Reach for the battered pack of Camel Straights and send a long thin irritating stream of grey smoke over the nearest light-bulbs. Frosted too ... those Amazon special buys in silver and white framing entire patios or sheeting down the patio sliding doors. Lights and glass doors those also newly baked in Chicago. Angels of a sort, if seeing through is seeing past.

I feel the warm china-cup nestled in my hand as her fingers brush mine. "The Irishman called again. Chatty sort isn't he? His son had a first boy baby, and somehow you're responsible."

"When a baby gets loose in some womans knickers, well ... somebody is responsible." I turn away my face. "Talked about peas-porridge, pottage and mush I imagine?"

"Nothing of the sort. Obscure mind that... identified his-self as five-leaf-clover and I'm supposed to play along. Seven-leaf five-leaf ... that's odd. Some kind of code? You're copying LeCarre ... tinker, tailor, solder, sailor . Nesting darklings! I will look it up if you chose to be bitchy. Major Bevens will not be pleased ... if I need report ... I'm expected to report infractions ... why haven't you called him back?"

"Him? The Irishman's long dead."

"Black-Irish die hard ... they tell me. That and proton therapy if you can believe his chatter. Bat blind. A Washington snot-poodle ... not even Militia! I hate philosophers more than spys. Christ Will what kind of darkling shit are you pulling us into?" She again touches my hand ...

Us! Nurse Mary responds to constraints ... indeed much more than a nurse. Like unemployed Captains, well appointed Vassar girls either run 3-D print-shops or ... or hire-out their long legs and fingers into the company of spys. Like that after every war Lao-Tzi says.

"If your hands get cold you can keep them to yourself!" Her lips pout, hitting the Camel Straight and she backs away. I am not special, and understand when any Militia DARKLING has been retired the local Judge Advocate assigns him ... or her should a woman so fail her breeding a companion , a filter, a guard, a caretaker or dream-maker as the case required. Assassin if the case requires ... so this nurse-Mary scans my dreams searching for the back-slider within all old Militia supporters; the blind-case who wishes for the ol' days of butchery, liberation from the SNEEZE laws and vengeance against thought-crime hoes. Labeled like side-of-beef ... prime cases, we hundred ... or two-hundred rank-ordered by git I never copied a clean revanchist-klan number from my own dark web. Slipping ... you're slipping bastard! I fumble the cold Zippo metal. Media straining in the new American Republic is ever so competent.

"Yes yes I'll come in shortly. There's a football game broadcast at 9-PM ... Steelers vs Saints and we shouldn't miss it." I kiss her lips softly. Her breasts erotically hidden under starchy-white brush against my chest. The patio door slides almost shut.

Click ... click ... think about it. The numbers ... 1 ... 3 ... 5 ... 7 ... a sequence of matching odds. If I needed to I could find 9 as the last digit of this-mornings pass-code. Punched right out of the noise floor. But ... sometimes you don't need more . Afterthought. "I never heard the call."

"You napped!"

"Old men do naps."

"Bother yourself Will Scranton! You'll sleep through the MOMA tour tomorrow."

Wandering art exhibits advise Darklings and we must show appreciation; trust the Councils concern. "Two stale Rothkos are supposed to excite exactly what? But, don't kid yourself. When we walk and when we watch and even if we sleep ... we always listen."

The alarm clock rings 9-PM. Nurse Mary laughs. "Ding Dong the bitch is dead, what sort of witch will ye take to bed. "

Witch prods me! After the game ... and before the games ... a struggling one I pray. Swatch of her red hair slaps at the glass and I snatch the smoking slim-jim from her fingers. Almost crumbles; that's OKey. A stiff draw makes the tip flame-red. "What do I want? A struggling witch a slippery witch a witch with no hair and no memory and a bare-ass witch stretched across my belly who can roll a fatty one-handed."

She doesn't believe me, I can tell. I think she laughs. Could I tell her what I needed .... shimmering waters to which I can stretch out a hand. Strain baby! Our new Republic has considered everything for the Darklings distemper. Everything except numbers that never fail to escape their ever struggling grasp. The Irishman knows this, as one of the Council. Numbers.

How the war puzzle was settled I truly believe. Nine Militia generals, 3 Blue-Belly warlords, the Mississippi Flotilla Admiral and Air-Marshall Weitz representing G*d knows who had met after firestorms surrounding the Sacramento massacre died away. One week of calculation , one month of wheedling and Young Turks won their point, stopping the slaughter after Rochester and Austin and Santa Barbara had been cumberbunned, drowned in seas of Trotsky-slut blood. Militia rage had been given its head, then yanked-up short. Militia hardliners determined to purify the reassembled Union were stopped ... both battle-hard killers and their media memory. While Russia still occupied Anchorage and New Israel Manhattan, links in Americas novel power-chain were being forged among those 14 republican apostles. The new unity would freshly welcome back 40-million defeated blue-belly and Quislings into the raging trans-national consumer market-place. So much catching up to do against the Euros.

Yet before accepting a mercantile solution, the Darkling Militia and a broad patch of western yeomanry retained influence ... demanded a blood price : the revanchist and still simmering cities of Vicksberg and Portland.

Southron America remained a badlands during most of the civil war. Mex and Colombian cartels swam rafts of Haitian, Cubano and Brasil niggars into the chaos muling narcotics, money and guns. Low country Bantu peddled the wares into mid-Atlantic cities and steadily gained power-bases until IDF aircraft began blasting their honey-holes. Land-hungry narco-kings penetrated far up the Mississippi ... as far as Vicksberg before the final Blue-belly collapse. Bantu had lawlessly pillaged the city for fifteen months, finally declaring THE NEGRO REPUBLIC OF ETHIOP , built a cinder-block temple worshiping a crocodile god and from the local marijuana crop producing paper coinage. A prime-cut cannibal market was well known to flourish south of Clay Street. The Vicksberg bone was given the Mississippi Flotilla.

Pit-bull Admirals snarled. War as ye may, Annapolis grads had not lost a step. Their 76-mm armed Catboats chewed the Vicksberg waterfront and behind a wall of 25-mm spewing MOLESTORS 9,000 Negro Marines landed, cleared snipers and stormed the Eastern hillside. No quarter was taken ... and none given ... Marines killed 25,000 hostiles before the red tide ebbed.

Arrogant, smarmy, self-satisfied Portland smoldered for months in its own ruins. Loutish, belligerent ANTIFA mobs had controlled the western ridge since the city police chief and mayor got trapped by a MOBSTER raid on a poppy-den east of the river fucking their companion pigs and declaring no Militia woman their equal. Deer-rifle toting Oregon farmers surround the city, starving out the less dedicated fellow-travelers and butchering die-hards ... wheat-grass gym by fern-bar by micro-brewery by used book store. Makes ya tired; Militia soldiers killed willingly. Block by block Portland burned, and firemen pulled bodies of Antifa, ISIS, BP, NOI, Spartacists and Wobbles from the ashes. After four months a pack of 900 howling progressives as starved of hope as they were of food formed-up on the north side & charged a double firing line of farmers at Union Station. To the wailing of steam engines Willamette River ran blood red ; to a man these fanatics were slaughtered and clipped ears decorated the water-front.

America finally united. Then the Militia Council ... now a multi-reconstituted Federal Agency came after us. "Popcorn?"

The squads that rounded us up were called Polaroids ... a mis-allusion to missing light or more properly to a cycle mis-phased. Really, best not to live beyond your time and thus become part of the clean-up. Pleasant professional men, civilians, they projected strength, avoided scenes and reported you promptly to their masters unbound and un-bloodied. Our masters also ... military men drawing very straight lines. Run? To whom ? All, but the most hard-case republican-sovereigns were parted-out to a tranche of urban gulags far from battle sites ... where patriots sometimes gathered ... and even farther from the political hubs of Philadelphia, Seattle and Denver.

"With butter, but we have to eat the local salt. It's full of nitrates!"

"Utah train derailed again ...?"

Stiletto silence. "This month most trains are headed north." I fuss with a bottle of raw Chianti while nurse Mary sorts through her filters. "Well not like it's a big secret, the trains. HRI did a spread on tank-hauling flatbeds this morning and claimed the Pickets carried new 90-mm hyper-velocity main-guns." She bites at the words like bad licorice. "You haven't read HRI today have you ? Be like that ! An old story, actually with the Brit Canadien government sending in raiders. They are determined to recover Vancouver and America will have to fight to keep it."

"Fight? Brits ? Why bother? The dank Molson attitude discourages while too many Chinese roam Vancouver for my taste. And their women are dragons! Experienced ten-thousand years in corruption. Told Banski that. Kinda like mixing nitrates in salt."

"Way different Bunco! Florida salt comes free with the nitrate mines ... it just seeps in and the mining company must wash it out. We eat the wash ... makes you feel self-reliant."

Click. Not everything that seeps is free ... I think . A salt taste sticks to my tongue. Patio glass door closes behind me. Inside, my flat sounds & feels bigger than from the patio or garden. Nothing special ... living-room, dining-room, study, kitchen ... a fire-log toasts weak red light. I strip away the hunting shirt , snatch a cola and turn on the kitchen lights. Nurse Mary has a suite tacked aside mine .... her music, retro a blessing ... her kitten a silent pest. My bed or hers and the cat will sleep on my chest if allowed. Mary sleeps as she pleases and does not fear my fight/flight taboos.

I call out. "Cheddar or Swiss?"


Major Bevens -- a bitter twice wounded peasant -- may snarl , but our confinement becomes more gentile. Gates to the green, tree-lined compound had sported guards when I arrived. Crippled veterans still killed from vengeance ... I never remember a jury convicting. After a year men forget ... not women, but they forget death. Except for the 10 acre woodlot straddling the lakes south-side a wrought-iron fence surrounds the compound ; only an old man would lack strength to scale it. I drive in-and-out, only the Jeep complaining over speed-bumps. The MOMA bus too will drive right into the compound and none check the passengers. A retired reporter may be connected or comfortable or free ... pick any two.

"Give you Steelers and 6."

"Eight." Gone is the nurse. Couch fabric feels modern and mysterious. Marys black hair spills over my shoulder and her bare toes tickle. She wears my jelly-bean necklace, beige jeans and a braless lamb sweater, and has curled-up between my legs with her head resting on my chest turned just enough to catch bits of the 60" video screen. The popcorn salt does indeed taste like gunpowder, beneath the lamby sweater a swollen sensitive nipple responds torment silent and worldly to the gold clip and the Steelers have racked up a quick 13 points .

Odd number strings extend unbroken; my internal eye winks. Rogero Street bawds run them out every time a knee twitches. The gawds play with us and with their numbers and we cannot be smart with them; Rothko the faggot bitch, oozing melted snow colors. Why do exhibits always pimp him like a whores best tit ? If Klees Balloon wasn't on the program damned-straight I would sleep though it. Who got lucky? Nurse Mary with her freshly painted black lipstick raving silent carnality. Shouts without speaking words unlike tomorrows Greyhound belching noise. Did the Irishman know I'd think about fortune warm as a chocolate mug and steaming sausage served at the Plutos Plunge cafe ?


Six violet-tinted head-light beams scatter from the foggy rain ... wiper-blades slap at thunder ... drunk shouts from open windows bellow above Terrapin Station ... it was a great thing, the faded many-wheeled Greyhound . Hell bent on reviving house-bound sinners and MOCA arts the devil-bus shambling reconstructed frame comes rambling over the narrow tree-lined compound passages snatching without really stopping one stuffed mushroom umbrella after another ... not hunting us down , but gathering like the hippo in Dr Rat gathered lazy, but sharp-beaked pelicans when humans intruded ... and swinging fenders wide at the corners dares rose-bushes to keep their yellow blooms.

Fuck. Do I really want to see another brutish WW2 Picasso? Shouts from friends, shouts from strangers heavily fueled with the trips 3rd bloody-Mary swing the bus into view. Bloody red-arsed Mary left whimpering into my goose-down. Last of my fuming Camel Straight flips into the grass; I'm ready with trench, farmer shoes , fresh morning copies under my left arm of ARLINGTON STURMER and REGENCY SPARTACIST -- two of the dozen poly-rags that had grown locally after the new Federal FCC mocked & locked-down internet messaging -- and spare pack of Cubano manufactured fags. Wallet too, primed with blue Militia-chits that replace all but $20 real money. Those and the Colt 38-cal revolver snugged beneath straps of my painters pants. Not everyone who knows me likes me. Federal councils have taken the Euro-view ... that only government may practice violence against its least desirable citizens. Self-defense serves the citizens new masters and is thus defended.

A burnt-out patch of patio leaves marks my 3-AM snatch at code-book memes, looks and passing phrases and the fag-butt that powered it. Paranoid? Wishful imagination? Unlikely odds would not be the first false flag sprung from a rotted network of reporters, line officers and hobos. I shake my head, look back thru the patio-door glass, whisper a curse ... then venture my gate open ... slippery grass and the nearby whine of AC units. I leap to the rubber-soled entry as the bus sweeps by; toll, ID, permissions, weapons scan ... all auto-magically recorded by a data-bar above the youngish Negro driver.

"Pleasure to see you again Dr. Scranton. Rain's in Spain, but MOCA rarely showers a prize like the current showing."

"That so? Same at'cha Mr. Betters. Slippery driving no doubt. Is the toilet open?"

Rolling his eyes ... shaking head ... "Body-builder and Ms Forthwright are at it again. She killed three white Russians, rolled 4-7s and ya know what cheap money does for a woman! Whatever you need better save it till we stop at the transit station." Driver wears a union cap, chrome 357-cal strapped to his chest and a look of casual watching intensity and would have pointed to a seat if the ill-kept Jew hadn't shouted.

"Sit beside me , pilgrim. Call me Micha. New here arent'ch? Mebby not! Best view from the front seats." He hunches toward the window making room ... "Can't figure where you hide the piece so ya gotta be worth something."

Sliding in ... "Yeah you too ... how's the chess column?" Micha is working thru Caruana vs Gukesh on the back page of PVP. Jews publish most of the local rags and Ponte Vedre Pederast takes the plum for hottest new text-cherry.

Micha grins. His black-and-silver pigtail loops on his right shoulder and the hook-nose seems everywhere his steel-framed eyes search. "The Najdorf smothered him. Can't play NxBb5 so he's screwed; see ... see ! so much for an early a-6!"

"Yo Scranton. The Jew abstract enough for ya," whoops from the craps table fixed port-side rear where teen-couples grope on a standard bus. Not on our Greyhound, and not farther back at the bar or velvet blackjack table nor in the ceramic bathrooms. Only top-tit for the MOCA revelers!

I nod at the red-nosed ex-fighter-pilot gone to fat. His blonde junkie bimbo who might have been 17 last April gives a one-finger salute and tit-flashes a pair of well-used 36s. "Not say'n much are ya scrambleman. Best chew thru a bloody Mary," she snickers. "We're all bozos on this buss." And tosses two-Oz of over-spiced rum at my head. An old man in loafers and check-pants jumps up heading for the mens-room. Couples near us ... as arty people come in pairs ... break into a sing-along to RUBY TUESDAY , Micha catches the flying bottle, pops the cap and swigs it ...

"... yesterday can't matter cause it's gone ..."

Our last passenger -- a trim woman daring mid-age in brown skirt , busty silk, Coachbag and box hat flys in beneath a spray of raindrops and pays with cash; Mr Betters mumbles an apology , but takes the 10-spot and returns no change. She takes the seat behind us, and shaking rain from a leather cape removes all threat that we should remain dry.

"Easy-8 ... place your bets now place your bets ... Easy-8", calls the craps-man, as our Greyhound swings out from the compound.

"Do you take it for an evil sign, this fierce rain before a show of abstract art," Micha opinions raising his eyes from the lurid, water-splat front page of PVP. "I heard Mr Betters claim a European source for rains power, but people say Baselitz would only paint nudes in monochrome during a thunderstorm." He shoots a glance of pure venom at the women behind us. "I draw as well as publish true emotion. "

Shocking Dick Tracy, I think. "True enough ... never trust a wet artist, but who on this bus would do worse?"

"Plenty would." Micha eye sweeps back-of-the-bus revelers. "Like Shands ER treating bullet holes with licorice sticks ... because the color matches."

"Bullshit Spenser," says the high cheekbones and pouty lips leaning over our seats. " I am Helen and I could not sketch a worse un-treatable atrocity than the front page of that perverse rag. What is it? Your Rosemarys Baby! A Christian cross -- dear Lord -- stuck in a pigs bladder jug of urine!" Her fingers are quick-as-sparks popping a Chesterfield from a gold cigarette case and blowing thin gray streams of irritation over the page-inked art. "I see there's a watersplat directly upon the pigs eye. Crap soaked through! May he go blind in hell!"

"And you madam may soak your bladder, while I wash your potty-mouth."

"Wash me? Not after 4-martinis, Spenser." Her right hand raises .. I think to slap Michas stubbled face.

"Snake-eyes," croons the craps-man above rake-hiss.

Some of the 24 passengers have come standing, cocktails in hand to watch and iPAD our fray. But, another drunken U-TUBE video may not affect my future. I finger pocket cell-phone. It's been rooted, loggers removed so I can expect 11 seconds of unshadowed transmission on TOR to announce my presence. "Barman ... drinks here!" Sharply spoken. "Yea gawds ... Helen ... Micha ..." I push them apart thinking nonsense. "We zoom to chaos on wet rubber wings. Must feathers fly?"

A roar of thunder announces the pothole chirping five-way intersection through which our Greyhound races into a maze of intersecting 4-lanes, past a pair of big-boxes riddled by leafless trees, over an optimistic swooping concrete spillway and belching rain-quenched retread fire through a curtain of road-brine dives alongside a pig-snouted Kenworth cement truck onto the six-lane cross-town express.


Our Greyhound rocks into place beside the KWOPPER, traffic light both ways on the rain-swept freeway, tires hissing at the slick concrete and our onboard stereo breaks into DIXIE CHICKEN. Boris too. "Your bones feel lucky, Scranton," raps the gravel-edged craps-table voice.

Not a question exactly ... or a challenge, but I knew the field player who owned it. "Racing a 40-YO magic bus against a cement truck toward Mathews Bridge on a speedway known for hydroplaning ... yeah I feel lucky as a November neon goose chancing the Chesapeake flyway."

"What kinda answer you make ," mugs the thug. I'd seen him before, betting craps even money against the bus casino x3 payoff when we visited gun-shows. He fingers a stack of yellow chips. "No good driving a road like this. I report to ..."

A fat south-bound Cadillac swerves to the berm and we rush by. "Tell the KWopper to move over. I can smell his breath."

Boris ruts down a bus window and throws a finger. "Ha what a joker you are. One of your Darkling trucker friends ... no?" Concrete strip malls tumble behind us, washed clean beside funeral homes promising sea burial and empty brick-sided Baptist churches.

"Woot ... Woot" growl the black-bildging KWopper pipes.

Rain pellets Boris face dissing the Kenworth alongside ... hub-to-hub ... window to windows ... water-skin from the two massive front grills joining to a smooth sweeping curve , beating up a fume-cloud stinking of salt and slicing down the expressway razor-edged spray meant for the Gulf-Stream, but no longer.

Tires hiss; trucks red-strip rotating cylinder grinds advertising .... WE MIX YOUR TRIX

Georges tweedy jacket heaves over his belly ; sneering ... "bastard won't live till MLK!" Boris fat ill-formed slacks drag the floor. And if he wasn't a talent scout for Nikitins Kremlin then he was just a great fan of imported Volga sausage and meaty Militia data-flow. If he were a Brit or slant an Everglades gulag would chew his ass; but, the Russians were Militia pals ... along the Sacramento River even fought beside us. After the war Russian gropers never got the wrist-slap they deserved. So with Boris. "Maybe your devoted Council prepares for you a new pair of cement shoes ... ha hahaha ..."

Drivers lights flash above and Mr Betters voice snaps out. "All passengers return to your seats. Buckle up Boscos we're in for bad weather."

"What does he see, Micha?" I release a small silver flask from a breast pocket and swig. Pass it over ... "Cars are few, MOMA won't open for another hour and Helen's strapped in too tight to share this Wild Turkey."

"Moving kinda fast, busboy," whines a teen queen with blue hair and gamblers ruin face. Her iPod snaps away at the hazy white cloud above Mr Better head."

"Good golly Ms Molly you'll get the poor boy shot," sings an old women with her bald head scarfed.

"No shit Sherlock," pipes back as he holds up the fatty for inspection. Snap ... Snap Snap ...

Helens hand clamps on my neck. "At least it's not Polaroid. Hand over the flask, Buster."

Boris craps out. He raises ivory dice-cup over his head shaking it madly! "Place your bets scrambleman ... when did you ever sit out a storm? HRI still pays you ... no !"

Boris talks too much or knows too little; he has this much right. Space between the Kenworth and our bus ... racing along together .... sucked them together just because the less space you have the more it sucks; we can't drive on like this, pushing one pilgrim GM after another pretending Arizona only made Fords from the 2nd lane and into the side-street exits.

"So you're a darkling," Micha grumbles. He seems to know the trade. "Officer ..? Where did you fight?"


"So you're ... you're a writer! Need I guess ... pro-militia. "


"Your own website?" I say nothing. He's hunched over, trying to buckle his seat-belt and light a Marlboro. As a child of Abraham he does not care that we fly into the void. "Who did you piss off ," he raps crisply. "I knew a couple IDF girls who got tired of the drama long before bullets stopped flying."

"Lead or silver, bullets have never stopped flying."

"Oh ... I see .. one of those ... the Militia cardcore that never liked Jews."

"Weitz ... Weinstein ..." I snack on the Chesterfield Helen has passed over. Has a nice draw , but tastes like teen tit.

Glowering ... "Like I said ... never liked Jews."

"You mean hated Jews original sin ... making law precede culture? Intuitions been steaming around the corner since Ya'veh dropped the oxcart on Uzzah. One after another Trotsky-slut rules even Baptists saved-by-faith had to follow. Thislaw thatlaw mylaw ... every tyrants back-door to ethics."

Michas black eyes gleam. "Can you wonder why we hated you?"

Greyhound darts under Cesery overpass and into a bridge view; eyes see what they believe. A north-bound Green van spins-out pinning itself to the guard-rail and spilling a stream of orange flame. Top of Mathews bridge ironwork has vanished in a white squall; before us red/blue bubble-lights lead a short line of water-struck pilgrims to the right lane and would have plunged them into JONES COLLEGE if someone had remembered to unlock a door.

"He won't try it," puffs Micha wide eye. The Chesterfield does not please him. Helen snatches it back.

"Copper's the law," I exclaim !

Micha releases a long low whistle. "But, his brakes are Ford."

"Both ways, eh ? I met a defense attorney who thought like that ... and lost his head ... "

"Button up Boscos," shouts our loudspeaker and the Greyhound leaps ahead. Not that it makes sense, but we catch the Kenworth Detroit diesel shitfaced, truckers COORS LIGHT saluting as we pass. Greyhound grabs empty space, grabs another and slews left into the second lane, pounding Mixers grill with tailspray and slipping round ass-end of the car-line so cautiously led by the bubble-top black & white. I can see the road for the first time. I can see how totally vanished is the top of Mathews Bridge, red-iron beams melding into a cloud and the illusion plays out that the entire bridge roadway twists in the storm.

"Eat water tinman," shouts Mr Betters as he hurtles ahead our Greyhounds racing legs! Not what you might think from the cautious driver of a Militia pleasure bus, but his bright young-mans face has assembled a devils learing grin.

Micha rumples his satch, feeling for lost history, but doesn't have time. Our Greyhound lurches right grinding gears, feeling for the non-existent guardrail while punishing a rising grade. Metal scrapes and tears and screeches. We are both thrown toward the window, thrown together and Helen unbuckled and leaning ... listening ... is thrown tumbling ass-over-cups ... into our laps.

All together, in one instant our Greyhound veers left ... tickling the outside lane we enter fuzzy grey white-out top of the bridge, and belching Detroit diesel fury the cement truck shears by our portside. Cab mixer and cones fly by in a flash of red-stripe nipping at our space, clipping the bus-mirror, ripping the Kenworths bumper and diving ahead. Brakes slap ... slap ... slap on our bus ... skidding fractions slower ... behind ... hearing the ever-so-fragile SNACK of metal-on-metal. Once a road-king and prince of the foundation workers art now now an airborne red-stripe in our front windshield.

"Gawdamnthe bastard!"

Helen screams! I flew once in a darkened kitchen after tripping over a big sleeping dog that stood up throwing me across the room into a glass-pane door. "Glass," is all I manage! We fly now lost pilgrims I think hotly Helen ,Micha and me tangled together in a cage of water and distorted liquid forms, a sphere, a cylinder a tumble-home ... moving 'round in chaos as iron-colored winds swirl.

You wouldn't think it, that a fender-bump has unseated cement truck from roadway on water-wings born by the wind. The Kenworth flips in a twisted liquid tunnel across our Greyhounds path, all six violet headlight beams paint its death-spiral ten chrome-edge wheels spinning madly smashes grill first into the bridge railing ... a clear shock of sparks and wet fire ... and spewing torn metal parts and drifting cement lathe dives for the St Johns River 200 feet below. A machine in all its parts dead before an engine piston tears free of its shaft and comes ripping through the drivers face.

Driving blind, skidding side-to-side the white-out clears. "Bastard tried driving us off the bridge," Mr Betters shouts into the bus speakers.

We have been shaken back into our bench with Helen sprawled across our knees. She struggles to wedge between us; her hands grip what they can, but skirt never bares a knee.

"Seen quicker. I drove an AGRO in the Peninsula campaign," recalls Micha, feeding Helen the last of the silver flask.

"Tacoma bridges are steeper, and against MOLESTORS the Blue-Belly truck bombers worked in pairs," I recall ...

Mr Betters has clamped a death-grip onto the steering-wheel and brought the bus rear end onto the broken painted stripes, wrestling a'distance rubber treads , diving for speed into the gentle curve of Mathews Bridge south end. And though his cap and 357-cal remain in place and the professionals smile returned to a buff face AFAICT he has not looked at the road since we entered white-out.

What magic our Greyhound might have held vanished with the insane concrete mixers plunge. Chaos rules behind us, and pilgrims crawl from beneath tables once chip-heavy under a dealers gaze , but no longer. Was our Greyhound still diesel powered transit, or a hate-driven comet searing a path through circles of Hades? Were we really still alive?

Helen will have none of it. "Bravo, my darklings," she croons firmly planted between Micha and me ... a woman composed, knees together and plucking modestly at her A-line. "Such an uncontrollable pair. While assassin truckers plunge to their doom, you piss on walls of your own making to see who splatters most high. No wonder Council shuffled you off."

"Darkling, you Micha," I say astonished?

"Well, certainly not as obvious as the ex-editor of bloody-handed HRI."

Did he know from the start? "Words, Micha only words ... starting with SNEEZE and ending with cumberbunne. Words carry the Logo, but the listener may unpack them according to his own heart. And you ... a nice Jewish boy ... as surely yourself?"

Slower now, our Greyhound 'round a gentle curve and driver chats to his headset. No vehicles travel with or against us, our football stadium looms to the east and a copse of birch quietly shed white rain. Has Mathews bridge really prepared us for the city? Instead of traffic lights at the 4-way intersection marking Mathews Bridge south end a white-belted gendarme parades a blue suit ... and discouraging other solid lanes of traffic waves us through. Driver whispers furiously and slows to a crawl; gears I didn't know the Greyhound had grind away. Straggles of homeless leer through our bus windows ... some stop their pushcarts to spit at us. Back of our Greyhound pilgrims cry and curse. Glass shatters. Blackjack dealer is punching a girl in the face; the crapsman has gone down under the weight of 4 passengers pounding him senseless. Something about lost money I hear one pilgrim scream.

"Did you need to lose discipline, go postal and call out that word," Micha snipes?

Did Judas count his silver? I have struck men for asking less. Great breathing ... then ... "With headless defenders, legless generals and armless servants all about me, I could not think of another word to say."

"Then you were a victim ...?"

"Fuck ... !" Helen lights my Camel Straight and her own. "And you? Where did you preach sedition? Who was inflamed? What money-seam or fighting words did the Council think ... unfortunate?"

"How like a gentile, to believe verbal or financial sins are a Jews worst crime. The ancients knew better when they accused us of killing Christ."

"Who was your Christ?"

"Did you know medieval Jews paraded young Christian boys across Rumania and into the Califs butt-fuck brothels?" I say nothing which seems to please Micha. "Who what where why ... well it's no mystery. My Christ was a pretentious Trotsky-slut bitch from the Spartacist hives of Manhattan. She claimed to represent the socialist spread on both Long Island and Manhattan in the Blue-Belly Congress, and expected to do the same now. Driaoca Siocort EzAlexan she called herself ... big eyes big mouth big lips ... a real shiksah. Clever bitch! Called herself a Portugee, but had beaner tattooed on her ass."

"She fit right in ...?"

"Like the ace-of-spades. I'd never seen a political district ... New Yorks 14-th ... Gerrymanded so bad ... took a bridge over Long Island sound to hold it together. A bitch district make lizard weep, held by the truckers darling of I-678 ! Fact was she ran Jamaican drugs for the Harlem mafia ... and was Manhattans best blojob and Long Islands juicy lay while Federal mongrelizers picked up her tab.

"What did she want?"

"What all the Blue-Bellys wanted ... power! Jewish New York was under IDF control when our Militia military came calling to negotiate surrender. I came as a Captain ... intelligence service ... a velvet hand on a very politically sensitive nerve. Federals were to be integrated with both the IDF and the Militia. "

"Surely NYC councilmen knew the stakes. Jews controlling Jews."

"NYC Jews aren't all that smart. Inbred .... IDF agents had imprisoned 500 for sedition. Zionists are like that! " Micha drifts fitful, eyeing a pack of wandering young niggars at a street corner. Passing, he catches their eye ... a flaming bottle of rotgut flys willingly and smashes against our rear bumper, but flames stay behind us. Curses too ... angry ... I see the muzzle of Michas GLOCK-38 for the first time. Now our faces lock together. "At our first meeting EzAlexan demanded both IDF and Militia leave New York city. She denounced malehood and demanded a seat at Council! She promised snipers and assassins otherwise, and attacks by deep-cover agents on Militia families. Big red mouth big tits would always get her what she demanded; that's the feral meme! "

"She understood her side lost the war."

"Her socialist side never loses; they would kick dirt at you from the grave. When our second meeting started, in a CCNY physics lecture hall both colonels leading our negotiators seemed confused. Imagine that ... uncertain in the face of evil. EzAlexan wore a mini and no bra under a silk halter ... it said fuck you. It said I'm the big tit and aren't you a lucky guy. As I remember I came face-up to her ... and put three 9mm FMJs between her eyes. Damn her head exploded! She was dead before she was surprised. Militiamen at the negotiating table cheered as I walked out. That afternoon Council "gentlemen" found me at the main NYC library ... found and escorted I was with a one-way ticket to St Augustine muni airport. One shirt one trow one pair of socks ... no battery charger for my iPOD ... it was an offer I could not refuse."

With the left-front brake banging our Greyhound muscles into the Jacksonville bus terminal. For the febs, felons, spaz and fools surrounding the glassy terminal building could'a been Karachi ... could'a been Bombay ... could'a been Abuja spewing Blaxonvilles bad juju into the asphalt arteries of Duval County. Ragged pants, baggy camo-jackets, torn white sport-coats of a nouveau leisure class complete with back-packs and sit-upons .... this is the mongrel tribe that greets our Greyhound with howls of anguish as they wait for any bus, but ours. You couldn't find a white woman in the mob, and the rare suit addressed more panhandlers than an Alaskan gold-mine. A beggar raps his wooden stick against our windows and they do not open. A crying teen queen slams hers shut while her boyfriend also camo-dressed examines her bare knees.

"All out that's getting about," announces Mr Betters. He has opened the coach door , and unclipped the catch on his 357-cal shoulder holster; he's looking for trouble.

Shock catches me unaware. I jerk up. "I remember, Micha, just before the bomb-blasts started ... I was taking to ..." Shock ends when a tramp tries forcing the doorway, and Mr Betters tumbles him off with a chest-kick WWC would approve. I look around. Helen and Micha stare at me as if I'd just announced the discovery that gravitation is the 4-th harmonic of a proto-electroweak force raging the early universe, but done-in by inflation. Foolish thought, Bosco I think. Thinking about who said what to whom before the world exploded. But, Helen and Michas faces show new sadness. Then.

"What's the beef with MOCA?"

"Chicken, eh? That's the new work by Okumbzu Jefferson, that portrays the Militia as blackened jerk chicken ... the severed heads all have Jewish noses."

"Heads? Well that's a bird of a different feather. I'm game if you are, Micha."

"Call me shortstop. We can catch the mono from here, cross-river, for breakfast at the Abalone Sunrise. Their champagne poached eggs on-the-half-shell are not to be missed. "

Helen purrs and I grumble. "Desertion! What's wrong, guys. You have something against shitty Rothko?"

"Vote for us," chimes Helen. Turning to Micha ..."Will can see for himself, if he moves left."

"Hard for an singleton unreconstructed Militiaman."

"Give him a copy of your new-left rag. The artwork's sure to please."

With that advice and a few quick steps Micha and Helen depart our Greyhound , hand-in-hand ... joined at the hip and vanish into ragged throngs. A most unusual romance, I think. Hardly started, before they're shacking up. Not a prelim mocha and lemon-cake at Starbucks. Forget dinner and a movie. Hells bells they hardly spoke to each-other. I hold Michas rag in my left hand as Mr Betters lurches our bus though the crowd and onto Lauri.

"The blue-hair goth-girl appears at my shoulder. "All alone by the telephone! Need a date danger ranger?"

"Afraid I'm booked up this week. Try the crapsman ... if you can get him to wake up."

Five grim blocks away Mr Betters eases our Greyhound into a HANDICAP PARKING ONLY space alongside NEEDLE PARK. Rags and bags and coffee-cups litter the torn grass. Junkies live here and a bus will not wake them. Jacksonville feeds, fondles and coddles its drug addicts like Spokane does its fat white dykes ... or pearls-of-pleasure if you believe Spokane council. Jacksonvilles Baptist rulers ceded drug-addicts a park rather than seeing them at church. Across the street MOCAs lunchroom windows stare out at the junkies while above four floors of modern art hide behind gray stone and a lurid splash-banner announcing in orange and red the brash new traveling art exhibit.

"That's special for you Dr Scranton," chimes our busman. He grins, but watchmen employed as drivers will do that. "The Bible says one good brushstroke destroys an army of chariots."

Did Saul really say that? "Indeed Mr Betters, though I believe they can find a better special " .... NEEDLE PARK appears emptied of humanity in this morning rain. If you think of a park an image shines of kids and dogs, strollers , food baskets and the speckled play of sunlight. How different has this nest of despair been populated; lounging junkies, stoned junkies, junkies mumbling to the devils that bait them ; under trees a few blindmen wait for St Michaels kitchen to open. Two pimps and their whores surround the bronze statue. An urban park, this, coming into its full shit-stained alcohol flavored glory. I count the inhabitants ... 22 ... nothing there for me . A quad of yellow taxis appear to release morning-shift MOCA employees.

Other pilgrims push at my back. "You will return at 3-PM ," I ask Mr Betters ?

"If the creek don't rise."

It's still raining, I think. He's a kidder .... or am I ? My feet feel heavy, balancing on the bus steps and my head woozy. What have I really seen calling the god of odds? Steady old man ... they will need you once again. I clasp at the chrome pillbox at my neck: chemicals of last resort if my legs suddenly will not carry me. Damnable resort not a mans ... that, the mad scramble over rocky ground with 7.62 FMJs chipping at your bootheels. My breath catches a burn. Damnable that hope remains, even as the rain pelts down so with trench belted, Apple-cap slanted off my forehead, Michas art-rag tucked under my left arm and umbrella grasped firmly in my left hand I jump from the Greyhound over a sleeping junkie and onto Needle Parks unforgiving sidewalk.



Kaleidoscope, eh,   this Jacksonville  peep shifting, noisy and  washed pale. I wince, as a  kneecap chipped by Federal FMJs complains. "Goth-girl!" She ...  short black leather and naked throat had got out first and stands  handsomely where-ever I intend to walk.

"Swath-girl, not goth-girl Bosco," trills  her  longing voice. "Swath ya know, like the Grim Reaper cuts a swath?" The reefer-tip burns red.  "Your friends ditched you, but pink hair makes me flare no dare," she manages without the least dada embarrassed pink cheeks.

"Friends?"  I fumble for a word. Pale ten-story tombstones of central Jacksonville squeeze me from three sides.  Graveyards close a mans mouth.   Zippo fails on a damp  Camel Straight.  I hack,  "ever wish for sunny weather,"  and  cringe under the Hawaiian flap-cap as a stream of bus-art passengers push us along. Splat ... splat the rain does not care.

Bogarting the lefty  she takes my  right arm, leading ...  "You're a man in need of company.  Tell me you're not. Ha!  Like my lipstick? Walk to the corner with me. We can cross to MOCA ... or snark a  hotel room and fuck." Gusty rain whips under her half-trench, against bare white knees that do not care. "The Omni  doesn't check wedding rings."

Or death certificates, I think.  Last week three  cold white hookers had been pulled from a 13th story pain-room.  Omni  clerks had no room-record, and never saw the Haitian candy-man who vandalized the coal-burners, cutting off  nipples and stuffing their cunts  with enough frog-skin make an Amazon princess proud.  Swaths nipples play peek-a-boo under sheer silk. "Too fast  swell little girl, I hardly know you."  Can't remember which  sig manual, but the line was ...fuck a hotel room and snark ... and hair blue not pink . Kids won't study these days.

Her loose hair slaps at the rain and she pops an umbrella. It's a big black sheet, with images of a woman in high heels walking a poodle.  Pata-pat-tat tattoos the rain and rivulets stream. The tag-line around the rim reads ...fuck you I read the New Yorker ...  she says, "you're weird ,  Bosco. What's love got to do with it?"

"Love? You won't believe me if I tell  you."  I wear an old mans leather soles, slapping at wet  pavement  and  brick  hums a city tune; like the city a  wet pockmarked surface sprinkled with rat turds. Kat-corner, step-lights flicker out at City Hall, while at the chrome doors two cops argue with a drunk and a vet missing his right leg, but not the Silver Star pisses over the rail.

PEANUTS ... GETCHUR PEANUTS ... cries a  pushcart vendor elbowing close.  Rancid brine soaks the paper bag; Swath-girls languorous paws do not care. Seagulls screech, pecking at a boiled peanut  box. My Swiss Army watch ticks past 10:01 AM.  The stoplight flashes green. Raindrops smear the day, but I know a day late when I see it.

Cigars ... cigarettes ... Tipparillos ... A pair of  chiming ragged cases draw close. "OKey fuck the beur, Scranton," drools the blind homeless  threadbare  creature.  It's a Scranton voice wet from morning whiskey and textured  Irish flat as a coal car.

"Beur?" The Irishmans shot from heaven! It's a thrill. Speechless, I might have said anything, but I remembered. "We gotta get out of this place." I hand him the art-rag.

His left elbow tucks it.  "Hang on Sloopy."

"All's well?"

"Oh, very much so ..."


Uncertain first steps together. "Certainly. Boy, wife and their son doing fine in Colorado. He found a scattered Militia battalion without field officers;  still chaos  in the provinces after all these years.  They  didn't mind an ex-Federal  Major as commander, then brevetted to Lieu. Colonel.  Family sends regards.  I eat what the doctors allow.  Council let me keep my  townhouse; Georgetown  is livable again , if short on butter and eggs  since Militia SWAT put-down the wilding."

What did I expect? Two Chevy low-riders whiz thru the red-light, chrome rims cutting  huge pink paths,  tires chirping the brick crosswalk,  shotgun Haitians fingering  1911-45s too small for their hands and too kanted for a shot ...  they  laugh with gold teeth.  Fortunes-of-war I think. After Vicksburg fell,  white bush-rangers lynched most of Gillums Tallahassee crew. A few sought Jacksonville racial harmony. Some claimed Flotilla  Lieutenants  armed and led the whites. HRI sent MsK and her digicams to follow-up, but she returned with nothing , but a miserable case of clap!

Our hands fumble ... clasp. "I ... I didn't dare believe Mary, when she relayed your telephone posts. But, I came thinking a castaway can expect only uncertain meeting. What a strange collection our friends have become." Our friends?  Think about it ... the bus, the park, the bums ... I remember a  shredded forest glen and dead troopers  eyes closing ...  blood and treasure wasted for this ... so soon after ...

"Georgetown still does good medicine."

Sandy hair as much  Warsaw as Dublin wisps from his cap; I say to him  face on like he can see. "You beat it!"

Rain beats a steady tattoo around us, swirled by  uncertain wind, cloaked by its own mist  and guttered by a hundred channels. Swath-girls umbrella covers his face.  "Some days I just retreated to our old basement lab in the Castle, redesigning opamps Shien Wu used in her parity experiment.  Bending my head into reality. Waiting  for a knock at the door, especially after Paradise Ridge. Knock  from the Gestapo ... and the Gang-of-Four-bitches  had drilled that function deep into NSA & FBI ...  knock from refusita thugs .. that know never came." His face pushes up the umbrella. "Something odd, Will about  Federal security thinking what I knew, or who I knew.  An angel marked my door, while the prog-tide  swirled around me.  Something perhaps about my knowing you, about  HRI. You were always their enemy, but  HRI never  was the enemy they expected. What to make of it ..."

Cold as brass. "And the tumor ...?"

"Payment rendered,"  he says stumbling over his cane. "The cancer got one eye; Georgetown still had one machine working, so  hot protons snatched the other. A close thing to watch the tumor shrink week-by-week."

Payment. You ever walk blind?  Escorted  by two  Militia hard-cases onto an Eagle Air prop leaving Spokane  from a dark  empty iced-over runway at 2-AM.  Hot breath chewing a Camel Straight. Still had a penciled HRI notepad in my breast pocket.  Night-flight. Thought I was taking the last para-shoot jump.  F-28s shadowed us over Nevada. The air-hostess served sliced apples and cheese and wished me luck when we landed 12 hours later at Jacksonville Int! I was sweating .. sweating now ...  "Too hard ... our ... too fucking ..." I reach for his arm.

"Our ...?"  Irishman hacks, playing with his heavy black eye-frames.  Spray covers the bus now turning corner,  out of sight. Swatch-girl stands languid, wishing ... she might turn wet in your arms, but never soft  spade poodle doesn't like two Swede-flagged backpackers  and their Nikon lenses ... he has stepped toward them. "We goto MOCA, that's the plan.  Our whole scrum! " Eyeing Swath-girl , " she  feckin-A fits in better that way."

Mebby they never met before this rainy morning. Good crews are like that.  Mebby she figures I hadn't either.  She takes two hits on my Camel and butts it.   "Some fella you are Scranton.  Won't give a girl the rush, but know all the bums.  Smooth as silk, but no high hat. Ever go all the way? I'd like to find a man  who could go all-the-way."

"Better than most  white writers ,"  spits  the poodle. "Face in the front line to report battles,  but  frisky with  troop moral and unreliable.  Id'a gulaged him in Pottsville, with the WSJ bitch."

Blind eyes search for a target. "Mebby he drew the snake eyes, Trey ... mebby not.  Where-ever HRI had drifted he's our man now."

I snap "Back in the business?"

A drawstring linen pouch appears from beneath the rags. Hickory-nuts pop out and his teeth casually snatch one "Never got our gravitational boson scattering to work, did we?" He hesitates. "Joint Council now considers me fortunate to run errands."

"Bunged ," spits Trey.   ... then ...  "Always were a bitcher ... ar'tya," barks The Irishmans  seeing eye poodle swinging his black face into mine.  Sniggering ... "looks a little shopworn, slow on de draw." He's a  big night-black spade,  covered by a plastic raincoat and dirty breath and cracked goggles match   buildings, sky and  concrete grey and threatening  ... "Writ'n much these days?"

"For the trade ... only."  The stoplight flashes  bleary red-arsed, like a bad-girl just got her spanking and wants to know when it's her turn.  "HRI  went soft, hired a professional editor from WIRED, the little birds tweet."

I look him over again. Trey ... Admiral  Devon Trey, Mississippi Flotilla ... who served the Constitution.  Out of uniform he fooled me. HRI did a spread on him, after his marines butchered their way onto the St Louis docks, carved a notch into BLM rioters and  bayonets dripping red retreated upstream. Maybe Jefferson was Adams poodle.  So many memories ... Needle Park shrinks. I draw back ...  raindrops scatter the first pitch.

"Step lively, Scranton.  Light won't wait forever." We hustle across.

"Coffee first?" Swatch-girl points to the tortoiseshell cafe on our right.   Her nose twists. "MOCA serves Maxwell House and I'd rather snort mothballs."  Quick tangled  movement colors the bare glass panes from hip slickers faking  their morning  art moves around ten-dollar lattes and Crispy Cremes. Girls too on the Coachbag express, rolling hips and eyes, some noses pressed out against the glass , pretty faces blurred, trapped  looking for salvation.  There's a suck to it, the food, pink noise and humanity any drop-in-op appreciates as distraction.

The Irishman shakes his head. "Local art makes a creamer for local coffee, no matter how coarse the grind." He laughs at the simile.  Best move along. I understand Cummings fades toward noon."

We turn away toward cold abstraction. "Cummings made the show?"

"Put her right next to Rothko so people don't just stroll by." We walk steady and the buildings grey slab cut the rain.

"That's the idea ... we meet  just strolling bye?"

Irishmans  head shakes, black lenses search me out, red-rimmed the LEDs  flicker toward the park, where two Geeche vagrants battle seagull beaks for a pocket of peanuts.  Before and after. Time forgot this moment, both cold and hot, straight, uncurved, mindless  without the suck of any gravity. Then the lasers focus on me and Irishmans voice goes dry.  "Proofs, Will ... the gods  grant me three proofs."

"Three ..."

Clutching his chest. "Proofs. I have them, documents and photos and a risk appreciation. Wrote that appreciation myself, got it to Council and none believed."

"Proofs  by ... text, voice, photo ..."

Irishmans cane guides him to the plate glass window. His  face presses in,  cheeks flat and nose smelling  bear-claws, hard-rolls, bagels and muffin  aroma tunneling thru just for him.  "Can't smell them can you," he says.

"In my imagination, yes. MOCA pastry always out-did their art." Beside him my face now at the window, jaunty chin pressed flat and worn. Eyes too narrow for their reflection.

He nods, flips a hickory-nut from his pouch. Chews patiently. "So like the proofs.  Since the peace aromatic Black Swans for all they're worth." The Irishman claws away.

Swath-girl again has my arm. "Proofs? What proofs, Bosco ; whose proofs? Why prove?  Got your hand on my ass, but your head's in the clouds. Are you back in the business?"

Business ... I'm carrying her folded umbrella,  pinching a bare nipple between stem and finger till she bit  blood onto her lip. A small blood-price I thought for boldness,  her legs are all skin against mine. "Monkey business, sweetheart." And to The Irishman. "Visitors walked by your old Smithsonian digs."

"Yes they did ..."  The Irishman remembers something and stops under the garish art banner. "You recall the notion ... eh ... 'course you do that the Brit government when migrating to Canada would bunker their nuclear weapons in Nova Scotia, not  Toronto?"

"I recall Ukraine weapons  pouring into Bristol and Yarmouth , after Paris fell to  armed Normandy guerre.  HRI reported the smuggling. Most of the small arms were Russian manufacture."


"Yes yes.  Amazing the CIA , Zinichev  proved a  true logistics magician  shifting transport from Petrograd to Black Sea ports and a fleet of cod buses. Saxon patriots quickly snatched the advantage. They  and  three Gurka regiments   took to the streets, butchering out Londonstan and Oxbridge pestilence.  You remember Will how we speculated on the racial Black Swan approaching England?  Rastas or rude-boys had to go down ... one or 'tuther.  The AK-47s allowed unemployed whites to strike above their weight. When  Army fusiliers joined them, Merkels false-front   fell within  a month. Canada express was their only survival."

The reporters itch grabs me. "How many nukes have the Brits retained?  How big,  how determined, transit by plane or ship?"

Irishman grins meanly , waves a dismissive hand and catches breath. "Queen Merkle absolutely simpered over that  weapons deal, assuming  of-course USA Militia returned both Vancouver and Toronto to Ottawa." Pensive now ...  "with Quebec in revolt why wouldn't she? And  with Vancouver  chicom ex-pats screaming for their poppy .... !"

We stand toe-to-toe watching Needle Park and listening ... "Yes, especially Vancouver.  Lawful , tax-paying and ordered before, during and after our ...  our troubles."

My Zippo burns into a pair of  damp Camel straights.  Admiral Trey  snatches one, chews on the end and  flames it red. "Not so with cosmopolitan Toronto, right on my doorstep.  Flotilla  troopers drove Antifa and ISIS progs north, butchering the hard-cases in their ghettos.  WannaBes  escaped Michigan and Illinois like vermin,  polluting the eastern St Lawrence Seaway.  They quickly  corrupted mincing Toronto  into a mini-La.  Burning, looting, raping ... a perfect Urban farm for the harvesting of White guilt.  Molson Mounties needed a thousand Guards force to clear the pavement every night. Can't believe it was ever considered. "

Irishman sends a long thin grey stream of smoke toward the park. "As for that, violence rarely precludes weapons. Federals stored neutron bombs beneath Treasury until Hillary moved them to Atlantic City.  Some Molsons would have loved a nuclear bunker next door. Quebeker  freebooters  had certain plans ...  hehe oh yes they did ...  weapons snatch-plans pushed by Russophile Frenchmen." The Irishman laughs. "Imagine a libre force-de-frappe descending on Ottawa with a dozen tactical nukes; Molson  SJWs would have crapped green!  But, most important, Northeast Militia leaders and their IDF pals  wanted Brit Nukes on the Seaboard, away from Mississippi Flotilla influence."

Admiral Trey grunts,  whispers ..."Never depend on Perfidious Albion  for anything , but your next faggot BBC or CNN presenter. "

"Did Aston offer you the defeat-codes as  well as cores hardware ?"

Trey removes his  leather goggles to reveal  pepper & salt handlebars. "Mississippi Flotilla retired me two years ago.  I give uplifting speeches to young  cadets  approaching  battle. What do I know?" His arms waving,  raindrops snuff the cigarettes red tip. Then ..."We had three dirty,  50-K fat-babies  lost from McArthurs Korean war. Might be 25K left in each core, old timers weren't sure and outer  hulls were too hot to remove.  If  Federals had crossed the Mississippi  in  force and in anger ... if in anger , we had a half-dozen B-58s and would have taken out DC, Phili and  Boston. Too many Jews alive in NYC to pickle that peach."

"Had?" Trey says nothing. Did the Militia have nukes ... did the SandPoint Nazis? I don't know. Air Force nested their eggs at the SAC mountain pit and dared anyone to approach !  Treys admission is a stunner,  not in the script  ... jaw smasher.

But, I know the Irishman  learned to talk with a bloody nose. "The Admiral tells quite a tail; believe what you want.  But,  an allies power is the least problem our new Militia government faced.  Sure thing that Merkel deal ... both Vancouver and Toronto were packaged up and returned within a month of  Blue Belly  surrender to the Militia Council. Ottawa  signed on to pay occupation costs and  ... then ... nothing ... nada ... silence of the lambs from Brit SeaLord Aston."

"The Canadian PM?"

"His boyfriend needed 4 blojobs a day. The Molson  never could keep a head on the pint."

"Which buys us ... ?"

"Us?" He shuffles, chuckling.  "What was certain vanishes ... belief  falls apart and the center cannot hold.  Nothing stands between us and art ... but the door."

Door?Step-right-up Padre ... say all my intuitionsand fall down the rabbit hole. MOCA sports  the  faded pre-war banners ,  a scarlet and pink  cubist design boosting the UNF gay socialist alliance; 600 died at the Battle of Sisters Creek, when they swarmed out of Mayport in mamas yachts singing the prog paeon to Madonna; girls just wanna have fun and blasting papas skeet-guns over decks slick with the blood of newly deflowered virgins. Just as the swells breached St Johns tide-line  Remington-armed  Amelia Isle volunteers came out of the swamp in flatboats and  MAGA hats & shot them dead.   But, Spartacists know a good design when they see it and the flags outlasted their creators.   All modern now  and shiny the  brass-handled glass entrance.   A poncy sophomore  picks at his dry skin and guards the glass.  I  punch at the brass tongue  and  the door swings open;  cold air smells of  creme covered chocolate.  A  watery Kennell dangles by chrome threads. Right there quick as kish  Admiral Trey and the Irishman  turn away from the dark street,  open to all yet invisibly strip down their rags in a heap  leaving linen blazers and trow in place.  Ears red,  Ponce keeps his mouth shut.

Skin tightens around Treys high cheekbones. Memory says he's lost weight; Out of rags Trey moves lean and purposeful, like a hungry raccoon. He says," Soft touch, this. I'm ready for some overtime. " Ties and Apple-caps  straightened and Swatch-girls smutty umbrella bagged  ... we step in.



"We have got to get someplace, Will. Places actually. Three. Paintings. I never expected MOCA to be so ... rectangular ... or smell so chocolate." Josh-the-Irishman lifts his face toward a guard. "Gar'soun, bitta ..." The trim Nigress cocoa-puff skin tightens around her red lips. "Have you a brochure, madam for the showing? You know, a list of paintings, thumbnails and their places in the gallery?"

She is eating a sugar-toasted bear-claw and hesitates, chewing ... confused. "You mean whats floor?"

Irish eyes flit from bearclaw to parted lips. Flits a hickory-nut from his pouch and nibbles it. "Well, if that's it, yes. What floor, madam? Very desirable information for a lost and hungry soul. "

Two quick defensive bites into the sugar-dough. Then, from a table she shuffles a trey of glossies. "These be it. Who you want?"

"Oh ... most any will do. Klee, Carra and Milo ..."

"That be it? We have an O'keefe; Blue Flower. Men like that one ... eat it up."

"A bit abstract for my tastes."

"Says you. I guess some blind men can't see colors ..." she smirks all coco-puff and Hershey-kiss smooth. Ruffling pages ..."Then you gotta walk, cause we got one on each floor. Upstairs. But, the Klee ... Southern Gardens ... be over there, past the donut bar." I snatch the brochure cramming it into a side pocket.

Josh smiles. "Superb. Danka schon," he blurts as Cocoa edges away scuffing pale bamboo flooring, checking lipstick in a mirror, putting the table between her confection and my hungry eyes. Behind a her a small crowd rustles breakfasts at the curvy 1950s-style dinner nook that MOCA fronts on Laura. Crepes and crap a local food critic called the window-scene. Bums weren't invited to eat inside and toilets not installed outside, on Needle Parks lawn . Inside espresso shot-glasses bang the Formica. Bacon sizzles. Over the espresso lane hangs a blue MAXWELLHOUSE sign reading GOOD TASTE DOESN'T COME CHEAP. I believe it.

Eyeware LEDs blink and the Irishman turns to me. "See, see here, galleries, halls and stairs it's cubes and rectangles all the way up."

"I knew that. How do you know that?"

Josh is leading me away from the diner and its bustle, into a small white maze, toward the Klee. "The Georgetown physicians are so clever with sub-millimeter microwaves. Makes you tired, how determined they are. If you're about to die they will try anything."


"All of 1024, like an old video card."

"Based on archtypes and a huge cache?"

"Beyond that, Will. On the micro-scale, colored pigments exhibit differential reflectivity and polarizations; the computer sorts-it-out. Facial features take a few seconds for the FPGAs to calculate, so if you smile ... smile slowly." Josh touches his eyeglass LEDs. "Come along Will. Klees SOUTHERN GARDENS may jostle your memory."

He's right. Old men forget. Forget what? Trey and Swathgirl in tow we traverse a white-walled corridor and turn into a white-fenced alcove. SOUTHERN GARDENS pastel stares down at us like an mistreated Rubics Cube. Josh smiles ruefully. "Angry, don't you think? Paintings like wars can be a broad-brush swath, a smooth weave ... or a scatter of chiplets. What say you about ours?"

"Pieces and stems ... chiplets."

"What unifies them?"

We retreat to a white leather sofa. "The painting? Artist wit ... or a lovers spleen. No artist would admit painting from an idea! The war ... our civil war? So many different outbreaks for so very different outrage ... before the Militia, before the Flotilla and Pennsylvania riflemen ... the shear outrage of self-entitled Progressive venom pulled yeomanry together."

"Venom ... yes." The Irishman holds his peace ... then reaching to a pocket extracts a silk purse and from it dumps a melee of colored glass squares into my cupped hands. "And these ... what might unify what appear as a childs toy?" The chips shift and scratch and shuffle meanly against each-other. Each chip the size and weight of a nickle was stamped in black with a 3-letter word. "We found them on the body of a dead Molson officer floating in Lake Erie!" Irishman adjusts his glasses. "I believe you've met the man ..."

A chill ran up my arm. "Officer you say?"

"Jack Major ... Colonel Jack Major by the time somebody blew two 22-mags through his chest. You met him in San Francisco I believe ..."

Smells of St Francis scones and black-tea fill my head. "Molson bastard tried to buy me, buy innocent the war-crimes convictions for nine Sac butchers. "

Josh scowls. "Well then sure you remember, if only the insult. Drank a lot did you ... well men at war will drink. But, for the murder curious caliber, eh a 22-mag? Womans round, or an assassins. No matter. We found the floating body off-shore, north of Marblehead, between Kelleys and Pele Islands ... shot and bleeding, but drown swimming for the Canadian side ." Josh chews on a bit of hickory-nut. "Man must be determined to swim wounded in that cold water."

"Signs of torture?"

"None. But, running from something eh? The shooters, but running for something as valuable as his life. Most certain!"

I raise the hand-full of glass chips. "These?"

Irishman smiles. "Compare the colors, Will of those glass chips to the SOUTHERN GARDENS pastels. Except for nine missing chips --- and I assume they are lost-at-sea ... and for the eyebrow squares John Majors colored glass-chips match one-to-one against the painting squares."

"How many colors ... how much luck do you need for a random match? Let's see ... dadumm dadumm ... about 70 panels in the painting. Random luck needs about ... 17 colors. " I shuffle the glass chips, with a bit of smarm. "That's about right !"

Josh chuckles. "Any solution in a storm ... but you forgot each chip holds a word. Look at them again; all 3-letter nouns and adjectives. If you match colored chips to the painting, the random words make a two-dimensional array ... that looks like a one-time-pad. Our computers think it's a quadratic letter-shift cipher ... of-course the missing letters hurt ... but a best guess for the intelligible script is: MET THE BLACK QUEEN IN CLEVELAND AND SHE IS OURS. " Josh chew on his lip. "Black Queen? You know any?"

"In a reporters war, black queens are manufactured like salt-water-taffy." Yet the contrary bugs me. "Would Major have carried the chips if he felt secure?"

"Divers think the chips were stored inside a lost flotation, packaged in a Styrofoam shell we found partially torn."

"Then," I say, Majors smelled a rat before being intercepted. Burnt-out Cleveland never was a Militia town."

Glancing at Swath-girl, the Irishman grips my arm ... pressing . "Not holding out on me are you Will. Not protecting a pal ... a source ... a lover ... ?"

Admiral Trey pulls him back. "More went missing from the body than 9 glass chips. Colonel Majors carried a message from Mississippi Flotilla Joint Chiefs to Brit SeaLord Aston. The message ... stored in key-memory and swallowed ... refused his offer of six 300-KT nuclear weapons in exchange for control of Lake Erie southern shore. "

"Flotilla settle for six?"

"Fuck off, Scranton."

I start. " Brits want the entire lake!"

"Everything, complete with a new home, don't you see for repatriated big-city Trotsky-sluts even the Brits cannot tolerate." Trey rolls his eyes. "Lots of our own people there, who fought alongside imported Chico bangers , but by-damn Washingtons wooden teeth the Constitution will not have back the traitors!" Trey turns his back on the painting. "Instead, we offered joint control with Trumps government of all Brit nukes delivered and bunkered on Nova Scotia. Real deal for a new northern peace. Anybody who was anybody ... in the new Federal gub'mnt signed that message. Before Majors escaped to the water his captors & killers ... the Black Queen I figure ... squeezed that key out of his gut."

My skin has iced over like a November fish-pond. "Did ... did Major know the message?"

Grunt. "Speculation on the migrating Brit nukes ran rampant in every Officers Club on the Mississippi. Young men too easily crave the pair, power and safety. Similar worry among Trumps Feds, cause Vermont and Maine volunteers were already arming 105-cal artillery along the St Lawrence , in preparation for a Brit attempt to force the Seaway. How smart does a Molson Air Force Colonel need to be guessing the quality if not sincerity of a handshake?"

I think on it. "Majors could have been mistakenly thought the actual negotiator! Negotiations with the Brits went dark, of-course, without the handshake."

"Well yes that's just the point Will," The Irishman tempers. "Best efforts at a weapons accord squashed. Confused. Replace by ..." Josh snatches another hickory-nut. "Who was so very smart and connected to snark a nuclear weapons agreement securing Americas northern border ?" He pauses ... works his black eye-frames around till LEDs flash madly and kaleidoscope lens point directly at me. "That is my first proof."

55555 MOCA

Dirty dangling rectangle raindrops flood the staircase ... moats in G*ds eye ... and sounds of the kitchen dim to the rustic wet clatter of porridge bowls ... as if the muted clatter were served up and discarded by early grain harvesters whose burlap vests muffled the spoons, oak tables could not afford Formica and whose sleepy eyes would as well fill them with malt ale as horse oats. The steep swirl of steps sucks my breath away.

"Trey," I ask ...?

"Oh, he's distracting Gothgirl."

"She does not appear the distracted type."

"Observe, she is a woman of many parts and properly distracted by ... them." Irishmans head turns and nods behind.

Where the two Euro-hikers with chest-mounted Go-Pros and expensive strapped-on Nikons and once delinquent have crossed the street and followed us into MOCA. SNAP_SNAP_SNAP go the Nikons serving the diner neon-bright to posterity ... as anyone might think ... but the lens roam. I look for trailers behind them, a hand-off team and see only bums. Between us and them, Swatchgirl between shots chats them up all casual flirt and promise while Trey hovers, the threatening unexpected uncle. Surveil method practiced, without wink or flaw , I think ...

Scraped off the buggers nicely," Irishman observes. We have reached 2nd floor, and through the last tangle of maroon-frosted rain-plaques look for the Miro. "Over there, Will , beside the balloons."

I snark. "Noone has been paid more than Miro for black dots."

" What has chromodynamics cost? " Irishman smiles wistfully.

Effortless, yet my face flushes. " "Classical physics is like a painting of reality, an impression. QM reminded me of a man who eat reality, then vomited.""

"A true philistine!"

The 2nd floor enclosure ... white of-course and a skylight paled rectangle ... enameled fog-lights mist and bleach pearl carpet dares a stain. To the tits. No 2nd fiddle drawing room for Miros wandering spirit or for any who aspire to spread dead-dots into a living world. Ozymadius mad for power over a misty world would understand. Yet as Miros gobs dance from one blue field to another, they do not seize the pastures alone. Did Miro build-in a flaw, a counter-fact? Who, you might wonder jumps from the balloons and wanders across the landscape? One or many explores discovering a flat-world, options reduced to two? I say that to Josh; he mutters about the tyranny of action, how spherical coordinates dissemble, snacks from his hickory-nut bag and steps arrow-straight toward the red slash.

"Well now, we all see that," he grumbles.

I smile, confused.


My mouth turns dry and my stomach rancid.

"War ends not with a whimper, but a howl ... your war don't you think?" Irishman picks from one Miro to another. "What were you doing there?"

"Where ...?"

"Fighting it out with Almonds corp. Lost an elbow, did you ..."

"Pieces," I say , but think he will not discover that part of my gut. Cheerful ... "With a lead that bleeds, another million-hit day for HRI ... if we got out as well as in. We flew aero-suits into the fray. " Josh offers a hickory nut and I take it. "A recon squad had got to the blast-site first ... all chewed up; unfriendlies too. Almonds command arrived days later, having motored south from Fresno. War may be hell, but a webzine needs banner ads!"

"Just business as usual then, for HRI." Skeptical face washes over my own. "Banski ordered ... Banski knew ... or did you have a source, an angel, renegade, a gold-seam streaming intelligence from inside the enemy ... whichever enemy ... perhaps whoever pays-the-bill?" To the jab I say nothing. The Irishmans ragged jaw chews air. Then ... "CL carried more than a foul mouth to her grave."

CL! My head reels back to the rocky gulch where FMJs chewed at flesh and death came easy. Incredulous "You knew her ...?"

Dismissive, the Irishman when you stumble. "More than a Navy Lieutenant, Will she was a walking MASINT lab. Carried the best micro neutron and beta-decay dosimetry CERN would sell." Josh turns toward me. "Noone has ever claimed the Johnsdale nuclear weapon as their own. Not the Sand Point Nazis, not the cartels , not Libre Quebek!"

"We assumed the cartels had bought a rogue Russian nuke, a tactical weapon that could be fired from a truck or Chi.com half-track."

"We ...?" Joshs lens sin-black lost in the Miro. "Intels rough estimate ... an eleven kilo bomb that a dozen actors could have constructed. Morning of first light, just hours after satellite neutrino detectors caught the flash, Air Force commanders ordered the shadow united council into session, Blue-Belly, Militia and Flotilla men who a week before had been slaughtering . Being terrified by a lone-wolf nuclear threat, council declared a local truce. They brought together a joint ranger unit ... I think even Sand Point sent a squad ... and vectored them into the hot-zone. Big deal, really, the first joint op for a yet-unformed united American government. A Militia leader was chosen and brevetted ... CL had the stones. Her cover was an imagined rafting expedition to clean-out feral Blue-Belly units."

Hesitating ... "Yes, yes that's the grunt-work she explained to me."

"Long step, from a search-and-destroy operation, to deciding-by-fact which power-centers fit into the new American Federation ... who sits at the table when its formed ... which parties do as they will and which as they must. " Josh pauses, shifting black lens across his nose. "Job-one for CL was exposure to and measurement of nuclear decay products. Step right over the shit that glows."

"A suicide mission ... then ..."

Josh strides across the pale-lit floor. "She knew the risks and importance. If you know extremes of what can be done, then you know by technical savvy who can do it. Once identified those bastards would have got a knife in the belly!"

"She said or hinted nothing."

"Indeed, not likely to say so ..." Irishman sinks into a fuge. "Silent, yet she had visited the blast-site; got that out on a micro-burst. CL carried the detailed flux-data on a time-fused key. No real-time broadcasts, to avoid detection. Her key time-fused for security; the data would speak volumes about its creator! 'Course by the time her body was recovered coyotes had gotten to her ... the key had self destructed."

"Bad luck for the council ..."

"Well yes, all of that. A battalion ... was a battalion wasn't it, of hard-core Militia on that march ... yes, good, well Colonel Almonds weathered, disciplined battalion attacked by a rag-tag company of Blue-Belly irregulars. Last legs so-to-speak and lead by a court-marshaled Lieutenant."

"You know this?" Josh finds silence. "Rag-tag? All soldiers had morphed into natural killers by that end-of-the-war period."

"If you insist." Josh pops another hickory nut ... one drops to the floor. "What do you make of this," he asks snatching an iPHONE from his breast pocket. The display beckons.

I peer over. Noisy white bands dapple and shift across the screen. "FHSS. Could be any mil-spec radio transmission. Intercept? How? Where did you get it?" Even HRIs digicams use that modulation."

"Can I tell you this," the Irishman muses ... and laughs. "Surovikins broadband satellites are ever so efficient. So-called STURGEON-class. NPO-Almaz could only build a half-dozen, with super-conducting antenna, but one is stationed over California. It snatched this signal from Colonel Almonds command. Signal Corp decoded as a pair of repetitive numbers .... 36:33:10.57 .... 118:37:38.21 .. interspersed with progressive values. Went on for days. No other transmission on that key."

Something clicked. "Latitude and longitude?"

"Certainly. We got lucky. Italian crypto was approached by a Russian broker with aero-space connections. Claimed he owned American jewels. Said it just that way ... diamonds and pearls. AISI haggled ... traded a purse of Brussels Bourse futures for the gem. More dickering. Falangist Italy needed help butchering-off the last of North African migrants. Sand-niggars were swimming across in Michelin tubes French socialists had provided. We sent two Gatling-gun armed corvettes to the Gulf of Hammamat in exchange ... and felt screwed by the take until ..." Irishman screws down his head, away from the frosted white lighting. "Once our Z3s broke-the-code it takes your breath away! A continuing piece of data matching position to the Sierra clearing and firefight where CL was killed. The remainder with the same crypt tracks the changing path of Colonel Almonds battalion. Data ... and a signature."

"No surprise," I say, "that Almonds reported position."

"Fair enough, but this signal did not use Almonds key! And from the western Sierras no fewer than 16 satellites occupied the reception cone, but only the Russki satellite managed intercept. "

"We thought ...". An image vanishes, of a webzine perched on a city of light. "Why would an actor risk signing the dirty deed? Was signature part of the code? Who signed it ... the data ... ?"

Irishman shuffles about the Miro, eyeing sequences of black blobs ... and the red slash ending them ... as if walking the path. And says finally. "Signature? The Black Queen. That is my second proof!"

66666 MOCA

Sluggard machine struggles upward. Arriving at the threshold, ribbons bar the way, though we see clean through the gallery. "Your pass, Sir," challenges the young black sophomore in a fraternity blazer. One hand on the velour ribbon, the other fingering a platinum cell-phone. "University restricts access to disturbing art ..."

I flash a gold-stripe card and the ribbon drops. Nodding to Josh. "A friend of-course -- disabled -- a real trooper near death. Surely MOCA has made provisions ..."

Sophomore cringes at the word TROOPER yet smirks over the dark lens. "Lame and blind? Far superior to the swift and insightful! University rejects privilege and always favors the unable and unwilling. Take care he does not fall. " I touch Joshs arm and lead him for'ard, before he strikes the fool.

Chest hack returns, chewing on Irishmans face. Pain passes ... "An unwilling archtype. Do you suppose he graduates," the Irishman hectors? I have no answer.

Elevator to the this 3rd floor had come with a red placard ... DOCENTS ONLY ... as I fear for every exhibition sporting an edge. Give us not the young, the critical, the unconnected ... Florida universities will not disturb them. MOCA has reserved this gallery, beside the 3d floor patio for works of violence and awe and distemper. No children would enter, and if University had their way no adults. It's the hidden price of victory. The oak patio door had opened to a brash lightening-laced cloud-burst; embracing lovers and a pair of aging academics hustle from a rolling chrome and glass bar to benches under the awning.

"Avoid triggering study if possible "Sophomore is negotiating Swathgirl. "Madam, are you ..." Trey snarls at him, and the ribbon drops again.

"Sensitive to a fault," snips Josh.

"The modern way requires permission to be offended."

Black lens flit across paintings as LEDs wink. "Did the SNEEZE laws offend? You reported from La the music industry first caving, then clawing back in fear of destruction. American society tore itself apart trying to make that decision. Who gets to say when enough pain is more than enough?"

We separate; it's a big rectangular gallery. Violence abounds. "Over here, Josh. Look how they have done it, paintings against the bright white near wall. Contrast eh ... facing the dark outside windows. As bright and clever the trak-lights, lightening streaks the art. "Does 1024 do it justice?"

Irishman consults his iPHONE, though for truth or error I do not know. "What justice exists in art ... yes I do believe so." I lead him to a bench before the Carra, all black and red revolt or bacchanal. He muses one face after another, if without eyes a face can be found. "Don't suppose do you the revelers all stoned on absinthe?"

"That one, perhaps and him ..." FUNERAL OF GALLI ... if a drunk pisses paint during his heart attack, but perhaps if you have nothing then nothings lost. Nothing, but rot at the base of Renaissance culture. Wilsons BYPASS hangs beside it. "Bet the fun ends with a casket tour."

"Some would kill for a detour." Irishmans nods toward Bacons VIOLENCE, which hangs on the other side framed unlike all others by a grey plexi panel. "Clever juxtapose wouldn't you say?"

"Hardly abstract. Chaos, foolishness ... and the grip of terror. "

"Well really, can a human scream that loud? In what possible world do they and remain human? Did generals scream at the Sacramento massacre? Did the women? Did you ... ?"

What world was that when I screamed? I cannot remember ... not ... not ... not ... A lightening-bolt flash tears through MOCA darkened windows, flooding the white room with white violet. Lights flicker. "Terror took a holiday."

Irishman consults his iPHONE for a screen of text. "Courts of Inquiry decided that Silvercoins guard had been penetrated by Arapaho activists. Their motto: Land for the Band. Militia scouts during the daytime, they cut throats after six. Affirmative action meets the long-knife. After Silvercoins outer perimeter crumbled, two Humvees crashed through, onto the porches, ten onboard assassins then shooting their way into and through the manse."

Do you know Irishman I cannot got there ... not ... not ... not. "Yeah, I know Josh. I was there, fighting with a dead assassins shotgun. Guards inside carried only sidearms; a dozen died beside eight field officers bringing down the attackers. No words can do that chaos justice."

"You found one word, Will, to do that justice. "Cumberbunne!"

My lips stutter proof; only the Irishmans proof? stuttering "I ... I never claimed, never wanted justice; like others I was shot-up ... lost friends I had known since power-towers tumbled. No ... no justice intended, only mindless rage."

"Militia responded."

Did the Irishman really not understand? "Men with holes punched through collected on debts; Trotsky-sluts payed in blood. Politicos preferring safety to justice cringed; our provisional joint government tottered; six months of leaderless terror followed. Many of the younger Militia never forgave HRI ... or me. "

"Unforgiving ... yes. So with the painting." Irishman empties the hickory-nut bag. We each get two. Hickory-nuts, I think. So American and so illusive. like the wild turkey or rattlesnake. From the bottom of the bag Josh retrieves a ragged note, bloody and water-stained. His fist grips the folded paper while his mouth moves silent, pondering his last nibble ... then says softly. "How many police horses in the painting?"

I pull away from the edge, eyes blinking where no eys live. "One horse many hoofs."

"Ha ... how red banners deceive. Indeed most viewers see one, a few sky a second, it's body forced to ground. But, there, Will, between the rearing and fallen horse a 3rd riderless mount struggles against the anarchist tide. Without a rider the horse is ignored, though in terror it tramples mourners under-hoof. For all we know, the 3rd horse could have belonged to a wealthy art patron, but no longer."

It's coming on a cold damp breath of storm. I can feel it. "Whose horse would be the 3rd?"

Irishman opens the dirty, palm-size paper note. "Came from the body of an assassin not torn apart and burnt! Control tracked him down though DNA filters. We know quite a lot. Age 22. A Chechen schoolboy, ISIS thug in Iraq, oil-tanker driver for the Syria Mujad on the Deir Ezzor to Turkish borders run. Vanishes after Russian SU-25s blow-apart his rig. Stews in a German court, accused of murdering Kurds. Skips jail. Reappears as a homeless migrant on the Texas border ... El Paso ... where La Raza agents adapt him as their own. Vanishes again; next seen driving a Chi.com truck steaming into Las Vegas." Hand shaking Josh passes the note to me.

"Chechen, eh. Wouldn't be able to read ..."

"Written English."

So the clean cursive appears. Pencil marks have been erased, under the ink. Among blood and water-stains the text screams. Blessings to JiHad. Trust the BLACK QUEEN. Her bare head disgusts, but she has been deeply fucked by Allah. I say. "Do you suppose he wrote it, or got messaged just before the attack?"

"Behavior intel says his fingernails were too long to write such a script. But, whomever wrote it, this ragged scrap is my 3rd proof!"

We sit alongside Trey and Swatchgirl, at a MOCA diner table, scratching the Formica, chewing biscuits and drinking weak coffee ... damn the heat-sucking art-deco cups. Incessant rain beats on the windows. Patrons and servers swirl about us, as does their noise. We are invisible.

Irishman talks. "I promised you three proofs, Will, three proofs ... that an agent, a provocateur a mole has buried deep within Militia governance. "

Our table goes silent, my eyes say a kind of signal among the noise. "Fog-bound and still active. "

Josh nods. " Perhaps other events were influenced. But, three is enough for certainty. The mole sits deep enough to identify and target important projects, while still moving within our common ranks. The BLACK QUEEN ... man or woman ... though you would like to think it's a woman all smooth skin and claws."

Three sets of eyes claw at me. Demanding. Yet a craving churns my gut. "Suppose I'm also certain. Then what?"

"Seek and destroy."

"I'm the Lone Ranger."

"Don't play the refugee with me. Swathgirls got your back; she's a real lizard."

"But, your lizard, Bosco." Her eyes glow red, it seems.

Irishman hacks heavy and weighs on the table. "You've been to the line, Will and over it; you know people, how parts turn other parts with the Militia. Make sense of the patterns. Find the flaws in cover. Hunt down the bitch, track her forward and backward till light exposes the hidy-hole. Get her before she screws us again. Dig! You owe it to us." Irishman sips at black watery dregs. "Flush her out and put her down."

It's almost funny, I think into a dark haze; Irishman believes I need a promotion. "Who knows about this ... project Josh, this mechanics work ... besides us. Who debriefs. Where is the gold-seam and who is your master?"

"Ours, Will. Our masters." Irishman hacks again, a deep painful hack that rips at his chest. Waits some. Then ..."You weren't Jacksonville gulaged to go rancid, useless and shove poppers up some bitches ass."

I reject a grin, then shudder; first with fear running 'round the reptile brain, then with hunger for the ice-sharp cold of contact ... of battle. Fear, hunger, amusement, dis-belief ... all compete for the same space my awareness. Time awaits ... you know time that transports gravity making gruel of our delites. Right hand clasps for my chest, expecting the 357-S&W as it once hung. I stare up at Irishmans black lens, where truth lives.

Tires screech; pavement groans. Smash of a headlight howling against metal. A whore screams curses.

BANG ...BANG ... BANGBANGBANG ... a barrage of 40-cal firecrackers. Like so many cafe attacks when Blue-Bellys war raged. Sirens wail outside. Patrons stumble whichway, into chaos. An off-duty cop runs to the MOCA doorway.

"Let's move Papa." squirts Swathgirl.

Thoughtless precis ... evacuate to stay dim. Slickers in tow we push past into forever rain. Two police cruisers have jumped pavement at the street corner, their officers crouched with guns drawn. Homeless gather round ... over their shoulders we see the two Swedes lay in the gutter, legs splayed, torrents pushing at foreheads once home to GOPRO, but no longer. Mangled red. A black hoe edges away.

" You Scranton. Done deal." Trey, huddled about the Irishman like a blanket pulls us both into a stream of cars suddenly moving east. We dodge bumpers while drivers curse.

Yards away, Banger-boy in a big-wheel Chevy rolls by. "Serves dem white boys right, dey wanna see ev'thang."

A big Merc lurches stop at our feet. Trey and the Irishman dart cross-street and move on. I'm alone. Swathgirl rolls down the window. White breast bunch careless against the frame. "Get in lovrboy. Without a legend not time to die ... not even close."

We're home with another HRI. Returning to port in stormy weather , ladies and gentlemen good night.