Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Chapter LVI

“What is it you want me to say Jude?”

      “First off, I don’t want you to say what I want you to … dang it, you’re doing it again.  Look, I want to hear what you are thinking.”

      “No you don’t.  I just tried to tell you and you got all snarky about it.”

      He sighed in exasperation.  “So forget I was … snarky.  Talk to me.”

      “Why?  I don’t see that it matters.”

      “Because I’m trying to figure things out.”

      “That doesn’t make any sense.  Why should my opinion help you to figure things out when you already have your own opinion?”

      “Because it does Granny, that’s why.  There’s things going on … expectations that people have … that you … you just aren’t seeing.”

      “What kind of expectations and why?”

      “It’s hard to explain because it hasn’t … look … nothing has been said outright but I’m beginning to get feelings about things and it’s weirding me the heck out.  I’m not sure what to make of it.”

      “Again, what kind of expectations?”

      “Just … just stuff.  When I’m for sure I’ll talk to you about it but for right now just let me keep it to myself because it has more to do with me than anything else.  As for why I want to know what you think?  Mostly just because I do … and I’m sorry I made you feel like I was trying to twist and turn you to make you have a particular opinion.  I didn’t mean for it to come off like that … some of it was just a natural reaction I guess.”

      “Tell people to leave you alone about their expectations.  You made some mistakes in the past.  You aren’t making those mistakes anymore.”

      He sighed.  “People don’t see it that way all the time Dovie and that is only part of what I’m talking about.  Now just tell me honestly, what do you think?”

      “I think people are by and large stupid and mean.”

      He gave a surprise cough, “Excuse me?”

      “You asked me what I thought and that’s what I think.  I think people as a whole are pretty much mostly stupid and mean with a great big helping of selfish in there too.  They are so busy pointing out the mistakes everyone else is making that they can’t be bothered to save enough energy to look in the mirror and do anything about their own mistakes.  Worse, it is always more important for the other person to get right with God before they do it themselves; it’s the only time I’ve ever seen people rush to let the other guy go first.  The world is nothing but a huge daycare center with more than its fair share of bullies and wimps and suck ups and rule breakers and meanies and toy hoggers and mischief makers and everything else.  To me it ought to be to let the punishment fit the crime … those rioters?  Kick ‘em all back where they came from, block ‘em in, and let ‘em duke it out with each other and let ‘em do all the damage they want; but they don’t get any help cleaning up the mess afterwards.  No money, no help, no nothing … let the consequences come home to roost and let them learn what it means to reap what you sow.  Let that go for everyone else, me and mine too.”

      “OK, that’s local but what about the war?”

      “What about it?  Those people came over here and killed thousands and thousands and thousands of our people.  Find where they are at, bomb them back into the abyss, then not give them anything else ever … no national charity, no food, no loans, no help, no nothing.  People that want to then go in and help them afterwards, that’s their business, but it will be ours to drop them off of the help list too.  We aren’t the only ones those terrorists hurt.  Get those countries as allies and then kick the stuffing out of the ones that did it.  Rock ‘em fast, hard, mean, and completely.  Then go back to our lives and live and let live.  That’s how you deal with bullies.  Kick ‘em hard and heavy in their private parts.  It might not stop them from trying again but I can gauran-dang-tee you they’d think about it first and won’t automatically assume victory.  And if they did do it again then you break them completely.  None of this fooling around business, just nuke ‘em from space if that’s what it takes to get people to leave us alone.”

      I could feel him looking at me though I refused to look at him.  “So you really wouldn’t have had a problem if Caleb and Jinx had been hung right outside in the yard?”

      I shrugged. “I was surprised that that is what the judge sentenced them to but they knew what they were doing Jude.  I know they are your friends …”

      “Were … and a long time ago at that.  Even if I had still thought of them as friends that night would have put a period to it.”

      “Ok, they were your friends.  I just meant I didn’t have the same connection to them as maybe you did or do.  It kinda bothered me in a way but on the other hand it didn’t.   They wouldn’t have stopped at me … they would have gone after Tiff.  They were just the type.”

      “Now Dovie …”

      “Don’t tell me that I’m exaggerating Jude.”

      “You saying it already happened?  That’s why she is like she is?  Quiet and … and that … that way she has of … I don’t know … getting out of Dodge when people start raising their voices?”

      “The reason why she became mine to protect is because the ward she was on at another facility … look, I don’t have all the details.  Staff stopped anything from happening, checked her over and everything but I was told when Paulie found her and Mimi and put them under my wing I asked the staff about nightmares she was having at the time and they filling me in.  Guys can be such jerks … grown men Jude.  And you know about the things that happened … nearly happened … on the road, or at least most of them you do and the rest aren’t worth bringing up.  I’m just saying I know people are crapheads and it’s not that they don’t know how to stop being crapheads, it’s that they don’t want to stop being crapheads.  So yeah, I wouldn’t have lost any sleep over it had they hung them here … but it would have been by the gully and not by the house; but not for me, but for the kids’ sakes.  And whether you are a homegrown craphead or grew into one in some other country … that’s the way people are; they’d rather be a bully than anything else, and thinking otherwise is just a fairytale people tell themselves to feel better.  God is the only One that can change people that much and he doesn’t do it by pushing a magic button but by offering people a chance at a change of heart.  Folks have to want to change and most just plain don’t.”

      Slowly he asked, “So you think this is a righteous war we are in?”

      “I’m saying that …” I stopped trying to word things carefully and shook my head.  “Had we gone in and crushed the enemy then got out and got back to minding our own business it would have been righteous.  I lost my father and brothers … and you could blame Mom’s death on it too … to the terrorists that insist on conquering the world and making everyone convert to their ways.  And because of that I feel I’ve got some say in this.  Our cause was just in the beginning but they’ve fooled around with it so much and made it about other stuff and I don’t know what all the end goal is supposed to be anymore.  I’m not even sure if anyone knows what the end goal is for any of the participants are anymore. It is just a rut that has taken over the world.  Everyone is so busy fighting that I’m not sure anyone is still looking at the big picture.  Regardless of who ultimately wins we are all gonna be losers because no one was decisive in the beginning; no one wanted to do what had to be done and give it some finality because they didn’t want to be seen as ruthless when that is exactly in my opinion what they needed to be.  So go ahead and think of me whatever you want to, you will anyway.”

      Instead of condemnation I felt him patting me on the back.  “You’re a lot angrier than you let show aren’t you.”

      “I don’t really want to talk about it Jude and frankly it doesn’t have anything to do with what we were talking about to begin with.”

      “I know you don’t want to talk about it but one of these days you’re gonna need to.  You … you can’t just keep working, hoping one of these days you are going to outrun all of these feelings and everything is going to be ok.  What do you think I was doing by drinking?”

      “Thanks,” I said sarcastically.

      His hand stopped patting and gently rubbed a couple of times before falling away.  “Maybe I didn’t say it soft and easy Dovie, but it’s the truth.  I’m not going to keep at you about it because having people talk at me didn’t help either but I’m here if you ever do want to talk.  But as for the rest of it … about people being crapheads?  I won’t disagree with you ‘cause I can’t.  And I guess I can see now why you keep your opinions to yourself … Mom and Aunt Twilla with their rose-colored glasses, Dad wanting to believe in the basic goodness of the folks he’s known his whole life, Butch thinking if everyone would just follow the rules, Clewis … being Clewis and finding a wife just like him.  The rest of them being themselves too, me included.  The way you say it would definitely make a couple of them uncomfortable and defensive.”

      “Exactly,” I told him.

      “But at some point maybe they need to hear it anyway.  I did.”

      I snorted in rejection of what I viewed as his tactics.  “Aw for … look, don’t start using psychology on me.”

      “I’m not,” he denied.  “But listen up Granny, you be careful when you talk to anyone outside the family.  You and I may not line up exactly on everything but we do on more than I started out expecting to which is … weird feeling.  But here’s a tip for free, I already caught on to the fact that private business needs to stay private when you are around strangers and a stranger is anyone not immediate family.  You don’t know who you can trust and who you can’t these days.”

      Jude was referring to the fact that he’d been working a week on the expansion of the checkpoint facilities along the highway and there’d been some things happen that caught a lot of locals off guard.  I asked him, “Anymore trouble?”

      “There’s some type every day.  We have Observers in the ranks but no one is for sure who they are but they are tattling what people talk about.”

      “Those DHS types you think?”

      “No thinking, I know.  And it is going to get worse before it gets better.  Commander Blankenship is being promoted and transferred to another area.  This new guy coming in – guy named Carlsburg - he comes from a local family but he hasn’t lived here since he was a kid; and the last thing he is going to be is impartial.  Blankenship was hard but fair; Carlsburg … I don’t have a whole lotta confidence in him from what I’m hearing.  Rumors from the area he was previously stationed already have him making plans to redistribute from the rural areas into towns. He seems to think towns are more valuable assets and they need to stop the rioting to keep damage down to a minimum to protect those assets.  Apparently civilized people live in town and only ignorant hicks live and work on farms these days.”

      “Uh oh.”

      “Yeah.  So here is why I needed to know what your opinion is so can you turn around and look at me when I’m talking so I can see what you think of it?”

      I had to change stairs to turn without being practically in his lap but when he was done I could see why he might have been hesitant at first.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Oh another bad one coming to take command, all they need, NOT.