D3: Grace’s Tale, Chapter 1

Grace turned to gaze down the pathway which had lead her to the gate of Arlington National Cemetery.  The guide who had accompanied her this far had already vanished from sight.  Until this moment she had not realized how much she had enjoyed his company, or how much it/he would be missed.  She picked up her bag and turned her back to the road.

The bag was heavier than she had expected, and Grace wondered whether something had been added to its content. Being with Reginald these past months had taught her to be cautious.  Fearing that she might be being watched, she looked around for a location which was obstructed from easy view, then pulled the clothing from the top of her bag.  The added weight was of less concern than the possibility of electronic surveillance equipment, the miniscule size of which was familiar to her.  As they were lifted. she carefully checked each piece of clothing before placing it in a neat pile at her feet.

Without lifting anything else out, she examined the remaining contents.  Tucked in among her things were several small brown boxes which were labeled “antibiotics”.  Packaged this way, Grace imagined them to be questionably sourced, and destined for some unknown “elsewhere” further down the line.  “Don’t start being foolish,” she told herself, but she found the possibilities exciting.  She couldn’t help wondering where that “elsewhere” might be, or whose job it might be to take them there.  “None of my business,” she told herself.  She carefully checked all the pockets and seams of her bag before repacking her things.  Lifting it onto her shoulder, she walked through the gate.

Arlington National Cemetery closes at dusk.  Grace knew the time for finding her next guide was limited, and she had no idea where to look.  “They found me before,” she thought.  She made her way toward the visitors center; because of Drumpf’s government shutdown, it was closed.  The tour busses had also stopped running for the duration, but a walking tour was available.  Grace joined a group which was about to begin their walk.  She was very conscious of her large bag on her shoulder, but had no option but to carry it.  “I hope someone’s looking for me,” she thought.  Strolling through the acres of headstones, she saw a few names which she recognized, but was struck by the row upon row of white markers for those who had served in every conflict since the American Civil War.  She had read recently that a new section was being opened, and wondered again when wars would stop filling the graves.  She appreciated the precision of the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but it was the solemn passage of a funeral procession which touched her the most.

Grace was disappointed when the tour came to an end.  No attempt had been made to contact her, and the cemetery was closing.  She had no idea what to do next, not even a place to stay for the night.  “I really didn’t think this out very well,” she thought as she watched the last of the tour busses pull away.

Each visitor, as they made their exit, had been handed a silk “Buddy Poppy” be an old man wearing an Army uniform, who also explained their significance.  After the final tourist had walked away, he remained standing there.  Approaching Grace, he said, “You look like you could use some help.”  Grace looked up to see a kind smile and a look of concern on his face.  “I was supposed to meet someone here,” she responded,” but I guess my friend didn’t make it today.”

“Will I do?” he asked, and before she could decline, he added, “My wife’s name is Imogene, and she would be happy for the company.  You come home with me for a good supper, and you can even bunk in the spare room for the night.  What do you say?”  Grace didn’t know how to respond; she didn’t know this man or his wife, and had no reason to trust them, but she was running out of options.  While she was thinking, trying to formulate an answer, he handed her his phone.  Confused, she put it to her ear.  “Grace,” she heard, “Honey, we’ve been waiting for you.  You tell that old man I said to bring you home for supper.  We’ll see you soon. and I’ll answer your questions then.”  She hung up before Grace could respond.

“We?” Grace thought, and how did she know my name?  I don’t recall giving it to anyone.”  She handed the phone back to its owner and said, “It appears we have our marching orders, soldier; lead on.”  As they walked together back toward his car, an older model Oldsmobile, she found the weight of the .380 pistol in her pocket very comforting.  ” If worst comes to worst…”

The old soldier, who introduced himself as Cedric, engaged her in pleasant conversation during the short ride to his home, a small (compared to its neighbors) brick house on the far outer fringes of Georgetown.  He parked in the street and hurried her inside.  Grace had tried, despite his attempts at distraction, to pay careful attention to the direction in which they were travelling.  She needed to know her way out, should the situation “go south”.

Imogene turned out to be a woman in her late forties with streaks of silver in her hair and a welcoming smile on her face.  She greeted Grace at the door with a warm hug; if she felt the gun in Grace’s pocket, she didn’t mention it.  Instead, she said, “Come in, come in; there’s always room at our table for one more.”  She offered to take Grace’s coat, but showed no signs of concern when her offer was refused.  “If you change your mind later,” she said, pointing at a coat rack near the door.

Grace was lead into a living room where several people were already sitting about and engaging in conversation.  They looked up when she entered.  “Everyone, this is Grace.”  Imogene introduced her to each of them in turn; they greeted her, seeming not at all surprised by her presence.

Cedric had put her bag inside the door where Grace, and everyone else, could see it.  “I’m hoping our new friend may be persuaded to stay a few days,” he chuckled.  For some reason, that made her nervous.  Before she could respond, the evening meal was announced.  Everyone stood and moved to the next room where they gathered around a large table.  Each seemed to know their place; Grace was seated on her host’s left, with the right reserved for her hostess.  A moment of silence was given for those who wished to offer a private blessing, then ample amounts of food was passed around the table.  Grace discovered that she was hungry, but took only small portions of select foods.  Imogene scolded her apparent lack of appetite; “Eat” she said, “You’ll need to keep up your strength.”

Conversation was not lacking, but the one topic which was not mentioned was politics. (“It ruins the appetite,” Cedric told her later.)  Grace listened more than she spoke. “That’s how you learn,” a good friend had told her once.

The food was good and the conversation engaging, but Grace found herself growing sleepy.  She attempted to stifle a yawn, but it was noticed by their observant host.  “Where are our manners?” he said, “You must be exhausted.”  Without giving her time to protest/respond, Imogene pushed back her chair and stood up.  “Let me take you to your room,” she said.

The guest room was not large, but it was tastefully furnished, with an “en suite” where she could shower.  Grace waited until Imogene had said goodnight and closed the door to go behind her and lock it.  She could see that her bag had already been deposited in the room, and she needed to be sure her possessions were all there, and that nothing had been added.  When lifted, it seemed lighter.  Grace had a moment of panic, but a thorough check showed that everything was okay.  She carefully put everything back in the bag, then got ready for bed.  No sooner had her head hit the pillow than she fell sound asleep.

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Drumpf 2: Chapter 13

FUBAR is the acronym which best describes the country as it currently exists; SNAFU runs a close second.  Rarely has there been such confusion.  In the past weeks, cabinet level personnel have been quitting, being fired, or being forced into early retirement at an alarming rate.  All it takes is one independent thought and they are being shown the door.  Rumors have it that yet another member of the Supreme Court is being pressed to retire.  The danger in all this is that they are being replaced by a cadre of “yes men”.  Given the manner in which the former Attorney General was replaced, it is obvious that Roald Drumpf does not care about proper procedures, and will not hesitate to circumvent the rules if it suits his purpose.

The government is currently in a state of partial shutdown with no end in sight, thanks entirely to Roald Drumpf’s ego and his greed.  The legislature sent him a bipartisan budget which included funds allocated for building his border wall, but not enough to suit him.  Like a petulant child, he has declared that either he gets what he wants, or no one gets anything.  Despite an attempt to blame the blue party, Drumpf has declared himself proud of the shutdown, and that it will last a long time.  Perhaps his creditors will be as generous as he apparently expects those to whom the newly payless federal workers are indebted.

The stock market has been a real roller-coaster ride of late.  Precipitous drops have been followed by perilous highs, only to drop again. The theory is that the major brokers are taking their profits and making a run for it.  Is it possible that Drumpf’s bull market is about to crash into another great depression?  A rise in the nation’s prime interest rate certainly has him upset; each time the rate goes up, his profits go down.

The probe into the Russian election interference is coming to an end.  It has achieved multiple confessions and an even greater number of convictions.  Perhaps Drumpf will offer them pardons; how many would accept them?  A judicial rule written nearly half a century ago protects a standing president from being indicted, but that has not prevented people from going after Drumpf’s business ventures, or his charities.  He was recently forced to shut down his charitable foundation when it was discovered that he had used money from there to help fund his election efforts.

Roald Drumpf’s children have become targets of the Russian probe; it is possible that they might be prosecuted for their actions in their father’s behalf.  Of course, if convicted, they would expect to receive pardons.  It has been suggested that Drumpf might resign rather than put them through the experience, but given his power to pardon, it is not a given; he enjoys his power too much.

“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

It would have been delightful to be able to report that Roald Drumpf was on his way out of office, but alas, that is not yet to be.  When a bully gets his grip on a toy, it takes a lot to take it away from him.  The government has become Drumpf’s favorite play toy, and he has apparently decided to “take it home”.

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Her tea had grown cold in the cup by the time the police arrived.  Grace had kept her eyes on the were-man as he lie bleeding on her floor.  “That’s going to leave a stain,” she thought absently.  For a moment she wondered whether she should try to stop the bleeding, but she didn’t feel any desire to save the life of the man who had just tried to kill her.  Instead, she watched as his breathing became slower and more shallow.  When she couldn’t see the movement of his chest any more, she reached out with her foot to give him a shove and was rewarded with a moan of pain; it was the last sound he would ever make.  Her own shoulder hurt where he had scraped her with his weapon, but the bleeding seemed to have stopped.

Flashing lights and sirens signaled the arrival of the authorities.  Paramedics quickly checked his vital signs and pronounced him dead.  As they prepared to lift the body onto the gurney, Grace asked to be allowed to remove his mask.  “I have to know who this is,” she said.  The police officer nodded his approval; with shaking hands, she slowly removed the woolen ski cap, half fearing that she would find her husband hidden within.  She didn’t really expect to know her attacker, but he had filled her life with terror these past months, and she just wanted to know who he was.  Grace had squeezed her eyes tightly closed as the mask was lifted; when she slowly open them, she gasped.

“Do you know him?” the officer asked.  Grace nodded, “He is… was married to my best friend.  She’s been missing for a while, but her body was found in the park earlier this evening.  I can’t believe he killed his own wife.”  Lifting his head to meet her gaze, the officer replied, “I don’t know who, or where, your friend might be, but hers it not the body we found tonight.  Her name was Lillian, and she had lived on the streets for a couple of years now; all the shelters and street preachers knew her.  It’s a shame, really; she was a nice lady.”

The officer had examined the “crime scene”  while the paramedics were doing their work.  He took Grace’s statement, then told her she’d need to come by the police station in the morning to look it over and sign it.  “We’ll need to take your gun for evidence,” he added.  Grace chuckled, “Go ahead,” she said, “I don’t think I’ll be needing it any more.”

The paramedics had patched up the scrape on her back, which was painful, but not really deep.  What she needed the most, she decided, was a good night’s sleep.  After the officer had gone, she locked the door (“No point, really,” she said to herself. “No good locking the barn door after the horse is stolen.”) and headed off to make that happen.  Taking her pistol with her, she settled in to try and get some rest.   It made her feel safer to have her weapon close at hand.

She was just drifting off to sleep when she heard Reginald’s key turning in the lock.  “Grace,” she heard him call out, “Are you here?”  Grace met him at the door with her pistol in her hand.  “I’m here, ” she answered.  “Surprised?” “Disappointed?”  The expression on his face said it all.

Without waiting for his response, Grace picked up her coat and handbag and moved toward the door.  She glanced down at the packed bags she had placed there; she didn’t want their contents any longer, but knew there would be limited funds to replace those things she would truly need.  She picked up those few small bags and walked out toward the car.  The sun was just rising as she drove away from her home for the last time.

Her first stop on that early morning was at the bank, where she pulled as much cash as the ATM would allow from their joint account.  Reginald would be sure to freeze their joint account as soon as he was able, so she would need to be there when the bank opened if she hoped to get anything more.  The next few hours were spent in nervous anticipation.  When the bank at last opened their doors, Grace was the first one through them.  She emptied her own account, but thought twice about taking all of Reginald’s money.  She decided to leave him just enough to cover his expenses until his next check was due, but not enough to come after her.  Grace would need all the money she could get to establish a new life for herself.

She had used her card to put fuel in her gas tank, and to buy a few provisions for the trip.  How far she could go in the car was very much in question, for she felt sure Reginald had already reported it stolen.  Each time she passed a patrol car, she felt certain she was about to be pulled over and arrested.

Grace remembered that her friend had a sister who lived just outside Washington DC.  She had spoken with her in the days just after her friend had disappeared, and she had denied any knowledge of her whereabouts.  “Of course she did,” Grace thought, “I wouldn’t have told a stranger either.”  She still had the phone number, and hoped to be able to speak with her in person.  Maybe she could tell her how to find her friend, or maybe be of help with her own escape.  She would take a train into the city, then find her way from there.  She turned her car in the direction of the nearest town, a twenty minute drive away.  She was on her way, taking the back roads and driving carefully so as to draw no undue attention to herself.  She looked closely at every car she passed, but only saw one that she knew.  That was enough; she turned her direction in the direction of a town situated one hour to the west.  This time she made the trip unseen.

The train station was located on the outside of town.  Grace parked her car between two other vehicles and quickly made her way inside.  The pistol felt heavy in her pocket, and she could only hope that her carry permit was enough to allow her to keep it with her.  Certainly, she felt safer with it than without, and she decided to take her chances.

To Grace’s surprise, there was a line at the ticket counter.  She got into that line, hoping to disappear into the crowd.  As she had hoped, the vendor barely looked up as she printed her ticket.  With time to spare before her train, Grace found a seat and opened one of her sandwiches.  She was hungrier than she thought, and it tasted good. She watched the crowd as she ate; families, business men, and young people buried deep in their phones, each with their own reasons for travel.  Quite suddenly, she saw a familiar face in the crowd.  It was a police officer from her home town, and he was obviously looking for someone.  Had her car been spotted?  Grace lowered her head and slowly moved closer to a large, active family.  With her eyes always on the officer, she moved past them to the restroom.  She stayed there until time for her train, taking the opportunity to change her clothing and her hair style, cutting bangs where none had been before, and shortening the rest.

Grace thought she had packed light, but even her two small bags were proving to be problematic.  Individually they were not heavy, but together with her handbag they were unwieldy.  While in the restroom, she eliminated much of her clothing and a few other non-essentials, making her load lighter and easier to manage.  The remainder went back into the second bag, which she left behind in the farthest stall.  When her train was announced, Grace took a quick look around, then  strode confidently toward the platform and boarded her train.

Grace found a seat and settled in for the ride.  She’d had little rest the night before, and she soon fell asleep.  She was jostled awake hours later when the train pulled into its first station.  Neither she nor her possessions had been disturbed during her slumber, and she was certainly more rested and refreshed than before, but she knew that she didn’t dare allow that to happen again.  She was just beginning to realize how much her life was about to change.

Many hours later, the train pulled into Union Station in Washington DC.  It was a bustling transportation center unlike anything Grace had ever seen before.  Throngs of people lined the platforms which bordered the subway tracks which seemed to go in all directions.  The architecture was stunning, with vaulted ceilings which functioned to keep the noise to a reasonable level.  There were lots of shops and an expansive food court.  It was like a city unto itself, and Grace took a moment to wonder if any homeless lived here.  No, she decided, it was convenient, but far too expensive.

Gathering her things about her, Grace joined the myriad of commuters and tourists as they headed out into the city; just one more face in the crowd.  One of her early errands had been to purchase a “burner” phone, and to discard her own.  Now that she was in the city, she would make her one phone call, and hope for the best.

The view outside the front door was impressive, especially for a first time visitor.  Beyond the taxis and tour busses, the Capitol building surveyed the city from atop its hill.  Grace wished she had time to see the city, but this was a luxury she could not afford.  This was Drumpf’s city now, and the less time she spent here, the better off she would be.

Crossing the busy road into a green space, Grace made her call.  The phone rang several times, and she was about to hang up when it was finally answered. “Hello.” she heard, “Who is this, please?”  Breathing a sigh of relief, she answered, “My name is Grace.  You might not remember, but we spoke before.”  There was a moment of silence, then came the words, “Of course.  Grace.  My sister has mentioned your name.  Is there something I can to for you?”  Her heart suddenly beating loudly in her ears, Grace realized that she didn’t know what to ask.  “Can you,” she began timidly, “Can you tell me where she is?  Is she alive?”

An unexpected harshness came into the voice that answered, “Uncle Drumpf has ears everywhere in this city, and he would like nothing better than the answer to those questions.  So, no, I can’t give you the information you seek.”  Her voice softened as she continued, “The truth is, I don’t have the answers to give you.  Enjoy the city, Grace; there’s plenty of tour busses to take you to all the sights; I’m sure you’ll find it worth your money.”  The phone suddenly went silent.

A confused Grace made her way back to Union Station.  She had seen a table outside the doors where a woman was selling tours.  One was as good as another, she supposed, and she purchased a one day ticket.  “Climb on and off as often as you like,” the woman said, “Your ticket’s good for twenty-four hours from the beginning of your first ride.”  Grace wondered if there was a point to it all, but she had no other plans, and didn’t know what else to do.  Besides, she really did want to see the city, and this would give her time to think.  She climbed the narrow steps to the open deck of the bus, found a seat near the back, and plugged in the earbuds they had provided.  The guide was interesting and informative as the bus made its way through the city streets, but after a while her mind began to wander.  Although things would never be the same, the country had begun to recover from the devastation caused by the bombings.  It hardly seemed possible that this had happened only a few months ago; “Just another distraction from the real horror,” Grace thought.  People were strong there, resilient; could she become one of them.  She had hoped to find some… she wasn’t sure what here.  Help?  Information?  Encouragement?  That apparently wasn’t to be; rarely had she felt so alone.

Grace felt exposed seated atop that double decker bus.  Each time someone new came on board, she ducked her head until she was sure they weren’t looking for her.  “Even paranoids have real enemies,” she reminded herself, “Better safe than sorry.”  Still, it made her feel like a fool, and it diminished what joy she got from seeing the city.

When the bus came to a stop at Ford’s Theater, she got off long enough to buy a “MAGA” cap from a stand across the street.  She bemoaned the money wasted, and she abhorred the thought of wearing it, but the cap would hide her face and hair, making her feel a little less visible and afraid.  She climbed back on board and took her seat, donning her cap and tucking her hair behind her ears.  She hoped that it made her blend in with the other tourists.

There were plenty of other empty seats when he climbed those stairs, but he chose the one next to Grace.  She moved her bag closer under her feet to make room for him, but didn’t make eye contact.  He leaned across her to plug in his earbuds, and she saw he was smiling.  “I never tire of seeing the city this way,” he said.

They road in relative silence for a while, with only the patter of the tour guide in their ears.  During a lull in the chatter, he lowered his head to whisper to her, “Don’t be frightened, Grace; I’m here to help you.”  She froze, blinking hard.  “It is Grace, isn’t it?”

“How?” she asked, the question carried on a quickly exhaled breath.  He chuckled, a deep sound which spoke of both amusement and relief.  “You aren’t the first one I’ve spoken to,” he said.  “I was sent to find you,  but since we didn’t know what you looked like, I’ve spent my morning riding tour busses and speaking to women with bags at their feet.  I’m sure the others thought I was quite mad.”

The tour guide had started talking again, and for a while they listened to his words.  “This really is a fascinating place,” Grace thought.  When it was announced that the Lincoln  Memorial was to be the next stop, her companion said, “This is where we get off.  You really need to see this one.”  They walked off the bus with the rest of the tourists, her bag hanging from his shoulder.  “There’s time,” he said, “and you really should experience what’s here.”  He put his arm around her shoulder as they strolled from one site to another; the Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam Wall.  Those were her wars, Grace thought.  How many more monuments would have to be built here; how many more wars would there be before people came to their senses.

Anyone who saw them would think they were a couple on vacation.  Grace was surprised at how much she was enjoying herself.  They had saved the Lincoln Memorial for last.  It was an image with which she had been familiar most of her life, but nothing prepared her for the reality.  The grand scale of it took her breath away.  Her companion smiled to see her reaction.  “Come with me,” he said, taking her hand and leading her behind the statue.  Even there, the details were amazing. In the relative privacy afforded there, he turned her toward him.  “We’ll be walking from here,” he said.  “Arlington is just a twenty minute walk up the sidewalk.  I can take you as far as the gate to the cemetery, but that’s where I leave you.”  Grace had a moment of panic, “Where do I go from there?” she asked.

He shook his head, “I don’t know,” he said, “None of us knows the whole path, but there’s someone there who knows the next step.”  She nodded her head in understanding.  They made the walk in comfortable silence.  At the gate, he hugged her good-bye.  “Good luck,” he said as he handed over her bag, “and lose the cap; you won’t need it where you’re going.”  She gave him a weak smile, then turned to enter the gate.  Turning back, she said, “Thanks for your…”, but he had already gone.

Grace turned back toward the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery.  In this place where so many brave souls had come to rest, her new life would begin.  She took one step forward and began the journey that would lead to her future.

Drumpf 2: Chapter 12

Even a dead clock is right twice a day; “45” did his one right thing upon the death of “41” by proclaiming that the day of the funeral would be a national day of mourning.  He was made welcome to attend the services, along with the other living former Presidents.  There, Drumpf was observed to be shaking the hand of the man whose political legacy he had spent the past two years trying to destroy.  They and their respective First Ladies were seated together during the service.  Drumpf watchers report that he did not participate in the services, either by the singing of hymns or by joining in the reading of the Apostles Creed, which was printed in the program provided.  One photo shows him sitting with his arms crossed, looking bored.

The eulogy for “41” was given by his son, also a former President.  Not known for his skill in speaking, he none the less spoke eloquently in praise of his father as a parent, a patriot, a President, and a human being.  Like all politicians, “41” had his detractors, but most people remember him as a man who, despite his flaws and mistakes, had the good of this country at heart.

Once again, there are rioters in the streets of Paris.  It was not so very long ago that Roald Drumpf was there in conference with the French President, whose ire he raised by stating that the French would be speaking German now if they had not been “rescued” by the American army during World War II.  “We are allies, not subjects,” the French President declared.  Drumpf has since tweeted (or perhaps re-tweeted) that the Parisians are rioting because they “want Drumpf” to lead them.  He seems to be the only one who hears this.  The French are a proud and ethnocentric people.  If they do want Drumpf, it is doubtful that leadership is what they have in mind.

There seems to be a lull in the trade wars Drumpf has been waging against China, in particular, and others.  The tariffs he had imposed have done as much damage to America as they have to their intended targets.  Huge numbers of jobs have been lost in areas of this country which Drumpf had promised to build up.  The damage being done, the countries involved have now agreed that no further levies should be added between them, and China has even been asked to remove a few of the current ones.

Drumpf claims to be leading a “new liberal world order”, the goal of which is to block Russia, China, and Iran from access to major international financial sources.  “They have ample banking resources of their own,” he said.  Would those, perhaps, be the same ones who have loaned him all that money for so many years?  Perhaps the multimillion dollar penthouse  in Drumpf’s new “tower” in Russia’s capitol is to be Bosputin’s reward for all the help he has given Drumpf, both financial and political.

The Russian probe seems to be crawling to a close.  Drumpf has called for its end, but the blue party has declared that it is too late for the investigation to be stopped.  Several major players have been targeted for indictment, and Roald Drumpf may yet find himself on that list as “Individual #1”

While the country has had its attention focused on the immigrant caravan poised on our southern border, Roald Drumf has been busy selling off huge parcels of land from two of our national parks.  Being a real estate developer, he found this impossible to resist.  “I asked my friends,” he said.  They had assured him that the sales would be good for the country, and not at all a source of controversy.  Could it be that those same friends profited from those sales?

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True to his word, Reginald did not return that night.  Immediately upon hearing the car pull away, Grace stopped what she was doing to make sure every entry into the house was closed and securely locked.  In the process, she had assured herself that the outdoor measures were in place and functional.  Life with Reginald had been strained lately, but she had to admit that it made her nervous to be alone.  “Better get used to it,” she told herself, but the truth was that the longer it was taking to make her escape, the more difficult it was becoming to go through with it.

Having made her house as safe as she could, Grace discovered she no longer had any appetite.  She cleaned up and put away her food preparations and just made herself a cup of tea.  She turned on her television and settled in for a relaxing evening while waiting for Reginald’s return, but she couldn’t seem to keep her mind from racing.  This was her home, how could she just leave it?  Where would she go? How would she survive on her own?  She’d had to leave before, but that time she’d had Reginald by her side.  Despite everything, she knew she would miss the good life that they had once shared.  “That’s already gone,” she thought, “and it’s not coming back.”

Suddenly her attention was drawn to the television.  The screen was filled with a shot of the local police chief stepping up to the podium.  She turned up the volume to hear him say, “We think we may have found yet another victim of the killer known as the Were-man.”  Grace’s stomach dropped; as reporters called out questions, she already knew the answers.  While she couldn’t be certain, her heart told her that they had found her missing friend.  She didn’t weep; it hurt too much for something as petty as tears.

“That’s it, then,” she thought, “My last reason for staying here is gone.”  She finished her tea while listening to the rest of the news report.  The decomposing body of a female had just been discovered hidden along the hiking trail next to the same park where the were-man had been found dead.  Preliminary examinations of the body indicated that she had been killed by the same method employed by him on his earlier victims.

“Will this never end?” Grace wondered.  She attempted to recall exactly when she had last spoken to her friend, but it had been so long ago.  “Was it before or after his body was found?” she wondered.  Could this be a copy-cat killing?  If so… she thought about the blood trail she had seen in the park; it must have been recent, so how had it gotten there?  The last thing she wanted was for the terror to begin again.

Grace turned off the set and returned her tea cup to the kitchen.  She rinsed it out, dried it, and put it away; her kitchen was spotless again.  She had work to do before Reginald’s return, whenever that might be.  It was already dark outside; time was running out on her life here.

Walking around her home, Grace gazed with sadness at all that she would be leaving behind.  The list of things she wanted to take had grown, but her ability to take them had not.  “Only what you can carry,” she kept telling herself, “The rest can be replaced.”  One thing she had decided she simply couldn’t leave behind was one of the first gifts Reginald had given her, a .22/410 rifle/shotgun combination known as a “snake charmer”, “to keep you safe,” he had said.  She might have trouble getting it on a bus or train, but she had to try; now, where was it?

It wasn’t in the gun safe; Grace didn’t know the combination to the lock, but the safe had been opened to right the guns after their home had been invaded, and it hadn’t been inside at that point.  She would take this opportunity to look for it, first in the closets, and then in their “secret hiding space” in the attic.

She had been deep inside the bedroom closet when the outside light came on.  She stopped short when she heard the cans rattle outside the bedroom window.  Her .380 pistol was in her handbag in the living room, she just had to get to it.  Suddenly, she heard the sound of metal scraping across one glass window after another, followed closely by the insistent rattling of a doorknob.  Someone was outside, and they didn’t care who heard them.  Based on the sound they were making, Grace knew they couldn’t see her from where they were; now was the time to make her move.  Exiting the closet, she felt something fall against her leg.  Reaching down, she found her hand touching the object of her search.  As her hand closed around the twin barrels of her gun, she started to think she might be okay.

No sooner had that thought entered her mind than she heard the sound of glass breaking.  Shear terror filled her as she listened to the kitchen door being unlocked and then pushed open.  She made an effort to calm herself, but knowing he was now in the house with her made the task difficult.

The first thing she did, once she got her nerves under control, was to carefully break open her gun to see if it was loaded.  “Of course not,” she thought, “That would be too easy.”  She reentered the closet, hoping Reginald had hidden the ammunition near the gun.  While the intruder moved through the house, Grace frantically searched for the small boxes she knew held her only real chance of survival.  She had reached into the back corner of the shelf when her arm brushed across something, knocking it to the floor with a metallic jingle.  She froze in place, holding her breath while listening for any indication that he had heard the noise.  She pulled her hand away from the shelf, moving it slowly along the wall until it made contact with yet another small box.  Grace lifted it down carefully and opened it; inside she found six shotgun shells which would fit her gun.  With shaking hands, she slipped one shell into its matching barrel and closed the breech.  She would only get one shot, and she would have to make it count.  She dropped the remaining five shells into her pocket, just in case she got she got the opportunity for a second shot.

The click of the breech closing was echoed by the opening of the bedroom door.  Grace braced the gun against her side and silently waited for the closet door, already ajar, to be pulled open.  She didn’t have long to wait.  “Stay calm,” she told herself, “Breath slowly and squeeze the trigger gently.”  She listened to the intruder’s steady footfalls as he crossed the room.  She released the safety and rested her finger inside the trigger guard.  She waited.

Suddenly, the door flew open and there he stood, weapon raised and poised to strike, a  woolen ski mask obscuring his face.  In the split second before she squeezed the trigger, Grace could see the murder in his eyes and the sharpened tool in his glove covered hand.  In the second after, she saw the hate turn to shock and pain as he dropped his weapon and grabbed his abdomen; half a dozen spots of fresh blood were blooming between his fingertips.

The booming noise of the gun going off in the enclosed space was louder than Grace expected, the recoil stronger than she remembered.  She blinked in surprise, but knew it was now or never to make her move.  Using her gun as leverage, she pushed past her attacker and ran for the bedroom door.  As she slammed it shut behind her, she caught a glimpse of him bending down to retrieve his weapon.  He was moving slowly, but not slowly enough.

As quickly as she could, Grace moved through the house to where her handbag was supposed to be.  Her living room was a shamble; the contents of her handbag had been strewn everywhere, and her pistol was no where in sight.  Behind her, she could hear him coming.  Her heart raced as she turned to face him.  There he was, moving toward her with that same pain-filled gait she had seen in the were-man.  The spots of blood which had blossomed on his shirt had come together to form one large stain; if he didn’t get help soon, he was going to die, and he seemed determined to take her with him.

Grace made a decision; this all had to end tonight.  She quickly moved to the far reaches of the room, at the same time breaking open her gun to reload it.  Her hands were shaking as the expended shell was being removed from the gun and a fresh one inserted; he reached her side just as she was closing the breech.  With no time to take aim and fire, she once again used her gun to attempt to push around him.  As she did so, she felt his weapon glance across her shoulder, tearing at her clothing and causing her to scream in pain.  Spinning around, she used the barrel of her gun as a bludgeoning weapon.  Taking rough aim at his already injured abdomen, she swung as hard as she could.  He doubled over in pain, and Grace’s second blow came down on the back of his lowered head with a satisfying crack.

Grace stepped away, breathing hard. He was down, but not quite out; she could see that he was still breathing.  What she did next would be critical.  All that she had done thus far had been in self defense, but to finish him off now would be murder.  She could let him bleed out where he was, but he might become conscious before that could happen.  She could just make her escape tonight, leaving the mess for Reginald to deal with when (if?) he returned, assuming it wasn’t him bleeding on her floor.  What she couldn’t do, in the end, was leave an enemy behind to come after her.

While making her decision, Grace had gathered the scattered contents of her handbag, including her .380 pistol which had been kicked under the sofa.  The were-man was still alive when she was done, but his breathing had become slow and shallow.  Was he about to die?  There was something so familiar about him, and yet…

Grace stopped herself from removing his mask.  Instead, she picked up the telephone and called 911.  “I need the police,” she said.  “And an ambulance.  An intruder has broken into my house, and I’m very much afraid I may have killed him.”  After answering the operator’s questions, she made herself another cup of tea and sat back to see who would arrive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drumpf 2: Chapter 11

It has been said that some people can’t see past the end of their own nose; Roald Drumpf is one of them.  If it does not concern him directly, it doesn’t exist in his world.  He keeps his spin-doctors busy trying to make the rest of us see the world as he sees it.  Everything else is “fake news”, and once again he has raised the specter of creating his own world-wide “government” controlled news network to tell his “truth” to the masses.  Fascism, anyone?  It sends shivers down the spine of any thinking man or woman to imagine the possibilities.

Any criticism of Drumpf causes an uprising of his supporters on social media.  The memes they post (they rarely add their own thoughts beyond a bobble-headed nod of agreement) are usually variations of “these people did something similar, and you complain about Drumpf”.  Did no one ever teach them that two wrongs don’t make a right?  Dissimilarities of circumstance aside, we are supposed to learn from our mistakes, not repeat them.  When his political opponent sent unsecured emails, Drumpf made a huge political scandal of it; when his own daughter did the same, he added a fictional one hundred thousand emails to his opponents numbers, and his daughter was allowed to plead ignorance.  That would be the same daughter who has been his most trusted advisor in the White House, the one whose security clearance allows her access to our most secret information, and who most recently was put forth to be our next representative to the United Nations.

With the mid-term elections behind us, the new year promises political change.  It is predicted that Drumpf will be making personnel changes at the highest level.  With his Attorney General gone, one wonders who will be next.  The firings have continued in the White House with a senior staff member being let go following a confrontation with the First Lady.  The next who is expected to go is the current head of Homeland Security.

Despite the presence of a newly (illegally?) appointed acting Attorney General, the probe into the Russian interference continues.  The special council investigating the situation has stated that they do not answer to the court system.  It has been reported that Roald Drumpf had planned to testify before them; that ended when he received a list of the questions they planned to ask.  The acting Attorney General has declared that the probe may continue, but thus far he has not recused himself from trying to lead (or hinder) the investigation.  If he should recuse himself, he might find himself on the way out before he is ever truly (legally) in.

Every First Lady chooses a cause upon which to focus during her time in the White House.  The current FLOTUS has chosen an anti-bullying campaign, and cyber-bullying in particular.  Even she is aware of the irony of her choice, given the President’s history and habit of engaging in Twitter-terror.  She most recently made the news with the unveiling of this year’s White House décor.  Is she aware how much that row of red trees reminds us of the Handmaids from Margaret Atwood’s famous dystopian Tale?  CREEPY.  Intentional?

Roald Drumpf likes no one better than himself.  If narcissism is a mental disorder, then he is unquestionably certifiable.  He recently nominated himself to be Time magazine’s “Person of the Year”, an honor he held in the year of his election.  “Can you think of anyone better than Drumpf?” he asks.  Other presidents have had this honor, and some honorees have held it twice, but it is doubtful that any of them nominated themselves.

Drumpf has chosen this time to honor a few of his favorite people with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  This is the country’s greatest civilian award, thought by some to be the civilian equivalent to the military’s Medal of Honor.  While others may suggest people for this award, the only criterion if the approval of the President himself.  This year’s list of recipients included a long-time senator (red party, of course), well known sports figures, and Elvis Presley, among others.  Included among them was the wife of a major red-party campaign contributor.  While she is also a major supporter of several worthwhile causes, one may assume she received her Medal primarily because of the combined 130million dollars she and her husband contributed to Drumpf’s election effrorts, and the red party in general.

After weeks of walking, the South American “caravan” has finally reached the border of Mexico and the United States.  Roald Drumpf had authorized the use of deadly force against these “invaders”, which had fortunately been ignored by the military.  When a group of five hundred (the White House claimed it was a thousand) rushed the border, the soldiers fired “safe” tear gas into the crowd.  Drumpf has closed the border at their point of attempted entry, and threatens to do the same to the full length of it.  The Mexican government refuses to follow suit, and they completely deny that any agreement has been reached in which they would support the migrants while their applications for asylum were processed.  One man was heard to shout, “I’m done with the United States” as all his hope was lost.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Over the next several days, Reginald rarely left the house without Grace at his side, and he insisted upon going with her where ever she went.  While they were home, he virtually became her shadow, always staying within earshot, and usually within sight.  She would sometimes turn quickly while doing a task, only to step directly into him.  Grace feared that he had somehow learned of her plans to leave, but words were ever spoken of it.  She had taken advantage of one of his absences to make sure all her preparations were still in place; it was then she discovered that Reginald had somehow removed her name from the title and registration of their only automobile.  She could neither sell nor traded it, and if she drove it away, he might even report it as stolen.  She put the papers back in place and began to consider her alternatives.

Before her computer had been stolen, Grace had used it to open a new account at the bank.  Periodically, small amounts had been transferred into it automatically from their joint account.  It was not yet a large sum, but the longer it took Grace to make her escape, the greater it would become.  “With any luck,” Grace told herself, “Reginald won’t find out about it for a while, and I’ll keep getting the money after I’m gone.”  She knew better, of course.  Reginald would be sure to find it when he took her off the account, assuming he hadn’t discovered it already.

Everything else was still in its place.  Grace was anxious to go, but even more anxious to discover what had become of her friend.  There had been no word from her, and surely she would have learned by now of the were-man’s death.  The photos of him which had  been telecast on the local stations had seemed familiar, but Grace couldn’t help thinking that they didn’t seem quite right.  “I never saw him clearly,” she told herself, but the impression persisted.  “Maybe that’s why my friend is still in hiding,” she thought.

The park where the were-man had been found was near her home, and so Grace decided to start her search for her friend there at her first opportunity.  A few days later, she got her chance.  While Reginald was locked in his den taking a private phone call, Grace exited the back door and slipped away.  She quickly made her way toward the park, knowing what she had to do once she arrived.  There was a secluded spot which had once sheltered her homeless friend, and it was there she would begin her search.

The crime scene tape had been removed from the park; Grace wondered briefly whether much real effort would be expended in solving this one.  There was evidence that others had recently been in the park, but it was empty now.  Grace looked around carefully before moving speedily toward her goal.  Glancing around once again, she quickly slipped between the dense foliage into the clearing beyond.  She could immediately see evidence that someone had been there before her.  There was food debris on the ground, and an old blanket tucked beneath the shrubbery.  “It’s been a long time,” she thought, “Maybe someone else has been making this their home.”

She looked around for clues to who that might be.  The first thing she picked up was the blanket.  To her dismay, it was stained with a dark, crusty substance which she could only imagine was dried blood.  Casting her eyes around, she found a trail of the same substance leading through the bushes.  She followed it for a while; the drops were small and hard to see, but they lead her back to the entry to the park’s hiking trail.

“Grace? What are you doing here?”  The voice, coming as it did from behind her, had caused her to jump.  She spun around quickly to see her friend’s husband standing there.  Grace’s hand had tightened around the small gun she had hidden in the pocket of her jacket, and it relaxed only a little upon seeing him there.  She forced herself to take a breath and then responded, “Just out for a walk; it’s good to see you.  Has there been any news from your wife?”

He lowered his head for a second; “We had an argument before she left, not our first one.  I don’t think she’s coming back.”  Grace shook her head slowly, “But surely she isn’t still angry,” she said.  “Not angry,” was his reply, “just done.”  When he offered to walk her home, Grace could think of no way to refuse without causing suspicion.  “Lead on, McDuff,” she said, and lead on he did.

The short walk back to her home was made in silence.  She couldn’t remember him ever having been there, and perhaps he was taking his clues from her, but he seemed to know where he was going.   When they got within sight of the house, Grace said, “I’m right over there,” pointing, “Thank you for the escort.”  She questioned whether to hug him good-bye, but he had already turned and was walking away.  Grace watched him for a moment, then turned toward home.  She had hoped to slip in the back door unseen, but Reginald was waiting for her in the kitchen, and he was furious!  “Where have you been?” he demanded to know.

“I just needed some fresh air,” Grace replied, “I didn’t think you would mind.  The bad guy is dead, remember?  It’s safe to go out again.”  She crossed the room to hug him, but he flinched away from her embrace.  They hadn’t been truly affectionate for a long time, but Reginald’s response was unexpected.  Without another word, Grace continued past him into the living room.

With a deep sigh, she threw herself onto the sofa.  She knew the romance had ended years ago, so she wondered why his rejection bothered her so much.  She had let herself believe that they had grown closer during their adventure, and it hurt to know that it just wasn’t so.

“No, I won’t let myself dwell on it,” she thought, “There’s no point in it.”  She had lifted her head and was reaching for the remote control for her small television when she heard Reginald enter the room from behind her.  She turned toward him with “I’m sorry” on her lips, but the look on his face left her speechless.  What she saw there was pure loathing.  “This had all been your fault,” he said.  Before she could respond, he had gone into his den, closed the door decisively behind him, and locked it.

Grace was stunned; how could he say such a thing?  Did he mean it, or was he just angry?  Either way, it felt awful.  She sat there for a while, remote in hand, without making any moves to even turn on the television.  Through the locked door, she could hear Reginald talking with someone on the telephone, but she barely bothered to listen.  Grace had come to the sad conclusion that her time here was through.

Suddenly, she heard his voice raised in anger.  “You were supposed to take care of that,” he said.  Grace stood up and moved closer to the door to listen, but his voice had been lowered again.  She wasted no time in moving back toward the kitchen.  The last thing she wanted was for Reginald to know she had been listening to his conversation.

She had just started preparations for their evening meal when Reginald came into the room.  Seeing what she was doing, he said, “Don’t bother, I won’t be here.”  He picked up his jacket and walked out the door.  The next sound Grace heard was the car being started and then pulling away.

 

Drumpf 2: Chapter 10

A hotly contested mid-term election has come, but not yet gone.  The red party maintained and even increased their majority in the Senate, but a blue wave washed across the country, flipping more than an ample number of seats for the blue party to regain control of the House of Representatives.  Overall, the blue party garnered many more votes, but once again gerrymandering played a large part in the allocation of those votes.  Several elections across the nation were so close as to mandate a recount. In at least one case, a significant block of blue votes was discovered after the original count.  Whether any of those recounts will change the outcome of the election (both Gubernatorial and legislative) is yet to be seen.  Drumpf is attempting to put a stop to the recounts, giving the victory to his red party.

The first of the walking caravan is just beginning to arrive at the southern border of the United States.  Roald Drumpf has sent American military troops roughly equal to their number to meet them there.  His scare tactic of calling these migrants an “invasion” has untrained civilian militia heading to the border.  Far from being helpful, they are expected to be disruptive, destructive, and dangerous.  Some in the caravan are now expected to end their journey in Mexico, but there will be no asylum granted to any who attempt to enter this country illegally.  Drumpf has declared that we want people to immigrate here, but it must be done in a legal manner.  This process once took about six month to accomplish; it now takes about two years.

Wildfires are raging across the state of California, causing massive damage and even some loss of life.  At least one small town has been burned completely to the ground.  While firefighters battle the conflagration, people are coming together to help each other in this trying and tragic time.  Roald Drumpf has declared the fault for the fires to be mismanagement on the part of those charged with caring for the lands, and has threatened to remove federal funding from those offices.  An immediate public outcry has caused him to backpedal on this decision, as he has on so many issues when public opinion was strongly against him.

Roald Drumpf’s Attorney General has quit/been fired.  This happened immediately after the mid-term elections, when it became clear that the red party no longer had complete control of the federal government.  While the red party will do what they can before the newly elected take their seats in January, it is already clear that changes may be expected when the blue party takes control of the House.  Meanwhile, Drumpf has appointed an acting Attorney General, which some believe to be unconstitutional. It is a move designed to give Drumpf more control over the outcome of the Russian probe.  The acting AG believes that the investigation has already gone too far, and may not recuse himself from its control.   Drumpf sees this as an opportunity to shut it down altogether, but some in the blue party are already calling for his impeachment if this happens.  Evidence has been found that Roald Drumpf broke the law while in the process of running for President, and there are those who believe he would already have been indicted had he not been successful.  At this time, his newly confirmed Supreme Court justice is set to prevent that from happening.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

“WERE-MAN FOUND DEAD!”; Grace had just begun to make the morning coffee when  she heard Reginald call to her from the other room.  “Grace,” he shouted, “come in here!”  The tone in his voice was such that she worried he had hurt himself somehow.  Without taking time to turn on the coffee maker, she hurried to his side.

When she got to him, he was pointing to the television screen.  The picture showed paramedics rolling a covered gurney into the back of a coroner’s wagon, while a banner streaming across the bottom declared, “Were-man found dead.”  The look on Reginald’s face was one of disbelief, but there was something more.  Was it relief, Grace wondered, or perhaps a different emotion entirely.

“The serial killer known as the were-man was found in this local park (here the camera spanned briefly across the metal arch leading into the playground).”  The reporter went on, but Grace no longer heard his voice.  This was a park Grace recognized; it was very near her home, a place where her homeless friend had found shelter after she lost her house, and where she had ultimately lost her life.  Her focus came back to the television in time to hear the reporter say, “The people of this city can breathe easier tonight knowing our streets are safe once again.”  Grace thought that was far too broad a statement to be accurate, but just shrugged and let it go without a comment.  Reginald was not so reticent, “People aren’t safe in their homes,” he said sarcastically, “never mind the streets.”  Grace was laughing as she headed back into the kitchen to finish preparing their breakfast.

She wasn’t laughing later as she thought about her still missing friend.  Grace had tried to contact her husband, but he wasn’t answering his phone.  She wondered where he was, and if perhaps they were together.  She had not heard from either of them since the day her friend vanished.

By mid-day the local television news channel was showing photographs of the deceased “were-man”, along with the mask which he had been wearing when found.  He had been killed, the news station had reported, by his own weapon, which had been buried deep in his side.  It must have taken someone very strong to do that, Grace thought; so far the police had no clue.  “At least he won’t kill anyone else,” she said.

The more she thought about her friend, the more she knew she had to at least try to find her.  From her own experience, she knew that her friend had the resources to disappear if she found it necessary.  She hoped that was what had happened, but she feared the worst.  What if her friend had fallen victim to the were-man?  If she were hiding from him, would she reappear now that he was dead?  Was she aware he had been killed?  Could she have been the one who killed him?

Reginald had been locked in his den all day, coming out only long enough to grab a sandwich lunch.  Grace ate alone at the table while he returned to his den.  The television was playing loud enough to cover the sound of anything else happening there.  He needn’t have bothered; Grace was too occupied with her own concerns to worry about what he might be doing.  After some hours, the door opened and Reginald came out, pulling on his jacket.  “I’ll be late,” he said, “Don’t wait dinner for me.”

Grace watched him go with some concern; she had hoped this odd behavior would end with the death or capture of the were-man.  Rather that worry about it, she opted take this opportunity to gather what she would need if it became necessary to leave.  She would need all her personal papers, and especially the title to the car, so that it could be traded or sold.  Reginald kept these things in a file in his den, but he seldom checked it.  She would have to create a story in case he noticed it missing before she was gone, but she would work on that later.  Grace was still hoping she would not have to go, but she told herself, “better safe than sorry”.  In this case, safe really was the operative word.

Her “free-fall” kit was still largely intact.  Over-the-counter medications and other emergency supplies were well represented, but other things meant for starting over would have to be left behind.  When the time came, Grace would have to move fast; she’d be able to take only what was absolutely necessary.  The one thing which she would not forget was the small handgun she carried in her purse,  along with ample ammunition, and perhaps a knife large enough to be used as a defensive weapon.  She filled a large tote with non-descript clothing and sturdy, comfortable footwear which she hid in the back of her closet.  She hung a coat in front of it, along with gloves and a woolen scarf which she placed in the pockets.  Another small bag would hold everything else.

With this done, she made a quick meal of leftovers, then settled in to enjoy what she hoped would be a peaceful night.  She had placed a long bladed knife under the blanket which covered her… just in case.  Experience had taught her that strange things can happen; funny, though, she thought she should have felt safer with the were-man gone.  “Normal people do bad things, too,” she reminded herself.  “Most of us are really only one bad experience away from doing the unthinkable.”  She remembered her own “really bad experience”, and wondered again how Reginald had become mixed up in this, whatever it was.  She fell asleep waiting for his return.

The sound of the door being carefully opened woke Grace from an exhausted slumber.  Her hand wrapped tightly around the knife that still rested in her lap and , pulling aside the blanket, quietly stood up and moved into a shadow.  From there she watched as Reginald crossed into his bedroom and closed the door behind him.  He had been dirty and disheveled, looking as though it had been a rough night.  Grace settled back onto her sofa, but it would be some time before she fell back asleep.  “Where has Reginald been?” she wondered, “and what has he been doing?”

Grace fell into a heavy slumber sometime before dawn.  By the time she awoke, Reginald was gone again, and the knife which had been gripped in her hand had been replaced in its block.  Her heart began to thunder in her ears; if Reginald had wanted her dead… she supposed she should be grateful that whatever had occupied his night would have made a poor alibi.

Dirty dishes in the sink told her that Reginald had made his own breakfast, and that his appetite had been good.  Grace made a fresh pot of coffee, then dropped a bagel into the toaster.  A nervous stomach had taken away any desire to eat, but she knew she would need to keep up her strength to handle whatever might come next.

A call to her friend went straight to voice mail, letting her know the phone was dead.  “I hope her phone’s the only thing that’s dead,” she whispered to herself.  Grace determined to mount a search for her friend as soon as she was able.  She knew the location of a couple of “safe houses”, and a few other places where her friend might be hiding.  “I owe her that much,” she said.

By the time Reginald returned home, the house was spotless and their evening meal was already in the slow-cooker.  “You’ll have to make your own lunch,” Grace  told him.  “I have some errands to run.”  Reginald turned around from hanging up his jacket, “Why don’t I go with you?” he asked.  “We can get some lunch downtown.”

Grace’s heart plummeted, the last thing she wanted was for him to tag along.  She would have to put off her search for another day.  With Reginald at her side, she returned some library books, bought a few unnecessary groceries, and got a premature hair cut.  Each place she went, Grace asked people if they had seen or heard from her friend.  Fortunately for her, Reginald was as bored as she had imagined he would be, and trailed along behind without seeming to listen to her conversations.  Afterwards, they enjoyed a good lunch at his favorite eatery.

Every place they went, talk revolved around the death of the were-man.  Everyone was happy he was gone, of course, but a few wondered how he had gone so long without being caught, and who had finally killed him.  No one had come forward to claim either credit or blame, but most seemed to consider him or her a hero.  With each new comment, the look on Reginald’s face became just a little more smug.

 

Drumpf 2: Chapter 9

Whenever something outlandish or atrocious makes the headlines, an intelligent person looks behind the smokescreen to find out what’s really happening.  There always seems to be a bit of nefarious behavior going on somewhere that the “powers that be” would rather not have noticed.  The days recently past have been no exception.

Like a scene out of a movie, a large number of people out of South America have formed what is being called a caravan, and are walking their way toward the southern border of the United States.  They are not “illegal immigrants” as they have been labeled by the conservative media, and will not become such until they attempt to cross the border.  Roald Drumpf has made the unsubstantiated suggestion that there are Arabic people hidden among the South American throng.  He has claimed that he will declare martial law along the border to prevent any and all from entering the United States.  Perhaps in preparation for this, he has sent a military contingent into the area, and he has said that they might shoot into the crowd if necessary.

Mid-term elections are only days away, and Roald Drumpf has been making noises designed to nullify the results of the vote, should the hoped for “blue wave” wash away the red party’s control of the legislature.  His “broken-record” claims of illegal voters has droned on since his own election, and he has yet to produce any proof of his claim.  Meanwhile, the red party has been flooding phones of their own registered members with calls and texts, and has even sent volunteers door to door, hand delivering election propaganda to members of their own party, a not-so-subtle way of saying “We know who you are, and we know how to find you.”

With the Supreme Court now under his influence, Drumpf no longer has to be concerned that the contents of his federal income tax returns will ever be made public.  The newest justice made it plain from the beginning that he would protect his benefactor from harm; after all, they share so many of the same attitudes and behavior patterns.  Both are misogynists, and they are both prolific liars.  One senator admitted to doubting the veracity of statements made during the confirmation hearings, but decided to vote in his favor despite this.  It’s not whether we will regret his decision (the vote was 49-51), but how soon, and for how many years to come.

What message is being sent here?  Party loyalty is more important than doing what’s right?  “Good Old Boys” look out for each other.  One man recently said it all.  When arrested for groping a woman while riding on public transportation, he allegedly said, “The President says it’s okay to touch women on their private parts”; it’s known as the Drumpf defense.

The past few days have been marked by the delivery of packages containing pipe bombs to people and organizations known to be on Drumpf’s enemies list.  Fear spread across the nation.  Roald Drumpf responded by chastising the media for what he called their inaccurate and irresponsible reporting of the news.  A suspect was quickly found and arrested (At first reported to be a registered member of the blue party, it was later reported that he had little to no interest in politics before Drumpf came along.), but not before Drumpf had declared it an attempt to distract voters from the mid-term elections.  He also claimed that, should the red party lose seats during the election, it would be the fault of that distraction.  With his “illegal voters” ploy already in play, his next action will be to negate the results of the vote.  Should the red party win seats, of course, the nation will hear nothing more of it.

A major “rap artist” has become a representative of his sub-culture within Drumpf’s inner circle.  Is he, as Roald Drumpf claims, an old friend, or has be become a “token” as others claim, used for his potential influence at the polls?  Of those who don’t admire him, the vote is divided between anger and ridicule.  One news source recently reported that he had decided he was being used for things in which he did not believe, and has attempted to withdraw.

The country was recently stunned by a massacre inside a synagogue.  Drumpf’s response to this tragedy was to say it wouldn’t have ended so badly if those inside had been armed.  The next day, he spoke at yet another political rally.  Again, his only concern seemed to be that the media would use the shootings against him in the political arena.

The United States representative to the United Nations recently walked away from their post.  Roald Drumpf “could find no one more qualified” to take over the position than his own daughter.

In yet another attack waged in Drumpf’s war in illegal immigration, he has decided to issue a Presidential declaration revoking the citizenship of those people who were born in the United States to parents living here illegally.  While there are doubts this would be legal, there are equal doubts that the courts would do anything to stop him.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

“When is a door not a door?” Grace thought as she gazed hopelessly at the open portal to her home.  It was only slightly ajar (hence the joke), as though some attempt had been made to close it during the intruder’s rapid exodus.  She had been certain that Reginald had locked the door, but she wondered now if he hadn’t been just going through the motions.  So much of their lives had been by rote in the time since their return, she no longer knew what she could trust.

Reginald seemed to be upset.  Before Grace could say anything, he had pulled open the door and gone inside, rushing from room to room.  Grace moved more slowly, taking in the mess that had been left behind.  Things were knocked over and pushed aside in an obvious search for… something.  She was just pulling her cell phone out to call the authorities when she heard Reginald’s angry roar.  Still holding her phone, she hurried to his side.  He was in his den, fists clenched in rage and shaking with anger.  His gun safe had been knocked over and was lying on its back at his feet.  It had not opened, but had been severely damaged by an attempt to make that happen.  Grace couldn’t imagine any one person doing that amount of damage to anything so sturdy, and Reginald’s tools being scattered about the room seemed to corroborate her theory.

His desk drawers had been pulled open and the contents scattered, but nothing obvious was missing.  The mess in this room echoes that in the other rooms.  Grace assured Reginald that their homeowners insurance would replace his gun safe.  His big screen television was leaning against the wall upon which it had been hanging, but it had been left behind in the intruder’s hasty exit.

Being careful not to disturb anything, Grace went to check out the condition of the remainder of her home.  She worried that her security measures had been discovered, but she would have to wait for a more private time to see if they had been moved.

In the bedroom, she found her jewelry box tossed on the bed and its costume contents scattered about.  Her few “good pieces” had recently been moved to another location, and a quick check proved that they were still in place.  “From now on,” Grace said to herself, “I’ll have to take them with me when I leave the house.”  She had taken her cash savings  with her, although she knew the possibility of being robbed on the street was probably just as great, if not more so, as the occurrence of a home invasion.  She tossed her costume jewelry back in its box and rejoined Reginald in the living room.  He was talking on the telephone; Grace presumed he had called the police.  “No,” she heard him roar into the phone, “I don’t thing there is anything missing, but they destroyed my home.”  He listened for just a moment more before slamming down the hand set.  “They’ll come by later to take a report,” he grumbled.  “Worthless SOBs.”  He began to straighten up the room, righting what had been knocked over and picking up what had fallen to the floor.  Grace wondered at the wisdom of altering the crime scene, but as nothing had been taken, it seemed unlikely that the police would do more than take their statement, then grumble later about the useless paperwork it had caused.

Her train of thought came to an abrupt halt when she heard Reginald ask, “Grace, where’s your computer?”  She looked up to see him standing over the open drawer of a small table where she usually stored her laptop when she wasn’t using it.  Grace had developed the habit of logging out and putting it out of sight; no point in tempting Reginald by leaving it out in the open.

With the loss of her computer, she no longer had the ability to monitor her security system; a moment of apprehension told her that Reginald was aware of that.  While quite adequate for communications purposes, her cell phone was not of the “smart” variety.  She must have looked concerned, because Reginald was quick to assure her, “the insurance company will buy you a new one.”  Grace hung her head in defeat, she would just have to be patient and hope for the best.

The police finally arrived and took down a report of the damage and loss, but they hadn’t been encouraging.  “We almost never recover stolen items,” the officer said, “You should just write it off and let your homeowners insurance deal with it.”  Was that a smirk on his face, Grace wondered, as she watched him drive away.

After he had gone, Grace and Reginald picked up the remainder of the mess, then righted the gun safe and hung the television back on the wall.  Things were as visually back to normal as they could make them.

Grace didn’t feel much like cooking, so their quiet evening meal was eaten at a nearby diner.  This time Grace made certain that all the doors and windows were locked, and that the outside security was functioning.  They returned home immediately after their meal, and each went quickly to their chosen place for slumber.

After she was sure Reginald was asleep, Grace went to check on her “bugs”.  They seemed undisturbed, but without her computer, Grace had no way to know what they had “seen”.  “Worse,” Grace thought, “Whoever took it could know all that had happened here since it was taken.”  She decided to disable the system to prevent them from learning even more.

Early the next morning, Grace received a very disturbing phone call from the husband of her “resistance” friend.  “Have you heard from my wife lately?” he asked.  “She’s been acting kind of strange over the past few days.  Last night she just left without a word, and she hasn’t been home since.”  Grace wasn’t sure how much he knew about her “special activities”, so she told him it had been several days since they had spoken.  “Are you two okay?” she asked timidly.  She was assured that they were fine, “Although I have asked her to be extra careful.  You, too!  Several of her friends have been attacked lately.  She may have gone to check on one of them, I just don’t know.”  Grace assured him that she would be careful, and that she would let him know if she discovered anything.

That day and the next were spent in a state of limbo.  The local news had nothing to say, and none of their mutual friends had heard anything.  The only good news was that the “were-man” had also dropped out of sight.  Grace crossed her fingers that he didn’t have her friend.

On the morning of the fourth day, the headlines read, “WERE-MAN FOUND DEAD!”

Drumpf 2: Chapter 8

They finally accomplished their goal; the government of the United States of America as it was conceived and implemented by the founding fathers is no longer a functional reality.  It was designed to have three branches, executive, legislative, and judicial, each of which were connected by a system of checks and balances whose purpose was to keep any one branch from becoming more powerful than the others.  Now that the red party controls both the executive and legislative branches, this no longer applies.  Together, the executive and legislative branches have already confirmed two new justices to the Supreme Court, and have plans to install more in 2020 if they are still in control.  While nominees to the court are supposed to be politically neutral, there is bound to be a certain loyalty to the party that ushered them onto the bench.  With all three branches working together, there is nothing they can’t accomplish, including the complete destruction of this nation as we have known it.

So far this session, the Supreme Court has refused to hear a case which had the potential to restore voting rights of thousands of Native Americans.  Their could certainly be a political motivation to this decision, but maybe the issue just isn’t important enough in their estimation to be heard.  The newest justice has already made clear his desire to disembowel an earlier court decision, Roe vs. Wade, which allows for safe and legal abortions.  What else might this court have in mind that would deny or remove the rights of others?

If the mid-term elections alter the balance of power in the legislative branch of the government, things may get a chance to change for the better.  If not, abandon all hope, at least for the duration of Drumpf’s Reign of Terror.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

 

No sooner had Grace become determined to make her exit than Reginald decided he needed to be her constant companion.  “With all the attacks that have happened lately,” he had said, “you need someone around to keep you safe.”  Grace wondered if he was aware how ironic she knew that comment to be; while there was no real proof of his involvement in these attacks, she no longer had any faith or trust in him.

The only time in which Grace could get anything accomplished was while Reginald was asleep.  He had even been leaving the door to his den open while watching the news.  What Grace had been hearing on DNN made her upset and angry.  Drumpf  and his minions bragging about their successes while at the same time threatening and demeaning anyone who opposed them was almost more than she could bear.  It was no secret the degree to which Drumpf would go to see his enemies (real or imagined) taken down.  She held her tongue when Reginald was around, but she was seething inside.  It made her more determined than ever to get away.

Grace wondered where she could go that might be safe.  She had no friends or family to whom she could turn for help, nor would she want to subject them the potential danger or harm this might bring upon them.  Politics had closed international borders both north and south.  She thought abut the places to the west; parts of the country had been majestic before being destroyed  by the handful of bombs that had fallen that early morning.  The news had moved on, and no one had ever taken credit or been blamed for the act that had changed the topography of the nation.  She thought about the cities and towns they had visited, and knew that her new home would not be found there.

She thought for a moment about the Native Americans “insurrection” to which they had been exposed during their journey.  It had been brought to an end by Drumpf’s National Guard, and all those involved had lost their right to vote; the new Supreme Court had made sure those rights would never be restored.

“Maybe Europe’s an option,” Grace thought.  “A simple life in a small town or village…”, then she sighed.  A simple life, yes, but not in Europe.  She took that dream off her bucket list and moved on.

Perhaps she could “lay low” in a city somewhere, Grace pondered.  It would be easy to be anonymous among so many strangers.  There would be shelters and “soup kitchens” to help her until she could get on her feet.

Whatever else he had been, Reginald had always provided a reasonably comfortable life for the two of them.  Grace had enjoyed the luxury of being able to help the poor and hungry who had come to her door.  Now, she realized, she would be one of them.

The thought of homelessness brought with it a mental image of an old lady wearing a stocking cap and pushing a shopping cart through the streets.  “That’s not me,” Grace whispered to herself, “Please don’t let that be me.”  Most of the street people she knew kept their few possessions in a knapsack and carried them wherever they went.

Her journey with Reginald had taught her a little about what she would need to survive “out there”, but a lot more about what to leave behind.  In the dark silence that was her night, Grace began to gather what would be necessary for the next part of her life.

Reginald had always been careful with his finances, but lately he had become downright tight-fisted.  He had begun to go with Grace on her shopping trips, and to demand that she account for every dollar spent.  Fortunately, she had managed to put away a few dollars before he became so controlling.  She had some jewelry she could pawn without it being missed, and a few items she could sell “on line” if there was time before her “departure”.  Altogether, Grace figured she could put together enough cash to get her to her destination, wherever that might be.

It had been just over a week since the intended intrusion when Reginald suggested they should get out of the house for a while; maybe enjoy a picnic in a nearby park.  Despite the lack of recent calls, Grace was immediately suspicious, and attempted to plead a headache.  Reginald would hear nothing of it.  “The fresh air will do you good,” he said.  Realizing she was being given no choice, Grace packed a quick lunch (and a few other things) in a large insulated tote bag.  Along with the food, she had packed a sharp knife- to cut the sandwiches, she explained.

Despite her doubt, Grace had to admit it was a beautiful day to be outside.  The sky was clear, and there was just a hint of chill to the air.  She had just begun to relax when she spotted what she thought were birds flitting among some nearby tree branches.  “Not flitting,” she thought, “hovering, and not birds.”  Upon closer examination, she could tell that she was watching drones hiding among the trees.  Were they also watching her, she wondered.

Grace stood up quickly, “We have to go home,” she said.  Reginald seemed surprised, but gathered the remains of their meal and joined her in walking back toward their street.  As she suspected, the drones followed at a distance.

Reginald and Grace arrived home to find their front door standing open, as if someone had made a hasty exit.  In the bright light of day, someone had taken advantage of their absence and broken into their house.

Drumpf 2: Chapter 7

FYI:  Drumpf’s wall is not an original idea, but has been copied directly from the wall built by the Russians after World War II.  Running the length of the border dividing East and West Germany, it is studded with guard towers.  It’s soul purpose was to prevent people from crossing the border between nations.

_______________________________

With mid-term elections only weeks away, the nation was startled by the a report released by a major news media, called an op-ed. It contained a statement from an inside source which revealed that there were handlers within the White House whose task it was to prevent Roald Drumpf from implementing the most dangerous of his ideas.  The source was anonymous, and the handlers unnamed.  There was wide spread speculation as to who these might be, but while many were quick in their denial, no conclusion has been reached.  The evidence offered could be enough to bring the twenty-fifth amendment into play; perhaps those in real power are waiting for the results of November’s vote to take action.  A change in power could bring with it the possibility of impeachment, taking the credit/blame for Drumpf’s removal from office away from the Red party.  The twenty-fifth amendment allows the members of the Presidential cabinet to “temporarily” remove a president from office should he be deemed unable, or unfit, to perform his duties.  This could be seen as a mutiny by Drumpf’s remaining supporters; either way the standing Vice President would take his place in the Oval Office.

The battle to confirm Roald Drumpf’s choice for Supreme Court justice continues.  Drumps insists that he be pushed through in advance of the mid-term elections.  A change of political balance, should it occur, could potentially put an end to Drumpf’s ambition of dominating the Court, and to his dream of immunity from prosecution.

The greatest obstacle to the nominee’s confirmation has not been his judicial opinions, which are highly conservative, nor the plethora of lies he has told about his drinking habits, but an accusation of sexual misconduct allegedly perpetrated while he was in high school.  “Boys will be boys,” seems to be a common attitude on the matter, the same attitude which prevailed when Drumpf faced similar accusations during his run for office.   Sexual aggression is an indication of a character flaw which has found reflection in his attitudes about women’s rights.  The issue has become less about whether the crimes were committed, and more about whether anyone cares.   How, or even whether, he is judged is less important than the potential consequences of allowing him the power to make those judgments which could affect the future of our nation.  This is not a chance we should be willing to take.

In a surprise move, Roald Drumpf has ordered an FBI report on his nominee.  One may imagine he is hoping (or has suggested) that it reflect well on his choice. Either way, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Drumpf will get his way in the manner.   It’s a “Good Old Boys” confrontation, and if they win the battle, the rest of us lose.

Drumpf’s trade war with China has begun to have an adverse effect on the American consumer; even the dairy industry has been effected.  New trade agreements are being written every day which will change the face of our economy for the worse.  Even as his supporters chant about a strong economy, rising prices are cancelling out any advances in jobs or pay.  Economists agree that current economic advances are temporary.

Roald Drumpf recently gave a speech in front of the United Nations.  He spoke of the increase in our military budget, and in his usual superlative terms declared that our military would soon be the strongest and best it has ever been.  Misusing the intent of the Monroe Doctrine, he declared that the United States would have the ability to “go it alone” without its allies.  Those delegates in attendance laughed openly.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

 

In the days since her new security measures had been put in place, Grace has become not less nervous, but more.  Reginald had smirked at her when she had brought home the motion-sensor lights for the outside of the house.  He had helped her to install them, but not without a few snide remarks.  “Who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf?” he had muttered in a sing-song manner as he climbed the ladder to put them up.  He had chided her about wasting the money on their purchase, and made it plain that he was only humoring her “paranoid fantasies” by doing as she asked.

Reginald had been going about his usual daily routine, spending much of his time alone in his den.  The voice activated recorder Grace had hidden there had yielded several cryptic phone calls, both in and out, including one in which Reginald answered the ring, listened for a moment, and then responded, “ten-four”.  The sarcastic manner in which this had been said was not lost on Grace, nor was the decisive click with which he had hung up the phone.

The voice on the other end of these calls always seemed to be the same one, but no names were ever mentioned, and it was not a voice Grace recognized.  It was muffled, as though to disguise it, but the words were clipped and precise in their diction.  Within an hour of each call, Reginald had made an excuse to leave the house.  Grace wondered what he had gotten himself into, and why.

He was rarely gone long, but on the night in which he had answered in ten-code, his absence lasted  until well after nightfall.  Grace had prepared their evening meal at the usual hour, but after waiting some time for his return, she had eaten alone.  “What,” she had wondered to herself, “is keeping him so long?”

Grace was putting the remainder of the meal into containers when her trip-wire alarm sounded.  At the same time, her security lights flashed bright for a split second before her power went out, leaving her in the dark.  A terrified Grace groped for her handbag in its usual place and retrieved her pistol.  Safety off, she waited in the darkness with the sounds of someone trying to break into her house ringing loudly in the otherwise silent night.  A silhouette, almost invisible in the pale moonlight, appeared in a window for just a moment, and then was gone from sight once again.  Grace couldn’t be sure it was the person she had seen before; he looked much the same, but (perhaps) the odd gait appeared to be a bit less pronounced than before.

The power had still not been restored by the time Reginald returned.  “Grace,” he called out as he unlocked and then opened the front door, “are you okay?”  After finding her, frightened but unharmed, he had taken a flashlight out to find that the main breaker had been thrown.  “It must have been a power surge,” he insisted as he flipped it back into position, but none of the other lights in the street had gone dark.  As the lights came back on, Grace had time to wonder whether it was normal that the main power switch was the only one which had been affected.

Back inside, the night continued in its usual pattern.  Reginald ate his reheated meal in silence.  He did not ask Grace about her experiences in the dark, not did Grace offer the information.  He had also given no explanation of where he had been for so long, or what he had been doing.

The next morning’s local news opened with the story of yet another attack.  The victim had survived by wrestling the weapon (a sharpened gardening tool) from her attacker’s grip, but she had been wounded in the attack.  The perpetrator had escaped into the darkness.  When they showed the victim’s photo, Grace’s stomach began to churn; the face was familiar.  “It’s only a matter of time before they come for me again,” she thought.  It was at that moment that Grace decided to formulate a plan for her escape.

 

 

Drumpf 2: Chapter 6

To paraphrase a national news source, Roald Drumpf once again had a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad,” week.  The most publicized had been the news surrounding the funeral of a well-liked senator.  Drumpf was told (in no uncertain terms) to stay away.  He spent the day of the services on the golf course, but his daughter and her husband were in attendance.  Their presence was not well received by those active on her father’s favorite social media, and it didn’t stop several speakers there (including the senator’s daughter) from taking digs at Drumpf and his favorite political meme, “Make America Great.”  His comment was, “Mission Accomplished.  America is great again.”  Hers was, “America was always great!”

A big deal was made by Drumpf’s supporters when he donated his  40K salary (a drop in the proverbial bucket to a man of his great wealth) to charity (tax deduction, anyone?), but less was said when he rescinded the minor 2.1 percent raise which had been promised to civilian government employees.

Drumpf is currently battling  with his Attorney General, who he still blames for recusing himself from involvement in the Russian investigation.  The current bone-of-contention involves the AG’s continued refusal to allow the justice department to be influenced by a political agenda, and this time it may cost him his position.

The confirmation hearings for Drumpf’s nominee to be the next Supreme Court justice began this week.  The opening was marred (or enhanced) by protestors demanding that the hearings be delayed.  Knowing that the results of the mid-term elections might change the balance of power in Congress, and thus lower their chances of pushing their candidate through, the questions continued.

Drumpf’s nominee is known to be ultra-conservative, and to be a real threat to our civil rights.  He has made no secret of his opposition to Roe Vs. Wade, and has even stated that birth control is a sort of preemptive abortion.  The greatest threat he holds for the nation is his fervent belief that a sitting president cannot be indicted for federal crimes.

In a surprise move the White House recently released 42,000 documents pertaining to the nominee’s legal history, leaving no time to adequately read and examine them.  A hundred thousand pages are still being held back; what are they hiding?

The more that is discovered concerning the probe into the Russian interference in the election, and Drumpf’s part in it, the closer we come to the possibility of impeachment.  Roald Drumpf, of course, insists that will never happen.  “How can they impeach me,” he insists, “when I’m doing a good job?  They have no reason to impeach me while I’m doing such a great job.” He insists that his supporters will revolt if he is impeached, and at least one right wing faction has threatened (no, promised) bloody revolution.

With mid-term elections looming, Drumpf has been spending as much time “stumping” for his parties candidates as he has doing his job.  (Perhaps we should be grateful for that.)  He claims that, should the blue party gain control of the Congress, violence would occur.  He clarified by saying that they would quickly (and violently) take away all that he had accomplished since taking office.  Hmm… isn’t that what he’s been doing to the administration that came before him?


 

 

“Calm down, Grace,” she told herself as she pulled out of the parking lot.  “You can’t let Reginald know what you’ve found out or he’ll know what you’ve been up to.”  She decided to stop at a local diner to get a bite to eat, and to let her nerves settle before returning home.  Reginald wouldn’t be expecting her for a while, and she needed some time to figure out her next move.

Iced tea and an egg salad sandwich were just the ticket.  Grace had chosen a booth near the back where she could watch without being noticed.  She had parked her car in the rear of the building where it wouldn’t be seen; no point in drawing unnecessary attention, she thought.  As usual, she was careful to lock it before walking away.

She thought about the conversation she had just shared with her friend from the resistance.  She had, she said, tried to call after the first murder because she recognized Grace’s address.  Reginald had taken the call, and assured her that all was well.  When the killings continued, she’d tried to call back to tell Grace to be cautious.  Once again Reginald had answered the phone, and this time he had angrily told her to stay away.  “We can take care of ourselves,” he had said, “and if it’s ‘your kind’ he’s after, I want nothing to do with you!”

Grace wondered why he hadn’t told her about the calls, or about what he knew.  Any time she had tried to discuss the situation, he had become angry and told her to stay out of it.  He got angry a lot lately, she thought.  Grace decided that, while she couldn’t talk to Reginald, she needed a way to keep herself safe.  If she couldn’t trust him to be honest with her, she certainly couldn’t trust him with her security.  She stifled a giggle, suddenly remembering  the “Home Alone” movie franchise.  “A bit far fetched,” she thought, “but I’ll come up with something.”

She paid for her lunch with cash, leaving just enough tip that she wouldn’t be remembered.  When she got to her car, there was a torn piece of paper stuck under her windshield wiper blade.  In block letters, it read, “BACK OFF”.  A newly terrified Grace checked her back seat, floorboards, and even inside her trunk, before unlocking her car and getting in; she relocked her doors before beginning her drive home.

When she arrived there, it was to find Reginald at the kitchen table enjoying a plate of reheated leftovers.  Looking up, he said, “You should make this more often, it’s pretty good.”  Grace didn’t answer, and he didn’t seem to notice that she was upset.

“You’ll ruin your supper,” she said as she walked past him to put her handbag in its usual place.  Before putting it away, though, she retrieved the .380 caliber pistol she had carried on the road, making sure it was loaded and the safety on, then tucked it neatly inside.  She felt a little better already.

Three days went by without incident.  As a precaution, Grace had stretched noise making trip wires between the bushes outside.  She had considered scattering shards of glass, but her concern for possible stray animals caused her to reconsider.  Reginald was annoyed by her insistence that they hang sleigh bells, salvaged from the Christmas decorations in their attic, on their doors at night.  In finally giving into her desire to do that, he made it clear that he was just humoring her.  “Really, Grace,” he had said, “You have got to stop being so paranoid.”

“Even paranoids have real enemies,” she mumbled under her breath.  She and Reginald had always had their differences, but she’s never before had reason to distrust him; she didn’t like it!  She also didn’t understand it.  Reginald was not the were-man, of that she was certain, so what was his part in all of this, if any?

On the evening of the fourth day, and just as they were finishing yet another silent meal, the phone rang.  Before Grace could respond, Reginald pushed back his chair and jumped to his feet.  “I’ll get it,” he said, and with that he hurried to answer the phone.

Grace cleared the table, then walked over to listen in the doorway.  Reginald was speaking softly with his hand covering the phone, so she couldn’t hear a thing.  She’s slipped back into the kitchen before he could see her and began her usual clean-up.  What was there about this conversation that he didn’t want her to hear, she wondered.  She made up her mind to find a way to figure out who he was talking to, and what they had to say to each other.

The next morning, Grace awoke to find that Reginald had already gone.  It was nearly noon before his return.  He immediately went into his den and shut himself inside.  Soon, Grace could hear the sounds of DNN filtering through the door.

She had spent her morning on the phone with her friend from the resistance, and she had gained some valuable advice on what she needed to do next.  There was a good electronic supply store in town, and she planned to “bug” her own house.  It made her feel foolish, but she wasn’t taking any more chances.

Before the car engine had a chance to cool, she was behind the wheel and on her way.  The woman at the electronics store had been most helpful.  “You’d be surprised how much home security equipment we’ve sold since these killings started,” she said.

Grace bought a motion-activated system for outside; she’d get Reginald to help her put it up when she got home.  When she asked about the “kind of stuff private-eyes use, you know, to listen in on private conversations”.  The clerk hardly blinked, “We sell a lot of those, too.” she said.

With her purchases secured, Grace headed for home.  That night, after Reginald had gone to sleep, she planned to put her “bugs” in place.  The mics were so small, and the recorder easily hidden, she figured he would never find them.  Grace didn’t know what she was doing, and she wasn’t sure she could handle what she might discover, but the one thing she couldn’t do was stand by and do nothing.

 

Drumf 2: Chapter 5

Let us offer a moment of silent respect upon the death of a good man, one who spent his life serving this country, both in the Navy and in the Senate.  Considered a maverick among his peers, he was known for putting the good of this nation above party politics.

Flags are flying at half-mast across the nation’s capitol in his honor, but at the White House this lasted less than forty eight hours.  Public uproar caused 45 to relent, and to declare that the flag would be returned to half-mast until after the service, one at which he had been told he was not welcome.  The White House plans to send representatives to the service in his place.  Two former Presidents, one from each political party, have been asked to give the eulogies there.


 

Public opinion, expressed with adequate vehemence, can make a difference.  Roald Drumpf will not be getting his military parade, at least not this year.  If there is any justice, it will never happen.  If there is any real justice, he won’t be in office to watch it.

With his allies walking away, and his “fixers” becoming foes, it begins to look as if the end result will resemble the Watergate scandal.  The investigation into the Russian interference into the election that brought Drumpf (and his handlers) into power is beginning to produce some exciting results.  There have been many indictments; one of the defendants, Drumpf’s campaign manager, has been found guilty of eight counts of breaking election finance laws “at the direction of and in coordination with” Drumpf,  and is now facing many years in prison.  A second, Drumpf’s former personal attorney, has confessed to his part in paying two women to remain silent about their relationships with Drumpf, who stated that paying “hush money” is not illegal, but that the defendant’s “flipping”, his cooperation and confession, should be.  It has been said that if Drumpf were not President, he would already have been indicted along with the rest of them.

A former employee, who also worked for a time in the Drumpf White House, has written a “tell all” book in which she accuses Drumpf of being a racist.  For proof, she offers recordings of conversations with him in which the N-word was used by him.  Unable to deny the content, Drumpf blustered that the recordings were made illegally, without his knowledge or consent, and so aren’t evidence.  Perhaps not in a court of law, but the court of public opinion may be a different matter.  Some folk believe everything she has written or said.  Others blame her for having “sold out” by having worked for him in the first place.  Their claim is that, in so doing, she betrayed her own race.  Doesn’t that seem to validate that what she has to say is true?  Now that her book is published, she stands ready to testify at his impeachment trial, should it occur.  Is it wrong to hope that the road to impeachment is now within sight?

In the midst of all this, the First Lady has announced an intended visit to Africa, a visit she will be making without the President.  Drumpf immediately initiated a probe into the region she intends to visit which made false claims about “improper” activities there.  These claims were immediately rebutted.

An amusing observation has been that the First Lady has been “trolling” the President, watching news media of which he disapproves, and sending subliminal messages by way of her clothing choices.  Twice, she has worn a blouse sporting a detail known as a “pussy bow”.  At his State of the Union address, she was seen wearing a white pant suit reminiscent of his political opponent, and who can forget the infamous jacket worn when visiting the imprisoned children at the southern border.  “I really don’t care. Do U?”  To what does that refer? Being a mother seems to be important to her, so it is doubtful it refers to the children, or even the situation (both she and her parents are immigrants).  Drumpf claimed it referred to the press, who were bound to see it.  Perhaps, just perhaps, she was voicing her opinion of him; or maybe it was just an unfortunate choice of wardrobe.



 

A restless night lie ahead for Grace, who was jolted awake by every small noise coming out of the dark.  Early in the evening, she had moved her attempts at slumber into the living room.  She and Reginald had begun to share a bed again during their journey, and that practice had continued since their return home.  It seemed considerate, given the circumstance, to let him rest, but she had to admit to herself that it felt natural to once again sleep alone.  When that sleep finally came in the predawn hours, it was deep and free from dreams.

When she awakened, it was to the sound of steady rainfall against her window.  It took her a moment to realize that the rain would have erased any evidence of last evening’s attempted invasion.  Reginald hadn’t believed her, and now the police wouldn’t either.

The day began like any other day.  Rain continued to come down throughout the morning.  They shared breakfast, then Reginald retired to his den.  After cleaning up, Grace settled onto the living room sofa with a good book.  Being tired, she soon rested her book against her chest and drifted back off to sleep.  She woke up later to see Reginald standing over her.  She sat up quickly, stifling a gasp.  “He attacked another one,” he said.  “This time she got away.”

Grace wanted, needed, to talk with the survivor, but she knew Reginald would not approve.  “Do you know who she was?” she asked him in a nonchalant way.  The name he gave her was unfamiliar, but then he mentioned that she was in the local hospital.  Grace knew what she had to do, but she had no intention of telling Reginald.

She waited a moment, then glanced at her watch.  “Look at the time,” she said, “I’m going to be late for my lunch date.”  When he asked “who with”, she named a woman she knew Reginald disliked, then asked, “Did you want to come with me?”  As she had hoped, he refused her “invitation”.  Before he could question her further, or change his mind, she grabbed her purse and made a quick getaway.

As she drove toward the hospital, she wondered what she might say.  It occurred to her that if the police were there, they might not let her in.  It was a chance she had to take.

Minutes later she was pulling into the parking lot of the hospital.  As she had feared, there were patrol cars in the spaces nearest to the door.  “That’s normal,” she told herself, “It doesn’t mean they’re guarding the were-man’s victim,” but the thought didn’t do much to calm her nerves.

After finding a parking spot, Grace took a good look around before walking toward the entrance.   She had seen no one on the lot, and she felt foolish for being so nervous.  No one paid any attention when she walked through the door, and no one seemed to notice as she made her way toward the intensive care unit.  As she had feared, there was a police guard outside the double door leading to the unit, so she slipped into a nearby waiting room to think.

To her great surprise, sitting there was her friend from the underground resistance.  “We meet again,” she said softly, smiling at Grace, who smiled back while taking her seat.  “What are you doing here?  No, wait…let me guess; you heard about the attack and had to see for yourself.”

Grace nodded, then asked, “Did you know her?”  Her friend flinched, “It’s DO dear, and yes.  She’s one of us.”

“Us”, Grace didn’t have to ask what that meant.  “Were any of the others…us?”  Her friend nodded, “Every one,” she said, “except your neighbor.  We thought maybe you were the intended target that night, but your husband…”

“My husband?!”, Grace interjected, “What’s he got to do with this?”  “Nothing,” she was assured, “He just told…ugh, asked… us not to bother you with our worries.   Remember, this was before all the other murders.”

Grace nodded her head.  She had found the answers to her questions, but those answers had come with questions of their own.  When her friend was called back to visit the patient in the ICU, Grace made her excuses and made her way home.  She had some questions for Reginald, and she was afraid she wouldn’t like the answers.