I recently fucked up. Seriously. Not an unusual event in my life, but here’s the backstory offered as context — not as an excuse.
This blog attracts an eclectic demographic: international best selling authors to world-class cognitive neuroscientists to quiet armed professionals from many countries to (reportedly) some higher-end bad people as well. There’s significant representation from those in the profession of arms — both military and law enforcement — out protecting us from the bad people, and many many world-class trainers (as well as those who aspire to be). There are a lot of Americans who exercise their 2d Amendment rights, as well as international folks who for various reasons carry and conceal weapons. And I get much broader play than even I suspect sometimes – just this past week I was honored (and greatly surprised) by the deeply respected Ol’ Remus of THE WOODPILE REPORT with his inclusion of my random thoughts here: http://www.woodpilereport.com
While I’m just an old researcher and writer these days, I did spend a few years going in harm’s way with the requirement to carry and conceal various types of weapons. I count amongst the people I was fortunate enough to have equip me my late friend Bruce Nelson, Milt Sparks (Tony Kanaly’s first holster build after he was hired at Milt Sparks was a classic Summer Special for me, to house one of the first Sig P-220 Americans, as the magazine release version of the European Sig was called), Andy Arratoonian, Ken Null, Greg Kramer, and so on. If you don’t know who those people are or were, you’re either young, not in the biz, or don’t care about the history of concealed carry. That’s all cool. Stick around and hit the links below.
Back in the day (80s through early 2000s) you could find my byline or pen name in COMBAT HANDGUNS, SWAT, GUNS AND WEAPONS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT, and some of the other various gun rags. While my area of expertise was training and training research, I did gear reviews as well. At one point (in the 90s) I was probably one of the most prolific gear review editors in travel, outdoor, and the tacti-cool community – focused on hard and soft goods EXCEPT actual guns.
I’ve been (many times) in the last 30 or so years asked (either formally under contract or informally as a favor to friends) to advise on gear selection for various units and individuals. This ranges from pointing procurement officials at little known niche makers to doing my independent evaluation of name gear, and in some instances just purchasing (with Other People’s Money!!) X in X quantity for X people.
Like a Ronin S-4 (because I may ambush you with a cup of coffee if you piss me off), I run a heck of a supply room when I get going.
I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine who works at a high level in the counter-terror business. He works in plain clothes and while conversant in the latest and greatest, often humors this old man by asking my opinion about various things.
My friend in deep cover, in a Non-Permissive Environment, armed with a locally procured knife
What he asked: “If you were equipping men who must work in plain clothes in a hot and non-permissive environment, who would you recommend they look at for deep concealment holsters and pouches?”
My answer: “I’d tell them Black Center Tactical for the IWB rig he makes, but with the addition of an extra-long Incog strut. Clean, simple and to the point. Elegant design, just what you need and nothing more. You don’t have to be an engineer to figure out how to put it on and adjust it. Easy on and off, in case you have to ditch or stow the weapons and holsters. Excellent retention and quite suitable for deep concealment.”
He said: “I thought you didn’t like their gear?”
I said: “What? Only stuff I’d use, were I the type to carry weapons.”
He said: “You wrote this blog post and said you didn’t like it.”
I went and looked and just about had my fifth heart attack, or my second stroke, or my second near-death-experience. I had, in fact, said in print that I wasn’t really impressed by the BCT IWB rig.
I’m going in and put a correction to link to this post, so it won’t be there by the time you look. If you must look, search for Random Thoughts On Cool Guy Gun Gear.
Here’s the truth with no excuses: I must have in some way mixed up my notes from the project I was working because what I wrote WAS NOT my experience (or that of my testers) with the Black Center Tactical rig. In point of fact, our experience(s) were THE EXACT OPPOSITE of what I wrote.
I could go into a long rambling excuse about old age, decrepit cognitive function, short term memory loss, carelessness with notes and in being in too much of a hurry to get something done.
But I’m not going to add insult to injury.
I apologize to Black Center Tactical and the owner John Bonnett publicly for my mistake. I screwed up. That’s all there is to it.
My personal choice in a rig: Black Center Tactical (it has replaced PHLster in my ranking for #1 in concealment Kydex).
My recommendation to elite operators who go in harm’s way? Black Center Tactical.
My recommendation to anyone looking for extremely high quality custom kydex work with a REASONABLE wait time (2-4 weeks) and REASONABLE prices for that work? Black Center Tactical.
My friend the Invisible Man has occasion to be armed in high-risk environments. Here is he is, off duty:
Here’s his extreme concealment high-threat load out (in Invisible Mode), built on Black Center Tactical gear:
• In pocket, Spyderco Assist with integral glass breaker http://www.spyderco.com/catalog/details.php?product=634
• Belt: Boxer Tactical 1.75 inch http://www.boxertactical.com
• Holster: Black Center Tactical IWB for G19 worn appendix in line with inguinal fold. Modded with an extra length Incog strut (available as an option) to seat the pistol deep into the belt line.
NOTE: I can already hear the tacti-cool amongst you screaming “Must have full firing grip! Must have full firing grip!” I’m gonna digress here for a minute and share a little bit I’ve learned from people much more experienced and smarter than me over the last 40 years of being in and around this here bidness:
IWB concealment runs on a spectrum from deep in the waistband like this (much better concealment, slower presentation) to high in the waistband so you can get your full firing grip on the pistol in the holster (faster presentation, poorer concealment).
This guy sets his pistol up for this level of deep concealment because
a. He can hide ALL that gear under a light T-shirt at close quarters with people (and does so, regularly)
b. With his experience and skill set he can get that Karl Sokol http://www.chestnutmountainsports.com customized G-19 (grip reduction, beavertail, trigger job, innards polished, Trijicon HD sights, and the black stuff on the handle – truck bed liner. Don’t laugh, youngsters…works great when wet, much cheaper than other fancy finishes and you can touch it up yourself if needed with a $5 can from the local auto store) out of the holster and on to work with a clean Mozambique (at 10 yards instead of 7) from deep concealment in an average 2.0 seconds, though he has been known to go faster when frightened.
So back to the line up:
• Similarly modded mag pouch (Incog long strut) which contains a Dawson Precision +5 baseplate https://dawsonprecision.com/basepad-hicap-for-glock-extended-tool-less-design-by-dawson-precision/and spring on a Glock 17-rd magazine. This gives his back up magazine 22 rounds. So with 16 rounds in his G19 his daily EDC is at minimum 38 rounds of 9mm. He can pop an identical magazine and pouch rig right next to that one. Extensive testing of this magazine extension set up leaves him confident enough to run it daily. The Dawson baseplate includes a special spring as well as a baseplate which keeps it extremely reliable.
• A Boker Trigonaut http://www.amazon.ca/Boker-02BO280-Plus-Trigonaut-Knife/dp/B0037EZ0TC worn horizontally, rig modded with Raven Concealment 1.75 inch belt loops, and a Ranger Band http://www.gearward.com as an extra retention device should one find oneself engaging in fisticuffs with miscreants. Extremely fast access with either hand, the Ranger band protects it during scuffles or being brushed out of the sheath at close quarters by accident. The Trigon is much less expensive than a lot of the fancier knives, is a legal length in many jurisdictions (check your own local laws if you decide to emulate) and a fine working tool for EDC carry.
NOTE TO THE KNIFE PEOPLE: While my friend carries this knife as a daily work tool, if one were so unfortunate as to have to resort to it as a defensive means, it’s inexpensive enough where you won’t miss it (much) when it goes into evidence in the property room. Or in the river. Unlike some of the more expensive albeit nice custom knives built for the whole “mid-line access” role. YMMV.
Here’s a pic of the rig on the Invisible Man when he turned off his invisibility cloak:
So that’s an overview of a working professional’s rig for deep concealment in a dangerous environment. Notice it’s built around Black Center Tactical’s extremely high quality work.
Oh, and the Invisible Man assures me that the Black Center Rig is absolutely invisible — under a burqua.
Buy some rigs from Mr. John Bonnett and tell him I sent you. With my apologies.
The Invisible Man at work…..(wink)
Crowds frighten me.
There was a time, a long time ago, when I enjoyed the excitement of a crowd: concerts, packed movies, huge parties (my 18th birthday party had over 400 participants, a band, and enough drugs and alcohol to fund a mid-size cartel….) and even the odd political event before I grew disillusioned.
But not any more.
It was actually a concert that broke my enjoyment. Back in the 70s, I attended a benefit concert in San Jose CA for Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Union. It was a great concert: Santana, Taj Mahal, a ton of minor acts. And because it was a political fund-raiser, no police for security. Only the Brown Berets of La Familia providing volunteer security. This was the era of Altamont, where the Hells Angels provided security for the Rolling Stones, and there was violence there; there was violence here, too.
I was about three bleacher rows away from the first major fight. It was hot, people had been drinking and getting high all day in the sun, and several La Familia security were called over to intervene in an argument between a huge unaffiliated biker and a patch-holder from one of the smaller CA MCs. When it kicked off, it kicked off big.
I remember watching the fight flow like a ripple in a pond, getting bigger and bigger till it was a tidal wave: first two guys fighting, then four or five, then knives and chain belts (outlaw bikers used to wear the drive chains of bikes for belts as they made handy flails in melee combat along with the obligatory Buck Folding Hunters and fixed blades) and then easily one third of the bleachers that held over 45,000 people erupted into violence. Gun shots, knife fights, fist fights, people screaming…and the crowd and the fight nosing one way and then the next like a gigantic animal.
Me and my buddy couldn’t fight our way through and down, so we turned and did the opposite – we fought our way up the bleachers, and then climbed over the safety rail and made a precarious descent down the support structure behind and beneath the bleachers, and then climbed a high barbed wire topped fence to escape.
As I recall there were several hundred hospitalized after the mass riot, and the police couldn’t even get into the stadium.
I will never forget how fast the violence grew, how fast it turned, and how fast people got ate up in it. I’ve seen similar violence elsewhere since then, but that first impression has never left me.
So I avoid crowds.
But sometimes you can’t.
I am no longer an instructor. I’m a coach for instructors and a designer of training programs. I do get asked from time to time to lend my experience and opinion to problems. Like the problem in this video, posed by a woman who is a fine martial arts instructor who asked: “What can I possibly teach or say that would have helped this woman?”
Ugly. Raped and beaten so savagely she required surgery. Easy enough to say, don’t be there, or don’t dress a certain way if you’re going to be in a place like that. But sometimes we don’t get to choose, as Lara Logan, who was similarly attacked while doing her job, describes in this interview:
Some of the hard men who go in harm’s way talk about the shooting solution. While there are times that may be the solution, even the best trained and reasonably armed can be overcome and killed by the fast moving crowd. In this video, notice what happens when the shots go off…and what happens when the fire is ineffective and doesn’t continue…and when the shooter has the gun beaten out of his hands….
Other skilled people talk about driving away or through. Great in principle but sometimes fails in practice, as Reginald Denny can testify:
And sometimes the crowd isn’t spontaneous, but planned:
What might an instructor want to convey to a woman (or a man) who might have to consider a mass attack like these? I don’t have any hard and fast answers. I have some general principles. The crowd is a dangerous beast, and the crowd mass attack is the most dangerous beast of all.
My random thoughts on principles:
• Don’t be there if at all possible. Avoid crowds, especially crowds of young men, and especially of young drunken men.
• If you’re in a crowd by choice, pay attention to your intuition and your feelings (the atmospherics or situational awareness) of the energy/mood of the crowd. When I was young and getting my first professional fighting chops as a doorman, I could literally feel the energy in the bar shift when things were about to go bad. Everyone feels it; and most can recall it after the fact if they survive. This presupposes, of course, that you are sober enough to notice.
• If you’re in a crowd by choice, have a partner or several friends. Don’t be alone and don’t allow yourself to be isolated in the crowd, especially as a woman surrounded by men. Look for other women or men who will stand with you or stand up for you and ask for help.
• If the crowd gets ugly, get out as fast as you can. The earlier you sense the change and the faster you move, the less likely you are to get caught up in it.
• If you become a target, keep moving. Move away, don’t stop and don’t let yourself be stopped.
• If you are grabbed, you must have previously made a decision about what to do and act instantly on it. A fast decisive attack may dissuade, distract, or delay others for you to get away…or it may incite even more violence. If you are fighting bare handed against a mob focused on beating and or raping you, it’s like fighting a tidal wave. Look at those videos above.
* The greatest challenge(s) are:
a. Knowing the spectrum of violence and recognizing when attention turns into the intention to harm you – the earlier you sense that the more effective any pre-emptive action (escape or preemptive strikes) will be.
b. Being violent enough early enough to stop the first key individuals moving on you to create space to escape.
c. Being able to ride out the panic of being overwhelmed by a crowd bent on hurting you, which is one of the most terrifying experiences any human can feel, and work a plan or improvise one. Which presupposes that you have a plan for such an event, which presupposes you’ve thought about it, and that you can improvise a different plan if your first one fails contact.
For the shooters in the crowd, notice what happens in the IRA mob killing video. The initial shots scatter the crowd…except for a few key individuals who continue their attack focused on disarming the operators. Then the crowd returns. Shots fired, most of the crowd retreats…except for the hard core. Have you thought about what you might do in such a circumstance? Would you fire warning shots and hope to scatter the crowd? Would you shoot to kill the main players in the mob?
As for driving away or through, notice what happens both in the IRA video…what happens when you stop? Even you stop and are blocked in, you are faced with the decision to either run over or through a crowd – have you thought that through and decided in advance about what you might do in that instance? Reginald Denny stopped…
In the Lara Logan interview, pay attention to what she says about the change and the escalation in the language and atmospherics in the crowd. Can you pick up on a point where she might have left? Can you see it or feel it?
The only hard and fast solution to this problem is not to be there. The principle of staying away from crowds works (unless you’re hunted by one, as in the gloating trophy video) but dealing solo with a mob attack gone violent is like swimming with a hungry great white shark. The mob usually wins.
There are many more qualified voices (than me) out in the wilderness of the Error-Net on what constitutes “good” (whatever that means, specifically) training for the civilian gun-toter (and even more for police specific training).
Some especially good ones are:
• Greg Ellifritz, Active Response Training: http://www.activeresponsetraining.net
• Claude Werner, The Tactical Professor: https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com
• Ralph Mroz, The Street Standards: https://thestreetstandards.wordpress.com
* Massad Ayoob, Massad Ayoob On Guns: http://backwoodshome.com/blogs/MassadAyoob/
There are thousands of blogs and forums where the tacti-cool Error-Net Community can weigh in and pundit-ize from their keyboards (not withstanding that there are some EXTRAORDINARY voices out there; they just tend to get drowned out in the background noise, which is why I no longer participate in forums and the vast majority of blogs etc. except as a mostly passive consumer of good information).
One topic that’s getting a lot of digital ink is how, dadgummit, should us civilians be prepared to fight terrorists in the streets of our home cities?
It’s an interesting question for a bemused observer on the sidelines, which is me most days. I had an interesting series of dialogues in recent weeks with several of my mentors and some other colleagues. One of them, my long time friend and mentor Ed Lovette, now (unfortunately) retired from active training, said this: “You know, there’s really nobody that’s out there that is doing a good job of preparing the average civilian (responsible) gun owner for dealing with the significantly higher threat of aggravated assault, armed robbery, mass attacks (whether criminal or terror motivated) and terrorism that we’re seeing now.”
I think there are, but at least from my view on the sidelines I see the endless Balkanization of “firearms” or “tactical lifestyle” or whatever: over here you can learn the latest and the greatest in pistol manipulation from open carry on the range; over here you can run deep concealment pistol; over here you can learn how to fight in the hole of 0-3 yards; over here you can learn to deploy your knife to defend your gun or sneak up on an ISIS operator and score a knife kill, blah blah blah.
Not much in the ways of an integrated carefully thought out and designed program.
Since that’s kinda sorta what we do at Accentus-Ludus, I thought I’d share some random thoughts here.
One of my dear friends and long term students Guro Diana Rathbone came to me and asked for my help in designing a “training walkabout” for her; i.e. an extended professional reboot/upgrade to take her world class martial arts skills and accomplishments and use those as a platform to launch her into the world of defensive firearms with a focus on female civilians. So here’s a break down of what we sketched out and what she’s already done and is doing.
I based this loosely on the post-Basic and In-Service training a federal agency involved in counter-terror did. After Basic Firearms and Specialized In-Service Firearms qualification, there were three “outside” schools that were considered to be finishing courses to prep operators (or whatever we were called in those days, agents/officers/ninjas, I’m old, I forget….):
Cooper-era Gunsite pistol curriculum – to refine and install the basic manipulation skills.
Massad Ayoob’s Lethal Force Institute curriculum – to get the legal piece down, so we knew when we were justified in shooting the bad people;
Bill Rogers’s Shooting School -to get manipulation, accuracy, speed, and decision making honed in the crucible of the man vs. machine set up that remains one of the best tests of combat marksmanship ability.
That’s not a bad sequence of classes, albeit expensive (but not if your Agency is paying, LOL) and follows a pretty good conceptual base: basic manipulation and known distance marksmanship and holster skills, followed by intensive legal grounding in when to shoot, followed by intensive testing at fusing those concepts together.
But things change, sometimes for the better (says an old curmudgeon) and we’ve learned an awful lot about how the brain works, how the legal landscape has evolved (especially for civilians) and especially the threat matrix for shooters. I’m going to confine my comments to the armed civilian context here, as there are better qualified folks to comment on the high end tactical piece, though I do occasionally get to consult with those type of folks, at least according to the e-mail I get here at the Old Fogey’s House.
Here’s the conceptual sequence I set up for Guro Diana Rathborne for her transition into the world of defensive firearms:
Situational Awareness, Environmental Manipulation, Pre-Violence Indicators. (The Fight Before The Fight).
• Some Old Guy In Minneapolis (perception enhancement, cognitive-neurological training to enhance situational awareness and accelerate learning of motor skills, other stuff)
• Matt Graham, Graham Combat, ARAINDROP (Environmental Manipulation/Situational Awareness)
• Greg Ellifritz and William April, UNTHINKABLE (violence pre-cursors, psychology of violent offenders)
Firearms Training Specific to the Needs of the Female Shooter:
• Louann Hamblin, LOUKA Tactical
Specific training focus on enhancing manipulation/shooting skill:
• Claude Werner (3 days private training previously, 1 1/2 days recently)
• Dave Harrington (3 days private training in pistol, 3 days on carbine)
• Rogers Shooting School, Intermediate/Advanced Pistol w/Carbine add-on
Mental Aspects and Seeking Wisdom from the Sage Elders
• Ed Lovette
• Bob Taubert
Other Training Aspects and Visit With Highly Advanced Young Guns
• A former student visiting as a guest instructor for the FBI HRT (Special Operations Command Combatives Program)
Combatives and Different Martial Arts (she set up most of this herself as she’s an in-demand instructor for advanced and beginning martial artists, a regular law enforcement trainer and presenter at IALEETA, etc. etc.
• Nick Hughes, French Foreign Legion Combatives
* Pat Tray, USA Combatives, renowned SEAL operator and instructor
• Various martial arts schools
Some training she’s scheduling right now:
• Massad Ayoob’s latest evolution of his legal material.
• Washington State Police Training
• Various classes at the Sig Sauer and Smith & Wesson Academy
• Visits with Burt Duvernay, Ralph Mroz, Karl Sokol and a few who shall remain nameless.
That’s a pretty good curriculum to accomplish in a few months, and a significant expense in time and money. But if you figure that you’re looking to get a graduate level education in a new field in a compressed time frame, may as well as go the distance, and the total expense is significantly less than a 2-4 year degree in something else and a hell of a lot more practical.
So what’s the flow, or the big pieces that add up to at least one definition of a good education in gun-fighting?
Soft skills. The stuff that’s not sexy (or maybe it is, if you’re a neuroscience geek like me) like learning pre-violence indicators and predator behavior, tweaking your own cognition and neurology so you learn faster, retain more of what you learn, and can apply what you learn under life and death stress; manipulating your environment (including those around you) so as to enable you to move safely through chaotic situations/circumstances and events; what to do if you’re captured or a victim (including some escapeology); stress management pre-fight in-fight and post-fight, mindfulness/meditation/visualization technique to support all of the above. Generating and maintaining an attitude of humility and gratitude and service to others.
Unarmed skills. Diana’s way ahead of most, having 30 years of full time martial arts training and instructorship, and having a wall full of hard-earned certificates from every major component of the Inosanto JKD Universe and others. Basic skills to consider – me, I’m a big fan of basic military combatives like the evolution of the WW2 stuff made famous by Fairbairn and Sykes. Simple, robust, easy to retain, serves in 80-90% of the circumstances you’ll run into. Boxing is great, but any vigorous martial art is better than nothing. SPEND TIME EXPLORING HOW TO INTEGRATE THOSE SKILLS INTO ARMED SKILLS. For that I highly recommend the Filipino systems as the concept of fluidity and flow translate well to armed combat with knives as well as guns, in my experience.
Intermediate armed skills: Contact type weapons including pepper spray, knives, sticks, and improvised weapons, including environmental evaluation and use (walls, door handles, doors, bar rails, chairs, etc.)
Firearms skills: Basic safety and manipulation of handguns. Progress rapidly from that into a solid defensive oriented handgun course that addresses concealment and realistic application of the handgun. Right now it appears that the best there is in terms of track record is Mr. Tom Givens at RangeMaster, though there are a great many people out there providing quality instruction. An advanced handgun course (from guys like Paul Howe, Dave Harrington, Claude Werner, Bill Rogers, etc.)
A necessary skill set is the application of the extreme close range gunfight which includes grappling, striking and clearing a fouled weapon. Craig Douglas at ShivWorks pretty much set the bar (I found over 200 e-mails from him dating back to the early 90s when we were kicking around his concepts while recently archiving research material!) though Greg Ellifritz does an excellent job with that as well.
The legal piece gets way overlooked. Training with Massad Ayoob is a must while he’s still around. There is no one better. Period. There are good books, and a good lawyer is a must.
Scenario training: a must have. You must test your skills force on force under the supervision of a SKILLED instructor who knows how to set up scenarios and run them properly. The gold standard is the legendary Lou Chiodo of Gunfighters LTD http://www.gunfightersltd.com out in CA, whose focus on force on force firearms training revolutionized forward leaning law enforcement. Gabe Suarez also teaches and presents a significant amount of material on force on force training.
That’s a hell of a lot, isn’t it? And way out of most everybody’s investment range in both money and time unless you are a full time training professional (who can write the entire investment off).
If you’d like to contact Guro Di or follow her journey on Facebook, here’s her contact info:
Diana is on Facebook and LinkedIn
Her direct contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org
So how does Joe Six-Pack and Sally Suburban, new to the world of defensive firearms, approach their training in a time and cost efficient fashion? I assume that they are serious in approaching this and are self-motivated….
Here’s some ideas:
• Read through the four blogs I listed above. Read a LOT. There’s a huge amount of material archived there. Identify the themes and names those four mention as quality trainers.
• Look those people (quality trainers) up on YouTube or online and JUST READ. Generate a list of questions, but JUST READ. Don’t get sucked into the black hole that is Error-Net Gun-Dumb.
• Post your questions at one of the four blogs above. There are other good ones, but those four are extremely high value and very conscientious about answering questions.
• Read some good books. DEFENSIVE LIVING by Ed Lovette and Dave Spaulding, THE TRUTH ABOUT SELF PROTECTION by Massad Ayoob are two very excellent overviews on the whole spectrum of personal protection. Read Gavin De Becker’s THE GIFT OF FEAR and Joe Navarro’s WHAT EVERY BODY IS SAYING to get a good jump-start on soft skills. If you find that interesting, read UNMASKING THE FACE by Paul Ekman. Those five books will put you way ahead of most “gun people.”
• Consider taking a good quality self-defense program if you don’t have any martial arts background. Good quality is short, simple technique that you can validate on a padded opponent immediately. Check out martial arts schools.
• Based on “high quality” information, make a decision about what kind of firearm you’re looking for BEFORE you go to the gun store. Armed with information, go in and get your hands on one.
• If you are required to take mandatory training before you can purchase (like CCW etc.), take the cheapest/fastest/closest training – and compare what you’ve learned from your previous research with what you may be shown/exposed to in such a class. It may be wise to just keep your mouth shut and your head down and get your ticket punched. Don’t expect much.
• Once you have purchased your weapon, then look around for a local basic class. The NRA Instructor referral board is a good start. Asking around, and relying on your perception of “quality” training as formed from your due diligence on the internet with reliable sources, pick a basic class and take it. This class should cover gun safety, basic legal familiarization, holster skills, weapons manipulation, basic marksmanship in a range context.
• If you can’t afford a more advanced class after a basic introduction class, consider pooling together with like-minded potential students and hosting a class. Many top tier instructors will travel to you if you can get 6-8 students together to spread out costs. There are also some good schools regionally.
• Build a training/practice plan and a training budget. Claude Werner’s Pistol Practice Program is as good as it gets, a very reasonable investment in a DVD with a plan, targets, and MP3 timed coaching tracks. $40. Make a training budget. You need ammo and range time (and you should budget for accessories like holsters, belts, eye and ear protection etc.) A bare minimum would be one box of ammo once a month, coupled with a daily dry fire routine. A better would be twice a month, 50 rounds each time for a total of 100 rounds, coupled with a daily dry fire session of no more than 10-15 minutes. A serious high-end commitment would be once a week for 150 rounds, with a 15-30 minute daily dry fire routine that encompassed tactical movement, etc., and a once a year 3-5 day training class.
• Work on stress management, visualization and mental rehearsal. It’s cheap. Work on integrating your unarmed skills with your armed skills and test it in scenarios, classes, whatever. You can find a few other like-minded people and have a training group that is fun and beneficial. Those other people could also pool resources to bring in “name” instructors if you want to up your game without traveling.
So there’s some ideas. As always, these are my opinions based on my experience and training and my professional work as a designer of training programs. Don’t take anything I say (or anybody else) on face value till you have measured it against your own experience and needs.
EDIT FROM E-MAIL: Hey all, don’t be bashful about posting comments. It’s a way to share your insights with the significant audience out there. I do moderate comments to keep off the idiots and the Achy Man Haters https://marcuswynne.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/repost-achy-man-on-corruption-reply-to-the-haters-and-chapter-two-of-threes-wylde/, LOL, but reasonable posts and disagreement welcome.
From Evan Hill of Hill People Gear: He points out a glaring hole in the plan, i.e. TCCC or tactical medical care. Yes, treating gunshot wounds, your own and others, should be part of a comprehensive education, and first aid including trauma management should be part of any adult’s skill set. Thanks Evan!
There are a great many much more qualified (than me) commentators on the tactical implications of the Paris attacks for armed professionals, law enforcement, and the private citizen. For a very good compilation go here http://www.activeresponsetraining.net to my friend and colleague Greg Ellifritz’s excellent blog.
Since we are mental software type people, I thought I’d share a few observations from that perspective.
So in no particular order, some random points and implication.. As always, nothing I say here is more than my opinion based on my experience and training, so let your own experience/expertise/training/opinion be your guide as to its value
The axis of the attack
One way to take this is that the insertion of the operators along a north south axis utilizing primary avenues of approach and egress into the heart of the city was purely a matter of chance, or convenience for whatever support element MAY have assisted…of course they could have just taken the bus, subway, or private car.
A result of coordinated attacks taking place along that axis is that it creates a series of interlocking traffic stoppages/grid lock into the heart of the city. If one refers to the timeline/sequence of events, near simultaneous and in rapid succession, one result is to tie up traffic and responding units into tight little balls, and subsequent units and follow on help will end up being tangled, slowed, distracted…vulnerable.
For LE/professional responders/EMS etc.: You may be cut off and diverted out of the usual way to a particular scene. You may be unable to drive directly to the scene and have to dismount some way off. If so, are you physically able to move from your vehicle carrying all your gear (rifle, plates, spare mags, blow out kits, EMS gear, whatever)? Do you have a plan for alternate communications in the case you dismount? What if your comms go down? (for instance, in a more fully integrated attack that simultaneously hits the power grid and the radio network and fiber optics that run many public safety VOIP communications? Imagine responding to a mass shooter event in a blackout and with no communications….)
For us regular folks: You may not be able to get to your vehicle, if you have one, or take public transport out if you use that. Do you have good shoes to walk all the way from a downtown venue to your home if you had to? Back in the early 2000s when NYC was hit with a major blackout, several friends of mine had to walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn. That’s a long hike in strappy Ferragamos, as one of my lady friends said. Do you know how to get back to where you need to be on foot? Do you have downloaded (on your actual phone drive) maps of your local areas in case phone/GPS goes out? Could you navigate blacked out city streets without a GPS or paper map? Do you have a flashlight with you in case you have to read street signs in the dark? Can you figure out which way is north or south or east or west? A little button compass might be useful then.
Fire discipline displayed by shooters
At each of the restaurant/café/street side shootings along the way, police recovered approximately 100 shell casings. With two shooters, that adds up to about two magazines of 30-rounds each. That’s discipline and experience. Shooters debuss from the vehicle, empty two magazines into the crowded streetside venue, jump back in and drive away. What does that fire discipline tell us? Training, rehearsal, experience. Most of all experience. These are seasoned, i.e. they have killed before, shooters who can remain cool and keep track of their ammunition expenditure, who display fire discipline, and continue moving along their pre-determined route to hit either targets of opportunity or (more likely) carefully pre-scouted venues that provide the most access from the street combined with the largest number of people.
LE/armed professionals. These are seasoned killers. That doesn’t mean they’re particularly superior tacticians or gun handlers, but their big advantage is simple, robust tactics coupled to (most importantly) not only the willingness to kill but experience in killing. And they’re not concerned about getting caught or dying. So facing an opponent in that fashion requires moving to kill, not to arrest. The vast majority of LE are not trained or supported in training to kill in this scenario – and that’s not normally the job of the police. However, there is no question that if you are armed and you engage with or are identified by operators like this in a scenario, you will immediately come under fire and be engaged until you are dead. So that’s a good motivation to keep in mind.
The armed citizen. A very good reason to pre-think decision making. A handgun against a long gun at the distances involved from the street to a sidewalk café, especially in a lone handgunner against a seasoned fire team with long guns is not an optimal situation for the handgunner. Moving to cover, shooting from ambush, understanding and knowing what one’s baseline of performance under stress, having sufficient ammunition to sustain an extended fire fight and knowing/understanding that in this scenario suppressive fire with a pistol to cover your own or other peoples evacuation might be a viable tactic.
Trained in that lately? Against resistance? Against dedicated attackers who mean to fix you in place and kill you?
If you are unarmed in this instance, it’s best to channel Monty Python and run away, run away, run away. Going empty hands against seasoned killers with long guns is a non-starter unless you are within arm’s reach, which requires motivation and a skill set that is not common in most.
Sophistication in IED manufacture, i.e. bomb vests/belts.
Contrary to popular fiction and film, you don’t just gin these up in your basement. Building vests/belts that go off when they’re supposed to, and yet are comfortable enough (or at least non movement inhibiting) to wear while fighting requires a sophisticated skill set, expertise, and specialized equipment. And of course explosives. On a recent visit to Israel, some operators shared with me details of a particular bomb/shooting operation: the female bomber was wearing a bomb vest that had been built off a cast of her torso; at visual examination it looked like a pregnant belly, but was a sophisticated device with safety triggers (and possibly with a remote detonating capability with encrypted cellular as a back up, but I’m not sure). The team included 4 active shooters equipped with long guns and pistols, whose job was to make sure she got into the venue and detonated the device and then they were to engage responding units and civilians till they ran out of ammo or were killed.
They didn’t get to do that, because the very hard guys got to them first, but it’s a good example of what is not just possible but standard operating procedure. It also means that serious professional bombmakers are involved somewhere, and so those devices are not of the pressure cooker type (though those may be around too). Higher level of sophistication in IED.
Professional responders: You must plan for bombs and explosives as a given. If there’s shooting, there will be explosions. Whether hand grenades or IEDs. What is your level of knowledge on handling IED in THE STREET FIGHTING ENVIRONMENT? Not render safe procedures, or bunkering and waiting for the robot to water cannon the package, as in running to and into a fight where there may be IEDs on the targets you’re shooting, or in the bags around them, or in the grenades they throw your way? Will you anchor a downed shooter so they don’t detonate their vest and kill you and your fellow officers? Do you have a procedure to back people away to a safe distance? Do you know what the safe distance is for an IED bomb vest/belt/grenade? If not, who are you going to ask for that information and how will you remember it/train it?
Us civilians: Remember Monty Python. Run away, run away, run away. Rule of thumb: move far enough away from a downed shooter/suspect package so that when you extend your arm full length, you can hide from your view the shooter/package scene behind your outstretched thumb. In the event of a blast or if there are grenades, etc. being flung in your direction: Ass to the blast. Turn away from the device. Get behind cover if you can in 1-2 steps. If not, get down flat on your belly, ass to the blast, cross your feet at your ankles, press your elbows to your sides and press your hands to your ears and open your mouths. If you have a child/children, shove them underneath you, compress their heads under your chest with your arms squeezed against your side so that their ears and head are protected; squash them flat under you. They will probably be screaming so their mouths will be open. Try to cover your ears as well if you can. Same if you have a loved one who’s too slow or doesn’t know how. Press them as flat as you can and cover them.
If you are injured, self assess: can you keep going to get further away from the scene, or are you truly too injured to proceed? Other folks write at length about the need for medical training; really first aid is an essential life skill and you don’t need to be an expert on trauma management to save a life including your own.
If there’s one explosion, there’s two (or there will be). When you run, pick your direction and consider, if you are able to in the moment, that you might be herded along the most likely avenue of escape into another explosive killing zone.
A lot of what I’ve read lately on the Error-Net focuses on gear and what you, Joe Civilian or Mary First-Responder should be carrying. I like gear, don’t get me wrong, and I’m fully on board with having the right stuff when you need it. I’ve been toting myself, weapons and gear in harm’s way since the 70s, and here’s a few pithy things I’ve learned from people smarter than me:
*Training trumps gear.
*Specific real-world experience trumps generalized training.
*Knowledge derived from experience and supplemented by training allows quantum leaps in improvisation.
All that being said, yes, it’s better to have a t’quet instead of a belt, or a table cloth; yes it’s better to have an Izzy or some other pressure dressing; yes it’s better to have an airway instead of a safety pin…
There’s a balancing point between what you can reasonably (i.e. comfortably, have immediately available, concealed if that’s a concern, if off body in a every day carry sized bag) have with you and what you would actually WANT in a full blown low probability high risk scenario like what happened in Paris. There’s lots of other people opining about that who are much better qualified to discuss the latest and the greatest than me.
Here’s a couple of things a friend of mine whose experience and training is significant suggested:
*Have a weapon and a concealment system. Preferably high capacity with a minimum of one high capacity magazine.
(He likes a G19 with a flush 15 round mag, and as a back up mag a 17 rd mag modified with a Dawson Precision +5 baseplate and spring, which gives him a minimum of 38 rounds. He has been known to slip two back up mags in his waistband. He conceals it with a system that consists of a Boxer Tactical belt, a Black Center Tactical holster modded with an Incog extra long strut, and a couple of mag pouches similarly modded for deep concealment.)
*A strong knife. Pocket knife is fine, or a small legal sized fixed blade, like the Boker Coye Razorback in a good sheath.
*Breaching tool. Not a big-ass tacti-cool one, but something with glassbreaker capability like the superb Spyderco Rescue Knife, or a small ti pry bar, etc. Or even the key chain mounted ones. Breaking a window is harder than it looks, and having the capability to break hardened glass to get out of somewhere is vastly under rated.
*A flashlight, preferably with high lumen and a strobe or signal capability (MiniMag Light with SOS signal in it is just fine).
*A bandana (to dab his fevered brow, or improvise as a blood stopper)
*iPhone 6+ with several specialized apps installed that work WITHOUT cell or wi-fi signal. These apps include OsmAndMaps, which allows the user to download detailed maps onto the phone so in the absence of cell/wi-fi you have detailed maps to navigate with, and Lofty Wiseman’s SAS Survival app. The feature of the SAS app he likes best is the built in (not dependent on wi-fi/cell) Morse code communication app. You can type in a plain text message, the program translates it into Morse code and then uses the built in smartphone flashlight (or the screen itself) to transmit the message. No doubt someone is laughing at sending Morse code these days; however given a major event and the amount of aerial and satellite coverage dedicated to an in-progress event, synchronized flashes whether recognizable as Morse code or not (and they are to the computers, kiddies, the algorithm sorts it….) can show location (like trapped in a rubble pile) or convey useful information to the Fed computers who can translate that for the tacticool knuckle draggers (3 T long gun, 2 ied ne entrance, roof clear) if one were playing mouse in the wall.
Anything else is nice to have, if you have the time and wherewithal to lug stuff around. These days I see people lugging backpacks stuffed with trauma bags spare magazines and AR pistols to go to the coffee shop; there’s so much just in case gear in there you can’t squeeze a laptop in. All cool with me – just have a plan to use it and be cool about it.
Note about the AR pistols: It’s a “thing” to have an AR pistol in one’s backpack or whatever. Great tool for those who know how to set it up, zero it, and run it. Those that know how to do that are familiar with the ballistics and how your particular round choice (300 Blackout or 5.56) will be affected by the different barrel length, and zero accordingly. Most of the people blasting away with them at public ranges have never zeroed them and have no idea where their rounds will hit past 7 yards, much less at 100 yards or more (very easy inside of any mall and many schools). Yeah, having a rifle caliber in a compact package is awesome up close – assuming you can deploy it and hit with it. A 10.5 inch barrel AR pistol zeroed at 50 meters gets you easy center of mass hits out to 200 meters; up close you have to account for offset if you want precise head shots, but keeping it in the body is not hard. An extremely experienced friend counts kills at 500meters using a MK-18 with an ACOG – 10.3 inch barrel.
If you’re going to carry stuff, know how to use it and what the capabilities are. And yours.
Since the brain responds best to focused questions, here’s some to consider when you mull readiness and preparedness. Think about these as a way to create a foundational neural net to build your mental rehearsal on:
How are you mentally prepared? Do you have relevant experience and or training? Do you have skills to improvise weapons and medical equipment? If armed, what is your real skill level as opposed to your training day skill. How far can you engage accurately under stress? What is your performance when tested cold to establish your real baselines? Do you have any previous experience with threat to life stress? Do you have sufficient ammo to SUSTAIN an engagement against automatic carbines/rifles at close range? Can you do suppressive fire with a pistol against carbines/rifles? (Harrington Drill: empty 3 15-rd mags as fast as you can at 7, 15, 25 – all hits on a pie plate.) Can you engage when surrounded by injured panicked innocents? Can you kill? Do you have a plan not to get killed by responding units or other armed citizens? How do you respond? What’s the decision tree? Are you alone or with someone you must be responsible for? (Kids, family, friends who are NOT fighters or armed?) Are you injured? Are you armed? Do you have a cellphone and is it functioning? Are you pinned down or herded into an environment conducive to hostage taking (killing)? Can you engage? Are you able to engage without being immediately killed? Can you hide and wait, even if you must see horrific things (children killed, women raped, etc.) while you are waiting? Can you wait till the right time? Would you recognize the right time if you saw it? Can you realistically feign compliance to achieve a superior fighting position?
There’s some food for thought (actually a feast for thought, but then I’m a cognitive neuroscience enthusiast…)
I’m at the age where the death of a friend isn’t unusual. It was when I was younger. Now between the vicissitudes of age and the attrition that comes from having a peer group that is either retired from or still out on the hard edge, I hear at least monthly news of a friend who’s fallen or passed.
I spend Memorial Day
And Veteran’s Day
Remembering my friends. No e-mail, no phone calls, no chit chat. It’s my way of honoring them.
I stopped writing memorials and obituaries earlier this year, when a bad few weeks left me with a double-digit body count of friends lost to warfare, cancer, and suicide.
But today I’m going to remember a friend who was one of the best. One of the best I’ve ever trained. One of the best in the field. One of the best MEN in a time when the Old School meaning of that term gets denigrated. A man with a great heart, full of courage and love for those he protected and those he fought beside.
On Veterans Day I got a message with the blunt news: “Oi, mate. Conrad’s dead. Bought it in Jordan.”
At the International Police Training Center in Jordan, where he was working as an instructor, passing on his formidable skill set and experience.
I sat with that for a while. It’s one thing when you see the attrition of age and the things that come with that: disease, old injuries, slowing down and catching one out on the hard edge that you might have ducked if you weren’t past your prime…
It’s different when it’s a young man in his prime. Especially when it’s an old man remembering.
Of these five men, from left to right, two are dead, the next two died and come back to life (as Near Death Experience survivors), and the last one will most likely kick Death’s ass back to Hell when he comes and tries to collect him.
That’s good company.
Conrad, like Rich Smith, (https://marcuswynne.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/richard-smith-1957-2012/) believed and practiced the Old Way, of Wotan/Odin. When I heard of his death, I looked out my window and two ravens flew by, calling as they went: Huginn and Munnin, the Eyes of Odin in the Middle World. I had a brief vision then, of Conrad being ushered into the Hall of Valhalla by Rich and other friends.
My friend K, who knew Conrad as well, was kind enough to send me this poem by the famous World War 2 Norwegian poet, Nordahl Grieg. K has read it over all of his fallen brothers in a unit awarded the highest decoration for courage under fire the US can give to a foreign military unit:
“Det er de beste som dør.
De sterke, de rene av hjertet
Som ville og våget mest;
Rolige tok de avskjed,”
Humbly translated by K to:
“It is the best who die.
The strong and clean at heart,
Who wanted and dared the most,
quietly they said goodbye.”
Thanks for sharing that, K. Conrad would be honored and appreciative.
God bless you and keep you, Conrad. We’ll see to your girl. See you on the Other Side.
This video clip discusses a fundamental principle in accelerated learning and neural based training design: multiple encoding of new information in the student’s brain.
What does that mean?
Let’s look at a specific example drawn from firearms instruction. The example is teaching the draw stroke from concealment.
One traditional method of firearms instruction might call for the instructor to:
• Describe what he’s going to teach and why it’s important (verbally)
• Demonstrate it to the students (visually)
• Take students through the draw stroke (visually and verbally)
• Have students repeat the draw stroke with remediation along the way (visually and verbally coaching)
• Have students demonstrate their retention of the material in a dry fire and then live fire context. (Experiential for the student and coached by instructor)
So…how many ways is the information presented to the student and how many learning modalities the student engages?
• Visual (the student watches).
• Auditory (the student listens)
• Kinesthetic (the student does the technique)
Are there other ways to present information to the student? And why is that important?
Without going into a long technical dissertation about state-based learning and the transference of a motor skill learned in a static environment to the application under stress in a 3-dimensional gunfight, here’s a short answer:
The more ways you encode life-saving information in a student’s brain, the more opportunities that student’s brain has to retrieve that information when under severe stress.
Another specific example. Take a tennis ball. Tack a piece of cord to it. Lob it to somebody and tell him or her they must catch it only by the piece of cord. Not easy. Now tack three pieces of cord. And do it again. Easier? Now tack nine to ten pieces of cord to the ball and lob it. Easier?
The ball is the critical information that must be caught. Student modalities engaged in learning are the cords.
Add more cords = better retention in the real world.
So how do we do that?
Going back to the previous example of the draw stroke, what if the instructor, in the same amount of time, followed this approach instead of the one initially discussed:
• Brief discussion of the material to be presented.
• Demonstrate the draw stroke.
• With minimal intervention by instructor, have students IMMEDIATELY practice the general movement for 3-5 reps.
• Then break students down into pairs, and for only 3-5 reps, observe and coach (parroting the instructor) the elements of the general movement (as in don’t refine the fine points, just get the big chunks down).
• The instructor then models/demonstrates refinement.
• The students immediately work on their own for 3-5 reps.
• Then break into groups of three: one observes, one is the “student”, the other is the “coach.” Observer observes, coach coaches per the instructor’s model, student does the motion. Rotate positions/duties after 3-5 reps till all have been a coach, an observer, a student.
• Students break into pairs. For 60 seconds, one student is the speaker, the other is the listener. Then rotate. They talk about what they have learned/are learning about the draw stroke, sharing what they have seen and experienced as a student, coach and observer.
• Take a break and students write down their notes and/or sketch/draw insights
• Return after break and then as a group the instructor facilliates discussion of learning thus far.
• Instructor models/refines the refinement of the motion.
• Instructor walks around and checks each student individually.
• Move to dry-fire/live fire.
Does this seem like too much work? In real time it takes less than it does for “traditional” instruction where the instructor talks talks talks and the student listens (or doesn’t) with multiple mechanical repetitions.
This approach frees the instructor from much of the “menial” work of instruction and focuses on higher order class management; it also provides multiple modes of encoding for the student brain – and the novelty of the approach makes the learning faster and more fun as well.
What kind of encoding are we seeing in addition to the previous three identified in the traditional approach?
• Visual (watching the instructor)
• Auditory (listening to the instructor)
• Kinesthetic (moving like the instructor)
• Coaching (taking new material and applying it to another)
• Observation (of others doing the technique)
• Listening (to others discussing their experience and interpretation of the material)
• Talking (articulating what they’ve learned and what insights they have about the material)
• Writing (taking information and writing it down on paper)
• Drawing (sketches of movement or diagrams)
• Collaborating as a team of three to refine the technique
All of this second series requires novel engagement by the student’s brain and provides additional “cords” to grasp the material when needed.
And it frees the instructor up to manage the learning environment and ensure that maximal learning is taking place.
None of this compromises safety when executed by a competent instructor; the biggest risk I’ve found is to instructor ego when they find they have to talk less and watch more, and that they are not the only essential component of the student’s learning – this is andagogy, learning for the adult brain, where the instructor shares responsibility for learning with THE LEARNER — not pedagogy, as in teaching down to ignorant peasants. Many firearms instructors don’t realize that most of the commands and principles for firearms instructors were set down and codified in the 1700s…and are still taught in military academies to this day.
We’ve come a long way since then, and most of us are not engaged in training illiterate peasants.
By the way, most of the approach has been heavily validated since the 70s in accelerated learning and adult education, and has been adopted as an approach by many many Fortune 500 companies as the most efficient way to train adults http://www.alcenter.com/whatisal.html .
My small contribution is to add the Accentus-Ludus spin on accelerated learning and simultaneous stress inoculation to this approach, with results you can examine on our web page, http://www.accentusludus.com.
As always, don’t take my word for it. Go and try it yourself. If it works for you, keep it; if it doesn’t, feel free to ask for clarification, or just bin it.
Stay safe, and remember that if you’re training life-saving skills, you have a moral and ethical responsibility to provide that training in the best possible fashion to ensure retention in the real world. Science and training has come a long way since the 1770s.
NOTE TO THE HATERS: No, I won’t publish your comments. But I’ll reply here. No HONEST cop likes a crooked cop. If you think that I’m anti-law enforcement, go do your homework. I’ve trained thousands and been through more than a few doors with some of the best. If you think me writing about corrupt cops is offensive — good. I’m glad you’re offended. Instead of pinging me with hate mail about being “anti-cop” (seriously, dude, do you have a brain?) go grow some balls and stand up. Or is it just easier to be a coward and go along? That badge you wear (if in fact you actually have one) is a shield to protect the innocent. Its not a license to rape, murder, and steal. And if you think it’s okay that some cops you know do that, then fuck you. Hang up your badge and quit disgracing the profession of law enforcement and the good cops around you.
And yeah, I’ve seen SERPICO, motherfucker. Pack a lunch and bring a bunch (of your friends) anytime you want to drop by. You’ll need them. But leave your catamite at home. He might get all verklempt. Jus’ saying…
Rant over. Have a nice day.
Small towns are interesting places. Or so I find them. They’re like fishbowls. Small enough to see just about everything that goes on. You can study denizen interactions much more closely than you might in a much bigger aquarium. As a fictioneer, small towns provide great creative grist for the mill.
In the next Marius Winter book, THE ACHY MAN, the action shifts back and forth from the small town of Decanter, MN — a nest of evil dominated by the extended family of an evil patriarch, The Achy Man — and Marius Winter’s stalwart band of Light Warriors in Minneapolis.
Epic evil and stalwart good. Just the kind of story I like to write. This interview on WWE legend (and my very great friend and supporter) Lance Storm’s BookMarks site outlines my interest (obsession?) with both lower case and upper case Evil from a very early age. http://www.stormwrestling.com/bookmarks/warrior.html
Small towns let you see that up close. Not just evil, but good as well; not just cowardice, but courage as well. Writ small for close study.
As a co-owner and founder of a bleeding edge DOD research & development company, I am by definition a researcher/investigator, a skill set I honed early in my professional career. My research and investigation into the nuts and bolts of how corruption and crime festers in a small town (or a large one, if writ large) has been fascinating.
I thought I’d share some nuggets gleaned from various sources here, just bullet points, on some of the real-world how-to when it comes to crime and corruption.
For the FULL story, you’ll have to read the book, coming soon, right after the next WYLDE book. Also, for my fans, I recovered the rights to my first three books, and they are available in e-book format at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Marcus-Wynne/e/B001KEE9I4/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1434322253&sr=1-2-ent and Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MarcusWynne and Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/marcus-wynne. On various torrent sites as well, since I don’t DRM my books, but I hope you’ll spend the cost of a cup of coffee to read them.
My acknowledgements to all those crime and corruption experts who furthered my education and enabled The Achy Man. You know who you are.
HOW TO CORRUPT AUTHORITY FIGURES
MICE and RASCLS:
If you’re going to study corruption and how to corrupt, it’s good to do a survey of the literature before you launch your field work. Here’s an excellent how-to courtesy of the Culinary Institute of America: https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol.-57-no.-1-a/vol.-57-no.-1-a-pdfs/Burkett-MICE%20to%20RASCALS.pdf
I wrote a short story a long time ago titled “Money, Sex, and Secrets.” While that was a study in the man/woman courting dance there’s a lot of truth in that title when it comes to getting people (in this instance, people with authority and power, like bankers, lawyers, city officials, cops, deputies, judges, FBI agents, etc.) to do bad things for you.
In a small town where, for instance, cops and deputies don’t get paid a lot, you want to control high paying part time jobs – like security guard gigs. Build reliance on the part-time income and the favor requests that will come to you – for instance, maybe you know a banker that might give a “friend” a break on mortgage payments, or ease a loan along for somebody with bad or no credit.
Then when you need that “friend”, you have favors in the favor bank. What might you need them for? Maybe to get your kid off the hook for some minor indiscretion (or a major one); maybe you want to “teach someone a lesson” and are afraid or unwilling to do your own dirty work. That ties into….
HOW TO INTIMIDATE AND HARASS (and get away with it…for a while anyway)
In a small town, “big names” often can get away with directly threatening “small names.” Money = influence = favors, especially if there’s a history of significant fund-raising on behalf of sheriffs, states attorneys, mayors, and city council members. Maybe there’s a deputy or a cop that relies on your part-time income and favors and might have a skeleton or two in the closet (or the cornfield) that they’d rather not have someone know about. And so he owes you. Might make a great pawn of the Devil, you reckon?
But what if someone doesn’t take the hint, or is too high profile to come at directly?
That’s where The Achy Man starts. Here’s a taste:
THE ACHY MAN
They had been beating him for a long time.
One of them, who’d been a deputy for not quite as long as the other, wondered how long the prisoner would last. His partner, a big porcine man, had been working on the man’s face, which no longer looked like a face – it looked like old meat turning blue in the sun.
But there wasn’t any sun.
Just a quarter moon in the night sky, the only sounds beside the dull wet thump of flesh breaking under fists and boots the whisper of the wind in the corn stalks, and every once in awhile the distant hiss of a car passing by.
“How long before he dies?” the younger deputy said.
The older man looked over at him. Silent. Blood spray on his face. Considered the question. “Not long.”
He stepped away, then kicked the man curled in a ball at his feet.
“I want you to kick him,” the older deputy said.
The look on the older man’s face set the younger to almost shitting his pants.
“I’m not asking you. Kick him.”
The younger man poked at the prisoner with his boot.
A slap across his face stunned him, the solid thwock of the meaty palm across his narrow face echoing in the corn field.
“Don’t play with me,” the older deputy said. “Kick him. In the face.”
So he did.
After, when the last breath wheezed between the broken stubs of the dead man’s teeth, the younger deputy leaned over and vomited his fried chicken dinner. The older one threw him a shovel.
“I did the work,” the older deputy said. “You dig the hole. Dig it deep. And roll him in it.” He laughed. “That’s how we roll in Mason County.”
Lieutenant Dick Gant steered his Mason County Sheriff Department squad car around the parking lot in a big circle. The other deputies were careful to ignore him, avoid eye contact. Gant wasn’t a big man, but he had a hateful, bitter twist to his face, and besides the stink of tobacco that surrounded him there was always a sense of, well, jangling was what one deputy described it. Loose cannon didn’t catch all of it.
Just plain mean, was what one dog handler said.
“If he was a dog, I’d put him down,” the handler said. “No training that bitch.”
` The other deputies laughed long and loud, as they always did, as long as the lieutenant wasn’t around. The loot had a long memory, and if you got on his bad side, you never got off, and he had a gift for making life hell for people. He nursed a particular grudge for anybody who did their job well, and an open contempt for the deputies who might actually take their job and the shield they wore seriously.
Made you wonder what his idea of the job was about, but then, in Decanter, you didn’t ask those kind of questions. Not if you were a deputy and you wanted to get out of the jail and out on the road, not get caught in the hell of the corrections unit or, worse, court services.
And then there was always the question of the payroll.
Not the paycheck, meager as it was, they collected every other week.
The Loot had a lot to do with that.
But then, he’d been around for a long time.
Wilhelm (known as Will or Willy at his insistence) Eichmann threw his golf clubs in the truck of his Crown Vic, slammed the hood down and slid into the front seat. From a distance, the brown Crown Vic looked like a police cruiser; it was the same basic model as the State Police used, with a mounted light on the driver’s side, and a set of antennas on the rear bumper.
Pretty fancy ride for a bank guard, or so some of the cops he liked to hang around with said. He pretended not to hear, forced a laugh, and bought more rounds than he should, but that was the price he thought he had to pay to hang out with the real cops. Once, a long time ago, he’d thought about going for it, taking the exam, going through the academy…either the police department or the sheriff’s department, but the prospect of having to ride in a car alone, even with a gun, at night in Decanter, was something he never wanted to face up to.
So he settled for the next best thing, which was an okay paying job as a guard which led to pretty rapid advancement, and after twenty years he had his look alike cruiser, a lieutenant’s rank in the bank’s regional investigation team, and a whole team of his troops, as he liked to call them, to order around.
And he had his cruiser.
He backed out of the parking lot, shooting a hard look at a couple of old-timers who brushed by his car — washed everyday, stroked lovingly by hand himself, in the driveway of his house — almost marring the near mirror finish he liked to keep on the car. He rolled down the power window, and propped his elbow in the open window, just like a real cop, or so he thought.
He drove down Woodrow to Washington and made a left, tooling down past Sacred Heart Church, then onto the main drag that took him into the little downtown of Decanter. He parked his car across the street from the courthouse, checked the time on his cheap Rolex knock off, and went into the lobby, and paused beside the security checkpoint.
“Hey Will,” said Deputy Jeff Parrott. He was short, lean built in the same way a pit bull is, all muscle and bone, blond and with a certain coldness that led most anyone with any sense to avoid him. Hard to do when you’re a prisoner in custody, but then in Decanter, what happened in the jail stayed in the jail. Or so that was what word on the street was.
Willy Eichmann puffed up, looked around as he did, always checking to see if anyone was looking at him – especially someone of importance, somebody higher up the food chain than him, and even in a town this small, there were quite a few, in the Sheriff’s Department, the County Attorney’s office, the County Board, the bank management…the list went on.
But in his little world he liked to think he was the top dog. He wasn’t shy about reminding those that worked for him, including the deputies who moonlighted (against county regulations) as armed couriers on his armored truck runs, and they tolerated him because he paid well and on time, and in Decanter that went a long way.
“Jeff,” Eichmann said. “How’s it going? How’re the troops today?”
Jeff let the hint of a sneer cross his face and looked away. “Troops?” he said. “Yeah, us troops are just fine.”
The other deputy, a heavy-boned man with the long jowls of a hound dog, head closely shaven, crossed his arm and grinned at Eichmann.
“Hey Will,” said the deputy, whose name was Fergus. “Saw your kid the other night. Over by the high school.”
“That’s where he works,” Will said.
“I thought they was a law against school employees hitting on students,” Fergus said. “In this state I believe that’s a sex offense.”
Will grinned, quick and false, looked around. “That’s funny.”
Fergus grinned. “Yep. Real funny. Kinda weird, but what do I know?”
“Kids,” Will said. “Your kids, somebody else’s…pain in the ass. I don’t know why people bother anymore.”
“Funny thing for a father to say,” Jeff said.
Will shrugged and looked into the distance. “Some kids are more of a pain than others.”
Will Eichmann’s kid was cruising around in his red Ford Explorer, his elbow resting propped in the open window, his hand curled around a Styrofoam cup of coffee — just like a real cop. His buddy Danno was sitting in the passenger seat, flipping through a magazine of Eastern European porn, “the fancy stuff” as he liked to say.
“The fuck?” Bryant Eichmann said.
“What?” Danno (known as Good Twin) said, distracted by the high resolution close ups of shaved pussy and dick, something he thought of often in his role as catamite…
To Be Continued…
And for my long-suffering and very patient fans, here’s the second chapter of the soon-to-be released Three’s Wylde:
THREE’S WYLDE: Chapter Two
To my son, H ~ thanks for being the best Honey Badger in the whole universe!
Nico, Musing On the Afterlife In The Aftermath
…I was digging through the rubble with my bare hands. All of us were. We could hear Marines screaming underneath it all…I found a foot and pulled on it, and a perfectly formed leg from the calf down, intact and cleanly cut, like with a knife, came off in my hand. I just stood there, staring at it, and one of the corpsmen, skinny guy with glasses, looked like Radar O’Reilly from the old MASH show, he took it from me, he was so gentle…
“Gunny, let me take that for you,” he said.
…so I let him, and then I kept digging, ’cause my boys were underneath all that, all my boys…
Nico remembered The Gunny, still a big man with hands bent and twisted with arthritis, but curved into the shape of a pistol grip or a rifle stock from years in harm’s way, drinking coffee with Nico and the other Young Guns early in the morning, sitting at the table in the team room, the Gunny one of the Old Guys from SAD visiting the Young Guns on the vanilla teams and reminding them that they too could go into the Black…
…what the fuck? Where…Nina?
Nico tried to sit up again and was reminded why he had passed out and gone to The Place of Old Memories…it *hurt* to sit up.
So he lay back down and started his assessment once more, head to toe. Okay, conscious, can see, feel bleeding somewhere on his leg, okay, legs still worked, wiggle toes, deep bruising but no bone injuries yet, so why did he faint?
Overpressure, yeah, no shit, probably add to the total for his Traumatic Brain Injury (there’s advantages to being thick-headed, he reminded himself), okay, there are others down here, so let’s get on with it…what was it that crazy Old Guy at FLETC used to tell him…
Spectacles, testicles, guns and creds. Shit, son, you got all that you’re good to go…
Don’t have spectacles, though he’d probably need them soon, still had his testicles which was a relief, that’s the secret fear of any male operator who’d been in an IED environment, guns, yep, creds, at this point, who gives a fuck, I got a gun, what do I need creds for…
…you’re rambling, Nico. Time to get on with it.
Can’t sit up? Probably concussion. Well, if I can’t sit up I can crawl.
He twisted onto his side, hissed at the pain from his lower back and legs (not a break, but tore some muscles and maybe some ligaments), and reached out with his one good hand (wait a minute, did the other one work?…yeah, just hurt like hell, so now he has two kinda good hands) and then the other, braced himself and pulled, hard…the wreckage on his legs twisting and his eyes watered at the welling of pain which he shut down and put away make it small and dark, put it in a box and put the box on the shelf in the cupboard in the back of your head that crazy guy who’d taught him that had probably saved more lives with that technique than most of the gunfighters listening to him would save with their blasters, and…
…just get on with it, Nico, you got friends and fellow fighters in here, maybe hurt worse than you, and you are all there is, no fucking cavalry here, so get on with it even if you have to crawl…
So he pulled himself, oh man, that HURT, another inch or two, rested, took a deep breath, reached and pulled again, oh, a whole forearms length, all that time with pull-ups worked, that ol’ Murphy workout (God Rest You And Keep You, Murph) was paying off in spades, ah that HURT, but you know, if you go deep enough into pain, it feels kinda good, that must be the secret with all those sex and bondage freaks, me, I’ll keep the sex and they can have the bondage and I sure as shit don’t need no practice in suffering, so they can keep the whips and stuff, but man, at least the pain lets me know I’m still alive, and you know, it kinda pisses me off and that will keep me alive what was he’d said in class, roar like a lion in pain, try it, when you get done laughing all the endorphins will act as the natural opiates they are so fuck yeah, I’ll roar —
— and to his muffled hearing, his roar sounded more like a scream, so he did it again as he pulled himself along, now the rubble was down around his knees and he felt the agony of blood rushing into deep bruising and the wet feel of some other bleeding, so fuck yeah, I’ll scream again, this shit works, thanks, man…
keep roaring, dudes and dudettes, be the wounded lion, because it will keep you alive long enough to kill those who tried to kill you…
His legs were free, but he was dragging them like noodles behind him, and he lay on his side, gasping for air, tears streaming down his face, and forced himself to flex his legs, oh they’re moving but it HURTS like a mo-fo, so let’s do this roar thing again…
long as you can roar you can move, long as you can move, you can fight, long as you can fight you can kill the fuckers who put you here…
So he roared again and then he heard the sweetest thing in his whole operational career:
“Jesus, Nico. Shut the fuck up and get me out of here,” a hoarse voice.
“You bellowing like a fucking wounded cow, God, I should shoot you and put you out of your misery,” Nina said. She coughed. “What the hell’s wrong with you? How badly are you injured?”
“I’m just pissed off.”
Silence. Then laughter, punctuated by hisses of pain. “Oh, you bastard. Don’t make me laugh. My ribs are broken.”
And then he crawled closer and held her hand, the hand that wasn’t holding her pistol, as she lay there ready to kill.
A Much Battered Band of Miscreants Making Haste Elsewhere
“Shane, we need to regroup.” The driver paused. “Shane? I said…”
“I heard you,” Shane said. “We need to dismount and lose this van.”
“What about Jerry and Craig?”
“Ours not to reason why, oar’s but to do and die…” Shane said.
The driver cut the wheel sharply to the right and pulled the van into a narrow alley, barely enough room on either side for someone to pass by or get out, slammed the brakes and turned in his seat.
“Shane, cut the shit. What about Jerry and Craig?”
“I’m being too fucking subtle for you? They burn with the van, that’s the SOP, that’s what we fucking do. I don’t like it, but that’s what we do.”
“Not going to happen.”
Shane sighed. “Look, Marty, I don’t like it either. But there’s the mission. And we have to sort out this fucking mess.”
“We don’t do this to our people. Not ours. Ever.”
“We’ve done it before…”
“I haven’t,” Marty said.
“I have,” Shane said. “And that’s why I’m running this. Set the charges and we’re out of here.”
“No. I won’t.”
“Marty, we don’t need this. I’m sorry.”
“I won’t do this to a brother-in-arms, Shane.” Marty shifted and dropped his hand to his waistline. “Don’t push it. We’ll take them elsewhere and dump them, come back for them when we get the next vehicle.”
One of the other shooters reached across Marty and grabbed the keys. “Bro, I get the same thing. But they’d want us out of here whole and not arguing with each other over what’s right when we got total compromise falling down on our head. Let’s go.”
“Do it your fucking self,” Marty said. He opened the door and got out. “I’m not having anything to do with it.”
Shane watched him go. “Keep an eye on him. He’ll get over it. Set the charges.”
His remaining operators looked at each other, and then, reluctantly, did what needed to be done.
A few minutes later they hurried away individually, rally point fresh in their memory, as the van blossomed into flame and fury behind them, and fire licked over the faces of their fallen.
Mr. Smith, Enjoying The Neighborhood
….it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood, won’t you be mine, won’t you be mine…
Something about this time of the morning, when the darkness falls away into the light, always appealed to Hank, aka Mr. Smith. It wasn’t just the time to be tucked away into a hidden patrol base to sleep away the day and hunt at night, no, it wasn’t just the whole Koran thing about the time of the day when you can differentiate the dark thread from the light thread, though that metaphor always appealed to him, being a Dark Side Guy in the World of Light, so to speak.
It was more than anything else the followed-through-on-promise that there always is another day and another morning with all the potential that entailed that always, well, just made him downright happy.
So it made him happy this morning to see the light. Killing a posse of dirt bags added to his pleasure, especially since these were, well, freelanced and not exactly sanctioned, but that happens in the field.
And Hank was, first-last-and-always, a Man of the Field.
So after several of his hand-crafted pain relievers, Hank was riding a genial buzz and feeling good with the world. There were few people out, which meant he could turn the scar that had been his face so long ago up to the new sun and let the heat of it on him, blink away the tears that ran from the bright sunlight or something else, but let’s not let this introspective streak spoil a good morning.
It mattered not that he left in his wake a shattered building or three, with a significant number of his countrymen employed in the profession of keeping people safe buried in the rubble, one mediocre barista lesson in there for Starbucks and a smattering of psychopathic teenagers what happened to the world of sock hops? What was that phrase that Oppenheimer used when he saw the brilliant and beautiful tower of flame that was a nuclear blast? “I am become Death, the Shatterer of Worlds…”
“Dang, son,” Hank said. “You’re getting downright philosophical.”
Or else it’s Attention Deficit Disorder compounded with Traumatic Brain Injury and further complicated by the chemical cocktail he imbibed four times a day to keep his much battered body functioning…
“Keep on task,” he said. “Coffee would help.”
A bus rattled by him, not the one he’d disembarked from earlier, that would complicate his life right now, so he’d made the point to move away from that route. He preferred walking right now anyway, it keep the lymphatics moving and reminded him, despite the hitch in his get-along, that he could still roll with most of the best of them, at least on his good days and properly medicated.
Which, right now, meant caffeine of the sort you imbibe, preferably in a real china mug instead of a recycled paper cup. Up ahead an icon glowed: a neon red coffee cup with stylized steam rising out of it. The sign beneath it said: The Spy Shop.
“This would, in the words of Carl Jung, be considered synchronicity,” Hank said.
He opened the door. It was a classic Lake City hipster hang: Ikea tables, lots of big glass windows, a long expanse of coffee bar, artwork on the wall, a cute 20-something tattooed barista with a nose ring and a shock of blond hair under a pink beret, who gave him the double take he was used to.
“Good morning!” she said.
She actually sounded authentic, which paused Hank in his usual acerbic greeting to those in the service of those with the coin. He looked past her at the list of drinks posted behind the service bar. She smiled and gazed steadily at him. He gave her a full blast of his face…no flinch. Interesting.
“How’s your mocha?” he said, testing.
“It’s really good,” she said. “We whip chocolate granules in with the steamed milk. Very rich. Shall I make you one?”
“How many shots would you like? Our standard is two, three, and four. Depends on the size of the cup.”
He nodded slowly, considering. “How many in a mug?”
“It’s always better in a mug,” she said. “You can have as many as you like. We have a coffee cup and then a mug. You probably want a mug.”
“A mug, then. Three shots.”
“You got it. There’s some nice soft chairs in the back there…I can bring it back to you.”
“What, you want me to hide me in the back?”
She looked him right in the eye. “No. I just want you to be comfortable and enjoy it. It’s slow and I don’t mind bringing it back to you.”
He considered her. No fear. Maybe even genuine kindness, a rare thing in Hank’s experience. No shortage of situational kindness, but the real sort…rare. Maybe this was his reward for doing some pro-bono street cleaning.
“Thank you. That’s kind of you.”
“Oh, you’re welcome. Go on, pick a spot. There’s today’s paper at the end of the bar if you want.”
She turned away and busied herself with the makings.
Hank walked slowly down the length of the bar, dragging his fingers along, feeling the wood. Nice stuff. There were indeed two nice armchairs and a couch, all in leather, set up in the back around a low Ikea coffee table. He settled himself into one of the armchairs, relishing the cushy leather folding around him. He watched the girl working on his mocha; she was an artiste, for sure. She looked over and smiled.
“I forgot to ask if you wanted whipped cream,” she said.
“Sure. All my favorite food groups: whipped cream, chocolate, coffee. Who wouldn’t want whipped cream?”
She laughed. “Good call.”
She finished the coffee and brought it over to him, set it down in front of him with extra napkins. She saw him looking and she said, “Oh, I brought you a few. These mochas are always a little messy.”
“What’s your name?”
“Tara,” she said.
“T-A-R-A or T-A-R-A-H?”
“T-A-R-A,” she said. “Why?”
“I knew a Tarah with an H,” Hank said. “Long time ago. She was a singer.” He paused. “You kind of remind me of her.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the first bill that came to hand. It was a twenty.
“Here,” he said.
“Oh, you already paid!”
“This is for you.”
“Really? Wow, that’s too much, you don’t have to…”
“Go ahead. Use it for some fun. You have a kind heart. It shows. That’s what reminded me of my friend.”
She took the bill, folded it small into her hand. “So where is your friend? Your Tarah?”
Hank looked down at the elegant fold of cream atop his gleaming white mug. “I don’t know.”
“Maybe you’ll find her. Or she’ll find you.”
And with that, she went back to the counter.
Three Witches Channeling Lady Macbeth
Irina and Dee Dee, both casual in terrycloth robes, stood and watched as Kiki in her favorite Miley Cyrus pajamas tore open the Fedex box, happy as a girlie at Christmas. Kiki placed the smaller packages within the larger box in an semi-circle before her. Dee Dee noted with interest how particular and precise her thirteen-year-old protégé was; the small hands with chewed nails set every box out the exact distance from each other in a perfectly formed arc. Attention to detail was an essential skill in the cutting-edge hacker; of course there was always the danger of that pesky OCD thing, but hey, you put up with bad for the good.
And Kiki Warren was very very good. When she wasn’t being bad.
“These things? What are they?” Irina said.
Kiki looked up and smiled. “New boxes for our run.”
“Boxes? Run?” Irina said.
Kiki was happy to explain and opened her mouth to begin.
“English, Kiki,” Dee Dee said. “We’re not experts.”
“Oh, for sure,” Kiki said. “I’ve…oh, never mind…”
“What?” Irina said. She looked at Dee Dee and for once, the two of them were in agreement.
Dee Dee laughed and said, “Honey, you just work your magic. What do you need from us?”
“Oh, nothing, I’ll take care of it, should be ready in about an hour or so, I gotta pee and get something to eat…”
“You go pee. Set up where you need to. What do you want for breakfast?” Dee Dee said.
“Lucky Charms and chocolate milk, and do you mind if I put the TV on? I have my show on Nick….”
Dee Dee looked at Irina and shrugged. “Sure honey. Whatever you want…”
The two women — a Russian whore turned arms dealer turned unwilling accomplice to a major international cybercrime and a sassy California beach girl turned international assassin — looked at each other and said at the same time, “This is the daughter we never had?”
They both laughed together, at the same time, at the same thing. A first for both of them.
Irina said, “This is much trouble?”
“Not so much for the pay-off, Rina,” Dee Dee said. “I could hang it up, go south and find me some willing sun-tanned surfer boy to keep me company at night and wouldn’t talk much, buy all the shoes I ever wanted and not have to drop the hammer on another client for as long as I care to live.”
She considered that thought. “Unless they pissed me off. What you gonna do with your share, Rina? You gonna stay here in the Great White State of US of A, or you heading East again?”
“I do not know. I have not thought that far ahead.”
“That’s half the fun of the big score, honey. It’s spending it in advance. Hang out with that thought for a while. You might surprise yourself. You want some more coffee? It’s good, for hotel joe.”
Dee Dee padded, barefoot, ripple of muscle up her thigh and calf, and poured them both fresh cups, handed it to Irina who followed in her wake.
“This guy I killed,” Dee Dee said. “Early on, one of my first gigs. I was still working out my style, you know? So I went with what’s natural, get next to him, fuck him, you know how guys are after a really good blow job or a hard fuck, all they want to do is sleep? Was working, and I didn’t want to mess up what was turning into a good long run of gigs. But this guy, he never slept. PTSD…”
“What is PTSD?” Irina said.
“Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Rina. What the sensitive types get when things go violent. Wakes ’em up, feel on edge all the time.” She sipped her coffee. “You don’t look like the PTSD prone type. Are you?”
“No,” Irina said. “I am not.”
“So any way, this guy, he was a contractor over in the Sandbox, got into some things he wasn’t supposed to, took the shut-your-mouth-forever payment but couldn’t keep his mouth shut, so the higher-ups contracted an outsider to make sure his mouth was shut, like, forever, you know? So I got up next to him down in Cancun, pretty easy as I was a sweet young thing in those days, we’re hanging out and I get him away from his buddies and we do an overnight down in Carmen del Playa, not far, but far enough, you know? But Lawdy, this boy does love the pussy but he never sleeps. I mean, I worked out on that boy, but he never shut his eyes for more than a few minutes at a time. I was ready to just push him off the balcony after two days, you know?
“But the one thing that boy loved more than that golden pussy was talking. He would talk talk talk about anything under the sun, he’d talk to a fencepost or the wall if I wasn’t there. But anyway…he asked me this question, the night I killed him, and I never forgot it.”
“What did he say?” Irina said.
“He said, ‘What would you do if you never had to worry about making money again? If there was no limit on what you could do?’ He said that would define who I was.”
“What did you say?”
“Oh, I said I’d probably kill him for talking so much. He just laughed.”
“And then what did he say?”
Dee Dee sipped her coffee. “Oh, I killed him, baby. Really. He talked himself to death.”
Jimmy John Wylde And The Goddess Lizzy, Reunited
Lizzy and Jimmy, in bed.
Lizzy above him, his fresh bandages dotted with light red. The long mane of red hair down over his face, dragged along and down his chest, his belly, leaving a wake of goose flesh as he shivered, her tongue darting along his belly and then lower, touching his scrotum already drawn up tight to his belly, a slow wet touch along the bottom of his straining cock, him arching up to her…
…a part of her watching herself, seeing what violence and death and injury did to this man she shared her bed with, the deep need to release, to purge, to empty himself into the vessel that she is…and she thought of a poem, something she had read to him once, long ago, something he never responded to, just sat and watched her with those deep and dark-shaded eyes, the eyes of someone wounded deep and long and hard, just taking it all in…
And she cupped him in one long-nailed hand, drew her nails gently along the velvet skin of his cock, and then she eased him into her, just the tip…
…and the line from the poem, from the amazing Tess Gallagher, the perfect line for this: “Small then, the word, holy…”
A sacrament of the flesh and the sacred duty of the Goddess, to take the Warrior into her and transform him…
And she eased her self slowly down on him, an inch at a time, and he strained upward, but she lay one hand on his chest, held him there, and reveled in how he did as she directed with just a touch…
She knew know the full Power of the Goddess, the power to take within her that hurt and hurtful Power, transform it within her, create a child from it if she wished…but now, just to transform and to heal with the gift of her body and the pleasure it brought him…
Descending down on him now, with the control and grace of the dancer and the yogini in the Sacred Dance, a ripple of her inner muscles bringing a groan from him and an involuntary gasp from her, ease up, pause, and then slide down slow, again, repeat, the rhythm increasing, a cycle of seven slow, pause, wait for his groan…then seven fast, till he was right at the brink, pause, slow, slip slowly, then seven more slow and fully, struggling now to contain herself, lower belly trembling, the ripple of the muscles deep inside her along the cock swelling to fill her, and now a slow steady rotating churn between a deep steep glide on him, faster and faster and faster…
…Jimmy arching up beneath her, the involuntary thrusts up at her, his hands clawing at her now, grasping her ass and thrusting her up and down on him…and now she surrendered herself to it, both of them pumping at each other until he broke, a hot geyser in her and then she did, arching and gasping, the two of them clinging to each other like drowning passengers from a boat slipping beneath the waves….
After. Slick with sweat. Pounding hearts. Raspy breath.
Alive. Oh, so alive.
Deon and Guz And The Business Of Freelance Gunfighting
“I think I can cover it under my rider, oke,” Deon said.
“Seriously?” Guz said, dubious. “Your insurance company gonna buy that? Man, that would be great if so…”
“They’ll cover it. I’ll have to gin up a 1099 for you, though, show that you were employed, which means, you being a government employee and all, you’ll have to declare at least some of that cash.”
“I can do that. No worries.”
“Smart lad. We’ll get the paperwork done and I’ll call my agent. Good man, Cambodian.”
“Yes. He’s a biggie in their local version of the Mafia, runs a very profitable insurance business.” Deon laughed. “Processes more than a fair share of fire and personal injury claims, you fall behind on your premiums, right?”
Guz laughed. “You run with a rough crowd, Deon.”
“Takes one to know one, oke. Now. Let’s get you on these forms.”
Deon pulled out the forms and Guz leaned over them and began to work. While Guz filled out his forms, Deon limped (the ibuprofen was wearing off) around the counter and took stock of his store. He was of a mind to keep all the guns locked up in the safe and take the rest of the day off. The shop had been closed more than open in the last week what with the demands of his extracurricular security business activities.
And a man had to make a living.
“What else do you need?” Guz said.
“Copy of your Social Security Card and Driver’s License or Passport,” Deon said.
“Digital okay? I got them in my Iron Key.”
“Sure, fine. You can use the laptop on the desk there.”
Guz slid, gingerly, into the chair and took the Iron Key hung around his neck and plugged it into the USB drive. He went through the authentication procedure and decrypted his personal ID files, dragged and copied a PDF of his passport (standard tourist, not the black or red ones, those stayed on the drive) and his original SSN card to Deon’s desktop, then hit Print. Both documents buzzed out of the wireless printer on the back work bench. Deon picked them up, looked them over, then stapled them to the declarations form and the insurance form.
“Let’s go see my friend,” Deon said. “You up for some Vietnamese food?”
“Do you need me? I should probably go home…”
“Ah, right. Shall I give you a ride or should we get you a rental car? My insurance will reimburse you for it.”
“Better go rental. Or I’ll be walking. My wife doesn’t let me drive her car. Probably never will after today.”
Deon laughed. “They’ll get you a new one, oke. Those Wranglers…consider a Cherokee. Or else a good bakkie.”
“I’d get a bakkie, but you can’t get the Hi-Lux in the US. I like those. Ran them over there.”
“Your wife would worry you’d run it as a technical,” Deon said.
“No joke, dude,” Guz said. “Let’s get that car. I gotta work on the story for her…she is so gonna kill me…”
“Women and cars, oke. Either or both will kill you…”
Thanks Be To God, Talking To God
Officer Hanks, aka known as Thanks Be To God, knelt before his open locker door. Carefully arranged on the inside of the door were three images: one of Jesus, one of Mother Mary, and one of St. Michael the Archangel. He was oblivious to the hard concrete beneath his knees and the other police officers, after a long acquaintance with his heavy hand if interrupted during prayer, held their silence for the moments it took for him.
He prayed silently the Lord’s Prayer, a Hail Mary, and the Warrior’s Prayer of St. Michael, and then he added, out loud, the prayer that every cop on his shift had heard for seventeen years: “And if, Creator God, you call upon me as an instrument of your justice, may my hand be steady and my aim be true. In accordance with your will, not mine, Creator God, may I be blessed with the light of your son, Jesus Christ, as I go forth to do your work as your warrior on the face of this earth. Amen.”
And the other cops, including a rookie who bore a bruise from the day he’d rolled his eyes at his FTO while Hanks prayed, all intoned aloud: “Amen.”
Hanks stood up, adjusted his belt and checked the cant of his twin holsters. Turned and grinned at the other cops.
“All right, you sinners. Let’s go shoot some miscreants, shall we?”
Nico and Nina, Hand In Hand
“Can you walk?” she said.
“Haven’t tried, but I doubt it.”
“I don’t know if I can stand.”
“Best to lay here and think it out. Give EMS and Fire a chance to get up here. They can be the heroes today.”
“They’re probably bitching about having to get off the recliner,” Nina said.
“Anybody else?” Nico said.
Nina pointed to what used to be the door into the inner recesses of the safe house. Protruding were two legs with an expensive set of heels, like the Wicked Witch of the West beneath her fallen house. “I wonder if she always dressed like that before she tortured a terrorist.”
“Torture is such a harsh word. I prefer enhanced interrogation.”
“You would, you faggot.” She laughed and then she coughed. “I told you, don’t make me laugh. Or I’ll shoot you.”
The steady chunk chunk chunk they’d heard for hours seemed closer, or maybe that was just wishful thinking.
“I pay taxes,” Nina said. “I’d think they’d bring a back hoe instead of doing it by hand.”
“They have to prop it up as they go.”
“I’m a taxpayer and a police officer. I demand a back hoe.”
“I’ll get right on that, Officer Friendly.”
“I could never be a Fed,” Nina said thoughtfully.
“Why? I heard you used to be a Fed.”
“That’s a lie told by my enemies. I could never be a Fed.”
“I know who my mother and father were.”
It took him a minute to figure it out. And that made her laugh till she spat some blood out.
“I told you, dumb-ass. Over your head and into the back yard,” she said. “In a battle of wits, you’d be unarmed.”
“I’m off my feed today.”
“What’s that, Seven and Seven?”
Nico laughed. “I’m a bourbon man.”
“You would be.”
“What does that mean?”
“I wish I had a gin and tonic. Good gin, not the crap you probably drink. Bombay Sapphire. Fresh lime. And a beach. A good one. With nobody but me on it.”
“Maybe some anonymous hard-body who knows how to keep his mouth shut and rubs oil on demand.”
“You’re easy to please.”
“Dream on, knuckle-dragger.” She paused. “I’m having a hard time breathing.”
“Keep talking. Long as you’re talking you’re getting air in your lungs.”
“You’re just afraid of being stuck in here by yourself. Probably start crying. Or doing that fucking roaring thing. What the fuck is that all about, anyway?”
Nico said, “It’s a technique.”
“Technique for what? To make everybody laugh till they drop their fucking guns?”
“Fuck you, Nina.”
“You wish, big boy. I’d leave you looking like a raisin in the sun.”
“What, you a sparkly vampire or what?”
She really laughed now, spat more blood out. “I know you’re gay, Nico. Admit it. I bet you cried in the TWILIGHT movies, didn’t you? Tell the truth…got all teary eyed and weepy with Bella and the Wolf Boy, huh? Or was it shirtless shots of Wolf Boy that got you all wound up?”
“I liked the red-headed crazy vampire girl. She was hot. Reminded me of an old girlfriend.”
“You’re a sick pup, Nico. You need counseling. Really. Marital, social, whatever they got. And a 12-Step Program, too.
“Oh, I got all those. Sex Addicts Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, you name it, I got a card. I collect ’em, carry ’em around in my wallet behind my pre-paid Visa card. I’m a charter member of the Sensitive New Age Guys group.”
“What the fuck is that?”
“We sit around and apologize for being born with penises. We have a sponsor we can call if we get a hard-on, and he’ll talk us down. I used to do the alphabet backwards, but now I’ll just think of you.”
“You be nice to me. We could be dying here together.”
“We’re not going to die. Only the good die young, so we’ll live forever.”
“If I think I’m going to die, I might fuck you. Just saying. But only if I’m going to die.”
“Why only then?”
“Look at yourself. Who would fuck you if they weren’t going to die?”
A high pitched buzz and drone, and then a drill bit came through one of the largest piles of rubble. They both turned their heads and watched the drill bit withdraw, and then a moment later the cable of a fiber-optic camera poke through.
“If you bastards have been taping us, I’m going to shoot you in the junk before I shoot you in the face. I am fucking serious,” Nina said.
The gleaming eye of the fiber-optic camera twitched towards them. Nina and Nico raised their joined hands.
But Nina never set down the pistol she clenched in her other hand.
In The Bright Light Of Day, A Gathering
Jimmy sat himself down, gingerly, in the bright red overstuffed chair Lizzy kept in her window. It looked out over her street, and between the buildings across you could see a slice of green from the park. A mug of steaming black coffee in his hand, Aleve for the aches and pains.
A tap at the door, and he heard the hiss of naked skin under silk as Lizzy answered the door. He heard Deon say, “Hello, love. How is he?”
“He’s good, Deon. Are you well?”
“Yes, fine, love. Got coffee for me?”
“Go in to Jimmy. I’ll bring it to you.”
“You are the Goddess, my love. Thank you.”
Behind him Deon’s presence, then a chair settling in on the other side of the window box, and Deon folding his skeletal frame into it, settling himself just so, crossing his legs at the knee. He looked, in this light, like a young Thomas Edgar Lawrence; all he lacked was a pipe and a kaffiyeh to complete the picture.
Lizzy appeared at his shoulder, a vision in red, a steaming mug of coffee. She rested one hand on Deon’s shoulder and placed the mug in his upraised hand, kissed him on the top of his head. Stared Jimmy in the eye, smiled, leaned and brushed his lips with hers. Went away, only her scent in her wake.
Deon sipped the coffee, sighed in satisfaction.
“A vision of the Goddess and a fine cup of coffee. Oke, anytime you want to swap lives, you let me know, right?” he said.
Jimmy nodded. “What do you hear?”
“Our fine friends in Lake City PD found the van. Burned out, two bodies in it, and they are busily digging through charred meat to determine forensics, but a private word from a like-minded thinker down there said the odds were on those bullets coming from the bullet launchers we left downtown. No sign of the others as yet, and it’s quite disturbing to consider they left their dead to burn. Either they didn’t care, or, they did care and did it anyway and the forensics won’t put a name to them.”
“Or they couldn’t E and E with the bodies.”
“Why not drop them elsewhere and come back to recover?”
“Which? Why they didn’t drop them or who they are or where they are?”
“Who and where. That’s what I want.”
“You and me both, oke. I think Lance T may have some answers.”
“He almost caught a bullet himself.”
“That’s my point. Perhaps he has some insight on why some old hippy would come in hard to drag out a handicapped Cambodian man. And then come back for Lizzy. Speaking of which, I think we need to keep her close and bring in a few of the lads. They’re not likely to forget her.”
“She told them everything they asked.”
“True. And perhaps they don’t know we walked away. And if they find out we did, they will come looking for her, because finding her will bring you and me running. See my drift?”
Jimmy did, and he didn’t like it. “Who are you thinking?”
“The Great Rassuli has a couple of likelys.”
“He trained them? Who?”
“We’ll use our people for primaries, give one of his youngsters a back up slot. We need to see The Rassuli for some off-the-books hardware anyway. I don’t want any more of mine ending up in Evidence for the duration.” Deon sipped his coffee, closed his eyes to savor the taste. “Elegant, this. Top shelf. I’m thinking Kona?”
“Jamaican Blue Mountain,” Lizzy said from behind them. “Only the best for my men.”
Deon raised his mug in salute over his shoulder, tipped his head to Jimmy.
Jimmy John Wylde nodded. Stared out the window. Watched a new day unfold.
The Great Rassuli And La Femme, Nikita
In a warehouse, in the old factory district of Lake City, across the main floor where a battered 4×4 sat next to a gleaming and lovingly restored 72 Dodge Charger, a taxicab and a tow truck, there was a stairwell that went down, down, down, a full three levels, down into the bowels beneath Lake City where only the memory of the past factories and the workers who’d toiled there were…
…and in the deepest corner of the basement level an office, a workshop adjoining, and in the workshop a bench upon which was laid out with machine-like precision the various components that, when assembled, made up an AR-15 carbine. A brilliant light above the table hid the man working in shadows; his hands were long fingered, pale and adept. Each part was weighed in the palm of his hand, measurements taken with the digital gauge he held. When he was satisfied, the assembly began: a smooth continuous flow that never stopped, slow and fluid and punctuated with the snick and snap and twang of parts carefully machined, polished, measured, lubricated and put together in an exercise of painstaking exactitude.
When he was done, he laid both his hands on the weapon in benediction.
Footsteps approaching, and then the question, in a soft female voice: “Are you through?”
“May I turn on the lights?”
A carefully manicured finger, the nail short and perfectly rounded, gleaming with clear polish, touched the light switch and stroked the dimmer switch gently up.
The Great Rassuli looked across the table as the light revealed him. Even seated, he was tall; over six and a half feet tall, but lean to the point of emaciation; long wrinkles furrowed down a face punctuated by a black eye patch, like a pirate’s but not so jovial; a single unblinking brown eye, hard and topped by a slash of grey, a grey thatch of hair closely trimmed to the skull with a long scar that ran atop the head and down beneath the patch, hinting at the injury there. Forearms rippling with the movement of fingers as long and adept as a concert pianist’s.
“May I?” the woman said.
“Of course,” he said. “I think you will…appreciate it.”
“Of course,” she said. “I’m always…appreciative.”
She came to the table. He pushed his chair back to make room for her. She brushed past him, paused, smiled down at him and his unblinking eye.
La Femme, Nikita: Five feet five inches tall, 130 pounds of taut muscle sheathed in a skin-tight black Smartwool T-shirt and carefully hemmed and fitted olive-drab Drop Zone Tactical Operator’s pants, ass-length blond hair pulled tight back from her face and braided with exquisite precision in a tight Valkyrie braid, green eyes unaccented by any make up, not that they needed any, a brilliant razor edged green, like the edge of winter ice, face smooth and unlined and showing every single one of her twenty-two years.
She held his eye, then turned her attention to the carbine, picked it up with the respect due a hand-crafted product of an artisan at the top of his game. She weighed it in her hands, stepped away from the table, then tucked the Magpul CTR stock into the pocket of her shoulder, lowered the muzzle and then used her support hand to adjust the length just so; slid her support hand and wrapped index and ring finger around the Tango Down stubby VFG out at the end of the lower rail, steered the gun in tight, stepped away and snapped a sight index along the fixed Daniel Defense rear and front sights; reached up with her support hand and snapped back the BCM Gunfighter Handle and let the bolt settle with a well lubricated snap, floated away, like a dancer, indexing on the various targets hung on the wall and then, locked tight, elbows in, aimed at the reduced target on the farthest wall and stroked the Geiselle trigger through it’s 3.5 pound pull and was rewarded with the clack of the hammer fall at exactly the heartbeat she desired.
“You would have pulled just slightly right,” The Rassuli said. “Again.”
She cycled the bolt once again, engaged the safety.
“Move, and then settle. Gunfights are not static events,” The Rassuli said.
She rose on her toes, sheathed in Salomon Fastpackers, glided like the pin up girl for flow CQB, settled, disengaged the safety, broke the trigger.
She did so.
“Best. Bring it here.”
She handed him the carbine, and he snapped onto the quick detach swivels a Viking Tactics sling, pre set for her. “Try it.”
She slung the weapon, pulled the strap tight, bounced lightly on her toes, hit the release buckle and ran the weapon out.
“Transitions,” The Rassuli said.
She raised the carbine to the ready position, then slipped her support arm beneath the sling as she transitioned the carbine to her left shoulder, and then back.
She readjusted the carbine and the sling, did it again.
“Good. What sort of optic would you prefer?” he said.
“What do you suggest?”
“T-1. Or would you prefer the Eo?”
“As you suggest. The Eo is easier for offset.”
“Yes. It is. We’ll try both, close and then far. Then you can decide.”
“As you suggest.”
She brought the weapon back to the table, laid it down with ceremony where she had picked it up.
“It’s excellent. The Geiselle trigger is perfect,” she said.
“I want you to run it with your gloves, as well. In the shoot house. It’s lighter than you have trained with.”
“Yes. As you suggest. Shall we do it now?”
He smiled, an upturn of hard lines. “Not right now. Shortly.”
She smiled in turn. Slid onto his lap and looped both of her hard, pale arms around his neck. Leaned forward and took his ear lobe in her small, perfect teeth, tugged gently, then touched her tongue to his ear and exhaled, slowly.
“Shortly?” she said. “I think…not.”
“As you suggest.”
To Be Continued….