County Lines by Bob
A Tarot card reader in Terre Haute, Indiana turned over the six
of swords followed by the six of wands and the six of pentacles.
The cards were exact in their message. The Beast was on the move.
At a World Trade Organization meeting in Orlando, Florida, a short,
blue-eyed man with every thick, gray hair neatly tapered into place
approached the podium and spoke softly in a melodic tone.
Drake Sipes watched from the rear of the room. He recognized evil,
even when pleasantly disguised.
Drake studied the speaker's protective force. Arranged in the standard
V formation taught by secret intelligence, each man standing in
an extended diagonal line from both sides of the speaker located
at the apex of the V. At the first indication of danger, each line
would swing together like double walls to protect the speaker, the
A shot in the back of the head at close range with a .22 would
work. A small, hot bullet bouncing around inside the skull, scrambling
brains. But that would require someone on the inside, someone trusted,
like the assassin who murdered the Kennedy brothers.
Not Lee Harvey Oswald or Sirhan Sirhan. They were dupes played
like idiot pawns. Jack and Bobby knew their killer, trusted him
with their lives and lost. Inside jobs obviously. Good thing for
those who planned the assassinations that most of the American public
Drake has studied the real autopsy reports. The shot that killed
Bobby, fired from a different caliber weapon than the one Sirhan
carried. The shot that killed Jack, fired at point-blank range into
his forehead. Jack saw his killer, recognized the traitor, a split
second before dying.
Jack and Bobby didn't deserve killing. They were innocent victims
of a blinded alley. The speaker, however, wasn't a victim or innocent.
The speaker was a predatory monster hiding behind a likable mask.
He knew when to smile, when to shake hands, when to dig in his claws,
when to draw blood.
Like most things about him, his name was counterfeit, Franklin
Truman, lifted from the 32nd and 33rd Presidents of the United States.
Better than Harry Roosevelt, Drake thought, not much but a little.
Franklin Truman wasn't President of the United States or running
for public office. He knew real leaders aren't elected. Real leaders
pull political strings from behind the scenes.
Drake listened as Truman returned repeatedly to the same message
in his speech: "The United States must enact a free trade agreement
Drake knew the truth about China. Almost a billion and a half strong.
Larger population than Western Europe, Canada, and the United States
combined. A standing army of five million Communist soldiers waiting
for the order to march against the free world.
The idea of free trade with China was so ridiculous Drake would
laugh if the likelihood of it occurring didn't increase each day.
How many more jobs must disappear before the American public wised
up? "Our economy is the best it's ever been." Try telling
that joke to an unemployed factory worker with a family to feed,
house, and clothe.
Drake hated the Communist Chinese. They fought beside the North
Koreans and the North Vietnamese. They provided weapons and ammunition
to enemies of the United States. The Communist Chinese murdered
American soldiers by the thousands, by the tens of thousands. Would
do it again the next time they had the chance.
In his little red book for all Communist Chinese to read, Mao had
written, "We will destroy the capitalists. We will fertilize
our fields with the dust of their bones."
Not an intelligent move, Drake thought, doing business with people
who want to turn you into fertilizer.
But Franklin Truman and his kind didn't depend on the public to
make intelligent decisions. They bet the other way and seldom lost.
The marches against the World Trade Organization were the first
signs of intelligent public action seen by Drake in a long time.
Perhaps there was hope after all.
Franklin Truman must be killed, not because of his support for
the World Trade Organization. Truman was only one of many pushing
that plate of beans. Drake had a private score to settle.
In 1968 at a prisoner of war camp in North Vietnam, a captain in
the Communist Chinese Army ordered the execution of Vietnamese civilians
accused of helping American GI's. To save ammunition, the North
Vietnamese soldiers hacked the children, women, and old men to death
with knives and machetes.
Drake watched from his prison cell. He saw the captain smile when
the slaughter was complete. The same smile Franklin Truman exhibited
as he concluded his speech.
Tinted contact lenses and plastic surgery couldn't conceal Truman's
true identity, not from Drake.
Following the speech, Drake shook hands with Truman and gave him
a first edition of Huckleberry Finn signed by Mark Twain, or as
close as Drake could get it.
"I hear it's your favorite," Drake said.
"It is," Truman replied. "I was born and raised
on the Mississippi."
Sure you were, Drake thought, just outside Shanghai.
Later that evening, Truman flipped on the light next to the bed
in his hotel room and started thumbing through his gift.
Between the first and second chapter, a mechanism triggered three
ounces of a carefully concealed plastic explosive. The book exploded
into a cloud of flesh, blood, and bone fragments.
Drake had eliminated one beast. But another stirred on the brink,
with triple sixes as its sign.
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570