From "Freedom's Sons", Part Two
[Apparently I already posted this chapter and simply forgot about it. Another one of my damned embarrassing "senior moments," I'm afraid. My apologies for the repetition. I considered simply removing this post, but when I screw up I own up to the fact. Anybody know where I can cop some anti-Alzheimers medication cheap? (No insurance.)]
III. Out There (12 years and six months after Longview)
Lieutenant Robert Campbell sat on a wooden chair in a cramped office overlooking a loading dock and the interior of a warehouse, just off Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia. Cardboard cartons of cigarettes and cheap cigars were piled in the corners. He was listening to his new boss scream threats and obscenities into the phone.
Vinnie Skins sat behind a huge mahogany desk and scowled into the videocam on the handset. He was a square blockhouse of a man and could look menacing even over the phone. His brown hair was combed back over his head with fragrant pomade into a ducktail, and his blue-scraped face and jaw reeked of aftershave. Skins wore a $27,000 suit (at present inflated American costs) underneath which was a pink silk shirt and blue tie, Gucci shoes in the $8000-a-pair region, and a huge diamond pinky ring. He finally calmed down a bit and went on in a more reasonable voice. “Tony, look, you know I always liked you. You’re a nice guy, you got a pretty wife, hey, I do like you. I like having all tings pleasant about me, and I hate it when guys I like take advantage of my fucking good nature like youse is doing now. But because I like you, I’ll make you a deal. You get me four hundred pounds of pork chops, a whole side of beef, an’ twenny racks of lamb by Friday, and you don’t send it in some piece of crap truck wit’ de refrigeration busted so it arrives here thawed out, and I won’t peel de skin off your face like a fucking onion. Don’t dat show how much I like you? Can’t say fairer dan dat, now, can I? Now go fuck yourself.” He folded up the phone.
“Does Richie have to swear like that?” asked Campbell.
"Think of it as a foreign language you have to learn in order to communicate with the natives,” said Major Vincent Cardinale of the War Prevention Bureau. “Listen to the niggers on the street and on the tube, and imitate them. Blacks have been setting the cultural and linguistic tone on the streets in this country for a long time. Until you pick up the real rap, just throw a couple of shits and fucks into every sentence, and you’ll pass. The Office tells me your Spanish is fluent?”
Bob had already learned that no reference was ever made on station to the WPB or even to the Circus, as part of the operatives’ ingrained wariness against the electronic eavesdropping from a dozen public and private agencies that was everywhere in America. Out Here it was always just the Office. “Yes sir, although it’s classroom variety. We read Don Quixote in school in the original Spanish, but I can barely understand this gabble I’ve been hearing from all the beaners around me since I crossed over.”
“Cervantes wrote in classical Castilian, the Spanish version of Shakespeare,” Cardinale told him. “These mestizos around here speak pig-ignorant peasant dialects from a hundred different localities in Latin America and the Caribbean. Some of them don’t even speak Spanish, they’re from so far out in the jungle, only obscure little Paleolithic Indian dialects. You’re Chicago Irish from Bridgeport, remember, so you won’t be expected to know more than a couple of hundred words of pidgin Spanish, mostly swear words. When you’re dealing with beaners, you can just throw in a few essays and vatos along with your shits and fucks.”
There was a knock on the door. “Getcha ass in here!” Cardinale yelled. The door opened and a man and a woman came in. The man was tall and about forty years old, with long blond hair and a drooping moustache both tinged with a little gray, and a gold earring in his ear. He was wearing a blue overall with pleated shoulders, a cloth belt with a silver buckle displaying a dollar sign, and expensive shoes with pointed steel toes, the height of fashion for an edgy underworld player type in America’s current quasi-negroid, media-fueled subculture. The woman looked to be in her mid-twenties. She had a hard face that might have been pretty if she’d tried, and long auburn hair tied behind her head. She wore cut-off jeans and sandals and a sleeveless gray sweatshirt. She had several tattoos on her arms and legs, including a dove on one shoulder and an intricate depiction on her shin of Jesus Christ giving the world the finger. She carried a small holstered automatic on her belt and the man’s overall bulged from the weapon he carried beneath it in a shoulder holster rig.
Bob himself was wearing simple jeans, a T-shirt, and heavy work boots, as well as several prominent new tattoos of his own, including an Irish shamrock on one bicep, a dagger piercing a heart over the name “Lila” on his left forearm, as well as minor bits and pieces of prison ink, but he had no weapon. The WPB decided for him that the tats were necessary to his cover, and the technician-cum-artist who decorated his body assured him that that upon his return, they would come out of his skin after a series of treatments with a special solution. “This is Duke, and this is Betsy,” said Cardinale as they sat down on the office sofa and nodded to him. “Guys, this is Richie from Chicago, our new associate from the home office. He’s here to take point on Belladonna.”
“I know I had to come in clean because of the airline security, but am I supposed to be strapped?” Bob/Richie asked, nodding at the gun riding on the girl’s slim, hard waistline.
“Nothing heavy, unless needed. I’ll give you a .380 junk gun to carry on the street,” said Cardinale. “Since your cover is that you’re a legger, you’ll need a piece for your deliveries, both for show and also in case some jonesing hufflepuff or some other crew tries to jack your freight.”
“Huh?” asked Bob.
“In case some cigarette fiend who doesn’t have the two hundred bucks to light up tries to rob you, or else some other hoods try for both your product and your roll,” translated the girl.
Cardinale went on. “You’ll be servicing our crème de la crème route over in the Green Zone, in order to bring you into contact with the subject, so you shouldn’t run into that problem, but better safe than sorry. Guns are illegal, of course, have been since the Schumer Act all those years ago, but everyone in American cities ignores the law, and the cops have pretty much stopped bothering to enforce it unless they want an excuse to hold you for something else, like they more or less stopped busting people for a couple of joints back when marijuana was still illegal. Usually these days, they just issue a citation and confiscate the piece. Don’t worry too much about the D.C. cops finding it on you during a stop-and-frisk. They would be surprised if one of Vinnie Skins’ crew wasn’t strapped. Most likely they’ll just write you a ticket, confiscate the gun, and then sell it back to me. Unless somebody’s looking for a bigger taste, and then they’ll throw you in the tank and make me come down and spread some lettuce around, but that shouldn’t happen. I have formal arrangements with both D.C. Metro and the Park Police, and I pay a pretty penny for our guys to do business with no hassles in the Green Zone, so they should leave you alone once they come to know you. It won’t be nearly as rough as if you were dealing in Virginia, and we stay out of nigger turf in Maryland altogether, but we do occasionally have some trouble inside the Green Zone with jumpers.”
“Jumpers?” asked Bob/Richie.
“What Betsy said,” explained Duke. “Hijackers. Guys from other crews who jump you and try to rip off your butts, or your steaks, or sausage, or whatever you’re holding.”
Cardinale picked it up. “Like any expanding business in a dynamic market, we’ve got ongoing problems with a couple of other outfits, mostly the Lon Tran Vietnamese mob from Falls Church, but they most likely won’t bother you in the District. They can’t get the proper FLECs for the Green Zone and so they have to sneak in, and usually they don’t go to the effort just to hassle our runners. Getting caught in the ESMA without a Class A FLEC is a mandatory six months in a penal factory, and Lon’s boys won’t risk a hiccup like that unless it’s something important, which jacking a single legger isn’t.”
“Oh, by the way, Rich, here’s your own new alpha FLEC.” Duke took out a plastic ID card and handed it to Bob.
“Hang on to your old one for your trip Home, but use this one while you’re here. You’ll need it for the Green Zone. I stopped by Birdie’s on the way up here and I paid for it.”
“How much?” asked Cardinale, taking out a roll of bills.
“Thirty grand,” said Duke. “He says he has to raise his prices since he had to shell out big for this year’s recognition codes twice, because DHS changed them last month.”
“Jesus Christ! I know Birdie does the best work in town, but dat’s fuckin’ highway robbery,” said Cardinale, lapsing into Vinniespeak. He peeled some $5000 bills off the roll, bearing Jimmy Carter’s picture, and handed the money to Duke, who added it into his own roll of bills.
“What can I tell you?” said Duke with a shrug. “Everything costs at least twice as much as it did this time last year, and that includes ID. Oh, by the way, Rich, when you’re making your pickups and deliveries, be sure you carry your cash in a roll, like this. Only amateurs carry a wallet, and you’re supposed to be a long-time player. Anyway, with the inflation, most people have to carry more money than they can stuff into a wallet anyway.”
“Roll, got it,” said Bob. He looked at the laminated plastic Federal Law Enforcement Confirmed Identity Document, to give it the full nomenclature. FLEC was now the American national ID system, but it was more than that. Your FLEC was your driver’s license, your bank and credit card, and in most cities it was required by law to be the key to your home or apartment. Actual locks were forbidden, in case the police or FBI needed to use their own master cards to get in. The card’s memory chip contained all of a person’s medical records and employment history, as well as their military and criminal record if any, whether or not they were one of the few Americans now favored with a legal gun permit and for what weapons? And of course it was also one’s legally mandated Global Positioning beacon, so that the authorities could physically locate an individual any time of the day or night. To be challenged by police and not be able to produce a FLEC was a class C federal felony, and to be found in possession of a false one like this meant serious time in prison or a privately-run penal factory.
Not that any of it really worked. Probably no law in the United States was more completely disregarded and evaded by its remaining citizens than the Amended Real ID Act. There were simply too many things that Americans wanted to hide, from a bogus resumé to unreported income to an adulterous affair, for them to carry it all around with them in their wallet or purse. Evading the FLEC card and its microchip had become a kind of national sport, and so many people were doing it that despite occasional draconian examples, it was simply impossible to impose credible punishment on all violations. Anyone who surfed the internet could find dozens of ways to disable one’s FLEC card, hack into the chip and alter the data on it, or re-program it to show one location to the GPS satellite while the card and its owner were actually somewhere else. And if they weren’t sufficiently tech-savvy to do it themselves, there were hackers and forgers who specialized in monkeying around with FLECs. Some even advertised in the Yellow Pages.
The bogus card Bob held in his hand showed his name as Richard Carroll, and his birthplace as Chicago, Illinois. His current address, according to the card, was an apartment in Arlington which was in fact occupied by a Malaysian couple and their extended family. Robert’s WPB trainers back on Whidbey Island had discussed his new identity with him, and it was decided to make him Richie Carroll from Chicago, because
Bob had picked up enough stories, bits and pieces of knowledge, and local color about That Toddling Town from his wife and his in-laws to fake it. His photo as Richie twinkled in special pixels for the various electronic scanners and readers the card would be passed through. “This has my whole rap sheet on it?” he asked curiously. “Or Richie’s rap sheet, I should say?”
“Yeah,” said Cardinale. “Eight or ten beefs, petty to middling, couple of B&Es and disorderlies and car thefts back in Chicago in the days of your uproarious youth, the rest of them possession charges. One bust for ten cartons of Rothmans filters, mysteriously dropped down to four to get it below distribution weight, which will build your cred for being mobbed up. One ADW just for panache, when you shot a rival legger who was trying to jack a backpack full of Macanudos off you.”
“Did I kill him?” asked Richie.
“No, just wounded him,” said Cardinale. “We don’t want to make you too violent, or else the FBI or the Metro OCB might think I’ve brought you in for muscle, and we want to keep Vinnie Skins’ crew as low profile and smooth as we can, considering our high-class clientele. Young Richard is also showing one bust for using a fake rabbinical ID claiming you were a Jew in order to buy legal kosher brisket. Then comes your pièce de resistance. You did two years in the federal pen at Allenwood for getting pulled over on the New Jersey turnpike driving a whole truckload of chilled kosher chickens with a false end-user certificate to a licensed Jewish delicatessen in New York, which it’s assumed you meant to sell under the counter to certain mob-controlled chew-easies in New York. You refused to rat out your boss, presumably me, Vinnie Skins, hence my offer of employment here in the nation’s capitol once you got out. All of this will check out if the cops pull you over and run your card. The cyber-whizz kids back at the Office have hacked into all the necessary servers at DOJ and NCIC and the FBI, and you’ll show as up as Richie Carroll.”
“You will,” said Duke. “I had Birdie run you himself on his own private rig before I paid for the card, just to make sure. It’s good.”
“So all of you have these criminal records on your ID cards?” asked Bob. “I know one doesn’t ask real names and real past details, but what’s on you guys’ rap sheets? I mean, we’re supposed to be thick as thieves, literally. I could need it for my cover. Who exactly are you supposed to be?”
“Fair enough,” said Cardinale. “In point of fact I really am Italian, but there the resemblance between me and Vinnie Skins pretty much ends. No one knows my real name or where I’m really from, except I’ll tell you I was born and raised in the Homeland.”
“NVA, judging from your age?” asked Bob daringly.
“Yes,” said Cardinale briefly. “According to my FLEC card. I have a criminal record dating all the way back to the age of fourteen in New Jersey, which is ironic, since New Jersey is one of the few places on the continent I’ve never actually been. Well, a stopover in Newark airport, once. Vinnie Skins is a low-level wiseguy who may or may not be a made member of the Atlantic City Cosa Nostra family, no one’s quite clear on that. Six years ago, when they passed the Healthy America Act, I spotted a cushy market peddling cancer sticks and stogies down here in our indivisible nation’s capitol, and here I have been ever since. I am known to be very well connected and the purveyor of fine smokables and comestibles to some very distinguished clients indeed in Congress, the Pentagon, the judicial branch, and the bureaucracy.”
“Not the White House?” asked Bob.
“Sixteen hundred Pennsylvania is a special case,” said Cardinale. “We can get e-intercepts sometimes, but it’s a very hard nut to crack as far as getting anybody into the West Wing goes. I’ll get into it with you later on.”
“How did you get the name Vinnie Skins?” asked Robert.
“Supposedly I was into hijacking furs in my younger days.”
“I’m a bad boy altogether,” said Duke. “All kinds of crimes of violence, shootings and stabbings and one arson-for-hire thrown in for good measure. I’m supposed to be the muscle in the outfit. Well, I am.” Bob was going to ask Duke if he were ex-NVA as well, but decided not to push it. He was sure he knew the answer in any case.
“Three guesses what I’m supposed to be,” said Betsy with an ironic smile. “Plus a meat mule and leaf lady, of course. Duke and I are Vinnie’s street captains for the Green Zone, and we’ll be the ones over there giving you a hand on a day to day basis.”
“You don’t mind people thinking, uh, that about you?” asked Bob. “Even if it isn’t true?”
Betsy laughed sardonically. “Hot damn, they really are raising a whole generation of prudes back in the Homeland!” she said to Vinnie and Duke.
“Yes, I guess we are at that,” admitted Bob. “When was the last time you were back?”
“Long time,” the girl said casually. “I’m a registered sex trade worker, I got that on my FLEC, and it accounts for my being almost anywhere, anytime, anywhere in the Green Zone. I’ve been stopped in the corridors of Congress at two in the morning and talked my way out of it by flashing my card and my baby blues, or in my case my baby greens.”
“Don’t they ask who you’re there, uh, seeing?” asked Bob curiously.
“Nope,” replied Betsy. “They’re not allowed to ask, under the law. I can’t even be made to tell in court. Courtesan-client privilege.”
“What?” said Bob. All three of them laughed.
“No, really, she’s not shitting you,” said Cardinale. “A few years ago an elderly federal judge here in D.C. died in a working girl’s apartment of a coronary. She and her pimp tried the old Dress-The-Corpse-And-Prop-Him-Up-Behind-The-Wheel-Of-His-Cadillac trick, but they forgot about the security cameras everywhere, they got caught on digital, and there was an unholy stink. All kinds of sound and fury about the girl’s client list on her Blackberry and who got to see it, was it public record, could the judge in the case seal the trial records, journalists offering millions of dollars of bribes all over the place for the list or interviews with the hooker, the whole insane zoo that breaks out whenever anybody in this jaded and corrupt society scents sex and scandal. The power structure and the media are always on the lookout for anything to distract the American people from the sludge pump of their daily lives.” Cardinale shook his head in disgust, then went on.
“Anyway, without keeping you here until midnight, the nine Supremes closed ranks with their errant brother in justice, and after a long dramatic roll of sound and fury, they created something called courtesan-client confidentiality, so prostitutes of both genders—excuse me, ‘sexual services specialists’—cannot now be legally compelled to rat out their clients. It was a popular ruling in D.C., let me tell you. Believe it or not, all this grunge is in fact somewhat relevant to your mission, Rich, because courtesan-client privilege is what Hunter Wallace uses to cover his own activities along that line and prevent any scrutiny of what he actually does to his ladies in the sack, as well as a private personal services contract with a bitch of a confidentiality clause. Wallace always pays his women for their personal services, which is the accepted legal euphemism, and that keeps his ass covered in every sense of the term.”
Bob was about to ask Betsy just how far she went using her peculiar cover in order to get the job done, then realized it was none of his business. Instead he asked, “You said you were having trouble with other meat and tobacco dealers?”
“Yeah, those gooks in Falls Church,” said Duke. “About six months ago, they jacked a truckload of spare ribs from us in McLean and killed the driver, but we lit up one of their warehouses, killed the two guards on duty and cleaned them out of a thousand pounds of beef and pork, as well as a hundred cases of Gauloises and knockoff Chinese Camels and Marlboros. The Greater Capitol Area Crime Commission stepped in and negotiated a truce, at their usual exorbitant fee, but it’s held for the time being. We hit back hard enough to maintain our own street cred and send the message we won’t be fucked with, but in view of our actual purpose here, we had to cool it down.”
“We ended up having to pay the gooks a couple of million in compensation, and I pitched a real bitch about it, ranted and raved and cursed like a good wiseguy should, but we need this front and we don’t want a real gang war developing,” explained Cardinale. “Bad for business. Both our businesses.”
Campbell looked down through the windows at the men unloading cases of bootleg cigarettes from trucks, including several obvious mestizos. “How many of those guys are with the Office?” he asked.
“None of them,” said Cardinale. “Those are all real criminals. You run into any of them here or on the street, you say hello and act cool, but don’t get chummy or hang with any of them. Vinnie Skins runs a protected operation, but that doesn’t mean we’re not under intermittent surveillance by assorted law enforcement teams with nothing better to do. This station has a number of Office operatives, but you will only know a few of them as your mission dictates. As few as possible. If you get lifted you can’t betray what you don’t know. I wouldn’t be showing you this place if it wasn’t part of your cover and you wouldn’t be expected to know about it, as do the cops and feds, of course. You will mostly deal with me directly, but if I’m not available you deal with Duke or Betsy, who have been briefed on the reason for your presence here. They’re your backup in anything that might get wet, or where you just need a hand with something. You will also meet a man we call the Zombie Master. He’s a proper psychiatrist and psychologist, and he needs to know all about the subject and your interaction with her, to make sure she’s functioning and she isn’t going off the rails under pressure.”
“That’s assuming we can activate her and get her placed,” said Bob.
“That’s why you’re here,” said Cardinale with a wintry smile.
“I’m still not sure I get this whole idea of posing as tobacco and meat smugglers,” said Robert. “I mean, shouldn’t you be trying to avoid undue attention from the police?”
“We need some excuse to move around the streets unfettered and go into neighborhoods where we couldn’t otherwise be,” said Duke. “By its very nature, our real work is covert and it involves suspicious behavior on our part, and that’s hard to conceal in the Green Zone, with spy cameras monitoring every square meter of sidewalk. What better disguise than as buttleggers and beefleggers? What better reason to appear on camera seeming furtive and trying to dodge the surveillance than the fact that we really are engaging in illegal activity, except the DHS in their all-seeing wisdom thinks they know us, that they know what illegal activity we’re engaging in, and it’s one which is more or less socially acceptable. In the 1920s during Prohibition, it was bootleggers. For fifty years it was drug dealers, until they legalized most drugs.”
“Now it’s pork chops and ciggies,” said Betsy. “These shitheads always have to be outlawing something, so they can have big police agencies with big budgets to chase after it and lock a lot of people up in their prisons to be farmed out to the corporations as cheap slave labor. When Mexicans won’t do, use convicts. Been that way in America for over a century now.”
“When they see us on their cameras here, there, and everywhere, in some government office building or at some soirée in Georgetown, the ZOG snoops pigeonhole us as leggers slipping some high functionary a few T-Bones or Cohibas, and they move on,” said Duke. “Same with Betsy here. They track her on the cameras all the time, but they figure she’s just working, and if she makes house calls in a government office building or shows up at certain parties, she’s just being enterprising. This is Washington D.C., one of the few remaining places in the Western world where power and money are concentrated in serious amounts. Powerful and wealthy people have needs, and someone’s going to supply them, legal or not.”
Cardinale chuckled. “It’s a basic rule of conspiracy: when you’re suspected of something, try and make the evidence point to a lesser offense. Human nature being what it is, you have more chance of being believed.”
“The problem is that everything in the Green Zone attracts attention,” said Duke. “It’s designed that way, not even so much to stop wicked spies and terrorists like us, but just to keep the damned niggers from Maryland out and keep them from fucking everything up and making the place unlivable, as niggers always do. The Green Zone and some of the D.C. suburbs are small, very wealthy, very white and Jewish enclaves in a black and brown sea, but these are the people who keep what’s left of the United States government functioning, the civil servants and policy wonks and legislators and the whole range of business, technical and service personnel needed to sustain them. The team of surgeons who keep the patient alive, so to speak. The establishment needs them. If this privileged and empowered élite is to keep on doing its job, it requires twenty-four-seven security monitoring to keep the dedicated servants of the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave from getting butchered and served up in a cannibal feast, and I mean that literally. That shit was going on last year up in Silver Spring.”
“Welcome to Hunter Wallace’s magical Surveillance State,” said Cardinale. “The District of Columbia, the Green Zone as everybody calls it, is in fact officially known as the ESMA, the Enhanced Security Monitoring Area. Back around the turn of the century, Congress and all the senior bureaucrats got tired of the long commute, sometimes from as far away as Baltimore and Fredericksburg. They wanted to live within a short walk or ride to where they worked and their gyms and favorite watering holes and their mistresses’ apartments. Trouble was, other than a few areas like Georgetown and DuPont Circle, the District was a dangerous and crime-ridden black jungle unfit for human habitation. Back in the Nineties, the D.C. drug and street gangs were so savage they even scared off MS-Thirteen and the Triads. Then Clinton the First came in and they came up with the long-term gentrification project, the idea of which was quietly to run the niggers out of D.C. and whiten the place up. Needless to say, never was so much as a whisper of the true agenda allowed to seep into the public media, although everybody and his dog knew damned well what it was all about.”
“That’s the way the United States has operated for a century,” commented Robert. “When necessary, things may be done for racial reasons, but never under any circumstances must anyone ever admit what’s happening. Officially, race doesn’t exist.”
Duke took up the story. “Long story short, over a period of several decades they more or less traded the niggers Maryland in exchange for the District. Back in the Nineteen Seventies, Prince George’s County and Bethesda and Silver Spring were the poshest and whitest of the D.C. suburbs. Now they’re black-ruled, and they’re the worst slums in the country. You’ve got extended families of fifty or sixty niggers living in former suburban mansions, more if the mansion has been cut up into apartments. The sewers and the electricity no longer work half the time, and I won’t even try to describe how the area smells.”
“You think that’s bad, try Baltimore,” commented Betsy. “Some UN commission reported that the quality of life in Baltimore is now statistically equivalent to Sierra Leone.”
“That’s right, you had to go up there last year, didn’t you?” responded Duke sympathetically.
“Yeah.” Betsy shuddered at the memory.
“When Hunter Wallace got into the Oval Office he knew that in order to get done what he needed to get done, he had to keep the ruling class happy and safe,” said Vince Cardinale. “Diversity and multiculturalism are all well and good in theory, but in the real world people can’t do their best work for ZOG if they’re constantly worried about getting mugged, burglarized, raped and murdered by beasts of the field. Once again without any public acknowledgement that something racial was going on, at Wallace’s direction the government fortified the District of Columbia, making it the country’s largest gated community, which is another old-fashioned circumlocution for lily-white safe area. It’s a common phenomenon. What’s left of the United States of America now consists of a whole series of Green Zones in major cities—I think the largest ESMA geographically is in Houston’s American Zone, where all the Zionist Bible-thumpers are headquartered. The D.C. ESMA is surrounded by a fourteen-foot corrugated steel wall, topped with razor wire and electrified alarms.”
“Entry into the District is only through checkpoints,” Duke told him. “If you don’t have the right card, you have to state your business at the checkpoint, convince the cop on duty it’s legit, and the issue you a day pass. If you don’t check out into Virginia or Maryland by seven p.m., then the cops come looking for you, guided by the GPS on your FLEC card, and you’re in trouble.”
Bob remarked, “I remember reading in our North American history class in school that there used to be an expression in the old South and in South Africa, ‘white by night.’ It was a safety measure. The kind of thing I don’t suppose American students are ever taught these days.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard of that,” said Duke. “That’s what the District of Columbia is now, white by night, and what all the Green Zones are, although there are a fair number of techie and bureaucratic Asians who have Class A FLECs and Green Zone resident permits as well. The régime considers certain skilled or connected gooks to be honorary whites.”
“You need to know all this, Richie, because moving and operating in the Green Zone like you’ll be required to do is like living in an aquarium,” Cardinale told him. “You’re always on view, and virtually every move you make is watched and recorded. Even in public restroom facilities, because the secret police know that people tend to nip into the john for privacy to do things they shouldn’t. That’s another thing they will never admit, not even by a whisper, but be careful any time you have to go to the can over there. There is no place more certain to be monitored all the time. It took us a lot of doing to get that alpha card for you, and the money we paid Birdie just to make it was the least of it. We had to get an allocated code to program into the chip before we could hack and re-program the code in the server under your name. There are a limited number of those, and getting a new code issued from scratch requires too much background work on too short a notice. So we had to use someone else’s code, and make sure that person never tries to cross into the Green Zone while you’re there, or else all kinds of bells and whistles would be set off.”
“You mean a man died in order to get this card for me?” asked Bob, turning it over in his hands.
“Yes,” said Cardinale.
“Don’t worry about him,” said Betsy casually. “He was an asshole.” Bob glanced at her and put that remark away into the ever-expanding I-Don’t-Want-To-Know file in his mind.
Cardinale continued. “Inside the District there are closed-circuit security cameras on every street, every corner, every parking lot, inside every bar and restaurant and store, in every public place and a lot of private ones that the DHS has been able to find legal excuses to invade, including rest rooms as I just mentioned. In some cases they actually have cameras in people’s private homes, either at their own request or by court order.”
“DHS?” asked Bob.
“Department of Homeland Security,” said Betsy.
“Yeah, that’s a bureaucracy Bush Two created after 9/11,” said Cardinale. “They were always kind of a third leg among the old Amurrican secret police agencies. Nobody quite knew what they were for, until they finally found their niche, which is spying on every single American as far as they can, and for as much of the time as they can. It started back in 2010 when one of their subsidiary agencies came up with the first naked body scanners at the airports, and once the American people swallowed that with only a bit of grumbling, the Surveillance State was born. DHS has over a million employees involved in watching and accumulating files and video footage on their fellow citizens. And you can’t always see the cameras, either. A lot of the time they have micro-fiber optic gear in place. And they can also hear every word that you even whisper on a crowded street with their directional audio recording; 1984 has now come true in Hunter Wallace’s Amurrica.”
“I still have difficulty believing that the Americans allowed the liberal régime to outlaw meat and tobacco,” said Bob. “I mean, why? Okay, smoking is bad for your health if you do it too much, but still, tobacco has been part of the Western world for five hundred years now. And meat?”
“Meat is murder,” recited Betsy by rote. “Meat is cruelty to animals. We have to stop raising grain to feed beef cattle because it destroys the rain forest. Cow farts cause global warming. McDonald’s and Burger King were satanic capitalist conspiracies to make American kids fat. Red meat makes white males aggressive. Well, according to them.”
“Maybe that’s how the NVA won,” remarked Bob, bemused.
“Mmmm, I know the School of Intelligence gave you only a crash course on Whidbey, so I doubt they had much time to clue you in on the whole present political and social sitch here in the States,” said Cardinale. “How much do you know about what happened in this country after Longview?”
“Just what I learned in school and what I see in the papers back home, or from watching The World As It Is on TV.”
“Yeah, great series, that,” said Duke. “I saw it last time I was Home. It will get you ten years for hatecrime here if you’re caught with a copy.”
“Some of the other mobs have a good sideline in bootleg discs of Northwest programs, and The World As It Is is one of the most popular,” said Cardinale. “We can’t do that, because it’s a lot more dangerous than butts or beef. In the eyes of the American law it’s not just hatecrime, it’s Unauthorized Contact, which is a National Security Felony and carries up to life in prison, so we don’t dare take the risk. It would draw too much heat. I know the Ministry of Culture inserts untold terabytes of propaganda into the American internet and media networks every year, but most of it’s done safely from the Homeland. Anyway, to make a long story as short as possible, after she survived impeachment by handing over the Southwest to the beaners and committing America’s full remaining military strength to the defense of Israel, Chelsea served out her term as a complete lame duck and the world went to hell in a handbasket all around her. That’s probably all to the good, in the sense that it kept the Americans distracted during the formative years of the Republic’s existence.”
“I remember those years in Montana,” said Bob soberly. “We were struggling. No way we could have met a full-scale assault back then.”
“How about now?” asked Duke bluntly.
“You’ve been fully briefed?” asked Bob.
“Actually, we’re the ones who have been briefing Olympia on the situation,” said Cardinale dryly. “Us and the CMI guys here in La Cesspool Grande, whoever and wherever they are, God bless ‘em.” Bob understood the concept of compartmentalization and he got that Cardinale did not know and could not contact the CMI station in Washington. No one can betray what they don’t know.
“Oh, yes sir, of course.” Bob looked at Duke. “Now? I think we’ll win, but we need to stop it here. We need to stop it here bad.”
Cardinale sighed. “Which we’ll get into in a bit, but let me go on with my little historical lecture, because if you’re going to be a good spy you need to have a full understanding of the politics of the situation. Israel went down a couple of years later, not with a bang but with a whimper. Instead of using their nuclear arsenal at Dimona to blow away half the Muslim world in a real Holocaust, Israel sold their nukes off to various countries, especially Canada and the U.S.A., for the purpose of buying refugee status and legal visas for their Jewish population. In other words, when it came down to the rubber meeting the road, for all their brag and bluster about the Masada Option, the Jews turned and ran instead.”
“Big surprise,” grunted Betsy.
“Then along comes Hunter Wallace and his One Nation Indivisible,” Cardinale went on. “We’re still not sure how much of the ONI concept was Wallace’s and how much of it came from the think tanks and the various Jewish handlers who already had their hooks into the young Congressman from Alabama from back in his blogging days, but it was well thought out and well planned. America needed help, bad. It was obvious that the old two-party system was on its last legs, that it had failed miserably as successive administrations had made bad call after bad call for decades. They’d just lost a quarter of the country to us and the Aztlan beaners, Israel was gone and the economy was crashing, and the perceived wisdom was that if Amurrica followed the usual pattern of declining empires, it was time for a man on a white horse.”
“Yes, we got that in senior class political science in high school,” said Bob. “Usually that means some general marching into the corrupt halls of power, the legislature or the executive palace, and taking over by force. Sometimes he sticks some heads on pikes, sometimes he sticks a lot of heads on pikes, and sometimes not. This phase is usually followed by a few wars of conquest which fizzle out and leave the country in worse shape than before. Napoleon springs to mind. Then more instability, and depending on how the economy goes, either total collapse or some very anemic state much reduced in size and scope and power. But that didn’t happen in the U.S.A. At least not exactly like that.”
“Yes, the situation was a bit unique,” agreed Cardinale. “In Amurrica’s case they’d already tried and failed at the wars of conquest, so it looked like total collapse and the geopolitical breakup of the North American continent into about ten small nations was on the cards.”
“Then along comes the Doughboy,” said Duke.
“What?” asked Bob.
“One of the nicknames for our illustrious Commander in Chief and Leader of the Free World,” said Cardinale. “Don’t use it in public, though. Five years for Giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy, meaning us. It comes from some old television advertisement, but nobody can remember what it meant originally.”
“He looks like he’s made of dough,” said Betsy.
Cardinale continued. “Anyway, what either Wallace or the Jews running him, or both, managed to pull off was a kind of controlled man on a white horse scenario that preserved the outward form of the United States. Then through a deliberate retrenchment, they managed to stabilize the remaining U.S.A. into a pale shadow of its former self, but a functioning one nonetheless. That retrenchment is what makes the whole ONI thing so amazing. What Wallace did was he managed to remove ideology from American politics altogether, by creating a moral and ideological tent so big that it has something for everybody. Ever hear the old expression about creating a desert and calling it peace? Hunter Wallace created a cesspool and called it a national consensus. All the special interest groups that comprised the Gorgeous Mosaic were, and are, willing to put up with some really outrageous crap being forced on them, in order to get their own outrageous crap forced on other people. It’s like Wallace took the very worst from both right and left and made it the law of the land.”
“He was able to get the politicians and pressure groups to go for some weird trade-offs, all right,” said Duke with a nod. “Like legalizing prostitution and marijuana, and banning tobacco and meat except for Jews, who of course due to their unique heritage and thousands of years of suffering blah blah blah are exempt from the rules the rest of us have to follow. Well, they always were, but ONI is the first time that’s ever been formally acknowledged. In exchange for giving the loonie lefty-libs all of the above, Wallace gave the neocons and the 700 Club tub-thumpers their doggie bones as well. He banned abortion, tacitly acknowledging that if the United States wants to survive, they’d better stop slaughtering millions of future taxpayers at birth. He banned the teaching of evolution, and so now American kids who want to get real science degrees have to go to Canada or Europe to take certain courses, which are then quietly accredited to the student back at his American university. That way the hoot-and-holler crowd is placated without stripping America of doctors and biologists. Wallace also allowed prayer back in the schools, and a nationwide ban on alcohol and marijuana sales on Sundays, not to mention giving shelter and automatic citizenship to three million Jews when Israel became Palestine again, so both the kikes and the tub-thumpers love him to death and can’t do enough for him on election day.”
“The current president had a unique perspective on America that no else ever had, or if they did they never acted on it,” said Cardinale. “Hunter Wallace realized that a lot of the so-called social issues under the old order had to do not so much with people wanting to do things that were forbidden, but with forcing other people whom they didn’t like to do things they didn’t believe in or want to do. If you can give Americans that triumphalist feeling that they’re controlling the way other people live, they will adore you for it.”
“America isn’t about freedom, it’s about fun,” said Betsy. “The fun of always winning and rubbing other people’s noses in the dirt.”
“The Germans call it Schadenfreude,” said Cardinale. “I think that’s the reason why the old conservative American élite can never forgive the Northwest Republic—because we won, and Amurrica never had to deal with just plain defeat where you count your dead, get over it, and move on. Europe could have taught them a lot about that, if they’d ever had a mind to listen. But there was a good deal of method in the madness. Wallace pulled the remaining American military forces out of most of the rest of the world, and he abolished the draft, and that alone saved enough money to keep the economy from tanking. He has re-professionalized the American military to a great degree, not to mention whitening it up through strictly enforced educational and legal requirements for enlistment, so forth and so on. The days of drafting street gangs en masse into the army and FATPO are more or less over, until now, anyway, when they seem to have revived that kind of recruitment policy for this Operation Chain Link thing they’re running down at Fort Bragg. I think we know what kind of muscle they want occupying the Northwest. But the American military itself is actually in the best shape it’s been in for decades. Wallace never made any bones about the fact that the new improved American military is to be used to re-conquer the Northwest Republic and re-unite the country from Sea to Shining Sea, as he puts it.”
“How about re-conquering Aztlan?” asked Bob.
“Ah, but he has a legal fig leaf for not doing that,” Cardinale reminded him. “Technically speaking, Aztlan is still part of the United States, remember. They are a territory like Puerto Rico used to be before it became a state. They still send two Senators each to Washington from California, Nevada, Arizona, Nuevo Mexico and Texas Españoles. It doesn’t have to be re-conquered, and also that means that no one can complain about all the beaners here in the rest of the country, because technically speaking they’re all Americans now.”
“Okay, I suppose we’d better move on to why I’m here now,” said Bob with a sigh. “Operation Belladonna. Who chose that name, by the way? Belladonna is a poisonous plant.”
“I chose it,” said Cardinale. “In Italian it also means beautiful lady. You’ll see why when you meet her. But you’re supposed to remember her from before she became a Lost Baby, right?”
“I last saw her when she was ten years old,” explained Bob. “I was fourteen when the war ended. She had a crush on me, which I treated with the usual adolescent silliness and rudeness, and I’ll always regret that, because we never got old enough together to sort it out. Yeah, Peanut was a cute kid, a sweet kid, and she actually helped hide my NVA sister after that slaughterhouse in Helena. She thought it was all a big game, of course, but she kept her lip zipped about it until after Longview. She’s got brains and guts and circumspection, or at least she did at age ten. But at Whidbey I was also given the file you guys accumulated on her once she popped up on your radar, and I understand that she’s pretty messed up now. I guess forcible separation from her family and twelve years growing up as a pampered rich kid in a lefty-lib household full of money and drugs and bullshit will do that to a girl. She has a baby of her own now, you say?”
“A toddler,” said Cardinale. “A daughter, Allura, aged eighteen months. The father is some trust fund weenie from New York she met at Brown University, who now seems to be out of the picture. We checked him out, and he’s a dweeb interested in nothing but spending daddy’s money on fast cars and heavy dope. He’s never even seen the child, and she is legally Allura Halberstam. Interestingly, her official legal guardians are Marvin and Amber Halberstam.”
“What kind of man doesn’t want his name to go on in his children?” wondered Bob, shaking his head.
“Very few American white males of that age are men,” said Betsy.
“One of the hooks the Office recommends I use is to promise to get both Georgia and the child Home if she co-operates,” said Bob. “If she doesn’t even care enough to maintain legal custody of her daughter, I’m not sure that will work.”
“That’s why you’re here. You need to make contact with her in the guise of an old friend to go over old times and deliver those messages from her father and her brother you brought with you. You’ll have to evaluate her as a person and as a potential intelligence asset, and if we think there is even a chance she might go for it, you have to lay our proposal on her.”
“’Hey, Peanut, will you do us favor? Fuck a perverted president for your country, a country you haven’t seen since you were a child and probably don’t remember much?’” sighed Bob. “No need to look concerned, sir. I know this has to be done and I’m the guy best suited to do it. I wasn’t allowed to bring anything personal Out Here, but if I could, I’d show you a picture of my wife and my two children back in Missoula. Georgia’s my past, and they’re my future. Don’t worry, I’m up for this.”
“Glad to hear it,” said Cardinale dryly.
Betsy spoke up sympathetically. “Since we’re talking nasty details, I suppose you need to know there will be very little actual … well, Hunter Wallace’s proclivities aren’t normal. They can’t be. He’s not medically capable of it, not for any sustained period.”
“Yeah, I know, hypo-gonadism. They told me all that at Whidbey. He has to …” Bob waved his hand in the air vaguely.
“Substitute,” Betsy completed for him. “I know. I run with a lot of other licensed girls from the high end agencies. I have to. They’re a mine of information the Office has to tap, and I’ve heard things. If she goes for it, you need to do your best to make her understand what she’ll be getting into so she’ll be prepared and she won’t freak.”
Bob stared. “How the hell am I supposed to tell her … I mean Jesus, sir, men and women who aren’t involved with one another don’t even talk about things like that back home, not even the normal stuff! Not like here, where the weirdest and filthiest crap I’ve ever seen is on every front page and every screen!”
“You probably shouldn’t try to talk to her about it,” said Cardinale. “Let Bets do that. We run our assets in pairs, which is a little dangerous if it goes bad, but much more effective in the long run. It helps for an asset to know there’s more than one of us and if one handler has to disappear quick, a new one doesn’t have to start cold and re-build the trust relationship from scratch. Plus a female asset can often relate better to a female handler. You’ll need a backup handler for this girl if anything happens to you, and there may be times when she needs some tag-teaming to keep her steady and keep her on point. You may have to play good cop-bad cop, or good spy-bad spy. Betsy will be your backup, and later on you’ll have the Zombie Master as well. I’ll tell you about him in a bit. Belladonna won’t ever see me or Duke. We’ll get you inside with her first to scope her out, get a read on her state of mind, and then when it looks safe we’ll bring in Betsy. She’ll handle all the down-low girl-talk stuff with Georgia.”
“That’s if we get that far at all,” said Bob. “You know there’s a chance Georgia may have gone totally bad? Maybe she’s in love with a nigger. She may be perfectly happy with her life, such as it seems to be. She may not want to see me at all. She may not want to Come Home, ever. She may not want to be reminded of what she left behind. Or she may just plain freak out as soon as she realizes who I am and why I’m here. She may pick up the phone and call the FBI.”
“That’s a possibility,” agreed Cardinale. “We’ll have contingency plans to E&E you if it looks like you’re in danger, but I grant you, the risk is not small. But we don’t think she’s totally lost. For one thing, she kept the baby, even though she didn’t have to. ONI may have outlawed abortion, but people on the Halberstams’ socio-economic level in this society can get around that easily. Hell, anybody can, for the price of an air ticket to Toronto or London. Plus she could have picked up a pretty penny by selling the kid on the adoption market. It Takes A Village is still around, and white infants go for top dollar. She didn’t do that.”
“For another thing, we did a sneak-and-peak in her apartment in Georgetown when she was spending the weekend with her family in the Hamptons,” said Duke. “Had to arrange a localized outage on the security cams to do it, but we had about half an hour inside. She’s not dumb enough to look at NAR stuff on her computer—almost nobody is, since the FBI and DHS don’t bother to conceal the fact that they do random searches on millions of people every year, and anybody caught with anything originating in the Republic gets five years and mandatory Attitude Modification.”
“Chemicals combined with electroshock to purge your mind of wicked racist thoughts,” put in Betsy.
“But she does have a secret stash of old coffee-table books hidden in one of her closets,” Duke went on. “She must have done the rounds of every old bookshop in the District and New York to find some of these books. All of them full of big full-page color photographs of the Northwest, Washington and Oregon and Idaho, but especially Montana. The pages with pictures of Missoula on them are all loose and well worn, and most of them have some odd stains on them.”
“Tears,” said Betsy.
“You’re sure?” asked Bob. The thought of Georgia taking out her forbidden books and weeping over pictures of Montana in the night filled him with sadness.
“I’m sure,” said Betsy.
“She remembers, Richie,” said Cardinale. “She remembers enough, anyway. You’re going to have to make her remember more, make her willing to do anything to break away from the luxurious toilet she’s spent the past twelve years in and go back to where she and her daughter belong.”
“And we will do that?” demanded Bob.
“You’re damned straight we will,” said Cardinale, and Bob knew he spoke the truth.
“Always with the proviso that death and history don’t intervene, and there’s never any guarantee against that. I can’t say when or how, and I’m not going to lie to you, this is a damned dangerous thing we’re doing. You and she both might get hurt, bad. But if she does this for us, the very minute we believe she is in any danger, then we’ll find a way to extract her and you can take her and the child back to the Homeland."
“Presuming the Homeland isn’t in the middle of a war,” said Duke glumly.
“If that’s the case then I’ll find someplace safe for Georgia and the baby, and then I’m going back,” said Bob. “Everyone I have is in Missoula, and if I can’t help them from here then I’m going home and reporting to my reserve unit, or whoever’s still fighting.”
“Understood,” said Cardinale. “We know you’re not full time Office, you’re just here on this one project, and if that’s the way it plays out, we’ll help. Duke, suppose you run him over to the District now? Best use the Key Bridge this time of day, and let’s make damned sure that FLEC card of his works. Once you’re there, show him around and start getting him oriented. Park someplace and take him for a ride on the buses and trains. Most of what you’ll be doing over there you can do on foot, and if you end up having to do the Resurrection Shuffle in the Green Zone, boxed in like you are you don’t need to be hampered by a car.” Bob thrilled at hearing the old NVA term for going on the run. “We disable the GPS in all of ours, but still, in an enclosed space like that a lone man can move and hide better on foot than a vehicle on the street, if they’re looking for you.”
Suddenly the phone on Cardinale’s desk rang. He picked it up and opened it. “Yeah?” He listened for a bit. “Okay, got it” he said, closing the phone. “Crap!”
“What is it, boss?” asked Duke.
“Our girl just called in,” said Cardinale. “Her usual order, two cartons of Player’s and one carton of Belmont filters. She likes Canadian cigarettes for some reason. I wanted to give you a couple of days to get your bearings before initiating contact, Rich, but sounds like destiny is playing your song. You up for it now?”
“Let’s go,” said Bob.
An hour later Richie the buttlegger from Mayor Daley’s old neighborhood rang the doorbell of a refined semi-detached brownstone in the suburb of Georgetown, ironically located in the northwest quadrant of the District of Columbia. The intercom buzzed. “Who is it?” came a young woman’s voice.
Bob leaned down to the speaker. “My name’s Richie. I just came over from Arlington, and I got the botanical material you wanted.” He was acutely conscious of the small white camera on a pole across the street, panning slowly back and forth, a small red light flashing. The damned things were everywhere, all right, and he was doing an illegal drug deal right in front of one.
“What’s the password?” the woman inside giggled.
Bob rolled his eyes, but he had been briefed. “Joe sent me.”
Several locks on the door rattled, and Georgia opened it. Bob remembered a pretty little child; what he now saw before him was a sorceress, a temptress of light, a vision in jeans and a pale blue cotton work shirt. Her skin was white as porcelain, her long yellow hair so light as almost to be white, her eyes the clear blue of the evening sky yet ringed like Millie’s, with a darker blue that made them piercing. She had the face of a Botticelli angel, a body slim and soft and from what he could tell beneath the cloth and denim, perfect in form. He understood why the boss had named this operation Belladonna. He could have been looking at Dante’s Beatrice, if Beatrice had been in the custom of receiving callers with a smoldering marijuana joint dangling from her lips.
“You’re new,” she drawled, with another giggle. Her eyes were glittering and her pupils dilated.
“Yeah, just blew in from the Windy City. Here’s your stuff,” Bob said, handing her a paper sack from the gym bag he carried.
“Three grand, right?” she said, handing him a wad of bills. He stuffed the money in his back pocket, so the camera could see it.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” Bob asked her.
“Mmmm, now that you mention it …” She looked at his face, trying to focus. “You brought the steaks and real Texas chili for Congressman Ortega’s barbecue last weekend?”
“No,” he said. “You did a favor for my sister once, long ago. You and Kevin hid her from some unsavory characters in your father’s garage. Hi, Peanut.”
She stared at him, startled, and then all of a sudden she screamed “Bobby!” and threw her arms around him, crushing him and burning his neck with the joint, which she had forgotten to take out of her mouth.
God, she’s beautiful! was Robert’s first thought, and God, she’s stoned! was his second.