Friday, November 25, 2011


Just off one of the major highways in the state, on good lakefront property, there stood a bar—The Longhouse—known only to two groups of people: outlaws and lawmen. The bar catered to the outlaw biker world, yet eschewed any affiliations; the owner—a foreigner named Guiscard, said to be an Algerian ex-French Legionnaire—is a true businessman. He took any outlaw’s money so long as the fights stayed outside. This created a few things, now well-known amongst that underworld: outlaws could meet there, and drink, more-or-less in peace and that meant that clubs could do business; the law could reliably stake the place out to find out what’s going on around the county- or even further afield; and others seeking outlaws for whatever reason could reliably make contact there- if they had courage or cunning enough to do so.

Being a bar for bikers, a clubhouse away from one’s clubhouse, outlaw bikers from many clubs stop here to drink—and enjoy themselves, as it were—on a regular basis. Clubs, especially outlaw clubs, are not one big happy family of bikers. There are rivalries, feuds and other levels of conflict between (and within) clubs- but at this bar, it’s all outside or else. Inside, the rules are to keep it as cool as the beer. This is advantageous to the owner, because it keeps profits up and costs down.

It is also advantageous to lawmen, because they usually don’t have to do much but pick up a drunk or two outside and then step in for a brief talking-to before taking their man away for a night in jail to sober up. (This usually leads to a transfer to the county jail for outstanding warrants the next day, but that’s another story.) More ambitious or creative lawmen assume passable personae and become regulars themselves, using the place as a front for intelligence gathering. This was the Sheriff’s idea.

Ken didn’t need any persona. Ken just rode up to the Longhouse, knowing that the Sheriff and the other men would be listening from a close distance, watching over the place with a team ready to go if things went bad. He parked his bike next to a row of your usual Harleys and Indians, road hogs all the way, and walked in without so much as a thought. It was around sunset, soon to be dark outside, and all sorts of action went on in the Longhouse’s common room: drinking, dancing (badly), gambling (poker), chatting up the girls (or worse) and lots of talking.

If not for the jukebox, there would’ve been no sound at all once everyone recognized Ken. Ken, for his part, eyed them all and then just took a stool at the end of the bar—back to the wall—and then got himself a beer. Folks went back to their carousing, slowly, but the tension didn’t release and one of the girls waived to the bartender. He went into the backroom, and a few moments later he returned with Guiscard behind him.

Ken looked up at the foreigner as the man approached. “You’re stocking better beer now.”

Guiscard stared at Ken. “You’ve got balls coming back here.” he said, “I ought to toss you out now, after how you trashed the place last time.”

Ken took a long pull on his bottle. “You won’t. You know why, and so do I.”

The foreigner sighed. “Right. My office, now.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011


The phone rang. Gerald picked it up, and then passed it to Reginald, who merely affirmed whatever was said before hanging up.

“Sherrif?” Ken said

“Yes.” Reginald said, “He just arrived and will be joining us shortly.”

While Gerald moved the guns to one side, Ken kept looking through the longarms. Old rifles, new rifles, common ones and a few rare ones all passed through his hands before the Sheriff entered the office. He took the last open chair and sat down.

“Sheriff,” Ken said as he set aside an old trench gun, “I appreciate that you want me to help. I appreciate that you’re in some serious shit, and that you’re working with Reggie and Jerry here to see that your men are properly armed and supplied. I assume that you’re training them also.”

The Sheriff nodded.

“So, since you’re involving civilians in this matter, and yet I see no evidence of deputization, I’m inclined to think that you’re not planning on arresting these guys.”

The Sheriff chuckled. “I’ve quietly put the word out to the right people, and we three formed a county militia once it became clear what the Feds and even the State was—or, rather, wasn’t—going to do about us. My men and I are the core of it, and a lot of the others are the firemen, paramedics and so on that we count on to keep accidents from becoming disasters. Mr. Haroldson organized several businesses into lending support, but he’s been the only one to be less-than-quiet about it.”

Ken looked over at Reginald.

“Have you now?”

“Indeed, Ken.” Reginald said, smiling, “Rams work best in groups."

"This county is popular with military veterans and outdoorsmen.” Gerald said, “We have a lot of households with three or more generations of military service, and a lot of people who like to be secure in their backpacking, hunting, fishing and so on. That’s why we’ve done as well as we have, and we may not look it but we’re quite willing and able to use the new tools to make things work better.”

“Yeah,” Ken said, “I remember. Reggie, you still own the county’s biggest ISP right?”

“And all of the cellphone towers.”

“Long story short-“ The Sheriff said, but got cutoff.

“Too late.” Ken said.

“We know that they’re coming to carve up our county and make it into a way-stop on the Zetas chain of dope-running from Mexico to Canada, and we know that the Feds are letting them come so that we and they get taken out.”

“So, we should expect Federal intervention?”

The Sheriff nodded. “More than that, my boy; we should expect Federal manipulation.”

Ken picked up the old trench gun and pointed that solid shotgun to the ceiling. He loaded some dummy shells into it, and then worked the pump to check the action. Pleased, he looked over at that old Sheriff.

“So, it’s war then? Fine by me.”

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Reginald took Ken with him to the gun store and range that he owned, a place called “North Star Arms.” The two of them walked through the clean, well-lit and spacious retail floor and the handful of clean, well-dressed sales associates dealing with customers there to the manager’s officer in the back. In that room, behind the desk, sat the man Reginald employed to manage his business, an old friend from Reginald’s military days by the name of Gerald Johnson. Gerald has a duffle bag on the desk and a hockey bag on the floor before it. Both of them were open, and both of them were full of guns.

Reginald closed the door, and Ken peered into the bags. He smiled.

“Gerald, you remember Ken.” Reginald said, and Gerald came out to shake Ken’s hand.

“I do.” Gerald said, “I’m glad to meet you Ken. Reginald told me plenty about you.”

Ken chuckled, and then Reginald said “Gerald, what have we to offer our friend?”

“Oh, I think Ken can figure that out for himself.” Gerald said, and Ken began pouring over the contents. The smaller of the two bags contained a vast array of revolvers and pistols, along with a few smaller submachine guns and short-barreled shotguns. Ken grabbed handgun after handgun, racking the slides and checking the cylinders, looking down the barrels and shining lights down them to check the bores, marking the features and deciding upon which ones to take and which to reject.

“This is quite a spread, Reggie.” Ken said, “What are you selling to the sheriff?”

“Smith and Wesson, M&P, chambered in 9mm Luger.” Gerald pointed out the Smith & Wesson M&P9, and Ken picked it up again.

“What are the Zetas and their boys usually carrying?”

“Most of their handguns are in 9mm, followed by .40 Smith & Wesson, with a few using handguns in .45 ACP.”

Ken set aside a Glock 17, a Kel-Tec P11 and a Ruger LC9. Reginald and Gerald got Ken’s thinking; a full-sized service pistol, followed by a pair of easily-concealed backups in the same 9mm caliber.

“Do we have any intelligence on their movements?”

“According to my sources,” Reginald said, “the Zetas have some issues going on in Mexico right now that take up much of their time and attention. Problems north of the border are on the backburner until their backyard is secure.”

“That don’t mean that we’re ignored.” Gerald said, “The sheriff, Reginald and I think that these gangs that the Zetas brought into their syndicate are how they intend to deal with us.”

Ken nodded. He set aside a short-barreled Mossberg pump-action shotgun and then a Kel-Tec Sub 2000.  Then reached into the hockey bag.

“Bikers, I assume, and not just the guys we dealt with before?” Ken said as he pulled out a pair of AK series rifles.

“Correct.” Reginald said, “Hell’s Angels, specifically, though there’s bound to be a few Zetas along to oversee Zetas interests.”

Ken pulled out a Mosin-Nagant, one of the restored sniper variants, and worked the bolt.

“Not for long.” Ken said, and he smiled a wide and wicked grin.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


“I didn’t want to disturb you two.” Reginald said to Kathy as he came into the house.

She kissed him. “I appreciate that.”

“So does he, I would think.” Reginald said, sitting.

Then their daughter came into the kitchen. “Why is Uncle Ken exercising with his shirt off?”

The three of them went to a window overlooking the backyard, and there Ken was—shirtless—practicing his martial arts.

“Honey,” Reginald said, “your uncle does a lot of things, and one of them is fighting with his bare hands and feet.”

“Like Jackie Chan?” she said.

“No.” Kathy said, “More like Bruce Lee.”

Just then, both Reginald and Kathy remembered that Bruce Lee had been dead for generations and that even his son had been dead for nearly 20 years, and thus the reverence they held for him was as alien to their daughter as life before Jar-Jar Binks and Young Anakin Skywalker. Reginald, thinking fast, pulled up the Bruce Lee entry at Wikipedia and showed it to her. That helped, somewhat.

Ken, for his part, noticed that they watched him. While he couldn’t hear them, or make out their faces in detail, he got a sense from Kathy and Reginald’s body language that they could use a hand. So, he toweled off and came inside just as Reginald showed his daughter the Bruce Lee article.

“Teaching ancient history so soon?” he said.

The little one turned to him. “Do you know Jackie Chan?”

Ken laughed. “I met him once. I needed some quick cash, and he needed a stuntman that could pass for English, so I got the part. I worked with him for a few weeks, played a minor role as a bad guy, and had a good time doing it.”

Her eyes lit up. “Really?!”

Ken nodded. “Best time I ever had in Hong Kong. Ended up helping one of his relatives with a Triad problem, but that’s another story.”

Reginald then clapped Ken on the shoulder and pulled him aside.

“I saw that the sheriff came by last night. I can assume then that you’ve been told what’s going on?”

Ken nodded.

“I apologize for that. I wanted to tell you today, after you had some time to relax.”

“You know that you don’t need to ask. I’ll help you put these guys down, but-“

“You need gear. I’ve taken care of that. After lunch, you and I will head down to the shop. I had my man set some things aside for your consideration.”

“That’s a very polite way of saying ‘I told one of my guys to pull some guns out for you to pick from.’” Ken said, wryly.

“I remember your preferences. I think that you’ll be pleased with the selection.”

“And the girls?”

“The little one and I shot some video at the gun club this morning. She and Kathy will spend the afternoon editing it into something good enough to upload to the YouTube channel later tonight.”

“Why is it that when you and I get together, I always feel like I’m Bond and you’re Q?”

“No, Ken, not Q- M. Because I am the general and you are the operative.”

“At least you’re honest. I can respect that.”

“It’s mutual, in both respects.”

“Not quite. You always come up just ahead.”

“Only from a certain point of view, Ken.”