Saturday, March 31, 2012


“I don’t believe you.” Martin said, “If I get out, they’ll take me back just like all of the other times I got caught.”

Martin, alas, was wrong. This is understandable, as he is in denial at that moment and has those very past experiences he mentioned to support his false belief. When his handler noticed that Martin did not check in at the appointed time, that handler activated another agent under his control and made certain that Martin wasn’t flaking out. This confirmed, the handler immediately burned Martin and put the word up to his boss that their man on the ground got compromised by the opposition.

The handler got orders to escalate and sanitize the situation before the inevitable consequences manifested. To get this done, the handler called upon assets in the Syndicate and in Los Zetas. He fed his assets a carefully-curated briefing, ensuring that his assets would not refuse to act on the conclusion that his briefing led them to- move in and exterminate Ken and his allies. They agreed, and the handler ensured the usual compensation for doing so.

Within hours, men from Canada and Mexico again met at an airport in Chicago. These men, as with the last men gathered, were trained and skilled killers. Unlike the last group, this was a small team that had previously worked together in various operations. Despite their nominal employers being a pair of rival criminal syndicates, both groups maintained ties to the Intelligence Community and thus had both markers and debts with them- and often more of the latter than the former.

Guiscard, again, got a warning from a man he knew there. Again, he passed that on to Ken and the others. Again, the men running the defense in the county passed the warning on—quietly—to the people in the militia. This time, however, the response differed. Instead of flying in on a civilian jet, the killers flew over the area in a conveniently provided C-130 military aircraft. Instead of landing and then embarking on their mission, the killers jumped out of the aircraft and parachuted down—the cover was that it was an exercise, as the aircraft would land at the Air National Guard station—and then get on with their wetwork.

Ken and his allies figured that this time would see an airdrop in a deniable craft, so instead of sending up their attack plane they put the word out to their neighbors and kept a watch for the men as they descended. When the call came in, the spotters fled the scene while Ken and his allies rushed to it; the two parties met as the hitmen commandeered the vacant home, sparking a firefight between them. The hitmen, cornered, fought without restraint; Ken and his allies showed them no mercy. An hour later all but one had been killed or cut down and captured; by the next day, The Sheriff apprehended that one last men when he failed to invade a home a few miles away- the wife of the house shot him down with a waterfowl gun, crippling him.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Later in the day, the man—subdued—now sat in a chair in The Sheriff’s office. Away from the press, away from prying eyes and foolish whims, that middle-aged man sat restrained and confined- and before the very men he photographed just hours earlier. This prisoner now sat without a shirt, revealing well-done tattoos common to the Hell’s Angels and other outlaw motorcycle gangs: “1%”, “Enforcer” and so on. Unlike the many brothers slain, his tattoos are confined to areas on his back and chest that so commonly get covered with shirts that—if concealed—no one would notice him at all.

Just then, Ken comes into the room.

“You have quite the history. Born John Garland Martin in 1955, served in Vietnam from 1973 to 1975 as a combat photographer in the U.S. Army, joined the Hell’s Angels in 1976 after an ambiguous incident that—just the same—left you with an honorable discharge. You then go on to somehow repeat this pattern of ambiguous involvement in shady dealings throughout the world, making contact with all sorts of interesting characters. Some you kill, some you do business with, and the former often were the latter at some point.”

Reginald and The Sheriff looked at each other, nodding.

“Don’t bother denying it. We already have independent confirmation of your activities.” Ken said, “Which agency do you work for?”

Martin looked up at them as if they were children. “Are you fucking retards?” he said, “Do you honestly think that you can win?”

“Well,” The Sheriff said, “that answers a few questions right there."

“Indeed.” Reginald said, concurring. “In short,” Ken said, “we do think we can win."

Martin laughed. “You helped the Mother Club clean out a lot of shit from the system, that’s for sure. So many useless fucks sitting around the clubhouse fucking shit pussy, drinking shit booze, barely getting by despite feeling so superior due to being fully patched. They’re suckers, totally and utterly expendable suckers. You’ve been allowed to go on because it’s been, in the long run, very good for business. Now that I’ve missed a check-in, however, you’re fucking done.”

“You think they’re coming for you?” Reginald said, curious. Martin smiled. “Hell no!” he said, “They’re going to notice that their information flow got severed, will assume the worst and send in the regulators to clean up the mess.”

“Oh, really?” The Sheriff said, “So you’re just the scout.”

Ken stepped in. “You’re still doing the job you learned in Vietnam, aren’t you? You’re the scout, the advanced man, scoping out the scene before the team makes it move.”

Reginald now broke in. “You not only gathered intelligence, you spotted for and called in air and artillery strikes- you gave the military what it needed to conduct special operations with accuracy and precision.”

“You’re still doing it.” The Sheriff said, realizing what’s going on, “You’ve been doing it.”

“Shit.” Ken said.

“You’ve wondered what the trigger for the next phase was, Ken? You got it.” Reginald said.

Martin blanched, and Ken noticed. “Oh? Somehow, in some manner, you failed to connect me with the Ken that’s become fucking infamous in your circles? For a photographer, you’re not that perceptive about anything outside that is not in your lens’ viewfinder.”

“Names and faces…” Martin said, weakly.

“Typical.” Ken said, “You’re getting burned as we speak. You not only aren’t getting rescued; you’re now on their hitlist. They know what happens to men like you when men like me get a hold of you, so they’ve already written you off as lost. Don’t disappoint me and demonstrate atypical loyalty now.”

Saturday, March 17, 2012


The Sheriff organized a press conference on the steps of the Sheriff’s Office, where he displayed the weapons, motorcycles and colors of the Hell’s Angels slain so far in their interdiction operation as if he were a conquering warrior of old. Journalists near and far flocked about the scene, with television and still cameras taking pictures of the spectacle. Flanked by Reginald and a handful of deputies, the old lawman engaged the assembled press.

 “What you see here today is the spoils of our operations against the Hell’s Angels outlaw motorcycle gang, and their continued failure to intimidate we—the people of this county—into silence and submission to their criminal will.”

The Sheriff then motioned to the guns, leathers and weapons assembled. Reginald then pulled out a long list.

“This, members of the press, is a list of the entirety of the enemy either captured or killed to date. The leather vests piled here, their ‘colors’, are taken from these enemies as trophies of war- for they have made war upon us, and we are wise enough to deal with that in kind.”

The press weighed in with questions, leading and presumptive questions, regarding the violence and the community response of organized militia violence.

“We are not the would-be tyrants that have neither faith nor trust in our neighbors.” The Sheriff said, “We know, as matters of fact as well as matters of law, that we are the sole guarantors of our own safety. That is why we are armed, and that is why we willingly cooperate to protect ourselves, those that depend upon us and our property- and otherwise leave well enough alone.”

Reginald stepped in at this point: “We also know that, as history demonstrates, barbarians—and make no mistake, the Hell’s Angels outlaw motorcycle club is a barbarian horde—are nothing more than the precursor to today’s criminal syndicates. They are parasites that suck the blood and treasure from the people, using fear and force to scare it out of us. We know better, so we have no problem with seeing them as just monsters to exterminate without prejudice- and that is what we do.”

The assembled press, shocked at the frank assertion, stammered to put forth a follow-up question. The men with cameras, on the other hand, kept silent and filmed or shot photos about all they see. One of them, a clean-cut middle-aged man dressed for a newsroom, worked a still camera with the speed of a master marksman; shot after shot, like a mad minute of volley fire, focused upon the colors and the bikes- and when in view, the list.

One of the press then tried, out of desperation, to reassert the commonly-held claim that one expects out of a media culture focused on networks rooted in places like New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles. The others joined the dogpile, but Reginald handled them all as if he were an Aikido master being swarmed by a mob.

Meanwhile, The Sheriff noted that one of the men—that very same middle-aged photographer—slipping out of the back of the crowd and leaving the scene. He motioned to a deputy, and the deputy made a phone call.

Moments later, in the men’s room of the bar across the street, Ken walked in and moved up to that same man as he stood at a urinal.

“Get some good footage?” Ken said.

“My SD cards got full, but by then I got what I needed out of that spectacle.”

Ken cocked an eyebrow. “Really? I think you missed the best part of the story.”

The man looked at Ken, curious, as he hurriedly zipped up.

“They announced that they found a spy, here, and they’re about to make an arrest.”

The man now faced Ken. “Well, that’s a shame,” he said, “but I can’t get all the best shots.”

Ken glanced at the man’s hands, and saw one going behind his back. Ken immediately rushed him, knocking the knife out of the man’s hand. The man, without thinking, counterattacked with his off hand. The two men brawled without restraint, without thought, wrecking the restroom- yet Ken won.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Ken and the Sheriff went back to Reginald and Kathy’s place for dinner that night, and after Kathy put the kids to bed the four of them discussed the matter.

“You’re thinking that we’re looking for a photographer?” Kathy said.

Ken nodded. “Would you think twice about a man claiming to work for one of the big news agencies, not talking to many people about many things, but sticking to the big story around here?”

“So, a man who doesn’t go looking for targets? He’s taking pictures of his fellows’ corpses, their ruined bikes, and so on?” Reginald said.

“He’s also taking photos of the militia, my deputies, and no doubt myself.” The Sheriff took a swig on his beer, “So, I assume that, if this guy is as good as we think he is, he already has photos of Ken and likely has some idea of what the territory looks like.”

Kathy looked at each of the three men about her, all combat veterans, and saw the same serious look. “Should I start calling the other ladies, to warn them?”

The men glanced at each other. “Yes.” Reginald said, “Do that. You know that the Andersons’ eldest is up this late, so call them right away and leave a message.”

Kathy got up and made that call. “I think we can still cripple this guy’s operations, but first we need to flush him out.”

“How?” Reginald said, curious.

“This is what I propose.” Ken said, quick to answer, “Let’s have ourselves a media event, where we allow plenty of photography, and show off the evidence of our success to date. All three of us are to attend, demonstrating that a united community—symbolized by the three of us—can overcome far, far larger criminal organizations. We keep the area, inside and out, under surveillance. When we find our guy, we close in and take him.”

“You’re not worried at all about this turning into a firefight, are you?” The Sheriff said.

Ken shook his head. “They’re all adults. They know the risks.”

Reginald sighed. “Given what we’ve got to work with, I can’t say either of us can come up with a better plan.”

“Especially since this guy’s looking for us, and our usual haunts. Taking a chance to get all of us at once? No way he’ll pass it up."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


“So,” the Sheriff said, “you think that the Angels’ leadership will do this?”

 Ken handed the old man a cup of fresh coffee, and the two sat down around his desk in the County office.
“Sheriff, I think that the leadership isn’t on the same page. Their top men aren’t stupid. They see what’s going on here, and they’re not keen on joining the dogpile.”

“So, you think that these men aren’t engaging us because they think that their bosses will toss them to the wolves?”

Ken nodded. “It’s the most likely explanation. Guiscard’s contacts abroad confirm what various alternative media outlets claim to be the case: Angel clubhouses all over are coming here, turning their coats and abandoning the gang or disappearing and going to ground. That’s got to give those men great pause.”

The Sheriff laughed. “I cannot believe that an old county sheriff, a notorious anarchist and the common people of a rural lake county are responsible for the destruction of one of the world’s most infamous outlaw motorcycle gangs.”

 Ken smiled. “Neither can the leadership or their top enforcers. That’s why we’re not seeing them just yet, but I wouldn’t count on never seeing them either.”

“I agree.” The Sheriff sipped some from his cup. “I’m thinking that at least one’s here, now, and keeping quiet.”

“An observer, in other words, you think?”

 The Sheriff nodded, and sipped again.

“I concur.” Ken said, “If I were one of these men, I’d come into the area under a cover that allowed for a wide range of mobility, plenty of plausible deniability, and openly carrying technology useful for surveillance.”

“You’re talking about a reporter.” The Sheriff said.

Ken shook his head. “Reporters are too high-profile for this sort of thing. They draw a lot of attention, memorable attention, through their actions. Our man’s not going to be doing that.”

“So, if not a reporter, then what?”

“We’re looking for a photographer.” Ken said, “Not a freelancer, not someone tied to a media outlet either- someone here for some other reason.”

Ken flipped through some reports on the Sheriff’s desk, and his eyes fell upon a casualty report complete with pictures.

“We’ve got some Feds around, right?”

“State and Federal agents, actually, but I keep tight leashes on them so they don’t interfere in our operations.”

“You let them go to the hospitals and the morgue?”

The Sheriff nodded. Then the thought hit him. “One of them?”

“No,” Ken said, “but around them. There’s a few private observers around, and at least one photographer is attached to each of these guys. I think our guy’s one of them, one of the employees of these NGOs, that’s moving around—often alone—and using that cover to spy on us.”

“This guy won’t look, or act, like the bikers whose corpses burn day and night at the crematorium. He’s clean-cut, in great shape, doesn’t drink shit beer, talks like a network anchorman- not at all the biker type in word or deed. No visible tattoos either, but I bet he’s inked like the rest- just in easy-to-hide ways. He needs those tats to get ordinary brothers to help when he needs them.”

“I take it that this guy’s also going to be harder to trick into revealing himself.” Ken nodded. “If he’s one of their top men, then he’s no idiot or rookie. He’s high in the hierarchy, and off the books; only a few know who he is and none of those guys are here.”

“But he knows them, right?”

Ken again nodded, and so did the Sheriff.