Table of Contents

Coming Soon: FOUR HORSEMEN - A Novel

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Commentary on the writing process is posted at Snoozelets.

Chapter 4

Jake shifted position, trying to get comfortable, but after six hours in an unheated warehouse, nothing but a hard run, hot shower and eight hours of sack time was going to be comfortable. “Such is the glamorous life of the Special Agent,” Jake thought to himself. It was nearing four. Slowly over the course of the night the once empty lot across from the warehouse had filled with containers. They were all colors, but of a sameness, nevertheless. Most bore the green and white trade markings of ‘Sea-Land’ while others were nondescript, with no hint of their origin.

A new container ship had arrived around three and docking was done in short order, with Able-bodies seamen tossing heaving traveling lines down to Longshoremen who hauled them in until the docking lines were secured to massive cleats and bollards on the dock. Once that was accomplished, tank trucks hauling Bunker C and potable water arrived and hoses more travelers were tossed to the ship. This time hoses were hauled aboard from shore, while produce and other provisions trucks pulled up and began unloading fresh supplies. On the dock it was a beehive of activity. Back here, on the far side of the transit yard, it was quiet, now that the yard engine had finished hauling in its load and the tractor-trailers had stopped hauling in hundreds of containers.

“41, this is 42. Our boys are arriving.”

“Roger, Charley. Watch your back. Over” Jake stood and stretched, working the nights kinks out of his neck and shoulders. No sense cramping up when things got tense. They considered it bad form in the Bureau to show ANY signs of weakness. Jake supposed that rolling on the floor in agony with a charley horse or being near stooped over from a back spasm would meet with disfavor from the boys in Washington.

The radio crackled to life again. “41, 43. Stand by. Wait for my mark. Over”

“Roger,” said Jake. It was quickly followed by a woman’s voice, “Affirmative, 41. On your mark. Over.” That was Sue Ellen Polansky, the other S.A. on this deal. She had the locals under her control. Harbor Master, Chicago PD, even Immigration and Naturalization. They were holed up in the warehouse next door, about six squads quietly idling inside with the big back doors open in the rear. Charley had the S.W.A.T. in with him in the building nearest to the gate. Once the “guests” had all arrived, the plan was to block the gate with a loader on one side and a couple of trucks and trailers on the other. The SAC had a contingent of seven other Special Agents, an APC (armored personnel carrier) on loan from the Illinois National Guard, courtesy of an assist from the Mayor’s “Military Liaison Office,” various and sundry members of other Federal law enforcement agencies, DEA, ATF and some shadowy types that were probably paid informants but might be spookier than that.

Jake had himself to worry about and no one else. Technically, he was a trainee and therefore ineligible to participate in field maneuvers without direct supervision. In practical terms, Charley had put Jake on point in the observation department, keeping an eye on the comings and goings in general, rather than concentrating on looking for specific subjects. His job was to try to anticipate “situations” before the occurred and head them off, if at all possible.

A lone figure in a pea coat and dark watch cap walked from between Jake’s building and the one next to it where Sue Ellen and her crew waited. Halfway across the quay, the figure stopped, apparently fumbling inside the pea coat. Jake tensed, gun drawn unconsciously when he saw the hand had reached inside the lapel of the coat. Light flared on a bearded face as mystery man lit a cigarette, then continued walking toward the dockside.

“41, 42. We have an unknown civilian crossing to the dockside. Male, unknown age, bearded, approximate height 5’8”, approximate weight 190 pounds, medium build. Wearing blue jeans, a navy pea coat and a watch cap. Over.”

“10-4, 41. Stay put.”

“Roger that, 42.”

Jake did as he was told. The only reason he was along on this little stakeout was the shortage of manpower in the Chicago office combined with his solemn vow to Charley that he’d obey every instruction given and, in general, stay the hell out of the way “while the big boys do their job.”

Chapter 4, Continued...

It had been an interesting twelve months, Jake mused while waiting for further instructions. He’d warmed up to Charley’s irrepressible sense of humor once the newness of the situation wore off. Jake had concluded that the AIC knew all about Charley’s quirks and peccadilloes. So long as Jake LaMott wasn’t caught making inappropriate statements about his bosses and their bosses, he was probably safe from any of Charley’s “stink” rubbing off onto him. They’d had some reason for making Charley the training officer, after all.

Jake found that, humor aside, Charley was a firm taskmaster. He expected quality work and accepted nothing less than the best from trainees assigned to him. He also had no sense of direction, so had developed the habit of tossing the keys to Jake to drive whenever their work took them into the field. Jake was one of those who had a built-in compass, on the other hand. He could be set down in a strange city, mountain wilderness or steaming swamp anywhere on earth and he’d have determined North and the rest of the cardinal points before most people could unpack a compass and glance at it. It had been a point of contention that first day, when they pulled out onto South Dearborn Street from under the Everett Darkness Federal Building.

“Where to, sir?” asked Jake. After sputtering over the ‘sir bit’, Charley said they needed to head out to Springfield. Jake had confounded Charley by turning right out of the garage, heading over to the Dan Ryan Expressway, getting on and heading West to I-55 and then South on the Interstate, all without asking Charley which way to go.

“How’d you do that?” sputtered Murphy.

“Do what?” replied Jake, although he had an idea what was bothering Charley.

“How did you know where to go?”

“I studied a map of the city and of Illinois during my rest breaks on the way here from the Academy,” Jake answered truthfully. “I’m working on Indiana now, in my spare time.”

Charley’s face, when Jake looked at him, told the story. Disgust and bewilderment all rolled into one. Jake didn’t rub it in by telling the story of his friend Andrea, who’d lived in Richmond for three years before she could find her way to the shopping center by the same route, two out of three tries. She’d nearly killed him the one time he’d visited her and her husband, Ken. He’d taken her down to get some party groceries, after having passed it on his way to their house. She was fit to be tied! But he’d thought about it… and decided having Charlie as an ally would be a whole lot smarted than pissing him off this early in his career.

~ ~ ~

Lt. Commander LaMott’s troops had been on high alert for sixteen hours when the fit hit the shan. One minute, his troops were staring across the empty plaza at some Jamaican Army Regulars who’d set up a machinegun nest behind some sand bags on the far side of the square. The next moment brought mortar rounds from the rear of the embassy and about 100 troops advancing on the front of the embassy from the left and right flanks. How they’d ever managed to set up a mortar emplacement without being spotted, Jake would worry about later. He ordered his men to open fire. An anti-tank gun was sufficient to stop the forward progress of the decrepit vehicle on the left, but the APC on the right was scoring some telling shots with its 1” cannon and they’d had to respond quickly to that threat, causing several of his men to get hit by machinegun fire from across the way.

Cursing under his breath, Jake called for air support. The Seahawks arrived “just in the nick of time” and made mincemeat of the APC and the mortar emplacement, which was found to be located in the playground of an elementary school two blocks away. Completely shielded from the view of the sharpshooters on the roof of the embassy.

Jake and his troops settled in for the long haul. Ambassador Gilchrist had departed for the Canadian Embassy earlier in order to meet on neutral soil with a representative from General Ramos. The Deputy Ambassador and Smith were holed up in the communications room, doing Lord knows what. That left Jake and company to mind the fort and keep the home fires burning. And burn they did. The APC was still aflame… “must have had a full tank of fuel,” thought Jake. “It’ll burn another couple of hours and then we’ll see. Something makes me think we haven’t seen the last of these jerks,” he told himself.

They’d had two dead and fourteen injured, although only eight required treatment beyond first aid. Lance Corporal Juan Martinez and Staff Sargent Ravenna Miller had both been taken out with machine gun fire. “Just like I said would happen,” Jake observed to himself. But no, the Ambassador ordered that “no one fire unless fired upon,” so the Jamaican regulars had had free rein to set up however they wanted. “Stupid, stupid, stupid. Damn civilians should stick to making the peace. It was his job to make the war.”

Jake sat down at a desk in the reception area and began composing the letters to the families. He suspected there would be more before this little skirmish ended, so he got these done with dispatch.

~ ~ ~

When Jake was passing out of childhood, America had only recently passed through the wildly misnamed “Summer of Love”. Just ask the folks getting their heads beaten in by the Chicago PD at the behest of the Democratic National Committee and that stalwart, Mayor Richard Daley. Maybe a few kids out in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco were getting their groove on getting their communal rocks off; for the vast majority of the country it was business as usual. Out in the hinterland of far eastern Maine, few took notice of the goings on, except as coffee break fodder. Jake was a staunch Nixon-Agnew supporter that year and was rewarded for his righteousness with the underwhelming election of his chosen candidate in November. It was almost anti-climactic – “…of course they elected him, was there any doubt?” he’d once stated to his father, an equally staunch Democrat and lukewarm supporter of the Humphrey-Muskie ticket that had stolen the nomination away from Senator Gene McCarthy after the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy in June. Jake reveled in Richard Nixon’s first term, although he was unprepared for the vehement language of hate the violent protesters of the Vietnam War continued to hurl at speeches by his president. Nixon and Jake matured apace in the early seventies. Both were satisfied with the election results of 1972, what with Nixon getting more than 60% of the popular vote and 520 electoral votes to 17 for George McGovern, his Democratic opponent.

It was the beginning of the end for Richard Milhouse Nixon. The crisis of Watergate began with wiretaps in 1969 on an "enemies list" of those who opposed of the secret Cambodia invasion, the Tom Huston plan in 1970 to investigate protesters and cause their arrest and possible mass internment, the creation of the White House plumbers unit under John Ehrlichman to plug leaks such as Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers in 1971, the “Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP) organization and the use of dirty tricks in the 1972 campaign, led by Donald Segretti and CRP legal counsel G. Gordon Liddy, including the first break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in May, 1972, to plant a wiretap on the telephone of Larry O'Brien. The CRP operations became public with the arrest of 5 burglars June 17, 1972, during the second break-in of the Watergate headquarters. The cover-up began June 23 (later known as the smoking gun) when Nixon ordered Haldeman to lie to the FBI and use the CIA to stop the investigation of the burglars. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post began to write articles about the break-in for the Washington Post. The trial of the burglars began in Jan. 1973 and $400,000 was allocated from CRP to defend the burglars, but Judge John Sirica declared Feb. 2 he was "not satisfied" with the silence of the burglars. James McCord broke his silence in a letter to Sirica, confessing that he operated under orders from the White House. John Dean told the president on March 21, that the crisis was becoming a "cancer on the presidency;" Nixon declared in public on April 18, that the White House was cleared of any involvement. But within two weeks, key aides resigned: Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Dean, Attorney General Kleindienst, and FBI director L. Patrick Gray. Nixon became increasingly secretive and paranoid, while the Senate began televised hearings May 17, 1973, under Chairman Sam Ervin (Dem, NC) that slowly revealed the breadth and details of the crisis, especially the revelation of the White House tapes on July 16. Archibald Cox was appointed special prosecutor and Judge Sirica ordered Cox to turn over the tapes to his court. To add insult to injury, Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew resigned on Oct. 10, due to tax evasion charges. It was at that time that Nixon appointed Gerald Ford as vice-president.

In the Saturday Night Massacre of Oct. 20, 1973 Nixon fired Archibald Cox, Attorney General Elliott Richardson, and James Ruckelshouse. After a six-month lull during which the Senate wrangled through more hearings and attorneys for all parties kept a blizzard of subpoenas blowing inside the Beltway, Nixon finally complied with Judge Sirica’s original order in part, releasing some tape transcripts in April 1974, revealing the 18 and 1/2-minute gap, causing the Supreme Court to rule on July 24, 1974 that Nixon must surrender 64 tapes to Sirica. The House Judiciary Committee voted 3 articles of impeachment on July 30, 1974. Nixon turned over the tapes Aug. 5, revealing the "smoking gun" cover-up of June 23, 1972. The stage was set, all players in place and the administration teetered on the edge. Would the Senate vote impeachment or would the President resign? Nixon resigned the presidency Aug. 9, 1974.

Jake had meanwhile grown into a strapping youth, good at sports, with blue eyes and an easy grin that attracted the lassies like bees to honey. He spent much of the summer glued to the television when he wasn’t out with his buddies goofing off or working to save some money for new clothes for school by mowing lawns and other odd jobs he managed to find despite the horrendous state of the economy.

By the time of the impeachment of Richard Nixon, Jake was going out with Linda Greenlaw-Beal, daughter of one of the few attorneys in Eastport and a rabid, foaming-mouth liberal Democrat and opponent of everything Republican. The only thing that kept him on her short leash was the fact her kisses were sweet and her boobies were sweeter, as he’d discovered out behind the LaMott carriage house the afternoon of August 9. Linda encouraged Jake to fondle her breasts that afternoon when his kisses were having an unanticipated impact upon her. Seeking to divert her body’s focus, Linda hit upon the plan as respite from the increasing flow of moisture soaking her panties. Little did she know … her first orgasm happened right there, in the LaMott’s backyard, after a particularly strong tickling tongue twist from Jake. At least, that’s what she thought it was. Just her stiffening like a board, holding desperately to Jake while whispering “stop, oh, ah … don’t stop, no, no don’t stop, Oh God, don’t stop!” convinced him he’d done something right. When she grabbed his hand and put it forcefully between her thighs and then clamped onto it with a death grip that would have choked the life out of him on the wrestling mat, and just shivered, kind of, he wasn’t so sure. But Linda didn’t respond to his whispered inquiries after her well being, nor did she appear to be in any danger. Eventually, she loosened her grip on him, let out a huge sigh, grinned and stretched from her fingertips to her toes, curled up in the shelter of his arm and side and went to sleep with the most beautiful smile he’d ever seen on anyone’s face. He was hooked forever, right then and there. Jake was eager to continue to experiment, but knew how much he hated anybody messing with him when he was asleep, so he sat there quietly, listening to the sound of the early evening coming on, the chirp of the crickets replacing the harsh clacking whir of the occasional cicada, the sweet, low hum of the wings of ruby throated hummingbirds gathering at the sugar water feeder. On the street behind his home he could hear some younger kids playing hide-and-seek while it sounded like the Johnson’s were having an argument about politics, again. The Larsens were in their backyard, smelled like they were barbecuing hot dogs and hamburgs. They were probably the ones who had the radio on and tuned to the Red Sox Radio Network out of Bangor, WLBZ-AM 620.

Sometimes at night, Jake would listen to a big old console radio that had belonged to his grandfather. It had multiple bands and could tune all the way from the long wave Tropic Bands up to HF Short-wave. He’s strung an antenna wire from his bedroom window to the peak of the roof on the carriage house and could tune in WBZ-AM 560 down in Boston anytime he wanted. He could listen to the ball games that way, even when the Bangor station wasn’t carrying them the year that the other Bangor station had the franchise. For some reason, he couldn’t get that station, there was interference from a station up in St. John’s, Newfoundland. That station didn’t care about baseball. Aside from country music and a bunch of crooners like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, they seemed to focus on the comings and goings of ships, weather forecasts for places like George’s Bank and Saint Michelon and the price of fresh cod versus finnan haddie and flake, whatever that was.

Linda stirred in her sleep and snuggled closer to her leg. He held her with one arm free, playing in the grass with his free hand. It was approaching dusk now, he could see lights on in the kitchens and living rooms of the few houses in view. He would have to wake Linda up soon. Her father came home promptly at 6:00 PM each weeknight and expected everyone to be gathered at the dining room table when he arrived, she’d told him. “Father sits and has a cocktail and asks Mom and me each about our day. He then wants dinner served by 6:30 PM. By 7:00, he’s finished and in front of the TV for the “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.” That’s just the way he is,” she said. “Most nights, if it isn’t a school night, I watch the news with him and then help my Mom do the dishes and clean up the kitchen. She washes first, then watches “What’s My Line?” I dry and put away and then, if I have school, I finish up my homework.”

Linda awoke slowly, smiling sweetly, seemingly at peace with the world. “Hi there, sleepyhead, are you OK?” asked Jake.

“Mmmm, yes indeedy,” was her reply. “What time is it?
“Judging by the light and shadows, it’s just shy of six o’clock,” Jake replied. “You need to get a move on if your going to beat your father to the dinner table, Miss Greenlaw-Beal,” sounding remarkably like her father’s formal tones, even if it was half an octave higher.

“Uh huh, you’re right,” said Linda, standing and moving in slow motion, but making steady progress towards the front yard where she’d left her bike. Suddenly, she stopped and pulled him up against an old oak tree in the side yard. Standing on tip-toes, she gave Jake a kiss he felt all the way to his groin, particularly when she slipped her tongue past his teeth, which made his mouth feel funny and his cock start to swell. Just as suddenly, she released him and proceeded on, like nothing had happened. “See you later, alligator,” she called back to him.

He watched her sashay away and wistfully replied, “After a while, crocodile.”

The house was dark, compared to outside, when he went in the back door. After washing up at the kitchen sink, he put some franks in a sauce pan with some water, then opened a can of beans and dumped those into a double boiler. Checking again in the icebox, Jake took a bowl of salad out that was left over from the night before. His father was down to Bangor with his mother, at the hospital. She was just now finishing up a course of chemotherapy. She looked like warmed-over death, if you ask me, thought Jake. He suspected that she wasn’t going to make it. He’s had a conversation with his father in the car on the way back from Bangor on Sunday evening, each expressing their concerns about her failed recovery and interminable treatments, about how scared they were for her, and how sad they were for each other. It was the first time he could remember that he had ever talked with his father like that. It was good. But it was scary, too. “That’s the price of admission to the “Adult Conspiracy,” kiddo. Welcome to the Real World. Nothing is black and white – it’s all just shades of gray,” explained his father.

Finishing up his beans and franks, along with a couple of pieces of bread and butter, some pickles, carrot sticks and celery stalks filled with peanut butter, Jake put the dishes in the sink and ran some hot water over them to soak, cleaned up the kitchen and then went in and turned on the television. It was an old black and white console model from Philco in a cherry wood cabinet with a big speaker under the picture tube. No trouble hearing the sound. Seeing anything other than snow and ghosts depended on the atmospheric conditions, the station being tuned and how much wind was blowing the antenna around on the roof. It got 5 channels, two from Bangor, one from Orono, and two from Canada.

Tuning around with the dial, he managed to get the local CBS affiliate to come in surprisingly clear for summertime. Local news was just finishing up. Going back to the kitchen, Jake cut himself a piece of chocolate cake and scooped some vanilla ice cream on top. The “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite” was just coming on. Lead story was from Viet Nam, followed by a story from Washington detailing the announcement that afternoon the President has scheduled an address to the nation at 8:00 PM. The reporter on the White House lawn speculated that the President would be discussing further responses to the vote of the House of Representatives… the phone rang. Jake caught it in the kitchen on the third ring, hoping it was Linda. He’d been thinking about asking her out for Friday night to go to the “Strand” and catch a movie.

It was his father. Down to the hospital in Bangor. “Your mother, she wasn’t feeling good this afternoon after her treatment, so rather than driving back tonight, we stayed with the French’s up in Orono.” Jake listened without comment, sensing something was wrong. “About suppertime,” Patrick LaMott hurried on, sensing his son’s growing alarm, “I went up to bring her down for supper after her nap and, she, well, she’d passed on, Jake. In her sleep. I don’t know what else to say.” He broke down then, sobbing. “What are we going to do, Jake? What am I going to do?”

Jake hung up the phone after his father rang off, and went back to the living room. He sat motionless, oblivious to the television for an hour or more, crying and raging against God and Fate internally. But if you’d have looked in from outside that night, all you’d have seen was a bereft young man, staring at the television with the tears silently streaming down his face as Richard Nixon announced his resignation as President of the United States of America.

~ ~ ~

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