Terrorist Tea Bags
Of course, the world changed early in September 2001. Like everybody else, I tried to make sense of it. It was hard to try to write anything, but I had to view the situation as it affected my town. I cried a bit as I wrote this one, but not since.
This one could also be called "Leroy's Rehabilitation" as he showed a bit of class behind his customary sorry-ass self.
Late September 2001.
Well, it's not been much fun around here lately. Everybody seems to be walking around in a daze. Mr. Trout down at the appliance store turned all 16 TV's to CNN last Tuesday, and everybody came down to watch. Seeing the same things happen over and over again 16 times in parallel was a bit more than we could take.
Leroy and Andrew arrived about noon, not being what you would call morning people. The combination of sadness and anger was too much even for them, and they left after a while. They stopped at Manoor's grocery on the way home.
Leroy noticed an out-of-county pickup in the parking lot. He recognized Jerry Roberts, from his high school football days. Jerry was always known for late hits and generally dirty play. Jerry and his buddy were drinking beer and pointing at the store's sign. Leroy was a bit concerned, since Mr. Manoor didn't sell beer, so something was up. He and Andrew went on in.
As he wandered through the aisles, Leroy thought about Mr. Manoor. He remembered that Mr. Manoor had provided Thanksgiving dinner for the children's home for the last few years. He had also provided Leroy with groceries "on credit" in several cases of financial embarrassment. Leroy knew that Mr. Manoor had dark skin and didn't attend any of the local churches, but he didn't really know where Mr. Manoor had come from ten years ago.
Just then Jerry burst through the door, and pointed at Mr. Manoor, who was restocking the Little Debbie display in aisle 4. "There he is!", he said, and started running in his direction.
Leroy was in the auto supply aisle, and he noticed the fire extinguisher mounted on the end of the shelves.
He did not pull the plastic ring.
He did not squeeze the lever.
He did not aim at the base of the fire.
He did smoothly and smartly bring up the fire extinguisher to the level of Jerry's forehead.
With a satisfying "Clonk" Jerry assumed a horizontal sliding position and plowed feet first into the display on aisle 3, and was immediately covered with an avalanche of Slim Jims and Beef Jerky.
His buddy, following close behind, stopped and stood up straight at the sight. This was a tactical error.
Andrew, having grabbed a push broom, made his best major league swing and clipped him in the back of the knees. The guy hit the floor, bouncing his head off the linoleum.
Andrew was quickly there to empty most of his 64 oz Combination Grape/Strawberry Slurpee into his face, saving only enough to douse the guy's crotch and destroy what little was left of his dignity.
Deputy Jimmy came to collect the miscreants, and Leroy and Andrew headed home. They had fresh Slurpees, "on the house".
A mile down the road, Leroy said "Assholes!".
I'm not sure who he was referring to, there are lots of candidates these days.
A mile or so later, Andrew said " I know I'm a few years late, but I think I'll register for the draft tomorrow."
I ran a batch of tea bags though the wringer, and got the following :
1. Soon, every special interest lobbying group in the country will be using the tragic events to push their own cause. The line for Federal handouts will be long and well lawyered.
2. The US public's aversion to casualties has been overstated. The problem was an aversion to casualties without a clear threat to the US. This is no longer a problem.
3. My favorite newsgroups are full of has-beens, never-was's, amateurs and nut cases. The current occupiers of the tip of the spear are to busy to talk to us now. We old farts must accept that the young studs are in charge. ( And I think they will handle it just fine.)
4. Although virtually none of today's US military served in VietNam, they have read the book and seen the movie.
5. I suspect that the Pentagon has both books about recent Afghanistan history and maps available. They are probably not reading SMN and RAM for tips.
6. So far, in public, GWB has acted just as any of the Presidents in the last 50 years would have. It will be years before we have a true picture of his competence in this situation.
Author's note: When I started writing this, Leroy was going to be the villain. It just seemed that would be the case. But he flatly refused when he found out about it. "I know I ain't the smartest guy in the world. And I know I got lots of other faults, but dammit, outright meanness ain't one of 'em!" He was right, of course, and you just can't make a character do something he doesn't want to do.