Friday, June 14, 2019

Seven Skinny Cows: Chernovsky catches the gay

The other factor that was twisting Quinn’s squad around the axle was the fact that many of the fighters decided that Chernovsky was gay.

Young, rural men are extremely puritanical about somethings. Being intimate with an unmarried, young woman? Most wouldn’t bat an eyelash.

But gay sex? Totally repulsive. Reactions ranged from shudders to vomiting.

The evidence was in front of them. Chernovsky and his inseparable aide, Buddy moved their tent seventy yards away from the main group. What other reason could there be?

Chernovsky’s force of personality was such that nobody wanted to ask. They still obeyed direct orders. He was a force of nature and what he told them to do made sense.

But he had caught the gay.

Those kinds of swamp rumors happen when you stick a bunch of active people close together and then tell them to do nothing. Unlike the training through the winter when the young men were running ten miles a day through snow, actual guard duty was looking through spotting scopes and waiting and waiting and waiting.

The troops were never in the observation post alone. It was always a primary and a secondary with the two switching places on the hour. They had nothing else to do...except speculate and talk.

Then there was the fact that Chernovsky became extremely standoffish. He never came closer than ten feet from the people he was talking to...except for when he was talking with Buddy. If you tried to get closer he looked extremely uncomfortable and edged away.

Chernovsky and Buddy waited until after everybody else had taken food from the kettle before they dished out food for themselves.

The only five people who were not read-into the debate were Chernovsky, Buddy, Quinn, Walt Shaw and John Gault. To their credit, neither Walt or John had any tolerance for gossip. They saw it as “...bearing false witness...” so nobody bothered to tell John or Walt about the issue.

Quinn was never clued in. Everybody knew that Buddy was Quinn’s cousin and that Quinn was very protective of him.

Unfortunately, that turned the small-minded in the direction of thinking that maybe Quinn and Buddy’s relationship was something more than just being cousins.

The rest of the guys were deeply conflicted.

There was no doubt that Chernovsky was still the boss. Nobody disputed that he was as masculine as a bag full of twenty-two ounce framing hammers. Nope. Nobody dared ask.

Rather, they started avoiding him and told him less. They saw it as turn-around being fair play. If he avoided them, pitching his tent outside the compound and being very standoffish when talking to them, they would be gentlemen and return the favor.

Communication suffered.

Chernovsky noticed and attributed it to the stress of continuous operations. Everybody was on-duty 24/7. What troubled him as that the pace of operations had lulls and surges and the lack of communication and eye-contact remained constant.

The situation could have caused a catastrophe.

What floated it up to the surface was that Squad One and Three were making several runs to Ambush Site Three every day. It was pounding them to a pulp.

After a spate of rainy weather the sun came out and temperatures rose even as the water isolating Lansing dropped.

The floodgates for both refugees and hostiles opened and Chernovsky’s guys became very, very busy.

The fact that they no longer had to dispose of the bodies made the pace of operations doable, barely.

The gangs came through so close together that the first ambush site had to “burp” some groups through for the other fire-teams to take on. The entire business model was to ambush hostiles. It would not do to have a group under fire with another group immediately behind them to reinforce them and suss out where the defenders were firing from.

The pace of operation for the back-up teams was torrid. Unlike Squad Two who could remain in place waiting for the next set of targets, fighters from Squad One and Three were expected to flow back to their primary site afterward as expeditiously as possible. Often times they had not even made it back to camp before they had to turn around and run back to Ambush Site Three.

Events came to a head when Chernovsky walked into Squad One’s camp and found several of his fighters soaking their legs in a pond. That is, a pond filled with 40 degree water.

“What the hell are you guys doing? You look like shit.” Chernovsky said.

One of the fighters lost his cool and may have called Chernovsky a dumb-ass. Chernovsky may have lost his temper and forgotten he was supposed to stay at least ten feet away from his guys and may have pitched the fighter into deep water.

It took a bit for things to settle down.

Then Chernovsky asked, “If the run is beating the crap out of you why didn’t you suggest we change? If it makes sense to temporarily pull a fire-team from a Squad and park them at Ambush Site Three, then your team-leaders should have make the pitch to me and the other team-leaders.”

That caused a bunch of them to look down and kicking at dirt clods. Finally, one of the braver guys said, “We thought you were too busy doing other things to pay attention to our problems.”

Chernovsky shook his head in frustration and disbelief. “What else would I be doing. Killing zombies is my only reason for being here.”

Then one of the team-leaders decided to earn his pay. “I ain’t saying I believe this. I am just saying that I might have heard some guys talking about this.” he said.

“There are some people who think you and Buddy are buddies, you know, doing the wild-thang.” The team-leader gulped. “I don’t believe it but that is what I heard.”

“That, and whenever we walk up to you to talk about something you walk away.” he said. “That kind of made us thing you had other things on your mind.”

Up until then Chernovsky had been very careful to not to talk about his and Buddy’s exposure to Ebola. That is when he decided to come clean.

“Yeah, you are right. I did move away when you guys got close. And I did move my tent so Buddy and I are away from the rest of Squad 2. But there is a reason that I wasn’t telling you. I see now that was a mistake.” Chernovsky said.

“Buddy and I were exposed to Ebola the first night we used the honey-pot houses. Rick Salazar was going to yank both me and Buddy out and throw us into quarantine. I BEGGED him to leave me in place and I promised both Buddy and I were never in a position where we could infect any of you.” Chernovsky said

"I made a mistake...a really big mistake. I thought that because I enforced the rules that I OWNED the rules. But I don't own them. Salazar and Tomanica don't own them. The rules are Mother Nature's rules or God's rules. They are not mine to enforce or not-enforce." Chernovsky said.

“Salazar agreed to let me stay but only if all of us are under quarantine. Buddy and I are in a separate quarantine from the rest of you and each squad is separated from the others and from the civilians of Pray Church and Kates Store for forty days.” Chernovsky said.

That certainly changed the complexion of things. Suddenly they could see why Chernovsky arranged the intricate dance to ensure that fighters from Squad One and Squad Three never intermingled at Ambush Site Three.

Given the distance between the camps and the ambush site, Squads One and Three agreed that they would alternate weeks of supporting the site. That would fulfill the compartmentalization requirement.

They would leave one fire-team on-site for the week and if they got slammed at their primary sites, Squad Two would flow a fire team over but not intermingle. If things heated up at Squad Two then the other odd-Squad would flow a team over to support Squad Two.

In a rare moment of introspection Chernovsky realized that he had made a rookie coaching mistake. New coaches are prone to stacking their team with players who were exactly like them.

A new basketball coaches who was a guard in college will field five guards because he knows guards are the most important player. New soccer coaches will stack the pitch with six midfielders if that was the position they played, and so on... Chernovsky had been a linebacker. The linebacker position is a flex position. A team needs a few flex players but can disintegrate into chaos when every player is a "linebacker".

In Chernovsky’s mind the squads had evolved. They could now defend against the run, the pass and the sweep and not destroy themselves while doing it.



  1. Reality intrudes, and minds with nothing else to do but speculate... sigh

  2. My second year as a head coach was much better than my first. Good times. And, I learned that my play calling could completely confuse a group of 3rd and 4th graders on defense.

    So I have that going for me.