Friday, July 5, 2019

Seven Skinny Cows: Well played

A storm system with temperatures in the mid-forties and twenty mph winds swept into the area.

Chernovsky left a skeleton crew pulled from the team in Squad Three that had seen no action. He had the rest of his men stand-down. They needed to lick their wounds and recover.

They went to Kates Store. Chernovsky had been called back to discuss redeployment closer to home. Clearly the aggression-profile of the hostiles was evolving.

Chernovsky gave them permission to visit Gabby’s Bar in turns. He did not want all of his fighters incapacitated at the same time. He figured they had earned a chance to blow off a little bit of steam. Their weapons were locked up and he read them the riot act about behaving themselves.

He decided he could use a bit of snake-bite medicine himself before he had to do an unpleasant task. He had yet to inform Spackle that Buddy had passed away. He reminded himself to go easy on the sauce. He hadn't had a snort in four months and had lost fifty pounds while on deployment. He was not the man Rick Salazar and Paul Seraph had recruited in January.

Chernovsky heard scuffling, grunts and the sound of falling furniture even as he rounded the corner.

His fighters were under an overhang attached to the barn. Walt “Preacher” Shaw had a larger man in an arm-lock. The man's left arm was behind his back and Walt had the elbow torqued as far up and forward as it would go. It looked like Walt was trying to unscrew the man's arm and intended to stuff the man's fingers into his right ear canal.

The man’s face was mashed into the spilled beer and windblown rain on the table top. Shaw's feet were skittering on the wet floor as he sought to gain purchase.

This was not a "for show" fight. Shaw was doing everything in his power to rip the man's arm off.

Looking at the other fighters, Chernovsky deduced that any one of them would gladly have taken Shaw’s place. Whatever the man had said or done, it lit-off every one of his guys, including “Preacher.”

Chernovsky decided it was time to use a little bit of humor to defuse the conflict.

“Preacher, that is not normally how you are supposed to baptize somebody. Generally, it is supposed to be voluntary.” Chernovsky said.

The man took advantage of the distraction and struggled to break free but that only gave Walt the chance to lock one of his legs into the seat of the picnic table and exert even more pressure.

“What’s the story?” Chernovsky asked. One of the other fighters started to pipe up but Chernovsky silenced him. “I wanna hear what they have to say, first."

The larger man whined “I was only joking. Fucking idiots don’t know a joke when you hear one.” The man’s voice was muffled because his face was mashed into the table top.

By now, Gabby and Janelle had come out the door and were watching. They seemed entirely willing to let Chernovsky handle it. The last thing they needed was to have ten fighters come unglued.

“Don’t matter.” Preacher said. “There are some things you don’t joke about.”

“What was the joke?” Chernovsky asked. He could not imagine anything that would have made his calmest and most religious fighter go bananas.

“I said ‘she would make a great girlfriend.’” the man said.

Chernovsky gestured with his hand to continue. There had to be more. “Who would make a great girlfriend?”

“Dysen.” the man said.

Chernovsky had time to look at the man. He was young enough to have been a fighter but had never interviewed for a position.

Further, the man looked...soft. Times were hard. People were working hard physical work and this guy looked like a grub, soft and white.

Chernovsky raised an eyebrow.

“That wasn’t all he said.” Preacher said as his free foot continued to scrape and slip on the wet floor.

“What else did you say?” Chernovsky asked.

The man was running out of breath and Chernovsky had to lean in to hear what he said.

“It was a joke. I said she would be a great girl friend because she had three pussies.” the man said.

Chernovsky frowned. What the man said made no sense at all.

“I don’t get the joke.” Chernovsky said.

“Yeah, she has the one between her legs and two on her face; one where the bullet went in and one where the bullet came out.” the man said.

Chernovsky considered himself a thoughtful man. He was as surprised as anybody when his hand came up and smashed the asshole’s elbow upward with the heel of his beefy right hand, dislocating the man’s arm. The man screamed and Walt stepped back in surprise.

“Get out of here and don’t come back.” Chernovsky’s voice was cold enough to freeze helium.

Things could have gotten ugly except Janelle heard what the loser said about her cousin.

Something in Chernovsky's unmodulated, atavistic defense of her cousin's honor thawed a part of Janelle's heart that had long been frozen.

Janelle felt as much as saw Gabby start forward.

"I got this." Janelle said. "Go back to your office and play with a spreadsheet or whatever it is you do in there."

Gabby was struggling to deal with her younger siblings as full adults but there was something in Janelle's voice that advised her to let Janelle handle the situation. Gabby walked away.

“Will there be any more trouble?” Janelle asked.

“Not as long as that jerk stays away.” Walt said.

Looking at the Preacher’s nine squad mates Chernovsky said “I don’t think there is much risk of him coming back.”

"Ordinarily I would have to ask you to leave." Janelle said. "But considering the circumstances I think the next round is on me."

After Janelle had served the men, Chernovsky asked 'Preacher', "Who is she?"

Walt told Chernovsky that Janelle was Dysen's cousin.

Chernovsky was enchanted. Some men are "breast" men. Others are "face" or "leg" men. Chernovsky was into the entire package. He favored healthy, aerobic dancers with muscle definition over ornamental girls with spaghetti-thin legs and painted on faces.

"Wow!" Chernovsky said. "She has a great set of legs."

It didn't hurt Janelle that she had lost so much weight that she was wearing the clothes that no longer fit Gabby. Gabby had the taste, budget and inclination to buy clothes that flattered a woman's figure, far more than Janelle ever had.


Dysen woke up later that afternoon with a bloated, throbbing head. She could tell by the wall paper and curtains that she was in Kate and Rick’s house. She assumed Nyssa was caring for her.

From the next room she heard voices she recognized. Chernovsky was ripping Quinn a new asshole.

“Can you give me one good reason why you blew the operation for a civilian?” Chernovsky said.

Chernovsky felt he had failed, the squads had failed because of Buddy’s death and the deaths of the two fighters who had been in the observation post.

“Sir.” Quinn started. “I finally figured out that Dysen was the girl that you said would be a member of my squad if she made it back to camp and pulled her own weight.”

Unseen by Dysen, Chernovsky made a hurry up gesture with his hands.

“I helped carry that first cooler full of cookies.” Quinn said. “By my figuring, Dysen hauled 90 pounds of cookies to camp in the first two weeks she was bringing us cookies. By that accounting she pulled her own weight back to camp.”

“It is my mission, as squad leader, to respond to threats to my squad members.” Quinn concluded.

“And sir, with all due respect, let me remind you that you never rescinded your command to protect Cookie Girl’s cargo and to take all steps required to never, EVER let it fall in enemy hands.”

Quinn, and Dysen in the next room, waited in silence for Chernovsky’s response.

Finally, “Well played, Quinn. Well played.” It was the first time Chernovsky had ever used Spackle's first name.

Dysen then heard the sound of Chernovsky’s footsteps leaving the room.

The beginning of the saga


  1. Nice. I always like your stories, please continue to write.

    1. Thanks for reading! I am glad you enjoyed the story.

  2. I'm going to miss this saga, ERJ. Thank you.

  3. Nice finish, but you left out the battle sequence.

  4. I truly enjoyed this story. Thank you for sharing it.

  5. Thanks ERJ, appreciate the story. I'm sure it takes much of your time so I thank you for the that. Thanks to for sharing some of your wisdom, you data weenie!

  6. Just finished a marathon reading of the whole saga and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for taking the time to write and share it.

  7. Read the wolething over the last two days.

    Two thoughts:

    1) That better not be the end, and
    2) You must not only finish the saga but also have it published as a novel. I'd be happy to help with the editing.

    1. I second that comment ERJ. Maybe not the editing, but definitely buying the book.

    2. Is your offer still good? I am looking for a few Beta readers.


    3. Please advise: I need an email address in order to send you the beta.

      You can email me at

      Very highest regards, Joe

  8. I have spent the entire day today,(7-14) reading this entire story. Many many times the eyes of this 60 yr old man filled with tears.....
    I was shown what was coming many years ago, and even though I have seen much destruction and death, I still dread what lays ahead....
    Thanks for the day with you !!

    1. Thank-you sir. It has been an honor and a privilege to spend the day with you.

      With regard to the future, it is not all on us. In the story, a fifteen-year-old connects the dots and supplies the community with a critical resource. A twenty-one year old gains humility and bakes cookies thereby stiffening the spine of thirty fighters. A twenty-two-year-old gets a career in broadcasting. A twenty-eight year old, has-been football player finds his niche and makes men out of boys. A bow-hunter in his early twenties almost single-handedly thwarts the forces of evil and saves his buddies and his community.

      On the other end of the spectrum, a seventy-five year old Wiccan, hippy, herbal gardener starts reconstituting the pharmaceutical industry and an eighty-year-old man (Mr Ed) becomes a focal point for the community and then integrates newcomers.

      At the family reunion, I watched my nephew "allow" his three-year-old daughter unhook the fish he was catching.

      Young people who were blessed with parents like my nephew will thrive.

      Death, destruction and rebirth lies ahead just like it did in 1914 and 1944 and Zero-A.D.

      Parts of each one of us will be launched into the future. We can be like my nephew or we can be like Wedgie Stubert. Your call. My call.

      It is not all on us. Folks our age are the conductors of the orchestra. Each instrument has its time and place. We have the wisdom and gravitas to ensure every instrument heard.

  9. Only found this story in the last couple od days and been reading it as fast as I can. Definitely enjoyed the writing and story line. Good to see common sense and logic from real people save the day. Unfortunately most post-apoc stories insist the main character been a former SEAL or Delta.
    My only gripe is there is a lot left to tell in this story
    (like where are the guys that got past the lines?) and would urge you to keep going! Thanks again for some great story telling!!

  10. ERJ, I work with a small publisher. Please contact me re getting this in book form. Not a scam! Use email elkriver at 4securemail dot com.

  11. Big thumbs up here also. Good story, interesting charectors, useful technical ideas and info. As a resident of Van Buren county, just a little west of where this story is set, it is fun to read a story that is set in a place I am familiar with.

  12. Wow, I recently found your site and have loved your story. I hated to see it end and vehemently wish for you to continue it! Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    1. Look here:

    2. Must say I was forwarded your story by a fried and was into it immediately. I'm sorry to see it end. It is definitely novel worthy.
      I have read, edited and written hundreds of stories and am happy to say your work is praiseworthy. Thank you for sharing it.