Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Shrewd King 1.2: The Maginot Line

Red Bow-ties are the locations Rick initially proposed for forts/observation posts. Red circles are where local militia is sufficient to hold the line.

Chernovsky cleared his throat to get everybody’s attention. Chernovsky was not much of a policy guy but he had a firm grasp of the nuts-and-bolts end of things. Chernovsky wanted clarification on the external enemies.

“Specifically, regarding the pressure from the east and the west: How many roads must be guarded?” Chernovsky asked.

“Bell and Rossman to the west.” Rick Salazar said. “Rossman, Wilbur, Kingsland, Columbia, Island, Bunker and Petrieville to the east.”

Chernovsky shook his head in dismay. “Do any of those roads cross any geographic features that can choke traffic? Bridges? Swamps? Muck bogs?”

“Bell and Rossman in the southwest corner have bridges across some steep-banked creeks and muck fields to either side of them but the roads on the east side are wide open.” Rick said.

Chernovsky was familiar with Rossman, Wilbur, Kingsland, Columbia and Island. His fighters had trained across that stretch of land. He was less familiar with the other roads.

“There aren’t enough people.” Chernovsky said. "I could have ten times the number of fighters and it would barely be enough."

“I thought you just said your fighters killed three-hundred hostiles in less than four weeks.” Wade Hawk said. “Why is this any different.”

Chernovsky paused a moment to construct a meaningful answer.

“We had very favorable terrain.” Chernovsky started out. “That is part of why we set up two-to-three miles north of Rossman, that is where the terrain most favored the defender.”

“We chose to defend ground that funneled the hostiles into our kill-sack. We did not have to chase them down. That makes all the difference in the world.”

“Finally, the three roads were close enough together that fighters could easily flow from one position to provide backup for another squad.” Chernovsky said.

“There is a big difference between three roads that are two miles apart and" pausing to count the red bow-ties Rick had drawn on tiny, yellow sticky-notes and affixed to the map "ten roads across flat terrain that eight miles corner-to-corner.” Chernovsky said.

“Even if the pressure is not as intense?” Pastor James asked.

“Especially if the pressure is not as intense. We burned out in four weeks. You are talking YEARS of deployment.” Chernovsky said.

“I had a good look at the young men who did not volunteer and I was not impressed.” Chernovsky said, thinking of the young man who had been in a bar-fight with Walt Shaw. "We don't have the people for that plan."

“We can stop up the threats from the north and west.” Chernovsky said. “And we can have a centrally located ‘quick reaction force’. But we cannot replicate the Maginot Line.”

“We are going to have to table this discussion.” Rick said. “I propose that we throw barricades across the roads that lead east out of our territories. A crashed Lincoln SUV that crossed the river on the M-99 bridge was found on Columbia, so that should be the first road we spike.”

Chernovsky said “I think we should hold off on building barricades.”

Blue bow-tie is Eaton Rapids responsibility. Gray roads are paved and brown roads are gravel.

“How many bridges cross the Grand River?” Chernovsky asked.

“Let me think.” Rick said. “M-99, which Eaton Rapids City had been guarding, Waverly, Columbia, Bunker and Petrieville. What is that, five of them?”

Chernovsky said “Petrieville is almost in Eaton Rapids City limits. We should let them guard Petrieville and we can guard the others. They should jump at the chance to guard a bridge that is a couple miles from city limits if it is a trade for one that is more than ten miles out."

"Guarding four bridges over the Grand River is much more doable than guarding five roads where hostiles can outflank us by simply walking out into a field and then attack us from our rear. Bridges are natural choke points and the river banks are favorable elevation.” Chernovsky said as he stood up, peeled the bow-ties from where Rick had placed them and moved them more to his liking.

“Don’t see how we are going to manage the land between here and the river. That more than doubles the area we have to control.” Wade Hawk said. He could be negative when an idea was not his own.

Chernovsky looked around Luke’s store where the meeting was being held. “I don’t know that you have to ‘control’ it.”

“Just do what you did here. Put a couple of stores a few miles east of here and they will manage themselves.” Chernovsky said.

Luke rolled his eyes. “I can barely manage this one. I can’t manage two more of them.”

“So find somebody who used to work in a 7-11. Can’t be that hard.” Chernovsky said.

“Where would we find merchandise?” Luke asked.

“What about those trucks that raided your mom’s store. They cannot be totally picked over.” Chernovsky said. “Bags of corn on consignment. Trade for other merchandise. If you let people from across the river trade at the stores, then they can bring salvage from Lansing.”

“It can’t be that hard. Get the right person, get it started and it will take care of itself.” Chernovsky said.


Luke was mad enough to spit. He had just put out two jars of peanut butter and they had disappeared into thin air. Merchandisers use the neutral sounding term “shrinkage”. Normal people call it theft.

Luke was stomping around and talking to himself when he realized there was a customer in the store.

“Sir, I can help you with your problem.” Luke swung around and watched as a slightly built, east-Indian man with a pencil-thin mustache emerged from behind his shelving.

“I am sorry, sir. I don’t remember your name.” Luke said, instantly into his polite, public persona.

“My name is Prakash Shah.” Mr Shah said.

“Did you see who took the peanut butter?” Luke asked.

“No, but it would not matter if I had. Once the merchandise is out the door it is gone.” Mr Shah said. “That is just the nature of theft.”

“So, how do you propose to help me?” Luke said.

“I will help you help yourself.” Prakash said.

Luke shook his head. He did not like riddles, especially when he was frustrated.

“Can you be more specific?” Luke asked.

“Your shelves are the problem.” Prakash said.

“How so?” Luke asked.
Yellow splashes are windows
“They are much too tall and they run the wrong way.” Prakash said.

“Explain.” Luke said.

“Your cash register should be near the middle of the room, closer to the door than to the back. The shelves should be much shorter and you should be able to look down all the aisles from the cash register.” Prakash said.

Luke looked from his cash register island, which was along the back wall, at his six-foot tall shelving.

“We just built this shelving.” Luke said.

“Then you can just modify it.” Prakash said.



  1. Easiest way would be to move the checkout next to the front door and turn the whole array 90 degrees if people couldn't sneek out the back. Getting locals to run stores in the annex reminds me of a comment in a fiction work describing caravans in China after Kublia Kahn died and the mongol empire was in some disarray. Basicly nothing stops trade one way or another.

  2. Nicely played. And I foresee a manager in the making... ;-)

  3. I have to wonder about a return to the old stores that had all merchandise BEHIND the counter. Our way is predicated on mass bulk sales "paying" for shrink. Once that luxury is gone, you aren't going to make up theft with increased sales due to convenience or Impulse Buys. Reminds me of the idiots who kept the old practice of pumping gas BEFORE you paid. What is the purpose? People need gas, period. The Pump First policy only brought in more business from thieves.


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