Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Shrewd King 11.4: The other guy's moccasins

“What did you decide?” Gimp asked Quinn the next morning.

“I am in” Quinn said. “And I talked to Mike Prego and he is in, too.”

“First thing I wanna ask, what was different back in March and April? Why were you guys so good back then, and now...” Gimp let it trail off. He didn’t want to sound like he was criticizing.

“Back then, we were fighters. We moved. We practiced, red team-blue team. Now...” Quinn paused, trying to think of a comparison.

“Now we are like rent-a-cops at a self-storage place.” Quinn finished. “Anybody can do that.”

Gimp nodded his agreement. That squared with what he had seen.

“Put yourself in the shoes of the attacker. Assume they learned from what worked and didn’t work before. How would you attack us, knowing what you know now?” Gimp asked.

Quinn thought for a minute. “The first thing I would do is poison Fido” Quinn said, pointing at the camp dog.

“Then I would stage troops in vehicles nearby while I sent in scouts to kill the observation posts.” A small shiver ran up Quinn’s spine.

“How would you do that?” Gimp asked.

“I would do it at night or I would use a grenade during the day. Maybe put over-watch here” pointing at the sniper hide where they were talking “to pick off anybody the grenade didn’t get.”

“Then what?” Gimp asked.

“I would put a dozer blade on the lead vehicle to push the road block off the bridge.” Quinn said.

“No explosives?” Gimp asked, surprised.

“Nah, they would be afraid of damaging the road too much, plus it would make too much noise. They are going to count on surprise.” Quinn said.

“After pushing away the road block, I would send a bunch of armored vehicles through, maybe two or three to each target.” Quinn said. “It would be over before anybody had a clue.”

A grim assessment, but one that was close enough to Gimp’s that there was no point in quibbling over details.

Quinn shrugged. “I don’t know how to fix that.”

“Same way you eat an elephant” Gimp said. “One bite at a time.”

“The first thing you mentioned, ‘poison the dog’. Do you know what a muzzle is?” Gimp asked.

“Yah, that is like the mask a catcher in baseball wears.” Quinn said.

“A lot of them are. And I will work on getting some of those made. But you can also loosely tie a band around Fido’s jaws and keep him on a leash.” Gimp said.

Quinn shook his head. “Fido isn’t going to like that.”

“He will like getting poisoned even less.” Gimp noted, dryly. “He is here for a reason. He is a working dog. His uniform now includes a muzzle and a leash.”

“I also want you to start practicing red team-blue team.” Gimp said.

“No problem, as long as we can leave the observation post unmanned.” Quinn said. Quinn was looking forward to not having to be there.

“That is not going to fly.” Gimp said. “Chernovsky’s orders are that it be manned. to find a way to man the observation post and practice red team-blue team.”

Quinn was shaking his head. There was just no way.

“We can add to Chernovsky’s orders but we cannot ignore them or disobey them.” Gimp said.

“Even if all you can manage is one reconnaissance patrol each day and have them check out potential staging areas, that is way better than being sitting ducks.” Gimp said.

Quinn was still shaking his head. He was asking for help and all he was getting was more assignments.


Ms. Sheridan organized and coordinated the efforts to get manure to, and on, the farmer’s fields.

The first priority was given to the piles of well-rotted manure that were closest to the farmer’s fields.

The composted manure was far easier to shovel on to hay wagons and easier to spread once at the field than any other material and it was available in gross amounts.

Ms Sheridan did not give the horse owner’s a choice. She said it was something that had to happen and nobody thought to push back. After all, it was just manure.

As in all endeavors, some men were gifted at shoveling shit while others were less gifted. The less gifted shoveled the shit onto the wagons. The more gifted shoveled it off and laid it out in even, six-foot long strips between the rows with each toss of the shovel.

Ms. Sheridan keep an eagle-eye on the proceedings and quickly deduced that spreading the manure on the fields was the bottleneck. She juggled resources and had two wagons spreading for every wagon being loaded.

There were only enough people pressed into service the first day to work on Farmer Ken’s fields.

The second day there was a steady stream of wagons servicing Farmer Ken, Don and Earl’s field.

Even more people were available on day three as they went to the Luke or Kate’s store and found no corn for sale.

The limiting factor shifted as the closest manure piles were depleted and the transportation part of the cycle took longer.

There were more horses available, even if they were not well trained for drayage. The problem was the shortage of harnesses. Ms. Sheridan strong-armed a couple of women who had re-upholstered furniture and a man who had laid carpet for a living. She had them adjusting old harnesses or making new harnesses from yellow tow-straps.

Meanwhile, she had the “volunteers” transporting composted manure in wheelbarrows. In the beginning, they complained loudly. It took them an hour to load the barrow and make each two-mile round trip.

Ms. Sheridan shut them up. “Every load you bring adds a bushel of corn to the harvest. Where else are find work where eight hours of work will net the community eight bushels of corn?”

In fact, Ms Sheridan had done the math and a 6 cubic foot load of manure netted closer to two bushels of corn but she didn’t want anybody to get too comfortable and to slack off.



  1. Something tells me the community is going to get hit again, and sooner than they think. Methinks our fighters and their leaders are getting serious again none too soon.

    And it is gratifying, and I daresay....glorious, to see the community coming together to shovel shit. Amazing what the prospect of not eating can do for peoples' motivation.

  2. Question: Hard physical work burns calories by the ton. There's no corn for sale. We can figure that folks have some food set aside, but how long is this going to last? Long enough for the harvest to come in and that corn get turned into eatable foodstuffs?

    1. By my reckoning, we are in the first week of July. Roasting ears of field corn starting about August first. Wheat planted as winter wheat will be harvested late July. Spring wheat will be harvested in September. Main corn crop starting Nov first after it dries down.

      Story-wise, we have about another half-week to the next auction. Ken pretty much told Pete what the reserve was going to be.
      Pete and Kate are doing everything Ken "suggested" so will likely have enough credit.
      Kelly has a boat-load of credit.
      Benicio is flush with solar panels which are as good as cash.

      Who does that leave?

  3. Interesting that nobody is fighting back...yet...


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