Friday, October 4, 2019

The Shrewd King 11.5: Dialing in

The next time Gimp and Chernovsky rode into Spackle’s camp they were both surprised to discover he was not there. Nor were Squirrel, Jason or Miguel. The only one of Chernovsky’s fighters who was in attendance was Mike Prego.

That is not to say Mike was alone. Nope. There were two elderly gentlemen sharing the observation post with him.

Chernovsky’s eyebrows gathered like thunderclouds. “Where the fuck is Spackle?” he demanded.

“Him and other guys are out training.” Mike replied.

“Who are these guys?” Gimp asked.

“These are the guys you told Quinn to hire, remember?” Mike said.

Now it was Gimp’s turn to look confused.

“Where did you get the money to hire them?” Gimp asked.

Mike smiled. “We trapped a couple of coons at the dump. Two coons buys six man-days. They turn in the hide for the bounty and keep the carcass to eat.” he said pointing at the two gentlemen who looked to be in their seventies. “Then we trap a couple more.”

One of the older men, obviously the extrovert spoke up. “My name is Roger. Wanna thank-you for the chance to get out of the house. Alice, my wife, can be a terrible nag. Your idea of having us hold down the observation post while your boys train has been a god-sent for us.”

The other man was nodding. If anything, his wife’s tongue was even sharper than Alice’s. “My name is Randy.” was all he said.

Gimp’s mind was spinning at a furious rate. “Seems like a pretty good deal all the way around. We get three people in the OP and get four fighters training for eight hours.” he said.

Randy spoke up. “Sixteen hours. I just needed to get out of the house so you are getting me for free until my shift starts.”

As painful and as out-of-character sitting still is for most young men, it comes easily to older men. The only thing they moved were their eyes, and sometimes a slight, slow turn of the head. They kept a piss-bottle by them, although they rarely needed it. What doesn’t go in, cannot come out.


Two miles north of Quinn’s Observation Post, Quinn was patrolling with Jason and Miguel, the two new fighters who rotated with him, and Squirrel, the fighter who rotated in the opposite direction with Mike.

“First, we cover the ground on foot. Things look different on foot than they do when you are riding in a truck at sixty miles an hour.” Quinn was telling them.

“On foot, you will see differences of a couple feet in elevation where you can drop down out-of-sight.”

In that manner, they continued to move north until they hit M-99. Then they followed M-99 northeast until they hit I-96. Then they turned west and followed the I-96 right-of-way but avoided being skylined.

Hitting Canal road four miles to the west of M-99, they traveled south until they touched base with the OP south of Dimondale. Then they reversed course and returned home retracing their steps.

“I want you to be looking for places where attacking forces can assemble.” Quinn said. “Moving forces is always a cluster-fuck and they need to be sorted out just before battle.”

“We are looking for staging areas just south of choke-points because choke-points are where things get scrambled.”

Just as they turned south at M-99, Squirrel said “There.”

Quinn’s mind was elsewhere. “What?”

“There. That is where they will assemble.” Squirrel repeated, pointing at the five lanes of M-99. In better times M-99 just south of the freeway hosted three fast food restaurants, two gas stations, two car washes, a convenience store, a bar and a church. Now it was a ghost town.

M-99 had access ramps to I-96 and was one of the few, good arteries from Lansing to Eaton Rapids. Furthermore, it angled southwest from the freeway and crossed Waverly Road. Whether the forces were coming from Lansing or from the east along I-96, they would probably use M-99. From there, they could turn south at Waverly Road or continue along M-99 and attack at the M-99 bridge.

Given prior history, Quinn would be willing to bet that they would split up and do both.

Footsore and tired, Quinn also mentally tagged the corner where M-99 and Waverly intersected. Technically, it was a better place to monitor because it would also pick up any raiders who headed south out of Lansing down Waverly road. In practice, that corner was only two miles from the Observation Posts and might only give a few minutes of warning. Monitoring the likely staging area was likely give defenders an additional twenty minutes.

The next day Quinn was in camp with the two older men, hobbling around while Mike, Squirrel, Jason and Miguel made another patrol sweep.

Quinn was disgusted with himself. In April, he could have RUN the eighteen mile loop with no ill effects the next day. But then, in April, he had not been shot in the ass. His muscles were still adjusting to taking over the load from the muscles that no longer existed. He would be hurting for a while.

Quinn had Randy down at the shooting range when Chernovsky and Gimp rolled into camp. Quinn was trying to teach Randy to shoot. It was slow going. Randy jerked the trigger and then always broke stock-weld after every shot to see where he hit.

Roger was manning the Observation Post.

Gimp didn’t want to disturb Quinn so he asked Roger, “How’s it going?”

“Pretty good, I’d say.” Roger responded. He handed Gimp a paper plate that had been used as a target. “Timed fire, prone position, hundred paces.” Roger said.

There were ten holes in the plate and Gimp could cover them with his hand.

“You can take the boy out of the Marines but you cannot take the Marine out of the boy.” Roger said.

“How is he doing?” Chernovsky asked, pointing down toward the shooting range with his chin.

“About what you would expect from somebody who learned everything he knows about shooting from watching cop shows on TV.” Roger said. “I loaned him one of my AR-15s, so at least he has decent equipment to work with.”

“Now if you will excuse me” Roger said “I have to do a sweep with the binos.”



  1. Two thoughts:

    1) Glad you got off the internal proceedings. it was beginning to read like the Star Wars legislation scenes;

    2) Needs maps.

  2. It would be difficult to list all the different ways that old guys can be of great help. While they no longer have the physical prowess to go out running and gunning with the young fighters, many of them are ex-military, and have been around the block many times. As such, they know many things, and are probably reliable in the extreme.

  3. Being a not-quite-as-old guy as Randy and Roger, I approve this message!


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