Monday, January 13, 2020

Impress gang (fiction)


Miguel seamlessly slid from deep REM sleep to total wakefulness and was slipping out from beneath the covers even as he contemplated WHY he was awake.

Miguel had already been romantically involved with his girlfriend for a year when he turned eighteen. Unfortunately, Rachel was still sixteen.

Miguel and Rachel were unwilling to stop their relationship even though Rachel’s parents, especially her dad, were hell-on-wheels when they saw Miguel. The simple answer was to ensure that Rachel’s dad never saw Miguel.

Miguel developed a preternatural ability to sense when the rhythm of the house changed, even when in the deep sleep that often follows intimate relations with the love of one’s life. Rachel and Miguel were still together four years later.

That ability to sense negative energy entering a house saved Miguel that night.

He slid the window open and took a quick look in both directions. He tossed his clothing out the window before hopping out himself.

Miguel had very briefly considered taking his pack but had decided to leave it. Whoever the ‘bad guys’ were, they would look close to the house if they thought he was coming back.

Miguel had no intention of coming back. He could always make another peddler’s kit.

Miguel didn’t stop to dress. He grabbed his bundle of clothing and stayed in the shadows. Looking back, he could see a “paddy wagon” and could here several unhappy voices coming from it.

Clicking his tongue to call Dog, Miguel made an executive decision. He was not going to try and find Quinn. That would entail moving closer to Howell, closer to danger.

Finding Straeder would be a hit-or-miss proposition because Straeder’s path was not predictable.

The next peddler out was Wilder. Miguel would try to find Wilder.

Putting on his shorts, Tee shirt and shoes, Miguel broke into a ground eating jog as he headed away from the house where he had been sleeping two minutes earlier. He had the contents of his pockets and his brains. It would have to be enough.

*

Quinn had not been sleeping in a house but the impress gang had no problem following the tracks of his push-cart on the sandy road.

The last house he had stopped out had turned him in for the bounty. Livingston County was paying a price for every able-bodied man between the ages of 15-and-40.

Quinn couldn’t outrun the impress gang. He couldn’t slip away because he didn’t know the lay of the land. He couldn’t outshoot them.



*

Straeder was also scooped up. He stayed with a family he had stayed with several times before.

The woman of the house turned him in. She was under the impression that she could trade Strader in and her husband would be returned.

The impress gang laughed at her. They gave her the same chit for a hundred pounds of flour that they gave everybody.

*

It took Miguel two hours and twelve miles of running to find Wilder. He would have completely missed him if Dog hadn’t barked at Wilder’s dog.

Miguel wanted to push on and find Chernovsky after he briefed Wilder but Wilder insisted that he spend the remainder of the night in Wilder’s camp. At first light, Wilder and Miguel moved the camp deeper into the puckerbrush.

Miguel was frantic, he needed to inform Chernovsky.

Wilder said, “I don’t think that will be possible.”

“Why is that?” Miguel asked.

“Straeder passed through the night before last. He and Chernovsky had a falling out.” Wilder said.

“In Straeder’s words, Chernovsky is ‘off the reservation;.” Wilder said.

“Exactly what does THAT mean?” Miguel asked.

“It means that Chernovsky dumped out his pack and told Straeder to go-fuck-himself.” Wilder said.

“Chernovsky said we didn’t have time, so he was going to make us some more. Said he was going to create a diversion.”

“So what are we going to do?” Miguel asked.

“The mission didn’t change.” Wilder said. “We are here to do reconnasance. The only question is do we travel at night or pretend to be peddlers and travel by day.”

“If Straeder catches up with us, that is fine. If he doesn’t, that is fine, too.” Wilder said.

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