Chernvosky needed intelligence.
After some very discrete research, he found an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting near Milford.
The venue took him back to his youth when his father took a six-year-old Hunter to meetings because he could not find somebody to watch him.
If anything, the musty room in the church was even mustier, courtesy of the lack of heat, the ‘coffee’ was even more stale and bitter and the people more beaten down.
The chairs were arranged in a rude semi-circle. He picked a chair away from the entrance and moved it back a couple more feet. He felt like a fraud.
It was a small meeting. Only six more people showed up.
They were mostly wrapped up in their own problems and did not give Chernovsky much attention. That was EXACTLY why he chose an AA meeting. He wanted to stay anonymous. He tried to sit-small to downplay his size.
The leader lit a few candles for light as the sun was setting.
She read the Preamble and then had a volunteer read the serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Then individuals had a chance to introduce themselves….or not. Chernovsky chose to not introduce himself.
Two of the men told their life-stories. One was young. They other looked much older than his forty calendar years. The other attendees had obviously heard the stories before but they were encouraging.
The leader then focused on Step Four, “to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
That is something Chernovsky had failed at. He had rushed into marrying Janelle and had a baby on the way. He had killed men and led other to kill hundreds of men. Men, his own men, had died due to Chernovsky’s failings.
By some peoples accounting, Chernovsky was an alcoholic. He drank sparingly most nights to help him sleep. He never became incapacitated because the enemy rarely RSVPed their arrival.
By Chernovsky’s figuring, he wasn’t an alcoholic. He could turn it off. He used it at night the same way he used caffeine in the morning, to synchronize his sleep and wake patterns with the rest of humanity.
After the meeting he helped put the chairs back.
One of the men, Dave, looked at Chernovsky and asked if he had eaten dinner.
Chernovsky said “No.”
“Its easier to stay sober when you take care of yourself. Despair is often nothing more than an empty belly.” Dave said.
Dave lived a quarter-mile from the church. Dinner was scrambled eggs and toast. That night Chernovsky slept in Dave’s barn.
Quinn found himself at Joel’s warehouse getting introduced to the other fighters as NCO Spackle.
Quinn kept his mouth shut. He was sure it would all become clear in time.
Shepler, the other NCO, was a roly-poly man in his late thirties. Judging by his purple lips, the pronounced network of veins on his bulbous nose and his wheezing, Shepler had cardio-vascular issues.
Shepler said, “My plan is that you and I have thirteen-hour shifts with an hour of overlap at each end for communication.”
Quinn nodded, that sounded reasonable.
“The fighters will have eight hour shifts and take rotating lunches. That means we will be splitting one of the shifts. Do you have any thoughts on that?” Shepler asked.
Quinn knew that Capiche had no plans or ability to attack the Livingston County food warehouse. Highland/Milford/South Hudson did have the ability. If they attacked the warehouse, that would increase the pressure on Livingston County to attack Capiche.
Quinn scratched his ear as he thought. “What do you think of shifting start-stop times so we are heavy with people just before and after sunrise?” Quinn asked. “I would rather have ninety minutes of overlap at dawn and thirty minutes at the other end.”
“And the fighters, is there any chance we can have staggered starts for the two shifts that work late night, morning? The idea being we will be doubled-up when an enemy is most likely to attack? Quinn asked.
That set Shepler back. He asked Quinn if he had opinions as a courtesy. Shep knew that Quinn had been a crippled peddler and been shanghaied off the street. The last thing Shep expected to hear from Quinn were some germane suggestions to improve readiness.
“I will have to think about that.” Shep said.
“Sure, no problem.” Quinn said, agreeably. “But if we do it, we better make the offset enough to get real benefit or we will have just pissed them off for no reason.”
“Just off the top of your head, how much overlap do you think that would be?” Shep asked.
“I dunno. Maybe start the doubled-up period two hours before sunrise and have it end an hour afterward. That means, of course, the times will change through the year because sunrise changes.” Quinn said.
That gave Shep pause. He saw this berth as a roll of the dice. It was a cozy gig if nobody ever attacked but he figured they would all die if the warehouse was experienced a determined attack. Quinn’s aggressive, but reasonable suggestion gave him hope that maybe they could prevail if attacked.
Back in Capiche, Chernovsky's wife Janelle miscarried.