Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Remnant: Moving things the old fashioned way

Figuring out how to move the 600 pounds of grain from Eaton Rapids to Fabulous Acres proved to be a much tougher problem than the Aiello brothers anticipated.

Lansing, like many cities, was surrounded by a ring of limited access “Interstates”. In the case of Lansing, the outer ring was almost square and measured 10 miles on a side.

The Acting Governor had roadblocks set-up on every road that went over or under the Interstates. He was deadly serious about stopping any food “smuggled” into Lansing that he was unable to “tax”.

The obvious solution was to get some trusted residents from Fabulous Acres jobs at the road blocks.

“No way, Chico” the head guard laughed in their faces. “You have to know somebody to get one of these jobs.”

Few jobs have more opportunity for graft, corruption, bribes and the petty exercise of power than to be a Customs Agent. And the most desired positions of all were the ones on midnight shift.

Victor and Hermes discussed the possibility of slipping over the Interstate in the dark-of-night but further intelligence gathering indicated that the roads were patrolled by various types of vehicles. The guards were armed and had no inhibitions about shooting at shadows.

Maybe one or two people could manage to slip over the Interstate but the neighborhood needed a dozen men to carry the six-hundred pounds and it needed to happen every night.

Barbecue-Man was the one who thought of the duck-boat.

Rodney had a 14 foot long jon-boat that was painted in dark, smudged colors to resemble marshy vegetation. He also had an electric motor and a deep-cycle battery.

The battery was brought to full charge by running a vehicle and tapping into its battery.

In the dark-of-night, the boat was transported beneath a tarp and launched in the Grand River at the end of Jolly Road. From there Antonio, a slightly-built 17 year-old rowed the boat up-river. Luckily, the river had almost no current as it was dammed a couple of miles downstream.

The Grand River flows from South-to-North (bottom to top). The North-South road passes over the Interstate so the church is masked from view of the Customs station

After two miles of rowing, he passed beneath the Interstate and another two-hundred yards placed him behind the Dimondale United Methodist Church.

Six-hundred pounds of corn in fifty-pound sacks were loaded into the bottom of the boat.

The young man needed help pushing off. The combined weight of the corn, the young man and the battery put the boat almost 300 pounds over its weight limit.

The bags of corn were perfect ballast, the water was still and the motor low power. Antonio’s biggest risk would be if he plowed into a sandbar he could not push the boat off of or if he hit a partially submerged log. If he didn’t hit the log square, there was a slight chance he could roll the boat.

Antonio motored back downstream, keeping his speed low enough that there were no sounds of the water being pushed by the bow.

He didn’t go to Jolly Road but stopped a mile short where power-lines crossed the river. Fifteen men were waiting at the outside of the bend. The bags of corn were quickly removed from the boat and deposited into a grab-bag of pack-baskets and back-boards. The three extra men were for security. It was a six-and-a-half mile walk back to Fabulous Acres.

The young man returned to the sandbar behind the Methodist Church and his brothers, the four-strong-backs on the butchering crew, collected him and the boat. They stashed the boat beneath some forsythia bushes that were just starting to bloom. It was invisible beneath the vivid, yellow flowers looking so much like dried, winter weeds. The men put the motor, battery and oars in the back of the truck they had borrowed.

Back, beneath the power-lines, the fifteen-men took off with two armed guards in the front and one at drag.

They marched under the powerlines until they hit Williams Road. Then they traveled north until they  hit Jolly Road. As soon as they hit the Lansing city limits they were bracketed by massive, Section 8 Housing Projects. Lansing, in a political power play, had packed the tiny sliver of Eaton County within city limits with subsidized housing to flip the electorate of that county.

The fifteen men moved at a quick walk and they moved almost silently. They continued east on Jolly past Waverly, moving into Ingham County. Both sides of the road were now very urban.

They did not percolate through the neighborhoods. The neighborhoods had their own gangs and enforcers. It was better to risk the police.

Police drove around in vehicles. With almost no civilian vehicles on the road, it was not difficult to melt into the scenery until they had passed.

They stayed on Jolly for a total of two miles. Then they turned north on Pleasant Grove road for two miles, then east on Mount Hope until it hit Fabulous Acres.

It had been a long day for all parties.


  1. That is a well executed strategy for getting 600 lbs of corn past the goon squads looking to tax it or outright confiscate it. And they might get away with it for a few nights, or a week, or even several weeks. But sooner or later they are going to slip up or just be unlucky.

    There are too many moving parts - a clandestine cargo delivery, a boat trip up a river, a drop off to human mules, and finally a six mile hike through potentially hostile territory. Once their operation is blown, and OPFOR knows the ending destination of the nightly cargo run, our friends at Fabulous Acres had better have a viable Plan B and even a Plan C.

    1. YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT IN EVERY DETAIL. And so are the other comments.

      Effective problem solving usually follows the following path (Not in the language that people in Fabulous Acres would use)

      A.) Stop the bleeding. Elegant can wait. Execute. Execute. Execute.
      B.) Refine the plan but continue to execute.
      C.) Implement the elegant, longer term solution but never stop executing.
      D.) Figure out why the bleeding occurred and address the conditions that caused the leak.
      E.) Roll out Step D. to every other environment that suggests a leak will occur.

      It would be stupid to use the same route every night. The working men of Fabulous Acres are not stupid.

      Infiltrating and compromising Customs Stations is not an over-night thing.

      A half-pound of grain a day is about 1000 Calories or the difference between losing four pounds a week or losing two pounds a week.

      The Rube Goldberg plan buys them time.

      Let me quote a story by Mr. B. "I had a friend who suddenly showed the signs of arterial bleeding. I did what I had to do. I got him to the Emergency Room with a pulse. The doctor gave me crap about the tourniquet I had kludged together. I told him "Better you should be bitching me out than the undertaker."

  2. Better to have a selected roadblock boss or two suffer accidents. If the replacement isn't amenable to your needs, then wash, rinse, and repeat.

  3. Well executed, but too 'busy'... Agree with Anon...


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