Dar was bending the Mayor’s ear when Jarrell joined them.
Jarrell let Dar say his piece.
Dar was discouraged. Yes, they had stopped...hell, killed...nearly a dozen raiders, but the pace of attacks was picking up.
More locals were joining in the effort but the sheer numbers were not in Eaton Rapid’s favor.
Even if they could hold off the first wave of raiders, the ones going to other areas would soon converge on Eaton Rapids after their assigned areas were picked clean.
There were just too many people in Lansing. They had too many trucks and there were too many miles of road, too many hours in the day and too many days in the month to mount an effective defense.
“We can kill twenty, even fifty raiders a day and in the end it won’t make any difference. There are just too many of them.”
In a word, Dar was discouraged.
Jarrell could see the Mayor sag as he assimilated Dar’s blunt assessment of Eaton Rapid’s chances.
A little flame of pride ignited in Jarrell’s heart. He had seen something, something that might help. He just had to be able to communicate it to the two, very different men and sell them a bit of hope.
The Mayor looked over at Jarrell and said “I suppose you are going to tell me you need a break.”
“No” Jarrell said. “I had an idea up there on the roof. It just came to me because my mind was wandering….
In Lansing, Victor Aiello approached “Barbecue-Man” and beckoned him, asking for a moment of attention.
“What can I do for you?” Rodney asked. He was sure he was going to get asked for the ammo still sitting in his basement.
“Do you have any more food or do you know where we can get more?” Victor asked.
Rodney’s eyebrows shot up. “I gave you everything I had. You mean it is all gone?”
Victor nodded his head sadly in the affirmative. “Fabulous Acres is twelve blocks. We have 250 houses and nearly 1200 people. What would have fed you and your wife for a year was one, good meal for everybody.”
Rod nearly blew his stack. Somehow he thought it would last longer. A lot, lot longer. And now it was gone.
Then Rod tamped down the flames of his anger and shook his head. “No, I don’t have any more food.”
Victor said “I didn’t think you would. But I had to ask. If you can think of anything, let me know.”
“This idea that came into my head, I am not sure how to explain it” Jarrell said.
“But like Mr. Spaulding said, you cannot kill the beast by cutting its hair. The hair just grows back.”
The Mayor and Dar were both exhausted. Neither had much left in the way of patience. But Jarrell had proven to be a sound thinker so they were willing to humor him just a little bit longer.
“So what do you propose, young man?” the Mayor asked him.
“Go after middle-management” Jarrell said, definitively.
“Don’t go after the top man. It is easy to replace one man. Go after the three levels below him” Jarrell said.
The Mayor scoffed. “What would that do?”
“Everybody jokes about middle-management, but what happens if paychecks don’t get paid, the lights don’t go on and trucks don’t show up? Things go to hell in a big hurry.” Jarrell said.
Then Jarrell got a boost from an unexpected quarter.
Gary had sidled up as Jarrell started his sales pitch.
“You know” Gary said “you never see West Pointers at the tip of the spear. They are too valuable. They might fly-in by helicopter for an unannounced, fifteen minute inspection but Big Green said they are WAY too valuable to risk outside of the Green Zones. Maybe there is something to what this young man is saying.” Gary said.
“Yeah, I hear you. But how are we going to get at ‘middle-management’. We don’t even know who they are” Dar said.
That is when Jarrell brought up a picture on his phone.
“I don’t mean to contradict you, sir. But they TOLD us who middle management is”
That is when Jarrell pointed to the list of signatures on the Letter of Marque he had photographed and then texted to the Mayor.
“I bet if we can get enough photos or copies of these letters, that we can flesh out their organization and can start whittling away at them” Jarrell said.
“But why wouldn’t you go after the Acting Governor?” the Mayor asked.
“Well, for one thing, he is probably very well guarded” Jarrell said.
“And for another, if we start thinning out the two levels just below the Acting Governor, somebody is going to notice and start wondering ‘Who benefits?’” Jarrell said.
“The way I read this Letter, the shares that would have gone to the deceased will go to the Acting Governor. Somebody is bound to figure that the Governor is knocking off his lieutenants now that he no longer needs them.”
“Once that happens, my thinking is that the Acting Governor will be walking around with a target pinned to his back.”