Friday, June 18, 2021

Remnant: Taking names and kicking...

The first time Melody ever saw her father drunk was three days after they buried her mother.

Dar pulled the bottle of whiskey out of the cupboard, unscrewed the cap and methodically worked his way through the entire bottle.

That was not to say that she had never seen him have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner. That was a regular event. What she had never seen was him set about the business of becoming drunk, seriously, stupidly drunk.

Dar was not a heavy man. About five-eight and still tightly knit of whip-cord and sinew he was one-seventy-five in his skivvies. The fifth of 101 proof bourbon hit him hard.

It took four shots to peel the grim exterior off of him. Then the stories came bubbling out.

Two-thirds the way down the tears started welling up.

Dar slammed the shotglass down with finality after downing the last shot some six hours later. He was back to grim.

He fired a glance over at Jarrell and said “You and me are going to have a little talk tomorrow morning.”

Then he hauled himself up and wobbled over to the kitchen door. He puked over the rosebushes and then put himself to bed after downing a tumbler of water.

Melody was worried. She had just lost her mother and she feared her father would crawl into a bottle.

Jarrell advised her to give it some time. “If he wasn’t a drunk before, than one bottle of whiskey isn’t likely to turn him into one.”

Jarrell had run into more than his share of whiskey-bottle epiphanies while at the University.

Friends and roommates would get drunk after soul-crushing disappointments: Failed classes, rocky break-ups with girlfriends and the like.

Sometimes they picked up the next morning (after the hangover abated) as if nothing had happened.

Other times they would careen off in totally unpredictable directions. It was as if the booze dissolved the inhibitions and allowed the mind to add apples and orangutans and end up with automatic transmissions.

Jarrell could hardly wait until morning to see if Dar remembered his desire to have a long talk.


Dar not only remembered but he woke Jarrell early and insisted he join him on his morning run.

In his prime, Jarrell could have pushed Dar. But not today. Jarrell was winded at the end of the five mile run.

Dar said “From now on, I am in training.”

“Training for what, sir?” Jarrell asked. Somehow the “sir” seemed warranted.

“That depends on how our conversation goes” Dar sidestepped.

That was a puzzler.

Dar was positively loquacious over breakfast. It was as if he were interviewing for a job. He coldly and clinically reviewed his strengths and then followed by outlining his limitations.

Then he did the same for Jarrell. He didn’t pull any punches. He characterized Jarrell’s ability to protect Melody as “barely adequate but improving daily”.

“You and I are very, very different people” Dar observed. “I am a doer. I am like a mousetrap that snaps shut or a predator that strikes from ambush.”

“You are a thinker, a planner and a dreamer” Dar characterized. “You see how things fit together.”

All this left Jarrell a bit confused. Dar generally talked in simple sentences that went in straight lines.

“Everyone and everything I care about is in that room” Dar said, jabbing his thumb toward the room Melody and Jarrell shared.

“Everything else I ever cared for is dead to me now. Somebody killed it” Dar said. “I am a simple man. Eye-for-an-eye. Tooth-for-a-tooth.”

“My problem is I cannot sort out the targets from the stage-props” Dar said. “I need targets and I think you are the man to tell me who they are.”

Jarrell could not argue with Dar’s assessment. Dar was three levels above Jarrell when it came to the nitty-gritty of life in the street. He also, modestly, agreed that he was at least three levels above Dar when it came to how corporate, bureaucratic minds worked.

“I won’t lie to you” Jarrell started out. “I could give you a few names but it wouldn’t make a difference.”

“It would make a difference to me” Dar said, evenly.

“Hear me out” Jarrell said.

“I can give you names and even some addresses but they are pawns. The machine is like an iceberg. Nearly all of it is underwater, out-of-sight” Jarrell said.

“You can kill ten or a hundred of them and they are no more than so many pairs of disposable gloves to ‘the machine’.”

“So you won’t help me” Dar said.

“That is not where I am going with this” Jarrell said.

“Do you remember that demonstration outside the Capitol January 6th?” Jarrell asked.

Dar snorted. Who could forget.

“It was never about the election” Jarrell said. “It was about the contents of the laptops that walked out and were never recovered. That is why both parties and the Judiciary and the Pentagon and Big Tech and the media are still totally hysterical.”

"That is why EVERY person they could identify was rounded up, jailed and many of them tortured for information."  

“Fifty years ago spies could only write a few lines on a piece of paper using their urine for ink. Or they could take one or two pictures with a camera. Not any more.”

“Do you know how much information can be crammed on the 15 Terabyte SSD of a state-of-the-art laptop? Except for the fact that the information is tainted, there could be enough ‘dirt’ to convict half of the elected officials in America and to coerce 20,000 judges and filthy secrets that would drive 500,000 families into divorce.”

“What does that have to do with me?” Dar asked. He was a very concrete man.

“Grady Fulsom is the Acting Governor. All of the money trails lead to him. My sources tell me that he took up residence in a secure compound on Torch Lake.” Jarrell said.

“Bring back his laptop and I can give you a list of thousands of soft-targets. Maybe even tens-of-thousands. I can give you the names of the people who killed Leslie to put two more pennies in their pocket” Jarrell said.

---Author's note: This is where I am going to end this story. If it is any solace, Dar Spaulding lived for another twenty-five years. He also became absent minded and lost several gross-lots of 4", straight blade screwdrivers in that twenty-five years.

Assume what you will. ---


  1. I have enjoyed the story and hate to see it end. Thanks Joe. Looking forward to the next one, hopefully --ken

  2. I thought that Dar's wife died of a stroke while sitting in a chair one evening while Dar went to the kitchen to get her a glass of water. How is her death connected to the governor sending out teams of men to kill and butcher people's cattle? What am I missing?

    1. Some people profited or gained power by enabling the destruction of the norms that make our civil society possible.

      Who benefits from Chicago murder rate, Portland, Seattle and Minneapolis' decent into 3rd world conditions?

    2. I found that to cause and effect to be a little attenuated too. At least too attenuated to warrant what I inferred happened.

      At that rate, why not have him go after all the eco-terrorist groups that took out the pipelines and powerlines etc. in the first place?

    3. Here's the way I took the ending-there are all sorts of people at all levels who bear the responsibility for our societal breakdown. Organizationally, it looks like a starfish-big center with parts branching out, doing things. Getting just one or a few parts, even to the point of chopping up the starfish, won't fix the problem. As long as the starfish is in parts, those parts can regenerate a new starfish. We need to grind the starfish up into fertilizer.

  3. Well done! Nothing like ending on a cliffhanger...

  4. Bravo on another compelling story, sir.

  5. It's never the straight screwdrivers in my house. I can find a zillion of those. It's the Phillips that always go missing.

    1. The advantage of a straight bladed screwdriver is that you can carry it around anywhere and it is just a tool. A quick blessing with a file or even a tiny patch of exposed concrete will sharpen the 3/8" edge that will easily punch through bone.

      An unsharpened screwdriver will work but are more likely to skip and then the element of surprise is lost.

    2. Ohhhhhhh, (as we say in our house) rain-BOWS. (i.e., when someone says the obvious and someone else misses the point)

      But I guess with a screwdriver like that, you can't miss the point.