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At The Podium Part 1
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  1. #1

    At The Podium Part 1

    Authors Note-
    I began this story awhile ago and have over 80 chapters which i will post here over the next few weeks.

    At The Podium
    Joe Quick

    Joe Quick the speaker was still trying to clear the snot out of his nose. Since he had Allergies and Asthma the tear gas affected him worse than the attendees that didn’t suffer any breathing or respiratory problems. It would be safe to say of the attendees that almost half were still struggling with the aftereffects of the gas like Joe was. Joe could here a guy 10 feet way having dry heaves. A woman next to him was crying because she had soiled herself from the wracking cough and the vomiting the tear gas caused.

    He looked as the EMT’s tried to revive the women 20 feet from him. 1 of the Paramedics was calmly administrating CPR using the latest American Heart Associations Guidelines while the other quickly set-up an Automated External Defibrillator. The thought that passed thru Joe’s mind was why?

    Why did somebody think that disrupting his speech to a dozen people was going to change anything? In many ways the Country has reached the point were they were divided equally or close to it on the important issues of the day. The Health Care Bill, Gun Control and Abortion came to mind.

    This act of stupidity may cost a woman her life. Tonight somebody may find out that a wife, mother, grandmother, aunt or friend died from listening to somebody share a thought or two. It seemed senseless.

    As a TV news van pulled up to the barricade the women was rushed to the Ambulance and the vehicle took off with its sirens going full blast. Joe counted 6 Police vehicles, 2 Fire trucks and 4 Ambulances.

    While somebody played at Anarchist the local citizens were being denied the emergency services that had descended on the small bookstore in a strip mall.

    Joe was considering his next move. As the speaker the news people may want to interview him. But Joe was a prepper and always avoided drawing attention to himself. The speaking engagement was a favor to the owner of his favorite bookstore and look what that had caused.

    Indecision clouded his actions while the sweet clean air coursed thru his lungs and he began to cough again. Joe felt the anger, it assaulted him with a release of bile into his stomach and he could almost taste the acid that his stomach was releasing in the back of his throat. He’d talk.

    With the decision made he drinks down the rest of the bottle of water one of the Policemen had given him.

  2. #2
    At The Podium
    Part 2

    Joe walked over to the News Reporter standing next to the van as the cameraman was deploying the telescoping mast.

    “Excuse me, I’m Joe Quick. I was the speaker at this event.”

    The attractive 30 year old brunette reporter turned to face him,
    “Mr. Quick, I’d like to interview you for the 10:00 news.”

    Joe removed from his pocket the HD tape,
    “I was discussing the land re-distribution aspect of Social Justice, 20 seconds after I said it was a terrible idea a woman stood up and tosses what appears to be a tear gas grenade. I’ve got the HD tape of the incident. A woman collapsed after we got outside and the Ambulance crew was doing CPR on her when they left. What I’d like to know is what this tape of the event is worth to your station? I’d also like to be granted a full 30 seconds unedited to denounce this tragedy. I’m willing to offer your station a 18 hour exclusive, excluding general news conferences.”

    The reporter had her phone out and was dialing the station,
    “Barb this is Chris, I’ve got the speaker for the event standing beside me and he says a women chucked a tear gas grenade during his talk on Social justice and property redistribution. A woman collapsed after they got outside and they had to perform CPR on her. He’s was taping the event with an HD camera and will let us use it with an 18 hour exclusive. Can we get him 30 seconds unedited to denounce the attack? What is that worth? OK hold on.”

    The reporter turns away from the phone and Joe has wondered over to the news van that has just pulled up.

    After 5 minutes he walks back over to the 1st reporter,
    “Well did you get a price?”

    The reporter looks at him and gives a quote,
    “We can do $1,000 if the tape is any good and can give you 20 seconds.”

    Joe scratches his head,
    Well for $1,000.00 I’m thinking unlimited local rights only. Nothing national or cable without my written permission and I can live with 20 seconds as long as I’m not edited at all. I agree to an 18 hour exclusive”

    The reporter stretched out her hand and Joe shook it,
    “Here’s the tape. You’ll need to copy it and if you could make a copy for me I would appreciate it. I think the Police will need the original. Do we sign some sort of agreement?”

    The reporter grinned at the other news reporter staring daggers at her from the van parked 20 feet away. She knew he was seething; he was famous for his temper tantrums.

    The reporter turned back to Joe,
    “Yes Mr. Quick we sign some paperwork and they can cut a check in the morning. Let’s see what you got on that tape.”

    The reporter stepped over to the van as Joe followed and handed her cameraman the tape. After putting the tape in the machine and rewinding it he played the tape. After the tape finished playing everybody was quite.

    The reporter was speaking quietly,
    “Well, I think this will do nicely. Bones can you make 2 copies of that tape and give me the original and 1 of the copies? Also hand me the release forms from the drawer.”

    Joe spoke to the reporter,
    “I want the check to be paid to the bookstore owner personally, is that a problem?”

  3. #3
    At The Podium
    Part 3

    Joe Quick borrowed a mirror from the reporter and tried to make himself presentable. His nose, eyes and face were all red and puffy from effects of the Tear Gas.

    Thinking he had done as good a job as possible he stepped over to the reporter. He had talked to her about her questions and she assured him she’d go easy on him.

    She adjusted the earpiece in her ear,
    “Joe we’re just about ready to go.”

    The cameraman pointed at them and counted it down,
    “In 5, 4, 3, 2.”

    The reporter began her live shot,
    “Breaking news. We’re at the Timeless Book Store in Olida. 30 minutes ago a speaking event was interrupted by a woman that threw a tear gas grenade into the crowd. During the evacuation 1 woman collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. I’m speaking with Joe Quick the speaker it the event. Can you tell me what happened?”

    Joe remembered to pace his words and not get flustered,
    “I’m the Chair of Sociology at Jackman County Community College and I was speaking out against Property Redistribution as it was recently endorsed by a speaker at a Social Justice Forum. When I mentioned that Property Redistribution hasn’t worked in the past a woman in the crowd stood up yelled something and threw what I’ve been told was a Tear Gas Grenade. ”

    The reporter asked her first follow up,
    “Was anybody injured?”

    Joe answered,
    “Everybody in that room was affected by the Tear Gas including one woman that collapsed 5 minutes after we all got outside. Crews were doing CPR on her as they rushed her to the hospital.”

    The reporter asked her second follow-up question,
    “He many people were in attendance?”

    Joe paused he had forgot to count them,
    “A little over a dozen.”

    The reporter shifted slightly into the camera,
    “We’ll have exclusive tape of this tragedy that may have cost a woman her life at 10:00.”
    The cameraman spoke,
    “And we’re out. Chris it looked good. Joe you did a good job and other than the red and puffy face I think you’ll be happy with your performance.”

    The bright TV lights faded and you could here them releasing their energy.

    The reporter turned toward Joe,
    “Thank you so much. I think you did a good job on-camera and I’d like to do a follow-up when you’re up to it.”

    Joe nodded and turned away.

    A Police Detective was standing 10 feet away and was clearly waiting for Joe,
    “Mr. Quick, I’m Detective Black and I’m the Counter-Terrorism investigator for the city. I will be spearheading this investigation and need to ask a few questions. I know this has been a surreal day and I apologize for the inconvenience.”

    Joe walked over to the Detective and leaned over and talked softly,
    “The woman that they took away, did she make it?”

    Detective Black leaned over,
    “Joe you can’t tell anybody yet, but she died. We are in the process of notifying the family. We’ll release the information to the press as soon as the family notification is done. It looks as if she has family in the area so it might be as early as later tonight”

    Joe sat leaned heavily on the bumper of a nearby Police cruiser,
    “After the notification I’d like the name so that I can send flowers to the service. That woman was at my other speaking engagement here and I talked to her for a few minutes.
    She seemed nice and was very polite, she didn’t deserve this.”

    Detective Black paused,
    “No Mr. Quick she didn’t. I can’t emphasize it enough that you must not tell anybody prior to the release by our office.”

    Joe nodded and reached into his pocket,
    “Detective you have my word. Here is the tape of the event, I hope it helps.”

  4. #4

    At The Podium Part 4

    At The Podium
    Part 4

    Joe finishing giving his statement to Detective Black and did another segment with the news reporter.

    He was tired and wanted to go home and take a shower but needed to retrieve the HD camera he had borrowed from the school. He went to find Detective Black,
    “Excuse me Detective Black, can I get the video camera back from inside the bookstore. It belongs to the school I work at and if I can’t get it back I’m in trouble.”

    Detective Black scratched his head,
    “Let me see what I can do. Can you give me 5 minutes and I’ll talk to my superior.”

    Joe went to find Michelle the owner of the bookstore. She was finishing up talking to a Policeman and turned toward him,
    “Michelle, I’m sorry about this. I can’t believe somebody would do this to your store.”

    Michelle replied,
    “It’s not your fault. I asked you to speak at the store. Do you know if that poor women made it?

    Joe felt bad about misleading the owner,
    “I don’t know. I’m sure the news will release her condition on the news tonight.”

    Michelle paused,
    “I feel so bad I never considered that a 20 minute talk could make somebody do something like this. I opened the store 10 years ago. It’s not overly profitable but I can’t imagine living without seeing the friends I’ve made at the store. Hopefully after the insurance people look at the store I’ll know if I can stay in business.”

    Joe hugged her, stepped back and handed her the agreement,
    “I hope your store can make it. I sold the tape of the attack to the news. They will cut a check for $1000.00 to you in the morning. Just give them this receipt.”

    As he got into his truck Joe was hoping he made the right decision to speak at the bookstore since his words had caused the death of a woman. The death of the women was weighting on his mind as he drove home. He hoped that the morning things would look better.

    When Joe got home and checked his messages he had a few from friends and family stating that they had seen him on TV and wanted to make sure that he was OK. He did call his mother since she worried, everybody else could wait till the morning.

    Joe was woken up by the ringing of his cell phone, a friends name appeared on the screen and he let it go to voicemail. After getting ready he went to work and started his day.

    When he got to his small office Joe checked his e-mail and was retrieving messages on his office phone, the first message was a shock to Joe.
    “Hey asshole, rot in hell.“

    The e-mails were just as bad, 6 of them.

    The final count on voicemail was 4.

    The only good news was that they were all you’re an idiot type of message and no death threats.

  5. #5
    At The Podium
    Part 5

    Other than the harassing communications Joe’s morning was basically the same as any other morning. He taught some classes and returned the HD camera to Media thankful it didn’t get damaged last night. At lunch he met Mandy Peters his girlfriend of 6 months in the cafe. The cute 6 foot tall 30 year old Peters often was stared at. It seemed to Joe a few people were staring but it was hard for Joe to tell if the others were staring at the guy from the TV or the cute 6 footer.

    Mandy was poking at her Turkey Sandwich with a fork as she spoke to Joe. Her eyes not leaving the sandwich,
    “Joe, were you on the news last night? My mother called and said a guy named Joe Quick was doing an interview in front of some bookstore. She has never met you, I have mentioned your name a few times so she called and asked. Honestly with my mother it wouldn’t surprise me to find out she ran a background check on you to see if you were good enough to date her only daughter.”

    Joe finished chewing the bite of the turkey and bacon club in his mouth and offered an answer to her question,
    “The owner of the bookstore asked if I’d give another talk at her weekly Discussion Night. I told you about it, remember you said you had a thing last night and couldn’t make it. Well, some crazy lady stood up in the middle of it and lobbed a Tear Gas Grenade. It was not very much fun, one of the women in the room had a heart attack after we got outside and died. The books might be unsalable and Michelle may lose the store. All in all it wasn’t a very entertaining evening. Oh and did I mention that Olida has a Domestic Terrorism Detective that is working the case.”

    Mandy was astonished,
    “That thing last night was Heather’s Lamaze class. She’s 8 months pregnant and as big as any pregnant women I’ve ever seen. Let’s get back to you. You mean your little talk incited somebody to terrorize a bookstore and somebody died?”

    Joe nodded,
    “Yes, with me and about a dozen other people in it. I had borrowed a HD camera from the Communications Department to tape the talk so that I could work on my speaking style and got the whole thing on tape. I sold the tape to a news channel and did an interview. I’d watched the lady die not 10 feet from me Mandy. I had met her last time I spoke. She was nice and didn’t deserve to die because some asshole thought that stifling free speech was the same as offering a legitimate point of view. ”

    Mandy was reaching behind her and taking her laptop out of the case,
    “Which station, I’ve got to see this?”

    Joe was smiling because Mandy was passionate about things and her excitement could be contagious,
    “Channel 5, I don’t remember the call letters. You can look it up.”

    2 minutes later Mandy was watching the tape of the speech with Joe and his phone rang,

    The voice on the other end sounded professional and had a New York vibe to it,
    “Mr. Quick, I’m Rachel Pugg from Fox News Channel. I’m a producer/booker for the evening line-up and wanted to talk to you. I imagine that you’ve had a few interesting calls so if you want to look up my number and call me back I’d understand.”

    Joe reached into his pocket for a pen and wrote her name on a napkin,
    “Rachel I haven’t got any death threats yet, but the day is still fairly young.”

    Rachel laughed,
    “Yes it is, Sir. Yes, it is.”

  6. #6

    At The Podium Part 6

    At The Podium
    Part 6

    Joe found the Fox Network number on the internet and called the switchboard which surprisingly answered by a real person and not an impersonal voicemail system. Joe was stunned, how many times to you call a huge company and talk to a real person? He was transferred by a pleasant sounding women with an exotic accent he wasn’t able to place and listened while Rachel Pugg’s extension rang. He used the time to place a few sheets of paper in front of him for the notes he would be taking any second now.

    “This is Rachel Pugg in booking speaking.”

    Joe paused knowing this could be big,
    “Rachel, this is Joe Quick.”

    Rachel started right in,
    “Joe thanks for calling me back. I’ve seen the tape from the bookstore attack last night. I understand a woman had a heart attack and died is that correct?”

    Joe replied,
    “Rachel that is correct, she died on the ground not 10 feet from me. I watched as they did CPR hoping to bring her back. I think it might have been a reaction from the Tear Gas that was sued during the attack, that stuff is god-awful. Most of us were on the ground coughing and that led to puking, it was quite the experience.”

    Rachel paused taking in his first person version of the experience,
    Yeah that Tear Gas is nasty, nasty stuff. I’ve been hit with it a more than a few occasions.
    And if there is an underlying medical condition it can really be bad. I did a segment with a Police Department with full safety protocols in place and having that stuff ready helps quite a bit. In the field without quick access to water will burn the experience into your memory?”

    Joe nodded even if the other caller was unable to see it,
    “We were lucky; the Fire Department was on-scene 3 minutes after the call to 911 was placed. Those guys had plenty of water and told us the most effective way to treat our symptoms.”

    Rachel segued to her next topic,
    “Joe this may seem a little strange to you but this story has some legs. As I might have mentioned I book guests for the evening line-up and a few of the hosts would love to interview you about what happened to you. As you can imagine the “mainstream media” hasn’t mentioned this incident fearing that it was carried out by their friends in the extreme left. Meaning their type of people killed an innocent lady for fear of what you said. That makes them nervous since they tend to want to downplay the violent aspects of their party’s true believers. The radical environmental and animal rights movements have put more than a few people on the Most Wanted list.”

    Joe paused and was thinking about how far he wanted to go with this. He thought about the women that had died and his resolve continued to be firm,
    “Rachel I’m interested, what can you tell me about the process.”

    Rachel answered,
    “Well we are interested in buying the rights to the tape and would like you as a guest on 2 or 3 of our shows. Since most people aren’t trained to be on a live national news program the hosts will treat you with your lack of experience in mind. They want to hear about the experience, that’s most likely what their audience is interested in. The subject of your talk is the reason you were attacked and nothing more. If you watch our network you know most our people agree with your viewpoint.”

    Joe nodded understanding and a shimmer of fear inside him dissipated. The thought of arguing with trained professionals on live TV held no interest for him,
    “Rachel if you’re saying that we wouldn’t be adversarial at all then I can live with that. Anything else first-timers tell you?”

    “Joe here’s the most important thing in your case. More important than money which I heard you gave to the bookstore owner. And that is security. If you ever talk to a Republican that has ran in a Traditionally Democratic area or a conservative that has been on our programs they will tell you that the left is vicious. Shooting into offices, picketing, internet character assassination, lawsuits, pranks, they’ll target family and neighbors and death threats are common. This is a serious business with serious consequences; we want to be very upfront with you about this.”

    Joe fidgeted with his coffee,
    All this because of what people say, it sounds like they are attempting to infringe on the Right to Free Speech. How bad is it?”

    Rachel answered,
    “They are attempting to remove certain voices from the dialogue. Because of this constant threat we have very good security here at out studios. The guys you see on our channel are constantly surrounded by bodyguards. More than a few wear protective vests when in public or any other place they are vulnerable. They are harassed in every phase of their personal life on a regular basis. One of the commentators was assaulted by a soccer dad 2 weeks ago at a game for 5 year olds. On that occasion security had been loosened at the commentator’s request, luckily he had some training and prevailed.”

    Joe asked the question of the day knowing the answer,
    “Why do they do it?’

    Rachel paused,
    “I work for commentators so I’ll only comment on the guests that I have personally met that have braved the juggernaut. They think it’s important, so important that they risk all sorts of bad things to speak out and share their thoughts without reservation. Joe I think maybe you are one of those people. They are special people that feel the way they feel and personally I think they are good Americans.”

  7. #7
    At The Podium
    Part 7

    Mandy sat next to Joe and watched as her mild mannered boyfriend wheeled and dealt like he’d been doing it his whole life. While Joe talked Mandy had used her computer and done a search on Rachel Pugg. She had shown Joe what she was able to find. Rachel’s Facebook page showed that she was a news veteran and had been around some big shows.

    Joe agreed to a price for the videotape and agreed to be a guest on 3 shows over the next 24 hours. Since he had committed to an exclusive with the local news channel his first appearance was on one of the shows later that evening that had smaller audience. He was to get to the local television studio 45 minutes early and a stylist would assist him with his wardrobe choice and do his make-up.

    A local security consultant with body guarding experience would be assigned to access his security situation and deal with the threats that might arise. His fee was paid by the network and he would accompany Joe to all taping and live interviews.

    The Security consultant was ex-pd and had lost a daughter on 9-11. Rachel assured Joe that he had no love for terrorists either foreign or domestic and would provide him his full attention. The consultant was fully versed on the latest in threat assessment and was an affiliate of a Company that did a lot of work with movie and TV personalities, sports stars, musicians, rich businesspeople and politicians.

    Mandy could hear some of other side of the conversation and was shocked at the shows the booker was offering him. From hearing just one side of the conversation Mandy thought that Joe could end up on Oprah or Larry King Live.

    Joe finished up with Rachel,
    “Well Rachel I guess I’ll be looking for your e-mail and talking to you later. Thanks, wish me luck.”

    Joe hung up and looked at Mandy,
    “I’m not going to make dinner tonight unless you like that all-night burger place on Main.”

    Mandy stared at Joe,
    “I could get a chicken sandwich. Can I come with you to the studio?”

    Joe hesitated,
    From what Rachel told me at some point this could get a little dangerous. You can come tonight but after the morning I’d recommend that you pass on the experience. They’re hiring a security consultant and we’ll figure out if it’s safe for you to join me or not. It would mean a lot to me to have you there.”

    Mandy smiled,
    “Oh, we’ll see about that. You need me to pick out your tie and make sure it’s straight.”

    Joe’s phone rang and he answered it,
    “Bryce thanks for calling so quickly. Rachel mentioned we need to look at my house and do an assessment of my security risk factors. She also said that you know what you’re doing so give me an e-mail address and I’ll send over my address and you can send me the paperwork.”

    Joe listened carefully and made a few notes in the notebook he had used when he was on the phone with Rachel,
    “Bryce, tell me what do you think about looking at the house today?”

    Again Joe listened and jotted down notes. Joe’s writing was so bad it was almost it’s own code and Mandy had a hard time deciphering it from the angle she was sitting at.

    Joe slid Mandy’s laptop around and began typing on it.

    After a few minutes Joe asked,
    “I can leave here and send it to you in maybe 5 minutes does that work?”

    Joe hung up the phone and turned to Mandy,
    “I need to get to my laptop and e-mail some stuff. Sorry about lunch. Hey, are you busy now you can come with me. I need to get a haircut. I don’t want my mom calling and harassing me for looking sloppy on national TV.”

  8. #8

    At The Podium Part 8

    At The Podium
    Part 8

    Mandy called her hair stylist and got Joe an appointment for a haircut. Her stylist agreed to see them as soon as they got to the shop and was true to his word. Joe got a shorter more respectable cut than his regular hair stylist usually recommended and Joe tipped the stylist $20.00 for fitting them in on short notice.

    Mandy marveled at how the new haircut gave Joe more of a sense of being a grown-up.
    That combined with listening to him talk to the Network producer in New York convinced Mandy that Joe could hold is own against the forces that would eventually criticize him for his out-spoken views on the violate issue of Social Justice. She didn’t envy the buzzsaw he was about to walk into.

    Joe holed up in his office and made some notes he thought might be useful. His main focuses were examples from some of the political changes that had been experienced in Africa over the last 20-30 years how those changes had affected everyday people. After a few hours in his office working he got to a stopping point and sat back in his chair and relaxed and visualized what he wanted to accomplish.

    As the darkness of night began replacing the sunny day Mandy knocked on his office door and they left for the studio together. Mandy offered to drive and Joe grabbed his backpack out of his office and followed her to her Honda SUV.

    Mandy didn’t talk much on the way downtown thinking Joe needed to get himself centered and mentally prepare for being on live National TV. Traffic was light and they made it to the studio with over an hour before he was scheduled to go on.

    Joe sat in the make-up chair while Tonya the assistant explained what she was doing and briefed him on how the ear bud and monitor worked. She explained that a slight delay was common and encouraged him to try to pace his speaking to the host to avoid talking on top of each other. She pronounced him ready and they moved into the studio to get him miked up and the camera set-up.

    10 minutes later he watched on the monitor as the host did his intro and he was on live TV.,
    “We’ve got Joe Quick the speaker at the event that was interrupted by an activist that threw a tear gas grenade into the small crowd at a bookstore. Joe, I want to thank you for being here with us tonight.”

    Joe replied,
    “Adam thanks for having me.”

    The network host continued,
    “Joe can you tell me what you were talking about that upset the lady in the crowd? I also heard that an attendee collapsed after the evacuation and died. Joe is this information correct?”

    Joe paused and dug in,
    “Your information is correct, an attendee collapsed and died on the way to the hospital from a cardiac event. I’m told the effects of the Tear Gas played a large part in her death.
    Adam I was discussing a video of a gentleman that advocated Property Redistribution as it applies to Social Justice. The video was from a recent conference in Milwaukee, videos of that event started hitting the internet within the last few weeks. I had seen it and thought I’d share a few thoughts about it.”

    The host looked at the camera,
    “Now let’s watch that tape.”

    The screen went to the 20 seconds before the incident and continued till after the room was cleared and Joe turned the machine off. The activist was in clear focus and almost centered in the shot. Joe had avoided watching the tape and knew later he would react to the women’s death.

    The host was efficient and Joe managed to hold his own without looking foolish for the remaining 5 minutes of the segment. The host thanked Joe for coming on the show and Joe returned the thanks and the segment ended.

    Mandy was holding Joes phone while they removed the microphone equipment from his waist. The phone rang and answered it.

    “Joe Quick speaking,”

    Rachel Pugg was on the other end of the line,
    “Joe, you did great. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of your interviews gets bumped to prime time. The tape is being used on a panel discussion at noon and I’ll e-mail the show information to you so you can watch it. Looks like you’ve got till 2:00pm tomorrow so get some rest.”

    Joe took Mandy to a nice restaurant downtown for dinner to thank her for her help. A few friends and relatives called during dinner to say they saw him on TV and tell him he did a good job.

    Everything was going well until Joe and Mandy were looking at the desert menu and the phone rang and when Joe answered it the digitally altered voice on the other side said two words.
    “You’re dead”

  9. #9
    At The Podium
    Part 9

    Joe hung up the phone and exhaled loudly.

    Mandy looked at the strange look on his face,
    “Is everything OK? You have a strange look on your face.”

    Joe regained his composure,
    “It’s just a death threat. The first in my life by the way. I’d better call Bryce and tell him what happened. They told me that death threats are fairly common and less than an hour after going on national TV they’ve begin.”

    Mandy smiled to reassure Joe,
    “Well you told me they are usually are just cranks and seldom represent a real threat to your safety.”

    Joe pushed the desert menu away deep in thought and answered,
    That’s true; I was hoping that the hoopla was just that. I’ll see what Bryce says and change my number in the morning.”

    Mandy looked concerned,
    “I’m not really interested in dessert anymore. Do you mind if we call it a night? We want to make sure that you’re well rested for tomorrow.”

    Joe was motionless as he answered Mandy’s question,
    “Thanks, if you don’t mind.”

    When they got to the car Joe called Bryce to tell him what happened. He suggested they meet in the morning before any of the taping began and work up a game plan.

    The next morning found Bryce at Joe’s front door. Joe’s 5 acres outside the suburbs were outside city limits and offered some flexibility compared to areas closer to town. He had a good relationship with his neighbors and hoped that if things got worse they’d keep an eye on his place. Bryce examined the house and let Joe know the alarm salesman was stopping by later. Bryce had worked with the security company representative before and felt comfortable with him and the company. The plan was to design the system today and have a system installed the next morning.

    Joe also told Bryce about his Concealed Carry Permit and asked about carrying his weapon from here on out. Bryce agreed that he would be a good idea and wanted to see his carry piece.

    Joe got his Ruger LCP out of the safe, removed the magazine and cleared the weapon. Bryce examined the weapon for function and cleanliness, finding it was well maintained and seemed to function properly. Joe told him that he used an inside the pocket holster and always carried 2 spare magazines.

    Bryce nodded,
    “Well, let’s see if you can shoot it. Can you fire weapons out here legally?

    Joe looked at the man,
    “Sure that’s no problem.”

    Bryce set up an empty milk jug on a sawhorse that they drug out of the small outbuilding. Joe managed to get consistent hits from 3 to 12 feet without a problem.
    Bryce was happy with his gun handling and shooting.

    He had Joe clear the weapon and watched him remove the weapon from the pants pocket of his khakis several times. Joe seemed well practiced and Bryce was happy.

    The alarm company’s representative showed up and they all walked thru the house together. His suggestions were for a basic system with a few extra windows wired into the system and the addition of a smoke and heat detector. He also recommended cellular back-up and a drive way notification monitor that Joe could order over the internet. The driveway monitor was wireless and simple to install. He promised the alarm system would be installed the next morning and Joe signed the papers for the alarm installation and the monitoring contract and handed the man a check.

    Joe went upstairs too shower and shave. After getting dressed Joe and Bryce headed for the studio for the next appearance.

    Again Tonya did his hair and make-up and got him ready for his appearance. Joe was again a tad nervous about his appearance. This show was the second highest rated on Cable News during the day. With the host on vacation a judge that was a regular contributor was the host and Joe hadn’t seen him and didn’t know what to expect.

    5 minutes into the segment Joe was waiting for the opportunity to unleash his roundhouse. He had answered 2 questions from the replacement host already and it was almost time.

    Joe hesitated just 3 seconds after the question was asked and weighted in,
    “Well as a Sociologist the thing I find the most disturbing is that we see a parallel between the actions used in this instance that it is similar to the methods used in the Mideast with Suicide Bombings. The tear gas grenade could have been thrown from outside the building and the effect on the participants is the same. That removes the possibility of harm to the thrower. This willingness to put the perpetrator at risk is disconcerting to say the least and might reflect an adjustment to more aggressive tactics.”

    The host asked another easy question and the segment was over.

    Joe got up from the chair, removed his mike and drank half a bottle of water. He’d let one loose. Time to see what happens next.

  10. #10

    At The Podium Part 10

    At The Podium
    Part 10

    As Bryce was walking Joe outside after the taping he asked if Joe had plans for the next 2 hours. Joe mentioned he was free till the next interview and both men hopped into Bryce’s Black Suburban.

    Bryce drove for 15 minutes and stopped in front of an abandoned warehouse in a run down industrial area. Both men got out of the vehicle and walked toward the door. Bryce pushed a button on the intercom next to the door and a voice asked who it was.

    Bryce leaned toward the intercom,
    “12 W one. Code T.”

    A click sounded and Bryce pulled the door open. Joe was ushered into a well lit space. While not fancy it was clearly a shooting range. The space above where they stood contained a second level with a wide set of stairs descending in an open atrium type of stairway with plenty of natural light. The far wall was about 35 yards away and looked as if a million rounds had bounced off every surface between the shooting line and the bullet trap.

    A fit looking ruddy faced man with a slight limp walked down the stairs, he gripped the metal banister tightly. To Joe the man coming from upstairs indicated the upper area was finished as an office or an apartment. He looked at least 50, his head was shaved and his face bore a thin scar next to his left ear.

    Bryce smiled and embraced the man,
    “Lazarus it’s good to see you. How are the kids?’

    Lazarus smiled as they came apart,
    “They are doing great. Melissa sent me cookies from school if you guys want a snack when you’re done. And this must be Joe. Joe just call me Lazarus, it’s nice to meet you. I saw your spot yesterday night. I’m guessing death threats?”

    Joe smiled,
    “Lazarus it’s good to meet you and yes death threats are starting to come in.”

    Lazarus started slowly walking toward the head of the marked shooting lanes,
    “Bryce says you’re carrying a Ruger LCP, is that correct.”

    Joe nodded and fished into his pants for the small weapon. He pulled it out as they reached the waist high counter and cleared the weapon and set it on the counter with the loaded magazine next to it.

    Lazarus checked the weapon a second time and pulled an exact duplicate of Joe’s weapon out of his waistband and cleared it before setting it down beside the first one.

    Next to it he placed 2 black Surefire G2s on the counter.

    Lazarus pulled a remote from his pocket pushed a button and Joe heard a motor gently whining and noticed the light from the atrium stairway fading. The room was now illuminated solely by the overhead lighting,
    “Today we work on low light shooting and presentation. I recommend you change into a pair of coveralls from the locker in the restroom and we will begin. The locker room has a shower and an assortment of toiletries so you can freshen up when we’re done. I believe we have 3 hours to get some shooting done before you go back on TV and piss off a bunch more people.”

    Joe did as recommend and changed into a grey pair of overalls that he found in the locker room. He had lugged his BOB into the warehouse and pulled a pair of white socks and his sneakers out and put them on to avoid looking foolish. Grey coveralls worn with tan socks and light tan trainers would never look good on any man. The small locker room was equipped with 2 stalls and a shower; it had an assortment of soaps in small travel size bars and 5 types of spray deodorant on the shelf above the side by side sinks. An 8 foot tall mirror rounded out the sink area. A stack of towels sat on a stainless steel cart next to the shower area. It actually had a row of lockers in it that looked like they were taken out of a factory in 1950. Joe noticed it didn’t have that funky smell that locker rooms sometimes had so he assumed it was well ventilated or seldom used.

    When he returned from the locker room Lazarus handed him a pair of goggles and ear protection and began to teach him the fundamentals of low light shooting.

    Bryce climbed the stairs to the apartment above the firing stations. Before he went upstairs he took Joe’s cell phone to avoid interruptions and told Joe to listen carefully. He explained that this was the foundation of his safety training and it was important to be able to successfully shoot in low light conditions since most firearms encounters involved less than ideal lighting conditions.

    Joe guessed Lazarus was an excellent firearms teacher and was amazed at how much material they covered. The buildings light could be extinguished little by little and as the training progressed they gradually worked with less and less light till they were working with just the aid of the G2 and its high output incandescent beam.

    2 hours later with their training complete for the day Lazarus walked Joe upstairs and offered him the use of his shower. The apartment was maybe 1200 square feet and looked comfortable. It was pretty much a loft with only the bedroom area and the bathroom having doors. The kitchen was equipped with a 6 burner restaurant style gas stove. One end of the small island doubled as an eating area with café height chairs. The original exterior brickwork had been retained and the rough wooden beams gave it a downtown loft feeling in the middle of the vacated industrial area. The loft had windows unlike the rest of the building and offered a nice view of the river less than a quarter mile away.

    Bryce was sleeping on the couch with his shoes off and as Joe headed for his shower he could hear his gentle snoring.

  11. #11
    thanks need more of this storyline, glad you came over

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2001
    West central Georgia
    Good work! It's an engaging story and I look forward to reading more. There were a few typos, but that's to be expected. And somewhere you used access when you meant assess.
    Visit my Etsy shop at

    If we aren't showing love, His love, then what are we doing calling ourselves Christians?

    Psalm 73: 25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
    26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

  13. #13
    I was hoping you would show up. Have followed your story on the other site.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Look forward to more!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    South Texas Boonies

    Thanks for joining the 'migration' over here - was enjoying your story and was afraid it had been lost forever.



  16. #16
    Thanks for the encouragement and the warm welcome. Looking forward to testing this place out since like many of us i'm in need of a site with some readers to bounce my work off.
    Funny but it seems that no matter how many times I read/edit the story I miss something. At this point the chapters that I've posted have been edited something like 3 or 4 times. I'll maybe work on catching a few more of the errors that seem to elude me and thanks for the heads up.

  17. #17

    At The Podium Part 11

    At The Podium
    Part 11

    On the way back to the studio in Bryce’s big SUV Joe’s cell rang,
    “Joe speaking.”

    The voice on the other line began,
    “Joe, my name is Dorth Mann with Lopen & Mann. We represent authors. I’d like to talk to you about your book.”

    Joe hesitated,
    “Mr. Mann as you might know some of my comments have irritated many people. I’m going to need to call you back to confirm you’re who you say you are. Spell your name for me please.”

    Mr. Mann replied,
    “I understand you being cautious. My first name is D O R T H. My last name is M A N N. My company is called Lopen & Mann in Manhattan New York. I look forward to hearing from you after you’ve checked us out.”

    Joe pressed end and continued to stare at the window as Bryce drove toward the studio.

    Tonya was at the studio as usual and got Joe ready for the segment. She commented that she could smell burnt gunpowder. Joe claimed ignorance as per his agreement with Bryce. Bryce had a set of guidelines for Joe to follow that maximized his safety and sharing training with strangers was a big no, no..

    Joe did the segment and managed to hold his own against a noted Liberal guest that clearly was looking for ways to make him look foolish. Eventually the Liberal with the Ivy League education made a snarky remark about Joe’s lack of education and commented on his Community College teaching position.

    Joe took the comment in stride and commented that as usual the Liberal had restored to personal attacks. The host clearly relished having the egghead resort to personal attacks which would be picked up and replayed on other shows.

    As Bryce drove Joe home he told him the plan for his training. He was scheduled on Saturday to spend the day at a small private driving course outside of town. The course specialized in teaching Protective and Evasive Driving.

    When Joe walked in the door he was beat. He walked over to his computer and checked his e-mail. The death threat count was rising which including e-mail was now at 15 and counting. Joe forwarded the e-mails to Bryce so he could analyses them using a Risk Assessment Program that would weed out the wheat from the chaff.

    As he was researching Dorth Mann and his company on the computer Mandy called.
    Joe answered,
    “Hey, how’s you’re day.”

    Mandy started slow,
    “Joe, I think we need to talk. Can I come over?”

    Joe knew this tone and it meant bad news,
    “Sure, no problem.”

    Mandy arrived 30 minutes later and gave Joe the “It’s not you it’s me” breakup monologue. She did share that her mother had called and was concerned with the death threats. Mandy said that it was essentially a difference in their core beliefs. Till recently she didn’t understand how much he disliked the Liberal Establishment.

    As she left she kissed him on the cheek and wished him good luck.

    Joe climbed into bed; he’d earned a good rest. Glad that he never shared his hobby with her.

  18. #18
    At The Podium
    Part 12

    Joe woke up the next day and went to work only to find a message from the President of the Community College. He requested a meeting at 10:00am which wasn’t really a request it was actually a demand to be followed to the letter.

    Joe had some time so he dialed Dorth Mann.

    He was put on hold for 3 minutes and was actually checking his e-mail when Dorth came on the phone,
    “Dorth, this is Joe Quick. I’m sorry I couldn’t get back to you yesterday, I was pretty busy.”

    On the other side of the line Dorth Mann paused and stepped into his spiel,
    “Joe, I understand. Listen I know you looked at our website and understand you have questions. Let me tell you why I called, I’m a man that grow up in publishing. My father started this company over 50 years ago and represented college professors trying to get published. Academia keeps score by publishing and we help them win and maintain their position by writing books that get published. If you look in our vault we have represented some highly respected authors in the past. I’m not proud to say we’ve also published some crazy stuff and been party to plagiarism by the authors we represented. I can also say that we have published some very good works by unknowns that broke into the mainstream. In the past decade we’ve focused on books with widespread appeal and supported them with regular publicity just like the big publishing houses. The works we get published now more closely resemble the core values of average Americans.”

    Joe wanted to get a quick word in,
    “Dorth why me? I’m a Community College professor with a few appearances on cable news.”

    Dorth laughed,
    “Joe you were a Community College Professor. In the next few months or so you will be asked to lecture and be a guest speaker at Colleges across the country. You’re experience on TV has catapulted you onto the radar of all sorts of interesting people. You’re experience and the footage you captured has lit up more than a few debates from the news programs to the halls of power in Washington.”

    Joe paused while trying to figure out how to ask the next question,
    “I haven’t really thought of what I would write about.”

    Dorth helped answer that question for him,
    “Joe you write what you know. You become an expert on the domestic terrorism that is seen from the left and the rise of their increasing violent activities. You have personally seen their methods and witnessed a death from their callous disregard for civil discourse. When they resort to terrorism they feel they are justified because they disagree with the opposing side’s actions or message. Have you seen the way the speakers are treated on college campuses if it offends their belief system?”

    Joe was confused,
    “You just said I’m going to be guest speaking at college campuses and then you tell me that my views will start pies flying thru the air or demonstrations everywhere I go. Why even guest speak if I’ll be subjected too that level of abuse.”

    Dorth sounded serious,
    “Views such as yours must be heard. We stand now at the edge of the battle and must decide to fight for the things that make this country great. I feel that you are a guy that can contribute to that fight. Since you released your tape you have helped expose the Looney left as the half-baked idiots that they are.”

    Joe laughed,
    “Well you sound like a man with a plan for me. Let’s hear it and we’ll both know it.”

    Dorth finished his pitch,
    “I’d actually recommend a ghost writer to speed up the process and try to have something done within the year.”

    And with that Joe Quick became a client of Lopen & Mann. He was personally represented by Dorth Mann. It seemed they had a commonality of purpose.

    As Joe walked up the stairs to the Presidents office he was wondering what the meeting was about. Since it was 10 minutes till 10am he had scant minutes till he would find out.

    As Joe walked into the President’s office he wasn’t surprised to see the head of legal sitting at the table next to the Schools President. 30 minutes later he was officially on Sabbatical and thinking about lunch and the research in front of him. Not necessarily in that order.

  19. #19

    At The Podium Part 13

    At The Podium
    Part 13

    The rest of the day that Joe became unemployed and a hopeful author was spent doing nothing remotely productive. He decided to read a book, catch up on laundry, play video games and listen to music on his laptop. All the while he tried to keep from freaking out at the recent turn of events in his life. For him the day’s events were a lot to process and the thought of financial ruin hovered in the back of his mind.

    By the time his head hit the pillow that night he had made peace with his new lot in life and was looking forward to the challenges ahead of him. He rested that night as well as he had in years knowing that this was maybe the single most transformable day in his adult life. The anxiety of the day had melted away replaced by excitement and the knowledge that the experience of the last 2 days would make him a better person.

    Joe Quick woke up the next morning and started doing the research that would help him write his book. Thankfully much of the material was available on the web and that decreased the amount of time that be would be needed to compile the statistics and studies that would make his point that violence was on the rise in the activism of the left.

    Newspaper queries clearly indicated that the left was resorting to increasing alarming levels of violence to make its point. They almost always justified their deeds by indicating they had a higher purpose and knew better than everybody else.

    Just the Animal Rights and Environment Groups accounted for more violence than the Militia Movements ever dreamed off. A search of Government Law Enforcement websites provided a snapshot into the world of extreme activism and the damage and destruction that was part and parcel of their efforts to change things into their image. The Government websites listed the various wanted criminals hiding behind the façade of making the world a better place and using terrorism as a tool to intimidate and/or influence the masses.

    The anarchy at a World Trade Organization, G8 or other group’s international meetings showed a need for some of the people in these groups to use vandalism, intimidation, street fighting and violence in their “Direct Actions” phase as a means of proving their asinine positions. Never mind the innocent fellow protestors or business people that were affected by their selfish and cowardly actions.

    By just hitting the high spots Joe found video on YouTube capturing disaffected youths in France, protestors at the G8 and IMF and WTO meeting. The protestors left behind a pile of garbage and damaged or destroyed shops, cars and buses. The black hoodie and ski mask crowd with their cell phone cameras and bandanas linked to “Black Blocs” left a trail of blood and damage wherever they showed up. And they always showed up.

    Joe knew these things were happening he just didn’t quite realize how dangerous these groups truly were. They had no regard for anything or anybody they just went crazy. Joe was shocked at how far these black clad terrorist were willing to go to make their point. The scary thing to Joe was that these fools believed they were making the world a better place and the lack of serious reporting by the media.

    The outline nearly jumped off the page as Joe quickly put down his thoughts for what he wanted to cover.

    After spending the day doing research and working on his outline he did a quick edit and called Dorth Mann.

    Dorth answered on the 3 ring and Joe jumped in,
    “Dorth, you were right. This will work, I’ve started researching these groups and they are interesting from the perspective of a sociologist and appear to have no qualms about who they hurt. I’ve completed a rough outline and I’m going to send it to you.”

    Dorth paused,
    “That’s good to hear, I told you that this subject is ready for a deeper look. These people need to be exposed for what they are. I think I might have found a writing partner for you. I’m sending information to you for two candidates and if you can look at their information in next few days that would be great. Might help you get an idea of somebody you can work with?”

  20. #20
    At The Podium
    Part 14

    Joe woke up and showered had a quick bite and called Lazarus at the shooting range. He had noticed that the shooting helped melt away the anxiety. Something about the focus he had found very relaxing and was planning on integrating sharpening his shooting skills as restorative activity.

    Lazarus answered the phone and Joe began,
    “Lazarus, this Joe Quick. I was hoping you had some time today to do some shooting. I’m thinking about getting out a few of my other guns and was hoping you could spare the time.”

    Lazarus laughed, a cold chill passed over Joe and Lazarus answered,
    “Joe, you’ve got an 18 hour credit here. Pistols, hand to hand, self-defense or basic rifle. You chose since the network got billed. I expect to see you on a regular basis, I sent an e-mail. Didn’t you see it?”

    Joe was surprised,
    “How did that happen?”

    Lazarus replied,
    “Simple, Bryce analyzed your threat intake and determined that you are at higher than normal risk for trouble for this area. The analysis factors in geographic location into the formula and this area has a low probability of risk. Your threats are more intense than the threats for this area. The network got the report and authorized a more extensive security package. I talked to Bryce yesterday and he said he e-mailed the report with his recommendations to you yesterday. You might want to check your e-mail.”

    Joe paused while entering his e-mail address on his laptop,
    ‘Here it is, your right the analysis is here as well as the recommendation you send. OK, how about we do 30 minutes of handgun training and the physical evaluation you need?”

    Lazarus replied,
    “That’s what I was going to say. Hey you like sandwiches? I know a place and you can buy me lunch.”

    Joe liked sandwiches,
    “Sure, what time to you want me at your place?”

    Lazarus answered quickly,
    “Make it 11:00. We’ll do the physical stuff and you can shower and then we eat. Bring plenty of sport drink and water and wear sweats. I need to go, see you then.”

    Lazarus was off the phone and Joe hung up and decided to call Bryce.

    As he was waiting g he had some more threats he forwarded to Bryce,
    “Bryce this is Joe Quick how are you doing today?”

    Bryce coughed like he just got up,
    “I’m tired. I assume you finally checked your e-mail or talked to Lazarus.”

    Joe answered,
    “Actually I called the range and Lazarus told me you were looking for me. I started researching my book yesterday and got tunnel vision. Also the alarm is installed and works great. Thanks for walking me thru that by the way.”

    Bryce coughed,
    “Good, you are shooting today? If you are I can meet you at the range and we can talk.”

    Joe liked the sound of that,
    “I’m supposed to be there at 11:00. 30 minutes of range time and after that I’m doing my physical evaluation. We’re going for lunch after I’m done. Care to join us and I’ll pop for lunch?”

    Bryce smiled; Joe could hear it in his voice,
    “That’s the best idea I’ve heard all day.”

    Joe asked,
    “You just got up didn’t you?”

    Bryce replied,
    “Yep, see you then. And bring a gun with more size than that girly gun; I’m surprised it’s not pink.”

  21. #21

    At The Podium Part 15

    At The Podium
    Part 15

    Joe pulled up to the warehouse at 10:50 and headed for the sturdy door. He pushed the button for the intercom and waiting a minute.

    Lazarus squawked over the intercom,

    Joe leaned toward the beige box,
    “It’s Joe Quick.”

    The door made its buzzy sound and Joe pushed it open and entered the space. Blue tumbling mats were spread over an area of about 10x10 feet and Lazarus stood next to the mats wearing red sweats.

    He started talking before Joe had his bag off his shoulder,
    “We stretch first then we work. If you threw up do it in the garbage can and not on the mats. You puke on the mats you clean it up, we clean to hospital standards so it’s a pain in the ass. We respect and follow Universal Precautions for all injuries and fluid spills. The AED is on the wall over there and we begin with a safety talk on its operation and a run thru its basic operation. I don’t expect you’ll ever use one but it’s better to know how they work than to be doing it under stress for the first time.”

    Joe was taken aback, he thought he was simply going to do some basic defensive stuff and the class begins with Universal Precautions and AED operations. He was glad he had a light breakfast.

    He walked over to the table set up and Lazarus pulled the AED of the wall and set it down,
    “I’m a NRA Certified Instructor for pistols, rifles and shotguns. Also I teach CPR, First Aid and AED which stands for Automated External Defibrillator for the Red Cross. I also teach BLS which is Basic Life Support, ACLS which is Advanced Cardiac Life Support and PALS which is Pediatric Advanced Life Support. I’ve gotten trained and I’m certified as a Paramedic and have other assorted training and Certifications. The reason I mention this is that I’m pretty good at this stuff and want you to be confident that the training you are getting is as good as an employee at a hospital. Actually it’s better since we are working in a one to one environment. Any questions? No, good, now go into that room and bring out the CPR dummy and the box next to it.”

    Joe did as he was told and the training began. Lazarus stated at the beginning that a Basic CPR and AED class was today’s goal. Then they started working on the Lazarus plan. The Lazarus plan was to stretch for 20 minutes and then go into the 20x15 foot gym in the corner of the building and hit the weights and run on a treadmill for an hour.

    As Joe walked wearily up the stairs to shower Lazarus was filling out paperwork. Joe grabbed his shower and returned downstairs where Bryce was telling a joke about 2 cops a monkey and a case of bananas. When the joke was over both men laughed and went to use the bathroom before they left.

    They took Bryce’s Suburban to the deli and on the way Joe had a question or 2,
    “So, how’d I do on the evaluation?”

    Lazarus smiled and turned around in his seat to face Joe in the back,
    “Well, I’ve seen better and I’ve also seen much worse. The First Aid stuff you did well at and show a natural aptitude. The physical stuff is going to take some work and you need to lose some weight. I’ll work up a plan and we’ll get there. Often times in street fights the better conditioned fighter will prevail. So we condition you to fight and teach you to win. We’ll focus on being able to recognize problems before they occur so that you can exercise a plan to avoid confrontations that can get you hurt or killed.”

    Joe wasn’t surprised,
    “Well I’m busy and was never much of an athlete so it makes sense that I’m not good at that stuff.”

    Bryce spoke up,
    “I e-mailed the results from your threats and I’m going to give you the short version.
    Most of the threats are posturing and aren’t dangerous. You do have 3 threats from 3 different senders that are of concern. Your remarks have incited a strong negative reaction from those senders and they most likely aren’t local. That being said we want to train you up and increase your viability in any defensive engagement. That will require a commitment to eating better and exercise; in addition to that a round of self-defense training will round out your skills for now. You mentioned something about a book?”

    Joe replied,
    “Actually I’ve got an agent and began research yesterday. The college suggested a sabbatical and I took it so the writing is my priority for now.”

    Lazarus laughed,
    “Writing and training. I get the feeling your book is going to t-off more people than you already have. What is the book about?”

    Joe smirked even if the men didn’t see it,
    “It’s about the increasingly violent actions of the left and how they have equated violence with change. I’ll likely include the riots and clashes with Police at various international meetings like the G8, IMF and other big events. I’m also interested in things like the tree spiking in the Northwest and the burning of car lots and ski resorts out west.”

    Lazarus laughed,
    “Like I said, you do irritate people. Bryce said you are a prepper.”

    It was said as statement and not a question and Joe figured these guys were trustworthy,
    “Yes I am. Is that a problem?”

    Bryce nodded and turned toward Joe,
    “It is your doing it half-ass.”

  22. #22
    At The Podium
    Part 16

    Joe leaned forward in his seat and was staring at the back of Bryce’s head,
    “I don’t follow.”

    Bryce talked as he competently negotiated traffic always keeping his thumbs outside the wheel and constantly scanning thru the vehicles mirrors,
    “Lazarus and I prep. We’ve both worked as cops in the inner city and too many of its residents often times are at odds with decent society. The elderly and families with young children often live in fear. The young are bred and raised on a study diet of images and music that cheapens life and promotes a narcissistic view of the world. So many people think they deserve respect and do nothing to earn it. The penalty of disrespecting them is violence and sometimes death. We’ve seen all the ills of modern city life and it’s bad, I mean really, really bad. What ever brought us to this point is not important but how we react to an event is. A major disaster that displaced the residents of the cities and disgorges them into the rest of society would literally bring a slice of thug life to an out of the way place near you.”

    Lazarus spoke up,
    “The only way some of us see to combat the possible threat posed by natural or man-made disasters is to prepare. By learning skills that increase our self-sufficiency and increase our abilities we take control of our destiny if something bad happens. We have empowered ourselves to survive and thrive during those confusing and dangerous times. For you if you have the resources you need to start with getting a one year supply of food and acquire as many skills as possible that are valuable should society fail? Make something that would be useful in a grid down scenario your hobby.

    Bryce took the conversation back over,
    “The plan Lazarus has to keep you safe is an excellent foundation in that it focuses on treating basic medical conditions and hones your self-defensive posture as well as conditions your body effectively. The plan is to make you less likely to succumb to everyday violence and give you the best chance to survive.”

    Joe was shocked,
    “I know, I’ve had this feeling for awhile like something is off and me prepping is a reflection of that anxiety. I always tell myself that if it goes south there is a chance of getting thru it. The one problem I have is the information I’m following oftentimes comes from the net since I never talk about prepping with people I know. And we all know the source of information is very important and the net is full of crazies, misguided fools and charlatans.”

    As Bryce pulled into the parking place at the deli the men got out of the large SUV.

    Lazarus looked toward Joe,
    “Well the good news is now you can talk to us instead of the people on the net and we know a little about preparing to survive.”

    As they opened the door to the deli Joe remarked,
    “That’s good to know. Hey, I’m going to hit the bathroom.”

    As Joe Quick walked toward the back of the deli Lazarus turned to Bryce,
    “We need to groom this one. He might eventually have some clout and the group could use a teacher that has the courage to speak the truth and this guy has some courage.”

    Bryce smiled,
    “I agree we’ll see what we can do with him. I forgot to mention that Barbes called and the zoning board secretary called and the board approved the plans for the development. They really went for the environmental angle and think we’ll all a bunch of tree huggers. How they thought 3 ex big city cops were Sierra Club member types and ardent environmentalists is beyond me. It just goes to show you that by wearing a disguise you can never underestimate who you can fool.”

    Lazarus chuckled,
    “Well building over 20 earth sheltered homes and some earth-sheltered outbuildings is much lower key than building 20 standard homes and one bunker. How many ex-cops from our department live out there now?”

    Bryce paused doing the math in his head,
    “I’m thinking 13 in 10 different families. Keffe has a room with McKnight and is living with his family out there and the Harris and Bannon families are 2 cop families. Teester applied and was accepted to Highway Patrol so he’s goes any time now and I’m going to start building next summer.”

    Joe returned from the men’s room and the men enjoyed an excellent meal and as they were walking out the door Bryce reached into the pocket of his lightweight jacket and removed a scrap of paper. After unfolding the paper he handed it to Joe,
    “Joe Based on what you’ve told us today I’m giving you homework. It is essential to understand your position from a mental perspective as well as the part that let’s you deal effectively with the physical threat. Part of you training will involve avoidance techniques and the raising of your situational awareness. This book is one of many that you will need to read to help you on that path.”

    Bryce handed the piece of paper to Joe who quickly scanned it. It Read.

    “Why after all do we make any predictions? To avoid an outcome or exploit an outcome. To do either, prediction must be followed by preparation. Prediction without preparation is just curiosity.

    The amount of preparation appropriate for a given outcome is determined by evaluating the importance of avoiding or exploiting it and the cost and effectiveness of the strategies you’ll use.

    This same process of comparing reliability, importance, cost and effectiveness (which my office calls RICE evaluation) is how people go about making many daily decisions.”

    The Gift of Fear
    Gavin De Becker
    Chapter-Imperfect Strangers

  23. #23

    At The Podium Part 17

    At The Podium
    Part 17

    The first thing Joe did when he got home was to take 3 Motrin to help with the soreness that was sure to follow after his athletic day. Next he took a full package of his favorite cookies from the cabinet and threw them into the sink and ran water over them. He wasn’t looking forward to the weight loss or conditioning that was going to be necessary. He was maybe 20 pounds or so from his ideal weigh according to his research the previous summer and didn’t think he looked too bad considering.

    The quote from Bryce and the instructions to read the book prompted Joe to put a hold on it at the local library when he was done in the kitchen. It would only be a day or so until it was available and he could begin reading it.

    With that done he pulled out his outline and began to look it over to see if he was still happy with it. Satisfied he was on the right course he checked his e-mail and found out that apparently Dorth Mann agreed.

    Dorth had also sent a resume of a ghostwriter he had mentioned and Joe reviewed it and did some online research about the writer. The writer Kitten Page had published articles in various magazines and a few newspapers. The papers were in places known to be right leaning and the articles were exceptionally conservative for a profession that unabashedly was not. Dorth also listed her as a ghostwriter of a memoir of a Republican Ex-Senator and a contributor under another name to the NRA website.

    As he requested the book Kitten Page had written from the library using the internet, Joe wondered if that was her real name or a nom de plume. Kitten didn’t seem to be a very liberated name for a woman in this day or age. It did have certain playfulness to it; Joe figured that just thinking that made him sexist.

    Joe had taken Bryce’s advice and changed his main e-mail address. He now had an e-mail for family, one for friends, one for the College and one for the book project. A secure e-mail was used to communicate with Bryce and Lazarus.

    Checking his e-mails now required consulting the listing and the passwords which were written on a post-it next to the monitor in code. While he resented the inconvenience he understood the reasoning behind the process. All numbers for the e-mail passwords were broken down into a simple code like antique and collectable dealers used so they knew their cost of something without digging thru paperwork. Two 5 letter words were used and each letter represented a number from 0-9. Joe had chosen this simple method but it worked and reduced the possibility of somebody getting access to his personal e-mail.

    As he was about to pull up the next e-mail account the phone rang,
    “Joe speaking,”

    The other line had a hum and was obviously another cell,
    “Mr. Quick, This is Detective Black from the Olida Counter-Terrorism Desk. We spoke at the bookstore after the incident.”

    Joe took the pause as his chance to jump in,
    “Detective Black I remember you. How can I help you today?”

    On the other side of the conversation Detective Black continued,
    “Joe, I don’t want to alarm you but I need a few minutes of your time. Can I come to your house or should we meet somewhere?”

    Joe was getting an uncomfortable feeling from the way the Police Detective was talking,
    “I know a coffee place over by you. If it’s OK I can meet you there in 40 minutes or so.?

  24. #24
    At The Podium
    Part 18

    Joe pulled up to the coffee shop and entered the funky caffeine mecca. The independent coffee shop had good coffee and excellent sweets. The clientele ranged from the professionally dressed to pseudo-hippies, hipsters and posers of all stripes. As Joe entered the sweet smell of pastry assaulted his nose and he realized that Bryce and Lazarus would not be happy that he was spending time in this particular place. Much like somebody that had beaten an addiction with alcohol a guy on a diet should stay away from bakeries and ice crème shops.

    As Joe waited in-line he saw Detective Black sitting in the corner with a guy that was maybe 6 feet 3 inches tall. The suit didn’t hide the fact the guy was close to 250 pounds of muscle. The companion had a short buzz cut and the look of a hungry predator. Joe felt something bad was on the agenda for their conversation together.

    After Joe received his coffee and pastry from the barista he walked over to the table and spoke to the men while extending his hand toward Detective Black,
    Sorry to keep you guys waiting, I’m Joe Quick.”

    Detective Black introduced his co-worker as he released Joe’s hand,
    “Joe, I’m sorry to bother you. This is Special Agent Ringg with Homeland Security and he has some questions and information for you.”

    Ringg stuck out his hand and shook hands with Joe. His hand was 40% bigger than Joe’s and the sheer muscle in it could probably break more bones in Joe’s hand than he cared to think about.

    Agent Ringg began talking,
    “Actually, I’m currently assigned to Customs and Border Enforcement Mr. Quick. I’m on a domestic terrorism task force assigned to radical Animal Rights Groups and Eco-Terrorists in the western part of the United States. They represent a growing threat, are well organized and constantly active. I need to ask you if you remember seeing the women from the bookstore prior to the night of the incident.”

    Joe paused as he racked his brain trying to remember if he’s seen the women before the night at the bookstore,
    “I cannot remember ever seeing her before the night at the bookstore. Of course as a teacher I see 100’s of people her age every week and after awhile they blend together.”

    Agent Ringg continued,
    “Did anything strange happen before your lecture? Maybe hang-up phone calls, people following you, a break-in or any vandalism?

    Joe shook his head back and forth,
    “Nothing like that, just the regular life of a Teacher at a Community College. I was added the week before the event so it was sort of last minute.”

    Agent Ringg continued,
    “Mr. Quick, we need to talk about the incident at the bookstore. We identified the women thru a US Customs and Border Protection database. She is a Canadian national and entered the US from Canada May 15 of 2007. Her name is Skye Jackson and she is from Vancouver. Prior to her trip to the US she was in the Motion Picture Industry up there.
    She flew from Vancouver to Los Angeles and declared she was a visiting as a tourist. She is in this country illegally and we found false ID and documents on her. She has acquired 5 citations since her arrival for everything from trespassing to public urination from Oregon to San Diego. ICE and Border Protection missed getting wind of her and detaining her at every turn.”

    Joe smiled,
    “Well you got her now. I don’t understand why you needed to speak with me.”

    Special Agent Ringg paused,
    The number Jackson gave us when she entered the US was tied to a suspected Eco-Terrorism group called Love Mother Earth or Else. They are suspected in some of the fires in California in 2008. We’ve been trying to track them since and haven’t had much luck. Analysts suspected from intelligence that has been gathered they had dispatched a 3 person direct action teams to cause trouble around the country. It is modeled after the Jedburgh Teams of World War II, are you familiar with the concept?”

    Joe smiled,
    “I love WW II history, the teams were usually 1 member from the United States OSS and British Special Operations Executive along with 1 local member usually French, Dutch or Belgium. They specialized in sabotage and guerilla warfare techniques. They also acted as a liaison with local resistance against the German forces in their area of operations.

    Special Agent Ringg followed up,
    “I’m impressed, most people have never heard of the Jedburgh Teams. We think that 2 members of the team remain in this area. I’m concerned that they might seek revenge against you. We know that Jackson isn’t local and think that 1 local and another person from outside the area remain in place. If they are modeling Jedburgh one of the members has extensive computer skills and may be a hacker or some sort of computer programmer.”

    Joe looked concerned as he answered,
    “Well my appearing on TV probably didn’t help things. The network set me up with a security consultant. He accompanies me to all taping and has arranged for firearms training and an evasive driving course this weekend. I also have a self-defense coach and was put on a diet and a strength and conditioning training program. This pastry is my last for awhile.”

    Detective Black looked surprised,
    “You mean your consultant saw the possibility of problems already?”

    Joe started at both men,
    “I started getting death threats almost immediately after the news aired the piece. When the network called they put me in touch with him and he’s supposed to be good. We have copies of all the threats if you want your people to have access to them.”

    Special Agent Ringg paused. He looked a little embarrassed,
    “We should have our people look at them. Do you have any letters or voice recordings saved?”

    Joe answered after he chewed the last bite of the pastry and swallowing it,
    “We have all the originals voice recordings except maybe 3 of them and only received a few threatening letters. E-mails are different, we have maybe 50 now and I can forward them in 2 hours or so.”

    Special Agent Ringg smiled,
    “That would be helpful to our people. Also can I get the name of your security people?

    Joe pondered the question less than a second,
    “If they OK it I’ll e-mail it with the threat and a copy of the threat assessment.”

    Ringg smiled again,
    “That’s fair enough. Here’s my card of you think of something please call anytime day or night. We’d love to make some progress on this group and learn what they are up to.”

    The meeting broke up and the three men did the customary exchange of contact information. Joe pondered the recent turn of events in his head as he made the drive home.

  25. #25

    At The Podium Part 19

    At The Podium
    Part 19

    Joe Quick drove home thinking what did I get myself into? After getting home he forwarded the threatening voicemails and e-mails to Special Agent Ringg and went back to work on the book.

    Some of the studies and information he needed were available only in electronic form and while he enjoyed the instant access he needed to print them off and peruse the material in hardcopy form to really get a sense of it. He downloaded the information and transferred it to a DVD and put it in his gym bag so he could have it printed at a copy shop the next day.

    For Joe having time away from the computer was nice. He didn’t like feeling so tied to the machine and enjoyed reading and doing research the old fashioned way with paper with a pen in his hand.

    After 3 hours of reading he picked up the phone and called Bryce,
    “Bryce this is Joe how are you doing?

    Bryce sounded sleep deprived and a little cranky,
    “I’m tired. What’s up?”

    Joe didn’t know how much to share on the phone so he kept his thoughts shielded,
    “I just sat down with the Olida Counter-Terrorism detective and a Federal Agent and thought we should talk about what he said.”

    Bryce instantly knew what Joe needed was some hand holding,
    “Sure, how about we catch a workout tomorrow say around 10 am or so.”

    Joe smiled,
    “That’s what I had in mind. Do you think Lazarus will be mad because I had a Danish at the meeting?”

    Bryce laughed,
    “That depends on what was said at the meaning.”

    Both men hung up and Joe called it an early night getting to bed by 11:00. He had a busy day tomorrow and he was getting sore. He fell asleep thinking about how glad he was for ibuprofen and considered and rejected the idea of sleeping with a gun next to the bed.

    The next morning Joe felt the workout from the day before and went easy on the breakfast. To lose weight one of his goals was to start limiting the amount of calories he was ingesting and increasing his physical activity. So, for breakfast today he had 2 chocolate granola bars and 2 glasses of water. Before he left the house he strapped on a in the waistband holster and added his .45 Caliber Glock G30 and 2 spare magazines. He also put the Ruger LCP in his left jacket pocket along with a spare magazine. A 100 round box of both calibers went into his gym bag since he might try to get some shooting in.

    When Joe arrived at the warehouse Lazarus was waiting at the door and explained Bryce was teaching a private class on the firing line and asked that he change into his workout clothes and they would talk after the workout.

    Joe changed and Lazarus handed him a binder that had his workout regime outlined in it. It also had a list of rules for the small gym and other important tips regarding his new eating and supplement regime.

    Lazarus showed him how to stretch properly and recommend a Yoga class for him to increase his flexibility. He then worked with him at each machine and before Joe realized it the workout was done and an hour had elapsed.

    Lazarus sent Joe to the shower and as he passed the firing line he recognized a local female news anchor shooting a small handgun at the target at the 15 yard mark. She was about the hottest local anchor and her on-air demeanor seemed professional, compassionate and competent. Joe thought she was destined for a bigger market.

    As Joe walked out of the bathroom his cell rang and he answered it despite the blocked number,
    “Joe speaking.”

    The person on the other end of the phone replied,
    “This is Special Agent Ringg and I need a few minutes of your time. Are you someplace you can talk?”

    Joe was getting that feeling again,
    “I’m at the gym with my security guys. Why, what’s up?”

    Agent Ringg replied,
    “Can you ask Lazarus if I can meet you there? Tell him that Smitty Red will vouch for me.”

    Joe was surprised since he hadn’t mentioned Lazarus to the Federal Agent,
    “Sure, let me ask. Give me one minute.”

    Joe set the phone down and walked across the room to Lazarus,
    “The Federal Agent that I talked to yesterday just called and wanted to see me. I never told him about you and he asked to meet here. He said Smitty Red will vouch for him.”

    Lazarus laughed,
    “Tell him that’s fine and I’ll need to call Smitty to OK him.”

    Joe walked back over to the phone and picked it up,
    “Lazarus says come ahead. He’ll still need to confirm with Smitty who he’s calling right now as we speak.”

    Special Agent Ringg didn’t sound offended,
    “I’ll see you in 30 minutes at his place.”

    Joe hung up the phone and looked over at Lazarus on the couch laughing at something being said by his phone buddy.

    He pushed the end button and flipped the devise closed,
    “Joe don’t be alarmed, Ringg is OK. Bryce and I were partners as Cops and we work together quite a bit now. It’s no secret and Ringg made the connection.”

  26. #26
    At The Podium
    Part 20

    Joe waited at the door to the building for Agent Ringg to show up. He wasn’t surprised that he was 10 minutes early. He was surprised that Ringg was running the lights on the Government issued mid-size SUV. Ringg turned off the flashing lights at the end of the block and Joe could hear the agent feeding gas to the vehicle. He expertly lost speed quickly right before the parking lot entrance and bought the car to a rapid stop without squealing the tires.

    Ringg unfolded his big body from the SUV and looked sheepish as he realized that Joe had seen him running with lights and siren on. As he walked toward the door that Joe was holding open Ringg added,
    “We’ve got a lead on the other 2 team members if they exist and I wanted to get here talk to you and get moving. I don’t have much time, let’s get your guys and get moving.”

    Ringg reached the door and entered at a quick walk after shaking Joe’s hand and stepped 20 feet into the building and waited for Joe to catch up. Lazarus yelled down for the men to come up and Ringg and Joe headed up the stairs.

    At the top of the stairs Lazarus stood next to the door. He reached out his hand as Ringg came into range,
    “I’m, Lazarus and that moron on the couch is Bryce. Nice to meet you, Smitty Red says to be nice or he’s going to e-mail the pictures from the Bachelor Party to me.”

    Ringg laughed and moved over to the couch to shake hands with Bryce,
    “I’m Kyle Ringg. I’m currently assigned to Customs and Border Enforcement. I’m on a domestic terrorism task force assigned to monitor radical Animal Rights Groups and Eco-Terrorists in the western part of the United States. They represent a growing threat, are well organized and constantly active. Has Joe briefed you on our conversation yesterday?”

    Both men shook they heads as they all found a place to sit down.

    Special Agent Ringg continued,
    “Basically here’s what we know. We’ve identified the women thru a US Customs and Border Protection database. She is a Canadian national and entered the US from Canada May 15 of 2007. Her name is Skye Jackson and she is from Vancouver. Prior to her trip to the US she was in the Motion Picture Industry up there. She flew from Vancouver to Los Angeles and declared she was a visiting as a tourist. She is in this country illegally and using false documents. She has acquired 5 citations since her arrival in the US for everything from trespassing to public urination. Border Protection and ICE missed getting wind of her and detaining her. Seems Joe ended up on some body’s radar and we believe the woman that was apprehended at the book store was part of a three person team working in a similar fashion to the Jedburgh Teams of WWII. We believe that 2 other team members may be in the area and could have a reason to seek Joe out and hurt him.”

    Lazarus had a few questions,
    “How reliable is the team thing? Also any idea of the teams gender makeup or any other information that might be useful to protect him?”

    Special Agent Ringg answered,
    “The team thing is getting more reliable everyday. Right now we have no idea about the gender of the team’s members. We do feel that if they modeled the Jedburgh team very closely one member will have telecom or more likely computer programming or hacking experience. Also one member may have language skills to help them blend into an immigrant area where people keep to themselves and try to avoid interaction with all Law Enforcement.”

    Bryce piped up,
    “Kyle, has the threat analysis come back on the stuff you got yesterday?”

    Special Agent Ringg shook his head up and down,
    “It has and we concur with your assessment. Joe, I found out today that your home address was listed on a leftist site that we suspect is being used by the direct action teams. It wasn’t encrypted and was sent as GPS coordinates. We tried to trace the sender but that’s a long shot. The internet is a more valuable tool for domestic terrorist than it is for international terrorist. Since the infrastructure in this country is so much better here than in the 3 world, it is much easier to use for these types of groups. The Wi-Fi card used was likely destroyed and replaced by another one, which means we can’t track it.”

    Bryce looked at Ringg,
    “Is anybody tracking Joe’s name or any references to him as a keyword?”

    Special Agent Ringg looked uncomfortable as he answered,
    “Guys, I’ve seen your personnel files and I’m impressed. I also understand the type of work you do now. Unfortunately, I’m unable to answer that question without authorization at a higher level. I can say that the fact that I just told you we got a hit indicates that you should be able to draw a conclusion or two on your own.”

    Lazarus smiled,
    “I think we understand and I can assure you that we operate in a very closed mouth occupation. Anything that you can share in the grey area is safe with us. While we don’t want to compromise your position, we need every bit of information you can share. I think I speak for all of us when I say that your words at this time stay between us. Also, I think Joe will be willing to let you see a copy of his manuscript before it gets published to insure that you’re comfortable with what gets published in regards to finding the rest of the team, if they exist.”

    Special Agent Ringg looked like he swallowed a live frog,
    “Joe, you’re writing a book?”

    Joe looked a little sheepish,
    “Well, yes I am. A well-established author’s representative contacted me and suggested that I consider writing a book about the rising violence associated with groups that proclaim a love for liberal ideals. Mostly I’m focusing on Environmental and Animal Rights Groups. I’m researching and might include those crazy groups that turn G8, G20, IMF and the other International groups meetings into riots. As a Sociologist and a victim of one of these groups I think I can lend an interesting and fresh perspective.”

    Special Agent Ringg sighed,
    “Joe, I’ll say this for you, you’re either crazy or very committed to either your beliefs or your career. I’ve reviewed your TV interviews and your growing pile of threats and you’re a lightning rod. The amount of negative attention you’re getting is abnormal for your profile and I encourage you to continue to take precautions. Also, I think that if you get published I’d tread lightly on our interactions. I’m comfortable being referred to as a knowledgeable Federal Agent associated with Domestic Terrorism Investigations.”

    Joe replied,
    “That’s fair enough.”

    Special Agent Ringg glanced at his watch,
    “I need to get moving. If I hear anything else I’ll contact you.”

    And with that he was gone.

  27. #27
    At The Podium
    Part 21

    Lazarus returning from walking Agent Ringg to the door and sat down on the couch,
    “Joe, I have an idea and need to discuss it with Bryce. Is there any way you can run out and get us all salads from the deli and give us maybe 30 minutes to discuss it?”

    Joe was a still trying to process the information he had heard from the Special Agent,
    “Sure, write down what you want and I’ll go grab it.”

    Bryce pulled out his small notebook and scribbled in it and handed it to Lazarus who did the same. After Lazarus finished his order he handed the notebook to Joe and handed him a $50.00 bill,
    “Lunch is on me.”

    Joe wandered out to his vehicle, still considering the events that brought him to this point. The lack of attention almost caused him to hit a fire hydrant as he pulled out of the parking area.

    Inside the building both Lazarus and Bryce had moved to the table in the kitchen and had legal pads in front of them.

    Lazarus started,
    “I’m thinking we relocate Joe here for the time being. Without the safety concerns he gets his book research done quicker and in a more secure environment. He can sleep in the safe room and we can also get more training done with him this way. He said his girlfriend broke up with him last week which helps keep him from being out and about as much. Till this threat simmers down we can make sure he uses good judgment and goes armed 24/7. We can limit his activities and movements and she will not pose a distraction.”

    Bryce nodded,
    “I agree, do you think he’ll be open to the idea?”

    Lazarus shrugged,
    “That is a question that I don’t know the answer too. We get 3 strong Wi-Fi signals from this building so research and internet is no problem. The bed has a sleep number mattress on it and the TV has cable including movie channels. My concern is that the strange nature of this course of events will rattle his decision making process. If I had to guess, I’d say with the protection of this place he should cope better here than at his house waiting for something bad to happen.”

    Bryce scratched his head as he pondered an idea he was kicking around,
    “Well, we have 10 guys that might be willing to help us out. Let’s get on the phones and see what they say.”

    Lazarus reached toward his notepad and began making notes as he spoke,
    “If we let him stay he’s going to figure out about the project out south. Members are in and out of this place all the time. I’ve got think that he’ll eventually get an inkling of what’s, what. We need to swear him to secrecy after they have OK’ed him. We’ve vetted him and he looks like a possible member moving forward. He already lives in an outlying area so he understands the benefits of living out in the country.”

    Bryce began making notes also as he spoke,
    “Well, we start with a vest and get his gun handling skills up to speed. He’s at least a fair shooter and with some practice will improve. If he stays here you can get maybe 3 hours a day to work with him. I’m thinking 1 hour each day for shooting, working out and self-defense.”

    Lazarus smiled to himself,
    “I can get a lot done with that much time each day.”

    The men busied themselves making phone calls trying to reach their core group. Between the different shifts and everything else the group had going on it wasn’t possible to talk to each member. 8 Members were reached and OKed the proposal after one of the men explained it to them. They each would volunteer some time to escort Joe when needed and keep an eye on him while he was at the building if Lazarus was gone and Bryce was unavailable.

    When Joe arrived back from getting lunch the men sat down at the counter and enjoyed their meal. No mention of the contents of Agent Ringg’s visit was discussed till after the plastic containers that the meals had come in were thrown in the trash can.

    Lazarus sat down and looked Joe in the eye,
    “We have a plan that will help keep you safe. It is not without its drawbacks. However, we feel it’s solid and hope you’ll approve it.”

  28. #28

    At The Podium Part 22

    At The Podium
    Part 22

    Joe looked both men in the eye,
    “OK, tell me what you have in mind. Oh, and I’m not leaving town, I grew up here and will probably die here.”

    Both men had discussed it and decided that Lazarus would lay the plan out and Bryce would be the convincer.

    Lazarus began,
    “Joe, I want you to move into this place as my guest. Before you start analyzing the idea I want to list some of the benefits to this arrangement. First you’re safe; this building can only be accessed by those that are let in without a great amount of difficulty. It has an excellent camera system in it and we’re tied to other cameras in the area so we can keep an eye on things. Being here also gives you access to another shooter to protect you.”

    Bryce jumped in,
    “Joe, your house is a nightmare to defend effectively. It has too many doors and windows and is maybe 10 minutes from help. If I wanted to kill you I could sneak into that field across the street from your house and take a shot at you from a distance. Another way is too trap you inside and burn you out. The Fire Department could take 10 minutes or more and that’s enough time for a well designed fire to kill you. Now we could provide you with a smoke hood so that when you got outside they could shoot you then. I’m not even going to mention bombs, a method that was popular with 60’s radicals and is now in favor with Palestinians, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban among others.”

    Joe looked as if he was listening to the men talk about switching insurance companies,
    “I assume you have more. You have that I’m just getting started look on your face.”

    Lazarus smiled, and was thinking the guy was getting better at reading him,
    “I am, next comes work. If you are serious about getting a book written then focusing on your life being at risk will interfere with that. I assume that you want to get the book done quickly and staying in your house puts that goal at risk. This location, while not being ideal for pizza delivery offers excellent Wi-Fi access, and is maybe 10 or 12 minutes from the main library on Oak. That library is the main branch and contains more material than any of the libraries in the system. I’ve used it and the reference desk is very competent.”

    Bryce was at it again,
    “It’s not as loud up here as you may think. The wall in the apartment is brick and is layered with another 4 inches of sound insulation. I do work in the apartment with a class being taught on a regular basis and it doesn’t bother me. I can even do paperwork in there and I hate paperwork.”

    Joe motioned with his hand,
    “Go on, I feel that you have more.”

    Lazarus looked serious as he scratched an invisible itch on his forearm,
    “This is the best way to get you trained. I’m thinking 3 hours a day. We can do one hour each of firearms, self-defense and conditioning. Eventually as you get more proficient with the pistols we can move to rifles.”

    Bryce knew they were getting close and was eager to add,
    “Joe, what you might not know is that this place is like an inner-city bed and breakfast for shooters. Sure, you can’t shot the big stuff but anything up to and including 5.56 or 7.62x39 is doable. We are sitting in one of the premier facilities for one on one and small group classes in the area. Add to that the other skill sets we’re offering and it represents an excellent opportunity to learn at an accelerated pace and we both know that might benefit you more than many of our clients and students.”

    Joe looked at the men,
    “I trust you guys and I assume that you have thought this out. Is their any point in me arguing the logic of the plan?”

    Lazarus smiled knowing he was in the home stretch,
    “Not really, I’m going to put you in the safe room since I don’t have a guest room. It’s got good cable and we can move a wireless router to the roof if your Wi-Fi card has any problems.”

    Bryce smiled and winked at Joe. The wink was mischievous and Joe was glad the guy was on his side,
    “We need to get to your house, get your computer and writing stuff and enough clothes to last maybe 2 weeks. Also, we need to secure all your personal documents and put a hold in at the Post Office. We can bring your guns and ammo here but your prep stuff could be a problem. How much do you have?”

    Joe paused before remembering who he was talking too,
    “All the prep stuff is in a safe room under the garage. It’s got a bank-type door on it so it’s safe. I can make a list of stuff to move as we drive to my house.”

    Lazarus mulled how to phrase his next comments,
    “Joe, we belong to a loosely based group of men and women that have sworn to protect and assist each other in events in everyday life. This means up too and during a When the shit hits the fan situation. Bryce and I require their help to insure the effectiveness of this plan. You cannot tell anybody about them, ever. If anybody asks it’s just him and me handling your protection. These people are mostly but not all Law Enforcement and we have acquired a temporary membership into this group for you based on our recommendations. I have an agreement for you that must be signed in our presence if you want them to be included in your protection, education and training.”

    Joe reached for the informal document and looked it over,
    “If you guys trust them, then I trust them. It says here that the right to ask for assistance isn’t applicable to infidelity or illegal activities. Has that been a problem in the past?”

    Bryce looked at the floor as he answered the question,
    “Last year a cop in the group was having an affair with a bartender that nobody knew about. She had asked for an excuse to give to her husband. She told members of the group she was arranging a surprise party for his birthday and needed the time to plan it without him getting suspicious. We got curious and followed her one day. Since she brought us into this situation under false pretense we turned the information we gathered over to him and they’re working on their relationship. We support the group and what she did was a slap in the face of every member in it. She violated our trust and used us in an unacceptable manner. They are on probation and any bad acts will result in her expulsion.”

    Lazarus looked at Joe,
    “Being a cop means a higher risk factor for infidelity, divorce, alcoholism, suicide and gambling. She succumbed to the temptation and their marriage may survive or it may not. He has the right to stay regardless of the outcome of their marriage and can decide the fate of his wife as far as the group goes. The thing that is salient is that we strive to act as a well-functioning family would, and if the unthinkable happens we will act as a cohesive group to survive and prosper.”

    Joe reached for the document to sign it and Lazarus covered his hand before he affixed his signature. Lazarus turned the piece of paper over. A list of first names was listed with the code names listed beside them.

    Lazarus simply stated,
    “Joe we sign these with a pseudonym, nickname or a number code. These are the people that agreed to you being let in, they trust us and it would be unwise to abuse that trust. I assume I make myself clear.”

    Joe took the document and signed it. He handed the document back and sat waiting for the next shoe to drop,
    “Crystal clear.”

    Lazarus in all his gruffness got up and walked gingerly to the stainless steel refrigerator,
    “Welcome to your temporary home. Now please tell me you’re not one of those guys that harps on eating organic all the time or plays new age music?”

    He opened the frig door and stepped back over to the table and looked at the signature that Joe had used,
    “Please tell me you eat meat, Mercury.”

    Bryce laughed and then Joe and finally Lazarus. The men enjoyed themselves for a minute and then Bryce stood and headed to the door,
    “Joe, grab a legal pad and let’s get you moved. Lazarus, I’m thinking that Mercury can buy dinner tonight. Oh, and I’m going to fit him for a vest out of the armory.”

    Joe almost ran to catch-up, he caught Bryce at the bottom of the stairs as he again began issuing orders to Joe,
    “Call Ringg, I need to talk to him.”

  29. #29
    The research for this chapter was a little confusing. If somebody truly has current experience with Concealable Bullet-Proof vests and has concerns with this chapter please feel free to comment.

    At The podium
    Part 23

    Bryce walked into the weight room while staring at the screen on his cell phone. He stopped at the back wall which was covered in mirrors up to 10 feet high or so and Joe heard a soft click and knew something was different about this room.

    A 10 foot section of the mirror popped out from the wall 6 or so inches. Bryce removed a small flashlight from his pants pocket and swung one end of the mirror out another 5 or 6 feet and slipped behind it. Joe followed him around the corner and could see a wide metal gate covering the entrance to a room. The gate was a foot or so smaller than the opening. As Joe approached it he could see into a plain 12x25 foot space. Bryce pulled the handle at the fire pull station on the wall and the grabbed the gate and moved it aside.

    Bryce then stepped into the room and Joe then figured out that the room was an actually an old freight elevator. Since the light was dim it took Joe a second to register seeing the controls on the wall and the cage that surrounded them. Lazarus had ingrained in Joe that he should carry the small Surefire light with him always and Joe removed it from his pocket and turned it on to light his way.

    Bryce waited till Joe was in and then manhandled the gate back into place. He stepped over to the controls and hit a button and the light from the wall increased and hit another switch and they were moving down at a slow rate.

    Bryce faced the door they had come thru and was whistling during the slow ride down. Joe had never been on an elevator that took so long to go 10 or 15 feet.

    Joe had a few questions he had to ask and figured this was as good a time as any to ask them,
    “I never saw this room from the street, did you guys build it?”

    Bryce continued facing the metal grate,
    “No, you can see it from the back of the building. We used mirrors inside here and most people never realize that this area is missing from the interior footprint. The safe room you’ll be staying in is a directly above the elevator and the room has a panel that lifts up so a rope can be dropped down.”

    Joe smirked,
    “That’s very James Bond. What about this elevator, is it original?”

    Bryce answered the question,
    “No, this is the old hydraulic elevator put in 1965 and Lazarus upgraded it a little when he moved in. In the old days they could be a safety concern, we addressed some of those concerns. You might not have seen it but the inspection sticker next to it says it was deemed unsafe in 1999, it’s a forgery of course and we replace it with the real one when anybody comes out to inspect it.”

    Joe shined his light above and didn’t see the equipment that one usually associates with elevators,
    “Is it safe?”

    Bryce continued to stare forward as he answered,
    “The upgrade bought it up to code which wasn’t easy and we’ve had over 3,000 pounds on it with no problem. The worst thing you can say is that it is very slow. We did remove its ability to go up to the upper floor so if it did fail it would only be a 14 foot fall max.”

    As they descended Joe could see a small room with a huge door. The door was all of 10 feet wide and 10 or 12 feet tall. The outside was covered in steel and it looked as if it could weight a ton. When they finally stopped Bryce again opened the gate and stepped over to the door. Bryce placed his hand on a biometric reader on the wall next to the door and waited. After 10 seconds a computer voice asked for his name.

    Bryce replied,

    The magnetic lock holding the door closed clicked loudly and Bryce pulled it open and both men stepped forward. Bryce found the light switch on the wall before Joe could shine his light into the room. Joe about fell over after the lights came on. In front of him was a duplicate of the space above and it was packed with stuff.

    Joe was shocked to see that the storage room also housed at least 4 vehicles. All were older Fords pick-ups and appeared to be at least ¾ ton models. The trucks were in varying states of disassembly and located near the big door. Joe assumed they had used the old freight elevator to bring the vehicles down

    Next his eye was drawn to the racks of stuff and the shelves that contained buckets of what Joe assumed was long-term storage food. A vault door from a real bank sat imbedded in the far wall. Joe assumed that it was from a bank since even from this distance he could see the name of the bank embossed on the door in gold leaf.

    Bryce turned around and looked at Joe,
    “This is a staging area for the group’s supplies for this part of town. In the event of a problem those that could would move to our Bug-Out location. The rest could use this location as a base or truck supplies out of here and head wherever they thought gave them the best possible chance of a positive outcome.”

    Joe was in awe,
    “Well, it looks like you guys are serious. I assume the trucks are a standard for your bug-out vehicles and these are the parts trucks.”

    Bryce nodded as he spoke,
    “We mostly live close to each other, or in clusters and by doing that we avoid duplication of effort. Each family shares a truck with another family and the truck isn’t used for everyday use. The truck is owned by the group and the insurance is carried by the group under a business policy. The group owns a small construction company that some of the guys use for a side business.”

    Joe paused considering what he had just heard,
    “That sounds complicated. How does that work?”

    Bryce was moving toward the vault door and stopped to enter the combination on the big dial as he spoke,
    “Trust me it was when we started but we have a system now. Each member pays a small yearly fee to cover their dues. The dues are used to pay for part of the licensing, insurance and maintenance on the trucks and to acquire bulk items like ammo or first aid supplies that are communal. The guys that use the construction liability pay an extra fee and a percentage of the work they do.”

    Joe was confused,
    “Who bought the trucks?”

    Bryce spun the steel wheeled and pulled the door open,
    “We have what I call a sponsor. Lazarus, he and I started this group almost 5 years ago.
    We have a budget based on his donations. That money is big ticket stuff like a generator or a 5,000 gallon Diesel tank and the fuel to fill it. He and Lazarus also arrange odd jobs that help our members earn some extra income.”

    As the lights came on and Joe walked into the room he was simply astounded. The 30x30 foot room had shelves and racks full of guns and gear. The space in the middle was covered with metal boxes on legs to keep them off the ground. Crates of ammo were stacked by the pallet, 4 to be exact.

    Bryce let him take it all in before continuing to speak,
    “Lot of stuff in this room, the last inventory put the value at over 100K wholesale at today’s prices. We paid a lot less than that of course. Hopefully we can find a concealable vest that will fit you.”

    Bryce walked to an area that had shelves with the Bullet Proof vests on some type of wire framed mannequin torsos. 10 vests were lined up on the shelves and a sizing chart for the bullet-proof vests was hanging from a hook on the wall next to them.

    Bryce pulled a cloth measuring tape from the shelf and began measuring Joe. He wrote the measurements down on a scrape of paper and started looking for the correct vest to fit Joe. After finding the vest he wanted Joe to try on he had Joe remove his inside the waistband holster and his shirt and t-shirt.

    Bryce was talking as he rummaged in the drawer next to the vests,
    “I’m getting you a shirt designed to be worn under these types of vests. Its job is to wick moisture and allow air to circulate under this thing, it also will help with chaffing. Vests aren’t very comfortable and don’t breath well. These shirts will help with some of that. I’m also going to give you a care sheet to insure you take care of your vest the way the manufacture’s recommends. You must follow the directions for its care exactly. If you do the wrong thing it can affect the performance of the vest and that will defeat the purpose of wearing one. If you have any questions ask them.”

    Bryce found the shirt he was looking for and handed it to Joe. Joe was looking at the wall where a mechanical temperature gauge and a hygrometer were. Bryce nudged him and he took the shirt.

    Joe put the shirt on and moved around some in the shirt to see if it fit OK. Satisfied it was the correct size he took the vest from Bryce and put it over his head.

    Pulling this strap and adjusting that strap for 5 minutes, Bryce finally had the vest riding correctly. Since the vest was a concealable model Bryce explained the pros & cons of looser vs. tighter when it came to closure.

    Finally satisfied with his effort he continued educating Joe,
    “This is a lightweight concealable vest providing NIJ ballistic level ll protection; it is equipped with optional trauma plates and is the level of protection often used by Police and other Law Enforcement personnel. It is considered a full wrap meaning it allows for maximum protection on the sides. I’m also giving you 2 more of the shirts since you’ll want to wear them with the vest and you should consider buying a few more when you can. I know it’ll be strange getting used to wearing the vest but, I’ve been shot while wearing one and they work. You might be sore and suffer internal injuries but you’ll have an excellent chance of surviving.”

  30. #30

    At The Podium Part 24

    At The Podium
    Part 24

    Bryce walked over to another clipboard hanging on a wall and scanned it for the information he wanted,
    “I noticed you don’t carry a Bug Out Bag, do you have one?”

    Joe looked embarrassed,
    “Well, I’ve been meaning to get one together. I haven’t figured out exactly how to configure it.”

    Bryce walked over to one of the metal boxes and opened it. He began rummaging around as he was speaking,
    It’s better to have something and then work toward getting it set-up the way you want it, than be someplace and need one and have nothing. Most of what we preach is getting started and that perfection is unobtainable. I’ve think we have a basic BOB here you can use.”

    He pulled 3 bags out and inspected the contents and set them aside and continued looking. The fourth bag was the charm. Bryce hoisted the plain looking red backpack onto the metal box next to him and returned the bags he had rejected.

    The inside lid of the metal box had a plastic sleeve taped to the inside and Bryce removed the packet of papers and he initialed next to the line for the BOB. He then handed the packet of papers to Joe,
    “Sign here, and initial here. I’m going to give you the tracking tag and you are responsible for reminding me to enter the tracking tag into the inventory database.”

    Joe took the paperwork and did as he was told. Bryce handed him a tag with a bar code on it and stepped over to the area with the vests and pulled a clipboard down,
    “I don’t know how we are going to do the vest, whether it’s a loaner or what. You need to sign her and initial here. Here are the tags, hang onto them.”

    Joe was curious,
    “What’s the vest worth?”

    Bryce paused,
    “That vest is a Homeland Security refurbished unit and we paid maybe $400.00 for it. I have 4 vests and they range from $400.00 to $1,500.00. This is your starter vest and as you move forward you may decide at some point that you want another. We’re also taking the Vest Rest which is another $50.00. It’ll help keep the vests shape and allow air to circulate which means it’ll dry quicker than just putting it on a hanger. I also use a small fan to help the vest dry quicker.”

    Bryce walked over and picked up the wire mannequin for the vest and continued over to another set of drawers. Joe walked over and could see they were lined with foam and contained night-vision goggles.

    Bryce found what he was looking for and removed a pair and opened the drawer underneath and removed a hard shell case and a box of batteries,
    “These are obsolete Russian night-vision goggles. Unless they are on your head they stay in the box. I’ll get you a user’s manual and you can look at it when you have a chance.”

    Bryce again handed a clipboard to Joe to sign and handed him 3 tags to put in his pocket.

    Joe took the case containing the goggles,
    “Anything else?”

    Bryce looked at him and smiled,
    “There is, but that’s a start. Let’s get going.”

    Bryce turned and started walking toward the vault door with Joe behind him; he was wearing the BOB and carrying the vest holder and the hard case. Bryce turned the lights off as they left the room and closed the big vault door.

    They walked across the room and Joe noticed the rat traps set-up every 10 feet along the wall,
    “You have problem with rats down here?”

    Bryce chuckled,
    “Not so much, we have a pretty effective program. This building was originally a ware- house and had a wooden floor upstairs. Lazarus removed the old wooden floor and sold it to a local furniture maker and upgraded to concrete. When he did that he extended the basement walls 12 inches and plugged any opening that they could get in thru. He also has the city throw down bait 4 times a year in a 4 block radius and poisons them. We also sometimes use an older method to deal with the ones outside that avoid the bait. This building has had 2 rats in the last 5 years or so and they didn’t live out the day.”

    Joe understood,
    “Rats, Mice and bugs are the nightmare of anyone storing anything and especially troublesome for a prepper. My shelter is sprayed for bugs 4 times a year and I always have mouse traps along the walls down there. I also inspect the house with UV light every month to insure I’m living alone and not harboring mice.”

    Bryce got to the main door and turned around to wait for Joe to exit before turning the lights off and closing the heavy door,
    “Let’s get going, we got a bunch of stuff to do.”

    They walked to the freight elevator and it was slower going up than it was going down. Joe shined his light on the ceiling and could see the trapdoor Bryce had mentioned, he also noticed a slight draft that could have been outside air leaking into the shaft.

    The men arrived topside and Bryce carefully closed the mirrored door,
    “You have to close this door slowly or you’ll crack one of the mirrors. The gap is 3/16ths of an inch and while it does a good job of hiding the doorway it has been broken more than a few times. We keep pre-cut replacement piece in the closet for when that happens.”

    Bryce detoured to the locker room as Joe waited.

    When he returned and as they were pulling folded moving boxes from a closet in the apartment he asked,
    “Bryce, I notice you and Lazarus always use the restroom before you go anyplace. Is their a reason or does it just work out that way?”

    Lazarus walked in and answered that question,
    “As a cop it was always a good idea to wash your hands when you got the opportunity and before you ate. And, sometimes restroom breaks were few and far between. By voiding your bladder you increase the time before you’ll need the bathroom again. Sometimes going to find a bathroom isn’t possible. It also reduces the chance you piss yourself when something bad happens. Shootings, car wrecks or being flashed by a crack whore.”

    Joe shook his head,
    “Makes sense, I’ll be right back.”

    Joe came back from the bathroom in the apartment and picked up the pile of folded boxes that Bryce pointed to and took them to Bryce’s Suburban. The men came back in the building and Bryce walked over to the firing station nearest the door.

    Bryce removed a small notebook and pen from his jacket pocket and handed them to Joe,
    “OK, this is EDC or everyday carry training. We start with guns. To you have any guns other than the Glock on you?”

    Joe reached into his jacket pocket and removed his Ruger and set it down on the waist high counter,
    “I’ve just got the two. Is that enough?”

    Bryce smiled,
    “If two can’t get the job done, your history. I assume you can shot the Glock fairly well?”

    Joe smiled,
    “I can show you if you want.”

    Joe walked over to the target hanger and took a piece of paper from his pocket. It was a playing card and inserted it into the clip and set the target up 10 yards from the firing station,
    “That is a standard playing card at about 10 yards give or take. I need 2 hits on that target in 10 seconds. GO.”

    Joe removed the weapon from the holster and fired the gun till the stopped going boom when he pulled the trigger. He cleared the weapon and set it on the counter. His ears were ringing and as he watched Bryce he pulled the earplugs from his ears.

    Bryce smiled,
    “It’s tougher when your hearing the full report. The first shot was a hit and the rest weren’t. We can work on that later. Let’s get going we need to be done 2 hours ago. We can work on EDC in the truck.”

  31. #31
    At The Podium
    Part 25

    As Bryce drove he was talking about the items he always had on him,
    “Well the gun and a good flashlight are don’t leave home without them things and I always,”

    Joe’s phone was ringing and Bryce quit talking. Joe looked at the display and didn’t recognize the number. He debated and answered it anyway,
    “Joe speaking.”

    Joe my name is Katherine Page and Dorth Mann gave your number to me. I’m one of the ghostwriters he thought might be able to help you with your book.”

    Joe paused and then remembered he had resumes from 2 ghostwriters that Dorth Mann had e-mailed and a Kitten Page was one of them,
    “Katherine I’m sorry it took me a second to place the name. I’m still not sure how to choose one of you over the other. I was actually considering letting Dorth make the call.”

    Katherine Page laughed,
    “I respect honesty; I’m in KC helping a friend move and was hoping I could buy you dinner if you’re not busy. It would give us a chance to met face to face and determine if we could work together. That is if you don’t mind a job interviewee dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt.”

    Joe smiled,
    “Let me check with somebody first.”

    Joe turned to Bryce and covered the phone with his hand,
    “A ghostwriter named Kitten Page wants to get dinner and discuss the book. She was referred by my representative. Is their anyway that’s possible.”

    Bryce kept his hands on the wheel,
    “Joe honestly, any girl that lets people call her Kitten is somebody I want to meet. See where she’s going to be in two hours and we’ll figure out a place to meet her.”

    Joe removed his hand from the phone and raised it to his face,
    “Katherine, I’m tied up for about 2 hours, what part of town are you in?

    Katherine replied,
    “I’m out south near the community college you work at.”

    Joe smirked,
    “Katherine, they in their infinite wisdom have demanded that I go on a Sabbatical. So technically I’m not an employee there anymore. That being said there is Greek place that is pretty good out that way. Can you tolerate Greek?”

    Katherine jumped at the opportunity to have a Gyro before leaving town,
    “That sounds perfect, what’s the name of the place and I’ll find it. Yea and when do you want to meet me there?”

    Joe wracked his brain for the name of the restaurant and finally remembered it,
    “The place is called Spiro’s and I recommend the coffee shop next door if you need to kill some time or need a Wi-Fi connection. You’ll like spending time there. I’m thinking, well I hope to be done with my errands by 7:00. Does that work for you or is that too late?”

    Katherine paused,
    “My GPS already marked a route and the time is good for me. I’ll see you then. Oh, and if you have any problems or are running late please call.”

    Joe shook his head up and down as he replied,
    “I will.”

    Joe ended the call and put the phone back in the cup holder,
    “OK, where were we. Oh, so gun and flashlight never leave home without them.

    The men stopped at the Post Office and put a hold on Joe’s mail. They then went to his house and found that it had been egged and tagged with spray paint.

    The tagging was typical and what he expected mostly swastikas and vulgar references to genetalia that were 3 feet tall. Joe was unfazed by the low-brow vandalism and had to wait as Bryce pulled his weapon and entered the house checking for stalkers and bombs.

    When Bryce declared the house safe Joe brought the boxes in and started walking around and gathering personal records and anything that he wouldn’t want a stalker or domestic terrorist to find. All his personal records and all his photos were removed as well as all references to friends and family members.

    Bryce had a checklist he was following and appeared to have done this before. He unplugged the answering machine and recommended that Joe forward his home calls to a number he had available. He also suggested that all food be put in the room in the basement or thrown out since if anybody broke in Joe would have to throw it away any way to insure it wasn’t tampered with or poisoned.

    Bryce mentioned that he would call the alarm company the next day and they would outfit the house with covert cameras around the house and on the property. He also suggested that all tools and valuables that Joe wanted to keep from getting stolen or vandalized be locked up downstairs for the duration. That include all of Joe’s clothing that he wasn’t taking since clothing was one of the things that was destroyed in these types of situations.

    Not the ninja team is going to kill you, but the you have nasty threats and they might break into your house and mess it up situations.

    Joe quickly followed all of the recommendations that Bryce had made and was surprised at how quickly the task was done. He then packed up the clothes he wore on a regular basis and put the rest in garbage bags and took them downstairs.

    Joe took a cordless screwdriver down to the basement while Bryce lugged a box of books and followed behind him. He walked to sheetrock that had been hung but not taped and removed the screws holding the bottom piece of wallboard to the wall and gently wiggled it away from the studs that it was previously attached to.

    Bryce was almost surprised to see that the sheetrock was attached only to the last foot of each side and that a void of 6 feet remained between the altered studs. Joe pulled his flashlight from his pocket and leaned underneath the remaining piece of sheetrock and unlocked the door.

    Bryce could see a light had been turned on and set the box underneath the upper piece of sheetrock he then bent over and shimmied underneath the top piece of sheetrock that extended from a bout 4 feet to the ceiling.

    The space was maybe 20x20 feet and the air felt dry in Bryce’s nose. He stood up after getting the doorway and surveyed the room. The supplies seemed organized and a red gun safe sat in the corner. Joe’s prepper stash looked respectable and half way organized and Bryce lifted the box of books and sat them on a nearby desk and inspected the room more closely.

    Bryce pulled a small digital camera from his pocket and began shooting pictures of all the features of the bunker. After 40 pictures he put the camera away,
    “Joe, please tell me that you routinely videotape your home and all the items in it for insurance purposes.”

    Joe looked over from entering the combination on the safe,
    “I do that quarterly; I also keep a list of serial numbers of the electronics and all my weapons. Why do you ask?”

    Joe paused from opening the safe door, he was getting it and the thought of his house being burned to the ground or vandalized was not sitting very well with him. He reached into the safe and began removing his guns.

    The gun safe contained a name brand AR-15 with a rail and a red dot scope, an old Mossberg 12 gauge w/ a pistol grip and a Scoped rifle that Bryce couldn’t indentify. The weapons were placed in cases or gun socks and the men carried the weapons back upstairs for another load that needed to be brought down. When they got downstairs the second time Joe pulled a range bag from the safe and began transferring magazines and other weapon supplies to it. Bryce counted 15 AR mags and was happy that Joe also put some AR parts into the bag along with a small gunsmiths screwdriver set.

    As Joe began pulling boxes of ammo out Bryce started speaking,
    “Joe we have plenty of ammo at the range, you can leave it.”

    Joe looked over,
    “I appreciate that but if my house burns I don’t want the fireman to get hurt or pull their men back because ammo is cooking off. I only have about 500 rounds of .223 and 200 rounds of misc.”

    Bryce nodded,
    “That’s a good idea, I should have known that.”

    After everything was in the bunker Joe closed and locked the door and repeated the drywall process in reverse. He then inspected the floor near the entrance for sheetrock dust or anything that might draw attention to that part of the room using his flashlight. Satisfied with the floor the men continued the removal process upstairs.

    They then moved Joe’s computer, his clothing/shoes and all personal records to the Suburban. If anybody came into the house it looked more like a model home devoid of personal items than a home. Joe dragged the garbage bags to the curb and packed the last box into the back of the SUV. He then went in turned the water off in the basement and locked the place up.

    Since darkness had reduced the amount of light in the sky Bryce was scanning the area with a pair of night vision goggles while he waited for Joe in the truck.

  32. #32

    At The Podium Part 26

    At The Podium
    Part 26

    Joe walked into Spiro’s Greek Cuisine 3 minutes late with Bryce walking behind him. He didn’t know what Kat looked like as he scanned around the room for a few seconds looking for a female sitting alone. He spotted a possible candidate sitting near the back facing the front door.

    He pointed her out to Bryce and they headed over to the young woman sitting alone.

    She noticed them walking toward her and stood up and extended her right hand,
    “Joe, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Katherine Page.”

    Joe reached out to shake her hand. Her handshake was firm and confident,
    “And I’m Joe Quick, this is Bryce.”

    When she was done shaking Joe’s hand she reached for Bryce’s hand,
    “Katherine, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

    Katherine mimicked Bryce,
    “Bryce, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

    Joe took in the young women slowly. He didn’t noticed when he first saw her that she was cute with grey eyes and shoulder length brown hair. She was at least 5’9’ maybe taller and fit looking. Even dressed in a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt she looked good and he was thinking if she had a good sense of humor he’d want to know eventually if she was in a relationship,
    “Let’s sit, I hope you don’t mind Bryce joining us, I’m under his protection.”

    Bryce smiled,
    “Joe, I’m going to sit over there. You can have your interview in private. Katherine any woman that goes by Kitten I just had to meet in person. And you young lady live up to that name, quite well I might add. Joe’s had an interesting week and desperately needs your help. Don’t take no for an answer.”

    Kitten laughed,
    “I’ll take that as a compliment. Maybe someday when I know you better I’ll explain my nickname and it was nice to meet you.”

    Bryce wondered off toward a table that was far enough away that Joe could conduct his interview privately.

    Joe looked quickly at the menu already knowing what he was getting,
    ‘Katherine, I can recommend the gyros and the spanakopita. The Tzatziki sauce is very good and I think it has loads of garlic.”

    Katherine looked at the menu and set it aside just as their server approached the table.

    She took Joe’s advice and ordered the same as he did. With the ordering over Katherine pulled 2 small legal pad from her purse and 2 pens. She slid one across the table to Joe,
    “I thought you might need this. Now where do you want to start?”

    Joe took the offered notebook and began,
    “Katherine, I’m going to ask questions about your personal world view.
    I’m always going to honest with you and I expect you to be honest with me. Is that a problem?”

    Katherine nodded,
    “That’s not a problem for me. Writing a book is a labor of love and finding the right people to support your effort is crucial.”

    Joe continued,
    “First I’d be interested in hearing about your politics. Then briefly explain your position on Abortion, Health Care, Gun Control and Global Warming.”

    Katherine smiled,
    “Well, I’ve always voted Republican. I’m leaning toward a more Libertarian viewpoint as I get older. I’m Pro-Choice, anti health Care reform, pro guns and have a carry permit and think Global Warming is another example of the Nannies brainwashing the public without knowing what they say they know.”

    Joe paused and made some notes on the pad in front of him,
    “I see, and how do you feel about a book about how the extreme left wing is resorting to violence?”

    Katherine blinked twice,
    “Frankly I’m pissed, who these people think they are using tactics that are a mainstay of the third world. Our system elects people to represent them and they think torching car lots and spiking trees is more moral than participating in the process. If they disagree with what’s happening they should help get people elected that support their views. The reason they don’t play within the system is that most people disagree with their more radical positions for one reason or another. Hell look at Obama-care, a majority of Americans disagree with the program. The money part of the equation could be crippling, yet its happening. It proves that a minority viewpoint can override the majority and yet these nuts still embrace the ways of violence and anarchy. Where does it all end? With another loss of life like the Murrow building disaster? The right is in the same position, we must find middle ground or these disagreements will destroy us all.”

    Joe nodded knowingly,
    “I agree, the more I research it the more concerned I am for the future. I can see the Democrats taking a big hit in the upcoming elections because of the policies of the Democratic majority and the public’s current distaste for White House policies. Your answers are acceptable and I think I’d be lucky to work with you. That being said I should tell you the reason Bryce is with me is because I’ve racked up a ton of hate mail, some of which are credible death threats. I can provide a few details that underscore how bad it is, however I will need you to promise that you never tell anybody and it never ends up in any form in any of your writing. I will ultimately end up telling less than 5 people and it’s important that as few people know as possible.”

    Katherine paused while considering the situation,
    “I can live with that.”

    Joe jumped right to it,
    “I’ve seen your work and its fine. In fact I felt a connection as I was reading what you had written and that must mean you’re talented. You can have the job if you can work it out with Dorth Mann. The problem is that reaction to my appearance on the talk shows combined with what happened originally means I’m getting lots of death threats. Well, death threats are usually no big deal but a Federal Agent sat down with me yesterday and explained that I might be in danger from the partners of the lady from the book store. They think two other team members may be looking to hurt or kill me. My home address was posted on a site that may be being used by a direct action team or teams.”

    Katherine looked surprised,
    “You weren’t kidding, Bryce is your bodyguard. How long have you been under protection?”

    Joe smiled,
    “We received information from the Federal Agent a few hours ago that means I’m staying with Bryce’s partner in a safe location and have my own safe room. The reason I was 3 minutes late is that I just put a hold on my mail and cleaned out my house of all personal information and retrieved my guns and photos. Bryce and his partner have also been giving me firearm training and I now have a 3 hour a day self protection training schedule for my little vacation. To make matters worse they fitted me with a bullet-proof vest and it’s chaffing.”

    Katherine laughed,
    “Honestly, chaffing sounds like the least of your concerns. I was told that this was a ghosting job and not a co-author gig. With that in mind, I’d say that working with you shouldn’t be a problem. Security wise, that is. If you ever get the book published it sounds like the back story is going to sell a lot of copies. Well, unless.”

    Joe was confused,
    “Unless, what?”

    Katherine looked embarrassed,
    “Unless you get killed.”

    Joe winked at her,
    “Kitten, I’m not going to die. The feds are working on tracking down the rest of the team and I have good security at a good location. Bryce and his partner are serious and don’t mess around. No detail is too small to be examined to see how it affects my personal security.”

    A coy smile crossed Katherine’s mouth,
    “Well, now that we’ve settled that and I’m hired we should ask Bryce to join us.”

  33. #33
    At The Podium
    Part 27

    Joe walked over and told Bryce the interview was over and that he should come back and eat with them. About that time the food Katherine and Joe ordered was brought to their table and Bryce agreed to join them.

    Bryce sat down and had some questions,
    “Joe, did you hire the girl?”

    Joe answered as he arranged the food on his plate,
    “The job is hers if she wants it. I explained the death threats and the security aspect to her. All she needs to do is work out a deal with my literary agent.”

    Bryce had a pained expression on his face,
    “Katherine, please tell me he just didn’t say literary agent as I’m waiting for my food. I swear, I’ll be sick right now. Joe you’re not going to go all stuck-up on us are you?”

    Katherine was working on a bite of her gyro and waited to say something till after she swallowed,
    “Bryce, if the agent picked him he’s going to get published. His story will sell some books. How many depends on PR, publicity and current events at the time. I can shape the book into a pretty good read and they might even option his personal story for a movie depending on how weird it gets and how many books he sells. His movie wouldn’t be made very soon but maybe down the road like they did with that gay politician in San Francisco.”

    Joe looked up from chewing,
    “Bryce, if I ever get too stuck-up, you or Lazarus can remind me how scared I am of a ninja assassin catching me alone in a public bathroom at the urinal. I see me struggling to hold my pants up and get to my gun at the same time. I don’t want to get dead in the bathroom with my pants down around my ankles.”

    Katherine and Bryce both laughed and Joe noticed Katherine laugh was genuine and heartfelt. It seemed as if the world was alright and for a minute he forgot that he had just abandoned his house and was wearing a bullet-proof vest. The chaffing reminded him, it was nice while it lasted.

    The trio finished up dinner and Joe gave Katherine his contact information. Bryce had learned during dinner that Katherine had a carry permit and invited her to come and check out the range the next time she was in town.

    She promised to do that regardless if she was able to work something out with Dorth Mann or not.

    After she walked out of the restaurant Bryce turned from waving to her to Joe,
    “I assume your buying dinner. Let’s get the bill paid and get going. We better hurry, I love Greek food, it just doesn’t agree with me.”

    Joe paid the bills and they piled into Bryce’s Suburban for the ride to Joe’s new home away from home. There he discovered that sitting on the toilet is a task best performed without the benefit of wearing a bullet proof vest. An item of interest that Bryce failed to mention on the tips sheet he had given Joe.

    Joe entered his new room and lay on the bed exhausted from the day’s events. It was maybe one of the 5 most interesting days in his life. He slept with a sense of relief, he had found a group of people that thought like him and it felt good. In fact it felt really good.

  34. #34

    At The Podium Part 28

    At The Podium
    Part 28

    Joe woke up to the smell of bacon and rolled out of bed and put on a pair of sweats and made his way to the kitchen. Lazarus was frying bacon and making a pot of coffee.

    Joe sat down at the counter,
    “Lazarus, what’s for breakfast? I’m starved and we didn’t pick up any foods before we came back last night.”

    Lazarus turned and looked Joe in the eye,
    “The eggs and bacon is for me and you get yogurt and toast. The good news is a have 4 different kinds of yogurt, plus plain if your inclined.”

    Joe felt as if had been kicked in the stomach,
    “I’m afraid to ask about lunch. Some sort of sprouts and cottage cheese?”

    Lazarus smiled,
    “No, actually we’re going to have roast turkey sandwiches on whole wheat. Now eat and get to work, you have until 11:00. Today we start with stretching and some weightlifting. At Noon we do self-defense and then you shower and we shoot tonight before dinner. If you’re ready, I have a shooters challenge for you.”

    Joe ate his meager breakfast and hit the internet and did research for his book. His plan was simple. Work, Eat, Train and Sleep. If he hit it hard he could make some real progress by removing distractions like TV and a personal life. He was thinking the sooner he finished the book stuff the sooner he could focus on trying to make sense of his situation.

    Around 11:00 Lazarus walked up to him at the counter where he was working. Joe was at good stopping point and Lazarus wanted to spend a few minutes talking before they begun,
    “Joe, we skipped this yesterday and it could be important. Based on your situation we don’t want you opening packages till we hear from Ringg that the situation has been resolved. All packages must be scanned by Bryce’s x-ray equipment and sniffed by the bomb dog. It may seem silly but better to be safe than sorry.”

    Joe looked at Lazarus and again thought that these men might hold my life in their hands,
    “I understand, I think I can remember that. You guys have an x-ray machine and a bomb dog?”

    Lazarus smiled,
    “Part of our business is high end security and personal protection. We have an array of equipment usually only used by government and Fortune 500 executives. The x-ray machine is 5 years old and we convinced a few CEO’s to quit opening mail unless we scan it first. That is part of our business day, with them the secretary is more likely to get hurt than the CEO since most Executives have assistants that open mail for them.”

    Joe shock his head,
    “The more time I spent with you two the more amazed and terrified I become. Most of the book stuff I’m doing will be over the Net, so we’re good there. The only mail I usually receive are a few magazines and bills.”

    Lazarus got up and began to walk to the stairs,
    “Get your workout clothes on, now the fun begins. You need to get that body of yours a lot more flexible. And remember the puking rule, use the trashcan.”

    Joe enjoyed the stretching and it reminded him of what happens when you spend so much time sitting on your ass. Lazarus was more laid back knowing that he was going to be working out everyday and Joe felt good as they finished the self-defense portion of his daily training.

    Over lunch Lazarus also mentioned that he needed to pull his vehicle into the garage to insure it wasn’t tampered with,
    “I forgot to mention that I need to know if you have any GPS devises on your vehicle.”

    Joe shook his head no as he chewed his sandwich. Finally he swallowed,
    “No, but my phone has a GPS in it. Should I disable it?”

    Lazarus nodded,
    “Please, the longer we keep you out of sight the better your chances are. You also need to start using cash and not credit cards for all purchases. When you get the cash you’ll need to go 20 miles away to get it. We should assume that eventually your credit cards will be tracked and I don’t want a trail of bread crumbs leading to my front door.”

    Joe swallowed and replied,
    “That makes sense; I’ll go today unless it’s a problem. I was going to find a store and get some food anyway.”

    Just then the intercom buzzed and Lazarus went to see who it was. Bryce replied over the intercom and Lazarus buzzed him in.

  35. #35
    At The Podium
    Part 29

    Bryce was chipper looking as he entered the apartment.

    Joe had to ask,
    “You look happy today, what’s going on?”

    Bryce smiled,
    “Well, first off I got 8 full hours of sleep. And second I did a background check on Kitten Page and she is good. Do you want details?”

    Joe didn’t know if this was snooping or not and decided to risk it,
    “I think I do. What do you think?”

    Bryce smiled,
    “You’ll want to know. OK, no felonies only a few speeding tickets and some parking tickets in college. Her credit is above average good and her expenses look reasonable. She drives in older Honda Accord and has 3,546 in checking and 2,009 in saving. Her references checked out and she has never been sued. Her facebook page lists her as single and going back I discovered her ex’s facebook page and he said they broke up 6 months ago. I’ve perused her writing and she is an anomaly. She’s leans toward the conservative end of the spectrum and has no agenda. She doesn’t blog and her cell phone account shows only 20 texts a month. I cannot get into her laptop but she looks like a keeper.”

    Lazarus chimed in,
    “We did the same checks on you before we took the job. I wanted to tell you now because I know you are wondering. We vet all clients before we take a job. I should tell you what our main businesses are. We do supplemental firearms training for the KCPD SWAT team and the guys in the Intelligence Unit, the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, DEA, Homeland Security and the Air Marshals. Our training is not limited to firearms, we train them in what they need/want to be trained in. As you might have guessed the defensive and protective driving training you’ll eventually get is taught by us.\ or somebody equally or more qualified. We also train VIP’s, their families and bodyguards in the deadly arts of pistol fighting, self-defense, personal protection and conditioning. We have a reputation and only accept certain types of clients.”

    Bryce added,
    “We tend to favor working for capitalist with some morals. We don’t generally mess with celebrities or their ilk. We have a very extensive questionnaire we require before we accept a client and that usually helps separate the wheat from the chaff. You were exempted because we saw you on the local news and your views are similar to ours.”

    Joe finished with his iced tea and set the glass down,

    Bryce tore into a sandwich Lazarus had made him while he was talking,
    “Get a shower, we have errands to run. A member’s wife is dropping off her car at the shop and I volunteered us to pick her up. When I say we support each other I mean it. They don’t have family in town so we all lend them a hand when needed.”

    Joe took his shower and got dressed. He looked over at the vest resting in its holder and decided he better wear it and finished getting dressed. He put on his 2 guns and went back into the kitchen area. Lazarus was sleeping on the couch and Bryce was drumming his fingers on the counter and looking impatient. Bryce looking at his watch told Joe he had better get used to living on everybody else’s schedule.

    He looked up,
    “Good, you’re ready. Do you have your Guns, light and vest? Oh, and bring some water. Say 6 bottles, which should be enough.”

    Joe replied,
    “Check, I’ve got them all and I’ll grab the bottles of water.”

    With the water acquired the men left to run their errands. The member’s wife was super nice and their pre-school age son managed to ask Joe why he was wearing a vest like daddies. Joe didn’t have an answer, luckily mom stepped in to help out. He’d have to remember to ask later if the vest was printing or if the small child was very observant.

    With the errands run Joe got some work done before Lazarus announced dinner and explained that shooting would be with a 22LR rifle.

    After a healthy unfulfilling dinner Lazarus retrieved a scoped competition 10-22 from his bedroom and spent 45 minutes explaining the art of the rifle and teaching Joe to shot it effectively. After they were done Lazarus went into the bedroom and attached a suppressor on the 10-22 and removed the scope they had used downstairs. He placed another scope on the weapon and zeroed it on the small range downstairs. He also was carrying a set of binoculars and a bottle of water

    When he finished he pointed to the roof,
    “I teach the next part of the course on the roof. This is a first generation night vision scope. Our wholesale price is right at $500.00. Please be careful with it, don’t drop the gun or treat it roughly. Better dress warmly and visit the restroom before we go up.”

    Joe did as he was instructed and followed Lazarus onto the roof and Lazarus turned to him and handed the rifle to him. He spoke in a low tone of voice,
    “This area has rats and even if we bait and trap some of them get smart and avoid getting killed. Tonight we will be shooting them. Generally, they are around the rotting food we set out occasionally. It is about 40 yards to the target areas and we scan before we shoot to insure their aren’t any street people around. The Police patrol this area a lot and drive the bums, drunks and such away from the area. We shoot only into targets on soft ground and not concrete, we require good backstops and are using light loads to avoid ricochets. I’ll spot for you, take your time, rats are quicker than you think and are hard to hit at this distance.”

    Joe took the rifle and both men got comfortable in the chairs placed near the edge of the roof. They both scanned the area with their eyes and the night vision equipment to insure it was devoid of other people.

    Bryce pointed out the area that the rats were in and Joe took his first shot. The shot was low and Lazarus showed him how to adjust the scope and the second shot was a hit. Joe moved the weapon to the second area and missed again. After a few words from his teacher the second shot found its mark and another rat was history.

    While not as effective as baiting it was a method to keep the rat population under control. Joe managed to shot 5 rats with 10 shots fired and Lazarus declared the night a success.

    Lazarus then took the rifle and proceeded to knock down another 3 rats in 10 minutes with Joe acting as spotter. After waiting 10 more minutes no more rats were seen so then men trundled back into he building.

    Lazarus pulled a cleaning kit from his bedroom and showed Joe the proper way to clean the 10-22 they had used as he talked,
    I like to think that this is our version of urban sniper training. We have a shooter and a spotter just like the military uses. Now overseas they also deploy a security team with the sniper team. That allows the sniper team to focus on their mission and not have to worry about counter-snipers and other hazards in a hostile environment. It seems mundane but we are getting used to each other and you are gaining valuable knowledge at the same time. The river isn’t too far away from us here and sometimes we go down there to kill some rats on a piece of property that we do security for.”

  36. #36

    At The Podium Part 30

    At The Podium
    Part 30

    Joe awoke the next morning at 7:30 and got out of bed. He was so tired he was peeing before he figured out that he was sore. Very sore, apparently his body had chosen now to remind him that he was over 30 in not very good shape.

    Joe rummaged around in his duffle for some ibuprofen and dry swallowed 3 of the 200 milligram gel caps. After brushing his teeth he headed to the kitchen to hear what kind of hell Lazarus and Bryce had in mind for him today.

    Bryce was watching a morning show and Lazarus had a phone to his ear and was nodding at what was being said. Joe waited to hear what he was allowed to eat and finally decided he’d grab a cup of yogurt from the refrigerator.

    After getting his yogurt he sat down at the counter and began watching an actor talk about his trip to some poor nation in Africa. Joe heard his phone ring and went to the safe room to answer it.

    After 20 seconds he finally found it,
    “Joe speaking.”

    On the other end of the phone came the unmistakable voice of Dorth Mann,
    “Joe, its Dorth and I have news. Are you sitting down?”

    Joe snapped his attention back to what he was doing and he answered,
    “Dorth, I’m being forced to eat yogurt. What’s going on? Please tell me you have good news.”

    Dorth replied with news he felt was good,
    “Well, a company that arranges speakers for groups and corporate functions called me this morning and is interested in contracting with you for a 10 city speaking tour. Mostly Midwest stuff and all the engagements are with sympathetic crowds.”

    Joe paused mulling the idea over,
    “Dorth, my security guys will not allow me to travel alone and will need to accompany me. Does the job pay enough for that? I think we’d need to drive.”

    Dorth paused,
    ”Joe, how bad is it? You’re guy needs to go with you?”

    Joe had already debated about how much to tell Dorth Mann and decided he’s share it all,
    “Dorth, I have an abnormally large amount of hate mail and death threats. The analysis is indicating that some of the threats are legitimate and we are acting accordingly. Also, a Federal Agent has informed me that the women at the book store might have 2 partners looking for me. They might be some sort of a domestic terrorist cell and might want to hurt or kill me.”

    Dorth paused on the other side of the call,
    “Joe, I didn’t know it was that bad. Can they keep you safe?

    Joe laughed,
    “Dorth, you have no idea. I’ve relocated to their place and I’m sleeping in a safe room.
    They fitted me with a bullet-proof vest and I’m receiving 3 hours of firearm and self-defense training a day. I removed all my personal stuff from my house since somebody posted the address on the internet and the Federal Agent thinks living there is a bad idea.”

    Dorth swallowed and replied,
    “I’ll be vague and feel them out about the speaking engagements. Do you think that the security guy will approve it if he can go with you?”

    Joe added,
    “All I can do is ask him. Also, I had dinner with Kitten Page. She is great, can we get her hired? When I mentioned my predicament she laughed and said the story will sell lots of books.”

    Dorth had recovered,
    “Yes, it will. That story will sell lots of books. How is the research going?”

    Joe smiled to himself,
    “Dorth, the research is going well. Did you say you might be able to sell the book based on an outline?”

    Dorth answered the question,
    “It happens; even a first-time writer with the back-story we have would do well. How much of what you told me can I float to publishers?”

    Joe looked at his phone as another call was coming in. It was Kitten,
    “Dorth, the Federal Agent says to keep the information private till they get a better handle on the situation. Dorth, I’ve got Kitten on the other line. Can you hold for 20 seconds?”

    Dorth replied,
    “Sure, tell her I said hi.”

    Joe clicked over and had missed Kitten. He thought about their dinner together and the information Bryce had compiled about her life.

    Joe clicked back over to Dorth,
    “I missed her.”

    Dorth could be heard typing on a keyboard,
    “Joe, let me call the women for the speaking engagements and ask about the security and ground travel and see if that works for them. Ask the guy that does your security if you can go if I can swing a deal.”

    Joe looked at his nails and was thinking about Kitten,
    “I’ll ask him and call you back.”

    Both men ended the call and went about their day.

  37. #37
    At The Podium
    Part 31

    Joe walked back to the kitchen to rinse the yogurt containers and his spoon; he placed the spoon in the dishwasher and waited while Lazarus finished up his phone call.

    Joe started talking as soon as Lazarus hit the end button,
    “Guys, I’ve been offered some speaking engagements in the Midwest. I told Dorth that I’d check with you guys and see if I can do them if I take security along. He’s checking to see what the security budget and security arrangements are and I can let him know if we only drive to events.”

    Bryce shook his head,
    We might be able to swing it if the budget is there. Personally, after 9-11 I hope to never fly again. I’ll drive or take the train but the days of me doing business with the idiots that compromised security and gave a flying bomb over to terrorists will only get my money by scamming the government. Also, between the security checkpoints and the hassle of getting firearms thru it’s not worth it.”

    Lazarus looked at Joe,
    “We have other guys so if the money is right and the job can be accessed then it might be doable. Did you tell Dorth how bad it is?”

    Joe looked the man in the eye,
    “I gave him the high points. I’m being cagey about your names and didn’t tell him where we are. I also didn’t reveal the name of the Federal Agent we’re dealing with. I’m used to holding back information about my prepping so it comes easy. The reason I admitted prepping to you two other than the fact you guessed it is that your methods, presence or training may someday save my life.”

    Lazarus smiled,
    “Good, I never want to go all paranoid on you but we should limit any and all information that can compromise your safety. Remind me to get you a disposable phone with the pre-paid minutes out of my safe. We need to rotate numbers on a weekly basis. It’s imperative that only the people you absolutely need to stay in touch with. Maybe your literary representative, Kitten if you end up working with or dating her and your mother. We will be piggybacking on somebody’s wireless router and using VOIP from today forward. Also, I know its sounds silly but we load you in the vehicles from the garage and you don’t use the main door anymore.”

    Joe blinked as tried to stretch out his aching back,
    “Well, Dorth will check on the arrangements for the speaking tour and I’ll let you know what they say. So tell me what fresh hell is on the agenda for today?”

    Lazarus looked at Joe,
    “Special Agent Ringg called and needs to drop by and talk to us. He’s on his way and should be here in 20 minutes or so.”

    Joe walked back to his room and grabbed his stuff for a quick shower. 20 minutes later after a good shower and a quick shave Joe wondered back into the kitchen to wait for Agent Ringg.

    The intercom sounded and Lazarus looked at the monitor to see Special Agent Ringg waiting next to the door. Lazarus hit the release for the door and they all watched as Agent Ringg opened the door and walked thru it.

    The men walked downstairs to meet Agent Ringg and shook hands all around.

    Since Agent Ringg requested the meeting he began by giving the men an update,
    “We’ve received a break on the team looking from you from Sky Jackson. We have names and hometowns and are looking for them. Zui Ling Long is the IT guy and a Barbie Queensland is the logistics part of the trio. Both have been arrested at demonstrations for environmental causes and are from Portland. According to Sky Jackson they all received some training in bomb making and arson and she’s agreed to work with us in exchange for considerations. With this new information I strongly believe the threat to your life is legitimate. I thought I should let you know since I might affect the way your security is handled.”

    Bryce asked the next question,
    “How extensive is the training they received and is their level of training adequate to make them a legitimate threat?”

    Ringg opened the leather briefcase he had brought with him and removed a folder.
    “This is a copy of the information we have, I had to redact a few paragraphs. Don’t let anybody know I gave this file to you guys. We’ve arranged a sting at a local hotel and hope that they are monitoring Joe’s credit card. I’ll let you know how it goes. Any other questions?”

    Joe glanced over at Ringg,
    “Sure, I do. When do you think they will be apprehended?”

    Ringg smiled and shrugged his shoulders,
    “You’re guess is as good as mine. We have pulled some strings and tasked some additional resources to this effort. We hope that the reputation of this Long is as good as his file indicated and finds the breadcrumbs we are going to leave him and that they follow them into our trap.”

    Lazarus simply took the file,
    “Thanks for the help, we appreciate it.”

    Ringg finished his briefing and left Joe to his research and his writing.

  38. #38

    At The Podium Part 32

    At The Podium
    Part 32

    Bryce let Joe work for a few hours as he and Lazarus discussed some ideas about doing security if the speaking engagement arrangements could be worked out. The men also worked on some other projects that they had going including the food drive they did for a small food pantry located near their future homes. All their members that planned on making the small community their home in the future participated and the small charity was grateful for the help.

    The men felt that some time spent working would calm Joe down and get him used to working under stressful conditions. They knew from experience that any job was made harder when a little stress was added to the equation.

    Just before Noon Bryce walked to Joe’s room and asked him to grab his old Mossberg shotgun and his Glock G30 when he got to a stopping point and come down to the range. Joe’s old Mossberg had been fitted with an aftermarket stock and a ghost ring sight kit since he had brought them to the safehouse and Lazarus had supplied him with 50 rounds of Low Recoil Buckshot to put in his range bag.

    Joe came downstairs and set the weapons on the shooting counter while he attached the inside the waistband holster for the Glock. He then put on his shooting glasses and sound cancelling earmuffs and slid the sub-compact Glock .45 Caliber into the holster. The shooting counter was on wheels and Bryce had moved it toward the end of the range, 8 yards or so separated the counter and the targets.

    Bryce was waiting right next to the counter and already had his eyes and ears on,
    “Joe, I’d like to work on a shooting under stressful conditions drill. First let’s work on shotgun basics and see where you’re at.”

    Bryce ran Joe thru basic combat shotgun training similar to what was taught in Police Academies across the country. Bryce had distilled most of the information down to smaller chunks to insure that the 2 hour block of time he had allotted was productive. Bryce was happy with the results of the training cycle and made some notes in one of his notebooks as Joe finished up the last exercise.

    Bryce closed his notebook and looked at Joe,
    “Joe, you’re doing well with the shotgun. I want to introduce some stress into your regular firearms training. Prepare your sidearm and stand ready. When I give you the verbal command I need to see 2 good hits on both those paper targets.”

    Bryce turned and went upstairs to the apartment. He would watch the results of the training on the CCTV monitor that was used as a training aid. When he sat down at the monitor and waited Joe appeared calm and ready for action. He switched the camera to its night vision setting.

    Bryce flipped on the power to the system that allowed the firing line to hear instructions
    thru the overhead speakers. He quietly spoke into the microphone,
    “Ready, and go.”

    At the same time he flipped the lights off and turned on a sound effects tape at a high level that wouldn’t activate the sound cancelling earmuffs. He waited while Joe found his light and brought both his weapon and his light into action.

    Bryce heard the shooting stop at the line and could hear Joe yell. He turned the lights on and stopped the noise recording and headed down to see the results of the exercise.

    Joe had his weapon on the shooting counter with the magazine removed and the slide locked back and was peering at the target. He turned as he heard Bryce step onto the floor from the stairs.

    He looked back at his target again,
    “That was interesting; I think 3 or 4 of my shots missed the target.”

    Bryce smiled as he walked over to Joe,
    “We shall see. Tell me what you we’re thinking.”

    Joe looked embarrassed,
    “I wasn’t. The man says shoot and that’s what I did. I located my light and did a failure to stop drill on each target. I hope that with the noise that I still made good hits.”

    Bryce walked over to the targets and pulled them off the holders. He examined them and turned to walk back the 8 yards to Joe,
    “2 magazines and 8 random hits total. Needs work, I have a battery of unconventional training exercises that I think will help. The purpose of the drill was to introduce both stress and surprise into the drill. Your time was OK, but we need more hits. Someday you may have to perform this drill in a life altering moment and hits equal your best chance at survival.”

    Bryce walked over to Joe and moved him to the side and behind the shooting lane. Joe was now behind Bryce about 10 feet and off to the side.

    Bryce walked to the target holders and put 2 new targets back up. He then walked to the line Joe had shot from and turned toward the targets,
    “Joe, don’t move. I’m going to perform the same drill and need you right behind me. Watch the light work.”

    The lights went off and Joe’s ears were assaulted by the sound effects again followed by the flash from Bryce’s weapon. Bryce fired 6 shots rapidly and then the lights were on again. Bryce removed the magazine from his weapon and replaced it with a fresh one and re-holstered the firearm behind his right hip.

    Bryce walked to the target holders and removed the targets. He examined them as he walked back to Joe. Joe reached out for the targets and saw Bryce had put 2 in the body and 1 in the head on both paper targets.

    Joe was surprised to see Lazarus standing almost right behind him. He hadn’t heard the man come down the stairs.

    Lazarus laughed,
    “I think Bryce can see in the dark like a night predator. He’s the best low-light shooter I’ve ever seen. I swear, I think you could give him a keychain LED instead of a tactical flashlight and he would still put rounds on the target.”

  39. #39
    At The Podium
    Part 33

    After a lunch of grilled chicken sandwiches on whole wheat bread with Lazarus, Joe was about to go back to work when Bryce walked into the kitchen from downstairs.

    Bryce sat in one of the stools at the counter and stared at Joe for a second,
    “Joe, do you wear glasses or contacts?”

    Joe looked at Bryce as he answered the seemingly innocent question,
    “No, my eyes are good. I had them checked maybe 2 years ago. Why do you ask?”

    Bryce still was watching him,
    “Did you ever see the Color of Money with Tom Cruise and Paul Newman? Do you remember when “Fast Eddie” Felson kicked the kid and his girlfriend loose and then shows up sporting those huge 80’s Al Davis glasses? At that point the man is back into the game and a player to be reckoned with. Well, I’m thinking maybe your vision has slipped and we need to get your eyes checked to see if it’s affecting your shooting. When I’m teaching you it just seems as if something is off, I can’t put my finger on it. You’re showing good improvement and with most students I wouldn’t worry about it. But with professionals and high-risk clients it’s better safe than sorry. I know a guy and he can get us in after we run a few errands later today.”

    Joe looked at Bryce and considered what he had said,
    “Recently I’ve sometimes been getting headaches after reading for long periods of time. I thought it was stress or I was tired. If you think I should get checked out, then I should get checked out. What errands do we need to run?”

    Lazarus walked in awkwardly from the bathroom,
    “You’re picking up some supplies for the range. We figured that since you’re away from home in a weird situation that running errands will help normalize your life somewhat. Also, when we talk to our group we want to let them know that you are contributing to the effort.”

    Joe simply nodded,
    “When do we leave?”

    Bryce looked at him,
    “After I fill my water bottle and use the bathroom.”

    Bryce used the bathroom followed by Joe and they set out. Today Bryce had put in a CD of classical music and Joe was enjoying the tranquility and normalness of the excursion.

    After 15 minutes Bryce pulled the Suburban into the small parking lot of a building in the area that was the garment district from around the turn of the century till the 60’s. Now most of the buildings were being converted to lofts or condos. Or, at least before the housing bubble burst they had been turning the buildings into lofts or condos.

    The men were met at the door by a middle aged guy that looked to be a manager or owner and Bryce shook the mans hand as they walked up to him,
    “Roberto, it’s good to see you. How are the twins doing?”

    The man finished shaking hands with Bryce and turned to Joe,
    “They are fine, and you?”

    Bryce turned to Joe,
    “I’m doing great. Roberto, this is Joe and he’s helping me today.”

    Joe stuck his had out and the two men shook. Joe smiled,
    “Roberto, it’s good to meet you.”

    After shaking hands Roberto returned the greeting,
    “Joe, it’s nice to meet you. I see Bryce brought somebody to do the heavy lifting.”

    Roberto turned and started walking toward a 4 wheel flat cart 10 feet away that had a 6foot by 4 foot box on it,
    “Gentleman I apologize for being abrupt, I have a showing in 15 minutes and need to be across the street by then. If you want to grab that cart we can get you loaded and I can make my meeting on time.”

    Both men followed and Bryce grabbed the carts handles and began pushing it toward the door they had entered thru. Joe grabbed the door and stood aside as Bryce manhandled the cart over the threshold and toward the SUV.

    Bryce stopped the cart next to the rear door of the Suburban and opened the rear doors,
    “Let’s get these things loaded.”

    He opened the doors and looked over at Joe,
    “Grab a side and we’ll slide the box in, it should fit.”

    The men slide the box into the back of the boxy SUV and closed the doors.

    Joe took the cart and headed back inside with it and put it back where he had taken it from.

    Roberto smiled,
    “Thanks Joe and it was nice to meet you. Sorry, about the rush and all. In this market there is little room for mistakes in Real Estate sales. It’s been 2 months since I sold anything and I’m hoping to change my luck today.”

    Joe nodded his head as he and Bryce walked back to the door.

    Bryce looked at Roberto,
    “We should get together for lunch next week. It’s been awhile, we can go to that steak place you like and I’ll buy. Also, a buddy is about to put his house on the market up north and maybe I can steer him your way.”

    Roberto laughed,
    “An offer of a free lunch and a referral? How can I turn down a free lunch and a referral? I accept in advance and look forward too it.”

    Bryce turned to go,
    “Roberto thanks for the stuff, it will come in handy and I appreciate it. Let me know if you come across anymore. I’ll need another 10 of them in the next week or so. If it works out we’ll need all you can find. And don’t worry about sex, size, and color or missing parts, we will just end up trashing them anyway.”

    Roberto nodded,
    “I understand, have a good day and let me know about your buddy. I desperately need the listing.”

    Joe and Bryce left and headed back to the warehouse. Bryce was still listening to the classical music and seemed to be in a quiet mood so Joe let the silence stand.

    When they got back to the warehouse Bryce grabbed a 4 wheeled cart and Joe helped him load the box onto it. Joe’s curiosity was getting to him and he was wondering what was in the box.

    Bryce headed the cart to the hidden elevator and Joe followed. Bryce was still quiet as they moved the cart and entered the storage room in the basement. Bryce wheeled the cart to a corner and opened the box and began removing old mannequins and placing them in a large plywood box with wheels.

    Joe was confused,
    “Mannequins? What are these for?”

    Bryce looked over at Joe as he pulled another torso from the large box,
    “We might start using them for firearms training. Roberto found 40 junk mannequins for us and this is the test batch. If we think that the mannequins add a positive dimension to our training we can incorporate them our training regime. Lazarus, you and I are the beta testers starting later in the week. If they don’t help in training we might get them and save them for deception operations like they did in ‘Beau Geste’. Did you see the movie by any chance?”

    Joe smiled and pulled another torso from the box,
    “I’m a big Gary Cooper fan and that is one of my favorite old movies. I’ve seen it maybe 5 times and never get tired of it. Coop was one of the best, ‘High Noon’, ‘Friendly Persuasion’, ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’, ‘Pride of the Yankees’, ‘The Fountainhead’. Even before l started reading Ayn Rand and identified with her philosophy I liked ‘The Fountainhead’.”

    Bryce wrestled the last mannequin out of the box. The mannequin was a smaller children’s model and Joe felt his stomach do something weird.

    Bryce must have caught a look because he set the mannequin down in the plywood box and turned back to Joe,
    “If the shit ever hits the fan, things we never considered become possible. The people that are flexible stand the best chance of surviving and those that fail to adapt put themselves and the people that depend on them in jeopardy. Today is my daughters Birthday. Few parents ever considered that something like 9-11 could kill their child but I stand before you as an example of somebody that imagines even greater loss of life in the future.”

    Joe had many thoughts running thru his mind, yet nothing sounded right,
    “Thank you for sharing that with me, it puts things in a different perspective.”

  40. #40

    At The Podium Part 34

    At The Podium
    Part 34

    Bryce walked to the vault door and entered the combination and spun the wheel to open it. Joe followed as Bryce walked over to a set of drawers and opened one and started rummaging around in it looking for something.

    After setting a hardcase the size of briefcase on the counter he opened it,
    “I’m not going to be able to get you a conversion kit for the G30, we don’t have one. I have a conversion kit for a G27 the .40 caliber subcompact, it’s about the same size will that work?”

    Joe looked in the box at the conversion kits,
    “Sure, I have no idea what you are talking about.”

    Bryce stopped looking thru the box,
    “Sorry, we sometimes use training cartridges for force-on-force training. Basically it’s where we don protective equipment and play the LE/military version of paintball. There are a few differences, like we use real weapons and use a conversion kit to insure no live rounds can be used and it much more expensive. In the next day or so we are going to work on basic clearing of house and buildings and teach you like we do Law Enforcement or military pupils. It’s not like on TV, it can be rather nerve-wracking when you’re wondering around a strange building knowing somebody could step from behind a door and kill you.”

    Joe looked at Bryce as he continued pulling boxes from the case,
    “You make it sound like fun.”

    Joe sarcasm wasn’t lost on Bryce,
    “Well you’re not here for fun. You’re here to learn as much as possible that can save your life. Now we need to get going Dr. Lee is seeing us after hours and time is wasting.”

    Bryce closed the box and reached for the clipboard hanging on a nail a few feet away and entered the information on the items he had taken from the hardcase. He then opened the drawer below and removed a box and entered that information on the clipboard. Satisfied the paperwork was done he returned the clipboard and headed for the door and repeated the process in reverse.

    When they got out to the garage the men entered the SUV and Bryce gunned the vehicle down the street. He seemed different and switched the classical CD for a Reggae compilation that included Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff.

    As Bryce pulled into a medical building parking lot in mid-town Joe’s cell rang and he answered it after seeing it was Katherine Page,
    “Joe speaking,”

    On the other end of the line Kat began speaking,
    “Joe, this Katherine Page. How are you doing today?”

    Joe paused trying to figure how to answer the question and what to say,
    “Katherine I’m great and how is your day?”

    Kitten replied,
    “Pretty good. Listen the reason I called is that I was talking to a colleague at work and they have an opening for a guest speaker in 2 weeks. The original speaker was involved in an accident in Europe and can’t get back in time for the engagement. I mentioned that I had met you thru a mutual friend and she wanted to talk to you about filling the spot. She asked if I had your number and I explained that I would need to check with you first before I could give it to her. I know that Dorth said he thought that you would be getting offers and didn’t know if you were free and if Bryce and your security team would allow it.”

    Joe paused as he followed Bryce into the posh medical building,
    “Katherine, I just talked to Dorth this morning about a 10 city speaking tour and my security team is waiting for specifics before OKing it. I’d love to generate some money and raise my public profile but they will determine what I can and cannot do. If you trust her then I have a number you can give her that is changed every week.”

    Kitten laughed,
    “That sounds like a good plan, can you e-mail me the number and I’ll call her and give it to her. Did Dorth tell you we’re close to a deal?”

    Joe stepped onto the elevator,
    “”Katherine I just stepped into an elevator, can I call you back?”

    Kitten replied,
    “When you get a chance, I stay up till midnight.”

    Joe’s phone was cutting in and out,
    “I’ll call you later.”

    The elevator stopped and Bryce stepped toward the nearest door and opened it. Both men entered a typical waiting room and a 50 year old man of Asian decent sat behind the receptionists counter. As he stood up he maneuvered around the wall and opened the door. While only 5 and half feet tall he was rotund and weighted at least 250 pounds.

    He hugged Bryce and when he released the hug he shook his hand,
    “Bryce, when we get done with your friend lets get you on the table and get some needles into you, it might help with the sadness.”

    The Doctor turned to Joe and stuck out his hand,
    “I am Doctor Lee; Bryce tells me he thinks your eyes are out of whack. I’m going to take a look and we’ll find out if Bryce is right. When is last time you had your eyes examined?”

    Joe wracked his brain trying to provide an accurate answer,
    “I’d say maybe 3 years ago, give or take.”

    Dr. Lee nodded and reached thru the receptionists window and removed a clipboard and handed it to Joe,
    “Please fill this out; while you do paperwork I’m going to give Bryce a treatment. I sense he is burdened with stress and I may be able to alleviate it. Bryce follow me, I now have a special room for my acupuncture and I’ll light a candle and put some soothing music on for you.”

    Bryce and Dr. Lee disappeared around the corner and Joe sat down in the lobby and began filling out the forms the Doctor had given him. He had been done with the paperwork for 10 minutes when Dr. Lee reappeared and escorted him to an exam room with hunter Green walls and a mess of equipment against every wall.

    Dr. Lee gave Joe a though exam and checked him for eye dominance and every know eye malady know to man and pronounced his eyes as being not quite right. Both his eyes weren’t as good as they had been before and Dr. Lee wrote him a prescription for glasses and contacts.

    He then led Joe into another room and explained how contacts worked and how to keep them clean. After showing him how to insert the contact he started handing him samples of the various products he had on the shelves.

    Dr. Lee explained it might be possible to correct only one eye, his right with contacts and still gain the acuity he needed to improve his shooting and use the other eye as his close distance eye for reading and such. By only wearing one contact he benefitted by being less dependant on contacts and from the convenience of only dealing with the distance issue and not the close in distance issue. He would retain that close in sharpness that 2 contacts might not allow.

    Dr. Lee stepped out of the room and Joe waited and tried to get used to having the contact lens in his eye. It felt strange and Joe wondered if he was a candidate for any of the surgeries that seemed to have taken the Eye Correction game by storm.

    Dr. Lee and Bryce walked into the room and Bryce looked is if he had been crying. His eyes and face were red and puffy and he seemed fatigued.

    Bryce looked at Joe and smiled,
    “I knew you needed correction, Doc says you may be able to make due with one lens. I bet your shooting improves and those headaches go away.”

    Joe followed the men to the next room and Dr. Lee rummaged in a drawer and removed a glass case and handed the case to Joe,
    “These glasses are almost perfect for you if you can handle only being corrected in the right eye. If you can adapt to being corrected in one eye come back and we’ll get you set-up right. It looks like your insurance has you covered and I’ll waive any deductibles.”

    The men all walked back to the waiting room and Dr. Lee gave Bryce a hug,
    “I will never forget my friend, we will keep those memories of her alive and you should cherish the time you were allowed to spend with her. She was a great person and I miss her. Be strong and remember her.”

    The men broke the hug and Dr. Lee turned to Joe,
    “Try the contact and or the glasses for 2 weeks and have Bryce call me and we’ll see where we are at. It was nice to meet you. Get in the habit of treating your contacts and glasses with care; someday replacements may not be obtainable.”

    Joe shook the mans proffered hand,
    “Dr. Lee, am I a candidate for corrective surgery?

    Dr. Lee smiled,
    “Joe, it’s possible. I want you to live with using glasses or contacts and the next time we sit down we can have a frank discussion about surgical correction. We should always remember to surgery carries some risk and that it is wise to evaluate with as much information as possible.”

    Joe shook his head,
    “I understand. I appreciate your time and look forward to seeing you again.”

    Joe followed Bryce into the hall and he seemed in better sprits and more focused.


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