The next book in the Bug Out! California series was published last night!

 

The next book in the Bug Out! California Series is published! Available in e-book, Kindle Unlimited, and paperback.

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Here’s a taste of Stolen Youth, released last night in the Kindle Store and Kindle Unlimited.

Ted sat in the passenger seat of the big black SUV, looking at his iPhone. “Should be just around that bend.”

Special Agent Simon Keith was driving. He was in his late thirties, but didn’t look it. He was robust, with thick brown hair, a handsome clean-shaven face, and eyes like a hawk.

“Look. Three dirt bikes over there, in the bushes to the right.” He parked.

“What are you doing?” Ted asked.

“Checking to see if the engines are warm,” he said, getting out. He trotted over, looked at them for a moment, felt the engines, and rushed back.

“Well?” Ted asked.

“Stone cold. A full-sized bike and two child’s bikes. Nice ones, too. They aren’t locked up. Nobody would just leave them like that if they had a choice.”

“Calling it in now,” Agent Joe Cooper said from the back. He was a rookie, with black hair, always chewing gum, his eyes shifting nervously from one thing to another.

Agent Keith drove the SUV around the bend. There was blood on the road in front of them.

“Somebody died on the road there,” Agent Keith said. “We’ll come back to it.” He kept going until they were at the driveway of the house, pulling in to make room for the second SUV.

“Hey, Simon,” Agent Cooper said. “Man and two sons reported missing a week ago. Were out for a Sunday ride.”

“Shit,” Agent Keith said.

“Yeah, shit,” Ted said. They got out of the car.

“Where are all the bodies?” Agent Cooper asked.

“Alien abduction,” Agent Keith said, shooting a sarcastic glance over at him. “Somebody cleaned up the site, obviously.”

“What the hell kind of bullets made those holes?” Agent Cooper asked.

“Looks like a BMG to me,” Agent Keith said. “Fifty caliber. You’re awful quiet, Ted.”

“I’m just here as an observer for the Serial Killer Task Force, through LAPD.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet,” he said. “Going to rush back and report to Malcolm Davis?”

Ted flashed him a look.

“Yeah, Ted, I know you two are tight,” Agent Keith said. “Don’t play us for dummies. If you know details, you’d better not hold back.”

“Come off it,” Ted said. “I’m here to help you guys. You already know that Malcolm Davis and George Franklin were involved. I told you guys, remember?”

“Yeah, so what? Looks kinda like an ambush to me.”

“They were being hunted, Keith, dammit,” Ted said. “You know it.”

“Yeah, I know it. They could have come to us for protection.”

“Hmmm, let’s think about that for a minute,” Ted said. “They come to you. You put them in witness protection. They lose all contact with their family and friends, and get to go live in some hellhole like Fargo, hoping that one of your agents doesn’t decide to put his kids through college by giving out their location. Sounds like a great deal to me.”

“Fuck you,” Agent Keith said, shaking his head. “Fuck you.”

“I’ve seen it happen before,” Ted said. “How many of your men got killed by these assholes again?”

“We were zeroing in on Sailor Boy before your friends got involved,” he spat.

“Why don’t you two zip it?” Agent Cooper asked. “You sound like assholes.”

Agent Keith glared at him.

“You’re the junior agent, so shut the hell up.”

“Baloney,” Agent Cooper said. “I’m not shedding any tears for Jason Beckler, Earl Wilson, or Sadie Evans. No way, no how. And by the way, the live scumbags involved with this mess took out a father and two kids, probably because they simply showed up at a bad time. Too bad those assholes weren’t killed by Malcolm and George too.” He was chewing his gum faster and faster.

“Look around,” Agent Keith said. “Look how many blood spots there are. There were more than three serial killers massacred here.”

The three men were on the porch now, looking in the house, the curtains blowing out the windows at them.

“Hey, Jamie,” Agent Keith yelled. A small lean man trotted over from the second SUV with a plastic case in one hand.

“Yeah,” he said.

“See if you can figure out where on the ridge these fifty-cal shots came from, and then send a couple men up there to survey the spot.”

“On it,” he said.

Agent Keith looked at Ted again. “You really think this was okay?”

“Do I think what was okay? Why are you trying to draw me into this argument? I wasn’t involved.”

“Yeah, but your buddy was,” Agent Keith said. “And the sick thing is that he’ll get away with it again, thanks to folks like you who look the other way.”

“You want to prosecute Malcolm Davis and George Franklin for what happened here?” Ted asked. “Really? Let’s hear how you’re going to convince a prosecutor to take it on.”

“Strange blast pattern by the back edge of the house,” Jamie said, walking up onto the porch.

“Oh, really?” Agent Cooper asked. “Strange how?”

“Shrapnel all around, like something blew up, but it wasn’t a grenade,” he said. “Too small for that.”

“I smell the spook,” Agent Keith said. “Any comments, Ted?”

“How would I know what caused that?” he asked.

Agent Keith shook his head.

“Damn, lots of brains on the walls,” Agent Cooper said. “I’m going to go check the back.”

Ted took one last look around the living room of the house, and then stepped into the front yard, looking around a boulder with bullet scores. He could see from the sand that somebody had been lying there. Good cover.

Agent Cooper trotted over to him. “Look what I found.” He thrust out a gloved hand, holding a crossbow arrow. He looked at Ted’s face, his mouth working the gum hard and fast.

“Better show that to your boss,” Ted said.

Agent Cooper’s eyes narrowed. “You know what he’s gonna say.”

“It’s evidence,” Ted said.

“It feeds the ambush theory,” Agent Cooper said.

“Why do you care?”

“I’ve been studying your friend for a long time, Ted. I don’t want him out of action.”

“You don’t sound like an FBI agent to me,” Ted said softly, a sly smile on his face.

“Let’s just say I don’t believe in a black and white world,” he said. “Unlike Ranger Rick over there.”

“You’re the kind of agent we need,” Ted said. “Malcolm is safe, and we don’t need your career to end over hiding evidence. Give the arrow to your boss, but make sure that all the blood samples in the house get analyzed.”

“Why?”

“Because some of the blood in there belongs to Malcolm, that’s why.”

“Ah, that doesn’t feed the ambush theory, does it?” he asked, smiling as he walked to the house. “Hey, Jamie, send one of your guys in the house. We need to take samples of each and every blood spot. I want to witness the collection.”

Ted turned back to the spot behind the boulder. The impression in the sand was large. Big man. He took a picture, and then got down into a squat and looked more closely around the brush. He saw metal, half covered by sand. Car keys. He grabbed them and felt something else. Is that a wallet? He picked it up, looking around to see if anybody saw him. Everybody was inside or in back of the house. He laid the wallet and its contents out, taking pictures with his iPhone. Most of it was the usual stuff. Credit cards with phony names. Fake driver’s license. In the bill section there was a folded piece of paper, tattered with age. He opened it up, and his eyes got wide. Nicknames, phone numbers, addresses. He took a picture of that, too. Then he quickly re-assembled it and rushed into the house.

“Hey, Agent Keith, you might be interested in this,” he said, handing the wallet and keys to him.

“Where did you find it?” he asked, eyeing him.

“See that boulder out front? Pretty sure Beckler was pinned down behind it. Go look at the sand. Looks like the impression of a large man to me. These were half buried in the sand, under that bush next to the boulder.”

Agent Keith opened the wallet and looked for the driver’s license. His eyes got big. “Jason Beckler. Bingo! Not his name, of course, but a good picture.”

Agent Cooper rushed over and took a look. “That’s one scary-looking motherfucker.”

“That alias seems familiar,” Agent Keith said.

“Forgot to look,” Ted said.

Keith looked closely at the license, reading. “Harold Robbins. That was a famous person, wasn’t it? Can’t quite place it.”

Ted and Agent Cooper looked at each other and chuckled.

 

Pick up your copy here!

 

New book release – Bug Out! California Book 9 – Patriots United.

Bug Out! California Book 9 – Patriots United has just been released.

What would you do if the government took your liberty?

California citizens wage war against the UN, brought in to enforce martial law as their Islamist henchmen terrorize the countryside.

Some citizens feel safer under martial law, free of the street violence and looting.

Other citizens see this for what it is. Globalist tyranny. Their only choice is to fight the invaders, to the death if necessary. They’re making progress, but the cost is high.

In Bug Out! California Book 9, the various groups of patriots begin working together, coordinating battles in the north and south.

The enemy has been losing ground in the north, forcing UN reinforcements to be diverted to Portland Oregon. Their only hope is to re-open the southern border to enemy troops. Islamist fighters are massing in northern Mexico by the thousands. If the enemy can’t bring them into California, they’ll lose the state.

Bug Out! California Book 9 – Patriots United is an action-packed thrill ride, with battle after bloody battle. Read about new weapons systems they bring into play, and new allies who join the fight. Can they finally bring the UN and the Islamists two their knees?

If you enjoy action-packed stories of bravery, determination, and the triumph of the human spirit, you’ll love this episode of the Bug Out! California saga.

Buy your copy today! Click the picture below for details.

Here’s a taste of the upcoming Bug Out! California release.

A huge crowd ringed the Swan Island Basin in Portland, Oregon, many with signs, most wearing all black with masks covering their faces below the eyes. Behind them were several hundred Portland PD officers, in riot gear, attempting to stay between them and a growing number of counter-protesters.

Nathan watched the water nervously as the big EU Navy ship cruised slowly towards the dock. He turned every few seconds to watch the counter-protesters, holding signs that said NO UN along with American flags. He was only twenty-five, medium build, tattoos covering his upper arms and neck, large round earrings stretching his lobes.

“Hey, Sean,” he said quietly. “This makes me nervous. There’s only one way out of here, and that’s more counter protesters than I’ve ever seen before. Why is the Portland PD letting them get so close?”

Sean’s eyes turned his direction, his cheeks rising under his black bandana, eyes smaller as he laughed. “Rednecks and retired people. I’m gonna break some heads as soon as the UN Peacekeepers show themselves.” He was smaller than Nathan, holding a long stick with finishing nails sticking out a few inches on either end, his medium-length blonde hair shining in the sun.

“I’m hearing bad rumors,” Nathan said, looking back at the ship as it slowly moved towards the dock, a crew there now to grab the ropes. A UN flag rose on the flagpole over the bridge, and a cheer went up from a few thousand black-clad people.

“Watch those Nazis crap themselves when the UN Peacekeepers come down the planks,” Sean said.

“The reactionaries outnumber the police now,” Nathan said. “At least two to one, and they’re still showing up.”

“And we’ve got sixty thousand UN Peacekeepers getting off that boat,” Sean said. “You worry too much. As soon as we get rough with those right-wingers, they’ll turn tail and run… and even if they don’t we’ll be protected by the police as usual.”

“The public is starting to see through this, you know.”

“So go home, little boy,” Sean said.

“Hey, we’d better get out of here!” cried a woman in black with a mask, her stringy brown hair hanging around her shoulders. “Look at this.”

“Shut up, Emily,” Sean said.

“What do you see?” Nathan asked, rushing over. She held her phone in front of him. It was news-chopper video of the area. There was a vast multitude of people heading in on all streets, crossing North Willamette Boulevard. “My God. How many people is that?”

“Let me see it,” Sean said, rushing over and looking. He laughed. “You guys are assuming that they’re not on our side.” Emily and Nathan looked at him like he was crazy.

“We know the community,” Emily said. “If there was this many people coming, we’d have known about it days ago.”

“Well run along home, then,” Sean said, turning back to the ship. It was tied to the dock now, and the gang plank was being rolled up.

“Oh, God,” Emily said, looking at her phone again. “Is that another warship. See it? Just getting to Kelley Point Park.”

“There’s more than one ship in the EU Navy, you idiot,” Sean said, looking over at the counter demonstrators again. Several black-clad thugs were rushing past the police line, attacking counter protestors as the police stood by and watched. Suddenly the number of counter demonstrators increased and the police loudspeaker warned all the protestors to go back to their sides. Sean ran towards them as Nathan and Emily watched.

“Moron,” Emily said. “Want to go? No paycheck is worth this.”

“Dressed like this, we’ll never make it past Willamette,” he said. “C’mon, let’s jump the box factory fence and get on one of the semi-trailers in the yard. We can watch from there, then slip out in the confusion.”

“Okay,” she said. They pushed their way towards the fence as most of the black-clad thugs headed to the counter-demonstrator lines. The police began to fire tear gas at the growing crowd of citizens, ignoring the thugs who raced in and attacked them.

Nathan climbed the fence, turning when he was on the far side to help Emily up. They both hit the pavement of the box factory lot and raced towards the row of semi-trailers parked at the loading docks.

“There’s one we can get on,” Nathan said, racing towards it, Emily struggling to keep up. He leapt onto a dumpster next to one of them, and jumped, getting a good hand hold and pulling himself up on top. “C’mon, I’ll grab you.”

Emily looked at him, scared to death, frozen in place.

“Now, dammit!” Nathan shouted.

She snapped out of it and ran, jumping onto the dumpster, taking Nathan’s hand. He pulled her up, and they both stood.

“Holy crap,” Emily said, watching the hand-to-hand fighting between the black-clad people, citizens wearing casual clothes, and police, who were firing bean bags at the counter protestors now.

“Look, UN Peacekeepers!” Nathan said, pointing. “They’re coming down the gang plank in a hurry! That’ll show the reactionaries.”

Emily turned to Nathan, horrified. “They’re lining the deck with their guns out.”

“Show of force,” Nathan said. “Good. That battle is getting out of hand.”

“Our people are getting the crap beat out of them,” Emily said, watching as more and more citizens rushed in, trampling the protesters, kicking them and punching them as they tried to fight back with their clubs, sticks, pepper spray, and bags of urine.

“Look, the police are running away,” Nathan said. “Dammit. What are they doing? There’s still too many counter-protesters here!”

“Damn Mayor’s office,” Emily said. “This is complete lack of coordination.”

Suddenly gunfire erupted from the deck of the ship, UN Peacekeepers firing into the fighting crowd, hitting the black-clad people and counter-protesters alike.

“No!” Emily shouted, watching people falling to the ground. Then there were screams and yells as the area flooded with thousands of armed citizens, taking aim with their rifles and firing at the ship, killing several of the Peacekeepers as the rest dropped behind cover in shocked horror. Automatic fire started up from several groups of citizens, bullets hitting the gang plank, knocking down the Peacekeepers who were trapped there.

“Those are military weapons!” shouted Nathan. “I see M60s and M-16s! Where’d they get those?”

“You know how those white nationalists are,” Emily said, tears running down her cheeks.

“They can’t own those,” Nathan said. “Somebody gave those guns to them for this event.”

“Those sailors are uncovering the weapons on the boat,” Emily said, her eyes wide as they opened fire on the crowd, strafing with machine gun fire. One of the citizens with an M60 fired back, hitting the men behind one gun, another gunner hitting the man. Several more citizens with M60s rushed up, firing from behind cover now. The UN Peacekeepers were back, firing, hitting citizens, but also taking fire from every direction around the dock, many of them hit.

“This is horrible,” Nathan said.

“Here comes that other boat,” Emily said. “Shit, that’s a US Navy ship!”

Just as the words left her lips, several missiles were fired, all of them hitting the EU ship, blowing the top half of it to pieces, silencing the machine gun fire. A cheer rang out from the multitude, sounding like a huge roar.

“We’d better get out of here,” Emily said.

“Take off that outfit,” Nathan said, pulling off his black shirt.

“I can’t, I don’t have anything on underneath.”

“Look, there’s more of them,” shouted an old man holding an M-16, leading a group of citizens onto the box factory lot. Those were the last words Emily and Nathan heard.

 

Bug Out! California Book 1 is now available in the Kindle Store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

The Plan – How the Bugout! War Started is now available in the Kindle Store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 1 is now just 99 cents in the Kindle Store! Free in Kindle Unlimited! This is the story of Texas Patriots and their struggle against enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Bug Out! War. Chock full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance. Pick up your copy of Bug Out! Texas Book 1 today!

 

Please visit and like my author page on Facebook!

 

Here’s the series that started it all! Bug Out! Pick up your copy of book 1 for just 99 cents in the Kindle Store!

 

Horror Road – A Supernatural Thriller! Available now in the Kindle Store!

 

The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”

 

Copyright Robert Boren 2018

Here’s an excerpt from Bug Out! Texas Book 7 – currently in editing.

Bugout_cover

Chapter 12 – News Conference

Richardson and Lita sat on the front porch next to Roberto and Kris.

“You think we’re gonna be safe here?” Kris asked. “We really poked the hornet’s nest.”

“Depends on if there’s more bases close by,” Richardson said.

“Yeah, that’s the real question,” Roberto said. “You get chewed out by your CO?”

“Not really,” Richardson said. “After I explained it to him.”

“It went viral,” Lita said. “Big time. We’re even in the international news.”

“I’ll bet half of the media thinks we’re villains,” Kris said.

“Pretty much,” Lita said.

“Screw ‘em,” Roberto said. “Let them have their families attacked.”

“Wish we had an alternate location,” Richardson said. “I feel completely exposed here.”

Roberto’s phone rang. He fished it out of his pocket. “Gerald. I’ll put it on speaker.”

“Okay, Gerald, what’s up?”

“Governor Nelson is gonna do a speech in a few minutes,” he said. “Rumor has it that he’s going to address our posting.”

Richardson chuckled. “This ought to be interesting.”

“I’ll go get the TV turned on inside,” Kris said.

“Yeah, I’ll go with you,” Lita said.

“Better go round up the kids,” Richardson said.

“Shouldn’t we have somebody stay in that boat?” Lita asked.

“We’ll get early warning from the dogs,” Roberto said. “Bring guns inside though, just in case.”

“For sure,” Richardson said, heading towards the boat. “Hey, guys, come on in the house. Nelson’s about to talk.”

“What about guarding the place?” Brendan asked.

“Roberto’s leaving the dogs out here,” Richardson said. “It won’t be for too long.”

“Good, I want to see this,” Juan Carlos said, helping Madison up.

They rushed into the house, Madison barely using her crutches now.

“I’m gonna be nervous the whole time we’re in here,” Hannah said.

“It’ll be okay,” Brendan told her as they went through the door. The TV was already on, the reporters milling around in a crowded press room, waiting for the Governor to come out.

“That’s in the bunker,” Richardson said. “Been down there once.”

“Really?” Lita asked. “Why?”

“Tour, believe it or not,” Richardson said. “Seems like that was a whole different world.”

“Tell me about it,” Roberto said. “Look, here he comes.”

Governor Nelson walked up to the podium, flanked by Major General Gallagher and Chief Ramsey.

“Thank you all for coming. This will be brief. I’ll allow a few questions after the statement.”

There were murmurs in the room. Nelson waited till they died down.

“I’m sure you saw the meme which went viral on the internet last night. It touched off a firestorm in the establishment media, which disturbs me more than the graphic nature of the photos. We’ve had an alarming reaction from the foreign press, particularly in the EU. There are now calls for the UN to move into Texas, if the US Federal Government can’t settle things down here.”

He paused for a moment, watching the press corps, making eye contact with several of the more prominent members.

“I’ve given careful consideration on how to respond to both the meme, and the emotional reaction from the press and some foreign governmental entities.”

Murmurs flooded the room again, as reporters hammered away on their cell phones and tablets.

 “The United States is under attack by foreign groups, aided by treasonous government officials at the state and federal levels. The foreign groups include the following: The Islamic Caliphate. The UN. The Government of Venezuela. The Government of North Korea. Secessionist Militia Groups in the Southwestern states, who recognize neither the Federal Government nor the Republic of Texas. These attacks are being coordinated by the EU leadership in Belgium and their Globalist partners, foreign and domestic.”

The room exploded with reactions, from boos to cheers. Nelson waited for the crowd to settle down. Some in the crowd began arguing with each other. Chief Ramsey stepped near the microphone, Nelson backing away.

“Settle down or you will be removed from this facility,” the Chief said sharply.

The group quieted down after a moment.

“Wow,” Richardson said, eyes glued to the screen.

“I love this guy, dude,” Juan Carlos said.

Nelson stepped back up. “The story that the meme tells is true. My office checked it out. Islamist fighters near San Marcos were kidnapping young women. These thugs took them back to their hideout at an abandoned recycling center. They used our women for sex slaves. Some victims were under sixteen years of age.”

“You have proof, I assume,” one reporter spat.

“Yes,” Nelson said. “I talked to some of the parents, and to others living in the area.”

“That doesn’t excuse what our people did,” the reporter said.

“Yes, it does,” Nelson said. “The enemy killed the hostages when Texas Patriots attempted to rescue them. The bodies were still warm when the patriots found them. This cannot stand. I support the actions of these Texas Patriots, and advise the Islamist invaders and their allies to expect similar treatment if they harm Texas citizens in this manner. Do I make myself clear?”

“This is barbaric,” said a female reporter near the back of the room.

“You can say that, as a woman?” another female reporter said. “You’re trash, and so is your movement. I ought to bust you right in the chops.”

“That’s enough,” Nelson said.

“Yes!” Hannah said.

Nelson waited while the crowd settled down.

“Geez, some of these reporters are clueless,” Lita said. “What if this was their wives or daughters?”

“Now, a few comments directly to the EU Leadership and the traitors in the Federal Government,” Nelson continued. “Texas left the union because we discovered what you were planning. We will fight you to the death. If you attack Texas, I suggest you bring a lot of body bags. We have twenty million armed citizens in Texas and they have at least thirty-four million guns between them. That’s not counting our Police Departments and the Texas National Guard. You’ve seen how effective our people can be, in places like Austin, Fort Stockton, Riviera Beach, and most recently San Antonio. Attack us at your peril. As a point of reference, the army of China is under four million troops.”

You could hear a pin drop in the room. Gallagher shot a smile at Ramsey as Nelson collected his thoughts.

“Finally, I have a special message for the UN, which is doing a lot of sabre rattling due to the meme in question.”

“Here it comes,” Richardson said.

“We know what you are doing in California. We know about the murders and rapes. We know about the attempted lockdown of that state. We know you are teamed with the Islamist Army there. We also know California Patriots are fighting you, and we know they will win.”

One of the reporters chuckled. Nelson smiled.

“Contrary to popular belief, there are almost as many guns in private hands in California as there are in Texas. The UN and their Islamist partners will not defeat the armed citizens of California. To aid in the struggle, this administration will make public all reliable stories we receive about actions of the UN in California, and we wish our California brothers-in-arms well.”

There was a smattering of applause in the room.

“If the UN attempts to enter the great state of Texas, they will be met by a hail of bullets. We will hunt you down and kill you like the dogs that you are. You cannot defeat us. We will kill you wholesale. Do I make myself clear?”

Murmurs erupted again, some reporters visibly shaken and others smiling.

“That’s the end of my prepared comments. I’ll take a few questions.”

A reporter in the front raised his hand. Nelson pointed to him, and he stood up.

Price Jones, Washington Post. What’s to stop the Federal Government from just nuking Texas and moving on?”

Nelson chuckled. “They could do that, but they won’t. Texas has friends who understand what the Federal Government is up to. They are prepared to step in.”

“Foreign friends?” the report asked. “Would you like to get more specific?”

“Nope,” Nelson said. “Next question.”

“What’s he talking about?” Brendan asked.

“Probably the Russians,” Richardson said. “They’ve been on our side since the beginning.”

“Quiet, he’s talking again,” Madison said.

“Second row center,” Nelson said, pointing into the sea of raised hands.

A woman stood up. “Kat Bower, MSNBC. Do you consider what was done to the Islamists by the dogs cruel and against the Geneva Convention?”

“Yes,” Nelson said.

“Are you intending on punishing the men who did that?” she asked.

“Nope,” Nelson said.

“Why not?”

“Because child rape and murder of civilians are also against the Geneva Convention,” Nelson said sharply. “That behavior needs to be answered, and the answer needs to be in language that these savages understand. Next question.”

“This is barbaric,” the woman cried.

Nelson ignored her and picked another reporter, towards the back of the room.

“Harrison French, Fox News. Have you been in contact with Ivan the Butcher, and do you support his actions in California?”

Nelson chuckled. “Ivan the Butcher. Colorful fellow. I enjoyed his videos, and look forward to more. I’ve had no contact with him, but I fully support his actions against the invaders in California.”

“Thank you,” Harrison said.

“You’re not going to ask a follow up?” the CNN reporter next to him asked. She was a young woman with blonde hair and an attractive face.

Harrison laughed at her, shaking his head. “No, he answered my question. Do you want me to hammer the Governor for his support of an obvious patriot?”

“This is interesting,” Nelson said. “Bree, what is your follow-up?”

She stood up, a smirk on her face. “This ‘Ivan the Butcher’ character made his fortune on vice operations. Prostitution, gambling, and drugs.”

“That was a statement, not a question,” Nelson said.

She sighed, an exasperated look on her face. “How can you support him given his past actions?”

“Do you support the UN?” Nelson asked.

“Of course,” she said. “They’re a stabilizing influence, and we need that in the world today.”

Harrison burst out laughing. Others joined him.

“Next,” Nelson said.

“You don’t have a comment?” Bree asked.

“Sorry, but you aren’t too bright. Any response to that is a waste of time.”

Half the room cheered, the other half booed. Gallagher was laughing, and shot a glance at Ramsey again, who shook his head. Bree left the room in a huff.

“Sorry folks, that was a little harsh,” Nelson said. “I’ll try to behave. There’s time for a couple more questions.” He pointed to a reporter in the middle of the room.

“Brice Ketchum, Austin American-Statesmen. Are there plans for Texas to rejoin the Union, and if so, when?”

Nelson thought for a moment, the room silent.

“Uh oh,” Richardson whispered, eyes glued to the screen.

“Yes, we expect that Texas will rejoin the Union,” Nelson said. “I can’t tell you the timeframe or the exact circumstances that will lead to our re-entry, but I never intended to have Texas remain an independent republic for the long term.”

“You can’t give us any more info than that?” Brice asked.

“Well, this war must be over, and the Federal Government must be back under the control of the citizens,” Nelson said. “I’m hoping that’s sooner rather than later. Good enough?”

“For now,” Brice said.

“One more,” Nelson said. He pointed at a woman on the far right-hand side. She stood.

“Christine Simon, KXAN News. Will Texas hold their statewide elections for the next cycle, or will they be put off until the war is over?”

“I’m glad you asked that question, Christine,” Nelson said. “We will absolutely hold our Texas state elections on schedule no matter what, and they will be free and open. I won’t run for re-election, since this is my second term.”

The room burst into questions, reporters raising their hands frantically. Nelson waved to the crowd, left the stage, and headed for the door, Ramsey and Gallagher following him.

“Wow,” Roberto said. “That was quite a press conference. I didn’t vote for this guy, but I’m glad he’s in the job now.”

“This is gonna start a shit-storm,” Lita said.

“Only one thing surprised me,” Richardson said.

“What’s that, honey?” Lita asked.

“Texas has no term limits for Governor,” he replied. “Nelson could run again.”

“He’s doing the right thing,” Kris said. “And I did vote for him. Canceled Roberto’s vote right out.” She giggled.

“Why do you think he’s doing the right thing?” Richardson asked.

“To avoid any appearance that he wants to hold onto absolute control,” Kris said. “This is a great man. I hope Texas appreciates him.”

“He’ll get a lot of heat for what he said to that one idiot,” Brendan said.

“The CNN reporter,” Madison said. “She kinda pissed me off, after seeing what happened to those poor girls at the recycling center. The MSNBC reporter pissed me off more, though.”

“Seriously,” Lita said.

“What now?” Juan Carlos asked. “Should we go back to the boat?”

“Why don’t you stay in here and get some sleep,” Roberto said. “Trust me, the dogs will alert us if anybody shows up. I’ll let them loose. We got the M60s and M-16s in here.”

“You okay with that?” Brendan asked Richardson.

He thought about it for a moment. “Yeah, I am. Chances are good that we destroyed their local capability anyway, and we’ve been running on too little sleep for a few days. It’d be nice to catch up a little bit.”

“Good, then it’s settled,” Kris said. “I’ll show you were the guest rooms are.”

She got up, Lita, Madison, and Hannah following.

“You forgot your crutches,” Juan Carlos shouted to Madison.

“Don’t need them,” Madison said. “Don’t worry about it.” The women disappeared down the hall.

“So, you really think we’re safe?” Juan Carlos asked softly.

“Yeah,” Richardson said. “There was command and control stuff at the recycling center, those Gaz Tigrs, and all of those other supplies. That was a major base. They don’t have the bandwidth to man another one of those close by.”

“I hope you’re right, dude,” Juan Carlos said.

“Me too,” Roberto said. “We’ll find out soon enough.”
 

Bug Out! Book One is now available in paperback! The rest of the series will follow. It’s a new feature that Amazon has provided as part of Kindle Direct Publishing.

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 6 – Citizen Vengeance – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Check out “The Plan” – it’s the story of how the Bugout War started.

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 5 – Wave of Patriots – next in the series is now available in the Kindle store, free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Horror Road Book 4 – the latest in the series is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 4 – Texas Battle Cry is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 3 – Republic in Peril is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 2 – The New Republic is now available in the Kindle Store. Pick up your copy of this exciting thriller today!

 

Bug Out! Texas has just been published in the Kindle Store! This is the story of Texas Patriots and their struggle against enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Bug Out! War. Chock full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance. Pick up your copy of Bug Out! Texas Book 1 today!

 

Please visit and like my author page on Facebook!

 

Here’s the series that started it all! Bug Out! Pick up your copy of book 1 for just 99 cents in the Kindle Store!

 

Horror Road – A Supernatural Thriller! Available now in the Kindle Store

 

The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”

 

 

Copyright Robert Boren 2017

Bug Out! Texas Book 6 is on the way. Here’s a taste.

DarkRoad

Bug Out! Texas Book 6 is now in editing. Should be out in about a week!

Here’s a short selection:

“Well, we need to get out of this area,” Richardson said. “Look, the street is blocked up ahead.”

“There’s no other way out of here, with these damn one-way streets,” Lita cried.

Machine gun fire erupted from above, hitting a car three spots in front of them.

“Out of the car,” Richardson yelled. He rushed to the back, getting out his M-16, shooting at the rooftop where the fire was coming from.

“Juan Carlos, help Madison get to the sidewalk. Brendan, help be with the guns. Lita and Hannah, go with Juan Carlos and Madison.”

“Look out!” Brendan shouted, pointing at the roof on the other side of the street. He aimed the SMAW and fired, hitting the façade of the old building, the man with a machine gun tumbling down to the sidewalk with a blood-curdling scream.

Lita and Hannah got to the sidewalk next to Madison as Juan Carlos raced to get his M-16 from Richardson. He saw somebody coming out of the corner of his eye.

“Fighters on the ground!” he cried, turning and spraying fire in that direction. Then there was a shotgun blast, and several more rifle shots. Juan Carlos turned to see a group of citizens running in his direction.

“Yes!” Juan Carlos shouted, aiming at the approaching Islamists. He opened fire, cutting down several as more fire came from the roof. Brendon aimed the SMAW again, firing, a grenade blowing out the machine gun nest. Suddenly a hail of gunfire hit the side of the building, right by the edge, taking out more of the Islamists.

“The citizens have had enough!” Brendon shouted as he struggled to reload the SMAW.

“Look out, Brendan,” Juan Carlos said, aiming his M-16 at another roof. He fired, forcing the Islamists to duck behind the façade. Brendan aimed the SMAW and fired, blowing up that part of the roof.

“Yes!” a citizen yelled as debris and bodies fell down the front of the building.

“Nice shot, dude!” Juan Carlos said, covering him as he reloaded.

“I’d better check on the women,” Richardson yelled, running towards the sidewalk. They were down on the ground, Lita seeing him as he ran up.

“Give us some guns, dammit,” Lita said.

Richardson nodded, handing her his M-16.

“Now you don’t have a gun,” she said.

“Wanna bet?” he asked, opening the case he carried. He pulled out the BMG .50 cal and turned back to the street. There were more Islamists gathering on one of the roofs, getting ready to pour fire down on the citizens, who had all but slaughtered the Islamists on the ground. Richardson dropped the tripod on the .50 cal, ripped off the lens caps on the scope, and took aim, firing as fast as he could pull the trigger, the bullets smashing right through the cheap façade the enemy fighters were hiding behind.

Brendan and Juan Carlos focused on another roof, watching for movement.

“Look, there,” Juan Carlos said, pointing. “They’re setting up.”

“On it,” Brendan said, firing the SMAW, the top of the building crumbling as it exploded. The dust settled, Juan Carlos aiming his M-16 at the area when he saw a face pop up. He fired, hitting the man between the eyes, just as Brendan shot another round from the SMAW. The whole top of the building exploded in flames.

“Torched something up there,” Juan Carlos said.

“I’ve only got a few more rounds,” Brendan said.

“Yeah, I’m running out of ammo too,” Juan Carlos said.

More citizens were coming into the area, aiming guns of all types up at the rooftops, waiting for more fighters. Nobody came.

“We knocked them out!” yelled a citizen holding a bolt-action hunting rifle. “I nailed eight of them!”

“You think it’s over?” Brendan asked.

“It’s not,” Richardson said, aiming further down the street with the .50 cal resting on the top of a car. “I can see them in my scope. They’re setting up down there.”

“I’ll go get in range,” Brendan said.

“No, save your ammo,” Richardson said. “I’ve got this.” He fired several times, men screaming. Then the citizens saw where he was aiming and rushed up, sending a hail of lead at the position.

Richardson rushed over to Brendan and Juan Carlos. “Let’s go check on the girls. They aren’t safe where they are.”

“Yeah,” Juan Carlos said. They ran over to the sidewalk. The women were gone.

“Dammit, where’d they go?” Brendan asked.

“They helped a wounded woman into the drug store,” an old man said, his eyes on the roof tops, hands on his Winchester.

“Thanks,” Richardson said. He rushed in the door, Brendan and Juan Carlos following.

“Oh, thank God,” Lita said when she saw them coming.

“Is it over?” Madison asked.

“I don’t know,” Juan Carlos said. “It’s over on this section of the street.”

“This has awakened the citizens,” Richardson said. “There’s nearly a hundred armed civilians out there.”

“Are we bringing this stuff with us?” Hannah asked, face grim. “San Antonio was quiet for a while before we arrived.”

“Coincidence,” Richardson said. “They don’t know we’re here.”

“What now?” Lita asked.

“How’s the person you helped in here?” Richardson asked.

“She’s gonna be okay,” Lita said. “Flesh wound. Her husband came and got her.”

“We’re stuck in the city, aren’t we?” Madison asked.

“We might be,” Richardson said. “And we’re getting low on ammo.”

More automatic gunfire erupted, but it was further down the street, followed by the thunder of hundreds of rifles.

“Hear that?” Brendan asked, grin on his face.

“You think that was the citizens fighting back?” Hannah asked.

“Yeah,” Brendan said.

 

Here’s the series that started it all! Bug Out! Pick up your copy of book 1 for FREE in the Kindle Store (Until 11/20), Always free in Kindle Unlimited!

 

Bug Out! Texas – the followup series to Bug Out!, showing the war as it happens inside Texas. Lots of action, adventure, and romance! Pick up your copy today – just $2.99, Free in Kindle Unlimited.

 

Please visit and like my author page on Facebook!

 

Horror Road – A Supernatural Thriller! Book One. This is a horror tale of psychics and their battle against an ancient evil spirit. Only $.99 in the Kindle Store, FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

 

The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”

 

 

Copyright Robert Boren 2016

First chapter of “Stolen Youth” – follow up to “Never A Loose End”, in editing now.

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Chapter 1 – Dusty Death

The ranch house sat in silence, front door hanging open, windows broken. The smell. Rotting flesh. Ravens circled, and vultures, coming down every so often to join the feast. Curtains fluttered in the wind.

Sound approached. Motorcycles. Coming quickly down the dusty road. They rounded the bend, and the birds took off, pieces of flesh still in their beaks. The engines slowed, and the motorcycles stopped.

“Boys!” said the Mike, the father, on the big motorcycle. “Stay here.”

He put his bike back into gear and slowly rounded the bend. There were bodies in the road in front of him, rotting, exposed skin eaten in places. He pulled his cellphone out of his pocket and took pictures of the dead, then heard one of his kids put their bike into gear. He turned.

“Stop right this minute, Sean!”

“But dad, I wanna see,” he said.

“No! Stay back! I mean it. There’s death here.”

“But dad!”

“Knock it off. Go to your brother and wait. I’ll be back in a minute. Stay put, or I’ll take you’re motorcycles away for a month. Do you understand?”

“All right, dad,” the kid said, looking dejected.

Mike took a few more pictures, then put his bike into gear and rode forward. The house looked worse close up. Bullet holes pockmarked the front porch. Big bullet holes. Bigger than he’d ever seen. There was a rustle and he looked to his right, seeing a vulture fly off of a body lying in the open field twenty yards out. He shut off the bike’s engine and leaned it up against a boulder in the front yard, then noticed legs pointing his direction from behind the house. What happened here?

He climbed the steps of the porch. There was a man lying near the door with half of his head gone. Mike shuddered and peeked in the door. More bodies. Blood everywhere. Three by the window. One leaning against the doorway into the kitchen. One on the floor behind the couch. A naked woman, missing the top of her head, grinning at him, parts of her lips ripped off by the birds. He couldn’t take it anymore. He ran out on the porch and threw up over the rail. Then he heard something. A vehicle. The hair on the back of his neck stood up, and he raced towards his bike, jumping on and kicking it to life, turning it around and racing to his boys. He got to them as two pickup trucks pulled around the bend. He motioned for his boys to take off across the field, but a man jumped out of the first truck and fired a shot into the air.

“Freeze!” said the booming voice. He was a big man, with long blonde hair and an ugly pockmarked face. An Asian man got out of the driver’s side and watched, pistol in hand.

“Okay, don’t shoot,” Mike said. “Stop, boys!”

“Shut off the bike and push it over here,” the man said. Mike nodded yes and killed his engine.

“Did you guys do this?” Mike asked, so scared he was shaking now. “I won’t tell anybody. I’ll just take my boys and leave.”

The man walked up to him, past the crying boys. “Your phone.”

Mike pulled it out of his pocket and handed it over. The big man looked at it, going straight to the pictures.

“You send these pictures anywhere?”

“No,” Mike said. “They’re just on the phone. No coverage.”

“You got bars. Don’t lie to me.”

“I didn’t send them anywhere. I swear.”

The big man deleted the pictures, and handed the phone back.

“We won’t say anything. I swear,” the man pleaded.

“I didn’t do this,” the big man said.

“Sailor Boy, we need hurry,” shouted the Asian man, still standing next to the driver’s side of the first truck. “Hurry hurry. Before somebody come.”

Sailor Boy held up his hand to shut the man up, then looked back at Mike. “Most of these people were my friends.”

“We didn’t do it,” Mike said.

Sailor Boy laughed hard, his whole body shaking. “Oh, we know who did this.”

“Oh,” Mike said, looking slightly relieved.

“Can I trust you to keep your mouths shut?”

“Of course,” Mike said.

“Okay, you and your boys are free to go. Take off, and don’t come back.”

“C’mon, boys, let’s go,” he said, still looking nervous. The boys turned their bikes around, and followed their dad away.

Sailor Boy nodded to the Asian man.

“Now,” he shouted. The men in the second truck fired AK-47s at the three, sending them flying to the ground, bike engines still running. Another man ran over and used his pistol to put a bullet in each of their helmeted heads.

“I hated to do that, Joseph,” Sailor Boy said, a grim look on his face.

“I know, boss,” he replied, not looking like it bothered him one bit.

“Let’s go get the bodies,” he said. “We’ll take those three too.”

The two trucks rolled up to the house. Sailor Boy went inside, and then stopped and wept. Joseph heard him and rushed in, seeing Walt lying on the floor, right inside the door.

“I sorry, boss,” he said, putting his hand on Sailor Boy’s shoulder as he sobbed.

Sailor Boy recovered after a few minutes, his face and eyes red, wet with tears. “Okay, let’s round up the bodies and get them into the truck,” he said. He saw Sadie’s body lying behind the couch. “So that’s the bitch that started this whole thing.” He pulled out his pistol and fired about five rounds into what was left of her head, causing all of his men except Joseph to dive for cover.

“It okay,” Joseph shouted. “Just boss. Pick up bodies and let’s go.”

The trucks were loaded in a matter of minutes.

“Where’s the redhead?” Sailor Boy asked.

“Not here, boss,” Joseph said. “Maybe around yellow van we passed?”

“Let’s you and me go back there and check,” Sailor Boy said.

“Okay, boss,” Joseph said.

The truck full of bodies did a K-turn using the house’s driveway and headed back up the road. Sailor Boy and Joseph followed, but took a different fork. The road they were on became more and more rutted, and then there was a wide spot.

“That Jim’s truck?” asked Joseph.

“Looks like it. Tires shot out.”

They drove a little further, nearing the big dirt road they drove in on.

“There van,” Joseph said.

They pulled up to it and parked.

“It locked,” Joseph said. He stood next to the driver’s side window. Sailor Boy looked down and saw a good sized rock on the ground, about the size of a softball. He picked it up and carried it to the van.

“I just found the key,” he said. “Stand back.”

Joseph moved out of the way and Sailor Boy threw the rock against the side window hard. The window cracked and bowed in, but didn’t break all the way through.

“Strike one,” Joseph said, laughing. Sailor Boy grinned and picked the rock up off the round. He did a wind-up and pitched it again. This time it crashed through, leaving a large hole. Joseph reached through and unlocked the door. “Wow, boss, look at this.” He climbed between the seats to the back, and slid open the side door. Sailor boy walked around to it and looked in.

“Looks like a mobile command center,” Sailor Boy said, laughing. “Guess my sources were right about Mister Beckler.”

“We should bring back to compound,” Joseph said.

“I don’t want to get caught with it, but I do want all of the hard drives out of this sucker. There’s probably info about Malcolm and George on them.”

“Yes yes,” Joseph said. “But no redhead.”

“Yeah, I noticed, Mister Moto,” he replied, chuckling. “Let’s follow the tire tracks and see where this thing came from. Doesn’t look like it got here from the main road. Looks like it was coming from the waterfall.”

“Okay, boss,” Joseph said. He got out of the van and slid the door shut, as Sailor Boy noted the GPS coordinates. He made a call.

“Juan?”

“Yeah, Sailor Boy, what’s up?”

“We need to send a couple of guys with some tools out to the coordinates I just texted you. We found the van.”

“Why?”

“I want the hard drives from the computers.”

“Good idea,” he said. “Why don’t you just drive it here?”

“Don’t want to get caught with it. Monte phoned in that tip, remember? The cops are looking for this van after the slaughter at the motel.”

“How was the house?”

“Bad. Death. Feasting varmints. We loaded up all the bodies. We’ll burn all of them except Walt, Josh, Brian, Monte, and Jim.”

“You tell your sister about Josh and Brian yet, boss?”

“No, and I’m not looking forward to it.”

“I can imagine. I’ll take care of this right away.”

“Thanks, Juan. We’ll be back soon. We’re still looking for the redhead.”

“Be careful, boss.”

“Will do. Bye.”

He shoved his phone back into his pocket and got into the cab.

“They come?” Joseph asked.

“Yeah. Follow the road towards the waterfall, but not too fast. I need to see tire tracks.”

“Yes yes,” he said, starting the truck and driving forward.

It was slow going. Nothing but empty flat desert, but then some hills rose beside them, making a sheer wall on the left side of the road. They followed it around a bend, and suddenly there were two motor homes in front of them. Sailor Boy pulled out his pistol when he saw them.

“Stop. Let’s walk up to these,” he said.

“Okay, boss,” Joseph said. He parked and shut off the engine, then grabbed his pistol and joined Sailor Boy.

“Nobody here,” Sailor Boy said as they approached. “Way too hot to be sitting in these things without air conditioning.”

“Maybe they just turn off when they hear us,” Joseph said.

Sailor Boy walked over to the first coach and touched the generator exhaust pipe. Then he walked to the second coach and did the same. “No way, these generators haven’t run for hours.”

“What now, boss? We break in?”

“No,” he said. “Look. There’s one of our trucks, behind.”

They walked over to the old primer gray pickup truck. “It bloody mess, boss.”

“Yeah,” Sailor Boy said. He looked around. “Look at the tracks. There’s a set going off on the road to the highway there.”

“We follow?”

“No,” Sailor Boy said. “Look there, another set of tracks heading that way.” He pointed out into the wilderness.

“Nothing that way but air force range,” Joseph said.

“Yeah. Let’s follow those tracks.”

“Okay, boss.”

They got back in the truck and drove along the tracks.

“Long way back here,” Joseph said as they rode along.

“Don’t go too fast, now. I need to see those tracks at the next fork.”

They kept going for several miles. Then they saw the air force ranging targets stretching high into the sky.

“You got the binoculars in here?” Sailor Boy asked.

“Yes yes, behind seat,” Joseph said.

Sailor Boy fetched them, took off the lens covers, and looked out ahead. “Stop a minute. It’s jerking around too much.”

“Okay, boss,” Joseph said, putting on the brakes until the truck stopped. “You see something?”

“Yeah, looks like par-boiled redhead to me. Chained to the bottom of that ranging target.” He handed the binoculars to him.

“Redhead all right,” Joseph said. “Shining in sun. She alive?”

“Can’t tell from here. Let’s high tail it over there.”

Joseph hit the gas, and they took off, rear wheels spinning, throwing dust.

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 3 – Republic in Peril is now available in the Kindle store!

 

Bug Out! Texas Book 2 – The New Republic is now available in the Kindle Store. Pick up your copy of this exciting thriller today!

 

Bug Out! Texas has just been published in the Kindle Store! This is the story of Texas Patriots and their struggle against enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Bug Out! War. Chock full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance. Pick up your copy of Bug Out! Texas Book 1 today!

 

Please visit and like my author page on Facebook!

 

Here’s the series that started it all! Bug Out! Pick up your copy of book 1 for just 99 cents in the Kindle Store!

 

Horror Road – A Supernatural Thriller! Available now in the Kindle Store

 

The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”

 

 

Speech – A Short Story

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

I leaned against the dirty grey wall of the holding cell, sitting, my feet stretched out in front of me on the floor. It was a square room with benches attached to the wall, all occupied by sleeping men. The floor sloped down to a central drain. The cell was made for drunks, but they weren’t using it for that now. I heard commotion in the hallway. The cell door opened with a clank, a large officer shoving a small man in. He looked back at the officer, hunching his shoulders as if he was trying to shake off a fly.

“You won’t win,” the man said. The officer laughed and turned to leave. He closed the heavy metal door and locked it.

The man looked for somebody awake. I tried to avoid eye contact. Too late, we connected. He made his way over, sitting on the floor next to me.

“Chris Thompson,” he said, extending his hand. I shook it reluctantly.

“Sean McCain.” I tried not to sound open to conversation.

“What are you in for?”

I sighed. “Hate speech. Should be out soon, though. They’re just trying to scare me a little bit.” I hoped that was true.

Chris looked at me and smiled.

“Think so?”

“Of course. I was just playing devil’s advocate. They realize that.” I looked at Chris to gauge his reaction. He shook his head and laughed.

I looked straight ahead and didn’t say anything. Chris looked down. His hands were shaking, his surly manner melting away. Don’t get involved, I told myself, but I knew that wouldn’t fly.

“So why are you here?” I asked.

“I told my class about the Bill of Rights.”

“You’re a teacher?”

Chris laughed. “I was a teacher. They don’t want teachers anymore.”

“I thought most of you went along with the new way of thinking.”

“I did. For a long time.” He’d stopped trembling.

“What caused you to change?”

“All the people I used to have political arguments with disappeared.”

Oh, shit, I thought. He’s one of those. I can’t be talking to this guy. I got up and walked to the door, looking out the small slit window. When I turned back around, I saw him walking toward me. Shit.

“I don’t want to talk to you,” I said.

“Why?”

“Because you’re gonna tell me a bunch of crap about how our government exterminates people who won’t go along. Baloney – that’s just rebel propaganda. Your friends probably left to join the racist rebellion.”

“God, I hope so,” said Chris.

“That’s treason. Like I said, I don’t want to talk to you.”

“Oh, you think that the walls have ears?” He laughed. “Not in here. They don’t care. We’re done. Should have worried about that when you were outside.”

“What rubbish.”

“How long has it been since you’ve seen a trial by jury?”

“There’s a war on,” I said, trying to reason with this guy.

“It’s not a war. It’s an uprising.”

I just sighed and walked back to where I was sitting. Chris followed and sat next to me again.

“You don’t take a hint, do you, asshole?”

“No. What kind of hate speech did you do?”

“I don’t want to talk about it. I want my job waiting for me when I get out of here. If I engage with you, they might hold it against me.”

“What kind of job do you have?”

I looked at him, knowing what kind of reaction I’d get, feeling my face flush.

“I’m a journalist.”

Chris looked up at the ceiling and let out a big belly laugh. Then he looked at me, shook his head, and laughed some more.

“So let me guess. You pointed out some of the fairness code that isn’t so fair?”

Now I was getting really mad.

“Don’t try to make this bigger than it is. It wasn’t a big deal.”

“Well, esteemed member of the 5th Estate, what did you write?”

“I merely pointed out that Islam has many of the same failings that white male dominated society had, and that eventually it’ll need to be addressed the same way.”

“Really? I commend you, sir.”

I just stared at him, not able to think of a good reply, wanting to doze off instead of talk to him. The silence didn’t last long.

“You guys haven’t figured out, even now, that some groups are more equal than others. Why?”

“I told you I didn’t want to talk about this.” I turned my body away from him.

“No, you aren’t getting off that easy, chicken shit. My profession is partly to blame for this mess we’re in, but your profession? Those of you still alive in the ‘free’ zone are co-conspirators.”

I pretended to ignore him.

“Haven’t you figured out yet that our government embraces anybody who fights against Western Civilization? Against the Enlightenment?”

“Shut up,” I said. “That’s just more rebel propaganda. The ‘Enlightenment’, as you call it, was racist cover up. We raped the earth and all of its people as a result of the Enlightenment. Look at what we’ve done to people of color.”

“People of color.” Chris laughed heartily, for what seemed like forever.

I had the urge to punch him in the face, looking down at my balled-up fists. This was such an insensitive bastard.

“You’re a damn racist,” I shouted. “You find this funny. How sick is that?”

“Race has nothing to do with any of this. Nothing. If racism was the problem with our society, you tell me what happened to all the ‘people of color’ who disagreed with the new thinking? Where did they all go? You can’t tell me you haven’t noticed that they’re all gone.”

“They were fooled into joining the rebels, even though it was against their interest,” I said. “Everybody knows that.”

“Oh, yeah, I forgot. You are a journalist.” Then he laughed again, louder and longer this time. It was making my blood boil.

We were both startled by the clanking of the door. It opened, and two officers dragged in another man, wearing battered clothes. He was struggling, trying to head butt the officers as they held his arms. They pushed him to the ground and kicked him in the side and back as he rolled on the floor.

“That’s police brutality,” I said. “Stop it right now or I’ll report you.”

One of the guards looked at me and laughed. He came over and punched me in the jaw as I was trying to get up. The pain was awful, and I could feel blood flowing out my nose. I sank back to the ground. It was humiliating.

“You better learn to watch your mouth, or you won’t last long where you’re going,” the guard shouted at me. What did he mean? My heart was beating faster. There must be some mistake. I’ve got to get to somebody for help.

The guards left, slamming the door behind them. Chris rushed over to the man and helped him to his feet. He brought him to where we were sitting.

“Come on, asshole, get up and help me lower him,” Chris spat at me. I got to my feet and helped steady the man. He smelled bad. He looked up into my face with piercing eyes, showing a mixture of rage, hurt, and joy. What?

When he recovered, he looked at both of us and smiled. I smiled back, but had the queasy feeling that he was a very dangerous man.

“Chris Thompson,” Chris said, holding out his hand. They shook.

“Jake Kessler,” said the man, trying to pull his scraggly blonde hair out of his face. He had a thick beard, giving him the look of a mountain man.

“Oh, and this is Sean,” Chris said. Jake held out his hand and I shook it. I looked away quickly.

“So, Jake, why did they throw you in here? They were pretty mad,” Chris said.

“I’m a trouble maker, I guess,” Jake said, grinning, his filthy teeth showing. “They’re using any excuse they can to round up people who might hurt them. They’re running out of time, and they know it.”

“Running out of time?” I asked. My heart was beating quicker.

“The resistance now controls everywhere except for New England, the Mid Atlantic, Coastal California, and costal Washington state. Things moved quickly after we took over the military bases.”

“We take Chicago?” asked Chris.

“Yes, but it was a blood bath,” Jake said. “Don’t you guys hear anything?”

I looked at both of them, my mind reeling.

“What are you two talking about?” I asked. Jake gave me a quizzical look. Chris laughed.

“Sean here believes the propaganda, which figures since he’s a journalist,” said Chris.

“But our sources say that the resistance is dying out,” I said. Both of the men laughed at me.

“Fucking lackey press,” Jake said. “I assumed that all of them were just traitors, but I see that some of them are stupid true believers. What’s this idiot in here for, anyway?”

I could feel the rage building in me, but couldn’t get any words out.

“Hate speech,” said Chris, laughing. “He compared Islam to white privilege.”

Both men cracked up. Then they were silent for a moment. Chris looked at Jake.

“You know what camp we’re going to?”

“None,” said Jake, with a grim look on his face.

“Camp?” I asked. What the hell are you talking about? Both men looked at me and shook their heads. They kept talking as if I wasn’t there.

“We took Nevada and the eastern parts of California,” Jake said. “The last of the camps was in Redlands. It’s been liberated.”

“So they’re just going to keep us here?” asked Chris.

“I doubt it.”

“What were you doing around here, anyway?” asked Chris. “You know more about the outside than anybody I’ve talked to in a long time.”

“Spying.”

“Shit, don’t say that in here,” Chris whispered. “They’re probably listening.”

“You don’t get it, my friend.”

I looked at Chris’s face, which went from concern to terror.

“Son of a bitch, they’re gonna shoot us,” said Chris.

“C’mon, guys, they wouldn’t do that,” I said, hoping against hope that I was right. I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. My mind went to all the plans I’d made in my life, what I was going to do, how I was going to have a great career. How can I get out of this?

Suddenly the door swung open, and five men in riot gear walked in.

“Everybody up!” the lead man said. The others rushed around the room, poking the sleeping men with their riot guns.

“Out the door, single file,” the lead man barked.

We fell into a line and slowly started through the door. Chris was in front of me as we walked out. My heart was pounding in my chest, and then the light of the prison yard hit my eyes, blinding me. As I walked through the door, they adjusted, and I saw a wall. Men were lining up against it. Opposite the wall was a row of machine guns. I felt light headed. Chris looked back at me, tears streaming down his face.

“Why didn’t you guys protect us?”

 

Pick up your copy of Bug Out! – the original series by Robert Boren. Now available on Amazon Kindle!

 

Horror Road – A Supernatural Thriller! Available now in the Kindle Store!

 

The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”

 

 

Copyright Robert Boren 2016

A scene from Horror – A Supernatural Thriller

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Cooper and Heather stood together, looking at the body hanging upside down from a tree branch, tied at the ankles.
“Recognize the rope?” Sheriff Henderson asked.
“Yeah, it’s my dad’s, from the storage compartment in the motor home,” he said.
“You okay, honey?” Heather asked, looking at him.
“I’m not going to break down again,” Cooper said. “Knew this was coming. Don’t want to look closer, if that’s okay.”
“No problem here,” Sheriff Henderson said. “Sorry for your loss, Cooper.”
“Want me to take pictures, Sheriff?” Deputy Brewer asked.
“Yeah, you do that, but don’t touch anything. Don’t forget the ground under and around it. Get good detail.”
“Will do, boss.”
“And don’t get too close to the edge,” Ranger Norman said. “I don’t want you falling in.”
“Don’t worry,” he said.
“Wonder how far that opening goes?” Cappy asked.
“I wonder too, but you know what I wonder about more?” the Sheriff asked.
“Yeah, I know,” he said. “The girl.”
“The girl or whoever did that,” he said, eyes darting around. “Look at how high that rope is. In my mind, it took more than the girl to do something like that. We might find her body somewhere around here.”
“It’s the woods,” Cappy said, sitting on a fallen tree. “Something took over. She might have been a whole lot stronger than normal when she did that.”
“She’s pregnant,” Heather said.
“What?” Sheriff Henderson asked.
“Sorry, they told me,” Danielle said. “On the way back. She’s barely showing.”
“Doesn’t matter,” the sheriff said.
“Okay, Sheriff, got plenty of pictures,” Deputy Brewer said. “Looks to me like he was dead long before he was strung up there.”
“Pretty obvious to me after what we saw in the motor home,” the sheriff replied. “Okay, let’s see if we can find the girl.”
“Kilroy isn’t pulling anymore,” Cooper said. “Maybe we need to get past the body. Any tracks around it?”
“No, not that I could see, but the dirt is covered with pine needles,” the deputy said. “Hard to see anything.”
“Let’s take the dog past him and see if he picks anything up,” Ranger Norman said.
“Okay,” Cooper said. “C’mon Kilroy.”
He walked the dog past the body, looking the other way. Kilroy whimpered but kept going, no longer pulling hard.
“What’s up this direction?” Heather asked. “Any structures or roads?”
“Not for several miles,” Ranger Norman said.
“I had an incident up here,” Danielle said. “A scary one.”
“Don’t go into that now,” Ranger Norman said.
“Why not? It’s relevant,” she said.
“You know why not,” he said.
“Let her talk,” Cappy said. “Or I will. This is a bad place. We all know it. Cut the crap.”
“You think we’re stupid?” Cooper said. “Something killed my friend and hung him from a tree. I saw the look on Shelby’s face when we found her out here, too. We know there’s something in the woods, so be honest.”
The group walked along silently, the tension building.
“Okay, okay,” Ranger Norman said. “Go ahead, Danielle.”
She took a deep breath. “All right. I was out here, chasing down a lost dog for an old couple who had their motor home in that same clearing. It was mid-morning. I’d been out here quite a few times by then, so I knew the area well enough to keep from getting lost.”
“How long ago was this?” Sheriff Henderson asked.
“Several months ago. I’ve had other incidents since then.”
“Keep to this one,” Ranger Norman said.
“All right,” she said. “Anyway, I walked in deeper and deeper. I could hear the dog barking. It was a small yippy dog. After a while I couldn’t hear it anymore, and everything changed.”
“Changed how?” Deputy Brewer asked.
“I didn’t recognize the area anymore, and it got darker. Not completely dark. More like dusk. I got disoriented.”
“Been there,” Cappy said. “I don’t hunt out here by myself anymore.”
“I didn’t hear that,” the ranger said. “Go on, Danielle.”
“Well, that was it for a while. There’s a missing period of time. I can’t remember anything until I woke up. I was lying on the trail naked. It was late afternoon by that time.”
“Care to reenact that?” the deputy asked.
“Shut up, Brewer,” Sheriff Henderson said. “So what happened next?”
“Nothing much,” she said. “I knew where I was again. My clothes were strewn along the trail. I got dressed and went back to the RV clearing.”
“What about the dog?” Heather asked.
“Never found it,” she said. “That poor old couple was beside themselves.”
“So you were out from mid-morning to mid-afternoon,” Cooper said. “That’s several hours. Do you think you were just sleeping during that time?”
“No,” she said. “I was sore all over, and scratched up like I’d been climbing trees naked. I had sap on me a few places.”
“You weren’t abused or anything, were you?” the deputy asked.
“Not that I could tell,” she said, looking embarrassed. “Nothing wrong down there.”
“Why didn’t you report this?” Sheriff Henderson asked.
“I did. I told Ranger Norman.”
“Dammit, Norman,” the sheriff said.

Horror Road – A Supernatural Thriller! Available now in the Kindle Store

Here’s an scene from Never a Loose End, availabe in the Kindle Store now.

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Brian was lounging on the couch, reading a gun magazine, when heard footsteps coming. “Shit,” he said. “Josh, someone’s coming.”

“Heard them,” Josh said. “I got the shotgun.”

Brian laughed.

“Stand down, it’s the guys,” Brian said.

“Guys?” asked Josh.

“From the compound, dumbass,” Brian said.

“Wonderful,” spat Sadie, sitting in the chair with her knees up against her naked body, trying to keep warm in the air conditioning. “You guys going to gang bang me now?”

“Shut up,” Brian said, pointing his gun at her. “Josh, keep a gun on the cunt while I go see what’s up.”

Josh came in from the kitchen, sat down, and leveled the shotgun at Sadie.

“Anything goes wrong, and I’ll tattoo you to that chair with buckshot, bitch,” Josh said.

“You got to call your boss first, you pussy,” Sadie said. She shut up and gave Josh the evil eye.

Brian walked out on the front porch. Six men were coming up the driveway. One of them raised his weapon, and the leader put his hand on the weapon and pushed it down.

“The bitch still tied up?” asked the lead man.

“Yeah, Jeff, she’s still tied up. Josh has a 12-gauge pointed at her right now.”

“Good,” said Jeff. He walked over to Brian and shook his hand. Jeff was a tall thin man, middle-aged, with reddish brown hair and a full beard. He turned to the men.

“Okay, here’s what we do,” said Jeff. “Matt, get up next to the water tank, and keep an eye on the road. Jerry, you get on the other side of the property, up the hill a little, and watch that side of the road. The rest of you, get on the front porch and keep your eyes open while I fill Brian and Josh in on the situation.”

Brian and Josh went into the house. When Josh saw Jeff, his face lit up.

“Hey, Jeff, how the hell are you?”

Jeff walked over and shook hands with Josh.

“I’m fine, kiddo,” said Jeff.

“Good, maybe this dude is man enough to eat my pussy,” Sadie said, arching her back to stick her breasts out.

Jeff smiled and walked over to her. Then he backhanded her in the face, hard, causing blood to run out of her nose.

“Shut the hell up, you stupid whore,” said Jeff. Sadie spit at Jeff, and he back handed her again.

Josh laughed, but it was a nervous laugh. Brian just watched coolly.

“Jeff, I suggest we bring the boys in here and let them know about this bitch,” Brian said.

“Yeah, at least the ones on the porch,” said Jeff. “Hey, guys, come in the house for a minute.”

The men came in, all staring at Sadie.

“You guys see this bitch?” Brian said. “Hands off. She’s a snake. Don’t even think about any fun time with her. Understand?”

The men looked at Jeff and nodded.

“Good,” said Jeff. “Now, I want her outside for a few minutes so I can talk to Josh and Brian. John, you and Bob take her out far enough to where she can’t hear what we’re saying. Chuck and Al, you stay in here, but I want your eyes out the window and your guns cocked, understand?”

The men nodded again. Two of them pulled Sadie out of her seat. One of them grabbed a towel sitting on the coffee table and wiped the blood off of her face, and then they walked her outside. The other two men knelt by the front windows and watched.

“Alright, what’s the deal?” asked Josh.

“Sailor Boy called us. Somebody got to Walt and picked him up, right before Monte could grab him. Monte saw the whole thing, but they made him, so he had to split.”

“Shit,” Brian said. “Who?”

“We don’t know, but we’re pretty sure it wasn’t a bounty hunter. We think it’s somebody who wants to find Sadie.”

“Which means they’re on their way here,” Josh said.

“You got it,” said Jeff. “Monte’s still following them as best he can without being spotted. They appear to be coming straight towards us.”

“How many?” asked Brian.

“There were two men and one woman, in an old beat-up yellow van,” said Jeff. “They grabbed Walt and some stripper he picked up in Fort Mohave.”

“Damn, when’s that boy going to learn,” Josh said.

“Who are these guys?” asked Brian. “Are they the guys that Sadie tried to kill?”

“No, description is all wrong,” said Jeff. “There’s one rather disturbing idea that one of Sailor Boy’s people came up with.”

“What’s that?” asked Josh.

“It could be the creep that Sadie hung out with about ten years ago,” said Jeff. “Most people think the guy is dead, but based on movements of his best buddy, that might not be the case. Sadie double crossed him. Badly.”

“Who?” asked Josh

“A guy named Jason Beckler,” said Jeff. “Ring a bell?”

“Fuck,” Josh said. “I’ll bet he’s got Earl Wilson with him. These guys are bad news.”

“What do you know about them?” asked Jeff.

“Josh here likes to read about serial killers and bank robbers,” Brian said. “I always thought it was a waste of time. I stand corrected.”

“Beckler is one of the most successful serial killers of the last 40 years,” Josh said. “He sets up elaborate scenarios to capture his prey, usually working with one or two others. When he gets them, he tortures them to death. Nasty stuff. He likes to capture whole families, rape the women right down to ten-year-olds, and then kill them in front of their men. Then he butchers whoever is left, including kids. He’s fucking crazy, and the cops could never get close to him. He just disappears.”

“What about the other guy you mentioned?” asked Jeff.

“Earl Wilson,” Josh said. “He’s minor compared to Beckler. I think they might be related, or at least they were childhood friends. He was involved with Red Dagg……..oh shit.”

“What?” asked Jeff.

“That ex-cop who Sadie tried to kill,” Josh said, breathing heavier now. “That was Malcolm Davis. He’s the guy who set up the ambush on the serial killer called Red Dagger. You remember that one, it was everywhere on the news. Hell, they even made a Movie of the Week on that incident.”

“Yeah, that I do remember,” said Jeff.

“Me too,” Brian said. “So that means we could have two serial killers and one crazy ass ex-cop on the way here right now. Do we have enough guys?”

“Eight heavily armed guys. That should be enough, don’t you think?” asked Jeff.

“I’d rather be someplace else,” Josh said. “Why don’t we take the bitch to the compound? We stand a better chance there.”

“Because of Walt,” Brian said.

“Yep, because of Walt,” said Jeff. He walked over to the door. “Okay, bring the bitch back in.”

The two men brought Sadie back to the chair and dumped her into it. She looked up at Josh, Brian, and Jeff.

“What’s the matter, boys?” Sadie said. “You scared of somebody? You brought lots of people. It won’t be enough.”

Jeff walked over and back-handed her across the face one more time, starting her nose bleeding again. She laughed out loud, and spit blood out on the floor.

“Fort Mohave isn’t that far away,” Brian said. “We’ll either get hit tonight or early tomorrow morning.”

“It’s gonna be a long night,” said Jeff. He sat down, deep in thought.

“Somebody’s going to get you,” sang Sadie in a sing-song, school girl voice.

“Do we have to keep her alive?” asked Jeff.

“Afraid so, Jeff,” Josh said.

Sadie giggled.

 

 

Click here to check out Never a Loose End – Vigilante Revenge in the Kindle Store!

 

 

The Hotel Brighton

 

Brighton

 

I’ll never forget the first time I climbed the dark steps into the Brighton Hotel lobby. The air smelled of cigar smoke and decay. The lobby had only two windows, both at the end of hallways, and both too far away from the center to provide much light. The worn wooden floor had an old Persian rug covering the middle. Thick white threads showed where it was worn all the way through. There was an old TV sitting in the back of the room, and two battered couches forming an L in the middle of the room, both oriented to see the screen. The main light came from a booth that had a metal cage around it. The cigar smoke emanated from behind the cage.

“What do you want, son?” asked the man sitting behind the cage. He was chomping the smoldering cigar as he talked. A naked light bulb above him lit the booth in dirty yellow.

“I’m here to see Harry,” I said. “I think he’s in room 12.”

“Oh, yeah, the kid. Just over to your left there.”

“Thanks,” I said. I walked over the door marked ‘Room 12’ and knocked. There was movement inside the room, and the glass doorknob turned, sounding loose and fragile.

“Hi, Jim,” said Harry. He had a big grin on his face. “Welcome to my place.” He ushered me in.

“Hey, Harry,” I said as I walked in.

“What do you think?”

I looked around the room. It was a decent size. In the middle of the room was an ancient brass bed, which had been painted many times over. Harry sat down on it, and the springs squeaked. To the left of the bed was a small round sink, with a rubber plug dangling from a chain wrapped around one of the two faucets. There was a cracked mirror above the sink. The window was opposite of the bed, and it gave a nice view of Cabrillo Street, with the Ding How Café across the street. Under the window was an old radiator which, like the brass bed, had been painted many times.

“Does that thing work?” I asked, pointing to the radiator.

Harry shrugged his large shoulders. “Don’t know. Not cold enough to try it.”

“Reminds me of the old main building at Torrance High,” I said.

“Me too,” said Harry. “I think this place was probably built at the same time.”

“Where’s the bathroom?”

“Down the hallway. It’s got showers too.”

“Sounds like a pain.”

“It’s not bad. Have a seat.” He nodded towards the chair that was against the wall by the window. I sat down.

“I think your place is pretty cool, Harry.”

“Not bad for $13 bucks a week. Wish it had a stove, though. I need to get a hot plate or something.”

“A fridge would be nice too,” I said.

“They won’t let you put one of those in here. Not even a small one. They say the wiring can’t take it if everybody gets a fridge. There’s one out by the lobby, but things get ripped off from there.”

“How about an ice chest?” I asked.

“Not a bad idea. Wonder if I could make ice in the lobby fridge?”

“Probably depends on if people would leave it alone or not.”

“Yeah.”

Harry got up and went over to his dresser. He opened the top drawer and pulled out some magazines.

“Look at these,” he said. “My mom used to throw this stuff away, but now I can have them.” He handed me a couple. One was a ‘Sex to Sexty’ comic book, and the other one was a cheaply shot full nude magazine. I thumbed through them. The picture magazine had graphic shots of women below the waist, something I hadn’t seen yet.

“Wow,” I said. “Where did you get these?”

“Over at a used bookstore on Cravens, a couple blocks down from the Pussycat. They’re behind the counter, but the guy knows me, so he pulls them out when I come in.”

“What’s the Pussycat?”

“You know, the X rated theater over there. I went there last week. It’s cool.”

All kinds of prurient thoughts filled my head. Those places are for adults.

“Wow, how did you get in there?” I asked.

“Well, I am eighteen, you know,” Harry said. “But it doesn’t even matter. They don’t care. I just showed my draft card and that was enough. It doesn’t even have a picture on it.”

“Really.” I said. Harry could see my interest.

“Want to go? I can get you in.”

“How?”

“I’ll just show my draft card, and then hand it back to you. They won’t even care.”

“How much does it cost?”

“Three bucks.”

“That’s pretty expensive,” I said, wondering if I had that much with me.

“Yeah, it’s about twice as much as a regular movie, but they show everything, and it’s always a double feature with shorts too. It’s worth it.”

I tried to look cool, but my head was spinning. At sixteen, this was all racy and exciting to me. The neighborhood and this building were suddenly intoxicating too. It was total lack of supervision, coupled with raging hormones. It was pretending to be a grown up, and looking at things that I wasn’t supposed to.

“How are things in the neighborhood,” Harry asked, breaking the spell.

“I saw your brother Dan walking past my house yesterday.”

“I’m glad to be away from that weirdo. He hated me. He was glad when mom kicked me out.”

“It was your mom that kicked you out? I thought it was your dad.”

“Naw, it was my mom. She runs things at home. He doesn’t care what she does.”

“That sucks, man,” I said.

“It’s alright. I like it better here anyway.”

“It’s still nasty what they did to you.”

“I know, but at least my dad didn’t beat the crap out of me like my uncle does to my cousins.”

“What are you planning to do? I mean after you’re settled here and everything.”

“I need to get a car. Taking the bus sucks. I was late to work last week, and my boss said he’d fire me if it happens again. I can’t get fired. So now I go way early.”

“Cars are expensive.”

“You got one,” he said.

“Yes, but I bought it from my uncle, and he only charged me two hundred bucks for it.”

“It’s a nice car, though.”

“Well, yeah, that’s the point. I paid less for it than it was worth because my aunt and uncle wanted to do something nice for me.”

“I have a friend at work that knows somebody selling a car for three hundred. I’ll buy that if I can save enough money before somebody else buys it.”

“What is it?”

“Impala. Sixty-three. Pretty clean.”

“Cool.”

There was a knock at the door.

“Come in, it’s open,” Harry said. It was the man from behind the cage. He looked shorter when he was standing up.

“Hey, kid, you got the rent?” he asked with a Bronx accent.”

“Sure, Ed.” Harry got off the bed, got out his wallet, and pulled the bills out. He handed them to Ed, who was still chomping on a big cigar.

“Thanks, Kid,” he said. “What are you two doing tonight?”

“I’ll probably take Jim to the Pussycat.”

Ed laughed. “You’re going to pay three bucks for that joint? I can get you the real thing for about twice that.”

I turned red as a beet, but Harry just laughed.

“No way, Ed, I’ve seen the broads you bring around here.”

“Alright, kids. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” He flashed a wicked grin, and then left the room, closing the door behind him.

“You got enough money for the movie?” Harry asked.

I pulled out my wallet. I found four crumpled dollar bills in there. I also had a pocket full of change.

“Yeah, I’m good. Even have enough for snacks.”

“Well, alright, then. Let’s go.”

We left Harry’s room. I looked around the lobby. There were several men sitting on the couches watching TV. They all looked over as the light from Harry’s room washed over them. There were two men sitting on one couch, drinking something out of bottles which were hidden in paper bags. There was an older man lying on the other couch. He got up when he saw us, and grinned. He looked like he was missing about half his teeth.

“Hey, Harry, is that your new girlfriend?” he asked.

I felt like I wanted to sink into the floor. Why do all these old guys have to joke about my long hair? Isn’t that over yet?

Another of the men joined in. “Yeah, Harry, I’d better not hear your bed springs creaking again tonight.”

The first man motioned me over. I approached slowly. He looked even worse close up, with pockmarked skin. He smelled.

“Hey, kid, want a hit?” he asked, holding out a bottle of Ripple wine.

I shook my head no. Then Ed hit his cage with something, making a rattling noise.

“Jake!” he said from behind his cage. “Knock that off or you’re out of here.”

“Alright. I was just foolin around. Don’t get your panties all in a bunch.”

All three of the men laughed. You could see Ed shaking his head in disgust under the dim light in his cage.

Jake wasn’t done yet. He sat up on the couch now.

“Hey, Harry, where are you takin your date?”

Ed started cracking up, his laughing turning into a cough.

“Harry here is taking his buddy to the Pussycat,” he said, laughing.

Jake got a big grin on his face, showing those awful remaining teeth.

“Well, dammit, Harry, no abusing yourself in the bathroom tonight. I heard you last time, and it upset me.”

“Oh, really,” said Harry. “Bullshit.”

“No really, Harry, I could hear you talkin in there while you were doin it.”

“Oh yeah? What was I saying?”

“You were sayin ‘Giddy up, little dimper, you hurt so good’.”

All three of the men started rolling around laughing. Even Ed joined in this time.

Harry looked over at me with a sheepish grin. “Let’s get out of here.”

I nodded, and we walked down the stairs and into the cool late afternoon air. It was almost dusk. Harry leaned up against the wall by the door on one side, and I leaned up on the other side.

“Do those guys always give you a hard time like that?” I asked.

“Mostly. I don’t care. They really aren’t bad guys. They tell good stories too. Like Jake. He used to be a real live hobo. He rode the rails all over the country back in the thirties and forties.”

“He still looks like a hobo. Smells like one too.”

“I know,” Harry said. “I won’t sit on the couches with those guys. I’ve never seen any of them in the showers. Those guys are either drunk, getting drunk, or asleep.” He snickered.

“Are you going to stay down here very long?” I asked. The excitement of this place was leaving my mind quickly.

“It’s good for now because of the bus stop and the cheap rent, although you can’t have good stuff here. Anything worth much gets ripped off.”

“That isn’t cool.”

“The Brighton is better than most of the places around here, at least. Ed doesn’t steal, and he’ll get on anybody who does if he’s awake. That’s a lot different than the other places.”

“You mean the management rips stuff off in the other places?”

“Some of them do,” Harry said. “Jake said the guy who runs the hotel over the Ding How is the worst.”

I looked around. The wall that I was leaning against was an old vacuum repair shop. The opposite wall that Harry was leaning against was an old pawn shop. The buildings here were all from the early 1900s, giving the place a feeling very much different than the rest of Torrance with its 1950s tract homes and newer department stores.

“We have some time before the movie starts, so let’s take the long way over,” Harry said. We took off to the right on Cabrillo. The Crest bar was next to the Brighton. Cars filled the parking lot.

“Is that the same Crest that you hear about?”

“What about it?”

“I heard there were gunfights in there all the time.”

Harry laughed.

“I haven’t heard any guns going off since I’ve been here. Lots of really seedy looking people in there though. And old women trying to look sexy. Remember what Ed said about getting women?”

“Yeah.”

“They hang out there. Nasty.”

“Geez, how many pawn shops are around here?” I asked, as we passed another one that was to the right of the Crest.

“Lots. Lots of bars, liquor stores, and used bookstores too. And creepy old department stores. Before the stores on Hawthorne, this was the place to come.”

“I know, my grandfather likes to talk about how it was back in the old days. Twenty – thirty years ago.”

We got down to the corner and went left on Gramercy Avenue. The sun was coming down, making the street look a little foreboding.

“Looks like most of these places close down before dark,” I said.

“Yeah, they roll up the sidewalks at about five, everywhere except the bars, liquor stores, and the Pussycat.”

We got to the intersection with Cravens Avenue, and went right. That’s when I saw it. The big pink building stuck out like a sore thumb, with its garish sign, emblazoned with ‘Pussycat’ and it’s marque with racy descriptions of what lay in wait there. My excitement built as we got closer. It was on the other side of the street, so when we got close, we looked both ways for a break in the traffic, and then ran across.

“Ok, here’s what we do,” Harry said. “I’ll go in first, show my card, and pay. Then I’ll pass the card back to you. Looks like Jesse is working today. She’s cool, and she’s only about nineteen herself.”

I nodded, but I was nervous. I expected to be called out.

“Hi, Jesse,” Harry said. The girl in the booth’s face lit up and she smiled.

“Hey, Harry, how are you doin?”

“How’s the show?” he asked as he showed his draft card and slipped money into the opening of the box office window.

“Oh, you know,” she said, with a bored look.

Harry thrust the draft card back to me. Jesse glanced at me and smirked.

“Who’s your friend, Harry?” she asked as she slid the ticket out the window.

“Jim, a friend from the old neighborhood.”

I got up to the window as Harry walked into the lobby.

“You got ID, Jim?” Jesse said, grinning. She was chewing gum.

I held up the draft card. She smirked again.

“So Jim must be your middle name, I guess,” she said, laughing. “Whatever….three dollars please.”

I slid the money to her, and she slid out the ticket. Then I walked into the lobby, my heart banging in my chest.

“See, I told you,” Harry said. “Let’s get some popcorn.”

I nodded, trying to calm myself down. Now the excitement was starting to build.

We got our snacks and walked over to the red velvet curtains. The usher took our tickets, and in we went.

The theater was dimly lit, and the red velvet curtain was still hanging in front of the screen. There were half a dozen men in there, scattered around. At least one of them was asleep and snoring.

“Let’s sit in the middle,” Harry said. “Away from the balcony.” He looked at me and laughed. I pretended to get the joke. My heart was still pounding in my chest. We made our way to the middle of a row down towards the center. I heard some laughing, and looked back towards the door. It was a group of kids about our age, joking with each other as they found seats.

“I’m glad we didn’t miss the previews,” Harry said. “Sometimes those are better than the movies.” We sat down. After a few minutes the red velvet curtain parted, and the lights were brought down.

The first preview was for a movie called ‘Country Cuzzins’. It looked like a real romp, and it took only seconds for the first naked women to splash across the screen. The noisy kids in the back started laughing and clapping their hands. Harry and I looked at each other and laughed.

There were several more trailers, all showing fairly light romps. Then came a scratchy looking short, about a plumber who got a little frisky with the housewife that had called him. It was silent and badly shot in garish color.

The main movie was a soft-core version of ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’, with a twist. When the good Doctor drank the potion, he turned into a beautiful blonde woman, who of course was a killer. Harry and I cracked up through much of the movie. I don’t remember what the second feature was. Some of these movies were more memorable than others.

I remember thinking how racy these movies were at my young age, and that I had taken a big bite of forbidden fruit. Looking back on it now, these films were pretty gentle. About a year after this, the Pussycat started showing hardcore movies. That was a whole different kettle of fish.

Harry and I left the theater after that feature and started back to the Brighton. It was a really dark night, and I was relieved when Harry picked the lightest route to get back. We got to the front door and climbed the long dark steps. I expected another onslaught of teasing from the old men up there. We heard snoring when we were near the top of the stairs. Everybody in the lobby was asleep, including Ed. We went to Harry’s door, and he used the old fashioned key to unlock it. We went in quietly.

“Well, what did you think?” Harry asked.

“It was fun. Nice looking women, too.”

Harry laughed.

“Yeah, at least in that first movie,” he said. “I liked the Doctor’s fiancée the best.”

“Yes, she was gorgeous. How often to you go to that place, anyway? They seemed to know you over there.”

“They change the movies once a week, and I’ve been there every week since I’ve been living here. I like to flirt with Jesse, but she’s out of my league.”

“Well, she’s older, but she is cute,” I said. “I probably should get going. It’s getting late.”

“You can spend the night here if you want to,” Harry said. I could tell by the look on his face that he wanted me to stay.

“My folks won’t go for that, but thanks. I’ll be back pretty soon, though. This was a blast.”

“OK, don’t be a stranger,” Harry said. The look on his face struck me. It was the look of a scared child. Suddenly I hated to leave him alone, but the thought of staying there made me queasy. I was ready to leave the steamy underside of  Downtown Torrance and the intoxicating freedom that I felt there earlier. People didn’t live there because they wanted to. They lived there because there was nowhere else.

I walked over to the door and opened it.

“Later, man,” I said.

“Yeah, later,” Harry replied.

I walked through the lobby as quickly and as quietly as I could, and sped up down the dark stairs. As I got onto the sidewalk I heard a bottle hit the asphalt over at the Crest parking lot. Then I heard a dirty laugh. I had to walk by there to get to my car, and I went as quickly as I could, trying not to look scared. A drunk old woman saw me and smiled. I sped up.

I was almost to my car, which was parked in front of another one of the flop house hotels on Cabrillo called the Torrance Hotel. Suddenly I heard shouting and laughing. A car full of kids about my age was cruising down Cabrillo, making obscene comments to anybody they saw. They shouted something at the Torrance Hotel. I saw somebody get on the fire escape. It was an old man, heavy set with boxers and a tank top on. He pointed a snub-nosed revolver at the kid’s car. They sped off. The man looked down at me as I approached my car. He shook his head, and then got back inside. My heart was going a mile a minute. I fumbled with the lock on my car door, and got in. I turned the ignition key. The starter took what seemed like forever to get the engine running. I took off at a good clip, in a panic to get back onto home turf. I didn’t settle down until I was west of Torrance High on Carson Street. I was back into the gentle safe world of the American middle class.

I went back to visit Harry many times, but after this night I always took some of our mutual friends with me. Harry drifted from one fast food job to another, and lived in several different places over the next couple of years. I lost track of him in about 1976, and haven’t seen him since. I’ve often wondered what became of him.

And what of the Brighton Hotel? It’s still there. The Pussycat is gone…..knocked down to make room for condos. Few in the city lamented that. Most of Downtown Torrance remains as it was on that heady night in 1972.

 

 

Copyright 2014 Robert Boren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fries Are Up!

hamburger

I remember my first day. It was a crisp March afternoon in 1971. Mom dropped me off, because I didn’t have my driver’s license yet. I had on my black pants and black shoes as instructed, and was freshly showered. I took a deep breath, and knocked on the side door. It opened after a few long seconds. The smell of frying beef and toasted buns and ketchup flowed over me.

“Are you James?” the man asked. He was a pudgy man of about 35, wearing a shirt and tie, with brown slacks. He had a paper hat with the company logo on his head. The hat made him look goofy.

“Yes,” I said, extending my hand, which the man shook. “You can call me Jim.”

“Alright, Jim. I’m Dick, the assistant manager,” he said. “Good to have you aboard. Sit.” He pointed to a chair next to a messy desk that was against the wall, right next to the door.

I sat down on, and Dick sat down on an office chair and rolled up to the desk. He opened a drawer on his right side and fingered through files, finding mine and pulling it out. He opened it on the desk in front of him.

“So, this is your first job, is it?

“Yes, sir.”

“No paper route or anything like that?”

“No,” I said.

“Well, I see that we already tested your addition skills. You passed, but without a lot of room to spare. You’ll get faster, though.”

I heard somebody laughing in the front of the restaurant. I looked over to see two boys about my age in the front, with their white company shirts and their paper hats. The hats were cocked on their heads the way G.I.s would cock their hats for pictures during WW II. They were leaning on the counter, watching something out on the street beyond the glass enclosed customer area.

“Hey, no grab ass out there,” shouted Dick. He turned back to me. “Don’t mind them. We have a good crew here. I don’t have to get after them too much.”

I nodded.

“Do you have any outside interests, Jim? Sports?”

“I’m a musician,” I said.

“Oh, really? Skin flute?”

I gave him a puzzled look, and he cracked up. Dick was trying to be cool like the young kids. It seemed fake to me.

“No, really, what do you do in music?”

“I’m a cellist, and I sing.”

“So you should have really good manual dexterity.”

“I think so,” I said.

“Well, that’s good. Sometimes it gets really busy here. You are turning six burgers at a time on the grill, or wrapping a tray of twenty four burgers in less than a minute. You should see it when we have the clown here.”

“The clown?” I asked.

“Yeah, you’ve seen the commercials, if you are from this planet,” he said grinning. “Let’s take a little tour, and then we’ll get your training started.”

Dick stood up, and I did too. He turned to look out at the back room.

“This is our prep and washing area. The walk-in on your left there is the fridge. We keep burgers, condiments, lettuce, tomatoes, and such in there. The smaller walk-in on the wall straight ahead is the freezer. It has the french fries, apple pies, breaded fish patties, and a few other things.”

I nodded, and then Dick pointed me to the back wall.

“Ice maker, sink for washing containers, cabinet that holds clean cartridges for the tartar sauce and dressing guns. We use only dehydrated onions here. Those pans on the sink counter are for that. We mix them with water and they sit overnight.”

There were two doors at the end of the back wall. One of them led to some stairs. The other one led to the parking lot. Dick walked over to the stairs and I followed him. We started down into the basement.

“Watch your step,” he said as we walked down. There was a wood shelf on hinges fastened to the wall on one side of the long straight stairway.

“What’s the wood thing for?”

“That folds down to make a slide,” Dick said. “When we get a big delivery, we fold that open and slide the boxes down. Pretty slick, eh?”

I nodded. The basement was bigger than I expected. There were big industrial shelves along each wall. One had boxes of paper goods……cups, napkins, bags, tray boxes, and the like. Another had large cans of pickles and mustard and ketchup. In the center of the room was a large table. Off to the right was a bank of drink syrup canisters, with clear hoses coming out of them and going up the wall and through the ceiling. There were large fat paper cartons, looking like huge milk cartons, on a shelf next to the canisters. They were labeled Coke, Orange, and Root Beer.

“Everything that we store other than the cold and frozen stuff is down here. The table is for the crew to eat lunch. Oh, and there are lockers and fresh shirts over there.” He pointed behind us, under the stairs. “Leave your street shirt in one of the lockers, and grab a fresh shirt out of the bin. We have small, medium, and large. Go ahead and change.”

I walked over to one of the lockers that was hanging open, took off my shirt, and put it in. I closed the door. There was no lock. Then I looked for a medium shirt in the bin. It was in a plastic bag. I opened the bag, took out the shirt, and put it on.

“Don’t forget your hat,” said Dick. “In that bin there.”

I looked over where he was pointing and saw the bin above the shirts. I grabbed a paper hat, opened it, and put it on my head. I felt stupid wearing that thing.

“Lookin good, Jim. Let’s go upstairs and I’ll show you around the front.”

We went upstairs, and out into the front. It was broken into two spaces….the grill, fryers, shake machine, bun cookers, and prep table in the back, and the sales counter area in the front. There was a large flat surface with heat lamps above the front sandwich bins that could be reached from behind the grill. A tray of hamburgers sat up there under the lights. Below the bins were trays that had hamburger and cheeseburger and fish sandwich wrappers at the ready.

“I’ll show you how we wrap burgers,” Dick said. The other guys in the store watched with amusement.

Dick pulled the tray of fresh steaming burgers where he could reach them. He picked up the first burger, and set it upside down on top of the stack of hamburger papers in the bin, Then he slowly wrapped it, watching to make sure I was looking.

“There, you see how we do it. Now watch how we do it fast. He set the first wrapped burger into the holding bin. Then he quickly grabbed another one, set it down on the paper, and in what looked like one smooth motion, had the burger wrapped and set into the bin. Then he grabbed another, wrapped it and put it into the bin, and then another.

“Wow,” I said.

Dick looked over me as he was wrapping, not even looking down at what he was doing.

“Don’t worry kid, you’ll be this fast in no time.” He finished the tray, and then slid it back towards the grill. “Guys, come here for a second.”

The three boys that were in the front gathered around.

“This is Jim,” Dick said. “Jim, this is Teddy, Bill, and Jose.”

I smiled and nodded. The boys all looked at me for a second, and then went back to what they were doing. A customer came in through the front door and walked up to the counter. Teddy, a somewhat effeminate kid, walked up to the counter.

“Can I help you?” he said politely.

Dick motioned for me to go into the grill area. There was a big blonde kid leaning against the prep table in the back, watching the front, with a coffee stir stick in his mouth. He was older than the other kids. He looked me over as I followed Dick back there.

“I told you not to have a stir stick in your mouth where the customers can see you,” said Dick. “Get rid of it now.”

The big kid looked at him, got a smirk on his face, and then pulled it out of his mouth and threw it into the gray plastic trash can next to the prep table.

“This is Larry,” said Dick. “He’s one of our oldest employees. Learn how to cook from this guy….he’s great. But don’t learn everything else he does.”

Dick laughed and looked over at Larry, who just smiled at him. This kid looked really familiar to me.

“Are you Jerry’s brother?” I asked.

“You know Jerry?” he asked dryly.

“Yeah, he’s in a couple of my classes.”

“I’m sorry,” said Larry with a stone face. Dick looked at him and shook his head.

“C’mon kid, let’s go in the back and do a little paperwork, and then I’ll have ‘Mr. Cool’ here teach you how to make shakes. Hopefully Jan will be here soon. He’s the night assistant manager. He’ll take over your training tonight after I leave.”

“Alright,” I said. We went back to the desk again, and both of us sat down.

“A few things that I haven’t told you yet. During the week, you kids get to work after 4:00pm. You also get to work on weekends. There’s a schedule over there on the wall, which we set up every two weeks. You can request days off, but you have to do it before we make the schedule for that timeframe. Get it?”

I nodded.

“During the week days, between opening and 4:00, we have housewives working here. We never work the housewives at the same time that we work you guys.”

“Really, why?” I asked.

“Never mind. It’s just company policy. We don’t hire girls, either. Boys only. Too many hormone problems, and too much romance. And by the way, this is a Company store, meaning that it is run by the parent company, not as a franchise. We get the new stuff first here, and this store tends to pay a little bit better than most.”

I nodded, and then the back door flew open, and a thin man in his mid-forties burst in. He was really angry….you could see it on his face.

“George, this is the new kid, Jim,” said Dick, standing up and acting more formally all of a sudden. “Jim, this is the Manager, George. He’s the big boss.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said, wondering why this guy was mad.

“Nice to me you too, Jim,” George said. “Hopefully you will make a good crew member.”

“What happened out there?” asked Dick.

“Call the guys back here for a second,” George said. He was still angry, but was trying to control it.

Dick got up and saw that there were no customers in the front, so he motioned for the crew members to come back. They all gathered around.

“Who was the last person to walk the lot?” asked George angrily.

“It was one of the housewives,” said Dick. “Margie, I think. Why?”

“Somebody went into the customer’s bathroom and shit all over the place. There’s shit on the floor, shit in the sink, and shit all over the toilet seat. Some of it was dried on, so I know it’s been there for a few hours.”

The crew members were all trying really hard not to laugh, but then Jose just couldn’t stand it anymore, and he snickered.

“Oh, you think this is funny, do you?” George said. “Good, then you get to clean it up. Get the mop bucket full of water and soap, and get in there.

Jose had a horrified look on his face, but he just looked down and nodded. Then he went in the back and started getting the bucket ready.

“Alright, that’s all, back to work,” said George.

The door opened again, and a tall red-headed guy came in. He looked to be about the same age as Larry. He saw everybody gathered in the back.

“What’s up?”

“Somebody shit all over the bathroom,” Dick said. “Jose got the duty.”

“Why didn’t the new guy have to do that?” he asked.

“Jose thought it was funny,” said George. He was starting to cool down now. “Shouldn’t you have been here about ten minutes ago, Jan?”

“Sorry, boss, basketball practice got out a little late.”

George looked at him and nodded. Then he turned towards the door and opened it.

“Alright, guys, I’m out of here,” he said. “Dick, get the new kid handed off to Jan and then get the hell out of here. I’m not paying any overtime today.”

“Right, boss,” said Dick. “Hey, you guys, get back to work. Parties over.”

The boys went back out to the front.

“This is the new kid, huh?” said Jan. He looked me over.

“Jan, Jim. Jim, Jan,” Dick said.

“Nice to meet you,” I said.

“Likewise,” Jan said. “Did you teach him anything yet, Dick?

“Not much, just showed him around. I’d start him on shakes, then fish sandwiches. If he picks up fast, try him in the front.”

“Alright, Dick, sounds good. You better get out of here.”

“Right,” said Dick. He grabbed his sport coat that was hanging on a hook next to the desk. Then he took off his paper hat and put it in the trash. “See you guys tomorrow.” He went out the door.

After Dick left, Jan’s demeanor changed instantly.

“So, what did you think of old weird Harold?” asked Jan. He had a wicked grin on his face, and was just on the verge of laughing.

“Who?” I asked. Just then Larry sauntered into the back. He had a stir stick in his mouth again.

“He doesn’t know who old weird Harold is,” Larry said. He cracked up.

“Do you mean Dick?” I asked.

Jan laughed out loud.

“No, Dick has a perfect name as it is,” he said. Old weird Harold is the manager.

“I still think we ought to just call him DB,” said Larry. “Hey, Jim, do you know what DB means?”

“He doesn’t know, Larry.”

I shook my head no, not sure if I should be laughing or not.

“It stands for douche bag,” Larry said. He looked over at Jan and they both cracked up. “You do know what a douche bag is, don’t you?”

I had no idea, but I didn’t want to tell them that. I just nodded yes and laughed, hoping they wouldn’t ask me anymore about it. Note to self, find out what douche bag means.

“Did Dick tell you his last name?” asked Jan. Larry started to laugh…he must have known what was coming.

“No,” I said, fearing I was walking into something.

“Cabeza.”

I shook my head and cracked up. Thank God I knew what cabeza meant. Jan and Larry practically fell down laughing.

Just at that moment the back door near the stairs opened up. Jose came in, pushing the mop bucket.

“Shitty day I guess, eh Jose,” Jan said.

“Fuck you, gringo,” Jose said. Then he started laughing. “It was almost worth it to watch Harold.”

“Sure was,” Larry said. “I almost lost it, but I knew what would happen if I did.”

Jose was still laughing, and then he started imitating the manager with his Spanish accent.

“Somebody shit all over the bathroom. On the toilet, on the floor, on the seat, and in my mouth.”

We all started laughing, and a couple of the guys up front came back to see what was going on.

“Get back to work,” Jan said with a scowl…..and then he laughed some more.

“Hey, Jan, that bun cooker is on the rag again,” said Bill.

Jan and Larry looked at each other, and said in unison “On the towel, damn it.”

I gave them a quizzical look. Jan looked over at me with that grin again.

“When the coffee maker quit working a couple of weeks ago, I said it was on the rag right when Harold walked out there. He said ‘it’s a towel, not a rag’, so we’ve been saying on the towel ever since. That is an important part of your training.”

“Yeah, hopefully the shake machine won’t go on the towel tonight when Jr here is using it,” Larry said, glancing over at Jan with a smirk. Jan shook his head and snickered.

“OK, we need to get ready for the dinner rush. Ought to be starting in a few minutes. Larry, get some new burgers started. Jose, get some fries going. The rest of you guys, red oil the counters and the bins. And Larry, after you put the meat on the grill, show Jr how to make shakes.”

I followed Larry out to the grill area, and watched as he put 24 hamburger patties on the grill. They sizzled. People were starting to show up, and now there were lines at three of the counter’s five registers. Larry loaded 24 buns face up on trays and slid them into the automatic bun cooker. Then he pushed down a lever, and the heated top element came down on the buns.

“Watch me,” Larry said, sounding serious for the first time. He pulled a cup out of the dispenser, and then put one squirt of Vanilla syrup into the cup by pushing down on the pump handle. Then he walked over to the ice cream machine and used it to fill the cup almost full of ice cream. Then he took that to the mixing machine, which had places for 8 cups. He slid the cup up on the first rotary mixer, and pushed it up until it clicked and the cup was held in place. Then he hit a button, which started the mixer.

“The mixer will turn off after about two minutes. When it’s done, pull it off and put a plastic lid on the cup, and slide it down on that table right there for pickup.” He pointed to a wide stainless steel table with a lip all the way around to keep the cups from falling on the floor. It was cold to the touch.

The place was getting really busy now, and I got my first opportunity to make shakes myself. Jan walked back to me from the front.

“Larry showed you, right?”

I nodded.

“Good. Make four chocolate and four vanilla shakes. Then make four strawberry shakes. You know to put the syrup in all, then put the ice cream in all, and then put the cups all on the mixer together, right”

“I haven’t done that yet, but I figured that was how it’s done.”

“Alright, let er rip,” Jan said.

I got to work, filling all eight cups with syrup and ice cream, and putting them all on the mixers. I turned them on and watched as they mixed. Then Jan came trotting back and went around the corner by the desk.

“Hey, Jr, come back here and help me with something.”

I rushed into the back. He had me help him fill a box with ketchup packets. It seemed to take forever, and I was getting worried about the shakes. I got the box filled with packets and handed it to him, and he rushed back to the front, as I rushed back to the shake machine.

“Oh no!” I said. There was shake mix flying all over the place, and you could see the mixing blades had sawed through the cups. There was shake all over the counter, and all over the floor.”

“Hey, damn it, where’s my shakes,” cried Jan from the front.

“Better start over quick,” said Larry. He was trying not to laugh, which made me suspicious. Then I looked over at Jan, and he was standing by several of the other guys. They were all cracking up.

“Shit, you guys set me up.” I said. Then Larry lost it, laughing so hard that he had to lean against the prep table with both hands to keep from falling down.

“Somebody give Jr a rag…..er towel,” Jan said. Then he started laughing again.

I got everything cleaned up and got a new batch of shakes going, not looking away from them for a second. Everything was fine after that, and I made what seemed like a hundred shakes that first night. The dinner rush died down, and we got to start taking breaks.

Larry came up behind me and put his hand on my shoulder.

“Well, Jr, you passed the first test.”

“Who messed with my shakes?”

Larry just looked at me and laughed.

“Everybody new gets to go through that,” he said. “If you cock the cups a little to one side when they are on the mixer, the blade saws through the cups and then the shake mix gets sucked through. Neat trick. You’ll do it to somebody someday.

I looked at him and smiled. I remember feeling like I was becoming part of the group at that moment.

Jan came over, and whispered something to Larry. He cracked up.

“What?” I asked.

“Jose is down on the table eating lunch now,” Jan whispered. “He didn’t notice that I moved it.”

“What do you want to use?” Larry asked.

“Aw, just coke. Nice and sticky. Just a second.” He went around to the front and filled a paper cup with coke. Then he brought it back behind the grill and kneeled down. It was then that I saw it. A hole in the floor about the size of a quarter. Jan bent one side of the cup into a sharp crease, and then poured the coke into the hole.

We heard a chair being pushed back so fast that it crashed to the floor, and Jose was yelling his head off. Jan and Larry cracked up again.

Jose ran up the stairs and over to the grill. He looked mad until he saw Jan and Larry standing there laughing. Then he started laughing.

“You cocksuckers,” he said. “I get another burger and fries for free. And somebody else is cleaning the floor. I’ve done enough shit work today.”

“In more ways than one,” I said. The three guys looked at me and laughed hard.

“You know, Jr, you are going to fit in here just fine,” said Jan. “Even if you are a DB.”

After things settled down, Larry showed me how to make fish sandwiches. It was easy. You put the breaded fish patty in a rack and drop it in the deep fryer. Then you hit a timer button, and put a bun in the steam cabinet which was under the prep table. When the timer goes off, you pull the fish rack out of the fryer and let the grease drip off. Then you pull the bun out of the steamer and put on half a piece of cheese, and a squirt of Tartar sauce on each side. Then the fish goes on, and you put the sandwich on a tray and up on the staging shelf….except I got to eat this one. It was break time. I went down stairs with my sandwich and a drink, and made sure that I moved the table out from under the hole before I sat down.

When I came back upstairs, I noticed a couple of the guys watching the front counter from behind the grill with some interest. I walked up behind them.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

Larry looked back at me. “See that lady up there? Check out her blouse.”

I looked over and saw her. She had on a blouse so low cut and loose that she might as well have not bothered to wear anything. When she moved, the top of her nipples showed. Teddy was trying hard to wait on her and not look at her chest.

“Poor Teddy,” Jose said. “He’s afraid of girls. Look at him. He’s trembling.”

The lady had an annoyed look on her face. When Teddy brought her food, she started giving him a hard time.

“What are you looking at, you little twerp?” she said, with a heavy Spanish accent.

“Nothing,” Teddy said, looking down.

“I see you looking at my breasts. You little white kids make me sick. We can’t even go to a restaurant without you looking at us like a piece of meat.”

Teddy was speechless. He slid her food up to her and turned around.

Larry was trying hard not to crack up, and rushed back into the walk-in fridge. I could just barely hear him laughing hysterically.

The woman grabbed the food and left in a huff. Teddy came behind the grill, where Jan had been watching.

“Sorry, Jan,” he said. “I really wasn’t staring at her.”

“I was,” said Jan. “Don’t worry, kid. She wore that in order to be stared at. Did she ever pay you for the food?”

“Ah, shit,” said Teddy.

Jan just laughed. Then the side door opened and Bill came in, with the broom and dustpan in his hands.

“You guys see that lady in that ridiculous top? She goes out to the car, and takes the damn thing off, then puts on a different top, and gets into the car. You could hear her and her friend laughing all the way across the lot.”

Jan started cracking up. “Teddy, you just got scammed. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us, but if she ever shows up again, you let me know. I’ll kick her off the premises for wearing something like that. And by the way, Larry, why didn’t you say something? You were supposed to be watching the front.”

“Because I figured you’d kick her out, pencil neck,” said Larry. “Hey, Bill, how did her tits look?”

“You didn’t miss much. Saggy and nasty looking.”

We all cracked up, and then Jan told us to get back to work.

There was one more big rush that night, and I was able to do several different jobs, including the counter. Teddy showed me how to make change and load the bags of food correctly.

While I was at the counter, a drunk man wandered in. Jose took his order.

“I’ll take a cheeseburger with ten extra pickles on it,” he said, slurring a little bit.

“Yes sir,” said Jose. He wrote the ticket (we called it a “grill”) and handed it back to Larry.

“Ten extra pickles coming up,” Larry said.

Jose collected the money from this guy. The cheeseburger was ready in a few minutes. I wrapped it, and put it in a bag. Jose picked it up and gave it to the man, and he stumbled out.

About three minutes later, the drunk came back in. He looked mad. He slammed the half-unwrapped cheeseburger back on the counter.

“God dammit, I want to talk to the manager,” he said.

Jose walked up to the counter.

“What’s wrong, sir?” he asked.

“I counted the pickles, and there were only eight.”

Jose looked like he was on the verge of laughing, so the man reached across the counter, grabbed Jose by the colar, and punched him in the face.

“There, how do you like that, punk?”

Larry saw what was happening from behind the grill.

“Hey Jan, call the cops. Some idiot just punched Jose.”

“Already on the phone with them,” Jan shouted from the back, loud enough for the drunk to hear it. He grabbed his cheeseburger and ran out the door.

Larry came running around to the front and looked at Jose.

“You OK, man?” he asked.

“I wish I could spit out a couple of teeth…that would be perfect,” Jose said, laughing. “Yeah, I’m OK. That guy can’t punch for shit.”

By that time Jan was in the front.

“Cops coming?” asked Larry.

“No, I didn’t even call them. I figured shouting that they were on the line would be enough.”

“Hey, Larry, did you really only put eight pickles on that cheeseburger?” asked Jose.

“I don’t know…..I just grabbed a handful of pickles and threw them on there.”

“You asshole, next time you can work the front when a drunk comes in.”

“If he punched me, I would have mopped the floor with him,” said Larry, trying to look tough. We all laughed at him.

“Alright, guys, that’s enough. We close in about 45 minutes, so let’s start getting things ready. Jr, you get to wash trash cans. Gather up all of the gray plastic cans and bring them in the back.”

“Alright,” I said, and I started walking the store and picking them up. I got them all by the back door, next to the sink.

Jan came over to me.

“OK, take the cans back to the dumpster and empty them good. Then bring them back in here. Squirt a little bit of disinfectant in each one, and then fill it about half way up with water from that spray nozzle on the sink. Use that brush under the sink to scrub them a little bit, and then dump the disinfectant out and rinse each one.”

“Will do,” I said, and I got to work. I had all of the cans washed and rinsed in about ten minutes.

“Looks like you’re done, Jr,” said Jan.

“Yeah, should I take them back out to the front?”

“Wait,” he said. Then he winked at me and grinned. “Hey, Larry, go down into the basement and bring me up two boxes of drink cups.”

“Two boxes? We don’t need that much up here,” said Larry as he was walking into the back.

“Just do it, OK,” said Jan.

“Alright, pencil neck,” Larry said as he was walking down the steps.

“Hey, Jr,” Jan whispered, “move all of the trash cans by the top of the stairs, and tell me when Larry has started up the stairs.”

I looked at Jan, wondering what he was up to now. He snickered.

I saw Larry at the bottom of the stairs, caring two big boxes. They were big, and completely blocked his view forward. I nodded to Jan. He rushed over, grabbed several of the trash cans, and threw them down the stairs. Then he grabbed more and dumped them down there too.

“Aaahhhhhhhhhhh!” cried Larry as he fell backwards. I heard the boxes hitting the ground, and the sound of the trash cans continuing down the steps. “You assholes!”

Jan was doubled over laughing. Just at that moment, the back door opened up. It was the district manager.

“What the hell is going on in here,” shouted the man, looking down the stairs.

“We just had an accident, sir,” said Jan.

“You tell me how seven trash cans fell down the stairs by accident,” said the man. “Looks like a good time for a store inspection.”

He started up to the front, trying to get around me. I was nervously trying to get out of his way.

“Out of my way,” said the man. He shoved me aside.

I could hear talking, opening and closing of bins, and more talking. The man came back to where we were a few minutes later.

“Well, the front of the store is in good shape,” he said. “I’m surprised. But I’m going to tell George to fire you two guys that are back here.” He went out the back door and slammed it shut.

“Shit, I just get this job and I’m going to get fired already,” I said.

Larry came walking up the stairs. He was careful to stay down there when the district manager was there.

“Real nice timing there, chief,” he said to Jan.

“Nobody is getting fired,” said Jan. “Harold trusts me. Don’t worry, Jim, I’ll make sure nothing happens to you.

That was a heck of a first day. Jan was right, nobody got fired for the hijinks that night. I went on to become a capable crew member, and became good friends with Jan and Larry and the rest of the guys. And yes, I went on to “break in” the new guys too…..did the shake trick more than once. I cherish the memories of that first job. Yes, there was a lot of screwing around there, but we could handle the big crowds well, and that took teamwork and knowledge of the task at hand. This job taught me how to be an employee and a team member, and that served me well in every job that I had afterward. I hated parts of this job after a while, but it was a long time before I had another job that was as much fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Robert Boren 2014

 

Topock

The lagoon near Topock Gorge

The lagoon near Topock Gorge

 

You go down a lot of paths when you are growing up. Some of them are life changing paths; paths to success in life, or paths to disaster.

When I was a child, my family took us boat camping several times a year. One of my favorite places was a sandbar right on the outside of Topock Gorge.

The sandbar was an isthmus about a hundred yards wide, and about five hundred yards long, which jutted out from the rocky coastline of the Colorado River. It protected a lagoon from the main river, having a small opening onto the river at one end that was big enough for a boat to get through. The lagoon was a few hundred yards wide. It was perfect to swim in. The water temperature was in the mid-seventies during the spring and summer. The fast flowing open river was much colder; it was about sixty five degrees all the time, even in the hottest parts of the summer.

We would get to the sandbar early enough on the big vacation weeks to get the prime spot, which was the crotch of the isthmus. There were dense bushes at that end of the sand bar, with a clearing close to the water that was just big enough to put up a cabin tent and a sun awning. We would water ski and fish, then pull the boat up to the beach. We would disappear into the thicket to relax under the awning. It was paradise.

As you progress down the isthmus, the bushes gradually disappeared, leaving a nice wide sandy beach. Groups of people would spend the night on the beach, before floating in inflatables down through the beautiful Topock Gorge and on into Lake Havasu.

I was an awkward boy during the days when we were camping at this spot. I was in Jr. High, but looked and acted younger than my classmates. I was short and chubby…..definitely not a kid acceptable to the “in crowd” at school.

Rock music was one of my main interests. I constantly had something playing. My parents bought me a nice portable cassette tape deck. It was a Christmas gift, and I just loved it. I recorded music off of the radio all the time, and had a good collection of tapes to bring with me to the campouts. I brought it to the sandbar during our Easter Week trip.

In the late afternoon, as the breeze started to cool the air, I would set up a blanket under the outside edge of the bushes by our campground. I would play music, and watch people who were stopped to camp overnight. There were teenage girls out there, frolicking around the water in their bikinis. Of course this was very interesting to me at that age, and images of these girls stayed burned into my brain for a long time afterward. Every so often my music would draw a couple of them over. The girls would talk to me while listening. I just loved this, because few of the girls at school would give me the time of day.

The music didn’t just attract young girls, though. I remember a hippie couple that came over once. I happened to be playing some psychedelic rock – Cream’s ‘Wheels of Fire’.

“Hey, man, cool music,” the man said as he walked over. “Mind if we sit over there and listen?”

I would usually be a little nervous around strangers, but this guy seemed harmless to me.

“Sure, no problem,” I said.

“Cool, man,” the hippie guy said. His girlfriend had on the smallest bikini I had ever seen. She was holding a blanket. This girl was beautiful, with short black hair, a sweet smile, and a dark tan. I still remember her face after all these years. She noticed me looking at her. I got embarrassed and looked away. She smirked.

They walked over a little ways and put their blanket on the sand, under the cover of the bushes.

I continued to listen to my music, and would glance over at them every once in a while. They were getting closer and closer to each other, and started hugging and caressing. My adolescent mind was on overdrive, hoping that I was going to see something I shouldn’t. The next time I glanced over, they were taking the blanket into the bushes.

As I was looking where couple went, two boys wearing cut-off jeans appeared out of nowhere.

“Hey, nice tape deck,” said one of the boys. He was a couple years older than me, with short blonde hair and a wiry build. He smiled at me, but it was a smile that made me nervous. It was a mean smile.

“How’s it goin?” I said. The other boy nodded at me and smiled. He was a little bigger than the blonde kid. He had longish dark hair and glasses. He didn’t have the predatory look of his friend.

The two boys sat down next to me.

“I’m Mike,” the blonde kid said, “and this is Phil.”

“I’m Charlie,” I said. “Floating through the Gorge tomorrow?

“Yeah, leaving at six in the morning, if my dipshit foster dad doesn’t get too drunk tonight. The two boys looked at each other and snickered.

I didn’t know what to say. I was hoping they would not stick around. They made me uneasy, partly because they were too old to be interested in talking to me. It didn’t feel right.

“What other music do you have?” asked Mike. I pulled the case that was next to me over to him. It was an old 45 record case that I got from a family friend. Mike pulled it over to him and opened it.

“Pew, what’s that smell?” he asked. I laughed.

“Oil of Wintergreen,” I said. “Forgot about that. I’m used to it.”

“Why does it smell like that?”

“I used to be into slot cars before all the tracks shut down. I kept my car stuff in there. You use Oil of Wintergreen on the tires, to soften them up and make them sticky.”

Phil’s eyes lit up.

“I used to love slot cars,” he said. “My dad used to take me to the track, before he split.”

“Sounds kind of queer to me,” Mike said, staring at Phil. Phil shut up.

“No, it was actually pretty cool,” I said. “Some of the cars were really boss.”

Mike started pulling out my cassette tapes one by one and reading the titles I had scrawled on them.

“Bitchen, you have the Led Zeppelin album. This has ‘Dazed and Confused’ on it.”

“Want me to put it in?”

“Naw, later,” he said. “I love Cream.”

“Me too,” said Phil, looking sideways at Mike. I got the impression that he was completely under Mike’s power.

“Great, now you are going to tell us one of the bullshit stories about your brother.”

“They aren’t bullshit,” Phil said. “And shut up about my brother.”

“What stories?” I asked.

Mike looked like he was going to say something, but then he stopped, and continued to look through my tapes. Phil glanced over at him, and then back at me.

“I remember this music playing when my brother and I were cruising,” Phil said. “He had a bitchen Firebird 440. That thing hauled ass.”

“There’s one of those on my street,” I said. “The guy who owns it burns rubber down the street whenever there is a cute girl around.” We both laughed.

“Why don’t you tell us what happened to the Firebird, lame-o?” Mike said, that scary smile back on his face again.

Phil looked at me, and then looked down.

“I don’t want to,” he said.

“Phil’s brother stole the car, and the cops busted him for it. He’s in jail, rotting like the rest of the losers.”

“My brother is no loser.”

“Yeah, right.”

I saw several younger kids running towards us. They were laughing, stopping to pick up sand to throw at each other. I was relieved to see them.

“Mikey and Phil, it’s time to come back to camp for dinner,” one of the young girls said. The others stood there giggling. Mike got an annoyed look on his face, and tossed the tapes back into the box. He got up. Phil looked at me and shrugged, and then got up too. Just at that moment, the hippie couple came crawling out of the brush. They looked disheveled, and the girl looked embarrassed when she saw us watching them.

“Hey, did you get her?” Mike shouted. Then he circled his thumb and forefinger on one hand, and started sawing his other forefinger in and out of it. Phil looked at the shocked look on my face, and then back at Mike. He slapped his hands down.

“Shut up. That’s not cool,” he said. He looked over at the hippie guy, who was starting to walk over. “Sorry, man……he didn’t mean anything.”

“Mikey, we gotta go!” the little girl shouted.

“Alright, alright,” Mike said. He looked down at me. “You going to be around later? Maybe we can mess around for a while.”

“Maybe,” I said. I tried not to sound too enthusiastic.

They turned and left. I felt relieved. I picked up my stuff and walked back into our clearing. I sat down on a sand chair under the awning. My mom looked at me, and could tell that I was a little upset.

“You want a Hi-C, Charlie?”

“Yes, but I’ll get it, Mom.” I got up and walked over to the ice chest. “You want another beer?”

“No thanks, honey.”

I fished a Hi-C out and opened it. The first swig of that icy sweet nectar always tasted so good in the heat. I sat back down. The rest of the family came into the clearing – my younger sister and brother, and my Dad. They had been floating on inner tubes out in the lagoon, and were still dripping wet. My dad toweled himself off. My brother and sister didn’t bother. They both hit the ice chest for drinks, and plopped down on the chairs next to me. My brother looked over at me with a grin.

“You should see that big family down there,” he said.

“Why?”

“It’s a dad and a mom with about 8 kids. The dad is drunk off his ass. The mom is pissed.”

“Really?” I looked over at him, and then at my sister, who shook her head in agreement.

“Dad made us come in, because that creep has one of the older girls on his lap. It didn’t look right,” my sister said.

“Good Lord,” Mom said. She walked over to my dad, and they began a hushed conversation.

My brother looked at me and cracked up. He moved closer to me so he could whisper.

“I think that guy had a rod,” he said, laughing.

“What’s that?” asked my sister.

“Never mind,” I said. She got mad and stomped into the tent.

My brother and I looked at each other and laughed.

After a couple of hours, I went out to the boat to grab something. Mike saw me out there. He grabbed Phil and came trotting over.

“Want to mess around?” Mike asked, smiling. Phil stood a little behind him, off to the right.

“Yeah, let’s do something,” Phil said.

Mike was looking around to see if any of my other family members were around.

“Where’s your tape recorder?”

“Back at camp,” I said. “I’m busy right now. I have to go back to camp.”

“Well how about this,” Mike said. “There’s a great little canyon back on the other side of the lagoon, with a spring. Maybe we can take sleeping bags and your tape recorder back there and spend the night. It would be bitchen.” He looked over at Phil, who nodded his head in agreement.

“I don’t think so,” I said. “No way my parents would go for that.”

“C’mon, Charlie, don’t be a weenie,” said Mike. He was starting to get an impatient look. I could tell he was trying really hard not to show any anger.

“They wouldn’t even have to know,” Phil said quietly. “You could sneak out after dark. We’ll come get you.” Mike nodded in approval.

I was just about to respond when I heard my Dad coming out through the brush.

“What’s going on, Charlie?” he asked.

Mike and Phil looked at each other nervously.

“These guys want me to spend the night with them back in the canyon over there, by the spring.”

My dad looked at me. I think he could tell I didn’t want any part of that. Then he looked at the two boys, and his eyes narrowed.

“Sorry, but Charlie won’t be doing that. I don’t want to see you two in our camp again. Take off.”

Mike got a nasty look on his face. He tried to stare down my dad, but dad took a step towards him. He looked at Phil, and turned to leave. I listened to them as they were walking off.

“Shit, that would have been easy,” said Phil.

“Shut up,” Mike said. “Fathers can be such assholes.”

My dad put his hand on my shoulder, and we walked back into camp.

“Make sure your tape recorder gets put in the tent tonight, where your mom and I are sleeping,” he said.

I looked at him and nodded.

“And stay away from their camp,” he said.

As time went by, I forgot about this incident. Then, when I was in my early thirties with kids of my own, I saw a true crime show on TV that brought me right back to the camping trip. Two older kids lured a younger kid off to spend the night in a remote part of the camping area, because he had something they wanted. They ended up killing the younger kid by bashing his head in with a rock. I’ll never forget the feeling I got when the memories of our campout suddenly washed over me. Could that have been me?

Yes, I could have taken that path. I could have snuck out to meet Mike and Phil. It might have been fun. Or not.

 

 

 

 

Copyright Robert Boren 2014