A Foolish Revolution
By Web Ruble
Web writes: "Having once been a newspaper reporter, I've met some news folk who have been dislodged because of their age and alleged political views. This one is typical with one major difference. The fired TV jock ends up re-uniting with his pastor."
Uniformed men operating the cantilevered log at the entrance raised the log, and I drove through. The log came down. I was through the gate.
It was the entrance to a fortified, barbed-wire-enclosed campground in northern Idaho, between Sandpoint and Kellogg, populated by a white supremist group, although I didn’t know that at the time.
All I knew was that “Individual Freedom” had been interested in me since I had been fired two weeks earlier by KZZT-TV, in Tacoma, Wash.
They had telephoned me at home, inviting me to come over for a chat sometime soon, and to bring important stuff that shows how I had been maltreated at KZZT-TV. As I had telephoned ahead, telling commander Todd Grimson that I was coming, I drove the asphalt lane straight to the head office. I pulled into its parking lot, limped out, and grabbed the manila envelope of papers I had been transporting. The headworks entrance was but a few yards and I went right to it.
I opened the door and stepped inside.
The room was an auditorium in size. A desk occupied a spot along the north wall, and a crisply dressed man was sitting behind it. Sitting facing him was another, who looked like yesteryear’s thug from Tacoma’s once Bowery-tough Pacific Avenue.
The man behind the desk was saying, “We just don’t think there’s enough evidence here of mistreatment of Kramer’s employes to sanction Kramer and his son. Besides it’s larger things – like Boeing, newspapers, radio stations and military installations -- that we are targeting. Keep your information, though...we may change our mind."
Whoa, what kind of place is this anyway?
The man behind the desk then motioned me forward. “Yes?” he said.
“You folk telephoned me the other day,” I said. “I’m Stanton Tucker, the former TV jock who was fired over in Tacoma about 10 days ago. Todd Grimson asked me to come over for a chat and as we had something important to talk about.”
“Indeed we do. I’m Treldy Tottin, Grimson”s assistant. I do most of the interviewing, recruiting and hiring around here. Grimson DID tell me he called you and that we should expect you. Er, uhh, how did you get past the guards at the entrance?”
“I called yesterday, “ I said. “And told some ribbon clerk who answered the phone that I would be over sometime today.”
“Oh yes, I see,” said Trottin. “Sit down. I’ll be with you in a minute.””
Well, of course, ‘twas more than a minute. The interlude, however, allowed me to review recent events, and how I came to be here: I was fired 10-11 days ago. Well, that doesn’t quite cover it. More accurately, I was threatened with being tossed on my ear one afternoon without much warning.
Although not formally warned, I had had a feeling I would soon be dismissed, as negative forces were staging. The previous few weeks had been ugly. The television station’s new general manager -- second in command to its owner -- told me bluntly, “We don’t like you, so we’re firing you. Get outta here. You have an hour to pack up your stuff and leave. I’m being generous, giving you an hour. I should just pick you up and throw you on the elevator.”
Wha-a-at ? Was he kidding? This wimp was going to get physical with me? I was twice his size; reasonably fit, logger hardened, and recently had dealt with grumpy mafia types in Seattle.
“Hey bozo, Benny Boy, Jersey jerk, New York Nerd, or whatever you are,” I said. “I am packing and leaving...but It’ll be at my own pace. Capite? You try to hog me physically, and see wha’ hoppen to you.”
The guy, named Gary, just glared and retreated across the room. “One hour!” he yelled.
After 50-60 minutes, he was back confronting me with hands on hips: “Hurry up! Quit smiling and get your stuff into those cartons. I want you outta here now -- before noon. I don’t wanna see you here this afternoon.”
“Don’ push me,” I said. “I’ll get outta here when I get outta here. ” I was going to say something smart like, ‘Whoozza die and make-a you boss, eh?’ But I didn’t. The owner didn’t die, but he DID hire this Gary as boss.
‘Yeah?” Well, I’ll toss you bodily, or have the security guard do it,” he retorted.
“Get outta my face,” I said. “You, or that bubble-brained guard, make one move toward me and I’ll heave you both out the window.” I then took a step in his direction.
“You can’t do that,” Gary said. “It’s against the rules. You’re fired. That’s it! Go!"
“I don’t give a whit about your alleged rules,” I said. “I’ll go when I go. It’ll be this afternoon or evening, Capite?”
And so it went. Others were witness. The word got out. It even reached Idaho. “Freedom” liked my alleged-conservative politics and now my reaction to the rude heave-ho. That’s why ”Freedom” called me.
When he returned attention, Tottin asked me into a back room. I followed. I detailed my firing, adding that I wasn’t a true right-winger. However, I had told station biggies that they were way beyond the pale. I said they were approaching disloyalty, and “traitorousness.” I told Tottin that I had liked a lot of what the station was doing. Moreover, I had made that negative comment only once, but station management hopped on it. I told Tottin it appeared the station biggies had had suspicions about me for quite some time, and were just waiting for a chance to do me. I said such tough-guy actions by me weren’t “cool,” but that KZZT-TV had been insulting my ancestry, my heritage, and my family. Too much. I just had to say something. Now even though I am jobless, I no longer am living a spiritual lie.
Tottin then explained his group’s position. They were conservatives of the first water. However, “Grimson’s gorillas” were divided. One group was as far right as Attila the Hun on global issues, and the other was for attacking benighted domestic management (who did not treat employees well).
What we do,” Tottin said. “Is assassinate unreasonable tyrants, and we oppose outrageous, naïve liberals who want to sell out the country. Yes, we’re into murder, but we move cautiously with Jesus, the Bible and Christian principles in mind.”
He added, that “Freedom” was just getting organized and that as of yet the organization had undertaken few violent acts.
I was flabbergasted by brazen directness. I stuttered, stammered, and finally urped, “W-w-w-well I’d have to put Christ’s no-kill commandment first. Then I’d act, if I had to...”
Then he asked, “From what we’ve learned, KZZT treated you terribly. Would you like to get back? Perhaps kill some of the managers?”
“What?” I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. Finally, I said, “No, I wouldn’t go that far. But KZZT middle managers need to be removed...Let me ponder things.” .
Well, the days came and went and I holed up in Missoula, Mont., a fairly good-sized university town, more than 50 miles east, beyond Lookout Pass, over the Bitterroots. ‘Twas close enough, though, that I could reach “Freedom” easily in a day’s time.
Daily, I’d saunter from my yawner Missoula hotel room down the street to Snake’s Watering Hole (a bar- grill), where university lost sheep hung out. I’d swap bourgeois intellectualisms with naïve pubescent intellectuals, grooving on the chatter for a while. But later it became an absurd exercise-- far from any reality.
So I’d meander to the big oaken whiskey bar and quaf a shot to ponder things. Once in a while I’d get in a conversation with shaggy Willie or wizened Al. It would be fine, because they were earthy folk. The only problem was they couldn’t stop hack-coughing -- especially Al. He’d get in a long borking fit and it would derail conversation.
One night in particular, Al was in a non-stop, deep-lung hack -- right from his core.
I asked the barmaid, and Loreen said, “Miner’s Con. It’s a disease all miners get. Both Al and Willie worked the Lucky Friday over by Kellogg. Al worked there longer, though. He’s only 67, but I’m afraid he ain’t long for dis worl.”
Loreen had big beguiling eyes. I was taken by her. Moreover, I could tell she took a shinin’ to me.
All the time I was wondering whether to join “Individual Freedom,” and set upon the group’s plan for “revolution to restore America.” Should I become a follower? A soldier? As time went on, my outlook became more and more crack-potty.
One night, it seemed late and I was weary. Loreen wasn’t there. I decided to leave and head for my hotel room. Deep in alleged thought, my alcoholic brain was in some foreign port. I was not paying attention to anything on this shore. I went out a side door and stepped right in the middle of five or six young houlihans.
I recognized two -- from the “Freedom” camp over in Idaho. Immediately they started beating me. I got in a couple of licks, closing one hooligan’s eye. However, somebody hit me in the head with an iron bar and I blanked momentarily.
One, who appeared to be the leader, finally said as I was exiting the throbbing fog, “You came to us...but you either feel you’re too good for us or are a spy, or both. Either way, we should kill you. But no-o-o-o. We have orders.”`
About this time an old rust bucket motored up the curb and stopped. The hooligans, who had me trussed, pushed me into it. A couple got in with me, and squashed me to the rear seat floorboards. Then they put a blindfold on me.
We lurched away from the curb, and every time I tried to ask why, or where we were going, the big fat guy said, “shaddup!”
I finally gave up. We drove for hours. I had no idea where we were, or where we were going, or why. The guys were not talkin’. Finally, one said, “Stop here.” I had jiggled the blindfold to where I could see a little. We were at a service station. One of the houlihans returned with a bottle of water and a cheesy tuna sandwich. They let me eat.
I assume they ate, too. But I told ‘em that I needed to go to the bathroom. Finally they pulled off of what appeared a freeway into a clearing. They put a noose around my neck. I was allowed to clear my system.
Then we were back on the road again. After another two hours, we exited the freeway, and cruised a small town. Then we were chugging uphill through orchards. We were on a gravel road and went past a campground. Moments later, we turned off and rumbled through a gate. After skulking up a chuck-holed track 500 yards, we stopped. They dragged me out of the car, removed my blindfold and pushed me up some steps.
I had no idea where we were. I recognized nothing. As I was trying to orient, one dude whacked me hard on the back with a piece of lumber. I went sprawling inside the old frame home’s threshold I heared a woman’s voice -- “That’s enough!”
Battered, bruised, and sore all over, I sat up. I was considering using what energy remained to take on these thugs. However, through my blinking eyes I saw...LOREEN!
I just stared at her. Had we just gone around the block? No...we had traveled for hours and were some place I didn’t recognize.
“Hey, twit head,” said one of the macho types. “You stay here. Don’t even think about leavin’. Loreen here will take care of you. She likes you, although I don’t know why. ‘Twas her request that saved your ass. Here again, we dunno why . . .for some reason, though, she wants you...She’s the sister of Numero Uno back at Freedom camp.”
Then the trio – I had thought there had been four – staggered out onto the dilapidated wooden porch and stumbled down breaking steps. They scrambled across a wood-chipped, dry grassed, unkempt void to the old beater. They jostled into it, roared up the engine, and ripped forth in a dusty lurch without another word.
After a few seconds, the fortuitous abandonment sank in. Loreen and me. We we’re alone. Over the next hours and days, we loved, slept together, drank, and largely stayed in one another’s arms.
I learned that big-eyed Loreen had “dug me” the minute I had entered “the Snake”. She had pleaded with “Freedom” biggies to take me to her here. She had arrived the day before. The cabin was well stocked, had an old-style iron stove, and a small but seemingly adequate vegetable patch in the weeds. Water pooled in a wooden bucket someone had lugged from a well.
We settled in. I had a thousand questions. Loreen at first deflected ‘em. But eventually I learned that “Freedom folk” had followed me to the Missoula Hotel, and that two of the three were delighted that I had gone to “the Snake,” and that Loreen had cut me from the herd. The third guy -- apparently, Mr. Fatso -- had had eyes for her, but she hadn’t been interested. Instead, she wanted me -- a relative stranger -- by her side for the rest of her days which were projected to be but a few weeks.
She had a terminal disease (cancer) and I was to be her hospice. Gaaa!
Well, delightful days, weeks, and perhaps months went by. We spent hours in golden sun -- sitting on the rickety porch or hoeing the veggie garden. We lollygagged and loved. Later, she endured lots of painful moments. Then -- no doubt in excruciating pain -- she began to fade. I was hard by her side most of the time.
Then the day came. She stopped breathing. She had died in my arms.
I was overcome. I didn’t know what to do first. After a few minutes, I laid her on the bed and then walked 2-3 miles down the steep hill to town. On the edge of it was a country store with a telephone. I called a mortuary in The Dalles.
While at the store, though, I had seen a rack containing The Oregonian, the metropolitan daily in Portland. A Page One story told of a mass shooting in Idaho where federal agents had raided a para-military camp of “white supremists.” A man, a woman (his wife?), and maybe some others had been killed...
At Loreen’s funeral in The Dalles, I had expected to see Grimson, Tottin or some “Freedom”representative. Nobody. I went up to the casket and said goodbye. I was broken-hearted, but I didn’t go to the graveyard. I had a few dollars and my clothes. I boarded a bus for Portland.
A week later -- after phoning a friend – I was despondent on a foot bridge gazing down at some Lloyd Center ice skaters. Then there was somebody at my elbow. ‘Twas the Rev. “Big Al” Albert Lunneson.
“Thanks for calling,” he said. “We’ll have lunch in a minute. But let me say first that I know you’ve been through a terrible couple of years. But you’ll notice that God was with you and that you are okay. You are still young and the world is wide open for you . . . NOW, at last, are you ready to come under care and become a pastor?”
(© 2012 Web Ruble – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)