“The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.” – Kurt Cobain
On December 7, 2010, Elizabeth Edwards lost her battle with metastatic breast cancer. For 37 years she had been a faithful wife to Senator John Edwards and a loving mother to his children. She had devoted her life in support of his ambitions, even when he decided to run a long-shot, invasive national campaign for the presidency. For 37 years Mrs. Edwards stood by his side. Waving to crowds, cooking his meals, raising his children, even while she waged a battle to defeat the cancer that had taken over her body. But the senator was ungrateful, self-centered or maybe incapable of shielding his lust, so while Mrs. Edwards stood beside him in public, he satisfied his libido in someone else’s bed. By all the strength that God gives me, I hope when Mrs. Edwards died she was at peace. I hope she no longer hated John or his mistress or their bastard child. I hope she knew not to take it personally. Few men have the ability to live a life free of sin. Sin is the ugly part of our nature, that lives strong and free. Honor is not natural and has to be achieved and fought for with every ounce of our god-given inner strength. While ugly thrives inside us, it is beauty that died with the beast.
THE ENEMY UNCOVERED
written & edited by Kendall F. Person
Marion Todd screamed again. Louder this time, knowing that this was it. She should have anticipated an early labor from the very start Her child had been conceived by a slickster, and would come into this world out of wedlock, so no surprise that the child would force his own way out. She was on her knees and tried to stand, but another swift kick, this one much harder, caused another scream and forced her all the way down.
Tomas was starving. He had no way to keep track of time, but was pretty sure he had not eaten in a couple of days. The old beggar man was nice to him. Did the best that he could. But Tomas missed his family. Missed the warmth of the home and the laughter of the children, but most of all, he missed how well they fed him and how much they loved him. It was a reminder of that love that made Tomas react first. No longer waiting for his morning meal, he started barking wildly, running in circles at first. But he realized the woman was in trouble, and then darted in her direction, to save the damsel in distress.
Both cops were now in full alert, but for two different reasons. The cop who had heard the screams first, was looking straight ahead, at the woman now on her knees. The cop who had been stirring his tea, heard the screams too, but his attention had been diverted by the dancing boy and the well-dressed man. The clear day had suddenly become hazy, the light rain was falling much heavier now, and his old prescription glasses, only added to his uncertainty. It looked like the dancing boy, had a gun to the head of the well-dressed man and had forced him back onto the bus.
On February 2, 1996, Barry Dale Loukaitis, a 14-year-old student at Frontier Middle School in Moses Lake Washington, had finally reached his wits end. Bullied at school for wearing glasses and distressed at home by a father who left him with a suicidal mother – Barry – who should have been thinking of girls and cartoons, instead loaded himself down with a 30-30 hunting rifle, a .357 revolver and a .25 semiautomatic handgun, walked onto the campus normally filled with love, straight into his math class, which apparently he hated most, and started an American trend, that no one saw coming. Barry Dale Laukaitis only 14-years old, led the way in mass shootings, when he unleashed a hail of gunfire on a small town, upon innocent victims, to a nation that thought it was above such homegrown violence.
The dancing boy heard the screams, saw the patrol car, then panicked. The paranoia passed down from his mother, had begun to infiltrate his young mind. At school he thought everyone laughed at him. And while his parents arguments were loud and often vicious, they were never about him. Yet the delusions had overtaken him, no longer giving his mind a rest. He would put an end to his misery, but first he would blow them all to hell.
With the convincing end of the revolver pointed to the back of his head, Jason Tony did what he was told and re-boarded bus number 34. The dancing boy, who was no longer dancing, flashed the gun to the driver, then ordered him to lock the bus down, before stampeding the two men and five women toward the back end of the bus. The bullets were meant for his classmates at school, but the police had thwarted that plan. But spiteful classmates or total strangers, it no longer mattered to the delusional. They were all guilty of causing him pain.
Four of the five women were now screaming and believing they would soon wake up from this dream. But the fifth had her mind focused on Jason Tony, the man who had made such beautiful love, then abandoned her even before she had awaken. Nor did he offer enough respect to treat her like a working girl, by leaving money on the nightstand. Bridgette, her name, would have been offended, but it would have been a much better feeling, than to be treated like a whore. And to discover, unceremoniously, that Jason Tony, the best lover she had ever had, was the town gigolo, and maybe even the father of Marion Todd’s unborn child, was the straw that broke the camels back.
Bridgette barely noticed the gun in the young boy’s hand or how hard the rain was falling from the sky. All she saw was that son-of-a-bitch, who had robbed her of love and stripped her of pride. When reality set in, that the bus was being overtaken, she rose with the other panicked women and did as the armed boy demanded. But while moving to the rear of the bus, she turned her head and looked straight into Jason’s eyes. Jason noticed the look immediately, it was a scorned woman, and now he was trapped on a bus with the two of them inside.
Jason Tony could not believe his luck. Or was it bad karma that demanded its payback. A gun to his head, a scorn lover on the bus and with a chance to see the other side of the street, he realized the screaming was coming from the only woman – of the hundreds he had bedded – that left him with regret. He was ashamed of what he had done to this no longer innocent girl. He violated her without thinking, and left her while she slept, now he saw her on the street, overcome with pain and about to give birth. The winds had doubled down and the rain was drowning the midtown streets. He thought back to when he met her. It was not difficult since she was the only woman to ever touch his heart. Shame turned to grief and grief turned to pride, as he realized the only woman he could ever love, was carrying his child.
The cop on the radio called for backup, for what he was unsure. He thought an ambulance was all that was needed, but his partner had been on the force longer, so he followed his commands, although they were of equal rank.
The beggar man reacted next. He followed Tomas to the woman’s side, not knowing what he would do, but knew he had to do something. The man was not always a beggar. Once a soldier, he fought proudly for the American people, serving three tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, without registering a single complaint. Other than his limp, which he received by friendly fire, he escaped physically unharmed, but his mental state would never be free. The government would not help him. His wife could not support him. His children had become afraid him, refusing his visits, nor allowing him to ever come home. So he took to the streets, found Tomas wondering cold, hungry and alone, and now the two of them, inseparable, giving hope and sharing love.
Marion screamed again. She was in such agony. The baby had finally stopped kicking. Instead, he rotated within the womb. Aligning his head with the only exit, the baby inside of her was intent on finding his own way out. Finally, she felt comforted by a small dog licking her face and the rough hands of the old beggar man, stroking her hair and doing his best to shield her from the onslaught of rain. The cop on the drivers’ side, sprung into action. He jumped out of the patrol car, landing on his two feet. He darted across the street to the pregnant woman, just as he could hear the sirens make their way to this street.
“It’s going to be okay, Mam. An ambulance is on the way.” Marion felt comforted by his words and although she would have preferred to be in the comfort of a hospital, she was still proud to be giving birth. The young cop acknowledged the beggar man, with a respectful nod of the head. The beggar man and Tomas returned the respect but kept their attention on the young woman and mother-to-be. The young, unmarried officer, sat down on the saturated ground beneath her, placed Marion’s head in his lap, with the old beggar man shielding the rain with his worn and haggard coat, and with the small dog licking her face, Marion felt safe. She felt loved and she prayed to God that the bitterness of the man who left her would abate. She wanted to shower her child with the love, and to do so, she would have to forgive the only man she ever would hate.
The cop, the one that was behind the wheel, no longer waited for backup. He departed his vehicle, pulled out his service gun and held out in front of him. He approached the bus, looking through the windows. The rains had gotten so heavy, it was difficult to see, but on his radio he noted the position of the gunman, and the hostages inside. The lieutenant on the radio ordered him to stand down, for seasoned pros where on the way. But the sergeant refused the command, and not for a sense of glory, he was simply not that type, but out of commitment he made to protect, he refused to do nothing and risk the lives of those he had sworn to serve.
The boy, now completely delusional, had no plan for this fluid situation. But giving up, was one option he would not take. He thought there would be enough time to take down a few classmates, before turning the gun on himself. But he had prepared for an alternative in case the revolver got stuck or was knocked from his hands. Using the Internet as a guide, he built a small ticking time bomb which was fastened to a vest he wore over his chest. He saw the cop outside the window and knew more were within realm. The bus’ occupants were facing and staring at him. Revolver out in front, he chose at random the first innocent victim, to meet his little friends.
“Shots fired! Shots fired! I need back up on the corner of 27th & T. And where is the fuckin ambulance?! There’s a pregnant woman in labor for crying out loud. And where the fuckin hell did this rain come from?!” As he circled the bus, the officer knew that he was out of his league. The scene had gone from bad to worse, but once he saw an angle, he had to take the shot. He prayed that the bullet would hit the gunman or at least not make him mad.
On October 12, 2002, a bomb exploded in the tourist district of Kuta, taking the lives of 202 people on the beautiful island of Bali in the kingdom of Indonesia. Years later, various members of Jemaah, a violent Islamist group, would be brought to justice. A certain victory for the war on terror, but it did nothing for the dead.
Bullet from boy, straight in the head of bus driver. Bus driver fall down, lifeless body, now dead. Blood splatters screaming women one through four. Jason Tony looks out window, no longer caring about anything more. Bridgette, now lost inside, only scorn had come over her, and only revenge did she wish to seek. Bullet from cop, shatters glass then soars passed boy with gun. Gunman panics, reaches underneath his jacket with both hands and unhooks the vest, allowing bomb to drop down. Boy drops gun, throws arms in air, walks off bus to the cadence of officers, who were now everywhere. Shooter in custody, four women scamper toward, then out of the bus’ open door. Rain outside batters streets, causing delays in the arriving backup. Marion Todd alive and well. The cop, the beggar man and Tomas made sure of that. Ambulance arrives, workers inside, jump out and attend to the scene.
Jason Tony looks out the window, wanting so desperately to run to her side. But what would he say to the sweet, beautiful woman, after abandoning her side. What type of father could he be. He had lived a life so full of depravity, that he could not envision, no matter how hard he tried of attending soccer games and throwing a baseball with his son outside. A slap to the face brought him out of his trance. “How could you do that to me! You told me you loved me!” Turning around, he looked at her frown, wondered what empty promises he had made to this one, for at the moment, he could not even remember this fucking bitch’s face.
The cop on the ground ushered the women to safety. Dispatch had come back with more tales of gloom. A woman called in, to tell of her son and his plan, and now the sergeant knew there was nothing more he could do. Midtown, swarming with lights. Sharp shooters on roof tops, bomb squads in site. Marion was placed in the ambulance, her tiny son wrapped in a warm blanket, cop inside with her, now safely out of harms way. The street looked like a war zone, and the old veteran soldier had had enough of war. So he and Tomas strolled away, fighting the punishing wind now strong at their back. In a short distance, measured by a few city blocks, they found shelter underneath a dry overpass. The veteran soldier opened up the bag of dog food, allowing Tomas to finally eat. He sat on the dry concrete and sipped his cold
The pipe bomb was amateurish, as it was the boy’s first attempt. While it was incapable of doing widespread damage, it was enough to blow the rear end of the bus and its three remaining occupants –sky high. The dancing boy, no longer danced. Arms handcuffed behind his back, he was now a suspect in a shooting spree, and forever a terrorist. But the enemy he was not.
THE ENEMY a short story story written & edited by Kendall F. Person