Thursday, October 22, 2009

Absolved: Chapter One, The Battle of Sipsey Street

SWINDON: Yes. General Burgoyne, if I mistake not. I am glad to have the support of your presence this morning. It is not particularly lively business, hanging this poor devil of a minister.

BURGOYNE: No, sir, it is not. It is making too much of the fellow to execute him: what more could you have done if he had been a member of the Church of England? Martyrdom, sir, is what these people like: it is the only way in which a man can become famous without ability. However, you have committed us to hanging him: and the sooner he is hanged the better. -- The Devil's Disciple, Act III, George Bernard Shaw

Phil Gordon felt old, sick, tired and cranky. Cancer did that to you, but he didn't have to like it. Still, Phil had one more thing to do before crossing the bar and he prayed to the God of Abraham that he would have the time and the strength to do it. He shifted in his recliner, taking in the photographs on the side wall, a life in brief, partially illuminated by the soft glow of the porch light angling in through the windowpane above the front door.

Sitting in the dark, with the pictures shadowed in whole or in part, Phil couldn't see the details. He didn't need to. He knew them by heart.

It was all there -- his grandparents and great grandparents, stiff and formal in the manner of folks born in the 19th Century, his mamma and daddy in their youth. There he was with his parents at the ceremony when he graduated from Basic, and again, standing in the A Shau Valley with his squad, all of them so young and full of bravado. There was his wedding photo with Claire, and the honeymoon picture at Natural Bridge, still another of that sun-dappled afternoon with her at Smith Lake. Then there were those of the kids, still young, ranked by age. There was the time when his oldest son Bobby had competed with him at Camp Perry, and Bobby's graduation from West Point. A pink frame held Sissy in her scrubs during medical school, and from a steel-gray one Johnny smiled out front of his technology company in Huntsville, with Sally at his side and little Phil, Matthew and Gabriel at their feet. Then there was his retirement party at U.S. Pipe, more recent pictures of the grandkids, and the last reunion of his Army unit. It was all there, where he'd come from, where he'd been and where he was going. The dusty frames covered the wall above the sofa, in a room that had seen so much loving, laughter and then, sadness.

Phil took all of them in, those he could see and those he couldn't, closed his eyes and sighed. Well, it was a life. God had been very, very good to him. Still, he resented this last business of cancer breaking him down brick by brick. He knew he could bear it, it wasn't that. The pain, the gradual loss of functions, the bone-deep weariness, all were within his ability to stand.

It had hurt worse when he'd been hit in Vietnam. He'd been more helpless back during his recovery at Walter Reed. And he'd been weary beyond belief humping an M-60 machine-gun up and down the Central Highlands. Cancer came close to leaving him that tired but he didn't think it would be worse given the time he had left. Besides, ever since he'd lost Claire to a drunk driver from Mexico City, he'd been ready to lay down his burdens and go home to join her. He wasn't Job, but he could take it. But he was afraid, he admitted, that he wouldn't have enough left in him to do what now had to be done. It was a duty and he was stuck with it.

"Sometimes you're just stuck with the duty." His daddy had told him that when he was six and he had asked why he, Phillip Sheats Gordon, the youngest of seven sons, had to go out and fetch the firewood on a cold morning in Winston County when his lazy brothers were still snug in bed.

Sometimes you're just stuck with the duty. The Master Sergeant had told him that, too, just before he died on that no-name ridge near the Cambodian border. How long had it been, now? His mind dulled by the pain pill, Phil couldn't do the math. Long time, for sure. Hard to believe. The battalion had been strung out, looking for NVA supply caches when the Nathaniel Victors hit back hard. Under a barrage of mortars, recoilless rifles and RPGs, they overran the leading company. The air-cover was a little bit uncovered at that particular moment, and somebody had to slow down the remorseless sons of Uncle Ho until the battalion got its excrement together.

So, the battalion top-kick, one Master Sergeant Walter McCoy, took over Phil's platoon from the shaky lieutenant who had only been in country two weeks and who still didn't know crap from breakfast. With McCoy's leadership they'd stopped the bastards cold. Of course, it cost them most of the platoon, the still-bewildered lieutenant and Master Sergeant McCoy.

While they were digging in before the fight, McCoy had walked the line making sure the holes were sited properly and the M60s had clear fields of fire. As he walked by, Phil complained to nobody in particular, "Why us?" McCoy, a veteran of three wars and wise in the ways of killing, stopped, looked down at him and replied kindly, "Son, sometimes you're just stuck with the duty."

Phil was thunderstruck that he should hear his own daddy's words repeated back to him there, then, at that place so far from home when all their lives seemed forfeit. It seemed to him an omen, a talisman. It was reassurance that somehow, some way, he would make it out alive. He did. A buck sergeant, Phil was the senior surviving NCO when the NVA finally withdrew, leaving the ridge and the valley below strewn with their dead. When he saw McCoy's body after the fight, Phil sat down beside it and wept. He had never been in a position to be close to the top-kick, but now it seemed as if his own father had been killed.

"Son, sometimes you're just stuck with the duty." Phil could see McCoy's leathered face even now, softness at the edges of its perpetual, hard-set scowl. He could see the wisdom, the love, in his eyes. Phil shook his head, shuddering like a dog throwing off the rain. Enough of memory lane. He was stuck with the duty and he would fight. And he had no doubt he would die and that would be a good thing.

He looked around the battlefield that had been his home, and carefully raised himself out of the recliner. It wouldn't do to fall and break a hip now. Company was coming, and he had to be ready to greet them. He hoped it would be today. He had been scared of the attacking Nathaniel Victors, the whistles and the bugles, the explosions and the screams. With his whole life ahead of him then, he wanted to live. But now, at the end of his life, he wasn't afraid of the thugs who had targeted him. He was only afraid that they wouldn't come.

He had known that that they would get around to him sooner or later. He'd run his mouth too much. He was too political. He'd made his disdain for the thugs and their gang plain enough and now they were going to settle accounts. Frank Grant had met him at the pharmacy last month. The thugs had been asking about him, Frank said. What guns did he own? Did he have any machine-guns? They knew that Phil had held a blaster's license since when he worked in construction after the war. Did he have any explosives? Frank had been Phil's good friend for forty years. Yet when he assured Phil that he had told the thugs nothing, even after they'd turned his shop upside down, Phil wasn't sure. The fear on Frank's face was evident. The fact that he had hung around the drugstore to "accidentally" run into him, rather than calling him or coming over, spoke volumes.

Not that Phil blamed him. The thugs WERE scary, made more so because they operated under color of law. They controlled the justice system. The local cops, the state police, all deferred to the thugs, scared that they too would come under scrutiny and attack. There was no reason to expect a fair trial these days. Juries convicted innocent men and women based on the word of paid informers or friends of the thugs and suborned prosecutors who refused to turn over exculpatory material to the defense, denying that it had ever existed. The rule of law no longer applied. Now it was the rule of man, which is to say, the law of the jungle. Phil smiled at the thought. He had lived by the law of the jungle once and survived. He doubted that any of these young punk thugs had. Be careful what you wish for, you may get it. Phil chuckled. Oh, yes indeed.

It was still dark outside, early morning. That was no protection from the thugs, of course. They liked to do their evil work at night. They thought they owned it. Phil smiled. His sleep patterns had long ago been disrupted by the pangs of the cancer that ate at his vitals, so he often did his sleeping in the daylight anyway.

Phil took three steps over to the sideboard, maneuvering around the coffee table with the surety of a blind man on his own ground. Yet he wasn't blind, not even by the darkness. Above the sideboard hung a framed quotation from John Locke. It was one of his favorites. He could read it with the help of the PVS-14 night vision monocular he wore over his right eye.

“Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience.” ~ John Locke

"Now would be a good time," Phil whispered in prayer.

God heard him.

The PSR1-A seismic intrusion detectors planted in the front yard that he first learned how to use in Vietnam began to crackle loudly through the speaker in the hall. Out back, his black lab Barney began to bark, then stopped with a yelp. The bastards, Phil thought, they always had been big dog killers. Phil instantly pivoted to look with his left eye at the closed circuit TVs he had arranged in a bank in the open closet in the hall. There was another set in the kitchen, a third in his bedroom upstairs, and a fourth in the basement.

Armed and armored black-clad men tiptoed up his front porch. Another bunch stood ready by the back porch. Phil smiled, for two reasons. First, he wasn't going to have to wait to do his duty. And second, the thugs were set up in predictable attack formation (they called it a stack) just like the manual told them to.

He was sure they knew where he was in the house from his thermal signature. What they didn't see was the concrete block and sandbag fighting position he had built in the hall that covered both the front and back doors. As Phil darted into the miniature pillbox and kneeled, the porch lights went out as the power was cut. The TVs and cameras still operated on their batteries. Phil grasped the semi-auto M1918A3 Browning Automatic Rifle in the firing slit with his right hand and found the first button on the electrical control box with the index finger of his left hand.

Wait, he thought, wait . . . The front door burst open. He pushed the button, brought his left hand up to the rifle's handguard and began to fire. The BAR was loaded with 21 armor-piercing rounds, one up the spout and twenty in the magazine. He could have used an M-1 Garand (he had twelve in his collection before he parceled them out to his kids as birthday and Christmas presents), but the BAR had a greater magazine capacity and he knew he had to get this bunch in one sweep. The thugs were all wearing military body armor. It didn't help them much. By the time Phil had emptied the magazine, the entire first stack of the raid party, save one, was dead or dying. Some of the tungsten steel AP handloads had penetrated two thugs at once. Night vision devices splintered, kevlar helmets split, the trauma plates of their body armor were fractured and holed and their illusions of invincibility were swept away along with their sorry lives.

Save for the moans of the dying and the yelps of the wounded punk crab-scuttling away from the porch, it was silent when Phil reloaded, stood and ran to the rear entry window that flanked the back door. The rear stack was splattered all over the flower garden that Claire had planted with such devotion and love, some of them screaming, moaning, moving.

The improvised Claymore mine in the flower pot that he had detonated when the front door flew open had shredded them from the left side, leaving the rear door intact. Body armor and helmets had saved some from instant death. Phil fixed that by shooting through the shattered window, hitting each of them carefully in the head. A growing hail of small arms fire now peppered the front and rear of the house, most of the rounds expending their energies on sandbag and concrete block reinforcements along the walls or on freestanding steel doors positioned to cover the windows. Fire even penetrated the roof, coming from a helicopter which materialized overhead, only to be stopped by a two-ply thickness of military surplus kevlar blankets that Phil had spread out in the attic.

It had taken Phil a whole month to improvise his fort, telling inquisitive neighbors that he was strengthening his gun room in the basement against potential thieves. Since the neighborhood had been going to hell of late, this was entirely believable. The thugs thought I was above my defenses, Phil mused.


OK, Phil thought with satisfaction, their Plan A just dissolved in front of their eyes. Let's see how quickly they start to work on Plan B. There was one piece of unfinished business, however. To the left of where the pictures now hung crazily in splintered frames (those that hung at all) the front windows had been shattered by the bullets of the support detachment, whose ineffective fire had dwindled off to shocked silence.

That thermal imaging device had to be out there. Phil crept up on his hands and knees, staying below or behind the sandbags and doors. Edging up, he peeked out with his AN/PVS-14. The surveillance van was just about where he had envisioned it would be -- just twenty yards down the street on this side. He could see the glow of the thermal imager on the face of the operator through the special glass of the back door. There was a small clot of thugs couched down to the side of the van but not under cover, looking on in unaccustomed horror at the bodies of their dead comrades scattered across Phil's porch and front steps, and at the crawling wounded man who hadn’t yet made it to the sidewalk in front of the house. They did not try to help him.


Phil ducked back, and a half-second later a burst of fire from across the street came through the space his head had occupied. Having determined his next targets, Phil crawled over to the steel door that most directly fronted the window-hole facing the van and changed magazines. From his World War II-vintage BAR belt, he selected three magazines, two from one pocket and one from another. All were loaded with an even mix of armor-piercing and armor-piercing tracer surplus rounds, originally produced to defeat the Germans and the Japanese.

Remember, he told himself, you're after body count as much as the van. When he opened the large, reinforced mail slot in the steel door, his thermal signature was in full view of the thermal operator. It didn't save him, for he died about halfway through the first magazine, just shortly after Phil cut the standing bunch of thugs in half. With the rest of that magazine and the following two, Phil sieved the van, its occupants and equipment, starting high and working low, finally exploding the gas tank with .30-06 rounds intended for Mitsubishis and Focke Wulfes. Phil noted with satisfaction that even though almost seventy years old, they still worked perfectly.

Almost as an afterthought, Phil finished off the crawling thug with the last of his third mag. Rounds from the house across the street impacted the door, and one ricocheted off the mail slot door, causing Phil to flinch. I’ll deal with you later, promised Phil.

As the riddled hulk of the van blazed and rocked with smaller secondary explosions, there were shouts of fear and panic at both ends of Phil's street. The thugs were pulling back to consider Plan B. And as much as he wanted to kill the shooter in Mrs. O’bannion’s house, now Phil had to buy time in back.

When he got to the rear of his house, he saw that some of the reserve thugs were cautiously working their way toward the back door, still thinking he was preoccupied in front. Had they been soldiers, they would have charged when they heard the BAR open up on the van. But they weren't soldiers, they were thugs. And they were surprised. No one had ever stood up to them like this. They were frightened. They were more worried about reaching retirement age than what was happening in front of their faces. So they were slow, they were tentative, and even with the raid commander shouting in their ears through their radio buds, they moved like molasses.

Phil had counted on that. What was it Sun Tsu had said? "Know your enemy and you will fight a hundred battles and have hundred victories." Something like that. Well, Phil had no illusions. He knew this was going to be a pyrrhic victory -- his own personal Alamo -- but so far his study of the enemy had paid off.

He proved it when he grabbed the Claymore clacker by the back window and blew up Claire's garden shed at the back of the property with a thunderous blast (it was just six sticks of dynamite packed in a barrel of ball bearings) that atomized the shed, turned the attackers inside out with the concussion and shrapnel and broke every window facing the alley (and some that weren't) for about a half a block around.

The first blast at the back of the house hadn't registered in Phil's brain, so concentrated had he been on the thugs coming in front door. But he heard this one all right -- heard it and felt it -- the concussion driving some of the air out of his chest and ball bearings and pieces of shed flying through every crack and crevice they could find or create, ricocheting off walls and steel doors.

One ball bearing tore a short groove sideways across his forearm and a long wood splinter stuck in his ass. Knocked back, scrambling, he broke it off, the point still in him. Crazily he thought, oh, well, it won't have time to fester. Ears ringing, gasping, struggling for breath and fighting disorientation, Phil sheltered behind sandbags along the back wall. After a minute, he pulled out a battle dressing from his pants pocket and put it on his bloody arm.

Well, they got me. But then he laughed, realizing that it was really just a self-inflicted, John Kerry kind of wound. But how many have I killed? More than a dozen anyway, maybe two dozen.
Not enough. Not enough by half.

Gotta be more if I'm gonna to make the point so everybody gets it.

OK, time to cloud their vision. Phil low-crawled around the house on the first floor, pulling strings that he had run through eyelets screwed into the hardwood floorboards. The strings pulled loose from rolled-up space blankets installed at the top of every wall in the house. The space blankets, weighting with steel washers sewn at their bottom edges, unrolled to provide full-length protection against being seen by thermal imaging devices (he'd already installed them under the roof the length of the house). Finishing the first floor, and ignoring the ineffectual, random shots from across the street, he ascended the stairs and repeated the move in the equally hardened second floor rooms.

The thugs were hampered, Phil knew, by the narrow spaces between the houses in his neighborhood, which stood in an older part of town. Sooner or later, somebody in the gang's headquarters would suggest burning him out like the FBI did at Waco. But would they burn down a half block of innocent folks' homes just to get to him? Questions would be asked by authorities they did not control. News coverage would broadcast it to the nation. Were they ready for that?

Well, this wasn't going to be a drawn out siege and Phil wasn't going to hurt his neighbors if he could help it. Then he grinned. I've already blown the neighborhood to hell and gone and left dead bodies all over their nice lawns --maybe it's a little late to be worried about that, you think, Phil?

Still, this wasn't going to be a long drawn-out siege. Phil would see to that. He was, in military parlance, inside his enemy's decision-making cycle, and he intended to stay there. He could hear sirens nearby now, and see the reflected emergency lights of vehicles all over the place when he peeked around the barriers in front of the upper windows. The thugs would be gathering at their command vehicle by now, trying to figure out what went so terribly wrong and how they could retrieve their reputations with their fellow gang members by killing Phil Gordon.

OK, so get inside their heads. Everything went to crap, their first teams are dead, they've had to call in help, other gangs maybe. But they want to get this done. They will not pull back. The very top-ranking members of their gang will be huddled together at the command vehicle, trying to fight through their horror and panic and figure out what to do. I can help them decide.

Phil pulled the rope on the folding stairs that led to the attic. Confident that he couldn't be imaged through the space blankets, he made his way over to a fighting position he had built not far back from the eave. Weeks before, working at night, Phil had cut a section out of his roof, pulled it inside and mounted it on a hinged framework, thereby making a hatch in his roof. He did this front and back. The next day, went up on his roof and nailed shingles over the gaps created, telling his neighbors that he had leaks that needed fixing. Now he eased that hatch up part way, propped it up with a stick and took a look up and down his front street. Down at the brightly lit intersection, just where he expected it to be, was the command vehicle, surrounded by armed thugs. Other gang members came and went. While he watched, a second van pulled up, then a tractor trailer. Perfect.

OK, thought Phil, it's a math problem. First let's get a base number. He took the ITT range finder he had prepositioned there and lazed the center of intersection. The readout said 215 meters. Perfect. Just perfect. He brought out a plotting device he had made with a thin sheet of plywood and a magic marker. Setting it up to his right, he picked up a Chinese-clone M14S rifle with a loaded magazine. On the end of it, Phil had mounted an M76 grenade launching attachment. Twenty improvised fragmentation rifle grenades lay in a rack made from a large surplus metal 20mm ammo can built high into the position's sandbags. He had crafted them right after he heard he was on the gang's list. If they were going to treat him as no better than a terrorist, he might as well act like one -- within limits. Holding a rope that he had installed to the hatch's leading edge, Phil used the stick to push up the roof section until it began to swing down from the gravity. Using the rope he eased the hatch down until it was fully open resting on the roof.

Slowly rising, he peeked again from the perspective of where he would hold the rifle's muzzle. Estimating the angle from one side of the large target to the other, he took two white cloth tapes with a thumbtack on one end and a washer weight on the other and stuck the thumbtacks into the pine of the roof. These would be his aiming stakes. Dropping back into his sandbag cocoon, Phil rested the butt of the M14 on the attic flooring, and fitted a rifle grenade on the launcher. The chamber was loaded with a grenade blank, and the magazine held nineteen more. Twenty grenades. Twenty cartridges. Phil knew he would only be able to get away with this once, so there was no point in worrying about a second fire mission. He would be lucky to get all twenty off before he was killed.

Holding the rifle at the angle prescribed by the plywood plotting device, he flicked off the safety with his index finger. Aiming with the left hand tape as his guide, he took a breath, let it out, and pulled the trigger. With a "whoommpf" the rifle grenade was gone. Phil fell into the rhythm of killing: his right hand cycled the operating rod, and ejected the spent grenade cartridge. He let the slide go and the next cartridge was loaded. Shifting the right hand to the rifle's rear grip, he grabbed a grenade with his left and brought the projectile down onto the launcher, seating it firmly. His left hand went back to the forearm of the M14. He shifted the rifle, using the right tape as a guide for aim and the plywood for range. He had three rounds gone before the first one landed. Using the tapes and the plywood, moving the muzzle randomly down and up, side to side, Phil hammered the intersection.

Looking from across the street, the gang snipers could not at first figure out what was happening. Had he somehow gotten out of the house to directly engage the bosses? Then one spotted the faint blip of the last grains of burning powder that could be seen above the roof line. They began to fire, plastering the roof with small arms fire that became a general engagement.

Behind his sandbags and steel, Phil continued to launch the grenades. By the time he got to ten, all three vehicles were afire and the intersection was littered with bodies while sparks fell on them from a mortally wounded transformer high up a power pole. Eleven, twelve, thirteen. The roof was being eroded above him, around him, swept away by a leaden storm. Fourteen. Fifteen.

From down the street, a thug fired the heaviest weapon that the gang owned, an M203 grenade launcher. He had not been trained to use it, so the first round passed over the house and detonated far down on the next street, killing a cop directing traffic. Because the house was not hit, Phil didn't notice it.

Sixteen. Seventeen.

He noticed the second 40mm round though. In fact, it killed him.

But Phil Gordon didn't mind.

He'd done his duty.

He was home with Claire and he got to meet his Maker, his Savior. Absolving, he was absolved.

The gang never did get his guns though. When they tried to force the gun safe open in the light of day, it blew up, killing every agent within fifty yards of the place. In future, the gang resolved, they would never, ever, pick on somebody who had nothing to lose. In this resolution, they were to prove less than successful.

In Phil Gordon's pocket, they found a folded up piece of paper that, in part, said this: "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and provide new Guards for their future security." Across the bottom of the paper, Phil Gordon had scrawled a phrase in Greek: "Molon Labe."

Carl Elliott turned off the television. He'd seen more than enough. His client, his life-long friend, Phil Gordon was dead and he had taken at least 52 agents of the federal government with him. My God, what a slaughter. If old Phil's intention had been to make a statement he'd certainly done that. Of course the feds and their talking heads were already spinning the facts of their raid. The ATF statements in particular described Phil in terms that were nothing less than bald-faced lies. Carl looked at the envelope on his desk one more time. It had been stuffed in the mail slot in his office door when he arrived on Monday. It was Phil Gordon's valediction, he knew. He did not want to open it.

At the same time, Kraut Mueller was opening a similar envelope in a safe house outside Oneonta, Alabama. He cursed his rotten luck. The federal operational security about the move against Phil Gordon had been just about perfect. Kraut smiled grimly. From the federal body count, it looked like that was about the only thing that had from their point of view. Still, there was no chance to go to Phil's aid or to get Kraut's militia unit on the Fed's backs before the whole thing was over.

Now, he held Phil's instructions to him in his hands and after reading them a second time he shook his head in grief and frustration. In the note that accompanied the DVD, Phil commanded him to do nothing in retribution. Nothing. "This is on me and me alone," Phil had written. "Exploit this politically. If this works the way I think it will, I'll shock them down to their short and curlies. I've made an affidavit of the facts that led up to this and given it along with supporting documents to my lawyer, Carl Elliott. I've also made a statement on video and made a hundred copies. You've got one, Elliott has one and the other 98 are in a small duffel bag in a storage locker in Jasper. The key and the address are in the small brown envelope. Elliott also has a copy. Whichever of you gets there first, take the DVDs and mail them from at least ten different post offices. They are addressed to my family, my gunnie friends and the news media. Don't go to guns just yet. It's like you always said, 'No Fort Sumters.' Watch and wait and let this develop. Good Luck, Phil."

So, what do I do? My guys are raging to strike back NOW. Hell, I want to strike back now. He was still thinking that when he popped the DVD in the player.

"My name is Phil Gordon, and if you are watching this I am dead at the hands of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. They will tell you that I am, that I was, a crazy gun felon, and that they began investigating me because I possessed illegal weapons and was a threat to the community. None of this is true. I have served my country, and lived all my life according to its laws, including those I didn't agree with because I felt they were unconstitutional. Despite this, the ATF has apparently decided to target me for my opinions. I have made no secret of my disdain for this agency, the unlawful way they conduct their business, the way they ruin the lives of citizens, framing and railroading them in corrupt federal courts. I am especially disgusted by the way they reward illegal behavior on the part of their agents, including the perjury before Congress of the present regional director of the ATF who sits in Nashville, Tennessee.

I have written many letters to the editor and to my congressman and senators over the years on these topics, and I believe that this is why they have decided to shut me up. I guess the First Amendment means as little to them as the Second. But the reason you're watching this is that shortly after they opened their investigation of me, a friend told me that I had been targeted. This gave me a choice. I am old, I have terminal cancer and my beloved wife Claire passed away last year. Although I would like to live longer to spend time with my wonderful sons and daughter and my precious grandchildren, I do not want their last memories of me to be from behind bars and armored glass at a federal prison. And if you wonder now why I did what I did, it's because no one, not me and not you, can count on a fair trial in the federal courts today. Numerous recent cases have proven that. So if I can't get a fair trial and I don't want to go to federal prison, I might as well fight it out on my doorstep when they come to get me.

They will call me a terrorist and a threat to the community. But THEY came to MY door. I did not threaten them, I did not target them for their unlawful behavior, nor have I ever threatened any of neighbors or fellow citizens. If I am dead it is because I merely defended myself. Despite their federal badges, the ATF is a gang operating under the color of law. If I am lucky and God grants my prayers, I will take a goodly number of these federal gangbangers with me when I go. Some of them will die in explosions and from improvised munitions. They will point to this as evidence of my law breaking. But the fact of the matter is that I hold a blaster's license and may lawfully use explosives. Most of this material was purchased by me the day after I was informed I was an ATF target, and I have turned over the receipts and other supporting documentation to my attorney as proof of my statement. If I have used these explosives in unconventional ways to defend my life and my property, it was only because I knew that they would come for me in overwhelming force, totally unconcerned if they took me alive or not. I merely returned the favor."

Phil shifted in his chair, and Kraut noticed for the first time that he had set up the camera in the basement of his Sipsey Street home. You could just barely see the corner of his gun safe in the image's right background.

"There's something that happens to you when you realize that a portion of the federal government wants you dead, and part of it is that you cease to care about the laws that they use to oppress you. I'm sure my neighbors are looking at their broken windows right now and blaming me. I guess that's fair. I am sorry for any damages they have suffered, but please understand that I didn't invite these thugs to our neighborhood."

Phil's face took on a harder look and he stared straight into the camera.

"To the American people I would like to say this. We do not have the government we deserve, but we do have the government we tolerate. We have tolerated the tyranny of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for far too long. They only came to my house to kill me because YOU let them think they could get away with it. And if you don't arouse yourselves from your long sleep with this wake-up call that I provide you with my death, they will one day be at your doors too. What will you do then?

To my gun-owning friends I would ask this: Don't let your emotions get the better of you. Let my death and the deaths of the ATF agents I take with me be enough for now. Let the administration explain why they felt it necessary to attack me. Let the government explain that to the widows and orphans of the agents who are dead by my hand in legitimate self defense. This did not have to happen. Let them explain that to the country and the world. And if I am wrong and they don't take this opportunity to reconsider their actions, there will always be another time. But if those of you who know me, and who know that I am telling the truth, wish to honor my memory, honor my wishes too. Don't take another life for mine. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Watch, and wait. Perhaps the administration will come to its senses. If not, as Locke says, you will be absolved by their further law-breaking of any duty to obey them. Then you can start shooting back. But not now. Not now."

Phil sighed.

"To my children, Bobby, Johnny and Sissy, I can only say that I love you and your children, my grandbabies, with all my heart. I am sorry that I have had to do this, and I know that you will suffer from the notoriety and the press madness that defending myself will generate. If the ATF gave me any other choice, I would have taken it. But they didn't. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. Your mother and I will be waiting for you in Heaven. Goodbye for now."

Phil Gordon gave a slow, sad smile. His eyes glistened with tears.

The screen went black.

Kraut Mueller was crying too. OK, Phil, we'll wait. You've given me the tool to stop the boys for now. "But for how long?" he asked aloud. "For how long?" The question echoed in the room. And no one, not God nor Phil Gordon, answered.


Mike III said...

Thank you, Patriot. And thank you for telling the truth daily.

As your writing shows, ours is a defensive position. I say this often to my friends. This is the way it must be for a change to be effected. Even at the loss of life.

Aggressive attacks against The Constitution and our rights will continue. The Federal snowball that will eventually melt in a hell of it's own creation is not slowing down.

Thus we continue to prepare and train.

There is a way forward through defensive example. Should that example not be enough, other examples will follow.

There is much to do. I pray the God allows the time necessary.

Mike III

Cederq said...

This is one book I am going to read, if what you have written is 10% real, and 90% fiction, it is a clarion call to those of us who really cherish our God Given Rights to life! I too cried at the end, powerful stuff, my wife doesn't mind the tear or two, it shows her I am passinoate and care what happens to us all!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Please publish soon, I have a spot right next to Unintended Consequences just waiting to be filled.

Carl said...

Great work. Can't wait for the complete book. I don't have an empty spot in my book shelves, so I'm buying a new one where Absolved will have a place of prominence.

Brock Townsend said...

Wonderful. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

God bless you, sir. I'm sure you'll let us know when we can pre order.

Ahab said...

My Dear Mike,

Namesake of my father, I have read many works of a similar nature, those on the side of government and those against. Those who choose government to exhalt always do so under the best of terms and examples, and then castigate and demonizing those who view government as the problem. Americans who disagree with our government are not always demonized, it is true; however, this process of diminishing one's opponents with equivocations, outright lies, and subterfuge has increased in the last three decades to the point where a government established of, by, and for the people has apparently declared war on "we the people."

I understand, indeed, that what you've written is a fictional account; however, it is far from fantasy. The likelihood a scenario like you've presented would come to pass is extremely high. The hero here, Phil Gordon, has nothing left to lose, his life is forfeit to cancer, his spouse deceased and his family dispersed as is normal. Nothing left to lose except his dignity and his life, and he will not take another step backward. There are more agencies that are thuggish in our government now than ever before, not just the ATF. How about the IRS? Are they not just as destructive of Americans and our prosperity as is the ATF destructive of our God given rights to life itself?

The First Law of Nature is "self preservation." The Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights to U.S. Constitution is the guarantor of all the other rights espoused to in the bill. Shall we permit our government to nullify the First Law of Nature and eliminate our rights to self defense? I think not. How will we resist further the government's attempts to disarm America? Shall we wait for the thugs to come for us one at a time, imprison us at the least, kill us at the most, as with your Phil Gordon; or, shall we rise up as one and revolt against their tyranny? What shall trigger this uprising? Will it be a "Phil Gordon" like incident, a series of such incidents that finally pushes us over the edge?

Another consideration is our Armed Forces. Will this administration hesitate to turn the might of our military against Americans? I don't think so! A poster on Red, a retired combat LTC, insists the OathKeepers are looney tunes. Whether he is right, or wrong, is of no consequence; however, he insists the U.S. Army will follow their orders, they will fire, and I concur. Not enough of our servicemen and women even know what the Constitution says, let alone will stop to think about whether an order is lawful. You know what the outcome will be, in that case. Our sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, and neighbors will fire when ordered. If it begins and the military is called, there will be casualties uncounted on both sides before it is over?

What will other nations do while Americans are in the throes of another civil war? Will they, seeing critical weakness, attack our nation's interests and holdings with impunity? Who will stand for America during a bloody revolution within? Our Armed Forces? Will there be anyone watching outward from the porch while a bloody conflict rages inside?

There is no question that this Congress and this administration need replaced, en masse! If we rebell against them outside the ballot box, and we are successful, they will be hung from lamp posts up and down Constitution Avenue, which is proper for the wrongs they've committed against the people; but, who will guarantee we can roll back all the damage they've done, restore America to the Constitutional Republic that was founded with the signing in 1787? Will there be an America left when the blood stops running?

Happy D said...

Oddly enough I reread it last night. I came here today and spotted it so I reread it again. I enjoy it every time. So I count it as a good use of my time. Thank you Mike.

drjim said...


III more than them said...


Sipsey Street

Patriots first; subjects never

The poor bastards have us surrounded...

More than that, I'm speechless...

Anonymous said...

Powerful writing,

When published in book form, count on my order of 6 copies.

straightarrow said...

Ahab, not all our servicemen and women will follow orders if they are to wage war against civilian America. As odd as this sounds, I believe those most likely to refuse illegal orders are the "lifers". Those who have been in for much time are more mature than recent recruits and most it seems have decided to learn what the constitution says and what their oath means. This is in marked contrast to the young enlistees straight out of public education who have no grounding in the principles of the republic, and are thus more likely to be in awe of their superiors and prone to follow orders they do not even know are illegal.

But here again, many of these latter will be under the command of officers who do know what illegal orders are. So it ain't all bad. Not to say there aren't a lot who will follow orders, but not nearly all.

From my own experience, my son just retired as a Major, he was a mustang, he was enlisted until the point where he would have had too much age in grade to become a second Lt. if he turned down that last request that he attend OCS.

Early on, we had this discussion and he said he would have to follow the orders of his superior officers, assuming they had more knowledge of the situation than he.

I told him it would be a shame if I had to shoot him if he attacked civilians on illegal orders. I also assured him that I loved him, but I would be on the other side and would grant no quarter.

Anyway, his attitude has changed completely. I asked why in light of our earlier opposing views. He said I convinced him that he needed to know what his oath meant and so he studied the constitution and the oath he took to it. He is now one of the constitution's most ardent adherents. So, I must assume that maturation is likely to have been more the cause of his enlightenment than I was, and further, I believe we will find that to be the case many times over should the SHTF.

straightarrow said...

Ahab, not all our servicemen and women will follow orders if they are to wage war against civilian America. As odd as this sounds, I believe those most likely to refuse illegal orders are the "lifers". Those who have been in for much time are more mature than recent recruits and most it seems have decided to learn what the constitution says and what their oath means. This is in marked contrast to the young enlistees straight out of public education who have no grounding in the principles of the republic, and are thus more likely to be in awe of their superiors and prone to follow orders they do not even know are illegal.

But here again, many of these latter will be under the command of officers who do know what illegal orders are. So it ain't all bad. Not to say there aren't a lot who will follow orders, but not nearly all.

From my own experience, my son just retired as a Major, he was a mustang, he was enlisted until the point where he would have had too much age in grade to become a second Lt. if he turned down that last request that he attend OCS.

Early on, we had this discussion and he said he would have to follow the orders of his superior officers, assuming they had more knowledge of the situation than he.

I told him it would be a shame if I had to shoot him if he attacked civilians on illegal orders. I also assured him that I loved him, but I would be on the other side and would grant no quarter.

Anyway, his attitude has changed completely. I asked why in light of our earlier opposing views. He said I convinced him that he nethan I was, and further, I believe eded to know what his oath meant and so he studied the constitution and the oath he took to it. He is now one of the constitution's most ardent adherents. So, I must assume that maturation is likely to have been more the cause of his enlightenment we will find that to be the case many times over should the SHTF.

Anonymous said...

I was recently talking to a former Ranger and he strongly avowed that through training on how to treat civilians and the very strong beliefs, that the 70-80% of the true oath keepers would turn and fire on the non-believers if they dared to raise a rifle to armed civilians.
One thing bothers me though. I haven't read Chairman Mao's Little Red Book, but I've been told some of it from someone who had in 1965 at War College. The collectivists/Marxists/Commies will never give up. That was Mao's way, "keep the end goal in sight, never admit defeat". If you'll notice the gun-grabbers, for an example, they just keep coming. They may lose that battle or had "to make a strategic retreat" or comprise to very little, but they always keep coming back. The only way to win and stay won is to totally whip them into nothing, then destroy any sign of resurgence or complaciency will set in amongst us again and it will be to do all over again sometime in the future. Think of the Brady bunch and the ACLU, they always keep coming and are always on the attack.

Ahab said...

Straight Arrow, I fervently pray you are right. I'd feel really badly about having to shoot American servicemen/women in self defense; but, make no mistake, I WILL shoot. I'm a 30 year veteran of the U.S. Navy, have sworn the oath many times, consider the U.S. Constitution to be a holy document, and I will not take another step backward. Take note, you statists: a lifetime of service to the nation has honed this fighting man into a weapon that yes, you really should fear.

Whoever said that attempts by Marxist and leftist liberals in our government and those behind them to subjugate the American people do so at their own peril knew whereof he spoke. Always, I cautioned restraint, but no longer. It's past the time for restraint. It's now the time to start manufacturing home made claymores. The gun grabbers never stop, nor will I and many, many, others like me.

Yup, I'm a "threeper," and what's even better is that we outnumber them by an order of magnitude. We are veterans, trained in the use of tactics and weapons. Even simple arithmetic should make them aware that 9,000,000 armed and angry citizens aren't to be trifled with lightly. Those of us that have seen the carnage up close have a deep and abiding respect for human life, yet we went in harms way willingly. Not a lot of libs in the bunch of men I served with. They libs were well hidden, protected by us.

Do they think we will simply roll over and idly watch as they destroy this finest example of excellence in history? When push comes to shove, they have no idea what's in store for them; because, if they did, they wouldn't be so cavalier in their disdain of "oathkeepers" and "three percenters."

Anonymous said...

This is great writing. Made me seek out chapter two, and when I found it, I realized why I'd stopped reading before.

In "Interposition" you muddy the ideological waters pretty significantly, by seemingly defining your side as fundamentalist christians and the other side as, essentially, NAMBLA members. You talk about liberty (in the privacy of your own home) but it really comes off like republican propaganda-- and I don't for a second believe that republicans support freedom.

Becoming a libertarian is a process, and I don't know when that chapter was written or where you were in the process at the time-- or now for that matter.

IF I were the one writing it, this chapter would probably be the hardest . Action is much easier, while philosophy and ideology are a difficult to be clear on.

I see the ideological division in this country as being between americans and statists. Americans believe in capitalism, individual liberty and choice, and while americans come in all shapes and sizes and stripes, what makes them american is recognizing that it is nobodies business what another american is doing. Americans believe the initiation of force is immoral. Thus they have a clear understanding of what is a crime (rape, murder, theft, etc.) and what is not (doing drugs having guns, being gay, reading pornography, etc.).

But the dominant political ideology in this country is not american. It is tyrannical. And this goes for "both" parties. They believe in central planning, and accept as a fundamental principle that all "citizens" are subjects of the state. They believe the state has a role in every aspect of business and personal life-- from giving out marriage licenses (and denying them based on arbitrary criteria) to regulating medicine and fighting a war on people who choose politically incorrect drugs-- to total regulation of the economy.

Central planning for both our lives and the economy is not a coincidence-- its an ideology. It is contrary to the principle upon which the American experiment was founded and thus is un-American.

Americans believe in freedom, and freedom is the power to make a million choices that aren't dictated by the state, any particular religion etc. Freedom is the power to choose what's best for you based on your own values.

That's the ideological distinction I see. If you see it as well, then I respectfully suggest that "Interposition" would greatly benefit from some reworking.

Hopefully this doesn't offend, it's meant constructively.

Best wishes-

- a fan

Jim said...

Many soldiers have told me that for every Oathkeeper/3 percenter, there are 20 right behind them but for opsec and career motives, they remain silent. For everyone who fires on the people, there are those in their units who will rain hell down on them. Why, because the killers are killing somebody's family.

It will be those 260,000 NATO troops and vehicles I believe that will beginj it under cover of stopping all the rioting--an inevitable result from the Government's policies designed to starve most os to death.

The top brass don't count. How many of you watched them fly over a firefight while getting their CIB and other tickets punched on the climb up the ladder. Do yourselves a favor; research how many of our generals/politicians/nsa directors have accepted Knighthood from the queen of England. You will be stunned. Then read the Oath they swore to royalty.

freeman lomax said...

Awesome story bro'