Not Dead in the Heart of Dixie (10 page)

BOOK: Not Dead in the Heart of Dixie
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Mick was itchy about leaving him here, but I told him that Pop would sit in that recliner with one of the meanest-looking weapons he has and guard him like an escaped felon. Guarding him was easy, he slept for six hours after taking that pain pill. Pop probably got a little shut-eye himself, but he'll never admit it.

Mick and Pop went bac
k to town for the diesel tanker and it was gone, so they came straight back and helped me load up the Jeep with the backpacks, weapons, a crow bar, and a bolt cutter in case we needed to pry open a door or cut a lock.

Mick drove the S10 and Jason drove t
he Jeep. Marisa rode with Jason and I rode with Mick so there would be a "man" in each vehicle (snort). We ate our muffins on the way to town.

When he climbed into the S10 this m
orning, Mick found a nice shiny Benelli M4 12 gauge shotgun leaning against the steering wheel.

In the driver
’s seat was a full box of "Benelli feed." Mick looked back toward the house and saw Pop watching from the open door. He waved, and Pop waved back. Mick climbed in the truck with new determination. His ears were red and his eyes looked a little misty but other than that, he was his same old cheery self (snort).

Carisa and the
kids went out to the motorhome to stay with Nana and play board games and listen to tales about the good old days. They had hot dogs and mac 'n cheese for lunch, and they had ours waiting when we got back from lootin'. That meal used up the last of my hotdog buns from the freezer.

We got a lot of stuff we needed, and a couple things we didn't. I'll write more about the lootin' trip after supper. Right now, we need to unload the trucks.
See ya later.

 

1:15 PM...

Jeremy was just waking up when we walked in the house. Mick sent Pop over to the motorhome so he could eat his own mac 'n cheese, and I gave Jeremy some saltine crackers and ginger ale to keep his stomach steady while we were eating the good stuff.

The expression on his face was that of a skinny dog at a butcher shop window when he saw us gobbling down our mac 'n cheese, but he needs a bland diet for a day or two and I mean to hold him to it. We took our plates to the kitchen so we wouldn't torture him any more than we already had. He’ll us his story after we get the trucks unloaded.

Pop kept the fire stok
ed while we were gone, and it felt wonderful in the living room. I have a full tummy, a warm room, and I'm tired. I want a nap and don't wanna go back out and help unload, but I know that I have to. We need to get everything under cover and out of sight.

Jerem
y told us he'd help unload. We laughed our rear ends off when he stood up, swayed, and plopped right back down on the couch. It's weird to look at that swollen up eye while trying to talk to him. I almost feel like I'm talking to a pirate, arrrgh

 

4:00 PM...

There's a big pot of pinto beans on the top of Nana's motorhome stove. There's a quart jar's worth of ham chunks that I canned la
st year in the pinto beans. When they get closer to being done, she'll put on a pot of rice to go with them. I think I over did it a little when I was prepping pinto beans and rice, I have about 400 lbs of each. Nana's making cornbread muffins and we'll have all that for supper along with a sliced raw onion, of course!

Jason and Marisa are at
Caleb’s house, working on the kitchen. Carisa and the kids are sitting in the living room with Mick, getting to know Jeremy better. The trucks are unloaded and loot is stacked all over the place. I should be putting it away but my back is hurting and I don't wanna make it any worse.

I have a couple hours to spare so I thought I'd pop in here and type out Jeremy's story. I'll do the lootin' run story after supper, closer to bed time.

 

Jeremy and his friends were taken
from a fast food place around lunch time, two days after Christmas.

He was taken by the National Guard. They took everyone in the place who was over the age of
fourteen and under the age of thirty which included just about the entire crew of cashiers and cooks working in the kitchen. They left any customer who was there with children.

They herded everyone into the parking lot of the mall behind the fast food joint, took their cell phones, and told them to stay put until it was time to go.

Jeremy says there were about 75 people from all the different restaurants on the road in front of the mall. A lot of the girls were holding one another and crying. Most of the guys were either standing in groups, or pacing back and forth. There were a few couples who were standing off to the side, clinging to one another.

The national guardsmen forced everyone, by g
unpoint, into two school buses. When they were full, the buses headed out of the parking lot. Jeremy saw several more buses at the far end of the parking lot. He believes they were taking people out of the mall to fill them.

His bus pulled in line behind other bu
ses and followed them to the on-ramp of the interstate, heading west toward the Mississippi state line.

A man in a National Guard uniform stood at the front of the bus and told them they were going to a training camp to be "trained to defend their country." Several
young girls began wailing, and the national guardsman yelled at them to "shut their traps," and that "everyone their age was gonna get trained."

One of the boys up front asked what would happen after they were trained. The guardsman said they
would be "assigned to their duty stations." He didn't say anything about what their duties might entail. Everyone was in shock because they'd been taken at gunpoint, without any choice, in the good old U S of A.

The remainder of the bus ride was silent except for gasps that came from passengers when the bus in front of them veered off the side of an overpass and onto the paved road underneath. Later, there were rumors that a few members of a high school football team had decided they were gonna get off that bus, and
they had attacked the guardsmen in charge as well as the bus driver. Jeremy's bus kept right on going.

Jeremy was at the end of a week of boot camp style training, at gunpoint, before he saw his opportunity to escape. Oh yeah, he had a gun, but he didn't
have ammunition. He spent many hours with that weapon, learning to break it down and put it back together. A couple of times he caught himself mimicking the motions in his sleep.

The trainees were
fed a lot of bland food like plain oatmeal, cream of wheat, clean sandwiches and beans with rice but there was plenty of it, so he didn't complain. "Clean sandwiches" are what we call the ones missing mayo, mustard or ketchup.

He could see the entrance to the base from his second story barracks room.

One night, while staring at a line of buses that pulled in bringing new "recruits" for training, he began to form a plan. He waited and watched for two days before putting his plan into action.

Sure enough, on the third night
, the line of buses pulled through the gates. After the buses had been emptied and the recruits had been herded into the main building, he saw the bus drivers head to a burn barrel near the front of the line to warm their hands, smoke, and "shoot the breeze" with one another.

An extremely large, incredibly fat
, bus driver cut off from the group and Jeremy heard him bellow towards the others that he was goin' to the "head."

Jeremy knew exactly which bus that dr
iver had come from because he’d watched him try to get his blubbery bulk out the bus door after the recruits had disembarked. It was the second bus from the rear, and it was parked in the dark shadow of a building. That area was cut off from most of the streetlights. Everything was going according to plan.

In the semi-dark room, moving in extra-stealthy mode
, (he didn't want to wake his roomie) he threw on his civilian clothes and shoes, grabbed his lightweight denim jacket, and went out the door and down the stairs to the side entrance of the barracks.

He sent a thank you up to Jesus that he only had t
o descend one flight of stairs. He cracked the door open, winced when it made a little sucking sound, and carefully stuck his head out for a look.

Se
eing no one close or patrolling other than the drivers at their barrel 40 yards away, he duck-walked behind the hedge row on the side of the building. He banged his knee on a water spigot and went into "still as a statue" mode. He saw one of the drivers glance his way, but the man must have convinced himself that it was nothing because he quickly turned his attention back to the group.

Jeremy started off again and kept going until he came to a stop across from the second bus from the rear. It was about 10 feet away. It took him a good two minutes to muster up his courage. His heart was about to jump out of his chest as he crawled on his belly out of the
hedges and up the steps of the bus. He stayed on his belly and made his way to the rear. He climbed onto the last seat, laid on his side with his knees pulled up to his chest, and waited.

He said his brain kept trying to say "that was too easy, fella," but he pushed the thought back so he wouldn't jinx himself.

He knew that the drivers usually checked the buses over before they pulled out, but he'd seen the driver of this bus before. He was counting on the fact that he’d never seen the man haul his large rear end down the aisle to check each seat.

He felt himself dozing off until the bus shook when a massive, wheezing
, hulk came up the stairs and stood near the driver’s seat looking back into the shadowy interior. The hulk flipped on a flashlight and shined the light across the tops of the seats and down the center aisle, then he flipped it off and turned toward the front. Sure enough, the big fat slob was too lazy to physically check each row and he practically fell into the driver’s seat while letting out a groan.

The whole bus shook like a belly dancer when that man hit that seat. Jeremy was almost dislodged from his sideways perch at the rear of the bus. The driver groaned again, then sighed and started the engine. He put the bus in gear and followed the line of buses out the main gate.

They drove for several hours. Jeremy had no idea how long they drove, or which direction they went, but it was well past dawn and the hairs on his neck were standing at full attention.

He felt the vehicle slow down, make a couple of turns, and come to a full stop. The driver hauled himself out of the seat with a great amount of effort. He went down the stairs and out the door.

Jeremy could hear voices but he couldn't make out what they were saying. He turned his body and took the risk of sticking his head out past the seat near the bottom window of the rear door. Before peeking out the window, he noticed that the entire door had been welded shut. That meant there was only one way out, and it was straight up the center aisle and out the front door.

He slowly moved his head forward enough to see out the small window. He saw mountains, farm land, and an Interstate off-ramp. He figured that he was at a roadblock and the bus was waiting to haul passengers taken from vehicles trying to get through. He knew he'd be seen by the first "recruit" or guardsman that stepped on the bus.

The bus door opened and he jerked his head back to his seat perch, peeking under the seat in front of him. He had a mostly blocked view of the top of the stairs at the front of the bus. He waited.

A young guardsman stepped aboard. He could hear the guardsman coming down the aisle and he had only one option if he was going to make it out.

As soon as he saw the man's feet near his position, he reached out and grabbed him by the ankles, pulling his feet out from under him. The man fell backwards onto the deck of the aisle.

Since he had the element of surprise on his side, Jeremy was able to wrestle the M16 away from the guardsman and bash him in the head with the stock end before he could call for help. The man was unconscious and sleeping like a baby while Jeremy quickly removed his uniform and pulled it on over his own clothing. He wore everything but the man's shoes because they were too small.

He was extremely nervous, but finally found enough courage to come to a full stand at the rear of the bus. He walked to the front slowly, with every fiber of his being screaming out for him to run and hide.

He stepped off the bus and shouted "goin' to take a dump
," in the most casual voice he could muster, toward the crowd of guards gathered at the roadblock.

He walked slowly but deliberately into the woods and when he was sure he could no longer be seen, he took off at a sprint. He ran for 20 minutes, zigging this way and zagging that way around trees, dead falls, bushes, and little streams, before he stopped to catch his breath.

Then, he realized he'd left his jacket and the M16 on the bus with the unconscious, mostly naked guardsman. He didn't go back for them.

He decided to make his path parallel to the highway, but hidden in the cover behind the tree-line, until he could see some kind of sign that would tell him where he was.

After a half hour, he saw a sign that read "Tupelo 29 miles." He knew where he was. The Interstate in front of him was I-22, better known as Corridor X.

BOOK: Not Dead in the Heart of Dixie
3.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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