Wednesday, January 29, 2014

27. A new way of knocking

"From the viewpoint of safety, you have two basic options - leave or stay," said Mark methodically while sipping the green tea served by Shannon in her kitchen, with Shannon's rescue dog Chopper crouching protectively at her feet, eyes fixed on Mark.  

"I'm staying," Shannon said without hesitation.

"Not on your own, I hope."

"Yes, on my own."

"I'm afraid that is not an option."

"Thank you for your concern, Mark, but this is my home, and I can do whatever I want."

"Well, I agree with you from a philosophical view point, but from a safety view point, I don't."

"It is my life," she said.

"Very well," Mark said after a beat.  "With respect to your determination, which I do admire, I shall leave.  But I have the right to stand watch outside your gate, and with respect to my concern for your safety, I will."

Shannon took a beat, then said, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to come out sounding that way.  Yes, please, stay the night.  I will tidy up my son's room for you.  He is not the tidiest house keeper."

"Thank you, but no need for that.  I will set up an observation post in the garage.  This would be the better tactical arrangement anyway.  If they force us into a firefight, we'd have cross-fire capability."

"I doubt it would come to that."

"Better prepare unnecessarily than be caught unprepared when the necessity arises.  Speaking of a firefight, what weapons do you have?"

"Other than the kitchen knives?" she said with a half-smile.  

"Yes, other than the kitchen knives," he said without a hint of one.

"Okay... well, I have a 30-06 rifle, bolt-action, with a scope and a 5-round mag, a .22 rifle, semi-automatic with a scope and 12-round mag, and a .22 semi-automatic pistol with a 10-round mag and a green dot sight.  I also have a 45-pound compound bow with a dozen or so carbon-fibre arrows, three with tri-bladed broadhead tips which I just randomly found in my backwoods, plus of course the six still imbedded in White Shadow.  Ammunition-wises, I have eight 20-packs of 180-grain 30-06 rounds and a half dozen 525-round bricks of .22lr.  That's about it."

"Could you bring them all out here please, but just one brick of .22lr ammo will do."
She gave him a slightly astonished look, then went to a back room to retrieve the weapons. 

When they were all arrayed neatly on the kitchen table, Mark picked up each and checked their mechanisms.  
"I assume that they've all been sighted in?"
"Yep, the 30-06 for 200 yards, the .22 rifle for 100 yards, the .22 pistol for 50 yards."


When he came to the bow, he test-drew it and found that it suited him marginally well, though the draw-weight was a tad on the light side.  
"Do you have an archery target?  I need to sight in the bow for my anchor point," he asked matter-of-fact-ly.
"Yes, I have a target in the backyard, shot full of holes."
Mark picked up the bow and eight arrows with field points only and went out to the back yard.  The rising moon was near full, so there was a milky glow flooding the clearing.  About thirty yard towards the back, he saw a cubical object encased in a dark green inverted gardening bag.  

"Let me uncover it for you," said Shannon as she walked over to the target and pulled the gardening bag off it.  When she came back, she said, "Please don't change any setting on the bow.  At this distance, I've set the bull's eye on the center bead of the five.  You can just choose one of the five beads for yourself."
"No problem," said Mark.  With practiced ease, he fired off the eight arrows with the bull's eye lined up with the #3 bead.  All eight arrows were grouped in a 2-inch diameter circle, their center of mass about three inches below the center of the bull's eye.  He retrieved the arrows and shot again, this time lining up the bull's eye with the #4 bead.  This time, the entire group moved up slightly more than the three inches required.  He shot a third set, and the group ended dead center on the target.  

"Bead #3.8 it is," he said to Shannon, who looked slightly puzzled.  Mark looked at the declining sun.  "Before the light fades, I would like to walk the grounds around this house."

"Let me show you around," said Shannon.  An hour later, she concluded the guided tour by showing him the site where the confrontation took place.

Back at the house, Mark said, "We're low on arrows.  Let me go and extract the six arrows from White Shadow as an extra measure.  You don't have to come with me for this,"  And added with a smile, "More tea would be awfully nice though."

Somewhere in the course of the evening, Shannon noticed that Chopper had been approaching Mark, with tail wagging, and following him around, and that Mark had been casually petting Chopper on the head, back and rump.  She made a mental note to herself.  Chopper would never, ever, approach a stranger within the first 24 to 48 hour period.  After that, it would still be touch and go.  But with Mark, Chopper behaved as if he'd found a long lost friend.  Amazing.

As the evening drew to a close, he changed into "ninja black", and went to the detached garage to set up post.  It was a double garage facing the house across the front yard, behind which being the front woods that stretched to the road.  Shannon's car was parked in the right-side bay, and her motorcycle and Trevor's scooter in the left side bay.  Mark had a sleeping bag on a cot set up on the motorcycle side.  He left both roll-down doors rolled down, using the small rear door for entrance and exit purposes.  His own car he parked in front of the garage on the right side.  Of all the weapons in Shannon's collection he chose the bow and arrows.  His parting words to Shannon were, "If anything happens outside the house, don't respond and don't turn lights on. I'll handle it.  If you think someone is in the house, do not go around looking for him; stay put to listen and wait for him to come to you.  If you have to shoot, shoot to kill.  If it's me, I'll knock on the wall like this."  He tapped on the wall: tap-tap-tap tap-tap.  "And your reply should be like this."  Tap-tap tap-tap-tap.  "Good night."  And he was gone.

Some time after midnight, Mark was alerted by the sound from the house of Chopper barking.  He sat up and laced his boots in one fluid motion, then picked up the bow and the quiverful of ten broadhead-tipped arrows - six extracted from the body of White Shadow, three collected by Shannon from the forest floor, and the one with Shannon's name written on it - and exited the garage via the back door into the front woods.  

Once among the trees, he crouched down and listened.  Almost at once he heard the crunching of gravel under boots - two pairs of them - coming from the winding driveway.  By the sound of it, the two intrude weren't too concerned about stealth.  Under its audio-cover, Mark moved like a cat to the large tree directly facing the house across the clearing and flattened himself against it.  

"Wale wale lookie here!  The Jap car is back.  The bitch is home.  Her evil deed is done.  Now it is our turn to have some fun!" said one camo-clad figure to the other, well above a whisper, as the pair boldly stepped into the moon-washed clearing from the surrounding gloom.  

At about 25 yards from the house, the leader of the two halted and said to his sidekick, "Go and bang on the door."  

The sidekick did as told, but there was no response from the house.
"Stand aside," order the leader, then added with a chuckle, "I'll show her a new way of knocking on a door."  

He then assumed a shooting stance, raised his bow, nocked an arrow, drew, aimed, and fired.  The arrow duly imbedded itself squarely, though slightly off-center, on Shannon's front door - with a loud KNOCK!

They stood waiting for a response, but except for the dog barking there still was none.  

"Well, no door crasher stops at just one knock," said the leader almost jovially, and with this, he sent another arrow on its way, which imbedded itself in the door about 4 inches below its predecessor, accompanied by its own loud KNOCK!

This repeated itself five more times, resulting in a 6-inch-diameter group of seven arrows buried in the wood.  Chopper's barking intensified to a frenzied pitch.

"Not a very good shot, is he?" Mark remarked to himself.  

"This calls for a little escalation," said the leader.  And with this, he marched up to the door, and positioned himself into a pre-kicking stance.

KNOCK!  And he jumped back.  It was an arrow with green vanes landing smack in the exact center of his 6-inch group of seven red-vaned ones. He did a double take when he saw on the shaft a name painted crudely in white: Shannon Stone. 

KNOCK!  Came a second one, less than an inch from the first. 

And KNOCK!  Came a third one, this one so close to the first it sliced off one of its fletchings.  

All told, the three green fletched arrows formed a tiny triangle that could fit into a Canadian Loonie coin placed dead center in the disorganized Group of Seven.  The two intruders looked startled, and dropped to the floor of the front porch, partly shielding themselves with the railings and planters.  

By the orientation of Mark's arrows, the leader retrojected them back to where they were shot from.  He pointed at Mark's tree and said to his sidekick, "Go get that son-of-a-bitch, or the bitch herself!"

While the sidekick was hesitating, and the leader hissing, "What the hell are you waiting for?", Mark slid silently from tree to tree until he was in the woods off to the side.  Finally, the sidekick jumped up and made a rush to the first tree.  When he got there, he pasted himself against the side of the thick trunk facing the house, presumably thinking that Mark was still on the other side of it.  For a brief moment, his right hand was pressed flat against the crusty bark.  

THUD!  An arrow arrived, piercing the hand, and nailing it solidly to the tree.  The sidesick howled.  By instinct his left hand tried to jerk itself away, and this cause the howl to morph into a scream.  He tried more rationally to slide the wounded hand out the rear of the arrow, but it was stopped by the fletchings.  He tried to use his left hand to pull the arrow out of the tree, or at least the fletchings off the arrow, but they were all stuck fast.  

While the sidekick was making all the fuzz, the leader made a mad dash for the driveway, too suddenly for Mark to take aim at if he wanted to, and within five seconds disappeared out of sight.  Within seconds came the sound of a car door slamming, then the roar of a diesel engine being gunned, then the screeching of tires on the pavement, then the receding roar of a truck into the night.  

That was what finally reduced the sidekick's howls and screams into a whimper, and Chopper's barks into a whine when Mark knocked "tap-tap-tap tap-tap", answered by Shannon's "tap-tap tap-tap-tap", and he entered through the back door that was opened to him. 

"It is okay.  It's okay," said Mark reassuringly while petting Chopper on the forehead, but added, "for now."

Shannon, now in sweatshirt, jeans, and laced runners, with hair tied back in a lush pony tail, asked anxiously, "What happened?"

"I'll tell you later, but now, we'd better get out of here fast.  A whole army of thugs are liable to come barging in to do whatever they want," said Mark, now with a tone of urgency.  "I will drive my car out to the road in ten minutes.  If the coast is clear, I will blast my horn honk-honk-honk honk-honk.  It's a signal that you should drive your car out at once.  You won't be coming back here for a while, but please don't spend too much time packing.  Oh, by the way, do you have a hack saw blade lying around?"

"A hack saw blade?  Uh, I think there might be a couple of old rusty ones in the garage." 

"Okay, listen for my car horn, and be ready to drive when it sounds.  See you on the road."

Three minutes later, a masked "ninja", as the sidekick later put it, approached him with a short metallic object in his hand.  The sidekick shank in horror, the searing pain in his left hand momentarily forgotten.

"What is your name?" asked the ninja.

"Wh-what do you want from me?!"


No answer.

The ninja raised the object in his hand, and the sidekick shrank further.

"Look at this.  It is a hacksaw blade; it can cut an arrow clean through.  If you will answer a couple of questions, I will leave it with you when I leave.  So, what's your name?"

"Jorge Ferrero."

"And your buddy's name."

"That fucking COWARD?!  No problem with his name.  Samuel Bachman."

"Is he your boss?"


"How is he your boss?"

"He is a colonel in the Deuteronomy Militia.  I'm a just a sergeant."

"The Deutgeronomy Militia, did you say?  Where is it based?"

"In northern Wyoming."

"So what is a militia from Wyoming doing here in Pennsylvania?"

"We have a national goal, and a national reach."

"I ask again.  What are you doing in Pennsylvania?"

"We are to help defeat the feds whenever we can."

"In what in specific this time?"

"In that bill 1724."

"Why is the militia named after a book in the Bible?"

"We abide by God's dictates in Deuteronomy.  Deuteronomy is our Bible."

"So you have a spiritual leader?"

"Yep.  The head of the Church of Deuteronomy."

"Does he have a name?"

"The Reverend Jeremiah Smith."

The ninja thought for a moment, then extended the saw blade to Sgt. Ferrero and said, "I give you five minutes to get the hell out of here.  And don't ever come back.  Next time, I will aim two feet lower."

Sgt. Ferrero reached out his right hand.  The ninja maintained the blade an inch beyond reach.  "Do you understand?"

"I understand."

"What do you understand?"

"I am not to come back here."

"And if you get caught doing so?"

"You will have me shot in the balls."

"That is, assuming you had any in the first place.  Oh, by the way, in case you're wondering who I am?  I'm from the Hell's Angels.  You can consider you and your Colonel Bachman and your entire Deuteronomy Militia being watched, and investigated, and plotted against.  Meanwhile, be informed that this place is bugged.  There are heat sensors and motion-triggered video monitors planted around the premises.  Your intrusion tonight, for example, has been recorded.  Be prepared for our right action at the right time.  Have I made myself clear?" 

"Yes, crystal clear."

And with this, Mark handed Ferrero the saw blade.

Three minutes later, Ferrero went staggering out the driveway.  Three minutes after that, Mark drove his car out the driveway as well.  Shannon saw the whole thing through her front window, and felt more confused than before.  

Two minutes later Shannon heard the honk-honk-honk honk-honk signal from Mark.  She opened the front door and headed for the garage, with a knapsack on her back and Chopper in tow.  It was then she saw all the arrows imbedded in her front door, and felt more confused than ever.

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