We're Not Gonna Take It
Copyright © 2015 by Al Norris and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.
All Rights Reserved
It's getting stranger by the day thought Lee, as he took his eye from his spotting scope.
For the past several weeks, before the election, there had been reports of a massive troop buildup, down at Fort Drum. Enough, that it had piqued the interests of many locals in Harrisville. After the election, the power-grid had gone down. Regular radio and TV broadcasts had stopped, and phone service, both landline and cell had also stopped. That jerk of a President, Ashwood, had the nerve to declare the elections invalid and then he imposed Martial Law.
That effectively put most everyone who had local jobs, unemployed. Only those who had important jobs at the Army base, 25 miles away, were allowed to work. Those that drove to work in Watertown, 35 miles, were out of luck. Even Viking-Cives had shut down. With winter fast approaching, that effectively killed their most lucrative selling season.
All this really meant to Lee, was that he now had time to take his quad out and see if the rumors were true. From his current vantage point on a small rise at the southwest edge of Onjebonge State Forest, Lee had a clear view of the main ammo dump of Fort Drum. Lots and lots of activity down there. If he hadn't had his spotting scope, Lee wouldn't have known that there were massive amounts of foreign troops at the base.
Fort Drum, was home to the 10th Mountain Division and there were always multinational exercises taking place there. Most of the locals usually knew when those type of exercises were taking place. So it was something unusual to have rumors floating around about troop buildups, when none of the locals had heard of anything being planned. Paul and James had gone down and looked at the main billeting sites and confirmed that there were foreign troops of some kind down there. From what Lee had observed, these troops were from some place in South America. The uniforms, which had no distinctive markings, just screamed "Argentina" to him. Not that he would take a bet on that, but it did seem to fit the general characteristics of the individuals (at just over a half mile away, the people at the smaller ammo dump were brought into very sharp focus through his 60 power scope).
Lee cased up his scope and let himself down from his tree stand, hopped on his quad and made tracks back to his home in Harrisville. Home was 9 miles as the crow flies, but because of the backroads Lee took it was closer to 15 miles. As it was, Lee would get home just in time to wash up for dinner with his folks.
Lee parked his quad in the barn and went up to the old foreman's house. This was where he now lived, even though he took most of his meals at the main house with his mom and dad. He cleaned up and put on some fresh clothes. Dinner at the house, while not formal, required clean clothes. Mom would skin him, if he showed up in his cammies.
"Just in time, Leland!" He heard his mom call, as he came through the back door. "Would you please set the table, son?" Lee gave her a quick peck on the cheek and went to the cupboard to gather the place settings.
As soon as Lee had the table set, his mom came in carrying the pot roast. "Do you need any more help?" Lee asked.
"Yes, if you would, please."
Lee went back into the kitchen to get the vegetable and potato dishes and placed them on the table, while his mother went back to get a pitcher of water.
"Jonathon is in the study. Would you call him to dinner?" Lee did as his mom asked and told his dad that dinner was ready.
Just as soon as everyone sat down, Jonathon said a short grace, then looked at Lee. "I noticed you headed out on your quad again today. Find anything interesting?" His dad asked.
"Actually, I did." Lee said, as he helped himself to the roast. "You know those ammo dumps out by Onjebonge? I spent most of the day observing a whole bunch of soldiers pulling munitions out of the bunkers, loading them onto Chinooks and flying them back to the main part of the base."
"OK. No known planned operations, but they're pulling ammo out of the bunkers." Jonathon said, thinking hard. "Could you tell what kind of munitions they were getting?"
"Mom, the roast is really good tonight." Lee said, before answering his dad. "That was one of the strange things. During most normal exercises, they would draw some small arms munitions from that smaller dump and a whole lot from the large bunkers. Today, I would have to say that the majority of the munitions moved were small arms stuff.”
"The other odd thing was that because they were working in the smaller bunkers, they were only a half mile from my overlook. I got a real good look at these guys. They were all dressed in unmarked South American style uniforms. Most were of dark complection. All were dark haired and most had mustaches."
"I've been thinking about this the entire way back." Lee held up his hands and began ticking off on his fingers, "None of what the rumors suggest, and certainly none of what I've seen with my own eyes, the type of munitions and the foreign forces, make any sense. Add in the nationwide power outage. The internet is gone. No telephones. No cells. The election voided. Martial Law declared." All of his fingers had been folded back onto his palms, "All in all, I have a very bad feeling about this."
"That thing about Martial Law is a joke." Jonathon remarked. "Nobody enforces it up here, or anywhere else in these hills. I hear that it is being enforced down in Watertown. You have to have a special 'pass' if you have an essential job at the base, otherwise they'll arrest you on sight. Heck, what are people going to do when they run out of food? And I'd be betting that some of them city-folk are getting mighty hungry right about now!"
"Dad, what makes it even worse is that the grocery stores will shortly be outta food, what with the truckers not being able to resupply them."
"Oh, it's even worse than that, son. How about all the foodstuffs that were refrigerated or frozen? Without any power, they're already spoiled. Them city folk don't have generators, like most of us." Jonathon shook his head. "No, we're pretty well off, all things considered. We can run our generators a few hours everyday to keep our foodstuffs frozen or at least cool. I had already filled our propane tanks, so we have gas for cooking and hot showers. The oil tank, for the coming cold is full. So heating is no problem. When we get low on meat, we can go out and shoot us a deer or two."
"That reminds me," said Lee after swallowing a mouthful, "I need to get our spare fuel tanks over to the station and get them filled up. That'll give us another couple of hundred gallons of gas, to run around on."
"You have enough cash for that? With the banks being closed, and no internet, our checks and cards are no good anymore."
"Yeah. I've got enough to do that. I withdrew two grand just before the outages, as I was going to get another hunting rifle. Unfortunately, the feces started rolling before I could get down to Syracuse. I just want to help out here, as best I can."
Dinner was finished on that somber note. Lee helped his mom clear the table and clean the kitchen, before he headed back out to his own house. It was 4:30 pm and going to be dark soon. There were still things that Lee needed to do. One of which was to go ask if the guys were seeing the things he was seeing, and find out how well they were all stocked up. Lee grabbed his jacket and went out to his quad, started it and drove off to the Village Inn.
A short five minute drive, and Lee was walking into the local bar. He spotted his three friends, over at a side table towards the back.
"... I was stopped by the State Patrol over by the Carthage Hospital turnoff." Ben was saying, as Lee sat down. "He told me to get back home and to spread the word that by morning some troops would be in town to enforce the curfew that was imposed by that Martial Law order."
Lee looked at Ben and shook his head. "Damn, that probably means I can't finish topping off our fuel tanks."
James nodded, "Yeah, if ya didn't get it today I'd say chances are slim and next to none." Ben and James looked at each other before Ben said, "Well, if they're gonna lock us down I guess I should go see Cindy for a bit. James, you might want to go check on Robin and her family before the troops role in." Ben and James stood up and got ready to leave, both smiling a bit at the thought of seeing their girls.
"Thanks for the heads up about the lockdown, guys." Lee said, as he switched chairs to be closer to Paul. "Paul? You gonna be OK?" Lee had one hand around a Bud Light, while the other was just laying on the table, close to Paul.
Paul reached out and lightly brushed the back of Lee's free hand and then let his hand just drop into his lap. "I don't know Lee. The Truesdell's are letting me stay in a back room over the computer store. But you know I don't have anything to cook with or even a place to do the cooking. I eat out or eat with you guys all the time. With this stuff going on with Ashwood the computer store is closed. So my 'spare' money is running out fast."
"Paul, it's settled. Let's get over to your room get you packed up and you can move into the spare bedroom at my place. I just know that Mom and Dad won't mind another mouth to feed. You can help with the chores to earn your keep. Dad needs more time off, anyway."
"Are you sure, Lee? After what my mom did, you know what people are going to think. Besides ..." Paul started but was interrupted by Lee.
"Besides shit, Paul! Your mom kicked you out over something a couple of drunk, horny guys were doing? And then blamed it all on you?" Lee was furious now, and it showed. Paul's eyes dropped to the floor, as he kept his mouth shut. "Let's go get you packed up." Lee stood up and held his hand out to help Paul up. As they walked out of the bar, Lee said, "Paul, are you walking?" Paul nodded. "OK, get on the back and let's go."
Truesdell Computers was up the block and around the corner from the bar. So in less than a minute, they were both walking up the backstairs to Paul's room. "Paul, where's your suitcases? I'll start packing them while you go down and inform Mr. Truesdell. Don't forget to give them your key."
Paul grabbed two suitcases and a duffel bag. "Here you go, Lee. I'll be back in a minute."
Paul had always been sort of a neat freak. So it was pretty easy to fill up the suitcases from the closet and dresser. What dirty clothes he had, only filled a third of the duffel. By this time, Paul was back and was grabbing bath and toilet stuff, and the very few nicknacks he had managed to acquire in the last six months. Because Paul was only twenty-three, he didn't have much to pack.
Lee and Paul carried the luggage down the stairs and Lee began securing the stuff on the back of the quad, as Ben pulled up in his truck.
"What's up Ben? I thought you were going to go see Cindy?" Paul asked.
"I guess they're stuck down in Carthage. Her and the family went down earlier this morning. If they aren't back now, I'm guessin' they got stuck in the curfew. What'er yer doing?"
"Paul can't do any cooking here, so I offered him a room at my place. I know the folks won't mind. 'Sides, he can help with the chores and Dad can relax a bit more."
"'Bout time," mumbled Ben. Then louder, "OK. Ya know, depending on what happens tomorrow, we need to meet and figure some things out. How about we meet at noon, over at James' place?"
Lee had heard what Ben had not meant for him to hear, but ignored it. "All right, then. Noon it is. See ya then." Ben nodded and took off for his own place. Lee finished tying Paul's stuff down and hopped on the quad. "Get on Paul and let's go."
Paul got on back and held onto Lee as he gave the ATV some gas and headed back to the farm. Lee didn't want to admit how good Paul's arms felt around his waist. Despite Lee's resolve to tell Paul how he actually felt, he wasn't sure that now was a good time. Hell, he wasn't sure if there were such a thing as a good time. Not up here, in the hills of upstate New York.
Lee was twenty-four and Paul would be twenty-four around New Years. They had both grown up here in Harrisville and had known each other for as long as they could both remember. At 5'11" and 185 lbs., Lee was all muscle. He was the outgoing one of the pair. Always the athlete, Lee had never met anyone he couldn't call "friend." Paul was taller, at 6'2" and at 175 lbs., looked almost skinny. Introverted by nature, computer geek by training. And shy. Making friends had always been harder for him. They were indeed the "odd couple."
Lee pulled onto the farm road and drove to his house. Shutting off the quad, Paul hopped off and began untying the baggage. Lee helped him into the house and showed him which room to set up in. "I'm going over to the main house to let my folks know what's going on. Have you eaten?"
"Yes Lee. I had something over at Pastamorés."
"I bet if those Army guys get here tomorrow, no one will be working."
Lee went out the door and walked up to the main house, and into the kitchen. "Mom? Dad? I have some news!" He hollered.
"Were in the den, Leland." His dad yelled back. When Lee was in the room, Jonathon asked, "OK, son. What news do you have?"
"Ben and James went down to Carthage this afternoon and were turned away by the State Patrol. They were told to beat it back home, as the Army was sending some troops up this way to secure the town for Martial Law."
"They must not have gotten the roadblock set up earlier, as Ben said that Cindy and her folks had gone into town early this morning and hadn't made it back home, yet. It's likely they're trapped down there for as long as this thing lasts."
"Tell Ben not to worry. I'm sure they'll be fine. We'll just have to get over to their place and make sure everythings OK for them." Jonathon thought for a second then said, "How's James and his folks?"
"They're OK. They planned ahead like we did. Although, if the Army comes in, there goes the gasoline I was going to get."
"I'm afraid that's going to be our one weak spot. Tomorrow morning, you and I are going to go out and bury the fuel tanks. I'm thinking the only way to keep our fuel out of the Army's hands is if they don't see it."
"You sure about this Dad? Would they really try to take what we need for the winter?" This was rather shocking news to Lee. Never would he have thought the country could fall this far.
"Yes, Leland. They would. Look at all the stuff that Ashwood has already tried to do. Every bit of it has been ruled unconstitutional, but that man hasn't paid any heed to the Courts. Right now, it looks as if he has succeeded in shutting this country down. It appears the military is in his back pocket and is busy carrying out his orders. Freedom and Independence be damned! He's already used the Constitution as butt-wipe..."
"Jonathon!" Mary spoke up. "Language!"
"Sorry honey. Facts are facts and the man is acting like a Third-World Dictator. Harsh words are called for in harsh times!"
"Mom, Dad?" Lee spoke up. "There's one more thing I need to ask you both. You know that Paul has a room over the computer store? He has no place to keep food or even cook it. He's either been eating out or eating at one of the guys' house, ever since his Mom kicked him out. I've, ah, asked him to stay in the spare bedroom at my house. Um, if that's OK with you guys? Um, he can help with a lot of the chores around here to earn his keep, and..."
Mary, his mom, cut him off, "Leland, that's perfectly fine. Not only is he a good boy, we can use the help around here. You know we aren't going to let him starve."
From his easy chair Jonathon said, "Lelan... Lee. When you going to tell him?" What he had just said, he said very softly.
Lee's body jerked and he felt the sweat break out on his forehead. "Um, Dad? What are you..." he was suddenly very nervous at the direction he thought this conversation was going, "... implying?"
Seeing his son become very nervous, Jonathon got up from his chair and walked over to Lee. Gently, he placed his hands on Lee's shoulders. "I'm not implying anything, Lee. I'm asking you if you are going to look into your heart and finally tell Paul how you feel about him." Jonathon said softly.
Lee almost pulled away from his dad, "Dad! You're asking me if I'm..." Fear now almost rolled off of him in a tangible wave. "a..uh, hom... um... gay?"
"Son, do you think it would matter to me if you were?"
"LELAND BRADFORD!" Mary raised her voice, at almost the same time. "You know, I never figured you to be scared of anything, before this." Setting her knitting down she got up off her chair and put Lee into the type of hug that brought back many childhood memories of Lee, to her. "Even if you are too stubborn to admit it; even if it is not what your Dad and I would have wanted for you; you have to know that we love you, and nothing will change that."
Mary let her son go and Jonathon grabbed him and held him tight. Tears were breaking out of Lee's eyes as he started to shake. What his dad and mom just said, didn't seem to register with him. "Dad, I never wanted to disappoint you or Mom. I never wanted to tell myself that I feel something when I'm around Paul. I… um, I never wanted to admit..."
Jonathon released his hug, but kept his hands on Lee's shoulders. As he pulled back, Lee could see the tears in his Dad's eyes. It had been a really long time, since Lee had seen his dad cry. "Dad... I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I'm such a disappointment to you..." Lee was now visibly shaking. He was to the point of breaking down, crying, as his knees became weak and he lowered his head to the floor.
His dad took a hand, placed it under his chin and gently lifted Lee's head. "Now hush-up, Lee. Don't you ever apologize for what you feel. Don't you understand? Your Mom and I well, we've known for a while that you two might share more than just friendship. That doesn't take away our love for you. And if the truth be known, we've always loved Paul. Just because he is your best friend, if for no other reason. If he has become something more to you, then we will only love him that much more. But, only your own heart can tell you what he is to you."
Jonathon pulled out his hanky and wiped his eyes and face. "Now, as I asked, when you gonna tell him?"
It was an awful moment for Lee. After the moment had stretched into what seemed an hour, Lee came to a decision. He slowly smiled as he looked at his parents. "I guess I should quit being the jerk I've been to him, the last few months, and go tell him right now. I just hope he understands."
"He might be a bit angry at first," Mary said, "but if he feels for you, like you do for him, I think he will forgive you."
Lee turned and went to the kitchen, where he washed his face. Before he left, Lee went and thanked them both. Back in the kitchen, he looked around and found some apple pie. He cut two generous slices, placed them on saucers, got some forks and walked to his house.
Juggling the plates, he opened the door and went into the front room. There was Paul. Sitting and watching Independence Day on the DVD. "Hey Paul, I found some apple pie that Mom baked. I thought we could have some before we called it a night."
"Oh yeah!" Paul said as he got up, took a plate, and sat back down on the couch. "Your Mom really knows how to bake."
Paul noticed right away that Lee sat next to him. This was the second time today that Lee had moved to be close to Paul. This is the way it used to be. At least how it was before his Mom kicked him out of their house, calling him hurtful names. That was the night that Lee and he were slightly drunk and horny and began fooling around with each other.
Paul knew what he felt for Lee. He had felt this way since high school. Until that night, he had never acted on his feelings. Not here. Not in this part of New York. It. Just. Wasn't. Done. At least not in school. While people around here were generally more accepting and had a ‘live and let live' attitude, you just didn't really flaunt this stuff. The problem that night was that Paul's mother got off early from work and caught them. Amazingly, she didn't fault Lee. It was all Paul's fault. Lee was drunk and Paul was taking advantage of him. It never occurred to her that it just might be a mutual thing.
After all, Lee was a jock. A hunter. A mechanic over at Viking-Cives. Paul was the pervert. Not Lee. So Paul's mother kicked him out and disowned him. She never told anyone why, because that would have implicated Lee. She just told everyone that it was high time for her boy to leave the nest and make his way in the world.
It had felt as if Lee had backed off of their friendship, after that night. Maybe his mother was right. Maybe he was an abomination.
He couldn't help it, the tears began silently leaking, as he set his plate on the coffee table. He had never been this emotional before. It wasn't normally like him. But now, the tears were falling and his shoulders began shaking. Before he could move any further, Lee's arms had wrapped around him, pulling him into Lee's strong embrace. Paul couldn't hold it in and began to sob, then to shudder. His shoulders shaking in his pain. The tears were falling in torrents.
Lee was holding him and rocking him. Telling Paul that everything would be all right. Lee finally took Paul's chin and pulled it up and looked into Paul's eyes. Lee bent his face toward Paul. Bringing his lips closer and closer … and gently kissed Paul.
Paul felt Lee's lips on his and the kiss that had started gentle, became much more firm. Both of them began to react to what their bodies were telling them. Within the space of a few heartbeats, Lee's kiss was a kiss of passion born of something he couldn't quite name. No girl had ever thrilled him like kissing Paul was doing. Paul's kiss was a kiss of hunger. Hunger for that something that had been missing in his life.
After what seemed like an eternity, they both came up for air. Paul just looked at Lee. He didn't know what had happened, but he really wished it would never end. This is what he had dreamed of for years.
Lee looked at Paul. "Paul, I'm so sorry and ashamed. I almost let what happened that night ruin our friendship. I was so afraid of what other people might have thought, if they found out. I was concerned only for my own image. I didn't want to admit that I could be gay, and actually fall in love with another man. I was a foolish and selfish idiot, and almost ruined both of our lives. I think I love you Paul and I almost lost the one thing I never thought I'd find. Please forgive me, Paul. Forgive me for being afraid to tell you how I really feel about you... How I've always felt about you." Lee bent and kissed him again.
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