Meal done and Bud Kilgore, gruff and abrupt as he normally was, putting himself rather out of character as he sat holding Will and giving the little one a good natured and remarkably gentle talking-to, Einar shook himself from the near-trance into which he’d fallen after eating, and sat down beside the tracker.
"So, down there in the world. Tell me what you really see happening. How is this all going to go down? What’s the timeframe?"
"Oh, your guess is just about as good as mine on that one. Just before I left the President gave a big speech in which he announced a bunch of mostly-meaningless executive actions, mostly stuff about enforcing existing laws and such, but there's been legislation introduced in Congress that would not only reinstate prior 'assault weapons ban' provisions, but add to them tremendously, require the registration and taxation of anything semi-auto, make it so you couldn't pass them on to your children, a bunch of NFA stuff like that just designed to phase out private ownership of semi-autos altogether, and you know a lot of folks aren't going to go for that one!"
"Well, around the county several state legislatures have already passed legislation designed to prevent federal law enforcement m trying to put any of these laws into effect in their state, and it's been introduced in several others. And the sheriffs! Good, oath-keeping sheriffs all around the country have pledged not to allow any such new legislation to be enforced in their counties, promised to arrest any fed who might give it a try, and among them is our own Sheriff Watts."
"No surprise there. He was always real fair with me. Even when I was a rather unwilling guest of his for a day and a night, that first spring of the search… Had that reputation with others, too. A solid man."
"Yep, and there's a good group of folks down there planning to back him up if it comes to that, folks he intends to deputize when it all comes down, which is a good thing, because with the feds still occupying the county to some extent at the search headquarters…well, there’s already whispers that this area, and our Sheriff, may be picked out as a test case for enforcement, make an example of him, and of us, since the guys are already there on the ground to do the job. So this isn't just idle talk, Asmundson. It's looking like the real deal, and I really do hope you'll consider my invitation. Might just be your destiny, man."
"My destiny," Einar ran a hand idly over the sharply protruding bones in his left shoulder, back of the neck, shivering in a slight draft that had found its way in through one crack or another in the front of the cabin, “is to end up in the ground with the worms, just like the rest of us. Ashes to ashes."
"Yeah, and by the looks of things a lot sooner than later, but think about the way you're gonna get there! May just have a bit of choice in the matter, which is more than a lot can say, and that's what I'm trying to get you to see, here. Are you really trying to tell me you're satisfied with the idea you’re more likely than not to go out lying curled up in a ball under a tree, passed out from low blood sugar and the other effects of starvation as the gentle sleep of hypothermia sneaks in to take you? Just lying there, no resistance, no struggle, just sleep? Doesn't sound like you at all, no, not one bit."
"No. Way too peaceful for me. Never did plan on dying in my sleep, if I had any say in the matter."
“So, don’t do it! Eat, get strong, and then come on down there and help me get those boys in shape for what’s coming! Already got a good solid core group, fellas who used to meet up at Sue’s way back before I knew her, lot of ‘em guys our age who’ve been living that life since their twenties or thirties, knowing this day would come sooner or later and determined they’d be ready to meet it, and some of them really are, more or less, but others…well, right intentions, but the details need some work. A good number of young folks too, guys coming back from the Sandbox, local kids who were raised by fellas like us, by Sue and her friends, and who heeded the message and have no intention of rolling over on this one without a fight. Think about it. We need you, Asmundson. Or will before too long here.”
“I’m not your man, Kilgore. Just not. Wish you well, all of you, and I’ll go on doing my part up here by keeping one step ahead of ‘em and providing you all with a little inspiration and maybe a missing fed chopper or search party now and then, if it helps, but I’m not your man.”
“Well now, that’s just exactly what George Washington thought, you know, what he told everybody at first, and it’s a large part of what made him just the man we needed. Humility. A good quality.”
“You know real well I’m no doggone George Washington, Kilgore. I’m an ornery old mostly starved human critter who can’t even get through one night, a lot of times, without waking sweating and screaming all tied in a knot in a bamboo hut somewhere, and when that’s not going on, I’m out there doing my darndest to replicate the scenario any way I can just looking to prove to myself that I...” he shrugged, felt the rage coming, letting it subside. Had to be able to talk. To finish this conversation. “You know, I spend most of my time these days making war with myself, and on myself, just trying to find some way to stay alive. Works, but more often than not it pretty nearly kills me, at the same time. No sense dancing around the facts, not at a time like this, and there they are. There you go.”
“You’re human, and you have a past. So? You’re a bold man, a brave man. You are—though I know it don’t mean a lot to the likes of you and me, and we’ll always deny it if anyone should say it to our faces—a war hero of sorts.”
“No, I’m not. I’m a man who couldn’t complete his mission, when it really counted. I lived, he didn’t. I’m a coward.”
“You’re a nut.”
“So you see, I’m not your man.”