Chapter 78

February 10th, 2012


It was 21:30hrs (9:30pm) and 37°F when I left York and hit I-83 North to the Dauphin County exit for Adam's Junction and the long road off I-83 to "The Cabin", and it was almost 19:55hrs (9:55pm) when I passed the Village's "Welcome Sign" and reached my 1,000ft long, gravel driveway with the heavy frost on the cross-hatched mowed meadow and grounds; all snow had melted on the hard and grassy surfaces – just a few isolated piles where William had plowed last week – and noticed that all of the 30 "Princeton"® American Elms (Ulmus Americana) and most other property trees were now beginning to "bud-up" for Spring, parked the Jeep at The Cabin's front porch, disarmed the building, greeted getting-bigger Jenny (the mixed-breed, half-frozen puppy I'd found along the road, rescued, and bought from her uncaring owners for $150), fed & watered her, unloaded my weapons and gear, turned-up the heat to 78°F, unpacked everything, put the perishable food away in the Kitchen's 'fridge and pantry, locked the Jeep, armed the building and plopped-down

into a comfy LR chair to rest and unwind for a precious few minutes. I turned-on the Police Scanner, to hear what was going on, since I hadn't been around for a week. It was a much colder-and-quickly-dropping 21°F outside, up here in the mountains, according to The Cabin's Weather Station, and wet from the snow melt, but no snow/ice on the ground, yet. Good thing I had plenty of warm clothes along and already in the Master Bedroom's dressers, closets and hall closets.

I built a roaring fire, carried-in several more armloads of firewood from the Firewood Stack on the Back Porch, and noticed that William, my Caretaker, had restocked the Firewood Storage Shed in the Backyard, so I was good for this coming Winter. Jenny curled-up on her Kodiak Bearskin, and I stroked her. She came over and put her head on my lap, looking at me with those big, brown eyes, glad that I was back. I gave her a big hug and brushed her. While back in York, during the week, I'd mailed William's monthly fee check, the various payments to the LPG gas co, electric co, tax collector etc, so I called Capt Clay on my cellphone and left a voicemail that I was in town, was feeling about 95% and if he needed me, I'd be available for Volunteer Duty. I'd also called William earlier, and told him to "stand-down" until Monday morning, and enjoy the weekend off with his family. I poured a large glass of Ocean Spray® Diet Blueberry-Pomegranate Juice, though I would have preferred a well-aged Scotch, Cognac or Brandy on a night like this, and leaned my head back, remembering the past week.

It was almost 22:30hrs (10:30pm), and I wasn't a bit tired, yet. I laid-out everything in the Kitchen & Kitchen Table, which I'd need for breakfast, so there'd be no "fumbling around" in the morning, even at my new, "later wake-up hour" of 05:30hrs (5:30am), checked the front/rear spotlight arrays, tested the alarm system, and grabbed a new book, "After America: Get Ready for Armageddon", given to me by two Friends/former Customers just before I closed my Business on October 28th, from the antique 1930s Oak Stack Bookshelf, to begin reading. I made it to page 68, before I began to tire, and decided to call it a night. After turning-down the furnace to 70°F, and headed to the Master Bedroom, with Jenny closely following. My 2009 Kimber® 1911 "Eclipse Target II" .45cal ACP, with a Premium 8-round Wilson Combat Magazine in the well, with 3 extra 8-round mags and the "ancient" Nokia 6060 "Clamshell" cellphone were on the nightstand, next to the bed. I was asleep within 10 minutes.

I leave the cellphone "on" during the night, although it's trickle-charging slowly from its plug-in charger cord, in case I get an "emergency call" from either Mom & Dad, or from Capt Clay, and it's on-charge in the 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee "Laredo", too, while I'm driving; there's a standard "power plug" socket for that on the dashboard, next to the cigarette lighter. I always have plenty of spare batteries for it, my weapons' scopes, LED flashlights, wireless keyboards/mice etc, in one of the "vegetable bins" in both of the 'fridges, at home and here. Just SOP (standard operating procedure).

I got up at 05:45hrs (5:45am), grabbed my Turkish Bathrobe, splashed cold water on my face, fed & watered Jenny, made French-Roast, Turkish-Grind Coffee first, and then re-thought breakfast bill-o'-fare, while sitting in my comfy LR chair, having a smoke. No calls on the cellphone, and since it was now fully-charged, I unplugged it. Then it rang: Capt Clay wanted me to meet with him on a couple of "issues", at 09:30hrs (9:30am) at the AJ Police Station & Town Hall. I okayed that and said I'd be there. I quickly-decided what to have for breakfast.

I made Fresh-Squeezed OJ w/ lots of pulp, Pancakes-Crépes, Bacon, had a Bananna, and made a couple more mugs of French-Roast, Turkish-Grind Coffee (from whole, freshly-ground beans) with my Chemex® Drip System. I took a shower,

grabbed some fresh clothes, made the bed, did the dishes and put them into the double-sink's rack to dry, and began to gather my needed weapons and Police Gear. I had all of that stuff stacked in the LR, near the front door, and went out on to the The Cabin's Front Porch to get some fresh air, which reminded me to change the furnace/AC filter, and I went back inside to do that. It'd been 2-3 weeks since I last did, and it needed it. I threw in a load of laundry, in my Kenmore #9825 24" Gas Laundry Center w/ Dryer; I'd get the drying done when I got back from Town. I turned-down the furnace, checked the windows and doors, loaded the Jeep, armed the building and left.

It was still only 19°F, so I'd dressed warmly, in-layers. Within 15 minutes, at 09:00hrs (9am), I pulled into Space #7 at the AJPD, and went inside past Ruth, the "cranky Dispatcher", saying "hi" and into my dark Office. The AJPD Conference Room & Capt Clay's Office Suite were lit-up like a Christmas Tree, and something was afoot. All 6 Deputies – Sgt Alex, Tim, Lee, Jon, Arthur and Jeff – were in SWAT Gear, and requisitioning their weapons and other gear; I wondered who was out on patrol. Clay came into my Office, closed the door, and laid a file on my just-cleaned-off desk. "It's a Spec-Fed-Op we're to take part in;

you're the "sniper-designee", again", he said. I went through the "CONFIDENTIAL-EYES ONLY" File, detailed by more Google-Earth Maps of another very large meth lab, on the northwestern edge of the county, in the mountains, accessible only by only one well-guarded and booby-trapped road, or by air. I was to draw equipment and gear, same as last time I'd done this "special work", except now it was "colder than a well-digger's ass in January" and there wouldn't be much cover, since everything green was "down and brown". I'd go with the "brown gear" and try to blend-in as best I could. I'd also be going-in by Fed Blackhawks, too, in a LZ (Landing Zone) about 3 miles from ground zero. I'd have to lug that "specially-modified", Barrett Model M-82A1 .50cal BMG, with a Barrett Optical Ranging System (BORS) mounted to a 15½" Barska® 10-36x Zoom w/ 100mm Lens Sniper Scope with Green Mil-Dots, plus 500 rounds of ammo – this time with 2 Feds (BATFE) along – from the LZ to my chosen "hide". And "I'd decide where that would be; they'd take orders from me", said Clay. Yeah, sure, I murmured. Clay and his 6 Deputies would come-in on the road, after it was secured. Volunteer Deputies were out on patrol in the Cruisers, right now; they'd use the unmarked Police Cruisers, in contrast with the Feds' Black Chevy Suburbans.

I went into the AJPD Locker Room, stripped-off my outer gear into Locker #7, and put on the Sniper Gear, in camo-brown, but made sure I had plenty of layers beneath it. You can always *remove layers* if you're wearing them, but if you don't have any along, it's *very difficult* to add them, if you get cold, in "the hide". The Op would go down at 14:30hrs (2:30pm), and we'd be briefed at 11:00hrs (11am), eat a light lunch, go through gear-inventory-check, and load-up in the choppers in the field behind the AJPD, and go. I went through the issued .50cal BMG Ammo, the Barrett Model M-82A1 and Barska 10-36x Zoom w/ 100mm Lens Scope, very carefully, making sure everything worked as it should. I changed scope batteries, re-oiled the weapon and zeroed-it-in on a mountain cabin ~2,500yds away, out of the AJPD's front window; freaked-out two people walking-by on the sidewalk. Heh.

It was now 10:45hrs (10:45am) and the Feds were starting to arrive in their numerous Black Suburbans, and their 4 Blackhawks were landing and idling in the vacant, secured field. We had 3 hours before this all "went-down", and they were wasting aviation fuel/personnel time ($1,300/hr) on those Blackhawks and USAF Personnel? Then, they shut them down, tarped them and the USAF Spec-Op Pilots came inside with the Feds, to be in on the briefing. The Conference Room suddenly grew a lot smaller with 30+ large people in there. The DEA/BATFE/USAF ran the "show", as usual – even PA State Police Homicide Commander Jack McHattie was given a backseat with the rest of us locals – and everyone was given assignments, just as 40 Bacon Cheeseburgers w/ Home Fries for lunch arrived, from Nell's Kitchen Restaurant & Drive-In. We took a 25-minute break to eat, and then back to the same procedural drill, and "Back-Up Plans B & C", just in case TSHTF, and the Op's "Plan A" didn't go as-planned, which it almost never does. I knew we'd be doing "B" or "C", as "A" seldom works-as-planned, so I concentrated on memorizing them. My part in all 3 Plans was the same: kill as many as I could before the Feds sent-in ground personnel and risked their lives. Natch.

I glanced out of the Conference Room window, and it was snowing very, very heavily; everyone noticed it. The room went silent. The newer MH-60L BlackHawks were specially-equipped to fly in blizzard-like conditions, like those units in Iraq and Afghanistan doing "Mother Nature's In Charge; We're Just Along For The Ride." – John D.M. Shelley II, 1996 numerous night missions on Secret NightVision Instruments. Capt Clay switched one of the screens to the Net and NWS's Site to check the most current radar maps, in realtime, not the usual 15-minute delay. It was a large snowstorm heading our way, and the winds had picked-up to 40-45knots. It was snowing so hard we couldn't even see the wind sock on the field's pole. Shit. This was going to get "bumpy", in a lot of ways. Even the Pilots weren't keen on the dangerous "icing possibilities" – night-flying was SOP for them – but "icing-up" in-flight, could be fatal for all of us in those visually-blinded choppers. It was getting very close to becoming a "total whiteout".

A USAF/DEA/BATFE decision was made to "wait and see" how bad it got. 2 de-icing trucks and a refill tanker, were called-in from HIA (Harrisburg Int'l Airport) to clean-off the 4 Blackhawks parked in the field. A "stand-down" order was given, for now. Everyone was sequestered at the AJPD, for now, and MP Guards posted at all building entrances. No one in; no one out without "special permission". The USAF Spec-Op Pilots and DEA went out in the snow to check their machinery.

I had my gear and equipment ready, and I was mentally-set for what was to come; all we needed was "Mother Nature's" cooperation. But you know how that goes. Also, my "brown camo" against the fresh, white snow would be easy-to-spot and a sitting target. I needed a couple of white bed sheets, so I rummaged through closets, drawers, shelves, boxes and bags; nothing even close. Just damn.

The Pilots and DEA/BATFE decided to "scrub the mission" for today, and would try again for a clear day, without snow, as the de-icing trucks from HIA were stuck on a side road from the airport, and there was no way any of us were going-up in those choppers. The snow got heavier and the winds howled. Capt Clay dialed-up the realtime NWS weather maps again, and it showed that the storm was "just sitting on us", with winds now up in the 45-50knot range. Files were collected, everyone was sworn to absolute secrecy, and we were "dismissed". It was over for the day. I needed to put away the weapons and gear, and go home. The DPW Trucks were plowing the best they could to keep up with it all, but it was getting ahead of them. I was glad I had my AWD Jeep Grand Cherokee, and not that shitty little rental car, from a few weeks ago.

After checking my Police-issued weapons, gear and equipment back into the Equipment Room and signing for it, I went back to my Office and went through another pile of "cold case" files Clay had put on my desk. I filed them in the same hanging folder as the other 23 he'd given me over previous weeks and months. For another time, perhaps. I closed-down my Office, said goodbye to Clay, the Deputies and Dispatcher and headed for my Jeep, which I could hardly see under all that fluffy snow. After clearing it off, and letting it warm-up, I headed back to The Cabin. The snowy roads were mostly clear. The snowy 1,000ft lane to The Cabin had been plowed by William, and I easily-navigated it. I parked under the left-side carport, disarmed the building, unloaded my weapons and gear, turned-up the heat to 78°F and greeted Jenny; at least she was happy to see me. She was very hungry and wolfed-down an entire can of food; I also refilled her 2 water bowls and dry-food bowls. I was gad to get back here and away from that Fed-run Op. It would have ruined my weekend.

Going on 16:50hrs (4:30pm), it was already getting dark just from the storm, so I grabbed a shower and some fresh clothes; then decided to make dinner: Poached Eggs & Fettucine, Roasted, Sea-Salted & Buttered Brussel Sprouts and Ocean Spray® Diet Cranberry-Pomegranate Juice. I decided to build a fire and do some reading. There was plenty of wood inside from the Firewood Stack on the Back Porch, so I fired-up the hearth, and settled back in my comfy LR chair, to do some reading – Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America by Mark Levin – and get some much-needed and well-deserved sleep. I read until 23:30hrs (11:30pm), let the fire die-down, closed the flu, turned-down the heat, checked the windows and doors, spotlight arrays, armed the building, took an Rx 12.5mg Ambien® CR™, and headed for bed, with my 2009 Kimber® 1911 "Eclipse Target II" .45cal ACP, with a couple of extra Premium 8-round Wilson Combat Magazines and my old Nokia 6060 "Clamshell" cellphone, on the nightstand next to me. Jenny was at her usual place, at the foot of the bed, within 30-seconds.

I slept-in until 07:15hrs (7:15am), and felt great from it, despite the bitter cold 18°F outside and all the fresh snowfall. I turned-up the furnace to 78°F, grabbed my Turkish Bathrobe, fed & watered Jenny, dressed and went out to shovel-off the porch and steps, and come back in to make breakfast. I decided, in dis-honor of "The 46th Anal Stupor Bowl" idiocy – can you guess that I truly *hate* it? – to have a large breakfast, while doing some laundry, put a call into Capt Clay and left a voicemail. I made Fresh-Squeezed OJ w/ lots of pulp, Sunnyside-up Eggs, Hash Browns/Fries, Country Sausage, English Muffins, and 4 mugs of French-Roast, Turkish-Grind Coffee (from whole, freshly-ground beans) with my Chemex® Drip System. I was stuffed and felt like going back-to-sleep, for another couple of hours. After doing the pans and dishes, and putting them in double-sink rack to dry, I changed Jenny's 2 litter boxes in the 2nd Bedroom and bagged-up the garbage, for William to take-out to the road, for pick-up on Monday.

The snow began melting, with temps rising to 36°F and the sun shining, and I half-expected to get a call from Clay, telling me to get back into the AJPD, and that the "meth lab mission" °F dubbed "Operation Speed-O" °F was back on, and we were going into the mountains. I was glad we hadn't gone, frankly, and that it had snowed-heavily and it was scrubbed. My porch and steps were clear, and the gravel road was also clearing with small rivers of water running across it to the snowy meadow and stream, below. I measured 14" on the right-side large deck & picnic table, before I shoveled it and the front porch. Clear-blue skies now and up to 38°F, so I guess it's over. My Cabin's Weather Station says so; "remnants" from the Midwest's recent Denver Blizzard.

It was 17:30hrs (5:30pm) and I decided to begin packing-up, leave a "list" for William-The-Caretaker, called him and told him to take-over tomorrow as I had to get back to York tonight. I refilled Jenny's food and water bowls, brushed her and rubbed her down, turned-down the furnace, stripped the bed and put another load of laundry through for William to finish-up, checked the alarm system, spotlight arrays, windows and doors, packed the Jeep, armed the building, went out the drive and headed west on the long road to I-83 South, from "The Cabin". I was back at my Condo within 20 minutes. Murphy was both happy and hungry.

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