Beyond the Western
The two tight comrades of the new company thereabouts, Charlie Threadbalm and Chris Walkabout, spent every spare minute off the job hunting in the woods and trails of Tennessee’s mountains practically as good as they were on the job.
This time out, they were in a strange new area, taking a rest, when Chris held his hand up for silence, and immediately ducked low behind a log fall. Charlie followed suit, the two of them hearing the voice of Police Chief Jubal Jawson booming out of the woods. Jawson, for your information, was as crooked and as strong as his voice, and the two hunters realized they had wandered into Jawson country, often heard about, but never talked about, not in daily, overheard talk, tell-tale talk, highly incendiary and informative talk, a breath of it enough to put one into a Jawson jail and few if any explanations offered up; mysteries upon mysteries, folks unaccounted for, perhaps, “Gone to the West Coast on a long visit,” hence, never seen again.
Jawson had many enemies, like a mountainside of them, but nothing was ever said publicly, not a word, all the hush and talk behind closed doors. Now Jawson was as open as ever heard, and only the two hunting pals in secret hearing range, evermore unable to swear what they heard Jawson say as he spoke to owned-underlings.
“I’m telling you guys how it’s goin down. We get blabber-mouth George Childers up here, tell him if he does any more of his chah chah stuff on the radio, we grab his wife and two daughters and get them up here. That’ll scare the shit out of him. He’ll never open his mouth again.”
“When’ll we do it, boss? He’s always on the run. Never sits in one place too long knowing we’re watching, listening.”
Jawson bragged again. “I got his schedule down to the minute. Next week, on Saturday, he’s at the Fayesville Library dropping some more lies about us. We grab him on the way home on a lonely stretch of road, bring him and his car right up here. Nobody, as we all know, ever dares comes near here. It’ll be a cinch to scare the living hell out of him for a few years, by then, we’ll be off to one of the islands, away from this shithole of a world. Now, let’s light out of here and go make the final plans in my house. Nobody goes near there either.”
Several cars geared up and took off down the mountainside.
The silence came back, a whisper of a breeze touched a few treetops, whistled softly off a rock-faced wall, then was zippered silent. It was ominous, the silence.
Chris Walkabout said, “Charlie, this will be our only chance to fix Jubal for good. He deserves it. So do the folks here on the maintain. So, do we.”
They planned the whole deal right there behind the fallen log that had kept them from sight. Ideas were traded, re-thought, equipment discussed, measurements were made, the whole picture came to fruition of a sort, the visions fixed in their minds.
Off the hill, back in town, they gathered or borrowed equipment, swore renters to gloried-silence of something great afoot, and said no more. Trust was evidenced to their contacts, by both curiosity and hope of something good or great coming to Jubal Jawson’s crooked little empire, the town itself, lock, stock and border. Even as evening wore on, pacts made, collection of gear made, they began to be concerned about timing, a leak in one handshake might carry them off in a new disappearing action, chance discovery, and hastened their speed.
Charlie Threadbalm was the most nervous, and Chris tried to get him strictly back in line: “Charlie,” Chris said, a hand on Charlie’s shoulder, squeezing that shoulder in a kind of transference, “we could be in this jail of a town for our whole lives unless we get this done. Just think what some folks are thinking about right now, that there’s some kind of relief in the wind, and we’re it, Charlie. We’re it. There’s only us until someone shoots Jubal or runs him own on the road. It’s up to us. Neither one of us can shoot him down or run him down on the road. That’s not us to do something like that. But we got something else to do it with. Some other way to do it, and we’re part ways there, whether you realize it or not.”
Charlie replied, “I always knew you were stronger than me. But now, like you say, I’ve got a chance. Let’s do it,”
Chris almost let go a loud “Hoorah!” but accepted Chris’s solid handshake, saw his eyes light up.
They drew a small map of the cabin and the location, all points done by memory. It looked neat and trim, and loaded with danger from any angle; Jubal or any other crooked member of his staff, his gang, his highly-paid confederates. The actions were assigned, Charlie took the outside assignment, Chris would do the cabin. Inside, needing cover, camouflage, any type that thwarted identification of hidden equipment; an alarm of recognition would blast it all to kingdom come.
Charlie, using an old ladder, mounted a tree, snugged a small camera underneath a strong and thick branch, managed to place bark to hide much of it, was satisfied. The camera covered the whole front of the cabin. He put the ladder ends back in the same foot-holes that they were lifted from. He promised himself he would not interfere with Chris’s work in the cabin. After all, Chris was the smartest of the two of them, by a longshot.
The pair of New Wave Info Inc (NWII) compatriots compared notes, sent a radio wave to initiate action, were satisfied with results; all they had to do was trigger the radio wave control when necessary, and that could be accomplished from miles away if necessary.
When Saturday came around, slow as a turtle on land, they waited in roadside brush for Jubal Jawson and his accomplices come along the mountain road with newsman George Childers in tow, another prisoner for Jubal’s cabin where threats were not implied but harshly applied in one manner or another.
Chris threw the switch. Jubal Jawson’s mountain stronghold was live to the onsite-cameras, inside and outside. Every threat made, every word said, every slap and bodily punch, every implied nudge at sudden death, were caught on film, recorded for history, alive to the whole mountain, to the state, to Federal authorities, to the world in general via a video from New Wave Info Inc (NWII), in the local newspapers in black print, to the talk of the mountain.
But there was some clean-up to do, the necessary removal of some of the notorious scumbags, the killers, the cruel-as-hell subordinates that took special joy in providing pain and deprival of all sorts from quiet mountain folk. For that end of clean-up, cane a few volunteers, specialists in their own right, like a U.S. Marine Corps sniper squad headed by a memorable mountain boy, Tricka Flix, just back from one war and ready to fight another one.
The story about Tricka was a mountain treasure; his mother, Haida Ada Flix, not ever thinking of her boy getting caught up with Jubal in any manner, smuggled him out of the little schoolhouse on the mountain, where began Jubal’s real indoctrination of new comrades and subordinates, and then smuggled him downhill, all the way to a relative’s house, with trusted folk at the helm, in the eastern end of Tennessee.
He excelled at that setting, joined the Marine Corps at 14 posing as his 17-year-old cousin, Knox Berryman, and in that pseudonym, and under that cover, became a hero, an exalted Lieutenant of snipers and sharpshooters (the long-range kind) and winner of a galaxy of medals and war awards in far wars.
They’d follow him to Hell and back, that group, and had done just that in Far East combat. Now he marshalled them, armed, in Tennessee mountains.
From a long-range position, behind fallen logs on which they settled their weapons, they took aim, when directed, at especially unsavory characters in Jubal Jawson’s gang. In this setting, they excelled, firing three weapons through the open front door of Jubal’s hideout and killing three murderers at the same table, at the exact same time.
Jubal scampered for cover, but they had no directions as yet for him, those awaiting a final directive, the last bad apple in the barrel. But they did away with two other killers, kidnappers and jail-breakers before the day was done, marking them through two separate windows, and getting the targets. Small joys filled Haida Ada, who hugged her son and each member of his team before she suggested they go back to camp, another battle won, this hidden ribbon to become part of Tennessee lore.
Real fear, the thoughts of a total revolution, trembled clean through Jubal’s gang; they crumbled as a group. Jubal Jawson and two of his compatriots went missing, were found months later on a Caribbean island, and summarily detained by local authorities for deportation to appropriate authorities on the Tennessee mountain.
Things there went from Jubal to jubilation, like pay-back’s the new deal. There’s nothing like it this side of mountain joy.