The Mini-burger

FanFic in the Birmoverse

After America Expurgated Excerpt – JB

They weren’t regular Army and they weren’t part of the Texas National Guard. Miguel had a hard time keeping track of the differences but he did know one thing about the men and women of the Texas Defense Force. They were Governor Blackstone’s personal troops, for territorial use only, and in no way answerable to Seattle. They were also very well looked after. More than a few disaffected soldiers, sick of going months without any pay at all in the US Army, had come to his banner.

The four helicopters set down in the field across the road from the hacienda, and the down blast of their rotors had upended all of the baskets and stalls outside of Maria’s little cantina. She looked furious, but terrified too. Miguel could see the children had run back to the house and were hiding inside, peering out of the windows at the men in uniform carrying all the guns. Miguel himself had his Winchester but he had very carefully divested himself of it before approaching the troopers with his Homesteading papers and green ID card.

Fury seethed under his very skin as he approached the officer in charge, but he did his best to appear meek and eager to please. The TDF rarely appeared in this part of the state, where there were so many federal settlements. Their arrival today could not be a good thing.

“Papers,” barked the officer, a bald man with a goatee. A gringo just as blanco as the rest of the militia troops.

Miguel passed over his documents but the soldier seemed to be played charades.

“These documents are forged,” he announced without bothering to inspect them.

“No, Senor Captain, they are not,” Miguel said, curbing his natural desire to beat this fool to pulp. He produced his ace in the hole. A photograph of President James Kipper handing the Homestead Enabling Warrant to Miguel as they shook hands at the ceremony in Corpus Christi just over twelve months earlier on the deck of the U.S.S. Lexington. Governor Blackstone should have been in the photo too, but the newly elected jefe of Texas had been absent from the ceremony. “The President himself signed this warrant. And shook my hand. See here.”

The Captain did not look at the photograph. “Got a computer in your little squatter’s shanty here, Pedro?”

“Miguel, sir, and no, I do not.”

“Could have paid someone to photoshop it, sir,” another militiaman, potbellied with the stripes of a sergeant, said. “Happens all the time.”

“Yeah, think you’re right,” the Captain said as he tossed Miguel’s documents into the dust at their feet. “Doesn’t matter in any case. The State Homesteading Act of 2006 supercedes the Federal legislation. Were you aware of this, Poncho?”

Miguel kept his cool with some effort in the face of such a crude attempt to anger him. Were it just he and this puta he would have handed the asshole a beating for the ages. But nothing was served by pointless displays of machismo. Not when so many white boys were stroking automatic weapons and smiling at him.

“The citizenship classes I have taken indicate . . .”

“Stick to fifty cent words there, Poncho.”

Miguel continued, ignoring the jab, “…that Federal law takes precedence over State law.”

The militiamen and women of the Texas Defense Force stared at Miguel and his family, fingers hovering over triggers, shoulders set in determination. One snorted and spat a long stream of tobacco juice into the dirt. A long moment of silence passed, broken only by the idling blades of the Blackhawks in the middle of Miguel’s cornfield.

“The Texas Nullification Resolution of 2006,” the Captain said, “pretty much trumps whatever it is the Feds say, especially when they stick their fucking peckers into Texas business.”

“Texas is part of America,” Miguel said. “I do not understand what difference it makes. We are here legally, at the invitation of the Government of the United States of America.”

“The Government of the Republic of Texas begs to differ,” the Captain said, motioning to his Sergeant. “Read them the Act.”

The Sergeant produced a document from his green canvas map case. “You are hereby ordered to vacate the premises and arrange for transportation to a place of your choosing outside of the State of Texas. You have one hour to comply.”

Miguel took the document, which was considerably longer and more complex than the mere sentence the Sergeant read. It would take a lawyer a great deal of time to analyze the document and the nearest one was at least a day away.

“Failure to comply,” the Captain leaned forward, cigar stub in his mouth, “will be met with deadly force. Comprende, Miguel?”

His head was spinning and his vision contracting down to two small spots surrounded by a dark red haze. Blood roared in his head and at that moment he wanted nothing more than lash out at the arrogant yanqui, to drive one hammer-like fist into his smug little grin with enough force to crush every bone in his face. He might have done it too, had his daughter’s cool, shaking hand not gripped him tightly at the bicep.

“No Daddy, no, they’ll kill you,” she whispered.

The TDF Captain smiled at Sofia.

“You can stay if you wish ma’am. Or rather, you can come back with us. There’s always a place for a pretty girl back at Fort Hood, isn’t that right sergeant.”

The squat, thick-shouldered non-com nodded. “The pimps are always hiring in Kileen, Captain.”

Sofia burrowed in closer to her father.

“You ask me if I understand, Captain,” said Miguel, ignoring the insult to his daughter with extreme difficulty. “No, I do not understand. Not in the least. Where will we go?”

The captain shrugged.

“Out of Texas. South if you’re smart. Way south. So long as it is anywhere but here, it really isn’t my fucking problem.”

Miguel’s stomach contracted. He clenched his fists hard enough to pop the knuckles.

“But the bandits…”

“They aren’t not my problem either,” countered the officer.

Miguel’s temper finally got the better him. He wadded up the eviction document and threw it on the ground, prompting the militiamen to raise their weapons in his direction. “I will comply, Captain, but simply because you have all the guns.”

The captain smiled.

“Yes, he said. “We do.”

A platoon of TDF militiamen remained to ensure they were gone within the hour. Miguel was not convinced they would have shot him, or anyone, but it was a certainty there would have been some sort of violence if he had attempted to resist. As his extended family piled in to the old school bus they had salvaged from the burned out burg of Seven Oaks the cowboy burned with a shame such as he had never known before. All of the children were wailing. His wife was shaking with fear and rage. The older men, uncles Adolfo and Joquim, and Grandma Ana were all downcast and seemingly as burdened by shame as he. Fifteen of them in all climbed on to the bus, but not Miguel. Instead he led three horses up the driveway, and a mule, loaded down with travelling supplies.

As his wife laid eyes on him, she jumped down from the bus and came running over.

“What are you doing, Miguel? Where are you going?”

“Shush now Maria,” he said softly, as one of the troopers ambled over. A Corporal to judge by the stripes on her uniform. She was a bit darker than the rest with black hair like Miguel’s family.

“Trouble here, folks?” she asked, looking pointedly at her watch. “Clocks a ticking.”

“No trouble, ma’am,” Miguel answered as meekly as possible.

“Do you mind telling me where you’re taking the horses, sir?” the Corporal asked. “All plant and livestock on this ranch are deemed the common property of the Texas Republic, as per the State Homesteading Act of 2006. You can’t take them.”

Maria clutched at his arm. Her English had improved markedly over the last few years and she had no trouble understanding the trooper’s intent.

“I am sorry… Corporal,” said Miguel. “My cousin and his wife and child are staying in a small cabin at the rear of our property…”

“It’s not your property anymore, sir.”

“No, no of course not. But they are there anyway, and we need to get them. You would not want them left behind would you? And there is not vehicle access down there.”

Maria’s fingernails were digging into his bicep, painfully. There was no cousin, nor any cabin at the back of the ranch. Miguel was lying

The sun had climbed high overhead and blazed down without the relief of a breeze or the promise of clouds. The corporal was sweating under her helmet and body armor. Her squad, standing a short distance away, were sucking on their camelbaks, wilting in the unusual spring heat.

“Get on the bus,” Miguel said quietly to his wife. “Manuel can drive.”

“Are we gonna be here all day, Corporal?” one of the troopers called out. “Beers gonna be gone by the time we get back to the Hood.”

Miguel’s eyes never left the corporal’s. He attempted to keep his face as neutral as possible, but if she detailed somebody to escort him to pick up his ‘cousin’ the whole story would fall apart. The Corporal, her name tape read “Rog,” held his gaze for a long moment, until he was sure she had seen right through him. She turned and examined the sorry spectacle of his family on the battered old school bus, the one they driven to the nearest church a hundred miles away, every Sunday since they had arrived. As the trooper regarded them dispassionately, his heartbeat seemed to slow and deepen inside his chest… and then, turning back to him, she smiled, not unkindly, and nodded.

“Well sir,” she said, “I suppose it would a be mercy to my men not to have to drag their lazy asses all the way down to pick up your… cousin, was it?”

She lifted one eyebrow, just perceptibly.

“Yes ma’am, my cousin. I will get him and his family and meet up with the bus at College Station. There is a militia post there, where I can leave the horses.”

Miguel kept his poker face in place, but the corporal’s gaze softened and she nodded.

“Be careful on that little trip then, sir,” she warned him. “We have patrols out all over the county. In Freestone and Navarro counties too. You wouldn’t want to blunder into them by accident. Travel restrictions and all. We’ve been shooting freebooters on sight.”

Miguel regarded the woman mutely. She knew he was lying. She knew he had no intention of leaving the horses at College Station. Was she playing a game with him? Did she intend to let him run and then hunt him down? But what would be the point of it? She could shoot every one of his family members and he knew nothing would come of it. She might even be commended for the action.

“Best be on your way then, sir.” she said, quietly.

Miguel decided to chance his hand.

“But where, corporal, where should we go?”

“You mean after you meet up with your family at College Station, sir?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I wouldn’t head north or west. Not in that bus anyway. If you have fuel enough I’d do exactly as the captain suggested…”

Miguel was convinced she managed to layer a hint of contempt into the word ‘captain’.

“South?” he asked.

“Most of the evictees are headed that way, sir. And if you were concerned about bandits, you’d be best trying to link up with one of the larger refugee groups. If you can get from College across to Huntsville in the next forty-eight hours, you’ll find a sizeable group travelling down Highway 45.”

“Thank you, corporal,” he said.

She waved him away as she returned to her men.

“Just get yourself gone, sir. And make it quick.”

Miguel led the horses over to the battered yellow bus, where the cries and sobs of his family had at least died down. His nephew Manuel was already behind the wheel, looking very proud of himself in spite of the distressing events. Maria hopped off the bottom step where she had been sitting waiting for him.

“What is going on, Miguel. What are you doing?”

He leaned in to kiss her on the forehead and spoke quietly.

“I am going to get help. I am going to save our ranch,” he said. “But you must get the family safely away from here first, away from Blackstone’s men.”

“No, no you must come with us,” she protested.

“Maria, I cannot,” he said firmly. “We cannot go back to Mexico. You know what it is like down there. We will not survive two days over the border. No, you must get to Corpus Christi. The Federal Resettlement Authority there will look after you.”

“But what about you, Miguel. Where are you going?”

He stared hard at the small squad of the Texas troopers.

“I am going to talk to the only man who can help us,” he replied, as he gingerly brushed off the documents that the TDF captain had thrown into the dirt.

His Homestead Enabling Warrant and the much-treasured picture of Presidente Kipper shaking his hand.

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23 October, 2009 - Posted by | Without Warning

6 Comments »

  1. Fuck I’m feeling angry after reading this. Not actually a true story and all, but still…angry.

    Comment by David Jackmanson | 25 October, 2009 | Reply

  2. Really enjoyed that. I cannot wait for the novel itself.

    Comment by paulboylan | 14 November, 2009 | Reply

  3. You’ve sucked me in. I’ve been wondering about how a post-America America might happen.

    Comment by Annette | 23 November, 2009 | Reply

  4. Historically, what’s happening here isn’t at all uncommon in certain periods of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas’s history…. however in this particular situation, there ain’t enough Good O’le Boys to make it stick for very long. The need for American Citizens on the land is too great for it to go on. Blackstone isn’t going to like the PR backlash – and the accusations of him and his administration being bigoted and racist. The Feds have a vested interest in putting a stop to this sort of thing… I suspect that the Texas Defense Force is in for a very rude and abrupt suprsise when the Feds take exception to that line about ““The State Homesteading Act of 2006 supercedes the Federal legislation.” and the line about ““The Texas Nullification Resolution of 2006,” the Captain said, “pretty much trumps whatever it is the Feds say, especially when they stick their fucking peckers into Texas business.” and “The Government of the Republic of Texas begs to differ,” the Captain said, motioning to his Sergeant. “Read them the Act.” will definatly put Blackstone in a very poor positi9on…. Ain’t gonna be a Civil War II…. no sir… The Feddies will stomp this one flat asap.

    Comment by tygertim | 9 December, 2009 | Reply

  5. Expurgated or expectorated?

    I quote:

    “Miguel passed over his documents but the soldier seemed to be played charades.”

    Huh?

    Comment by robW | 23 January, 2010 | Reply

  6. Okay, I apologize for my remark. That’s why I’m not a book editor any more. I used to make the writers cry & the boss was constantly calling me into the office and asking whether it was possible if I could show more tact.

    Apparently I couldn’t do it, so they moved me into script writing and film production. I made assistant producers, camera men, set dressers, editors, and script writers cry.

    So they moved me into a new department they had just created called “multimedia”. Now I make programmers cry.

    I’m sorry if I made you cry. I apologize.

    But…

    “Miguel passed over his documents but the soldier seemed to be played charades.”

    Huh?

    Comment by robW | 23 January, 2010 | Reply


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