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My Drink With Ernest

December 26, 2014

“I thought they were mocking me at first.”

“Mocking you?”

He took another sip of the rum, then smelled it. He had to find the words.

“Thought he was an operative or something. See…I had a couple of days… happened twice I think. Couple of days where I caught myself talking aloud to myself. Happened once, I think… then a few weeks later lasted a day or two. That was about as bad as that part got.

“It’s like… having a silent buzzing in your head. You can’t hear it, but you know it’s there because you can’t hear yourself think. You have to speak aloud to put thoughts together.”

A swig this time.

“But turned out he wasn’t faking. He was a message.”

Another sip. A glance at the tumbler from the side.

“‘This is what we could do to you.’ The poor sonuvabitch was talking to his own fist, ferchrissakes. Having a grand time, whatever it was they were talking about.

“But he still managed to get up and put on the ‘uniform.’ Guatemala… Chile… Argentina… Honduras maybe. Might even have been Cuba, I suppose.”

He grabbed the bottle of Bacardi and flashed his companion the logo as emphasis. He poured a little more.

“The message became clear. ‘We’ll take care of you…but you won’t be in any condition to take much care of yourself.’

“It’s like… assassination of the mind. I mean, why do that? Why not kill him?”

He paused again. Then he put the bottle down and swirled the glass.

“Because he serves as an example. I’m not the only one to pass through Minneapolis like that. They want you to know what happens to naughty boys. And you can bet that ‘naughty’ in this case means knowing something about some powerful asshole… nothing to do with national security…that’s a joke. Can’t think of any other reason to keep him around unless he had a powerful family member or something. He’s a scarecrow.

“And that, my friend, is why there aren’t many whistleblowers. Kiriakou was lucky in that regard, I suppose. His story went public quickly, DoJ got involved. He was visible. Guys like this guy, not so lucky. Forget Frank Olson and flying out the window: this takes you immediately to walking vegetable for any practical purposes. You may as well be the last man who speaks a lost, unwritten language. No one would understand what you said and if–if!–you somehow managed to get a piece of it out there somewhere in the odd lucid moment, the rest of your demeanor would quickly undercut anything you had to say.

“It is the goddamdest demented family from Hell I can imagine, assuming there is anything approaching the milk of kindness in not just… shooting him in the face and throwing him out of a plane. I don’t know, maybe he knows something they think might be useful one day. Maybe there’s another possibility I haven’t thought of. But that’s the basic message sent to me.

“Now, obviously the Republicans won’t, don’t, wouldn’t give a shit. They only care about some unborn fetuses and rich, white, Christian men. The rest they consider dupes or enemies.

“But the Democrats… do you really think they give a shit either? Really?

“Because what it breaks down to is… this other stuff… this is slavery. Those poor bastards, despite–or because of!–training, or with none at all… whenever these events happen… those people just don’t think they have another choice.

“I mean that’s what it’s all about, right? Coke or Pepsi, f—er?”

He took another drink.

“Sorry, don’t mean you. This is why don’t drink anymore. Much. Heh.

“But that’s what I mean. It doesn’t have to be remote-goddam-control. It just has to be ballpark. And they can–I assure you–get you to the f—ing ballpark almost as easily as snatching you up in a van, hogtieing you, and dropping your ass on the picther’s mound. It’s just about limited choices, breaking you down… making you think that this is the easier way out, whether that’s plugging some random strangers, cops, black cigarette salesmen, or lighting yourself on fire.

“Where I come from–heh, came from–that’s slavery. That sound like something a group of folks concerned with personal liberties would engage in? Short pain or longterm pain: your choice.

“And it doesn’t matter as long as you stay in the ballpark, even if you screw up so bad that you get snatched up by the cops or FBI before you do it. The acts all do the same basic thing: make us blame all the wrong people and crap our pants. This results in more freedom and money for the spooks and less for us and anything else.

“These people are not superheroes. What do we think they do all day, rescue cats from trees? Altruism has nothing to do with what they do. It’s about funneling money to some of the greedy elite.

“Because we are getting rippped off. In all sorts of ways. There is a f—ing black hole of greed out there and it no longer cares how it gets fed, only that it does. And stuff like I described about that neighbor of mine is one way they maintain discipline.

“So, I don’t know the answer to your main unasked question. I only know what is happening and how it doesn’t much square with what you believe… what I once believed… what we want to believe. So square it however you like, but square it. PSYOPed, bought, intimidated, blackmailed… or a liar from the start. Don’t know. Just square it. Please.

“Because this is only going to get worse and it’s not even the only front, the only problem. It’s just the main one that’s going to start a civil war. And they are ready for it. They are ready for it because they planned it and they want it. Think for a minute about the assassination memo. They will drop key people like flies first f—ing thing. Another reason why we needed Snowden: to know they are keeping tabs on everybody.

“That’s basically it. It’s always about furthering their goals, the big stuff. And their plans don’t much include the rest of us except as cannon fodder, slaves, walking ATMs, enforcers against each other, distractions… We’re just pawns now. You and me.”

He tilted the glass.

“I know. Hard to come to terms with. You think you run your own ship. Then you find out you’ve just been–when it comes to many aspects–the figurehead and there’s a team of gremlins running things from the basement. Not pleasant. Not pleasant at all.

“F—ing mixed metaphor,” he downed the rest.

“Anyway. I think that’s probably more than you even wanted to know. I hope it clarified something. Thanks for the drink.”

He got up to leave.

“Wait. Wait a sec. What happened to him?”

“Him?”

“The guy. The neighbor.”

“Oh. Well, I tried to offer him a booklet. Let him know to hang in there. That I’d send help or something I guess. He refused.”

“Booklet?”

“Cliffs Notes, really.”

He reached back and pulled a folded booklet from his back pocket and tossed it on the table and walked out.

The drinking companion slid it over and unfolded the cover:

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

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The 'uniform'

The ‘uniform’

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