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Bugout! A Novel Coronavirus Novel Ch. 123

On her way out of town, Doreen drove by what was left of Big Bob’s Booze and Burgers after the Mafia burned down the property for the insurance money. Smoke still drifted skyward from hot spots that ignited occasionally from the still-smoldering structure.

A singed noose with its thick knot was all that remained of the gallows white nationalist Big Bob built to lynch white supremacist Capt. Jones. With both men dead and gone to their just rewards the local white power movement offered no more leadership. And with Sterling in federal custody on shaky anarchist/agitator riot charges after picking goose down from his teeth after the mob tar-and-feather party, he was too afraid to snitch on anybody.

Countless people just like these losers spelled doom in capital letters for the republic. Had they been around when slave-owning floundering fathers held the whip and declared their independence, the vision of a beautiful land from sea to shining sea would still be a fantasy rather than the chaotic and unfulfilled promise of the American Dream. Even with the Constitution, the promise of liberty and justice for all now turned upside down.

With Trump’s re-election campaign counting down like a ticking time bomb, bigotry fueled the unholy crusade and Trump’s demented base of support. Trump gave them permission to be as nasty as they want to be and proud of it. Trump fiddled while America burned.

For now, Doreen’s job was done.

Case closed.

As Doreen pulled the car to the curb, she heard a whimper.

Big Bob’s poor, dumb dog, Clancy, sat like a statue where the front door to the once booming unlicensed bar and restaurant once stood. Looking off into the sunset, the heartbroken mutt waited obediently for somebody, anybody, to feed him, walk him, pet him or acknowledge him. Charred wooden cinders stuck to his uncombed fur. His green eyes looked like stones covered with pond scum. His long tongue dripped foamy white saliva on this terribly hot day.

Clancy sat frozen in fear.

Noble beast that he once was, Clancy now dreaded his own shadow. Big Bob, mean dumb galoot that he was, always looked out for Clancy. Now, with Big Bob dead and buried, Clancy had nobody to look out for him except himself. Any fool could see how that was working out.

Doreen stepped from the car and slowly approached the pathetic pooch. So nervous he started scratching behind his ear with his hind leg, Clancy wore a look of sheer surrender. Turning his head away from Doreen, he looked over his shoulder to avoid her gaze.

Hi, Buddy, Doreen said.

A tiny puddle appeared beneath Clancy’s raggedy butt.

It’s OK, Buddy, Doreen said.

Reaching into her shoulder bag where she kept an extra gun, Doreen pulled out a ripe banana, peeled the fruit and bit off the top and offered the rest to Clancy. Too weak to avoid a sniff, the dog moved toward the treat and gulped the banana in one bite.

Reaching to pet him, she felt the matted fur. She looked into his eyes. She heard his soft cry. With tears sliding down her cheeks she turned and walked away. Clancy stopped his tail in mid-wag.

But when Doreen got to the car, instead of opening the driver’s side door, she opened the back door. Turning to face the jittery dog, she said the magic words.

Want to go for a ride, Buddy?

Like an unbeaten thoroughbred race horse on steroids charging from the starting gate, flea-bitten Clancy burst from his lonely mental prison and rushed the car, diving headfirst into the back seat. Say goodbye to the bad old days, you mangy mutt. A new beginning for the dejected beast Doreen now christened Buddy with love lived to bark another day.

As for Doreen, she wasn’t going to Portland or Seattle or any other place that goddamn William Barr ordered her to fight American dissent in a time of pandemic disease and death, a toxic economy and a new civil rights struggle on fire.

America needed more protest not less.

If Doreen was going to infiltrate any terrorist group, she was going to infiltrate her own government injustice department.

As a title, whistleblower sounded far better than attorney general.

Screw him.

And the Trump he rode in on.