He looked out the port side window of the aircraft noticing the outboard engine trailing a thin stream of smoke out of one of the exhaust pipes . It was a wonder that the four ancient turbo-compounds even lifted the old Constellation off the ground, let alone allowing the worn out aircraft to maintain 260 knots at 23,000 feet. The well used Wright power plants emitted their deep rumbling drone as the hours passed. He sat in the front of the aircraft, first class seating and bulkhead with a tiny lavatory having been stripped out of other aircraft and installed in this old freighter owned and operated by Air Alaska. Mismatched colors, threadbare stained fabric of the seating , and carpet that matched the seats, not in color but at the end of its service life. The olive-green duct tape holding the window trim in a couple of the windows is what really set off the interior decor and seemed to have been used liberally throughout the cabin and probably the rest of the plane. Behind the reinforced bulkhead the rear of the aircraft was filled with various cargo and machinery netted and tied down to the floor, loaded through a large cargo door at the rear of the fuselage. Four gray mail sacks were in the rear starboard sets across the aisle from the lavatory. He didn’t know what was in the belly of the plane, they had a hard enough time getting the old turd off the ground from Forbes Field and later a refueling stop in Canada.
In a bullshit session with one of the pilots, he had found out that Air Alaska had a couple of Globemaster 2’s, three Constellation Super G’s, a C-130, a Douglas DC-7C, a couple DC-3’s, assorted smaller aircraft and helicopters. The pilot said they also had a couple leased Boeing jets, they mostly flew out of Anchorage for overseas work so he rarely saw them. The Alaska military and oilfields usually had the Globemasters and C-130, so the pilots did most of their work with the Constellations and the Douglas DC 7. When he asked the pilot about the old ragtag aircraft, he simply said times were hard and the federal government of the lower 48 didn’t trust them with the new stuff. The older rigs were more easily repaired by the primitive shops available in the far north anyway.
They didn’t fuck around, they wanted him gone. After the Fairness Committee hearing a well-used container had been dropped in his driveway the next day. They gave him 30 days to load it and get his paperwork together. Several friends were going to help him pack and load out, some of them given paid leave by their employers approved by the Fairness Committee. The committee wanted him to hit the road, “relocated for the country’s best interest as well as his own” to the Commonwealth of Alaska. In addition to getting his shit packed, he had a checklist of places he had to go to pick up records, a relocation order, and other such documents to leave the lower 48. Then he had to turn in his vehicles to be transported to his new home. He felt like he was being moved to another country and in fact was doing just that. He had loaded all his prepping gear/supplies and left most of the furniture, only taking a few pieces and some appliances. He loaded all his tools and equipment out of the garage, no small task. He drained his gas cans in his vehicles and small Ford tractor. One of his friends crated up his torch sets as the Alaskan transportation people had requested. He took all his firearms, accessories and ammunition. He had talked to the Alaska liaison at Forbes Field , no problem as long as none of them were full auto. They didn’t even give a shit about sawed off shotguns. He had no idea what the hell they would do with him in Alaska, expecting to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere. Finally the container was loaded and braced. They picked it up early the next day as he was turning in his vehicles and tractor at Forbes for transport. His friends had helped him with his vehicles, last-minute errands, and given him a ride home. He had finished everything with two days to spare but had no idea when his flight out was so it really didn’t matter, the transportation people said they would call him. Meanwhile, he would stay in his house, he didn’t think HUD would have it sold any time soon. He gave what was left in the house to his friends, they would clean it out after dropping him off for his flight. It was no small thing, times were hard and folks needed every scrap they could get. Now it was a waiting game.
The insurrection been short but brutal, lasting about a year and sending Americas economy over the edge joining the rest of the planet in a severe depression. Much of the destruction was on the east and west coasts but Americas heartland hadn’t been totally spared. The Clinton government was so inept and its military dumbed down, weakened by desertion and incompetence of politically appointed leaders that the rebels had nearly won the war in the first six months. Many of the guard and reserve units, law enforcement, and regular military in the Midwest and South had sworn allegiance to the rebel cause and Constitution. Most of the special operations people gone over to the rebel cause but the shortages of spare parts, ammunition and other supplies of war had caught up with the rebel army, air force and navy. The American government had been getting supplied by countries in the Middle East, the war turned in their favor. The federal troops had tried to end the war by doing an end run and invading Texas from the Gulf not far from Houston. The Texans were waiting and kicked the shit out of them, capturing tons of equipment and supplies. The rebels had their own little surprise planned, coming up from the southern states and parking just outside of Washington. The Feds didn’t know the rebels were there.
He knew he was way fucking east but wasn’t sure how far. He had been on the road for about a week, driving the old bus in convoys mostly at night. Much of the time he wasn’t even sure what state he was in. He had parked and shut down the bus behind a treeline in what appeared to be an unused and seldom maintained park. He had stepped of the bus, trying to get his bearings in the dark while the rebel troops unloaded with their gear and being directed by an old nco to take up positions in the treeline supporting a 40 millimeter Bofors automatic cannon already positioned there. He moved around to the front of the bus as not to be in the way a pair of captured Russian T-90 tanks rumbled down the gravel road the bus had been on, then turning through the treeline to the north. Then one hell of a fire fight broke out. The “boompa….boompaa” as the 40 mike-mike fired a couple raging shots the ” bompbompbomp” as the gun went auto. The two tanks engaged enemy armor right in front of them, the loud booms of the main guns adding to the unholy racket of war. One of the friendly tanks was hit by a couple of rockets, exploding into flames while the other tried to back out of the firefight. Rebel infantry and spec ops were filtering back through the tree line as the stutter of a machine gun and the pops of the rifles held up Federal infantry and supporting armored vehicles. He saw two teams of Rebel troops armed with Carl Gustav recoilless rifles being instructed by the old nco he had seen earlier, then the teams disappeared into the trees. He figured this treeline was about to be over run but that Bofors, recoiless rifles and remaining tank that had taken up position at the east end of the treeline were about to make things very hot for the Feds pressing them. He was putting on his body armor and helmet as the old nco jogged up telling him to haul ass. Federal armor was about into the treeline and trying to flank the rebels. The nco said he couldn’t stop the Feds but had some very nasty surprises for them, the old bus needed the be gone. Some of the spec op guys and wounded had already filled the bus, one of them giving him instructions to travel down the maintenance road to the south as he started the bus and pulled forward. As he turned down the old gravel track he heard the recoiless rifles fire. Shortly after that the sky lit up as day as the flares fired by Federal gunners popped overhead. That treeline wasn’t gonna be there long….
He had been accused of being a leader in the rebellion, it was the main reason he was being deported. That was a fuckin’ joke. Yeah, he had a couple of names and was involved in some shady shit but mainly he had been driving a worn out gypsy bus to the “front” with supplies and guerillas, ferrying back worn out and wounded fighters. It sucked but was mostly dull hurry up and wait with moments of extreme danger. Didn’t matter now as the container was being unloaded in front of his “new” house or what appeared to be a nice shack / log home / shop / garage with a heavy stone foundation and fireplace in the home portion. For the most part surrounded by tall trees and forest vegetation not far outside of town. His new neighbor was a seamstress named Wendy whom he had known on the lower 48. She had hired a few men and women she knew to offload the container into his new home. It was already afternoon, turning cold and the container was going to be picked up early the next morning unloaded or not. Much of the stuff went into the basement or the large shop garage attached to the east side of the house.He had checked his vehicles and tractor that had been parked in the large garage, all seemed to be in good condition after their long journey. As Wendy paid off the people who had helped them unload the container, a green Toyota 4 wheel drive suv of the Alaska State Troopers turned into his drive. The vehicle appeared to be new and well decked out for rough country, heavy steel bumper with winch standing out. The light bar, emblems and antennas were the only things that looked police on this rig, everything else were pure bush. Wendy waved and left as a large man stepped out if the vehicle, giving his name and explaining he was the old mans sponsor. He was dressed in the rough heavy clothing of a hunter. Heavy boots, brown canvas pants, gray wool shirt and a thick fur cap. An automatic handgun and a badge were worn on his heavy leather belt. He handed the old man a large manilla envelope full of paperwork to fill out and a multipage checklist in the order things needed to be done, appointment times/places and such as that. His sponsor explained to him that the checklist needed to be followed exactly, appointments on time starting Monday. The trooper had gone to no small effort setting all of this up and wanted the old man settled as quickly as possible. Well at least he had another day to fill out some of the forms. Almost an afterthought the trooper walker to the rear of the truck, unlatched the fuel can/tire rack, swung it out-of-the-way and opened the tailgate. He then set out what appeared to be a large heavy sailors duffle with a canvas rifle scabbard tied to the side and several bandoliers of olive drab cotton draped over the scabbard and a fair-sized boot box. He explained that this was the old mans winter survival kit, the reason for the form that asked all his sizes in the lower 48. The trooper closed up the rack and tailgate then they exchanged phone numbers and the trooper said he would stay in touch to check his progress. His sponsor shook hands, got back in his vehicle and backed out of the drive. The old man felt disoriented, alone and lost as he had many years ago after joining the Army.
The next month passed quickly, the old man was busy every day. First day was the bank and currency exchange, setting up an account then trading out the old greenbacks for the new Alaskan money. That afternoon was the local V/A hospital, enrolling and making sure his Tricare was squared away. Future medical and dental physicals were scheduled. The Alaskan housing office was the next day, then the Alaskan benefits office that afternoon. The third day was the employment office, that was an all day affair. The fourth day he started a two-day resettlement class mainly focusing on the laws, economy, and government of the Alaskan Republic. After that he started losing track, the days turned into a blur. If he hadn’t had a checklist he would have been totally lost. Well if nothing else he was learning the area, neighbor Wendy and her husband giving him directions when needed.
The sky was a dark, heavy gray in what was late afternoon in the far north. The air was bitter cold, the sky spitting sleet and snow being propelled by a biting wind. The DC 7 C sat outside of the terminal unloading passengers , luggage and freight. The old man had talked with the flight engineer, the aircraft had been loaded to capacity and was literally the last flight out of the lower 48 since the state of emergency had been declared by Governor Palin. A fuel truck pulled up and started unrolling hoses, adding to a crowd of mechanics, catering/supply truck, tugs and the baggage crew. The flight engineer said they were trying to get a fast turnaround, trying to get the plane off the ground before the weather turned, destination the far east. The flight engineer shook his hand and walked off , leaving the old man to scan the passengers for the ones he was looking for. He traded the frigid cold outside the for the cool of the terminal baggage and freight area. He found those he was looking for and it appeared that they were in trouble.
Well worn tile floors, old plastic blue benches, chipped and peeling tan paint. Stacks of boxes, and luggage on carts. Yeah, they were in hot water. Wrong paperwork, no relocation order, and on and on. Where in the hell had she come up with an infant? He knew about the two girls, but didn’t think she would bring the little boy. Who the hell did the infant belong to? While the lady trooper from the highway patrol went through a handful of paperwork with her his sponsor had shown up in uniform, handed the old man a copy of the Alaska Free Press, and started talking to him about what was going on. Yeah buddy, this was gonna suck the big hairy nutsack straightening this fucking mess out. The old man asked him what would happen to them, was told the local lockup for the night, Fort Wainwright in the morning. Neither a good thing. The old man suggested that he take them to his place, wasn’t like they could run anywhere. That way the police wouldn’t have to deal with them, like they didn’t have other shit to do. The trooper agreed, said he would make a few calls and would see what he could work out. Meanwhile he was told to chill for a while, not hard as it was getting cold as a bitch outside. The old man took the time to scan the paper, world going to hell, riots all over Europe. State of Emergency in Alaska, taxes and practically all prices to go up. All transport between Alaska and the lower 48 was suspended. Trouble in eastern Canada…..Etc…. Lower 48 was fucked, riots in the east, nothing new there. Starting to snow in earnest. He folded up the paper and pulled up the collar on his Carhartt chore coat as he stepped out in to the biting cold. Heard the deep rumble of the big radials and watched them pull the Douglas toward a distant runway through the sleet and snow.
She was in the truck with him, heading for his place. Snowing hard now, he was doing ok as the truck had four-wheel drive. Wendy, along with all the kids, struggled behind in the Dodge minivan. Well, at least the Dodge had started this time so Wendy could help him haul everybody back to the homestead. She didn’t say much, just small talk about where everybody will sleep as there was only an old full-sized bed in the master bedroom. it was getting late as they pulled up his drive. As they worked at getting everybody and everything inside, Wendy said she would drive back to her house and bring back a pot of chicken and noodles she had prepared for the following evening. Comments made by his guests about when their last meal was made this impromptu late night dinner a welcome thing. He tried to get everybody settled, using a laundry basket with a couple of towels and a pillowcase to make a bed for the infant. The boy could sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor in the master bedroom along with mom and girls in the bed. The old man set up a cot for himself in the living room/dining area with the table and four chairs, then started working on a fire in the fireplace insert. Wendy had arrived with food so now there was a pleasant aroma of cooking among the table, boxes, and debris of moving. Wendy had left for the night and he finally got everyone bedded down . As he lay down on the cot his head was spinning with everything that needed to be done in the morning, starting with a mega-trip to the grocery store. He hoped the roads were cleared. It was gonna be a long and interesting winter and winter was just getting started.