Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The Revolutionary Life - From Freedom's Sons, Part Two

Later on that night, Robert  Campbell stopped  by  his  sister’s  house,  the Chancellor’s official residence on  campus.  Jenny  was  getting her own children  to bed, and then she came down and joined her brother and her husband in the living room.  The  once  pretty  girl  had become  a  mature  and beautiful matron  of strength and  dignity,  and  Jason  was  now  entering  an  early   middle  age, which  one understood would be the prime of his life. 

“You know I always envied the hell out of you two,” Bobby confessed to them, although he’d said it before. “The lives you led with the NVA. I was just a kid at the time, and I know that like most kids I was romanticizing danger and violence and terror into some thing it isn’t. I’ve picked up that much in the cops. But now this thing has come up. I can’t tell you any of the details, and I can’t tell you why I of all people drew the short straw and got picked for  this,  but  I  guess  you  can  figure  out  that  I’m  not  going  undercover  to  bust  car thieves  or  burglary  gangs  in  Seattle.  I’m  going  Out  There,  and  it’s  going  to  be pretty hairy.”

“The Circus?” asked Jason.

“Yeah. I  want to  ask  you  two:  how  do  you  do  it?  How  do  you  move  and function  and  fight  and  survive  in  it  all?  I  imagine  it  must  be  like  a  diver  at  the bottom of the sea in one of those old-fashioned suits with the brass helmet and the air hose, having to watch every step and make sure you don’t get tangled or sucked into anything, but I don’t really know what that means. How do you do it? How do you get the job done and come back alive? I have a lot to come back to.”

“I know,” said Jason sympathetically.

“Any tips?” he asked.

“Rule  number  one,”  said  Jason.  “Stay  focused,  as  psycho-babblish  as  that sounds. Always be aware of your surroundings. Know where you are, know where everything is, know who is around you and where. When you go into a room, you register  every  single  person  in  it,  every  exit,  every  object.  Watch  people.  Every move they make, every word they say, every gesture, anything that marks them as a friend or a foe, or in most cases neither, just part of the shifting scenery. But you have  to  be  able  to  tell  the  difference.  You  start  drifting  or  daydreaming  about Millie  and  the  kids  and  you’ll  end  up lying  on  a  gurney  dressed  in  orange  with  a needle sticking in your arm, and they will never see you again.”

“Never  forget  who  you’re  supposed  to  be,”  said  Jenny.  “Be that person.  If you’re supposed to be Cherry Cahoon the trashed-out crack whore, you’re Cherry the  junkie.  If  you’re  supposed  to  be  Molly  Hansen  the  soccer  jock chick,  you’re  Molly  Hansen  down  to  your  socks  and  your  cleats.  If  you’re supposed to be Louise Benteen the junior U.S. Attorney,  you swing that briefcase right through the security checks
­­­‪­‪­‪­­­‪‪­­‪like  you’re  Louise  and no one  else.”  Bob  got  the impression she wasn’t just pulling names out of the air. “If you just put on an act, if you’re  just  playing  a  role,  you’ll  forget  your  lines  or  slip  up  on  a  name  or something  that  Cherry  or  Molly  or  Louise  should  know,  and  some  gun  thug  will pick up on it.”

“Keep  your  weapons  clean  as  a  whistle  with  just  enough  oil  so  they  will function,” said Jason. “When you need it, you’re going to need it in a split second, and  a  stoppage  means  death.  Always  carry  a  backup  gun,  something  small  like a .380  or  a  .22  that  will  fit  in  an  ankle  holster  or  a  pocket  or  even  up  your  sleeve. Don’t carry a knife unless you know what you’re doing, and you can use it without a second’s hesitation.”

“Any time you get a chance to go to the bathroom, take it, whether you need to  or  not,”  Jenny  told  him.  “Same  thing  with  sleep.  A  revolutionary  lives  on  cat naps.  No  drugs  to  stay  awake  and  don’t  touch  a  drop  of  booze  while  you’re working, which is always. Any of this sound helpful at all?”

“I guess,” said Bob. “I got all that in--well, I was taught. But mostly I just want to know how you did it, year after year, without going nuts?”

The two of them were quiet for a bit. “Bob,” Jason finally said, “I’m not sure how  to  put  this,  but during  thosea  years,  Jenny  and  I  were  both  scared  shitless most  of  the  time.  We  were  scared  of  death,  we  were  scared  of  prison  and  the waterboard  and  the  electrode  and  the  Dershowitz  needles,  and  above  all  we  were terrified  that  one  of  us  would  die and  the  other  would  have  to  live  on,  that  this house  and  this  life  and  those  kids  upstairs  would  never  be.  But  the  one  thing  we were  never  afraid  of,  not  ever,  was  that  we  would  lose.  The  NVA  and  the revolution were part of history and we were part of the NVA and the revolution. It was who we were, and we were that because we knew, we knew, that the survival of  our  race  was  the  will  of  God,  and  that  so  long  as  we  did  His  will  as  best  we could,  we  would  be  sustained. Someday  it  would  be  over,  and  the  world would be right again. When you know that in your soul, as we did, then once you get Out There, you’ll know what to do.”

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