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Freedom's Call


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Freedom's Call

  1. 1. prologue h e never was big on authority, of either the corporate or law enforcement kind. For that matter, he cared little for politicians and thought we already had enough laws we couldn’t enforce. America is a free country, and as long as he wasn’t infringing on someone else’s rights, he didn’t want to be told what he could or could not do. In his opinion, power was not something to be wielded at the whim of those who possessed it. Individual rights were far more important than frivolous laws. So, he was a rebel by society’s standards. Being enslaved to the bottom line was not something that appealed to him, especially when the bottom line was unreal revenue projections. Over the years, he had seen decent people put out of work by “budget restraints” dictated by corporate demigods who had promised impossible returns to investors. The big corporations vii
  2. 2. John Walker had taken over everything. They had bought and sold the lawmakers, so that everything worked for the big corporations, while the mom-and-pop businesses got squeezed out. He’d had it with all that society considered good. It was all just greed, and greed was something he loathed. Even in his personal life, he was tired of being a consumer. It’s just what they all wanted him to be. It was the “more is better” mentality, and he felt he was drowning in things. If he bought more stuff, he had to buy more to hold it. Bigger houses, bigger cars—where does it all end? His thoughts were beginning to turn revolutionary. Gun control was a big issue. The have-nots were taking from the haves. The country was going to hell in a handbasket. It was 2013, and the gangs were worse than they had been in the 1920s and 1930s. The writing was on the wall. He thought long and hard about a new movement, but that just seemed to spawn a whole new set of problems regarding power, acquisition, and authority. Who was he to write up the rules for a new society? How could he stop the train alone? Or, if he got a group of like minds together, could there be agreement? The insanity of the world, and to what its evolution had given birth, seemed an insurmountable obstacle to any sort of sane and productive society. As a nationally recognized talk show host, he had held many interviews and conversations on the subject of where the country was headed. Some were very fiery and some were very controversial. He had many friends in high places who were in agreement with his ideas but were afraid to come on his radio show for fear of losing their positions or offending their constituents. He had taken flak from many sides when espousing his opinions and philosophy about life and patriotism. One of his pet peeves was the abuse of the Social Security system. Many hours of his radio commentary were viii
  3. 3. Freedom’s Call devoted to it, and he made contacts around the country on a daily basis who supported his ideals. Some very influential people were pushing him to really do something about it and to use his position as a member of the media to continue to draw attention to the problems. Those closest to him, including his barber, were always talking about a revolution. His bosses were watching him like hawks and threatening to censor his show. He had finally had it with the corporate attorneys and greedy management mentality. He was never one to sit quietly by when an injustice was being perpetrated on anyone. He exercised his constitutional rights as a patriot. He was the guy in the crowd who would stand up and speak the truth on a controversial subject without thinking about the consequences to himself. He was not afraid to voice the unpopular viewpoint, and it had gotten him into trouble on several occasions. He saw his own childhood friends being taken in by what he thought was a broken system. He felt they just went along with the current. It really disturbed him that the same people he grew up with, the ones who had once espoused freedom from materialistic pursuits, had fallen victim to the very mentality they had opposed in the 1960s. They all bought stock in the major corporations that were controlling them with false promises of wealth and prosperity. The privileged few at the top were reaping their rewards, while the rest followed along like lambs to the slaughter. The legislators had raped the Social Security system to the point that it had been reeling for years. The illegal immigrants—and many of the legal ones, too, it seemed— were taking advantage of the system and living off of what was left. And why not? The government was either too lazy or too corrupt to stop them. That’s what had brought him to the Capitol steps with this group of radicals, guns loaded, and poised to take over the Capitol of a once great nation. ix
  4. 4. chapter one t he standoff had been going on now for over a month. Five hundred thousand people had gathered, some armed, vowing they would get back the money they had put into the Social Security system. The military had been called into action, and there had been some bloodshed. It all reminded me of the protests at Kent State, but I was here now, and I was their leader in a movement that could only lead to more bloodshed. I knew the constitution stated that the country’s militia could not fire on its own people. I also knew the people had a right to bear arms and the right to free assembly. I knew that this motivated, sign-carrying, gun-toting, cross-section of America’s elderly, concerned citizens, and their sons and daughters, had finally gotten to the point at which serious action was the only means of demonstrating their resolve to get what they believed was rightly theirs. This civil disobedience seemed to be unnatural for them, but it was their 1
  5. 5. John Walker only remaining option if they were to get the attention of a government that seemed to be indifferent to their concerns. I knew I had to keep them united in the one thought that their very presence in Washington, DC, in such large numbers, would force officials to respond. My real concern, in this nearly uncontrollable mass, was the fear of a mob mentality taking over while emotions ran high. I knew that, at the moment, something really fishy was happening. I had a feeling there had been a long-running covert recruitment program of gang members and immigrants for just the purposes of putting down an uprising of this nature. There seemed to be a majority of racially diverse soldiers who kept instigating little fights along the perimeter. Suddenly, there was a major commotion at the gates of the Capitol grounds that seemed to be working its way toward us at the front. Through the crowd burst Digger, Joe, and my brother Kyle. “They’ve done it now,” Digger said quietly. “We’ve got to get you outta here now.” “I can’t leave!” I said loudly. In the immediate crowd around us, all eyes were on me, searching for a clue to what was happening. My brother Kyle, a man nearly twice my size, grabbed me by both arms and nearly shook my teeth out. “Now!” he said. “There’s no time to explain!” I hadn’t seen Kyle, Digger, or Joe for six years. Kyle boasted a formidable six-foot, five-inch frame of nearly three hundred pounds. He hadn’t gotten any smaller since I’d last seen him, and his clean-shaven appearance and army fatigues, along with his quick, decisive movements, reminded me of a film character I’d seen in a documentary on the training of a special ops unit. His rugged features were relatively wrinkle- free for his age of fifty-eight. 2
  6. 6. Freedom’s Call Even though I’m six two and weigh two hundred pounds, Kyle always loomed larger than life in my mind’s eye. Of course, my bad posture, white hair, and full beard probably made me appear even smaller and a lot older next to him. Digger and Joe were tough-looking guys, too—stocky, broad-shouldered, and graying around the edges. As a foursome, we would be formidable looking, wherever we were gathered. We moved through the crowd to a gap in the fence and were in a van before I knew what was happening. Joe, Kyle, and Digger immediately began putting on riot gear, including gas masks, as fast as they could. “Here, put this on quick!” Digger threw an outfit toward me. At that moment, the explosions were deafening, and adrenaline shot through me and put me into a frenzy. “We had to get you out—it’s the only way,” Joe screamed over the noise. “They’ve called in the Chinese!” “The Chinese?” I questioned, fumbling with the mask. “It’s a mock invasion just like we expected,” Digger shouted. It was then that I noticed the Chinese insignia on his riot gear. The outfits might buy us time if we were approached by the Chinese. “Follow me,” Kyle said, motioning, “and put on that mask! They’re using gas grenades.” We were out of the van and into the side street, down a subway entrance and onto the tracks, running at full tilt, with the sounds of Armageddon on our heels. It was all happening so fast, and I was amazed at how we moved as one. I was being swept along by a well-oiled machine that knew exactly what was coming next. My heart was pounding in my ears, and my breath was coming in gasps, but for a group of guys in our fifties and sixties, we were holding up pretty well. 3
  7. 7. John Walker Suddenly, we stopped about two hundred yards down the tracks. Digger was feeling along the wall of the tunnel. A welcome respite for me. I was out of shape and out of breath. “Here it is.” He pulled a small piece of rebar out of the wall and then pulled a chain that had been concealed behind the rebar. A three-foot block of the tunnel wall slid inward, giving us an opening to slip through into total darkness. Once we’d all scrambled into this rabbit hole, Kyle lit a match, and Joe pulled another chain that slid the block back into place. “Hydraulics,” Kyle said to me, and then, “Oh shit!” as the match burned down to his fingers. Digger switched on his flashlight and revealed a long, dark, forgotten tunnel leading off into the darkness. The others were taking off their masks, so I followed suit, and we proceeded down the tunnel. I’m not wild about dark, claustrophobic holes with furry little critters skittering around, but then I wasn’t the only one. With the butt of his gun, Joe clubbed a rat that had jumped down on him from a crossbeam and evidently startled the bejesus out of him. “Damn vermin!” he said, and moved on. Digger was in the lead when we came to a ladder leading upward. He stopped and took off a backpack he’d been carrying. Kyle and Joe did the same. They each pulled out a wet suit, fins, swim mask, and snorkel. Kyle threw an extra set of gear at me. “Put this on and hurry!” he said. “What are we doing now?” I asked. “We’ll explain later,” said Joe. “You can swim, can’t you?” Before I could answer, Digger, already in his suit, with goggles, fins, and snorkel slung around his neck, was out of sight up the ladder. 4
  8. 8. Freedom’s Call I was out of my street clothes and into the suit just in time to bring up the rear. Following Kyle off the ladder, we slipped into a slightly smaller tunnel pipe and were all on hands and knees going in a direction I thought was parallel to the larger tunnel below. But for the most part, I’d lost all sense of direction by now and was just following their lead. Kyle stopped short, and I ran into him. He was fumbling with his mask and said, “You’d better put on your gear. We’re goin’ to get wet.” He disappeared abruptly, and I heard a splash. I followed. As I emerged from the pipe, for a second I saw the lights reflecting off what I guessed to be the Potomac River, and after a fall of about twenty feet, I came up, gasping to get the water out of my lungs. I’d gulped water in through the snorkel. I felt someone lift me out of the water a bit and take off my mask. “Ya gonna live?” Kyle asked. “Yeah, I guess,” I gurgled. “Put on your mask, stay low, and follow me.” Kyle flipped on a small pen light on his belt, and I put on my mask and swam, following the light for about ten minutes through the dark water. Fatigue was catching up with me. Occasionally, I could see some lights up ahead of us, and we finally came to some sort of vessel. It was wide and low in the water and smelled like it may have been harvested from a landfill. I followed Kyle up a steel ladder onto a metal deck. Digger and Joe were already rid of their goggles, and we threw ours off as well. We all lay there for a moment, gasping for air. The quick pace was taking its toll on all of us, and the rest was welcomed. Kyle and the others seemed to be in much better shape, and I wondered if I was going to be able to keep this pace for long. Suddenly, we jerked into motion and were moving. I could feel the droning engines and see the lights of Washington 5
  9. 9. John Walker moving past us slowly. I had no idea if I’d ever see those lights again. We gained speed and were churning along on what seemed to be a relatively peaceful night. I finally caught my breath and realized what had just happened. “What the hell is going on here?” I asked. “Now, Johnny,” said Joe. “Just take it easy. We needed to save your ass for obvious reasons.” “But I was needed on the steps,” I argued. “Dead?” Kyle questioned, with his face close to mine. I could see that questioning smirk on his face that he’d always had when he knew he was right. I pulled at my wet suit like I was about to take it off, and Digger said, “We’re not done swimming yet. As a matter of fact, it’s time. Come on, this is it.” Everyone slipped into the water again. It was surreal. We’d caught a ride on a garbage barge, seen no one, and not been seen. We had managed to be there at just the right moment, and now we were in the water, swimming toward what seemed to be an old, decrepit dock. As I crawled out of the water, I saw an old ’58 Pontiac Chieftain parked under a streetlight near some trees at the edge of the end of the dock. “There’s our ride,” said Joe quietly. I hadn’t seen a ’58 Pontiac since my high school years in my hometown. I had the same model then. Mine was a rust- and-cream two-tone and as big as a boat, the way cars were back then. It had a 389 GTO engine that a friend of mine and I built up to 450 horsepower. I had ripped out the seats and anything else I could to make it lighter, and put some big cheater slicks on the rear wheels. There wasn’t much else to do in the small Montana town besides build up your car, chase the girls, cruise the gut, and go to the drive-in theater. My 6
  10. 10. Freedom’s Call “pony,” as I called it, was equipped with a high-rise manifold, two Holley three barrels, ISKY 500 cam, and some other trick stuff that made it go like greased lightning. We used to drag on the old highway, and nobody could beat me. I’d been looking for the same model all my life, but I had never seen another, until now. We were scrambling up the shoreline when I heard a short whistle. Kyle whistled back and motioned us forward. We piled into the car, which already had a driver, and were moving through a wooded area as we got out of our wet suits. It was awkward in the backseat with the three of us trying to get undressed and dressed in clothes Kyle was handing us from the front seat. “This is Gene,” Kyle commented during the confusion. “That’s my brother Johnny,” he said to Gene. “I’ve heard of you,” he said. “Glad to finally meet you.” “Nice car. I used to have one of these. Where did you find it?” “In Mexico,” Gene replied. “It was in really bad shape, but I got her fixed up last year.” “Jesus, Joe, I think you’ve got your arm in my shirt,” I said. “It’s crowded in here,” Joe said. “You’ll soon have plenty of room.” Gene looked in the mirror at the chaos in the backseat. “The plane is waiting.” “What plane?” I asked. “That one,” Kyle said, pointing out the windshield as we came to a stop. 7