But Why Be a Hero?
It was Thursday night at Jakob Hamburg's farmhouse, which had now become operations HQ. Jakob sat on the veranda smoking his pipe, an old gas lamp swinging gently in the light breeze beside him. Today had been a testing day and he had to calm things down. After the demonstrations today he'd had words with people, especially Dan and Hank. He knew today hadn't helped.
Duncan calmed Jakob afterwards. He'd given him his personal word that things would calm down but they still intended to carry on the action.
"No violence Jakob or you'll have me out of the election before I've started."
He knew the police were watching him, he was just trying to spot which angle they were using tonight. They'd started it on Tuesday night and they hadn't had much luck stopping them so far. It was proving a good game. It took a while to spot them last night but he and most of the others had been hunting long enough to make it easy.
His living room was awash with Bud cans, paper, and portable hand computers laced together in a small grid, view glasses, papers and pencils. His wife was incessantly making food and coffee. She looked drained and tired. The phone was manned twenty four\ hours a day.
Tonight's source was coming from south of the county. A truckload of old scrap was winging its way up to them and they had to meet at a lonely section of the interstate.
Jakob Hamburg's dog bounced onto the veranda wagging it's tail, came up to his master and bunted him on the leg.
“What is it, hey?" Jakob whispered.
“You've found them haven't you? Clever dog." He grunted.
“You show me, go on."
His claws scratched excitedly on the wooden floor as he scrabbled around to the other side of the house. Jack followed them around and looked out into the thickness of the night.
Goldentooth sat in the car and opened up a flask of coffee.
“You arsehole, you know I can't see out of the window with the binoculars when you do that," Randy blurted.
“Oh chill out will you, you uptight sun of a bitch. I tell you, they'll get bored of all this soon they've made their point, they are just a bunch of hickie farmers.”
“Hickie or not we've got a job to do, watch this place, every night they've managed to get more stuff to the wall. They can't be that stupid. Shaw's getting shit I hear, from Ellephanie 'cos they can't get to work and hell from Anderton 'cos it's making him look bad so either way he's fucked. And it's our arse on the line tonight. Reggie and Marge are off it. Besides things nearly turned nasty yesterday. So don't give me hickie shit, if you want to have a butt left in the morning we've got to find how these mothers are doing it." Randy finished.
Goldentooth looked surprised. "You mind your mouth when you're talking to me. If you want a goddam promotion you won't get it by wise-assing your boss." They might have those dipsticks Dreggie and Marge but not us? Now chill out, you mother."
“So concentrate," Randy said apologetically. "They got permission for that tap yet?" He asked after a pause.
“No, the Mayor can't give permission 'cos he's too closely involved and no one can seem to get in touch with the Governor at the moment."
Jakob sat down in a rocking chair on the other side of the veranda and began to think about tonight's diversion. They must think of something unpredictable. Something that would really get their attention and appeal to their police nature...
Jakob smiled and went inside and had a word with Dwayne Utrect.
“He's gone inside, I can't see what's going on," Randy said.
"Do you want some peanuts?" said Goldentooth.
“Do you ever stop eating?" "Not on a stakeout. No.''
“Well how many stakeouts have you done?"
"One or two."
“The last one was funny; it was when I was in Texas. They reckoned this dame had murdered her husband, so we watched her house. She had all these people round the whole time, all these guys..."
“Shit what the fuck?" Randy exclaimed. A shot rang out.
“Goddam it the window's out. You okay?" Goldentooth exclaimed. There was another shot. They got out of the car and kept low.
“Goddam it, who the fuck is that?" Randy shouted.
"Come on!" Goldentooth ordered.
Goldentooth followed Randy in the direction of the shot, running through the woods near Jack's farmhouse, running from tree to tree.
“Get the glasses out. Can you see anything?" "Nothing. No-one, nothing."
They heard voices from the homestead and more shots being fired up into the air. The voices were getting closer.
“What the hell's going on?"
“We'd better go to the farmhouse and see but keep out of sight."
They wandered back through the trees keeping low; they could see Dwayne Utrecht standing on the edge of the lawn in the twilight looking out into the trees.
“Who's out there?"
He fired a shot into the air.
“I said, who the fuck is there?"
Dwayne came forward, squinting into the darkness. He spotted movement in the trees.
“Who’s that? Come out. I'll call the cops. Who’s that?" he bellowed. He pointed his gun ominously in the direction of the movement.
“We're the cops," Goldentooth shouted. Randy sighed and shook his head.
“Well he might have taken a shot at us arsehole. It’s not worth dying for," Goldentooth whispered.
“We were in the area, and we heard some shots. Is everyone okay?"
“Yep," replied Dwayne, "Everyone's okay. Who the hell was it? Sorry I didn't mean to scare ya' "
“We don't know. They got away."
Dwayne unhinged his old shotgun and walked towards them. "What were you doing here anyway?"
“Just the usual night patrols and then we heard the shooting."
"Did you see anything?"
“Well do you want to come in a moment?" Dwayne asked, "You're not hurt are you?"
“No, we're not hurt."
“No, thanks, we'd better go after them. We'll be back later to get your statement."
They wandered back to the car.
Jakob Hamburg, Dave Rhobson and George Femby were driving away in their pick up. A small and highly accurate rifle lay on the floor of the car. They were laughing.
“Did you hear them?" Dave shouted.
“That was the best one yet!" Jakob exclaimed nearly crying with laughter.
“They'd better not have known who it was," George Femby alias Elvis said, after their mirth had subsided a little.
“Elvis, relax. This is one of the most common rifles around, they've got no proof," Dave said.
“Goddam, that was funny. Did you hear Goldentooth, wailing like a wounded whale?" Jakob spluttered.
“They just didn't know what to make of it, screaming and babbling on. And the way they moved through those trees, sounded like bears on a rampage," Dave added.
“More like a load of them there Indian elephants," Elvis quipped.
Jakob laughed and slapped the dashboard with his hands.
“That Goldentooth, you see the look in his eyes. He looked like a terrified rabbit."
“Reckon they'll figure it out?" said Elvis becoming more nervous again. "You know we have to be careful and all."
“No, they won't know what to make of it. Can't wait to find out how Shaw reacts. They get sent on their first stake out and get caught! I wonder what excuse they gave to Dwayne? Wonder what they will tell old Shaw, he might figure it out, he's a clever son of a bitch, never trusted him myself. We could milk this you know," Jakob said.
“How do you mean?" Elvis asked.
“Well, if we did it again, we could claim some prowler has it in for us and we need police protection. Then we would always know where there was and they couldn't do a stake out." Jakob paused. "Mind you kind of works both ways though, 'cos they would know all that was going on but my wife could distract them. You know how she can talk, they'd be obliged to listen, be rude not to, then we could get on with things. They wouldn't be able to say it was us who was doing it then and they'd back off."
“Well, let's give it some thought, we've got a long journey ahead of us tonight," Dave said sagely.
They drove for one and a half hours taking mainly the back roads and to their knowledge no one was following them. They stopped once at a lonely diner, bought some burgers and some Bud for Jakob and drove on. Dave Robson told jokes and stories most of the way. Elvis laughed so much he was crying.
Eventually they arrived at the interstate junction at about two o'clock on Friday morning and stopped. There was no one there.
Then they saw some lights flash slightly off the road, they walked towards them.
“Jakob, gaddam it, it’s good to see you!”
“You too Will, you too."
“See you've been causing chaos up there in Hertferd," he chuckled, “Good on you."
“This is Dave. He's kinda new around here. Bought Sam's old place. Didn't know what he'd taken on! Anyway he's been making the most of it."
“Good to see ya Will. Heard lot about you," Dave said extending his hand.
“Oh my, it's Elvis. How are you doin’?" Will exclaimed.
“I feel young again Will I can tell you, I feel young again!" Elvis replied. "We've got you some good debris here Jack. Three truck-loads of it."
“That's great, Will you got more than we expected."
“Well the folks are all behind you guys, 100% you know that. We'll come up and help you out any time you like. We've got to stick together these days."
“We're going to block another road to Carlton today. They're keeping an eye on the usual ones, so we're going to have to be careful."
“We covered the trailers just like you asked."
“Now we'll go ahead and look out for cops. One of your boys can hang well back and check there's no one behind."
Jakob got out four maps. "Now you guys," he told the drivers, “if we ain't followed, we take the red route marked out. If there's any sign of us being followed, we take the green route, and if we are in real trouble, we'll split. The first truck takes the black route, the second the purple and the third the brown route. We'll meet up here, near Pella if there's any trouble. Okay? And you know the story, we're taking all the junk to Chicago, if anyone asks, 'cos we can get a better price than in Sioux City. Okay? We got you guys a beer; don't go drinking it all at once now. We don't want all the metal all 'over the road on the way." Jakob said.
“Elvis, you ride up front with us. Dave, you take up the rear."
“I'll go along with Chuck in one of the trailers," said Elvis, "Been what Chuck, five years since we've seen each other?"
They left to their various assorted vehicles. The trucks engines growled into life shattering the silence of the night. At one stage they thought they were being followed, but it turned out to be a family pulling a big trailer, so they could only travel slowly. Otherwise the journey passed uneventfully.
Hertferd was sleepy at three thirty in the morning especially as they approached Carlton over a backroad that they hadn't used before for the purposes of the blockade. The road travelled across Dave Rhobson's land next to the plant. They weren't targeting the main gate this time; they were trying to shore up the visitor’s entrance and parking.
Dave jumped down from the pick-up truck and Jakob joined him. They started to unload.
“Okay. Come back, come back. Yep, that's okay. Yep stop just there Okay unload! "
The trailers hydraulics screeched and lifted, the metallic debris spewed out onto the road.
“Okay next one. I'll guide Will in" said Dave," This one's tricky, because of the corner here. You go and stand on the spot where he's got to aim for. He won't be able to see you, but I can be the go between. "
Jakob stood on the spot. Dave directed the van backwards, casting urgent looks back at Jakob.
“That's it. Hard right, hard right. Keep coming. Gently now, gently now. Keep coming. Okay, Will. Stop! "
The trailer started to lift upright, then suddenly lurched backwards.
“Jakob, look out!" Dave shouted. Everyone turned around.
Jakob was transfixed in horror as bits of machinery threatened to bury him alive. Dave ran across tackling him and throwing him out of danger.
Jakob and Dave lay panting on the tarmac, slightly dazed. "That was a close call. Are you okay?" Dave said finally
“Yeah, yeah I think so."
Jakob got up and brushed himself off.
Will got out of the cab and ran towards them both quickly joined by the others.
“Shit. You okay?" Will gasped.
“Yeah. What the fuck happened?" Dave demanded.
“I don't know. The hydraulics just seemed to have played up. God that was close." Will stammered.
“We're going to have to be careful," Dave said breathlessly. "Damn right." said Jakob "Damn right."
Jakob leant on Dave to get up.
“You'd better get that truck of yours checked out, I don't want that to happen again."
Will nodded gravely.
“Shit man, I'm sorry it's never done that before." "I owe you one, Dave,'' Jakob proffered.
"What the hell happened here?" Elvis asked. He was the last to arrive on the scene.
“I'll tell you later. Let's get this last load down shall we? The cops won't expect us to do this gate but we'd better not hang around. It's so bloody noisy dumping this stuff."
Jakob and Elvis wondered off towards the last truck. Dave was nursing his arm.
“You okay?" Elvis asked.
“Think I've hurt my arm. It’s starting to hurt real bad." Elvis patted him on the back.“Worth it, Dave. He won't forget it; he's a good man like that. Come on. Let’s get over to the last load and get out of here. "