07:55:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 819 words  
Categories: Announcements, Old Ventures: Refuge

ANNOUNCEMENT: NaNoWriMo 2018, Old Venture: Refuge

I'm sorry. I know, no man is an island, but I've had trouble even being one drop of rain in a river. It's difficult, these days, not to feel like the very foundations of sanity are shaking loose. And I have struggled under my burdens, as I know many of you do. I only yesterday finished last year's NaNo (which I'll be uploading soon to the blog) and I'm going to try and publish one chapter a day this NaNo. It's going to be a rough election cycle this year, and I'm hoping we can get through it together. But if you retain none of the words before or after this, remember these: you are not alone. Amidst all the chaos, and pain, and dehumanizing horror, you are known, you are cared about, you are loved. And so long as we continue to have each other, and to hold one another in our hearts, we have hope. Below is an excerpt, a preview of a chapter I realized was important enough to write and publish out of order, where it might still have some impact. As always, check back daily for updates, on this as well as on older projects that I got behind in posting publicly. And in the meantime, may you and yours stay safe and close in these trying times.

* * *

Jack stepped out onto the stage, and for a moment was blinded by the house lights, and then the chorus of flashbulbs from the media. "I'm happier than I can say to welcome a true American hero onto this stage," the man said, flashing a wide smile.

Jack shook his hand stiffly, then waited for him to clear the stage before speaking. "I'm not comfortable being here," Jack said, "and I'm sure that shows."

The audience chuckled nervously. "That's okay. You're laughing with me," he paused, "I think."

"But I've never been comfortable using my... celebrity, I guess, like this. I've marched, with John Lewis, Martin Luther King, for many varied human rights on many different occasions. You could say I've never been apolitical... but I've always attempted to keep who I am as a man separate from who I was as a symbol. I never wanted to trade on the good I've done, and even today, that's not my goal.

"But I can no longer abide my prior silence. This is not the usual push and pull of politics. This is the rise of something far more sinister, an enemy we fought a world war against, an enemy I hoped we vanquished for good. Maybe that was nave of me. Maybe my generation failed to keep the flames of vigilance lit.

"I didn't decide to speak until last week. I waited, hoping that sanity would return, that someone, anyone, would be able to show the Republican candidate that he's not just trying to be the leader of conservative America, or scared America, that he'll need to lead all of us. He'll need to represent the will of all of us. He'll need to represent the hopes, as well as the fears, of all of us. And their convention convinced me that realization will forever evade him. At his core, he is a divisive and spiteful man. He doesn't like the idea of an America united, unless he can force us to unite behind him, not as a good and changed man, but as he is, angry, scared and lashing out.

"And with each passing day, the parallels with the fascist rise- a rise that cost our world millions of lives- become stronger, and harder to ignore. Every day, more language about how everyone but America is the problem is used, while more narrowly defining what counts as America. I have seen this ugliness before, I have seen what it does to good men and women caught up in its throes, and I have seen what they in turn do to those they deem unworthy of sharing soil with. I wish I could be here for any other reason, truly. But we do not get to choose our burdens, only how we rise to meet them.


"So please, vote. Not just for Democrats, but for democracy itself, for a return to normalcy, to respecting our differences, and the rights of others. For returning this country to an ideal for the rest of the world to envy. For a world where our most vulnerable are cared for, protected, and safe. For America as we want her to be, and need her to be, not what she was. Because viewing who she was through rose-tinted glasses can't erase those who were left behind or excluded in that past, and we know better, now, and we have to do better. The only hope I have to leave you with is this: we can do better. I've seen it. And I pray I'll live to see it again. Thank you."

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10/11/11

  11:26:14 am, by Nic Wilson   , 640 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 38: Crow

It was a weird day. The wind was blowing different, and the smells it brought in were tinged with herbs. Maybe, were I a more superstitious man, I?d have seen it for a tiding.

Bim Maa Chiaa was built on leased Crow land. No governor, or senator, no one above a mayor would ever accept the Guantanamo cast-off. So we put it on a reservation, where nobody with a constituency could express their reservations.

But the Crow mostly knew to stay away, knew enough of the deal they made not to be excited about the prison they owned. But it was a weird day. A beat up little Toyota pickup, red, rambled into town. It hadn?t even stopped when two young men from the Nation hopped out, a beer in each hand.

Then the truck quit rolling, and out of the passenger side of the cab came a woman, with a bottle of Jack in her hand and a none too modest top. ?I?d ask that the lady cover up some, so?s not to cause a stir,? she smiled at me, a young, drunk, flirtatious kind of smile, but still she wrapped her shawl across herself as much as she could.

?Aw, damnit,? Monty muttered a bit too loudly.

?We really gotta get you some internet,? I said. The driver finally made his way out of the truck, stumbling a little.

?You ain?t been drinking, have you?? I asked. He smiled, but the both of us knew there weren?t shit I could do if he were. My jurisdiction meant I could kick them out of the limits, but I couldn?t arrest him, not if he downed the rest of the JD and then got back in the driver?s seat.

One of the men from the back of the cab pointed an unopened beer at me. ?More in the cooler- enough for everbody,? he said, gesturing to the back of the truck.

Instinctively I reached for it. But I saw Ramzi in the street, staring at me, and I waved it away. ?I ain?t had a beer in? well, one day longer than I?ve been here. The BMC is dry. I would just about hump my deputy for that beer,? they laughed, ?but I can?t drink it. It?s dry because those are the rules they live by, here. And even if they?re not my rules, I have to uphold them, to the detriment of my dry as a sack full of flour tongue, or my rough as a Gila monster?s backside throat.? Of course, similar could be said for my sex life- though the thought of humping my deputy put to rest any desire on that front.

?My high-minded boss can whet his whistle on my moist as a hippo?s nutsack in the Sahara cock,? Monty said, taking the beer offered to him. Can?t say I liked the decision, but I wasn?t sure I could dispute it was his to make.

?What brings you to our little town?? I asked.

?Crow fair,? the man who?d given Monty that beer said, looking far off. ?Had to get away from it. All that drumming. Whoring our culture for some white tourist greenbacks.?

?It?s not all bad. I like the dancing,? the girl said.

?There?s a fucking rodeo.?

?Just cause you don?t like it don?t make it prostitution,? she snapped again, and he hushed up. After a few minutes, I moved them past the city limits- no need to push it with them having liquor in the city.

But they stayed a spell, drinking a little, and just looking out at the land. It was nice, being reminded there was a world outside the BMC and Fort Gates, even if that world was still shot full of trouble.

10/08/11

10/06/11

  07:17:18 am, by Nic Wilson   , 276 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 37: Anticipation

?So what do you think?s going to happen?? Monty asked.

?About what?? I asked him.

?The hunger strike mostly, but Khalid, everything, I guess.?

?I think that depends on what happens next. I think if things stay calm, eventually people ask themselves how much they really miss Khalid, and whether or not he?s worth starving themselves over. Or if the State Department manage to get their fists out of each others? colons and get the families all approved for transfer, then they?ll all have more important things to think about than whether or not the old man is getting violated in his holding cell while awaiting a verdict to send him to some place more permanent.?

?Like screwing their wives,? Monty says a little too lustily.

?I really have to get you some internet access. But worst case scenario, Justice Department screws us again and abducts another citizen. Then every single person here starts hunger striking- and then it?s only a matter of time before bodies start to pile up- some of these people are getting too long in the tooth to survive a starvation protest. Part of the charter says we don?t tube em- and if we go back on that, then this place loses any illusion of civilization. You and I, we?re probably murdered in our sleep when the riot breaks out. In the grander scheme of things: heat death of the universe and then nothing; it?s the stuff between then and now I?m fuzzier on.?

?That?s hilarious,? Monty said. ?You should have a sitcom. Or at least a music video, to your hit song, ?I fist myself.?

10/05/11

  07:17:07 am, by Nic Wilson   , 0 words  
Categories: Barren Mind

Barren Mind: Finally A Joke About The Smell

10/04/11

  06:44:11 am, by Nic Wilson   , 315 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 36: Face Time

It took me this damned long to get a sit-down with the Colonel, and even when I get into his office he doesn?t lower the newspaper he?s behind. ?I understand you wanted to see me, boy.?

?Khalid.?

?Wasn?t my call. Came down from the Joint Chiefs. I?d have preferred some more finesse; after all, if you?re going to steal the queen bee from the middle of a nest, you don?t just shove your damn fist in there.?

?But you didn?t make the kind of noise that might have seen the order revised.?

He sets the paper down on the desk between us. ?You mean the kind of noise McChrystal made? Son, I ain?t risking my career to avoid ruffling a few terrorists? feathers.?

?The way I understand it, we built the city to show them, and the world, that we were better than that. Better than eye for an eye bombings, better than Guantanamo. The city?s supposed to be proof that democracy and freedom can work, even in the face of that kind adversity.?

?It?s a prison. We give them little plots of land, and cable TV and don?t subject them to the usual rape-a-palooza, but it?s a prison. But they?re there for murdering innocent people. So I don?t give a shit if once in a while they get reminded they?re imprisoned.?

?That?s because you don?t have to live there. You don?t have to deal with them, and with frankly pretty human reactions to things like the government disappearing one of their neighbors in the middle of the night.?

?I?ve already ceded the moral high ground to you, son- it wasn?t how I?d have done it. But I trust it ain?t so long since you been military you?ve forgot what it?s like to have orders.?

?Ain?t been long enough I?ve forgot not all orders are created equal.?

10/01/11

09/29/11

  11:08:58 am, by Nic Wilson   , 0 words  
Categories: Barren Mind

Barren Mind: Interslut

09/28/11

  11:07:35 am, by Nic Wilson   , 0 words  
Categories: Survival

Survival Page 93

09/27/11

  02:39:16 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 246 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 35: The Funeral

The supply shipment with Monty?s bed came with a surprise: Mahmoud?s body. It was in a casket to keep it preserved. It had been kept cold, nearly frozen, while they collected evidence, so it hadn?t decomposed, but I knew from experience that it wouldn?t take long at all. So I quickly set about arranging for a funeral.

The Sunnis didn?t outright refuse, but they expressed, basically an indifference, because he wasn?t really one of theirs. But the Shia were different. Most of them didn?t even want to talk about his death- not because the reality of his loss was too painful, but because they didn?t want to acknowledge him as theirs, either. There was still anger in his community with him.

Everybody showed for the funeral, but in the end, the only one who agreed to participate was Ismail.

So it was Ismail who bathed the body, and wrapped it in a kafan.

It was Ismail who said the Janazah prayer.

It was Ismail who lowered him into the earth and positioned the body towards Mecca- with a little assist from me and Monty.

I couldn?t help but wonder if that meant Ismail was different, too. Whatever anger people felt for Mahmoud, was he a part of it? Was that the reason he?d ran?

There were too many questions. But it was colder than it should have been for the season, and I hoped this was the only funeral I was going to attend any time soon.

09/24/11

09/22/11

  10:03:13 am, by Nic Wilson   , 302 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 34: Plumbing Problems

It was the first day after Monty moved into the cell that he stopped up the john. Ismail dutifully entered no man?s land. After an hour, he came into my office, more than a little covered in filth. ?I think there?s something wrong with his plumbing.?

?Yeah; his toilet?s clogged.?

?You misunderstand; I mean his plumbing.? I grinned. ?Nothing besides rotting goat udders should make that smell. And that?s to say nothing of the quantity. He shits like a camel. He should be shitting outside- like one.? Ismail went back into the cell, and I followed.

?I don?t necessarily disagree with you. But if I have my deputy shitting in holes in the street- not exactly keeping up decorum. It?s hard to demand respect when people watch you defecate.?

?He?s a walking chemical weapons factory- if people knew, they would rightfully fear him. And the foodstuffs your deputy has ruined for me: chocolate, in any form. Any food that comes in loaves. Corn. Nuts.?

?Corn nuts aren?t a food,? I deadpanned.

?Puddings, ice creams, yogurts, gelatins.?

?I thought gelatins were haram, coming from pork.?

?Only most gelatins come from pork. But now all gelatin is haram to me. And beans. Really, most Mexican foods. Rice, too, oh, the rice, comes out in little pellets, but I swear they squirm around, like maggots??

?I?ll see what I can do to get him to ease off the ethnic foods. But you?re doing a good job- in more trying circumstances than I envisioned when I first meted out this. I just, want you to know it?s not unnoticed. I may have a surgical mask somewhere, if you want I can go?

?Please,? he said, trying not to show fear in front of the still-clogged toilet.

09/21/11

  10:00:24 am, by Nic Wilson   , 5 words  
Categories: Barren Mind

Barren Mind: Pig Wrastlin

More Barren Mind: Pig Wrastlin

09/20/11

09/17/11

09/15/11

  10:00:50 am, by Nic Wilson   , 478 words  
Categories: Gitmo

Gitmo 33: Mi Casa Es Su Celda

With Ismail out of the nest, Monty moved in. ?I?m grateful to have a place of my own, and everything-?

?They got a mattress coming, too, with the next shipment.?

?I?ll be even more grateful then. But I don?t get why we?re letting him loose.?

?Ismail claimed all kinds of things. But the one thing he didn?t claim was being careful. We didn?t have prints, not anywhere. Without access to gloves, that?s harder than it sounds.?

Monty dropped his sleeping bag and pillow onto the concrete slab. ?Last long term gig I had we was working with ICE; I miss calling em the INS, cause I?d pronounce it ?anus;? always good for a chuckle. We were looking up some coyotes, people smugglers. Coyotes run a nasty business; some of em find it cheaper or safer to take people?s money and snuff em. Meanest way is just to take a panel truck, set it in a garage and leave it running with the people still locked in back, their own little mobile gas chamber. Not that I give much shit if Mexicans die, but they dump their carcasses in our country, and they use the profits off the ones they do kill to bring in illegals they don?t.?

?That?s how I ended up here. This one fucker, Guillermo, we kept catching. Three, four times a year. More than once we had evidence of foul play, blood in his truck, weapons, but without him leading us to the bodies, we could never make anything stick stateside, and the Mexicans must have just been letting him walk out of their prisons. If he made enough, and could grease the right palms, that wouldn?t surprise me any.?

?Me and some Anus patrol, we tuned him up pretty good. I think I made a mistake, bringing out the tequila to what was otherwise intended as an upright violent beating. We got a little unusual in our cruelty; by the time the Anus commander came around for a routine check in, Guillermo had three night sticks in his cornhole, and I was too drunk to stand up. At the time it all seemed pretty fucking amusing. But I got bounced, and ain?t found a steady home since. I think they been kicking me around so I could quit quietly, rather than deal with the headlines that would follow my firing- as right now it?s the Anus punchbowl with shit floating in it.?

?Working with Anus, one thing they did was an exchange program. They?d take a couple of our guys, and toss them into a Mexican cell with smugglers and bangers and shit. We?d get some hands on undercover experience, and occasionally they?d get a juicy jail cell confession. This here?s a step up from a Mexican prison. Even smells less like shit- though only less.?

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