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Manifesto, by L. Neil Smith now downloadable as an audiobook!
Number 1,050, December 8, 2019

We live in nonsensical times

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Meal Interrupted
by Jim Davidson

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Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."
— Virginia Woolf

[Continued from Part One, Part Two, and Part Three]

Ben Stone had a quizzical look on his face as everyone in the dining hall returned to their various places to complete their interrupted meals. "Tyrone, do you feel that was just absurdly fast for Steve Green and his deputies to walk through the door moments after you hit Cell411?"

Nodding his head, Tyrone commented, "For one thing, I don’t ever summon the police. You know why. So they did not respond to my Cell411. I mentioned to Steve Green that he was very welcome though, to keep the focus where he already had it, on the feds."

Now he drew his security icon on his phone to unlock it, then placed a call. "County dispatch? Oh, is that you Gladys? You are such a blessing to our community. Would you mind letting me know what prompted Sheriff Green to arrest a group of federal agents just now?"

Setting the phone down and hitting its speaker button, Tyrone looked around the table. Everyone was quiet and focused on getting to the bottom of a minor mystery.

"You do know it has been nuts the last three years? " asked Gladys Sanders, the county dispatcher. "None of the block grant money for the states has been sent, no one has gotten tax refunds, and prices just seem to keep climbing. Well, last week the sheriff had a meeting with the county commission, and they said that if the feds aren’t going to pretend we have a whole country anymore, we shouldn’t either. So when that sedan with federal plates came speeding down highway 90, right past deputy Hitchens, doing 120, he called it in.

"I never seen sheriff move so fast. He was out the door and yelling about getting everyone to converge.  Well, those feds went speeding into Paradox, seemed like they were dead set on killing pedestrians and making other drivers fear for their lives, the way they were going. Scott Hitchens says he saw two near misses and a close call. Every time he reported in, sheriff just got madder and madder.

"That fed-mobile wasn’t parked thirty seconds before it was surrounded. Sheriff was on voice-activated and I heard him say to tow it. Well you know Pete lives right there, so that didn’t take a minute to get the cruisers out of the way and the tow hooked up and headed for impound."

The smiles around the table made it clear that everyone knew Gladys was happy to share any and all of the latest gossip, and much that wasn’t very recent. They could hear her sipping from her ever-present coffee mug.

"Judge Finney was happy to issue an arrest warrant. Disturbing the peace, speeding, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, pursuing federal actions without local consultation. Had me fax it to sheriff’s truck as soon as he had it signed. Stood right here at my counter listening to all the fun. And that warrant names ’any and all federal agents being pursued’ so however many there were would be arrested. And do you know there were three of them? Like they needed three agents to do anything here.

"That Callahan fellow, the special agent, he has been so annoying the last few months, hanging around and trying to get in to see sheriff. As if we want anything from them. As if we wanna do anything for them. His comeuppance today, that’s for sure. And the other two, working on the title and supporting roles in Dumb and Dumber. Where did they find them?"

Open laughter was now heard around the table, and their server, accompanied by Mylisa, had just arrived with their dinner entrees. Even tables nearby were quiet with attentive diners listening in.

"Gladys," said Tyrone, "thank you. You are always my favourite person to call when there is excitement in the valley. Did sheriff happen to mention what the federals came to town to do? "

One could hear a loud "Mmmm-hmmm!" on the other side of the phone, and another sip from that mug.

"You know, they were serving a warrant for your arrest. Did they have time to give it you?"

"Gosh, Gladys, did they get a signed receipt for service of process? They should have done, don’t you suppose?" Tyrone was grinning a very pleased grin at that moment.

Gladys said, "No they did not! Sheriff thought that was just right, them not getting proof of service. Of course, you do know every moment inside that dining hall has been on the national news. Not a single major news service missed out, and the tiny ones all pulled footage from the pool drones. You are getting to be famous, mister."

Tyrone chuckled. "Gladys, our food has arrived so we’re gonna eat. But if anything else happens, we’ll call back, you hear?" With that he closed the call.

"You know as well as I do the feds saw our morning activities and freaked out," said Bob Dockery. He looked over at Sally and she nodded. "You didn’t kidnap anyone. Sally and I took the accused into custody. You didn’t wrongfully imprison anyone. We turned the prisoner over to a duly certified bailiff for holding. So the warrant is a lot of nonsense."

Tyrone nodded, then pursed his lips a bit. "We live in nonsensical times. The federal ship has shattered on the shoals of economic collapse and diverging political interests. It is hard to have a unified system covering the gamut of local, regional, state, and national activities when a third of the country doesn’t want anything to do with politics, won’t vote, doesn’t file taxes, won’t respond to the census, and another third or more is divided into two major and two smaller parties, plus lots of independents, and there is rampant corruption and finger pointing. Showing people there is any alternative at all to what is clearly no longer working, and never worked all that well in the best of times, is both essential to our future happiness and challenging to those who are economically vested in keeping things the way they are. And you know the list of politicians and bureau rats who are vested economically, corruptly and with their existing budget authority, who are willing to fight and in many cases to kill to keep things from changing is, well, a long list."

There was a long silence, as each of them sat and thought about the implications of challenging a system that was both completely broken and completely corrupt. All four gave an audible sigh at nearly the same moment, which brought grins all around.

The door to the foyer opened again and a young man wearing flight gear and carrying a helmet rushed in, looked around, and seeing the table in the alcove—which still had its curtain parted due to all the recent excitement—ran over. He handed a message flimsy to Tyrone, who was already on his feet in anticipation.

"Sally, Bob, Ben, please say hello to Pete Williams. He and I are going places together, and right now," said Tyrone as he read the message flimsy. "Did this decode just now? Radio or laser store-and-forward?"

Pete nodded, "It came off one of Walt’s dirigibles by secure laser. We gotta get to the airfield. My flight pod is outside. "

Tyrone had removed his robe while these words were being shared, and underneath he had on a black version of the same flight suit Pete was wearing. Pete hadn’t taken off his helmet when he came in, and the helmet he handed Tyrone was obviously part of a matching set.

"Ben, Sally, Bob, I need you to call Sarah Pinero and get her to take my place as fair witness. She knows the drill. Here is a video card that I recorded this morning when Bob Nolan’s emergency message came in. The owners have his wife and kids in Maryland. He’s already on his way in with that Cobra he modified and his combat drone fleet, but he needs me and Pete to get there pronto."

Ben was obviously itching to get involved, too, so Tyrone grabbed him by both shoulders in a move echoing what the tactically aware federal had done minutes earlier. "We all want to get on with it, but you know we have to show people a system that doesn’t suck. Do that for me this one time, and we’ll go get your share of rustlers soon. It’s going to be one thing after another for years. Okay?"

Not liking it a bit, but acquiescing in the situation, Ben nodded and said, "Good luck, Ty, Pete. Go give those sadistic slavers everything they deserve. We’ll be rooting for ya."

Ty and Pete ran out the door.

[End part four, continued in part five]


Jim Davidson is an author, entrepreneur, actor, and director. He is the cfo of and the vision director of You can find him on as well as and also as planetaryjim.

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