“This is a time to come together,
but coming together is much harder
when we have dishonest journalists,”
—Donald Trump, March 20, 2020, Press Conference
Means to an End
by Jim Davidson
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
[Continued from Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Parts Nine, Ten, & Eleven, part Twelve, part Thirteen, part Fourteen, part Fifteen, part Sixteen &Seventeen, Title and Art Contest, part Eighteen, part Nineteen, part Twenty, part Twenty-one, part Twenty-two, part Twenty-three]
"You think the end justifies the means, however
vile. I tell you: the end is the means by which you achieve it. Today’s
step is tomorrow’s life. Great ends cannot be attained by base means.
You’ve proved that in all your social upheavals. The meanness and
inhumanity of the means make you mean and inhuman and make the end
—Wilhelm Reich, Listen Little Man
The Difficult Man
Logan Wells was a difficult man. He had been many places. He’d seen many things. For two decades he’d thought he was serving the United States of America. Owing to his fierce allegiance, he had done many, many difficult things. Some of those things were very ugly.
Some of the things he had seen, many of the places he had been, some of the merely difficult things he’d done, and every single one of the ugly things he’d chosen to do were troubling to Logan. Logan had a very well developed conscience. He knew right from wrong. Logan knew why he’d done these things, and he knew, now, that he had been lied to for all the years leading up to his going into that previous life and at many important points during that career. He also knew that every single choice he had taken was his own responsibility.
A change had come over him one early winter day ten years ago. It all happened the day he’d come home to find his girlfriend, Rita Moore, in tears. They’d been together five years. He had followed government policy and never told her about his work. She knew that he worked in DC, in an office building, and that was all. He had always used the name of the fake business that appeared on his business cards. He’d never mentioned the agency.
That day, while he was at work, Rita had found the spare key to his desk. She’d opened the drawers out of curiosity, out of love. She’d seen photos in some of the files of things he’d been assigned to do. She’d read some of his notes about how these things troubled him.
Nearly the entire contents of his desk were spread out on its top. Her tears had fallen on many of the photos, and on page after page of his notes. She had long since passed beyond the loud shrieks of horror and the gut-wrenching crying, and was curled up in his office desk chair, her arms around her knees, a page of notes clenched in her left fist, sobbing softly.
Walking in the front door of his suburban home, Logan had heard her sobs. He had been trained to come and go silently, to listen carefully, and to be aware of his surroundings. His instincts were praeternatural. He was known for his uncanny ability not only to detect things happening but to immediately understand their causes.
Part of his heritage was Apache. His granddad had taught him to track. Anything that moved, birds, animals, people, reptiles, each thing had its own ways. One person moved differently from another, each horse had a different gait, had four different hooves. Every animal’s scat was different, and peculiar to what that animal had eaten.
Seeing things laid out in the Arizona soils, looking again and again at the same tracks day after day, several times each day, to see how they changed, understanding the dryness or wetness of the soil, remembering when it last rained, watching how a footprint would slump and shift and change from wind or rain or the passage of other creatures, all these details were taught him. Yet even his granddad was surprised by Logan’s perceptiveness. Logan had a sense of the spiritual purpose in events, the why of an animal’s or a person’s choices.
That day, Logan had closed the front door quietly. Rita had not heard him enter. He stood in the foyer and knew where she was. He knew at what stage of grieving she had reached. He knew what she had found.
Logan had no anger. He was not betrayed. He knew that Rita loved him and was devastated to learn what he did to people for the agency. Without even approaching his office door, Logan knew she had read his notes. His notes describing his angst over torturing and killing many people. His feelings, his misgivings, his certainty that he had sinned, that all the justifications he had been taught, all the objectives he’d been praised for achieving - that the ends had not justified the means. So, now she knew that he felt unworthy, that he had contemplated killing himself, and that he’d kept going.
Even so, there was a surprise left for him when he brought himself out of his stupor and walked to his open office door. Standing on the deep pile carpet of the living room, looking into his office, Logan could see that Rita was gripping his most recent page of notes. The page detailing his reactions to learning about all the lies he’d been told. So many lies. So many dead at his hand, so much suffering he’d inflicted. For the most despicable people on Earth.
That page of notes he had written in a deep purple felt tip. Usually he wrote with a Pentel mechanical pencil. But not this latest page. Somehow he had chosen the purple pen he kept in his centre desk drawer. Now, crumpled in her hand, wet from her tears, smeared by her handling of the page, were the words he had written down last night. The words expressing his determination to finally stop working.
In their first days of living together, Rita had often been startled by Logan. He would simply be there. She would not hear him enter. Often she did not hear him leave. He could come and go soundlessly, seemingly without effort. Hiking together in nearby parks he could pass silently, whether there was dry soil, Autumn leaves, or muddy ground. It took getting used to, but Rita no longer found it startling. That winter’s day, she had looked up.
She saw him standing there. She saw the tears flowing down his cheeks. Suddenly she was out of the chair and throwing her arms around him, collapsing into him, feeling his hands on her back. The two of them stood there and cried.
After a timeless interval that a part of Logan knew was eight minutes and thirteen seconds, because he always knew the time and he always knew the duration of events, Logan shifted back slightly, changed his posture, dropped his left arm, bent slightly, and swept Rita off her feet. He turned and carried her to the nearby sofa, where he sat, clinging to her, and she clinging to him.
There were no recriminations from Rita. There was no fear from her either. She knew that he wasn’t supposed to have pictures of photos he had been given. She understood that he’d always given back the originals, never kept any files, and had not kept records of things that would make the agency hunt him down. Even so, she was horrified.
So, too, was Logan. So he had rocked her gently in his lap, and moved his hands slowly, smoothing her hair, caressing her skin. They had sat together for a long, long time.
Finally she shuddered deeply, sighed out a long sigh. Rita drew in a breath and pulled her head back to see Logan’s face. She had moved a strand of her hair away from her field of view. She stared into his eyes. He stared back.
Rita said, "What now?"
Logan said, "Now we have to go."
Rita looked in his eyes and saw the kindness, the gentleness, the depth of his contrition, and heard in his voice the earnest conviction.She nodded. She gazed into his eyes for several more moments.
Then she had asked, "Won’t they come after us?"
Logan shook his head. "No," he said, " they’ll think we’re both dead. I have a friend at a city morgue in Baltimore. He doesn’t know my real name. Instead of going into the office today, I called in sick. There are two homeless people’s bodies in the trunk of my car, one man, one woman, both dead on arrival at hospital, neither with any identification. Neither one was autopsied. They were both scheduled for pauper’s graves."
After several more minutes explanation, the two of them set about packing backpacks of their personal possessions. Logan shredded all of his notes and photos. Together they brought the bodies in from the trunk of his car and arranged them in the bedroom.
Preparing for a long journey on foot, they showered together, dressed for the weather, and opened the back door. Then, while Rita waited outside, Logan took a hatchet to the natural gas line where it entered the furnace. Then he walked calmly across the house to the kitchen and took a magazine. Folding it in half, he set it in his oven, setting the temperature for 500 degrees Fahrenheit and leaving the door ajar. He also took a stack of junk mail and put it into the toaster, pushing down the activator switch. Then he walked out the door.
Donning their backpacks in the back yard, the two had walked beneath the stars out his back gate. There was a sort of alley way of grass between his back fence and that of another neighbour who owned a property facing a different street. Following this alley had led them to a small park maintained by the home owner association for the neighbourhood. Logan’s home was the last one on his dead end street before the park.
Then they had waited a few minutes in a clearing in the park. It was just after midnight when the gas from the broken furnace service pipe had reached the kitchen. It had also filled much of the house. There was a CRUMP! The fuel-air mixture of the natural gas and the air inside the house was ignited all at once, explosively. Suddenly the entire house was blazing.
Logan and Rita had turned and walked away. Later they had taken a bus away from the suburban town where they had been living.
A Task in Raven
At the same time that Karen’s team had been diverted to Raven, Virginia, Logan Wells had been notified that his services were needed. He packed a suitcase, put some tools into a briefcase, kissed Rita goodbye, and drove to the farmhouse where Karen Runningwolf had brought the owner’s whip.
Arriving at the driveway to the farmhouse in the twilight at 21:07, Logan was very gratified to see it guarded. Carolyn Niven and Ollie Devi were standing post about twenty-five feet down the drive. A steel gate stood athwart a cattle guard behind them. Seeing the headlights from Logan’s car turning into the drive, both Carolyn and Ollie unslung their rifles.
As soon as his car was fully on the drive, Logan stopped, put the car in park, pulled on the handheld emergency brake, rolled down all four windows using the electric controls, reached up and put on the driver-side dome light, then put his hands back on the steering wheel at ten and two. Ollie took aim at him through the passenger window from a position near the fence line while Carolyn approached the driver’s side of the visiting car cautiously.
Keeping both hands on the steering wheel, Logan watched calmly as Carolyn came to a stop ten feet from the car and lowered her rifle, clicking on its rail-mounted light which she directed first at Logan’s hands, then to a spot on his chest. She then elevated it slightly so the centre of illumination was on the indentation where his collar bones met, the bottom of the "sniper’s triangle."
Out of his right eye, Logan could see through the humid early June air the red laser that Ollie activated. Without flinching or looking around, Logan knew there was now a red target dot on the same spot.
Logan said, "Balmoral castle is located in Aberdeenshire but it stinks all the way to London."
Carolyn nodded. She said, "Since 1852." Then she tilted her head slightly to gesture Logan out of the car.
Only now did he move his left hand off the steering wheel to the door handle. Opening the door with that hand, he also calmly put his right hand on his seatbelt release, and carefully got out of the car. Without being asked he pushed the door shut, put his hands on the roof of the car above the driver side rear door, stepped back and leaned on his hands, his feet spread.
Meanwhile Ollie had shifted position to put his target dot on the side of Logan’s neck. Carolyn waited for that dot to be satisfactorily positioned. Then she slung her rifle and approached Logan. She searched him very thoroughly.
"Stay in the position, please," she said. Then Carolyn opened the driver door and reached down to release the trunk and then the hood. Starting at the trunk, she opened it, opened the suitcase and the briefcase, went through their contents quickly, closed them, pulled them out of the trunk, lifted its floor piece and verified the full size spare in its cradle. She then went to the front of the car, lifted the hood easily, and checked the interior of the engine compartment. Finding nothing amiss, she closed the hood, the trunk, and went to unlock the gate.
Ollie dropped his point of aim and turned off the laser. He said, "You can proceed up to the farmhouse."
Logan nodded. He got back in, took off the parking brake, put it in drive, waited for Carolyn to get the gate fully open, and then drove slowly up to the farmhouse. He was again gratified to note from his new parking place, as he got out of the car, that the gate was being locked behind him, and both Ollie and Carolyn were standing post outside it.
Karen was at the door of the farmhouse. Logan quickly mounted the stairs to the porch.
He said, "Incident commander. Please show me to the prisoner."
Karen nodded and held the door open. Inside the farmhouse with the front door closed, the front room was in darkness. Karen hadn’t put on the porch light. Now she clicked on her flashlight and led Logan to a back room. Opening the interior door, she turned off her flash, as the room lights were on.
The back room was a study. Chad Adams was standing next to the owner’s whip, monitoring vital signs. He looked up as Karen opened the door and shepherded Logan inside.
Closing the door behind them, Karen spoke. "We’ve posted guards behind the house. We have drones on patrol overhead. The farmer and his family went to stay with friends in town, as requested. I know I’m not supposed to ask your name, Mr. Difficult. But I do need to know how long we’ll be here."
Logan looked at Chad. He asked, "When was the last time the patient was dosed?"
Chad took out his patient log and recited, "At 20:15 there were signs of returning consciousness. I administered a minimal dose of benzodiazepine."
Logan nodded. He turned to Karen and said, "I’ll need your team here for the next four days. This interrogation will use sleep deprivation. If anyone on your team has ethical concerns, you’ll need to get replacements for them. Otherwise we can start as soon as I fetch my things from the trunk of my car."
Karen glanced at Chad. She tilted her head slightly.
Chad said, "When we found him, he was raping a young woman. I’ve seen the things they do to children. I’ve got no problem keeping him awake."
Karen nodded. She looked at Logan. "All my team is good to stay. We’ve got this place well in hand. There are patrols out from the local militias all around here. Anything comes within ten miles, we’ll be notified. The farm family left us plenty of rations and showed us where everything goes. There are sleeping rooms upstairs. Get your stuff, please."
Logan took his turn nodding. He turned back to Chad. "Administer flumazenil please. We want him awake from now on. No problem if he gets disoriented."
With that, the difficult man walked calmly and quietly to the door to the front room. Leaving it standing open, he crossed to the front door and out onto the porch. Minutes later he was back with his suitcase and briefcase.
Logan carried no weapons on this trip. He didn’t need them. But he also didn’t need to say anything about his skills. He was here to do a job, a difficult job. It was a job he had no taste for when he learned it, but he had learned well. After all, he had been taught by some of the most effective professionals in the business.
Freeing the enslaved, abolishing slavery, ending the depredations of the owners, these were necessary, vital, important ends. This week, those ends would be served, by Logan, by keeping a man awake for a great many hours, attending to his minimal physical needs, making sure he didn’t sleep.
Some time on the third day, information would start coming forth. Certain kinds of hypnotic blocks might need to be broken. Some consequences of the interrogation would potentially shatter the mind of the prisoner. Logan was inured to the process and able to get through it.
No part of him liked what he was doing here in Raven, Virginia. But, at last, he was using his skills at interrogation in service of ending tyranny. He was no longer working for the United States, but he was still fiercely loyal to the Americans his former employers had lied to for so many decades.
A difficult man set to work.
[End part twenty-four, continues in part twenty-five]
Jim Davidson is an author, entrepreneur, actor, and director. He is the cfo of KanehCN3.com and the vision director of HoustonSpaceSociety.net You can find him on Twitter.com/planetaryjim as well as Pocket.app and Flote.app also as planetaryjim. He appreciates any support you can provide as times are very difficult. See the Paypal link on this page, or Flote.app for crypto options. Or email your humble author to offer other choices. Please visit Kaneh’s IndieGoGo and please help him get to Paradox Colorado with a small gift if you are able.
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