Episode 80 - If you want a thing done well, do it yourself

I've been somewhat melancholy with the monotony of my days at home. The only thing sparking my interest in the last few days was that incessant thought of going back to the service. My days consisted of me just hanging around, going for walks around town and the occasional visits to the cemetery. I woke up a little later than usual this morning. I cooked breakfast and read the newspaper trying to catch up with the latest developments in the Mulberry Ridge Story. It was around 10 AM. I was cleaning up the kitchen a bit, looking through the window out to the backyard in which I played as a kid. It brought back memories from 1983… from when Albert and Irvin, my two best friends moved away and left me friendless and alone. That same year my dad got hurt on the job and we were forced to sell our automobile. For our family, the Reagan 80’s was a time when the liveliness of our neighborhoods was sucked dry, neighbors moved away and Buffalo seemed like a ghost town with boarded-up storefronts. The Reagan era brought a wave of homeless packed alleyways, crack cocaine saturated the streets, gangs shook passive neighborhoods and civil rights were pushed against the ropes. These were tough times and it’s a surprise that I turned out to be a nice guy after all. But it was painful just thinking about it. As I engulfed myself in sadness, I realized that my cell phone had been ringing for a while. - Who could it be? - I said out loud while putting the last of the dishes away. It was a new phone: hardly any one had my number. Curious, I picked up the phone and answered the call. - Hello!? - I said in a rude manner. On the other side of the line, a soft voice responded: - John? This is Susan… Susan Walker. Sorry to bother you this early - I was surprised. Suddenly, my rudeness went away. I sat by the kitchen table wondering how she got my number. - Is everything ok? What’s up? - I asked her. - Well, I don’t know…Do you have a TV? You may want to turn it on - she said exasperated. I walked to the living-room, searched for the remote control and tried to turn the TV on. - What channel? I asked her while getting frustrated with the remote. - It doesn’t matter! It’s all over the news! - said Susan irritated. Unfortunately, the old TV in my apartment didn’t have a good reception. I went up and down channels to finally end up on channel 29. What I saw left me flabbergasted. The same reporter that approached me at the FBI Plaza was reporting live from the outskirts of the town of Arcadia. Below the screen the headlines read: ARCADIA COUNTY RESIDENTS BEING EVACUATED BY THE MILITARY EARLY THURSDAY. I sat on the couch and turned up the volume:

The US Military prompted the declaration of local disaster emergency in Arcadia County and evacuation of residents in areas along the Mulberry Ridge State Park. As of 3:30 a.m. today, more than 1,300 people had been evacuated from their homes in areas of Arcadia Township, Morgan Township, Phillipsburg and Claiborne Township. Shelters have been opened at the Knox Fire Company firehouse in Belvedere and at High Schools across Anderson County. The proclamation designates Arcadia County as disaster area due to a massive gas leakage in a military outpost in the Mulberry Ridge area. The US Military ordered evacuations well in advance before the gas reaches populated areas. It prohibits traffic from traversing those municipalities except for the movement of Police, Fire, Military or any other official uses. The incident follows last week’s arrest of several high ranked military personnel in what’s being called a huge blow to National Security. The advisory step is being taken to avoid traffic congestion that could hamper emergency efforts.

- John? Are you there? Are you watching this? - asked Susan. I pressed the mute button on the remote and replied in shock: - Something bad happened; something “real” bad! There’s no gas leakage… It has to be Ivanov and his man! This is insane! They are evacuating the whole County!!! - I was infuriated. The situation had got out of hand and now the population of Arcadia County has been involved. As I talked to Susan about the situation, a familiar face came on the TV screen: Capt. MacAlister! I turned the volume up again. He was asking the Fox News reporter to leave immediately and even though the reporter insisted in shoving the microphone in his face, the Captain kept a polite attitude. The network then switched to images of road barricades across town. I shut off the TV, got off of the couch and paced around the living room while talking to Susan on the phone. - So it’s set then. Let’s meet up in Belvedere as soon as possible. In the mean time, you should try to contact Roy. He owns us a huge favor. I’ll see what I can do about getting there. I’ll call Sgt. Palmer and find out what’s going on. Keep your phone with you at all times. I’ll be calling you soon - I told Susan before ending the call. I saved her number on my cell phone and headed for the kitchen. I grabbed my pistol out of one of the cabinets, locked the apartment and headed into the hallway. My vacation was officially over. This is what happens when you leave someone else to finish the job for you. In my mind I had only one thought: putting an end to this madness once and for all.

by Corporal John Harris, June 14, 2007