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Stunned out of his anger, it takes Perry a moment to consider the question, before he remembers asking it himself once upon a time ago. “It’s cause, when you’re geared up, you’re running, hustling, so it’s meant to look like the flag blowing back.”

“That’s kinda silly. It’s just like the government to have us all blindly running forward, ya know, winners walk backwards, go side to side and even hang upside down if they gotta.”

The word "win" does something bad to Perry, so he lunges for the bars between his and Cranked Up Billy’s cell. He just manages to grab the druggie lunatic by the strands of his beard. With a mighty jerk, he bashes Bill’s face against the bars, once, twice…

A shadow moves into the hallway before the holding cells “Shut the fuck up,” Officer Longshaw says, stepping to the cells with his hands on his hips. His gun belt has been removed. Like the sight of those flashing police cruiser lights, Perry lets Cranked Up Bill fall back into his own cell. The squad car’s lights pulled Perry out of that…red fog and that’s when he woke up and realized where he was and what he was doing. Perry remembers the cop pointing a gun at him. He also remembers the cop asking if he’d be alright the night Longshaw showed up in his sister’s driveway to explain to him that she wouldn’t be coming home for a little bit.

“You calmed down a little?” Longshaw asks Perry, and it sounds to Perrylike Longshaw wants to call him “son” but maybe he respects Perry too much to slyly talk down on him like that. “I don’t know how I am.” Perry hears himself say.

“Let’s get you out of here…buddy.” Longshaw unlocks the cell and extends a hand for Perry to follow him.

“What’d he win the fucking lottery? Or is this special fourth privileges for veterans? I was a volunteer firefighter back in the day, where’s my…” Perry and Longshaw are out of the room with the holding cells before Cranked Up Bill can finish sputtering.


It’s a sad fucking day, when you have to get somebody else to fight your war for you. Longshaw debates leading Perry into his office, where there’s a tall bottle of malt Home Sweet Home freshly cracked and sitting on his desk, hardly touched. Time is of the essence. It’s getting dark. The firework shows will be starting soon and Perry shouldn’t be late. He’s a bomb ready to go off. A bomb that’s been shooting sparks all over the place before it truly erupts into color and sound.

In the hours between finding Perry and locking him up, contacting Frank to let him know his excuse for not making it to the party and now, after much mournful contemplation, Longshaw’s got a big brilliant idea. It’s horrible, too, but only for Perry and maybe one or two of those poor naked girls that get caught in the crossfire.

It’s like in that movie n’ book Rambo, when good old John Rambo goes a little nutty in a small town after being harassed by the local police. In the movie Rambo II, John Rambo is given a purpose, a mission to go rescue POW’s still remaining in Vietnam, and just like that his violent capacity for terror becomes less tragedy and more patriotic justice. Longshaw thought Perry was just another heroic victim, until he did a little digging on the old, big-boxed computer that sits gathering dust half the time on his desk. Before Perry got sent home with a purple heart clenched in his fist, he was a god damn machine. He saved something like a dozen lives during a botched operation where his own brothers where getting hacked up and torn to pieces. Perry isn’t just a heroic old-fashioned army man, he’s a warrior. He knows how to kill, and act under pressure. All that’s happened now is, his sensors are fucked up. If Perry is steered toward the right kind of enemy…he could do wonders.

Frank’s going to die. What matters now is who takes over everything. Frank’s boys are scum and the people up above will eventually realize that and kill them all, too. Longshaw can save the people up top the trouble, and he can keep his hands relatively clean while he does it. It’s a sick, fucked up thing, but this is a regime change. This is the time wherepeople like Frank and, unfortunately, people like Longshaw himself, have to get dirty. Innocent people could die in the ensuing scuffle between the remnants of Frank’s crew and those who dwell above. The whole town could be destroyed and children could be harmed. Soon as he thought of the children, Longshaw knew he had to go through with it.

Perry’s already doomed, there’s no coming back for him. Throughout history and America’s black-bleached underbelly, no change of leaders is conducted without bloodshed. And all the while, those without a mind are tossed to the gutter. Perry doesn’t deserve to be in no gutter.

Officer Longshaw leads Perry to his squad car. The station is small, and empty. Nobody sees them. In the trunk of his Sheriff’s car is a fine selection of confiscated guns, a vest, and a SWAT helmet. It’s all petty, ugly, and can’t be traced back to Longshaw. It will do.