Called To Arms Again
Sample # 1
By Jeff Salter
Grit doesn’t fade away ... it just becomes crusty. With harrowing elements right out of today’s headlines, this story reaches back into the sturdy heartbeat of people raised during the Depression and tested during World War II. Though the old uniforms haven’t fit in many decades, their resilient spirits still have that same intensity which helped save democracy.
Needing only a fresh angle to write her Veteran’s Day special, Kelly discovers first-hand that the Greatest Generation still has enough grit to fight back. While all the authorities
are occupied during a massive Homeland Security drill, an urban gang of thieves targets an isolated retirement subdivision ... figuring the crippled geriatrics would offer no resistance.
Though Kelly’s widowed boyfriend came along only for a post-funeral luncheon, Mitch soon finds himself leading a mis-matched flanking team. Kelly’s good friend Wade has his own assignment, with a home-made mortar and lots of illegal gunpowder.
Maybe it’s difficult to remember everyday things like taking pills, but these octogenarians have never forgotten it was up to them to defend family, home, community, and country. The outcome of their courageous stand depends on the resolve and resourcefulness of an unlikely ensemble of eccentric elderly neighbors, several American Legion members, and others spanning four generations.
From Chapter One
“What would you do if criminal invaders were in your own neighborhood, eager to take whatever they wanted? What if they’re ready to hurt whoever they encountered and probably willing to kill any citizen of any age who resisted?”
The large man’s question caught her completely off guard and Kelly unconsciously backed away half a step. She was the reporter and their official interview was a week away.
The American Legion representative had already been seated in her editor’s office when Kelly walked in. She’d known Commander Coffey would be there, but had expected him to be in some sort of quasi-military uniform — decked out in medals and patches with a garish cap covered by colorful pins. Instead, he wore a short sleeved buttoned shirt with seersucker trousers.
Maybe her assignment wouldn’t be as routine as Kelly had predicted. “Well, Commander…”
“Call me Gene.” With considerable difficulty, he rose from his chair.
“It appears our interview, which I thought was set for next week, is already in progress.” She eyed the Herald editor, Mr. Kohlick, who merely shrugged. “To answer your question, I guess it might depend on who the invaders were.”
Already shaking his head, Coffey’s jowls jiggled like a bulldog’s.
“Their origin matters very little, young lady. My question is not so much about tactics as it’s basically a test of your reactions. You’d be surprised at some of the answers I’ve gotten.” He extended his hand, thick and hairy like a bear paw.
Kelly gripped it. “I’m Kelly Randall.” His clasp was firm but not punishing, and he didn’t hold on too long. “I believe I’m responsible for the upcoming Veterans Day special section, unless something’s changed in the last few minutes.” She sneaked another look toward Editor Kohlick.
“Possibly,” replied Coffey. “Let’s hear the rest of your answer. What would you do in response to a large scale hostile threat?”
The editor indicated a nearby chair for Kelly. Coffey waited until she sat to return to his own seat. He grunted as he made contact.
Kelly was a few months past thirty but could pass for early twenties. “I’ve never thought about it, but I don’t guess it’d do any good to call 9-1-1.” She tried to smile, but it felt too
uncomfortable. Somehow, it appeared her assignment hinged on how she responded
— and she needed the money. It was the first year Kohlick had assigned this section to a part-time staffer. “Okay, Commander, if I have a proper grasp of your question…” She squirmed slightly in the hard wooden chair. “…I believe you’d defend your family and home.”
Coffey nodded and his expression indicated cautious approval. “Go on.”
“If it was a small attack then you’d probably be on your own, using whatever you had at hand.” She searched the editor’s face for clues. Nothing. “But if a bigger area was involved or a large number of invaders, I suppose you’d seek assistance outside of your home and collect whatever resources you could.”
A broad grin split Coffey’s jowly face as he turned to the editor. “She’ll do just fine, Kohlick. You finally got the right man for this job.”
“Man?” She cleared her throat dramatically.
Coffey rose again, very slowly as before. “My apologies, Ma’am. I meant the right person to handle this assignment. Clearly, you are not a man.” His eyes quickly scanned her, high and low; it was obvious he approved.
“In that case, Commander, I believe we’ll keep your upcoming interview in the section.” She winked, but it was not necessary because Coffey was already chuckling. They both knew he had enough clout to name anyone, from mayor on down to dogcatcher, to wrangle those twelve pages.
“Young lady, I think we’ll get along just fine.” He confirmed the date and time of their interview and then exited slowly, obviously favoring his left foot. “Gout,” he explained without turning his head. “Some kind of ull-rick’s acid in my body.”
Kelly didn’t like watching anyone limp from uric acid inflammation, but she waited until Coffey was gone to turn back to Kohlick. “This felt like a trap. Did you know he was going to interrogate me?”
“Not really. He just said he wanted to meet the person who was heading up the Vet special this year.” The editor plopped into his own chair with an audible exhalation of air. “Coffey said last year’s section was terrible and our man Fincher completely missed the boat.”
That was also Kelly’s opinion of Fincher’s work. “So what does Coffey want?”
Kohlick shook his head. “Not completely sure, but apparently you’re the one he wants to write it.”
Kelly looked toward the open door. “Thank goodness.” I really need that money.
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