Chapter Six: Shade Of The Oak Tree

Back in August, the day after the secret meeting, the Sherrif pulled up outside Larry's home. "Mornin', Larry", Sam Jenkins called out from behind the wheel when he saw Larry step outside. He watched as Larry kissed his wife good-bye and headed towards the car. Jenkins observed that Stewart was dressed in just a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. No sign of a weapon, although he knew Larry had a revolver and a CCW for it. "Ready to meet the Colonel?", Jenkins asked. Larry smiled and "Let's do it."

Their destination was a few miles outside the town of Ruth. 'Colonel' Roger Maas was the leader of the Huron County Militia. An ex-Marine Gunnery Sergeant, Maas had been leader since the group's inception in 1993. The group had it's ups and downs over the years. It boasted over a hundred members till the Oklahoma City bombing. Then, membership dropped down to about a dozen and a half of the faithful. After a couple of years, it began growing again. No doubt that in the past few months, it had swelled to it's peak numbers.

As they approached Maas' place, they saw several men dressed in camo-BDUs carrying rifles. Sam stopped the marked cruiser when he came upon them. "Mornin', Sherrif, what can we do you for?", asked Kevin Harper, who was apparently in charge of the roadblock. "We wanna see your boss, Kevin.", answered Jenkins. Harper backed away and used a portable radio. He then flagged the car through.

They slowly drove up the 300 or so yards of dirt road, past a treeline to the residence. Maas owned 25 acres, most of it wooded. He bought the place about ten years ago when he retired from The Corp. He had his pension and earned extra income as a liscenced gun dealer and shooting instructor. Deeper into the property was 'The Pit', and earthen-worked shooting ranging. Maas had trained many of Jenkins deputies the honing their skills.

A collection of trailer homes and sheds came into view as the car passed the treeline. Larry and Sam could see a beehive of activity. To the right were eight men doing some form of drilling, apparently in hand-to-hand combat. Over on the far left, past the trailers, another group was working on their weapons, probably getting ready for target practice. Sam drove the car towards the double-trailer home in the center. Maas and another, his right-hand man, Hank DeWitt, were standing outside, ready to greet the Sherrif and Larry. One look at the flagpole told the whole story. The American flag was up-side down, and below it flew a bright gold Gadsen flag, with the "Don't Tread On Me" snake.

Sam and Larry got out of the car, and Maas and DeWitt exchanged pleasantries with the Sherrif. The 'Colonel' then turned towards Larry. "What's the Junk-Man doing with ya, Sam? We don't need any used tires here." As the two militiamen chuckled, Larry shook his head and smiled to Maas. "I always say nice things about you, too, Roger". Larry and Roger had met many times before and usually had some serious arguments concerning politics. There was no doubt in Larry's mind that Maas saw him as either a fool or extremely naive.

Sam explained that they wanted to discuss some matters with Maas. He breifly mentioned that there had been a meeting yesterday concerning the growing unrest across the country. Roger already knew that there had been a meeting, though his intelligence people did not have details. "Well then," offered Maas, "let's step into my office". He motioned them towards a group of folding chairs underneath a large oak tree. The sun was already making things hot, and the cool shade was welcome. Larry smiled as he thought to himself that he may be participating in the drafting of their own version of the Magna Carta, which was also hammered out under the shade of a friendly tree.

Jenkins began spelling out some details. He told of how the commisssioners were organizing for as much fuel and other critical supplies to be acquired. Contact with the surrounding counties would also be made to further coordinate efforts. Then, Jenkins got around to what Maas had been waiting for. "I have been authorized," Jenkins announced, "to form a volunteer posse and to deputize as many people as I feel neccessary to safeguard Huron County."

Maas and DeWitt looked at each other and smiled. "Well,", started Roger, "don't that beat all. So you want to make our militia official?" "It kinda looks that way, Roger.", answered Jenkins. "What will be our primary role?", asked DeWitt. The Sherrif pulled out a detailed map of the county and spread it out on the ground. All roads, even most of the dirt ones were shown, as well as some topographical information. With bright red markers, there were also two sets of numbers by each town.

"My staff and I were up most of the night working on this.", explained Jenkins. "We cross referenced DMV and voter records to come up with a number of how many men between the ages of 18 and 45 there are in each town. That's the first number. The second number is based on hunting liscences and gun permits. We intend to organize as many people as possible. Each town will have it's own unit, led by the local constable. In Bad Axe and some of the larger towns with police, then they will make allowances for several units in each, depending on how many law enforcement personel available."

"I tend to figure that if we can muster at least ten percent of the numbers listed in most places, we'll be doing alright. With Bad Axe being our only large town, I am worried about trouble breaking out there. But, if we can get our acts together fast enough, I think we can prevent that from even happening. Mind you, we will not tolerate vigilantes. Each posse, or militia unit if you like, will be under the direction of a recognized member of law enforcement."

"As far as your group goes, you may maintain whatever pecking order of ranks you have. But where, when, and how you operate will be under the Sheriff's Department's authority. We'll cut you as much slack as possible, but when one of my deputies gives an order, I expect it to be obeyed."

Roger Maas looked at the map. If what Jenkins said was true, then the county was going to be organizing between 2,500 and 3,000 armed men. All of whom lived here and knew the land. They could probably field another 5,000 if need be. Maas' militia numbered a tad over a hundred. Most had just joined or rejoined recently. Only about a dozen or so were worth a spit in the old Marine's eyes. He couldn't fight everyone, especially his neighbors. There would be enough civil war going on without a local one here in the county.

"Okay.", replied Maas. "We'll cooperate." Sam and Larry exchanged smiles and drew deep breathes. "What's the first item on the agenda?", asked Maas.

Larry took over the briefing from here. He pointed to spots on the map and talked about setting up roadblocks at the major highways. First was M-25, which followed the outline of Michigan's thumb along the coast of Lake Huron. Larry suggested that a roadblock be established and manned at both the south-east end of the county, to restrict traffic from the south, and at the west end as well. Next was M-53, which cut straight down the middle and went from Port Austin, at the tip of the thumb, clear down through Detroit.

Roger and Hank agreed that this was a sound precaution. DeWitt then made the suggestion that each roadblock be maintained by at least a dozen men. "They can work is shifts of four, each doing duty four hours on, four off, and then four more on. That way the teams would remain fresh and not get bored. To save on transporation, Larry proposed that each crew of twelve man the roadblock for 3 days, then be releaved by another dozen. People are still going to have to do work on their own places, etc..., so we can't have them there all the time. Everyone agreed with that.

Maas suggested that they take a ride out to scout for good locations. Arrangements were made and Maas left another one of his officers in charge of the training that was going on. Jenkins, Stewart, Maas, and DeWitt piled into the Sheriff's cruiser and left for the first site on M-25, leading south to Detroit.

About twenty minutes later, they came across a likely spot. One side of the road and a steep cliff looking out over Lake Huron. On the other side was a small hill with a stand of pine trees. Larry suggested that a blind could be set up in the trees for lookouts. DeWitt agreed. They also noticed a house that was for sale and not occupied. Jenkins said he'd get the key for it so the house could be used as a base for the roadblock. DeWitt drew up a rough map and then suggested where some earthworks be prepared. Larry mentioned using 55 gallon drums filled with dirt set up in a staggered formation to slow traffic down. In about thirty minutes, the four men were satisfied and headed off to scout the next location on M-53.

This one would be easier, since Maas mentioned that one of their members had a farm right off the road in the general area. After meeting the owner, who agreed to help, they then made a quick survey of the site. A shallow creek made for a natural barrier and the bridge over it an excellent choke point.

The drive to the third site took longer, nearly an hour. Just west of Caseville, they found a good spot that also had a drop-off on the Lake Huron side. There were no homes near there, but Maas said that he had two old trailers that could be hauled out there and set up in short order. A source for drinking water wound have to be found. Larry said he could set up one of his scrap-car windmills and provide at least some DC electricty. Being near the coast, there'd be plenty of wind. Jenkins said he'd have someone come out by tommorrow to find and dig a well.

As they drove back to Maas' place, the four men were in good spirits, feeling the joys of accomplishment. Clearly, they were well on their way to getting ready for what ever the future held. They discussed 'Rules Of Engagement', which put the Sheriff off a bit. They did agree that at least one deputy be stationed at each roadblock and that Maas could have a three-man team with each group. The rest would have to be drawn from locals. DeWitt also added that they had enough HAM radio gear so eveyone could stay in contact.

Maas also offered to help train the new units to be formed. Jenkins was glad of that. His own manpower would be stretched thin. "We'll start off with a few people from each area who would in turn then train others in their own communities.", Roger said. He then went on to say that it was his experience that in most military units, only a handfull of people did all the real fighting.

"We'd be lucky if 3-5% of recruits had any significant prior experience with rifles. In Vietnam, most just fired wildly in any old direction. Most of the real work was done with artillery, or by those who were good at sniping. We do have an advantage here with so many hunters. Still, it's one thing to shoot at an animal for sport, and a whole other thing to shoot at people who are shooting back at you."

As they grew near to Maas' place, Roger then turned to Larry and brought up the old argument. "Sam, just what exactly is Junk-Man's involvement gonna be in all of this? You do realize he's the next best thing to a traitor?" "A traitor?", Sam asked. "What the hell are you talking about? Larry has been an excellent advisor to us in this. I know he's been saying that society was gonna breakdown for years."

"That may be,", Roger offered, "but he has some strange opinions about our nation's Constitution." Larry then spoke up. "Look, you guys have been beating the drum for returning to the original intent of the Founding Fathers for years. But the reality is that we haven't had that for over a hundred years. Some might say not since the Civil War. Even Jefferson admitted that he trashed the Constitution when he made the Louisianna Purchase. One could even say Washington threw it away during the Whiskey Rebellion."

"I've never said that the Constitution was a bad document, Roger. It was a tremendous leap towards self-rule when concieved. But like all works of Man, it's not perfect. It had flaws. When the Swiss wrote their constitution in the 1830s, they recognized that ours gave too much power to the Congress. That's why they only gave their legislature the power to spend tax money but kept the power to tax with the citizens."

"My basic point is that while it was a great document, it needs work to make it a better one. If we just go backwards, things may be fine for a generation or two, but eventually you'd condemn our children and grandchildren to the same problems we face today. Now, more than ever, it's time to look forward, so we don't leave the same legacy of corruption."

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The material you have just read is a chapter in the on-line fictional story, "When Autumn Leaves Fall" by Andrew Zarowny, copyrighted 1997. All characters and circumstances are fictional and are not intended to bare any resemblence to actual people alive or dead. You have the author's permission to copy or reproduce this material so long as you charge no money for it's reproduction or distribution.