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The Monkeywrencher, Part IV, All in by Vegard
The others were back later that day, and they were all really wired up from beating back the Nazis. All exited about having done something "real".
I started feeling resentful I hadn’t been with them and that they hadn’t even informed me what they were up to. Bitterness over my pitiful state and lack of purpose welled inside me.
"Wish I could have been there," I muttered, as Phil was regaling how he’d laid it on "that big fat Nazi-scumbag with the flag".
Phil stopped talking and looked at me. "Why?" he said, sounding genuinely puzzled, "What would you have done to them?"
Not realizing precisely what he meant I tried sounding tough, and said, "I would have kicked some ass, that’s what I would have done!"
Several others looked at me as well now. Phil had a bit of a smirk on his face, and I could feel my blood rise.
"You would huh?"
"Yeah!" taking my flat brim hat off, I stood up and scowled at him. Phil was fit, strong and good looking I suppose, but he only stood about 5’7’’. And he was sitting down. I really towered over him, but he didn’t seem very intimidated.
"Sit down Davey-Boy," Nathan had come up to me, and put a hand on my shoulder.
"You really want to help huh?" he said as I sat back on the couch, and I nodded, still kind of glaring at Phil. I’m not used to trying to look tough though, and I don’t think I managed too well.
"How’s Little-Davey gonna help?" Phil asked.
Nathan was looking at me, really studying me, and I shifted my gaze towards him.
He turned away from me, and talked to Karen,
"You know we talked about how it would have been nice to have someone on the inside of Force-88 right? We discussed it with Sarah over in Portland."
She looked back at him, and as if they shared a kind of understanding, she began to nod. "Yeah! That would work!" she said, sounding exited.
I had lost my "fierce" look now, as I looked from Nathan to Karen, and back again.
"What?" I said, feeling really bewildered.
"Do you want to do some real work for us David?" Nathan looked me seriously, right in the eye, holding a hand on my shoulder.
"Yeah!" I said, eager to hear what their next plans were, and to be part of it. Really paying attention this time.
"There’s something only you can do Dave!"
It felt good to be addressed as David and Dave, and I felt Nathan and the group really needed me.
"Anything!" I said, steeling myself, and straightening up, feeling braver than I had ever felt before. Their actions, my working out (sort of), and now being addressed seriously like this. I felt called upon.
"We need you to get in contact with Force-88, and infiltrate with them."
"You’re what, two months short of finishing up at the camp right?"
"Well, we want you, David, to start getting in touch with Force-88, still as David Parker, and gain their trust."
As the enormity of this began sinking in, I could feel my bowels loosen slightly. But I still stood straight.
"Can you do this for us?" Nathan asked.
Steeling myself I said, "Hell yeah!"
What a feeling. I felt elated, and I can swear the others looked at me with a lot more respect, and I really felt part of their celebrating after that.
The next day was Monday, and I was hung over.
It was still a few hours before I was going to the camp to clean, so I logged on and googled Force-88.
Clicking on to their home page I felt almost instant nausea. This group wasn’t trying to hide who they were, that’s for sure. It was bigoted trash, is what it was.
There was a link to a Facebook page, where the leanings of the group seemed more hidden.
Seeing a contact tab, I clicked it, and hesitantly wrote,
I saw you online, marching in Portland, and being hassled by those Planet First jerks.
I felt really unsure what to write, and felt really disgusted even writing with them, but Nathan and Karen said that me feeling unsure was good. As an insecure teenager that would be natural.
We had also worked on my already existing cover, which was that I was a loner, still in high school.
To my surprise I was answered immediately. "Hi David, How are you?"
"I’m good. How are you?"
"Why do you not have any friends on your Facebook-page?"
"I was scared," I wrote, hesitating before continuing, "Scared, someone would see I was looking you up, so I made a new one."
"So, is your name David Jones?"
"I mean, yes, it’s David. Not Jones."
"Can we video-chat?"
My heart was pounding. This was too sudden for me.
I audibly gulped, and cast a quick look behind me. I had a few posters there, but nothing political. It was all from games I played.
"Ok" I wrote, and almost immediately my face-time began buzzing.
Feeling like s**tting myself I clicked "Accept", and found myself face to face with a man in his forties. I was surprised. He didn’t look like a Nazi. He had a normal haircut for one thing, and a regular checkered shirt.
"Hi David! I’m Andrew," he said, smiling in to the camera at the other end.
I managed a weak "Hi!" back at him.
"Are you nervous?" he asked with sympathy in his voice.
"Do you mind taking your hat off David, so I can see you?" he asked, and I took off my headset to remove it. Facing him now with my half-inch hair on top, and no hair on the sides, baby-fat and pimply.
He talked, and I couldn’t hear him. Pointing at his own ears I caught on and put my headset back on.
"Nice haircut David!" he said.
Managing a small smile I said, "Thanks!"
"How come you’re home from school?"
Looking down I half muttered, "I told my Mom I was sick."
"Why’d you do that?"
Glad we’d discussed my cover the evening before, I said, "I’m having trouble with some other kids, and we have Phys. Ed. on Mondays, so…" I let it trail off, looking down again, masking my uncertainty as embarrassment.
Andrew was studying me, "Do you want to talk about it?" he said, sounding sympathetic. But I shook my head.
"How old are you?" he asked.
"Almost 17 sir," I said.
"And where do you live?"
I told him.
"I’m over in Colorado, but we have people in California."
"Up near here?" I asked, sounding genuinely eager.
"Yeah, not far."
I didn’t push it. Thinking I shouldn’t ask too much now.
"Would you like for us to keep in touch?" Andrew asked.
I nodded, and said, "Yes please."
Andrew smiled, "We’ll do that! Take care for now, ok David?"
And with that we hung up.
I sat back, and could hardly believe what had just happened.
"Wow!" I said quietly to myself, got up and walked in to the kitchen where I could hear Nathan, Liz and a few others talking.
I was acknowledged with nods from the others, as they kept talking. I guess they must have seen something like triumph in my face though, because they quieted and looked expectantly at me.
Grinning, I said, "I have just been on a video-chat with a guy calling himself Andrew, from Force-88"
Several gave a "Wow!" and they were all eager to hear my story. Seeing Liz looking at me with a kind of admiration felt totally awesome.
We discussed tactics a bit more, for my next contact with them, and then it was time for me to head to work at the logging camp.
Driving there I felt good about what I’d achieved that day, and thoughts began drifting to making more of a real Social Justice Warrior of me. I would have to ramp up my fitness program though. I really did.
Thinking about this I closed my bag of chips and tossed it in the back. I would throw it away after work, and get myself some healthier snacks.
In the coming weeks I was chatting, and on video-call, often with Andrew, and another man named William, whom Andrew had introduced as my "handler".
William lived somewhere in California, but they didn’t tell me where, and I didn’t ask. They seemed to appreciate this.
I had had to tell them my full name, David Parker, and how I lived with my Mom, and hadn’t seen my Dad in years.
"So, David. Is there someone we can talk to, to know a little bit more about who you are?" William asked one day.
"Uh," I was trying to think.
"What do you want to ask?" I asked, choking up a bit.
"Well, as you can imagine, we need to be sure we are not infiltrated by leftists, you know?" William said, adding, "We think you’re most likely solid, but we need to know for sure, okay?"
"Uh. Yeah. But I don’t want my family, or anyone at school, to know I’m in contact with you guys, you know?" I muttered, timidly.
William smiled, "Sure! We know how to do this. We’ll pretend I work for McDonald’s or something and that you want to work there, and I just call someone you could have used for reference, you know? Like a teacher, or former employer or something?"
I looked blankly at the lens, mouth slightly ajar, probably looking like Dopey-Davey, and with that I realized whom I had to use.
"Uh, There’s Geoffrey Smith I suppose, the foreman at the camp where I clean after school."
"Tell me about that."
So I told him how I had worked there almost 11 months now, cleaning restrooms mostly. Looking down as I said it, since I found it embarrassing.
"Is something wrong David?" he asked, looking more inquisitive than concerned.
I swallowed, and kept looking down, "I have to work there for another month, because of a prank…"
Silence at the other end, and I knew he needed the whole story. Or the whole story as the loggers knew it.
I also felt that this might be my ticket in, if I played my cards right.
So, I told William about how I’d been tricked in to placing a package with some bricks and a note in it, thinking this would make some kids at school want to hang with me, and I told him that I’d been caught.
"Why’d you think this would make them want to be with you?"
"’Cause they said so," I sniffed, and wiped my nose on the back of my hand.
"Who are "they"?"
"Mike, Nathan, Phil, Zoey and Liz," I said, trying to sound dejected, and going with the first names that came to mind.
"And why’d they make you do this?"
I sat quiet for a while, and he didn’t say anything. He just waited.
"Probably ‘cause I’m a big, fat looser," I said, feeling genuinely embarrassed as I said it.
"Don’t call yourself that! And look at me when I’m talking to you!" William sounded angry, and I looked up.
"Do you want to hang with us?" he asked.
I nodded, and still looking angry, he said, "Then get a grip of yourself!"
"Yes sir," I sat up straight, and looked expectantly at him.
"You being a looser is a thing of the past! When you’re with us, you’ll never be a looser again!"
I felt I was gaining his trust, and my almost proud smile must have seemed sincere to him, because he smiled back.
"So, what’s this foreman’s number?"
Thumbing my cell I found it, and recited it to him. He didn’t write it down, but punched it in straight away. Before hitting the call button, he asked me, "Is there a McDonald’s in town?"
I nodded, and he pressed dial, and put it on speaker. I sat in amazement at the speed in which these guys did things. It made sense I suppose, as it didn’t give others a chance to plan if they were up to infiltrating. As we were.
The foreman picked the phone up on the second ring,
"Geoff Smith speaking!"
"Hello Mr. Smith," William said amicably, "This is Will Stephens calling from McDonald’s, I’m calling in regards to a young man currently working for you, by name of David Parker."
"Ah, yeah, Davey-Boy. How can I help you?"
William gave a brief explanation about me having applied for work there.
"Eh, are the registers hard to use?" Smith asked.
"Not at all. Why do you ask?"
"Well, his mother told us he’s a bit "slow", you know," Smith sounded like he didn’t like mentioning it, and quickly added, "But, he’s done a good job cleaning for us, you know. It’s just, eh, well we obviously don’t let him near any of the machines or anything."
"I see," William studied me, and I looked down. Sneaking a peak back up I saw William indicating I lift my head, by pushing his thumb under his chin. I did, and not wanting to, I suddenly felt a surge of sympathy towards this man.
"Will this cause trouble do you think?" he asked Smith.
"Truth be told, I don’t know, but he’s socially awkward you know?"
"Well, as it is, he’s applied for work washing and cleaning. And from what you’re describing he should be ok doing that?"
"Oh, yeah. No problems there!"
William thanked him, and they hung up. He then studied me on his screen, and I could clearly feel the scrutiny.
"Well, are you?" he asked.
My mouth hanging open, I hitched my jaw up and asked, "Am I what?"
I genuinely felt stumped. How to answer that one?
My jaw sagged a bit again I suppose, as I looked back at him. And I shook my head.
"Why does your Mom think you’re slow?"
"Probably ‘cause I don’t have many friends," I muttered, before adding, in a stronger voice, "I do okay in school though. And I can drive!"
F***ing Karen and her big mouth I thought to myself.
Feeling I needed to convince William I wasn’t a retard I said, "I had to repeat sixth grade, ok? That’s probably why she said that. It was the year my Dad left, and well…"
Biting my lower lip now I looked timidly at him, and said, "I attend normal classes, and I’m not failing anything. Honest."
William suddenly began laughing, and said, "Relax son. You don’t have to be rocket scientist to be with us."
I breathed an almost audible sigh, and William closed off by saying, "I’ll have a talk with Andrew and the others, and we’ll be in touch, okay?"
"Yeah," I nodded, "Okay!"
I was looking forward to have Liz cut my hair again. This time the whole group discussed it at length. Should I have it all shaved off? Or would that seem like I was coming on too strong?
As a teen, scared of what his Mom would think, it didn’t seem like the right thing to do.
"Maybe he should let it grow out a bit? And let them shave it?" Phil suggested.
"What do you think Dave?" Nathan asked me.
I thought about it. How I loved to have Liz touch me, and I said, "How about we leave it longer on top, and still shave the back and sides? That way it will look the same to the guys up at the camp, since I always have my hat on there anyway?"
I felt Liz place the brimless cap on my head, and enjoyed the feeling as she ran the clippers over my three-week stubble, bending my head forward obediently to allow her to shave properly over the fat rolls at the back of my head. Enjoying her touch as she then used more time than before to taper towards the top of my head since it now needed a bit more attention.
As she put the finishing touch to it, she bent down and whispered,
"I think you’re very brave David!"
Her words were still echoing in my mind later that night as I stayed up late and exercised after the house became quiet.
It’s hard trying to get in shape and loose weight, but I’m working on it. And that night I walked for a full hour, and lifted some weights after.
I was only three weeks since I’d started, and I hadn’t had a chance to weigh myself yet, but my acne was really clearing up already.
After cooling off, I did my own ritual of shaving my back and sides smooth, bending my head forward as I shaved in the back, as to get at the stubble in the creases between the rolls.
Looking back up, I grabbed my comb and managed to comb my hair down a bit, and to the side. It was almost an inch long on top now, and I liked how it looked. Since I absolutely loved the feel of the smooth skin, I figured I would like to let it grow out a bit more on top, so that I could comb it properly to the side, but keep the back and sides shaved close.
How long would I be able to keep it growing on top though? With some unease I thought to myself that would probably be up to Misters Andrew and William, and some other white supremacists in Force-88.
Really hoping they would reject me, I fell asleep while stroking my smooth neck and dreaming of Liz.