Title:  War's End

Chapter 23

Rob's Awakening


Razorback, Arkansas

The guys had nothing to do, so they were watching television.  There was naked bimbo wrestling on at 2:00 a.m., so after many beers, they were primed to watch it.  It seemed like there was a lot of nothing to do since John and Slim died.  Homeland Security and the FBI came and searched.  Asked a lot of stupid questions.  Most of the guys clammed up.  In the end, John White's death this was ruled a suicide brought on by his depression over losing the election.  Slim's death was blamed on the fact that John White had taken his life, leaving Slim anchorless and without the fatherly guidance he got from White.  Rob was relieved it didn't go any further than that.  He wasn't sure that he could hold up under questioning by the FBI.  Fortunately, they left him alone and concentrated their questioning on Jim Kilpatrick and the Warner Brothers, the suspected ringleaders of the compound.  The FBI saw White’s anointing of Rob for what it was--a last ditch publicity stunt to steer suspicion away from his core group.

"Hey," Jim replied when he queried the TV to find the wrestling match and the only thing they could see on most the channels was some damn Russian ceremony.  "Would you look at that? They got Kennedy up there with that Commie, Petrovsky, and whole bunch of other fellers.  I wonder what they're up to now? And take a look at that bitch! I haven't seen her before? Wonder what she's doing there with those damn Chinks and Turbans.”

Everybody started watching this "Chechen" thing, deriding the notables and generally making a game of what appeared to be a very serious affair.  Ralph Warner pitched in: "Them Chechens is Moslem just like them Arabs and Palestinians.  Look what they did during that there Iraq war.  Only fit to ride camels and donkeys.  If it wasn't for their damn oil, I'd say, kill em all.”

"Would you look at that? They've all laid down and are prayin to Mecca! Never saw so many of em in one place before. Like ants!  From up here in the blimp I could pick em off, one by one, Rata, ... tat, tat, tat, ... tat.” He pretended to rake the crowd with one of his favorite assault rifles. They settled back to listen to the speeches.  Prepared to wisecrack at every word.  And then it happened. Right before their eyes.

"Will ya look at that? He's killing em all! Look! He even got Kennedy!" They were all at full attention now, watching the plasma screen intently--eyewitnesses to history in the making.  "Gawd, they're beating him to death! Never thought I see anything like this.  What a bunch of animals! I think I'm going to throw up!" Killer George wasn’t fooling. He rushed the bathroom.  With all the cameras rolling, it was all too real.  It turned Rob’s stomach, too.  Still, he couldn’t turn his eyes and ears away from the unfolding scene.

They crowded around the TV and watched as the notables were rushed and carried back into the mosque.  Watched the security guards come out of nowhere to cordon off the bloody body of the attacker and secure the people in the mosque.  After photographs were taken, the attacker, too, was carried off into the mosque.  "Look! They're coming back out.  It's Kennedy with that good lookin bitch! I don’t know why but I'm glad that he's not hurt.”

"Looks like they're fixin to start the program back up again! Kennedy's gonna talk!"

The following night

Rob was tossing in his sleep.  Thoughts of the last few years crowded in on him hard and gave him nightmares.  He had to do something.  But what? Finally, the sun was streaming in and it was morning. He thought of his mother.  Strange? He hadn't thought of her in years.  Now he thought of her all the time.  What could he do? Call her? She probably didn't even live there anymore.  If he did call her, what would he say?

Soon it was near noon and he’d only had about four hours of nightmarish sleep.  He got up and took a walk.  It was cool, but the sun was warm.  When he passed the stockade, the dogs started barking.  Inside, he could see the pale skin of two shirtless young men.  Old habits die hard.  They were two drifters Jim had picked up.  After their welcome in the camp had worn out and they began bitchin like the kids and they were, Jim had thrown them in the stockade.  Deja Vu.  Rob didn't know if they were destined to be new recruits or fodder for the pigs.  Based on their crybaby attitudes, he thought the latter.  The country was all lathered up about missing kids and young girls.  But, with unemployment the way it was, nobody ever came looking for young men in their 20s in all the years they had been chopping them up.  He never could stomach it.  But it was a way White controlled the cult.  Now that White was gone, the practice had a mind of its own and continued. 

Rob had disturbing thoughts about not continuing.  He thought about letting those poor guys out, but then remembered, in the distant past, of those that escaped or tried to escape and were gunned down, run down by the dogs, or beaten to death by their overzealous pursuers.  Some of the guys were butt fuckers and enjoyed terrorizing those in the stockade before they were killed.  Rob had always stayed away from them.  He tried not to think of any of them anymore as he hopped in the truck and headed for town. 

"Hello? ... Hello?" Rob heard his mother's voice and almost hung up.  He spun on his heel, switched the cordless pay phone from his left to his right ear, and didn’t say a word. "Hello? ... Hello?" Her voice sounded raspy and old, not like the mother he knew.  His breathing was heavy and rapid.  He knew she could hear it.  He wasn't no perv.  He had to speak, .... 

"Mom, ... it's me, Rob.  I would’ve called earlier, but, ....”  He couldn't go on.  He didn't know what to say.

"Rob? Did you say Rob? I don't know.  He left years' ago.  Left without a word.  Must be dead by now.  Left me with nothing and all alone.  What kind of son would do that? You tell me.  No, I don't know where he is and probably never will, .…"

"It's me, ... Rob! Your son! I'm calling to, ...."

"Robbie, Robbie, is that really you? Where are you? Why haven't you called? ..."

"Mom.  Yes, it's really me.  I'm in Arkansas.  I'm coming home soon.  Will you be there Monday?" All he could hear was her sobbing on the other end.  He hung up and headed for the truck.

“Please put me back on the hook!  You will be tracked and fined if you don’t put me back on the hook in five minutes.  Have a nice day!”  The damn cordless pay phone was talking to him.  He thought about throwing it in a dumpster, but then thought better, remembering that he’d had to enter two verifiable means of ID to release it from the hook in the first place. Damn technology had you coming and going these days.  Better to be careful then picked up for a stupid mistake.

Back at the compound, he went straight to White’s old office, now occupied by Jim Kilpatrick, and told him his need to leave and see to his mother.

"What you mean you're leaving? Nobody leaves the Aryan Nation! That was John White's rule, and, by God, … that's my rule.” Jim was adamant about his stance.  Now that he was in charge, nobody was gonna go leavin the Nation just because they thought they could. 

"Do what you gotta do, Jim.  I don't care anymore.  I'm leaving tomorrow.  You can stop me if you like, but that wouldn't be wise.  My mom knows where I'm at, and they'll come looking for me.  The Nation can't stand any more publicity right now.  Let's face it.  John's gone.  Slim's gone.  John was half crazy anyway.  The Nation has lost its center and its right hand.  You can hang on if you like, but I'm leaving.” As he walked out the door of the office, he expected the report from Jim’s pistol and the searing pain the bullet would cause as it tore through his body.  It didn't come.  He kept walking.  All he could feel was Jim's stare burning a hole in his back. 

Rob slept much better that night. The next morning, he was awake before sunup.  He showered and picked up his belongings.  There wasn't much for all the years he spent bowing to John White.  He took the white Ford pickup.  It was old and pretty much his vehicle anyway.  When he pushed the button for the automatic gate, it opened for the last time.  Soon it was receding in his rearview mirror. 

It took him three days to get back to the Bay Area.  He made sure he didn't have any guns, cameras, or anything suspicious in his duffel.  He got through all the checkpoints all right, and stayed in the cheap motels he was used to. On I-880 Rob passed by the rebuilt bridges and was glad he didn’t have to cross any of them.  He passed by that rental van still in storage in Fremont.  It gave him bad memories.  But that was all behind him now. It was about 11:00 a.m. Monday morning when he arrived at the old house in San Jose.  He was home.

The paint was faded and the house was falling apart.  The landscape was half dead and barely cared for.  The rest of the houses on the street appeared to be well cared for.  Neglect marked his childhood home.  It wasn't the way he remembered it.  But then, it was time he took responsibility for why it was that way.  Rob parked in the driveway and climbed the steps to the front door like a stranger.  He rang the doorbell but it didn't work.  He found himself knocking on the window of the door, the draperies pulled so tight that he could see nothing.  No one came to the door.  He knocked even more loudly, but still no one came.  Finally, he went around back to the more familiar door. 

 An unfamiliar old Chrysler sat with flat tires fading in the sun behind the house.  It didn't look like it had been driven in years.  The rear door was waiting.  Rob tried it, and it was open.  He slipped in and passed the kitchen filled with rubbish and dirty dishes.  He found her sitting in a worn old chair in her smoke filled bedroom watching an ancient TV with a drink in her hand.  All wrinkled and gray, she was a shriveled-up version of the beauty he once knew as his mother.  Instinctively, he rushed to her side, wrested the drink from her hand, and hugged her, kissing the wrinkles on her forehead as he did. 

She tried to raise their arms around him.  "Oh Robbie, your old mother doesn't know how to greet her son right!" Her words were slurred and tears poured down her cheeks as she tried to rise from the chair.

She was obviously too drunk to walk, so Rob guided her frail body back into its familiar spot and held her on his knees as they both cried.  After awhile, she calmed down and fell asleep.  Rob lifted her gently from the chair and carried her to the bed.  She was light as a feather and so fragile she felt like she would break. She must have stayed up drinking and waiting ever since he called.  He left her sleep, and still crying to himself, went back out to the truck and got his things.  His room was dusty, but familiar.  He wondered if that old computer still worked.  No time to mess with it now.  He went down to the kitchen and started cleaning it up.  By evening she was awake and he had a hot meal waiting for her. 

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