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Guy Fawkes before King James, Sir John Gilbert, Circa 1750
"They ache for judgement day."

They meet in out-of-the-way places, a shed on one member's family farmstead, warmed by a barrel fire fed with scrap lumber. Their meetings combine the camaraderie of a frat brother kegger with the solemnity of religious retreat. One member, typically the host, leads but never in a domineering way, for these men never responded well to dominion. Lifelong misfits, they hold exclusively non-professional jobs, laboring, mostly. They to a man struggle to make ends meet and always have. Those who managed to make it through high school, graduated with a certificate in serial humiliation, for they struggled with their studies, never quite grokking college preparatory courses in math, literature, or the sciences. They hold grudges, not degrees. Many showed early on real promise in the mechanical arts, auto repair, electronics, and the Future Farmers of America programs. They're all hunters. Each owns several guns and each considers these the pinnacle possessions of any freeman. They insist that they're freer than they've ever once felt and meet to garner their resources for the oncoming assaults on what they authentically revere as their way of life.

They think themselves worthy inheritors of Colonial-era beliefs, thinly evolved first or second-generation interpretations of The Rights Of Man and The Wealth Of Nations, though none have read the original documents, much less considered their many contradictions.
Their post school education has been by pamphlet and word of mouth exposition from the self-elected elders among them, and hard knocks. Stories get shared until they become first nature. Critical analysis seems strongly discouraged, as these tales hardly bear critical examination. Any half-baked lawyer could tear them new ones all day long, so only positive assimilation seems allowed. They hold certain truths to be self-evident, regardless of the factual basis of their content, contradictions resolved with heartfelt camaraderie. They become the truest of true believers, holding a commission from God Almighty to protect and to serve against enemies both foreign and domestic, their creed borrowed from the founding documents of this country, though unwittingly taken way out of their original context and meaning. Many have memorized wide swaths from The Bible, favoring Old Testament prophets, and frequently quote scripture, seemingly always out of context, too. They fly a banner of enlightenment in sincere homage to begrudgement; Whiskey Tax rebels.

They believe themselves to be soldiers of a higher order than the police or formal military, who they perhaps understandably believe to have fallen under insidious direction, compromised in their missions. A few of them went through the military, serving without particular distinction, veterans of hopelessly compromised causes, undermined, they insist, by liberals or generals or politicians, a term of particular derision, like rapist or cattle thief. They've worked the oil patch, paying king's ransoms renting a bed in some flophouse trailer, hoping to send some real money back home to the spouse or girlfriend and the kids. They went out into the world and felt shunned there, stunned at how unwelcoming and punishing it seemed. Grunt work assignments left them exhausted and usurious living expenses kept them just about as poor as when they first showed up hopeful, resentful by then. They were never the college kind and cannot comprehend that lingo or lifestyle, one apparently devoid of honest work or desperation. Society eventually seemed like a racket to them, and one deliberately stacked against honest men.

Several sport Confederate tattoos in homage to a lost cause rebellion they admire for its belligerence in the face of ultimately overwhelming opposition. Any action against any oppressor seems to justify itself, for subjugation could be the only alternative. They mostly dream, but they prepare with genuine fervor, with paintball training battles and high capacity magazine rifle training. They assimilate some tactics, how to approach an armed emplacement, how to slip into and back out of a guarded encampment, for they believe stealth could counterbalance might. They train as insurgents, learning high signs and dog whistle acknowledgements, understanding that they're someone's mortal enemy now. They remain determined to be free, however that freedom might intrude upon their own or any others', willing if not entirely able to join any fray. Probably not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but one of these days, the call will certainly go out on the encrypted web like a post-modern Paul Revere, and they
will answer.

They remain proud of their association, these young men who never knew much more than dissociation within any other group. They feel every inch the dedicated citizen answering a sacred call to defend against any and all who would threaten to infringe upon their God-given rights as they see them. No Constitution in this universe might have ever intended to grant those rights they defend, but they meet to reinforce their belief that they, alone, stand ready to defend. An elder imparts secret wisdom meant only and especially for their ears, and each swears to secrecy. The enemy is always listening and always threatening and Minutemen never sleep, though they dream bigger than anyone outside could believe. They might not yet live in a land quite free, but they stand ready to demonstrate that they already inhabit a land with a few brave souls contending. They ache for Judgement Day.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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