Thursday, May 23, 2024

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise¹

"Go ahead and check us in to the Holiday Inn, Jeff. Should be two adjacent rooms. I'll call you when I'm done here." Lieutenant Colonel Juan Ramirez shut the door to the vehicle they'd driven over in, it wasn't one of the really nice GMCs, Ramirez didn't want to make much of a splash out here in the "wild," as his driver, Sergeant Jeff Hildesheim put it.

He paused in the parking lot behind Barrack C, it was still drizzling, but the forecast was for sun in the afternoon. He rotated his torso, his back wasn't what it used to be. The wet and the long drive made it ache. He knew he should retire, this was a younger man's game, but he had a few things left to do before he and his wife headed to Puerto Rico and their dream house.

Ramirez turned as he heard the nearby door open, "Johnnie! How the heck are ya?"

"Geez Leroy, I keep forgetting just how big you are. How'd you squeeze through that door?"

Jackson was a big man 6'5" tall, 260 pounds in his birthday suit. He and Ramirez had come up together.

The two gripped hands and both squeezed hard, Jackson broke away first, "Damn, Johnnie, your grip is like a vise. Little guy like you."

Ramirez was grinning, but trying not to show any pain, it felt like Jackson had broken every bone in his hand. Time to get down to business.

"Come on, let's go inside, we've got the perp in ..."

"Not just yet, let's walk over there." Ramirez pointed to the far end of the parking lot.

Jackson followed Ramirez with a puzzled look on his face. When they got to the edge of the lot, Ramirez turned around. "We've got trouble. Big trouble, something stinks to high heaven and I'm convinced the stench is Federal in nature."

Jackson shook his head, "Has this got anything to do with that ambush down in DC?"

Ramirez looked up sharply, "Who told you that?"

"Look Johnnie, nobody told me that, I'm a cop, I'm good at getting to the truth. And when a cop killer shows up in my territory and has Federal ID on him, I put two and two together. Then there's the question of the explosives, which came up out of the Eastern Shore."

"And how the hell do you know that?"

"I've got a man on the inside at the Eastern Shore Rod and Gun Club."

"Kinda out of our jurisdiction isn't it?"

"He's not a trooper, kid served with my son in the Marines. Knows that his Marine buddy's Dad is a cop, saw some fishy business at the Rod and Gun, told my son about it, then my son told me."

"That's your son Danny, right?"

"No, Danny's still on active duty. This is Chris, he's with the Sheriff's Department in Accomack County. He's close enough to visit home every now and then, which makes his Momma happy, but far enough away that we're not all up in his business every day. Which makes his girlfriend happy."

"So what did he tip you off to?"

"Weapons shipment, supposed to go up to Green Ridge State Park, well, just outside the park. That's near where Maria Campos was murdered, by the two guys, one we've got in custody, and the other in the morgue."

"Dead guy was a Fed?" Ramirez asked, though he knew the answer.

"He had ID for Homeland. Both of 'em had IDs, and badges, just like ours."

"I know."

Jackson stood up, towering over Ramirez, who raised both hands and said, "We've got a guy that these people think works for them. Up at HQ, he made those IDs, the badges were never issued."

Jackson's shoulders slumped, "Jesus, Johnnie, wheels within wheels. Let's go talk to the guy we've had sweating all night."

It was close to sunset, but next to the trees it was already pretty dark. F. William Murchison was leading one group of ten men, all loaded for bear. They were behind a large gravel pile just to the north of the Rod and Gun Club. Across US-13, Bud Maximilian led a second team of ten men. The two SWAT teams were pumped and ready to go to war, if they had to.

"Bud." Murchison spoke into his mike.

"We're ready."

US-13 was blocked off to the north and south of the Rod and Gun Club, as soon as the shadows of the trees covered the highway, Murchison spoke again, "Go."

Ten men came out of the trees to the west of the road, they quickly moved into position around the buildings. When they were in place, Maximilian spoke, "Clear."

Murchison and his team moved quickly into place, at which point Murchison got on his bullhorn.

"This is the ATF, Federal agents, we have a search warrant, come out with your hands up!"

Nothing happened, Murchison was puzzled, there were lights on in the buildings, their spotters had seen movement inside. What the hell was going on? Murchison spoke, "Breach."

Five of Maximilian's men got up, one dropped to a knee to cover the two teams of two men each, one team for the office building, one for the big garage that the Club used for meetings.

The two teams were at their objectives, Maximilian spoke, "Do it."

Herb Moriarty's head snapped back from the camera's view finder, he saw the explosion blossoming from the old DOT building, what he and Rick Golden called "The Armory." The shock wave hit the van a moment later, shaking Rick Golden awake.

"What the f ..." Golden said as he sat up on the cot.

"F**king Armory just blew up. Get on the horn and call it in, I can't see shit, my eyes are all bedazzled."

F. William Murchison was shaking his head, he was groaning and didn't realize it. He had seen half of Maximilian's team vaporized by the twin explosions. The others, near the garage, were sprawled on the ground, only two of them were moving.

Murchison had been deafened by the explosions. He was shaking his head trying to clear it, when he looked to his right, one of his guys was lying there, impaled by a piece of pipe blown off one of the buildings.

"Jesus, anybody, where ..." He tried to get up on his knees, he couldn't, the shock wave had knocked him silly.

Golden had jumped into the driver's seat and had started the van's engine. He swung the vehicle out onto the highway and headed south.

"Rick, what the f**k?"

"Herb, this ain't over. Those explosions were just the opening act."

The bullet which smacked into the back of the van punctuated Golden's explanation.

"Damn it, another ambush." Moriarty mumbled.

"And we're still in the beaten zone buddy, keep your head down."

Leroy Beardsley chambered another round, "Shit." Keying his mike, he told his counterpart, Willy Batchelor, "The Feebs got away, someone in there was on the ball. They screamed out of their hide and headed down the road doing at least 90. I put a round through the back, but they just kept going."

Batchelor answered, "Work your way north. I think all the Batf**ks² are down."


As Beardsley moved, staying back in the trees, he had the thought, "Damn, we're gonna need a new clubhouse."

"So Rossi, you got anything to say before we ship your ass down to Baltimore?"

"I told you guys, Morgan was the shooter. I had no idea he was going to shoot that trooper. I didn't know we were hauling explosives."

Jackson stood up and leaned on the table, "Bullshit, you little rat bastard. You and Morgan go way back."

Rossi leaned back in his chair as far as he could go, the black man in front of him was pissed, and he didn't blame him. "F**king Jack, you asshole." He thought to himself as the big State Police captain stood up.

"Whaddaya think, Colonel? Let's ship this bastard to Baltimore, I'm sure our guys can arrange a 'shot while trying to escape' moment for this asshole."

"Yeah, Im having a Pontius Pilate moment here, I wash my hands of this prick." Ramirez got up and started for the door.

"Wait, wait. Okay, I know more than I'm letting on. Honest-to-God I didn't shoot the trooper or those guys at the campsite, that was Morgan all the way. I saw him butt stroke plain old fishermen in the Gulf when we were on the boarding teams together. He was out of control back then, he was out of control up until you guys put him down."

Ramirez turned, "So why were you working with him?"

"Money, Sir. He paid me ten grand up front and promised another ten grand when the job was done."

"What job?" Jackson leaned in close enough to smell the fear on Rossi.

"There's more explosives on the Eastern Shore, at that Rod and Gun Club. They don't plan on moving them, they plan to blow them in place."

Ramirez paled, he knew that the FBI had a team monitoring that place 24/7. "I gotta make a call, take this asshole to a cell. Keep him away from everybody else."

"I'll watch him myself, Colonel."

Ramirez hung up the phone, Rossi hadn't been lying, but they were too late. His contact at the Bureau told him that the Rod and Gun Club had gone up like the Fourth of July. The buildings, and seventeen Federal agents, were gone.

"Seventeen? Are you sure?"

"Yup, we've got three survivors, two of them in critical condition, one who probably won't last the night. After the two buildings blew themselves apart, just as the breaching teams hit the doors, snipers, maybe two or three of 'em, opened up on the survivors. Both team leads are dead, Maximilian and Murchison."

"Did your guys get away?"

"Yup, quick thinking by one of the guys, he jumped in the driver's seat and tore ass out of there. Van took a bullet through the back door, but the guys are okay."

"Alright, thanks. I'll be in touch if we get anything more from our suspect."

"Thanks Colonel Ramirez, we were close, just not close enough." Ephraim Johansen shook his head as he hung up the phone. Damn it, it wasn't supposed to go down like that.

He turned his chair, Vice Admiral Thomas Washington said, "Well?"

"Morgan is dead, Rossi is in custody, and the ATF walked into a trap."

"What the Hell?" the Admiral snapped.

"I told you Morgan was a hothead, but the basic plan is still good. Dead Federal agents all over the news by morning, people are going to be pissed. Our trap has also been baited, the Rod and Gun Club boys are headed up to Green Ridge State Park. My sources indicate that they have a place up on the Maryland - Pennsylvania line."


"Once they're in place, we Waco their asses."

"Not a great analogy, Johansen."

"Nope, but it fits. Alright Admiral, I have to get going, meeting over at the Agency and I'm already late."

"Okay, keep me posted."

"Will do, Sir."

Once he was well on the road, Johansen called a number using the burner phone he'd picked up that afternoon from a gas station outside Bowie.

"Yeah?" The voice on the other end answered.

"It's on."

The man on the other end, Wilt Thompson broke the connection, then snapped the phone in half.

"Did the ATF show up for your surprise party?"

"Why yes, yes they did. Apparently Beardsley and Batchelor nailed most of the survivors. And just like you wanted, the FBI surveillance team 'got away.'"

"Excellent. Start the next phase."

"Will do, Mr. Secretary."

¹ Something Gomer Pyle was fond of saying.
² A nickname the Rod and Gun Club guys have for BATFE agents.


  1. Oh Mr. Sulu has said. Lots of dead Feds, think that's enough to break the Constitution Sarge? Oh, some good news, test came back benign yesterday, Yippee-Ka-Yay!

    1. Good news on the medical front, Nylon12!

    2. For all those who sent prayers, a heartfelt thank you!

    3. Wonderful news, Nylon 12!

    4. Nylon12 - Forgot to mention, not enough dead Feds to break the Constitution. Does the public care enough about BATFE, the FBI, the CIA, the DHS, and the dozens of other alphabet agencies in the government? It all depends on whether or not the government gets heavy handed. What might play in NYC won't necessarily play in rural Virginia or Maryland.

    5. Have you heard? We are a "Democracy" now (must be as they never mention being a Republic), a lot more people in NYC than rural Virginia AND rural Maryland combined....

    6. But the people in NYC will sit on their asses and do what they're told. The folks out in the boonies won't.

  2. Both buildings had gas leaks in the heating systems. Breaching parties must have struck a spark somehow.

    Nylon12, GREAT news!

  3. Well, that was unexpected.

    The idea of superiors sacrificing underlings for the sake of gain (political or otherwise) has a long and inglorious history. Certainly does not make it right or palatable.

    "Those who seek power are not worthy of that power." - Plato

    1. 1st - "superiors sacrificing underlings for the sake of gain" - every single war which has ever been fought.

      2nd - "Those who seek power are not worthy of that power." Plato was a smart guy.

  4. I never really watched Gomer Pyle but I recognized the "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise".... "Mr. Secretary" eh? The plot develops!

  5. This isn't going to be swept under the rug. Can we explain it as a training accident?

    1. Not with those two FBI witnesses and whatever camera footage they have.

  6. The actual nickname most people have, even cops, that I have dealt with, for agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is... Batf*gs.

    Nobody likes the BATFE. I think it's more hated than the IRS and that's saying a lot.

    Sure hope the people that planned this and want to use it for political purposes get their just rewards. And on national tv and internet.

    1. Those boys up on the Eastern Shore prefer the one I gave them.

      Everyone can understand that the government needs money to run, taxes have been around forever. However, this country was founded on the idea that the citizens ARE the government and the SOURCE of all power (when we're paying attention, which most of us are not these days) therefore the citizenry must be armed. It's the whole point of the Second Amendment, the BATFE is un-Constitutional and un-American. I have zero respect for that outfit and everyone in it They might as well be the Gestapo/Stasi/KGB.

    2. The alcohol was about taxes, tobacco is about taxes. The firearms part is against the Constitution (2nd Amendment, "shall not be infringed") but that has generally been ignored.
      The AFT budget is $1.8+ billion, small change against what they are giving the Ukrainian dictator (he canceled the elections) but real money none the less.

    3. They didn't get involved with the illegal enforcement of firearms laws until 1942. The BATFE, as currently constituted, is un-Constitutional, no matter how large, or small, their budget is.

    4. Sarge, my sources say 1934 with the passage of the NFA. Since the Feds no longer had bootleggers to go after this provided them with some wholesome entertainment.
      As for going Waco; I commend to you John Ross'(RIP) Unintended Consequences. The Feds were lucky there was not a second perimeter around them; something that likely would happen in version 2.0
      Boat Guy

    5. Makes sense, create an un-Constitutional organization to enforce an un-Constitutional law.

  7. Le BOOM. Gomer would be proud.

    All rodents have plans, all rodents have sacrificial minions and escape plans. If you doubt that look at the CDC and Fauci lately.

    I still have my next Clancy on hold. Looking forward to more near future history.

    1. Sacrificial minions ...

      Folks whom some might call son or daughter, brother or sister, but to those who seek political power and gain, they are just pawns.

      Fauci and his clique have much to answer for, unfortunately it probably won't be in this life where others might learn from it.

  8. Kaboom?
    Yes, Rico, Kaboom!
    Sorry, could not resist...


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