Teaser 343: Concluding A Zero and The One

After much “soul-searching” Odie decided to meet, however he could, with relatives of the accused beast who claimed the life of his daughter. Meeting with the older sister was discouraging. She confided, “He has always been one who refused to be contained since I can remember. He always had an explosive temper, even with Mother. None of this surprises me...I expected it, to be honest.”

Meeting with the mother was even more discouraging. “Don't give me any of your shit! You're here for no other reason than to get me to say something about my son so you can sue me, sue all of us. I know all about you and your kind. You're gonna take from me for your loss when I was never responsible to begin with! You don't fool me!”

It didn't matter what Odie explained. He was never going to reach any mutual empathy with this woman. Odie left her with his advice. “I will never blame you for your son's actions. That you are completely estranged from your son's father speaks for itself, since I have already spoken with him by phone and I understand exactly who you are. Now that you're in your mid-fifties and most probably incapable of giving birth to another monster like your son is a blessing to us all, for if you ever did become pregnant, I may kill you myself!”

Odie was slowly undergoing transformation. Eventually what disappeared was his perpetual desire to remain pacifist. He considered his life at war, for his ambitions to be the presiding human over the USA, and for being incapable of providing a safe, secure, and lasting life for the daughter who had always expressed her opinion that she was the reason Odie and his wife divorced. It never seemed to matter how often and emphatically Odie expressed the opposite sentiment. His youngest daughter was never going to believe it. In her mind she was responsible for a marriage which was, perhaps, never possible of repair of any kind.

Odie never forgot his transformation began with the assassination of the only human being with whom he had established a friendship, trust, and respect more than three decades long. In days it seemed to be crumbling all around him and his whole world was shaken. When Odie “awoke” from his long slumber, he was certain of his next course of action, one he expected would last his entire lifetime and he honestly expected this course would prove to be a very short one indeed. His first decision was to ensure the beast who killed his daughter would never again be free to wrest his rage against any other human being who could not resist and overcome it. His speech at the end of the trial when the relatives of the victim were allowed to state their feelings completed it. “I assign to you all the regret that you should be resigned to a life and a family which provided you absolutely no life, no learning, and no empathy whatsoever. In my opinion most of them are pathetic and I'm being generous in that assessment. However, you could not raise yourself above it, it is beyond question, and you blame them, in part, for all which has befallen you and which you are directly responsible. Your excuse is as equally pathetic as your family experience. You absolutely refuse to learn anything from the lessons in life which have been handed to you, handed to all of us, and instead blame everyone else. You do not deserve to be free among us, outside four walls of confinement, meant to hold you, the monster you have become willingly, and I shall see you forever remain behind those four walls and never again destroy another life of the innocent. You deserve no less than to die in permanent confinement, for you do not deserve to be among any of us, free and untethered.” Odie's daughter's murderer was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Finding the assassin of his friend, his chief of staff for years, and what he would do once he did discover the assassin would prove to be more difficult and take far more time. What Odie would discover shocked even him. Why would such a well-respected businessman, whose companies were worth billions of dollars, even consider such a drastic, despicable action, to assassinate a presidential candidate who, picking up steam in his candidacy, still represented such an infinitesimal threat? Why? Why would someone of that stature risk so much for so little?

Odie couldn't take action right away once he knew all the particulars to his satisfaction. Something gnawed at him. It was the why. It was insensible, incomprehensible. It was plain stupid. Since he knew what he had ascertained would be, at least, difficult for the quarry to determine unequivocally for some time, he wanted to learn more to answer the question. Why?

Enter Skipper, his nickname derived from years of providing friends and family hours and hours of relaxing adventure in many ports and oceans around the world on his, as Skipper insisted, modest sailboat. It was his passion but his livelihood was espionage, the lying, cheating, stealing which occurs everywhere. “The thieves, the liars, the disingenuous, even those who would murder for gain, they are my prey, for they do it all under guise. To me they are no more than snakes under a rock, for should you unwittingly lift the rock, they will bite. Therefor you must never lift the rock until you know they rest under it. It is a game to me, a very exciting game, and when I know the rock they lie under and lift it, I have the greatest pleasure in cutting their heads off when they strike. That makes it all worthwhile.”

“What I don't understand,” Odie asked Skipper during their only meeting face to face, “is why would I, such an insignificant human being, become a target for people like this? It doesn't make any sense to me. How can it make any sense to you or anyone else?”

“You have risen in ways no one could predict, Odie,” Skipper explained. “People talk about you during polite dinner conversations because you're not the typical political hack. You have portrayed yourself successfully as a man with a conscience and an unwavering desire to make the world better for everyone, not just the privileged few. You can't be controlled though you can be persuaded, but the worst of it, from the point of view of the worst among us, you can't be bought. Everyone has a price, Odie, everyone except you. It makes you a dangerous man, for all the mighty, the rich and powerful and famous, they're all used to extracting a price, and if it's too high, someone disappears forever. This is the way of the human world for thousands of years, then you come along, with a price not only too high, there are not enough riches in the world to buy your silence. But your silence can be bought. Put you in your grave, Odie, and you will speak no more.”

“Why are you talking to me? Isn't your life at risk now?”

“Because you withdrew from the presidential race, this has bought you some time. Now, you're no longer considered an imminent threat. You can run again, though, and they'll watch you for the possibility, but right now, you're no threat. What you have discovered is the one inside the circle, that very exclusive, clandestine and unconscionable circle, has realized there is no limit to what these people will do, including eliminating those in the immediate circle. They want everything and without limit and they will dispose of those closest among them to accomplish it. This one has realized his neck is on the chopping block too and he can be dispatched as easily as any other. In this circle there is no honor among thieves. They will all steal, lie and murder for any gain they can muster, including any within the circle...I will not be able to approach in any way this one. He trusts only you and has devised a method to reach you and not be detected or suspected. With me, he would be opening himself up to great suspicion, so he'll never see or talk to me. I don't need to see or talk to him. I know who you're up against, Odie. I know how to deal with these people. I've been doing this for decades.”

Skipper immediately exited Odie's life, seemingly back to his sailboat and his ocean tours. Quietly, surreptitiously, Skipper employed those of his clandestine network, and began tracking the prey. Initially, Odie made a transfer to a blind account registered in the Caribbean from his political action committee, which was legally his to spend in whatever manner. The discovery of the transfer—discovery which was not exactly through purely legal means—produced Odie's response. “While it's discouraging so many consider it acceptable to violate confidentiality, and in a manner of dubious legality, I admit I have transferred campaign funds for what I expect will become a source of great help to many all over the world with no financial access whatsoever, but it will be done quietly, discreetly. I have a great contempt for those who perform acts of largesse in as public a manner as possible, but like any hypocrite, perform their most atrocious acts in the dark, undercover, and those types are everywhere, sometimes even sitting as presiding officers.”

So that Odie would learn what Skipper may uncover, they had agreed on a very simple method before parting. Skipper advised, “In the cemetery where your great-grandfather is buried, we will leave a pouch. I have already scouted the cemetery. In fact, I spent several hours there watching the traffic and visitors. There were no visitors and a half-dozen vehicles drove by. It's absolutely perfect to make a drop which you will retrieve within the next hour or two and never be seen. To alert you to the drop you will receive a call which will begin like this. 'Congratulations! You have been selected to receive our one-time offer!' You will respond, 'I'm not interested.' Immediately hang up and drive to the cemetery to your great-grandfather's gravestone and you will discover the pouch waiting.”

It was perfect, until Odie discovered another of Skipper's methods, which was even better. The quarry—the many members of this little, hidden circle and scattered all over the world, in some of the highest and most powerful positions, whether political, corporate or military—would meet, usually in small numbers in very secretive methods and locations and never in some location which would point to any of them, and exchange information and plans. Unfortunately for all of them Skipper's network included some of the best in the world at surveillance, bugging, recording with hidden cameras, gaining access to some of the most secure sites in the world, and they had developed relationships with paparazzi. Soon, recordings, even video of meetings, began to surface, first on the web through anonymous postings, then through anonymous postings to a news outlet's internet presence, then directly to broadcast media to be seen and heard on television world-wide. Every one included captions identifying the participants and the conversation transcripts. As the whole campaign gathered steam, many of these paparazzi would sell the surreptitious recordings, which helped to finance Skipper's whole operation. Over time, months, years, the circle slowly unraveled, until the aggravation of Skipper had become too enormous and Skipper's sailboat blew up, well offshore from St. John's Island. To the consternation of those in the circle no one was on the boat during the explosion and Skipper, through their drop method, assured Odie he had the recording of the conspiracy to target his boat after which he wrote, “I have insurance. I can replace the boat.”

As these very public revelations grew, with many of the same actors caught over and over by their own acts and speech, those in the circle began exiting. Many in the military were drummed out, some were convicted of treason, and a couple were even executed. In countries where some of the more tyrannical “governed,” particularly South America, Asia and Africa, popular uprisings, even outright revolutions occurred and many of the previous tyrants, once the outcome had been reached, never saw another day. Several well-known international conglomerates got hammered, first by the press, then by the exits of outraged officers, and finally the plummeting of stock shares, all through the recorded speeches and actions of Board members and/or the largest stockholders. A few disappeared forever, eaten alive by the sharks of the competition, which tore up divisions and handed many remaining officers their walking papers. Odie merely kicked back and watched the show with great relish. If asked to comment he would try to lighten the mood. “I feel sorry for the managers now attending unemployment offices or re-employment classes since their lay-offs. My strongest advice is to hold onto your severance. Be very conservative with it. I've been laid-off but I never worried about it much. I collected unemployment compensation every week. I felt I deserved it.”

The assassin was of Russian descent, an independent “contractor.” His dubious employment position was well-known as a cover for his real job, which was enforcer, one of the last blood-lust officers to emerge from the dismantled, somewhat, Communist KGB, FSB and GRU. He also had a fairly tight relationship with another former, and minor, KGB officer, one who had ruled the country for years. That these were all dangerous people was not questioned. The only question which concerned Odie and Skipper was how to get back at these people, members unquestioningly of the circle. The elite, the supposedly well-respected, of the corporate world, of the political arena, of the military establishment, had wed themselves to the ruthless, murdering scumbags. “How do you get to these scumbags?” Odie asked Skipper through their discreet method. Skipper wrote back. “They all have enemies, both political and in their particular line of business. Often you can't expect much from political enemies against these kinds of people. Those political enemies fear for their lives since these scumbags have no concern about murder, but their business competition doesn't have such a concern.” The man who actually pulled the trigger of the rifle which killed Odie's best friend of more than thirty years was eventually discovered hanging from a high rafter in an abandoned warehouse with a noose around his neck, tied up in a straitjacket, his feet tied together. Authorities determined he died from asphyxiation, meaning his killers placed the noose around his neck while he stood on the ground and pulled him off the floor by his neck and left him in that position until he was dead and decided to leave him for discovery. It soon became a bloody time to live in Russia and be considered one of the ruthless types since so many of them were being discovered by authorities as murder victims, victims of some rather harsh, ruthless means of expiration. Odie liked to comment, “Reminds me of Chicago in the twenties and thirties. Where's Elliot Ness and the Revenue agents when you need them?”

What truly impressed Odie concerning Skipper was what he did with Odie's transfer to the bank account in the Caribbean. It was a large amount, which was why it attracted attention, but in his very discreet manner and through his international reputation and influence, Skipper secured the pledges of several women and their networks, all with some financial acumen and scattered all over the globe, to screen and distribute micro-loans to mostly women with ability to produce something of value, and all of these women and their networks did this work pro-bono, only removing funds for expenses. It was a great source of enjoyment for Odie, especially considering none of it ever became public knowledge. It was all done discreetly, quietly. Odie would tell his closest friends and acquaintances, “You have no idea what the deposit in the mysterious bank account in the Caribbean has accomplished to date and it will stay that way, but those campaign funds from people who believed in me, now serves those who have virtually nothing except ideas, inspiration and resolve to accomplish their dreams, only because we believe in them. And you all know one truth about those campaign funds. I could have kept it all and what really angers me is if I had kept it all I would never have heard any complaint or question from anyone! To me this certainly highlights the real problem of the human world today. Each one of you has a long way to go!”

A financial collapse soon followed. How typical! So many of those who have far more than enough seem to never be satisfied. Nope! Not for them! They want it all! Skipper, though, using his indefatigable members of the network, knew it was coming and withheld the most crucial evidence until the collapse was well under way. Suddenly, on a nearly daily basis, conversation after conversation, video recording after video recording, surfaced into the mainstream and there soon was no doubt with anyone who was reaping the huge benefits of this collapse and fostering the misery of billions. Inevitably mansions of many of the powerful and richest were overrun by the greater number of outraged, the mob, the rabble as Nietzshe had once described them, pulled out of their own homes in humiliation and with no power to stop it. Even authorities were unable to quell the overwhelming size of the rabble. There were several wild and vicious battles all over the world, for sometimes days in length, which held the fascination of the rest, and governors in some states in America deployed their National Guard contingents and entreated the President of the United States to declare martial law and restore order. With all the evidence of collusion and conspiracy, combined with these very same governors ignoring or condoning it, the Chief of the most powerful country in the world declared to each, “I think you have done a fine job upholding your sovereign laws. When you're ready to bring the scofflaws to some Federal court to answer for their crimes, the Executive branch of this nation will answer. Otherwise, I see this as a dispute within your sovereign borders and I would never intercede. We may be a United States but each a state nevertheless.”

There was a great deal of rancor expressed on the floors of the House and Senate concerning the President's statements, apparently washing hands of the entire mess, but the evidence of collusion and conspiracy was so overwhelming not one could make an impact. Once the many had been pulled straight out of their homes and placed on “trial,” with all of the drama and unexpected enlightenment which inevitably came from it, several governors had no other choice but resign their legitimately elected positions in complete disgrace, since their positions had become so entirely dependent upon those now “tried” and exposed. It was, truly, a time of lawlessness, with the law so firmly entrenched in the masses, the rabble. To Odie's great relief, though, those “convicted and condemned” by the rabble, at least in the USA, were never subjected to some irreversible sentence. None were executed and none were forced to relinquish everything for the rabble, but the rabble did manage to secure billions for the aid and help of the most destitute, and not only in America. It eventually became the most egalitarian and enlightened revolution the human world had ever experienced, beyond question.

Whole communities scattered worldwide adopted barter for trade, discouraging, even forbidding in some communities, monetary purchasing. Organizations arose as “clubs” with members allowed only by vote of all existing members, with whole families as members, with each member required to perform a minimum number of hours service every week, with officers and monthly meetings and all members required for attendance unless specifically excused, each officer serving for a short period, usually no more than two years, then required to step down so another member was elected, and all members expected to perform as officers or other positions of duty and importance. All collected trash and recycled virtually everything collected, many starting their own recycling centers to produce a resource in its most raw form, like the big companies, except most bartered with their resource and usually to other communities and their “clubs.” Many of these clubs were founded by people with specific expertise and experience producing some well-known and necessary commodity, all traded through barter. Commodity companies worldwide began to shrivel and the more daring communities confiscated corporate property, land held for its natural resources, thus limiting the wholesale destruction from these corporations' “practices.” In Indonesia alone millions of hectares of old-growth palm forest were confiscated, reclaimed by the dedicated and determined rabble, and palm oil virtually disappeared worldwide, almost overnight.

Through it all Odie—who never was much for reading or watching the “news” since so many media giants performed practically no reporting like it used to be done—now read or watched the news almost continuously and always with great amusement. Financial centers crumbled over time. Stock exchanges worldwide watched helplessly as their listings dwindled, since new corporations were almost never being formed and old corporations were filing for bankruptcy daily, and not only for protection. They were disappearing, completely liquidated, gone. Governments were helpless in stemming the tide. The clubs were all non-profit. They produced no taxable profit, thus tax collection diminished. Governmental services were cut back sharply all over the world, yet clubs stepped in, gaining members and expanding their products and services and doing so in the most efficient manner devised, all while many so-called non-profit charities folded. Law firms folded, insurance companies closed, banks failed, and Odie kept grinning through it all, noting once to a real reporter's question, “There are now more than ten thousand barter communities and more than a hundred thousand clubs in the U.S. alone, and more added almost hourly. I have no objection since almost all are the most democratic institutions created, probably in all of history. I don't see any real problem with it. Do you?”

Entire police departments and some county police agencies completely disbanded. All the former officers had joined local clubs and performed the same duties as their membership requirement, but often in a far more enlightened manner. Most police vehicles were traded or sold and most officers worked their beats on foot, riding bicycles or horses, and since most community residents were members of the club network, policing became far less necessary. Thugs disappeared through coordinated round-ups of all connected participants. Assets were seized and thugs with sense surrendered their entire previous existence, absorbed into the clubs. Those who refused spent years in “safehouses.” In this manner all were safe. Entire gangs disbanded, particularly the local varieties in the barter communities. Club members would regularly, even eagerly, testify in rapidly organized trials. Assets were seized, gangs were broken, weapons removed and secured, and many former gang members suddenly, and willingly, found themselves transformed to “club” members and working in the newly developed farms and gardens which sprouted almost uncontrollably in the most run-down, decrepit areas of inner cities. Entire blocks were bulldozed, what rubble could be recycled was, and huge farms and gardens emerged inside city limits of huge metropolises, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, on and on. In high-rises of such cities, the residents converted unused or unnecessary living space into internal gardens, wired with grow lights fed by solar panel structures and wind generators on the very roofs of these high-rises. It was a full ecological revolution of unimaginable scope. In a few years the entire human world had restructured itself to such an extent starvation anywhere in the world had been completely eliminated and hunger was nearly eradicated. Barter communities and clubs ruled. Governments, local, regional, national, corporations, local, regional, national, even international, and organizations of one type, too big, all crumbled into the dust and fate each deserved. Civilization, in a period which took less than one generation, had suddenly become...civilized.

In the last paragraphs of his “memoir,” Odie advised the reader of his current occupation, or duties as a club member. “Since we have, all of us, actively built or renovated many residences for our club members and all through an open and active discussion process—we all know who is lacking and who is deserving. This has never changed. There will always be those who seek more than they deserve—when the process is open and active and includes all, those who are not yet deserving learn to wait. Their time will come because it is inevitable. When all share as equitably as possible all will receive what they need and there will always be enough left over.

I clean toilets. I volunteered, since it is a job few wish and so many clubs have a difficulty assigning such a task. I do about twenty residences and establishments a day, show up with my brushes and pails and cleaning items and everyone opens their doors for me and I hear nothing but appreciation. I like my life now. I didn't always like it before. It seemed like I was insignificant, that nothing I did would matter. What I do now seems to matter a lot to my cousins, that it seems like what all of our cousins do matter now. It's like family. Everyone has an opinion and some get along better than others but it's still family. Some clubs are talking about space exploration. It's a heated topic and I always find it amusing. What's encouraging to me is some of the more celebrated in the field—all club members, every one of them—claim it must be a concerted, cooperative effort of all of humanity, not limited to some. I have to agree. We're all in this together. We should explore beyond our home in a combined effort, since there will be a time when this home will turn against us. We should all, then, each of us, have an equal decision whether to stay or go. None of us are insignificant. Accept it or die. You have no other choice.”

- Just Desserts, Segment Forty-FourWar!” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

contact me, as always: schussprose@gmail.com