AN ILLUSTRATED NOVEL
BY CHARLES MCKELVY
CHAPTER ONE: DRONE STRIKE
They weren’t entirely sure they should invite Karen and her new guy friend over for an evening on the dock they had just installed on the pond at the foot of their property, but their good natures won out, and so they extended the invitation to Shirley’s sister Karen and her new guy friend, Larry.
And so on an absolutely gorgeous evening in early summer, Shirley and Ken hosted Karen and this guy friend Larry of hers for an evening of wine and nibblies on their new dock.
Karen had warned her sister to avoid politics at all costs, so Shirley kept the conversation cool and clean, focusing on the varied life of the pond they shared with just one neighbor in the most desired neighborhood of a Midwest city known for its progressive politics.
Larry, who did something with mortgage-backed securities, seemed fine at first. Just a regular guy out there on the dock enjoying a sublime evening with a sun that was in no particular hurry to set.
And then the drone appeared.
And not for the first time.
“No,” Shirley said, “this is their new toy, and they love showing it off for us.” She pointed across the pond at a man standing in a yard outside an enormous McMansion with the controls in his hand.
Concerned for her sister, Karen said, “Have you said anything to him? I mean this is an invasion of your privacy.”
Shirley and Ken shrugged, and Ken said, “Yeah, but a lot of good it did. He owns the pond, and we built the dock without his permission, and well, we just—“
“No!” Larry interrupted. “No, you DO NOT and WILL NOT let this stand!!!” And with that he went to the pond’s edge, selected a suitable rock, aimed, and threw a blistering fastball into the drone’s strike zone.
The buzzing little beast broke into many pieces and fell into the pond with an angry splash.
Karen, Shirley, and Ken were utterly speechless, but Larry was quite pleased with himself. He gazed intently at the drone operator across the pond and observed: “Doesn’t look like he’s going to call the police. Looks like he’s a real cowboy, and he’s gonna drive over here in his monster pick-up and give us some frontier justice.”
When she was able to speak, Shirley said: “Maybe we should be the ones to call the police?”
“No,” Larry said, watching the enraged toy pilot raise dust on the gravel road leading to Shirley’s and Ken’s place. “I got this.”
And with that Larry sauntered to his high-performance driving machine, calmly opened the trunk, and prepared to administer some frontier justice of his own.
All Shirley could say to her sister was: “You need to find a better class of guy friends.”
CHAPTER TWO: FRONTIER JUSTICE
The urban cowboy in the ramped-up pick-up truck roared into Shirley and Ken’s gravel drive and floored the brakes.
He grabbed his trusty ten-gauge off the front seat and hit the ground running.
“Hey!!” he yelled, “that was my drone you—“
“That’s enough, Jesse James!” Larry said, stepping forward from his vehicle with his weapon of choice—an AK-47—cradled in his arms.
The enraged drone pilot pointed his weapon at Larry.
Larry fired a burst just to the left of the cowboy’s boots, kicking up a spray of shattered gravel. “Don’t make me put it on full auto,” Larry said.
“But nothin’, cowboy. You go git back in your big, bad-boy truck and go on home and help the missus with the dishes for a change.”
Larry fired an air burst over the cowboy’s head, and said: “Go on now, little doggie. Git along.”
The not-so-little doggie flared his nostrils and narrowed his eyes and then he lowered his shotgun and backed up to his truck. “This isn’t over. Not by a long shot.” And with that he was gone in a cloud of gravel dust.
Larry smiled, switched the safety back on, and went back to the dock to enjoy the remains of the evening with his little honey pot and her sister and brother-in-law.
CHAPTER THREE: BE POLITE TO THE PO-PO
As Larry matter-of-factly resumed his seat on the dock of the pond, the other three struggled to give voice to their tangled emotions.
Finally, Shirley cleared her throat sufficiently to say to her sister: “Where did you find this guy? Under a rock?”
That so tickled Ken’s funny bone that he laughed his way into a serious belly cramp.
Larry beamed, and slapped Karen on the knee and said” Well, little darlin’, tell ‘em what rock you found this ol’ rattler under.”
Karen sighed, rolled her eyes, and finally faced her big sister. “Well, it wasn’t on one of those on-line dating services—that’s for sure.”
“Really?!?” Shirley said, not without a little irony. “So what rock exactly was it?”
“Well,” Karen said, “you remember when I had that guy stalking me?”
“Yes, who could forget?”
“Well, I decided to take a self-defense class.”
“Self defense?!? You didn’t—“
“I took matters in my own hand, and, well, Larry here was the instructor, and he—“
Their little chat was preempted by the wail of approaching police cruisers.
“Ah,” Larry said, “here comes the po-po.”
“The po-po?” Ken said.
“The man. The police. You know.”
Ken nodded. “So, how are you going to handle this?”
Larry shrugged. “Oh, I reckon I’ll just mosey on over and show ‘em my little pea-shooter. I’m sure they’ll be impressed.”
And with that Larry arose with his AK-47 and prepared to talk to the po-po, who were arriving with earnest intent. He stopped just long enough to add, “Oh, you always want to be polite to the po-po.”
Karen, Ken, and Shirley watched in amazement as Larry walked over to the police who were popping out of their cars with guns drawn and, in no time flat, talked them all off the ledge.
They lowered their weapons and gathered around Larry to admire his AK-47 as he proceeded to be polite to the po-po.
They couldn’t hear a word he said to them, but they could feel the good vibes, and so they were not at all surprised to see the po-po depart in peace minutes later.
Minus, of course, wailing sirens and flashing lights.
When she found her tongue, Shirley said to her sister, “So tell me about this self-defense class Larry was teaching.”
“Oh,” Karen said, “he still teaches it. You interested?”
Shirley looked knowingly at Ken who looked knowingly at Shirley.
“You bet we are,” they chorused!
CHAPTER FOUR: SPEAK SOFTLY AND CARRY A BIG STICK
“My favorite president? That’s an easy one—Roosevelt.”
“You like FDR?!?” Shirley asked the instructor.
“No, not that communist. TR. Teddy Roosevelt, the late, great 26th President of these here United States of America.” Larry smiled at his class of downtrodden Middle Class Americans who had come to make something mightier of themselves.
Karen, of course, was there by his side to help with the teaching aids, and, in fact, she was the teacher’s aide.
In more ways than one.
And, of course, there were her sister and brother-in-law right in the front row where Larry had seated them. He wanted them to get the full benefit from his invaluable lessons, and he was going to take a personal interest in their application of his street wisdom on their golden pond.
Actually, he had more than a passing personal interest in them and their pond, but we’ll get to that shortly.
Meanwhile, back to Larry’s so-called Self-Defense Class, and Larry’s love of the man who assumed office in 1901 following the assassination of William McKinley. At 43, Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest president in the nation’s history, until, of course, the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960.
Larry stepped to the side of the podium and made his point: “Teddy Roosevelt was the one who sent the Great White Fleet on a world tour as a show of American force. The fleet attacked no one, and no one, absolutely no one, attacked the Great White Fleet. Get it? No one attacked the Great White Fleet, and no one attacked America while Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House. And why was that? Because, Teddy practiced what he preached, which was—all together now—SPEAK SOFTLY AND CARRY A BIG STICK. All right, any further questions before we adjourn for the night?”
Ken shot his hand straight up.
“Shoot. Well, don’t shoot me, but shoot me your question, Kenny Boy.”
Ken wasn’t particularly pleased that Larry had dropped that mocking moniker on him, but he was eating up the man’s amazing wisdom, so he asked: “What about submarine attacks?”
Larry grinned. “Ah, your pesky neighbor has resorted to a new tactic? No?”
“Yes, he’s spying on us with a mini-submarine. After his failed drone surveillance, I guess he—“
“Depth-charge the son-of-a-bitch.”
“Karen and I’ll stop by later and show you how. That’s what you’re paying the big tuition for—to get personal attention from your instructor. Any other questions?”
A lady in the back row asked what floor they were on since it appeared to her that they had ridden the express elevator “like forever and there were like no floor numbers, or nothing.”
“Six-hundred-sixty-six—666,” Larry said, without hesitation.
“But that’s the—“
“Mark of the devil? Just kidding. Can’t you people take a little joke. Let’s just say we’re in a secure location. Loose lips sink ships. Don’t need Big Brother listening in on our little sessions, do we.”
“So,” the lady in back said, “we didn’t really go up to floor 666?”
“No,” Larry said, “we actually went down. We’re—well, we’re several floors below grade. The elevator is—well, it’ s a very special elevator. Made you feel like you were going up when you were actually going down. Down, down, down, DOWN!!! All right, that’s all we have time for tonight. Do your affirmations and keep your powder dry and we’ll meet back here same time next week. All right?”
The room full of absolutely amazed Middle Class Americans could only nod in complete agreement.
CHAPTER FIVE: TWO IF BY SEA
The sociopath across the pond maneuvered his mini-sub within striking distance of the enemy’s dock.
“This is gonna be good,” he gleefully told himself.
And it had to be good for the self-made millionaire felt utterly thwarted by those people across the pond, especially by that asshole with the AK-47 who had sent the po-po packing.
Oh, don’t think he hadn’t made discreet and not-so-discreet inquiries about that guy they called Larry.
But, you know, no one seemed to know.
He was from Texas.
As one source said: “He’s a real nowhere man.”
Man-oh-man, did that ever seem apparent to the sociopath across the pond, who we shall simply identify as Bud.
As in this Bud ain’t for you.
No way, no how.
Anyway, our sociopath named Bud was ready to take it up a notch.
Escalate this little dust-up, and win the game in extra innings.
“Whatever it takes,” Bud told himself as he remotely raised the periscope and prepared to deliver the goods to those smug fuckers across the pond and their mysterious friend Larry.
But when Bud looked through his remote he saw an empty dock. He had seen them sitting there with his binoculars before launching his latest toy, the Doctor Doomsday Personal Submersible Device ™.
Nowhere to be seen.
Bud remotely rotated his periscope and so caught sight of a scale model U.S. Navy Spruance Class frigate steaming right toward his submarine.
And then—to his considerable horror—the frigate fired two—not one, but—two sub-busting depth charges, and—in no time flat—his costly Doctor Doomsday Personal Submersible Device™ was no more than busted junk sinking into the pond scum.
But that was not the end of it.
No, siree Bob.
Not by a long shot.
CHAPTER SIX: HIS BEST SHOT
“What do you think he’ll try next?”
Shirley and Ken just had to know.
Larry looked up from the command center he had created for his client-friends in the basement of their home by the pond. “Psy Ops.”
“Psychological Operations. What Bush Senior did to Noriega in Panama when the CIA decided to bring that worthless little dog to heel.”
“What did Bush Senior do?” Shirley asked.
Ken got it. “Of course, he had them blare the worst pop music in the world at Noriega’s little hide-out. Like what they did in Waco before they burned the Branch Davidians out. So, you think that’s what our friend’s going to do next?”
Larry just smiled. He fiddled with a few things and then said, “Come on, let’s go back on deck, and let’s have him give us his best shot.”
Shirley and Ken, and, of course, Karen followed Larry back to the dock and took their seats and all pretended to be normal and having a quiet evening by the pond when the tsunami of dreadful music burst upon them.
Shirley, Ken, and Karen covered their ears and sought to flee, but Larry stopped them with a mischievous wag of his forefinger.
“He’s got the Whoop-dee-do Whopper/Woofer™, but thanks to me, you are protected by the Bombay-Boom-Back-in-Your-Face Home Defense System™. Listen and learn.”
And with that, Larry simply clapped his hands, and all the evil sound the sociopath named Bud was blaring at his neighbors across the pond was turned in mid-air and sent blaring back at him with treble force.
And with volume sufficient to shatter every window in his McMansion and give him an irreversible case of erectile dysfunction that no amount of televised cures could correct.
Bud was done for.
Was he ever.
And that’s the end of our story.
Well, not quite.
CHAPTER SEVEN: WELL, NOT QUITE
Well, it’s quite over, because what happened is just what you expected to happen:
Shirley and Ken sold their souls to the devil.
All right, he called himself Larry, but he’s a crafty old bugger, and he calls himself pretty much whatever suits his purposes at the time, and, at the time of the troubles on the golden pond, Beelzebub appeared as Karen’s guy friend Larry and gave Shirley and Ken a way out of their troubles with the sociopath across the pond named Bud.
Bud, of course, didn’t go quietly in the night after his attempt to blast bad music at Shirley and Ken, 24/7.
Oh, he tried this and he tried that, and Larry was there at every turn, and, finally, Bud and his people put out the for sale sign and left for a far-away state, there to torment some new pigeons.
And—surprise, surprise—who should snatch up Bud’s McMansion, but old Larry himself, along, of course, with Karen, who said the sex she was having with him was the most dazzlingly delightful in her entire existence.
Larry assured Shirley and Ken that he would be the best neighbor—
AND . . .
(Th-th-that’s All Folks!)