Friday, May 07, 2010


c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was a quiet morning at the Icehouse home office.

I had nearly reached the end of a pot of coffee. Crumbs from a breakfast bagel lay strewn across my desk. In the background, radio banter echoed meaninglessly.

Riley and Quigley, my Black Lab and Pomeranian duo, were asleep on the floor.

Outside, the breeze toyed with Christmas lights that still draped my house.

I had begun a research project on Teisco guitars from Japan. While clicking through Internet links, I scribbled notes on scratch paper.

My intention was to compose a column on low-buck 1960’s culture.

Suddenly, I realized that the prevailing wind had become more persistent. A ferocious tapping of light bulbs sounded from the window.

Riley lifted his head.

“Rowf?” he barked, quizzically.

I tilted my head toward the wall. A strange swishing of chopper blades became louder.

“What is that?” I wondered out loud. “Life Flight getting someone to the hospital?”
Quigley began to protest.

“Yap, yap, yap!” he barked.

The odd noise became more intense. With disbelief, I jumped out of my chair, and ran for the back door.

In our yard, a black helicopter was landing. Dry grass flew into the air as it touched down. Trembling, I leaned over the porch railing. The Christmas bulbs rattled, defiantly.

A bullhorn appeared in the aircraft’s window. And the barrel of an automatic rifle.

“Mr. Ice!” a harsh voice commanded. “I need to talk to you!”

Instinctively, my hands went skyward.

“Sure,” I shouted over the mechanical roar. “Would you guys like some breakfast?”

A lone figure appeared. He wore a black business suit, and dark sunglasses. Behind him, a pair of uniformed officers waited, with firearms drawn and at the ready.

“Good morning, Rodney,” he said. “I apologize for visiting you in such a dramatic fashion. But I have come here on a serious matter.”

My jaw dropped. It was the elusive Mr. X.

“Okay,” I groaned. “Forget the friendly offer of grub. Why are you buzzing around my neighborhood?”

“I’m sure you’ve read about the FBI raids in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio,” he explained.

“Yes,” I nodded.

“My friends in Washington have become concerned,” he continued. “Specifically, about your support for Hutaree, the Christian militia group.”

“What??” I exploded.

“You ran a supportive article in the newspaper about Hutaree,” he said, accusingly. “This is very, very serious…”

I shook my head. “Are you insane? That column was about HATARI! – a movie John Wayne made in 1962.”

An uneasy pause elapsed as he whispered into a cell phone.

“Hatari?” he said with befuddlement.

“HATARI!” I repeated. “It was directed by Howard Hawks. Something different for ‘The Duke’ because it was set in Africa instead of the American west.”

Mr. X reddened with embarrassment.

“Africa?” he mused. “Really?”

“He played the part of an animal trapper,” I answered.

“Well, well,” he said, regaining his composure. “We’ve also confirmed your feature about the Ron Paul Revolution. Come clean, Rodney. Spreading anti-government rhetoric… this is dangerous stuff!”

I chuckled. “You’ve got it wrong. Ron Paul is a veteran member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas.”

“Of course,” he growled. “We know that. But what about the extremists using his name? Admit your guilt!”

“It’s just a political support group,” I replied. “A vehicle for nerdy, libertarian intellectuals who are disgusted with the two-party system and want to feel like they made a statement. It gives them something to discuss over coffee at Starbucks.”

Mr. X turned a deeper shade of red. Again, he whispered into his cell phone.

“Mr. Paul was interviewed once on the Morton Downey, Jr. Show,” I remembered. “Since then, I’ve followed his career in public service. He’s definitely not your average Republican…”

“Aha!!” he yelled. “You watched Morton Downey!”

My mood went stale. “I wrote about him after he passed away in 2001. Did you know his last job was on WTAM 1100, in Cleveland?”

“Morton Downey!” he repeated. “Another extremist figure!”

“Oh, please!” I said with a frown. “Get real, Mr. X-Box. Nobody took him seriously, even in the 80’s.”

The dark figure bowed his head.

“Even if all of that is true, you attended the ‘Tea Party’ rally in Burton, last year,” he said accusingly. “Care to deny that story?”

I sighed loudly. “Lots of people were there, including Ken Robinson from WTAM. I went as a journalist. It was good political theater.”

“Theater?” he mused.

“In a sense,” I observed. “It’s all part of the democratic process. Like the groundswell of public support that put Mr. Obama in office. Participation by voters is good, I reckon.”

Mr. X shuddered.

“You went to a ‘Tea Party’ event,” he wheezed. “Where supporters of Lyndon LaRouche were in attendance!”

I laughed out loud. “Another figure no one has taken seriously… a professional agitator for decades. I thought he was out of place there, but that’s just my opinion.”

“You are sailing into dangerous waters,” he proclaimed. “I would advise you to consider your own vulnerability.”

I was stunned. “Is that a threat?”

“Consider it a warning,” he said. “When you write about UFOs or bologna and pork rinds, people are amused. But when you venture into the realm of sedition…”

“Sedition??” I stammered. “You are completely off the wall, Mr. X-Files. Better research would help your cause. I’m just a small-town newspaper columnist…”

“Of course,” he said mockingly.

With a raised thumb, he signaled those still by the helicopter to prepare for flight.
“Tread carefully my friend,” he advised.

More dry grass blew into my face as the aircraft powered up for takeoff.

“What does that mean?” I shouted.

The mechanical roar of his sky-bound vehicle filled my ears. In only a moment, it had begun to rise. Through the windshield, I could see that Mr. X was laughing.

Before long, the black chopper had disappeared. The morning was quiet once again. Now, it was time for a second pot of coffee.

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Blogger Leonar said...


8:17 AM  

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