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The Last Stand
Speaking with Suburban Flight Refugee Family: 6/20/2022 Gun Bunker, Maryland
© 2022 James LaFond
DEC/6/22
written from memory a week later
Mister Grey drove me through southeastern Pennsylvania into north-central Maryland, where the land rises highest in the northward flight from Baltimore, before dropping slightly into the Susquehanna Watershed to the north. One crosses the border among green cornfields, massive gas stations, which have become the signature of all America East of the Rockies, and enter Shrewsbury, Maryland, right across the border. The town is pleasant, has Trump 2024 signs, Back the Blue banners, MIA banners, American flags and many pickup trucks. At the edge of town is The Gun Bunker gun store which says everything about what this place is. I bet that 90% of the residents are refugees from Baltimore. If they move any further they are out of range to work in Baltimore and also living in or near the minor shithole areas like Harrisburg, York and Lancaster, where the criminal elements ejected from New York and Philadelphia have many small Baltimores waiting for the refugee.
We are going to visit, Brett, Erik [his twin], The Man in the Hat [their father] and Mom. This intact nuclear family have been driven in stages from Baltimore City and then Baltimore County, by waves of blacks and recently Dominicans. The Man in The Hat is a fellow grocer who I have known for 20 years. I began coaching one of his twins, Brett, in 2004. He can be heard speaking on some stick-fighting videos in the background encouraging his son with me in sparring, “Punish ‘im Brett!” For a decade Modern Agonistics training and competition featured this mild mannered man sitting and reading Elroy novels in his hat, and occasionally encouraging his son to put the aging coach out of his misery.
One could not drive up the private road with the low clearance of Mister Grey’s urban extraction vehicle. Parking by the hay field on the berm, we walked up the drive way to see the Man in the Hat, standing there [a big man who still plays amateur hockey at 61.]
His voice sings like gravel when he sees the gutter gnome hobo hauling his rucksack up the way, “My God, isn’t this a sight! If I didn’t know you the shotgun would be out!”
“James, you look good—you look like you should have a squaw on a horse behind you.”
“Mister Grey, brother, it’s been a long time! Hey, The Wife has been grilling out back, has a spread on. You’re more than welcome to stay for dinner!”
The three of us stop and survey the high valley, flags flapping from dispersed farm houses, some discrete ranch houses embedded in the sixty year old tree lines from the initial urban flight of the 1960s. Towering over us under one of his many fine hats, spreading his big hand out over the pastures, the patriarch says, “James, will the Negro come? This is as far as I can run. Do you think the Negro will be welcome?”
“In Gun Bunker, Maryland? Not unless the cops come to protect them like they did in Baltimore. This looks good for twenty years. In fact, the lack of hoodrat infrastructure, up on this high rock, suggests that the Government will use Syrians or Afghans to clear you crackers out of here.”
“Twenty years? I’ll take it.”
“James!” came Brett’s voice as he returned from helping his uncle move something, “Great to see you! You have the same rucksack as I do in the army! Mister Gray, come on in and make yourself at home. Mom’s been cooking.”
“Brett,” says his father, “show James his room.”
Mom, a super cute and well-put-together Irish American lass with a personality to match, greeted us with hugs, halting to look at my bushy beard and then at the tattooed form of my friend, said, “Dinner is on, so nice to see you, its been ten years!”
On the deck the four-acre property could be half seen, including the work van of Mom’s brother, who is a master plumber fallen afoul of a wife, who has built a single person dwelling in the two acres of wood. To the south and west are hay fields owned by a young man of local lineage who has a business landscaping for the new refugee families up from lower Baltimore County. For Baltimore County runs north like a municipal curse all the way to the Pennsylvania state line.
Man in the Hat: “Business is good, leveled out from the Covid—money is there if you are willing to work. Of course, if you hadn’t left Bi-Rite, my best account, and flushed all that business we built together down the toilet, and forever impoverished me, I could have paid cash for this place!”
Brett: “He’s never going to let you live that down!”
[laughter all around]
Erik to Mister Grey: “Yes, we’re twins. I got all the brains.”
Brett: “And I got stuck with the muscles—its good for the Army, and stick fighting—”
Man in the Hat: “And the women, you ought to see his girl, James.”
Mom: “I don’t think James wants to spar with Brett anymore, do you?”
James: “We’ll work out the details and get some sparring and fights on video, you’ll get to see your son retire me in this very yard.”
Man in the Hat: “You all are maniacs—the mad scientist built one to make up for dropping the other on his head.”
Mom: “I’m really interested in hearing about the people and places you’ve seen across the country and how you think we’re situated here.”
James: “It’s variations on the same everywhere. You’re in what looks like a twenty year zone. In urban and suburban zones the real estate people and the government want to flip real estate in a 5-8 year window. To take out a small town this remote they need refugees from out of the country who are not so dependent on American retail consumption. Until they start bringing in Nigerians by the millions, I think you’ll be good here.”
Eric: “James, does the government hate us?”
James: “Does a rancher hate his cattle? I don’t think that hate is necessary for social malevolence. Even livestock farmers who love their animals, slaughter them all in time.”
Man in the Hat: “Amazing, you still have a brain after all the times you’ve been beat in the head!”
Laughter, light, harsh, low and even sardonic, came from the different diners at Mom’s table and drifted across the lawn on the cool gentle breeze as The Man in the Hat lit up a cigar and said, “We made it, James. We got out. That’s worthy of contentment.”
Amen.
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