McCarrick Christmas Special

Crashed America - Dark Comedy - Novel

ET and Waco did mount up the sled
shaking off cold and giving out dread
in neon red camo they went out to ride
with drinks in their hands and guns at their sides

‘Farewell’ cried the kiddies, their Ma and the rest
‘don’t come back deaded, our pride and our best’
‘Don’t you go wailin’ came the reply
‘McCarricks might go down, but seldom do die,
it’s for all the bad guys that you ought to cry’

And so with a wave and a loving last kiss
the dynamic duo set off into the mist
through copses and and side roads they rode out of sight
out of the holler and into the night
led on by wolves and a misplaced beagle
not quite noble steeds
but burly and evil

‘Where do we go, oh brother of mine
and when we get there,
what might we find?’
‘to fetch Uncle Rango,
if he ain’t yet dead
and a shit load of bad guys
who should learn to dread’

And so they did fly
away from the bustle
of McCarrick land
and Hetsaw’s small hustle
off to the city
where the Fed’s did array
doing their business
the most corrupt way
and on their arrival
in dawn’s early light
locals did marvel
at the rural delight
of two grizzled outlaws
on one creaky sled
led by a dozen strong wolves
and a beagle, near dead

‘What business is here
for strangers like you’
said a bored local lawman
with little to do
‘If parking that wreck
is your sneaking intention
you’ll get a ticket,
I feel I should mention’
to such light weighted threats there was no reaction
though Waco did think to leave him in traction
but ET stepped in with a dark vulpine smile
which sent the bored officer running for miles

‘Now city folk all, come hear our words,
we ain’t out for trouble,
though that may have been heard
In this festive season,
all that we want
is our dear Uncle Rango
and some Christmas eggnog’

Bemused by the strangers
and startled by wolves
the locals did back off
dashing like fools
which left Waco and ET
on government land
to reach for their pistols
and prepare their first stand

‘Bring out our Uncle
and no one gets shot
do it too slowly
and we’ll shoot a lot’

Moments did pass,
quiet and tense
as the urban folk wondered
what would come next
but their questions were answered
shortly thereafter
when three pitch black HumVees
came rolling like thunder

And from there there spewed out
a swarm of black suits
men in dark glasses
and highly trained youths

The McCarricks did snigger
at all the furor
for all of this drama
they had seen before
and when a tall stranger stepped up to them
chewing on gum and leading his men
it was all they could do
not to laugh in his face
for the vodka they’d finished
hadn’t been their first taste

‘Get out of town, you out-country bumpkins,
your Uncle ain’t comin’, he’s stuck in our dungeons,
there to answer for crimes he has done
to man, God and country
his hanging’ll come
And as it stands you’re walkin’ in our yard
and if you’ve only those pistols
you’ll find it mighty hard.’

Waco did giggle and ET did frown,
they both now knew the CIA were in town
A terrible sight as Christmas approaches
Black-Ops trained Seals
on vicious, cruel motives
but seldom is a seen a McCarrick in flight
especially when there’s the chance of a fight

Plus the boys Uncle Rango,
a terror for sure,
was only just guilty
and others were more
so here they would stand,
and here they would fight
against all these comers
and all Federal might

‘We know where he is’ ET intoned
‘down in the basement of your Black-Ops home
and deep in my satchel I’ve brought you a treat
a big block of Cemtex
wrapped nice and neat
but if you insist on your foolish denial,
I’ll shoot you right here and we’ll square off a while’

No idle meant threats
or hollow bravado
as ET shot first
his brow barely furrowed

The Agent went down
red in the face
as blood sprang up quickly
all over the place
‘Well now I see’ Waco did marvel
dodging debris
from the would be Marshall

Bullets went flying,
soldiers did fall
the Agencies finest
come to the call
but all unprepared
for McCarrick invasion
and all not yet trained
for Waco’s frustration
and so it became
and so it went on
Montgomery town
became a gory throng
as all through the streets
with rifles still blaring
grenades going off
and wolves all a’tearing
the brothers did fight
the forces of order
all for their Uncle
who’d not made the border

After a while things got all quiet
a bunker was reached
the baddies gone silent

‘Is he down there
brother of mine?’
‘I reckon so Waco,
I’ll go plant this mine,
just a bit of C4
a trace of the Nitro
we’ll soon be in
and home by tonight-o’

Waco did shrug,
for his brother had rhymed
but it being Christmas
he didn’t mind
but ducking quite quickly
explosions to dodge
he saw half the building
tumble and drop
a terrible sight
for those who had built it
to see their dark tower
broken and stilted

To their surprise
and strange felt delight, the building seemed empty
nobody in sight
‘Where do you think
our Uncle has gone,
in our attack
do you think we were wrong?’

‘All things can happen’ ET decreed
‘dogs can look up
dinos can breed
but as for the question
of what we’ve done wrong
I have to admit my info was strong’

And in this moment of self-doubting anguish
a friendly voice cried
‘Hey up, an escape bid!’
And Rango walked over
but not from inside
for he’d been in Arby’s
awaiting his ride

‘Oh Uncle, our Uncle,
what have we done
we blew up the Federals,
we’re off on the run!’

‘Never mind
nephews of mine,
head back to Hetsaw
where you’re hard to find,
it doesn’t matter that I just made bail
and walked my way from that terrible jail
because I’m not the first
nor am I the last
to find himself trapped on that terrible path
and with your explosion you’ve done them a favour
you should be pleased with your mighty labour
and the CIA, should they remember,
have learnt a lesson
this humid December
Never take a McCarrick in walking
because if we’re not down
there’s just no use talking.

For more from Waco, ET, the rest of the McCarrick clan and plenty of others check out my novel Crashed America – available in paperback and digital formats. It’s the ideal Christmas present for adults of all ages, children of some ages and also the undead. Even better, buy it for someone who’ll hate it and you can be sure to get it back next Christmas so you’ve got your own copy!

Happy Christmas (in advance), one and all.

The Ballad of Moscow Pete

Flag of the Soviet Union - Hammer and Sickle

Pete shed a lonely tear, not bothering to wipe it away. The last of them was gone, dead and burned up with a mixed fanfare of denunciations and praise. All those years devoted to the cause and what was left? Nothing. Just worn out memories and a long list of regrets. He’d be next too, he wasn’t getting any younger and he was running out of reasons to stick around.

He’d lost friends before, too many to recall and more than enough to make that sorrow familiar. Castro was no friend of his though. Fidel had been a onery son of a bitch, stubbon, arrogant and even more paranoid than a person needed to be even when the CIA really was out to get them. He’d also been part of that old school though, the ones who’d led Pete into the game and framed the rules for him. As they’d disappeared one by one, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Mao, Che and hell, even the ones on the other side, the Kennedys, Reagans and Hoovers – the joy had gone out of the whole thing. What fun was a Cold War when nobody else was fighting it? The only person left who’d even consider trying to have Pete assassinated was Kissinger and he’d stopped being a real threat when the aliens had replaced half of his brain with that of a hyper-intelligent sheep. Although, to be fair, he seemed happy enough with the arrangement.

Looking up Pete could see two men walking up the long trail to the barn he was sitting outside of, an intrusion on a moment more lonely than solitary. Hit men? His nerves jangled with the preemptive rush of adrenaline for a second but it was optimism more than anything else that fed them. There wouldn’t be any hit men coming. No poison umbrellas, no death rays, no spies, no snipers’ bullets, no suave men in outdated tuxedos and no Illuminati shills out to drive him mad with obscure research chemicals. The only people who came by these days were the McCarrick boys, nursemaids living out their obligation to their dead, or at least departed, mother who’d had an uneasy alliance with him when it came to protecting their small Alabama hometown of Hetsaw. A favour Pete hadn’t asked for but not one he was stupid enough to reject.

He’d come to know them over the years, filing away the ever more bizarre rumours which went around about them in a habitual attempt to build mental files, as if the Kremlin would come knocking for an update report. The older son, Earl, took after his mother when it came to the occult stuff, shit, maybe he even was her in a way, there was no knowing with that mystic nonsense but the dead in the McCarrick family certainly didn’t shirk their familial obligations. The younger one though, Jimmy, he was like his Uncle Waco and his dad, ET, straight up crazy. Good boys for all that though, easy going in a fatally dangerous kind of way.

Pete rose to greet them as they drew close, warily eyeing the pair in their beaten denims and wife beater vests. Good boys or not it never paid to take the pair lightly when they came around. Earl came first, reaching out a calloused and heavy hand to engulf Pete’s own increasingly frail one in a handshake.

“We came when we heard, Moscow, we know you go back a way with the old Commie.”

Moscow was the nickname jokingly given to Pete by Hetsaw locals thanks to his rumoured dealings with the KGB – and one used seriously by those who knew his real past. How much that included Jimmy and Earl he wasn’t sure, although old Ma McCarrick might have told them a pretty story or two before passing on to wherever her kind passed on to. Jimmy followed up with a seemingly genuinely look of concern and his own handshake.

“Thanks boys. He was an asshole but give it long enough and even they end up meaning something to ya.”

There was a pint jug by the bale of hay Pete had been sat on and, reclaiming his seat, he offered it to the two men who took turns taking deep gulps from it.

“We figured we should come up, give our condolences ‘n all” Jimmy said, a surprisingly soft tone belaying the persistent wide eyed look of insanity that he’d made his own.

“Appreciated, would say you shouldn’t have troubled yourselves but I ain’t one to say no to company on a day like this.”

Earl nodded and took a hay bail next to Pete, Jimmy following suit.

“I ain’t meaning to probe” the older brother said “but Ma told me that we should keep an eye out if the old guys from your, ah, way of thinkin’ started to drop. I mean, I know he was ninety but those Agency boys can have some long memories and if you’re name’s next on a list somewhere then best to let us know now. We don’t stand for that sort of thing here in Hetsaw.”

Pete nodded vaguely, letting his confused old man face take over his features, as he tended to when people started probing at things they perhaps ought not to know about.

“You know we’ll keep you covered Moscow but if you know about anything that might go down it’d certainly help. We can stick Cousin Hank and Cousin Myron up here, good men in a shootin’ fight, but those CIA guys have their own line in that… other shit, y’know? If it comes to that we might have to approach things a li’l differently.”

Earl looked the same as always, relaxed to the point of indifference, but for his eyes which, Pete noticed for the first time, were maturing to resemble Ma McCarrick’s. Soft at first glance but hard as steel if you bothered to pay attention. The proper heir to her side of the family business then. Jimmy meanwhile was draining the jug and looking sad, although whether that was out of compassion, because the jug was empty or just because he was crazy there was no way of knowing.

“Well thanks Earl, that’s good to know. Ain’t no need for concern though. No one’s losing sleep over an old son of a bitch like me. You’re smart to be thinkin’ about those Agency boys though, your Ma’s right, they dabble in all sorts of shit. Back in my day it was kept in check mind, they did stuff, we did stuff, everyone scared of goin’ too far with it. Occult M.A.D. y’know? Kids these days, with their computers and Facebooks and whatnot, no sense at all, they’ll summon a demon just to show off. By the way, how’s she keepin’, er, wherever she is?”

That Ma McCarrick was dead Pete was certain, he’d been to the funeral and snuck in the night before while the body way laying out, just to make sure. That she was really gone though was a bit more of an open question.

“Ah she’s good, you know how it is.”

He had no idea how it was, even after his years working in the darkest regions of the KGB’s magical subdivisions he was still, at heart, an old fashioned spy, more used to gunfire and garrotes than sacrifices and chanting.

“Well, that’s good to hear son, good to hear.”

The trio sat in silence for a while, Pete drifting through rough edged memories, the brothers lost in their own thoughts. It was comfortable, he vaguely thought, the boys weren’t kin but they knew enough to be silent company and they knew enough to take him seriously, a rarity in Hetsaw these days. He knew most locals now viewed him as a relic, a senile old farmer living out a life that had stopped making sense decades back and that was just because he was old, never mind the sniggering Moscow Pete jokes they told about him. The rumours which used to make him a mystery now made him a novelty, a curiosity, he knew that and now with Fidel gone he was even more of a museum piece. The game really was over. These days it was all drones and ‘Cyber Terrorism’, whatever the hell that was. No one believed any more, not in the ideas and definitely not in the right way of doing things. Kids in containers blowing up convoys of trucks a thousand miles away and anonymous people in anonymous suits sticking microphones on the backs of flies – that was no way to run the world.

After a while he was broken away from his thoughts by a faint, but rapidly increasing thrum in the distance. Pete recognised the sound, it was a chopper, a MI-17 ‘Hip’, a favourite of the CIA these days. Made in Russia, for added irony, so hard to trace back to the US. For a moment he thought he was finally starting to give in to senility, hallucinating fragments of excitement dredged up from the distant past but both Earl and Jimmy were already on their feet, scanning the horizon and pulling out pistols. They only cast passing glances at him as they kept their eyes fixed on the treeline that fronted the property, waiting to see what came.

Leaving them to it Pete stood up and shakily rushed into the barn. Old limbs ached, the arthritis in his left knee making him feel like he’d slowed to a crawl but even he knew that he made a fair dash to the pile of hay he was looking for, old man or not. He swept aside the top layer, revealing a steel footlocker buried in the mass of fodder. It took forced concentration to make his trembling fingers work on the combination lock but with only a couple of mistakes he still managed to open it. Inside was a half dozen handguns, a shotgun and an AK47, all immaculately oiled and kept despite years of disuse. Old habits died hard and besides, what else was there to do these days beyond polish mementos of the past? Pulling out the AK he made his way back outside where the McCarrick boys were watching the now visible helicopter approach them, the noise rising to an overwhelming din, sending dirt and dust up into the air around them.

First the ropes dropped down, then the black clad figures. Pete had stopped shaking now and forgotten his aching knee, he was even grinning as he levelled the rifle at a descending figure some forty feet off and with a grunt at the forgotten jolt of a bucking gun reeled off a couple of shots at it. He struck home, a limp form free falling to the ground. Jimmy and Earl followed suit, unleashing a small but meaningful hail of bullets at the invaders as they made their way down.

From there on in it was just like the old days, for Pete at least. The younger men were experienced, well used to the rattle of gunfire, but he barely noticed them. For the few split seconds the gunfight lasted, as CIA operatives hit the ground and dashed for cover, splattering the three men with bullets when they could, he was propelled back into those halcyon days all those years ago. It was just like the Bay of Pigs all over again, like the jungles of Vietnam, like the underground city where they’d duked it out with Navy Seals to make the centre of the earth Communist, it was everything he’d remembered it being, it was –

Earl grabbed Jimmy and hauled him backwards into the barn, guiding him around the fallen figure of Moscow Pete as he went. The old man had died with a smile on his face. Granted, he also had a bullet hole straight through his forehead, but wherever he’d gone now he probably wouldn’t be worrying about that. There was still gunfire from outside, smacking into the wooden planks but with his brother trailing behind him there was nothing left to do but run. Straight through the barn and out of the small door at the back, then a sideways dash for the treeline. The McCarricks could still hear the Agency men wasting ammunition as they fled into the dense woods and shifted from full flight down to a relaxed stroll. The CIA should have surrounded the place but they hadn’t, Earl wasn’t surprised, those guys loved their black helicopters and drama too much to bother with real planning.

They walked in silence for a while, guns tucked back into their belts and the gentle crunch of leaves under their feet audible between their ragged inhalations. It was Jimmy who, eventually, broke it.

“You told them where he was?”

Earl nodded.

“They knew, I just reminded them. Maybe mentioned that he might be planning to write a book or somethin’.”

They walked on in silence for a while before Jimmy spoke again.

“That was nice of you. It’s what he would have wanted.”

“I reckon so. Ma and Pa agreed too, ain’t no joy having to live out yer days as less than the man you were.”

Later that night they drank a toast to Moscow Pete and, along with a dozen other McCarricks and hangers on, sang the Internationale one more time, loud enough for all of Hetsaw to hear.

Moscow Pete, Earl, Jimmy and the McCarrick clan also feature in the novel Crashed America – available in all good realities.

Make Hetsaw Great Again

Crashed America - Dark Comedy - Novel

“TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!”

Earl hadn’t expected the alarm call, but then he hadn’t expected to wake up in the gutter of Hetsaw’s historic Main Street either. Life was full of surprises.

“TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!”

Peeling his face off of the road Earl dragged his body round to sit on the sidewalk, a hand running over his face to check whether the dull throbbing pain in his head was just the hangover of the result of some hideous wound. No blood, so it was just the drink, which wasn’t exactly a relief but you took what you could get.

“TRUMP! TRUMP! TRUMP!”

The shouting was coming from a group of perhaps fifty people, flags flying and banners waving as they made their way down the street towards him, blocking off midday traffic and earning irritable glares from local storekeepers. Earl didn’t dabble in politics, living largely outside the boundaries of the law and often on a higher plain of existence. The price of gas or who was busy being corrupt up in Washington weren’t really matters that bothered him. The closest he’d come had been a brief and unintentional stint with some militia guys who’d wanted to invade Mexico and set up a new country. That had been nothing more than a night out that had gotten out of hand but they had, for a couple of days, managed to run the entire town of Tijuana as a feudal state. That said anything, or anyone, that stirred him from a comfortable roadside doze though had to be wrong in some way.

Jimmy was nowhere to be seen, which was no surprise. The last thing Earl could remember was watching his brother climbing up the side of the town hall trailing electric cables and ranting about time travel. Chances were he was still up in the clock tower, sleeping one off, but then he might just have gone backwards, or forwards, in time. In which case he’d just have to deal with his own  hangover as best he could.

The morning was a clear one, humid but with blue skies and an imposing sun already hanging overhead asserting the realities of the day. Never something to be welcomed, in Earl’s experience, not when there were other far more enjoyable realities to be found at least.

The marching crowd was drawing parallel now, their disjointed wall of sound breaking up from it’s organised battle cry into a confusion of angry, laughing and tired voices. Bleary eyed Earl surveyed the mass of people, looking out for local faces and trying to suppress the vague urge to lash out at the nearest person for sending bolts of pain through his chemically damaged brain. Donald Trump, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, build the wall, the chants meant nothing to him although Earl had met the man once on a rare trip to New York. Him, Jimmy, their father ET and Uncle Waco had been there on family business, a forceful negotiation with some men in bad suits who all had nicknames like ‘Fat Sal’ and ‘Even Fatter Tony’. That wasn’t why they’d run into Trump though, that had been pure coincidence.

As well as the more routine, criminal side of the family business they’d been running an errand for Ma, checking out some occult goings on that she suspected might need kicking into submission by the McCarrick clan. It had come to nothing, unfortunately. Waco and Jimmy had been disappointed seeing as they’d managed to pick up a barrel of napalm in Brooklyn that they’d been eager to experiment with. What was meant to be a dark cabal messing with the fabric of reality turned out to be nothing more than a club for old men, doing lines of coke and wearing lots of black. Teenage Goth stuff re-purposed for bored millionaires. At least one heart attack had been caused when they’d burst into the penthouse suite, a gaudy hotel room elaborately decorated in black velvet and garish gold candle holders. The buffet had been great though and, while ET and Waco generally disapproved, the mountains of cocaine hadn’t gone down too badly. They didn’t have much time to thank their hosts though, not once they’d tied them up and finished making fun of their XXL robes and bullshit notions about black candles and sacrificing goats.

Trump had been one of the men present, although it was only after a few slaps to the reality TV star’s face that Earl realised it. None of the McCarrick’s were big TV watchers and besides, without the wig you’d never have recognised him, especially with the elaborate Zodiac tattoo that covered his bald head. Symbols of power, really great power, the best power, the irritable politician-to-be had told them, although Ma had later said that the most dangerous thing about them was the risk of infection. Either way Earl hadn’t thought much of the encounter until now.

The man was President of the USA, apparently. A nation that no one in the family really thought of as including the Free State of McCarrick but it never hurt to keep an eye on the neighbours. No one who incited people to go out marching when he was hungover should be allowed near power Earl thought, it was just asking for trouble. It was a thought that made him tense his fists, not out of anger, he seldom felt that, but for the sheer sake of doing something. Ma had always warned him against getting involved in this sort of thing, she’d been dead set against politics ever since Cousin Bennett had had the idea to blow up JFK’s head with his psychic powers. It was best, she said, to be philosophical about these things, besides, there was business to do and the bars would be opening soon.

The crowd had mostly passed Earl now, heading off towards the town hall at the top of the street to shout at somebody for some reason he didn’t much care about. He stood up, shaking the cobwebs out of his head and feeling some of his usual serenity seep back in, the universe once again starting to make blissful sense, from his own unique angle. He even smiled a little when, with a sudden streak of flame, Jimmy appeared at one end of the street in a DeLorean and, swerving to keep the car under control, ploughed into the back of the group of protesters, taking half a dozen of them out as he went. Chances were it wasn’t intentional but then Jimmy, unlike his older brother, had recently bucked family tradition and taken an interest in politics. All politics, which was why so far that month alone he’d cycled through Anarchism, Communism, Primitivism, Tribalism, Libertarianism, Feudalism and – for some reason known only to himself – Will Smith Supremacy, a very niche spin off from the Black Supremacist movement. Earl wasn’t exactly sure what he was on today, although as he pulled a neat 180 hand break turn in the middle of the road he did hear Jimmy screaming ‘MAKE HETSAW GREAT AGAIN’.

All things considered it looked like it’d be another beautiful day.

Earl, Jimmy and the McCarrick clan also feature in the novel Crashed America – available in all good realities.