The camped that night on the outskirts of Wills Point, a small town of about thirty five hundred residents. After leaving Grand Saline, the passed through Fruit Lake and Edgewood without problem and continued west to their current location.
Dinner that night was the rest of the ham along with potatoes and carrots and found everyone subdued and cranky. The road and the constant travel were wearing on all of them. They constantly had to be on the lookout for trouble, for water sources, to be concerned if the stranger coming towards them on foot, bike or horseback was up to no good or just another refugee like them.
After eating, Patty pulled out the Ruger 10/22 and handed it to Brad.
"Here, take this. And here are the extra magazines for it and two boxes of spare ammo. Lamar and I split all the ammo when we left Shreveport in case we were separated and one was not left with an empty gun and now way to reload it." she said.
"Um, okay, but you said..." said Brad before Patty cut him off.
"Forget what I said. Rules have changed. Just keep it for now. Give me that .243. I'll carry it from now on."
Patty then went to her back pack and took out a small make up compact. She then took out her knife and looking in the mirror, began to hack her off shoulder length hair.
"What are you doing?" said Candace. "You're cutting all your hair off? Why?"
"It's in the way." said Patty in a plain voice.
Patty finished the crude cutting job and then pulled on her old baseball cap down low. To complete the look, she added her sunglasses and then looked from side to side in the small mirror at her appearance.
"How do I look?" she said to nobody in particular.
"Like a boy." said Catelyn.
"Good. You might want to do the same thing. Sorry to say it, but being a woman traveling alone makes you a target to the wrong sort of people. I wish I would have done this before I left Shreveport." she replied.
Afterward, Patty started going through her bag and separating clothing and other things into two piles. When she was done, she put one pile bag into her bag. The others she stuffed into an old plastic grocery bag and tossed aside. She then stood, stretched, removed the magazine and cleared the Glock and called Candace over.
"Candace, come here. Here, hold this." And she handed the Glock butt first to the teenager.
"Don't worry, it's not loaded, but I want to show you how to check if it is. There work this back and see? No round. Now look at the base, no magazine, right? Okay, we got that out of the way, stand like this. Now, hold the gun with this hand and put your other underneath. Got it? Now raise it up and point it like this.." she said.
For the next fifteen minutes, Patty showed Candace how to aim and dry fire the weapon. She admitted that it was not the best thing for the firing pin to dry fire it, but she knew the inexperienced girl would probably drop the gun with the first round if she was not comfortable with handling the weapon.
Afterward, she reloaded the magazine and showed Candace how to ready the pistol. Then she cleared it again and put the gun away.
"I don't think you're ready yet, but I want you to know how to use this in case I am not around, okay?" she said to Candace looking her in the eye. Candace nodded and asked,
"Why, where are you going? You're not going to leave us too are you?"
"No, I am not planning on it, but you never know what might happen." Patty said solemnly and then she went back to her pack and sleeping bag.
They pulled out early the next morning not knowing what hoops they might have to jump through at the next town on the map. Within an hour, they were at the city limits of Wills Point and received a big surprise.
There was the usual roadblock they had become accustomed to at each of these small towns and this one was no different, with a small exception. When they pulled their bikes up to the roadblock and man came forward from the phalanx of guards behind the impromptu barricade.
"We know what you're here for, but you heard wrong. We don't have enough to share so go on back where you came from." he said.
"Huh? I don't know what you are talking about? We are trying to get home to Dallas and the road goes through your town." said Patty.
"Sure you are. You heard about the relief supplies like all the rest and now you've come on down to get your share, right? Well wrong. We don't have enough for you or anyone else. There's only enough for our town and our people. Beat it." he replied.
"Relief supplies? That's a bunch of bull. There is no relief going on, I should know. We traveled all the way from Louisiana and there's no relief effort going on everywhere. Even if there was, we don't want any of your stuff, we just want to get get home!" shouted Patty.
"Hold on a minute." said an older voice with more than a hint of a deep Texas drawl. "There's no reason to get all fired up, we've all got a case of the nerves these days. Next thing you know, that little lady will pull that Glock and start putting holes everywhere."
An older man wearing blue jeans, boots and a work shirt with a star pinned to the front came forward. He held up his hands at waist height to show he was not holding a gun or pointing one at anyone.
"Who's the boss of this little group here? I suppose it's you ma'am?" he asked Patty.
"I guess so. So what's it going to be?" she asked.
"I don't know yet. Here's the deal and you tell me how to play it, alright? We got a truck load of needed supplies courtesy of Uncle Sam this morning and since then, we have had a parade of welfare folk showing up with their hands out." he said.
"I had no idea, we didn't see any truck and it's not like it was advertised on the TV now was it?" asked Patty sarcastically.
"She's lying, Earl. Let's cuff em, frisk em and send them on their way." said the little man next to the lawman.
"Put a sock in it, Gus. Now lady, I don't know if you heard about it, if you're funning me or telling the truth. How am I supposed to know?" 'Earl' asked Patty.
"Okay, Sheriff Taylor, let's make it easy for you, okay? There are four of us, three teenagers and one seriously tee'd off mom wanting to get home to her five year old daughter a hundred miles from here. Do you really think all you big old men, well, not you, (Patty looked at the little man who spoke first) can't keep us away from your truck load of spam and toilet paper? C'mon.." she asked.
"I don't know, I've seen some ticked off mama bears in my time. How do I know you aren't checking the place out for some gang or something? There's been talk around here you know?" he asked warily.
"How any gangs let pretty young teenage girls with Bible school t-shirts on run around doing their dirty work. That's gotta be a new one." Patty said with a smile.
Earl laughed. "Alright, you can pass through, but me and one of my guys is going to walk with you just to be sure."
"Suit yourself." said Patty.
Once they got started, Patty asked about the aid and what was going on with the relief.
"They said there were from FEMA. They had a number of trucks in a convoy and were hitting some of the smaller towns along this way. We only rated one truck based upon the number of people we had and how many stranded folks we took in." Earl, who turned out to be the local constable admitted.
"We've heard rumors, but it seemed just that, rumors. Did they ask for anything when they dropped off the supplies? Lists of people? Guns? That's what we heard east of here, but I didn't believe it. Sounded too much like a conspiracy theory they tossed around on the internet." replied Patty.
"It's not a rumor. They asked me to turn over any guns in the property room as well as any military style weapons the police owned or that were owned by private citizens. I told them they were welcome to whatever I had in the property room. We're a small town and that totaled up to an old shotgun, a broken BB gun and a .357 revolver somebody found on their property last year. It had more rust than my first pickup truck."
"Well, they asked me to tell folks to turn in their non-approved guns, they had a list for that, or they couldn't drop off aid. I told them that it would take all day and asked them to leave the supplies and they could come back in the next few days and I'd have all the guns they requested ready to go. That satisfied them for the time being because they left the truck load and moved on." he finished.
"Are you going to do it? That doesn't seem right letting the government take weapons from people who have to defend themselves. We've been attacked or harrased a half dozen times and while we aren't carrying AK-47's, we'd be dead if we didn't have what we do now." stated Patty.
"I didn't say I agreed with what they were doing, but the town needed the supplies. We were just about out of cats and dogs to go in the stew pot." Earl said in way which could have been the truth.
"I see. What about people? Did they have a list for that too?" asked Patty.
"Yep, mainly political folks. You know, anyone who might have run the local electoral board, raised campaign money for anyone or the local state reps. Said they were trying to get the state government on its feet and they needed the folks with the most experience to pitch in." answered Earl.
"That's strange." remarked Patty.
"Either way, they're coming back tomorrow and they want the guns on the list as well as anyone who might fit their profile." said Earl.
"What sort of guns are on the list? I'm just curious but as you can tell, we aren't exactly looking like Rambo here." she said.
"It's bigger than you think, sort of like the stuff on the Assault Weapon Ban, you remember that? But more of it. For instance, they want any sort of AR or AK style rifles. Anything that can carry more than nine rounds including handguns. They want any rifle, shotgun or handgun which might have been used by military forces such as those Russian rifles that flooded the market a few years back."
"They say I can keep my sidearms as well as those of any other authorized law enforcement officers, but we can only use shotguns for long arms or bold action rifles. No more military style guns like AR-15's, you know. A bunch of the folks in town don't like what those FEMA guys were asking for. Said we should stand up to them since they work for us, not the other way 'round. But I don't want a blood bath on my hand. These folks here, they are my neighbors and friends." Earl said.
"I don't wear a tin foil hat when I'm not riding my bike across East Texas, but that sure sounds suspicious. Doesn't it to you too? I mean with millions without power, hospitals shut down, few running vehicles and so many folks starving, gun control would be the last thing on my To Do list. What about you?" asked Patty.
"They claimed it was to restore order and public safety. That there are too many scared Americans using guns they don't need in an unsafe and unauthorized manner. That the only way to get people working together again toward the collective goal of restoring our country, was to get people dependent upon each other for security and no through the use of military style weaponry." said Earl in an almost monotone repetitive voice.
"Well, what are you going to do?" asked Patty as they neared the other side of town and closer to the road block on the western side.
"It's not a problem, really. All of the folks providing security here are deputized by the highest ranking law officer in town, me. And we don't have any of those scary assault weapons here. Nope, we're a poor rural town and nobody can afford one of them high dollar AR guns. Nope, we can only afford what we got around here to protect the farm." Earl said with a wink.
"Thank you for letting us pass, Earl." said Patty.
"Not a problem. You get home to that little girl, now you hear?"
After they rode out of sight of Wills Point, Brad rode along side Patty and asked her about the exchange back in town.
"I think somebody in Washington figured this was the best time for them to 'fix' America and make it the way they want it to be once and for all." said Patty.
They rode on for an hour before Patty stopped for a water break and to check the map. She noted that while there were going to be more pockets of people ahead, the larger town of Terrell was their next big obstacle they would face. She was measuring the distance and figuring the time when she heard a deep long rumble a distance behind them to the east.
When she finally realized what it was, she yelled to the others,
"Get off the road and under cover! Now!"
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