A Dark Web: Part Two

Missed the first part?  Go to The Bolingbrook Babbler to check it out!

Connie Herbert slipped the badge between the seat and the armrest, cleared her throat, and pulled at her neck gaiter. They had a job to do, and if she was lucky, no one in Gabriel’s Crest would find out who she was. Not even Mary–the third Mary of Mary’s Meat Shop–who might remember something of Connie’s eyes. Or the eyes that she shared with so many of the women in her family.

“What’s bugging you, Herbert?”

Connie looked over at Mateo at the wheel of the pickup truck. “You think we’ve got the wrong ant hill?” They’d worked a hundred of these parties together over the last twenty years, cleaning up before anyone thought to get their hands dirty on substances the Feds wouldn’t know what to do with. If anyone knew something was wrong, though, with the party or anything else, it would be Mateo.

“So, I think we’ve got the wrong party, confreres,” Kyle said. Except for the way he spoke, he could have easily been mistaken for a bored farm kid from some town thirty miles away but seemingly in the same corn field. Fresh out of college, he landed on their team. “I mean, this rural setting just jeopardizes their contraband commerce.”

Mateo turned toward the back seat. “Small towns like this, they thrive on local legends. Best business is where they believe in what they’re buying.”

“You’d know first hand, small town boy like you, Kyle,” Connie said. Her voice wavered, and she cleared her throat. “Can’t get this dirt road dust out of my lungs.”

“You never get used to that, do you, big city gal like you?” Mateo shook his head at her.

Connie tried not to think about what that meant. Like her, he was from Chicago. She let it lie at that. He was, for all intents and purposes, family to her, like so many on the teams she’d worked on had become. But she couldn’t help thinking about where she came from, if not directly. Story was that her grandmother and great aunt had lived in some small town like this, though Connie’s dad never let slip the name of the place. Connie’s grandfather had gone off under “mysterious circumstances,” that long phrase that sounded like a magic spell. Some commotion around her grandmother’s sister, too. Her dad was so young when they pulled up stakes that he hardly remembered either of them. “Look, I doubt it’s really what they say it is, Kyle. It’s just a name. It’s just a marketing gimmick.”

“Then why are we carrying a metric crap ton of antivenom in the cooler, Connie?” Katie pulled her medic’s bag into her lap. “Did you fall for the marketing gimmick too? Because that’s going to do a giant load of bull plop for anyone who uses it, if I’m getting the big picture right on this.”

“Look,” Connie said to the team. “Here’s the thing. We get in, we get the stuff, and we get out before the Feds get here–especially before the Feds get here. Then we find out who’s making the stuff in the first place. But we worry about that later.” She pulled gloves over her long fingers. “If we’re lucky, we do this quietly.”

“If we’re lucky,” Katie said, her medic’s bag in hand.

If they were lucky, no one in that raucous, dressed-up crowd would know what they were doing.

If Connie was lucky, no one would know what she was doing, in the crowd or in the cab of the pickup. If she was lucky, no one would see who she was.

Or, she shuddered, what.

Read Part 3 over at Impossible Me!


Religion and the Supreme Court Nominee: It’s Not a Cult. It’s Worse.

No word back from either of my GOP senators, both of whom are on the Senate Judiciary Committee, regarding my previous letters about their hypocritical attempt to rush nominee Amy Coney Barrett into a seat on the Supreme Court.

That said, here’s a bit that I might add to my next round of written communication with said senators, from a recent article in The Guardian (“‘It instilled such problems’: ex-member of Amy Coney Barrett’s faith group speaks out“):

Thomas Csordas, an anthropology professor at the University of California San Diego who has studied the issues around communities like People of Praise, said it was wrong to focus attention on whether the group could be a considered a “cult” in the spirit of Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple. It was much more appropriate, he said, to examine what he called the “intentional community” of People of Praise and its nature of being “conservative, authoritarian, hierarchical, and patriarchal”.

“I think they’re potentially more dangerous and much more sophisticated [than a cult],” he said. “It is not the kind of group where submission of women to men means that they have to stay barefoot and pregnant. Instead, they have to be lawyers and judges and submissive to men at the same time. They have to be able to have a career and seven kids at the same time.”

As soon as I have the next round of postcards to elected officials drafted, I’ll put them up here.  And I’ll definitely include a question about her ability to see past her belief system, since, as Prof. Csordas says, ‘She already “knows” what to think because of the patriarchal structure she was raised in.’  Which is a structure that we can’t give any more power to.

Texas Governor Restricts Number of Ballot Drop-Off Locations

It’s never a good sign when your state makes it into the international news.  From the BBC, “Texas governor cuts back on voting locations weeks before election“:

Texas’ governor has ordered that voters can drop off their mail-in ballots at only one location per county in the lead-up to the presidential election.

On social media, there’s a push to get mail-in ballot voters to drop off their ballots rather than mail them in to prevent overloading the already burdened USPS.  That Gov. Abbott is putting up this obstacle is disturbing to say the least.  (I do wonder whether this is the result of the push-back he received from his own Republican party regarding his extension of early voting dates.)

Just for a little context, here are a few county numbers (links are to US Census Bureau website; registered voter count is from the Texas Secretary of State January 2020 Voter Registration Figures website):

  • Harris (including Houston, the 4th most populous city in the US), population: 4,713,325 with 2,370,968 registered voters
  • Dallas (including Dallas, the 9th most populous city in the US): 2,635,516 with 1,335,478 registered voters
  • Tarrant (including Fort Worth, the 13th most populous city in the US): 2,102,515 with 1,151,733 registered voters
  • Bexar (including San Antonio, the 7th most populous city in the US): 2,003,554 with 1,125,759 registered voters
  • Travis (including Austin, the 11th most populous city in the US): 1,273,954 with 813,626 registered voters
  • El Paso (including El Paso, the 22nd most populous city in the US): 839,238 with 469,342 registered voters.

The population of Texas is 29 million, 16,106,984 of which are registered voters.  I don’t have figures for how many voters have requested mail-in ballots.

That said, in a state comprising only 254 counties, we’re looking at a serious attempt at keeping voters from having their voices heard.  Which, sadly, is nothing new.

This article from KPRC in Houston provides more population-related info: “New census data: Harris County is the third largest county in the US, but how does its growth compare to other large Texas counties?