Consent of the Governed
It’s 2029, and the United States has fallen under the sway of an oppressive government where all citizens’ rights have been stripped, Red Shirt platoons patrol the streets, and people die for voicing opinions. Into this chaos step Sid and Annie Winthrop. The elderly couple sets out on a deadly journey of revenge against the Red Shirts who murdered their son.
Red Shirt members Victor and Brooklyn have devoted their young lives to the cause of the president in protecting the nation. When attacks on their home town leave dozens of Red Shirts dead, Victor must help his superiors find the vigilante.
At their darkest moment, each couple finds a common bond in their suffering and must decide where their loyalties lie.
The clock outside Coaltown National Bank read 3:07 a.m., and then flashed forty-seven degrees. Alone on the Main Street sidewalk, lit only by the electric sign in the window of the hardware store and the one street light that still worked, Sid Winthrop heard the Troopers in the alley before he saw them. Four Red Shirts. Tall, young. Looking for trouble, a victim. He slipped Chloe’s leash into his right hand. The young pit bull made a low growl.
“We got this, big girl.” Sid unbuttoned his long leather coat and fingered the grip of his suppressed Heckler and Koch USP .45ACP. Old men could look for trouble, too.
They came quickly and surrounded him with nightsticks in hand, as was their training. The biggest one, the squad leader—helmeted, six-four, two-fifty, could have been a college football player—took a stance directly in front of Sid, his nightstick held at the level of Sid’s face, blocking the way if he should try to run. Sid didn’t feel like running.
“What’re you doing out so late, old man?” the squad leader asked. He cocked his head, squinting in the dim light to make out Sid’s face under his broad-brimmed hat.
Sid pointed to the clock. “I prefer to think of it as early.”
“Listen to this shit,” the Red Shirt behind Sid screeched. “Maybe we need to teach this old guy some respect.”
Sid turned to face him, a fat, pimply kid just out of high school with snot dripping from his nose. “Old guys know about respect.” His voice was measured, barely above a whisper. “It’s the kids who don’t. Didn’t your mother teach you how to blow your nose?”
“I need to see some ID, old timer,” the squad leader said, and Sid turned back to face him.
“Because we have to know who is on the street at night.”
“Because it’s past curfew, and our job is to keep the town safe from terrorists and criminals.” The kid was becoming frustrated.
“Do I look like a terrorist?”
The leader snickered. “What does a terrorist look like?”
“I guess in these times, a terrorist looks like an old man walking his dog in the wee hours. So that gives you the right to surround him and threaten him with your clubs.” Sid reached into his coat pocket. All the Red Shirts stepped back and raised their nightsticks. Sid cast his gaze at each of them. “Do you want to examine my ID or not?”
The leader looked at each of his crew as if warning them to be alert. Then he nodded to Sid who withdrew a thin wallet and handed it to him.
“Stanley Richmond,” the leader read. “You live just a few streets over. Are you carrying any weapons?” The Red Shirts flanking Sid moved in closer, as if to check for weapons under his clothing, but he extended his arms, and they stepped away.
“All weapons are illegal,” Sid said, with an air of innocence. “President Rowson signed an executive order banning them.”
The leader nodded at the mention of the president’s name. “It’s time you went home, old man.”
“I’ll go home when it suits me.”
In one motion, Sid brushed his coat out of the way and drew the pistol from its holster. Without taking his eyes off the leader in front of him, he shot the fat kid behind him and then the Red Shirt on his left who hadn’t had a chance to move. The leader tried to step back, but a silenced .45 slug made a half-inch hole in his forehead. The last Red Shirt, a skinny twenty-two year-old with a thin, wispy beard, raised his nightstick and stepped toward Sid. The old man spun his body and held the pistol two inches from the young man’s chest. The bullet passed through the Red Shirt, lodging in the door of the boarded up pizzeria behind him. Then Sid bent over the leader to take the fake ID from the dead kid’s hand. He slipped it back into his pocket, walked toward the corner of the street, and disappeared into the darkness.
Through all this, Chloe remained silent, neither had she made a move, trained as she was to not bark, and to not get in her master’s way.