Saturday, November 14, 2009



Warning: If you are easily shocked with regard to contrary
points of view, conspiracy theories, offensive language,
political correctness, sex, violence, or anything else that
may offend your sensibilities or lack of open-mindedness,
or if you're a minor (but by no means limited to the
aforementioned), please do not read this novel, short story,
fictional blog, or anything else F. Scott Sinclair writes about.
It's not for you...

Note: This is a work of fiction. The events described here
are imaginary: the settings, events and characters are
fictitious, and/or are the product of the author's imagination
or used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual events
or locales or persons (living or dead) is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2006 by F. Scott Sinclair.

All Rights Reserved.

Installment 4 of "The Walls Have Ears: A Novel of America"

Before Luther James and Paul Krugar crossed the wooden
threshold of Larry’s Tavern, they stomped their feet on
the plastic mesh “Welcome” mat. The snow peeled off the
sides of their boots like a fish being filleted.

As the oak door opened, the owner Larry Stevens greets
them. “Well, if you two aren’t a sight…! You two look like
death warmed over.”

Paul glared in Larry’s direction, and says dryly, “You
do know what you can do with that beer glass when you’ve
finished drying it?”

Larry placed the concaved glass down on the bar, and
then nonchalantly draped the towel over his left forearm,
and says, “No… What?”

“You can stick it where the moon don’t shine…!”

“Now is that anyway to treat our friend, Larry, here…,”
Luther said, tapping Paul on the shoulder.

Annoyed, Paul says, “If you don’t stop touching me,
that broom handle in the corner might be your undoing,
ole buddy.”

“Ah, Paul, snap out of it…,” Larry said, placing two
draft beers on the counter.

With a slight whimsical expression, Paul chuckles,
and says, “Now that’s right neighborly if I don’t
say-so myself.”

“I thought a couple of free brews might give you
guys a partial attitude adjustment.”

“A partial attitude adjustment?” Luther quips,
leaning against the bar.

The other patrons could only sit by in amusement
as Larry’s favorite customers verbally dueled with him.

One such patron, Ron Norwood, asked, “You guys
up to no-good as always?”

“Well, Red—“

“The name’s, Ron, to you two,” Ron spouted almost
instinctively, raising his bottle of “Coors” upward in a
symbolic gesture of a toast.

Paul pushed himself back from the counter, raising
his glass of white capped yellow brew in the air, and adds,
“To you, Red. And the horse you road in on… But most
importantly, I’d like to toast to our future. How does that
sound, partner?!”

“Like you’re up to something, as always…,” Ron said,
slamming his Coors on the bar dramatically.

Paul turned to Luther, and then glances shyly into
Larry’s eyes, and says, “Care to arm wrestle, Red?”


“You heard me. You’re a muscular, dude… And with
the way the country is heading, you’re likely to need the cash.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The next Great American Depression, that’s what I’m
referring to…!”

With almost a stoic stare, Red, as he’s affectionately called,
says, “I wouldn’t want to bankrupt you before this so-called
Great American Depression hits!”

Luther interrupts, and says, “You afraid of the truth,

“Who pulled your chain?” Red said, gulping down the
last of his Coors.

Larry stepped between them, and with a deadpan look,
says, “That’s enough. Things are bad enough in the country
without this sort of horseplay. So, cut it out!”

“Yes, sir. Whatever you say… But in all good conscience
I must request permission to speak freely, sir,” Paul said
sarcastically, standing erect as though he was still back in
the military.

Wiping the sweat from his forehead, Larry says,
“Permission granted…”

“Good. Fuck you…!”

Bursting out loud in a roaring chuckle, Larry says,
“That’s what I like about you, Paul.”

“And what may I ask is that?”

“What I like about you?”


With a shiteating grin, he says, “Nothing…!”

Red roared and ordered another Coors after those words.

Feigning defeat, Paul grabbed both beers…steering
Luther towards a booth in the far corner of the tavern.

As they sat down opposite each other with a formica
table between them, Luther asked, “What was all that about?”

“I was having a little fun, that’s all…”

“At whose expense, ole boy?”

“Doesn’t matter, no how,” Paul said, his head tilted
in the direction of the bar.

“I know you’re down, so it does matter. What’s the
problem? Why the grudge?”

He pursed his lips casually, and then turned toward
Luke, and says, “Grudge? I don’t have the faintest idea
of what you’re talking about.”

“You may be able to bullshit the peanut gallery.
But I’m not the peanut gallery. You’re pissed at the
where the country’s heading, except there’s more
to it than that, isn’t there?”

“You my shrink, or what?”

Before Luke could respond, Paul had smashed
his empty glass against the floor and pushed the
Formica table toward Luther.

Sensing the outrage in Paul’s eyes and the tension
permeating every fiber of Paul’s body, he says,
“C’mon, man. Christ, get the shit out in the open!
Holding it inside you is taking a toll. You’re killing
yourself! Trust me on this, will yah?”

Larry scooted over to their booth hastily with
the ears and eyes of the others patrons following his
every step, and says gasping for breath, “What in the
hell’s going on? I’ve got a damn business to run. I’ve
no time to baby-sit a couple of losers.”

“I’d watch what you say, Larry. This isn’t the
time or place to admonish anyone. Anyway, there’s
no problem. He accidentally knocked the glass off
the table.”

“An accident…?”

Pissed at the interrogation, Paul grits his teeth,
and says, “Yeah, a fucking accident! You act as
though you don’t understand the English language.”

“What I don’t understand is…you!”

“Neither do I, sometimes…! So there… Satisfied?”
Paul shot back.

“Enough already! Let’s call a truce, okay?”
Luther said in a strained whisper, looking about
the room at all those curious eyes.

“An accident? Okay, I’ll buy it this time.
Straighten up, or else. You got that, partner?
I like you, but I’ve got a business and reputation
to protect.”

“Understood. Bring us a couple more beers.
Make that a pitcher of beer and a couple of glasses,”
Paul said, looking Larry straight in the eyes.

Without saying another word, Larry nodded his head.

“Thanks for sticking up for me.”

Luther folded his arms, resting them on the table,
and asks, “Well, what’s the matter?”

“Do you see those goddamn eyes pointing in
this direction?”

“Yeah. So what?”

With his eyes staring down at his new glass of
beer, he says, “The walls have ears?”

“Ah, the eavesdropping shit really is eating at
you, isn’t it?”

“No shit, Sherlock! Christ, you can’t do anything
without looking over your friggin’ shoulder. I fought
in Vietnam for freedom! I wouldn’t call having your
email, snail mail, personal records, library records,
and God only knows what else, read: freedom! Do
you call this Orwellian bull freedom? If that’s some
kind of an American joke, the joke is on us!”

Holding his breath, Luther stared at the cracked
ceiling, and says, “I understand…”

“Do you…? I don’t think so— You’ve never been
forced to do your country’s dirty work. Have you…?”

“What does not being in the military got to do
with anything?”

After a moments pregnant pause, Paul shouts
in a hushed whisper, “Everything!”


“Meaning, until you’ve put your friggin’ life
on the line for your country, you don’t know
what the hell freedom is all about.”

Shrugging his shoulders with frustration, Luther
says, “Lay it on me…”

Lifting his brow and eyes simultaneously in
Luther’s direction, he says, “Ever been told what
to do morning until night?”

“Like a prisoner?”

“Yeah… Like a prisoner.”


“Have you ever wanted to tell someone to go
fuck themselves?”

“Sure. Almost daily.”

“Well, when you’ve been forced into Uncle Sam’s
army you have to keep those feelings bottled up,
or suffer the consequences.”

“Jail time, eh,” Luther said, as he glanced at the
local Western band which was setting up for their first
gig. The lights were dimmed for effect which made their
conversation seem even more sinister.

Slumped on the booth’s shabby cushion, Paul replied,
“Something like that.”

“So when your released from active duty, you feel
you’ve done your time, so to speak.”

“More than that… Especially when you’ve put your
life on the line; and then you find out that your employer
“Uncle Sam” thinks you're expendable.”


“Yeah. Your SSI’s (special security instructions)
state without mixing damn words that you’re expendable;
it lets you know that your country doesn’t give a shit
whether you live or die. Pure and simple… You mean
nothing to your government. Yet you’re taught to love
your country from the moment your ass is slapped
at birth. So, if you think I’m bitter. You’re fucking
right I am!”

“And it doesn’t wash that your fellow Americans
are giving away the Constitution, right?”

“Damn right, it doesn’t wash! What’s worse,
the arrogant bastards act like they’re so damn brave;
yet if they’re asked to fight for their country, or
at least stand up and be counted in preserving our
freedom: they won’t. I say, bring back the draft.
That’ll make this stupid war come to an end willy-nilly,
if you ask me.”

“Doing your duty while others got married,
got deferments, ran off to Canada, etc. and being
called a baby killer at the time has put you at your
wits end, huh?” Luther said, shifting nervously in his
seat. He was nervous because he fit that mold Paul
was forming.

“And not only that… These anti-war bastards
of our generation won’t even lift a goddamn finger
to protect our rights that this sorry-ass president and
thugs have stolen from us overnight! With or without
the Patriot Act, the powers that be can’t even keep
twelve million illegal aliens from entering the country.
If that’s true, you tell me how they’re going to stop a
handful of terrorist from entering the country?
Answer me that…? And the former “Make Love
Not War” gang have done nothing but squander
the national treasury, trashed the Constitution, and
every other right I thought I ever had. And then
they lie about it! And for what? A fictional 9/11 and
WMD’s? A war for oil is more like it. Where are the
idealists of our generation when you need them?”

Shaking his head in agreement, Luther says,
“Sold themselves to the highest bidder, I’m afraid.
They’re probable drinking mint juleps and basking
in the sun somewhere, oblivious to the Fall of the
American Empire.”

“You’ve got that right! My generation has sold
themselves out…and the country. And their children
are no damn better. Without having to go into the
military, they could give a shit less about America.
I don’t blame them for not wanting to go to Iraq,
but their complacence is only extending the miserable
war on terrorism, and emboldening our misguided
leaders. And all of our freedoms are at risk as long
as the lunatics at the helm are still in control. At
least Americans could learn to vote with some
sort of intelligence!”

With a sly smirk, Luther leans forward in the
shadowy booth, and says, “And it would help if the
voting machines would count their votes.”

“Or at least give their votes to the candidates
they voted for. Christ, exit polls have always been
reliable. But not anymore…”

“That’s true… They validate paper ballots, but
not electronic ballots. Am I missing something?”

Laughing under his breath, Luther quips,
“I’m afraid not…”

The sheer intensity of Paul’s rage made his
face beet red, as he says, “And what really makes
me go off the deep end is when I hear lies spewing
from the lips of those who govern us. We’re treated
like criminals if we J-walk. But not our masters,
or illegal aliens! If our president starts a war for a
no good reason that kills untold numbers of people
on both sides, he gets a slap on the hand—if that.”

“And the illegal aliens get citizenship! Jesus,
and what do we get?”

“Tickets and a criminal record for parking
violations, J-walking, vagrancy, speeding, demonstrating
without a permit, or some other crap! Where’s the justice,
man? Pure unadulterated bullshit… Hypocrisy!
Our government can lie, cheat, entrap, coerce, kidnap,
intimidate, murder, incarcerate innocent people, start
illegal wars, torture, eavesdrop on Americans illegally,
invade our privacy at will, amongst other wrongdoing—and
fucking get away with it. But you and I can’t spit on the
sidewalk without feeling guilty! And our so-called leaders
want to export this shit in the name of democracy?!
Give me a flipping break… Did I fight for freedon?!
Hell no…! Did I fight for fascism? Hell, yes…! Or so
it seems… It sounds like World War II was a waste,
if that’s the case.”

After taking the last gulp of his draft beer,
Luther sets the glass down on the table, and says,
“Do you feel better now that you’ve gotten
everything off your chest?”

With a gleam in his eye, Paul says, “Fucking-A right…!”

They laughed at the truth of those words. They
paid the tab, put their coats on, and otherwise
prepared to go outside to engage the cruel weather.
Better cruel weather than cruel leaders, they
thought collectively. After opening the tavern’s
front door, they were greeted by a gust of wind
that instantly burned their faces. As the sound
of the tavern’s door abated from behind, howling
gusts of snow blew them into the parking lot
where their cab was waiting.

It turns out that Luther had unwittingly
become the psychotherapist, and Paul the
patient. What are friends for anyway? Luther
thought as the taxi left the parking lot.

“What did you say, Luther?”

Startled, and wondering if he’d
inadvertently talked out loud to himself,
he says with a blush, “Oh, nothing. Nothing at all…”