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On the Road—The Odyssey Begins

Sunrise---Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

Thursday, November 21, 2024

6:00 a.m.

After a sleepless night, I stood in the darkness, double locking my front door.

I stretched, rubbed the rheum out of my eyes and nodded my head in disbelief:

Am I really doing this?

When will I be back?

Will I ever see my home again?

Will I ever see my family again?

Kissing my forefingers, I touched my cold mezuzah.

The one with the Marc Chagall lithograph on it;

The one with the Ten Commandments painted on it;

The one where a bearded Moses holds the white tablets to some clucking birds and a flock of people stand below him.

The one I bought—over 40 years ago in Jerusalem—in a shop, on an shaded alley near the Western Wall.

The one Chagall called, “I am the Lord thy G-d”.

So I lowered my head and prayed to the Lord my G-d, “Please Heavenly Father protect my family, the United States of America and allow me a speedy and safe journey up North.

“Would I ever kiss or see my mezuzah again?” I asked as I tip-toed toward my Honda SUV.

For I didn’t want to wake my neighbors.

I also scanned my cul-de-sac to see if any of them were attempting to escape the South.

I saw none.

Holding my iPhone on flashlight mode, I unlocked the truck’s door, bent my body to squeeze into it, and then collapsed in my seat.

The popping locks broke the dawn’s silence but I didn’t hear my neighbor’s dogs let out a bark.

I glanced into my truck’s rearview mirror and saw my home.

Tears rolled down my cheeks and using the back of my hand, I wiped them away.

For I had just calculated that I had lived in my house for over 40 years.

Now I scanned my Honda’s interior.

It was packed to the hilt.

“You did an admirable job of getting all of these supplies into the truck,” I thought.

I pushed the ignition button, heard the engine hum and shifted into gear.

The dashboard lit up.

The gas tank gauge registered on FULL.

I smiled.

That four-letter word gave me a sense of relief—a sense of assurance, that I’d make it up North.

G-d willing, I’d be brought out of the South, out of the land of slavery.

Well, at least I wouldn’t have to fill up for the next 250 miles and as an additional precaution,  I had a funnel and four 5-gallon containers filled with gasoline in the back.

I was also comforted by the fact that I had packed enough food and drink to last for one week:

A box of Hostess Twinkies;

A box of Drake’s Devil Dogs;

A Joyva Halva 12 variety pack in vanilla, chocolate and marble;

Two six packs of Hormel canned sausages;

Four loaves of Wonder Bread;

Two cases of Dasani Purified Water;

A pack of 24 Red Bull Energy Drinks;

Ten mini bottles of Johnny Walker Red;

A thermos of hot coffee.

“One week of supplies for a trip that in the pre-Civil War era would have normally taken 15 hours,” I thought.

But being an old Boy Scout, I was “Prepared.”

Well, at least prepared for all the contingencies I could imagine.

I even had, within arm’s reach, a Bowie knife, a loaded  410 shotgun, a .22 caliber rifle and my trusty five-shot Smith and Wesson pistol.

My babies rested in the passenger seat under my sleeping bag with their safeties off.

For I was going solo.

My family feared the trip.

They thought it was too dangerous.

“Our chances are better to survive this political storm if we hunker down in South Florida,” they said.

I disagreed but I knew that my trip up North might be hampered by additional passengers. Sometimes less is better—less people, less cumbersome, less headaches and less risky.

I tapped on 96.9 FM and listened to Lois Gilbert play, It’s a Wonderful World on her harmonica.

I thought, “How ironic, it ain’t no wonderful world, it’s a one-hell-of-a shitty one.”

Then the music aburptly stopped.

“We interrupt this broadcast with the following breaking news:

The White House has just announced that in the last 24 hours, the federal authorities have rounded up, arrested and detained over 40,000 insurrectionists.

The Justice Department said that these roundups should continue for the next few weeks.

I couldn’t believe my ears.

“There is a G-d,” I thought.

“And justice is so sweet.”

“And these bastards would learn the meaning of “your actions have consequences.”

The telecaster continued: Since President Biden declared martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus many insurrectionists have gone into hiding.

The FBI is conducting exhaustive searches for MAGA followers and their cohorts.

Eye witnesses in Plattsburgh, New York observed Proud Boys and other traitors crying and yelling towards the families as they stood behind the detention facility’s electrified fence.

I thought, “When you try to kill democracy, sometimes democracy fights back. Thank G-d these racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic, anti-abortion, homophobic, chauvinistic, misogynistic, bastards were getting what they deserved. It’s about damn time they pay the price for their hatred and insolence.”

These surprise raids were conducted by the FBI, federal marshals and the US military on the West Coast and along the nation’s Northeast corridor. The Feds confiscated thousands of bombs, long rifles and AR-15s. Millions of rounds of ammunition were also hauled in.

The aforementioned “detention camps” were built in the 1960s.

These high-security camps are perfect facilities to house these members of the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the Klan, MAGA and QAnon.

Just in More Breaking News—The wife of a Supreme Court Justice was removed from her home during the middle of the night. Her whereabouts are unknown . Her husband has demanded her release.

The Director of the FBI said, “Our agencies have infiltrated all of these radical un-American groups. Those who were arrested are a clear and present danger to our nation.

The Director also added, “All MAGA supporters should voluntarily bring all of the weapons to local police departments for surrender.

These haters of democracy shall be severely punished for their acts of rebellion.

President Biden added, “As long as these prisoners obey the rules of their detention facilities, they shall be treated fairly. If they disobey their guards, they shall be punished. The President also noted many of the insurrectionists are hospitalized in detention center hospitals for having tried to escape the facility.

The White House added, “Just because you bought and still own a MAGA baseball cap or own a MAGA or Confederate flag, doesn’t mean that you are going to be incarcerated at this time.

I pictured thousands of MAGA hats and Confederate flags being doused in lighter fluid and set ablaze by the losers that once wore or displayed them.

I smelled the acrid odor of hate.

The broadcaster then closed with, “Stay tuned to this station for more breaking Civil War news.”

My hands trembled as I tapped off the radio.

I asked, “Based on that news, how much harder is my escape going to be? ”

6:15 a.m.

As the sun broke over the horizon, gastric acid burned a hole in my stomach’s lining.

“Did I take Rolaids in my medical kit?” I wondered.

My eyes focused on Griffin Road as I headed east toward the Interstate.

I glanced at the odometer, nodded my head and hummed “It’s A Wonderful World,” knowing I had completed the first five miles on my 1,000-mile journey.

About the Author
Florida's Jewish short-story writer, speaker, film producer and retired attorney. He has authored, "A Hebraic Obsession", "The Hanukkah Bunny" and "The Greatest Gift." He produced an award-winning short film entitled, "The Stairs". Movie can be viewed on my TOI blog. ChatGPT says, Mort is known for his works that often explore themes of love, loss, and the human connection. Laitner has published several books , including “A Hebraic Obsession.” His writing style is characterized by its emotional depth and introspection. Laitner’s works have garnered praise for their heartfelt expression and keen insight into the human experience.
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