By the way, readers who've been enjoying these Tales will probably enjoy my novel, A Man with Three Great German Shepherds . . . 1000 troy ounces of gold. Here.
It's a great story about a Navy vet's love of his great dogs and his battle with the IRS for his hard won savings and freedom. It's full of fun, pathos, adventure, and love of liberty. No one has disliked this book except a few PETA type cranks.
A Little Brief Authority
"It's breaking the law. It can't be done," Jim Beeks, Bill's friend, told him.
"That's because you still think Washington is powerful everywhere, all the time. It isn't. It's getting weaker by the week. Pun intended."
"They can still crush you like a fly if they want."
"That's the point. They have to want to, and they don't."
"How do you know?"
"In the Hinterlands, all the agencies are vastly understaffed and underpaid. Their budgets are bare bones. They can hardly pay for the toilet paper in the bathrooms, never mind pens, paper, vehicles, or new computers. D.C. has been robbing Peter to pay Paul for decades now. It's not that they won't see it, but they won't stop it. That would take sending people from D.C.: FBI, US Marshals, EPA cops who do not want to travel to the wilds of Wyoming like Pinedale, arrest some wildcatter and have to keep coming back over a few years for the trial, while in the meantime, we destroy every office and vehicle they own."
"What, like they'll throw up their hands and say, this is too costly, too much bother? That's crazy, Bill. I mean it. It's like Ruby Ridge and Waco, Texas nuts if you have any idea of what the Feds did in those places. Those smug, arrogant pieces of garbage hate having their noses tweaked. They hate it!"
"Except the department heads and managers aren't those guys anymore. They're bean counters, buck passers, incompetent time-serving hacks. A couple of years ago, two brothers went up into the Bridger National Forest and build themselves a cabin and started cutting timber and hauling it to a mill. They had no right to do it. They squatted and took public trees. The forest service noticed after awhile and sent a ranger up to tell them to get out of there. But they came out with rifles while he was driving up the road and put a few rounds in a rear truck panel.
"Right away, he turns tail and heads back home. Now, you'd think the county sheriff would be next in line to deal with the problem, but he tells the Feds it's their land, their problem.
"So what does the ranger do? Nothing. For a year, nothing. He's going to wait and when they come from down the mountain, he'll burn them out. But one of them is always at the cabin. So they cut timber, sell it, and get by. All illegally.
"Now, the ranger is pissed because it's really his land, right. Not yours or mine, but his. It's his fiefdom and these two working class guys are thumbing their noses at him. So why doesn't he call in the FBI, the US Marshals, the Swat team, the Navy Seals, whoever, to rid him of these troublesome clods?
"Well, for one thing, to call for help would be to admit to his superiors that he can't handle minor problems, goodbye ladder climbing; and two, he does call the cavalry. That is, he puts out feelers, discusses the problem with federal law enforcement people, and the word he gets from them is that they have bigger fish to fry. Tough luck, and by the way, no one wants to come out to ass end Wyoming and play Wyatt Earp.
"So, Jimmy, my pal, my bud, that's how we're gonna play it. And if they get too serious, we'll hurt them. We'll be the Earps and they'll be the Clantons. No one gets physically hurt, but we'll destroy everything they depend on to do their job. Do you believe me?" Bill finished.
"Bold talk, but how do you intend to "implement" your policy?"
"How about a couple of former Navy Seals working on a promise of becoming millionaires?"
"I'll invest, but I have no intention of hanging around."
"That's okay, we'll still be friends."
Bill welcomed Dave and Pat into his lodging at the Log Cabin Motel in Pinedale. Both men were in their late forties, retired Navy Seals, and bore themselves with unmistakable military bearing. Dave Morelli was the shortest of the three of them by a few inches, clean shaven with graying short hair, while Pat Kinneson sported a full mustache and beard, neck length brown hair that was starting to thin and recede. Neither was particularly handsome, but certainly rugged and virile, which is attractive to many by itself.
The cabin had a kitchen, a sitting room and a separate bedroom. It was spacious, rustic, yet cozy.
Offered beer, Dave and Pat nodded, took seats in comfortable chairs while Bill handed over the cans and sat on a couch facing them. They cracked the tabs, took a pull, and began the meeting.
"Okay, we've got the Ranger Station and BLM office computers hacked. All their emails will go through us," Dave told him.
"How's that?""You want to know how we did it?" Dave returned.
"Yeah, I do."
He grimaced a little. He hated being micro-managed, and why give up trade secrets so he gave Bill a cock and bull story.
"It's pretty simple. We email the office secretaries great coupon offers for local restaurants. They know a bargain and want to save money, so they download the attachment to print them out. That sets the malware in the system."
"How clever," Bill smiled. Pat gave Dave a quick look and nodded.
"Right," Dave agreed. "Then we set wiretaps on their landlines. Every conversation that goes in or out is processed through our computer set to identify keywords so anything related to our operation gets tagged and reviewed, so we know what they're up to before they act."
"What about cell phones?"
The two men looked down and shook their heads. It was too expensive to capture all the data even in a relatively uncrowded area like Pinedale.
"We have all their vehicles Lojacked with GPS we can track anywhere, though," Pat was quick to add. "If they head out to the Operation, we'll know long before they get there."
"And there's this," Dave jumped in with. "BLM has only two official vehicles. Both are old. Obviously the fleet hasn't been upgraded in a long time. They sit in the lot every night. I'm going to drain the oil from one of them, disable the dashboard warning light, and let them destroy the engine. We'll see if they have anything in the budget to pay for a new one."
"What about Laramie? The EPA regional office?" Bill asked.
"Same deal with their computers. All their base are belong to us," Pat chuckled.
"Are belong to us?"
"Old joke," Dave grinned.
"We've got their email, too," Pat said."What next, then?" Bill asked.
"Well, it's up to you," Dave told him. "What's your schedule for operations?"
"Build the storage tanks first, but while that's being done, we bring in the equipment, the rig, the pipes, the nano-juice for extraction, then there are the trailers for the riggers. The foreman can stay in town. He'll keep his mouth shut."
"You can't keep the men cooped up out there. They're going to want to come to town for dinner, drinks, hook ups. And they won't be quiet about where they work and what for."
"I know, but I can keep them out there for a month, and we can get most of the set up done in that time. After that, I'll have a talk, one on one, with each one of them and emphasize the need for silence and offer a big bonus for the entire crew if the word doesn't get out. I'll give them an alternate story to tell, some BS that could be true, so they can lie with conviction. I'm not worried about them so much. It's the traffic. Once we start extracting oil and filling tanker trucks, the steady flow will attract attention. People can't help but notice."
"How about having them come and go at night. The Feds never work past five if they can help it," Pat offered.
"Yes, we'll try that, but, well, it's only a matter of time. Truckers will stop for coffee, say what they're up to as they try and chat up a waitress, and pretty soon, people are wondering about what they've been hearing."
"Of course," Dave agreed. "That's why we're set up for whatever comes next."
"Wait and see, Boss. Wait and see," Dave replied smiling.
"I need some idea," Bill returned with a serious stare.
"Look," Pat jumped in. "We know what we're doing. No one gets hurt, but we know how to discourage people who have no desire to be heroic."
Bill nodded, and let it go at that. This is the pucker factor, he realized. The moment things get very serious because so much is on the line. Not for Dave and Pat. He was sure they could stay out of trouble, keep from being caught, and he wouldn't betray them, but there wasn't any way he could avoid capture if it came to that. Clearly he, his company, Zion Oil, was paying for everything. This was his Rubicon.
"Well, as my dear old daddy used to say, 'in for a penny, in for a pound'," Bill grinned.
"I bet he never said that," Dave smiled.
"Maybe not, but he knew what it meant."
Dave and Pat nodded.
BLM Pinedale District Manager, Fred Armlinger, a middle aged, pot bellied fellow had called his boss, the regional supervisor in Laramie, Don Goodpasture, an older, wispy haired, pot bellied fellow.
Fred: "Look here, one of the engines of my two trucks seized up, needs replacing, and I haven't got any money in the budget for the thousand it needs. You've got to help me out here."
Don: "Sorry to hear that, Fred but you're just going to have to find a way to cut back on something else. What makes you think we've got any surplus cash to throw your way? I get the same reports all over the region. 'Help, our computers are broken, our building needs a paint job, the roof is leaking.' What can I tell you? There's no money. You'll just have to manage."
Fred: "Well, I'm not going to use my own vehicle. There's no money for mileage, maintenance, per diem, or insurance either."
Don: "I know (sigh). Tell me about it. I've got a skeleton crew here, as it is."
Fred: "Okay, then. I might as well let you go."
Don: "Sorry I can't help you. That's just how it is these days."
Fred: "I know. I know. Talk to you some other time, then."
Don: "All right, then. So long."
Dave and Pat debated whether it was time to destroy the second Pinedale BLM vehicle. Perhaps, some sand in the transmission fluid? They decided to let it ride (so to speak) to avoid greater alarm.
By that time, it had been a month and the tanks, derrick, and supplies were in place and drilling had commenced.
Two months later, they intercepted an email from Pinedale to Laramie.
There are rumors of some sort of oil or gas drilling operation occurring in the shale deposits near Pinedale on private land. Do you know of any permits issued by your office or the State Bureau for such an event?
Pat and Dave responded:
There's an exploratory operation permitted on private land by the State Bureau of Mining and Mineral Engineering. Nothing to concern yourself with, but thanks for the heads up.
Bill got six months of worry free extraction out of that and had opened up two other rigs. His problem now was over-supply. He needed a pipeline to deliver the oil either to a railhead or to a major transcontinental pipeline carrying oil to a major refinery. The latter alternative was cheaper but cut across Federal land. Getting easements for it prior to crossing public land wasn't a cinch either, but since those private lands were also shale rich, it should be easier persuading the ranchers considering the royalties they'd get from the oil and the rent they'd get from the pipeline.
The easements were acquired sub rosa, and the pipeline was quickly built. That seriously cut the tanker truck traffic, but ranchers bragging about their newfound sources of revenue spread the word of an oil strike. Eventually other companies wanted in on the action.
Fred had no doubt that laws were being broken now, and called Don in Laramie. Don denied receiving a previous email and denied telling him an exploratory operation had been permitted by the State.
When he tried to drive out to the rogue operation, though, his truck quit on him.
He called Don and demanded back up, that he send out a vehicle to help him. Don agreed, but when the morning came, all of his vehicles were no longer operational. It appeared that some sort of material had burned great holes in the aluminum engine blocks.
Don suggested that Fred get help from the Forest Service in Pinedale. The Ranger was more than happy to oblige a friend, but that was until all his vehicles suffered a similar fate as those in Laramie.
Don informed his superiors in Washington, but the response was slow. Perhaps it was because their computer system was suffering from a complex worm that made getting the system back in order their highest priority. Viral programs invented by the NSA and Mossad to cripple computer systems had evolved and come back to haunt the poorly run, and rather obsolescent systems the government depended on in its less important agencies.
Fred had become angry enough to commit to using his own sedan to drive out to Bill's area that was rapidly expanding in number of rigs, a few crossing onto BLM land.
Don's office was being flooded with requests for drilling permits (since those companies believed everything Bill was doing was legal). They were denied.
The engine of Fred's car was also clandestinely destroyed.
Fred, Don, the District Ranger were incensed and decided to rent a helicopter to fly over the range. The nearest was in Jackson, near the Grand Tetons, but damned if that one didn't come up damaged and unable to fly, too.
Small planes were considered, and when one owner agreed to rent his Piper Cub out, it was disabled within a locked hangar. Word got around that any equipment rented, leased, or charted for use by the government would likely become a useless pile of junk. Prudent owners informed potential government customers that their property was no longer available.
Various law enforcement agencies had been apprised for quite some time -- local police, county sheriffs, state police, and FBI. The FBI remained disinterested, but the local police lost one of their vehicles and decided whatever problem there was, it was outside their jurisdiction. The County Sheriff's Office became militant and pugnacious about the growing abuse of authority. They decided to drive out with Fred in two vehicles and were en route when a couple of armor piercing .50 caliber rounds pierced their engine blocks.
The County maintained a helicopter and small plane but declined to offer them for use.
Nevertheless, a reporter from the State capitol of Cheyenne made it his business to hire a pilot and fly a small plane over the territory Bill was working. Taking a great many pictures, he was also able to contact the owner of the ranch and spoke to him, but he wasn't able to notice the pipeline that was mostly underground and otherwise camouflaged.
Bill had been in operation for nearly a year and a half, and true to his word, Dave and Pat were millionaires.
With publication of the secret and illegal shale oil operation, a rather large number of federal and state vehicles destroyed, the intimidation of the police and sheriffs, the visual proof of Bill's pirate-like wildcatting, and many people outraged in Cheyenne and elsewhere in the State, nothing seemed to be getting done about the situation.
"You'd be surprised how little money it takes to bribe state senators and congressmen even when they're term limited," Bill explained to Dave and Pat in his trailer on the ranch; having moved out of town to keep from being held and questioned.
"And so despite a little public and political protest, we've got advocates locally, state-wide and nationally. In the meanwhile, other companies can't come in, and we keep expanding. Nobody loves an oil company, but everybody loves an underdog. We've bought as many local newspapers as we can (subscriber websites, really), bought a lot of advertising on talk radio and FM stations, and even TV spots on what a boost to the economy we've been. The net effect has been to stymie an effective response or shut down."
"Now, as for the Feds, they can't be bothered, it seems. This kind of stuff used to bring them down on people full force, you know. I mean, spread some sand on a puddle, and there was the EPA assessing million dollar fines for disturbing a wetland. The country's farther gone than I realized. If we haven't tweaked their noses full sore into calling out the army by now, it can only be for one reason -- they can't spare the resources from other programs and agencies. Every spare dime is poured into entitlements, welfare, food stamps, Head Start, you name it, to keep the Detroits and Atlantas from burning and spreading out from there. Then there's the part where we've been paying taxes on production and they need that revenue."
"I have a question for you," Bill said meaning both Pat and Dave. "Is it me, or was your, our, operation easy to pull off than it should have been; or at least easier than I expected."
The two former SEALs looked at each other and Dave nodded at Pat to explain to Bill.
"There's a number of factors involved," Pat started. "One. We're warriors. We play by a Bushido Code. Everyday I get up, maybe after my second cup of coffee I decide that if I die today, that's all right. If it comes to that, I'll die today. How many middle managers of a BLM office or even deputy sheriffs get out of bed everyday and say to themselves, 'This is a good day to die. Bring it on.' No, they wake up go about their routine, and when a real threat comes up all of a sudden, they think of their family, their life, their future retirement and the fact that they don't want to die. Not now, not ever. You follow?"
Bill agreed. That's how he lived -- by routine and assuming he'd be around awhile no matter what.
"Now, factor in a man driving down the road and he gets a bullet in his engine that tears a great big hole in it, or a bullet in a panel or through the windshield where he's not sitting. Later on, he knows it was simply a warning, something meant to intimidate him and keep him from doing his job. So, does he act like John Wayne or Gary Cooper in High Noon insisting he can't be intimidated? Like hell he does. In his head he might be absolutely certain that the next shot won't be to kill him, but to miss again to try and scare him off, but his body can't grasp it. His body is screaming that he can't be sure the guy out there isn't committed no matter if they catch him or kill him."
"So what does he do? He calls in the cavalry. Let's get a hundred of me and show we can overwhelm the bastard taking pot shots. Let's get SWAT teams, lots of officers, snipers, and so on. And that works every time until Waco when the people you're assaulting have plenty of their own firepower and you're pulling dead and wounded out of the kill zone. Well, screw that, so you burn them out: man, woman, and child. You simply execute them for having the nerve to defend themselves. Drop a bomb if you have to."
"But here, they can't get a hundred guys in armor, helicopters, tanks, APCs, field command modules. They can't afford it anymore, and oh, by the way, they've come to realize they aren't dealing with cranks holed up in a cabin on Ruby Ridge or something. Their resources are being drained with .50 cal armor piercing rounds, their engines have been burned through by molten metal charges that go through aluminum like corn through a goose, and they have no idea if we might have IEDs or Stinger missiles for any helo, plane or drone they send up. Not to mention all their buildings and offices going up in smoke. A SWAT sniper with an AR-15 platform will run far and fast away from a man with a Barrett .50 cal. So, you see, all your local LEO's are scared and when they call DC for the cavalry, the request gets passed from one guy to the next, back and around, meetings are scheduled, and a lot of people have to sign off, which means when it all goes South, they look bad. They don't get shit canned. Heaven forbid! But they're, what's the word?" he said looking at Dave.
"Yeah, they're embarrassed. For some reason, you wouldn't think that would be such a big deal; and it's not as if these are macho guys. They're strictly civilian rear echelon MFs, but any hint that they have something to be afraid of, and they will never sign off on anything. And more to the point, no one's dead, no one's waving the bloody shirt screaming for justice, no Governor demanding the White House do something. So there you have it. They're afraid to die today or tomorrow. They know they're up against pros, and they have no idea how many and how well armed. And three, the pros they have will not go into any situation that even hints of a fair fight; of them taking casualties. You remember that high school massacre at Columbine? Those bastards sat outside of the library and listened while those punks murdered all those kids because they didn't have the courage or initiative to storm the room, to risk their lives. The two punks were ready to die that day, but not the SWATs."
Bill took it in, thought about it, and asked, "Well, what would you have done against you this last year and a half?"
"You take this one, Dave," he said grinning.
"After the very first ambush where they, I mean, we, the good guys, fired into the block of a car coming out to inspect the operation, assuming I can't get access to a tank or APC, I would have set up our own recon foray. I'd have sent another car out, but high overhead I'd have a drone with infra-red vision to pick up the sniper or snipers, then track their movements, see where they went, get a fix on their base of operations, collecting as much Intel as I could, and then set up another foray with a vehicle, and see if the sniper returned to his former position. Then I'd do it again, except that I'd have snipers already set up to bag us when we got into position again. We have countermeasures for that, too, but it's a place to start. But from reading their email, listening in on their phone calls, they never had any kind of plan."
"Right," Pat said. "Their plan was to call in the Feds, and that was pretty much it."
"Right," Dave continued, "But if only they'd learned there were two against them, there's a hell of a lot they could have done to neutralize us, drive or helo in, take over the property, and arrest you . . . but we had plans for that contingency, too."
"Really? Like what?"
"Oh, you wouldn't have liked them, Boss, but we think they'd have worked."
Bill almost laughed in relief that they hadn't gone there.
Bill raised his can of beer and said, "Here's to you, to Bushido."
"To Bushido," they toasted.
"And here's to you, Bill. You put it all on the line, too," Pat told him.
With Dave interjecting, "In a civilian way, of course, but balls out just the same."
Soon enough, Zion Oil expanded into the oil shale regions of Utah, Colorado, and further into the Red Desert of Wyoming. By means of bribes, the acceptance of corruption by now widespread throughout all levels of government, Zion Oil captured the lion's share of leases.
The private take over of the public shale oil lands became a fait accompli. Not even the President of the USA, once he learned how enormous the range of the scofflaws had become, was able to stop it. He needed money, too. Enough to scorn the Green lobbies which had kept a tight lid on resource extraction for decades. The money wasn't just for campaigns and his Party, but for the treasury and corporate funded private charities delivering supplemental aid to welfare, social security, and Medicare recipients.
In the less prosperous and Godless society that the humanists and socialists had brought to pass, avarice was loosed from moral restraint. Everyone outside of the ruling elite (their pillaging never ceased) needed more money than they had or earned for what had once been simple amenities or services. Small things, like enough money to buy a washing machine, take a weekend vacation, send the kids to camp, buy new clothes, pay for a new baby, things once within the range of an average income stressed budgets to the breaking point. Any extra income, no matter how it came, was welcome.
In a matter of ten years, Zion Oil had conquered the West, and the efficiency of their extraction techniques let them expand throughout the world. As the major shareholder, Bill became a billionaire many times over.