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Old 11-19-2012, 08:15 PM
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Y'all are already special - you got about 4 more chapters than I've gave away anywhere else.
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Old 11-20-2012, 04:19 AM
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Humm so you started the story with no intention of finishing it? That bites. Guess I never see the ending.
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:19 PM
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Humm so you started the story with no intention of finishing it? That bites. Guess I never see the ending.

Go to the kindle books loan thread - I'm offering to loan out this entire book.

The only other thing I can do is sneak into your bedroom at night and read it to you. ; )
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Old 11-20-2012, 02:41 PM
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Aye, go on then.....
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Old 11-20-2012, 04:35 PM
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Just like with Darklight's "Into the Dark," our author here has a clause with the company he E-publishes with, if the story is available for free on a PUBLIC forum, the story will not be eligible to be sold by whomever he publishes with.

Is what it is.
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:52 PM
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Sweeper is right.

But seriously, first come first serve. DM me your emails and I'll loan out my copy. It loans out for 2 weeks at a time, but I'll pass it around.

Kindle has a free app you can download so you can read it on your phone, ipad, pc, whatever.
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:07 PM
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Thanks for all that you posted...wish there was more, but we'll take what you gave us. Thanks for sharing your talent with us.
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Old 11-21-2012, 04:48 PM
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A sad dose of where our nation may head; well written.
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Old 11-21-2012, 08:03 PM
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Default Chapter 13

Here - I've got a soft heart. This is really the last one I can post.


Thirteen



Barrett listened as the sound of the Black Hawk faded into the east, and then turned back towards the group; in a way, he thought, this was a joint mission of sorts. The twelve member squad was evenly selected from the guardsmen and the SEALs; six of each. The SEALs had the combat experience that was so desperately needed, and the state guards knew the area better than any. At this point, however, the six operators were probably considered former SEALs by their employer.

Officially Barrett was the squad leader, but he had deferred many of the leadership roles to Holt, the code name adopted by the young SEAL Lieutenant. Barrett had previously served in the Navy’s special operations force, but never as a squad leader; to him, the most experienced person should lead, there was no room for ego in the field.

They had been dropped on a small wooded island just north of the intersection of Highway 77 and University Boulevard, in Brownsville. Their mission was to go southwest through the University of Texas at Brownsville campus and the Fort Brown Memorial Golf Course, across the Rio Grande and into Matamoros, Mexico. Once in Mexico they would recon de Parque Olimpico, Olympic Park.

The nearly obsolete Texan predator drones had recently began to monitor unusual activity at the park; semi-trailer trucks had been observed hauling large, canopied loads into the area. An extensive array of large, truss-framed, canvas-skinned shelters had begun to appear in the park several days ago; the park now more closely resembled the hangar and terminal areas of an airport, rather than an expansive public green space. The trucks’ cargo would remain covered until they pulled under one of the white canvas hangars. Once unloaded, the trucks would leave empty. Whatever was being delivered was intended to be hidden from prying eyes.

They spread out among the thicket in a wedge formation as they rechecked their gear and listened for any sounds of movement around them. The once bustling city was almost completely silent; an occasional vehicle could be heard speeding down the highway or through the city, most likely a member of the new narco alliance – the Z-G. Even Mexican nationals were rarely seen north of the border; the cartels had become increasingly violent, and it was not always simply focused on the gringos. As violent as it was south of the border, just north of the border was far worse. The northern incursion by the cartels had brought with it a scorched earth policy as they plundered the spoils of the American southwest.

After several minutes of uneventful silence, they began to slowly move west to the short causeway that led off the island. They stayed off of the narrow asphalt pavement, preferring the concealment that the shadows afforded. Their night vision equipment allowed them to move easily through the thick darkness that enveloped the city - a symptom of a failed, or rather abandoned, power grid.

As they left the wooded sanctuary of the island, the backdrop immediately changed to the deserted, low-class suburbs of south Brownsville. The squad navigated the block and took their second left onto East 24th Street. Barrett was horrified as he looked down the narrow, neighborhood street; Brownsville had obviously received the full burden of the violence. Most of the battered homes’ windows and doors were smashed and broken; several houses had been reduced to smoldering ruins, and an occasional, mangled body lay in a yard or on the sidewalk.

East 24th Street would have been dangerous to traverse had it not been for the numerous vehicles haphazardly abandoned in both lanes; the street had been selected as their route precisely due to the disproportionately large number of discarded vehicles it contained. It would be impossible for the squad to be overtaken by a fast-moving truck full of banditos along this street.

The bodies of his fellow countrymen particularly disturbed Barrett; the men and women that died in this place died for one reason, they could not afford to flee. As he passed the occasional body, he felt a strong sense of guilt; perhaps there was more that they should have done. More evacuations, maybe forced evacuations? He did not know the answer. At some point, he knew people were personally responsible for themselves and their families, but no one could have imagined the horrors of the tempest that had rolled across south Texas. Like a dust bowl sand storm, it had engulfed everything and everyone in its path.

The squad moved with deft precision through the shadows of the vacant ward. Occasional bursts of gunfire and barking dogs interrupted the eerie silence that surrounded them. The sheer number of stray dogs was heartbreaking; they were not wild dogs but collared, starving, house pets that sensed the men’s advances through their territory. Some would growl for a moment before shrinking away; others would simply rush blindly up to the men, seeking the affection they no longer received from the owners that had turned them loose before retreating northward.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The University of Texas at Brownsville was a stark contrast to the bleak neighborhoods to the north. Despite the occasional indication of having been looted, and the obvious months-long lack of maintenance, the campus was vacant but still beautiful. Amphitheaters, fountains and gardens, they all remained. The Resaca, or oxbow lake, reflected the occasional star that shined through the cloudy, night sky. The squad took full advantage of the broad shadows cast by the towering campus buildings as they continued south.

As they crossed the narrow isthmus on Ringgold Road that connected the north and south sections of the campus, they heard the shattering of glass somewhere in the distance ahead. The squad disappeared into the tall grass and shrubs along the the shoulders of the road and readied their rifles, while scanning ahead for the source of the sound. From behind a distant building they saw a bottle fly through the air and shatter on the pavement ahead of them.

An engine rumbled to life, and headlights flashed across the pavement. A large, flatbed truck slowly appeared from around the building and turn north towards the squad. The two amigos up front were scanning the road ahead, but the half-dozen, narco soldados on the back were drinking and howling as they flung empty bottles at passing signs and windows. Their rifles bounced and clattered in the bed of the truck beside them. Unbeknownst to the men, a dozen rifles were fixed upon them from the darkness beyond.

Barrett followed the driver with his M4 carbine, watching him as he drove the aging diesel unwittingly past a momentarily merciful angel of death. He wondered what the men’s purpose was, meandering through the city. Perhaps they were freelance thugs, scavenging the remains of the city; he considered the thought and decided it was highly unlikely, they were most likely part of the narco alliance.

The flatbed sentries passed by without event, and the squad resumed their trek down Ringgold Road; they crossed University Boulevard, past the student REK center and disappeared back down along the wooded shoreline of the oxbow lake, continually moving south. As they approached the smoldering ruins that were in front of them, Barrett was filled with a hot rage. He had heard that the National Guard Facility had been unsuccessful in repelling several attacks, but seeing the horrific results in front of him conjured much stronger feelings.

The square, white building had gaping holes in its sides, and was blackened and charred with soot. Several badly burned Humvees were scattered about the building, and many more were missing. The red, white and blue flag that had flown over the facility had been replaced with a red, white and green standard. The squad noticed the multiple, grisly pikes that were prominently displayed around the flag pole, in front of the building; they were adorned in the same macabre fashion that all of the men had seen before.

The squad stopped momentarily upon seeing the horrific sight; several men made the sign of the cross, while others simply bowed their heads to say a solemn prayer for the brave souls that were lost on these grounds. In the distance, sounds of gunfire rang out somewhere in the city; Barrett cursed himself for letting the driver of the flatbed truck pass through his sights and continue to inflict havoc. The men turned and nodded to each other in an unspoken agreement; they would not be as merciful next time.

The team crossed River Levee Road and into Fort Brown Memorial Golf Course. The course had seen two seasons without any maintenance; the tall grass helped conceal the squad as they dashed through the night to the tree line. They spotted a distant campfire on the far side of the course; apparently someone had sought the relative safety of the confines of the abandoned greens. If so, the open campfire was a perilous luxury they had afforded themselves. The squad maintained a watchful eye in the direction of the dancing flames, as they cut across the course.

In less than a thousand yards, they were on the banks of the Rio Grande. It had been decided that they would divide into three fire teams upon reaching the river. The first fire team would remain on the American side of the river and provide observation, rear guard and long-range, fire support. The other teams would cross the Rio Grande; the second team would remain in a defensive position on the Mexican bank of the Rio Grande, and the final team would perform reconnaissance of the Olympic Park in Matamoros.

The first team found a high ground position that afforded them concealment and line of sight, while the other two teams readied themselves for the crossing. Team Two reached the opposite bank first and got into a forward facing position; by now the remaining team was half way across the river without event.

As they reached foreign soil, they stripped out of their wet battle dress uniforms and retrieved the dry civilian clothing from their packs. The clothing was non-descript and typical for the area: cotton pants and buttoned shirts with ball caps; two of the team members wore tattered sneakers, and the other two wore boots and serape capes loosely draped over their shirts. The two SEALs concealed suppressed MP5s beneath their serapes, while the guardsmen abandoned their M4 carbines for Berretta pistols. The two teams exchanged their goodbyes and slaps on the back, before the final team disappeared over the hill into Matamoros.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Barrett, Holt and the two other members of the fire team climbed the steep wooded bank and crossed the empty street that followed the Rio Grande’s meanderings. They strolled along the sidewalk nonchalantly, like locals familiar with the area and in no sense of urgency to reach any particular destination. They split up in pairs as they passed another pedestrian and remained a short distance apart as they continued onward. After a block or so, they turned right onto Alhelíes.

From their perspective, Matamoros was not unlike many other cities; many of the buildings in this area of the city were well maintained, and the sidewalks and streets were reasonably free of trash. The streets were in rather poor condition, they were cracked and missing chunks of pavement in some areas; other areas were no more than a series of patches, the original pavement having been long since gone.

There was no access to any property beyond the sidewalks; fences, gates and buildings were constructed to the edge of the street’s right of way. Any windows were covered with bars to further protect the viviendas from any matόns that may be looking for an easy target. Most of the streetlights were not working for one reason or another, so Alhelíes Street was rather dark, except for the occasional, dim, porch light or business lamp. Barrett preferred the darkness, because he knew a nosy local would immediately make them for gringos, upon closer inspection.

The one-way street was lined with old, rusted Fords and Pontiacs. An occasional Mercedes could be seen though a wrought-iron gate, in a brick-lined courtyard, behind eight foot wrought-iron fencing, with barb wire strung across the top. As they reached the end of the block, the young guardsman beside Barrett whispered, “There’s four men about sixty yards behind us; I think we’re being followed.”

“Yea, they’re definitely following us; they have been since we climbed up from the banks of the Rio.”

“Well, what now?”

“Just keep walking, we’ll round the corner and see what our options are.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The four gamberros had watched the fire team appear out of the thicket that covered the banks of the Rio Grande from several poorly-lit blocks away. They were intrigued by these men and decided to shadow them for a short while. The men seemed to blend into the area well enough, perhaps too well. To anyone else, the strange men from the river would have likely been a passing blur in the night; to the gamberros, who lived on the streets, something was subtly foreign about these four.

The small-time gamberros survived by blade and barrel; they were thieves, murderers and always for hire. They terrorized the honest people that lived on the several blocks that they laid claim to. To the gamberros, it was simply the nature of things; if they did not do it someone else would, so it may as well be them.

As the gamberros warily shadowed the men from a safe distance, the malevolent leader of the group retrieved the nickel plated pistola from the small of his back; his three compadres gripped their long-bladed puῆales in anticipation of the encounter. They saw the men from the river glance sidelong and notice their presence; the four, strange men quickened their pace as they prepared to round the corner onto Primera.

As soon as the men from the river rounded the corner, the gamberros quickened their pace as well. Their pulses remained subdued, however; to them, this was just one more night, one more mugging. The leader was the first around the corner with the three others in quick step behind him; they noticed two of the men from the river, the two in sneakers, standing a half a block away. The men in the serapes had mysteriously disappeared; no worries though, they thought, two would be easier to subdue than four anyway.

They never considered casting a sidelong glance into the dark alcove as they rushed the two remaining men from the river. As they hurried past the shallow nook at the entrance of the shuttered store, several muffled shots cracked in quick succession. The three compadres slumped and fell without uttering a word; the wounded leader groaned as he turned and leveled his pistol into the darkness of the alcove. Before he could finish the motion, he was ventilated by another muffled volley.

He was caught by one of the men in sneakers before his body ever hit the ground; the other three men from the river were already hastily dragging the remaining bodies into the dark nook. They stacked the gamberros neatly in the shadowy corner and piled several bags of trash that had rested at the storefront around them to further conceal the bodies. The team glanced around for onlookers, but found none; the SEALs straightened their serapes and the team continued down Primera.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

After another fifteen minutes of travel through Matamoros, Barrett and the other men arrived at the crumbling apartment building; it had three stories - the tallest building in the area. From the roof, one would have a clear view of Olympic Park. Barrett peered around the corner, from across the street, at the front of the old brick building and its surroundings; no signs of trouble were apparent. They waited several more minutes to ensure that they were alone on the street, before venturing further.

Barrett checked his watch, they were five minutes late; Holt retrieved a pack of cigarettes from under his serape and offered them to the members of the team. He then struck a match with his thumbnail and lit each of the men’s smokes. As the fourth cigarette was lit, a small lamp faintly flickered on in one of third story windows, then immediately back off. Barrett flicked the newly lit cigarette onto the sidewalk and silently counted to thirty before stepping out from around the corner.

As his left foot reached the stoop of the building, the steel, security door unlocked and then silently opened for them. They rushed inside and without a word, followed the nervous man up several flights of stairs and down a long hall to a small, dirty flat. As they entered the small apartment, the man silently motioned them to a worn, wooden table in the kitchen; he leaned his head out of the doorway and peered up and down the hall before easing the door shut.

The studio apartment had one grimy window that looked eastward. The walls were bare, except for the faded pictures of the man in his youth with a beautiful dark haired amiguita; in all of the pictures they smiled wide and embraced one another with passion. There were other pictures of the man and the woman; they were older now, and there was a young girl with them.

Barrett walked over to the pictures and followed the progression of the young girl into a beautiful woman; she looked just like her mother. Her beauty was stunning to Reese; he could not remember a face that was more angelic than hers. Her hair was long, jet-black and fell just past her shoulders; her skin was light olive and radiant. She was short, but not too short; thin, but not frail. Barrett seemed to get lost for a moment in the pictures; for the first time in days, he smiled.

A battered couch and loveseat adorned the living area; a shower curtain was strung across the room on the far end of the flat, to afford some meager bathroom privacy. The kitchen was small and bare; an ancient stove and a tiny, rusted, dorm-style refrigerator were the only appliances.

The man hurried into the tiny kitchen and opened the creaky, oven door; he retrieved a stack of plain maize tortillas that he had kept warming until their arrival. He placed the tortillas on the table along with a bowl of rice, onions and peppers. The men sat silently as he returned to the kitchen to retrieve a fresh pot of coffee and five cups, before sitting in an empty chair beside them; as he poured the coffee, he looked up at Barrett and spoke in broken English, “It is good to see you, my friend.”

Barrett sighed in relief, as if a blanket of apprehension had been lifted from him, “Likewise; how have you been, Alex?”

“Is okay; is not too good here now. It is - how do you say? Mucho peligroso.”

Barrett translated for the others, “He says it is very dangerous here these days.” The men nodded in agreement, thinking back to the encounter with the gamberros.

“Yes, yes; very dangerous. Please eat, you must be hungry.”

The men eagerly spooned the rice onto the tortillas as they discussed the condition of Matamoros and beyond. Without the remittances from immigrant workers in the United States, many families once considered middle class, were now hopelessly poverty stricken. At one time, Mexican families received nearly thirty billion dollars from their sons and daughters that worked north of the border. In an area where the average monthly income was barely over one hundred dollars, an envelope with several hundred dollars mailed south afforded a family a means to live in moderate comfort. Now, every day was a struggle to stay alive.

As the men finished the last of the warm tortillas and contently sipped the black coffee, Barrett retrieved a pouch of silver mercury dimes from his pocket and tossed it onto the table.

“Here you go, Alex; twenty dollars face value in silver, as agreed.”

Alejandro shook his head from side to side and replied, “No good, my friend; no good.”

“What do you mean? Wasn’t that the agreement?”

“Yes, but the rule change; the plata not enough now.”

“Alex, I’m sorry; this is all I brought.”

“Is okay; I go back with you.”

The men watched the exchange as Barrett rocked back in his chair and closed his eyes as he spoke, “Alex, ῆaῆo, amigo, it is too dangerous to take you with us. You could be killed; I can’t have anyone else’s death on my conciencia.”

“I may die with you, but I know I will die here. I go with you this night; it is settled. Now, if your cuadrilla is ready, we will discuss the plan.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The two rooftop guards were sleepy and irritable; they had been on sentry duty every night for two weeks. There was nothing to watch for, and nothing to guard against; their only duty was to stay on the roof of the apartment building so that no one else could access it. They had both gained several pounds during their time on the roof; there was not much else to do except cook on the tiny grill they had brought with them. They were not supposed to drink during their duties, but they had figured out the routine of their jefe; if he had not checked in by eleven o’clock, he would not check in on them. It was now some time past midnight.

The first man was sprawled out on his uncomfortable cot, staring at the cloudy sky; the second man was crouched over the grill, alternating between sipping the tequila and splashing it on the chicken quarters. The man on the cot stood up, stretched and strolled over to the other; he snatched the bottle of tequila and took a long swig before handing it back. He leaned down and smiled as he began to mutter something to his compadre, when suddenly his jaw dropped and hung loose as his knees buckled; blood from the exit wound sprayed on the second man as he froze in horror at the scene. He was too inebriated to react, so he simply remained crouched over the grill in shock. A moment later, he was laying on his side staring at several blurry figures as they rushed the roof; he wanted to scream, but he couldn’t. He did not sense much pain, just numbness; slowly, his vision began to darken and tunnel, until he decided to close his eyes to rest for just a moment.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Holt reached the sentries first and dropped down to one knee to check the pulse of each; they were both dead. Three of the team members huddled in the center of the roof, while the fourth man stayed at the door to guard their rear. The three men retrieved their equipment from the small packs they had brought with them and crawled to the roof’s edge. While they got into position, Alejandro grabbed the chicken quarters and the bottle of tequila, and stuffed them into a small canvas day pack.

Holt peered through the night vision binoculars at the Olympic Park. He studied the scene for several moments, unable to articulate what he saw. The other men waited anxiously for a report, but none came. Barrett reached into Holt’s pack and retrieved the high definition camera to see the park himself; he cursed under his breath and rolled so his back now rested against the short, brick, parapet wall along the building’s edge. Holt handed the binoculars to the third man and finally said, “Well Barrett, what do you think they’re going to do with all of those?”

“It’s pretty obvious, don’t you think?”

“How long do you think we have?”

“Three days, maybe four at the most. Not nearly long enough to muster an air strike, given Houston’s response time lately.”

“We’ve got to try; South Padre has the ear of Governor Baker now, so maybe we can contact his office directly. This is epic Barrett; this is the lives of every man on the island. This will go further than the island; this could mean thousands of lives in Corpus.”

“I know; we have some tough decisions to make.”
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:57 PM
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That's some might fine writing. Always love a good story about home. Thanks.
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Old 11-21-2012, 10:14 PM
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Woops - sorry I overran your hometown with Narco Soldados
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Old 11-21-2012, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
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Woops - sorry I overran your hometown with Narco Soldados
Sir, there is more truth in that than either of us wants to admit.
Carry on.
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Old 11-21-2012, 10:35 PM
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Indeed. We have failed miserably on the border and immigration. Sadly enough, it's all downhill from here - in the book and unfortunately in the real world too.
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Old 11-21-2012, 11:22 PM
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Sadly, I must agree. Your story may be prophetic. We will all do what we can if (when?) it comes. I just don't look forward to it though.

ETA: For better or worse, Texas will give it's best as it always has.

"God save Texas and my kids, have mercy on my soul". From Stout and High by the Wagoneers.
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Old 11-25-2012, 04:48 AM
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Thank you- really enjoyed this work. Would like to see the whole thing one day.
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Old 11-26-2012, 08:02 AM
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AGFF just returned the kindle version I loaned him. Its free for the asking.
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Old 11-26-2012, 08:25 AM
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I bought parts two and three on my Kindle along with the first part of Kratocracy. The e-book versions are so cheap as to make it a no-brainer to finish reading the series.
As a once and, potentially future, "militant" Texan, the setting is cool and it's gratifying to see the Great State of Texas behaving as you'd hope it would were the situation real. Well executed writing and a great story; thanks.
I also spent ten years on the gulf coast and patiently await Crescent City's fleshing-out. NOLA is a strange place in that, while it objectively sucks on just about every level, I can't help but feel an affection for the city.
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:39 AM
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NOLA is that drunk uncle that, though you don't enjoy visiting him, he's still your uncle. Just don't leave him alone with the kids - or the adults
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:18 PM
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Thank you very much for the loan, it was very enjoyable to read, will be reading the rest of the series shortly.
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Old 11-27-2012, 03:54 AM
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Great work, I enjoyed it. This book and the rest in the series available on kindle? I don't mind paying for good work.............what are the titles?
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