Terrorism Unplugged: A Tale of Survival in the National Surveillance State

Terrorism Unplugged: A Tale of Survival in the National Surveillance State

If the dog hadn’t gotten sick all over the house, she wouldn’t be waiting for the FBI to grill her.

All in all, it had been a disappointing day. Jail was icing on the cake.

As soon as she got out of bed and couldn’t find her left foot slipper, doom filtering through her innards trumpeted more trouble ahead. Which was especially prescient considering how within the next fifteen minutes a series of calamities combined to turn her half-formed equilibrium into tentacles of anxiety.

The dog had upchucked and the coffee pot blew almost simultaneously. Too bad that morning she had elected to give him her steak from the night before along with some dog food.  On the way down it hadn’t looked too bad – even if you weren’t a dog – on the way up all over the floor and the new rug it was gross.  Salvaging the rug, her first thought, proved impractical. She didn’t really own it, the credit card company did.  On behalf of them, she made the decision to toss it.

Along with the coffee pot.

Then the bank called. They were tired of bouncing her checks and collecting $40 per which made even more checks bounce. The domino effect on steroids. Account closed, chirped the voice on the other end. What about all the money she owed them. Not my department. Whose department is it?  She had already hung up.

She put all the paper towels with dog vomit on them in a plastic bag. Her barrel was already sitting on the road for tomorrow’s pick up.  The bag went into the car to be dumped in the barrel when she got to the end of the driveway.

What with one thing and another and how was she going to get a new coffee pot and whether the dog was ever going to stop throwing up, she forgot about the vomit bag sitting in the passenger seat. Maybe it was that passive aggressive thing the shrink claimed was her ex’s problem.

Should have gotten a girl dog.

Sammy, her male cat, the one her wretched son dropped at her door before he took off had diarrhea from the first day. Little snake grabbed a stray that looked just like her first cat.  The one who died on Christmas day. Should have put her foot down.  Desperate to get something out of the whole sordid affair, she sent an e-mail to Guinness.  Must be some kind of record 220 days of diarrhea.  Not too shabby to find a cat and snag a mention in Guinness.

No answer.

Who could blame her for driving right past the barrel leaving her smelly cargo in the passenger seat?

The barrel outside the liquor store caught her eye. Glancing around quickly she grabbed the bag, another quick glance to make sure no one was looking and popped it into the container.

Congratulating herself on her resourcefulness, she never saw the two guys heading her way until she was spread eagled against the car and they were telling her to relax and no one would get hurt.

What the hell?

A half-a-lifetime later, alone in a little room with no windows sitting at a table. Maybe it wasn’t a trash bin. How big a crime could it be to throw garbage into a bin that looked like a garbage can but wasn’t. What if they had a camera in there?

Why didn’t they just give her a ticket and let her go? True, if the bag opened when she threw it in, it could be an awful mess. They’re pissed but treating her like a terrorist. American citizens had rights. She’d demand a lawyer.

Not such a good idea. Demanding a lawyer meant money. What about a public defender.

Stop. No sense giving in like they wanted her too.  Why they left her alone, she’d bet.  All a mix-up.  Calm and collected was the ticket.  Shouldn’t forget she was an innocent victim. Logic and rationality would get her out of this mess.

Not so easy to keep her cool when they started in on her. Produced a bag they said was in the trash bag. Not her bag. Didn’t look anything like it. Her bag was a grocery store bag with dog vomit in it.

They didn’t believe her. Who would throw a bag full of dog vomit into a public trashcan? Put it in her own trashcan. Much easier and cleaner they pointed out.

Resenting the implicating she was a pig, she tried to explain. She had forgotten to drop the dog vomit bag in her trashcan at the end of the driveway. Didn’t believe her, she could tell by the way they looked at her.

Be careful. Didn’t want them to think she was a lunatic. Must be some other way to explain it.

Fact is the bag they said they found didn’t have dog vomit in it. They dumped the contents on the table. Couple of firecrackers with some wires attached and a cylinder of propane.

Where was the dog vomit bag?

Wasn’t in the trashcan. If she threw in a different bag, where was it? Wasn’t this the bag?

Not if it didn’t have dog vomit in it.

Alone again. How long had she been here?  No watch, no purse.

Who was going to feed the dog and clean up the vomit after he ate? What about the cat?  If she wasn’t there how to know if he still had a perfect record?

They had to let her go soon. She was innocent. Didn’t even know a Muslim. What about the people next door?  Seemed nice and all, but isn’t that how they did it?  Operated under the radar. Maybe they switched bags on her.

When? Didn’t remember leaving the bag of dog vomit around, but suppose she had. Did she ever look in the bag to verify the dog vomit was still there?

See. That was why they didn’t believe her. Even a moderately curious person would have checked before chucking. f that was the mistake, she’d explain it to them and they’d let her go.

Simple. Except they weren’t coming in. Alone with nothing to do but think.

Stop. No more thinking. What happened was what she said. Period.

Why was it taking so long? Being questioned had to be better than sitting here wondering when they’d come in. Which was probably why they were making her sit here with nothing to do. Even took away her cell phone. Part of the plan, she guessed.

By the time the door opened she hardly noticed the guy heading for the only other chair in the room. He sat on it backwards like they did on TV. When he opened the big bag, the first thing he took out was the gun.

Shit, they must have searched her garage. Some hiding place. She couldn’t tell them about her brother-in-law and how she had hidden the gun so he wouldn’t shoot her sister. She promised. Only thing she could say was that it wasn’t loaded.

It wasn’t registered either they pointed out.

Maybe she should tell them she found it in the woods when she was walking vomit dog. No, too complicated. Pretend to be surprised, her best move.   Lame but better than the truth. Her sister would kill her. Call in her loan.  No, she had a conscience and a budget to protect.  Whole family would think she was a hero if she went to prison rather than spill the beans.

Firecrackers too. Just like in the other bag. Why did every guy she meet like exploding toys? Should have thrown them away but how? Couldn’t exactly throw them in the trashcan. Forgot about them after awhile.

The propane tanks were easy to explain. Hadn’t they seen her grill?

It was hooked to the gas line.

But it hadn’t always been.

Her computer was last. She had 5,000 unread messages.

Not a crime last she heard

No, she didn’t know Jihad Jane.

Room was empty again. Emptiness didn’t upset her any more.  More comforting than people firing questions she couldn’t answer. Damn that dog.  Why didn’t he throw up when they were searching the house?

Three of them came in smiling. They threw her bag of dog vomit across the table.

Congratulations. More citizens should follow her example. Wouldn’t have to fear the terrorists if upstanding citizens acted like she did.

The bag of dog vomit wound up behind the trash bin. Not in it. When the cops searched the bin, they found the other bag. The one intended to blow up the shopping center. Hero, they called her. By missing the bin, she had uncovered a terrorist plot. Saving many lives.

Could she peek at the terrorist since she helped catch him?

Sorry, he wasn’t in custody yet. Would be soon.

Did she want to make a statement to the press? Gathered outside waiting to see America’s latest hero.

Walking out of the room when someone handed her the bag of dog vomit.

All those cameras and all aimed at her. Screw Guinness. They’ll be sorry they blew her off.

Walking to her car holding the bag of dog vomit. It was starting to smell real bad. Then she remembered. In back of the police station, she had seen a trashcan.  Perfect.

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