Chapter 9: Hate Crimes
Copyright© 2016 by Graybyrd
“Every home in America lies under the shadow of Godless alien subversion! Every family in America faces the menace of Godless alien infiltrators! Every parent in America knows the fear that their precious children will be caught in the snare of the Godless cult that invites and welcomes the alien subversion into our cities, our homes and our schools! This very same godless cult denies the true teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Message of God’s Primal Revelation. Every brave father, knowing that the salvation of his family lies under the mantle of God’s Primal Revelation, must arise, ARISE, I SAY! to defend his God-given family, his precious wife and children.”
The crowd of thousands packed into the Spokane Coliseum roared its approbation as Rev. Chase Evans McClayne thundered his message into the unblinking eyes of the television cameras. His face, contorted and twisted with the delivery of his sermon, glared from television screens into the faces of millions of viewers around the nation over a dozen religiously-affiliated cable channels.
Jared Armbruster couldn’t attend the Spokane rally, although he desperately wished that he had. His brother Josh sat beside him on a sagging couch in their single-wide trailer home in Republic, Washington. The brothers inherited the trailer when their mother died of lung cancer, a victim of chain smoking. Their step-father died three years previously in a logging accident. A tree split and fell on his crawler tractor while dragging logs down a mountainside skidding trail.
The Armbruster brothers were unemployed, out of work for two years, since timber sales in the region had been cut back by the U.S. Forest Service. Without access to large timber contracts, the multinational forest products corporation closed the local sawmill and laid off the workers. The brothers and their disgruntled friends blamed the government, the environmentalists, and the local Indians for their unemployment. They couldn’t attack the government; the environmentalists were too scattered to reach; and until recently, they’d done little more than snarl racial slurs and insults at the Indians.
Now they had inspiration, justification, and a holy cause! Not only were the shiftless, drunken Indians to blame for closing salmon fishing by claiming 100-year-old treaty rights, but now they were using lawyers to close all the logging and forest roads to protect the salmon spawning beds. Their lawsuits had killed logging, threatened fishing, and now they were reducing irrigation reserves and pushing electricity prices higher by forcing early releases from the Columbia River dams to flush salmon smolt down the river! Hell, even the local politicians were bitching that the Indians were killing the economy!
No, that’s not enough for them heathen Indian bastards, Jared realized. Now they’re in cahoots with them goddamned Godless aliens!
Jared leaped up from the sagging sofa and hurled his beer can at the television.
“Did you hear that, Josh? Reverend Chase Evans McClayne said it, plain as could be! Them damned Indians over at the reservation are the ones! They’re the very ones that hid them alien-lovin’ bastards that let them alien sons-a-bitches get up in their space ship and attack our Air Force. And that’s where that freak-woman, that Wapato witch and her brothers live! Them and their kind! They’re gonna bring our churches down-and us-our families and our kids, Josh! Why, there’s no tellin’ what could happen! He’s been sent from God to warn us, Josh! You hear that?”
Josh rose and turned off the television and scooped up the dribbling beer can from where it had ricocheted off the TV. He lobbed the can at the kitchen trash bin. It rolled off the heap and fell in the corner.
“Want another beer, Jared? You kinda wasted the last of that one,” he teased. Jared stood angrily by the sofa, his fists clenched and his eyes squeezed half shut, nurturing his rage for all the injustices that he and his white friends had suffered at the hands of forces outside their understanding. Now it seemed he had a target for his anger. He couldn’t do anything about the government or the aliens or the loss of logging jobs or their unemployment or his miserable life, or the humiliation of begging for an extension of his unemployment benefits, but a warm glow of retribution began to rise up in him. It flooded his cheeks with a hot flush of purpose.
“Yeh, hell yeh, bro! Grab me another cold beer! That last one was gettin’ warm. Bro, we got some thinkin’ and plannin’ to do. I think we been sittin’ around on our asses too much, and we been lettin’ this shit go on for too long! It’s about time we did somethin’ to show them bastards that we ain’t gonna sit around helpless and take all this shit! We can do somethin’, Bro! We can go make us an example. Fuck with us, will they? They won’t fuck with us so much after we get through puttin’ up a warnin’ of what’s to come-what’ll happen if things don’t get set right-get put back where they needs to be!”
Two sheriff’s department cruisers, their blue and red cannon lights strobing garish reflections off the steep embankment bordering the county road, flanked the white and orange ambulance parked on the shoulder. Two EMT attendants opened a folding gurney to receive a body.
“Jesus, Frank! You ever seen anything like that before?”
Deputy Sheriff Oswald “Ozzie” Buttars and his partner stared up at the massive trunk of a ponderosa pine tree rooted to the high edge of the cut bank above the road.
“No, I never did, Ozzie, and you know damn well I haven’t,” Frank answered. “Closest thing to this I ever heard of was that gay kid that was tortured and hung up naked on a fence in Wyoming some years ago. As bad as that was, I don’t think it was as bad as this!”
“Oh, damn ... I better radio down to Fred. We don’t need anybody comin’ along gawkin’ at this, and we sure as hell don’t want any pictures comin’ out in the papers!”
Frank jogged over to his cruiser and snatched up a microphone.
“Unit 307, Unit 302.”
“Unit 307, go ahead, Frank.”
“Fred, you better block the road down there at the fork. Don’t let anybody up this way except the boss. This scene is pretty bad, and we don’t need people up here gawkin’ or takin’ pictures. Okay?”
“You got it, Frank. And the boss won’t be coming. He told me to have you all come straight to the hospital. He and the coroner will meet you there. He said to have somebody stay back and guard the scene until the forensics crew comes at dawn. 10-4?”
“Yeh, I got it. I’ll ask Ozzie to cover here. I reckon you can go back to town with us as soon as we got the ambulance loaded and there’s nothing to take pictures of. See you in about 30, I think. 302 clear.”
“Understood. 307 clear.”
Frank turned back to Ozzie, who was standing where he heard both sides of the radio exchange.
“Yeh, I’ll be glad to hang out here and wait for the forensics crew, Frank. Martha’s got the night shift at the Jiffy Mart, so I’ll probably get home in time to have breakfast with her. Not that I’m going to have much of an appetite after seein’ all this!”
The all this that Ozzie referred to was the corpse nailed upside down to the trunk of the pine tree. He was stripped naked. His body, arms and legs were covered with welts and lacerations, some showing a distinctive link pattern. Someone had whipped him with a length of chain. The body hung facing out with a single spike through both feet. His hands were spiked at the ends of a cross-timber nailed to the base of the tree. It was an upside-down crucifixion.
The victim was alive when he was crucified. Caked streams of blood ran from his hands and feet. The body was mutilated so obscenely, so sadistically, that none of them could look at it with more than a glance before feeling uncontrollably nauseous.
Another reason for wanting the road blocked was the crude cardboard sign nailed to the tree above the victim’s spiked feet:
Be Warnt! Injuns, Mormins, Aleins. Bewar God’s Army!
Ozzie couldn’t take it any more. He ran down the road and stopped behind a tall bush. He heaved up the sandwiches and coffee he’d eaten earlier.
Christ! he thought to himself as he wiped his mouth, the vicious ignorant bastards can’t even spell!”
Two days later in the early morning hours someone threw a gasoline bomb through the window of the reservation community center. It burned to the ground. Another attack damaged the tribal children’s daycare building. Blood and animal entrails were thrown against the door. Bags of excrement and sewage were thrown through broken windows to burst open on the floors inside. A crude cardboard sign tacked to the door bore the message: “Injuns Be Warnt! Bewar God’s Army!”
Three nights later, two Mormon church buildings in the area were similarly vandalized. A sign was nailed to the doors of each: “Be warnt! God Hates Mormins. Repent or Die!”
The area press was quick to pick up on the vandalism and the hate messages. Someone leaked copies of the forensic photographs of the crucifixion killing. Photos of the tribal and church building vandalism were published. That it all happened in the same week was sensational; the story aired on the Spokane television stations and was picked up by the national cable networks within hours.
Native American facilities on the reservation were involved; that made it a federal matter. FBI investigators came in, scooped up the evidence from the Sheriff’s Department and searched for more at the crime scenes.
“Stupid is as stupid does” is a phrase from a Hollywood film; it has basis in fact. The Armbruster brothers shared a pickup truck with bald tires on the front wheels and nearly-bald snow-treads on the rear, all stolen from a neighbor’s shed. The rear tires were molded with an obsolete winter pattern called “sawdust” tread because wood sawdust was molded into the rubber tread. The sawdust fell out as the tire wore down, leaving surface holes that supposedly improved snow traction. Their right rear tire also suffered a diagonal tread slash when Jared ran over a broken bottle at the edge of their driveway.