“No armed police force, or detective agency, or armed body of men, shall ever be brought into this state for the suppression of domestic violence, except upon the application of the legislature, or the executive, when the legislature can not be convened.”
Constitution of the state of Idaho
Article XIV, Section 6
I am Private First Class Daniel Christopher Wright, I am seventeen years old, and I fired the shot that ended the United States of America.
When I enlisted in the Idaho Army National Guard, I swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the state of Idaho against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I swore that I would obey the orders of the president of the United States and the governor of Idaho, as well as the orders from officers appointed over me, according to the law and regulations.
But what could I do when my president and my governor called each other domestic enemies and both issued me lawful orders to fight against the other? When both claimed to support the Constitution? When the Army was ordered to fight against the Army and no place was safe?
I swore to obey the orders of my president and of my governor. I swore to defend the Constitution. I swore these things before God.
May God forgive me. May God in Heaven forgive us all.
Sweeney gave me a little too much lead on the pass. I had to kick up the speed and reach like crazy. Damn near fell, but I caught the football before Cal could get his hands on it. I ducked to dodge his try at a one-armed tackle, turned upfield, and ran, snapping each foot down fast as I could. Our safety, Travis Jones, was the only guy who might stop me. TJ was the fastest guy on the team.
Well, he used to be fastest.
He had a good pursuit angle, so I knew I couldn’t run right by him. I juked left and made him stutter-step. Then I figured, What the hell? Jones is a total jackwad. I gripped the ball tightly, put on a burst of speed, dropped my right shoulder, and crunched into his gut.
He groaned and I shoved him away with my left hand. His shoulder pads clicked as he hit the dry practice field. Then I bolted toward the end zone. I felt so fast, so powerful, I swear I could have run all the way up Silver Mountain to the west of town.
Coach Shiratori blew his whistle when I had like twenty yards to the goal line. No way was I stopping. Drill Sergeant McAllister would hang right behind me on five-mile runs in basic, shouting, “Private, you will run faster or I will kill you!” After that, I could always find more speed.
“Wright! Get back here!” Shiratori called as I crossed the line into the end zone.
“Moving, Coach!” I shouted. I tossed him the ball on the way back to the offensive huddle.
Sweeney slapped me a high five. “Nice one, man.”
“Yes, Coach!” I shouted as loud as I could. Coach Shiratori always tried to act like a cold-hearted badass, but I could see amusement cracking through his hard shell when I treated him like a drill sergeant. Truth was, after having the Army mentality beat into me all summer, I don’t think I could have acted any other way.
“When I blow the whistle, you stop the play. You wanna run extra, we can figure it out after practice.”
“What’s harder, the Army or football?”
“Coach, this is the Army!”
Assistant Coach Devins laughed. “That’s the best answer I’ve ever heard.”
But I wasn’t sucking up. I meant what I said. I loved this.
Shiratori looked at his watch. “Right! We gotta wrap it up for the morning. Get on the goal line. Time for conditioning!”
Some of the freshmen groaned quietly, but us senior and junior guys cheered like running was the best possible thing. That’s how Coach liked it. Complain about it: Run longer. Yell and cheer for more, what Sweeney called “faking the funk”: Coach would let us go earlier. Maybe.
Coach put us on Idaho drills: sprint fifty yards, drop down to do ten push-ups, bear-crawl on hands and feet to our right for about twenty yards, and then sprint back to the goal line. Five rotations. They were killer, even though I was in awesome shape.
Cal puked. He always puked. That’s how hard he pushed himself. An animal, that guy.
Coach let us go after his usual end-of-morning-practice lecture: drink lots of water, be on time for the evening practice, don’t do anything stupid. Our cleats thudded and scraped on the sidewalk back to the locker room. The light breeze felt good on my sweat-soaked shirt. Good thing this was our last two-a-day. I needed this coming weekend.
Cal elbowed me. “The Army issue you new moves this summer?” He rubbed a bruise that wrapped from his big bicep to his stacked tricep. “What d’you think you’re doing showing up the starting defense like that?”
“Riccon, who says you’re starting defense, you slow bastard?” Sweeney smiled.
“Sweeney, you little bitch, I’ll crush you.” Cal dropped his pads and locked his hands over his cut belly, flexing the huge traps in his shoulders. Sweeney grinned and then pretended to yawn. Cal picked up his pads. “Seriously, though, Wright,” he said. “Nice moves, especially burning TJ. The guy looked pissed.”
“Good,” I said. I had no patience for TJ. The guy was an asshole, and I knew for a fact that he had tried to put the moves on my JoBell backstage at last year’s spring play. “He’s not coming tonight, is he?”
Sweeney looked around. “Dude, chill. I told everybody that I’ve got no action tonight.”
“We gotta do something,” Cal said. “This is the last weekend of summer. The last summer before senior year.”
“Yeah, no kidding,” I said. We always partied the last weekend before school, plus I’d just spent a miserable two months at Fort Leonard Wood down in Missouri at basic training for the Army National Guard. I needed to relax.
Sweeney pulled me and Cal off to the side and spoke quietly. “My mom and dad took the ski boat down to Coeur d’Alene. I got the keys to the pontoon. I told everybody there was nothing going on so we can take a small group out on the boat after practice tonight. Jet Ski too. Grill some steaks. Throw back some beers.”
“I’m in,” Cal said.
“Yeah,” I said. “I’ll be out later. I gotta check in with Mom after practice.”
Cal sighed. “Come on, man. Really? Can’t you —”
“Shut up,” I said. We’d been over this a thousand times. Mom had this thing, like a kind of panic attack she’d get sometimes. She didn’t like her routine interrupted, and it wouldn’t be good if I wasn’t there to greet her when she got home. Cal didn’t know how bad she could freak out because only JoBell and Sweeney had witnessed it, but he should have been used to the drill by now.
We stowed our gear in the locker room and went out to the parking lot.
“Anyway,” Sweeney said, “give me a call when you get to the lake and I’ll pick you up on the Jet Ski.” He elbowed Cal. “You need a ride right now?”
“Naw, I’m good. Got my motorcycle. I have to get to work. Lot of tourists on the lake. They’ll be wanting to rent every kayak and paddleboat we got. I’m hoping those hot blond twins come back.” He cupped his hands in the air. “You know, the ones that got great … um … twins.”
Sweeney laughed. “Hmm. Sounds good. I might have to bring my Jet Ski over that way today.”