Published on The Doomstead Diner February 8, 2017
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Waiting for the bus out of town in Portland was nerve racking for Kensoto, but buying the ticket went smoothly and the clerk only glanced at the fake driver's license that Kim had forged, using an Atlanta address and the Georgia format. The license wouldn't do him any good if he was driving and pulled over by a Trooper and it was checked against the Georgia database, but for typical tasks like buying bus tickets, beer or a cheap motel room, it was just fine.
Once on the bus, he blended in well, most of the other passengers were either Black or Latino, with just a few White Trash sprinkled in. Bus travel was the main transport for the underclass, particularly for undocumented migrants. Once in Los Angeles, he once again had a wait for the next bus heading for Denver, and after buying his ticket he elected not to wait in the Bus Station, where he might be accosted by a Gestapo agent. He left the station and took a local bus over to a movie theater to catch a film, and then to a Wendy's for a meal. He headed back to the bus station about 20 minutes before the bus was due to depart, and once again had no issues. Listening to the news reports on the Radio, there was nothing about the shootings in Missoula on the National Newz as of yet, so he began to calm down and was able to get some shut-eye on the bus to Denver.
From there it was on to Indianapolis, then Pittsburgh and finally on to Atlanta. He was pretty exhausted after all the days of travel trying to sleep in the bus seats, but dragged himself over to a library where he finally turned on his secure smartphone and laptop to get on the internet and fire off an encrypted message to Kim via the Iceland server that he had made it to Atlanta safely. Kim fired back a message with a couple of names and addresses of relatives that Kensoto's parents had furnished him, and let him know there was ongoing investigation of the shoot-em-up, but so far the Terminators had not been rousted.
Rather than calling his relatives looking like a disheveled mess, even though it was slightly risky Kensoto elected to take a Bates Motel Room in a Motel 6 where Tom Burdett had left the light on for him, and a few cockroaches also. Still, the bed was fairly comfortable and did not seem to be infested with bed bugs, and he needed a good night's sleep and a shower. He stopped at Walmart on the way to the motel and bought a couple of changes of clothes and an airline size carry-on Wheely bag to supplement the small Bugout Bag Backpack he had travelled with.
After checking in, Kensoto took a quick shower and changed into one of the fresh sets of clothes purchased at Walmart. Then over to the Bates Motel laundry to wash the clothes he had been sleeping in for the last week, which were pretty stinky by this point. While the clothes were in the washer, he took a walk across the street to the Popeye's Fried Chicken and bought a 5 piece Spicy Chicken Tenders dinner with a side of Red Bean & Rice and 2 Jalapeno Peppers and a large Coke as takeout. Returning back to the motel and almost getting run over by a bus trying to cross the 4 lane secondary road, he dropped off his food in the room and then went over to the laudry room to shift his clothes into the dryer, depositing another dozen Quarters into the slots to get that running.
Returning back to his room, Kensoto flipped on the TV to see if he could find anything to watch while consuming the Popeye's meal, but after futiley punching through more than 100 channels, the best he could do was an Infomercial on Weight Loss featuring some skinny girls doing Yoga. So he left it on that while eating, then went back to collect his now industrially cleaned and dried clothing and folded it then packed it into the recently purchased wheely bag from Walmart, so it would be ready to go the following morning.
Morning came and he felt reasonably refreshed after a shower and a couple of cups of pretty thin Motel 6 Coffee. Prior to Check Out at Noon from the Motel 6, he gave his cousin Mohammed a call, to see if they could get together.
"Mohammed! Guess who?" Kensoto asked when Mohammed answered the call on his Iphone. Kensoto hadn't seen Mohammed since grade school in West Africa, so he wasn't entirely sure he would remember him.
"No idea. Who?", Mohammed inquired suspiciously. The caller did know his name though, so it probably wasn't a Bot Call.
"It's Kensoto! Your cousin! I'm in Atlanta!"
"Kensoto? Really? I thought you were in Montana, at least that is what my mom & dad told me."
"It's a long story. Can you meet me this evening for dinner?"
"Sure! Why don't you come over to the house? Mom & Dad would love to see you!"
"Uhhh, no not yet." Kensoto said carefully. "I have some stuff to talk over with you first."
Mohammed sensed immediately that Kensoto was in some trouble. "Trouble" was a regular feature of life for everyone in the West African community in Atlanta.
"Oh, OK. I work in the warehouse district here as a Lumper. I did 2 years at the Community College to get all my pre-requisites for a major in Nursing Science and maintained a 4.0 average, but there is a 2 year waiting list to matriculate into the Nursing Major. So I am living at home with my parents for now and just taking what jobs I can get. There's a Bar & Grill near here called Casey's that serves up a decent steak. Is 6PM OK? Do you want the address?"
"6 is good. I will find it on the Internet, I don't need the address. I'll see you tonight".
"OK, sounds good." Mohammed replied.
Although it would have been easier to just have Mohammed text him the address, Kensoto wanted as little information stored on servers and his smart phone as possible. Although the audio was likely recorded and stored, it was more difficult to search with bots. Besides that, as of yet neither he nor Mohammed appeared to be on any Radar over the shootings in Missoula. So it still seemed pretty safe to communicate this way, although once he got together with Mohammed he would advise him on how to send encrypted mesages over the SMS network using GPG4USB 256 bit encoding.
After checking out of the Bates Motel, Kensoto killed time until dinner by heading over to the Public Library and signing on to their Wi-Fi with his secure laptop. Searching on Google revealed that Casey's was on the other side of town and would take at least an hour to get there on the bus system. He still was not too encumbered with gear though, just his Bugout Bag Backpack and the recently purchased Wheely Bag for additional clothing.
Kensoto made it to Casey's just a little late, there had been a considerable amount of traffic and the bus trip went slower than he had expected. He was used to Missoula traffic and distances, and Atlanta was another bear entirely, so his estimates of time were off. When he finally made it to Casey's around 20 minutes late, Mohammed recognized him immediately and waved him over to his table, where he was passing the time sipping on a 24 oz Sam Adams Boston Lager from the tap and an appetizer of Fried Onion Rings.
"Damn Kensoto, I thought you were NEVER going to get here! It's great to see you!"
"Great to see you too, Mohammed", Kensoto said with a genuine smile of relief, giving his cousin a big hug. "It's been a trial. I could really use a beer here."
The two cousins sat down at the table, and Kensoto ordered a Foster's Lager from the tap, and munched out on one of the Onion Rings on the stand on the table.
"So WTF is going on Kensoto? Why all the secrecy?
"Big shit went down in my neighborhood, I got caught in the crossfire. I had to GTFO of Dodge in a hurry. I just was in the wrong place at the wrong time, on the way to meeting up with my friends. There was a big shooting match between two gangs and I got hit by a stray bullet. I'm down here laying low until it hopefully dies down. I'm not implicated at all as of yet."
"Shit, that is bad." Mohammed nodded. "How long are you going to stay down here for?"
"Hopefully only a month or two. I have enough money to get by. Not sure what I am going to do for housing yet though."
Mohammed pondered for a bit. "Well, it's probably not a good idea to come stay with us. If you do get implicated, they'll be checking into all your relatives, and we all came over at the same time."
"Yea, I thought of that. That's why I didn't want to meet at your parent's place. My phone is pretty safe, the account is anonymous, but it's still a good idea to use encryption in all communications. Do you know how to use GPG4USB 256 bit encryption?"
"Uhhh, no. I've never had anything that serious I was worried about being read."
Kensoto took some time to explain how Public and Private Keys work, and then how to install the software on his computer for encrypting messages. They ordered a couple of NY Strip Steaks and Potato Skins for dinner while working out their communications protocols.
Finishing off his steak, Mohammed got back to the housing problem.
"It's probably OK for you to come over to stay the night at our place. If you get implicated later and somebody sees you, we can just say you stopped in but we haven't seen you since. I'll call some friends tonight to see if I can find someone you can Couch Surf with. If you can contribute to the rent, it will be easier."
"I can easily contribute $500/mo for a good spot to sleep for at least the next 2 months", Kensoto replied.
"Oh, that's a lot. I don't think so much will be necessary just for a couch spot. $200 is probably enough."
"Important here is not to reveal my real identity. My forged Georgia Driver's License says my name is Ibrahim, not Kensoto. You should always refer to me as Ibrahim now, not Kensoto with anyone.", Kensoto advised.
"Yes, understood 'Ibrahim'.", Mohammed said with a wink.
With the plans settled for the evening, they ordered desert, Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream, and Kensoto picked up the whole tab courtesy of the cash the Terminators dropped on him to make his escape from Missoula and the clusterfuck of the shootings at the 7-11.
After dinner they headed back to Mohammed's parent's house, where he had set up in the basement and his parents were providing him with free rent. Upon arriving, Mohammed's mother's eyes lit up in happiness.
"Kensoto! You made it! Your mom called me and told us what happened. You are welcome to stay with us as long as you need to."
"No mom, Kensoto and I talked about this already. It's not safe for him or for us to stay here. This will be one of the first places the Gestapo come looking for Kensoto if he gets implicated in the shootings. I am going to find some friends he can couch surf with for the time being."
Adding to this security precaution, Kensoto gave more advice.
"Also, don't talk with my parents anymore on your cell phone. Let's just communicate through the secure channels that Kim has set up for this. No emails either."
"OK, I guess that is a good idea." Mohammed's mom replied. "This is so tragic!" she said, bursting into tears.
"Well, hopefully it is temporary and this will blow over in a couple of months." Kensoto replied, felling guilty he had worried her so much.
"Yes, I' sure it will.", she replied without much conviction, but managing a weak smile. "Meanwhile, are you hungry?", she asked.
"Oh no, Mohammed and I went out to dinner. I'm stuffed. Looking forward to a good breakfast though tomorrow morning! I've eaten enough Egg McMuffins for the last week to last a lifetime!", Kensoto declared with a laugh.
"I will make the best breakfast EVER tomorrow morning Kensoto.", Mohammed's mom promised with a smile.
Kensoto and Mohammed headed downstairs to the basement of the McMansion where Mohammed had his digs, and lit up some Ganga to mellow out. Then Mohammed began calling friends to find a couch for Kensoto to sleep on, while Kensoto played Grand Theft Auto V on the X-Box on the Big Screen OLED TV Mohammed got hot from one of his lumper friends at the warehouse. After about the 5th phone call and Kensoto had blown away a few dozen bad guys on GTA5, Mohammed finally located a couch at a reasonable price of $300/mo with 5 other guys in a McHovel across town on the wrong side of the tracks renting out at $1500/mo, less utilities.
"I'm going to need some transportation to get around town, Mohammed. Can we stop by Walmart tomorrow before you drop me off to pick up a bicycle and bike trailer?" Kensoto asked.
"Yea sure. We'll need to get up pretty early though, because I need to be on the docks at 8am if I am going to get at least 2 truckloads to unload for the day. I'll tell mom we'll need breakfast for 6am."
Mohammed headed upstairs to inform his mom on the early wake up call time, and Kensoto rolled one more splif for the night before sack time. The two cousins shared some memories of childhood in West Africa, and recounted some of their experiences since making the migration to the FSoA, then hit the hay for another sunrise in the morning, and new adventures in their lives.