Because Freedom is Dangerous

28 Aug

Here is my story for Friday Fictioneers, a gathering of writers from around the world who meet each week in Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s cyber garage  to share their 100 word inspirations based on photo prompts such as the one shown below from Dawn.

This week’s picture is of Union Station in Washington, D.C., a city created by Congress to keep the nation’s Capitol distinct from the states and to provide for its own protection. (Seems they were doing then what they do so well now. Go figure.) It  is also famous for harboring a disproportionate population of vermin whose actions are the subject of my story. (I’ll let you know my cell number as soon as I’ve settled in.)


“Destination, sir?” the TSA agent asked.

The elderly man standing trackside looked his interrogator up and down, taking in the blue and gray uniform rife with none too subtle bells, buttons, whistles and decals.

“Do I know you?”

“I’m a Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response team member. We’re authorized to….”

“Visible Intermodal what?”

“VIPER Team, sir.”

“Has it crossed your mind how ridiculous that sounds?”

“The Department of Homeland Security chose the name.”

“Ever wonder who chose theirs?”

“Your destination?”

“My ticket says Denver, but it’s looking more and more like Lubyanka Square, Moscow. ”

“Please come with me, sir.”

81 Responses to “Because Freedom is Dangerous”

  1. Sandra August 28, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Your categories, Doug, are almost as impressive as your stories. But not quite. I like the sound of your main character here. He reminds me of someone… 🙂 Entertaining and original, as always. Well done, my friend.

    • dmmacilroy August 28, 2013 at 11:51 am #

      Dear Sandra,

      Thank you. He does sound familiar, doesn’t he? Probably come to a bad end and none too soon.

      Categories help me add words to my stories. (Need all the help I can get.)



  2. Ye Pirate August 28, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    Doug I laughed and laughed till tears did come! Really everything was so funny, on second and third reading too, the dialogue, timing, tone, topic all just make for the ever-elusive sharp humour. Sheer brilliance.

    • dmmacilroy August 28, 2013 at 11:54 am #

      Dear Managua,

      That’s high praise indeed from a writer of your skill. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. I should have warned everyone that ‘liking’ my story would get them put on a list, but it’s too late now. Sorry about that.



  3. summerstommy2 August 28, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    Gotta love the sense of humour of officialdom, or the lack of. Good one Doug.

    • dmmacilroy August 28, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

      Dear Summerstommy,

      And if you don’t profess love for them, stand by. They’ve got their eyes on you.

      Thank you for visiting.



  4. brainsnorts August 28, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    the answer to the question is somewhere between bill clinton and bush II. clinton proposed the department at the end of his second term but left the plan for his successor. bush initially rejected the idea in order to separate clinton from the office, but then 9/11 changed his mind.

    regardless of the origin, we can certainly see how that – combined with the patriot act – can remind one of moscow and other points northeast. or west, if you’re in sarah palin’s backyard.

    a story like this shouldn’t be necessary, but it is. well done.

    • dmmacilroy August 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

      Dear Rich,

      It would be interesting to know how many people choose to restrict their travel now because of the TSA. I know I don’t relish the thought of travel these days.

      It wold be equally interesting to know whether anyone in the ‘bureaucracy’ understands just how ridiculous those names chosen by the Department of Nearly-Nazi Names sound. Pays well, no consequences for bad choices….resumes being accepted now.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. it is very nice to see you in the neighborhood again. Hope you didn’t have to fly to get here.



      • brainsnorts August 28, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

        just trying to avoid being seen by the brown shirts.

        have a great day.

  5. rgayer55 August 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    I love the title and the story, Doug. I think they should have chosen VERMIN for the acronym instead of VIPER. It would have been more accurate.

    • dmmacilroy August 28, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

      Dear Russell,

      You’re on the list. Please speak into your computer’s microphone and tell us why you feel this way. Do the words, No Fly List mean anything to you? No? How about, Turn your head and cough? You will be contacted for further information. We suggest you cooperate…

      …and I just want to thank you very much for reading and commenting.



  6. yarnspinnerr August 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    Often wondered who dreams up these ridiculous acronyms. Fantastic stuff. 🙂

    • dmmacilroy August 30, 2013 at 1:34 am #

      Dear Yarnspinner,

      Sad to say, but it’s the people we elect that are responsible. And they think they’re being clever. Or that we’re stupid. Or both. Yes, most likely both.

      Thanks for commenting. I appreciate you dropping by.



  7. vbholmes August 28, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    Clicked “Like” before I read your warning about The List, so I may as well take the plunge and risk being added to two Lists by agreeing that air travel certainly has become a chore–no more “Fly the Friendly Skies….” (Also, have to thank Sandra for pointing out your categories–otherwise, I would have missed the extra credits.) Great post, Doug.

    • dmmacilroy August 30, 2013 at 1:36 am #

      Dear VB,

      We’re all on the list anyway. People who write are subversive and a threat. Won’t be long now before we’re all locked up for thinking thoughts not endorsed by the ‘free press’.

      Thanks for reading, story, tags, categories and title. Keen eyes.



  8. Lindaura Glamoura August 28, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    Fantastic Doug! I loved the Viper name and the question, “Ever wonder who chose theirs?” about the name Homeland Security, and I loved the ending. It really made me chuckle, even though it is true, so true…

    • dmmacilroy August 30, 2013 at 1:57 am #

      Dear Lindaura,

      Stay in Greece. Birthplace of the West, now last refuge of sanity. Thank you for commenting so kindly.



  9. Tom Poet August 28, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    No need to worry Doug I am already on the list. Back in the 80’s my Uncle in Ireland was driving his car as we past through a checkpoint in Belfast. The English soldier asked where we were going and my uncle said “Timbuktu”. Needless to say it took a little longer to get past the soldiers. I think I was born on that list before people knew there even was a list…Great story as always and fitting for today. Freedom is a dangerous thing and I thank god for that.


    • dmmacilroy August 30, 2013 at 1:58 am #

      Dear Tom,

      I like your uncle. The name on the head of the list is probably yours. Good on you, mate.



  10. Joe Owens August 28, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    Sometimes the uniform strips the wearer of humanity and their sense of humor. Ever since September 11 no one wants to be the one who let the terrorists by and it makes everything a major ordeal.

    • dmmacilroy August 30, 2013 at 2:02 am #

      Dear Joe,

      It’s not only the uniform, it’s also the knowledge that they are being watched like hawks from both sides. They want to keep their jobs and they don’t want to lose their jobs. Not going to help them in the end. In the meantime they have to pretend they believe what they’re doing is making a difference. (It is, but not in the way they are forced to profess they believe.) Sad times.

      Thank you for visiting.



  11. erinleary August 28, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    Love it – very real, only slightly futuristic. In my travels, I’ve noticed that older people seem very confused by all the fuss made over security. I am starting to feel more like them lately. I remember my mom being selected for a pat down while getting ready to board a flight. She was amazed that a 78 year old grandma with white hair posed such a threat.

    One small thing – does “nations Capitol” need to have an apostrophe? It seems to me that it does.

    Great job, as always. I am entertained and edified all at once. 🙂

    • dmmacilroy August 29, 2013 at 12:28 am #

      Dear Erin,

      I want to thank you for catching my apostrophe catastrophe and telling me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. There. Now I’m going to fix it and get after all the responses and stories. I really appreciate your keen eye and detailed comments.

      One thing we can all do is write to our ‘leaders’ and tell them that we don’t like the way the country is headed. Whatever happened to the need for a declaration of war from Congress before sticking our noses (and the lives of our dear children) into the affairs of other countries?

      Once again, thank you for everything. Off to edit now.



  12. lingeringvisions by Dawn August 28, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    Well, I was going to tip toe out but I am sure “they” already know I have clicked here.
    I love the sardonic wit!
    Hear that fellas? Wit, I say.
    Oh geez, I have probably only made it worse.

    • dmmacilroy August 30, 2013 at 2:03 am #

      Dear Dawn,

      Thank you for the great picture. Was a nice jumping off point. The one thing to remember is that once the prisons fill with half of us, the other half has to bust their butts to feed us.

      Thank you for visiting.



  13. JackieP August 28, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

    I have often wondered how they come up with those names too. I always picture some poor lonely bitter soul in a dark basement, cackling with joy as he names these departments. 😉 Great take on the picture.

    • dmmacilroy August 30, 2013 at 2:08 am #

      Dear Jackie,

      His name is Orfeo and he can be found between the pages of A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin. Put it on your list.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.



  14. Shainbird August 29, 2013 at 1:40 am #

    Doug, I just love this guy’s sassiness! 🙂

    • dmmacilroy August 30, 2013 at 2:11 am #

      Dear Shainbird,

      He’s going to need some love where he’s going. (And so are we.) Thanks for visiting.



  15. Adam Ickes August 29, 2013 at 2:11 am #

    Can’t have freedom without breaking a few skulls, specifically of those who question the methods. Dangerous business.indeed.

    • dmmacilroy August 30, 2013 at 2:13 am #

      Dear Adam,

      Remember you said that.

      Thanks for visiting.



  16. waitingforaname August 29, 2013 at 3:12 am #

    Great writing, Doug. Your characters were believable.

    • dmmacilroy August 30, 2013 at 2:13 am #

      Dear Lisa,

      And yours are Divine.

      Thank you for visiting.



  17. jwdwrites August 29, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    Oh dear! Somebody tell him that you just don’t try humour with these guys, they either don’t get it, or they take offence if they do! Good story Doug. 🙂

    • dmmacilroy August 30, 2013 at 2:18 am #

      Dear JWD,

      Funny (and sad) thing is that this story was not intended to be humorous.

      Thank you for visiting and reading.



  18. elmowrites August 29, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    Doug, I haven’t got time to read stories this week; how dare you post one. And one with so many hidden meanings. It’s an outrage and I refuse to comment.
    Except to say they don’t have cells where you’re going, my friend. And they certainly won’t let you get a message out!

    • dmmacilroy August 29, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      Dear Jennifer,

      I’m already learning the tap code alphabet so that I can tap out a story or two to my cell mate next door. This story will get me in trouble and I think it’s going to take more and more of us to speak up and out before sanity prevails.

      Enjoy your vacation and come back to us safe and sound. I miss you already.



  19. Honie Briggs August 29, 2013 at 3:18 pm #


    This put me in mind of the first time my father traveled by air to visit me. An experienced road warrior, he’d never flown and did not understand why the man wearing the blue gloves confiscated his shampoo. You very aptly described what if feels like to travel these days. I have a “special” relationship with TSA.

    Most likely to be strip searched,

    • dmmacilroy August 30, 2013 at 2:23 am #

      Dear Honie,

      Your reply made me laugh out loud. Thank you.

      I’m considering eschewing air travel altogether. The airlines think of me as a sardine, the people on either side and in front and behind think of me as too big and too heavy, and the government thinks of me as a threat and a pain in their humungous collective bottom.

      Time to buy a boat and get back in touch with the real world where time and distance were obstacles to be overcome, not nuisances that dictate they we put up with Irritationists blowing up planes and Idiots trying to prevent it.

      The world is ever changing.

      Thank you for writing, Honie. It is a pleasure reading your work.



  20. freyathewriter August 29, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    Haha! Excellent! And thank you for educating me on why DC is known as DC (I’m British, so didn’t know the history).

    • dmmacilroy August 30, 2013 at 2:28 am #

      Dear Freya,

      D.C. being D.C. didn’t stop you guys from burning down the White House in 1812, did it? That’s funny.

      Glad the history was enlightening. Thank you for visiting.



  21. Carrie August 29, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Interesting how they keep saying “Homeland Security” when the things they do to other countries are basically terrorism.

    Oh damn, does this mean I might have trouble the next time I bring my kids to Disneyland?

    • dmmacilroy August 30, 2013 at 2:31 am #

      Dear Carrie,

      I think this country needs to just back off and get the heck out of other people’s business. Take care of our country. No more foreign ‘aid’. No more spending money out of thin air (the same way they print it.) No more big government.

      I am so in trouble.

      Been nice knowing you.

      Thank you for commenting.



      • Carrie August 30, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

        we’ll miss you Doug…maybe you will still be able to do Fictioneers from prison 😉

  22. unspywriter August 30, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    You’ve captured the self-importance of the TSA guys perfectly. (We were so glad when they were taken out of FAA, where they were the brunt of many jokes, i.e., Where do you go when you fail as a mall cop? Civil Aviation Security.)

    Here’s mine:

    • dmmacilroy September 1, 2013 at 10:14 am #

      Dear Maggie,

      I want them removed altogether. Thanks for reading and commenting. loved your story this week.



  23. bridgesareforburning August 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    Hi Doug,
    I think I have the answer. Throw everyone in jail, a kind of Gulag-state. Then, at last, we can be sure all domestic terrorists are behind bars. And the ones that aren’t terrorists? Well, they’re probably guilty of something. A police chief from a nearby town is in hot water because he was trying to increase revenue for the city through more tickets and told his officers he could pull anybody over and found something he could cite. I think that’s the TSA attitude, which you captured so well in your story. Ron

    • dmmacilroy September 1, 2013 at 10:15 am #

      Dear Ron,

      They’re building the Gulag state right around us as we speak. They’ll be sifting through blogs of everyone and we will all be put away someplace dark. I appreciate that you’ve noticed and still can find some humor in it. I’m fresh out. Thanks for stopping by and leaving one of your Grade-A, prime comments.



  24. Jan Brown August 30, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    This guy really does NOT want to get to his destination anytime soon!

    • dmmacilroy September 1, 2013 at 10:19 am #

      Dear jan,

      What price freedom? Thanks for stopping by and commenting.



  25. nightlake August 31, 2013 at 2:30 am #

    like the character of the elderly man. Humorous and well-written

    • dmmacilroy September 1, 2013 at 10:21 am #

      Dear Nightlake,

      The old geezer is near to my heart as well. Thanks for dropping in to read and comment.



  26. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) August 31, 2013 at 7:14 am #

    Oohh never joke with a TSA agent… Love the Lubljanka angle 🙂 But I’m sure he had fun (but I guess I would not being happy standing second in line)

    • dmmacilroy September 1, 2013 at 10:24 am #

      Dear Bjorn,

      He wasn’t joking. Sad state of affairs we live in over here. Thanks for visiting.



  27. patrickprinsloo August 31, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    Great little snapshot. ALWAYS BE NICE TO THE MAN IN UNIFORM. It’s the law,

    • dmmacilroy September 1, 2013 at 10:27 am #

      Dear Patrick,

      Laws are made to be questioned….and can be undone. This country is turning into something blind.



      P.S. Thanks for reading.

  28. Sunshine August 31, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    Doug, thank you for an entertaining funny story. well, not so much fun for the elderly man but you made this scene so vividly realistic.

    • dmmacilroy September 1, 2013 at 10:29 am #

      Dear Sunshine,

      You are welcome, as always. Thak you for reading.



      • Sunshine September 1, 2013 at 11:38 am #

        you’re welcome. 🙂

  29. JKBradley August 31, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    They have no patience for the elderly wise guy terrorist type, or for small children totting around weapons of mass destruction tucked within the plaster casts on their arms.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • dmmacilroy September 1, 2013 at 10:31 am #

      Dear JK,

      And I have no patience for my countrymen who voted the idiots who instituted these organizations and foisted these ‘policies’ on us all.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Should I type the words Nuclear Weapon just to get myself in more hot water?



      • JKBradley September 1, 2013 at 11:24 am #

        I don’t think you’re in hot water at all. I am very pleased that there are folks out there willing to ruffle some feathers to get others to think. Sometimes I think we’re all lined up fighting to get onboard this one-way hand basket.

        Keep fighting the good fight.

  30. Bumba August 31, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    Terrific story and commentary. What is the budget/dollars and cents expense of the D of Homeland Security? Have you read This Town by a reporter called Leibovitz.? He describes a Washington that is reminiscent of 16 th century Firenze or Venice. A concentration of wealth and fat cats. They had Viper teams back then too.

    • dmmacilroy September 1, 2013 at 10:36 am #

      Dear Bumba,

      Now that is a comment with some depth. Thank you very much. Have bookmarked the title and will read it avidly. Thank you so much for stretching my mind and adding to the store of knowledge in the collander.



  31. rheath40 August 31, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    Dear Doug,

    Great depth to your story. I can’t imagine ever being able to capture so much in so little words. You astound me. Wow. I have no criticisms of course. I’m in awe and that’s all I can say.

    Love, Renee

    • dmmacilroy September 1, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      Dear Ms. Heath,

      I beg to differ with you re your abilities. You are totally able to capture worlds within 100 words. And when I say ‘you’ I mean you, yourself, the person this reply is addressed to. Nothing is ever beyond your ability if you are only willing to get after it.

      I hope you will offer me constructive criticism whenever and wherever you see the need. Thaks for penning such a nice comment.



      • rheath40 September 1, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

        Dear Doug,

        Please call me Renee. Thank you for the nice compliment. I will be sure to take it to heart.

        Your stories are always so good. I’m honored to learn from such great teachers as you and Rochelle.

        Till next Friday…

        Love, Renee

  32. David Stewart September 1, 2013 at 2:10 am #

    Great story and a familiar scenario for anyone who’s flown a lot. Every time I read a new organization name, I automatically figure out what the acronym would be. VIPER is very apt.

    • dmmacilroy September 1, 2013 at 10:48 am #

      Dear David,

      Does it seem to you that they always create acronyms/initialisms that pander to the lowest possible intelligence level of the citizens of the country? Thanks for reading and commenting.



      • David Stewart September 1, 2013 at 11:54 am #

        You can send a clear message through an acronym, I guess. I wish groups would make wildly inappropriate acronyms, just to make the world more fun. Like VIPER (Virus Inoculation Procedures and Emergency Response.)

  33. Perry Block (@PerryBlock) September 1, 2013 at 4:07 am #

    Not sure I totally share your philosophy here, Doug, but it’s a well-done hard-hitting story that makes its point. Excellent dialogue and with respect to goofy acronyms, I’m with you all the way!

    • dmmacilroy September 1, 2013 at 10:53 am #

      Dear Perry,

      It saddens me to think that your philosophy might cancel mine out. Ah, well. I have great faith that the powers that be will find something to do to make you realize that the cure is worse than the disease. I only hope you will come around in time.

      Until then, enjoy the forever war.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.



  34. Sarah Ann September 2, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

    Oh dear. Your character (surely the VIPER-man is only a cardboard cut-out) has such a great voice. I fear his sense of humour would be lost on many. The Denver-Lubyanka line is fantastic.

    • dmmacilroy September 4, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

      Dear Sarah Ann,

      Thank you so much for your comments. They fuel my fire and I’ll enjoy thinking about them in prison. Good thing is that I’ll have a lot of company.



      • Sarah Ann September 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

        Let me have your snail-mail address when you get there and I’ll write to you. 🙂

  35. Dee September 3, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    Dear Doug

    A very apt tale for today’s world.

    At odd moments while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil, or the toaster to spit the toast out, I wonder about the origin of all the acronyms that are creeeping into our everyday speech. I picture a room without windows, where little men (oops, and women) spend days working them out, while simultaneously operating traffic cameras and writing tomorrow’s headlines…

    Take care

    • dmmacilroy September 4, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

      Dear Dee,

      Thanks for visiting here and commiserating with me. I appreciate the company. The world is getting stranger by the day, isn’t it.



      • Dee September 4, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

        Dear Doug
        You’re welcome and you’re right.
        Take care

  36. sandraconner September 4, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    PERFECT!!! Of course, since this is exactly my own take on the way things are going in this country, I guess I come at this with a preconceived positive attitude. But, in all honesty, even if I didn’t agree, I would have to enjoy this story. Dialogue is top-notch. Timing is perfect. And, most of all, at least in my personal opinion, the ability to inject so much humor into so serious a subject, but not lose the intensity of the danger involved, is a real gift. Let’s see: I’m looking for something to “criticize” so that my comments don’t get boring …………………………………………………………….

    • dmmacilroy September 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

      Dear Sandra,

      Thank you so much for visiting here, too. It is a pleasure to know that you read my stories whenever you can. Makes me feel very good and as though there is a light at the end of the tunnel. (Train)

      I appreciate your keen eye and detailed comments more than you know. You keep ink in my inkwell. Thank you.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: