It was a dismal summer of drought and wildfires. The people were stressed and agitated. With fourteen months of political news and campaigning in the future, a group of friends wondered what it was all for. They saw it was the same old crowd being pushed out to incite a blind anger among the people. This group of friends in the hills of California was a passionate one. They were liberals of a militant nature and idolized Che Guevera and Vladimir Lenin. There were three of them all coming from similar backgrounds. They grew up poor in violent neighborhoods and were educated in schools that offered little hope. They were very intelligent and solid in their beliefs though. They had taken it among themselves to be educated about the world and developed a strong empathy towards the oppressed and a hatred towards the wealthy. The socioeconomic environment that turned out these people did not do the country any favors. The violence and class warfare these kids were raised with combined with their confidence and inflated egos would bring doom to the doorsteps of many suburban homes.
There was a leader among the three, his name was Jack. Jack was a radical, inventive, self reliant, and prided himself on his willingness to fight in defense of his beliefs. Jack and his friends were minimalists. They had met on a blog where they discussed outdoor survival and frontier living. It was Jack who convinced the other two to quit the city and homestead in the Los Padres Forest. They lived a gypsy lifestyle to stay hidden. They lived under tarps and boiled water after filtering it through bandannas. They ate fish and boiled pine needles for tea. It was a hard life that kept them busy. In their daily tasks surviving off the land they still thought about the right and wrongs of the world. In their new social environment the solutions they saw for the wrongs became darker. The friendships between these young rogues became closer and their connection to the outside world became distant and cold. In their seclusion and exile from society they developed an attitude of a heightened superiority. fantasies would circulate around the nightly campfire about what should be done to change the world.
Jack’s closest friend and the most timid of the group was a girl they called Sleepy Jean. She was allergic to something in the forest, her eyes were droopy and she frequently yawned. The “trail name” was given to her by the group, but it was deceptive. She was shy in social situations and when alone avoided confrontations. She carried herself in a way that hid her from the observation of strangers around her. Like most people living in the woods as wild children she would remain unnoticed until you smelled her unwashed body and clothes. Inside her though there was a fire burning. She was highly intelligent like the others and Sleepy Jean’s mind was full of thoughts and turmoil about the world she was hiding from. She saw people with different beliefs as a challenge to her own pursuit of happiness. Though Sleepy Jean was timid she was hateful and mean. She had the most violent solutions to the countries problems and would openly suggest them at night under the stars.
There’s always the reluctant follower, and his mane was Jose. He was raised in a poor catholic family, the descendants of immigrant farm laborers. His grandparents had moved to Los Angeles during World War 2 to work in the factories. They stayed there as the neighborhoods of small bungalows became poor and ruled by gangs in the following decades. Jose was born in Los Angeles’s William Mead housing project in 1992 among the chaos of riots and racial hatred. He was close to his family and never joined the gangs or entered the drug trade. He grew up as an intelligent young man in an urban war zone that stifled his chances of achieving the American dream. He met his friends online while researching ways to escape the yoke of poverty and head out on his own. The ideas he heard from Sleepy Jean made his stomach sick. He saw America as a desperate evil land that had abandoned the teachings of Christ and wondered if maybe there was no other path than violence.
The trio liked getting gigs in which they could all participate. They worked concerts, handed out fliers on street corners, worked on farms. During political campaigns they volunteered to hand out fliers and put up yard signs. There weren’t very many politicians that they would support, but California is a diverse state where porn stars and action stars have run for governor. They only made a few dollars in tips for gas money and that was okay for a minimalist life style. One day after delivering signs for a failing politician, Sleepy Jean started noticing all the conservative signs in a more affluent neighborhood. Sleepy Jean thought, these smug assholes exploiting the poor and then advertising the politicians who permit their actions. She wanted to do something about it but what? They’d stolen signs before but they always go back up. She started brainstorming ideas as they headed back to their home in the hills. As they climbed the windy roads her ideas grew dark and sinister. A normal person would keep these thoughts to themselves, Sleepy Jean couldn’t wait to share. It was date night with Jack and she decided that he needed to hear her brilliant new idea to fix the world.
That night as the couple sat under the stars eating wild strawberry and drinking homemade wine, Sleepy Jean told Jack of the evils the rich commit. She explained how the rich have no morals but only see a bottom line and things they want. She lectured on how people with that much wealth only gain it by committing and condoning great atrocities on the planet and its people. She told Jack that unless people did something just as horrible to fix it the world would be a ruined wasteland. Sleepy Jean felt that they had to be violent and heartless in their actions. She told of how they all new where these people lived and had been welcome on their properties. That with the upcoming elections over the next year they would be interacting with these deviants and it was their duty to take them out while they had the chance. Attempts have been made before she explained to stop evils. There was John Brown at Harper’s Ferry, The assassination of Julius Caeser on the senate floor, and Spartacus’s slave rebellion. Jack argued that they all failed and most of the participants were executed but he still wondered about their lasting effects. His ego liked the idea of being remembered by history as a hero martyr. The odd couple fell asleep next to their smoldering campfire with dreams in their heads of violence and fame and a world with justice.
Near morning a strong wind blew in from the coast and stirred the embers in the dreamers fire. The woods were quiet and nobody woke. A minimalist life style in the forest is tiring and people sleep deeply, even more so when drinking wine. Jack awoke to a distant screaming from the direction of his camp and surrounded by a blistering heat and blinding light. Sleepy Jean was lying next to him in a cocoon of melted fleece burned beyond recognition. He died shortly after choking on the toxic white smoke of burning grass, his last thoughts were of envy and hate towards the wealthy.
Days later volunteer fire fighters found three charred corpses near what they described as a bum camp. There was nothing left that could identify them. No tax records, receipts, pictures, keepsakes, truly nothing. The fire they caused burned right up to the excessively watered lawns of the mansions they felt so much hate for. The only fatalities were there own and the beautiful forest they had inhabited. There would be no memorial or toasts to the trio that history wouldn’t know existed.