This was a quick one hour flash as usual inspired by Chuck Wendig’s great prompts here based on the names of some apple varieties. I cheated and chose names that I liked the look of, as opposed to random ones…
Black Amish at first suggested to me maybe an Amish community descended from runnaway slaves, or maybe Black radicals who had taken shelter in the Sixties. But I just couldn’t think how to fit them in to the story in a short period of time.
Luckily just yesterday I watched ‘A Most Wanted Man’ a brilliant Anton Corbijn film starring Philip Seymour Hoffman in a fantastic performance as head of a secret security team working outside the law in Germany. That also tied in with ideas I’ve had recently about how all states, even quasi or illegal ones (maybe more so) need security and intelligence agencies…
“You know J.Edgar himself was convinced our people were dirty commies. At one time COINTELPRO had up to ten agents working full time in Lancaster County alone.”
Carter grinned. “I can imagine him now, ‘those damn Penn Dutch, preaching humbleness and equality, sharing the burdens without rancour. Calling themselves the Plain Folk, What the fuck?’” It was a perfect Hoover accent.
Jebediah took another sip of his milk and sat back in the creaky old high back chair. “It wasn’t the first time we needed to organise to protect ourselves against an existential threat but it was the first time we realised the English could and would destroy us if they had the chance, if it suited them.”
The older man put his big hands on his narrow pointed knees and pushed himself up. “Let me show you something.”
Carter put his empty glass down and stood as well. Jebediah clumped across the bare boards in his oversized black boots. He reached the simple wooden dresser and took hold of an earthenware jug on the top shelf pulling towards himself slightly. There was a scraping noise and the dresser slid to one side. Carter was impressed.
Behind the dresser the simple Amish home had an extra room. It was crammed with electronic equipment, monitors, keyboards, server towers, rows of blinking lights. There were two comfortable and modern office chairs in the middle of the little overstuffed and windowless room.
Jebediah dropped into one of the chairs and swung it round so he could tap a sequence of commands out on the nearest keyboard. “Look at this. This is our current main operation.” A monitor flickered into life. A grainy image the angle suggesting a camera in a roof beam of what was obviously a typical Amish barn.
“This is a key exchange point for dealers from two neighbouring areas, in our community.”
Carter knew about the Amish drug problem of course. It was not a surprising phenomenon, what would you expect a relatively peaceful, outwardly naïve community with money an easy journey from Philly and Baltimore.
Jebediah turned back round and looked up at Carter.
“So Daniel, you are our new liaison officer. As I’m sure Deputy Director Kowalski told you, we always have one. But I know Martin always likes this bit to be a surprise.”
“So as I was saying about COINTELPRO, when the elders found out about it, they decided that our traditions, our way of life was under threat, and that only be working outside our rules could we defend ourselves. You know about the Rumspringa right? You’ve done your research? At least read up on Wikipedia before you came here?”
Carter nodded again. “Of course, I wrote a dissertation on the Pennsylvania Dutch in college.”
Jebediah stroked his whiskers thoughtfully and nodded approval. “ What you won’t have found out about is the Rumspringa Raiders, the Black Amish. We’re a small team authorised by our elders to use whatever methods we deem necessary within US and state laws to protect our way of life. We deal with existential threats, that cannot otherwise be dealt with by our leaders. We are in the unfortunate position, given our beliefs of essentially being a state within a state. All states need people who are trained and prepared to defend their security, and to gather intelligence to assist that work. The Black Amish do that for our people.”
Carter dropped into the other office chair. Wow. He hadn’t expected this. Being the liaison officer for the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations to the Amish community at large suddenly sounded a lot more interesting.
Jebediah continued. “Now at first the threats we dealt with came from the Federal Government, but since those dark days we have established a good working relationship with the State Police at least. The local forces don’t know about us, most of our work is internal now, and we can’t trust local deputies and constables not to run their mouths off.”
“So what is the biggest problem you face now?” Carter leaned forward in his chair.
“Well apart from the drugs, and the organised crime that comes with them. This.”
Jebediah turned back to the array of equipment and punched in a code to a little number pad. This brought up a display on another screen. It showed a grainy recording of a man in plain folk clothing leaning over a desk spread with paperwork taking photos of it with a smartphone.
“Hmm, doesn’t look like kosher equipment to me” Carter said.
The tall thin man next to him raised an eyebrow. “No it don’t does it? This man has been working in one of our leading dairy farms for the last few years. Do you know how much the industry is worth to us?”
It was a rhetorical question, but Carter knew the figures were high.
“Well industrial espionage is a real problem, and the opposition are not just using outsiders. We think this man was recruited while he was out among you English. We’ve been watching him for a while because we want to catch his controller. And we need your help to do that.”