Missing/Murdered/Disappeared: Vanished from East Texas, 2000-2020
Hello friends. Per a request, here is a running list of those who have gone missing in East Texas. As a journalist in this area, these are the individuals I have noticed as part of the missing groups I frequent. Please feel free to direct me to more. As it is my line of work, I care deeply. Some of these individuals I know about, some I do not know much about. There are many more, but this first post is just the time range of 2000-2020. I will do other time periods if there is interest, although older cases are harder to track. They are organized alphabetically. Albright, Alwin- last seen 7/6/19 walking away from his home on Scott Street in Gilmer in Upshur County. He is 74 years old with grey hair and blue eyes. He’s 5’10” and 250 pounds. He was last seen wearing a red shirt and blue jeans. Mr. Albright has medical issues and is without the medications he needs. There is a $1000 reward for information regarding his whereabouts. Anyone with information should contact the Upshur County Sheriff. Alvarado, Eric “Slow”- Last seen 11/20/18. Disappeared from Atlanta, Texas, he is 6’5” and 180 pounds. He was 32 years old, and now would be 34. He was last seen wearing camouflage pajama pants, a white t-shirt, and a gray zip-up jacket. He also may have the glasses he was wearing. He has tattoos on his arms, chest and neck. There is a $10,000 reward for information on his whereabouts. Anyone with information should contact the Atlanta, TX police. Birdwell, Jerrod- Last seen 1/6/14. Missing from Tyler, Jerrod was 17 at the time he disappeared. His height is listed as 5’5” and weight as 170 pounds, but he may have grown. He is white, with short black hair and brown eyes. There are no more details available about him. Anyone with information should contact the Smith County Sheriff. Boehm, Frederick “Lil Joe” Joseph- Last seen 1/25/01. 6’0”, 130 pounds, white male with hazel eyes and brown hair missing from Marshall. He has a rebel flag tattoo on his upper arm. His sister Jolene is searching for answers and offering a $5000 reward. Anyone with information should contact the Harrison County Sheriff. Cannon, Heather Danielle- Last seen 8/27/09. The 15-year-old disappeared from Athens, Texas. Authorities believe she left of her own accord, and she was last seen in the company of her biological father, Jerral Allen Whitley. Whitley refused to take a polygraph test after Heather's disappearance and was later incarcerated in Florida for drug offenses and grand theft. He was imprisoned for 18 months before being released in October 2014. Police have since completed excavations of a property on County Road 4837, near Larue. Anyone with information should contact the Henderson County Sheriff. Childress, Antoinette Renee- Last seen 10/13/15. Missing from Henderson at her trailer home. About a month before Childress went missing, her sister, Patricia Nichols, began receiving strange Facebook messages from her. The first message said there was an emergency and Childress needed her phone number. Three weeks later Nichols got another message that just said "Sister where are I, what's going on." On October 6, Nichols got a voice message from Childress's Facebook account. The message said something about guardian angels, but the voice wasn't Childress's. Nichols left home after that and didn't return until November 6, by which time Childress was missing. Two women contacted Nichols after Childress's disappearance and said they knew what had happened to her. The women stated Childress had been involved in using and selling drugs, and gotten some bad people angry, and was tortured and killed as a result. This information has not been verified. Childress was seeing Felipe Villanueva at the time of his disappearance. He is considered a person of interest in her case and has multiple warrants for his arrest on drug-related charges and driving without a license. His current whereabouts are unknown and it's unclear whether he's still in the area. A few days after Childress was reported missing, police found her car being driven by a man in Henderson. He was arrested on an unrelated charge, and stated Childress had sold him the vehicle, something her family finds difficult to believe. Childress has a warrant out for her arrest, but she's considered a missing person rather than a fugitive. Childress had just gotten off probation at the time and was trying to clean up her life. Her case remains unsolved and foul play is suspected. Anyone with information should call the Henderson County Sheriff Combs, Donnie “Bon Jovi” and Cynthia Arnold (went missing together)- The pair was last seen 9/26/18 in Linden, near Atlanta, Texas in Cass County. Combs called Arnold and asked her to come pick him up in Cass Countyand she left home to do so. A little while later she contacted her mother and said Combs hadn't arrived and she was still waiting at the meeting spot. Neither of them has ever been heard from again. A few days after they were last seen, Arnold's truck was found abandoned and burned in Marion County, Texas. While Kevin Dewayne Shepard Jr. and his uncle, Gary Edward Shepard were charged in Oct. 2020 with capital murder of the pair, their bodies have never been found. They face the death penalty if convicted. Anyone with information should contact the Cass County Sheriff. Culberson, Larry- Last seen 9/4/13. Larry went missing from his home on County Road 4320 in Emory. Larry had been having some medical issues shortly before his disappearance. Larry was last known to be wearing camouflage-style gray pants, a white T-shirt and he might be wearing high-top tennis shoes. He was 56 at the time of his disappearance. An extensive search was conducted in the area without any result. His medical condition causes him to walk with a limp. Anyone with information should contact the Rains County Sheriff. Dunn, Hartford Hunter- Last seen 8/5/04. Vanished from his home in the 200 block of Private Road 4002 in Marshall in the early morning hours, his daughter said she woke up at 7:30 a.m. and found the door open and her father gone. At 76 years old, he was in the beginning years of dementia. He has not been seen since. Anyone with information should contact the Marshall Police. Flint, Kimberly Carter- Last seen 9/29/18. Kim’s car was found partially crashed and abandoned in the roadway of State Highway 154 near the rural community of Rekaw, in Rusk County. Her purse ID, as well as other possessions, were at her home, according to Kim’s son James. Picture evidence of the wreck shows damage to the front and side panel of the grey four-door sedan. "The vehicle it was found still in the roadway partially crashed," her son said. "She just wasn't there." Two searches, both immediately after the crash and 170 days later, turned up nothing. A witness believes he saw her speaking with someone in a white pickup truck, but as any local knows… there are a lot of white pickup trucks in East Texas. Kim was featured on “The Vanished Podcast.” Anyone with information should contact the Rusk County Sheriff. Farrell, Justin Kyle- Last seen 05/11/04. Farrell disappeared from Nacogdoches, Texas. In March 2015, his skeletal remains were found near Cushing in Nacogdoches County, Texas. They were identified in April 2015. Farrell's death remains under investigation and has not yet been ruled a homicide. Anyone with information should contact the Nacogdoches County Sheriff. Fleisher, Steven Miller- Last seen 9/14/16. Missing from Troup, he was last seen around 6:15 a.m. in the 1200 block of Noble Street. Police say Fleisher did not take any of his belongings with him and his family has been unable to contact him. He was 53 years old at the time of his disappearance. Anyone with information should contact the Smith County Sheriff. Flores, Lydia- Last seen 10/11/20. Reported missing on Oct. 19 by her Shreveport, LA boyfriend, who said he had not heard from her since Oct. 11. She is a 40-year-old Hispanic female, and has two tattoos: a barbed wire on her bicep and a playboy bunny on her lower back. She is 5’1” and 115 pounds. She has brown eyes and auburn hair. She is from Longview, but anyone with information should contact the Shreveport Police Department. Franklin, Johnny William- Last seen 10/21/08. The black male, 5'9" tall and 150 pounds was last seen in Tyler. His vehicle was located in a church parking lot at 3009 N. Grand Ave. on October 21, but police said they saw no signs of foul play. He was 53 at the time of his disappearance. Anyone with information should contact the Smith County Sheriff. Gallegos, Veronica- Last seen 01/11/05. Missing from Gun Barrel City at the age of 19, Her live-in boyfriend said she packed a suitcase and left; he speculated she'd returned to her native Mexico. She has never been heard from again. Gallegos left behind her purse, her Mexican identification and her six-month-old child. Her boyfriend is considered a person of interest in her case and has stopped cooperating with investigators. Foul play is possible in her disappearance, but few details are available in her case. Anyone with information should contact the Henderson County Sheriff. Gipson, Tyress- last seen 8/22/20. Missing from Jacksonville, Texas in Cherokee County, Tyress had just turned 18 and graduated. He is 6’0” and weighs 180 pounds. He has tattoos of the name “Lavance,” “BG$” and prayer hands. He is an African American man, wears his hair in dreads, and has braces. Anyone with information should contact the Jacksonville Police Department. Gutierrez, Marquita Leanna- Last seen 11/11/19. Some report her as missing out of Canton, while others report her as missing out of Wood County. Marquita Gutierrez was reported missing after borrowing her mom's pickup that morning to go to a doctor's appointment, but the doctor's office said she never showed up. Her husband told police she was last seen in the Dallas area and was possibly heading toward Laredo. Her husband has been named a person of interest in her case. Anyone with information should contact the Wood County Sheriff Hunt, Shirley Mae- last seen 6/17/07. Missing from Henderson, Shirley was last seen walking on County Road 454 near her home in rural Rusk County. She had alzheimers at the time of her disappearance. She is 5’4”, 140 pounds with hazel eyes, white hair and a partial denture plate. She wears eyeglasses with a gold wire frame, and was 72 at the time of her disappearance. Sheriff’s deputies believe she got in someone’s car, due to scent dog tracking. Anyone with information should contact the Rusk County Sheriff. Jackson, Cole Duane- last seen 07/13/06. Missing from Timpson, Jackson was last seen near FM 1645 and CR 4230. The truck he was driving came out of a private pasture and rammed into a fence. He stopped and spoke to the elderly man who owned the land. Jackson apologized and said he would pay $120 for the damage, but said he had to run to get away from the "bad people" who were chasing him. He abandoned his Dodge half-ton pickup with minor damage and left his two inhalers, which he needed, in the vehicle. The driver’s side door was open and the truck was still in four-wheel drive. Jackson's wife was three months pregnant with their first child at the time he went missing. Anyone with information should contact the Shelby County Sheriff. Lee, Anthony Tyrone- last seen 6/25/11. Anthony was planning to go to the rodeo with his mother on the evening of June 25. When his mother came to pick him up for the rodeo, she found his home deserted. The ironing board was set up with the clothes Lee had planned to wear to the rodeo. His pants were on the ironing board with one leg dangling, as if he'd been interrupted while ironing and left in a hurry. His mother said he would not leave the house in his “house shoes” (a very East Texas thing lol) and he had $600 untouched in his bank account. About three weeks after Lee was reported missing, his mother got strange phone calls. A "death song" played on the line, then someone said, "that's what he gets for snitching." His mother noted that he had been associated with a known drug dealer and this person had wrecked Lee's car about a week before Lee disappeared. Anyone with information should contact the Texas Department of Public Safety (State Troopers). Marshall, Kimberly Ann- last seen 3/17/17 after she spent one night in the Salvation Army womens’ shelter in Tyler, Texas. She was never seen again. Thirty-one years old at the time, Kimberly had cuts and scars on her arms, wrists and back. She also has upper dentures. She is 5’5” and approximately 105 pounds, although she fluctuates in weight. She has brown hair and brown eyes. Few details are available about her. Anyone with information should contact the Tyler Police Department. Martin, David Michael- last seen 1/14/10. He was a truck driver based in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, and came home to Louisiana most weekends to visit his family. On January 14, Martin called to say he wouldn't make it home that weekend because his truck had broken down. He never contacted his loved ones again. The last person known to have seen him was the mechanic in Longview, Texas whom Martin took his truck to for repairs. They had dinner together, then Martin said he was going to wait on a friend to get truck parts. The mechanic left to do more work on the truck. Martin has never been heard from again. Anyone with information should contact the Sand Springs Police. Martinez, Gregoria Jacobo- last seen 8/13/09. Martinez was last seen in Nacogdoches. She was born in Mexico and was living in the United States without documents at the time of her disappearance. Her two young children, both of whom are U.S. citizens, and they were visiting their grandmother in Mexico when Martinez disappeared. She had asked the father of one of her children for money to help bring her children home from Mexico. He agreed to meet her and lend her money shortly before she disappeared.Martinez planned to go to the Nacogdoches County courthouse on July 13 to pick up copies of her children's birth certificates, but she never arrived there. She has never been heard from again. She was reported missing on July 16. That same day, her vehicle was found abandoned on the side of County Road 525, near the intersection of U. S. Highway 59 south. There were no obvious indications of a struggle at the scene. Martinez may have gotten a ride south with a truck driver in order to find her children; however, her family never saw her. Both the fathers of her children have been questioned and neither of them have been named as suspects. Authorities believe Martinez was taken against her will. Anyone with information should contact the Texas Department of Public Safety (State Troopers). Marquez, Erin Raquel- last seen 8/30/14. The 17-year-old disappeared as she was leaving the Longview Baptist Church in Hallsville, near Longview. She has long dark hair that was dyed red, and 5’6”, 130 pounds, and has brown eyes. Anyone with information should contact the Harrison County Sheriff. McKay, Melissa Darling- last seen 6/10/11. At 1:35 a.m., Melissa walked out of the Choctaw Casino in Grant, Oklahoma with a white male companion, Jeremy Upchurch, of Lamar TX and was never seen again. Upchurch continues to be a person of interest due to his criminal background. Properties in Oklahoma, Delta and Lamar counties were searched, but came up empty. I can’t find an independent source to corroborate, but a personal conversation I had with law enforcement indicates they have found her vehicle in Oklahoma and presume she is dead, possibly due to drug involvement. Anyone with information should contact the Hopkins County Sheriff or Sulphur Springs Police. Meadows, Beverly Lofton- Last seen 12/26/08. Beverly walked away from the Community Cares Nursing Home in the 200 block of west Merritt Street in Marshall, Texas and has never been seen again. Meadows had lived in the nursing home for about six years prior to her disappearance. She was supposed to wear an identification bracelet that would have activated the nursing home's door alarms, but she took it off before she left. She left without taking any personal belongings. Her mother, who lives 15 miles from the nursing home, believes Meadows was trying to walk to her residence. She was 48 years old at the time of her disappearance, 5’3”, and 240 pounds with short brown hair. She requires daily medication, and she doesn't have her medicine with her. Anyone with information should contact the Marshall Police. Morton, Sheila- last seen 6/2/14. Missing from Center, Texas, Sheila’s behavior and personality changed drastically in the weeks leading up to her disappearance, according to her mother Joan. She had recently quit a restaurant job she had for seven years, moved out of her residence, and began hanging out with an old group of friends. Additionally, the last purchase Sheila was known to make was for a 9mm handgun, which was left behind when she disappeared. She was last seen at her ex-boyfriend’s house. Her phone was turned off the same day she vanished, and she has never been seen or heard from again. Sheila’s family members do not believe she would voluntarily leave her son behind. Anyone with information should contact the Angelina County Sheriff. Pierce, Ashley- last seen 3/10/20. Disappeared from the Longview area, she is 5’3” and has a Hello Kitty tattoo on her thigh and a scorpion on her shoulder. She has long brown hair. Anyone with information should contact the Gregg County Sheriff. Salazar, Rosemary “Rose” Rodriguez- Last seen 10/6/19. Attended a family birthday party at the Golden Corral in Kilgore, and was supposed to report to work the next morning at the Kilgore Walmart, but no-show, no-called. She has several distinctive tattoos, including a heart with a fishing hook, a deathly hallow, and the inscription “my person” next to a rose. She is a 5’4”, 185 pound Hispanic woman with brown eyes and brown hair, and it is not known what she was wearing when she disappeared. Her lime green 2014 Chevrolet Sonic is also missing. Anyone with information should contact the Gregg County Sheriff. Stewart, Harry Edward- Last seen 11/30/11. Harry was traveling from Springtown, Texas to Alabama and was last seen in Hallsville, Texas. His age was 65 and he is white, 5’10”, and weighs about 170 pounds. Sheriff’s deputies determined he was driving when he hit something and had to leave his vehicle after his radiator overheated. Harry told the responding officer he would wait at the Dairy Queen on Farm-to-Market Road 450 near mile marker 604 for a ride. He was never seen again. Thompson, Lauren Colvin- Last seen 1/10/19. At 1:53 p.m., Lauren made a frantic but coherent call to her mother. At 2:01 p.m., Lauren called 911 and told Panola County dispatch she was being followed. The call lasted for 21 minutes before disconnecting. Lauren’s family says it “abruptly ended,” police say the “cell phone died.” Lauren’s phone and shoe were found in the Rock Hill community, a rural area with less than 200 residents and more than 2000 acres of woods. A search by multiple law enforcement agencies turned up nothing. A $10,000 reward is offered for information on Lauren’s whereabouts. Anyone with information should contact the Panola County Sheriff. Tidwell, James “Jimmy” Lamar- Last seen 2/15/12. Family members found his rural cabin in Rusk County abandoned, and later found his vehicle abandoned on Farm Road 95, approximately five miles from his home, without a battery. "I do not believe for one minute that he left this property of his own free will," his sister Lynn Akin said. The road was a route he took frequently. He was 58 at the time of his disappearance. The truck showed no signs of foul play, according to Sheriff’s deputies. Anyone with information should contact the Rusk County Sheriff. Valdovinos, Gustavo Baldovi- Last seen 7/11/12. Missing from his maternal aunt's home on Houston Street in Tyler. He told his family he was an alcoholic and had decided to go into treatment, and he left with a group of people who promised to get him some help. The group he left with is described as a Caucasian male and two Caucasian females driving a white Chevrolet Z71 or Silverado pickup truck. Anyone with information should contact the Smith County Sheriff. Wells, Brandi- Last seen 8/3/06. Was leaving the Graham Central Station nightclub in Longview at around 12:30 a.m. Her damaged car was found on Interstate 20 near the Brownsboro exit with her personal belongings inside. She was wearing rust-colored gaucho pants and a floral tube top, and is 4’11, 130 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes. She was 23 in 2006, she would be 36 now. She was featured on Investigation Discovery’s “Disappeared.” Anyone with information should contact the Henderson County Sheriff. Witt, Jana Mann- last seen 8/17/05. Missing from Glen Rose in Somervell County, Ms. Witt displayed personality changes several weeks prior to her disappearance. She has also gone by the names Jana Holstin, Jana Howard and Jana Branch. She was 44 years of age at the time of her disappearance, and 5’3”, 160 pounds with blue eyes and dyed red hair. The missing persons database notes that foul play is possible. Anyone with information should contact the Somervell County Sheriff. Sources: News reports, Charley Project, Missing Eight East Texas and more https://www.news-journal.com/news/local/police-searching-for-husband-of-missing-wc-woman/article_7c5144ee-8434-5e12-9829-360d060c510a.html https://www.ketk.com/news/vanished-hartford-hunter-dunn/ https://www.panolawatchman.com/news/still-no-answers-in-lauren-thompson-case-a-year-after-she-went-missing-from-panola/article_07d707bc-4d15-11ea-8c84-af4fb2d30b79.html
I returned my Model Y back to Tesla - Full Story/Details
I have been hesitant to post my experience on this subreddit, but ultimately decided this information should be shared with the community. I have added some more details from another post to help outline the facts. As the title states I returned my Model Y PUP back to Tesla Monday. This was mainly due to safety concerns and poor customer service. I will try and keep my recap short, but there are several items to cover... I took delivery Friday June 5th in Kansas City (Delivery Center that was assigned). On my way home to Oklahoma City, about half way, I heard some noise from under the car. I pulled over to find the front aero piece hanging down and not attached. I see that I am a mile from a Casino parking lot (in the middle of nowhere Kansas) and decide to limp it there to evaluate further. That mile I could hear terrible noises coming from the front, but I didn't want to be on the shoulder of the interstate dealing with this, so I slowly made it to that parking lot. I call Tesla Roadside and am given the option to drive it back to Kansas City for service or have it towed. They tell me that the towing option would be covered only if the issue is deemed to be a warranty item. If they find its a warranty item I can work on being reimbursed. At this point I had the car for 48 hours and driven 250 miles. I had not hit anything or gone over any rough terrain. I felt confident that this would be a warranty issue. So, in order to avoid any further damage to the vehicle, I opted for the tow and thought I would get this worked out at the service center. I had it towed to the Kansas City service center Sunday night. An interesting point to note is that there was miscommunication with the tow truck company, and the tow truck driver was told that Tesla paid for the tow in full, so I wouldn't have to sign anything or pay. I asked the driver a few times to confirm, and figured maybe if they find that it wasn't a warranty issue they add it to my service invoice (my first Tesla and Service Experience). The next day (Monday) after finding accommodations in Kansas City for the night, I arrived at the service center in the morning to make sure everything was handled. Explained what happened, they apologize profusely and say they will take a look. After letting them work on it for a few hours, I hear nothing, but since I don’t live in Kansas City and have nothing to do, I decide to wait at the Tesla center. My advisor comes out and says the car is ready to drive, but since they don’t have parts they have just secured it to be “driveable.” No estimates on when they can get parts (I expected that) and we would address it as soon as they are available. He then tells me this absolutely is covered under warranty because the bolts were not secured properly and it wasn’t done right at the factory. So, I am glad to hear this, but seriously concerned by the oversight. My advisor then tells me I am responsible for the $1,100 tow truck bill. I am initially confused because the car could not be driven without causing more damage. I wasn’t close to any store where I could buy supplies to tape it up, and I don’t want to be blamed for more damage. They tell me I can contact Tesla corporate myself and plead my case, but not to expect much. Disappointed about this outcome, I decide to leave the store to try and get some answers from corporate. I spend the next hour trying to get through to a real person which shockingly is more difficult than I thought it would be. I was only able to get a hold of someone by using roadside assistance. I tell the situation to the agent and the agent confirms that “if the repair was covered under warranty then the tow should be included in that claim”. So basically this issue is with the service center and not corporate according to them. So my 3rd trip to the service center starts with them completely agreeing that this is a warranty repair. I then tell him that Tesla customer service on the phone said that if it’s a warranty repair then the towing should be covered. He agrees, but says management won’t budge. I say I will need this to be resolved because this is my 3rd trip here and the tow truck driver is calling my phone for payment. After a long back room discussion they tell me Tesla WILL pay for it, they just don’t know if the Service Department or Roadside Assistance group will be paying it. I also find out the long delays are because all of this is being done by email... They don't have a number to call someone about it. That seems like an impossible way to get anything done in a timely manner, but that what I was told... At this point I am upset that this has been so difficult and wasted my entire day, and being an out of town customer looks like it will be a nightmare. I was only able to get this far because I stayed in Kansas City an extra night and took off work. I tell them I am returning the car and want to start that process. I think they were shocked and I was told this was the first time any customer had done this (at their location). I loved the car, I love Tesla and still do. I just can’t deal with this type of stuff in the future. I can update everyone on the return process as it continues. All they had me do Monday was sign a “Return Declaration” and hand them the keys. Haven't heard a word from anyone else at Tesla since yesterday at the store. I just hoping to get some confirmation that my refund is in process. TL;DR - I bought a Tesla Model Y 2 days ago. A manufacturing defect caused me to be stuck 2 1/2 hours from home. Tesla covered the repair under warranty but refused to pay the $1,100 tow truck bill. With some of the delivery issues, this warranty repair, and the terrible customer service it made me rethink this purchase and I walked away. Still like Tesla, but will wait until things are more ironed out. Some Clarifications - the "aero piece" is different than the Model 3, it is a hard plastic cover. Some have commented that its just a fabric. On my car it would drag and flap wildly hitting underneath anytime I went over 30 MPH. - My biggest concern was voiding the warranty. I could Uber 20 miles to get some tape or remove it. However, I was unable to get any confirmation from Tesla that if I proceed with taping/removing it that it wouldn't void my warranty.- I didn't really return it due to the failure, it was more from how difficult it was to get a hold of anyone at Tesla and discuss the issue. Living in a state that does not have any Tesla locations made me realize that if I had a problem it might be a difficult thing to resolve. - My comment about loving Tesla comes from all the things they are trying to accomplish. The car had very little issues (no more than any other new car I had purchased). I know there are some that are in terrible shape and there is no excuse for that. The car was great, and amazing to drive. They really just lost me on the on going support. Edit: Some have asked for proof - https://imgur.com/a/LvHqk82 - This is the return document signed. It is not an early build for anyone tracking the VINs. The door listed a production date of May 2020, post factory shutdown. Edit 2: A picture of the damage and panel - https://imgur.com/a/gLoZkms - The wind would catch this panel and it would hit the car and drag on the ground. My understanding is that the Model Y has a slightly different part than the older Model 3's that were using a fabric composite. I was not close to a store to complete my own repair, and no way to get a hold of Tesla and confirm my own temporary repair wouldn't void the warranty. Regardless, I was disappointed this part wasn't secured properly at delivery. I did not hit anything, you can see the front lip and the rest of the underside has not scrapes or damage. Update 1: Just had a call with a Tesla employee at the Kansas City location. He confirmed that my return is in process and I should expect funds back in 15-20 days. He was very nice and professional, but couldn't offer any more information on if my situation will be reviewed by Customer Service leaders at the company.
Shu Ming Leung (Shu is just fine), Lucky Child of Tyche
||Audentis Fortuna uivat, baby. ||
General Name: Shu Ming Leung (No, Ming is not their middle name.) Gender: Non-Binary; they/them Sexuality: Asexual Birthday (in case anyone wants to get them a present): 23 July, 2018 Birthplace: Thackerville, Oklahoma Languages: Greek, Latin, English, Cantonese, Alignment: chaotic neutral Hobbies: Making bets with whoever's feeling lucky , sleeping, vaping, and researching about whatever they are currently hyperfixated on Ailments Disabilities and disorders: Dyslexia, ADD, addiction, moderate depression Family Mommy dearest: Goddess Tyche; Lady of chance, providence, and fate Father: Li Jun Leung Appearance Height: 5'5", but slouches until they are 5'3.5" Eyes: Dark brown, sometimes mildly bloodshot, but no one can ever determine if it's from weed or crying Hair: Thick, wavy cinnamon brown hair, kept short and loose Skin tone: Warm ivory Style: Shu dresses very casually most of the time; in loose hoodies, jeans, and a worn out pair of vans. They do enjoy spicing up their plain clothes with accessories they find in various places. Seldom seen without their vape pen. At CHB, they wear the standard T-shirt with a loose pair of joggers, opting for more practical running shoes. Personality Reckless and willing to do anything if someone prefaces it with "I dare you..." or "I bet you..." , rarely ever takes anything seriously with the 'rarely' put there for curtesy, sociable, and rather charming. Shu tries not to be predictable, leading them to to be friendly one day and colder the next. Aside from this, they do have moments of introversion during depressive episodes. Powers
Extreme luck. (passive)
Allows for a higher ability to dodge hits and more general opportunities; not death defying
Ability to see others' luck. (active)
Must yield complete attention to the target; appears as faded numbers above the target's head
Ability to boost the likelihood of specific outcome. (active)
Takes an immense amount of energy and concentration; does not guarantee results
Ability to change someone else's luck. (active)
A very draining ability that can increase or decrease someone's luck; a temporary measure
Backstory "See, my dad met... Her, at a casino. Call it luck, a curse, whatever you want, but it was the only time he stayed away from those places. Too bad She left me alone down here. How unlucky for me." Born to a single father with an appalling gambling addiction, Shu spent their early life neglected and left to be, essentially, raised by their wonderful neighbour and mother figure, Ms. Stephanie Davis. As they grew older, they started acting out to gain their father's attention. Despite having a child, Li Jun continued to spend his time outside of work at their local casino. His luck got worse as Shu grew up, but nothing could stop his problem. They begun to do reckless things, hoping one of these incidents will get their father to spend more than an hour at a time with them. They tried drugs, shoplifting, property damage, and vandalism; unfortunately, Shu's impeccable luck kept them away from serious consequences. The only time anyone ever called Li Jun was when they skipped school for more than two weeks. Shu was considered a very problematic children and student due to their reckless behaviour and learning disabilities, but even that did not waver their father's attention. They are smart, at least, that is what Ms. Davis and school guidance counsellor says, they just needs to apply themselves. They are lucky, which is more accurate, so says the police. They can never seem to catch Shu or gather enough evidence to take them in for questioning. Their calling was rather late compared to their peers but, sure enough, Ms. Davis sat Shu down one evening, while Li Jun was at the Palladium. "My dear... Do you ever miss your mother?" "I mean, it's not like I ever met her. Dad doesn't even have any pictures of her." Shu slumps further down in their seat. "Just stories." Ms. Davis stood up suddenly, a look of determination crossing her face, and took off her long skirt. Underneath her stood a pair of elegant goat legs. In shock, Shu continued to sit still and simply stare. Ms. Davis trots over to her guest room with three bags. "I took the liberty to pack up your things." Ms. Davis smiled as if nothing strange is happening. "It's getting a bit hard to mask your scent." Where are they now? Shu stares at towering arch, the true start to their new life, with their expression twisted with doubt. "You know, I used to think summer camp is for kids with rich parents, but I guess it's for ones with deadbeat ones, huh?", Shu says. "Sorry. I'm kind of nervous I guess..." They take their first step into Camp Half-Blood.
The next Detroit: The catastrophic collapse of Atlantic City
With the closure of almost half of Atlantic City's casinos, Newark set to vote on gambling and casinos or racinos in almost every state, it seems as if the reasons for the very existence of Atlantic City are in serious jeopardy. Israel Joffe Atlantic City, once a major vacation spot during the roaring 20s and 1930s, as seen on HBOs Boardwalk Empire, collapsed when cheap air fare became the norm and people had no reason to head to the many beach town resorts on the East Coast. Within a few decades, the city, known for being an ‘oasis of sin’ during the prohibition era, fell into serious decline and dilapidation. New Jersey officials felt the only way to bring Atlantic City back from the brink of disaster would be to legalize gambling. Atlantic City’s first casino, Resorts, first opened its doors in 1978. People stood shoulder to shoulder, packed into the hotel as gambling officially made its way to the East Coast. Folks in the East Coast didn't have to make a special trip all the way to Vegas in order to enjoy some craps, slots, roulette and more. As time wore on, Atlantic City became the premier gambling spots in the country. While detractors felt that the area still remained poor and dilapidated, officials were quick to point out that the casinos didn't bring the mass gentrification to Atlantic City as much as they hoped but the billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs for the surrounding communities was well worth it. Atlantic City developed a reputation as more of a short-stay ‘day-cation’ type of place, yet managed to stand firm against the 'adult playground' and 'entertainment capital of the world' Las Vegas. Through-out the 1980s, Atlantic City would become an integral part of American pop culture as a place for east coast residents to gamble, watch boxing, wrestling, concerts and other sporting events. However in the late 1980s, a landmark ruling considered Native-American reservations to be sovereign entities not bound by state law. It was the first potential threat to the iron grip Atlantic City and Vegas had on the gambling and entertainment industry. Huge 'mega casinos' were built on reservations that rivaled Atlantic City and Vegas. In turn, Vegas built even more impressive casinos. Atlantic City, in an attempt to make the city more appealing to the ‘big whale’ millionaire and billionaire gamblers, and in effort to move away from its ‘seedy’ reputation, built the luxurious Borgata casino in 2003. Harrah’s created a billion dollar extension and other casinos in the area went through serious renovations and re-branded themselves. It seemed as if the bite that the Native American casinos took out of AC and Vegas’ profits was negligible and that the dominance of those two cities in the world of gambling would remain unchallenged. Then Macau, formally a colony of Portugal, was handed back to the Chinese in 1999. The gambling industry there had been operated under a government-issued monopoly license by Stanley Ho's Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau. The monopoly was ended in 2002 and several casino owners from Las Vegas attempted to enter the market. Under the one country, two systems policy, the territory remained virtually unchanged aside from mega casinos popping up everywhere. All the rich ‘whales’ from the far east had no reason anymore to go to the United States to spend their money. Then came the biggest threat. As revenue from dog and horse racing tracks around the United States dried up, government officials needed a way to bring back jobs and revitalize the surrounding communities. Slot machines in race tracks started in Iowa in 1994 but took off in 2004 when Pennsylvania introduced ‘Racinos’ in an effort to reduce property taxes for the state and to help depressed areas bounce back. As of 2013, racinos were legal in ten states: Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia with more expected in 2015. Tracks like Delaware Park and West Virginia's Mountaineer Park, once considered places where local degenerates bet on broken-down nags in claiming races, are now among the wealthiest tracks around, with the best races. The famous Aqueduct race track in Queens, NY, once facing an uncertain future, now possesses the most profitable casino in the United States. From June 2012 to June 2013, Aqueduct matched a quarter of Atlantic City's total gaming revenue from its dozen casinos: $729.2 million compared with A.C.'s $2.9 billion. It has taken an estimated 15 percent hit on New Jersey casino revenue and climbing. And it isn't just Aqueduct that's taking business away from them. Atlantic City's closest major city, Philadelphia, only 35-40 minutes away, and one of the largest cities in America, now has a casino that has contributed heavily to the decline in gamers visiting the area. New Jersey is the third state in the U.S. to have authorized internet gambling. However, these online casinos are owned and controlled by Atlantic City casinos in an effort to boost profits in the face of fierce competition. California, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Texas are hoping to join Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey and the U.S. Virgin Islands in offering online gambling to their residents. With this in mind, it seems the very niche that Atlantic City once offered as a gambling and entertainment hub for east coast residents is heading toward the dustbin of history. Time will tell if this city will end up like Detroit. However, the fact that they are losing their biggest industry to major competition, much like Detroit did, with depressed housing, casinos bankrupting/closing and businesses fleeing , it all makes Atlantic City’s fate seem eerily similar.
Vault Numbers by Location, Version 4: Hey there, fellow dwellers
At present, there are 34 Vaults accounted for in canon sources. (Where Fallout Canon is currently defined as the computer games Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout 3, Fallout 4, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 76 and the comics One Man and a Crate full of Puppets and All Roads. Cut content from completed and released games is not considered to be canon. Any other source, including unreleased games, the Fallout Bible, Fallout: The Board Game, Fallout: Wasteland Warfare and so on are also non-canon). The total number of Vaults is unknown, but assuming that the Vaults are numbered consecutively, has to be no lower than 118. (According to the Fallout Bible, which itself is non-canon, there are 122 Vaults). As such, there are a minimum of 84 Vaults unaccounted for at this time. There are a total of seventeen Control Vaults (Fallout 3 Citadel terminal entries). At present, only three of them, Vaults 3, 8 and 76, are known. Vault 79 is so far unique among the Vaults in that it is neither experimental nor is it a Control Vault. Rather, it was designed for a specific purpose (ie, to house the Federal Gold Reserve). These figures do not include Vault-like structures or unnumbered structures made with Vault-Tec components such as the Vault-Tec University Simulation Vault, Vault-Tec Among the Stars, the demonstration Vault in Los Angeles and so on. As yet, while Vaults 63 and 96 are in-game, they are not accessible. As such, nothing is known about their nature beyond their numbers and the fact that both of them are still sealed. While terminal entries for Vault 96 have been found, they are cut content and, as such, cannot be considered to be canon. It can be implied that both are experimental Vaults (Fallout 76 Appalachian Vault Registry terminal entries) but this cannot be confirmed. With five exceptions, the locations of all the explicitly named Canon vaults are known. These Vaults, 17, 29, 43, 69 and 77, are all mentioned in canon sources, but have not directly appeared as yet. Vault 17 can be implied to be in Southern California, as it was raided by the Master’s Army in 2155 (Fallout: New Vegas, Lily Bowen’s dialogue). Vault 29 is said to be on the West Coast, but its exact location is unknown (Fallout 76, Last Day of School). Vault 77 can be implied to be near the Capitol Wasteland, based on the presence of a Vault 77 suit in Fallout 3. While they are canon, there is no evidence at all for the locations of Vaults 43 and 69. Vaults 1 and 2 are featured in the Pip-Boy game Wastelad (Fallout 76). However, as this is fiction within fiction it should not be used as a reference for any details about those two Vaults. Additionally, there is at least one Vault in Oklahoma (Fallout 3, Letter from Vault-Tec). No details are known about it (or them). Wastelanders has several more mentioned-only Vaults. Penelope Hornwright’s dialogue mentions a Vault, but gives no details beyond it having a faulty door and being outside of Appalachia. As such, it can be assumed that she is not talking about Vault 63 or 96. Bruiser is said to have come from a Vault, but again without giving any information about it. Two random Camp encounters (Carla and Dino; two Soldiers), feature characters that again came from or spent time in a Vault, but without giving any details about those Vaults, including their numbers. There is no indication as to if these are all referring to a single Vault or a number of different Vaults; however, again the lack of explicit numbers suggests that they are not referring to 63 or 96. Finally, Samuel claims to be from a Vault that is “pretty far away and hidden, so you wouldn’t have heard of it”. While not explicitly stated, the implication is that he is lying about his past and is not from a Vault at all. Where this becomes interesting is when one examines the distribution of the canon Vault numbers based on the US Census regions. Those in the Western Census District (Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout: New Vegas) start from Vault 3 and go as high as Vault 34 (for a range of 31 Vaults). The Southern Census District (Fallout 3, Fallout 76) start at Vault 51 and go as high as Vault 112 (for a range of 61 Vaults). Finally, the Northeast Census District (Fallout 4) range from Vault 75 to Vault 118 (for a range of 43 Vaults). However, this distribution has some caveats. The known Vaults in the Southern Census District are all crammed into one corner of the region (West Virginia and Washington DC). Not a single known Vault is found elsewhere in the district, save for the hypothetical Oklahoma Vault(s). There is considerable overlap between the Southern and Eastern Census District Vaults, but none between the Southern and Western ones. In addition, there are no known, canon Vaults in the Midwestern Census District. While presumably some existed, no information about them exists in any canon sources. From this it can be deduced that there is a rough pattern to the Vault numbers. The lowest numbers are found on the West Coast, and the highest in the east. The pattern is consistent across all sources, with a distinct gap appearing between the highest numbered “Western” Vault (Vault 34) and the lowest numbered “Southern” Vault (Vault 51). While there is a single known Vault between the two (Vault 43), nothing is known about its location. Only two of the Vaults have in-world reasons stated for their numbering. Vault 76 was built for and named in honour of the United States Tercentenary. Vault 79 was named for the Atomic Number of Gold, since it would be housing the Federal Gold Reserve. While Vault 21 had a gambling-themed experiment and was located under a casino in Las Vegas, it has not been explicitly stated in-world if the number was a deliberate choice or a coincidence. The presently accounted for Vaults are 3, 8, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, 29, 34, 43, 51, 63, 69, 75, 76, 77, 79, 81, 87, 88, 92, 94, 95, 96, 101, 106, 108, 111, 112, 114 and 118. This list does not include the “mentioned only” Vaults with no numbers given. The presently unaccounted for Vaults are 1, 2, 4-7, 9-10, 14, 16, 18, 20, 23-28, 30-33, 35-42, 44-50, 52-62, 64-68, 70-74, 78-80, 82-86, 89-91, 93, 97-100, 102-105, 107, 109-110, 113, 115-117 and any potential vaults from 119 on up.
Howdy there partners, and welcome to the Wasteland’s finest rodeo! Down here in Texas and good old Oklahoma, things work differently from the rest of the Wasteland. Oh yes, you see here we’re a fine folk, a refined folk, the kind of people who greet you with smiles and a face-full of buckshot if you even think about whipping out your tire iron. Yes, life here is simple, rustic, and downright apocalyptic... The region in all its glory! That’s right Wastelanders, it’s time for another exciting dev diary! Today, we’re focusing on just some of the map changes and additions brought to you by the team. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll reveal more about the factions you see before you, more of our other map changes, and give you some tasty insight into the way things work past the Legion’s border.To begin with though, why don’t we delve deep into the twisted guts of the map itself, and pull back the veil on this beautiful view you’d love to call home. Aren't provinces beautiful? Every map expansion begins here, the province map. For this update, a big focus for me was returning to my roots when it came to province design. More small, organic provinces, built up into many states that a great number of nations can occupy. The new playable region brought forth in 3.0 feels as dense and lively as the West Coast, without having nearly as many provinces dotted along its shoreline. There’s a vast variety of terrain in 3.0, from jungle, to marsh, to plains, urban, and deserts. 3.0 feels and plays like a small microcosm of the larger map, an area rich with lore from a game many people don’t even know about.Before we talk about that, though, let’s take a look at the states. Dare you count all these states? If you took the arduous time to count all of that before reading, let’s see if you were right! That’s 96 new states. Oh yes my friends, that’s right, your faithful friend here didn’t stutter now, did I? We’ve got 96 new states for you to control, conquer, and explore in 3.0: and they’re full of interesting characters.Why don’t we get on to that, actually? In 3.0, we’re representing the lore of the often hated and forgotten Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, as well as it’s cancelled sequel; Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2. Many of you may have never heard about these games, let alone played the first, so it’s time for a little history lesson. After the defeat of Unity, the super mutant army of the Master fractured into many pieces. Two leaders arose from the ashes, and they led large hordes of mutants out of California to greener pastures for plunder and glory. The important one is Attis, who led his new troops to Texas, in an attempt to uncover the secrets of FEV. A brotherhood detachment had already left to face off against the first mutant general, and with Attis’ departure, another group inside the Western Brotherhood wanted to chase them down. The Council of Elders said no, fearing another disaster like that which had happened to the first group, but ultimately a splinter faction formed. It was led by none other than High Elder Rhombus, and he led a group of scribes and paladins to chase down the largest super mutant army in the West, forming what would later be known as the “Texas Expedition.”Settling into the heartland of Texas, this new offshoot developed themselves, recruiting from the local population. They ran them through a training course utilising hologram technology, turning them into initiates. One of these initiates became the protagonist of Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, and went on a large journey, tracking Attis all the way to his target destination: the Secret Vault. The Secret Vault was the holy grail for Attis, a place where the secrets of FEV were laid bare, and the secret headquarters of Vault-Tec. Built under the nose of the US, it was the control centre of all Vault-Tec infrastructure, designed to facilitate what Vault-Tec promised thousands of Americans: a safe life underground. The Vault was equipped with state of the art facilities to conduct unethical experiments, and was staffed by unique robots unlike anything the player had ever seen before, or since. Attis would eventually turn himself into a true abomination, an amalgamation of flesh and FEV, taking after the Master’s image in a final face-off against the protagonist. Thus ended Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 1. We must now go more than a hundred years into the future, a mere decade before OWB starts. The Brotherhood have consolidated their power, but outside threats are pressuring their organisation. Attis Army has split into two halves, led by two mutants respectively. Shale, a die-hard mutant supremacist who wants to reform the Army, and Keats; a super mutant who wishes to create a place in which super mutants and humans live and work together in harmony, free from oppression. But underneath the surface, a great plot is brewing. Reese, a former member of the Cyphers, a group who despise technology in all its forms, has acquired a broken GECK. This GECK has the ability to mutate anything it touches, twisting the world around it into a mockery of life itself. It is the Corrupted GECK, and Reese has big plans for it. He seeks to destroy the Texan Brotherhood, and plunge the region into chaos. The protagonist of the cancelled Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2 went across Texas, on the hunt for many things, but eventually Reese himself. They entered Lone Star, where they found evidence of his tampering, and scouts of the Legion. They travelled throughout Brotherhood territory, watching as the group was set upon by numerous raider gangs, all coordinated and persuaded by Reese. They visited Austin, where the tensions between the two super mutant factions was growing. Originally, Keats would always die. You could choose between Shale or Keats, but ultimately, he was always assassinated during a speech. But we decided that was boring. Scarlet (our protagonist of choice) saved Keat’s life, becoming bros for life in the process, and Shale was exiled from Austin alongside his goons. They then travelled, finally, to The Corpse. Within the ruins of a sunken Corpus Christi, Reese’s lair waited in the harbour, and there a final battle ensued. Everything up until now, barring Keat’s survival, is canon. Now, let’s jump into the juicy OWB fanon. Ultimately winning the fight, Scarlet took his GECK and hauled it across Texas, travelling a great distance to a remote location, far from large and established communities. She put the GECK down in what was to be its final resting place, and became its guardian and protector. Over the decade, its influence spread, creating a beautiful but deadly blood red canopy of mutant fauna, a place the natives of Texas refer to as Eden. Any and all who enter the twisted jungle without permission wind up dead, victim to the protagonist’s legendary assassination skills. So, there’s your juicy jet high of lore. Now, how about we get onto the region as a whole in OWB’s 2275? Many nations in Texas and Oklahoma, such as Carbon, Los, Shale's Army, Unity of Austin, Lonestar, the Texan Brotherhood, and others are all based in Fallout lore. Since we’re here, let’s go over them all in some more detail. Pecos: a collection of settler communities from Mexico, who primarily trade with the RRG and Las Granjas. Having struggled to maintain their independence over the last few decades, recent events have continued to destabilise their peaceful towns. Los: The Church of the Lost has recovered since the fall of the Secret Vault and the death of their old leader Blake. These survivors from Necropolis hope to live out the remainder of their days seeking nirvana within the hallowed streets of Los. Carthage: a civilised raider nation built over the ruins of Carthage, a town built atop a gigantic and largely untapped natural gas reserve. They use flame to do everything, from powering their cities to cooking their enemies alive. Carbon: The town of Carbon has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. Recently the town is on an upswing - yet there are some that worry that the raiders that once destroyed their small town may come back again. The Pursuant: a vicious hunting lodge of civilised raiders who hunt the greatest monsters the wasteland has to offer, from terrifying, legendary Deathclaws, Horrifying Mirelurk Queens, and the most exclusive game of all: man. Traders must constantly be aware, as they are always on the hunt. Unity of Austin: led by Keats, the ever charismatic super mutant politician and every man, the Unity of Austin is a staunch ally of the Brotherhood, seeking to create a Wasteland in which mutants and humans live side by side through mutual cooperation. Houston Rockets: the remnants of NASA and Houston’s entertainment industry made a deal. One side made money off of sports, and the other side used the profits to launch rockets into orbit. The Patrolmen: a group of “protectors” who patrol the I-10 religiously, fighting off raiders and outside threats, while exploiting the communities who exist under their thumb. Bayou Motors: a trader nation that specialises in, produces, and sells boats and shipping equipment to most of the Gulf. Gatormaws: a group of violent tribal communities who’ve made the Bayou their home, and make use of their extensive expertise to raid traders who sail along the Red River. Desperados: a ghoul cartel who split off the Sinaloa after a brutal coup, they’ve taken up shop in Shreveport, demanding “protection fees” from passing traders, lest they die to “local raiders.” Assassin City Rollergirls: a raider gang steeped in roller derby culture, they skate around the urban sprawl in atomic skates, cleaving heads and splitting Brotherhood power armour like tin cans. Tubeheads: a cult of raiders and engineers led by the charismatic Mr. Entertainment, the Wasteland’s only late-night variety show host. Cooking segments, raider gladiatorial combat, special guest interviews, all from the pleasure of your own home: courtesy of the Tubehead’s mandatory TV and satellite installation package. The Last Lodge: a nation of peaceful settlers, draped in masonic imagery, with an outward focus and an emphasis on community. Scrappers Compact: an alliance of territorial but loyal junkyard settlers, who make a living out of scavenging and selling valuable scrap to the outside world. Shale’s Army: a warband of first generation super mutants exclusively, led by Shale, one of Attis’s fiercest commanders. Their hatred for all non super mutants is readily apparent, and they make a living out of claiming the lives of their neighbours, ultimately aiming to rebuild Unity from the ground up. The Chained Choir: a nation of former inmates; ghouls who were subjected to testing by the US army, for research into the potential psionic implementations of FEV. The Last Patrol: a regiment of national guard who were directly exposed to a nuclear blast, and now patrol the region around their compound, fiercely protecting the rights and liberties of the communities under their charge. The Texan Arms Association: a coalition of arms barons and factories in the northern Rio Grande who never fully assimilated. Motivated by dreams of liberty and greed, they sell weapons to anyone, and have continued to destabilise the RRG’s politics since its inception. 3.0 will see the TAA exist on game start, and their association’s bid for independence may be welcomed by some of its neighbours who see it little more than prey. Painted Rock: a group of noble tribal warriors, unwavering combatants who test their young among jagged rocks, and prove their worth against the Wasteland’s toughest foes. Cypher Warband: a clan of luddites who hold a deep hatred for the old world, and in particular, the Brotherhood of Steel’s core doctrines. They’ve been fierce opponents for decades, but during the events of the cancelled Brotherhood of Steel 2, they disowned their most extreme member—Reese—who left in an attempt to destroy their archenemy once and for all. Lubbock: a settler community of ghouls and humans, attempting to work together despite their differences. Supported by the Lubbock Expedition, a military effort by Lone Star to secure the highways across Lubbock’s territory, securing their border and reaping the economic benefits of the partnership. The Ironmongers: a group of mutants who’ve taken over former TAA factories, regularly plundering their gunsmith neighbours. Unlike many other mutants, they construct massive vehicles of brutal machinery, backed up by giant guns and the strength of iron. They’re feared by many, and their iconic “Battlewagons” bring terror and destruction in their wake. Eden: lead by Scarlet, a protagonist from the protagonist of the cancelled game "Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2", who dragged Reese’s GECK from The Corpse to a remote location, to contain the spread of its taint from the outside world, and all who would covet its ruinous strength. Lone Star: the largest trade hub in Texas, all traders pass along its roads and through the gates of its capital city. Its emphasis on sustainable partnerships, justice, and profit have made it a veritable Wasteland boomtown. Texan Brotherhood: a brotherhood outfit who’s roots stemmed from a desire to crush Attis once and for all, in 2275 the Brotherhood look entirely different to their counterparts out west. Civilised, peaceful, just: they seek moral victories over material, a direction some among their ranks find fault with. The First People: the combined nations of the Choctaw, Cherokee, and Chickasaw-Muscogee Coalition have banded together in an alliance, protecting one-another from outside threats and developing their communities in a Wasteland sorely lacking hope. Many of them emerged from vaults, and they rebuilt the casinos, infrastructure, and social venues that made their little corner of Oklahoma the darling it was. In 2275, beyond New Vegas, the Big Spend is the premiere destination for tourists, traders, and soldiers looking to experience the best service in the Wasteland. Live music, tasty food, refreshing drinks, and refurbished hotels continue to entice visitors year after year. In the words of everyone’s favourite doctor, “Well, that’s all she wrote.” Our dev diary has wrapped up, and boy, what a diary it was! What did you think? Are you excited for what you’ve seen of 3.0? Got any thoughts, comments, or suggestions to share? Let us know in the comments below, or on our Discord! Mapping is a labour of love, and I love doing it. Take care during this difficult time for all of us, and stay safe and healthy!
[Lost in the Sauce] Trump admin hides Paycheck Protection program details; lawmakers benefit from loans
Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater… or a global health crisis. Title refers to: The Trump admin is blocking IGs from getting info on over $1 trillion in relief spending, including corporation bailouts. The admin is also withholding PPP info from Congress, meaning we don't know if Trump or his family took taxpayer money. Additionally, we learned that at least 4 members of Congress have benefited from PPP money, but aren't required to disclose it. Housekeeping:
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Inspectors general warned Congress last week that the Trump administration is blocking scrutiny of more than $1 trillion in spending related to the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the previously undisclosed letter, Department of Treasury attorneys concluded that the administration is not required to provide the watchdogs with information about the beneficiaries of programs like the $500 billion in loans for corporations. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin refused to provide Congress with the names of recipients of the taxpayer-funded coronavirus business loans. After criticism, Mnuchin began to walk back his denial, saying he will talk to lawmakers on a bipartisan basis “to strike the appropriate balance for proper oversight” of PPP loans “and appropriate protection of small business information.” At least 4 lawmakers have benefited in some way from the Paycheck Protection program they helped create.Politico has been told there are almost certainly more -- but there are zero disclosure rules, even for members of Congress.
Republicans on the list include Rep. Roger Williams of Texas, a wealthy businessman who owns auto dealerships, body shops and car washes, and Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, whose family owns multiple farms and equipment suppliers across the Midwest. The Democrats count Rep. Susie Lee of Nevada, whose husband is CEO of a regional casino developer, and Rep. Debbie Mucarsel Powell of Florida, whose husband is a senior executive at a restaurant chain that has since returned the loan.
Mick Mulvaney dumped as much as $550,000 in stocks the same day Trump assured the public the US economy was 'doing fantastically' amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Mulvaney unloaded his holdings in three different mutual funds, each of which is primarily made up of US stocks. The next day, the value of the mutual funds tanked.
Cases rising in many states
Good summary: There was supposed to be a peak. But the stark turning point, when the number of daily COVID-19 cases in the U.S. finally crested and began descending sharply, never happened. Instead, America spent much of April on a disquieting plateau, with every day bringing about 30,000 new cases and about 2,000 new deaths. This pattern exists because different states have experienced the coronavirus pandemic in very different ways…The U.S. is dealing with a patchwork pandemic. As of Friday, coronavirus cases were significantly climbing in 16 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington. Oklahoma is experiencing a massive increase in coronavirus cases just days before Trump’s planned rally in Tulsa. In Tulsa county itself, 1 in roughly 390 people have tested positive. Yet Trump plans on cramming 20,000 people in an event with voluntary face mask policy and no social distancing. Attendees must sign a waiver that absolves the president’s campaign of any liability from virus-related illnesses.
On Monday, Pence lied saying that Oklahoma has “flattened the curve.” As you can see at any of the resources immediately below, this is not even close to true. Over the past 14 days, the state has seen a 124% increase in cases and reports 65% of ICU beds are in use.
Tulsa World Editorial Board: This is the wrong time and Tulsa is the wrong place for the Trump rally. "We don't know why he chose Tulsa, but we can’t see any way that his visit will be good for the city...Again, Tulsa will be largely alone in dealing with what happens at a time when the city’s budget resources have already been stretched thin."
Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted that he is a victim of double standards when it comes to perception of his decision to resume campaign rallies in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, declaring that attempts to “covid shame” his campaign “won’t work!”
Resources to track increases: There are many different sites with various methods of visualizing the spread of coronavirus. Here are some that may be particularly useful this summer… Topos COVID-19 compiler homepage and graphs of each state since re-opening. How we reopen Safely has stats on each state’s progress towards meeting benchmarks to reopen safely (hint: almost none have reached all the checkpoints). WaPo has a weekly national map of cases/deaths; the largest regional clusters are in the southeast. On Monday, Trump twice said that “if we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any,” (video). Aside from the fact that cases exist even if we don’t test for them, we cannot explain the rising number of cases by increased testing capacity: In at least 14 states, the positive case rate is increasing faster than the increase in the average number of tests.
Reminder: In March Trump told Fox News that he didn't want infected patients from a cruise ship to disembark because it would increase the number of reported cases in the US. "I like the numbers being where they are," Trump said at the time. "I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault."
Fired scientist Rebekah Jones builds coronavirus dashboard to rival Florida’s… Her site shows thousands more people with the coronavirus, and hundreds of thousands fewer who have been tested, than the site run by the Florida Health Department.
Equipment and supplies
More studies prove wearing masks limits transmission and spread of coronavirus… One study from Britain found that routine face mask use by 50% or more of the population reduced COVID-19 spread to an R of less than 1.0. The R value measures the average number of people that one infected person will pass the disease on to. An R value above 1 can lead to exponential growth. The study found that if people wear masks whenever they are in public it is twice as effective at reducing the R value than if masks are only worn after symptoms appear. Meanwhile, Trump officials refuse to wear masks and Trump supporters copy his behavior… VP Mike Pence, leader of the coronavirus task force, published a tweet showing himself in a room full of Trump staffers, none wearing masks or practicing social distancing. Pence deleted the tweet shortly after criticism. A poll last week showed that 66% of likely-Biden-voters “always wear a mask,” while 83% of likely-Trump-voters “neverarely wear a mask.”
Trump’s opposition to face masks hasn’t stopped him from selling them to his supporters, though. The online Trump Store is selling $20 cotton American flag-themed face masks.
Yesterday, we learned that South Carolina Republican Rep. Tom Rice and family have tested positive for the coronavirus. Just two weeks ago, Rice was on the House floor and halls of the Capitol without wearing a mask.
Internal FEMA data show that the government’s supply of surgical gowns has not meaningfully increased since March… The slides show FEMA’s plan to ramp up supply into June and July hinges on the reusing of N95 masks and surgical gowns, increasing the risk of contamination. Those are supposed to be disposed of after one use. Nursing homes with urgent needs for personal protective equipment say they’re receiving defective equipment as part of Trump administration supply initiative. Officials say FEMA is sending them gowns that look more like large tarps -- with no holes for hands -- and surgical masks that are paper-thin. More than 1,300 Chinese medical-device companies that registered to sell PPE in the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic used bogus registration data… These companies listed as their American representative a purported Delaware entity that uses a false address and nonworking phone number. Florida is sitting on more than 980,000 unused doses of hydroxychloroquine, but hospitals don’t want it… Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered a million doses of the drug to show support for Trump, but very few hospitals have requested it.
Native American communities struggle
The CARES Act money for Native American tribes, meant to assist people during the pandemic, came with restrictions that are impeding efforts to limit the transmission of the virus. For instance, the funds can only be used to cover expenses that are "incurred due to the public health emergency." On the Navajo Nation, the public health emergency is inherently related to some basic infrastructure problems. 30% of Navajo don’t have running water to wash their hands, but the money can’t be used to build water lines. Federal and state health agencies are refusing to give Native American tribes and organizations representing them access to data showing how the coronavirus is spreading around their lands, potentially widening health disparities and frustrating tribal leaders already ill-equipped to contain the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has turned down tribal epidemiologists’ requests for data that it’s making freely available to states. A Hospital’s Secret Coronavirus Policy Separated Native American Mothers From Their Newborns… Pregnant Native American women were singled out for COVID-19 testing based on their race and ZIP code, clinicians say. While awaiting results, some mothers were separated from their newborns, depriving them of the immediate contact doctors recommend. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that state officials would investigate the allegations.
Personnel & appointees
Former IG Steve Linick told Congress he was conducting five investigations into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the State Department before he was fired. In addition to investigating Pompeo's potential misuse of taxpayer funds and reviewing his decision to expedite an $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, Linick’s office was conducting an audit of Special Immigrant Visas, a review of the International Women of Courage Award, and another review "involving individuals in the Office of the Protocol."
Pompeo confidant emerges as enforcer in fight over watchdog’s firing: Linick testified that Undersecretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao, a decades-old friend of Pompeo’s, “tried to bully [him]” out of investigating Pompeo.
Trump has empowered John McEntee, director of the Presidential Personnel Office, to make significant staffing changes inside top federal agencieswithout the consent — and, in at least one case, without even the knowledge — of the agency head. Many senior officials in Trump's government are sounding alarms about the loss of expertise and institutional knowledge. Trump’s nominee for under secretary of defense for policy, retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, has a history of making Islamophobic and inflammatory remarksagainst prominent Democratic politicians, including falsely calling former President Barack Obama a Muslim. Amid racial justice marches, GOP advances Trump court pick hostile to civil rights.Cory Wilson, up for a lifetime seat on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, has denied that restrictive voting laws lead to voter suppression and called same-sex marriage “a pander to liberal interest groups.” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has indefinitely extended the terms of the acting directors of the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service, sidestepping the typical Senate confirmation process for those posts and violating the Federal Vacancies Reform Act,
Courts and DOJ
The Supreme Court declined on Monday to take a closer look at qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that shields law enforcement and government officials from lawsuits over their conduct. Developed in recent decades by the high court, the qualified immunity doctrine, as applied to police, initially asks two questions: Did police use excessive force, and if they did, should they have known that their conduct was illegal because it violated a "clearly established" prior court ruling that barred such conduct? In practice, however, lower courts have most often dismissed police misconduct lawsuits on grounds that there is no prior court decision with nearly identical facts. The Supreme Court ruled that federal anti-discrimination laws protect gay and transgender employees. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the court’s liberals in the 6 to 3 ruling. They said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination “because of sex,” includes LGBTQ employees.
Alito, writing more than 100 pages in dissent for himself and Thomas, accused the court's majority of writing legislation, not law. Kavanaugh wrote separately: "We are judges, not members of Congress...Under the Constitution and laws of the United States, this court is the wrong body to change American law in that way."
Just days before the SCOTUS opinion was released, the Trump administration finalized a rule that would remove nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people when it comes to health care and health insurance. The SCOTUS ruling may make it easier to challenge the changes made by Trump.
The Supreme Court also declined to take up California’s “sanctuary” law, denying the Trump administration’s appeal. This means that the lower court opinion upholding one of California's sanctuary laws is valid, limiting cooperation between law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, two of the Court's conservative members, supported taking up the case. A federal appeals court appeared unlikely Friday to stop a judge from examining why the Justice Department sought to walk away from its prosecution of Michael Flynn. "I don't see why we don't observe regular order," said Judge Karen Henderson. "Why not hold this in abeyance and see what happens?" Judge Robert Wilkins told Flynn's lawyer that if Sullivan doesn't let the government drop the case, "then you can come back here on appeal."
Good read: Fiona Hill on being mistaken as a secretary by Trump, her efforts to make sure he was not left alone with Putin, and what the US, UK and Russia have in common. “It’s spitting in Merkel’s face,” said Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat who’s now a foreign-policy analyst. “But it’s in our interests.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry welcomed Trump’s plan to withdraw more than a quarter of U.S. troops from Germany.
Op-Ed: Why cutting American forces in Germany will harm this alliance
According to a new book, the Secret Service had to seek more funding to cover the cost of protecting Melania Trump while she stayed in NYC to renegotiate her prenup - taxpayers paid tens of millions of dollars to allow her to get better terms. Additionally, NYPD estimated its own costs conservatively at $125,000 a day. Georgia election 'catastrophe' in largely minority areas sparks investigation. Long lines, lack of voting machines, and shortages of primary ballots plagued voters. As of Monday night, there were still over 200,000 uncounted votes. Fox News runs digitally altered images in coverage of Seattle’s protests, Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone Fox News Mocked After Mistaking Monty Python Joke for Seattle Protest Infighting In addition to holding a rally on the day after Juneteenth (originally scheduled the day of), Trump will be accepting the GOP nomination in Jacksonville on the 60th anniversary of “Ax Handle Saturday,” a KKK attack on African Americans. Environmental news:
Ruling against environmentalists, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the federal government has the authority to allow a proposed $7.5 billion natural gas pipeline to cross under the popular Appalachian Trail in rural Virginia.
Trump administration has issued a new rule blocking tribes from protecting their waters from projects like pipelines, dams, and coal terminals.
The EPA published a proposal in the Federal Register that critics described as an assault on minority communities coping with the public health legacy of structural racism. The rule would bar EPA from giving special consideration to individual communities that bear the brunt of environmental risks — frequently populations of color.
The Trump administration is preparing to drill off Florida’s coast, but says it will wait until after the November election to avoid any backlash from Florida state leaders.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection used emergency funding meant for migrant families and children to pay for dirt bikes, canine supplies, computer equipment and other enforcement related-expenditures… The money was meant to be spent on “consumables and medical care” for migrants at the border.
ACLU files lawsuit against stringent border restrictions related to coronavirus that largely bar migrants from entering the United States.
Under Trump’s leadership, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has mismanaged its finances so badly that it has sought an emergency $1.2 billion infusion from taxpayers. When Trump took office, USCIS inherited a budget surplus. A large amount of funding is drained by its deliberate creation of more busy work for immigrants and their lawyers — as well as thousands of USCIS employees. These changes are designed to make it harder for people to apply for, receive or retain lawful immigration status.
Asylum-seeking migrants locked up inside an Arizona ICE detention center with one of the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases say they were forced to clean the facility and are 'begging' for protection from the virus
ICE plans to spend $18 million on thousands of new tasers and the training to use them
NOTE: I am new here so I don't know if this is already policy or not, but anyone messaging me rather than commenting won't be counted for first come/first serve. I'm having difficulty already in figuring who claims what first with comments, so balancing messages and chats with that further complicates things. 4K: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - $5 - MA Dr. Strangelove - $5 - MA A League of Their Own - $5 - MA Jerry Maguire - $5 - MA Gandhi - $5 - MA Lawrence of Arabia - $7 - MA Jaws - $5 - MA Parasite - $5 - MA Star Wars: A New Hope - $5 - MA Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - $5 - MA Star Wars: The Force Awakens - $5 - MA Star Wars: The Last Jedi - $5 - MA Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - $5 - MA 1917 - $5 - MA Wall-E - $5 - MA Up - $5 - MA Darkest Hour - $5 - MA Ad Astra - $5 - MA Once Upon a Time in Hollywood - $5 - MA Avengers: Endgame - $5 - MA The Prestige - $5 - MA Ford v Ferrari - $5 - MA Toy Story - $5 - MA Toy Story 4 - $5 - MA Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World's End - $10 - MA Casino - $5 - MA First Man - $5 - MA The Wizard of Oz - $5 - MA The Shining - $5 - MA Moon - $5 - MA Inception - $5 - MA Wonder Woman - $5 - MA Close Encounters of the Third Kind - $5 - MA Unforgiven - $5 - MA 3:10 to Yuma - $5 - Vudu, FN Annihilation - $5 - Vudu, FN, Apple TV Interstellar - $5 - Vudu, GP, FN, Apple TV Apocalypse Now - $5 - Vudu, Apple TV It's a Wonderful Life - $5 - Vudu, FN, Apple TV Knives Out - $5 - Vudu, GP, FN, Apple TV Arrival - $5 - Vudu, FN, Apple TV HD: Uncut Gems - $2.50 - Vudu, GP, or FN The Ladykillers (1955) - $2 - Vudu or FN Lady Bird - $2.50 - Vudu or FN The Conversation - $2 - Vudu, GP, FN, Apple TV Jackie Brown - $2 - Vudu, FN Paddington - $2 - Vudu, FN The Farewell - $2.50 - Vudu, GP, FN The Lighthouse - $2.50 - Vudu, GP, FN Dragged Across Concrete - $2 - Vudu, GP, FN, Apple TV Oklahoma! - $2 - MA Game Night - $2 - MA Paddington 2 - $2 - MA 127 Hours - $2 - MA I, Tonya - $2 - MA Parasite - $2.50 - MA Little Women (2019) - $2.50 - MA Robin Hood (1973) - $2 - MA 9 Planet of the Apes Films $8 - MA
If You See Graffiti Reading "FOR A GOOD TIME CALL:", follow this "Rule of the Road"...
The following contains a transcript from a short radio broadcast that has been picked up by various listeners across the continental United States. Many have been perplexed by its sudden appearance and how it seems to preempt whatever song or radio program they are listening to at the time. It has even been known to appear on streaming programs such as podcasts or Spotify. Listeners have described hearing different episodes and there have been many situations and incidents. A 23 year old college student named Yuvisela contacted me with her account of hearing the broadcast. She and her boyfriend had encountered the broadcast while driving one sultry summer afternoon from Austin, TX. So I have this thing with waterfalls. I’m a little obsessed with them. In my free time and when I’m not paying attention in lecture, I like to look on the internet at pictures of them and daydream that I’m there: the roar of the splashing water, the white foamy spray, my bare toes dipped into the icy spring. I’ve got a Pinterest page with hundreds of falls that I would like to visit one day. Niagara, Havasu, Victoria Falls, Gullfoss, Iguazu; they’re all on there. I keep them all catalogued for my bucket list. Yet, how many people go to the grave with their bucket list hardly finished? I bet a lot. My boyfriend, Gabriel, likes to mess with me about my obsession. He’ll come up behind me while I’m on my computer or look over my shoulder at my phone and see that I’m looking at waterfalls. “Don’t go chasing waterfalls, stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to,” he’ll sing when he catches me. It’s this old song he knows, TLC or something. He’s about six years older than me. I’ll joke with him to leave me alone and quit singing that old music, ask him if he used to listen to that on an 8-track or something. “No, my older sister listened to it on CD. You know CD’s? Those little plastic things with the holes in them? That little slot in your car’s stereo, a CD goes in there. They don’t make ‘em in the new cars anymore.” We’ve had a variation of this same conversation a bunch of times. It’s kind of a running joke between the two of us—him poking fun at my waterfall obsession and me making fun of how old he is—and while he thinks the waterfall thing is a cute little quirk of mine, he also has been supportive of my passion. That’s why he surprised me with the trip that summer. He knew that I was yearning to see some of these places. He knew that he wanted to make me happy. He knew that my resources were limited. He knew that we weren’t getting any younger; I was 23 and still had a semester to go. But he also knew that we weren’t getting any richer, either. At least not anytime soon. I know I’m a little bit older for a college student, but it’s taken me a bit longer on account of having to work and stuff. I can’t take a full load every semester. Money’s always tight. I work full time and barely stay ahead, even sending some of my money to help my mom out. Gabriel offered to help me out some and we’d even talked about moving in together, but we had only been together a year at that point and I wasn’t quite ready. Before my dad had passed, I’d promised him that I was going to get my college degree and I wanted to do it all on my own. While I loved Gabriel and could see myself marrying him, I didn’t want to deal with a transition like that so close to the finish line. Besides, we were getting along so well as it was. Why mess with a good thing? And it was a good thing that kept better. Just when I thought that I couldn’t love Gabriel more, on my birthday he surprised me with the best present I’ve ever gotten. It was a little black notebook with this kind of leathery cover. While the notebook itself was nice, it was what was inside that was the true present. At some point, he had gone onto my Pinterest page and written down page after page of waterfalls, organizing them by country and state. He had put little squares beside them, boxes to check off. The last two pages were Texas and Oklahoma. He had written a note there. It read:
“Let’s start now...” -Gabriel
* * * So far, the trip had been a blast. We had started out in Abilene where we both lived and where I attended college. From there, we went to a place called Gorman Falls at this state park. It was one of the tallest waterfalls in the state and all of the foliage and moss around it was lush and green and for a while, if I crossed my eyes just right it was like I wasn’t even in Texas. We couldn’t hit all the sites in a day. It was a road trip with multiple nights in hotels. After Gorman Falls and staying at a hotel, we headed towards Austin and stopped off at Hamilton Pool Preserve. The waterfall wasn’t as tall as Gorman, but I have to say I liked it better. The water formed a curtain as it poured off of a rocky shelf and into this sunken grotto of blue green water. We stayed at this magical place for hours, swimming in the water and soaking up the sun. I could’ve stayed longer, but it was starting to get crowded, so we headed to Austin for a night on the town on 6th Street. The next day we slept in and got a late start on the road. Lunch was at a Whataburger outside Waco. We sat and ate our food and looked at our phones. I browsed Instagram and my eyes skimmed over a gorgeous site. Yep, another waterfall. I slid my phone over to Gabriel. “Look!” I said. “Am I supposed to be looking at the butt or the waterfall?” he asked. An Instagram model was standing with her back to the camera, looking up at the water in awe. “The waterfall, silly.” “Seriously, that skinny white girl ain’t got nothing on you. Better let me take a look, just to be sure.” I stood and twirled around quickly, teasing him. “Ok, so back to the waterfall. Did you look at it?” “Yeah, it’s beautiful babe. Where was this one?” “Iceland,” I sighed. “Oh, right.” “It’s not looking good for the time being. Maybe in a few years, yeah?” “Just gotta see how the election goes. I ain’t holding my breath.” See, neither of us were U.S. citizens. We were what you call DACA recipients. Both of us had wound up in America via illegal means on behalf of our parents, back when we were kids. This was when we were too young to have any say in the matter. I can hardly remember my life before, my life back in Mexico. I grew up here, went to school here. Texas and America is the only home I’ve ever known. Gabriel, he was originally from Guatemala. His situation is more or less the same. If we were to leave the country, then we might risk not being able to get back in. You could apply for eligibility to travel if you had special circumstances, but they didn’t allow travel for leisure. We didn’t even have passports. Until then, our dreams of traveling—something we both wanted to do—were just that: dreams. There was a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Obama and that DREAM act, I’m sure you’ve heard of it. You know, the dreamers or whatever? That’s what they call us. I guess they call it that because it’s just a freaking fantasy that disappears at the slightest thing—the sunrise, your phone alarm—out of your grasp as soon as you start your day. Anyways, I applied for the DREAM act, but it hasn’t been a guarantee. We’re all stuck in a sort of limbo, waiting for the people in Washington to figure out what the hell to do with us, using us as a bargaining chip. Not Gabriel though, he didn’t apply for the act. Part of it was that he was bad about procrastinating. The other part was that he was paranoid about signing up. I told him that he was an idiot and if he blew his chance to become a legal permanent resident, then I wouldn’t follow him to Guatemala if he got deported. He told me that he didn’t trust the program, that once they had you in the system they could track you easier, keep tabs on you. Said he knew a guy that got deported this way. I told him that the guy must’ve gotten into some legal trouble, a DUI or something, to have been deported. “We’re all just one slip up from some legal trouble. Hell, some people consider us illegal right now,” he had said. It was hard to argue against that, I guess. At least he knew where he stood, didn’t have that false hope. Sometimes I think it’s the hope that gets you, makes things worse. Gabriel frowned and handed the phone back to me, looked out the window and took a sip of his Coke. I suddenly felt bad and ungrateful. Here was this amazing man that had planned out an awesome road trip just for me and I was busy looking at other far off adventures, not appreciating what I had right in front of me, the moment I was living in right now. I leaned forward and kissed him. "I don't care where I'm at as long as you're with me," I said and he smiled. What I told him just then, it was true. That didn’t mean I was going to grow complacent and quit dreaming. They did call us dreamers after all. It was one of those giant truck stops, the kind that was a little smaller than a Wal-Mart or Target, but just barely. We filled up and paced around inside and looked at the aisles and aisles of candy, the funny toys and souvenirs, and the tacky t-shirts. “Hey Yuvi, whaddaya say? It’s your size.” Gabriel asked, holding up a black t-shirt with glittery letters. “PROUD TRUCKER WIFE” it read. “Only if you get that one,” I said, pointing at a T-shirt with a semi-truck on it that read “I JUST DROPPED A LOAD”. “Eww,” Gabriel said, laughing. We both wandered around on our own. They had a huge candy section and I was looking to see if they had any vero elotes candy. I had just found a bag on a bottom shelf when Gabriel came skipping up. “We are so getting this,” he said, holding up a plastic CD case. “What is it?” “Best of the ‘90s. It’s got your song on there, see? ‘Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls.’ Can we get it? It’s only 3.99.” “Ha, ok. But only if you buy me this,” I said, handing him the candy. There was traffic from hell just south of Denton on account of construction and a car wreck or two. We were stop-and-go for what seemed like an hour. I was passenger side and Gabriel idled along. “Ok. I think now’s the time to break out this bad boy,” Gabriel said as he started tearing at the plastic wrap around the CD case. “I think this is the first time I’ve even used the CD player in this car.” “Aw hell yeah,” Gabriel said as the first song started playing. “Gettin’ Jiggy With It.” “Getting what, now?” “It’s your boy, Will Smith. Y’know the Fresh Prince? Betcha didn’t know he had a little music career.” “That guy from I Am Legend and Aladdin?” Gabriel rolled his eyes. “I guess. His older work is much better.” “Well I don’t know. You act like you're this old and wise millennial. You’re not that much older than me, y’know.” “I’m telling ya, my Gen-X sister raised me on all of this stuff. I think she was Gen-X. I don’t know the damn cutoffs. Anyways, she babysat me a lot growing up while Mama was working and stuff. She cultured my little ass. Ooh, here it is!” A new song started playing. I couldn’t help but laugh at how it started. “It sounds like porn music!” “Nah, shhhh. Shhh.” Gabriel bobbed his head along to the beat. The chorus started to worm it’s way into my head. The song was ok, I guess. I still can’t really listen to it to this day. “You gotta listen to this dope rap coming up,” Gabriel said. There was the sound of hissing and popping, wet logs burning in a fire. Whispers intermingled with the sound effects. One of the voices rose above the others and said “Listen!” harshly in Spanish, you know, “Escuchen! Escuchen!”, several times. We both looked at each other with wide eyes. The traffic crept forward slowly and Gabriel kept his hands on the wheel and I kept mine in my lap and that’s when he started to talk. It was this happy sounding older guy, talking right there on my car’s speakers. Gooood afternoon folks, Buck Hensley here with a special rush hour edition of “The Rules of the Road”. Hope ya’ll are doing alright out there while you’re idling on the clogged arteries of America’s highways and byways, breathing in those delicious exhaust fumes. I know that good ol’ Mother Earth likes to take a big fat rip of that stuff from time to time, although as of late she seems to be getting quite a contact high from that delicious Co2 and starting to feel the effects just a little too much. And yet you all keep puff-puffing and passing, never slowing down. What with your jet planes and your driving and your travel and your neverending consumption and your cow farts and whatnot. All I’m saying is that you folks might wanna slow down a bit on that stuff, because I’ve seen the end results and all I can say is that they are hilarious. But I understand if you wanna keep on keeping on and having a good time. All I can say is smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. Speaking of good times, that reminds me of today’s special “Rule of the Road”. You’re gonna want to listen to this one as it’s all about good times. Why that was Carla’s favorite sitcom for a spell there, “Good Times”. She’d watch reruns on into the night, the TV casting a pale glow that was kinda comforting across the bed, and I’d wake up to live studio laughter and her snoring softly beside me, the serene look of slumber on her face and the years I’d wasted. Gabriel and I both looked at eachother. He shrugged and reached for the stereo. I shooed his hand away. I wanted to listen to it. The voice continued. But I digress...well now, on to today’s “Rule of the Road”. If at any point during your journey you stop off for a pitstop or a potty break and you enter a public restroom to do your business, take note of the writing on the stalls. You might notice some graffiti that reads, “For a Good Time, Call” and then a phone number listed after it. If you do notice this, then take the number down for later use. Whenever you are in dire need of a good time, then give that number a call. Now before you go off with a bee in your bonnet and tell me how you ain’t gonna call no sketchy phone number taken off a lady’s or men’s room wall, let me just tell you that this will be worth it. You can trust me. When has old Bucky ever let ya down? I know what you’re gonna say next though, you’re gonna say, “Buck, I don’t ever call no numbers on my phone. I’m deathly afraid of voices on the other line. If I can’t text and send little emojis and the like, then forget it. If I can’t use an app to order Thai food or a pizza, then I go hungry that night. I haven’t even made an appointment to a doctor since I’ve lived with my parents. What if since we can’t see each other’s faces we start talking at the same time and we talk over each other and then say, ‘oops sorry, no you go ahead’ and then we both say it again at the same time and then we both start trying to talk again and then get stuck in some sort of infinite loop?” And to that I say, “fair enough.” Don’t use the phone. The consequences of not following this rule are a little less dire than previous rules you may have heard. If you don’t follow this rule then you will simply miss out on a good time. That’s it. But you wouldn’t want to miss out on anything, would ya? Welp. That’s all I’ve got on this fine late afternoon. May the wind be always at your back, your picnic basket full of snacks, and your cheese ever be pepper jack. Ya’ll stay sane out there. Stay symbiotic. Stay lonely. I'm Buck Hensley and these are "The Rules of the Road". The voice instantly stopped and the song returned playing. Gabriel had a dumbfounded look on his face. "What the hell?" he said and tried to rewind the CD. "Umm, was that part of the song? Maybe a different version?" "No way," he said and kept rewinding and playing the song over. The little skit that we heard never returned. “Weird,” I said. “Beats the heck out of me.” “Maybe the CD is haunted. That was pretty spooky, y’know? That voice telling us to listen.” “Maybe it was like a hidden track or something. They used to put those on CD’s back in the day. And this CD was pretty cheap and has all these songs on it. Could’ve been like a pirated deal.” We weren’t really scared by the broadcast or whatever it was, just more confused. It was only looking back that we saw the importance of what we had heard and how from there our path seemed to be led a certain way.. At the time it was just this weird little thing, a funny little mystery that was forgettable for the time being. We crept along for a while without incident, the traffic slowly gaining momentum. The music on the CD played on as usual and we heard no extra voices. The songs played like they were supposed to. Everything was fine. Of course, outside of Gainesville, it hit me. I had been trying to ignore it and power through until we stopped for the night, but I had the sudden urge to pee. All that slow traffic and iced tea and a bottle of water must’ve caught up with me. This was intense. Usually I could hold it pretty good, but I had to get Gabriel to stop at the first exit we saw. It was this gas station kind of off by itself and it was all dingy and old and faded and didn’t look the cleanest. Gabriel parked and my lower stomach and bladder ached as soon as I stood up and got out of the car. I burst into the place and made a beeline towards the restroom, over in the corner past the ATM and the glass fridges down a hall with burnt out fluorescent lights. They were singles that you could lock, one for men and one for women. The floor was sticky and paper towels piled out of a trash can and a strip of toilet paper floated in a pool of standing water. A condom dispensing machine was on the wall opposite the toilet. It wasn’t the worst public restroom I’d ever used and I didn’t have many options; I was literally about to piss myself. I would have to do the hover move over the toilet seat. No seat covers in a joint like this and I didn’t have time to prep it with toilet paper anything. So I was doing my business, my thighs burning from the squat, and kind of laughing to myself at the condom dispenser machine with its brands like the “FRENCH TICKLER” and that’s when I saw it, the graffiti written in Sharpie, right there on the vending machine. It said, “For A Good Time, Call 9xx-XXX-XXXX [Redacted]”. After I finished and had washed my hands, I snapped a pic of the graffiti. I figured Gabriel would get a kick out of it. “You’re supposed to call it. That’s the rule,” Gabriel said when I showed him. “I’m too nervous. You call. You heard it, too.” “Chicken.” “Yep.” “How many of those things do you even see? I’ve seen them all the time. I bet it’s just dudes pranking each other or fucking with their ex-girlfriends.” “Well I found it in the ladies room, so hopefully it wasn’t dudes.” “Okay, you enter it in your phone and I’ll dial. I’ll try to do a caller ID block or something. Let’s just see what happens.” “Are you sure?” “Eh come on. Maybe it’s fate.” The Texas travel center appeared on the southbound side of the interstate and we were soon crossing the Red River on into Oklahoma as I transcribed the numbers from the picture to the keypad on my dialer. A large casino came into view. It was ginormous with this sort of facade of all these famous buildings on its outside. I could see Big Ben and that Roman coliseum and all these other world architecture things. The casino just stretched on and on. “Aw, not again,” Gabriel said. I had just finished transposing the number into the phone. The crazy casino had distracted me. “What is it, babe?” “Another jam.” The traffic was veering into the right hand lane, but it was still moving at a decent clip, like 45 mph or something. After a mile of this, I could see a couple of highway patrol cars parked across the interstate, blocking both lanes of traffic. A state trooper stood out in the middle, waving a flashlight thing and directing traffic to take the exit. There was still about an hour of daylight left and you couldn’t even see the light. He was just using it as a baton. Somewhere off in the distance there was a thick wall of smoke filling the evening sky with this surreal haze. “Wonder what’s going on?” I asked. “Who knows? Grassfire, maybe.” We followed the other cars and trucks down the exit ramp. Some turned right, some turned left. “Right or left? Right or left?” Gabriel asked. There seemed to be more cars turning left. Maybe they knew something we didn’t. But then, we would be stuck behind them and it was getting dark and we were already behind schedule. I wanted to get the hell out of the car. “Um, right! Right,” I said, trying to pull up the GPS on my phone. It was lagging and my service had kicked over to 3G. “Freaking Verizon,” I muttered. We drove down a highway past empty fields fenced off by barbed wire. There were houses and barns and oilfield pump jacks every so often, but not much else. No gas stations or a sign of a town or much else, really. After driving into all this nothingness for a while, my phone completely lost all signal. The cars around us thinned out and there was only a black SUV in front of us. “Hey babe, I have no service and can’t pull up the GPS. Wanna turn back around?” “Nah, let’s just keep going. We’ve come this far, yeah? We’ll hit a main road eventually, get some service.” I sighed in response as he kept driving, let him know I didn’t approve. “We’ll turn north soon, ok? All roads lead to Turner Falls.” I checked my phone every fifteen seconds, looking for a signal. “C’mon Gabe, we’re gonna get lost out here. Let’s just go back, follow the other cars or see if they’ve opened up the interstate again.” “Look, this looks like a good road. We’ll cut north here and drive aways and then cut back west towards the interstate. It’s literally impossible to get lost out here. Just trying not to lose any more time.” But it wasn’t so simple and the nervous feeling in my stomach was validated when the road we drove north on turned to gravel. The sun was long gone and our headlights cut a tunnel through the night as barbed wire whizzed by, separating us from pastures that were elevated above the road on grassy rises. I started to fear the worst, thinking of every horror movie I’d ever seen that had started out this way: the headstrong man refusing to admit that he was lost and didn’t know where he was going and the increasingly pissed off and worried girl that was with him. “Babe, please just turn around,” I pleaded. “Ok, ok. Still no signal, eh?” I looked down at my phone. Finally, there was one bar of service. “Yes! Hang on.” “Oh fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck,” Gabriel said, his voice growing louder. My stomach dropped as what appeared in the rear view mirror was just as scary as any sort of Freddy or Jason or Leatherface from the big screen. Part 2
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