Never Compromise with Evil
Thomas Calabrese –Life doesn’t go always according to plan, but it is more important on how we react to unexpected changes and difficult obstacles than it is to pacifically ride the wave or go with the flow when things are going well. How does that saying go? Success breeds confidence, but adversity builds character.
Peter Denbo was of Italian descent and both his great-grandparents were part of the massive migration to America after World War II. Like many immigrants they moved west from New York to California in search of better opportunities. There was already a very large Italian community in the northern section of Los Angeles called Little Italy and that is where they relocated. The next generation, his grandparents lived in Pasadena and when his father, Angelo turned 18 he moved to Carlsbad in 1960 and got a job working for the city maintenance department. While working in the small coastal town, Angelo met a beautiful full blooded Native American woman from the Cupeno tribe, named Alisa and they married in Oceanside. They had three children, Peter, Elena and Nicholas. Peter joined the Marine Corps and he was trained to be a diesel mechanic and worked on heavy equipment, trucks, tanks and amphibious vehicles. While stationed at Camp Pendleton, Pete met Selena Martinez at Rosa’s, a Mexican restaurant on South Coast Highway that her parents owned. They were wed one year later in a ceremony at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Church in Oceanside, California. This was the church where legendary Marine and Congressional Medal of Honor John Basilone also had his marriage ceremony
Over the next ten years, they had three children, Gatano, who was called Guy, Gina and Carl. Pete separated from the Marines and was later hired as a mechanic on base. Selena handled the catering business for her family’s restaurant. The Denbos lived in the Fire Mountain area of Oceanside and were a typical middle class family. Peter and Selena, raised their two sons and daughter to be responsible hard-working individuals with strong family values. That’s the ancestry that shaped Guy Denbo into an American hero and patriot.
After graduating from Carlsbad High School, Guy followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Marine Corps and became a Recon Marine. During his enlistment he distinguished himself in hostile engagements. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions in Afghanistan and a Bronze Star for a mission in Djibouti, a country on the Horn of Africa. Guy Denbo quickly rose to the rank of Sergeant and was seriously considering a career in the Marines.
Guy’s unit was training in the mountainous area of the base and honing their skills at rock climbing and rappelling. There was a new piece of equipment that had been authorized for use by the Pentagon. It was a winch powered by a special lithium battery. It was silent, lightweight, powerful and able to lift 500 pounds. This new technology would make a big difference by allowing combat units to scale cliffs quickly with their equipment. For two hours, the Recon Marines simulated an assault. While at the top of the cliff, Guy thought that he heard a strange sound emitting from the winch that was secured by two foot metal stakes pounded into the hard ground and listened more closely. He turned to Lt. Aaron Prescott and said, “We should shut down the winch!”
“Why would we do that, Sergeant?”
Guy responded, “I thought I heard something strange.”
“It’s been thoroughly tested and it’s been working good for us so far,” Lt. Prescott replied, “We’re almost done.”
Two Marines hooked their carabiners to the rope and the winch started to pull them up the side of the cliff. When they were 20 feet off the ground, the winch began to smoke and the lithium battery exploded. The braking mechanism inside the winch failed and the two Marines fell and hit the ground. The individuals operating the winch looked at Sergeant Denbo for guidance. All Guy could say was, “It wasn’t your fault.”
The two Marines who fell sustained serious, but not life threatening injuries. Several broken bones, contusions, concussion etc. They would be in the hospital for a week, followed by months of rehabilitation, but they were strong, young and resilient. When Guy visited both men, Corporal George Carelton asked, “Somebody told us that the guys running the winch messed up, is that true?”
Guy responded, “It was an equipment malfunction.”
“We were interviewed by the NCIS and they said that the equipment was working perfectly,” Lance Corporal Rob Steiner reiterated.
“They told you that…huh…very interesting,” Guy said, “I’ll see you soon.”
The two injured Marines were right, the primary investigation stated negligence was the cause of the accident and made no mention of mechanical malfunction. The agents never even bothered to interview Guy. When he heard about the report Guy approached Lt. Hunter Prescott, his platoon commander, “The winch failed, I put that in writing.”
Lt. Prescott responded, “I submitted your statement up the chain of command, that’s all I can do.”
“Where is that winch, I’d like to take a look at it,” Guy said.
“Too late, it has already been picked up,” Lt. Prescott said.
“By who?” Guy asked.
“Don’t know, they had the credentials and the authority, that’s all I know.”
When Guy found out that the two Marines operating the winch were going to be charged with negligence, dereliction of duty and several other charges, he couldn’t let that stand. He went to everyone in his chain of command and told them what he had witnessed and their standard reply was that the investigation was now in the hands of the Pentagon Inspector General’s Office. When he persisted, he was paid a visit from two Department of Defense officials. Paul DePappe warned the Marine Sergeant, “This is an official investigation and your continued efforts to intervene will be considered obstruction and a chargeable offense. You are ordered to cease and desist immediately. Let me put it in terms that even a Marine can understand, “You are the nail and I am the hammer and I’m just looking for a chance to do some pounding. Do I make myself clear?”
Guy responded, “Clear.”
“Am I clear?” Depappe said with an inflated sense of his own self- importance.
“Crystal,” Guy responded.
Guy was in a quandary so he sought the advice of the man that he trusted most, his father. Peter Denbo, a former Marine and longtime civil service employee. “I’m in a tough position, if I push the issue then they’re going to come after me, but I do nothing then my men go down for something they didn’t do.”
“Speaking from my personal experience, when I see things that I’d like to report, I have to make this decision… is it a battle worth fighting so I ask you, is this a battle that you want to fight?”
“Sometimes you get to choose your battles and sometimes the battle chooses you. It is one thing to be upset by the fog of bureaucracy or the layers of incompetency, but it is a different animal when you witness something wrong then are ordered to stand down. The Marines that they want to punish are in my squad. They trust me to lead them in battle, but now I’m supposed to abandon them in peacetime…that’s not going to happen.” Guy pledged, “Besides I’m the one who told them to work the winch so it’s basically my fault.”
“Honor comes with a price. Whatever you decide to do, I got your back,” Pete promised his son.
Sergeant Guy Denbo requested to see Colonel Tom Holgren, Battalion Commander who responded, “I read your statement, Sergeant.”
“Then why are my two Marines facing disciplinary action?” Guy said.
Colonel Holgren replied, “I submitted your statement to Division with my recommendation that the charges be dropped and it was denied.”
“That makes no sense, sir,” Guy said.
“The decision is above our pay grades,” Colonel Holgren sighed.
Guy said, “Then I admit that it was my fault…punish me…not them.”
“That’s not going to happen,” Colonel Holgren said.
“I do not want to go to the media, but I will if I have to.”
“It’s that important to you?” Colonel Holgren asked.
“Yes sir, it is.”
“How much time do you have left on your current enlistment?” Colonel Holgren inquired.
Guy answered, “About six weeks, I’ve already had a few talks with the career planner about re-enlistment.”
“You better forget about that if you decide to push this,” Colonel Holgren warned.
“I figured that much,” Guy said.
Colonel Holgren said, “Off the record, I’ll do my best to drag things out until you’re close to your termination date…no guarantees. You’re going to make some powerful enemies, so watch your back.”
“I’ll keep my head on a swivel, sir,” Guy said.
Two days before his enlistment expired, Guy submitted a sworn statement to his command claiming full responsibility for the incident. The government thought about pursuing the issue, but realized that it would harder going after a decorated Marine then throwing a couple young leathernecks under the bus. Charges against the other Marines were dropped and the incident was officially over. The Pentagon and the Department of Defense had the scapegoat they wanted.
Guy went back to civilian life, but couldn’t get it off his mind that he left too soon. He still wanted to serve and did not like the way things ended. He eventually came to a radical decision and told his father about his intent to try out for the Navy Seals.
Pete asked his son, “Are you doing this because you’re mad?”
“Never let your compassion or your outrage get in the way of your common sense,” Guy said.
“I love it when you use my quotes against me,” Peter said.
Six years in the Marine Corps and fifteen more in the Navy Seals, Guy retired with 22 years of military service. He was a highly decorated veteran with the Navy Cross, Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, three Purple Hearts and a list of commendations in his military resume. After leaving the military Guy returned to Oceanside and began working as a security consultant like so many other Navy Seals do. He considered leaving California due to the high cost of living, rising crimes and increasing taxes. The problem was that he loved the Pacific Ocean and the climate too much to actually go.
Guy had just finished a five mile run and was sitting on the seawall near the Oceanside Pier and looking out to the horizon when an elderly man sat nearby. The man said, “You’re Guy Renbo, aren’t you?”
Without looking over, Guy replied, “You knew who I was before you sat down. I recognized two of the men in your security detail as Seals I served with. You’re a little out of your stomping grounds. Isn’t Rancho Santa Fe and Del Mar more your style? What can I do for you, Ethan Ruston? I know it’s not for security, you’ve already got the best that money can buy.”
Ethan Ruston laughed, “My team told me I wouldn’t be able to surprise you.”
“What’s on your mind?”
Ethan said, “I’ve got an offer for you…take a ride with me.”
When they reached the armored Cadillac Escalade, Guy greeted two of his former colleagues, “Hey Troy…Jason.”
Jason replied, “Good to see you.”
“How’s it going?” Troy said.
Guy decided not to be too inquisitive so he sat and made small talk with his buddies instead of with Ethan. The drove through the gate of Ruston’s palatial estate and stopped at the front entrance. They entered through 10-foot high handmade oak doors and stood in the foyer.
Guy finally said, “Since I’m not working for you, should I call you Ethan?”
“I’m used to going a few days or more being sweaty and dirty, but that was when I was on a mission or in training. I’m in neither right now so I need to take a shower and put on some dry clothes. If you have something to tell me then now is a good time.”
Ethan turned to Troy, “Show Mr. Denbo to the guest room.”
As the two former Seals walked down the hallway, Troy said, “You know how these rich guys are, they have their quirks.” Troy opened the door to the spacious guest room, “You’re about the same size as me, there should enough in the closet for you to choose from. Dinner is at 1800 hours.”
The guest room was 1500 hundred square feet and equipped with a sauna, spa, steam shower and all the amenities in grooming. Guy looked in the closet and it was fill with high end casual clothing, all in Guy’s size.
Guy looked at his watch and saw it was 1600 hours so he decided to avail himself of the luxuries that were afforded him. He waited until 1758 before walking back to the dining room.
Ethan, Jason and Troy were already seated at the table. “Ethan smiled, “Precisely on time, exactly as I expected.”
“You learned to be punctual when you’re in the military,” Guy shrugged.
“I invited your friends to join us…I thought it might make you feel more at ease,” Ethan said.
“After a couple hours of relaxing, I’m already pretty much at ease right now,” Guy said, “I’m glad to have their company.”
Jason commented, “Remember when we were on that mission in Mexico and we stopped off at that fish restaurant in Loreto and how good the food was?”
“I remember,” Guy said.
“Mr. Ruston has this five star chef and crew and I told them what we had and he duplicated it,” Jason then added, “I sampled everything and it is even better than that.”
“You’re going to a lot of trouble just to talk to me. You must have me confused with someone important,” Guy said.
“Humor me,” Ethan said, “I know exactly who you are and you are very important.”
About halfway through the elaborate Mexican buffet that consisted of mahi mahi, red snapper, tilapia, langostino and a dozen side dishes, Ethan brought up the subject that he brought Guy to his house to tell him. “I want you to run for United States Senator.”
Guy took a sip of his sangria and commented, “Now that I know for sure that you’ve got me confused with somebody else. I’m a doorkicker not a doorbell ringer.”
Ethan continued, “Just hear me out and if you don’t like what I say, at least you got a good meal for your trouble.”
“Actually it’s a great meal, you don’t mind if I eat while you talk?” Guy asked.
Ethan explained, “You have 22 years of distinguished military service and are a decorated veteran. Every person that I have talked to that you ever served with, including the two men at this table says in one way or another that they would go into combat anytime or anyplace with you. That is high praise.”
“I’ve known some very good warriors in my day. All I’ve done is try my best to keep up with them,” Guy responded modestly.
Troy and Jason snickered and Jason said, “Since you were in front most of the time, explain how that equates to you keeping up?”
Ethan continued, “You come from a multi-ethnic background that includes Italian, Native American and Hispanic.”
“I’m an American first and always,” Guy clarified his heritage and preference.
“You have a bachelor’s degree in American History and another in philosophy.”
Guy explained, “I like knowing about my country and am intrigued by the systematic process of thought and ideas. Philosophy is a quest for an understanding of the principles of conduct and if you’re a Special Operator, conduct is a big part of who we are. Remember I had my whole military career to get those degrees so it wasn’t like I was a full time student or an intellectual.”
“Like everything else in your life, you had the determination to finish what you started, that’s what matters to me,” Ethan said, “How about if I make you an offer than you can’t refuse.”
“I’ve refused some pretty tempting offers in my life,” Guy said.
Ethan said, “You run for Senator and I’ll donate five million dollars to any one charity or any number of charities that you designate. I’d offer the money to you, but you’d probably say no, but this way you’d be helping a lot of people if you say yes…that’s more your style.”
“You’re right…you made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Give me the details.” Guy said.
Ethan explained his plan. The two candidates currently on the ballot are entrenched bureaucrats who made millions during their years in politics. This particular senate seat is crucial to the balance of power in Congress and the deep state is desperate to hold on to it.”
Guy asked, “I don’t mind running on my record, but in this toxic political environment, my opponents could say I’m Putin’s illegitimate son or the new version of the Manchurian Candidate and somebody would believe them.”
“That’s pretty much a given…are you that sensitive that you care what people you don’t like say about you?”
“You probably didn’t know that my call sign when I was in the Seals was Mister Sensitive,” Guy joked.
“I just bought a social media platform and I’ll never censor free speech. Everybody has opinions and feelings and they can express what they want, but if they say something is a fact then they better be willing to prove it. I can guarantee you this; if somebody puts out a lie about you, I’ll debunk it within minutes. They might call you, Mr. Sensitive, but I’m known as the Deadly Debunker,” Ethan grinned.
Ethan puts together a campaign team and Jason and Troy were assigned to provide security. Guy began his campaign by giving radio and television interviews and preferred to answer questions rather than give long speeches. When asked about climate change, Guy answered, “I like the environment and want to protect it, but the biggest polluters are China and India. You can’t give them a free pass while destroying our own economy. Here’s my official position on the following issues; I’m in favor of energy independence because I don’t like to rely on others to drill irresponsibly when we can do it responsibly. I want a secure border because I’m against human and drug trafficking and it is essential for national security to know who’s coming into our country. I’m in favor of low taxes because I’d rather see money in the economy than in the government treasury. I am pro-police and pro-military because it is better to deal with any situation from a position of strength than weakness. We need a balanced budget and speaking from my experiences around the world, our government needs to control expenditures because right now it spends money like a drunken sailor on steroids. One more thing, equal opportunities don’t guarantee equal outcomes.”
While campaigning in Aliso Viejo in Orange County, a deranged man with a vendetta against the Navy Seals and anybody affiliated with the military pulled out a machete and jumped on stage and began swearing in Farsi. Guy was licensed to carry a concealed weapon and was used to dealing with threats of all types. He calmly turned to the man, “Drop the machete!”
The man approached with the machete held high. Jason and Troy had their guns drawn and were aiming at him. Guy instructed, “Keep him covered, but don’t shoot. I got this.”
The man took two more steps forward and began swinging the weapon back and forth. The audience cowered in fear, mesmerized by what they were witnessing. Guy warned the man again, “Drop the machete or die.”
The man lunged and Guy stepped back, pulled out his pistol, fired two rounds and shut off the attacker’s motor functions like he was flipping a light switch. The man fell backward on the stage as Troy and Jason moved closer. They looked at the dead attacker who had two bullet holes less than an inch apart in his forehead, “Good shooting…tight group.” Troy commented.
Guy looked at the audience and immediately realized that this was the first time that they had ever seen a man be killed before their eyes and some were traumatized by the event. He consoled them with his reassuring voice, “It’s all over now…take a deep breath and slowly exhale…it will help you relax.”
When the police arrived, Guy told them, “The guy had a cause and was willing to die for it, I just helped him along.”
One of people in the audience recorded the confrontation with his cellphone and posted it on the internet. It got five million hits within the first 48 hours and Guy’s poll numbers jumped off the chart overnight. Once the Deep State knew the election was lost and there was no chance of defeating Guy Denbo there was only one option left. Under no circumstances could this former Special Operator be allowed to take office.
Ethan met with Guy, Troy and Jason at his Rancho Santa Fe mansion, “Taking down that terrorist sealed the deal for you getting elected. You jumped ten points overnight. I’ve been monitoring communications from around the world and I intercepted a message about an assassination team with you as their target.”
“Right after the shooting, I contacted a close friend in the Intel community and asked him to keep me posted on any unusual chatter concerning my campaign” Guy said, “And he came up with a similar threat analysis with one major addition.”
“The Communist Chinese Party found out that you’re bankrolling my campaign and put you on their terminal list too.” Guy said, “So if they’re coming, they’re coming for both of us.”
“That’s no surprise, I’ve never been a big supporter of China, unlike a lot of politicians who are on their payroll.” Ethan said, “I’ve made my share of enemies in China and in Washington. Politicians like to say I’m the Darth Vader of anti-democracy and my website is the internet death star. ”
Troy interjected, “It wouldn’t surprise me either if the CIA has their hands in this. Look what’s happening in Brazil, millions of Brazilians are protesting over their Presidential election.”
“Power is addictive, once people have it, they’ll do anything to keep it,” Guy said.
Ethan sighed, “Any suggestions?”
“Fight on,” Guy vowed.
It was Sunday evening, November 6th, two days before the election. Security had been quadrupled at the Ruston estate with twenty extra personnel, all of them being former Seals or Marines on site. Guy and Ethan were sitting in the den when the lights flickered several times then went off.
Ethan commented, “The back-up generator will start in a few seconds.”
Guy pulled out his cellphone and saw the words, ‘No service’ on the screen. He picked up another communication device and radioed, “It looks like it’s going down. Stay alert!”
Moments later, an SDGE truck arrived at the front gate. The driver said, “We’ve got a major outage in the area. There’s an underground cable that runs through this property and our technology sensors indicate that the malfunction is in this area. We’ll need to look for it.”
The Guard opened the gate and the truck drove through. The guard then radioed, “They are moving up the driveway.”
“Confirmed,” Guy responded and picked up his assault rifle, checked his magazine and prepared to leave.”
“Be careful,” Ethan said.
Guy responded, “This brings back memories. Let’s hope I still remember how to do this.”
The stolen truck parked in a secluded area of the estate and ten heavily armed men dressed in San Diego Gas and Electric uniforms exited from the back door. They began walking toward the main house when they heard, “Stop and drop your weapons!” Guy called out.
The assassination team looked around and saw that they were surrounded. Troy turned to Guy, “I don’t think they’re going to give up. They got that look in their eyes.”
“I know, as least we’re giving them a choice, which is more than they would give us,” Guy responded.
There were a few seconds of deathly silence and the tension in the air was so thick that you could cut it with a chainsaw. Finally…the leader of the assassination team opened fire and the other men followed his lead. They were quickly killed and when the shooting stopped, Guy commented to his fellow patriots, “After all these years of doing this, one thing remains a constant, there is no compromise with evil, you either destroy it or it will destroy you.”
When Guy got back to the main house, Ethan asked, “Is it done?”
“It will never be done, but I will live to fight another day in the ‘swamp’ called Congress,” Guy winked. At this particular moment, he was the perfect combination of boyish charm and deadly skills.
Ethan pointed to the television screen where it showed the projected results of Guy’s upcoming Senate election and smiled, “Your poll numbers are looking great, Mr. Sensitive.”
Epilogue – Vote Responsibly, Guy Renbo will be watching.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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