The Other Oregon: A Thriller
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On the surface, Greg Simmons seems an utterly improbable informant. He’s an idealistic, Cascadia independence proponent from the city of Portland. When the FBI calls on Greg to go undercover to investigate a dangerous militia movement out in rural Oregon, he knows exactly why: his long-estranged friend from the country, Donny Wilkie, could have deep ties to the militia.
Greg doesn’t want the FBI’s help. He needs to pursue the threat all on his own, because his true motives run far deeper—making sure that his former friend will never reveal a damning secret from their past. Greg strikes out for the remote small town of Pineburg, a fish out of water. As he grapples with his and Donny’s relationship and why it soured, as the threats to his worldview and to hiding the grim truth darken and mount, he discovers that no one is really who they seem, least of all himself. The dark misdeeds that both he and Donny covered up for so long threaten to reap their toll in the most deadly way.
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right? It’s like an interview. Off the record.” “All right, let me think.” Greg stared at his feet and focused on his retro New Balance runners, using their artifice as his time machine. It must have been ten years ago when he found out, but how much should he say? “Ten years ago,” Torres said for him. “Right, right. Ten years. I must have looked it up. It must have been the state database. The old LexisNexis maybe? That was when I was a reporter. Is that how you found me? From a database—from
suckers. They were just baby children crying out for attention, wailing for mommy’s teat. It reminded Donny of a bumper sticker he’d seen on a car traveling through Pineburg, probably from Portland: Tea Parties Are for Little Girls and Their Imaginary Friends. He was practically laughing now as he went on, boasting of how “someone around these parts” just the other day went and stood up to some outsider snoopers over at the old gas station, and for that, those snooping snoopers were good and
years ago. He had to do it in a way that prevented it from ever returning. He blamed Donny for making him come around to think this way. This went all the way back to when they’d first met. He had used Donny, thought he was just a bumpkin. Donny could have stopped that real quick. Why hadn’t Donny just punched him in the stomach when he’d first seen him? This would all have made more sense if Donny had stayed violent and not become manipulative like Greg himself had acted all those years ago. Way
neck. “Listen,” he said, “you have to listen to me—” A crack—a blast. Red mist and a roundish object flew over Greg’s head and hit the desk. It looked like a deflated gym ball dunked in berry jam. It was most of Wayne’s head. Greg jerked to the side. The rest of Wayne’s body thudded at the floor, almost on top of him. Greg’s eyes found the doorway. Gunnar stood there, his stance rigid, still aiming his rifle at Wayne’s body. Donny and Greg stayed in a crouch. Gunnar couldn’t stop staring,
unwrapped it, pocketed it, and left the plastic on the table. He stood. What else could he say? The world marched on, no matter what he did. Only Cascadia could change that. Someday it might. He would probably be an old man by then if not dead. “Well? That mean I can go?” “There is something else,” Torres said. “There was a murder—a security guard was killed. Near Mt. Hood. Years ago.” Greg, standing over the table, kept his feet planted. “Uh … I guess I’m not following.” “It’s been on the