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For All Nails #105: Do You Know the Way to Millinocket?

by David Mix Barrington

PERDITA: I see the play so lies that I must bear a part.

The Winter's Tale, Act IV, Scene 4 FN1

Millinocket, Nova Scotia
26 July 1974

Abigail Adams Bartlet had chosen Millinocket for her new job on a whim. She was a skilled secretary among her other talents, and would have had no trouble finding work in any of the lumber mills or other businesses that dotted the North Woods of the Associated Federal Province. But she'd heard of Millinocket, mostly because the strange heathen sound FN2 of its name fitted naturally into a slew of jokes about asking one of the notoriously taciturn Nova Scotian woodsmen for directions:

"Do you know the way to Millinocket?"
"You can't get theah from heah."
"Does this road go to Millinocket?"
"Road don't go nowheah. Stays right heah."
"Does it matter which road I take to get to Millinocket?"
"Not to me it don't."

And finally, her favorite touch of literary-mindedness:

"Do you know the way to Millinocket?"

Given the proverbial difficulty of finding the place, she supposed, it was no surprise that most of the men around her in the Cathedral Mountain FN3 pub were workers from the paper mill, enjoying their Friday fish fry whether Catholic or not. There were few women and fewer still without partners, making Abigail a clear center of attention. The black halter top she wore, showing off her shoulders and an inch above her navel, didn't hurt her popularity at all. She was too old for a Tania-top, but then Tania Monroy herself was getting too old for a Tania-top and (at least according to the dime papers) was having her publicity photos retouched.

Abigail had spent her first week on the job making sure that her interest in matters Mexican, and in the history of the Rebellion, was well known. She had come to the Cathedral Mountain tonight specifically to strike up a conversation with a similarly inclined man. Unfortunately her bait had attracted the wrong fish, and she was now engaged in conversation with an Acadian separatist. Pierre Turgeon's Lost Cause was that of the Patriotes rather than the Patriots, though he drank in its honor with the fervor of any Yank. At least the lightly batter-fried cod and locally-pressed cider were far better than she'd expected. What was the silly man on about now?

"This mill, it is owned by Tory bankers in New York. The shops in the town, all English. The lobsters FN4 answer to the English Assembly in Kingston. Meanwhile we French produce the paper that makes the bankers rich, spend the money that keeps the shops open, choose between two English candidates every election, read English on every signpost -- I tell you we are oppressed and it cannot go on much longer!"

"You want your own Rebellion? Where Jefferson and Papineau both failed?"

"Both Jefferson and Papineau challenged the united might of the British Empire, though that Empire is not so united these days. We can be more clever. Our first goal should be a separate French-speaking colony of the CNA. Will the Tories fight to keep l'Acadie part of Nova Scotia? I am not so sure. And are you so sure that your Jefferson and my Papineau were failures, in the eyes of history? Jefferson's name is revered in that great nation you so admire. Papineau was another martyr, yes, but Quebec has the measure of independence it enjoys today because he kept the fire of nationhood alive--"

"Excuse me, Miss, your drink's getting low, may I buy you another?"

A young man, maybe twenty, sleeveless leather jacket and heavy pewter jewelry in the Yank style. Eyes and smile mostly predatory as he checked her out, but with a definite hint of intelligence behind them. Not to mention more than a hint of physical power. Already Turgeon seemed to sink back into his seat, unwilling to challenge this new arrival.

"Why, thank you, I'd appreciate that. My name's Abby."

"Adam LaDuke." He motioned to the bartender. "Two pints of draft cider, please. You new in town?"

"Yes, I just started as a secretary in the mill. You?"

"Oh, I move around, Maine mostly. Where'd you move here from?"

"Hanover, New Hampshire. Nice place to be from, but hard to stay there as a townie -- the Dartmouth FN5 kids get all the jobs." She noted that Adam had diverted attention from what, if anything, he did for a living while "moving around". A lot of Yanks "moved around" the potent potato liquor distilled illegally in the St. John valley just east of here.

"Damn Tories. We could've kept'em outta here in the first place, you know. You ever hear of Benedict Arnold? Wicked fine man, a sort of hero of mine..."

Abigail's bait had now hooked the fish she wanted. This might even be the same man who had led the St. Georges-de-Beauce robbery -- the 1967 Conquistador she'd spotted through the window was a different color, but how long did it take to paint a loke? That Haytian had given her a description that matched this Adam LaDuke, at least as far as it went. Of course the Haytian had talked to Detective-Serjeant Clarissa Forster of the CBI, not to Abby Bartlet, a woman who had not existed a fortnight ago...

Funny how back at Yale she'd considered the theatre a hobby, and the law her real work. She'd laughed at the implausibility of Shakespeare's disguises and intrigues even as she laughed with his four-century-old wordplay. Well, was this theatre or law right now? If she went off with Adam tonight, on the track of whatever organization lay behind him, her success and in fact her life might depend on maintaining her character. Whereas the law that Clarissa Forster was sworn to enforce would mean very little in the middle of the North Woods.

Forward to FAN #106: Southern Man Don't Need Him Around Anyhow.

Forward to 27 July 1974: And I'll Cry If I Want To.

Forward to Clarissa Forster: Strap Your Hands 'Cross My Engines.

Return to For All Nails.