For All Nails #10: If You Steal My Sunshine
By Carlos Yu
Carter Monaghan was not a happy man.
" '... and several hundred pages of advanced numerical simulations xerographed and sent, via commercial courier, to Jefferson City,' " Liddy continued reading. "In short, Governor, we are packed."
In other men, Monaghan might have upbraided the vulgarity; but Timothy Liddy was Carter's own bad man, who dated back to his days at Treasury, and -- still -- made a fine head of the CBI.
"Is the work of one man really so crucial to our atomics program?" Monaghan asked. Liddy shrugged; Science Minister Mayfield picked up the ball.
"I would have to say that he was, Governor Monaghan. The Super was formed out of Doctor Urquell's unique vision. To create a device that would harness the power of the sun..." Mayfield paused delicately.
"And use it to flambee the gringoes down South," Liddy finished. "Except they managed to find the lever to turn Urquell right back at us."
It was an unpleasant picture. Mexican emigre scientists had formed the backbone of the research teams that had built the Kramer bomb, the British bomb, and even the Confederation's bomb, gutting the Mexican atomic program in the process. But Mercator -- damn the man's low animal cunning -- managed to turn Northwest University's top physicist renegado, despite the manifold improbabilities in the idea. Monaghan sighed.
"And will this 'Super' fly?"
"By our calculations, yes. With a relatively simple design, it should be possible to create a blast equivalent to one million tons of trinitrotoluene. The first Kramer bomb, in comparison, could only manage a thirty-thousand ton blast."
One million tons of trinitrotoluene. In Carter Monaghan's days as Finance Minister, he would sometimes attempt to visualize the numbers of CNA pounds or Mexican dolares he worked with by relating them to commonplaces. Thirty thousand, that was half the capacity of Three Rivers Stadium, or a little less. At two thousand pounds each, each fan could buy a new Marillac.
But one million tons, the population of Burgoyne was only two million. That would be one thousand pounds of high explosive for every man, woman, and child in Burgoyne.
"My." It was all that Monaghan's father had said, standing on the front porch of his Dickinson County farmhouse, watching the Southern Vandalian horizon become engulfed in a cloud of dust. "My, my."
The formal briefing soon concluded, Liddy hung back at his boss's request.
"Timothy, what really happened with this Stephen Urquell? We both know that Mercator has as little use for the black man as Thomas Jefferson did."
Liddy silently pulled a photograph from his briefing folder.
"This is Doctor Urquell?" Monaghan shuddered.
"And this is Senorita Maria Francesca Cameron-Diaz, of Jefferson City, and more recently, a habitue of Michigan City's bon temps circles. An actress." Another photograph.
"And this is her boon companion, Geraldina Hall, an occasional runway model in Milan and Buenos Aires. Also from Jefferson."
"Their mutual acquaintance, Teresa Ciccone, of the Capital District. Cabaret singer touring the CNA, many admirers. A bottle blonde, by the way."
"And this is..."
Monaghan raised a hand. "All right, all right. I get the picture," running his hand over his thinning hair. "Dammit, what am I supposed to do now..."
Timothy Liddy stood alert, obedient to his master's next suggestion.
Forward to FAN #11: Chamber of Manufacturers.
Forward to 5 August 1969 (Timothy Liddy): Roadblock.
Return to For All Nails.