For All Nails #226: Rise Up, Gather Round
by Mike Keating
- "Rise up, gather round
- Rock this place to the ground
- Burn it up, let's go for broke
- Watch the night go up in smoke."
- Def Leppard, Rock of Ages
Brian Donaldson looked around as the assorted delegations milled about in the square. He could see Bauch, Simon, and Yates from where he stood, making sure everything was fine with their own crowds. Behind him, he knew Harold Pickett was speaking to the Black Rock group, which numbered 33. Some entire delegations and parts of others had yet to arrive, which made sense considering each area had sent way too many people to fit in one loke. He did know, however, that the Black Rock contingent was the first to get all those it had brought to the square. The British Consulate loomed above them all to his left.
"Things are starting to look good, Brian," said a voice behind him. He turned around to see George Eskin-Brookline, a paper cup of coffee in one hand and a fat cigar in the other. "I have a lot of confidence in this event."
"So do I, George, so do I. The limeys just seem to be digging a hole deeper and deeper in the way this country sees them with this war. The way things are looking, we should be able to get things going on time."
George finished the coffee, tossing the cup into a public rubbish bin. Then he pulled a folded sheet of paper from his coat pocket. Unfolding it, he started to read aloud: "If you disapprove of the way Great Britain has been conducting itself in South America, you are not alone. The British have undertaken a war in the name of catching a mass murderer and terrorist, but in reality are only concerned with their own need for oil. They have conquered parts of New Grenada and created their own puppet states to serve this need. They have gone through the sovereign nation of New Grenada and killed any who stand in their way defending their homes and businesses. Make your voices heard! Let the British know that the people of North America..."
- Inside the British Consulate, east end of the square
- 11:42 AM
"... do not favor their actions. Come to Everett Square, outside the British Consulate, and tell them yourselves on November 20 at noon. The people of the CNA have spoken!" Consul General Sir Dennis Bowman turned to his aides as he finished reading the flyer. "Grandiose, aren't they?"
Stanley Hall nodded. "I'd certainly say so, sir. But the bloke I took this from two days ago seemed to have a pile of five hundred or so, and when I had business to go by that same spot an hour later, I saw he only had about a dozen left."
The other aide, Miles Dryden, added, "Sir I've seen this filth on lampposts and telephone poles all over the city in the past week. A few have had pro-Nat graffiti scrawled on them. Not many, though. And, I've seen other blokes handing out the same filth at intersections. They've also had a goodly number of takers. I'm wondering at the moment whether they may be having a receptive audience after all."
- 11:57 AM
The square was filling up nicely. Brian watched as George motioned Theo over to speak with him. "How many would you say all the Virginia towns have sent?" he asked.
"Well, let's see, I thought you'd wanna know that," Theo drawled. He pulled out his own sheet of paper. After reading a minute, he had what he needed. "I've got a total of 14 towns sending people. Payne has 74 here, the others all have anywhere from 40 to 95. Grand total for Virginia is 1,054."
George and Brian both whistled. Brian said appreciatively, "That's really good. I think Michigan City and Fort Radisson sent about 15 each, Philly sent 40, and the other places are all in between that. So we have at least twelve hundred." Brian's chest puffed up. "Black Rock has 33 here, by the way."
"That's great. We have nearly everyone from Boston here, since there's no serious travel. I think we achieved our numbers goal even without the flyers," George told him.
Theo looked around. "Looks like more than fifteen hunnert here already," he observed. Brian took a look around the square for himself, and saw that there seemed to be at least two thousand, with still more coming in. George was planning on speaking at 12:15, time enough for stragglers to come in. At the north end of the square, a temporary stage was being set up. Boston sure put a lot of thought into this, Brian realized.
- 12:06 PM
Bowman looked out his office window. Hall stood behind him. Dryden had gone off to attend to other duties. "They do seem to have attracted a good-sized show. But how many are here by some previous arrangement?" he wondered.
- 12:14 PM
George walked down the stage (really a few identically-sized wooden crates set up next to each other) and took a bullhorn from one of the Boston people. "Hello everybody, and thank you for coming. My name is George." Brian tuned out the rest of George's speech, since he knew how it went. He walked off to find Harold.
Harold looked up and smiled as Brian approached. "Good turnout, huh? I think this could go well."
George got to the point in his speech when he started asking questions of the crowd. The crowd was answering enthusiastically, both the scheduled attendees and the ones who'd been lured in by the flyer. Brian took another look around and guessed they were nearing three thousand in the square. Much more and there won't be room. I wonder if any are plainclothes millies? Then he took another look south. He wasn't sure he liked what he saw.
There was a band of newcomers about 15 feet from the consulate. They didn't look like part of one of the Brotherhood groups, and they didn't look like they came up with the Virginians. And he was sure they hadn't been there a few minutes ago.
As he watched, he could tell they were into the speech, agreeing honestly with what was being said. "YEAH!" one yelled suddenly. Then he pulled a cobblestone out of the ground and threw it through the nearest consulate window. Not a bad idea, boys, just don't let things get out of hand, he thought. Brian had no objection to things getting violent, but felt the Brotherhood needed to keep events under control. FN2
But it was too late. The breaking sound was followed a few seconds later by a loud cheer from behind him. More windows broke. Brian turned around to see stones from the flower garden ringing the building being heaved through windows. Onstage, George had broken off his speech to call for calm. If this mob destroys the building, what will people think of us? Will they cheer us, condemn us, or accept it wasn't our doing? It was the last thought Brian had on the matter, because he had other things to worry about just then.
"TRAITORS!" Someone yelled from across the square. Harold turned around right before Brian did to see a force of about 100 men walking calmly, yet angrily, into the square from the other end. "Nats," Brian and Harold said at once. The situation had taken a turn for the worse.
The Nats were clean-looking, with their hair cut short. Many of them were wearing khaki pants, with the rest in matching black trousers and jackets. Indeed, he saw almost all of the Nats were carrying cricket bats, long thick tree branches, or knives. A couple had pieces of lead pipe. "Harold, how many of us are armed?"
"The Black Rock bunch has about half with concealed pistols, but I think a few others have knives. No idea with the others, though. Brian, this looks bad."
"Don't worry, we still outnumber them." As he watched, the Nats were whacking at any demonstrators in their way. Brian thought he saw someone speaking into a handspeaker further in the distance. A millie calling for reinforcement, he guessed.
Over by the stage, George had come down and was exhorting the protestors to defend themselves. As he was in mid-sentence, a branch hit him in the back. Then he was surrounded by a swarm of bodies.
Before Brian or Harold could rush to his defense, the Nats were upon them. Both men and about five of the others around them pulled guns from their coats. Brian sighted on the first Nat he saw and fired. Gunshots were ringing throughout the square. Had other Nats come in from elsewhere? He didn’t know.
It took about five minutes, but the Brotherhood members and six Virginians fought their way out of the pack. "Come on! To the stage, George is in trouble!" Brian called out, pointing to show anyone who couldn't hear past the din. The force of men made its way to the stage, which now seemed to have fallen apart. Two of the boxes had been smashed. Boards from them were being used as weapons by both sides. But George was nowhere to be seen.
Yates was tangling with a Nat hand-to-hand when they came upon him. Harold stepped in and knocked the Nat out cold with one punch. Brian saw Yates was bleeding from a cut on his cheek, and handed him a handkerchief. "Have you seen George anywhere?" Brian asked.
Yates looked at him. "WHAT?" Not surprising, it was noisy, Brian realized.
"WHERE'S GEORGE?" Immediately after he yelled the question, a flame arced into a broken consulate window. All of them could see flames engulf the room as the Bolingbroke pint went off. FN3
Yates pointed west, "I think I saw him over that way."
The group headed for the western side of the square, and found ten Nats squaring off with George and three other Patriots. George had a gun, but seemed to have run out of bullets. The others were using knives. But it was a losing battle. Brian and Harold aimed their guns and fired. Two Nats went down. Yates grabbed the skaters stick one had been wielding and started knocking Nats over the head with it. That was when the sirens sounded.
Lorries pulled into the north and south ends of the square; millies and CBI agents were piling out. Tear gas was billowing through the area. Brian shook George's hand, saying "It's good to see you made it."
George grinned. "I gave as good as I got, but I think I'll be sore tonight." They could see the millies bashing heads, Nat and Patriot alike, with truncheons. "Get everyone you can and clear out. I for one don't want to be arrested." With that George pulled an air horn out of his jacket and gave three short bursts: the disperse signal. "I think we made our voices heard today."
- 1:46 PM
Bowman and Hall walked into the room where the bomb had been thrown. The last of the fires had been extinguished. "The CNA people still favor us in their hearts. Look at the nasty reception those jeffy scum got. They weren't expecting there to be so many who still back us," the consul declared.
Hall didn't bother mentioning that the Nats had been outnumbered by anti-British demonstrators. Instead he gave a noncommittal "Yes, sir."
"Hall, I want you to prepare a full report on this. London will want to hear of it."
"I'll get to work on it at once, sir,” Hall told him, and went to do just that.
Forward to FAN #227 (2 December 1975): Freedom.
Forward to Harold Pickett: Games Without Frontiers.
Return to For All Nails.