For All Nails #218: Southern Men
by Mike Keating
Brian Donaldson and Harold Pickett sat on a park bench ten feet east of a flagpole. The CNA flag flapped in the wind, which was threatening to blow Harold's cap from his head. He took it off and held it in his lap. Brian looked at his watch impatiently. They were supposed to have been met fifteen minutes ago.
A voice from behind said to them, "Are you mates new in town?"
Harold turned around. "Why yes, we're driving through and needed a break," he answered.
"The fish and chips are good here. So is the whiskey," their contact answered back. "Come, I know a diner that's good to talk safely in."
As they got up from the bench, an attractive woman passed the flagpole and spat in the grass around it. She was the fifth person to do that since Harold and Brian had been sitting there.
A sign above a storefront about two blocks away read Arnold's. The three men walked in and found the place half full. They seated themselves toward the back. Brian introduced the contact as Theo Simon. A large man got up from the booth across from them and sat down next to Simon. Brian introduced him as Shane Gartner. Simon said, "Try the fish 'n' chips, mates, best ones for miles around." A waitress came up just then and they all wound up having fish.
"Does everyone around here spit on the flagpole so?" Harold asked in a low voice.
"Oh, yeah," said Brian, Theo, and Shane all at once, then the three laughed. Theo went on, "They've been doing it since that flagpole went up after the town was founded in 1800. We were founded by patriot refugees from the coast after the Trans-Oceanic War. The patriot spirit has always run strong hereabouts. Hasn't hurt that the CNA has never been good to this area; we've always been a little poor." Harold knew then that reading the book Brian had given him was a good idea. It was still surprising seeing things for himself, though.
"Actually," Gartner took up the explanation, "the town was named for Thomas Paine, but they figured back then that'd raise some eyebrows in the wrong places. So they did the easy thing and changed the spelling."
Harold raised an eyebrow at this. It all seemed a little strange. It was then that their drinks arrived: coffee for Gartner, beer for the rest. Brian took a pull on his, and then shifted topics. "You know why we're here. George in Boston thinks the time to make a major move is soon. There's hostility building toward the British over the New Granada thing. I guess they're looking to carve up the area, set up a Venezuelan puppet government, and then loot the whole place for its oil. Which would be good for us by itself, but the CBI is taking a lot of heat over Endicott. Negative press, hearings, and protests not even connected to the movement. The situation is ripe for the true patriots to move in."
"So what's our part?" asked Simon.
Brian started to talk, but waited until a group of noisy coal miners passed by on their way out. "For now, make sure your town is ready. You've got more manpower per total population in this region than the rest of the movement does nationwide. In the short-term, George is planning something big in Boston for next month. As big a protest as we can muster. In a week or two, you'll be contacted with further instructions. We'll be needing you to send a contingent. We also need you to stay in contact with the other towns that are big in the movement here. Ask them if they can send people too."
"How many?" Gartner wanted to know.
"About fifty or a hundred from each town should do. All the chapters up north and in Indiana will be sending people. We're looking for a total of about 1,500."
Theo nodded with a smile on his face. "I like it! It's a lot more than they've accomplished in Maine, that's for sure."
The fish and chips arrived then. Harold decided that they were as good as he'd been told.
Forward to FAN #219: Operation Excalibur.
Forward to 31 October 1975: A Monarchy, If You Can Keep It.
Forward to Harold Pickett: Rise Up, Gather Round.
Return to For All Nails.