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For All Nails #109: Strap Your Hands 'Cross My Engines

by David Mix Barrington

Somewhere in Hazard County Maine, N.C., CNA
18 August 1974

This was a long way from Yale College, Clarissa Forster thought as she gripped Adam's waist more tightly and the powerful Hurley-Pugh motowheel FN1 barely negotiated a tight corner of the dirt logging road. Yale prided itself on offering a comprehensive liberal arts education, a preparation for all aspects of adult life. It was true, she supposed, that this fourth consecutive weekend-long party with Adam LaDuke was exercising skills she had developed in college. But a night out at Morey's with her cohorts from the theatre or the Slavic Chorus FN2 could not approach a weekend with Yank gangsters when it came to chemical challenges to her body. Morey's did not serve raw potato liquor, for example, and its law-abiding patrons for the most part eschewed mota.

Adam knew how to show a girl a good time, that was for sure. And he was reliable in his own way, as he had three times returned the woman he knew as "Abby Bartlet" to her small Millinocket apartment on Sunday in time for her to get some sleep and be ready for her secretarial job on Monday morning. Though how was to be questioned, as they had certainly been in Maine, and were probably in Maine now, but had never passed through a marked (much less manned) border crossing from or to Nova Scotia FN3. A matter for Clarissa's eventual CBI report -- though Nova Scotia was more or less part of the CNA in many respects, the authorities should have a better idea of who was going in and out of the Confederation proper.

For that matter, Detective-Serjeant Clarissa's report would also have to include some developments "Abby" had noticed on her day job. With the increasing possibility of a Liberal victory in the CNA election, and a consequent increase in the enforcement and severity of clean-water laws there, Great Northern Forest Products was getting ready to lend a hand to its sister firm in Maine. Now that it seemed (from what she had overheard on a radio this morning) that the Liberals were in, she had no doubt that effluent which in reality was going into the Tory Prince Andrew's River FN4 would now (at least on paper) start flowing into the less-regulated Scottie Penobscot. By the time Abby moved on from this job, her alter-ego Clarissa would have the goods on the polluters. The latter's bosses, from Roger Gaffney on up, would be overjoyed to have a clean-water case to trumpet to the new government. The one problem for Clarissa was to solve the case without getting herself transferred into the CBI's chronically understaffed Forensic Accounting Division. Probably the best thing to do was to gift-wrap the evidence and then have Abby "suggest a friend" as a successor, a secretary who would actually be a CBI accountant...

Adam had turned onto a moderately well-paved road and taken the Hurley-Pugh up to about seventy. She gave him an harder squeeze. She literally needed to hang on for dear life, but she was perfectly happy to wrap herself around his warm male animal body. There was nothing feigned in her attraction to Adam, or in their slowly intensifying kissing and fondling. Of course she hadn't slept with him -- why did conventional Tory society automatically assume that a woman who dressed like Abby (borrowed leather jacket over tight halter top, shorts, and long boots) put any lower a value on her virtue? Clarissa's mother had been an Abby herself, but she had played her cards right, married a dentist, and sent a daughter to Yale. If this Abby were a real woman instead of a mere cover identity, marrying an up-and-coming gangster like Adam would be a definite long-term possibility for her, a step up the social ladder though not exactly straight upwards. So like so many women throughout human history, she would carefully keep the growing physical intimacy in proportion to the growing emotional intimacy, as she considered the future.

And as for Clarissa? Much as she liked Adam, he would be a step downward for her, not to mention something of a social liability in her chosen profession. Women in the CBI typically retired when they married, like most professionals. Perhaps someday she'd meet a man for whom she could give up her career, but not for a while. There were worse things than being a career woman for a lifetime, if she could face life without children. It would really be a step up the social ladder if she retired as Dame Clarissa -- such a thing was not out of the question at all for a CBI agent. That would be something to show off at a Chilton Hall reunion!

Not that she had any hope of ever being the most famous alumna even in her year at Chilton, not when her classmate had already visited outer space. Naturally a girl's school in Star's Hollow, Connecticut had revolved around the daughter of Lord Gilmore of Star's Hollow, but Evie Gilmore had deserved all the attention too, as the star performer in nearly every field. As her frequent rival, Clarissa had earned Evie's respect and even a measure of her friendship in spite of the social gap between them. And Clarissa was grateful to Evie and her mother as well, because her favorite aspect of Chilton had been the physical education program.

Lady Anne Gilmore and Evie had convinced the board of governors that a well-bred young lady should be able not only to ride, read Latin and solve quadratic equations, but also swim across a small pond, hike ten miles into a forest and set up camp, or physically discourage an unruly gentleman caller. Mr. "Goss" Lewis (Company Serjeant Major, Royal Corps of North American Marines, Retired) had taught these required subjects with enthusiasm and expertise, and introduced optional instruction and competition in pistol and fencing. (There had been only one school championship Evie had wanted and never won -- Clarissa could not beat that almost-supernatural eyesight on the pistol range but she managed to outfence her every time.) In his off-hours, Serjeant Goss he had been delighted to teach young Clarissa both la savate FN5 and knife-fighting. If any unpleasantness should develop on this assignment, for example, she would have to rely on her hands, feet, and the eight-inch blades in each boot, unless a sword should happen to be lying around. Come to think of it, since these Yanks were history fanatics, you couldn't necessarily rule that possibility out...

They were turning off the MacAdam onto another wood road. She hadn't noticed any road signs for a while. After about a mile, Adam eased the motowheel to a stop, turned, and kissed her hard. She felt his hand on her bare rib under the jacket. She came up for air.

"So where are we? Somewhere near the border?" she asked.

"More or less. I'd rather not say exactly where we are."

"Why not?"

"Well, where we're going next is a bit of a secret. You see, I think it's time you met the General."

Forward to FAN #110A: Between the Rivers.

Forward to 20 August 1974: Come and See the Show, It's a Dynamo .

Forward to Clarissa Forster: Hey Mister, That's Me Up On the Jukebox.

Return to For All Nails.