For All Nails #261: Thunderstruck
by Mike Keating
"The question before us is simple. What can we do to further the revolution now Henry X has no power over the CNA anymore?" George Eskin-Brookline looked around the table and the Samuel Adams Brotherhood's headquarters compound near Boston.
"Good to see the king kicked out of North American affairs; he was a fink. But there were a number of Grand Councilors who wanted to keep the Viceroy. They're still in the Council. Maybe we should do something about that," put forth Stuart Lott, the head of the Tree of Liberty Group. Heads nodded around the table.
Brian Donaldson just shook his head at this. "No, I don't like it," he said. "If we blow up a building without killing anyone, it's one thing. We make a statement for our cause without causing revulsion against murder. But this would just turn everyone against us. They'd see a bunch of wild, malicious assassins. The cause would be set back for decades."
Julius Bauch nodded. "Agreed," he said, "If the Nats pulled a stunt like this, killing one of the ERA backers as a traitor to the Crown, then our cause would be helped as people have an anti-royal reaction. The Masonists would be strengthened and maybe their proposal would be seen in a new light. Now, I'm not saying we should actually ally with the Masonists, or even clue them in on anything. But if they get stronger, it would help us out a-” Bauch trailed off as he noticed that everyone around the table was staring at him. "What?"
George smiled. "The Nats, Julius. That's the key. Here's what we're going to do..."
John O'Dell hated ties. In this heat, he wasn't happy with the dark pants either. But Julius had told him that it was vital he be taken for a Nat by any witnesses. "Which is why you're the one to do this. The shooter has to be someone we don't think the millies or CBI have any description of already. Anyone well-known to them and they'll know the Brotherhood did this," Julius had said.
The Burgoyne organization had been watching the target's movements for three weeks now. It had been determined that Grand Councilor Jacob Lamb left the Council Hall by the front door every Monday around noon for lunch. Other days his timing and exit varied, but Mondays he was reliable. It was on Monday that he always ate at Pane's, and Pane's was only four blocks from the front steps. It was a good coincidence that Pane's was across the street from a nice apartment house. Brotherhood money had sufficed to rent him an apartment with windows facing Cornwallis Street. It hadn't been hard to get a Nat pamphlet, which had been left under the bed. That way it wouldn't look like a deliberate claim of responsibility, but a careless mistake. If the Brotherhood took any credit in the Nats' name, the real Nats would surely deny it. Better to let people figure it out on their own.
Now O'Dell sat at one of those windows with a Whitman rifle. The same kind that the sharpshooters in the CNA Army used, he thought, not for the first time. He looked down at the restaurant, then at the photo beside him. He'd been given as much information on Lamb as was available: 49, from Regina, FN1 Liberal, first elected to the Council in '68. He was exceptionally fat, wore thick glasses with black frames, and was in the process of losing his hair. O'Dell chuckled at assassinating a fat man outside a restaurant. He checked to make sure he had the gloves on. Everyone connected to this operation had been very careful about fingerprints.
A livery pulled up to Pane's. O'Dell watched closely through the rifle scope. It wasn't necessarily Lamb; this was a restaurant frequented by several Grand Councilors. The back door opened, and the fat man from the photo got out. It was Lamb, all right.
Eric Price headed for Pane's with veal on his mind. He noticed the livery pull up with interest, wondering who was in it. He liked this restaurant and knew it was popular with political types. His medical practice was nearby, and eating here let him gawk in person at the faces he could see on the news. A fat man got out of the loke. Eric recognized him as Jacob Lamb from Indiana, who he saw here every now and then. Lamb nodded at him, pleased to see another Pane's regular. They'd never spoken, but when you ate at a place often enough, you remembered the others who did too. "Good afternoon," Lamb said with a smile on his face. They would be the last words he said.
Just then, the back of Lamb's head fountained blood. The air was broken by a loud thunderclap. Eric looked around in confusion as he realized that it was a sunny day . . . where would thunder be coming from? Then he saw the Grand Councilor fall to the ground with a huge exit wound in the forehead. Lamb's eyes were starting to glaze over. Eric knelt by him, doctor's instincts kicking in. He struggled to find a pulse through the layers of fat. There it was... but as soon as his fingers found it, it faded away. Grand Councilor Jacob Lamb was dead.
Eric noted in the back of his mind that he no longer had any appetite. He tried to stand up. But he was shaking at the knees too much, and settled for sitting on the sidewalk against the side of the building. The front door to the restaurant had opened. Waiters and customers were gazing down in shock. "Someone please call the millies," Eric asked them, "and a coroner. I'm a doctor, and this man is dead."
Eric noticed a man in a white shirt, dark tie, and dark pants come out of the apartment house across the street. The man was fussing with a suitcase. His hair was cut short like a Nat. It wasn't until after he'd driven away in a Dickinson that Eric realized Lamb had been one of the more vocal backers of the ERA a few months ago. The pro-British lunatics had been leaving graffiti like "TRAITORS TO THE CROWN" all over Burgoyne ever since. The millies would ask him if he'd gotten the license plate number, but he hadn't. "Did anyone get the license number on that loke?" he asked the onlookers. Nobody had.
O'Dell drove away, switching lokes in an alley a mile away. He was met outside the city by someone from the Burgoyne branch in a third loke. His contact took him to the Burgoyne compound, where he changed his clothes and burned the Nat outfit. The suitcase with the rifle had a few rocks added to it and was tossed into the Allegheny River. Tomorrow morning he would go back to Endicott, just as the Brotherhood statement condemning the murder came out.
(Forward to FAN #262: The Law of Nations.)
(Forward to 23 July 1976: Notwani Road.)
(Forward to Harold Pickett: Turncoats and Telephones.)
(Return to For All Nails.)