The only thing I find difficult is that, being southron, I know less than I should about how things work where the story is set. As I read it I'm learning however.
I despise government, or really anyone thinking that they have the right to run family business.
As for taking kids, well someday I'll get up courage and write a fictional account of the last 10 years of my family life. Truth be told they wouldn't make it into a movie or soap opera because it is so unbelievable.
But anyone trying to touch my kids, or my kith and kin will find problems.
Sad thing is I don't see America as any improvement over Canada in the directions I fear that we are headed.
I have often wondered if Canada might be a safe haven for those who just can't stand the dictatorship tyranny communist fascist state that is evolving here.
I always put in my prayers that I'd really like my old America back. Maybe in Heaven. Looks pretty grim for now, here.
Thanks for sharing the story, just keep writing, and I'll keep reading.
While I admit I'm not grammarian, I'll say that I have no problem getting into the story, and find it to be understandable. Only a few local idioms that I have to puzzle through.
And of course the ideas about how government works are a bit different. I hope that the extremes in the story are feared, and not the current state of events. Then again if I had been asleep for 50 years and then woke up I would not recognize my own country, so maybe the whole world is just gone to hell.
Awareness seeped around the edges of Sarah’s mind. She noted that she was toasty warm under heavy quilts and that she was swaying slightly in the narrow bunk. A childish voice had been singing and cajoling her. Tone and buzz formed themselves into understandable words…
“Oh! Oh! Oh! Sahwie… o be-u-te-ful Sahwie…
Yous de only, only one who Iz a-door…”
The child stopped singing, and tried…
“Oh my Sahwie… Sahwir plain and tall…”
Then with some irritation…
“Sahwie! Please wakes up. Mein Mama und Daddy is gone to heaven and I needs you.”
Sarah’s eye popped open. “Inga?” she said hoarsely.
“Oh Sahwie! Yous awake!” and the little girl began to sob.
“Is she awake Inga?” asked a decidedly male voice.
“Uh-hun. I means yes Jamie. Shoulds I go tell Tante Jan and Dr. P?” asked Inga furiously scrubbing at her eyes.
“Good idea squirt! That would be a big help,” replied Jamie ruffling her hair.
“Hi Sarah,” said Jamie sitting on the chair beside her bed. “My name is James William Cody, but I’m called Jamie.” Jan came up behind him and stood with her hand on the back of his chair. “This is my adopted mother Tante Jan McConnell.”
“Hi Sarah,” said Jan. “Basic answers are – you are safe. You are still on the military transport train headed to Montana. We are on the US side of the border having left the secured rail yard in Buffalo. Specifically, we are headed by train to Whitefish, Montana. From there we are being trucked to Rexford, Montana. At the moment you are coming with us. But we need some information from you. You okay to speak with us?”
Sarah closed her eyes. “Where are my sister and brother-in-law?”
“I’m sorry Sarah, but you, Inga and the twins were the sole survivors of the rocket attack,” said Jan softly.
Out of the dark of the rail carriage emerged Sergeant Donaldson and Dr. P.
“Sergeant, we were correct in our determination that Sarah is the children’s maternal aunt. We don’t as of yet know why she was stowed away.” Jan told the man.
“Care to explain yourself? Especially in light of the fact that we would have made room for you in the rail car,” said Sgt. Donaldson.
“I had to get away from our farm. Mien mutter und sister arranged for me. The Agricultural Inspector wanted a new girl. For a while it was my sister, then she got too old. But she said she would never let it happen to me. Then mien fader tells me it is my turn. It is not right. If I go to him we keep the farm but no one will marry me. If I no go, he will take away our farm. The Inspector, he has done it before. That is why my sister’s husband was shunned. He refused to let his sister go and they lost the farm. That is why he married my sister. He understand.” Sarah was tired from speaking so much English.
“How old are you Sarah?” asked Jan.
“I am seventeen years,” she said. Jamie smiled at her and Sarah blushed. Jan rolled her eyes and the Sergeant smiled.
“Sahwie,” said Inga. “Dis ist Dr. P. He is good doctor. He not give needles and he make sure my ouchies get better. He needs to look at yours.”
Sarah saw the elderly gentleman and watched the respect and care that everyone gave him and nodded.
“Step back you vultures,” laughed Dr. P shooing the audience away. Jamie continued to sit in the seat. “You too young man. Off you go. I know that Jan has work for you, so git.”
With everyone moved out of the way, Dr. P sat down on the char beside Sarah. “Now young lady,” he said. “The x-rays showed no broken bones and your lungs are clear. You do however have extensive scarring on your back. Would you care to explain?”
Sarah nodded. “Mein fader beat me when I did not listen and do as he said. He also hurt mein mutter.”
“Thank you for telling me. I will relay that to the authorities so that she can be given some options,” he said softly.
“Now we are headed out to Montana. Do you wish to come with us or do you want to be returned to Ontario?”
Sarah put her head down, and then looked up but not at Dr. P, but past him. She looked at Jamie and said, “I want to go to Montana with you. I’ll pull my weight and help. Please don’t send me back.”
Jamie smiled with relief. Jan and the Sergeant had to turn their heads to keep from laughing.
The Sergeant coughed and said, “Good… now how many have we saddled you with? And here is the million dollar question… if we need you to, will you take more?”
Jan groaned as she did the math. “There will be thirty-four of us when my husband comes home. As for more. Please not for a bit. We need to get settled and stable. But there will always be room at the table. Why do you ask?”
The Sergeant grimaced. “Have a kid from my hometown who keeps trying to enlist. But he’s only sixteen. He needs to get away from his brother-in-law.”
“Whose he to you?” Jan asked.
“My late brother’s youngest. I have to get him out but I’m old Army mule with no home to give him.” The Sergeant looked sad for a moment. “Will you at least consider?”
“Let me get the house up and then send him,” Jan said. He nodded
But, the Sergeant was not a happy man. Something was off and he was not used to questioning his orders… but dang it all something was not kosher… He had been trying to find out what had happened to Angus Jones for some time. No answers. Or, ones that slid sideways. Or, suggestions that the family was a problem. Sideways talk… As far as he was concerned, Jan McConnell had been pleasure to deal with. Straight-up and rolling with the punches, she had simply moved forward making decision of the fly that had serious long term repercussions. He had heard from several others that the kids on their evac turned the voyage into a nightmare. No problem with this crew, and with parents dead and kids themselves attacked, they had every reason to be acting out. But somehow Jan kept them all moving forward. His father would have called her a collie dog – kept the herd together and pointed in the right direction.
But something was off with the manner in which Jones was being handled. He pulled out his off the radar cell phone… well it wasn’t off radar, it was just that the contract was in his married niece’s name. He made several calls over the next hour to other sergeants on other bases and asked that they put their ears to the ground on this one. One called a friend who was a Master Chief and the inquiry spread. By the time he had reached Sandusky, OH, Sergeant Donaldson had some answers.
He knew who Jones was with, but not why. By Elkhart, he had the why too. The whole thing made him sick to his stomach and there were a whole lot of other unhappy people too. Worst of all is that in the past hour both Jones and the soldiers who had been accompanying him had dropped out of sight and no one knew hows, whys or wheres. He pulled out the map and looked at their route.
‘Oh Ch---!’ he screamed mentally. ‘He’s in Dowagiac, MI! The Michigan National Guard has him…’
“Stop! NOW!” shouted out a voice from the left side of the room. William Edward Marc Mezvinsky, the youngest ever Vice President of the United States, scion of a legendary political family, stood up. “This line of discussion will halted immediately.”
The room went silent.
John stood up, it took him a moment, but he did it. He turned and looked at the Vice President. The anger, fury and fear on the man’s face were perfectly evident.
“Young man,” start John. “Young man, you are not responsible for the choices of your grandparents on either side – Clinton or Mezvinsky. The point of this inquiry is to clarify history and answer questions and by George, the record will be entered. Your preference not to have it discussed is not relevant. Major, does this discussion fall under the classified portion of the Secrets Act?”
“No Mr. McConnell, it does not,” replied the General firmly.
“Mr. Vice President, you may not halt this discussion. Your future is your own. Stop riding on coat tails and make a reputation of your own. You are more than capable. Take after your mother. She was a fine woman once she found her own stride. Now gentlemen,” and John looked at the Congressmen. “I’m going to ask that you excuse the Vice President from the rest of this session. Young man, I suggest that you spend some time thinking about the role you are supposed to be playing for all of us. Not just for the few that bankroll you or who are your kin. You were elected to represent us all.”
To his eternal surprise, the Vice President found himself removed from the room and the door closed in his face. It was the first time in his life that he had ever been told ‘no’ and it wasn’t sitting well.
Dosadi - the communities of Fenelon Falls, Bobcaygeon, Cameron, and Lindsay fall within what used to be called Victoria County in the Province of Ontario, Canada. In 1999 and 2000, the government of Ontario forcibly amalgamated a number of communities in an attempt to lower costs (never works) and Victoria County became the City of Kawartha Lake (CoKL) with Lindsay as its seat. It has been a disaster and is pretty much universally detested. The whole area is cottage country with close to 50% of all homes being seasonally occupied. The south end is farming with some small scale manufacturing. The north end is into the Canadian Shield, a geologic formation which is mostly granite outcrops covered by thin soils and lots of lakes - ideal for cottages and the remains of a logging industry.
In this story I have taken items that have occurred and followed them to their most extreme. Things like the School Board survey and the religious icon act are true. How they could be used is also possible - thankfully it hasn't happened yet.
If there are some idioms that you don't know, please ask. A double double is a coffee with two cream and two sugar. A coffee with nothing in it is called black.
I am glad that you are enjoying the story. It is a small way that I can say thank you to you and the other authors whose work I have enjoyed so much over the past year that I have been lurking and reading.
That afternoon, they arrived in Chicago. Jan was just glad that they had reached this half way point without further incident and any further additions to the family. She felt like a magnet for waifs and strays. Sergeant Donaldson advised her that would be in Chicago for 24-hours while some things were dealt with.
“Where in Chicago are we going to be?” Jan asked.
“Well I am not very happy about it, but we are going to be in the Metra Rail Yard right down town,” he said.
“Terrific!” Jan exclaimed. “If I recall the map we were looking at last night that is by West Roosevelt Road. That’s only a couple of blocks from the Field Museum and the Shad Aquarium. Any chance you guys can get us in? Usually you have to buy tickets weeks in advance for places like that.”
“Dang woman!?!” the Sergeant exclaimed. “Does nothing discourage you?”
Jan looked at him and then said in a very precise voice. “If nothing else I have learned in the past several weeks that nothing in life is assured. I have seen my country invaded, lost my family’s farm and my husband, friends and families I have known a lifetime morph into people I don’t know, been adopted by twenty-eight children and two old people…” She paused for breath.
“The museum and aquarium strike me as better options than having to keep the kids cooped up inside the box cars all day. Metra is going to be a busy yard and I doubt they have the facilities that the Buffalo yard had. So running the kids down to the lake and blowing some cobwebs out is going to do us all a world of good.”
The Sergeant nodded. “I’ll see if I can scrounge up some transport. With the doctor, Mrs. Jones and all the babies, you can’t walk it.”
As it was now getting on to dinner, she fired Andrea and Sama off to do the milking with John and David as their apprentices. Several of the boys went to check on the rest of their livestock. Gail went to see how the horses were doing. Jamie was still sitting beside Sarah. The goods they had kept had been packed onto a new boxcar and it was now at the end of the train. Heather and Mary had been in there all afternoon trying to sort out what they had. Jan sent Sally to retrieve them.
Mean time she got down to dinner. She used the canned pork from their lost hog, stir fried with onions, dried mushrooms and garlic. For colour, she added in some canned edemame. It was served over rice with two more loaves of bread to fill up the hollow legs on the boys. Dessert was apple crisp, using the canned apples from this year’s crop, some flour, oatmeal, brown sugar and some of that hard fought for butter.
They sat down around the table and Jan looked at the bright, freshly washed faces and said Grace.
“Tomorrow,” she told the children. “We are going to meet a very famous individual named Sue. Does anyone know who she is?”
The guesses came fast and furious… movie star… singer… athlete… but no one could guess. The children laughed and giggled and poked fun at each other’s ideas. Finally they all gave up.
“Sue,” Jan told them, “Is a dinosaur. More importantly, Sue is a 67 million year old T-Rex, and she lives at The Field Museum in Chicago. We will be going there in the morning and to the Shedd Aquarium in the afternoon.”
The kids cheered and they began to talk.
“Unfortunately, they were the only ones talking,” said John. “In a room lit by a single light in the back of a building in Dowagiac, MI, Jones was receiving blow after blow as they tried to get him to speak. That he might not know anything about which they were speaking didn’t occur to them. The Michigan National Guard was a machine of the Blue States. Entirely separate from them, were the Michigan Militias, who were primarily Red. Michigan was mobilizing its National Guard to go to the aid of their friends in Ontario. Jones looked like a good source of information. They were willing to do whatever they needed to get the information from him.
“There were many who understood that this action of assisting Ontario would result in Michigan having to cede from the Union. A State cannot turn against its own federal government and not have it devolve into Civil War. For many the sound of fists hitting Angus Jones, was the sound that started the 2nd Civil War.”
I love your story. Have fun skiing and don't break a leg.
The right of the people to keep and bear arms is an extension of the natural right to self-defense and a hallmark of personal sovereignty. It is specifically insulated from governmental interference by the Constitution and has historically been the linchpin of resistance to tyranny.” – Judge Andrew P. Napolitano
Lake lilli...I so love this! One question...last page back, in the "future" you stated that Matt and Sarah danced around before getting married...but Jamie seems to be the one around her in the "present"... Is this correct, and there is some major plot twist coming, or did you perhaps mean to state thata Sarah and Jamie (not Matt) were married?
Lake lilli...I so love this! One question...last page back, in the "future" you stated that Matt and Sarah danced around before getting married...but Jamie seems to be the one around her in the "present"... Is this correct, and there is some major plot twist coming, or did you perhaps mean to state thata Sarah and Jamie (not Matt) were married?
Thanks for catching this!!! Appreciated... will go back and correct. You are correct it was Jamie she married. With civil war coming, there is a different future for Matt.
It has been a thought (probably fear) of mine that a time when there will be a "Balkanization" into countries of makers and takers.
The Takers, and those they elect to do the taking for them, are finding fewer and fewer makers willing to be looted to keep the takers alive.
Also like any parasite, the takers are trying to kill the host. Not on purpose, but that is the nature of takers. Makers either get rid of the takers, or die. It has no other possible ending.
I am truly looking forward to seeing where this story plays out. I see it as something inevitable. I do not welcome it, I have seen the face of war, and war is never pretty.
Or the way some have put it: No one prays for peace as much as those who have seen war. (That is a poor paraphrase, but best I can do from memory.)
Thanks for explaining things a bit. Just goes to show you that the truth is that there are those who make, and those who take everywhere. Call them Conservitive, and liberal, call them good and evil, no difference. The two cannot live together for ever. One or the other has to die. Problem for takers is that once they get rid of makers, they die also, just as any parasite cannot live without a host to eat.
“There is nothing like happy, laughing kids,” Jan said smiling at her mother-in-law and Dr. P. The three of them watched as the kids ran around the main hall of the Field Museum.
When they had first come in, Jan had wished that there was a camera to record their faces as they looked at the T-Rex named Sue. The older ones had been awed and talked about excavation and extraction techniques. The little ones had been scared by the enormous jaw and teeth, and The Three Amigos had instantly become roaring dinosaurs, chasing around with all the other small boys who were visiting. They were egged on by John and David, who decided that as much fun as it looked, they were too old and cool to participate. But, all were having a good time.
They also saw the whale and elephants in the same hall, and the display of the mummified baby wooly mammoth. Sama had sketched the totem pole. They visited the vast collection of Native American artifacts.
“There are twelve tribal groups in Montana,” said Jan telling the kids about the new state they were moving too. The three Amigos were already shooting off imaginary bows and arrows as they hunted the little girls. The girls squealed and hid behind the adults, peeking out only enough to keep the game going.
One of the docents helped find the artifacts relating to the Native peoples of the Rexford area. They were the Ksunka people – the People of the Standing Arrow, now called the Kootenai. They learned that the Blackfoot and Flathead tries had reservations within a day’s drive.
“These were the original peoples of the area we are going to live in,” Jan told the children. “It would behoove us to remember that the Kootenai now mostly live in Idaho because the terms of their treaty were ignored. Just to the east of us is where the Blackfoot live. They were the traditional enemies of the Kootenai. To the south are the Flathead, Pend d’Oreille and the Salish, who were related by language, culture and intermarriage.”
They continued through the Mineralogy section and looked at the different types of rocks and minerals and how they were formed. They then took the 20-minute organized Nature Walk. The kids learned all about ecosystems and the sights and sounds of nature. The staff was very good at directing the details of the walk to a Rocky Mountain ecosystem.
With the walk over, it was lunch time for them all. They took their lunch out to the park between the museum and the aquarium. It was a gorgeous sunny November day and thankfully the breeze of Lake Michigan was not too cool. Jan pulled out a soccer ball, and Matt and Jamie organized the kids into two teams and they had a wonderful time racing about. She couldn’t believe how much energy they all had. As she basked in the warmish sunlight, Jan realized that this was the first day in which she was not operating on a panic level and the slower pace was good for her too.
The Shedd Aquarium was possibly even a greater highlight then Sue. The kids loved the Polar Play Zone with is beluga submarine and penguin costumes. One of the museum staff had a camera. Kindly, she took pictures for Jan and printed them for her while the kids played.
John paused for a moment and took a sip of water. “Here is the original photo,” he said. “It’s a bit faded, but next to my family, it is my greatest treasure. I’m in the middle row... on the left… at the end.”
The page took the photo and passed it up to the Committee Members. It passed down the line and they all got a look for the first time at the people in the story. Dr. P. and Mrs. Jones, Jan McConnell and the scrawny twelve-year old John McConnell… The gaggle of children smiling, happy and mugging slightly for the camera…
In the Polar Play Zone, the children watched the otters and penguins play and slide in their enclosure. The staff were kind and went out of their way to answer questions. They even let John and David lend a hand feeding fish to the penguins. The boys were thrilled. They then went and saw the One World Show with is dolphins, sea lions and beluga whales.
It was a full day and everyone was brain-dead from the amount they had seen. They were all dragging and grumbling verging into irritable, as the put their coats on and gathered their items for the bus ride back to the rail yard. Before they left the building, they all split up and went and used the bathrooms. They met-up by the front door. As she was coming out of the bathroom, Mrs. Jones was met by an officer in full swat gear.
“Mrs. Jones?” He inquired.
Allison Jones looked at him. “Yes, I am Mrs. Jones.”
“Would you come with me, please.” He stated. Although polite, his tone brooked no argument.
“Why officer?” She asked, not moving.
“There is an outstanding international warrant out for your arrest. Please come quietly. If you do not make a scene, you will not be cuffed at this time.” He said.
‘Ah!’ she though. ‘This is the good cop.’
“Officer, can you advise me of the charges?” she asked.
“I believe that it has to do with the illegal removal of a child, your son, from Canada,” said the officer.
“Officer, are you aware that we did not leave voluntarily but rather were removed from our farm by the US Army?” Mrs Jones asked him.
“So I have been told you would say,” said the officer, clearly not impressed with her. “But Canadian authorities have personally confirmed to me that there are no US military personal operating within Canadian territorial boundaries.”
Jan, worried about the delay had started to come forward when she saw her mother-in-law speaking with the police officer. Dr. P. though held her back.
“Take the children out to the bus Jan. Do it right now. No arguments,” ordered Dr. P. “Get the driver to radio Donaldson. I will keep watch.”
Jan eased back. She wanted to argue but knew that it could escalate things and they currently had no back-up. She eased the kids out the door and around the corner and onto the bus.
“Sit. NOW. No talking,” she ordered. “Driver get us back to the rail yard immediately. Get on the horn to Donaldson and tell him that the Chicago PD is arresting my mother-in-law.”
“Yes Mam” said the young soldier. He closed the door and eased them out of the bus parking lot as he radioed in.
The response was fast. “On it. Return to base stat. Who is still there?”
“Dr. P. and the mother-in-law” replied the Private.
“Will extract. Prepare for immediate departure,” squawked the radio.
The five minute drive took eight with the traffic, but they had seen the army trucks arriving and the soldiers getting out as they left. The bus pulled up right beside the rail car and everyone ran up the stairs.
“Mary and Sarah, please put the babies down for a nap. Heather and Sally could you please wrangle the little onto their bed for a nap. Matt, Jamie, Eric and Eggie – please go check on the livestock. Sama and Andrea could you and John and David please go and get the milking started. I know it’s a bit early, but we are going to be underway soon.
“Now children… I don’t have a lot of information, but the Chicago PD have just tried to arrest Grandma. I don’t know the details, but it seems likely that they actually want me. The Sergeant has gone to get it sorted out and we will be pulling out as soon as they are back.
“Now Heather, could you and Lydie and Gail please help me get dinner started. If I haven’t given you a job, please go and play quietly.”
Jan was attempting not to show how incredibly panicked she was. She tried to think about how Jones would feel and decided that in the end he’d be relieved that John was safe.
Twenty minutes later the train began to move. Mrs. Jones, Dr. P and the Sergeant walked into the car. The children cheered and were shooed to finish tasks before dinner.
Later after dinner, with the children settled and playing, the adults sat quietly with cups of coffee.
“I have to say Mrs. McConnell, that your mother-in-law was brilliant,” said Sergeant Donaldson. “I felt rather sorry for the police officer by the time she was done. By the time I got there, with my men in place, she was…”
“That is quite enough,” said Mrs. Jones. “I just pointed out to him that as a mature woman in my early sixties, I was scarcely in a position to have a child young enough to fall under the draconian Canadian law that prevented the removal of a child from Canada. I advised that my son was in his thirties and that since he had left with the US army, I did not know his whereabouts.”
“By the time she was through with him,” said Dr. P. “The man was apologizing for having bothered her. But she did walk out the door under her own power. We then got into a truck driven by a soldier and came right back here.
“Sergeant, there are two things that concern me. The biggest one is how did they know where we were. Not that we were in Chicago. That could, I suppose, be determined by available routes. But the Aquarium… it was a very small circle of people who knew what was planned. I don’t know what else is going on but you need to take a good look at your staff. Someone is talking…”
“Sadly, I would concur,” agreed Donaldson. “There are a couple of developments underway that impact us and part of why we are screaming out of town as fast as this train will go. Trains are great for large scale mass transport, like we are doing with the families from your area, and areas across the Province. The problem is that they can easily be stopped, and we need to be clear Minnesota within 15 hours. It should not take us longer than 13-hrs 30-min to get to Fargo. It’s another hour and a quarter to Grand Forks but we are still along the state border. The next station is another hour and a quarter west in Devils Lake, ND. I hope that will put us far enough west.
“Mrs. McConnell… initially this train was supposed to go through Windsor and your husband was to meet us in Detroit. Due to the increased insurgency in the south western part of Ontario, we went through Buffalo. When the train did not arrive, your husband was supposed to be brought to Chicago to meet up with us. Half way through Michigan, he and the soldiers guarding him were removed from the train. We believe they are now being held by the Michigan National Guard.”
“He’s okay then?” Asked Jan.
“We don’t know,” said the Sergeant bluntly. “Our orders to go into Canada came through the correct channels and with the full support of both houses and the President. However not all the states are in agreement. Do you understand the Blue/Red divide amongst our states? Well, Michigan is a blue state. And they have decided that the US Federal government has overstepped its bounds in going into Canada. So, Michigan is mobilizing their National Guard to go in and assist Canada, and Ontario in particular. Where one Blue State goes, we presume that the others will follow. So we need to get through Wisconsin and Minnesota before tomorrow morning. We should be safe once we reach North Dakota. It being a Red State.
“The issue that you brought up Dr. P. is a big one. When you join the US Army you are not asked your political affiliations and military units are not comprised of only one or the other, so it is possible that a Blue in our unit is talking to someone. That will be dealt with.”
“So the race was on again,” John told the attentive audience. “Once it was us praying that the US Army would save us. Now the US Army was praying that they could do the same. You know in this world, we are never given guarantees. In Jerimiah 29, it says only that the Lord has great plans for us, plans that will prosper us and that He will not harm us. There is no guarantees that we will not face hard times. You can only pray that in the end.
“Our engineer, a fine man we were pleased to meet many years later, ran that train flat out. Men and women we would never meet kept the lines clear, and the switches in the right order, and really, we almost made it. Or rather I should say that we did make it to Fargo, but as dawn came, we still had to get through Grand Falls.”
I would like to note here that I am sure that the Michigan National Guard, like all other National Guard units in the US, is comprised of soldiers who have and continue to serve with honour and valour. It is my understanding that their primary purpose is to be the first line of defense for their state and that their use in wars fought overseas is a relatively new addition to their duties and was ordered so that the Federal Government would not to have to call up their draftees.
If someone who has served could clarify this for me in a PM, it would be greatly appreciated.
The Police Office Todd Stewart was not a happy man. He had returned to his station without the woman. He had been embarrassed that she had been so easily and logically able to refute the information he had. She was obviously not the mother of a young son. Her driver’s license clearly showed her to be in her early sixties. He had even looked at the photos in her wallet. They showed her with a young woman, obviously a grown daughter, and her two girls in their teens. There was also a small studio photo of a young man on his own, who looked identical to the older man in the photo with the woman. The obituary clipping indicated that the man had died several years prior.
He sat down at this desk and looked again at the arrest warrant. He was going to have to give his boss an explanation in short order.
Looking more closely, he saw something that was off. It had to do with the number calling in the warrant. It was a 269 number with a 782 prefix… That wasn’t a Canadian number. Now 269 was a south west Michigan area code for the areas around Battle Creek, Bedford, Dowagiac, Kalamazoo and Portage. But the 782 prefix was for Dowagiac only… Why would a call be originating from there…
Then he began to look again at the warrant. He pulled out another warrant, and held them up to the light… slightly different spacing… colour slightly off… no batch number I the bottom left corner… It was laser printed so had come in as a pdf document. This had not come over the wire as usual. He could only conclude that the warrant was fake. But why?
Also he hadn’t done any foot work on this. He’d been given the woman’s name and been told that they would be at the Aquarium in the afternoon. Who in Michigan would have known precisely where the woman was at that time… A private message flashed up on his screen. Time to go face is boss…
He arrived in the office one floor up and was surprised to see his union rep there. He was not offered a seat and the axe fell swiftly. There were a litany of complaints from the Chief and normally none of them would amount to a hill of beans, let alone involve his union rep, but apparently the failure to apprehend the woman was the crux.
“Do you have anything to say for yourself?” finished off the Chief.
“Yes,” said the Officer Stewart. “I want the record to show that the woman was not the one identified on the warrant and that the warrant itself was a fake issued not in Canada but from the National Guard base in Dowagiac, MI.”
The Police Chief looked at him. “Request for the record to show… denied. You will clear out your desk and leave within 20-minutes. You will be escorted to the door. Hand over your gun and badge. Wait outside the door.”
The Stewart did as requested. He felt naked without a gun. Thankfully he had several unpapered ones at home.
The Union Rep was not a happy man. He hated sacrificial goats and knew one when he saw him.
“Change is in the air,” the Police Chief said. “I can’t afford independent thinkers any more. There will be a few more to cull. Too bad in a way they were good officers but I am going to need men who do what I tell them. We’ll deep six him tonight.”
“Unfortunate move... That one was so clean he squeaked. I’ll finish him here,” said the rep.
Outside the door, the former police officer waited.
When he was joined by the rep, there was no talk beyond the clear out your desk and quietly under his breath, “Do not talk in here. Will tell you outside.”
Todd Stewart had his desk cleared out in ten minutes. His former colleagues stayed well away. Even his partner would not speak to him. That one hurt but he wasn’t surprised the man had to work here still. As they left the building, other officers drifted to the door. It was an unspoken goodbye and Todd appreciated it.
Outside by his car, his rep only said “Get in and drive to Louis’.”
Todd drove over to the bar frequented by his precinct. There out of line of the cameras, the union rep swept the car and removed two homing devices and three listening devices.
“Okay,” said the man. “Best I can do. Here’s a letter from your partner. I have not opened it. I can’t afford to know the contents. I am not sure what is going on but there are a number of you who are about to be let go. None of you should have been but there seems to be no recourse on it. The Union is just trying to minimize the potential issues, so we are helping as we can. You have about five hours to get out of town before this termination will become permanent. Kapeesh. Do you have somewhere you can go?”
“Good, I am not going to ask. I’ve called Ginny’s work place and arranged for her to be terminated without cause. I have also directed your pension to be issued to her as your severance pay, so that you have start-up money. Her company is doing the same thing. Spend it wisely. You know what I mean. She should be home now. Cash those cheques and take cash only. Cut up your credit cards and give me your cellphone. I don't know if they will try and track you but assume they will. Get Ginny to leave her’s behind too. At your house is an old horse trailer. I used $800 of your money to buy it. Owner has left his plates on it. Now get out of here. Time is really ticking for you.”
Todd shook the man’s hand and got into his car. Quickly he opened the letter.
Just got orders for a drug raid. The address is yours. Not sure what is going on but if I can extract, will meet you as discussed.
Four and a half hours later, Todd and Ginny Stewart and their Akita, Max, were past Marengo heading to Rockford on Hwy 20.
Five hours after Todd’s abrupt dismissal, the SWAT team came through his front door with a battering ram. It had not been necessary as the door was not locked and the key in it. The three black teens in their gangsta clothing smoking crack in the living room, died in a hail of bullets. Three hours after their faces and names and an image of 6 bricks of cocaine, baggies full of pills and scales were shown on the news. Their mothers cried and swore they were good boys who didn't do drugs and had no gang affiliations. No one believed them.
By that time Todd, Ginny and Max, were sitting in their dog-friendly Days Inn motel room in Fort Dodge Iowa, wondering what the heck had just happened. They sat and planned out the rest of their trip home to Eureka, MT.
In a cell in the police station in Dowagiac, two young soldiers were wondering the same thing. They were being held for drunk & disorderly and assault & battery of a man in bar. The fact that neither had a scratch on him, or had a blown a positive result for alcohol, nor could the bar tender remember their being there, or the cameras show their presence, or the assaulted man remember seeing them… None of that could save them from a 15-day sentence. They were not permitted a telephone call or a lawyer. Their failure to contact or return to their unit resulted in a warrant for being AWOL being issues.
One of the guards at their prison unit they were sent to was puzzled. Neither man was a disciplinary issue, nor had either committed the type of crime that would warrant their being in a high security unit. And yet both men were being held in isolation. He spoke with them and could see their dismay and confusion and their concern for each other. The other inmates kept telling him that there was something about them. He did the unacceptable and checked them out. What he found made him do the career ender. He sent a letter to the man who they claimed to be their commanding officer. Surprisingly it reached him – along with full copies of the arrest, charges, court case and incarceration.
At the end of the fifteen-day sentence, their commanding officer was waiting for them at the prison gates. It was December 1st, and they had to admit that they had no idea where Jones was or who had him. All they could remember was getting off the train as directed in Dowagiac. They had walked into the train station and woken up in a jail cell.
Their commanding officer looked at them. “Who changed your orders to get off before Chicago?”
They all looked at each other and then at the sign for Dowagiac, MI. They left in the opposite direction.
“Winter was coming in Ontario,” John said. “In more ways than the literal. All the farmers that wanted to leave Ontario were be moved out by December 15th. Also gone were most of the people with heritage skills. Villages across the rural US bid for blacksmith and ferries. Anyone else who wanted to leave to build a life where honest work gave honest reward had been given safe passage. The ones left expected bread and circuses.
“The people of Ontario woke up on December 16th to find that they were largely on their own. That was all fine and well until they tried to leave. Suddenly Canadian passports were no longer accepted at the US border and no one was coming north. Planes could not take off. A chain-link fence now ran along the Manitoba/Ontario border. Access to all Ontario residents denied, not that many headed that directions. Few went to Quebec either even though technically the border was open. An inability to speak French kept that access closed. Quebec balkanized as New France re-emerged long the St. Lawrence River Valley. The Native population to the north of the Laurentians closed off access and turned off the taps to the James Bay Hydro Project. They were backed up by the US Marines. The copper and gold mines and the copper smelter at Noranda-Rouyn and Val d’Or were now being run to US benefit.
“Stores began to close as stock was cleared out. In the Federal Parliament buildings in Ottawa, the voices were loud. In Toronto at the Legislative Assembly there was a great deal of squawking. But nothing compared to the squawking the happened as people began to find their cupboards empty. The Daily Bread Food Bank showed its empty warehouses on television, but people still broke in. Churches had to halt their Soup Kitchens as there was nothing to feed anyone with. Gangs of men went hunting for the farmers but found the family farms vacant – to the ground. Only empty cellars remained. The large commercial farms were desperate for employees. They had never recognized how dependent they were on smaller producers for the things that made their farms work. They began to take over the small farms and the gangs of hungry became chain-gang labour on the new farms. Anything for a piece of daily bread…
“In Bobcaygeon, the diary had become an armed camp. Milk deliveries became intermittent and people stole cows out of fields because they were hungry and someone owed them. Finally the dairy closed. Then the village turned the Ravens and their kin out. They were put on the road where they joined hundreds of other wandering peoples. My cousins had long ago vanished into the maelstrom created by the schools. My uncle was killed in a brawl near the US border. With nothing left to loose, my aunt walked up to a US border guard. She told them that her mother and brother had gone to Rexford, MT, and she wanted to join them. She told them that she had the money for the bus fare.
“She would probably still not have got across the border except for one of those strange coincidences that happen. Now I am not a fan of coincidence, I’d rather think that occasionally our Heavenly Father answers a prayer for us. The Lt. J.A. Ferguson, who had now risen to the rank of Captain, who had coordinated our move from the farm was with his unit, preparing to deal with another border skirmish, was in the guard post and heard the story. He got her through and put her on the bus.
“It took her 38-hours on that bus, not including a few stop overs. But she made it to Rexford. For a while she lived with my grandmother and Dr. P. Eventually though the not knowing about her own kids made her go back. She vanished into the mess that Ontario became and we all lost track of her. About sixty years ago, three young women came here. They were looking for their great grandmother’s grave. Eventually, we determined that they might be Becky’s grandchildren, but they didn’t have any proof, only disjointed stories told by their mother of a magical place called Bobcaygeon, a dairy and a family named Raven.”
Very very good. But boy, sure hope you are not a prophetess, sitting on da Rock!
1Pe 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore of sound mind, and be sober unto prayer
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Joh 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.
Grand Forks was an adventure. The train pulled into the Grand Forks rail yard in the early morning hours. As a community it has more than 50,000 people strung around the confluence of the Red Lake and Red Rivers. From there the Red River floods its way north across the border into Manitoba, devastating communities like Winnipeg on a regular basis before emptying into Lake Winnipeg.
Sergeant Donaldson had been monitoring the airwaves and all was calm for the minute. The Michigan National Guard was in the process of standing up, but they had not moved yet. There was no sign of movement amongst the Minnesota Army and Air National Guard. The polarization between Blue and Red over the previous century made for uncertainty… There was something in the wind but there was no strength as of yet behind the whisper… but as Donaldson said, all of it above his pay grade.
After much discussion it was decided that they would take some of their pooled resources and hit the Walmart. The Walmart on 32nd Street South was a 24-hour Super Center. Jan, Mrs. Jones, Heather and Sarah prepared to go, with Matt, Jamie and two soldiers as guards. Mary had volunteered to stay behind with Dr. P. Sama, Andrea, Eric and Eggie were awaiting the delivery of feed for the animals. They had contacted the manager of the UAP store on South Washington the night before.
Mr. & Mrs. Nikells, who owned and managed the UAP, and whose sons had both served in the Sandbox, were pleased to assist with another military venture. As the train pulled in, the Nikells were there in the rail yard with fresh straw, hay, chicken feed and some treats that Mrs. Nikells had made for the children. They also brought 500-lbs of dent corn, 500-lbs of oats, and 500-lbs of red wheat berries. All of it untreated and fit for human consumption. Additionally, they brought three boxes of canned goods donated by the Ladies at the First Presbyterian. Jan was practically in tears and she and Mrs. Nikells exchanged addresses and promised to stay in touch.
“What else do you need to get here in town?” she asked Jan.
“We need to go to Walmart and also if there is a thrift store… the kids are really short of clothes, especially with winter coming on,” Jan replied.
“Al!” called Mrs. Nikells. “Get on the horn and roust Jacob out of bed. My nephew is the Service Manager over at the Walmart, he’ll get you a couple of associates so that you can whip through there. The Sally Ann is located just south of the Walmart and the manager, JJ North, is a friend of ours. While Al is calling Jacob, let me get JJ.”
Mrs. Nikells whipped out her cell phone and began dialing with no concern to the early hour. “How do Lucy girl. Is your daddy around? [pause while she waits] JJ honey it’s Mary Lou Nikells. I’ve got a nice young woman here who is part of that evac from up north and she’s on her way to Montana and ended up with 27 orphans in addition to the one of her own. Can we get some cloth to cover these bodies? Jacob is going to get her some canning supplies from Wally-world and he’ll give her a discount or I’ll take a broom to him.
She paused for a breath and JJ finally got a word in edgewise.
“Oh you do?” Mary Lou Nikells covered the phone. “Jan, dear, he has three pressure cookers that have screw-down lids do you want them? They’ll be about $5 each.”
“Yes, please!” said Jan unaware that her eyes were shinning.
“They also have five flats of pint jars… [she paused and listened again] and a whole bunch of winter clothes and boots for the kids. Okay we are leaving here for Walmart in about 10 minutes. With what they need, we should be clear of there by 6:30am. Can you have the store open? Can Maj. Lynn be there? I know she would appreciate being able to meet Mrs. McConnell and fellowship with her, although the Sergeant here is giving me the eye, so we can’t be too long.”
In her own way, Mary Lou Nikells was as efficient and effective as Sgt. Donaldson. He later admitted that the US Army could do with a few like her.
‘Well that was an experience!’ thought Jan, thinking of the royal treatment they got at Walmart. Mary Lou and Al’s nephew, Jacob, was a pleasant, almost earnest young man who was clearly in terrified awe of his aunt as she swept them through the store. She drove a hard bargain. And with all the stock coming from the back rather than off the shelves, she got everything for them at 10% over wholesale cost with half of the cost over wholesale being donated to the First Presbyterian Church.
They bought 500-lbs of rice, 1000-lbs of white sugar and 500-lbs of brown. It was while they were loading up on yeast, baking powder and baking soda the Mrs. Jones turned around and bumped into a man who had appeared unexpectedly behind her. He obviously had not expected her to move either as he was turned talking to another woman. They looked at each other and while he looked shocked, Mrs Jones let out a squeal of terror. The soldiers came running and the man found himself slammed against the floor. This time the squeal of terror came from the other woman.
“It’s him!” Mrs. Jones kept saying. “He’s the one!”
“The one what?” asked Jan.
“That’s the policeman who tried to arrest me in Chicago? Why is he following us?” sobbed Mrs. Jones, panic swamping terror.
The woman grabbed at Mrs. Jones. “You’re the reason!” she spat. “You’re the reason we’ve lost everything!”
Jan and Jamie pulled them apart.
“Mam,” said Jamie politely. “I don’t know who you are. But some policeman tried to arrest my grandmother for illegally removing her son from Canada. Her son is 35-years old. It got sorted out and we left Chicago. We had no further contact with the police and have no idea what you are talking about.”
The soldiers had lifted Todd Stewart to his feet.
“Young man,” said Todd. “I was given a warrant to execute and told to make an arrest. As you know nothing about your grandmother fit the warrant and so I released her and returned to the precinct. I then determined that the warrant was fraudulent. Despite that it was determined that I had somehow failed in my duties and was terminated. The Union Rep assisted us but told us to amscram asap. Several hours after we departed, my precinct conducted a drug raid on our former home and killed three kids. Ginny has lost her home and job and everything we could not fit in a trailer. Really all we have is each other, so please excuse her frustration.”
The soldiers looked at each other. “I think it best sir,” said one of them. “That you speak with our Sergeant. You might be able to connect some dots between you.”
Jan nodded. “Jamie, would you please take Grandma back as well. Donaldson is going to want to speak with her again.”
Todd’s eyes narrowed. “You’re her aren’t you?” he asked. “You’re the daughter-in-law of Mrs. Jones. But why no pictures in the wallet?”
Jan nodded again. “My husband Angus Jones was a CSIS operative. There are very few pictures of us as a family. But I have never used Jones as a last name. I am Jan McConnell.” She turned to Ginny. “I am very sorry for your loss. We are in the process of being forcibly relocated from our farm in Ontario to Montana.”
Ginny nodded. “We are headed to Eureka, MT.”
Jan smiled. “We are headed to Rexford.”
Ginny smiled back.
“You know,” John told the Committee. “Those two remained fast friends until Ginny’s death at the age of 82-years. She and Todd had only been married two years when we met them. They went on to have six children and were married for fifty-two years before he died. He was hired on by the Police in Eureka. He even served a turn as Sheriff. As that Union Rep had said, he was so clean he squeaked.”
The shopping experience continued at the Salvation Army. Major Lynn was there with JJ and two shop assistants to help use make the best use of the limited time we had left. We were able to get a lot of stuff for the little ones who at 18-months and walking needed more than bunting suits. By age we had one 2-yr old girl, one 3-yr old boy, two 4-yr old girls, two 8-yr old boys and one 10-yr old boy who were the same size, one 10-yr old girl, two 12-yr old boys, three 14-yr old girls, two 15-yr old girls, one 15-yr old and one 16-yr old boys, two 17-yr old girls and four 17-yr old boys, one 18-yr old girl, one 18-yr old boy and a 19-yr old boy… plus four adults. It was a bit daunting.
Major Lynn handed each assistant a name/age and a bag. “Fill it,” she ordered, and sent them off. In short order, each bag was filled with underwear, sock (lots of socks), t-shirts, pants or long skirts, wool sweaters, winter coats, running shoes and boots. The Major also filled a bag with cotton diapers and quilted liners that could be used in the diapers or by women in need. Mary Lou and Jan went through the shelves in the kitchen section, while Sarah rifled through looking for linens and blankets. The Major then charged the $5/bag. So, $200 later, treasured pressure canners in hand, laden down like pack horses, they left with the basics covered.
The Major looked at Jan and said “Remember that God is with you always. Never forget Psalm 121 - I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. In particular remember verses 6 and 7: The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.”
“Thank you,” replied Jan.
At the door of the Sally Ann, Jan and Mary Lou said their goodbyes. That good Christian woman was filled with pride at the way her community had rallied around and helped this family. She went home to her husband and they added the McConnell clan to their prayer chain.
Jan and company got back into the truck and headed back to the rail yard. They were loading the last of the newly acquired items onto the boxcar, when a Private came running up.
“Mrs. McConnell you are needed for a conference. Also we will be pulling out is 7 minutes. The Minnesota Army is moving into position across the river. We need to get out of here stat.”
Emptying the truck went double speed. The Jan noticed a new car on the end of the train.
“It’s for the policeman and his wife,” advised the Private.
They climbed into their troop car and Jan walked into Bedlam. It appeared to be instigated by Dr. P. and Jan cheerfully left him to the insanity.
The doors were all closed and the train began to move out of the yard. It began to pick up speed and to race west across, Jan sat down with Sgt. Donaldson, Dr. P and Todd Stewart.
“Mrs. McConnell,” said the Sergeant. “Firstly, we are still working to locate your husband. He has not been moved off the Michigan National Guard base. And at this point that is a positive. Now while you were shopping, I was paying a courtesy call on a friend who is a Staff Sergeant and based with the 319th Air Base wing here at Grand Forks. Mr. Stewart joined us there and his debrief allowed us to fill in some missing pieces. We have spoken with several individuals further up the line and eventually with the base commander. He has concurred with our interpretation of event and we were then handed over to the OSI team that is based here.
“OSI advised us National Guard call-out in Minnesota had been sent yesterday evening about midnight for all guardsmen to report to their bases by 0800 today – that is just shy of 25,000 men and women who have been called up. In turn, North Dakota has also moved their guardsmen into active status. There has also been increased traffic on the east side of the Red River. It appears that the guardsmen are moving into place to either secure the line or to cross it. Not sure at this point. However this base has gone from backwoods to front line and we need to get out of here stat.
“The OSI will also look for any records trace of your husband.”
“Courage mon amie,” said Dr. P. patting Jan’s cold hands. “He will found. He will come back to you. Remember the picture in the living room he gave you?” The Sergeant looked interested.
Jan looked at Dr. P. and pulled herself together. “The Swallows… you are quite right. My swallow will always return. Now enough glumness. Let’s get that riot under control and the hordes fed. Mr. Stewart would you and your wife like to join us for meals?”
“Thanks you,” Todd replied. “That would be a kindness. I love Ginny dearly but she cooks best with a yellow pages.”
Wonder of wonders, the fellow at the gas station over at the cross roads. Turns out he is from Canada, and helped me understand the things I was getting confused on. He is tickled that I'm reading this story. As I'm just paraphrasing it to him he is working on joining here I believe. Not sure when or even if for sure. Nice fellow.
Seeing this from the perspective of those who are moved about by such things instead of from a military point of view or a government point of view is refreshing. I keep getting the feeling that this might be a story other displaced groups would have told in times past.
I have long thought that the makers and takers would one day separate and form "mini countries". Seems like the only way the Makers have hope to escape final destruction at the hands of the takers and their elected thieves.
Maine - will try to keep you supplied. Perhaps another reading of One Morning in Maine will sooth the restless babe...
Dosadi - thanks for the referral to your gas guy. The truth is that while the US and Canada share a common border and media (at least we get yours...) our cultures are very different as they grew out of different histories and beliefs. Currently a lot of time gets spent on how much a like we are and if that builds bridges its great but North America is very regional and those are really the differences we need to work one.
Truth is that many of us, regardless of how much we plan in advance, may end up on the road. The brutal reality of being on the road was more like what happened to Becky Jones Raven - thrown out of their community when their perceived usefulness was over, and dying of a disease or in a brawl... Perhaps a story in more detail for later.
Reality is that Jan and her family were very lucky to have been able to take more than a suitcase or a bag with them. If this were really happening then Jan and her family would still be sitting back in Buffalo waiting for the next group of families to be attached to the train. They would not have moved out with only one family on board. Its just not an efficient use of resources. Reality is that a planned operation like the one that I have suggested is highly improbable. The cost of doing it would be prohibitive and bluntly the US military has better things to do with its time than babysit farmers. On the other hand, if you recognize that your nation is in the throws of balkanization, the military's ensuring that they have competent farmers might not be such a bad idea and might be worth so advance effort. Oops... just gave away a hint...
Back in their railcar, the kids began to prepare brunch. Eggs had been snatched from under chickens and were being turned into mounds of scrambled eggs. Cinnamon rolls were coming out of the oven and canned bacon was frying on the stove top. Ginny was sitting with the glazed-over bemusement that occurs when only children encounter large families. The dynamics confused her. Jan slid a coffee in front of her and Ginny started.
“I don’t get all of this. They can’t all be yours…” she said.
Jan laughed. “No only John is mine by birth. Mrs. Jones really is my mother-in-law but we don’t know each other very well. The other… well they have joined us along the rail. Mostly they were the children of other families on the train and when we came under attack the adults died and the children survived. In total there are two family groups and four individual children. I’ve promised them a home as long as they want one, but the recent changes have me concerned.”
“Why?” asked Ginny.
“Some of these boys are under a yearlong deferment from their army enlistment in order to help us get set-up on the farm. With the way things are headed down the toilet, that deferment may be cancelled and the boys gone… It’s not that I can’t get the farm up and going on my own, it’s that I have been counting them into my plans… and dang it all, I like them. I would hate for them to go now just as we are all getting used to each other.” Jan told her.
Sally bustled around and set the table. Heather offered the women more coffee. Food was scooped onto plates and set for the littles. The horde thundered up. Hilda and Kurt were strapped into their booster seats, newly acquired from Walmart. Since throwing food at each other was still a point of pleasure, they were moved back from the table so that others could eat in safety. The Three Amigos and their 12-year old task masters dug in. The teens came and ate as their jobs with the livestock allowed them. Dr. P, Grandma Jones and Todd Stewart joined the adults. Grace was sung, although some plates were empty. Ginny was asking how the woodstove worked for cooking. Heather and Sarah volunteered to teach her to use one. Todd said an additional prayer of thanks that he might get a good meal and that their house might not burn down.
Farther down the tracks in Williston, ND, another family was not so lucky. Jim and Tina Wright had drifted in to town two-months before with the oil jobs. Jim picked up casual work where he could, but mostly he partied. Tina added to the coffers by selling whatever she could - guns, drugs, and most often herself. They drank hard, partied harder and were really only together because there was no one else for either. But they did have Zack.
At three years of age, Zach was an old man in a toddler body. He spent most of his time next door with the old lady there. She had found him in early November evening sitting in a t-shirt and sweatpants on his back doorstep. He had explained that “Mama was entertaining. And Iz have to wait ‘til he leaves to go to bed.” So the old lady took him home and tucked him in on her couch. Tina seeing the sense of the arrangement, paid the old lady $50 a week to keep Zack overnight.
That arrangement saved Zack. When, with everyone passed out, the lit cigarette in some john’s hand set fire to the drapes. The old wood framed house went up in a raging blaze. Jim and Tina and their guests died as brutally and hard as they had lived. The old lady’s house was damaged. She got herself and Zack out, but she then had a heart attack and died. The ambulance attendant was left looking at this small, malnourished boy of an indeterminate age and wondered what the heck they were going to do with him.
The hospital checked him over and a social worker took him down to the police station. It was full of roughnecks being hauled in or tossed out. The social worker and the kid and wound their way through the groping hands to the front desk.
“Hey Mel!” the social worker called out to the front desk clerk.
“Hey back Missy!” said the clerk. “This the kid from the fire? I know you can sell igloos to the Eskimos but how the heck you going to pretty up the kid of a drifter and a prostitute and sell him to the locals.”
“No idea yet, Mel. But you know me, I’ll find him a home. Need to see Donaldson about him. He in?”
“Yeah, he’s in the back meeting with some hunk in an army uniform. See what you can find out for me. I want a date with something that doesn’t reek of oilfields and the man camps.”
“Don’t we all!” laughed Missy as she pushed her way to the access gate. The boy in her arms hadn’t said a word since she had got him. “You okay there buddy?” The child nodded, thumb in mouth, as he snuggled into her shoulder.
Down the hall, two men watched as the slim black woman with the blond child on her hip marched towards them.
‘Bookends…’ thought Missy appreciatively, ‘…a matched pair of brothers,’
“What you got for me, Donaldson?” she asked the cop. Inwardly she struggled not to smile as the other man tried not to answer her.
“Not much Missy,” he answered. “But my brother, Sgt. Tyler Donaldson here has one. Come sit down. Hey buddy, we’re all going to sit here and talk. You okay for a minute?” Again the boy nodded.
The three adults sat down in one of the conference rooms.
“Okay here’s the deal. You remember how you and me have talked about stuff unravelling?”
“Well, it’s started. My brother here is moving evacuated farmers from Ontario to Montana. On his train is a woman named Jan McConnell. She started out the journey with her special needs 12-year old, a foster boy and her mother-in-law. Since then she has ‘adopted’ twenty-six war orphans and an 80 plus year old doctor. In what she calls her “littles” group, she currently has another 3-year old boy, two 4-year old girls, a 2-year old girl and twin 18-month olds. So buddy here would have playmates and not be categorized by his parentage.
“It’s probably the only option. We have not been able to trace the parents. We have no idea if the names they used here are even their real names. Owner of those houses doesn’t care as long as he gets cash. With all the guys here in town and homeowners getting $90/night renting to them, there are no foster care spaces. If this woman will take Buddy it will get him out of here and give him the opportunity for a life. Otherwise he’ll be on meth by twelve and dead by fourteen. We’ll get the City to cough up a parting gift. Heck it will be cheaper for them.”
“Not much I can disagree with, but I want to meet this woman and see the other kids before I agree.” Missy paused. “Ah heck, even I know there isn’t another option, but I do want to meet her.”
“If it helps you to know, “said the Sergeant. “Gid and I had another brother. He died two years back in a brawl with a roughneck. Our nephew is now sixteen and seriously on the outs with his step-father. We have got our sister-in-law willing to sign custody over to us, as she is exhausted, pregnant and at wits end. Jan is going to take him.
“The other thing that Gid may not have told you is that the military action in Ontario has resulted in the fracturing of the Blue and Red states and Blue states have called up their guardsmen. It is their intent to ‘free’ Ontario. The call has gone out this morning here. The complexion of town is about to change. The Blue states need oil too, so Williston is about to become a major target. Time for you to stock-up and hunker down, or get out of Dodge.”
“Missy, I’ll be rejoining my Guard unit in about four hours,” said Officer Gideon Donaldson stretching out his hand to shake Missy’s. “So I’ll take this opportunity to say thanks and wish you well,”
As they left the station, only Sgt. Donaldson looked nervous. In trying to help his brothers, he’d saddled Jan with two more kids. He hoped that she wouldn’t string him up for it.
In Rexford, population 140 in town, the Village Council met. For the first time ever in their history, all the land in the county was owned. The revenues were going to be terrific. There would be the taxes from the 39 new farm families and the 22 new busineses, and the buildings and houses sold to them. But now that people were arriving, there were issues people hadn’t thought of and it was giving council a migraine.
Suddenly there were a lot more horses, wagons and buggies on the road... on all the roads… and people who drove were feeling that they couldn’t speed along as they always had. Some of the people who had sold their acreages, farms and houses willingly, were suddenly feeling like maybe they hadn’t ask for enough money.
Additionally the town had oversold itself. There really wasn’t the infrastructure to handle the almost 700 people that were moving into the community. Additionally the Rexford Elders, with their one congregation, already had most of the best land in the area. And best land was a bit of a misnomer, as many had turned to logging because the land wasn’t really conducive to cultivation in the way that the CoKL Colony was used to operating. Additionally at the south end of the lake were the remains of an Old Order Amish Community that had fractured and was busy trying to keep the picturesque aspects of the Amish faith without doing the theological ones that required work.
As the CoKL Colony began to arrive, they quickly found how much they had been oversold. Their farms often needed to be cleared. The Army administrators who had coordinated the move began to get scorched ears as the complaints flowed in.
“Problem is Sir” said one young private, “These are all legitimate complaints.”
“Well, with the frying pan heating up here,” answered his Sergeant. “They are going to have to make do.”
As December settled in, slowly, the CoKL Colony cleared space for their houses and barns and put up fencing. The Rexford Colony helped where they could. The two groups kept their communities separate and for the most part there was peace between the two. But peace was stretched thin between the Non-Amish and Amish communities as competing needs and the doctrine of pacifism in a time of mounting civil war drove a deep wedge.
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