And it’s not a real post.
I promise to do better tomorrow.
I slept 5 hours with horrible dreams, and I woke up late, and my mind is not gatherable.
So, just so you know I’m alive, this is a chapter from A Few Good Men. Some of you will miss the significance of the ending, for others it will be a beloved memory.
Whichever. I just needed to re-read it today.
There is hope in the future:
Ladies andGentlemen, we Declare The Revolution
My soi-disant father must have been very good at training servants, whatever else he might have been bad at. And perhaps that was not a big surprise, since after all he meant to make servants of every person under his rule.
What I mean is, they came in to clear the remains of dinner and didn’t seem even slightly discomfited that Nathaniel Remy appeared to have dissolved into thin air. Perhaps they thought I’d let him out without anyone noticing. At any rate, they were the least inquisitive people imaginable.
I’d lingered over fruit and coffee, thinking I’d just made the biggest mistake of my life, but unable to feel sorry for it. If I held out, I’d be holding out in the name of what? Not being a joiner? Being contrary to the end? There was nothing to gain by that, and so much to lose. I looked at the pile of gems on my desk, and thought that at the very least I owed it to all those dead people, those destroyed people, not to go without a fight.
I locked the gems away on my desk drawer, I called the servants to clear the table, and I went to bed.
And woke up with Nat Remy calling out, “Lucius? Are you decent?”
“What?” I was awake immediately, as I was whenever someone came into the room, but this seemed rather early for a moral enquiry. Goldie jumped on the bed, tried to lick my face and in the darkness, I patted him and pushed his hindquarters down.
“Are you dressed? Dressed enough to be seen by people?”
“Oh. Yes.” I was in shorts and a light shirt, and though no one would call it a formal outfit, I’d need to go to the most distant and strange parts of the Earth to be arrested for indecency.
“Good,” he said. And then “Light.” Lights came on.
He stood in front of the secret door, which was closed. Martha stood on his right, and Abigail, blushing, on his left. Why was she blushing, I wondered? She was very young, and maybe she’d never been in a male’s bedroom before. On the other hand, my bedroom was hardly indecent and I, sitting on the bed, patting the idiot dog, might be disheveled, but otherwise wasn’t even mildly titillating. Then again perhaps she’d taken in the implications of Nat’s secret passageway, in which case… It was none of my business. Surely, she didn’t think it had been built in a week. Martha just smiled at me in a matter of fact way, then walked across the room and opened the door. Sam came in. By this time, I was feeling seriously alarmed.
“Is anything wrong?” I asked.
Sam shook his head, and it was he who spoke, “It was judged easier to have Abigail and I carry proxies for the other members of the twelve than to have all of us get together here, or have you flown elsewhere. Our intelligence gathering tells us there’s been a flurry of activity by Scrubbers. We’re not sure what they’re up to, and we are not about to take risks we don’t need.”
The other members of the twelve. The Sons of Liberty were all young hotheads. And Sam and his wife knew nothing of what their children were involved in. And I was innocent as a babe unborn. My house was not just filled with Usaians. It was filled with dangerous revolutionaries. And liars. And yet, I thought better of Sam for doing something about the injustices and crimes that crossed his desk every day, rather than sitting still and letting evil go on.
Sam had the grace to blush a little at my expression, then shrugged. “Sometimes, telling the truth will only endanger all those who depend on you, and to whom you swore to keep silent so they’d not be found out.”
I inclined my head and didn’t say anything. He cleared his throat. “Nat tells us… That is, he says you’re willing to admit to believing everyone should be granted life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as a fundamental right. Before he left the meeting, previously, he secured people’s vote that you be allowed to join our organization on probation, if you professed such beliefs.” Was his smile totally ironic? “Of course, I suspect two or three of them, at the time, thought it was more likely for them to get hit by a meteor that had lain in ambush in an alley, waiting for them to walk by. But we got them to agree to your full induction, and we’ll do it before they can retract that. That way you’ll be a full member. And we’ll avoid another internal battle.”
Nat cleared his throat and I thought he had suppressed laughter and it occurred to me that if any members of the council thought that they were too stupid to hold office and perhaps too stupid to live. Nat Remy was not a honeypot, and he might be the world’s worst missionary. But he had inherited from Sam a kind of bullish gentleness that would keep bringing a point up, ever so gently but so continuously, that the subject of their efforts couldn’t help but surrender.
I didn’t doubt that I’d been steered to this point. I’d need to be an idiot to not have noticed. But I was sure of one thing: Sam hadn’t cooked those records. Contrary to popular belief, a complex narrative spanning centuries was hard to create without leaving huge holes. Heck, it was hard to create a simple lie spanning hours. Which was why most novels were enjoyed despite the holes in narrative. And those records held. Which meant, whether he’d arranged for me to ask for them or not, the reasons I was doing this were real.
“So,” Sam drew himself up straighter. “Lucius Dante Maximilian Keeva, do you believe in Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness as individual rights?”
“Yeah,” I said and tried to avoid the three Remy siblings staring at me from my right side. They all looked rapt, as though they had no idea what came next.
“And have you read and do you believe in the Constitution of the United States of America, and believe, if followed, it would create a nation that would respect such rights?”
“Yeah.” I said. Because it was easier than to explain I thought it had terrible loopholes and flaws, but would create a state superior to anything else before or since – at least as far as my reading of history went, and infinitely superior to the stability we’d endured for three hundred years.
“Do you realize the Usaian religion is proscribed in most of the Earth and that, if revealed as a member, you could be summarily or publically and lengthily executed?”
“Yeah,” I said, at which point it occurred to me that I was being asked life changing questions, while I sat on the bed, with Goldie lying across my legs. It didn’t seem right. It seemed like it should take place in an elaborately decorated hall, with flags flying and bands playing.
“And are you ready, nonetheless, to become a member, and to work towards the reestablishment of a republic under that constitution, even if it should mean the loss of–”
I fished the answer from what I remembered of my reading. “My life, my fortune and my sacred honor.”
Someone sniffled. I thought it was Abigail. I hoped it was Abigail.
“And do you promise to keep secret and support your fellows in this fight to the limits of your ability, and not betray anything or anyone to the authorities no matter what persuasions are used?”
“Then Lucius Dante Maximilian Keeva, welcome to the brotherhood of free men.” And then, to my profound and stunned shock, Sam Remy stepped close and kissed me on the cheek. And I’ll be damned if his children didn’t repeat the performance.
“And now,” Sam said. “That you are one of us, do you agree to let us use the seacity as the basis for the start of our great work?”
I nodded. I had realized, sometime while reading those awful gems, that I wasn’t going to be the Good Man by the end of this. Not if it worked. I’d be lucky if I still had my life at the end of this, particularly if we won. And yet it was worth it. If I had my life it would be enough, anyway. I’d never wanted to be the Good Man.
“Then, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great joy to proclaim the revolution.”
This is when all hell broke loose. Nat and Abigail hugged each other, Martha hugged Sam, then Abigail started crying, and wiping her tears to the back of her hands, and then two of them – I was too confused by then to tell which – hugged me.
And that should have been the end of it, or perhaps the beginning, but my life doesn’t work that way. As things started to calm down, Sam said. “We’ll leave now. You need to sleep. Tomorrow there’s an awful lot of planning to do, and we need your permission for… everything, to begin with. And Nat?”
“I will arrange for Simon and Jan to come over. And also for military people to confer.” He blinked. “Oh, and, Father, we forgot.”
“We forgot? Wha– Oh. Yes. Do you have it?”
Nat nodded. “Grabbed it at the house on my way over, when I got the girls,” he said. He pulled a small box, maybe the size of my palm, from one of the pockets that he had to have sewn inside his tunic. It was one of those plain, ceramite boxes in which the cheaper type of jewelry is packaged. But the way he held it, as though it contained something immensely valuable and fragile made me wonder, as did the fact he had to take a deep breath before speaking, “I don’t know if you know that each of us is supposed to own a piece of the true flag, identified as a flag that was flown in the US of A when it still existed as a sovereign republic. I know that people joke about being so many of them that they’d cover most of the world, but… a lot of flags were produced, and we still have a cache, kept in a climate-controlled room. There are also other forms of reinforcement of aged fabric. If your parents and your relatives were Usaians, you’d inherit one from one of your ancestors. Some pieces of the flag have been passed through family lines for centuries. They used to be worn on clothing, before we were proscribed, but now that would just condemn us and those close to us. So, we don’t do that. But every one of us has a piece and knows where it is at all times. The idea is that when we start the revolution we’ll bring it out and wear it, openly, on our clothing.” He opened the box and extended it to me. It contained a scrap of blue cloth maybe three inches long and two wide.
As I took it from Nat’s hands, I could tell that three white stars, grown grey with age and dirt, showed faintly against the blue.
“We debated giving you a new piece,” Nat said. “But we thought you’d prefer this one. The stain on the top is blood of one of our martyrs who wore it sewn on his clothing at the time the religion was first proscribed. His fellow believers rescued his body and his flag.” He hesitated. “There is no other blood on it, but it has belonged to many courageous and honorable men who paid the ultimate price for freedom.” He had to swallow, before continuing. “The last one of those was Benjamin Franklin Remy.”
And then I cried.