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America Gone - Chapter Fourteen

by Vil


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.

Christmas Eve, 2019

Jackson, Capitol County

"I think we can safely say that we're all havin' a good Christmas," Grandpa McHale chuckled, ignoring the egg on his upper lip.

The pair stood side by side, overlooking the ongoing festivities below. The Congressional Christmas Party had started around noon, several hours earlier, and had yet to stop. A jukebox with only Christmas songs had been brought in, and decorations had been donated by the members of Congress. Bing Crosby softly played in the background.

Esa nodded to the old man. "Austin's been a huge help. He's a good kid, William."

The Southerner smiled, dipped his head, and then added a swig of whiskey to his eggnog. "Yep, that's my Austin... He did pretty good when he talked to Percy 'bout lettin' the you-know-what through."

Esa moved a stray hair out of her face. "He did. We've passed it, added new states, and coordinated with the other states better because of him."

"I never thought that New England, Erie, New Pennsylvania, New Ohio, and Delmarva would become states in a million years." The old man took another sip of his eggnog. "It's because of that I'm sorry to say you can't be my vice president."

"I know," Esa replied calmly.

"Now, don't get upset-- what?"

"I know, William," the Kentuckian repeated. "You need a reliable Yankee. Or, at least, a Southerner the Yankees will like. I've been working on a list."

McHale sighed and shrugged his shoulders. “I wanted it to be you. We gotta unite the party before it can even divide. I was a Republican. We need a former Democrat.”

“Well, then we have a few options,” Esa said. “We can always go with Vance. She’s a safe pick: educated at Harvard and NYU, popular in New England and the South. She’s the best way to secure Alabama and Texas, but we’d lose Virginia and Erie.”

“So, then what do you recommend?”

“You won’t like it, William.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because he ran for president in the last cycle.”

Grandpa McHale sighed, stirred a little more whiskey into his eggnog, and then drained his mug. “I hate that man.” He looked back down into the crowd below, watching a young couple peck one another’s lips underneath the mistletoe.

“Senator DuBois may be an idiot, but he’s a well-educated, popular idiot.”

“He tried to take the presidency just as soon as Tennessee pulled itself back together. We all know he lost 2016.”

“William--”

"Esa, it's Christmas," the old man sighed. "If you're going to talk politics with me, at least do me the pleasure of not mentioning that idiot."

"Alright, I won't mention him again." Esa gleefully drank from her hot chocolate as the Senate Majority Leader drank his eggnog. "I think we need some Christmas Elvis. What do you think?"

"I think we need some Christmas Sinatra," Grandpa McHale replied. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a few quarters. "Go find th' jukebox, will you?"

'Of course. Merry Christmas, William."

"You, too, Esa."

The Kentucky woman hugged McHale. "It's her, isn't it? Your wife?"

"I... Yes."

"What was her name?"

"Agne DuBois. The idiot's aunt."

"I'm sorry, William." As the woman left the old man to drink his spiked eggnog alone, a handsome younger man in his forties approached the Tennessean.

"William," he said, nodding his head towards the old man.

"Francis," McHale answered him unhappily.

"Not Virginian or DuBois? You must be in a good mood..."

"I spiked my eggnog. You'd do well to stay on my good side."

"C'mon, Uncle--"

"That's Mr. Senator to you."

DuBois sighed, stroking the brown stubbles that made up his short beard. "We're in the same party, Mr. Senator--"

"No, DuBois we aren't," McHale said firmly. "You've made it clear you still wanna be a Democrat and that you hate this new system."

DuBois flashed McHale a politician's smile and pulled a cigarette out of his left pocket, a lighter from his right. Lighting it and taking a puff, he leaned over the railing and into the celebrating members of Congress and their families below. The Virginian watched as Esa tinkered with the jukebox, sharing words with Austin before starting up some Sinatra holiday classics.

"Senator, I need a favor. Before you say--"

"No."

"--that, I want you to know that it means the remaining Democrats would owe you big."

"What's that?" McHale asked, somewhat curiously.

"Focus on farmers, fixing prices in place temporarily, and reclaiming land east of the river. Trust me."

"And why would I do that?" Grandpa McHale asked.

The Virginian took another puff of his cigarette. "Because Smith cost me the nomination in 2012. We both have our agendas, Uncle, and for now, they coincide. Do it."

Before McHale could reply, DuBois turned and left. Grandpa McHale watched the people below, not noticing that a man in torn clothes was silently approaching him.

“M-mister William McHale?” the man stammered.

The old man quickly turned, surprise etched upon his face. “Good Lord, man, you nearly gave me a--”

“I know, sir, and I’m v-very sorry, b-b-but I need to t-t-talk to you alone.” Fear and worry had stained the man’s face, and bruises covered the parts of his body that McHale could see.

“What is it, son?”

“My n-name is B-Beauregard L-Loxley,” he stammered. “I w-work for the Prime M-Minister of the UK. I’ve risked my life to come here, sir, and the Fascist States of America is coming. The Führerin is coming.”

__________________________________

It was late, the hour hand nearing midnight. Loxley had been given a hot bath and fresh food, two delicacies he had not received since before he arrived in Canada. He’d lost weight and become gaunter, and he was weakened by hunger and exhaustion.

Loxley nibbled at the bread and cheese some teenager had brought him. There was more, of course-- roast beef, Christmas goodies, wines, water, various other foods-- but it was the bread and cheese that he would be able to keep down.

He was in the Jackson home of a Mrs. Esa Schwartz. Instead of someone referring to her as “Governor” or “Madam President” as he had expected-- it had been her leading Kentucky, hadn’t it?-- she was called “Senator.” He sat in a comfy armchair, warming himself by a small fireplace, pondering this while he ate. What were the implications of this? Did PM Birkwood know?

Before he could ponder it for too long, one of the doors to Schwartz’s parlor opened. In walked the woman, the teen male that had brought Loxley food, McHale, and a younger man.

The younger man nodded to Loxley and took a seat beside him. "Beauregard Loxley?"

The Brit nodded."

"I'm Godfrey Smith."

"Y-you're r-really alive?" Loxley stammered.

Smith nodded and smiled kindly. "Senator McHale says you have some information for us."

Loxley nervously nodded. "Of c-c-course, M-mr. P-p-president."

"Call me Godfrey," Smith answered. "I understand that you worked for Ellen Birkwood?"

Again, the Brit nodded. "She sent me t-to America, sir. To see w-what the W-west was l-l-like."

"I just want to know how you escaped--"

"For God's sake, Smith, he's been through enough. We can talk to him tomorrow," McHale grumbled. "I brought you here to welcome him, not interrogate him."

"N-n-no," Loxley said, stumbling over his lone word. "I... This n-needs to be heard now."

McHale looked at Loxley, concern filling his eyes. "Are you sure?"

"P-positive"

Loxley tried to relax, but he felt it was impossible. So, after he asked for and received some stiff whiskey, he started to recount his escape from the West.

"After Mr. Weiler b-b-bought us, he used a truck to sh-ship us t-t-to Colby, K-kansas. He was using it t-to let sl-slaves g-go free by selling them t-t-to abolitionists."

The teen nodded, both he and Schwartz taking notes. "What happened next, Mr. Loxley?" the teen asked.

Loxley nibbled his lower lip for a moment. "They moved us in individual cars and trucks all over K-Kansas and Oklahoma. I was l-l-lucky-- my escort t-t-took me t-t-to Conway, Arkansas. I've walked from there. I... On the way here, I saw soldiers. They're g-gathering near P-P-Pine Bluff."

"Pine Bluff..." Smith's gaze darkened. "McHale, effective immediately, you are Acting Secretary of War. Esa, go grab your colleagues, I want him confirmed tonight."

"Smith--" McHale began.

"This is no time for reservations, McHale," the president snapped. "Get it done, immediately."

"Of course... Mr. President."


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Sat Sep 12, 2020 2:05 am
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Stringbean wrote a review...



Hey Vil!

Okay, so-- I wrote kind of a monster sized review here. Do forgive me, and I hope it's actually helpful. I really like this chapter and have a lot to say about it XD

Part One

1.
You have some nice descriptions in this chapter! It's great to see those. I like the simple but effective description of the party bellow that starts this scene off.

2.
First critique-- you mention "the pair" near the beginning, before we know who is with Grandpa, so it's a little confusing.

3.
I like that you're getting into Grandpa's personal life again. The transition into that though threw me a little-- where Esa says "It's your wife, isn't it?" I'm not 100% sure what prompted her to say that, so it seemed to come mostly out of nowhere.

4.
I like the part where Francis asks for favor, Grandpa says "no," and then Francis picks it up without missing a beat. It characterizes their relationship well, than Francis expects this reaction and continues anyway.

5.
I think it'd be helpful if you could slow down the first scene a little. As it is now one person leaves and another immediately shows up, which makes it go very quickly and feel a little unnatural. I think it'd work well if you were to add a bit of space between each person coming, so reader and the scene don't feel jerked along.

6.
Loxley! *tears*

7.
Okay, actual review stuff abut Loxley though. I really like how you leave him nameless in the scene until he introduces himself to Grandpa. It keeps the scene rooted in Grandpa's perspective and makes me feel a little closer to him. It also builds up a touch of mystery around Loxley, which fits his message.

8.
And speaking of his message-- Ahhhhhh! Nicely done and heckity heck the Feurerin's coming o.o

Part Two

9.

Loxley nibbled at the bread and cheese some teenager had brought him. There was more, of course-- roast beef, Christmas goodies, wines, water, various other foods-- but it was the bread and cheese that he would be able to keep down.

I like the way this is written.

10.
It was late, the hour hand nearing midnight. Loxley had been given a hot bath and fresh food, two delicacies he had not received since before he arrived in Canada. He’d lost weight and become gaunter, and he was weakened by hunger and exhaustion.

I like the first part, it's written with a nice style like the last bit I quoted. The last sentence though, especially the second half of it, feels a little awkward, like it breaks the flow. I think it's because of the repeated "and," and feels a little telling rather than showing.

11.
He was in the Jackson home of a Mrs. Esa Schwartz. Instead of someone referring to her as “Governor” or “Madam President” as he had expected-- it had been her leading Kentucky, hadn’t it?-- she was called “Senator.” He sat in a comfy armchair, warming himself by a small fireplace, pondering this while he ate. What were the implications of this? Did PM Birkwood know?

Okay, I like this paragraph for a few reasons. It gives us a nice, easy description of setting for one. Seconly, it's written very well into Loxley's perspective (all of this part of the chapter is) which is nice. That adds characterization and new way for the reader to look at what has by now become familiar (other characters, their world and going-ons).

12.
You've got a lot of little bits of imagery and character action stuff in here that I like-- Smith smiling kindly, concern filling Granpa's eyes, him grumbling his interruption to Smith... You're doing a lot better at this it looks like! It adds more life to your writing c:

13.
The teen nodded, both he and Schwartz taking notes. "What happened next, Mr. Loxley?" the teen asked.

You said "the teen" here twice. Just kind of redundant.

14.
"Pine Bluff..." Smith's gaze darkened. "McHale, effective immediately, you are Acting Secretary of War. Esa, go grab your colleagues, I want him confirmed tonight."

"Smith--" McHale began.

"This is no time for reservations, McHale," the president snapped. "Get it done, immediately."

"Of course... Mr. President."

I really like this part too. It shows a different dynamic between Smith and McHale, a different side of them both. Up until now, I can't think of a time when Smith has seemed like a strong leader. He usually seems pretty weak, someone that Grandpa McHale doesn't have much trouble strongarming, if that makes sense (not sure that's quite the right word). In this bit, Smith finally exerts himself as a leader and we see Grandpa back off a little and relent to him.

I also like that, despite their differences, they seem to be working together now. Smith knows he needs McHale as Secretary of War and Grandpa knows now isn't the time to fight Smith. Again, it adds more depth to both of them as characters.

So all in all, this is another really great chapter that I like a lot! I'm very curious to see where this is going now with the rising fascist side of the plot c:

-Stringbean




Vil says...


That's not to say Grandpa doesn't want to kill Smith anyways XD

Loxley's going away for a bit again :P



Stringbean says...


Nope, not at all to say that XD

Nuuuuuu *more tears*



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Tue Sep 08, 2020 11:07 am
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HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm back for more!!

First Impression: Hmm well there was defintiely some plot movement detected in this chapter. We had quite a few things happen in this one and we might see a pause to Grandpa's plans or are we going to see a pause...'tis the big question...let's see. Other than that this seems to be headed in a pretty good direction.

Anyway let's get right to it,

"I think we can safely say that we're all havin' a good Christmas," Grandpa McHale chuckled, ignoring the egg on his upper lip.


Typical Grandpa McHale there...

The pair stood side by side, overlooking the ongoing festivities below. The Congressional Christmas Party had started around noon, several hours earlier, and had yet to stop. A jukebox with only Christmas songs had been brought in, and decorations had been donated by the members of Congress. Bing Crosby softly played in the background.


Good to see a little bit more of the setting here. That's always helpful to the reader.

“Senator DuBois may be an idiot, but he’s a well-educated, popular idiot.”


That's a surprisingly effective one line description.

"I spiked my eggnog. You'd do well to stay on my good side."

"C'mon, Uncle--"

"That's Mr. Senator to you."


Oooh someone is grumpy.

The Virginian took another puff of his cigarette. "Because Smith cost me the nomination in 2012. We both have our agendas, Uncle, and for now, they coincide. Do it."


Hmm...interesting little side plot there....should be nice.

“I know, sir, and I’m v-very sorry, b-b-but I need to t-t-talk to you alone.” Fear and worry had stained the man’s face, and bruises covered the parts of his body that McHale could see.

“What is it, son?”

“My n-name is B-Beauregard L-Loxley,” he stammered. “I w-work for the Prime M-Minister of the UK. I’ve risked my life to come here, sir, and the Fascist States of America is coming. The Führerin is coming.”


Well that sounded more dramatic than I expected that to be...suddenly got very different vibes off a this novel than I've got before.

It was late, the hour hand nearing midnight. Loxley had been given a hot bath and fresh food, two delicacies he had not received since before he arrived in Canada. He’d lost weight and become gaunter, and he was weakened by hunger and exhaustion.


Poor guy.

Smith nodded and smiled kindly. "Senator McHale says you have some information for us."

Loxley nervously nodded. "Of c-c-course, M-mr. P-p-president."


Hmm...interesting that he would be this nervous talking to Smith. Did I miss something?

"After Mr. Weiler b-b-bought us, he used a truck to sh-ship us t-t-to Colby, K-kansas. He was using it t-to let sl-slaves g-go free by selling them t-t-to abolitionists."

The teen nodded, both he and Schwartz taking notes. "What happened next, Mr. Loxley?" the teen asked.

Loxley nibbled his lower lip for a moment. "They moved us in individual cars and trucks all over K-Kansas and Oklahoma. I was l-l-lucky-- my escort t-t-took me t-t-to Conway, Arkansas. I've walked from there. I... On the way here, I saw soldiers. They're g-gathering near P-P-Pine Bluff."


Oooh looks like this is going to get interesting....stuff certainly happens.

"This is no time for reservations, McHale," the president snapped. "Get it done, immediately."

"Of course... Mr. President."


Conflicted between wanting to think Smith is being rude and thinking maybe Granpa McHale also should be more concerned about this than bringing up personal things...

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall this was a nice chapter...the bit of extra description that you'd added in for this one was nice when it was there. The conversation also felt good and Granpda and Smith behaved pretty true to their characters in front of Loxley. All good suff. And now let me head over to check out what happens in Chap 15.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry

Image




Vil says...


Thanks for your review!

I think Loxley just kinda stays nervous-- besides, who wouldn't be nervous speaking to a tired president at Christmas?



HarryHardy says...


You're Welcome!!
Hmm...I guess




You are all the colours in one, at full brightness.
— Jennifer Niven, 'All the Bright Places'