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Adverts & Member Biz => Our Authors => Lake Lili's Author Section => Topic started by: Lake Lili on February 20, 2014, 10:48:00 AM

Title: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on February 20, 2014, 10:48:00 AM
I grew up in Toronto in the late 1960s/1970s and while we never feared the Russians - they were too far away and they lost THE hockey game ('72, Paul Henderson my Hero!), but the Americans were there and big, and we grew up with this niggly fear that one day they would have had enough and come calling. One day they would want our water, our oil... and if climate change continued they'd want our wheat fields and our northern ports. The question was always would you accept them or try to fight them. It came up for discussion again during the Quebec Separatist Referendums.

 Both Canada and the US have changed hugely since those days. We are perhaps not quite so wholesale admiring of what the US has to offer but many of the blatantly socialist policies, combines with an "inclusion at all cost" mentality that we have taken on isn't universally popular either. So this is what might happen if we continue down some respective paths...

 *************************

PROLOGUE
The old man walked slowly up the aisle and took a seat in front of the Congressional Committee.  He was old, very old, and arthritic, and walked with two canes.  Most had never seen a man so old. He was plainly dressed as were the two pretty young women, his great-granddaughters, who accompanied him.  His blue eyes were sharp and missed nothing.  He looked at the young whippersnappers, sleek and well stuffed into their fancy suites and considered going home.  ‘But no,’ he thought.  ‘We have come a long way and even if they won’t hear me, what happened will be on record.’ In a clear voice with its intriguing trace of a German accent, he began.
“My name is John McConnell.  I am one hundred and two years old and I am here to testify regarding what is now historically called “The Great Relocation”.  It happened the year I was twelve.  Now some might say that I am not the best person to testify but there are very few of us left who can and the record is important. My parents, Jan and Jones, were amongst the selected.  I am one of the Relocated.”
At his words, there was a gasp and then the room went silent. The members of the public, the historians with their pencils handy for revisions, the Congressmen, members of the military… they all sat silent.
“On the day it all began…” he started and then stopped.  He took a sip of water and then started again.

“The 401, in case you have never driven it, was the original highway to Hell.  The southern line of the Trans-Canada, it took you from Windsor to the Ontario-Quebec boarder, where it changed its numbering and continued on to the north-east through Montreal along the south shore of the St. Lawrence, past Levis and to points further east.  In the old days, when my mother was a child, there were big rivalries between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadians. Gas was cheap then, and bosses saw value in the camaraderie of days off, and the traffic flowed unceasingly.  But those days were long passed by the time I was twelve.  Days off had become few and far between as employers demanded and got 12-hour workdays and woe betide the slacker or one in need of a ‘mental-health day’. Not being a team player was a criminal offence and accepting a job was on par with a fly landing on a spider’s web, a version of the ancient 1960s song “Hotel California” where checking out and leaving were not possible.  Then again the cost of going to Montreal from Toronto was beyond what many could ever dream of affording, although I do remember advertising for cheap package trips to Florida.  So vacations were still theoretically an option.  In any event, the 401 had become a form of commuter hell, as carpooling vehicles vied with transport trucks.

From the time I was born, my mother and I travelled regularly to the Children’s Hospital in Toronto.  It was always an adventure for me – so many machines and things going on.  It was so different from our daily life, but the procedures were not always nice.  On the day our world changed forever, we were coming back from one of those trips…”

Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on February 20, 2014, 10:50:25 AM
Chapter One – Getting home…

Jan and her son, John, had been in their truck for about two hours.  Once upon a time it used to take only two hours to drive the one hundred miles from downtown Toronto to the 100-acre farm in the amalgamated City of Kawartha Lakes that her grandparents had moved to in the 1960s.  The old log house with its small bank barn and garage had become the center of her family’s world with each of her mother’s siblings having a trailer out back.  Grandchildren came and went but in the end only she had remained, although a couple of cousins still occasionally came and use the trailers in the back woods, and it had been a couple of years since any had been by.  In any event, the two-hour drive now took four hours on a good day and longer if there were accidents.

Today, they had been east bound on the 401 for two-hours and were just past Oshawa.  The old Lincoln Navigator was in great shape and relatively fuel efficient considering that it was a 1999 model.  While the screaming “look-officer-give-me-a-ticket” red had had her stopped before and accused of drawing attention to herself, its age and the wasteful cost of repainting or replacing it usually got her excused.  She hated driving in Toronto traffic, but at least the Navigator gave her the height to see over the traffic and move efficiently.  These monthly trips to the Hospital for Sick Children were winding up.  At twelve, her son was stable and they had finally identified the primary issues.  Daily she thanked whichever gods were listening that the issues were not communicable, progressive or degenerative, they just were.  She could live with that. They were lucky.  She was taking her son home.  So many parents never would. She had been living with the impact of John’s largely undiagnosed issues for years now and of course hehad never known any different.  Traffic was easing a bit as they got beyond Toronto but it would still be a problem until they had cleared the 115/35 exchange.  She looked in the rearview mirror and smiled at her son.  He smiled back. 

“Hey Mom, we’ve passed 22 Ford F-150s and 6 Ford F-250s since the Simcoe Street exit”, he said.

“Wow!”  She responded.  “How many dump trucks?”

“Eleven,” he said.

“How many transport trucks?” she asked thinking that there appeared to be fewer on the road today.

“Only twelve,” he said, “You now Mom, there should have been more.  There should have been lots more.  Then again there have also been six fighter jets.  They were F-18s.  Do you think that’s why there are no transport trucks?”

Ever since they had seen a YouTube documentary on the US and British militaries, John had been talking about fighter jets and helicopters.  Once Canada had had a proud military tradition but the outcry over harm done by the military in the countries of birth of New Canadians had resulted in the members of the armed forces being convicted of crimes against humanity and sent to tar sands ecology reclamation camps in Alberta.  One of those convicted was her cousin, Gordon.  He was still there according to the annual publication of the interned and she sent letters and parcels to him through the Red Cross.

“Really…” she said.  “And how many helicopters?  Which country?” She smiled at his imagination. 

“American,” came the fast response.  “The helicopters are the OH-58 Kiowa.  You know the one that see over hills.  There is one.”

“Okay John!  Enough stories…” but she looked quickly to her left and saw the round viewfinder looking over the cliff on the Lake Ontario side of the 401.  “Oh shit,” she thought.

She darted across three lanes of traffic and took the next exit off the 401. Her brain was having difficulty computing but the one thing she knew was that her son always knew which vehicles he was talking about.  If he said it was an Impala, it was.  If he said it was a Kenmore with a Durabody or a Great Dane box, it was.  If he said it was a SeaKing or a Warthog it was. His brain catalogued very precisely when it came to vehicles and military hardware.  His memory on these was edict. 

“But what was going on…” she wondered.  She had known for some time that the relations between Canada and the US had been deteriorating at warp speed.  The social... okay gloves off and admit it… way beyond socialist… policies of successive Federal and Provincial governments had resulted in a system by which every individual minority and minority group had more rights that the whole and the whole had become so cowed that they no longer did anything other than go to work and go home.  Often even that was not enough to keep them out of trouble.  There was a custodial lawsuit going on where an obviously Anglo woman out buying groceries was being sued by another shopper for failing to include enough “ethnic” food items in her shopping cart and there-by failing to teach her children properly.  The Main Stream Media (MSM) was fully behind the accuser and it looked like the poor woman would lose her children all for stopping at a DaisyMart and picking up K-D and hotdogs. 

Again, she thanks the gods that her son was deemed “too impaired” to attend the local school and that the government had decided that it was cheaper for her to stay home and educate him than it was to pay for a teacher’s aide.  The pittance that she received was, even by their case-worker’s admission, pitifully small. So with the doctor’s sign-off, the case-worker had given her permission to have a vegetable garden and six chickens.  These were normally illegal, as it would take employment away from approved farmers.  Twice a month, they were visited by the case-worker.  For these intrusive visits, she tried to always have a small bit of fresh veg to offer as a “thank you” for the case-worker’s “care and attention”.  She would then have to show the case-worker the approved school work her son had done.  She made sure that only the approved school books were on view and that the binders with his schoolwork were easily accessible.  She ensured that the workbooks reflected that he was working at the expected level on all but two topics.  In one he showed that he excelled and the other that he was struggling.  He wasn’t actually struggling with much of anything.  There was no cognitive impairment.  He only needed to hear it or see it once to remember, but the case workers needed to be able to show improvement and prove impairment at the same time…

As she cleared the highway and headed north, she started driving all the back roads.   The radio chimed 4:00pm and behind her, she could hear explosions.  The rearview mirror showed columns of smoke rising.  So far they were staying along the 401, but she wanted to get as close to home as possible before the Americans began to move north off the highway.  She had some friends who quietly prayed that the Americans would liberate them from this mess so that they could join the Republic.  She knew of others who had drunk the Kool-Aid and who hoped that the American Democrats would join them.  She figured that she was somewhere in the middle.  She had hoped that the Canadians could figure out how to extricate themselves from the mess, and keep their own country but this attitude of entitlement fostered by nanny-state socialism was so ingrained that she had no idea how it could be accomplished.  In some ways, she wished they could move somewhere else but emigrating with a child was now illegal as it would deprive the community of that child’s future productivity.

They swung by the Agri-Services store in Fenelon Falls.  Young Mary put her finger to her lips as Jan walked up to the counter. Jan nodded and then ran her hand along under the counter.  She stopped and looked at Mary.  At the woman’s nod, Jan pried the small circular listening device off the counter and ground it to dust under her boot.

“Thanks!” said Mary, relief evident in her face.  Jan just nodded.

A brief chat with 17-year old Mary indicated that the news of what was happening south of them had not yet broken. Jan didn’t enlighten her. But she looked through the freezers and picked up 20-lbs extra stewing beef and a case of 40 chicken thighs (bone out, skin off).  She also grabbed the last four bags each of frozen corn and peas.  There were also two bags of horse carrots and a 50-lb bag of potatoes.  She took them all.   

“Any seed left from last year?” Jan asked.

“Still have sixty pounds of that bicolour Sweet Peaches & Cream corn (Zea mays var ruosa).  I know you don’t like that hybrid but the seed is not treated… So while I can’t officially sell it as human or cattle feed, it is safe for both.  We also have 200-lbs of hard red winter wheat you ordered. Again, not treated.  Had to be careful though as that nosey Mr. Wallis was in wanting to look at the books again... I sure hope the next Agricultural Inspector we get isn’t such a stickler. 

“I hear Hayden Scott is going to run for the office in the next election,” said Jan.

“Oh!” said Mary.  “He’s is plumb full of ideas and most of them sensible.  Comes from having a preacher for a grandfather… You know they took him in after those missionary parents of his were executed after that big show trial – you remember the one where they were convicted of trying to convert the heathen Muslims in one of the ‘Stans... still can’t believe that the Canadian government wouldn’t send them consular aid because they were charged with a religious crime.  Went to school with Hayden... You should talk to him before the next election.

“Anyways, I had the guys load your trailer after Old Man Wallis left.”  Mary stopped talking long enough to take a breath. It was like the listening device had put a cork in her and its destruction had freed her to speak.

“I’ll take the hybrid corn seed and an extra bag of corn feed for the cows and chicken feed,” said Jan. 

“You need more canning supplies?” asked Mary.  “We just got in 200 pint jars still in flats.  Mrs. Andres put in an order for 50 jars and is now refusing to come pay for them.  Her neighbour told her that she’d heard that next year canning will be considered hording.  I can give them to you at cost.  If you can do cash, we’ll mark them as broken, but if you pay any other way we have to record who bought them.”

Jan smiled.  “Thanks Mary.  I’ll take all of those too!  Now that had best be the end of it.  Do I still get the discount if I pay cash.”

“Absolutely.  But we’ve been told by Wallis this is the last month we are allowed to take cash.  After the 1st of November all purchases must be by card so that they can track who is buying what.  I’ll have the guys put it in the truck. ”

“In that case, I’ll take all the flats.  Also wanted to get some more hay.  Do you know anyone selling square bales?”

Mary hummed and finally told her that the Yodders on 9th Line might still have some and that she should ask their boy, Jonas, who was working at Handley’s Lumber.  Mary blushed.

“Have a thing for young Jonas?” smiled Jan.

Mary nodded.  “We’ve been walking out together and I have been twice out to meet his parents and he to meet my mother. They are real nice about my not being Amish and are teaching me how to run a house their way.  I go to visit his aunt twice a week and help.  Did I tell you that my mother has moved down to Toronto to live with my sister?  She sold our farm to some city people who want to go ‘back to the land’.  They take over December 1st.  The Yodders have stored my trunk and my suitcase and I’m renting a room over Peter’s Hair Salon. Jonas and I are planning to marry in the spring.”

Looking at the happy, fresh faced, pretty brunette, Jan could only wish her well and hope that both Spring and Jonas would still be in the cards for her.

The boys at the back of the Co-op hooked up the trailer Jan had dropped in it that morning to get the animal feed, the salt blocks and the chicken feed. They added then new feed and the bags of seed and Jan’s other purchases. 

While she had enough hay from the second and third cuttings from the 4 horses and the ten head of cattle, she still stopped in at Handley’s to speak with Jonas Yodder.  Fresh-faced and personable, she could see why Mary liked him.  Bad boys might be fun but they were a bad bet for the long term.

She had also made arrangements through Jonas for the two steers to be collected and taken to his uncle, the Amish butcher, at the end of the week.  Once canned, the meat from the steers would feed them for the next year.  The cattle had been her grandparents, so the herd was permitted, even though they were not provincially sanctioned farmers.  However a cow that died could not be replaced, so she took very good care of her animals.  Her vet and feed files were immaculate – no way was PETA ever going to say that she mismanaged her livestock.  She had had the six cows (five angus and one short-horned milking cow) artificially inseminated back in May so that with the approximate gestational period of 283 day, her heifers would be calving in March.  That way she would not just have fresh beef next year but would also have milk. 

All in all, she and her son were lucky.  She had inherited the two-bedroom house on the farm out in the back roads of Victoria County, now the City of Kawartha Lakes.  The house was a small, two story log house with a kitchen L and bathroom, a living/dining room, two bedrooms above, and a basement rec room and laundry room below. Because there were two of them, and her child of a different sex, she was not required to house anyone else.  If the house had had three bedrooms, and luckily not even the Province thought that the storage attic above the kitchen qualified as a bedroom, she would have been required to “volunteer” to house and feed one of the community’s unfortunate.   The economy had made it impossible for most to be able to afford nursing homes, so the Province had determined that it was the community’s responsibility and “volunteering” was required.  It had happened to a friend and she was now treated like a servant in her own home, running all day for two elderly women who made her life a living hell and reported her for every perceived fault. Jan grinned.  ‘Perhaps’, she thought, ‘with the Americans coming, some changes might be occurring in that household.’
Her house had a detached one car garage with a side workshop, full of her grandfather’s hand tools and stacks of planks for projects he had not lived to complete. Once a month she would go in there and check them all, oiling and sharpening as necessary.  She didn’t know how to use them but in their own right she thought they were beautiful. Someday John would learn to use them

Also in the farm yard was a small bank barn.  In the lower level were the sheep pens and the box stalls for the horses.  Upstairs was for hay and a threshing floor.  Further along was the drive shed which housed the ancient horse-drawn farm implements her grandfather had collected and used, a tractor shed, a chicken coop with an attached small green house, a fruit storage house, a root storage house, and ice house and a smoke house. Tucked in below the hill was the old log barn that they used for the cattle.

The yard had always had a one-acre garden, but with her permit she had expanded it to two acres.  It wasn’t as big as the Amish kitchen gardens but she grew only what they would eat and enough to store for the year.  If the government decided that canning was hording, she wasn’t sure what she’d do as the stipend she received would never feed them.  This year she had planted a half acre of potatoes…  They stored well and John would always eat them. Last year she had planted 50 potato plants and ended up with 200 cwt.  It was still holding them when she had harvested this year’s crop.  She had bettered last year’s by almost a hundredweight this year. The other half acre was in onions.  She started them in the green house in February so that they were big by the time they went into the ground.

She also planted bush beans, pole beans, sugar snap peas, English peas, and a host of different beans that she dried for soups and chilies.  She had planted rows of cucumbers for both fresh and pickling, same with cabbage for fresh, boiled and kraut.  There were field tomatoes for fresh and Roma tomatoes for sauce.  John had his own little garden filled with cherry tomatoes and in early September he would graze through there, delighted that he had grown them and kept them safe from bugs.  She had planted celery but for some reason it was always iffy.  She was challenged by carrots as the rabbits loved them as much as John did and between the two it was hard to get enough to store.  Two years ago she had fenced the garden and that helped with the rabbits if not with John.

In the green house, she grew things like peppers that needed more heat. She also grew most of her herbs there.

She had a wonderful asparagus bed and it grew wild all over the farm.  Through most of July and into August, John would take walks with his pen knife and come home with a bag full.  There were also several beds of rhubarb.

She had been permitted to keep the orchard as it contained only non-commercial varieties and all the trees were older than fifteen years. There were ten apple trees –  two each of cox pippin (eating, zone 5b), Cortland (eating/cooking/storing, late, zone 4), wealthy (eating/cooking, midseason, zone 4) and wolf river (baking, late, zone 3).  The other two trees were very old and her favourites.  She figured they were planted when the farm was first settled in the 1830s.  They were a 300-year old Quebec variety, the Snow Apple (fresh, midseason, zone 4). She was going to have to graft some new ones this year as they really were getting to the top end of their prime. There were also two Bing cherries. She had planted a number of hickory, northern pecan, and butternut trees.  She also had planted swamp oak which, with a lot of work, produced a low tannin, sweet acorn that made delicious flour.  John loved to collect the acorns and would spend hours cracking them. She smiled, ‘Ah… the sweet joys of child labour.’ She also had four Blue Jay bush blue berries, a couple bushes of red currants, black berries and an old crab apple, which made bar none the best homemade pectin. She also had beds of strawberries and with the raspberries between the fences and the wild blue berries out by the swamp.

They grew enough corn for them to have fresh eating and for freezing, but bought the dent corn that was used for grinding for meal.  Some years Jan grew some cow corn for feed but really tried not to feed the cattle more that they got grazing with the occasional grain supplement for a treat. Otherwise they grew hay in the fields.  The soil was really poor with a lot of erratics, so the first job before planting was to pick the rocks.  In every field there was a central mound of them.

The fence-lines, which ran all the way around the property, except where it opened onto the waterway in the Swamp Field, were all swamp cedar on either side of a double 8-foot tall chain link fence and a three gate system had been put across the drive by her grandparents.  She was lucky in that.  If it had not been put in the 1960s, she would not have been able to have the gates.  They were ornate and spikey and made by an iron monger who went on to make a name for himself in artistic circles. So although gates were now deemed anti-social, because of their age and beauty, her gates were deemed historical.  Her grandfather had put jagged boulders and raspberry canes between the fences. Her grandfather had also used concertina wire for the cane to grow over and for more than sixty years it had tangled together. The moss made the boulders slippery and the canes and wire made the landing unpleasant. When she had been little and her grandfather had read stories to her, he had always described the brambles around Sleeping Beauty’s castle as being like their fence and cane system.

A quarter of the farm’s acreage was made up of two wood lots – one was a fifteen acre of mixed woodlot, heavy with sugar maples, from which they collected 50 gallons of maple syrup a year.  The other ten acre mixed wood lot was managed to give them all the wood needed to heat their home.  When she had moved to the farm in the late-1990s, she had taken a course in wood lot and sugarbush management.  It had been a good thing as Lord knew that the stipend they received would only pay for enough propane for the stove and none for heat.

When Jan and John finally got home, they unloaded the feed into the zinc-lined room in the barn.  At least once a year she cut herself on the metal and it took forever to heal, but it was fantastic for pest management.  John was a great helper and now that he was bigger, she really appreciated it.  They poured the feed into the metal garbage bins and put the lids on.  John then went and checked the water levels in the troughs for the chickens and cows. He then took the paper wrappers from the feed bags and ripped them into lengths and braided them for fire starters.  They were stored in the spill jar at the back of the wood stove.

Pausing in their chores, far away to the south west, Jan and John could see the columns of smoke rising.  Jan put the truck away in the garage – normally she left it out, but with all that was happening, under cover was best.  For some reason, Cable Cable was still operating and she was able to get the American television stations.  There was nothing on their news about the activities occurring north of the border, but that was no real surprise as their MSM rarely acknowledged that Canada even existed.  The Canadian news stations were all off the air.  The news blackout didn’t matter much in the end the Canadian media was unlikely to have admitted what was happening anyways. However a benefit to being hit by the Americans, she thought was that they were unlikely to take out the nuclear reactors…. 

Jan loved her kitchen with its big wood stove and the water pump at the kitchen sink.  It had been there when her grandparents had bought the farm, and they had found it useful in the winter when the power went out for days at a time.  Being north of the swamp, and right on the township line, meant that you were considered to be so far into the back woods that you came at the end of the line for all services, including repairs. That was why the fridge and freezer were propane.  And while they were technically still tied to Hydro, they used very little power – it was just too expensive.  Most of the time Jan just had it turned off at the breaker so that they wouldn’t make the mistake of running up a bill.

The long harvest table had been in the kitchen when her grandparents bought it and was too large to remove. Dismantling it was out of the question as it was the center of family memories – Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, baking lessons, quilting bees and homework done under her grandfather’s supervision.  On it were the usual piles of assortment of mail, John’s Lego projects, some mending, a schlocky paperback, her garden calendar and a couple of pre-WWI cookbooks. It was surrounded by an assortment of kitchen chairs all painted a unifying moss green. The oversized ancient Lazyboy armchair beside the stove was John’s favourite winter perch.  Ugly as sin and the most comfortable place in the world to curl up in, he headed there now to decompress.  There was too much going on for him sort out.

Jan lugged several flats of canning jars and lids down to the basement.  She slid the washing machine to one side. Behind it was a small door that led to a large room that lay six feet under the yard.  Her grandfather had built it as a bomb shelter, but it was now John’s hidey hole and her storage space. Officially her grandfather had been stabilizing the dry stone wall cellar with concrete block and cement.  So as far as the Planning Department knew that was all the work that had been done.  Later he had expanded the shelter so that it was 30’x40’. Decorated as a living space with a series of storage rooms, Jan used it to hide the canned produce of their garden, the rest of the books she had inherited and those items that were now deemed “dangerous to society” - the guns she had inherited, along with the the family bible and their library…  These were the books she really used to teach her son, with the ones in John’s bedroom being for show.   John loved their Hidey-Hole, the cozy, quiet space enabled him to center himself and focus better. 

Jan was trying to get the TV to give her more news options, when she jumped at the sound of banging on her front door. ‘Drat!’ she thought. ‘Forgot to close the gate.’
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on February 20, 2014, 11:13:04 AM
More chapters to come...

I hope that you will add comments and thoughts but most of all enjoy the story.


edit:
Comments please in the Authors Comment Section,
this section is only for the Author to post the story, so if you take the time to read the story, please take a moment and leave a comment for the Authors, it really helps them out. It also makes them feel good to know that there are others of like mind, people reading and of course that someone likes their work!
edited to add in above only. wild_E
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on February 21, 2014, 08:04:01 AM
Chapter 2 – The McDonalds…

“We had these neighbours across the road,” John told the Committee.  “Their son David died only a few years ago.  He was also Relocated… His mother was… well she was something else.”  The Committee smile politely.  “She was sort of vague and fluttery and spoke in a whispery baby voice.  She drove my mother nuts, but I recall her saying that Mrs. McDonald was extremely good at getting what she wanted from men regardless of the consequences to those around her.

*****

“Gillian!” she exclaimed at her harried and panic looking neighbour.  “What is wrong?” Her mind added ‘this time’ to the inquiry.

“Oh Jan!” she wailed.  “It’s the kids.  The school just called and advised that for the duration of the emergency the kids will remain safely at school.  I can’t reach Andrew.  I can’t even try to go get them… you know how I hate driving… the distance…”

‘Can’t be bothered to drive… or cope… or make a decision,’ thought Jan, who schooled herself.

“Take a deep breath…” she said.  “What emergency?”

“I don’t know… TV and radio aren’t saying anything…” Gillian replied.  “My kids… how am I going to get them…”

“Can we take your truck?” Jan asked.

“Well…” said Gillian, uncertain that she wanted to have to use the gas in her vehicle if she could get Jan to use hers.

Jan could think of thirty reasons why she didn’t want to do this and knew that she still would.  The biggest issue was that the trip was 45-minutes back towards where the bombing was happening, but the trade-off was that she still be able to get some supplies.  She also knew that she would not take John on the off chance that the authorities might try to take him too.   Looking at Gillian, she said:

“Get in your truck.  Give me five minutes and I’ll drive you into town.”

Very quickly, she told John to drop into the hidey hole and to stay until she came back. She told him that she would lock the gates. He could watch a movie but he was not to come out for anyone other than her.  She kissed the top of his head and laughed as he said “Ah… Mom!”

She thought about how she was going to get Gillian’s kids out of that school… She wondered about how she was going to do the shopping without Gillian the Gossip watching her like a hawk…

“Gillian”, she asked as she climbed into Gillian’s truck.  “Am I still on the designated pick-up list?”

Gillian nodded. 

“I am thinking that I had best go get the kids,” Jan continued.  “If I claim that you are sick and that you are concerned that they might be contagious, that should get them out.  But for that to work, I am going to need to take your truck. You need to go home and take some meds and play sick like you have the flu.  Call your own doctor and request a visit.  They won’t send anyone but it will be on record and because the school may send its own doctor.”

Gillian nodded happily at having got out of having to do it herself and Jan dropped her off at her door.  Mentally, Jan berated herself but knew that she would not have willingly left John at the school either.  From Gillian’s console, Jan pulled out Gillian’s sunglasses and headscarf.  Similar in height and weight but differing in style, Jan tarted herself up and undid a few buttons.  Up close, someone who knew her could tell that she was not Gillian but at a distance the charade might work.  At the bottom of the bucket between the front seats was Gillian’s wallet.  Jan pulled out Gillian’s license and tucked it in her own purse.

There was almost no traffic going into town.  Fenelon was almost deserted.  Ironically, only the cars lined up at Jardine’s Funeral Home indicated any life.  Traffic was very light as Jan drove south on Hwy 121 before turning south onto Hwy 35.  Almost every vehicle was official - either a police or city.  Even though traffic was supposed to slow going through the village of Cameron, nobody slowed today.  As she came into town on Hwy 35, there were police guarding the Lindsay airport.  Kent Street still had cars moving and traffic appeared normal although the Service Ontario building and the Court House were blocked off.  She turned down Angeline.  Standing guard duty outside the Leslie Frost Public School was a very large policeman in riot gear.
 
“Good afternoon officer” said Jan politely, keeping her hands where they could be seen.

“Get out of here lady,” he said dead faced.

“Can’t do that officer.  I am here to collect two children whose mother has the flu.  There is concern that it may be the contagious one that we have all been trying to avoid.  For the safety of the community, those children must be removed,” stated Jan.

She could tell that the officer wanted to order her away but playing to community safety with the flu was a guarantee.  The previous winter more than 12,000 had sickened and close to 2,500 people had died of H9N7 in Lindsay alone and it only had 20,000 people to begin with!  The burial trenches had filled the field across from the airport, behind the Walmart.  He lifted his walkie-talkie and spoke into it.  He waved Jan through to the front door.  She then picked up the mask she always carried in her purse and put it on.

Jan was met at the front door by the school secretary, a stout aged dragon who knew that salvation came through unionization and collectivism.  She firmly believed in the government’s goal of cooperation through parental coercion.  The parents would do as they were told and the children would be safely protected from the terrors and disappointments of individualism.  The plans were finally being implemented and now here was this woman mucking things up.  The dragon crossed her arms and barred the door.  Jan was not intimidated.

“I am here to collect David and Grace McDonald.” Jan advised her from behind her mask.  “Please have them collect all their belongings. Their mother has the flu and the whole family will need to be tested for H9N7.”

The dragon recoiled.  The last thing she needed was sickness of the lethal variety in her school.  She would never move up if a child died in her care.  The sacrifice of two for the collective safety… for the safety of her own career… was necessary.  Jan showed Gillian’s identification.  David and Grace were unceremoniously routed from their classrooms and delivered to the woman.  All three were then hustled out the door.  The dragon ordered that their classrooms be sanitized and any remaining belongings be tossed in the incinerator.  Later the dragon could not remember the woman’s name.  In the scheme of unfolding events it didn’t matter to her, so she looked at the CCTV and wrote down the make and license plate number of the truck.  It matched the mother, so she wrote down “Collected by mother” and closed the book.

David and Grace were annoyed.  With matching sullen expressions, they sat leaden in the backseat of their mother’s truck.  “Everyone is going to have a party and sleep over at school” they whined.  “Why are you collecting us?

Jan looked in the rearview mirror and thought how much like Gillian they were.  Pity they weren’t more like their father, Andrew.  Jan contemplated her reply and decided that a dose of reality would do them some good.

“The 401 is being bombed by the Americans.  The schools have decided that they will not allow the children to go home, even if a parent is there.  Your mother is terrified and wants you home, so I figured out a way for you to get there.”

David thought about this.  “You mean”, he said slowly, “That even if Mom had come that the school would not have lets us go?  That crazy!  You are crazy.  Take us back.  Now!” His voice rose as he issued his commands.  The self-satisfied look on his face made Jan want to smack him.

Jan pull over.  She turned around in her seat and said in a very quiet, very serious tone. “David.  You will be quiet now.  You will behave.  Even if you do not believe me, call your mother.  I need your help for the next half hour while I make a few pick-ups and then you will be delivered to your front door.”

Grace was looking mulish, like she was about to talk back.  But David took the wired-in car phone and called his mother. “Mommy!” he whined.  Within seconds, his astonished eyes found Jan and he nodded and hung up.  He took Grace’s hand in his own and squeezed hard.  Grace looked at him.

“They’ve bombed Toronto.”

“Well that would account for that cloud…” replied Jan, pointing down the length of Kent Street and off to the south west was a huge rising cloud.  The children looked scared. “Okay now buck-up, we have only a short window here, so let’s get moving.”

Jan headed up past Ross Memorial Hospital for the nearest grocery store.  With the kids help, she raced through National Grocers buying as much as she could in bulk – 22kg bags of flour, oatmeal, and sugar; buckets of lard and bricks of butter; jugs of vinegar, cooking oil, soya sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, cleaning supplies; large containers of spices, chocolate, yeast, boxes of salt, baking powder and soda, powdered milk, toilet paper, bulk cereal, medical supplies, dental supplies, feminine hygiene, cheese cloth, tinned meats and fruit, bouillon cubes... The biggest buy though were canning jars and lids. She seriously stressed her cash supply. Normally she would have used a credit card for groceries but she didn’t want to leave a trace in the system to link her to the food or to Lindsay.  The parking lot was crazy as they were leaving. People were starting to line-up to get in. Several watched her closely as she loaded up, but the clerk at her side kept them back.  ‘The joy of Canada,’ she thought, ‘is that at this point, no one is armed.’ With the truck loaded, she pulled a tarp over the contents. 

She raced over to the Shoppers Drug Mart on Kent. Telling the kids to sit on the floor boards she left them in the car at the back of the parking lot. She ran in as they were locking the doors.  She cleared the rack of bottles of one-a-day vitamins, cold medications, tampax and bleach.  She also took all the  medicated ointments – Polysporin and Preparation-H; Bactine and rubbing alcohol, calamine lotion, antifungal powders and her most beloved favourite, Tylenol Sinus. She spoke quietly to the physician and got a nine-month supply of John’s medications – all they had. As Jan dashed towards the Pharmacy counter, she grabbed 3 chocolate bars.  The pharmacist, her old friend Ali Patel, added a few more items to the bags as he handed it to Jan.

“Jan, the hordes are coming.  They will have as many hands as Shiva.  If the horde does not come first the government will.  Soon there will be nothing left here.  What I give you will not come again.  I have looked for something that will match John’s medications when they are gone.  I have put them in the bag with the proper dosage.  Here is another bag with antibiotic medications.  You will know how to use sparingly.” Ali bagged the rest of her purchases and stapled a receipt to the top of the bag.  “Go now.”

“Thanks for all you help Ali.  Do not lose your life for this.  Your knowledge is not replaceable, this may be.”

In his kindness, Ali did not charge her.  She moved quickly out of the store.  A clerk glancing over saw the receipt stapled to the top and waved her through.  Back at the truck, the kids smiled and they all filled themselves with chocolaty comfort.  As they left, the police were moving in to block off access to the pharmacy.

She was going to stop at the Bulk Barn in the Whitney Mall to see if she could get the tortellini that John loved but the line-up at the beer store next door made it unwise.  She did go to the Tractor Supply Company (TSC) and picked up propane, caning supplies and more chicken feed.  The owner, Scot Saville, loaned her one of his rental trailers.

“This place will be gone by tomorrow,” he told her.  “The Province has already advised me that they will be closing me for the duration and that my records will be reviewed to see if I will be permitted to reopen. I don’t expect that I will be able to reopen. Howard Turlingot, the Major’s brother has been trying to buy me out for years.  I expect he’ll own all of this after the emergency.  So what else can I get you?  I’ve turned off the cameras so that everyone can shop safely.”

Jan took all the locally bagged hard red wheat berries and any untreated corn.  She also took batteries, seed packets, spices, onion sets and seed potatoes, a Daisy Red Rider BB gun for John and shot for it.  She went to the clothing section and got winter clothes for them all, including the McDonald kids.  She figured she’d store it at her place and give it to Gillian later.  With the loaner trailer loaded, she got the kids back into the truck.

She saw several other farmers she knew and they spoke quietly.  Offering protection for each other’s families and livestock, they settled the agreement with a handshake.  Scott came out and spoke with Jan as she prepared to leave.

“I expect that they’ll come for my farm too.  Can I move the best stock over to your place?”

“Of course,” Jan told.  “Remember we have the back trailers if you need to come with your family.  If you have possessions you don’t want tossed about you can store them there too.”

“Appreciated,” Scott replied.

“Don’t be silly that’s what neighbours are for,” said Jan.  “To support and protect each other.”

They joined the stream of traffic heading out of town on Hwy 35. There was nothing but static on the radio, and to the south west the plumes of smoke grew taller.  Jan put on a CD of the local Wright Family Singers and she got the kids singing the music they knew from Community Service.  As quickly as she could, Jan got off Hwy 35 and took to the back roads.  It was a bit of a longer drive but for the most part she was able to keep off the main roads.  There was no choice about going through Fenelon Falls.  There was only one bridge but luckily traffic was moving. 

“Thank which ever god is listening that this is happening after Thanksgiving,” thought Jan.  “If it had happened when the cottagers were all in town, it would have been a zoo here!”

Known as the Jewel of the Kawarthas, Fenelon Falls had a year round population of about 1,800 and supported the wider farming community of an additional 1,500 people.  One of the five villages and one city in the former County of Victoria that were forcibly amalgamated by the Conservative government in 2001.  A disaster that the Province was unwilling to permit undone, the City of Kawartha Lakes lumbered about politically, unable to meet the needs of its constituents, more than half of whom were cottagers and not full-time residents.  Fenelon Falls with its single two lane bridge that ground the community to a halt for six months a year was a perfect example of the failure of political will.

Jan pulled into Gillian’s drive in time to see the doctor getting out of his truck.  Dr. Pecher was her doctor too.  He had been very helpful in the past.  The kids did not acknowledge him as they went racing into the house. Jan stopped him before he followed them in.

“Hi Dr. P.”, she smiled at him.  He was about eighty but that didn’t mean the Province was going to allow him to retire.  Every citizen must contribute for the collective good.  “Gillian was feeling very unwell, so when the school called to say that they were going to keep all the children at the school until the emergency was over, we were concerned that they might also be contagious.”

“Hrumph…” muttered the doctor.  “Going to keep the children? Hmmm… not good that… forces people to do all sorts of things… smart of Gillian to be so sick… she’s not usually so forward thinking… must see that she gets well slowly… perhaps one of the kids will be sick too… hmmmm.”  He looked at Jan.  His eyes sharp and clear.  “You go home now young lady, lock those gates and keep your head down.”

“You come to us if you need to,” Jan said quietly.

“This is my home and my world. I will look after my people,” he said.  “I aim to stay.”

“If you have no choice.  Please come to us,” said Jan patting his arm. 

He smiled at her.  “You’re a good one girlie.  Now get and take care of that boy.  We’ll have need of his steadiness one day.”
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on February 22, 2014, 05:53:48 AM
Chapter 3 – The Police Chief…

“The invasion has been historically referred to as a Police Action to Correct Deviation from the Constitution, but make no bones about it, it was an invasion,” John told the Committee. Several members of the Military looked at each other and grimaced.  The historians and press wrote furiously.

“At that time, in Ontario, Police Action meant something completely different.  Today it would be known as Selective Attrition.  You never knew what could get you on the hit list and it could be quite personal, innocuous and local or it could be the result of a policy change at a Federal level. Didn’t matter, it still got you dead.”

*****
Jan headed home and grabbed her truck. It might have been easier to take Gillian’s truck but she didn’t want any record of Gillian’s vehicle on her property. She drove back to Gillian’s and removed all her groceries and re-hitched the trailer to her own vehicle.  There was no one about, so she shook out the scarf to make sure none of her hair was caught in it and popped it back in the console.  Then she wiped down the truck – steering wheel, doors, handles, knobs, dials, seat belt, seat, Gillian’s license, the sun glasses, the CD and player, the keys and then tucked the keys under the mat.  With her elbow she closed the door and drove home.  Not a perfect cover, but hopefully enough to put question to anything Gillian might say.  She had no doubt that no one existed of any importance in Gillian’s world except Gillian, and if it suited her she would cheerfully feed her own children to the lions.

She parked near the back door, unlocked the door and ran downstairs to check on John.  He was happily still watching a film.  Completely absorbed and zoned out, John watched Star Wars Episode IV for the umpteenth time.  Despite being exhausted, Jan unloaded the truck and moved most of it into the hidey-hole and put the rest in the metal bins in the pantry and in the feed room in the barn.

She desperately wanted to know what was going on.  John was watching their only TV, so she turned on the radio.  There was nothing on CBC.  The ham radio operators (hams) though were talking a mile a minute.  Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, St John’s, Quebec City, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Vancouver, and Victoria all bombed.  A lot of secondary cities too, places like Peterborough, Barrie and Trois Rivieres, Kelowna, Moncton…  She noted that nothing in Alberta had been bombed… hmmm… access to the tar sands and oil fields….  She also noted that although the 401 had been bombed from Oshawa to Oakville, the 407 was intact from Burlington to the 115/35 and the railroads and shipping had been left alone.  Minimal interruption to commerce seems to have been the goal. So while cities were bombed, the rail yards and lines, and the ports at Vancouver, Prince Rupert, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie, Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax were untouched while the cities themselves burned.  But what was the point… but what was the trigger?  She wished there was someone to talk to… perhaps if Jones… perhaps if Andrew McDonald got home soon…

Quietly Jan made dinner... nothing fancy… fresh veg from the garden, some shredded chicken and rice.  It was one of John’s favourite meals and when everything around him was stressful, it was important to keep other aspects of his life as even as possible.  They played a game of battleships after dinner and then John went to bed.  Jan went back to chopping carrots and putting them into the Excalibur dehydrator and listening to the hams. With the dehydrator full and running, Jan also began to cold pack the chicken thighs into the new pint jars and put the first load of stewing beef into the crock pot.  The hams noted that people were being picked up, but it didn’t sound right.  The people that were being picked up were family members of people in key positions... it clicked… just like the schools… hostages.  Someone was ensuring that everyone would cooperate, but with whom?

Jan moved quietly around the house, pulling the black-out drapes. It was not quite 8pm but it was getting dark so much earlier.  The heavy, floor to ceiling curtains had been hung by her grandparents.  They cut all visible light and drafts.  In addition to the blackout lining, there was also a layer of Kevlar.  Jan’s grandfather had been intrigued by the materials possibilities and had acquired several bolts from the manufacturer when it first became commercially available.  The curtains were his way of stopping bullets, although the pane of plexiglass sandwiched between the panes of ½-inch regular glass helped.  The years had caused the plexiglass to yellow slightly but it made for a warm light.

She banked the fire in the wood stove and pouring a cup of tea, then sat at the kitchen table with her notebook.  Mostly she was doodling but she was trying to figure out what was going on.  Her thoughts were a whirl and the radio talking quietly in the corner was not helping.  As new bits of information came through, she wrote them down. 

There was a hard pounding on her front door. ‘Oh heck!’ she though. ‘Forgot to lock the gate... again! Should have learned last time.’ She slid her note book into the table and went to the door. 

“Who is it?” she called out.

“Police!  Open up!”

Jan opened the door and she was pushed to one side as a half-dozen armed men from the tactical squad stormed in.  They checked each room.  Jan heard John scream and she went to get him and was held back by a rifle barrel.  John was dragged into the room and pushed into Jan’s arms.  Jan held the sobbing boy in her arms.

“Papers” demanded one of the officers.

“Top drawer of front hall table,” said Jan as she tried to calm John. His issues made him not respond well to situations like that.

“Shut the kid up” ordered the Police Chief getting right into John’s space, further scaring the child.

“Special needs kid,” said Jan.  “See papers.”

The officer looked over the papers and nodded at his boss.

“All seems to be in order.  Why the permit for the garden and chickens?”

Jan looked up at him.  “I receive $350 a month from Ontario Works.  The garden and chickens were permitted rather than make the stipend liveable.”

One officer goggled.  “$350 a month? Wow! That’s pathet...”

“Jones” barked his superior.  Turning to Jan he said.  “The lack of gratitude will be noted.  Tell me about your neighbours.”

Jan smiled at him which seemed to confuse him.  “Oh I am grateful.  It takes a community to raise a child and we are very grateful for all the assistance we are given, including the stipend. I see the garden and chickens as my way of reducing the amount of resources we need, so that others who need it more can access it.  Now my neighbours are Gillian and Andrew McDonald with two terrific kids, David and Grace.  Gillian has been feeling unwell, so the kids are at home to ensure community health safety.  Andrew works for the roads department.  I do not know in what capacity or location he works as we have never discussed his work.  Gillian works as a library volunteer.  The kids are in school and seem bright and attentive.”

“Have you seen Andrew McDonald today?” she was asked.

“No,” she replied.

“Your answers have legal ramifications.  Have you seen him or spoken with him today?”

“No,” she replied.

“If you see him be advised that he has been declared an Enemy of our Nation and that aiding him in any way will make you one as well,” stated the Police Chief.  “If you see him you are to call this number. Jones - give her a card. We will be watching you.  I don’t like your attitude.”  He stomped out.

Jones handed her a business card, winked and left.

Jan guided John into the kitchen and sat him at the table. She quickly took the card she had been given and cut it in four before putting it in a bowl of water.  Some of the cards, like the one she had been given, contained voice activated transmitters. The police used them to spy on their targets and because you had accepted the card, the Courts had deemed that you had agreed to the bugging. With the card disabled, she flipped the switch to hear and record what the driveway microphones might pick up.  As she made hot chocolate, she listened as Jones asked the Police Chief what had been wrong with her attitude.  When the supervisor growled, Jones said that he wanted to know so that he wouldn’t get taken in the next time.

“Well then,” said the Police Chief in a more jocular manner, “Firstly those special needs retards should be in institutions and not visible, frankly not born at all is even better.  Secondly, she is not married so should not even have a kid, and thirdly you say things like that to women and they get right scared and co-operative.  I am going to see just how cooperative I can make her.  You know I’ve tried three times to get the Judge to declare that kid a Ward of the Province have him sent to an institution, but it keeps getting blocked.  That woman used to be a legal secretary for a lawyer in Lindsay.  She would have been much more useful working in my office ‘under’ my supervision.”  The last part was said with a sneer and a slimy chuckle.

“Wow,” said Jones.  “I have so much to learn.”  Very quietly so that only the mikes picked it up Jan heard him say “Holy shit! This guy is scary insane. Keep these gates locked.”  Jan smiled and ended the recording.  She remote locked the gates.

*****
“My father was a good man,” said John to the Committee. “He had a very definite moral code.  Unfortunately his code did not allow him to work easily within the Province’s legal system and enforcement structure.  But by working inside the System though, he survived and because he survived, so did my mother and I.”
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on February 23, 2014, 07:28:35 AM
Chapter 4 – Andrew…

“Being declared an Enemy of the Nation was no small thing,” John told the Committee. “You and anyone who harboured you could be shot on sight and your assets split between the shooter – usually a policeman, who would receive a medal, and the Province. There was a whole campaign to get people to turn in those declared Enemies.  The newspapers would print their photos on page 2 every Saturday and the next week a red X would be drawn over those who had been eliminated.”

*****
John drank down his hot chocolate but it still took Jan more than an hour to get him calmed and back to bed.  He was asleep quickly after that but Jan knew that the next day was going to be a behavioural mine field.

She began to pack the stew into jars for the pressure canner. Shortly after 10pm, she began to wind things up for the night, when there was a light tapping at the back door. 

“Jan!” said a strained whisper, “Open up.  It’s me Andrew.”

Jan doused the light and picked-up the small illegal handgun.  She slowly eased the door open and Andrew slid in.  Jan closed the door and turned the light back on.  Andrew looked like he had tangled with her raspberry bushes and lost.

“Some men in uniform came to our door looking for me.” He said.  “David told them I wasn’t home yet and that Gillian was ill with the flu and that Grace wasn’t feeling well either.  One of the men put on a hazmat suit and respirator and searched the house for me.”  He dropped into a chair, his head in his hands.  “Lord, I’m tired… a co-worker dropped me in Argyle and I walked from there.  It’s a long f-ing walk. When I got here, there were those uniforms at my place.  I hid in your woods and listened to them.  They want me… Anyways, they hustled David and Grace into the car and took Gillian out on a stretcher… they’re gone…”  His voice trailed off in fear, confusion and exhaustion.

“Go have a shower,” said Jan.  “I’ll find you some clothes.”

She pushed Andrew into the bathroom and pulled some of her grandfather’s clothes out of the cedar chest in the hall.  He wouldn’t win a fashion award and they smelled of cedar but they were comfy-worn and clean.  She also put a tube of Polysporin on top of the clothes and told him, that after his shower, he was to put it on every cut and scrape.

When Andrew emerged twenty minutes later, Jan put a bowl of soup and a hunk of bread in front of him.  She told Andrew about getting the kids out of the school and about Dr. P making the house call. 

“Andrew” she said.  “I know that you work for the roads department, but…” and she looked at him closely.  “What is it exactly that you do that would have the uniforms looking for you, declare you an Enemy of the Nation and be willing to take three hostages in order to secure your compliance.”

Andrew sighed.  “Yes, I work for the roads department, but it is my job to coordinate trucking operations to ensure that there is enough fuel to get the trucks around the Province to do on-time delivery.  If the fuel is not where it needs to be then the trucks cannot make the deliveries.  There is a two day window before the trucks will run out of fuel and the system falls apart.”

He spooned in half the bowl of soup.  “The problem is that three days ago the number of trucks coming up from the US suddenly started to decline.  As of 12noon today there was not a single US-based truck in the Province. Something was going on and I kept trying to get a hold of the Minister of Transport but I was never able to reach him.  I tried reaching my counter parts in other provinces.  I was able to speak with Tony in BC and he said the same thing was happening there, but then our conversation was cut off. My office phone no longer worked.  Then my computer was turned off remotely. Then I got this really strange phone call on my cell in which I was ordered to keep quiet and wait at the door for a driver.  That scared me badly.  My cell phone did not work again – so I left it on my desk. Did you know those things have tracking chips in them?  A co-worker was just pulling out and I ran and jumped into his car.  He was really nice about it but had to drop me over by Argyle as he couldn’t deviate from his regular route.  I have spent the rest of the day walking and hiding whenever I saw a car coming. Its 25 miles from Argyle to here, but I got a ride in one of the Amish buggies which took the walk down to fifteen miles… Jan do you know what is going on?”

Jan told him about the information being relayed via the hams versus, what they had seen on the way back from Toronto, and the visit from the Police. 
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on February 24, 2014, 01:14:06 PM
Chapter 5 – The Rules Change…


All was quiet the next morning as Jan woke at 6am.  Andrew was still asleep on the couch.  John would be a couple of hours still, so there was time to water the gardens, feed the livestock, collect the eggs and get ready for the day.  Quietly she made coffee and went to get the chores done.  Back inside with a double double in hand, she flipped on the radio, turning the volume down so as not to disturb the sleeping man.  Broadcasting on the CBC Radio 99.1FM was a looped taped statement:

Please be advised that the American military has secured the Canadian nation so that the freedoms guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Responsibilities may be fully restored.  Please return to your place of residence.  Please have all official documentation proving citizenship and rights of domesticity at hand.  Screening of all residents is expected to take 72-hours.  After that all cleared residents will be able to return to their regular lives.  New regulations for those required to house the elderly or disabled will be broadcast on the quarter hour.  New regulations for New Canadians will be broadcast on the half hour. New regulations for businesses will be broadcast at quarter to the hour.  At this time all Police departments are ordered to stand down and return to their places of residence.  All policing will be handled by the US Military Police and troops.  Looters will be shot on sight.  No travel is permitted for the next 72-hours.

‘So,’ thought Jan, ‘the ball has finally dropped.’

She flipped the station to 107.1FM The Wolf out of Peterborough, to 680AM out of Toronto, and then to 820AM out of Hamilton.  The same statement was being played on loop.

She flipped on the ham radio and it was alive with chatter.  Leaning back against the counter, Jan listened as someone in West Virginia talked about the destruction in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal.  Then someone else broke in and said that thankfully all the hockey teams were playing out of town, so the NHL would continue even if the Leafs never won again for Toronto.  There was a cumulative snort of laughter over that, and Jan giggled too.  The Toronto Maple Leafs hadn’t won a game since 1967.  The discussion continued with a discussion of how far the bombing had gone, what was left, and the possible whys.  Sometime later someone else broke in and said that all of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northern British Columbia, and the Arctic Territories had been annexed and that all the remaining Canadian soldiers had been freed. On hearing that tidbit of news, Jan did a victory dance.  Her cousin was one of those soldiers and he had still been alive last fall when the yearly list of the incarcerated was published.

So, she thought, as she noted it down in her notebook.  The oil fields had been part of it.  But she expected that the wheat fields were too, along with the fresh water, and including the ports along the North West Passage. Climate change was making the far south less arable and leaving the Arctic ice free for shipping year round. Once Churchill and Inuvik were nowhere places, now they were major year-round ports.  Yellowknife was now the 2nd largest city in Canada after Toronto, and boat traffic on the Mackenzie River resembled the Ole Mississippi. Hmm… so where did that leave rural Ontario.  Certainly by 2020, the nation’s focus had shifted away from the east to the north. 

Another ham advised that he had heard that the US Army was doing house to house sweeps.  New Canadians had to prove legal residency; that they spoke English or French if they had been here for more than one year, or that they were taking lessons in either if less; that they had a job; and had no criminal record.  Any of the criteria not met they were being sent back to countries of origin.  New Canadians who failed the criteria but had children born in Canada could take their Canadian-born kids with them (their citizenship nullified) or leave them behind to be adopted by other families – anchor babies were no longer a legal method for a family to remain in Canada.  New Canadians who married those born here had to meet the same requirements. Political refugee claimants were automatically deported social refugees might be permitted to stay providing they met the criteria.

Then someone else broke in and asked about those holding the children and those who had disappeared in the middle of the night.  “Don’t know” came the reply.  “Will look into that” came another and then there was silence. Jan sat with her coffee, staring at the page.

“Well that’s one way to clean house,” said Andrew, referencing the new rules for New Canadians.  Jan stood up and poured him a cup of coffee. “Thanks for letting me sleep.”

Shortly after 8am, John wandered in and Jan began to cook breakfast for everyone.  Trying to normalize John’s routine, Jan pulled out the math books and after breakfast got him working on a times table square from 25 to 50.  John pulled out his pencil and wrote 25x25=625, 25X26=650, 25x27=700.

*****
At 9:30am at the general meeting of the UN, the Canadian envoy stood up and demanded that the US withdraw its troops from Canadian soil.  A number of the envoys of other nations who had not yet heard the news looked at each other in surprise.

“It’s a land grab!” shouted the Mexican envoy.  Fear of being next etched on his face.

“Why would anyone attack the socially progressive and peaceful nation of Canada!” exclaimed the Venezuelan envoy.

“Our people are disappearing!” shouted the Canadian.  “Les Américans ont voléz notre peuple!  Save our people!”

“Nous devons aider nos frères et sœurs!” shouted the French.

There was no response from the Americans.

An hour later at an emergency session of the Security Council, several members of the Council delighted in telling the Americans that they needed to halt their imperialistic and aggressive action in Canada.  The US envoy mused at how unfortunate it would be should the US institute the 24-hour “get out of dodge” order for all UN personal and their dependents.  The Russian envoy having no desire to return to the rapidly approaching winter of Moscow nodded in understanding.  Despite the Canadian envoys apoplectic fits of rage, the Security Council moved on to other topics.

As the Canadian envoy departed the UN in an unmarked decoy vehicle, he was detained by the Marine MPs.  He was transferred to a military vehicle.  As he was driven out to the waiting helicopter that would take him to detention at an undisclosed location, his rantings were played in the General Assembly and the world heard as he raved about the planned execution of those Relocated by the Americans… of how their future was in the hands of their children… how he would make the pay.  The recordings were then replayed on major radio stations around the world and it distracted the masses only long enough for their attention to be caught by the next round of nonsense perpetuated by drama princess Suri Cruise.

*****
Around 2pm Jan began to suddenly see a lot of traffic on her road.  She went out and checked that the gate was locked.  As she did, an Asian woman stopped her car.  With a heavy accent she asked:

“Can we stop here.  Can we hide here?” 

Jan looked at her sadly and answered with a heavy Spanish accent.

“No.  They have no space.  They say we must leave too. Do you have space in your car to take us?”

The woman ran back in her car and Jan looked across the street at the officer monitoring the McDonald’s house.  He was calling in the woman’s license plate number.  Jan ensured that the three gates were secure and ran for the house.  She knew she might not be so lucky the next time.

*****
An hour later, the front gate intercom rang.  Jan flipped on the cameras. It was Officer Jones asking if she had seen Andrew McDonald.  “No Officer, I have not seen him today,” she replied.

“Please explain why your gate is locked.” He asked.

‘Oh right! Like that really needs to be explained,’ thought Jan. 

“Well Officer Jones,” she answered. “As the officer across the street has reported to the station, I have had a number of New Canadians requesting to hide in my home.  I don’t know what this is about but I am concerned and I have never had that request before today…”

“Unlock the gate” he laughed and hung up.

She successively unlocked then re-locked the gates remotely.  Jones was in civilian clothes with a pick-up truck pulling a livestock trailer.  He immediately drove around back of her house beside the barn.  In the trailer was a displeased milk cow and her bull calf.  Jan and Jones stepped inside the barn.  In the dark shadows, he swung her against the wall and kissed her deeply.

“Hi honey.” He said with another kiss.  “Thank God John didn’t recognize me last night! What a nightmare that man is! Get McDonald to come help me.  I saw him arrive last night.  I have some info for him about his family.  We don’t have much time.  I also have some chickens for you.  These come from my parents’ farm.  A number of farms on County Road 8 were hit by looters last night.  The house is a wreck and the barn damaged.  Mom’s okay.  They just pushed her into a closet.  All of Mom’s food is gone, but nothing else was touched.  So she’s fairly sure that it was the Barnet boys. Kenny lost his job last week.  Mom only had a few animals left and I’ve brought them here.” Jones told her.  He kissed her again.

Jan went in and got Andrew.  The men had known each other from grade school and they worked swiftly to unload the livestock.

“Andrew,” said Jones, “Your family is in detention to try and flush you out.  I would advise that you stay here and go to ground.  Jan, can you put him in one of the back trailers? I am not sure where you and Gillian stand as a couple but she is singing like a canary and it ain’t pretty.  She is claiming that you were a failure as a husband and parent because you were never home and that the kids aren’t yours.  Any chance that’s true?”

Andrew looked like he’d been punched.  Then he shook his head.  “Well I’m certain that David is mine but, yes, I knew Grace was not.  Gillian was having an affair with one of the married men on the Library board.  I forgave her but we never slept together again after.  When she got pregnant with Grace, I never said a word.  I raised those kids but they are so much like their mother that I just stay out of the way.  Work is busy, so it became a justifiable excuse.”

Jan was stunned.  ‘Goes to prove,’ she thought, ‘that you just never know what goes on with your neighbours.’

“Okay” said Jones.  “That matches with what that witch… I mean your wife said.  Since she has already made herself comfortable with the Police Chief, I’d leave her there.  Now Grace is a fine act following her and I’d doubt you could claim her after what Gillian has been saying.  But I think that David may be worth saving and it won’t happen where he is.  I’ll get him fostered to a farm family and then in a couple days we might be able to get him back here…”

He looked at me.  “Jan here is the paper work for you to have the cow and the additional chickens.” Jan started to speak but he held up his hand.  “If you could come tomorrow and help my mother in cleaning the house it would be appreciated.  She is likely to try and give you a lot of stuff.  Take it.  She is moving in with my sister in Bobcaygeon and it is going to be crowded there, what with Becky’s two girls and it only being a three bedroom house.  I am going to leave the trailer here for you to bring back and fill up.  Keep the gate locked and do not open it for anyone that you do not know or trust absolutely.

“The Americans are coming but don’t expect them for a couple of days.  Farmers are not their primary concern.  You should be fine.  Answer truthfully and keep your head down.  If they offer to move you, tell them you want to go to west - to Alberta, Montana, Wyoming, or Eastern Washington state...  Don’t give them a blue state or you’ll stay here.  Here is not going to be a good place.  Ontario is about to become the clean-up example of what will happen to the Eastern States if they don’t reign in their socialist liberals.”

Andrew looked at him closely. “How do you know this?  For a cop in the back of nowhere, you sure seem to know a lot.”

Jones gave a twisted smile. “I am a CSIS operative,” he said.  “There is one of us in almost every regional police force.  Our job under the Trudeau government is to track and monitor Canadians.  For instance…” and he looked over at Jan, “As you knew, you were of interest for a while. 

He looked at Andrew.  “Jan has worked incredibly hard at staying below the radar. No credit cards.  No cell phone.  An old truck without GPS or black box… Her doctor is an old guy without a computer… She never does anything that makes her suspicious and yet in itself that is unusual.  You have to be taught to do that and they wanted to know who had taught her.  It took them a while and a few discussions with her cousin Gordon, who is safe by the way, to understand that was how she was raised.

“You on the other hand Andrew… well politely you are in for a rough ride.  In your favour is that the Americans can use someone with your knowledge right now and you would be wise to play to that.  Armies need fuel distribution too.  And you not only know the roads but the fuel centres and their operators.  But if the Police Chief catches you, you won’t see dawn.  I don’t know who is issuing his orders.  They aren’t coming through us.  But he has a list and there are members of our community who won’t see tomorrow no matter how much I do.

“Now I gotta run. Jan keep those gates locked.”
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on February 25, 2014, 02:20:38 PM
Chapter 6 – Gift horses…

“Because of my father’s work, we were not able to spend much time with my Grandmother,” John told the Committee.  “I knew who she was but also knew that for my father’s safety, she wasn’t allowed to spend much time with us.  Getting to know her better was one of the more positive results of being Relocated.  Allison was named for her.”  One of his fresh faced, white bonneted, great-granddaughters dipped her head and blushed.  Several of the men found it quite charming.  John cleared his throat and they looked away quickly.

*****

While Andrew was helping John with his school work, Jan went with Jones to his parents’ farm.  It was an older farmhouse at the corner of County Road 8 and Fairview Road.  It had been in the Jones family since they had come from England to Victoria County in the 1830s.  The core of the kitchen was the original log house, to which had then been added a frame two-story house, sided in wood and re-sided in the 1950s with asbestos.  All those fine, intact, fireproof shingles made the house unsellable… and since it was likely that every pipe was also wrapped in it, the house was deemed unfit for habitation (unless you had already been living there without issue for fifty years)…  Jan had always loved the house with its sunny white and yellow exterior, and large deep wrap-around porch.  Due to Jones’ work, Jan had been required to keep her distance and had only ever met Mrs. Jones a couple of times.  She found her to be a down to earth, practical woman with a fine sense of humour and complete exasperation with her family.

Allison Marie (nee Simpson) Jones was a tall, willowy woman in her early sixties.  She had had four children – Cindy-Lou who had died of diphtheria at age 4, Nigel who had drown out on Sturgeon Lake in a boating accident his early teen, Becky (age 30) and Angus (age 35).  The Becky and Angus were not close and rarely spoke if they could help it.  It caused her a lot of stress and grief but she had come to realize that part of it was Angus’ occupation and part of it was that neither had ever really recovered from Nigel’s death.  She had been a stay-at-home mother and farm wife, until her husband had died two years prior in an accident on the farm.  His death had resulted in the pulling of their farm license, but the state of the house had meant that she had not been required to house anyone.  She had liked Jan the few times they had met but they had never been able to have the close relationship that she would have liked.

“Now young lady…” she started.  “My boy seems to think much of you but I don’t see him settled yet.”

Despite her best intentions Jan blushed.

“He also seems to think that you will appreciate what my daughter can’t see the use of.”

Jan nodded.  “That may be Mrs. Jones, but I don’t know Becky.  Even though we are of an age and my grandparents owned the farm just up the road.  I didn’t move there until I was seventeen, and I never went to school here, so there are a lot of people I don’t know.”

“Well she is a right fine worker is our Becky.  As you know, she married into the Raven family.  Thems that run the dairy and she works right hard for them.  Can’t say that the himself and I did not raise her up right, it’s just that she believes that only new and store bought has value.” The stream of irritation flowed up the stairs with Jan behind.  “We’ll start at the top girl and move down.”

The attic was deceptive from the outside.  Actually its existence was a surprise as from the outside it didn’t look like there was one at all.  The attic was full of old bedsteads, a couple were brass, with all their fittings intact, others were gorgeously carved Victorians whose mahogany and oak carcasses’ weight could be measured in tons, and a few were even designed for rope. Jan oohhed and awed over them and Mrs. Jones told her to move them to her pile. So she took some of the brass and all of the rope bedframes. There was even a box bed tucked into the corner.  Opening it, she found snow shoes and tall Ojibwa paddles with wide vermillion-painted blades. She marked the lot to go. Jan also claimed the treadle sewing machine and its fittings, the dressmaker’s dummy, a trunk full of notions, another trunk full of HBC point blankets and capotes, and still another full of quilts.  She took the two spinning wheels, the wool winder, the floor loom, the table loom and the quilting frame.

Jan stopped there fingering one of the quilts, the soft cotton warm in her hand.  “Mrs. Jones… Are you sure your daughter won’t want some of these?  They are really lovely.”

Mrs. Jones gave an unlady-like snort.  “Sure and she’d like them, but only to sell to that man at the antique store in Fenelon. I’ll sell him those beds you don’t want. Becky don’t sew buttons on anything.  If one falls off she sends it to the cleaners to be fixed.  Now my boy, he can sew his own buttons and do leather tack too.  He’s a good catch that one.  Now tell me about that boy of yours.  I’ve seen him out and about, but I don’t hold with none of that magpie chatter, so you tell me.”

As they sorted through boxes of papers, which Jan convinced her should be given to the museum in Fenelon Falls rather than put in the burn barrel, and trunks of clothes, some of which were also set aside to be donated or sold, Jan told her about John.  But she still was careful and when Mrs. Jones called her on it, Jan said bluntly:

“Mrs. Jones, he’s our boy and while you might mean all the best in the world, talking about him elsewhere might bring us all attention we don’t want. And more over, might give you information you shouldn’t know on the supposed level of interaction we’re supposed to have.  One day this may all change and then I’ll tell you all.”

Mrs. Jones cackled and told her she was right.  By early-afternoon, they were done the attic.  When the man from the antique store had come for the first load, Jan stayed out of sight.   Then they took the museum donations into town. Town was a quiet place and they stayed off Colburne Street, by slipping across Princess, down John to Oak.  A few curtains twitched but there was no one on the streets. The Curator was in and reluctantly took the donations.  She was closing up on government orders.  Curfew was going into effect at 6pm.  The OPP had already locked down the bridge. There was no going south now. The Americans were coming.  They were already in Lindsay.  Everyone was quietly going to ground.

Jan and Mrs. Jones slipped just as quietly back out of town.  Back at the farm, they had a quick cuppa and a slice of Mrs. Jones’ spice cake and went to start on the second floor. Jan carried garbage bags of linens – heavy cotton sheets with delicate tatted lace edges, heavy flannel sheets for the winter, beautifully embroidered pillowcases and towels.  She put the bags in the trailer on top of the trunks and went back in.  She carried down rugs and putting them over the line and beating out the dust before rolling them up and putting them in the trailer.  Family photos were taken out of frames and put in plastic bins with silica packets. Mrs. Jones sighed and handed them to Jan.

“My boy will want these.  Now Becky, bless her, likes that minimal look. Family photos are clutter to her mind.  I’ve put the names on the back, so you all will know who is who”, she said.

Small chachkas were either wrapped up for Mrs. Jones room or put to one side to be sold.  Several Jan watched Mrs. Jones lament over, and she offered to put a trunk away in the barn for Mrs. Jones in case she changed her mind.  She accepted and the trunk filled quickly with things she wanted but wouldn’t have room for at Becky’s.  Several items were very special.

They dealt quickly with the books.  Most were not worth saving, but there were a couple of agricultural and gardening texts that Jan tucked to one side.  Mrs. Jones wrapped up the family bible, which had porcupined due to all the family papers and photos tucked into it, and put it on the front hall table for her son. 

Next came the furniture...  Mrs. Jones was taking her bedroom things, but the rest of the house was a question mark. Jan looked around her and sighed.  So much great stuff… No space for it…

At some point the summer kitchen had been turned into the pantry.  From there Jan took all of the mason jars and lids, the canning kettles, the pressure cookers, the apple peelers, the meat grinders, the sour kraut and butter crocks. There were the very old barrel butter churns and the more modern glass paddle versions, both manual and electric. The electric ones were put in the antique store pile. She even found a box of butter presses and paddles. 

There was an amazing array of dishes and large platters.  Jan found a bunch of roasting pans, a clockwork rotisserie, large and small dutch ovens, and several spiders – both of the iron and living varieties.  The iron ones she kept.  The living ones were squashed.  In another cupboard were stacks of pie tins, cookie tins and biscuit cutters, bread pans, molded cake pans, shortbread molds, and gelatin molds. There was a shelf full of candle molds and several pots that had obviously been used to melt wax or tallow. Opening one tin, Jan found balls of braided wick.  In another tin was coiled wick for the oil lamps.  The lamps and their chimneys filled the top shelves of all the cabinets.  There were even wall reflectors and mounts for some.  There were drawers full of hand carved wooden spoons and other implements and a stack of cutting boards.  There were also some gorgeous mixing bowls that Jan couldn’t resist.  Under the window was a proofing box and beside it a large dough board with a fitted base. The old stove had been blacked recently and its chrome parts all shone attesting to Mrs. Jones pride in keeping house, even in a room that she clearly did not use.

She felt like a kid in a candy store… or discovering Aladdin’s cave… or Howard Carter whispering “Wonderful things!”… She could have stayed all day and just wallowed in the contents of the room. She realized that she finally understood the word ‘covet’.  She felt like she had landed in a heritage village and was being handed the keys to the kingdom.

That lottery winning feeling continued in the laundry room, where Jan took the drying racks – one on the wall for hand towels and the two suspended from the ceiling.  There were wooden and iron sock and glove stretchers.  The tiny ones for a child’s glove made her smile.  There were several tin agitators, and washboards of both the tin and glass variety. To her pleasure, there were wash tubs and stands and some wonderful mangles.  Up on its shelf were the old irons – even one for crimping collars! 

“Mrs. Jones,” asked Jan deciding to push her luck.  “Is there a dedicated wringing post in the yard.  My Gran always used the porch posts, but I’ve had my eye out for one to put down by the stream.”

Mrs. Jones laughed.  “Fancy you knowing about wringing posts!” she said.  “No we used the porch post too for things too big to go through the wringer.”

From there, even though it was starting to get dark, Jan headed out to the wood shed, which was at the end of the L and accessible off the south porch. They were going to take all the cut wood.  She figured there was close onto three cords here, which would fill in their winter supply.  The candy store feeling continued at the back of the wood shed, there were cooking tripods with their hooks and chains, the syrup and lye kettles.  In the back corner, in a messy pile were several fireplace cranes, trivets, meat clocks and reflectors. 

Looking around the main floor, Jan tagged several dressers, the Formica kitchen table and chairs, several painted hutches and jam cupboards.  What she really wanted were the kitchen and pantry cabinets and Victorian cast-iron enamel sinks, the wood cook stove and two parlour stoves.  Those could all go into the trailers to make them winter-safe.  She also wanted the picket fencing and a look in the garage and drive shed, but that would have to wait for the next day.

She packed up the truck and headed for home, exhausted but relieved.  As she went to leave, an equally tired Mrs. Jones handed her a mason jar full marbles for John.  Jan smiled and hugged her.

“Please know that if things don’t work out with Becky, you will always have a place with us”, said Jan.

Mrs. Jones patted her arm and gave a sniff.  “You keep my boys safe.  Things are going to get downright scary here.  But I want to lay my bones down with my Pat and the doctors say I don’t have long anyhow…”
 
*****
“You know,” John interrupted his narration and looked at the Committee, “There are things that were collected from that farm house that are used in my home even today.  I treasure them.  Our life would have been so much more of a challenge without them. The agitators may have new handles but the tin is still in use. The candle molds were used last week by the girls…” and he nodded at his great-granddaughters. “The churns and butter molds are used daily. Many of the items belonged to Grandpa or Grandma Jones’ grandparents. For 250-years now, they have seen service… it’s a testament to craftsmanship and the continuation of our way of life.” He resumed the story.
*****
When she got home, Jan collected Andrew and John and they drove out past the spring head to the trailers and cabins behind.  In short order, one of the beds and mattresses were unloaded, along with a dresser, an old Formica table and chairs and a hutch.  The furniture was placed in one of the one room cabins.  A second mattress was manhandled up the ladder and into the loft.  John escaped the work detail to play.

“If Jones can spring David, he’ll be able to stay here with you,” said Jan.

“I went to see if there was a way into the property today,” said Andrew, “but there is still a cop posted there.  I did see Gillian and Grace go in and come out with a couple suitcases.  Grace was whining because she couldn’t take all her toys when she went back to school tomorrow.  So it looks like Gillian is going to turn her over to the school board.”

He sat down suddenly at the edge of the bed.  “Oh God!  I feel like such a failure as a parent.  I looked at the girl I have raised as my daughter and felt nothing but apathy and disgust… my own child… I didn’t even recognize her.  She was all tarted up like a teenager and she’s just going on ten.”

Jan decided to leave than one alone.  “Well if they only took suitcases, then your stuff is still there and it is being guarded.  So while you can’t get to it, neither can anyone else.  So anyways… here it is.  You are welcome to stay here or to move on.  Your choice.  If you stay here are the rules:  (1) You help out.  This is a big place and if you want to eat with us and stay here, you need to contribute. (2) You do not bring anyone here who has not been vetted by me.  This is John’s and my safe haven and I will not tolerate it being made unsafe.  (3) You do not discuss what is here with anyone.  Ever.  Period.  End of discussion.  Finally, (4) I am not a fringe benefit to staying here.  You are married, even if Gillian is behaving badly, but I do not fool around with married men.  I have always enjoyed your company and like your common sense but I am not going to play bed games with you.  Kapeesh.”

Andrew looked at her and nodded. “Kapeesh.  Not going to say that I am not sorry about number 4 but I understand.  Can I ask what the deal with Jones is?”

Jan looked at him. “Appreciate the compliment. At this point, Jones and I have a lot to sort out.  There is a lot going on.  Our world is about to change really fast and I am not sure if either of us can afford or equally not afford to publicly acknowledged our… relationship.”

Andrew nodded.

Jan continued to look him straight in the eye.  “What are you going to do when the Americans get here?  Jones has said to expect them at the front gate no later than noon tomorrow.  I cannot negotiate for your safety and I will not compromise my son for you. There will be no hiding from them. You might want to talk to Jones about this.  Going with the Americans might be your safest venture.  I don’t know why you were marked but you should probably ask to talk to a commanding officer and lay the whole thing out.  If need be, I will take David until you can join us again. You will need to write-up paperwork to that effect tonight and have a copy prepared for the Americans.  Now I am exhausted.  I am going to make dinner and go to bed.  Tomorrow morning at 5am, the five of us, you included, will be going to Mrs. Jones’ house to collect the furniture. I want to be back here by 6:30am.”


Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on February 26, 2014, 08:02:10 AM
Chapter 7 – Changing guard…

Jan was up at 4:30am.  After a quick porridge for everyone, a sleepy John climbed into his seat. Andrew helped Jan attach the livestock trailer and then he hid in the back under a pile of tarps.  They headed out before 5am.  A lonely and very bored policeman sat vigil at the end of Andrew’s driveway.
He looked at Jan and gave a half-hearted wave.  She rolled down the window.

“Any sign?” asked Jan.

“Naw,” said the policeman, who looked barely old enough to shave.  “I bet he’s long gone.  His old lady is shacked up with the Chief, the girl was dropped off at the school and the boy has been sentenced to hard labour on some farm for objecting to what his mother was doing.  The new guy, Jones, had to take him out there. Jones was real mad about the place.  Said it wasn’t fit for a rat let alone a child, but the owner is the Chief’s cousin. The kid’s got morals unlike the other two but no sense of politics… then again how many twelve years olds should have to understand that.  I can’t wait till shift change at 7am.”

Jan went to move when the policeman said “Hey if that lady ever comes back, stay away from her.  She’s poison you know.  She tried to even get you in trouble.”  Jan’s blood ran cold.

“Really?” she said.  “What did Gillian say?”

“Oh she tried to claim that you were some sort of nut job who had told her to play sick to get her kids out of school.  She even tried to claim that Old Doc P was in on it.”

“What!?!” exclaimed Jan.

“Oh no worries,” said the policeman. “They checked with the school and their records show clearly that it was Gillian who picked-up the kids and the cctv show that it was her car.  Heck they even show her at the grocery store with the kids.  If she wasn’t sleeping with the Chief, I’d bet she would be in major shit for talking like that about you and the doctor.”


“Why that… grrr…” shrieked Jan. She stopped herself.  “Thank you for letting me know.  I thought she was a good friend…  Why would she… I mean…  Best get going.  Thanks for the warning.”  She waved at him and put the truck in gear.

She was shaking as she drove down the road.

“I’m sorry”, said Andrew.

“Do... Not... Ever... apologize for that woman,” spat out Jan.  “On the other hand, she has very publicly removed herself from your life.  On paper, you are David’s father.  Once the Americans resolve this, file for full custody of him and move on. With her infidelity on record and played out so publicly, I doubt you’ll even have to pay alimony.”

It was a few minutes after 5am when they pulled into the Jones’ farm.  They were met by two teams of Amish men.  John was asleep and Jan left him in the truck.  Mrs. Jones was fluttering about, caught between the thrill of her life’s accumulations not going to the dump and the sadness of letting them go. 

In short order, the men moved the three dismantled wood stoves into the trailer. They were followed by the furniture that had been marked and the cabinetry.  The huge cast iron kettles, the giant tripods and spits, and various hand forged kitchen implements were taken from the shed along with the tools from the garage.  Jones had also capped off the well and removed the pump.  It went into the trailer too.

The drive barn was opened and in the pale light Jan’s mouth watered.  A fine wagon and several pieces of horse drawn equipment were there.  Jones hitched his team of Belgians to the wagon. The wagon was loaded with boxes and suitcases. The Amish farmers talked rapidly as they ran their hands over the equipment and the horses.  Speaking with Jones, they tried to buy them.

“This equipment is well made.” said Samuel Yoder.  “Would you consider selling it to us?”

“No,” said Jones with a smile. “My grandfather collected and restored the equipment.  I learned by handing him tools.  He and I drove the teams putting it all to use. I miss him. This has been a good farm and I’ll miss it too.”

Jones then introduced Jan to them as his fiancée.  The men nodded respectfully and hooked up their teams to the equipment.  John rode in the wagon with Jones.   The horses set out on what should be a twenty minute ride to Jan’s.

Jan and Mrs. Jones went through the last few items.  Jan reiterated her invitation to Mrs. Jones and got a tearful hug.  Jones would be coming back to move her to town.

Jan waved to the officer as she came in.  He waved back.

Jones pulled out the trestle table from the barn and Jan served all the men a morning snack of coffee, fresh bread, boiled eggs, cheese and apples.  The Amish men looked about and were complimentary to Jones about the farm.  They headed out by 6:40am.  Jones kissed her and left quickly too.
“I’ll be back about 10am,” he told her.  “I am resigning today. Keep everything locked down.”

Everything was done and quiet before the police changed shifts at 7am.  That turned out to be a good move.  Jan watched the shift change from her driveway camera.  She hit record on the camera. The officer was standing there quietly.  The Police Chief was strutting around like a peacock, yelling at the officer. He the lashed out striking the young man across the mouth and knocking him to the ground.  The younger man stood up, took off his badge and walked away.  Jan knew there was going to be big trouble now.  Even so, she was shocked as she watched the furious Police Chief unholstered his gun and shoot the young man in the back of the head.  With three key strokes, she sent the file to Jones’ private account.

She continued to watch, and record, as another officer was ordered to stand watch.  Two more officers were dispatched to try and throw the body of the dead officer over her fence.  They couldn’t do it.  So they pinned his badge back on, put his gun back in his holster, and laid him down on his stomach facing the road, his feet at her gate.  It looked for all the world like he had been shot walking away from her property… well if you ignored the lack of blood splatter and the drag marks.  Then the Police Chief and his entourage left.  The officer across the road, took off his badge, pocketed his gun and that of the dead officer and walked away.  With three more keystrokes, Jan sent the second recording to Jones’ private file.
The only response from Jones was “Touch nothing.”

Looking at the piles of stuff in her living room and figuring that she had four hours at most before the Americans arrived, Jan set to work sorting them.  She had John and Andrew sort the tools and put them away in the tool shed.  She wanted it to look like one big mess of tools, not recent acquisitions.  A couple of the new dressers were lined up down the hall, and she wiped them all down and filled them with the linens.  On top of them went her books, both her and Jones’ family photos.

Jones’ suitcases were unloaded and his clothes put away in her closets.  His shaving kit and toothbrush went in the bathroom as well as fresh towels matching towels for them all.  His jammies went under his pillow.  A photo of the two of them went on the dresser.  One of Jones with John went on her bedside table.  His books and newspapers went on a side table in the living room.  His personal papers went into the drawer in the Front Hall table. It now looked for all the world like Jones had always lived there.  Finally, Jan reached up under her bedside table and detached the small blue envelope.  Out of it she slid three rings.  Quietly she placed two of them on her ring finger.  She smiled briefly.

She closed the drawer and got back to work.  She wished there was more time.  She felt under the gun to make sure they had everything.  The fact that they might have to move terrified her from a logistics perspective.  How the heck was she going to make sure they took everything they were going to need…

Slowly the pile in the living room dwindled.  She was putting the last items in the hall closet when the buzzer sounded the front gate.  It was Jones.
“Let me in Jan.  The Police Chief is close behind me.  Lock down hard behind me.”

Jen buzzed him through each gate, locking down each behind him.  As he cleared the last gate, she electrified the fence and turned on all the cameras.  Jones sped into the farm yard, gravel flying, and put the truck in the space in the drive shed.  Meanwhile, Jan hustled John into the hidey hole.
“For real this time,” she told him.  “Come out only if I give you the code or the Americans come in to get you.  If you see the Police Chief, you know what to do.  What do you do?”

John looked at her and repeated by rote, “Shoot him before he shoots me.  Never let him take me away.”

“Got your mask?” Jan asked.  He nodded and held it up.

“I love you most.  You are super special.” She kissed the top of his head and hugged him hard. “You make my heart sing.”

Jan backed out of the hidey-hole and Jan closed him in.  She said a silent prayer and hoped that he would be safe.

Jones reached the kitchen.  He gave Jan a quick squeeze then stopped when he saw the rings.

“Ready to be public?” He asked as he kissed the rings on her hand.

“Now is the very best time,” said Jan firmly, and slid his ring on his finger.

“I’m on the Police Chief’s list.  Someone is targeting CSIS officers.  They shot Mac in Lindsay and Henry in Peterborough.” He sat in the hall chair with his head in his hands.  The ring gleamed on his finger. “Charlie in Orillia got away but we have heard nothing from Annie in Coboug.”

*****
“Annie survived,” said John.  ”She came out and visited us once about ten years after everything settled down.  Charlie was killed in the end as were some 60 other CSIS agents who had been imbedded within police forces.  I think they decided in the end that it was an inside job with someone within CSIS  advising the Ontario Police Union of the presence of the operatives and then the Union dictating the removal.  Didn’t matter that all had been Union members and one even a Union boss.  There were about thirty who survived.  Thankfully my father was one of them.”
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 06, 2014, 02:36:43 AM
Chapter 8  - On your mark…

“You gentlemen do understand what CSIS was?” John asked looking at the Committee.  Most nodded, but for those who hadn’t he explained.

“At the time it was the Canadian equivalent to the CIA and while they originally did a lot of foreign work, by the time of the Invasion, it had devolved into a strictly domestic spy agency.  My father’s position was to monitor the Police themselves and ensure that they did not get too far out of hand.  I gather that in rural areas this was a particular problem as they had found it more lucrative to work with the Triads and biker gangs in the growing of recreational drugs.”  John turned in his seat and looked at the historians behind him.  “I am sure that one of your students could write a very interesting thesis on that bit of history.  Should all be declassified by now.”  He smiled at them and turned back.

*****
Jan and Jones both knew it was a race as to who would get to them first.  The problem of course was that the Police Chief knew that there was a time line while the American military didn’t and might not have cared even if they had.  While the Army was at the other end of the road – they were still five miles and six farms away.  Jan electrified the fence.
The buzzer sounded at the gate.  Jan turned the perimeter cameras and speakers to record.  Standing over the body of their former colleague, dressed in SWAT gear, the Police Chief and fifteen men waited.

“May I help you?” she asked.

“Police”, came the crisp reply.  “You are ordered to open the gate.  Gates are not permissible under Section 5 of the Anti-Social Natures Act (2016).”

“These gates are permitted and grandfathered under section 6025(i) of the Cultural Heritage and Skilled Trades Act (2017).  Gates will remain closed until premises cleared by US Army 3rd Infantry Division as per the orders issued by Col. James Silias.  The orders were issued at 7:10am to all residents of the CoKL under the Orders of Occupation which state that “All residents are to remain inside until their residences have been cleared by troops.” So the gates will remain closed until the US Army arrives to clear the premises”, stated Jan.

“This is the Police.  You are ordered to open the gates or we will blow them.”

“Be advised that as per Col. Silias’ directive, all police units were ordered to stand down with all authorities revoked and return to the places of abode until cleared by the Army…”

“You open this f-ing gate woman!” shrieked the Police Chief.  “You killed one of my men!”

Only now did some of the policemen look closely at the body lying on the ground.  Many looked twice at the scene and body.  They looked puzzled.  Several started to back away.

“Please watch the screen” Jan directed and she pressed play.  She watched as the policemen watched their colleague remove his badge, be shot in the back of the head by the Police Chief who the repined the badge and directed that the body be placed in her drive.  The Police Chief drew his gun and shot out the screen.  Jan and Jones watched as the SWAT members dove for cover while the Police Chief screamed and shot through the gate and at his men.

Into the turmoil drove the first American truck.  What later became labeled a battle by the surviving police and a completely forgotten minor skirmish by the Americans showed how badly thought out the Police Chief’s actions had been.  Although wounded, the Chief was hog tied and tossed into the back of the truck.  Any police who shot at the troops were shot and the rest detained.  With that dealt with Jan turned off the electrics on the fence.  She then went down and got John.  She also buzzed Andrew.

A young soldier pushed the buzzer and identified himself.  Jones unlocked the gates and they all went down to meet the advancing troops.
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 13, 2014, 01:40:28 PM
Chapter 9  - Get set…

The group of six young soldiers came through the three gate system and found themselves on a well-kept, well run, small farm.  They looked at each other and smiled, but did not let down their guard.  Standing in front of the house, they saw a couple with a young boy.  Coming across the farm yard was a second man.  Two soldiers peeled off the group and intercepted the man.  They spoke for a moment and then one of the soldiers lifted his radio.  Shortly thereafter a jeep came barreling into the yard, Andrew was bundled into the jeep and driven off.  The two soldiers rejoined the group and they continued up to the farmhouse.

“Good afternoon,” said one of the soldiers, with Lt. J.A. Ferguson on his name badge.

“Hi,” said Jan.

“I am Angus Jones,” said Jones.  “My wife Jan McConnell and our son, John McConnell.”

Ferguson nodded.  “Papers, please.”

Jan had all their papers ready, but Jones handed them his ID and asked to speak with the CID person.  The soldiers looked at each other again and one stepped aside to radio for CID.  Meanwhile Ferguson took Jan’s paperwork.

Ferguson asked if there were any pressing medical needs.

“Thanks,” said Jan. “We are okay for John’s medications at this time.  Neither Jones nor I take any.”

“Do you require any food?” Ferguson asked.

“No.” was Jan’s reply.  The soldier was not surprised.  Of the six properties they had been to that morning this was the fifth that did not need help, the sixth had been looted the night before.  They had found that most of the farm properties had been completely self-sufficient.  He commented on this to Jan.

“Oh,” she replied.  “They have to be.  Farmers have to be able to feed their own, and whomever else they are required to house, or they lose their farm status and their farms.  It can be a real challenge around here as the soil is not very good for crops.”

“Well that explains a lot.  Could you please take us through your house? Magnus will stay here with your son,” said Ferguson, and although he was polite it was an order.
Jan caught John’s attention.  “John,” she said looking him in the eyes. “This is Magnus.  He will stay with you here while you look at the jeep. He can radio me if you need me.”

John nodded and went back to looking at the truck.  As they left, Jan heard John start to ask Magnus questions about the jeep.

Jan led Ferguson into the house.  Ferguson was unsurprised to find a clean, but obviously lived-in house, full of old furniture, books, craft projects and produce in varying stages of preservation.  There were family pictures scattered around, local maps tacked on the wall, and paintings of the area by artists of occasionally dubious talent. Behind the front door was the gun safe inside a cupboard.  The woman did not seem concerned that he knew it was there and opened it on request – four long guns, barrels bolted and trigger locks in place, as required by law.  The boy’s room was full of cars, blocks and Lego, and old Muppet and Star Wars posters.  In the corner of his room was his desk with a wall of school material beside it.  The other bedroom was obviously the master.  Again all was well looked after and obviously old.  He figured that this is what his great-grandmother’s house would have looked like.

Looking out John’s window, Jan saw one of the soldiers making a drawing of the layout of the farm.  Two more were surveying the buildings and calling numbers to the one making the record.  John was beside the jeep with the soldier, Magnus.  John was pointing out things on the jeep and talking a mile a minute.

Jan smiled and turning to Ferguson, said “My son has a fascination with military equipment.  Do you want me to rescue your colleague before his ears bleed or after he has received a dissertation on that particular model of jeep?”

“Oh I am sure that Magnus can handle himself,” the soldier replied.  Jan was doubtful but left it alone.

They returned to the kitchen to find Jones seated at the computer with O’Donnell, the CID man.  The computer struck Ferguson as a jarring note but it reminded him that these people were far more sophisticated than they had expected.  While most of the farmers so far had been of the “good ole boy” variety Fergusons and his men had not missed the fine business sense most of the famers processed nor their almost universal loathing of governmental interference in their farm operations and life.  Jones was showing O’Donnell the tape from that morning’s shooting and then the Police Chief’s attempts to gain access to the farm.

Ferguson then had Jan take him through the out buildings and the orchard. As they went along, Ferguson grew more and more respectful of this woman, what she had inherited and what they had built, and sorry for her at what was about to happen. He also felt sorry for the farm itself.  It was a good little farm and unless they chose new tenants carefully it was bound to get mucked up.  He hoped that she would be permitted to take most of the farm’s contents with her.

“Lt. Ferguson,” inquired Jan.

“Yes Mam,” he answered.

“The man, Andrew McDonald, who was here earlier, is our neighbour from across the road.  His wife has abandoned him and taken up quite publicly with the Police Chief.  His wife turned her daughter over to the school board but their son, David McDonald, was sent to the Ford Farm on County Road 22, because he objected to his mother’s behaviour.  It is our intent to take in David until the issues with his father are sorted out.  His father will be applying for sole custody based on the mother’s behaviour.  How can we get this expedited before…” Jan stopped.  She handed him the paperwork that Andrew had written up the evening prior. “You should be aware Lieutenant that the Ford Farm is a home for wayward and hard to manage children.  They have a reputation for severe disciplinary methods and, on occasion, children placed there have become… let’s say unaccounted for.”

Looking them over, Ferguson nodded.  “McDonald will have to initiate but there is unlikely to be an issue if he makes the request. I’ll let CID know to have additional men and medical staff in place when they clear County Road 22.”

“Now,” he continued. “You are likely to be confined to the farm until the issues that CID are investigating are concluded.  You are likely also be relocated.  You may wish to use this time that you have to consolidate and prepare the things you need to be moved.  You have a large operation that will need to be moved and the fact that you can operate a farm without gasoline or diesel will make you highly sought after.  Your husband will have been given the forms that you need to complete.  You need to include any family members, immediate or extended, that are likely to want to move with you.  Once the forms are submitted, the farming communities that have available properties will request a match.  You may have several options or none.

“As an aside, you may want to look for one from Havre, Montana.  My folks are down there and there is a farm on their road that is not dissimilar to this one.  I’m going to tell them to submit for you all.”

“That is very kind Lieutenant!” said Jan, enjoying to young man’s eagerness.  “Can you tell me the process by which the farms are chosen in each community?”
“Well...” he said.  “I’m not entirely sure, but most of them were foreclosures, or abandoned and untenanted for more than 3-years.  So none of them are going to be first class places like this one but no one is being forced off their property either.  The one by my parents was farmed until five years ago when the owner died and the only child lived in New York City and hasn’t paid the taxes on it since.  My dad even tried calling him.”  He shook his head. “Some land is available because the current farmers have applied, under this scheme, to move to a different part of the country or been advised that it is in their interest to do so.”

“What kind of criteria are the communities looking for?” asked Jan.

“Well hard working for one… honest… church going...”

“Well that one is a bit difficult,” Jan interrupted.  “It has been illegal here to worship publicly since Good Friday 2016.  Initially in late 2014, the Quebec government passed a law barring the outward display of religious symbols in public service positions but within eighteen-months it was carried it to its extreme by treating religious adherence of any sort to be a form of mental illness that could result in the removal of children from the home and the incarceration of the adults for “deprogramming”.
 
“It went into effect on the Good Friday and the police broke down the doors of churches arresting and shooting.  It was a bloodbath.  It was the biggest asset grab in Canadian history and many people died.  The Liberal government of Justin Trudeau took everything that wasn’t nailed down and pried up what was.  Kind of like what King Henry VIII of England did but with all denominations and all faiths...  A few  religious leaders fled to the US but the majority didn’t get out in time, as did few of their parishioners, many of whom were arrested, personal assets seized and children taken away. You will find very few adults who will admit to any form of religious adherence.  However, you may see vestiges it as an economic slash cultural display – Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Cinco de Mayo and Dia de Muertos.  The important holidays are now Civic Holiday in August, Labour Day in September, Thanksgiving in October, New Year’s Day, Family Day in February, March Break, Victoria Day in May and of course July 1st - Canada Day!
 
“The government eventually gave dispensations to groups like the Amish and Mennonites and Hasidic Jews as they viewed their religions as having ‘quaint visual and cultural value in a diverse society’.  But even with them any religious expression is very much private and underground. You are unlikely to get many to admit that they practice.”

‘Of course,’ thought Jan, ‘I wonder if any of these guys will figure out the symbol for those who practice underground…’ as she looked above her front door at the small silver plaque with its red enamel stripe.  To those seeking, it indicated that this was a home of faith.  Taken from the story of Passover, where the Jews marked their lintels with lambs blood so that the Angel of Death might Passover, the underground Christians now used the symbol to marked their own lintels.

Ferguson had caught her glance and noted the small plaque.  Later when looking at photos of the front doors of the houses throughout the City of Kawartha Lakes, Ferguson noted that nearly 20% had the small plaques.  He suggested to his boss that this might be of importance.  He then noticed that almost to a household that those with the plaques had also been marked for relocation, while none of the households marked to stay had a plaque.  The exceptions to relocation were all due to age and infirmity.  But they still didn’t know what the plaque meant. Nor did they know if it would apply outside of the Kawarthas.

*****
“Those plaques,” John told the Committee, “can still be found on the homes of the descendants of the Relocated.  We do it in remembrance as a guarantee of safety to each other.  They are similar to those used by those of the Jewish faith to bless the house. Can’t remember what they call them…”

“Mezuzah?”, suggested the Congressman from New York.

“Really?” said the Congressman from North Dakota.  “My in-laws have one above their door. My wife put one above our front door when we were married. Never thought about it again…”

John smiled.
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 13, 2014, 01:45:59 PM
Chapter 10 – Going… Going…

“You know,” John told the Committee. ‘The Jewish people call themselves The Chosen Peoples.  They will also tell you that sometimes they wish someone else might be chosen.  This time, they got their wish.  This time we were chosen. And they were right.  Being chosen can make life very difficult.

 “When the relocation scheme had been initiated in the US, the Amish and Mennonite communities in the US had been approached and quietly asked how best to move the Ontario Colonies.  So the Brethren of the American Colonies put their collective heads together and after considerable consultation paired up their Ontario brethren with Western colonies.  It was a challenge because while all were Anabaptists, their Ordnungs varied and that could cause problems. They had determined that the City of Kawartha Lakes (CoKL) Amish community would be relocated to join with the West Kootenai Colony in Rexford, Lincoln County, Montana.  Others farmers were being sent to Saskatchewan, Alberta, eastern Washington state, Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“While it wasn’t only farmers who were sent, the majority from our area were.  Some wanted to stay, only to find that the community was going to force them out. Not sure who the communities thought were going to run the farm and feed them but then logic wasn’t exactly their strong point.  Truth is that the farmers who went were working hard on marginal properties.  In Ontario long ago the best farm land had been seized by the Province and leased to corporate farm operations. So the farmers were headed to better pastures and the US got farmers who spoke English, and knew how to work in within their context.  No more importing farmers from Keyna – men who worked hard but knew nothing about how North American farms worked.”

*****
The CoKL Colony was being moved in its entirety - houses, barns and outbuildings and their contents and equipment.  Everything would be dismantled, packed on trains and go with them. The Cedar Cove School would also be moved. The military organizers decided that as non-mechanized farmers, Jan and Jones and their family would go with them.   

It was a huge logistical challenge for the US Army to coordinate and move so many so far… to move people, buildings and equipment, livestock, and personal items.  But this was to be the test run of four-hundred and thirty people, from thirty-eight farms and twenty-two other Amish-owned businesses would be going to Rexford. A further sixty farms would be relocated to other communities across the west and would be handled in the second round. 

In the US, they had already relocated east all the “blue” families from Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin… and there weren’t many of them, and moved west any “red” families that wished to go… oddly there weren’t a lot more of them.

For Ontario, there were transportation logistic issues. With Andrew McDonald tucked into a back office playing with the advanced software and tracking tucks, they dealt with Provincial fuel supply issues. Within the week, the Army’s Corps of Engineers had re-laid the railroad lines from the main spur at Cobourg through Fenelon Falls and on to points north.  There was the expected vocal squawking and quick silencing of the eco-freaks, who had encouraged the creation of bike paths that were rarely used except by a very small minority.  To Jan, the fact that the Americans had the man power and materials in place to do this indicated how much advanced planning and financial resources had gone into this scheme. This would not be permitted to fail.

The Army moved forward fast. Tracks were laid.  Soon the box cars were in place, and the farms were being dismantled.

The dismantling of the Colony was aided by two Amish barn-building teams from West Kootnai. They came in to meet each other and to ensure that the buildings could go back up quickly on arrival.  Winter was coming and there was no time to be lost. As fast as the trains could be procured, the families were shipped out.  At one point, they were going out at the rate of ten families a day.
 
Jan and Jones had presented a problem for the West Kootenai Colony. The large influx of Amish from Canada would present enough challenges as the communities blended.  Although Jan and Jones were known to the Kawartha Lakes Colony, they were not known intimately.  And while the leadership of both communities could attest that their farming lifestyles and skills were comparative, neither Jan nor Jones were religiously or culturally Amish, spoke the Pennsylvania Dutch, read the High German dialect, or were pacifists.  The Colonies were not entirely happy about them coming to Rexford, but admitted that they would be an asset. The Amish community had been in Rexford since the 1970s and there were an equal number of non-Amish in the community.   As Jan watched this development happen, she became increasingly concerned about being moved into a community that might not be welcoming. 

Jan met with the Colony leaders and the Relocation Coordinator. An elderly woman acted as her chaperone as Amish men rarely spoke to English women on their own.

“Mrs. McConnell, can you explain to me why you choose to live as you do?” asked one of the Elders from West Kootenai.

“Sir… Gentlemen… The farm was my grandparents.  Of all their children and grandchildren, I was the only one who really loved the farm and loved the work that it took to run.  As such, I attended the Royal Agricultural College in Guelph, Ontario, for 2-1/2 years, learning the business side of farming, crop management and large animal husbandry.  I had to leave before I completed my degree because my grandfather passed away and I came back to care for my grandmother and to manage the farm.  Unfortunately, because I did not have my degree and my grandmother had no formal education, the Department of Agriculture rescinded our farm license.  We were lucky that the farm was considered marginal or my grandmother would have been forced to sell it to a licensed farmer.  After that, I was permitted to grow only what would sustain the existing herds and flocks.  I was not permitted to replace animals except by natural means.  Thankfully, the neighbour’s bull was extremely wily about in getting onto our farm and so the herd numbers have been maintained through natural increase and attrition. Because of the small stipend given to care for John full-time, we have been permitted to keep chickens and have up to a two acre garden.”

The Elders all gave a small smile and nod.  Jan’s willingness to sacrifice personal to honour the needs of her elders was a strong positive.

“I believe strongly that in a small operation such as the one I had, that non-mechanized farming was the most cost effective and in the best interest of the land.  Before my grandfather’s passing, I took several courses in Tennessee with a group that taught non-mechanized farming with mules and horses.  I took my team down with me and they were a great help in knowing the best way to work the teams.  It was a terrific opportunity.  Their soils are similar to ours and rocky in nature but we don’t have the steep field issues they had, but I do have experience tilling on mountain sides. 

“My grandfather had collected the farm equipment, as had Jones’, and so I learned from him initially.  Certainly at college they pushed the mechanized means but the equipment is expensive and our farm simply did not make the type of revenues needed to purchase that type of equipment.  My grandfather believed that you only bought what you could pay cash for – no credit, no debt.  For that reason there was no concern about losing the farm on his death.”

Another of the Elders asked “Could you tell us about your husband and son?  Your marriage does not appear to be widely known, if at all.”

“While I was at college, I met my husband.  We laughed that his family’s farm was only three miles from mine, but that we had to go to Guelph to meet. Of course he was from south of the swamps, while I was from the north side…”  One of the Elders made a side comment to another about the cross swamp feuds.  “Jones was determined to become a cop but ended up recruited by CSIS.  We married quietly at the start of my second year of college with only my grandparents and his mother in attendance.  The records were deep-sixed at the St. David’s Presbyterian Church in Guelph. When I moved back here with my grandmother, Jones was posted to another city in an undercover role and I was pregnant.  For the safety of all, I kept my name and continued to portray myself as a single woman who had made a mistake.  John was born early and there were obvious issues from the start.  The Hospital for Sick Children has provided enormous support.  The Province has wanted him institutionalized from the get-go.  I have refused and Jones position has ensured that each request has been quashed.  The late Police Chief in particular spent a huge amount of time hassling us and trying to get John committed.  John has a number of issues that mark him as mild on the autism spectrum and several other physical developmental delays.  However, he is fairly social and cognitively is very bright. He simply requires more attention and focused direction than can be given him in the current educational climate, so his doctors felt that home education would be the wisest option to ensure that he would have the most opportunities.  He is not however dangerous or in any way mentally unstable.  His medications are not psychotropic in nature.  He would not be a danger to the community. His doctors could not foresee any reason why, in the fullness of time, he would not be able to be apprenticed, hold down a full time job, marry and have a family of his own.”

“Thank you for the completeness of your answer,” said one of the Elders from West Kootenai.

The talks continued with individual elders and the community leaders but finally all sides began to feel that the move was in the right direction.  Within days, the teams were in numbering boards and logs at the farm.
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 19, 2014, 05:05:00 AM
Chapter 11 – At the station…

“I am not sure that any of us actually thought of the process of how we were going to get from CoKL to Rexford.  I mean we knew we were going by train but the actually getting of A to B and what it would entail had not been a part of our thoughts.  My mother was far more concerned about how to get everything packed.  You know we had one rail car of furniture and good.  A second of farm equipment and then a car and a half of livestock,” John told the Committee.  “Certainly we had not contemplated the hows of our getting out of the Occupied Province of Ontario.  Or the fact that most people would not be willing to see us leave with our processions, let alone our lives.  This had always been our home.  We were not used to thinking of it as hostile territory. It was a big paradigm shift.”

*****
Getting on to the train had not been pleasant.  The family had been brought into town with the last convoy of trucks from their farm.  As they got out at the station, they saw that a second platform had been built in the parking lot at Jug City.  They saw that a small crowd had gathered just beyond the platform and beyond that the burned out shell of the Agri-Services store.  As they went to get on the train, a woman with bound arms was pulled out of the crowd.  Head shaved and badly beaten, Jan barely recognized Mary. Around her neck was a sign saying “I sold food to Relocators”.  Several men pushed Mary to the ground in front of Jan and spat on her.  Within seconds the MPs had surrounded the crowd forcing them back as vitriolic hate-filled words word were screamed out.

Rocks, bottles and eggs began to fly. Grandma Jones moved as fast as she could to shepherd the boys onto the train.  John had begun to shake and David looked terrified.

“Grandma,” he whispered in shock.  “My Scout leader was in that group.”

Grandma Jones was only glad that he had missed the blonde lady on the end.  God help her, Gillian had thrown rocks at her own child…

 A soldier helped Jan lift Mary onto the train. As bottles and eggs hit the railway car, the doors to the car were closed.

The family was assigned one end of a Via Rail carriage, where the seats folded into beds.  With Grandma Jones soothing the frightened boys, Jan got Mary into a seat and cut the bindings on her arms.  Leaning over to kiss John, she pulled out her medical bag.  Jan cleaned the cuts and applied Preparation-H to Mary’s bruises.  The whole time Mary quietly sobbed.  Jan got her to drink some water and covered her with a blanket.  The soldier came back to check on her.

“I’m sorry Mam but we don’t have a doctor on the train.  Is she going to be okay?” he asked.

“Physically I think she’ll be okay but mentally we’ll have to see.  She’s been pretty badly beaten and not just this once. I won’t know the extent of her injuries until I can get her fully cleaned up.  Her fiancé pulled out earlier this week – one of the Yoder boys.  They are settling two farms over from us.  Her father died two years ago and her mother moved to Toronto to live with her sister but I don’t have any contact information for her. So, we’ll take her with us.  Soldier… do you know where my husband is?”

“About your husband, I have no knowledge. Above my pay grade.  About the girl, I’ll see if we can find her some clothes and there is a shower room at the top of the car.  Do you want some help getting her there?  I’ll get her accompanying you cleared.  Obviously we can’t leave her here,” said the soldier.  “Now the curtains have to be pulled down and lights will be turned off in the car for your safety once we get moving.  We recommend that you leave the blinds closed for the next while as we will be moving through hostile territory and these passenger cars have come under attack on previous runs.  It is just your family on this run to Lindsay.  There we will be picking up the cars for another family from the Cambray area.  Do you know the Codys?”

The soldier smiled.  “Supposedly,” he confided. “I heard tell that they are related to Wild Bill Cody… him who had the Wild West Show.”

Jan shook her head.  “I know of the Codys but never met any of them.  They are over in the Linden Valley, technically Woodville, and look to Little Britain and Lindsay for supplies.  I think they mostly grew feed corn.  Where are they headed? ”

The soldier smiled.  “I gather, he said, “they are headed to family who farm on the Milk River on the Canada-US border. 

Jan nodded then looked at Mary.  “I need to get her to the shower.  Can you help?”

The soldier helped Jan get Mary down the hall to the shower room.  Then he ran off to get a spare pair of fatigues.  In the shower room, Jan striped an uncooperative and bawling girl of her torn and shredded clothes.

“Mary,” said Jan.  “Look at me.  Did they rape you?”

“Not quite,” came the reply. “Well.. yes” she amended quietly.

“Not quite?  What does that mean?” asked Jan.

“They used a gun… they put it in… the threatened to pull the trigger… then their hands were everywhere…” started Mary before breaking down and crying again. “Then they started.  They thought the old men should have fun first.  Only they couldn’t you know but they touched me… men I knew… friends of my father’s and grandfather’s… it was...” she shuddered and began to shake.

‘Yuck! Yuck! Double yuck!’ thought Jan, patting the girl.  “Okay honey,” she said. “Let’s get you cleaned up.  You’ll feel a thousand times better just with that much and some clean clothes.”

“… but Jonas isn’t going too…” Mary tried again.

“Mary,” stated Jan as she turned on the water.  “He is not going to hold something like this against you.  He’s going to feel bad enough for not having been there to protect you.  Now in you go.  Here is the soap and a wash cloth.”

As Mary cleaned herself up and tried to scrub off the feeling of being touched by men she had known and always trusted.  She also knew that she was lucky to be alive.  She wasn’t sure about the two boys she had worked with.  Both had been taken, along with her, two days ago from the feed store before it had been torched.  She went to wash her hair and at the feel of her shorn head she began to cry again.

“Mary,” said Jan as she handed her a towel.  “The soldier is going to want to ask you questions about what happened.”

“Good,” the girl answered.  “Did they also get Kyle and Eggie free?”

“They took the boys too?”

“Oh yeah!” came the answer from inside a camo shirt.  “And Mr. Wallis too.  I don’t like the old man and he could be right mean, but he’s way too old to get beat on the way he was.  He didn’t sell food to any Relocators, but he did tell us to sell them feed so their animals wouldn’t starve.  He thought that the animals should all be kept here and if we didn’t feed them they wouldn’t be healthy for those who stayed. I saw Dr. P in one of their interrogation rooms.  Supposedly he had continued to treat his patients even if they was Relocators.  He said he swore an oath but The Council don’t see it that way.”

“The Town Council made that decision?” Jan asked.

“Yeah. I was pulled in front of them like they was some judge and jury.  They was the ones who ordered this. Said I was a collab… a collaba something…”

“A collaborator?” Jan asked.

Mary nodded.  “Then they ordered that my head should be shaved and I should be whipped at the cenotaph.  They made me walk barefoot down Colburne Street and then tied my hands to the flag pole and… they pulled my shirt and bra off and whipped me… They left me there exposed… then when the train came they tied my arms and made me walk down here.  I don’t know what I’m going to do…” She dissolved in tears again.

“We are going to take you with us, Mary,” said Jan. 

Jan got Mary back to their seats.  The soldier had turned one into a bed for her and she climbed in stiffly and curled up.

Jan went back down the car to talk to the soldier.

“There were a couple of things that she said that stood out,” said Jan.  “The first is that apparently the Village Council apparently has decided that they are judge, jury and executioner. Council is made up of what used to be Church elders and Community leaders, and it has a long history of catering to the old families and making power grabs. I suspect that, because she has no family here, Mary was an easy target to use as an example of what would happen if you didn’t obey them.  And with no one to defend or protect her, they went to town on her.  She has been raped, marched through town and was tied to the flag pole at the cenotaph, stripped and publicly flogged.  You might want to ask how your patrols missed this happening.

“Secondly, she was not taken alone.  Mr. Wallis, the Agricultural rep, was also beaten for permitting the sale of animal feed to Relocators on the premise that their animals should not be permitted to leave the Province.  So was a local doctor.  Dr. Pecher is very elderly.  Also, two teenaged boys were also seized and she is worried that they may actually have killed them.  I know that neither of their families are Relocators, but we will take them if you can find them and need to get them out of town.  We’ll take in Dr. Pecher too.  Mr. Wallis will be fine he has a lot of family here round and they are not going to be happy about his treatment.  Families tend to get personal about things around here and vendettas are easy to start and hard to stop.”

The soldier headed for his sergeant to report.  Jan put her head back for a moment, wishing for sleep , but instead went to see how the boys were.  Mrs. Jones had got them settled and dozing on the benches.  She got out one of their cooler bags and handed Jan a bottle of water.

“Well girl” she said. “You sure have some way of collecting waifs and strays and enlarging this here family.  That Dr. P is a fine man and he’ll be a good addition to the community.  Don’t know those boys but of course I know of the families and fine workers the lot of them.”

Jan smiled at her.

A half-hour later, a badly beaten boy and an old man were helped onto the train.  A second boy, laid out on a stretcher, was carried on board. All three were dazed and confused.

“We found them locked in the basement of the United Church,” said the soldier.  “Bit of a gun battle to get them out.  The medic on a quick check said they’d all be okay but him…” and he pointed at Kyle “…has taken some pretty nasty kicks to his lower limbs.  It will be a while before he is up and marching happily.”

Ten minutes after another soldier appeared with a couple of bags for the boys.  He then went and talked to the old man.

“Dr. Pecher,” he asked quietly.  “I am sorry but your home and office have been torched.  As we went to leave, a woman came up to one of the guards and handed him a bag and slipped back into the dark. We’re still trying to figure out how she slipped through our perimeter…  Anyways, it has some photo albums and some small items that someone thought you would want. She included a letter.  I am sorry I was not able to get more.  We will replace your medical kit if you want one.”

“Thank you son, and I’ll take you up on the offer of a medical bag,” said Dr. Pecher and put his head back, tears leaking from his closed eyes.  Then he sat-up, blew his nose, and looked Jan in the face.

“So young lady,” he said.  “Looks like I am joining you after all.  Where are we headed?”

He then saw Mrs. Jones and smiled.  To her dismay, Jan saw Mrs. Jones blush.  ‘Oh great,” she thought, “how do I explain to my husband that his mother and the doctor are eyeing each other…’ Then she smiled to herself. ‘Why not... We all deserve some happiness.’


*****
“My grandmother married Dr. Pecher the next spring,” John said.  “They had another ten years together before he died at the age of ninety.  Then amazingly, at the age of 75, my grandmother married for a third time.  Said she liked doing for someone and she wanted her own home.  She died at the age of 86-years.  She was a good woman and well liked.” 

Behind him the historians scribbled like mad.
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 19, 2014, 05:06:26 AM
Chapter 12 – Tracks south…

The train began to move out shortly thereafter. Jan was surprised at the smoothness and hoped that the livestock were travelling well.  She wasn’t entirely sure of the route, but figured that they would be headed to Windsor and then across.  But, they hadn’t even cleared town when the passenger coach came under small arms fire.  Via Rail coaches were really not designed to be bullet proof and they were lucky no one was hit.  She could hear fire being returned and then a boom as the Salvation Army thrift store and distribution center took a direct hit.  Even behind the curtains, Jan could see that the resulting explosion was way too big for only old clothes to have been stored there.

“So that’s what was there,” said Dr. P.  Jan looked over him.  The dark bruise on his jaw was spreading, so she pulled out the Preparation-H and applied it.  “Well I knew they had taken the fertilizer from the Agri-Co and had taken it somewhere.  It’s what saved that blamed fool Wallis.  They were really going to roast him until he offered it up. I should really go check on the boys.”

“Both are breathing evenly and asleep, Dr. P.” advised Jan.

“In that case,” said the doctor. “Let’s see what my parting gift bag contains.”

Jan laughed.  ‘One could always count on the doctor to find the bright side,’ she thought.

He picked up the bag and opened it carefully.  Inside were three photo albums – one of his grandparents, parents and childhood and two of his married life and kids. Wrapped in napkins were a mortar and pestle that had been his great-grandfather’s; an old butter mold with a pear at the bottom – it had been his great-grandmother’s; a carved reindeer and sled made for him in his childhood by a DP who had worked on his father’s farm; his stethoscope given to him when he graduated from medical school; the gun his father had taken off a German SS officer in WWII; two hankies with his mother’s initials embroidered in the corner; and a small jewelry box containing his mothers and wife’s wedding rings and his father’s medals.  There was a file with all his personal ID papers.  He looked up at Jan his eyes and cheeks wet.

“Oh my,” he said. Pulling out his handkerchief he wiped his eyes and blew his nose. “I figured these were all gone.  I was resolved to it but I sure am glad to have them.”

He pulled out the letter, read it and handed it to Jan.

Dear Dr. P,

I saw them pull you from your car at that roadblock and figured there’d only be a short window to get anything from your house.  Hope I got what was most special.  Its stuff you told me about over the years and I figured if you survived them, you’d want it.  I’ll tell you so you know that I was the one that burnt your house down.  They was talking about coming back for your files and using them to ensure cooperation.  I don’t figure that it is any of their danged business what is in anyone’s medical files so the lot will have go.  I used gasoline in there. Poured it in each drawer, so it burned really well.  If the Army comes I’ll give your bag to one of the soldiers.  Thank you for all you did for me and mine.

Best respects, Dee

The doctor smiled and gave a small laugh. 

“She’s a pistol that girl!” said the doctor.  “I delivered all four of her babies.  One back when she was a teenager…  Fought her daddy on that one…  Once I was sure what she really wanted, I helped her get the baby adopted to a good family.  She waited until she married to have the other three.

“We should be coming into Lindsay soon” said Jan. The train barely slowed to take on the other family and attach their cars to the train. 

The Codys looked as rode hard and hung-up wet as she was sure her own family did.  An extended family, there were two sets of grandparents, six other adults and twenty children from teenagers to toddlers. One teenaged boy on crutches and another had a broken arm.  They went as sat with Eggie and looked at Kyle on his stretcher.  Jan could only wonder at the boys as one of the Cody’s said to Eggie:

“You catch Kyle with your sister or sumpting?” That Kyle was moon-eyed over Eggie’s sister Tanya was an open secret.  That Eggie thought 15-year old Tanya was too young to date was equally well known. The boys all laughed and settled down to exchange stories.

Jan realized that she knew Lynn Cody as one of the tellers at the BMO in Fenelon.  It was just that she had thought her last name was Naylor.  Turned out that was her maiden name, and she’d been married to Jim Cody for twenty years and had eight kids – six of whom were teens!  Jim’s younger brother Andy Cody was married to Lisa James and they had six kids – four teens in that house.  Mary Cody was divorced and had moved back home with her four – three teens and an unexpected three year old.  Sam Cody was widowed and had two little girls, aged two and four.  Their mother had died in a car accident the previous winter and he had been fighting his in-laws for custody, a fight that had become extremely bitter once they realized that the Codys were being relocated.  Matthew and Gail Cody were the parents and Martin and Jackie Cody were his brother and sister-in-law. The family had been full to bursting in their broken down old brick house and bluntly the opportunity the relocate had been a golden one for them. 

They all settled down in their car and it rumbled out of town towards Ponty Pool and Cobourg.  Jan had been told that they were trying to get everything to a secured rail yard at Cobourg before 7pm.  Jan had wanted to know as the cows would have to be milked even if the milk would have to be thrown away.  Jan watched as the boys settled into a solid group of nine – Kyle laid out, Eggie and the Cody cousins Matt, Martin, Jamie, Tom, Mark, Eric and Tyler. Two seats down the girls collected – the two sets of twins Sama and Andrea, Lydie and Gail, and Sally. Heather went and sat with Mary and the two talked quietly. The three Cody middle boys Gordie, Joe and Drew gathered around David and John. The littles played on the floor between the rows – Agnes, Samuel and Ginger.  The noise was incredible and Jan could not remember the last time she had seen so many kids playing so well together.  It bode well for the trip.

While the Cody couples all got themselves settled at the far end of the car, Jan and Grandma Jones got things sorted out at their end. Jan pulled out bedrolls and extra blankets.  She then found the cooler bag with their dinner in it and wondered how she was going to feed three more.  “Loaves and fishes,’ she thought.

It was this separation that proved to be lifesaving.  As they cleared the old iron railway bridge south of Lindsay, there was an explosion at the far end of the car. Jan and Grandma Jones had already been bending down.  Dr. P was laid out on one of the berths.  The kids all hit the deck, but the adult Codys were all killed instantly.  The carnage was horrific and while the train kept going as gunfire erupted from both sides.

She ran down the car and grabbed the littles off the floor and tossing them to sisters and cousins and herding everyone towards the back of the car as soldiers came pouring in.  All the while, children were yelling and screaming in fear as the world continued exploding around them.

“Quiet!” ordered Jan.  “Quiet! Let the soldiers do their work.  Everyone down below window level.”

Another burst of gunfire blew out two more windows and the cool night air poured in, chilling those already shocked with terror and exhaustion.  Jan grabbed the few blankets she could see and the older kids wrapped up the littles and the injured.  Huddled under a window, Grandma Jones held John and David.  Beside them Samuel, who held tightly to his car, would not let it or his sister Heather go.

Heather looked over at Jan.  “What happens now?” she asked helplessly and shocked.

Jan looked around at the twenty-five children in front of her and said simply. “You stay with me.  We’ll find a way.”
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 19, 2014, 05:08:25 AM
Chapter 13 – Two dozen plus her own…

“Are you telling us that your mother took in all of those children?” asked Congressman Kennedy from Massachusetts.

“She took them all in without knowing where we were going or how it would all come together,” said John with considerable pride.  “You all used to have a program called ‘No Child Left Behind’… My mother lived it.  She truly believed that children were a gift from God that was to be cherished and supported.  It was just until then, all she’d had was me.”


*****
It took almost an hour to clear the way forward.  Until then there was nowhere for them to move to, so they all stayed where they were during the half hour trip to Cobourg.  A screen of soldiers blocked their view of the dead at the other end.  One by one, Jan and Mrs. Jones shook the children clear of glass and cleaned as they best they could the small cuts while Dr. P attempted to see if there were any more significant injuries.  It was dark and cold, and the crying, emotionally wrung-out children clung to one another.  They were all exhausted, very chilled and heart sick by the time they arrived at the depot.  There they were led off the train and into one of the barracks.

“Mrs. Jones?” asked Jan. “Can you and Dr. P watch the children, while the medic checks them while I go check the livestock?”

They nodded and Jan went and spoke with the older children.  Selfishly Jan hoped that the livestock had all survived.  She suspected that the goal was to stop the train and steal the livestock so their attackers were not aiming for those cars.  More than ever, their lives were now going to depend on those animals.  Matt and Jamie chose to go with her to deal with their family’s livestock.  Sama and Andrea came to deal with the milking. 

The cattle were all fine and with a soldier to guard the girls while they milked the eight cows, Jan and the boys left to go to the next car.  One of the quarter horses had caught a piece of shrapnel in its left flank but that was easily removed, cleaned and patched-up.  They were fed and watered and settled quickly.  The third car was a bit of a mess.  There were three hens that had been hit.  Matt dispatched them quickly and Jamie ran them back to the barrack to be cooked up for dinner.  They left them with Heather.  She and Mary quickly plucked and gutted them before chopping them up to stir-fry and the into the soup pot.  With thirty people to feed, three hens wouldn’t go far.

One of the other tragedies was that one of the pigs had been hit across the neck by shrapnel.  The only luck was that he had fallen snot down and bled out.  A quick talk with the Sargent indicated that they would be here for 24-hours while new passenger rail cars were obtained.  With the help of two soldiers, they hoisted the pig outside the barrack and cut him so that he finished the bleed out properly.  Jan was able to access her canning jars.  Martin Cody had been apprenticing as a butcher, so Jan let him handle the cutting while she and the girls prepared to can as much as they could.  Food simply could not be wasted.  She was annoyed that they would not be able to render the fat, but in talking with the depot cook, he was willing to trade butter for the leaf fat and fatback on a pound per pound basis.  So Jan ended up with 7 ½ lbs of butter.  She clarified it to ghee and canned it too.  It was a long 24-hours in getting it all done but as a first team project, Jan figured that they could not have come up with anything better.

During that time she met twice with the Relocation Coordinator.  First when they had buried the Codys, and then when they had met to discuss the children’s future. The Codys out west were unable and unwilling to take on twenty children... Lord knew the idea was daunting.  They’d take the boys on as unpaid field hands but would take none of the girls or littles.  Jan decided that the older children needed to involved making the decision, so she and the Coordinator met with them.

“Okay listen up all of you,” said Jan rising her voice only slightly over the babble.  “This is Major Johnston who is in charge of the Relocation venture for this area.  You’ve already met him when he came to pay his condolences. Now he has talked to your cousins out in Milk River.  Major…”

Jan turned the floor over to him.

“Okay here’s where things stand.  Option 1 - Mrs. McConnell has offered to keep you all.  Option 2 – Your cousins are willing to take the seven boys on to work as field hands in exchange for room and board. But they won’t take the girls or the small children who can either go with Mrs. McConnell or go to an orphanage.  Option 3 – you all go to an orphanage.  I would like to add a fourth option for those seventeen and older.  Enlistment in the military is an option and we would welcome you.

“Now Mrs. McConnell has made it very clear to me that you all are old enough and have been through enough to have an input into your lives.  I am sorry to rush you but decisions need to be made quickly as it impacts which way the train will head.”

The children broke off into family groups.  Then Matt, Jamie and Heather spoke together before Matt turned to the Major.

“For the time being, we think that going with the McConnells will be the best solution.  We will take all the things our parents packed with us and add our livestock to theirs.  Our only concern is that it is unlikely that the McConnell’s house will be big enough to house us all plus the other four kids that Mrs. McConnell has adopted in the past two weeks as a result of this military action.  Is there someone who can help with that?  Also Heather and I want to go into the military, myself as a soldier and Heather as a nurse.  We can’t do it until our siblings are settled so we would like to defer enlistment for a year.  Can that be done?”

Jan smiled a big smile and was pleased to see the kids thinking ahead that way.

The Major was even more pleased.  There a few more boys in that group who would make fine soldiers and he intended to grab them while he could.

Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 19, 2014, 05:15:18 AM
Chapter 14 – A growing family…

“I can remember,” John told the Committee, “Sitting with my mother at the long table in the barracks that night. It was an enormous decision that she made.  With time I can see that there were no other options in her mind but at the time I wasn’t happy.  She was my mother and I was used to having her to myself.”


*****
“Are all those kids really going to come and live at the house with Daddy and Grandma?” John asked with the look of a kid whose whole world had gone through the blender and he had no idea where anything stood any more.

“I hope so.  What do you think?” she asked.

“Well I don’t really want them all to come, but I guess that they are. Right?” he said with hopeful resignation.  When Jan nodded, he continued, “Well then I’ve got two thoughts.  It’s going to be really crowded. So we need to have some big bedrooms added on.  Can we just do two – one for boys and one for girls?” he suggested.

“That’s a good idea but maybe we’ll do a boys, a girls, one for the littles, one for Grandma, and also have two rooms for Dr. P.”

“Why does Dr. P get two rooms?”

“Well he needs a bedroom and an office to see patients in,” said Jan.

“Can’t he share a room with Grandma?  They keep holding hands and looking goofy at each other.”

Jan wanted to laugh. “Ummm… well… how about if they get married they can share a room, but not until then. So what was your other thought?” 

John looked at her seriously.  “Where did they take Daddy?”

Jan turned and put out her arms to hug him, but he stood back, waiting for her answer. Jan’s arms dropped.

“I don’t know John.  Every time I ask they refer it to someone else or say above my pay grade. But I miss him desperately.  At least before he would call us, this time he doesn’t seem to be able to and now we don’t have a phone.  At least he knows where we are going. I can only pray that he will be able to join us soon. Besides,” Jan looked at him and smiled. “We have a whole lot more kids now and I want help with the dishes!”

John smiled. “What are you writing about?” he asked pointing at her notebook.

“Well,” she said.  “I figured that I had better start recording information on the kids. I need to know things like birthdays and allergies and stuff like that.”

“Am I going to be in there?” he asked.

Quickly she drew a five column chart.  “You bet! I need to know their names, ages, dates of birth what grade they are in in school and what their work co-ops were.  You know honey, those work co-ops were just about the only thing I agreed with the school board on.  Made the kids able to work in our community rather than having them all go to Toronto to work in offices and have no skills.  You know John.  No system is ever entirely wrong.  You can hate the system but admire aspects of it.  The key is to identify and replicate the good without falling prey to the bad.  Apprenticeships are really good.” So she wrote:


Name           Age   Date of Birth   Schooling   Work/Apprenticeship
Matt Cody           19   Sept 12           Finished   Farming… interested in being a soldier
Jamie Cody   18   Jan 4                   Finished   Farming
Heather Harris   18   Mar 5           Finished   Nurse’s Aid… interested in being a military nurse. 
Eric Harris           17   May 11           Grade 12   Auto mechanics co-op
Eggie Roberts   17   Apr 23           Grade 12   Agri-Co co-op, chicken farming
Mary Taylor   17   Aug 3           Grade 12   Agri-Co co-op, accounting co-op
Kyle Ball           17   June 15           Grade 12   Agri-Co co-op, pig farming
Martin Cody   17   Oct 12           Grade 12   Butcher co-op
Tom Cody           16   Apr 18           Grade 11   Grocery store co-op
Sama Cody (twin)  15   June 6           Grade 10   Fenelon Dairy co-op
Andrea Cody (twin)15   June 6           Grade 10   Fenelon Dairy co-op
Mark Cody           15   Sept 25           Grade 10   Handley’s, lumber yard co-op
Tyler Harris   15   Jan 21           Grade 10   Mechanical co-op @locks
Lydie Cody (twin)14   Aug 27           Grade 9   Bakery co-op
Gail Cody (twin)    14   Aug 27           Grade 9   Farming co-op
Erin Cody           14   Oct 31           Grade 9   Tailoring co-op
John McConnell   12   Apr 2                   Grade 7   
David McDonald   12   May 24           Grade 7   
Sally Cody           10   June 28           Grade 5   
Gordie Cody   10   Nov 9           Grade 5   
Drew Cody             8   Jul 15           Grade 3   
Joe Cody             8   Feb 22           Grade 3   
Agnes Cody     4   June 17           JK   
Samuel Harris     3   May 26      
Ginger Cody     2   Sept 2      

John kept watching. “Now I’m going to colour coded the kids by family.  Jim & Lynn Cody’s kids were blue. Andy & Lisa Cody’s kids were yellow.  Mary Cody’s kids were pink and Sam Cody’s kids were purple. Now, why don’t you go play with David.  I need to have a little chat with Heather.”

Looking around she saw the girl and went over and joined her.  Heather had a sleeping Samuel wrapped up in her arms.  Both had been crying.

“Do you want me to put him down on the bed for you?” Jan asked quietly.

Heather shook her head.  “He’ll only start crying again.  He’s not too heavy.  What’s up?”

“I’ve just been writing you all in my book to try and keep everyone straight.  I don’t have your father’s name or the name of the girls’ mother…”

“Oh!” said Heather.  “Well my dad is Eric Harris, Sr.  But he has remarried and has two children with his next wife.  Just to be confusing those kids are Eric and Jane.  The other Eric is three months younger than Samuel.  My parents had been separated for a couple years and decided to give it another try.  It was a disaster, and then my dad met this other woman and left.  Dad didn’t know that Mom was pregnant until she was six months along.  She didn’t tell him.  He was sorry about it after but she was really mad and hurt.  We haven’t seen him since he left.  He tried but Grandpa was pretty angry too and ran him off a bunch of times. I know that Dad and… I think her name was Kathy.  Mom always called her ‘that woman” with a big heap of scorn.  Now the little girls’ mother was Aunt Marie.  She was pretty and fun but her parents were really nasty.  They hated Uncle Sam.  Whatever you do don’t let them take the girls. Aunt Marie told us never to let ourselves be alone around her daddy as he liked little girls.”

Jan filed that little bit of information away under ‘oh yuck’.  Just then Agnes walked up.

“You can’t be my Mommy,” announced the girl. “You can’t be an auntie either.”

“Why not?” asked Jan.

“Because they all die.”

“Well then why don’t you call me Tante Jan,” said Jan.

Agnes looked at her consideringly and finally nodded her ascent.

“Why did you choose that title?” asked Heather.

“Do you know where we are going?” asked Jan.

“Somewhere in Montana,” replied Heather.

“We are going to Rexford.  It has a large Amish community and we are going there because I ran a non-mechanized farm at the north end of Fenelon Township.  While we are obviously not Amish, the German language is spoken and there is also a formality to the way that they live.  Children do not call adults by their first name.  It’s rude and disrespectful.  Calling me Aunt or Tante would be a politeness. While calling me Mrs. McConnell is overly formal. 

“Now I need to say this to you.  I have no idea how long it will take us to get to Montana or how things will come together when we get there.  Currently my husband is missing and I have adopted 23 young people, his mother and an old man in the fifteen days since he has been gone.  But I do promise you this.  You will all have a home with us until you choose to leave. You and the older kids are almost adults so I will not try to be your parents but I will give you a safe harbour to finish off being teens and help guide you where you want to go. But I do promise to raise Samuel and the other younger children.  If you are not happy with things you must come and speak with us.  I cannot fix or resolve anything I don’t know about.  Now Samuel is solidly asleep.  I will put him on the cot next to you so that you can lie down to.  Sleep while you can.”

Jan went back and finished filling in her chart and then started an individual page for each child. Ten-year old Sally then joined her and started talking.  Jan figured that the book would be full by the time they reached Rexford.

*****
“I have that book here,” John told the Committee.  He could hear the historians buzzing behind him.  He handed it to an aide who took it forward to the Committee.  He could see them handling the fragile pages and looking at faded writing.  “That is the original book. It was started before we ever left Ontario.  My mother wrote the daily news and weather… what happened to the livestock and crops… which neighbours she saw or shopping she did… My mother started a new one several times year.  She noted our illnesses and accomplishments, our apprenticeships, marriages and family details.  She kept them for every year from the train trip until her death.  She died at the age of ninety.  The archive in Rexford has the other volumes.  There are more than two hundred copy books in total.  As they had their own families my sisters and several of my brothers kept them too.  I gather some of the grandchildren have also kept the tradition.  When these girls marry, I will give them each a note book as their wedding gift.”
The girls blushed and lowered their eyes. The Congressmen looked at each other.  They had never heard of such a thing. 
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 20, 2014, 11:05:31 PM
Chapter 15 – Rolling again…


When they got on the train the next day, they were no longer in a passenger car.  They were now being transported in a modified troop car.  It was modified to have a kitchen at one end and bunks stacked four high at the other.  Jan and Mrs Jones promptly started to hang curtains for a girls’ side and a boys’ side.  There were fifteen boys and Dr. P on one side and 10 girls with Jan and Grandma Jones on the other.  Although on the first nap Agnes, Samuel and Ginger all piled onto one bunk like a litter of puppies and slept together.  Heather remarked that it was just like home and then burst into tears.  She and Mary went off to talk together.

In the middle of the car were two big tables with enough bench space for them all.  At the other end was a kitchen area with a big wood stove for cooking and eating.  It wasn’t pretty but it was insulated and they were warm.  The only problem was that there were no windows but then even if there had been they would have been blacked out for safety.  They had been told that they would be going through Toronto at night.  The rail lines ran right through the downtown core and there were safety concerns with all the bridges.  The train was coupled with more cars with more families from other areas headed west.  Jan knew they were there, but did not meet them.  Several times a day, she and the older kid would make the dash between cars to check the livestock.  The children all seem to be holding up as well as could be expected.  As they worked through their grief, several times a day someone would dissolve in tears and need hugs and pats to get them back on track.

Milk was needed for the younger children so Sama and Andrea were milking twice a day.  The milk was all being strained, boiled and served as hot chocolate or cooked into cereals.  Anything left was given to the pigs.  It was a huge waste but conditions were just too unsanitary to be able to drink it cold or keep it.

The chickens were laying but the numbers were way down due to stress, cold and lack of light.  There were usually enough eggs so that every other day everyone could have one boiled with enough to bake some treats with.  One of the chickens had turned cannibal and so she ended up in the pot before she could teach the others.  The pigs were happy to take care of the very few scraps that made it off the table.

One of the big challenges turned out to be related to the soldiers that were posted to their car.  There were always two on duty in the car at any time.  Guard duty went always to the youngest and the young men clearly enjoyed being with people their own age, especially the girls.  While most of the Cody girls were modest in dress and Mary being engaged to an Amish boy was naturally plain in her dress for all she wore fatigues, it turned out to be Heather that was a problem.  Raised in the city by a mother who encouraged her to “dress with the times”, Heather’s tops were too tight, too low cut and too short. Her jeans were too tight and too low. She flirted outrageously with the soldiers who were equally lonely and lapping up her attention.  Finally Jan had to step in.

“I realize that you are bored beyond all comprehension and that you see chatting with these young men as a way to relieve the boredom but I need to point a few things out.  (1) I am not your mother and I am not trying to replace her, so count that come back off your list. (2) You behaviour threatens the careers of these young men because sooner or later they are going to reach for what you are advertising and you are going to say they attacked you and their careers will be over. This is the real world, not high school, and they will be forever destroyed. (3) You claim you want a military career, well you are on trial here, and right now you won’t be getting in based on your behaviour. (4) Your behaviour threatens the safety of the group because while you are distracting the soldiers they are not paying attention to our safety.  If you are looking for something to do, I would suggest that you take your career aspirations over to Dr. P and start talking and learn as much as you can from him.  He is the doctor going into our new community, and play it right, and you could spend a year gaining experience as his nurse before going into the Army.”

Heather opened her mouth. Jan put up a hand. “Think it through,” she said. “Now go and dress in something that doesn’t look like your marketing your wares at Church & Isabella.”

Heather flounced off looking for sympathy from Mary.  With the bruises still vivid on her faces, Mary was not at all sympathetic.

“Grow up!” she stated. “This is a war.  We are being forcibly relocated. I was raped. A whole lot of us have been beaten by people we knew and trusted.  Your family was killed. Mine are who knows where. We are being taken in by a woman we don’t know, who went from having a special needs twelve year old to twenty-five kids and two old folks in the space of two weeks, and her husband is missing. And you… you are treating this like some school trip to summer camp! Aghhhg!”  Mary stomped off.

Eric hobbled up on his crutches and slung an arm over her shoulder.  “She’s right Sis.  They both are.  Now come spend some time with Tyler, and Samuel and me.  We need some family time.  Just us four.  We need to talk some hard truths for us and decide where we go from here.”

He led her over to a bunk where the other two boys were.  Tyler was playing trucks with Samuel.

“Okay,” started Eric.  “Harris family conference and game plan time.  So we decided that we are going to Rexford with the McConnells and our cousins and the others.  Heather has already said that she wants to become a military nurse but is going to defer for a year to get us settled.  As Tante Jan correctly pointed out Heather would be smart to volunteer to be Dr. P’s nurse. So that is her taken care of.

“I’d say for me that school is done.  Don’t look at me like that Hez – I was never a good student.  Somewhere in Rexford is going to be an agricultural implements repair operation and I am going to go looking for that.  That old guy next door to our place, Mr. Van der Lipp, gave me the name of an old guy he knew in Rexford.  He’s Amish too and hopefully he’ll set me up with someone in their Colony.

“Tyler needs to get back to school.  He’s book smart as well as mechanically inclined.  It will also give us more social contacts in the community beyond who we meet through the McConnells and the Army.  At least we’re lucky in that we know a lot of the Amish families who are moving there. But there are going to be differences between the two Colonies and we don’t want to become the nails that need to be hammered between the two while they sort out those differences.

“Also Tante Jan pointed out to Hez something that I hadn’t thought about and that is that like it or not Jan will become Samuel’s mother.  We can hate it all we want because we know who his mother is, but reality is that Mom and Dad are gone and he needs the security of parents just like we did at his age.  So we need to be prepared for that and be glad that it is someone decent like her and that he didn’t get packed off to an orphanage, adopted out and lost to us.  Thoughts?”

Tyler looked up at them.  “I miss Mom & Dad but I sure am glad we are not going to be slave labour at the cousins.  Remember what it was like on vacation there.  We did all the work while they sat around and issued orders.  I was talking to the Army Corps of Engineer guys when they were laying the tracks at the bottom of our farm about the type of work they did and I am really interested in learning more.  So I would say long term I’m for the Army too but we’ll see how it goes.”

“I am going to get changed in a second,” said Heather.  “I’ve had a chance to think over what Tante Jan said and I think I was just trying act like I would have if everything was normal and Mom was here.  But you know Grandpa wasn’t too happy about how I was dressing and behaving.  I just didn’t think that anyone else saw it as an issue and he was just being an old grump.  But I’m thinking that Grandpa might have been right and it was Mom who was wrong to encourage me.  Tante Jan was really direct in saying why it was an issue and I think it bodes well for us all in the future if she can discipline that way.  I am sure a lot less concerned about Samuel than I was.  I couldn’t see how we could all go off and leave him with her.  Even if I were to not go into the Army and was to marry in a year or two, he needs stability now and I’m glad she is willing to give it.  Same with Aggie and Ginger.  Those two haven’t had a stable place to live since Aunt Marie died.  I did tell Tante Jan about Aunt Marie’s daddy so I don’t think she would let them go there.  The other cousins, the middle ones all need support and guidance too.  In going with the McConnells at least we are able to stay together.”

Samuel looked up.  “Are Mommy and Daddy in Heaven with Aunt Marie?”

Eric looked at him and said “Yes.”

“Good,” said Samuel.  “Then there is someone there to show them around.”

The older three looked at each other and tried not to grin and failed.  “I’m off to change and to talk to Dr. P.,” said Heather.  “If you have a moment you two should each talk to Tante Jan about your plans.  She has this notebook going and she is writing down the important stuff.  So if it is important to you to have her remember, then tell her.  With twenty-five of us, she can’t possibly know otherwise.”

The train kept rolling through Toronto without incident.  It simply did not stop.  The local populations were being kept well back from the rail lines and the ports and with unauthorized incursions resulting in fatal injuries successful attacks were becoming fewer.  No further chances were being taken. With no standing Canadian army and a population well used to being over policed, the general populous was not the issue.  The problems were being incited by the police and by what the teachers were teaching the kids.  Soldiers were not used to viewing the frontline enemy as children and in this war that was who it was turning out to be.

But the train kept rolling out and away from this.  Originally they were to go through Windsor but the lengthy hold keeping trains on the Canadian side of the boarder were turning them into targets, so the train shunted and headed to Buffalo. 

Meanwhile, at the Detroit station a very frustrated Jones waited with his Army guard for a train that did not appear to be coming.  At the last minute, they boarded a train headed for Chicago.
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 20, 2014, 11:08:53 PM
Chapter 16 – Rolling into the future…

As the train rolled through the Southern Ontario night, Jan got the younger kids tucked in. Prayers were said in the safe knowledge that saying them could no longer result in prosecution or persecution. Grandma Jones sat on one side of the wood stove with her knitting.  Sama sat with her learning to knit and pearl... and dropping more than a few.  Dr. P sat on the other side.  He was guiding Heather through a copy of Grey’s Anatomy. He was beaming at the opportunity to teach once more.  Jan sat with a couple of the older kids, notebook out, learning a bit more about them. 

Tom Cody talked in glowing terms of his apprenticeship at the Sobey’s grocery store in Fenelon and at how the manager Mr. Marcus had spent an hour with each kid every week mentoring them on the things that made his store the top Sobey’s in the Province.  He desperately hoped that he would be able to find another mercantile mentor in Rexford.  Jan made a note on his page in her book as he waxed lyrical on the importance of cleanliness and display, the processes of ordering and stocking, and how to price to sell.  Jan was impressed with the amount he had learned.  Mr. Marcus had run an excellent operation, even if it had been too pricey for her to shop there.

Sama and Andrea talked, in the disjointed way that twins often do, about dairy cattle and cheese making.  Sama talked with great fondness of cattle and their care.  She asked if she could manage the dairy part of their herd.  Andrea wanted to manage the other end of the process, caring for the milk and making the cheese and butter.  Both of them loved working in the vegetable gardens too.  They said that Sally was a big help and things just grew for her. 

A light bulb went off for Jan.  Recognizing that with the number of people in the household a different management style would be needed, she asked the kids to give her a list of their skills and favoured activities.

Lydie wrote carefully on the paper that she loved baking and cooking but hated laundry.  Erin noted that she loved clothes – from making them through caring for them, including laundry. In her small suitcase she had brought her button collection. Eggie, whose real name was Nathan, wrote down that he loved chickens and wanted to manage poultry operations.  Kyle wanted to handle the pigs. Gail was in love with horses, especially heavy horses.  Jamie wanted to be involved in the cropping, but hated dealing with livestock. Mark wanted to be involved in rebuilding the buildings and to look after structural repairs and the wood piles.  Tyler wanted to be involved in maintaining the mechanics of the house.

Jan stopped them there.  “You realize,” she said, “that the farm is not mechanized and that there will be no electrics into the house.” The children goggled at her. “Part of the reason that we were chosen to go to Rexford was that we could operate without utilities.  All electrical power at our last place was courtesy of the solar panels we had.  They provided enough power to maintain a small fridge for dairy, a small freezer, the fences and the computer.”

Jamie looked at her with fear of confirmation in his eyes.  “You mean I’m not going to have a tractor to work with?  You mean I’m going to have to work with hoses?”

“Yes,” said Jan.  “Jones and I know how and can teach you.  You’ll love the equipment and the horses are trained for that type of work.
“Now while you keep writing down what you like to do and hate doing, which of you can tell me about the supplies your parents packed and what livestock they brought.  I know that your house did not come and I gather your barn did not either…”

Heather and Matt looked at each other.

“Well… Matt started.

Jamie laughed. “The house was old.  Really old brick and it was falling down.  I mean Grandma needed to have the plumbing fixed and they found that the floors upstairs were rotten and there was no support under the toilet.  Then they found that the second floor wasn’t really attached to the outer frame and then that the outer frame was rotten where it stood on the sills and that the logs that made up the main floor had rotted to the point that some were actually no longer touching the outer walls and… anyways, the contractor called in the inspector and they condemned the house.  We ended up living in the green drive shed with porta potties on each side for the boys and girls and dividing curtains.  The CoKL had already told my grandparents that they had until the first snows came to find a better place for us or they would take us…”

Heather then took over.  “The Americans invading and deciding to relocate us was God sent.  None of us wanted to go to our cousins but it was better than being taken and split up by the Province.  We’d have never seen the littles again.”

Jan nodded and said. “Okay but what did your family pack to bring with them?”

Heather said “Well we had some food.” Heather pulled the Army packing list out of her pocket.  “Not a lot but 200lbs of potatoes, 120lbs of onions, 300lbs of rice, 500lbs of flour and another 500lbs of white sugar. We also have 200lbs of wheat berries and 300lbs of popcorn. Mom also had 200 gallons of white vinegar, 50 gallons of soya sauce, 20 gallons of Diana’s Honey Garlic BBQ sauce, 30 gallons of maple syrup.  There are boxes of spices and such.  We had also just taken delivery of this month’s permitted purchases of salt, yeast, and chocolate. There are cases of tinned meat and canned things like fruit, veg and wild meats.  We have 10 dairy cows and their calves, 10 beef cows including six steers – three of those ready for slaughter, 40 chickens, 3 sows and 14 gilts.  We had to shoot the boar, he was just too mean to transport safely.   We still have two male pigs from this season’s breeding and we are hoping to trade him to someone for increased genetic diversity.  Frankly we are not very well positioned and I am not quite sure how we were going to do it when we got to Alberta.”

Erin then added “I know that Grandma had 600 jars and 14 cases of lids for them.  Each case had 24 boxes of 12 lids.  Some of them were those reusable Tattler lids but after they were outlawed, she couldn’t get them anymore and so was real careful and always tried to reuse the lids once.  I worked most often with her in the canning.”

“Did they have a dehydrator?” asked Jan.

“Yes,” said Erin. “Grandma had three small ones that worked pretty well.  She used them for drying fruit and veg only.  She said she didn’t trust them for meat, but we had a smoke house for that.”

At the end of the night, Jan had a rough idea about the supplies that they would have at hand and the skills that the kids had to contribute.

She mocked up a work chart in her notebook.

House   
Cooking: Jan, Mrs. Jones, Heather, Erin, Lydie
Baking: Mrs. Jones, Lydie
Dairy   : Sama, Andrea
Housekeeping: Jan, Mrs. Jones, Mary, Heather, Erin
Clothing: Erin, Sally
Wood Box:   Mark, Tom
Health: Dr. P, Heather
Childcare of Littles: Jan, Mrs. Jones, Mary, Heather, Erin
   
Facilities Maintenance   
Building: Mark
Equipment: Jones, Tyler, Eric
   
Barn
Cows – beef: Martin (also apprenticing as a butcher), Sama
Cows – dairy: Sama, Andrea
Pigs:   Kyle
Chickens: Eggie
Horses – heavy:   Gail
Horses – riding:   Gail
Crops: Matt, Jamie
Vegetable Garden:Mrs. Jones, Sama, Andrea, Sally
Orchard: Jan, Kyle
Yard Maintenance: Jones, John, David, Gordie, Drew, Joe

On another page, she began to try and figure out how much space they were going to need.  The log house had two bedrooms, which of course had been fine for three.  It was impossible for twenty-nine.  Her fingers flew as she figured that two large dorm rooms and three regular sized bedrooms.  She started sketching the house and seeing how the dorm rooms could be added.  She figured that Dr. P and Mrs. Jones could have separate cabins.

Suddenly there was a scream in the air and the train shuddered and stopped… another scream and another shudder… then a third… then the train seemed to leap forward and race down the tracks.  The two guardsmen leapt to their feet and each ran to an opposite door.  Jan sent the kids to their bunks.  She allowed them to double up as they needed but all little feet were to be off the floor.

Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 20, 2014, 11:11:59 PM
Chapter 17 – They kept coming…

With their guns drawn, the soldiers stood guard.  A group of ten moved through their car, and out the back. Jan and the other two adults exchanged fearful glances.  They heard two shots.  Shortly thereafter the back door opened and two soldiers came each carrying a child.  The second soldier had an older child by the hand.  All three were black with smoke and covered in… well who knows what it was and speculation wasn’t getting it off.  With haunted eyes, the lead soldier said:

“Will you help? Their car is gone.  They were under the seats…” his voice trailed off.

Jan and Mrs. Jones reached for the children.  Jan quickly took the water off the top of the stove and poured it in a basin.

“Heather”, she called.  “See if you can find me some small track pants and sweatshirts.”  The looking down at the oldest child she asked quietly, “What is your name?”

The child didn’t respond.

Jan sat the child she was holding down on the table and stripped off its clothes.

“A girl here,” she said to Mrs. Jones. She popped the child in the water and gently cleaned her off before wrapping her in a towel.

The little wiggly girl was then placed in front of Dr. P, who checked her health, before passing her off to Heather to be diapered and dressed.

“The little girl is about 18-months old… maybe 21-months but not two yet,” he said.

“This one is a boy,” Jan told Dr. P.  “Long gash on front of his left thigh.  Not deep.”

Jan passed him the boy.  Dr. P cleaned the gash.  No stiches were required but he taped some gauze over the wound, and Heather dressed him.

“Same age as the girl,” said Dr. P.  “It’s possible that they are twins or close cousins.”

“Twins,” said a small voice.  “Thems mine. Hilda and Kurt.”

“Do you know how old they are?” Dr. P. asked.

The small head shook.  “Thems supposed to have birthday party at new house.”

“Do you know where your new house was going to be?” The little head shook no.

“Do you know where your old house was?”  The little head shook no.

“Do you know how old you are?”  The little head shook up and down.
“Can you tell me?”  The little head shook no.

Can you tell me your name?”  The little head shook no.

“Why not?”

The child looked at her like she was an idiot. “Cause I’m not allowed to talk to strangers.”

“Ah…” said Jan.  ‘Well that is a very good reason.”

Gently, Jan sat the child on the table and began to wash face and arms.  When she went to remove the child’s shirt, the child resisted.

“You can’t see my private areas.  They’s mine,” said the child.

“I understand,” said Jan seriously, all the while trying not to smile.  “We are trying to get you cleaned up and put in clean clothes.  You watched us bathe Hilda and Kurt and know that we didn’t hurt them.  So may I bathe you too? Then we can all get something to eat.”

After due consideration, the child nodded.  “Okay.  Whats is we going to eat?”

As she removed the child’s shirt and torn pants, she noted the bruises on the child’s upper arms and then the stripes and scars across the child’s back.  Gently she bathed the child.

“You have a lot of cuts on your back.  We’ll have Dr. P. put some magic cream on them so that they don’t get infected.  How did you get the cuts?”

“Iz get whupped for talking back and not cooking enough dinner for Daddy.”

“Oh!” said Jan, her mind racing. “And where was Mommy?”

“Oh she was entertaining Daddy’s mean ole boss.  She hates him but if she don’t go entertain him then Daddy wont gets to keep his job.  She was really happy we was movin so she donts got to entertain no more.  Daddy aints always mad.  Just when he gots to allow Mama to entertain that man.”

Jan and Mrs. Jones exchanged looks.  Both had heard of that sort of thing but never up from a child.

“Okay!” said Jan. “Let’s get Dr. P to work his doctor magic and then we’ll get some dinner.”

She looked at Dr. P and mouthed “Girl. Whipped with a belt. I need to get one of the soldiers to see.”

Dr. P. nodded and Jan went to the end of the car.

“Private.  Would you please radio your Sargent?  We have an abuse issue with one of the children who needs to be seen before the child can be released to their parents again.”

The soldier looked at her and grimaced.  “They were the only survivors from that car.  I know that Sarge wants to speak with you too.  So just a second.”  He lifted his radio.

A short while later a weary looking man in his early thirties came into the car.  The babies were asleep, side by each, on a bunk.  Samuel was playing cars with the little girl, with Heather supervising.  The quick meal of KD had been well received by the children.

Jan put a cup of coffee down in front of Sergeant Tyler Davison.  He scrubbed his hands with his face.

“With all due respect, I can’t wait to get back to the US,” he said.

Jan smiled into her coffee.

“Okay,” he said.  “Here’s what happened.  Rocket fire has taken out the last three cars of the train.  We lost two cars full of people and a box car full of belongings. I lost six soldiers.  Saved were the two babies who had been put in boxes and shoved under the seats. I don’t think I want to know what type of parent does that.  The third child was asleep on the bottom shelf of the luggage compartment by the head.

“I am deeply sorry about your men,” said Jan.  “The rest of the information fits.  So… the three are siblings.  The twins are Hilda and Kurt and the older child refuses to tell us a name.  However the girl has been whipped and recently as the marks are fresh, but there are older scars below.  The girl has said that it happened because of her father’s frustration at being unable to prevent his boss from demanding that her mother ‘entertain’ him.”

The sergeant looked disgusted.  “Why didn’t he quit?!?”

Well,” said Jan. “It is illegal to quit a job.  You can be fired but if you are then you lose your children because you are deemed ‘unfit’.  Technically something like this could result in you being permitted to change jobs, but in all likelihood the wife would be charged with prostitution and the husband with trying to bribe his boss.  By the time it came to court they would have lost their home, the children and their reputations.  Chances would be good that neither would ever be hired again, so they would end up doing hard labour as vagrants.  You can’t win under this system.”

“He won’t have to worry about anything now except explaining his abuse to his Heavenly Father,” said the sergeant.  “Our issue now is the three children.  Looking at the transit papers, the family’s last name was Schmidt.  They had five children.  The youngest three were Inga, Hilda and Kurt.”

Jan got up and went over to the children.  She hunkered down beside them.  Looking at the little girl, she asked.  “Is your name Inga?”

“Yous guessed!  Yous is very smart.”

“Okay Inga.  You play some more with Samuel and then its bedtime.”

“Whats I’m supposed to call you?” asked the girl.

“Her name is Tante Jan” said Samuel.

“Das ist a goot name.”

“Inga?” asked Jan.  “Do you speak German?”

“Yes!” said Inga.  “Mein Mama speaks German cause she used to live on a farm. She showed me once.  A lady she said was my Oma came out to the truck to see Hilda and Kurt but then Opa made Oma go inside and we left.  Mama cried.  She said that Opa cared more about rules than family.”
“Thank you Inga.  You can go back to playing now.”

Jan returned to the table.  “Sergeant, where did this family come from?  I suspect that the mother may have been Amish or Mennonite, perhaps even one who was shunned.  Now we’ll take these ones with us too.  The Colony may be willing to adopt them or find a way to get them to family, if not, we’ll keep them.  But that now puts me at twenty-eight children.  Now, without being crass, what do they have in the way of supplies, animals… anything?”

“The Schmidts were from Elmira. There were three other family that were completely wiped out in those two cars.  When we get to the secure rail yards in Buffalo, you can go through all their things and take what you need.  We can probably also give you their livestock, although they didn’t have much.  One of the families also had a house and barn. Perhaps that might solve your space issues,” suggested the Sergeant. “Thank you for agreeing to take the children.  There was no next of kin listed for the family.”

*****
“You know,” John told the Committee.  “Over the years, my mother took in many children.  In Rexford, she became the go to option for children who were orphaned, unwanted, in trouble… whatever the reason.  She took them in, gave them a home, and made us a family.  The Rexford Colony made a good choice when they agreed to accept our family.  But she always expected to be paid for her work. She felt that if families did not pay for the care then they were abandoning their children and she never wanted a child to feel that way.  She also told me once that volunteers were idiots.  They received minimal recognition, their skills were routinely dismissed, their advice underappreciated or ignored in favour of high priced consultants who said the same thing, and they were viewed as less competent.  All because they weren’t paid, so she always made sure she was.

“All men,” John continued. “All men may have been created equal, but we all know that they are not born equal.  The lives of my siblings before they came to taught us that.  But the right to work hard and enjoy the fruits of your labours… The right to speak your mind without fear… The knowledge that freedom has a price that your must be willing to pay.  These things seem so obvious. But we all know that for the most part they are an illusion.  Until the reforms, for more than a century, many worked incredibly hard so that many more can sit around on the dole and do nothing, or sit in prison and be cared for.  The right to speak freely and make what every choices you want has never really existed.  There are consequences to your words and choices.  If you say the words you have to be willing to accept the consequences.  And the majority view freedom as either a God-given right or something they are owed. 

“Now I was raised and lived side-by-side with the Amish.  But I am not Amish, although many of my siblings and children have joined the Brethren. For some of those who did not join it was the disciplinary measure of shunning that was the line in the sand. It was decided that because the parents of Inga, Hilda and Kurt had been shunned that they could not be adopted within the Colony, although the twins did join as adults and married into the Colony.  To me the sticking point as not faith, or style of dress but their policy of pacifism.  I believe that mid-20th Century writer Robert A. Heinlein was correct when he wrote:  ‘Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay - and claims a halo for his dishonesty.’  If you want freedom, you must accept that there is a price to pay.

“The US Constitution is an agreement of rights and responsibilities.  For example, the right to bear arms is balanced by the peoples’ responsibility of ensuring that government remains of the people and acts in their best interest.  The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms tried to guarantee equality all people in all things but failed to demand that they be accountable in their demands.  All teachers should earn the same amount – regardless of level of education, experience, skill, or subject.  The school curriculums were taught to the lowest common denominator as no one could fail – that would create inequality.  Guidance counselors encouraged children to view professional designations as the only possible career choice, even though Bay Street careers were not available in their communities and a well-trained mechanic could earn twice as much.

“Anyways… enough of my thoughts…”

The General in the third row wanted to cheer.
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 26, 2014, 04:49:10 AM
Chapter 18 – Deluded little heroes…

In another train, rattling though the night, Jones dozed fitfully.  Mostly he was barely coherent with exhaustion and worried sick.  He might have been off working before but he always knew where his wife and son were.  Now he didn’t.  They had left Fenelon on time and then vanished.  How the heck could a train full of people vanish?  Well technically they hadn’t, vanished they had just disappearing into an information back-out.  The younger of the two soldiers figured that the train would have to go through Chicago to go west, so they might catch it there.  If not, Jones decided he was heading on to Rexford to wait for Jan. He closed his eyes and prayed that he might sleep a good part of the 11-hour trip.

*****
“During this time,” said John to the Committee. “Things all over Canada were imploding.  A whole lot of people who had been dissatisfied and they were fighting the government, but they weren’t necessarily supporting the Americans.  A whole lot of people who supported the current government were fighting the Americans. A whole bunch more were supporting the Americans, but some of them were spies. And then there were the Anonymous anarchists, in their Guy Fawkes masks, who used any opportunity possible to disrupt and distort. The Federal and Provincial governments were at odds in their response and the US Army was running out of patience. 

“No matter which way you went it was a circus. The cities were burning and the American military began to practice neighbourhood closure.  If as protests were started up and agitators moved in, the Army locked the area down and let itself burn out.  Thousands died and many more were injured.  Attempts to blame the US military were refuted with images that showed them not to be the aggressors.  Overseas and in the US, Anonymous activists were arrested – possession of a Guy Fawkes mask became an automatic five year jail sentence.

“Now a days, those with dissenting opinions are given the opportunity to express themselves, but they must show their faces.  Hiding behind a mask is the act of a coward”

*****
“We should be reaching the border shortly.  We will not be stopping until we have reached the secured rail yard.  It should take about an hour.  If we stop again any sooner, move everyone onto a bunk again, so that the soldiers can move freely.”  With those final words the Sergeant left.

Jan sat there shaking her head, wondering what Jones was going to say.  Twenty-eight children!!!!  Twelve of whom would be at home for the foreseeable future.  The others were all teens who would require guidance as they prepared for their own lives.

“Well Girlie,” said Dr. P.  “Looks like you’ve got yourself a new career.  Best hang out a shingle and call it what it is – The McConnell Home for Children.  Or you could call it what it will be – Bedlam.”  He headed off to his bunk, cackling to himself.

“Whatever is my son going to say?” said Mrs. Jones in an irritated and slightly aggressive manner.

Jan looked at her and replied slightly more sharply than intended, “He’ll accept that there were no alternatives. Who would you have me abandon?  Everyone on this voyage is here because John and I have taken you in.  Should there have been a cut off?”  Jan took a deep breath.  “Thank you for your help with the kids. We are all exhausted and wrung out. I think we should all go to bed before we say too much.”

She turned and started taking the littles to the bathroom for the midnight potty run. Ginger and Agnes were snuggly and happy to include Inga into the puppy pile.  Samuel put on his jammies and decided he wanted a big boy bed.  He lasted ten minutes before joining the puppy pile.  The twins had their diapers checked and were left to sleep.  She walked along the row of bunks, tucking in hands and feet, and covering up slumbering bodies with their quilts.

Mrs. Jones stopped on her way back from the bathroom.  “I’m sorry for my comments,” she said to Jan. “I am really tired and I’m not used to so much happening and… well… I am worried about Angus and Becky.  Worried that I won’t see either again...”

“Come with me,” said Jan.  She led Mrs. Jones back to the table.  They sat down on the benches and bowed their heads.

“Heavenly Father…” said Jan. ‘Heavenly Father, we ask that you watch over us as we travel to our new homes.  We ask that you watch over Angus and Becky. We ask that you help us guide, mentor and parent as appropriate these young lives that have been entrusted to us.  Help us to show them love, compassion, humour and stability. Please watch over these young soldiers, that their tours of duty bring them safely home to their families. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”

“Mrs. Jones,” Jan said.  “You know that there is nothing more we can do but to hand it over to the Lord and pray that He will guide and protect us.  Now we are slowing and should be at the border shortly.  I am going to need your help managing the kids while I go through the contents of the other cars.  So grab some sleep while you can.”

Mrs. Jones patted her daughter-in-law’s hand and quietly went to her bunk.

As the car quieted, Jan prepared coffee for the soldiers on guard.  She also quickly mixed up a batch of cinnamon rolls for the next day.  So she was standing there with a pot of water and the flour canister when an incendiary device came through the ceiling.  Without thought she dumped water and then flour on it.  It fizzled and went out.  As it did so, the soldier shot through the roof and a body followed the device into the car.
 
“What the blink?” exclaimed Jan.  “How did that get opened?”
 
The body lay unconscious and bleeding. Jan reached out and pulled off the hood to reveal a young child of no more than eight years.  She lifted the child onto the table and quickly applied pressure to the wound.
 
“Dr. P.!” she shouted.  “Front and center...  Injured child.”
 
The old man stumbled from his bunk bringing his kit with him.  Within minutes, he had extracted the bullet, stitched and dressed the wound.  He then gave the child a shot of penicillin and another for pain relief.  The child was coming around and began to snarl as he saw the adults around him and the Sergeant come through the train door.
 
“Quiet boy!” ordered the doctor. “Or you’ll undo all the hard work we did patching you up.  Why in God’s name were you up on the roof of the car?”
 
“Teacher says I’ll get a medal if I stop the train,” the boy slurred as the medications took effect.  “Must stop train… teacher says… hero… I’ll be a hero…”
 
“Don’t look at me this time,” said Jan as the Sergeant turned as looked at her.  “I am not taking on a rabid, brain-washed child. I’ve seen the death and destruction these kids can cause.  You all can sort this one out.  You all have doctors that can handle this type of deprogramming.  I won’t endanger the children you have already entrusted me with to cope with this.  Nor will I bring such a child into the community where he might be dangerous to them and vice versus. How did he get past your guards?  We didn’t hear him land on the roof.”
 
The Sergeant nodded.  One of the soldiers carefully picked up the child from the table.
 
Jan looked at him again.  “Don’t underestimate this kid.  Three farms on our road were burned out by a gang of ten year olds taught to do that by their teachers.  In one case, it was the child’s own family.  He set fire to the house at night so that they might all be killed – his parents and two siblings.  Just because he is a child, treat him exactly the same as you would a child soldier from Africa.  Treat him as if we were dynamite.  He is just that dangerous.”
 
The Sergeant looked a Jan with an air of condescending disbelief.
 
“You think that I am making this up don’t you?” She said.  “The schools have been at this a long time.  It started back in 2011 when the Toronto District School Board gave all their students a home survey – how many siblings, how many parents at home, how many grandparents, where do they all live, who earns the money in the family, doing what jobs, what education do your parents and siblings have, has anyone in your home ever gone to prison, has child services ever been involved with your family… The questions went on for five pages.  Two kids brought the surveys home and showed their parents and there was a blow-up in the press but by then it was too late. The school board had the information. 
 
“In 2018 the school boards in bedroom communities outside of Toronto set-up a boarding facility.  It was sold to parents who commuted as a convenient option to ensure that their kids were cared for while they commuted to Toronto. The kids stayed Sunday night through Friday evening. The following year, it was made mandatory.  It both parents commuted then the children had to stay in the boarding facility unless there was an adult over 21 residing full time in the home.  And remember they knew who was at home because of the surveys. Then it became the cool place to be and parents suddenly found their kids demanding to be able to go.  Other school boards followed suite.  Employers found they could demand longer hours because the kids were all in boarding.  Parents found they had lost their children and had ceased to be the primary influence in their kids’ lives.  That is how you end up with eight year olds who think that they will be heroes for throwing Molotov cocktails into train cars.  Good luck with that one but watch him, if he can, he will kill you and claim a laurel leaf wreath for doing so.”
 
The Sergeant shook his head in disbelief.
 
“How did you all not manage to get caught in the net?” He asked.
 
“Oh!” laughed Jan tiredly.  “I escaped because my child was deemed too impaired medically and because we lived on a farm in a rural area.  There were rumours that a boarding facility was to be set-up in Lindsay for parents who commuted to Oshawa and Peterborough to work, but it hadn’t happened yet.  Likely the other kids didn’t go because they lived in Fenelon.  The Cody kids were about to be seized by Child Protective Services because their family home had been condemned as unfit for habitation.  Had they been seized, they would have been sent to a boarding facility in Oshawa from which they would never have left.
 
“Sorry gentlemen, I have to get some sleep.” Jan wiped her face, exhaustion showing.
 
She looked over at the child being held by the soldier.  His eyes were open and he was watching her.  They all heard him speak in the small quiet voice.
 
“I will kill you lady.  Yous a traitor.  Yous is dead. Bang.”
 
The soldier holding him deliberately squeezed his arm and the child’s face went curiously blank before it screwed up and the child cried out. 
 
‘Hmmm…’ thought the Sergeant. ‘Manipulative little shit.  He actually could control the pain long enough to consider which response might elicit the most sympathy.  Keep a careful eye on that one.”
 
*****
“It was 3:00am before the train was cleared at the border.  Five more children were found.  One had knocked out the soldier on guard and then heaped straw in the middle of the cattle car.  He was about to set fire to it when he was apprehended.  One was found in the food storage car, smashing jars and trying to break into pallets of food.  One was caught cowering in the bathroom.  Two more were caught on the roof, trying to break into the cars.
 
“It was a lesson in unexpected tactics,” John told the Committee.  “The US Military had no real experience in dealing with child soldiers.  Oh the occasional suicide bomber in the sand pits had been a child, but for most of the world, our cultures recoil at sending children out to be soldiers.  Even more it is impossible to train our youngsters to shoot a young child.  It destroys them.
 
“I am not sure what the military did with those kids.  If they were smart they’d have dropped them into the Niagara Gorge and left it to God to decide.  In any event, I am sure that your Military archivists can pull those records and tell you.”
 
From behind John came a commotion, and a four-star general stood and came forward.
 
“General McCormack would like to address the Committee,” he stated.
 
The Committee members looked at each other. Then Congressman Kennedy announced, “The Committee recognizes General McCormack.”
 
“Gentlemen, Mr. McConnell,” said the General.  “Discussion of operative tactics pertaining to this operation will cease.  The Official Secrets Act is in effect and will remain so for a further seven years and eight months.
 
“I can however tell Mr. McConnell that his mother’s fears and warnings were well founded and… And that if they had been heeded, far fewer would have died.  The five children pulled from that train were highly trained, very disciplined and extremely dangerous.  If they had been adults they would have been executed as rabid dogs.  Instead some of the softer more media sensitive members of the leadership felt that rehabilitation would be best.  It was marginally successful for two, one of whom later under a sub planted command killed her grade 12 class and her teacher.  The other three were kept in solitary confinement as each attempt at release resulted in the attempted murder of the people around them.  The one successfully rehabbed, returned to Ontario and killed the teachers who had taught him the skills.  He then committed suicide.
 
“Not all of the child soldiers we encountered in Ontario were this fanatical or rabid, but some certainly were.  Most of the ones that were came from the suburban areas where the Provincial boarding schools had completely removed them from their families.  Those in urban or rural areas seem to have mostly readjusted well and four generations later there are few issues.”
 
“Thank you General” said the subdued Congressman Kennedy. 
 
“Thank you for telling me General,” said John as he struggled to stand. “We will add a note to the official records.”
 
The general placed his hand on John’s shoulder.
 
“No need to stand for me, Sir,” he said.  “I grew up in a house with a plaque over my door.  I now know what it means and I will now have one put above mine.”
 
“It is good to know where you came from,” John replied.  “When you forget your history, Our Heavenly Father will make you learn the lessons again.”
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 26, 2014, 04:53:48 AM
Chapter 19 – Where’s the beef?!?

 Jan lay down on her bunk and stretched out under her quilts. Who would have ever thought that a train bunk would classify as comfortable! Within minutes she was asleep and as she went under, she thanked God for getting them all safely thus far. Her subconscious registered the slowing through the border and then the train picking up speed as it sped towards the secured rail yard in Buffalo, but she was so exhausted that she kept sleeping, trusting that the soldiers would do their duty.

 At some point in the night, John climbed into bed with Jan for a snuggle. ‘Poor kid,” thought her brain. “He’s gone from me full time to me in a hundred directions.’ She pulled him tight and held on as the train rocked through the night.

 6:30am came early but they were all up with jobs to do. Sama and Andrea were coming through the door having milked the two Short-Horned Milking cows and the now thirty strong Jersey herd – twenty-two of which had belonged to the other families.

“That was incredible to do!” said Sama, “But we need help. Can we train John and David to help us? They are both steady and quiet and both have big hands.”

 “Good idea!” said Jan. “They both need a regular chore.”

The girls were pleased to report that they had been able to trade 60-gallons of milk to the base cooks in exchange for 25-lbs of butter.

“How did you figure that out?” asked Jan, still sleep addled but interested.

“Well,” said Sama. “A gallon of Jersey milk is about 8.7 lbs. We got 60 gallons, so about 522-lbs of milk. It takes 21.2 lbs of whole milk to make a pound of butter. So we had the equivalent of 24.6-lbs of butter. So we traded for 25-lbs of butter. The cook is going to make a hard cheese with it, so he was not so worried about the milking taking place in a rail car. He’s willing to do trades on the next two milkings, so we need to figure out what we need.”

 “Really great job girls!” exclaimed Jan the fog finally clearing from her brain. “I’m really impressed. Actually I’m impressed that you milked 522-lbs of milk and that you pulled off that exchange. If you can, I think we should try a pound for pound trade for flour, sugar and oatmeal.”

Sama strained the milk and then poured one gallon of milk into the porridge kettle and set it on the stove to boil. The rest of the milk was scalded and poured into the clean jugs and stored in the cold chests. It would be used for cooking throughout the day and any left overs fed to the pigs.

 Gail took over cooking the porridge, adding several handfuls of blueberries and some cinnamon. Lydie pulled down the bowls while Sally set the table. Mrs. Jones got the tea and coffee going, along with the hot chocolate for the littles. Heather had got the Three Amigos – Gordie, Drew and Joe, up and starting to dress. She had then taken the little to the bathroom while Mary dealt with the babies. Jan watched as the family began to find its feet as a unit, and found herself relieved. She pulled out her notebook and headed to the table.

 The older boys had gone out to deal with the rest of the livestock and coming back in went to wash-up before joining everyone at the table. Grace was said and porridge passed out. Each sweetened to their own taste, although Mary had to stop several of the boys from overdoing it.

“Okay everyone,” said Jan rising from her chair. “For those who missed it we have three new additions to the family. Inga Schmidt is 4 years old and she and her twin siblings, Hilda and Kurt are the only survivors of last night’s attack on the train. The attack killed 6 soldiers, and three other families in addition to the children’s. As you say your prayers, I ask that you include all of them.

“The army has given us all the livestock and possessions that belonged to these families. I know that the young men here were checking out the animals. Please report to me after.

“We are going to have to go through the contents of the baggage car at top speed. We’ve been given four hours to sort through the car starting at 9am. Anything we don’t take will remain here and be sold. Keep all clothes and linens you find. They may not suit us but they can be reworked or turned into something else. Fabric is in short supply and we have a lot of bodies. Same applies to shoes and boots. Any jewelry we come across needs to be handed over to the military. Any kitchen and food related items come with us period. We also need beds, mattresses, kitchen chairs, tables, dressers, sofas… We have to have furniture for 32 people to park themselves on now… Also, the Schmidts may have had personal papers. Please keep an eye out for them. If we find any papers pertaining to the other families, please give them to the soldiers. Martin, can you set up here to create and enter the inventory, so that we can figure out what we need ASAP?

“Mark, Tyler, Lydie and Gail – can you for please take the littles. I have been told that as there are families that live inside the rail yard, that there is a play park. Please head over there and let them all burn off some energy. There will be a soldier assigned to you for security. Erin, could you and Grandma Jones please handle the babies. Dr. P. will be here to hold down the fort and to deal with the military.

“In about ten minutes, after I have met with the boys about the livestock, we’ll head over to the baggage car. Please use the bathroom before we go. Now boys…”

Jan shooed everyone off to their assigned positions. She opened the note book and started a livestock page. They had her original herd of one Milking Short Horn cow and its heifer calf and her Black Angus beef cattle – five heifers and their calves (two heifer calves and two bull calves) and two steers that had been due to go to slaughter and needed to as soon as they got to Rexford. Then they had Mrs. Jones’ unrelated Milking Short Horn heifer and its bull calf. The bull calves had all been castrated. Now her heifers were due to calve in March and she thought that Mrs. Jones had said her heifer was due in late April. The Codys and one of the families killed had had small dairy herds. One of the other families killed had also had White Park beef cattle, a British Heritage breed. Also called White British, it wasn’t a breed she knew a whole lot about but they were nice looking animals. She hoped that the breeding files had survived.

 Jan wrote the numbers down and it quickly began to add up.
  
Cattle
 McConnell: Dairy - 1, Beef - 5 // Heifers - 1-S/5-BA, H-Calves - 1-S/2-BA, B-Calves - 3-BA, Steer - 2-BA, Bulls - 0
 Jones: Dairy - 1, Beef - 0 // Heifers - 1-S, H-Calves - 0, B-Calves - 1-S, Steer - 0, Bulls - 0
 Cody: Dairy - 12, Beef - 0 // Heifers - 6-J, H-Calves - 3-J, B-Calves - 3-J, Steer - 6-J, Bulls - 0
 Schmidt: Dairy - 0, Beef - 0 // Heifers - 0, H-Calves - 0, B-Calves - 0, Steer - 0, Bulls - 0
 Others: Dairy - 25, Beef - 10 // Heifers - 24-J/6-WP, H-Calves - 6-J/3-WP, B-Calves - 5-WP , Steer - 3-WP, Bulls - 1-J/1-WP
Breeds: S=Milking Short Horn BA=Black Angus J=Jerseys WP=White Park

 As the boys filled in the figures for the other livestock on the train, Jan asked Sama and Jamie to go through any paper work they could find to see when the heifers had been bred and what their relationships were. She was glad to have the bulls – one a Milking Short Horn and the other a White Park.

 Jan and Jones also had two teams of heavy horses – hers were Ardennes and his Belgium – and the horse-community wide debate over whether the two could be considered the same breed had been settled with both deciding they were not. Both teams were trained to the plow. The boys confirmed that there were also two teams of Clydesdales. The horses looked to be in good shape as was their tack.

Horses
 McConnell: Riding (R) - 3, Heavy (H) - 4 // Mares - 1-R/1-H, Stallions - 2-R/3-H 0
 Jones: Riding (R) - 0, Heavy (H) - 0 //
 Cody: Riding (R) - 2, Heavy (H) - 0 // Mares - 1-R, Geldings - 1-R
 Schmidt: Riding (R) - 0, Heavy (H) - 0 //
 Others: Riding (R) - 4, Heavy (H) - 4 // Mares - 1-R/1-H, Geldings - 3-R/3-H

 In total they had nine riding horses, which would be handy as they had no cars. Jan’s three riding horses had also been cross trained to pull a buggy and a sleigh. She had brought both with her. Matt admitted that their horses were strictly riding, but were great with kids. The other four had good barn manners and considering their stress, the boys figured they should be okay. They had no stallions in the mix which could have been an issue but considering where the community they were joining, Jan was sure they could find someone with the appropriate stallion to stand stud.

“Okay guys,: said Jan. “Great start here, but we have to go deal with that baggage car ASAP. Give me the notes on the other animals and I’ll put them in the book.”

Jamie handed over the other notes:

Poultry    
 McConnell Chicken - dual: 6
 Jones : Chicken: egg - 12, meat: 11
 Cody : Chicken: egg - 24, meat: 30
 Schmidt: Chicken - dual:6
 Others: Chicken: egg - 40, dual: 12 // Geese - 16 // Ducks - 12: // Turkeys - 4
 Total Chicken: egg - 76, meat - 41, dual - 24 // Geese - 16 // Ducks - 12: // Turkeys - 4

“Good Lord!” exclaimed Jan. “I really need to meet with you Eggie on these fowl numbers. We also need to do some planning on how many expect to eat and how we need to achieve those numbers seeing as we are headed into winter. Low light will really impact egg production.”

Jamie then handed over the last list.

Other Animals
 McConnell: Pigs - 1-S/5-F
 Cody: Pigs - 3-S/8-F 0
 Schmidt: Rabbits - 5/1 0, Dog - 1
 Others: Rabbits - 5/1, Pigs - 2-S/6-F, Dog - 1

“The only comment I have is on the dogs,” said Jamie. “I know that we need dogs but the dogs could be a problem as none originally belonged to ay of us. There is one dog in there that is an Akita. He’s gorgeous but they tend to be one master oriented and not great dogs around kids. I’d recommend letting the Army find it a new home. There is also a fat old Lab there. If it is kid friendly… We should keep it.”

Looking at the numbers again, Jan saw that they had eleven steers and nineteen fattening pigs that were ready to be processed. It was a mind numbing number, but worse was the fact that keeping them fed through the winter was going to be a problem and they needed that meat to feed the family. She was commenting on it when Mary walked by.

“We are going through Chicago. Why not have it done at the stockyards there?’ Mary said.

“Well now that is using your head!” exclaimed Jan.

“So,” said Jan. “Those steer are weight in at 1100-1300-lbs each. While stressed on the train, they will be arriving finished on grain for the past 2-weeks. So if the average steer is 1200-lbs, how does that work out Cody?”

Cody sat there with a paper and pencil. “Well if the live weight of a Black Angus is 1200-bs. That would give us a hanging weight of 750-lbs and a take home weight of 500-lbs. I know some of them are White Parks but I don’t know the weights on them but it can’t hugely different, so we’ll plan based on Black Angus numbers. On 11 steers, that is a take home weight of 5500-lbs of beef. Processing cost is usually around 60¢/lb, so about… hmm… is the price paid on the live weight, the hanging weight or the take home weight?”

 “Hanging weight,” answered Jan.

“Okay so 750-lbs per steer on average, times 60¢/lb, will give us… Oh wow… just a shade under $5,000..” He paused and looked at Jan. “Can we afford that?”

 “Not much of an option,” said Jan. “We need to eat and can’t process that many at home with the number of people we have. We’d pay far more than that if we had to buy it in a store”

 “Okay,” said Martin. “Now each steer will give us approximately:
 24-28 ¾” thick T-bone or Porterhouse Steaks
 24-28 ¾” thick Rib Steaks
 12-16 ¾” thick Sirloin Steaks
 12-16 ¾” thick Round Steaks
 6 3 lb Rump Roast
 24-30 3 lb Chuck Roasts
 6 3 lb Sirloin Tip Roasts
 1 Tongue
 1 Liver, and
 190 to 200-lbs of Ground Beef

 I can’t compute multiplying that by 11 steer but it should be enough for the family. Right?”

Jan looked at Martin. “Well if each steer gave us 190-lbs of ground beef, times eleven steer, makes for 2090-lbs of hamburger. Let’s assume that each hamburger is ¼-lb. So that would be 8360 hamburger patties. And with 32 people in the family that is about 260 burgers per person… I think that we’ll be okay.

“Now we also have 19 gilts that are at bacon weight. They are about 220lbs each,” said Jamie.

“Well a 230-lbs gilt will net you 165-lbs hanging weight, and 118-lbs take home,” said Martin. “Processing charges are usually about 75¢/lb. So we are looking at about $2350… On average, each gilt will give you:
 2 14 lbs Ham
 40-50 ¾” thick Pork Chops
 4 3 lb Pork Roast
 20 lbs Bacon
 6-8 ¾” thick Pork Steaks
 4 4 lbs Pork Hocks, and
 24 to 30-lbs of Sausage

“Personally the idea of 380-lbs of bacon can only be seen as a good thing.”

Everyone laughed and had to agree. Nothing was as tasty as Tamworth bacon. Again Jan was impressed with the kids and the breadth of their knowledge. All of them admitted that their apprenticeships had given them the space to grow both personally and professionally and all wanted to find something similar in Rexford.

 Dr. P. then came and joined them.

“Good news and bad news,” he said. “There are no longer any slaughter houses along the train lines in Chicago. Also given the armed camp mentality of the city, I wouldn’t push to stay. But Mary had the right idea and I did find a meat processor in Kalispell, MT. The Lower Valley Processing Company has been around since 1974. It’s a family run operation. The Sergeant is going to get in touch with them to see if we can truck the livestock directly to them from the train stop.

“Now the processor will wrap the food for freezing. If we rent a restaurant in Eureka for two months while the house is going up, we’ll be close enough to monitor that and care for the animals. We can then use the commercial kitchen to process all the meat and can it. We can also process any fresh vegs we can find. We can set our beds up in one dining area and use the other for dining and living in. There is a restaurant on 93-N at the north end of town. Since they are paying for accommodation until the house goes up, we’ll get the military to make the arrangements and we can go from there.”

 “One more thing,” said Mary. “We’ll need to order jars and lids to do this. There is no way we have enough and we’ll need a few more pressure cookers too. Why don’t we order them through the Walmart Super Center in Kalispell. With that size of an order, they can deliver them to the restaurant in Eureka. I’ll get with Martin and Grandma J and figure out how many jars we need.”

 ‘Excellent!” Said Jan. “Thank you for figuring out a way forward. Kids let’s get yourselves pulled together we need to head out to work on that baggage car.”

*****
“The two months we spent at that restaurant were a riot,” John told the rapt audience. “Literally and figuratively… It was there that pecking orders amongst the kids were established and my mother’s patience and boundaries tested. Dr. P and Grandma got married and we so proud to have been able to do it in the local Baptist church. We all grew up a bit and really let go of our old lives.

“Martin was the first to go. Once everything was canned, he went back to Kalispell to work for the Lower Valley Processing Company. They ran a highly regarded apprenticeship program and they were impressed with what he had learned. He was with them for three years before he came back to Rexford and set-up his own processing operation. He married a local, non-Amish girl. They had four children and he lived well into his seventies. His grandson runs the operation Martin started.”
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 26, 2014, 04:57:07 AM
Chapter 20 – How far is that to Reading…

Jones was mostly asleep, when he heard the compartment door slide open. He felt rather than saw the two young soldiers rise and snap to attention.

“As ease soldiers” ordered the voice.

 He continued to feign sleep even as the person who entered nudged his feet.

“Good he’s still asleep…” said the harsh voice. “Change of plans men. We may need this one for a while longer. In three stops you will all get off for a stretch at Dowagiac, MI, and be met by members of the Michigan National Guard. You will leave our guest with the soldiers you meet and get back on the train. You will then get back on the train going east and rejoin your units. You have fourteen hours to do so or be marked as AWOL.

 Jones was fairly certain that this was not a meeting he was going to enjoy but he also figured there was no way that they would let him off the hook either. He wondered if the soldiers knew how unlikely it was that they would be able to rejoin their units in 14-hours. The time was designed for them to also end up incommunicado. As for himself, the only issue of importance was to let Jan know.

 When the senior office left, Jones pretended to wake up and then asked to use the bathroom. With nothing in his behaviour to cause suspicion, the young soldiers let him go on his own. Using the already stamped front cover of his paperback novel, he fashioned a post card.

Dear Brother Amos,
 My trip has been so interesting that it has been decided to extend it. Off on tour shortly. Arrival delayed. Return unknown. My love to the wife and boy.
 Brother A. Swallow

 He addressed it to Elder Amos Yodder, Olsen Hill Road, Rexford, MT

 As he left, he had to wait while an older couple pulled their belongings together to get off at the next stop at East Lansing. Obviously farmers who had retired to the closest town, they exuded solid comfort. Jones lifted down bags for them and even carried several to the railcar door. With his soldiers paying no attention to him, he quietly asked the older lady if she would mail a letter to his brother, the pastor. Mrs. Simpkins smiled and readily agreed, tucking it into her purse.

 The next day, Mrs. Simpkins stopped in at the post office in Gladwin, MI, and mailed the postcard along with two of her own. While she wondered if they ought to have stew for dinner that night, she never gave the postcard another thought.

 *****
“The postcard reached Rexford two weeks before we did,” John told the Committee. “Elder Amos Yodder held onto it and passed it along to mother as he had many postcards in the past. My father had all sorts of what he called super secret spy tricks that he shared with us. Even today, the postcard book is a common one we all use. Plans can change at a drop of the hat and communication is key. The simpler the better. If my father had used a cell phone or electronic means of contact, he would have been caught out within minutes. The less moving parts to a machine, the less there is to go wrong. A postcard to a drop box or person has so little to go wrong. My father’s post card…” John paused and held it up. “The postcard said nothing that was out of the ordinary. The only code was the word swallow. He used it because swallows always return.”
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 30, 2014, 10:00:24 PM
Chapter 21 – Coup de foudre…

With the troops marshalled, Jan led them over to the baggage car.  Kyle stayed back with Dr. P, his feet and legs just not yet ready for heavy work.  Instead he took control of lunch, prepping the veg for soup and making sandwiches. 

One car was scorched on the outside but the open doors showed that there was no damage from the attack.  The other car was a burned out shell in the center with each end showing as crispy.  Jan sent Matt and Jamie over to see if there was anything that could be salvaged from the decimated rail car.  The boys loped over and hiked themselves up. Almost immediately there was a shout.

“Tante Jan!” yelled Jamie.  “There is a girl back here!”

Before Jan could even move, six soldiers ran past her.  With Jamie’s help they got her onto a back board and off the car.  Since there was no medical centre in the rail yard, they took her to Dr. P for an immediate assessment.

“She was under a pile of boxes.  We saw her leg sticking out,” said Jamie.  He kept staring at the girl and as concerned as she was, Jan had to smile.

Dr. P came down and checked her vitals.  “Breathing normally… Pulse a bit thin but steady… not surprising… Contusion to forehead but no obvious breaks or open wounds…  She is chilled.  I’d say that she was in the car when it took the blast and went down under the crates and boxes.  Being outside all night did her no good but her lungs sound clear.  So I say take her to the local hospital and get a complete set of x-rays, including lungs.  Then bring her back here.  We’ll pop her into a bunk and feed her up.  We’ll see where we are in a couple of hours.”

Jan could see that Jamie wanted to go with them but Jan put out a restraining hand.  “I need your help here Jamie.  You can sit with her later.”

He looked mutinous for a moment but then turned around and rejoined Matt on the rail car.  Two of the soldiers stayed to help them as they pulled apart the boxes.  In short order the four young men had cleared the car.  There wasn’t much left.  There had been boxes filled with shattered glass and china, inanimate victims of the blast wave.  But there were a couple boxes with clothes and one full of bolts of cloth and sewing notions.  Jamie felt pretty certain that his sister Erin would be drooling over those, and that Tante Jan would be pleased too.

In the back corner though, they found something that worried them all - a small suitcase, a box of food, a small camp stove with fuel canister, and a sleeping bag.  There were two garbage bags in the corner, one with neatly compacted garbage and the other in a bucket had obviously been used as a toilet. The boys made gagging sounds but the soldiers were impressed by the planning.  The suitcase contained several changes of clothes – all handmade.  So no identifying labels but the cloth was of good quality, the stitching even but the colours plain.

“The clothes are like those of the girls on our road back home,” said Matt.  “You know the Amish girls.” Jamie nodded in agreement.

“That fits,” agreed Jamie.  “But why is she stowed away?”

Meanwhile Eric and Heather had joined Eggie and Jan at the other baggage car.  Crates were pried apart, boxes and suitcases opened and the belongings of the other four families gone through. It was brutally hard and occasionally depressing work, and even when they were joined by the four from the other car, they were all exhausted by 1pm when time was called on the exercise.

In the end they had a pile of linens, clothes, winter wear, shoes, boots, several pairs of x-country skiis, quilts, several crates of kitchen stuffs, animal care products, books, school supplies… the list went on. They kept beds and mattresses, dressers, trunks, sofas and chairs, and especially kitchen chairs and tables.  They also found the Schmidt family bible and a box of letters and photos that they’d tuck away for Inga and the twins.  In glancing through the photos, Jan found one of the mystery girl.

“That’s our girl, isn’t it Jamie?” Jan asked.

“Yeah.  I think so. Is there a name on it?” He asked.

“Nope but I’ll bet Inga might be able to identify her.  I’ll bet she is a sister of Inga’s mother.  But why she is stowed away and not with the family is anyone’s guess but it likely saved her life.”

*****
"She was Inga's aunt, a young woman who had run away from her abusive father and sought shelter with her sister.  But being only fifteen, she would have been sent back and her sister charged with harbouring a runaway.  You know technically shunning was designed to bring a family member back in line.  Unfortunately in this family's case it was applied against the child and not the father.  Back when my mother was a child if a child said they had been abused a witch hunt occurred and the accused tried and found guilty before they were ever charged. Divorcing parents used the accusation as a means of getting more or eliminating the other spouse. Every man who dealt professionally with a child was suspect. The pendulum for dealing with these issues had swung too far.  By the time I was a child, the Province had declared the abuse of children a resolved issue.  So unless a child was killed or so badly abused they could not ignore it, it did not happen.  And anyone who claimed it did was usually incarcerated for slander.  Children had become disposable," John told the Committee.
 
"She and Matt danced around each other for a couple of years before marrying.  They then adopted Inga and the twins.  It would have been hard on my mother, except they built a house across the yard and they continued to live en familie."
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 30, 2014, 10:01:18 PM
Chapter 22

Awareness seeped around the edges of Sarai’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.”

Sarai’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 Sarai,” 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 Sarai,” 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?”

Sarai closed her eyes.  “Where are my sister and brother-in-law?”

“I’m sorry Sarai, 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 Sarai 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.”  Sarai was tired from speaking so much English.

“How old are you Sarai?” asked Jan.

“I am seventeen years,” she said.  Jamie smiled at her and Sarai 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.”

Sarai 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 Sarai.  “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?”

Sarai 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?”

Sarai 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.

Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 30, 2014, 10:03:05 PM
Chapter 23 – the Windy City…

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 Sarai.  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.”
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on March 30, 2014, 10:04:21 PM
Chapter 23 – Sharks have teeth too…

“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 Sarai, 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.”

Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on April 07, 2014, 08:48:52 PM
Chapter 24 – The danger of the thinking man…

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 pefix…  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?”

Todd nodded.

“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.  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.

Hey T-man,
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.
K


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 teens 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. 

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.


*****
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.”
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on April 07, 2014, 08:51:05 PM
Chapter 24 – Unity and Kindness…

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 Sarai 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.  “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 Sarai 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.”
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on April 07, 2014, 08:55:01 PM
Chapter 25 – The ants come marching one by one…

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 bustles 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 the booster seats 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 through 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 Sarai 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.  Hadn’t been in a long time.  But they did have Zack.

At three years of age, Zach was an old man.  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 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?”

Missy nodded.

“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 isolated.

“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.  Here, 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.”

“Mot 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 own.  The revenues were going to be terrific.  There would be the taxes from the 39 new farm families and the 22 new businesses, 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.
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on April 11, 2014, 09:22:20 PM
Chapter 26 – Delays…

They were on approach into Havre, MT, when the jet went screaming overhead.  One of their soldier guards opened the small window in the door and Matt and Jamie joined him as they watched an old fashioned dogfight began.  It could have been all over in seconds, but instead went on for some time.  Dr. P. also went to watch.

“It’s like they are toying with each other and neither intends to be the first to fire,” the doctor commented.

The soldier looked at him and nodded.  “One of those is a National Guard jet from Wisconsin and the other is a US Army jet.  Looks like the boys in the air don’t intend to shoot each other.”

Well, there’s hope in that,” murmured the doctor.

Suddenly the guard jet turned and began to dive into a run.

“OH Shi--!” screamed the soldier.  “Everyone hit the deck!”

Experience had taught this group well and they all lay flat as they felt the train rock.  The train kept moving.  It never slowed.  It swayed on its rails as air pressure and debris hit it but it kept moving. The plane never actually hit it.

Dr. P and Jan looked at each other.  “No intention of actually hitting us,” stated Dr. P.

The train was supposed to stop in Havre but they kept racing across Montana, finally stopping at the siding in Shelby.  The train seemed to stand like a panting shivering dog.

For the first time since he got on the train, Connor Donaldson, nephew of Sgt. Donaldson, spoke. 

“Did you know that Jack Horner was born here?” he asked.

Jan looked confused but Drew Cody lit up like six free games.  “Really!  He was born here?”

“Yup!” said Connor.  “He found his first dinosaur bone here when he was 8-years old.”

“That’s the same age as me!” exclaimed Drew. “Tante Jan. Mr. Horner is really important.  He found the first Maiasaura nest. Does he still live here? Are we going to be here long enough for me to find a bone?”

Connor laughed.  “Nah… he doesn’t live here.  Sometimes though he comes back to visit friends and family.  He’s down in Bozeman at the Museum of the Rockies but he travels all the time.”

A soldier came down to Jan.  “We are going to be here about five hour,” he told her. “While we didn’t get hit directly, they want to check out the train thoroughly.  They have asked that you keep the stoves off. They will cover the cost of a meal in town for everyone.”

Jan looked at Connor.  “Well we’ll be here a bit and we need to eat lunch.  Any ideas?”

Connor looked startled that his opinion was being sought.  He gave Jan a small smile.  “My Pa and I used to come here to go to the Kow Loon Chinese Restaurant on Main Street.”

Donaldson came through the door.  He clapped Connor on the back but the excited teen had turned back into a sulky one.  “So did you decide where to go?  My parents used to bring us here a long time ago to a place called Kow Loon.  The original Mr. Kow had started a restaurant here for the people who were building the railway.  Eventually he was able to bring his wife and children over.  I think the restaurant is now run by the 6th or 7th Mr. Kow.”

“You came here too?” Connor asked with surprise, “but I thought it was only my Pa and me…”

“He brought you too?” Donaldson inquired.  “That’s great! I miss him too… glad you got that great memory.”

They smiled at each other but then Connor remembered he was supposed to be mad and the smile slipped back into sullenness.  Donaldson just shook his head.

*****
Later that day, Jan sat with a cup of coffee at the table and updated her note book.  Under Ginger Cody, she added…

Name   Age   Date of Birth   Schooling   Work/Apprenticeship
Inga Schmidt   4   Apr 22   JK   
Hilda Schmidt   18m   Jun 15      
Kurt Schmidt   18m   Jun 15      
Zach McConnell   3 (?)   Unknown – given Dec 12      
Connor Donaldson   16   Jul 26   Grade 11   No trade. Wants to go into army.

Jan looked again at the file social services had given her pertaining to Zach.  It was comprised of his medical file from the hospital, a note advising that his parents had listed Jim and Tina Wright as their names on the rental forms but that a quick run produced nothing.  The old lady had passed away before she could give them any information and no one around town was talking.  The house had been a total loss with nothing retrievable.  The child had given his name as Zach but didn’t know his last name, his parents’ names or his birthday.  His estimated age was three, but a just turned not a turning four.

So social services had given him December 12th as his date of birth.  With him going to Jan, they gave him her last name.  They also gave her a cheque for $1,000 and a note saying that the Family Courts in Williston viewed the placement as permanent and their duties to Zach McConnell as being finished.  They also noted that they expected Jan to complete the adoption process in Montana once settled and that they would appreciate a copy of those records for their files.  Jan shook her head.

She then went and sought out Connor.
“Hey Connor, you got a couple minutes you can give me?” Jan asked pulling him away from a discussion with Matt, Jamie and Sarai.

“Go talk with her man,” said Jamie.  “She’s got this book where she writes down all the things we want to be doing so that she can help us get there.  I want to farm, so I’m an easy one, but Matt here is like you and wants to go into the army.”

Connor nodded and went and sat with Jan.  They talked for almost an hour.  Jan wondered if anyone had actually spoken to him since his father died.  Certainly no one had asked him what he wanted to do or helped him figure out how to get there.  She felt conflicted.  As much as she had hated the way that Ontario and Canada as a whole had headed, at least in the schools there had been some attempt to get kids employed in something they wanted to do.  Connor had no skills.  He’d done nothing but hang-out and play video games for years.  In some ways he was at the same level as John and David.  Her first goal for him was to get him a skill.  Otherwise he’d be nothing but cannon fodder going into the army.  Time for a chat with his uncle.

*****
Sgt. Donaldson had a few more issues to contend with that a sulky sixteen year old.  The first was how to break it to Jan that her husband had been handed over by the Michigan Military to the Ontario Provincial Police and that he was back in Canada.  He rubbed his face wearily.  Time to have another extraction coordinated.  And given the death sentence passed on all CISIS operatives, Jones was on borrowed time.

*****
Jones knew that he was being moved. He kept his body limp and listened.  He was dumped onto something that was table height.  He then heard an unexpected sound.  Helicopter rotors and they lifted.  They weren’t in the air that long, maybe twenty minutes… a half hour.  He could smell water when they landed.  He was heft-up gain and tossed into the trunk of a vehicle.  If the whole thing hadn’t been such a spy novel he’d have laughed.  The car stopped and again he was lifted out. They went up  flight of stairs, pause for the door, then down stairs.  He was seated on a chair and tied.

"Welcome home Jones!" said a disembodied voice. "We've gone to a lot of effort to locate you."

‘The only question is will they beat me before they take the hood off or after…’ he thought.  Then the first blow hit and he passed out.

Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on April 11, 2014, 09:24:44 PM
Chapter 27 – So close… and yet so far…

At Amtrak’s request, the train pulled out at 4:30pm in order for the tracks to be cleared for the evening train to Seattle.  It took them 2 hours and 30 minutes to get to Essex, MT, to the big BNSF Rail Yard.  It was here that the really heavy freight trains picked up additional engines to get them through the mountains.  The train stayed overnight at the Essex yard and the kids had a wonderful time exploring.

Jan and the older girls were corralling the little ones when they ran into the Kellys who own the Izaak Walton Inn at Essex.  As the kids admired what could be done to make a rail car a home if you had money, the Kellys were amused by the converted troop car that had hauled the growing family across the country.  Certainly it did not subscribe to the luxury of their converted rail car suites.  However, they did see promise in the ability to create bunk houses for backpackers.  Jan sent Connor off to get his uncle.  Meanwhile Sama and Andrea got an introduction to the chef.  While he inspected their travelling barns, they got him to agree to purchase two milkings of 120 gallons of milk and twelve dozen eggs.  In return they got more flour and sugar and three pans of the Inn’s famous Huckleberry Cobbler.

The cobbler was a huge success at dinner that night.

The next morning the train pulled out heading over the Continental Divide by way of the Marias Pass.  It was only an hour and a half into Whitefish.  There they were to be met by the truckers who would take Martin Cody and their steers to the Lower Valley Processing Company in Kalispell.  Kyle, who was now walking without assistance, would go with him.

At Whitefish, the train would switch from the BNSF rail line to the Montana line that ran north to Eureka.  Originally the train ran on to Old Rexford, but it was lost in 1972 when in Lake Koocanusa was created.  It was created as part of a joint project between the US and Canada with the purpose of providing flood protection and to generate hydroelectric power. The Kootenai River used to fluctuated wildly in the spring causing flooding in Montana, Idaho and BC. So the Libby Dam dam ws built and Lake Koocanusa is its reservoir. The name was chosen in a contest and the winner used the first three letters from KOOtenai River, and the first three letters of CANada and USA.

By 2pm, the train pulled into Eureka.  Jan could have wept with relief.  There was an amazing amount to be done, but they had got here and they were all safe. 

Standing at the station platform were the two people she had just about given up ever seeing again… her cousin Gordon McConnell and Jones.
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on April 11, 2014, 09:27:09 PM
Chapter 28 – The testing of love…

Jan wanted to leap at Jones but the toll of his time away was clear marked on his face.  He stood only because of the crutch and Gordon’s help.  Gently she kissed him.

Gordon grabbed her and gave her a big hug.  She looked at them both marveling at their relaxed stance compared to their heavy battering.

The young man who had been standing back now came forward.

“Mrs. McConnell, you may not remember me.  I am Jonas Yoder.  I wast told dat meine feste Freundin, Mary, she is on the train with you.”

She looked at Jones and Gordon.  “This is going to take a few minutes.  Gord, please get him to sit down before the kids swarm him.  Jonas, please come with me.”

Jane walked down the tracks a pace and looked at the young man.  “Did you come down with anyone Jonas?”

“Yes,” he said. “Mein faddur.”

“Please go and get him.”  Jan said quietly.

Jonas ran and came back fairly quickly with a tall bearded man, who was deeply uncomfortable speaking with this English woman, until he saw that her husband was close by.

“Gentlemen,” Jan started. “Several days after your train pulled out, the Village Council in Fenelon decided to make an example of the Agrico feed store and its employees.  All of them were seized, the building looted and burned.  Mary was amongst those seized.  She was put through a trail in which she was accused of selling food to Relocators.  Her head was shaved.  She was beaten and repeatedly raped.  She was then walked bare foot down Colbourne to the cenotaph where she was tied to a flag pole, stripped and publicly flogged.  She was thrown at my feet when we arrived to get on the train.”

Mr. Amos Yoder looked shocked and ill.  Young Jonas looked like he had been punched.

“When we were able to get her to speak she told us about the boys, Mr. Wallis and Dr. P.  The army retrieved them all and they came with us.  To be blunt, Mary is very traumatized.  I need to make sure that you and your community are willing to accept her after all that has happened.  You need to go and talk about it with your elders, because if you can’t accept her, then I will not let you see her. If you make it an issue later, we will come and take her away.”

 “You are right, Mrs. McConnell,” said Amos.  “We will accept her in our family, but we need to ensure that there will be no issues within the community.  Jonas here will need to make some decisions and we will speak with our women.  Come Jonas, we must pray and talk.”

Jonas stood there a moment longer.  “I should have been there.  We should not have left her behind.”

Jan looked at him.  “There is no way to have known.  This is what you must work through before you see her or your anger will get turned on her.  This is where the doctrine of pacifism in your faith will be tested on a personal level.  You have to learn to forgive those who did harm and those to whom harm was done.”

“I would never blame Mary!” he exclaimed.

“If you do not deal with your anger and frustration you will.  She will become the only target you have.  Now go talk with your father and your Elders.  They will help you work it through.  Meantime we have a rented building here in Eureka.”

“You are very wise,” Amos said nodding.  “I have talked to your husband about the land they give.  Do not accept it.  It cannot be farmed.  There is snow there now, but we saw it when there was none.  See if they will give you land to the north, between here and the border.”

Jan nodded and then their attention was caught by a cry of pure joy and Jan saw John launch himself out of the train towards Jones.  They all smiled.  Then Amos and Jonas touched the brim of their hats and they headed out.

Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on April 11, 2014, 09:28:41 PM
Chapter 29 - Decisions…

The chaos of the 24-hours that followed should not be underestimated.  Jan and Jones tried to have time to talk but their now much larger family all had demands of time and attention and the livestock needed care too.  Cousin Gordon, or Big G, as the kids calls him so as not to confuse him with Gordie Cody, was still transitioning from the five years of hard labour.  Jones was far more fragile than she wanted to admit.  She was sure that he had been starved but he wouldn’t talk and finally she took her concerns to Sgt. Donaldson.

“Sergeant, do you have a few minutes?” She asked.

He sighed knowing what was coming.  “I don’t have all the details… you should really wait for…” Jan shook her head.  “Okay, here is what I do know.  He was transferred from the Michigan National Guard barracks to a prison in Windsor, Ontario.  I think its official name is something like the South West Detention Centre and it houses both men and women in a maximum security setting.  They also have a special wing for special cases.  He had been held by the MNG for about four days at that point.  We still don’t know if they were trying to extract information from him or were just having fun torturing him.  He had been marked for execution, so I think it was just some sadist having fun.  The broke every bone in his right hand.  And I do mean every bone.  The rest of him was kicked and hit in every spot possible with the aim of causing the most internal injuries possible.  Our medical team worked on him for more than 14-hours and we are still not sure that he is going to make it.  The real thing to watch for are kidney and brain issues.  He was repeated kicked in the head and we don’t know what that will do to him.”

Jan sat back, pale and shaky.

“Well we’ve got a doctor in-house, so we’ll have to take it from there.  Thank you for telling me.

“Now,” continued Jan.  “We need to talk about the land issue.  Not sure what bill of goods were being sold around here but the Amish I have met with are seriously ticked off.  Moreover, I have been told point blank not to accept the land I was given.  That it matches neither the spec or the images we were sent and it is entirely tree covered. Moreover, it is part of a housing development and the open spaces we were told were pasture are now covered with vacation homes. As you can see none of the men here are able to log nor are we here on vacation.  I doubt those who paid of $300,000 for a vacation home are going to be too happy having livestock crammed into the 2-acre lot next door.

“I have gone to the real estate agents around here and there is not much farm land around here in the first place.  There is a 95-acre parcel on Grave Creek (MLS#5319306) about 16 miles east of Eureka with a 4-bed house, but at $1.2 million I expect that it’s a bit rich for all our blood and puts the kids too far from any apprenticeship opportunities.  There is an excellent little farm south of Libby, at 51545 Hwy 2 (MLS#20137408) with 80 acres on a creek against National Forest land.  It’s got a 4-bed house and is $650,000.  Just north in Newgate, BC, is another 4-bed house on 100 acres (MLS#2390611).  In this case, it’s got 30-acres in pasture, 30 in hayfields, 10-acres are tiered with irrigation.  It also has a secondary plumbed building.  But again it’s on the market for $699,900.  Now making more sense for us is that north of Rexford off the old Hwy 81 that was submerged, is a piece of land, without a house, that is selling for $479,000 (MLS#233482).”

Donaldson grimaced and took the information that Jan had given him.  With the way things were heating up he needed to get back east ASAP, but these were people who had dealt fairly all the way along and he didn’t want to leave them in the lurch.  Moreover, as he had been hearing complaints, he began to wonder if anyone in the Relocation office had even come out here to look on the ground.  It was a huge investment the army was making in ensuring food production for its own needs and if some idiot in the Pentagon had decided he could make decisions from a make and without recon, Donaldson figured it was time to shake some things up there too.

As he headed out, Jan went to check on Jones. He was sleeping. Mary was sitting with him. Her bruises were fading and she was moving more easily. She and Jan had had a long talk the night before and Mary had cried herself to sleep over what might have been, but she was glad that Jonas knew. She hoped that he would not be too long in his decision as she had her own to make. As she thought about it, she wasn’t so sure that marry Jonas and staying here was the answer. The world had changed and she wasn’t sure that she could sit quietly in a backwater and let it change without her participation. Once she could have, but she was now involved in this war at a very personal level. She had skills and abilities. She didn't want anyone to speak on her behalf ever again. She wanted her own voice. Once she would have been happy to have stood at the woodstove and been wife and mother. Now she wanted more and more than anything, after all that had happened, she didn’t want to feel like someone was doing her a favour in marrying her. She was angry that it felt like she was on trial again with neither the reason nor the outcome taking her personally into account.

“Jan,” she said softly. “I’ve reached my decision.”

*****
“You know,” John told the Committee. “When Donaldson and his units finally pulled out of Eureka, Mary and Matt went with them. My mother was right, Matt’s deferment was cancelled and he was called up immediately. He served in that long conflict that became known as the North American Civil War. Mary served too. She went into espionage. Her proudest moment was going back into Fenelon and dealing with that nest of vipers.

“Jonas and Mary did have a long talk. He had found a way to work through his fury and feeling of impotence at not being able to protect her. Jonas and his family were unwilling to allow what had happened to interfere with Jonas’ desire to marry Mary. However when Mary told them of her decision, Amos was relieved. He later told Jan that he was not convinced that the community would be so forgiving in the long term and he had been worried that it might be used against the young couple and any children later. Jonas later married Sama and they continued to run the dairy operation, later enlarging it to more than 60 head. They had nine children, who continue to live in the Rexford area.

“Mary did not live to the end of the war. She died in on a mission in Kingston, Ontario. She had just freed 4 political prisoners from the Kingston Penn. Her name is on the cenotaph in Rexford. In a tradition we brought with us from Fenelon Falls, every November 10th at sundown on the eve of Remembrance Day*, we light a candle in her name and place it on the cenotaph. Our cadet corps then stands guard over our memories until the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. In the going down of the sun and in the morning, we remember them.

“In the end, Donaldson acquired the peninsula north of Rexford for us. The price and the lack of buildings made the difference. We were also then close enough to the Amish community to be able to take up apprenticeships as we reached the right age. The soil wasn’t much better than home, but our apple trees all survived and that made my mother happy.”

====
*Note: The Remembrance Day Eve candlelight ceremony takes place every November 10th in Fenelon Falls, Ontario. The veterans, cadets, scouts, and guides all march followed by the village members who carry candles, each named in memory of one who served or is in active service. The candles are placed at the base of the cenotaph and the cadets then stand guard through the night. In 2011, there were 2,500 candles lit.  It is incredibly moving and such a small thing that we can do in memory of those who laid down their lies so that we might live in freedom.
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on April 18, 2014, 06:49:18 AM
Note:  I misnumbered one of the chapters... so the next one is

Chapter 31…

Two days later, they had moved into the restaurant in Eureka for the rest of the winter.  The landlord was glad to have it rented for the four months as he had a buyer for it with a May closing.  Located at the corner of Dewey Avenue (I-93) and Hwy 32, there was a convenient field just north of it.

Jones and Big G spent several hours going over topographical maps and satellite images of the land they had been given with the boys from the Army Corps of Engineers.  They brought Amos Yoder and Issac Knapp into the discussion as they were organizing the teams to build the buildings.  In the meantime, temporary barns had been erected in the back field.  Permission had been granted to do this because the family was willing to haul the manure out every two days.  They took it to the farm and began the compost pile that would be tilled in come spring.  The neighbours had also agreed to the conditions.

A representative from the local school board came up and spoke with Jan.  They offered to fit the kids into the school through the end of the year, giving Jan the opportunity to get the house set up before deciding if they wanted to go back to homeschooling.  With 15 high school aged kids (5 in grade 12, 2 in grade 11, 5 in grade 10, and 3 in grade 9) for the Lincoln County High School, four middle school kids (2 in grade 7 and 2 in grade 5) and four more for the elementary school (2 in grade 3 and 2 in JK), it was a generous offer and after speaking with the others, it was accepted.  The kids were less than thrilled but saw the value in meeting others and in not just hanging around.  There would be three buses that would swing by to get them starting at 7:30am on Monday.

Inside the restaurant the two private reception rooms became bunk houses for the boys and girls.  There were also three small meeting rooms, and those became rooms for Jan & Jones, Dr. P. & Grandma, and for Big G.  One of the two big dining rooms became a playroom/homework area for the kids, and the other became the dining room/living room for the whole family.  The women all loved the big kitchen space.  Andrea located her cheese making equipment and soon the extra milk was being served as a soft cheese on crackers and bagels made by Lydie.

Gail had taken over the boxes and bags of clothes and in short order, with Sally and Heather’s help had organized it so that clean clothes were available to all.  Those in charge of the livestock were pleased to see how happily the animals settled into their new accommodations.  Eggie was pleased that the layers were laying again.  Sama saw a rise in the amount and quality for the milk.  They were all waiting for Martin and Kyle to get back.

Later that afternoon, Jan found the boys huddled around the radio in the playroom.

“What are you listening to?” Jan asked them figuring it would be football or hockey.

“Radio Free Redoubt,” answered Eric.  “Initially you think their tin foil hats are a bit tight but you soon realize that they actually know what is happening.  None of the MSM is reporting about what is happening in Canada, but these guys seem to have some reporters in Ontario who are getting the information out by ham to someone in Northern Michigan.”

“What is going on?” She asked.

“Apparently Prime Minster Justin Trudeau and all the members of Parliament have disappeared,” said Eric.

“Some crazy lady named Olivia Chow was urging people to rise up in memory of their hero and martyr. Some guy named Jack Layton.  Supposedly in Toronto they were marching through the downtown carrying banners and placards with his name and image on them.  The crowds reached Queen’s Park and then some of them realized that behind them were police moving barricades into position.  To leave, you were funneled through a processing center.  If you were receiving public assistance, then it was cancelled. Any further protests and you went to work camps.  Problem was that this was still being done by the Ontario government but they are claiming it was at the direction of the US Army, which is saying it made no such request.  All sounds very confusing.”

“Keep listening and let me know.” Jan said and moved on.

Heather and Sally were playing with the little ones on the other side of the room and Grandma Jones was knitting in a corner keeping an eye on Hilda and Kurt and they ran about and fell.

Jan was worried about Jones.  He wasn’t moving any more easily and his translucent colour and tremours were of increasing concern.

Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on April 18, 2014, 06:53:20 AM
Chapter 32…

Jones was worried. Even more than worried he was confused. He felt continuously hung over, like his brain was operating in a deep fog somewhere between a spinning gyroscope and molasses. He felt nauseous and had clammy sweats. He was constantly cold. All these people around him. He was supposed to know them. He felt swamping waves of panic. The people came in and out of his range of vision and their voices and the colours of their clothes swirled around him until he couldn’t respond at all. He would close his eyes and all would gradually still but when he opened his eyes nothing would focus. He vomited. Someone came into range and gently cleaned him up. He didn’t recognize her.

But it was the two women that worried him. One thought she was his mother and the other thought she was his wife. He was fairly sure that he didn’t know either one of them. The only one he was sure he knew was the young boy glued to his side. He was fairly sure that the boy was his son, but he didn’t know where the wheres or whys. He was so tired. His body ached. Perhaps if he slept some more it might become clearer.

That day he had stood on the train platform and this man had been talking to him, had been just one more day in a long run of nightmare. If the man hadn't been there, he would have fallen down. This gorgeous vital woman had stepped out of a rail car laughing with a soldier. She had seen him and come over. She had kissed him so gently. She was obviously excited to see him but he hadn't a clue as to who she was. He had looked at the man beside him for help.

"You're wife," the man had whispered. "You lucky dog, you."

But Jones hadn't feel lucky. This vital woman had seemed too vivid for him to cope with. He had felt like she was sucking energy from him. Also why was the dog lucky? He had been and continued to be confused.

Jan watched him from the doorway. Tear streamed down her face. She had expected that Jones would be here and step-in and take over some of the load. It was going to be a long time before that would happen. She wanted to yell and scream and curse… she wanted to lay down like a two year old and throw a screaming hissy fit… but someone had to be in charge and it looked like she wasn’t going to be able to share that with anyone for a while. Dang! She wanted her husband back. She wanted her handsome strong whirl-wind husband back. She wanted a chance to be like every other married couple. She wanted the head of their household back in his God given position. She wanted… well if wishes were horses then beggars would ride…

*****

“I would like to tell you,” John told the Committee, “that my father recovered quickly but he didn’t. He never really did. Physically he regained strength but he never stood straight and proud again. He always seems… well frail would be the word. He caught every bug that came though - colds, flus, pneumonias got him all. He seemed to always be sick.

“And mentally, he was never the man he had been before. The brain injury he sustained was significant and it damaged him in ways no one could have ever predicted. Eventually he was able to do some work around the farm but he had to be supervised to some extent. So there was always a kid trailing after him… Mom’s version of ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’… and he was good with us kids. It was with the adults he had problems. It’s like he knew there was something wrong and with us kids he didn’t have to pretend.

“My mother loved him. She honoured her vows and loved him. He depended on her but he never seemed to really figure out who she was, and he never got anyone’s names except mine. I think seeing him was part of why Aunt Becky didn’t stay. Losing a second brother on top of everyone else was just too much for her. Caring for him taught Heather a great deal about head trauma cases and she went into the military nursing program and specialized in helping soldiers with brain trauma. Grandma didn’t care. Her boy had made it home and she would take him however she could get him.

“We weren’t home that day, some five years later, when he slipped the kiddie leash and went for a swim. He drowned in the Kootenai River in the place where the dam widened it into Lake Koocanusa. He was buried on the farm.

“Mother loved him and she never complained to us about the hand dealt. She just continued on. She was the strongest person I ever knew. She told me once that I was the prize she won in their marriage, and that she would go through it all again just to have me. Even with all the other kids about, I never felt anything less than love. She was a remarkable woman.”
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on April 18, 2014, 06:57:31 AM
Chapter 33 – Christmas in Eureka…

Five days after the train arrived in Eureka, Sgt. Donaldson and his unit pulled out heading to the front lines in the new war.  Matt and Mary were on the train as were about sixty new recruits from the Eureka area.  They joined up with another train that had just come in from Idaho with more volunteers.  They were headed back for the front lines in North Dakota.

The day after that Martin & Kyle arrived with the packaged meat and the processing marathon began.

“I love this kitchen” Jan sang as she danced through the space.  Six pressure canners were rocking away stuffed with pint jars filled with cold packed stewing beef.

Grandma Jones laughed and several of the girls giggled while the others goggled.  Jan being silly wasn’t a sight they’d seen before.

“Renting this place was a fantastic idea.  I’ve canned over open fires before, but this is just so much easier,” said Jan. “I am also so glad not to be moving.  If I stand still I still feel like I’m on the train.”

Big G and Jamie had gone out to check the fencing for their livestock. 

Jones was still in bed.  Dr. P was sitting with him. The day before he and Heather had walked down Dewey Avenue to the North Country Medical Clinic and paid a courtesy call on the doctors there.  Dr. P. had left his credentials with them, advising that he was available in the event of an emergency but that he was otherwise officially retired.  He also told them that he was training Heather and that she would be entering the Army as a combat medic the next year.  The doctor recommended that she get her AAS in Paramedicine and the NREMT certification.  While it was a two year course at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, it would give her better standing as a 68W medic with an EMT-P rating. They were also willing to bring her in after that to work with them.

Dr. P. then consulted with Drs. Thom and Flute about Jones’ case and gave them the file on young Zach.  The doctors were willing to add Zach to their roster until the adoption was final.  They were also able to refer them to the children’s services office in Kalispell.

The younger kids had all gone to school for an introduction day.  They had piled onto the Elementary and Middle school buses with excited chatter and nervous giggles.  With the eight of them gone for the day, the older ones set out to deal with the massive amount of meat the boys had brought back.  Jar after jar was filled, canned, labelled and boxed.  But everything came to a crashing halt when quite innocently Lydie said,

“Can you believe it’s only four days until Christmas?”

They all looked at each other.  Jan and Grandma Jones came to a complete halt.

“Heather can you stay to spell Dr. P. and be here for the kids getting off the bus?  We’ll take the twins with us.  Call the College and ask them to have an admissions package  at the front office for us to pick-up. Can you get Jamie and Big G to go find out where we can get a Christmas tree. This used to be the Christmas Tree capital of the world, so get them to find us one. Lydie can you pull me together a fast shopping list of things you need to bake for the holiday.  Sama, Andrea and Gail – after you three finish the kitchen tidy, please find me the boxes marked ‘X-mas Decorations’ and get to work decorating.  Let’s try to have it all done before the littles get off the bus.  If we are not back, get the kids started on making Christmas cards.  Make a list of everyone we need to send one to.  Grandma and I are going Christmas shopping in Kalispell.  Let’s get moving.”

*****
Three days later, in a barrack block in [location censored], Sgt. Donaldson opened an envelope and out fell a dozen homemade Christmas cards.  Reading the names, messages and the scriptures quoted, he fell to his knees and thanked God that the family had made it safely.  They were a beacon to him, in the rapidly descending madness. He tucked the cards carefully into his kitbag and hefted over his shoulder as his unit prepared to move out again.

*****
In a basic training camp, Matt and Mary were able to briefly say hello as they passed in the mess hall.  Both had just received mail and under their arms were letters from the only place they now considered home.  A place they had spent less than a week with people they had barely known a month before.  Both treasured the cards.  When Mary’s effects were returned to the family, the small bundle of oft handled cards and letters, tied with a ribbon, were also returned.

*****
In a hospital room in Willston, ND, social worker Missy James brought Officer Gid Donaldson a bag of McDonalds’ Big Macs and fries, and a pile of mail. With his shattered leg in a sling, Gid munched away on his Big Mac, while Missy opened their mail.

“Here’s one for you,” she said handing him a brightly decorated homemade Christmas card.

Dear Uncle Gid,

Merry Christmas to you.  Sorry I gave you all such a hard time.  These people are weird and fun and crazy and they actually do what they say.  You’ll be happy to know that I am going back to school in January.  There are going to be fifteen of us from this house alone going to the school.  We’ll have our own gang – not in a bad way just meaning there will always be someone at your back and you at theirs.  Tante Jan is worried about me.  Can you believe with everything else she has to do, she has time to be worried about me?  She says I need to get a trade or all I’ll ever be is cannon fodder.  I had to look that one up.  I told her that I had been really good at hot wiring cars (sorry about that), so she took me down to a local mechanic and asked if he would use a volunteer helper around the shop in exchange for teaching me about engines.  So I started yesterday.  They also have an auto class at the highschool and I am going to take that too.

Anyways just wanted to say thanks. Hope you have a good Christmas.

Love, Connor


“Well, if that don’t beat all!” said Gid.

“I got one too,” said Missy holding up another elaborately decorated homemade card.

Dear Miss James,

A quick note at Christmas, to thank you for placing Zach with us.  He and Samuel have become inseparable buddies willing to face down the terrors of the four-year old girls. He has been seen by Dr. Flute at the medical center here in Eureka and other than malnourishment, he’s fine. He has already gained 3-lbs since we arrived. We will be meeting with children’s services in Kalispell in January.  His file is already in their possession. We hope that you will have a safe and blessed Christmas and that the fighting will stay at a distance.  Here is a snap of the boys.
All our best,

Jan McConnell


Attached to the card was a picture of two tow haired boys with their arms wrapped around each other, wide grins on their faces. ‘Happy,’ thought Missy, ‘he’s happy. It was the right move.’

Gid looked at Missy’s shinning eyes and made a decision.

“I’m leaving the police force Missy.”

“What!?! But why?  You love it.”

“My leg is never going to knit back properly to the point where I can do that type of work again.  Not here.  And I’m tired of the crime here – the rampant drugs, alcohol, fighting, the people who want to be arrested for a place to sleep inside… I am tired of it. They’ve offered me a desk job or an exit package.  The package is the better option. Other than you, there is no reason to stay here.  I’m thinking I want to start over somewhere new.”

“Any ideas?” she asked.

“Well… I do have one…” he said holding up the Christmas card.

Missy smiled at him and reached out a hand.  For a while they just sat holding hands.

*****
“It was a magical Christmas,” John told the Committee.  “I’ve lived a long time and celebrated our Saviour’s birth more times than most, but that Christmas was special.  There had been so much loss and disruption in all of our lives that it was the traditions not the gifts that mattered.  Popcorn was strung on the tree, along with rice krispie balls, chocolate santas and paper twists of nuts.  There were garlands of tinsel and fairy lights around the windows.  Under the tree were two gifts for every child and a new pair of pajamas.  One of the gifts was a book and the other a toy, or small Lego, or art supplies.  From Grandma was a pair of mittens and a scarf.  For some it was a smaller Christmas and for others it was far more, but for all this one was perfect. 

We had two huge turkeys with stuffing and potatoes, corn, carrots.  We all ate until we were stuffed and then the girls turned those poor turkey carcasses into a stew. Lydie had made us some gorgeous cakes and cookies and we over indulged in sugar. We sang carols and played charades and board games.  The kids did a Nativity play.  Lego was built and dolls and balls played with.  There was general mayhem and lots of noise.

“My father joined us for a while but it was obvious that he was confused by the whole thing, so he went back to bed.  It was a defining moment for us.  She went and checked on him but came back to us.  She had decided that we had to be her priority.  I won’t judge her for it.  Our Heavenly Father has done that long ago. Jones was no longer a part of the decision making in the house.  His care was always factored in but he played no role.  He wasn’t able to.

“Gid Donaldson and Missy James Donaldson appeared at our door one day in May.  They had rented a house in Eureka.  Mother introduced Gid to Todd Stewart who having survived the Chicago PD had happily settled into the quiet life of the occasional cross border cattle rustling, drug mules, people smugglers and sadly more prevalent drunk driving, and spousal abuse.  He was able to get Gid a part-time position with the force.  Missy found a job as a guidance counsellor at the middle school, where she was dearly loved.  They had four children, two of whom are still living in Eureka.”
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on April 18, 2014, 07:00:18 AM
Chapter 34 – Settling in…

“I would like to say that life was easier once we were settled,” said John, “but it would be a lie.  Christmas allowed us all to bond a bit more on a positive note before the winter crashed down.”

*****
Jan felt like she spent the next month getting the kids sorted and settled into activities.  First she got Martin and Heather down to Kalispell.  Through one of the doctors at the clinic, she found an elderly lady who was willing to house the kids in exchange for house and yard work.  It was ideal as it gave them both some structure and supervision and it allowed Mrs. Higgins to stay in her house.  The kids came home on Friday nights and returned on Sunday with a box of food for the week.  Heather always ensured that Mrs. Higgin’s Saturday night dinner was cooked and only need to be reheated.  Martin found that he had more skills than he expected as he handled snow clearing and household repairs.

Under Dr. P’s supervision, Heather had written the exams for Medical Terminology and Basic Human Biology over the Christmas holidays and had passed with a 98% and a 96%.  So the College awarded her the courses.  Based on those marks they allowed her to take Math Applications for Allied Health Professionals, Transition to Paramedic Care, Introduction to Interpersonal Communication, and College Writing I as independent study courses with Dr. P. as her supervisor.  So when she wrote her exams in May, she passed not only all the second term courses with no mark lower than 90% but she also passed the four additional courses with marks in the 90s.  Jan was incredibly proud of her.

Heather sat down with her Guidance Counselor in April and explained that her deferral from the Army ended on December 31st, the Counselor worked with the program administrators and they found a way for Jan to complete the entire program by the end of December.  The only thing she would not be able to do was write her NREMT exam before boot camp started.  When they spoke with the local recruiting officer, he noted her accomplishments in her file and sent it up the line. 86Ws with an EMT-P rating were desperately needed and Heather would write the first available exam after boot camp.

Martin was excelling as well.  He had received a good grounding working for the Amish butcher in the CoKL.  But now he was learning how to process on a larger scale, how to make sausages, how to smoke meats… He really enjoyed his work and his friendly personality made him popular both at the processor and with the customers.  Wanting to further his studies, he took two on-line courses from Montana State University’s College of Agriculture.  Their Department of Animal and Range Sciences offered two courses that he felt would stand him in good stead – Introduction to Meat Evaluation and Meat Science.  Because he audited the courses he didn’t have to have the prerequisites and only had to pay $100/course.

With those two sorted out, Jan turned to look at the others.  Jamie was going to help her manage the farm and take on-line courses from the College of Agriculture.  At this point he would oversee the livestock operations.  Helping him when they were not in school were Eggie, Kyle and Sama.  Jan organized through the school and the 4-H program, that this work would be viewed as part of their required apprenticeship program.  They were all taking on-line course in their areas of interest.

Eric and his younger brother Tyler were engine and machine mad.  Jan went down to Frontier Repair, a company specializing in heavy equipment repair, and got them to take both boys.  Both of them loved it.  Jan watched as they spent hours tinkering with an old jalopy they had found.  John and David would stand around and hand them tools and be thrilled at being included.

Tom took himself down to Stein’s Market in Eureka and asked to speak with the grocery manager.  He talked his way into an unpaid internship.  Jan marched him back down.

“Mr. Houston,” said Jan.  “I need some clarification.  As Tom’s guardian, I would like to hear from you what this internship entails.”

Mr. Houston withered under Jan’s glare. His dreams of unpaid stock boys vanished and to his own surprise he laid out a two afterschool sessions per week that would entail ordering, projections, client tracking and marketing. Mr. Houston also said that he wanted to arrange for Tom to work at Darigold Distribution to see the process from the other side. Jan nodded and thanked him.

With sixty cows, Sama and Andrea didn’t have a lot of extra time.  But both spent time on the organic farm operation called Amalthia Organic Dairy**, which specialized in raising organic dairy goats.  Andrea went because the Smith family made cheese from their 280 strong goat herd.  The dairy also had whey-fed pigs and Kyle spent time there too, although it might have been the farmer’s daughter who caught his eye. 

“Are you taking Allison Smith to the dance?” Jan asked him.  Kyle blushed and nodded.

“Good.  Now time for the dating/sex talk…  Call all the others in… second though just make it the high school crowd.” Jan directed.

Kyle went and found everyone.  They slowly trickled into the living room and found seats around the kitchen table.  As usual, Jamie sat with his arm around Sarai.

“Okay everyone,” said Jan.  “Here’s the talk we all hate but need to have.  We need to have it for a couple of reasons in part because we are new to each other and new to this community.  You have all told me that you have goals and future plans and to get there we need to get you through the next couple of years without two things – one a criminal record, and two an illegitimate child.”

The kids all blushed and tried to avoid each other but giggled and blushed when they caught each other’s eyes.

“So here are the basic ground rules.  No dating until you are sixteen or in Grade 11.  Never go on dates alone, always with another couple.  I’d like to say no premarital sex but I am going to leave that to each of you and if decide you are, then condoms all the way, and I want you to tell me because I don’t want any of you guys accused of rape… which is really the reason for the no dates on your own.

“Girls, I expect you all to dress modestly.  If you look like you have something for sale, someone will try and grab.

“Okay all of you, I expect you to help each other.  If anyone gets targeted by bullies, I expect you to support your family.  I also expect that you will tell me and the teachers.
“Questions?”

“Are there curfews?” asked Jamie.

“Good question,” said Jan.  “Let’s start out with 9pm on a weekday and midnight on a weekend.  We can reassess on an individual basis and again in a couple of months. Anyone else?”

“Can we have sleep-overs?” asked Gail.

“While we are here in the restaurant, I’m going to say no,” said Jan.  “We really don’t have the space and we are not well enough known in the community.  If you want to go somewhere else, then we’ll discuss and I’ll talk to the parents.

“Now you all have apprenticeships and I would like you to each report to me weekly about what you are learning and any issues you are having.  I will speak to your mentors about the same.  We are new here and I don’t want any of you to become the whipping boys or slave labour.

“On a final note, I expect homework, school work, projects, ect. to be done.  We’ll put a giant calendar on the wall and put the due dates up there.  Also note your tests, events, parties.  Put your stuff up there so that we can make sure everything is done.  Anyone else?”

“Yeah,” said Sama.  “Can we make a rule about no boys in the girls’ room and vice versa?”

“Well that is sensible,” said Jan.

“How about no cursing?” asked Lydie.  “My grandparents had that rule so it shouldn’t be so hard to do.”

“This is a crock!” exploded Connor. “Why are you treating us like such babies!?!”

The other kids started to get annoyed.  As far the they were concerned the rules were pretty sensible.

“Which part of the rules are you objecting to?” asked Jan, keeping her tone level.

“Curfews… dating ages… reporting our work to you…” Connor ticked them off on his hand.

“Why do you think that they are unreasonable?” asked Jan again, wanting to know what he was thinking.

“Well 9:00pm is just so early! And what if the dance goes until midnight... Why do I have to leave early?” he demanded.

“Well during the week, you are picked up by the bus at 7:30am, then in school until 3:30pm, and then you are at the auto shop four days a week until 8pm. So if you still have homework or a test, does 9:00pm not give you enough time to get home and get that done?” asked Jan.

“Yeah… well I guess that makes sense…” Connor muttered.
“And you are quite right, if the dance ends at midnight, then of course you stay to the end and then drop off your date if you have one, but then you come home,” said Jan.

“But what if there are after parties?” demanded Connor.

“What happens at after parties?” asked Jan.

“Well people sit around and…” he stopped.

“That’s when the drinking, the drugs and the trouble starts to happen, right?” said Jan.

“Yeah,” said Connor, his tone still sulky but the point obviously starting to sink in.

“At this point, the reason for the curfew is to ensure that as you settle into the community you don’t end up in the type of trouble that can have a long lasting impact.  I ask about your apprenticeships for the same reason.  I ask about your school work because if you are struggling in something we need to deal with it before it becomes a major issue.  Connor, I promised the other kids that I would guide them through their teens and help them reach their goals.  By joining us, I offer you the same.  But I am not your mother…”

“Well that’s a good thing!” interjected Connor with heavy sarcasm.

“Be that as it may, what I mean is that I am here to be on your side and help you.  The rules are to make sure that you don’t get sidelined on stuff that will forever take away your ability to do what you want,” said Jan.  Connor just nodded that time.  The other kids got up and wandered off.


Jan checked her book.  She had Lydie all set-up with an apprenticeship at the Sunflower Bakery & Coffee House once a week and three afternoons a week baking with Mrs. Amos Yodder.  Gail would be working in the nursery and garden center owned by the Stewart family.  Erin Cody would be apprenticing with Mrs. Issac Yodder learning tailoring and sewing skills.  Despite her best efforts, she had been unable to place the kids with any of the West Kootenai Amish Community. 

*****
“Being tucked away on the far side of the Koocanusa Bridge, they were just too far away,” John told the Committee. “The CoKL Colony had all settled on the east side of the Kootenai River and the feeling that they had been sold defective goods remained for some time.  As the war progressed and the need for soldiers increased, the CoKL Colony used their pacifism to show their support by selling produce to the Army.  The West Kootenai Colony felt that that was a violation of their principles.  The one spring day the Army recruiters arrived in the West Kootenai and CoKL Colonies and asked who was on Rumspringa. All the unbaptized young men were drafted. They became known as the Wehrpflichtiger, the conscripted. It was a crisis moment for both Colonies and the later reintegration of the young men took a lot of work.

“Lydie and Erin both converted and married Wehrpflichtiger.  Lydie ran a bakery and had seven children.  She died in childbirth with the eighth, who did not survive.  Her husband Samuel married again and he brought the children to see mother regularly.  Erin was not quite so lucky.  Her husband had been badly scarred by his experiences on the front lines and in the end hanged himself in their barn.  Erin had found him when she went out to milk.  She continued on their farm and raised their six children.  She put food on the table with the skill of her needle.  Her prayer caps were particularly sought after.

“Gail married Alex Stewart, son of the nursery owner, and they took the garden center into its third generation.  They had two children.  The nursery is now owned by a grandson and is in its fifth generation.

“Heather made the Army her career,” John told the Committee. “Once she had finished basic, she was sent to Fort Sam Houston where her skills were reviewed.  From there she was assigned to a MASH unit and sent to the front lines.  After the war, she applied and was accept to the Inter-service Physician Assistant Program (IPAP).  She was a tough woman but very good at what she did.  She left the service at the end of her 20.  She had married another vet and they settled on 50 acres outside of Kalispell, where she worked in the hospital and taught at the college. 

Her husband was a retired Staff Sergeant named J.A. Ferguson from Havre, Montana.  He always claimed he fell in love with her when he cleared her family’s farm for Relocation west.  The story was the only thing that would make her blush.  He ran their small farm and stayed home to raise their two biological children and five adopted children.  Heather and Jay both lived into their nineties.

The October after he started his apprenticeship, Martin was called up to serve Uncle Sam three days after his 18th birthday.  After the nightmare that was called basic training, he was dispatched to the kitchens, here he found that his period of service was not to be on the front lines, rather it was to be feeding grunts.  He chaffed at what he saw as an easy assignment and got himself reassigned to a mobile kitchen.  He served through until the end of the war.  He came back a hardened 26-year old.  He took his pay, that he had sent home to Mom to be banked, and opened a butcher shop in Rexford.

Uncle Sam came call for Eric too and in due course Jamie, Eggie and Kyle.  As the years and the war dragged on Connor, Tom and Tyler were called in turn.  For so long we were lucky.  We had lost Mary but we knew she didn’t want to come back.  She was on a mission of revenge and as they say, she who seeks revenge starts by digging two graves*.  Tom lost a leg.  He was in supply and making a run between Reno and Nevada City, CA, when his truck was hit.  He was lost to us for a while but he finally came home. He spent years medicating himself with a bottle.  His wife left him and she left their small three children with my mother.  He did finally dry out and took his kids home.  He married again and they were a good team until their deaths about twenty years ago.

“Connor came home but joined up again with a mercenary group doing the things he was trained to do.  He still sent his pay home to our mother.  He was gone for years with only the odd call or postcard.  One day he appeared at my mother’s door with two small children in hand, and behind him stood a woman of Asian ancestry.  He introduced her as his wife Pakpao and their daughter Pen-chan (age 4) and son David (age 2). Young David was named for Connor’s father.  They settled in a small house in Rexford, near Martin and his family.  Pakpao began to run a greenhouse nursery, which soon developed into a thriving business.

“Eggie never came home.  He was listed as MIA, believed KIA, at the Battle of St. Louis.  In her heart of hearts, my mother died believing that one day he would come home.  His name is on the cenotaph but only after a long argument with the Legion and my mother.  She felt that putting it there would be an admission that he was gone.  We just wanted his commitment celebrated.  The Legion just wanted direction.

“For Sama all of the war and its continued destruction was too much.  She retreated more and more to the Amish community and began to walk out with Jonas Yodder.  Amos and his wife were pleased with the match and my mother sat proudly in the Yodder’s drive shed on the day that Sama was baptized.  The next year, Andrea married Martin Yodder, a cousin of Jonas’, and the two young couples settled down next door to each other.  Andrea’s daughters and granddaughters have long since taken over the cheese making business and they too have been very successful at it.

So for the older ones, the war years were defining.  I was coming up to seventeen and ready for my turn when the war ended.  So for me the was no war, but I know the sacrifices that were made.

For my mother life after the war was one of increased happiness.  With my father gone, she was able to lift her head and look.  To her surprise someone was waiting for her.”



======
Notes:
*Confucius “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
**Amalthia Organic Dairy – this is a real organic dairy goat operation but it is located in Bozeman.  I hope that the owners will forgive my moving their operation over to Eureka.  Everything I could read indicates that the Brown’s run a really first class operation.  For more information: http://amaltheiadairy.com/AD2/

 
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on April 21, 2014, 08:46:21 AM
Chapter 35 – Spring melts…

The winter passed quickly.  The kids settled in with each other and the community.  There were still nights of tears as each child in their own way processed the loss of parents, family, friends and homes.  There were the usual school issues of dogs eating homework, lost library books, skipping class, and fights with friends.  But there were also moments of sheer joy as tests were aced, ribbons won at science fairs, badges earned at Scouts and testimonies given at Church.  There was also fear as the draft notices came in.

Jan found herself pulled between pillar and post, trying to be all things to all people.  Missy Donaldson dropped in one day and found her exhausted and crying.

“How many hours sleep you getting?” Missy demanded.

“About five and a half,” admitted Jan in tears.  “Between the babies being up and raring to go at 6am… and… and the older ones wanting to talk at midnight… I’m beat.  My mother-in-law and her new husband are seniors and can’t take on more… my husband has been brain damaged and needs constant monitoring and care… my cousin has moved out to the farm and is living in an old trailer… Oh, Missy, I need help…

“I thought that I would have Jamie here to help but his draft notice came in shortly after his birthday and he was gone like a shot. He left Sarai with a tiny chip on her finger as a promise to come back and she’s been a soggy mess ever since.  Eric, Eggie and Kyle have all receive their draft notices and all three pull out two days after graduation on June 17th.  Sally has been having screaming nightmares about the boys being killed which wake everyone up. John is loving being at school but he is having focus issues and is so easily distracted that he comes home with all his school work still to do.  I may have to go back to homeschooling him right away.

“The Yodders and their team are waiting for the frost to come out of the ground and then they’ll pour footings for the house and barn and then put them up.  We need a new barn for all the dairy cattle.  I can’t believe we have sixty of them, and they are going to start calving soon…”

Missy’s phone rang.  She gave Jan a hug and went and took the call.  Ten minutes later she sat down again with Jan.

“Okay,’ she said. “Here’s what we are going to do.  I work at the school three days a week. I am going to come up here the other two days.  Ginny is also going to come up here two days a week.  We are going to do this until you are in the new house and are fully unpacked.  I’ve spoken with John’s school, they have an aide for him who starts in a week. Now go have a nap.  I’ll wake you for lunch.”

With gratitude, Jan went back to bed.  The room that had originally been hers was now Jones’ and so she had moved her bed into the old cloak room.  With its window and door closed, it worked perfectly.  Jan snuggled between the warm flannel sheets, under her quilts, and fell asleep reassured that all was in good hands. Noon came and went and Missy let her sleep.

Jan woke shortly before 3:00pm.  She reached for her list but instead found herself writing what became a series of letters. Letters that had less to do with their recipient and more to do with needing to talk to someone who knew them but wasn’t directly involved.

*****
… you’d never believe that this was a kid who had never done a science project before.  It was quite impressive too.  He had built identical three simple engines and then showed how each worked with a different brand of motor oil.  He powered them off a lawn tractor.  He was absolutely beaming when the local newspaper took a picture of him.  Here’s the clipping. Even better, the school sent the results to the oil company and they are so impressed that they have awarded him a $10,000 scholarship towards a mechanical engineering degree at Montana Tech.  We really could not be prouder of him!

Missy has been a wonder.  I think I had been operating on a management high for too long.  She and Ginny gave me a couple of days to regroup and pull myself back together.  I’ll be forever grateful for that.  I am also learning, once again to say, I can’t do that.

We have a month until Eric, Eggie and Kyle leave for BCT at Fort Sill and everyone is trying to spoil them in some way. Eric is thrilled to be going to Fort Sill because General Sheridan was based from there and one of his scouts was Eric’ ancestor Buffalo Bill Cody. Eric is showing some rather interesting leadership skills.  He got online and found out what the daily work-out were for BCT (Basic Combat Training), and he then asked the Principle to call a meeting for all the kids who had received draft notices.  Those kids have been working out daily ever since.  They are up at 4:30am and in the school gym by 5:00am.  They have the sit-ups and push-ups down to a fine art and are running five miles a day.  Eric wants to take it up to seven miles so that anything else seems like a walk in the park.  There has also been talk about putting in a ropes course.  They want to pull the Boy Scouts into the building of it and the school is going to give them the land.

The farm is beginning to take shape.  The manure and bedding pile, together with kitchen compost, have steamed all winter and have mellowed to the point of being usable on the kitchen gardens.  We’ve decided where to place the houses and barns.  Fence posts and wire had been ordered and with the frost gone, building starts next week.  So we should be in two weeks today.

Take care.  Stay safe.  Know that we pray for you. All our best, Jan

Sitting in the mess tent outside of St. Louis, Sgt. Donaldson looked at the letter and the newspaper clipping and had to smile.  Looking at the young man sitting next to him, he showed him the clipping.  Jamie’s eyes lit up.

“Good on him! Connor really loves those engines,” he said. “I bet if you bled him, he’d bleed gasoline and motor oil.  The guys are going to be glad they did those workouts.  Wish I had thought to do that. Any word from Matt, sir?”

“No.  Only that his unit is down somewhere involved in the mess around Mobile,” said Donaldson.  “Mary has finished training and she is behind the lines somewhere in Ontario. She’s a very dangerous and quietly angry young woman. You in touch with her?”

“No sir,” said Jamie.  “I didn’t really know her before the train.  She might write Eggie or Kyle.  She used to go to school and work with them, but I wouldn’t count on it.  She won’t do anything that might break her cover.

“On another subject Sir, my unit pulls out tomorrow.  If something happens to me.  Please send this to Tante Jan.  It has another letter for Sara inside.  I have listed you and Tante Jan as my next of kin”

“I will son,” responded Donaldson.  He took the envelope and tucked it into his shirt pocket all the while praying it would never have to be delivered. They shook hands and Jamie left.

*****
“Thankfully he never had to deliver that letter,” John told the Committee.  “My mother watched the cars come up the drive for Mary and Eggie.  She cried for them like her heart was torn in two. It was shortly after 8am on August 30th that they came to tell her about Eggie.  He had listed her as his PNOK.  For many families who watched the War unfold on their television screens, it must have been a nightmare, but we didn’t have television and there is too much going on on the farm in August to be indoors glued to a computer screen.  So we didn’t hear about the Battle of St. Louis until it was over and frankly we didn’t know where any of the boys were so we were no more panicked when we did hear.  Now I know that they are supposed to notify you within 24-hours but we are miles from anywhere. 

“It was two army jeeps that came down our drive.  Nobody wanted to be there.  Not the man from the Legion, not the fresh faced theology grad who was serving as chaplain, nor the local recruiting officer who was given the grim duty, and most certainly not my mother. It was horrifically painful… made even more cruel because there could be no funeral.  He was gone. Blown to kingdom come by a bomb.  It would be nice to say that he died a hero’s death saving a small child or a comrade, but it was a useless waste.  An eighteen year old with a dream of chicken farming was dead.  He had been kind to us younger ones and we missed him.  Both he and Mary had had so much to offer and they were gone… Lost to political ideology and greed.

 “I can remember my mother trying to explain the war to us.  She told us that in this world nothing was free except love.  That Our Heavenly Father gave us skills and the abilities to use them and expected us earn a living. Some earned a lot because much value was placed on their skills.  Others earned less because it was deemed to be of less value. But regardless of whether you dug ditches or baked bread or carried out complicated surgery, you earned a living.  Nobody had the right to sit around and expect others to take care of them or their children because they were too lazy to get off their hind ends.  The expectation that all should be provide for free could be taken too far.

“She also told us that equality happened out of earned respect.  The colour of your skin, who you worshiped, your country of origin, should play no part.  But if you choose to move to a nation with its own culture and faith, you should not expect the inhabitants of that nation to set aside their culture and beliefs to accommodate yours. You are not more equal than the citizens of the country you move to.  That is what had happened in Canada, in many parts of Europe, in the US...”

Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on April 21, 2014, 08:47:49 AM
Chapter 36 – Barn raising…

At 6:00am on the 24th of May… on the Queen’s Birthday*… the two teams of barn builders broke ground for the house and barns.  Added to the team were various community members who had come to know the McConnell clan.  The guys from Frontier Repair had brought cranes.  Amos Yodder admitted they had never worked with a crane crew before but happily admitted that things sure moved a treat faster when the logs, rafters and ridge poles were lifted in place. By 4pm on the first day the first 100 man crew had Jan’s log house and the Schmidt’s frame house raised, fitted together, sub floors in and tarped.  The second 100 man team had the log cattle barn, the drive shed and garage done.

The men who worked ranged in age from Johnny Knapp, age 16, to Ernest Knapp, aged 60. The speech was mostly in Pennsylvania German with English spoken as needed. Around them ran what seemed to be another hundred boys who fetched and carried and learned from watching. John and David and the Three Amigos were in the thick of things.  When they were tired of that, they headed to the field and played baseball.  The young men worked with as much skill as their elders.  When Jan asked Sarai Yodder about it the answer back was simple.

“Of course our young men build well.  They learn as small children, participate from the age of sixteen and by the time they are twenty-one have often been part of the building of more than ten barns,” Sarai Yodder, wife of Amos, told her.

Throughout the day, Jan and the girls served an endless supply of coffee, tea, milk and water, to the over 200 men working in the two teams. Lydie and Sarai Yoder had a table full of tasty sweet breads, doughnuts, 20 large cakes (raisin cake, bundt cake, and chocolate cake), dozens of cookies, 130 pies (lemon pie with huge hats of meringue, sugar pie, pecan pie, raspberry pie, strawberry-rhubarb pie, and a single Saskatoon berry pie) and 200 tarts (raisin butter tarts, blueberry tarts and almond custard tarts).  There were also huge bowls of tapioca pudding, applesauce and cornstarch pudding. Andrea had contributed some of her soft cheeses.  At 12noon, the wives of other team members served an enormous lunch – pans of roast chicken, thick slices of hams and peameal bacon with slathers of Russian honey mustard, schnitzel, roast beef, sour kraut, 14 pails of potato salad,3-bean salad, bowls of leaf lettuce, sliced tomatoes, at least seven different types of pickles, and hard boiled eggs.  Jan had never seen such a layout of food.

The men sat at trestle tables and ate off china dishes and used real silver ware, bought a piece at a time from a thousand yard sales. When all were seated, Bishop Miller stood and a quiet grace was said over the food.  The food was put on the table and each ate according to his hunger.  They ate quickly with so much to do.  Small children perched on knees and ate off their parents or siblings plates.  There wasn’t a lot of chatter.  Within the half hour, men were rising from the table and heading back to work and the women began the enormous task of washing dishes.  The food table looked like it had swarmed, but there was enough left to feed the McConnell clan that evening.

While the buildings were going up, Rachel Yodder, wife of Isaac, and a couple of other women plowed the ten acres of the home garden.  They had pretty little Haflinger mares, that pulled well and were easily managed. One of Rachel’s daughters then began to spread the manure.  A second daughter followed behind discing it in.  Jan then brought out her cold frames and with a wall of hay bles to protect them from the north winds, the frames were faced south and filled with more manure, top soil and salad seedlings.  The manure in the soil raised the temperature enough to allow for the planting of peas.

On the second day, the walls, windows and doors went into the house.  The outhouses were dug, the hand pumps were connected to the drilled wells.

Shortly after 1pm, Stewart’s Nursery arrived and began to erect as 30’x10’ greenhouse on the end of her small one attached to the garage.  Jan was dismayed.

“I didn’t order this!” She protested.

“Oh we aren’t giving it to you,” said Dan Stewart.  “Its been paid for.”

“By whom?” Jan asked, panic rising…

“It’s from Gideon & Melissa Donaldson and Tyler Donaldson, with thanks for the care, affection and amazing turn around you’ve effected in their nephew,” Dan told her with a huge grin.

“Oh wow!” said Jan, her eyes bright.

“Surprise!” shouted Missy, giving her a hug.

Jan fanned her eyes and Connor came over and hugged her too.

“You gave me a life,” he told her.  “If I’d stayed with my mom, I’d probably be dead or in jail by now.  Instead I have a scholarship and a future.”

Jan hugged Connor back.  “You did that yourself.”

“I told them that you dreamed of one like this,” said Connor.  “Did I get it right?”

“Oh boy did you ever,” said Jan fervently.

She had one of the ladies take a photo of herself, John, Connor, Gid & Missy in front of the assembled greenhouse.

*****
…Its gorgeous!  It really is.  I already have pepper and cucumber seedlings in there.  I have used one of the interior partitions to create a cucumber house.  There used to be this show on YouTube called the Victorian Kitchen Gardner with this amazing head gardener named Harry Dodds.  He had the most amazing glass houses and these long glass tubes for growing straight cucumbers – apparently the natural curve of a cucumber was too naughty and suggestive to be eaten by proper Victorian ladies.  Anyways… I was at an auction a decade or so ago and bought a box of them.  So we’ll give them a try.  Lord knows the girls get giggly at anything naughty or suggestive.

The rest of the greenhouse is filling up with seedlings.  We are still firing up the wood stove at night to keep it warm.

It was an incredibly generous gift.  Thank you.

Stay safe, Jan.

He sat there in a tent, along the front line south of Vicksburg and ran his finger over the picture.  He knew the letter off by heart.  He looked at the boy laid out on the cot, his shoulder bandaged.

“Not to worry,” said the surgeon stopping by to look at the chart.  “Farm boys are remarkably resilient.  It was a through and through.  Minimal damage.  He one of yours?”

“Not in the way that you mean,” said Donaldson. “He was one of the kids whose families were relocated.  Parents were killed.  This woman on the train took in him and his 19 siblings and cousins.  By the time they reached Eureka, Montana, she’d taken on eleven more, including my nephew.”

“That’s one hell of a woman!” exclaimed the surgeon.

“Sure is,” said Donaldson. “Not sure what any of these kids would have done without her. She also adopted a couple of old people.”  He handed the surgeon the photo of Jan with all the kids.

“Pretty thing,” mused the surgeon, his brain already moving on to the next case.

“Yeah… but married,” sighed Donaldson.

“Well at least she has support.  If I ever get home, I’m going to find me one like that too,” said the surgeon.  The smile in the photo stayed with him as moved on down the row. ‘Yep,’ he thought. ‘Once this war is over, I’m a gonna find me one like that and we’ll settle back into the mountains and raise a family. No more fancy city girls for me…’

The boy on the cot stirred and Donaldson refocused his ttention as the kid opened his eyes and look at him with pain and confusion.

“What? Sarge?” the eyes closed in pain.

“None of that now,” said Donaldson quietly and in a firm voice. “Just tell me Matt, what the hell am I supposed to tell your Tante Jan?!?!

*****
“You know,” John said to the Committee.  “It was the first time one of us was injured, but it wouldn’t be the last.  Donaldson kept an eye out for all of them as much as he could.  It actually became a bit of a joke.  I think it was after Kyle got hit that we heard about the joke.  The kids Donaldson watched out for had become known as his Ducks.”

One of the Committee members barked with laughter. After a moment, a couple more got the joke and laughed too.

“Yeah, they became known as Donaldson’s Ducks.  Later they added a patch to their uniforms… unofficial and all but it was of a bright yellow rubber duck.”

The Congressman from Colorado looked up sharply. “There was a man in my Grandfather’s unit called Duckie Ball. We used to laugh about the name.”

“Yes, that was my brother… Kyle Ball,” John told him.  “He married a girl he met in the army.  She was a midwife and practical nurse.  They settled near her hometown of Fruita, Colorado, but eventually they came back to Rexford and bought a house across from Martin in Rexford.  She hung out her shingle and worked as a midwife for the community. Kyle raised pigs on some land outside of town and sold them direct to Martin.  If I recall correctly they had six children.

“They had a Ducks reunion about five years after the war ended.  Men came from all over to give thanks to Donaldson.  Over the course of the war he had risen to the rank of Master Sergeant.  As an enlisted man, he was proud to have risen so high.  He was a doer and wanted nothing more than to be able to lead men in battle. He did so and that he brought most of them home again was a testament to his leadership.”


=====
* “The 24th of May is the Queen’s Birthday.  If we don’t get holiday, we’ll all run away.”  The 24th of May is a statutory holiday in Canada.  The Queen referenced is Queen Victoria.  One of our most popular holidays, often referred to as the “two-four”, in Southern Ontario, it is generally considered the start of the cottage season, the start of the growing season, the start of summer…

Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on April 21, 2014, 08:49:04 AM
Chapter 37 – Small Casualties…

The parking lot of the R&R gas station in Dryden, Virginia, had sprouted a MASH unit.  It was the only building left standing in the community of just over 1,200 people.  There was a constant flow of casualties coming in from the battle at Big Stone Gap.  The Blues had opened the gates of the Wallens Ridge State Prison and armed the inmates as they left.  Amazingly, they were surprised when the first order of business in the inmates mid was to eliminate those who armed them.  The Red had then had a series of running battles with some inmates, while others were trying to join them to fight the Blues.  It was an unmitigated mess with no one sure who was fighting who.  And as anyone will tell you battles in the mountains have less to do with current issues and more to do with century old patterns of inter and intra-familial tribal warfare.  The patterns were set in the highlands and borderlands of Scotland and brought with them to North America.

Dr. George Anderson had been treating men all day, when the first child was brought in.

“Her name is Sadie Bishop.  The name is supposed to mean something but I can’t figure out what the woman is saying, and given her level of wounds we won’t find out either.  Her friend Ellie Gilbert is outside waiting for the next surgeon.  Both were covered in wood spliters.  Most have been removed but you can see there the big ones need some more delicate work.  Their house sustained a direct hit and the lumber became flying matchsticks,” said the nurse.

The surgeon looked at the large piece of lumber sticking out of the child’s back.  It took them almost 35 minutes to remove it and reinflate her lung.  He kept her sedated for another 24-hours to make sure that there was minimal movement.  Her friend Ellie had a broken leg but was otherwise fine.  The nursing staff had great fun with the girls, braiding their hair and painting their nails. For two weeks the girls were papered and made pets of by the wounded soldiers.  But the issue of what to do with them was a big one.  Both girls were six-years old.  The woman caring for them was dead.  They had each other but no one else.  Both were only children and neither knew where their parents had gone.

It was Anderson who came up with the idea.

“Back at Vicksburg,” he told his CO, “there was this Staff Sergeant named Donaldson who had worked with some of the Relocated families.  His unit had worked as an escort unit for a family that went to Montana.  Along the way the woman took in 31 war orphans.  Perhaps she can take our little ones.  We’re pulling out in 2-days and we can’t leave them here or take them with us.”

“Chr--t on a bicycle… couldn’t you find someone closer!” exclaimed the CO.

“Well just about anything closer would put them back in the middle of the war.  At least Montana is currently out of the conflict zone,” pointed out the Chief Nurse.  Blonde, stacked and actually named Margaret, she resented any suggestion that she might be this war’s answer to Hot Lips Houlihan.

“Okay…” said the CO in a cranky tone. “Get my clerk to get it organized.”

*****
Jan stood on the train station platform in Kalispell with ten-year old Sally Cody.  It was seven months since they had arrived on the platform.  Seven months of back breaking work, incredible joy and shattering pain.  They had all settled into the new house.  The kids had done well in school and it was decided to keep them there for the next year.  With assistance John had improved to the point that Jan was willing to keep him there too.

The week before, Gid had arrived with a telegram from Dr. George Anderson, the surgeon who had fixed Matt.  It asked if she could take in two more war orphans from Virginia.  Jan agreed provided there was a stipend or something to help get them started.

The train pulled in and a young female Private got off with two girls in BDUs someone had cut down for them.  Sadie was starting to bounce again and Ellie was getting around on crutches.  Jan signed for them and then took them to McDonalds to get something to eat.  Sally chatted away with them as they drove to the huge Salvation Army Thrift Store in Kalispell.  The girls went wild.  Jan explained that in their house, modest dress was appropriate.  So the girls picked long skirts, t-shirts with sleeves and Bermuda-length shorts.  They each got a sparkly purse and a raincoat.  They were also able to get some sandals, runners and rubber boots.  At the back, Jan was able to get two twin mattresses and some pillows.

While they were in town, the boys had built another set of bunk beds for the girls’ room.  With the addition of Sadie and Ellie there were now eleven girls in the room. Agnes and Inga had just graduated from the Puppy Room, which housed all the pre-school kids and toddlers.  Sadie and Ellie were given the top bunks with Agnes and Inga below.  Sally, Erin, Gail and Lydie were in another set of four bunks.  Sama, Andrea and Sara all had single beds.  The girls had chosen a sunny yellow for the walls.  The wood trim was all painted white. 

On the walls, the girls had painted several quotes:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.  1 Timothy 4:12

and

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

It all looked fresh and clean and welcoming to the two small girls from Virginia.

Over the next several days, the girls led them around the farm.  They met all the other who lived on the farm.  They admired the rabbits and chickens, but were surprised when they asked their names and they were called either lunch, dinner or BBQ.  They thought that was gross.  So Sally pointed out that,

“This is called a farm because we eat what we grow here.”

“My daddy had a farm too but we didn’t eat anything from it!” said Sadie hotly.

“Did you have animals?” asked Sally.
“We had horses,” said Sadie.

“We have horses too.” Sally told her.  “We have two teams of horses to pull the tractor and seven riding horses.  Can you ride?”

Sadie hung her head.  “I can.  Really I can.  I know I didn’t win any ribbons last year but I can ride.”

“She’s really good.  She can even go over small jumps!” said Ellie with pride for her friend.

“We don’t do a lot of that type of riding.  We go on trail rides and see special places in the mountains,” Sally told her.  “Did you like doing competitions?”

“No,” Sadie said.  “But Daddy wanted me to because then he could talk to other parents and do business.  Mommy did lots of competitions.  She had a whole room full of ribbons and silver trophies.  If I can ride and not have to do competitions that would be good.”

“We’ll talk to Tante Jan about it.  She’s in charge of the horses and nobody touches a horse without her saying it’s okay.” Sadie could see that Sally was serious.  She also liked that these people had horses and a good barn, even if she didn’t think that they should be pulling tractors.

Sally then took them over and showed them the Belgian team.  They were huge and Sadie backed up so fast she toppled Ellie on her crutches.  They went down in a pile and Sally had to call in David to help her get the girls straightened up again.  David became Ellie’s hero as the boy helped her up and got her crutches back the way they should.  But both girls were hurting after the fall so Sally took them back to the house and got them some ice tea.  She sat them out on the porch in the big arm chairs and the both soon fell asleep.  Sally covered them with quilts and then sat and watched over them while she did mending.  She really admired what Erin could do and wanted to be able to sew just like her, so Erin was teaching her to darn socks, fix rips at knees and hem skirts and pants.

Jan stood at the front door and smiled at Sally giving her a big thumbs up.  She turned and went back to her desk.

Dear Dr. Anderson,

The girls arrived safely and are settling in as well as can be expected.  I gather that our farm is a bit of a letdown for Sadie who was expecting a large horse farm like her parents had.  Ellie seems to be awed with everything.  She is hobbling around well and we have taken her to our local medical clinic, where they have confirmed your file and that the green stick fracture is healing well.  They want to give it another 6-weeks or so before the cast will come off.  Given the un-level nature of the farm property and all the activity happening here, the doctors felt it better to give Ellie the support for that bit longer.

They both seem to be settling in well and are mixing well with the other girls.  The boys still think frogs are more interesting than girls but Sadie may give them all a run for their money if she can leave the entitled princess attitude behind.

We heard last week from Sgt. Donaldson and our boys, whom I gather are now called his Ducks, are all well.  Matt has recovered, and our thanks to you for you work on his shoulder.

My regards to you and your colleagues.  Please know that we will pray not only to a rapid end to this conflict but also for your safety.

Regards, Jan McConnell

Sealing the envelope, Jan went to get dinner started with Grandma, Sara and Erin.  Lydie had brought home a new dessert today from the Yodders - five gooey caramel pies.  She was working perfecting her pastry crust, so the family was eating a lot of pie these days.  It wasn’t that anyone objected but Jan was starting to dream of cake.
Title: Re: Story - Neighbours
Post by: Lake Lili on April 21, 2014, 08:58:26 AM
Chapter 38 – Soldiers…

The voices shouted the Soldier’s Creed as the graduating class of Fort Sill’s BCT stood at attention on the parade ground.

I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

“Hooah” shouted the soldiers.

Jan clapped as she watched her crew match in formation across the parade ground. Heather beamed with pride as she watched her brothers march.

At home their letters had been read and re-read with interest.

Kyle always talked about the weather… 
It’s hot today and always windy.  The dust is something else.  It blows through the ranges and barracks. You always feel like you have grit at your collar and boulders in your eyes.  I am so glad that I have a ton of Visine.  My combat buddy’s eyes are always streaming, which got him nicknamed Baby… short for cry-baby.  Since he’s 6’4” and 250-lbs it’s kind of funny but he is letting it go which is standing him in good stead.  He’s hoping to do something that will get him a better name.

Eggie was obsessed with the bathrooms…
When we arrived and were at reception they called the bathrooms Latrines.  The stalls are just about the only privacy you get.  You sure don’t get any in the showers.  It’s just one big room with a bunch of shower heads coming out of the wall.  You sure don’t want to piss off the Drill Sergeant or you’ll end up on your hands and knees with a toothbrush cleaning out the grout.  Once we got over to Basic, the showers had stalls.

Eric seemed to be concerned about sleep…
When we started at reception at the 95th, we slept in these large rooms called bays, in bunk beds.  The guy above me was enormous and we were both terrified that the bunk would collapse and squish me.  We asked to switch and were told no. Thank God! When we got over to Basic we all had single beds.

We had to wake up at 5am when we were at reception, some days it seemed earlier.  I am so glad that we had been doing it at home and it was a part of our routine.  Some of the guys have really struggled. When we got basic, we were up at 5am with formation at 5:30am and PT at 6am.  PT is such a cake walk after the routine we put ourselves through.  The twelve of us from Lincoln County High School have shown ourselves well.  Adam gets in trouble here too but I think he may be finally learning to keep his mouth shut.  The Drill Sergeants work us heard but they deserve a ton of respect for whipping us into shape.  Lights go out by 10pm and by that time we are all wiped.

They had been able to spend family day together.  Eric’s combat buddy’s family were not able to come, as they were behind the blue/red lines.  Max was welcomed by Jan and she took the boys out for lunch at Burgess Grill.  The guys had been told the burgers were fantastic and they were right.  Jan didn’t mind the cash only sign as she didn’t have a credit card.

The two days were a gift.  The guys were headed out to AIT training.  Eggie and Kyle were going on MOS-13B, a 5 week cannon crew course.  Eric and Max were headed to MOS-13R, a 7-week FireFinder Radar Operator course.  Jan suspected that Eric was going to prove extremely good at his job.  She was glad that his leadership skills were being recognized.  But she worried about Eggie and Kyle.  They were going to be learning to operate howitzer cannons.  Perhaps it was just the word canon that concerned her.  She didn’t want to lose any of her boys and fodder was the word that was coming to mind.  Regardless of her thoughts, she smiled and encouraged and supported them in their eagerness.

She was exhausted though as she and Heather headed back to their hotel room.  Heather had taken the opportunity, while at Fort Sill to speak with the ranking medic and review her course load.  She would be finished by December and head to BCT at Fort Sill in January and then on to Fort Sam Houston for her ATI. 

Heather was glad of the chance to see Eric before he headed out.  Her brother was suddenly growing up and the young man who had left home ten weeks prior was morphing into an adult.  She wondered what he would be like when he came home again.  The war was heating up again and the Mississippi was being fought for town by town.

****
“My mother and Heather had been home two weeks when they got an excited call from Kyle and Eggie.  They were pulling out the next day.

“But you are supposed to be in training for another 3weeks!” exclaimed Jan.

“Well we’re needed now,” Eggie told her. “There is a big offensive coming up and we are headed in. Thanks again for coming to Grad!  Here’s Kyle…”

Jan could hear them all laughing. 

“We’re off Tante Jan!” said Kyle with a smile in his voice. “Pray for us and keep the wood stove burning.” 

There was huge background laughter to this and Jan recognized the bravado.

“You boys go do your jobs and come home when you’re done it,” said Jan. “Watch your backs and each other and remember that… well remember to come home no matter what happens.

*****
“As I told you before,” John said to the Committee, “Eggie didn’t survive that first engagement.  His howitzer took a direct hit and they were gone.  All the training in the world would have made no difference but my mother always felt that if he’d had the last three weeks training, he would have been sent somewhere else and perhaps survived.  Kyle just said that there is a bullet out there with everyone’s name on it and some day it will be fired.  If you are lucky, you’ll be tying your shoe lace or ducked into the latrine, but otherwise you just need to be ready to meet your maker.

“Mom was angry for a long time about Eggie’s loss.  She felt like she had failed somehow in her duty to protect him.  Finally Todd Stewart got her to talk to the shrink that the police used after a shooting.  He got her straightened out.  But meantime the harvest had to be brought in and with the boys gone it was a lot of hard work for us all.  The steers and hogs had gone down to the Lower Valley Processing Company, although Martin had since left for BCT with an ATI in MOS-13M learning about multiple launch rocket systems as crew.  Martin had pulled out in September.  With Eggie’s death, he had gone to his recruiting officer and asked that he go immediately rather than wait until his 18th birthday in October. My mother cried but she did understand.  She was just grateful that I was too young.”

“Word also began to filter through that had been deaths and serious injuries amongst the Wehrpflichtiger and that the communities were having difficulty coping with how to treat them. It had not been a one time grab, and the recruiting officers swept through the colonies several times a year.  The community struggled with how to integrate these young men after they had been forced to break a principle ordnung and there were fracture lines showing in the West Kootenai Colony over this.  Six families who had not had sons forced to serve, broke away. Upright and ridged in their purity of ideal and terrified that the Army might come for their daughters next. Meanwhile, the rest decided that what had been done before baptism, like all sins, would be washed away by the waters of baptism. With the souls of the Wehrpflichtiger sorted out, there remained only their physical bodies to deal with.  In the spirit of community assistance, my mother went and opened the boy’s bunk house for these young men.  Dr. P and Dr. Flute worked with them daily with Heather spelling them on weekends. Bishop Miller came several times a week to minister to them and their families came and went. With space to lick their wounds so to speak, the young men began to heal much more quickly.

“Over time the break-away colony began to have issues.  More than once, we had young women arrive at our door in the night seeking safety from hard physical abuse and attempts at forced marriage.  My mother sheltered them and helped them with the legal emancipation and then helped them find a family with the CoKL or the West Kootenai Colonies.  Gradually the Wehrpflichtiger settled back into the community, marrying and building lives.”