Tillamook, part 17

Remember yesterday when I wrote I have more to write? In the IV Room at DayJob today I realized those 1100 words are shit and won’t work in the story flow. I’ll try again this weekend.

That means I’m going to dump what I have on you and hope I can lay down another 2000+ words this weekend. Not likely as I’ve got to pdf format “A Texas Naval Affair” for Createspace. So much to do; so little time. There may be another bunny with a pancake on its head.

Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer!

Not at all happy to hear that, they came within earshot of the others.  The mayor was speaking.

“…as I’m sure you saw from the air, Sire, old Route Six is our only road connection to Portland.  It cuts through some of the worst of the Cascade Range and is washed out in a dozen places.  Horses and some carts make it but I don’t think large trucks could.”

“What about the old Pacific Coast Highway?” the king asked around a piece of cheese in his mouth.

“North?  Pretty good condition, Sire, all the way to Astoria, which about how any replacement goods ever come to our town,” the mayor answered.  “South?  Much like Route Six, it breaks up about a dozen miles from here.”

“No way for you to maintain it?” Rhun asked, taking a swig of local wine from the bottle, even at eleven AM.

“I’m sorry, Sire, but no.” The mayor looked left and right at some of his entourage.  “We’re a small farming and fishing village.  That kind of civil engineering is beyond our means.”

“Haven!” Teresa called.  He flinched.  “Weren’t you a civil engineer at PSU?”

“Apologies, Ma’am,” he replied.  “That was a friend of mine.  I was finishing my Masters in mechanical engineering when things, ah, well…”

“No help at all,” she huffed.  “Please, Your Majesty.”

There was a pause as they all heard a third plane in the sky.  Three in one day? Gil marveled.  There will be people from all over the county coming in…

“My King?” the mayor asked, looking out and up at the sky.

“Some additional security for me,” Rhun said easily.  “Can’t afford to be abducted by Haven’s Russians, now, can I!”

Gil knew what that son-of-a-bitch just did to him and hated him even more.

“Let’s get to the town’s square for a little speech and meet-and-greet,” the king said with a smile and a wave outside.  “After that, well, we’ll see!”

Tillamook did not have anything like a town square.  With more people on horseback and families in horse-drawn carts pouring into the town to see what all the excitement was about, Gil stood at the back of the crowd and listened to the mayor frantically give instructions over a radiophone to get a little dais put up in the greenspace two blocks north of City Hall and along the Stillwell Slough.

By just after noon about one hundred and fifty people, now aware of who the VIP was, were facing northeast towards the small platform.  Four guards in homespun, but with machine pistols, stood up there with more on either side.  With nothing like a PA system, Rhun jogged and leapt up onto the small stage from the back, waving his arms smiling at those he considered his subjects.  Gil wasn’t so sure about that.  Rhun launched into a short speech, his voice pitched to carry.

“Not a bad public speaker,” Gil knew Teresa had just come up to behind his right.  “For a barbarian.”

“Feel the need to be a martyr, Gil?” she asked.

“A witness to what, Trees?  Things here have been settled for a generation.” Gil paused.  “This is not about me.  What has spooked them?”

“He already told you:  Alaska.  Vancouver and Victoria are next,” she said very softly, both of them at the back left of the crowd.  Gil had picked that if he had to run away.  No longer in town on the roof of the old theater, Joe was now home helping their mother pack for two weeks, not one.

“So his kingdom is next?” Gil spat.  “Huns.  Russians.  Just leave us alone.”

“You and Mackenzie have been.  Have been very lucky.” Teresa said softly.

Gil spun about.

“You!  How do you…!”

“Hush.  Look forward before anyone notices,” she said with no change at all to her face.  “I’m not a idiot, Gil.  Rhun might not have picked up on it, but I did.  Is…”

She hesitated.

“Is your family okay?” she asked.

Lying?  Testing?  Or is this real?  He didn’t know.

“You tell me in one or two days.  We just want to be left alone, Teresa,” he replied, pretending to look back at the king’s address.  He seemed to be reaching some kind of conclusion.

“Did you love Nichole?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“She and I, for politics and espionage, pretended to be lesbian lovers; that’s what my father thought,” Portland’s concubine said.  “But I loved her, too.”

“And now?  Am I the scapegoat for the Russian hegemony?” He let his hand move toward the small of his back.  It might be all over now.

“No.  I’ll talk Rhun out of it.”

There was cheering to whatever the king had concluded.  Gil clapped politely.  He was surprised when she took the sleeve of his jacket and led him another block west, away from everyone.  To where another squad of the Nation’s troops waited on horseback, minding a well built mule-drawn cart.

“What is…?” he began.

“Route Six still support horse troopers,” Teresa said, back in her professional voice.  “These arrived some hours ago.  Our King shall be vanishing from the locals in minutes but needs a place for the night.”

Teresa stopped and reached her hand up to touch Gil’s face for the first time in twenty years.

“Your place.  Use your walkie-talkies.  Either tell your family to evacuate and have one hell of a story for your king to cover that, or have Mac start making dinner.  Now.”

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