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Patriots in Exile

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  • Patriots in Exile

    Author's note: Hopefully less of a fart in the breeze, as scratch called my last (admittedly bad) story.


    This is not the story of ambitious people, this is not a story about hope or love or anything like goodness, this is the story of a bar, old planks of broken down ships and steel and palm trees.

    The guy who built the bar, he called it Duster’s and most nights long lines of coke would fly up nostrils over and over again.

    The perfect white beach stopped at Duster’s, the sun stopped at the palm trees, Duster’s was just out of reach, and everyone seemed to like it that way.

    Old men sat by the ancient pinball machine guzzling down rums with coke in sweaty little plastic cups. The gringos go to Dusters, everyone knows that. It’s not a tourist bar or anything; just a bar somehow set up for runaway Americans and on a good night it’s crawling with them.

    A man with a guitar and a Che Guevara tattoo on his shoulder sings songs he remembers, his busted old guitar pushed to the limit with his playing songs like American Pie, or Midnight Rider.

    People slumped up to the barstools and remembered with each other how things used to be, before there were armed guards on the street corners in Boston, before the United Revolutionaries of America.

    Whiskey and Coke with a Lime, they called it an America Libre, and the people who came here drank them by the gallon, toasting loudly every chance.

    The bar sat open to the beach and cool breezes floated up from the water, the bartender calls out to the man with the guitar, “Jim, play me something from the old country.”

    Jim plays Nirvana, Jim plays Bruce Springsteen, Jim plays old folk songs that are out of place on a beach with a full moon glaring down on it.

    Night after night people snort coke off of the bar, what else is the point of being in Columbia?

    “I remember when I knew I had to leave,” is what they say at the bar between lines.

    People tell of neighborhoods invaded by URA cells, enormous dark Cossacks, all speaking Russian or some other barbaric tongue. People like that, they don’t work with the community at all, they aren’t good neighbors, but they didn’t have loud parties, so that wasn’t enough to evict them. They spoke in Dutch of revolution, and then the FBI report came out, and then those arrests so quickly followed by that nasty jailbreak; and as these strange young revolutionaries fought their war against the forces of old and corrupt and evil, they only succeeded in giving their opponents more power to abuse the populace and a more credible image.

    Then it’s enough, and for these people it was Columbia.

    “A nice, stable country,” people at the bar laugh.

    “I came here for the coke,” most of them will confess in private, but then there are people who never take lines off the bar.

    Jim takes long lines off the bar all night long, until he’s crying and quoting George Washington and talking about America, in the fondest memories, and wishing he had gone to law school or at least done something to keep his life on track after he had graduated from Yale.

    Nobody at the bar knew if Jim had really gone to Yale or not, and a few endorsed the possibility that dementia had set in.

    Dementia had set in, all over the world and these Americans came here to destroy themselves in emulation of their country, all the strange emotions we have left from the Scotch-Irish roots, all the Americanism was gone, and so here they were, life wasn’t worth living.

    Nobody claimed that this Columbian beach was life, no matter how scenic the sunsets this was just grinding on.

    Spooky Jim chain smokes cigarettes at the edge of the bar, staring at the beach.

    He’s got dark, leathery skin and the sort of grey hair that seems like the natural progression of a life that was just too hard to worry about coloring it.

    Before his hair went grey Spooky Jim used to work as one of those specialized riot cops that infested the U.S. over the last several years, he fired rubber bullets into crowds, he was rough with suspects.

    Spooky Jim had a wife and family, he was invested in the system, he was a child of law and order. One of his kids was trampled at a petting zoo. Spooky Jim tells sick, weird stories like that. It was bound to happen, Spooky Jim tells you, sooner or later. That petting zoo, with it’s unroped ponies and tall calves beginning to show the first signs of real life, filling out, with it’s goats and their sharp cleft hooves.

    Kids used to buy drugs in that parking lot, cocaine and ecstasy, back then Spooky Jim didn’t touch the stuff, back then he had things worth living for.

    Just one drug deal goes bad, just one loud pop of gunfire, children standing nearby all jerk their heads to see what’s happening and the animals, this zoo had no ropes holding them back, this was the cheap little zoo that city kids went to.

    The animals went absolutely wild.

    Raw terror in the eyes of the once gentle ponies, soft fur becomes hard, tough hooves, three animals trampled Spooky Joe’s son.

    Three months later the Frisco Riot happened, and Spooky Joe was called in, shooting tear gas into the crowd, hosing down the violent ones, trying to lend some control to the situation.

    The Frisco riots were three days long, people on the streets, yelling screaming. Spooky Joe goes home one of those nights to find that his house is burned down and a sign left in his lawn read “**** Pigs.”

    His wife was among the almost three thousand people who disappeared during the Frisco riots. Things went bad on those nights, and everyone was always on edge. Spooky Jim worked the day after his house was burned down, his story wasn’t that uncommon, there was a strong anti-police bent to the events of Frisco, and hundreds of cops lost their homes to the wanton destruction.

    Spooky Jim chain smokes cigarettes and when he takes a line off the bar he sits and tells stories to the bartender about breaking up demonstrations, about intimidating the press, about savage beatings he once gave to a pair of sixteen year olds with ties to the United Revolutionaries.


    Jim tried to play ‘Rocky Raccoon’ once at Dusters, the bartender gave him a hard stare and said, “Don’t play that limey **** in my bar.”


    Little fires on the beach are where people hide when they’ve had too much of the coke fueled madness of the bar. Out by those little bonfires people sit in small crowds, on a good night three or four bonfires will light up the Caribbean night. The people out on the beach they stare off into the night with stars reflected in their hugely dilated pupils, they talk about their dreams and their hopes and they act like things are going to get better for them, that this too shall pass.

    Out at the bonfires they say things like “I know it’s not a party if it happens every night.” But tomorrow night they’ll be there again.

    Out by the fires, out away from the loud cheering at the America Libre’s and the loud snorting of cocaine, where the music is only a gentle echo, people gently sip beers and smoke cheap south American cigarettes by the carton.

    Out there Barbra smiles her close-lipped, caved in smile and chain smokes cheap Columbian cigarettes. Barbra’s a pretty woman, tall and skinny with the long bright hair of an angel and the dark, easy tan of a person who spends all their days on the beach.

    Years ago, Barbra reminds everyone, it was all the rage to get the enamel in your teeth marked, colored, and as the fad grew people even had writing and political slogans embedded forever in their teeth.

    Kids went by in the street with hideous smiles, long, tedious quotes inscribed in their jaws, but the teeth were brushed, and they promised that if you looked close enough you could read the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence, or see some obscene picture that some vanity dentist had put on it.

    Vanity dentistry was all the rage too, kids rushed through dental school and they couldn’t clean a cavity properly, they had to get certified as a dentist of course, but they never did what a real dentist would consider work, they called themselves artists and they openly scoffed anyone who thought less of them.

    The guy who did Barbra’s teeth never got certified as a dentist, he was cheap and quick and didn’t ask for any paperwork, he was a tattoo artist looking for some extra cash, and he thought he knew how to do it.

    Needles sharp enough drilled into her teeth on the needle, chips of tooth fell away and the tattooist dragged his needle across her teeth, drilling in. There was blood, but Barbra was drunk and barely conscious, her friends started screaming before she noticed a tooth had fallen out.

    Infections were already flaring up in the gums beneath the teeth that didn’t fall out immediately and she spent everything she made on dental work for months until she gave up and started wearing teeth.

    Barbra doesn’t even wear teeth anymore unless she’s eating, that’s where her life has gone since then.

    Barbra smiles her tight lipped caved in smile while the bartender makes jokes as she wanders back out to the bonfires, beers clutched in her hands and cradled in her arms.

    Barbra drinks all night until even the moon has given up and crawled to sleep, Barbra yells obscenities at the sunrise and wanders drunkenly down the beach.


    Cops never come to Dusters, nobody important ever comes to Dusters. No roads lead to Dusters, it’s the secret of the Americans in this little corner of Columbia, people who jog on the beach for miles to get there.

    Dusters is a loud, noisy place, but there’s still an unmistakable feeling of despair. It’s an endless party and the only thing anyone ever wants to know was “When can I go home?”

    Dusters isn’t an evil place, but all those displaced Americans still realize that home is gone.

    All those displaced Americans, night after night snorting coke and wasting away on the beach and they realize, “I look forward to this?”

    The Stranger doesn’t belong at Dusters, everyone knows that, but Jim the Guitarist insists nobody makes him leave. The Stranger won’t tell you stories about America, the Stranger won’t even tell you his name.

    He slumps and drinks next to the wall, his long beard sitting on the bar. The Stranger doesn’t even snort coke.

    Jim looked at him the first night he showed up and laughed, they didn’t share a friendly word, but while he’s sitting at the bar Jim leans over to the bartender and says, “Let me tell you a story about this mother****er.”

    “This guy used to be crazy about radio contests. We used to squat in this old building and listen to the radio, and there was this payphone down the street and all day this son of a ***** was running back and forth.”

    “He won ****, concert tickets and DVDs mostly and one night he takes me to this concert he won tickets to, and the people at the gate see this mother****er and go wild, they won’t let us in, they talk about a restraining order, they’re saying that he simply won’t be let inside.

    “So he goes ****ing nuts and starts yelling back at them, it seemed like he had gotten drunk and gone on a rampage through the radio’s VIP section and had caused such incredible damage that they couldn’t even believe he had returned. They wouldn’t let us in so he goes to the nearest phone and calls in a bomb threat on them, the police go down to the concert hall with dogs and everything starts to fall apart, one of the bands had a huge cache of drugs and every member ended up getting arrested, there ended up being something like 21 arrests total, it was just setting the cops loose on people back when the bastards were getting real rabid.

    “The point of my story,” Jim says, “Isn’t that he’s a dangerous guy or that he’s gonna start trouble. The point is just that this son of a ***** is not a reasonable man.”


    Dusters flew a ragged old American flag from a palm tree.

    The weather at Dusters is such that you’re always downwind from your own cigarette. The sun dips down and falls out of the sky like a drunk, at Dusters people were drinking heavily before nightfall.

    “America Libre,” they shout out, clanging together their whiskey, lime and coke.

    Dusters is the last stop for the American spirit, the last drips of the national vigor get spent snorting coke and smoking cheap cigarettes. Spooky Jim knows, and it’s too much for him, he just stares dumbfounded at the waves.

    Mercenaries have taken over his job now, he tells us, he’s seen it on the news. Domestic mercenaries waging war on the United Revolutionaries, nobody even claimed to be American anymore.

    Mercenaries don’t follow any constitutional guidelines; they just work to get the bounties. It’s all the worst parts of the Wild West, Spooky Jim says.

    People from the executive boards of companies that tried to compete for government bids against the companies that paid off the right people, they end up at Dusters.

    People who just packed away in the night and drove south, they’re at Dusters too.

    They’ve got stuff written in their teeth like “The Falcon cannot hear the Falconer.” They show you with their broad smiles, they laugh at the permanent fad on their teeth because what else is there to do about it now?

    People at Dusters spend endless hours hashing over their failures, because that’s the only way they can remember their dreams anymore.

    “The important thing about smoking cigarettes,” Dave says, “Is the antisocial element of it.”

    “Few nonsmokers will ever know that ability to be instantly so unspeakably rude,” he tells you, lighting up another cigarette and sucking at it like it was giving him some new life.

    “Let’s say that you’re in an argument with one of those all night supermarket managers in the states about what they charge for cheese crackers at five am, how else would you demonstrate to that sort of man how totally unhinged you are without a cigarette? Hell, just light up a cigarette and he’ll stare at the glowing tip of it for a few seconds.

    “His eyes draw wide with terror because he knows that civilized people know better than to smoke indoors. He stares at that cigarette like it’s a gun being pulled on him, he stares at you like you’re some modern day Hun come to ransack the whole village. He wonders what his job, what his responsibilities mean in the face of that unspeakable terror.

    “And finally he just says, ‘**** it man, take the crackers’.”

    Dave laughs at his own story, like some sad lonely clown.

    “I used to date this chick who was really into the URA,” Dave says, “The ***** was out of her mind, totally fine but, well, you know.

    “She was an environmentalist, and I always thought that was kinda weird, but I never said anything about it to her, but I guess that’s the magic of the URA that it brought so many diverse ideas together.

    “People were surprised when they broke their Fearless Leader out of prison; people were genuinely shocked to see that sort of loyalty to him. But what I’m telling you is this, this ***** was totally whacked out on the environment, she shoulda been out raising money or going to protests or some other **** that wouldn’t change the world and that dude, that Fearless Leader as they all called him put her together with everyone and started really putting **** in order, what surprised me was when he disappeared, not that they broke him out. What surprises me is that they keep fighting on without him.”

    Dave takes a deep draw from his beer, tipping it back and forth on the bar, “She was a lot of fun though, and I mean, in her own way she had her **** in order, she was just ****ing nuts. She drove us all down to Florida after that hurricane totaled Orlando and we spent a week there helping people rebuild ****, she used to say, ‘What’s good for America is good for the Revolution.’

    “She got shot at a protest rally that went bad, total victim of her own revolution. Stupid ****ing woman. Jesus, a country that kills someone like that, I had to leave. If people like that are worth killing then what am I?”

    Dave snorts lines off the bar until it’s morning again.


    Nobody notices the new guy at first, to the people at the bonfires he’s just another gringo coming in off the beach.

    He’s a tall guy, gangly, a natural for the video game culture and he probably even used to play soccer, the new guy, he looks like a straight shooter and a good bloke, wrapped in a black leather jacket that no night in Columbia ever requires.

    He orders a beer at the bar and turns down the line of coke that the bartender draws him, he looks around the bar and smiles.


    Spooky Jim’s wife was a real ***** towards the end.

    “She never really forgave me for what happened to Ethan,” Spooky Jim says, she went off about how dangerous the city was night after night, she refused to leave the house and she always yelled that he had to leave the city or loose her.

    Spooky Jim never had a lot of job skills that would transfer well to a safe community.

    “But I was trying, I was in the middle of a transfer when the Frisco riots started.

    “We were supposed to go house shopping the day they burned the house down.”

    His wife had disappeared the night before, he found out later she was cheating on him.

    “That was really what started me on my way here.”


    Dan still thinks it’s funny to wear a tie while he’s snorting coke off the bar.

    Dan throws back pure glasses of whiskey, vodkas with a lemon twist, everyone insists that the man sweats rum.

    Dan started off this life as a stockbroker, so he started doing coke real early, but he quit it for a while and he reminds everyone now and again that he once really had his act together.

    Because Dan wasn’t bad at picking stocks, in fact he was for a while at the top of his field and on the board of a major investing group.

    Dan leans over the bar with his scraggy red beard and insists that he spoke at Harvard’s graduation once.

    Then, one day, he went totally cold.

    Dan will talk for hours on end about his research, about days of his life spent pouring over every scrap of information about a company. Dan will bore you with talk about his mathematical algorithms and how he once took control of a tour of some company’s facilities because the guide was a, “Terrible drunk.”

    But in the end none of his massive knowledge of the companies he invested in mattered, He struck out for new territory when things started going downhill and that only proved disastrous.

    He started doing coke again as he slipped deep into debt, he started doing coke because everything else was abandoning him.

    Then, one day, Dan’s in Columbia.

    “The way the economy is today,” he says, “**** man, there are gonna be a lot of stockbrokers here one day.”


    The New Guy definitely has a gun, and the bartender stares at the bulge in his jacket.

    Jim tried to play Cocaine once, but this is an American bar.

    The New Guy doesn’t see any reason to explain himself, he stares at everyone at the bar like he thinks he’ll eventually recognize somebody.

    Most everyone at the bar is packing, but the New Guy is so much more obvious about it than anyone else, he doesn’t wear his gun like someone used to hiding it.
    Read Blessed be the Peacemakers | Read Political Freedom | Read Pax Germania: A Story of Redemption | Read Unrelated Matters | Read Stains of Blood and Ash | Read Ripper: A Glimpse into the Life of Gen. Jack Sterling | Read Deutschland Erwachte! | Read The Best Friend | Read A Mothers Day Poem | Read Deliver us From Evil | Read The Promised Land

  • #2

    The way Spooky Jim found out his wife was cheating on him is, he was rounding up some gangsters that were firebombing the homes of police he gets one of them and he’s interrogating him and the kid laughs and stares at him.

    “You’re ****ing Jim, ain’t you,”

    Jim tells the kid it’s none of his business so the kid just laughs.

    “You are Jim, ain’t you? Man, I banged your old lady.”

    Jim hit the kid and said he was full of ****.

    “Man, she showed me a picture of yo ass,” the kid said.

    Jim kneed him in the chest, the kid fell on the ground.

    “I know your badge number,” the kid said.

    Jim hit the kid, punched him hard in the face.

    The kid knew his badge number.

    “***** shows up at the bar, wanting to know who would get off on ****ing a cop’s wife.”

    The kid is bruised and bleeding so bad that there really is no other explanation.

    Through the beating all he’s talking about is having sex with Jim’s wife.

    Jim left work that day and started drinking, he doesn’t even remember how he got the coke, how he started snorting lines, but in the right sort of bar in Frisco back then it was easy to stumble drunkenly into cocaine. All Spooky Jim knew was that one morning he woke up on that other side of law and order.


    Jim plays songs by Creedence, he plays songs by the Beach Boys, Jim is constantly so totally lost to cocaine that you can’t believe his fingers remember such an endless variety of Americana.

    The New Guy pulls his gun out, staring at The Stranger.

    The bar goes silent as the gun comes to level.

    “Everyone be calm,” The New Guy says, “I’m here for him,” and he’s pointing at the Stranger.

    The Stranger just looks at the guy like he’s barely amused by him, he laughs for a second.

    The Stranger sips his drink while the bar goes silent, while everyone is staring at him.

    “You came a long way to get me,” The Stranger says, “Hell, you deserve it.

    “How much am I going for?” he asks.

    The New Guy’s pistol wavers in the air.


    Spooky Jim doesn’t even believe how it happened, but in the weeks after he beat up that kid he started smoking a lot of crack.

    San Francisco was a total wasteland back then, people fled from the city, surveillance camera networks were down, buildings were looted, police swarmed the streets but it never seemed to matter, drugs were all over the streets and there was no fear for God. Crack-heads huddled in broken down cars under graffiti soaked overpasses.

    All the walls said in Technicolor: “The Falcon cannot hear the Falconer.”

    Spooky Jim was there with the crack-heads most nights after he beat that kid.

    Spooky Jim started smoking crack all the time, and habits like that tend to get in the way of a career in law enforcement, so he lost his job, and with that the ****ty apartment he had moved to after his house burned down. Jim spent months on the streets.

    Spooky Jim, a year before that he had a wife and a kid.

    Spooky Jim, a year before that he had a steady job and a house.

    Spooky Jim wandered the streets, catching the strange illnesses that spread like wildfire through the streets.

    The streets were crowded in San Francisco back then, though, people had a shell shocked look about them like they couldn’t even believe what was happening. They had always thought it would be the Arabs or the Russians when the country came down, no one had suspected that it would be civil war. No one had seen it coming from inside.

    “The Future is Now,” was written in Technicolor across all the walls.

    Spooky Jim ended up in this huge camp, filled with refugees from San Francisco, there was fighting all across California back then, the state was crawling with the national guard and with wild eyed renegades but nowhere was it was bad as in Frisco.

    At this camp all the nurses used to say, “What’s good for America is good for the Revolution.”


    The Stranger looks at Jim and says, “This is you, isn’t it?”

    Jim shrugged and puts his guitar down, “You should pay for your crimes.”

    “Jesus Christ Jim,” the bartender says, “what did this poor **** do?”

    The New Guy has no authority at this bar, and that obviously shakes him, his eyes dart from one guy to the next, his nerve starts to crack.

    “That poor **** stabbed our country in the back,” Jim says, “That poor **** was the leader of the goddamn rebellion.”

    The Stranger takes a deep sip out of his drink, “And I won’t pretend I don’t feel bad about that,” he puffs on his cigarette, “**** man, I always wanted peaceful change, but things got out of hand.”

    “Tell that to your victims.”

    The room is silent, the bounty hunter stares at the Stranger down the barrel of his pistol.

    “You’re under arrest,” he says and moves forward.

    “Ok, man, I will,” The Stranger says, “I’ll go back to the states and I’ll fight for peace.”

    The Stranger says, “Unless I get arrested.”

    Jim looks at the bounty hunter, “What the ****’s wrong with you? Arrest this ****.”

    The bounty hunter moves forward.

    The sharp bang of a gunshot makes everyone on the beach jerk their heads towards the bar, the bounty hunter totters and drops, blood pounding out from his chest.

    The Stranger takes a sip from his drink.

    Spooky Jim puts his pistol back down his pants, he says, “Don’t you have somewhere to be?”

    The Stranger smiles and throws back the drink, without a word he stands up and slides a few bills across the counter.

    As the moon flies overhead everyone stares as he walks into the pristine silver glow of the night.
    Read Blessed be the Peacemakers | Read Political Freedom | Read Pax Germania: A Story of Redemption | Read Unrelated Matters | Read Stains of Blood and Ash | Read Ripper: A Glimpse into the Life of Gen. Jack Sterling | Read Deutschland Erwachte! | Read The Best Friend | Read A Mothers Day Poem | Read Deliver us From Evil | Read The Promised Land


    • #3
      Dang! SKILORD posts us a story and nobody replies in over a year?!
      First Master, Banan-Abbot of the Nana-stary, and Arch-Nan of the Order of the Sacred Banana.
      Marathon, the reason my friends and I have been playing the same hotseat game since 2006...


      • #4
        Duster's certainly is a disturbing place.

        The story only tenuously is connected to Civ. It seemed to be more of an art-fiction piece... About the aftermath of a revolution, the descent of a cop, and I think there may have been some morality to it0- I would have to read again to make certain I caught all the nice author tricks and allusions back to the beginning of his story.

        The story was okay, but I must have missed some of the 'connections'... It seemed like it could have been polished a bit and a little better put together.

        I like the end twist and I liked how the personality of Spooky Jim was built, but the beginning of the story didn't appear to have too much to do with the end.

        There is talent in here, but I don't think this is particularly SKILORD's best piece.

        Metaliturtle, Actually I didn't notice it either . But it seems to have had over 400 views I think, according to the front page- so at least people are seeing it, if not commenting! That should be heartening for SKILORD!
        -->Visit CGN!
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