This is a vignette based on the true story of my friend Hughie Tweedy and his fight against the DAPL pipeline. This is one of those times that the truth was far more interesting and bizarre than fiction. Hughie fought the heinous corporation as long as he could, but the corrupt Iowa legislature sided with the shareholders and the pipeline went through his farm. America espouses democracy, but in most of its practices it is yet another in a long line of financially motivated oligarchies.
I love how language varies so much from place to place, especially in the UK. Manchester, Birmingham, and Bristol (among many others) all have accents and slang expressions unique to the people who live and work there. I try to convey a sense of place and language without resorting to spelled-out dialect (which according to Mark Twain often has the effect of making it seem like the characters are all trying to talk alike but are failing miserably).
This story comes from my early attempt as a syndicated cartoonist in which the central character, Floyd Barnes, inherits a crumbling hotel full of elderly cranks. It was not picked up, but I had fun drawing it. Here’s a sample Sunday panel introducing Mrs. Krebster, an old woman who thinks that Floyd is his late brother Errol. She still talks to him even though she knows Errol is dead.
“I am sorry, Father. I hate to disturb Matins, but you have been summoned.”
Padre Sebastién had been expecting this for months. He suppressed a grunt as he arose from the prayer bench. He was tired. Perhaps now he could have some rest on the passage back. He smiled at his audacity. He was a poor sailor, apt to be ill for weeks on end.
The boy looked up at him. “I am frightened, father. The soldiers were most disrespectful.”
“Hush, Pablo. You must go now and gather your things. We are to sail back to Portugal.”
“Portugal?” said the boy. “But I have never even left Santo Domingo.”
“Well, it seems God has decided it is time you do so. Come. We must make haste.”
Outside in the courtyard, the armored Spanish soldiers leaned on their spears. “These cursed heretic Jesuits,” said one. “Would we might slaughter them all.”
Historical Note: Believing that the Society of Jesus had acquired too much wealth and influence over Spanish affairs, King Charles III expelled the Jesuits from all Spanish-controlled territories in 1767 and turned over possessions controlled by the Jesuits to other religious orders. At this time, the order consisted of 24 professed-houses, 369 colleges, 170 seminaries, 61 novitiate-houses, 335 residences, and 273 missions in heathen and Protestant countries, and 22,589 members of all ranks, half of whom were ordained priests .
Note: The British Colonial authorities were deeply tied with the sugar cane industry in Fiji, but were unsuccessful in harnessing the fiercely independent indigenous islanders as a labor force. Governor Sir Arthur Hamilton-Gordon implemented an indentured labour scheme which had existed in the British Empire since 1837. Recruitment began all over India, especially in impoverished rural areas. Indenture would last four years, at which point the laborer could travel home at their own expense. Alternatively, they could elect to extend their indenture another four years, after which time the Crown would pay their passage or allow them to stay as free citizens of Fiji.
Most elected to stay.
The 61,000 original indentures originated from different regions, villages, backgrounds, and castes that later mingled or intermarried with the native population.
Vargas knew she would not stop crying, so he hit her a few more times and closed the bedroom door, leaving her to her tears.
He went out to get wood for the stove.
The snow howled outside. The stove warmed the cabin to a swelter. Vargas stripped to his undersuit as he drank himself insensible, got so drunk he felt neither the tiny legs of the fiddleback crawling up his leg nor its fangs in his scrotum.
In the morning as the fever took him and his legs turned black he begged her to help him.