A Ghost From The Past
[The Hill of the Ravens by H. A. Covington is set in the Northwest American Republic of the future, approximately 40 years after the Northwest War of Independence. Colonel Don Redmond of the Bureau of State Security (BOSS) has been called into the office of his father-in-law, President John Corbett Morgan, and is about to be handed a major headache.]
"Now what’s this other assignment you have for me?”
“It’s a ghost story,” said the president with a straight face.
“I beg your pardon, sir?” asked Redmond politely. “I thought you usually told us those at Halloween over the roasting hot dogs and marshmallows?”
“Actually, those are just old Manley Wade Wellman stories I ad lib,” Morgan confessed. “But this is a real one. A ghost from our past has come back to haunt us.”
“Does this ghost have a name?” asked Redmond.
“She does,” replied Morgan. “Trudy Greiner.”
“What?” roared Don, stunned, leaping to his feet in amazement, his cigar ash falling onto the carpet unnoticed.
“I said Trudy Greiner.” Morgan opened his desk drawer and handed Redmond a piece of paper encased in clear glassine plastic that he took from a folder. “This is a letter that my office received yesterday, supposedly from the Los Angeles metroplex, although there’s no way to tell where it actually originated.”
“There’s no mail service between the Republic and Aztlan,” pointed out Redmond, holding the encased letter up to the light. “From what I gather, there’s precious little mail service in Aztlan. God, this is crap paper! The eco-freaks down there must have recycled it six or eight times. It’s about to fall apart! Well, at least she’s still speaking English and not Spanglish. Proper Mexican Spanish, now that I can speak and read and write from my language training at Sandpoint, but I still haven’t quite mastered that shit half language the Americans speak now, for all the stuff I have to read in it that comes across my desk. It’s even worse than Puerto Rican.”
“I know there’s no mail service from Aztlan,” responded Morgan. “This letter was carried by one of the private courier companies who specialize in smuggling mail into and out of the NAR. The Mexicans generally overlook it. They treat it as a kind of necessary evil. They have sense enough to know they can’t completely suppress all contact. As to the paper, she was probably lucky even to get that if she’s really living in L. A., with all the constant shortage of the basics down there.”
Redmond read the paper out loud:
To the Honorable John Corbett Morgan
State President, Northwest American Republic
You may be surprised to hear from me after all this time the Republic has spent trying to hunt me down and kill me. I am writing to tell you that you can stop looking.
I’m tired of living among strangers. I’m tired of running and hiding all my life for a crime I did not commit. I am going to put an end to it. It is my intention to exercise the right that belongs to every other Aryan man and woman the world over. I am Coming Home. I have gotten an exit visa from the Aztlan government, never mind how. On October 22nd of this year, the anniversary of the Coeur d’Alene uprising, I will walk into the Republic at the old Interstate Five border crossing at Mountain Gate, California. If you want to shoot me down on sight or hang me from the first tree on the white side of the border, then go ahead. I don’t care any more. You’ll be murdering an innocent woman, but I would rather die in the country I gave my youth and my heart to bring into being than live in this mud-colored horror down here for one more day.
If you don’t kill me outright, then I demand a public trial or court martial on the charges against me. I did not betray the Olympic Flying Column. I would have given up my own life for Tom Murdock, for Melanie Young, and for any one of my beloved comrades without a moment’s hesitation. Even though forty years of hell have passed, I still mourn them all every day. I can no longer live with this lie, this terrible accusation. It is wrong. I don’t deserve this. I can’t stand it any more. I swear to you by my immortal soul that I am innocent. As a soldier of the Northwest Volunteer Army (I was never officially discharged) I demand the right to live and to die by the laws of my beloved country, and to clear my name should God in His infinite mercy grant me that deliverance. If not, then let His will be done.
Volunteer Gertrude Greiner
P. S. I am attaching something below that I have always been willing to give for the Homeland, even during all the years you were hunting for me.
Below the P.S. was a brown thumbprint in blood.
“Holy Christ!” muttered Don, stunned.
“And here I thought you were a National Socialist?” asked Morgan with a grim smile.
“I am. That means I can swear by Christ and the Aesir both with a clear conscience,” said Redmond. “Trudy Greiner, the last of the revolutionary traitors, is coming out of hiding after more than thirty years? She must have lost her mind!”
“That would seem to be about the only way we might manage to catch her,”
replied Morgan dryly. “No other target has been so successful in escaping our hunters. We hadn’t even caught a lingering scent of her for years. It was as if she’d dropped off the face of the planet. BOSS and WPB had about come to the conclusion she was dead and buried secretly somewhere under a false name.”
“How do you know it’s not a hoax?” asked Redmond. “I assume the bloody thumbprint was for identification purposes, but both DNA and fingerprints can be faked. The Office of Northwest Recovery and our own War Prevention people do it all the time. Or it might be the woman who wrote it is one of their damned genetically engineered doubles, like that clone of Bill Vitale they tried to slip past us.”
“I know. Granted, it’s possible that this is some kind of stroke from the ONR. But the Bureau’s forensics lab gave the document a good going over, and the fact is that both thumbprint and DNA actually do match,” replied Morgan.
“Are they sure?” asked Don.
“Positive. The Greiner woman was fingerprinted and DNA-typed by the FBI in Oregon after she was arrested for felony hatecrime over forty years ago, when she was a teeny-bopper. As you may recall, when ZOG officially pulled out of Portland some of the local red-white-and-blue yay-hoos decided Longview didn’t mean them. We had to go in heavy and fight our way into the city street by street for three days before we cleaned them out. You remember the Battle of the Bridges?”
“A historic moment,” recalled Don with a smile “The first artillery barrage fired from Nazi cannons and the first rumble of Nazi tanks since 1945.”
“You got it. Damn, boy, that was a sweet sound to mah ears! Remember it all like it was yesterday! Anyhow, an SS Action Group, ironically enough led by a certain young lieutenant named Bill Vitale, captured the Portland FBI headquarters before they could destroy their files and hard drives, so we have Trudy Greiner’s DNA on record. My gut feeling is that the letter is legit. I can well imagine that she might eventually get so tired of looking over her shoulder for the hunters that she just wants it to be over.”
“I’ve heard of her, of course,” mused Don. “Hell, so has every man, woman, and school child in the Republic. My kids grew up singing nasty nursery rhymes about Trudy Greiner, some of which made me wash out their mouths with soap when I overheard them. They use Trudy’s face on targets at junior high school riflery ranges. The ultimate stukach, the traitor bitch who sent Tom Murdock and Melanie Young and fifty others of the proudest and bravest partisan unit in the NVA to their deaths in the ambush at Ravenhill Ranch, for cold hard cash. Our own Wicked Witch of the Northwest. What was her particular hatecrime back in the old days in Portland, just out of curiosity?” asked Redmond.
“Hatecrime most foul,” Morgan told him. “It was determined by the Zionist authorities that one Gertrude Greiner, aged seventeen, was responsible for inserting a politically incorrect joke into her high school annual. Something poking fun at female sexual perverts. Two double entendres punning the words ‘Beaverton’ and ‘liquor trade.’ Inflicting mental anguish, insensitivity to alternative lifestyles, creating a negative and unsupportive environment, all that happy horse shit.
"You’re too young to remember, Don, but in those days a white person couldn’t sneeze without offending some little pissant minority and going to jail. You have no idea what it was like to have to weigh and measure every word, to be constantly looking over your shoulder and whisper, never knowing when some monkoid or some pale-skinned wretch would turn you in to the thought police for the slightest casual remark. The men and women of our race lived in a perpetual state of fear and anxiety, and anyone with a white skin who dared to stand up against the régime was punished with maniacal intensity.
"Especially if they used wit or humor. ZOG’s politically protected minorities could never stand being mocked, you know. Mockery undermined them more than anything else, they knew it, and they reacted to the slightest hint of disrespect with the ferocity of a wounded beast. Trudy’s little joke about lesbians made the whole high school annual prohibited hate literature under the Dees Act, so it had to be recalled and the offending humor removed. Trudy was convicted by a Human Rights tribunal and served eighteen months. Her family was fined and forced to pay for the cost of reprinting the annual, minus political incorrectness. Trudy joined an NVA cell while she was in women’s prison.”
“Trudy?” put in Redmond curiously. “You knew her personally, sir?”
“I did,” said Morgan. “Please let me proceed, Colonel.”
Redmond sensed a raw nerve. “Certainly, sir. But if you might refresh my memory, Mr. President? When did she get hooked up with Tom Murdock and the Olympic Flying Column?”
“I spent this morning reviewing her file, just to make sure my memory hasn’t gone soft on me after all these years,” said Morgan. “Trudy Greiner was still in the slammer on 10/22, but she got out a few months later, legally restricted to Portland on parole. The uprising had been suppressed, but the guerrilla war in the countryside and the cities was heating up by then. In view of the political nature of her offense Trudy had to do some really fast talking to get sprung. She told the parole board all about how she’d learned to renounce hate and turned her life around, how she’d undergone this wonderful spiritual awakening since she’d been inside, claimed she’d had a passionate lesbian relationship with a wonderful Hispanic inmate…no, don’t make that face, dammit, Don! We had to do those things in those days! Or at least say them! I took the Diversity Oath on four separate occasions myself, just so I could get a job running a forklift or stacking pallets in a warehouse alongside Filipinos and Somalis, because it was the only way I could feed my family, including that little lady you’re married to. Remind me to tell you one day about the time during the guerrilla days when I caught up with this one particularly nasty-ass Puerto Rican foreman…”
“Er, you have, sir,” Redmond reminded him. “On more than one occasion.
Including our last Christmas dinner. Kind of put me off cranberry sauce for a while.”
“So I did,” agreed Morgan with a big rumbling laugh from deep inside his massive chest. “Well, it is one of my favorite stories. But you need to understand, hit war necessary to survive and fight on, and we all did things we weren’t too proud of later. I didn’t believe it about Trudy then, and I don’t believe it now. She said what she had to say to get out of that hellhole so she could join in the struggle. They may or may not have believed it, but they saw that she was burning the pinch of incense and making all the right noises, and so they let her go.”
“I am aware of the historical context in which the revolution took place, sir. I wasn’t criticizing,” said Redmond neutrally.
“We all had to burn the occasional pinch of incense on the altars of Zion’s false gods in order to survive,” sighed Morgan. “But it still rankles. A lot of us old timers still ain’t completely easy in our consciences about some of the choices we had to make in those days. Cindy El and Eva don’t even know what a lesbian is, do they?” asked Morgan in wonder. “Ain’t that a kicker? We grew up with all that filth being thrown in our faces every day, day after day and month after month and year after year until it became part of our whole lives and thought, and nowadays I bet my granddaughters don’t even know.”
“No, sir,” said Redmond in genuine gratitude. “So far as I am aware, they don’t know what a lesbian is. That was what we were fighting for, remember? So that little girls can grow up to womanhood without ever hearing the word lesbian, among many other things. You and the men of your generation saw to it that my children grew up not just safe, but clean. Like I said, Mr. President, I am aware of the historical context.”
“We saw to it, Don. You should remember some of it, too. You were there. You earned that green, white, and blue ribbon on your lapel, young ‘un. I should know. I pinned it on you.”
“I remember some, but it was long ago. As for this medal, well, when I was twelve I wouldn’t have known a political idea if it walked up and kicked me in the ass. I knew I didn’t like the punk Mexican and Chinese kids who robbed my paper route money, and I remembered enough from back in Carolina to avoid anyone with a black skin, but that was about the sum of it. I was there largely for Sarah, sir,” concluded Redmond frankly.
“I know, son, and I’ve always loved you for it. But hit war always better to do the right thing for the wrong reason, or well, maybe a different right reason in your case, than to do the wrong thing for any reason. Anyway, as I was saying before you got me off on an old man’s blather, because of her Dees Act conviction Trudy Greiner had to register with the FBI as a subversive and wear a tracking bracelet on her ankle, which she promptly cut off. She was too well known in Portland, so she went on the run. She made it to Seattle and made contact with the NVA.
"There she was assigned to a quartermaster team in Bremerton. That put her on the west side of the Sound and gave her familiarity with what would become the Olympic Flying Column’s operational area. She helped set up safe houses and apartments, she made false ID, she maintained arms caches, she handled money through various covert Party bank accounts, and she helped to run an underground printing press and distribute Party propaganda leaflets which would have gotten her life without parole.
?She was brave, she was a good soldier, she kept her cool and thought fast on her feet, and her teammates admired and respected her. Every assignment she was given went seamlessly and was never compromised. As far as anyone could see at the time, the FBI and the FATPOs never got a line on her. Trudy had the ideal undercover operative’s ability to become invisible in a crowd. Maybe that period of her life was where she acquired the skills she later used to evade our hunter squads. If she was always a rat for the Feds then she must have been really deep cover. My guess is that if she went bad, it must have happened later on.”
“If she went bad?” asked Don, intrigued.
“I’m getting there, son,” admonished Morgan. “After a year, in view of her proven expertise she was assigned to the Olympic Flying Column’s support crew. That meant she lived in town but she helped to obtain and transport weapons, ammunition, medical and other supplies and so on to the Column. It was complex and dangerous work. She had to do a lot of driving around the woods and the mountains of the Olympic peninsula in the dark, hauling a car or pickup truck full of contraband, going miles along rural highways and fire roads with no lights to avoid aerial surveillance. She had to talk her way past roadblocks using fake ID and travel permits with thirty thousand dollars, ten boxes of ammo and twenty pounds of C-4 hidden in her car, hoping to God our science nerds had packed them right to hide them from the sniffer dogs and Fattie sensor devices. A lot of our people in her job died at those checkpoints. But she was damned good at it. She carried out dozens of successful rendezvous without a hitch and transmitted vital supplies, weaponry, and money to Tom Murdock and his crew. Murdock trusted her absolutely. I know that because he told me so.”
“You were in regular contact with the Column, sir?” asked Redmond.
“Yes. Broadly speaking, Tom’s outfit worked the southern part of the Olympic down to Tacoma and us Port Townsend boys had our stomping grounds in the north, although there was a lot of overlap. Corey Nash was our liaison, carrying occasional messages we could no way risk on the phone, and we were even able to pull off some joint operations, like the attack on the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy that led to the Americans pulling the U. S. Navy out of the Puget Sound and shutting down the Bremerton naval base. Plus Murdock and I met several times at various safe houses and other secure locations when it was necessary to take care of business and exchange intelligence.”
“It also meant that Trudy Greiner was one of the few people who could communicate with the Column at need, and who would have some knowledge of where at least a few of them would be at any given time,” Redmond pointed out. “She was also one of the few Volunteers who operated on her own and was out of sight of the others for extended periods of time, during which she might have made contact with the enemy.”
“That point didn’t escape us back then, son. Hit war one of the reasons she was suspected after Ravenhill Ranch.”
“Now, if memory serves, on that day the Olympic Flying Column were on their way to attack the Kitsap County Courthouse in Port Orchard?” asked Redmond, searching his memory.
“Yes,” Morgan confirmed. “The one that used to be on Division Street. The Special Criminal Court was sitting there that day. You know, the one ZOG tried to set up when the secret military tribunals became too much of a political embarrassment. The idea being to try and slap a purty civilian legal fig leaf on what was by then pretty much a military dictatorship in the United States. It was some kind of executive session or whatever that day, so none of our own prisoners were scheduled to be in the building. That made it a good time to hit the place and see if we could barbecue a few of the big pigs in the black robes, not to mention as many lawyers as we could send to hell.”
“Four surviving members of the Column actually did take out the courthouse out that morning,” recalled Redmond.
“Yes. Volunteers Frank Palmieri, Dragutin Saltovic, Edward McCanless and Brittany McCanless. The last members of the Column accomplished their mission even in the face of the disaster that overtook their unit at Ravenhill, which has added to the legend of that day, and deservedly so.
"The original plan was to use a mortar truck, iron pipes stacked on a flatbed trailer, each tube loaded with a charge and a home-made shell. An old Provisional IRA tactic we’d been wanting to try for a long time. A special hydraulic lift elevated the pipes into firing position, the driver set his timer, got out and ran like hell, and the mortars detonated. They destroyed the truck when they went off, but they also launched their shells into the air, that is if the damned things worked right. They weren’t very accurate, and you had to make really sure you positioned the vehicle correctly and got your elevation down pat. If your unit’s science nerd had miscalculated the ballistics or the strength of the barrel charges you’d get mortar bombs dropping all over everywhere in the neighborhood except the target. If everything went according to plan, some federal position hiding behind razor wire, sandbags and concrete walls suddenly had about a ton of high explosive dropping down from the sky on top of ‘em. The trick was to position the truck just right and work out the elevation just right to make sure you didn’t miss and blow up Joe’s barber shop and the diner down the block.”
“I remember the truck mortars, sir,” said Redmond.
“Yeah, despite what happened at Ravenhill we didn’t give up, and we eventually got pretty good at making those little poppers. Got so we could rig up vans with false roofs that came off when the mortar barrels were unlimbered, white phosphorus shells, all kinds of tweaks and interesting features. If Murdock had succeeded in his mission, it would have been the first truck mortar attack. As things were, the four surviving Volunteers didn’t have time to mess with raising the barrels from the planned firing position, where they would have been without covering fire from the rest of the Column. They had to improvise, so they simply rammed the truck into the courthouse lobby and blew it. I remember we were able to get a van into Fort Lewis one night and level the officer’s mess from half a mile away,” recalled Morgan with a reminiscent chuckle.
“Mmm, if memory serves, the truck was driven into Port Orchard separately from the bulk of the column,” pointed out Redmond. “That’s how the four survivors were able to complete the mission. Why was that, Mr. President?”
“Commandant Murdock ordered it done that way.”
“Why?” asked Don.
“No idea. So far as we have been able to determine, he didn’t explain to anyone at the time why he did so. We know he handpicked the four Volunteers who drove the truck, two in the cab and two in a scout car. Palmieri, Saltovic, and the McCanlesses are all still alive, as well as four more men who weren’t with the main body of the Column when it was ambushed. They may be able to answer that,” said Morgan.
“I remember from an old Northwest Broadcasting Authority documentary show, I think it was called Incident At Ravenhill, that the feds originally claimed the FATPO ambush that destroyed the column was a triumph for their spy satellite system,” said Redmond. “Infra-red heat and motion detectors, an evil racist white mouse couldn’t move on the ground without their knowing about it, so forth and so on.”
“They tried to claim that, yeah, but it was crap,” growled the old warrior. “I’m old enough to remember before the rebellion. Some of the nervous Nellie nay-sayers in our own ranks claimed that white guerrilla warfare in North America was impossible because of orbital surveillance and other things in ZOG’s little bag of pyrotechnic tricks.
"Well, the Nervous Nellies were wrong. There was, in fact, a clear and applicable historical precedent, our weaklings just didn’t want to face up to it. From 1969 onward, the Provisional IRA fought a sustained guerrilla campaign in Northern Ireland, largely in an urban setting, against the wealth, manpower and technology of Great Britain. Yeah, I know they were Marxist scum, but the fact remained that the Provos showed it could be done, if we just had the guts and the dedication. Ordinary men were not powerless in the face of the New World Order. The bigger and more complex ZOG was, the more vulnerable they were to a few brave men with weapons in their hands and the courage to use them.”
“My God, in 2001 the United States was almost brought to a standstill by four crashing aircraft hijacked with box cutters!” commented Don. “How could anyone claim it was impossible to bring down the Beast? Nineteen young Arabs damned near did it on their own!”
“When white men in the Northwest finally screwed our courage to the sticking point, we largely followed the Provos’ example. Hell, we even stole their rebel songs!” added Morgan with a smile. “You’ll recall that I commanded my own column out in the boonies of the Olympic for almost three years, and I can tell you that the Feds’ much-vaunted super-duper spy satellites and their drone aircraft were never all that accurate. Kind of like the Zeppelins during World War One. A technological advance that was supposed to be decisive, but it fizzled in practice.
"It was all in the interpretation, and the people they had analyzing all that satellite data were more often than not affirmative action bozos and bitches who didn’t have a clue what the hell they were looking at. I’ve often said, we didn’t win the war against ZOG, their own diversity lost it for them. So many of their people were incompetents who were where they were and doing the jobs they were doing because of the color of their skin, or because they had tits on ‘em.
"Hell, as long ago as the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, Bush II’s idiots used to order in massive bombing raids on wedding parties and school buses because they had no idea who was who. Why do you think the Afghans finally rebelled en masse against the American occupation and the American puppet government in Kabul? ZOG couldn’t even find their real enemies on barren mountainsides or in wide open deserts, never mind mountains covered with trees.
"The fact was that during the war, as far as our open country active service units were concerned, the feds never learned to distinguish between our people and ordinary travelers, hunters, logging crews, park rangers, firefighters, local residents, sheep and cattle, wild animals, their own military convoys, whatever. The Eye in the Sky was a danger, to be sure, like a hundred others we faced, but we eventually learned to evade it the same way the Iraqis and the Serbs and every other smaller power ZOG attacked learned to evade it. Simple camouflage. Hide in plain sight. Blend in with crowds. Dummy vehicles and Quaker guns, you name it. It was just one more problem we had to deal with, and we dealt with it. Faking out the satellites eventually became second nature and we got on with the business of killing ZOG.
"Actually, it was a lot more dangerous for a Volunteer to be assigned to an active service unit in one of the cities, where you might be ratted out by some pale-skinned traitor who wanted the DHS reward money. Other than that one incident at Ravenhill Ranch, they never succeeded in completely destroying any other Flying Column. The Olympic Flying Column was betrayed by an informer, Don.”
“With all due respect, sir, how do we know that?” asked Redmond.
“Well, for one thing, we have the testimony of a FATPO defector who came over to us right after Ravenhill,” said Morgan. “Arthur McBride, his name is. Brought two more FATPOs in from the cold with him. They’re both dead, but McBride is still alive. Rose to Command Sergeant Major in the army after the war, then went into the Labor Service. He’s retired now, a widower. Married a female Volunteer, Brooke Arnold. Little chubby blonde girl with the heart of a lion, who as far as I am concerned was up to Melanie Young standards, but that’s just my personal opinion. Brooke never had any songs written about her, Melanie did. Guess that’s the way it plays out in history sometimes.
"McBride lives up in Bremerton. He was there when that nigger major took the call from the rat, or from someone who was in contact with the rat. Took the call on his personal cell phone, not an official or a military phone or computer. That’s important. The Ravenhill ambush was not something that came down from the FBI or the Office of Homeland Security. It was something set up between that monkoid Coleman and a stukach he was working himself. McBride was questioned very seriously at the time, you better believe it. I grilled him myself, but he swore he didn’t know who the informant was. It rang true at the time and I still think McBride was telling the truth, that he honestly didn’t know who the traitor was, but I ain’t anywhere near perfect and for all I know, maybe I missed something. McBride might be a good starting point for your investigation, Don.”
“Noted, sir. But this McBride guy aside, what about all those FBI and FATPO records we captured during the final assault on the cities, sir? What did they say about Ravenhill Ranch?”
“Damned little,” growled Morgan. “Which is odd. That in itself tells me something. Hit war one of their greatest victories against us, yet there was almost nothing in their own records about it. They kept that incident well under wraps, even from their own people. There was something heavy moving in the shade there.”
Don spoke bluntly. “Mr. President, let me be absolutely clear on precisely what my orders are from you in this matter. In view of the possible return of Trudy Greiner, you want me to investigate and ascertain the true facts regarding what happened to the Olympic Flying Column almost forty years ago? An incident that occurred before the majority of the population of this country was even born? And you want me to do this in a matter of just a few days, before Gertrude Greiner rocks up at the I-5 crossing and embarrasses the hell out of the Republic with her demand for a public trial? A public trial at which, after an entire generation of hate propaganda and accusation, we might not after all be able to produce any real evidence that might satisfy the world that she’s guilty?”
“That would be accurate, Colonel, yes,” returned President Morgan.
“Why?” demanded Redmond bluntly. “Don’t get me wrong, John. You know I’m fascinated with that part of our history and I’d love nothing better than an excuse to jaw-jack with old NVA vets about the past and get paid for it. But this cuts a wee bit too close to the bone for me to enjoy it as part of my hobby. Is there any particular reason you are asking me to undo three decades of anti-Trudy Greiner propaganda at this point in our national life? Why not just grab her when she walks across the border, take her off somewhere, shoot her in the head and grind her up into fertilizer like we did with all the scum during the Cleanup? Like we still do on occasion when circumstances seem to demand it?”
“Moral dimension, son,” sighed Morgan. “That accursed moral dimension that the Old Man taught us to exalt above all things, damn his decrepit hyper-ethical ass! Shit, why couldn’t he have been a cynical opportunist like all the rest of his Movement generation? You know the Old Man’s rap. What makes us different from them and all that happy horse shit. There are…certain inconvenient facts.”
“I beg your pardon, sir?” asked Redmond. “Certain inconvenient facts? What facts might those be?”
“Like the fact that I don’t think she did it,” replied Morgan softly, looking out the window down at the slim blue line of the South Sound, gleaming through the firs. “Because, God damn her, Trudy Greiner may in fact be innocent. If she had any real respect at all for what we have achieved, she’d stay the hell away and stay the hell guilty. But it doesn’t look like we’re going to have that luxury, son.”
Redmond was silent for a few moments. “She may be innocent?” he said, his voice filled with quiet horror. “She may be innocent? And you have done nothing about that in all the time you have been our head of state?”
“That would be correct,” replied Morgan.
“Mr. President, coming from you, that is a statement so breath-taking that I will not at this stage comment upon it,” said Redmond evenly, recovering himself. “What I am hearing here is that we might have lied to our own countrymen for almost forty years. You have just denied and negated a primary nation-building legend from the crucial first generation of this country’s existence, but we’ll leave that for the time being. So we’re practicing a little historical revisionism here today? May I ask why you don’t think she did it?”
“She was a good soldier, Don,” said Morgan, not looking at him.
“You said that before, sir,” pointed out Redmond.
“I have always thought that,” continued Morgan, ignoring him. “She was a good soldier. There was steel in her soul, Don, the right stuff, the real stuff, the true stuff. After a time you got to recognize it, and if I ever was deceived, hit war the only time with her. But I think she was a brave and noble woman who somehow ended up being terribly victimized, and I will go to my grave believing that.”
Redmond understood he was getting involved in something extremely deep. “How well did you know her, Mr. President?” he asked. Morgan looked at him. “Sarah’s mother has been dead for years, sir. I repeat that I know the context of the revolution and I have no intention of making moralizing judgments. I will also give you my word that anything you tell me will be kept in strictest confidentiality, meaning I won’t tell Sarah without your permission. But if you want me to look into this letter and re-examine the Ravenhill Ranch incident, then I need to know everything.”
“I never slept with her, if that’s what you’re getting at,” said the president with a smile. “I was still married at the time I met Trudy, although the war had separated me from my wife for a long time. I was…very fond of Trudy. I had some dealings with her in the year before she was assigned to the Olympic Flying Column, and I met her on several occasions afterward. I admired her very much, and if you want to get Biblical about it, yeah, I suppose I committed adultery with her in my heart. A beautiful, fiery young woman who was just as dedicated as I was to the cause of securing the existence of our people and a future for white children…yeah, I was tempted. Damned tempted.
"Circumstances never played out to where I got the chance to do anything one way or the other about those thoughts, for which I will always thank God. I doubt Trude would have gone for it anyway. She viewed me as a comrade and nothing more, and I was always taught that a gentleman can take no for an answer. Besides, after a while it became pretty obvious that she only had eyes for Tom Murdock, and he was a better man than me. Yes he was, Don, and I was never jealous of him, for that or for any other reason. If he had lived, then Tom Murdock would be living in this house today and not me, and we’d all be the better off for it.”
“Did Murdock have eyes for her?” asked Don.
“My understanding is they were involved for a time, and then Murdock broke it off to go with Melanie Young,” said Morgan.
“Which gives Trudy Greiner a far more urgent and human motive for betrayal than mere money, hell having no fury like a woman scorned,” said Redmond. “That aspect of it doesn’t seem to have made it into our history books.”
“For obvious political reasons. As far as the official record goes, the Olympic Flying Column is a tale of pure and fearless heroism and noble sacrifice for our people, and I have to say that’s not all that damned far from the truth.
"The Olympic boys and girls were our finest and bravest partisans, Don. They never shirked danger and went for the soft targets like some, and they never went kill-crazy like Oglevy’s crew and others did. They fought their war with a courage and a gallantry that would have done credit to the Confederate Army. Tom Murdock and Melanie Young are our anointed revolutionary icons of manly courage and honor and female beauty and virtue, while Trudy Greiner is an icon of evil, which is what we needed and what we still need. Icons, mystique, a theology in black and white that will make sure a thousand years from now there are still people who look like us in the world. The War of Independence is the greatest saga of the Folk since our very creation of America itself. It must not be allowed to become a cheap soap opera.”
“Be that as it may, I’d say that the romantic angle, as we’ll call it, makes it even more likely that she’s guilty,” said Redmond.
“If Trudy had lost it and plugged Murdock or Melanie in some kind of jealous rage, yeah, I could see that happening, but I just can’t see her betraying the whole column and the very cause of independence and white survival itself!” cried Morgan in pain. “I’m not saying she’s not guilty, Don, I’m just saying I don’t think she is, and I admit I have no evidence to back up that conviction. The accusation against Trudy tore my guts out, son, but from the available evidence I had to accept that she had betrayed us, betrayed her country, and betrayed her race. Yet all these years I have secretly hoped to get a letter like the one you hold there.
"That’s why I’d like you to take this on yourself, Don. It means a lot, not just to history and the Republic, but to me. If she is coming back, then she’s not the beautiful and purposeful young woman I once knew, I know that. She’ll be old and gray and someone completely different from the girl I always see in my mind. But there will be a connection between that old lady and the young warrior maiden I knew. If she does come back, and if she can’t prove her innocence, then I’m the one who will have to sign the paper that sends her to her death. I’ll sign that paper if I have to, Don, but I have to know whether or not she’s guilty before I do.”
Don shrugged and drew on his cigar. “Okay, let’s assume for the moment that I didn’t grow to manhood on the Trudy Greiner legend, that I haven’t seen any of the TV shows or the movies about the Olympic Flying Column wherein she is portrayed as the daughter of Satan. Let me do the old detective trick here, since technically I’m supposed to be one.
"In any crime, the guilty party has to have three things: motive, means, and opportunity. Trudy Greiner qualifies on motive because motive itself breaks down into three kinds: passion, profit, and protection, and all three might well apply to her. There was her rejection by Tom Murdock. There was the million dollars she was allegedly paid for her act of treachery. And there was the motive of protection, if she was a federal spy and possibly someone had found her out. If that was the case, that might be why the whole column had to die. Murdock or whoever suspected her as a traitor might have told someone else and so any potential witnesses had to be eliminated. Now what about means and opportunity? Refresh my memory some more, Mr. President. Exactly what was the evidence against Gertrude Greiner? What led NVA intelligence to believe that she betrayed the column?”
“Cutting through thirty years’ encrustation of hearsay, urban legend, and crap, hit war two things only,” said Morgan morosely. “The first being that Greiner was one of nine people who had means and opportunity, who could conceivably have tipped off the FATPOs about the unit’s movements. Only nine people survived, all of whom were somewhere else.”
“Agreed,” said Don. “I think we can take it as a working proposition that like most people the informer was not suicidal, and so somehow arranged to be on detached duty rather than ride into the deadly ambush he or she had just set up.”
“As you said earlier, Trude operated on her own in urban areas organizing supplies and logistics for the column, and so she had the opportunity to make contact with the Federal authorities or somehow directly with Monkey Meat Coleman. A much better opportunity than any of the others, although some like Volunteers Cord, Palmieri, and Saltovic did do supply runs and other missions on their own.”
“Wasn’t it standard operating procedure to always send Volunteers on any mission in pairs?” recalled Redmond.
“It wasn’t always practical to follow that rule, and also after a while the feds picked up on it and started concentrating random traffic stops, searches, and harassment on pairs of white people they observed in public,” Morgan explained. “So yes, some of the other eight are known to have done occasional single tasks or trips into town for the column, and it is entirely likely that all of them did at one time or another. But more significantly, after the massacre at Ravenhill Ranch the first eight Volunteers stayed at their posts. Some of them have since held eminent and responsible positions in the Republic’s government, in the Party, and in society.
"Trudy Greiner went AWOL. She disappeared off the face of the earth. She broke contact with the NVA the morning of the ambush, and that letter you’re holding in your hand is the first solid lead we have had on her whereabouts in almost forty years. If she wasn’t guilty, Don, then why did she run?”
“She may tell us when she gets here,” suggested Don.
“That’s what I’m afraid of. The second thing was that on the morning of July 31st, the day before Ravenhill, a one million dollar deposit was made into a covert Party bank account at the Westlake branch of the Bank of America in Seattle. One of Trudy Greiner’s covert accounts. It was a wire transfer from a corporation in Hamilton, Bermuda, which corporation appeared and then disappeared forever, having performed that one single financial transaction. This deposit was made day before the column was slaughtered by the FATPOs, Don.”
“Premeditation,” said Don, sending a curl of cigar smoke into the air. “Someone was setting it up. Someone knew what was coming.”
“Yes. That million bucks did not come from any known Party or NVA source.
Jesus, I don’t think the Party ever had a million dollars in the bank until some years after independence, never mind during the revolution itself. The day after the ambush, August the second, a young woman matching Trudy Greiner’s description, who had ID in that name and knew Trudy Greiner’s password and account details and who passed an electronic fingerprint scan, came into the bank and withdrew that entire amount in the form of a certified cashier’s check. The check was made out to Gertrude Greiner. After the war we were able to obtain an affidavit to that effect from the vice president of the bank who issued the draft along with the computer printouts for the transaction.”
“Do we know for certain that Trudy Greiner was the woman who withdrew the money?” asked Don Redmond.
“There were bank security camera videos, but they have long since disappeared. No, Colonel, we do not know for absolute certain that it was Trudy Greiner who took that money and fled. Even in those days fingerprinting could be forged; the Israeli Mossad made a practice of it. Nor were we ever able to trace the certified check. We have no idea on earth where it was ever cashed or deposited. By the time the Republic’s intelligence services were in any position to do any such thing the paper trail had become far too old and cold.”
“Cold as ice then, yeah. It’s goddamned Antarctic now, and the evidence has been eaten by penguins. You still want me to try and find out the truth at this late date? You need a historian, not a cop!”
“That part of our history is still too close for comfort and there are still things in some of those closed dossiers down in the basement of the Temple of Justice that could come back to bite us,” Morgan told him. “This incident prominent among them. You have to understand, Don, that if Trudy Greiner is innocent, then the potential for an ungodly scandal is very much present. Besides Trudy herself there are eight survivors of the Olympic Flying Column. Seven men and one woman. If one of those eight is a traitor who has lived among us all this time, then it will shake the very foundations of this nation to the core.”
“Who are those survivors, sir?” asked Don.
“Two of them are now senior military officers, and that worries the hell out of me. Admiral David Leach is the Kriegsmarine Chief of Staff. He has been rightly called the father of the Northwest Republic’s navy, today the fourth most powerful in the world after China, the European Union, and Russia.
"Another of the survivors is a very senior civil servant, Frank Palmieri, who is currently Minister of Transport for the NAR. He might equally well be called the father of our public transportation system, acknowledged even by our bitterest enemies to be the best in the world.
"Another veteran of the Olympic Flying Column is one of the Republic’s most brilliant scientists, Dr. Joseph Cord. A genius in his own field of applied particle beam technology and quantum physics, and the inventor of the atomic fusion engine who bears a large part of the credit for making our space program possible. Not to mention his invention of the plasma anti-aircraft weapons systems that broke American air power, and which have made the very existence of this country as a free and independent nation possible, as well as the existence of a hundred other small sovereign states throughout the world.
"Cord is a difficult man to like and work with, like many geniuses…hell, the man is an arrogant ass! I have to meet him on occasion in my official capacity and every time I do I feel like I’ve just finished eight hours of moving furniture. But Joseph Cord put an end to the American Empire when his plasma ray weapons delivered to humanity a way to bring those terrible bombers and missiles down out of the sky, no matter how high up they tried to hide while they dropped their cowardly bombs. ZOG had to come down out of the sky and face their victims man to man on the ground, and they’ve been on the retreat ever since.
"Yet another survivor of Murdock’s command is the concert pianist and composer Dragutin Saltovic, a virtuoso of international renown and a national hero in his native Serbia. He’s so damned good that his is the only classical music except Wagner I could ever listen to; the man saved me from a lifetime of George Jones.
"The remaining three survivors have spent the past thirty-odd years since the revolution in private life. Former Volunteer Lars Frierson is a high school teacher in The Dalles, Oregon. Former Volunteers Edward and Brittany McCanless are Old Believers who run a book and sundries shop in Centralia."
“You left one out,” Redmond reminded him. “The second senior military officer.”
“Yes, so I did,” admitted Morgan. “The final survivor of the Olympic Flying Column. Special Service Major General William Vitale.”
“Big Bill,” said Redmond angrily. “So that’s why I’m here! That’s why you sent for me personally. You want me to find out if Big Bill Vitale, of all the men on earth, is a traitor! A man you have invited into your own home, a man who is a part of our own family as much as if he was born among us! With all due respect, sir, damn you!”
“I don’t blame you for being upset, Don, but perhaps you understand now why I want this handled in the family, so to speak?”
“You cannot possibly think any such thing!” snapped Don.
“No, as a matter of fact I don’t. Do you believe that letter is legitimate?” asked Morgan, pointing to the glassined document lying on his desk.
“I have no way of knowing whether it is legitimate or not,” responded Redmond.
“Nor do I. But we can’t ignore it, especially if she really does walk across that border crossing on the twenty-second of October. We can’t just wait here for Trudy Greiner to drop whatever bomb she intends to drop on Independence Day. We must have some idea of what the hell we are up against, and we have to know beforehand so we can figure out how the hell to deal with this!”
“Yes, sir, I can see that. There is something else. Sir, you also realize that if I dig too deeply into Ravenhill and it turns out that our official version of those events, shall we say, becomes inoperative, then it may also involved undermining or revising the whole Melanie Young legend?” demanded Redmond. “The Melanie Young cult is one of the bases of our whole social culture, especially for a whole generation of young women who have grown up wanting to live up to Melanie’s legacy while simultaneously cursing Trudy Greiner as the ultimate in female evil. The Madonna and the devil bitch.
"Suppose the Madonna isn’t really the Madonna and the bitch turns out to be an innocent woman whom we have all spent a lifetime unjustly defiling? Are you sure we want to start down that path, sir? We don’t know where it might lead. You were right about icons and legends. If one icon turns out to be plaster and not gold, and if one legend turns out to be a lie, others might be just as false. This business may be turn out to be a loose thread and if we pull on it the whole fabric of our society might unravel! If Trudy Greiner comes back with some missing piece of evidence or some way to prove that she really didn’t betray the Column, we got major problems, boss man. Because if she didn’t, then who the hell did?”
“I haven’t slept since I read that letter,” said Morgan quietly. “Don, we have to know! As bad as it might be if she can prove she’s innocent, what if she can’t? If Trudy Greiner can’t prove what she says there, then I am going to have to put a rope around her neck! I’ve killed men and women in the performance of my duty before, Don, and so have you. I’ll do it again and most likely so will you. But never, so far as I know, has it been undeserved. I must be sure! I owe that to the Republic, to history. I owe it to her and to those fifty-two brothers and sisters who died on that hillside. And yes, I owe it to myself!"