No John, you are the Syndies
- Dec 17, 2009
Dance With The Devil
1938, Earlier that year...
It had been an eventful day, certainly, so to say that he was tired was an understatement. But that would be to sell it too short. No, no, this was not just any day. Thump. Thump. Pthaaaaw. Pthump. For a man who had been constantly at war for years, one could forgive him if he ducked in panic. But no, just fireworks. A good sign, very good. So the news was spreading. And why shouldn't they celebrate? It was a long war, and many good people – no, not just people, family – had died. Everyone had a right to be happy today. Hell, he didn't even have any headaches! No pain today. Poignant I suppose...thank you. That cry for freedom, for a new dawn, was approaching fast. It was the closing on one chapter in human history, and the opening of another! Not so fast Jack, you thought you saw the future back then too. We all fucking thought we did. Ah, yes. The Red Revolution of years earlier, of Russia's failed attempt to hurl itself screaming into the future. He wistfully recalled. If his earlier had been his awakening, then Russia had been his baptism. He remembered arriving, of witnessing...
Here it was, a formerly enslaved people trying to build themselves up. But it's not that simple, it never is. Indeed, it never was. He even remembered that book – that screed – he had written in the heady early days of his arrival. The Soviets looked like they were the future. It all looked so simple. It was the glorious beginning of the new era of man. But it was good he saw it up front firsthand, because he got to stick around long enough to see the paint peeling off the facade. Louise had warned him – dearest Louise, even now, in this happy hour, I miss your soft hand, your radiant smile. The Revolution wasn't going like he had dreamed, not at all. He always hated the bastards of the Cheka. They were little better than the damned Tsar's Okhrana at the best of times. But it was an emergency measure, he reasoned. He even championed their tactics earlier – raztrellyat. The Revolution faced a multitude of enemies, it had to use ruthlessness to fight back just to survive. You fucking knew better. You know you did. You just didn't want to face the truth. No use fighting that damn conscience – of course it was right. He knew. And it got even worse. Or maybe you just opened your eyes.
The first time he saw people up against the wall, he knew they were oppressive lords, slave herders. The next times he saw, they were evil too, weren't they? White officers, reactionaries, the lot of them. He'd gotten time to interview one of them before his fate came to meet him, Felix was his name. Why did he do it, Jack mused? Didn't he see what they were trying to do here? “Yes, I suppose I am a reactionary. My friend here, next to me is too, wants the Tsar back. You can't understand. But now is not the time for that. Me? I wanted to be free, is all. We've lost much, but for the first time, we're free in the Republic! It's hard, officials are corrupt, people are stealing, but at least we're free! But more than me, my children must breathe free! And if I have to lose my life, than that is a small price to pay, my American friend!” “So what are you going to do now then?” “Why, its simple, isn't it? I am going to die. Could you do me one last thing, as a favor? Not as a Red and a White, but as a man to a man.” “I...what is it” he recalled, whispering. “Please, give this letter to my wife and children. The bastards didn't find it yet. They aren't looking right now. From one man to another”. To this day, he didn't know why he took the letter, and the leather case, but he did. That joyful smile as Felix accepted his fate, as Felix was led away to the wall, that smile would haunt him till the end of life, Jack was sure.
Jack still didn't do anything with the letter for a while. Would it not betray his devotion to the cause of the liberation of man? And yet, and yet, he didn't throw it away. For some damnable reason, he kept it. Everyday, it seemed more stage and theater. Attend this, attend that. Even the executions were staged now. He wanted to see the real nitty gritty. As he was in good with the Cheka, he finally got to see. You got way more than you bargained for, didn't you? He did for sure. They'd later call it another word, but to him, he saw something else. They weren't people he was looking at, that he could agree with his tour guides. But it wasn't so much because they were enemies, which no doubt they were. No doubt...of course. If his conscience had a voice then, no doubt It was the most sarcastic sneer ever made. No, they weren't people because of the skin barely clinging to their bones. They looked less like people than some monsters shuffling about in human skin. But the worst was the eyes, he would never, as long as he lived, never, ever forget those eyes. He remembered clutching Felix's letter.
Louise, dearest Louise had arrived to meet him in Petrograd not too long after. She'd made her journey even faster, his letters alarmed her, as well as his good friend Ben. 'Good Gitlow' urged her to get to Russia, he knew Jack was feeling sick. He remembered talking, and talking to her, while she sat in rapt attention, holding his hand in hers. He couldn't hold it up anymore, he let it all out. They both had gotten together in the first place because they shared ideals, didn't they? Sure, earlier, they played at love, even wandering freely with others. But it wasn't the same with the others. They shared something, they shared the fire of the heart! She supported him coming here if he wanted to learn the truth, as he was always want of saying. And now, here he was, and he was unloading on the truth. He was telling her his truth, for he'd seen more truth than he could bear. The dream had become a nightmare. That was the only conclusion. Two days hence, Grigory Zinoviev had told him he had to attend the Congress Of The Peoples of the East. More bullshit no doubt. Instead, Louise made it clear – they were leaving. Whatever they, whatever legions around the world dreamed of, this wasn't it. Reed was only too happy to agree, but first, he remembered suggesting, there was something he had to deliver to someone...
It was fortunate they went back, he mused. The German Intervention went into full swing, and with a resurgence of the Republic, the Russian Soviet had been layed low. Yes, it was reactionaries and tyrants who killed it, but then again, he remembered, nothing so evil deserved to live anyways. No, if that was the future, he didn't want any part of it. He'd forge instead a different destiny. He could see it in the eyes of the workers he walked past. Dejection, and depression. Only want, no hope. No, the fire still must burn. The dream could still happen. And thus he worked – you worked hard, dammit – for that future. He reflected his surprise in the years since then. A chance speaking encounter at an IWW function, and they all stood up and brought the house down. He scoffed at starting a party. Then he found out Louise had cheekily already registered him. All he did was speak, and pour his soul out. That's all I did, I simply told my truth. And people listened. More and more people listened. He couldn't believe it. Sure, he was demonized by people he'd never heard of, multitudes even. But where he walked, people followed. The American Syndicalist Party gained its first million people. Then two. Then four. There was no way this was happening, but it was! And then too, he remembered bitterly, when he was to begin his run for the Presidency, his other half could follow him no longer. Even now, even after all this, it was hard to think of her without fighting back tears. I'll always be with you, you said. You still are, in my heart. And I, I will never, ever forget you.
Of course, 1936 turned out to be a momentous year. He'd gone beyond all expectations and won the Election. Him! Syndicalists! They had won! And then, everything started going to Hell. First, it was California. They wanted to persist in their greed. He simply didn't think nationalizing the industries of the rich bastards would start a chain that it did. You just didn't judge accurately enough how divisive you were. If he could have known what would happen, he wouldn't have run at all. But then, what would Louise have thought? Of course, she would have told him this all would have happened anyways. The tensions were boiling beneath the surface. It didn't matter who won, really. Curtis told him as much later during the war. So why wasn't he assuaged of his guilt? Hell, why are you thinking about all this, on today of all days? Because you have a duty to, that's why. To yourself, to the people...and to her. Of course, it was right again. This he had to. What happened in those heady days of 36 changed the course of human history. He had to account to someone. God? Well, God knew anyways, didn't he? And the people, the people responded to his pleas with more vigor than he had ever thought possible. They believed in him. But he still had to give his truth, his life demanded no less. Louise had always believed he would. And he didn't want to let her down.
“Comrade Chairman!”, a voice outside the door announced
“Yes, what is it my good man?”
“Dwight and the rest of the junta have signed the surrender”
“Did they now? Unconditional? So what remains then?”
“Just your signature. And, may I say it, but congratulations. You did it!”
“We all did, I just did what I felt was right, comrade...?”
“Jacobus. And I mean it. We have a future now.”
“Very good. I'll sign the treaty in a minute.”
“Please do. There's a pretty big party going on already, wouldn't want you to miss it.”
As Jacobus left the room, Jack Reed found himself looking at the paper before him. Long, heavy paper. The kind that would last a long time. Good thinking. Symbolic of the hopes and dreams of a new generation. He thought again, back to the start of what would become the Second American Civil War. That bastard MacArthur, he set the events in motion. Jack had thought that he had a point when he said the Army could not assist in getting the oil California had kept, or enforcing an embargo. Little did he know then that MacArthur was already thinking of deposing him – maybe he would have seen the danger signs if she hadn't died. If only – MacArthur made clear there would not be new elections when he announced the coup. He thought, too, of his rival, Huey Long. Maybe in another life, they would have been friends, they had thought so similarly on many things. At the least, they could have fought MacArthur together when he took control. Jack simply didn't understand why things turned out the way they did.Through the bitter conflict, brother against brother – and sister – yes, and sister. He remembered signing the document allowing women to serve. It was war of all against all. But the people believed in him, as Louise told him they always would. And against all odds, they prevailed. Pthump. More fireworks. He looked out the window of the Oval Office. Washington DC sure looked pretty at night, when the people were celebrating. All was as it should be, no? Now, more than ever, he wished he had her hand to hold during this moment, but as she said during their last moments, I'll be with you always. He looked at the space. John Reed, 1st President of the Provisional Combined Syndicates of America. As he layed down his pen and put his head in his hands, he was sure he could feel a pair of hands embrace him...they were always the kindest, softest hands...
When he stirred from his reverie, he took his pen with a flourish. This is for you Louise. You, and the future, our children's future. This is for all of them. And with that, the Combined Syndicates of America were born. Only then did he glance at the paper, and wryly he realized that this was destiny.
It was the Fourth of July.
Well! After much dawdling, I've decided I should give this formal AAR thing a try! Personally, I don't think it'll go as some may think, so no its not another Syndies win everything, the end AAR. I'll try to tell a compelling story, and make you feel some feels. Hopefully will write lots of custom events to make this a memorable AAR. I think it will be to you all. As you can see, yes I took certain...liberties, with Jack Reed's life story, but it makes it more compelling, I feel. Either way, thanks for reading!
Next update, general world situation!
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