How To Retake American Soil
Captain Randall Bergman of the USS Francisco is a no-nonsense kind of leader, the sort of gung-ho military man who shoots from the hip, doesn’t take no for an answer, and kicks butt first and asks questions later. I’m guessing that’s why the Francisco languished in a tough and aggressive manner for just four short days before any of the sailors came ashore to confront the little Canadian guy in the geranium shack.
But come ashore they did. I was hanging out in the town, chatting with Rex “The Codfather” Stone of WGSI Radio fame, when I saw the motorized launch chug away from the Francisco’s side. On board were Captain Randall Bergman, who was literally standing in the bow trying to impersonate George Washington, and three of his officers.
The launch headed directly for the recently erected office of the Canadian Ministry of Outport Management, Lower Maritimes, and so I did the same. I got there just a few minutes ahead of the launch.
At the recently erected office of the Canadian Ministry of Outport Management, Lower Maritimes, I found Deputy Minister Lawrence Schoendorfen painting the outside of the small structure. The building had just been pounded together a few days ago, and it was painted then, so I wasn’t entirely sure just what Deputy Minister Lawrence Schoendorfen thought he was accomplishing. But with the launch looming large, I decided not to veer off on that tangent.
“Suppose they’re coming to talk to you?” I asked.
Larry — he hates it when I call him that — carefully put his paintbrush into the roller pan he had neatly filled with 1.25 regulation-depth inches of Canadian-issue white paint, and he looked at me with a mixture of suspicion and shame. I think he harbors foggy memories of Meg, booze, and me. He couldn’t make those memories coalesce into anything solid, though, so he looked out to sea.
“I imagine they are,” he said in a flat and decidedly unscared tone of voice. “It’s high time we talked.”
Larry had donned his full Ministry of Outport Management regalia, complete with the jacket that has the patch on it, by the time Captain Bergman and his orchestra pulled up on the beach. The representatives of the Sovereign Nations in Question shook hands and exchanged pleasantries on the rocks.
Then Randy Bergman got down to business.
“I see you have erected an official Canadian governmental structure on U.S. soil,” he observed, gesturing to Larry’s little shack.
“No, sir,” Larry replied in that classic clipped military tone. “I have erected an official Canadian ministerial structure on Canadian soil. And in the future, I would appreciate advance notice before members of the American Navy set foot on this soil without permission.”
“Permission?” rebutted Captain Randy, flaring anger through his mirrored sunglasses. “I’ll have you know, Schoondorf, that it is you who are in violation of international protocol. Erecting an official governmental building on another country’s soil can be considered an aggressive act.”
“Certainly less aggressive than parking a destroyer in another country’s harbor,” countered Larry. “And it’s Schoendorfen, if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t care if it’s Dorfenschoonen,” Randy parried. “I have orders to remove that structure, and I intend to do so.”
“You can’t remove it,” Larry answered. “It’s official Canadian property on official Canadian land. And I’ll ask you to get back in your launch and return to your ship. I’ll contact my superiors this afternoon and receive instructions as to how to proceed in this matter.”
There’s something touchy about using the word “can’t” around short men who look twelve. It’s like they still smart from being told they can’t drive a car yet, or that they can’t have an electric shaver because there just isn’t any point. At Larry’s insistence that he can’t remove the shack, coupled with the suggestion that he should crawl back to his ship and wait for orders from Canadian ministers who probably still wear powdered wigs, Bergman flashed his very best angry and indignant look.
“We can remove this structure, and we shall!” he declared. No one really uses the word “shall” anymore, but it seemed to work in this occasion. Bergman snapped his fingers — a nice touch — and his officers sprinted to the launch, where they produced a long chain with some hooks on the end. The officers dashed toward the newest office of the Ministry of Outport Management, Lower Maritimes, with a destructive gleam in their eyes.
Seeing their bold and inflammatory move, Larry leapt toward his combination office and home. He got there an instant before the chain-wielding officers arrived with their Weapon of Shack Destruction. Larry lunged through the door and grabbed a telephone from the desk.
He was busy dialing digits — the phone service on Grand Seal Island is tied to the American system, so he had to punch in a lot of international numbers — while Bergman’s officers surrounded the shack with their chain. They hooked the chain to itself and hauled the other end down the beach to the launch.
“Hello?” Larry said into the telephone. “Please put me through to Minister Archibald Bleeth, please. I’m sorry to be a nuisance, but it is something of an emergency.”
The officers, joined in the launch by Captain Randall “Going on Thirteen” Bergman, gunned the boat’s powerful diesel engines. Blue smoke rose from the stern, and a dull, rattling roar cut through the Maritime air.
“Hello? Yes, please. I’m Deputy Minister Lawrence Schoendorfen, and I’d like to speak to Minister Archibald Bleeth. This call is urgent, so please put me through as quickly as possible.”
The twin screws on the stern of the launch churned the green seawater into pale foam. The launch pulled away from the beach.
“I’ll hold if necessary,” Larry continued. “But please allow me to point out that this call could be considered of the utmost importance. I’ve run into a bit of a disturbance with the Yanks, you see, and I — ”
The chain stiffened, yanking the GSI Office of the Canadian Ministry of Outport Management, Lower Maritimes, off its stone foundation.
“Yes, thank you. You see, the Americans are attempting to forcibly remove the — Yes. Of course. Sorry to be a bother. I’ll hold.”
The power line snapped, snaking sparks along the beach. Next went the telephone line, making Larry’s hold permanent.
He rushed to a window. I could no longer make out what he was saying, because the launch’s engines were thrumming at full blast.
As the launch backed off the beach — with Captain Randall Bergman standing once again in the bow — the Outport shack bounced and dragged over the stones of the beach. Now Larry was yelling something at Bergman and his officers, but they couldn’t hear either.
When the shack hit the water, it floated remarkably well for a prefab. The launch towed it out toward open water like a tank hauling a mobile home.
Eventually, however, the plywood, composite wood panels, drywall, and carpeting hit their saturation points, and the little shack began to sink. Bergman and his launch continued to haul it away from shore, as though he was going to drag it all the way to Great Britain and deposit it there as a not-so-subtle reminder of who won the Unpleasantries of 1776.
It didn’t make the mouth of the harbor. The waterlogged shack gave up the ghost and sank about two hundred yards off the USS Francisco’s stern.
Deputy Minister Lawrence Schoendorfen, of the Canadian Ministry of Outport Management, Lower Maritimes, had no choice but to wriggle out a window and swim for shore.
— Donovan Graham, “The Shadowless Writer”
Comment — NavyBrat414: Haw! Score one for the US Navy!
Comment — FreedomFirst: You show ’em, Bergman! They want a war, they can have one!
Comment — WomynFire982: oh, children…. we’re talking about a dinghy pulling a tiny shack into the water. i’m not certain that this reaches “day that shall live in infamy” levels.
Comment — MapleLeaf249: Just you wait! You arrogant Yanks will regret this! And we do NOT wear powdered wigs anymore!
Read previous blog entries in the Island Wars story by clicking here.