We the People
Today was the Big Vote. Henry had organized the referendum, and Meg had gone all over the island stapling announcements to trees and buildings. She even went to The Village, and I’m no longer convinced that it was her first trip.
The gathering was to take place in the Town Hall meeting room, and by the end of the evening, we would know whether we were Canadian or American. I was pulling for Canada myself. With half the people in America these days trying to forcibly inflict their views on the other half, Canada just seems like a more peaceful and civilized place to be.
Captain Randall Bergman was there, representing the American interests — his presence demonstrating how little interest America held on the subject — and Captain Amos MacDowell represented The Crown. I represented The Media. Henry represented general tough-ass Authority.
The voting began at eleven o’clock this morning, and by two o’clock this afternoon, nearly everyone in the town had voted. The polling station had simmered down from hard boil to tepid idleness, and I began to wonder why Henry allowed so much time for so few people to vote. I took advantage of a quiet moment — one of several — to vote myself. I gave my name to Cory, who was serving as the Chief Record-Keeper and Order-Maintainer, and then I stepped into one of the two little booths. I pulled the curtain closed behind me and opened the ballot.
It was artful in its simplicity. It read:
Referendum: On the Question of National Citizenship
The national affiliation of Grand Seal Island has been in dispute for many years. Recently, this dispute has become critical. Therefore, the people of Grand Seal Island have been asked by the governments of the United States and Canada to vote, through the process of referendum, to select once and for all the nation of which the people of Grand Seal Island will become citizens.
Please indicate your choice below by marking an X in the appropriate box. You may mark only one box.
o The United States of America
please write legibly
I was reasonably certain that some people would check off “Other” and write in “Mars” or “Zimbabwe” or something, just to be silly. I placed my vote for Canada, handed my slip to Cory, and watched as she slipped it into the official Ballot Box. Then I wandered over to a blue plastic chair and settled down to wait.
It was around three o’clock when the rumble began off in the distance. It grew louder, so I poked outside to see what was going on.
Coming up from the south — on the road that goes past The Stump — was a convoy of Villagers. They were stuffed into the cabs and back ends of pickup trucks. They were draped four at a time over motorcycle seats. Eight of them were crammed into the Island Car, which I hadn’t even noticed was missing.
At the wheel of the Island Car was Meg, flashing her snaggle-toothed grin beneath a maroon beret. She honked the horn, hit the brakes, and flung open the doors.
“Don’t forget these people!” she called out to Henry, who looked far less surprised than I had expected. “They get to vote, too!”
She trotted over to where I stood.
“I saw you at Meeting,” she said with a smile. “Next time, sit with me.” She gave me a quick kiss on the mouth. Damn — even little kisses from her feel charged with something special. I forgot all about the theft of my car.
As near as I could tell, everyone from The Village was there. Bo drove his motorcycle with Celia and several others behind him. Summer came in Wiry Guy’s red pickup, along with a mob of semi-naked smelly people. Even Mitch was there, although he had to sit on someone’s bumper the whole way up.
The Motley Crew formed a line and entered the Town Hall to vote. Cory had been charged with maintaining Law and Order, and she also seemed to expect this sudden influx. She shepherded the people through the voting process.
In general, I had gathered the impression over the past few days that most of the Minot clan favored Canada, while most of the Coffins preferred the United States. So this referendum extended beyond a vote on citizenship. It also served as a gauge of the two families’ respective political clout. It made me seriously consider voting for the U.S., but loyalty goes only so far.
How the Village Mob was going to vote, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t think they knew the referendum was happening at all.
After about two hours of paperwork and wrangling and the filling out of the ballots by the Village Elite, the voting was officially over. Henry and Cory — along with Archie and several other Minots, as well as the two Captains Kangaroo — took the ballot box into a back room to begin the tally.
Meanwhile, the Village Gang flopped all over Main Street. They were drinking beer in the sun, tossing Frisbees, pounding on guitars and strumming bongos, and generally acting Village-ish. I found Meg sitting on a porch step, and I sat down next to her.
“What do you think is going to happen?” I asked.
She flipped her ponytail back. “I have a pretty good idea,” she said with that beautiful little smile of hers. “But I don’t want to tell you.”
I started to ask her about the onslaught of Villagers, and about her leading the way in my Island Car, but I somehow decided against it. I had a feeling she was up to something — again — and I was content to let it unfold on its own.
I bought her a nice meal at The Larboard — although I must say it’s weird buying a girl a dinner that she cooks herself in her mother’s restaurant — and then we wandered back to the Town Hall to see if the vote-counting was done. We were there just a few minutes when Cory rang a hand-held bell.
The crowd materialized in no time — the Townspeople from their homes and the Villagers from under rocks and porches — and Cory commanded the audience into silence.
“We have the results of the vote,” she declared. Next to her on the Town Hall porch was Henry, and next to Henry were Captain Bergman and Captain MacDowell. Neither looked very happy — I suspect they never do — but Henry looked smug and quite pleased with himself. He winked at Meg. He actually winked.
The crowd was hushed. Cory held up a sheet of paper.
“Those who voted in favor of the United States — 22 percent!” she called out.
Cheers from some of the crowd. I couldn’t tell if they were Americaphiles who thought that 22 percent was a good number or Canadaphiles who thought that 22 was low.
“Those who voted in favor of Canada — 18 percent!” Cory announced.
Ah! I get it! Sixty percent unaccounted for. There was some secret movement afoot to get people to write in some other country. For all I knew, we would soon be citizens of Bermuda. I suspected that Meg was behind it all.
“The remaining 60 percent of the vote,” Cory shouted, “spoke with one voice.”
I knew it!
“Therefore,” Cory continued, “I hereby announce that we are all now citizens . . . of the sovereign nation of Grand Seal Island!”
Sovereign nation? We just voted to secede from everyone?
The crowd — and especially the Villagers — cheered. It was clear from the expressions on their faces that the Villages had voted as a block, and they undoubtedly made up most of that 60 percent tally. A sovereign nation! I suspected that the legalization of marijuana would be written into the first draft of the GSI Constitution.
When the cheering — and gasps — had subsided, Cory held Henry’s hand up high.
“We will have governmental elections soon,” she declared, “but for now, it seems that the Mayor of Grand Seal Island has just become the first President of Grand Seal Island!”
The cheers grew louder, especially from the non-Minot members of the audience. The Minots looked stunned and a little bit sick.
Henry stepped forward. “My fellow Islanders,” he said in his best speechifying voice, peering over his half-glasses, “I pledge that my government will be fair and open. And to that end, as my first act in office, I hereby nominate Archie Minot as our nation’s first Vice-President!”
Now everyone cheered. The Minots were thrilled. The Coffins were thrilled. And the Villagers knew that they would be allowed to party their brains out in relative peace on the south end of the island. Archie cut through the crowd and joined Henry on the porch.
“My fellow Islanders,” he said, mimicking Henry’s line, “I am delighted to accept this position. As my daddy once said to me, a long time ago, he said, ‘Archie, whatever you do in life, always be sure to….”
Most of the crowd wandered off. Henry and Cory stepped into The Larboard. Archie continued talking to the emptying street. I took Meg’s hand, and together we walked down the street.
“Did you orchestrate that?” I asked.
Meg flashed a wicked grin.
“Sorry,” she said. “As the First Daughter, I’m not allowed to grant interviews to the press.”
— Donovan Graham, “The Shadowless Writer”
Comment — FreedomFirst: No way! There’s no chance in hell that the United States will allow your little island to leave and form its own country. No chance!
Comment — MapleLeaf249: Well, you can bet that Canada won’t allow the U.S. to inflict its will on the island. The U.S. had better back off and let things unfold as they will.
Comment — FreedomFirst: Well, the U.S. won’t allow Canada to meddle, either. Mess with GSI, and you’ll answer to us.
Comment — PeaceNick: Maybe this means that you’ll BOTH have 2 leave the island alone 2 do what those people want. Isn’t that what FREEDOM is all about???
Comment — PolSci206: This is great! We get to watch a new nation being born! What a great term project!
Comment — Kate Fisher, editor: Nice scoop, Van.
Read previous blog entries in the Island Wars story by clicking here.