Kaiser Wilhelm III
2005-06-18 01:36:30 UTC
I'm currently rewriting the Battle of Long Island part of post #117, which
will take me a few days to get right. In the meantime, I've finished off an
interlude which shows a bit more about life in New York in 1950...
* * *
"New York: the city that never sleeps. But that might be food poisoning."
- Arthur Mondey, Australian travel columnist, Liverpool Star, 1949
* * *
14 July 1950
New York City, Long Island
Republic of New England
Andrew Kelvin walks unsteadily through Manhattan. He thinks that he should
not feel drunk; he is only on his tenth - or is it eleventh? - schooner of
the yellow water that the New Yorkers call beer. It should not affect him,
really. Maybe it is the noise - the streets around him are so full he
wonders if the dead have risen to join the celebration. Or maybe it is the
sky-lag from the long flight across the Atlantic. Or maybe it is the
alcohol and the noise and the sky-lag.
There is meant to be a parade; men in strange costumes and on floats or
autocycles should be going through the streets. If they are, they have a
slow path, since the men and women on the streets are too busy celebrating
on their own to let the parade through. Andrew supposes that it would have
been simpler to declare this road - Fifth Avenue, he thinks it is called,
but his memories are somewhat foggy by now - to be an open-air dance floor
rather than holding a parade, but it matters little.
"Páselo!" someone says, and hands Andrew a jug of some dark liquid. He
takes a long swig; it is some flavour of rum. At least some Yankees know
how to mix a decent drink. Or is it a visitor to the city? Andrew can't
begin to guess, but he passes the now rather lighter jug onto another random
stranger and shouts, "Cheers!"
He would like another drink, but every pub in the city has queues pushing
out into the streets anyway. Andrew settles for good-naturedly pushing his
way across the road toward the big expanse of trees called Grand Park
[Central Park]. He has been here before on his one previous visit to New
York, and while that time he was only interested in finding a private spot,
here he just wants somewhere slightly less noisy and where there is a
quarter of an inch or so between the people.
As Andrew crosses Fifth Avenue, he works his way through men and women of
every race and colour and creed, or so it seems to him. Lots of Yankees, of
course, including what looks like all of New York's large Dominican
community out on the streets, ready to dance until dawn. Besides them, he
hears an innumerable variety of accents he places without thinking: Hellene,
Russian, Italian, Hungarian, Scots, Liberian, Nipponese, Dutch and Austrian
and several other varieties of German, something guttural he belatedly
recognises as Cymrese, and one or two accents which might be English. Some
of the people on the streets are clearly of Chinese descent too, although he
wouldn't care to guess their nationality without hearing their voices more
closely. They might even be Australians like himself, for all he knows, but
he has not heard many of his countrymen's accents tonight that he can
remember, and usually he would pick them out of even the loudest crowd.
The road crossed, Andrew finds the crowds thin only slightly as he edges
into Grand Park. The New Yorkers call this event Carnival, even if it falls
at the wrong time for when the rest of the world celebrates it. Well, it's
too cold to celebrate properly on the streets in New York winter, he
supposes. They can't spend their whole lives cooped up inside the
cloudscrapers that he has seen so many of in the few hours since his
arrival- enough to match Liverpool [Melbourne, Australia] or maybe even
Sydney, it seems like. The New Yorkers like to build things, that is for
Slowly, Andrew wanders further into Grand Park, only barely aware that he is
doing it. "I didn't drink that much of that rum," he mutters, feeling his
stomach heave for a moment. Ten or eleven schooners of no-alcohol beer
should not make that much difference, but he feels like a moment to clear
his head, away from the crowds packed even amongst the trees here.
He drifts further into Grand Park, away from the worst of the noise, and
where the street lamps are further apart. This place is quite secluded,
really, and most of the people he sees here are couples hurrying past or
trying to find their own quiet corners. His only half-planned footsteps
take him away from most of the people, until he finds himself standing
beside a marble pillar, with a long list of names on its side and an
inscription at its base that he struggles to read in the semi-darkness.
"In memory of those New Yorkers fallen for freedom in the First American
Revolution," Andrew reads, and the concentration lifts some of the haze from
his mind. Of course. The Avenue of the Fallen, through the centre of Grand
Park. Sure enough, looking up he can make out other statues and pillars
along both sides of the road.
"Too sombre for tonight," Andrew says to himself, but keeps along the avenue
anyway. The walk should clear his head, and it is quieter here than
elsewhere. The statues and columns on either side show those who fought and
died - or just died - in the many wars New York has seen. One statue of a
particularly sad-looking gentlemen catches his eye long enough for him to
read: RUFUS KING, MARTYR OF THE SECOND AMERICAN REVOLUTION. The name means
nothing to Andrew, but the man must have been someone important .
The monuments to the fallen, and the lists of their names, grow longer as he
lurches on. The First and Second American Revolutions. The War of 1833.
The Russian War. The Second Napoleonic Wars. The North American War. The
Great War. No more recent monuments than the Great War, but then these days
nations usually don't bother calling their conflicts 'wars' anymore. "Now
we just have incidents," Andrew mutters, quoting a certain lady whom he has
become acquainted with recently. She has an astonishing knowledge of
history, amongst much else, and some things seem to have rubbed off.
The crowds begin to grow thicker as Andrew draws near the other side of
Grand Park. There is no Carnival parade down this street that he knows of,
but it is still full of people and alcohol and celebrations. Better. His
wooziness has faded with the walk, and after the monuments he has just seen,
another drink would be most welcome.
He hurries through this street in search of a pub where he can find
something resembling alcohol to drink. The crowds are thinner here, and he
finds what he wants after only a few minutes' pushing. This pub has a man
out the front only slightly smaller than the Colossus of New York, but who
just nods as Andrew walks in. Quite what dress standards the man is meant
to enforce, he can only guess, since Andrew is wearing a collarless T-shirt
which would be unacceptable back in Liverpool. Maybe the dress standard for
Carnival is simply wearing clothes.
The pub is filled with Yankee accents, much more than anything else, as
Andrew slowly works his way to the bar. The pub has far more men than
women, something which would have annoyed him far more a few months than it
does now. As it is, he just shrugs mentally and orders a rum and cola. The
barman gives him a slightly odd look, but mixes the drink. Andrew thinks
little of that, until he notices that several men on both sides are staring
at him too.
Unsure what to do about the stares, he waits for the barman to hand him the
glass, then takes a slow sip.
At length, one of the Yankees says, "You a... gringo?" He did not say
"Jackal", perhaps, but it would be a brave New Englander who uses that name
for one of their southern neighbours in their hearing.
Andrew curses himself. He had not even realised he had spoken in an
American accent. A bad habit, that, but he cannot travel openly in the USA
these days. No Australian can, not even under a diplomatic passport.
Hearing the Yankee accents all around him... well, they were not gringo
drawls, but close enough that he must have spoken like an American without
Quickly, Andrew says, "No, I'm from Sweden." That lie should pass easily
enough. His ancestry is mixed enough that he can pass for a native of any
European country north of the Pyrenees. "But I learned English from an
American." Half true, that; Andrew did learn the American dialect of
English from one of the foremost American defectors, working in the employ
of the CRB .
"Ah." The Yankee relaxes, and so do the other men around him. "Here for
"Business too; just tidying up a few loose ends," Andrew says. "But this
parade of yours is amazing." He has not seen any of the parade itself, but
this Carnival is a very fine celebration.
"Aye, this is a time for joy," the Yankee says. He looks into nothingness
for a moment, as if he is seeing something large and ominous somewhere. To
the south, unless Andrew misses his guess. "Not everything in life is as
perfect as we wish it to be. But we are here, and we are happy."
"I'll drink to that!" Andrew says, and there is a chorus of agreement from
the New Englanders around him, as they do, and keep drinking long into
* * *
19 July 1950
Longwood, South Bronx
New York City, Long Island
Republic of New England
A non-descript house in a non-descript neighbourhood in the Bronx; the
perfect place for anonymity. So far, that has worked for Deputy Director
Richard Burton's quarry. Longwood is a neighbourhood of transient settlers.
Transients come here to live in the cheap housing near to the shipyards and
rail terminal, and often to find work in the same places. Burton has seen
signs in two dozen languages while he was walking here. Almost anyone can
walk in Longwood and not draw notice, except someone who looks rich. Thus
his target could conceal himself for so long... and now that the hunters
draw near, they can use that same anonymity to conceal themselves while they
And the beauty of it is, Burton need only wait. Others are doing the
necessary deed, those beyond the reach of New England law. While Burton
knows that his director at the DFS  would approve of what he has done,
the fewer who officially know that transpires today, the better it will be
for all concerned.
There is one other man in the room with Burton: Andrew Kelvin, an
aristocratic Australian who is ostensibly present in New England on a
commercial visit. Well, this is business too. Kelvin has introduced
himself as a liaison officer, albeit an unofficial one. They can hardly
meet in Burton's office, after all.
A knock sounds, and Kelvin excuses himself while he goes to meet with his
fellow Australians who have conducted the operation. It would hardly do for
Kelvin to be seen doing such work himself; he is a person of stature back in
his home country. And a lucky country it is too, luckier than many
Australians themselves realise, Burton suspects. Australia has wide oceans
and thousands of miles to separate itself from its rivals' heartlands. New
England lacks that luxury.
"It's done," Kelvin says when he returns, extending a gloved hand holding a
"Thank you," Burton says, as he takes the case. He can feel the weight,
jewellery as well as cash, unless he misses his guess. "There'll be no
Kelvin shrugs. "It's disguised well. On first glance, like a robbery which
went wrong, leading to an unfortunate death. If your police dig a bit, they
won't find much. If they dig very well, they'll find the name of a couple
of Russians who've unfortunately left New England... in about twenty minutes
"Excellent," Burton says, and smiles.
"Waste of time, I think," Kelvin replies. "The US has plenty of other eyes
in your country. What will losing this one cost them?"
"The United States has plenty of legals here," Burton answers. "But we know
where they are, mostly, and can do a lot to keep them from finding out
anything useful. Illegals like these are best... kept quiet, one way or the
other." He hates having to use extra-legal means to do so, but some things
"I suppose," Kelvin said. Clearly, he disagrees, but is uninterested in
pursing the argument. "Have a good evening." The Australian slips out into
"It's a better one now," Burton says, and waits a few minutes for the
Australian and his confederates to leave the area before he departs himself.
* * *
19 July 1950
My dear Michelle,
So, here I stand, in New York, New York. You were quite right; this is a
marvel of a city. Full of people and laughter and life. Carnival was
amazing, and while I've been busy working here and there to take much notice
of the rest of the city, what I've seen, I like. I think you should visit
here sometime, and I'd certainly like to see it again with you. Perhaps
when university finishes at the end of the year?
Work has been... well, what I can say about work ? I've tidied up a few
business matters which were threatening to run loose. My boss won't have
any reason to complain. There's still one or two small communication issues
I need to fix, but they won't be too bad.
Anyway, this is just a quick note written now I have a moment to myself.
Work has been keeping me much too busy to write until now. I promise to
write a longer letter when I finish here, or when I get back to Dublin.
Give my regards to your parents and brother, and I hope to see you again
* * *
 Rufus King was a leading New York Federalist shot in rather suspicious
circumstances during the War of 1811. See post #9.
 Communications Review Board, the euphemistic name for one of Australia's
leading intelligence agencies.
 Department of Foreign Security, one of the two chief New England
intelligence agencies. (The other being the Technical Classification
 In other words, what can Andrew say when others might read his letter
before it arrives at its destination.
* * *
Kaiser Wilhelm III