A Private Conversation

Buchanan’s Tent

…..“It’s unfortunate that you got thrown around and kicked in such a tender spot Burt, but it could ultimately…. I mean I guess it will help insure things on Alchibah are set up to run in a more reasonable manner than was otherwise likely.

“That’s easy for you to say.” responded Buchanan. “I can hardly walk yet. But I see your point.”

“I’m not sure you do Burt. It’s the emotional reaction I’m talking about, and I had one too. Somehow or other I’ve gotten off on the wrong foot with a number of our fellow colonists. I need to take responsibility for that and try and make things right and I think I will. But what was going on inside your head that made you act so totally out of character? I can’t even see why would you approach Emily Parker? After all she had done nothing even remotely related to Thompson’s death. And I think the Parker‘s are the kind of people that are our natural allies.”

Pausing just a bit before answering, a hesitation that Reye missed entirely, Buchanan said. “Why Lester… I had nothing at all against the Parker girl. But it’s just as you say. I was only trying to confuse things so our split would seem plausible. I know it makes me look bad but after all the supposed split makes you look better and that had to happen if we are going to have half a chance at the colony meeting. I can take the heat for the time being but how are you going to explain your reaction to the Benjamin girl?”

“That was a mistake but I will work to make amends. I’m sure no one other than the girl herself actually heard what I said. What I must do is publicly apologize, even as I explain that I have nothing to apologize for, and was only going over to offer an expression of sympathy and make an attempt to explain to that young Amazon Jaisa (but I won‘t refer to her as an Amazon), that I felt her in no way whatsoever responsible for what happened to Thompson. And you know Burt, that was what I should have been doing. Somehow my frustrations overruled my nature. It never should have happened and all I can do now is explain it away so that it never did. It’s messy but now denunciation of your behavior will make our split seem quite reasonable. I don‘t like these Machiavellian plots. All I want is to what‘s best for the colony as a whole.”

Reye shook his head in evident sorrow, “Yes, that will work.” he continued. “And when I apologize for ‘her’ misunderstanding I think I will come off as sincere, very reasonable and open to admitting mistakes. That is even more important for a politician than for most others. If the girl says anything about what she thinks I said to her, I will just explain again how sorry I am she took it that way and say it must have been her overwrought emotional state that confused my intentions and made her hear what she thinks she did. Even so her reaction was so inappropriate and disproportionate that it demonstrates why we need some rules and order here and why we need them now. Violence, guns, knifes, force…they never solve anything.”

“Ok Les that works good for you but how can I put myself forward as the leader of an opposition party? I did what I did because it needed doing to split us apart. I sure wasn’t going to bring any votes in for a party of the middle but then I am not exactly popular with most of the people here anyway.”

“I don’t think you can lead a party Burt. As I see it now the only recourse is for you to step aside and let Jack the Blade become the front man. Animosity to him is high enough, but not nearly so high as it is to you after last night, I will look like the moderate I am in comparison. I do hate to operate in this manner but we can only tell Jack enough to keep him under control, and playing his part. I really don’t trust his nature. We will have to deal with him later but first things first. And we are after all doing this for everyone‘s benefit. They just can’t see that now.”

“Ok.” agreed Buchanan, “We deal with it that way…. Now here’s how I think it goes. At the meeting there will be only about 120 votes up for grab. We control 18 of them right now. We will have to walk the line with Jack so he doesn’t come off entirely too extreme. Jack says he stands for strong government till we have the colony up and running. If we do that right and give him the arguments some will think him a fascist but he probably still gets another 5 to 10 people to side with that approach. I see three other factions forming up.”

“One I’ll call the Anarchists they think not limited government but no government is the best and only solution. I figure 20 to 30 fit that mold. They will want to just pick up their marbles and leave at first. Some probably will. But if we offer them, say six months of trying out our system, and tell them at any time they are free to go I think we can get at least a third of them to come to us.”

“The second faction, and the one most dangerous to us, is the small government leave me alone and I leave you alone group. They will be willing to accept a limited role for government but insist on extreme restrictions on it’s power and scope. I would put their numbers at perhaps 35 right now.”

“The third faction, I’m not even sure we can call them a faction, hasn’t even given the situation enough thought to have an opinion other than hoping every thing works out. We work hard for support from that group. That type never even sees the curtain much less looks behind it.”

“Your analysis is very good Burt, but don’t even think about a curtain, you are far too cynical. I saw enough idealism perverted and the resultant hurt caused back on Earth by that type of thinking. We can, and we will do better. All you and I are trying to do is make sure a proper framework is in place for a just and equitable society. But I do want to thank you again for explaining to me that your goals were the same as mine and coming up with a plan. Judith and I were sure just days ago that there was no hope for anything but an uncaring rightwing and ultimately repressive government.”

An Hour Later

    Burt Buchanan tipped his glass to Jack the Blade, “Here’s to ‘Useful Idiots’, Lester Reye hasn’t a clue and never will. He’s so sure he is in charge and managing the political dimensions of the group and plan that he couldn’t see a Slizard if it were charging for his throat. You should have heard our conversation.”

That Afternoon

“Hi Honey. How did your talk with Burt Buchanan go?” Judith Reye said to her husband, when he returned to their tent.

“I think we understand each other, or at least I understand him, but I have nagging doubts. Burt has deluded himself into thinking I take him at face value and that’s why I‘ll play his game. Hell… I‘m not even sure now that we should have come along on the Mayflower.”

“Don’t even think that. What would have happened if we had stayed on Earth? Quotas would have kept Mike out of the best schools the ones he needed to get into and like so many others he would have had nothing to look forwards to but a lower standard of living than we had. And it wouldn’t be his fault nor ours. Oh we were doing fine enough I guess, but both my parents and yours were better off than we were. All of the social programs, the ones they fought so hard to pass and we always voted for seemed to get hijacked for someone else’s benefit.”

“Willmont was in most ways a very good place to live and after you got elected to the board it should have gotten better. When it did and you ran for state assembly I was so proud of you. Yet that seemed to be the end of it. A brick wall with no way through. We need to learn from that and make sure the same mistakes don’t happen here.”

“You’re right as always. This time, much as it disgusts me I intend to make sure that when the deals are made, and they always are, I have a say in the outcome. But even if I can‘t win the vote I am going to do whatever it takes to insure the right principals triumph.”

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Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Probably.

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Copyright (C) 2006 - 2011 by Jeff Soyer. All rights reserved.