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Authors: Glen Tate

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BOOK: 299 Days IX: The Restoration
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Grant carefully opened Lisa’s letter. It was written in her familiar handwriting, her crappy chicken scratch doctor handwriting that no one but Grant, and a handful of pharmacists, could read.

This was the divorce letter, Grant kept thinking. He didn’t want to read it, but he also could barely wait to learn what it contained. He had to know where he stood. He had been getting hit on by many attractive women—there were an abundance of widows and broken marriages from the war—and wondered if it was time to start saying yes to inquiries.

“I don’t hate you anymore,” Lisa wrote. “I’m still pissed. But I don’t hate you.” Grant felt his heart warm up. He felt a surge of joy and relief. He felt a comfort, like things were going to be okay.

The letter went on to describe the hug that he never gave her when he left Olympia. The hug that, if he would have given her, would have gotten her to come out with him instead of having the Team bring her out. “I need you back. As pissed as I am at you.” She drew a frowny face, which made Grant laugh. Grant had always said how much he hated smiley faces and frowny faces in emails. Lisa would draw them on little notes to him just to watch him freak out. It was all in good fun. Seeing that frowny face on the letter was hysterical. It meant they were back to normal, or at least, headed in that direction. Then her letter said, “This letter is my hug” and she drew a smiley face. That smiley face was the most important thing Grant had ever seen. A tear rolled down his check.

Lisa gave Grant an update on the kids. Manda and Jordan were engaged to be married in a year. She wondered if Grant would be back by then for the wedding. She said Manda was having fewer nightmares after shooting Greene, but she still had difficulties. Their bubbly red headed teenage daughter wasn’t as bubbly any more. She worked hard feeding people and taking care of kids for the community. Her carefree teen years had been taken from her. “She still wants a real prom,” Lisa wrote. “Can you pull some strings?” she asked.

Grant had an idea about that. It would blow Manda’s mind. Grant would talk to Ben about that.

“You better be nice to me the rest of our lives,” Lisa wrote. With another one of those damned smiley faces. Grant laughed and laughed and laughed. Pow, Scotty, and Bobby looked at him like he was on drugs or had finally gone insane. Grant laughed until his sides hurt. It was a huge release. He had bottled all his emotions for months. Grant knew what to do.

“Hey, Scotty,” he said, “can you get on the radio and have some EPU agents go to Pierce Point and pick up my wife and kids and bring them to my quarters in Olympia?”

Scotty just smiled. He knew that this must mean Grant’s family was back together. “Roger that, Commissioner,” he said with great relief and joy.

Grant could hardly concentrate on the work he had to do in Yakima. He gave some speeches about reconciliation, met with the regional ReconComm staff, and talked to local troops and dignitaries. He loved doing this, especially talking to the troops, but his mind was focused on the reunion with his family. Finally. The reunion.

They spent two days in Yakima, two really long days. As they left, Scotty told Grant that his family would be at the Olympia guesthouse where Grant was staying. Grant was silent for the entire ride back to Olympia, which took a full day. He was just thinking about his family. All they’d done. All they’d gone through. All the emotions about being reunited at Pierce Point right after the Collapse, and then all the emotions about having to leave to go to war. All the worrying Grant had done during the war.

Scotty gave him an update, saying that Grant’s family had arrived in Olympia at Grant’s guesthouse. Grant could hardly wait. He just about drew his pistol on a checkpoint guard on I-5 at the southern entrance to Olympia. He wanted to be home so badly.

Bobby didn’t even have to ask Grant if they would go directly to Grant’s guesthouse. He just drove there. As they pulled up to the guesthouse, there was a military Humvee and three pick-ups of contractor-looking guys. Security for the family of the chair of the ReconComm was a high priority. In fact, a few days after the fall of Olympia, Ben sent a small detachment of State Guard to Pierce Point to guard Grant’s family. That was one of the things that led Lisa to write her letter. If Grant didn’t care about them and was only thinking about himself, she thought, he wouldn’t have sent a military unit to guard them.

When Mark’s truck pulled into the driveway of the guesthouse, Grant had his door open before they came to a complete stop. He jumped out and ran into the house. If this was a Lima ambush, he had just fallen for it, he thought.

Luckily, the guard at the front door knew from Scotty’s radio dispatch a few minutes earlier that Grant would be coming soon. The guard stepped aside, saluted and said, “Welcome home, sir.”

That sounded so sweet to Grant. “Welcome home.”

Home.

Lisa and the kids were there in the entryway jumping up and down. The kids seemed so old now. Not that they had aged in the past five weeks since Grant saw them last, just that in his mind they were still little kids. Over the past five weeks, he had seen them in his mind as the little kids he had remembered. Now, in the entryway of the guesthouse, he was seeing them as the teenagers they really were.

And Lisa. She looked beautiful. Magnificent, in fact. Smiling. That big “not that I’m wrong, but glad to see you” smile. And sexy. Grant had gone quite a while without any. It was hard to think about that when you’re fighting a war and you’re trying to prevent the state from sliding into decades of revenge killings and misery. It took something huge like that to crowd out Grant’s usual thoughts about his gorgeous wife.

Grant hugged Lisa and the kids so hard they thought he would squish them. Joyous wasn’t a strong enough word to describe how Grant and the kids felt, yet Lisa was a little bit distant. She was happy and smiling and hugged Grant, but he could tell that things were not like they had been before the war. She was holding back her full joy at seeing him and being reunited.

Lisa’s faith in Grant had been broken. He had left her. Twice. She was proud of him and knew with her head why he had done it. But in her heart, she felt like he had left her. Twice. She couldn’t help thinking that Grant was okay with the prospect of never fully reconciling with her, that he was happy to go off and fight a war and meet some other woman if Lisa hadn’t let him come back. She wondered if he had been faithful while he was in Olympia and all those crowds told him how great he was.

Grant, too, was a little distant with Lisa. She had put him through such unnecessary misery. Twice.

What the hell was wrong with her? Why couldn’t she let Grant go off and do the things he needed to do—even Lisa had to admit that they were important—without telling him their marriage was over? She was so lucky, Grant thought, that he hadn’t taken up some of those offers from women who wanted to meet a war hero … or get a pardon for someone.

So this would be it, Grant thought. He and Lisa would be together again, but a little distant. Overall, things turned out spectacularly well. But still.

“Lives, fortunes, and sacred honor,” Grant thought. This was his sacrifice.

 

Chapter 331

A Weird Truce

(February 28)

 

 

Things didn’t turn out in Seattle like Ed Oleo, or anyone else, thought they would. Ed was glad he never killed those people. He had been ready to use his hidden shotgun on the Lima ringleaders in his neighborhood, but they just took off one day, a few days before the big battles in Seattle in February. It wasn’t a Patriot invasion like everyone thought it would be. Some of the Lima soldiers, or cops, or whatever, started to fight with other ones. It was like there was a civil war in Seattle, at least among the government. The civilians just sat it out—they didn’t have any guns anyway. In the end, military, police, FCorps, and various gangs went street-to-street killing each other. They were largely leaving civilians alone; this was a fight among government people and their associated gangs. None of the civilians, like Ed, even knew who was on whose side, or even cared. It was over pretty soon. Ed didn’t notice a difference in anything. Food was still scarce.

But then, in the spring, things started to get better. The government—Ed lost track of which side won the battles—was still basically in control, but people were starting to do business again. Not just the hand-to-mouth bartering like the little home repairs Ed was doing, but real business. The reason was the New Dollar.

It was technically a crime in Seattle and the rest of the FUSA to use New Dollars, but everyone did anyway. It was technically a crime in Seattle to do a bunch of things that people now were openly doing. It was weird: the military, police, FCorps, and gangs still ran things; it was just that a free or semi-free market was tolerated. The government and gangs still took a cut, but a cut of a much bigger pie. The Limas weren’t stupid. They knew that their thefts were destroying the goose that was laying the golden eggs. They knew that they couldn’t get through another few months without a real economy providing things like food. All the corporate farms in eastern Washington that had been providing food to Seattle were now in Patriot hands, so the people running Seattle needed a new plan. They did what many collapsing socialist economies had always done: allowed a little capitalism.

Ed realized something weird, and good, was happening when he got his first inquiry about buying a house. What? Someone wanted to buy a house? That hadn’t happened for over a year, but it made sense that there would be demand. People were relocating. There wouldn’t be any new home construction for probably two decades. All that abandoned existing housing coupled with all those people who needed a home in the new place they had settled in meant people would start buying and selling real estate again.

But buy and sell with what? Ed wondered. FCards? Nope. New Dollars were the answer. Ed looked into it and found that the escrow company would do transactions in New Dollars. Ed did the sale, got a commission in New Dollars, and went out and bought some fresh vegetables with them. He couldn’t believe it, though it did make sense when he thought about it. It took a long time for the Collapse to build and it would take a long time for it to unwind, at least in Seattle where the government and gangs still tried to control things to the greatest extent they could. Ed noticed more and more economic activity and all of it being done in New Dollars. The military and police were letting all of this happen. They were even cracking down on the gangs. Some of the gangs must have been becoming liabilities or, maybe, the military and police were actually listening to people. Ed couldn’t really believe it, but the evidence pointed in that direction. Most of the really bad people in the government and gangs had been killed. That intra-government civil war and the resulting assassinations and gang wars had thinned out the hard core Limas pretty well.

At first, most people in Seattle had been silently hoping the Patriots would come in and take over. But now that sentiment was waning. Sure, people wanted things back to normal and no one would deny that the economy and freedom were booming in New Washington. But, with the healthy New Dollar economy in Seattle, things weren’t so bad that it was worth fighting another war over. Besides, just about everyone in Seattle had collaborated with the former legitimate authorities so the Patriots coming in would mean lots and lots of hangings and jailing.

A weird truce developed. Seattle was still technically in the FUSA and a kinder, gentler group of Limas was running it. But Seattle had essentially integrated into the New Washington economy and, by extension, the southern and western states’ economies because New Washington was part of that economic bloc. All while everything like New Dollars were theoretically illegal.

New Washington, too, didn’t want to fight a war with Seattle. There was no reason to. Seattle wasn’t trying to invade New Washington and the Lima terrorist attacks had gone down to almost none. New Washington was actually trading with Seattle. In fact, New Washington agriculture was feeding Seattle, and New Washington manufacturing was rebuilding Seattle. In turn, Seattle had lots of smart business people and even squirreled-away money to invest in New Washington.

In the end, New Washington and Seattle developed a relationship like the one between the Revolutionary War colonies and Canada. Many Loyalists during the First Revolutionary War fled to Canada, just like many Loyalists fled New Washington into Seattle. But the two countries—technically different countries with different currencies, but speaking the same language and economically intertwined—were at peace with each other. After a few years, it was as absurd for New Washington to invade Seattle as it would have been for the old America to invade Canada.

Which was why Ed was so glad he didn’t have to kill anyone back when the Patriots took Olympia. He didn’t want blood on his hands. He just wanted all the bad things to stop. And they slowly did.

 

Chapter 332

Fixing New Washington I

(February – December)

 

 

In the year after taking Olympia, the New Washington government did several things. The very first thing they did was establish a structure for doing everything that needed to be done. This had been developed in exile at the Think Farm.

The basic structure, which wasn’t fancy and was made up as they went along, was that there would be an Interim Governor for a year, along with an Interim House of Representatives and Interim Senate. They also had interim judges.

BOOK: 299 Days IX: The Restoration
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