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Number 1,067, April 19, 2020

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Leaving Savannah
by Jim Davidson

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Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

[Continued from Part One,   Part Two,   Part Three,   Part Four,   Part Five,   Part Six,   Part Seven,   Part Eight,   Parts Nine, Ten, & Eleven,   part Twelve,   part Thirteen,   part Fourteen,   part Fifteen,   part Sixteen &Seventeen,   Title and Art Contest,   part Eighteen,   part Nineteen,   part Twenty,   part Twenty-one,   part Twenty-two,   part Twenty-three,   part Twenty-four,   part Twenty-five,   part Twenty-six,   part Twenty-seven]

"If you go to Atlanta, the first question people ask you is, 'What's your business?' In Macon they ask, 'Where do you go to church?' In Augusta they ask your grandmother's maiden name. But in Savannah the first question people ask you is 'What would you like to drink?'"
― John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

The Barnegat Light

John Kell was very excited about boarding the Hydro Lance.

"See back there, those are the most advanced engines for this type," he said to Sal Mayweather. "When McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing they renamed this planes in this series the Boeing 717. Same high tail, same rear fuselage mounted engine pylons."

Lisa Angeleno cleared her throat. She and Mary Morris were at the base of the gang plank that was used for loading from the pier. Sal nudged John, who looked back, saw Lisa's expression, and ducked through the passenger door.

He and Sal grabbed the two front seats on the starboard side of the vessel, and John's excited explanations continued while Lisa helped Mary aboard.

John said, "See, they took the wings off, put an auxiliary power unit and huge fuel tanks in the cargo bay, but otherwise it's the fuselage of a 717. Heavy pylons extend from the landing gear bays to those super long water foils. It's basically a water skier, except with several-hundred-foot long skis. This type airframe comes from the family of aircraft as the old DC9. So the engines were mounted to the fuselage, not the wings."

Lisa finished checking the straps on Mary's seat. Mary had fallen asleep shortly after sitting down. She had barely heard John's description. She nodded off after hearing the words "water skier. "

She was on the portside aisle at the front of the vehicle. Lisa had the aisle seat so she could get anything she might need from her patient from the overhead bin, or from the passenger service station. The front eight seats were wider and had better foot rests than those further back in the cabin. Lisa took a moment to get John's injured foot elevated on the built-in foot rest, which she made sure was at its highest position. John was also on the aisle, so Lisa was able to help either of her two patients. Sal had no complaints in the window seat.

A parade of refugees from the Gaunt's Brook slave camp filed into the back of the vehicle. There was a single aisle all the way back. Passenger restrooms were at the far end, and there was another up front behind the cockpit. Just like with all air frames of its type, the "coach fare" part of the fuselage was laid out with three seats on the right and two on the left. After all the seats were full, a total of 110 people were aboard, plus a steward at the far end of the vessel and the captain and first mate up front.

Outside on the pier, Captain Nathan Bedford Clarke and his first mate, Sylvester "Sly" Hicks were releasing the mooring lines. These were coiled up and hauled aboard by Sly. The captain meanwhile walked the pier checking his craft. He got to the far end where the tall tail with its high elevators and rudder could be clearly seen.

Up in the cockpit, Sly kicked the rudder pedals so the rudder shifted position to port and then to starboard. Then, again without any prompting from the captain, Sly pushed his control yoke down, then lifted it back up. The corresponding movements of the elevators were noted by the captain, who then came forward and climbed the gangway. It was mounted to the pier, so he pushed it away with his foot as he stepped aboard. Holding the frame of the door, he checked down the length of his vessel, which was now just clear of the dock.

Captain Clarke sealed the passenger door and grabbed up the microphone by the forward passenger services station. He said, " We'll be going directly. As you heard a few minutes ago, the auxiliary power unit in the belly of this beast started our port engine which provided power to start the starboard one. I gather from things I've overheard up here, some of you are familiar with the Hydro Lance system, so I'll leave the crew cabin door open. After we get past the Barnegat Light into the open ocean, I'll have time to provide some details for any who want to come forward for a brief visit."

With that he went back into the cockpit and got into the pilot seat. The pier they were docked at ran parallel to the coast. Gently adding thrust, the captain pulled away from the dock. Most of the smaller vessels in the flotilla had already gotten started, so there was a bit of navigation to which he attended with his usual aplomb. Within a few minutes the much more powerful vessel was at the front of the pack, and then, with a bit more thrust from the jet engines, quickly building a lead.

Barnegat Bay lay all around them. It was part of the inland waterway. They were cruising at thirty knots when Sly eased back the power. The engines were idling as they made their turn past the Sedge Islands and lined up on the channel out to sea. Once they were in the groove, Sly moved the thrust controls forward again, up to almost a quarter power.

That's when Captain Clarke noticed the strange appendage atop the Barnegat Light. Crouched at the very top of the lighthouse was a strange black vehicle. Staring at it for several seconds, the captain tapped Sly's shoulder and pointed.

"Nate, what is that?" asked Sly.

The captain shook his head. "I don't know. Never seen it there before. It looks like one of those big surveillance drones, but it isn't flying. Crap. They're going to get photos of the entire flotilla."

The two of them exchanged glances. Both of them were troubled. The captain reached down to shift frequencies on his radio. Then he switched to voice activation on his microphone.

The captain said, "Rescue flotilla, rescue flotilla. This is Hydro Lance Zero. All vessels, you are under close surveillance from the top of the Bernegat Light. Any marksmen among you are welcome to target that drone and put some holes in it. It has weapons pylons on either side, so make your first shots count."

Clicking his microphone switch back to manual, he nodded to Sly who pushed the throttles toward the firewall. All the passengers felt the sudden acceleration as the vessel came up to speed. Soon they would be fairly rocketing due South.

Sly said, "Radar warning. Eight hundred yards off our port bow. Looks like a periscope. Coming alongside now. Aw hell no. Torpedo in the water. Correction, two torpedoes."

Nate said, "Max power, Sly. We can outrun them. "

Sly ran the throttles all the way forward and the ship accelerated to its top speed. It was now travelling more than twice as fast as the torpedoes coming behind it. Soon, the torpedoes would run out of power while the Hydro Lance cruised away.

The captain again switched his microphone to voice activated and announced on the same channel, "Rescue flotilla resuce flottila. Hydro Lance Zero. Owner submarine South by Southwest of the Barnegat Light. They just fired torpedoes at us. We're outrunning them, but consider alternative routes. They might not be unfriendly to pleasure craft, but who knows?"

"You aren't receiving any replies," John said from the doorway into the crew compartment.

Sly glanced back briefly, and returned his attention to helm and instruments. Nate looked at John for about thirty seconds before smiling.

"You were part of that raid on the camp outside Fort Dix," the captain said, without a question in his voice.

John nodded. "That's right," he said, " John Kell, Fifteenth Tennessee Volunteers. I was injured during our deployment by parafoil."

Nate took his turn nodding. "Yes, that was a difficult drop. I knew your pilot, Jerry, from before all this madness. He was a good man."

John said, "Agreed. He was a good soul and a fine pilot. May he rest in peace."

Both Nate and Sly said, "Amen" at the same time.

For the next twenty minutes, Nate gave a quick review of the crew systems for John, and then notice Sal peering around John to get a view, so Nate very graciously gave a second overview for Sal's benefit. They spoke for a time about their backgrounds and about how the madness had begun, and had surprised them all.

"What about you, Sal?" asked Sly from the cockpit, without looking back. "What rank do you have in your local militia?"

John smiled and returned to his seat, receiving a nod from Lisa when he properly put his foot back up on its elevated foot rest. Up front, John could see that Sal was leaning insouciantly on the bulkhead next to the crew cabin door.

"Oh, that isn't for me," said Sal. "I'm not here under orders, nor am I part of any militia. That was all understood when word came back that my parachute skills and past work in the freedom movement were accepted for this project. You might say that I'm a conscientious objector to all that militarism and obedience to hierarchy that, well, has taken the world to where we are today. I'm no pacifist, and happy to defend my freedom, or the freedom of others. I'm just not an order follower, that's all."

Sly nodded and kept his focus forward. Nate turned in his seat, stood up, and put his hand out.

"Sal, I respect that very much. I'm glad you got out and very grateful you helped free those slaves," Nate said.

He and Sal shook hands. As Sal returned to his seat, he noticed that both Mary and John were sound asleep. Sal collected a smile from Lisa who then looked back to her tablet where she was monitoring her two patients.

As he sat back in his seat, and put the seat back into recliner mode, he glanced over and saw that Lisa was also playing Galaga on her tablet. She was on one of the more advanced bonus rounds. Sal smiled and closed his eyes.

Savannah Airport

"Well folks, here's as far as we go today," said Nate, wearing his captain's hat and standing next to the open passenger door.

John awoke with a start. Sal's seat was empty. Lisa was shaking Mary's shoulder, gently, to awaken her. Sitting up, John glanced back. The entire fuselage of the Hydro Lance was empty. He, Mary, and Lisa were the last remaining passengers.

Coming forward from the rear of the plane was the steward who had been providing snacks and beverages to the entire passenger cabin. He stopped just aft of the row of seats holding the three remaining passengers and said, "What would you like to drink?"

Nate burst out laughing. "That's a perfect thing to say here and now."

John, who had also read John Berendt's book smiled and nodded. Looking up at the steward he said, "Well, if you have a bottle of good champagne, I'll have a to-go cup."

The steward looked at the captain, who shrugged, then nodded. The steward went back to the far end of the plane where there was a well-appointed passenger service station. In its refrigerator there was a bottle of Krug, with a gold ribbon around the neck. The ribbon held a card with a hole punched through its top. The card simply said, "Well done!"

John was gathering his things and Lisa was helping Mary out the door onto the gangway. Looking at Nate, John said, "I thought you were going up the Savannah River."

Nate nodded. "Oh, yes, we did. That's how you get to the airport if you need aviation fuel and you aren't an aeroplane. We don't go all the way up, though, too narrow and way too many twists. Our vessel is for high speed, long distance travel. From here we head to Jamaica with a load of passengers bound for some Blue Mountain coffee and the best ganja on Earth, then Panama."

John smiled as well. "The airport is just fine. I'll rent a plane and get myself home. Thanks for the passage."

The steward cleared his throat and held out the champagne bottle. "With our compliments to your entire team. We hate slavery."

John turned and looked the steward in the eye. Then he glanced down at the bottle, read the label, and the card, and pulled his head back. His grin overwhelmed his face.

"That's a very nice vintage of a very fine champagne. Thank you!" John exclaimed. Then he held out his hand and said, "John Kell, Fifteenth Tennessee Volunteers."

The steward shifted the bottle to his left hand and stuck out his right hand to shake John's hand. "Martin Blank, New Gloucestershire Motorcycle Dragoons."

They shook hands. John accepted the champagne, then limped over to the passenger door. He looked at his boots, then looked back at Martin. "We're all very saddened by the loss of life in Gloucester."

Martin nodded, and with a somber look said, "Thank you. It was a terrible fire. Part of what drove me into the militia."

A year earlier, a military aircraft from the forces loyal to the slave owners had dropped incendiary bombs all over Gloucester, Massachusetts after a public demonstration against the city government. The demonstrators had entered their city hall, dragged the mayor and members of the city council outside, shaved their heads, applied tar and feathers, and, tying them each to a fence rail, had carried them to the city limits where they were dropped.

All of the politicians had survived. None of the homes in the city were left standing after the fire bombing.

"Thank you again," said John, as he stood at the top of the gangway. Then he walked down to join Mary and Lisa on the pier.

John said, "Well ladies, what do you think? I'm going to see about renting a plane, then head up to Newport, Tennessee. How about y'all?"

Lisa smiled. She said, "Mary here is fully recovered from her war virus. Sal and I had a long chat while you were sleeping. He's off renting a car now, should be along for me in a few minutes. Do you want a ride over to the place where they rent planes?"

John nodded. "That would be great. Saves wear and tear on my ankle. How about you Mary?"

Mary looked at John. She had felt a great deal of chemistry with this man ever since they had met. She smiled at him.

"There's nothing for me back in New Jersey right now," Mary said. "I'm going to need to connect with the rebellion somewhere, get up to speed on current events. Do you think there would be somewhere for me to stay, a bedroom for just me, where you live? "

John nodded. "Yes, my house is out back of my parents' home, and they have guest bedrooms. They'll be very glad to have you as a guest for a week or so if you wish."

At that moment, Sal drove up in a Lincoln Continental. He put it in park and opened the driver door.

"Well, it was the last rental car they had, and they wouldn't let me pay. Apparently the legend of our escapades in New Jersey has grown a great deal in the re-telling. So I've got it for two weeks, and where to next?" Sal asked.

Lisa smiled at him and blushed slightly. Mary looked at the two of them and their smiles, the way their faces lit up.

Mary said, "Well, John's a pilot and wants to fly home to Newport, Tennessee. He's going to have his parents give me a place to stay in their home, which is very kind. I'm going to need to get myself seen by some healers for all the trauma back at the camp."

Sal smiled and gestured at the bottle that John was holding in the crook of his arm. "It looks like a celebration is in order! What's with the bottle, John?"

"Oh, this," said John. "Compliments of the flight crew of the Flying Nell we came here on. They wanted to thank us for liberating Gaunt's Brook slave camp."

Sal asked, "What would you like to drink ... out of? "

John laughed. "I see you've read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. There's nothing for it, I suppose, but to drink from the bottle, if that suits everyone."

So they popped the cork and each took a healthy drink of a very excellent champagne. Then Sal loaded their gear and rifles in the trunk and took John and Mary over to the fixed base operation. Soon, he and Lisa would be headed to a luxury hotel on Hilton Head. All four were leaving Savannah.

[End part twenty-eight, continues in part twenty-nine]


Jim Davidson is an author, entrepreneur, actor, and director. He is the cfo of and the vision director of You can find him on as well as and also as planetaryjim. He appreciates any support you can provide as times are very difficult. See the Paypal link on this page. Or email your humble author to offer other choices. Visit for more information. Those seeking a multi-jurisdiction multi-hop VPN for communications privacy please visit For those seeking colloidal silver try Ask Jim about CryptoWealth.

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