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1979 Crown Publishers Alongside Night Cover


Alongside Night
A Novel by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 24


The revolution came the same day.

At a little past noon, they were awakened by persistent knocking at their apartment door. After a few series of knocks, a sleep-deprived Elliot unwrapped himself from Lorimer, pulled on undershorts, and managed to pad into the living room. He opened the door a crack. It was Mr. Ferrer with a sealed envelope for him. Elliot took the envelope and thanked him.

Elliot broke the seal. Inside was a note reading:

Merce Rampart wishes to meet both of you today.
Please be at my Ansonia office at 2 P.M. Important.
Benjamin Harper

Elliot read the note twice, then returned to his bedroom and handed it to Lorimer.

An hour later, showered and dressed, Elliot and Lorimer ate a quick brunch while, on television, a pair of network anchors brought them up to date. The EUCOMTO rejection of the New Dollar — fueled by news of the Utopia prison atrocity — had brought about the feared chaos.

The Federal Reserve Board had ordered all affiliated banks closed “for duration of the emergency.” The Securities and Exchange Commission had suspended all trading — also “for the duration. ” The FBI had been disbanded, and the President had ordered the arrest of Lawrence Powers. The President, backed up by Congress, had declared martial law.

It mattered little. Lawrence Powers had gone into hiding. Three quarters of enlisted military personnel from all services had begun wildcat strikes, two thirds of the strikers deserting bases and heading home. The Revolutionary Agorist Cadre had surfaced, with no effective opposition. The objective conditions for a revolution having arisen, the revolution was in progress.

For some, business went on as usual. A filmed commercial came up on the television. The same TV-series actor and actress whom Elliot had seen in a public-service announcement were now dressed in conservative attire walking staidly through a bank, camera dollying backward before them. Elgar’s fourth “Pomp and Circumstance” march began rising slowly in the background.

The actor began sincerely, “Fellow Americans. We at AnarchoBank are doing everything we can to end this emergency. Most of you right now are without any money; no money means no trade, no business.”

“Our immediate aim,” said the actress, “is to get a new money into your hands. Within forty-eight hours, we will have fully operational offices serving major financial and employment centers to begin exchanging AnarchoBank gold coins and gold certificates for a number of readily available commodities, and making short-term loans to those who cannot — ”

“We’d better leave the dishes till we get back,” Lorimer said to Elliot.

“The First Anarchist Bank and Trust Company,” concluded the actor. “A New Dawn in Banking.”

Yellow cabs were back on the street, though not from any fleet Elliot recognized. He flagged down a Checker with a black flag painted on the door, displaying in white letters the logo for “BLACK BANNER TAXI.” On the door, under the logo, was a rate chart:

AU 2 cents 1ST 1/3 MILE
AU 1 cent EACH 1/3 mile thereafter
AU 1 cent = EUR .10, 1 US SILVER DIME, 1 QUARTER VENDY

After Lorimer had climbed in, Elliot followed, telling the driver to take them to Ansonia’s address. The driver flipped on his meter, then picked up the microphone. “This is Black Banner Twenty-Eight. Copy me, Egotripper?”

“Dispatch to Twenty-Eight. Proceed.”

“In transit to Park West and Seventieth.”

“Affirmative, two-eight. Pick up at that location available.”

“I’ll take it, Egotripper. Bee-Bee Twenty-Eight, off.”

“Sounds like a good day,” Lorimer commented to the driver.

“Nonstop,” he replied. “I’ve been up to Park West and Seventieth half a dozen times already today, Well, might as well enjoy it while it lasts.”

“Why shouldn’t it last?”

“Are you kiddin’? Within a week every fleet in this city’ll be back on the street. Price wars you wouldn’t believe. Then when the subways and busses are movin’ again — ”

“Who’ll run them?” Elliot asked. “The city’s bankrupt. There’s no official money. Who’ll pay the transit workers?”

“Don’t ask me,” the cabbie said. “All I know is there’s a fortune in equipment just layin’ around, and someone’s damn well gonna make some money with it.”

Between Sixty-ninth and Seventieth streets — the block containing Ansonia Preparatory School — a contingent of New York City Police, still in blue uniforms but now with red Cadre “SECURITY” brassards on their arms, had barricaded off traffic to that part of Central Park West.

It was not a homesteading action, but merely a temporary expedient. Along the street, in line waiting to get underground and out of the cold, were about two thousand persons late of the United States military. Most were — as full-page newspaper advertisements had specified — in uniforms with insignia removed, personal weapons slung over their shoulders, duffel bags at their feet. They had been promised a union-approved contract, billet and food provided, with weekly payment in gold at rates — depending on position — between four grams a week for infantry and fifteen grams for an engineer.

There were no taxes or other deductions.

On a flagpole extending over the street from number ninety was hanging a black flag. It was raised to half-staff.

Elliot and Lorimer passed by a now-unbricked entrance to the perpetually unfinished Central Park Shuttle, bypassing the long military lineup going downstairs past a new sign.

AURORA COMMAND
REVOLUTIONARY AGORIST CADRE

The two were challenged at the school entrance by armed Cadre guards. Elliot told them who they were and that they were expected. One guard checked an appointment clipboard and nodded. They were fifteen minutes early.

The couple was unceremoniously escorted into the assistant headmaster’s office on the first floor, but the assistant headmaster was not occupying it. They took seats, Elliot rising a few minutes later when Mr. Harper entered. “Elliot . . . Ms. Powers,” he said, shaking hands with each of them. “We have a few minutes to chat before our meeting is scheduled to begin.”

Elliot and Harper sat down. Elliot nodded slowly and said, “So Ansonia was a Cadre front all along.”

Harper allowed himself a half-smile. “Well, a front in the sense that it concealed Cadre lodgings above the school with Aurora built into the subway tunnel below, but Ansonia itself never propagandized agorist ideas. That would have been the last thing we wanted. Any front — to be effective — must misdirect attention away from its actual purpose. So we maintained a policy of ideological neutrality. At most we refrained from the standard ‘civic’ indoctrinations. And, perhaps, we placed a little more emphasis than is usual on logic and clear definition — always dangerous heresies, wouldn’t you agree?”

Elliot nodded.

“As a policy, also, Dr. Fischer and I did not hire any Cadre allies as teachers. Even without a party line, there is always too much danger of the kind of intellectual inbreeding fatal to academic inquiry. So, at most we tried to weed out those professing a clearly statist philosophy. We were not always successful.”

“Mrs. Tobias,” said Elliot.

Harper nodded. “Not that she gave us any clues at first. I doubt that when the FBI assigned her here that they even suspected our Cadre affiliation.”

“Then why –?”

“It was you she was to watch.”

Elliot stared at Harper intensely.

“She was assigned to get information about your family that the Administration could use against your father.”

“The microfilm?” Lorimer asked.

Harper nodded. “In the course of her work here,” he continued, “with little bits of information put together from her reports, the FBI slowly stumbled across the conclusion that Ansonia was a Cadre front.”

“But if they knew about Ansonia, why didn’t they raid it?”

“You forget, you yourself were evacuated from Aurora during the course of that raid — this past Saturday at 6:30 P.M., exactly as planned in the microfile Ms. Powers gave us on Friday. Mrs. Tobias’s resignation last Wednesday morning — using as an excuse a difference over policy — was the FBI withdrawing its operative preparatory to the raid.”

“Why did they wait until the weekend?”

“For the simple reason that Aurora did not operate during the week. There would have been no traders to arrest.”

Harper turned to Lorimer. “Ansonia will be resuming classes next Monday,” he told her. “We can have your records transferred here if you’d like to graduate with us.”

Lorimer looked startled. “Why, I’d love to.”

“Good,” said Harper. “I’ll expect both of you Monday, 9 A.M., sharp.”

He looked at his watch and stood up. “Shall we proceed?”

#

Next in Alongside Night is Chapter XXV.

Alongside Night is
Copyright © 1979 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust.
All rights reserved.




Now in production: Alongside Night. Look for it in 2013!

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