Sunday, January 20, 2008

Part 29: 1937

I had stayed in my bedroom at Pemiscot Hall for three days. Two of them I slept with only the occasional interruption of Festus checking in on me. The third day I spent with Frank. After a delicious breakfast courtesy of Festus, Frank returned to work. He was going to research Archon Bishop, the name on the partial note we’d found in the office where we were ambushed. Feeling rested I felt a need to read something my Nonna had shown me as a child. I didn’t know if it meant anything but the questions came up and I felt a need to reach into my family’s past.

“Festus,the family collection wasn’t packed up and put into storage was it?”

“Why no Ms. Cambridge, specific orders in your grandmother’s will.”

“Good I think I’m going to make some coffee and go read for a while.” I said with a slight smile.

“I’ll make the coffee……”

“But Festus, you’ve done enough, really. I’m perfectly capable of…….”

“Of making a terrible cup of coffee. I’ve had yours before ma’am. Let me, I insist.” He interrupted laughing.

“Fair enough.” I said and went to the third floor where the family’s collection sat amongst the many books and volumes owned by the family over the years.

The smell so familiar jogged memories of my childhood running around the many stacks as my father and mother read together. There was an ancient mustiness, not unpleasant mind you, that just reminded me of my parents warmest moments together. They would sit quietly next to each other, her reading classic works or literature and him studying some scientific text or journal. I would play or read a children’s book or sometimes just watch the two peacefully enjoy each other.

I went to the glass shelf that housed all of the diaries of the Cambridge women since Genevieve Pemiscot Cambridge. My hand brushed over the spines of the many volumes. All of different sizes and materials each reflecting the taste and style of the women who wrote in them. Some were several volumes containing the minute details of the family life. Some were short either due to a brevity of writing style or a life stopped too short, as Hank Steels first love, Anna. The volume I wanted belonged to his second wife, Amanda, my namesake. She wrote delightful almost poetic pieces on their time together and kept all public records and press clippings about the family and bound them in between passages. This was the largest collection each embossed with the dates they contained. Some contained two or three years, most about 18 months. The volume I grabbed was simply titled 1937. Festus brought me my coffee (it was much better than mine I must confess) and I sat in the leather sofa my parents lounged in so many years ago. I superficially glanced at some of the passages: some detailing social events and those that attended, others on family gatherings and even a report card from Branson Military Academy for my grandfather. Straight A’s in all things academic and a C in conduct and discipline. I laughed and sipped the bitter but lovely liquid in my mug as I came across the transcript I sought.

The following is a transcript taken from the February 1937 town hall meeting discussing the proposal of the Citizens Crime Fighting Act of 1937 and the testimony of local business magnate Henry Stanton Oakes Cambridge.

H.S.O. Cambridge: I’d like to thank the council for letting me come and speak with you my concerns for this proposal and for the presence of these “super powered” vigilantes that have made enforcement of the law their self appointed duty.

As many of you know my family has been a part of this community since its founding. While some of us, myself included, spent time away we have always called Paragon City our home. I myself love this city very deeply. Yet I am concerned about what it is you are proposing. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what it is these strange and unusual people are trying to do. I do indeed. It’s not that I don’t see the kindness and selflessness in their actions. I see that as well. No, my concerns are the unanswered questions and concerns for the unknown that lie ahead and the implications of a city government’s acceptance of these people.

Let me first lay out my questions. First how many are there and how many will there be in the future? It started with this States Man (Statesman) now we hear of names like the Dark Watcher, Maiden Justice and even the Dream Doctor. Every day articles mention how someone unknown thwarted a bank heist or saved someone from a burglar. It seems their numbers are growing and how are we going to curtail it if the numbers get out of control? These people ask for no money. They do it out of a need for justice, well we have a police force of hard working men with families. How long before they are put out of work? These men in blue are trained and give their time and lives and we give them a salary in exchange. Are they soon to be extinct? Will these self titled heroes later ask for compensation? Will they hold our peace and justice for ransom? At what point will we decide, ‘Ok, we have enough heroes you don’t need to help us.’ And how long will it take for one of them to take exception to the fact they are being pushed away? These people have powers that astound and personally frighten. I hear rumor that this States Man claims to have powers of ancient gods of mythology. Does that only frighten me? Gentlemen, I have seen war and watched men die. I have seen famine in the darkest corners of the world. I’ve seen the death of my first wife and an unborn child. I have seen enough to make one quite callus and this….this scares me. What you are proposing is having some kind of city of heroes running around unregulated numbers only determined by the whims of someone seeking justice on their own terms. While on paper that can make you feel safe and protected lets look at the other side.

I am but a man of industry. I have grown up with privilege that is true but my core manner of thinking has always been that of the working man. This privilege has though allowed me to see and learn things that many without such blessings of upbringing can know. I’ve read philosophy but my mind becomes twisted by the many schools of thought. I’m sure someone much wiser and smarter in the ways of philosophy could debate me until I surrendered on this topic. I like to think of myself as more a student of the physical sciences. While I didn’t study them much in my days at Brown I have been known in my later years to read the workings of physicists and chemists and find there is a beautiful world of thought in science. Concrete thinking. Real. Finite. Newton said, ‘All forces occur in pairs and these two forces are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.’ Now one would argue that he was talking about the physical world and not something as complex as the human condition but I find that this statement to be universally true in most things in life. Balance of all things. My travels to the orient introduced me to the concept of yin and yang. Similar in principal are the writings of a young thinker Carl Jung.

What I’m saying is if we foresee a city of heroes running in our city one must also buckle to the thought we could likewise have a city of villains as well. We are seeing men and women gaining powers of myth and legend in our time and I think it na├»ve and foolish to think they will all have our best interests at heart. For although they are enhanced with powers only talked about in tales of myth they are at their essence human beings and the human heart while capable of great things is at times weak and selfish. What is next, street hoodlums on every corner terrorizing our citizens? Magical beings conducting pagan rituals in our parks? Beasts of fantasy wreaking havoc? The very forces of nature turning on mankind? Or even more folly: invasion from space aliens?


I know, I know it all sounds fanciful, but if 7 years ago I would have told you that a man with the power of Zeus would save the city from organized crime you would have laughed even harder. Am I correct? I have a beautiful and brilliant 16 year old son at home. I want nothing more for him than a safe and happy life. Things in Europe are becoming more unstable by the day and I’m sure he’ll be over there fighting as I did in Cuba. This does not concern me near as much as the thoughts of allowing this Act to pass giving a general-government sponsored approval of the freakish, fanciful and extra-human powered. We don’t know what is happening but allowing it to go unfettered may dawn a time of chaos that we cannot imagine. I for one don’t think we are ready. What if by allowing this we serve as the harbingers of these frightening examples? What if by saying no now we halt or at least retard this seeming evolution of our world? What if groups like organized crime or entities like the Left Handers get a hold of super powered beings……. [interruption]

Councilman O’ Brian: Mr. Cambridge I have sat by and allowed you to talk of gods and magical beings, even space alien invasions because I see the direction of your argument. But lets not get into paranoid ramblings about non existent entities like the Left Handers. This very council have made several probes into such entities and find them to be the figment of paranoid imaginations convinced there are secret societies running the world. I think you do yourself a disservice for your reputation and your argument by such ramblings.

Councilman Peters: Now, hear hear, Mr. O’ Brian I will not stand by as you smear the name of this man and his reputation. Mr. Cambridge is a war hero and very generous member of our highest society. And I don’t even think I have to mention his contributions to the war efforts during the Great War to his country and its soldiers. Why most of the steel used in that war was from the Cambridge family and practically donated I might add. His family has been an unparalleled part of this city since its inception. Any attempt of you to brand him as paranoid are insulting and unnecessary.

H.S.O. Cambridge: Thank you Councilman for coming to my defense. It is appreciated but also unnecessary. I will let my name and my families speak for itself and will ask that my thoughts on the Left Handers be disregarded when deliberating on my testimony. It was merely an example and while I think there is some merit……

Councilman O’ Brian: There is no merit! I will not allow this meeting to be the breeding ground for this. The case of the existence of the Left Handers or any secret group of puppeteers pulling our strings is ridiculous.

H.S.O Cambridge: Fair enough, you are correct it has been disproved and was only used as an example in my statement. This isn’t about that anyway, this is about the nature of man and the corruption that great power has over them. If someone gets these kind of powers but doesn’t have the selfless heart of someone like this States Man what will it bring to our great city. What do these changes occurring mean to our world and what can we do to stop a disaster from happening. I say we don’t sit by and just welcome it into our streets. I say we study and learn first then make a more educated decision.

I won’t take up anymore of your valuable time but leave you with this question. Who is this States Man [Statesman]? Can he be trusted? And what is next? Thank you for your time and attention. I hope you give my words some weight and thought. If the city decides to allow this Act to be passed I promise my energy and resources will be put to use to answer those questions even if the city chooses not to.

With that statement and with the passing of the Citizens Crime Fighting Act, Hero Watch was born.


Soja said...

Will you finish the story? I'm wondering what happened to my fictional namesake.

Mental Maden said...

Yes and I hope to getting back to it real soon. Real life kicked in pretty hard this year and has distracted me from writing my blogs, which I miss dearly. But yes I need to get back to work on them as Mental's story still has quite a bit to be told.

Quick question, just curious. How did you find out about the blog? Always curious how some people find it. And thanks for reading! And I love getting comments and quesitons so feel free!

[And if you didn't know, Codename-Pox's story is told as well at . The first four entries are of course the four from here where she started telling her story. It has been fun as well.]

Mental Maden