Chapter 1: Border Skirmishes
This is Rachel Maddow with MSNBC's election night coverage. It's 4 am here on the east coast. With all the polls closed and 1% reporting, we're finally ready to call California and the election for Senator John McCain. -Rachel Maddow, MSNBC, 2 November 2008
President Mike Huckabee swore the oath of office today at 3:17 pm at GWU Hospital in Washington, D.C, where President John McCain died of complication for small cell lung cancer earlier in the day. -Brian Williams, Nightly News with Brian Williams, 7 March 2009
This is Anderson Cooper live from New Orleans. I'm standing here outside the perimeter of the Port of New Orleans. Seventeen hours ago the oil tanker Prometheus pulled into dock. Thirty minutes later she exploded, raining down burning oil on the city. Officials are speculating that this was the work of eco-terrorist and gay rights activist Josiah Abbott. In the aftermath of Katrina, New Orleans was starting to get back up on its feet. As you can see, this explosion destroyed much of that progress. Three hundred people are confirmed dead and with thousands of injured, New Orleans hospitals are over flowing. -Anderson Cooper, Anderson Cooper 360, 7 July 2009
The economy took another nose dive in the wake of the New Orleans port bombing. Gas prices topped out at $7.39/gallon and the NASDAQ dropped a hundred and thirty four points. -Rick Sanchez, CNN Newsroom, 8 July 2009
Food prices are on a meteoric rise, being tugged upward by rising gas prices and fears of food shortages. Inclement weather in the Midwest has only worsened the situation: thousands of acres of crops have been destroyed in the last week. -Ali Velshi, CNN Newsroom, 18 July 2009
Gas prices rose again today, up to $8.29/gallon, spurring on rioting in LA. President Huckabee has deputized several groups such as the Air Land Emergency Resource Team or ALERT to make up for short falls in the disaster management contingent. Several left-wing groups have whined about these religious based groups being brought in to help. The rest of us say: Thank God! -Billy O'Reilly, Fox News, 24 July 2009
Good Evening and welcome to this special edition of Countdown. Tonight there will be a Special Comment. The 28th Amendment was ratified today. The amendment states that America is and always has been a Christian nation and her laws must therefore be in harmony with God's Laws. It specifically outlaws abortion and gay marriage. America, let me just say: I am disappointed in you.
The 28th Amendment is the least American proposition which anyone--be it Republican or Democrat--has devised. And all of you out there, gobbling it up in an effort to be more patriotic. More patriotic? Only in that twisted, exclusionary sense of car magnets and 'I am better than you.' What you mean is more nationalistic. As Sydney Harris once said, "Patriotism is proud of a country's virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country's virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, "the greatest," but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is."
The Statue of Liberty, sitting at the door to America through which so many of our ancestors entered, reads:
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
It does not say: give me your pure, your righteous, your theologically correct. It does not say: give me your true, orthodox Christians. America may not be a melting pot or a salad, or whatever fancy metaphor the kids are using these days, but what it truly isn't is homogenous. It never has been. Not when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, not when the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and not even in the 1950's of lore.
America, wake up! The 28th Amendment is neither American nor Christian; it is only the foot of theocracy in the door of democracy. I believe in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I will keep fighting to reclaim my country from the hands of tyrants and petty kings and I hope that you will too. To rest of you, shame on you for forgetting freedom is just as important as security. -Keith Olbermann, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, 23 Nov 2009
It's not like he hadn't seen it coming. He'd been screaming out against it every chance he had, but in the end Huckabee had gotten his amendment. It had taken a major terrorist attack and small cell lung cancer, but he'd done it. America was again, really, for the first time, a Christian nation.
Judges were still scrambling to figure out how the twenty-eighth amendment affected American law, but twenty-three Senators and Congressmen had resigned in protest, and a handful more had fled the country. Jon had stayed. They were still on the air, albeit more censored then they'd ever been before. No blasphemy, no cursing, no stage-gay. Stephen actually suffered more under the new rules than Jon did. He didn't approve of the changes the country was undergoing and it was harder for him to broadcast his displeasure without breaking character.
It was a Thursday, two weeks after the twenty-eighth amendment had been ratified and Stephen was lying on his couch in the office while Jon paced.
"I can't do the show anymore," Stephen said, not looking at Jon.
If it had been any other year Jon would have been outraged, but today all he had was resignation, "Leaving before you're served?" he asked. What was left of Congress was going after Hollywood and its affiliates on charges of corrupting America.
"Leaving before I can't say anything at all. Either that, or before I break one of the new blasphemy laws and end up stoned," Stephen replied, not moving from his position on the couch. "This will be my last show. You should come with me."
Jon stopped, "If we leave, who will stay and fight?" He couldn't keep the defeated look off his face.
"Jon," Stephen said softly, after swinging himself up to sit on the edge of the couch, "we stayed. We fought. We lost. Have you seen Anderson's reports? Half of the population of San Francisco has left the country. For the first time ever, more Americans are illegally crossing into Mexico than the other way around."
"I've been watching," Jon joined him on the couch. Coverage of the twenty-eighth amendment and the legal fallout was the only thing on the news. He'd watched Keith scream into the camera over and over again. He'd watched Anderson wander the empty streets of the Castro district, had watched Billy O'Reilly interview the radical right in its triumph. He'd seen the unaired footage too. Thing no one could air anymore. Lynchings in Iowa, a stoning in Alabama, a satellite interview with the surviving leader of the HRC in exile.
"I've seen the news, too. We need to leave. If we don't, well, my lawyer thinks if we're lucky we'll get fifteen to thirty five years in prison and not together. If they arrest you, you'll end up in Terre Haute," Stephen laid a hand on his arm. Terre Haute was where they were sending the non-Christians who were convicted under the new laws. No one was really sure of more than that, as investigative reporting was severely crippled under the Huckabee regime.
"They're only giving out a year for contempt," said Jon. Three people had already been jailed for contempt of Congress, each receiving a year for refusing to answer the committee's questions.
"We'd get the year for contempt, but that's not the only thing we're going to be charged with. We both given money to the HRC, the ACLU, to stop AIDS in Africa, my lawyer thinks we'll be charged with aiding terrorism."
Jon looked at him as if he'd grown a second head, "Fuck, no," he exploded, "I thought I'd get a year, even a year in Terre Haute, and I'd go and stand up to these bullies. Thirty-five years might as well be a life sentence."
"With the rioting in Austin and L.A. it might be more," said Stephen, "If we're leaving, we need to leave tonight."
Jon turned and stared at Stephen, "Tonight?"
"Look, I know someone at the DA's office. They are working late tonight. Tomorrow subpoenas are going out, along with detention until trial orders."
"Fuck, fuck!" Jon stood abruptly, "Anyone else, or just us?"
"Keith, Anderson, Erica, Dan, Rachel, most of CNN and MSNBC over the next week. Rachel is already in Canada and Anderson is planning on filming his border crossing like the crazy man that he is. Keith and Erica know and they're passing it on to interested parties," Stephen explained.
"I take it you have a plan."
Stephen smiled for the first time in what seemed to Jon like eternity, "I do. Your stuff is already in my car, we're leaving after filming."
"Is the staff in danger?" Jon asked, resuming his pacing. He knew they'd been having higher turn over than before, but he needed to know for sure.
"Don't worry, I didn't forget about anybody. Most of the people who needed to leave left before the amendment passed, everyone left at risk is leaving tonight," said Stephen.
"You really have been planning this for a while haven't you?"
"Ever since we put our families on a plane to London with John Oliver. You had to know that if it kept getting worse, we'd have to leave too," Stephen stood and stepped into Jon's path.
"Why bother with one last show? If you want to get over the border tonight, we can't tell people we're going," Jon complained.
"I know," said Stephen, "It gives us seventy two hours in which no one is expecting to see us on television. No one will really think we're missing."
"If this is going to be our last show, we should make it spectacular," said Jon, trying not to let his sarcasm show to much and instead work up some enthusiasm.
"Does that mean you'll come with me?" Stephen asked.
"Well, then, I agree."
"And that's our show!" Jon yelled to the audience and then stood and took a bow with Stephen. They'd bumped their guests and Stephen had been Jon's, and Jon's Stephen. Maybe he was being clingy, but Jon wasn't letting Stephen out of his sight if he could help it. Neither show had been a full house, but those who had shown up, had braved being labeled sympathizers, had been treated to one of the finest hours of comedy that Jon and Stephen had ever performed.
When they finally made it back stage after shaking hands and soaking in what might be their last audience for a long time, it was too quiet. "Is everyone already gone?" Jon asked.
"I had everyone leave as soon as they could. Sam and Jason should already be in Canada by now. They rented a van and took three of my interns with them," said Stephen as he wiped the stage make up from his face.
"My interns?" Jon asked, concerned. They'd been here earlier and he wasn't sure any of them could afford to exile themselves, even if they needed to.
"How did you plan all this with out me knowing? Why not ask me for help?"
Stephen laid a hand on Jon's shoulder, "You would have driven yourself crazy over the last two weeks. Anderson put me in touch with some people that were helping get people out who needed it. You know that's why he went to San Francisco, he's helping to smuggle people into Mexico."
"That's the last time I believe Anderson when he says he's not biased," Jon said with a smile.
"Yeah, well, he was going to have to smuggle himself out eventually and you know how he is about rescuing people," said Stephen as he changed into a battered red t-shirt.
"True, true," said Jon, "I figured he was leaving when I found out he'd sent Molly to France. Anderson wouldn't leave with out making sure his dog was safe."
Once they were both changed into street clothes, Jon grabbed his laptop bag and then they hurried to Stephen's car.
It was an all night trip to the border, even after they'd gotten out of the city. Canada and Mexico were both taking in American refugees, not just because it was the right thing to do but because America was hemorrhaging its best and brightest: scientists, professors, lawyers, doctors and entertainers.
Of course, before they could get to Canada, Jon had to spend a night in the car with Stephen and they both had to survive the experience. Stephen had thought ahead, there were snacks, drinks and even a blanket, but he was on edge and it was driving Jon crazy. "Can we switch to some music?" Jon asked. Normally, he was a fan of NPR, even what was left of NPR these days, but their reporting was making him even more paranoid than he already was. "I have the Bugle on my iPod," he offered when Stephen didn't look up from the road.
Stephen batted Jon's hand away from the radio, "I need to know if any of the border crossings get closed. Soterius Johnson is in on the whole thing and he's making sure closings get broadcast."
"Oh," said Jon, sitting back in his seat. He watched as the lights of the city faded into dark country night out his window. "I never really thought it would come to this," he said. "This is America, and for all the shots I've taken at the system, I though…" he trailed off and went back to staring out the window.
Silence hung uncomfortably over the car, neither Jon nor Stephen looking at the other. It went on long enough that Jon flinched when Stephen spoke.
"Only in my nightmares. It was comedy, it was, but if I had known what would happen, I'd never have let the man on my show," Stephen's voice was low and scratchy. "When I said I wanted to make a difference, I meant for good, not for this."
"I know," replied Jon, turning to look at Stephen, "I know. No one thought this could happen."
"Huckabee did," Stephen spit out, "He had a plan and he made it work, even if he had to destroy the America that I love. He used me to help him do it."
"I don't think he planned on McCain dying of lung cancer three months into his term. No one could've predicted that." Jon's own words reminded him of the last President and the morass he'd gotten them stuck in. It's what Condi had said about 9/11, except there had been no national security briefings about small cell lung cancer, no enemy to defeat outside the President's own body.
Stephen scowled but remained silent. Eventually, Jon put his earbuds in and they rode that way until they reached Buffalo.
The border crossing in Buffalo was usually crowded, even in the middle of the night. Stephen had been told it was the best way to get to Canada at the moment, the large amount of traffic making it less likely that anyone would care that they were going to Canada for good.
"Stephen," Jon tugged on his shoulders, "Look!" He pointed to where the border crossing was coming into view. Stephen was surprised to see tanks blocking in a line of cars.
"Looks like the guys over at NPR haven't heard of this yet," said Jon.
"Fuck! How in any sane world are there tanks guarding our Canadian border?" Stephen asked in a slightly hysterical tone. He pulled a quick right before they could be rounded up with the rest of the cars trying to cross the border.
Jon looked over his shoulder at the tanks as they drove away, "What now?"
This hadn't been in the plan, but Stephen could think on his feet. "We go north until we find a place without tanks."
"What if there's not a crossing with out tanks?"
"We could go west or try Mexico or rent a boat and try crossing one of the Lakes," said Stephen. "Let's drive up north and see if this is an isolated incident," Stephen said.
"I have a better idea, let's find some wi-fi and see if we can find any information on the net. CNN might not be reporting, but I'm betting there are angry bloggers out there with information," said Jon as he pulled his laptop out.
Stephen nodded and drove around until he saw a "Free Internet!" sign in an IHOP window. He parked the car around back and let Jon get to work.
It didn't take Jon very long at all, "None of the news sights have anything but my rss reader is going crazy." He found a blog of one of Sam's Canadian friends with government connections, and turned the laptop so they can both see. "President Huckabee," he read from the screen, "ordered America's border closed this evening at midnight and has stationed troops recalled from Iraq on the Mexican and Canadian borders. Huckabee claims this move is to shore up security against terrorists out side America and to help catch those who are currently trying to flee the country in fear of America's renewed security measures."
They look at the clock in unison: 12:23. Jon could see the guilt on Stephen's face: if they hadn't stayed to do the shows, they'd be free in Canada right now. "If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have left at all," Jon said, even knowing his words wouldn't fix it this time.
Jon and Stephen stared at each other for a moment before Jon scrolled down the blog. "Several people have been arrested at the border and many others turned away. The following list contains the names of people rumored to have been arrested, but there is no certain information at this point." Jon scanned the list for people they knew, "Keith Olbermann, Erica Hill, fuck, this list is huge!"
"And we were almost on it. We can't try and cross today," said Stephen quietly.
Jon fidgeted, "I think we should get out of the state and find somewhere to hole up and wait this out."
Stephen nodded, "New England or Pennsylvania?"
Jon thought for a moment before responding, "Pennsylvania." He pulled Stephen's road atlas out of the back seat and plotted them a course to Pittsburgh.
It was a long drive and they were both jumpy. Stephen insisted on paying with cash, but paying cash meant paying people, not machines and they could be recognized. Credit cards were even easier to track, though, so they stuck with cash, no matter how nervous it made Jon.
"Here," said Jon. Stephen took a sharp right into a slightly seedy Holiday Inn and abruptly parked the car.
"I'll go in and pay. You and your wonky ear will give us away," Jon said with a smile.
Before he could get out, Stephen leaned into the backseat and triumphantly produced a grey hoodie and a hundred dollars in twenties, "This way it'll just look like you're cheating on your wife."
Jon rolled his eyes, but put on the hoodie anyway. The guy at the front desk showed no signs of recognition and didn't even look interested that Jon paid in cash. He took the two keycards and returned to the car.
Jon yawned and ushered Stephen into their hotel room. It was almost morning and all he wanted to do was sleep, but they were fugitives now. How crazy was that? He threw bags from their side trip to Walgreen's on the bed, "I got three colors, any preference?"
Stephen dug the three boxes of hair dye out of the bag and looked each over critically. "Sandy brown," he decided, holding up the box. "And you'll be cinnamon espresso. We'll do you first."
Jon giggled and pulled his t-shirt off over his head, "Okay, I'm willing to be the guinea pig." He wandered over to the bathroom and fiddled with the bath tub's tap until the water was warm enough. He knelt down and stuck his head under the rushing water until it was completely wet.
He looked up to Stephen carefully mixing bottles of goop. "It can't be that hard," said Stephen, "Of course, my stylist usually does this, but…" He pulled on the plastic glove that came in the kit, and with his most evil look said, "Ready?"
Stephen squirted the gooey substance on Jon's head.
"Ack, that feels disgusting," said Jon, as he tired to keep his head over the tub while laughing.
"Stop that," said Stephen and with a hip check, pinned Jon between him and the tub. "If you keep wiggling, I'm going to end up dyeing your neck cinnamon espresso, and while that might sound tasty and delicious, it smells awful."
"I saw the segment where you ate Bobby. I am not food," said Jon, glad that the banter between them was back. He might be able to face the end of the world as he knew it, but not if Stephen wasn't there next to him, making him laugh.
"Sure, Jon, you are not food. And you're done, just don't drip on anything."
"You're sure this is going to be an effective disguise?" Jon asked, trying to remember not to touch his hair.
"Better than glasses," said Stephen.
"Point taken," replied Jon. "It's your turn now."
Stephen groaned, but gamely dunked his head under the tap. Soon Stephen's head was just as covered in gooey dye as Jon's.
Jon flicked on the television. He'd always found the background buzz of the television to be calming, but today it wasn't helping much. Between the marathon drive and hair dying escapade, it was morning before the dye was washed out and Stephen fell asleep. Jon was still wide awake. He had muted the TV and turned on the captions, but it was a photo of Keith Olbermann that made him stop flipping channels.
"Keith Olbermann and Erica Hill arrested last night trying to cross the border into Canada in an attempt to avoid testifying in front of the House committee," came the confirmation across the bottom of his screen. "Three hundred and twenty-eight others were also detained after trying to leave the United Stats last night and four thousands were turned back at various border crossings."
Jon lay on the bed and stared at the hotel ceiling. It was a long time before he passed into sleep.
Chapter 2: Batman as a Metaphor for Power and Powerlessness
John McCain's winning presidential bid seemed like the worst thing that could happen. Anderson has to deal with the fallout when it's not.
"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it." Edward R. Murrow said this once and I can think of no other words I would rather choose to live by in this time. I may dissent but I am never disloyal. I am an American. And for these reasons, I choose not to answer any questions put to me by the Congress on the matter of anti-American sentiments in cable news broadcasting. -Keith Olbermann, statement to Congress, 4 December 2009.
Pundit Keith Olbermann has refused to answer any questions put to him by the House Committee. In a statement released by his lawyer, Olbermann called the government a tyranny and the 28th Amendment a farce. He said he'll continue to refuse to speak with Congress until the twenty-three senators and Congressman who resigned in protest over the ratification of the 28th are returned to their seats and all Americans who fled due to the new laws be allowed to safely return. I don't believe him for one minute. Olbermann loves the sound of his own voice too much to shut up that long. -Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 5 December 2009.
Anderson might not have been Batman, but he was a journalist and as a journalist he had taken plenty of risks in his life. He had decided to film his border crossing the minute he heard the rumors. They ranged from the repeal of all civil rights for the LGBT community to a full scale stoning of every gay or lesbian the government could get their hands on. It wasn't hard to convince CNN to send him San Francisco. It was a news hot spot and Anderson went where the news was.
The streets were quiet, the few people present spending more time looking over their shoulders than speaking. Even with the new blockade in place, more people were illegally exiting America than had illegally entered before the blockade. The idea of tanks on the American border made Anderson feel ill. Even after Katrina he hadn't expected this. Huckabee and his amendment. That people would actual support such a thing. That they would actually believe in it.
He ran into a man who introduced himself as Matt Archer in a convenience store. Anderson was stocking up on Coke, and Matt on bottled water when he'd recognized Anderson.
"You're the guy from CNN, right?" Matt asked. "What are you doing here?"
"I was doing a segment on the impact of the 28th Amendment on the San Francisco LGBT community, but there's not much left of it," replied Anderson.
"Yeah, all of our neighbors are gone. We're thinking of leaving, too."
Anderson was not sure how it happened, but four hours later he was crammed in the backseat of Matt's car, with his daughter, Rebecca and his partner, Danny.
"We got married back in 2003, when Mayor Newsum was handing out licenses," said Matt from the driver's seat. "It was a total rush; we just got in the car and went."
"Being legally able to marry was so important to us," explained Danny, twisted around from the passenger seat to look at Anderson. "Even though they revoked all the marriage licenses, it was like being part of history."
Anderson filmed them from the backseat, recording their stories, their lives before they'd been torn apart by the administration. The camera in his hand made him feel like he had some control over the situation, some hope.
Danny was in charge of navigation, but Anderson was responsible for their route. He had plotted a course avoiding L.A. and the near marshal law the city had been placed under in hopes of quelling the rioting. Then south and east, avoiding Tijuana with its still hefty police presence, aiming for a quiet desert crossing east of Mexicali where a friendly border guard would be awaiting to get them across.
Anderson had set up most of it before he'd left New York: a few greased palms, a few minor favors. It helped that the rioting had spread from L.A. and Austin to New York and St. Louis, and Huckabee had been forced to pull troops off the border to handle his public. Though the borders were now patrolled more sparsely than before the build up, the few who remained to guard them were even more disillusioned than before.
The highway was the same as ever: a sea of cars pushing one and another towards an unseeing destination. Crowded and mean. Anderson wondered if any of the people in those cars cared at all about what is happening to his country, or if they supported it--had pushed their representatives to vote for the Amendment.
They got off the highway at Barstow. The scenic route added three hours to the already long drive, and as much as Anderson would have liked to drive non-stop, it just wasn't possible with a four year old in the car.
After topping off the gas tank and taking a quick break, they headed off, this time on back roads. The rambling was mostly peaceful and Anderson stared out the window as the desert rolled by, quiet and deadly. They drove through a few small towns. No one was outside smoking on front porches or heading into the local Dairy Queen. The emptiness ate away at Anderson.
The problem with back roads was a stop sign on every corner. They might have not noticed if it wasn't for the stop sign, but Matt slowed the car and came to stop at another empty intersection. There was a tree at the intersection, an old oak. It had probably been growing there since the first settler to the area planted it and kept alive through irrigation and sheer determination. Its branches hung down, though he didn't notice them at first.
Danny gasped in the front seat and somehow the noise forced Anderson's brain to process the sight before him. Those weren't branches; they were men. Three men, strung up in the tree with nylon rope. He slapped a hand over Rebecca's eyes and wondered where that instinct came from, all while rolling down the window so that the camcorder could get a clearer view.
They stayed stopped for a moment. Through the viewfinder Anderson could see that on each man's forehead "sodomite" had been inscribed in Sharpie. Bile rolled in his stomach, burning its way up his throat, but he managed not to throw up. Danny wasn't so lucky. His lunch ended up back in the paper bag it had come in.
The corpses swayed in the harsh breeze, clothes bloody and torn. Their eyes were still open and Anderson stared into a set of blue eyes for hours it seemed. The boy was young, maybe eighteen. He looked baby faced even in death and Anderson couldn't help wondering how he ended up hanging from this tree branch, the cuffs of his jeans stained red with dirt and blood. He wondered if that would be the way his life ended too: Anderson Cooper, strange fruit.
And then they were moving again, Matt's foot heavy on the accelerator. Danny recovered himself enough to ask for his daughter, and Anderson helped her into the front seat and her father's lap. He watched as Danny held on to her, as his tears dropped onto her hair and the action made Anderson long for his mother, safe in France.
They got across the border just as Anderson planned, a little bit of off-roading and one bribe was all it took. Money couldn't buy you everything, but in this case, Anderson could attest to its usefulness.
Mexico was just as he remembered it: bustling, colorful, a cacophony of voices all rolling over one another. He made sure Matt and Danny had somewhere to go. They did, and Anderson wished them well as they drove off to meet up with family and friends.
Anderson spent his first day in Mexico getting himself a room in a cheap but clean hotel just off the main road. A shower made everything look better. Afterward he headed to a café for some real food, grabbing a paper on the walk. Once seated he began to read. He didn't get far. Keith had been arrested and was refusing to cooperate. He read further, letting all the troubling details of Keith's case sink in.
Stunned, he paid quickly and walked back to his hotel, an unassuming building that was still better than most of the places he had slept in while in Africa. It had electricity and indoor plumbing, which made Anderson feel slightly uncomfortable, like a man on the run had no right to ask for such luxuries.
He had them though, and he might as well use them. He booted up his laptop, and began to write. "Dear Keith," Anderson typed furiously, "What exactly were you thinking? Yes, everyone in America already knows you have a temper, but that doesn't mean you don't have manners. I've seen your manners!"
It wasn't as if Keith had promised him anything. He hadn't promised Keith anything either, but he had thought that there was perhaps an understanding. Keith had known, Anderson had made sure he'd known about the subpoenas. He had said he was leaving, going to Canada where he could voice his opinions without fear of reprisal, where he'd be safe.
"I can hear you saying, 'Oh, but they didn't deserve my respect' and I agree with you, especially about Huckabee. The Times even printed the bit about you calling him an 'asshat'. However, whether or not the US House of Representatives deserves your respect, you couldn't have used your manners to try and save your life?" Anderson continued to type in anger.
"The Times is speculating you'll get double life terms to be served consecutively. You couldn't have faked a 'sorry, won't do it again'. You played right into their hands; paranoid, raving, liberal elite who thinks he's better than everyone. The stereotype fulfilled. I'm sure some of it was the editing, but you still gave them the sound bites."
What if he could never see Keith again? If Keith lived out the rest of his life in a dark hole of a prison somewhere and Anderson never actually got a chance to say the things he'd been holding back? Things that he hadn't even really been thinking out loud before now.
"Why?" he typed, "Did you think you were standing up for civil rights, for America? You are right, our civil rights should be stood up for, but Keith, it didn't have to be you. You could have answered questions; you could have given them my name. I'm safe. I would have understood.
"I'm sorry. I sound angry, I know. I'm not angry at you. Okay, I'm a little angry at you, but mostly I'm angry at the situation, angry at the government, furious at what our country has become. When I was crossing the border, we drove through this small town. Cookie cutter housing, shaded lawns: everything you might find in the modern version of a Rockwell painting. Except right there on the main street, three men had been strung up on the ol' oak tree. 'Sodomite' written in Sharpie marker on each of their foreheads."
Anderson paused, taking a deep breath. He would rescue Keith. He had the resources: money, contacts, and charm. He would build himself a bat-suit if that's what it took.
"I've seen dead bodies. I've seen horrible things, so many dead bodies, and yet. People say, 'My country: right or wrong,' but they forget the second half of the quotation, 'If right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.' That's what I plan on doing now. America is my country and I am no longer the unbiased, unaffected observer (many would argue I was neither unbiased nor unaffected before, but you understand my meaning). Anyway, it's time to fight back."
After he finished spewing his anger in text form he flopped back onto the back and flipped on the television. Some soothing background noise to lull him to sleep would do.
"Comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were killed today in an attempt to cross the Mexican border. Both were wanted for refusing to appear before the Congressional Committee on Media Corruption." Anderson hit the off button with out listening to the rest of the coverage and threw the remote across the room. If he ever needed to not hear something like that, it was right now.
Another nail in the coffin, another thing to blame himself for. It was like the world was ending, everything he had ever worked for was gone and his friends were dying right and left. His mother and Molly were the only things he'd managed to save--safe in France, so far away. He couldn't bring himself to join them. He may not have a job anymore, but it didn't mean people didn't need to know what was going on. It didn't mean that he couldn't find a way to fix all this.
Anderson knew all sorts of people. People in every line of work. People who could get things done. But of all the people he called, it was Jeff Corwin who knew how to get a hold of someone in the prison system who could tell him where Keith was and how to get him out. A phone call got Jeff to Mexico faster than even Anderson anticipated, but it still took almost a week and a half to track him down and get him on a plane.
Anderson spent the time interviewing people: Mexican officials, American refugees, children playing in the street. He just kept getting angrier and angrier. By the time he went to pick up Jeff at the airport, he knew they had to act.
"You're alive," was the first thing out of Jeff's mouth and Anderson found himself wrapped up into a rough hug.
"Yeah," he said off-handedly. He was alive, that's about all he had to say on the subject: alive.
Jeff gestured him into a seat and went through the motions of acquiring them food and drink. "I heard about Keith and Erica. Jon and Stephen, too. Who else?"
The economy of words made it hurt less somehow. "I don't know. The Times printed a list a couple weeks ago, but I can't check their sources. I know Rachel Maddow and Dan Abrams got out safely. They left almost a week before the borders were closed. I thought Jon and Stephen were going to get out before then too. I know Stephen had planned on it."
Jeff nodded. "I saw their last shows. Do you have any idea why they waited?"
"No. Last I had heard they were going to try and cross that night after the show. I have no idea why they waited another week. I just heard what Fox was reporting," said Anderson, as he fiddled with his straw. "I didn't know Keith had been arrested until the day I called you. We need to get him out."
"He's fine and there's no way you could get him out. If you tried you would die. Erica is in Virginia though, at Mercy of God Rehabilitation Center, she should be easy to free," said Jeff right off the bat.
Anderson just looked at him.
"Keith is in Colorado," he said. "I don't know if you saw the special Fox ran on the arrested journalists, but there's no way you can get out. He's at ADX Florence, the super-max in Colorado. Do you have a death wish?"
"No, but we need to do something. Not just rescue Keith and Erica but to fix this for everyone," said Anderson.
"Let's go get Erica first and then we'll work on a plan to get Keith out. If we can figure out a way that has a good chance of both of you surviving, we'll do that, okay?" Jeff looked at Anderson until he nodded.
It took Jeff another week to set things up. It was all 'a friend knows a guy' and 'as long as you don't care about the legalities'.
They drove across Mexico in a car that looked like it wouldn't even make out of the hotel parking lot. From there it was a boat to the Bahamas--Anderson never did find out which island they were actually on--and then onto a tiny prop plane to Virginia. They never cleared customs in any of the countries they set foot in.
Anderson didn't ask about the plane's other cargo. He'd bet it wasn't worth his life to know, but he hoped it was not something he would regret too much if he ever did find out. All in all, the journey took four days.
There was a car waiting for them at the tiny stretch of land the pilot was calling a runway, and Jeff hustled him into it before he could ask any questions.
They drove into town in silence. Anderson couldn't bring himself to make small talk and Jeff didn't seem inclined either. They reached the hotel and Jeff paid; no one was looking for him here. He should still be in Peru, doing some special for someone far out of the way.
Jeff handed Anderson a folder as soon as they got settled in. "This is where she is. It's all the information I could get together."
The folder was from the center itself. Red with 'Mercy of God Rehabilitation Center for Women' in gold embossed letters over a stylized logo and a bible verse at the bottom: 'A silent and loving woman is a gift of the Lord: and there is nothing so much worth as a mind well instructed. A shamefaced and faithful woman is a double grace, and her continent mind cannot be valued.' Eccles. 26:14-15.
The words should have clued him into what he would find inside the folder, but perhaps he was blinded by his own anger. By the time he was done flipping through the pages contained inside, he was more determined than ever. "We have to get her out."
It was the day before Christmas Eve and Erica was sitting on the front porch bundled in a winter coat and reading a book when Jeff drove Anderson by Mercy of God Rehabilitation Center for Women. He had to sit on his hands to keep from waving at her, to keep from jumping out of the moving car and running to her.
"Just like the schedule said," Jeff pointed out when they returned to the hotel, "3:30 to 4:30, unsupervised scripture reading time."
Anderson nodded. "We'll go tomorrow."
There was almost no security at the rehab center. It was a step down facility which helped people reintegrate into society. There was even less during reading time, when women further along in the program were allowed to read their Bibles outside by themselves. He guessed they didn't expect to have people rescued from them or no one cared if Erica went missing since they already had their big fish to fry. It would still all depend on Erica, though, and there was no way to let her know what they were planning on in advance.
Their plan was simple: Jeff would walk down the street in front of Mercy of God Rehabilitation Center and smile at Erica. Jeff wasn't even supposed to be in the Northern hemisphere; hopefully no one would recognize him. Anderson trusted Erica would figure out the signal and follow Jeff until they were both out of sight of the facility's monitors. Anderson would then pull the car around, they'd hop in and Erica would be free.
Erica sat in the car, shaking. "Keith said some one would come for me, I just didn't expect you."
Anderson smiled a crooked smile. "Well, it was a lot easier getting you out than I first thought it would be."
"I testified," Erica explained. "Keith and I decided one of us had to be able to get free, so I cooperated, as no one would've believed it from Keith. So I named names and got sent here where I've been a good little rehabilitee. I learned all my prayers and got myself saved. If you'd been much later, I would have already broken myself out."
He set a hand on her shoulder, she flinched, and he jerked his hand back to his lap.
"Sorry," she said, looking at him with a faint, faked smile. "Give me a while to get used to the idea of being a free person again."
"It's good to have you back," Anderson replied.
"We're hooking up with a different friend of mine. He's got a plane all ready for us," announced Jeff about a half hour out from the rehab center.
"I was wondering how we were getting over the border," said Erica. Once she'd updated them on the past months from her perspective, she'd gone quiet. Anderson knew she'd left things out, he just didn't know what or what exactly to do about it.
Jeff on the other hand was filling in, talking about Peru and all the crazy things he'd done lately, filling the silences with light, breezy talk.
Anderson was beginning to feel like this was less of a rescue mission and more of a road trip gone bad. Any minute Jeff was going to break out in song. The car was better than the one they'd driven across Mexico in. They weren't going nearly as far, but he was once again in the backseat of a car driving down a back road in the middle of nowhere.
They pulled into a gas station and filled up half a tank. With gas at almost $9.00 a gallon, it was lucky they even found an open station. Jeff had gone in to pay, leaving Anderson and Erica in the car.
"Are you okay?" he asked her.
"I'm fine," she said, and then after a moment continued, "It's going to take a while. But I'll be okay. Are we going to get Keith?"
"Yes," he said forcefully, "as soon as we can figure out how to get him out alive, we're going to go get him."
The conversation was interrupted when Jeff threw himself into the car and hissed for Erica to get down. "Your disappearance has not gone un-noted. Plus, I'm pretty sure I was just recognized," he said, pulling them out of the gas station parking lot and back onto the road.
Twenty minutes later Anderson was the one to notice the black SUV two cars behind them. "Jeff, does that SUV look familiar?"
Jeff peered into the rearview mirror. "He's been behind us since just after the gas station. Could just be going our way."
"You don't sound too confident about that," said Anderson.
"I'm pretty sure the gas station owner called the cops as soon as I left," replied Jeff.
Anderson had seen Jeff drive in South America and Africa before, in a place where driving was a full contact sport, but it had nothing on what Jeff was engaged in now. Erica held on for dear life and Anderson tried not to stare at the black SUV Jeff was leading on a merry chase. It must have been an area Jeff knew well because he took him all over the Virginia countryside, off exit ramps at top speed, all the way around traffic circles, through a few stop signs and once through a parking lot.
"I don't see them anymore," Anderson said, looking out the back window.
"I don't either," Jeff replied, "I think we lost them and just in time. Don't want the plane to leave with out us."
They made it right before the scheduled take off. The pilot hugged Jeff and then hustled them on to the plane. "I though you must have been captured or killed or something," said the man.
"Just had to take a minor detour," replied Jeff, like it had been nothing.
Jeff joined the pilot up front, leaving Anderson to squeeze in next to Erica in the back for the flight through the night sky.
They landed in Canada just as the sun peaked above the horizon on Christmas day.
Rachel was waiting with Dan when they finally made it off the plane and Anderson once again found himself engulfed in a flurry of hugs.
"When no one got your footage," Rachel said as she held him, "we though you must not have made it. Don't scare us like that." She let him go so that she could punch his arm.
"No one knew anything. We tried every source we had between us," said Dan.
"There were a few hiccups along the way. And I couldn't release the footage, in case I needed to lay low. No one was expecting us to come after Erica. Made it easier," Anderson said.
"Is…" Rachel trailed off. "Keith?" she asked, turning the name into a question.
"He's at ADX Florence in Colorado," said Anderson.
"Yeah, we saw the Fox thing," she replied. "I was hoping, but it's got to be close to impossible to get him out of there."
Anderson sighed, "Yeah, but we're going to figure something out and we're going to go and get him. I promise I won't leave him there."
Rachel squeezed his hand tightly, "I know."
Chapter 3: The Underground Railroad is Called the Subway These Days
Surviving and living are different things, and figuring out how to live in these times can be hard.
Erica Hill disappeared from Mercy of God Rehabilitation Center for Women yesterday. Hill, formerly a reporter for CNN, was arrested for attempting to flee the country to avoid testifying about Hollywood's attempt to corrupt America. -Brit Hume, Fox News, 25 December 2009.
President Huckabee has ordered America's borders open today to those Jews who wish to return to Israel. Huckabee commented that it was God's plan for all Jews to return to Israel and that America would never stand in the way of those seeking to do God's will. -Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, 26 December 2009.
Authorities are still searching for Josiah Abbott. Sources say that Abbott is most likely hiding in Europe where radical liberals are helping him avoid capture and extradition. Abbott is the mastermind behind the New Orleans port bombing and is currently the number one person on the FBI's most wanted list. -Shepard Smith, Fox News, 19 January 2010.
President Huckabee denounced the recent rising tide of lynching in America today. He reminds citizens that America is still a land of law and that suspected criminals should be turned over to law enforcement. During the Huckabee administration not a single person has been charged in a lynching related case. -Greta Van Susteren, Fox News, 4 April 2010.
The Supreme Court is hearing several test cases brought in hopes of changing current laws now that the 28th Amendment is in effect. The first one on the roster is McAllen vs. Board of Education, which many are hoping will re-legalize school prayer. -Shepard Smith, Fox News, 17 June 2010.
The University of California, Berkeley, has been shut down while authorities investigate professors and staff on charges of moral corruption and conspiracy to commit treason. This is the first time an entire university has been shut down. Three thousand professors and teachers from institutions across the country have been individually charged in similar cases. We've always known that the universities were second only to Hollywood in the charge to corrupt America's youth. I, for one, am glad to see them getting what they deserve. -Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, 25 August 2010.
Congress, on recommendations from the White House, revoked the citizenship of several infamous atheists today. The House also passed HR-233, a new national identification plan. This controversial measure would require religious affiliation to be clearly documented on government identification. -Brit Hume, Fox News, 3 October 2011.
They'd been in Chicago for month before Jon finally made it to the grocery store and back with out getting lost. He even knew a few of the neighbors. As long as he didn't watch TV or think about his kids it was as if the world wasn't really ending.
Jon hated the sneaking around, trying not to draw attention to themselves. Mostly because neither he nor Stephen were any very good at it; they were much better at being the center of attention. Stephen, at least, was having an easier time of it than Jon, but he'd always been better at pulling a character on and living him. So Stephen was Paul from New Jersey and Jon was Jon Stewart with a fake name. For the most part it worked for them.
The walk-up they lived in was the smallest apartment Jon had ever seen, and he was a New Yorker. It had free cable and the landlady let them pay in cash, so Jon wasn't complaining. At first they had gotten by on odd jobs as the last of Stephen's cash had gone to the security deposit on the apartment. Stephen worked for a friend of a friend, teaching ESL at night for cash under the table and Jon did odd jobs for their landlady, Sasha Bannerman. It was barely enough to keep them in food and necessities.
They'd been in Chicago for less then a week when Jon flicked on the news. It wasn't the same anymore, especially now that Fox News was the only cable news left, but there wasn't much to do when you were lying low and hoping to avoid arrest.
"Comedians and wanted criminals, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were killed today attempting to illegally cross the Canadian border. The two disappeared after being called to testify in front of Congress. Sources say Stewart and Colbert had been carrying on an illicit affair for several years and were attempting to avoid the certain jail sentence they were facing."
Jon looked up from the television. "Dude, we're dead."
Stephen stared back at him. "Dude, we're gay!"
"How come no one told us?" pouted Jon.
"Well, Steve has been saying we're gay for each other for years now. Maybe we just weren't paying attention," said Stephen.
"Yeah, but that's Steve. If we're dead are we still gay? I'm so confused."
Jon was, however, actually confused over how an amendment that supposedly brought Christian morality to America had turned him gay. Or maybe not gay exactly, it wasn't that he'd lost any interest in women, it was just that he'd gained an interest in men. Mostly, Stephen. Maybe Steve was right, maybe he really had been gay for Stephen all along.
Their apartment was too small for two beds, really it was too small for even one bed, and so they made due with a pull out couch. It was red and orange, and Jon had found it on Craigslist for twenty bucks. Folded out, the couch took up almost all the floor space in the apartment.
Sometimes, Jon would wake up to find Stephen burrowed under all the blankets, legs and arms tucked into his body and his face pressed against Jon's side. Other times, if Jon let him, Stephen would steal all the blankets and end up wrapped into a human burrito. Either way it was oddly comforting and Jon slept better knowing that Stephen was beside him.
They'd spent so much time together before that it hadn't occurred to him that living together would be much different, but Stephen always had a new surprise for him. Jon had always known Stephen was a geek, but he'd packed only the t-shirts he couldn't bear to leave behind. Green Lantern, Captain America, Comic Con '03, and a Stewart/Colbert '08 shirt he couldn't wear outside the apartment. Add to that a pair of red Chucks and his most worn jeans, the ones that Steve had drawn an America flag in Sharpie on the right pocket, and Stephen had transformed himself from high status idiot to hard core nerd. He'd even brought a few comic books with him, though his long boxes were waiting for him in Canada at Rachel's.
If they ever made it to Canada. Jon sighed. Chicago wasn't that bad, even now, but they still hadn't found a way to get themselves out yet. They had, however, gotten new jobs.
Their landlady, Sasha Bannerman, was nearing seventy and still going strong. After three months of dragging Jon around to minor handyman jobs, she must have decided he was trustworthy because she introduced Jon and Stephen to Pete, one of the main players in the Chicago Underground. The Underground was half French Resistance, half black market and the entire idea delighted Stephen.
"We could do some real good," he said.
"I thought we were trying to get out of here," Jon responded.
"We were, we are. I don't know. Our wives think we're dead. The government thinks we're dead. We still haven't figured out how to get ourselves over the border. I think it's time to start fighting again," Stephen said.
Jon turned back to Pete and Sasha. "What would we be doing?"
It was Pete who answered, "We've got a radio station. It's mostly on the net, but we actually broadcast in a few places, moving the transmitters around so we don't get caught. Sort of a morale thing. Anyway, Sasha recognized the two of you, and our contacts vouched for you so we talked about it and we'd like to offer you a show. Two hours twice a week, just the two of you talking about whatever's going on out in the world."
Jon locked eyes with Stephen, who was already nodding.
"Yes, we'll do it," Jon said.
"I've missed performing so much," said Stephen.
"Wow," said Pete, stunned at the quick response. "We weren't sure you'd be willing."
"We love doing what we do," said Jon, "Anything to make this a little more normal."
"When can we start?" asked Stephen.
"I'll get one of the boys to come over and bring you microphones and set up the software you'll need on your laptop. After that, you'll record the show, save it on an USB drive and leave it in a drop spot. There'll be a clean USB drive in the drop spot every time and you'll just switch them out," Pete said.
"Before you agree, think about it," said Sasha. "It could be dangerous. We'll do everything we can to keep you safe, but you'll be taking on a government that has even less of a sense of humor than the one in power when I was out marching for civil rights."
"Just existing is dangerous for us right now," said Stephen. "As long as Jon is in, I'm in."
"I'm in," said Jon and Stephen grabbed his hand and squeezed.
Pete was calling their show the Voice of America in Exile. Stephen was calling it the best thing that happened to him since the Amendment passed. Two hours of Jon and Stephen snarking about politics, religion and America; no writers, no censors, just giving hope to the people stuck in this tragedy.
No one knew who they were of course. They used code names and other precautions and besides, everyone already thought they were dead. It didn't really matter, either. Jon would keep doing this even if no one ever knew it was them.
They kept a list on the refrigerator. Any time one of them learned of a friend who had made it to safety, their name went on the list. Rachel, Dan, Steve, Nancy, Sam, Jason… the list was long, but the names missing from it were the heartbreaking part: Keith, Anderson, Rob, Ed.
The Underground had only the sketchiest of communications over the border but every once in a while Sasha would come by and tell them that Pete had turned up another person they knew safe somewhere.
"Erica Hill is safe in France," Sasha said one morning as Jon was helping her change light bulbs in the lobby of the building. "We don't know how she got out, but she did."
Jon loved being the one who got to write a new name on the list and once he was finished helping Sasha he rushed back up to the apartment.
"What are you so happy about?" asked Stephen who couldn't help but notice the smile on Jon's face.
"Pen," Jon demanded.
Stephen handed over the pen and followed Jon to the refrigerator, where Jon wrote Erica's name under Lewis Black's.
"She's safe?" asked Stephen.
"In France, Sasha doesn't know who got her out, but she's safe," said Jon.
Stephen wrapped Jon in a hug. "We'll all get out of this, safe and sound, one day. Even Keith."
Jon picked up the comic book on a lark. He'd had change in his pocket and the boy selling them out of the trunk of his car had looked hungry. It was the same guy on the cover as on one of Stephen's t-shirt so Jon figured that Stephen might like it. He probably should remember the guy, but it's not the Green Lantern he shared a name with and the other one's name has slipped his mind. In almost a year of living with Stephen, he had been steeped in even more comic book trivia then a weekend at Comic-con.
When he made it back to the apartment Stephen was waiting on the front porch reading a battered paperback.
"I got you a present," said Jon in a sign song voice.
"Present?" Stephen asked excitedly.
Jon showed him the comic and Stephen took it from his hands reverently.
"Thank you." Stephen's smile was showing all his white teeth and Jon stared, mesmerized. He leaned in toward Stephen's happiness and suddenly they were kissing.
It was not awkward at all and somehow that threw Jon more than the fact he'd just kissed and been kissed back by Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A. It just felt right.
It took another month for Stephen to get used to the idea that Jon wanted him. Jon waited out Stephen's confusion quietly, waited for Stephen to come to him.
When Stephen decided it was like he'd thrown a switch. He was all in. They had gotten take out to celebrate the first anniversary of their show. Moo shu pork, sesame chicken and a six pack of beer.
Two beers in, Jon was making a joke about Kim Jong-il and waffles when out of the blue, Stephen kissed him.
"We've been dead for a year and a half. If she… I hope she's found someone to be happy with," came tumbling out of Stephen's mouth, bring the mood of the room down several notches. "Maybe I can, too"
Jon hadn't heard Stephen use his wife's name since they had decided to come to Chicago. "I know. We don't have to do anything," Jon left the thought hanging in the air
"I've spent the last month thinking about this. What if we do this and then we manage to escape the next day? What if we never escape? What if they some how know we're alive and are waiting for us? What if you walk out the door tomorrow to go get groceries and never come back? What if I'm the one who gets killed?" said Stephen and it was clear to Jon that Stephen really has spent the last month contemplating every possible scenario.
"And?" asked Jon.
"If we get rescued tomorrow, I won't regret this. If we never escape, I'd regret not doing this," said Stephen. "I want you too."
The pullout bed was lumpy and uncomfortable under Jon's back. It didn't matter to him at all because Stephen was on top of him, his tongue slowly tracing the line of Jon's clavicle.
He wasn't sure how he lost his shirt, but it was gone along with Stephen's.
Jon laid a gentle hand on Stephen's cheek and smiled up at him. "Hey," he said softly, "I'm glad we're here."
Stephen leaned down and kissed Jon on the forehead. "Right now, so am I," and with that the talking was over.
There was no bigger rush than when Stephen held his hand, kissed his lips, came inside him saying I love you. Jon hadn't planned on sleeping with Stephen. Hadn't planned any of this really. Now his only plan was for it to keep happening.
"I'm Marion," said Jon.
"And I'm Chuck," said Stephen.
"And this is the Voice of America in Exile," they said together.
"Today's top headlines are: more academic purges, this time at Yale; Huckabee announces that figs are his favorite food and Biblically approved too; and Billo thinks Microsoft's new operating system, Windows Symphony, is too gay."
They never actually talked about the fact they were sleeping together, it just became part of their lives. They would be in the middle of the show and Stephen would say something and Jon would laugh so hard he thought he would hurt himself and then Stephen would be kissing him. They'd end up having to go back and edit out the sounds of them making out on the couch.
Outside the apartment was a different thing. Outside the apartment, holding hands could get you killed by angry neighbors or arrested by cops looking to make their quota. It was hard to remember that and they'd had a close call or two. Outside the apartment, Stephen once explained to Jon, was like a whole different world and they were an away team.
There was a grocery store a few blocks down from their apartment that Stephen had declared off limits. They had gone to restock the refrigerator after they finished the show one night. They'd both been a little high off the show, joking and roughhousing a bit, grinning at each other like loons. It was the cashier who deflated their post-show bubble of glee. One glare, a glare that said, you touch each other too much to be straight men, and they had spent the entire walk home looking over their shoulders, watching for the police or maybe a lynch mob.
Jon sometimes wondered how much of their relationship was based on close quarters and almost certain danger and how much of it was actually them. How much of it was the feeling of sending a fuck you in Huckabee's direction every time they kissed. It bothered him sometimes, but it was just another one of those things he shoved to the back of his mind and tried not to think about. For now, it was enough.
"I went to drop off the USB drive and the old one was still there," said Stephen, pacing nervously in the few feet of empty floor space they had in the apartment.
"What?" Jon spun around to stare at Stephen.
"It's still there. I left it just in case it was a tracking device or someone was watching or something," said Stephen.
"What did you do with the one we just made?" he asked.
"Kept it," Stephen replied.
"We need to tell Sasha, see if she can find out what happened. Maybe the courier just got delayed."
"The police picked up the courier," Sasha said in a low voice. "We may be compromised."
"Fuck," said Jon.
"Language," said Sasha with a stern look in Jon's direction. "Just be ready to go if we need to move you. I've got a guy on the inside, so I'll know ahead of time, but you might not get much notice."
"Okay," said Stephen and he let Sasha out.
Jon barely noticed as his anxiety ratcheted up. If they got caught they'd go to prison. It would be a life sentence. They'd be lucky to get a trial at all. There would be no hope of seeing his kids again, no hope of seeing Stephen again, just blank cement walls.
They might even be killed. No one would ever know. The worlds still thought that they were dead, and dead men have even fewer rights than people arrested on terrorism charges.
"Jon," said Stephen, trying to get his attention, "there's no point in worrying about it now."
Jon stared at him, trying to get his breathing back under control.
"Jon," Stephen pitched his voice low and taking Jon's hand, "There's nothing else to do. Come to bed." And Jon went.
Chapter 4: Broadcast Me a Joyful Noise unto the Times, Lord
They keep fighting. There's nothing else to do.
"Bishop Thomas Kowalski was murdered today at Saint Mary and the Angels Catholic Church in Alabama, Kowalski was under suspicion of being a leader of CLUMSY and police suspect he was killed by member of his own organization in a power struggle." -Shepard Smith, Fox News, 2 February 2013
"Bishop Thomas Kowalski was assassinated while consecrating the host during a High Mass today by a man Birmingham police are claiming is a disaffected member of CLUMSY. Parish members, however, say the man screamed, 'Sola scriptura. God Bless a Christian America,' before shooting the Catholic Bishop thirty-four times with an AK-47. Several other people were injured trying to disarm the man, whose name has not been released by the police." -Anonymous, The Subterranean Press, 4 February 2013
The three fourteen year old boys convicted of the murder of sixteen year old Zane Barlow each received a five year suspended sentence and 100 hours of community service. Two other boys were originally also charged, but were acquitted in the beating and subsequent hanging of the LDS teen. Barlow was the fourth LDS youth killed in Texas this year, but this is the only case in which any suspects were tried. -Brit Hume, Fox News, 4 August 2013.
Three Media Studies professors were killed today in Massachusetts by angry students. The students claimed the professors were secretly teaching the homosexual agenda, and may have themselves been homosexuals. -Greta Van Susteren Fox News, 5 September 2013
Anderson loved the little commune Rachel had set up in the Canadian wilderness. Okay, so it wasn't exactly the wilderness and it wasn't quite a commune, but that was how Anderson thought of it. Five houses and a barn-turned-office on old farm land in Ontario. Anderson figured even if it wasn't now a commune, it had been built for one.
Rachel ran the American Refugee Assistance Center from the barn. She helped people who had escaped America with visas and employment, anything they needed: finding people's families, getting medical help and counseling, and generally trying to help people rebuild their lives. Dan helped on the legal end, Steve Carell was their celebrity public face, and Anderson financed the project. He kept his involvement in the Center under wraps and rumors of his death or permanent vacation to the Bahamas helped keep it that way. The only person he'd actually told about his continuing existence was his mother. He hadn't actually spoken to her, just sent word through Erica.
Rachel called the compound "The Farm" and the name had stuck. The Farm had become the headquarters of all their Underground activities as well as their legitimate business. Anderson figured that they were financing almost half of the Underground in America, and a good portion of the illegal border crossings too.
Unlike many of the others, Rachel had gotten her money out of US banks before it could be confiscated when she was redefined as a terrorist. Anderson and Dan had done the same, but most of the people who trickled in after Steve were running short on funds.
Wyatt, Aasif and Kristen had shown up together four months after the border closed, with exactly fifteen dollars and a mangy dog among them.
"I," said Wyatt, "had nothing to do with the dog. He's all Kristen's fault."
Kristen just said, "His name is Hobbes."
Anderson fell in love with the dog immediately, and by the second week Hobbes had abandoned the young Daily Show correspondents to sleep at the foot of his bed.
They'd received donations to cover some of their costs. Amy Sedaris, who had grabbed Paul Dinello and her siblings and headed to her brother David's house in France two days before the borders closed, had sent a large check. People who weren't connected to them had sent money as well: Canadian MPs, British sport stars, and a few Bollywood actors. It was enough to keep them in business without depleting all of Anderson's funds, or at least without depleting them immediately.
Rachel made sure that the illegal and immoral arrests and detentions of hundreds of American journalists didn't leave the forefront of the international media's attention. When she wasn't at the Farm, Rachel was on the Canadian talk circuit, advocating for the release of those unjustly detained.
"Look," said Rachel one evening on CTV National News, "most of the so-called terrorist activities journalists in the United State have been arrested for are for things they did before the laws changed and were perfectly legal and part of their jobs when they did them. These people have been arrested for reporting the news and actually doing a little bit of research instead of directly reporting what the White House tells them. Three of those guys are weathermen--not the most subversive people, weathermen, but all three of them are still doing time for supporting environmental terrorism. In one case, the environmental terrorism was suggesting that global climate change was seriously affecting the planet and that cars are one of the biggest factor in global climate change."
Whenever they could, Anderson and Dan dropped their work to watch Rachel on television. Usually, whoever was in the office joined them.
Many of the people Stephen had sent north from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report had joined them or volunteered as well. Wyatt, Aasif, and Kristen had stayed and shared the smallest house on the Farm. The interns who had come with Sam and Jason helped file residency paper work and kept the Farm running smoothly. Steve kept morale up and dealt with other aid agencies to make sure no resource was left unturned. It was as if somehow, by staying close to one another, they were keeping their America alive.
The Subterranean, as they called the Underground newspaper, was actually Wyatt's idea. He had recruited Kristen and Aasif and they had brought the idea to Rachel, who'd jumped on it immediately. It was half real journalism, half Onion-style, and had one of the largest circulations of any illegal newspaper in America. Their Canadian circulation wasn't bad either.
Rachel sometimes wondered about the conditions American refugees faced. Instead of setting up camps, the Canadians had placed most dislocated Americans with host families. Work visas and identification papers came through faster than Rachel had seen any bureaucracy work before.
It wasn't just that. Both Rachel and Anderson had been in refugee camps before and had witnessed the deprivation. As much as she was thankful for all the Canadians were doing, she often wondered if America, even before the Amendment, would have been so kind to refugees in their care.
Not everyone stayed on the Farm. Erica had gone to France, where Anderson had arranged for her to stay with his mother so that she would have as much time and quiet as she needed to recover. Jeff visited on occasion, but he devoted most of his time to smuggling people and things over the border for Anderson and the Underground.
If it wasn't for the situation in America, Anderson might have been content on the Farm.
They heard the news over the television in those darkest days, back when it was just Rachel, Dan and Steve. Steve had only been there for a day, and had come expecting to meet up with Jon and Stephen after getting as many people out of LA as he could. Dan had been in the kitchen with the television on. The kitchen had been serving as their main office when the news had come across the ticker: Stewart and Colbert dead.
Dan and Rachel tossed a coin to see who would call John Oliver, who'd have to make sure Tracey and Evie heard the news from someone they knew and not from a television. Steve had come in, stopped their deliberations, and volunteered to call himself. Rachel had stood by him as he dialed, had let the phone ring until John woke up and answered groggily, waited for John to wake up his house guests and let Steve deliver the news.
After Steve finally hung up, Rachel broke out a bottle of scotch and when they'd finished that, a bottle of tequila.
"To absent friends."
Getting into America wasn't the hard part. In fact, for Anderson, it was almost easier to get in and out of America than it had been before the barricade. No more customs, no more lines, but there was a lot more danger.
The Underground wasn't the organized entity ready to swoop down and wreak havoc that the news made it out to be. Not that that wasn't Anderson's goal, but most of the Underground didn't even know the rest of it existed. They were small, local groups doing what they could to help their neighbors. A few were more organized and more even aggressive.
It had taken him a long time to get used to the news lumping him in with terrorists. Not that there weren't those in the Underground who walked that line. The CLUMSY kids--Anderson had yet to meet a single one of them over the age of twenty-six--were some of the most violent. They'd taken to blowing up mega-churches in the middle of the night and hacking into things like water treatment plants. They were just lucky that no one had been caught in one of their attacks yet.
They were also the ones who had found the last of the information Anderson needed. Information he thought might bring Huckabee down. This was why he was once again headed into America before they were ready to rescue Keith.
CLUMSY also had two scientists that they desperately needed to get out of the country and were willing to trade their information for the scientists' safe passage. Dr. Anne Caermichael and Dr. David Van Meter had both worked on stem cell research for the University of Wisconsin. Several of their colleagues had been killed and the rest arrested.
They'd made some sort of breakthrough. His CLUMSY contact, Gerard, wasn't willing to say what, but whatever it was, it would probably save thousands of lives if they could just get it to civilization.
Jeff had set up the whole trip: evidence in, scientists out. The academic purges were spreading and more and more professors and researchers who hadn't gotten out before were turning to the Underground to get them out now.
Anderson insisted he'd be the one to go. If they really did have memos from Huckabee, signed in his own hand, ordering the framing of Josiah Abbott, Anderson might not actually have to storm ADX Florence. Maybe Keith would be released and he wouldn't have to risk any more lives to get him out.
"Anderson," said Rachel, "you need to take a break. You're pushing yourself to the limits--and I understand why--but if you get yourself killed, who will rescue Keith?"
Anderson hadn't stopped working since he'd set foot in Canada and his obsession with the Huckabee memos was beginning to worry her.
Ever since getting the first hint that Huckabee had been behind the framing of Josiah Abbot, Anderson had gotten more and more obsessed with finding proof. Circumstantial evidence had been easy for Anderson to find. It piled up into a compelling case that neither Josiah Abbot nor the LGBT community had anything to do with the New Orleans port bombing. It was enough to convince Rachel and Dan, and maybe even enough for the Canadian news. Anderson had seen too many good stories fall apart when publicized too early and he wasn't willing to risk his only shot at dethroning Huckabee without hard evidence.
Rachel never thought of herself as very parental, but someone had to play the adult. Steve might actually be an adult, but get him together with the rest of the Daily Show crew and they all turned into twelve year old boys (even Sam), and the interns were all teenagers to begin with. Anderson just stared fondly at their antics, as if caught in memories of a better time, and Dan was more likely to start a war than to fix anything, so Rachel took up the job.
Everyone came to her with their problems. During the day they all left her to work, but by the time she'd walked across the field to her house, there was always someone waiting for her at her kitchen table needing help. More often than not, someone else cooked dinner as she sorted out these issues and then they all ate together.
"Rachel, you need to see this," said Dan as he pulled her towards the television after dinner one night.
"The RCMP has just released a statement announcing that a team of American military operatives were prevented from abducting Pete Stark, a Representative from California. Stark received political asylum from the Canadian government earlier this year. He was tried by the American government in absentia, found guilty, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Stark is the only atheist to ever serve Congress."
"They sent a retrieval squad after Pete Stark," said Rachel in disbelief. "He's like eighty."
It was probably not the first American retrieval squad to kidnap someone from Canadian soil. Rachel was still suspicious of the disappearance of Tammy Baldwin, the first openly lesbian woman to sit in the House of Representatives. This squad was just the first to get caught.
She didn't know if they were in danger from the retrieval squads. She didn't know if they would ever be able to free Keith. She didn't know if they would ever get to give Jon and Stephen a proper burial or find out what actually happened to Rob Riggle. In the face of all the things Rachel didn't know, she had to just keep going.
Anderson hated that his code name was Coyote, but it stuck after they insisted Silver Fox was both laughable and way too obvious. It was Gerard, one of their best underground contacts, who finally explained to him that they were not thinking about the coyotes who took people's money and left them stranded in the desert. Yes, partially, it was because he was smuggling people across the border, but it was really because he'd fallen into the role of Trickster.
He was the one needling the tyrants, pulling their enemies away to safety from right under their noses. He was the one helping the people, the one who used his words and actions to save.
Gerard was a Montréaler by birth, though he'd been living in the US when the Amendment passed. He'd been at MIT doing things with math that Anderson could only speculate about. Whatever it was, Anderson was betting it was intelligence related because Gerard had all the right training and contacts.
This was how Anderson ended up taking a minor detour on his way to meet with CLUMSY. Gerard had handed him a print out of a police blotter on his way out the door. Sixteen people had been left to die locked in the back of a truck that was supposed to be taking them to Mexico but instead had been left in the desert. It wasn't too hard to figure out who the coyotes were or even to catch them.
Anderson left the three coyotes at the Glendale police headquarters. He knew what would happen to them and thought about regretting it for a minute, but he didn't. People who he recruited for the Underground, which some jokers at the Farm had started calling "Anderson's Subway", knew going into it that they were volunteers and this was not a for profit market.
Getting people out of America who needed to escape wasn't something to be turned over to out of work drug runners and thieves. These three had taken their cargo's life savings and had left them to die in southern Arizona. And for that, they deserved whatever the United States government shelled out.
Once that chore was taken care of, Anderson headed towards the pick up site. He never did get the story of how the two UW researchers had ended up hiding in Glendale, AZ, but the dry heat was nice after the muggy Canadian summer.
"You have the memos," said Anderson
"I do," replied the man who had given his name as Tom. Not that his name was actually Tom, but Anderson hadn't given a name at all, just Coyote, so he let it slide.
Tom handed over a thick manila envelope. "Here's everything we have."
Anderson took a brief look at the papers inside, confirming that there was a signature at the bottom of one of the memos.
"Dr. Caermichael and Dr. Van Meter," Tom said, once Anderson had gotten the papers back into the envelope.
The two scientists looked scared but determined and Anderson quickly flashed them what he hoped was a reassuring smile. "I'll take it from here."
They made it back over the Canadian border without a single incident, which only made Anderson more nervous. He made it safely back to the Farm, so apparently it wasn't a harbinger of immediate doom.
He gathered Rachel, Dan, Jeff, and Steve around Rachel's kitchen table and spread the papers in front of them.
Anderson gave them time as they read the damning words. "Do you think it's enough?"
Rachel looked up from the documents. "You know, I think it is."
Chapter 5: Ex Lux Perpetua Luceat Eis
Life is unpredictable.
Several Catholic priests and Mormon bishops were indicted today on charges of consorting with terrorist groups. While Mormons and Catholics have a traditional enmity, CLUMSY, the Catholic-LDS Youth Resistance Movement, has overcome this to become an extremely dangerous terrorist group. Officials have initiated the process to remove the Catholic Church's tax exempt status and its ability to witness legal marriages today. The LDS church lost these rights almost a month ago. -Shepard Smith, Fox News, 3 January 2014
Memos from President Huckabee to several staffers surfaced today. These documents suggest that the American President and his staff framed Josiah Abbot for the 2009 bombing of the Port of New Orleans. Several experts testified to the legitimacy of these documents, though how they were obtained is still under question. -Peter Mansbridge, The National, 14 March 2014
Human Rights groups have accused police forces around the United States of using excessive force during protests that took place last week. Fifteen people were killed while protesting in Chicago alone. -Lloyd Robertson, CTV National News, 23 April 2014
"They're coming for you," said Sasha as she launched herself into their apartment. "You've got five minutes. Grab whatever you need and come with me."
Jon and Stephen scattered, shoving clothes and a few precious things into duffel bags as they went.
Sasha hustled them out of the apartment and down to the back alley. "This is Brian. He'll take you somewhere safe."
The man waved them into the back of the car and they were away.
The trip to Indianapolis wasn't all that long, even though they spent half of it stashed in the back under blankets.
Jon was unsure when Brian told him he was taking them to St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, even though it was obviously affiliated with the Underground.
"Don't worry," said Brian in the church parking lot. "Father Mark is a friend of mine. He takes in a lot of people we need to hide and he hasn't lost one yet. Elizabeth won't steer you wrong either," he said, smiling at the woman who came to greet them.
Elizabeth set them up in a small room in the basement of the church's school. "Hope you two don't mind sharing. We're bursting at the seams here."
Jon suspected it was once storage closet, but beggars can't be choosers and at least she'd put them in a room together.
The room had a tiny window at ground level, a rickety double bed covered with a hand made quilt and a bookshelf that looked as if it had come straight out of some kid's dorm room.
"Sorry we don't have anything better," Elizabeth said. "Several of our parishioners have lost their homes recently and we've got several other people by way of the Underground as well."
"No, no, this is perfect," said Stephen. "It's not like we had a lot of room back home either. We're just grateful you could take us in."
During the day, the school was filled with children learning, running, and talking at the tops of their lungs. The whole place was full of life, no matter what was happening outside. Jon spent his days doing whatever jobs Elizabeth needed him to do from kitchen duty to recess monitoring.
Elizabeth never went to Mass; even Jon was a more frequent attendee. He liked the quite time with Stephen, just sitting next to him somewhere Stephen loved to be.
Elizabeth ran the soup kitchen, counseled those who chose not to talk to a priest, and did most of the handy work around the church. She and Stephen hit it right off, bonding over the Lord of the Rings and comics.
It took Jon longer to feel comfortable enough to be friendly.
"I thought it would be odd being here," said Jon one day as he was helping in the kitchen, "being a Jew and all."
Kelly O'Neill, one of the girls in the parish whose family was now living in the school, was turning seventeen and Jon had been drafted into chopping vegetables as Elizabeth and Father Mark fussed over the rest of the birthday meal.
"Christians are called to give sanctuary to those in need," Father Mark said. "Every priest interprets the obligation to give shelter differently. To me it means every human being, any person who needs shelter, who needs food, who needs a kind hand. I know some churches are only giving shelter to Catholics or those who meet some arbitrary moral standard, but I choose not to turn anyone away," said Father Mark. "You know, Elizabeth isn't Catholic either."
"Wait, you're not Catholic?" Jon turned and asked Elizabeth who was stirring cake batter.
"Nope. Mark may be my little brother, but we differ when it comes to theology. We both went off to seminary after college. Different ones, of course. I'm not sure they could have been more opposite," Elizabeth said. "There's nothing left of my fellowship now. Most of the members left before the border closed and the building was taken over to make a new ALERT training area. I decided to stay, though, help who I could. Mark and his parish took me in, gave me a place to do that."
"We were supposed to go. We just didn't make it in time. I miss my family, my kids, but I'm almost glad we stayed," said Jon.
"Stephen!" called Jon. "You forgot the money." But Stephen was nowhere in sight. Jon sighed and grabbed the envelope of money from the table. "Elizabeth, I'm going to try and catch up with him."
"Sure," she said absentmindedly.
Jon tucked the envelope into his back pocket and gave her a wave before heading out the side door.
Elizabeth had been with St. Joan of Arc's since the Amendment passed. Jon knew she'd been a minister, but could only guess she'd belonged to one of the denominations or religions that had quietly disappeared since Huckabee came into power. Probably one of the liberal ones: sometimes it seemed like she was more comfortable with Jon and Stephen than either of them were.
Jon pushed open the side door and walked into the blinding light. It was still a bit chilly outside, but the snow was gone and the grounds were a vibrant green again. For a moment he forgot all the pain and horror that had brought him to this point and inhaled the scent of blooming flowers and fresh breeze. The smell of life continuing. For everything that had gone wrong, he was still alive, still fighting, and still hoping that they would make a difference.
The streets were quieter than city streets should be, and it made the hair on the back of Jon's neck stand up. There was supposed to be protests over on Meridian today and no one wanted to be out in case the cops got out of hand. Which was happening more and more these days. The old cops were gone mostly: retired or forced out. Now they were mostly troops brought in through ALERT or one of the other Joel's Army training camps. Either way, they were on a mission from God and the Constitution might as well not exist.
He could hear the sirens; Meridian was the next big street over and the sound carried. He couldn't imagine protesting these days, and he wondered if that made him a coward. He'd always stood up and spoken out against things he didn't believe in. These days doing that was likely to get you a bullet in the gut or your head bashed in. Plus, there was always the chance of being recognized, arrested, and sent to prison for the rest of your life. Might as well be dead either way.
It didn't stop the kids: college students, high-schoolers, they all flocked to the protests, screaming and chanting and calling for change. And they died. Tiny Kelly O'Neill had been carried into the sanctuary by two of her brothers three months ago, trampled in a protest downtown. Stephen had been there when Patrick and Liam brought her in and Jon had thought that this would be the thing that finally broke him.
Instead it had brought a new passion to Stephen. He'd helped arrange the funeral Mass and had sat and talked with Patrick and Liam and their youngest brother Kieran. Tried to talk them through their anger, their impulse for destruction. He'd even joined the church's choir, something Jon had been trying to talk him into since Chicago.
It didn't stop them though. The Catholic-Latter Day Saints Youth Resistance, which had somehow acquired the nickname CLUMSY, got people out on the streets every week. When it wasn't organizing protests, it was acting as the long arm of the resistance; doing things Jon had never thought he'd see on American soil. Three weeks after Kelly's death, Patrick was dead too and Liam had been arrested after they managed to blow up some pastor's car. It was the first time Jon had ever seen anyone throw up purely from horrific news.
Jon shook his head to clear the image. He shouldn't dwell on it now, should breath in the fresh air and think about making things better. He was sure if they could just come up with the perfect plan, things could get better. What they were doing now was helping. Helping people who needed help.
He caught up with Stephen just before 38th St. "Wait up!" he called, and Stephen turned to the sound of his voice.
Jon jogged a few steps to catch up and then fell in step beside Stephen.
"Hey, yourself," replied Stephen, obviously curious about Jon's arrival.
"You forgot the envelope," Jon said, passing the money over to Stephen.
"I'd forget my head if it wasn't screwed on," said Stephen, and Jon pushed down the urge to grab him and kiss him right there in the street.
Stephen continued, oblivious to Jon's desire, "Walk the rest of the way with me."
"Sure," replied Jon. The sun was warm on the back of his neck and it really was a nice day to be outside. He walked next to Stephen, keeping enough distance between them as not to appear suspicious. Stephen was notoriously bad at remembering that he couldn't just walk down the street holding Jon's hand.
"Alex said there might be strawberries and rhubarb. If there is, maybe Father Mark will make pie," said Stephen in a voice that made Jon know he already smelled the pie baking away.
"I haven't had good pie in a long time," Jon replied thinking about the apple pie he'd been eating when he saw the news that the Amendment had been ratified.
"Pie…" Stephen drew the word out dreamily.
"Up against the wall!"
At first Jon couldn't tell where the yelling was coming from. Suddenly he was propelled face first into a brick wall.
"It's him!" called the voices behind him. Jon could just see police blue out of the corner of his eye. His heart sank. Best case scenario: they'd get roughed up a bit. Worst case: they'd be recognized, and end up in a conversion camp some where. He tried to shrink into himself: small, insignificant, and unthreatening.
"This is the fag who killed Rojas," said one of the cops and Jon could see Stephen being pulled away from him and the wall.
"Stephen!" he cried and tried to push away from the wall. All he got for his trouble was a fist in the kidneys before he was shoved even harder into the wall.
"That your boyfriend, fag?" the cop asked. "You wanna watch?" The cop spun him around. "Watch!" The command was punctuated by a fist in the gut.
Stephen was on the ground, arms over his face, curled away from the four cops who were taking turns kicking him. Jon tried to lunge for him, to cover Stephen with his own body, but the cop had pinned him too well.
"You try that again, and I make sure your boyfriend gets a bullet between the eyes, you fucking cocksucker," said the cop and Jon froze in place, knowing that the cop would be good to his word.
One of the cops landed a solid kick to Stephen's knee and he started screaming. Jon could feel the blood draining out of his face and the bile rising in his throat. He didn't even dare say Stephen's name, instead he tried to lock eyes with him, to let Stephen know he was there, that he wasn't alone. It was hard, there was so much pain and blood on Stephen's face and half the time Stephen squeezed his eyes closed against the torment.
Please stop, please stop, please stop, were the only words running through Jon's head. He didn't move, not even when Stephen let out one keening, "Jon!" and feel silent. There was a chance, maybe Stephen was unconscious, and maybe he just couldn't scream anymore. He had thought the screaming was bad, but the silence, interrupted only by the grunts of the cops as they kicked his still body was far worse.
Finally they stopped, and the cop that was holding Jon left him with a parting shot to the head before letting him fall to his knees. He didn't move until the cops were out of sight, until he could hear them no longer. Then he crawled over to Stephen and pulled his head onto his lap.
"Stephen, Stephen," he called slightly above a whisper. He tried to remember his long ago first aide training. Look, listen, feel. He laid his cheek above Stephen's lips, but there was nothing, not breath, not warmth. He felt for a pulse under Stephen's chin, again: nothing.
Stephen's body was heavy and awkward. Jon could barely carry it. It, he thought to himself, not Stephen, just a body. Whatever had lit up this body's face, had spent its time trying to make Jon laugh, make Jon come, it was gone. Stephen was gone.
Jon didn't know what to do, so he carried Stephen's body back to the church. Where else could he go? If he took the body to the hospital he would probably end up under arrest. The church was not far away; Stephen hadn't gotten far before Jon had caught up to him. Jon kept walking, no matter how heavy his load, he couldn't leave Stephen's body on the side of the road somewhere. His back ached by the time the church came into sight and his knee was bleeding from where he tripped over a cracked sidewalk.
Jon made it into the sanctuary before falling again. Father Mark came running, followed by the alter boys who had been helping him clean.
"Go get Elizabeth, Kieran," he said to one of the boys, who was off like a shot.
"I didn't know what else to do," Jon said.
Father Mark reached up and felt for a pulse on Stephen's neck.
"He's dead," said Jon, his voice flat.
Elizabeth ran into the sanctuary, Kieran fast on her heels. She slid to a stop as the scene in front of her registered. "Stephen?"
"He's dead," Jon repeated.
Father Mark held Jon until he stopped shaking and loosened his hold on Stephen's body.
"Will you bury him and do Mass?" Jon pleaded, "He wanted that. Will you do it even though, you know, us?"
"Yes, of course," Father Mark said, "Stephen was a Catholic. We all sin, but he was a good Catholic, a good man. We'll say Mass for him tomorrow."
"Thank you," said Jon and he collapsed against Elizabeth, the last of his strength gone.
Elizabeth helped Jon prepare the body. They washed away the coppery blood that had dried into flakes on Stephen's skin. Washed away the mud in his hair, but nothing could wash away the loss. Jon cried silently through the entire task, but he didn't stop.
Jon couldn't understand the words Elizabeth whispered in Stephen's ear, but the rhythm suggested a benediction.
Father Mark offered one of his own suits to bury Stephen in, but Jon refused. He told Father Mark that they shouldn't bury something someone could use, but that wasn't it at all. Jon had fallen in love with Stephen, not his character and only the character wore suits. Instead, Jon picked Stephen's oldest jeans, worn white and soft in the knees, his Captain America t-shirt and his favorite red chucks.
Stephen lay in the coffin, a bit bruised but still looking as if he was just asleep after a particularly bad day. Jon kissed him and then stepped back to allow Elizabeth to close the coffin that would spend the night in the sanctuary.
Bile rose in Jon's throat; he motioned for them to stop. He grabbed Stephen's hands and held on. How could this be the last time he'd ever touch Stephen? It seemed so impossible, so horrific. Eventually, he relented and Father Mark pulled him away from the coffin, letting Elizabeth closed the lid.
He wanted to scream, to call Stephen back, but his voice was stuck in his throat and it was all he could do to breathe.
Jon had been to three funeral Masses since they came to St. Joan of Arc's, but this time he wasn't with Stephen, following him through the confusing choreography of mass. Instead he sat with Elizabeth who also had to watch the rest of the congregation to know when to stand.
Stephen's coffin was closed, covered in a green pall. The only reason he was able to give Stephen a coffin at all was because Father Mark and Elizabeth had acquired some through the black market and squirreled them away in the basement after Richard Taylor had died and no mortuary home would take a Catholic.
The funeral mass was long and solemn. Later he remembered very little of it, just the overwhelming rush of grief and anger and Elizabeth murmuring in his ear as they buried the coffin: "Ha-Makom y'nachem et'khem b'tokh sh'ar avelei Tziyon viyrushalayim."
Chapter 6: Coyote Lives Forever
Moving forward, moving on. Everyone does what they have to do to get by.
Anderson Cooper, ex-journalist turned anti-Christian terrorist, made the top of the FBI's most wanted list today. Cooper, widely rumored to be gay, is wanted for planning terrorist bombings in concert with CLUMSY and the Cedar Army as well as for providing weapons and explosives to countless other terrorists." -Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, 5 July 2014
Vermont has called for the Congress to form an Article V Convention to propose a 29th Amendment to the Constitution repealing the 28th Amendment. They have also called for the impeachment of both the President and Vice President. Sources say that certain individuals in the Vermont government are discussing secession if their demands are not met. -Shepard Smith, Fox News, 24 August 2014
"I'm coming with you," said Rachel.
"You have to stay here in case something goes wrong," said Anderson. "If I don't free Keith, or if we don't make it back, I need you to continue to agitate for the release of political prisoners."
"Anyone can talk to TV pundits. I want to come with you. You're going to need the help," Rachel insisted.
"Jeff is going to come with me, I need his plane. It can't be more than two of us," replied Anderson. "I promise," he said, looking her in the eye, "I'll bring him home."
Anderson left the Farm quietly. He had said goodbye the previous night after dinner, and left the house before dawn broke. He wasn't at all surprised to find Rachel waiting at the strip they used as a runway. Jeff was there too, already in the plane.
"Come back to us," Rachel said, engulfing him in a hug and pressing a kiss to his cheek. "I'll be waiting here when you get back."
Anderson nodded and climbed into the plane as Rachel watched. Jeff revved up the engine and Rachel waved in the cold morning air as the little plane trundled down the makeshift runway and finally sprung into the sunrise.
Anderson didn't recognize the man at all. Not until they were shaking hands and Jon looked at him and said, "It's me."
"Jon?" Anderson asked, stunned. The man might not look the same, but his voice was unmistakable. He looked over at Jeff and he looked as stunned as Anderson felt. He pulled Jon into a hug and was surprised when the other man tensed under his arms.
"Stephen is dead."
The sentence hung in the air, but Anderson did not let go of Jon. He looked so much older: his hair had gone totally grey and wrinkles lined his face. He might have pulled off the look if it wasn't for the aura of sadness that hung over him.
"I'm sorry," Anderson murmured as Jon got a hold of himself.
"Cops thought we were protesters. It was a couple of months back," said Jon.
They stood there together until Elizabeth ushered them into dinner where the third member of Anderson's ad hoc rescue committee was waiting.
"Cody," said Anderson with a smile. The newcomer shook all their hands as Anderson introduced him. "This is Cody Greer. He's going to help us rescue Keith," said Anderson. He'd known Cody for years and his ongoing employment at the FBI was the lynch pin of Anderson's plan.
"On our way back, we'll swing by and pick Jon up." Anderson turned to look at him, "You'll be over the border in no time."
"I'm not leaving," said Jon, shaking his head. "I need to be here."
"Are you sure?" asked Anderson, perplexed. "Come home with me. Rachel is there, and Steve. Half your cast and crew. They would want you to be safe."
"Stephen is here. I'm not leaving. End of story," said Jon.
Anderson had been a patient man; cautious even. It took him almost four years to develop a plan to rescue Keith. A plan that would meet Jeff's approval. One that was likely to actually get Keith out without leaving all of the rest of them dead.
His plan was foolproof. Twenty more minutes and former Agent Cody Greer would walk Keith right out the front door of ADX Florence. Twenty minutes and Keith would be free.
It was the longest twenty minutes of Anderson's life. Staying perfectly still, hoping his plan truly was as foolproof as he thought.
The minutes passed: ten, twenty, twenty-five.
Something was wrong. Anderson couldn't figure out what, but he knew. Then Cody ran straight past where Anderson and Jeff were waiting, dragging Keith behind him. The sound of gunfire, followed by a bullet lodging itself in his calf reinforced the idea. Anderson fell to his knees and Jeff stumbled beside him. Suddenly Jeff's head was gone and his body fell beside Anderson, blood and grey matter pooling around them.
He could see Keith looking back, trying to tug away from Cody as the agent pushed him into the van. Anderson knew nothing Keith could say would turn Cody around and he breathed a sigh of relief. He would gladly pay this price.
Anderson had known, intellectually, that capture was a possibility, but he'd thought that either success or death would be more likely outcomes. He'd fully expected the soldier to walk up to him and put a bullet in his brain. Instead he'd been cuffed and tossed in the back of a military truck. He wasn't sure what happened after that, he'd passed out from the pain and the blood loss.
Now he was in a dank prison cell. It was empty except for a stainless steel sink-toilet combo and a cement ledge Anderson assumed was supposed to be a bed. People came in and asked him questions, demanded answers, but he mostly ignored them.
Sometimes the questioners kicked him, hit him, but the violence was sporadic: more because his interrogators were angry that they couldn't get him to talk and less because they were trying to use pain to extract information. He wasn't sure why they weren't interested in his information. He'd braced himself for torture when he was captured but none was forth coming. Even now they must have wanted him more for his famous face then his brains.
He was just a face to flash up on the television, to say: look here, this is the scapegoat, the man who caused all your pain. Look at us take care of him so that he may never hurt you again.
"I'm your duly appointed public defender, Kyle Tallmadge," said the short, balding man in his cell. Anderson wondered how long he'd been there. He hadn't noticed the man enter. Tallmadge was the first person not to begin with a barrage of questions, so Anderson paid more attention than he normally would have to what the man was saying.
"A military tribunal will be hearing your case later this afternoon. You're charged with treason, terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism, sponsoring terrorism, conspiracy to corrupt America, and several lesser charges including sodomy," said the lawyer, and Anderson considered tuning him out again. "If they find you guilty, and they will, the sentence will be the death penalty."
They gave him a suit. Not as nice as his usual wardrobe, but it would do. They shackled him and then led him out of his cell and to the makeshift courtroom.
He could see from the hall that there were cameras in the courtroom. From the looks of it, they were recording now for a later broadcast. Probably to give them time to edit this sham of a trial into something that seemed damning. Anderson hoped his mother wouldn't see this, even though he knew there was no way to prevent it. He wished he could go home to her now.
Anderson took a deep breath and followed Tallmadge into the courtroom.
A teenaged boy looking professional in khakis and a polo looked up when Kieran O'Neill ushered Jon into the small front room. His lip ring caught Jon's attention as he looked Jon up and down before grabbing his walkie-talkie and saying in to it, "Someone is here to see you."
He nodded Jon and Kieran into seats to wait. It didn't look like a super secret Underground hideout. In fact it resembled the waiting room of a dentist office. Jon shook his head; he didn't know what he was expecting when he asked Kieran to bring him here, maybe a garage or a musty basement.
Kieran sat calmly, as self-possessed as any fifteen year old Jon had ever seen, while Jon sat and fidgeted. Kieran had lost three siblings to the Regime; before that he'd been a sophomore at the school. He'd helped Jon peel potatoes and tended the plants on the roof of the church too many times to count. He'd served at Stephen's funeral mass. Now he was going to help Jon get his revenge. It wasn't hard to figure who to ask; the CLUMSY kids had taken to wearing brown scapulars. Kieran had been the one to explain the Jon what those brown scraps of felt were.
It had been harder to convince Kieran to bring him in. He was old, the teen said with a wrinkled nose, and possibly crazy. Jon wasn't arguing with either descriptor: he did feel old and slightly crazy.
After waiting what seemed like an eternity, Jon was ushered into a back office.
"I'm Aaron," said the young man behind the desk. "If you really want to help, we'll take it. We need all the help we can get. Kieran vouched for you and we've all heard your story anyway."
"We'll start small and see how you do," said Aaron. "Deal?"
Jon's first job for CLUMSY was easy: he passed messages at the church. Just getting folded scraps of paper from one person to the next.
It was three weeks before Aaron would give him a real job. It was still just a messenger gig, but this time he had C4 instead of paper. It worked the same way: someone would come to the church for dinner, code and counter-code would be exchanged and Jon would hand over an extra doggy bag.
Jon wasn't sure how Father Mark would feel about CLUMSY running explosives through his church. He guessed it wouldn't be a positive response, so he never mentioned his new job to either Father Mark or Elizabeth.
Aaron was old, at least old by CLUMSY standards. He was twenty-five, and he wouldn't tell Jon his last name, just that he had been a grad student once in mechanical engineering, before the Amendment. He had a wife once too but she had died early on. Killed by a cop just for being Mormon, Aaron claimed.
Jon sat next to Aaron, letting the other man tell his story. Aaron had supported the Amendment, had welcomed it. He never expected it to turn him into a leader of teenagers, blowing up buildings, publishing compromising photographs, hacking public works and trying to force the government into returning his civil rights.
He had thought the 28th Amendment would bring God back into the public sphere, that school prayer would instill morality into children and save babies from dying. It never occurred to him that anyone would consider him un-orthodox, would discriminate against him for not being Christian enough. It had been a hard lesson for the young man to learn.
"This is a horrible job," Aaron said to Jon as they looked at surveillance photos for Jon's next job. "Awful. I've buried my wife, and I've buried these boys who tried to make a difference, and someday someone will bury me because of what I've done here."
He pushed a set of photos towards Jon. "These are the undercover cops that we know about that are staking out Jen Stryzinski. She makes the plates for our printing press. She's under so much surveillance right now that I can't send in anyone that we've used before and I can't make any promises that the cops won't arrest you anyway.
"If you get caught with them, well, let's say it won't be good to get caught with them," Aaron said. "You ready for this?"
Jon nodded. "I've buried too many people to give up now." He had shoveled dirt on to Stephen's coffin, burying him deep in the earth, never to walk it again. He could do nothing else for him except provide him vengeance.
"There's no giving up, just moving on. One foot in front of the other," replied Aaron. "You don't look like you belong to the Underground anyway; you're too old for CLUMSY and not punk enough for the Cedar Army."
Jon nodded. At least looking old had its advantages.
"What will you do when this is over?" he said as he stared at the photos.
"Over? I can't believe this will ever be over. As much as I long to throw down my weapons and return home, eat my mother's cooking, pray with my people for a better world, lay flowers on my wife's grave, I don't think I'll live to see that day." Aaron bent down and rifled through the photos, hiding the wetness of his eyes. "Try not to get caught. We need you."
Jon sighed. "Someday, this will all be over and I'll get to hold my kids again. I won't get caught."
Jon came back from the job battered and bruised, but alive. Aaron was there to welcome him and then drag him down to the basement to be debriefed. It was a long, drawn out meeting and when it was over Jon was even more exhausted.
"Sit, sit," said Aaron, who proceeded to hand him a bottle of beer. "I thought you might want one after all that."
Jon twisted the cap off. "To absent friends," he said, clinking his bottle of beer against Aaron's glass of lemonade.
"To absent friends."
He sat there in the silence with Aaron and thought about everything he had lost.
Kieran popped his head into the basement, interrupting the moment, "Someone's looking for you."
"Who?" asked Aaron, getting to his feet.
"Not for you, for him," said Kieran.
"Me?" asked Jon, startled. Besides Aaron and Kieran, very few people knew he did work for CLUMSY.
"Yeah, he looks pretty bad, you should come talk to him," replied Kieran.
Keith was waiting with Cody in the front: tired, bloody and gaunt. His eyes flicked back and forth, keeping track of exits and potential attacks. "Jon," he said too loudly.
"Keith," Jon replied, his voice breaking. "I thought you were in prison?"
"Anderson came and got me out. He was captured. I don't know where he is," said Keith, keeping his sentences short and his rhythm staccato. He looked lost and alone.
Jon brought Keith and Cody back to St. Joan of Arc's for dinner. Keith was eerily quiet through the meal, letting Cody explain what had happened and how Anderson had had backup plans for every contingency. Cody was planning on taking Keith north the next day and handing him over to the Canadian Underground at the border before returning to see if he could free Anderson.
"Come with me," said Keith, finally breaking his silence.
"I can't," said Jon. "I need to stay here and fight this."
"Fight from Canada." Keith looked down at his secondhand shoes. "I need… I'm going to need your help."
Jon looked at him. "Stephen…".
"I know. God, I know. He'll be safe here though and we'll continue the fight," said Keith.
Jon took a ragged breath. "Okay." He paused for a moment. "I'll go, but I need to say good-bye before we leave."
"Alright," said Keith.
Keith came with Jon to the little graveyard behind the church.
Jon knelt in the soil by the plain wooden cross that marked Stephen's grave and placed a pebble on the small pile of rocks he had left previously. He had made Father Mark promise to tend the grave for him now that he would not be able to.
"I never meant to leave you here."
Chapter 7: The Sea Can Only Move Forward
Desperation is almost as dangerous as planning.
Three more states ratified the 29th Amendment today: New Hampshire, Oregon and Washington. The 29th Amendment simply repeals the 28th Amendment.
Several other states are currently deliberating about the matter and Wisconsin is likely to vote to ratify tomorrow. As more and more states turn against the 28th Amendment and the new laws passed under its provision, the Huckabee Administration looks to be on shaky ground. -Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, 14 November 2014
New evidence was brought to light today in the Josiah Abbot case. Security footage proving Abbot was not in the state of Louisiana at the time of the Port of New Orleans bombing was released today. Abbot was in California at a charity run at the time of the New Orleans bombing. -Brit Hume, Fox News, 19 April 2015
President Huckabee is polling at all time lows. Fourteen percent of the American population believes that the President is doing a good job. -Bill O'Reilly, Fox News, 21 June, 2015
Canada is considering sanctions against the United States after several attempts to stop American retrieval squads have failed. These squads ignore national sovereignty and cross the border into Canada to retrieve former American citizens for illegal extradition and trial in the United States. -Peter Mansbridge, The National CBC, 7 October 2015.
"We interrupt this program to bring you the live confession of terrorist and enemy of the State, Anderson Cooper."
The television switched to Anderson and for a moment he was so still Jon thought it was a picture. The right side of his face was bruised and swollen and his lip had been split at some point and had only recently started to heal. He looked exhausted, on the verge of sobbing or screaming, Jon didn't know.
His voice, however, was remarkably calm, steady even. Keith leaned in closer, grazed his fingers across the screen.
"My name is Anderson Cooper." Keith flinched back when the words hit him.
"I plead guilty to treason, blasphemy, corrupting American morals, homosexual conduct and terrorism. I worked with the underground to subvert Americans as well as help criminals flee prosecution. I supplied the Catholic-Latter Day Saints Youth Resistance with explosive material, financed the printing of anti-American broadsides for the Cedar Army and engaged in sodomy." It was clear to Jon that he was reading from a teleprompter.
Anderson's eyes flicked to the left and his entire expression changed. It was as if he knew Keith was watching, as if he could lock eyes across the television one last time. "I regret nothing," he said and then the television cut back to a Fox anchor.
Jon noticed the crawl: "Federal Agent Cody Greer dies in conflict with domestic terrorists."
An hour later, Anderson was dead. Fox was reporting he'd asked for a firing squad, but the federal government had vetoed the idea and lethal injection it was. Keith watched the entire broadcast of the execution, leaked on YouTube thirty minutes after Anderson's last breath. Jon stopped him midway through the third go around and awkwardly patted his back as Keith stared mutely at the frozen screen.
The news of Anderson Cooper's execution was all anyone could cover and half of Canada wanted Rachel to come on their television show and talk about it. With more and more states voting to ratify the 29th Amendment, it looked like the basis of the Huckabee Regime would fall. The Regime's last desperate attempt at offering up a scapegoat to the American public hadn't worked, and the fact that they had circumvented the justice system in the process had only increased their unpopularity.
Rachel didn't care. Anderson was dead. Jeff was dead. Keith was missing. She'd watched the shaky footage over and over again, each time hoping for a different ending. Nothing ever changed. She'd gotten word out to everyone she could think of that she wanted any and all information pertaining to Keith, but not much was forthcoming. No one seemed to know where he'd disappeared to or even if he was still alive.
She'd sent Steve and Dan to be their representatives at Anderson's funeral. His body had been released to his mother who was burying him in France and vowing her own war on the men who had killed her son. Rachel had wanted to go too. She'd considered leaving Steve in charge and going herself to pay respect to a man she would have never expected to become so dear to her heart.
But with Anderson's capture and execution, Rachel had moved on to the FBI's Most Wanted list though Keith was first. And even though Rachel wouldn't have had to fly through American airspace, Steve and Dan were worried about her safety. With the more and more radical and unpredictable stunts the American government was implicated in, she'd agreed with them.
Dan and Steve returned from France the day after the funeral looking weary. The Farm was quiet and the first snowfall made the atmosphere even more contemplative. They sat on either side of her at dinner that night and she sat quietly in their combined warmth.
"He's coming," Dan said, barging into Rachel's office.
"What?" Rachel looked up from her computer.
"We just got word. Keith crossed the border with someone about two hours ago. Gerard is with them, he's bringing them here," said Dan.
It was as if the world paused and then jerked back into play. "He's here?"
"In maybe twenty minutes."
"Go tell Steve and see if we can get some guest rooms ready," she said and then headed off to spread the news and to make sure medical supplies were handy if needed.
Once everything was taken care of, Rachel waited on the front porch. She paced in front of the dormant flower beds, leaving a swath of trampled grass in her path.
It seemed like forever, but Gerard finally pulled up in front of Rachel's house. She let Gerard put the car in park and didn't move until the car was empty. Keith looked old; his hair had gone completely silver and his once imposing frame was now thin and worn. It took her a moment to realize the man next to him was Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart, who was dead, but apparently wasn't.
Rachel shook herself and rushed to embrace Keith, holding him tightly to her as if to keep him from disappearing again. "Oh, Keith," she said softly, her voice cracking mid word. She finally let him go and offered Jon a more tentative hug.
"You're a sight for sore eyes," he murmured into her shoulder, hoping that she was the sign their nightmare was over.
"We thought you were dead, we heard…" Rachel trailed off.
"Highly exaggerated," said Jon and then he fell quiet.
Keith had been on the Farm for two weeks and it still hurt Rachel to look at him. He was so skinny, so much less solid than the man she remembered. In the old days, the force of his personality could fill a room. These days, she sometimes overlooked him. His quietness was almost haunting.
Jon was less skittish, but still broken. He slowly told Rachel the story of the past few years in chunks. Some days he came and lay on her couch, talking as she pretended to work. When he had a funny or happy story to relate, he would wait until dinner and tell everyone.
He told her how Stephen died, one evening before dinner when she was working at the table and Steve was cooking. She never did get around to eating that night. Instead her heart was broken over and over and they sat and cried.
Keith didn't tell stories at all. Four years in solitary confinement was bad for anyone, but for a man who lived by words, the silence had been traumatic. Even the crowds of the Farm, which never numbered over fifty people, were too much for Keith. They put Jon on edge too, but too many people caused Keith to hyperventilate these days. Open sky did the same thing, and the Farm was almost all brilliant blue sky and empty, sullen fields.
Maybe things would have gotten better, but Anderson's death had been a hard blow to bear for Keith. He flinched away from everyone but Jon. This left Rachel to imagine worse and worse scenarios.
"He just needs time," Jon said, laying a hand on Rachel's shoulder. "He's getting better. It's just slow."
Rachel nodded. "I know."
Jon waited almost a week before he asked about his family, wondering why no one had volunteered the information.
"Jon," said Rachel quietly after she took him aside, "Tracey remarried about a year ago."
He nodded solemnly; after all he basically had as well.
"Yes, I think so," Rachel replied.
"We need to move you," Rachel whispered. The guest room wasn't quiet dark. Dan had installed a nightlight after Keith refused to sleep with the lights off in the beginning, so Jon could see Rachel's concerned face in the shadows.
"What, why?" asked Jon.
"American retrieval squad. Gerard thinks they're coming for Keith."
"Really?" Jon squeaked. "Fuck."
"Exactly," Rachel replied. "Gerard has a team. They're going to take both of you up north where no one will think to look for you."
Rachel woke Keith as Jon shoved their things into the two small duffle bags they'd carried over the border. He was hit with déjà vu. It was so like packing in Chicago, before everything had gone wrong.
Keith snapped awake. He went from sprawled across the bed to up and sitting as far away from Rachel as he could in less than ten seconds. Jon wondered where he'd gotten those reflexes, but now wasn't the time to ask.
Rachel accompanied them to the front door where Gerard was waiting with a car.
Keith surprised them all, when he pulled Rachel into a hug and said, "It will get better. We will come back."
Rachel stood in the early dawn light and watched until she couldn't see the car anymore.
Rachel's Underground helpers brought Jon and Keith to a cabin in the middle of Snowy-Nowhere, Canada.
Hiding in Canada was actually worse than hiding in the US had ever been. At least at home, they'd never been the sole target of a search and destroy mission. Not that Jon was really the target, but he was also unwilling to let Keith leave his sight.
The cabin was warm; almost cozy. It might almost have seemed like a vacation if it wasn't for Gerard and Andrew and the rest of the security detail Rachel had put together.
The forced confinement grated on Jon's nerves, but it almost seemed to calm Keith. He spent his time watching the snow fall through the window and reading the selection of local history books the owners had left behind.
He spoke with the security detail only rarely, letting Jon do most of his talking, but he seemed better than when they were at the Farm.
Jon found it disturbing to wake from a nightmare to the warm bed in the cabin. It startled him every single time, and this one was no exception. Exile had never been so comfortable. He longed for the drafty Chicago apartment that he'd left behind so long ago. He longed for Keith to speak with his usual passion and gusto. He longed to turn back the clock. He sighed. With thoughts like those, he wasn't going to make it back to sleep anytime soon.
He looked across the room: his nightmare hadn't woken Keith, who must have finally fallen asleep in the early hours of the morning. The warmth of his down comforter suddenly felt stifling. He threw it off, and hissed as the cold air hit his body. After a moment of acclimatizing, he headed for the kitchen. Andrew and Simon were playing cards at the table, and Gerard was asleep on the couch. He nodded at them before rooting through the refrigerator.
Milk in bags was just freaky, so Jon passed it up for the orange juice. He got the glass halfway to his lips and that was when the bullets started.
He had no idea what instinct led him to run toward Keith in the bedroom, but he did. The security boys were faster, and Simon had Keith up and out of bed before Jon even made it to the door.
They were huddled together in the kitchen pantry, heads just below the pancake mix. Andrew had shoved them in there, explained it was the most protected place in the house and then had left them in the dark. Jon could still hear the fighting outside. He knew people were dying. Dying to keep Keith free and safe. Jon didn't know if Keith even noticed, because he was to busy panicking over being thrown in a tiny, dark room. Jon wrapped himself tighter around Keith, whispering calming noises into his ear, hoping it helped. They had to stay still and quiet. Keith was shaking and Jon wondered what he would do if Keith started screaming.
Jon could feel the moment Keith started to hyperventilate; his chest rising and falling faster and faster.
"It's okay, it's okay, it's okay," he whispered as he held onto Keith tighter. He hoped his voice would block out the whirring noise of bullets and staccato screams coming from outside the door.
"Don't scream," Jon whispered as he felt Keith's chest tighten. "We have to be quiet. It's almost over; we just have to hang on for a few more minutes. You can do. I know you can do this, Keith."
Jon didn't know how long they went on like that; Keith clawing at Jon's shirt, rocking in helpless terror and Jon trying to keep him calm enough to avoid detection. He had never been so happy to see someone as when Simon opened that pantry door, bleeding slightly, but still alive.
In the end, they won, and none of the security detail died, which was nothing short of a miracle. The Mounties had arrived in the nick of time and rolled up all the American soldiers.
It did mean they had to be moved again. Keith was quiet during the drive, but he leaned into Jon's shoulder and finally fell asleep as they drove through the gently falling snow.
After the attack, Keith started talking more. Jon didn't know what exactly it was that being locked in a small dark space for almost two hours had done, but oddly it seemed to shake things free.
The new cabin was much the same as the old; a two-bedroom, log affair that reminded Jon of Abraham Lincoln and maple syrup. It had a little covered porch in the front and a swing that hung from two chains attached to the roof. Jon was dubious about its stability, but Keith seemed to find it relaxing.
Keith took to sitting on the swing most afternoons, letting the snow swirl under his feet. Jon joined him most days, wrapped in seven layers of thermal clothing with a blanket or two on top.
"I hate that we kept it a secret now," said Keith and Jon knew he was talking about Anderson.
"We were together for five years and before all this the only person who ever suspected was Rachel. I want people to know I loved him. That he loved me. That I'm now missing this part of me that I will never get back."
Keith paused, and set them swinging in the cold with his foot. "Why did he die for me?"
Rachel came to collect them herself.
"They tried to hit the Farm last week," she explained. "We were ready for them and the Mounties picked up another team. With the unrest in America, they're sure they won't try again."
She laid a hand on Keith's shoulder and he didn't flinch away. "It's safe to come back home now."
Keith and Jon blended back into life at the Farm. Rachel watched as Keith declared himself Steve's sous chef and the two of them bantered while making stir fry or hamburgers. Dan quickly learned to leave the crossword for Jon and Jon learned not to steal Dan's pens.
"Hey, Rachel, come taste this," Keith demanded one day as she sat doing paperwork at her kitchen table.
She came over and tasted the spaghetti sauce from the spoon he was holding out. "Too much basil not enough tarragon," she said, wrinkling her nose.
Keith laughed. "You're the only person I know who likes tarragon in their spaghetti sauce," he said and then pulled her into a hug.
She let her head relax against his shoulder while staring at the sauce. "I never thought of you as liking to cook."
"It's relaxing," Keith explained. "And it makes me feel useful," he added with a shrug.
She didn't say anything to Keith, but Rachel knew they would be okay now.
Rachel had her own sources and most of Anderson's knew and trusted her as well. Without them, Marc Wainwright would have never been delivered into her hands. He was the last piece of the plan, and with little difficulty she convinced him to go on television and lay out his involvement in the New Orleans bombing debacle.
The other part was harder. To do the most good, they had to get this information on the air in America. They had to find a trusted American reporter who would do the interview and could get it past the censors and on to the air. Their options were limited and when she found out who the Underground had gotten she almost had a heart attack.
Bill O'Reilly was sitting on her front porch looking haggard. "I'm sorry for your loss," were the first words out of his mouth, and Rachel was stunned by the sincerity behind those words.
It wasn't that Rachel didn't trust her contacts; it was the idea that Bill O'Reilly had traded sides that was so incomprehensible.
She wondered what had happened to him, because it was clear something had changed the man. She never did find out what.
Rachel didn't tell Keith about O'Reilly until he was gone. Jon and Steve spent those two days distracting Keith and making sure the two never met. As much as Rachel knew O'Reilly had changed, she could tell Jon was dubious and everyone agreed letting O'Reilly and Keith meet would be a bad idea.
Rachel was sure Keith was suspicious, but they managed to keep him away from the conference room where O'Reilly was interviewing Marc Wainwright. To everyone's surprise, when he did find out about the whole plan, and Bill O'Reilly's involvement in it, his only comment was, "Okay."
It took less than three months for the whole thing to fall apart. Bill O'Reilly got Marc Wainwright's interview on the air, past censors and angry producers and followed up with all the evidence Anderson had collected. After that more and more evidence poured forth, all of it damning from such a trusted face.
"I have never in my entire life though I would want to thank Bill O'Reilly for something. But for this, this, I will change my mind," said Keith.
Rachel, Jon, Keith, Steve, Dan and almost every other person on the Farm gathered around the television in the conference room.
"I did it to save America," said Huckabee from the television screen. "To bring this country back into God's protection, to bring righteousness to the land, and make it so everyone could truly say that God blesses America.
"While many people may not agree with my actions and while I admit that I and my staff broke the law, I still stand behind my decisions. In light of the impeachment charges brought before Congress yesterday, I have chosen to resign from the Presidency of the United States."
Steve turned to Rachel and enveloped her in a hug. Over the cheers around him, she could just hear him say, "I think it's really over now."
Chapter 8: The Lives and Times of Jon Stewart and Keith Olbermann
Words have power.
With both President Huckabee and Vice President Palin's resignations, Speaker of the House, Nathan Green (D-ID), was sworn into office today at 9 am. The Speaker is in favor of the 29th Amendment to repeal the 28th Amendment, but has announced he will not seek re-election and will instead be endorsing Jim Miller (D) for President. -Dan Mackenzie, Fox News, 3 May 2016.
Indiana became the necessary vote to ratify the 29th Amendment today. The Supreme Court is readying itself to hear almost thirty cases in which the nullification of the 28th Amendment will most likely make current legislation unconstitutional. -Anna Wilshire, Fox News, 23 June 2016
Senator James William Miller (D-NC) won the Presidential election last night with 325 electoral votes. Miller, who led the push for the ratification of the 29th Amendment in North Carolina, ran on a platform of reclaiming America's glory and promises to step up protection of the Bill of Rights. -Carson Matheson, Fox News, 2 November 2016
Keith Olbermann, former political pundit, and Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show, testified before Congress today. Both gave testimony under a grant of immunity and told the committee about the hardships and civil rights violations they faced under the Huckabee Regime. Congress will continue to hear testimony for another week before voting on whether or not to repeal several laws only made constitutional by the 28th Amendment and the possibility of reparations to its victims. The House of Representatives has heard over a thousand hours of testimony about the 28th Amendment. -Don Dabinot, CNN, 18 Feb 2017
Asked for comments after testifying before Congress, Jon Stewart said, "I think that by passing the 29th Amendment, America has proved the system can work. It's slow and can be cumbersome, but eventually it can self correct. The price we paid in blood was too high, though." -CNN, 26 Feb 2017
REPORTER: I'm Carrie Harper and with me today are Keith Olbermann and Jon Stewart, co-writers of The Lives and Times of Stephen T. Colbert and Anderson H. Cooper. I want to thank you two for being here and speaking with me. When you started writing "Lives and Times" did you expect it to be such a critical success as it was?
JON STEWART: No.
KEITH OLBERMANN: No.
JS: I wasn't even sure we'd ever be able to find a publisher for it.
KO: I wasn't sure we'd ever actually finish it!
R: You had troubles writing together?
JS: We'd both written books before.
KO: Though everyone seems to have forgotten that now. I keep seeing articles where "Lives and Times" is listed as my first book. It's strangely Orwellian, like there was nothing before Huckabee.
JS: Me too. And I'd written with an entire team behind me last time. So writing with just Keith, not that Keith isn't brilliant, but writing with just one other person was a new experience for me.
R: So, was the book your idea, Jon?
JS: No, no. This was all Keith's idea. I just thought it was a good idea and hopped on board.
R: How did he entice you?
JS: He said, "This needs to be written," and I thought about it, and I agreed. Then we started writing. There may have been pancakes involved, I'm not sure.
R: Several critics suggested that you should have gone for a flashier title.
JS: We argued for weeks about the title.
KO: We did. Jon thought it was boring and I said it was accurate.
JS: And then I suggested it was both boring and accurate. Keith agreed, but the title stuck anyhow.
R: I've heard the two of you are learning Hebrew?
JS: We are.
KO: I want to be able to order coffee and get actual coffee.
JS: Our neighbors think this is hilarious. We've been using them to practice on.
KO: When we first got to Haifa, neither of us spoke any Hebrew, unless you count what Jon learned for his bar mitzvah and let's not.
JS: Please, let's not.
KO: And the information network in our apartment building is better than anything the KGB ever had in its heyday. We were there less than a week before the old ladies figured out we must have been recent American refugees and started bringing us challah and kugel. Mrs. Daz makes a mean kugel. They come over and speak Hebrew at us and we'd smile and nod.
R: So they supported your refugee status?
JS: Very much so. We weren't the first refugees in the building either. We also had a professor from Texas...
KO: .. Texas A&M...
JS: Right, Josh was from Texas A&M. Anyway, he'd come over right before the borders closed with his daughter to visit his sister in Haifa. He couldn't go back to his wife, who eventually died in one of the academic purges. He had these dogs, and he'd drag me out to the park and let the dogs play. I think it was just to get me out of the house. Keith had become a nomad, wandering the streets, and I'd become a recluse, unwilling to leave the four walls of our apartment.
KO: I was wandering a lot those days. Jon wanted extra locks on our doors and I was okay with that as long as he didn't actually lock any of them. We had totally different reactions to leaving the war zone. Of course, I couldn't go in coffee shops, too many people, so I just walked. We were the crazy Americans, but our neighbors really supported us.
JS: And used us for English practice. Mrs. Daz would bring over kugel and it would be a signal for all the kids to come and try out their new English phrases.
KO: Yeah, I think the first thing Jon taught them all was 'Settle down!' I bet their parents really loved that.
R: Was it hard to adapt to Israel at first?
JS: Of course.
JS: It wasn't just Israel though. It was this entire change from being in hiding, from running for your life, back to reality. It took a long time before I could walk in a room without cataloging all the exits and sitting with my back to the wall so I could see everything.
KO: He still does that.
JS: Yeah, yeah, you're right. I do. It saved my life a couple times, before.
KO: I know. My nervous ticks are totally different from Jon's, but I still have them.
R: Do you miss television?
JS: I miss the audience. The energy they gave off right before the show started. I miss getting to hear people laugh at my jokes in real time.
KO: I refuse to be used as a live in substitute for a live audience, but every once in a while Jon gets a laugh out of me.
R: Keith, when did you first meet Anderson Cooper?
KO: We'd met several times before we were introduced, and it was even longer before we actually became friends. We'd done some baseball reporting, just the stuff that happens when you both live in New York and work in media. We were both friends with Jon and Stephen [Colbert] and they started dragging us out to lunch during the '04 election. Mostly just to vent.
One day, they didn't show up. They got distracted by something, they were always getting distracted. Anyway, Anderson and I waited, and they never showed. It all went from there.
JS: It was actually all a plan to set them up. It was Stephen's idea. He though they'd either kill each other or fall in love, and either way it'd be spectacular to watch. Stephen always liked playing yenta.
R: Unlike many other people of the time, Keith, the two of you were not out in the open with your relationship, why?
KO: We were working at rival news agencies and Anderson always believed private lives should remain private. I think because so much of his life was lived out in the public eye that privacy was such a big deal with him.
R: Why didn't you leave the country when your friends and colleagues Rachel Maddow and Dan Abrams did? Was it so different not being out at the time?
KO: It was. We were really good at not getting caught, not letting on. I mean, Anderson knew he'd have to leave eventually if things kept going on as they were going, since basically everyone assumed he was gay. No one but Rachel ever assumed he was with me. Plus, at the time, no one thought it was going to be as bad as it got.
JS: There was a lot of 'if we stay and fight, we'll win because we're right' going on. I really believed it. I always believed in standing up and fighting. If it hadn't been for Stephen, I probably would've spent the Huckabee Regime in a cell next to Keith.
R: But eventually you decided that the US wasn't safe enough anymore.
KO: Right. Anderson found out in advance that the borders were going to close. People would just tell him things like that. Though the information we got was that they were going to close it Friday night and the borders were actually closed the Thursday before. We were planning to get out. I'd drive over with Erica [Hill] and Anderson was planning on filming his own border crossing. He always did crazy things like that. He was never afraid of getting caught.
R: But it didn't go as planned. You ended up spending four years in ADMAX Florence?
KO: Almost five years. I was put in the supermax block; 23 hours of solitary confinement, 1 hour of exercise a day. I never saw anyone else, except when they let Amnesty International in to prove they weren't torturing me or anything. They said they were afraid someone would try and kill me, but I think they were more worried that I would talk to people. Or maybe run the entire Underground from my cell.
Instead, I spent a lot of time thinking. About my life, about Anderson, about all the decisions I made in my life. When I was a child all I wanted to do when I grew up was be a sports announcer. I never imagined I'd end up as a political prisoner.
R: Is that why you decided to write again?
KO: I decided to write again because I needed something to do. I was going to write about sports, get back to my roots. I couldn't write anything. I needed to write about the past before I could write about the present.
R: Jon, you spent the Huckabee Regime working with the Underground. Did that have any influence on your decision to write again?
JS: There comes a point after living through something like that where you either hire a really expensive therapist or you write a book. So I wrote.
R: How did you end up in Israel? Keith, you aren't Jewish, correct?
KO: Correct. I was raised Unitarian Universalist. They're mostly gone now, or at least gone from America. Anyway, when Jon and I went to the US to testify the Israeli Ambassador, Orli Weiss, offered us a chance to emigrate. Not a lot of people know this, but Jon was against the idea. He wanted to stay in Canada with Rachel and Steve [Carell] and Dan [Abrams]. I needed to get away. I needed a fresh start, so Jon and I talked and we decided to take her up on her offer.
JS: I am Jewish, and I was the one who wanted to stay in Canada. In the end, however, Keith was right. We needed a fresh start.
REPORTER: I'm here with Rachel Maddow, head of the Center for American Refugees and contributor to the CBC. Hi, Rachel!
RACHEL MADDOW: Hi!
R: Why the Center?
RM: When I first came to Canada we didn't know how bad it was going to get. Dan Abrams and I crossed the border together the day the Amendment passed. I was out and it didn't seem prudent to stay. Within weeks the borders closed and Canada was dealing with an influx of American refugees. Dan and I had the knowledge and ability to help them and they needed our help, so we did.
R: Every year you go to Israel for two months?
RM: I do. Keith [Olbermann] and Jon [Stewart] relocated there after the trials and I go and visit them, as well as several other American refugees I know who ended up in Israel. When Huckabee 'suggested' that Jews should return to Israel, many of them did. Israel was willing to let them emigrate and it got them out of the United States which had become more and more hostile.
R: Keith Olbermann started your television career.
RM: In many ways he did. I owe him a lot, professionally and personally. He is my friend before anything else, and most of the work I did agitating for the release of political prisoners during the Huckabee Regime was because he was imprisoned in Colorado.
R: In the book he co-wrote with Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann talks about your friendship and your involvement with the Underground.
RM: I was involved with the Underground movement. Anderson Cooper came up to the farmland Dan [Abrams] and I had bought after he escaped over the border and wanted to fight back. Now, you have to understand, Anderson Cooper was one of the strongest willed individuals who I ever met. You didn't notice it up front, but suddenly you just found yourself doing whatever he wanted. Not because he wanted you to do it, but because it was the right thing to do.
R: And Anderson wanted to start a resistance movement?
RM: Anderson wanted to free Keith. I'm not sure his plans went much further than that at first. Before the border closed, there'd been rumors and warnings. A lot of people who had nowhere else to go ended up at the farm. So when Anderson started talking about fighting back he had this ready made corps of highly committed and creative people who wanted to fight back to. Most of our infrastructure sprang up before Anderson had really thought about what he wanted to do. We had a large percentage of the cast and crew of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report living with us and they set up a newspaper. At first, it was more in the style of The Onion and was just something for them to do. And then it became one of the best ways we had to get news out to people in the Underground.
We also had about twenty interns living there, who had gotten separated from their families. You should never underestimate teenagers and college students. They were amazing. Without them, we would have folded in the first month. And Dan set up the legal department and got us almost fifty volunteer lawyers to work with the refugees. Steve Carell took over all our fundraising. He was amazing.
Anderson had no idea that when he said he wanted to fight back, all these things would spring up over night, but they did. We all wanted to make a difference.
R: You were instrumental in the release of imprisoned people's frozen assets after the 29th Amendment was passed.
RM: I was. Keith and Jon wouldn't have cared, but so many people needed help making themselves a new life, and it seemed like after all the things they'd gone through, they deserved their own money back. I didn't lose anything; I'd been all set to leave as soon as the Amendment passed, but most people didn't think anything like that could happen. Most of them weren't in any position to advocate for themselves, so I got some people together and we went to work.
R: Rumors circulated that you helped CLUMSY orchestrate bombings in the United States.
RM: I think those mostly come from the charges Anderson pled not guilty to before his execution. I never had anything to do with explosives and I don't think Anderson did either. I can't say that Anderson didn't for certain, but I suspect it was just another way of scapegoating him.
R: Now that the 28th Amendment has been revoked, do you think you'll ever return to America?
RM: I thought long and hard about this. I am proud that the system eventually worked. That through the amendment process the United States was able to change the Constitution without an all out war. I, however, lost so many people... Anderson, Jeff... so many people died who should not have. People died in front of the front doors of the place were I worked, the place where I lived. How can you go back to that? I could go back, they offered me my citizenship, but I can't.
R: You've become one of the most famous faces associated with resistance against the Huckabee Regime. How do you feel about that?
RM: It's a little bit crazy to me. People stop me in the street and want to hug me. That's never happened to me before.
R: And that's Rachel Maddow, head of the Center for American Refugees. Rachel will be at McGill University tonight at 7 pm for a panel on American refugees. Thank you, Rachel.
RM: Thank you.
"Jon Stewart returned to the United States for the first time since he testified in front of Congress in 2017. Stewart came with long time writing partner, Keith Olbermann, to promote his new solo-effort Mayday, which covers his experiences working with the Underground as well as Olbermann's own solo-effort Stolen Voices.
"Stephen always said when he came on stage his goal was to make me laugh. And he did. He could make me laugh no matter how bad things got. He's the reason I didn't just stop and give up, the reason I continued to fight," read Stewart at their first stop on the book reading tour in New York. "After Stephen died, I thought I would never be funny again."
"Words have power: I've never forgotten that," Stewart said. "When we were living in Chicago, we had basically no money. We were working on this underground radio show, trying to keep busy and keep warm. Our building had heating, but it was drafty and any time it was about 60 degrees was a good day. We wore gloves all the time: you should try working a laptop with gloves on. But our words got out. We talked, not just because it was the only option that we had open to us, but because words had always been our life blood."
When asked how it felt to be back in America, Olbermann said: "It was like being in a ghost town, except I was the ghost. We went to the memorial at 30 Rock, where all the protesters had been killed. Once, I had walked that ground every day. "
Stewart, who recently reconnected with his family who escaped before the borders closed, pointed out a park. "I used to take my son to play there. Now it'll be remembered as the place Elaine Czerny was lynched."
Olbermann replied, "Everywhere we've been, all those places we used to love, someone died or was hurt there. It's almost impossible to conceive. Sometimes I just have to look away. There were places who asked us to come and read, and we had to turn them down. I couldn't go back to Colorado. Not even the other side of the state. Every time I thought about it, I saw Anderson."
The last stop on the book tour was Indianapolis where Stewart spent his last years in America. His lover, Stephen Colbert, is buried in the St. Joan of Arc Cemetery, and Stewart and Olbermann visited the grave. A permanent headstone was installed just this year. Stewart commented: "When he was buried, we had no way of giving him a headstone. One of the men who went to the church we were living in made a wooden cross for his grave with his initials. I couldn't even put his name on the temporary marker, for fear something would happen to his body."
"Tonight I have with me Jon Stewart, author of The Lives and Times of Stephen T. Colbert and Anderson H. Cooper. His latest book, Return will be available in bookstores tomorrow. Thank you for being here with us, Jon," said the reporter as he smiled to the camera.
"Thank you," Jon said with a laugh. "It's odd being on this side of the desk, even after so long."
"That's right, before Huckabee you had a television program in America."
"It always surprises me that people don't remember The Daily Show. For a long time, I thought that was what I'd be remembered for," Jon said.
"You and your co-writer, Keith Olbermann, are one of the few people who lived through the time in America and are willing to talk about it. Maybe the dramatics of your story overwhelm the rest of your history."
Jon nodded. "I'll concede the point."
"Why did you decide to write about your time in America in The Lives and Times of Stephen T. Colbert and Anderson H. Cooper and Mayday?
"Actually, it was Keith's, Keith Olbermann, suggestion. He'd been trying to get back into the swing of sports writing and it wasn't working for him. When he brought me the idea for The Lives and Times I jumped on it," Jon answered.
"So it was a cathartic experience?"
"Yes, on many levels. Keith and I lost so many people. Stephen and Anderson, as well as other friends and relatives and coworkers. We lost our country. And we thought they needed to be remembered. Especially now that America is trying to rebuild, it needs to be reminded of its essential character. Father Mark Kowalski once told me, 'People never die when they live in our hearts,' and we want Stephen and Anderson and America and every single person who gave up their lives to help get our country back to live on in as many hearts as possible." Jon took a sip of water and waited for the next question.
"Many people were surprised when both you and Mr. Olbermann came out."
Jon nodded. "We decided that we couldn't tell a true story without getting that out of the way. The Lives and Times of Stephen T. Colbert and Anderson H. Cooper is all about our relationship with two of the greatest men I have ever known. It would be a disservice to them to lie about the extent of our affection for one another."
"What sort of lasting effect do you hope The Lives and Times of Stephen T. Colbert and Anderson H. Cooper will have?"
"A hundred years from now, some young kid will stumble across it in the dusty reaches of the internet, or whatever is passing for the internet those days, and read it. And maybe, they'll think about the world they live and go do something to make it a better place," said Jon.
"Do you ever regret the things you did back then?" asked the reporter.
"Some things I wish I hadn't done, hadn't had to do, had never been forced into a situation where it was necessary for me to do them," said Jon. "Some things I did out of grief, which in retrospect maybe I could have done differently."
Jon paused, looked the reporter in the eye and said, "I never regretted Stephen, though. Never."
"Thank you. That was Jon Stewart, author, television host and survivor."
REPORTER: Last week rumors were widely circulated that you [Keith Olbermann] and Jon Stewart were romantically involved, would you like to comment?
KO: We're not.
JS: It would be hilarious if we were. Rachel [Maddow] would get a kick out of it.
KO: I'm not sleeping with you just to make Rachel laugh.
JS: Are you sure?
Keith Olbermann suffered a heart attack last night and was pronounced dead on the scene after returning home from a reading of his latest book No Freedom in Silence at the University of Haifa last night.
At the reading, Olbermann talked about his time as a political pundit and sports reporter in a pre-Huckabee America. "One of the thing I miss the most is talking about baseball and [American gridiron] football. Politics is one thing, but sports were my first love and still are. There's nothing like getting to be the person who says on national television, 'The Cubs have won the World Series after a 110 year losing streak.'
A memoir of his time as a political prisoner under the Huckabee Regime, No Freedom in Silence, came out on bookshelves last Tuesday. Olbermann was incarcerated from 2009 to 2014 as a political prisoner of the Huckabee Regime to which his doctors attributed his declining health in recent years.
Today was the funeral of writer, comedian and activist Jon Stewart, born Jonathan Stuart Lebowitz. Stewart, 76, died of a stroke Thursday in his apartment in Haifa, Israel. While most famous for his written work, before the American Diaspora Stewart hosted a political comedy show: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He was also the executive producer of another political comedy show, The Colbert Report, which starred his good friend and eventual lover, Stephen Colbert. Stewart went into hiding under threat of arrest and possible execution after being called upon to testify in front of the American Congressional Committee on Media Corruption. During his time in hiding, he worked with the American underground as part of their underground newspaper and radio station. He eventually was smuggled into Canada with Keith Olbermann after the beating death of Colbert in 2014.
Stewart returned to America just once more, in 2017 during the Congressional hearings to revoke the 28th amendment. He testified to the atrocities he witnessed during the Huckabee regime. Along with Olbermann, he then immigrated to Israel. The two co-wrote The Lives and Times of Stephen T. Colbert and Anderson H. Cooper, which quickly became a bestseller in twenty-two languages. Stewart went on to write eleven more books as well as three co-written books with Olbermann. Olbermann died last year of a heart attack in the apartment he and Stewart shared for nineteen years.
Stewart was reunited with his children, Nate and Maggie, after his move to Israel. He also left behind a grandson and namesake, Jonathan. On the bequest of his ex-wife, Tracey, his body will be buried next to Stephen Colbert in the St. Joan of Arc Cemetery in Indianapolis, IN. In lieu of flowers, donations are being accepted for the American Refugee Assistance Center.