Monday, July 6, 2020
Quest: The Beating-Heart of Capiche
If there was one place that qualified as “the beating heart of Capiche”, it was Gabby’s Pub.
If you wanted to catch up on the latest gossip, Gabby’s Pub was the place to go.
If you wanted to find some friends to hash out the latest issues, again, Gabby’s Pub was the place to go.
Need a quiet back-room away from home to discuss private matters? Gabby had them.
So it should come as no surprise that Gabby was one of the best informed people in Capiche. She valued that distinction and she protected it. One of the quickest ways to kill trust is to blab. It turned out that Gabby was not so gabby. What you told her in confidence stayed a secret.
Gabby had three customers that were not regulars. They were young ladies and they did not seem to be celebrating, the usual reason three young women would show up together. Rather, they seemed to be planning but it was not going well.
Gabby decided it was time to sit in the fourth chair. She told Guillermo to tend the bar and the dining room while she checked something out.
Sitting down, Gabby asked “What’s up?”
Gabby was about five years older than the oldest of the three women. Young enough to be a peer. Enough older to seem wise.
“Men can be SOOO stupid” Tikka lamented. If there is one statement that is guaranteed to NOT not start an argument among young women, it is that one.
Tikka was the youngest of the three.
“What’s going on?” Gabby repeated.
“We have boyfriends in the Buffer-Zone. Good boyfriends” MacKenzie said. “The brass promised them land but now they are dragging their feet.”
Ashleigh piped up “They are holding a lottery every week. At the rate things are going, the last of us is likely to get property in the middle of the summer. That is, if we get invaded like everybody thinks.”
Gabby let them vent. It takes time to develop property. It takes time to put in crops. Some crops want to go in May first, a scant five weeks away while others can be planted later. The thing was, many couples would lose the better part of a year if they couldn’t take possession of the property they chose until July.
Gabby said “Hold the phone. Complaining never solved anything. I got guys who sit at that bar every night and solve the same problems over, and over and over again.”
“We gotta write this down.” And Gabby, being Gabby, pulled a spiral memo book that she had been carrying in the small of her back and held in place by her belt and the strings of her apron. She really was a planning machine.
Gabby started writing things down. She would recite what she was about to write and the women made minor corrections before she committed it to paper.
After she had jotted down about fifteen things, she stared at them for about a minute. Glancing around, Gabby saw the glasses were empty. Gabby held up her hand and Guillermo came over. “My tab” Gabby said, and then she pointed at the glasses.
Gabby stared at the punch list for another minute while “Bill” got another round of drinks for the ladies.
“You know that Dysen is my cousin, right?” Gabby asked.
Tikka asked in a stage whisper “Who is Dysen?”
Gabby heard and replied. “That would be Mrs. General Quinn Spackle to you.”
“I have a little bit of back-door information from her” Gabby said. “General Spackle is responsible for not only the troops under his command but to the people west of the buffer zone.”
The ladies started to talk over Gabby. Gabby held her her hand. Gabby had presence. They stopped talking.
“Nothing is going to happen if we cannot come up with a way to put General Spackle’s mind at-ease that his fighters will not be distracted from their primary job” Gabby said.
“So our job is to come up with a plan that A.) Makes the lottery happen much sooner and B.) Guarantees that the fighters won’t be distracted...at least in a bad way.”
“Let’s see if we can flesh-out a plan that will do exactly that” Gabby said. “A big part of selling this to General Spackle will be finding our finding other resources so we won’t be pulling your guys, the Generals fighters, out of the line for every little thing.”
That is when she got on the radio and asked if her sister and brother-in-law Milo were available to meet with her at the Pub. She also called John Wilder and inquired as to his availability. All three were willing to make an impromptu trip to Gabby's Pub. When she called, she invariably 'comped' the drinks and a meal.
Two days later, Guillremo and Milo were waiting for General Spackle. They had a meeting scheduled with him.
If there was one thing Quinn Spackle hated, it was people from Capiche wanting to have a meeting with him. It stank of Headquarters dumping more work on the idiots with the target on their back.
Consequently, Quinn was late by fifteen minutes. A small part of his brain hoped that they would leave, but it was an ill-founded hope.
“What can I do for you?” Quinn asked. His voice conveyed that he didn’t have many resources to spare.
Gabby, as she had grown and became more mature, realized there were times when it was best if she stepped back into the shadows and to let others carry the torch. Her every instinct told her that this was a “guy thing” and her presence would likely poison the punch-bowl.
Milo led off. “We have a plan we want to float by you.”
“Fair enough” Quinn agreed.
“We propose that you pull the property lotteries ahead but only if certain conditions are met” Milo said.
Quinn was immediately on guard. The last thing he needed was for his fighters to lose their edge and get distracted. He needed fighters, not sod-busters.
“What conditions” Quinn asked.
“The first condition is that each fighter designate a farm manager to operate the property while they are not available” Milo said. "They must give their farm manager absolute authority to make decisions."
Sliding a form across the top of the picnic table Milo said “This is the contract that John Wilder gave to Moe Pockets. Both parties sign and it is witnessed.”
Quinn sped read it. “May I keep this?” he asked.
“Please do” Milo said.
“What are the other conditions?” Quinn asked.
Milo shuffled his feet a little bit. “We kind of thought this through from your perspective. Farming is labor intensive, especially if they don’t have equipment. You cannot afford to give up the labor so Bill and I came to an agreement. I am willing to supply the equipment and Bill is willing to donate the labor to disk-up a half-acre garden for each property if they have the title and a designated manager.”
“And you think my fighters will be able to find farm managers?” Quinn said.
Guillarmo pulled out a sheaf of about twenty addressed envelopes. “Yes we do.”
Each letter was addressed to a boyfriend. It contained a signed (by the girlfriend) contract offering to be the fighter’s farm manager ‘for the duration’. It also included a list of three properties that she considered acceptable.
Quinn said “Let me think about it.”