Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Remnant: Charm School

Men in the construction trades know that things must be done in a certain order or chaos results.

You cannot paint before you have done the mud-work on the drywall. You cannot put up drywall before you have a roof or before you have pulled the electrical wire and so on.

Hermes Aiello and Pastor Morales had both worked in construction. They had two problems. They had been picking families to evacuate based on relationships and leverage to keep mouths shut. The problem was that relationships grow exponentially and word was getting out about the evacuation. While the number of people who were in-the-know was growing exponentially Aiello and Morales's ability to evacuate had flat-lined at thirty per night.

The monkeys no longer wanted to come out of the barrel one-at-a-time.

The second problem was that the next sets of families in the logical progression had infants and toddlers. The problem was not physically moving them, it was keeping them quiet while waiting to make the dash.

They only needed one baby to squawk at the wrong time to gut the whole plan and poison the evacuation.

They decided to get Carmen involved. She was their boots-on-the-ground and had the most intimate knowledge of the terrain. Maybe she had some ideas.

Carmen had one idea but she was not ready to share it. All she told Pastor Morales was “Send the usual thirty tonight but have your list ready. I will tell you how many.”

Carmen had always known it was going to come to this. She had been able to space it. Denial is a lovely thing. It lets us believe that today does not have to change because there will always be another tomorrow.

Carmen was a little bit more subdued that night. By now, Louisa and Carmen were very attuned to each other. Louisa sensed something was bothering Carmen and she picked up the slack.

With Louisa filling the role of Carmen’s whirling dervish, Carmen was able to have a few private words with Steven (never Steve). That was an event that Steven had been looking forward to.

In fact, every man was wound so tight by exposure to Carmen they were in danger of going blind.

Carmen said in a low-pitched voice meant only for Steven “I need to ask a favor.”

“What is it?” he asked.

“I have some friends on that side of the line” she said, pointing with a glance toward Lansing. “I need to have them come to this side.”

Steven appraised his bargaining position.

“I can make that happen” Steven said. He knew that she knew. “But it is going to cost you.”

Carmen slowly lifted her eyes to look at Steven’s face in the flickering light of the fire. “Name your price.”

“Good Lord!” Steven thought. "She is so tiny!" She seemed so much bigger when she dominated the space around the fire.

“You have to sleep with me” Steven said.

Carmen exhaled.

Steven knew he had won.

“You have to sleep with me every night for a week” Steven repeated. Both understood that Steven’s night was actually during the day.

Carmen countered. “If I am sleeping with you for a week then my friends can cross over all seven nights.”

Steven thought about that for a heart-beat. He could see some major problems with that proposal.

“I agree but on one condition” Steve said.

“What is the condition?” Carmen said.

“My men need comfort, too” Steven said.

Carmen flared like an angry cat. “I WILL not sleep with the entire camp! The deal is OFF!”

Carmen was the offspring of Aztec warriors and Conquistadors. She might make accommodations but she still had her honor.

The other thing about Carmen is that she was not as experienced, sexually, as Steven assumed. In fact, she had been with fewer men than most college graduates. Again, Latina honor. Carmen found the idea of being the camp whore...repulsive.

“But you have friends” Steven said. “Surely they would be willing to sleep with my men”

Carmen’s mind was racing a million miles an hour. She didn’t know everybody in Fabulous Acres but she knew a fair number.

Their personalities ran the gamut from intensely shy to, well, skanks.

Carmen capitulated. “I might be able to make that happen” she admitted.

“But there are some conditions” she added.

Steven stiffened. “What?”

“Your men. They stink. They need to wash their clothes and take baths” Carmen informed him.

Steven had to smile in spite of himself. He had noticed the same thing. Now he had a great reason to encourage them to look after their hygiene.

“Anything else?” Steven asked.

“They don’t know how to talk to ladies, at least not the way ladies expect to be talked to when the men are making time. They need lessons” Carmen said.

Steven was clueless. “Where would they get lessons?” he asked.

“From me. Tonight” Carmen said.

“So you will be sleeping with me tonight” Steven asked.

“No, sorry. I have to arrange things after I leave. But tomorrow night. Yes, tomorrow night we will start” Carmen promised.

It could have been worse. Far worse, in fact. Steven "asked" when he could have taken. He kept his men in line. Yes, it could have been much, much worse.

And that is when Carmen and Louisa’s visit turned strange. Carmen opened her Charm School and gave the awkward, young men a crash course on how to flirt with women.

They were the basest of clay but they were young and malleable. They also adored Carmen and as word made its way around the group of men that Carmen was setting them up with “dates” with her friends, they were very motivated learners.

Carmen wondered how she was going to tell Pastor Morales to include fifteen, boy-crazy girls in the next batch of one-hundred sojourners.


  1. Having gained the trust of the Customs Guards, and understanding that 100-250 Fabulous Acres residents would never leave, and knowing that some refugees would create catastrophe (whining children, fussy adults, or crying babies), and having extricated most of those who could be extricated trouble-free, why not organize an operation in which there's superior or lethal support for Carmen and her "assistants", those who are willing to escape are prepared to do so (for whatever values of "prepared" work in the existing circumstances), and incapacitate (for various values of "incapacitate") the Customer Guards and get the entire "bumbling herd" out in one quick shot?

    Repercussions? First, when The Powers That Be realize that most of FA has been extricated there will be repercussions, that's all frustrated tyrans know how to do, and those respercussions will fall on the <250 who, for whatever reason, remain in FA; not a big loss, it would seem.

    TPTB attacking people at the destination? Entirely possible, but that's probably coming anyway post-discovery, and defense against it should have been a major component of the overall plan from the outset.

    1. You make valid points.

      One of the complexities that becomes apparent on the ground is the difficulty in percolating through 6 miles of hostile, mostly urban territory. If they made one push they would have the dilemma "slow down and go the speed of the slowest traveler" or "string out and every man for themself"

      Percolating in groups of ten was theit gut feel for reduced likihood of detection but hard enough to deter opportunistic attacks while moving

  2. A lot of things flipping through my head about this. Probably the only one that someone couldn't take in a way that it isn't intended is that life in a collapse situation will be unpleasant in ways that most can not anticipate.

  3. How can the success of the defection not be blamed on the guards as well? Steven and the rest of the guards are going to have a hard choice, either defect en masse with the rest of the Fabulous Acres group, or face suspicion and disgrace, at the very least.

  4. The guards are about to do a round of speed dating for the next week. In that situation, I would bet that enough of them would be happily 'married' by the time the tail of the evacuation passes through that they would just join the tail.

  5. Interesting twist... Can't wait to see this one play out!

  6. Didn't see that coming. I like it.

  7. I would hope that Carmen recruits some salty barmaids who are handy with a blade...just a suggestion.

  8. For logistics look up how the Danes got all theie non-invalid Jews out of the country and into Sweden under Nazi occupation.


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