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For All Nails pt. 127 - "Local Hero Comes Home"

Confederation Simonsway S56 - July 16, 1974

Terry was happy to be sitting on a nice comfortable civilian autobus seat.
Normally after a flight they'd walk to quarters, or ride in the back of a
wooden-benched company loke.  Terry was thinking about how best to submit his
mildly controversial drawing to Jack-and-Stripes when his commanding officer,
Lieutenant James E. Bruce, sat down across the aisle from him.  He was doing
this will all of the crew, and it was Terry's turn.

"Henning, are you planning on serving our your stint?"

"Permission to speak freely, sir," Terry looked and felt tired.

"Granted," replied Lt. Bruce.

"Not that I don't have respect for my country, but I," he hesitated, "I
really miss Sonya, you know, my girl."

Lt. Bruce smiled, knowing not only Terry's answer, but his reasons for taking
the offered early honorable discharge.  Shocked his conclusion had come so
quickly, Bruce thought of another topic, so as not to shortchange his Photo

"What do you plan on doing, when you get back to... North City?"

"WEST North City, sir," Terry said with as little outrage as he could manage.
West North City was _Vandalian_, not Manitoban, dammit!

Terry continues, "I'd like to go to art school.  Since I'll be honorably
discharged, I'll receive my full tuition credits."

Lt. Bruce again looked surprised, "Given that drawing of yours, I don't think
you need art school.  You ever think about working for a newspaper?  If you
stayed on, I'd personally recommend you for a transfer to Jack-and-Stripes."

Terry was surprised, figuring Lt. Bruce's reaction would be closer to that of
Capt. Gilmore.  Bruce saw this reaction on Terry's face, and continued.

"Terry, Captain Gilmore is a fascinating woman, but I happen to agree with you,
and I think readers of Jack-and-Stripes, and even the civilian papers, should
see this.

"You may have noticed, I can read people as well as you read photographs..."

Terry realized that Lt. James E. Bruce read _EVERYTHING_ as well as Terry
read photographs, which was why he's a professional intelligence officer.

"I got the same sense of duality talking with the officers.  I was playing
one at chess who obviously believes the 'Scorpions in a Bottle' rhetoric of
Senors Hermion and Mercator.  (He was easy to beat, by the way.)  The one who
told me of their President's decision seemed very at ease about the whole
affair once he had his President's orders.

"I think if 'El Popo' gets his way, there will be a peace on our continent
not felt since the Diffusion.  And between you and I, Corporal, I like that.
The world's a big enough mess without a hostile Mexico."

"At least you'll still have a job, sir," smiled Terry.

"Yes, I sure will.  And don't worry about folks like Captain Gilmore.  She's
been though a lot.  Growing up without a father can do horrible things to a
man, and apparently to a woman as well.  Again, between you and I, Corporal,
I fancy Captain Gilmore, and not just because she's one of the Sweet Six."

Lt. Bruce would say no more on the subject, especially to someone who was
one-step removed from being help, but he thought about how she held herself
with all the dignity her title required.  Were she not so bitter about her
father, and both Stapletons, she might fit in wonderfully at Chantilly Oaks -
the Bruce family estate in Virginia.  He remembered the shooting incident -
he was in the same class as Gilmore - and the look of revulsion on both
women's faces at the elder Stapleton.

"Take care, Corporal," he said, before moving to Cardiff, who was two rows

_Salt of the Earth, that one..._ Bruce thought, _We need more folks like him,
and more appreciation of what they do._  Lt. James Bruce had seen enough
data in his 2 years of doing intelligence to recognize what happened if you
took the little people for granted.

.  .  .

West North City _Courier_, July 20th, 1974

"Local Hero Returns Home"

Corporal Terry Henning, RCNAAF Ret., has returned to West North City after
his harrowing 48 hours in the hands of the United States Army Air Corps,
following the defection of Alexandra Stapleton.

Upon arriving at Samuel Baker field in North City, the first thing Henning
did was propose to his schoolyard sweetheart, Sonya Rassmussen.  After a
highly tearful acceptance, the newly engaged couple took a few questions from
the press.

When asked about his treatment by the Mexicans, Henning said, "My drawing for
Jack-and-Stripes says it all.  We were treated well, and they were pretty
down-home folks."  ...

.  .  .

Managing Editor's Office, West North City _Courier_, September 19, 1974

"Good show, old chap!  I for one am glad to see free elections and a good
housecleaning over there," said Wilford Young, whose accent and use of "over
there" instead of "down there" pegged him as neither Vandalian nor Manitoban.

"Yes Mr. Young.  We're tired of duck-kicking politicians." replied Joe
Osterman, whose accent and use of "duck-kicking" pegged him as even less
Vandalian or Manitoban than the Managing Editor.

"Hah!" laughed Young, "I love your colorful expressions.  Right-oh then, I'll
get Terry in here."

He punched his speakerphone, "Karla, get Terry Henning in here."

A minute passed and Terry's red-haired head poked in the office door.

"Oh my goodness, I didn't mean to interrupt, sir," he said, 2 years of RCNAAF
discipline still fresh on his tongue.

"Come in, Terry.  I was just explaining to Sen-Yore," Young enjoyed saying
that way-too-much, "Osterman that corporate policy is to not release
articles, photographs, or artwork without consulting the writer,
photographer, or artist."

Osterman stood up and reached out to shake Terry's hand.  Terry shook firmly,
leaving ink-and-pencil stains on Joe's hand.

"Mr. Henning.  I represent the political party of Presidente Moctezuma," the
Spanish 'Presidente' slipping out too quickly for Osterman to get another
giggle out of the Managing Editor.  He continued.

"We'd like to publish your cartoon that appeared in this paper and in
your military newspaper showing the President strangling the head of

"It's actually the head of Aggression, Fear, and Treachery, sir," replied
Terry.  "You aren't going to change it at all, are you?"

Osterman was worried about this.  He had his orders, and they were to get the
drawing, alteration rights were a secondary concern, but Osterman and others
felt that altering the text on the heads would send a better message.

"Not without your and Mr. Young's permission," he said resignedly.  _The
sooner I can get out of this God-forsaken hielocaja[1] the better_, he thought.

"As long as you don't change anything... go ahead," Terry looked around, as
if for listening devices, and continued, "I hope you guys win your fight with
Mercator.  Sonya and I were thinking about spending a day or two in
Lafayette, while we're on our honeymoon next spring."

"You must be a music fan, 'cause there's nada else in Lafayette.  You should
visit Baja.  Though if you do, you won't come back," Osterman smiled,
thinking about the difference in climate.

Terry turned to his boss again, "May I go back now?  I have to finish the
Skinner piece before deadline."

"Go right ahead Terry, and thank you for your generosity."

Osterman reached into a vein of local-schmoozing normally reserved for
candidates, "It's very down-home of you, and I'm sure the President will
appreciate it."

Terry smiled bashfully, and walked with a spring back to his drawing table.

[1] Hielo == Ice, Caja == Box, hence "icebox".  This isn't a word from OTL,
    and an OTL speaker of Spanish of any sort wouldn't know this word.  The
    mix of English and Spanish in the USM, however, could easily produce such
    a word.