Carl did not manage to fall back asleep but dawn was not far. As the first light began to break through the trees he saw a silhouette in the distance attempting to hide behind the trees. He reached into his pants and pulled out his Beretta. He moved to a large round oak and yelled “Make yourself seen. No need to hide and sneak up on me.” Carl waited for a response but none came. He listened and heard more leaves being stepped on. As he poked his head out to look in that direction he could see red uniforms. Looked to be approximately ten Soldiers moving through the woods. He probably would not have been seen had he not yelled out. He dove down towards his pack and assembled his rifle. He placed a magazine in each side pants pocket and slammed another one into the magazine well. He pulled back on the charging handle and released it, hearing that wonderful sound as the rifle loaded the first bullet into the chamber. He reached up and pressed the power button on his holographic site. He rolled over and began scanning for redcoats. He put the pistol in his other coat pocket, so that there was one in each pocket and he slowly began to low crawl to the largest tree he could see. He began to count. Their movement was awkward and not very tactical. Often many of them were in a line even though there was room to spread out. He noticed them begin to form up in a row and a man moved to the front of the formation. “Identify yourself sir. We are the King's men and demand you comply.” Carl had no idea what would happen if he engaged 10 individual from this distance. He would have to survive the first volley of fire before he would have the advantage. Then he came up with a plan. He pulled out his phone and set an alarm for one minute. He made sure his volume was all the way up and he folded it back into his chest as if preparing to throw a Frisbee. He flung it as far as he could from his awkward position and waited for it go off. He gave no answer to their request. He was going be involved in the fighting one way or another, might as well start now. Shoot the officer first, then find the stripes and shoot him. Conserve ammo. Only take sure shots. Carl walked through his plan in his head to make sure he was focused. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP could be heard going off to his flank. The officer in front of the formation sent two personnel forward to inspect the sound. A sound that would be very foreign to them. In the distraction he managed to pull his woobie up over him to help him blend in with the surrounding foliage. He kept an eye on where the phone was going off, inviting anyone to hit the snooze button.
He saw the red of the uniforms arrive at the phones location. He trained his rifle on them, moved the safety to fire and shot the first man center mass. The second turned to him just in time to receive Carl’s second shot also center mass. Carl made sure the large tree was between him and the firing line. As soon as the second shot went off, a hail of musket fire began bombarding the tree and several trees around him. He waited 15 seconds to ensure there were no more shots to be fired and he sprung to his feet and in one swift motion brought the rifle up to his eyes, placed the red dot on the center of the officer’s torso and squeezed the trigger. He could see troops pushing rods on top of powder and ball bearings frantically trying to reload. He started on the right and began firing. It was like shooting stationary targets in a target range. None of them moved, none of them broke ranks and without someone to tell them to fix bayonets, they only did the one thing they were trained to do. They reloaded and hoped to survive the incoming fire. Carl had managed to take six more shots, all on target, before the redcoats got the idea to try to move. Carl moved forward towards the redcoats and fired while moving hitting 3 more and missing one. He stopped at the next tree and waited. Some of the faster ones had managed to reload by now and Carl was 1/3rd through one magazine. He felt the ball bearings whiz by his head, this time because he was standing. The tree took the brunt of many musket balls but left Carl unwounded. He then swung out from behind the tree and in a crouched but deliberate movement began moving towards the remaining redcoats. He put a bullet in each one. He ensured the immediate area was clear and began counting targets. He was now analyzing the gravity of the situation. This was Pennsylvania. Why were they even here? He realized he would have to hide twelve bodies. The fire fight had taken less than one minute and it was a complication that would destroy the prospects of the congress.
Carl quickly gathered up his gear and shouldered it. He didn’t even take the time to hide his rifle. He simply got up, rifle slung across his chest, and began racing into town. He arrived a few minutes later and tied up his horse outside of Jefferson’s lodging. He ran up to his room and began banging on the door. Jefferson answered in what could only be described as a long white night gown. Fuck people dressed weird. Carl burst into the room and told Jefferson everything that happened. “Why were they here, and how the hell do I hide twelve bodies?” Jefferson called for James Hemmings and gave him instructions. James said “Yes Master” and then headed on his mission without hesitation. Jefferson seemed to be calm and collected but Carl’s adrenaline was pumping wide open full bore. “Carl, have a seat. Philadelphia’s negros will take care of them.” Carl wasn’t really listening. “I used 13 bullets and the wounds do not look like musket wounds. They surprised me in my camping area. I was not about to be taken prisoner. Those mother fuckers were moving up on me like they knew where I was, but no one knew where I was.” Carl could not calm down and was looking out the window, then to the door, and back to the window. “Carl, prudence would dictate a calm approach to the task at hand.” Carl took a moment, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He regained his composure and immediately began checking his weapon. He pulled the magazine out and cleared the round from the chamber. He placed the round back in the magazine and put the magazine back in his weapon. “I don’t think my presence here will remain a secret for much longer.” Carl offered. Jefferson still seemed unphased. “The violence has already started at Lexington and Concord. The idea that the rest of the colonies could remain untouched by the tyranny of the king was nothing more than naïve hope.” Jefferson plainly and calmly stated. “I would have the entirety of the England fall into the ocean.”
Carl noticed he just announced he killed twelve men and no one cared. This truly would be a warfare of immense brutality. I cannot rely on this weapon to win every engagement unless I can reproduce ammunition. Carl realized he was going to have to consider how best to utilize his limited resources. Jefferson offered him the water bowl to clean himself up. Carl’s breathing steadily went back to normal. “What is James going to do?” Carl asked. “He will gather up some other slaves and free Negros and they will move and bury the bodies. The crown is no friend to the slave.” “Neither is America if you knew what I knew.” Carl retorted back with some visible vitriol. Jefferson took that in, but did not react. Just at that moment Carl stood up and yelled “Fuck!” startling Jefferson. “I left the phone out there. I had to use it as a distraction to split the force and cause confusion. I have to get it back.” Jefferson put his arm on Carl’s shoulder to stop him from running out. “Allow me to go with you, and put that firearm away. You will draw undue attention to yourself.” Jefferson quickly got dressed and went out with Carl. They both mounted the horses and began casually riding out towards Carl’s campsite. All the bodies initially appeared to be where they had fallen. Carl dismounted and walked over to where his phone should be. He could not find it. He began to count bodies and only counted eleven. “I shot 12. I counted. There are only eleven here.” Jefferson did not seem concerned at the moment because he was reveling in the fact that one man took out twelve redcoats and came back unharmed. “We shall find it. Come with me.” Carl remounted his steed and followed Jefferson through the woods. Carl was checking trees for signs of blood using the light on the end of his rifle. He finally found a trail headed in the direction the redcoats came from. Once he found the trail he sped up with purpose. Three minutes after the trail and blood were found, Carl came upon a redcoat on his knees, bent over dead. The phone was covered in blood, still in the Soldier’s hand. “There we go.” Carl hopped down and grabbed the phone. He suddenly realized his bladder was full and he walked about six paces away and watered the trees. While he was doing his business a sound came from behind. Carl reached into his pocket and turned around and pointed the pistol in James’ face. “Shit James, you scared me.” Carl put the pistol back on safe and placed it in his pocket. “Mr. Houston, I see you found the last one.” “Yes. He tried to make off with my phone but he bled out before he could get anywhere. .223 ammunition really scrambles up the insides when you get shot.” James had no idea what he was talking about but he just nodded and then went to secure the redcoat. Carl situated himself and got back up on his horse. “Hell of a morning so far Mr. Jefferson. This will not be the last bloody day though.” Jefferson nodded. He whipped the reins around and they began to trot off back to town. “I’m halfway through one of my magazines and all I’ve done is take out a squad and give the redcoats more reason to come to Pennsylvania.” Carl said to Jefferson still trying to understand how this would all now play out. Carl had figured he would be a surprise to the redcoats but if they come looking for these men, it may accelerate plans even more.
As they rode back Carl attempted to anticipate how this would change events. He didn’t remember engagements with redcoats in Pennsylvania during the congress. He didn’t remember redcoats even being in Pennsylvania. They returned to Jefferson’s lodging where he went inside and cleaned up. He had hastily dressed to go with Carl and now he needed to get ready to eat and attend another long day in session. Jefferson finished properly dressing and invited Carl down for breakfast. Carl took the time to also pretty himself up. He raised his arm up and smelled himself. He was not smelling good at all. “Mr. Jefferson, since I am not familiar with how things are done now, I have a personal question. In fact it’s going to be one of many as I learn to navigate colonial life.” Jefferson looked at him silent, waiting for the question. “How do you stop the smell? When I am from, we use something called deodorant. It can work in a pinch when you are unable to get a shower in. I am smelling ripe, to say the least.” Jefferson thought about it for a second. Carl wasn’t sure if he was trying to find the answer, or trying to interpret Carl’s American English vs the colonial English that Jefferson spoke. Jefferson went over to his horse bag and pulled out some form of perfume. He walked over to Carl, removed the plug and sprinkled Carl with some just like a priest would splash holy water during an exorcism. Carl blinked at the action but then he smelled the sweetness. It didn’t actually help his smelly pits, but it did help mask it. “Well this isn’t what I had in mind, but when in Rome…..” Jefferson actually understood that phrase, the recognition was apparent in his eyes.
They both met downstairs for breakfast. Carl ate fast. He always ate fast when he was sitting at a table. Another side effect of years in the Army. Maya would chastise him often when they would eat out. He was horrible at conversation once food was placed in front of him. Even mid-sentence he would stop speaking and begin eating. Another of his weird quirks Maya was better off without. Once Carl’s plate was empty he sat there waiting. He just watched Jefferson eat. Finally Jefferson put his spoon down and looked at Carl. “I have noticed that you get very touchy on the subject of slavery. I find it to be an abomination. It would be my intent in the formation of the new republic to end slavery at the same time.” Carl’s jaw opened. He was bewildered for a moment then remembered the podcast on Jefferson. He remembered about Sally Hemmings. He could use this to help Jefferson accomplish this. “I believe you, but I have the benefit, or detriment, depending on how you look at it of knowing how things turned out, and your sentence and your actions do not equate.” Jefferson thought about this. Carl didn’t give him time to answer. “I know something that I cannot tell you. Something that will be of great pain in your upcoming years. I also know of the joy you will feel in helping choose your own form of government. Something few in history can say they did. Furthermore America survives. I would prefer it if the scars of its formation could be limited. In the mid-1800s America fights a bloody civil war over slavery. Southern states attempt to secede from the union when the federal government tells them they cannot have slaves anymore. The body count is over one hundred thousand. I know there are more accurate numbers, but I do not recall. If you could prevent this bloody battle, along with some like-minded framers, you would save America civil war. The question is can you do that and get all the colonies to work with you for independence. I do not think you can.” Jefferson knew this was most likely true. The idea that Virginia or any colony would agree to an end to slavery in the upcoming deliberations was unlikely. Jefferson finally spoke. “I find that with many ideas, gentlemen can always come to an accord. If independence is imminent as you say, then the colonies will be worried for their economic prospects. I am assuming you have a different idea.” Carl nodded. “I do. For now I want you to not worry about slavery. Independence must be achieved. I have already let slip you become President. I do not see any reason why that would not come to pass, unless you begin fighting slavery head on. Once Adams is elected, I will advise you on this, assuming you are in fact serious.” Jefferson felt insulted. “I am always serious when I speak sir. If that was not the case, I would not speak.”
Carl accepted that and excused himself from the table. It felt good again to be able to use the manners he was always taught growing up without it being used against him. He always hated the looks he would get simply by being polite. Most men resented it. Being chivalrous was often frowned upon, and being nice was often misconstrued for being chauvinistic. Here people welcomed the norms of being civilized, even in the face of incivility. It was a welcome juxtaposition. Carl went to Jefferson’s room and packed his bag. He would not leave it in the room today since Jefferson would be changing lodging locations. Carl placed his bag on his back and went down stairs and out to his horse. He stuffed his backpack into the saddle bag of James’ horse. This time he kept his Rifle assembled and the barrel stuck out of the top of the bag. He managed to close the bag over it so only a small piece could be seen. “That will have to do.” Carl said. Carl saw James walking down the path towards the butcher’s house. He nodded at James, but said nothing. James went upstairs and nothing like nothing happened.