Ed note: ‘Where do you come up with this?’ is a question I get a lot with this Bridgewater Underground series. I wish I had answer. It’s weird, I get it.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go here and read this. And from there, you can link to the rest of the series if you want, from the first time this goofy thought entered my head back in 2014. If you don’t want to read anymore, look man, I totally understand. No harm, no foul.
Take it for what it’s worth...which is about the value of Venezuelan currency these days.
Exile is a harsh place. Oh sure, I have a nice place here. It’s a nice little house, and just down a trail about half a mile is a nice fishing hole. There’s a nice grocery store in the only town on the island, and nice people in the town. I have a nice sunrise most days, a nice sunset most nights, both of which I watch with a nice cup of coffee or a nice cold beer from my nice deck, sitting in a nice, comfortable chair. My neighbors are nice, too. The husband has a nice grill and has me over for some nice steaks occasionally, if you can get to the store right when the supply ship from the continent makes it’s 11 day voyage, and his wife can fix a really nice long island iced tea. They have nice kids, a nice dog, and their little girl has a nice goldfish as a pet. They have a nice dog, too, a German Sherpherd that looks mean, but WHO’S A GOOOOOOD BOY!!
Nice. What a word. A word with good intentions, and slippery slopes.
Nice is a deadly word, maybe the deadliest. Nice is something you can get used to, something you can use to justify staying where you are, accepting your fate. And with each nice conversation in the nice little grocery store or the nice Lutheran Church or the nice spring festival held in the nice town square in the nice little town on the nice little island, you can sit at your nice kitchen table and look out on to the nice pond down the nice trail with the nice fish and become okay with where you are, and talk yourself into this being...well, nice.
But no matter how nice your captors try and make things for you, at the end of the day you’re their nice little prisoner, and they’re your captors. Sure, they’re hands off now because you’re halfway around the world, away from everyone, and they think they’ve rendered you useless. You’re isolated, mostly alone, and a long way from your home...and from your destiny.
Nice is a psychological war you wage with yourself. Every day, every hour, every minute, you fight nice, and fight to remember you’re not living on this island, but existing. And with each passing hour, and each passing day, you fight existing, and fight to get where you need to be.
But exile makes you question everything. When a man is forced into exile, in some ways it’s worse than death. Because you can see your importance fade, disappear. And you get to watch people re-write history, and write you out of it. And before you know it, you’re a footnote; you’re ‘the guy that was here, but he actually sucked so we got rid of him and moved on’.
Which is why you must fight nice, with every fiber of your being. And that is why getting off this nice island was your number one priority the minute you got dropped off here. Well, other than the fishing sometimes. I mean it’s tough to walk away when the walleye are biting, you know?
The escape was a daring plan, audacious even, yet simple. But the timing had to be perfect. And here’s another problem with exile. When you’re out of sight and history is re-written, people begin to believe the new narrative, no matter how outlandish. And if their life isn’t altered too negatively, they accept the new narrative. So if you wait too long, you won’t have The People with you, and The Movement will fail.
Which is why The Bridgewater Underground stayed behind, working in the shadows, keeping The Movement alive in the hearts and minds of The People. Even when there was general harmony in the land, there was always an unease about the new leadership. And when Generalissimo Sam was suddenly taken ill and not seen in public for weeks, Viceroy Case took over and was okay, but wanting in several areas. As the health rumors of the Generalissimo persisted, doubts grew about the Viceroy, even though his substitute leadership was good in the short term. Deep down everyone knew that Viceroy Case was never gonna be more than a Viceroy, and Viceroys never last long in a world of Kings.
It was time. You kept tabs on your homeland, so you knew this day was coming. You went to your nice basement, and behind the nice bar you built in a nice hidden compartment which you opened and you took...it...out.
The burner phone you smuggled on to the island. You checked it once a day, looking for a text. Every day you turned it on. Every day there were no messages.
Today, you expected the same thing. Phone turns on, no messages. But today, you turned the phone on, and within 10 seconds, the telltale sound of a new text message.
Holy crap. It’s time. After all these long months, finally. Hands shaking, you flip open the burner phone and open the message. It says what you committed to memory all those months ago:
‘Fran Tarkenton is scrambling.’
The escape? Well, nice works both ways, and if it doesn’t consume you, you can use it to your advantage. You can use nice with your nice neighbors and politely ask them not come over tonight like we had planned, because you were gonna walk in to town early the next day, before sun up, and you don’t want to have to be dealing with the after effects of those fantastic long island iced teas, because I always drink one too many. I just want a cup of coffee from that nice coffee shop in the town square, and then get to the store right when it opened, to beat the crowd. The supply ship came in, you know, and it’s time I paid you back and had you and Edna over for steaks tomorrow to make up for it. I want to be there when the doors open, so I can get the best ribeyes they have, and I won’t take no for an answer. I’ll mix the long islands this time, and of course the kids can come, and what’s that? Oh, I’ll be mad if you don’t bring the dog, buddy. See you tomorrow!
And once you got into town, you decided that yes, you would out take the sailboat that one of the nice people you met at the Lutheran Church owned and offered up ‘anytime, just tell da marina guy Ricky said it was okay. You been sailin’ before, right fella?’
Oh, I sure have, Ricky. Been sailing a lot of times, doncha know.
But man, the cut of his jib just wasn’t where it needed to be that day, and the water was a little rough. And in the early morning light, just over the horizon, he must have misread the wind, got too far out, lost his footing and fell into the water. Happens far too often in these waters. Too bad. He was a nice fella, and all.
But The Bridgewater Underground was there, in a fast cigar boat, fishing me out after I jumped, and hurtling away from the nice but slow Exile Death at over 100 miles per hour, pointed straight to our destiny. Victory or IR. There are no other options.
We are The Bridgewater Underground.
And we’re almost home.