December 20, 1972
The mix of ice and snow bit into Huxley’s face and stuck to the front of his clothes as he found the address. Streetlights came on just before dusk with these short December days. His watch showed both 4:10 PM and 1610 military time although he thought mostly in the latter the past 4-years in the Navy. He reread the Brooklyn address again in the light of the 3-story apartment house. It was the correct address. He knocked on the solid oak door depressing the door bell button at the same time.
A face in need of a shave and haircut opened the door to the limit of the chain lock. “Ah Huxley, now we can start the meeting.”
Navy Hospital Corpsman Clement Huxley entered the dimly lit room and looked through the smoky mist at the 2-dozen or so members. He estimated only a handful were women.
“The weather isn’t exactly conducive to punctuality. I had to come from Queens Naval Hospital, remember?”
“Okay, okay. God, you have a perpetual attitude, comrade Huxley.”
“Forget the comrade shit Adam. Why the emergency cell meeting?” Huxley brushed the ice and snow off his peacoat onto the man.
“Hanoi is planning something big and you’re a key player. Sit up front.” He jumped away from Huxley’s wintry residue. The man called Adam stood before the group. Half were standing or sitting on the floor from lack of seating. All were dressed in winter-worn weather clothes with a variety of hats, gloves and boots in the cold basement apartment. Adam clutched a notepad and pointed to the first page. “Ho Chi Minh himself has asked for this meeting. As I speak, so do others across the country.” He paused as the faces stared and soft sounds of finding comfortable positions ensued. “We all have work to do on Christmas Day. There will be a national effort by all U.S. Cells to picket, infiltrate, attack and assault military and government hospitals housing Vietnam returnees throughout the country.”
Huxley looked closer at the audience. He recognized no one. “I’m the only one from Queen’s Naval Hospital. How the hell do I carry-out the mission by myself?”
“Comrade Huxley is impatient. Let me continue please.” Adam looked at his notepad. “There will be over 50 of us at each New York installation including VA hospitals and Queens Naval Hospital. We’ll start mingling with the usual picketing activists outside the main entrances. We have a plan to breach the entryways and inflict harm on any offered resistance at the military addresses. Within each site at least one of our people will create chaos and injury.”
A gloved hand from a collegiate female waved in the air. “We’ll be caught and jailed. And to what purpose?”
“Visibility. Our efforts will draw attention to the efforts by Hanoi to go to the peace tables. President Nixon wants to end the war. The message will be that Americans want the war to end and will escalate its activism to the point of necessary violence to bring the Vietnam War to within American borders.” Adam again pointed to his pages. “Let me remind you all that we are committed to the communist cause and specifically to end a war in which we participated because of a capitalist drive to make money for politicians, the rich, and the corrupt U.S. government bureaucrats.” He paused. “And let me remind you that we’re paid by the Hanoi regime to do so–have been paid even during idleness. Now, we’re moving forward.”
Several more questions brought about contact information for key players in attendance. Huxley’s was the last query.
“When will I get specific orders?”
“Like everyone else, on December 24th you’ll be informed about the who, when and where within your site and exactly what your objectives will be.”
“There will be resistance and maybe a fatality.” Huxley turned his rodent-like face to the group. “Does Hanoi understand this?
“Hanoi not only understands this but wants stateside Americans to experience what the citizens of North Vietnam have experienced the past several years. Yes, there will be blood, violence and death but a few Americans dying here will shorten the war and save thousands.”
“It’s about time.” Huxley looked around. “Will I be alone within the hospital?”
“Like I said…” Adam paused and cleared his throat. “…our antiwar activists will make an uninvited visit. An d there will be a contact among the Christmas Day batch of air-evac military patients.”
“Why can’t I get my orders now? I have to prepare.” Huxley’s rodent nose twitched.
“I don’t even have my final directives yet comrade Huxley. Security is paramount in this mission. On December 24th we’ll all receive our specific action objectives.”
The meeting was over. Huxley didn’t linger or mingle with the cell members. His loner personality was lifelong. Huxley identified with causes not specific groups. He went directly outside into the light snow and his thoughts brightened. Maybe I can get back at a few nurses and doctors and really make it a Merry Christmas.
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