Monday, June 4, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 9

The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire

Episode 9 - The District Facilitator

CAPTAIN AKIO ROZINSHURA stood outside the inn and directed his people as they dealt with the victims and debris which had been salvaged from the train wreck up on the mountain.

He was a great bear of a man, with shaggy eyebrows and a shaggier mustache which hid his mouth so you couldn't tell when he was smiling.  His left leg, which had been shattered twice -- once in the second revolution, once in the third -- worked perhaps less well than a peg-leg would have, but at least he still had the leg.  He lived in fear that some butcher of a field doctor would someday hack it off, so he kept the pain and trouble it gave him to himself.

He dreamed that he would someday find a foreign doctor stranded somewhere in a war zone, a bone specialist who could save a leg if you paid an enormous fee, or put a gun to his head, or perhaps if he was merely grateful for rescue.

As district facilitator, Rozinshura was the sheriff, mayor, tax collector, judge, as well as drinking buddy to the district.  He had himself pioneered the drinking buddy aspect of the job -- back in the second revolution, when he had been assigned a hostile district which had still not accepted the first revolution.  It worked so well, they wrote it into the policy book of the Revolutionary Committee of Bureaucratic Practices.  Page 425, Rule 26.

But at the moment, a nice drink in a pleasant atmosphere was not the solution to his problems.  No, he had the delicate problem of a train wreck, if a train wreck could be said to be delicate.

A train, full of important people -- diplomats from other countries returning from a peace conference -- had been derailed by bandits.  A tragedy, an embarrassment to Awarshawa, and a threat to fragile new alliances they had only just made with several powerful countries.

And by the telegrams which had been arriving constantly since word first got out, it was all Rozinshura's responsibility.

"The wreck is not so bad," said his sergeant, who had just returned from the site.  "The bandits set it to derail into piles of gravel left from construction of the bridge."

"That was considerate of them," said Rozinshura.

"But the people on the train were so important they travel with guards. The guards defended the train, and that's how we got most of the injuries."  He paused.  "And many of the victims ran from the bandits and are lost in the woods.  We have lost a baroness, and two political secretaries, and a brakeman."

Rozinshura rubbed his bad leg and considered the bedraggled foreigners gathered in front of him.  There were many more in the school, where they had set up a hospital.

"We need more supplies," said the sergeant. "We need a car, or an engine to bring the worst injured down safely."

"I know," said Rozinshura.  He had sent his best scroungers down to rob the hospital in Vinscke, and perhaps to round up a doctor, preferably one who was both sober and competent.  Or perhaps....  "If these people are so important, see if they have a doctor with them."  Who knows, they might even have a bone specialist.

"Oh," said the sergeant, recalling one more item, "and Colonel Pookiterin is here.  He has a spy."

"Pookiterin is always having spies," snapped Rozinshura.  "Pookiterin is a preening, self-congratulating anti-revolutionary fushtir who is no use to anyone ever."

The sergeant glanced apprehensively toward the shiny staff car, where the dear colonel stood, preening his mustache like a unblessed aristocrat.  Yes, and as expected, he had a pretty peasant girl, and a poor soggy old man in custody.  Well, it was not Rozinshura's business.

"What does he want?" he asked the sergeant.

"He wants an interrogation room and a cell to lock them up."

Rozinshura used the inn's tavern room for interrogations, so he sent them there.  And as soon as everyone had gone inside, he sent the sergeant to take the colonel's staff car.

Who said Pookiterin never contributed anything of use?

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