Friday, April 6, 2018

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter 31

In Chapter Thirty, in the midst of the final preparations for the parade the next day, Wyatt is stunned when Martin and Martin's mother are suddenly gone. A pizza-run with their guest has Wyatt catch Mackenzie still dating Jonathon (or at least making out with him!) And the final blow is a horrible discovery about the identity of Wyatt's soldier. Wyatt isn't going to take it - any of it - lying down, and he heads out to the school rock that still shouts its homophobic slur, and sets out to make at least this one thing better.

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Okay community, here's Chapter Thirty-One!

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Chapter 31

National Survey Results For The Week Ending Friday February 13
Von Lawson Productions
Sample: 1,000 U.S. Citizens, statistically randomized.
Do you think Abraham Lincoln was romantically involved with Joshua Speed?
No                   58%     (down 15% from last week)
Yes                  29%     (up 7% from last week)
Undecided       13%     (up 8% from last week)

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Queer As A Five-Dollar Bill Blog


Blog Post: Saturday February 14, 2:17 a.m.
President Abraham Lincoln Was Gay: The Elysium Letter

Fact: Abraham Lincoln wrote to his love, Joshua Fry Speed:
Springfield, February 25, 1842
“Again you say, you much fear that that Elysium of which you have dreamed is never to be realized. Well, if it shall not, I dare swear it will not be the fault of her who is now your wife. I have no doubt that it is the peculiar misfortune of both you and me to dream dreams of Elysium far exceeding all that anything earthly can realize. Far short of your dreams as you may be, no woman could do more to realize them than that same black-eyed Fanny.”

The Elysium – or Paradise – Abe wrote about was the dream that he and Joshua could end up together in their own Happily Ever After. And that didn’t happen for them.
Joshua married Fanny.
And Abe married Mary. And then, Abe changed our world forever. Because of him, our country was re-united and all the slaves were freed.
Like Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln had a dream: That all of us would someday be free, and equal. They both died on the way to making that dream come true.
Today, it’s up to us – each one of us – to make our world the world they dreamed about.

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            Wyatt wasn’t sure what woke him, but moonlight silvered streaks of fog outside, so he knew it was pretty early.
            The parade.
            Mackenzie and Jonathon.
            Would anyone come watch the parade? Would the people who’d promised to be in it even show up? And he still needed to iron those letters onto something for the truck grill banner!
            Wyatt’s mind raced. There was no falling back asleep now.
            He turned on his cell and the light from the screen made his eyes feel raw. 5:29 a.m. No word from Martin and five texts from Mackenzie. He pressed ‘delete all’ without reading any of them. What could she say? What could either of them say?
            As Wyatt headed to the stairs, he tried to push them out of his mind. Instead, he thought about the whole B&B thing. How they had every room full and his dad was so excited about having thirty-four people pre-paid for tonight’s Civil War-Era Supper. How it was his dad’s passion, and he’d set up his life where Wyatt’s mom, and even Wyatt, supported him in pursuing it with his whole heart. Maybe you didn’t need millions of dollars to be a success. Maybe, you just needed to do what you really cared about.
            The thought slowed Wyatt to a stop just as he reached the first-floor landing. He cared about the world knowing about Lincoln. About being gay being okay. About people understanding that everyone is – should be – equal. No exceptions. Wyatt cared about this. With his whole being, he cared. Maybe he had more in common with his dad than he’d thought.
            He turned around and went back up to his room to change clothes.
            When Wyatt got to the kitchen, he snagged a yogurt and dipped a granola bar into it. He took a bite, and glanced out the window. Wisps of fog rolled on the air. He could see the pickup through them.
            Wait a minute.
            Where was wax-Lincoln?
            He headed outside to make sure it wasn’t a trick of the moonlight.
            The arbor was there, covered with waxy paper flowers, but it was empty. Wyatt walked around the truck with its rainbow bunting, searching. He stepped on the plastic drop cloth they’d used to protect wax-Lincoln and the boxes of cardboard hats from getting wet overnight. It was twisted up by the left rear tire. Wyatt bent down to check under the truck and the imitation beaver fur stovepipe hat was there, lying on its side in the gravel. Wyatt picked it up and placed it carefully on the passenger seat, scanning the parking lot.
            He wasn’t anywhere.
            Someone had stolen Lincoln!

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            Wyatt searched the exhibit rooms and everywhere else, and even double-checked the parking lot. No Lincoln anywhere.
            It was 6:14 a.m., and he was trying to figure out if he should call the police, or wake up his dad and mom, or what he should do. He came back inside from the kitchen porch, blowing on his hands to warm up, when the B&B line rang.
            Wyatt stared at the phone on the counter. The nasty calls had been tapering off, and some calls were even people saying nice things. Before it could ring again and wake up the whole B&B, he grabbed it. “Hello?”
            “Wyatt!” It was Mackenzie, whispering fiercely.
            “I’m not talking to you.” If she’d called his cell he wouldn’t have picked up. Which she probably knew…
            “They have Lincoln!”
            “What? Who?”
            “Dress as a Confederate soldier, and get to Union Square.”
            “A soldier?”

            “It’s like a re-enactment. Just do it. Bring a rifle, and a belt set. You have to look real. And hurry!”
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Endnotes for Chapter 31 
Wyatt’s blog post included the paragraph from Abe’s February 25, 1842 letter to Joshua where Abe spoke of their dreams of Elysium. That’s from pages 48-49 of Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend. The same letter is also online here: ; on pages 143-144 of Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings; and the Elysium section of the letter is included on page 176 of Herdon’s Life of Lincoln.
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Ready for Chapter Thirty-Two? It will be posted on April 13, 2018. 

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