With apologies to the Beatles, the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, and the state of Vermont.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chapter Sixty-One: Thankfulness

As promised, the new building crew hit the ground running the next morning.  Fortunately, these folks liked working with one another.  And, within a week, the building began taking shape.

“Look at that,” Sal said to Dan as they passed the new crew working away.  “Happy workers.”

“Big yay,” Dan said.  “We’ve finally got some good folks.”

Listening to their laughter, Sal added, “And fun folks.”

“Just in time,” said Viv, who overheard them.  “It’s going to be winter soon.”

In the kitchen, Nancy and Will were baking away.

“I love this time of year,” Nancy said.

“The cooler weather?” Will asked.  “The changing leaves?”

“All that,” Nancy said.  “But especially all the excuses for making more pies and fruit breads.”

“Well, yeah,” said Darren, coming in to pick up another load of pastries.  “You can’t beat the fall foods.”

“Absolutely,”  said Nancy.  “And my favorite part of the fall is Thanksgiving at the commune.”

“So, how do you celebrate Thanksgiving here?”  Will asked.

“Oh, just you wait and see,” said Nancy.  “Just wait.”


For Thanksgiving, Nancy made twelve pies, five exotic breads, and batches and batches of cookies like no one had seen.  Cat made sure that there were twenty different vegetable dishes.  Luna and Dan created a lima bean creation shaped like a stuffed goose.

The tables in Groovy House were full to overflowing.  The dining room was decorated in gold and brown and deep, dark reds.  There were candles and cloths on the tables.  There was food everywhere and it seemed like more was coming in all the time.

Everyone was there at dinner, and everyone included all the commune residents plus Ed and Ralph and Peter and George and Fred and Amanda and Steve and Edgar and Luna's mother and Ken's mother and Cat's mother and Paul G’s mother and Purslane and Roly-poly and Thistle and The Troll.

The communards were everywhere.  Marge was busy running around making sure that there were chairs for everyone.  Paul G and Strange Brew were helping her.  Ken was helping people in and Chuck was helping Darren in the kitchen (and since they weren’t cooking real goose, he was really goosing the cook).  Blue Sky was fixing last minute decorations with Viv.  Lois and Mo sat admiring everything.  The whole Trollwork team was too busy talking with each other to help with anything.  And all the mothers were sitting in a bunch talking about what a nice place this was and whether there was anything they could do to help.

Eventually, all the food was put out and everyone was settled at the tables and the food was passed along and everyone ate and ate and ate and ate and ate.  And then a few of the folks ate some more.

Finally, when no one could eat anymore because everyone was more stuffed than the lima bean goose, Luna said, “I am thankful for all of you.  There would be no community here without you.”

Dan said, “I’m thankful that Luna invited me to join her here and I’m super thankful that we’re doing this.”

Ed said, “I’m glad to see your new building coming up and I’m thankful that you’ve all survived all that you survived.”

And one by one, each person at the table (even the mothers) talked about all that they were thankful for, mostly focusing on life in the commune.  The people and the buildings and the land and the animals were all appreciated.  Everyone seemed happy and grateful.

But the one thing that no one even mentioned was the thing that most of them were most thankful for: the fact that Dan and Dick were long gone.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chapter Sixty: And More New Arrivals

“No, Stan, no,” shrieked Sal.  “No, no, no.  We do not need you right now.  We’ve been through enough.”

“Chill!” said Stan.  “I brought you two tough and strong womyn!”

Behind Stan were indeed two womyn, both of them brawny with crew cuts, one lavender and the other lemon yellow.  The one with the yellow hair wore a purple tank top and the one with the lavender hair wore a bright yellow tank top.  They were holding hands and staring at the crowd of communards.

“Welcome!” said Marge.

“Yes,” said Luna.  “Welcome to both of you.”

“Hi,” said the lemon haired one. “I’m Lois and this is my partner, Maureen.  Everyone calls her Mo.”

“We’re workers,” Mo said.  “Mostly we like to build things.  And we’re pretty good at it.”

“We could sure use some builders,” Dan said.  “Let me find Dandelion and Sowbug.  I’ll bet they’d like to meet you.”  He left in search of them.

Sal was still looking at Stan.

“I’m not staying!” said Stan.  “Honest!”  He waited a moment. “Well, maybe for dinner!”

“You can stay for dinner, “ Nancy said, “if you’re really leaving afterwards.”

“For sure!” Stan said.  “I’ve got my own nanobus!  I’m off to another fairie gathering!  Tonite!”

“More than I’d let you do,” Sal said.  “But Nancy’s one of the cooks.  And I plan on seeing you off afterwards.”

“Fine with me!” said Stan.

Meanwhile, Sowbug and Dandelion found Dan before he found them.  They seemed very excited to see him.

“Guess what?”  Dandelion said.  “We just got a call from Sorrel and Earthworm.  They’ve been looking for work and they’re coming here.  They should be here for dinner.”

“I think we’ve got you some builders,” Sowbug said.

“I think we’re going to have plenty of builders,” Dan said.


As promised, Sorrel and Earthworm arrived in the middle of dinner.

“Hey, folks,” Sorrel said.  “We’re back!”  

“Yay!” several folks shouted.

“Hey!” Stan said.  “I never get that reception!”

Sal gave him a look but returned to her conversation.

Dandelion and Sowbug were talking with Dan and Sal and Lois and Mo.

“Hey, Earthworm!  Hey, Sorrel!” Sal shouted.  “Come meet these neat folks.”

“This is Mo and this is Lois,” Sowbug said.  “Meet Sorrel and Earthworm.  They’re part of our old construction crew.”

“Yeah,” Dandelion said.  “We worked together for several years.”

“And now we can work together again,” said Earthworm.

“What do you folks do?” asked Sorrel.

“We’re builders,” said Lois.

“When did you get here?” Earthworm asked.

“Today,” said Mo.

“Yeah,” said Dan.  “We’ve suddenly got a lot of builders here.  And it’s perfect timing.”

“We were just trying to figure out how we’d get a new building up,” Sowbug said. “Are you folks ready to work?”

“Can we sleep tonight and start tomorrow?” asked Mo.

“As long as you’re ready to go in the morning,” said Dandelion  “We’ve got some serious work to do.”  (Dandelion decided not to mention the fire or some of the commune’s other recent difficulties until they saw the site.)

“Hey,” Earthworm said.  “Tomorrow morning, I’ll be good to go.”

“Yeah, me too,” said Lois.

“Great!” said Sal.  “Right now I’ve got to make sure someone else is good to go.”

“I was just leaving!” said Stan.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Chapter Fifty-Nine: Edgar Comes Back

The shock on Nancy’s face stopped Sal in mid-sentence.  She turned to see what Nancy was looking at.

“Edgaaar,” Viv screeched.  “You’re back!”

“Just briefly,” Edgar said.  “Can you call the gang together?  I have news for you.”

Everybody was rounded up in less than ten minutes.  Blue Sky, Paul G, Patsy, Strange Brew, Sowbug, and Dandelion needed explanations.

“Last winter,” Luna said, “as you’ve all heard, we had a bunch of difficulties.  We had some interesting folks join the commune, and some of them weren’t who they said they were.  We had an actress who stole stuff and set a fire, and we had a government agent who had come to spy on the group.”

“Never trust government agents,” Edgar said.  “Especially if they wear shiny black shoes.”  He spent a moment admiring his glistening ebony footwear.

“And most especially if they have a sense of humor,” Sal said.

“Anyway, Edgar was the government agent. He eventually told us who he was and said that he was more worried about the folks who were trying to steal from us and burn down our buildings,” Luna continued.  “We and he suspected a lot of this had to do with our neighbor, Hillary Reagon. He said he was going back to DC to investigate what she was up to.”

“And, yes,” Edgar said,  “I have been investigating Ms Reagon.  She is very well funded. The Kitsch Brothers have given her a bunch of money to create a maple syrup industry up here, which she and they would control.  She has been riling up folks in the Pekoe Party hoping they would cause trouble for the maple growers--and she’s also gotten a bunch of money from them.  And she has had a special irritation for this commune which she regards as being in the way of her plans.”

“One of her plans,” Dan said, “being taking over this property and turning it into a maple tree farm.”

“Yes, absolutely,” Edgar said.  “Which is why she recently found a guy who she thought would create problems for the commune and sent him over here.”

“Just one guy?”  Marge asked.

“Just one,” said Edgar.

“Which one?” asked Patsy.

“A guy by the name of Don York,” Edgar said.

“Don!” several people yelled at once.

“What about Dick?”  Chuck asked.

“Never heard of him,” Edgar said.  “I’m pretty sure he’s not connected with the Reagons.”

“Whoa,” said Sowbug.  “You mean it was a complete coincidence that Dick showed up when Don did?”

“Ya know,” Dandelion said, “There are guys out there that are just like that.”

“So, do you know anything about our new building burning?” Darren asked.

“Yeah, I was getting to that.”  Edgar looked around the group.  He had everyone’s attention.  “Ms Reagon was becoming quite frustrated at how slow things were going in her attempt to cause trouble for you. When he said he had people irritated but not ready to leave, she suggested that he start a fire here, but he do it in such a way that it didn’t look like arson.”

“Well, he fooled the fire chief,” Nancy said.

“And how do you know all this?”  asked Paul G.

“I know all this because we now have Mr York in custody,” Edgar said.  “He was more than willing to talk about it because Ms Reagon didn’t pay him what she had told him she was going to.  We’ve got a sting set up and we’re hoping to arrest Ms Reagon tomorrow on charges of inciting arson--twice.”

“Wow,” said Ken.  “That’s great.”

Edgar stood up.  “I’ve got to leave now.  I’ve got an early day tomorrow.  But I should see all of you after the bust.”


There was a lot of excitement in the commune the next day as the communards worked and waited for Edgar to come back.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to worry about Hillary Reagon and her creepy son anymore?”  Grace said as they were cleaning the main hallway.

“Yeah,” said Marge.  “I just think it’s too good to be true.”

“C’mon,” Ken said. “Ya just gotta believe.  I think Edgar’s gonna make it happen.”

“Well,” Marge said.  “I wish.”

“What do you wish?”  Grace asked.

“I wish I could believe that,” Marge replied.  “I just know how much could go wrong.”

Will and Nancy in the kitchen were worried about other things.

“It’s out,” Will said waving a blackened cloth around.

“I’m so glad you found it,” Nancy said.

“Yeah, I don’t know who left an oil-soaked towel near the stove, but we could have had a really nasty fire.”

“And another fire is the last thing we’d need right now,” Nancy said.

“No kidding,” said Will.  “But I’m pretty sure this one would have really been an accident.  I think someone was just careless this time.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Nancy said.  “A fire is bad, bad news no matter how it starts.”  She grabbed a tray of desserts.  “Let’s get this stuff back to the pastry stand before Darren gets completely overwhelmed with customers.”

But no sooner than they got outside than Edgar pulled up.

Fifteen minutes later, he met with everyone available.

“So sorry, folks,” he said.  “We thought we had her this time.  And we do have her in the sense that the warrant is still out for her arrest.  But someone must have tipped her off.  Her place looks like she fled in a hurry.”

“So, no Hillary Reagon,” Luna said.

“No Hillary Reagon,” Edgar said.

“I knew it was too good to be true,” said Marge.

“The good news is that she and her son are on the run.” Edgar smiled.  “Hopefully they’ll be too busy avoiding capture to bother you now.  We will have someone watching their place so if they come back, we should be able to pick them up, pronto.”

“Well, better than nothing,” Dan said.

“Sorry, folks,” Edgar said again.  “I’ve got to run.”

After he left, the communards looked at each other.

“Well, at least it should be quiet for a while,” Ken said.  “What else can happen?”

“Don’t ask that!” Chuck said.  “I don’t want to know.”

There was a moment more of silence before the door burst open.

“Hey! Look at you all!” a familiar voice said.  “Did you miss me???”

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Chapter Fifty-Eight: Departure

Over the next few days, Dick became quiet and driven.  He worked by himself in the ruined building cleaning through the debris and ripping out all the blackened and useless lumber and hauling it off.  Everybody else at the commune stayed far away from him.  He came to meals dirty and kept to himself as he ate.  No one spoke to him.

After his third straight day of work, he found Dandelion and Sowbug and asked them if they had a moment.  

“A moment,” said Dandelion.

“Okay”, said Dick.  “Here’s what we’ve got.  The good news is that your foundation is solid.  I’ve kept it and cleaned it up.  I’ve gotten rid of everything else.  Nothing else was salvageable.  I’m sorry but you’re going to have to start over again from there.  And without me.”

“And what are you going to do?” asked Sowbug.

“I’m out of here,” Dick said.  “No one likes me and the feeling’s mutual.  There are hard times coming and I want to be in a place where people acknowledge that.  No one here’s willing to really work hard.  I don’t think anyone here has a clue.”

“Well, we really do appreciate your hard work,” Dandelion said.

“Yeah, right,” said Dick.

“No really,” Sowbug said.  “It’s just that when you come on as strong as you do, you alienate people.”

“We need strong people for the rough times ahead and I don’t think anybody here is ready for it.  I don’t care about being appreciated.  I want to work with folks who are serious.”  Dick shrugged.  “I guess it’s so long.”

“Where will you go?” Dandelion asked.

“I’m gonna head south.  That blowhard Don was always talking about how much he loved northern climates and I have no desire to run into him again.  I guess I’m going to have to just keep trying communities until I find some folks who really get it.”

“Good luck,” Sowbug said.

“Yeah,” said Dandelion, “and thanks.”

“Sure,” said Dick and he turned and walked to his tent.  

Within a half hour he had everything packed up and loaded into his vegetable oil powered pickup truck.

He climbed in, rolled down the window, and leaned out and yelled, “See ya!”

He didn’t wait for a response.  He drove off leaving behind the odor of a fast food joint.

“Well, I guess it’s over,” said Sowbug.


The commune meeting that week was surprisingly subdued.

Luna sighed.  “I don’t know what to say.  I guess I’m glad that Dick and Don are gone.”

Sowbug said, “It’s weird.  I hated working with them and now I kinda miss them.  They were great workers even though they were a royal pain to work with.”

“And now we’ve got to start over,” Dandelion added.  “We’ve got the foundation of the building okay but we’re going to have to build the rest of it again.  And winter is coming.  I don’t think we’re going to want anyone sleeping in tents in November, let alone after that.”

“I think we can figure something out,” Dan said, but he sounded hesitant.

Everyone was quiet for a little bit.

“Do we even know what really happened?” Strange Brew asked.  “I mean I heard what the fire chief said, but what was Don doing wandering around in the building with a candle in the first place?”

“I want to know how we can keep folks like Barbara and Don from coming here in the first place,” Marge said.  “We’ve got to figure out better ways to screen out people that don’t belong here.  I don’t want to see another fire for a long, long time.”  She paused before she added,  “Or better yet, never again.”

“How can you tell what a person’s like until you live with them for a while?” Cat said.  “I mean, I really liked Barbara.   I had no idea she was an actress and an arsonist.”

“Well, none of us liked Don or Dick,” Viv said, “and we still couldn’t figure out how to get rid of them before there was trouble.”

There was a long period of silence.  Chuck, who was running the meeting and wearing a gorgeous green gown, kept looking from person to person but didn’t say anything.

“I don’t know,” Sal said finally.  “I think you can do all the screenings in the world and we can still end up with trouble.  And, yeah, I couldn’t figure out how we could get Dick or Don to leave.  It’s not like we could call the cops.”

“I want us to get gentler people,” Darren said.  “More women, more queer folk, more genderless and genderfluid people.  I don’t want more macho men.”

“Me, neither,” said Blue Sky.

“Yeah, I can see how you would feel that way,” Sal said.  “But we also need hard workers.”

“Can we find some hard workers that aren’t hard on everyone?” Nancy asked.

“So many good questions,” Chuck said.  “I think we may need to wait to find the answers.”

“I never got my question about what really happened answered,” said Strange Brew to Patsy after the meeting.

Patsy sighed.  “We may never know,” she said.