• CHAPTER FOUR: The Highway Drawn In The Sand


    Monrovia, Liberia
    US Military Base

    12 midnight

    A group of men and women are huddled around a small television in a makeshift conference room, filled with soldiers and American civilians. There are maps and charts of the west coast of the African continent wallpapering the windowless walls. They are all watching the press conference of the United States Economy Restoration Act being signed in Washington. The room is completely silent as they all watch the coverage until a lonely voice, Sergeant Shane Baker, says,
        "Sir, did you know anything about this?"
    One of the civilians, Dr. Steven Mackie, retort,
        "Which part? The end of dollars and cents or the end of Social Security or the end of immigration?"
        "This is all news to me." says Dexter, African American man in his late 40's. Looking at the tv, he whispers,
        "Oh my God...Jamison, what are you doing?"
    Sgt. Baker, a young black man in his early 30's, inquires,
        "Major, you know him?"
        "Yeah...he's my little brother."
        "Your brother, sir...and you didn't know anything about this?"
        "We're not close. Besides, no one knows about the work we're doing. Why are you surprised?"
        "It's just not like us to learn such an important thing at the same time as the rest of the American public."
         "Well, everyone's operating on a need to know basis. It's the American way...or have you not figured that out by now?"

    Continued silence drapes the room. Folks are intimidated by Major Dexter Dracel. He's clearly the leader in this room but is soon discovering he's in the dark about what's happening back home. He continues,
        "Look...I'm certain the President will bring this all together for us. The fine points are coming out and I can assure you our work here is in accord with the mission of the White House. Now, have a job to do...here...FOR the United States and I suggest...no...I demand that we not lose focus or question our Commander in Chief."

    Dr. Mackie, 40, a Caucasian civil engineer from Indianapolis, Indiana, challenges the Major,
        "You can't question what you don't know. Honestly, I don't understand why we are here. I don't understand what's happening there. I'm suppose to build this massive...thing...and I don't get why! I'm watching the news to find out the money in my pocket is litter, my social security is gone, and your BROTHER is gonna explain it to me!"
        "Yes."
        "Yes?"
        "Yes. I expect there to be chaos back home right now but that is not of our concern, at the moment. We have a job to do. Period. I serve at the pleasure of the President. Period. And as long as you are here, working on this project, you do too. Period. Is that clear?"
        "I'm not one of your..."
        "I said is that clear?"
    Still resisting but not wanting to get beat by the Major, Dr. Mackie agrees,
        "Yes. It's clear."

    Sgt. Baker steps in as he can sense the tension between the engineer and the Major intensify,
        "Ok...as soon as this press conference is over, we are going to take the time to go over these plans for the next phase of this highway. Not that I have to explain anything to you, Dr. Mackie, but this massive 'thing' is the Mandela Liberty Transcontinental Highway. I know you're just joining the project, but we've been here for a while and we know this highway is going bridge all the nations along the western coast of African together. The USA Corporation is funding this project as a show of good faith and good business."
    Dr. Mackie is not satisfied at all,
        "Since when did the military work for private corporation? Last I check, it was the taxpayers' money that fuels out forces...so in a way," Dr. Mackie steps up to the Major, "...you work for me."
    Square jaw and resisting the urge to punch Dr. Mackie, the Major says clinches his fist,
        "No. I do not work for you. Our services and expertise have been commissioned by the USA Corp to assist and protect the workers, both American and citizens of each country this highway touches from Senegal to South Africa. At no time do I nor anyone else who have laid a speck of asphalt work for you. And yes, we may be standing on an American military base, in the most Americanized country on this continent, but on this ground upon which we stand, I will NEVER work for you."
    Sgt Bakers steps in again,
        "Dr. Mackie...Major...perhaps a moment away from this room will do us all some good. One of the privates can come get us when the actual press conference begins. In the mean time, step out...take a breath."
    Dr. Mackie and the Major both hold their stare on one another. Dr. Mackie backs down first,
        "Yes...yes, of course. I'll be right outside the door. Please call me in when the press..."
    Sgt. Baker cuts the Dr. off,
        "Yes sir, Dr. I will assure you someone will call you back in. Major, would you like for me to send someone..."
        "No. I'm not going anywhere."
        "Yes sir."


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