These notes are loaded with spoilers and further explanation for Chapter 5 of my forthcoming science fiction techno-thriller – The Hidden Truth. I suggest you read Chapter 5 first before continuing. Ready? Let’s begin.
On the eve of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams famously wrote:
“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty; it ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
Chapter 5 is my attempt to describe an Independence Day celebration that might meet our second president’s exacting standard.
“Robber Dell” is said to be where the locals hid their horses from Confederate raiders.
Originally, I dubbed the town in which The Hidden Truth is set “Plumtree,” after the fictional birthplace of the titular hero of Robert Service’s “The Cremation of Sam McGee.” Then I needed a county name, and decided to rethink the town name, too. I set out to try to find a couple of signatories of the Declaration of Independence who were not already honored by county or city names in Tennessee. Roger Sherman and Richard Henry Lee (also Francis Lightfoot Lee) came on my radar. I thought it would be interesting to name the town Sherman and the county Lee.
Lee County is somewhere in the neighborhood of Knoxville. In the mountains north of Knoxville lies Scott County – so firmly Unionist an enclave that they seceded from Tennessee when Tennessee seceded from the Union. That’s not an outlier. The entire Nickajack region was a hotbed of Unionist sentiment. As law and order broke down, outlaws, guerrillas, and raiders from each side would loot and steal supplies with little regard for the political allegiances of their victims. I couldn’t find a good opportunity to work the back story into the Hidden Truth, since it would be taken for granted by all my local Lee County characters. I imagine when my narrator gets to Atlanta, coming from Sherman will cause someone to raise the issue. Then I’ll be able to explain how after the war, there was a great deal of sentiment to change the county name to something other than that shared by the hated general of the rebellion, Robert E. Lee. But a vociferous minority of ex-Confederates objected, argued that to heal the wounds of the war, the city should be renamed to something other than Sherman. In sensible Tennessee fashion, they declared a truce and decided to leave well enough alone.
I’ve seen some really good readings of the Declaration of Independence. The depiction of Uncle Rob’s reading and the crowd’s reaction draws on those experiences.
NVIS stands for Near-Vertical Incidence Skywave. It’s pretty much as Uncle Rob explained it – an excellent and robust means of local area communication by transmitting signals nearly straight up and bouncing them back down to provide signal coverage within a couple hundred mile area. The complication is that the frequencies you can use depend on the time of day and solar activity. Here’s the American Radio Relay League’s NVIS web page. It’s against the amateur radio rules to send coded transmissions, so kindly forget about trying something like the time and frequency code described by Uncle Rob.
I’m no gun expert. I took my cues on the utility of a .22 caliber pistol for self-defense from someone who is: science fiction author and occasional gun blogger, Peter Grant. In “.22LR as a defensive round,” he says:
I think we can take it for granted that any bad guy receiving a faceful of high-velocity hollowpoints (my standard recommendation for defensive use in .22LR is CCI Velocitor ammunition, with CCI Stinger as a second choice) is going to be discouraged. Three of my disabled students (so far) have already demonstrated that to their (and my) complete satisfaction. They’re still here, and uninjured. Their assailants . . . not so much.
Under those conditions, for shooters with physical limitations but with that sort of training, you’d better believe the ‘lowly’ .22LR is a viable defensive round!
See also Grant’s more recent post: “More about the .22LR’s defensive capability.”
Chapter 5 concludes the first act of the Hidden Truth. The reader finally meets the last of the main characters, elusive Uncle Rob. Moving forward, the pace quickens with a remarkable discovery while on vacation. Why did Mom feel the need to develop such an expertise with her pistol? How did Mom and Dad actually meet? What is the secret story behind the feud with the Tollivers? These insights and more coming up in Chapter 6: A Vacation.
Look for Chapter 6: The Vacation to post here on Wednesday, May 11.