Other Timelines: 4th of July

sparkler Union Jack

Fireworks for the holiday, of course. / flag photo: Flickr user Rian (Ree) Saunders (CC BY 2.0 - cropped for photo illustration)

By Big 'Vic' Proton

It's Other Timelines week on AOA, in which we'll be looking at alternate histories of this place, about big and small things that did or did not happen.

BVP has been dropping delightfully weird, tiny stories in the comments here at AOA for years, so we thought it'd be fun to have him write a few super short stories based on this week's alternate history theme. Today's micro story is about celebrating the events of the Fourth of July...

Chatsworth has a perfectly fabulous flat on the corner of North Lake. He and his wife have a ripping do every summer to watch the Albany Fourth of July parade. Everyone is there.

On the way over, I stopped at the bottle shop and picked up a case of Boodles gin. Digby already had the shutters up.

"Expecting some fireworks, are you, Digby?"

"Aye, Mr. Hobbes. The telly showed them up at Beverwyck Park. Off their collective trolleys, they are!"

"Well, stiff upper lip, and all that, Digby."

"Thank you, sir."

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I stopped by The Yorkshireman on Quail for some sausage rolls and pasties but they were already shuttered. It was growing dark. Best get to Chatsworth's. The fireworks would be starting soon.

"Jeremy!" Chatsworth's wife pulled me through the door. She's a Sloane Ranger from Delmar who can swear like a trawlerman with an Oxford accent. "We were worried about you, love!"

"Out of gin, already, Caroline?"

"Well, actually, yes."

She took the box of Boodles and gave me a lusty kiss, all Dior and alcohol fumes. If she starts smoking she may well burst into a designer flame.

"Martin is drinking some plonk from Long Island. Dreadful stuff! How are you?"

"You mean since last night?"

"Cheeky, cheeky, Jeremy. Shhhh... Martin will hear!"

"Martin doesn't care."

"No he doesn't, does he? Well, it is still more fun to pretend that he does, isn't it? Why don't you join him? He's on the roof chatting up some totty."

Out on the wrap-around balcony I made the rounds of "hello old-boy" before I found Chatsworth talking with my ex-wife, Amanda. They were both sunburnt and tipsy. Probably been out there all day.

"So you're the totty," I said.

"Once the totty, always the totty," replied Amanda. "We were just talking about you Jeremy, weren't we Martin?"

"Indeed," said Martin. "You brought the gin, I hope."

"Got there just as they closed."

"Thank god. We could be here awhile."

Caroline appeared with crystal goblets of iced gin and tonic on a tray.

"Amanda," said Caroline, putting down the try and raising her glass in an exaggerated toast.

"Caroline," said Amanda, doing the same.

"Jeremy," said Chatsworth, turning to me with raised glass as well.

"Martin," I said, adding my glass to the other three. None touched. Condensation dripped in unison from the goblets in the slowest of motions. Time had slowed to nothing.

Then the first explosions. Flash bangs. Red light lit up our rictus smiles, our fierce eyes, our fallaciousness.

"Here they come!" shouted someone and all rushed to the sides of the balcony.

A ragged mob came marching down King's Avenue, led by a fife and drummer in period dress, the Betsy Ross 13 star red, white, and blue flag held high.

From the side streets and Victoria Park a roar went up and the Union Jacks poured out as spears pointed for battle. Fireworks, gunshots, screams, roars, cries, explosions filled the sky along with the smell of smoke and sweat and blood from the brawling street below us. From our perch, came our own cries:

"Bloody good!"

"What a show!"

"Smash the traitors!"

"They never learn! Ha-ha!"

"God save the Queen!" Chatsworth shouted, throwing his glass down onto the mob.

"God save the Queen," we all cried out.

By dawn the riot police had crushed the paraders into the pavements, the water cannons sweeping their bits into the sewers.

I walked Amanda to her flat on Chestnut Street, holding hands like we were young and in love again; the scent of battle so intoxicating.

Big 'Vic' Proton was born in Vermont and has been trying to return ever since. In this dimension, he is happily living in Troy with his Russian wife and her big gold chair.

More from Other Timelines
+ What would Albany be like today if the Empire State Plaza had not been built?
+ Other Timelines drawing: What's a local "what if" question that you'd love to know the answer to?
+ Six huge institutions that set up here... almost
+ The Portal
+ A brief history of the Capital Region's much-admired light rail system

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