I mentioned a couple weeks ago I was re-writing my WIP, a piece I call THE THING because I call literally everything I write “This Thing” and I don’t have a real title for it yet. I don’t know if it’s the new take on it or that I’ve actually started to take it seriously, but I feel much more comfortable sharing bits of it. So I have for your part of the first chapter of THE THING NEW EDITION. I would love feedback if you feel the need to give some constructive criticism.
This is, essentially, real-life people fanfiction about John Laurens and Alexander Hamilton. I hope you read through if you’re into that kind of thing.
Fate has a funny way of putting two people exactly where they need to be. Fate had spent the last few years tossing both the people she was trying to push together through insurmountable tragedy, hardship, and surprises, neither was sure they’d survive. She’s worked with mother nature to flood an island, hoping the brilliant mind trapped in the head of mostly orphaned, neglected fourteen-year-old would be able to figure out what fate wanted of him. She’d turned the other’s life upside down too many times, living with unbearable grief and guilt, he’d made mistakes, big mistakes he’d have to figure out how to deal with. Both men ended up on boats, traveling across the ocean, one to settle into a new country, a new life; the other fleeing an uncomfortable situation to return home. Both finally, finding some kind of footing under the guidance of military service. Fate had to be smiling when John took his first steps into the camp during the hot New Jersey August of 1777.
He wasn’t sure what he was expecting, but it was something more put together than this. He dragged his trunk behind him as he searched for the tent he was supposed to report to. The weary looking soldier he’d asked had simply pointed toward the center of camp and said “the big one.” The longer he wandered around the encampment looking lost but no one giving him a second look, the easier it was for John to understand why the rebels were doing so poorly in the war thus far. It would be all too easy for a British spy to enter the camp and simply walk around until they got what they needed. After a good half hour of sweating in the beating sun, he finally found it. The largest of the tents with the newly commissioned flag of the United States posted out front. He pushed passed the flap into the sweltering tent to see a man bent over his desk scribbling in a ledger. John cleared his throat to draw attention.
“Hello, are you the – no you’re much too young to be the French General. There’s a French General coming to meet General Washington today, if you’re not him, I’m afraid His Excellency isn’t accepting any meetings.”
The young man spoke quickly in an accent John couldn’t place.
“I’m Henry Lauren’s son, I have papers. I’m to meet with General Washington upon my arrival.”
“Laurens?” the other man asked consulting his ledger. “I’m sorry; you’re not on the list of meeting today or tomorrow.”
“I’m Henry Laurens’ son, he’s expecting me.”
“That’s great for you, but I’m in charge of regulating who gets the meetings and keeping the schedule, and right now you’re not on it. I can get you in, probably the day after tomorrow, but right now the General’s schedule if full. So, you’ll have to come back.”
“He’s expecting me,” John protested. “I have papers.” John extracted the letter of introduction his father had given him when he left Mepkin Estate the week before. His father had been in correspondence with General Washington for months planning John’s entrance to the General’s command.
“That’s great,” the other man smiled. “I still can’t just let you in. It’s actually my job to do the exact opposite.”
“But my father—”
“Is some man I’ve never heard of, yes, I heard you the first three times.”
“You’ve never heard of Henry Laurens?” John scoffed. “He’s the most important man in the country at the moment.”
“Agree to disagree on that one, because I think the man is on the other side of this curtain is the most important. He’s gonna lead us to victory against the monarchy whereas Henry Laurens is going to what?”
“Give him the money to do so as the President of the Congress.”
“Oh,” the other man conceded. “I guess that’s sort of important. You still can’t see him, unless you have a meeting.”
“I shouldn’t need one, I’m –”
“Yeah, no I got it,” the other man smiled. “But, you see, you do need a meeting. And on top of all that, I’m waiting for an important French General. It would be very bad for me if I let you go in there and then the Frenchman showed up and I have to make a French General wait because some self-important rich man’s son thinks everyone should bend down and kiss his rings. So, if you don’t mind, I can take your name and put in the ledger for meeting the day after tomorrow or you can leave.”
“I’m sorry, what’s your name?” John asked annoyed.
“Hamilton. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton.”
“Right, Mister –”
“Lieutenant Colonel,” Alexander corrected, he had an annoying half smirk that John wanted nothing more than to slap of his face. Hamilton wasn’t a last name he recognized, with that accent alongside it, there was a decent chance the man before him wasn’t someone from the same social class as John but an immigrant who stumbled his way into working for General Washington. Not the kind of person who got to tell John what to do.
“I’m not sure where you’re from, Lieutenant Colonel, but when I’m from there’s a social order. As I am here, with papers, I expect to see General Washington. Someone of your social standing doesn’t get to dictate the details of that meeting.”
The other man pushed himself up from the desk, pushing himself to his full, rather unimpressive height, the top of his head barely reaching John’s chin. At this angle, John could take in the man’s piercing blue eyes and the way his ears were turning red with anger as he spoke.
“I don’t care about your social standing. I’m doing my job as an aide-de-camp to General Washington. I don’t give a flying fuck who your dad is, or where you’re from. I’m doing my job, and you’re not going to threaten me into not doing it properly. So, kindly, leave this tent, son of Henry Laurens, or I won’t even bother to put your name on the calendar of appointment and you’ll get to go home with your tail between your legs because the General doesn’t wish to talk to you.”
“You can’t do that, I have a letter of introduction.”
“Which I will gladly shove up your ass if you don’t leave my office.”
“Lex,” someone called from what constituted a doorway to the tent. “Everything good.”
“Yeah, it’s fine, Dicky, just trying to get another self-important cumberworld who thinks he can talk his way into the General’s presence by throwing around his father’s name out of my office.”
“It’s about time for luncheon, you joining us?” The man in the doorway appeared to be about a decade older than John and Hamilton, yet he too wore the green ribbon of an aide-de-camp across his chest.
“Always,” Hamilton said coming around his desk. “You coming, Henry’s son? I’m not leaving you alone in my office. You can either sit outside of it whilst I’m gone or join us in the mess tent.”
John sighed. If he was going to join this service, he might as well get to know the other men. “Fine.” He conceded and let Hamilton and his friend lead the way.
This was supposed to easy. His father promised after everything that had happened in John’s life during the last two years, this would simple. Everything was set up already. All he had to do was show up and speak to General Washington and he’d be in his service. Now there was some child-sized redheaded man was standing in his way. It wasn’t fair. Enough had gone wrong so far. He needed this one break to start putting his life back in order.
“Do you have a first name or are we to call you Henry’s son?”
“Laurens is fine,” John answered.
“Henry Lauren’s son?” the second man to join them, Dicky, apparently, asked. “I thought you were still in London.”
“No, I’ve been back for a bit. My little brother is still in England, though, finishing school. I think Father is going to keep him over there as long as possible. Keep him out of this nonsense. However, I volunteered to join up.”
“Outrunning some scandal as I hear,” Dicky laughed and clapped Hamilton on the back. “The two of you’ll have something fun in common.”
“Shut up,” Hamilton sighed.
“Don’t believe everything you hear in the society pages. I’m here to join the army and leave what happened in London long behind me.”
They entered the mess tent, filled with other soldiers and found their way to the food line, then to a mostly empty table.
“I feel I’m at a disadvantage since you know who I am, but I’m not sure who you are.”
“Meade, former captain of the 2nd Virginia, current aide-de-camp to General Washington. Hamilton does the writing I do the transport. It’s a nice operation we have going on.”
“One I should be joining if your friend here would take a look at my paperwork.”
Hamilton looked at him over a spoonful of potatoes with nothing but annoyance on his face.
“I’m sure your paperwork is in order,” Hamilton said calmly. “After luncheon, I’ll look at it, and if it is in order, I will add you to the schedule. That’s how it works here. I don’t bend the rules because someone who thinks they’re better than me tells me to. I have a job to do, and I take it seriously. Today, his schedule is full, and we’re awaiting the arrival of French General. If he arrives today, something may open up for you, otherwise, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow. You have to remember, Mister Laurens, you are a civilian in a military encampment, and just because I don’t have a last name you recognize doesn’t mean I don’t outrank you.”
Hamilton went back to eating his potato, eating the food on his plate as if it was the last food he’d ever see in his life. John leaned back as much as he could on the stiff bench. Nothing was ever easy for him. This should have been. Throw his father’s name around, get preferential treatment like he did when he was a boy, but now someone new stood in his way, this bright-eyed young man with the sarcastic smile.
“Look,” Meade said. “Ham takes his job more seriously than any person has ever taken anything. So, if you’re looking for an end run around him, you’re not going to find one.”
“Just tell General Washington Henry Laurens son is here to see him.”
“Will it make you stop referring to yourself only as you relate to someone else?” Hamilton asked. “Because, to be frank, that’s the most annoying thing anyone can do.”
“Fine,” John conceded. “Tell General Washington, John Laurens, eldest son of Henry Laurens, wishes to speak to him about an appointment, as discussed with the President of Congress. I should be taken on as an aide-de-camp as well as a French interpreter. With this general coming, it may be smarter to have me talk to him sooner rather than later.”
“I’m the French interpreter,” Hamilton said coldly. “We don’t need another.”
“Where did you study?” John asked, hoping that the name of a school would help pinpoint where exactly that strange accent came from.
“Where’d I study French?” Hamilton scoffed. “Oh, my friend, I didn’t learn it in school, I learned it the best way to learn anything, from my mother.”
“You think that makes me more qualified than me?”
“Yes,” Hamilton’s wide sarcastic smile grew. “It’s my first language; I’m pretty good at it. You’re not better than me. Anyway, I have to go back to my office. I’m sure Dicky will be more than happy to show you around camp and where civilians stay. You can come back to my office tomorrow, and I’ll try to work you into the schedule.”
With that, Hamilton left, carrying his dishes over to the servants who were supposed to clear their places and exiting the tent, disappearing as the flap closed behind him.
“Who does he think he is?”
“The person in charge of the calendar,” Meade chuckled. “I’d do my best to get on his good side if you want to get a meeting. He won’t put it in the calendar otherwise.”
“If he refuses me, I’ll write to my father, he’ll take care of it.”
Meade pulled a face and shook his head. “No doubt that President Laurens has pull, and probably enough to get you on staff, but he still has to go through Alex. He is nothing if not devoted to his job. He works in the best interest of the General, and if he doesn’t think seeing you is worth the General’s time, he won’t give you an appointment.”
John sighed and thought about how unfair it was. He should write to his father about it all, he’d have Hamilton’s job. No one had ever spoken to John the way Hamilton had, with a complete lack of care about who he was and just how important his family was. It would be slightly refreshing it wasn’t so annoying.
“Where is he from?”
“Holland I think,” Meade answered. “I haven’t really asked and he hasn’t offered but I think his accent is Dutch.”
“It’s not,” John shook his head. “I spent a summer in Holland on holiday, that’s not a Dutch accent. Dutch Indian maybe.”
Meade shrugged and turned back to his meal, John tried to do that same, but the mean spirited smirk across Hamilton’s face kept popping into his mind. He didn’t like it, and he was going to find a way to keep Hamilton from ever looking at him like that again.
I hope you enjoyed this Glimpse at THE THING, I honestly would love to know what you think out it. Right now only my best friend Jen is read it and although I love her, sometimes I fear she’s lying to me and this is terrible. I may share some more of this in the future if people are into it. You never know.
Until next time Internet,