Hi, when I mentioned it on Monday, a couple people said they were interested in seeing a little bit of my current untitled Work in Progress about John Laurens and Alexander Hamilton. I have decided to just post part of it before I could convince myself not to. This excerpt takes place in chapter three. John has just joined the unit, it’s August 1777 and they are in a field New Jersey (I think it may be upstate New York it’s unimportant to this scene).
I guess I should just let you read it. I hope you enjoy it.
His first week in the army went by quickly. The routine gave him something he missed since left boarding school in Switzerland, he liked order, liked knowing what came next. It could, of course, be a little bit monotonous, but with Alexander Hamilton by his side, the tedium of spending twelve hours a day six days a week in a boiling tent with little air circulation wasn’t as terrible as it could have been.
John learned Hamilton’s quirks quickly. He hummed while he wrote correspondence, and chewed on the ends of quills when he was stuck. He spoke rapidly and with passion even if he wasn’t sure he was right. Hamilton would argue about anything with anyone even if the person agreed with him. Hamilton pressed himself up on his toes when they stood at attention, pressed his chest out a little farther than necessary. With his bright hair and dark blue eyes, it was hard to miss him in a group, but he did everything in his power to stand out, prove he belonged standing alongside the rest of the group—highborn men of means and privilege. John figured because he was shorter than the rest of the group—John had over five inches on him, Lafayette even taller— he was borderline obnoxious to be noticed. John still knew little about Hamilton’s personal life, where he was from and all that, but the more time they spent together the more John felt those stupid butterflies in his abdomen he couldn’t will away. It has only been a week, and he hoped it was just a passing fancy that would go away soon enough, but when Hamilton leaned into John’s space to correct an inaccurately conjugated verb, he knew it was going to grow from thinking Hamilton was handsome to something he hated himself for feeling.
Hamilton, for his part, was either completely oblivious or good at ignoring how John’s eyes stayed on him for longer than was appropriate or the way John’s breath hitched when Hamilton leaned into his space to explain something.
“Are there mountains in South Carolina?” Hamilton asked into a comfortable silence after the midday break their second Wednesday together. The humidity was downright overbearing, but looking out to the west, relief was on the horizon.
“In the west half of the state, yeah,” John nodded.
“Not where you’re from?”
John shook his head. “No, I’m from the ocean side, Charleston, on the coast.”
“I have no idea where that is,” Hamilton confessed.
John leaned across the desk and looked at the map Alexander was working on, the campaign in the south was going worse than the Philadelphia campaign and it looked like Hamilton was looking for a direction the rebel troops could go to give them a bit of respite.
“I’m from right here.” He pointed close Charleston. “It’s a port city; the crown will want it eventually, just like Boston and New York.”
“They get that we’re fucked, right?”
“We still have Baltimore for now,” John reminded him.
“And where is that?” Hamilton asked. As he turned to look at John there was less than a thumbs width of space between their noses.
John broke his eyes away, turning back to the map and ran his finger up the coast stopping in Maryland. “About here. This is the Chesapeake.”
Hamilton looked down and nodded. “We should stick a pin in that, might be helpful in the future.”
“General Washington is from right about here,” John slid his finger over just a bit inland. Prolonging this conversation to keep Hamilton in his personal space as long as possible. Maybe if he was lucky, it would lead to learning a little bit about his co-worker.
“What about the other two, Meade and Tilghman? You know about where they’re from?”
“Meade’s from Nansemond, which is a bit south from Alexandria,” John pointed to the approximate place. Hamilton leaned over John’s arm, part of Hamilton’s shirt brushed against John’s elbow. He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, knowing exactly how ridiculous his feelings were at the moment and moved his finger back north. “And Tench is from Talbot County Maryland, which is right around here, I think.”
Hamilton leaned back in his chair. “Interesting. Do all rich people keep track of where each other live?”
John turned to his companion and smirked. “Yeah, my dad has a little green book of addresses. Want to write a letter to Mister Revere thank him for his contribution before Lexington and Concord? I can get you the address.”
“You know he didn’t actually do that, right? Thought the whole idea was dumb and got captured multiple times doing it.” Hamilton had an amazing skill of not blinking while he talked that made it impossible to look away from him when he spoke. “I met a girl in April, couldn’t be more than seventeen, rode from Putnam County to Danbury damn near forty miles through the woods in the dark to rise up the troops. Went up with the General to thank her personally for her effort. She was humble about it. Mister Revere is taking credit for Mister Dawes and Doctor Prescott’s contributions, which from what I understand is a hobby of his since he isn’t actually good at anything he claims to be good at.”
“Talk like that will get you hung in Boston,” John chuckled.
“We were warned against false Idols,” Hamilton shrugged.
“So,” John tried. “You care to point out where you’re from?”
“Where I’m from isn’t on this map, but for the sake of this conversation and continuity of the lies I’ve told everyone else, I’m from New Jersey.” Hamilton leaned forward again and touched a spot that was close to New Jersey but was definitely Delaware. John gently touched the sides of Hamilton’s hand with this thumb and forefinger and slid it up the seacoast slightly.
“That’s New Jersey. Might want to keep that in mind to keep up the continuity of your lies.”
“Well, aren’t you just a geography scholar.” Hamilton teased. He leaned forward until their foreheads were nearly touching.
John pulled back more quickly than he meant to, the slight smirk on Hamilton’s face faded. “I got the scars on my knuckles from the nuns hitting me with rulers to remember it.”
Hamilton chuckled as he leaned back in his chair.
“How is it that you’re the one in charge of the maps if you don’t know where anything is?”
The sly smirk came back across Hamilton’s face as he winked. “Who said I didn’t know where anything was?”
I hope you enjoy it? I don’t know. I like this scene. I would love to have feedback if you’re willing to give it!
If you’re interested in reading Chapter 1, you can find it on my blog here.
Until next time Internet,