Dayfall Chapter Three

                                          Chapter 3

                                The Rise of Captain Canard

Andres Canard was known as Andy by his friends. But Andy didn’t have any friends. So, everyone knew him as Andres or Captain Canard. His deceased father was an inner circle, corporate executive. And Andres is also the nephew of a corporate council chairman.

This made Andres nearly as untouchable as his pride made him unreachable. Andres was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and wouldn’t be satisfied, until he’d stolen the rest of the set.

Filled with dreams and ambitions Andres would do almost anything in life to achieve his goals. Anything, short of an honest day’s work. He’d made it this far in life without labor and saw no reason for breaking that precedent.

After a full eight years of formal, private education. Andres had been given an entry level position as a department head in one of his father’s companies. His policy of coercing sales to company stores with the promise of easy returns at the end of the year had been hugely successful.

Sales were up a full sixteen percent and by the time the tide of returns began to swell. Well by then, Andres had transferred to another department. But in his new position, Andres repeats this same gambit. Only this time at the wholesale level, achieving equally convoluted results.

 Andres was a man on the way up the corporate ladder. Promoted again and again. Andres was put in charge of the finances for a small but growing corporate entity. But Icarus had flown too close to the sun. And his fall to earth was soon aided by his useful disappearance.

By transferring his rank in private life to Corporate Security. His past offices earned him a Captain’s rank. His past crimes earned him a one-way ticket to an outpost at end of the festering known world. Andres needed to hide out and the Southern Region was just made for hiding. He’d been posted to the Southern Region as a third shift, water security officer, Sinsin city S.R.

His life of partying the days away with the Thunder Bay elite were over. Andres, however, was always capable of finding amusements in and around Sinsin city. Because his new job was mainly of the make-work variety, he seldom bothered to show up.

In his quarters, Andres tokes on his pipe when there’s a knock on his door. Holding his toke, he calls out. “come in!”

“Captain Canard?” A young, level one asks barely sticking his head through a three-inch opening of the door chain.

“What?” Andres answers, opening the chain and exhaling impatiently. The  level one glances at his pipe while pretending not to. “Sir, General Alford wants to see you in his office, right away.”

Sighing, Canard tokes again holding it in and saying. “Tell em, I’ll be down after a while.”

“Sir,” the level one replies, “I was sent to get you.”

“Bush!” Canard grimaces asking, “what’d I do now?”

“Don’t know sir. They just ordered me to bring ya.”

Canard puts down his pipe sitting on his bunk. Inventorying his room for the necessities of his uniform.

Entering the headquarters building, Andres fans his shirt in the artificial coolness. “Crazy hot out there!” The level one ignores his remark as far too common an observation for the Southern Region. Assuming he’s either an idiot a newbie or both.

 Silently, they move down the hall save for the sounds of their hard soles on the linoleum. The private leaves him at the CS day desk with a curt salute. Smarminess was a vital ingredient of all good Corporate Security officers. You don’t join the CS to become an asshole. You must be an asshole first. Smiling at Canard nearly dripping with insincerity. The CS officer offers, “have a seat, Captain; I’ll let the General know you’re here.”

Off the cuff,  Canard asks. “Any idea what this is all about?”

The business-like CS gives him the pat corporate psychobabble answer. “What do you think it’s about?” Throwing in a sinister cynical smile at no extra charge.”

Confident in his own abilities, Canard whistles. “Haven’t a clue. I thought maybe you overheard something, while your cleaning up or emptying trash cans around here or something.”

Leaning back in his desk chair the CS officer smiles. “Then, it can’t be too serious then …can it, Captain Canard?”

“I’m not worried.” Canard answers confidently.

“But you’re curious?” The CS counters.


The CS then unfurls his standard; feel free to incriminate yourself in this non-interrogation, interrogation. “You’re curious but you’re not happy. So, if you were happy, you wouldn’t be so curious. If you were happy that would mean you didn’t have anything weighing on you to feel guilty about.

But you’re curious and unhappy. That means that you fear that we’ve found out about something you. Something you didn’t want us to find out about. That means, you must be in the Bush about something.”

Canard only smirks, answering. “Fuck you!”

“Just doing my job Canard.”

Andres barks, “well do it on someone else!”

After several uncomfortable moments, General Alford enters as both men stand snapping to attention. The General utters Canard’s name grimly, Andres grimaces as the CS officer smiles, enjoying the General’s dark tone.

 Andres follows him down the fluorescent lit hallway. Obediently silent, just as he always had on his previous occasions. Fully expecting to lose this early round anticipating his outcome would prevail on appeal to the court of higher connections.

As General Alford enters the room, he growls with hangover toughness. “Shut the door and sit the fuck down Canard.” The General stares into his desktop pausing for a second. Before collecting his thoughts and heaving a sigh.

“Captain Canard you’ve been with us here what… six months? And I’ve yet to hear your name in any good connotations. It’s always some sort of Bush shit. Canard’s not doing his job or Canard didn’t show up again and basically… I’m getting pretty, fucking tired of it!”

“General Sir…” Canard says, attempting to squeak out a defense.

“Shut it, Captain. Yeah, I know. Everybody around here knows. You’ve got pull. But I’ve got a job a good job here Captain, such as it is. And you’re not going to fuck it up for me! Two more years Canard and I can get the hell out of here and retire to someplace nice and cool! But I won’t make the two years Canard. Hell not with you around. I’ll be lucky to make one year!

So, I thought about it some, and there are only two ways that I can get rid of you. I can either help you to get your ticket punched and get you promoted the fuck out of here or I can get you killed.

So, you see Captain Canard. There’s this little mission we have planned for tonight leaving for the Tuck. And, I’ve selected you to lead it. Whichever option you choose; hero or death really doesn’t make any difference to me! Alford then produces a hip flask from his vest pocket taking a celebratory snort.  

Smug Canard answers taking a more philosophical approach. “Well General,  as I’m sure you’re probably already well aware. Under the terms of my employment contract. I can’t be ordered to go outside of the boundaries of the Southern Region.”

“Absolutely correct Canard!” The general answers, excited with anticipation toasting Canard’s point by taking another snort. “You’re so right about that Canard! You can’t be ordered; a man must volunteer for dangerous duty like that!”

Confidently Andres smirks. “And why, would I do a crazy thing like that?”

“Well Captain,” the General smiles. “It’s a very simple mission and I feel certain it would make mommy and your Uncle Bill real proud of their little boy for being so brave. Plus, the ambition shown might go a long way towards getting you another stripe and getting you off of my ass like a hemorrhoid Canard.”

Alford returns the flask to his vest. Then reaches into his desk drawer, dropping a thick manila folder in front of him, “See this? This your personnel folder Canard, and if I could prove even half. Uncle or no uncle, you’re done!”

“That’s a big IF General.” Canard observes confidently. “Wanna bet a career on it?”

“You’re not paying attention Canard. If  I can’t get rid of you one way or the other. I don’t have a career. I either have Andres Canard or a career. You see, just like you. I don’t have a choice here either.”

Canard begins to whine defensively, Spouting corpratease “About it not being legal without his consent on a paper. About how the General couldn’t make him volunteer!”

“But you’ve already volunteered Canard; Alford adds, holding up a forged volunteer form with Andres name at the top. You leave tonight at the gloaming, from dock seven.”

Defeat is a new experience for Andres, leaving him incredulous and bitter. He kept repeating, “they can’t make me!” But quickly he realizes with the general’s collection of Andres’s forged travel vouchers and unauthorized cash expenditures, indeed he can.

“Look Canard,” Alford chirps, “this isn’t a death sentence. Alford holds his hands apart framing it for Andres. You’re taking two squads into the Tuck to hunt down some outlanders. Think about it Canard… your name in the corporate newsletter…for something good! That’s all, you’re dismissed Captain.”

Andres leaves the General’s office a bit shaken and sorely dejected. Stopping first by the PX, purchasing his first official pair of real combat boots. To replace his soft leather zipper boots from Thunder Bay. Nursing his outrage and wracking his brain. Canard struggles to find a way out of his predicament. But there it was, he was stuck.

 Lacing his new boots, Canard tries to make his appearance match the picture from inside back cover of his employment manual. Nearing the quarter hour he leaves his quarters, headed grimly for pier seven.

A gaggle of uniformed men dressed in black congregate near the dock. As Canard asks curtly, “who’s in charge here?” The men answer by pointing in unison to Sargent Peterson. With a mass miss-timed repeating of  Peterson’s name as a group.

 Canard struts down the dock filled with pomp. Trying to impress his men inquiring confidently. “Are we ready to go Sergeant?”

Peterson answers, “we’re just waiting on the Captain sir.” Still holding his proper salute waiting patiently for Canard’s before finally abandoning the formality.

“I’m the Captain!” Andres explains, pointing to his chest with his thumb. “I’m Captain Canard!”

“The boat Captain, Captain Canard sir. We’re waiting on the boat captain,” Peterson explains gently. Peterson lives by the motto: There’s no such thing as a stupid officer as an individual. Only stupid officers as a class.  

“Oh right, the boat Captain.” Canard shrugs, “what’s the holdup then?”

“Don’t know Captain, you’d have to go ask him yourself, sir.”

“Is that him?” Canard asks innocuously pointing upwards towards the bridge of a rusting, geriatric tugboat.

Without thought or hesitation, Andres stumbles onboard climbing innocently up the ladder to the bridge. Greeting the ship’s Master at shoe to face level. “Are you the ship’s Captain?” Canard asks naïvely, like a rube from out of town. He peers up at the master’s face a burly, white-haired man with a strong build with a ruddy and weather lined face .”

“Why yes!” The Master answers with an animated sarcastic sprightliness. “I sure am! I’m the Captain of this whole big boat. Can you believe the luck?  All by myself!” Taking his pipe from his leathery lips he asks kindly. Pointing the pipe in Canard direction asking. “And what might your name be friend?”

“I’m Captain Canard; I’ll be leading the mission into the Tuck tonight.”

“Well, Captain Canard.” The master explains, pointing his pipe in Canard’s direction with a casual emphasis. “Now that we’re buddies and all, so well acquainted. Can I ask you a personal question?”

“Sure,” Canard answers.

The master thunders, “who the fuck told you that you could climb on board my vessel! You stupid son of a Bush!” The Master shrieks his bulging eyes alone chasing Canard from the bridge. “You got to the count of ten to get off en my boat b’fore I brain ya!”  

“But you don’t understand, I’m Corporate Security!” Canard answers defiantly, while backing down the ladder.

“No! Boy! You ain’t shit!” The master shouts. “On that dock you’re Corporate Security but when you step on my boat boy… you’re freight!  And when you climb on board my boat without asking permission first boy. You’re Bush! Now get the fuck off en my boat before I brain you!”

Canard’s beats his hasty retreat in full view of the men on the dock. Who struggle mightily withholding their obvious pleasure. Stripped bare of his faux authority. Canard stands sheepishly naked on the dock. Looking up towards bridge plaintively, as Andres waits. Then he waits some more, as his amateur status has now been exposed to the public.

Then he waits even more before snarling. “Captain Anderson! I’d like to speak to you.” His request was answered only with machinery noises. Now simmering near boil. Andres’s calls out angrily. “Captain Anderson as a Captain of the Corporate Security. Need I remind you I am the officer in command here! Need I remind you; that I could have you brought up on charges?”

The squad’s conversations grows quiet watching this spectacles escalation. Anderson emerges from the bridge wiping his hands on a grease rag. Before blowing his nose into it. He asks Canard, questioning him somberly from the railing on the bridge. “So, you’re the superior officer, are you?”

His bluff called; Canard nervously answers. “Yes! Yes… I am!” Moving the theatrics from street to legitimate theater. Adding, “and I don’t like your attitude! I’m considering whether to write you up!”

Anderson smiles back, nodding his head with a quirky little smile. Almost a shadow smile. “But you like my boat alright, don’t ya?” Shaking his head affirmatively at Canard. “But you don’t like my attitude much! But you do like my boat okay, don’t ya? Is that bout, right?”

 Nervously, Canard answers. Not really knowing what else to say he answers. “Yeah!”

Prompting the old man to laugh with a rolling bellicosity. “Do you know what this here corporation of yourn don’t own? In the whole of the Southern Region, they ain’t even got one!” Without waiting, Anderson answers hisself. “Tugboats!”

He returns to his laughter chuckling to himself, “Not one! So, Captain Canard, I don’t give a fuck who you think you are or what you think you’re doing! On my boat this in right here! I’m the superior officer and you’re freight… you got that?”

“Let me tell you something you son of a Bush!” Canard spits back angrily. “I’ve got connections in Thunder Bay. I got friends on the corporate council! And by the time I’m through with you. You won’t even be allowed to drink water. Let alone work on it!”   

“Good luck with that!” Anderson spits, “I’m a sub-contractor. In fact, I’m a sub contractor’s sub-contractor. And what’s even better than that. I’m a sub contractor’s contractor what owns the only tugboat in the whole Southern Region. Would you like to go for a ride on my boat Captain Canard? Everyone’s been so lookin forward to it… and we’ve all been just been waiting for you.”  

Canard simmers with rage and comeuppance asking. “What next then?”

“You ask for permission to come aboard my boat.”

Instantly, Andres answers asking, “permission to board?”

Anderson leads him by twirling his fingers. “Permission to board what?”

“Permission to board your boat!” Canard replies disdainfully.

“Nope, that’s not it!” Anderson answers sharp. Tapping his pipe on the handrail and shaking his head solemnly.

“Permission to board your ship. Your boat! Your vessel! What?”

“Permission to board – sir!” Anderson coos in his direction. “I’m a fucking  officer too! You damn Bush wipe!”

Canard wearily repeats. “Permission to board, sir!”

“Why certainly!” Anderson replies. Before cocking his head with an animated smile. “Welcome aboard!”

Once on deck, Canard motions to Peterson and his men to board the supply barge tied off a stern. Canard asks, “do I sit up on the bridge with you, Captain Anderson?”

“Oh, I think not.” Anderson says eying Canard caustically as he mutters. “You’d better wait in the wardroom;” pointing fraudulently casual. “Help yourself to some coffee.”

“Coffee,” Canard repeats?

“We’re not uncivilized around here you know.” The ship Captain grouses, “I’ll call you on the phone when we’re getting close.”

“The phone?” Canard parrots.

“Yes, the phone,” Anderson chirps. Climbing the ladder as Canard stumbles through the door tumbling into the wardroom. The tug’s engines bellow with a roar as the floor vibrates beneath him. As the craft’s motions begin to make Canard feel queasy. Andres tries to sit but then begins pacing the floor. Learning quickly from a saliva burst in his mouth that looking out the window was a very bad idea.

Water travel wasn’t Canard’s long suite, though it wasn’t a unique experience for the elite. Only un-common even among the higher corporate classes. Soon, long dark shadows overtook daylight’s spectrum on the river.

Capturing the colors and locking them away. Surrendering them only to the lights of man. Captain Canard believes he’s become acclimated to water travel. Patting himself on the back and taking credit for the darkness. The ringing phone startles Canard jolting him from his mental awards ceremony. Since leaving Thunder Bay the telephone had become a rarity with few to call and fewer still calling.

Picking up the receiver Anderson’s gravel voice shouts over the machinery noise. “Bout ten minutes Captain.” Then he abruptly hangs up. Andres, unsure of what to do next exits the wardroom for the deck. He’s adjusting his eyes to the night. Before blindly moving towards the stern and the barge in tow. Anderson turns on the spotlight searching the riverbank for a suitable landing site.

Somewheres wide enough to turn around without grounding. Anderson begins making his three-point turn. Backing the barge up to the shore as the men disembark. Under the spotlight trained with tactical precision Canard struggles with an unbalanced crossing of the walk-board from the boat to the barge. Andres bounding from the barge lands on all fours with his feet and hands stuck in the mud.  

A perimeter established; Peterson seeks Canard out asking. “Permission to go inland Captain?”  Andres, more concerned with wiping the mud from his hands and his new boots looks up unconcerned answering with a detached. “Yeah sure.”

Immediately the squad sweeps into the dark forest as gunfire erupts in the near distance after a few moments. Peterson sends a runner back with a status report.  Canard paces along the riverbank nervously never venturing far from the barge. Anderson throttles up the engines completing his turn making Canard jump by temporarily blocking his escape. Andres had been ready to leave before they arrived and now losing contact with home, even momentarily was unsettling. 

But it was only his rookie jitters showing. A runner returns with good news, seventy-two Outlanders killed. The squads return jubilant boasting of their exploits. And bragging loudly of their large month end kill bonuses to come. All the while, Andres wastes no time in reboarding the tug for home. Returning to his sanctuary of the wardroom, Andres dwells with bitterness upon his success.

He’s escaped without incident just as General Alford had predicted. But he could have been killed. Once outside of the corporate property of the Southern Region his job benefits wouldn’t apply. Andres hadn’t come here for this; he’d come here to escape but instead Andres had been captured.  Now it was he being exploited by others, and it left a very bitter taste in his mouth.

Canard disembarks in Sinsin city without a word of affection or gratitude for his men. Only acknowledging Peterson with, “I’ll need your written report ASAP.”

When next darkness again reigns Andres marches into the headquarters building fanning his shirt again. Complaining about the heat and again and is ignored again. Going directly to Alford’s office first reporting to the CS desk officer. Who making eye contact pushes the intercom, “Captain Canard to see General Alford.” Still standing silently staring. The C. S.O. gives him the once over commenting, “No worse for wear, I see.” Canard is in no mood and just looks away ignoring him.

Alford’s voice from the intercom calls Andres back to his office.  Canard is kept standing before the general’s desk, like a level one in trouble. The General takes his report and reads of it. Before sitting himself behind his desk saying. “Now… that wasn’t so bad now, was it?”

Canard fumes, “yes! It was! You blackmailed me into leaving a Corporate property!”

“Oh no,” Alford explains calmly. “You’re wrong. Here are your signatures; I know they’re genuine I forged them myself! I’ve learned your signature from the phony travel vouchers and cash reimbursements you’ve been submitting. So, let’s not go through this again Captain Canard. You can either do your job or you can push a turbine in the corporate prison for a megawatt or two. Think of this as a … resume’ builder!” 

Andres simmering hisses, “is that all?” The General’s enjoying Andres’s predicament thinks for a moment before answering. “For now… you may go.”

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