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American Flag (standard:science fiction, 1740 words)
Author: Saxon ViolenceAdded: Dec 03 2012Views/Reads: 3587/1020Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
In a future totalitarian America, the old "Stars-and-Stripes" Flag is Forbidden. Meanwhile an enigmatic strangers sits at a black market bar sipping Scotch.

American Flag 

“Single malt Scotch, and a glass of water no ice,” The man said. 

“This is a free tavern and Single malt Scotch is expensive,” The Barkeep
told him in a way that was almost confrontational. 

The neighborhood taverns carried the subsidized brands of beer and
liquor for the most part, and took rationing cards. Free taverns, 
though perfectly legal, sold drinks at black market prices and didn't 
ask for ration cards. Even the foul beer and the rotgut liquor turned 
out in most of the nationalized breweries would be marked up three or 
four hundred percent in a free tavern. 

The stranger simply sat and glared at the Barkeep, until he relented and
fetched his drink. 

“That will be fifty new dollars,” the Barkeep informed him. 

The man fished a wad of folded-in-half bills from his jacket pocket. The
orangebacks were notably longer and wider that the old greenback 
dollars and people had different ways of coping with the bulk. Some 
people said that the unwieldy size was one more example of government 
incompetence, but others said it was to make it more difficult to move 
large amounts of money around. 

At any rate, the stranger handed a fifty-dollar new bill—a reasonable
week's pay for a journeyman carpenter or mason—what few of them were 
gainfully employed nowadays, without batting an eye. 

The man used his fingers to transfer a few drops of his water to his
Scotch—not much—less than a fluid ounce in perhaps five ounces of 

“Old school,” The Bartender thought, and sat regarding his latest
customer dourly. 

The man simply reeked of trouble. He was a large, broad-shouldered,
fiftyish man. His gray streaked hair, unfashionably long, hung down 
well below the collar of his suit jacket. He was dressed in solid 
black—black jeans, black western boots and a neat black “T” shirt under 
the expensive black suit jacket. 

Perhaps the man's “T” shirt was his single concession to the sweltering
hot summer nigh—although the bar was a cool sixty-eight degrees. 

The man had a silver and turquoise cross hanging around his neck, a
thick silver and turquoise bracelet on his left wrist, and a big silver 
ring with a big turquoise set on his left ring finger. He had a big 
gold and amethyst ring on his right ring finger. 

He had a scarred face, a fierce countenance and a nose that had been
broken too many times. He sat and sipped his Scotch without any undue 
haste. He was starting his fourth when a squad of Peacekeepers came in. 

Peacekeepers tended to be boisterous and sometimes destructive. They
shook down everyone and everything, and they could probably afford the 
free tavern prices—not that any Bartender in his right mind would ever 
attempt to charge them. Everything was “On the House” and an accepted 
cost of doing business. 

As a matter of fact, this bar was a favorite Peacekeeper hangout. The
owner had enough pull to get his own generator—so neither the 
refrigeration, lighting nor air conditioning went out during one of the 
rolling blackouts or brownouts that were becoming more and more common. 
Also, they always had the finest food and liquor. 

There were eight of the Peacekeepers. They lost no time in sitting at a
double table and ordering a huge supper with drinks for all of them. 

The bartender hurried to get them their first round of drinks and assure
them that their suppers would be done shortly. 

“I'd feel obligated if you boys would let me charge that first round to

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