December, 1634

Julio stacked clean glasses under the bar. "Damn it Ken! I don't know what's got you riled but I'm sick of it! Back off or I'm goin' home. I don't have t' have this job. I only took it to help you out."

Julio didn't mention his fear of losing his regular job to what he thought of as cheap foreign labor. The fear drove him to drink, something he'd done little of before the Ring of Fire. He did his drinking in the one place a man didn't have to put up with "krauts." This led to a part time job.

****

Julio had been sitting at the bar, contemplating the world at the bottom of his beer, when Ken yelled, "Julio!"

He looked up and said, "Yes?"

Ken Beasley calmed down immediately. "I'm sorry, Mister Mora. I'm almost out of glasses and I was yelling at my dish washer. I forgot he quit."

"You need a dish washer?" Julio tipped his beer, set the empty down on the bar and headed for the swinging door to the kitchen.

"Hey, the bathroom's that way." Ken pointed.

"I know," Julio answered.

"Where're you goin'?"

"To wash dishes."

Someone called out, "Hey, Ken, where's my beer?" First things first, Ken took care of the customer, then another one, then he cleaned up a spill. By this time there was a tray of glasses under the bar. Glasses and customers kept coming. The stack stayed topped off and all the glasses were clean. Ken quit checking.

At closing, Ken remembered someone was working for him that he hadn't hired. He found Julio mopping the kitchen floor. To Ken's disappointment Julio would only take the job part time. Short of hiring a kraut, what was he going to do?

****

"Sorry, Julio," Ken said. "It's the damned krauts."

Julio relaxed. Ken had his full sympathy. The Ring of Fire changed everything, mostly. He still spent third shift mopping, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, and washing windows at the bank and elsewhere. Food had changed. Bread didn't come pre-sliced in plastic bags. Canning jars came up out of the basement. Pepper had to be ground. Salt didn't come in round boxes anymore. Ken had him take an ice pick and make the holes in all of the salt shakers bigger, but getting it out was still a problem. The big difference, though, was "the krauts."

"I'm sorry," Ken continued. "I'd hardly gotten to sleep last night when, at the crack of dawn, a bunch of damned krauts woke me up singing hymns off key, right out side my window!"

"What're you talkin' about?"

"My neighbor, damned hypocrite, is letting a bunch of damn bible-thumping krauts use his storage shed for a church," Ken said.

"They can't do that! It's not been consecrated. You can't have a church without an altar, or an altar with out a relic. The saint has to be installed by a bishop. They sure wouldn't put one in a garage." Julio didn't get to Mass as often as he should, but knew his catechism from when he was an altar boy. "When the cops stop in, you tell 'em about it. If people can complain about us making noise late at night, then they ought'a do something about the krauts waking you up."

"The cops?" Ken growled. "Just great! What in hell are they doin' here?"

"They're here every Sunday," Julio said. The police investigated every complaint. As sure as God made little green hypocrites, one of the old ladies in town called the station after Sunday dinner and complained.

****

As Julio predicted the cops showed up on a noise complaint.

The cops were Hans and Hans. One was Hans Shruer, the other was Hans Shultz. Ken Beasley couldn't remember which was which. It didn't matter. They came in a matched set, Catholic and Lutheran. It was too bad the sign on the door, "No Dogs And No Germans Allowed," didn't apply to cops.

As cops went, Hans and Hans were all business. If they talked to each other about anything else, it ended in an argument about religion. They sure couldn't talk of families. Hans Shruer had watched from the hill while a Catholic troop burned his home, raped his mother and sister and tortured his father. Hans hated Catholics, collectively and individually. The only redeeming fact in a Catholic's favor was he would be spending eternity in Hell. The sooner he got there, the better.

Hans Shultz's family had been well off before the Lutherans came. They lost over half of the family and everything but the clothes on their backs. Compared to Hans Shultz's attitude towards Lutherans, Hans Shruer was a soft spoken, forgiving moderate.

"You want to talk about noise?" Ken blew up. "What are you going to do about those damned Baptists waking me up at the crack of dawn with their singing?"

"Mister Beasley, you live over a mile from the Baptist church, and they start at ten," Hans Shultz said.

"Well, maybe it wasn't dawn but I'd just gotten to sleep. And I'm talkin' about the ones who've moved into the garage behind my house!"

A blond haired, heavy set man in a plaid shirt sitting at the bar spoke up. "They ain't Baptist. That's why they got thrown out of the church. They're Anna Baptist. But I got no idea who Anna is."

Jimmy Dick called out, "Read your bible, Bubba. Anna Baptist is John Baptist's sister."

Julio spoke up to straighten Jimmy Dick out. "Anna is the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of God." He had stacked a half full tray of glasses on the pile under the bar as an excuse to leave the sink when the cops showed up.

"Well, if that don't beat all," Bubba said. "No wonder they got tossed. It's bad enough, the Catholics worshipin' Mary. Now you got people worshipin' her mother! Humf." He snorted. "Sssshit! Does that make her the grandmother of God?"

****

At the accusation that Catholics worshiped Mary, Hans Shultz started to object. Veneration is not worship. It might be a small hair to split, but the difference is very important to knowledgeable Catholics. At the words "Anna Baptist" Hans lost all interest in straightening out one ignorant, obnoxious up-timer.

"Anabaptist?" Hans Shruer asked in a shocked voice.

"Yeah." Bubba agreed. "That's what I said. Anna Baptist."

Hans and Hans looked at each other in apprehension bordering on fear.

Hans Shultz spoke slowly in a soft voice, as if it were bad luck to speak the name aloud. "Anabaptist."

****

Ken was very good at reading people, especially people who were scared or angry or just plain crazy enough to start a fight. Fights were bad for business. Hans and Hans suddenly needed watching. "What's wrong with Anna Baptist?"

"Mister Beasley, they're trouble! Every one knows that! Even the English heretics have outlawed them! They are . . . what is the word . . . people without respect for authority, who do whatever they please, without concern for decency or order."

"Red necks?" Bubba volunteered.

Hans ignored him.

"Antichrist?" Hans Shruer supplied cautiously.

"That will do. I was looking for anarchist. Anabaptists are anarchist, rebels, nihilists, fanatics, troublemakers! Luther, Calvin, the king of England and the pope all outlawed them!"

"Sounds like red necks to me," Bubba said.

"Shut up, Bubba," Ken said. "So what's so wrong with Anna Baptist?"

"They do not give proper respect to the civil authorities. Their practice of re-baptizing strikes at the very root of Christianity. They want to tear the church down and start over, their way. Have you heard of Münster?" Hans Shruer asked.

Ken shook his head.

"A thousand Anabaptists took six wives each, declared the city of Münster an independent republic. It took war to stop them!" You don't need all the facts completely right when you are spreading slander.

Bubba was on a roll. "Sounds like my kind of red necks. Six wives? Where do I join up?"

Ken tried to shut him down. "Shush up! You can't handle the woman you've got or you wouldn't be in here every other night, drinking."

"Do you know of the peasant's revolt?" Hans Shultz asked.

Ken shook his head.

"They nailed priests to the doors and burned the churches. They raped the nuns. They burned manor houses, convents, castles, entire villages. They drank the cellars dry, looted . . . "

"Sounds like red necks to me," Bubba said.

"I said shut up, Bubba!"

Hans ignored the interruption. " . . . every thing they could carry and burned everything they couldn't. Even Luther condemned them.

"It took the armies from four countries to put the revolt down, and the nobles back in charge. Anabaptists are evil incarnate." The last four words were rote dogma.

"We need to tell the chief! He needs to do something before it gets bad."

"Like what?" Ken asked. "Run them out of town?" Hans and Hans didn't catch the note of sarcasm.

"That would work," Hans Shultz said.

"Like hell it will!" Bubba didn't catch the note of sarcasm either.

"Shut up, Bubba," Ken said.

"Hey, Ken. What cha' got against religious freedom?" Bubba asked.

"I ain't got nothin' against it, Bubba. I just don't want it in my back yard."

****

Later in the night, Lyndon Johnson stopped in. Departmental policy required a follow up call to anyone making a complaint after an investigation.

"Mister Beasley," Lyndon said with the serious demeanor he used for official police business, "Hans and Hans said you want some people run out of town and they agree with you.

"The two of them were adamant. Hans said 'the disease-carrying vermin should be exterminated for the good health of the community and the general improvement of mankind.' They were distraught and sure there would be trouble. Chief Richards told me to check it out and file a report."

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- The Grantville Gazette Staff