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Dr Archeville

[Masks Vignette] Laces and Braces

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Laces and Braces

June 21, 2010

“So, whaddya think?”

The steel helmet sat on the bed, empty and waiting. It wasn’t exactly a masterwork – obvious signs of soldering and the marks of a blowtorch stood out under careful examination – but for what it was, it wasn’t bad. Joe Macayle had spent the past few weeks working on it, and his little brother Andy was currently running his hands over it.

“It’s not bad... you’re sure this was how it looked?”

“I’ve been reading the files on Granddad for months. They’ve got a lot of photo references on that helmet. And a lot of physical photos, which I don’t think I ever needed to see.”

“I’ll take your word for that. Is there anything else? Going for a Spartan look?”

“Nah, I’d look like crap in leather undies. ‘Sides, it’s not like I need armor or anything. It’s more to cover up my mug than anything else.”

“So, what else are you gonna wear?” Andy realized just what Joe was going to wear as he went for the closet. “Joe, you’re not really --”

“Yeah, I am,” he said, throwing the clothes on the bed. A few old MA-1 flight jackets in shades of red, black, and green; jeans, blue and black; suspenders in various colors; and a beat-up pair of Doc Martens with black laces. On top of it all was a white T-shirt depicting a cannon firing into the air.

“I’m just saying, the whole city’s gonna be looking at you, wondering who this new guy is, and... well, dressing like a skinhead might not win you any favors.”

“Not at first,” Joe said. “I know that much. But if I get out there, I can at least try to clear things up. Show ‘em that we ain’t all a bunch of terminally stupid Nazi bootlickers.”

“Yeah, but until that happens, they might just think you’re one of ‘em.”

“Look, when Granddad went into the war, he did it to serve his country. But he also did it to show that you could be a socialist and still stand up for America. Same thing here.” Joe started laying out the pieces on the bed, trying to find out what worked best. “I wanna show the world what it really means to be a skinhead. Not this hate-filled abortion the boneheads put together, but to stand up together with no mind for borders or barriers, ‘cause we’re all down fighting the same fight, day in and day out --”

“Dude, I heard the speech when you gave it to Mom and Dad. And hey, it’s your choice.” Andy took a look at the clothes assembled on the bed. “Good luck, though.”

“Thanks.” At this point, Joe was laying out a red jacket and comparing it with a black pair of thin suspenders. “This might work...”

“Man, there’s a lot of this stuff. And I thought red was out.”

“Eh, that usually just pertains to laces and braces.”

“What?”

“Laces...” Joe held up the pair of Doc Martens. “And braces.” He held up the suspenders to compare. “Red’s the color most people know – boneheads usually tote ‘em around after they’ve beaten the crap out of someone. White can carry the same meaning, though – ‘white pride’ and all that crap. Black, yellow, and blue are usually neutral, but in some cases they mean you’re a SHARP, like me. ‘Course, it all depends on where you are – some places, red can mean you’re a Communist, and white might not mean anything at all. And that’s if you actually ascribe meaning to ‘em...”

“All right, I think I’ve had enough of the fashion plate talk. Though I’m guessing some guys end up getting yelled at if they don’t wanna play.”

“Eh, usually you look for the secondary signs. If a guy in the pit’s got red laces, red braces, and an Iron Cross tattoo across his back, it’s pretty safe he ain’t part of the Rainbow Coalition.” Joe lay out his jeans across the base of the bed, then stepped back. “Whaddya think?”

Andy took a look over the assembled combo. “Red jacket, the T-shirt, black braces, black jeans, black boots... lots of black...”

“Well, I figure I’m gonna be doing a lot of night patrol,” Joe said. “Plus, blue jeans just make it seem like I ain’t trying. And the red jacket’s got my SHARP patch on it, so it’ll show which side I’m really on.”

“And why the T-shirt?”

“It goes with the name. I wanna go for the whole ‘show of force’ thing.”

“Well, as long as it’s not ‘Blitzkrieg.’” Andy paused. “Uh, Joe... remember what you were saying about colors?”

“Yeah?”

“Red jacket, black pants, generally white T-shirt...”

“Yeah, what about -- ****.”

“That’s what I was thinking, too.”

“Maybe not a good idea...”

“Going around like a walking Nazi flag? Yeah, no. Maybe you could switch over to the blue jeans, or maybe the green jacket--”

“Then again...”

Andy looked at Joe. “Oh, God, you really can’t be thinking it.”

“Look, you know as well as I do that this town’s got problems that go way beyond the boneheads. White Knight, his Crusader fanboys – not to mention whatever relic of the Third Reich comes charging out of the past.” Joe picked up the jacket. “These colors represent more than some bigoted madman’s dead empire. And I want them to know that.”

“...well, on the plus side, it’s going to be a skinhead dressed up like a Nazi flag punching the stuffing out of actual Nazi skinheads. It’s not like that’s the weirdest thing anyone’s seen in Freedom.”

“Yeah. And hopefully, it’ll get people wondering.” Joe smiled. “And hey, if that doesn’t work, there’s always the green jacket.”

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