A Wasted Shot: Attention

If you cannot convince Alexander Hamilton to be your right-hand man, the war for freedom will be all but lost. Even if America wins the war on Great Britain, it will crumble in on itself if Hamilton should die in battle. The country’s future is in its hand. We cannot allow him to die, lest he take all of us with him.

I walked into the bathroom at Bunker Hill Community College and walked out of the bathroom at 157 Street Station, near the heart of New York City. Both locations were ideal for teleportation. The community college was practically empty in the late afternoon, and New York was, well, New York. It was so busy and crowded that no one could see that someone who didn’t go into the bathroom came out, even if they were paying attention. Which no one ever did. Native New Yorkers had mastered the art of ignoring their surroundings, and tourists were busy rushing to get to all the landmarks the concrete jungle was known for. I was just another face in the crowd.

As I made my way through the station, I passed by one of those bookstores that were present in every place of travel. A spot where people could grab a newspaper or book to keep themselves occupied or even just grab a souvenir or snack for the journey. I quickly changed my direction and walked into the store, not slowing down until I got to the books. There was only one shelf of non-fiction books. This was both a good thing and a bad thing. On the one hand, it limited my options, so that I didn’t waste the time that I knew I didn’t have. On the other hand, if the choices of subjects weren’t good, I would have to choose the best of the worst. I should’ve learned not to be too picky. It’s not like Alexander was. He loved to read, regardless of the subject.

For anyone else, I would’ve avoided all the biographies and memoirs written by current and former politicians, reporters, journalists, and commentators. But for Alexander, I made an exception. Maybe he’ll get a good laugh out of it, I thought to myself. I always told him he was way too serious. And when I tell someone that they’re too serious, something is wrong.

I purchased my book and barreled my way out of the station and down Broadway Street. This had been a less crowded part of the city since there weren’t many nearby landmarks, but ever since 2015 or 2016, it had become busier. This journey had become a little more difficult over the last four years I had to compete with tourists, all of whom had the same general look to them. Pretty much all of them had some kind of merchandise or piece of clothing that was black and gold, depicting a star with a man pointing to the sky. Even if I couldn’t see them, I could hear them. They were always singing the rap songs that had dominated the Broadway scene for almost half a decade. Most were around the age of my housemates. Some were a little younger. The rare few were older. And they were all headed in the same direction as me.

Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum. Built three-hundred twenty-three years ago, this majestic abbey was living evidence of America’s European routes. To me, it was reminiscent of York Minster Abbey, tucked away in the English countryside. It wasn’t just the church’s architecture. It was the gravestones, specifically, the oldest ones. They had the same shape as the old gravestones, a comparably thin slab with raised middles to make room for the intricate name carvings and epitaphs. The occasional grave markers still held the remains of those long gone. Long, stone coffins were slightly raised from the ground to ensure no one would step on the dearly departed and disturb them. 

It was easy to find the celebrities of the graveyard. They all had larger, more-complex memorials dedicated to them. John James Audubon—the naturalist who used to own part of the property that the cemetery was on—had a huge, decorative Celtic cross and a carving of his face. That always felt a little out of place to me. It’s not like the man donated the land. The church just got it after he died. But maybe I was biased. After all, the man was a huge, pompous bore.

The grave I cared about was the one that everyone cared about. This grave marker was hard to miss. It was raised above the ground by two steps. The white stone was kept as clean as was physically possible. Given that this grave marker was over two-hundred years old, they had done a very good job of clearing it of moss and dirt, as well as making sure that the weather didn’t wear it down to the point of illegibility. It was a square tomb, about five feet in length and width, with decorative urns at each corner and an obelisk in the middle that added at least four feet to the grave’s height. The steps up to the tomb were surrounded by fresh flowers of reds, whites, pinks, and magentas. To further decorate the resting place, there were dozens of little American flags.

I had to wait for about an hour before I could approach the grave. About five groups of tourists had gathered to take pictures and leave more flowers, flags, and items of tribute to the man who rested there. They only started to disperse the closer it got to closing time. I would have to cut down my time to five minutes.

Once the last of the tourists had left, I approached the tomb and read the words that I had read every time I came to visit.


The Corporation of Trinity Church has procured this

In Testimony of their Respect

The PATRIOT of incorruptible INTEGRITY.
The SOLDIER of approved VALOR.
The STATESMEN of consummate WISDOM.
Whose TALENTS and VIRTUES will be admired.

Grateful Posterity
Long after this MARBLE shall have moldered into DUST.

He died July 12th, 1804. Aged 47.

“I bet you’re loving all this attention,” I whispered, thinking back on the day we met.

August, 1775

It had been almost two years since Boston’s harbor ran dark from English tea, discarded in disgruntled protest. I was not born with powers of divination—I never got visions, and I could not predict the future. Yet, on that fateful night in December of 1773, I knew that I was witnessing the inciting incident of one of history’s greatest events. The world was never going to be the same.

I got that same feeling on that sweltering day in August.

It seemed like it would be a typical day, or what had become a typical day. Make money and  keep your head down. Don’t piss off the British Troops while you do everything you can to undermine them, the Parliament who sent them, and the King who was like the abusive husband of the colonies.

Over a century of bad blood and resentment was coming to a head. Hell, it came to a head when the Americans destroyed all of that tea. And it was going to get worse. A lot worse. I could tell. I could feel it.

The British had been occupying Manhattan for some time, and they were perfectly comfortable. Then, all of a sudden, they were retreating to the HMS Asia. She was a beast of a ship with sixty-four cannons, and she was just sitting there in New York Harbor, daring someone to give her a reason to open fire.

Someone met her dare head on. I couldn’t sleep that night. I knew something was going to happen, so I stayed awake, eventually leaving the comfort of my apartment to go for a walk. A single woman in the 1700s with her own apartment? It was unheard of, and yet no one questioned it too much. It paid to have powerful people in high places, especially when one of those powerful people was also the commander-in-chief of the American Army.

I allowed my feet to lead me to where I needed to be. I kept my eyes on the ground, not paying much attention to my surroundings until I felt that I could stop. When I looked up, what I saw was a moment in time that I would never forget. Maybe a hundred shadows, under cover of darkness, were sneaking into the British Battery. And when those shadows came out, they were dragging cannons with them.

I shook my head. I respected the heart of these revolutionaries—these American’s. But even I knew this was a fool’s errand. There was no way they would succeed, and their failure would be made all the heavier by their deaths.

There was nothing I could do but watch as a barge full of redcoats rowed to the Battery from the Asia. They were, of course, all armed with their iron ball muskets, and there were so many of them. To make things worse, the Asia turned broadside and started firing half of her cannons right at the nocturnal thieves. There was no way these men would survive.

So why was my intuition so strong?

The sun rose on the impossible. Not only had most of the American thieves survived the night, but they managed to get away with two-one cannons from the British Battery. I stood there all night, watching as the impossible sight unfolded before me, and I still couldn’t completely believe it.

As the new, nameless heroes of the revolution returned, I weaved my way through them and the celebrating citizens of New York. I was looking for someone specific. He was a shorter gentleman. In the middle of the fight, when the Americans were escaping with the cannons, he walked back towards the gunfire just to pick up his gun, left behind by the skittish friend he had lent it to.

Speaking of the skittish friend, there he was. He was a taller individual, clearly of Irish descent if his pale skin was any indication. Judging from the make-shift uniform, he was not someone with any military history. He was a craftsman, a tailor, or something that didn’t require much personal strength.

“Excuse me,” I said, coming up behind him. 

The skittish gentleman turned his attention to me and immediately smiled. “I’m flattered, lass, but I’m a married man.”

As much as I wanted to correct him, I felt at that moment, appealing to the obvious ego was the better choice. “More to the pity,” I said, doing my best to flash a smile. “Can you at least tell me who you and the rest of these men are?”

“Hercules Mulligan, at your service.” Hercules gave a flushing bow, politely taking my hand and pressing the back of it to his forehead in a polite, flirtatious greeting. “And this,” he said, gesturing to the tiny militia, “is the Corsicans.” I had heard of this group. They were all make-shift soldiers who were, or had attended, King’s College. Initially, I had ignored all stories about these men. I thought they were little rich boys playing at being soldiers and would turn tail the moment they saw legitimate combat. That was one of the few times I was very pleased to be wrong.

“Have a commander by any chance?” I asked.

“Yes, and I know for a fact that he is unspoken for,” Hercules answered with a wink. “Alexander!” he called over his shoulder. “You’ve got another admirer.”

The gentleman who answered Hercules’ teases was the short man who had walked back towards the fight. His heritage wasn’t so easy to determine on sight, suggesting a complicated background. But his ego was twice the size of Hercules’; I could feel it’s size and weight the moment Alexander turned his attention to me. He approached with a swagger and a crooked smile. “And what goddess’ generous attention have I been lucky enough to earn?” It took every ounce of strength not to laugh and his ironic purple prose.

“Ada, good sir. Ada Driscoll.” It was so very hard to come up with a new name every century that fit the times. “And what, may I ask, do I call you?”

“Alexander Hamilton, Lady Driscoll. If it takes fighting a war for us to meet, it will have been worth it.” Alexander mimicked Hercules’ bow, but he was daring enough to plant a kiss on the back of my hand. 

This was not the first time Hamilton’s name had reached me. Two of the highest officials in the Continental army had actively sought this man out to be their secretaries. Apparently, he had quite a way with words, especially when he used a pen to create them. He was also fiercely dedicated to the fight against the British Empire. So much so that being a secretary was completely unacceptable to him. He had declined both of the offers from Nathaneal Greene and Henry Knox. He was dead set on fighting on the battlefield, and he would do it, come hell or high water.

“Alexander Hamilton,” I repeated the name, getting used to the sound of it and the feeling that it left in my mouth. “Now that’s a name I don’t think anyone will forget anytime soon.” Even I wasn’t sure if I was teasing or not at that moment.

When I returned to my apartment that evening, I immediately went to my desk. I grabbed a fresh piece of parchment along with a quill and my inkpot. I began to write:

Your Excellency,

By the time this correspondence reaches you, you will have heard of the incredible feat committed by a group known as the Corsicans. You will know that this militia of no more than a hundred men managed to liberate twenty-one British cannons away from a battery near New York Harbour.

The leader of this group is a man you and I have both heard tales of before. Major Generals Greene and Knox both spoke of him in praise of his skills and in disappointment at his refusal to take their offers of work. Alexander Hamilton is his name.

You and I have known each other for many years, Your Excellency. You have said many times that my judgement and insight are valuable to you, so I hope you will heed my words now. If you cannot convince Alexander Hamilton to be your right-hand man, the war for freedom will be all but lost. Even if America wins the war on Great Britain, it will crumble in on itself if Hamilton should die in battle. The country’s future is in his hand. We cannot allow him to die, lest he take all of us with him.

Yours respectfully,

Ada Driscoll.

Adrestia (Kelsey Anne Lovelady)
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