. Atlantic Affair by John Waller
Freedom Books and Plays

THE ARRIVAL OF THE BLACK AND TANS

In the weeks of Peter's absence, Con had changed more than he dared to realise. Each day, during the long summer of 1920, had strengthened the bands of resistance against the bondage of suppression. Centuries of an unaccepted overlordship were being rolled back by the diehards and fanatics, and in their wake came Con; for Con was ensnared in the "Fight for Freedom", so soon to echo round the world of those that cared and to be written off by the rest in a masterpiece of understatement as "the troubles". Con had been recruited by Martin McCarthy.

* * * * *

As Con’s match flickered to life, he counted three silhouettes in the confused lights of the moon, car headlights and a thick yellow haze from the staircase. He threw it into the bundle of straw, only a few feet from where he stood. A blinding burst of flame lit the empty room and sped down the path created from his petrol can. Instinctively, he followed his instructions, numb even to the shouting voices which had not been part of his briefing. As a rat from a burning haystack, he fled through the open door. In the clear night air, shots sounded only yards away, and a groan nearby made his blood run cold.

* * * * *

Those with revolvers in their belts fired to left and right. It was an ambush indeed. Blazing acetylene headlights lit up the foreground, but on either side of the road lay darkness and enmity. As men fired their bullets into that darkness, the first truck slowly pushed aside the hastily erected barrage.

“Back men, let’s go!” called a husky voice and in the partial silence that followed only two further shots were fired at the stark ruin of the barracks. From behind the wall came a piercing cry. Martin, knowing victory was his, had stood up to watch the shambles of his enemy slink away in defeat. It was this last bullet which entered his body – another night’s work had taken its toll.

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