The town of Alabama City, Alabama stands nearly indistinguishable from many of the surrounding communities in the southwestern part of the state. Established in 1834, the city was originally a trading post for ships and barges coming down the Alabama River. In the 1800s Alabama City hoped to become the most important port city in the South, but the discovery of the Mississippi River several years later soon put all those dreams to pasture.
Flash-forward to 2008, and the town still hadn’t made much of a dent in the collective consciousness of fellow Alabamians, and definitely not Americans who weren’t from Alabama (Non-Alabamians). Yet that all changed in the summer, fall, spring, and winter of that fateful year when John G. McNamara ran for city council. If Alabama City was praying to put itself on the map, then John G. McNamara was an answer from the gods.
A Man with a Plan for Revenge
McNamara doesn’t strike you as a man from AC. He’s just as tall as anyone else who is as tall as he is, and when he walks, he walks forwards and with confidence. His parents were both goat-farmers, but his grandparents were anything but. With brown eyes, and even browner hair, McNamara very much looks the part. His smile is warm. As are his hands. And his feet. John McNamara has great circulation.
That’s another one of the things that sets him apart, and one of the main reasons his initial campaign was so successful. John, like most politicians, did not grow up in Alabama City, but actually further east in the small town called Hamington. That was where McNamara saw firsthand just how cruel a city legislature can truly be.
McNamara never forgot nor forgave what happened to all of his goats and all of his parents, and vowed to one day run for city council so he could exact some sort of vengeance even though it would be in a different town and not involve any of the same people. But vengeance is a fickle friend in that way. It knows no race or gender, no creed or religion. All vengeance knows is more vengeance. Revenge is its shield and retribution its mace.
And not the kind of mace that you spray on hopeful rapists or thin-haired protesters. The kind that barrel-chested gladiators would swing at pompous slaves or use for the Crusades during their summers off. Because at the time swords were already becoming outdated. And bows and arrows were but a myth.
Alderman Was Never Going to Be Enough
McNamara first ran for Third District alderman in the year 2000. It was a landslide victory for the recent college graduate. The incumbent alderman (the aptly named Falderman) had met with scandal during the previous year when court records surfaced showing that not only had he been born in a different state, but that he may not have been born at all. With rumors circulating that Falderman may be a ghost, McNamara was able to run an inexpensive, risk-free campaign that won him the seat and all the lands and titles that come with it.
But McNamara had his sights set higher. He knew he could likely maintain his alderman status as long as he wanted, and would likely be named Supreme Alderman within the next three to six years. But McNamara had eyes only for the city council. The elaborate plan he enacted to gain that seat would rock Alabama City, Alabama State, and Alabama Country for years to come.
In the coming days, we will detail John McNamara’s tragic history, his thirst for revenge, and the fallout.
The Gold Standard for City Councils
To understand where McNamara came from, one has to travel to where McNamara came from. Talk to its citizens. Eat their food. Maybe see if that waitress is single. The City of Hamington isn’t known for much. But their motto, “We’re Proud a What We’re Knownfer [sic]!,” announces a city with some swagger. It’s known for two things: a ruthless city council and a goat population the envy of petting zoos the world over.
Bring up the city council at a saloon or the local goatery and you’ll hear upwards of seven stories. The city council holds Guinness World Records for longest, shortest, and widest meetings. They’re famous for keeping the most accurate minutes. The city council has even held two meetings simultaneously at the same time. Put simply, Hamington’s council was and is the gold standard for Alabama city councils.
Contrary to the council’s fame, the goats’ popularity remains a mystery. Some say it’s because Hamington was home to the very first goat. Some say it’s because Hamington was home to the very last goat. No one knows for sure.
But those very same no ones could never have predicted that Hamington’s claims to fame would violently intersect at the McNamara Farm. The no one who could have never predicted it the most was the McNamara’s youngest son, John. The guy from earlier. Because he was probably six at the time. All he cared about was the annual goat harvest.
The 1980s were a raucous good time for the entire state of Alabama, and South Alabama was no different. The war was over. Everyone was rich, even the goats. In the summer of 1986, the city council decided it was time to celebrate all that Hamington had accomplished. They planned a fireworks show and asked the McNamara family to host it, since their farm resided at the highest point in the city.
Todd McNamara, John’s father, initially protested, claiming it was far too dry. But the city council insisted, saying that they’d already set up the display and couldn’t find the receipt.
“The city council never takes ‘no’ for an answer and that’s probably why they’re famous,” said one resident who asked to be named later.
Then, the Fateful Day Arrived
June 5 rolled around, and the whole city gathered near the farm to enjoy the fireworks and complimentary glasses of piping hot goat’s milk. The McNamaras all went out on the front porch to do the same. All except for John. He was looking for his favorite goat, Taog, who had wandered off.
Todd’s fears were realized as soon as the show started. The field near their house caught fire almost immediately, and flames quickly engulfed the house. None of the McNamaras, save John, survived. It was basically like that scene in “A New Hope.”
Upon his return to the house, John saw the devastation. It would only get worse for him when he found out that Taog had been eaten alive by atheists. And it’s that same John McNamara who filed to run for city council in early 2008: a determined politician on the outside, but inside still an angry, lonely six-year-old orphan holding a half-eaten goat head.