Back at the Eagle's Nest, Anne Kazelka stirred more freshly poured yellow wine with a right index finger, leaving faint swirls of crimson as her nail polish decomposed.   "Sun's down, Nick..."

          Glenn started. "I told you – don’t call me that in front of people!"

          "Why not? What about Andy?"









          "Andy's not people," Glenn couldn't help retaliating, though aware of every breath that Burt Weston and Tom Beedle were taking as they pretended to concentrate on their meals. "He's wallpaper. Just don't call me Nick! Ever! Sorry... sorry folks.  Place brings back old haints…"

          Now Weston looked up. "I say... fuck parasites like Morrow. I've supported the working man for sixty years, all the way back to the McCarthy hearings in fourth-grade Civics... I've stood by the Democratic Party even when she was in the wrong, like in Vietnam or Clinton's flings with that girl and those cigars … and her husband’s problems too, hmph! … not to mention this black fellow selling out to the insurance bozos.  Saw through Trump like the window in a dollar store.  But what I keep hearing now is the desperation. What if the parties both bring back their old haints, Dems tack right with some geriatric technocrat or other and a decision is made to go the third party route, like Rayna wants?  Or the fourth, or fifth…"

          "Well, let me just stop you right there," Beedle retorted, furiously. "Scow, for one, would walk. He'd walk... like that!" and Beedle snapped his fingers. "And I would too... so would our infrastructure and all our outside money."

          "Walk? Where?" Weston asked, "...to the kids with pierced nipples outside? To Hillary Orange-is-the-New Black… now that Aygee Sessions brought up the indictments again?  To Tim Pain or Mike Fence?  Warren, maybe, or the space guy with Tesla, but that Black Muslim in Minnesota?  Jeb?  Trump?  Tillerman?  Oprah???"

          "No, that's where Rayna's going," Tom Beedle predicted. "They'll slink back to the Party, probably endure another ten or fifteen years' worth of humiliation, depending on how long the economy and environment hold out until nobody can cover up the damage, not even Elon fuckin' Muskrat… who is Canadian, by the way.  Dig this – and put it in the bank! – nobody but the psychopaths and retards with IQs under thirty really wants to be President now.  Pence?  Ted Cruz?  They just want a chance to usher Jesus into the Oval Office… that and publicity for their books!  They know we’re pinned down all over the world, broke, hated by everyone and the next economic crash around, maybe, summer of 2020… just in time for elections… will make the last one look like a cakewalk. Meanwhile, whatever the damage to the Coalition in the interim... it will be the direct responsibility of anybody in the movement who does not get back in line. That means doing your job, sticking to your assignments. That's why I'm here in this paleo-Nazi shit-hole… not with Morty at the tennis tournament back in Malibu with any number of my clients, or with Ratso at Mayor Potter's bash where the booze might not be top shelf, but there’s plenty of it. You, for example, are supposed to be our eyes and ears into what the hippies and zippie occupiers and rhubarb pies outside are cooking up for us now that some idiot... or worse... opened some back door to that roach motel that passes for a jail..."

          "Trust me," Glenn placated, lifting an arm as if to deflect a thrust from the butter knife Beedle was wielding in his fist. "Those protestors are up late sewing quilts for peace in Costa Rica, saving seals and building day care centers for battered hobos, searching dictionaries for new words they can call racist so’s to extort more apologies and money from celebrities... they're saving Spanish banks and Palestine and starving children, all at the same time, all in a hundred directions like an old car with two wheels going north and the other two west."

          "Don't fuck with me, Glenn," the attorney warned, emphasizing the point by actually jabbing at him with his knife before slicing off a fatty slab of sauerbraten. "I'm serious! Anything unpleasant that happens outside tomorrow or early Sunday takes the moral high ground away from Rayna's rabble," he said, impaling the meat and thrusting it between his lips, "and if it makes Potter look better by calling out the dogs, well, who's to know?"

          "Is that a hint, O King 'Enery..." Anne suggested.

          Glenn threw up his hands. "Christ! why even bring up those dismal people?"

          A nearby table of Conks from somewhere in the upper MidwestTillerman’s. probably… chose this moment to break out into a drunkenly exuberant Teutonic aria.

          "Remember, my friend," Tom Beedle said forcefully through the noise, "Americans are stupid, just like the Catfish says. Truly revolutionary doctrines advance only masked, behind bland facades. We might make fun of the mainstreamers for speaking in code, but we'll do the same... just that it'll be Coalition code. Hey, I didn't go out in the streets against Iraq, I thought it was sort of cool – at first. Like stealing a car... and getting away with it.  If nothing else, Bush was an idealist.  Loyal to Dad.  And then his successor, the Black Prince, wanting to keep our boys around to get shot at and arrested by UN troops once the Saudis and Iraniacs cut their ethnic cleansing deal in Baghdad… that's pure gravy.  Trust the Democrats to self-destruct without Jack… Obamacare won’t be the albatross round the party’s neck, it’ll be a fuckin’ anchor and that’s the real reason why the Koch Brothers leaned on their Tea Party toadies to save it.  We're looking at another race-driven Republican blowout, no matter how people resented the shutdowns, or how many minor parties get in the game, not even Tillerman.  And when the tax rate for billionaires gets cut to twenty four percent and the minimum wage to four bucks an hour, and the economy crashes again..."

          Anne shook her head. "Tom, Tom... Jack's only being ironic, or whatever it is that's being ironic about irony.  David Letterman is gone, Jon Stewart is gone, nobody but the Hillary hardcore watch the late shows anymore, and people can be educated! If you hold their hand through the process... my problem with the crap outside is that so many issues just make a muddle out of situations."

          "I don't know if it's a case of being stupid, as much as just being asleep," Weston said, laying down his fork, "but I do know you can't wake up a sleeping public with a sleeping Catfish. No need to go into details, but this attitude of remaining above the fray, letting things sort themselves out and then marching in to wave the flag over the result's starting to wear a little thin. If it had worked in sixteen, we’d be toasting President Sanders.  And I expect, and hope, you'll twitter this to Congressman Scow..."

          "Done!" saluted Beedle through a mouthful of meat.  "Call me the King of Tweets!  I’ll make the Donald flip his wig with all the tweets I’ll twitter…."

          "I'd just like to add that I spent the most miserable years of my life out on the streets… sometimes, mostly in meetings that went on and on forever… with people like Andy Morrison," Glenn volunteered, "and that was long after our parents’ idealism went out of fashion. I'm damned if I'll ever go back!"

          "And nobody's asking you to... as long as you, all of us, do our duty." Beedle sat back and burped contentedly, a thin strand of kraut flying from his mouth onto the tablecloth. "It's been a long evening and a heavy meal... I don't feel like dessert here, there might be better… and liquid… fare at the Mayor's little gathering. Maybe," he winked, "I can even find out the name of the rat who had that Claymore called back up to Washington so our right-wing maniac Governor gets to promote that bleeding-heart Judge Mastropolous to his seat, so he can let all the other rats out of our trap. Maybe even the fink who dropped a dime on Pinhead's cokehead pansy... oh, pardon me, Sodomite-American... who was supposed to keep us out of all of this trouble in the first place! That would be nice. Tasty!" He looked up and away from the other three. "Check please!"

          While the others reached for their belongings, Beedle stuffed a napkin into Glenn's hand and lifted his greasy, glistening lips to Glenn's ear.

          "My boy, I expect disagreeableness to happen at that demo, and here is the number you'll call to see that the disruption is disrupted. You know who and who not to tell. And, Glenn, if you don't do your job, the private sector will." He handed his Coalition platinum card up to the waitress. "Add a five percent tip to that, Helga! Glenn... all that comes out of any noble impulses is that somebody else gets to come in, and someone that didn't do their job has to go outside. It's cold, there... outside!"





          Back at the Sanctuary where cold was, for the moment, forgotten in the heat of argument, Andy was desperately trying to retrieve some threads of process. "Like... we're down to three hundred for the speakers. You want your Reverend... Tom, see that Flo here gets a free license for her beans and Bar-B-Que suppers. There's thousands of people coming, all the way from the capital and further... you'll get rich. OK? That's more the equivalent of a hundred-fifty dollar contribution, what's going to happen is that we are going to put you with the trusted people, up to five hundred; after expenses, you pay nothing... then in installments, half of the next three hundred, everything after that is yours. Tom'll work out the details if you want something in writing that..."

          "Stop! Stop! This is disgusting... I thought we had an understanding that this would be a cruelty-free zone. No meat!" Rael stood up, grabbed the milk crate she had been sitting on and hurled it out over the field of mattresses with their huddled masses. It came down, bouncing off a wino and skidded to knock over his bottle and, as Rael stormed out of the meeting, the wino began sobbing... long, low vulpine moans and lamentations...

          Andy finished rolling his cigarette and lit it. "Like she says, you keep the money, you keep the karma. Come back as a fly in the White House outhouse and don't say you weren't warned. So... I think we've resolved our food problem. Now... we're still down to three hundred for the speakers, which essentially means token payments, really token. I thought twenty for anyone not representing some group... it's honorary, won't even cover their transportation, but they didn't have to come here. Only so much vendor space to go round."

          Florence Croup stared back, popping her gum in hostile apprehension.

          "You going to sit still for this racist crap?" Richard Reid sat up, spitting another green gob into the cash on the table for all present to contemplate. "We've put up with liberal shit for so long... whatever happened to Revolution? How would you feel if someone left out of the process decided to get his back from you?"

          And in one motion, astonishing in its swiftness and precision from one so wasted, he pulled a buck knife and lunged, holding it to Fredrika's throat, glaring from Florence to Clark to Andy. "Now, whatcha gonna do? Liberals! Faggots! Democrats!"

          "Put-The-Knife-A-Way, Richard," Andy said, nodding almost imperceptibly towards the desk, from which Eddie noiselessly crept forward with a stout length of scrap wood.

          "It's part of Judgment," said Demian, attracting Reid's attention as his victim and her potential rescuers both frowned, uncomprehending. "Until you've made your bargain with the forces, it's..."

          At this, Eddie, having walked up behind Reid, delivered a clean, southpaw swing that connected with his left ear, sending him sprawling, bleeding…

          Another wino sat up, chortling "Home run!"

          Andy snatched up the knife.

          "Guess this more or less finishes tonight's entertainment," he declared. "Folks, if all the people who've taken booths pay what they've promised, we'll have money back to be argued over later. You are 86'd," he added, glaring at Richard Reid, who'd sat up, feeling his ear with more surprise than apparent pain. "Richard, as soon as this is over, the people are going to deal with you. That's the way it's going to be. Personally, I'd start thinking about relocation to another time zone."

          "Fuck the people!" Reid called out, defiantly. "Fuck you! Gimme back my knife."

          "No fuckin' way, not even after you come down. Now split; you're not wanted here.”.

          "You and this ol' nigger ain't man enough," Reid answered, rising into a crouch, eyes darting from Andy to Eddie... circling the room, as if honestly expecting followers to step forth from the crowd, back to Andy.  “Bitch enough… scuse me!”

          "Look at this, Mister asshole Zimmerman," Florence declared, taking a cheap but effective-looking handgun from her purse, aiming it at his belly.

          "You wouldn't dare," Reid sneered, opening his arms wide in a posture that imitated a crucifixion - if the Romans had thought to garb their victim in a pukestained blue and yellow Hawaiian shirt. "Think these people here care... hell, they're the enemy of all your kind!"

          "You sure of that?" she asked. Richard glanced around the Sanctuary again... most shelter patrons were either on their feet or struggling to rise. Many of regulars held something awkward, but possibly dangerous - a stick, a length of chain. One old man was unlacing his battered but heavy shoe when, in rapid succession, one wine bottle whizzed past Reid's right ear and smashed against the wall, another nicked his injured left ear and exploded on the floor. Then, a half-filled can of ABM malt liquor struck his knee, spinning away as it spewed its contents over the floor.

          Then came the shoes... one shoe, two shoes…

          Richard Reid straightened, facing the mob like Frankenstein's monster against the peasant army come with their pitchforks and torches, brushed past Andy without speaking, marched to the door.

          "Ain't seen the last of me!" he shouted after turning to stand down his tormentors, lifting a thumb and finger into a firing position. "I'll remember you. Gonna smoke you... every one of you, even those ones of you from out of town.  Gonna make you forget about them schools in Connecticut and Florida n’ that guy in Vegas; I'm a hunter! There's gonna come a time every one of you motherfuckers will have to get down on your knees before me, and it won't do you any good. I'm gonna waste you, waste your kids, your family, your second cousins! Your dogs. Your second cousin has a dog, his dog! I got my training from the best... Mark Cobb, ask him!" he added, pointing to Andy. "He's the one you really ought to be afraid of! He's the psycho! Remember!" he added, and stormed out into the night.

          Andy shrugged towards his army.

          "So," he said, easing Reid's knife into his belt, "now that the ambassador from Trumpland has departed, I think we have reached consensus and can go to whatever we call home and get to fuckin' sleep. Lotta work to do tomorrow..."

          "I smell something burning..." Demian interrupted.

          "Fire! Trash fire!" Tom pointed. Eddie, nearest the conflagration, stomped one unlaced work-booted foot down on the wastebasket and charred, smoldering liberation leaflets urging solidarity with Costa Ricans, West Virginia mineworkers and Maine welfare recipients leaped up, showering sparks and cinders all around the debating parties, almost all of whom immediately forgot their differences and rose to the task of stomping them to ash.

          "This is irregular American process," Ketti declared, standing aloof while charred shards of global struggle wafted past. "I must record objection..." Andy looked down to discover his sleeve afire. He beat at the flames distractedly, eyes rolling up towards the cracked, menacing ceiling as a shelter sleeper turned and began to howl...

          "Register it som'more else, lady. Hey Eddie, turn dat silent movie TV up. S'time for... hic... "Cop On The Run!" Yooo... Tony!" 









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