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BLACK HELICOPTERS

EPISODE 32

SATURDAY the EIGHTH - 10:56 AM

          The Supervisor of the gray-uniformed City workers was still shuffling microphones and cables when Andy approached him. He was short, red-faced and short-tempered, and shoved an official form at Andy. "Ready to go! Hurry up and sign off on this, I got men with families..."

          "Sure! Sure!" Andy said, glancing down the form. "Say, all your guys are already clocked out at noon..."

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          "Hey, we were here before eight!" bleated the union man. "You gotta problem with that?"

          "I just want to test the speaker system... OK? Five minutes, OK, ten maybe... unless somebody's fucked the connections up."

          The Supervisor curled his lips and shrugged, raising his hooded eyes toward the stage. "Wise guy! Just because some people still work for a living doesn't mean we fuck up... yo, Billy! Elvis here wants to test the speakers." A civil servant poked his head up out of the control bank, hair only slightly longer than the City standard. Andy recognized him... bassist in a band that used to play round the U. a decade past, a few benefits for what people were doing benefits for in those days. Still played, according to listings in the Urinal, only now for an impersonation – check that, tribute – combo, Boston, Toto, one of those... doing frat parties, Holiday Inns and such, never far off the Interstate. He stared back at Andy, eyes a pair of flashlights with very, very weak mnemonic batteries, trying to shine through heavy fog.

          What was his name?

          "Get on the board!" the Supervisor roused him.

          News continued emanating from the ghetto blaster at the precipice of the City's stage. "Fires continue burning in Olympic National Park but the real story, says the Secretary of the Interior, is how much of the park is not burning. Now back to our request line..."

          Andy reached for the microphone, tapped it. Dead. He whistled a few bars of old Motown, tapped it again. Still dead. Emil Hill moseyed towards the stage, expensive reptile boots brown with dust.

          "Uh... I have a request," said someone on the ghetto blaster. "Uh... could you play, like Herman's Hermits... I'm into something good?"

          Emil waved.

          "Sure," said a friendly DJ. "And who am I speaking to?"

          "Roy. Roy Cohn."

          "Roy Cohn?" Andy wondered aloud as Hill made a gunbarrel of his index finger, rotated it next to his head. "Cut that thing off!" he ordered the City supervisor.

          "Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light..." Andy began scatting, unamplified, as the music was cut off, "... all power to powerful perverts, the fascist insect preying on the pulpits of the people. I been working on the railroad called We the People of the United States... when you go to San Francisco, be sure to wear some  Bill Ayers in your hair. It's crying time again, I'm gonna leave you... Ho, Ho Chi Minh, NFL is gonna win... and you had..."

          The Holiday Inn guy... furiously tweaking dials and shifting wires... finally made the right connection and Andy's voice boomed out over the park, even across the street to Masty Hall...

          "...a do, whack-a-do, whack a... first thing that we do, Emil, is whack all of the lawyers..."

          He stepped away from the microphone, staring down at Hill and the giddy-looking young delegate in a dark Hillary Clinton pantsuit and shimmering Conk dogtags accompanying him. Behind his back, a fierce little old man carrying something crumpled up, dangling from a rope, began scuttling up the steps and creeping towards the unprotected live mike...

          Andy squatted at the front of the stage so his words wouldn't be broadcast. "Emil," he warned, "we're expecting an accounting of every penny you shake down from this demo."

          "Of course!" agreed the lawyer. "We're both professionals, aren't we? Not that it'll amount to beans... this could have been good, real good, all..." and he waved a desultory wrist, "...pffht! Remember those first discussions back before Christmas? We could have brought in some first-class sounds, done a concept album. I've heard the Surf-Qaidas were interested!" Emil pretended to dry an imaginary tear. "And what happened to the books, t-shirts, all that shit?"

          Andy waved him off. "Ask Pinhead! You didn't have to make all those calls and send e-mails through the University library system saying we were off... I did, so of course all the people who sat on their butts waiting for money to drop out of the sky want to crucify me. What did they expect? That we invite the whole world in and forget to tell them it was an illegal assembly?"

          "They'd have had legal advice..." Emil reminded him.

          "At the price of having their heads bashed in without anybody knowing what they were being martyred for, especially themselves.  That kind of manipulation died with Abbie, Jerry and Pigasus. If you were going to..."

          But the rest of what he wanted to say was abruptly drowned out by an angry old voice at the microphone.

          "...part of the PLO terrorist faction that works with the Communists and Civil Rights movement!" Andy, turning, saw the old man grinning into the mike and rose. "Never again! Never again! The Coalition for a New Consensus is just the latest front for the..."

          Andy tried to guide him away - the old man threw a well-intentioned but glancing punch to his shoulder. The fetish he'd been dangling dropped to the boards and a City supervisor pinned the zealot from behind, guiding him towards the steps. With a last, pathetic unmiked "Never again!" he descended sulfurously into the steadily growing throng.

          Andy picked up the discarded object, looking up as a UN helicopter made a pass over the park, its rotors thumping and humping, halfway drowning out Emil's remarks.

          "What'cha got there?" was all Andy heard.

          "Barack Obama, I think, wearing a noosetie.  O.J.?   Or, maybe, Kanye?  Jesse Jackson… heard he’s in town, hyping that new black party.  Guess the Klan's made it to town after all." He crumpled the grinning rag darkie in his fist. "Who's your friend?"

          "Orville Creighton, sir," the man said eagerly. "CNC delegate from the Massachusetts Transgender coalition. Just wanted to thank you personally for the hospitality you folks have shown us. Why... I don't know just which way to turn, there's so much to see and do. That motion picture theatre you have, showing movies about peace?  I've waited years to see some of them..."

          "Wunnerful, wunnerful, enjoy your stay..." Andy sped him along, casting a second glance at the old Embassy.

          The supervisor from the City started tapping on the microphone. "If it's alright with you, we're going to start breaking down now."

          "What for?" Andy replied as Creighton craned his neck for attention, mouth opening and closing like an exhausted, beached fish. "You just went to all this trouble to set up."

          "City rules. Look... we can't leave this stuff out overnight! Gone, before dawn, and on Craigslist within an hour! Now that we got the wiring OK, it should go easier tomorrow. We'll have you ready to go by noon."

          "Noon? We're supposed to start at ten. Fuck this, man it's gonna be a warm evening, no rain... how about we get some people to stay on the stage all night. Like guards. The guy supervisin' will be a licensed security agent, uniformed."

          "Rent-a-Guards?" said the puzzled Supervisor.

          "Sure. Even a dog or two," Andy promised, improvising. "It'll all still be there come morning. I mean, do you want to spend the rest of the afternoon breaking down and all tomorrow morning setting up again?  Don’t some of your guys go to church?  Look, you gotta paper says they was there, I’ll initial it… all except for what’s-his-name there…" and he jerked his head towards the console.  “Him, he’s gotta stay.”

          "Well if you put it that way," the man said, mentally counting up the free saved and billable hours as Glenn Savitt waved to Andy from across the park. "I dunno, I'd have to call the insurance carriers..."

          "Perhaps I can help," Hill interrupted. "I'm a lawyer. And the Mayor's an old friend of mine."

          "What's up?" Glenn asked innocently, having cut through the crowd in, as it appeared, microseconds.

          Andy glanced from Glenn to Hill to the stage. "Oh, hi Glenn... uh, this thing is Mr. Hill, the lawyer and uh, one of your delegates from..."

          "We've met," said Hill. "Call the carrier and meanwhile I'll see what I can do," he told the Supervisor, looking to Glenn for confirmation. "You haven't seen Pinhead inside, have you..."

          "Sorry. Andy, I just... Anne wanted to invite you to dinner tonight at the Oak Room. That's... I just said I'd let you know if I saw you."

          "Hey, you see Beedle?" Emil persisted. "Got a good one for him... 'we need a t-shirt President to replace a TV President!' For t-shirts, get it? Or 'we need a bumper sticker President...' et cetera! I'm not one of those guys lookin' for ten percent, I'll take five. I got more! Free the Viagra sixty-nine... those smugglin’ geezers doing time in North Dakota, hard time… get it?  Actually, there’s seventy-one of em, but who’s counting?  More, like that. Plenty more!"

          "I'll be sure to tell him," Glenn said, marching sourly off across the park. At the far sidewalk he stopped, lifted his shoe and scraped it against the curb before returning to Masty Hall.

          "Whatta guy!" Emil acknowledged. "Leo tells me you and him were tag team champions of the babyface brigade here, back in the good ol' days. You wanna sleep onstage? I'll fix it. See, us lawyers earn our keep! Let's hit the road, Orvie!"

          Andy tossed him the little hanged rag doll.

          "I'm not accountable to anybody for where I sleep," he snapped. "Herb Clark's the licensed guard - he's red but Old Red. I’ll take him off booth detail,” he smiled, wanly, “and Pinhead can trust him. Souvenir of the Conk convention," he added. "Hang on to it... might be worth something, some day. Real collector's item!"

          As the thin delegate and stout attorney waddled away, Rael rushed the stage, thrusting a note scrawled on the back of a Solidarity With Costa Rica flyer into Andy's fist. "Read this into the P.A.!" she wailed, "...you've got to help..."

          "Uh... yeah," Andy said, taking the note, sight unseen, and unfolding it once he'd hopped back onstage. He tapped the mike. Working. "Uh... listen, I have announcement... need a doctor or a vegetar... a veterinarian by the flagpole, uh..."

          Heads all over the plaza having turned in his direction, Andy took a step back, looking down at the notice.

          "It's real, man... really happened!" Rael kept pleading with him. "Fil saw it too... some winos, fighting..."

          "OK, whatever..." He stepped forward again, leaning into the microphone. "If there's a doctor or veterinarian here, please go to the flagpole. Somebody's just stabbed a dog!"

          He stepped away from the microphone, and the City engineer patched in, from his boom box, a tape of lively Caribbean dance music. And out, from behind a tree, stepped the foxy old Klansman who'd slipped back as soon as the security people released him... pointy, whiskered chin jabbing the air as he rotated bony knees and elbows round in a sort of chicken-dance that, to Andy, discharged more entropy in half a second than could be found in all of Parnell's books, and those platforms of the rest of the Democrats and the Republicans, too!

 

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