SUNDAY the NINTH - 4:09 PM

          By four PM the wind had escalated to a ghastly, almost gale-strength proportion and the crowd at the demo across the street from Masty Hall had dwindled considerably. Defeated stragglers struggled with books, pamphlets, petitions and card tables even as the plaza swelled with kids out of high school or down from the U. and street people seeking spare change and free food. Many were drunk or wired on kat; that potent, cheap stimulant distilled from leaves brought home by soldiers back from the killsomish mountain passes and terrorist-infested Yemenese caves.









          The menagerie of aging hippies and conspiracy kooks was a human red flag to this cauldron of juvenile criminality... but smash-and-grab glee quickly turned to frustration at the meager contents of wallets and donation coffee cans. Sporadic fighting started up while City police strolled the sidewalks surrounding the plaza clockwise, the Turks sidling counterclockwise like Florentine courtiers… each tipping their caps and berets to one another, shaking their batons and smiling benevolently as the weak and disturbed souls within the First Amendment enclave were beaten down and ripped off and increasingly strident calls for action resonated helplessly against countercries of “Don’t trust the police!” As the pale, angst-obsessed musicians on the big stage at the other end of the plaza unplugged their instruments, kicking at would-be equipment thieves, Glenn Savitt... behind Demian, Richard Reid and Fil... vaulted the back steps where Tom Jenks was still trying to keep order with his clipboard.

          "Hi Tom," Demian waved, "we've got an emergency... this guy has to go on now." 

          "There'll be an opening in fifteen minutes," Tom said, consulting his list. "Those bring-back-East Germany people went home... guess their old bones couldn't take all this wind."

          "Now!" Demian insisted, motioning the others up the steps. "It's important!" And she pushed aside an elderly Swedish anti-apartheid protestor festooned with green ribbons and reciting, mostly to himself, a creed of outrage over some Ray Charles concerts in Capetown back in a different Millenium, even before Mandela’s release from prison and what had followed...

          "Excuse, excuse... help me!" he appealed to Tom, "I huff paid for this speakering..."

          Since Youthquake's security had deserted en masse after the Brazilian band wrapped, half an hour before, Marty Lesh had been policing the stage, shaking a tire iron at potential looters.  Paramedics had taken Herb Clark away and the innumerable dogs of the plaza had made short work of their fallen tubular namesteaks. "It's OK, man, Andy sent me," Glenn told him, flashing Andy's dangling credentials.

          "What the fuck!" Marty shrugged, looking to the puzzled Viking for a continuation of their argument. "OK, there's six minutes until you're on, just keep things short," he waved to Glenn, but it was Demian who snatched up the microphone.

          "Brothers and sisters!" she exhorted, "...even as the Coalition for a New Consensus sells out the poor, women, people of color and working Americans, documented or not… gay, lesbian, transgender and queer Americans, immigrants, small business and the planet itself, plotting to draft our Informational Reserve into poorhouses to serve as strikebreakers behind its facade of armed pigs, we've won, today, a significant victory! At last some people inside have gotten fed up with the Conks and their racist allies and representation based on money and the corruption that causes. One of 'em's here to tell you about it!" She let the mike swing, bolo-style, while advising Glenn... "Best you don't give out your name."

          "Got it!" he winked. He grasped the mike in mid-swing and took a deep breath, watching the crowd below for a moment, and then another. Years... decades ago... he had been able to will himself into another place, a place where some vital forces always took over when crisis loomed. He hadn't felt that way since passing his twenty-first birthday, after Reagan was re-elected and Cobb taken away in bracelets with the shards of a disgraced Revolution flaking off him. 

          In October, he’d be fifty-five.

          Fifty!  Five!

          Something still stirred inside... a little worm of conscience awakening, within his belly. People were looking at him, waiting! Across the plaza, the pitiful folksinger put his guitar down... more people began drifting across the plaza.

          "I don't think any of you have been missing much," he began, "not being inside. If you've been watching TV or listening to the radio, it's all there... all there but the smell of sulfur, as a fellow progressive once put it. Now I don't want to imitate CNC's tendency to congratulate itself for hours on end, but this is a great crowd, and you're doing a great job! I see the sons and daughters of U. professors and the sons and daughters of slaves and immigrants, all together, a living rebuke to those inside who'd say that people can't be trusted with their own lives..."

          A group of kids whose taunts vanished in the wind grabbed a trashcan and threw it towards the stage, but it swerved and only hit the front of the planks.  A rainbow coalition of debris swirled past Glenn, blowing towards Masty Hall. The rebuke was just - Glenn let the trite images and speech patterns of the Coalition slip away, too, and let that something else take over.

          The worm was stirring.

          "OK... point taken. I chose to leave the CNC caucuses because they were undemocratic, even by comparison to the flaws in our two institutional parties," he charged, leveling his index finger towards Masty Hall. "The Deep State knows that its social, economic and environmental policies are bankrupt and corrupt. How do they maintain control? Every few years, the legitimate outrage of Americans has to be co-opted by false-flag alternative organizations, promoting false policies. Back in the '60s we had a war in Vietnam and a war on poverty and I think we all know who won those. Serious people like John and Robert Kennedy, Martin and Malcolm, too, they said some wrong things and the system cut them out of the picture. Then Nixon got caught and there was this real chance of a revolution, so the Rockefellers served us up this strange peanut-farming President who quoted Bob Dylan, but left us all just blowing in the wind. Nice ex-President, tho… still teaches Sunday School, got a Nobel for his scam. In the '80s, we had the Rainbow Coalition and black power, green power and all these other power trippers who tried working within the Democratic Party... you know, I can't help but recalling those Peanuts cartoons every football season, where Lucy pulls the football up just as Charlie Brown tries to kick it and ends up on his ass? I mean... how many times do we have to be fooled like this?  Now I won’t blame the Reverend Jackson… that would be racist… just ask you to consider what happened once he came into a little bit of power…

          "Then came the 90’s… we thought we'd elected one of our own, again, but Slick Willie turned out to be a crooked skirt-chasing globalist outsourcer who shredded America’s safety net in ways no Republican ever could have dreamed of doing… and all those people who went into government defending him and his shrill wife lost all their credibility! Then, the President after him wrecked our economy to the extent that our children's children's children will be paying for it and started a useless war on false premises that we had to sell our souls to the Saudi butchers to crawl away from, so we went off and elected another savior… a black man, this time, and with a Nobel in his pocket before he even started doing anything… a Nobel savage, some might say, as if his soul power could save ours. And we were fooled again; still we haven't learned... and the institutional parties were poised to nominate the son and brother of the one or wife of the other until an even better deal presented itself – a revival of the old George Wallace coalition of racists and snakehandlers and outsourced, outdated blue-collar workers, but headed by a so-called “populist” New York billionaire with a whole legion of Goldman/Sachs investment bankers to do his dirty work.   And the Bernie Sanders movement?  Gone with the wind, thanks to the Democratic National Committee and the dark money who replaced Mister Trump with Obama’s Vice, who steered us backwards in time while an angry world marched forward.  So the CNC, well it seemed Heaven-sent… in the beginning.   Like many of you, I went to the U. back in the day and worked there with Andy Morrison, one of those who organized this little party. But just today, when Andy cashed out and went over to the Conks inside, I realized how nothing's changed since Ralph Nader threw the Y2K election to Bush Two and the greenies came out as Russian stooges, and how dangerous the people in that building really are."

          As he paused, some angry teenagers called for him to shut up, but some others answered back, "let the dude talk... go on! Right on!" And another can was overturned, another... more garbage loosed to the fierce and unrelenting wind and the frozen stares of the police and Turks..

          In the background, near Andy's now-vacant, pitiful stage of scrap wood and milk cartons Glenn saw plainclothes policemen… or, perhaps, something worse… begin slithering into the plaza.

          He lowered his voice. "You know, they say that kids are more conservative these days… well, maybe not so much about gay marriage and medicinal pot and whatever micro-aggressions their professors tell them to protest… and what we all want now's more jails and more laws, less freedom and less justice and wars everywhere as a distraction from our bankruptcy... moral, physical and economic... as a nation.  Drones everywhere, peeking into windows and the NSA reading our e-mails.  I don't think that's altogether true... I just think young people have recognized the utter phoniness of the so-called progressivism of some of their parents, which is, in fact, nothing more than liberal laziness and cowardice. Bums have more freedom than most people, the bosses have power over the rest but everybody in between... we're getting screwed! You know, I'd be nervous too if I had children, because the next generation will not only have to dig themselves out of a waist-high ditch of shit and debt that we’ve left them, not to mention the hatred of the world for what our government is doing to the environment and in Costa Rica; they can't help being better than us... all the sweet images of advertising that have usurped happiness and life with brainless urges, well they're just not working anymore. People of my generation hate their children, just as they hated their parents, but for a different reason. You're not people," he pointed down into the crowd, "you're chattel... status symbols, at best, and if you don't bring home satisfaction in the form of grades or prizes or money, you're no better than a maxxed-out charge card. Or a Tesla… one of those self-driving ones that won't start.

          "Somewhere out there, the answers lie," he finished, looking up again and pointing straight towards Masty Hall, "though you won't find anything but lies in that house across the road!"

          He yielded up the microphone to Demian as four policemen chased a vendor into the middle of the crowd, tackled him and began to beat and kick him. More cops surrounded the Free Food table, emptying fire extinguishers into a pot of boiling beans, whereupon an evil-smelling blue smoke arose, and one of its ragged, barefoot staffers pointed Heavenwards, proclaiming: "The poisonous fumes of the State!"

          Demian pointed towards the struggles. "Are we going to let those pigs Rodney the brother?" A trash can bounced off the back of one of the officers, a kid in electric green pants aimed a karate kick against another... enabling the bleeding vendor to scuttle away with his life intact, if not his merchandise.

          "Do we let ourselves be attacked and beaten just for gathering to say what we believe in? This rally's as much a farce as the Convention! Do you know why? With so many people without jobs... hungry, homeless... all the City plans to do is bring in foreign workers to build more luxury condos, like those under construction in the middle of the East End ghetto, only twelve blocks away. They're going to house more experimenters to teach rats and monkeys and robots to do the people's jobs, and balance their budgets by laying everybody off and devising new laws and new drones to railroad us into their concentration camps and new diseases to kill off the unneeded. So are we just going to wander around here, trying to reason with Conks who, as the gentleman pointed out, have no intention of listening..."

          And then Richard Reid, waving another crowbar, pushed her aside violently, yanking the mike out of her hand.

          "Hell no! We're gonna burn those motherfuckers out, and we're gonna kill any pigs that get in our way, City, National Guard or Turks! That's what we're gonna do! Follow me..."

          He jumped off the stage and into the crowd, which greeted him like royalty while Demian stood to one side, applauding silently. Some college kids, carrying a cooler of beer between them, slapped Glenn on the back, cheering.

          "Hey dude," asked a frat-hoodied undergraduate in a backwards baseball cap, proffering a brewski, "...is this, like, a riot?"

          "Right on, dude!" said another. "Riot on!"

          "Dude riot!" a third chimed in, and this became a chant that was finally taken up.

          "Yee haw!" the white University undergraduates from the frats called out as the crowd began moving towards the east end of the park, snapping tree branches and kicking over tables as were in their way. Glenn followed them, his fist pounding the air as he slurped ABM, then heaved the empty at a police horse and its rider. "Fuck da po po!" the younger, darker townies responded, not wanting to be outstyled by a bunch of honkies.  “Black people matter!”  A tall, sallow man in a green Army jacket with a nametag saying "Douglas" buttonholed one of the musicians hurriedly packing his equipment away."

          "Who was that man in a suit just speaking now?"

          "Dunno," the musician waved, pretending not to see that certain something bulging out of the stranger's trouser pocket. "Uh... he had this ID badge said something about Morrison, an' had these Convention tags? Must've been Andy Morrison?  Everybody knows him, sleazy ol’ dude, hangs around the homeless shelter scrounging pussy, rips people off…"

          "Deep!" said the man with the "Douglas" tag, closing his eyes and bringing a fist up to his forehead. "Andrew Morrison speaks against himself and for justice for Paulie.  The chosen beast separates itself from the herd. Very deep. Thank you," he added, opening his pale, unfocused eyes.

          As "Douglas" loped off, Demian, who'd remained behind in the plaza, doing what she could to herd people in an eastwards direction away from Masty Hall… now ringed by a solid phalanx of policemen… removed a cellphone from her parka.

          "Perseus? Perseus?" An affirmation replied through much static. "We have a go. Subject's about two thirds of the way back in the pack... gray suit, Convention ID around his neck. See that the garbagemen have him picked up. I'm going in. Death to the calico cats!"

          An affirmative reply came through the phone... Demian packed it away, opened her purse and removed a CNC floor pass necklace.

          Sidestepping a panting City policeman who'd briefly stopped... as much to catch his breath as to determine whether she was worth clubbing... Demian smiled, dropped her credentials round her neck like the late First Lady Bush’s pearls, and crossed the street towards Masty Hall.

          The police in her way parted like the Red Sea at Moses’ decree.









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