As paranoid as those first couple of meetings made me, it was those nights of sleeping with Lucy that convinced me that she needed me for more than just military advice. She clung to me so tightly, wrapping her little body all around me, as if she was afraid I was going to get up and leave.
I would lay quietly awake and stoke her head softly, not wanting to fall asleep, but wanting to continue to feel her warm body next to me. And her small body would often start shaking, and I could feel the warm tears through the darkness.
“What’s wrong, Lucy?” I once asked.
“Don’t ever leave me, Alexander,” she said in a quiet, low voice. She squeezed me tighter than ever before.
I said nothing. I just continued to gently stroke her head, to experience her. I pulled her even tighter in my arms. It seemed as if both of us were trying hard to sink our very selves into each other. I was thinking, why I would ever want to leave her? I was thinking that this is how humans survived all the wars, and big bombs, and bad weather, and scary nights, and diseases, and liars who claimed to know what God wanted from us, and the crazy, the power-hungry, the greedy.
I was just thinking, Father, why would I ever want to leave her? It all boiled down to a dark, quiet night, with two scared people clinging tightly to each other. Like I said to you before, I wasn’t no damn intellectual, but I did know that.
“You promise me. You promise.”
“Yes, Lucy, I promise.”
Needless to say, Father, I became very involved in “Commander” Lucy’s underground organization, but from a distance. It was clear that they were dedicated revolutionaries, and Lucy was one of leaders of the Brooklyn cell. They had one goal: to overthrow the government, pure and simple. Even though I was benefiting from the system because of my steady checks, I felt one with these young people.
What they needed from me was not some crazy bomb thrower, but a planner. I mean, what a bunch of jive-ass, half-stepping amateurs. They meant well all right, but the way they were going, all of them were either going to end up dead or in jail. And the last thing I wanted was for Lucy to end up dead, or in jail.
One thing I did know about the Clerics was that these guys were not some mealy-mouth sissies. They had returned to hanging years ago. Lucy said it was because hanging was an energy saver. They had also taken away all the guns, totally outlawing them. Lucy told me that you could get 20 to life for even being in possession of one, with no such thing as an appeal. Even the People’s Moral Force was not allowed to carry guns, just big clubs. Only a select group of plainclothes enforcers carried guns. So, how were these would-be revolutionaries going to overthrow the Clerics and restore democracy to America, when they didn’t know the first thing about military planning and had zero fire power. Over many years, I learned many, have tried the old Gandhi method of passive resistance and non-violence. But President for Life Rev. Guess would have none of it.
Now, some wanted to do something even as dramatic as what happened on Oct, 3rd. But I could see that that was just talk. I could see that these folks couldn’t build a conventional bomb, much less the Bomb.
Others wanted to randomly stab people suspected of being caregivers. That asshole that first gave me a hard time was especially forceful in advocating this kind of action
I didn’t say anything at meetings. I just sat silently and listened, my head down, wondering why I was there and wishing that the meeting would end, as Lucy and her friends argued passionately over tactics.
More than once I wanted to get up and leave, to go back to Mother’s cozy, familiar apartment and have a bottle of good red wine, and spend my allotted three hours of electricity, quietly listening to my vinyl.
But I remembered my nights in that big bed with Lucy and remembered her warm tears, her great need, my promise never to leave her, her hot body. And the need I felt to be near her, to never leave her, overwhelmed my desire to betray her by just getting up and walking out of the meeting. So, I stayed and listened.
But enough was enough! After my fifth meeting, I told Lucy that I didn’t want to attend any more meetings. The five meetings I had attended did, however, create a plan of action in my head. Ideas were slowly forming in my head. I was thinking about things I had not thought about in years. This was the first real systematic thinking I had done in who know how long.
“Lucy, they listen to you. They respect you. You’re their leader. I can see that. I can give you advice.”
I saw a funny look coming over her face.
“You don’t have to agree with anything I say. We can just talk. And you can take what you need and go back and tell them what they need to do. They don’t have to know it’s coming from me. Does that make sense to you?”
She thought for a moment, cocking her head to one side in a thoughtful pose. I could guess that she knew in the back of her mind that I was still uncomfortable around people. I don’t know if I will ever get my old confidence back and once again experience the joy of being the center of attention in a large crowd of smiling, happy people.
The faces of the people at her meetings were grim, and smiled very little. But they were faces, nevertheless.
Also, Father, I knew so little. I had been shut away from the world for years. I quietly listened as they droned on, almost in a foreign language. There had been several more Big Bangs in other parts of the world that I didn’t know anything about. The Clerics had built a giant wall separating Mexico and the US. Now they were building the same kind of wall on the northern border with Canada. It seemed like Muslims ruled most of the rest of the world, but the Clerics were determined that they were not going to take over here,
“Who gives a fuck about the Muslims. We got our own fucking Muslims. What’s the difference? We need to blow those walls up. They’re made this into a big prison camp!” Lucy said passionately at one meeting.
The people in the room all started shouting and stamping their feet in unison. “Blow the mother up! Blow the mother up! Blow the mother up!”
Father, my head was spinning! No wonder I had tuned out. What kind of weird world were these young people living in? I just couldn’t follow their conversation. I didn’t know what the hell they were talking about most of the time.
But I didn’t tell Lucy that. But I guess she knew.
“Ok,” she said, slowly shaking her head up and down. “Ok, Alexander. Now, do you have any advice?”
“Yeah. In fact, I do,” I answered without hesitation. “First, you need to cool out that little asshole who calls himself a Colonel. Colonel my ass! That guy couldn’t be a buck private where I come from! Imagine, wanting to kill innocent people. That’s what started all of this bullshit in the first place.”
As I spoke, I listened to myself, almost as if I was listening to a strange, yet vaguely familiar old voice. I hadn’t heard that voice in years. It was strong, confident, boastful, full of fight.
Lucy also seemed surprised. She wasn’t as quick to answer me back as she usually was.
“We have to fight back, Alexander,” she said finally, “how else are we going to get those bastards off of us, with their fucking Bibles. I hate those goddamn Bibles! I hate those fucking Bibles!”
Lucy was practically foaming at the mouth. She was red-faced, mean-looking, her blue eyes bulging. I could see why her friends gave her a wide berth, and called her “commander.” She was now a scary looking little bitch, that was for sure, Father!
Still, she also seemed young, petulant, and unreasonable.
I held up my hand to silence her. “You need the people on your side. The people have to rise up in support of you. Don’t forget that. You can target caregivers, that’s not a bad idea. But, what you need is what we had in the military: intelligence. You to need to watch carefully. Gather information. Know your targets. Be smarter than them. One mistake on your part and those preachers will turn everyone against you. A lot of folks are still fooled by them. You have to turn everyone against them. They know people are Scared. Scared of Cancer. Scared of another Big Bang. Scared of everything. That’s the key to their power. You have to make people feel powerful again. If you scare them with random attacks, that’s just going to make them even more scared, and that is just what the Clerics want.”
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