April 29, 2012 marks the 44th anniversary of a lobby-in that Martin Luther King was planning to protest oppressive living conditions in the South. He was killed 25 days before it was scheduled to begin. In commemoration of this day, I am planning a nonviolent lobby-in at New York City Hall to protest the racially biased and defiantly unconstitutional stop and frisk practices of the New York City Police Department.
My plan is to arrive at City Hall Park adjacent to New York City Hall at sundown on the evening of April 29. I will spend the night there (and every night there until the Mayor or his appointee) commits to ordering all officers in all departments to:
1) Ensure that all future stops and frisks in New York City are racially proportionate to the citywide racial percentages of the population of New York City, within five percentage points, or be discontinued until racial disparities are corrected. For example, if black residents comprise 26% of the city's population then they must comprise no more than 31% of stops and frisks;
2) Ensure that all future stops and frisks in New York City yield contraband in at least 25% percent of cases or be discontinued until all officers in all departments are properly trained to detect contraband and have learned state and federal search and seizure law, with specific emphasis on laws governing reasonable suspicion. The present contraband yield of less than three percent for white citizens and less than two percent for black and Latino citizens, despite millions of stops and frisks in the last several years, evidences a widespread lack of proper training by officers to accurately detect contraband, and a department-wide disregard of federal and state law requiring officers to have reasonable suspicion that a person is carrying contraband or committing a crime prior to stopping them.
On Monday morning, April 30, I will politely and peacefully request to meet with the mayor or a designated staff person in order to present these demands. If the mayor or his staff person commits to giving these orders, or agrees to open negotiations concerning them, I will return home. If the mayor or his appointee refuses to commit to them, I will politely and peacefully remain on the premises in order to conduct a nonviolent sit-in demonstration.
Following my arrest for trespassing, if any, and release on bail, if any, on April 30 or May 1, I will return to City Hall Park and continue the lobby-in. The day following my release, I will return to City Hall and request to speak with the mayor or a designated staff person and again present these demands. I will continue this process until I am either held in jail without bail, or until the mayor agrees to reform the city's stop and frisk practices.
* * *
The silver aluminum bottle rolled and chugged unevenly on the kitchen floor, half roll, glug, half roll, glug, as eddying bits of food and debris circled the spreading pools. He calmly wiped streaks of water from his forehead and eyes with the armpit of his white undershirt.
It wasn’t the first time she had done this, but something about this time felt different from the others, final in some way. The way she had stormed in from the other room, where she had been sitting calmly on the couch, the sharp angles of the lines of her face as she separated metal and water, how the wrenching torque of her wrists exploded it over his entire body, drenching him, and everything around him, so suddenly, thoroughly.
It had happened before. Many times, actually. She was an Aquarius, a water nature. But something about the violence of this time, he knew not what or from where, but only by its force and clarity, called to him as his t-shirt clung translucent and twisted to his chest, “Take the job. It’s time.”
He had heard faint rumblings such as these, trace admonitions, in the past, but they had always been garbled up in the roaring symphony of bodily volition, quotidian bustle and doubt. But at age 46, the roar in him, at least the physical one, had begun to relent, and despite Sonya’s best efforts, or maybe because of them, the whispers were connecting again.
She stood there, wild and crazed. Her shame at what she’d done snowballed with her anger, and sent her hurtling full speed at the meek, rational lamb whimpering at the foot of the pathway they’d agreed so many times not to go down; the one that was expressly marked off limits; the one where anger permitted everything. She pulverized its fragile carcass and left it smashed in pieces behind her. She was free.
“How dare you consider this, Danny? After all we’ve been through, after you promised you would never do something like this again? How dare you even consider this?”
He silently grabbed a mop from the corner, with his head down, and began soaking up the water. He knew her fury would have to run its course before she would come back off the path. Simple tasks bought him time, and in rare cases, if he did them calmly enough, contrasted with her fury enough to walk her back safely. Hoping this would be one of those occasions, he continued mopping softly, quietly, eyes locked on strokes of arm, yarn and wood, as though the giant, two-story Victorian structure above him, the tile floor beneath him, the poured cement foundation, even the earth and stone around it, were made of red queens of diamonds, and only the gentleness of his strokes, and steadiness of his breathing, held it all in place.
She, for her part, was referring to the time when she had met him, nineteen years earlier. He was living with no salary in what his friends and family had called a dangerous neighborhood, full of crime and violence. When she met him, he was deeply in debt, behind on his bills and in default on his student loans, barely scraping by. He had justified his predicament by arguing that life was about more than money, and that she lacked character for suggesting otherwise. She had slapped him, and then helped extricate him from the mess he’d made of his life.
Now he was working a steady job and paying his bills like an adult. He’d even saved some money so that their daughter, Alex, could go to private school. That wild, crazy look in his eyes, the one that threw everything impetuously away on a whim, she had not seen in a long time. She’d thought that phase of his life was over, that it was a childish part of him long ago outgrown.
“You promised that you would never let yourself go in that way again. That you would be a responsible partner, a responsible father, that you would never put yourself, or us, in danger like that again.”
“Look, I understand you are scared. I understand this decision will make things difficult for us for a time. I understand that I will be taking a pay cut, and that things will be tight for a while. But they really need someone that has relationships with the leaders of the Majorities Coalition, and I do. We are looking at a major escalation here, Sonya, and they wouldn’t be reaching out to me if they weren’t desperate.”
He lied on this last point. He had heard they needed someone after the initial talks broke down, and he had, in fact, reached out to them to test the waters, not entirely expecting them to pursue him so aggressively. But this detail would have meant more water, and he did not share his wife’s astrological predilections.
“What if I can help them avert war? Isn’t that worth it? Aren’t there some things that are more important than-”
The reemergence of this egomaniacal side of him, the one that made him view himself as some kind of savior, a prophet even, made her lose total control. She thought he had long been reformed, and here he was, back again after ten years, as if the man she loved had been hiding his true self from her the entire time, just waiting for the right moment to pop up and walk out of her life.
She stepped in front of him and grabbed the mop. He held onto it, and calmly but strongly kept using it to dry the water. She grabbed it tighter, with both hands. “FUCKING LOOK AT ME!!!” she screamed, as she swiped her bare foot against the wet floor, kicking water on the spot he was mopping, splashing it on his feet, running it in dark rivulets down the hair of his shins. He was starting to lose his patience, but he knew better.
There was no mistaking the voice inside him this time. Its demulcent croon stood out so clearly against the backdrop of her rage. “Take the job, Martin. This can’t go on.” He remained silent. She had commandeered his pretext to avoid engaging her, and she was standing two inches from his face, breathing violently on the side of his neck, on the lobe of his ear, her head crooked, her eyes probing and scratching desperately for traction against the smooth, hard line of his jaw.
He exhaled and released his grip on the mop. A mushy corner of paper towel, wrung into gray paste between his hand and the shaft, fell to the floor with a wet slap. He raised his eyes, one inch, where her wild, flashing brown eyes, resplendent with the aching bliss of dreams of soaring children, waited to consume him with fury. His heart thrilled, and a throb of heat rushed against the cool, damp grip of his clothes. This was the moment she had been waiting for—the one she sensed she was losing with time, and that she clutched wilder and tighter each day—to revive her hold, to send him careening back into the cartwheel of her sexual gravity.
“Why do you think YOU,” she roared, “OF ALL PEOPLE, are some kind of savior? There are a million people that can do that job. Why do you need to put us in financial jeopardy, and put yourself in the way of certain death behind that barricade? You’ve seen the news. Minorities have been strung up on the racks of trucks and hung, left in the street to die like dogs. How DARE YOU” she demanded, stomping her foot with a soggy, undermining dud, “jeopardize Alex and I like that? Why can’t you just be a normal man that wants to take care of his family and not leave his wife and daughter orphaned and abandoned? Why do you have to constantly put yourself in harms way? Why do you constantly do self-destructive things that hurt and alienate the people around you?”
He wanted to tell her that he didn’t constantly do that, that it had been two fucking decades, actually, and that even if he did, some things were worth risking, but he’d learned long ago that he could not reason his way out of these situations. He’d tried all of these arguments when they met, and they had never worked. They saw the world differently, and there really was no way around it.
When he met her he was tired, and ready to stop living so carelessly. He’d always vaguely heard, and in his manic moments even believed, the voices that told him he was different, that his destiny somehow mattered, but in the end he’d sided with his wife: such thoughts felt like an egomaniacal chemical delusion, or some grandiose personality disorder, like the people who think they are Jesus. He didn’t want to be like that. He’d tried to escape it for twenty years, to dismiss these things inside of him, and yet here he was, sopping wet, again, with her in his face, refusing to let him mop water she’d poured on him, perched with all of his weight on a blade that would not stop cutting.
“Sonya, please calm down and get yourself together while I go change my shirt,” he said, as he walked around her into the hallway. He made it to his office door and turned to look behind him. By some miracle, she hadn’t followed. He went in and locked the door. He picked up the phone.
“Hi, Mr. Secretary, yes, hi, it’s Martin Daniels. Yes, I’m well, thank you. Yes, I’m in. Tomorrow? Yes, tomorrow works. Okay, I will see you at 06:00 hours. Thank you, sir. I am glad to be of service in this difficult time. Okay, I will send her your regards. Thank you, sir. Goodbye.”
He jimmied the wet shirt off of his body with an angry, gyrating thrust of his torso and threw it to the floor. He stepped out of his wet underwear, and flung them with his big toe at the foot of the mirror on the closet door. He stopped to look at himself. Dark shadows obscured his face and torso, while twisted orange streetlamps stained his hips and pelvis. The whispering had subsided, leaving only a wild, thrilling roar, demanding with inexorable fury that he return to his wife in the kitchen and devour.
The next morning, May 17, 2028, he was gone before sunrise. Five days later, after comprehensive vetting and an extensive debrief at the State Department, he was in Boston, the Special State Department Envoy to the Majorities Movement Coalition.
* * *
May 22, 2028
It's weird being back in Boston after all these years. Hard to believe this is the city leading the movement, given how it has always had such a progressive reputation. It’s also crazy that State contracted with me, given our history, and how I answered some of those electropolygraph questions. They must be more desperate than the internet stations are letting on, but it’s hard to know for sure because of the blackouts.
Our convoy drove in at dusk. The streets were deserted, and we whipped through intersection after intersection without stopping. Driving here used to be such a headache. Not today. Some of the traffic lights pulsed red, while others swung dark and limp as we sped underneath.
It feels right to be here, though it may cost me my marriage. I feel like sadness and loneliness are dripping and pooling off of everything around me, and the only thing keeping me from succumbing to it is that I feel like myself for the first time in a long time. Is that selfish? Is my marriage incompatible with being myself- Two minorities walking up Mass. Ave.
We roared by them. I watched my detail for a reaction. They drove on in silence.
“Aren’t you going to radio them in?” I asked.
They kept on, in silence.
“Seriously, what if they are militia patrol the Secretary warned us about?”
There was the sound of breathing, and air rushing by the speeding car. I knew they were ignoring me, but I couldn’t tell if it was because they knew my past and didn’t trust me, or because they were hazing the new guy.
As we crossed into Roxbury to scope things out before the talks began, a breeze kicked up some papers that I thought were majorities newsleafs mentioned at debrief. They told us they’ve gone back to paper for news, printed on old church bulletins.
“Hey, stop right here! Those might be the newsleafs they briefed us on. We need to-”
He kept driving, ignoring me. “Hey, asshole, stop the car!”
“Stop the car, Tony,” Sully said, backing me up. He complied, grudgingly, and sat there, tapping his hand impatiently on the gear shifter.
“What are you a tough guy?” I asked, angrily. “Back up to the fliers you just drove past.”
He sat there and stared at me blankly. “DO IT!”
He looked at Sully, who nodded in the affirmative. He threw the car in reverse, squealing the tires back to the fliers, and then squealed them skidding to a stop. He punched the shifter back into drive with his knuckles, and turned aggressively away from me to look out the window.
As I got out of the car, I could tell they were on edge, even tough guy Tony. Although they seemed to openly detest me, the last thing they wanted was a headline that would make the Secretary look worse than he already did in the eyes of the minorities. It was the only thing protecting me, really, the would-be headline that the Secretary couldn’t protect his own people in an American city.
The wind gusted and rustled the pile as I approached it, fluttering groups of flyers gently down the street. I ran after one, zigzagging left and right away from the car. The wind calmed and it came to rest in front of me. I hopped onto it and pinned it with my right foot. Loose gravel and sand crackled under the tires of the car as it rolled up behind me. I bent over and picked it up.
“Let’s go. It’s not safe here.”
I looked down at it in my hands. It was a paper handbill for a spoken word rally last week. I folded it and put it in my pocket.
“Let’s go!” he hissed.
I casually scanned the row of walkups in front of me with my back to the car. Unswept stoops, boarded doors, and pollen-stained windows, all empty. A gust of wind billowed down the tree-lined corridor. The windows rattled and quivered, as flyers and other bits of debris swirled around my feet and up against the curb.
I scanned my eyes back towards the car, to turn to it, and there, in the second floor window in the building directly in front of me, not there, wait, yes, there, not there, I swear, a man alternated, in a dark suit, there again, not, as the warbling storm pane bounced the reflection and came to rest.
“So they haven’t all evacuated,” I thought, as I stopped my eyes on the number over the door, carefully, “keep scanning, nothing to notice here, get back in the car, nobody noticed, did they, no, be cool.”
They took me as far as Melnea Cass Boulevard, despite my angry protests to drive closer to Dudley Square and up along the edge of the majorities barricade. After driving one block, they turned quickly back in the direction of the secure perimeter downtown, ignoring my increasingly furious demands to go further with silence.
I glowered through the tinted window as maudlin gloom spilled in from the ocean, around dirty corners, through blocked alleys, up empty, bullet-pocked brownstones, slowly, intently, climbing the worn roofs, the high rises, the radio antennae, inch by inch dispelling the aching blue remnants of daylight.
I refreshed my satphone for the thirtieth or fourtieth time. Sonya still hasn’t called me or emailed. I just refreshed it again now. Nothing. She must be really angry. I feel so utterly alone. This is hard enough as it is, and for the last twenty years I have made her my life, my support, and now it’s gone. Maybe that’s a sign in itself. Maybe I never should have married someone that can’t accept that this is part of who I am. But what does that mean? Is this really who I am? Is she right that I am putting myself in harms way because I am running, because I am an egomaniac for thinking I can make a difference here? I just don’t know. I’m too close to it.
We cleared the perimeter guard without incident and arrived at the hotel. As I checked in, the detail scoured every nook of the lobby with hand detectors. They say it’s just precautionary, but I am starting to wonder whether there is something they haven’t told me. They are taking extraordinary precautions and it is making me uneasy.
From my room I can see the water, lapping up against the unfinished levee that the minorities abandoned when they evacuated. There is wind chop spilling over it, nibbling the dark sandbags and dirt piles lining the waterfront. Ghost vapor lines from military aircraft streak the sky in not quite parallel lines. A long soggy one cuts vertically across the others, and seems to have sheared off half the moon.
Tomorrow I meet with them. Amazing that they are the same folks I worked with so many years ago. I’m nervous, but also excited. I keep wondering if Elijah Muhammad hadn’t been such a hypocrite: would I be here? Would the movement have gotten squashed? Probably. But now they got the numbers. Crazy that it happened so much faster than expected.
I tried to convince the Secretary to let me stay in the old hood. They insist it's not safe. They are treating me like a child. I had it out with the head of my detail. I think he actually called the Secretary and told on me. He says the Secretary doesn’t want a front-page internet headline. It makes sense, I suppose, but it’s frustrating. Tomorrow we'll see if it’s as bad as they say.
I may have to lose them. I can’t be commuting from some fancy hotel behind the secure perimeter and expect the majorities to take me seriously. I need to be on the other side of the line to have credibility here, like the old days. Except now the line is more than just an uncomfortable mutual understanding. Now it’s crushed pavement tiles, scaffolding, burnt cars, and whatever else seven hundred thousand starving people can twist, burn and stack in a barricaded city.
* * *
As soon as the email loaded on his Satphone, he called his editor, Norm Simon.
“Norm, have you seen this press release about the Land and Unpaid Labor Committee?”
“Yeah, we just got it here at the desk.”
“How the hell did we not know about this?”
“I have no idea, but you are going to have to cancel your lunch with Senator McCardle tomorrow.”
“I know. I’m going over to the Minor—damnit, Majorities, I keep fucking doing that —Caucus to see if I can dig up something. If you get anything first, let me know.”
Steven Getty, or “Gets” as his colleagues at the Washington Internet Post called him, had worked for the site for two years. Previously, he’d worked for the senior Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, Rondella Hammond, and he was accustomed to receiving a courtesy heads up from her or her chief of staff when information of this kind was released. But he hadn’t this time, and while this may have simply been an oversight, to him it was giving off an unmistakable whiff.
He hung up his phone and read the release again:
“APRIL 27, 2028
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THE CONGRESSIONAL MAJORITIES CAUCUS TO HOLD A SIGNING CEREMONY ENDORSING THE CLASSIFIED FINDINGS OF THE LAND AND UNPAID LABOR INVESTIGATORY COMMITTEE
To coincide with the supplemental census findings announcing the historic demographic shift of the United States population from a majority of Caucasians to a majority of minority groups, the representatives of the new majority will hold a signing ceremony announcing and endorsing the classified findings of the Land and Unpaid Labor Investigatory Committee (LULIC) tomorrow, April 28, at 13:00 hours, on the steps of the United States Capitol-”
It was in this last sentence, and the title, the part about it being classified, that made his collar burn around his neck.
“Classified, how have I not heardabout this? And LULIC, what the fuck is LULIC?” he muttered to himself, as he lumbered down the steps of the Rayburn Building two at a time, crossed South Capitol Avenue without looking, and jogged more than walked up to the Longworth Building.
He’d been covering the breaking story of the 2027 Supplemental Census showing that the minority majority had just tipped in January, 14 years sooner than projected. He’d been interviewing members of both chambers about the demonstrations that were happening in their home states, in what were now white minorities areas, in response to the emergency congressional session that had been called in order to introduce legislation that would authorize the prosecution of the Census counters.
He’d just gotten a juicy quote from a member from Alabama, Connor Wallace, who had lost himself in a rambling rant, the kind of which Gets was peerless in eliciting, with his smooth nodding, sleek, but kind eyes, and hospitably sibilant lips and tongue. With his perfectly manicured, softly moisturized palms and fingers, he gently took his subjects by the hand, nodded, smiled and “yessired” them up to the carefully and sternly prescribed boundaries set by aides, and then let go just in time to watch them step off the precipice alone.
“It has become clear to us that this was an intentional misrepresentation of grand scope, one that was perpetrated knowingly, so that the minorities could continue to reproduce at blistering rates in order to attain the majority, despite knowing full well that they could not support the children born to them, in order to deplete the US Treasury by making them dependent on the social welfare programs that this country provides. And so my amendment to the bill for the prosecution of the fraudulent Census counters targets persons that knowingly contributed children to the political majority without means to support said children, and provides that they be financially liable, both civilly and criminally, for the return of the public monies used to clothe, feed and house them.”
He was on his way back to the office, spinning the banner for the next day’s front page in his mind, “Alabama Senator Calls for Prosecution of Welfare Mothers,” gleefully envisioning the torrential rant of comments and ad clicks that would be attributed to him, when the press release stopped him in his tracks.
If he could scoop this story, the other headline wouldn’t even matter. Was there some conspiracy to release classified findings as soon as the majority tipped? God, what a story that would be. If it existed, he had to get his hands on it. He needed to get his hands on it. And if it didn’t exist? Well, suffice it to say, it needed to.
This was what he lived for. It was why he had resigned as Senator Hammond’s chief of staff and joined the internet station, why he had cultivated and maintained relationships in his old office, why he had kept secrets that a lesser reporter would have turned into juicy exposes long ago, why he snuck in through back doors of apartments four nights a week with pricey flower arrangements and told female staffers, waitresses and bartenders from choice restaurants, store clerks, receptionists at big lobbying firms, and carefully chosen others that they were the only one. It was why, and what, he breathed, and his whole existence was punctiliously maintained for these—and perhaps this—very moment.
He was already calling the Majorities Caucus office before he hit the security desk at Longworth. He showed his press credential to the two federal police officers out of habit, though he did not need to, as they were friends, friends that he had bought too many beers after work to count in the last year, and took notes as they gleefully spewed the secrets of the building, with the reckless abandon of free beer spittled on their lips, and all over Gets, and man, did they know everything, he would think, as he sipped his lone beer and carefully recorded everything in his head, and refrained from wiping their saliva from his face, so as not to offend them, until he would go to the bathroom, or turn away, and on this day he jogged past them without confirming their weekly beers tomorrow, which caused them to look at one another after he disappeared around the corner.
“Must be something big,” Earl Lamont said to his partner, Thomas.
“Yeah, must be.”
He was glad Colette answered as he ran to her. This was exactly what he’d been hoping for, and when her flat, detached, government job stupor in answering, “Good Afternoon, Majorities Caucus,” erupted into a cringingly loud, “Mmmmmm bay-beeeee, how you DOOOOOOIN,” full of gauche, breathy angst when she realized it was him, he welled with pride at his prowess.
Gets had been grooming her almost exclusively since news broke about the majority tipping, and he’d put a lot of time and money into his relationship with her. He had heard from Earl, over their weekly beers, that Colette had been leaving late at night with Shay Thomas, Senator Hammond’s Chief of Staff, who was also doubling as the Interim Director of the Caucus, who was married with a wife and two kids, and who had recently broken things off with Colette, and “promoted” her from his confidential assistant to office manager, in order to keep her from telling anyone.
She didn’t know Gets knew any of this, because to her, if he did, he would have already written about it, and she hadn’t yet learned of his others—in fact, he’d been putting in so much time with her, there were no others at that very moment. Either way, she did not really care. She was hungry for interactions with him at her desk, where she coyly and loudly exclaimed hardly veiled realities, in part to stab Shay, who had loved her, for sure, but not enough to leave his family, and who had recently ended the affair abruptly and inexplicably, and in part to scare the living shit out of him, and to let him know she had a reporter on her side that could ruin him if she so much as said a word.
Gets had allowed, and even encouraged this illusion of control, of her using him, as he waited for his moment, and his instincts, as they always were, had been exact. Such were the thoughts, or maybe thought, singular, but really more like a flash of understanding, a brief glimpse at his destiny, or something like that, running through his mind when he realized Colette’s indecorous moaning was meant for Shay, the one he needed to see, and who could not now dodge him, and who Colette might, and it all rested on the might, as she often did, send him in even if Shay had told her he would see no one.
Only Colette could do this without getting fired, a fact which Gets knew she knew, and she was growing bolder by the day as her anger toward him stewed and festered. Shay had no choice but to endure it, really, knowing Gets’ relationship with the gossip page, and Colette’s penchant for pillow talk. It was just too beautiful, all the ironies too delicious, to be believed, and Gets’s main regret was that there was no one he could share this perfect masterpiece with.
“Hi baaaaby,” he cooed, between two soft pants, “I reeeeally hope I’m gonna’ get to work on this piece I’ve been doing tonight. I’ve been working it really hard, and it is soooooo long.”
“Ooooh, that does sound good. I’d like to see it. Maybe I can help you grow it into something bigger,” she replied, easing fluidly into the role.
“Definitely, I think an extra set of hands would really help.”
“Well, I am glad to help you get to work on it-”
He smiled, as he thought of her long, strong fingers, and how she always worked them with such purpose on his neck and shoulders. He turned the corner and had one more office to pass. He stopped and leaned against a marble column, speaking softly into the corner it formed with the wall. Two aides from Representative Stanton’s office walked by. He smiled and nodded at them, never taking his eyes off of the door separating him from Colette, and, he hoped against all hope, Shay.
“Baby, before we get to work on it, I need to see Shay. He there?” he interrupted her. The two aides had turned the corner, and the rare moment of quiet in the busy hallway made him sense his moment even more clearly.
“Hold on baby, lemme check,” she said.
This fact was, in his mind, the providential stamp on his masterpiece. Not only did their biological affinity stand on its own as the most perfect sexual chemistry he had ever experienced, but the ulterior motives they had, despite the glaring, dangerous conflict between their occupations, were not only not off limits, or permissible, but actually encouraged. She wasn’t mad that he had interrupted her sex talk to inquire of Shay, not at all. She wanted him to.
As she said this, she put him on hold. “DAMNIT!!!” he thought to himself. His soaring visions, his levitation on the whiff of this burgeoning story wafting through the door he was watching, collapsed.
“He’s gonna’ try and hide, this must be big,” he thought to himself, as he visualized Shay slipping away through the back door right at that very moment.
Normally Colette put her hand over the phone and yelled through the door. Normally she was all too happy to send Gets in unannounced, to mess with Shay, to let him know she had him by the balls, and this was why Gets was lurking outside, waiting for it. But that morning, prior to the email release, Shay had called her into his office and ordered her, if she wanted to keep her job, notwithstanding anything she had on him, to tell no one he was there, specifically Gets, and to put any and all calls through to email. His severity had startled her, and checked her insouciance.
Gets sensed this in her putting him on hold, and in a silent flash he crept up to the door and listened through it from the outside.
“Shay! It’s Gets. Would you like to talk to him?”
Yes, he was there. He was there. Thank God he was there.
Gets silently flung open the front door of the caucus, which faced Colette’s desk, and put his finger over his lips. He saw a flash of surprise come over her, accompanied by an instinctive, hungry recognition, not at all angry, but even perhaps welcoming, and wanting him more, for the trap he’d just sprung. Professional considerations stood no chance against this power between them.
“Colette, I told you, TELL HIM I AM NOT HERE! I am not taking any calls or interviews until after the press conference tomorrow! WHY ARE YOU EVEN ASKING ME?” he roared, from behind the tall mahogany door.
The affairs of men and women were approaching a thundering climax, and Gets smiled as an artisan master walking around a masterpiece nearing the moment of completion, a masterpiece that had turned into something far more brilliant than he’d set out to create. He looked on it from above, picked it up, held it in his hands, peered into its twists and turns, its beautiful lines, and positioned himself, with his rakish, lithe body, his adroit, skilled appendages, fingering and toeing for position over the hot, gushing current of human history, dabbing, dabbing, dabbing, testing, probing, not yet, not yet, not yet, wait for it, wait, wait, wait, and he saw the muscles of his curved, athletic back and body from behind, holding it with both hands, waiting to thrust it in at precisely the right moment.
Colette, speechless, stared at him with her mouth open, and watched him tiptoe silently to the huge door and put his hand gently on the gold handle, to test it. It was locked.
“Shay, it’s Gets. I just heard you. I know you’re in there. Let me in.”
“GODDAMMNIT COLETTE!!! WHAT THE FUCK DID I TELL YOU?!?!” Shay roared. Gets took a step away from the door as it exploded open from the inside. Shay, tall and muscular, was a former football star at Stanford. He had close-cropped hair, and muscle lines protruding along the fitted sleeves of his button-up shirt and perfectly tailored pants that let one know it would be a big mistake to fuck with him. He rushed out of his office and stood over her, pacing back and forth behind her desk.
Colette sat there staring at her screen, unmoved, insouciantly tapping it without so much as looking up.
Shay checked himself, put his hands in his pockets, took a step back, and said, as calmly as he could muster, “That computer is government property. Please back away from it and vacate this office immediately. You are fired.”
She sighed, ignored him, and kept tapping her screen, defiant and deft.
He leaned over and put his finger in her face. She kept tapping. He looked up at her screen, realized what she was doing, and in a flash of panic he grabbed her hands and pulled her on the wheels of her chair away from the screen.
“GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF ME!!!” she shrieked, “YOU SON OF A BITCH LYING PIECE OF SHIT!!!!” she said, as she began screaming and hitting him in the chest. “GET YOUR FUCKING HANDS OFF OF ME!!!”
Gets stood there watching, wondering what she might have been doing, and hoping it had something, anything, to do with LULIC. He was strangely turned on by the rough way Shay was handling her. The front door flung open, “HEY!” a man yelled, with another man behind him, with a coffee in both hands. Shay let go of Colette, and she used the occasion of this change in pressure on her hands to topple out of the chair and onto the carpet, sobbing into the nook of her forearm and elbow.
Rep. Stanton’s first aide through the door rushed up to her, while the second walked up to Gets with a sobering punch of coffee. “What just happened?” Gets stood there, silently.
“THE SON OF A BITCH JUST GRABBED ME!” Colette screamed, stopping to pause and wipe her eyes with the back of her wrist between sobs.
“Shay, is that true?” the aide asked.
“Yes, it is true. I was guarding state property. I had no choice,” Shay said, as he picked up the phone. “Hi, this is Shay Thomas, Senator Hammond’s Chief of Staff. I just caught an employee trying to remove state secrets from a government computer after her employment was terminated. I want her arrested and-”
“Son of a bitch lying SNAKE!” Colette hissed between sobs, “HE HIT ME THE SON OF A BITCH.”
He paused, until she finished, and then said, “Yes, please come immediately,” before calmly hanging up as Earl, one of the officers at the desk, walked in the door. Apparently he had already heard the commotion.
He looked at Gets. “What happened?”
This question stabbed Gets. If he took the middle road, both would be mad at him: Colette for not taking her side, Shay for not telling the truth. If he chose Shay, he would lose Colette, and Shay might not give him anything. But he didn’t know if Colette knew anything that could help him. Shay might be his only chance.
“She must have just fired off twenty or so emails to herself, maybe one of them has something to do with it,” he thought to himself as he made his decision.
“Guys,” he said, intimately, as he motioned them away from the door, so Shay, who the aides had separated by putting him in his office, could not hear, and said, “he just came storming out of the office and attacked her for no reason. She was working on her computer, he came out and screamed at her she was fired while she was working, and then he grabbed her and pulled her away from the computer by the wrists and threw her to the ground.”
As Earl listened to Gets intently, he shook his head grimly, not because of what he was hearing, but because he was realizing that he had never handled anything like this in his twenty years working the halls, and he realized he was going to have to write a report, and go to court, and this was going to screw up his entire routine, and he scrunched his brow as he tried to remember what cadet training had said to do in this situation two decades ago.
Gets saw Colette look at him appreciatively out of the corner of his eye, smile, roll back up to her computer on the chair, and silently tap the screen several times.
“Were there any other witnesses, Gets?” Gets brought his eyes back to Thomas’s chest, pretending to process the question.
“I’m not sure. Rep. Stanton’s aides, Michael and Davis, came in as it was happening, but I’m not sure if they saw anything.”
“Okay, don’t leave,” he said, as he walked over to Colette, who had rolled back away from the computer, crying softly.
“Hi Ma’am, are you okay-”
The sound of police radios came echoing down the hall, and through the open door. Earl looked at Thomas, who had called them and was escorting them in, with an appreciative sigh of relief. Thomas and Earl exchanged a knowing glance as Thomas pointed the two officers through the door, and said, “You can take over from here gentlemen.”
One walked up to Earl and said, “Thank you, sir. What do you have so far?”
“All of the witnesses are here, sir. The information I have is that the gentleman inside the office came out and put his hands on this woman here. I will let you handle it from here,” he said, almost too eagerly.
The officers spoke to Colette, and then went and spoke to Shay, and then they took statements from the two aides. They then walked up to the computer and asked Colette to give them the password.
Seeing this, Gets silently walked up and leaned over so he could see the screen behind them. She looked at them, and then at Gets, fearfully. Seeing this, Gets said, “Officers, if she is under investigation, or if you are asking her to procure evidence that may be used to charge her with a crime, she is entitled to the presence of counsel.”
The bigger officer looked at him, angrily. “Sir, unless you want to get locked up too, I suggest you stay out of this. This is official police business and you are interfering.”
“Yeah, he’s right,” Colette said. “I want a lawyer.”
“Ma’am, we have information that following your termination you were divulging classified state secrets through your email account. This is a felony offense, if it is true, which carries a ten-year prison term. We are giving you a chance to prove that it is not true, otherwise we are going to have to take you into custody.”
She looked at them blankly, and then again at Gets. Gets shrugged his shoulders.
“Okay, you can see it. The password is-”
She stopped awkwardly. “Can I just type it? I don’t want to say it out loud.
“Sure, Ma’am, just do not delete anything or change anything. You are no longer authorized to use this government device.”
She typed in “ShayShay213” and unlocked the screen.
“Ma’am, please open the email account that you allegedly sent state emails from.”
“Thank you, Ma’am, now please move away from the computer.”
She did, slowly, hesitantly.
The officer tapped the screen and looked at her sent email. There was nothing there. He looked at her inbox. Nothing. He looked at her deleted mail. Nothing. She’d wiped the whole thing clean.
“FUCK!” Gets thought to himself, and clenched his teeth and fists.
“Ma’am, did you delete all of these items to cover up evidence of a crime?”
“WHAT?!? NOOOOO!” she responded, angrily.
Gets shot a fierce glance at her, which told her not to say anything further. She caught it, and abruptly sat back and folded her arms.
The officers saw her look at him, and the change in her demeanor, and they angrily looked at Gets.
“Sir, we are going to have to ask you to leave,” the bigger one said, as he grabbed him by the elbow and began pushing him towards the door.
“Colette, don’t say anything else to them until you have a lawyer. Not a word,” he said quickly, over his shoulder, as the officer gave him a shove out the door and then slammed it behind him. “NOT A WORD, COLETTE!” he yelled after her through the door.
He sat outside the door, forlorn. His masterpiece was coming apart in his hands. His only two links to this story were stuck inside. He began going through his mind, who he might be able to pry something out of, but he knew no one would talk to him without Shay’s approval. Shay kept a tight lid on the Caucus, and this was the whole reason he’d been working on Colette so aggressively. She was his only chance.
“FUCKING FUCK!” he muttered to himself. He stood outside the door, waiting to see if he could hear anything inside. As he leaned his ear against the outer door, he heard the feedback of a police radio approaching. He stepped back, quietly, swiftly, as the door opened. It was the big officer. He had Shay in handcuffs, and was leading him by the elbow. Shay shot Gets a ferocious look, which told him if he ever found him alone in an alley, he was a fucking dead man.
“This is good. Very good,” Gets thought. “Just don’t take Colette. Don’t take Colette, please please please, God, don’t let them take Colette.”
Gets peered in the door as the officer walked Shay away from him down the hall. The smaller officer appeared next, and closed it. Shortly thereafter, Gets heard a police radio approaching again. It was a supervising officer, a lieutenant, and a female officer.
“FUCK FUCK FUCK,” Gets thought. “They are gonna’ take her too.” He began quickly going through his mind, wondering if there was someone he could call to prevent them from arresting her. Judge Carrolton owed him a favor, a big favor, in fact, for not disclosing some dirt Gets had learned at one of his beer parleys, but he didn’t know if this was worth burning the favor. If it was a felony, they were going to arrest her no matter what, regardless of what the judge said
“Fuck it, this story is too important,” he said, as he pulled out his phone and dialed the judge, without bothering to refresh it first.
“Hi this is Justice Thomas Carrolton-” It went straight to his voice message.
“SONOVABITCH!!!” Gets said, as he hung up, and began pacing wildly outside the door.
The three officers came out of the door, with Colette in handcuffs. Gets started to panic.
Gets walked up to the lieutenant. “Sir, I was a witness to this incident. There is no way she could have sent any secret materials after she was terminated. He fired her and three seconds later accused her of sending state secrets-”
“Sir, we are going to have to ask you to back away please.”
“But Sir, it’s impossible-”
“Sir, the account was wiped clean, which we think may have been done to hide evidence. Unless you would like to be arrested also, I suggest you take a step back and stop interfering with this investigation.”
Gets was burning mad. There was nothing he could do, except maybe try and bail her out, but that likely wouldn’t happen until tomorrow afternoon, after the press conference.
“Mother fucking fucking fucking son of a fucking bitch,” Gets ranted to himself, as he watched them walk Colette away. He would have to go to the press conference like all of the other reporters and wait for it. “FUCK!” he said again to himself, angry, knowing that Norm would be disappointed, knowing that he was the only one who had a chance to get something out of this story, and that he had failed.
He went back to his original headline, and began thinking about how he could dress it up to make up for failing to land the big story on Norm’s desk. He began rethinking the title, to make it more inflammatory. Alabama Senator Calls for Prosecution of Welfare Mothers…I can do better than that,” he said to himself, disappointed now at what he’d so masterfully coaxed out of the Senator half an hour earlier.
He began thinking about what he was going to tell Norm. Maybe there was a story in Shay hitting Colette. It was juicy, after all, but he knew nothing was going to satisfy Norm short of the big one. There had to be some way he could bag this thing. What if he found out who Colette’s lawyer was, and went with him or her to the station to visit her?
“Ooooh, that might just work,” he thought to himself. “Or maybe I can hire a private lawyer for her, which will make her even more grateful and willing to talk when I show up.”
He began thinking about what lawyers owed him favors, flipping through his phone. He refreshed it out of habit, to see if anything had come in from the desk.
“Colette Price. No subject. Wait, what is this?”
His inbox downloaded the message. He clicked on it and waited for what seemed an eternity for it to open.
“How could she have sent me this? Wait, this must be what she did before they took her away,” he thought, as he greedily started into the simple text, which appeared to have been cut and pasted from another document:
“Regardless of the reason, the writing was on the wall in 2008, and the majorities noticed. Jolted by first-ever television images of African American and Latino voters bringing down a political landslide with lines doubling and tripling around polling stations, the majorities began stockpiling a record number of firearms and ammunition. They initiated immigration reforms that identified and expelled a record number of illegal aliens and their children, barred them from public schools, prevented them from owning or transferring assets and property, and barred them from entering into legal contracts.
Gets shook his head in confusion. “What is this?” he muttered to himself, as he continued:
“In addition to these immigration measures, they passed laws aimed at preventing voting fraud with enhanced identification, registration and filing requirements, and laws that suspended the voting rights of persons owing debt to a government entity for more than 90 days. They also pursued a campaign of massive tax reductions and cuts to programs and services sustaining the population growth.
These laws and regulations, enacted in the name of state sovereignty, national security and fiscal responsibility, had a measurable, overwhelmingly disproportionate effect on minorities. This appearance, of a legislative platform aimed at minorities as they approached the political majority, led many to suspect ulterior racial motives, but those that raised such hypotheses were quickly denounced as racists, “reverse” racists, and so on. Thus becomes apparent the danger of truths that become so by virtue of the number of people who proclaim them loudly.
Parallel trends continued in lockstep. As the number of minorities increased, so too did the number of new voting rights requirements, immigrations restrictions, deportations, and cuts to programs and services. For every provision struck down by state and federal courts as unconstitutional, two more would be introduced, with amended language, in subsequent legislative sessions.
And so it was that in 2022 I and 183 of my colleagues in Congress sanctioned the United States Land and Unpaid Labor Investigatory Committee, a classified investigatory committee comprised of civil rights attorneys, human rights investigators, actuarial experts, victim witness advocates, and so on.
The mandate of LULIC was twofold:
1) To investigate and document evidence to aid in the prosecution of human rights violations and other crimes against African Americans slaves and freedmen, and Latinos and other immigrant groups, from the founding of America until the present day;
2) To calculate the amount of restitution, adjusted for inflation, that ought to be paid to living victims and heirs of deceased victims, for human rights violations and other crimes perpetrated by the American government and its citizens, against African Americans slaves and freedmen, Latinos and other immigrant groups, from the founding of America until the present day.
After five years of meticulous research and fact-finding, LULIC investigators have determined that the amount of restitution owed for these crimes, adjusted for inflation, is $193 trillion US dollars.”
“Holy…Mary…Mother of God,” he thought to himself, as he reached the end of what Colette had sent him. “I can’t believe she sent me this,” he thought, astonished, and feeling, maybe for the first time ever, a twinge of something beyond physical desire for her.
But he had no time for such things. This was the finishing touch on his masterpiece, and it was hot and huge and throbbing with anticipation inside of him. He closed the email and dialed Norm with a frantic vortex of fingers and thumbs.
“Tonya, I need Norm, right away.”
“Sorry, Gets, he’s on a call-”
“With who? I need him now. I’ve got something urgent.”
“Senator McCardle. Hold on.”
She put him on hold. He was walking aggressively down the street at this point, trying to hail a taxi back to the office.”
“He says he will call you back in five.”
“Tonya, he’s not understanding me. I need to talk to him right fucking now.”
She sighed heavily, knowing she was the one that was going to get the dirty look, the curse words, and so on, for going back in there.
“Damnit, Gets, hold on.”
Ten seconds went by. Thirty. Gets was about to explode. He was ready to thrust his masterpiece in, and he was holding back, restraining it with every sinew of his anatomy, as it was now too big, bulging and unwieldy to hold back any longer.
“Gets, what the fuck. I’m on with the Senator. What?”
“You aren’t going to fucking believe this, Norm. This press conference tomorrow. They sanctioned a secret investigatory committee to look at all of the crimes that were committed against majorities going to back to slavery. They are going to announce its findings tomorrow.”
“No fucking way. What’s your source? Colette?”
“Is it an official document, or her word?”
I don’t know. Shay just fired her and beat the crap out of her, and she fired an email off to me as she was being arrested as a fuck you to him-”
“Yeah, it was nuts. It looks like she cut and pasted it from the prepared remarks for the Senator that Shay was probably working on, but I can’t be sure. It’s not on letterhead or anything.”
“Shit. You said she was arrested?”
“Is there any way you can get to her, to confirm what it is?”
“Not sure. I can try and hire her an attorney, and maybe he or she can get me into the jail, but it’s a long shot.”
“Hmmmmm, okay, send it to me and give it a shot.”
“Okay. One more thing. We can’t use her as a source, either way.”
“What, why not?"
“Because she may have broken the law in sending it to me. It was classified. That’s why she was arrested."
Norm paused, in a rare moment of pensive quiet. “My God, what a shit parade,” he muttered. “Let me think about this. In the meantime, see if you can get to her. Start writing it now regardless of what she says. Go,” he said, as Gets hung up, told the driver to change directions and head to the police station, and dialed Judge Carrolton.
 For the purposes of this written history, the usage of the terms “majorities” is consistent with the special envoy’s usage. The term “majorities” refers to Caucasians up until the year 2028, and thereafter refers to the four major minority designations used to calculate demographic trends at that time: African American, Asian, Latino and Other.
 These sweeping demographic changes in the United States nearly mirrored the first minority majority of children, which had been projected to occur in 2020, but happened in 2010. The first minority majority of the entire population, projected in 2042, happened in 2028. Despite the widespread undercounting of minorities that occurred in every Census up to that time, many nevertheless insisted that the 2020 Census counters and 2027 Supplemental Census counters intentionally and fraudulently undercounted in order to hide the imminent tipping of the political majority.
The inspiration for this design is that American systems relentlessly impose and collect criminal justice debts, child support, taxes and other monies from indigent young black men, many who are the same heirs of victims that had their property, assets, livestock and other means to provide for their families stolen from them by black codes, jim crow laws, and so on. In reality, since the United States government still owes restitution for the crimes against them and their families, shouldn't these systems be a little more understanding, and shouldn't they just put it on the damn tab?
I am working on a project promoting racial consciousness and reconciliation, and I am dedicating this design to Trayvon Martin. The numbers correspond to the letters of the word black, and the graphic is an obvious and ominous reminder of what wearing a hoody often means for young black men in America.
Watching the Trayvon Martin case unfold in 2012 has struck me as eerily redolent of the 1960s, when several all-white juries did for Byron De La Beckwith, the man who killed Medgar Evers, what today's "Stand Your Ground" law has so far done for George Zimmerman. While there have been a number of protests, marches and rallies calling for justice for Trayvon, it seems to me that the local authorities in this case have shown no commitment to rational decision-making, and so they have no reason to heed vocal appeals to conscience, justice or reason, no matter how earnest.
The Civil Rights movement showed us time and again (in Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, and others) that what motivates local officials is not appeals to conscience and fairness but rather realizing they are going to have to clothe, feed and house a large influx of prisoners they did not anticipate, close huge budget shortfalls because of bus boycotts, etc.
Accordingly, this Sunday, April 8, 2012, starting around 7pm, I invite you to march with me on foot from Boston to the police station in Sanford, Florida, in order to conduct a non-violent sit-in protest of the ongoing failure of the police department and state attorney's office to execute their legally prescribed duty to act on the probable cause that exists to arrest George Zimmerman (as a former prosecutor and public defender that has argued probable cause in many cases, and after careful review of Florida case law and statutes, I do not reach this conclusion lightly).
Please meet me between City Hall and the Government Station T stop in Boston, to accompany me on the march, or any portion of it, and to show your support and wish me off. I choose this site because of its dual symbolic importance as the seat of the American Revolution and where an American flag was used in a racial attack on an African American man in 1976.
I will be leaving from Government Center and heading south down Blue Hill Avenue. I will not be taking anything except the clothes on my back, identification and a cell phone. I will be relying on the kindness, or not, of strangers and supporters of the cause. I hope you will join me, and I hope the local authorities in Sanford will do the right thing before I, and hopefully we, are able to march 1,300 miles.
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Funding Unsuccessful This project reached the deadline without achieving its funding goal on April 26, 2012.
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