Thursday, June 16, 2011

Waiting for the Bus

It's amazing how little it looked like things had changed. From a seat at the downtown bus terminal it looked like a normal slice of Americana. The to-ing and fro-ing of people as they went to school or work or shopping seemed much as I imagined it always had. Of course, there probably weren't as many suits back when there was gas to be had and commuting was a way of life for most of us. I wouldn't know; I was one of those commuters, happily driving back and forth in comfort. There were fewer suits then, I suppose, but damned sure fewer soldiers and cops with automatic weapons.

One of the soldiers walked by, barely looking at me. He was barely out of his teens and his focused lack of interest betrayed his boredom eloquently. It was the look of someone who didn't really know what he was doing, or why, only that there were orders to be followed. I felt sorry for him. When politicians make stupid decisions, whether it's starting wars or passing laws that are clearly immoral, if not illegal, it's kids like him that end up doing the shit work. Maybe he signed up out of some idea of patriotism or just because he was broke, but he sure as hell didn't sign up expecting to patrol a bus terminal and maybe shoot some citizen that wouldn't toe the line. Or maybe he did. Hard as it is to believe, there had to be some Americans that approved of the martial law, the curfews, and the travel restrictions. After all, the jerks that supported those laws kept getting elected and even the people who yelled "voter fraud" couldn't deny that some people were voting for them.

I sighed and turned to watch the crazy guy. That's one thing that I know hadn't changed. We used to call them "RW" for "resident weirdo": the borderline crazies, mostly harmless, who panhandled or just hung around public spaces. That still wasn't illegal and, given the number of homeless and unemployed the ironically named "New Prosperity Act" was creating, wasn't likely to be. This particular RW looked rather normal, if unkempt, save for the constant dancing and off-key singing that didn't seem nearly so odd until you noticed that the cord of his headphone wasn't connected to anything. As the soldier passed, for an instant the craziness melted away from the RW, like Clark Kent melting into Superman in that old movie, and in that moment he looked directly at me and quirked an eyebrow at me and nodded almost imperceptibly toward the soldier. Then just as quickly he morphed back into the dancing crazy.

Heart pounding, I stood up, grabbed my bag, and walked as calmly as I could away from the station. I had to get to the dead drop. The movement was starting.

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