Sunday, February 19, 2017

Just how do we get this alien life force off of our starship?

Sitting in my blogging chair since 2005....

I am not a member of the press. I do not represent the mainstream media in any way.

I am a blogger. A progressive blogger, prog-blogger to those who still use the term. An attendee of Netroots Nation. A sometimes blogger on Daily Kos. An embedded blogger (courtesy of the Dean brothers) to the 2008 Dem convention when we thought we entered a new and glorious era of truth, justice and the American way.

I am a Liberal in almost every way.

When it comes to telling the truth, I am s staunch conservative. Truth must be proven. It must be based on facts.

How do I talk about the post-truth Trump administration? A very good question. Fortunately, I do not have to experience press gatherings in Washington, D.C. How would I discern Trump's very strange press conference this past week? It's easy to call him an idiot, a fool, a madman. None of that seems to put a dent in Trump. He just keeps babbling on, no matter what sort of verbal ammunition you use on him.

Trump seems to be an alien life form who feeds on the fear and confusion of his enemies. Remember that Star Trek episode when a shimmering alien life force pits humans against Klingons? The force stokes the fears of both sides and then feeds off of that fear. The only way to get the alien force off the Enterprise is to declare peace and laugh it off. Go see "The Day of the Dove," season three, episode 11.

Scorn and satire doesn't work with Trump. He feeds off of the name-calling. He doesn't get the satire. You have to have a knowledge base to get it upended by satire and irony. Trump doesn't read books. He makes deals. He's using fear and anger against us. And he doesn't get any of our jokes.

Just how in the heck do we get this alien off of our ship?

No easy answer, especially to those of us who pride ourselves in being decent artistic types who pride ourselves in not ranting and raving at the drop off a hat. Will that be our downfall?

Nothing stopped Hitler except brute force. He cheated and lied and schemed to take over his country and then tried to take over the world. No wonder we can't let go of World War II. It was a titanic struggle. The forces of good triumphed over evil. The forces of good used horribly violent means to do so. We never quite got over the rush. Some say that Trump's U.S. looks like like Nazi Germany with the swastika, imperial Rome with to the togas, and Il Duce without the pouting Mussolini. We have the pouting Trump. America First!

Sabrina Tavernise writes today in the New York Times, Are Liberals Helping Trump? In it, Ms. Tavernise posits that the wise-ass and snarky and condescending attitudes of the liberals are driving away moderate Republicans. Where else do they have to go?

She wants to compare the current strife to the late 60s and early 70s, when every public discourse erupted into a fight about Vietnam, civil rights, or how long you could wear your hair. But her prime example goes all the way back to the Civil War years. That's scary.

Liberals are angry at themselves, too, that we didn't prevent this. We just took for granted that the intelligent liberal candidate would win. We didn't treat seriously those big rallies of Trump's. Yes, some of those people were unhinged but many more were just angry at the state of the nation. They turned out to vote on Nov. 8. I helped Dem voters get to the polling stations, visited many around Cheyenne, and long lines were the rule rather than the exception. They were Trump voters. Even worse, they were people who usually didn't vote but by God were going to vote for Trump this time. They were former Bill Clinton and Barack Obama voters who couldn't stomach a liberal woman lawyer in the White House after watching Fox News blather against Obama for eight years. Fuck you, they said to liberals. And now we're returning the fuck yous.

That's as far as my political punditry goes. The Republicans are going to dismantle everything that I care about: Corporation for Public Broadcasting, NPR, NEA, NEH, ACA, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public transportation, clean air, clean water, public lands -- the list goes on and on. There's nothing to hinder this process but a few judges and possible outrage from the citizenry. But a lot of the citizenry love Trump's attacks on liberals and media. And we only have the satisfaction of our witty social media posts,

We will all be stuck in the coming Dark Ages together. Maybe then we can find common ground.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Here are some tips to avoid those typo gremlins

Nobody in the Trump administration asked me for help, but I am offering it anyway.

First of all, a bit of history about typographical errors. They have been with us since the advent of the printing press. And spelling errors, well, they have been with us since humankind began sketching out a language on mud tablets or papyrus or cave walls, whatever was handy.

Humans are fallible. When  you combine that with high visibility, it's an invitation for trouble. I know this from almost 40 years as a writer and editor.

#45's first poster featured either a spelling error or a typo. SCSOE Betsy DeVos's office misspelled African-American activist's W.E.B. Dubois's name on a press release for Black History Month and compounded the problem by apologizing with the wrong form of apology.

We know that these people have the advantage of higher education. In other words, they're not uneducated. Gross negligence is another problem. Impulsivity, maybe, as we know that POTUS is impulsive on Twitter at 5 a.m.

I offer some tips on avoiding these little gremlins in your written documents, whether they appear only on social media or on thousands of posters, one of which will end up in the National Archives. The term "gremlins" is a good description for these little devils. It comes from British pilots in the 1920s, who needed something (rather than somone) to blame for the failings of their rickety aircraft. It really caught on during WWII, when pilots in the Battle of Britain referred to gremlins as the thing that gummed up the throttle, caused fuel leaks and generally ran amok over the whole works. Gremlins persist, which may be the cause of constant dysfunction at the Trump White House.

 One more thing. Do not treat Spell Check as the last word on your document. Apology, apologies and apologize(s) are all correct. Too and to are both words. Their use depends on context. Can you say context?

Some recent examples:

1. Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor, wasn't too careful when he talked to two (or maybe two-and-twenty) Russian sources about U.S. national secrets.

You can see how to, too and two are used. Two-and-twenty is antiquated, best relegated to nursery rhyme and blogs. Besides, it could have been two million for all we will ever know.

2. Betsy DeVos offered no apology for giving money to all of the Republicans who voted for her nomination as Secretary of Education. She does apologize that it wasn't more, but that will be taken care of shortly.

Apology is a noun and is used here correctly. Apologize is a verb and it is also used correctly here. One of these days, all of these hacks will apologize to the American people but we won't hold our breath.

3. White House spokesman Stephen Miller msaid out loud that we shouldn't dare question POTUS's decision, whether it by on national security or Ivanka's clothing line. We can only conclude that he speaks with great precision, but obviously is batshit crazy.

That's all for today, language nerds. Your humble narrator signs off until I am needed again, which will be soon.

Monday, February 13, 2017

In memoriam: John Clark Pratt

I called him Dr. Pratt because it seemed appropriate. John Clark Pratt possessed a deep voice, military bearing, steely gaze. No surprise after 20 years in the Air Force, some of those in Vietnam (and neighboring countries), and then a stint teaching at the Air Force Academy.

At Colorado State University, he taught creative writing. He was the only writing prof hanging around the Eddy Building as I prowled around on a summer day in 1988. I dropped in. He gave me some of his time and, when I left, thought I had found the right place to get my M.F.A.

I was right. Dr. Pratt conducted one of my first writing workshops. He helped me fine-tune a sci-fi story that he thought was pretty good. You don't read too many sci-fi pieces in writing workshop. It's mostly dysfunctional family minimalism (DFM). No surprise, since most of the students are in their 20s and fresh out of their undergraduate experience and not too far away from their tormented youth. I was older, late 30s, fresh from a corporate PR gig and before that, years as a journalist and then a free-lance writer. If I had a tormented youth, it was way behind me.

I wasn't a better writer than my younger peers. I just wrote different stuff. I was used to being edited and revised and wasn't upset when others took a hand to it. So I published and kept writing, going through critiques, stopping to chat with Dr. Pratt along the way. He had published two great books about the Vietnam War, The Laotian Fragments and Vietnam Voices. In the latter book, he put together a pastiche of poets and writers, veterans and peaceniks. He had helped start the CSU Library's Vietnam War special collection. Nosing around in that collection, partitioned like a bunker in the basement of the old library, which in the late 1980s still had its card catalog and a new but rudimentary computerized system. While hanging out in the bunker, I discovered its future wars section. My first novel manuscript rests in that collection. It's the only way you can read it, if you're interested.

Dr. Pratt passed away Jan. 2 in Fort Collins after a long and gallant battle with cancer. We'd been in touch a few years ago when he was looking for a publisher for his new novel. Still writing, even as he battled the Big C. He wondered if my Denver publisher might be interested in the book. I asked. They were, but I don't think it worked out as the press vanished shortly thereafter. It felt good to do him this small favor. Then two weeks ago, I found out from a writer friend that Dr. Pratt had passed away.

Last week, I received a call from a woman whose club was preparing Dr. Pratt's household for an estate sale. She said she found in Dr. Pratt's library my business card and letter in a copy of my short story collection. She invited me to FoCo for a preview of the estate sale. I went.

It's too bad I no longer am accumulating books. My shelves are full, I have many boxes of books in the basement and I am retired. But I thought it might be a way to help in some way, maybe use it as a way to say farewell to Dr. Pratt.

My friend John met me there. He taught with Dr. Pratt and he too is retired. Linda showed us into the room containing Pratt's research books. The director of the Vietnam War collection had already been out to sort through the material. John and I found some collectible books that hadn't been priced as well as well as some wonderful early editions, especially of books from the 1960s. A row of Joseph Heller's books, including early hardcovers of Catch-22. John Updike, Ken Kesey, Kenn Babbs, Timothy Leary. Pratt knew them all, and was interested in all of the voices of the sixties. I thought, "Wouldn't it be great to have books that a mentor cared enough to keep?" The answer was yes. But I resisted. John and I found excellent copies of 1984 and Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here, both of which we turned over to Linda for pricing. I found a first edition of James Burke's first novel,The Lost Get-Back Boogie. It was an LSU Press original and back before the author became Best-Selling NYT-Author James Lee Burke. English majors would like the fact that an excerpt of the book was first published in CutBank, University of Montana's excellent litmag. I found a big box of Vietnam War research material, including a Look Magazine cover with the header, "We're Winning in Vietnam." It was fall of 1967, just a few months before Tet.

I attended Dr. Pratt's funeral at Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church. His adult children recounted their memories and we had a few laughs. The Poudre River Irregulars, minus its banjo player, played a few tunes, closing out with "When Those Saints Go Marching in."

I am thankful that I had Dr. Pratt as a mentor. He saw things in my writing that I did not. He encouraged me when I needed encouraging. You never know what kind of impact people will have on you. It's important that you give them a chance and see what happens.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness a great read

Imagine it's 2009 and you're a 24-year-old newspaper reporter living and working in New York City. An exciting life, sprinting all over town for stories and interviews. At night, hanging out in bars with your main squeeze and young friends. One day, you wake up with bites on your arm and imagine that your body and tiny apartment are infected with bedbugs. Then you start to hallucinate. Paranoia grips you and you are convinced that your boyfriend is cheating. You have trouble speaking and then erupt in epileptic convulsions.

I'm going crazy. That's your first thought but it's wrong. You are in the beginning stages of autoimmune encephalitis. Your brain is on fire. Your immune system is attacking your brain. Seizures, convulsions, hallucinations are part of it. You speak in tongues, as it says in the Bible, and if you lived in medieval England, your contortions and babbling might be mistaken for demonic possession. If you lived in 2009 America, your loved ones might think you were in the grip of schizophrenia or some other mental illness. You might end up in an institution for the rest of your life, which could be short if you contract the illness in its most lethal form.

Susannah Cahalan was lucky. She found the right neurologist and became the poster child for the disease which, before her, had only been diagnosed 217 times. She recovered and, being a dedicated journalist, wrote a book, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. It's now a movie.

It's scary reading. Compelling. My daughter Annie gave me her copy. She is bipolar and devours books on mental illness or supposed mental illness. She intends to become a music therapist once she and her therapists get a handle on her illness. She will be a good one, too, as she has experienced a good decade of struggles within the mental health system. It's not really a system. It pretends to be but not enough attention or time is devoted to it. We tend to warehouse those with mental illness, especially those who have the more challenging schizophrenia or schizo-effective disorder or are bipolar, which used to be known as manic-depression.  These people are challenged every day. They can be treated but it takes so much time and attention and money which could be spent on more important things,, such as a billion-dollar aircraft carrier to fight Islamic terrorists lurking in an elley in Mosul. Or more tax cuts to the ridiculously rich. Heaven help the needy amongst us now that Trump is running things.

I just finished reading Brain on Fire. It's well-written and, as I already mentioned, scary, especially for those of us who struggle with mental illness -- or have loved ones who do. Highly recommended. Not sure about the movie -- haven't got around to watching it. It screened in September at the Toronto International Film Festival and received lukewarm reviews. Read the Hollywood Reporter review here. Read the book instead. A 2012 New York Times review by Michael Greenberg offers insight.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Is corporate America really our enemy?

I watched the entire Super Bowl, from its hope-filled opening to its bitter end. I saw an hour of the pre-game show but didn't watch the post-mortem, when Trump's boy, Tom Brady, celebrated in style. Or I assume that he did.

Funny how this football game became a forum to challenge #45. Big corporations paid big money to air their inclusive views on race, immigration, history. Budweiser told the story of its German immigrant founder, including a scene at the docks where nativist Know Nothings harass him and other "foreigners." 84 Lumber aired the story of a Latin American mother and her young daughter and their trek to the U.S., to reunite with the father. Unfortunately, the imagined Trump wall almost got in their way. Air B&B addressed intolerance by exhibiting the many faces of our neighbors. All of the ads featured Americans of varying colors and creeds and statuses. The America that exists now, not the fear-plagued, hateful nation summoned by Trump. Creative people imagined these ads, wrote them, shot them, acted in them, edited them. Creativity is one of our greatest strengths. It can reveal, in creative ways, the xenophobic ways of the fascist, who hates creativity and humor and the First Amendment.

At the end of last night's game, I wondered: Will it be the corporations that save us from Trump? You must be a huge entity to afford Super Bowl ads. To be a huge entity, you need to appeal to the largest possible audience. For years, Coke and Bud and McD's have featured a rainbow of talent in their commercials. Look at ads from your childhood in the 50s-70s. White people. Look at commercial TV now and you see America as it actually exists. We have African-Americans and Latinos, Somalis and Salvadorans. We have hearing-impaired people signing a language that it as foreign to most of us as Urdu. We have people in wheelchairs.

This apparently irritates Trump supporters, who tend to be rural and white. They look around their small town and see people like them. They watch cable TV and see a changed America, one that is foreign and scary. It's mainly urban and young. They go to Denver and Salt Lake City and Albuquerque and see this America in living color. It's intimidating. Almost like a foreign country.

Many of my city friends laugh when I say that I'm a city boy. I say I live in a capital city, the largest one in my state, one of only two Metropolitan Statistical Areas. If asked, I say that the population is 68,000, the size of some suburbs in their state. They think I'm funny.

Back to corporations. Many liberals see them as the enemy. They are trying to take over the world, make everybody live in a cookie-cutter world. They are the enemies of craft brewers and locavores and indie bands.

But corporations employ smart people and see what's going on. Corporate brewers buy up craft brewers and try to duplicate their appeal. Fast-food giants try to be like the mom-and-pop neighborhood bistro, offering artisan this and handmade that. They know things are changing. But we sneer at them, superior beings that we are. Meanwhile, they hire people of color who are dependable and smart. These companies understand that Trump's prejudices will kill their businesses.

Look around you. See who works at your favorite restaurant and coffee shop. Investigate their politics. See who they are connected to in public. You can hate Starbuck's if you want, but it is an open-minded company, one that challenges the Trumpsters. Buy a coffee there and one at your locally-owned coffee shop. Thing is, your local shop may be owned by rabid Republicans just following a proven business model. Maybe Starbuck's is more attuned to your beliefs.

Some wingnuts are calling for a Budweiser boycott. Last summer, Bud changed its flagship beer's name to "America." I didn't drink any America. I thought it was silly, and that only bikers and cowboys would fall for it. But now I will drink a Bud for every Fat Tire or 90 Shilling I drink. Not sure if my heart can take too many fast-food meals, but there must be something I can eat at Wendy's. It's important to support those companies who dared to challenge a despot on the biggest sporting event of the year

Monday, January 30, 2017

"Be kind of everybody. Make art. Fight the power."

"Be kind to everybody. Make art. Fight the power."

Colson Whitehead's advice during his acceptance speech in November for the National Book Award in fiction. I am in the mood to take Whitehead's advice as I just read thousands of words he strung together for The Underground Railroad, his award-winning book. That's trust, isn't it? To be willing to give over your time and imagination for someone else's version of the world? That's what all writers hope readers will do. And if we can trust the writer with this, we can also trust that he or she will give us good advice. Maybe not. Ayn Rand was a writer and she dispensed lousy advice. I read her books as a young, impressionable reader. Good people write books. Bad people write books and give bad advice. What is one to do?

Be kind of everybody. Keep reading the good stuff. Keep writing. Make art. Speak truth to power.

For some context, here is a longer quote from Whitehead's NBA speech (from Vulture):
This time last year I was finishing up the book and was like, Don't mess up the last 20 pages, Colson. Every day I'm like, Only 19 pages to go, don't mess it up, Colson. And you never know what's going to happen in a year. And now the book is out and I would never think I would be standing here. And who knows where we're gonna be a year from now. We're sort of happy in here, outside is the blasted hellhole wasteland of Trumpland which we're going to inhabit. But who knows what's going to happen a year from now. And because I'm still promoting the book, people have been like, "Do you have any words about the election?" And I'm like, "Not really" — I'm sort of stunned. And I hit upon something that was making me feel better, and I guess it was, I think, hopefully applicable to other folks: Be kind to everybody, make art, and fight the power. That seemed like a good formula for me, anyway. So B, M, F, and if you have trouble remembering that, a good mnemonic device to tell yourself is, They can't break me because I'm a Bad Mother Fucker. Thank you. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Learning to Breathe, Part IV

Read Part III here.

In Part IV, our concluding episode, the Hailie Salassie automaton comes to life and chases down some fascists. 

“Here he comes.” Bobby the cowboy pointed the front doors of the depot. They opened, and an entourage stepped out. Several photographers, three uniformed policemen and, finally, the lanky and lucky Mr. Lindbergh. He blinked when the sun hit his eyes. He was dressed in a gray suit. He didn’t look like a famous aviator. He didn’t look like a guy whose baby had been kidnapped and killed. He didn’t look like a guy who was Hitler’s buddy.
“Let’s go boys,” said Doherty.
He stepped forward and others followed.
Weaver had rigged the truck’s tailgate to serve as a lift. He and Doherty rolled the Lion of Judah to the tailgate, Weaver hit a lever on the side of the truck and Ras Tafari dropped slowly to the ground. They rolled the statue off of the tailgate onto the pavement.
Weaver always referred to his creation as Halie Selassie, Lion of Judah. He had tried and failed to get his statue to walk. But he did figure out how to make him move. Doherty didn’t understand it all. A coal-fired boiler turned some gears that turned other gears that powered wheels on the bottom of the statue. Smoke escaped out of an exhaust pipe at the back, which added an ominous fire-and-brimstone element to the scene. Weaver had also rigged a phonograph which played a recorded version of Selassie’s League of Nations’ speech from speakers on the truck cab roof. Not a bad set-up, and effective as long as the automaton didn’t get too far ahead of the truck. He and Weaver had even used their sound system to play music at hobo jungles and tent camps. One night Weaver tried to get Ras Tafari to spin with the music. He played with the gears but the best he could do was get Ras Tafari to stop and go in four-four time. That was at an encampment near Des Moines. They had a fine time that night with the dancing and the moonshine. And Weaver had his reefer.
Weaver walked next to his contraption, making sure it kept on course. Ras Tafari had his eyes on the fascist Lindbergh. Doherty stood in the open door of the truck. He waited for Weaver’s signal. Their goal was to drown out Lindy’s speech. And to cause a commotion. Lindy now stood behind a microphone in front of the depot. He and his entourage had certainly by now seen the coal-powered Selassie coming their way. The automaton’s exhaust added to the day’s haze caused by dust from farmers’ fields hundreds of miles away. A fire burned in Cheyenne. It joined thousands of other fires burning all over the world. And this was just the beginning.
Lindbergh stepped up to the microphone. “Good afternoon,” he said. “I’m Charles Lindbergh.” A smattering of applause. Two men held up signs that read “Defend America First” in big black letters. A group of women dressed in old-fashioned black mourning attire huddled by the microphone. One held up a sign that read “Mothers Against War.”
Weaver turned, grinned and smartly saluted Doherty. That was the sign. Doherty dropped the phonograph's arm on the record. Scratching noises erupted from the truck-top speakers. Lindbergh paused. Some in the welcoming crowd turned to see the truck. Their gazes alighted on Ras Tafari chugging toward them. Doherty thought he heard a gasp.
“It’s OK, ladies and gentlemen,” said Lindbergh. “Just a stunt. Communists try to interrupt me all of the time. They fear my message.”
Hailie Selassie addressed the League of Nations in Geneva on June 20, 1936. He told them that “God and history shall remember your judgment,” just as his automaton told the crowd in Cheyenne three years later.
Doherty now could hear only Selassie – the distant emperor was doing a terrific job of drowning out the words of America’s heroic aviator.
“What answer shall I take back to my people?” Selassie said.
Lindbergh talked on. Some in his entourage glanced nervously at the mobile and articulate Ras Tafari. A man in a suit walked over to a policeman and had some words with him. The policeman nodded. He gathered two of his officers and walked toward Weaver and Ras Tafari. Doherty had seen this happen before in other towns. Officials become alarmed and attempt to stop Ras Tafari as he delivers his message. Smarter ones go to the truck and tried to interrupt the broadcast by confiscating the equipment or smashing the record. After this happened twice, Weaver and Doherty got wise. Doherty now locked himself inside the truck cab. The cops would stand outside and stare, not knowing what to do. One enterprising cop in Grand Island, Nebraska, ripped the speakers off of the top of the truck. They got wise to that and, next time someone tried that, Doherty sent a jolt of electricity along the wires. The cop screamed and went flying off the truck, landing on his keister on the asphalt street. He then took out his billy and broke the truck window and then the phonograph. They got arrested that time.
But here in Cheyenne? The cops walked over to Ras Tafari. The burly police chief barked orders at his minions. They stood in front of Ras Tafari. They put up their hands and yelled, “Halt.” Ras Tafari must not have understood because he kept on rolling. It’s tough to tell the Lion of Judah to halt. The automaton reached the cops’ hands but kept right on going. The cops tried to lean on Selassie, but were finally pushed back and then parted, each moving to the side of the automaton. The one closest to Weaver grabbed him and his compatriot came over and grabbed Weaver’s other arm. Weaver didn’t resist – he knew better. One of the officers said something to Weaver. He shrugged, pointing over at Selassie and shaking his head no. The police chief came over. He barked at Weaver who shook his head again and probably said, “There’s nothing I can do Mr. Police Chief sir.” Meanwhile, by the depot, Lindbergh continued to speak and here at the truck, Doherty chuckled.
Then, the unexpected. Ras Tafari, obviously impatient to meet Lindbergh, sped up. Lindbergh didn’t seem to notice but his entourage did. They began to drift away. One man in a dark suit walked up behind Lindbergh. The man whispered something to Lindy, who looked up to see the automaton closing on him fast, not at running speed exactly, more like a brisk walk. Lindy shook his head and returned to his remarks. The crowd made a path for Ras Tafari. The police chief now walked over to the truck. He banged on the closed driver’s side window with his fist. Doherty had taken all precautions. Windows up, doors locked.
“Come out of there now,” the police chief said, “or you will be arrested.”
Doherty did what he always did. He put his hand to his ear and said, “I can’t hear you.”
“Turn it off,” yelled the police chief, pointing at the photograph.
“What?” yelled Doherty?
The police chief had a decision to make. He looked at Doherty and then over at the automaton. He saw that America’s hero was in danger of being run over by the emperor. Doherty knew that the man would love to smash the window and then smash his face. But he also knew that police chief’s don’t let Lindbergh get killed in their town. It wouldn’t look good and it wasn’t the right move as far as job security. Fuming, the police chief took one final look and yelled, “I’ll get you” and then sped off toward the depot.
The two photographers on the scene were having a field day. They were lined up and ready to snap the moment when Lindy got run over by the Lion of Judah. This would be big news and they’d get paid well for their shots.
But Lindy was wise to the situation. He let Selassie get to within two feet and backed away from the microphone. Ras Tafari was still moving and closing fast. Lindy shook his fist at the automaton. The automaton kept coming. Weaver looked over at Doherty and smiled. This was the best yet. Lindy backed up. The automaton advanced. The photographers were getting their shots. The crowd murmured. The police chief came to Lindy’s aid. He inserted himself between the aviator and the emperor. He and Lindy both gave way. The police chief wore a determined look. He wasn’t sure about the look on Lindy’s face. It wasn’t anger. More of a bland acceptance. He just backed slowly while Selassie chugged. The police chief barked at Lindy. He took one more look at the automaton, turned and walked quickly for the depot doors. He disappeared inside. Now it was just the cop and the statue.
“It is us today, it will be you tomorrow.” Selassie ended his speech and applause rang out from the august body sitting on their asses in Geneva. They would do nothing, of course. They would congratulate the dark-skinned emperor on his fine speech and then adjourn for lunch. Selassie would return to the safety of England. Italians would continue to gas illiterate tribesmen. Franco killed Basques in Spain. Japanese raped and killed women in Nanking. Hitler put Jews and communists in concentration camps.
The automaton collided with the depot wall, tilted slightly and then changed direction. It was hard to say how far he would go. The fire would go out, eventually, the smoke would dissipate. Selassie would once again be a big mute mass of metal. He and Weaver would spend at least one night in jail. He’d call one of his old union buddies to bail them out.
Lindbergh, meanwhile, would be on his way to Laramie and Rock Springs and Ogden. Maybe they’d catch up with him, there. Maybe not. But they would, somewhere along the line. He had his mission, they had theirs.
Doherty unlocked the truck and stepped outside. The cops had cuffed Weaver and marched him toward the truck.
“I’ll go peacefully,” Doherty said.
The cowboy returned. “Can I take care of the statue while you boys are being detained?”
"Sure,” said Weaver. “How do we get in touch?”
The cowboy’s grizzled face beamed. “I’ll know where you are.”
“OK,” said Weaver.
The cop urged Doherty forward. “You’re in trouble, boy,” he said.
“No, you are,” said Doherty. “You just don’t know it yet.”


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On Monday, Jan. 30, the author talks about the roots of this story.