So what do you want?

” You seemed to be so concerned with Talk and free to be saying what your own interpretations of anything. Free to yell, condemn anybody and yet not KNOW anything. So tell me what do you THINK, FEEL, OR DEMAND of YOUR DECIDERS?! You did so LAST NIGHT!! SO MUCH SO THAT COMMON SENSE LEFT.”
Jason called out. “They need to protect us, our homes, our work. We shouldn’t have to worry about whether there is going to be a loud, dangerous group yelling and hurting people or a group of armed military types, not answerable to any of us SENT from some faraway man.”
“So you want someone to keep you safe and make the decisions about everything?” The professor wrote the answer on the old blackboard.

Pink shook her fluorescent pigtails. ” NO! not control everything !”
Mike, a bearded suit guy, from the professional circle, shook his head at Pink. “Wait, The problem areas are complicated, THICK, hard! You have to be careful or affairs will get worse!”
“Not so!” The red shirted guys yelled out. “I want someone to make sure people WE DON’T NEED, DON’T STAY!’ We have too many needs and too many people” They were high-five-ing each other and glaring at the girls.
Violet and Daisy moved their seats father back against the wall . Their amber and green eyes shone in the shadow of the cabinet.
Misty, one of the white haired girls, glared at the Red shirted guys, “Speaking of which, let’s start with you!” She started forward.
I caught her and said in Dad’s teacher voice. “What is needed is for someone to listen to many sides, gather information, ask for smart help, research and THEN EXPLAIN the Middle way and WHY to all of us.”

Before the two group of guys on either side of me or the girls started in on each other. Our old study partner said in a his old studious voice.
“Always the same, every time.” He wandered among us and frowned. “His way, her way, their interpretation, your interpretation!” He looked weary and tired. Frowning, he looked down at the papers on the floor by the suits, “Do you want a person who does the research, listens to people, understand and follow the rules. A person who seeks help from educated people and then can explain the options to the rest of us? Who can decide what and why.”

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He rubbed his chin and looking at the Blue jean posse who were trying to sneak out. He called out.
“Do you want a single one person who decides what is to be and that is that! No discussion or disagreements allowed.”
A person who says, “I am the only person who can make this country. Don’t listen to those other guys. They don’t know. and besides I don’t obey the rules or the laws. I HAVE THE AUTHORITY! . Just Trust and LISTEN TO ME!”
The red shirts straighten up and ceased their whispering. He continued “A person who can say, ‘I can send out my squads of enforcers who only answer to me to your town, or area for any reason. Otherwise, if you don’t do what I say then my legal guys can tackle you with a treason charge. WHENEVER you disagree with me concerning anything is an ATTACK ON THIS GOVERNMENT!”

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Everyone stared at the professor and the three groups mesmerized in anger with each other, froze. The blue jean posse sank into the chairs just in front of them. Mike looked up and Misty stared at him. “What a choice and not much time?” He mumbled, shaking. She cleared her throat and repeated what he said. Everyone looked at the blackboard. Silence.

Random Interpretations

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“What is the difference between a random group of people just sitting and a group of people sitting and talking to each other?”
The Black Gentleman wrote the question and smiled, but his eyes narrowed in an uncomfortable manner, like we were all in a very large bear trap .
He could see our confused, uncertain faces as he turned and numbered the sentences. Several glances passed among us, from group to group, while waiting for someone else to break the silence.
‘One of my history study group was writing a second, more descriptive set of sentences. I couldn’t get used to the fact that HE was a professor of some reputation.
The black gentleman turned and stared at the white girls group.
“The first group is full of single, narrow-minded, uncaring, insular, and totally selfish girls.”
He wrote brackets around “sitting”. Pink’s face darkened, turning her nose red. Tipping her head slightly sideways, she sketched a figure and handed it over to the Misty.
“The second group is a united, concerned community who is committed to taking care of the people who live around them.”
He wrote a star beside the sentence and smiled at the Blue jean posse. I caught grins out of the corner of my eye, the blue jean posse was grinning, slapping backs and fist bumping as they moved their chairs away from the Athletes.
I reread the second set of sentences. The only difference? was the talking? . I was confused and irritated . ‘How dare he say that about Pink and the girls? He knew them and the blue jean guys from last night!’
The professionals frowned as they leaned towards each other, jabbering and flying through papers and books. The wall of blue was closing off. They generally did their confab when class was over.
The black gentleman called out “Am I right?”
There were many tilted heads and askanced shrugs . I looked around at everyone. There were many people ignoring him and no body was answering. I crept my hand up as one of the Athletes called out. “one group is talking to each other.”
“There isn’t enough information given, to make that judgement!” Gerald stated from the Confab circle . “all that-” He pointed at the board, “says is two groups are present, one is talking and one is not.”
The Black Gentleman underlined to top two sentences. “These sentences? ”
He thumped his notebook on the table in front of us. “It is my authority to say what I want IT to say.” He propped his foot on the chest . One of the bearded suits spoke up.
“I don’t see how you came up with the interpretations that you did? There isn’t any proof to say how you condemn one and advanced the other?”
The suits were all nodding, with their hands knotted on their notebooks.
The Black Gentleman stood up on the chest! and bellowed !
“What does that matter?!”

Questions unknown

A few minutes before class was starting, we wandered into where we were told to meet. It was a strange place. An area leftover during the construction of the rooms on this floor. There were unmatched chairs from all over. I recognized chairs from my history class. There were some writing chairs from the labs and chairs from the libraries. The red shirted guys sat in the chairs which were missing pieces and balanced themselves semi-gracefully.

The black gentleman dropped his case on a chest stashed under a chalk board. ‘ Honestly, I don’t remember seeing a board like it .’ I leaned over to see the old frame, which didn’t seem that stable, wincing as he clipped it.
“We are starting- ” He paused, looking up from his writing as chairs were scooted noisily around, papers and bags shifted. He looked at the blue jeans posse, as they continued their conversing.
“Instead”- The white haired girls , dressed in white with bold blue flowers, joined in. ” of the examples in the text.” He leaned back against the board and rolled his eyes, the counting had mentally begun. A lot of sh-shing was given to the people not paying attention.
” We are starting the topic called Community and Values.” He raised his voice and cut off the loud corrections from the assembly. He puckered his lips at the small groups chittering.
“Instead!-” his voice screeching as the chalk scratched across the slate surface, silencing everyone as the looked for the sound. ” of the examples and topics given in your guides.-”
He leaned forward on a near desk and moved it backwards, into the other desks, causing several gasps.

‘I have never seen him as a dangerous wizard, but that is what he seemed to me.
Many people drew in their breaths, the setting now seemed to make more sense, out of bounds, away from the public spaces. Eyes looked in all areas of the old, dusty, haunted room and bodies slid. Pink was looking over at an athletic guy with a shiner and knuckled sized bruises along his chin. I was looking at two of the loud red-shirted guys from last night. They were bent over a paper between them. Nobody was talking. The expressions on most faces were of uncertainty–fear? Indifference ? or was that a self defense mask?

Changing ?

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The black gentleman caught the arm of the suited guy near him as he lunged forward. Shaking his head at him, the black gentleman pushed his way forward toward where Diamond could be heard. Barely making a wave, people looked at him and then parted. The black gentleman stepped up and called out.
” Is this what you are calling for?” His booming voice trembled. ” You yelled and damaged and yet I do not hear any workable ideas or plans! ”
‘I have never heard him sound so strong. He always seemed so quiet and always just listening.’ Now we all listened .
” WE WANT WHAT WE ARE DUE! ” yelled one guy on the other side, all dressed in red, he threw a stick to his friends up front. Several of the blue jean posse from around the rock, called out . “We want reparations for what has happened.” waving the stick covered in red goo and tossed it at Diamond.
The Ombre athletes called out. ” It is worse and getting more worse still. The attacks are increasing almost as if the Braggards KNOW that will NOT be stopped by Uppers government!”
The Black Gentleman looked up at the sky before calling out. “That is still being researched.”
Diamond called out . ” Yes, attacks are worse. YES, THEY ARE WRONG!!” He pointed the stick at the Reds. “How is creating chaos and fear, giving us security? or Peace or –?”
” NOTHING HAS CHANGED. Only becoming worse. We are tired of being afraid!” came voices from the group in front of me, they had been jostling each other and rattling bags in which metal clanked. Looking like Hollywood cowboys in their red and black cowboy shirts, orange, blue or purple bandanas tied in a motley of ways with crisp, dark blue jeans, I chuckled thinking how fake they looked.
The Black Gentleman yelled above them . ” How does creating disarray protect anyone? How does destroying jobs and places around you? STOP the Braggards?”
Diamond waved the stick covered in a red goo. ” You are acting in the same manner as the Braggards are always warning all people. ” The Black Gentleman turned, waving a white stick, ” Why are You! ” pointing at the guys all dressed in Red.”traveling from place to place, creating riots and destruction?” The Red group on the other side, shuffled, jostled, looking at each other, then shook their rattling bottles.

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Reason for change.

Diamond’s tears fell and sparkled on his beard.
The walkway light shining crookedly across him. I am not sure how long I would have been able to stand on the rock, it’s not that big. The looks of the people crowded around me were angry, restlessness. Diamond looked up and his eyes bore into the crowd around me.
“Of course, I want to have them punished!! I want to make them admit what happened!!” He leaned forward and landed in the group of Athletes as he shouted. ” WHEN I WAS YOUNG, THEY MADE A MISTAKE. ” His face was the worst pain I have ever seen. ” THERE WERE FEW SURVIVORS, WE KNOW THAT. I WAS ONE OF THEM. ”

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THE BRAGGARDS RAMMED THROUGH ANYONE AND ANYTHING ! He disappeared but I could hear him and see the tip of his head. ” THE POTSHARDS ARE STILL SAYING THAT IT WAS A MISTAKE, NO ONE WAS REALLY HURT!.” His voice was so hurt, deeply wailing.
“WE SAW WHAT HAPPENED” He rose up and his arms were tight around his chest, the sparkles coloring the faces around him.

A lanky brown man shouted out “The kids were invisible then, weren’t seen then! and We’re more INVISIBLE NOW.!” His voice was strained and hard to understand but ALL around him raised their arms. THE ROARS and Howls vibrated around the area. “AGGRIEVE!!!! CONDEMN!!” the sounds accompanied by several ringing crashes.

One of the raggedy group that was stared down earlier, cupped his hands around his mask and called out “Hey, You SAID THAT WE DIDN’T HAAVE TO WAIT ON HELP, WE COULD TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES. !!” The red faced, droopy guy, in pants that were sliding, tossed a paper cone. Diamond wiped his eyes and caught it. ‘Pretty good reflexes.’ I thought.
“You are RIGHT!-” His breath was harsh. “to be HURT! WHAT HAPPENED IS REPULSIVE, !!” Diamond used the cone to amplify his sore voice.
The buzz of a hundreds different voices talking to each other drowned out what the droopy guy yelled back.

Cat calls

Diamond looked at the crowds. He looked out and saw kids, eyes shining like a moon on a bright night. They were angry and confused and so hopeful. He caught sight of Pink and the girls, they were waving bandanas and scarves like they were at a gathering. He frowned at her and then his eyes narrowed at the energized people. Anger, dripping from hats, signs and bracelets appeared on the people packed together. If one person falls, they may all crash. He observed and shifted his stance but people were distracted by all the rustling and the cacophony of discordant voices.
“You KNOW ME! ” He yelled, stomped his foot and regained his balance.
I want CHANGE!!!!!” HIS VOICE CRACKED and he had to cough.

A player in Ombre exercise pants and a hazy, orange stretchy jacket called out, shouting over groups of girls in front.
“CHANGE!! CHANGE WOULD BE NICE, IF IT DIDN’T MAKE OUR LIVES WORSE.” He elbowed his way forward . ” I have heard you say that we can be patient and talk and- get aid and all KINDS OF HELP!” The player propped his foot on the bottom crag of the rock. ” You have always said, We don’t need anyone to care of us. We are to work on our places . Learn to work together and MAKE THE LAND WORK FOR US.!” He placed his hands on his kidneys and leaned back, looking up at Diamond. ” We did it. We made settled places . WE! ”
A plump sandy haired guy, yelled out ” I tried it and when I did I was hurting for a tlong time.” A chuckle rippled through the crowd , He obviously had not exercised or taking care of anything.

Another voice called into the discussion. ” There are places that are so harmful that I can NOT walk into those areas. My neighbor ,just down from us. Her husband and son were killed separately. The interrupters just appear. No body stops them because there is no ACCESS!.
A high pitched girl’s voice screeched out. Several women around her, clasps her . A stern ,thin office woman called. ” We can’t get the chemicals to stop it and keep us.” Her hands cupped to her mouth resounded around.
A shocked, light skinned, broad woman with the scarf wrapped around her and tears shining on her cheeks. ” Peace is not around us anymore. Pax tish NO!. Kidlet trampled and places are darkined.”
The Athlete in the sunset orange and ombre sports gear, looked up and inquired ” So DO WE DO WHAT, THE PROMISERS SAY TO DO, IN ORDER TO GET WHAT THEY PROMISED?” DIAMOND drew in a extended breath. He shook his head so slightly, I wasn’t sure I saw it. I had a hard time telling what he was thinking or what he would do?

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Diamond Cut

Suddenly, I was the one getting tapped. Diamond was suddenly standing there all in ashen gray. From his scarf on his head to his dusty, grimy, gray laced shoes. He had several days growth on his face .
“It has to- stop! It just has to stop!” His hands were read and scrapped and his eyes were charcoal black and swollen. “There was a tight, withdrawn skin over his cheeks and chin. “We can’t lose anymore, we just CAN’T!”
“Alright, I know.” I crooned sympathetically. But his eye zeroed on me. “ok, so I DON’T KNOW!” I frowned at the sneer, accusing me. “Hey, I didn’t do anything. I have been here!” I held up my hands to the sky. He looked around at the crowd and after he made his way towards the rock, bounced up on it.
People were gathering in tighter and tighter, poking at each other, some laughing and some looking like the storm clouds gaining depth and height the more people wedged in.

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“For uncounted years, we have been patient, we have tried to follow whatever was asked for us. What ever rules and requests we were told to follow. While promises were made and kept – some partially and some were done.”
The guffaws sounded, the laughter, very mean and deep waved from his left. Diamond stretched his neck and stared at a group to his left and in the crowd. I couldn’t make out but the crowd was stilled. The sounds ceased. He raised both his hands as the shh’s grew louder in a wall all around me. He shook his hand at the circle and his left fist came to rest in the open palm of his right hand. There was a shuffling of feet and glances at the sky or the buildings but eyes went back forward.
“BE SMART! YES! PROMISES HAVE BEEN MADE THAT WERE DONE” His shoulders slumped forward and his head bowed forwards as he stretched his spine. “We HAVE BENEFITTED! YES!” His hands went out and his palms were shown to everyone in front of him .
He then linked his palms on top of his head. “BUT LOOKED NOW!! SAME THING! SAME THING !!” as BEFORE!” His yell was more like a cat yowling. Many in the crowd howled like a pack of wolves, it was all around me. I spun around when I recognize the voices. There were Sam, Sherriel, Cathie, and the black Gentleman. They were howling like wolves with their necks stretched and their voices loud, low and scary. Jamie certainly knew how to capture a crowd. I shook my head.’ He certainly didn’t act like any Jamie I have ever known. No, He was Diamond!’ “What the F**ck had happened?” ‘What was I supposed to do or guess?’ My shoulders drew in and I felt very different.

Too Much this time.

There was the group , it was hard to tell who was complaining and who was watching. There were people in reds, the blue jean casuals and the business -like professional dress. The loudest and most hostile voice, I realized I knew. I had lunch with her and other members of our History group at the end of a complicated lecture, yesterday. She was her half snarly self, but nothing unusual .
Now, Pink was standing on the rock, Her pink hair pulled in a puff on the top of her head, making me smile because it so didn’t go with her voice.
” We know how actions are done in the Place of Talk”. She held up her fingers . ” Keep calm, be stable. Talk! Walk the fingers,” she said as she walked one hand on the top of the knuckles . “Diamond is right!!” she sneered pulling some hair out of a corner of her mouth. She caught Diamond’s eye. He frowned at her . She stared out and called out. “This is what happens when Government get too caught up in itself. When They are too busy trying to win their battles and don’t want to “grow up” and learn to play on a joint team. Then the no nothings bring their dislike and then the elements, grow and grow.” She swung her hands around in a whirlwind of arms and legs. “There are no Guiders” She shouted to the sky. Looking out all over the crowd and shaking her head. She cupped her hands.
“The Rulemakers, the merchants get everything they want to make THEIR lives easier.” The answers were shouted out. Most of which was lost in the din. Where was Diamond or the Black Gentleman? Diamond was the megaphone, usually?

I moved closer to where I could see, but it didn’t help. Pink was gone and a girl with a flushed red face stood up . ” I couldn’t believe what was happening. ” she started. Her forehead was caught in furrows . The trucks had room ” She looked out over the blob of people. Her eyes were lost in another back place.
“It was a beautiful day, we were taking a break from doing the placework”. Her jacket was tangled, and dark. She had bandages on her hands and leg. “and there wasn’t other traffic. Mr. Stammen was pulling up the plants, you know to help the other plants get better.” She smiled and looked at the plants around the pathways.
“He came last week and help us plant a garden. She smiled and looked down at the ground and then at the floral mural not, 30 feet way. ” There was NO – ” she stopped and stomp her feet . Pulling up as far as her shoulders and chin could go. ” for them to go through the plow. No reason for the Braggards to chase him and hold him down. They are cruel bullies. “There was no ” she swallowed, breathed. “–for them to get out and -” she shut her eyes and winced at a sound in the back. ” hit all the people who were trying to help . We- we kids were just standing -away. and -and kids went down. ” -her tears were streaming down and the pain on her face, I have never seen . ” No reason, We weren’t –” Her face was clouded over with far-away pain, that was too close, to all of us. She hunched over and batted at her tears. Sam helped her down and held on to her.

And the tide breaks

“Tipmaspah!” The exclamation startled me, as did the red blur out the corner of my eye. Glancing up from my coffee cup, I was met by a harried fellow in a brown suede vest and pants, looking around for a waitress, signaling her, he sat down at the very tight table next to me.
” They are having a nuisance out there ” He wiped his sleeve and pulled out note taking books from his red, sagging satchel. He began flipping the binder, in a hurry. The stuff on the table skittered across it. I reached across and save the jelly jar.
” Excuse me, what nuisance?” I put the jelly jar on my crowded table.
Edith arrived with a steaming , fragrant cup and put it on top of the notebook. ” What is the fuss,?” She said slowly as she tapped him on his forearm. Looking up, the frowning guy, smiled. ” Shehe”, he paused, his hand resting on the sheets crammed into a pocket divider. ” There is a group of supporters who are demanding something . I read about it,just earlier”
Edith took some of the condiments off my table. ” I’ll be back with your food, and yours too.” She said to the guy, writing on a sheet hanging out. ” I’ll tell you, I don’t blame them . It’s cruel!! ”
I drank my pseudo Americano. Pulling my novel out of the bag, I looked around at the room. More people were coming in and they were not happy. ” What was going on? ”


The building was tucked in between the outer walk and the lecture building. The dirty, turquoise, huge A/C was humming making a pleasing barrier between the outside world and the inner peace of the refuge inside. Pancakes, eggs and slightly burned coffee greeted anyone in need of rest , food and strong brew to keep on. The navy blue cushion sank in a squishing whisper underneath me. I stared at a plate nearby smelling of something that I would NOT eat. The guy was carving into it with vigor, while reading an engrossing paper. It was amazing that he found his mouth. I snorted while I pulled out my kleenex. Smells of bacon and fried apples made my stomach sing and the clamor was just enough sound to be reassuringly alive.
Of all the times, I have been here, I have never eaten much. Always, there had been assignments, worries and class lectures in which to be overwhelmed. There was a familiarity here that I had missed, not like the last few hours. With a little tugging, I sipped the tangy, bitter, hot cup. My tears spilled over, I missed my mild, creamy mochacchino with the foam deep inside that buried my nose.

The woman in the matching mask and bear t-shirt ( she always seem to wear), came by, lifting the pot inquiringly. She spoke an order into her wrist band. “Aren’t you empty? ” She asked me, as always, putting some silverware down. ” Cavern toast will solve that. ” and she rushed away to the next crowd.
I shrugged and nodded, not sure what I would be eating and too tired to care that my own mask was around my neck. I shook my head and wiped my tears. I sipped more of the hot, bitter brew. Wrinkling my nose at the burned smell. I had no luck in getting any other drink. I stared at the pictures on the walls around me.
They were pictures of food, plates with mounds of grits with pools of butter or white peppered gravy, eggs staring up and wheels of sausage. The photos were all faded and tinged with brown. Pictures, showing events on campus, were crammed into sort of a grouping. Some of the pictures had lots of bushes, trees and flowers in large beds. Some were of floral paintings on the walls around dirt piles. The buildings were somewhat the same, but the pictures were so different and yet full of people. I looked around glad to be back and to have someone else serving me food.