Professor Ender sat at the small table next to the hotel suites kitchen. The morning newspaper lay beside his coffee cup all but ignored. He tried to focus on the paper, but he found his concentration lacking. To his relief, he had heard Lucas and Alice return to the hotel room in the waning morning hours, as he lay awake thinking about the night’s turn of events and how he could maximize their usage.
He had tried to sleep, but the uncertainty of the latest addition to his staff had kept his mind churning. Was the young Pensworth serious about joining his campaign or was the kid playing him for a fool? Ender’s head swam with possibilities both for and against the boy returning. Could he be certain that Lucas meant what he said about seeking revenge on his father or was the young man just rebounding from a severe bout of drugs?
Ender’s fidgeted with his cup, the coffee he had poured growing cold in the cup. Lucas Pensworth 3rd had returned which was a good sign but how dedicated would he turn out to be and how bad was the kid’s drug problem. The professor found that he could care less about the drugs Lucas used as long as the problem remained under control but if he tried to control the kid’s drug usage would Lucas bolt?
A loud snort erupted from the other side of the room pulling him out of his reverie. Lucas lay crumpled on the couch; his snoring filled the hotel room. Ender pushed the paper aside. At least the doubts he had last night were nullified with the Lucas and the girls return. He realized he had taken a huge risk in fronting the boy money but with his current situation what choice could he make. The groups funding his environmental crusade were balking at his lack of newsworthy demonstrations threatening to take their money elsewhere.
Lying awake in bed Ender’s found his mind racing to capitalize on his newfound hope. Smiling, he stood up and crossed the room. Ender paused with his hand raised outside the door of the second bedroom. The professor mustered his nerve and rapped lightly on the door. New employee number two was about to be tested. Was Lucas' girl infatuated enough with being in his presence and the job he had offered her the evening before to stay? And she would make a reliable ally in handling the drug-addicted heir to one of the largest oil empires in the country.
“Alice,” he softly spoke through the door, “Time to rise and shine.” The professor waited until he heard a faint reply then returned to his coffee. Pouring out the cold liquid, he refilled his cup with fresh coffee and settled back at the table to wait. At the sound of the bedroom door opening, he scooped up the newspaper with his free hand and tried to appear calm and in control.
“Morning Professor,” Alice brightly called to him as she tussled her hair, her clothes showing the wear from the previous day.
Professor Ender smiled back at her. “Call the front desk and have them deliver a new outfit. Tell them to charge it to my room. I’m certain they can have them supplied to the room in short order.” He beamed at his newest employee. “I’m glad you decided to take me up on my offer of a job. Grab a shower and we can order breakfast. We’ve got a full day ahead of us.”
Another bout of snoring and loud breathing rose from the couch. Alice changed directions, scooped the hotel sheets off the floor and carefully covered the sleeping Lucas. “Shouldn’t we wake him up?” Alice asked.
Ender hadn’t had a chance to ask Alice how she came to be involved with the Pensworth boy but from what the professor had observed the girl seemed to be able to control the young man. To control Lucas, Ender knew he had to stay on the young ladies good side. “We will shortly. For now, he may as well rest.”
Alice’s clothes arrived while she was still in the shower. Ender set the clothes at the bottom of the door and paced the room. He had originally planned to spend most of this day at the rally at city hall. As he wandered the room, the glimmer of an idea sprouted. Pensworth Oil and Gas had their head office only a handful of blocks from city hall. Ender tossed around the idea of marching the gathered protesters in the park on a hike for an impromptu demonstration in front of the large offices of Lucas’ dad, a showdown of sorts between father and son. There he would find out exactly how much Lucas resented his father. And if there just happened to be a few news cameras around to record the meeting, oh well.
A smile cut through the worry on the professor’s face. The idea might just have merit, especially if he added a little fodder to the mixture. Ender spun on his heels then quickly stepped over to the hotel phone. A couple of anonymous calls to the local news media notifying them of a possible protest at Pensworth Oil and Gas should set the ball rolling.
Professor Ender stepped out of the limo then, in turn, helped Alice onto the street. He stared up at the steps of city hall waiting while Lucas gathered himself and shuffled out the door. At the hotel room, Ender had politely stopped Alice from waking up the sleeping guest of honor until it was almost time to depart. She had tried to help Lucas clean up but with the slept in, stained clothing Lucas wore he had the appearance of a vagrant. Precisely what the professor was planning.
Ender looked all about at the demonstrators who had made the park their night's lodging. A considerable enough number remained, and no doubt more would be showing up again soon. The rally was scheduled to start by nine, only a brief half hour from now. Climbing to the top of the steps the professor stopped and talked to volunteers who had arrived early and were busy setting up the microphones and stage area. People were slowly clambering across the road toward the steps now. In all visible directions, Ender watched as the crowd started to thicken. The professor swelled at the sight and knowledge that his reputation was still a drawing card for these events.
Walking behind the volunteers setting up the equipment Anthony Ender noticed that a couple of guest activists had already arrived for the day’s demonstration. Ender chatted briefly with them as he waited as the crowds swelled while the clock ticked closer to nine. All through the preparations he kept a keen eye on Alice and Lucas. One of his staff tapped him on the shoulder warning him that the proceedings were about to begin. He signaled Alice to bring Lucas and stand beside him on the stage.
Ender stepped up to the microphone and tapped it to summon the crowd’s attention. “Today,” he began, “today we gather on these public steps to call on the energy giants of the world to join us in protecting our fragile environment. Join us in saving the earth instead of raping the resources for greed and power.” The crowd cheered. The professor noticed that the people standing nearest the steps were looking past him at Alice and Lucas as they stood behind him.
“Today is a special day. A day we fight back against the pollutants and deniers hidden in plain sight. The same people who have ignored our attempts to save the earth’s climate not only for ourselves but also for the generations who will come after us.” Professor Ender piled his phony emotions on the crowd as thick as possible. “Joining me on stage today are a couple of notable environmental heroes. Both have published numerous papers depicting the decline of the earth’s climate. Originally that was all that I had planned for today…” Ender paused and gazed over the crowd, “but the time has come for us to be more militant in our fight. Our words have fallen on deaf ears, and the destroyers of our planet sit in their skyscrapers counting their money and ignoring us.”
The professor stopped and slowly uncapped a plastic bottle of water letting the cool liquid wash down his throat. Enders took his time. If his little charade was going to be effective, then he had to reach deep into his soul for every ounce of acting prowess in his body.
“After the speeches, I ask for all of you to follow me. We will make a short walk from the steps and take our protest straight to the heart of the greedy climate-killing giant’s lairs.” He stood to cheers before announcing the first speaker. Standing off to the side he watched and listened as the two guest speakers rambled on with the same tired rhetoric. The crowd slowly grew restless, their enthusiasm waning.
Fearing the loss his momentum the professor cut into the second guest’s speech. “Enough talk,” he screamed at the crowd. Turning to the volunteers, he motioned for the microphone audio equipment to be wrapped up. Then before anyone could move, he signaled for Alice and Lucas to join him as he strode down the concrete steps into the protesters. With Alice and Lucas at his side, he waved, beckoning the crowd to follow and started walking away from the front of city hall. With a brain full of determination, Professor Ender crossed into a busy street. Car brakes squealed, and horns honked all around him. The gathering from the steps of the hall poured across the sidewalk, and soon the busy road became deadlocked with automobiles and pedestrians.
Ender gulped a stomach full of courage. To march on public streets, he was well aware that protests had to have permits and police to block traffic. Today he ignored the rules. His star as an environmentalist was fading fast and he desperately needed a jolt to make himself and his cause noteworthy again. As he paraded amongst the stopped cars and angry drivers, he shouted and ranted. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a reporter and cameraman scurrying close behind filming his fiasco. He smiled inwardly.
The large gathering of people from the park ran amok among the parked cars. Horns honked, and drivers rolled down their windows and swore at the walking stampede that had closed the street. The professor held his head high and avoided the glaring eyes of the disrupted drivers while he continued marching down the center of the four-lane thoroughfare.
Behind him, he heard arguments break out between drivers and protestors. Several times he slowed long enough to peer back over his shoulder only to find protesters smashing their signs against the automobiles stopped by the number of pedestrians walking in the street. Somewhere along the way, the arguments between protesters and motorists grew fiercer. Protestors collided with annoyed drivers as fights erupted. Before long the demonstrators were grabbing anything they found loose along their travels and tossed the objects at the idling cars.
Just ahead of the police sirens, Professor Ender stopped outside the main doors to Pensworth Oil and Gas. There he instructed the volunteers with the audio equipment to set up. Ender carefully watched the expression on Lucas’ face as the troupe stopped at doors to the massive tower. Lucas’s face turned a scarlet hue. A good sign or bad Professor Ender couldn’t tell. He grabbed the microphone and launched into another inspired speech.
“Here we are ladies and gentlemen, face to face with capitalist greed and environmental corruption. The man who owns this tower is one of the richest oil barons and dare I say an enemy of the earth. Profits before people might as well be his motto. How much of our planet has had to be destroyed to fill the insatiable lust for power and money shown by companies of this ilk.”
The professor paused for effect and to give himself a second to compose the next words out of his mouth. His eyes roamed the streaming tide of protesters still weaving around the stalled traffic to join him. To his delight, he spotted several reporters and news cameras.
Time to execute his plan involving the young Pensworth. “Lucas Pensworth 2nd, the CEO of Pensworth Oil and Gas, a man so eager to add to his bulging bank account that the destruction of our planet is of little consequence.” Ender clutched his microphone in one hand as he used his free hand to drag Lucas 3rd into the spotlight.
“I would like to introduce you to Lucas Pensworth 3rd.” Lucas’ clothes were wrinkled and stained. The boy’s eyes a dark red from the late night of drugs and lack of sleep. Professor Ender droned on working the fired up crowd. “All the money in the world and Lucas’ father hasn’t got the decency to do what comes naturally to most parents. Take care of your family first. No, the man running this out of control energy behemoth is too busy lining his pockets and the pockets of his shareholders. The environment and his son be damned.” The crowd cheered and waved signs. Ender placed the microphone in front of Lucas’ mouth.
“Is there something you’d like to add Lucas?” the professor asked. Lucas’ face reddened. Enders watched nervously. Did he make a mistake and rush into this. Would the boy forget the anger he displayed toward his father? The crowd cheered Lucas’ name. Lucas stared through bloodshot eyes at the throng of people looking back then he turned and looked at the front doors of the building. Professor Ender held his breath. His whole career hung in the balance of Lucas’ decision.
Lucas mumbled a string of incoherent words. Scared of what the boy might do the professor gulped and asked Lucas to repeat his words. Lucas thought back to the meeting at the chancellor’s office where his father had helped humiliated him instead of taking his side. The stinging words his father had spoken echoed off the walls of his brain. He locked eyes with Ender then reached a hand for the microphone. “I said you are right Professor Enders,” he spoke quietly. “The man running this company doesn’t care about anyone only his damn money.” Lucas’ face grew an angry shade of purple, his voice increased in volume. “Where do these people get off shoving us to the curb?”
His addled brain was twisting the events of his father’s words and his removal from the university as he now saw himself as the innocent victim not the cause of the problem. Lucas yelled into the microphone before handing it back to the professor. “ITS TIME WE FOUGHT BACK,” he said while grabbing a metal speaker stand and heading for the front doors of the office tower.
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A new Canadian Author with too many ideas in his head. Surprising even himself with where his stories go.