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Laughter and hands tugging at his body woke Lucas from a dream filled with demons and pixies. Lucas’ limbs refused to obey his mind. His drug altered brain darting between reality and the surreal. His eyelids heavy, opening to reveal a pair of slits, the sudden assault of daylight setting the nerves to his brain on fire.
The tugging continued. Lucas willed his body to move. Forcing his eyes to open wider he watched. His eyes recorded the scene; his brain failed to connect the actions. He groggily turned his head, a hand was being pried open, and a small plastic bag was wrestled free.
Too slowly Lucas realized that his hand was the one opening. What’s in the bag his distorted brain wondered? Then other hands rolled him over. His face smothered in the dry park grass. More hands pulled and tugged. He felt pressure. Something slipped out of his pocket. More laughter and talking, an object bounced off his back. His brain shut down. Blackness.
“Are you alright mister?” Lucas felt his body shake. This time, his eyes bolted open. Grass pressed against his eyes. He used his arm to roll his body over. On his back, he stared up into a darkening sky, the bright daylight that had seared his brain earlier now softened by a cloud-covered afternoon sky. Again the voice spoke to him.
“Are you alright? Would you like me to call an ambulance?” A young woman leaned over him; her face wrought with concern.
“Where am I?” Lucas inquired. From his position, he watched as crowds of men and women stepped around where he lay. The Legs of the people passing by brushed against him, looks of disgust on the faces of the people who bothered to glance down. Crude words, insults tossed his way.
“We’re in a park,” the young lady responded. “Here, let me help you up.” She gently placed her hand under Lucas’ shoulder and guided him into a sitting position. The two sat as the growing crowd streamed around.
“What’s going on?” Lucas asked turning his head to watch as people continued walking past.
“We better move,” the woman said as she again gently lifted, helping him to his feet and then supporting his weight as she fought against the masses, leading him to the nearby park table. Lucas placed a hand on the rough wooden top then slowly sat on the seat. The young lady hovered close by using her body to shield the two from the multitudes still entering the park.
Lucas’ body sat motionlessly, his head twisting and turning as more people approached. Some holding signs, others sporting backpacks and water bottles carrying banners. With the speed of molasses his numbed brain stumbled through a fog. Reality slowly returned. With some awareness, he remembered. He looked at his empty hands then panic set in. The plastic bag with the white powder, he must have dropped it.
Staggering, he launched into the sea of bodies to where he previously laid. On his hands and knees, he searched the ground.
“Get out of the way you drunken idiot!” People cursed as they stepped around his crouched form unhappy about having to change directions. Realizing the bag was gone Lucas unsteadily stood up bumping into several people. Someone shoved him. “You useless bum,” a man said to his face. The young woman rushed to his side again dragging him out of harms way.
“My stuff,” he cried, then he felt his pockets. His wallet was missing along with his car keys. He sank heavily back onto the park bench. Dejectedly Lucas sat on the bench. Memories began to filter back and with the memories a consuming anger of how he ended up passed out in the park.
The University and the weasily Chancellor, them images of his father staring down his nose at him, siding with the Chancellor. The longer Lucas dwelled, the greater the anger, the redder his face became. The young lady who stopped and offered assistance stood by cautiously watching.
“Are, are you all right,” she asked timidly. Lucas glared at her. His mind was slow to acknowledge the female staring back at him. Probably wants his money, he thought through the cobwebs of his mind. He snarled at her, she backed away, her eyes wide with fright. Then in a lucid moment, he stumbled over an apology and tried to stand.
“My wallet is gone. My car keys, too,” he offered.
“We should call the police,” Lucas’ new friend offered and began to dig in a fanny pack she wore around her waist. Lucas’ mind was catching up to speed. What would he tell the cops, that he drove his car while being drunk to a park to buy drugs and somewhere along the line he passed out, his possessions stolen.
“NO!” he yelled again frightening the woman. “No. It’ll be okay,” he said in a quieter voice. He changed the subject. “So, what is everyone doing here?” he asked again. “Sorry, I didn’t get your name,” he prodded.
“Alice,” She said. Her face brightened into a smile as she stuck out her hand. “We’re having a rally at city hall today. Well, it is to start this afternoon, but everyone knows that we will be here for days. We’ve come to demonstrate against the wealthy one percent and their disregard and destruction of the earth with the filthy fossil fuels they force upon the rest of us.”
Even in his altered state Lucas stood and looked over the crowd pouring across the grass from the parking lot. Cars were crammed in every space and flowed outlining the side streets as protesters locked the doors and joined the masses.
“Is that right,” he asked, a condescending smirk climbed onto his face. “What do you and your friends do,” he asked.
“I study at the university.” She spun her hand around. “Most of us are students,” she said proudly. “The man who is speaking today is a world famous environmentalist. He has been fighting the corporations on their greed and disregard for the environment for years.” She paused, “And what do you do…Mr.…. Oh, I am so sorry, I don’t know your name,” she added.
Lucas was about to pile his troubles on the hapless girl, explain his misfortune of being kicked out of school, how his father and the University Chancellor ganged and embarrassed him when he caught himself. He had been humiliated enough with his father’s abandonment and refusal to help. Anger at the unfair treatment from his father seized his soul. If it weren’t for his damn miserable old man than he certainly would not be in this situation, the self-centered bastard, Lucas fumed.
Lucas,” he spat out, “Nice to meet you, Alice.”
“You are welcome to join us,” she beamed. Lucas looked down at his stained t-shirt. “I must look a fright. I don’t think your friends will appreciate my attire,” he pulled on the front of his stained shirt wishing for the girl to leave him alone. Alice frowned and then thought for a moment, her head swiveling as she looked about the park.
“Come with me.” She grabbed his arm and pulled him along knifing through the crowd stopping at a large water fountain on display at the bottom of the steps leading into city hall.
“Give me your shirt,” she requested patiently waiting for him to pass the soiled t-shirt. Without hesitation, she spun and dunked the shirt under the cold fountain water. With her back to him, Lucas protested, but his words fell on deaf ears. Alice splashed the water as she scrubbed and worked the t-shirt.
Straightening up Alice passed an end of the shirt to Lucas. “Hold that,” she commanded as her hands held the other end and twisted the cloth tight ringing the excess water away. She shook the t-shirt and after a close inspection passed it back.
“That should work,” she said grimacing as he pulled the wet shirt over his head. “It might be a little wet still,” she laughed then with her fingers outstretched Alice ran them through Lucas’ hair straightening the tufts that stuck in every direction. Alice stood back and looked at Lucas. “Now you can join us. Don’t be afraid, we don’t bite,” she teased and latched onto his arm.
Alice led them to a spot off to the side of the steps. A place she had used before during other rallies similar this one. This isn't the first rally I’ve taken part in she confided. Alice chattered on while Lucas sat glumly and studied the growing assembly through bloodshot eyes. The two made small talk as the steps filled with signs and banners and teeming, milling crowds. Lucas watched uncaringly. He only remained because he had no other place to go and he had to figure out how to get his possessions back.
The smell of marijuana drifted in a cloud over the waiting mass.
Taking advantage of his new best friend Lucas hinted that he wouldn’t mind a joint. He pulled his empty pockets out showing he had nothing left on him. Alice smiled and excused herself. Lucas waited. He was about to go searching for her when she came bouncing out of the crowd. Turning her back to the crowd, Alice dug through her small pack, removed a bag and papers and quickly rolled a couple of joints.
In his stoned state Lucas sat back from the crowd as protester after protester grabbed a microphone and rehashed the same rhetoric as the speakers before, shouting and waving signs protesting against the contempt shown by the rich one percent toward their fellow man and Mother Nature.
Lucas sat tuning out the speakers until a chanting by the crowd caught his attention. Alice grabbed his arm and swooned like a schoolgirl. The main speaker for the demonstration took the microphone. The crowd grew frenzied and louder. The speaker worked the milling crowd into an uproar. The usual rhetoric spewed forward from his mouth, but his presentation moved the people.
Lucas' ears perked up as the speaker continued, he struggled to hear, but the noise of the demonstrators drown out the speakers voice. The outrage the crowd was building into and the large signs denouncing massive corporations bouncing in the air peaked his interest. Like a sign from above, he spotted a group unfurling a banner. The anti-oil banner had his father’s company name written in bold red, dripping letters over pictures of destroyed forests. In the middle of the flag was a large circle crossed with a line over the name of his father’s oil company.
Light flashed in Lucas’ head. His feeble brain interpreted the banner as a means to get even with his father. The embarrassment and humiliation he had suffered at his father’s hands were over. His old man wanted him to forge a path of his own, well, he would gladly oblige, and now he found a vehicle to direct his anger. Who better to shine a light on a greedy earth-consuming corporation then the man’s own son?
Lucas left Alice and pushed his way through the roiling masses; he had to meet the man on stage. For the first time in Lucas’ memory he found something to hold his interest other than booze and drugs. He found a cause, not only a cause but also a means to channel his anger toward the contempt and humiliation from his father. His drug addled brain sparked with possibilities.
A new Canadian Author with too many ideas in his head. Surprising even himself with where his stories go.