Climate Wars - Chapter 4
Lucas waded into the crowd gathered on the steps. Pushing and shoving he fought his way through against protests from the demonstrators, clustered tight and listening to the environmentalist. Lucas ignored the crude remarks directed his way as he continued his squeeze to the front.
In frustration, a member of the crowd stuck their foot out tripping Lucas as he moved toward an open space in front of the crowd. Lucas let loose a grunt as he tumbled onto the hard concrete of the steps. The speaker halted his speech watching as the spectacle stumbled toward the dais.
With a look of disdain emphasized with a furrowed brow, the man behind the microphone took in the haggard appearance of Lucas rising from the cold steps. “Who are you?” he asked.
Lucas staggered to his feet using his hands to brush the dust from his clothes. His glassy eyes were blinking rapidly as his mind fought to catch up with his movements. “Lucas,” he mumbled under the speakers daunting stare. “I want to join your group,” Lucas weakly replied holding out a filthy hand.
The speaker motioned with his arm at the surrounding throngs of protesters. “You’re here. You are already a part of our movement. All of us belong to the same fraternity in our fight to save the planet, you don’t have to drop to your knees in front of me for that,” the speaker mocked Lucas, his words drawing laughter from the crowd.
“You don’t understand,” Lucas struggled for words as he surveyed the faces of the crowd gawking back at him then turned his attention back to the man behind the microphone. “I want to work for you. I want to help you bring down the greedy bastards.”
“What greedy bastards are you referring to?” the speaker questioned with a tone of amusement.
“The…companies responsible…for…” Lucas’ foggy mind searched for the right words to explain his angry thoughts, his muddled brain racing to quantify his actions“…stealing the oil from the ground…for their selfish purposes…and then looking down their noses at me…at us,” Lucas spat the last words out.
Smiling benignly the speaker regarded Lucas as one would a small child, “We all want that.” The environmentalist threw both arms wide indicating the demonstrators gathered on the steps of city hall. “Go back to your place and try not to interrupt again.” He chastised then started to turn back to his speech. Alice broke free of the crowd and grabbed Lucas’ arm to guide him away. The speaker eyes snapped back and locked on Lucas’ face.
“Hey, aren’t you that young Pensworth? Your dad, he owns a multinational oil conglomerate, doesn’t he?” the speaker asked. Lucas jerked free of Alice’s arms and glared back up at the man beside the dais.
“LUCAS!” he shouted, “My name is just Lucas.”
“Yes. Yes of course. Lucas, nice to make your acquaintance,” the speaker corrected and climbed the steps down to where Lucas and Alice stood. “Professor Enders. Anthony Enders.” This time, the speaker shot his hand forward in greeting. “Stick close you two. We can talk more once I’m finished speaking.”
Alice pulled Lucas aside and helped him to a seat as the speech resumed. She divided her attention between Professor Ender’s inspired commentary about saving the fragile environment and the young drug-wasted man she had first helped on the park grounds. The young man was now garnering the careful watch of the professor as the rally passed from daylight well into darkness.
Lucas dozed on and off as Alice stood guard. The assembly on the lawns of city hall flitted around the park. Small clusters of protesters left the steps and soon tents began springing up, several open bonfires blazed with people drinking and chanting.
The street lighting fell over Lucas’ face as his mind drifted out of a drug-sorted nightmare one last time. Groggily he stared at Alice and then further out at the worked up assembly of chanting activists. Scratching his head, he glanced up at Alice’s face breaking his silence,” you don’t have anything to smoke, do you?”
Alice returned the look and with a motherly smile, she stuffed her hands into her fanny pack and using her back to shield her actions she expertly rolled a joint and placed it between Lucas’ lips. Cupping her hands in front of his face she held a lighter close to the end of the slender paper roll.
Lucas drew in a long breath and sat motionless as the pungent smoke filled the cavities of his lungs. With a loud cough, he expelled the smoke. “Thanks,” he muttered. The two remained quiet as the speaker finished his ranting before walking their way.
The professor’s bodyguards cleared a path through clambering activists on a route straight for Lucas and Alice. The smiling bearded face of Professor Ender beamed. “Follow me,” he said momentarily pausing for the two to stand before resuming his walk close behind the bodyguards and away from the crowds. Professor Ender walked without talking. In the parking lot, he stopped at a long black limo motioning for the two to join him inside.
“George. Drive us to the hotel,” the Professor called to his driver. “Tell me young Lucas. How does someone of your stature end up looking like a homeless man?”
Lucas stared out the limo windows at the passing city, “It’s a long story. I…”
“Your dad, the CEO of a multinational oil company, threw you out. Is that it? He’s so focused on company profits that he hasn’t the time for his own son,” the Professor interrupted.
“No. Not exactly,” Lucas started again. He tried to remember the reason why he was in the park in the first place, but his mind was empty. All that stood out was the burning anger he felt toward his father and at the moment, his drug-influenced brain failed to fill in the blanks.
“It is nothing to be ashamed of, young man. You don’t have to make excuses, I’ve known a lot of people in your situation,” the Professor cut Lucas off again. “Relax. We can talk at the hotel."
The Professor’s mind was also reeling from the fateful meeting of a person of Lucas Pensworth 3rd position. With the proper maneuvering, the professor realized he could exploit the young man for huge gains to his cause. Even if he couldn’t squeeze money out of the young man, he would certainly be able to use the boy’s connection to such a wealthy family to further his credibility and grow his faux environmental status.
Be cautious, move slowly, and don’t scare the boy away, the professor reminded himself as he turned his smiling face to peer at the unsuspecting young man sitting across from him in the back of the limo.
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A new Canadian Author with too many ideas in his head. Surprising even himself with where his stories go.