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Short Story: "Hidden Baggage" (5th in a series)

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"Do you have to call it that?" the newcomer said, wincing.

Melissa Fox lowered her outstretched hand, and turned from the mobile that she and a few others from Constitutional Evolution were building in the city library's crafts room. "Call it what, Ron?"

"C. C. C. P." He spoke tentatively, as if he was afraid to touch the letters with his voice. He gestured at the cardboard square she'd just hung. "There."

She shrugged. "Because that's what it is. Does it bother you?"

"Well, yeah. Don't you know that that means?"

"Of course. The Corporate Controlled Complicit Press. What about it?"

"No. No. What the abbreviation originally meant. The old Soviet Union. You just added a communist dictatorship to the federal government."

Derek Boa, leader of the grassroots group, tapped the newly added leaf, sending the unbalanced mobile into a chaotic oscillation. "Well, it did kinda seem fitting, considering how much they behave like Pravda, and all."

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"It just bothers me, that's all. I think the government's doing a pretty good job, what with all the trouble we've been having overseas."

Melissa edged a bit closer. "We're not doing this out of disrespect. My own father's a congressman, and I know he's doing the best job he can, under the circumstances. But there are some serious problems with the system itself. That's what Constitutional Evolution is all about, exploring ways to make it better."

"Yeah. I get that, but why do you have to stoop to name-calling?"

Derek nodded. "Okay. I think I know what's going on. How about we break from this for a bit and have a chat. It sounds like we have some issues to deal with."

This was the second of the group's meetings that Ron had attended. His first had been a genial chat over pizza and pop, more of a family get-together than anything else. The idea for building a mobile representing the competing interests laid out by the framers of the existing Constitution had been suggested then, and he had been invited to join the fun. The point of the exercise, though, was to see where the problems lay, and what might be done to correct them in a new Constitutional Convention.

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"In order to understand where you're coming from," Melissa said as she pulled a chair over towards the table, "It'd be helpful to know a bit about you. I'm an artist, for example."

Ron pulled his seat close and sat very straight. "I majored in journalism, but ended up working for a marketing firm. It's why that slam on the press hit me so hard."

Derek had removed the offending leaf from the mobile, and set it down in the middle of the table, facing Ron. "These are just letters. They could stand for a lot of things. Do a web search and you'll probably turn up a half-dozen, easy. Each of us has a bag of meanings we carry around, to simplify the task of interpreting the world. It's a great thing, too, but it also has drawbacks. Sometimes those meanings get in the way of seeing what's really in front of us."

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Ever since I learned to speak binary on a DIGIAC 3080 training computer, I've been involved with tech in one way or another, but there was always another part of me off exploring ideas and writing about them. Halfway to a BS in Space Technology at (more...)
 

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