Refusing to obey an order may lose you your job, unless the reason for it so important to you that you're willing to quit and join the protest. by Dave Lindblom
What have you meekly acquiesced to, and then regretted it? (This series began with "
by P. Orin Zack
"And finally," Sue Winston said, scanning the agenda on her screen, "we have a request for a zoning change. Jones Construction has""
A sudden movement from the rear of the council chamber stole the sound from her voice. Still jumpy after last week's face-off with a line of armored riot cops, Sue glanced up, looked past Wendell Jones' smarmy face, and towards a familiar-looking woman in the last row. Whoever it was held her coat open with one hand, while she reached deep inside with the other. It was the sort of move that having a brother on the riot squad makes you wary of: suspicious behavior, potentially lethal. Just then, the chill holding her spine hostage trembled under the realization that it was Natalie Knox, the city librarian who had triggered the recent confrontation and mass arrests at Jones' construction site. She'd seemed friendly enough that night, but"
""Jones, um," she fumbled, distracted by the vivid memory of Knox being thrust roughly into the street by two armored riot cops. "JonesCo wants the site rezoned so they can build the larger of the two convention hotel designs his firm presented to the city last year."
"Is, uh, is something wrong, Ms. Winsome?" The grating sibilance in her left ear came from Buster Flange, the city council's token racist, or at least that's how he insisted on representing himself to any reporter who would listen. Actually, his politics were pretty tame, but he never passed up a chance to push people's buttons.
Sue closed her eyes briefly to steel herself before looking at him. "Do you sit up nights and practice being offensive," she said, "or do the voices in your head coach you through it?"
"I think I should be insulted," he said gravely, "but really, I was concerned about you. What just happened?"
Sue glanced at Natalie Knox again. Instead of leveling a gun at her, the librarian was unrolling a sign. "Nothing," she said. "Nerves, I guess."
Jones made a big production out of clearing his throat into the mike. "Are you two fine public servants finished wasting my time yet? I came here to make my case. This meeting of yours is already behind schedule, and I don't have all day."
She nodded her reluctant acquiescence, and then glanced self-consciously, first at Flange, and then at the ever-sedate Effie Nordquist Chan to her right, the three of whom comprised City Council's Land Use Committee. "Of course, Mr. Jones. Go ahead. Have your say."
"Thank you. To begin with, this city stands to gain a fortune in taxes and secondary purchases by the job creators that will flock to events and conferences at my new convention complex. In fact, once we've finished redeveloping that section of Kearney Hill, I'm certain that--."
"The hell you will. It's not your property!"
Sue didn't have to look up this time. The voice was unmistakably that of Natalie Knox, and it was raised in the same defiant tone that she had taken in the moments before a fellow member of the Occupy replaced her, Wobbly-style, at the speaker's spot that morning. This time, however, instead of being hustled towards the city's new "Civilian Management' van by two officers in black armor and face-shields, she was standing in the back row holding a sign that read "Svanstrom's Blue Army: Hoodlums for Hire'.
Jones crossed his arms and turned to glare at his accuser. "Really, Ms. Knox. And here I thought that the ability to read was prerequisite for being a city librarian."
A flurry of invective converged on Jones from various directions, and he replied in kind, but before Sue had a chance to react, Buster Flange leapt into the fray. "It's like I said before, Ms. Winsome," he said, affecting a pronounced Louisiana drawl, "a pretty girl like you is just not cut out to be in charge of important city business. Hell, you can't even keep your own friends in order."