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Life Arts

Short Story: "Engaging Constituency" (7th/Last of a series)

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A cheer suddenly erupted from the crowd in the stands above them.

Marty threw up his hands. "I give up. Look, Norm, we're gonna draw up some dissolution papers. Come in when you want to get your stuff. But as far as we're concerned, you're out."

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"That's fine with me. Now get out of here, the both of you."

While Norman watched his now-former business partners stride back into the daylight, the younger of the two facilitators put a finger to his ear and then approached him. "You're wanted upstairs, Mr. Knox."

As they entered the stadium proper, Norman glanced at the big screen that Sid Carson had mentioned earlier, and was startled to see himself from the rear. A few seconds later, when the feed switched again, he gaped at the sight of his mother and son, laughing and applauding.

The camera then approached her until it was a head-and-shoulders shot, and she looked straight out of the screen. "Norman," she said, "we're all proud of you. But for everyone else here, there's more to the story, and I think it will help to give you some perspective on what we're about to do today."

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While Natalie spoke, Norman turned to face the man who had intervened. "Why'd you do that?"

The younger one slipped off his Google Glass and took a step closer. "Why did he intervene? Don't you know who Rafael M'Bordo is?"

"Should I?"

"Son, no!" M'Bordo said, gesturing for him to stop.

"He's only the first of JonesCo's crew to refuse the order to illegally clear the Occupy. He's why there was a walkout. He's why there's a community center named after your grandfather. I should hope you'd know who he is."

Embarrassed, Norman extended his hand. As he ascended the stairs, and his mother told the crowd about the ethic of activism she'd learned from growing up in a Wobbly household, he thought back to his days at college, and the callousness with which he had disparaged the whole idea of unions and what they had accomplished. By the time he reached the landing, he'd decided that he needed to apologize.

"So, for anyone who wasn't there," Natalie said as he stopped to look at her, "when I said "Mike Check' that morning and triggered a chain of events that led us all to today's election, I was fulfilling a promise that I'd made to my father. I'd passed along the ethic of civic leadership that made the Wobblies so powerful that the tycoons lurking in the shadows had no choice but to foster a different kind of union to bring them down, highly structured ones that focused all of the power at the top. When I was dragged off, another leader took my place, and then another, and another." She looked around the stadium, smiled when she saw Norman gazing up at her, and raised her opened hands in benediction. "The people, united, can never be defeated. That's why we're all here today. Thank you."

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As the crowd erupted, Norman sprinted the rest of the way up the stairs to the spot where his family was standing. He mouthed his apology, but it was drowned out by the commotion, which petered out into scattered shouts of "K2!'

Once the crowd had settled down and everyone took their seat, another speaker took the screen. He read the background blurbs provided by the seven people who'd stepped forward and announced their interest in being the community's representative on city council. The first one was Anand Kalib, a founding member of the church council that has been hosting the city's oldest roving homeless encampment. The second was Marcia Dodge, who had been instrumental in organizing the recent one-day walkout of fast-food workers in support of a nationwide effort to demand a living wage. He had just read the name of the third candidate, who was attempting to organize tech workers with H1-B visas, when Kendrik stood up and made the sign for asking a question. The facilitator watching their section of the crowd came over.

"This is wrong," Kendrik told him.

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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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