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Short Story: "Authenticity" (6th of a series)

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Marjha thanked the man who had stepped forward, and started to ask him who he was, but then she thought better of it and changed the subject. "I guess you're one of Betsy's regular's then?"

"I suppose so. A friend of mine told me about the paper. She's a--."

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"Would everyone please clear the street!" The officer's amplified voice drowned everything else out. "Everyone please get back onto the sidewalk. You're blocking traffic. I have to ask you to disperse." When nobody moved, he walked through the maze of cars and approached the knot of people in the eye of the storm. "What's going on here?"

Betsy met him halfway. "The Sidewalk Spectator," she said proudly, "is conducting an interview. If you hadn't heard, a former judge was killed this morning. That man," here she pointed at Buzz, "is a witness."

"Oh?" he said as the two reached the corner. He sized Buzz up for a moment, and then turned to the man who had countered the reporter. "And what are you doing here, Councilman Flange?"

Buzz eyed Flange suspiciously.

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"Meeting with my constituents," he said, removing his sunglasses. "We've got enough signatures now to get my proposed change to the city charter on the ballot. If it passes, this distributed community, which is a good deal larger than you might think, will get a seat on city council. What are you going to do about it?"

"I wouldn't care if you were the Pope. You're blocking traffic. Can you take this interview somewhere else? Somewhere that you won't be blocking traffic?"

Buster Flange nodded, and turned towards the crowd. "If you're amenable," he said loudly, "I'd like to move this civic event to the city council chamber. Would that be okay with everyone?"

Vocal assent came from every direction. Satisfied, the officer returned to his car.

As the crowd filtered out toward city hall, Buster Flange walked along with Buzz, Marjha and Betsy. "I'm sorry if I made an ass of myself back there," he said.

Buzz chuckled. "I've seen videos of you, councilman. You did that a long time ago."

"Well, I'm trying to put that behind me now."

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"You did okay. I didn't recognize you without all the theatrics. That really helps your case."

"Thanks. Oh, I didn't get your name. The interview had already started by the time I got there."

Buzz didn't say anything for an uncomfortable while. And then, just as Flange was about ask Betsy a question, he nodded to himself and looked at him. "I've been hiding from the world and calling myself Buzz for so long, I'd almost forgotten my name. Councilman Flange, my name is Hector."

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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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