"Making it Count"
(Part 2 of a series)
by P. Orin Zack
"Holy crap," 11-year-old Kendrik Knox whispered excitedly. As his dropped spoon hit the cereal bowl, he reached for the milk-splattered tablet beside it. "That's Gram!"
K2, as Kendrik preferred to be called, was a news junkie. That was his grandmother Natalie's doing. She was a librarian, and had shown him how to find out what was really going on in the world. Of course, his folks weren't too thrilled with that. Especially his dad, who'd pretty much written his own mother off as a lost cause when she announced that she was joining the ninety-nine percent. That's why she'd gotten him the pad for his birthday -- so they could message one another surreptitiously, even when she was minding a bookstand in a vacant downtown building lot.
It was Monday, September 17th, 2012, the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, and Kendrik was browsing the OWS livefeeds from around the world to see how the day was being celebrated when the master site suddenly switched to video from his own city. The camera was zoomed in on a woman with a book in her raised hand. The image was pretty shaky, but Kendrik would know his grandmother's voice anywhere. "Good morning, officers," she'd said, and the crowd, as the People's Mike, echoed.
His eyes widened as the camera spun around to show the line of armored police she was addressing. Then it went back to his grandmother. It looked like she was scanning the street for someone. Whoever it was, she must have found them, because she straightened and stood silently for a few seconds. Then, in a loud, clear voice, she said, "We are non-violent."
The livestreamer was startled by the sound of a police whistle, and spun back towards the cops. They had started to grab people and quickly zip plastic cuffs on them. The camera then turned back towards where his grandmother had been, but she was no longer there. It zoomed out momentarily, and then focused on a cop in the crowd. He was parting the people and leading someone in cuffs towards the street.
"We are not threatening you." This time it was another voice. But just as the camera had located the new speaker, a hand closed over the lens and the feed stopped.
"Kenny?" his mother called as she strode into the kitchen, "are you okay?"
He scooped up the tablet and brandished it at her. "I am, mom, but Gram's just been arrested! I just saw a riot cop hauling her off, honest."
She laughed dismissively. "Sure you did. Did she put you up to this?"
"I did see it! She was on the Internet!"
Unfortunately for Kendrik, it was getting late, and his mother hustled him off to walk to school. He took the tablet, but because it was wifi-only, there was no way he could track down the video clip en route. By the time he turned the corner, he'd already decided to blow off school and bus it down to the encampment to see what he could ferret out on his own.
"Hang in there, Gram," he muttered as he boarded the downtown express, "I've got your back." Of one thing he was absolutely sure: whatever trouble he might be in for playing hooky was nothing compared to the whirlwind his grandmother had just conjured up. And Kendrik wanted in on the action.
The first row behind the bus door was vacant, so he swung in and watched the city go by. When the bus stopped a while later to let two twenty-somethings deep in discussion get on, he noticed that they had OWS stickers on their gear.