Late again. This is becoming all too common. Perhaps it’s time to consider adjusting the update schedule. But while I go do that, you should read part one of “The Newspaper Man!” Enjoy!
“Get a load of this bullshit, man,” Tweak said. He was sitting at his desk, the glow of his monitor lighting his face and the assorted toys and papers and trash that sat on the desktop. He grunted, brushed his scraggly blonde hair from his face. “Seriously, look at this. I mean, fuck me if this isn’t bourgeois bullshit all over.”
Dante walked over and looked at the screen, at the gallery of pictures from the protest that had been posted online. It was nothing he hadn’t seen before. Hell, he’d been down at city hall that day, screaming and chanting and waving signs with everyone else. Tweak had been there, too. They’d wandered the crowd of disparate faces: kids dressed all in black with their faces obscured by bandanas and scarves. Older folks who had been going to demonstrations since they were in their teens and twenties and had never lost their taste for it. College students. Men and women in business suits looking to prove they weren’t monsters. Middle-aged folks who couldn’t find work. People waving clever signs. People waving funny signs. People waving angry signs.
“Good stuff. Good turnout. That’s what we need, man. Moms and dads, you know? We need people to see that everyone’s pissed off, not just the hippies and the college kids,” Dante said.
“Yeah, but fucking look!” Tweak pointed at a picture that Dante did not recognize. It had been taken from above. The roof of a building, perhaps. There had been people hanging banners from the rooftops. There was a line of police standing guard at an intersection, ensuring that the protestors and demonstrators walked along the path that had been laid out for them and didn’t go running around breaking windows and flipping cars. They hadn’t, of course. Senseless destruction hadn’t been the point.
“Good angle. It’s good to get shots like that. Really gives you an idea of how many people there were.”
“Look!” Tweak pointed at the middle of the photo, where a single figure in a dark suit walked across the street in front of the path of the angry mob. He was reading a newspaper of all things, the pages obscuring his face and likely his vision. Dante blinked, leaned in to look more closely.
“What the fuck?”
“Can you believe that, man? Thousands of people baring down on him, and here’s this asshole just walking across the street with his head buried in a newspaper like, ‘Oh, look at me, I’m an asshole with a newspaper.’ Fuck, man. Tell me that isn’t everything that’s wrong with this country. The poor and the disadvantaged and the idealists screaming for change, and some asshole in a suit so oblivious he doesn’t even hear them.”
Dante examined the picture. There really was an air of apathy about the figure. From the look of things, he was wearing dark gloves and ostentatious silver watch that caught the light of the sun. His back was perfectly straight, and he was mid-stride, mid careless and lengthy stride. “What street is that?”
Tweak squinted. “That’s Park Liquors, ain’t it? So, 9th and Broadway?”
“How the fuck did they get in the middle of the streets? The cops were blocking the intersections all along Broadway. They weren’t letting anybody through.”
“It’s the suit, man,” Tweak said with a sniff. You’re wearing a t-shirt and jeans and you’ve got a piece of paper, you’re public enemy number one. You’re wearing a suit and it’s, ‘Oh, right this way, Sir. Let me make sure the vermin doesn’t gaze upon you.’”
Dante said nothing, but rolled his eyes. Tweak’s passion was useful when it came to rallying the troops, but damn if it wasn’t exhausting once the marches were over and everyone had gone home.
“Fuck, man! There he is again!”
It was a photo from a completely different part of town, still along Broadway, but farther back towards the City Center. It was taken from in front of the crowd looking back at them, and there at the edge of the frame was a person in a dark suit. Dante couldn’t say for certain that it was the same person, given how far away he had been from the camera in the first picture and the fact. But then, how many people could have possibly been in the city that day in a suit, walking along nonchalantly while all alongside them generations of the oppressed and the angry voiced their displeasure with the state of things?
Dante shook his head. Many. That was the point of the whole exercise. But still, there was the newspaper, and from this photo he could see that the figure was indeed wearing gloves and a silver watch. It was so strange, so jarring, so out of place. So…
Dante did a double-take. “No one’s looking at them.”
“The person in the suit. Look, no one’s looking at them.”
“So? How the hell do you not notice someone in a suit theirs on a day like this? No one’s hassling him, no one’s talking to him, no one’s even looking in his direction. It’s like they’re not even aware that the guy’s there.”
“They’re too caught up in the moment, man. Like you noticed every little thing around you when you were waving your, ‘BA, ’09; MA, ’11; EDD, FOREVER’ sign around.”
“Fuck you, that sign was clever.”
“My point exactly. The sign’s so clever, the crowd’s so loud, the cause so righteous that you get caught up in the moment. Hell, I might not even have noticed the guy.” Tweak looked at the monitor, snorted. “Maybe.”
“Whatever. Send me that link, man. I’m going to want to save some of the pictures for myself, probably.”
“Yeah, no problem. You going to Dympna’s thing later?”
“We’ll see. We just marched for a couple hours and my feet are killing me. I don’t know if I feel like standing around and dancing or whatever for later tonight.”
Tweak grinned. “Come on, man. Nothing sticks it to the man like a big-ass party. And, shit, the cops will be so busy worried about people torching cars that we can do whatever we want, I’m sure.”
“You have enough drinks and you won’t even feel your feet. You’ll be all, ‘Woo, I’m having a good time and feeling like I was part of something big and hitting on cute chicks, who cares about my stupid feet?’”
Dante smirked. “You’re not going to leave this alone, are you?”
“Absolutely not.” Tweak smiled. “Look, man. We were part of something big today. Thousands of people walking through the filthy economic heart of the city and shutting down the fucking port. You know how much we cost them today alone? You know how many people are going to see what we did? How many people saw that it was about sending a message without breaking everything to do it? You tell me that’s not a cause for celebration.”
“Very poetic, man.”
“Come to the fucking party.”
Dante laughed. “All right, you’ve twisted my arm. I’ll see you at Dympna’s.”
The two men said their goodbyes. Dante put on his coat and stepped out into the cool Novemeber evening to return home.