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We The People

Book By: thushara
Literary fiction


James is a college student drawn to the Occupy movement in Seattle. Nancy is a struggling mom, Brandon a cop. Maria is an immigrant on the run. Then there are the more fortunates, Rebecca, a powerful congresswoman and Emily her protege. TinMan, a mysterious figure connected to the dark and closed recesses of the government...


Submitted:Aug 31, 2014    Reads: 1    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


I - The Cop

When Brandon the cop woke up, his mood was as foul as the overcast skies over Yesler and Third. Still sleepy from the exertions of last night's confrontation with the Occupy protestors, mind addled by the half a bottle of whiskey consumed henceforth, a fifty year old body weakened by a profession that placed little demands on it, he did not want to respond to the insistent ringing of the alarm by the bedside. A strong arm that was going soft with age and a lack of application reached out from under the covers and a sweaty palm banged on the alarm, killing it.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, he reached out for the tilt wand of the blinds and carefully twisted it so that the dim light of the gray dawn slanted in through the smoke tinged slats. He was a big man, with broad shoulders that collapsed onto a thick chest that grew down into a soft belly. Placing his hands on his legs, breathing heavily, he looked out to the street below with unseeing blood shot eyes. From the second story of his modest home, he got a view of people as they hurried about, and every morning, he looked a long while at this scene, until gradually his breathing became calmer, his eyes grew more focused, and his wandering mind slowly but surely was corralled into its narrow domain that had little room for contemplation and other musings.

These morning hours were a strange time for Brandon. Not yet ready for what society demanded of him, he was free, during these precious few minutes, and his mind, dulled by ignorance and cultivated prejudice, yet tried to reach out vainly for a higher truth. Even if his eyes did not see life that ebbed on the street below, the contours of the women who were helping their children, the lone jogger weaving through them in his sleek black storm tights, the dog that tugged at his leash with his tongue lolling and eyes full of wonder, or the many pedestrians who were hurrying to their place of work, his mind absorbed all this and filled him with a hunger, sadness and then a growing disquiet that threatened to turn into anger.

He groggily dragged himself to the bathroom and the muffled hum of a hair dryer told him that it was occupied by his thirteen year old daughter, Claire. "Hurry up in there, I need the bathroom!" He banged on the door cursing under his breath how as they grew older, they had to spend so much time "prettying up for the boys". He had a dim view of young people when they loved, he had a dim view when they rioted. At least he was consistently at war with the young.

Claire, with dimpled cheeks and pale blue eyes, was just blossoming into womanhood. Tall for her age, she struggled to fit into clothes that were no longer loose on her, resenting the lack of means to buy the latest pair of A&F jeans or the fabulous looking Aeropostale tank tops that her friends seemed to have no trouble obtaining with alarming regularity. She was today, dressed in blue jeans that were uncomfortably tight around her hips, and a white shirt with blue stripes that was pulled down and tucked in to conform with the school dress code that frowned heavily on bared midriffs. When her father knocked on the door, she had just finished drying her auburn hair and was brushing the long strands vigorously so that they fell down in waves about her shoulders. Grimacing at the interruption and quickly checking the time on her phone, Claire appraised for one last time the image presented henceforth on the mirror with a critical eye. Then, apparently satisfied, or afraid of the latent anger of a policeman that best be kept from boiling over, or may be a mix of both, she walked out, closing the door pointedly behind her.

To the room thus vacated, father walked in and as the warm water from the shower beat into his head and woke him up in degree, daughter plugged the coffee pot in and picked up the uniform from the closet where it had been carelessly tossed. Water boiled and the coffee dripped slowly down to the bowl; the iron hissed angry steam onto the dark blue cloth. The tip of the iron darted with precision between the shiny brass buttons and the flat of the iron pressed hard into the cloth multiple times, creasing and re-creasing until Claire was satisfied of the morning work.

One time, when Claire had missed a crease, on a hot summer day when angry feelings were apt to boil over, an enraged father's heavy palm had made a crease on an eleven year old face. Guilt - that load of bricks on a man's conscience - did make its brief appearance, but a far superior force that had been instilled in the policeman through years of training held the day, and no apologies were uttered, a stony silence substituted itself between man and child, only to be occasionally ruptured by another sharp reprimand and at times abuse, plain and simple. These lessons had not been forgotten as she now ran to pour the coffee and have it ready for the man of the house. She would make coffee for her mom later, leave it on the microwave before dashing out to school at 7.50. Mom would not wake up until 10. After a decade of abuse, that her husband had vehemently and rather tragically identified with fiery passion, she had fallen to a decay and stupor leaving Claire with the almost full burden of running the house.

The man of the house finished his shower and proceeded to his room where the day's clothes were neatly laid out, the shine in the brass buttons clouding over as he reached towards them. As he donned the uniform in its successive stages, a growing sense of confidence and power flowed through him. Each caress of the warm shirt on his freshly soaped skin, the smooth movement of round buttons into buttonholes, the tight fit of the trouser against his bulging waistline, sent little electric sparks shooting across his limbs and the man of purpose rose from the beast of sloth, in degree. His wife moved restlessly on the other side of the bed, her lips parted in some dream sequence of a happier nature than what life had conspired to offer her in those sleepless hours.

Brandon did not pay any attention to his wife. He did not think much of her these days. She had stopped responding to his abuse and he had lost interest in her over time. His job was his raison d'etre and these were no ordinary times and cops like him were in short supply. With the hoi polloi demanding the impossible and boldly walking the streets with little cardboard signs of guillotines, something had to be done and as Brandon had been briefed, it was the police force that would do that thing.

For such important struggles, Brandon was being trained and he was rising in his career. His natural propensity for brutality coincided with this view of the right of the mighty to squash the under-class like a petulant bug. It was - unlike his real one - a marriage made in heaven. Many young cops in the elite task force set up by the Seattle police, West Precinct admired him and was not a little afraid of him and his violent passions.

What set Brandon apart from other violent cops was this : He had a knack for pushing the legal envelope without openly violating its limits. When he arrested the three women off Westlake Park last night, he was content in holding them up in a cell without allowing the use of a bathroom until each one had peed in their pants. He never laid a finger on them, but when he applied the handcuffs - and later took them off - there was just this little extra force applied, that brought the skin closer to the sharp closure of the cuff, so it marked them and made them wince and cry.

More violent acts could certainly be carried out, but not on humans but say on dolls. A distraught mother can be made to fear the law in such legal ways.

This scientific application of force, so that it did not visibly deviate much from the law that "only the minimum amount of force needed to achieve a legitimate purpose could be used" made sure Brandon stayed out of trouble with any annoying human rights law that might be in existence. Unlike what many of his colleagues thought, he took no perverse pleasure in his job, but as he was a taciturn man, not given to airing his thoughts, no one knew the inner springs of his thoughts and what motivated his acts of cruelty. But, in actual fact, Brandon's enjoyment of his job was not too different from that of a lawyer prosecuting who he deems unworthy to be a free human. He believed in force that kept society whole, functional and predictable, and he was happy to do his part in the grand cosmos of things. Not an intelligent man by any means, he was yet keenly aware in a crude manner how the laws actually worked, on behalf of the powerful and connected. As long as he was their ally, he would find meaning, purpose and security - so he thought.

He was also a good teacher, and helped good cops turn violent and calmed down the more violent ones so that they could run under the legal radar. He was thus an invaluable ally of Democracy, that facade built by the powerful few to hold down the yearnings and aspirations of the many.

When news reporters from the Seattle Times called him, anxious to find out what part of the news they had was fit to print, he was happy to oblige. Thus in the morning paper, there was a prominent story as to how "the police used a sufficient amount of force to subdue protesters that turned violent".

Brandon, all in all, was at the top of his game and intent on staying there. It amused him not a little when kids at the Occupy site tried to reason with him thusly: "bro, you are the ninety nine percent! why are you protecting them?" Stupid kids, what little did they know? How could someone like Brandon make a career as good as this anywhere else? His skills, dim view of humanity, general callousness, all attracted him to that institution which was the guardian of the one percent from the rest. It paid well.

As the cruiser sped with purpose down Jackson, Brandon was looking forward to the day. A few of the more violent protesters from yesterday had not been released and he would be questioning them today, trying to get as much information as possible about the Occupy movement, its leaders and plans. A warm glow spread over him at the thought as he made a sharp left on to the 2nd, leaving behind the squalor of Pioneer Square, passing the prestigious Smith Towers and such respectable business locations - aware that he was protecting them and those that resided within: Civilization itself.





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