"The lawsuit was amusing," she thought as she heard the sticks cracking on shields, the clomp of the boots moving towards her, "but nothing came of it." Hedges lost.
They had already raided her house. Really, she always thought of herself as so inconsequential, such a no one that she was almost boastful of it. "I'm no one. They wouldn't waste their time with me," she would proclaim to the 20-something listeners to her show. She still thought of herself as nothing, when the IRS started visiting her site, thought it laughable that they would even look at someone with nothing but debt. Still thought it silly paranoia because in the overall scheme, even her 200 listens a week in podcast were nothing compared to the tide of the MSM; nothing compared to the lunatics breathing weirdness out there.
It ended up, they didn't care about those screaming about a new world order, or alien invasions... they feared reasonable, sane ideas more. They feared a no one that the smart and sane would talk to; they feared the message reaching the working class. They feared that she carried nothing divisive, no hate, nothing to "get" her on. Another case of "nits make lice," and rather than an infected blanket, they found reason to come after her under NDAA - giving comfort to the enemy, presumably by daring to criticize the USA. You see, they wouldn't go after Hedges, who brought the suit, nor any of the public figures who gave her time, Chomsky, Ayers, Churchill, Piven, or Sheehan. They wanted to shut down the people who gave THEM a platform. Never give us martyrs, rather shut down the mic checks. Stop the IDEAS from having microphones, close down those who repeated them. Writers and reporters were the enemy. They were the fuses after all, for a bomb that could go off at any time.
She got out in time. She still beat them.
She was out on the lake when they hit her house. A neighbor called, and asked for the gossip - what was going on down there? Rather than pontoon over to the neighborhood access, she motored it towards the reeds. She swapped cars with a friend, signing and predating the paid off truck off for a much older SUV on its last legs. Didn't matter. She was on the freeway before they were done taking out her front door, dogs in tow.
She was on her way to the border, no money, no plan, sharing the driving with her 16 year old son. Laptop, towels, her purse, and in bathing suits no less; not exactly travel packed. She was ever grateful that she had grabbed her guitar in the morning, intending on stopping at a friend's house on the shore for a bonfire jam later that evening. Oh, well, at least they had shirts and shorts on board in case the sun had gotten to be too much. An ATM was the first order of business; in town so they couldn't track her movements. She removed every dime. Its not like she had to worry about gas and electric bills now, let alone the mortgage. There was both a feeling of grief and a feeling of freedom rising in her throat, walking away from a lifetime of possessions. Every plant she had carefully nurtured, she would never again see bloom. Her husband's guitar; the pictures of her small family, their entire history swiped away with the kick in of a door.
She glanced at her son, tears forming in her eyes. It was so unfair to rip him from everything he knew, his friends, his stuff, hell, his x-box "clan." The guilt was almost overwhelming. He was the only thing that mattered, and because of her own big mouth, she had just destroyed his world. "I guess this is the next part," he said to her, grinning. "Mom, seriously. You always say that, you know, about that was that part, and there's always the next part." He started to laugh, then roar with glee, that crazy giddiness that only a teen can reach. "Travel while you're young Jake," he tried to imitate her voice, "before you have too much tying you down." He snorted, choking giggling, "Wow, who knew? Helluva way to see the world, ain't it?" She started to laugh too, infected by his bright humor. "Road Trip!" They both yelled it at once. He popped an ear bud in, and grinned, "No cd's though. I have my ipod. You're screwed."
So, the only thing left to do, she supposed, was to see this as he did. An adventure. Better to not focus on the life and death seriousness of it. Writers all over the net had been "disappeared." She looked at her son, and knew his life would be the only leverage they could use to break her. This wasn't so much about saving her from being arrested as an enemy of the State. It was about protecting him, and what they would do to him to break her.
She knew hundreds of people that would take them in, and as the names formed in her head, she rejected them one by one. "They would look there, they know we are close. We would put them in danger." So she decided to camp rural alone, and head for the anonymity of the big cities, where Occupations were massive, working her way south.
Texas, Arizona, she was loathe to cross in either place. California was a lot of extra mileage, and she knew too little about the crossing conditions in New Mexico. The direct, and busiest route seemed the safest option. Texas it was. Damn.
So, once again she found herself thinking about Hedges and NDAA; only this time in the brutal heat of San Antonio surrounded by thousands of protesters as what looked more like a combat army than police bore down on them.
"Mom, this way," he tugged on her arm. She looked at the fire escape heading up the old building. "Jake, never go up. You get trapped going up." Out front she could hear the screams as the guns rang out. Rubber bullets, live ammo, who knew? Smoke rose mixing with the tear gas... buildings were on fire now. The thump of helicopters approaching chilled her blood. The crowd surged forward, instead of back. Coming here was a bad idea, she thought, looking for an escape route. There was a drainage ditch behind them somewhere, they had crossed earlier, thick with the muddy swirling water from the morning's downpour. It was a frightening thought. The signs along the roadside alerted people to the dangers of being washed away in their cars, let alone swimming it. "Michigan people swim, and I have white water experience," she thought. Being a wanted woman made these decisions for themselves.
She grabbed her son, and struggled back against the press of flesh, back a whole block. "We're gonna hold hands and slide in. Put your feet in front of you and float on your back. Use your arms as rudders. Don't try and swim it." The water was lower already, but still ugly brown and menacing. He whipped off his belt, and told her to grab an end, explaining that would give them both more maneuverability with their arms, while keeping them attached. Smart kid.
It moved much slower than the rivers she had been in during her rafting days; making it remarkably easy to guide them towards a grated storm drain a few blocks away from the riot. They clambered up and tried to reorient. The current had pushed them back closer to the car, where they had started... had it run the other way, they would have had to run the gauntlet getting back. The Motel 6's shower seemed like heaven, and worth the splurge. "We need to go shopping," she declared. "Tourist clothes, hair dye."
"Tourist clothes, Mom? Really? Now that's a priority." He rolled his eyes. She gave him the piercing Mommy-look. "When we hit Laredo, kiddo, we are just more white people looking for 'authentic art' - Got it?"
The news in the background lit up with explosions, reports of the dead and wounded. They were calling us all terrorists now, anarchists who just wanted to destroy America and all she stood for. The anchor's eyes looked equally dead as she read her appointed lines. She stopped, waiting to turn off the set as they headed out the door. The talking head on the set had stopped talking. She was just staring at the camera. "This is bullshit, this is all lies. Our government is making War against us for wanting to be FREE!" She was screaming as the guards dragged her off her stool. A commercial replaced the screen.
Merrill Lynch. Perfect.
She had heard that was the moment that set off the time bomb of humanity in the US; the people taking up arms and fighting back. They finally saw that the Press was not Free, they were not free, and that it indeed was War. It had exploded, with no end in sight. And she would tell their stories. From Costa Rica if all went well, eventually.
She hiked her short skirt up a little, adjusted her cleavage and tossled her now short black hair. "Do ya'll know where I can get some of that real authentic-like turquoise jewelry cheap?" She asked the border guard. He predictably looked more at her wares than her ID. "Every 15 feet you can buy that crap over there, Ma'am, but be sure to be back before dark. Mexico is dangerous at night."
"Not as dangerous as it is in the US for a writer armed with the truth," she thought as she drove through the gates, not looking back, "Not as dangerous at all."