Our House of Cards, Part 3 (conclusion)
Posted on Mon Feb 26th, 2018 @ 11:58pm by Unawakened Devon Spencer
Edited on on Tue Feb 27th, 2018 @ 12:23am
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Timeline: Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Tags: Devon, Dev, Deo, Spencer, Bobbie, Mitchum, Harvey, Nussbaum, Wendy, Shan, Kyran, Aromas, Gabriel, Sapien League
Previous: Paradise Lost and Found
Life fell back into a comfortable rhythm after Devon’s recent health scare and stalking by Bobbie’s psychotic mother. This suited the Greek boy just fine. He was up early for classes and off to work in the afternoon. Bobbie was in classes too and later he got with Fred Bodenheimer to butt heads with Sentara Regional. It took time to chainsaw through walls of red tape to get Bobbie’s record cleared and restore his internship. After that, since it was Wednesday, Bobbie joined Deo at home in the evening for homework, veg-time, massage, and then bed. Only this time Deo anticipated more than a massage.
They had finally reached home base. Meaning, they found a way for Devon’s broken, skittish body to enjoy sex. They consummated their relationship fully and Devon’s imagination wandered dreamily at what they had accomplished.
He danced along the tops of walls and skipped across parking pylons with the grace of Fred Astaire as he ran from Sadler Center to Aromas. He bounced into the shop as the lunchtime rush cleared and the afternoon crowd began to file inside. It was Saint Patrick’s Day and so they decorated the shop with green banners and shamrocks. Green tea was of course on special along with green pastries. Devon personally despised Saint Patrick for destroying the indigenous culture of Ireland but on the job, he wore the silly paper hat and played the part of a happy leprechaun along with the rest of his fellow employees.
He waved at regular customers before vaulting the end of the counter and making his way into the back, whistling a merry tune. Shanette and Wendy followed him with raised brows. They looked at each other and giggled, “Hello, Devon!”
“Hey, ladies!” He chirped cutely before disappearing into the manager’s office.
Harvey’s caterpillar eyebrows reached for his hairline as he watched his notoriously anxious and twitchy protégé bounce into work on a cloud of happiness. Naturally, he followed, curious. Devon hung his hoodie and slipped out of his sweaty shirt when Harvey closed the door behind them. He planted his fists on his hips, “All right, spill,” He demanded.
“Spill, what,” Devon arched a smug eyebrow.
“That,” Harvey pointed at the eyebrow. “You’re happy!”
“Yeah, I am,” The boy dried off with a towel from his pack, smiling.
“So, what’s the occasion? I’ve seen you happy about birthdays. I’ve seen you happy about weddings. I’ve seen you happy when a new comic book comes out. I’ve seen you happy when the latest ‘Batman’ movie comes out, but this is–” He peered and a smile crept slowly across his lips. “You did it? You finally got to home base with Bobbie?”
“Not that it’s any of your business,” Devon peered reproachfully but Harvey ignored him, dancing a little jig that he hadn’t done since his bar mitzvah.
“YES! My boy is no longer a virgin! I can finally stop worrying about you!” He shook his fists triumphantly.
“Will you please stay out of my love life now?” Devon shook his head but his smile betrayed his amusement. He was happy and a great part of him wanted to shout it from the rooftops. Harvey patted him on the back after Devon changed into a clean t-shirt.
“This calls for a celebration!” He waggled his bushy eyebrows. “Today my boy, today, we eat cake!”
They got to work and Shanette, Wendy, even Kyran took turns ribbing Devon about his good mood. They were his friends, they were happy for him and Devon noticed, they were also relieved. He felt embarrassed that he exposed them to the pain and loneliness he carried inside but at the same time, he felt blessed that these people truly cared about him. Thomas Fuller said, “If you have one true friend you have more than your share.” If so, then life showered Devon with good fortune.
Am I worth it? His anxious brain whispered in his thoughts. Am I lying to them? Is this real? Do they really care?
He pushed his thoughts aside as business picked up unexpectedly. Some kind of political rally took place on the campus lawn across the street and the crowd filed into the shop for drinks and a place to rest. As with anything political the mood turned contentious as patrons argued salient points, often vociferously.
“Mutants are freaks, they’re psychos!” One patron shouted stridently.
“You’re an idiot!” Another shouted back.
“Mutants are people, same as us!” One woman pleaded for them to see reason. “They’re our parents, our kids, our brothers and sisters, our boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives!”
“They’re not human!”
“They said that about black people! They said that about gay people!”
“They’re murderers, monsters!”
“They’re abominations before the lord, a sign of mankind’s corruption!”
“Nephilim, defilers, a sign of the end of days!”
“To generalize an entire class of people based the actions of a few is the definition of bigotry,” A new, more urbane voice joined the argument.
“Mutie lover!” Spittle flew.
“They’re terrorists, the government says so!”
“The government is wrong!”
“I knew it, damn liberals hate America!”
“Oh, my god, did you get that from ‘Faux’ News?”
“Okay, let’s take it down a notch and have a seat. We appreciate your right to free expression but it’s getting a bit loud.” Devon stepped boldly between a pair of rally attendees and eased them gently apart.
“Are you taking their side? Are you with the mutants?” The man had a manic gleam in his eyes. He was scared and scared people did stupid things.
“I’m not taking anyone’s side,” Devon spoke calmly and kept his eyes on both attendees. “I appreciate how you feel but you aren’t going to solve the world’s problems in a coffee shop. Look around, see? Nobody is here to start trouble and if they do, we’ll call the cops. This is a safe place for everybody.” He stressed the last word for them both.
“Asshole,” the woman muttered under her breath and took a seat in a huff. The man gnashed his teeth and took a step closer to her but he let Devon hold him back.
“We have to protect ourselves!” The man hissed stridently at Devon. “You understand, don’t you?”
“I understand wanting to protect your family but you aren’t in danger here. This is a place to hang out, talk, and enjoy coffee.” The artist looked him in the eye. The man backed down reluctantly and Devon breathed a secret sigh of relief.
“Thank you,” he gave both an appreciative smile but kept an eye on them. Harvey met him with a pat on the shoulder after having put out his own brush fire at the register.
Devon urged the line to keep moving and encouraged patrons to remain seated to avoid physical altercations. This forced him to move through the shop and keep a close eye on customers when he looked outside. Students wearing hockey masks stood on a stage with bullhorns and behind them, a banner read “Sapien League.” Supporters in the crowd held signs declaring “Humans First” and “Mutants are Mistakes.” Devon watched as a handsome black youth in a sharp power suit climbed onto the stage and took a microphone in hand. He introduced himself politely.
“Y’all, my name is Brother Gabriel and I am a proud member of the human race. Thank you for hearing me today. What I have to say in these next few minutes might save your life. It might save all our lives so please, I need you to pay attention carefully. I don’t need you to believe but I hope you’ll listen.”
He took measured steps across the stage considering his next words. “I’m here to talk to you today about something that troubles all of us. I’m talking about mutants. What are they? Who are they? What do they want? You’ve all seen the news. You’ve all heard about the mutant called Magneto. This dude, Magneto just recently attacked San Francisco, maybe you heard about it? He tore the Golden Gate bridge out of the ground. That’s right, my friends, he TORE THE WHOLE BRIDGE out of the ground. This bridge full of cars … this bridge with school buses full of kids … with cars full of people that could’ve been me … could’ve been you … could’ve been your wife, your husband, your kids … your mama, your papa, your grandparents. Magneto tore this bridge out of the ground and smashed it! Hundreds of people killed, more injured! I’m sure you heard about this, it was all over the news.”
He looked out across the crowd to heads bobbing in the affirmative. Gabriel nodded, “It was terrifying and it was just the latest attack, Y’all! Magneto is a mutant! He calls his kind ‘homo sapiens superior’. See, mutants think they are the next step in human evolution. They believe it is their destiny to replace the human race. They want to replace us–you hear that? ‘Replace,’ what does that word mean? How do they want to ‘replace’ us? Do they want our jobs? Do they want our homes? No, they want our lives! ‘Replace’ is just another word for ‘kill’! Mutants want to kill us!”
He paused, “I’m about to get a little technical now, Y’all, so bear with me. It’s important. What is a mutant? Mutation is caused by things like radiation and toxic chemical spills. Y’all heard about the atomic bombs that hit Japan in World War II. Y’all hear about nuclear tests in North Korea and India. Y’all hear nuclear power plant disasters like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. You hear about oil spills and then there are these places called ‘Superfund Sites.’ These places are so toxic that the government fences them off and spends decades cleaning them up. You’ve heard about them, they’re all over the news.” He nodded along with heads as the crowd grew larger, curious about where he was going with his speech.
“You’ve seen the pictures from Chernobyl, right? Three-headed calves? You think that can’t happen to us. Besides, it’s over in Russia, right? It means nothing to us here at home. You might be right but other things cause that kind of damage, things we have right here at home. ‘Superfund Sites’,” he paced the stage. “Do you know that there are 1,322 Superfund Sites in the United States? Think about that, there is over a thousand toxic waste dumps in this country, a thousand! There are 35 Superfund Sites in this state alone! You see it on the news. Toxic chemicals seep into the groundwater, people drink this water and they get sick. They get cancer and they have sick babies. What happens to those babies?”
Gabriel paused and looked out as people blinked, suddenly considering his question. “Yeah, scary, right? We go on about our lives and we don’t think about it. We trust that the government is taking care of business until–surprise–it comes up in the news that the government hasn’t done a thing and now the problem is so bad that lives are in danger. It has happened again, my friends!”
He prowled the stage restlessly as he continued. “This toxic waste is causing babies to be born with dangerous birth defects. Doctors call these birth defects a fancy word, ‘mutation.’ These sad babies come from us, some look like us, but they aren’t us. Some look perfectly normal but they’re missing parts of the brain that tell right from wrong. You hear about crack babies? Yeah, like that only worse. These babies, these mutants come from us, they look like us, but they aren’t us. They’re sick, we try to love them but they lack the capacity for love. We try to help but they don’t want help. We see human beings, we see our babies, they look like us but THEY AREN’T US! They aren’t our babies anymore, they aren’t human anymore! They’re mutants! They’re Magneto!”
He pointed to the crowd. “Mutants come from us, they look like us, but they aren’t us! Mutants have powers that can kill with a thought. They look like us, a mutant can be standing next to you and you’d never know until it was too late!” He watched as eyes in the crowd turned to each other in fearful suspicion.
“Some of y’all are godly folk. Christians, Jews, Muslims; and I bet you question where mutants fit in the Kingdom of God. No holy book mentions mutants or … do they?” He tapped his chin. “Here is a passage from one book but it’s by no means the only book or the only mention. Look it up for yourselves! It goes ‘The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward when the sons of God came into the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil’.”
Gabriel stood with his hands clasped behind his back. “What wickedness of man was great in the earth? What wickedness do we know that man has put in the earth? Underground nuclear tests! Toxic waste, chemical spills, oil spills, the product of evil men and what comes from this evil? Twisted babies possessed of unnatural power. To you of faith, I say that mutants are the Nephilim, the product of sin and power. Nephilim come from us, they look like us, but they aren’t us! They seek to replace God’s natural children and there can be only one response from the righteous. We must fight!” He prowled the stage reflecting the restless anger of the crowd.
“We turn to the government to protect us but they put the evil in the earth, they started it! We reap their sin of pride!” He sneered in disgust. “What is the government doing? Right now lawyers stand before the Supreme Court. They argue about whether mutants are human beings. They argue if mutants have civil rights. Meanwhile, mutants are KILLING US!” He shouted angrily, whipping the crowd in a near panic before waving for calm. “I know, I know, the government is asking important questions, questions that need to be asked. The government has taken small steps, good steps, but WE NEED MORE!”
He knelt and looked the nearest observers in the eye with earnest intensity. “We need action! We need mandatory genetic testing for all Americans! We need mandatory testing for all people entering this country! We need to arm our police and military forces to better fight mutants! We need mandatory incarceration of all known mutants! You heard Magneto! They want to wipe out the human race! They want to kill all! This is war! We have to defend ourselves! Shut mutants down! Lock them up! HUMANS FIRST!” He chanted that last phrase until the crowd repeated in thunderous anger.
“SHUT THEM DOWN! LOCK THEM UP! HUMANS FIRST!”
“‘Scuse me,” Shanette stood at the door wearing a red suit jacket and pencil skirt with matching heels and gold jewelry. She smiled at Devon, “So, how do I look?”
“Bwah–wow!” He shook his head at the disturbing sight taking place outside. “You look amazing! Sorry, but the rally across the street has me rattled.”
“I know, but it’s necessary. Gabriel says we have to get the word out while we can. The world needs to wake up before it’s too late.” She placed a kiss on his cheek, smiling. “Later, Tiger!”
“Wait, Shan…?” He caught her back, “You–you’re going out there?”
“Yeah, Devon, hon, but I lost my family in San Fran. I’ve felt this personally. We have to do something about mutants before they kill us all.” She smiled sadly. “You should join us, we need all the help we can get.”
“Shan, I–” he shook his head. “I don’t know what to make of this. It looks like a witch hunt.”
“We have to defend ourselves, Dev,” her dark eyes glittered with furious pain. “My family didn’t get to choose, they’re gone. I won’t see another family go through what happened to mine. Anyway, we can talk later; running late!”
Devon watched as she crossed the street and vanished into the crowd. She appeared again at the foot of the stage and greeted Gabriel with a kiss as he descended. He slipped his arm around her waist and guided her into the back of a black car. Campus security pushed the crowd back as they made their exit leaving Devon with a shiver of dread down his spine.
“Shan….” He called out to his dear friend but he had nothing to say. The cruel reality of her loss filled him with questions, questions that had no easy answers.