After my session I stumbled down to the lobby of the Château. I was in a daze. Going back to past lives was definitely not part of my agenda for the day. LaFoix was leaning against a marble pillar with a pocket book in his hand, waiting for me.
"You ready to go to the next level?"
"The next level? Jesus, you didn't tell me Cleopatra would be waitin' for me in the last level."
"Hey whatever happens, happens. You went deep, that's all."
"Deep? Yeah, I guess you could call it that."
"So, now that you got your feet wet, you ready for the next stop?"
"I'm ready to meet the man."
"Be patient. You'll get there. You're ready to go to an event."
"Midnight tonight in the East Side mill."
"Tonight? But I just want to meet Trochanter. It's been one long motherfuckin' day. Can't I just make an appointment and see him in his office?"
"Dude, what you think? You think he hangs out here just waiting for people like you to drop in and lay the smack down on him? To get busted by some sucka from Will's crew? No way. This is his organization, but the man is strictly remote. He'll see your sorry ass on his schedule."
"Okay, okay. So what do I have to do to meet him?"
"Trust. Just trust me. You'll get there. He doesn't just meet with anybody you know. He's gotta make sure you're serious. How does he know you ain't just a suit trying to set him up? Just be patient".
"You're the one in charge, boss. So, we're going to a mill?"
"Yeah. The events are held in different warehouse spaces every night. They keep it all on the down low so no authority figures try to check 'em. It's gonna be an endorphic wannbe. It's back in your hood---Dog Town. Let's go."
"Is Trochanter speaking?"
"Facheezie. Our main man is definitely in the house. You down for it, or not?"
"Wouldn't mind hearing him speak. What's he talkin' about?"
"Probably what he always talks about: Cybercontextualism."
"It's the dude's philosophy. You know---the information big bang? Fighting against the Technoliteralists? You know what I'm talkin' 'bout. The commodimization of information leads to the commodimization of life. You've peeped scenery on all that?"
really. I was raised an Episcocapitalist."
"I can see you got a thing or two to learn. Shit, you suits on the 247th floor supposed to be up on all the latest shit. Potential revolutionary uprisings and all. Don't you get paid to know what the masses is up to? Come on, follow me. We gotta bust a move or we'll be late."
We drove back down the coast for two hours. LaFois wasn't too chatty anymore. I wondered if I was wasting my time. Maybe Trochanter didn't have the CDR4000. Maybe he did have it, but I'd never get to see him.
It was almost dark by the time we got back to Dog town. Dog Town---I didn't think I'd be back here so soon. We started walking and criss-crossing through one alleyway after another. We walked past fenced-in warehouses where mongrelized Pit Bulls jumped against our shadows. I could hear glass crunching with every step.
"I don't like Pits. They look like urban sharks--ready to chomp on moi--their plate de jour."
"Yeah, hood sharks--that's what they is. Just keep moving. They ain't gonna bite, less you climb up into their crib. What's goin' down tonight is public speaking."
"Getting' up in front of people and talkin'?"
"What about you? You ever have to give a speech?"
"Absafuckin' lootley. It's a big rush."
"I can't deal. Public speaking is the one thing that scares me to death. I'd rather pull castration duty on a bull spare parts farm than stand in front of people and talk."
"That's why you need to go to this place. You were in the war, right?"
"Mine sweeping division."
"Cuzzo, you faced snipers in Singapore. You can stand in front of regular people and fuckin' talk. Shit. Yeats. The poet. You heard a him?"
"He said the will just does the work of the imagination. That's what the man said. You use will power-100% pure will power to give shape to your ideas. Man, I know it's deep, but that's what it's all 'bout."
We stopped walking while LeFois peeked to see if all was clear. We see a female guard in a dark outfit standing near a doorway. LaFois approaches her and whispers: "Dum spectant oculi laesos, laeduntur et ipsi." She answered back, "Multaque corporibus transitione nocent."
We quickly entered and walked down a wooden ramp. The wood beneath our feet felt like it might give at any moment. We passed three ushers with flashlights along the way. A lone voice spoke from deep inside the structure. The ramp led us to a staged area much like a boxing ring. The ushers motioned for us to sit on the floor among the approximately three hundred people surrounding all four sides of the ring. The audience was completely silent except for the occasional cough or stir of an infant. The room was dark but not pitch black. A spotlight highlighted a young woman of twenty who stood reading aloud to the crowd. Her hair gushed out of her head:a 360 degree Pompodoric beehive of beads, pearls, and seashells weaved throughout her wiry braids. She rotated her body clockwise like a figurine in a Swiss Cuckoo clock, gesturing to all four sides of the room. In the shadows seven feet away from her, a silver haired man of sixty sat on a cushioned bar stool scribbling notes onto a miniature pad of paper. He listened intently to her every word like a reporter at a crime scene, pausing to write while continuing to listen. LeFois whispered into my ear, "That's Trochanter. The old silver fox himself."
The woman finished her reading. The audience applauded and the spotlight moved to Trochanter.
"As you can see-as Elizabeth has so ably demonstrated-speech is a combination of story and narration, fact and fiction, will and imagination. Thank you again, Elizabeth, for a job well done. I wish you all to note the relative ease with which Elizabeth's delivery so effortlessly reached all the corners of the room. Thank you again. Now, Elizabeth, could you please choose the next speaker."
The spotlight turned to the audience and scanned over the eager crowd. This was a group of people anxiously waiting their turns, eager to speak! The light rested on LeFois. No, they wouldn't. They wouldn't...
"I choose the young man in the back. The one who just arrived." She was staring at me. I felt hands touching my back, urging me forward. I looked to LeFois for help, but he just sat, covered his eyes, and shook his head.
"LeFois, help me! Don't let them do this!" He started to crack up.
"What's your name?" asked a woman to my left.
"Lane. And I'm not going up on that stage!" The collective arms of the crowd started to create a weaving suction, drawing me closer to the stage. They began to chant:
Seconds was all it took for me to find myself standing upon the stage. Trochanter came up to me and shook my hand. "There, there young fellow. You won't hurt yourself up here. Look out at the crowd, son, and tell me what you see."
The spotlight hurt my eyes. I stared at a 360-degree blur of people. Trochanter continued, "Are you afraid they'll throw things at you? Do you think they'll injure you? Are your enemies planted in the audience ready to assassinate you as you speak?"
"Not likely, sir."
"Maybe they'll throw rotten fruit at you. Do you think so? Take a look here and see what I have for you."
Trochanter reaches down into a bag and picks out a tomato. He looks at it for a second, then looks at me, and throws the tomato into the middle of the audience. Everyone breaks into laughter as Trochanter hands me another tomato and nods for me to throw it. I grab it and heave it out at the audience. Suddenly an all out fight breaks out with the audience hurling fruit and vegetables back at me. Trochanter hands me the sack, and I throw every last tomato at the crowd. I started laughing. Soon the whole room is laughing. Gradually the laughter turns into applause. Trochanter lifts up his hands and the applause dies down.
"There, there. You see? Now the worst has happened. There's nothing to fear."
Trochanter moved over to his stool and sat down.
"Your topic for tonight is 'fairness.'"
"Fairness? You want me to talk?"
"Yes. Fairness. Fuse it together.Talk about the subject of fairness.
What does it mean to be fair?"
"Am I giving a speech?"
"You are. In effect, yes. Tell us what it is to be fair."
I cleared my throat and stared at the crowd. They stared back at me.
"Ladies and gentlemen. Life is, well, life is like, not always fair?"
"Okay....," interrupted Trochanter. As he spoke a whooshing sound filled the room. I jumped as a cascade of particles spilled onto my head from above. Wheat! He's emptying a whole damn silo of wheat onto me!
"For God's sake, man, breathe some pride into your chest! Let's take it from the top." I didn't know whether I should kill him now or later. He gave me a wink and I decided to push on.
"Tonight, I speak before you, you who have spent your lives fighting against the currents of injustice itself. You who have spent your lives fighting the unfair, resisting those who who do as they please against the good will of the majority. I speak before you tonight to remind you that fairness can be more than just a dream." I stopped and glanced at the man hunched on his stool to my left. He stopped writing and looked up at me.
"Better," he said, "much better! You're skillful use of anaphora lured me into your speech. Very well done!" Trochanter started clapping and the crowd followed. My knees had stopped shaking. I stood and bathed in the applause; pleased with myself for surviving this ordeal.
I reached into my pocket and realized I had forgotten to rub Topical Valium 5 onto my hands. I continued my speech watching Trochanter for cues that told me when to brace myself from the merciless grain chute above my head.
"Don't become mesmerized by the sound of your own voice to the point where you take your eyes off the audience," he scolded.
I prepared myself to begin again when I was interrupted by a crashing sound. Machine gun fire erupted from the side entrance. I jumped onto my stomach. The entire crowd fell into a stumbling panic, stampeding in all directions looking for a way out. I saw LeFois turning in circles, searching for an escape route, but finding none. We were trapped. The police were on top of us everywhere. They weaved through the crowd with their batons thudding against defenseless bodies; people were climbing on top of each other as the police threw nets all around us. More machine gun fire flared up in the background. I was pushed down near the edge of the stage and looked up to see a uniformed officer standing above me. In the green light I could see the Macrohard logo stitched across his chest.
"Deficit slimebag," he said while raising his baton above his head. I could do nothing but close my eyes as my head rocketed to the moon.
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