Trochanter has disappeared. He was supposed to meet me at 9:00 and now I can't find him anywhere." @welcome had a contagious, worried look all over her face.
"What do you mean, disappeared? He's probably walking on the beach."
"No, no. We've looked EVERYWHERE. I'm telling you he's not here. We've got to call security. Now."
Oh, shit. My worst fear during this whole union thing is the idea of what Macrohard might do once they found out what we've really been up to. Two and one-half minutes later security was up in our room. Security pounced into action creating a net covering two miles up and down the coast. We searched by boat, by foot, by every means possible. We came up empty-handed. Soon, everyone in the complex knew what was happening. There was an emotional fire alarm going off everywhere. I needed this like a chicken bone in the throat.
We organized a guillotine inventory check. All guillotines in the nearby towns have running videotape footage logs of all the week's executions. Luckily, that turned out to be unproductive.
Days went by with still no sign of Trochanter. Each day we searched through every piss filled street we could find. It's got to be a STAB. That's all I can think of. They're trying to redo the man's mental make up.
Finally on the ninth day we got the call. A nurse from a Colony for the Blind was on the phone. They said they found a man lying in the street matching Trochanter's identification. We drove down right away. There he was propped up against a tree. @welcome ran up to him sobbing. He looked pretty bad. He had obviously taken quite a beating. He had bandages all over his face.
"We've tried to get him to talk but haven't been able to reach him even though he's conscious," the nurse said to me. "I'm afraid I have some pretty bad news," the nurse pulled me to the side as he glanced at @welcome crying over the hunched up body of her father. "He's been blinded. Worse than that, his tongue appears to have been surgically amputated, and he has lost all hearing in his left ear." My teeth clamped onto my lower lip as my blood pressure shot up faster than a high-rise elevator.
"His mouth...oh my God, look at his mouth!" @welcome was screaming. We tried to calm her, but she couldn't stop screaming. A thick crowd of the blind had gathered all around us carefully listening as they moved back and forth with their white canes. The nurse gave @welcome an injection as I tried to calm her down. I couldn't react. I just kept looking at him sitting there with no expression on his face like an old man who has suffered a stroke. Even after the ambulance came and took us to the hospital, all I could do was go through the motions of trying to comfort @welcome. I passed through the night sitting by his side, past the point where @welcome had long since fallen asleep. I had to hold it all in until I could be alone. Then I could scream and kick everything in sight. Scream so loudly that Will would jump out of bed in terror knowing that I was coming to get him. But for now, I've got to remain calm.
"Soon, just you wait, soon," I said to the beast within me. "Soon I'll be alone and I can let you out." I never had that chance to be alone. There was a crowd buzzing all around me from the second I walked out the hospital room. I was in a war again. I remembered what it was like: the hardest part of being in combat was the waiting, holding back the agony. Waiting, waiting, waiting for that moment of rest that never comes.
Whether I liked it or not, I was in charge of Vox. I was in control of a union with three hundred thousand members all of whom were looking to me for guidance. Trochanter seemed to be doing better for a few days and then he took a turn for the worse. We carried on conversations slowly; I would speak into his left ear and he would scribble down replies on paper. The bastards really knew how to hurt him. He was embarrassed to open his mouth around me because he didn't want me to see his lacerated tongue. We sat together for hours at a time; I tried to put him back together, but the pieces were too badly damaged. Finally at six o'clock in the evening, exactly seven days since we found him, Trochanter died. I was with him. Before he died, he wrote, "I hope, I hope. Something greater or finer."
Trochanter made us promise him that no one would give a eulogy at his funeral, but I could not let this moment go unacknowledged. I called a meeting to tell everybody what happened. Ninety-five thousand people showed up. As everyone stood in silence, I walked up to the podium.
"Somewhere a chorus of hushes is heard in the world.
Conversations cut off.
Cars stopped on the streets.
Tiny tots clutching their toys, listening as they stare at their feet.
Mighty machines no longer in motion.
Phone lines free to breathe at last.
Subterranean gears slowly spin themselves down. Even the birds seem still.
If only clocks could stop ticking, they would.
To hear the news about the fate of one honest man."
"Today, I regretfully announce to the world that Alan Richard Trochanter died last night shortly after eleven p.m. Heroic attempts by his physicians were not enough to save him from the massive internal damage he sustained during his well publicized abduction. His last wish was that no one give him a eulogy. All right. The world does not need to be reminded of the greatness he inspired in all of us gathered here today.
Nor does it need to be reminded of his accomplishments. A man with a backbone of titanium who stood up and spoke out against the infotyranny of our day. A man who spoke out against the lack of decency in a decadent society turned in against itself by a perverted sense of value. A man who knew no fear. A man who risked his life knowingly every day to bring the world back to the people. A man who had the nerve to stand up and shout: PEOPLE, TAKE BACK YOUR WORLD!
Nor does it need to be reminded of what he stood for economically. He was the first to wake us up to the economic facts of our times. His creation of the Union of United Information Workers was the first step toward giving people a choice about the type of work they do. One giant corporation dictating the rules is no way to run a country. PEOPLE, TAKE BACK YOUR WORLD.
Nor does the world need to be reminded of what he taught us as individuals: How to read real books about real subjects, how to speak, and how to work together toward the accomplishment of a goal. Most of all he taught us how to defend ourselves against the invisible fist threatening us all. He gave us a shield to ward off the blows. A government that only knows how to strike down its own people is a government that needs to be changed. Again I say: PEOPLE, TAKE BACK YOUR WORLD!"
I stopped and gazed out at the swarming crowd. A ball of grief swelled up in my throat causing me to stop speaking. I looked down at my feet, searching for the strength to continue speaking. For thirty long seconds I wrestled with my private sadness in front of the whole world. Finally, the audience started to applaud giving me the chance to turn away. I walked into the arms of three bodyguards who quickly escorted @welcome and me back to headquarters where together we cried like the lost children that we were.
Go to chapter 22