World of Xetrov

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Mike and the rally

Mike and the rally

The door opens to the function hall and in walks a man. Crowds of people turn to greet him.

“Hey, Mike.”

He waves while walking toward the pulpit at the front of the hall. His broad shoulders create space as he divides the crowd. Fresh faces rivet their eyes on shiny blonde hair and charming looks.

He grabs the microphone, “Thank you for coming out. These crowds can only get bigger if we spread the word. Everybody here knows a person at work, or meets someone a bar.” He pauses and frees himself of the microphone cord. “You know, four years ago an old friend of mine, John, started these gatherings.” Speakers blast his voice.

There is a small clap in the background and some snickering.

“Thank you” says Mike to the applause. “He should be recognized for the sacrifice he made for us. That night when the cops arrested us, it was tragic.” Pausing momentarily, “That is exactly why we need to be smarter, more thoughtful. We need to understand that those people were not lost in vain.” Another dramatic pause, “That is why we have brought on board some friends from the inside. Folks, our first guest speaker is from the F.D.A. He is in charge of controlling the labeling contents of packaging. When you read what is in a box of cereal, he’s the guy that wrote it.”

Another man enters from the side and approaches, “Thanks Mike.” He scans the crowd; “I would like to start by thanking you for coming out. Mike is right, people before us, the John’s of the group should be remembered for their will and determination.”

The crowd murmurs and claps.

“Now I’m here to discuss the F.D.A. transforming packaging on food products. With manufactures striving to make a buck, the only way they can is to conform. The government is pushing to have the labels of trans fat, cholesterol free labels on packages. Folks, sooner than later this is going to be standard, when the F.D.A. begins shoving their rules down the throats of the Xetrov citizens, they will conform. People are scared of what the government tells them is bad or wrong. No longer are we going to be able to buy certain foods. Because companies will have to cater to what the public wants, they will have to change their ingredients. The public buys what the government says is healthy. How is this determined? By the size of the manufacturer’s campaign contribution. BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is a measure of body composition. It is calculated by taking a person’s weight and dividing by their height squared. The higher the number the more overweight you are. Folks, it is only an indication and other issues such as body type and shape have a bearing as well. BMI is just ballpark figure. The elderly populations, pregnant women and athletes are different but yet their BMI will be extremely high or low.”

Across town William sits in a hospital room staring up at a television screen. His father lies supine beside him in prostration. His eyes grow tired of the constant infomercials that fill television station after station.

He places the remote control on the bed and stares out the window. City lights twinkle over the pine trees. Serenity and peaceful; they call his name but words would be sacrilege when admiring the beauty of this nightscape. He stands and exits the room.

The bell to the diner door rings at William’s arrival. No one is there to greet him. A moment later Tanya walks from the back room and double takes.

“Hi,” she says and grabs a menu from the counter stack.

“Hello again,” he says with a smile. While removing his jacket before taking the seat from the previous night.

“What can I get you?”

“I’ll have a cup of coffee, please.”

“No apple pie? I told you it was good.” Wiping clean the table.

He folds his hands and tilts his head at her, “I will buy your apple pie if you sit and talk to me.”

“No.”

“Come on Tanya, no one is here, it’s three in the morning.”

“I can’t.”

“You’re lying again.”

“No, I’m not. I have to work.”

“Work? Come on, you’re just talking to me.”

She gives him a querulous look, “I don’t even know you.”

“It takes me five minutes to eat apple pie. Is that too long?”

“I can’t,” jotting his order down.

“Tanya,” lowering his voice, “You can, but you won’t.” Squinting his eyes, “I understand if you can’t take a risk, but not that you won’t take the risk.”

She clicks her pen and stares him down, “Five minutes.”

Disappearing fast, she walks back to grab his coffee and pie. Reappearing with a fork and napkin he smiles and grins at her gesture.

Sliding the plate over and placing the cup down, “You’re persistent.”

“And you rattle” he says inhaling the coffee aroma.

“Excuse me?”

“When you walk, something rattles in your pocket.”

“Yeah,” dazed by his remark, “I take medication.”

Breaking his apple pie crust in half, he looks up at her, “For what?”

“I was in a car accident, and had some trauma. These pills-” she reveals the bottle and places it on the table, “They help with the pain.”

Grabbing it and reading the label, “You keep them in your left pocket?”

“What do you mean?”

“Since you’re a righty, wouldn’t you want them in your right pocket? It would make them more easily accessible.”

“How did you know I’m a righty?”
He returns the pills to the table, “You poured my coffee with your right hand and carried the mug with your left hand.” His genuineness permeates the air; “Pouring scalding liquid takes skill, especially for someone with a head injury.”

“I never said I had a head injury.”

“No, but the scar on your skull says so. Pulling your hair up in a bun may keep the hair out of the food and show off your nice earrings, but it doesn’t hide a six-inch scar.”

Guarding her identity, “How much do you know about me?”

“Only what you’ve told me.” He grins twinkling his eyes, “I’m almost done with my pie. Is there anything you want to ask me?”

“How did you get into this country? I know Homeland Security is very strict. I know my husband’s a cop.”

“I’m on a temporary visa because I’m here to visit an ailing relative.” He slides his empty plate to the middle of the table. “That was an easy one. You could have figured that one out by asking your husband.” His largesse in substantial.

“Let me get you some change.”

“No,” Standing, “The pie warrants a big tip.” Upon his exit Jen flashes a glance at him. The hold is superfluous and unsettling for his nihilistic disposition.

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