Sunday, September 11, 2005

This is taking too long.

It’s Saturday and I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to get all the details down (clown, frown). I can hear Soo listening to Elvis upstairs. “We’re caught in a trap, we can’t go on together, we can’t go on together with suspicious minds.” Funny (money, honey, dripping, stripping, bare, to the core, spare, no more, war, obvious, is it? Envious? your zit, my zit, whozit, mature, fer sure, anyway, ray, hope, dope).
I met with Max like that four times (roll of dimes, nickels too heavy, Rockefeller’s levy, a self tax, relax). Always a different location, always a different meeting point. TJ’s Tavern was just one of many locations they had where there were people they could trust (this is a bust, wind gust, in dog we, oh I see). People who could watch for a car, would report anything back to their contact. A gas station, a drug store, it could have been anyplace. It was this widespread network that really started convincing me. I mean Max could have been the most convincing guy in the world, but if it was just one guy talking it would be pretty stupid of me to believe that we could pull off what we’re going to try to pull off. I was exposed to a vast network, and it went up as well as down. Bob intimated that they had connections in the State Department, the Pentagon, maybe even the Cabinet. But then how does the saying go, “Those that know don’t talk, those that don’t know do.” Bob was a bit of a weak link if you ask me. Jake called him their Pet Pachyderm. He was involved in local Republican party politics and he knew things and was convenient, but he was a bit of a chucklehead. I think Max kept him around so he could get them out on King’s Point, the Kingston country club, rub a dub dub. I asked, but they wouldn’t let me play, it was always just the three of them, Jake and Bob and Max. Private conversations on a private course (remorse, discourse).
I can hear Soo and Nathan running around upstairs. He still laughs, they still have fun together, which makes me feel good and awful at the same time (rhyme, fuckoff, we’ve done that one, fuckoff, you’re no fun). They can be happy without me, they don’t really need me, but I will miss them (I will miss you, Soo, I know you don’t think so now, I know you’ll think this is madness, but I’ve never stopped loving you. You have made my life complete and I love you so. Oh, my darling, I love you and I always will. No matter where I am or what happens, please remember that [sniff, fucker, whiff, clucker, calling me chicken, pulsings quicken, I’m not excited, are you incited, you tell me, I think we agree, we’d be in trouble if we didn’t, you need a mint, you missed, assonance, now I’m pissed, arrogance, whatever, time to sever, a limb?, a whim, then go on, anon)].

During the course of those four meetings with Max and his pals he laid out the plan and my role in it. He assured me everything would be taken care of while I was gone. Soo would get a job. Nathan would have the best daycare and they would never have to worry about their security (obscurity, purity, water, otter, totter, tater, hater). I should never worry about their security (a surety, close enough, rough). This was very important, and Max knew it was important to me, and he’s almost gone too far, perhaps he protests too much sort of thing, you know, but I believe him. I trust him and others trust him (sing that hymn, out on a limb, you know it, don’t blow it). And he’s assured me there are others above him, that he’s not alone, he hasn’t gone as far as Bob, but he’s made it clear that there are allies in important places. Certainly none of this would be possible if there weren’t.
OK, so here’s what I’m going to do on Monday. I’m going to tell Soo I have an interview in Kirkland. I’m going to take my car to Seattle and kill time until the 5:30 ferry back to Las Piedras Island. I will need to be one of the first cars on the ferry. I need to be on the lower deck so my car blocks a large number of cars. This is important, it needs to be in the way. It’s a diversion, it’s one of several diversions (excursions, perversions, your words, not mine, flying birds, I feel fine, end of the world, flag unfurled, toes curled, abuse hurled). Once I’m parked, I will leave a note on this little sculpture I’ve made. It’s just a bunch of old batteries, wrapped with clear plastic tape around a milk jug that I’m going to fill with colored water (NO FOOD DIE). The note will read: “This is not a real bomb, but it could have been.” (this is not your tomb, you walk between, leave the womb, see and be seen) I need to quickly go up to the passenger deck and leave the ferry. This shouldn’t be too hard. I just need to stay calm and walk slowly. Give nothing away with my face and actions. At this point I’m an actor, I’m playing the role of a guy who’s forgotten something and has to walk back apologetically through the crowd of commuters filing onto the ferry (merry, hardly, very, bardly, bardly?, you had one, weeple, that was fun, people, make mistakes, the fakes, judgmental, elemental, sentimental? Getting dull, a lull, please! geez).
Once I’m through anything can happen. Let me just lay out the possible scenarios (impresarios, I’m ignoring you, rosarios, y tu). I could go into the men’s bathroom, get in a stall and remove my clothes beneath which I will be wearing running shorts and a T-shirt. My pants and dress shirt are deposited in the trash can under a crumpled up newspaper, and will be retrieved shortly thereafter by someone else.
We went over several options and I want to relay them all just in case this falls into the wrong hands, or perhaps so it does fall into the wrong hands. Once I started listening to these guys and thinking myself about all the different ways to do this, I realized we have to do this just to make people aware. It would be so easy for someone with malicious intent to do something like this, it is scary (eek, this is bleak, so, go, away, need I say, more, roar, mouse, lion, house, scion, heir, air, err, away, so you say so you say). And the worst part is, the effort it would take to prevent this would be too onerous to ever implement. The only solution is to create an environment where no one would want to do something like this.
Six fake bombs on six ferries will wreak sick havoc. And, that’s just the maritime activity, I’m not privy to all the land-based distractions they’ve got planned.
I could just walk out of the ferry building and start running, just like I was a casual ordinary jogger. I could be picked up by a friendly in a car. I could run to a predetermined location where there’s a bicycle. At this point time is critical. The ferry will be loading up and will take 35 minutes to arrive at Las Piedras at which point my car will be discovered unoccupied and in the way (obstructing, self-destructing, fictionally, I see). They’ll find the “bomb” and start looking for me (us, discuss, bus, no fuss, impossible, plausible, toss a bull, given cause-ible, weak, meek, earth, worth, inheriting, ferreting, out, a lout, in the hills, without wills, intestate, ingrate). The car is registered in my name and they will alert the police, the border and the airport. I need to be far gone unrecognized before that point. I can’t risk taking a cab and public transport would be too slow and too dangerous, as well. If I take the bike I could ride the 12 miles to SeaTac, ditch the bike and change in another pre-determined bathroom. Or I could get a ride from a friendly and calmly take a plane anywhere. Or I could just run or ride to any location in Seattle and “go to the mattresses” as the saying goes, at any number of friendly locations (vocations, calling, falling, job, rob, steal, feel, real). Or I could disappear into the woods, go out to the Olympic peninsula, the possibilities for my disappearance are endless. I could run the six miles to Fountleroy and take the change of clothes out of the bathroom in the park and walk on to the ferry to Vashon Island. I could be one of the shocked, stunned people on that ferry when that “bomb” is discovered. Once on Vashon, I could stay with friendlies or get picked up by a small motor boat that could transport me to any location on Puget Sound. I could be in a remote cabin or in a big city and no one would know where. I could stay in hiding in this country or abroad for years.
Why? Why would I want to do this, you ask (task, unbidden, shell midden, treasure hidden, amidst rubble, looking for trouble). Because this group needs someone who can convey its messages, someone who can explain why they’ve done what they’ve done. So, what to explain first, why they’re doing it or what they’re doing. Well by the time you read this you should know damn well what they’ve done (or something’s gone terribly wrong) so let me tell you why.
Are they religious zealots, are they crazy survivalists? No. The people involved in this are, for the most part, just decent Americans who have been convinced that this is the best way to re-establish the principles our founding fathers had in mind when they told the British to bugger off (scoff, buzz off, lame, game, over). Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. I would say most have never really paid that much attention to politics, not on a national (and certainly not on an international) level. They may have been involved in local issues, but primarily they were just concerned with raising their kids and living decent lives. Some may have voted Democratic, maybe some Greens, but if I had to guess (and I’m basically extrapolating from the small number I have met) I’d wager that the majority belong to that vast majority of Americans, the Americans who don’t vote. I think they’ve been convinced to take part by a group of leaders that I’d characterize as Radical Moderates. They are willing to go to extremes to advance a legislative agenda that emphasizes education, the environment, child care, and basic human welfare (not “welfare” in the traditional meaning of the word, that loaded word, but really caring about the welfare of citizens). The emphasis on what could be perceived as purely domestic issues is deceptive because these are people who, like me, have been moved to action due to international affairs, due to a government that has consistently and systematically moved into international situations foolishly, blindly (perhaps with the right intentions [perhaps{mishaps, I thought we were done, ton, bricks, wicks, candle, to you, handle, shoo!}]), and with disastrous results. They are not isolationists. On the contrary, there is evidence that a large percentage is quite cosmopolitan, quite aware of the larger world. Indeed, it would be safe to say there’s a large number who (also like me) are related through marriage to what whiter people might used to have called “foreigners.” Well, to me, and to many others in this country, there are no foreigners anymore. There are just people.
Max pointed out to me that it was a rather ironic historical coincidence that my Korean-American wife and I landed on Las Piedras Island, which had many Japanese-Americans dislocated, shall we say, post-December 7, 1941. They lost their homes, belongings, dignity and were carted away to enjoy that last Great War (a Just War people pine over) behind fences in the sticks. He pointed out that there must be a few Arab-Americans right now who, while not manacled in Manzanar, are feeling, at least a little uncomfortable (if I can speak euphemistically). What is going on in Guantanamo Bay? Who are these Buffalo Five and the group in Oregon? Will we see a Christalnacht-style Mosque burning next? No, that’s just impossible today. Or is it?
And what about that Asian angle of the Axis of Evil. What’s going to happen in Pyongyang? And if we start the bloodbath in Korea are Korean-Americans going to face the same level of “uncomfortable-ness” as our Arab-American friends. You can be damn sure not every South Korean is going to be tickled about an American government that through its bellicose meddling starts getting Korean (capitalist or communist, who cares?) sons and daughters killed.
For a guy whose son (and the woman he deeply loves) looks a tad (and unmistakably) Korean, I must say I don’t like the way American foreign policy is trending. How long before federal agents come knocking on the door to talk to Soo? Or Soo’s parents, aunts, uncles…
So, what’s the answer? Pull back troops, reduce military spending, and crawl into our shell like a fat happy snappy turtle suddenly done nipping at everyone he sees as a threat? No, that’s not the idea. That didn’t work after WWI, and it won’t work now, especially in a world where any group of fruitcakes with cash and time on their hands can blow up a bus or a plane or a ferry full of Americans (shenanigans, ramekins, cooking, looking, for trouble, in the rubble).
And, there you have it. The distraction. One of them. Don’t worry, we’re not really going to blow up the ferry. Violence only begets more violence. We’re Extreme Pacifists. Pacifists have always lost because at the end of the day they don’t want to fight. A defining principle of most martial arts (and good old mutually assured destruction, if we could get nostalgic about the Cold War for a moment) is being strong enough to not have to fight, to be able to defend yourself without striking a blow, to use your opponents energy against himself. And that is what we have in mind. Use American tools of war to lobby for peace (piece, pie, try, you’ll find, another kind, peace of mind, money in bank, gas in tank, getting tanked, parents thanked, respect elders, union of welders, inner peace, no police, a new lease, life, wife, missing link, time to think, a drink, work, shirk, smirk).
It’s cheaper and more efficient than paying off all the Democrats and Republicans in power (besides, most of them are already bought). There isn’t the time to organize on a grass-roots level and go through the traditional democratic process, especially since that process has been grossly corrupted (erupted, interrupted, Florida, no duh). It made sense for several thousand or even several hundred thousand people to go out and decide what brought the greatest good for the greatest number (slumber, dumb and dumber, selfishness, elfishness, Santa, claws, grant a, few flaws, democracy, not all it can be). But when hundreds of millions of people are getting force-fed information through a shrinking media market that manipulates them, demeans their intelligence, and purposely attempts to diminish their knowledge of facts and issues, then, forgive me, but the process is fucked up beyond all recognition (admonition, act of contrition).
When smart people recognize their vote is meaningless, and when crooks and cheats prove it to them, then it’s time to take matters into your own hands, your own arms, as Tommy Jeff might have said. Why were they (those oft-lauded founding fathers) so adamant about giving us the right to bear arms? So we could get loaded and shoot cans off rocks, so we could kill those evil deer (ahem, mayhem) or was it so we’d have some spectacular Made for TV specials, ie Ruby Ridge, Waco and the Branch Davidians, 44 Minutes in North Hollywood, or whatever other crazy whack job sniper-fest comes next. No, NO, NO! for fuck’s sake, NO! We were given the right to bear arms so we could quickly form a militia that would protect the populace from an aggressive invading army OR an oppressive native government gone awry (good try, by and by, Alki, alibi, good-bye). It’s the last check in an elaborate series of checks and balances drawn up by a group of paranoid men tired of getting their pockets picked clean so a crazy man named George could fund foreign wars. Does this sound at all familiar to anyone? Did anyone else watch with Shock and Awe as their tax dollars were dropped willy-nilly on Baghdad Bazaars?
Violence begets violence. Every nephew of every “accidental” death, every cousin of anyone affected by “collateral damage,” every proud, independent citizen of the world who has seen his village or country damaged in any way by an arrogant, righteous steamroller of a superpower is a potential convert to an army committed to killing Americans. Violence begets violence.
It’s like an addiction. And once we start, once we as a people, as a nation, get hooked on this bloodlust we’re not going to be satisfied until that last gory binge (syringe, singe, fringe, element, development, arrested, attested, signed and sealed, maligned yet healed). The only hope is to stop and just take it day by day. Sometimes, it’s hard to stop, though. So, think of this as an intervention, a nuclear intervention courtesy of the Washington State Ferries, the U.S. Coast Guard, one Navy warship, and a nuclear attack submarine spirited out of Subase Bangor.
Will it work? I don’t know. All I know is I have to tell people about it. Even if it doesn’t work, I just need to contact the right people and give them the right information, and if they have the courage, if they have the integrity and the wisdom to use their skills and fight to print what they know is right then maybe, just maybe we can put a stop to this crazy landslide of violence and stupidity (serendipity, don’t get uppity, needed pity, not really, you need Sealy, posturepedic, orthopedic, bone man, biggest fan, erudite, better be right).
OK, how? How do you think you’re going to pull this off? What have you seen that could possibly make you believe what they’ve told you could come true? Good question.
During those four meetings with Max I was introduced to a variety of individuals, let’s call them the Product Managers (integers, prickly burrs, stuck to fur, fucked fer sure, pessimist, realist, people, steeple, not again, you win). They each looked me in the eyes, shook my hand, and spoke to me honestly about their belief in the feasibility of their specific product launch and by extension the overall project. These were not crazy men. These were intelligent, well-spoken, educated men who reassured me with their calm, their attention to detail, and their knowledge of historical precedence for such action (faction, traction, pull, wool, eyes, surprise). We (thee, they, us, betray, truss, herniated, disk, permeated, risk, Americans, beer in cans) casually put aside the fact that our nation was fighting a Civil War less than 140 years ago. That is a drop in the bucket, a blip on the World History Timeline. Everyone likes to think that war was about freeing the slaves, and that’s all well and good, but don’t forget there was a little matter of a few states that didn’t want to play anymore. It kind of diminishes the cachet of the United States of America when you have to kill a bunch of Americans to keep it United.
Secession is an ugly word, it reeks of quitting, and no one likes a quitter (I’m not quitting, Soo). And who knows if it will come to that. I’m not privy to all the international intrigue going on, they never tell the PR guy everything. You can’t communicate what you don’t know and rationalizing all facts whilst still being able to keep a straight face is a role for an actor of Marlin’s caliber (Marlon?, Fitzwater not Brando, solder that and go). The information I need will get relayed to me once I’ve set up my operation, and once I have the ear of prominent journalists that recognize the gravity of this situation. Let’s just say our military isn’t as parochial as we think it is. All these international operations have put senior military officers in close contact with other senior military officers from “foreign” powers who may not agree with their political leaders and who may also NOT agree with American political leaders. Not every military man is dying to die, not for a clown who never served and plays Rambo with their toys (boys, will be, noise, you’ll see).
So, I dash off and the Las Piedras Island ferry is clogged with police, bomb squads, and countless other first response units, trying to make sense of a stupid note and a stupid-er “bomb.” Similar actions are planned for the Seattle/Bremerton, Edmonds/Kingston, Mukilteo/Clinton, Fountleroy/Vashon, and the Anacortes/San Juan Islands ferries. The Washington State Police and the US Coast Guard are going to be very busy tomorrow (borrow, sorrow, grief, relief).
I’ve been assured there’s a backup press secretary on board, in case, for whatever reason, I don’t work out (I’m not sure if I’m the second string poet or vice versa [verse wiser, Budweiser]). If I don’t make it, or if something unforeseen happens, they have some other guy (or girl, I don’t know) who has been briefed on all this and who must be preparing in much the same way I am now (how, sow, sow, low, grow, oh I think you know).
Anyway, while all this chaos is going on on the local ferries, the cruise ship headed for the Inside Passage trip to Ketchikan, Alaska, is hijacked by its crew. News of this is to be radio-ed by said crew directly to the Coast Guard via open channels. The Coast Guard vessel destined to respond to this emergency is also under friendly control. Together both vessels depart the Strait of Juan de Fuca into the open waters of the Pacific Ocean.
At which point this becomes a very big deal. The Coast Guard vessel does not respond to any radio or visual contact. We predict there will quickly be helicopters (both Coast Guard and possibly press, depending on how industrious they are). We don’t want the Coast Guard vessel to do or say anything (ring, free, dumb, sea, plumb).
This will get escalated to the US Navy. This is where I’m out of the loop. I’m not sure how they are going to do this to tell the truth, they haven’t been too forthcoming with the names and ranks of the people who are going to be pulling the strings, but it doesn’t take a paranoid conspiracy theorist to figure out this goes pretty high up the chain of command (demand, reprimand, understand, position, volition). There are a few Navy warships that could be sent to respond to such an action, and they’re all out of Bremerton. They won’t officially send a sub, but there will be such a coordinated state of confusion that people won’t question the quick dispatch of a sub, and if everyone (or at least enough) aboard that sub is on board this operation, then, well then, I think you can see how, in a very short amount of time, the proverbial shit is going to be hitting the fan.
How will the world react to the news that an armada consisting of a Coast Guard cruiser, a US Navy warship, and a nuclear armed submarine are floating off the Pacific coast keeping watch over a few thousand vacationing civilians who were off to see glaciers calving and are now seeing the glacial pace of history suddenly accelerate in one giant splash before their very eyes (size, large, in charge, unknown, seeds sown, have grown, unbeknownst to, who phones you, leader, greeter, big eater, cruise king, boozing, bruising, disabusing).
What is Bush/Cheney going to do? Call in air strikes on his own Navy? For what? Just to stay in power. All we have to do is ask for his resignation, an abdication, if you will (“Bush II Gives Up The Throne”), or, at the very least a new election, and is the American public going to vote for the guys that squandered all our money pissing off people who are willing to die to kill us and our allies – AND couldn’t even retain the faith of their paid henchmen (in the trench men, paid, waylaid, employed, destroyed, fighting the good fight, righting a bad write, go on, anon).
No. Especially not after they hear what’s driving this action – a simple return to the principles of our founding fathers. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. It’s hard to pursue happiness when your country, the military your taxes are funding is off shooting people at the direction of your president, creating new enemies who will stop at nothing for revenge (avenge, more death, wasted breath, possibly, plausibly, deniability, inability, forestalled, a world enthralled, by those willing, for more killing). Violence begets violence, but pacifism doesn’t always beget peace.
I’m sorry, Soo, if this doesn’t make sense to you. I’m sorry if anyone gets hurt. I think it’s best for us, it’s best for the country, and it just feels right. I think of all of the omens, all the little things (and big things) that have gone into this decision and I just can’t help believing it’s going to work.
As Max said to the group at the last meeting: “It’s not every day that we are needed. Not indeed that we personally are needed. But at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us represent worthily for once the foul brood to which a cruel fate consigned us.”
I walked up to him afterwards when he was alone and told him that little speech of his sounded familiar.
He just laughed and said, “Beckett.”
“Beckett?!” I said. “Samuel Beckett?!” and we laughed together.
“Who are you?” I asked him still in puzzled bafflement.
“Who am I?” he asked back, “I’m you, I’m me, I’m us, I’m them. I’m everyone. I’m the voice in the back of your head that’s saying something’s not right, something needs to be done, and either you have to figure out a way to do it or figure out a way to make that voice go away because it won’t stop. It will keep coming back in one form or another. So you can either get used to it or sac up and do the right thing.”
He said this all to me quietly, urgently, looking directly into my eyes, and I got goosebumps up and down my spine (fine, world, end, twirled, friend).
I’m sorry, Soo. I have to do this. I believe I will see you again, and I can only hope you will want to see me.

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