Authors: Ros Baxter
These people were mourning Wayne.
Wayne, who gave his life to making rich people — and himself — richer. Wayne, who thought Doctors Without Borders was a pornographic film. Until I explained it to him.
I wanted to rail and scream at them. But I couldn’t. Not because I was worried about hurting their feelings, but because, if I did, my own wellspring of loss and aching might bubble over and drown me. So I told them about the arrest.
Only in my family would discussing arrests be considered cheerful.
‘Well, you know about the big case they’re hearing down at the Supreme Court? The death penalty thing…’
I told them about how carefully we’d organized it. About how we’d arranged camera crews to be there and how the plan had been to break in to the holding area and deliver care parcels of all-American treats to the plaintiffs who’d come up from down South.
Brownies and pecan pie and stuff.
At this, my Mom gasped. ‘Good God, I hope you didn’t bake them. Poor souls don’t need to be poisoned as
well, they’ve got enough on their plates.’
I gritted my teeth. ‘That’s hardly the moral of the story.’
Mom took a breath, and I talked quickly to avoid the ritual re-telling of the Thanksgiving Turkey Story. ‘Look, someone else made them, okay? Home science major.’
Dad started to look more interested.
‘Yeah? So what happened to the goodies after the cops came and interrupted the action?’
I smacked myself in the forehead.
‘Dad. Really. It’s hardly the —’
‘Cops probably confiscated them. They’re probably all sitting somewhere now with their snouts in the trough of our daughter’s imagination and
labor —’ Mom was building to a crescendo and had to be stopped.
‘Look, I don’t know where they are now. But, again, it’s hardly the point. Even if they did confiscate them, just imagine the headlines: ‘Cops Eat Dying Men’s Last Supper’.
Et cetera. You want to hear what happened or not?’
They both nodded contritely. ‘Anyway, so we were scaling the fence —’
My mother’s head whipped around at this. ‘In that?’ she queried with her eyebrows knitted together in horror.
‘Huh?’ My brain hurt, as it often did trying to keep up with her.
‘You scaled a razor wire fence in that?’ She motioned to Monica’s dress. It truly was a beautiful thing, made of some gossamer material, like some springtime spider had spun the world’s most beautiful web.
I stroked the beautiful thing covetously, imagining for a moment I was the kind of girl who wore things like this.
‘Ahhhh…yeah. Well, not exactly, I was having a pretty hard time getting over. Then the cops arrived. But no-one made it over, actually. Some of the guys were almost at the top, the ones with the food baskets. A matter of seconds and we would have been over.’
Mom looked down at Monica’s beautiful dress and a dark cloud of consternation descended on her handsome features. ‘Not you, my darling girl. You would not have been over the top in that. What are you doing in it, anyway? The movement was supposed to have liberated women from torturing themselves for men’s ideas about female beauty.’
Oh God, no. Please not this sermon.
Dad patted my leg quickly and shot Mom a look.
‘A fantastic action, sweetheart. You always had a great imagination, even when you were doing that stuff at school.’ He turned to Mom. ‘Darling, we should —’
‘Mm.’ Mom picked up her bag.
‘Okay, darling. Well, call us when you get released and we’ll come down and pick you up. Oh, and I almost forgot,’ Mom gathered up her things, ‘Aunty Vera sends her love. She’s in Paris with what’s-his-name.’
We always call Vera’s boyfriends what’s-his-name. Not because we didn’t know their names, but because they’re generally so short-lived we all decided long ago there’s no point wasting emotional energy on them. Names just get you attached.
But Mom hadn’t finished. ‘I rang her as soon as you called, of course. I knew she’d want to know. Be so proud of you. She said viva le revolution. Must be the Parisian air going to her head.’ I laughed and Mom clucked in disapproval and turned to go, pushing Dad in front of her. ‘Oh, dear, just one other thing. We called Wayne to let him know where you were. Love you. Bye.’
I’d never seen her move so fast.
She didn’t even hear me as my stunned lips croaked out, ‘You did what?’
Like the predictable entry of a villain in a Disney film, there was a knock on the door.
I was on the attack before I wrenched it open.