Orange Dawn - Chapter 10

John Clark Smith
I stared at Aphra. “What do you mean?”
“He told me,” she said in a casual manner. “Could we go back now? I’m hungry.”
“Glen told you he was going up there to stop the orange?” I asked.
She nodded. “He told me not to say anything until Tosh comes.”
“Wait, you knew Tosh was coming?” Tosh and I looked at each other.
“Uh-huh. Glen planned it all. Without him, we would never have escaped.”
“Do you know how he got up there?” Tosh asked.
She started to walk. “Come on. I’ll explain on the way. I want to get home and eat.”
Tosh preferred to take a longer but less strenuous route back along the ridge. It sloped toward a path that led directly down to the hut. It would have been difficult to climb, but it was far less exhausting to hike down, because he could hang on to branches. Unfortunately, it was difficult to observe Harding through the tall, thick firs.
“I was the lookout while Glen installed the mechanism in the pole and wired it up,” Aphra said proudly. “There was a bracket attached to the mechanism. It slid up and down along the split he cut up the pole. The platform fit on to the bracket.”
“But why go to so much trouble?” I asked. “Why not talk from one of the balconies?”
“He wanted to get everyone’s attention,” she said, as if it was obvious. “And it worked.”
As we walked back, we took Peirce off leash. At first, he ran around us in a circle, as if chasing his tail in a burst of wild energy. After a couple of minutes, he suddenly stopped and crouched low, pointing straight ahead. Sitting in a flowering dogwood ahead was a grey fox. No doubt, it was seeking its red berries. But when a ruffed grouse appeared on the ground nearby, the fox sprang down from the branch. The grouse rushed into the brush with the fox chasing after it, and Peirce not far behind. I could hear Peirce’s barks for a while. Then they stopped. A minute later he was bounding back to us, his fun ended.
“You’re right, Aphra, it did,” I said. “What a sight it must have been! 
“It was dramatic, all right. He wore jeans in this long black coat and sunglasses,” Tosh continued, “and an orange shirt. The scene seemed almost supernatural, as if he was floating in an orange cloud. Shortly after he reached the top, hundreds of sheets filled the air like propaganda flyers dropped from fighter planes. He waited for people to grab the papers. Then he began to speak.
“At the same time police and soldiers were gathering in a corner of the square and appeared as confused as the citizens. If they had suspected Glen, they would have imprisoned him before that day. They had the power under the emergency laws.”
Tosh stopped for a moment, leaning up against one of the fir trees, and unfolded a sheet he had stuffed in his pocket.
“I have one here. ‘Weeks ago, you heard a voice calling out to you from the rooftop. It promised that it had the answer if you had courage. But you were afraid. You preferred to listen to others, those who called the man a threat. You believed they could solve the mystery of the orange. But has anything changed? Who can affect the orange? You! Only you.’”
Aphra was walking ahead of us mumbling the same words to herself. When we caught up to her, she quickly stopped, her face turning red.
“You know this speech?” Tosh asked.
“No…I…”
“We heard you,” I said. 
She turned away, squatting to tighten shoelaces that didn’t need tightening.
“He wanted me to remember it.”
I exchanged a glance with Tosh. “Tosh saw a Queen snake.”
Aphra shook her head. “It might have been an eastern garter snake. I’ve seen them on the slopes.”
“Oh, you’re right,” Tosh said. “I confuse them.”
We resumed our walk through the heavily wooded section. Aphra walked ahead, holding Peirce by his leash. Occasionally she kicked some leaves or threw a rock.
“Has Glen ever seen a massasauga rattlesnake?” I called out to her.
“No. He thinks they’re gone from our area.”
When we reached an open area, Tosh sat down and asked Aphra if she would like to continue the speech from memory or if he should continue reading. 
“No, you go ahead.”
“‘Listen carefully,” he read aloud. 
“‘Each of us must no longer work to keep the old businesses and institutions of this city alive. They haven’t helped us to change and grow and create. You know what I mean! You know what has become boring to you, what no longer fulfills you. Money, ego, reputation.
“‘You’re more than a bunch of institutions, You’re in a community with all living things.
“‘Let the oil pumps be our reminder. They have drained the resources and caused pollution and corruption. Like them, our institutions too must stop and rust away. Let us maintain only what is essential for the development of our bodies, minds, hearts and spirits. At the same time let us not harm any living thing!’
“Glen stopped speaking for a minute. I think he was preparing for the important sentences to come.
“‘Every day that we do these things, the orange will diminish. Go home. Ignore the demands to build Ben Jr.’s airport, his conference center, his next chemical factory. Do what is essential.’”
Tosh paused, looked up at the sky and struggled to his feet.
“We need to move on, or it’ll get too dark.”
We were also hungry and thirsty. 
“If we’re lucky, we’ll see a white-tail.” Aphra said. “Glen and I saw a fawn alone last summer at about this time.”
“Or…?” I teased. “Your favorite mammal? What did we see a few weeks ago?”
A big smile came on Aphra’s face. “The snowshoe!” she said. “I love their hind feet and ears.”
“Rabbits?” Tosh scoffed.
“They’re not rabbits,” Aphra said. “Snowshoe’s a hare.”
We had entered the densest section of the woods, close to the path that would take us down to the hut. Alone, I would have become lost, but Aphra knew the way by the different trees that served as markers. We quietly followed Aphra as she looked for snowshoes.
“They tend to stick in the same neighborhood,” she whispered. “It was right around here.”
We stopped and squatted, hidden behind branches.
“Look,” Aphra said. “I don’t believe it,” 
Deep into the forest a bull elk was feeding on some low-lying foliage.
“Look at the size of those antlers,” Tosh said in awe.
“What a beautiful animal,” I said.
“Oh well, no snowshoe, but an elk,” Aphra said, standing up, the elk darting away. “Let’s go. I’m starving.”
Tosh grabbed on to Aphra’s arm and together they navigated down through the great pines. I followed close behind, taking care to avoid the exposed roots of trees, and dead materials from the trees. 
“So, Tosh,” I said. “What happened?”
“The Guard were forming a wide semicircle around the crowd,” he said, his voice echoing through the forest. “Glen reached into the inner pocket of this coat. Some woman screamed: ‘It’s a bomb! He's got a bomb!’
“Panic ensued. People tried to escape the square, but there was no space to move without shoving and trampling someone. 
“‘I have no bomb,’ Glen shouted, showing the crowd that the object was in fact only a mirror. They began to calm themselves.
“An officer aimed the megaphone up at him: ‘Come down now!’ 
“When Glen made no sign of moving, someone began shooting. The statue, very close to Glen, was hit. Glen somehow crouched down behind it. 
“At first I thought the shooter might be some irate citizen, frustrated by the orange. But soon it was revealed that a policeman was the culprit. His fellow officers dragged him away as he shouted, ‘Enemy of the people!’
“The Guards in riot gear created a column and began to shove their way into the crowd toward the pole, pushing people aside.
“They began broadcasting by megaphone:
“‘Everyone please clear the square. We will create a corridor. Please leave in an orderly fashion. Clear the square.’
“Normally we would never have ignored the advice of the police, but our minds were in a different state. 
“Inspired by Glen’s words, some of us began arguing with the police.
“All eyes were on the lonely figure shielding himself by the statue. He hadn’t spoken since the shots were fired.
“‘Don't be concerned about me,’ he called out finally. ‘Think of your lives. There is more to come. It will get worse, not better.
“‘What happens depends upon whether we change. Don’t listen to anyone who obstructs you. Listen to your own inner heart. Retake the world, renew your spirits, turn and march forward to new lives.’
Tosh shook his head. “Many probably thought, Oh no, another crazy Harding. How could we stop working for the institutions we had been supporting all our lives? Regardless what some thought of Ben Jr.’s administration, how could we manage without it? 
“‘Why are you standing there staring?’ Glen cried. ‘Leave the square, go home, and do nothing. Contemplate! Meditate! When the time comes, you’ll know what to do. You’ll know that I speak the truth.’
“Ironically, the officials were saying the same thing: ‘Leave the square, leave the square.’ Quickly the order was given to change the message. The megaphones now proclaimed, ‘Leave the square and return to work. Leave the square and return to work.’
“A group of people, including Paul, Melinda and Abe, found their way to the balcony and began shouting out, ‘Go home, do nothing! Go home, do nothing!’
“I made my way to the corner near the café. I wanted to be as close as possible when Glen came down the pole. If he was arrested, I wanted to know where they would take him.
“When groups began to leave the square, soldiers were sent off ahead to set up blockades on the residential streets. With the armed Guard preventing them from heading home, people had no choice but to return to work.
“Glen slowly began to descend on his platform. When he reached the bottom, the Guard and the police were waiting for him. He was searched. They found nothing except for the oval mirror. At the same time, the police had apprehended Paul, Abe and Melinda and their supporters on the balcony. All of them were arrested for defying the emergency laws. I followed the police to discover where they took Glen.”

[To be continued ...]

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