Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Travels of Jack Pynesapp - Book 2 Chapter 10: Marge and Jack

This is 43 in a series of blogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]

Travels of Jack Pynesapp



Book 2: Red and Jimmy 


Chapter 10 Marge and Jack (should this be a separate 'book')

It's been a few months since I've given this story any thought -- you know, winter and all (no biking in the snow). So some review is needed to get me back to the story:

Jimmy and Red are taking Arthur back with them to their dimension (or that's the plan, anyway). Jack and Marge ran off without much explanation (very unlike Jack). They seem to be consorting with the 'enemy' -- according to Arthur. Are they deluded? Have they been brain washed? Is this part of some grander scheme? What does Billy have to do with all this. After all, he was the first to ride the train -- along with JJ (or was it Jack? I'll have to go back and look that up) -- and the one who discovered the ... well, we'll get to that. 


"They'll be fine. " Jack gave Marge's hand a squeeze as they got off the bus. 

"But Arthur is on that train with them and you know how he..."

"They'll be fine." Jack interrupted. "Don't worry. Those kids are more than a match for Arthur." 

"I hope so. I think you underestimate him. "

They were in a suburb of LA. This was a commercial/residential neighborhood. There were palm trees lining the streets and lush greenery of all sizes, shapes, and colors filling in between the cobblestone walkways. This was not a slum.

Marge and Jack turned up one of these walkways towards a low single story bungalow with tan adobe walls and a red tile roof.  They climbed the steps to a veranda and walked across to the front door. A small sign hung over the mailbox with the words "Cal-Trans" etched in bronze.  Jack swiped his ID in the strip next to the keypad and the door latch clicked. They opened the door and walked inside.

They were in a brightly lit - skylights mostly - foyer that was filled with more beautiful greenery and not much else. To the right there was a wooden archway that opened to a large room with a heavy wooden table in the middle and surrounded by heavy wooden chairs. This looked like either a meeting room or a lunch room (or both).

(Why am I spending so much time on this descriptive stuff --  I never pay much attention to scene settings?  Well, it's fun and I haven't come up with more plot, yet. So shut up.)

"Well, it's about time you get here." Bill appeared from between two philodendrons. "Did you get it.?"

"Yes, Red and James are fine and they made the trip safely. Thank you for asking."  Marge said.

"Good." Bill snapped; ignoring the sarcasm. (Actually Bill may be, by nature, immune to sarcasm.) "Give it to me."

"I think we'll just hold on to it for now."; Jack said.

"Whatever. Then you can take care of the bills yourselves." Bill turned on his heal and walked back towards the philodendrons. "Come into my office. I want to show you something."

They followed him through the philodendrons and down a short hallway which had five doors leading off of it: two to the right and left and one at the end of the hallway. These side doors led to what once were bedrooms -- now converted to offices -- and the end door was a bathroom.  All the doors were open and they all entered Bill's office through the first door on the right.

(okay -- ideas are coming here....)

Bill's office was rather stark in contrast to the rest of the house. No plants or pictures of plants. Just bookcases on three of the walls and a large window with no curtains (only blinds which were half open and only giving a hint of the lush garden that thrived outside.)  Bill walked in and sat behind desk that was covered with stacks of paper and open books all in an apparent random jumble.

"Just throw those books on the floor." Bill motioned to the two plain chairs located in front of the bookcase to his right. Jack and Marge did that and sat down.

"Okay, what's so important. " Jack said.

Bill leaned back in his chair and put his fingers together in front of his chin in a triangle. He smiled and began; "I think our studies on the physiological effects of riding these trains may have come up with some interesting results."

"I should hope so." Jack said. "For how much they're costing."

"Yes, well.. " Bill continued. "I'm not sure our employers will feel their money was well spent."

"That's okay with us." Bill said softly to Marge.  And then to Bill "So what've you got?"

"You know we were comparing the train engineers and crew to other members of their families -- like siblings  and parents and such -- to see if there were any changes in their bodies that we could detect. You know, that could possibly be attributable to their jobs on the train. Their prolonged exposure to these gravity waves. "

"Yeah we know all that. We're trying to find some reason to shut these trains down. So what did you find out?"

"Well, I'll spare you the technical details but the results conclusively show that while these folks are on the train their body's aging process stops completely."

"You're kidding."

"No. It's true. It looks like we've inadvertently discovered the fountain of youth -- so to speak."

"No, not exactly."; A man said as he entered  Bill's office.

"Hey George." Bill said, " I didn't know you were in today.You know Marge and Jack."

"No.  I've heard about them but we've never met."

Bill said; "Well, then it's about time. George here is Executive Vice President of our little company here.  I think that's your title, isn't it George?"

"That's right."

"Marge and Jack are consultants for us."

George smiled; "Yes, I know what their function is here. I write the checks, you know." He extended his hand to Marge ."Nice to finally meet you two in person."

Marge smiled. Jack stood and shook his hand as well.

"So, Bill. How sure are you of these results?"

"You've seen my report?"

"Yes."

"The results speak for themselves. Do they not? We monitored 10 individual members or our crews as well as members of their immediate families; siblings, parents, children. We even had two sets of twins in the test group. In every case the crew members showed significant -- in some cases complete -- cessation of their aging processes. This was very dramatic and there is virtually no chance of experimental error."

"Is this all you found?" George asked. "I mean, we were testing for a shit load of parameters, right? You're report doesn't mention any of them."

"That's because they were all pretty much negative; no significant differences. And remember; this report is only preliminary. I wanted to get this in formation on the table as quickly as possible.

"I appreciate that, Bill." George said. "This is very interesting indeed."

"It sounds like you're going to have some trouble getting people to stop riding now." Marge laughed.

"If this gets out, at least." Jack said softly.

"Why wouldn't it get out?" Bill asked. "This is block-buster news. It HAS to get out. Just think of the ramifications."

George walked to the window and looked out into -- well, nothing actually. He was deep in thought.

"Are you absolutely sure of these results?" Marge asked.

"As sure as I can be."

"How many people know about this?" George asked; still facing the window.

Bill thought for a minute and said. "Well, there's Angie and Marcus -- our lab techs. And there's ..."

"Just numbers, " George interrupted "I don't care about names right now, okay."

"Okay, there's the four of us. Right?" George counted on his fingers. "Our research staff has seen seen the data, of course (they collected it.) That adds twelve. But they've only seen the raw data. Not the results. I ran the analysis and I'm the only one who has actually seen the results. Except for the four of us, of course."

"Good." George turned and faced the room. "Let's keep it that way just for now, okay?"

"But.." Bill said.

"Just for now." George repeated. "Until we have some time to think about this."

Marge looked at Jack and they both looked at Bill.

George added, "This isn't a request, it's an order. " He smiled, "Like you said, Bill, the four of us are the only ones who know about this. So if there is a leak, it won't be hard to figure out where it came from. And like I said, we just need to keep this quite for now. So I need each of you to give me your word that you won't disclose this." He looked at each person and they each gave their word in turn.

"Good."






Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Travels of Jack Pynesapp - Book 2 Chapter 9: Red and Jimmy

This is 42 in a series of blogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]

Travels of Jack Pynesapp



Book 2: Red and Jimmy



Chapter 9

"I can't believe you agree to take him back with us?" Jimmy demanded when they got back to their seats.  Jimmy was trying to whisper but he could hardly contain his anger and dismay. 

"Shh, he'll hear you." Red whispered quietly; grasping Jimmy's hand and giving him a 'calm down' look.  "I kinda like Arthur. And I believe he's sincere." 

"He's playing us. You know that, don't you?" Jimmy whispered (softly this time.)

"Maybe. But I don't think so. I have a feeling about him." 

"You and your 'feelings'." Jimmy squeezed her hand and then pulled his hand away. 

"They've never been wrong." Red said smugly. 

"Not yet ..." Jimmy said as he pulled out his ear buds and settled back in his seat.

Red leaned over close to Jimmy's ear and said, "Besides, you want to know more about this world don't you? And this gravity drive..."

Jimmy nodded.

"Well, what better way than to buddy up with its' inventor?"

"If he was the inventor." Jimmy said under his breath.

"What?"

"Nothing." He put in his ear buds and pressed 'play'.

Red put her feet up and closed her eyes. The train fell quietly through the night. She didn't sleep. She kept re-living the last minutes of their meeting with her grand-parents. She saw, in her mind, as they walked -- no, almost ran --  out of the restaurant. Why did her grandparents have to leave so quickly?  Where were they going? Why did they insist that She and Jimmy be on the next train out? What was so important? Her Grandma had said; "Remember, we love you and be careful." And she said; "Call us." But we've tried, she thought, we've tried over and over but no one answers. That's the part that bothers her the most. And the port; that's the most worthless thing yet.  Grandma had said; "Introduce yourselves to your ports and ask them whatever you want to know." But it won't tell me anything I want to know.

No, Red didn't sleep. She looked over at Jimmy and he was fast asleep. She unplugged his earbuds and lay back and closed her eyes again.



--------------------




Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Travels of Jack Pynesapp - Book 2 Chapter 8: Red and Jimmy

This is 41 in a series of blogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]

Travels of Jack Pynesapp



Book 2: Red and Jimmy

Chapter 8

Arthur faced Red and smiled; "Concert cancelled?" 

Red smiled and shrugged; "Oh, you know. Show biz..."

"Yes, I know 'show' when I see it."

"I guess you do." Red smiled. 

"I could use a cup of coffee. If you two would like to join me in the lounge? I'll buy." 

Jimmy leaned over red and said; "We tried that once, remember? I think we'll pass." And he sat back in his seat. 
.
Arthur smiled at Jimmy; "Okay, suit yourselves." He looked at Red; " I just thought you might like to know why your Grandparents had to rush off." 

-----------------------

The Observation car was nearly empty. Four people playing cards at a table towards the rear of the car when Arthur, Red and Jimmy settled in a booth towards the front. The Waitress asked if they wanted anything and Arthur ordered a Decaf. "What would you two like? My treat."

"Just water for me." Red said.

"Decaf is fine." Jimmy said.

"So, let's cut the crap, Okay" Arthur began after the Waitress walked away.

"Good idea, " Red said, "you were going to tell us about or Grandparents."

"In a minute..." Arthur started.

"Okay, let's go." Jimmy said to Red as he started to stand up to leave. "We've been here before."

"Just wait a minute." Arthur protested. "I'll get to that soon enough. What's your hurry anyway? We have a couple hours to kill and I just want to explain a few things."

"Okay, but make it quick." Jimmy sat back down. The waitress brought their drinks and left again.

Arthur sipped his coffee and began again; "First of all, I know where you two are really from and I know that you are not musicians."

"I suppose Billy told you all about that." Red said.

"Ah, you mean William. Yes, he has been a great resource to us since he joined our company. "

"I'll bet."

"But you see, although William does know how to get here and how to get back, he is not the brightest bulb." Arthur smiled at his joke and continued; "He is content to be ignorant as to the mechanism behind what he does."

"But you think we know more than Billy?" Jimmy asked.

"Well you see, I haven't figured that out yet. It doesn't seem to be the case; by what I've seen so far, but that's why I want to talk to you."

"You expect us to tell you anything when you won't be honest with us?" Jimmy asked.

"I have been perfectly honest with you." Arthur protested.

"Hah" Jimmy sneered.

"What do you know about my Grandparents? " Red interrupted.  "And why are you interested in them?"

"I'll answer the second question first. When William first came to us we had no idea
 what he had done was even possible."

Jimmy interrupted; "When you say 'we', who are you talking about? Who, or what, are 'we'?"

"As I told you before, I have an engineering consulting company and one of our customers is the railroad. The railroad is our main customer, actually. So naturally they are - we are - interested in anything that involves their rail system.  They have an exclusive license to the patent on the technology that moves these trains (a patent that my company holds, incidentally) so you can see why we're interested in any other possible applications."

"Like some sort of dimensional portal?" Jimmy said.

"Jimmy!" Red gave Jimmy her best 'shut up' look.

"Yes, that would certainly be interesting." Arthur smiled. "Don't worry Red. Like I said, we know where you are from."

"Well, since you already know everything, why are we sitting here talking?" Jimmy asked.

"Grandpa Jack." Red suggested.

"That's right, Red. Your Grandparents seem to have some information that we would dearly like to have."

"Why don't you ask them, then." Jimmy sneered, "Why bother with us."

"Maybe he already has." Red suggested.

"Yes," Arthur smiled. "we have talked."

"And..." Jimmy asked.

Arthur sighed; "Let's just say; they haven't been very forthright."

"You said you'd tell us where they are." Red insisted. "I think it's time for you to tell us."

"l said I'd tell you why they had to leave. Honestly,  I don't know where they are now."

"Jimmy's right, we've waited long enough." Red pulled Jimmy's hand and stood up to leave.

"Your Grandparents have gotten involved with some shady characters here in LA." Arthur said. "These folks have been actively resisting the use the Gravity Drive system we use to power our trains since it's introduction 20 years ago."

"Why?" Jimmy asked.

"They maintain that it's due to fears about it's safety and they site studies that reportedly show that it has long-term adverse effects on the health of the train's passengers."

"Does it?" Jimmy asked.

"We have done extensive research of our own and found no adverse side effects to any living subject either inside the train or in the area surrounding the tracks." Arthur assured. "We have also studied their results and found them to be.." Arthur sighed; "Well, let me just say that we've found their research to be  extremely 'suspect'."

"I can see their point, though." Red smiled. "Transporting people from one dimension to another is a pretty major  'side effect', wouldn't you say?"

"You could say that, yes. And we believe that's why your grandparents are working with these folks. This organization can be very convincing -- and they are  very well financed. "

"And you're not?" Jimmy said sarcastically.

"No, not really." Arthur protested; "Not compared to these guys. They pretty much own all the media outlets in this country as well as most of the government. "

"But you must be pretty rich, I mean, you own this great technology that seems to power the whole transportation industry. That must bring in tons of money in licensing alone."

"We believe in keeping the price of transportation down so we barely charge anything for licensing and only charge a small rate for our support services. Which leaves next to nothing to pay for lobbying the government or media promotion."

"Assuming what you say is true -- and I'm not sure I can assume that -- what is it that you think we can do?"

"I assume you're on your way home right now. Correct?"

"By home, you mean back to our dimension." Jimmy said.

"Yes."

"Yes, we're heading home."  Red agreed.

"Then all that I ask is that you take me with you." Arthur looked at Red and then at Jimmy.

Red and Jimmy looked at each other. A minute passed as the train fell through the night.



Monday, April 24, 2017

The Travels of Jack Pynesapp - Book 2 Chapter 7: Red and Jimmy

This is 40 in a series of lblogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]

Travels of Jack Pynesapp

Book 2: Red and Jimmy

Chapter 7;
A soft female voice said; "Please find an empty seat and, while sitting down, activate your ticket. Once your ticket is validated you will be assigned to that seat for the duration of your trip with us. You may then move about the train at your pleasure and your seat will be reserved for your return. Thank you for choosing United Rail and have an enjoyable journey."

Red's phone said; "Your ticket has been accepted to Chicago. You have reserved seat 305-14-2. Thank you."

Red and Jimmy settled in as the train took off. The only sensation of motion was the pressure of their backs against the seats as they accelerated. That, and an almost imperceptible feeling like they were falling.  The conductor was standing by the seat across the isle from them. The lady who was sitting there, asked him about this. He said that some are more sensitive to the sensation than others, and that standing up and turning around a couple times usually helps. He said that it's only a brief sensation, while the train is speeding up, and it will end when the train reaches full speed.  

"A clue." Jimmy whispered to Red. 

"Arthur called it a 'gravity drive' so I guess it makes sense."

They had been watching for Arthur -- and anyone else who looked like they were watching -- as they waited for the train and then boarded. Nobody seemed the least interested in this young couple. Red had commented that this probably just meant that whoever was following them was very good at their job. 

"I still don't know why you think anybody would be interested in us." Jimmy laughed. "You're just being paranoid." 

"Shut up." Red said, "And keep an eye out for anything suspicious." She stood up and turned around like she was having problems with the falling sensation. As she turned she looked at the people in the other seats.  The car was nearly full. People were busy settling in: adjusting their seats, taking out blankets and pillows, taking out various things to read, work with or play with or just looking out the windows. Nobody paid her any attention so she sighed and settled back down next to Jimmy. 

"See anything?"

"No."

"Told ya." Jimmy scoffed.

"Just keep watching." Red scolded.

----------------------------------------------------

The sensation that they were getting heavier was the only way Red and Jimmy could tell they were approaching Albuquerque. This was an express train so Kansas City would be the only other stop before Chicago.

The lady across the isle was gathering up her things and getting up to leave.

Three hours had passed since leaving L.A. Red was getting hungry so she opened the diner app.

"Let's get something to eat." She said to Jimmy. "There are two seats available in the dinning car right now. Should I reserve them?"

"Sounds great." Jimmy agreed.

They were seated at an empty table (so far) and they ordered two cheese burgers and fries.

"No company this time?" Jimmy observed.

"It's kinda late and maybe people don't like eating during take-off. But don't worry, maybe someone will show. "

"I'm not complaining."

Nobody did show up to join them and Red and Jimmy ate in relative silence.

-----------------------

As they approached their seats, Red nudged Jimmy and pointed to the man sitting in the seat across the isle that the lady had vacated. He was looking out the window as they sat down.

"Did you enjoy your dinner?" He asked the window.

Red looked at him and said; "Hello Arthur."





Thursday, April 20, 2017

Nightmares

For all my life, any nightmares I have had have been about threats to me personally. Only lately have they become threats to all life on earth.

The first was the night after Trump was elected president. I dreamed we were on vacation on the west coast when our tour guides had everyone move to designated bomb shelter areas. This was a general alarm that everyone in the area knew about and all the news and the whole internet was covering it. Our country and some foreign power had escalated to a point where the missiles had been launched and we were just waiting for them to arrive. We were all hoping - against hope - that at the last minute someone would come to their senses and abort the missiles and we would be saved. But nobody really believed that and we all knew that this was the end of all life on earth. It was a totally empty and hopeless feeling; complete despair; utterly hopeless; helpless feeling. Then came the rage and then I woke up.

The second came last night. I don't remember much of the background or what led up to the end. It was a battle with some sort of general darkness. Everyone was waiting for this darkness to come and animate us all. It came as a sort of smoke; completely black (even in the night) and it swept over us like a fog. The first wave came many of us found a way to hide from it and we escaped. But another wave was coming and we all knew there was no escaping this time. It was terrifying but we all held out some glimmer of hope that we would survive again somehow and then I woke up.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Travels of Jack Pynesapp - Book 2 Chapter 6: Red and Jimmy

This is 39 in a series of lblogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]

Travels of Jack Pynesapp

Book 2: Red and Jimmy

Chapter 6; 

Okay. Well, that was interesting.  But it didn't answer any questions, did it. I like these 'Port' things. It sounds like they will give us (as well as Red and Jimmy) ALL the answers. Dosen't it? 

"Jack Pynesapp"; Red said out loud in order to 'call' her Grandpa on her new 'Port' phone thing. She wanted to talk to him some more and find out what the heck is going on here.

"Jack Pynesapp is currently unavailable. Please try again later." came the reply from somewhere in her head.

She gave Jimmy a look of exasperation. 

"Busy?" Jimmy asked.

"Unavailable." she said.  "So much for advanced technology.

"Who said it was advanced?" Jimmy said. "It's just different."

"Same shit, different dimension." Red laughed dryly.

"Try Grandma." Jimmy said.

"Marge Pynesapp." Red said. Another look of exasperation. "Same thing."

"Probably talking to each other." Jimmy suggested.

"Why would they be talking to each other on the ports when they're together?"

"You're assuming they are still together."

"Grandpa said we could learn how to use these things by asking questions. How do we ask questions?" Red asked.

Jimmy shrugged and then said; "Port, how do we ask you questions?"

He heard a soft voice say; "What would you like to know?"

"Like that." He said to Red. "It said 'What would you like to know?'"

"Okay," Red sighed, "Port, where is Jack Pynesapp?"

"You are not authorized for that information."

"It said I'm not authorized for that information."  She echoed to Jimmy.

"Port, how do I get authorized for that information."

"This access is controlled by the administrator of your Node."

"Who's that?"

Nothing.

"Port, who is that."

"Jack Pynsapp is the administrator of your Node."

Red looked at Jimmy and said, "Grandpa has to give me access."

"It makes sense, I guess, " Jimmy said, "they said they want us on that return train and maybe if we knew where they were we (you) would be tempted to try to find them."

Red thought for a minute. "I guess." She said finally, "Port, is Jack Pynesapp safe."

"His readings are normal."

"Port, what do you mean? What readings?"

" His metabolic readings are within his normal range, although his respiration, pulse, and blood pressure are slightly elevated. It would appear that he is performing some sort of physical exertion."

"Port, can you sense all these things from the earpiece?"

"Yes."

"It said 'Yes.'" She said to James.

"Now that's pretty cool." Jimmy said, "Port, what are Red Vanderbilt's metabolic readings?"

"Pulse: 85, blood pressure: 105 over 73,  blood oxygen: 98%."

"Port, is that all you know about Red?"

"I know her physical location, her rate of movement,  and the history of all these parameters."

"Port: but you can't tell me what her location is?"

"Yes, I can."

"It said it can tell me where you are. So your grandparents must have specifically blocked us from knowing where they are."

"I guess you were right." Red said.

Red said; "Port: are Jack Pynesapp and Marge Pynesapp close to each other?"

"Please be more specific."

"Port: Are they withing 100 feet of each other."

"You are not authorized for that information."

"You are not authorized for that information. " Red echoed and then sighed. "How could I guess. "

Jimmy smiled. "Port, " He started, "Tell me about Arthur Hale".

"I know of 14 Arthur Hale's. Please be more specific."

Jimmy looked at Red and then said; "Wait, Port. Can you let Red -- I mean Red Vanderbilt -- hear what you're saying?"

"I can put you both in a pod if you want."

"What is that?"

"It is like a private space where the three of us can have a conversation."

"Yes, that's what I'm after."

Red heard; "Red, would you like to enter a Pod with James Vanderbilt?"

"Yes, please".

Red and Jimmy both heard a short rising tone.

Jimmy continued, "Arthur Hale is middle aged and the head of some consulting company."

"The closest match is an Arthur Hale,  age 52, currently of Los Angeles, California; President and CEO of Hale and Sons Consulting Company. "

"That's gotta be him!" Jimmy said. "Now what do you know about him?"

"That's the only information that is published."

Red said; "Port, what can you tell us about Hale and Sons Consulting Company?"

"Hale and Sons provide expert engineering and design services to the transportation industry - both private and public. Specializing in state of the art propulsion, conveyance,  guidance, and control systems."

"That sounds pretty darn close." Jimmy laughed.

"Port, can you tell us the names of the other employees of Hale and Sons?" To Jimmy she said: "I've got an idea."

"Arthur Hale; Principle owner and CEO. John Hale; CIO and head of R&D. Arthur Jr.; Chief Engineer and Chairman of the board. William Thompson ; Engineer. Alice Olsen: Senior Account Manager. ... "

"Port, stop there." Red interrupted. "Jimmy, do you suppose?" She asked in wonder.

"If it's not, it's an awful coincidence. What the hell? I'll bet that's Bill and Alice from the train."

"Now I know why Grandpa gave us these things. It wasn't to keep tabs on Him and Grandma. It was to help us figure out this world and stay safe."

"Okay, so? Again I say 'What the hell?' Why are these three people playing games with us? Why us?"

"And what's Billy doing here?" Red added.

"Billy who?" Jimmy asked.

"Billy! You know William Thompson! Could that be Billy Thompson? You know the kid my Dad was talking about from when he was in school. From when he first caught that train?"

One of the problems with working on this story over years is remembering the names of the characters. I had to go back to Chapter XXVI to remember Billy's last name. 


"Yeah, I get it, I get it. But that can't be the same guy, can it?"

"He'd be the right age. We've never seen him. He hasn't been around has he? Why not?"

"That's an awful big coincidence."

"But it might explain how Arthur and Co know about us."

"Why haven't we heard about any of this until now?" Jimmy protested. "Jack must know he's around. Why didn't he tell us."

"Maybe he didn't have a chance."

"How long would it take to say; 'Oh, and Red; you remember we told you about Billy ....... Well he's here. Watch out for him.' How long does that take?"

"I don't know. What ever, okay. Now we know. So what do we do now."

"I say we get on the train and get the hell out of here."

They both stood up and looked around. What if Arthur, or one of his friends was watching them -- had been watching all along? And just because they didn't see Arthur, Bill, or Alice doesn't mean one of the other people in that company wasn't watching.  The next train departed in about an hour. They decided to get their tickets and just wait in the station.


Friday, December 30, 2016

Stage Hand for a 'day'.

An old friend posted on her Facebook page that she needed people to work on a crew to set-up and tear-down (I think she called it 'in' and 'out') for some political rallies that were coming to town. I thought that his might be interesting so I replied.

The first was a campaign rally for  Tim Kaine (Hillary's running mate) on campus. It was held on the second floor of one of the Student Commons buildings. The call was for 9:30 Monday morning (Halloween day) and after filling out paperwork (tax info, contact info, etc.) we started moving staging off of a semi truck in the basement to a conference room on the second floor. The elevator was too small for many of the carts so we had to unpack heavy staging sections and move them up one and two at a time. Pretty low tech but it seemed to be all in a days work for the experienced stage hands.
Beginnings of the stage. 

After the staging, lighting equipment, sound equipment, and all the banners and billboards were moved to the center of the room we began assembling the sets according to the plans of a couple 'Madison Avenue' sorts (whatever that is) and under the watchful guidance of the Union Steward.

This involved assembling risers, adding guardrails, adding steps, hanging curtains, setting up booms and scaffolds for lighting and sound, assembling and positioning 'bike racks' for barricades and crowd control (all draped with yards of star-spangled bunting).

It was interesting and enlightening to be part of this crew of professional stage hands putting together this set for the stage production that was to follow. It is amazing -- and somewhat disillusioning -- to witness the degree of production, direction, and control that is put in to our political process. Everyone: the crowd, the press, the candidate, the hosts -- everyone who shows up is carefully positioned, scripted, costumed, and orchestrated to produce the maximum effect.

I joined the crew again the next day -- the day of the rally -- to move everything out of the room and back into the truck that was waiting to take it to the next campaign stop.  We had to wait outside the building for an hour before we could start.  Security was tight until the candidate finished and left the building. The weather was nice so we didn't mind waiting; we were being paid.

Finally the truck was packed and we were all released to go our way.  On leaving the building I found a blow-up figure of a Darth Vader in the trash -- probably a discarded prop from a Halloween party.  It turned out to be in perfect condition and in fine working order. Perhaps it was an omen of what was to come of American politics.