Desperate Times Justify Desperate Measures

Bryan had left the auditorium with his convictions in tact. Kate Murphy was nothing more than a shill for the big corps. The big festering body of capitalist exploiters who’d all chipped in-like some PAC- to give argument against what was by consensus, irrefutable. The planet’s state of decline was directly related to the wanton and reckless engagement of too many people, their mass consumption of resources, and a political system that promoted unfair advantage. He would blog the story as such, perhaps give some mocking credence to Murphy’s.

Murphy’s pivotal “Conspiracy” theme denied the facts that most of the protest groups were green roots organizations of mostly youthful advocates who felt their futures and, more importantly, the planet’s existence were at stake. The issue was world-wide and, sure, they’d received information and assistance on how and when to meet up and activate their groups from the likes of Earthfirst, National Resources Defence Council, the Sierra Club, and even the Environmental Councils within the United Nations. After all, saving the planet was a global effort was it not? The maxim “think globally, act locally” was the only approach that made sense.

Still, Bryan sensed a splinter of doubt-tiny but irritating-had lodged in the shadowy recesses of his mind. In the “what if” section. What if Murphy was right? That we activists who strive to save the earth are merely shills for some shadowy manipulators bent on their own devices? Are we puppets, or do we  pull our own strings?

He lapsed into faux medieval stentorian voiced mind chatter: From whence cometh my passion? Who art my true liege?

Then, for an instant of sober self-doubt, he thought, What if Murphy’s right? And we’re not knights at all but mere pawns in an ages-old power game?

The question made him pause his brisk walk just as he reached the Metro Station door. There, at the entrance, an unconscious man lay leaning against the wall, urine had trickled in dark rivulets from somewhere beneath. Looking at the ragged army coat and the man’s battered and bearded face, it was hard to tell if the guy was alive or not. A strong whiff of putrescence convulsed Bryan’s stomach. “Damn!” He pushed on through the doorway to descend down to the 12th Street Blue Line platform. By that time, he’d recovered from both the awful stench and his momentary lapse into ridiculous “what if” reveries.

As he entered his apartment, Bryan switched on the lights, walked to his small desk, and fired up his Mac Book. He began a quick survey of his favorite blog sites. “GO Green” had a newsflash- “Conservative Anti-Environmentalist Kate Murray Attacked”

Hmmmm. Bryan thought. Maybe I should have stuck around after all. Sounds like things got interesting.

He opened the page, read it, and then researched other sources reporting on the same incident. After reviewing several jerky You Tube videos and reading numerous accounts, he stitched together what had happened.

Sadly, there had been no major disruptions during the proceedings, but one guy in a bright green t-shirt nearly succeeded in throwing a shaving cream pie in Murray’s face as she was making her way out of the building. The guy must have been waiting for hours, holding a cardboard pizza box that masked it’s contents.The pie had just missed Murray and struck a police officer just behind her, splattering the whole left side of the man’s face.

The attacker then turned and tried to push his way toward the street. Someone’s phone cam would later show a very wide-eyed youth in a lime green shirt and tattered jeans emerging from a knot of people. He slowed his pace as he casually removed what appeared to be latex gloves from each hand dropping them on the sidewalk. As he came onto the curb, someone shouted, “There’s the guy! He’s the one! Get him!”

Three police officers moved in on the assailant who began shouting “Police brutality! Police Brutality!” and, no doubt, hoping to draw some of the media into the fray. There was also a still shot of a hefty young bespectacled woman with green hair wearing a long tie-dyed T-Shirt and little else who was aiming her smartphone toward the scene.

These seemingly spontaneous guerrilla tactics were standard procedure for the more shadowy activist groups. Stage an “incident”, capture it, put it out there. At least they’d get the scenes up on You Tube. The gangling, dread locked perpetrator was quickly subdued, cuffed, and hustled off presumably to the police station before any major news team appeared. No matter, the bloggers had it covered. Who ever watched the TV news these days anyway?

Meanwhile, the stricken officer who’d been handed a kerchief began to howl in pain and cry out “It’s burning. Burning! Wash it off! Wash it off” Bottles of water were handed forth as a fellow officer a young woman wearing the rank of corporal began washing the white foam away from the man’s face. She figured that it was some form of menthol in the shaving cream that was causing him distress, although the officer was an ex-marine MP and not at all prone to this kind of painful outcry.

His scream diminished to moans as the cooling water seemed to have it’s effect. The paramedics came, putting on their latex gloves as they strode through the clot of onlookers and began their ministrations while desperately trying to assess what had happened.

The woman police officer who’d offered her aid came up to them displaying her mottled hands-where angry and painful red splotches were erupting wherever the whipped topping had touched her bare skin. Her expression showed no outward sign of injury, but her eyes were welling with the pain. “Look at this”. One of the EMT’s turned to her-and began to rinse her wounds with a bottle of sterile water. “Aieeee!” The woman winced, causing tears to run down her cheeks.

The EMT who treated the woman officer came to a shocking revelation. His HAZMAT training had kicked up a memory.

The same EMT spoke with a local interviewer.
“I saw those splotches on her hands turning red, blistering and it was like watching something cook under a broiler.  I looked over at my partner who was rinsing the officer’s face with sterile water.

“Margie!” I shouted. She looked up. So as not to disturb the patient, he leaned close to Margie’s ear and whispered, “It’s acid, they put acid in the foam. Grab the bicarbonate and start rinsing with it. Hurry!” Once applied, the solution worked to counter the worst effects of the acid.

“But just as we were getting things under control, several other folks came up to us complaining of burning skin. When two other ERs came arrived, I told them it was acid burns, to call it into Mercy Hospital that we were coming in with burn victims.”

It was later discovered that the whipped cream pie meant for Kate Murphy was laced with muratic acid- more commonly known as hydrochloric acid. A highly corrosive substance used to clean concrete and swimming pools. The stricken officer had suffered moderate to severe facial burns and lost vision in his left eye. Perhaps permanently. The female officer had less severe injuries but the scars on her hands would persist for years. Other bystanders, who were slightly splattered claimed injuries as well, but not so severe as the police officers.

Prosecutors were going to have a field day.

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