News & opinion on Greater China and the even Greater Beyond: by Biff Cappuccino.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Firebrand (these 800 words of speech software inputted stuff are just the outline. The point is to churn out a story in two sessions of morning writing and then move on to the next story. I need to practice writing plots. Note to myself: create brand-new metaphors such as ‘birds swooping like burning rags, floating in the air like scraps of glittering white paper’ (unlike these two examples, the first is from Rick Bragg, the second from George Orwell)

"Are you ready?"

"As ready as I will ever be."

"Are you sure?"

He sighed, measuring his words. Thoughts, memories, phrases were running through his mind. But he calmed himself, and simply said, "yes."

The morning was chill, birds squawking, vehicles honking, the city up and about. He saw none of this, he kept his eyes closed. It was cold, and he felt colder and colder still, despite the rising sun, but he steadied himself. Soon, he too would be warm, hot, too hot for words. He sneezed, the smell of gasoline strong in his nostrils. Taking a couple of breaths, he began to feel woozy. He stopped breathing so deeply, slowing down. Calm was what he needed now to get the job done.

He asked the young man beside, Luwei the fellow protester he’d come to know well over the past couple of months, "Any sign of police?"

The young man was looking around. The old man could tell by the crunch of Luwei’s shoes, the gravel and grit of the square squeezed beneath his shoes. "Nothing! It's still early. Probably on their coffee break.”

“Even thugs need a break from busting humps.”

In a tone of concern, his voice lowered to a conspiratorial whisper, “Are you sure about this?"

"You needn’t ask. There is no other way. I have no where to go from here but forward."

He thought back to his early days protesting back in the countryside where he was from. His lazy country farm, with heated kangs, drying peppers and corn in the rafters, smoke swirling out from chimney. He’d envied others then, others whose children had gone off to the city. His children had stayed and then the neighbors had complained their kids never came home. For a while his existence had seemed idyllic. A whole family under one roof. Poor, but harmonious.

His land had been rezoned, and by using eminent domain, the county government had snatched it up and given him a pittance in exchange. Even this pittance, issued in the form of a check, was not redeemable. He was left landless and without a way to make any money. This had been going on for quite a while, and I had been a growing protest movement. He had originally ignored it, figuring that it cannot happen to him. Figuring that it was best that he keep his nose clean.

But it caught up with him. He joined the ranks of the protesters, tying a bandanna around his forehead, written with the words, protest! Protest! After well, you change this to "down with the and county government". At first it is that up with a cordon of police that kept him away from the County government headquarters.

And then, someone had the wise idea of contacting the tabloid paper located in the provincial capital. A couple of reporters shut up, wrote up a story, and it appeared as headline news of a corruption scandal in the county. Although the county contacted the provincial government and closed and a new story, there was still the matter is issuing revenge.

He was rounded up and. In the prison cell, it was demanded that he write a confessional statement. He refused, he was beaten, the urine leaking down his pants, the turd getting squashed in his shorts. His ribs were cracked but still he wouldn't talk. And in the end, the statement of confession and when he was released his family took care of him and admonished him not to get involved in political protest again.

After visiting the Beijing central government and not finding any satisfaction, he comes back home. His family is starving. his kids are in rags begging on the streets. His daughter is a prostitute. He goes down to the county government in a rage and complains. This time it's a real walloping torture treatment. He gets linked up to a car battery with wires and so forth.

So that it makes a decision to head to Beijing and make a grand statements. He realizes this is not an age for heroes, as there are no heroes in prison dungeons. This is not a time for grand statements as there's no free press. So, he makes a final decision to go to Beijing.

The clock struck 9 am. The city square was filling up with people, the crowd was growing.

The old man asked, "there's so many people. No police yet? That's ought." He controlled his breathing, to keep the fumes of his lungs as much as possible. To remain keen, aware, acute for the job which was to be done.

"They're coming!"

The old man pulled out his some of the distraction, and his heavy nickel plated lighter, as he popped open the top, it played "the red sun sets over China."

1 comment:

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