Visions of the Future
- I am in an office in midtown Manhattan. It is hot outside; I do not know this. My office is airconditioned. There are crowds of people walking in the streets carrying signs. I look at them now and then, but I’m generally engrossed in my work, which is reading, editing, or summarizing contracts for a company that is being bought by a fund that will eventually destroy it at auction and profit greatly. I look down and see a square of black-clad, armored and armed police standing in an intersection. The people in the crowd are approaching them. I look away from them and resume typing on my laptop, studying it’s screen closely. I hear indistinct chanting; it’s distracting, so I start searching the drawers of my desk for my headphones. As I find them, then put them in my ears, I hear sharp pops from the street. My music starts playing: “Islands in the Stream” by Dolly Parton. It’s briefly interrupted by an alert on my phone which causes a brief, sharp and loud buzzing alarm sound. A notification informs me that it is time to “SHELTER IN PLACE” because of “CIVIL UNREST” and that a “8'O CLOCK CURFEW IS NOW IN FORCE”. It check the time on my phone; it’s 8:07. I text my wife that I’m ok but will be sleeping in the office again. She says “ok please be safe im really worried”. I call her and tell her it’s ok; the police have never bothered to enter our building before. I do more work for some time, then head to a closet where my law firm stores some cots. I bring it back to my office, then pull out a knit blanket and pillow from a backpack hanging on the back of my door. I lay them on the cot and lay down on it, still in my button-down shirt, belt, and jeans. I check the news on social media. There’s a live video on the trending page of Twitter. In it, the President is thanking the brave National Guardsmen and police officers in New York, Portland, and Milwaukee for “standing firm for the rule of law”. He is also announcing that many would be invited to the White House to receive awards for their service. He shares what he calls “a message for the pro-looting elements marching in the streets tonight”, informing them that “they can go home, or be responsible for what happens to them”. I turn off the video at that point. Disgusting. I click on one of the trends, and learn it’s about a NYPD officer who was pictured standing over a prone man and firing his gun into his chest. One of the first tweets I’m shown is by a congressman from Alabama noting the officer is a hero. There are memes which feature the frames from the video approvingly; a number are being created and shared by various online-only media outlets with names that are just amalgamations of various old timey news paper names. Seems to just be semi-randomized combination of two of the following: “daily”, “post”, “bugle”, “wire”, “caller”, “examiner”, “independent”, “post”. There’s one post sharing what is represented as a picture of the man who died, from happier times. It’s paired with a frame from the video. It’s captioned with “this is what happens to terrorists”. There’s a lot of retweets on that one. I look away, then back as I try to navigate away from…. all of this. Then I recognize the buildings in the background of the video. The whole thing happened a few blocks away from me. It occurs to me that I don’t really know why people are protesting. I push the thoughts out of my head, then look at saved pictures of my cat on my phone. I do so until my shoulders stop being tense and the video stops repeating in my head. Afterwards, I text my wife that I miss her and will see her in the morning. I then sleep. That night, my dreams are uneasy.
- I am on vacation in Vail. This was semi-impromptu, as there are heavy rains predicted to flood most of Manhattan this week. Me, my wife, and the cat decided to skip town and work remotely. It’s wonderful. I drive down from out hotel to pick up some coffee from a quaint little cafe. It’s expensive and the shop, like everywhere, is understaffed. I get two lattes to go and a copy of the local newspaper to skim while I wait. The police officer from the video was acquitted three days ago; he was at the White House yesterday. That’s the headline .There’s a picture of him smiling for a selfie with several legislators. Below it is a few local news items. The Blue Mountain Cafe on main is closing; it’s long-time owner operator is retiring. Anderson Regional’s football team would be advancing to quarterfinal for their division’s playoff. I see a small article entitled “OBITUARY: ADREW LUDSMAN, MEDAL OF HEROISM RECIPENT, AGE 29”. Below it is a small picture of a young national guardsman receiving a medal from the President, who is backed by American flags. The article notes that he lived/grew up in a nearby town, left behind a wife and young child, and that he passed “outside the Veterans Administration Hospital in Colorado Springs”. His cause of death isn’t mentioned. The family requested that, in lieu of flowers, individuals donate to a gofundme for funeral expenses and a foundation that funds PTSD research. He received the award from the President for “heroism during the events of last summer”.