The following story is by guest author Alexandre H. Leclerc. You can find more of Alexandre’s work at his blog: alexthescribe.wordpress.com.
“Help! She’s unconscious!”
Your chin is bruised something fierce. The rubber bullet hit you under your lip and left a dimple the size of a quarter, oozing blood.
It all started with me raising my hand.
“What, are you an activist?” you said. “You’re so radical.”
I laughed. “No, but I don’t want my tuition to double by the end of my degree. Besides, I have nothing better to do this afternoon. Do you?”
“I do now,” you said, raising your hand.
I tried to stifle a guffaw. I failed extravagantly.
The vote in favor of the student strike was overwhelming.
We were now looking at weeks of unplanned free time and an afternoon of protest. So we went with the crowd. They looked like riotous fun. We felt like radicals.
We took the metro to the meeting point. The atmosphere was electric. When we got outside, there was already a good crowd abuzz with talk and chanting and bongos. You yelled “Conga!” and led a Conga line through the crowd. “Radical!” I laughed, holding on to your shoulders, weaving with you through the crowd.
That’s when the riot cops poured out of the alley to block the street.
The conga line faltered. There was some booing and whistling. The tam-tam beats lulled.
You looked curious. I didn’t want to show it, but I was scared. They formed a solid wall of armored soldiers with helmets and batons, and even a couple of bulky guns. At least they pointed those at the ground.
The bongos picked up a funky beat and the tension dropped a bit. You nudged me in the ribs and nodded to the cop with the handheld canon. “Check out helmet 3421. He’s kinda cute. I like a man in uniform.” I choked and sputtered in disbelief.
Your eyes twinkled. You started chanting “You’re sexy! You’re cute! Take off your riot suit!” to the tam-tam rhythm. Students all around joined in. We started dancing and jumping to the beat. Two guys even did a strip tease down to their boxers in front of the cops.
Riotous good fun.
A rumor rose from the back of the crowd.
“Cops blocked the street on the other side. We’re trapped.”
A disembodied voice on loudspeaker said “This protest is now illegal. Please disperse. Those who do not will be arrested. I repeat.”
I grabbed your elbow and threaded my way to the wall of policemen.
“We’d like to disperse, please,” I said to 3421, my stomach knotting.
He ignored me.
“Can we get out of here, please!” I heard my voice pitching up in panic.
The decibels rose. The policemen shoved the crowd back. Students protested. Those who shoved back were clubbed. Shrieks and yells. The drone of the disembodied voice all around.
Now here we are. I’m holding you, while two street medics are looking at your teeth and dabbing your chin. I spot 3421 backing up behind the police line, gun muzzle still smoking.
I’m shocked. Disbelieving. Angry.
I feel like doing something radical.