Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Summer's Carol, Part 1

Greetings -

I thought I'd try something a bit different.  I'm not sure how good I am at fiction, but a story can sometimes be a good way for people to really connect with issues and ideas.  That was what George Takei said in discussing his theater project about Japanese internment camps in the U.S. during WW II.

So there were some ideas kicked around at The Intercept comments that got me thinking about doing a story...this is not exactly how I started seeing the project, but hey, ya never know exactly what will come out once an idea takes hold.  So here goes.  It came out a bit longer than I'd envisioned, so I will break it up into 2 parts.  I hope you readers enjoy it.

A Summer’s Carol
With apologies to a certain 19th Century English author

Jill could barely keep her eyes open as the 11 p.m. news droned on. It was the end of a long day and the night was fittingly humid for mid-July.  “There doesn’t seem to be much good news happening.  And there just seems to be nothing we can do,” she thought as she finally turned off the tv via her remote.  Already in her ivory cotton pajamas, she replaced the remote on her night stand, fluffed her pillow and settled in for some sleep.

But just as she started to doze off, there was this light at her doorway.  Her nervous system seemed to alternate between curiosity and fear as she sat up.  The light seemed to form into something resembling a woman in a gray Victorian silk dress with high collar and leg-of-mutton sleeves. Her milk chocolate colored skin and hair that was carefully formed into a neat bun gave her a nonthreatening appearance, so Jill demanded, “Who are you?”

“I am the spirit of Ida B. Wells-Barnett.” the apparition replied.

Jill had heard of the pioneering investigative journalist, suffragist and civil rights activist, but being unaccustomed to being visited by spirits she asked, “What are you doing here?”

“I heard you thinking about all the bad news and that there is nothing to be done.  I, along with three other spirits, will show you that that is not so.
“The news was also quite bad when I was working, but investigating and exposing the horrors of lynching helped many to know of this appalling practice and to oppose it.  Along with others, I also fought for women’s suffrage and civil rights.  So even when things are dark, you and others can still shine light.
“You will be visited by three more spirits this night.  Please take heed of their lessons.  Now I must ne going; there are a few broadcasters and reporters who call themselves journalists I’d like to visit.” The spirit of Ms. Wells-Barnett then disappeared into the darkness.

Jill just sat there in stunned silence, trying to decide whether to stay awake or try to sleep a bit before the next ghostly visitor arrived.

It wasn’t long however before the next spirit appeared and sat in the chair by her closet.  She didn’t recognize this man, impeccably dressed in a blue business suit. He was wearing aviator glasses on his oval face which was framed by slightly graying brown hair.

“And who are you?”  Jill asked.

“I am the spirit of Senator Frank Church,” he stated.  Jill nodded although she only vaguely recognized his name.

“I chaired the Committee on Government Operations with respect to Intelligence Agencies back in 1975 – 1976.”

Jill nodded.  She hadn’t yet been born when this committee was working, but she now knew where she’d heard the name Church before; it sometimes came up in articles about revelations of NSA spying divulged by one Edward Snowden.

“It seemed as though our committee’s recommendations were having an effect on the conduct of the intelligence community for a while.  But things began to slide backwards over time.  At least this fellow Snowden has opened up the conversation again. 
“But it is citizens, yes, like you, who must hold not only intelligence agencies, but all branches of government accountable.  As I said on “Meet the Press” back in the day: ‘…we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.’
“It’s now time for you and your fellow citizens to step up and work for that more perfect union those founders of ours talked about.”  And with that, he took off his glasses, waved a good-bye, and vanished.

Jill could hardly keep up with her racing mind, so she tumbled back to rest her head on the pillow again. She wondered, just what spirit would appear next.

Tomorrow: Two more spirits visit Jill...

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