For such serious activists, Lucy thought, Sheriff John’s Rainbow folks sure knew how to throw a Victory party. That rainbow punch was lethal. Who knew there was blue liquor? Or purple for that matter? Especially for someone who had really only had red and that only as a little wine the day after Jane was killed. But she wasn’t going to think about that tonight. Tonight was a great night. Josh was there, with Jane’s parents and Jeanette. Jeanette followed Lucy everywhere, asking her endless questions and tugging on her scarf. Tiffany was hovering over Lucy fussing with her hair, just in case Lucy had to go up on the podium with the new Governor of the state of Maryland, John Brown. Jon had stopped asking her if she knew the speech he had written for the occasion. After so many days on the road campaigning, she had grown positively fond of Jon and Tiff, the one so geeky and the other so hip, yet both dreaming of making it in Hollywood some day. Any way, so far no one had come to get her.
The podium had a rainbow flag alongside the American flag and some other flag that Lucy thought must be the Maryland state flag. She still could not believe it: here came the new governor of the state of Maryland, John Brown. And she had helped make it happen. She really hoped they’d ask her to go up and give the speech she and Jon had written for the victory party. She thought her speech was better than the candidate’s by a lot. She’d worked on it constantly during the campaign, watching what worked with a crowd and using humor to get them on her side. She’d heard Sheriff John give his speech so often that she wasn’t even listening when the crowd around her started to roar.
A small plump blonde woman was crossing the podium from the door at the back. And the chant took form. “SYL VEE A, SYL VEE A.” It was the Governor of New York, the woman many said really won the White House seven years ago, Sylvia Giffords. Could that possibly be Evan Martinez in her entourage? It would be just like him to turn up just like that without any warning. Lucy looked harder, but then he seemed to have vanished. Maybe she was just wishing. Sylvia looked a lot older than Lucy remembered from when she was a little girl and her dad had Giffords’ pictures everywhere in the big election year. But there was something so comforting about that familiar face. And the predictably ghastly outfit, this time a hideous bright blue tunic like thing and could those actually be turquoise pants? Only now it was accessorized with a Lucy pink scarf. Governor John didn’t even make an introduction. Why bother?
“My friends,” she began, patting her heart again and again, “my friends, my colleagues, my comrades,” until the crowd finally quieted down. “I am here to congratulate my old friend John Brown on his landslide victory in the election for Governor of Maryland. We all know that John made a terrible sacrifice when he fought – and in this case I really mean fought – for my election seven long years ago in Ohio. But taking a bullet in the spine did not keep him down. The opposition of his own party’s governor in his home state did not keep him down. And now justice has prevailed and a true Rainbow rebel is the governor of the crucial state of Maryland. I applaud his victory.” She stopped for the crowd to cheer. “But more importantly,” she continued, “I need his help. Because, starting tonight, I hereby declare that I am running for President of the United States. We have had enough! Enough of the White House dividing us instead of uniting us. Enough sending federal agents into blue states to force innocent young women and gay and lesbian and nonbinary youngsters back into the prisons of the red states. Enough Red States in fact.”
“Well,” Lucy heard Josh say, “looks like Sylvia Giffords has finally grown a pair.” Josh thought Sylvia should not have conceded the contested election to the Boy Wonder. He thought she should have launched a boycott and forced them to inaugurate the Wonder by force. He always suspected she okayed the Agreement. She was the leader of the Blue Party after all even if she wasn’t in the Senate when Justice McReynolds died. The negotiations had been so hush hush.
Sheriff John was Josh’s candidate for President. But now he didn’t stand a chance. Sylvia Giffords had big footed her way into his victory party and declared her candidacy. There would be no room for anyone else.
“We are at war,” GiffordS continued. Lucy felt the familiar chill at the prospect of a nuclear winter all over the former United States. “At war,” she repeated, “for the soul of the United States of America.” Well, that was a little less scary. “And we all know,” Giffords continued, “the little lady whose escape from Virginia started this great war.” Lucy looked up at the stage and saw the Presidential candidate gesturing in her direction. Ugh, she hated that phrase. The last thing she wanted to do was start a war. “Lucy,” Giffords said, “come up here. Come here and get the thanks you deserve.” Tiff and Jon started walking her toward the stairs to the platform. Her head was whirling. She had no speech prepared. She was totally on her own. What did she think about Sylvia Giffords running for President? Her dad had died for Giffords in the gunfire around her last tragic election.
Even with her hair newly fluffed and her high heeled shoes, Lucy was barely as tall as the round little governor, who embraced her warmly. “I loved your Dad,” Giffords said softly. Lucy vaguely remembered the fuss when the unsuccessful candidate had come to Dad’s funeral. She now knew how brave that had been. Dad was buried in Virginia, and the feelings were still running pretty high in those days after the battles in Ohio. But Giffords came anyway. “Thank you,” she answered. The newly declared candidate took Lucy’s hand and held it high in the traditional gesture of victory. Then she resumed speaking. “When I am President of the United States,” Giffords said, “never again will federal officers come to bring a girl back to a state where she can be raped at will and pulled out of school to be breeding machines. Since the election of 20__ and the Agreement, we have become, as Lucy said at the beginning of Sheriff John’s wonderful campaign, a House Divided.” She paused, and the crowd began to chant “cannot stand, cannot stand.”
“My first act as a candidate for President of the United States,” the New York governor continued, “will be to appoint Lucy Atreides as my advisor on refugee affairs.” At the sound of the word refugee, Lucy visibly winced. But Giffords went on, without noticing. “Lucy, I want you to move to New York and become a full time member of my campaign.”
When, for a split second, Lucy hesitated, Giffords leaned over. “Think how proud your Dad would be.”
“I guess I’m going to New York,” Lucy said, finally letting go of her fantasy of returning to live with the Glass family in a normal house and go to high school. “I’ve always wanted to see New York.” They embraced again and the crowd went over the moon. Lucy looked around for Evan in the moments of smiling and bowing. Was that him off to the side with Kelly? How did he even know Kelly? By the time she got off the stage, he was gone. If it had been him at all. Sylvia took off almost as fast. Her people would arrange for Lucy’s transfer, she said to Sheriff John, quite as if Lucy was a team mascot, now assigned to an out of town game.
“She has no right!” Josh said after everyone cleared out. “We revived this movement while she was sitting pretty up there in New York. I don’t remember her blocking the girl catchers until John started campaigning on that platform.”
“Calm down, Josh,” Kelly said. She glanced over at the candidate’s security detail, who always seemed to be everywhere. Now that the campaign was over, these ex-cops were going to be looking for a new gig and who knew where their loyalty lay.
“Nah, they’re my former deputies,” John said. “Don’t worry about them, Kelly. They’ll do anything for my team. Just let the feds try and come after Lucy again.”
“What??” Josh and Lucy said together.
“Lucy,” the newly elected governor of Maryland began, “we will never let them take you into custody again. So be assured that your days in federal prison are over. Unless you decide to rob a bank or something,” he added in an attempt at humor, as the tension mounted visibly.
“What are you talking about?” Lucy asked urgently.
“It’s probably my fault,” he said ruefully. “You were too effective in the campaign. The White House is apparently beside itself with our growing movement, and they have decided to take you out. And that was before Miss Turnstiles threw her hat in the ring,” he added, glancing at the podium where NY governor Giffords had announced herself. “Imagine what they’ll do now. They put their best legal scholars on your case, Kelly tells me, and they have figured out that sex with your stepfather isn’t incest in Virginia. The United States filed charges against you again, and it’s murder, since you had the abortion. Federal murder, under the Fetus act, because you crossed state lines to kill the fetus and you have no defense of incest.”
“But he raped me, too!” Lucy cried. “I thought that was a defense.”
“Apparently they have a witness to say you seduced him.”
“Who? There was no one there! Mom? Mom would never do that.”
“No,” Kelly said. “It’s your sister in law, Phyllis. I can only think they’re threatening to take her son away. But it doesn’t matter why she’s doing it, the feds are coming to get you. And they’re not going to take a chance at a trial in Maryland again. They’re coming to get you and taking you physically to DC. Something about getting a fair hearing.”
“My God!” Lucy gasped. “That at least I thought was over. How do you know even? How do you know this? Why didn’t you tell me? Maybe it’s not true. John! Don’t let them take me to DC!”
“It does seem like it’s never over doesn’t it?” Kelly responded without answering how she knew.
“When are they coming?” Josh asked, seemingly unsurprised by Kelly’s inside information. But Kelly was looking at the device Sidd had given her. It was beeping its head off.
“I’m guessing right about now,” she said in a level tone.
“Out,” shouted the former Sheriff. “Out, out out!! Get up to the suite. Guys,” he said to the large security detail he always carried. “Get Lucy and Kelly up to the suite and no one gets in. I don’t care if the Boy Wonder himself comes to visit. Everyone, everyone with Lucy right now. I’ll be fine.”
Lucy did not think her feet touched the ground all the way to the campaign suite. As the security guys hustled her along, she heard new governor on the phone asking for more deputies to the hotel right away. The other Jon was screaming into his phone at the reporters. “Turn around! Turn your vans around. Feds coming after Lucy. Marriott, Tenth floor.”
“They’re on their way,” Kelly said, running along and pounding on her phone. “Sidd says it’s not a lot of people because they don’t know we’re expecting them. They think they’re going to take us by surprise again.” Lucy glanced down the hotel hallway as the door to the suite slammed shut behind her. There sure were a lot of people on her side. With guns. No more of the lawyers’ turn yourself in and trust the process shit. John was real Rainbow Resistance. She knew she should have stuck with them in the first place. As soon as she heard the shouting in the hall, Lucy ran to the door to see.
“Don’t open that, are you crazy?” Josh screamed.
“Don’t you tell me what to do,” Lucy screamed right back. “I’m going to see what’s going on.” When she looked out, the security guys had blockaded the hall. Federal agents in those parkas they always seemed to wear were streaming off the elevator. Guns drawn. But this time Lucy’s protectors had also drawn their guns. Everyone was yelling, guns down! Federal marshals!! No one comes near Lucy! Put your own guns down! And then the TV guys with their cameras and their long microphones were pouring out of the stairwell. Finally she saw Sheriff John. Of course, Lucy realized. In his wheelchair, he had had to wait until he could get an elevator. Would they dare to shoot with him there? And all these cameras? The hallway was getting downright crowded. All wars started someplace. Would the second civil war start in the hall of a Baltimore Marriott?
As soon as Josh saw John he ran out the door.
“Josh, no!” Lucy tried to grab his shirt as he rushed past. But when she tried to follow him, Kelly pushed her to the ground and slammed the door and locked it.
“What?” Lucy stuttered from the floor, scrambling to her feet. “What are you doing?”
“We’re leaving,” Kelly said as the racket in the hallway rattled the thick hotel door. She dragged Lucy to the window as a sling appeared outside the 20th floor suite. Evan Martinez was sitting in it, holding out his arms.
Kelly opened the window and Lucy heard the sound of helicopter blades. She looked back at Kelly.
“Go, Lucy,” Kelly said. “I’ll be okay. It’s not me they’re after. “Go! Go! I don’t know how long John’s guards can hold off the feds.” Lucy climbed out the window into Evan’s outstretched arms and the helicopter lifted the two of them up into the open bay.
“How did you know? What are you doing here? What is going on?” she demanded, once they got inside the chopper.