tagSci-Fi & FantasyOne in Ten Ch. 07

One in Ten Ch. 07


*PokingFun...she tells me things I need to hear*

*The Sniper, the Bodyguard, the Genius and the Student - you know who you are and I thank you*

*Sorry, no sex this time around. In fact, I don't think there is any sex in Chapter 8 either. There is some in Nine, so if you can hold out...*

*If you save a thousand, you are soon forgotten. If you save one, you are always remembered*

I picked up the phone and made the call.

"Eloise, you still want your comment?" I said bitterly.

"Of course, Israel," she responded calmly.

"A cop in China murdered six men today," I told her.

"It looks more like assisted suicide," Eloise countered.

"No – absolutely not," my voice shook. "Had those men been able to defend themselves, they would not have been there in the first place. They would have never agreed to go. They wouldn't have even plotted this tragedy out."

"They were utterly defenseless. Society rendered them this way. That cop was only the last in a long line of aggressors they couldn't fend off," I was clearly shaking now. "Saying they were suicides implies they had a choice in the matter – they didn't. Her brother had no chance of doing something like this – none."

"She found out what he wished for and she made the only real choice to be made – to live or die and she chose from them to die. Those men had a final word alright – it was 'Help!' It is the worst kind of cruelty to blame the victims for the crime. Tomorrow the press is going to say it was suicide because they sat there and were slaughtered like sheep."

"Well – duh! You raised us to be sheep. How dare you blame us for acting like sheep when it was suddenly inconvenient for you!" I was screaming. "Their choices were to sit there or fight back but you don't want us fighting back, so they did what you trained them to do. They sat there, exactly like you taught them to."

"This time it was a murderess with a knife, instead of a grabby co-worker, a horny cop, or a gang of women looking to party. You certainly didn't want them saying 'no' those last three times, so why are you surprised they couldn't say 'no' to the former? It isn't a matter of scale. It is a matter of learning to make choices and men aren't given that luxury."

"Is that all?" Eloise said after a long pause.

"Yeah, that's me venting," I sighed.

"'Chinese Policewoman murders brother, five others'," she stated. "That is the headline I'm showing my editor. I like the sheep metaphor. I'll use it. Thank you, Israel."

"Well, shit," Seneca mumbled. "Tomorrow is going to be ten kinds of messed up. I had better get going."

"Yeah," Angel said as she stood to see Seneca to the door. I tagged along until we were all out in the public walkway.

"Sorry about that, Seneca," I apologized.

"Israel, the public is already unhappy with the police's handling of this Vanisher controversy. Now you want them to think that cops are murdering men too," Seneca stated wearily.

"Did we watch the same video?" I grumbled. "She killed all of them, then herself."

"They wanted to die," Seneca countered. I held Angel back. Seneca was her partner.

"Seneca, were they clinically depressed men off their meds – all of them?" I pointed out.

"What about the daycare in Denver? They committed suicide," Seneca reposed.

"Exactly!" I declared. "They struck back. What did those Chinese men do? How did they strike back?"

"Enough," Angel separated us. "Tomorrow is probably going to be a long day for us, so let's get some sleep." Seneca nodded, doubled-back to hug Angel – then offered to shake my hand.

"You make her happy," Seneca explained as I did so.

"It is accidental, believe me," I grinned. Seneca snickered, shook her head then left.

"Everyone, time to go," Angel announced as we stepped back into my condo. It was my place, but Angel was my girlfriend so it was normal for her to make decisions like this. For all the battles I had won during this long day, I would let this one go. Angel was Angel, I wanted my company to go, and I'd get revenge on her in the bedroom.

"Kuiko, you and I are going to have a chat during lunch tomorrow," Angel slipped in there. Oh, hell no, that wasn't going to happen. After people left, I tapped Angel.

"Have you thought about getting some of your things and bringing them over here? Toothbrush and stuff like that – maybe a change of clothes," I suggested.

"Are you sure?" Angel studied me.

"Last time you had to run back to your place I was tuned up by your buddy's buddy," I pointed out. Angel didn't like my explanation but she couldn't deny its validity.

"I'll get some things and tell Roni," Angel struggled to sound upbeat.

The second Angel was across the hall, I called Kuiko and begged her to come back over. She arrived a minute before Angel returned with an armful of things.

"Hey..." Angel began then caught sight of Kuiko.

"Put your things in our bedroom and then we can all talk," I directed.

Now I was making the calls and was daring Angel to be pissy about my rights in my own home. She returned a minute later. Kuiko was in the comfy chair, I was on the floor with my back to the TV screen so Angel took the sofa.

"So, what do you want to talk to Kuiko about?" I dove in.

"Something I think two women need to discuss – just between us," Angel evaded. I was not having that. I knew women very well. Angel would steamroll over Kuiko out of instinct, not reason. I wasn't angry with Angel as much as determined to put my stamp on our relationship.

"Has Kuiko insulted you?" I started.

"No, that's not..." Angel got out.

"Has she left her hallway a mess?" I persisted.

"No..." she grumbled.

"Has she failed to put away her trash properly in the bins?" I glared.

"I get it, Israel. You are no Kinsey Millhone, so you can stop now," Angel allowed. "I want to talk to Kuiko about you." This was not a revelation to Kuiko or me. I had no clue who Kinsey Millhone was, but I had to assume whoever she was, she was a better interrogator than me.

"Let's talk then," I breathed a sigh of relief.

"It is still girl-talk," Angel insisted. I was screwed by her intransience. I wasn't going to hold our affection hostage. That would cheapen what we had. I couldn't give in – that would undercut what little bliss I had accumulated. I had the worst option of all – trust.

"Angel, what can I tell you to convince you to accept Kuiko's place in my life?" I pleaded.

That wasn't what either expected. Angel mulled over her response. Kuiko eyed the door.

"Have less impressive sex!" Capri screamed from the back bedroom. That cut through some of the tension.

"Israel, I become upset when any woman talks about having sex with you – when they trumpet to the World how much they liked it...and want more," Angel confessed.

"Sorry," Kuiko meeped.

"It is not just you," Angel turned on Kuiko. "It is going to be the next girl and the next. Goddess, I hate sounding like some whiney, selfish cunt."

"You are not," I comforted her. "I love you and I think you love me, but that doesn't mean I am going to surrender myself to you."

"No attachments – no marriage on their terms. For me, your declaration is all I need," I said.

"Israel...how often are you going to have sex with other women?" Angel groaned. The emotional shoe was really on the other foot.

"Inside, or outside the coterie?" I responded. Angel mulled that over.

"Israel, I really, really want to ask you to not have sex with anyone else but me," Angel murmured. Kuiko nearly burst into tears. "But I'm not. I have to trust you as much as you've trusted me. Considering how much I've betrayed that trust – I'm glad you've been patient."

"Love – it does NOT make your life better," I sighed.

"It is easier for me," I added, "because I already have so many other psychoses to deal with, this is nothing new."

"Not funny, Israel," Angel looked me over. "Aaaarrghhhh..." she growled as she stood up. She did her best venting when she stood, I was discovering.

"I'm trying to give you permission to sleep around – wait," she held up her hand, "but I know it is not my permission to give. I'm struggling to accept this...helplessness."

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Kuiko threw herself on her knees and hugged Angel's waist. "I would have given him up, but I truly didn't want to."

For a second, I was afraid Angel was going to yank Kuiko up by the hair and whirl her around the room like some archaic weapon. Angel feigned anger well – she wasn't as out of control as she would lead people to believe.

"Kuiko," Angel sighed, "couldn't you have simply typed 'he was good' and left it at that?"

Angel hesitantly reached down and patted Kuiko's head.

"Angel, I apologize, but it really was the best sex I've ever had – or even read about. I've been such a disaster until Israel. It wasn't just good sex – it was unbelievably good sex," she bubbled. "He made it fun and he made me feel I gave good sex as well."

"I – know," Angel reluctantly nodded. "We had sex too."

"Damn right," Kuiko smiled up at Angel. "You got FIVE hours. I only got one." Then Kuiko stuck her tongue out at Angel and gave her a raspberry. Angel drank in that defiant display.

"You stay right there," she told Kuiko. "I'm going to get my taser and light up your little ass."

"He likes my little ass!" Kuiko declared proudly.

"You are not helping your case," I muttered.

"Kuiko, you do realize when you stood up to those two police officers to protect Israel, you could have been tased?" she asked her kneeling compatriot.

"Yes. You would have too," Kuiko stated. If only she knew. On second thought, being closely acquainted with violence wasn't doing me any good at all.

"I'm a police officer," Angel reminded her. "I've been tased – it is part of our training. It is not a pleasant experience, believe me."

"I'd still do it," Kuiko pledged.

"I know you would – Crazy K. Now that nickname makes sense," Angel smirked. "Still, I think Israel's battle plan has as few of us getting tased as possible."

"Are we going to fucking bed?" Capri yelled out from the back again.

"Give us a second," Angel yelled back. "Kuiko, what is this about nipple torture?" Whoops.

"Oh," Kuiko replied gleefully. "Since I'm naughty, Israel punishes me by suckling on my whole breast whenever we are alone or with our group. I think I'm supposed to learn a lesson."

"What lesson would that be?" Angel regarded me suspiciously.

"Don't know – don't care," Kuiko beamed. "All I know is his lips, mouth and tongue feel fantastic."

"Trust me, I know how good they feel," Angel sighed. "Go home, Kuiko. Just go home."

"Okay," Kuiko hopped up. "See you tomorrow, Israel." Off she went.

"What am I going to do with you?" Angel regarded me. At least she wasn't angry.

"Have less impressive sex!" Capri chimed in. "Can we go to bed now?" Angel looked back toward the bedrooms then padded that way quietly. I stood and followed. We found Capri in pajama shorts, face down on my bed. She had brought her own pillow.

There were a host of problems. For starters, my bed was a double. It held two people without too much difficulty. Angel and I were above average sized people, if not overly so. Capri was small – in stature. There was nothing wrong with the width of her hips. Capri was in the middle of the bed so Angel and I couldn't have casual, flirtatious contact.

We'd have to reach over her. Angel had just grappled with her 'sharing' issues with Kuiko. Capri's position had no forewarning for either of us, but I was shocked that I was shocked. After all, I had invited a girl into my house. Of course she was going to end up having intercourse with me. I had been so fatigued that I had missed this. It was a scary revelation.

Angel took her taser off the top of the dresser.

"This one I AM going to shoot," Angel announced.

"Carpi, what are you doing in my bed?" I intervened.

"Oh? Am I annoying you two?" Capri muttered from her pillow. "Forgive me. The continents drifted so much while I was waiting, I thought this was now my bedroom."

"Goddess, give me one good reason not to spark her snarky ass up?" Angel half-joked.

"I – I can't do this," I muttered then slumped against the door. Capri's head immediately popped up.

"Israel, I'm sorry," Capri murmured. She sat up, got off the bed and slipped over to Angel.

If Angel had any animosity toward Capri, it evaporated. Angel did that for me – put aside her own emotions when I needed her the most. Capri had seen me collapse before, but she associated that with some kind of pressure. Like most people, she associated mental trauma with its physical counterpart. If the person began acting healthier, he/she was getting better – recovering.

I didn't have a single knife wound – I had not been thrown under a lawnmower. Figuring out what would flip me out was a nightmare my friends were now sharing in. I had surrendered my safeguards for hope. Even as I was starting to trust others once more, I was trusting myself less and less. I felt those lifeless eyes staring at me, crying out for help and it all felt like too much.

(Tuesday Morning)

"Wake up, Israel," Capri said through my closed door. "Eloise Granger called and she wants you to stop by the Sentinel offices at eight. I'm coming along because I have jack-all job opportunities."

"I'm on the floor," Angel called out from the space between the bed and dresser. She probably been afraid that me waking up next to her in bed would send my mind tumbling again, but hadn't wanted to totally abandon my space.

She let that warning sink in before she sat up. I didn't even know how any of this had worked out. The last thing I recalled was leaning against my door. Here I was trying to make a statement about male dignity and I had to be put to bed like an infant.

"I'm okay, Angel," I told my lover. "Capri, let me slap some clothes on. Any idea what Granger wanted?"

"Yeah, I went to law school so I could be a personal assistant, you jerk," Capri chuckled. "She wouldn't tell me so it must be something subversive. That's another reason I want to come along."

"Cop listening," Angel grunted. "Israel, good dreams?"

"No dreams," I responded. "None I can recall anyway."

"Ah – I don't have a pet name for you," Angel realized.

"Jerk works for me," Capri intruded.

"Shut up!" Angel snapped. "Israel, take a shower."

"When do you have to go in?" I asked Angel as I stood, worked around her and began picking out something to wear. She whipped out her phone and dialed her workplace.

"Regular time in, but I'm working late – there is a MAL rally tonight at Blazer Arena," she informed me.

"That's bizarrely fast," I worried. Angel met my gaze and nodded. I had no clue if the Blazer Arena was scheduled for something that night, but the Federation could easily wield the pressure to make the owner give up the slot. Getting men to show up wasn't too difficult. They simply downloaded the invitations to our phones, along with the metro routes to take from home or work.

With my clothes laid out, I trundled off to take my shower. Had I not kept one fearful eye, and ear, on the door, I would have been happier. I dried off, got dressed and went to the kitchen where Angel and Capri were standing around, not talking. I checked my messages. There was my MAL invitation along with the date for my Civilian Affairs review – my termination hearing.

After several agonizing minutes in silence, Capri finally spoke up.

"What's the plan?" she asked.

"For starters," Angel broke in, "always assume they are listening in."

"As Angel said and right now, we wait," I answered.

"I'm hardly the guy who is going to bring society crashing down. Our goal remains the same – escape. Escape implies there not being enough resources around to run us down."

"This is so wonderful," Capri remarked sarcastically. "Last week I could happily consider all of this a paranoid fantasy. Yesterday I saw a Writ of Exclusion and I have to admit, it scared the hell out of me."

A Writ of Exclusion was the legal vehicle that voided all of a person's civil rights. It was normally used in cases of Treason and Espionage, but in the heyday of the Male Retribution Army, the government had used it broadly to break that terrorist organization. In the decade following the Great Die-out, there had been a small number of men around with police and military training who were now denied their chosen profession.

They organized; the government countered with a plethora of legal means to break those groups then some of those frustrated men went underground. The second time around, the men used all sort of legal means to stymie investigations and being former law enforcement, they knew so many tricks of the trade.

I doubted I would ever know what really happened – whether the proto-MRA turned militant first, or if the introduction of the Writs of Exclusion turned them that way. What few people remember is that over half of the first sheaf of Writs were against women. They were supporting the proto-MRA legally, morally and financially – mothers, sisters, friends and wives.

Eventually, the women were released because the purpose had been to remove them from the equation until the Federation could deal with the men. A whole new regimen of drugs were introduced and the men were 'corrected'. A few of the survivors lashed out violently against Federation agents and buildings and most fell horribly, or were rounded up.

Had the MRA ever been right, that's when it went off the rails. In Spokane Washington, a (girl's) soccer team was coming back from a match when its bus blew up. The footage of firewomen pulling the burnt bodies of high school athletes out of the wreckage is what would forever be in the forefront of women's minds when they thought of men resisting.

"Israel has had that happen to him twice," Angel sighed.

"What – oh, the whole court-required therapy," Capri noted. During that time, I was always treated with respect, but I could never say 'no' to any part of my schedule. Drugs, therapy, or education – I never had a choice, reprieve, or recourse. I had been a ward of the state.

I cleaned my bowl, stuck it in the dishwasher – I'd run it tomorrow. After that, I quietly gathered a few more dowels and my satchel and stopped to stare at the door.

"I'm with you, Israel," Capri assured me from my side.

"Israel, I could..." Angel started.

"Get some sleep. Tonight is likely to suck and Seneca will need you at your best," I said. I turned and kissed Angel good-bye, took a deep breath...and started whistling. I kept it up all the way to the metro station. I knew they would be waiting for me, my fellow commuters, but I did have an unexpected surprise.

As I went from the sidewalk to the metro station itself, two men joined me, complete with some sort of carrying device and a handle-wrapped dowel. I had no idea who they were. I couldn't. Had we communicated, the cops most likely would have preempted us.

"Kenny," the shorter, stockier man introduced himself. "Luanga," he tapped the chest of his African-American companion.

"I guess you know who I am," I said. I was still cautious. Men were hardly a universal brotherhood. "This is Capri, my lawyer and a good friend. How are you two doing today?"

"Kenny and I were thinking," Luanga smiled, "that today might be a little rough for you and that maybe a little solidarity was in order – peaceful, of course," he added while smacking his baton in his palm.

Both men were older than me, a bit shorter and by no means bulky; hardly what classic hulking male bodyguards were supposed to look like. They both worked at a ceramics factory on the far side of the district – second shift. They had no real plan other than some vague idea that I'd be safer with three batons instead of one. They assured me they had no ideas about 'kicking ass'.

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