Chapter 6

    "We ran that power plant," the sergeant continued, "for thirty years, never had a problem, not a hint of trouble!  We'd known about the problem with the emergency cooling system for ten years, but had kept it quiet. Then, one of the old technicians died, and the guy that the company hired was a Spir.  We kept him away from the cooling system for two damned years, then, without telling anybody one day he ran a computer simularization and found the fault.  The computer told him that if the emergency cooling system had to be used it would fail.  The pumps installed would not be strong enough to handle the back pressure, and blow out.
    We tried to explain to him that it was a misprogram in the computer, that we'd known about it for years and it was nothing serious.  But he went to The NRC!  The experts came in and declared the plant unsafe.  It would have to be shut down, until the pumps could be replaced, and it was just economically unfeasible to replace the pumps.  So they shut down a perfectly good nuclear power plant, devastated the economy of three states.
    We were desperate.  The guys on the shutdown crew knew that when the plant closed for good there was nowhere they could go. I guess that's what made us listen, when the North Koreans showed up...all that weapons grade plutonium in our bunkers!  So eight of us got in on it; six technicians and two security guards.  We modified a van, loaded the plutonium canisters in it, and four of us headed for the coast with it.
    Damn!  God damned drunk driver hit them, killed them all!  Two of the canisters were broke open.  They hauled the stuff to a junkyard in the middle of Los Angeles up wind of a kindergarten and a high school, and a hospital.  By the time anyone knew what was happening fifty thousand people had been contaminated!  Even when they knew people continued to be contaminated.  In the end there were seventy-eight thousand dead!  And there's parts of Los Angeles that no one will be able to live in for fifty-thousand years!
    I was on death row when they came looking for volunteers.  I didn't think they'd take any of us.  But when I offered they said fine.  If the damned Spir had left us alone left the power plant alone we would have never been that desperate.  We just wanted to keep providing for our families, that's all!"
    The sergeant fell silent, and continued to eat his beans.  The silence was finally broken when another sergeant spoke up.
    "Yeah," he remarked, "The Spir won't leave anybody alone, even if they're not bothering anybody else.  My brother was gay.  It wasn't anybody's business but his.  He never bothered anybody.  He had a good job.  Then this guy started working there, showed all the signs that he was gay.  My brother started hinting.  The guy told him to take a hike.  My brother really liked him, kept trying to be friendly.  The guy told him he was Spir, that they didn't believe in that sort of thing, and to knock it off.
    Well, this guy told his priest, or whatever in the hell they are, that my brother was gay and working for a company they were doing business with.  The priest came to the office, told my brother's boss that my brother was not to handle any of their business, that he had been propositioning one of their people and they didn't appreciate it.
    The boss called my brother in, asked him if he'd been harassing another employee..  My brother said he hadn't been harassing anyone, just hinted a couple of times that he'd like to be friends with the man.  The boss warned him there was to be no more of it, to keep his sexual preference at home.  Some of my brother's friends heard about it, saw this Spir guy on the street one day, and started mouthing off to him, telling him he was an asshole 'cause he wouldn't understand somebody else's feelings.
    A fight ensued.  The Spir guy and one of my brother's friends ended up dead.  The Spir went crazy, came down on the gay community in our town real bad, 'til finally most of 'em just picked up and left, or, went real deep under the covers.  My brother blamed himself for the whole mess.  I came home one day and found him hanging in the garage.
    The next Sunday I stormed into The Spiritist Church and went after them damned ministers with a baseball bat.  They gave me fifteen years for aggravated assault!  This ass ruined my brother's life because he was different and I get fifteen years!  The world's screwy, it's just completely screwy!  
    These babies I fire now do a hell of a lot more than a baseball bat!  I'll make an impression tomorrow...a BIG one!  They'll learn to leave other people alone!  God damn it, they'll learn!"
    A murmur of agreement went around the circle and everybody nodded.
    "How 'bout you, sergeant?" the major spoke up.  "Jose, isn't it?"
    "Sir!"  the sergeant answered, 'Yes sir!  It is Jose, Geraldo Jose. I'm Mexican Catholic.  We were driven out of Mexico after the Spiritualty revolution.  I had served with General Vafiades.  They accused me of taking part in massacres.  I escaped, fled north.  Have lived here ever since.  I went to a company picnic, didn't realize they were taking pictures.  They were put in the company newsletter.  We have a sister plant in Mexico.  The newsletters were passed around down there and one of the victims of these so-called massacres saw me, recognized me.

Page 10

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