They met at a little dive bar off Elston and Foster. Angelo was already there, hunched over a draft beer at the far end of the bar. The laconic middle-aged bartender was lost in a newspaper article to the opposite end. A couple of Mexican construction works sat a table together. A Bob Dylan song competed from the jukebox beside the door against traffic along Foster. The place was suitably dark.
Jack started across the room. He was feeling guilty over leaving Eva alone with the baby, and vowed to make this as quick as possible. Later he’d wish he’d never returned that call. He’d lament not turning around and going home. Another part of him would scrutinize the fateful and historic nature of what was to come. He’d dissect levels and implications and moralities. All of that would come later and with a hindsight he just could not conjure right now.
He scooted onto the stool beside Angelo. The two men shook hands.
Whaddya have?” asked Angelo, waving over the bartender. “It’s on me.”
Jack nodded as the bartender slapped down a Bud Lite coaster.
“India Pale Ale,” said Jack. Life was far too short to waste on cheap beer, he remembered someone saying once. He took a long first sip and felt the worst of the day dissolve. He looked to Angelo. Something was clearly weighing on him.
“So what’s up?”
Angelo thought a moment and pursed his lips thoughtfully. “Ask you a question? What are we doing?”
“You, me, I don’t know, this movement?”
“Not sure I follow,” said Jack.
Jack, I’m a results oriented person. Doesn’t seem to me like these people know what they’re doing? What’s changed? They were the news last fall, and now what?”
“That’s a bit short-sighted, don’t you think?” Jack had his own views of the Occupy Movement. This whole idea of an open Democracy could be cumbersome and frustratingly slow at times. There was a purpose to that, however. It helped prevent a single person from co-opting the movement, turning it from that open democracy into a cult of personality, like the Tea Party. Jack preferred to think it rather like embracing a cloud. It was possible to accomplish a great deal with patience, persistence, but most of all by gaining the trust and support of a democratic majority.
“Man, I want action,” Angelo began. “Blood in the streets, if that’s what it takes. Bust some heads, put some cops in the damned hospital if that’s what it takes!”
Jack looked uneasily to the bartender, noting the bent to the man’s brow.
“It’s a non-violent movement…” Jack began. Angelo quickly cut him off.
“Did you see Seattle, busting windows. Those guys in Cleveland? This is a war man, and until a few bank buildings come down and a few cops wind up in the hospital, especially here in Chicago, no one will pay any attention. Get me?’
Angelo was being loud and belligerent. Almost, it seemed to Jack, with calculated purpose. Hearing all this, the bartender threw down a bar towel and started over to the pair. As if on cue, Angelo stood and announced he had to take a leak. Jack turned and found himself trapped under the boiling gaze of the bartender. He shrank from it immediately.
“Listen, friend,” scolded the bartender, holding back as much as he was able, “tell your friend that we like cops in this establishment. We don’t go for that sort of crap here, and I won’t have it.” He leaned close as if to underscore the point. “Don’t recall ever seeing you here before, and I just as soon you don’t come back, unless you’d like to come by when some of the boys come in off duty. See how tough you are then.”
“No problem here,” said Jack, climbing off the stool. He fished in his pocket for a ten spot and dropped it on the bar. He wasn’t waiting for Angelo to return. He didn’t need any of this. Jack turned and left the bar. Out on the street, fuming, he took a couple of deep breaths and started for the car. He couldn’t know that he was being set up. All he knew was that he was done with Angelo, and that as soon as he could would alert someone in the movement to his violent rhetoric before it was too late.