Salon’s Occupy Wall Street Fiction struck me as hitting a few too many expected notes. It’s an odd assignment, maybe, to make up stories about a story that is being made up for real and told in every medium right now, with all the suspense, character, coincidence, schemes, and dramatic irony (thank you, NYPD) you could ask for, and potentially the fate of the Republic. Which does make it a bit irresistible for storytellers. Two possibilities struck me: a personal narrative that begins with, or encounters the protest, but quirks off away from it to be narrowly about people. And speculative fiction. I chose the latter, because if there’s anything we can predict about #OWS, it’s surprise. Language seemed important, rhythm pace—that the story not simply be saying, “yep, look! Occupy Wall Street!” but adding something to the conversation, without being sentimental or trafficking in stereotypes.
It also seemed in the spirit of the human mic to make this a sort of telephone game story. Like it? Add to it! Because right now, I don’t know where they’re going.
There was the hurry of winter dusk, hands fiery and abrasive, rubbing dollars apart, me not bothering to count before thrusting the bills at the cabbie and sprinting scarfed to the __________ ATM lobby, one of the few we can frequent now, Peter with his card out to click us through quick, head bowed, hooded. Even here, you never know. And these long west side blocks. Nowhere to duck into unless Gabby or Deke are home and listening.
“Will said twenties this time.” I was speaking to stay warm, bouncing on my toes. “I guess easier to change. Less to lose.”
“Will can go home and clean up Australia, God knows it fucking needs it,” Peter said.
Not the time to remind him how in September—again and again until I had to say “Would you just reply to him already?”—Peter had showed us Will’s text, out of the blue as we stood for pizza: I want to do something. But it has to go through you. They had met in Chile, before the crash, Will sniffing out Sauvignons, Peter scratching up bus tickets and rides however he could. Peter’s art. I’ve never had it. Clipboard Jen. It took a week of fifteen-degree mornings to freeze the park overnighters out of saying that one. Another week like that could finish us and we all know it.
“Will could go down there if he wanted to,” Peter said.
“You haven’t even met him!”
“I don’t have—I can’t absorb it, Pete.”
It was on a call with two of our anon-ops—M48 and DBunk, the only handles we know them by—that we found out who Will worked for. I’d marveled, at Will’s guts.
“Easy for him,” Peter said. “He gets fired, he doesn’t have to work again.”
“Dude, four hundred k is nothing in this town.” DBunk said. “Why do you think he’s with us?”
I wondered how they knew Will’s salary.
Stupid me. Finding out, for us? That’s the easy part.
We take the N-R as far as Canal, ditch at the north stairs. Chinatown, end of day prices. We buy everything. Noodles, noodle soups, spring rolls, chicken and beef. No seafood. Protein.