This is the ninth installment in Peter’s “Bum Logic” series, about his investigation into our inadvertent complicity in climate change, continued from his last post, The Survivalist Meeting, Redux.
Through no fault of my own, time conflated. When it re-precipitated, my cell phone calendar told me that a week had been burnt since Mr. McKibben had come a-calling. My short term memory told me I was pulling a small cart. That motor-less vehicle was definitely designed to live a comfortable life inside an office space, but now it was being towed up Grand Avenue, close to the gallbladder of the beast that is Los Angeles. It, the cart, was laden with two bowls of ferociously saccharine fruit salad. The bow and stern were festooned with placards reading The CommonLuck Theater of Dramatic Nourishment, port and starboard emblazoned with the words In Solidarity with the Keystone XL Blockade. All textual messages were recognizably in my aesthetic: black Sharpie ink manually applied to white printer paper.
Looming on the horizon were the two towers of the California Plaza. Upon glimpsing them I had a “Wishbone” moment, a flashback to the Public Broadcast Service of my formative years, a waking literary dream. I saw myself as a Jack Russell Terrier. I imagined that dog imagining that it was The Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha. I imagined the towers to be windmills. Then my fantasy shattered. Its Achilles’ heel? No Sancho Panza equivalent.
Undeterred by reality’s return, I strode on and entered the lobby of the northern tower. That space had at its core a bank of elevators. Approaching those vertical conduits, I locked eyes with a short and plump Latina lady garbed in archetypal costume of security: slacks, white button down, blue blazer, name badge, hip-holstered radio.
“Delivery?” she preempted.
“Yes, for McKenna, Long, and Aldridge,” I responded.
“You have to go down stairs and check in.” At that she held a door open for me and intimated that she wanted me to cross its threshold.
I complied and found myself alone in a linoleum-floored space, defined by right angles, and bordered on one side by a freight elevator. It opened and I was greeted by a thirty-something black man sitting in a folding chair.
“Checking in?” he asked.
“Yup,” I answered.
Once I was safely on board, he pressed a button. The doors closed and I experienced a sinking sensation in my stomach.
“Would you by any chance like some fruit salad?” I offered the man as I removed the covering to a bowl and served myself.
He smiled at my gesture and peeked at his potential prize. Enticed he said, “Yes, thank you.”
I served him a helping and then exited that space, for my destination had been reached: a loading dock. To my left, I saw a line of folks wearing the uniforms of the delivery profession. FedEx and UPS were there, but so too was a flower delivery guy and some dude with grocery bags that reeked of “Chinese.” I saw them seeing me as I joined the queue, so, naturally, I offered them fruit salad.
When my time came, I presented myself to the ‘cop-ishly’ dressed mustachioed middle-aged white fella of a security guard, sitting behind a desk that appeared to have been recently saved from the Salvation Army.
“Who’s it for?”
“McKenna, Long, and Aldridge.”
“What’s your company?”
“The CommonLuck Theater.”
“They expecting you?”
“What is it?”
“Fruit salad. Want some?”
After accepting a serving and assuring me my mission would end in failure, he picked up the phone. Seconds later he confirmed my failure.
Back outside, I sat down. I flipped back the pink protective cover of my iPad, which it should be noted has the likeness of a Wendy’s hamburger on the back. I don’t cut corners and I don’t eat apples. I smiled at the background image of myself holding a fourteen-inch rainbow, but quickly proceeded to locating the telephone number of the targeted law firm.
This is likely a little late into this prose for a backstory, but fuck it. For those of you out of the know, McKenna, Long, and Aldrige represent the interests of TransCanada, a foreign corporation attempting to thrust a pipeline through the soft wholesome center of Amurika. It is thanks to the legal voodoo of M, L, and A, academic citation pun intended, that Eminent Domain is being leveraged by the thrusters against landowners who consider themselves pro-choice.
Having located the appropriate number, I dialed in, and, on the answering machine of the law firm’s public relations lady, Teresa Cherman, left this message: “Hello, my name is Peter Nichols, I am a student at the California Institute of the Arts, and I’m curious as to how you find it reasonable to engage in a symbiotic relationship with a company as parasitic as TransCanada? Again, I am a student and eager to better understand the world in which I live. Perhaps my premises are flawed. If that is the case, please educate me. I can be reached at 419-__-____. Thank you kindly.” I ended my recording and smiled at the most militant looking security guard I’d yet seen.
“Want some fruit salad?”
Later that day, I grinned. I saw a picture of my quixotic cart on www.tarsandsblockade.org. Then I gasped. I saw a video of an elderly lady, doing nothing more violent than standing her ground, taking a shot of pepper spray to the face.
Peter Nichols is a poet, rock climber, and vagabond originally from Toledo, Ohio.