at the Parade Bernie Sanders combs his hair, takes a breath, and prepares to bumrush the stage. security stops him.
Emma Gonzalez: sorry man, no adults allowed. this is of the kids, for the kids, and most importantly by the kids. it's like an episode of Degrassi, the number-one rule in that bible was never have the problem solved by an adult, the adult couldn't help and was often portayed as goofy, it had to be solved by a teen or group of teens. but thank you your distraction has given me more time to collect my butterflies.
Bernie: i will be a Saunders if it appeals to you British types. wait is this the one in London?
Bernie's hair and paper flutter away.
Emma collects her thoughts silently when suddenly JUST THEN President Bump catches Bernie's paper and proceeds with his own speech. he spends six minutes trying to dislodge the microphone from its holster but that thing is stuck to the podium. strangely there is no reverb when he talks.
Bump: you know this looks more like a March than a Parade. i stand with you today in solidarity. this is your safe space. it's a gun-free zone...
Emma: it's in March, dummy! this ain't no charity, it's real life. my friends are six-feet-under and breathless as we speak. you're standing on them!
Bump: hey i'm all for the March of Dimes i like them they only ask for a dime from me.
the security along the edges is getting restless as they hold the bean shape of the children in. the soldiers wear red blank baseball caps and march to attention at the whispered command of their constitutional leader. they pull out war weapons and the kids go bonkers scurrying around tall plants and running to the hills for cover. the battlefield bleeds green.
soldiers: *in eerie airy voices* hop to. you say march? march!
they take off their sunglasses to reveal pink sunglasses and they aim their high-powered rifles at the President. red dots abound, they turn their scopes off to increase the challenge.
soldiers: hop to, Mr. President. time to leave, no adults allowed.
Bump: *hands up, high so they can see them* okay okay i know when i'm beat. i'm tired. i'm going to Mara where i can have McDonald's in donors' mansions on tablecloths that are one big long napkin in peace. i can talk policy with my friends who are all lined up by the pool with white schmutz on their noses and headjacks on and they're falling inbetween the rubber slats of their long lawn lounge chairs. they're nice and quiet when i ask for advice. they actually listen for long stretches what i have to say. i know when i'm not wanted.
Emma: but do you know when you're not needed?
Bump: i was gonna say i know where i'm not wanted.
soldiers: this is why we have crowd control. and why we are the crowd control.
Bump descends the dais under gunpoint and it takes awhile for the scared crowd to scatter back in. so the organizers declare this the breakfast break. when they return the kids seem reenergized. they've been through multiple traumas. Emma continues with her stagecraft.
she gets up and pushes the button on her phone. she's wearing ripped jeans with white threads at the knee, a shirt with a lime-green Spider-Man on it, and her legs are a little chunky. perfect for what she is about to do. she likes that the camera is gonna focus on her ass for she will not speak for six minutes. the drones are confused as they fly around her butt and silent face.
she stands there, eyes closed, not a word, and from that closed eye a lone tear rolls down her mammoth cheek on the big screen. she is a monument to courage and raw pain. she doesn't need to say anything, her face will be immortalized in protest posters and later in newspapers and finally in stone. she's so cool she doesn't need to raise her fist.
she just walks off the stage. her phone beeps at six minutes and immediately everyone in the crowd uses their phones to snap a pic of Emma's phone cos Emma's phone will instantly become a collector's item.
the first person she hugs backstage is Shepard Fairey.
Shepard: now who you gonna fuck? your motionless face just then is gonna be more famous than Obama's bald head. i'm gonna immortalize you and paint your face in rainbow colors!
Emma: i'm already Mexican so rainbow fits.
Shepard: then who you gonna fuck? your face will be plastered everywhere, on plaster coffee mugs and phone cases!
Emma: i kinda wanted to get with Ariana Grande. i wanted to get up next to her and rub shoulders with her literally but the mob onstage beat me to it. my damn stubby legs couldn't get there fast enough.
Emma's speech, or non-speech testament to the silence of death, inspires and breaks the ice and the rest of the kids have great speeches and the day is a total success.
there's the funny class-clown red-head kid who gets up there and thanks his uncle Myron but not before almost harming the cause with this speech out of the blue. and red and pale singed skin:
Red: not Gerard. i'm not a jock i'm just a student who was minding his business a month ago. teachers need to be armed........................
the kid crowd is confused and sobbing.
Red: ................with fucking books and a decent paycheck so they can feed their kids and not have to strip!
the kid crowd erupts in awkward laughter. the parents are too busy cheering and "i know that's right" nodding they forget to cover their kids' ears.
Emma: nice redheadfake there, my friend.
turns out Red's Uncle Myron was the original actor cast in the role of Ron Weasley but JK thought him too old to play the part though he was quite good and had the chops and the chips. he was 43. they couldn't fatten his face anymore with computers.
a prominent activist with a slow stumble who almost died is learning to live a second life and is noticeable for her walking cane and live frame. a girl with a boy's name, for extra authority.
Sam: i feel so nervous up here. i'm not used to the stage. all i want to do, to know i did a good job, that it was successful, is spill my guts out..........................................well i just spilled my guts out in front of a global tv audience, i barfed so messily and swirly onstage i lost 15 pounds.
Sam vomits onto Bump's shiny new spit shoes.
Sam: i thought you were gone. told to get outta here.
Bump: missed my flight.
Sam: sorry but this is your fault. i ate your frozen steaks which came in my mail last night.
Bump: you're supposed to unfreeze them first. but you ain't got no heat.
Bump tries not to look but can't keep his gaze away. at his shoes.
the March ends by having everyone join single-file in a line and storm the Capitol.
Emma: now this is what it is. no it's not a March, this is a Rally!
the Rally snakes its way like a sally onto the Mall. everyone from every walk of life celebrity and noncelebrity joins in. Emma talks with her fellow celebrities.
there's the girl from that Xfinity ommercial who wants to fuck Torin Yater-Wallace even though she's underage. and walking with her hand-in-hand is Torin Yater-Wallace.
Emma: so how are you enjoying the March For Our Lives? are you having the time of your lives?
Xfinity girl: the Ghana one was better but this was cool, too.
Emma: uh, thanks. so he's your boyfriend as you always wished?
Xfinity: yep. we made love here under the lone star and many moons last night. under the dying elm tree. under Torin's bigass warm sponsor blanket, he's a winter athlete you know.
Emma: take it from me, honey, it doesn't last forever! the Winter Olympics were amazing congratulations Torin.
Torin covers his face with his mask and acts inconspicuous and suspicious.
Xfinity girl: what my boyfriend Torin is trying to say is that he tried to watch the Paralympics, too, afterward, but Xfinity didn't carry it.
Jason from DC All-Access joins the walking line.
Jason: formerly of the job.
Emma: Inman i heard about you! what happened? and why are you here?
Jason: i'm pumping gas again. i have a Mario hat that i wear for work now. but i do it all for the love of comics. and i'm still technically a young person so these issues concern me.
Emma: i'm a technical virgin. i admire that, a geek not out for the money. but all you had to do was close your youtube channel. wasn't your DC job your dream job?
Jason: sadly, i made more money off my youtube channel than i did at that job.
Emma: next time you gotta write the comics not just critique the comics. that's truly creating content.
and the geek with glasses, the pink punk from Cambridge Analytica slides into the sway fray as well.
Emma: some in the media have branded you a traitor.
Pinko: so what? who cares?
Emma: that's what we're in now, whether we like it or not. media activism. i can't remember the last time i did homework. for school anyway.
Pinko: "My My My". if i was confused before that song took me over the top. i know who i am and that boy is scorching. so yeah i guess i tattled. i was getting sick of going to all those strip clubs. straight strip clubs throw in an Australian every once in a while. so sue me. well actually no don't sue me. who cares? Encyclopedia Dramatica needed to be shut down have you seen that vile site?
Emma: any regrets?
Pinko: i have to poo in a black-sand basin in the Egyptian desert with Jojo. my poops get censored for some reason. the basin is connected to the Secret Pink lava lake i went there once on vacation and it was so envigorating it inspired this pink hair of mine. that's all. it's a life of hiding.
Paul McCartney slides in from New York. with his haughty gentlemanly stroll.
Paul: a friend of mine lost his precious inimitable life to gun violence. imagine the consequences we are all suffering now. just down the street from here. we are all one.
Emma: working on new music, Sir Paul?
Paul: i don't want to talk about that here. it's hard being the last surviving Beatle. it's a burden. a Beatle Burden.
Emma: what about Ringo?
Paul: oh yeah. i always forget about Ringo.
Emma diverges the group and approaches the stage again. she bows her bald head and takes a moment of silence for herself. Cameron and Jaclyn hug her from behind which startles her.
Emma: this has been crazy.
she hugs Cameron goodbye.
Cameron: i see how it is.
she hugs Jaclyn goodbye, too.
Emma: no you don't. it's not about what kind of person he or she is, it's are you a kind person? i need people now, people to hang onto. that's it, just people, doesn't matter what type. or if they are my type. this is just the beginning, the hard part hasn't started or assed itself yet. i need my people to plunge the pitfalls with me. and perk me up, ply me with coffee when i fall off my perch. i need to be single right now. i need to be alone with my thoughts. think about what i'm gonna do next. it's not gonna be any college that i recognize. justice is a lonely road. pure justice is the loneliest road. i should have went with that in my speech instead.
the kids disperse for the summer and never see each other again. sure there are plans to meet and organize at Berkeley but everyone's always too busy. they text but it's not the same, they never touch each other again. text but never touch. scroll but never slide into each other. that's the thing with singular moments in time, they're just that. never to be replicated. never to be duplicated. you better take the picture before someone takes it for you.
but one memento remains, hanging onto the moment like a stubborn sequin. Jennifer Hudson is still on that stage, freestyling her half-singing/half-spoken word poem of fire to this day. she's on her 100th verse of her life story interwoven with silk and sorrow from her street life of tragedy and triumph. the street never meets the stage, the stage merely talks about it. the stage remains raised. it's like that R Kelly song about a closet door which kept going and going and going but was never as inspired as that first verse when the door was closed and trailed off as the wet yellow newspaper headlines faded.
Jennifer Hudson continues singing her song under the D.C. moonlight. to an audience of nobody.