Stan started hauling the security rope to the top. Stella was cutting out to the back with Ralphie before the soldiers or Sheriff’s posse knew about the unchained rear gate. They’d be our reconnaissance out in the world, when, and if, people were arrested. Stella was in her third year of pre-law at Columbia and had traveled all the way from New York City to help them. No one saw the two as they slipped into the forest. But only a few minutes later a deputy started wandering around and found the opening. He returned quickly to the crowd to tell the Sheriff. National Guardsmen came to secure the gate before the supervisor arrived and drew the chain through, locking the passage.
The Albany news helicopter had landed on the far side of the parking lot where a few acres of lawn ended in the wide graveled edge of the river. Dispiritedly the rim sitters heard more helicopters and saw in the distance they were green. Jennifer’s balloon of smugness popped when she realized they would haul them off the rim. For some nonsense reason, she had felt secure and untouchable watching the bedlam below. People on the ground were holding on to one another in twos and threes to make it harder to pick off individuals. She heard a scream from the far side of the rim and watched as a helicopter lowered and a soldier with a body sling descended by a cable towards a woman in a green down parka. No one wanted to plummet to his or her death by struggling. People started to disappear, one by one.
Jennifer was not going to leave her backpack behind. Hauling it up from the maw of the cooling tower she put on the rest of her clothes from the outside pockets, heaved it over her shoulders, and buckled it snugly to her body. When the soldier came for her she knew what to do from watching the ten people before her. Falling backwards into the sling, she pulled the sides together over her body and was lifted skyward.
Where were they going? Jennifer could guess. Off loaded from the helicopter, they had been put onto a bus. Heading East on Rt. 17J she had a better idea, the Geneseo Giants stadium where the “B” league Giants played. They stopped in the parking lot of the ballpark. Four soldiers stood at the doorway assisting people from the bus and more lined the walkway to the gate entrance. If you wanted to run there was nowhere to hide in the big empty fields around the stadium. And these buff military men and women… Jennifer could see now there were some green women scattered among the men… they would surely catch you. She longed for her bicycle.
Once inside, the sheriff’s uniformed staff processed people, taking drivers licenses and student ID’s from every booked person. Jennifer had to relinquish her backpack, but only after she insisted she get a tag to reclaim it when the time came. The clerk looked with disgust at this chirpy, assertive, gamine in front of her, and silently handed her a ticket. As she was processed, Jennifer had put the other two tuna sandwiches in her shirt with the rest of the oatmeal raisin cookies. She was so bulky with extra clothes nobody would notice.
They filed into the seats of the stadium. Jennifer looked for Stan, with no luck, but saw a few other people she knew and climbed over six rows to get to them. The soldier in charge of the section kept looking her way for the next two hours. She broke apart her tuna sandwiches and gave pieces to her friends and broke the cookies up too. All the supplies were left at the site. None of the ground forces had eaten since the feast they’d had pre-dawn.
Another busload of people arrived full of excitement because they had been interviewed and had their pictures taken for the news. Jennifer’s stomach sank. What would she say to Peter if he saw her on the news? He’d know she wasn’t touring factories. Was that the way to start a relationship? She slumped in her seat.
Roxy, another student in the ceramics college, saw Jennifer’s shoulders cave. With an eye on the guard, she hopped down one bleacher level at a time inching her way to her side.
“Hey there, fire queen.”
Jennifer looked up, “Roxy, howdy!”
Just seeing the colorfully dressed art student made Jennifer smile. Roxy’s hair was strawberry blonde and knotted messily atop her head. She had on a puffy, red, down jacket. Under which a 1930’s green, black, and white snowflake patterned ski sweater covered a white turtleneck. Below was a green and white striped full skirt over a petticoat with a lace edge and black tights. She wore highly tooled black cowboy boots. Her mittens were green.
Jennifer admired Roxy’s get up and lamented how practical she’d become. Abandoning the drama of dress a few years back when she’d changed her major from architecture to ceramics. Working three jobs to fund a school she ended up not going to made her a realist. Where had her romance gone? But here was Roxy, glitterati to the grad students, groupie to the M.F.A.’s, in a world not her own.
“What’s new?” asked Jennifer.
“Oh, I’m filling out forms to get into Tyler for grad school. I want to be in Philadelphia to be near Chris.”
Chris Guston was her current boyfriend, the son of Philip Guston, the abstract expressionist painter. Roxy was attracted to Art Royalty. She had whiskey dinners in her round house, with1920’s jazz. It was actually round. Built by a transcendentalist architect in 1850. She liked Cole Porter, was daring in her artwork, and more of a risk taker than Jennifer. Roxy actually thought Jennifer was prissy, but respected her as a good designer and ceramic chemistry whiz. She was the first person most people came to in the undergrad studios when they had problems with glazes or techniques.
“So you want to be a professor eventually?” surmised Jennifer.
“Well I’d rather teach than figure out what people want to buy.”
It was a subtle dig at Jennifer’s purpose filled ceramic goals, but she didn’t mind, Roxy was… Roxy.
“Have you solved your bubbling problem in your pink rutile glaze?” inquired Jennifer.
“No, but more to the point, what’s going to happen to us? I’ve never been arrested for anything.”
Not Jennifer. She and her mother had been put in jail after a peace demonstration against the Vietnam War in front of the Federal Building in downtown Cleveland her last year of high school.
“We were just booked.” explained Jennifer, ”Once everyone is processed, we’ll be brought before a judge who will level charges and state our bail amount for us. We come up with the bail, we get our stuff, and go home. Then come back when there’s a trial.“
“What if you can’t come up with the bail money?”
“Then they usually keep you in jail.”
Roxy looked worried.
“Rox, there are a few hundred people here. There’s no way they have a jail big enough for all of us. My guess is they cannot wait to get rid of this gang. They’ll processes us. It was civil disobedience, but the sticky wicket is, we trespassed on a nuclear facility – nuclear materials are part of our country’s defense, that’s an automatic felony. We didn’t break anything or vandalize the plant. Though I know those banners will be held as evidence and I’m responsible for those.”
“Great signs! Where did you get the materials? What classroom did you paint in? Did you use special paint?”
Jennifer didn’t know which question to answer first.
The stands had been steadily filling. Now the roar of hundreds of people talking, complaining, crying, and laughing made it hard to talk. A National Guardswoman was setting up a microphone and podium in the center of the stadium. Within a half hour the sheriff and head honcho of the green people were up front speaking to the assembled. A man in a navy suit stood nearby.
The Sheriff, Tom Downey, had been in office for ten years. Never in his jurisdiction had anything of this magnitude happened. He was relieved The National Guard joined in when his deputy called their base in Buffalo, secretly appreciating how to deal with this many criminals. He was happy to share the podium with their Commander.
The Geneseo County Sheriff was dressed in a khaki uniform shirt with a badge on the pocket and brown pants. His hair was thick and brown, but recently cut short. The National Guard Commander wore olive green fatigues with gold bars on his shoulder. His thick-rimmed black glasses sat upright on his nose. Everyone got quiet. It was twilight by now and people were hungry, cold, and tired.
The Sheriff spoke, “Thank you for your attention and peaceful occupation of the stadium after booking. We’re going to get you going very shortly. However there are a few of you, you know who you are, who will accompany me to the jail for the night. There’s a bank of pay phones near the restrooms. We’ll let ten of you go at a time. You may need to call to have bail paid for you. Bail is $1000 per person.”
Tom Downey nodded to the man in the suit. Jennifer thought it might be the judge.
Roxy whimpered and wrung her gloved hands together.
Jennifer needed to call the house and get to Jillian. She’d be able to get her checkbook out of her upstairs desk drawer and drive to Corning. No way was she calling her father. If Roxy needed a loan, Jennifer could help. At the phones she called the house and Anne answered. Jillian was at the studios. Anne didn’t have a car, Jillian did.
Anne said, “I could ask Peter if he could drive there with it. “
“No! No! Don’t do that” replied Jennifer a little too fervently, “Could you go to the studios and get Jillian? I’ve been arrested.”
“OH God! But I guess I thought that might happen. It just seems so abstract when you watch some one create props for a demonstration as a daily activity and then they are done, disappear, and….”
“Anne, Anne, could you go get Jillian?”
“OK, where are you?”
“The Geneseo Giants Baseball Stadium, east of Corning on 17J. “
“Will she know how to get there?”
“Anne, Jillian is (she was going to say ’more practical than you, but rephrased) good at reading maps. She’ll know how to get there.”
Back at their seats, Jennifer consoled Roxy and told her she’d help her if she didn’t have the money. They gossiped, sang songs, and talked about sex.