Monday, November 3, 2014

Jokers To The Right

Eve had a bound journal in front of her as she stood at the teacher's desk in the schoolhouse in the Fort. Amanda stood near her, the other residents of the Fort sat in the benches facing her. A fire muttered and sparked in the fireplace behind her, lending a decent amount of warmth to the room, and lanterns set on the window sills gave plenty of light despite the weight of the winter darkness outside.

The children were in the back, and Val was amusing Baby by having her settled on his lap in the rocking chair Amanda had set up for him and sharing a picture book together. The other children were valiantly trying to be grown up enough to be at the meeting.

So we have a number of new people, so let's all stand one by one and introduce ourselves,” Eve said. “Obviously I am Eve Aubrey. I'm over in the Commander's house.”

Ed Bender sneered again, and Lila looked around nervously to see if anyone noticed. She saw only the short Native midwife even glance at them.

Eve pointed to Amanda, and the young woman introduced herself, then pointed at Travis, who was sitting closest to them, and the introductions went around the room in a fairly orderly fashion. Val and Baby both ignored their cues, so Eve introduced them.

Ok, so I'll act as the meeting manager, almost like this is one big IEP,” Eve said, and chuckled, then looked abashed when no one else but Amanda seemed to get the joke. “An IEP is an educational plan for special needs kids,” she explained, lamely. Ben smiled encouragingly. “So, we are going to have a meeting like this every third night for now,” she said. “And all the adults need to be here -”

So you're not gonna have all these noisy kids here next time?” Ed said loudly.

Ben turned to shoot him a dirty glance. “Do not interrupt our Glorious Leader.”

I don't see how she-” Ed began, and Amanda slammed a yardstick down on the teacher's desk. Eve jumped back, startled, and Ed fell silent.

In the interest of orderliness, Eve is managing this meeting,” Travis said, mildly. “She's been here longest, and Gary appointed her the leader.”

Eve cleared her throat. “Ok. I need to stop saying ok. First, Travis and Ben have compiled a list of jobs that need to be done daily, and I've made a calender for the next three days on the blackboard behind me here. When we get everyone assigned, I'll draw it all up properly and hang it up on this bulletin board over there between the windows. There's twelve main jobs, some of which need several people. And then there's patrolling. There's ten of us who could probably patrol if we include Will and Haley.”

Will winced to be considered the same ability level as the slightly younger pregnant girl.

Um!” Ben's hand shot up.

Ben?” Eve said, patiently, pointing to him to acknowledge his need to speak.

He stood up. “I'm going to suggest we keep Dana and Haley off the patrol list. Haley's going to need more rest right now and Dana is our medic. We need her alert if someone is injured.”

I'm a midwife, actually,” Dana said, standing up.

Travis turned to her. “We need you to stay seated and raise your hand,” he said, firmly. She sat down quickly and raised her hand.

Eve gestured to Ben to sit back down, then pointed at Dana. “Dana.”

Dana stood up again. “Actually, I am a midwife, not necessarily a medic.”

This is ridiculous!” Ed snapped, and Travis turned to him.

It's not your turn.”

Ed muttered under his breath.

Closest we got right now,” Eve said. “And you do know your stuff. You keep patching the young people up.”

Ben's hand shot up again, and he wiggled a little in his spot. Amanda glared at him, but it didn't slow him down any. Dana glanced at Ben, up at Eve, gave a short nod of agreement, and sat back down.

Eve turned back to Ben, pointed at him, and said his name. He shot up. “That's what I mean. She's the midwife, she's got two pregnant girls to take care of, and we need her alert enough to also patch us all up. So I think those two should be exempt from the patrol.” He sat back down, finally relaxed. Behind him Haley's hand shot up.


The teenager gave Ben a mutinous look as she stood. “I can patrol.” She sat down and crossed her arms over the small mound of her belly.

Dana raised her hand again.


She would be fine for about two more months yet, I think,” she said. “I wouldn't want her up on the Round Tower or anything – your balance changes as your pregnancy progresses. But she could patrol other places.”

Ok,” Eve said. “So here's the tentative plan. We'll do patrols of three hours each. First patrol will always include Haley, and she'll sit up on the catwalk. Whoever is drawn with her will take the Round Tower. After three hours the next two will come on, and we'll draw groups, and one of each group will take the catwalk and the other the Round Tower. If that sounds fair, raise your hand.”

Wait, who gets to vote?” Ed asked loudly. Dana, Ben, and Travis turned to him. “I know it's not my turn,” he snapped. “But everyone's gonna be raising their hand to vote in a moment and no one would have seen I was trying to ask a question.”

It's fine,” Eve said. “Sixteen and up.”

Yes!” Will said under his breath.

Aw...” Kat muttered.

Daria raised her hand tentatively. Eve recognized her and Daria levered herself awkwardly to her feet, on hand supporting her enormous belly.

Miss Eve, I'm fifteen.”

That's too bad,” Ed said, still seated. “Fifteen and pregnant. Bad enough. She don't need to vote.”

Dana whipped around to bare her teeth at Ed. “Everything we discuss affects her and her baby.”

Lila piped up. “No, Ed's right, she's too young and she clearly makes bad choices anyway.”

The people on the benches began to argue amongst themselves until Amanda shouted. “ENOUGH.”

Thank you,” Eve said to Amanda. “Do we need to do a secret ballot? What age should be the cut off?” The others nodded to each other, murmuring assent. Eve passed out paper and pencils, and Amanda collected the votes in a basket, adding her own before she collected the others.

Eve tallied the votes on the chalk board, showing each ballot to the group.

That's one each for the cut off age being twenty one, six, eighteen, eleven, and ten. That's two for fifteen. That's six for sixteen and two abstaining, Baby and Val.”

Wait, the retard gets a vote?” Ed interrupted. Eve turned to look at him, her face red.

Yeah, you sure do, Ed,” Amanda said, raising her voice. Ed stood up, his face turning nearly as red as Eve's.

Travis and Ben stood up and turned to face him down.

You are here by Eve's choice,” Travis said, his voice again so calm Amanda knew he was furious. “I'd suggest you use respectful language when talking about her children.”

Lila stood up beside Ed. “He didn't mean anything bad by it. Ed is good to the retarded kids. He donates in the jar at the corner store all the time and give his quarters to-”

EVERYBODY SIT DOWN,” Eve thundered. Travis and Ben waited until Ed and Lila obeyed before doing the same.

You,” Eve said, pointing at Ed. “My son is not 'the retard”. His name is Valiant James Aubrey and you may call him Val, but you will not again refer to him the way you just did.”

Fucking sensitive,” Ed muttered. Lila laughed nervously.

This is a safe place and we all need to live here in cooperation and peace,” Eve snarled. “The voting age is sixteen. Now everyone who thinks the patrol plan is fair RAISE YOUR DOGGONE HANDS. Thank you. Passed. Now on to the rest of the agenda.” She took a deep breath and visibly released all of her pent up upset.

Hate dat guy,” Val whispered to Baby.

Book!” Baby yelled.

Val carefully kissed Baby's head, and opened her book to share with her.

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