|Voice of the People
Author: Fabian Cortez PM
An Epic story spanning decades and overcoming overwhelming odds. R Rated for content. R+RRated: Fiction M - English - Chapters: 6 - Words: 7,331 - Reviews: 35 - Updated: 09-10-04 - Published: 05-03-03 - id: 1294819
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Voice of the People
By Fabian Cortez
Tuesday July 4th 1950 - Chicago Illinois
She parked her car and walked toward the Dockyards where nobody was celebrating; what was there to celebrate? These people, from the sound of it, were almost out of a job and worked as much overtime as possible, regardless as to whether it was Independence Day or not. The place reeked of fish and grime and she hated it as she always had. She remembered the smell well as she had been taken here by her mother as a child and had hated it even back then. Now she was here for a different reason; now she was here to see if she could help these people.
She walked over to the familiar face of Will Barnes; he'd not attended the funeral as he never liked her Mother. As a child he had been kind to her and carried her around a while on his shoulders when she'd been there one day on a visit with her Mother. She had gone off to discuss something with the boss and left her just sitting on an old packing crate. After seeing her sitting there for 45mins he went over and spoke to her, then proceeded to give her a shoulder back tour. She'd loved it and felt safe and secure on his broad shoulders with his big strong hands clutching her legs to keep her steady. A few minutes later Edie came out and shouted at her for talking to him making her cry; at the same time she'd slapped Will across the face and bawled him out for interfering with her daughter.
Will would never have done such a thing though; he was still devastated ten years on after losing his own daughter Teresa; she'd been knocked down as some boys were running along the street. Her head bumped on the sidewalk and somehow it had caused a haemorrhage in her brain. She died three days later. He was never able to speak of it to anyone.
"Hi Will, it's been a long time, how are you?" she enquired softly.
"Oh, several years older, and not a lot wiser; I guess you can tell that though as I am still working here. Probably will till I'm called away though. Nothing else, I know how to do anyway, well that is except tinker with ma car, and that's held together with ticker tape and gum now, pretty much like me," he replied, with a sadness to his tone, and a smile in his eyes; that, although dulled by the years, remained consistent for the child he'd once momentarily, almost thought of as his own.
"You know why I'm here, I guess?" she enquired.
"Well yes, pretty much everyone here does. We been waiting for a response since Jamie over there, sent the letter. We talked about it, you know; decided it best that it came from her. She knew your Ma better than anyone. I couldn't write it ma-self. Never been too good with writing and such; never makes no never-mind anyway. I didn't really take kindly to her. Pretty much thought you might've felt the same way about me", he responded calmly, with a slight awkwardness in his manner, as he pointed to Jamie.
She was wiping perspiration from her forehead with her sleeve, as she sat down for a moment, taking a minor break from work.
Margaret looked on, considering what she might say. Her ideals were strong, as was her conviction, but this place brought back the pain of her loss. Memories of her mother's tenacity, and seemed indifference to her daughter's needs, racked her mind and she turned away and started back to her car.
"Miss, Miss Bowes! Please don't walk away; we need to talk to you. Margaret, you should know that your mother knew this was coming, she told us you would help!" Simon McGregor knew his shouted comments after her, would stop her in her tracks.
He never wanted to let the information out that way. He'd had no choice. Now he stood silent as she turned to face him.
"How dare you! How dare you use my Mother in that way," she said vehemently, then walked up to him, and slapped his face hard.
He didn't flinch, or show any sign of reaction, he merely placed his hand into his back pocket, and retrieved her Mother's letter, as he'd been keeping it for her.
"Like I told you before, at the funeral; she wanted you to have this; it explains everything," he said quietly, and proceeded to hand her the note.
This time she took it, and as tears welled up in her eyes, Simon turned quietly and walked away.
Jamie looked on, waiting for Margaret to read it.
Margaret, I know you think I was a lousy Mother and maybe I wasn't all I could have been. I wanted to make you strong and the only way I knew how to, was to be the way I was. Help prepare you for this tough Fucking world! I should've known you were already strong, you showed me that so often and I was too blind to see; but you are your Mother's daughter. I am proud of you; I just don't talk about it. You're doing what I never had the courage to do. Making something of yourself, away from these docks. Still, I had good times over the years there. Now I'm too damned ill to do anything.
All the same, I hope there is something I can do. I saw some men come in recently all dressed in dark suits. I know it sounds like something out of a Jimmy Cagney movie but they were. Anyway, it was when I went to ask for help; then I overheard them talking as I waited to go in.
They were talking of laying people off, most of the workforce. All through that damned Bill Richardson. He is going to be trouble, I can see it coming. I think this could be big Maggie, I really do. Well, you want a story, a story that will make you something, this is it; I'm sure of it, as the calluses on my hands.
Don't let them down girl; don't let me down. We need you to stop this man from wrecking these families' lives. Fight him for me. Get them together, all of them; get them together and fight. I'll stand with you, I would have done it myself, you know that; but I feel too damned ill lately. Now I need you. Help us Maggie. Give that Newspaper of yours something worth printing, be the voice of your people.
She finished reading and screwed the letter up in her hand. "When did she write this?" Margaret asked Simon curtly.
"It was shortly before she passed on, she would have talked to you, but she didn't feel it was possible and so felt more comfortable writing it down. I know it's a strange way to communicate with your own child when you're living with them. Well anyway, you knew your Ma", he replied; unable to look her in the face; concerned she might turn and leave.
Margaret stood tense for a moment, deep in thought; then, with the letter clenched in her fist, she looked about at the workforce on the docks. How she resented the hypocrisy of these people; it lay in each and every one of them. She knew only too well, that if there was a choice and another way, most of them wouldn't be here.
Yet she also knew that they would most likely never have a chance to do anything else. This was their bread and butter; the only way they would be able to live, and nobody had a right to take that away. Her mother knew it, and so did she. Her mother had felt so damned passionate about it, she had sworn. Something she almost never did.
"You shouldn't have waited so long to bring this to me", Margaret replied to Simon, diverting her gaze.
Without hesitation she turned about, walked over and climbed up on the platform the fish crates were being loaded onto. She then proceeded to call out in a voice that could be heard almost over the cranes and loaders from the dock.
"Everyone! Everyone! Everyone stop working! Stop working for a minute!" She paused and waited; then after a moment or two the noise calmed down and the machines stopped.
Margaret Bowes, looked around at everyone, amazed at how they all did as she asked; that they actually listened to her. Now with a greater feeling of pride and conviction flowing through her veins, she continued.
"I am here to help you!"