The bartender was slammed with orders.
The crowd was riveted to the TV screen.
The had come to the bar to watch sports. What is sports but a pale imitation of war? What was unfolding in front of them was war-in-real-time.
It was the first time the bartender had ever received an order for a pitcher of premium scotch-and-waters.
The manager called his peers at the other Corporate locations.
They had recently received an email informing them that the quarterly Profit-sharing incentive was projected to be zero due to slow sales.
A large part of that profit-sharing was based on regional sales. Corporate had recently made that change to increase manager’s willingness to shift employees between sites.
The manager called the other three outlets in the D.C. Metro area. Those managers turned one TV to the live-feed.
The bar-bills from those rooms blew up. They went off the charts. The customers were pre-buying the drinks for the night. Not knowing how long the riot would last, they over-bought by a generous amount. Who wants to be standing in line at the bar when the shit got real?
There was a generous sprinkling of military men in those bars, not unexpected in watering holes close to the Pentagon. “Holy FUCK!” one of them burst out. He recognized the distinctive silhouette of a Soviet RPG.
Alyssa questioned her sanity for the fifteenth time.
Her friend Katy had pushed all of her buttons. Katy’s Uncle Bert was trapped inside the Hall-of-Justice. Katy would have rescued Uncle Bert herself but her leg was in a cast.
Katy told Alyssa about Aunt Therese, Uncle Bert’s wife. Her doctor’s visit was cancelled back in March even though she was having difficulty producing a bowel movement and wasn’t eating anything.
By the time things opened up the cancer was everywhere. Even then Aunt Therese had an outside chance of beating it. The cancer, although aggressive was treatable.
The civil unrest made it less-than-prudent to go to big-city hospitals. She opted out of treatment.
She died three-weeks later from a cancer known to have a better than 75%, five-year survival rate.
Uncle Bert was a broken man.
Katy sent Alyssa pictures of her Uncle Bert. He looked like a fuzzy teddy bear.
Alyssa was 5’-7” and willowy. “Willowy” is an occupational hazard of people who are spinning and aerobics instructors. At age 31 she had given up on romance. The young men seemed to be looking for somebody to mother them.
Deep, deep in her soul she had always wanted children, a husband and yes, even a white picket fence.
Tonight, she was going to settle for saving a teddy-bear.
She let herself into the entryway in the southwest corner of the building using the visitor's key-card Katy’s father had given her.
Alyssa lowered her backpack to the floor and tucked herself into a poorly lit corner.
The backpack held a 4XL fluorescent, turquoise hoodie and a Where’s Waldo stocking cap.
The plan was to put him in disguise and then slip out the door. Then, they would look just like any one of a dozen other couples...slipping away and looking for a dark place to pursue romance.
International news media picked up the livestream out of Lansing. They found the old man daring the Marxists to a rematch. They ran that, too.
They also ran a small snippet of the CZZ footage from the chopper showing the eight men standing guard behind a row of Jersey barriers. The low definition footage had just enough detail where an observant man could see their rifles were being held port-arms.
The footage also showed a multitude of tents between and behind the men.
Once again, the mainstream media state-side had been out-scooped by CZZ. They saw their on-line audience dwindle. Following the cookies they saw it all going to CZZ...and an up-start streaming service.
Hell, free video that was even closer to the action than CZZ. CZZ’s competitors were on it like hobos on a basket of ham sandwiches.
The demonstrators were stretched out between Jenison and Lahoma when the power to the neighborhood dropped.
Unlike earlier demonstrations, nobody used torches made from rolls of toilet paper impaled on sticks and soaked in kerosene. They used LED camping lanterns held up on poles.
Individual protestors carried glow-sticks of various colors.
One of the military men in Maryland commented “I bet the colors mean something” referring to the glow sticks.
The on-line streaming first went dark, then flipped to NIR illuminated security cameras powered by commercial UPS units intended to keep personal computers running in the event of power outages.
One of the old-guys on the fire-fly channel piped Alex “Now?”
Alex responded “Not yet”.
It was a dance. The aggressors made a move. The defenders watched. The aggressors made a move. They watched. Like a snake watching the bird hop closer.
It was not time for the defenders to strike. Not yet, but soon, very soon.