– 7PM, Wednesday, August 29, 2014 – Longfellow Neighborhood, South Minneapolis
Myron Ilktost fumbled in his pocket for his keychain.
“Don’t forget to lock the door!” bellowed a disembodied female voice from at least two rooms away inside the house.
“I’ve got it, honey”, Ilktost replied, straining to make his thin, reedy voice heard over the dishwasher that was clanking away in the kitchen. As he shut the door, the woman – Iris, his wife of 32 years – bellowed “because you keep forgetting!”.
“Locking it now, honey”, he replied, shutting the door and turning the key.
He kept the keychain in his hand as he walked to his car – a green, ten year old Subaru Forester with a single “Don’t Park The Bus” sticker affixed to the back bumper.
A faint whiff of blue smoke puffed from the exhaust as Ilktost backed out of his prim driveway and out onto 42nd Avenue in South Minneapolis. The perennials he’d labored over for so long were just starting to bloom after a hard, long winter. Ilktost drove about six blocks, to a church building – Jehovah Methodist. He picked the keychain up from his passenger seat, and lumbered up to the side door.
Slight, about 5’8, tidy, balding, mustachioed, gray-haired and 56 years old, wearing a gray alpaca sweater and khaki pants, Ilktost unlocked the door and turned on the lights inside the building. He walked to the church office, sat down at a sixties-institutional desk, turned on an early-2000s vintage Gateway PC, and started rummaging through a small stack of flyers, handwritten notes and – eventually – emails.
After a few minutes, he was interrupted by a knock on the door. He looked through the window. It was the UPS man. He opened the door.
“Mister Liktost?” asked the deliveryman.
“That’s I-L-K-Tost”, Ilktost said, sounding mildly worried.
“Ah, OK. My bad. Please sign for this”.
Ilktost took the deliveryman’s clipboard. “I have to get this sunday’s program together”, he muttered, as much for himself as the deliveryman’s benefit.
“Ah. Well, I’ll get out of your way” said the UPS man, mission accomplished.
Ilktost locked the door and went back to work. Programs don’t put themselves together.
– 5:20 PM, Thursday, August 29 – Downtown Minneapolis
“Programs don’t put themselves together”.
Joshua Nieman shook his head as he said it, as if Paul Hendrickson had never heard any of it before.
“Yeah, I know”, said Hendrickson, who at 45 was 20 years older than Nieman. “I know the requirements were hosed. We’re in catch-up mode. Just trying to keep Tofte from crawling up both our asses”.
“Well, I’m not working this weekend”, said the younger man. “I’ve got a Modern Warfare hackathon to do”.
“Yeah, keep your weekend. We’re not curing cancer, here”, said Hendrickson. “Just give me an estimate Monday morning, OK?”
Nieman grunted, and Hendrickson walked away down the aisle separating two of the forty rows of cubes at Claimtech.
It was 5:45 PM, he noticed as he checked his phone for messages. There were several – mostly work-related. A text message from Lynn telling him to bring cat food home.
And that’s just what I’m gonna do.
He picked up his jacket at his cube, walked out to the ramp, drove half an hour up 494, then Cedar, then Crosstown, over to 34th. Into the convenience store, back out with the cat food, then up 34th to 48th, then over a few blocks to the tidy little Cape Cod that’d been his family’s home since they bought it from Lynn’s parents ten years earlier.
Abby – ten years old – was playing with the dog in the back yard. ”Hi, Daddy!” she said. “I taught Buck to play dead!”.
She looks so much like my mom at that age, Hendrickson thought as the skinny, colt-legged blond girl put Buck, the family’s eight year old Springer Spaniel, through its paces.
“That’s awesome, honey!”, he said as Abby and Buck took a bow, both grinning from ear to ear. “I”m gonna go in and see Mommy”.
Hendrickson walked in the back door, up the stairs into the kitchen. Lynn – a pretty, auburn-haired 38 year old, Hendrickson’s wife of 16 years – was throwing cheese sandwiches onto the grill as a crock pot of stew simmered in the background.
Hendrickson tiptoed up the stairs and padded silently across the kitchen floor, wrapping his arms around Lynn from behind. “Mmm – hello!”, she purred. “That bean stew thing you have in the pot smells glorious”.
He kissed her on the neck. “So where are Charlie and Dani?”
“Dani’s over at the Torstengardsens doing a science project with Vicky. And Charlie’s at track practice.”
“Hmm. So they’re pretty much occupied…?”
“I bought a bottle of wine for later…”
Hendrickson smiled. “Nice. Thank God it’s Thursday!”
His wife purred, leaning back to kiss his cheek. “You sure you can’t come to Carrie’s for the shower?”
“Nah. Stupid project deadline”
“And I know how much you love baby showers”.
“Half of one and six dozen of the other. I’d much rather be there than working on this bug-stomp this weekend”, Hendrickson purred into his wife’s ear, nibbling the ear lobe ever so slightly…
“Ew”, shouted a crackly, adolescent male voice, as Charlie Hendrickson – a gangly, red-headed teen in track shorts and a school t-shirt – stomped up the back stairs three at a time. “Gross, you two. Stop it. When’s dinner?”
“Ten minutes. Take a shower first”, Lynn patiently responded as Paul slowly let go and walked to start setting the table.
“Yep. Thank God it’s Thursday”.
– 9:00PM, Friday, August 29, 2014 – On the “TRU LBRT NOW!” Facebook Page
A sultry breeze blew from the west, sweeping across the south end of Plymouth, MN, where Dave Os, a late-20-ish man in with a carefully-tended beard, a tweed blazer, jeans and a “Doors” T-shirt, sat at a table at an outdoor bar patio. Idly waiting for some friends to show up, he noodled through his Facebook timeline. An article caught his attention, about a planned light rail line that would connect the northwest suburbs of the Twin Cities with downtown.
Os shared the article to “TRU LBRT NOW”, a libertarian Facebook page of which he was a member, writing “Great. More money suck from government”. He clicked the “Post” button as his friends arrived.
The warm breeze swept east, crossing Saint Louis Park, where Ron Pallsacher, a mildly obese 35-year-old with an acne-pocked face and a scraggly blondish beard, sat on the balcony of his apartment, working on fixing some JQuery code for one of his clients. He saw the “Incoming Message” popup, and saw Os’s posting. He read it, typed “another installment payment in the progressive statist dream”, clicked “Post”, and went back to work.
The breeze rolled across Highway 100, briefly juddering a Ford Econoline van driven by Arnie Quist, a dark-haired, 30-ish man with a dense black beard,wearing a seed cap, as he drove southward carrying a load of mulch for his garden. He read Os and Pallsacher’s posts as he drove, and – ignoring the safety rules about texting and driving – clicked his “voice to text” function on his phone: “Not just progressives. Republicans equally worthless!”. He clicked “Post”, just before narrowly missing a Toyota Corolla that had legally merged onto the road.
The puff of wind rolled up Lake Street in Minneapolis, ruffling the hair of Oz Streachan – a 6’6 tall 40-year-old man, with a Billy Gibbons beard, an awlward gait and a voice that sounded incongruously high and light for such a tall man, who was en route to one of the rooftop bars in Uptown for a friend’s bachelor party. He saw the notification, read it, and typed “The only way to get good governmente is no goverment”, he typed raggedly as he stood next to the light pole, before the light turned green.
An eddy of the breeze – which was becoming less sweet and more humid as it rolled across the city – swept through an open window into the Powderhorn Park-area efficiency apartment of Frena Marquette – 5’6, 25 years old, with purple hair and overly-thick eyeliner, wearing a “Ron Paul Express 2012″ t-shirt, busy folding her laundry. She saw the notification on her IPad, and typed “No Gummint? Oh, Noes! Who’ll build the roadz?”. Satisfied, she chuckled, and went back to folding.
The breeze – smelling less like west-suburban gardens than auto exhaust, by now – rolled across the Marshall-Lake Bridge and across the front of Izzy’s Ice Cream Parlor, where sat Bill Durburgh – in a white dress shirt, a bow tie, a helmet of “televangellist” that he’d been cultivating as an “ironic statement” for three yers, and a perfectly-trimmed beard. He looked at his Android, saw the list of comments, and typed “This is why all voting is a waste. The best thing we can do is throw off the chains of all government”, hitting “post” and then angrily swearing as a drip of ice cream plopped onto his screen.
The breeze – another part of it, a mile south of Durburgh – swept through the yard of Myron Ilktost. Ilktost was busily weeding the flower bed in front of his house, swatting at mosquitos.
“Are you STILL doing that?”, bellowed the disembodied voice of his wife.
“No, Dear”, Ilktost yelled. Not for long, he muttered under his breath.
(See Part II)