Through the Darkest of Nights: Testament XVIII

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Every few days over the next several months I will be posting installments of a novel about life, death, war and politics in America since 9/11.  Through the Darkest of Nights is a story of hope, reflection, determination, and redemption.  It is a testament to the progressive values we all believe in, have always defended, and always will defend no matter how long this darkness lasts.  But most of all, it is a search for identity and meaning in an empty world.

Naked and alone we came into exile.  In her dark womb, we did not know our mother’s face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth. Which of us has known his brother?  Which of us has looked into his father’s heart?  Which of us has not remained prison-pent?  Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?      ~Thomas Wolfe

All installments are available for reading here on Docudharma’s Series page, and also here on Docudharma’s Fiction Page, where refuge from politicians, blogging overload, and one BushCo outrage after another can always be found.

Through the Darkest of Nights

To Dream Things That Never Were

    “This is the Gateway, Jericho.  A dream ended here and a nightmare began. That nightmare still hasn’t ended.”

    The Ambassador Hotel ballroom is empty, but fifteen minutes after midnight, on the fifth day of June, 1968, hundreds of people were standing where we’re standing now.  They were elated, they were filled with hope.  Bobby Kennedy had just won the California primary, he would be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.    

    We walked towards the ballroom exit that led to the kitchen where Bobby was assassinated.  “My mother was here that night, Jericho, she was here when Bobby gave his last speech, she was in the crowded kitchen pantry when he walked in after his speech, shook hands with some of the kitchen staff, and headed towards her and several other campaign volunteers.”

    Shannon took my hand and we walked into the kitchen pantry.  “A security guard, Thane Cesar, was holding Bobby by his right arm when Sirhan lunged towards him, yelled a curse, and fired two shots at him.  The loud curse and the first two shots riveted everyone’s attention on Sirhan.  Then my mother saw what no one was supposed to see.  Cesar let go of Bobby’s arm, dropped into a crouch, pulled his gun, and fired three quick shots.  Two hit Bobby under his right armpit and one hit him in the back of the head.  At least ten shots were fired by Sirhan and Cesar, five other people were hit.”

    A maitre d’ saw us, frowned, came towards us, saw the expression on Shannon’s face, and walked right past us without a word.  Shannon didn’t even notice him.  “A young immigrant, Juan Romero, who’d come to the City of Angels seeking the American Dream, found horror instead.  He held Bobby’s hand as he lay mortally wounded on this dirty kitchen floor, on that night of blood and treachery, in that year of shame and sorrow.  Bobby walked into a hail of gunfire, died the next day, and America’s future died with him.”

    This isn’t 2003.  Not for Shannon.  Not today.  This is 1968.  

    “When I was a little girl, the storm of violence raging across America was tearing the country apart.  The Vietnam War was killing hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Vietnamese every week.  Many times, my mother would turn off the network news and read Bobby’s ‘Menace of Violence’ speech to me.  She wanted me to learn it by heart.  I did.  I still remember every word of it . . .”

This is a time of shame and sorrow.
     

The victims of violence are black and white, rich and poor,

young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all,

human beings whom other human beings loved and needed.  No one,

no matter where he lives or what he does – can be certain

who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed.
 

And yet it goes on and on and on.

    “Bobby was a human being whom other human beings loved and needed. Millions of Americans loved him, he was a man of courage and compassion, they knew he would be a president they could believe in and trust.  They needed a president they could believe in and trust.  But he was not loved by the CIA, they despised him.”

    “The CIA killed him . . . ”

    “Of course.  They killed his brother, and then they killed him.”

    “And got away with it.”

    “So far . . . but there will be a day of reckoning, if enough Americans ask what Bobby asked . . .

Why?
 

What has violence ever accomplished?  

What has it ever created?
 

    “There will be a day of reckoning, if enough Americans finally get weary of the degradation all around them . . .”

Whenever we tear at the fabric of life which another man

has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children,

whenever we do this, the whole nation is degraded.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and the wielders

of force, too often we excuse those who are willing to build

their own lives on the shattered dreams of others.
 

    “Ever since that night of blood and horror, Jericho, ever since that year of shame and sorrow, the fabric of life working men and women have tried to weave for themselves and their children has been torn apart by the masters of this country, who swagger and bluster, who build their lives on the shattered dreams of others, who speak of God and patriotism, but know nothing of God or patriotism.  Greed is their God, intolerance is their creed, power is their agenda.  They teach hate and fear, they always have, they always will, and America keeps reaping what they sow . . .”  

When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother,

when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color

or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that

those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or

your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow

citizens but as enemies – to be met not with cooperation

but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.

    “America has degenerated ever since Bobby was assassinated, we have become a nation of fear, division, and intolerance, we have not resisted the corporate masters of this country, we have not confronted those who subjugate us, we have been conditioned to accept the filth conservatives peddle as patriotism . . .”

Only a cleansing of our whole society

can remove this sickness from our soul.

    “That sickness in America’s soul has not been removed.  It has spread.  It has infused the contagion of fascism into our institutions of government, into our media, into our courts, into our military, into every level of authority, until only a handful of Americans dare speak out . . .”  

This is the breaking of a man’s spirit by denying him the

chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men.

We learn, at the last, to look at our bothers as aliens,

We learn to share only a common fear, only a

common desire to retreat from each other, only a

common impulse to meet disagreement with force.

For all this there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do.

    “We’ve always known what we must do, Jericho.  It’s time to start doing it. It’s time to honor Bobby by seeking peace as he did, by seeking justice as he did, by standing up for them like he did.  It’s time to dream things that never were, and say why not.”

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the

lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny

ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers

of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep

down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

    We walked out of the Ambassador Hotel kitchen pantry, through the ballroom, and out into the sunlight. “We’re Americans, Jericho, it’s time we started behaving like it.   America isn’t We the Corporations, it’s not We the Politicians, it’s not We the Pentagon or We the Oil Companies or We the Bush Hacks, it’s We the People.”  

The greatest voice is the voice of the people, speaking out,

in prose or painting or poetry or music; speaking out in homes

and halls, streets and farms, courts and cafes.

Let that voice speak,

and the stillness you hear

will be the gratitude of mankind.

69 comments

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    • Alma on May 25, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    we have been conditioned to accept the filth conservatives peddle as patriotism .

    last night.  

    I don’t remember how the subject came up, but my SIL thats up visiting from NC said “I’m married to a republican”  To which my Hubby asked “So does he like Bush?”  Her reply was that he supports the republicans because “They are the ones that support the troops”.  Well, I kind of exploded.  A very loud “bullshit” was the first thing out of my mouth, followed by several incidences that showd how the Dems support them more, and how dirty the repugs are.

    I sent Hubby off alone to see his family today, a real rarity since he’s been disabled.  If he doesn’t come home in a few hours, I’ll follow, and hopefully be able to be civil.

  1. … this said it all:

    A maitre d’ saw us, frowned, came towards us, saw the expression on Shannon’s face, and walked right past us without a word.  Shannon didn’t even notice him.  “A young immigrant, Juan Romero, who’d come to the City of Angels seeking the American Dream, found horror instead.  He held Bobby’s hand as he lay mortally wounded on this dirty kitchen floor, on that night of blood and treachery, in that year of shame and sorrow.  Bobby walked into a hail of gunfire, died the next day, and America’s future died with him.”

    I don’t care how much you have to edit this when you’re done.  If you or some high-falutin’ professional editor tries to take these words out of the story …

    … I will find you …

    … and yes, I will destroy you.

    Really says it all for me.  Made me cry.

  2. Why is the sky blue white silver?

    Because the Air Force is polluting the sky with micronized fiberglass, sprayed with DuPont’s latest one-step UV cured synthetic rubber (VamacTM br) that is infused with Barium, Magnesium, and Aluminum salts my dear child.

    Where does the pollution go Mommy?

    It fall out of the sky and onto everything dear.

    Doesn’t that hurt people and make them sick?

    Yes it does dear. It gets into your skin and into your body causing depression and aggression. It makes peoples skin itch. It makes hard painful calluses on peoples feet. It makes people have swollen feet, ankles and legs. It may also causes them to have other problems.

    Why would they do that Mommy?

    I do not know dear.

    • RiaD on May 26, 2008 at 12:48 am

    (^.^) ♥~

  3. I saw this earlier, but wanted to wait til after my Sunday afternoon nap (kind of a ritual for us lazy folks) to read it. Somehow I knew I’d need to be totally alert for this one. And I was right.

    I just have to say that I’m sure you had this in mind long before the campaign shenanigans this week. I’m glad to be grounded again in just what it was that happened that day – to all of us. Thank you!!!

    • RiaD on May 26, 2008 at 1:20 am

    about the august WITR….

    would you consider changing back?

    you take aug 7 and i’ll take the 14th?

    i’m gonna have a big bonfire birthday hooley in the field, some friends are coming & bringing their families & instruments. the garden should be in full production to help feed everyone (tomato sammiches!) & we’ll probally bbq something. i’m hoping for a good music, good food, good company & good weather!

    these plans have JUST been made or i never would’ve whined for the 7th.  

  4. i have been reading about the assassination attempt on wallace. just doing some research for some ideas i have.

    now i’m speechless. because i never connected these events it until reading this:

    “A security guard, Thane Cesar, was holding Bobby by his right arm when Sirhan lunged towards him, yelled a curse, and fired two shots at him.  The loud curse and the first two shots riveted everyone’s attention on Sirhan.  Then my mother saw what no one was supposed to see.  Cesar let go of Bobby’s arm, dropped into a crouch, pulled his gun, and fired three quick shots.  Two hit Bobby under his right armpit and one hit him in the back of the head.  At least ten shots were fired by Sirhan and Cesar, five other people were hit.”

    they both had nixon in common, didn’t they?

    and some of the pivotal guys with nixon ended up with bush 41. and oh, that reminds me. there was that attempt on mr. reagan.

    i didn’t realize when you said walk through the gateway with you how fucking right you would be.

    the day we lost control of the narrative.

    the day the constitution stopped applying to the government. bushCo.  

  5. dismount my Apocalyptic horse with this kind of insight.  Other people know, others will carry the torch and perhaps 2012 is a rebirth instead of the end time many diverse cultures have predicted it to be.

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