CHAPTER EIGHT: MELISSA’S PROJECT
en route to the dormitory on Thursday afternoon. “You know, Eric, in
addition to my school work here at the University, I also have a
project to do at the Libertarian Temple.” she explained.
“I see Rebecca over there, about to head home. Follow me, I want to
explain something to her.” he said.
and caught up. “Rebecca,” Eric said. She turned around. “Listen, I just
wanted to explain, um, Melissa told me about how people talk in code,
especially women, and um, let’s just say that if I had understood what
you meant at Zachary’s party, things would have turned out
differently.” he said.
said. “Melissa taught you something about the subtle signals we use.
she taught me.” he grinned.
Rebecca said. Melissa turned bright red.
“See, now I’m talking in code, too.”
“Well, I’m glad to see you’re learning.” She got into her car as they
walked to Piermont Hall. “You had to do that, didn’t you?” Melissa
chuckled, and continued, “Anyway, I have a social service project to
do. The idea is to do something make the world a better place, without
appealing to the government for help. I think the problem cannot be
solved by the government, but can be solved by volunteers.”
mean, like, guys who aren’t having any luck getting laid?”
exactly, do you plan to solve this problem? Do you plan to give every
suffering guy the same treat you gave me?” Eric asked.
“Well, I just don’t know that part yet. No, I’m not going to give it to
everybody. I think I’ll have to discuss this with the rabbi and the
other students at the Libertarian Temple. I have to be there at 18:00
tonight. Would you like to go there, and maybe check it out?”
“It’s in Sacraleena. It’s really easy to get to. At the eastern end of
the campus, you take South Capitol Street north, cross the South
Capitol Street Bridge over the Missouri River into Sacraleena, and it’s
up ahead on the right about two kilometers at South Thirteenth and
South Capitol. There’s a sign.”
don’t plan on becoming a Libertarian, but I can check it out.” Eric
Piermont and put on his jacket and walking shoes, and went outside. It
was 15:05 and sunny, 16º Celsius. He walked across the campus and
headed north on South Capitol Street. Up ahead in the distance, the
West Dakota State Capitol could be seen.
arrived at the corner of South Capitol Street and River Street in
Talleyville, and pressed the button for the crosswalk light. When the
light changed, he got the ‘WALK’ signal, and crossed River Street to
arrive at the South Capitol Street Bridge. He started across, looking
over the railing at the Riverbank Parkway traffic below, and then the
Street Bridge had two lanes in each direction, and a raised concrete
barrier for a median. Street lights towered over the roadway.
At 16:18, a
brown police car passed Eric, heading into Sacraleena. “TALLEYVILLE
POLICE” it said in black letters. At 16:20, Eric arrived at a sign that
read, “ENTERING SACRALEENA, SACRALEENA COUNTY.” After passing the sign,
he looked back, across the roadway, to see another sign, facing the
southbound traffic, reading, “ENTERING TALLEYVILLE, TALLEY COUNTY.”
look around. Below, boats plied the Missouri River. Birds flew by, some
resting on the street lights. A metal disk embedded in the sidewalk
pavement caught his eye. He took a closer look. “COUNTY LINE” it said
in incused letters, around a small dot in the center. He put his foot
on it. Some of his toes were in Talley County, some in Sacraleena
County. All the city and county ordinances began and ended at that
north, the State Capitol looming larger now. He got to the Sacraleena
side. On the right, past a large lawn, was an old building with bars on
the windows. The sign at the driveway entrance read, “WEST DAKOTA
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, STATE PRISON AT SACRALEENA.” The street sign
marked the corner of South 25th and South Capitol Streets.
vehicles in the parking lot. From the sidewalk, he could read the
inscriptions, “PRISONER TRANSPORT” on the vehicles. The license plates
read, “WEST DAKOTA,” a registration number, and “CORRECTIONS.” Near the
building entrance, a flagpole stood, bearing two flags: the U.S. flag
above and the West Dakota flag below it.
three blocks, Eric arrived at a more elegant building. The sign read,
“WEST DAKOTA SUPREME COURT.” The building occupied the entire city
block from South 22nd to South 21st Street, and from South Capitol
Street on the west to South Brookings Street on the east. The U.S. flag
and the West Dakota flag flew on separate flagpoles. Eric crossed South
21st Street. It was 16:40, and he was eight blocks from his destination.
stores lined both sides of the street in the next block. Some of the
buildings had apartments on the upper floors. At 16:42, Eric pressed
the button for the crosswalk light. When he got the ‘WALK’ signal, he
crossed South 20th Street.
Capitol Street stood another government building. The sign was
embellished with the West Dakota state seal. “WEST DAKOTA STATE POLICE,
TROOP F” the sign said. The area behind the building was surrounded by
a high, chain-link fence. Eight marked police cruisers were parked
nearby. The building and grounds occupied the entire block, from South
20th Street to South 19th Street and from South Capitol Street on the
east to South Burbank Street on the west.
South Capitol Street stood numerous commercial buildings and a bank. He
passed one three-story government building. “1945 SOUTH CAPITOL STREET,
WEST DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF LIQUOR ENFORCEMENT.” the sign said. Just
north of that building, a walkway led to a parking lot behind the
buildings, on the South Brookings Street side of the block.
and South 16th, on the right, was a modern building, four stories tall,
with a large parking lot in the rear and a small parking lot in front.
“GOVERNOR NEHEMIAH G. ORDWAY BUILDING, WEST DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF
REVENUE” the sign said. In smaller letters, it said, “1675 SOUTH
CAPITOL STREET.” Eric turned to look at the building. Flags flew from
three flagpoles: The U.S. flag on the left, the West Dakota flag in the
center, and the West Dakota Department of Revenue flag on the right.
Five cars parked in the front parking lot bore escutcheons of the
Department of Revenue on their doors. Front license plates read, “WEST
DAKOTA,” a registration number, and “STATE VEHICLE.”
and South 14th was a school building on the right. At the corner of
South 15th and South Capitol, a large sign hung overhead, supported by
a metal pole. The sign had flashing yellow lights. “CROSSWALK AHEAD,
STATE SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND” it said. Half a block ahead, another sign
support held up two signs overhanging the northbound traffic. Both were
embellished with flashing yellow lights. “CROSSWALK, STATE SCHOOL FOR
THE BLIND,” one said. “YIELD TO PEDESTRIAN IN CROSSWALK,” said the
strolling north. It was 16:57 when he arrived at the corner of South
13th and South Capitol Streets. A building across 13th Street bore a
sign, “LIBERTARIAN TEMPLE OF SACRALEENA.” In smaller letters, “5002
SOUTH 13TH STREET.”
east and west. A sign on the building at 5007 South 13th Street told
him it was a deli, so he strolled in, ordered a roast beef and Swiss
cheese sandwich on rye bread, and sat down.
THE PARKING LOT
THIRTEEN: OPERATION MOVED
FIFTEEN: THE DISCUSSION
2007 Tom Alciere