Ralph’s posters announcing the August 18 meeting went up all over Boulder. There was a great deal of excited conversation, most of it having to do with the good and bad qualities of the seven-person ad hoc committee.
Mother Abagail went to bed exhausted before the light was even gone from the sky. The day had been a steady stream of callers, all of them wanting to know what her opinion was. She allowed as how she thought most of the choices for the committee were pretty good. The people were anxious to know if she would serve on a more permanent committee, if one should be formed at the big meeting. She replied that that would be a spot too tiring, but she sure would give a committee of elected representatives whatever help she could, if people wanted her to help out. She was assured again and again that any permanent committee that refused her help would be turned out en masse, and that right early. Mother Abagail went to bed tired but satisfied.
So did Nick Andros that night. In one day, by virtue of a single poster turned out on a hand-crank mimeograph machine, the Free Zone had been transformed from a loose group of refugees into potential voters. They liked it; it gave them the sense of a place to stand after a long period of free fall.
That afternoon Ralph drove him out to the power plant. He, Ralph, and Stu agreed to hold a preliminary meeting at Stu and Frannie’s place the day after next. It would give all seven of them another two days to listen to what people were saying.
Nick smiled and cupped his own useless ears.
“Lip-reading’s even better,” Stu said. “You know, Nick, I’m starting to think we’re really going to get somewhere with those blown motors. That Brad Kitchner’s a regular bear for work. If we had ten like him, we’d have this whole town running perfect by the first of September.”
Nick gave him a thumb-and-forefinger circle and
they walked inside together.
That afternoon Larry Underwood and Leo Rockway walked west on Arapahoe Street toward Harold’s house. Larry was wearing the knapsack he had worn all the way across the country, but all that was in it now was the bottle of wine and a half dozen Paydays.
Lucy was out with a party of half a dozen people who had taken two wrecking trucks and were beginning to clear the streets and roads in and around Boulder of stalled vehicles. Trouble was, they were working on their own – it was a sporadic operation that only ran when a few people felt like getting together and doing it. A wrecking bee instead of a quilting bee, Larry thought, and his eye caught one of the posters headed MASS MEETING, this one nailed to a telephone pole. Maybe that would be the answer. Hell, people around here wanted to work; what they needed was somebody to coordinate things and tell them what to do. He thought that, most of all, they wanted to wipe away the evidence of what had happened here this early summer (and could it be late summer already?) the way you would use an eraser to wipe dirty words off a blackboard. Maybe we can’t do it from one end of America to the other, Larry thought, but we should be able to do it here in Boulder before snow flies, if Mother Nature cooperates.
A tinkle of glass made him turn. Leo had lobbed a large stone from someone’s rock garden through the rear window of an old Ford. A bumper sticker on the back deck of the Ford’s trunk read: GET YO ASS UP THE PASS – COLD CREEK CANYON.
“Don’t do that, Joe.”
“Leo,” he corrected. “Don’t do that.”