2112: Cassandra Vindicated

Alexander Cohen made the short walk from his Dallas apartment to the North American Alliance Department of Resources office building that now occupied the old Department of Eugenics complex grounds. There was a subway station near his apartment and a subway station beneath the government office building. However, it was only one stop away and he could actually get to work faster walking on a nice day than by subway. He only took it on days when the weather was inclement.
The wind in the willows blew a cool breeze over the river and tossed his ponytail about his shoulders. He preferred to walk in the shade to avoid the sun on his fair skin. He stopped on the riverside walk often if he had time to sit in the Cassandra’s Prophecy garden. The garden had been planted as a public relations response to the people who had initially complained of the early negative population growth laws and later the zero population growth laws of the government in response to the chaos that followed World War III when the earth had surpassed its carrying capacity. In the middle of the garden, there was a bronze statue of a weeping Cassandra of Greek myth. In a sheltered visitors’ center there was a dedication to Paul Ralph Ehrlich and an interactive computer outline of the major points of his 1968 book “The Population Bomb”. Few opponents of the government ever stopped there or read Ehrlich’s warnings from his book. The people who did stop there were proponents of the government.
In the early years after the world had reached carrying capacity almost a century before, the world was in panic. World War III had just ended. The Islamic Alliance’s Jihad had lost their bid to control world politics. Their combined forces were outnumbered by over three to one. Their only grip on the world’s diplomatic policies was their control of fossil fuels. World War III in just less than ten years had motivated scientists, industries and governments across the world to come up with alternative energy sources. The source of Arab wealth had become almost obsolete. Oil prices plummeted and with it, any chance that they would emerge from the conflict with anything to offer the rest of the world. In the treaties at the end of the war, the territorial borders had been redrawn. The Islamic nations had been reorganized into true nation states with common language, common culture, and predominant Islamic sects. Historical Islamic countries that had been created between or after World Wars I and II had been ignored. Israel, after one hundred forty five years had gained territory from Jordan on the east bank of the Jordan and from Syria in the Golan Heights. At last, Israel had defensible borders. As collateral damage of the Arab states bombing Israel and especially Jerusalem, a bomb had missed its mark and hit the Dome of the Rock. At the end of the war, Israel had full control of Jerusalem and the Third Temple had risen over the ruins of the mosque. Many religious fundamentalists both Jewish and Christian were watching the skies for the return of Elijah. The world economy was recovering and so was the population. Then the worldwide famines, water shortages and pandemics struck.
Despite the initial efforts of traditional charitable and government help to hard hit countries, back home everyone was also facing food shortages, water shortages, and strained medical systems. There seemed to be no way out. It was then the new regimes that had taken control of the world’s still unstable, poorly ordered provisional governments had the Great Summit of 2022. A new coalition of countries with resources, under pressure to protect their own populations, cooperatively set up the Department of Eugenics and the Department of Resources under the New World Order, an alliance of the world’s nations to form a world government.
The New World Order organized on a representational parliamentary system. Each nation state within the alliance had its own parliament for regional government. In turn, each nation state had representatives in the New World Order Parliament based on population for international law. Neutrality was an issue: the central government’s parliament could not be in any recognized nation state. When Belgium was dissolved and the northern Flemings integrated with the Netherlands and the southern Walloons integrated with France, a small territory was excluded to be the seat of international government in the border city of Brussels, which had already been separated as a bilingual district. Brussels became a city-state: an independent district not included in the Netherlands or France.
Within each allied nation, Departments of Eugenics and Departments of Resources were established. The Department of Eugenics tested all persons for genetic disease and ethnic markers, issuing reproductive licenses to women who were free of genetic disease and sterilizing men and women who were not free of genetic disease. The Department of Resources kept record of available resources to support the population. Nations that were fortunate enough to have environments capable of sustaining larger populations flourished. Nations that were unfortunate enough to lack environments capable of sustaining their populations declined. One of the first acts passed by the International Parliament was the National Resources Act, which restricted international trade of commodities to nations with surplus resources and nations with commodities they could trade in exchange. It was a social Darwinian precedent: survival of the fittest.
Initially the Departments of Eugenics had enforced negative population growth through attrition and limiting women to a single child. Once balance had been reached, the DE had enforced zero population growth by limiting reproduction licenses to only two pregnancies per woman. Over time, the carrying capacity fluctuated and reproduction licenses had to be adjusted.
Of course, there had been in the first generation resistance to the restriction of one child per woman. Since the odds of having a 1:1 ratio of females to males was merely statistical probability, it was not always the case. Therefore, when the mother’s child was determined to be a boy or a girl, the government tried to balance the genders. However, in the final analysis, a man who passed the Department of Eugenics genetic tests to permit fathering children, the government’s policy of two children for each woman was sufficient. Unless they chose to marry, women could out number men. However, genetic diversity was also a concern. The Department of Eugenics responded with the necessary steps to maintain a 1:1 ratio of baby boys and baby girls. Women were forbidden abortions merely because they preferred another gender. While at the same time, the Department of Eugenics collected data on each minority’s population, and if they did not have an expected 1:1 ratio, some women were granted permission to abort.
The resistance to abortion among some religious groups had lead to legal challenges of the law. The international Superior Court ruled that if these religions had in the past had objected to abortions except in cases of incest and rape that they had nullified their own objections and abortion rights were upheld.
This decision led to resurgence for in vitro fertilization clinics. Rather than take a chance on the gender of their children, women were having their ova removed to be fertilized and then once the gender had been determined, they could pick the gender of their children and in what order they had their children with certainty.
Initially, no man had a permit for a child of his own. The only way a man could be confident that he had offspring and have any input into their raising was to buy an equal share of a woman’s reproduction license. These were first class common law marriages. A sperm donor was considered a second class common law marriage, which gave the father limited rights to see, and perhaps be involved in the lives of his offspring. Marriage rates increased significantly.
The only way the system worked was that some women did not want two children or perhaps even one. Moreover, financially, selling her reproduction license and being a surrogate mother were both lucrative propositions. This kept the Department of Population and the Department of Eugenics busy and running even after zero population growth within the carrying capacity was reached.
Each newborn child had its DNA print, Y chromosome identified, and its mitochondrial DNA identified. This was included in their permanent files in the Departments of Eugenics and Population. Philosophers and anthropologists had on going debates on whether these statistics should be considered at all or whether they should be eliminated. The anthropologists had a compelling argument that there should be individuals remaining to represent all the ethnicities of the world. Philosophers had a compelling argument that the elimination of race and a homogenization of the world population would end the past’s violence and prejudice based on race that had led to genocide and segregation. The government was not compelled to take a stand until the Israeli Superior Court heard the case of the Cohanim vs. the Department of Eugenics. They argued that their religion mandated preservation of an identified class of male descendents of the ancient priest lineage by identified women of Jewish descent. The court ruled in a split decision that while they wished to preserve the separation of religion and government that the religious rights of the Jews to a genetically verified class of hereditary priests could not be infringed upon by the state. With this precedent, the International Superior Court ruled that all ethnic minorities should receive the same consideration.
The anthropologists were thrilled and quickly began to identify within the Department of Eugenics individuals with Y chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA for each recognized ethnic group. There remained however in the citizenship a division over whether children of pure ethnic heritage should be increased or whether ethnic heritage by random mating should take precedent. There were always ethnic groups who wanted to preserve their ethnic group. They wanted their children to be more genetically pure than they themselves were. Choosing a father of the same ethnicity would secure the stability of ethnic groups. Some couples married for love without regard to the ethnicity of their children. Some couples chose to marry men or women of the same ethnicity so that their children would continue the ethnic group. Still others chose in vitro fertilization from a sperm donor of a particular ethnic group. With the New World Order’s reorganized nation states, emigration to ancestral homelands was rising.
The Department of Resources banned the cultivation of tobacco from otherwise arable land. The issue came to a head with the Indian Nations vs. the Department of Resources case. The North American Superior Court ruled that Indians could continue the cultivation of tobacco as it was part of their cultural heritage, with the prevision that the tribal rolls included individuals where a Y chromosome for Native Americans in men, or the mitochondrial DNA for Native Americans in women, was present. Many tribal members that had previous recognition were shocked when neither a Native American Y chromosome nor mitochondrial DNA was present. They had historically believed themselves to be Native Americans, but now they found that patriarchic and matriarchic lines were European. Upon appeal, the Superior Court ruled that Native Americans with a predominantly Native American DNA print could be included in Indian Nation rolls. But they encouraged that the Department of Eugenics continue a search for the Y chromosome marker and the mitochondrial DNA marker to be identified and exceptional reproduction licenses be issued to genetically prioritized births of children that would carry the father’s Y chromosome and the mother’s mitochondrial DNA markers. Through these measures, genetically pure ethnic groups were being recreated.
The DE and DR continued to maintain lower population levels. The controversial but necessary steps that the DE had to take were first to enforce abortions of unauthorized pregnancies and to withhold unnecessary medical care to the terminally ill. In the early years of the new regime, this was the first motivation for the foundation of the Revolutionary Party. With their protests and propaganda, groups opposed to the measurements taken by the government found a voice.
Due to religious objections, some insisted on the right to have more than two children. The first issue to which the government needed to address was whether more than two reproduction licenses could be issued for religious reasons. This was not feasible. If more women who bore more than two children increased, the goal of zero population growth would be defeated. Citing the principle of separation of religion from government, the government denied the exceptional reproduction licenses. Those who felt they had a religious mandate to have more than two children would have to buy another woman’s reproductive license or have a surrogate mother bear the couple a child. The government responded by limiting food rations to all families to enough to support four. Some objected to enforced abortions of unauthorized pregnancies. The government again responded by limiting food rations to families of four when supplies allowed. Alternatively, in some cases of women who had a history of unauthorized pregnancies, mandatory sterilization was enforced. During periods of shortage, people had to adjust to reduced rations. During periods of surplus, the population found it easier to survive on rations for a family of four. Continuing with their policy of separation of religion from government, the New World Order simply forced families that wanted more than two children to get by on the rations allotted for families of four.
Religious denominations argued over the meaning of “be fruitful and multiply”. The Superior Court heard testimony from various denominations. The rabbis representing the Jewish interpretation testified that the injunction only meant that each married couple must have one male and one female child to fulfill the meaning of the concept. As this interpretation met with the government’s policies, they refused to rule on the various cases brought before the Superior Court. Catholics, Mormons, and others who interpreted the concept as to have as many children as possible were told by the government that maintaining the world population at or below carrying capacity in the twenty second century was the new reality: ancient injunctions to increase the population were antiquated. Many argued that the government and the Superior Court were being inconsistent in their rulings and laws, especially concerning separation of religion and state. The government response in public relations publications was that these laws were secular. The Superior Court rulings in the case of the Cohanim vs. the Department of Eugenics and the Indian Nations vs. the Department of Resources cases had been secular rulings on ethnicity. In a statement released by the Superior Court not to hear further religious based cases on exceeding two children per family the court wrote that if an individual’s religious principles were contrary to government policy, then they should consider increasing their numbers through conversions. The Superior Court was walking a thin line.
After the first generation required to conform to the new regime’s policies had died, and the new generation that had grown up with the new regime’s policies became the majority, things became more peaceful. The young appreciated the necessity of monitoring the carrying capacity and maintaining the population at, or below, that number. In time, logic and reason seemed to have won out. Once population was established at carrying capacity, zero population growth made sense to most.
When Alexander got to the Department of Resources building, he had to work his way through the sea of protestors waving their red banners with a blue star of the Revolutionary Party and holding up signs calling for the end of the New World Order’s policies and a return to the earlier, pre-World War III governments.
Alexander did not understand the protesting Revolutionary Party. The “good old days” of which they had been told had only brought about the problems in the first place. Was it really the end of the world? All Alexander heard was just the excitement or the panic of girls.
Counter demonstrators gathered under the New World Order’s tricolor flag of green, white, and yellow with their own posters of archival photos of people fainting from hunger, falling from thirst , the ill, and slogans crying out: “Is this what you want back?”
Inside the Department of Resources building, the wall still bore the Department of Eugenics’ slogan: “One World! No Famine! No Thirst! No Disease!” The slogan over time had become the government’s slogan, encompassing both the Department of Eugenics and the Department of Resources goals. While he waited to check in, he gazed absently at the busts of Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, and Paul R. Ehrlich. Their immobile marble faces seemed to match the expressions of most of the Resources Department’s employees: empty and without emotion. However, working for the department did that to people after a while. A few years of hours spent crunching numbers on population, food resources, water resources, and medical resources usually hardened or bored the workers. Only the government officials who reported to New Washington or Brussels directly seemed to have any enthusiasm for their work. Alexander was just a number cruncher who spent hours alone in his cubicle. A government job had more security than other jobs and more benefits or else he would have quit long ago because of the tedium.
Alexander’s job was actually quite simple. He only had to do the number crunching using the statistics that others in the field collected. He was just a peg in the wheel of the bureaucracy. Field researchers in the Department of Resources assessed the supplies of commodities, the water supply, and the medical supplies necessary to supply the population. The Department of Resource’s only link to the more critical Department of Eugenics was a redundant Department of Population who used census data necessary to limiting the population to the carrying capacity, the maximum population size that the environment could sustain.
Alexander pressed his thumb on the sign in pad and passed into the employees’ area. The fifth floor was solely dedicated to the mathematicians. All the walls were white. The carpeting was black. The cubicles were white with black desks. The only color that penetrated their world was from an old mural. I depicted a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis amid a sea of multiethnic faces. It must have been there since the Department of Resources first took over the building in 2062. The blinds over the windows cast shadows and light across the mural in parallel lines. He silently made his way past the others to his cubicle remarkable only for its number, 5-7. He turned on his computer and placed his thumb on the keypad to log on.
His electronic inbox, his homepage, came to life with his day’s tasks listed and external links to the right and left. His first task was to read a departmental memo on Department of Resources Enforcement updates. He touched the link on his screen and was greeted briefly by the DRE logo before the text appeared. It was no brief memo. Alexander ran his finger from the screen top to bottom: thirty six pages on various commodity production figures, regional population growth figures, and a detailed report on carrying capacity and new recommendations on reproduction license restrictions for the northern, and southern North American Alliance districts,which had formerly been the independent counties of Canada and the United States.
Text scrolled by as he read new restrictions regarding a crackdown by the Department of Restricted Agricultural Products on the illegal tobacco and alcohol trade. Despite the 2062 ban using grain that could be used for human consumption to make alcohol, in industrial areas around the world shipments of grain were being illegally diverted to distilleries that masked as manufacturers of alcohol for medical and other approved uses. Alexander smiled. Despite DRAP constant surveillance illegal bars could still be found if you knew whom to ask. It was a failing policy. Just as had been the case in the early twentieth century Prohibition laws, making most alcoholic beverages illegal merely increased crime and speakeasies were plentiful. The only legal alcoholic beverages available were: wine made for religious use; a limited supply of rum, tequila, cider; and mead, which were never in short supply as the honeybees were necessary for the fertilization of many crops.
Alexander checked his next task: adjusting food ration books quotas for the new animal husbandry projections and pricing. Despite all the technology at their disposal, adjustments still had to be reviewed, double checked for quota adjustments, and entered into the mainframe.
The day passed quickly once Alexander began to concentrate on his work. He liked the uninterrupted isolation of his cubicle. It did its job effectively: to make the employees focus on their work.
Alexander took his lunch break and ran into his coworker Sherri in the elevator. Sherri begged him to join her across the street at the “Vieux Carre” restaurant. Alexander was not eager. However, Sherri was insistent so he gave in. Once they had their food and had finished with the obligatory work related discussion, Sherri led Alexander into the real reason she wanted to have lunch with Alexander. It was Alexander’s birthday and she had a gift for him. Sherri had obtained a false ID for him to go to a speakeasy to celebrate. Sherri passed Alexander a foil packet that looked like a condom. She smiled. “With this, we will have no problems. Tonight you will be Gary Heart! Do not open it yet! Tonight when you go to the “Absinthe House”, just slip the latex sleeve over your right thumb and you will find it has an embossed thumbprint for Gary Heart. You will get in without any problem. Just try not to be conspicuous about it”. Sherri reassured him. “Alex, I have used these often. Please don’t ask me where I get them. No one will ask any questions as long as they do not notice that you are wearing a false print sleeve. You do not want to have to answer a lot of questions. But if they do, there is a fact sheet for the identity in the package. You should memorize your birth date and the usual questions. Just do not slip up and give your own information!”
Sherri gave Alexander the time of the party and assured him that there would be no problems. “Just use some excuse to go to the back and ask an employee: “Where can I get a drink?” Alexander was perplexed. Sherri explained. “That is the password! No one asks in a restaurant ‘Where can I get a drink’! They will show you where the entrance is”. Alexander put the foil package in his pants pocket.
After they paid for lunch, Alexander and Sherri reported back to the DR and returned to work. Despite Sherri’s assurances, he had not done anything illegal that might jeopardize his job. When his computer clock showed that he had completed his work quota for the day, he placed his thumb on his computer keypad and logged out. He looked at his thumb. He had never considered how much his day-to-day existence depended on the data associated with that simple pattern of indented whorls.
When he got home, he immediately started deciding on what to wear to a party at a speakeasy. Alexander showered again and dressed to go out. He wore a pair of black slacks with flared thighs with deep pleats and a white shirt with an old tuxedo button cover at the neck. He thought he could pass as an art student or some other denizen of the “Absinthe House”. He left his hair down and loose about his shoulders. His auburn hair was pulling up into tight ringlets. Against his alabaster skin, his eyes looked more green than usual. He was impressed with the effect. He resembled himself when he was younger before he became a government employee.
Alexander got his foil packet and put on the thumb sleeve. It was small so it fit his thumb tightly. In the dark, you could not see the latex sleeve on his thumb. All he need do now was remember that tonight he was Gary Heart and kept repeating the birth date on the enclosed slip of paper as well as his other vitals: single, graduate student in sociology, born in Dallas. He could remember that as long as he responded when he heard the name and did not give his own birth date out of habit. They had made it easy:07/01//2086. That would make him twenty six. Sherri must have chosen an identity his same age.

Alexander took the subway to the area of the “Absinthe House” and walked in the dusk to the restaurant. The setting sun reflected off the solar panels on most buildings, giving the city a sparkle. In undeveloped tracts of land along the river, wind turbines still made a slow perpetual spin. The Absinthe House was a part of a luxury hotel complex. The entire block was made to look like the French Quarter of New Orleans. Once inside the restaurant, he asked for the rest rooms and when he was in the back, he asked one of the employees: “Where can I get something to drink? I need to take my pills.” The employee directed him with a glance to a door marked in plastic letters “No Exit”.
Alexander went through the door quickly. He saw in the dim light a long hall that ran the length of the building, descending along its length enough to reach the basement. At the far end, he saw another unmarked door. He pushed the second door open into a small nondescript foyer with a closed circuit camera facing him and an ID thumb pad on the next door’s frame. He pressed the latex thumbprint against the pad and the door opened automatically.
Once inside, a waiter escorted him to the VIP room. Apparently, Sherri must have reserved him the best for his birthday. Alexander asked for a beer and a pack of five cigarettes. He pressed his thumb against the waiter’s notebook. There was no charge made to his account. Apparently, Gary Heart had carte blanche. Alexander lit a cigarette and found it to be smoother than any cigarette he had tried before. The smoke rose to the ceiling and disappeared into a quiet air filter.
Alexander looked round the opulent room decorated with a Mardi Gras theme with masks and beads in gold, green and purple. He scanned the room and saw many groups of friends engaged in conversation, but very few people alone as he was. In one corner, he saw an older woman, in her forties, at a dimly lit table alone. She had her hair tucked up in a military green fedora. She wore a jumpsuit that looked like leather with a camouflage pattern print. It was obviously not a typical off the rack garment but a designer ensemble probably custom made for her. On its lapel was a round red button with a blue star. At least he knew where he stood with her politically. A gold skull and cross bones pendant hung around her neck. She wore sunglasses that hid her eyes. But Alexander studied her face: the cheekbones, the bee sting mouth, the round face. She looked bored and yet did not seem to be looking at others in the room. Alexander was not sure, but as he watched her, he became more confident that he knew her.
It took all his self-confidence that he could muster, but he gathered his beer and cigarettes and crossed the room to stand by her table. She did not look up or seem to recognize his presence. Alexander took a deep breath and dared to speak to her. In a quiet voice, he said, “Miss Tremble?”
Only then did she look up at him. Alexander was now sure that he was not mistaken. He dared to ask, “May I sit with you?” She looked at Alexander over the top of her sunglasses as she lowered her head slightly. She smiled slightly.
“Sure” she said and then paused as Alexander sat down opposite her. “Alex, isn’t it?” Alexander blushed and smiled broadly but could not respond. She smiled again, a little more broadly this time. “Alex” she said, “you are not a typical fan!” Alexander beamed at first but then put on his best poker face. He did not want to attract attention to her.
“Miss Tremble,” Alexander began to stammer.
She interrupted him and said, “You can call me Angel. After all, we have met often enough.”
Angel Tremble was no mere acquaintance of Alexander’s. Angel Tremble was the lead singer of “Angel and the Snake” and Alexander had met her at least twelve times after concerts before and had long ago lost count of concerts he had attended.
However, Alexander was not going to blow her cover, as he knew this disguise from a previous encounter in Las Vegas years ago. Angel had always remembered Alexander when she saw him. He always paid to sit or stand directly in front of the stage. In addition, at every concert he had brought her blue roses and held them up until she bent over to accept them. Over the years, Alexander had learned to send the flowers to the venue before the concert. Moreover, when the lights came up, the flowers would be on the stage with the band. When he had the opportunity to speak to her, she never talked about herself, but asked about how Alexander was doing. Alexander never understood fully why she remembered him among all her fans, or why she would speak to him when she declined to speak with others. Perhaps it was his tattoo of her signature and the name of the band or the flowers he always gave her. After all, she was more than a music icon: she was a woman. What woman did not appreciate flowers from an admirer? Somehow, she had sensed that he was no threat or a sycophant.
Alexander knew why she was in Dallas: he had a ticket for a concert the next day. However, he never dreamed that in all the speakeasies in Dallas, she would be at the same one that Alexander went to that night.
Alexander had finished his beer quickly in the excitement of running into the woman he worshipped and Angel had finished her drink as well. She took off her hat and briefly shook her hair. Her trademark two-toned hair fell loose of its constraints as she took out some hairpins. In the dim light with her back against the wall, others could see only the blonde front and not the darker brunette back. As long as she kept her sunglasses on, her disguise still worked although Alexander could not understand why the others in the room still failed to recognize her. However, it had been four years since her last album was available for download and it was hard to stay in the media during her hiatus. The other patrons were just too busy in their own conversations to note the pair now talking at the dim corner table. Alexander also noted that as he was sitting opposite her, facing her, he blocked others’ view of her.
The waiter making the rounds came by their table and took their drink order for another round. The waiter asked her “What will you have blondie?”
Angel winced at the familiarity and asked for a vodka and orange juice. Alexander ordered another beer. “I hate it when men call me that!” Angel said as the waiter left. “When they see a blonde, they assume that you are some bimbo: deaf, dumb and blonde. But I get it all the time, unless someone recognizes me. I call it the curse of blondie: I will get called blondie as long as I have this hair.”
When the waiter returned, Alexander pressed his thumb on the waiter’s order notebook. “Thank you Gary” and then he was gone.
“Gary?” Angel said with some confusion.
Alexander leaned in and whispered across the table, “Only for tonight”. Alexander lit another cigarette and Angel’s as well as she got one out of her own cigarette case.
“Why the fake ID?” she said, but then stopped herself as she recalled past conversations. “Department of Resources isn’t it?”
“Yes”, Alexander said. “I don’t like it but a government job is better than most”.
“I have never been fond of the government” she said “But I can see why you would want a job with them”. Alexander thought a few seconds. He did not want to bore her, but she had brought it up. “Well, I can appreciate those who object to government policies” he said as he paused to take a puff off his cigarette. “But, I still agree with the end result. We do not have the problems we had before”. Alexander could not fully gauge her emotions with the sunglasses on but she responded rather coldly.
“The end justifies the means?”
“It is a necessary evil” Alexander said and left it at that. Alexander decided to drop it there. He had argued government policy with people who considered the New World Order to be fascist and had found that he rarely persuaded any one.
Angel sensed that Alexander had shut down and changed the topic. “You are coming to tomorrow’s concert, aren’t you?”
Alexander laughed. “Of course! And yes, you will have blue roses before the show”.
Angel smiled. “I can always count on you. But I do not want you to spend so much on them! A government worker surely can not afford flowers every time!” She paused a moment. “I can still remember when flowers were cheaper. But the government considers it, what: a waste of arable land to grow flowers?”
Alexander nodded not wanting to defend the ban on use of arable land to grow crops not on the list of approved commodities, a list that his own department helped to enforce. “They grow them hydroponically now in designated industrial zones. It does not use arable land, but, no, they are not inexpensive”.
“Let’s not talk about unpleasant things that neither of us can control!” Angel said with a tone one would expect from a girlfriend to her boyfriend. “Tell me something fun and new that you have been doing. After all, a government employee at a speakeasy! You must be lightening up”.
Alexander smiled, pleased that she had changed the topic. “I have not been to a speakeasy since I started working for the government. It is my birthday and a coworker got me a fake ID to get in. She gave me this” Alexander extended his right hand and Angel took it. “She gave me this thumb sleeve with a fake print to come. So here I am.”
“Well, happy birthday! This is a nice gift. The woman who gave you the ID, she’s a coworker? A government employee passing out fake IDs! Brava!” Angel smiled again. Obviously, the thought of a government worker breaking the law amused her.
“So, I take it that this is your first time to the ‘KooKoo’?” Angel asked. Alexander’s expression was confused. “KooKoo is just another term for Voodoo.” Angel sighed and looked about the room. “It seems that everyone in Dallas is obsessed with New Orleans”.
“Oh, well that is just because of the Cajun and Creole Diaspora. A lot of them resettled in Dallas.”
“I rarely get to stay in any city long enough to get to know a city. But I had a night between gigs. And they put me up here at the ‘French Quarter’. It is close to the arena. We are playing at the Cotton Bowl which I am told is in the Texas State Fairgrounds…but you know that.”
“So, how did you know about the “KooKoo”?” Alexander pressed.
“One of the things a road manager is good for is to know what hotels, what restaurants, and what speakeasies the band can go to when we are in a city over night.” Angel took a drink and got out another cigarette. Alexander got out another himself and lit them both. “Why is it that Southern men do that and northern men don’t?” Angel asked.
Alexander blushed. “A Southern gentleman is still chivalrous towards women, even in the twenty second century”.
Angel had been sipping her drink. Alexander had been nervously draining his. “Shall we have another round?” Angel asked.
“What do you suggest?” Alexander inquired, bored with beer.
“I suggest that you try a shot of ‘Rockbird’ or ‘Debravation’, Angel replied.
Alexander admitted, “I am afraid that I do not know what either of them is”.
“They are distilled liqueurs my dear Alex”, Angel explained. “And sense you have had neither I suggest that we each have both”.
Angel got the waiter’s attention and Angel ordered four shots: two of each. After a while, he returned. Alexander pressed his thumb on the waiter’s notebook.
Angel identified which was which to Alexander and took pleasure at watching his reaction to distilled alcohol over one hundred proof. “I can see that you are not much of a drinker!”
“I rarely get out. I don’t like rum or tequila. I prefer cider or mead. But, I think I have had enough”.
“Well. Let’s get out of here. I have not eaten yet. Have you?”
“Is that an invitation to dinner?” Alexander felt it necessary to ask. It was one thing to run into Angel in a speakeasy and have a few drinks. However, it was presumptuous to assume that her inquiry as to whether Alexander had eaten was a question or an invitation.
“That was an invitation”, Angel replied as she twisted her hair back up in a French Twist with the pins she had removed earlier and put on her hat. Alexander was amazed at her dexterity and how she managed it without a mirror. Angel looked at Alexander’s green eyes, so close in color to her own, and reading his thoughts said simply, “Practice”.
“I don’t think we should eat in the ‘Absinthe House’, it is too well lit. You don’t mind room service do you?” Alexander was speechless. He had just had drinks with Angel Tremble and now she was asking him upstairs to her hotel suite. For a devoted fan, probably better to use the root word fanatic, of his favorite diva he was speechless. All Alexander could get out was a stifled “Sure! That is, I don’t mind”.
Together they got up from the booth and headed for the door. Alexander always forgot how petite she was. At six foot tall, Alexander stood head and shoulders above Angel. She walked behind him as they walked and passed through the double doors and Angel took Alexander’s arm as they climbed the sloping hall back up to ground level.
They reached the elevator and quickly caught one to go upstairs. Angel pressed her thumb on the control panel and the uppermost ‘P” button. Angel breathed a sigh of relief as the elevator quickly rose to the penthouse without stopping.
“Have you ever been here before?” she asked Alexander as they both watched the floor lights pass in succession.
“No, I haven’t” Alexander responded though he wondered why she would ask him if he had been to such an expensive Dallas hotel. “I live just a few stops away on the subway”.
Angel realized the strangeness of the question as Alexander answered. “Forgive me. I spend so much time in hotels that it does not occur to me sometimes that most people can just go home at the end of the day”.

The elevator door opened onto a narrow hallway with windows overlooking the city on either end and potted exotic bromeliads flanking the penthouse suite door. Angel pressed her thumb on the keypad next to the twin doors and they opened simultaneously. The suite was like a full sized apartment with a kitchen, dining room, living room, guest bath, and two bedrooms. The furnishings were a mix of reproduction Rococo, Empire and Regency furniture from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The effect with the hand woven rugs, vintage paintings, and luxurious fabrics kept with the hotel’s New Orleans theme. Alexander moved to the windows, which opened out onto a narrow balcony with wrought iron decorative railing in black. Looking down the courtyard below looked like an old, overgrown garden in New Orleans. Angel came and joined him on the balcony.
“I wonder if this is what New Orleans really looked like.” Angel said with a touch of nostalgia. Alexander shrugged and did not know what to say. He had never seen it. He was born long after the Mississippi finally overflowed the levees that had protected the city. Like Venice, New Orleans sank beneath the water. Lake Pontchartrain was now part of the Gulf of Mexico and Baton Rouge was a coastal city. In Texas Galveston and Padre Island were gone. Houston and Corpus Christi were now truly port cities. In Florida, a narrower peninsula had formed on the Atlantic coast down to Miami. The southern tip, which had once been everglades, was now also part of the Gulf of Mexico.
“I do not really know. But I have seen old films shot in New Orleans before it sank.”
“Well, I do not know about you but I am hungry.” They went back into the suite and she picked up the hotel phone and pushed the room service button. “Room service? I would like to order dinner for two. Do you have any meat? I am really not in the mood for vegetarian.” Alexander continued to observe the suite while she spoke on the telephone. “Oh, yes that sounds good. I will have two of ‘The Hunter’ platters and yes, I think some black beans and rice on the side would be good. What is the gumbo?” Angel turned and caught Alexander’s attention. He signaled thumbs up. “Alright, two bowls of gumbo. And since were having the meat, a couple of bottles of red wine…well what ever you have that you think will go well with it. Yes. Thanks.”
She turned to Alexander and spoke apologetically. “I hope you do not mind me ordering for both of us. But, I really did not want to read the room service menu and it will get up here faster.”
“No, I don’t mind at all. You ordered a typical New Orleans meal. But, I have never had meat before. I can’t afford it”.
“Why is meat so expensive and hard to come by?” Angel was not familiar with the Department of Resources’ policies.
“The Department of Resources banned animal husbandry for grain fed animals. The only meat you can get is free range”.
Angel smiled. “Then it will truly be an experience for you! I myself have a fondness for meat. But, like you, I could not always afford it. So, I too grew up pretty much a vegan”. She paused for a while lost in thought. “Before the food gets here, we should find some music to play. And no, I am not going to let you play any of my music! We must find something appropriate we can listen to as we eat to the beat. Let’s listen to something I might never have heard. I will let you pick”.
“Angel, I think that I know what would be perfect”. Alexander found the suite’s music system and found in the menu a New Orleans’ Jazz channel. Alexander started it and Angel listened to a few stanzas.
“That’s an excellent choice, Alex”.
There was a soft chime at the door. A voice called out, “Room Service!” Angel went to the door and a motion sensor caused the doors to open as she approached. The waiter wheeled a cart covered with linen and silver trays into the suite’s dining room. He did not speak but set silverware, three covered trays, wine glasses, and two bottles of wine on the table on each end for the two of them. Angel pressed her thumb on his notebook and he backed out of the suite, the doors closing behind him. When the doors closed, Angel disabled the motion sensor, which allowed automatic control and pressed the “Do Not Disturb” indicator light.
“Now, let’s eat!” She exclaimed.
Alexander unrolled the fake ID sleeve from his thumb and cast it aside. As Alexander poured the wine it struck him that room service had delivered restricted alcoholic beverages. “How is it that we just left a speakeasy and you get wine from room service?”
Angel sipped her wine through her pursed lips. “I am not a typical hotel guest”.
Together they lifted the cover from the entrée platter. Angel identified each type of meat on the platter: a buffalo filet, a few slices of venison, and half a pheasant. She watched Alexander as he tentatively took a bite of each. “Well?”
“It’s different! But, I think I like it, especially the pheasant”.
“Good. I am glad that you like it”. They both ate in relative silence, listening to the jazz. Angel finished before Alexander.
Angel got up and poured Alexander more wine before she went to gaze out the window. She returned to the table, sat, and studied Alexander while he finished. Alexander looked up occasionally to make eye contact but knew that he needed to finish before Angel grew bored.
“Would you care for some more wine?”
“No, thank you. I think I have had enough to drink tonight”. Alexander smiled to show appreciation for the offer. “That was a lot of food! I don’t think I have room for the gumbo or rice and beans. But, I can get them everyday”. Alexander left the other two plates covered.
“We can have it later or save it for breakfast”, Angel said and took a sip of wine. She was watching Alexander’s face to see if he caught the innuendo.
Alexander caught it quickly. “Breakfast?”
“You don’t mind do you? You do not have to work tomorrow?”
“No, but…” Alexander stopped not knowing what to say.
“Alex, it can be lonely to spend nights alone in a hotel suite before a concert”.
“I could stay” Alexander said almost inaudibly. He did not know if an invitation to stay the night necessarily implied sex or if it was just a case of two people sharing the night together. After all, the suite had two bedrooms.
“Good” Angel rose and came to stand behind Alexander. He did not move as she ran her fingers through his hair. “You know, Alex, you actually look a little like you could be my younger brother, except for the red hair. You work with the Department of Resources, but they are not who issues reproduction licenses are they?”
“No, that is the Department of Eugenics”.
“I thought so”, Angel said as she poured more wine in Alexander’s glass despite his earlier decline for more. “You know that I am going to be forty-one this year.”
“Yes, your default reproduction licenses expire in a few years unless you froze some eggs before the deadline.”
“Well, Alex, I have been giving some thought to it recently. I could sell my two permits; I do not want to be a surrogate mother; I do not need the money. But, I do think I want to have children. Ever since my biological mother declined to meet me after my mother died, I have not been able to stop thinking of children. I want to know that I have children of my own and see them grow up. It is a little piece of you preserved for eternity, don’t you think?”
Alexander had thought about children before. As a Cohen, he was expected to have sons. However, he had never met a Jewish woman whom he wanted to marry. Nevertheless, he was still only twenty-six: he had time.
“Alex?” Angel called like a mother to a lost child.
Alexander snapped out of his introspection and answered her simply “Yes, I want to have children eventually”.
Angel continued with her own line of thought. “I just need an intelligent, attractive man…” she trailed off as she drank more wine.
Alexander gazed at a point in the air between them.
“Did you know that Snake and I broke up last year?”
Alexander snapped out of his isolation. “I just read an article about the last four years you spent nursing him back to health. But, there was nothing about you breaking up! You have been together…twelve years.”
“Well, we did not want to bring the article down by saying we had broken up. The article was a feel good piece on Snake getting over his disease. And our relationship was not the focus of the article. I was focused on him getting better.”
“He was sterilized when he was young, wasn’t he? The Department of Eugenics would have caught his genetic disease marker when he was born”.
“Yes, Snake has never had reproduction rights. That is why I never got pregnant. I always wanted children. But, since Snake is no longer an issue, I need someone else to be the father. All I need now is a healthy, young, intelligent, attractive man to help me conceive”.
Alexander was silent for a long time and asked, “Can I have a cigarette?” Angel pulled out her gold cigarette case from her pocket and handed Alexander a cigarette and lighter. Alexander lit the cigarette and inhaled deeply.
“You could pass for my younger brother. So…..”Angel’s voice trailed off as you looked at Alexander over the rim of her glass. “Will you give a girl a little help?”
Alexander threw back a massive gulp of his wine and took another deep draw on his cigarette. Of all the women in the world, he worshipped Angel above all others from afar until that night. Now Angel was asking him to spend the night with her.
“Alex, I have a narrow window of opportunity while I am ovulating”. She rose and crossed over to where he sat motionless. She leaned over, kissed him on the mouth, and then looked into his eyes. As her hand found a nipple under his shirt, she kissed him again, deeply. Alexander rolled his head back and he was hers. She took his hand and walked with him to the bedroom and its massive bed with designer sheets of blue. “Windows!” Angel said quickly and the electric windows turned opaque.

Alexander woke in the morning alone in the bed. His clothes were scattered around the floor. He heard Angel in the kitchen. Alexander pulled the top sheet off the bed and made his way out of the bedroom, wrapped in blue.
Angel sat at the dining table drinking a cup of rose hip tea. She was watching a NWONN news broadcast. Alexander ran his fingers through his hair, pulling it away from his face, and sat at the table opposite to her. “I think you need to watch this,” she said nodding at the video screen. “Can I get you anything?” Angel asked.
“I’ll have a cup of tea”, Alexander responded softly and Angel put the kettle back on the stove and got out a cup and more of her private stock of rose hip tea. He turned his attention to the broadcast. The first thing he noticed was the emergency alert banner at the bottom of the screen. Overnight, bombs in the subways had exploded under the government buildings in major cities throughout North America. The bombs were powerful enough to destroy the subway stations and the buildings above. Martial law had been declared. The Revolutionary Party had claimed responsibility. No estimates were available as to how many had died. Between shots of the devastation of the government buildings the correspondent cut to footage of Revolutionary Party members celebrating in the streets and the militia in full riot gear surrounding what had been the government centers the day before.
The water came to a boil and she poured hot water over the tea bags in the two cups. Carefully she came back into the dining room, set down her teacup and then set a cup before Alexander.
“What are you going to do?” She asked as the tea brewed.
“Well,” Alexander spoke in his initial shock, “I seem to be out of a job for a while. The bombers did not get the mainframe. The mainframe that backs up basic individual identification data is at a secret facility deep underground. All they destroyed was local data at the buildings destroyed on Eugenics and Resources not yet backed up. But even if we found a temporary location, it will take days to find and restore the data. We will have to start over on the data base.”
“Alex, I think you might want to leave the city. As long as they are rioting, you are a target. You can not even buy food without your government employee status being known”. Angel spoke with concern for Alexander. There was no hint of approval or disapproval of the bombings. She was not talking politics. She was worried for Alexander.
“I do not even think they will miss me for a few days. I will have to contact someone. But with the regional departments destroyed, I do not know who”. Alexander looked up with tears in his eyes.
“Alex, what is it?”
“Angel, they don’t know what they have done! They think that with the New World Order gone that life will be freedom with no worries. But, they do not appreciate how much we did to provide for their needs. It will be chaos again.” Alexander covered his face with his hands. “They never believed that we had their best interests in mind. In days, without government control, the groceries will be out of food and they will not know where their next meal is coming from”.
“Alex, you know that I never supported the New World Order. But, I never supported a violent revolution either. But now I am more concerned about you”.
Alexander looked at Angel. He was lost without the order that the government provided. “What am I going to do?”
“Alex, you are not an elected government member. You just work for the government. During the riots, you could disappear for a while. And I think you need protection or to get out of Dallas”,
“What am I going to do? I do not even know how I can get home!”
“Alex, let me take care of you for a while. I have security and the means to get you out of Dallas”. She walked over to Alexander, leaned over, and kissed him. “I have a sound check today. Before then, let my driver take you home and get a few things together. Then you can come back for the sound check and after the concert, you can leave Dallas with me.”
“What if the government tries to contact me?”
“Alex, what do you do for them? You input data to a computer. Many people will be unaccounted for during the riots. Do you really want to stay in Dallas and wait to go back to work?”
“Angel, I hate my job. But, I have a decent salary and benefits. I am not even sure if it would be criminal for me to just disappear.”
“You do not have anything to worry about if we get you out of Dallas until things calm down. I can take care of you until you know what to do.”
Alexander laid his head against her shoulder. She stroked his hair and kissed him. “Look on the bright side. This may be your opportunity to start a new life”.
Alexander began to cry again. Angel held him and realized that for him, the loss of the government job was not the problem. It was his fear of anarchy. She always wanted the overthrow of the New World Order. However, she never knew someone on the inside who knew just how dependent society was on it. “Alex, don’t give up. Let me do this for you.”
Alexander felt hopeless without her and he knew that he was going to turn his life over to her. He could not imagine a world without the New World Order, but Angel could protect him and provide for him.
“Why don’t you go get dressed while I heat up your rice and beans from last night. My schedule is hectic. You need to eat: we may not get a chance to eat again until after the concert tonight.”
“Yes, I do need to eat. I’ll get dressed”. He hugged her and realized that while he had been her lover overnight, in the morning she was his surrogate mother. He released his embrace and gathered the sheet about him again as he got up. He walked into the bedroom with his mind empty except for the comfort of being with her.
When Alexander emerged again from the bedroom, he sat down and ate the rice and beans that Angel had placed on the table. Angel set opposite him and ate as well.
When they had finished, Angel advised Alexander: “I am going to call my driver and have him ready to take you home to get a few things. While I get ready for the sound check, you go to your place and pack enough clothes and what ever you need for at least a week. My driver will bring you back here. And then, you will spend the rest of the day with me.” Angel looked at Alexander who was still unresponsive. “Alex?”
“Yes. I’ll do that. So, what, I am going to be a roadie for a while?”
“That is an excellent idea! You will just travel with me for the duration of this tour until you decide what to do”. Angel came over to where Alex sat and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.
Angel left the table briefly to get her notebook. When she returned she made a few taps and then handed it over to Alexander. “Can I get your thumb print?” Alexander pressed his thumb on the notebook and with a touch transferred all his personal data to her contacts.
“I have a sound check at four this afternoon. You will need to come back here before I leave. I will leave word at the box office to refund your ticket and give you an all access pass. Do you have your cell phone?”
Alexander and Angel traded phones. They each put their thumb on the phones’ sensor pads. With a touch, they programmed each other’s phones with their contact information.
Angel’s cell phone began to ring and she started her day of speaking with her tour manager to go over her schedule. When they finished their tea, Alexander checked the suite for any of his things. Angel called for her limousine to be prepared. Angel walked Alexander to the elevator.
“I will see you later then my darling man”, she kissed him, and when the elevator arrived, she stepped in long enough to press the appropriate button to take him to the hotel’s parking garage where her Autoamerican electric limousine waited. She kissed him again and stepped out while the door closed.

Alexander got off the elevator in the parking garage where, Frank, her driver was waiting for him. They went to the limousine together and Frank let him in the rear. He unplugged the car, got behind the wheel, and pulled out of the garage.
As he pulled out and rounded the corner of the hotel, the driver asked “Where to sir?” and Alexander gave him directions. Alexander watched the route home through the luxury of a limousine window rather than in the darkness of the subway. However, all he saw was jubilant revolutionaries in the streets and the militia on almost every corner.
Frank pulled up in front of Alexander’s apartment building and let him out. Alexander quickly packed for about a week’s absence. He double checked to see if he had left anything he might need. He looked around the apartment. About the only thing left was a heart on a wall that Carol had given him in college. Alexander called down to Frank to help him with his three bags. Frank came up and carried what Alexander could not, loading the limousine’s trunk. As they pulled away from the apartment building and headed back to the hotel, it occurred to Alexander that he might not be coming back. The main streets were full of Revolutionary Party members and sympathizers. The militia kept a few lanes open to traffic.
When they returned to the hotel, they pulled into the underground parking garage. Once in the garage, the driver parked and opened the door for Alexander to get out. Once the driver had plugged the car in to recharge, together they walked to the elevators. The driver put his thumb on the sensor pad and pressed the penthouse button. They rode up in the elevator in silence.
When the elevator doors opened on the penthouse floor, the driver set Alexander’s bags out and then got back in the car. “I will see you later, sir” and he tipped his hat as the doors closed.
Alexander picked up his bags. He made his way towards the door and pressed the bell. Cheryl came to the door, and let him in. “Are the three bags all you brought?” Her tone seemed sarcastic to express disapproval.
“Yes” Alexander said with some embarrassment as he entered the suite.
“Is that Alex?” Angel’s voice came from the bedroom.
Cheryl went into the bedroom and returned only to say flatly, “Angel wants to see you now”.
Alexander went into the bedroom as she was preparing to leave for the sound check. Angel looked him over as though she was checking to see if he was appropriately dressed. He was wearing black jeans, and an Angel and the Snake T-shirt from a previous tour. Angel smiled briefly. “Well, you will blend in with the others. But, we may not be coming back to the hotel. You might want to change into something more formal.”
Angel called again for Cheryl. “Call Nigel and get him over here to help. I think we should take everything with us. I do not think we will come back after the sound check”.
Alexander went into the second bedroom and dressed in another pair of black slacks, a white shirt, and a narrow black tie. He put everything back in his suitcases and took them to the living room.
After a few minutes, the phone rang and Cheryl answered. “Send him up”. She put down the phone and called into Angel, “That was the front desk. Nigel is here. He’s on his way up”. Shortly the bell rang and Cheryl let Nigel, a roadie, in. “Angel is going to need help getting everything down stairs. She wants to take every thing to the sound check. We may not be coming back to the hotel.” She turned to Alexander “This is Alex”. Alexander nodded and managed a simple “Hi”. However, Nigel did not seem to care. He followed Cheryl into the bedroom and Alexander could faintly here them discuss what was ready to be taken down to Nigel’s tour van. Nigel emerged and asked Alexander, “Angel will be a while. Meanwhile, is your stuff ready to go down?” “Yes”, Alexander pointed out his three bags. Nigel scoffed and gathered them up and left the suite with them.
Alexander stood outside Angel’s bedroom as she filled trunks with performance costumes, makeup and hairpieces. She was dressed simply and surveyed the room. She spoke to Cheryl. “I think that is everything. Call Nigel back up to carry this down”.
Angel came out of the bedroom and sat down. Alexander joined her. She pulled out her cigarette case, offered Alexander a cigarette, and took one out for herself. Alexander lit them both. Angel took a puff and then went to retrieve her notebook.
“Alexander, I want you to help me with something. Just a moment, do I have my reproduction licenses stored on my notebook somewhere?”
“You should” Alexander said not understanding what she was doing.
“I want you to help me find them. I need to make some changes I think. You told me last night that my reproductive permits will expire soon due to my age, right?”
“Yes, after forty the chances of a woman having a child with a birth defect go up.”
“Alright, then help me find those permits and help me fill them out”
“Now,” Alexander pressured, “before the sound check?”
“Yes” I want to have you help me fill them out before I forget”.
Angel unlocked her notebook and then handed it to Alexander.
“It will take me a few minutes”. Alexander started going through the menu to locate Angel’s government permits copies. Soon Alexander had navigated through the Department of Eugenics section to Angel’s reproduction licenses. “Angel”, Alexander called her back to his side, “I found them. They expire in four years”.
“Good. I would not have known that they had expired if you had not told me. Let’s fill them out”.
“First to initiate the form changes, I need your thumb print in this field”.
Angel pressed her thumb on the form and an image of her print appeared in a box on the form.
“Now we have to make the choices at the bottom. You need to chose “freeze ova”, “in vitro fertilization by a sperm donor”, or “in vitro fertilization by designated father”.
Angel looked at them. “I want in vitro fertilization by designated father”.
“Fine, but you will need to give your imprint again on this field next to it.” Angel hesitantly pressed her thumb carefully in the appropriate field. Again, her print image appeared. “Alright, you will need your designated father to fill out this section”. Angel took the notebook from Alexander and then took Alexander’s right wrist and guided his hand over the notebook.
“Angel,” Alexander looked into her eyes and asked, “are you sure you want to do this?”
“Alexander, after you imprinted your data on my notebook this morning I looked it over. You are intelligent; your IQ was ‘gifted’ over 140! You have no genetic disease markers, you look so much like me, except for the red hair but I love the way it curls up into locks when you leave it down. Your statistics are great: your mental profile shows that you are almost equally right and left brained. I have heard you sing my songs, so I know that the child will be able to sing. On the other hand, who knows? The child could do almost anything”. With that, Angel pushed Alexander’s hand closer to the pad.
Alexander took the pad from her a squarely poised his thumb over ‘designated father’ he took a deep breath and pushed his thumb down. Having done that, all of his personal data filled the ‘designated father’ section. “Now we need a witness”.
Angel called out for Cheryl. Cheryl came out of the bedroom. “Yes?”
“Cheryl, I need you as a witness on some documents”
Cheryl looked perplexed. “Now? We have to get ready for the sound check!”
Alexander explained for her, “All we need is your ID on a couple of documents”
“What documents?”
“My reproduction licenses, they expire in four years and Alex is helping me fill them out.”
Cheryl immediately looked shocked. “Angel, you can not get pregnant now, not during a tour!”
“They are for in vitro fertilization. I can do it anytime in the next four years”.
“Yes, but Angel who are you going to have be the father of these children? You just broke up with Snake and he cannot be the father. Who are you going to designate? You have not even started dating again?”
Angel turned to Alexander and then back at Cheryl.
“Oh, Angel devil don’t you dare! He is just a fan! He’s just an available man that you spent the night with!”
“Cheryl, I have gone over Alex’s DNA print. He is perfect. He also looks a lot like me, don’t you think? He could be my younger brother. Cheryl, I have chosen him: I have known Alex for years and his DNA print and looks would give me beautiful, talented children. I have made up my mind”.
“What ever! If you have made up your mind I can’t dissuade you.” She plopped down on the couch next to Angel opposite Alexander.
Angel handed her notebook to Cheryl. Alexander addressed Cheryl. “We have already filled out the first one. Do you see the ‘witness’ space at the bottom? Just press your thumb there.”
Cheryl found the box and pressed her thumbprint on the form. It automatically filled out the witness information. “Are we done?”
“Now we have to do the second permit as well, if that is if Angel wants two children and she doesn’t want to pick out another option in the next four years”.
“No, I want to do them both now”, Angel declared. “I do not want to wait and have the other one expires because I did not fill it out.”
Alexander pulled up her second permit and together they completed the second. “Angel, if we do not do this within the next four years it will become null and void”.
“I thought we agreed this morning that you are going to be with me a while until this revolution mess is over”
“We did, but this is going to have us pretty much joined at the hip for four years. It may not seem to terribly romantic, but when a woman assigns a man to be the designated father, it is a second class common marriage unless both parties fill out a single parent form to go with it.”
Angel kissed Alexander, “Let’s not”.
“Oh, there is one more thing.” Alexander interjected.
“What?” Angel and Cheryl said in chorus.
“I have my own reproduction licenses that I have not filled out”.
Both women looked baffled. Cheryl spoke impatiently “Men do not have their own reproduction licenses!” “Well,” Alexander tried to speak politely as Cheryl was a little high strung, “I do because I am a Cohen”.
Angel turned to Alexander as Cheryl did as well, expecting an explanation.
“I am Jewish, and because I am a Cohen, I am allowed two sons”. He took Angel’s hand because he did not think she would like the conditions. “But, Angel, you can not be the mother because you are not Jewish.”
Alexander explained to both of the women “My sons will have to be carried by a surrogate Jewish mother unless I find a nice Jewish girl to marry. And I have not found it easy to find a single, nice Jewish girl that wants to marry me. So, if I opt for a surrogate Jewish mother, they will send my sperm to Israel and find one or two women, preferably the daughters of the Cohen line to be the surrogate mother.Let me get my notebook.”
Alexander got his notebook and brought up his own reproductive licenses and quickly filled out the options for in vitro fertilization by a Jewish woman, preferably Israeli. He handed the notebook to Angel.
“Why do you need my ID if I am not going to be the mother?”
“I need you as a witness. And, since I am the designated father on your permits, they really expect my common law wife to witness the permit acknowledging that you are agreeable”.
“I am your common law wife?” Angel said in bewilderment.
“Technically, for government purposes as the designated father of your children, I am your second class common law husband. It is a technicality: if you raise your children as a single parent, as the sperm donor I am still technically your children’s father. Under most circumstances without a civil union, as the father of your children we would have a first class common law marriage.”
Cheryl was not amused. “Alex, you understand that with Angel’s assets she can not simply become your wife!”
“Well, technically she isn’t. But as the sperm donor, I do have limited rights to my children who ever the mother is. It is not a legal marriage. It is just a second class common law marriage when it comes to the mothers of my children”
“So, these two anonymous Israeli women are also common law wives?”
“Yes, they are, technically”.
Cheryl was annoyed. “Great Angel, you are now the common law wife of a polygamist!”
Alexander quickly filled out his second permit and Angel witnessed it.
Cheryl interrupted their moment together with a blunt announcement: “You need to get Nigel up here to take your stuff down. We do not have much time.””Yes”, Nigel should be on is way up about now. He took Alex’s bags down” The bell rang. “That should be him”.
The four of them went into Angel’s bedroom and each picked up as much of her luggage as possible. Angel made a quick visual sweep of the room. “I think that is everything”
They left the suite and the four of them left together to take the elevator down. Angel pressed her thumb on the pad and the parking garage button. When the doors opened, Frank was waiting and escorted everyone but Nigel to the limousine. Frank and Nigel loaded Angel’s things into the tour van. Cheryl got in the front seat and Frank opened the rear door for Angel and Alexander. As soon as Frank was behind the wheel, they pulled out of the garage. Nigel followed.

They drove through the streets lined with militia and Revolutionary partisans. Alexander looked at them as they drove past. There faces were beaming as though the revolution was over.
“I do not understand why you did not cancel the concert tonight? Will it be safe?” Alexander asked.
Cheryl turned to look at him disapprovingly. Angel shot her a look and she turned to Alexander. “Well, despite everything, we got a call today from some government official to confirm that we would still have the concert”. Angel seemed perturbed. “It was, in their opinion, necessary not to recognize the bombings this morning and to have the concert as scheduled…so as not to give further notice to the Revolutionary Party and continue as though the government was still in full power”.
They pulled up into the fairgrounds and were directed to a small parking lot behind the Cotton Bowl. Outside the fairgrounds, there was a sizable militia presence. Outside the Cotton Bowl, there were extra police officers, more than usual for an event. Once they were behind the Cotton Bowl, Frank parked the car. Cheryl got out on her own. Angel waited for Frank to open the door for her. Angel climbed out and Alexander followed her closely. A roadie opened the rear doors and as Angel passed him, she said, “This is Alexander. He is with me today and tonight. Get him an all access pass. Thanks”.
Alexander made his way down to the stadium field and then made his way to the front of the stage. The stadium and stage were fully lit with roadies and employees moving about. His blue roses in a vase that were delivered earlier were in front of Angel’s microphone stand. The sound check was behind schedule. The drummer was late. When he finally appeared, Angel greeted him. “Your hair is beautiful tonight”. It was subtle jab: they often ran late as their drummer worked on his hair.
As the sound check started, Alexander spotted a group of militia come in with the New World Order tricolor bunting and while the band tuned up and checked sound levels, the militia started draping the proscenium with bunting. Alexander drifted into an uneasy contemplation. He understood why they would put up the government’s tricolor on the same day as the bombings, but he wondered how the audience would respond. He could here Angel sing familiar tunes but he could not stop watching the stage transform with the government colors. Alternating Texas state flags and tricolor flags were raised on the flagpoles.
Angel and the band were oblivious to the decoration of the stage as they focused their attention on their equipment and occasional exchanges between band members and technicians in the sound booth. When each instrument was tuned and its sound checked and when Angel had checked her own wireless microphone sound level, the group performed only a single song from the new album completely. The rest were just a few stanzas from each song on the play list.
After it was finished, Angel came down to the stadium field and sat down next to Alex while the roadies finished with the stage settings. “How did it sound?” At first, Alexander said nothing. Angel brought him out of his distraction. “Alex? How did it sound?”
Alexander turned. “It sounded great. But I have never heard you perform in an outdoor stadium without the noise of the crowd.”
“Yes, but as long as we can hear ourselves and everything is balanced, it should sound as good to the audience. You do get more echoes in an empty stadium. But they increase the amplifiers’ volume during a concert.” She paused. “You seem distracted”.
“Did you notice what they were doing while you were playing?”
“No, who did what?” She looked at the stage and saw the bunting now on the proscenium. “That is not good. I know that they think it is patriotic to put up the flag today, but I do not think that they have considered our audience”.
“Exactly”, Alexander spoke with earnest “how is the audience going to respond?”
Snake called from the stage to Angel. “I’ll be right back”.
Angel approached the stage and Snake squatted down to lean closer to her. He spoke with obvious agitation and she replied and then raised both her arms as in surrender.
She came back to Alexander and sat down quickly. “The militia has informed us that the government has requested that they play ‘One World’ before we come on. I don’t think that the audience is going to like that”
One World was the government’s anthem. “Can they do that?”
“The last artist who refused to allow the anthem to be played before her concert never got another concert on this continent”. Angel leaned back and closed her eyes. “I have a bad feeling about this. What time is it?”
“It is a little after five”.
“Doors open at seven and we do not go on until eight. So, we have only about two and a half hours. We should be able to do this.”
“Cheryl!” Angel called in the direction of the stage. “I do not know about you but Alex and I have not eaten since this morning. Could we get some pizzas or something delivered for everyone?”
“Not a problem! They say that can get it here in about thirty minutes.
“Alex, I need to get dressed and do my hair and make up. You can stay down here or come up on stage and hang out with the guys.”
Together Angel and Alexander made their way backstage. Angel went into a make shift dressing room off stage and as she passed she said, “Guys, this is Alex. He will be with us tonight”.
Alexander had met all of the band members in the past at least once, but unlike Angel, they remembered him vaguely. Alex exchanged greeting with everyone. Oblivious to Alexander, they just sat about, talking and smoking cigarettes and drinking cider while they waited for the pizza delivery. Alexander felt awkward. Over the years, the only stable members of the band had been Angel and Snake. Other musicians had come and gone with each album and each tour. Snake was a very quiet man of few words and as Alexander had come with Angel, he could sense a male rivalry between them. Snake may have moved on, but he still looked at Angel’s male companion for the night like a disapproving ex-husband. Angel was fifteen years older than Alexander and Snake was a little older than she was. Therefore, Snake was almost old enough to have been Alexander’s father.
Cheryl brought the pizzas back stage and everyone converged on the stack of boxes. Cheryl turned to Alexander with the vegetarian pizza and said, “I assume that this was for you”.
Alexander thanked her and she gathered up a box and took it to the dressing room for Angel and herself. The group ate quickly and the roadies finished off most of the pizzas. Alexander sat by himself with his own box and ate the whole pizza. It was lunch and dinner for him.
When he finished, Alexander explored the stadium and made his way to the front where he could see out the front gates to the front of the stadium. Surrounding the concert hall there were militia lined up on the street and extra police were at the entrance where people had already gathered to get in when the gates opened.
Alexander returned to the stage and waited with the band and roadies. Before the gates were to open, Cheryl opened the dressing room door and called for Alexander. He quickly made his way across the stage, dodging equipment and entered the dressing room’s door.
Angel sat at her dressing table mirror applying the final additions to her makeup. She wore a layered costume with a white jacket and a white tulle skirt over a dark body suit. She smiled as she saw Alexander in her mirror. Alexander came and stood beside her.
“You look beautiful”, Alexander said with admiration.
“Thank you!” Angel turned and stood to face him.
“Cheryl? Would you take a picture of Alex and me together before they open the doors?” Angel took Alexander out on stage and they stood together center stage.
Cheryl was getting ready when Angel stopped her. “I just one thing before you take the picture!” Angel quickly went to where Alexander’s flowers were placed and pulled them out of the vase. She returned and held her flowers as she posed with Alexander.
“Are you ready?” Cheryl asked impatiently.
“Yes!” Angel confirmed and Alexander tried to bend at the knees so that their heads would be side by side in the shot.
“OK, I got it! Now could you put the flowers back and get Alexander off stage?”
As Angel returned her roses to their vase, she spoke to Alexander. “Now, there is going to be a mixed crowd and some of them might be a little worked up over today. So, I want you to be careful and try to find some friendly fans you can blend in with, Have a good time and enjoy the show. I think after they play the anthem that things will be pretty normal. You have your all access pass so the employees and management will probably be very accommodating. Just relax and enjoy the concert. When it is over, we will probably head out as soon as we can.” She reached up to kiss him on the cheek. “Just be careful! I will see you later baby.” She gave him a broad smile and held his hands in hers. Alexander smiled and left to get a spot on the first row of seats on the stadium field before the seats filled.

The concert was about to start when the anthem “One World” played over the loud speakers. The audience booed and hissed but was content to drown out the anthem. Alexander waited at the proscenium but felt uneasy among the crowd. Not comfortable among the disapproving crowd and wanting to calm down he went to the side of the stadium where concession stands had opened to get a drink.
He approached the man behind the counter and the man saw Alexander’s all access pass and lipstick mark on his cheek. “Hey man! Is that whose lipstick I think it is?”
Alexander looked in the mirror behind the counter and saw the imprint of Angel’s kiss. He blushed and smiled.
“Awesome!” the man said and leaned into Alexander a little closer. The anthem had stopped playing and the crowd was just beginning to quiet down. “Can I get you something stronger than water?”
Alexander was taken aback. He had not expected to be offered an alcoholic beverage. “Sure, can I get a beer?”
“No problem” the man got an opaque plastic cup and slid his cooler lid over to the other side and discreetly poured beer into the cup from a tap. “I just need your ID first”.
Instinctively, Alexander put his thumb on the register’s pad.
Suddenly, the man’s expression turned to anger. He looked over to a manager nearby and called out “Government!”
Alexander suddenly realized why Angel had told him to be careful.
The manager came over and said to Alexander “I can see that you are with the band but we can not serve you!”
The mere word ‘government’ had attracted the attention of a group of rowdy patrons wearing blue shirts with red stars. Alexander was quickly surrounded. Someone screamed out “Fascist!” and in an instant Alexander saw the glint of a gun barrel and three shots rang out. The bullets hit Alexander in the chest like a sledgehammer and he hit the ground.
Before he lost consciousness, he heard screams and the sound of running feet.
He came around briefly when the sound of police horns blared and all the lights in the stadium came on. He was vaguely aware of the sight of armed militia surrounding him and the increasing sound of sirens outside.
However, he was not alone on the ground. He could see a figure in white tulle crouching beside him, but blood in his eyes kept him from focusing.
“Get the paramedics in here!” someone called out on a bullhorn.
“Alex! Alex!” he could hear Angel’s voice. He managed to lift the arm that was not pinned beneath him where he lay and he felt her hand grasping his. “Where are the paramedics?” He could here the pandemonium around him. However, he heard Angel’s voice distinctly. “Alex! Alex!” He squeezed harder to let her know that he could hear her. “Hold on baby! Where are the paramedics?”
The militia parted as paramedics moved to Alexander on the ground. He felt pressure on his chest and multiple hands turning him over and lifting him.
A masculine voice said, “Miss, we need to take him out to the ambulance”
Alexander heard Angel plead, “I’m going with him!”
The same masculine voice said, “We have him now. We need to get him to the hospital.”
“He is the designated father of my children!” Alexander heard. Even though he was now being carried on a gurney, he could still feel Angel’s grasp on his hand.
He was vaguely aware of what was going on around him. He could see the interior of the ambulance through a red liquid haze and the paramedics but he could also still see a figure in white that he heard crying in the ambulance as the doors closed and it sped off,
The drive was out of time. Alexander did not know if he was experiencing seconds or minutes. He heard the constant voices of paramedics and saw them moving around him. He heard the constant blare of the siren. However, he could also hear the voice most distinctive to him in the world: Angel. He had never before heard her cry. Yet, occasionally he heard his name.
The ambulance stopped and the doors opened in a harsh artificial light in the darkness outside Baylor’s Emergency Room. The figure in white got out and was by his side as men and women in hospital scrubs pulled the gurney out into the night. In addition, he could feel Angel’s hand on his body and could hear that voice that he always was able to distinguish from others in a din of sounds.
The gurney rolled on until he could perceive a ceiling and bright lights and a strong masculine voice saying, “You have to let go Miss! We’re taking him into surgery.” He turned his head. His eyes were clearer now and he could see Angel in the white tulle, but the red was no longer in his eyes but stained her dress. She looked remarkably similar to the statue of Cassandra crying in the park. Alexander felt Angel’s hand pulling away from him. However, he could still hear that voice and it called his name and slowly faded as the gurney moved swiftly forward.
He could feel the gurney under him and now the bright lights of the operating room. Again, he felt multiple hands under him and the sensation of being lifted and set down again on a cold, metallic table. People moved rapidly around him in the glare of bright lights. He felt a plastic mask cover his mouth and nose. He felt cold, odd scented gases enter the mask and his nose and lungs. Then the lights and voices of people around him began to fade and darkness and silence over took him.

This story is continued at http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/9062015/2112_cassandra_vindicated_continued.html?cat=44
or you can just hit Supporting Links to go to part two and the conclusion.

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