The Story-a-Day prompt for today was to write about an assembly. Well, I wrote about a gathering of people, but the beginning section, which is the only part I’m sharing, focuses on two characters. The rest of the story, which I’m still working on, has more to say about the crowd.
The manager, a long-time drunk and devourer of mysterious pills, double booked the conference hall and ballroom. Before he locked himself in the supply closet, he told the event organizers to fight it out.
Lydia Friday Gomez stared at Jus Ferguson and he stared back.
Lydia was the organizer of Practitioners of Esoteric Arts, Crafts, and Erotica. In 1919, her great-grandmother had begun the society in her living room. This was the hundredth anniversary and promised to be the most powerful and amazing gathering yet.
Jus had brought together academics and government representatives interested in establishing a department dedicated to overseeing and enforcing the country’s holy and faith-based standards and practices. They hadn’t yet chosen a name for themselves, but Jus had reserved the space under the name Administration for Religious Standards with the hope that printing it on all the conference’s programs would make it a fait accompli.
“It stands to reason,” Jus said instead of a proper introduction, “that a conference supported by the government for the express purpose of improving the lives of the tax paying citizens has priority.” For behind came grunts of agreement and a few hard claps.
Lydia tapped the sign-in book. “It is clear that we were given an agreement for the space several months before you.” A murmur of voices rustled behind her.
“Our mission carries more weight than your calendar.”
“You have files and PowerPoints. You can be easily accommodated elsewhere. They’ve offered the mezzanine and the entirety of the restaurant. Surely you and your colleagues would enjoy easier access to the food and drink.” She smiled, but anyone who knew her recognized the anger behind it. “We, however, have tables of art and other wares and performances. We can’t simply move among tables or fit just anywhere.”
“What we’re carrying is of no importance in this matter. It is not our fault that you put so much of your time and faith in bric-a-brac and dust collectors. We have devoted ourselves to government service not magic tricks and con jobs. Frankly, if I had my way, you wouldn’t be allowed to set up anywhere. You’re all a drain on decency, fooling people into believing fairies will save their souls and magic will keep society in order. Well it won’t. And you are no better than common criminals.”
The crowd behind fell silent though their anger could be felt like a wave of heat crashing over all in the hotel lobby.
“Pardon me, but it seems in your passion for your mission you have made a few errors. Understandable. Why, just the other day I was in such high excitement to meet my lover that I missed a few hooks in my favorite corset. But unlike my lover who had other things to think about and so didn’t deign to notice, I am very much focused on you and the points, hooks if you will, that you have not really tied together correctly.” A few soft notes of laughter drifted from both crowds. “No one who knows what they’re talking about believes fairies save souls. If fairies even exist—and we have a panel discussion planned for this evening on the varying beliefs expressed in our members’ work—they are far more likely to trick you into handing over your soul so that they may cut into tiny fairy-sized portions to serve with tea. And we have never subscribed to the belief that magic should be used to attempt order. Such efforts go against magic’s inherent nature. As to your bold assertion that we are no better than common criminals, I have no interest in disputing. I’ve seen the like whom you choose to call common and criminal and I am not at all bothered for you to see us in the same light. And it is irrelevant in any case as we were given the space first and we must insist on our good faith request being honored. Your devotion to government service is between you and your chosen authority figure. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have an event to set up for.”
Jus’s face had turned progressively red. “I will not excuse you anything. I will, in fact, be calling the proper authorities.” Just turned to a man standing nearby. “What are you waiting for? Call security.” Jus looked back at Lydia. “You will be removed from the premises if you do not leave of your own volition. And be careful what you say next because I’m close to have you arrested for disorderly conduct, conduct unbecoming a citizen, resisting proper and just orders, and interfering with official government business. I’ll bring charges against every single on of you. Don’t think I won’t. I have the entire weight of the government behind me.”
Twenty-year-old Lydia Friday Gomez generally had her mother’s calm disposition. Even when angry, Vita Friday Jones, kept measured tones and dealt with her annoyances with aplomb. But Lydia had piece of her great-grandmother’s heart, the piece containing fury and excellent ideas for vengeance, and Lydia hadn’t quite learned how to manage that aspect of herself. Her great-grandmother, Amoret Friday, had died long before Lydia was born, but Lydia often heard her great-grandmother’s voice and talked to her in dreams. “That weight,” Lydia said to Jus Ferguson, “must be very heavy indeed.”
“It is a weight I carry with pride!” Jus stood like a soldier. “Now are you leaving of your own freewill? Or do you prefer to be dragged.”
“When I leave, I shall fly. But we’re not leaving.”
“You can glare at me all you want. It won’t stop the police.” Turning to march off into the midst of fellow attendees, Jus staggered, moaned and stumbled, falling to one knee. The people around, froze for a few seconds before jumping into action. But they were too late.
Thanks for reading.