“It’s stupid,” Norbert said the next day. He didn’t even sound enraged or anything. Just kinda resigned to it, like he’d seen it so much before. “It’s so stupid. That’s what Petra would say. Counter-productive. When there’s so much else going on, to get caught selling some minor illegal narcotic. Well, now there’s nothing we can do but show up. Sometimes they throw these things outa court and sometimes they slam you in jail for life. They’ll probably try and cut a deal. Take a plea for possession, avoid a trial for trafficking. Even then it could mean five years.”
Loren was rubbing Billy’s feet on the couch. He was moaning. “All this opposing oppression is hard work, man.”
Gus shoved a newspaper across to me. “You probably don’t wanna see this.”
Two pictures on the front page. One shot of the crowd, focusing on a face painted with American stars and stripes next to a sign, “Stop Big Brother’s War Machine,” and a forest of hands flashing peace signs. The other shot was an old guy in a baseball cap standing by the sidelines as the march went by, giving thumbs-down and a disgusted look on his face. The caption under the pictures said, “Two views: Youthful protesters criticized American presence in Vietnam but not everyone agreed.”
The headline on the page was “3,000 rally against Canadian aid in U.S. war”
“Three thousand? More like thirty,” I said.
Halfway down the article:
Behind the “Make Love Not War” placards, a Marxist faction waved red flags and denounced everyone from “Imperialist warmongerers” to “Fascist pigs.”
“No one said nothing about fascist pigs.”
This group was later involved in a violent fracas with counter-demonstrators opposed to the Soviet Union’s own domination of countries behind the Iron Curtain.
Organizers said the radical Marxists were not part of the umbrella group that sponsored the rally.
“We don’t condone the actions of far-left fringe groups who use the anti-war movement for their own purposes,” said Todd Dobell, spokesperson for the rally’s organizing committee.
“We didn’t start any fracas,” I said.
“And what’s the Soviet Union got to do with it? We were opposed to both the US and the Soviets,” said Gus. “But the best is yet to come.”
I turned to the inside page where the article continued.
“Oh, shit.” There at the top of the column was a picture of me. Not that anyone could recognize me. My face was contorted like a maniac, my fists aimed at this older guy who was out of focus.
The caption was, “FIGHT AT THE PEACE RALLY: Pro-Soviet demonstrator attacks spectator following rally in Vancouver.”
“Shit,” I said again. “He attacked me. “
“How the hell could anyone think we’re pro-Soviet?” Gus said.
“I was falling from being pushed.”
“You just have to read the leaflets to know we’re against both superpowers.”
“Were we at the same demo?” Gus said. “Almost every line here … even the slogans.…”
“What’d you expect?” said Norbert. “One demonstration would change everything?”
Yeah I did, I thought. Maybe not everything. But something.
And why’d they pick on me? Of all the people there, why me? This picture could go across the country. My parents and people back in Toronto could see it. Even if they couldn’t be sure it was me, they’d wonder if it was. And what of the cops in Winnipeg? They’d think, so that’s where that freak running with the dope got to. They’d put out an alert or whatever they call it to look for me here. Maybe they already did and when the local cops see this —
I know, Gus always said I was being paranoid, no one cared about some kid having a joint, not enough to chase him across the country. Cops had bigger fish to fry. But it wasn’t just that, it’s all the little things that add up. And now this picture of me, me picked out of all the thousands, to make me look like some kind of crazy political person, some kind of terrorist or crazy bomber person. Too many coincidences piling up.
And now, today, we were going down to the court, all of us except Wesley who wasn’t around, to see Rog and Picket. What if I’m recognized there? The cops or the court people, or reporters. Would there be media there? All it would take is one person to point the finger at me and I’d be done for.