A day of glossy eyes, pale skin, stiff hands, endless noise, and Shelia from management, and he couldn’t even go to the abandoned headquarters because of his son’s bowling game. Even in victory, none of his offspring looked him in the eye when he intoned “good job,” and that was best. A meeting of eyes like these and those would be like a man in a desert locking glances with a vulture. Mr. Guillory drove them all home, cooked dinner, served dinner, cleaned up after dinner, picked up the living room, tucked the kids in, hunted the stray nails, poked his skin on the stray nails, hammered down the stray nails, looked at the late time on his watch and cried.
The crying began over the toolset and continued up over the remotes, iPads, and reclined chairs. Mrs. Guillory walked through the ornate doorway, bounced up, and then rushed over to Mr. Guillory to put an unsteady hand on him.
She waited for him to speak, and he did. “I- is this the best- I haven’t felt-“
“Slow,” she said.
Mr. Guillory sniffled, then continued. “Ever- ever since the army, I’ve panicked at the thought of getting shot. He- you know- he– nearly did so when I didn’t sound off to his liking. And the only time I felt alive was when Cane pointed a gun at me.”
He told Mrs. Guillory everything.
When he finished, she said “So your new family-“
“It’s not your fault. I need to bring more to this family, it’s my fault that I’m not doing enough, I’m spending time with them instead of you, it’s my fault-“
“But I’m teaching them. Did you know half of them couldn’t tell you what kind of anarchism they fight for? And Belt- once you get-“
“Belt’s parents are looking for her. They all are.”
Mr. Guillory shook his head, positioned himself on the leather couch. “But they’re not in a bad state. They eat just enough to get by. They say what’s on their minds. They’re kids, and I never once had to worry for their lives or discipline them… and they listen. With them, I’m not lording over, but I am-“
“Listen to me,” she said, the first time since her first pregnancy that her round voice developed an edge. “You don’t know what’s best for them. Her parents do. The government does. I trust you with a lot of things. I need to trust you on setting things right here.”
Mr. Guillory looked at the suburbs outside the flat window. Necklace described suburbs as the ultimate perversion of nature, an alien beauty imposed on grass and bushes, with square spaceships dominating the landscape. She always talked about the spirit in all things. She moved from helping Mr. Guillory up to responding to any of his facts (when she bothered) with spit and volume. And Mr. Guillory submerged himself in his own body, choking on the arteries and veins, and found a Mr. Guillory that endeavored to become the Most Responsible Man Ever, once for power, now for safety, always to take little Charton Guillory and kick his stupid head in. If Emerson were still alive, he’d do the same to Mr. Guillory.
“But Charton, those markings, they didn’t mention them on the news, how do you know those thugs didn’t-“
“You want to argue about this?” Mr. Guillory stood up, his shadow like a gloved finger over his wife’s body. “Who’s the only one feeding the bank? Who’s the one who cooks breakfast for six every morning? I love you like a child nursing a fly’s broken wing does. This is my new life. I’ve earned it.”
Mr. Guillory stopped at the broken window entrance, ice pumping through his forearm veins until the police car caught his eye. He ripped his black pants on the spring up crumbling stairs.
The door was angled open as always, but with splinters where the lock would be. Belt banged her head on the uncarpeted floor. She was screaming through her tears before the blood seeped from her forehead and splashed on the officer’s hands. A lanky cop stood over a weapon pile, her sideburned partner held his pistol at Tie, Cane, Necklace, and Beard. Manifesto held the door open.
“Officer, I can explain-“
The transporter of Belt looked up. Belt, with a cry to smash a glacier into a thousand pieces, broke from her handcuffs and thrashed out at her captor. He shielded his face. She dropped to the floor. She ran to Mr. Guillory. The blood on her forehead stained on his shoulder.
On his shoulder.
He witnessed it all happen inside him. His stomach became a practice grenade that got punched up his throat. Every bead of sweat ran like it was on a shaky roof two stories up. Every cell burst out legs and did push-up after push-up after push-up. Every motion of fingers ached from stitching up the second surprise shoulder shot during roll call. And every decibel of screaming became the booming voice of him. “Feel so high and mighty now? Feel so high and mighty now!”
The sideburned one told the anarchists they better clear off next time they come by, ‘cause they’re not worth the paper to incarcerate, but maybe one day they’ll upgrade to bullet in the head. The other officer gathered up the weapons and took them out. A piece of paper fell out of a cop’s pocket before she left, and lay on the abandoned building floor like a small chest wound. The shrieks and their shrieker faded away.
No one spoke. No one moved. Then Cane said “You fuckin’ asshole!” and ran up to knock Mr. Guillory to the floor.
Beard cried out. Necklace too, although Mr. Guillory saw her wince at a bloody nose once, so maybe any violence to any living thing choked her up. But Cane just grabbed his cane and pummeled Mr. Guillory’s face with it, shouting all the while. Cane never shouted before.
“We were supposed to protect her! She trusted us! You sold us out! You just stood there! You- you- move goddamnit! Do something!”
Mr. Guillory caught his breath.
“Yes!” he shouted. “I told my wife about you! She called the police! And you can go ahead and kill me for all I care, because I don’t anymore! If I’m going to be an anarchist again, then I need to break the ultimate rule! I’m beaten, I’m fallen, and I’m free! You set me free! I set me free.”
Once his shouting stopped, the pain dug into his head to the point where he only glimpsed Manifesto walk over to help him stand up. Tie stepped forward, picked up the paper the cops left.
“I will talk with him. We should pack.”
The leader and her lackey grabbed Charton and carried him to another room, where they lay him on an empty desk. Tie grabbed an old metal first aid kit, rusted. She pulled out a sanitizing cloth and dabbed Mr. Guillory’s stinging face with it. Manifesto read- something, about how the blood of the covenant was thicker then the water of the womb, not blood of family thicker than water of baptism.
“Did the book I give you cover conversion by way of Nazi-punching?”
It hurt to laugh.
“You know what this means, of course,” she continued. “You can afford a car and new weapons. You can take us to New Caveton.”
Mr. Guillory’s breath shuddered. “First we need-“
“You sold us out, now’s the time to buy us back.” Tie held out her hand and opened it- inside was the note and address that led Mr. Guillory to this soon-to-be abandoned building. “I gave you this because I trusted you to do the right thing. You are the truest anarchist I know now- you know who you are, and you see how it shines. Time to teach the world.”
With a numb hand, Mr. Guillory took Tie’s.
“I’d hate to admit it, but I’ve forgotten your name,” said Tie.
“Watch.” Watch was free to check his pocket treasure to see if any blood got on it yet. “My name is Watch.”