Left to themselves and the bubbly, Clark suddenly leaned over and kissed Penny. “What’s that about, General?”
“I dunno. Spirit of the moment? Oh well, I got the silly notion that since the cardinal is still here—there he is, filling his jolly face in the dining—“
“Clark, no! Indeed, no, dozens of reasons, ubb-bub, it’s not even legal!”
“Mmm,” was his deflated reply.
“Pinkie, love, I’m yours ‘till the bitter end, but it’s impossible. Our kids would scream we’re robbing them of their inheritance, there’s the tax thing, ub, I’ll lose my retirement –and—and clothes, I have nothing even remotely—oh all right, I suppose with the Society there won’t be all that . . .” At a loss, she blinked sudden tears and leaned into him, sniffling. “Why, Clark?” she whispered. “Just because the fuddy-duddy cardinal—“
“Oh no, dollin,’ I was thinking until our commune’s built we could live together in that old pink mansion without the widow havin’ to sneak out at dawn, that’s all—Penny, where you off to?”
She called over her shoulder as she strode around the glass dome, “To catch the cardinal before he dies from heartburn! Go get Anne and Richard to stand up for us!”
Those two, as it happened, were standing near the rostrum, stunned, shocked. The entire area before them appeared to be almost empty! “What--what’s going on?” he stammered.
The general said breathlessly as he drew up to them, “Gone for seconds probably. Your chefs did us proud, son.” Now he turned to join the pair looking down to the parking field where delegates were boarding buses. “Oh, my.”
Anne counted the delegates left. “Fewer than half. No, a quarter. . . ”
Richard strode about collecting the unsigned Prime Directives. He read a few.
You inhuman bastards, how could you dream up such a disgusting thing!
Stuff your Prime Directive down your dry toilets!
I shall pray for you, you Godless heathen!
Tear down the Capital, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial?
You communists have been looking for any excuse to destroy Wall Street and
the wonderful World Trade Center! Go back to Moscow!
I am a Jew. You cannot, simply by edict, cancel 6000 years of tradition.
Crazy left-wingers! Go to Hell.
Goodbye Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Jefferson, and all our war heroes. Cowards!
Just try taking away our guns; WE WILL APPLY THE 2ND AMENDMENT!!
We are god-fearing HUMANS, not devils who hide underground!
I am a TV viewer, not a bookworm!
Stop this stupid foolishness – or else.
Behave like HUMAN BEINGS, not some dirty Indians.
Richard sank down on a chair in the abandoned crescent, struggling to absorb this slap in the face. Anne murmured, plunking down beside him, “It’s over. Just like that. All the preparations, the invitations, hotels, the stands, the dome, the commune--! Your beautiful Terra Carta! You never got to read it!”
Richard hoarsely whispered, standing. “No—no, dammit! It’s not over! Look, Anne, there’s forty, sixty, seventy—I bet there’s a hundred!”
Penny came up to them. “Pink, did you ask them? What’s going on?”
“Sorry, dollin,’ there’s a problem.”
Penny’s arm outstretched, her hand bobbing as she counted. “Ninety-four, seated and signed. What’s the problem?” Anne looked up.