Joyful walked past the small creek near Mar’s home. Barely a trickle. She breathed in the hot air of a late summer’s mid-day. Sequoia came up to her, barked out of happiness, and circled around her beige trousers. “Good dog, how are you?” Joyful lovingly rubbed his head and gently grabbed at his snout. He quieted down, and he walked with her to Mar’s cabin. The door was open. “Oh, I saw you comin’! Come on in, Joy!”
Mar almost always shortened people’s names, especially those she liked. Joyful came in the little, dusty wooden structure.
“Well, sit down! Don’t tell me you’ve come here with bad news. I can’t take it. I won’t take it. Just lie to me.” Mar stuck her mouth to a large, blue and green glass bong, lighting the herb with a matchstick. The bubbling sound, the exhalation, the smell. Sequoia sat down at Mar’s feet. Joyful, partook, partly out of respect and partly because she always had enjoyed Mar’s cannabis. It was some of the best in Park.
“No, I am here to tell you some… I have an idea. You know the Park Amendment on First Peoples’ sovereignty?”
“Of course, I helped draft the damn thing with Jamal Cohen Senior. After the… when I came back… I wanted to be a part of everything.”
“Oh you never mind that. But yes, I am versed in the Prime Amendments, and their subsections. You planning on using PA thirty-three, subsection twelve, paragraph ten?”
“Why, Mar, you never cease to amaze me; yes, I am. To get…”
“What that fucker Tallie is holding back as some sort of smoke-screen for keeping my boy in isolation. Yeah, I thought of asking you myself, but that of course would be a violation of the paragraph before ten; only First Peoples can initiate or discuss initiating thirty-three.”
“Right, and I don’t need to ask for a vote, or anything, and Jamal is independent of Tallie. But there is one problem. While the amendment does give me full power to access any document and freely access all documents, as a representative of the First Peoples’ Autonomous Collective, it does not compel the administrator to produce it. I would, essentially, have to go through the files in the archive, and that huge, underground place is poorly lit, etc. So, I was wondering if you could talk with Stone, and see if he will vote to compel administrator Tallie to reveal the document to me based on thirty-three? He was, is, the only person I can think that might be a swing vote. People are ready to open up, slowly, but they aren’t going to vote to release classified information; members, the merchants, are afraid of boycotts and revenge. But Stone has nothing to lose, and he’s your friend.”
“Let me stop you there, Stone is no friend of mine. He was until yesterday. He could have voted to compel that tyrant to release whatever information is so tantalizing it calls for incarceration of my boy, but he didn’t and the whole parliament is a gridlocked now! Just this mornin’ he came round trying to apologize, and I told him to leave me alone. I would have hit him, it it wasn’t for the damn pain in my shoulder.”
“I can bring some ointments from the shop, and talk to my uncle about some medicines?”
“Oh that would be lovely dear. I have a bit of silver. In that old tin.” Mar pointed at a small tin box on the ledge of her rickety window. She recently had new glass installed for the winter, but the frame of the window remained old, slightly soft to the touch.
“I am not taking your money!”
“A good old fashioned bribe!”
“What, no? I just…”
“A joke, doll. Just a joke. Alright, I will talk to old Stone. He’s stubborn as a mule, but I will see. When’s the next meetin’?”
“Overmorrow it is.”
“Want some mushroom tea? I have some boiling just in case… Oh, my boy, he loved his mushroom tea!” Mar began to sob. Joyful moved and sat on her knees near the old woman; she placed her hands in Mar’s lap. Mar put her tired, dry hands on Joyful’s moist open palms. Mar sobbed and cried; she hollered out “Fuck – he’s such a good boy…”
Joyful, looking directly into Mar’s eyes, said, “Yes, he is. Talk to Stone.”
Mar walking the pebbled path that led past the outhouse and to Stone’s house, looked up at the pines. She felt light, easy and happy. The herb, especially strong and blended from several of her best strains, had had a salubrious effect on Mar’s physiology, her temperament – bent by chronic pain – eased into this warm, immersive afternoon. She knocked on Stone’s door. His wife answered.
“Oh, hello there dear… Apologies, is Stone here?”
Stone’s wife pointed to the wood shed, some twenty-and-one meters down a gently sloping path through a small meadow. Mar said good-day and good-bye and walked down the path, her old shoes, thick leather from before the calamity, crunching down on the rocky footpath. She found Stone chopping wood.
“I didn’t think you’d be here, that’s why I came.”
“What can I do for you, Mar?”
“Here, take a seat.” Stone pulled out a large stump carved into an odd shaped chair. Mar didn’t realize she needed the relief until she sat down – each of her knees made a loud clicking sound.
“Listen, Stone, I know that you voted against havin’ that confidential information released. And while my boy is stuck in isolation, I understand… I understand your concerns about releasing whatever Tallie might have, for security reasons. I also know you are opposed to his trip to the north. But hear me out, you know Prime Amendment thirty-three?”
“The one about Native Americans?”
“Yes, the First Peoples’ Amendment. It was specifically written to allow inter-tribal sovereignty for all the… As you say, Native Americans – the first people here, Stone… to allow them to have sovereignty within Park. We acknowledged, with Jamal Cohen Senior, that this had to be in there, given that this whole land was stolen. We couldn’t just form a new type of governance without it. It’s central to Park’s way of life.”
“I know that Mar, that’s why… Native… First Peoples don’t have to apply for permissions to visit Marin, or to trade, and they have other rights because it was a remedy.”
“A type of remedy. One too little, too late. Anyways, those other rights you just mentioned, they include the right to see classified information. But I don’t want to send First Peoples’ members of the parliament on a wild star chase. Listen, you may not be able to vote…”
“Able? I am able to do whatever I want!”
“But you are aligned with the isolationists?”
“What are you asking, Mar? What do you want?”
“You need to vote to allow two representatives from the First Peoples’ Autonomous Collective, both of them members of parliament, both of them in well within their rights, to see the documents, and because the archives are so large, and this information could be anywhere, you need to vote with us when we direct that… Tallie… ahem, to show them where these documents are. Only they will see them, and only they will determine what to do with them, as is there right under PA thirty-three, subsection twelve, paragraph ten. You are the tie-breaker. Well, one of them, but the only one I have known for so long. And we…”
Mar began to cry. Stone looked at the old woman and sighed.
“My boy… Just do it for Shattered.”
“OK, you have that motion brought up by someone who isn’t Autumn Spring and I will do it.”
Mar sobbed, stood up slowly and put her arms around Stone’s muscular body. She felt him to be a cousin, maybe a younger brother. She cried onto the upper left strap of his overalls. After a minute she turned around and walked away, silently. Stone continued to chop wood.