“She won’t tell us anything?” Cris asked.
“Only that she won’t tell us anything,” Sonya said with a shrug.
“This is a real big fucking problem,” Laren said.
“I know,” Anita said sloppily. “You’ve barely touched your Mai Tai.”
Laren jabbed it three times. “Happy?”
“That is the most you’ve turned me on since I met you,” Anita said.
“This couldn’t be happening at a worse time. I’ve heard through channels that they’re panicking. They can feel the election slipping through their grasp by normal means, so they’re pushing for less conventional solutions. The kind that are really bad for democracy, liberty, and all of you.”
“They’ve agreed to my armistice plan?” Ben asked. “The one where instead of forty acres and a mule we get forty acres of chili dogs?”
“That would be really bad for all of us,” Cris agreed. “Really bad for the cholesterol, in particular.”
“Somehow worse,” Laren said. “A grab bag of feds are going to be deployed to put a stop to the BLM protests; you may have heard about their test-run in Washington already. The plan is to have them wear nondescript uniforms with no identifying marks whatsoever, so they have extreme deniability- up to and including denying feds were ever even there. Using privately purchased armor and gear, so even that can’t give them away.”
“And leaving the door open for non-government militia types to cosplay as feds,” Rox said, as the true horror of the idea dawned on her. “Protestors won’t know the difference, won’t have a chance in hell of fingering either the cop or the supremacist responsible for violence. This is a license for fascism, given to fed and neo-nazi alike.”
“That’s pretty much the sum of it,” Laren said.
“Anything that can be done?” Rui asked.
“Pray? Plan B is, of course, do nothing.”
“I know I tend to be the slow man, here, but I don’t think doing nothing has gotten us much traction,” Ben said.
“She means it literally,” Anita said. “As in don’t stop Raif. Let him kill a President.”
“I don’t think you have nearly enough Mai Tai for this conversation,” Ben said.
“Exactly how much liquor do you think you need to get drunk?” Anita asked.
“I think he recognizes, correctly, that we’re going to need a hell of a lot more if we’re really thinking about what it sounds like we’re thinking about.”
“No,” Cris said. “We aren’t thinking about it.”
“That’s one vote against,” Rui said. “Anyone else want to wade prematurely into this quagmire?”
“I’m not laying out moral absolutism,” Cris said. “I’m saying I’ve known all of you for too long to think this is seriously on the table. But if you’re going to force me to, fine, I’ll quote at you: ‘The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.’”
“Yeah, but that quote is at best sexist,” Sonya said.
“Actually, John Stewart Mill was pretty feminist; in the 19th century he talked about how women were essentially slaves- and was also an abolitionist.”
“But what if both are evil?” Rui asked. “If refusing to act, and allowing something evil to happen to an evil man is wrong, but so is helping him, in the knowledge he will use his continued existence to mete out continued harm to others, including innocent people… what is the right thing to do?”
“Drink,” Rox said.
“If we drink every time Rui says something straddling the line between wise and up his own ass, we’re all dying of alcohol poisoning,” Sonya said. “Tonight.”
“No. I mean, for tonight, we drink. Tomorrow, everyone decides for themselves. We can do a secret ballot, we can just show or don’t. I don’t think I can dictate how we do this. But it needs to be done, whatever the outcome. But for tonight? I know I for one need to stop being so goddamned sober, or the weight of all of this is going to crush me.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Laren said, and downed her Mai Tai in two quick gulps.
“Second time,” Anita said, “and this blows away the first.”
“Am I going to have to mace you?”
“Only if we’re skipping the foreplay,” Anita said, punctuating it with two quick pumps of her eyebrows.