The first half hour of our quilting bee passed quietly, and I must say, it was surreal. First there was just the assemblage, a cross-dressing 18th century fop(ette?), a street urchin looking kid, the girl I met at a goth club (who was fond of brightly colored sweaters apparently), a walking behemoth, and little old me. I have to say, out of everyone, watching Eric was the most amazing. I didn't do much of it; I spent more time listening to Kristin's instructions, but when I was finally in the groove on a stitch, I'd watch Eric's hands. These hands could of formed a fist around a fist of my own, and still had room left over to squeeze in a car battery. They were massive. And despite that, or perhaps because of, each stitch was a moment of grace. It was beautiful. I found myself wondering if anyone else here sat and watched his hands like I did. I would check every once in a while to see if anyone noticed, but it didn't seem to be the case.
"Alright everyone, now that our new member has gotten accustomed to the activity, let us begin the serious talk," Le Contesse said. "We shall speak of many things, of ships and shoes and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings, and why the sea's so boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings."
Jack rolled his eyes. "You know Countess, that was cute the first dozen times."
Le Contesse pouted. "You'll just have to deal Jack. Now, on to business. As you may have surmised Thom, we are a group of anarchists bent on taking down the global military industrial complex, destroying all institutions and situations that we have built that no longer serve mankind's best interest. How do you feel about that?"
"I've been thinking alot about it. And to be honest, I don't really like it." I paused a moment. Just as everyone was having a chance to register that, I continued. "What I don't like about it is that what you're working to destroy is so firmly entrenched that it's going to hurt real bad taking it out. It's not the sort of thing someone can really feel good about, you know? I've heard people equate it to a cancer, but if that's true, to cure this cancer we're going to need to be doing amputations of limbs are removing a few crucial organs. We might loose the patient. That, and the patient will be fighting back, with more guns, more bombs, and more manpower than we can compete with."
Everyone remained silent for a moment.
"I've got a question though," I continued. "If you're a bunch of anarchists, how can you be the leader?" I looked at Le Contesse.
S/he grinned. "I'm not. I'm the organizer, and I run the meetings for two reasons- I'm good at it and I like it. I'm not a leader. It's very cooperative- and you'll have as much responsibility as me once you get in the swing of things."
"I guess that's really the next question, what 'things'?"
Le Contesse nodded towards Jack. "Jack is the one who generally chooses our targets and strategies. He's got a keen eye for it."
Jack nodded. "Thank you. In general, we blend elements of culture jamming with some armed resistance. Usually the more military manuvers involve sabotaging warehouses for major corporations, but also, organized scams are a big one. You're in one cell of a much larger organization. An organization of an uncounted number. So for things like the organized scams, we'll get a note in one of our drop points around the city, or a few anonymous email accounts. That's one big rule, always check those accounts from a library or mall. Obvious reasons. But uh... yeah. We'll occasionally get into real big property damage stuff, like the Starbucks. That is pretty unusual, and when we do it, we generally try to hit bigger targets, but Kristin requested that to test you with."
I interrupted. "So, then you were all involved."
Eric replied. "Yeah, that's another big rule, even bigger than the email thing. We always work together. If one of us puts our ass on the line, everyone is out there with 'im."
"All these rules... are you sure you're anarchists?"
"Anarchists don't oppose all rules and structure," Jack countered.
"Just the stupid, ineffective ones," Kristin finished. "And these 'rules', they aren't rules. They're just... well, shit we all agree to do to keep this cell alive. We do it because this cell is one of those structures that matters to us. This is one that isn't stupid, at least I don't think so, and it isn't ineffective, at least I hope not. Otherwise, we're not all that different from what we're fighting, are we?" She stopped to suck in a breath. "But I mean, that's the whole thing... faith..."
We all paused for a moment. It was obvious to me that everyone else in this room had it- faith, I mean. Kristin was positively glowing with it. Eric, Jack, Le Contesse... they all had the look in their eyes that said "I can make things better." They believed. I on the other hand, didn't. I believed in the goal of course... but I just didn't believe it would work. That things would get better. Even though I wasn't about to turn back, I still thought that in six months we'd be shot in the back running from the cops. Or blown up when a homemade bomb short circuits. And at most, we might get a line in a doctoral level history text. Maybe.
But, as I sat there, looking at them, I hoped that I could have that faith. I literally hoped for hope. I don't think a single one of them doubted that I'd be a believer.