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All Fall Down | The Nation

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All Fall Down

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The waitress brought the newcomers' food. For a woman who still retained her pro cheerleader figure, Cenine Gilmore had ordered as if going out to saw down trees afterward. She had a full stack of pancakes, three eggs over easy and home fries on the side. Cyrus Kang had coffee and a bagel.

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Gary Phillips
Gary Phillips's short stories have appeared, most recently, in Los Angeles Noir (Akashic) and in Full House (G.P....

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In this last episode we mostly wrap things up, but leave a few strange matters for earthly or cosmic interpretation.

The soldier and the rich guy await their fates in the afterlife, while Cynthia Kang's brother gets in way over his head.

"So we're good on this?" Oates, called Jeff, asked. He made sure to keep his face placid but he'd splayed his hands on the tabletop, to better his ability to lunge toward the two should the need arise.

"Absolutely," Cenine Gilmore assured him as she forked down a healthy portion of her pancakes.

"You don't seem on board with this, Cy," the smaller one, called Mutt, chided. His real name was Satterfield.

"It's not my call, is it?"

Mutt shifted. The serrated blade in his right hand was also edging closer to the end of the table where he could flash it into the open and slice it across in the briefest of moments. "It's money out of your pocket, Slick."

Jeff gave him a death's-head glare. "We're good. You heard the lady."

"I didn't hear him." Mutt had had too much time to stew about the beatdown he'd received from the lezbo Latina lover of Cyrus Kang's sister, Congresswoman Cynthia Kang. And now here was the brother, a handy surrogate to unleash his anger on. But Jeff was looking to get paid. He knew what the youngish Mrs. Gilmore had obtained from the stash in that house on the ocean in Newport Beach in Orange County. He knew because he'd been the one who originally delivered it there more than a decade ago for Mace Gilmore.

Cyrus Kang sipped his coffee, absently looking into the near distance as the missus continued to enjoy her food. "Me?"

"Yeah, you," Mutt goaded.

Cyrus Kang smiled and casually tossed the hot coffee into the other man's face. Mutt yowled and Jeff hurtled forward, upsetting the table. Kang planted an elbow in the tall man's mouth, chipping a front tooth. Cenine Gilmore jabbed her fork into the side of Mutt's throat and blood spurted freely.

...

"Shit," Congresswoman Cynthia Kang said as she looked at the early returns on Proposition 8.

"How can this be?" Janny Caulder, an organizer for SEIU, said as she tapped the keys of her laptop, seemingly trying to evoke from the cyber-ether a different result than was displayed on her monitor. "California's going for Obama solidly, but this anti-gay measure is gonna be law?"

Kang smiled ruefully. "Sadly, that's not hard to explain. We--hell, I didn't do what I knew should've been done." She didn't elaborate about being sidetracked with such matters as an attack on and kidnapping of her chief of staff, witchy women, whisper campaigns against her and crazed former black ops ooh-ahs running around shooting up the place and each other.

Through the half-open door, the sounds of cheering and whooping could be heard from the main ballroom of the Century Plaza Hotel. She looked off in that direction then back to the twentysomething, tatted and pierced Caulder.

"How do you mean?' she asked.

"It's not a contradiction for liberal folks, and I'm putting people of color in that mix at least as far as blacks and Latinos are concerned in this state, to vote for Obama and vote for this shitty law."

Kang folded her arms. "Those clever bastards behind 8 put out a mailer with Obama's face on it quoting him from that candidate's roundtable he had with McCain and that preacher Warren at his Saddleback Church." Kang held her hands up and apart. "In huge letters he quotes Obama as saying 'I'm not in favor of gay marriage.' "

"But he came out on the record that he was against 8," Caulder pointed out.

"True. And that was mentioned in that TV ad. But looks like it was too little, too late. The real deal is that we got out hustled by the Mormons, the Christian rightists, including the Catholic Knights of Columbus, on this one. There's only so many fires to fight, and with our forces mostly putting resources and time into Obama's campaign, well..." She hunched her shoulders. Then, putting a hand to her heart: "And don't get me started on my Asian brothers and sisters."

Caulder responded, "They broke in less a percentage than African-Americans for the ban." She hit the return bar and studied the screen. "All the numbers aren't in, but it looks like more than 50 percent of Asians voted for the ban." She frowned. "Probably be like 52 or 53 percent in the end, I bet."

The younger woman shook her head. "That's just fucked up. Voters endorsing hate."

Kang was going to argue with her that the nature and character of gay and lesbian issues among people of color was not this or that. That too many knew of men who tipped out on the down-low but compartmentalized that as not the public person and therefore not a matter they had to deal with or truly acknowledge. Instead, she put a hand on the organizer's shoulder and squeezed gently.

"I know this sounds trite, but the fight goes on." A roar went up from the ballroom, and after clicking onto the CNN site, Kang and Caulder noted that California was blue on the electoral map. Nevada and Colorado too, Kang saw happily. She'd allocated her local staff to do door-knocking and phone-banking in those battleground states.

"Hey," the Congresswoman said, tapping keys and returning to the secretary of state's screen for incoming election results, which she studied for a moment. "That measure to make doctors inform parents about a minor's decision to have an abortion looks likely to fail, and we've dodged Sarah Palin measuring the drapes in the Oval Office.

"Way I hear it, that chick didn't bother to prep for that Couric interview where she hemmed and hawed on those basic questions." Kang was about to continue but her lover, LAPD detective Desdemona Valdez burst into the room and said, "We gotta jet, girl. Your brother is in deep shit. Not the least of which is his going around with the widow Gilmore."

To Be Concluded...

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