Chapter 17 Wednesday, 0800 hours (8 AM)
From a second floor window of Zoo Center, Jack looked out. Calfers were streaming in like bees to a hive. Except for a few on critical duty, the Tramway spotter, a techie at the listening post, and one or two mobile sniper patrols, the Calfers were gathering for the 9AM broadcast and the pre-broadcast warm up. Joshua had suggested a pre-broadcast meeting and of late, with CALF without elected leadership, his suggestions had virtually the force of law. He had said having the membership on camera during the broadcast would be a show of solidarity.
Jack knew that if the police were to invade now, they'd have an easy time of it, but then again, after their last try at an invasion, they'd think twice before trying it again. It was nonsense though, this meeting. The Calfers probably thought they were coming to the meeting to make big decisions. Jack laughed to himself. The decisions had already been made. He wondered if he should be angry at the phoniness. Yeah, the Calfers were being manipulated, but he for once was on the proper side. "Better a manipulator than a manipulatee."
Jack broke his gaze away from the window, leaned down to ruffle Wolf's shaggy fur, and went off for to consult with Joshua.
Brian was miking the set, running cable, and blocking the action when Joshua made his entrance with Jack and Wolf trotting in behind. Joshua sat at his desk and waved everyone still. Only Brian continued moving, fastening a lavaliere mike to Joshuas collar and arranging Wolf for best photogenic effect. Joshua, ignoring Brians scurrying, began to speak. It was not a good nor memorable speech, but it was impassioned, and it did what it was supposed to. The CALF membership, approving, chanting, and shouting with righteous enthusiasm did not balk when Joshua announced they would sacrifice a hostage. Theyd take the hostage, throw him in the bear den, and let the polar bears decide his fate.
Joshua continued speaking, now explaining how important, significant, and how difficult the act would be. It would require all the dedication that he knew the CALF membership possessed. And it would take exceptional courage. He asked for volunteers for the Bear Detail, as he called it. For a few dangerous moments, there was no sound and the membership, as individuals, were alone with their thoughts.
"This is my queue," thought Jack to himself. He stood up. "Count me in," he announced loudly.
Joshua stood up and clapped Jack on the shoulder. "Good," he said.
Jack was amazed at how well Joshua played the part.
The ice was broken and the volunteers were soon found. Most of the membership though, still had serious reservations and were thinking how to deal with them when Joshua announced that the act would be broadcast live.
"Thats impossible," shouted one of the techies. "Theres no way we could do a live feed. We have no RF relay and laying cable would degrade the signal."
"No, We could move the transmitter, get power at the bear enclosure and rig a temporary broadcast antenna," said a second techie.
Jack watched Brian for reactions. He wondered how the 'bunny hugger' would take to the idea.
"Wont work," said the first techie. "With a low antenna our signal would get out about two city blocks, if were lucky."
"Well, we could do a live audio link instead. We have walkie-talkies."
"Naa. That would be about as interesting as a live radio broadcast of a tennis game. Unless you intend to have color commentary, The bear on our left is walking slowly towards our microphone. No. I dont think so."
"All right," said Joshua closing discussion with a wave of his hand. "Well do it on tape instead. Well put it on during the noon broadcast." He looked over at Brian.
"Wait," said Brian. "This is a major shoot. I need a second cameraman, and a line assistant."
Jack smiled. "Brian; poor innocent Brian."
"9AM broadcast live in five, four, three, ..." said Brian behind the camera tripod.
"Good morning," began Joshua. He gave an abbreviated version of the warm up but left out any mention of sacrificing a hostage.
On schedule at 9:15, George, the police negotiator called. This time Joshua didnt lift the receiver, but instead pushed the speaker button. This time, they would also broadcast the negotiators voice.
They treated each other cordially.
"Do you need anything?" asked George.
"Yes," answered Joshua. "We want newspapers, three color television sets, and about 100 fresh croissants."
"Fresh croissants. We have lots of food, but the croissants are beginning to go stale."
"Well, I think I can arrange that."
Joshua went on, "I assume you have no news on our demands?"
"Not yet. These things take time," said George.
"Of course. Oh, one more thing," said Joshua. "We want to see the news anchors of the three TV networks. We want to give them a few video tapes. See that theyre at the Southern Boulevard pedestrian entrance at 11:30. Have the newspapers, TV sets, and croissants ready for us then too."
"What kind of video tapes?"
"Youll see, but its important. You must have the TV anchors here," said Joshua. He looked now, directly to the camera, talking past George.
"I know the Networks are watching this broadcast. Ive got important news for you, too important to relay through the police. I want to hand each of you a video tape. Lives depend on it," said Joshua. He turned his attention back to the phone.
"Will you do this for us, George?" asked Joshua.
"Yes, but how about releasing some of the hostages."
"No," said Joshua.
"Come on. You dont need them all. How about releasing the children then? Look its only a half dozen or so kids. What harm is it?"
Joshua paused an instant. "Well think about it," he said.
"I dont think my supervisor will let me do anything for you unless you show us some kind of good faith gesture."
"Fine. Well release a hostage. After that, well see," said Joshua.
Brian wound down the broadcast and then Joshua turned to Jack.
"I thought the kids had escaped from the zoo, but I guess they haven't," said Joshua. "As soon as the matter of the polar bears is taken care of, Ive got to find those kids."
"I'll take care of it," said Jack.