Chapter 20 Wednesday, 1130 hours (11:30 AM)
"I don't understand why we're giving these videos to the networks," said Jack. "Why couldn't we just broadcast them on our own station?"
"We'll do that too, but the networks probably still have higher ratings than CALF TV," said Joshua. "Besides, I want to stay engaged with the outside media, and frankly, I really do want those fresh croissants."
Jack rolled his eyes. He didn't know if Joshua was joking.
"It'll be safe," said Joshua, "The Southern Boulevard exit has good cover for the snipers on the hill, and since there's no parking lot, they can't hide an invasion team in vehicles. To be doubly safe, go unarmed. They won't shoot you if you're unarmed."
"I'll leave my rifle but I'm keeping my side-arm."
"As you will," said Joshua sending Jack down the path to the exit.
Joshua turned back to prepare for the noon broadcast. He had barely arrived at the TV studio when he was informed of trouble in the Ministry of Information - the little office of propaganda. The two Calfers who staffed it were growing increasingly important. Since during waking hours they were always at their desks and phones, and since there were no newspapers and very few radios in the zoo, they were the most dependable source of information. They were also cheerful and fun to talk to.
But now that Jack had given out the tapes of Steiner being mangled, it would be difficult to portray Operation Zoo as a simple student protest. The two of them in the Ministry would now have to slant the take over as an unpleasant but necessary act, committed by heroic students who were willing to give up their lives, if necessary, for the cause. This task, difficult as it was, was made even harder by divisions between the two information officers. One, a militant hard liner, thought the Steiner killing was a watershed event for animal rights, and was proud of his part in it. The other, an animal rights activist because it fit in with his general pacific philosophy, was deeply ashamed. They had been friends, the two of them, but now they looked on each other as strangers, worse than strangers. There was nothing they could do about the situation except call in Joshua.
Joshua didnt want to deal with this now, but the Information Officers, performed a crucial function. Joshua stormed over to the next office, but before going in, stopped to give his smile time to develop. He would get those students to do their duty. They would most sincerely explain things to the world whether they believed what they were saying or not.
Joshua found it wasn't to be that simple. Each of the Calfers had talked to his like minded friends, and Joshua realized that a schism might well be developing among the membership. If he could not heal the schism, he was sure he could delay it until the conclusion of Operation Zoo - the Armageddon. He needed the appearance of unity. Otherwise there would be no history. History demanded a simple, unified theme. If a schism brought down Operation Zoo there would be nothing. Joshua would age whereas with history he would stay as he was now, strong and vital. Kennedy was still regarded as a young man, Hitler also, even though they would be in their eighties or over a hundred in Hitlers case. It was a kind of immortality that Joshua wanted. Now that he had committed the irreversible act, the murder, all that was left for him was a fiery apocalypse, and history.
Joshua listened to both sides and appeared to be seriously considering their points of view. He asked them questions, and nodded to their responses. It was like being back on the campaign trail.
Joshua gave them time and at the end, promised hed work hard on a solution and further promised them that by the next morning, he would have a solution that both of them would like. Such was Joshuas skill, that he had them believing in him. In any case, Joshuas information officers would keep working hard for the cause. Each though, would slant his phone discussions based on his individual convictions, but it wouldnt matter. Unity would be preserved. Joshua patted each on the shoulder, expressed his great confidence in each, and left the room.
In the hall, on the way back to work on his noon broadcast now only fifteen minutes away, Joshua ran into Jack who was chewing on a fresh croissant.
"Smells good," said Joshua.
Jack grunted. He was never much for conversation.
"Your friend George gave me this letter for you," said Jack, handing over the envelope.
Joshua stuffed it in his jacket pocket. He didnt want to read it in front of Jack and have to take time to explain it. Besides, he was pretty sure he knew its contents. He thanked Jack, and continued walking down the hall. Joshua didn't stop at the broadcast room. Curiosity got the best of him so he continued to the next door down, and into an empty office. He pulled out the envelope, ripped it open, and read.
We have been negotiating a serious situation together, and I feel I know you enough to send you this private letter. No one needs to know that this letter was ever written.
Things are getting serious but no one has been hurt yet. This is a situation where people could be injured or even killed. I dont want that and Im sure you dont either. Lets end this together. Since nobody has been hurt and property damage has not been heavy, Im sure the police will go easy on you, especially if you are the one bringing the crisis to a close.
I understand that you may not be able to help me in this without losing support of the others in your group, so let me suggest something. If during your noon or 6 PM telecast, you use the phrase, "We have sacrificed much" Ill understand that to mean you will manage not to guard the Fordham Road side of the Zoo around 7 AM. Well then send in some of our people to bring this crisis to an end. Please help me with this as we dont want to see this turn into a blood bath.
"A blood bath?" laughed Joshua silently. He crumpled up the letter and tossed it in a wastebasket. He turned toward the door, paused, and returned to fish the letter back out of the trash. "We have sacrificed much," he said reading the letter. Again he crumpled and tossed the letter. Now he had to hurry since the broadcast was in five minutes. No time to prepare. Hed have to wing it.
At the start of the show, Joshua stated matter of factly that they had to sacrifice their first hostage. It had to be done since the authorities were not negotiating in good faith. Joshua was sitting comfortably at his desk, empty save for the phone. Again he was flanked by Jack and a few other Calfers carrying AK-47s for effect. Wolf, the stray dog, was lounging in front of the desk. Except for the words themselves, all seemed controlled and calm. Joshua went on to say softly that should the police try to storm the zoo, all the hostages, men women and children, would be gunned down. Joshua then asked that the Steiner tape be run.
Brian did a fade to black while another techie switched to the videotape.
Then the phone rang. Joshua picked it up and put the call on the speaker.
"You didnt have to do it," said George. "Why did you do it?"
"It was necessary," answered Joshua. "Our demands had not been met."
There was a pause. "Hasnt this gone on long enough," said George. "Look youve proved your point. Give it up."
"Not yet," said Joshua. "Are our demands going to be met or not?"
"Were working on it, but lets stop it now, before it gets completely out of control. Im sure neither of us want to see a blood bath."
"CALF has shown what were willing to do for our beliefs. We have sacrificed much," said Joshua. "We have sacrificed much," he repeated.
There was another pause.
"I understand," said George deliberately. "Try to keep things cool. Ill see where we are with your demands, and Ill talk to you again during your 6 oclock broadcast."
Joshua ended the conversation cordially, hung up the line, and faced the camera.
"We are doing this for the other creatures with whom we share this planet. Remember us," he said. Brian dollied in quickly to a shot of Joshuas face. He zoomed in slowly to those deep determined eyes, and held the shot until Joshua gave him a hand signal to indicate that the broadcast was at an end.
About fifteen minutes later, while Joshua was still in the broadcast room talking with Jack, he got another visit from his information officers. At first he thought that there had been another flair up in their disagreement, but it wasnt. Their phones had gone dead. They could not do their work of disseminating the CALF ideals to the world. Joshua picked up his phone from the desk. There was no dial tone. Instead he got a receptionist.
"47th precinct," she said.
Joshua hung up. So there were no phones, except this one apparently, and it was connected directly to the police station; a little harassment to show official displeasure. If that was the worse they could do, CALF had gotten off easy. If hed been in charge, hed have turned off the water and electricity as well. The hell with the animals in their electrically controlled habitats.
Joshua sent the information officers back to their posts to continue with what had been developing into their principal function anyway, namely keeping the membership informed and happy. The membership wouldnt be happy about the loss of free long distance phones, though. It was one of their two Operation Zoo percs, phones and good food.
Joshua followed his information officers out of the broadcast room. He returned to his office to plan, on his way muttering under his breath, "We have sacrificed much. We have sacrificed much."