19: All-Out War for Peace
by Angel Rodriguez
Before Junior and I left for New York from One Day In Peace Headquarters,
Merle took me aside and we strolled arm-in-arm, breathing in the Pacific Northwest
summer day together, then meditated a while in the shade with only the sounds
of birds serenading us. Then he looked lovingly into my eyes as he
held my hands and reminded me to remember to breathe in New York, and not let
Skyler’s energy get to me.
“Remember, Honey,” he whispered, “when you start to feel overwhelmed, go
over the words ‘May Peace Prevail On Earth’ slowly and deliberately in your head. It’ll calm you down. At that same instant, thousands of other people
around the world are whispering those same words. It’ll bring you strength.”
Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out his wand. “I want you to take this with you, Angel.
It’ll keep you safe and remind you that the angels are all around us.”
He was beaming.
I knew that wand
was the thing that he treasured most in all the world, and as I carefully wrapped
it in one of his bandannas and stuck it in my purse, I realized I hadn’t even
thought about angels or anything else except about peace and Merle in a long time.
As I turned back to gaze at him with a smile, I whispered a belated sweet
thank you to the angels that had brought him into my life.
At just about the same time the next day, Junior and I were sitting at
a huge mahogany table, face to face with the notoriously controversial self-described
technological messiah, Roger Skyler, himself.
I concentrated on the wand in my purse and found just enough strength to
force myself to smile.
He sat there with a plastered grin that some would call charismatic. But I could see his smugness glaring through.
And the way he looked at us -- an almost fifteen-year old kid and a twenty-something
Hispanic woman. I knew inside he was laughing as he thought,
“This is all they’ve sent to do battle with me?”
“You’ve really done an amazing job with your One Day In Peace campaign
on a surprisingly small budget,” he said, and I could feel the condescension like
a ton of bricks. “Smile, Angel,” I reminded myself, and grabbed my purse tightly.
“May peace prevail on earth...” I whispered silently.
complimented us some more, pointing out some of our more notable achievements.
I started to feel a little proud and was almost smiling when he casually
handed each of us a binder with ‘PEACE DAY, JANUARY 1’ in an amazingly beautiful
design on the cover.
“On August 4th -- Day 150 in the Countdown to PEACE -- the GLOBAL PEACE
DAY COMMITTEE will launch our ‘PEACE DAY, JANUARY 1’ initiative concurrently in
150 cities worldwide. 150 of the biggest
names in music, movies and television will be at these venues. One of the major TV networks has agreed to
broadcast the launch, as well as at least seven major extravaganza Countdown dates
-- on the 100 Day mark on September 22, the 75 Day, 50, 25 and the last three
days till PEACE DAY, JANUARY 1.”
I felt the veins in my head throbbing.
My voice box wasn’t working. The
Kid was speechless, too. We just stared
at Skyler as he continued on, obviously enjoying our uneasiness.
“Our strategists have prepared this little game plan in the binders before
you. They contain outlines for no less than 500 different
programs we’ll initiate on every level -- in schools, Countdown segment PSA’s
to air on every network, community projects, billboards and advertisements in
everything from county fairs to sports events; a team in the NBA, NFL, NHL and
Major League Baseball have each agreed to include a PEACE DAY logo on their player’s
uniforms; a major motion picture will be out in every theater on Christmas Day...
“May peace prevail on earth... may peace prevail on earth... may peace
prevail on earth...”
“I mentioned the 150 celebrity spokespersons; our PR
experts assure us that we’ll have over 1000 by the 100 Day mark.
Every month we intend to release a new celebrity CD with
12 'peace on earth' hits. A dozen major sitcoms and TV dramas have agreed
to include the Countdown either in their season premiers or
during the fall sweeps programming.
One of the networks will be doing their own ‘reality
show’ focused on real-life stories of people working for peace
He never paused once. Where was
he going with all of this? Was he going
to try to “buy us out” -- offer us a position in his campaign, insisting we leave
ours behind? Would he sneeringly “wish
us luck” with our pale-in- comparison effort?
Or let us know in no uncertain terms that he planned to squash our efforts.
“We’ve coordinated PEACE DAY merchandising on everything from PEACE DAY
school supplies, candy, cereal, games, pants, watches, computers, even cars...”
couldn’t stand it anymore. I guess the
Kid couldn’t either. “Excuse me, Mr. Skyler,”
he interjected, and I couldn’t help noticing how tiny his fourteen-year-old voice
was. “These are all wonderful plans.
But how exactly does it fit in with our efforts?”
I braced myself.
“I’d hope that we could work together wherever possible, of course,” he
declared innocently, shaming us at even suspecting he would have it any other
“Of course,” Jimmy squeaked, and I could see him trying to smile.
“I’m really so very glad that you were able to take the time to meet with
me on such short notice,” Skyler beamed. “I
know you’re very busy with your campaign, and can’t stay to discuss plans longer
right now. But please, feel free to contact
my office at any time, if there’s anything we can do to assist you. If I’m not available, my assistant, Melanie
Morgan will be happy to help in anything you need at all.”
And that was
that. We both felt like crap as Melanie
Morgan escorted us out of Skyler’s office. Before
we left the complex, she allowed us to have a peek at their Peace Room.
It was huge. They had every modern technological tool they needed to track
and coordinate an all-out global effort. “Mr.
Skyler has entered into agreement with more than twenty Fortune 500 CEOs, who’ve
pledged their corporate resources for the campaign,” she said proudly, as if we’d
asked. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
She insisted we allow their corporate limo to drive us to the airport. They would have called a corporate jet to return
us to our humble Puget Sound headquarters, if we’d allowed them to.
We didn’t say hardly anything the whole flight back. Maybe Jimmy was trying
to think about what we were going to say to the others.
Or maybe he felt as devastated as I did.
Maybe I was being a spoiled brat; I should be happy, ecstatic, after all
the amazing plans Skyler’s corporate cartel would be bringing to life. Right? Somehow,
I just didn’t see the need to go on promoting ONE DAY IN PEACE anymore in light
of all that he’d be doing. I didn’t really
feel like doing anything.
When I opened my eyes after a good hour of wallowing in my self-pity, I
saw that the Kid’s eyes were filled with tears.
He looked so lost and helpless. He
looked like a little kid. I put my arm
around him. “It’ll be all right, Jimmy.”
I sighed as I hugged him. “This is just
a little healthy competition. We’ll make
it an all-out war for peace. We’ll match Skyler dollar for dollar. We’ll work
twice as hard... It’ll all work out...”
Angel. It probably will,” he sighed and
stared back out at the clouds. He didn’t
sound convinced. Little did I know that by the end of the week we’d discover we
were in dire financial straits and would have to rethink the whole campaign.
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Ch 5 | Ch 6 | Ch
7 | Ch 8 | Ch 9 |Ch
10 | Ch 11 |
Ch 12 | Ch
13 | Ch 14 | Ch 15 | Ch
16 | Ch 17 |
Ch 18 | Ch
19 | Ch 20 | Ch 21 | Ch
22 | Ch 23 |
Ch 24 | Ch
25 | Ch 26 | Ch 27 | Ch
28 | Ch 29