Sunshine drifted in through the cracked blinds in Hanson’s tiny one bedroom apartment. Once again, he was up before his alarm sounded. Hanson slid from his bed, his knees and ankles popped loudly. “I don’t bounce the way I used to,” he muttered grumpily. He half-walked, half-stumbled into his bathroom.
Hanson stared into the mirror. New lines were evident around the corners of his eyes. He stifled a yawn with the back of his hand, and turned on the cold water. To accelerate his process, Hanson splashed cold water on his face. He wiped down his neck.
“Today is the day,” he thought to himself. “People need to recognize the danger…”
After he showered and dressed, he grabbed his sign and backpack and walked out to his truck. Hanson put his sign in the back seat and drove to the site. A crowd had gathered to protest the Mayor’s ceremony which celebrated the full-time operation of the nuclear plant.
“We don’t want your poison,” some screeched. Other’s held up signs depicting radiation sickness. Others screamed, “Don’t Chernobyl our town!” Hanson picked up his sign and joined his fellow protestors.
Mayor Ted and delegates from Reid Nuclear Energy would make a speech today at noon. It was supposed to be a doozy of a speech. Mayor Ted would also present the delegates with a symbolic gift to seal their relationship publicly.
No one knew what the gift was, only that Mayor Ted would present it after the speech. Hanson had brought his own gift.
Hanson and his fellow ramble rousers continued to march and shout. If they could persuade one person to look at the dangers their efforts would not be in vain.
April 7, 1999: Noon
Mayor Ted and the delegates arrived fifteen minutes early to the site in a black limousine. Protestors gathered around them in an angry throng, but security pushed them back.
Hanson stood back and watched. The lectern was set up around 1100 hours. Mayor Ted walked to it and tapped the mic. He cleared his throat and gave his best practiced smile.
“Good afternoon, everyone. I would like to say what an honor it is to stand before you on this glorious day in Dixie. Today is a good day, a special day. I would like to welcome to the stage the delegates of Reid Nuclear Energy. These folks have come all this way to be with us for this opening ceremony.”
Hanson shook his head in disgust. “Look at this babbling fool. He is signing the death warrant of this town and all the idiot can do is smile.”
“Boo,” the protestors shouted. They cupped their hand and shouted louder still, “Don’t Chernobyl Fredericksburg! Take your poison and go!”
Mayor Ted continued, “And where would we be without this lovely group of demonstrators? Regardless of how many town meetings we have had, they have never failed to show up. So, thank you for being here. I would say a great big thank you to Reid Nuclear Energy for investing in our town. Thank you for adding to our economy. We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with you.”
Dianne Willby, supervisor for District 1, stepped forward with a pair of scissors. Mayor Ted and Macy Winters cut the ceremonial ribbon and smiled for the cameras. Bulbs flashed, people cheered, and Hanson moved closer to the stage.
Mayor Ted moved back to the lectern. He tapped the mic again to make sure it was still on and gave the crowd another smile.
“Before we get out of this hot sun, there is one other matter I would like to take care of. It is traditional to give a gift for services rendered, or for an accomplishment. Today, I would like to present a gift to these lovely delegates for breathing new life into our town.” He motioned for Dianne to come back to the stage. In her hands she held a pillow. All eyes were focused on Mayor Ted and the delegates.
Hanson unslung his backpack and took out the container of ooze. Several more demonstrators followed suit. Together they rushed the stage and flung ooze on the mayor and the delegates. People shouted and moved out of the way. Security stepped in, and this minor act of rebellion was quickly quelled but not before the Mayor and the delegates were pelted with the slimy green ooze.
Mayor Ted was livid.
“Drag them out of here,” he shouted. “Arrest everyone of those thugs!” Hanson was slammed to the ground and handcuffed. The delegates and the Mayor was rushed off the stage and to the hospital.
Hanson laughed. “I bet he doesn’t think that eyesore of a reactor is such a good idea now, does he?”