“crack!” sends a shiver down your spine.
The statue falls from its pedestal, face first, into the dirt below.
The crowd cheers as a heavy-set woman stomps on its head and spits. Others follow…
You take your wife’s hand and cross to the other side of the street.
“Maybe we’d better go home,” she says. “I don’t see the police anywhere.”
It’ll blow over, you say. No reason to ruin our night out. And sure enough, by the time you get to the restaurant, everything seems calm.
As you’re getting dessert, the restaurant owner comes out to say a few words in support of the protest – something about the necessity of turning our backs on history to move forward.
A number of diners clap in agreement. Your wife rolls her eyes. You ask for the check.
A moment later, the waiter is swiping your card. it’s not going through. Must be something wrong with the machine.
The waiter says that there’s an ATM just a block over. Your wife suggests that she probably has cash in her purse. But you tell her not to worry and head out.
When you get to the ATM, the screen is blank. Annoyed, you look around and see another one at the end of the block.
There’s an armored truck idling next to it… a big logo on it you don’t recognize… and two men in uniform.
One stands tall; his hand on his holster. The other is taking stacks of bills from the machine and dumping them into a bag. The two men climb back into the truck and take off.
After they’ve gone, you walk over to the ATM. It, too, has gone dark.
On your way back to the restaurant, you pass a truck with bumper stickers that say “Don’t Tread on Me.” You feel a crunch beneath your feet. Broken glass. The windshield has been smashed in.
Inside the restaurant, a middle-aged woman is talking very loudly about how she, too, supports the protest movement.
But you keep thinking of the ATMs… the two men… the truck…
You ask your wife if she’s got enough cash to cover the meal. You just want to get out of there.
On the way home, you stop off at the gas station…
The attendant comes out as usual, but before you can speak he asks a strange question:
“You buying or selling?”
You tell him to fill ’er up. But when you try to give him your credit card, he suddenly backs away…
“Sorry, we’re closed, man… Sorry.”
You sit there for a moment, confused… Finally, you drive away.
At home, your wife turns on the news. There’s a report on the statue, but little else.
“Well… guess that was the worst of it,” she says.
You agree, but later as you fall asleep, you’re not so sure.
Suddenly, it’s 4 a.m… and there’s a cold fear deep in the pit of your stomach…
Something doesn’t feel right… why were those men taking cash out of the ATM… and what about the gas station attendant? A small town protest doesn’t cause that…
First thing next morning, you take a trip to the bank… It doesn’t look open.
A piece of paper taped to one of the doors tells you that it has been temporarily closed. No explanation… just a phone number and a logo…
You give the number a shot… another busy signal… then you hang up.
Around the side of the building, there are two dented ATMs with broken screens.
You get back in your car. Everything’s closed… It’s that same piece of paper everywhere… and the same dark screens on every ATM.
You start running into other people… trying to deposit Social Security checks… or take out cash… or find out why their cards suddenly aren’t working.
Your whole town is shut down…
By the time you call off the search and head home, Main Street is jammed with traffic. You take an alternate road… past the restaurant from yesterday. Someone has thrown a brick through the window.
Your wife’s relieved as you walk through the door. People have been coming by all day… asking if she’s got any cash… trying to sell her things…
And they’re not people from the neighborhood, either.
You turn on the TV… But the news doesn’t say one word about what’s going on…
Then your screen goes blue. Text at the center reads, “Service Interrupted: Please Update Payment Info.”
You shut off the TV and go look out the window…
The sun is starting to set. There’s a black helicopter skimming along the horizon…
You can’t deny it anymore… This is it… The beginning of a reckoning a long time due…