Among the more original slogans were the small signs Mercy had made for Bruce and Bennie. Bruce carried a sign reading "Misogyny and misanthropy," while Bennie lugged the other half, "Opposites or equivalents?" They were valiantly helping to represent the male of the species at the demonstration, marching along with the crowd, immensely proud of themselves and convinced of their own importance. The crowd was happy to support them in their conviction. Lily and Lyssa and Myrine laughed and praised them, and once the demonstration got underway, photographers began taking their picture. It didn't take long before they came to expect it as their due. They were growing inches by the minute.
The distance from Waterfront Park to the Portland Building wasn't far, but the demonstration was taking its time and a very circuitous route to make sure it jammed as many major traffic arteries as possible. Bennie's short legs were getting tired. He started whining. Mercy sat him down on a curb, opened her pack and got him something to drink, as Bruce waited patiently a few feet away with his "Misogyny and misanthropy" sign.
Sam too was at the demonstration, on assignment and complete with camera crew. As soon as she saw Mercy with the kids, her broadcaster's instinct sent her straight to them: a good story is to a journalist as dead meat is to a vulture. While Mercy was still busy soothing Bennie, Sam went up to Bruce and stuck a microphone in his face. The little guy didn't flinch. When Mercy turned around again, he was being interviewed by KWET TV.
"What did you say your name was again?" the cameraman was asking.
"Okay, then, Bruce, could you hold your sign up a little so we can read it? That's right, like that, perfect."
"Now, Bruce, can you tell us why you came to this demonstration today?" Sam inquired formally.
"Because my mom took us along."
"And did your mother also make you your sign?"
"What does it say?"
"`Misogyny and misanthropy,'" Bruce told them seriously, stumbling only slightly over the big words. "But that's only the first half. My little brother has the second. It says `Opposites or equivalents?'"
"Do you know what your sign means?" Sam asked.
"Misogyny means hating women and misanthropy means hating people, but it comes from an old word for `men', so it really means hating men," Bruce lectured the TV crew. Mercy could have busted her britches.
"Hey, Mercy," Sam called over to her. "Do you think we could get Bennie in on this too?"
Mercy tried to get Bennie to join Bruce, but after seeing all the attention being lavished on his brother, he was irreconcilably insulted. Sam had Bruce pose next to her alone for a last shot. Half a message is better than none.
"This is Samantha Lee for KWET TV from the middle of the war zone." Sam waited for a couple of seconds, dropped her mike and turned to Mercy. "Too bad Bennie didn't want to get filmed too. Well, Mercy, see you around. We've got to find a few more people with something to say."
Courageous little guy, Mercy thought to herself, grinning broadly under a bad case of maternal pride.
Unfortunately, Bennie wasn't at all happy with the course of events. He stood there pouting, all the fun destroyed because his brother had been the center of attention and he had been ignored. He started whining even louder. His feet were hurting and he wouldn't go another step.
Mercy deposited the boys on a bench, leaned their posters against the back rung and got out some peanuts for them. It was getting dark, but there was a street lamp nearby, making their signs easy for the passing demonstrators to read; and read they did. Laughter, cheers and applause were the result. Slowly but surely, Bennie stopped moping and started living up to the occasion. His posture went from rebellious slump to triumphantly erect. They were stars on a stage, with an audience in transit clapping as they walked by. Bennie was once again reconciled to his brother, his mother and the world in general.