I felt unlimited respect for Mr. D right then. Not just because he was going to get me out of this jam, which I really did appreciate, don’t get me wrong, but also because I think it took a lot of courage for him to come forth and put himself on the line. After all, when I was safe and snug back home, he’d still be here, having to live with and face the judge and jury, so to speak.
But the thought of going home without Yugo demoralized me. I couldn’t let him go that easily, not now that I had grown to love him so much. My thoughts and feelings were in a whirlwind and I missed some of what was being said between Mr. D and Judge Ludwig.
Then the quiet man on the end spoke up, his voice pealing throughout the chamber. “What Mr. dIAmand says has merit. Indeed, our society is no longer self-perpetuating. According to the latest census, over half the population is sterile.” He swiveled in his seat, inspecting the crowds in front and behind him as if to let this sink in the collective minds of the Monosapiens. “Indeed, the next generation will be the last,” he proclaimed, returning to face us. “And I feel it is of the utmost importance to consider changes that will benefit our society, whatever the price may be.”
“But Mr. Light, the consequences!” exclaimed the man next to him. “It would mean restructuring our entire society—social unrest! Why there is no end to the chain of changes! From the government, right down to the individual’s everyday habits!”
Mr. Light looked briefly at me and winked. “Yes, indeed, Mr. Stix, it would mean a lot of changes. But I have a tremendous amount of faith in the intelligence of each individual and the woof and warp of our society. I don’t see that we have recourse to do otherwise, and perhaps now is the time to accept changes and begin.”
The chamber vibrated as the crowd cheered. Everyone clapped and stood in unison. Mr. Light had the approval of all but four of the entire population of Monosapiens.
“Begin,” Mr. D repeated softly to me, “to write history anew.” He took my hand in his. “Now, they’ll have to vote on it.”
Judge Ludwig, Mrs. Furbal, Mr. Reader, Mr. Stix and Mr. Light stole glances at one another. The corners of Mr. Light’s mouth turned up a bit, as if he were really enjoying this sort of battle with the giants. Maybe he was, or maybe he really believed the time had come and he was ready to fight for this cause. I liked him and even Yugo twisted around to peer at him, murmuring contentedly.
I still had a thing or two to say about this whole thing. I wasn’t going to let go of Yugo, no matter if the panel decided in his favor or not, and I wanted some answers to questions that bubbled inside me like shaken soda pop. I took a quick look around me.
If I’d thought the trial was odd, the crowd was totally bizarre. Everyone remained standing, although there wasn’t a peep from anyone. Somewhere out there was the other woman, the one who had looked so distressed, so interested in Yugo. I expected her to come and join forces with us. But she didn’t and I had a hard time not asking Mr. D about her right then and there. I had a gut feeling that I shouldn’t, so I kept quiet and waited with Mr. D, getting antsier by the minute.
“Elizabeth Conner!” and the gavel rapped.
I nearly dropped Yugo on his head.
“It has been determined that you are no longer involved with the issues at hand. Therefore, you are entrusted to Mr. dIAmand’s custody until you are returned home.”
I could see that pleased Mr. D. We both fixated on the judge’s face, waiting for his next pronouncement.
“And let it be recorded that the misbegotten has been claimed by Mr. dIAmand.” Two thwacks of the gavel stopped anyone from uttering a noise. “May I have your attention please! All citizens are reminded that it is their civic duty to attend all meetings in regard to the changes herewith in our society. Please have your concerns and opinions, and hopefully,” for the first time Judge Ludwig looked friendly, “solutions, in written form for review. Thank all of you for your concern and attendance. This case before the Perfect Council has been decided and dismissed.”
There was an orderly progression out the doors, with so little noise that I had to wonder if these Monosapiens spoke to one another.
“Yes, but most times there is agreement, therefore no need to talk about it,” Mr. D piped up, taking my hand and pulling me along to the main door.
“What is it you have, esp?” I inquired, really wanting to ask more pressing questions.
“Somewhat, my dear. Come, Dusty, I will answer all those questions at home.”
We walked away from the brightly lit buildings of downtown, down the dreary residential streets, each lined with strips of drab colored grass. The air was thick, but had no smell like fog or mist or before-rain, although the sky was overcast with gloomy clouds. The scenery was the same and I wondered if anything would really change.
I still marveled that Mr. D could find his house among so many look-alikes. But he did.
And there was another care package for Yugo on the doorstep. I searched the bushes for the not-so-perfect woman, Yugo intently looking, too, like it was some kind of game, but I couldn’t see her.
This time, after he had made the formula, Mr. D sat on the couch with me as I fed Yugo in my lap. We had a mutual understanding that we would wait until Yugo was asleep before we had our little discussion.
Mr. D motioned to the dining room table. I slipped Yugo onto the warm spot where I had been sitting and petted him as he curled into a tight little ball. Looking at him innocently asleep made me feel protective of him. It was painful, like touching him would have burned my hand. I guess we had been through so much together that we had a pretty strong bond, a love that could be both tender and tough at the same time. But another little voice inside my head nagged at me to take a good look at him, he’s growing so big, so fast, he wasn’t going to be a cute little baby for much longer. He would grow up and I’d better face it, I’d have my hands full. But my heart answered that it didn’t matter how big he got, I’d love him anyway.
I sat down at the table and Mr. D clasped his hands over mine. “Dusty,” he looked me straight in the eyes, “you showed remarkable courage in front of the Perfect Council.” He paused a bit, shyly adding, “I was so proud to know you!” He squeezed my hands before letting go and sitting back. “Now, I’ll answer your questions.”
I asked the one question that I feared the answer to the most. “Who is that woman who left the care packages for Yugo? I saw her out there, and in the front tier of the chambers, too.”
I had been afraid to know for myself, but when I saw the pain in Mr. D’s eyes, the way he squared his shoulders and braced himself to reply, I was sorry I had to know: I had this spooky feeling that Mr. D’s story somehow would turn out to be mine, too.