“Tell me again what you’re taking this video for?” the officer asked the tall, lean young man with a wispy beard.
“I want to get a clear idea of the traffic patterns through the plaza here. To see where to set up and gauge how many people will be affected.”
“Affected by what?”
“The blast!” the young man announced enthusiastically.
The officer nodded casually to his partner who quickly flanked the young man.
“Sir, are you aware of what you’re telling me?” the officer in front asked. He casually adjusted his mirrored glasses to route the video stream he’d initiated at the outset of the encounter to Central Security.
“Of course,” the young man said reflexively, then grinned when he really understood. “Oh, the blast. Don’t worry. It’s the good kind.”
The officer squared his Kevlar-padded shoulders to the young man and placed a hand on the stun gun holstered at his side. “Tell me about this good kind of blast.”
The young man smiled broadly. “It’s kind of an unfortunate term: blast. On the one hand it means an explosion, on the other hand it means a swell time. I’m trying to disarm the destructive type by creating a positive alternative. You see, officer, I’m an extremust.”
“You’re an extremist?” The officer thumbed the setting on his stun gun to its highest notch.
“No.” The young man shook his head with the exaggerated forbearance of a teacher excited by the opportunity to explain to his students how the world really works. “I’m the opposite of an extremist. I’m an extremust: e-x-t-r-e-m-u-s-t. It’s a movement that is dedicated to refuting the adage that it is easier to blow up trains than to make them run on time.”
The officer in front exchanged a bemused look with his partner who had drawn his stun gun and had it aimed at the young man’s lower back. “And who is in charge of this extremust movement?”
The young man beamed with pride. “At present, only me, officer. But, I’m planning to act soon. And I hope that will encourage others to join my cause. That’s why I’m taking video of the business plaza here. This is where my first blast of goodness will take place.”
“And what form will this blast take?”
Again, the young man beamed. “I plan to give free hand jobs to anyone who wants one.”
“Excuse me?” The officer’s eyes grew wide in spite of his stylized professional calm.
The young man waved both hands apologetically. “Sorry, officer. That was too tempting to resist. You see, in my line of work that is a joking reference to a hand massage. I’m a massage therapist. I’m planning to offer free hand massages in this plaza sometime in the next couple of weeks. And I’m hoping to get some of my colleagues to join in and help me.”
“Free hand massages.Why?”
“To make folks feel better.”
“What’s this going to accomplish?”
“Officer, look at what’s going on in the world. Folks are so negative. So fearful. So suspicious. I think there are things we must do to empower people. That’s what I believe extremusts can do.”
“And hand massages are your answer to all our ills?”
“Hand massages are one way to relieve stress and think more clearly.” The young man reached out towards the officer in front of him who immediately stepped back. The officer behind him clicked off the safety on his stun gun.
“See how suspicious you are,” the young man said. “I was going to show you how a hand massage can lower your stress. It takes, like, two minutes.”
The officer in front stared at the young man’s outstretched hand for a few moments. His eyes darted to his partner’s face just visible over the young man’s shoulder. As usual the mirrored glasses left their eyes unreadable. It’d been a long time since he’d taken any chances. Trusted someone on the street. A stranger. The officer reached up and removed his glasses, ending the video stream with the pinch of his fingers.
“Sure,” the officer held out his free hand. “Show me how you are going to change the world.” His grey eyes looked hard at the young man’s.
The young man took the officer’s offered hand in his two. He kneaded the palm with his thumbs and stretched each finger. The officer behind the young man stepped around to the front looking chagrined at what his partner was sanctioning. In less than two minutes, the young man released the officer’s hand.
“How’s that feeling?” he asked.
The officer did not answer for a moment. His partner still had his stun gun drawn with the safety off. Finally, the officer put his glasses back on. The video rolled again. “When are you planning to do this?”
“In a couple of weeks.”
“Check in with me. I’m Officer Godfrey. Let me know the date and time.”
“So, you’re okay with it?”
Officer Godfrey held out the hand he’d had massaged. “It was a blast.”
“Alright,” the young man said, shaking the officer's hand. “I’ll let you know when we extremusts plan to start changing the world.” He grinned and headed back across the plaza.
Officer Godfrey’s partner clicked on the safety of his stun gun and holstered it. “What’s that all about? You really gonna let them do it? I don’t know what they’ll say at Central.”
Every nerve still tingling from the odd encounter, Officer Godfrey, smiled. “Central will like this. We’ll be on the ground floor of this extremust movement.” He flexed his massaged hand. It felt powerful. Crushingly so. “These do-gooder newbs just haven’t learned how much more satisfying it is to blow up trains.”
Their crowd-control weapons secured, the two officers continued on their beat. One of them much more stunned than the other.