For two more Wednesdays, I'll be sharing an excerpt from Kidnapping the Lorax, so readers can see if it is a novel they'd like to purchase. This excerpt takes up where last Wednesday's left off.
Kidnapping the Lorax is available in paperback and for e-readers at
Maggie was amazed that they were on the freeway before the radio had anything to say about what was happening at the hotel. “We’re getting a report that a protest has erupted at the Timber Conference, which is being held at the Benson Hotel,” the announcer said. “It seems that a stink bomb has been set off, and the building is being cleared of participants, guests, and protestors at this moment. More information as we receive it.”
Maggie found herself grinning like an idiot, and Walden laughed out loud. Planet Now had managed to pull off their stink bomb action. She wished she could see their faces when they realized how their puny little action had covered for one that would really result in saving the old growth. Planet Now would initially be blamed for the Secretary’s disappearance, of course, but this misdirection had been a part of Walden’s plan.
When they’d first clambered into the car, Maggie’s legs had started jiggling with sewing-machine rapidity. After all the planning, the long discussions, the anticipation, it was hard to believe this was really happening. She wasn’t even afraid anymore, the excitement of the moment had drilled out any fear about the course they were now committed to.
But then, she had been committed to the plan since Walden had first approached her, almost a year ago, after one of the many interminable Planet Now meetings. That meeting, like so many others, had been one of grindingly slow consensus-building, with a subcontext of backbiting and jockeying for position within the organization. Why did sincere, dedicated people embarked on a just cause waste so much time on ugly infighting? When it was her turn to hold the talking-stick, Maggie had stood and made a plea for unity and selflessness, for the sake of planet earth. There was so much work to be done to save the forests, and they simply didn’t have time for silly, internal bickering. How could they expect to get the government, the timber workers, and the landowners to work with them when they couldn’t overcome their own differences and work with one another? There was a long battle ahead, she said, and it was time to stop sniping at each other. It was time to focus and prepare. Together they could change the world.
She’d stood in their midst and been rewarded with rousing applause. She knew she’d managed to say what so many of them were thinking. She sat down with the flush of victory on her cheeks, and the next person to take the talking-stick said he felt like Maggie was trying to manipulate the meeting and block consensus. Several in the organization had rallied to Maggie’s defense, while others were quick to disagree, and by the end of the meeting, the focus had become her little speech and whether or not she had usurped the natural flow of the meeting.
Maggie had gone home and cried. There was precious little time, they all knew, to save the remnants of old growth that still existed, and they’d just squandered still more of it. Shortly after the meeting, when Walden approached her with his idea, Maggie was ready to hear it.
And against the odds, they’d done it, just the three of them. Now, as the hours passed, a feeling of subdued elation remained. The farther they got from the city, and the more trees that lined the road in an unbroken line, the calmer she began to feel. She rolled down the window and let the cool scents of the forest flow into the car. They would be safe in the wilds.
Unavoidably, her mind veered toward what the Lorax might be feeling or thinking, still huddled beneath the striped Pendleton blanket on the floor. Maggie didn’t want to consider that. Even as she’d bought clothes, boots, and food for the woman, she’d only thought of their target as “The Secretary of the Interior” or as “the Lorax,” their code name for her, not as a real person who had a family, who had feelings. A person, it turned out, who wore perfume with a hint of lilac that reminded Maggie of the talc her own mother had worn. As Maggie changed her shoes for the hiking boots she’d left in the car, she pulled her feet up onto the seat, and sat cross-legged so the Lorax would have a bit more room to spread out. It couldn’t be comfortable, on this hours-long ride, sitting down there in the foot well, leaning at an angle against the seat, with that blanket over her, but Walden was adamant that she couldn’t take it off. Maggie understood. It wasn’t just that he wanted to be certain no passing truckers would glance into their windows and recognize or be signaled by the Secretary, it was also precaution against the Lorax herself seeing where she was going. The more Maggie’s adrenaline-high dissipated, the more she realized that this whole situation must be terribly uncomfortable for the woman. Maggie hoped she wasn’t silently crying under there. She wanted to pat her shoulder, or say something reassuring—but she didn’t know how to approach her, what might be considered an appropriate gesture. What do you say to a total stranger you’ve just kidnapped?
Maggie said nothing.
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