I knew something was different before we even made it through the doors. I could hear it. There was still a garbled voice on the megaphone, but behind it there was something else. Something that sounded like the ocean. I half expected to see waves crashing against the steps when we exited the building. And in a way, I did.
There were people. Hundreds? A thousand? Too many to count. The plaza between the steps and the street had disappeared and in its place was a sea of bodies, some with arms raised and peace signs flashing, but many more had curled their two-fingered peace sign into a shaking fist. They were mostly hippies like the man with the megaphone, lots of them. But there were other people too. People that looked like they could be working behind a restaurant counter or selling newspapers at a stand on the corner if they weren’t outside City Hall shouting.
“No war! No war! No war!” It was easier to understand once we were outside the doors. A constant pulse of voices. Waves crashing. It sounded like the ocean, but it looked like a fire. We were right in front of the center where things seemed the hottest, where everyone had an angry face and a fist in the air. And that anger seemed to be spreading, catching the ones who were next to it, and the ones next to them. Farther out on the edges things were just starting to warm up, but those people kept pressing closer, moving toward the heat in the center and catching its flame. And beyond that were the sparks, people just walking by on the street or strolling through a nearby park. Just regular people until they heard the noise or saw the crowd and came closer, closer still, and then caught fire too.
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