Salem Weaver hated her name. Anyone who heard it always had a comment or snicker that ridiculed her. She wondered why her mother had named her Salem. They never had lived close to Salem, MA, the only historic story of witches in America, and their trial dated back to 1692. Somehow, her mother must have thought she was possessed. Maybe getting pregnant for the fifth time was unexpected. Growing up with such a name had only caused her daughter anguish.
She was somewhat of a loner and keeping to herself had made her more aware of the environment. That awareness had caused her to become a staunch environmentalist. She saw the destruction from man's neglect: the wanton discharge of waste into the sea or the practice of strip mining and clear-cutting that created scars on the landscape and the after effects. She and thousands of people were gradually crying out against companies that were only interested in the quick profit and cared nothing about the havoc left from their operations. These companies were strongly connected to politicians and the money moguls of rich countries. It was their control and power that made environmental laws either laughable or without any teeth when dumping and pollution was discovered.
She looked down at the scene below her. How long had it taken her to hike up here? She got an early start before the RCMP set up roadblocks. Several people had come early. Maybe the barriers would stop the majority of these challenging the forestry cutting practices of Earth Made Paper. The newspapers already had done credible environmental columns on clear-cutting and its effects on reforestation, erosion and subsequent damage to the salmon streams. This company was like many; it ignored the increasing numbers of young university protesters who were protesting against and near-useless laws of the federal government, and the laws of the provinces that didn't keep the multinational companies from destroying the land.
Salem knew she had to carry out her plan before the law started to drag the protesters from the roadblocks. The longer they could stop the B.C. loggers from taking their logs to market the more their presence would be noted. One more stupid decision was made by the provincial and federal governments. To allow the cutting and exporting of the giant trees in the round for processing in Japan was more than a waste. If logging had to be done then the processing should be in the country of origin; that way more jobs would be created to benefit the economy. Any first year economist student would know that. Yet the government was allowing the continued pilfering of their country's wealth and the destruction of ecosystems. She felt herself grow angrier. The old growth trees must be protected.
How long before the riot act was read? She didn't care. Her plan was to get into the camps of the loggers and destroy their saws, their engines and their trucks. Her knapsack was heavy. Within its canvas cover were 30 pounds of sugar. It could destroy an engine so that nothing could be salvaged. If she could do it before the battle at the barriers took place, she might get in, do her damage and escape unseen.
On the road ahead a vehicle was parked and looked abandoned. A mile ahead, a bend in the road, was the main camp. Salem looked to make sure she was alone, then she approached the Cherokee jeep which had the Earth Made Paper logo on its side. She reached for the door and found it unlocked. Well, here was her first opportunity. She reached in and pulled the release for the gas tank and a small pop told her the cover had opened. She took her heavy pack from her shoulder. Anxiety made her mouth dry. It would take just a moment to pour in sugar. Then this jeep would be another piece of junk. As if she were working in slow motion, she raised the bag of sugar towards the gas inlet.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you!" The cold voice struck her like a viper.
She whirled around to see who had caught her.
The man was young, maybe in his late twenties, but several years older than she was. He held a clipboard in his hand and there was some kind of instrument hanging from a cord around his neck. He stood about 5'10", and had rebellious curly brown hair. His violet colored eyes bore into her like a drill bit.
"Why were you going to sabotage my jeep?
Salem glared at him but found she couldn't endure his menacing eyes.
"You are one of those people ruining the earth, " she snapped. "You have your fancy logo, 'Earth Made', yet you support clear-cutting and destruction of a pristine environment. I was trying to stop you and others like you!"
"So you are a tree-hugger and thought you could strike a blow for the noble tree by pouring sugar in my gas tank. That's a criminal offense, and I suspect the Earth Made Paper Company would take a dim view of your efforts. I suppose that knapsack is filled with sugar and you were going to sneak into camp and repeat your sabotage?"
Salem looked once again at the man who had caught her in the act. He was handsome, but there was something more to him. There seemed to be the beginning of a smile on his lips and it made her feel even more uncomfortable. Her stomach started to complain and she knew she was going to be sick. She struggled against it, but as the color left her face and she turned away with only a whimper, and quickly made it to the protection of a small Douglas fir before she vomited.
The taste of bile and the humiliation of being sick, being caught and failing was not what Salem had planned for her day. Soon she'd be handed over to the RCMP or to the security police at the Earth Made Paper -- a division of that damn Earth Resources conglomerate that specialized in sucking out the resources of the earth -- she'd be in jail.
She stood up again and still had the awful taste in her mouth. It wasn't supposed to be like this. She looked for her captor, but where he had been, was now vacant space. She turned and saw him holding a small towel.
She looked at his eyes, those purple eyes and wondered what lay behind them. Was he being gallant, a knight in shining armor coming to the aid of a poor damsel? That image didn't seem to help her as she took the offered towel then washed her mouth out with the Gatorade.
"Thank you, that was kind of you."
"Well, I believe it might be better if you came with me. I suspect the group and your friends will soon get restless and there will be another staged media event. Some people might be hurt. The loggers are fighting for their jobs and they take a dim view of your efforts to put them out of work."
"We aren't trying to do that. If your company would forest without destroying everything it touches we wouldn't object and be forced into civil disobedience."
There was a definite smile on his face and Salem resented it.
"Oh is that what you call wanton destruction of private property?"
"You're just like the others, pig headed and uncaring. What are you going to do with me?"
"Well right now, you are going to get into my jeep and we're going for a drive."
"You can take me to the police that's just the cost for a conscience."
She sat in the jeep and ignored the driver. They passed through the security barrier and through the increasing throng of 'tree huggers', as this man called her and her supporters. She thought he would stop at the first police car, but he drove past it and down the road to the main highway.
"Where are you taking me? Why didn't you hand me over to the police?"
"You like asking questions, don't you? Tell me your name and I'll tell you where we're going."
She felt as if he were mocking her. Why should I tell you my name?"
"Well, it's nice to have a name. It's better than saying 'hey you' or calling some other form of address like Tree Hugger. We're going to have breakfast and the only half decent spot for that is down the road in Shelly. Does that answer your question?"
His reply surprised her. "My name is Salem Weaver. Why are you treating me like this?"
His chuckle was her reward, and maybe her answer. He had more to say and turned and looked at her with those violet eyes. "Well, Salem perhaps you have bewitched me. The truth is I've been up since 3:30 and I'm tired and I'm hungry. Since you have an empty stomach, too, I thought it would be a good idea to feed two hungry souls like us. My name is Archibald Forbes. I don't like Archie, I use my middle name Malcolm."
"What's so funny?" he said his voice a bit stiff.
"Oh I don't like my name either Archie or Archibald isn't as bad as Salem and all the comments about witches."
"What do you like to be called? His voice was now softer, kinder.
"I don't have another name. I wish I had."
"Since it's the beginning of a new month and the start of Spring why don't I call you April? That way you will always remind me of meeting a forest nymph who was about to play mischievous games."
"You're a strange person, Malcolm Forbes. I thought you would be angry and hate me for trying to destroy your jeep."
"Now, don't tarnish me with the same brush. This jeep is on loan. I'm really a biologist, researching a mature forest ecosystem. This morning I was doing studies on light penetration. You just ruined my morning for sightings."
They arrived at the diner and Salem sat across from this different sort of man.
"Well, April what tickles your fancy?"
There was laughter in his voice and she grinned. "I didn't think I'd be hungry. I guess my reaction earlier was just from fear and the humiliation of being caught."
"I see. Well, it would be a good idea to have something to gnaw on. Now tell me how long have you been an eco-terrorist?"
She felt her face flushing. "You can be a hateful person. I'm not a terrorist. I'm studying biology, and should graduate next year. I was trying to made a statement."
A hardworking waitress interrupted them. "Morning, Malcolm, I didn't expect to see you today. It's the usual, I expect."
"Millie, I'd like to introduce you to April Weaver. She and I are working together. So make her something special!"
There was a quick smile on Millie's face. "All right, young lady, what can I get for you?"
Copyright © 2003 by George W. J. Laidlaw