Susie ducked behind the faux marble column on the main floor of the Idaho Capitol as the projectiles whizzed past. It seemed like solid cover as she noticed the paint balls splattering the near floor and walls.
“Paint balls?” she exclaimed.
“Yeah,” the other woman affirmed. “They want to ruin our dresses.”
Susie looked at the other cowering figure. A young woman in a nice dark dress and heels was pressed against the column.
“Why are they shooting at us?”
“It’s war,” the young woman shrugged.
Susie’s mind raced. “But I’m just here to testify about the education bill!”
The other young woman shrugged. “Yeah, and I’m just here to testify about immunizations. We’re at war, don’t you get it?”
Susie took a deep breath and wondered about heading on across the rotunda to the committee room. Paint balls don’t kill. She said so to her fellow cowering witness.
“They could have guns. And real bullets.”
Susie stared at her with her mouth a bit agape. “No!”
The other woman cited the words of the new Idaho Republican state chairman. “She said they would be ready with guns loaded and ready to defend…”
Susie had read the article but had dismissed the threat. “She was talking about shooting Democrats! I’m not a Democrat!”
The other young woman looked down at the red splattered shiny marble floor. “You’re as good as one if you plan to testify against their bills.” She took a deep beath. “I’m no Democrat either but I just think immunizations make good sense. They will soon be burning crosses in my front lawn and doxing my family on Facebook.”
Susie appreciated the pause in splatters and considered their shared predicament and the wisdom of this fellow victim. “So just who is shooting at us?”
“Hard to say, I haven’t really gotten a good look.”
Susie glanced at her watch. “The committee is supposed to start soon.” She fretted. “Where is Security when you need them?”
“I’m pretty sure I saw them clustered around the Governor’s door on second floor when I came in.” They shared an eye roll.
The pause in splatters lengthened. “I’ll bet they’ve moved on to the JFAC hearing. The librarians’ budget is up today.”
Susie groaned. “My sister is a public health nurse. She warned me this could be tough, offering public testimony. She’s gotten harassed in the grocery store. Her boss quit because of the threats. And she’s thinking about it.”
The other woman softly shook her head and looked down at the marble floor. “They’re winning the war and not even killing any of us yet. They just threaten, intimidate, and bully. I think it’s time to stand up.” She looked around the three-foot column, scanning for snipers.
Susie looked at the neatly printed testimony she had folded in her hands. “I thought this was how we should stand up. I resolved to speak truth to power about the policies they wanted to enforce on us teachers, on schools, on students, on learning.”
Her anonymous compatriot stood quietly in the open scanning. “I think it’s clear.” She reached over and put a firm hand on Susie’s shoulder. “Let’s go do what we think is right.”
Susie smiled at her courage and felt buoyed. She stepped around the column and slipped on the paint splatters on the marble floor. She got some red on her black high heels. But she didn’t fall.