John walked against the crowd as he made his way toward the pavilion. It took him considerable time to get there but when he did Stephens was still present. “What the hell was that?” John asked when he knew no one else could hear them.
“What do you mean John?” Stephens asked.
“Earlier today you told me you didn't believe in him and now you give him the floor?”
“Just because I don't believe in him doesn't mean others don't. I may not require other people to bolster my faith in what I can do, but I know for certain that others do need someone to look up to. If Rafferty is good for anything at all, he's good for that. You can thank his schizophrenic grandson for that.”
“He wasn't schizophrenic Shawn.”
“He wasn't exactly sane either.”
“Maybe not, but that didn't make him wrong.”
“Do you really think Rafferty has what it takes to lead us into a better world? He's not a leader John, look at him. He's weak. He's weak in the body and in the mind.”
“Give him a break Stephens, he's a recovering alcoholic who just traveled seventy two years into the future.”
“I'll give him a break when he gives me results, and for now the only results he's giving me are related to the way the rest of these grunts look up to him like some kind of savior. I'm not self centered or ignorant enough to let that opportunity slip through my fingers. As long as they believe in him, I'll continue parading him around like the puppet he is.”
“I knew you never thought much of this project Shawn, but when you see what he can do for us, you'll change your tune.”
“Maybe, but Joshua Rafferty spoke of him like an unstoppable machine that would crush our enemies with the swipe of a palm. All I see is a sick man who's about as sure of his existence as he is of when to make a bowel movement.”
“Give it time.”
“That's the thing John. I don't have time. I have would be politicians who know the war about as good as a hole in the ground trying to tell me how to do my job, and a list longer than my arm of what cities they want us to control before the end of the fighting season. I don't have time John. I have orders.”
With that, Stephens left the pavilion and walked across the now deserted yard and into the school.
John stood there on the pavilion for a few moments, ignoring the mosquitoes who buzzed by his ears. After a while of staring into the pixelated eyes of Loyd Robertson's blown up photograph, John too retired to the school.