Somebody else, they said tear it down before another quake did it for ’em. But there it was. In the cities, lot of people, no place to go. Cardboard towns in the park, if you were lucky, and they’d brought those drip-pipes down from Portland, put ’em around the buildings. Leaks enough water on the ground, you don’t want to lay there. That’s a mean town, Portland. Invented that there…’ He coughed. ‘But that one night, people just came. All kinds of stories, after, how it happened. Pissing down rain, too. No body’s idea of riot weather.’Jane imagined the two spans of the deserted bridge in the downpour, the crowds accumulating. He watched as they climbed the wire fences, the barricades, in such numbers that the chain link twisted, fell. They had climbed the towers, then, more than thirty falling to their deaths. But when the dawn came, survivors clung there, news helicopters circling them in the gray light like patient dragonflies. He had seen this many times, watching the tapes in Osaka. But Claravis had been there.
‘Maybe a thousand people, this end. Another thousand in Oakland. And we just started running. Cops falling back, and what were they protecting, anyway? Mainly the crowd-orders they had, keep people from getting together in the street. They had their choppers up in the rain, shining lights on us. Just made it easier. I had this pair of pointy boots on. Ran up to that ‘link, it was maybe fifteen feet tall. Just kicked my toes in there and started climbing. Climb a fence like that easy, boots got a point. Up, man, I was up that thing like I was flying. Coils of razor at the top, but people behind me were pushing up anything; hunks of two-by-four, coats, sleeping-bags.
‘I jumped. Don’t know who jumped first, but I just jumped. Out. Hit pavement. People yelling. They’d crashed the barriers on the Oakland side, by then. Those were lower. We could see their lights as they ran out on the cantilever. The police ‘copters and these red highway flares some of the people had. They ran toward Treasure. Nobody out there since the Navy people left … We ran too. Met up somewhere in the middle and this cheer went up . . .’ Skinner’s eyes were unfocused, distant. ‘After that, they were singing, hymns and shit. Just milling around, singing. Crazy. Me and some others, we were stoked. And we could see the cops, too, coming from both ends. Fuck that.’Jane swallowed. ‘And then?’
‘We started climbing. The towers. Rungs they welded on those suckers, see, so painters could get up there. We were climbing. Television had their own ‘copters out by then, Scooter. We were making it to world news and we didn’t know it. Guess you don’t. Wouldn’t’ve give a shit anyway. Just climbing. But that was going out live. Was gonna make it hard for the cops, later.
Near to the top and both of ’em come off at once.’ Skinner fell silent, as if listening to some distant sound. Claravis held his breath.