(a) freedom of conscience and religion
"As you know, Wilby is a small town, and part of its charm is that we like to treat all of our neighbors like family. I understand that--"
"Like family?! That witch tried to tell me that her religion is none of my business! As if my kids don't have to walk past her house every day and look at that-- that filth."
"The term is 'Wiccan', if you don't mind. And Chief French? I'd like to point out that that witch is a shrill-voiced, close-minded--"
"How dare you!" the other woman interrupted shrilly.
Inwardly, Buddy winced. He put up his hands in a placating gesture and turned to the second woman. "I agree that you should be able to practice your beliefs without censure. We would just appreciate it if you keep your, um, less kid-friendly displays inside your home."
"Don't try to tell me that images of my gods disturb you when those Halloween decorations that Katie Segal put up last year are perfectly fine. This is nothing more than abject prejudice. You know, where I come from, that is abuse of power. I can sue the Wilby Police."
Buddy resisted the urge to rub his temples. It was no wonder that Officers Gleason and Park had begged him to take over this situation.
At that moment, he spotted a familiar vehicle -- one that shouldn't be there. "Excuse me for a moment, ladies." He left the two glaring housewives and waved his arms to flag down the news van coming down the street.
"Something wrong, officer?" the man with the American accent asked.
"I thought you were following the film crew at the west docks today."
"Yeah, but they're still waiting for the fog to clear, so we thought we'd go around and interview some more of the locals. There's a few people on our list we haven't gotten to yet."
"I-- I see."
The man frowned. "Is there a problem? The mayor signed off on it."
"I know. That's all right. Just want to make sure we have the security crews in the right places. Thank you." Buddy waved the man off. Then he ran back to his car, passing by the two women, who had at least ceased arguing in favor of giving Buddy strange looks. Leaning in through the open window, he snatched up the radio and turned the channel to Island-wide. "This is French," he announced quickly. "Who's on MacDonald duty today?"
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication
Carol picked up a copy of The Sentinel as she waited in the checkout line. The front page was, as expected, all about the television crew filming a couple of episodes of some American supernatural mystery drama on Dover Beach and the tiny forested area there. They had taken over the Wildwood as well. It was amazing how many people were needed to put eighty-four minutes of television on the air.
To make matters even more interesting, a few mainland news crews had passed through as well, doing entertainment and human interest spots. The citizens of Wilby Island had never had such a fuss. Many people had gotten shown on TV. It was a great boon for the Island, too. Feeding, housing, and entertaining the cast and crew was a fantastic opportunity. Carol hoped that all the attention would bring in some more interest from home buyers as well.
Buddy, though, had been going crazy running security and traffic details. This was one of the times when the Island most needed its Chief of Police to be organized and proactive. Carol was proud of her husband for being up to the task.
She sighed as she set the newspaper back in the pile after only glancing at the first two pages. She knew what would be in it, anyway. The eternal debate between old values and new advances had been kicked into high gear by the visit of the television crew. Not a tongue in Wilby would talk about anything else.
Tomorrow, hopefully, they would be able to take a break from it all.
"And, look! We have here half of the first wedded same-sex couple on Wilby Island. Mr. MacDonald, could we have a word?" The slightly tinny voice distracted her from thoughts of sunshine and the sound of waves crashing on the shore.
Carol stared up at the television screen above the checkout lanes in part horror and part anticipation.
This was not going to end well.
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly
"So have you met anyone?"
"I've met lots of people, Mum."
"Oh, you know what I mean."
"What about that party you had last week?"
"That was just some mixer thing that my boss said we all had to go to. You know I always feel weird at those. Some of the other doctors act like psychology isn't a real medical field."
Sandra made understanding noises but tamped down the instinctive protectiveness. Her daughter had made it clear she would fight her own battles.
Since Emily had gotten that job on the mainland, she had been working long hours. Any day now, she was going to meet someone and decide to settle down there, Sandra was sure of it. She now understood how her mother had felt when Sandra had moved away. At least she had more time to prepare.
"So I saw some special on TV last week," Emily said now, changing the subject. "It was about out-of-the-way travel spots, and guess what? Wilby Island made it on the list."
"You're kidding me."
"Yeah, and get this: It was billed as a, quote, gay-friendly town."
"Oh, my god," Sandra groaned as Emily giggled. She could just imagine what Duck was going to say to that, as if he and Dan didn't get enough attention from islanders alone. On the positive side, it did seem to help their tourism trade. In typical practical fashion of a small town that had survived over a hundred years of uncertain weather, ever-stricter fishing limits, and five wars, most of the islanders' moral objections about 'those people overrunning the Island' had evaporated once faced with incoming cash.
"It was awesome. They even showed clips of the interviews they did with Mayor Hilborne and Buddy. Buddy was in a suit with his hair all gelled up. He was going on about how 'diverse' Wilby is."
"Did they also show the clip of Duck chasing down that reporter with a nail gun? That might change people's minds about visiting."
"And to think, you always told me you left Wilby because it was too boring."
(d) freedom of association
The bell over the door dinged, and Dan looked up just as Jim, next to him, yelled, "Dad!" The excited eleven-year-old launched himself at his father. "I'm going to be a cowboy this Halloween. Can I get a pistol like John Wayne?"
"Can you what?" Buddy glanced up at the TV monitor, where "The Comencheros" was playing. "Dan! You're corrupting my kid."
Dan smiled unrepentantly, though he did reach for the remote to turn the volume down. It was almost over, anyway. "Don't worry. I'm pretty sure he only watches it for the sheriffs."
"Can I, Dad?"
"Wait until you're older and see if you still want one. Then we'll talk."
Jim shrugged, used to the answer and accepting it as the qualified 'no' it was. That was the way Buddy always replied to the kid's more creative requests: ten pounds of chocolate candies, a Ford Model-T, a pet ferret, a 3D tablet, a trip to Antarctica.
"Hey, Dad," Jim said, already moving on.
"The news people were at school today. They had cameras and everything! I didn't get on TV, but Ned might have. Did you see?"
"No, I didn't. We'll check the reruns tonight, okay?" Dan wondered at the smirking tilt to Buddy's smile. "Go pack up your stuff."
"Can I drive us home?"
"Can I turn on the siren again?"
Jim rolled his eyes and went to his corner, the small table Dan had set up next to the storage room and the single shelf of battered DVDs that Dan still kept around. Like his mother, Jim tended to spread out across his working surface. He heaved a put-upon sigh before starting to pick up his schoolbooks, his eReader, his protractor and ruler, several paper birds he had folded for a project, glue, what was left of a package of crackers that he paused to tap into his mouth, and the colored pencils he'd been drawing with before Dan started the movie.
Buddy turned back to Dan, the smirk now full blast. He parked his hip on the edge of Dan's desk. "Guess who else was at Wilby Elementary today?" he asked in a confidential tone, his eyes twinkling.
There could be only one answer to that that would make Buddy look that way. "Oh, no." Dread mixed with amusement in Dan's head. "What did he do?"
"I wouldn't want to ruin it. You can catch the replays on the local network tonight. And tomorrow. And all week."
Dan put a hand over his eyes. "Just tell me."
"Don't worry. Nothing like the incident with the wrench. Mike got there in time to run some damage control. Although, the phrase, 'Yeah, and I'm King Queer' might have passed his lips on camera..."
"Oh, god. Did he swear, too?"
"He was fixing the air intake on the first-graders' room. Six-year-olds all around."
"Small favors. Why on Earth do they keep interviewing him? He's never said a civil word to a reporter in the entire history of our marriage. Do they expect him to start now?"
"Well, we haven't seen any drop in the tourist trade, so it's not hurting anything."
"It's embarrassing." Dan sighed, imagining the mood Duck would be in tonight, after being accosted by a news crew and probably teased for it all the rest of the day. Wilby was still Wilby, and news traveled fast.
"Hey, the first gay citizen of Wilby Island to get married to his partner. That's as exciting news as we've got the last couple of decades. Besides, you know the TV loves him. He's one of those 'characters'."
"What, like Old Man Bowman who sings Swedish songs on the street corner on Fridays?"
"Yeah, exactly. Maybe they should form a union, get every other month off. They're entertaining the public and not getting paid for it." Dan snorted. "He'll get over it. He always does, apparently, because he hasn't changed. I keep wondering, why doesn't anyone interview you?"
"I guess," Dan said, grinning and tilting his chair back, "I don't have enough character. Hey, speaking of unions...?"
"No progress. If Koffman wins the next election, we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed he doesn't slash our budget to make room for his business incentives project. I'm going to miss working with Chuck."
"That business incentive might actually help Carol, right?"
"Maybe. It might be only for newer companies. Carol's been around for long enough, some people almost consider her an islander." Dan smiled wryly at that. Yes, Wilby was still Wilby.
Jim, who had joined them around the desk, started bouncing on his toes at the advent of a topic he surely considered boring. "Did you ask about the picnic?" he asked. Dan raised his eyebrows. This was the first he'd heard about it. Jim had clearly been sitting on the idea all the time he'd been here.
"Not yet." Buddy straightened and swept an imaginary hat off his head. "Would King and Queen Queer deign to join the Frenches for a meal al fresco at the Watch tomorrow at noon?"
Dan looked briefly ceilingward. "I'll check with His Highness tonight, but as far as I know, yes."
"What does all fresco mean?"
"Al fresco means out in the open." Buddy took Jim's backpack. "Ready to go?"
"Yeah! Bye, Uncle Dan. See you tomorrow, okay? Tell Uncle Walter you have to come. We'll be al fresco!"
Buddy sniggered, because he was still about fourteen at heart. "Call us," he added before herding his son out.
Dan waited a minute before picking up the phone and dialing his husband's cell number.
"Hi, it's me," he said, "What do you think of meeting three gorgeous guys and a beautiful woman for lunch tomorrow? And by the way, I hear you're famous again."
"What do you think is a 'fundamental freedom'?"
"That's a good question." His dad gave him a suspicious look. "Is it a homework question?"
Mr. Graham had told them to make up their own Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Jim didn't think it was cheating to get ideas from other people, but his dad might think differently. "Sort of."
His dad didn't say anything for a few seconds. Then he said, "Just think about the things that you can't do without. Things that every person should have, regardless of where they're born, or who their family is, or how much money they have, or whom they love."
Jim sighed. His dad's idea of 'helping' with his homework almost always required more work. "Like food and water?" he suggested.
"Okay. What else?"
"That's a good one."
His dad laughed. "Okay."
"Marriage." That was one of the things Uncle Dan had suggested. "Someplace to live. Planting stuff you like in your garden."
But that was (sort of) cheating, so Jim tried to think of more. "Swimming at the beach. A pet dog!" He'd been trying to get his parents to agree to that one for ages.
"Nice try. Anything else?"
"Baseball. Being nice to people. Ice cream when it's hot. Hot chocolate when it's cold. Calling people when you need help, like the police. Or the firemen. Nightlights. Big towels. Family. Picnics al fresco!"
His dad smiled. "Yeah, Jimmy. You got it." He pulled them into the driveway, crunching over the gravel. Jim saw his mum just coming out of the garage ahead of them. She smiled, her arms full of grocery bags. The car stopped, and his dad patted his back. "Okay, son. Hop on out."
Jim jumped out of the car and flew across the grass, bursting with news from today and excitement about what would come for tomorrow.