The man in the suit

Luke Walker: animal stick up for-erchapter 17, continues from yesterday:

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Behind the stall stood a man in a suit and a woman with short, spikey, pink hair that was purple at the ends. She had hundreds of earrings in her right ear but only one in her left. She wore pale blue lipstick and black nail varnish. The stall was covered in leaflets about animal cruelty.

“Do you have any petitions that need signin’?” asked Luke.

“Are you over eighteen?” said the man in an attempt at humour.

“No.”

“Well, thank you but you have to be eighteen to sign these petitions.”

“You don’t have to be eighteen to sign ours,” said Tania.

“Nor these,” said the woman.

“Yes they do,” argued her comrade, “petitioners have to be old enough to vote.”

“That’s the people who start the petition, not the people who sign it. To sign it in America you only have to be thirteen.”

“Are you sure?”

“I think so.” She turned to the Society, “Are you all over thirteen?” They shook their heads. She smiled, “well, that doesn’t matter because this is not America. In Australia the rule is you only have to be old enough to understand the petition.”

“This is not Australia either,” admitted Isabel.

“How old do you have to be in England?” asked Tania.

The man and woman looked at each other and shrugged. “Not sure,” said the man.

“Oh let them sign!” said the woman cheerfully, “we need all the signatures we can get!”

One by one the Society members signed four different petitions. One was to end live transport; another was to end vivisection; the third asked for an end to animal farming subsidies and the last was a petition to Spittles department store, asking them to stop selling factory farmed duck.

Isabel was the first to finish signing.  “Will you sign ours now?” she asked.

The woman eagerly took the offered clipboard and read the petition. “Oh yes, absolutely!” she said and quickly added her name and email address before passing it to the man.

He read it and nodded his agreement.  “Good luck with this,” he said as he signed, “sadly there’s a lot of cognitive dissonance in the animal welfare universe.”

“What’s that?” asked Tania.

“It’s the mental discomfort or psychological stress a person feels when they try to live with conflicting ideas or beliefs,” the man explained. “Like if someone smokes even though they know smoking is unhealthy. There is a conflict between wanting to do it and feeling bad about doing it, so they try not to think about it being bad for them.”

Tania and Isabel nodded slowly.

The man went on. “The conflict makes them mentally stressed, so they have to either change the behaviour – stop smoking – or change their belief that smoking is bad for them.”

“Ahh,” said the girls in unison, nodding more vigorously.

“In the case of animal welfarists eating meat and dairy – they need to believe that it’s not cruel, that they’re not bad people for doing it, because they want to keep doing it,” he said, putting it into context.

“Like the smoker who wants to keep smoking,” said Tania.

“Exactly,” said the man, smiling, “and they won’t thank you for forcing them to face the truth.”

By this time Luke had finished reading and signing all the petitions and the woman noticed his name.

“Luke Walker?” she asked, standing back to look at him, “good grief, I almost didn’t recognise you! You’ve grown!”
Luke was embarrassed. He looked at the woman more closely. She did look a bit familiar but he knew for a fact he’d never met anyone with pink and purple hair.

“Kris,” she said, “don’t you remember me?”

“Oh,” said Luke, still a little unsure, “did you used to have long black hair?” he asked.

“That’s right,” she smiled, “it’s so good to see you again. What have you been up to?”

“What’s this?” asked the man, “do you two know each other?”

“Oh yeah, me and Luke go way back,” she said and went on to explain how she’d been arrested for something Luke had done and he’d saved her from the cops.  Joe had heard the story many times but had assumed it was wildly exaggerated.

“You really did that?” he asked, grinning.

“You know I did. I told you,” said Luke, stunned that Joe had forgotten something he’d been told about more than once.

“Is this your secret society then?” asked Kris.

“How d’you know about that?” asked Tania, wondering just how secret it could be if a woman she’d never met or heard of knew about it.

“I believe I’m an honorary member aren’t I Luke?”

“er, yeah,” said Luke, embarrassed again. The Society was democratic, no new members were allowed without everyone’s agreement, so this revelation put him in an awkward position. “I, er, met Kris before you were in it and she’s an outlaw like us so I said she could be in it, but I never saw her again so I din’t think it was worth mentionin’,” he explained to the girls. “She can be trusted,” he added.

With that settled everyone turned and looked at the man in the suit.

“He can be trusted too,” Kris laughed.

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The story continues tomorrow 😀

but if you don’t want to wait you can read the whole chapter here 😀

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vegan, vegetarian, vegan fiction, juvenile fiction, vegan children, vegan children’s story, vegan children’s book, animal rights, activism, veggie kids

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