"Faith is optional. A nation can thrive without faith," said Father Grimes. The gun in his hand careened wildly as he gestured; Hart willed the priest's animation, or perhaps whatever god might be listening to and perturbed by his speech, to cause Grimes to cut Hart a break by accidentally shooting himself. "Men and women of science, of reason, of impassioned drive — they can lead even a faithless people to greatness.
"But hope? A nation without hope is doomed. Hope inspires desire, and desire is the fuel that propels a society forward. Even the little hopes, hope for a better life than one's parents, hope for a tolerable job, hope for that one true love, keep the engine running. Look around you, Mr. Hart. The crime, the fear, the hatred, the chaos — they're all symptoms of a culture that's all out of hope."
The priest leaned forward and put the pistol in Hart's face. To Hart, the black tunnel of the barrel looked plenty big enough to swallow him whole.
"So tell me, Mr. Hart — are you the sort of person who can find hope in the face of what appears to be a hopeless situation?"
FRIDAY, MARCH 27:
In the presence of several of his predecessors, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn officially cut the ribbon opening Riverwalk's "crucial" Kennedy Boulevard section linking Curtis Hixon Park with Channelside and the Amalie Arena. Finally, a beautiful, walkable path from one end of downtown to another to briefly consider before deciding that's way too far to walk and calling a possibly rapey Uber, because America, free enterprise, diabetes, etc.
Florida legislators are demanding big changes to governor/original vampire Rick Scott's secrecy-shrouded, taxpayer-funded incentives for attracting new business to the state, citing a need to actually know what the hell they are, how they work and where the money comes from and goes. It's always reassuring when the lawmakers decide to look into what the shady figurehead that can't be re-elected was doing while they cheerfully averted their big cartoon-dollar-sign eyes.
And in apocalyptic local Friday crime news: a fifth alleged conspirator was indicted in the robbery and murder of an 82-year-old man in a Clearwater mobile home park; a man in Tampa was charged with attempted murder after allegedly stabbing his girlfriend eight times; another Tampa man was arrested for attacking his wife with a screwdriver; and an arrest warrant was issued for another dude in the case of a fatal Apollo Beach shooting. Go Team Humanity.
SATURDAY, MARCH 28:
Tampa held its first pride event in 14 years. At the risk of self-reference, I'd have to say this seems like the direct result of hope, and of the action that comes about when hope becomes desire. We are all indebted to those who put in the work. Thank you. All of you.
It got cool again. Those in the cup-half-empty crowd briefly recalled the joy of sleeping with their windows open back in the day, before people started trying to kill other people with screwdrivers on the regular.
Seven people were shot at a spring break house party in Panama City Beach. This little factoid should serve to remind everyone, no matter one's perspective on what the amount of liquid in the cup implies, that angry morons never really clock out.
SUNDAY, MARCH 29:
And finally, Juan Pablo Montoya drove a special car faster/better/with more verve (pick any two) than others to win the Firestone Grand Prix in downtown St. Pete. Now I know exactly who to blame for my not being able to get my brunch on. You better be a consistently excellent racer, Mr. Montoya, because I AM OWED CRISPY HASH BROWNS AND A BLOODY MARY BAR AND I AM COMING FOR YOU.