book 4: "meek are the blessed"

       Doreen was having the absolute worst day. It was always when she had to work that the world seemed more likely to mess with her mood. It didn’t matter how great she felt upon waking or how determined to succeed she was. Some obligatory jackhole would undoubtedly kill her vibe, just like the phone call this morning. Bastard didn’t even say anything at first, she remembered. It wasn’t until the third “HELLO” on her part that made the other side wake up at all. Clear sign the damn thing was a machine, by the way.

       “Hi there, Ms. Price, have you been outside today?” said a seriously deluded robotic voice

       “Wha?” she countered.

      “Because there is never a better time to take a trip than right now, today in fact, you can get your tickets at”

Click.

      Doreen had been done with THAT conversation before it began. Too many distractions from the outside, always fighting for her attention, when all she wanted was to work hard for some money so she could have a little of herself to herself. Wasn’t that the American Dream?

      “Doe, what about me?” says the world.

       “Get a damn job!” that’s what Doe says.

        So, here she was, late for work again. She hated her job, of course, but the godforsaken Man had to be paid to keep the roads built and clean or whatever. She didn’t have any familial obligations or the like, and hell, she was still young. If she could just provide for herself and actually receive all of her promised pay including the part the government claimed for themselves, she would be pretty much ok. At least she worked at a bank where she was constantly reminded of WHY she was working. There was something to be said about straight forward representations of intent that Doreen found quite refreshing. If only we could have that kind of jolly transparency in the Chancellor’s office...

          And then what happens? Friggen' crazy cop walks in spouting nonsense about god knows what, to god knows who. Pretty sure no one cares, dude. Also pretty sure that guy wasn’t a real cop, but whatever.

        “Next,” she said.

         That’s when the man with the brief case began walking toward her. Her eyes widened with surprise, first at the almost blinding beauty of this man’s stride, and then at the confidant intent in his eyes. For those few occasions in life when time slows down, and perfect attention is paid, this was one for the books. This guy had style for days. He was literally Baywatching towards her with a smile that radiated warmth and encouraged desire. Her eyes were now wide enough to be considered bulging.

        “Hi there,” he said.

         She crashed back to earth with a jerk.

         “Oh, uh hum,” she said and blinked. He had somehow traveled all the way across the room and was now at her counter.

         “Um?” he said.

         She appraised him again, this time noticing his expensive attire, and decided she needed to snap out of this.

       COME ON DOE.

      She smiled and laughed a little. He stared at her, his smile still on and his head cocked to the side slightly as if he was trying to get the joke.

      “Bad time?,” he asked.

      She straightened up and smoothed her blouse.

       “Of course not, sir,” Doe said.

She was back ladies and gentleman. Please do not get up.

She shook her head to clear it.

“How may I serve you today?”

      He looked pleased at this and set his briefcase down somewhere, to his side Doreen assumed, as she could not see jack from her vantage point.

    “Well,” he began and put his arms on the counter in front of her.

    “I want to tell you about an adventure.” He said, and beamed.

Doe’s heart sank.

         “What?” she sighed.

          What was this, two for one nutbag day? Seriously

       She looked around and behind him for any chance a manager might have the decency to save her. He looked down at her lapel momentarily before returning his eyes to hers.

          “Doreen,” he said.

         “Yes?” she said and locked eyes with the man.

        “I can assure you I am right where I want to be.”

        “But you must want investments and loans and that’s an office over there. Here, if you want to wait…”

        He was waving both hands as well as his head slowly in a gesture that negated this idea.

       Calm down, it’s cool. His hands said.

         It’s cool.

      “Doreen, I’m here to talk to YOU,” he said.

                            ***

         The last word he spoke had not finished reverberating in the hall before the applause embraced and overcame the sentiment he wished to impart. He wonders if it was anything worth saying after all. These people are just obeying cues, jumping at marks. The fact that he set most of the marks, and had written his share, only made him that much more jaded. It is easy for him to forget why this had to be done at all.

       “Two minutes,” Rosen whisper-shouts into his ear before straightening back up to survey the crowd with his stone face.

        This is not news that Dowd welcomed. Really? Two flipping flapping minutes? An eternity amongst these… people.

    He shuddered, nearly imperceptibly, and kept smiling. It was time for the wave, and Dowd obliged his flock with a practiced back and forth of his raised right hand. This wasn’t exactly a left to right maneuver, but more of an up and down slide. His hand would start up in the air with palm facing them and he would swing down and out, turning his open palm up to the crowd, as if he was serving them. Or, perhaps, inviting them to take a bow and enjoy their contribution to the spectacle of his presence.

Hi there, thanks (palm open and up)

And one for you (sweep towards the crowd)

Repeat

Sing along if you know this one.

One more minute...

He sees Rosen getting antsy in his peripheral.

You should try standing where I am, he thinks dryly.

            Besides, Dowd knows personal security is irrelevant anyway. If they are going to get you, you were as good as gone. The script was already written in that regard, the parts cast and the house sold out. As he thought this last, he felt the crowds swell with anticipation for his closing remarks. He breathed in deeply. And the curtain rises…

***

      The car door slams shut and Dowd hears Rosen tap twice on the side of the door.

Got me all tucked away don’t ya? But who’s pulling YOUR strings Pinocchio?

Dowd sniffed and turned away from his staffman. The Limo starts its ascent into traffic, adrift into the sea of people.

       There are a bazillion of these bastards out here. Political life is so public these days. It reminded him of the glitter and glam his clients enjoyed while he was in the Industry. He could probably put out an album himself and sell well, even in a market that gives away its product for free online, and regardless of talent. Lord knows talent had little to do with his current surge in popularity. The old “inter nasty” was a huge point on his campaign bulletin, (access needs to be limited and controlled), right underneath privatization of most everything and that ridiculous fence. Of course, that fence had been his greatest success, regardless of its completion.

     “What the hell was that?”

       Dowd blinked and his mind sharpened to address this interruption of tranquility. The ferret was addressing him apparently.

       “I take it you’re not into the policy I was laying down? Kool aid not quite sweet enough for ya, Rosen?,” Dowd said.

         Rosen had been staring at the old man incredulously and now seemed to gawk. His mouth dropped open.

“Are you fucking kidding me?"

“LANGUAGE, Rosen” said Dowd

You ungrateful pip squeak.

        Rosen was undeterred. In fact, he became more enthusiastic. As if this would help him get through to Dowd, who after all, had been through most everything.      

       “Were you at the same press conference I was? Seriously Dowd, just what in the flippin flapping doo da day were you thinking?”

       Rosen’s mother-of-a-preschool-child expletive substitutes caused a smile to visit Dowd’s face. It was not just amusing that his platform of extreme conservatism endorsed such behavior, it was Rosen’s compliance to his objection. Whatever the pip squeek’s problem is, he was back to knowing who the boss was. Back in control, just as it should be.

       “You were right on point. Talking traditional values, probationary periods for unwed mothers and then…. What?”

       Rosen looked at Dowd with eyes that appeared to be, yes indeed, angry. This guy actually thought he had some kind of say? Dowd’s knee jerk reaction, (always: consistency is the cornerstone he had always said), is to rehash the policy. So he would put pippy here to bed with the same speech he had just given and the redundancy would add a sardonic sheen to the words making them seem all the more wise. Time for school he thought, but as Dowd raised his finger to lay in with the lecture, he found himself at a loss. He could not reproduce any of the speech.

     “Um” he said.  

  “Shit, Dowd if only that had been what you said up there. Instead you went quiet and then made that… noise…ugh it was terrible”

   “Noise?” Dowd asked.

     He was getting uncomfortable. He suddenly wanted to be elsewhere.

   “Yea, noise!” Rosen said and hit his own head with his palm. “Like a tea kettle from hell.”

       A sound filled Dowd’s ears for a moment, both strange and familiar.

    WeeeeeeEEEEEEAAAAHAHHHAAAhhh

Almost at the same moment, Rosen matched pitch with the auditory ghost:

       “WeeeeeeEEEEEEAAAAHAHHHAAAhhh ,you said. Now what in the holy shitzpa is going on?”

    Dowd’s eyes widened in recognition, and then shone with disbelief.

    “Good God,” moaned Dowd.

    “But ….that was only a dream!”

    Then Dowd crumpled to the seat cushion. His eyes were closed tight and his breathing was shallow. His hands were now motionless by his side.

      From across the seat, Rosen looked on. He looked at his watch as he pulled out his phone.

“It is done” he said. He then put the phone back in his pocket and waited for the car to pass through the sea of people. As he didn’t have anything to do other than wait, he began to whistle. This was going to be a good day.

*** 

     He finished quicker than usual but felt just as satisfied. Such was the way of the really fast, really potent interactions with the opposite sex. He felt more connected with the act itself if it felt acted upon instinctively, as if the animals we all start out as were more readily available, more accessible. Rosen preferred his animal pretty damn close to the surface.

       We civilize so much, he thought as he lay next to her on the cot, that we don’t even know we have needs. Itches are scratched, appetites endure, thirsts quenched, hungers sated, nay GORGED. Appetites increase. More machine than beast unless we just let it happen. Just ignoring these needs the way Dowd and his flock would have us believe that they do also just amplifies the urge. Like steam from a kettle, or bullets from guns. Sometimes, the animal just needs to rage.

      As he considered this, she got up and began to search around the floor for her underwear. He could see her out of the corner of his eye, one hand on the bed and the other on the floor, leaning over trying to see underneath. He was pretty sure the undergarment was just inside the door, almost positive that is where they had come off at, but said nothing. He did not want to ruin his peace with a dialogue. He must have been wrong anyway because she was straitening up and he heard her say something about a …a dream?

      He turned to get a better look and saw Dowd standing before him, naked except for the tiny black panties she had been looking for. This look did not flatter him, as his belly was ample and hair grew from seemingly every pore. Rosen had time to notice all of these things as he tried to make sense of what the hell was going on. “But that was only a dream,” Dowd said. Although it sounded more like a moan. As Rosen locked eyes with his employer, the elder man’s jaw dropped open and the noise began. Small and slight at first, but rising in pitch and timbre as it wretched itself from the lungs of the politician.

       “WeeeeeeEEEEEEAAAAHAHHHAAAhhh”

    Rosen opened his eyes and jumped out of bed, literally. He physically jumped up and stood next to the cot he shared with Denise. (It was Denise, right?) He pulled the covers down a little to make sure. A young woman lay in the bed, dozing. He calmed himself, blinked once, took two breaths and then freaked and bent down suddenly pulling her hair back to make sure.

   “Off me, dickless. I’m sleep,” she said, and rolled over on her other side.

    This was Denise indeed. Rosen took in a ragged breath and sat down next to her. He put his head in his hands and started to rock slightly.

   “What have we done?” he asked.

   “It was only a dream.” Denise said from behind him.

    His eyes widened.

   In the darkness of his room at Dowd’s International, Dale Rosen began to weep.

***

   Doreen breathed in heavily and let out a long and loud sigh.

The man continues to look at her.

She rolled her eyes.

He smiled.

Seeing that her obvious annoyance meant nothing to Mr. Congeniality here, she relented.

“Ok,” she said “Tell me your pitch.”she said. 

       This actually made the man more enthusiastic, if that were possible. He was overjoyed by her participation.

     “Oh, Doreen, you will not regret this!” He reached down and grabbed something. Then his hands were in the air again.

    “Imagine, if you will. A world of accountability.”

   “ Ugh,” she said.

     Was this over yet?

   He smiled, still with hands in the air.

    “Accountability achieved by everyone doing their part. Not one person drinking the work sweat from others. No more layabouts living off of your hard work.”

Doe smiled in a not insincere way. He was getting warmer.

“A country of big earners, not scared of smart ideas because of some petty political idea of personal space or property”

“ If you are anything like me, and I know you are, you just want what’s yours. Right?”

     He tipped her a conspiratorial wink followed by an even better smile he had been hiding for this occasion

   She laughed.

  “Ok ,Ok, Mr…?”

   “Oh sorry. Hi,” He held out his hand to shake. “I’m Art.” He said

   “Arthur?” she said, raising an eyebrow?

   He sighed and feigned anguish.

   “If you must,” he said. The smile was back.

      She laughed and looked down. She was now holding a small button. She recognized it almost immediately, although the brand that this came from was long defunct. “Is that?” she said, looking at him skeptically.

“Yes ma’am” He beamed.

“That is an Easy Button.”

       She laughed with surprise and a little bit of nostalgia. These were promotional tools for Staples stores in the early part of the millennium. It was basically a big red button with the word EASY embossed in white across its face. If the button were to be pressed, a small recorded voice would utter the brand’s tagline: That Was Easy.

       She shook her head.

     “wha?” She began.

      “Save all questions and comments for the end of the tour please Ma’am.” He scolded lightly.

      His animated hands continued their descriptive dance as he said this, with one hand going to his waist and the other wagging an index finger at Doe.

    She cocked her head to the side and smiled.

    “Proceed,” She said.

    “Thank you kindly,” He said.

    “Ok, so what is the number one thing that keeps you from getting ahead?,” he asked.

    Doreen thought about it for a second. Before she could speak, Art had the answer for her.

     “ A lack of opportunity, right?”

    Bingo, she thought.

       “Because we make everything so equal and fair, no one can get anywhere. Blessed are the meek for they inherit the earth, right? That’s all well and good to read but the reality of that statement is misleading. What the verse fails to say, is that by the time the meek and mild inherit the earth, it is all used up. Just a husk, and who wants that?”

       She nodded slowly, enraptured.

    “ We need to reach to the top again, let the natural leaders take their rightful place. No longer will the great among us languish forgotten because of the forced banalization of our society. Let us rise!”

      "Does that sound good to you, Doreen?”

    “Yes, sir!” she said and meant it. This guy truly knew her heart.

    “If it was just as easy as pushing a button, you would do it right?” he asked.

  Doreen looked down and realized she still had the Easy Button. She laughed.

      “Well, YEA!” she said. She didn’t know what this guy was selling but she was buying.

     He smirked and chuckled as she raised the button and shook it at him.

    “Push the Button, Doreen.”

Laughing, she did.

           The bomb went off immediately. The explosion was not strong enough to knock the structure down, or affect the neighboring buildings. It was just big enough to decimate a small radius and it did its job admirably. All of the people inside were killed before they even knew what was happening. The bank was effectively closed until further notice when it could be rebuilt, restaffed, and restocked with other people’s money.

That was easy.

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