[a short story by ~burning woman~ ]
“Don’t mince words: come right out and tell us!” There is much anger in those voices, but more, it is a challenge, a challenge to back up my words; to prove myself. Funny part is, that’s the very last thing I want to be able to do, but “they” don’t get it. How many times do I have to say it: “I don’t want to be right. But you have to prove me wrong!”
But instead, they shuffle back onto the porch of the old honky-tonk – well, so to speak – and with hands in pockets, slouch forward, looking down at me standing in the mud of the partially thawed parking lot. The garish red neon sign casts its bloody glow upon the surface between pickup trucks; bits of frozen soil reflect the light like rubies. Thousands of fake rubies on top of ruts, a dozen rubes glaring from the porch. Angry, upset, confused – dangerous in their abject destitution, desperate to strike out at anything that creates an unaccustomed chafing.
Of course the “argument” had been political. Did I start it? I don’t know, I may have mentioned the fact that international treaties were responsible for over half of these people being unemployed and having to supplement their welfare stamps with illegal activities, selling pot and hooch and their women, while those who work garner such pitiable wages from the mining corporations they can never, ever hope to make any of the endless ends meet.
The sad thing is, there’s a tradition of this sort of thing here, long before the great depression of the 1930’s even. Beating the “revenuers” and their women and children, is more than tradition or a way of life, it’s how these people measure their independence and freedom, even if on the long run the law wins and all of them have served, or will serve, long prison sentences. The sad thing is, the women and the children play this game too, having no idea how to change the system of abject oppression they have to survive within and struggle under; having no idea there could even be a different kind of way.
So there they stand, promoters of drugs, booze, prostitution, managing a prison designed by their elites, a self-serving dystopia maintained through a totally dysfunctional society feeding upon itself in an ever-shrinking loop. Observe with me: through the open doors of the metal-clad rickety building, behind the bar is the country’s flag. Of course. And the money enriching the tills says, “In God we Trust.” And every time a cash register rings its bell an angel gets its wings, isn’t that right?
I see these things as a matter of course ‘cause in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is a visionary. I see these people, staring at me, daring me, itching for a fight out here, in the mud of the parking lot. And these men are proud! Tell them their pride is the final nail in their dying world’s coffin and they will tear you to shreds.
So, friend, do as I do. I lift up both arms, open my hands wide and wish them all a good night, walking slowly backward to my truck. But when I finally get in the cab, lock the door and put my hands on the steering wheel, I notice they’re shaking. I won’t deny it, I’m scared half to death as I drive away slowly, carefully and as quietly as the beast will let me, expecting headlights to flare up behind me and start following. The parking lot remains dark.
You, sitting here in the bouncing cab, secure in your seat belt and staring at the winding road bordered by snaggy, leafless bushes, after witnessing the above, remember this: if you think you have some wisdom to impart to this world, be very circumspect because sharing wisdom to the average Earthian is casting pearls before swine. Do not think that teaching wisdom is worth the price of martyrdom. A society such as this cannot raise martyrs, your death would only serve as bloody entertainment to supplement its meager fare of pleasures and feed its desperate lusts.