15 April 2007

For The General Good


Justice Putnam
(Under every stone lurks a politician.
-- Aristophanes)

I thought the State had no need for my services any longer. But a Certain Member of the Assembly visited a few days ago with a message from the Forum Of One Leader.

“The FOOL requires your expertise,” the Certain Member of the Assembly pleaded, using the jargon peculiar to all bureaucrats through all of history, “without your special talent, the People will remain unconvinced and the Assembly will not act. Only you can report the Good News of all that has been done for the General Good!”

An Appropriations Bill was stalled because the People were only hearing negative reporting from the Just Deserts region. It was on all the news. The Forum Of One Leader had decided to silence his critics once and for all, so he recalled my commission and brought me Back On Board.

A good decision, I might add, because that not only makes me one of the BOB’s, I am also a Brownie. You see, I was once the head of the Federal Emergency Manipulation Agency, otherwise known as FEMA. Our task was to communicate how to make lemonade. Life and Government throw many things our way. So it is important that the People can find the pony; that they know at least it’s a dry heat; and if bridges are to be mended, what better time than during a flood?

"It’s not necessary to fly to the Just Deserts region," I said to the Certain Member of the Assembly, "I only need to address all 135,000 of the Brownies."

"How does the Superdome sound?" the Certain Member of the Assembly asked.

"Super!" I responded.

The next day I’m at the 50-yard line of the Superdome surrounded by a sea of brown; not a brown like the muddy Mississippi. No, this was a crisp, ironed and buttoned-down sea of brown. Everyone wore brown shoes, everyone wore brown slacks, (brown skirts for the girls and women, of course!) and most important, everyone wore a brown shirt.

Anyone could wear brown shoes, or brown slacks; but only a Brownie is allowed to wear a brown shirt. A Brownie takes a kind of blood oath. In the beginning, the FOOL’s loyalists were called brown-noses for what critics said was the obvious ass-kissing that allowed the FOOL to govern as he did. But the Federal Emergency Manipulation Agency went into action and issued brown shirts to the loyalists in response. A Press Briefing was organized and the first ritual ass kissing was broadcast. About 70 loyalists, on bended knee, kissed the ass of the FOOL and then donned their brown shirt.

Now a Brownie gets his or her brown shirt when they kiss the ass of a life-sized statue of the FOOL. It’s a lot easier on the Forum Of One Leader, as you can imagine!

"When I was called by the Forum Of One Leader to bring back the Good News of all that has been done for the General Good," I began my speech, "I thought of the hurricane that almost brought down this reverent stadium. Harsh winds tore at her roof. The floodwaters rose and threatened to inundate her. The Little People who used to live in the Old City flocked to her arms for succor in their time of need; and succor them she did!"

135,000 right hands rose in unison as if at a great evangelical church service and shouted in one giant voice,


"And I thought of our brave troops" I continued, "who have sacrificed so much and for so long because of our freedoms! Those brave men and women who are your brothers and sisters, your husbands and wives, your aunts and uncles, your mothers and fathers; and yes! Your grandparents, too!"

The Brownies couldn’t restrain themselves. Pandemonium broke out as they bounced straight up and down like on pogo sticks, their right arms thrust upwards with shouts of "Amen!" echoing throughout the Stadium. I let them have their riot of ecstasy. After several moments I put my finger to my lips to hush them.

"So when our critics accuse us of self-serving political treachery," I said, barely above a whisper, "when our critics accuse us of self-centered political gain," I raised my voice, "when our critics accuse us of inaction, ineptitude and incompetence," I was now full throated, "I want each and every one of you to find those critics," I was yelling, "you find them in their libraries, you find them in their secular schools, you find them in their chat rooms and you ram your finger in their bony chests and tell them, all that we do is for the General Good!"

"Amen! Amen!" echoed throughout the giant structure.

"And it’s all true," I was patting my brow like a great evangelist, "it’s all true! Because all that we do, all that we are, is for the General Good! Because at midnight tonight, the Forum Of One Leader will don his ceremonial fighter jet jacket and forever be known by his new title, THE GENERAL GOOD!" I shouted.

135,000 Brownies took to the streets on that clear as crystal night shouting, "For The General Good! For The General Good!"

I know a few windows were broken and a few fires were set. I know I got them hot under the collar. But at least it’s a dry heat!

© 2007 by Justice Putnam
and Mechanisches-Strophe Verlagswesen

05 April 2007

I Have No Mouth


Justice Putnam
Like the wind crying endlessly through the universe, Time carries away the names and the deeds of conquerors and commoners alike. And all that we are, all that remains, is in the memories of those who cared we came this way for a brief moment.

-- Harlan Ellison
I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream

Mes den hep tavas a-gollas y dyr
From the Cornish, the tongueless man gets his land took.

--Tony Harrison
National Trust

I had to, don’t you see? You’d do the same if you were in my place, and a lot sooner too! I’d tell you if I could, but as you can see, one of the conditions of my release is that my mouth has been surgically removed.

I just couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take standing for hours, the threats of beatings. Oh, they beat me, for sure. Early on the beatings were constant, so much that you expected them, so a mere threat was enough for some of us to literally piss our pants. I couldn’t take being forced awake after just a few seconds of sleep in seventy hours? Or was it a hundred? Did I sleep only an hour ago?

Don’t you see? This is what they have done to a man! I have lost all sense of time; a minute is a year and a year is a mere minute! Damn! Why won’t you listen to me? I’m blinking my eyes in Morse code! If you would just listen, you’d see that I am talking to you!

The first time they let me see the sky was after five months of darkness! They let me see the full moon, I only know this now, but at the time I thought it was the sun at noon! It was that bright and blinding and painful.

There are so many things I want to tell you, I want to tell you about the years of abuse, I want to tell you how they break a man to confess to killing God, how they can make you confess to crimes committed by ancestors twenty years ago. I want to tell you about why I chose to have my mouth removed so I could go home.

In fact, I planned this long ago. That’s why I taught myself Morse code. I started to teach myself sign language, but I was caught and isolated for another year and a half, or was it longer? Damn it! This is what they do! I see now on all the legal documents how long I was isolated at different times during my imprisonment. A year one time then out for four months, isolated for two years and then out for only three weeks, then another year long isolation.

It went on and on and on like that. So I taught myself how to blink my eyes in Morse code because I knew they would remove my mouth! I know they are fighting a war and wars are messy. I knew I had a story to tell and I would tell it, no matter what! If you would just listen, I’d tell you one.

In fact, I was not even a soldier. I only drove some soldiers to an airport in my cab! I even had the paperwork to prove it! It was that paperwork that convicted me, I see. The new laws they passed said I helped those soldiers by driving them to the airport.

Why won’t you listen to me? It’s so obvious! Look! Dot, dash, dot! Damn it, and all that follows! Someone has to know Morse code, here! Why won’t you listen to me? I’m looking right at you! Listen!

"Hey Sarge," the young reservist called to the military contractor, "look at that one there."

"Yeah," the military contractor, replied, "that one just got out of iso this morning and is being prepped for another cycle in a day and a half."

"But Sarge?" the young reservist asked, "what’s with his face?"

"That was one of the earlier ones we picked up," the military contractor informed, "the worst of the worse. After a while these little mama’s boys admitted to anything we wanted, which proved that they were capable of anything. But we also got tired of hearing day after day how they did this or they did that just so’s they can go home to their mamas. So we had one of our plastic surgeon contractors do a number on these slime ball’s mouths!"

"But what’s up with the eyes?"

"Oh, that!" the military contractor laughed, "one of our company’s division vice presidents for procurement made that call. Since we were moving these slime balls from one prison to another and we didn’t want them to know where they were; and also since all of them would be in isolation, it was decided it was more cost effective to just sew their eyes shut. Some of them don’t even know, they look around just like they can see, just like that one!"

"When does this one go back to iso?" the young reservist was looking at the prisoner’s chart.

"A day and a half." The military contractor replied.

© 2007 by Justice Putnam
and Mechanisches-Strophe Verlagswesen