Morning appointment, my punishment. I failed to obey some commandments, not quite theological, not exactly secular, let’s say somewhere between revenge and redemption. Well, that’s quite a range so to narrow it down… actually, it doesn’t really matter. They do it because they’re able.
That’s how it goes when we’re too busy with pop buzz and food on the table to put much attention on matters of society. After all, a sidetracked society is created by people who have an idea of intelligence and wait for that intelligence to give them an idea of how to help each other, but in waiting, fail to produce. And so, as nature hates a weedless field, up sprouts a regime of unforgiving mandates.
At any rate, I’m running late for my check-in so declamation and admonishment aside, the guy at the punishment center wears a smock and when he cuts off my hand, he tells me it’s for a grievous error of character or judgment, but not quite a sin, and that I can still salute the flag when the president passes. Being young, I thought youth were supposed to make grievous errors in life, that’s how we learn, but the guy in smock clearly grants my inexperience is no excuse and the idealism I wear on my sleeve a wholly defective garment.
Look, I know there are rules we must observe and others, to retain our humanity, violate nakedly, but I seem to be out of step with this fashion of obedience, and I don’t mean any disrespect, except that I do, but secretly and securely in my bed at night when I dream of freedom to write my own words on the wall or to adore an open expanse of love with those I find pleasant and welcome.
When he cuts off my other hand, he tells me that he exalts me so large that he can’t bear to see me in the cold, outside his devotion, and that I can still push red buttons like colorful toys to launch a synthetic election. I can still hug a statue and caress black marble walls of bank buildings.
True, these are things I enjoy, but I prefer them on my own terms, my own rules of engagement, but that’s a somewhat military phrase and I’m a pacifist, so let me simply say give me freedom, what we sometimes call liberty, like the statue we once thought grand or the bell we cracked with its clapper to summon the faithful. If not that, I would at least like to know my crime, perhaps be amused by it, and when I inquire politely of my offense, the one I must have stumbled over somewhere, the guy with the smock, his face full of duty, informs me that there are fingers we must amputate, and others, to retain our dignity, must wave and wag.
Well, that’s no help, especially since he placed me in his calculation. I’m not we. I don’t want to chastise my neighbors, or tell the young girl on the corner she can’t bargain what she wants. I say live and let dance, let others pluck their own strings, march on city hall if they want, stay out past curfew, although, come to think of it, I do reprimand those who step on grasshoppers or kick their cat.
It’s possible I don’t see the advantage of compliance, conformity. Maybe there’s reward at the end of the rule book. Stranger things have happened I suppose, though not to me, and the man in the smock, as if he knows my curious thought, exposes a heretofore unknown benefit when he cuts off my foot and mentions that now no boot shall be my master, no sandal my priest.
That’s novel, I admit, and in admitting, realize my heart has been solely concerned with my own comfort, my own desires, and that I have at times failed to fall down, prostrate myself, before the book of bile that men and women like the man in the smock tread upon and hold to their breasts to justify their cruelty, but I have just named them cruel, and in doing so, have exposed myself as a fraud of conciliation, and therefore have not yet abandoned my individuality.
It seems the man in the smock and I have come to an agreement of sorts, a disciplinary covenant, though not enforceable, at least not from my end of the bargain, between punisher and punished, that allows him for a moment to set down the tools of his trade and offer some discretionary advice of how, if one eye offends me, I can remove it myself voluntarily and still see the beauty of bullets that fondle red chests of nonbelievers.
Most I can do here is nod because I don’t want to carve out an eye and plus, it doesn’t offend me. I like what I see and, not to be discourteous to other senses, what I hear, although we know, my generation that is, that there are hymns we must chant, and others, to maintain our respect, must condemn as discordant and coarse.
Even though I only nod, suspicion must wrinkle my face because the man in the smock cuts off my ear, and as he slices, weeps, he says, for my obstinate skepticism, for my lack of faith in his faultless doctrine. Open your belief to our hammer, he says, to our blessing. Here are gods we must worship in harmony, and others to punish for crime. I am sad to see you maimed, in sight of rapture, and far from Jericho.
Certain, I don’t care to see him sad, anyone sad I guess, even a righter of wrongs, but it could be a ploy to inhale his polluted goodness because I see no passage of tears, and I still remember my father who kissed the headlines of his day and returned with a dead purple face.
Now forgive the bad joke of my forearm stumps, but it’s out of my hands now. I walked an uneven road for all my young years, cloaked, like all young souls, in my own protection, excused from decrees and directives. And now when the man in the smock cuts off my breath with a rope on my neck, he waits and waits as I drowse into airless slumber, a sentinel to my pain, my grief both holy and profane.
I’d like to stay and taste the wind, but now at least I know. When a punisher conceives the inconceivable and slinks away, he excretes his shame, names himself noble, and begs for a god, any god, to tally as virtue each drop of life that falls from his knife to make fruitful his love’s barren tundra.
Well, that was cheery I’ll bet. Thanks for reading. I do appreciate it. Dynamic Creed on the move. Maybe next week we’ll have some puppies and ice cream.
Last week I published The Defiant Light without pushing it to email. So you may not have seen it. It came out of a writing prompt exercise that was a lot of fun. Take a look!
I’m excited to announce that I’m working on a book. It’s a collection of stories, many of which I haven’t shared anywhere yet. It’ll be available on Amazon, ready in early April. Some of the stories included are: High Capacity, Dogs Of Another Jazz, and A Divine Taste of Pins and Needles. Most stories in the book are longer pieces.
Thanks again. As always, if you’re up to it, let me know what you’re thinking in the comments. And if you’re planning on taking out a Dynamic Creed billboard on the interstate, please let me know. I will come and give you a personal hug.
All the best, Victor David
Thanks for another great story, Victor. There was so much in this one that seemed relatable, it really resonated with me (thematically, not literally as I still have my hands, feet). And congratulations on the book! I look forward to its release.
The billboard is in the works.
Aigoo! That's not a dystopia I want to live in. I don't do well with authority. LOL