Independence often comes at a price. No Dialogue entry July 2019 - 670 words.
|The mid-afternoon sun blazed from a near cloudless blue sky, as Eugene Jenson ambled down Barabbas Drive. He was seventy eight years of age and wore a grey fedora hat, beige jacket, navy shirt, dark trousers and tan leather shoes. A scar above his upper lip had occasioned him to grow a Chevron moustache, and it had been his habit to smoke pipes for the past thirty years, but health issues and rotting teeth prompted his decision to quit. He was slowly regaining enough breath to play with his rambunctious grandchildren; like Kassandra Miller, whose sticky palm he was presently holding.
Kassandra was a mischievous little eight year old with short sandy hair, green eyes and a snotty button nose that tended to twitch whenever she told lies. There had been laws forbidding children to wear mismatching attire, but now such rules were obsolete, and the girl’s Emerald jacket, yellow Tee-Shirt, pink shorts and red sneakers was of no one’s business, other than her parents.
It was autumn and most of the sidewalks were carpeted with withered leaves, from the maple trees; soon to be chopped down and discarded along with the plethora of other aides-mémoires of Supremo Kritchlen’s tyrannical regime. Just over four days had passed since General Scamapler’s mercenaries had stormed the Citadel and staged the code tar, overpowering his ill prepared henchmen with a surprising lack of casualties.
Eugene turned left at the intersection and meandered along Translation Avenue, with Kassandra chitchatting bout her favourite cartoons, and intermittently skipping over cracks in the sidewalk. His stomach churned with inner turmoil as he contemplated his friends', family, and even his own future. It seemed doubtful they would retain the accommodations Kritchlen had awarded them for loyalty. Despite the new found freedom a noticeable uneasiness had ascended the populous, as they waited confirmation of a new despot. There would be changes, redefining morality and allegiance. The defiant, or at least those that questioned the need to fix what was not broke, would be disregarded and swept away into obscurity; their opinions, irrelevant.
Kassandra’s chatter grew quiet as they walked passed Parker’s Park. A once favoured leisure venue; turned compound camp for revolutionary orphans. Sitting on large sheets of tarpaulin, the dirty faced boys and girls gazed back at them with sullen expressions. These were the children of Kritchlen’s security guards, aides and henchmen, forcefully removed from the citadel by Scampler’s loyalists; their fine clothing stripped and usurped for little more than rags that vaguely hugged their sallow bodies.
Eugene drew a heavy sigh and moved on with Kassandra tagging behind in thoughtful silence; her free palm sliding atop of the adjacent wooden fence railing as if a car journeying along a long narrow road, and her feet still avoiding the pavement cracks. Further along, they passed pascal houses. Sprinklers whooshed, dogs barked, children shrilled at play and here and there, neighbours gossiped over dilapidated fences and tended to domestic chores.
Turning left at Scribbler’s Dairy, they came at last to Raccoon Way Bus Shelter and sat next to a ginger haired boy, engrossed in a paperback copy of Animal Farm. He dressed in an grey hoodie, blue Hawaiian shorts and jandals. A medic alert bracelet hung from his right wrist and on the pavement, to the left of him was an Assistance dog; doing its best to avoid the boy’s swinging feet.
Just over five minutes later the number 18 Bus arrived and they all boarded. Eugene stared out the grimy window and pondered the fate of the revolutionary orphans. A half dozen dump trucks, laden with crumbled masonry from demolished statues of Kritchlen, overtook the bus; heading toward the Landfill, where excavators had already begun digging pits in preparation for a “burning of the books” ceremony. He retrieved a small notebook and pencil from his jacket pocket and jotted down memos. Later, whilst Kassandra worked on her colouring-in books, he would sit at his easel painting all that he had witnessed; his warts and all Portrait of Independence.