The Beginning

He had fired good military men and paved the way for bad ones; he had cut military spending and made deals with the enemy; he had condemned the leader of an ally and shook hands with a supporter of terrorism; he had willfully violated the Constitution and weakened his country’s borders, economy and health; he had lied and obfuscated and covered up.

They all knew this, all the senators and all the reporters in the room; they knew this, but would go on asking him inane questions about the specifics of his new policy and how he expected his legacy to be affected by it. In no way did they want to rock the boat of this world-wide televised news conference.

Henry was a good reporter. He stuck to the facts and reported the facts. He also loved his country very much, loved it even more for the free country it once had been than for its current slow-but-sure slide into the un-free country it was becoming. He couldn’t stand it; something had to be done. He looked at the bland, plastic faces around him, at all those who were quick to criticize the President when interviewed on some news show (though even there they fell short of moral condemnation), but were too afraid to say what they really thought and what so urgently needed to be said. Too afraid of it being true, too afraid of being the one to break the thin shell of falsity and show the ugly worm within.

Henry knew that he would lose his job; he knew that all his friends in the press would distance themselves from him, if he said it. He knew that he would probably have to move out of his new house and put his children in another school (Hell, get ‘em out of school! It’s nothing but a propaganda machine anyway!) in another city where his name was not known. Then he would have to find some kind of a job—doing what, he didn’t know. Would Carol stick by him? Could she and would she take it? He shook his head, “What am I thinking of?” he asked himself. “She will; she’ll be proud of me, ” he hoped.

And now, now, when the question period began, Henry raised his hand. The President, with a smiling, superior smirk on his face, pointed to Henry. (“Good. I’m first. Here goes.”)
With his sandy hair, light blue eyes and square shoulders, he stood. He knew that the eyes of the world were on him and didn’t care. He was the only man in the room. In a strong, deep voice he began, “I didn’t vote for you and I never will. Not for you or any of your anti-American kind.” His voice rose in power and strength. “You have betrayed my country and you are a traitor! You have committed acts of destructive evil and you are an evil man! You have committed treason and you should be imprisoned! If the men in this room had any guts…”

After the first moments of stunned silence all Hell broke lose. Many of the leftists began booing, drowning Henry out. He stopped and turned to walk out. A thin scarecrow of a woman sitting behind the fake President, screamed, “Get him out of here! He’s insane!” Many of the senators of the right closed their eyes and shrunk into their seats. Henry’s fellow reports jerked their heads around, many in fear, a few in admiration, and one of them—Tom Nashe from the New York Independent—rose and, grabbing Henry by the elbow, went with him up the aisle to the exit doors, saying, “Good job, my friend, but let’s get the Hell out of this insane place.” As they were going out they heard the wanna-be dictator spouting, “No cause for alarm, folks. We get these selfish idiots every once in a while. They have no sense, as all of you do, of their public responsibilities and only cause chaos with their un-thinking, attention-seeking behavior. This is not a time for ill-considered judgments and capitalistic, emotional rants, but for calm, considerate and collective co-operation as we march into a new world of equality for all!”

But the Phony President did not get the response he felt sure he would get. For, while many leftists hysterically applauded, others argued with and shouted at each other, and many on the right began standing up and leaving their seats, walking silently up the aisles. The scarecrow, out of control, began screeching, “Losers! Losers! Losers!”

Henry had started something.

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Practice Makes Perfect

Over the candlelight Jeff looked into the brown bold eyes of Juanita and, raising a cup of coffee, said, “To you, my love, to your love of truth, to your hard work and your un-surrendering spirit.” Her red lips gleamed in a smile as she saw his blue eyes brighten and darken. Then she lifted her empty cup to his, and as he poured half of the black liquid into it she softly sang, “From thee to me I take to drink, but always for myself I think.” His lips tightened, which for him was a smile, and then, as the hate-rant of the raster down the hallway faintly filled their ears, they quickly drank, then walked together out of the run-down apartment.

Past the litter of empty bags of chips and broken glass, past the old rusty weeds and the brash new ones shouting up through the sidewalk, past the nasty slumping youths on the corner who spat obscenities at them, they walked calmly along in their invisible shield of love. Juanita wore a long, shapeless dull green skirt, so that her beautiful legs wouldn’t show. Jeff wore an old oversized jacket so that the gun
under his left armpit wouldn’t show. They crossed town out of the ghetto into the prosperous part of town and as they passed the bright jewelry store and sparkling restaurant windows their hands touched and clasped and swung.

As they entered the Timeless Art Museum they heard a shot, then another, and then screams and shouts. Jeff pushed Juanita back outside and behind a large bush along the wall and said, “Kneel down! Stay there! Don’t move!” Then he drew out his gun and re-entered the building.

There were two of them, each wearing black clothing and black masks. They had assault rifles and were ordering scared and crying people to lie down on the marble floor. Jeff ran behind a large pillar just as one of them saw him and fired. Jeff yelled out, as if he had been hit, then rolled over to the other side of the pillar on his stomach, aimed , and squeezed. The beast went down. The other thing grabbed an old woman off the floor and, holding her in front of him, shouted, “Throw down your gun or I will kill her!”

Just then Juanita walked in, calm, cool, collected, her right hand hidden in a fold of her dull green skirt. Jeff was on the floor to her right, about twenty feet away. The savage and his hostage were about forty feet in front of her. Some ten feet behind the savage stood a magnificent statue of a boy with a slingshot. She walked slowly and steadily straight ahead while saying, “Why don’t you let the old woman go? Take me as a hostage instead.” He replied, “Tell white boy to throw his gun away first.”
Juanita looked back at Jeff and winked with her right eye, then roughly said, “Do as he says, you white trash you.” Jeff wasn’t sure what she had in mind, but he tossed his gun clattering over the floor.

The evil thing in black pushed the old woman out of the way, and was swinging his rifle around to train it on Jeff, when Juanita’s right hand rose and flashed! He never had a chance. The long knife quivered in his throat as a few wild bullets spat out of his gun and he fell into oblivion.

Much later, back in her apartment, Jeff asked, “Where did you learn to throw a knife like that?” With her lips to his ear she whispered, “From Ayn Rand I learned the love of truth and the love of action in defense of the good. When I am not sculpting I practice a lot.” Jeff held her back by her shoulders, his eyes narrowing, then took her right hand and pressed it to his tight’ning lips.

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Over the candlelight he watched her flickering green-gray eyes as they took in his eyes of shimmering black/blue. The slightest of feathery airs set a-tremble a slender gold lock on her forehead and a thicker black one on his. With his right hand he solemnly raised a narrow curving glass of golden liquid above the flame and softly said, “To you, your Majesty, most beautiful Queen of the Kingdom of my supreme love and unquenchable admiration.”

She, too, slowly and steadily raised her glass, her fingers glowing gold, and said, “To you, my prince, my hero, my most high King, my one life’s Lover forever.”

Then their two glasses ever so lightly touched with a silent “ting” that echoed in their minds like an undying song, and they slowly drank, holding the taking glory of each other’s eyes.

This was not the beginning of their love, but a symbol of its consummation, which was yet to come. This was not the beginning of their lives together, but the first expressed triumph of their dreams made real. This was what it was to be truly born again, as integrity met and mingled with integrity—born again in the lifted continuity of their love-of-life, in a re-charging of the batteries of their individualized endeavors, of their selfish aims and achievements. It was the religion of “we” as it can only truly be realized—in the worship of one for one other, and of that other for that one.

From across the way, through the open window, came the sweet sound of a violin as a neighbor was playing a Viennese waltz. The King rose and said, “Let us dance.” Across the room they slowly whirled, then spun out on to the wide balcony. The full moon shone, the whole city glowed, and their faces reflected their faces.

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Nefer Forever!

On the island of Nefer lived a hundred people. They had lived there for five years, the survivors of a shipwreck.

The island was quite nice for an island; it had a goodly portion of arable land, a plentiful mixture of soft-and-hard-wood trees, as well as a numerous variety of tasty (when cooked) wild animals. There were fierce storms in the winter, but the winters were short, and the topography consisted of a very high snow-capped mountain, lovely rolling hills, and a few valleys with rushing streams.

Now, as men and women are vastly different in their abilities, it turned out that some individuals and families were living in big, fine houses, on big plots of land, while many lived in houses half the size, and a few lived in smaller still. Some had fine clothing made by themselves out of various pelts and skins, while others wore the skimpiest grasses, which were fast to wear out. Some had always the best of wild boar meat, while others had mostly fish and clams. Some made up their own songs and played them on their newly-devised instruments, while others copied them and followed along as best they could. But, while some had more and bigger and better things and some had less, even much less, everyone seemed to be content and happy. Each was satisfied that he had done, and was doing, his very best to satisfy his or her needs and desires.

One day a stranger washed up on shore. He looked miserable with his scraggy beard and his face marked with deep lines of bitterness. But he was given something to eat, a barn to sleep in, and told where he might apply for work as a field hand. After a few days of, at best, mediocre work, when he had seen how differently the people lived (as he categorized them—the rich and the poor) he went up to a big land-owner and said, “Look at how poorly all those people are living over there on the south bank. Don’t you feel guilty for having so much while they have so little?”

The big land-owner replied, “No. I don’t feel guilty at all. In fact, I’m very happy. Why don’t you go and talk to them and see if they’re as miserable as you think they are?”

The bitter man scowled and retorted, “Why, you’re nothing but a selfish exploiter! There’s going to be some changes around here! There’s going to be justice!”

He then walked angrily away and down to the “poor” south bank. As he got to the first little cabin he stopped, for from within came the sounds of the happiest singing. He moodily went on the second dwelling, no more than a shack, and heard the sweetest laughter of children, at which he shuddered. Finally, at the third, and smaller place, there was silence, all the curtains were drawn down and he gleefully imagined a poor man or woman sitting lonely and defeated.

He walked up to the shabby wooden door and knocked ever so gently, then waited. He heard a few light-as-feather steps and then the door opened. He was aware of nothing but the proudest, serenest brow on the face of the happiest man he had ever seen! The smiling and powerful, widely-spaced eyes seemed to look right through and all around, and even in back of him. Then the beautifully-sculptured lips spoke. “I think you have come to the wrong place. This is my studio and I am in the middle of painting a great, joyous masterpiece. I have no time to spare for your misery.” And with that this heroic being stepped back and firmly shut the door.

The defeated man scuffled away, cursing at his bad luck, cursing all happiness, cursing the whole world. Then, as he turned a corner, hope sprang in his breast. Just a few paces away tottered an old man on a wobbly cane. His hair was gray, his gnarled hands splotchy with purple; his leafy jacket worn through at the elbows. And, best of all (to the bitter man), he seemed top be moaning. Over and over he moaned, now higher, and now a little lower and drawn out.

The bitter man put on his best comforting, pitying smile and said, as he approached the old-timer, “Hey there, old man, don’t feel do bad. I know those rich bastards have everything, but with the pure spirit of altruism we can bring them down! Let me give you my arm and I’ll help you along.”

The old man turned slowly around and fixed on him two coal-black penetrating eyes. In a deep, rough voice he said, “You can’t help me do a thing. I’m composing my first symphony and I can’t quite get it right. But only I can get it and I want none of your blasted help. I’m helping myself and it’s all the help I want. Now go back where you came from!”

The bitter man turned and ran; he ran to the shore, stole someone’s boat and paddled wildly through the waves. The next day the boat came drifting back, empty. Its owner saw it coming in and smiled. And all was A-Okay on the isle of Nefer.

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Song of the Individual

I am the sum total of my life,
The inner core and outer boundary of my being,
The start and the end of all I know,
The whole meaning of me.

None can lower or raise the special essence of what I am;
While I exist none can change one particle of me.
I am what I am, my own splendid creation,
Forever and forever, until I die.

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Cain and Abel

Abel said to Cain, “I believe in God; don’t you?” Cain replied, “I don’t BELIEVE in anything.”

“What?” shouted Abel, “You don’t believe in ANYTHING?!”

Cain said, “Let me make myself clear. I do no BELIEVE in things; that is, I do not accept that certain statements are true or that certain proffered things exist without there being some evidence for the statement or thing. Further, I reject the very wording of your assertion. It is that phrase—believe in—which gets us off on the wrong foot by sliding slyly away from the truth of your state of mind.

“Now, if you had said, ‘I wishfully think that there is a god’ I would have replied that “I do not wishfully think so” and our discussion would be at an end, all nice and tidy. Or, you might have gone on, ‘But how can you reject wishful thinking? Isn’t it the source of all knowledge and morality?’ To which I would have said, ‘Prove it.’ If then you responded, ‘Proof doesn’t count; it’s what I feel that counts,’ I would have answered, ‘Not to me.’ If you then picked up a rock to throw at me, to enforce the so-called truth of your feelings, I would have had to kill you. And that would be that.”

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Simply This

I love you more, more than anything;
I love you less than naught.

I love you sure, sure, sure.

Through all my thoughts you run and skip and leap;
Your laughter sinks, sinks into me deep.

You turn about, a pen within your hand;
My breath leaves, just spins away.
Up to your desk you march to write your stand—
Conclusion of your thinking nowise gray.

The admiration that I feel is more, more than anything,
And I am braced to face another day.

The world awaits your message, I am sure,
Though many love not truth, there’s many do.
And yet, if none should listen to your logic pure,
I’ll know my guardian of your mind is you.

No wings you have to waft you through the skies,
No crown of gold on your sweet head to gleam,
But always you’re aloft within mine eyes,
A shining simple woman who’s no dream.

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