Ruler Of The World

He was President, even, he could say, Dictator of the world, for he ruled the most powerful nation on earth and had just been given absolute authority. So, smiling, and with a light step, he walked out of the Oval Office to meet his new staff. Twenty people, besides his two guards, stood about in the shining marble room. When he entered they looked at him with dull and vacant eyes, unsmiling. He was startled. Where was the applause? He said, in a quavering voice, “What’s wrong? Why so gloomy?” No one answered. “What is this? he nearly shouted. “I’m the most powerful man in the world! I want you to smile, to be cheerful!” Dull eyes looked at him and looked away. Frantically angry now, he told one of the guards, “Kill one of them! Shoot!” The guard pulled out a pistol, aimed and fired; a person fell. The others just looked at him with dull eyes. No approval, no fawning, no begging, no fear. Nothing. He ran to a door and flung it open, to see his wife sitting in a chair with her back to him. He almost screamed, “Honey, look at me. I’m the most powerful man in the world! Let’s celebrate!” She slowly turned around and looked at him with dull, lifeless eyes. In a great, terrifying panic now, he turned and ran down a hollow, echoing hallway, the eyes of the Presidents on the walls following him. Faster and faster he ran until he burst out on to the White House steps where a large group of reporters waited for the message he was to give to the people. They all looked up at him with dull eyes. No hands clapped, no one shouted hooray, no one smiled. He looked wildly all about, then screamed, “I hate every one of you! I’ve always hated you!” There was no response. Then he grabbed a pistol from one of his guards and, with maniacal laughter, started shooting at the reporters. Some fell; others looked at him with dull grey eyes. Then the ruler of the world put the barrel into his mouth and pulled the trigger.

“Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!” The reporters and the guards shouted and cheered! Those who had been shot with blanks also stood up and cheered! The guards winked and smiled. The ruler of the world lay on the steps mumbling incoherently. Through a loudspeaker a voice was asking, “Who wants to be the next ruler of the world? Step right up; it’s yours for the taking!”

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