Friday, 27 January 2017

A Threat To Investment

He was feverish, sweating profusely and convulsing.

In his febrile sleeping visions, he saw a figure approach a podium.  An elderly man in a long, black flowing ceremonial robe – the master of ceremonies – held out a bible to the mysterious, hooded figure.  The small crowd in attendance was hushed in anticipation.  Whatever they expected had thus far not happened. 
Snipers perched on every high surface and platform, nervously checking their sights.  Police in riot gear and black uniforms kept tight control of the crowd, penning them into a small enclosure.  The tension in the air was palpable; and, yet, for all the pomp and circumstance, carefully stage-managed ritual and enhanced security measures, it seemed the real action was elsewhere.
The master of ceremonies drawled an incantation for the hooded man to repeat.  Some of it was inaudible; some was unintelligible, a guttural language he did not understand.  (Did this language exist anywhere outside the man’s unconscious mind?  Who knows how dreams work?)  He gathered only snatches, as familiar phrases formed part of the drawl:
“…uphold the constitution…so help me god…for the bald eagle flying over the baseball field…live long and prosper…I am not a crook…no new taxes…economy, stupid…disorder anywhere is a threat to order everywhere…for the glory of the holy roman empire, on which the sun never sets…we are one nation, one body, one mind…ooh, heaven is a place on earth.”
Through the dulled senses of his dreams, however, one vignette stood out:
“A threat to investment anywhere is a threat to investment everywhere.”
The hooded man – the candidate – repeated:
“A threat to investment anywhere is a threat to investment everywhere.”
After making this solemn vow, the master of ceremonies motioned to the candidate to lower his hood. 
The crowd gasped as the candidate’s face was revealed.
It was…
…fairly normal. 
Just a normal, human face.  This, apparently, wasn’t what anyone was expecting.  Cries of joy erupted from some in the crowd.  Others were simply confused.
At just that moment, an explosion rocked the platform on which the ceremony took place.  No one could see where it had come from, but it sounded far away.
The crowd, police, snipers, private security personnel and visiting dignitaries watching from around the dais were stunned into silence.  Just as private security teams raised their clubs and snipers twitched fingers on triggers, the candidate rose above the master of ceremonies, climbing him like a ladder, until he stood on his shoulders.  He had no microphone, but all those present heard clearly as he called out:
The candidate – now becoming the ruler – grabbed the cloak of the master of ceremonies, and raised it up.  Underneath was only empty space.  As the cloak fell away and the master of ceremonies disappeared, the ruler’s visage changed, and he appeared suddenly as a skeletal figure, rising and swooping above the crowd, and called out again:
Finally, he dreamed of skeletal fingers closing around his throat and woke with a start.
After washing and settling his jangled nerves with a light breakfast, he headed out into the street.  He was troubled by his dream, wondering how much of it, if any at all, related to real-world events.  Surely none.  Surely to god. 
Although he still looked like most of the people in his neighbourhood, he felt distant from them, somehow.  He struggled to shake this feeling as he walked to the store.
At the corner of his street, a man stood shouting at no one in particular.  He was dressed in the manner befitting a man standing on a street corner, shouting at traffic.
“They scared of us!  They so scared of us, they comin out in the open to do their evil deeds!” the man – the preacher – declared. Loud enough for anyone to hear, but without shouting.  His speech was impassioned, yet he remained outwardly calm, his bright, glinting eyes the only visible sign of internal struggle. 
“They ain’t even usin no proxies, no clients.  The merchants and financiers are running the government!  The actual people, not through clients or candidates they’ve bought.  They ain’t even tryin to hide no more – and why?  Because they scared!  They so scared o us they done stepped out o the shadows and fired their political representation!  They takin direct rule – They ain’t gone do that ‘less they threatened by sump’n.  And who the threat?  Who you think?  US!  WE the threat.  The governed always be the biggest threat to the governors.”
He shuffled past the preacher with his usual pitying half-smile.  But the preacher’s next utterance made him stop in his tracks:
“A threat to investment anywhere is a threat to investment everywhere!  The little emperor can stamp his feet all he wants, but the façade is crumbling, and e’yone can see it, it’s too late to stop it, even with the biggest military machine in history.”
He stopped, shocked into silence.  Turning back to the preacher, he asked: “what does that mean?”
The preacher continued, seemingly unaware of his question:
“Popular movements have become irresistible so they managed and supported one that suited them – a group easier to manipulate, that wasn’t threatenin their control and their business interests so much – one that’s led by a clown who don’t care about anyone but himself!  He can be managed, even if his supporters can’t!  So now billionaires be funding aid programmes while they get the government to close down they development programmes – then they buy up all the other government services and run it all privately – that’s how they always done it.  But now they got a billionaire in the white house, but he crazy so they don’t trust ‘im, so he just say come on in an run it yo’self.”  It’s cos they was so scared o havin a socialist as a candidate they supported his primary opponent.  Then they just wait for they opportunity – and here it is.”
“Excuse me – “ he began.
“Unity.  We need unity, but to be united we gotta be honest.  We have to understand that human development ain’t a straight line to a goal, that power gives up nothing without a demand, that the bald eagle flying over the baseball field is a myth!”
He tried again: “Excuse me – what does that mean, what you just said – about investment?”
The preacher regarded him for the first time. 
“You said “a threat to investment anywhere is a threat to investment everywhere”.  What does that mean?”
“Well, what you think it mean?”
“I guess…well, I guess it means the same as when Dr King said it about injustice.  So, like, does it mean that to you?”
He tuned out, but stayed, as the preacher ignored his question and continued his homily.  He heard chimes of what the preacher said, but, lost in his own thoughts, he struggled to connect them in his fragile mental state.
 “…power from the streetlight…free at last…livin in the shadows like a government agent…one good thing about music, when it hit you feel no’s empire, tomorrow’s ashes…eyes on the prize…”
Coming back round from his reverie, he interrupted to ask:
“OK, so, where do we go from here?”
“Boy, you just carry on down the street an stop askin foolish questions, go on to the library an leave us here to our conversatin.”
He offered a fist bump.  The preacher shot him a curious look, but joined it – with only a slight condescension, indicated by a tight, reluctant smile. 
He smiled and turned away from the preacher, popping up his collar and squinting in the sunlight as he walked into the wind.


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