Friday, July 30, 2010

Nineteen Eighty-Two

Note to reader: The following satirical parable is a shameless rip-off of George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty Four, except that rather than being set in a fictional distopian state, it is set in the year 1982, in Chile.

WARNING: The following satirical parable contains adult themes, suggestive depictions of violence, and graphic depictions of hierarchist sexual degeneracy.

Nineteen Eighty-Two: A Satirical Parable

Vincente descended the back steps of the hospital operated by the Ministry of Justice. His job as a medical sampler had been described to him as that of ascertaining a the health of a cross-section of Chilean society, and indeed he encountered a range of individuals as diverse as hovel-squatters and middle class students. Though the clientele of the el Hospital de Justicia seemed unusually frightened for people who were being paid a small pittance for their medical information, perhaps it was the situation of needing such an offering that seemed to have them ill at ease when Vincente took their vital signs or in their needing to be restrained to a gurney in order to assure the safety of the medical workers in case the patient were rendered mad by any of the diseases of the streets. Then when his work was done, they were wheeled away, and he proceeded to his next patient.

Regardless, their unease left Vincente unsettled at the end of his shift. His youthful idealism left him wishing that he could do more for them on behalf of the government, so a week before, he had decided to help at a local soup kitchens to provide a greater sense of purpose. It was a significant walking distance from el Hospital to the soup kitchen, but Vincente looked forward to the grateful faces there through the whole trek. The anticipation blotted out the looks of dread that he encountered all day at work.

Vincente entered the kitchen, took his apron and greeted Julia who was in charge of the preparation line. "Hola Vincente" she said cheerfully. She was an attractive girl, who was always very friendly, though she had a great seriousness about her too. Julia often talked with Vincente, but never descended into the frivolity of outright flirtation. This evening though was somewhat different, as he caught her glancing in his direction a few times. After the shift was over, Julia caught hold of arm as he was leaving and pulled him aside. Her lovely brown eyes penetrated his as she asked, "will you come to my apartment"

Vincente wasn't sure what to expect as they made the half-block scurry toward her building. She stopped him in her doorway and her eyes looked around the alleyway, and then into his eyes again. "You seem like someone I can trust," she said, her eyes searching his "are you?"
"Yes. You can" he said more confidently than he felt. She opened the door and entered. The apartment was spartan but tidy. Between the cracked plaster walls there lay three small mattresses with shabby blankets on top. Julia tugged his hand toward one of them and sat down. Vincente nervously sat as well.

"My roommates are out for the evening" she said. "we can be alone for a couple of hours. she leaned in toward him, and they kissed. This continued for several minutes, then she pulled back the coarse wool top blanket and the thin flannel one beneath, and they nestled under the covers in the smell of her having slept in them.

Two hours later, Vincente hurried along the streets to his own apartment, eager to arrive before curfew came. But as he passed a few blocks from the city square, he heard the chants and racket of a crowd. His mind altered from its normal meekness by the days events, he hesitated long enough to glimpse the scene from some distance around the corner of a building. Gaunt silhouettes pushing one way or another against stocky armored police. Had he been at home and listening to his radio, he would have heard of the civic unrest, and would have known to remain safely indoors.

Vincente was distracted from the scene by the telltale sound of metal treads approaching behind him. Turning, he spotted a convoy of some sort rumbling closer. He scurried a few feet down the alley, and hid himself behind a pile of garbage. He peered out as a line of armored personnel carriers moved past. After they disappeared from sight and the rumble of their treads grew fainter and then stopped, the pitch of the crowd changed. Curiousity overcame self-preservation as he ventured gingerly to the corner that he had peered around before. Water from some of the armored vehicles was spraying the crowd. Vincente quickly surveyed the street behind him for soldiers or police or any other witnesses, but there were none. He turned back to the crowd, as the water stopped suddenly. Then a mist was sprayed forth from other armored vehicles and settled onto the remaining protesters. Suddenly Vincente's good sense returned, and he resumed again the hurried retreat to his home, as screams of agony echoed from the city square.

The next day, Vincente's mind was on the happenings of the previous night, as he went through the motions of work even more mechanically than normal. At the soup kitchen Julia didn't greet him. He spotted her though as she directed the volunteers on the preparation line. Her hair was much shorter and crudely cut, and her face was not merely serious but sullen. She caught his gaze, but glanced away quickly. About halfway through the shift, she touched his forearm and handed him a note. He found time to open it a bit later. It began:

"My roommates have not returned. I am afraid to return home. I am staying at the shelter that the Sisters run..."

The voice of another volunteer interrupted his reading; "I need that bread!" Vincente quickly half-folded the note, and thrust it into his pocket. He didn't know who he could trust. When he had his next spare moment, he decided to forgo reading the remainder and instead used the time to conceal the note in the top of his sock. When he arrived home, he finally dared to read the remainder of the note:

"There isn't room for my personal items at the shelter. I have left them in a duffel bag beside the bread flour. There are some books in English that my American father left me. If you can hold them for me, I will be very grateful, but if you feel that you cannot keep them safely, please dispose of them."

Vincente was immensely regretful that he had waited to read the note, but resolved to return to the soup kitchen the moment that curfew lifted in the morning. When he arrived at the soup kitchen, he found the back door unlocked much to his relief. He entered quietly and made his way to the store-room. At last he clutched the denim straps of the duffel, and lifted it, turning toward the door only to find a nun standing in his path. Her facial features muted and innocent looking--The rest of her form was concealed beneath her habit. "Are you here to work young man?" She asked, though she was about the same age as he.

"I'm sorry, no..." replied Vincente "I just left this here last night. I'm off to work my day-job at this moment."

"And, where would that be?" inquired the nun.

"I'm a nurse at le Hospital de Justicia" he replied

"What do you suppose the Ministry of Justice requires of nurses... or a hospital for that matter?"

"Um... I suppose for insuring social justice..." Vincente stammered. The nun flashed an ironic smirk that changed immediately to a sorrowful look.

"Social Justice?" she shook her head "Pinochet has no concept of SOCIAL justice!"

"I'm running late... I'd better go then." said Vincente shakenly, as he made his was toward the door. The nun didn't step aside, but allowed him to slither past.

Indeed Vincente had taken more time than he had anticipated. He wouldn't be able to return to his apartment before reporting to work, but would instead have to take the bag to work with him and deposit it in his storage locker. He fought with himself about whether he should discard the bag en route, but he reasoned that he might be spotted and that would draw even more suspicion than merely arriving with it and acting as if it were the most natural thing. Of course stronger still, was his curiosity--his need to know what secrets to Julia's behavior might be found inside that bag. He had no problem entering the premises without suspicion and though he nervously fumbled the lock to his locker, he was able to deposit it unnoticed.

The day proceeded relatively routinely, but Vincente still couldn't quite blot the images of the civil unrest from the other night from his mind... or the fearful and disguised appearance of Julia... or the words of the stern nun; "What do you suppose the Ministry of Justice requires of nurses... or a hospital for that matter... Pinochet has no concept of SOCIAL justice!" Vincente pondered that question at some length, especially in the context of the riot police, and Julia's friends disappearing. Then, that afternoon, he would be startled out of his mental wrestling by the events of his work itself. There, waiting for her blood pressure and blood sugar, and heart rate to be tested was Julia, restrained to the gurney.

"Jul--?" he began to inquire, but she clenched her lips together and shook her head. Another technician looked up from his station, but didn't seem to take much interest in the muted exchange. Vincente went about his task, and then Julia was wheeled away like all the rest. He felt sickened by fear now, as if pieces of a puzzle were coming together in his mind. His heart beat faster than normal. He was sweating. Though the day was nearly complete, he couldn't bear the though of standing for the next hour and a quarter. He toughed it out through the next patient, and then excused himself for a bathroom break. He ran cold water and splashed it on his face. He dried himself and returned to work his final hour.

Work concluded, he changed his scrubs, and made his way the back door with duffel in hand. "Off to your charity work, Vincent?" interrupted the voice of a tall, bald, pale-skinned man in a long lab-coat. Vincent had seen the doctor before, but didn't know his name, or for that matter how the doctor knew his. "There is an opportunity for promotion available. I am looking for an assistant," The doctor said, "why don't you come this way with me." Vincent peered toward the back door. There was an armed guard there, which was out of the ordinary. If indeed they were on to him, there would be no getting past him. Vincent's best hope was to comply with the doctor for now.

"It's an honor, Doctor...?" Vincent charmingly inquired. Doing his best to stomach the fear that was wracking his nerves.

"Randborn," said the doctor cracking a brief half smile, "right this way" Vincent was lead through the doctors' entrance hallway. What appeared to be a wall of mirrors from the technicians lab where Vincente worked was actually smoked glass, and he could now see all that was occurring in the lab. They then proceeded to a set of doors adjacent to those on the other side of the smoked glass through which all the patients were wheeled.

"Do leave your bag here, and take a coat," Vincent nervously left the bag by a rack of lab coats and followed Randborn through the double-doors. Randborn continued, "Back here is where the really important work takes place, so I'm sure that an enterprising fellow such as yourself will wind up here eventually. No?"

"What sort of work is that?" asked Vincente with a genuine mixture of curiosity and apprehension. They approached a row of windows. Each of the windows had a curtain on the outside. the first few were empty and the curtain was open revealing a gray concrete room with a metal examination chair.

"As the name would suggest, we are here employed in the ministry of executing justice." Randborn passed two closed curtains, and opened the third. "Observe here. This young lady was involved in the insurrection the other night. Did you hear about that on the radio" There was the lith nude figure of a woman of about twenty restrained in the lithotomy position. Vincente felt a chemical surge within his body in spite of himself. He did his best to quell it with a scarcely-existent guilt. Randborn continued his oratory, "She was raised middle class it seems. Despite their obvious superiority to the lower classes in every other regard the middle class individual doesn't have much of a stomach for suffering the mildest unpleasantness. Though almost anybody can stomach inflicting it either directly or through their social order. Through some rather mild coercion, she gave up the name of her roommate here" he pulled the next curtain aside revealing Julia, Who was similarly bound up.

Vincente felt no surge but indignation, for he cared for this girl and had felt her tenderness. She saw him there in his lab coat, but he could not reveal himself to Randborn by hiding his face from her or reacting in any way. A look of confused anguish crossed her face and tears ran from her eyes, as Randborn closed the curtain "Now we think this young lady is completely innocent, but we will leave her in suspense for a bit longer, in case she is made useful again, but then she will be free to go. After all, she confessed immediately to having subversive materials written in English. But then, we think she is covering for someone... perhaps a lover...?" Randborn pulled back another curtain. Inside was a lovely creamy skinned blond woman, trussed up in the same fashion as the rest. "...or," Randborn continued, "perhaps she is covering for a foreign friend. We are still sorting this out." Vincente saw the face of this latest young woman, and realized she was the nun he had met that morning. Her innocent features became twisted in anger as she recognized him.

"Do you read English, Vincente?" Randborn asked as he moved away from the window, leaving it open. Vincente was sure that Randborn knew the answer. He knew them all.

"Yes, a bit" he replied, nodding.

"Right, of course you do. You, WERE raised in the middle class after all, no?" Randborn said almost as if an accusation.

"That's right" Replied Vincente. Randborn produce a small book from the pocket of his lab coat.

"Then perhaps you'd like to read this passage from..." reading the cover, "...The writings of Thomas Jefferson... the passage is marked there," Randborn then opened it to a marked page.

"Um... sure... 'The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on. If for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be provided to those excluded from the appropriation.'"

"And is that what you believe?" Randborn interrupted, cocking an eyebrow inquisitively.

"I haven't read that before. I haven't read anything in English since university..." began Vincente as Randborn pulled the book from his grasp, and turned to another marked page.

"Does this passage ring a bell; 'The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all'?"

"Sir, I haven't read it! I don't even know who Thomas Jefferson is!"

"Then why own the book?!"

"I don't own it!"

"It was found in your locker this morning, and it has been examined for subversive content. There are several more passages..."

"I was looking after the bag for a friend! This girl in the middle. She works in the soup kitchen with me."

"Hasn't anyone warned you about the soup kitchens?! That they are dens of leftist subversion?! They try to thwart the natural order by preserving the weak. The try to cheat the grave of it's due. The help to dilute the gene pool with simpering wretches who waste the oxygen that the fit could be breathing instead--dragging them down like so many crabs in a bucket. The strong teem with virile energy to conquer and to possess and to domineer and to ravage. Our cause is to improve our nation! To improve the human race, by purifying fire, by winnowing the chaff! By letting evolution take its natural course!"

"The nurturing instinct will be eliminated. Procreation will be reduced to a market function; a mere exchange of commodities. We shall abolish intimacy. Our economists are at work upon it now. There will be no love except for the love of acquisition. There will be no laughter except the laugh of domination. There will be no devotion except the excitement of fetish. Mankind will return to the divine simplicity of Eden; the exchange of bone for flesh. The symbol of the future shall be an invisible hand holding down a human neck forever"

"You know what I believe happened" Randborn said as calm returned to his reddened face "I think that the American subversive set you up. Why do you suppose a pretty thing like that became a nun? Why, because she hates men of course, and all things of a manly nature. Isn't that the way she treated you this morning. Made you stammer?! Humiliated you?! Of course that is why... why she passed that note for you to pretty Julia. Why she used the duffel to take the trail off of her and her do-gooding subversive lot. See her face?! She hates you without knowing you. Because you did the natural thing all along. Worked here. Helped subject others to untold unpleasantness, so that you could enjoy your relative comfort of respectable employment. Did penitence for the guilt you thought you should feel. She could see through you. So could Julia. She could sense your virility straining for its liberation. How could she resist the force of nature?!"

"Be glad that we are judicious and understand this situation. Weaker stock might have been fooled by such a cheap charade. You may have been misled at university. They may have tried to suppress your virility, but your stock does not lie. You felt it when you saw our first firm young prisoner here, did you not? Free yourself and help me expose the twisted plot of our soup kitchen matron, here. Lets give her a reason to hate you, yes?!" Vincente nodded after Randborn had finished, and he obediently followed him down the hall and through the entrance to the cell block.

The End



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"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men: Therefore the people alone have an incontestible unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it." -- Constitution of Massachusettes (1780)