July 12, 2006

Paragon’s Prologue (4 of 10)

Thread: Paragon

“I knew your mother had passed on, but you’ve never talked about it…” the senator’s wife said.

The senator shot out the next words as fast as he could, saying, “Caught in the crossfire between government and rebel forces. They hadn’t aimed at her but a random bullet… There was some fuss made over whose bullet it was, but these people shouldn’t have been firing guns at all.”

He paused and an angry, barbed word escaped his lips: “Stupid.”

He continued, “I had to go over there and bring her back for the funeral, Dad just couldn’t. During the flight, I started reading all the articles that Mom had wanted me to read about the conflict, that explained what was going on there. I had kept putting them off because I wasn’t particularly interested in the affairs of some tinpot African regime, but Mom thought it was important for me to know, part of my world wise education. She never knew, of course, that her son would go into politics… and I guess neither did her son. Funny, I felt like I was carrying out her final wish, by reading that battered file full of newspaper cut-outs and magazine clippings.”

Now that he had managed to get past the event of his mother’s passing, the rest of the story was natural and easy. He understood that it was part of his life design; all things come to pass for a reason. He said, “You see, I had thought it was about poverty – that’s all I had thought her missions were about – but I had never really listened to Mom talk about her work halfway round the world. Of course it had to be about the tired left cliché of oil but believe me, oil is simply the catalyst.

“A new reservoir of oil had been discovered in Chad and members of a select government clique had been making themselves rich on it. That utter failure, the World Bank, had tried to ring-fence the proceeds of the oil sales to go to positive projects like hospitals, schools and so forth. When easy money exists, there’s always a way to make yourself rich if you have the strings to pull. One way they got around this was by getting friends to make over-priced bids for the projects and then awarding them the contracts.

“Mom went there to help out the ordinary people during the civil war. You might think this was because the people eventually turned on their leaders – wrong. Now that the president and his cronies were getting rich on the oil, it made others around them jealous. Even members of the president’s own family were willing to take a shot, that’s how bad it got. The World Bank relented on their tight controls and let the president use oil money to buy weapons directly for the purposes of ‘security’ but it was too late. The government splintered and boom, civil war. The ‘rebels’ said it was because the government was corrupt but, frankly, it was because they weren’t getting any of the proceeds of the corruption they were claiming to be protesting about.”

The senator was felt excitement stir in the pit of his stomach as he edged closer to his story’s climax; the tears were gone. He said, “The bilge that pours from the democrat mouthpiece is so constant that I was unable to pick out anything they said which was wisdom. A true fact I had missed: did you know that those African states that have oil actually develop slower than those that don’t? And I thought, if oil did that to Africa, how did we escape its chilling embrace?”

Just like the previous night, he found his words stuck, mired in emotions that wanted to depose rationality. He found himself scared to continue. The right men for the job never take the job because they know the difficulty ahead; they see the troubling details and the Devil that dwells within them. Yet the wrong men take the job in a heartbeat and then bring ruin upon all the people. That was the way of the world. Power attracts the narcissistic. He did not believe the fallacious precept that power corrupts.

His wife rose, glided around the table and knelt down beside him. She said, “Let me finish for you. So you worked out that oil had damaged us as well. And you thought that corporations have been running government for some time. No one can see anything of famine, poverty, faith or love because they’ve got the dollar blindfold wrapped around their head. Your mother’s death was clearly a signal from God that you should get into politics and start fixing things, get things moving. But you’ve been waiting for someone to listen to you for a long time. This is your fork in the road. Do you stop waiting? Or do you force them to listen?”

Her expression was one of importance. This was the greatest decision of their joint life. They were at the nexus that coloured all experience and events; look back, you see cause – look forward, you see purpose.

With an intense gaze that could not be evaded, she said, “Look at you. You’re so beautiful. You will run for President. Whether you succeed or fail, you will ennoble America with ideas that will not be forgotten overnight. This is why I love you. You are both hope and dream. And you are, and always will be, my husband.” There was joy in her face. She was happy to be here, to be here with him, regardless of what they encountered along the turbulent road ahead.

The senator leant towards his wife and embraced her. He was overcome with hope and he was overcome with dream. She accepted his arms and lips with reciprocal, equal love. His heart was pounding like it used to in his teenage years. His emotions were unruly and chaotic; jumbled feelings with no obvious outlet or control valve. Pure love coursed through his veins. His cynicism had been replaced with sturdy, muscular optimism. He believed. He felt holy.

For the first time in their marriage, the senator and his wife made love in the morning. The summer sunlight streamed through the windows, blessing their physical communion.

They did not notice Marion beyond the kitchen door, taking a picture of them with her mobile phone, taking care of her insurance policy for a rainy day.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2123

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