Shuffling into the office at the Institute for Anthropological Research, the smell of musty, acrid yellow-paged tomes filled my nostrils. My flat-soled penny loafers skid over the linoleum tile as my cumbersome feet sought to find the ground beneath me after each step. In my right hand, a tripod walker guided me in to see my colleagues, Ray and Laura, who were sitting on opposite sides of the room pecking away on their laptops.
A slab of light peeked through the windowshades onto Laura’s glasses, which tinted for a moment as she turned and rose, an amiable smile hung awkwardly on her cherubic face. A shaggy black-haired professor dressed in an olive green turtleneck sweater followed suit soon after her. It was Ray.
“Michael!” they burst as I set down my half-filled Saddleback book bag on an oaken table. They came to give me a hug, but I had to wave them off, lest I fell once again.
“Please, please,” I made out, “I’m a little precarious on my feet, so forgive me for taking a raincheck on the hearty embraces.”
“Of course,” Laura said with a half-smile on her face, not personally hurt so much as wounded at seeing me in such a dilapidated state.
“Before we continue further, I’d like to talk to both of you,” I said, and detected a bit of trembling in my voice. “Do sit down.”
We all took a seat around a lowered round table, surrounded by shiny black upholstered couches.
“May I get you some chamomile tea?” Ray asked in polite upspeak.
“No… thank you,” I answered, wanting to get right to the point. “What can you tell me about what happened before — the accident?”
“Why, that was nearly eleven years ago,” Laura said, and then stopped for a moment to think. “It was right after the Patriot Act was signed…”
“After the September 11th attacks?” I asked to confirm.
“Yes, that’s right,” Laura answered and exchanged a strange glance with Ray. “We were talking in the faculty lounge…”
“And I passed out, right?” I asked, pressing to get to any new insight on what happened.
“Why, yes…” she answered tersely.
“It seems to me we were arguing about the former president… Bush. Is that right?” I probed eagerly. They silently nodded their heads.
I stopped and looked at my vein-covered hands. They were already beginning to shake. A bird flew near the window and landed on the sill outside. Pausing for a moment to collect my thoughts, I heard the birds’ wings flap as the creature flitted away.
“I’ve been doing some thinking about that. What if I came out and told you right now that I don’t support the president?”
“Who, Bush?” Ray asked with a laugh. “That’s fine, we don’t support him, either.”
“No,” I stated flatly. “That president has long left office. Unfortunately, his policies are still here. And perhaps even worse.”
“Why, take it easy, Mike,” Laura said with a tender tone of voice, leaning forward to pat my shoulder. “We know it’s been hard, especially since Rebecca left…”
“Leave my ex-wife out of this,” I retorted, barely controlling the strain in my voice at her suggestion. “What about the wars? The debt spending? The violations of civil liberties? Everything we complained about so hotly before the accident? Has anything changed? Why can’t you just respond to what I’ve said? ”
“But, Michael,” Ray responded, “don’t be absurd. We know what happened to you after you awoke from your coma. We know there must have been a lot of stress. We’re willing to put all that behind us. Forge ahead on new ground. We wouldn’t want you to overheat again and pass out…”
“Look,” I stated, now realizing that these people’s opinions were not what mattered any longer, but the integrity of my mind. I had to detach. “This isn’t about me. I just wanted to know what you thought of me not liking where things are going in this country, in the White House, in this college?”
“Well, I don’t know what to say to that, Michael,” Laura replied in a concerned manner, obviously greatly offended. “What has gotten into you? It’s like we don’t know you anymore.”
“I’m tired of feeling ashamed for having my own thoughts, my own mind,” I said.
“Michael,” Laura intoned with her pleading brown eyes. “If you don’t like it here, then maybe you’re not ready to come back. We can talk to the Chair, Dr. Warner, about getting you some sabbatical time…”
“There won’t be any need for that,” I said shortly. “You’ll have my resignation instead.”
The two gasped in shock at the sight of a man rejecting them, turning down their precious offer, burning his career to ashes in the process. They didn’t know whether to condemn him or admire him.
“You leave now, Mike,” Ray said in a cautionary hush, “And we can’t promise we’ll help you come back.”
“I don’t expect you to,” came my firm reply. “Rachel and I are moving to the country. We’re going to buy a nice little vineyard in the Napa valley. I’m going to work all day in the fields and write books about the intellectual dishonesty of academia at night.”
“Oh, c’mon,” Ray asked with a broad smile. “Really, Michael? You come out of the looney bin and can’t adjust to the rigors of academic life, and so you’re going to lash out at us? Because we don’t concur with your every statement? You really have lost it.”
“Maybe so, Ray,” I finally answered, a soothing sense of calm coming over me. “But know I’ll never be held captive to your subjective standards of right and wrong ever again. The irrational group think, the smarmy artificiality, the trifling courtesies, the dry, dusty hell of shared communion among the pathetic disciples of this shopworn liberal religion… you can keep it. I would rather get my hands dirty in the fields than soil my conscience among the meek and pliant intellects I see all around me. Succeed or fail, it will be up to me, and not up to you.”
With that, Rachel appeared at the door, the same charming, mysterious smile on her face that she wore the day I first met her. Out of her nurse’s clothes for good and into her civilian slacks and sweater, the red-haired beauty appeared eager to be on her way. Off into the California sunset, off into the unknown tomorrow where our own vitality and lust for life were the only limits. We were off to see our gorgeous destiny together — brilliant, sunny and glorious — and we pitied the poor bastards who dared to stand in our way.
Author’s note: The above is satire. It is a fictional account intended to elucidate certain ideas and principles by taking them to absurd lengths. It is not intended to be taken literally. This is the fifth and last of a five-part series. Previous installments can be found in “Related Posts.”
Kyle Becker blogs at RogueGovernment, and can be followed on Twitter as @RogueOperator1. He writes freelance for several publications, including American Thinker and BeatObamaPac, and is a regular commentator on the late night talk show TB-TV.