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The International Writers Magazine: D

The Hour
Daniel Beaudoin
The Hour approaches.
A few deep breaths may do the trick. 

I look around and shift from one foot to the other. As dawn breaks, slivers of light filter through the darkness. I step forward into the cool neon glow that floods the reception area. The sliding doors close behind me with a swoosh. 
 “Six hundred and sixty-six 7:00 A.M. staff meetings to my record,” I remark to myself. A bitch of a belch burns at my chest and the sour aftertaste of 4:00 A.M. coffee creeps to the back of my throat. The eel turns lazily within my bowel, and I clasp at my chest to make sure I haven't overlooked my little orange savior before leaving the barracks.  There it is, lodged safely in the bottom recesses of my uniform shirt pocket. “This time,” I say to my little orange companion,” this time, I will make heaven of this hell without your help."
Only one hour.

Five minutes to go. Our Leader awaits us.

I nod at the sleepy security guards to my left, then stop and hesitate.  Ahead of me the expanse of marble stretches across to the elevators to the other side of the lobby. So delicate this floor, like a sheet of cracking ice. A bell signals the arrival of the lift. I step forward and hurry to join the rest of the group as we cram into the small enclosed space. The doors hiss shut, a short stutter, and up we ride.

The elevator spits us out on the thirty-third floor, and Generations of the Selected Few glare down at us from the framed portraits on either side of the walls. Their eager eyes track our procession as we shuffle down the narrow passage which leads to the Offices of the Wise One. I lag behind and concentrate on my breathing, resisting the urge to reach for my little orange friend; I am short of breath. The group ahead cackles nervously. We halt outside His Offices, and Beatrice, Our Leader’s personal assistant, conducts a ceremonious roll call, and reminds us that we are to sit in our usual seats. She glances at the clock above the door, and when the minute hand strikes 7:00 A.M., ushers us in.
And there he sits.  Our Leader.

His presence fills the room. He looks us over one by one from under his droopy eyelids, slouched in his seat, oozing contempt like crude oil.  I salute and smile, as is expected of an officer, sit myself directly in front of him, and manage what I hope passes as a genuine smile.

You megalomaniac and power crazed shit, brutal manipulator of human sentiment, raper of spirit and pillager of hope. Take a look at yourself you pitiful joke, fumbling your way like a blind beggar through the waste land of your barren soul. I force another grin, and continue my secret discourse. You inflated bag of hot wind, dragging us here at the crack of dawn.

During the course of the meeting, Our Leader first focuses on the sycophantic shit to my left, the guy with the flaccid yellow face of a junkie in rehab. He keeps nodding his head like an ostrich on amphetamines at everything the Enlightened one says, in a desperate attempt to earn his moment in the sun at the expense of the poor sod to my right. I look from left to right and back again and think; may flatterers be steeped in human excrement. The rest of the group sits stiffly in their seats, rigid like toy soldiers perched in electric chairs.  
Next, The Great One turns upon me and in his base voice mumbles a barely audible question.
 “Yes of course sir, you are absolutely right sir, no of course I am not here only to drink coffee, what I meant was……”

Well, what I mean is, open your fucking ears and listen to what I am saying, you primitive moron, you may actually learn something, is what I mean. 

The meeting winds down. The smoldering embers in my stomach cool. I exhale and shift in my seat. The Leader raises the fingers of his right hand. The meeting is over. I had survived the Hour. I rise from my seat, salute the Heap of Ceremonious Trappings of Rank and Panache, and rush out of the door, past Beatrice, past the ogling eyes of the Selected Few and straight into the welcoming arms of the elevator doors.

The expanse of marble is opaque, and the eel nestles peacefully in my intestines. I triumphantly say “told you so” to my little orange pill, proud that I had survived the Hour without his chemical comfort. I stride out onto the lobby floor and the doors whisper shut behind me, the exit at the main entrance almost at arm’s reach. I smile, and step out into the tempestuous light of the summer morning.
© Daniel Beaudoin June 2011

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