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The Deputy Assistant has died for an analogy. Some will recall four years ago his boss, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, boldly revived the discredited effort to eradicate polio from the provinces west and south of the capital—bold because several children had been paralyzed by the vaccine given to protect them. Those precious souls with their bent frames were the statistical necessity of a cure for the world, but they were pathetic, and no matter what the Deputy Assistant said, their parents were impossible to answer. For several seasons after that, whole provinces of five-year-olds had closed their mouths against the disreputable sugar cube. An ambivalent man might have been daunted; instead, the Minister wept for an audience at the new sanitation plant, but warned that an excess of love for the stricken few unfortunates would cripple thousands of children. His Deputy was moved as well but understood the numbers better. Only one child would be stricken for every three million successfully dosed. “It is as if,” he told the Minister, and the comment has cost him his life, “to banish the scourge to oblivion, you sacrificed your three sons.” The details of how he fulfilled his accidental prophecy are appalling, and there is evidence he tried to sabotage it, but the clarity of the plan is as strict as a gem. In the capital today, the Deputy Assistant has eaten a phosphine tablet and died. The job is two-thirds done now, new cases are rare, and the Minister’s third son travels with him to the regions of greatest concern, where skepticism of the vaccine might nullify the nation’s triumph over disease. The boy stands straight and tall alongside his brothers in their chairs, and the locals decide for themselves the extent of the Minister’s nerve.
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Based on a work at davidbdale.wordpress.com.
The children want to learn from me, but not until they know I’m someone with a knowledge. You’ll see at the assembly the moment they turn receptive, at which point you’ll know you’re getting your money’s worth. Read the rest of this entry »
He’s never done me any good, as far as I can tell, nor any harm. I hope He’s as ambivalent about me. We’re at Halloween mass and the children have come as animals from the ark. Read the rest of this entry »
The room is dark and smells of disinfected pee with a hint of vanilla. Eleanor Barney must be here. Most of us have been wheeled into places and parked facing the screen but younger people with red ears are crowded onto folding chairs, noisy with outdoor talk, coats in their laps. Read the rest of this entry »
Hello, we’re the Fishes. Welcome to our ambivalent home. Ha. One of our little jokes, meant to make you more comfortable. Okay. Let’s start in Michael’s room. Read the rest of this entry »