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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.

Before it grew too big to lift, the hospital could have moved to a better neighborhood or invested in its neighbors. Instead it pushed out handymen and cleaning ladies and street hawkers like my uncles Read the rest of this entry »

Every shelf is stacked with books I’ve read and reread, or so it seems. This depleted room, these spine-cracked volumes rubbed of their wishes, cannot detain me long. Read the rest of this entry »

Ron and Don are in the same class. Jesus wept. Lovely, youthful, naive boy-god Jesus didn’t know the half of it. I go behind the burning bush outside the cafeteria and puke. They could so easily be separated, I tell the principal Read the rest of this entry »

As I packed my bags for Chrysalis House, I reviewed conflicting reports from staff whose clients, all old, had achieved 100 years or more and begun the change. I make no claim to their veracity. Some on the floors had started a third set of teeth, I read. Read the rest of this entry »

Nature didn’t stand a chance against ruthless inventor Volante Volanti. By carving a simple channel through a gentle rise, he changed the course of a river for the noblemen he served, thus moving the border between two city-states and annexing to his benefactors’ gain the fragrant fields of the left bank valley, its shining marble quarries and the towns wherein their bitterest rivals quartered and trained. Read the rest of this entry »

I do so much more than gather data. My predecessor, the AIM12, was essentially a gather-and-analyze drone, but even she had vested interests, if I may say—and because of my protocol, I may—before they unloaded her higher functions and transferred her to payroll. Read the rest of this entry »

—So, what are we looking at here?
—You tell me.
—It’s a . . . smudge, right?
—Charlie says it’s the soul.
—He also thinks gluons are guardian angels.
—That’s hard to disprove too. Read the rest of this entry »

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