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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.
Some of my stuff I want to keep after I’m dead, but Ariel can pick out three things from my toy-box, not three of the same things, like not three ponies, or not even two insects, but a pony and an insect and a piece of furniture would be good, and she can ride my bike when she’s big enough. Read the rest of this entry »
You are not an accident, little one. You were in my care even before you were born. You have a place inside me still and always will. I have big plans for you, little one, plans as grand as galaxies and as unfathomable, but they mean nothing. Read the rest of this entry »
Halfway down the block from where we had just seen Uncle Mickey, Dad stopped the car and sat with his foot on the brake. He’d been crying, I think, Read the rest of this entry »
We sit at a table in The Glade—a room named for the sappy paintings of pastoral scenes on its walls. Their grasses and trees are carefully balanced and in them nothing lurks or lives. Read the rest of this entry »
—Nevertheless you did kill him?
—I was present at his death.
—Present with a knife.
—Mine was not the only hand on that knife.
Read the rest of this entry »
I had no magic as a child. I would have used it if I had, to stop the Boots from kicking me where I hid. Flat against the bedroom floor with the floor of the sky just inches above my nose, I knew no safer, more anonymous place to be, Read the rest of this entry »